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their Ancestors. In Constantine’s Time these Days De Vit. were commanded to be observed with great Care and Strictness; and it was thought a Piece of Profaneness to be absent from the Meetings of the Christians at such Times. And St. Augustine Ser. 258. makes it a Character of a Son of the Church, to de Temp., observe the Festivals of the Charch.
Q. Why did they call the Days of their Death their Birth-Days?
A. Because they looked upon those as the true Days of their Nativity, wherein they were freed from the Pains and Sorrows of a troublesome World, placed out of the Reach of Sin and Temptation, delivered from this Valley of Tears, these Regions of Death and Misery; and born again unto the Joys and Happiness of an endless Life, an Inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away. .
Q. How ought we to observe the Festivals of the Church?
A. In such a Manner as may answer the Ends for which they were appointed : That God may be glorified by an humble and grateful Acknowledgment of his Mercies, and that the Salvation of our Souls may be advanced, by firmly believing the Mysteries of our Redemption; and by imitating the Examples of those Patterns of Piety that are set before us.
Q. What manner of keeping these Days answers these Ends?
A. We should constantly attend the Public Worship, and partake of the blessed Sacrament, if it be administered. In private we should enlarge our Devotions, and suffer the Affairs of the World to interrupt us as little as may be. We should particularly express our Rejoicing by Lore and Charity to our poor Neighbours. If we commemorate any Mystery of our Redemption, or Article of our Faith, we ought to confirm our Beliet of it, by considering all those Reasons upon wbich it is built; that we may be åble to give a good Account
of the Hope that is in us. We should 'from our Hearts offer to God the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and resolve to perform all those Duties which result from the Belief of such an Article. If we cominemorate any. Saint, we should consider the Virtues for which he was most eminent, and by what Steps he arrived at so great perfection; and then examine ourselves how far we are defective in our Duty, and earnestly beg God's Pardon for our past Failings, and his Grace to enable us to conform our Lives for the Time to come to those admirable Examples that are set before us.
Q. What Command is there concerning the Man
ner of observing Festivals under the Law ? Deut. xvi. A. That they should not appear before the Lord 16, 17.
empty. Every Man should give as he is able, &c. Wherein is contained a special Duty, of all, when they came to worship God at these Feasts, viz. to bring a present, a Heave-offering; which was a kind of Tribute of Thankfulness unto God, and withal an Acknowledgment of his Supreme Dominion over all. According to this Rule, at the Feast of the Passover, the Jews brought a Sheaf of the First-fruits of their Harvest unto the Priest, and he was to wave it before the Lord: And, until this was done, they might eat no Corn in the green Ear. And at this
Feast they paid their Firstlings and Tithes of Cattle. Lev. xxiii. At the Feast of Pentecost, when Harvest was ended,
they brought two wave Loaves of their new Corn, at which Time also they paid Tithes of Corn, so much as was threshed; and a Tribute also of a Freewill Offering of their Hand. To this may be referred the Precept of not gathering their Land clean, but that Something should be left for the Poor to glean; which was a secondary Offering to God himself.
At the Feast of Tabernacles they offered First-Fruits xxiv. 21. and Tithes of Wine and Oil, which was the Offer
ing of that Season. And in the Commandment of this Feast, we also find a Precept of not gathering the Grapes and Fruit clean, in Behalf of the Poor.
At the Te
Q. How far are Christians obliged to any Imitation in this particular?
A. They are certainly bound not to appear before the Lord with empty Hands. It is not enough to give at other Times, but it is a proper Piece of the Worship to be practised at holy Seasons. For the Actions of Men in holy Assemblies are not like their private Actions at other Times; for all the Actions in Publicare to be accounted as one Action of the whole Body, every Prayer, the Prayer of all as one. Whatsoever Worship God requires of any one alone, the same he requires also.of all met together as one, being God of the Body as a Church, as well as of any one Member as a Christian. In reference to Offerings in holy Assemblies, thus St. Paul ordains, thus the Primitive Christians prac. 1 Cor. xvi. tised, as is plain from Justin Martyr and Irenæus. 2.
Q. How are Festivals profaned?
A. When they are not regarded nor distinguished from common Days; when they are made Instruments of Vice and Vanity; when they are spent in Luxury and Debauchery; when our Joy degenerates into Sensuality, and we express it by Intemperance and Excess. And it is a very great Aggravation of our Sins at such Times, to abuse the Memory of the greatest Blessings, by making them Occasions of offending God.
Q. What are the Advantages of a serious Obser. vation of Festivals ?
A. It testifies our great regard to the Institutions of the Church, and our Obedience to our spiritual Superiors, to whom we ought to submit, as io those Heb. xii. that watch for our Souls. It Gises in our Thoughts". the great Mysteries of our Redemption. It fills our Hearts with a thankful Sense of God's great Goodness. It raises our Minds above the World, and inures us to a sober Frame and lemper of Soul. It kindles a prudent Zeal and Fervour in performing the Offices of Religion, and is very apt to produce a Readiness to do or suffer any Thing for the Name of Jesus.
nistry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ ; make
their Meekness and Patient Sufferings, be always so lively imprinted upon my Mind, that I may transcribe their Example in my Life and Conversation : That thus observing these Days of Rest here below, I may celebrate an Eternal Rest with thee hereafter in thy Heavenly Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
. II. O Lord God, in whose Sight the Death of thy for the Saints is precious, and though their Departure is Imitatiou
of the taken for Misery, yet is their Hope full of Immor-Saints, tality; and having been a little chastised, they are now greatly rewarded : Let the Meniory of what they endured, support thy Servants who are engaged in Combats and Trials here below. Abate the Power and Malice of their Enemies: that all those who hate and persecute thy Church, may he brought to Repentance, or miscarry in their cruel Designs against it; that thy Name may be celebrated to all Generations; that tby Kingdom and thy Coming may be hastened; that thy Saints may obtain the Consummation of their Bliss by the Resurrection of their Bodies and receiving the Crown of Righteousness, which thou hast prepared for all that put their Trust in thee; and that I with them may praise thy Name for ever and ever. Amen.
THE LORD'S DAY.
ated to his immediate Service ?