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prosecuted -though mercy, charity, and justice, are duties that supersede a rite or ceremony incompatible with their exercise, yet the Christian will seldom feel satisfied with himself, if he neglects his part in observances, that are of such import to himself and his fellow-men. That duty must be of instant exigence indeed, which will justify the desecration of a whole Sabbath. And the thoughts turn to earthly, so much more readily, than to heavenly cares: what is present, so much more forcibly affects us, through the senses, than what is future, and in expectation only: we so readily find reasons for doing what we desire, and so frequently desire the pleasures, or gains, or follies of the world, rather than the rewards of futurity: that the man who is sincere, will suspect his own integrity, when he gives judgment in favour of breaking a written commandment. He will act with a boding heart, and decide with a troubled spirit, if it is in any way against God's word. He will inquire anxiously, Could not this business be put off till to-morrow ? might not this Sabbath-breaking have been prevented by a little foresight of yesterday? may I not yet keep sacred the hours of divine service at least ? and join for awhile with my Christian brethren in those prayers and praises, which should be the chief business of the day? may I not thus, in part at least, help to keep alive the remembrance of my supreme Master, and discharge a portion of that duty, which it is of such import to myself and my fellow-creatures that I should fulfil ?
When our Lord would " have mercy, and not sacrifice," it is added, “ And a knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.” Though we now reject as unprofitable the mere external rites of the Mosaic law, the dress, the sacrifice of beasts, the burning of incense, and the shewbread for the priests; yet we may not think lightly of the knowledge of God, or despise the study of his will. To the bulk of mankind the Sabbath
supplies the only leisure for learning his holy ways. Worldly occupations and toils engage them on other days. And let them and all consider, that, though goodness of heart, which would serve a fellow-creature as itself, is better than empty form; yet our duty to God, a knowledge of his will, and a building up of our sculs in his most holy faith, can alone fill that heart with Christian graces, and sustain in our hands a real labour of love.
My brethren, if such is the import of the Sabbath, are we not, each and every one of us favoured with the light of the Gospel, bound to turn our day of rest to good account? In the discharge of this duty, the richer members of society are especially concerned; for on them depends very much the observance of it by the poorer also. Let them therefore guard, not themselves only, but their children, servants, and dependants also, from all that is inconsistent with the object of the ordinance. Let us all endeavour, not only, not to spend the day badly, but to spend it well, in encouraging and assisting others in the knowledge and love of God, as we ought to spend it. And, by God's grace, may we all employ the few Sabbaths, and the few days, which we have on earth, so that we may finally enter into that eternal Sabbath, “ that rest, which remaineth for the people of God in heaven.”1
THE FIFTH COMMANDMENT.
Exodus, xx. 12. Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
With the fifth commandment we arrive at the consideration of the second table, and our duty towards our neighbour; the sum of which is, as regards our affections, that we should love him as ourselves, and as regards our actions, that we should do to all men, as we would they should do to us. Not that these rules are to be interpreted to the letter, but by their spirit: not that the
1 Matt. xxii. 39.
2 Matt. vii. 12.