« ZurückWeiter »
and her saints shall shout aloud for joy." Psa. cxxxii. 13-16.
I might here expatiate over a wide and interesting field, and invite you to contemplate the sacred pleasures of a direct approach to the throne of grace in the offering of prayer and of praise. But to this source of delight, which it is the glory of the Christian Sabbath so abundantly to yield, I have already directed your regard. I endeavoured to aid your conceptions of the delights which both prayer and praise are alike adapted to yield, as also of the superiority of the pleasures of praise above those of prayer. It is in these exercises of thanksgiving that our attention is directed, not so much to our wants as to our enjoyments; not so much to ourselves as to our God. It is in these sublimest aspirations to heaven that we make the nearest approaches to the joys of pure and of perfected spirits, in that world of perpetual sabbath, where no sin disturbs the effort of the mind, and no care breaks in upon the serenity of the soul; where no weariness impairs the ardour of its devotions, and no night suspends the delights of its worship! Blissful, beyond all sublunary enjoyments, are even these distant anticipations of the Sabbath which remains for the people of God.
Such being the nature of the pleasures which the Sabbath is designed to afford, let me invite your attention, SECONDLY, To the habits of mind and of
conduct, which the consideration of these pleasures should induce.
1. Let us habitually regard and represent the Sabbath as a day of sacred pleasure.
In our most secret thoughts, in the bosom of our families, and in the circle of our associates, let us uniformly call the Sabbath a delight. Let us not consider it, and let us not be thought to view it, as a day of privations, but as a day of enjoyments. Let us not regard it, and let us not be thought to regard it, as a day of dulness, marked in our recollections and anticipations by a melancholy blank, but as a day of cheerfulness, enlivened by its own peculiar pleasures. Let not the aspect of seriousness degenerate into repulsive austerity, or forbid the hope of the lighting up of the countenance by the smile of benignity. Let not the “sunshine of the soul” be on that joyous day obscured by a darksome cloud; nor let it be possible for any to imagine, that the Sabbath is hallowed by a sense of duty, without being welcomed as a day of gladness.
But there may be amongst us one, and more than one, saying in his heart, as the Sabbath hours pass heavily away, "Oh what a weariness is this day! oh, when will the Sabbath be over!" It is possible that this may be the complaint of some young person feeling this day the unwelcome restraint of parental authority. Are you then, my young friend, really prepared to neglect the Sabbath, to violate the Sabbath, to profane the Sabbath? One moment pause, one moment reflect. Your
situation is most critical and perilous. If, in defiance of the remonstrances of conscience and the restraints of early education, you break down the barriers erected by the institution of the Sabbath, you rush with fearful impetuosity towards the abyss of ruin. Believe me, there have been many who, with unutterable anguish of remorse, have traced their evil associations, their evil courses, their ruinous habits, and their eventual destruction, to the neglect of the Sabbath. If, then, you value your soul, value your Sabbaths. If you ‘are in pursuit of solid and satisfying pleasures, disregard not the pleasures of the Sabbath. If you desire admission to the joys of paradise, learn to call the Sabbath a delight.” If you can find no enjoyment in the Sabbath, it is because you have no delight in God. If you have no delight in God, you could find no happiness in heaven. If you are found disqualified for heaven's felicities, and disaffected to heaven's Lord, you must be inevitably “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.” 2 Thess. i. 9, 10. Seek then forgiveness from the Lord of the Sabbath, of the guilt contracted by the misimprovement of Sabbaths that are past; and, instead of cherishing purposes of future profanation, may you learn henceforth to “call the Sabbath a delight; the holy of the Lord, honourable." Isa. lviii. 13.
2. If we call the Sabbath a delight, let us seek an augmentation of its pleasures, by seeking an increased communication of heavenly influence.
“ I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day," said the beloved disciple, Rev. i. 10; and it is not an assertion peculiar to an inspired apostle. It has been reiterated by thousands of the people of God in every succeeding age. Should it not then be our desire to be able, in the retrospect of every Sabbath, to say, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day?”. On the day before the Sabbath, the Israelites in the wilderness received from heaven a double supply of their bodily wants; and on the Sabbath day, Christians have often received more than a double supply for their spiritual wants, in the abundant communication of Divine influences, in the “ supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ." Phil. i. 19. If on the Lord's day we are encouraged to expect the joys of salvation, how powerful is the inducement to implore the aid of Him whose appropriate designation is “ The Comforter !” With the utmost facility can he fill our expecting spirits with "all joy and peace in believing.” Rom. xv. 13. He can make us “joyful in the house of prayer," and enable us with joy to “ draw water out of the wells of salvation." Isa. xii. 3. Oh, my brethren, how delightful would be our Sabbath hours, were we to render greater honour to the Spirit of light and life! Let us desire and implore his aid, with the intensest ardour of solicitude ; let us exercise
a firm and unwavering reliance on the glorious promise, that God our heavenly Father will grant his Holy Spirit to them that ask him: then shall his sacred unction descend as the rain, and distil as the dew, and in its beneficial and reviving effects be as the showers upon the mown grass.
3. Let us refrain from every thing which would obstruct our full enjoyment of the pleasures of the Sabbath.
With the man who desires to hallow and to enjoy the Sabbath, the question will not be, What approaches can I lawfully make on this day to the enjoyments and occupations of other days? but the question will rather be, What methods can I adopt to secure, on this day, the high advantages and holy pleasures which it is designed to convey? To this inquiry the word of God renders a full and explicit reply; “ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath” (from thy customary walks) “ from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight; the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.” Isa. lviii. 13, 14.
(1.) On this day we are to refrain from worldly occupations and transactions,
The labour of the workman is to be suspended: the traffick of the buyer and of the seller is to cease: accounts are not to be ad. justed: letters of business are not to be