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says, "you have forgot some other captivating sin. He occupies your attention with the history of your infirmities and negligences, opposes all to your present favoured frame, and declares your joy, at last, no more than that of a Herod, or of a stony ground hearer.
9. His cruelty is seen, as clearly, in leaving a soul, for some considerable time. Perhaps, formality or a worldly spirit follows. Now, he surprises the soul: "examine yourself," he says, "are you like the Bible saints? No! nor other pretenders! the Bible then, is not He asks, "do you see its threatnings fulfilled? Do you, or any others, answer its description of a saint? Do find its promises fulfilled to yourself? If so, perhaps, there is no God; nay, it is impossible! if there is, how cruel, to suffer man to fall, and suffer all his race to come into the world with such passions, occasions, and propensities to evil. Yet, though all alike, to choose some and damn the rest! to leave the heathen without his word; there can be no God." Now the soul feels provocation to blaspheme God, which it dreads! cannot pray to him; feels wretched. " Pray to me; the cruel insinuation comes from Satan. Nor need we wonder, for he said to Jesus, "if thou wilt fall down and worship me, all shall be thine."
10. His temptations from DOCTRINES disover his CRUELTY. Some are mysterious; as the Trinity, the union of the divine and human nature in the person of Christ. Regeneration. He says, they may be wrong; learned men differ: there can be no certainty; unless it is, that they are unreasonable. Some, he says, are unjust. As election. "Parents," he says, "think of your dear little children," think of your kind relatives, your amiable acquaintance: what can you receive it, that they may be damned?” “ others," he says, are untrue." He demands of you, to say, if many shining and esteemed saints do not fall? And if they fell, so may others: so may you. "Look," says he, "at your own falls; consider your feelings, fears and failings, and you must see that final perseverance is false." Others, he declares, are nonsense. "One man redeem all the elect; he, God and man; God's dear son; happy if the elect had never been; or been damned for ever; and yet deliver him. up to sufferings fiercer than Hell! and, since they failed, must have his righteousness imputed to them? It is foolishness, he exclaims !" Others, he declares, are cruel. He a good God, and yet ordain to damn millions! and for ever too! Some, he says, are delusive, sanctified! "Ah! look at others, are they holy? Look within, are you pure in heart?" Thus cruelly does he wrest the Scripture, and torture the souls of God's dear people.
11. Persecution is another engine of Satan's cruelty.-The Roman Emperors, the Pope and his adherents, Queen Mary and her bloody Bishops, were his slaves in this work. "Millions of property has it wrested from God's needy people, and rendered thousands and tens of thousands of families destitute, afflicted, tormented.
The nearest relations have taken their share against believers. Ah! what hard and reproachful names have been affixed by it on the best of men. Racks, prisons, dungeons, and flames, are but sparks of Satan's kindling against God's chosen. Nero, at the sight of Rome in flames, took his harp, and began to be merry. Faint image of Satan's cruelty, who is never so well pleased as when Christians are tortured.
12. Death also, when near and distant, Satan handles for the gratification of his CRUEL DISPOSITION.-He raises forebodings of pain in death, and thus keeps thousands in bondage. He improves our ignorance of its nature, and points to the imagination the tremendous consequences if we should be wrong at last, which he foretels will doubtless be the case. Some awful portions of Scripture, wrested to serve his purpose, with heavy charges from the whole life, joining with particular instances of infirmity and ingratitude, he now collects, to make the soul believe that it is, and always has been, a hypocrite; and that death will only prove" a trap-door to Hell."
THE CHRISTIAN SABBATH.
THE sabbath was made for man: for the rest of his body after six days' labour; and to promote the happiness of his soul.
And by whom was it made or appointed' By him who is the Lord of our time,-expressive of his authority to appoint it for holy ends; his wisdom, in allowing six parts of our time to follow our temporal interest, and a seventh only, to seek the enjoyment of himself, and promote his glory.
Is a seventh portion of our time too much to be devoted to God, and the interests of the soul?
Has not the Creator, Governor, Saviour, and Judge of man, a right to this portion of our time? Does not his goodness and mercy deserve it?
Does "the blessed God," forfeit his right, or resign his claim, by "patience, forbearance and long suffering," with sabbath-breakers?
Does he not bless the sabbath day, to impart knowledge, holiness, and happiness to those who "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy?" Are not millions of souls converted to God, strengthened in faith, supported in trouble, qualified for usefulness, and cheered
by the hopes of a blessed immortality on that day? Can any fallen creature expect the divine blessing by devoting this sacred day, to idleness, business, or pleasure?
Do those who profane the sabbath, rejoice in a dying hour insuch a neglected God, the soul, and its salvation?
Do those who have filled up the Sabbath by sacred duties and enjoyments, ever repent of such conduct, when death approaches, time ends, and judgment and eternity open to their view?
Will not masters, mistresses, and parents, who allow, or command, or set their servants and children the EXAMPLE of breaking the Sabbath,-feel their conduct, when health and life forsake them, to be the sting of death, the terror of judgment, and the overwhelming gloom of eternity?
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy:" said the minister at church. What was your answer? "Lord have MERCY upon us," for breaking this law. You added,- "incline our hearts
to keep this law."
Was this prayer offered in sincerity? If so, you will regard the DAY as the Lord's day, and not a part, only; and devote the other parts to your shop, your accounts, your company, your journey, your dogs and guns, your bed, or your fields. You will not contradict your prayers, or attempt to make them a covering for your worldly conversation, the neglect of family devotion, forgetfulness of secret prayer, and a serious attention to your Bible, your soul, your salvation, and eternal life. If you are sincere at a place of worship-in praying to God to incline 66 heart to your remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy?"you will be the same person in your family and in your closet. The Papists go to church in the morning, and the theatre in the evening, after saying the same prayer, without praying. Your theatre may be the table, the field, the trifling or slanderous chit-chat,-the accounts, the sauntering walk, the fashionable visit,-the novel,-the music, the letter of business, or pleasure, the devotion to your own will.
Is this Christianity? Is this following Christ? Is this consistent with your morning prayer in public," Lord have mercy upon us, incline our hearts to keep this law," of " Remembering the Sabbath day, to keep it holy?" What will your children, your wife, your servants, your neighbours, your minister, your conscience, your JUDGE, think of your sincerity?
The observance of the Sabbath will prove a blessing to us through the other days of the week.
The celebrated judge, Sir Matthew Hale, observed, "I have found by strict and long observation, that a due regard to the duties of the Lord's day hath ever had joined to it a blessing on the rest of my time."
It promotes the peace of the mind and the health of the body: affords us such a weighty sense of God, in his grace and providence,
as cherishes dependence for earthly blessings-suppresses distracting cares,-inspires a love of temperance, and shields from temptation, from business, pleasures, or evil examples. Arms our mind with fortitude against the trials and changes of life.
Considering the Sabbath day in its antiquity and author-its nature, design and advantage, who would expect from a rational, sinful dying, immortal being, an OBJECTION to such a sacred and interesting institution? Yet objections there are.
Ten thousand hair-dressers say, it is against the law of fashion, which has more influence on them than the law of God!
Thousands of coachmen and chaise-drivers, ostlers and publicans, hire themselves to masters whom they serve on the Lord's day, as if they had no MASTER IN HEAVEN.
A second class are too conceited to learn their duties-too good to require exhortation; but will condescend to visit a place of worship once a day, to say their prayers, bribe conscience, save appearances, please a fellow creature, make an appointment for business, show their cloaths, or promote their worldly interest. But their hearts are not engaged on divine objects. Religion is their burden, even in its form. "Behold! what a weariness it is."
1. Some would like to keep the Sabbath day, but they cannot spare time.
From what? their business or pleasure?
But have they no business with their Maker,-with a Redeemer? What not spare a seventh part of your time for the concerns of salvation and eternity?
Art thou Lord of time? Is time thy own property? Must you not give an account of time, when thy time shall be no more? Are the interests of the soul so trivial, as not to be worth one day in seven, as not to demand it? Proceed then-and take six whole days, and as much of the seventh as you please, and spend it in the service of Satan,—of the world and the flesh. Go on, trifler-a little longer, and you shall soon know whose time you have devoted to your pride and vanity, your covetousness and lusts. Go on,until disease renders you unable to attend public worship,-and death drives you away from abused time into an awful ETERNITY! 2. Are your infirmities your hindrances?
Then keep the Sabbath at home. But beware of deceiving yourself by excuses, as many do, whose worldly minds contrive to be ill on the Lord's day,-they were so ill, that they could not attend the house of God. But how happens it, that you are generally poorly on the Sabbath day? Do your weaknesses keep you from work on the week days? Or, are you ready for the world on Monday morning? Who that hears your complaints, can forbear thinking that your infirmities are hypocritical excuses, and prove that your disease is in your soul, rather than in your body? Your spirit is evidently indifferent towards God, and the duties and privileges of the gospel.
We may soon hear, that God's hand is upon you indeed, by a long confinement to your chamber, or your bed.
Beware of undue indulgence in eating, drinking, sleeping, sitting idly in your chair, when nothing but a healthy soul is wanting, to induce you to attend public worship. You may see numbers older and weaker, both regular and constant at public worship. Being planted in the house of the Lord, they flourish, and bear fruit in old age. Psalm xcii.
Ask your CONSCIENCE-whether your unfrequent and interrupted attendance, is not from an unhealthy soul, rather than a weak body? Would you not often be at God's house when you stay at home, if by going, you would be as much gratified as at a feast, a market, or a party on pleasure?
3. Some say, "I can spend the sabbath at HOME, as well as at church or meeting."
Is this a fact? If God commands you to worship him in public, nor to forsake the ASSEMBLING yourselves, as the manner of some is, how dare you say that this is an unnecessary command —that you can improve as much in private as public. Can you improve your soul in holiness and joy, without a divine blessing? Can you reasonably expect the blessing of God, by neglect of his public honours and worship?
Your improvement is but one of the ends of public worship; the honour of God is more promoted in public than in private, and, therefore, "God loveth the Gates of Zion more than the private families of his people. Does God love the assemblies of his people? Let us imitate him in this, and love it also. "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house; the place where thy honour dwelleth."
Alas! do but examine the manner in which such spend their time at home, and you will be convinced; relatives, servants, and masters will bear witness against each other. How, then, do you spend your time at home? In secret and family prayer? In teaching your children and servants? In singing the praises of God, and conversing on his word? No. Be assured that those who best spend their time at home, will be most constant and regular at public worship; private exercises prepare them for public ones. If your heart be right towards God, you will be sorry when you cannot meet the Lord's people; and, like David, say, "I was glad when they said to me, let us go up to the house of the Lord." Instead of such a devotional spirit, you are sorry when the Sabbath returns, because it interrupts your business or pleasures. If you were glad, you would not go reluctantly, but willingly; your attendance would not be seldom, but frequent; you would be deaf to excuses, rather than be conquered by them. A spiritual mind will be glad to go to the Lord's house; a worldly mind will rather stay at home.
4. "I have a large family, and cannot attend public worship as I otherwise would."