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ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made.
Yes, God rested - returned into the enjoyment of His own unspeakable blessedness. And in that rest we may see a type and shadow of the Christian's rest—that rest that remaineth-that rest from their labours, which is promised, but not on this side of the grave, to the people of God.
But, further, God rested, and God bids us rest. Six days shalt thou do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest; and why?—that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger may be refreshed.—Exod. xxiii. 12. These words point out a most important object of the Sabbath. It was to be a day of rest for servants, for all that labour, and for cattle.
And can we not recognise in this the mercy and goodness of God? Does not this mention of the son of the handmaid, and the ox, and the ass, the chief beasts of burden in Palestine, show that the great Lord and Master of all does indeed care for His creatures ? and seeks to provide for their welfare, and refreshment?
Of all the reasons for observing the Sabbath, there is none, I think, that comes home to us like this,—That thy man-servant, and thy maidservant, thine ox, and thine ass, may rest and be refreshed, as well as thou! We feel that the Great Being Who gave this commandment is a God of love and kindness—not far-off, and indifferent to us — not careless of man or brute but a God close at hand, mindful of all our wants, mindful of our weakness, ever seeking in all His appointments to do us good!
Then, brethren, if we feel this, if we acknowledge, as we must, the goodness, the wisdom, the tender consideration of God in giving us the Sabbath, let us take care that we do not show ourselves just the contrary to all this; neither good, nor wise, nor considerate, in our treatment of it. Let us keep clear of the great sin, the great folly, the great cruelty of polluting, profaning God's Sabbath.
God has given it to us to be a blessing. God has pronounced that man blessed who observes it. Let us, I say, be very careful how we deal with
, this merciful gift- let us not deprive ourselves, and others with whom we have to do, of the great, the inestimable benefit of a well-kept Sabbath.
It is the sure mark of a Christian man that he takes delight in the day of God. Your own experience will bear me out in saying, that, in proportion as any one advances in religion, in wisdom, and spiritual understanding, in that proportion he loves, and honours, and observes the rest of the Sabbath. While, on the other hand, the sure mark of a man declining in religious knowledge, falling off from the love of God, ceasing to run well, is, that he slights and neglects this ordinance.
Think of these things, brethren, think of them when by yourselves to-day, and I trust and believe you will be confirmed, and strengthened in your resolution to keep the Sabbath holy; you will not easily be led to join with those-alas! a large number—who in this land profane the Sabbath. Convinced of its advantage, convinced of its divine appointment, convinced of the good it has done to your own souls, you will rather join with your minister in this place to promote a better observance of this blessed day amongst us. You will feel, as I do, that we are accountable to God for the way in which we use this His precious benefit-accountable to God, and accountable to our fellow-countrymen.
Our fathers kept the Sabbath, and then it was well with them. England owes-none can say how much of her prosperity, and power—to the firm hold which the fourth commandment, in evil days, as in better days, has ever had upon her people. Oh, my brethren, let it not in passing through our hands lose any of its force! Let us
278 THE BLESSING OF OBSERVING THE SABBATH.
guard, and cherish, and reverently observe, the day of God, and teach our children the same, that we, and they may enter into its full blessingthat it may be to us, and to them, a delight, and a refreshing, and a help on our way to heaven
-that so in us, with thousands who have gone before, and shall come after us, worshippers of Christ in His Church — the prophet's great words, which we hear to-day, may find fulfilment,Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer : their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar : for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people !
THERE is much excellent counsel in the short Epistle selected for this Sunday, much advice upon our behaviour as Christians, which it behoves us to follow,-Put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long-suffering. That is the first injunction of the Apostle. He calls upon us as the elect of God — men whom He has called out of the world to be His adopted sons in Christ Jesus, to walk answerably to our calling- to walk in love, and in the spirit of our Master- a spirit of meekness and long-suffering-a spirit that enables a man to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please himself.
Together with this St. Paul enjoins, in the