Imágenes de páginas

siot profaned, but honoured. But in our daily Talk, and Communication with each other, it is our Saviour's peremptory Precept, Swear not at all: a Rule so evidently right and important, that even Heathens have strictly enjoined and followed it, to the Shame of too many, who call themselves Chriftians.

Together with common swearing should be mentioned another Sin, very near akin to it, and almost always joined with it, that monstrous Custom of cursing : in direct Contradiction to all Humanity, and to the express Words of Scripture, Bless, and curse not'. To wish the heaviest Judgments of God, and even eternal Damnation, to a Perfon, for the flightest Cause, or none at all; to wish the fame to ourselves, if fome trilling Thing, that we are saying, be not true, which frequently after all is not true; amounts to the most desperate Impiety, if People at all consider what they say. And though they do not, it is even then thoughtlessly treating God, and his Laws, and the awful Sanctions of them, with Contempt: and blotting out of their Minds all serious Regard to Subjects, that will one Day be found most ferious Things. His Delight was in Curjing, says the Psalmist, and it Mall happen unto him: he loved not Bleffing, therefore fall it be far from him m.

3. Besides the Offences already mentioned, all indecent and unfit Use of God's Name in our Discourse, though it be not in swearing or cursing, comes within the Prohibition of this Commandment. All irreverent Sayings, and even Thoughts, concerning his Nature and Attributes, his Actions and his Commands, fall under the same Guilt; unless we are tormented with fuch Thoughts, whether we will or not: for then they are only an Affliction, not a Sin. All Sorts of Talk, ridiculing, misrepresenting, or inveighing against Religion, or whatever is connected with it, incur the like Condemnation. Nay, even Want of Attention in God's Worship, drawing near to him with our Mouths, whilst

[ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

we remove our Hearts far from him", if it be wilfully or carelessly indulged, makes us chargeable, in its Degree, with the Sin of taking his Name in vain.

4. Though we no Way profane his Name ourselves; yet if we intice others to Perjury and Falsehood; or provoke them to rash Oaths and Curses; or give them any needless Temptation to blaspheme God; to speak disrespectfully, or think slightly, of their Maker, or his Laws, natural or revealed: by such Behaviour also we become accessary to the Breach of this Commandment ; and rank ourselves with those, whom it expressly declares God will not hold guiltless: that is, will not acquit, but severely punish.

Let us therefore be watchful to preserve continually such an Awe of the Supreme Being upon our own Minds, and those of all who belong to us, as may on every Occasion effectually influence us to give him the Glory due unto his Name, both in our more solemn Addresses to him, and in our daily Words and Actions. For God is greatly to be feared in the Assembly of the Saints; and to be had in Reverence of all them, that are round about him.

A Isa. xxix. 13.

• Pfal. lxxxix. 70



[ocr errors]

Fourth Commandment.
F the Worship of God were left at large to be per.

formed at any Time, too many would be tempted to defer and postpone it, on one Pretence or another, till at Length it would be performed at no Time. And therefore, though he were to be adored only by each Perfon separately, and in private, it would be very expedient to fix on some stated returning Seasons for that Purpose. But Reason shews it to be requisite, and tbe Experience of all Ages proves it to be natural, that as

we are social Creatures, we should be social in Religion, as well as other Things, and honour in common our common Maker: that we should unite in giving Thanks to him for the Bleslings of Life; a very great Part of which we should be incapable of, without uniting: that we fhould join in praying Forgiveness of the Sins, which we too often join in committing: petition him together for the Mercies, which we have Need of receiving together; and, by assembling to learn and acknowledge our several Duties, keep alive in one another, as well as ourselves, that constant Regard to Piety and Virtue, on which our Happiness depends, here and hereafter.

Since therefore, on these Accounts, there muft be public Worship and Instruction: it is not only expedient, but necessary, that there should be also fixed Times appointed for it by sufficient Authority. And how much and what Time should be devoted to this Purpose, every Society must have determined for themselves, and would have found it hard enough to agree in determining, if God had given no Intimation of his Will in the Cafe. But happily we are informed, in the History of the Creation, that the Maker of the World, having finished his Work in fix Days, (which he could as easily have finished in one Moment, had it not been for some valuable Reason, probably of Instruction to us) blessed the feventh Day, and fanétified ita : that is, appointed every Return of it to be religiously kept, as a solemn Memorial, that of him, and therefore to him, are all Things It is much the most natural to apprehend, that this Appointment took place from the Time, when it is mentioned; from the Time, when the Reason of it took Place. And it is no Wonder at all, that, in so short a History, Notice should not be taken of the actual Observation of it before Mofes : for Notice is not taken of it in 500 Years after Moses. Yet we know of a Certainty, that in his Time, at least, it was ordered to be

Gen. ii. 3.

b Rom. xi. 36.


observed, both in this fourth Commandment, and in other parts of the Law, which direct more particularly the Manner of keeping it.

The Thing, moft expressly enjoined the Jews, in each of these Passages, is, resting from all Manner of Work ; and not suffering their Families, their Cattle, nor even the Strangers that lived amongst them, to labour on that Day. And the Reason of this Reft, given in the Commandment, as you have it in the Book of Exodus, is, that the Lord rested on the seventh Day from his Work of Creation. Not that this, or any Thing, could be a Fatigue to him. For the Creator of the Ends of the Earth fainteth not, neither is weary. But the Expreffion means, that having then finished the Formation of the World, he ceased from it; and required Men also to cease from their Labours every seventh Day; in Memory of that fundamental Article of all Religion, that the Heavens and Earth were made, and therefore are governed, by one infinitely wise, powerful, and good Being. And thus was the Sabbath, which Word means the Day of Rest, a Sign, as the Scripture calls it, between God and the Children of Israeld; a Mark, to distinguish them from all Worshippers of false Deities.

But besides this principal Reason for the Repose of every seventh Day, two others are mentioned in the Law: that it might remind them of that Deliverance from heavy Bondage, which God had granted them; Remember, that thou wast a Servant in the Land of Egypt, and that the Lord brought thee out thence; therefore manded thee to keep the Sabbath Daye : and likewise that their Servants and Cattle might not be worn out with incessant Toil; that thine Ox and thine Ass may reft; and the Son of thy Handmaid, and the Stranger, may be refreshed'. Such Mercy indeed is little more than common Prudence: but there are in the World Multitudes of hardhearted Wretches, who would pay small Regard to that Consideration, were they left to their own Liberty. cIsa. xl. 28.

• Exod. xxxi. 13, 17. Ezek. xx. 12, 20. * Exod. xxiii. 12. H 3




[ocr errors]

e Deut. v. 35

Now merely abftaining from common Work on this Day, in Obedience to God's Command, for such religious and moral Ends as these, was undoubtedly fanctifying, or keeping it holy. But then we are not to suppose, that the Leisure, thus provided for Men, was to be thrown away just as they pleased, instead of being usefully employed. God directed the Jews : Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Soul and with all thy Might; and the Words, which I command thee this Day, shall be in thy Heart;. and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy Children ; and falt talk of them, when thou fittest in thine Hous, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou lief! down, and when thou rijest up. Now, as he required them to attend so constantly to these Duties ; he could not but expect, they should attend more efpecially to them on that Day, when the great Foundation of all Duty, his creating the World, was appointed to be commemorated; and when they had Nothing to take off their Thoughts from what they owed to God their Maker. There was a peculiar Sacrifice appcinted for that Day: there is a peculiar Psalm composed for it, the Ninety-second ; and these Things are surely further Intimations to us, that it must have been a Time, pecua liarly intended for the offering up of Prayers and Thanksgivings to Heaven.

Few indeed, or none, cf God's Laws were well ob. served in the Days of the Old Testament. But still, as the Priests and Levites were dispersed through the Jewish Nation, that they might teach the People Religion; so we read, that in gocd Times they did reach it accordingly: and when could this be, but on the Sabbath Day? We see it was the Custom of religious Perfons, on that Day', to refort to the Prophets, that were in Ifrael; doubtlels to hear the Word of God from their Mouths h. We fee public Happiness promised on this Condition, that Men should bonour the Sabbath of the Lord, not doing their own Ways, nor finding their own

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »