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through common respect to creatures like themselves, who happen in the order of providence to be entitled to temporary honour; so we may naturally conclude, it must be highly provoking to the sacred Majesty of heaven, who has the first and greatest right to our obedience and veneration: and, consequently, if the visitation is deferred at present, we may be assured it is only because the Lord is merciful, and that his desire is, that all men should repent, and be saved; but that, as his justice is equally infinite as his mercy, if men continue to anger and tempt the Lord their Maker, their final punishment will be proportionably dreadful.-In whatever degree any present have been at any time guilty of this heavy sin, the Lord pardon them for Christ's sake, and avert the vengeance due unto them. We cannot sufficiently praise him for his grace, in showing us the grievous error of such conduct, and enabling us to correct it, and by future caution not to return to such foul iniquity. Let us humbly hope we have the pledge of Christ's love towards us, and that we shall at the last day experience an interest in his universal satisfaction for all who love his coming, and, through the powerful influence of his blessed Spirit, are continually circumspect to keep his Father's laws. To whom, three Persons and one God, in mystic Trinity united, be ascribed all power and praise for ever. Amen.
EXODUS, XX. 8.
Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy.
Ir would be a severe and unjustifiable reflection upon many who now hear me, to suppose it absolutely necessary to repeat this whole commandment, which indeed forms the text, and supplies the subject of this Discourse; and if there are, unhappily, any present so ignorant as not to know it, this must be wholly their own faults, as they cannot plead the want of private and public instruction; for both may be obtained by application, and seeking for it; every opportunity being afforded them of learning the principles of their Christian profession. But that the mind may be better prepared for attending to the fullest extent of what the commandment enjoins us, I shall first deliver the whole of it as it stands in the 20th chapter of Exodus, 8, 9, 10, 11; and then dwell particularly on each member of it, according to the order in
which it is there written: Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy: six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it.
Obedience to this law is a matter of such universal importance to all who profess a knowledge of, and a veneration for, the one true God, and his worship, and especially to us Christians, who are bound to love and honour the Most High for such manifold and great obligations we have received at his hands, that too much pains cannot be taken in enforcing its authority, and exhorting all ranks of people to the pious observance of it. I am so very sensible (my brethren) of the great necessity of this in times like these, when the love of many waxing cold, and of the most serious consequences, good or bad, according as we fulfil or neglect this duty, that if I exceed a little in the length of my discourse upon this subject, I trust you will attribute it to my earnest zeal for your improvement.
This commandment closes the first table of
the law, or those particular precepts enjoined us by God towards HIMSELF. It opens in very marked and positive terms: Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy. Let us first consider its signification and appointment; and then, the honour ascribed to it. The word is taken from the Hebrew language, and signifies rest; we are, therefore, commanded to remember the day of rest. The original appointment of this commandment took place as long ago as at the creation itself. It was ordained by God, as a sign between him and his people of old. Hear how he speaks of it himself in Exodus, xxxi. 13 -17: Verily, my sabbaths shall ye keep; for it is a sign between me and you, throughout your generations, that ye may KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD. We will dwell a little longer on its first institution, and then proceed to consider it as an article of Christian obligation.-God having created the world in six days, rested (or rather ceased from his work) on the seventh day; and that the people might remember that he was the Lord that did this, he instituted this sign. After God had perfected the invisible and visible world (or heaven and earth), finding, on the review of his works, that they were all VERY GOOD, he took pleasure, he was satisfied in all those discoveries of his own glorious perfections, by the work of his own hands; and he rested from his work. No one can be so dull,