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righteousness? Lay aside worldly cares, remember, and prepare for this market-day, before it come, and beg skill from God how to improve it aright to the enriching of thy soul. Anciently there were laws obliging people to lay aside their work at such a particular hour on Saturday's afternoon, that they might remember and prepare for the Sabbath; likewise it was a custom in some places to have public divine exercise and worship on the Saturday's evening; so that, at the ringing of a bell for it, people gave over their work, and repaired to the church to worship God, and hear something suitable and preparatory to the Sabbath. I cannot but commend this practice, as a good way to conclude and shut up all the labours and cares of the week, and publicly to give God thanks for prospering the works of our hands; and also to confess and mourn for the carnality of our hearts, and our little minding of Christ and heaven in our weekly business, and our manifold shortcomings in our duties both to God and man, and our forgetting and not practising through the week the sermons we heard the preceding Sabbath. Likewise it is a good way to take off our hearts from the world, and to compose and spiritualize the thoughts for the work of the approaching Sabbath and also to pray and wrestle together for a blessing on the same, and for special assistance to ministers and people in the duties of the day, that the ensuing Sabbath may be one of the best Sabbaths we ever had, and that it may be one of the days of heaven to our souls.
But more particularly, the preparation needful for the Sabbath consists in these things:
1. In your dispatching and ordering your labour and businesss through the week, with such prudence and foresight that it may nowise hinder or disturb you on the Sabbathday.
2. In leaving off your work timely the night before, and going seasonably to rest, that both your servants and you may be in case to rise early on Sabbath morning, and not to be drowsy or sleepy through the day. It is a great encroachment upon the Sabbath that some are guilty of, they sit up and work later on Saturday's night than any other night of the week; thay lie longer on Sabbath morning than any other day; they go sooner to bed on Sabbath night than any other night, and they rise sooner on Mon
day morning than any other day of the week. Now, what is this but a grudging God his due time, a wearying of his day, and making it as short as you can, and seeking to win off it, if possible, for the Saturday's night and Monday's morning?
Under the law, the latter part of the day, preceding the Sabbath, was called "the day of preparation for the Sabbath," Luke xxiii. 54. intimating that it is our duty to prepare for the Sabbath before it come, and to do it upon the day preceding. Likewise, we find that Nehemiah ordered the gates of Jerusalem to be shut when it began to be dark before the Sabbath, Neh, xiii. 19. thereby teaching us timely to give over our trafficking and worldly business on the evening before the Lord's day, and not to follow our business too late, lest our thoughts be too much embarrassed with secular affairs, and we thereby indisposed for the religious duties of the ensuing holy day.
3. It would be a good way to prepare for the Lord's day, sometimes to take your children and servants on the Saturday's night, when you call them together for familyworship, and instruct them concerning the end and institution of the Lord's day which is approaching, and the nature of the service that is requisite upon it. The Lord commends Abraham for "commanding his household and children after him to keep the way of the Lord," Gen. xviii. 19. And he frequently directs the Israelites to instruct their children concerning the meaning of their rites and observation; and particularly concerning the passover, he saith, Exod. xii. 26, 27. "And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean you by this service? that ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians," &c. So in like manner, concerning the observation of the Lord's day, you should tell your families, "The day of sacred rest, now approaching, is a memorial of God's wonderful love to us, that when we were lost and undone by sin, cursed by the divine law, and excluded out of God's rest, our Lord Jesus Christ undertook a great work for us, to make up our peace, become our surety, and bear the curse and wrath due to us; and when he had so done, and finished his work of redemption, he, on the first day of the week, entered into his
rest by his resurrection, and thereby made known to us that we should keep this day as a day of holy rest to him, in remembrance of his glorious work, and as a pledge of our celebrating an everlasting Sabbath with him above, in admiring his love, and singing his praise. And therefore let us make suitable preparation for this solemn day, and the duties of it." Alas! the omission of such instructions as these to young persons, doth cause the observation of this day, with many, to be built only on custom and example; and hence follows the great neglect of Sabbath sanctification, which is so common among us.
4. If you would prepare for the Sabbath, call off your thoughts timely on Saturday's night, from worldly cares and business, that you may think on the great work of the approaching day: and labour to put yourselves in as solemn and as serious a frame, as if you were to die and step into eternity, and clear accounts at God's tribunal, or as if you were visibly to meet with God, and solemnly treat with him concerning your salvation.
As godly Nehemiah took care to shut the gates of Jerusalem on the evening before the Sabbath, that no burdens might be carried in on the Sabbath-day; so secure you the gates of your hearts on the Saturday's evening that no worldly thing may enter to disturb you in the performance of the great and solemn duties of the Sabbath.
5. Look back on the bypast week, and examine your actions therein as particularly as you can, and repent for all the sins thereof, whether of omission or commission, and flee to the blood of Christ to be cleansed from the guilt and filth of them; that so you may be prepared to appear before a holy God, who is "of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity." O seek to get all quarrels through the week removed, that you may have a reconciled God to meet with upon the Sabbath."
6. Study to have a deep sense of your wants upon your spirits, that you may get suitable supplies for them upon the Sabbath. If you were going to a great market next day, you would be thinking the night before what you wanted or needed thereat: The Sabbath is the great market day for your souls, when you may hear Christ crying, as Rev. iii. 18. "I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in
the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed," &c.
7. Think upon the great design of the Sabbath, the commemmoration of Christ's redeeming love; and entertain serious and thankful thoughts of the goodness of God manifested in the glorious work of redemption; and with godly Nehemiah, (Neh. ix. 14.) bless God for giving you the Sabbath, since it is such a pleasant and profitable day for the soul.
8. Beg earnestly for God's help to sanctify the Sabbath, and that God may put you in a spiritual frame for the work thereof, and that you may have grace to leave all your worldly care" at the bottom of the hill, while you go up into the mount to worship God, and return again to them." Beg that the sins of the bygone week, and the misimprovement of former Sabbaths, may not hinder God's presence upon the ensuing Sabbath. Pray that ministers may be directed to a suitable word for your soul's case, that your hearts may be prepared, your enemies restrained, and God's ordinances blessed, so that it may be a good day; " a day in God's courts is better than a thousand elsewhere."
And then, having so ordered and disposed matters, lay yourselves down to sleep in Christ's arms, and under his protection, leaving your hearts in heaven, that when you awake next morning, you may be still with God. Study to sleep, as well as "eat and drink, to the glory of God." Go to bed with this design, that your bodies may freshed, and fitted to serve your souls in the service of God upon the ensuing day.
II. Concerning the Duties of the Sabbath.
As to the second thing proposed. What things are requisite in doing the work of the Sabbath, when it is come? This is a large subject; I shall reduce all I have to say upon it to three heads :
1. What is necessary before the public worship. 2. What is necessary in time of public worship.
3. What is to be done after the public worship is over. As to the first, take these directions:
I. When you awake on Sabbath morning, rejoice at the
approach of this blessed day: As the birds chirp and sing at the dawning of the morning's light, so let believers account the light of this day sweet, as being a day of signal mercies, a day of communion with God, a day wherein the Spirit's dews fall upon the soul. As "Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day," John viii. 56. so ought you this morning, saying with the Psalmist, Psal. exviii. 24. "This is the day the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it.5
II. Let your souls be breathing forth holy meditations and ejaculations upon your very first awaking: Lift up your hearts in thanksgiving to God for that comfortable rest and sleep he hath vouchsafed to you the night past; for "it is he that giveth his beloved sleep," and who renews his mercies to us every morning. Likewise give up and dedicate yourselves wholly to God and his service this day And, betwixt your waking and rising, you may have such meditations as these: O if I could say this morning with Isaiah, chap. xxvi. 9. "With my soul have I desired thee in the night, and with my spirit within me will I seek thee early!"-Let me this morning awake early from sin to righteousness, 1 Cor. xv. 34. or that in Rom. xiii. 17, 12. "It is high time to awake out of sleep. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let me cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light." Or, think on your awaking out of the sleep of death, and arising out of the grave at the sound of the last trumpet, what a solemn wa kening that will be. Or, think of God's goodness to thee, that thou awakest in life, health and safety this morning; and say, "What a mercy is it, that God has kept my house from firing, and falling on my head! that he hath chained up Satan, my enemy, that he could neither hurt nor fright me in a visible manner! Many have lain down this night without sleep, and been full of tossings to the dawning of the day; but, blessed be God, I have laid me down in peace, I have slept and waked again, and my sleep hath been refreshing. How would I value this mercy, if I were in sickness, and could not get sleep! Many have lain down and slept, but never waked again in this world, their first waking has been in eternity; and O! how sad, if it be in the flames of hell! But, O what shall I render to the Lord, that I wake again in the land of prayer, and of hope;