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1. It secures a desirable and welcome sus. pension of the labours and cares of life.
“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 thy stranger that is within thy gates.” Exod. xx. 9, 10. Do you not admire the compassionate kindness of Him, whose are “ the cattle on a thousand hills,” Psa: l. 10, for introducing into the law of the Sabbath, a precept in favour of the repose and enjoyment even of the brute creation? Surely if they are not below the notice of Him who sways the sceptre, and determines the laws of the universe, their comfort should not be disregarded by man, to whom they render services of so high a value.
But if the Sabbath extend its advantages even to the inferior creatures, how much greater are the benefits it yields to man. For man the Sabbath was made. Mark ii. 27. To the labouring classes of society, which, in countries like our own, constitute the majority of the population, how desirable and how welcome is the return of the day of rest! Wearied and exhausted by six days' successive toil, the seventh is a day of most acceptable and grateful repose.
Nor is it only when the day returns, that the sabbatic institution becomes a source of relief; for refreshing, in no slight degree, throughout the week
of labour, is the anticipation of the day of rest.
If this suspension of the labours and the cares of life be beneficial to the body, still more advantageous is it to the interests of the soul. Were it not for this periodical cessation of the business of this world, almost impracticable should we find it to fix the attention of those around us on the concerns of the world to come.. With what marked disinclination and extreme reluctance do most men part with a single hour of the six days which they consider their own, for any of the high and holy purposes of religion! Our chief hope of directing their regard to the things which belong to their peace, is founded on the opportunities peculiar to the day on which their secular avocations are suspended; so that, were it not for that day of rest, we should be destitute of the grand moral means, most powerfully conducive to the conversion of sinners, and the augmentation of the church of God.
And has the real and established Christian no experience of the value, not to say of the necessity of this suspension of worldly engagements?' Does he not prize, beyond expression, the golden hours of the day which the Lord hath blessed ? Say, Christian, can you pass through the six days of secular employment, without the slightest diminution of your spirituality of mind? Can you be immersed day after day, in this world's occupations and
Have we not seen, that these sacred engagements involve in them the purest and the most spiritual exercises of the mind and heart? Have we not seen, that they involve in them adoring contemplations of the blessed God, the expression of the highest love to the Author of all our enjoyments, and the exercise of all the holy dispositions he requires? Who then, without Divine influence, is sufficient for these things? If, without Divine aid, these pleasures of the Christian life could be realized, no necessity would there be, in any instance, for the operation of influence from above. But alas! do we not feel our own incompetency both to the right performance of these duties, and the true enjoyment of these privileges ? Convinced then of the necessity of Divine aid, how encouraging is it to find, that Christians are represented by an inspired apostle as “praying in the Holy Ghost,” Jude 20; how encouraging, to receive the assurance that “the Spirit helpeth our 'infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God.” Rom. viii. 26, 27. How powerful then is the inducement to pray for the influences of the Holy Spirit, in order that our minds may become spiritual and devotional; susceptible of these Divine pleasures, and filled with these heavenly
joys! Is it not to the absence of fervent desires and petitions for his aid, that we may trace the absence of these elevated joys, of which prayer and praise are designed to be the means? Will not these delights bear an exact proportion to the degree in which we are favoured with the promised influences of. the Holy Spirit? and will not these influences be imparted in proportion to the faith, and to the fervour with which they are implored?
3. We conclude, that it is at once our duty and our interest to cultivate a spirit habitually prepared for the enjoyment of devotional plea
Would we w rejoice evermore?" then must we“pray without ceasing, and in every thing
ve thanks." i Thess. V. 16—18. We cannot, in the strictest sense, be always engaged in acts of devotion; but we are required to cherish those devotional feelings which will habitually predispose for the engagements of prayer and of praise. In this sense we are required to be “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance.” Eph. vi. 18. Then no pursuits of business or of pleasure should be permitted to occasion the neglect of prayer, or to exercise over the mind an influence unfavourable to the right discharge of the duty. Then whatever would have a tendency to disqualify our minds for such engagements, must be inimical to our highest interests, and unfriendly to our true enjoyment. Whatever would indispose for
prayer and for praise should be viewed with apprehension and aversion; since that which unfits us for an approach to God, must be displeasing in the sight of God. Let us then avail ourselves of this correct and valuable test, to ascertain what we may safely allow, and what we should carefully avoid; ever regarding with dread those employments, those amusements, those connexions, and those cares, which have a tendency to withdraw us from our God, and to intercept the light of his favour.
4. We conclude that our stated opportunities of devotion, whether retired or social, should be welcomed and improved as occasions of high-enjoyment.
Who can fully appreciate the privilege of a personal audience of Deity when withdrawn from
every human eye? How can we sufficiently prize our daily opportunities of drawing near to God, and pouring out our hearts before him, in the persuasion that his eye is as much upon us, and his ear as attentively open to our prayer, as though we were the only suppliants at his throne? Let each of us then daily, and at least in the commencement and the close of every day, retire to converse with the Father of our spirits, who seeth in secret, and who can make the hour of retired devotion the season of exquisite enjoyment.
Nor let us think lightly of the duty or the pleasure of family devotion. How can we expect domestic happiness without domestic