Sayfadaki görseller
PDF
ePub
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

By the primæval blessing and sanctification of the seventh day, God separated it from common to sacred uses ; it should not, therefore, be made a day of indolence, a day of mere exemption from worldly labours and employments. There may be a scrupulous preservation of the positive rest, and a total abstinence from business and unholy amusement, but with little spiritual advantage. The refreshment of the body is one reason for the institution of a weekly rest; but, according to its primitive destination, it must be such a rest from secular labours as will minister to the nourishment of the soul. The day, then, cannot be worthily consecrated, unless it be hallowed by the exercises of piety and devotion. Lamentable is the misemployment of the sacred season, if it does not excite the religious feelings which it is so peculiarly fitted to cherish and improve. Being chiefly intended for the cultivation of those principles of holiness without which an inheritance

}

cannot be obtained among the saints in light, if it is not employed suitably to this object, the principal design of the institution is frustrated, and the most valuable of its benefits forfeited. It remains, therefore to inquire into the nature of the holy services in which Christians are to engage, that they may convert the day to the uses of a pious edification.

From this primary and general design of the sabbatical institution, arises the indispensable duty of public worship. The divine command to keep the seventh day holy, implies that something holy is to be performed on it, and in Christian holiness a public expression of prayer and thanksgiving is an essential ingredient. It was intended, by commemorating the stupendous mercies of the Tri-une God in the creation of the world, and the redemption of man, to encourage the holy preparation of heart which becomes the expectants of eternity. Because the Divine Being rested on this day from the work of creation, he sanctified it; from which it is evident that the exemption from worldly toil is to be instrumental to a spiritual and hallowed service. Rest is enjoined, but the end and object of it is the advancement of religion; and a vacancy from employment is commanded, to afford an opportunity of attendance to spiritual things. But there can be no serious attention to the things which

belong unto our salvation, no sincere religion without a devout participation in the public services of the church.

A diligent and constant attendance upon the public worship of God, is a duty repeatedly inculcated in the sacred Scriptures •. Our Saviour promised his especial presence and blessing whenever two or three are gathered together in his name; he instituted two sacraments, the celebration of which requires a public service; and he appointed a standing ministry to publish the gospel to the world, which can only be in Christian assemblies. We are commanded not to forsake the assembling ourselves together"; and the Holy Spirit enjoins men to "pray'every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting'; a compliance with which must be more especially incumbent on the day which the Lord hath separated from all others to be the means of holiness to his servants. If public worship be an indispensable duty, its exercise on the Lord's day is necessary, for on no other has the greater part

· Deut. xxxi. 12, Ps. v. 7.-xxvi. 6, 7, 8.--xcy, 6.xcvi. 9.--xcvii. 3. Matt. xviii, 20. James i. 22.

b Matt. xviii. 20.
• Matt. xxviii. 19. Luke xxij. 19.
• Matt. xxviii, 20. Luke'x. 2. 2 Tim. ii. 2.
e Heb. x. 25.
( 1 Tim, ii. 8.

of mankind leisure for its performance. The prescribed cessation of labour must have been with a view that men might, on one day in the week, give heed to spiritual and eternal things; and if it be claimed by the Lord as peculiarly his own day, it follows as a natural consequence, that some portion of it must be devoted to the public praise and adoration of the Lord of Hosts.

The offices of piety to God form the great business of the day; a business equally interesting to every age, rank, and distinction; and from the perpetual obligation of which no age, rank, or distinction can be exempt. In the church, then, should every Christian take his place on the Lord's day. The rich should come to be admonished of their danger, and the poor to be comforted in their affliction; the wise to be reminded of the most invaluable truths, and the ignorant to be instructed in their duty; the pious to offer up the incense of gratitude, and the sinful to prostrate themselves in penitence and supplication. All mankind being bound to a public confession of their dependence upon God, to a public supplication for the pardon of their trespasses, and to a public expression of praise and thanksgiving for all the blessings of heaven, none can forsake the assembling themselves together, without incurring a high degree of criminality. “Private devotion,” says Bishop Horsley in the Ser

.

mons so often referred to, “is the Christian's daily duty: but the peculiar duty of the sabbath is public worship.”

· For the performance of this duty there is required a conscientious attendance upon all the parts and offices of religious worship. Prayer and supplication, thanksgiving and praise, participation of the Lord's Supper, and reverent attention to the Word of God read or preached, will successively be the transporting employment of the devout worshipper at the shrine of his Creator. The hour and place of assembling, the ceremonies necessary in order to secure proper decorum in divine worship, the order in which its several parts are to succeed each other, the ritual to be observed, and other circumstances connected with the public services of religion, must be left to the regulation of ecclesiastical rulers; and it is the part of Christian humility to comply with the forms, and rites, and services of the community to which he belongs. Every church having a right to prescribe the terms of its communion, all its members are to conform to those ceremonial ordinances which it enjoins for the more effectual advancement of religion. Some mode of conducting public worship must be established in every congregation; and in this country of freedom and toleration, every individual is at liberty to join himself to whatever de

« ÖncekiDevam »