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always seasoned with salt,' and savoured of we dishonour him in his works; as the God of grace! then the effect would be blessed. Instead Providence, by impatient, discontented, and fretful of corrupting it would spread around us the feelings and thoughts of his dealings; as the God benign influences of piety, peace, good-will, and of ordinances, by the irreverent or careless use comfort—and thus our tongue would become the of them, or by the neglect of them; as the God instrument of good, and by our words we should of the Bible, by our slighting it, carping at its be justified.' truths, or despising its teaching. In one or other, or all of these ways, do we profane the glorious attributes which he hath revealed and made known; questioning his wisdom, doubting his love, braving his omnipotence, not duly impressed with the conviction of his omnipresence, his
'Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the holiness, his wisdom, his tender mercy. This door of my lips,' Psal. cxli. 3.
UNDER a deep conviction of the dangers which we ourselves have encountered from the profane language and vain words of others-under a lively impression of the power of mere words to awaken emotions in the heart, and sensible at once of our own corruption, and the corruptibleness of others, how fearful is the responsibility under which we lie to regulate our words aright; how truly righteous is our God in declaring that for every idle word we must render an account; and how fervently will every one, who desires the glory of God, and the good of souls, and his own peace and purity, entreat, with the psalmist, that the Lord would set a watch before his mouth, and keep the door of his lips."
Out of the heart proceed blasphemics, and every evil and base thing that degrades humanity. This is the well-spring of all that is outwardly sinful, the fountain whence issue irreverence, and corrupt, and corrupting, and impious words. What watchfulness, then, should characterise us, in regard both to the inward and the outward man; and if we would have the life holy, and the tongue kept under restraint, let us keep the heart with all diligence.' In us, that is, in our flesh, there dwelleth no good thing; the carnal mind is enmity against God. He is not in all the thoughts of the natural man. And while we live on earth, we, alas! are more or less burdened with this fleshly tabernacle; even God's people are sensible that much of the old man remaineth in them. What a warfare do we maintain against the flesh! what efforts do we ceaselessly require to put forth, in order to restrain our murmuring, or discontented, or repining thoughts! what painful endeavours to banish levity, and awaken reverential feelings, even at the hour of prayer! and oh, how much more amid the business or pleasures of ordinary and every day life! Ever and anon we feel sinful thoughts of God rising to our lips, light thoughts of him imparting a levity to our words; as the God of creation, how often do
very day, how often have not merely vain and sinful thoughts intruded, and been cherished in our minds; but how often have we spoken unadvisedly with our lips, uttering that which was not right of God, that which was dishonouring and displeasing to him; and, dread thought! who can tell what fruits may be found at the harvest of eternity, as the growth of those seeds of profanity which we have thus recklessly scattered abroad. And now that we are convinced of our sin, who can answer for another day? who can say that he will at all times feel, as perchance he may do at this moment; feel so reverently, that his thoughts will impart a reverential character to all his words? "The tongue can no man tame, it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.' let us not make our frailty an excuse for sin, for divine grace can effect what man cannot do. 'My grace is sufficient for you,' is the promise of God. He never said to any, Seek my face in vain. If not straitened in ourselves, we are not straitened in God. If we will but truly pray, 'Set thou, O Lord, a watch before my mouth, and keep the door of my lips;' and combining watchfulness with prayer, and firm purpose of soul with stedfast reliance on God's promised grace, we shall soon learn, and be able to make the apostle's song our own: 'Most gladly, then, will I glory in infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me; I take pleasure in infirmities, for when I am weak, then am I strong.'
'Set a watch, O Lord,' lest, through our often infirmities, our unworthy, or fretful, or irreverent thoughts of thee should become the means of awakening or confirming sinful thoughts in the corruptible hearts of others. Set a watch, O Lord,' lest, through our hasty and inadvertent words, these thine enemies, who watch for our halting, should find occasion to mock the name of thy professing people. Set a watch, O Lord,' lest, by our use of irreverent words, we come to indulge in irreverent thoughts, and imperceptibly slide into greater and increasing profanity. 'Set
a watch, O Lord,' lest thine own holy name be we may also enjoy thee for ever!
So fill our
hearts with a sense of the glories of thy name, that there shall be no room for one indifferent, far less irreverent, thought of thee. So unvail thyself to us, that from the overflowings of love, as well as the tremblings of holy fear, the thought of thee shall never leave us, and in our gayest moments, we still may live as in the solemnities of thy presence, and amid the untold riches of thy grace! Lord, atune our hearts and lips, for those triumphant songs on which seraphs and saints have entered, and in which we hope ere long to engage!
The sabbath being signalized by the express appointment of the divine Lawgiver, we next
* Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six inquire into the perpetual obligation of this sacred
days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God,' &c., Exod. xx. 8-10.
THE divine institution of the sabbath throws around the subject a sacredness which is fitted deeply to awe the minds of all those who have any respect for God's authority. Who can think lightly or speak irrevently of that day, which is called by Jehovah himself 'the sabbath of the Lord thy God.' While we may canvass with perfect freedom, the institutions of men, however hallowed by ancient usage in the church, or approved by the experience of God's people, it is very different when we venture to sit in judgment on the ways and purposes and institutions of the Almighty, the Eternal, the all-wise God. Here a holy reverence and awe becomes us; here we must be still and know that Jehovah is God; when he speaks we must be silent. The very words with which the decalogue is introduced, and prefaced, are fitted to awe and solemnize the mind, in regard to every injunction: The Lord spake all these words.' The Lord whom we profess to honour and adore, the Lord in whom we live and move, the Lord who is to judge us at the last day-He spake them. Applying this consideration to this fourth commandment, who will venture to question God's right, to appoint such set times as he sees fit for his own service; and who will deny his wisdom, in appointing a weekly sabbath, a seventh day of hallowed rest?
day. And this appears from the manner in which the Lord gave the commandment to the Jews. While the ceremonial law, which was typical of the coming Saviour, and the civil or national code, which was to be the guide of the Jews in secular matters, were conveyed to them by the lips of Moses; the ten commandments were given in a separate and more solemn form. These Jehovah wrote on two tables of stone, to point out their perpetuity-they were written with the finger of God, to signify their vast comparative importance
they were written on both sides, on the one side and on the other, to signify that none should add to, or take away from them.
Of these ten commandments, this which we are now considering is one. It holds no subordinate place in the decalogue. It is not distinguished from the rest of the commandments, unless it be by the emphatic warning, Remember-by the more full and minute detail of its requirements, and the reiteration of its injunctions.
And the solemnity of its closing appeal to obedience, is not surpassed by that which is annexed to any of the rest. Though there were then no other mention of the sabbath in scripture, though this had been its first and its only institution, he would be a bold man indeed, who in virtue of his own inclination, or pretended wisdom, would dare to erase that which the finger of God has engraven on a table of stone, or should alter the injunction, and make it run thus: Forget the sabbath-day, and do
not keep it holy, seven days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; for there is no day a holy sabbath unto the Lord thy God!' Why was it that God wrote this commandment on the table of stone, and placed it among these other precepts, which are universally allowed to be purely moral, and of perpetual obligation, and laid it up in the ark of the testimony, if it was not a part of the moral law? Why had it not its place amid the ceremonial and national institutes which God gave the Jews, if it was merely ceremonial? The inference is plain, it was not a mere Jewish enactment, but a command obligatory on all mankind, in all ages, and under every dispensation, because a command moral like the others.
There are various other considerations which set forth the perpetuity of the sabbath, viz., 1. Its institution from the foundation of the world, Gen. ii. 1-3. 2. Its aptitude to the physical condition of man and beast. 3. God's requiring the Gentile and the stranger to yield obedience, as well as the Jew. 4. The universal practice of all Christendom, from the days of Christ to the present time; and, 5. The reasons by which God enforces it, all of perpetual and universal obligation, if they have or ever had any bearing on the subject at all. And in addition to these, the very words of the commandment impress most powerfully its obligation on our minds. Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.' There is something peculiarly emphatic in the admonition, Remember. It is the only commandment that has this memento attached to it; as if Jehovah provided against that proneness in man to forget its obligation, divert it from the purpose for which it was designed, and appropriate it to his own secularities. Remember the sabbath, for you are apt to forget it-Remember it, for it is due to me, the Lord your God-Remember it, for I have blessed it, and it will prove a day of spiritual growth and gladness-Remember it, so that all your secular work may be ended, before its arrival-Remember it, throughout all its hours, so that it may be kept holy-Remember its author, its requirements, its advantages, its propriety-Remember it when it is past, to recall its lessons, to fulfil its vows, to avoid the sins then confessed and wept over, and to exercise the grace then received-Remember it; it is the sabbath of the Lord thy God, the memento of creation, the memorial of redemption, the type of that rest on which Jesus entered when his work here below was finished-Remember I have appointed, and you have need of its holy rest, need of it for your bodies, especial need of it for your ever-during spirits.
The duty here set forth admits of a brief but comprehensive definition. It demands that one whole day in seven be withdrawn from the ordinary avocations of life, and devoted to the Lord, to his worship and service. The law of morality binds us to holiness of life every day, and forbids the immoderate pursuit of worldly business and carnal pleasure at all times. If therefore this commandment does not free us from such obligation on the six days of the week, it requires a special and peculiar sanctity on the sabbath.
The practice of ancient times explains what is meant by sanctifying any thing, or keeping it holy to God. Persons, and places, and vessels were so sanctified under the law, i. e., they were set apart from ordinary purposes, and were exclusively devoted to the service of God, These were profaned, not only by being used for sinful purposes, but also by being used as commonnot only by being used for ordinary purposes, but by not being used in the service of God. So it is with the sabbath: we profane it, when we make its rest an opportunity for sin, when we do not rest from ordinary duties or pleasures, however lawful on other days; we profane it also when by lengthened slumbers or lazy apathy, we loiter out the day in idleness, and we profane it when God is not sought and worshipped, and our souls are not cared for in the ordinary institutions of his grace, in the sanctuary, the family, and the closet.
There is an exception to the rest and pious occupation to which we are summoned on the sabbath, viz., the portion of time required for the works of necessity and mercy. Though these works may interrupt our rest, yet they are to be performed as duties. Christ has taught us this; but let us not forget that he has taught it not as an improvement upon the fourth commandment, but as implied and required by God, under the Jewish dispensation.
Alas! alas! for fallen man, that he has so lost all relish for the presence and the service of his God—that he calls the Sabbath a weariness, and speaks of its rest as burdensome, Tremble, ye who feel in your hearts this enmity against God. Tremble for eternity, for how shall two walk together, except they be agreed. Nor think that because the dispensation of grace has superseded that of the law, the privilege of believers consists in devoting fewer of its precious hours to God, and giving more of them to the world. God forbid that Christ, who came to bring us back to God, should have abridged, by one hour, that day of hallowed rest, that sabbath which God has
blessed, and continues to bless. It is but a short season that we sit by the pools of Elim, undisturbed by the cares and vexations of time. God forbid that it should be abridged. We need it all and would sue for more-were it not that He who knows our frame had said, 'Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work.' The sabbath is our jubilee, our blessed privilege, a happy foretaste of our joy, when the last remnant of the curse shall have passed away; for it is a respite from the curse, In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread!' Oh that on it and by it we may be ripened and prepared for the eternal sabbath!
that it claims; let us this evening follow up our reflections. What soul that is capable of thinking and judging correctly, can fail to be thankful that God has so imperatively instituted a day of hallowed rest? It has been appointed in wisdom and mercy by the great Author of our being, who knows what man is, and what man stands in need of. Oh! how blessed is it, that on the recurrence of every seventh day the whole rational offspring of God, some of them worn out by distracting, soul-oppressing, soul-ruining cares, others borne down and worn out by severe and hard toil during the six days of the week, should on this holy day suspend all their labours, and leave all their cares and toils for a time behind them. How blessed, that in their private retirements, and in the bosom of their families, and in the sanctuary of God, they are privileged, in peace
‹ There remaineth therefore a rest to the people and solemn stillness, to meditate on things divine; of God,' Heb. iv. 9.
THE whole of the dispensation prior to and under the law, was prefigurative of the Christian. By the sensible emblems of the one, the spiritual nature of the other was pointed out; and all the institutions and typical observances of the Jewish economy were designed to shadow forth and prepare men's minds for the purer and brighter state of things under the gospel. The words offered for our meditation, are a conclusion drawn from some preceding arguments, to prove that the sabbatical rest appointed on the seventh day, when God ceased from his work of creation-as also the rest of the promised land of Canaan, were both the one and the other types and figures of another and a better rest, into which all real Christians should be admitted. The seventh day of rest was emblematical of the eternal sabbath-and the land of Canaan was prefigurative of the heavenly Canaan. The Israelites had enjoyed their sabbaths, their privileges, their rest in Canaan, still led to anticipate something far more glorious and exalted. If Joshua had given Israel all the rest that God intended, when he brought them into Canaan, would he have spoken of another day and another country -would the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, many ages after their settlement in the land of promise, and when they were in the height of their prosperity, have spoken of another sabbatism, of another country, had there not been another and better rest; had there not been another and a better country awaiting true believers, a sabbath that was everlasting; a country that was eternally blessed?
In the morning we were led to reflect on the fourth commandment, and the holy observance
to hold converse with God; and thus to prepare for another and an eternal world. Sweet, indeed, is this day of holy rest, it is the best and most blessed of all the seven; and that man who would denude himself of the spiritual enjoyments of this day, knows not what his privilege is; knows not what true delight means. And oh! who can calculate the guilt and criminality of those who would divert this sacred day from the grand purposes for which it was designed and instituted— who would do anything themselves to desecrate it who would prevent any, whether rich or poor, from keeping it holy unto the Lord? Oh! it is lamentable to think, that in this Christian land there should be found one daring enough to rob God of his own day, and thus of his glory-bold and cruel enough to rob man of his dearest birthright privilege-mad enough to afford the means, and hold out the temptation, to inconsiderate souls to prostitute and profane this holy day.
But as every Sabbath-day is an emblem of the eternal sabbath, it should be employed in such a way as to render it a preparation for the eternal rest. It was instituted for this purpose, and men are frustrating the design of Heaven, when their exercises and employments on that day do not lead the soul directly to God and to heaven. How then should the day of the Lord be spent? Not merely in resting from bodily toil and earthly cares, but in engaging the mind in those spiritual and sublime exercises in which believers hope to be eternally employed in the upper sanctuary. It should be spent in praising and holding com munion with God-in uniting with the redeemed above, in worshipping Him who sitteth on the throne, and the Lamb that was slain—in gratefully rejoicing in that event, to perpetuate
which this first day was instituted, viz., Christ's | labours and toils of our mortal condition-rest resurrection from the dead-and in meditating from all the cares and perplexities that enter into upon, and looking forward to, that sabbath our state here below-rest from all the infirmities, which they hope to enjoy, when the shadows of diseases, and pains that cleave to us as the chiltime shall flee away, and the realities of eternity dren of the dust rest from all the fears, and shall commence. Believers enjoy their sabbaths bereavements, and sorrows, that are mingled in here, and praise God for them; still they look our cup-rest from all the temptations of the above and beyond them, they long for something world, the fiery darts of the wicked one, to which better. we are exposed here—rest from all the stings of conscience, and the apprehensions of guilt that are inseparable from our present state-rest from all the rebellious thoughts, sinful desires, and corrupt passions, that flesh is heir to rest from all those lamentable differences that separate man from man, Christian from Christian in this world
I cannot conceive any thing more comforting and heart-cheering than this gracious declaration, there remaineth a rest for the people of God." Believed in and taken home, it is fitted to ease every load under which burdened souls labour. Let us then meditate upon it for a little. The rest of the soul, whether in heaven or earth, in eternity or time, can only be found in God himself, in his love and favour through Christ. Till such time as a sinner has learnt to place the burden of his guilt upon Christ, to look to God as a reconciled Father, and to choose Him as his alone portion, he cannot know what rest means. But induced and enabled to come to Christ, labouring and heavy laden, to look to him with steady eye, to repose in Him as the only Saviour, he experiences a peace and a tranquillity of mind that passeth understanding. It is of this rest, of which the apostle speaks; and this is tasted by believers here, this proves to them an earnest and foretaste of heaven; and this raises them above all the toils of their pilgrimage-journey, so that they can even glory in the tribulations of life. Still, whatever may be the experience of God's children here, and whatever peace God may impart to them in their passage through the wilderness, like the Israelites, they look forward to Canaan, and their gracious leader still reminds them that there is a rest that remaineth. They may have a cup that is sweet put into their hands, but it is not unmingled; a day that is bright, but not cloudless; a peace that is comforting, but not perfect; an enjoyment of God that is enviable, but not full. There is always something in themselves, something in the land where they sojourn, something in the inhabitants of the country where they have pitched their tent, and something in the very atmosphere that they breathe, to remind them that this is not the place of their rest. Now the rest that is here spoken of, is the rest of heaven, for never can it be tasted in perfection till the Christian gets there; and though we cannot conceive of it aright now notwithstanding all that God has revealed of its nature, yet enough has been made known to quicken our desires, and to stimulate our exertions for the attainment of it. It is rest from all the
rest from the fear and the stroke of death to which every child of Adam is subject. In short, there shall be deliverance from all that can be denominated evil or calamitous, whether it arises from natural or moral causes; and this, just because there shall be deliverance from the very existence of sin. And who does not sigh for this state of things? Tossed by the tempests of life, who does not respond to the declaration, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours.' But this is not all. The rest of heaven is not mere negative, but positive enjoyment. It is, as we said, rest in God—in the enjoyment of God's presence-the seeing him face to face-the being gladdened with the smiles of his countenance and the sensible tokens of his love-the being filled with all the fullness of God-the uniting with the spirits of the just made perfect-the doing God's will, celebrating his praises, and dwelling for ever with the Lord.
Now, this rest remaineth for the people of God. Great as it is, it is not too exalted for every child of the dust to aspire after. It has been purchased, it is prepared, and it is promised to every child of God. It is secure as the promise and oath of the unchangeable God-secure as the covenant of peace ratified by the blood of Christ can make it, and after it shall have been enjoyed through ages unnumbered, there still shall remain a rest, a growing felicity for the people of God. Let us then cast in our lot with the people of God, let us pray and strive to obtain their character, and let us fear lest a promise being left us of entering into this rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.'