صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

national habits. Such is their flux and migratory character, that they require to be fixed and embodied in our permanent institutions, or they speedily vanish. But even the stated services can effect but little towards perpetuating a religious habit, if the tone of mind, instead of being sustained throughout the day, is to be subjected to the counterworking influence of secular employments, whether, of business or recreation. If the day be divided between religious duties, and the thoughts, and cares, and pleasures of the world, it is evident to the least penetrating, that the Lord's day will soon become a merely nominal title. In essence and effect the total day will soon belong to our unrenewed nature, and pass under the dominion of a devouring depravity. When an inroad is made upon the Sabbath, no barrier line can stop the progress of desecration. One practice of disrespect gives birth to another, encroachment follows encroachment, till the queen of days is stripped of her diadem, and mingled with the crowd and riot of the week.

Still there are those who think, or affect to think, that neither the Lord of heaven and earth, nor the Saviour of the world, has any thing more to do with the Sunday than to receive the homage of a periodical service. According to them,

the scriptural injunction, to keep holy the Sabbath day, is to be taken with reference to that part only which is allotted to be spent in church. The rest of the day belongs, as they think, to man's dominion, whether for gain or gaiety, business or pastime, pomp or dissipation. They see neither profit in pious discourse, nor beauty in family instruction. In the interval between the morning and evening solemnities, when the public orisons have ceased, the voice from the sanctuary invites them in vain to continue in holy exercise; the silent summons is disregarded, that calls them to converse with God; no whisper in the stillness of the Sabbath evening refreshes their souls with intimations of mercy from above; no duty of self-inquiry shuts the door of their minds upon a carnal world, till the day is closed in peace. God has a stint allowed him for appointed service; the residue of the day is challenged by his creatures as their own, to use or abuse.

Many and various are the causes, proximate and remote, which involve the destinies of states and empires. Many operate unobserved, by a train of silent consequences; some by decided, some by ambiguous influence; some by slow results, some by rapid development, some through the passions, some through the under

standing, some by physical, some by moral agency; but in the history of every nation, some ascendant cause usually takes the lead, and works with a preponderating influence, controlling the issues of events in a course of aggrandizement or depression. In the great career of this nation, the consecration of the Sabbath has been the basis of our peculiar glory. Here only, and principally within the pale of our national church, the day of the Lord has been proclaimed a day of thorough sanctity, in its entire length. Throughout the continent of Europe, and chiefly where the Roman superstition has relaxed the hold of vital faith, the Sunday has been divided between God and man;-a brief ceremonial part being given to Jehovah; the total remainderalas! how much the larger portion !-being covered by the claims of this present world and its importunate interests.



Or all our privileges, the distinction of this sacred day is the most important in a political view. It involves not merely our character, but our existence, as a great nation. On this day the soul is recruited from the fountain of spiritual life; all things appear to disclose their beginnings, and remount to the First Great Cause; the poor are lifted out of the mire, to be set among princes; the Lord reigneth in special majesty, and, to the multitude of the Isles, it is a day of gladness; righteousness looketh down from heaven, and on this blessed day Jehovah speaketh peace unto his people, and to his saints. Great day of gifts and graces! in which the wanderer is invited back to his paternal home; and the child of disobedience is reminded of his debt of love; his roving heart is silently reclaimed, and with gentle force arrested and constrained; his hopes and fears are directed to their proper centre; wrath and emulation, and the strife of tongues, are commanded to be still; with the returns of sacred service

[ocr errors]

fresh impulses of gratitude are imparted; new channels of thought are opened; men come before each other with improved appearance, and an increase of mutual respect; the noise of rustic labour and the din of the anvil are suspended; the shops and marts pour forth a comparatively peaceful population; cleanliness brightens the countenance, and the sweat is wiped from the brow; such, in short, is the value of this day to man, that his great spiritual enemy has no shorter way of compassing his ends against his soul and body, than by persuading him to give ear to those unsanctified arguments, which would diminish ought of the sacred rest, and solemn dedication of the Sabbath of the Lord.

This day is the nursling of the Church of England; she hides it in her bosom, and hushes. it to repose. She will give it into the hands, neither of the Jew, the Papist, nor the Puritan, still less will she cast it upon the world, to be baptized and nurtured in its temporizing principles and lax observances. The ordinance of the Sabbath is with her as fixed as the firmament.. She enjoins on this day the "mirth of the tabret to cease," and the roll of idle vehicles, and all commotion, whether of business or pleasure, to be suspended, that wearied nature may have lei..

« السابقةمتابعة »