صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

and pursuits, may be free to explore the works and ways of God. - II. Pursuant to this remark, a second end proposed in the observation of the sabbath is to perpetuate a devout sense and acknowledgment of the wonders of creation. “ For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.”* • Here' a subject of the highest sublimity and grandeur invites our attention, and calls for our private and publick ascriptions of praise to God. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead.” Assisted by these manifestations of his glory, we may confirm our convictions of his existence, and rectify and enlarge our apprehena sions both of his character and our own. " When,” says pious David, “ when I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him ? and the son of man that thou visitest him ?!"

* Esod. xx. 11.

The splendid appearance, the magnificent arrangement, and the salutary influence of the celestial bodies, connected with the useful vicis. situdes and productions of the globe we inhabit, tend to inspire sentiments of the profoundest veneration and love for that almighty, munificent Being, “who stretcheth out the heavens like a curtain, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.” Overwhelmed by the numberless displays of his inherent excellence and perfection, we feel ourselves to be “ less than nothing, and vanity before him ;” and our wonder and thankfulness are equally excited by the abundant evidence, with which we are furnished of his parental favour and indulgence to our race. When we reflect on the ample provision, which is made for our subsistence and comfort, and realize that the whole system of nature is adapted to our circumstances and wants ; when we contemplate the curious structure of our bodies and the capacious pow. ers of our minds, we are conscious of the rę. lation in which we stand to “ the father of spirits,” and of our consequent obligations to him and one another. Motives to habitual piety and virtue, which can be derived from no other source, are called into vigorous action.

.Is it not, then, a becoming and needful

practice frequently to suspend the selfish projects of personal and momentary interest, and direct our thoughts to the beneficent author and rightful sovereign of the universe ? An. gels and archangels cast down their crowns before the throne, and unite in those seraphick Strains, “ Worthy art thou, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power : For thou hast created all things ; and for thy pleasure they are and were created." And shall man refuse to inquire, “ Where is God my maker ?» Shall man disregard the return of that holy day, which reminds him of his derivation from the greatest and best of beings, and inculcates the delightful duty of “ praising the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works ?” To prompt the faithful discharge of this duty is the design and tendency of the sabbath. It was instrumental of preserving the knowledge and worship of the true God a. mong the Israelites ; and it is manifestly con... ducive and efficacious to the same purpose among christians.

III. A third end proposed in the observation of the sabbath is the devout recollection and acknowledgment of an overruling provi

dence. « Remember that thou wast a servant in Egypt, and that the Lord brought thee out thence with a stretched out arm; there. fore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day."*

I am aware that this reason has been generally supposed peculiar to the Jews. Their emancipation from Egyptian bondage was indeed peculiar to them: And so, in the nature of things, most of the special mercies of all other times and places are peculiar to the individuals and nations on whom they are conferred. Yet to receive and enjoy providential blessings, suited to their respective conditions and necessities, is the exclusive privilege of no person or people under the sun. “ All eyes wait on God, and he satisfieth the desire of every living thing. His tender. mercies are over all his works ;” and “ he hath not left himself without witness” to any region of the earth. Beside the common tokens of his love, which are renewed to us every moment, we can easily call to remembrance a variety of signal interpositions in our behalf, both in a personal and social capacity. If, then, the, exertion of divine power, for the enlargement

* Deut. v. 15.

of the chosen tribes, inferred an obligation up-. on them to “keep the sabbath day," why should not the many benefits and deliverances, with which we are favoured, bind us to a similar practice? We, like them, are frail, imperfect, sinful creatures ; prone not only to “forget the God that made us,” but “ lightly to esteem the rock of our salvation.". Amidst the hurry and business of the week, how often do we disregard that invisible hand, which de. fends us from threatening dangers, and “gives us our meat in due season ?” Is it not, there. fore, a desirable, as well as a wise and benevolent ordination, that a day, consecrated to religion, should often occur, to arrest our wandering thoughts, and afford us leisure to review the transactions of the intervening period ; to trace the footsteps of a kind providence in our preservation and support ; and, in the closet, family, and sanctuary, to call upon our souls to “ bless the Lord, and forget not all his benefits ?" . . IV. A fourth end proposed in the observation of the sabbath is the commemoration of the great work of our redemption. . This is a dispensation so interesting in its nature and consequences, that divine wisdom has seen cause to honour it by a change of

« السابقةمتابعة »