Page images
[ocr errors]

day for the good of his soul and those about him; and if he may be reading and meditating on the Word of God, and praying and praising him, and instructing his family, while others waste that time in vanity; especially to servants and poor men that have but little other leisure all the year, to seek for knowledge, or use any such helps for their salvation. As to a poor man that is kept hungry all the week, a bare liberty of feasting with his landlord on the Lord's day, would satisfy him without a law to constrain him to it; so is it here with a hungry soul.

Direct. 11. Remember that the work of the day is, in general, to keep up knowledge and religion in the world, and to own and honour our Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator openly before all; and to have communion with God through Christ in the Spirit, by receiving and exercising his grace, in order to our communion with him in glory. Let these therefore (well understood) be your ends, and in these be you exercised all the day, and stick not hypocritically in bodily rest and outward duties. Remember that it is a day for heart-work, as well as for the exercise of the tongue, and ear, and knees; and that your principal business is with heaven: follow your hearts therefore all the day, and see that they be not idle while your bodies are exercised: nothing is done if the heart do nothing.

[ocr errors]

Direct. 111. Remember that the special work of the day is to celebrate the memorial of Christ's resurrection, and of the whole work of man's redemption by him. Labour therefore with all diligence in the sense of your natural sin and misery, to stir up the lively sense of the wonderful love of God and our Redeemer, and to spend all the day in the special exercises of faith and love. And seeing it is the Christian weekly festival, or day of thanksgiving for the greatest mercy in the world, spend it as a day of thanksgiving should be spent, especially in joyful praises of our Lord; and let the humbling and instructing exercises of the day, be all subordinate to these laudatory exercises.' I know that much time must be spent in teaching and warning the ignorant and ungodly, because their poverty and labours hinder them from other such opportunities, and we must speak to them then or not all. But if it were not for their mere necessity, and if we could as well speak to them

other days of the week, the churches should spend all the the Lord's day in such praises and thanksgivings as are suitable to the ends of the institution. But seeing that cannot be expected, methinks it is desirable that the ancient custom of the churches were more imitated, and the morning sermon being suited to the state of the more ignorant and unconverted, that the rest of the day were spent in the exercises of thanksgiving to the joy and encouragement of believers, and in doctrine suited to their state. And yet I must add, that a skilful preacher will do both together, and so declare the love and grace of our Redeemer, as by a meet application may both draw in the ungodly, and comfort those that are already sanctified, and raise their hearts in praise to God.

Direct. IV. Remember that the Lord's day is appointed specially for public worship and personal communion of the churches therein: see therefore that you spend as much of the day as you can in this public worship and churchcommunion; especially in the celebration of that sacrament which is appointed for the memorial of the death of Christ until his coming. This sacrament in the primitive church was celebrated every Lord's day; yea, and ofter, even ordinarily on every other day of the week when the churches assembled for communion. And it might be so now without any hindrance to preaching or prayer, if all things were ordered as they should be; for those prayers, and instructions, and exhortations which are most suited to this eucharistical action, would be the most suitable prayers and sermons for the church on the Lord's days. In the mean time see that so much of the day as is spent in church-communion and public worship, be accordingly improved by you; and be not at that time about your secret or family services, but take only those hours for such private duties, in which the church is not assembled; and remember how much the love of saints is to be exercised in this communion, and therefore labour to keep alive that love, without which no man can celebrate the Lord's day according to the end of the institution.

Direct. v. Understand how great a mercy it is, that you have leave thus to wait upon God for the receiving and

e 1 Cor. xi. 25, 26.

exercise of grace, and to cast off the distracting thoughts and businesses of the world, and what an opportunity is put into your hand, to get more in one day, than this world can afford you all your lives. And therefore come with gladness as to the receiving of so great a mercy, and with desire after it, and with hope to speed, and not with unwillingness as to an unpleasant task, as carnal hearts that love not God, or his grace or service, and are weary of all they do, and glad when it is done, as the ox that is unyoked.' "If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord," The affection that you have to the Lord's day, much sheweth the temper of the heart: a holy person is glad when it cometh, as loving it for the holy exercises of the day; a wicked, carnal heart is glad of it only for his carnal ease, but weary of the spiritual duties.

Direct. vi. Avoid both the extremes of profaneness and superstition in the point of your external rest' and to that end, observe 1. That the work is not for the day, but the day for the holy work: as Christ saith, "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." It is appointed for our good, and not for our hurt. 2. The outward rest is not appointed for itself, but as a means to the freedom of the mind for inward and spiritual employments: and therefore all those outward and common labours and discourses are unlawful, which any way distract the mind, and hinder either our outward or inward attendance upon God, and our edification. 3. And (whatever it was to the Jews) no common words or actions are unlawful, which are no hindrance to this communion, and worship, and spiritual edification. 4. Yea, those things that are necessary to the support of nature; and the saving of the life, or health, or estate and goods of ourselves or our neighbours, are needful duties on that day: not all those works that are truly charitable, (for it may be a work of mercy to build hospitals, or make garments for the poor, or till their ground) but such works of mercy as cannot be put off to another day, and such as

[blocks in formation]

hinder not the duties of the day. 5. The same word or action on the Lord's day which is unlawful to one man may be lawful to another; as being no hindrance, yea, a duty to him as Christ saith, "The priests in the temple break or profane the sabbath, (that is, the outward rest, but not the command) and are blameless." And the cook may be lawfully employed in dressing meat, when it were a sin in another to do it voluntarily without need. 6. The Lord's day being to be kept as a day of thanksgiving, the dressing of such meat as is fit for a day of thanksgiving is not to be scrupled the primitive Christians in the apostles' time, had their love-feasts constantly (with the Lord's supper, or after) on the evening of the day; and they could not feast without dressing meat. 7. Yet that which is lawful in itself, must be so done as consisteth with care and compassion of the souls of servants that are employed about it, that they may be deprived of no more of their spiritual benefit than needs. 8. Also that which is lawful must sometimes be forborne, when it may by scandal tempt others that are loose or weak, to do that which is unlawful: not that the mere displeasing of the erroneous should put us out of the right way; but the scandal which is spoken against in Scripture, is the laying a temptation before men that are weak to make them sin. 9. Take heed of that hypocritical and censorious temper which turneth the holy observation of the day, into a ceremonious abstinence from lawful things; and censureth those as ungodly that are not of the same mind, and forbear not such things as well as they. Mark the difference between Christ and the Pharisees in this point: much of their contention with him was about the outward observation of the sabbath; because his disciples rubbed out corn to eat on the sabbath-day; and because he healed on the sabbath, and bid the healed man, "Take up his bed and walk:" and they said, "There are six days in which men ought to work; they might come and be healed on them." And a man that is of their spirit will think that the Pharisees were in the right: no doubt Christ might have chosen another day to

h Matt. xii. 15.

John v. 17, 18.

i Luke vi. 1. 5, 6. xiii. 12. 14-16. ii. 23-28. iii. 2, 3. 5. vi. 2. 5. Luke xiv. 1. 3. 5, 6. ix. 14. 16.

vii. 22-24.

Mark i. 21. 24. John v. 9, 10. 16.

heal on; but he knew that the works which most declared the power of God, and honoured him before all, and confirmed the Gospel, were fittest for the sabbath day. Take heed therefore of the Pharisees' ceremoniousness and censoriousness. If you see a man walking abroad on the Lord's day, censure him not till you know that he doth it from profaneness or negligence: you know not but it may be necessary to his health, and he may improve it in holy meditation? If you hear some speak a word more than you think needful, of common things, or do more about meat and clothing than you think meet; censure them not till you hear their reason. A scrupulousness about such outward observances, when the holy duties of the day are no whit hindered by that thing, and a censoriousness toward those that are not as scrupulous, is too Pharisaical and ceremonious a religion for spiritual, charitable Christians. And the extremes of some godly people in this kind, have occasioned the Quakers and Seekers to take and use all days alike, and the profane to contemn the sanctifying of the Lord's day.

Tit. 2. More Particular Directions for the Order of Holy Duties.

[ocr errors]

Direct. 1. Remember the Lord's day before it cometh, and prepare for it, and prevent those disturbances that would hinder you, and deprive you of the benefit.' For preparation: 1. "Six days you must labour, and do all that you have to do." Dispatch all your business, that you may not have it then to hinder and disturb you; and see that your servants do the same. 2. Shake off the thoughts of worldly things, and clear your minds of worldly delights and cares. 3. Call to mind the doctrine taught you the last Lord's day, (and if you have servants, cause them to remember it) that you may be prepared to receive the next. 4. Go seasonably to bed, that you and your servants may not be constrained to lie long the next morning, or be sleepy on the Lord's day. 5. Let your meditations be preparatory for the day. Repent of the sins of the week past as particularly and seriously as you can; and seek for pardon and peace through Christ, that you come not with guilt or trouble upon your consciences before the Lord.

« EelmineJätka »