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SERMON IX.

DEUTERONOMY, V. 12.

KEEP THE SABBATH-DAY, TO SANCTIFY IT, AS THE LORD THY GOD HATH COMMANDED THEE.

THE appropriation of one day in seven to the purposes of religion, is a practice peculiar to the Jewish and the Christian revelations. And it is a practice so full of wisdom, utility and humanity, that it may well be produced as one argument, among many others still more convincing, of their divine original.

By comparing together the primary institution of the sabbath, as related in the Book of Genesis, and the alterations it afterwards received from our Saviour and his apostles, it

is

is evident that the Christian Sabbath is to be considered under two distinct points of view:

First, As a day of rest from labour. Secondly, As a day set apart for the public worship of God.

I. As a day of rest from labour.

This rest was by the Mosaic Law so rigorously exacted, that the violation of it was prohibited under no less a penalty than that of death*. Our divine Master, in this as well as in many other instances, greatly softened the severity of that law. But yet it was plainly his intention, that there should be a general cessation of labour on this day. The original reason for this part of the institution still subsisted in his days, and must subsist till the end of time; namely, that it might be a standing memorial of the great work of creation, from which the Almighty Author of it rested or ceased, on the seventh day, and therefore he blessed and sanctified that day for ever. To this Christ himself added another reason of a similar nature; having on the following day rested from the

great

* Exod. xxxv. 2.

great work of redemption, which he completed by rising from the dead. Our abstinence, therefore, from the ordinary occupations of life on the Lord's day, is a tacit kind of acknowledgment that we were created by God, and redeemed by Christ, and that we are duly sensible of the duties resulting from those relations. It appears, moreover, that our Lord himself very religiously observed the rest of the sabbath; which he no otherwise interrupted than by miracles of mercy and compassion. And we may most certainly conclude, that the very same benevolence of disposition which dictated these humane exceptions, would prompt him also to improve and enforce, both by his doctrine and example, the general rule of resting on tne seventh day. For never was there any injunction so replete with kindness and compassion to the whole human race, especially to the lowest and most wretched part of it, as this. There cannot be a more pleasing or a more consolatory idea presented to the human mind, than that of one universal pause of labour throughout the whole Christian. world at the same moment of time; diffusing rest, comfort, and peace through a large part

of

of the habitable globe, and affording ease and refreshment, not only to the lowest part of our own species, but to our fellowlabourers in the brute creation. Even these are enabled to join in this silent act of adoration, this mute kind of homage to the great Lord of all; and although they are incapable of any sentiments of religion, yet by this means they become sharers in the blessings of it. Every man of the least sensibility must see, must feel, the beauty and utility of such an institution as this; and must see, at the same time, the cruelty of invading this most valuable privilege of the inferior class of mankind, and breaking

in

upon that sacred repose which God himself has, in pity to their sufferings, given to those that stand most in need of it. It was a point in which it highly became the majesty and the goodness of Heaven itself to interpose. And happy was it for the world that it did so. For, had man, unfeeling man, been left to himself, with no other spur to compassion than natural instinct, or unassisted reason, there is but too much ground to apprehend he would have been deaf to the cries of his labouring brethren, would have

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