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when they join interests, and put all the favour that each of them hath at the throne of grace into one common stock ! When we come to the public prayers we are not to come as auditors but as actors; we have our part in them; and every petition that is spread before God ought to be breathed from our very hearts and souls; which, if we affectionately perform, we may have good assurance that what is ratified by so many votes and suffrages here on earth shall likewise be confirmed in heaven. For our Saviour hath told us, Matt. xviii., 19, that if two shall agree together on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them by His Father which is in Heaven.
Our reverent and attentive hearing of the Word of God, either read or preached, is another public duty necessary to the sanctification of the Sabbath. This was observed also in the times of the law, before Christ's coming into the world. Acts xv., 21. “Moses, of old time, hath in every city them who preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day.” Their synagogues were built for this very purpose ; and as their temple was the great place of their legal and ceremonial worship, so these were for their moral and natural worship. In the temple they chiefly sacrificed ; and in their synagogues they prayed, read, and heard. And every town, and almost every village, had one erected in it, as now our churches are, where the people on the Sabbath day assembled together, and had some portion of the law read and expounded to them. Much more ought we to give our attendance on this holy ordinance now in the times of the Gospel, since a greater measure of spiritual knowledge is required from us, and the mysteries of salvation are more clearly declared unto us.
Thus much concerning the sanctification of the Lord's day in the publiç duties of His worship and service. But what! hast thou no Sabbath work to do after thou returnest from the congregation and public assemblies? Yes, certainly; the day is not done when the church dissolves; and the whole of it is holy to the Lord. And, therefore, when you return every one to your families, there are private and family duties to be performed. Walks and visits are not to be evening work of the Sabbath, but holy and spiritual conferences are then proper; either to bring to your remembrance the truths you before have heard, or to engage your own hearts, or the hearts of others, to admire and magnify God for all His great wonders of providence and redemption. Indeed, if a walk be thus improved, it may be a walk to heaven. So we find the two disciples, who on this day were walking to Emmaus, how they entertained themselves and shortened their way with spiritual and holy discourses. Luke xxiv., 13-15. But those who have families to look after will be best employed in seeing that those who are under their charge spend the vacant time of the Sabbath in holy exercises
; either reading the Scripture or giving an account of what truths they have been taught, or joining with them in praises and prayer unto God, or, indeed, in all of these, in their several courses and order; till night calls for repose, and delivers them over, with a sweet seasoning and blessing, to the labours and employments of the ensuing day and week.
If there be any spare time from these public and private duties, then sanctify it by entering into thy closet, and there unbosom thy soul before God in secret prayer, spread thy requests before Him, lay open thy wants and desires. And though, perhaps, thou art not gifted to word a prayer, yet sigh and groan out a prayer, for thy God hears thee; and He understands the language of sighs, and knows the meanings of His Spirit in the inarticulate groans of His children. Here, likewise, in secret meditate on what thou hast heard ; admire the glory of God in His works, the goodness of God in His providences, the infinite mercy of God in His promises. Certainly meditation is one great duty of a Sabbath; without which, to hear the Word of God only, is but to swallow our meat without chewing it. It is meditation that makes it fit for nourishment; this sucks the juice and sweetness out of it, concorporates it into us, and turns it into life and substance.
Thus, if we endeavour to sanctify the Lord's day, the Lord will sanctify His day and His ordinances unto us, and by them convey so much joy and comfort into our souls that they shall be a temporary heaven unto us, and fit us for that eternal Sabbath, where we shall continually give praise and glory unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.
SIR MATTHEW HALE.
GOD ALMIGHTY is the Lord of our time, and lends it to us; and as it is but just we should consecrate this part of that time to Him, so I have found, by a strict and diligent observation, that a due observation of the duty of this day hath ever had joined to it a blessing upon the rest of my time, and the week that hath been so begun hath been blessed and prosperous to me; and on the other side, when I have been negligent of the duties of this day, the rest of the week has been unsuccessful and unhappy to my own secular employments ; so that I could easily make an estimate of my successes in my own secular employments the week following by the manner of my passing of this day; and this I do not write lightly or inconsiderately, but upon a long and sound observation and experience.
BRIGHT shadows of true rest! some shoots of bliss;
Heaven once a week ;
A day to seek
The narrow way ;
The cool o'th' day;
And home of rest;
EXTERNAL worship doth openly acknowledge a deity, but want of inward sense in worship secretly denieth it: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” It is strange to hear so much noise of religion in the world, and to find so little piety. To present the living God with a carcase of lifeless worship is to pay Him with shells of services, and so to mock Him ; and it is a more admirable longsuffering in Him to defer the punishment of such devotion than of all the other sins in the world. The Egyptian temples were rich and stately fabrics : a stranger who had looked upon them without would have imagined some great deity within ; but if they entered, (as Lucian says, laughing at them,) nothing was to be seen but only some ape, or cat, or pied bull, or some other fine god like those. To behold our fair semblance of religion who frequent this house, it would appear that we were all the temples of the Holy Ghost; but whoso could look within us would find in many of our hearts lust, pride, avarice, or some such like secret vice adored as a god. And these are they which, while our bodies sit here, do alienate our souls from the service of the eternal God; so that we are either altogether senseless and dead before Him; or, if any fit of spiritual motion rise within us, we find it here, and here we leave it, as if it were sacrilege to take it home with us. But did once that Spirit of Grace breathe savingly upon our souls, we should straight renounce and abhor those base idols, and then all the current of our affection would run more in this channel; our services would then be spiritual, and it would be our