Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

various wants, but, at the same time, possessed of no other capacities than those of mind and sense, and liable to no other accidents than those which affect mind or body. According to our view, and we feel that our view must be that of the whole christian world, it was made for man as a being born for eternity, -as created in his Maker's likeness,—as fallen from his high original, but capable of restoration--and as born under a system which unfolds the scheme devised by Infinite Wisdom, for the accomplishment of this great and glorious purpose. It was made for man, we say, as a spiritual and eternal existence, for a time clothed with flesh, subjected to the infirmities of the body, and the perverse influences of the mind, placed in the world with the view of developing in a state of trial, the graces and glories that belong to a higher nature, but destined to be a partaker of the inheritance of everlasting bliss. It was made for him, for his refreshment and repose under the burdens of his lot,- for the enlargement and perfection of his intellectual powers, by directing them to things above the world; and thus for the purpose of cherishing and strengthening that spiritual growth, which is the only real end of his being on earth, as it is the fulfilment of the will of God concerning him.

For this purpose we say the Sabbath was ordained. In this sense we can say that it was made for man, for we here perceive its merciful adaptation to the complicated wants of his mixed and mysterious nature. In the Sabbath, therefore, thus understood, and thus applied, we see the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the goodness of God, and we adore the mercy which provided alleviations for a life doomed to labour, and cheered the burdened traveller on his way, by the pledge of a rest eternal in the heavens. With this view of the Sab. bath before us,—with this picture of its purpose and its end, while we thus gaze on the glorious destiny unfolded to man in the institutions of the Sabbath, and see the steps by which he is prepared to inherit it in its sanctifying influences, - we must feel that all the temporal advantages offered to him here-the refinement of tastes, the enlargement of knowledge, are but a mockery of his woe, if they are proposed as the blessings connected with the ordinance; and we wonder at the audacity that can present such a petty allurement to the inheritor of the kingdom, as worthy of his acceptance.

But the real character of the Sabbath may be inferred, with greater confidence, from considering the character of the Being by whom it was ordained ; for if the Sabbath was made for man, and made for man by Him who created man, it surely is reasonable that we should collect the character of the institu

tion from the known will of the Institutor, and learn the way in which it should be observed from what we know of His general purpose. If the Sabbath, then, was made for man, let us remember, that it was made for man by Him who not only formed man from the dust, and breathed into him the breath of life, so that man became a living soul, but who likewise opened heaven to his view, raised him above the earth by the word of promise, and who, finally, sent his own blessed Son into the world to accomplish his restoration, Luke xix. 10.

Scripture, therefore, directs us to estimate the real value of attainments by the effect they produce upon the soul, rather than by what is exhibited,—to dread the knowledge which puffs up,—to shun that friendship of the world which separates us from God,to check and to mortify the love of earthly things,— that the heart may be given, in all its fulness, to Him who claims it as his own, and the mind may be fixed on things above, rather than on those below. In a word, we must be conscious, that the gospel was given to make us good, rather than to make us great,—to fit us for heaven, rather than for earth; and though the goodness of God has so wonderfully combined the effects which it produces, that they are frequently united, the godliness has the promise of the life that now is, as well as of that which is to come; we cannot have a moment's doubt as to that which is the higher and the nobler object, or as to that which must be the will of God concerning ourselves.

If these things, then, be so---if the will of God is clearly, unequivocally declared, with regard to these objects of our pursuit at present, can there be a question as to those which are to be preferred? What is the knowledge of the world, what is taste, what is civilization itself, in comparison with the blessings included in his favour ? and if it were possible to obtain them by the sacrifice of religious principle, what would they be to the possessor, but the colours which deck the serpent, the sweetness which conceals the poison it conveys.

We must feel, then, that when men talk of the beneficent effects to be produced by a sabbath, while that sabbath refers only to the physical or intellectual part of man, they greatly and grossly err; and that if, unhappily, this scheme should be realized, the soul would be sacrificed to the body, eternity to time, and the real purpose of man's being to the indulgence of vain and frivolous imaginations. But while the main question is met in this way, and the promoters of the scheme are •reminded of its insufficiency for the object which they profess to have at heart—the improvement of the labouring classes—it is hoped that the legislature will bear in mind the price at which

these refreshments for those who are inclined to partake of them must be purchased. On the Sabbath day at present, the parks, the outlets of the metropolis, are filled with crowds who prefer the amusement they can find there, to the religious improvement of the day which God has consecrated.

We must regret the breach of the commandment, the offence offered to God, and the injury done to the sabbath-breakers themselves ; but we feel that, in doing this, they claim no right to dictate to the practice of others, nor have they the power of compelling others to act against their own conscientious convictions. They may wish for refreshments, but they cannot compel the shops to be opened for their cupply; and those windows which were unclosed through the six preceding days, are sealed to them on this, and offer a shelter against the tyranny of a God-despising world. Up to this time the laws of the country have endeavoured to prevent the licence of one man from trespassing on the liberty of another; and if they have not always succeeded in doing so, they have left no room for doubt as to their intentions. Up to this time, therefore, those who call themselves the servants of the public, have been allowed to feel that there was One greater than the public, who cares for the weak and the dependent, and who restrains within certain limits the measure of labour that is exacted from them. The theatres, the places of public amusement, have, on this account, been closed; the post-office has suspended its issues ; the transactions of business have been stopped ; legal acts have been declared null and void. It has been declared that the command was general, for that its intention was, “ that thy servant may rest as well as thou;" and it has been the privilege of the Englishman to feel that on this day the slave of the world was free from his master.

A new era, however, will be commenced with the chartered existence of the Crystal Palace, should such an outrage be permitted. Hundreds of officials will be called into stated attendance, and will be compelled to wait on the fancies of an ungodly multitude. Thousands of the unhappy and depressed class who are now engaged in furnishing the means of public conveyance, will be put into requisition, and tens and hundreds of thousands of the young and thoughtless will be swept away by the stream, and be made victims to a plan for improving the taste and enlarging the intellect of the irreligious section of our metropolitan operatives. It must be added, that the evil will not be confined to this single case. The precedent established here will be immediately followed in other places, and in all parts of the kingdom. The British Museum, the galleries, the exhibitions, will be thrown open in London. The curators in all these will be crushed with the burden of unsuspended labour, and the population, maddened by excitement, when excitement is substituted for the rest they need, will be the ready instruments for executing the judgments which will infallibly follow on such an act of national delinquency. Nor let it be forgotten, that this scheme, which, falling in with the prevailing humours of the day, is hailed by the immoral, or, at least, by the irreligious part of our people, as ap accession to their resources of amusement, will be to many a bitter aggravation of a life of toil, by wresting from them that Sabbath which has, hitherto, been their only season of repose. But what is of more consequence, and which claims the serious consideration of the legislature, it will be an outrage such as has not yet been offered to the conscience and religious feelings of many who specially deserve the protection, if not the favour, of the legislature. For it must not be assumed because a cry is got up on behalf of the scheme, that all classes concur in welcoming the change that is proposed. There are multitudes, no doubt, which will do so.

There are multitudes who find the present opportunities for Sunday dissipation too limited, and fret and murmur against the restraints which the law imposes; but there are many who feel that this opening will bring no blessings to them, and will only multiply or increase the burdens under which they groan. They see that the enjoyments of a few will be purchased by the sufferings of many; wives and children will have to lament a home left without its natural guardian; parents will have to mourn over children drawn away from domestic control or religious observances; and the character of the day, as a day of rest, will be lost to all the inhabitants of that side of the metropolis.

Is this, then, a state of things which the legislature of England can countenance or permit? and will the sound sense of the British parliament be dazzled and blinded by the arts which have been employed to cloak the essential ungodliness of the proposal ? We trust that there will be no hesitation or condescension in the tone of their answer. We trust that the representatives of the nation, conscious of the account they will have to give of the way in which they exercise their power, will seriously and calmly weigh the consequences of the measure brought before them, and, dismissing the illusions with which their imagination is assailed, will consider what the effects must be of legalizing a breach of one of God's commandments.

J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, AND

PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON: AND W. INNES, BOOKSELLER, SOUTH HANOVER STREET, EDINBURGH. London: J. & W. RIDER, Printers, 14, Bartholomew Close.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER.

THERE are thousands who never pray. Day after day, week after week, passes over them, without their ever cherishing a single sentiment of true devotion, or breathing a single prayer to God. They commit themselves to their nightly slumbers without prayer, and begin and spend the day alike without prayer. They never so much as bend the knee to repeat even the simplest form of supplication. There are multitudes who are observant of the form of prayer, but who never truly pray. They repeat by rote the words to which they have, perhaps, been accustomed from childhood; but they scarcely attach to them any meaning, and they express by them none of those desires which constitute the very essence of true prayer ; whilst there is no intelligent recognition of the only advocacy by which their worship can find acceptance with God. They are, to all intents and purposes, prayerless ; they labour under all the privations and disadvantages of those who do not pray; and they are the objects of His displeasure whose curse is everlast

ing death.

Possibly this tract may fall into the hands of one who feels that his spirit and conduct in reference to this solemn duty have just been described. Its design is most affectionately and earnestly to expostulate with him, and to endeavour, in dependence on the divine blessing, to lead him to a sense of his folly and his guilt in neglecting to pray.

We would first remind you that he who does not pray, by that very omission REJECTS THE DIVINE AUTHORITY. Our existence is neither self-caused nor self-sustained. The hand which formed and the hand which sustains us is that of Omnipotence; and He has made most abundant provision for the supply of our every want, filling the earth with plenty, and crowning each succeeding year with His goodness. We are not only creatures—dependent creatures—but creatures endowed with intellect, and therefore capable of religion. Now, it seems

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »