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sured abundance of redeeming compassion are offered to the hand, and solicit the hearts of all. The throne of God is then peculiarly accessible by those who approach him with the mingled sacrifice of prayer and praise, and endeavour to receive with meekness that ingrafted word which is able to save their souls. Are these mercies confessedly great in the estimation of every man who desires access to the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, by means of the services and institutions of the sabbaths and sanctuaries of God? And shall we say, that it is a trifling offence to reject them-and to flee from the house of God to common unblest employment; as Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the Lord? Is it a small thing to exchange that place in which God hath said to every one of his waiting servants, "I will come unto thee and bless thee," for an excursion of pleasure, a distant journey, á day of revelry and dissipation, whether at home or abroad? It often happens indeed, that public worship is attended in the morning of the sabbath; and then a licence is claimed to spend the remainder of the day among those who are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; or at least in an utter and absolute estrangement from every sacred employment. But hath God consented to this unnatural division; or is it not an unhallowed
compromise between himself and sin, which he will indignantly reject? Were Ananias and Sapphira permitted to keep back a part of the price of the land, when the whole had been dedicated? And will God hold them guiltless, who deduct part of his peculiar day to spend it in idolatrous sacrifice to the lust of the flesh, or the lust of the eye, or the pride of life? Is it possible, that the devotion of those who contemplate such a monstrous intermixture of God and Mammon, should be enkindled on the altar of the Saviour's love? As well might we have sought such devotion in the ceremonial of the rebel Israelites, when they rose from their idolatrous worship of the golden calf to eat, and to drink, and to play. Follow such worshippers into the scenes of their sabbath evening enjoyments. Listen to the prevailing subject of their conversation. Do they celebrate the glories of God in providence and redemption; the need of man; the love of Jesus Christ; the holiness of his law; the perfection of his example; the omnipotence and freeness of his grace; the privileges of his servants; the hopes of his kingdom; and the promised vision of his everlasting blessedness? Do their hearts burn within them, as these high subjects of Christian communion are opened from the page of God, or from the grateful record of a Christian's experience? Nothing alas,
like this. O, if Jesus Christ should join himself to us, on the evenings of our sabbaths, as he joined the two disciples in their walk to Emmaus on that of his resurrection, and put the same question to us, What manner of communications are these that ye have one with another ? With what shame and confusion of face must the answer be returned.
There was to be a sabbath of the Lord in the dwellings of the Israelites, as well as in the services of the congregation and the sanctuary. The same commandment is given to us. But with how many of us does the world monopolize every hour, not spent in the house of prayer; leaving us no leisure for advancing the spiritual interests of our families, or for the secret exercise of personal religion and communion with Him who is the way and the truth, and the life of man. The religious character of a people may be fairly and accurately measured by the mode in which the Sabbath is improved or profaned. The principle of judgment is obvious. If the day which God claims exclusively for himself, be not devoted to his honour, and spent in his appointed services, all the others, over which men claim an undeniable right, will be devoted to the pursuits in which fallen nature delights; every one walking in the sight of his own eyes, and in the imagination of his own
heart. Take this standard of decision, and, although I trust, that the result will be more favourable to Great Britain, than to any other land within the pale of Christianity, yet shall we come awfully behind the spirit of that requirement, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Let us not be told, that custom has affixed a seal of authority and sanction to such appropriations of the Sabbath day, as those by which it is desecrated and polluted. If custom be commensurate in authority with the law of God, -if it will be produced before the tribunal of Christ, as the rule of his great assize, we shall do well to obey it. But, if the word which he hath spoken shall judge us in the last day, and all other rules will be as worthless as the ashes of the world, when it shall have perished in the last conflagration, it surely becomes those who must stand then and there for an eternal award, not to follow a multitude to do evil. They should receive and obey the written word; that they may find mercy of the Lord in that day, through a previous interest in the death and intercession of the Saviour Judge.
If, however, we would rightly estimate the guilt of this transgressor, we must regard, not merely his offence, but the circumstances of aggravation under which it was committed. God had been making a distinction between sins of
ignorance, and sins of daring presumption. For the former, an atonement might be made, for the latter, none. The soul that doeth presumptuously reproacheth the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the Lord, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off, his iniquity shall be upon him.1 While a denunciation so fearful was still sounding in the ears of the children of Israel, this rebellious man, openly and contemptuously profaned the sabbath; thus practically avowing his persuasion, that the prohibition of God was unreasonable, his authority usurped, his mercy worthless, his wrath contemptible. Will it now be said, that his offence was light and venial? Will it be added, that under the Christian dispensation, they shall be as little culpable who set at nought the fourth commandment, neglect the Sabbath, nay, with premeditated purpose pollute and dishonour it? Do they not deserve wrath, who thus assume an attitude of determined hostility to their God and Saviour, and cry, "Who is the Almighty that we should serve him, and what profit shall we have if we pray unto him?" Shall they escape, who, instead of partaking in the awful joy, the humble gratitude,
1 Numbers xv. 30, 31.