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be done-a day no longer set apart for God, holy and honourable, but given up as all the other six are, to the service of mammon.
And then, when this comes to pass, who will be the chief losers by the change? You, brethren, who toil with your hands for your daily bread-you, the working classes—who most need the Sabbath—who want the repose, the leisure, the rest, the calm and quiet which the Sabbath was meant to bring you—you will be the chief sufferers by its being set aside, trampled on, and treated as a common day. You will have to fulfil your daily tasks as at present--and you will have this task over and above-you will have to give your twelve hours on the seventh day to whatever work your employers may put before you.
On your account, then-on all our accounts—but on your account most of all, do I feel we are concerned to make a stand against any further inroad on the Sabbath. It is on your behalf that I would protest against those, whose views, if carried out, would rob you of the sacred rest that God has provided for you in this holy appointment.
Already, already is that rest too much encroached upon—too much of it stolen for worldly pleasure, or worldly business. Already have we suffered by letting slip from us much of the old sacredness that belonged to Sunday—by doing on that day things which had better be left to other days, omitting to do in it what we can do on no other day so well.
And when I say this, I would not be misunderstood I am not pleading—I never have pleaded, for a Jewish observance of the Sabbath. I am free to grant that we may do many things on the Sunday which it would be unlawful for a Jew to do on his Sabbath.
I do not wish to restrict any man's liberty in harmless things; nor would I lay down rules for the exact way of spending Sunday. That must be left to each man's own conscience. What one may do without offence, would be to another a cause of grievous stumbling. To our own Master we stand or fall.
But when it is not a matter of detail, but one of principle—when the question is, shall the Sabbath be maintained as God's great boon to man—the day of rest—the day of religious worship-—the day of rest, more especially for those who most need rest; the day of religious worship for those who have scant leisure for such exercise at other times—when such is the question we may all surely agree about the answer. We must all see that it is for our common good-our own good and the good of those who are to come after us—that it may be well with us and our children—to keep the Sabbath, from polluting it-to honour it and its great Author, by every possible means in our power. We must all alike feel that a restday which God Himself has consecrated to us—which He has given us not only in the law, but from the very beginning of the world; which so exactly suits the wants of our human nature-yea, and of the dumb beasts that we have made our slaves—is a day not by any of us to be called common-is a most precious part of our Christian inheritance, and one that we are bound to leave to those who shall come after us not the worse for passing through our hands !
Our fathers, brethren, kept this rest, and then it was well with them—they prospered in what they undertook because, on the whole, they were a religious God-fearing people—and who shall say that, if this great bond of piety be broken, England will not fall from her high place among the nations ?
Let all, then, who love their country—who care about what may happen to this great land, not only while themselves are on it, but ages hence, in the generations to come, let all such unite in honouring this ordinance of God, this foundation stone of true religion.
Let it not be laid at our door that the mischief first begun with us—that it was in our time that neglect of the Lord's Day spread far and wide throughout the land. Let not those who shall write our history, have to record of us, to our shame and reproach—“Those were the days when a Christian people, once famous for piety, left off to behave themselves wisely, and opened the door to all ungodliness by profaning the Sabbath !”
Lest this should happen, let an effort now be made to stave off such a reproach. Let those who have influence exert it to promote amongst us a better observance of Sunday. Let each do his part, as each may, to bring about so desirable an end.
By abstaining ourselves from questionable pursuits on this sacred day—by seeking God's courts, undeterred by little difficulties of weather and the like—by laying aside all that may be called unnecessary business—by keeping the heart free for God, and open to all good and religious impressions — by employing our leisure in kindly intercourse, and holy reading-let us make manifest to all men that we have entered into the blessed rest of the Lord's Day.
Others, in due time, will follow-some out of every house will surely be won from their present carelessness and neglect, by the mere force of good example. We may be opposed by them at the first, but we shall have their thanks by-and-by. They will confess, whom we have gained over to refrain their foot from the Sabbath, that ours is the better part. They will, when they have tried it, when they have themselves tasted of its comfort, say with us, Blessed is the man that keepeth the seventh day to sanctify it, as the Lord commanded us !
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
HEBREWS II. 18.
For in that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour
them that are tempted.
It is of our Lord’s Temptation, brethren, that I would speak to you this morning. We have read the account of it again in the second lesson, and it may be well, while it is yet fresh in our minds, to dwell upon it, and mark in how many ways it has been written for our learning.
Perhaps of all the lessons which we ought to gain from this subject, the greatest is that which the text presents to us—In that He Himself hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succour us when we are tempted.
Experienced Himself in our troubles—a Fellow-Sufferer with us in all we undergo-walking with us, Himself unhurt, in the midst of the fire, the Lord has, we are sure, the closest sympathy with us in all our trials the will, and also the power to help us to the uttermost.