ON KEEPING HOLY THE LORD'S DAY
Consider first, that divine precept, 'Remember thou keep holy the sabbath day,' Exod. xx. 8; and reflect how just it is, that next to the capital duties of acknowledging one only true and living God, and paying due respect to his name, we should also set aside one day at least in the week to be sanctified to him, and to be spent in his divine worship. The particular appointment of the seventh day, as the day of God's rest, and the figure of our eternal rest, after the six days' labours of this transitory life, was but a part of the ceremonial law, which is no longer obligatory under the new covenant of Jesus Christ; and therefore the day has been changed into the first day of the week, to honour the resurrection of the Son of God, by which he put, as it were, the finishing stroke to the great work of our redemption, and the glorious promulgation of his law, by the coming down of the Holy Ghost. But the precept itself, as to its substance, and as to the obligation of dedicating, in a more particular manner, a competent portion of our days to the worship of him who in all reason might justly claim them all, is unchangeable, indispensable, and eternal, and is here enforced with that word, Remember, not found in any of the other commandments, to inculcate the utmost importance of our strict observance of it . O! 'tis true, that the religious keeping of these days, agreeable to the ordinance of God and his church, is the sovereign means to bring Christians, after their short labours here, to their true and everlasting Sabbath.
Consider 2ndly, that on these days, (which we are commanded to keep holy,) all servile works and profane employments are forbidden to Christians, lest their attention should be taken off from the worship of God, or their application to religious duties interrupted by their worldly occupations. But then if these kinds of works, which are otherwise commendable in themselves, and even obligatory at other times, are strictly forbidden in these days, as hindrance to God's worship, how much more so are all such criminal diversions as are lawful at no time, and all those works of darkness and sin, which are servile in the very worst of senses, because by them men serve the devil, and are far more taken off by them from their application to God than by any other labours whatsoever! But O, how common are those sinful profanations of our Lord's day! How many seem to have no other intention, in resting on this day from their usual employments, than to dedicate this holy time to vanity, sloth luxury, or some other criminal passion, without giving any part of it to God! See, my soul, this be never thy practice; but if thou givest the other days of the week to the world, to the business of thy calling, to working for thy temporal livelihood, give God his day, to be employed in his service, in the business of eternity, and in working for thy eternal salvation.
Consider 3rdly, that all Christians are obliged on these days to attend to the public worship of God in his church, and in particular to assist at the divine sacrifice, in which we solemnly celebrate the death and passion of the Son of God. Here we are to join with him and with his whole family in paying adoration praise, and thanksgiving to the divine majesty. Here we are to bewail our sins in his sight, and crave mercy for them through Christ's precious blood, here offered to God. Here we are to present through him our prayers and supplications, both for ourselves and for the whole world, before the throne of grace. We are also on these days to dispose our soul to receive, either sacramentally or at least spiritually, the body and blood of Christ; to attend to the word of God; to read devout books, to meditate on divine truths, and to employ a good part of our time in these spiritual exercises. Alas! how very little are these important duties thought of by too many Christians! How many will neither sanctify these days in a proper manner themselves, not suffer their servants or others that are about them to sanctify them? And what a strict account shall they one day give for all these abuses!
Conclude to make it thy business that thou at least and thy house may give to God what belongs to God, by duly serving him on his own day. This diligence will entitle thee and thine to his blessing; and thy sanctifying his day will be a powerful means to sanctify thee.