« EelmineJätka »
and methinks, a well humbled and a thankful heart, should not easily let the memory of them slip.
Direct. xx. When you compose yourselves to sleep, again commit yourselves to God through Christ, and crave his protection, and close up the day with some holy exercise of faith and love.' And if you are persons that must, needs lie waking in the night, let your meditations be holy, and exercised upon that subject that is most profitable to your souls. But I cannot give this as an ordinary direction, because that the body must have sleep, or else it will be unfit for labour, and all thoughts of holy things must be serious; and all serious thoughts will hinder sleep, and those that wake in the night, do wake unwillingly, and would not put themselves out of hopes of sleep, which such serious meditations would do. Nor can I advise you (ordinarily) to rise in the night to prayer, as the papists' votaries do. For this is but to serve God with irrational and hurtful ceremony. and it is a wonder how far such men will go in ceremony, that will not be drawn to a life of love and spiritual worship: unless men did irrationally place the service of God in praying this hour rather than another, they might see how improvidently and sinfully they lose their time, in twice dressing and undressing, and in the intervals of their sleep, when they might spare all that time, by sitting up the longer, or rising the earlier, for the same employment. Besides what tendency it hath to the destruction of health, by cold and interruption of necessary rest; when God approveth not of the disabling of the body, or destroying our health, or shortening life (no more than of murder or cruelty to others); but only calleth us to deny our unnecessary, sensual delights, and use the body so as it may be most serviceable to the soul and him.
I have briefly laid together these twenty Directions for the right spending of every day, that those that need them, and cannot remember the larger more particular Directions, may at least get these few engraven on their minds, and make them the daily practice of their lives; which if you will sincerely do, you cannot conceive how much it will conduce to the holiness, fruitfulness, and quietness of your lives, and to your peaceful and comfortable death.
Directions for the holy spending of the Lord's Day in Families.
Direct. 1. BE well resolved against the cavils of those carnal men, that would make you believe that the holy spending of the Lord's day is a needless thing. For the name whether it shall be called the Christian sabbath, is not much worth contending about: undoubtedly the name of The Lord's Day,' is that which was given it by the Spirit of God, and the ancient Christians, who sometimes called it, The Sabbath,' by allusion, as they used the names, Sacrifice and Altar: the question is not so much of the name as the thing; whether we ought to spend the day in holy exercises, without unnecessary divertisements? And to settle your consciences in this, you have all these evidences at hand.
1. By the confession of all, you have the law of nature to tell you, that God must be openly worshipped, and that some set time should be appointed for his worship. And, whether the fourth commandment be formally in force or abrogated, yet it is commonly agreed on that the parity of reason, and general equity of it, serveth to acquaint us, that it is the will of God that one day in seven be the least that we destinate to this use; this being then judged a meet proportion by God himself, (even from the creation, and on the account of commemorating the creation,) and Christians being no less obliged to take as large a space of time, who have both the creation and redemption to commemorate, and a more excellent manner of worship to perform.
2. It is confessed by all Christians that Christ rose on the first day of the week, and appeared to his congregated disciples on that day, and poured out the Holy Ghost on them on that day, and that the apostles appointed, and the Christian churches observed, their assemblies and communion ordinarily on that day; and that these apostles were filled with the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost, that
a Since the writing of this, I have published a Treatise of the Lord's Day.
they might infallibly acquaint the church with the doctrine and will of Jesus Christ, and leave it on record for succeeding ages; and so were intrusted by office, and enabled by gifts, to settle the orders of the Gospel-church, as Moses did the matters of the tabernacle and worship then; and so that their laws or orders thus settled, were the laws or orders of the Holy Ghost d.
3. It is also confessed, that the universal church from the days of the apostles down till now, hath constantly kept holy the Lord's day in the memorial of Christ's resurrection, and that as by the will of Christ delivered to them by or from the apostles insomuch that I remember not either any orthodox Christian, or heretic, that ever opposed, questioned, or scrupled it, till of late ages. And as a historical discovery of the matter of fact, this is a good evidence that indeed it was settled by the apostles; and consequently by Christ who gave them their commission, and inspired them by the Holy Ghost.
4. It is confessed, that it is still the practice of the universal church; and those that take it to be but of ecclesiastical appointment, some of them mean it of such extraordinary ecclesiastics as inspired apostles, and all of them take the appointment as obligatory to all the members of the church.
5. The laws of the land where we live command it, and the king by proclamation urgeth the execution; and the canons, and homilies, and liturgy shew that the holy observation of the Lord's day, is the judgment and will of the governors of the church. Read the homilies for the time and place of worship. Yea, they require the people to say when the fourth commandment is read, "Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law." And the command of authority is not a contemptible obligation.
6. It is granted by all, that more than this is due to God, and the life that is in every Christian telleth him, that it `is a very great mercy to us; not only to servants, but even to all men, that one day in seven they may disburden them
c Mark xvi. 2. 9. Luke xxiv. 1.
d John xx. 1. 19. 26. Acts ii. 1. XX. 7. 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2 Rev. i. 10. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. John xvi. 13-15. Rom. xvi. 16. 2 Thes. ii. 15.
selves of all the cares and business of the world, which may hinder their holy communion with God and one another, and wholly apply themselves to learn the will of God. And nature teacheth us to accept of mercy when it is offered to us, and not dispute against our happiness.
7. Common experience telleth us, that where the Lord's day is more holily and carefully observed, knowledge and religion prosper best; and that more souls are converted on those days, than on all the other days besides; and that the people are accordingly more edified; and that wherever the Lord's day is ordinarily neglected or misspent, religion and civility decay, and there is a visible, lamentable difference between those places and families, and the other.
8. Reason and experience tell us, that if men were left to themselves, what time they should appoint for God's public worship, in most places it would be so little, and disordered, and uncertain, that religion would be for the most part banished out of the now Christian world. Therefore there being need of a universal law for it, it is probable that such a law there is; and if so, it can be by none but God, the Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Ghost, there being no other universal Governor and Lawgiver to impose it.
9. All must confess, that it is more desirable for unity and concord sake, that all Christians hold their holy assemblies on one and the same day, and that all at once throughall the world, do worship God and seek his grace, than that they do it some on one day, and some on another.
10. And all that ever I have conversed with, confess, that if the holy spending of the Lord's day be not necessary it is lawful; and therefore when there is so much to be said for the necessity of it too, to keep it holy is the safest way, seeing this cannot be a sin, but the contrary may; and licence is encouragement enough to accept of so great a mercy. All this set together will satisfy a man, that hath any spiritual sense of the concernments of his own and others' souls.
Object. But you will say, 'That besides the name, it is yet a controversy whether the whole day should be spent in holy exercises, or only so much as is meet for public communion, it being not found in antiquity, that the churches used any further to observe it.'
Answ. No sober man denieth that works of necessity for the preservation of our own or other men's lives, or health, or goods, may be done on the Lord's day so that when we say, that the whole day is to be spent holily, we exclude not eating and sleeping, nor the necessary actions about worship; as the priests in the temple are said to break the sabbath, (that is, the external rest,) and to be blameless. But otherwise, that it is the whole day, is evident in the arguments produced: the ancient histories and canons of the church speak not of one part of the day only, but the whole: all confess, that when labour or sinful sports are forbidden, it is on the whole day, and not only on a part. And for what is alleged of the custom of the ancient church, I answer, 1. The ancientest churches spent almost all the day in public worship and communion: they begun in the morning, and continued without parting till the evening. The first part of the day being spent in teaching the catechumens, they were then dismissed, and the church continued together in preaching and praying, but especially in those laudatory, eucharistical offices, which accompany the celebration of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. They did not then, (as gluttons do now,) account it fasting to forbear a dinner, when they supped, yea, feasted at night; it being not usual among the Romans to eat any dinners at all. And they that spent all the day together in public worship and communion, you may be sure spent not part of it in dancing, nor stage-plays, nor worldly businesses. 2. And church history giveth us but little account what particular persons did in private, nor can it be expected. 3. Who hath brought us any proof that ever the church approved of spending any part of the day in sports, or idleness, or unnecessary, worldly business? Or that any churches (or persons regardable) did actually so spend it? 4. Unless their proof be from those many canons of our own and other churches, that command the holy observation of it, and forbid these plays and labours on it; which I confess doth intimate, that some there were that needed laws to restrain them from the violation of it. 5. Again I say, that seeing few men will have the face to say that plays and games, or idleness are a duty on that day, it will suffice a holy, thankful Christian, if he have but leave, to spend all the