Imágenes de páginas

taught, not only how to live, but how to be for ever happy ! What thankful returns would many of these make, if ever God should enable them, in contributing towards the Christian education of others! And lastly, how much concerned would our governors be, to give all the encouragement imaginable to these worthy undertakings, and severely punish those who shall endeavour to blast so good a design!

For indeed, it is true religion that must support the state ; not only as it is a means of averting God's judgments, but as it is the most effectual means of keeping men within the bounds of duty and obedience; the fear of God being the only sure principle of loyalty to be depended on. The fear of death itself being but a poor restraint, in comparison of the dread of God's displeasure, when once the heart is possessed with a just sense of it.

And if ever we shall be so happy as to have the generality of our youth thus educated, the civil government will soon find its interest in it. They that shall be taught to fear God will (1 Pet. 2. as surely honour the king, and them that are put in authority 13. 5.) under him. Men will obey those that have the rule over them, not only for wrathfor fear of temporal punishment; but for conscience sake-for fear of offending God. The sacredness of oaths will be more regarded, and Christians will study to be quiet, and to do their own business, and leave the government of the world to those on whom the providence of God has laid that burden.

And though the corruption of human nature will always make laws, and civil penalties, and magistrates to put them in execution and to decree justice, necessary; yet this burden will become every day lighter, when the number of untaught and undisciplined people shall be lessened; when subjects shall become peaceable, because of the oath of God which is upon

them 2; when men shall make it their choice to be just to one another, knowing the account they must one day give ; and, being convinced that this is not the world they were made for, when they shall be afraid of losing the eternal happiness of the next, by being too passionately fond of this.

In short; there is no governing the outward, without first governing the inward man. “Out of the heart," saith our 19.

Matt. 15.

SERM. Saviour, "proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, thefts,

false witness, blasphemies."
Now, where the fear of God is, there is no room for any

these to enter; and this is the reason that I have with so
much earnestness, and I am afraid tediousness, recommended
a method of education, which, if religiously pursued, would in
all probability promote these great ends; the glory of God,
the good of mankind, the happiness of this life, and the bless-
ings of the world to come.




Exodus xx. 11.

The Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. The meaning of these words is this : The Lord having commanded one day in seven to be kept holy, and having made it a Sabbath, that is, a day of rest from bodily and unnecessary labour, He hath blessed that day; that is, He hath joined a blessing to the due observation of it. How then comes it to pass, that this day is not observed with great strictness, devotion, and thankfulness? Why, because people do not consider either the necessity, or the reason, or the advantage, of such a command. I will therefore, before I go any farther, endeavour to make you sensible of the reason and the necessity of observing one day in a week according to the commandment.

We are all satisfied, that we ought not to forget the God that made us ; that we ought not to forget that we are needy, sinful, helpless creatures. Now, it is certain, we should soon forget these things, if, one day in seven, we were not put in mind of them. To shew you that we most certainly should do so, let us consider how many things every one of us have forgot, which we ought to have remembered. How many mercies do men receive from God, which they soon forget ? How many judgments doth God send into the world, which are no longer thought on, than whilst the smart of them does last? Why, we should as surely forget the God who sends mercies and judgments, if we were not taught continually to remember Him by His day which we keep holy.

SERM. There are at this day many nations in the world, which LVIII.

know nothing of the true God. How comes this to pass ? They were all the offspring of one man, the righteous Noah, who taught his children and posterity to know God, and to worship Him aright.

But you may learn from hence, that it is possible and natural for people, for whole nations, to forget the true God. And thus it would really happen to us, if we had not days set apart, and men appointed, to keep up the knowledge and remembrance of God in our minds.

How soon do we forget our very best friends, our very children, when they have been a while dead and out of our sight? As surely should we forget that there is a God; that we depend upon Him for every thing we have or hope for; that we ought to worship Him, to give Him thanks, and to put our whole trust in Him; that we shall be judged by Him at the last day. All which we should soon forget, if we

were not often called upon and put in mind of our duty. (Ps. 30. 6.) The Psalmist tells us, that in his prosperity he himself

forgot God; and do not we see every day, that people who are too much busied with the cares of this world, do almost forget that there is a world to come?

What would they do, if they were not commanded upon the Lord's day to lay aside the business and the cares of this life, and for a while think of a better? Why, they would soon forget that there is a better; they would set up their rest here; they would only provide for themselves, and their children, an earthly maintenance, and never think of heaven.

It is too plain, all men would do so, were they left to themselves, because too many do so, notwithstanding the means of grace afforded them for their instruction and remembrance.

But why one day in seven, rather than any other portion of our time? Why, because God has so ordered it. That is the best answer I can give; and every man will be satisfied with this answer, who has a mind to submit to the wisdom of God, and will believe that He does every thing for the best.

It may be, you may think, that every body, knowing it to be their duty to serve God, would, if they were left to themselves, choose a time to do it. Why, do not we all know that fasting is a Christian duty; and yet, because God has not in express words appointed us certain times of fasting, how few are there who observe any at all? And though the Church of God has appointed days of fasting, yet they are neglected, despised, and the very duty itself questioned, and almost forgotten. And so it would be with the Lord's day, and the Lord Himself, if it were not expressly the command of God, REMEMBER THAT THOU KEEP HOLY THE SABBATH-DAY.

One might give many more reasons; but these are sufficient to shew the necessity of observing the Lord's day to keep it holy. I will therefore conclude this particular with a relation which may, perhaps, be better understood by you, and better remembered, than what I have already said.

There was a certain person, who had a thoughtless and extravagant young man to his son. The father upon his deathbed, made his son solemnly promise, that he would spend one half hour every day by himself. So easy a request, from a kind father, was very cheerfully obeyed, though it was troublesome for one who had seldom been alone, to be restrained, though for so short a time. The son at first did not see his father's meaning, or the reason of such a command, till at last, being often alone, he began to think of himself; which, by the grace of God, ended in his conversion, and then he did not only retire because his father had commanded him, but because he found it reasonable, his duty, and pleasure, so to do.

And shall we not believe, that this command of God has very often the same blessed effect? And many thousands there are in heaven, and many, no doubt, yet on earth, who by being obliged by this command to wait upon God at His house, have there found the means and the reasons of their conversion and salvation.

And, now, pray consider, whether God is not kind and merciful, in giving us a law which is of so great advantage to mankind; in commanding us to keep holy one day in seven, that, being taken from all worldly labour, we may, in a manner, be obliged to think of Him, of heaven, and of our eternal welfare?

To come therefore to the words of the text, “The Lord

« AnteriorContinuar »