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of benevolence and compassion towards suffering humanity, wherever such dispositions predominate, we canno" but admire the wisdom and benevolence of the Creator, in the appointment of a weekly Jubilee for the rest and refreshment of labourers spent with toil. On this day, the master has an opportunity of divesting his mind of worldly cares and anxieties, the servant of obtaining liberty and respite from his toilsome employments; and labourers of every class, of enjoying repose in the bosom of their families. Such, however, are the avaricious dispositions, and the contracted views of a great proportion of mankind, that they are apt to regard the institution of the Sabbath as an obstruction to the advancement of their worldly interests. They will calculate how much labour has been lost by the rest of one day in seven, and how much wealth might have been gained, had the Sabbath not intervened to interrupt their employments. But all such selfish calculations, even in a worldly point of view, proceed on the principles of a narrow and short-sighted policy. We know by experience, that, on the six days out of seven appointed for labour, all the operations requisite for the cultivation of the fields, and for the manusacture of every useful article for the comfort of mankind, can be performed with ease, and without the least injury to any class of men. And what more could be accomplished, although the Sabbath were converted into a day of labour 7 Were this violation of the divine command to become universal, it might be shown that, instead of producing an increase of wealth, it would infallibly produce an increase of toil and misery in relation to the great mass of mankind, without any corresponding pecuniary compensation. The labouring class at present receive little more wages than is barely sufficient to procure the necessaries of life. If their physical strength would permit them to work eighteen hours a day, instead of twelve, it is beyond a doubt, that, in a very short time, the work of eighteen hours would be demanded by their employers for the price of twelve—particularly in all cases where a sufficient number of labourers can be easily obtained. In like manner, were the Sabbath to be used as a day of labour, the wages of seven days would soon be reduced to what is now given for the labour of six. In the first instance, indeed, before such a change was thoroughly effected, the labouring part of the community would acquire a seventh part more wages every week than they did before; and men unaccustomed to reflection, and who never look beyond a present temporary a 'vantage, would imagine that they had acquired a new resource for increasing their worldly gain. But, in a very short time, when the affairs of the social state were brought to a certain cquilibrium, they would be miserably undeceived; and the abolition of the Sabbath, instead of bringing *long with it an increase of wealth, would carry
in its train an increase of labour, a continued series of toilsonne and unremitting exertions, whi:n would waste their animal powers, cut short the years of their mortal existences, “make therr lives bitter with hard bondage,” and deprive them of some of the sweetest enjoyments which they now possess. And as the sabbath was appointed for the rest of man, so it was also intended as a season of repose for the inferior unimals which labour for our profit. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, northy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, northy maid-servant, northy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates.” This injunction exhibits the compassionate care and tenderness of the Creator in a very amiable and impressive point of view. It shows us, that the enjoyments of the lowest ranks of sensitive existence are not beneath his notice and regard. As he knew what degree of relaxation was necessary for the comfort of the labouring animals, and as he foresaw that the avarice and cruelty of man would endeavour to deprive them of their due repose, so he has secured to them, by a law which is to continue in force so long as the earth endures, the rest of one day in seven in common with their proprietors and superiors. And this privilege they will undoubtedly enjoy hereasier, in a more eminent degree than they have yet done, wen man himself shall be induced to pay a more cordial and unreserved obedience to this divine precept,-when “he shall call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the Lord honourable.” Again, the Sabbath was appointed for man, as a season for pious recollection, and religious contemplation. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Amidst the numerous cares and laborious employments of human life, it is impossible to fix the mind, for any length of time, on the divine glory, as displayed in the works of creation, on the important facts and doctrines of revealed religion, and on the grand realities of the life to come. And, therefore, if the labouring classes enjoyed no regular season of repose for serious reflection, and religious instruction, the objects of religion would soon be entirly neglected, and the impression of a future world evanish from the mind. But in the wise arrangements of the beneficent Creator, an opportunity is afforded to all ranks of men for cultivating their moral and intellectual powers, and for directing them to the study and contemplation of the most glorious and interesting objects. As the Sabbath was originally instituted as a sacred memorial of the finishing of the work of creation, so it is obvious that the contemplation of the fabric of the universe, and of the perfections of its Almighty Author therein displayed, ought to form one part of the exercises of this holy day ; and, consequently, that illustrations of this subject ought to be frequently brought before the view of the mind in those discourses which are delivered in the assemblies of the saints. Since the reserences to this subject, throughout the whole of divine revelation, are so srequent and so explicit, it is evident, that the Creator intended that this amazing work of his ahould be contemplated with admiration, and make a deep and reverential impression upon every mind. To call to remembrance a period when there was no terraqueous globe, no sun, nor in on, nor planets, nor starry firmament, when darkness and inanity reigned throughout the infinite void—to listen to the voice of God resounding through the regions of boundless space, “LET THERE BE Ligh ri and light was"—to behold ten thousands of spacious suns instantly lighted up at his command—to trace the mighty masses of the planetary worlds projected from the hand of Omnipotence, and running their ample circuits with a rapidity which overwhelms our conceptions—to contemplate the globe on which we stand emerging from darkness and confusion to light and order: adorned with diversified scenes of beauty and of sublimity, with mountains, and plains, with rivers, and seas, and oceans; and with every variety of shade and colour; cheered with the melody of the feathered songsters, and with the voice of man, the image of his Maker, where a little before eternal silence had prevailed, —to reflect on the Almighty energy, the boundless intelligence, and the overflowing beneficence displayed in this amazing scene—has a tendency to elevate and expand the faculties of the human mind, and to excite emotions of reverence and adoration of the omnipotent Creator. This is a work which the eternal Jehovah evidently intended to be held in everlasting remembrance, by man on earth, and by all the inhabitants of the heavenly regions. It is the mirror of the Deity, and the natural image of the invisible God ; and it forins the groundwork of all those moral dispensations towards his intelligent offspring, which will run parallel with eternity itself. And, therefore, to overlook this subject in the exercises of the Sabbath, is to throw a veil over the glories of the Deity, to disregard the admonitions of his word, and to contemn one of the most magnificent and astonishing displays of Divine perfection. “By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all the host of them, by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap, he layeth up the depth in storehouses. Jet all the earth fear the Lord ; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done, he comman led, and it stood fast.” This is a comin ind which never was abrogated, and which never can be abrogated in relation to any intelligent beings, so long as the Creator exists, and so long as the universe remains as a memorial of his power and intelligence. Those sacred songs which a e recorded in scripture for
directing the train of our devotional oxercises, are full of this subject, and contain specimens of elevated sentiments, of sublime devotion, incomparably superior to what is to be found in any other record, whether ancient or modern.” But man, whose unhallowed hand pollutes and degrades every portion of revelation which he attempts to improve, has either endeavoured to set aside the literal and sublime references of these divine compositions, or to substitute in their place the vague and extravagant fancies of weak and injudicious minds, for directing the devotional exercises of Christian churches.f As the book of God is the only correct standard of religious worship, so our devotional exercises both in public and in private, ought to be chiefly, if not solely, directed by the examples of devotion contained in the inspired writings, which are calculated to regulate and enliven the pious exercises of men of every age and of every clime.
But, the celebration of the work of creation is not the only, nor the principal exercise to which we are called on the Christian sabbath. Had man continued in primeval innocence, this would probably have constituted his chief employment. But he is now called to celebrate, in conjunction with this exercise, a most glorious deliverance from sin and misery, effected by the Redeeme of mankind. And, for this reason, the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week, in memorial of the resurrection of Christ, when he was “declared to be the Son
* See particularly Psalms 8, 18, 19, 29, 33, 55, 66, 68,74, 89, 92,93, 94, 95, 96, 100, 104, 107, 111, 135, 136, 139, 145, 145, 147, 148, &c. &c.
* I here allude to several collections of Hymns which have been introduced into the public worship. of Christian societies—many of which, contain a num. ber of vague and injudicious sentiments, and extravagant fancies, while they entirely omit many of those subjects on which the inspired writers delight to expatiate. This position could easly be illustrated by abundance of examples, were it expedient in this place. I am firmly of opinion, that the praises of the Christian church ought to be celebrated in Scripturelanguage—that selections for this purpose should be made from the book of Psalms, the Prophets, and the New Testament writers, which shall embody every sentiment expressed in the original, without gloss or comment, and be as nearly as possible in the very words of Scripture. This has been partly effected in many of the Psalms contained in metrical version, used in the Scottish Church, in which simplicity, and sublimity, and a strict adherence to the original, are beautifully exemplified. In this case there would be no need for a separate hymn-book for Baptists, Methodists, Independents, Presbyteri ans, and Episcopalians. But, when a poet takes an insulated passage of Scripture, and spins out a dozen stanzas about it, he muy interweave, and most frequently does, as many sancies of his own as he pleases. Were the ideas contained in certain hymns to be painted on canvass, they would represent, ei ther a congeries of clouds and mists, or a group of distorted and unnatural objects. And why should such vague sancies, and injudicious representations, he imposed on a Christian assembly what a disgrace is thrown upon Christianity, when the different sects of Christians cannot cordially join together in the *** **now of thinksgiving and praise to their commuon Faii.er and Loril'
of God with power.” In this deliverance, as in the first creation, a variety of the grandest and most interesting objects is presented to our view :-The Son of God manifested in the flesh —the moral image of the invisible Creator emoodied in a human form, displaying every heavenly disposition, and every divine virtue, performing a series of the most astonishing and beneficent miracles, giving sight to the blind, and hearing to the deas, making the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing, restoring the insuriated maniac to the exercise of reason, commanding diseases to fly at the signal of a touch, recalling departed spirits from the invisible world, raising the dead to life, and, on every occasion, imparting heavenly instructions to attending multitudes. We behold this illustrious personage suspended on the cross, encompassed with the waters of affliction, and with the agonies of death; the veil of the temple rent in twain, from the top to the bottom—the rocks of nount Calvary rent asunder—the sun covered with blackness—darkness surrounding the whole land of Judea—the graves opening—the dead arising, and the Prince of Life consigned to the mansions of the tomb. On the third morning aster this solemn scene, “a great earthquake” having shaken the sepulchre of the Saviour, we behold him bursting the prison-doors of the tomb, and awakening to a new life, which shall never end—we behold celestial messengers, in resplendent forms, descending from the ethereal regions to announce to his disconsolate disciples, that he who was dead “ is alive, and lives for evertnore;” we behold him, at length, bestowing his last benediction on his faithful followers, rising above the confines of this earthly ball, winging his way on a resplendent cloud, attended by myriads ofangels, through distant regions which “eve hath not seen;" and entering “into heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us.” In the redemption achieved by this glorious person, we are directed to look back on that scene of misery in which sin has involved the human race, and to those “regions of sorrow and doleful shades,” from which his mercy has delivered us; and to look forward to a complete deliverance from moral evil, to a resurrection from the grave, to a general assembly of the whole race of Adam —to the destruction and renovation of this vast globe on which we dwell, and to the enjoyment of uninterrupted felicity, in brighter regions, while countless ages roll away.—Such are some of the sublime and interesting objects which we are called upon to contemplate and to celebrate on the day appointed for the Christian sabbath—oblects which have a tendency to inspire the mind with sacred joy, and with an anticipation of noble employments in the life to coine. Again, the Sabbath was appointed as a stated season for the public worship of God. As mankind are connected by innumerable ties, as they
are subject to the same wants and infirmities, are exposed to the same sorrows and afflictions, and stand in need of the same blessings from God,” it is highly reasonable and becotning, that they should frequently meet together, to offer up in unison their thanksgiving and praise to their common Benefactor, and to supplicate the throne ot his mercy. These exercises are connected with a variety of interesting and important associations. In the public assemblies where religious worship is performed, “the rich and the poor meet together.” Within the same walls, those who would never have met in any other circumstances, a e placed exactly in the same situation before Him in whose presence all earthly distinctions evanish, and who is the Lord, and “the Maker of them all.” Here, pride and haughtiness are abased ; all are placed on the same level as sinners before Him “who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; the lostiness of man is humbled, the poor are raised from the dust, and the Lord alone is exalted in the courts of his holiness. Here, cleanliness and decency of appare: are to be seen, and human nature appears, both in its physical and its moral grandeur.” Here, civility of deportment, and kindly affections are generally displayed. Here, we feel ourselves in the immediate presence of Him before whom all nations are as the drop of a bucket; we feel our guilty and dependant character, and stand, as suppliants, for mercy to pardon, and for grace to help us in the time of need. Here, knowledge of the most important kind is communicated to assembled multitudes, almost “without money and without price.” Here, the poorest beggar, the youth, and the man of hoary hairs, may learn the character of the true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent—the way to eternal happiness—the sources of consolation under the afflictions of life—and the duties they owe to their Creator, and to all mankind. In a word, here the sinner, in the midst of his unhallowed courses, is aroused to consideration; and here the saint is animated and encouraged in his Christian journey, and enjoys a forefaste of the blessedness of heaven, and an earnest of the delightful intercourses and employments of “the saints in light.” Let us now suppose, for a moment, that the Sabhath, and its exercises, were universally abolished from the civilized world. What would be the consequences? The knowledge of the true God, which the institution of the Sabbath, more than any other mean, has tended to perpetuate, would soon be lost, his worship abandoned, and religion and moral principle buried in the dust. In Pagan countries, where the Sabbath is un- what a striking contrast, even in a physical point of view, is presented between a modern assembly of Christian worshippers, and the hideous and filthy group of human beings that are to be seen
in the kraal of a Hottentot, or in the cave of a New Hollander.
known, the true God is never adored, the soul of inan is debased, and prostrates itself before the sun and moon, and even before demons, monsters, insects, reptiles, and blocks of wood and stone. In France, where the Sabbath was for a season abolished, an impious phantom, called the G codess of Reason, was substituted in the toom of the Conipotent and Eternal God; the Bible was held up to ridicule, and committed to the flames; man was degraded to the level of the brutes; his mind was assimilated to a piece of clay, and the cheering prospects of immortality were transformed into the shades of an eternal night. Atheism, Scepticism, and Fatalism, almost universally prevailed; the laws of morality were trampled under foot ; and anarchy, plots, assassinations, massacres, and legalized plunder, became “the order of the day.”—With the loss of the knowledge of God, all impressions of the Divine presence, and all sense of accountableness for human actions, would be destroyed. The restraints of religion, and the prospect of a future judgment, would no longer deter from the commission of crimes; and nothing but the dread of the dungeon, the gibbet, or the rack, would restrain mankind from the constant perpetration of cruelty, injustice, and deeds of violence. No social prayers, from assembled multitudes, would be offered up to the Father of mercies; no voice of thanksgiving and praise would ascend to the Ruler of the skies; the work of creation, as displaying the perfections of the Deity, would cease to be admired and commemorated ; and the movements of Providence, and the glories of redemption, would be overlooked and disregard*d. The pursuit of the objects of time and sense, which can be enjoyed only for a few fleeting years, would absorb every faculty of the soul; and the realities of the eternal world would either be forgotten, or regarded as idle dreams. In short, were the Sabbath abolished, or, were the law which enforces its observance to be reversed, man would be doomed to spend his morta! existence in an unbroken series of incessant labour and toil; his mental powers would languish, and his bodily strength would be speedily vasted. Habits of cleanliness, civility of deportment, and decency of apparel, would be disregarded ; and the persons, and the habitations of the labouring classes, would soon resemble the filthiness and the wretched objects which are seen in the kraal of a Hottentot. Their minds would neither be cheered with the prospect of seasons of stated repose in this world, nor with the hope of eternal rest and joy in the world to come.
Trip. FIFTH comm Ax DMENT.
“Honour thy Father and thy Mother.” The four preceding commandments, whose importance I have endeavoured to illustrate, were written on a separate tablet from those that follow,
and have been generally considered as cnjoining the practice of piety, or those duties which more immediately respect God as their object. But they also include the duties we owe to ourselves; for in yielding obedience to these requirements, we promote our best interests in this world, and are gradually prepared for participating in the enjoyments of the world to come. These laws are binding upon nngels and archangels, and upon every class of intelligent beings, in whatever quarter of the universe their local residence may be found, as well as upon the inhabitants of the earth. The fourth commandment, indeed, in so far as regards the particular portion of time to be set apart for the worship o God, may possibly be peculiar to the inhabitants of our world. Even although the inhabitants of such a world as the planet Jupiter were conmanded to set apart every seventh natural day for the stated public worship of God, the proportion of absolute time allotted for this purpose, would not be the same as ours; for the natural day in that world is equal to only ten hours of our time. But the spirit of this precept, or, the principle on which it is founded, must be common to all worlds. For we can conceive of no class of intelligent creatures, on whom it is not obligatory to devote a certain portion of time for the social worship and adoration of their Creator, and for commemorating the displays of his Power and Benevolence; and all holy intelligences will cheerfully join in such exercises, and will consider it as a most ennobling and delightful privilege, to engage at stated seasons, along with their fellow-worshippers, in admiring and extolling the Uncreated Source of their enjoyments. But the stated seasons appointed by the Creator for such solemn acts of worship, the manner and circumstances in which they shall be performed, and the number of worshippers that may assemble on such occasions, may be different in different worlds, according to the situations in which they are placed. The fifth commandment, to which I am now to advert, is one of those moral regulations which may possibly be peculiar to the relations which exist in our world; at least, it cannot be supposed to apply to the inhabitants of any world where the relations of parents and children, of superiors and inferiors, are altogether unknown. But, in the circumstances in which man is placed, it is a law indispensably requisite for preserving the order and happiness of the social system.—It requires the exercise of those dispositions, and the performance of those duties, which are incumbent upon mankind, in the various relations in which they stand to each other. It, consequently, includes within its spirit and references, the duties which children owe to their parents, and parents to their children; the duties of husbands and wives, of masters and servants, of teachers and scholars, of brothers and sisters, of the young and the old, and of governors and their subjects; together with all those dispositions of reverence, submission, affection, gratitude, and respect, with which the performance of these duties ought to be accompanied. It must also be considered as forbidding every thins that is opposed to these dispositions, and to the obedience required; as contumacy, rebellion, and want of respect, on the part of children towards their parents; disobedience of serwants to the reasonable commands of their masters; and every principle of disaffection and of insubordination among the various ranks of society. That all this is included within the range of this precept, might be proved from the principles on which our Saviour explains the sirth and seventh commandments, in his Sermon on the Mount, and from the illustrations of these duties which are given in the Apostolic epistles, and in other parts of Scripture. As it forms no part of my plan, to enter into any particular explanations of the duties required in the Decalogue, which have frequently been expounded by many respectable writers, in works particularly appropriated to this object, I shall simply illustrate, in a few words, the reasonableness of this, and the following precepts, from a tonsideration of the effects which would follow, were these laws either universally observed, or aniversally violated. Were this law to be reversed, or universally violated, it is impossible to form an adequate conception of the dreadful scene of anarchy and confusion which would immediately ensue. Every social tie would be torn asunder, every relation inverted, every principle of subordination destroyed, every government overturned, every rank and order of mankind annihilated, and the whole assembly of human beings converted into a discordant mass cf lawless banditti. Every family would present a scene of riot, confusion, insubordination, contention, hatred, tumult, and incessant execration. Instead of love, peace, unity, and obedience, the son would rise in rebellion against his father, and the father would insult and trample under foot his son. To use the words of our Saviour, “The brother would deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child; and the children would rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death; the daughter would be set at variance against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes would be they of his own household.” Children would be unprovided with proper sood, clothing, and instruction, and left to wander, houseless and forlorn, as vagabonds on the face of the earth; and parents, abandoned by their children, in sickness, poverty, and old age, would sink into the grave in wretchedness and despair. The young, instead of “rising up before the hoary head, and honouring the face of the old man,” would treat
the aged and infirm with every mark of scorn, derision, and contempt; and would feel a diabolical delight in vexing, thwarting, and overpowering their superiors in age and station. No instructions could be communicated by teachers and guardians to the rising generation; for riot, insolence, insult, derision, and contempt, would frustrate every effort to communicate knowledge to a youthful group. No building nor other work of art could be commenced with the certain prospect of being ever finished; for its progress would depend upon the whims and humours of the workmen employed, who, of course, would rejoice in endeavouring to frustrate the plans and wishes of their employers. No regular government nor subordination in a large community, could possibly exist; for the great mass of society would endeavour to protect every delinquent, and would form themselves into a league to prevent the execution of the laws. These effects would inevitably follow, even although the requisition contained in this precept, were to be viewed as confined solely to the reverence and obedience which children owe to their parents. For, were this obedience withdrawn, and an opposite disposition and conduct uniformly manifested, the young would carry the same dispositions which they displayed towards their parents, into all the other scenes and relations of life, and fill the world with anarchy and confusion. But it would be needless to expatiate on this topic, as it appears obvious to the least reflecting mind, that a universal violation of this law would quite unhinge the whole fabric of society, and would soon put an end to the harmonious intercourse of human beings. On the other hand, a constant and universal obedience to this precept would produce such effects on the deformed aspect of our world as would transform it into a paradise of moral beauty, of happiness and love. Every family would exhibit a picture of peace and concord, of harmony and affection. No harsh and bitter language, no strises, nor jars, nor contentions would ever interrupt the delightful flow of reciprocal affection between parents and children. No longer should we behold the little perverse members of the domestic circle, indulging their sulky humours, and endeavouring to thwart the wishes of their superiors, nor the infilriated parent stamping and raging at the obstimacy of his children; nor should we hear the grating sounds of discord, and insubordination which now so frequently issue from the family mansion. Every parental command would be cheerfully and promptly obeyed. Reverence and filial affection would glow in every youthful breast towards the father that begat him, and towards the mother that gave him birth. Their persons, and their characters would be regarded with veneration and respect, and their admonitions submitted to without a murmur or complaint. To gladden