Imatges de pÓgina
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another day of rest in conjunction with this. When the new religion came forth into the Gentile world, converts to it were, for the most part, made from those classes of society who have not their time and labour at their own disposal ; and it was scarcely to be expected that unbelieving masters and magistrates, and they who directed the employment of others, would permit their slaves and labourers to rest from their work every seventh day; or that civil government, indeed, would have submitted to the loss of a seventh part of the public industry, and that too in addition to the numerous festivals which the national religions indulged to the people : at least this would have been an incumbrance, which might have greatly retarded the reception of Christianity in the world. In reality, the institution of a weekly fabbath is so connected with the functions of civil life, and requires fo much of the concurrence of civil laws in its regulation and support, that it cannot, perhaps, properly be made the ordinance of any religion, till that religion be received as the religion of the state.

The opinion that Christ and his Apostles meant to retain the duties of the fewish fabbath, shifting only the day from the seventh to the first,

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seems to prevail without sufficient proof; nor does

any evidence remain in scripture (of what, however, is not improbable) that the first day of the week was thus distinguished in commemoration of our Lord's resurrection,

The conclusion from the whole enquiry (for it is our business to follow the arguments to whatever probability they conduct us) is this: The assembling upon the first day of the week for the purpose of public worship and religious instruction, is a law of Christianity, of divine appointment; the resting on that day from our employments longer than we are detained from them by attendance upon these assemblies, is to Christians an ordinance of human institution ; binding nevertheless upon the conscience of every individual of a country in which a weekly sabbath is established, for the sake of the bene. ficial purposes which the public and regular observance of it promotes;

and recommended

perhaps in fome degree to the divine approbation, by the resemblance it bears to what God was pleased to make a solemn part of the law which he delivered to the people of Israel, and by its fubserviency to many of the same uses.

C H A P.

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INCE the obligation upon Christians, to

comply with the religious observance of Sunday, arises from the public uses of the institution, and the authority of the apostolic practice, the manner of observing it ought to be that which best fulfils these uses, and conforms the nearest to this practice.

The uses proposed by the institution are

1. To facilitate attendance upon public worship.

2. To meliorate the condition of the laborious classes of mankind, by regular and scasonable returns of reft.

3. By a general suspension of business and amusement, to invite and enable persons of every description to apply their time and thoughts to subjects appertaining to their salvation.

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With the primitive Christians the peculiar, and probably for some time the only distinction of the first day of the week, was the holding of religious assemblies upon that day. We learn, however, from the testimony of a very early writer amongst them, that they also reserved the day for ' religious meditations-Unusquisque noftrum, faith Irenæus, sabbatizat spiritualiter, mee ditatione legis gaudens, opificium Dei admirans.

WHEREFORE the duty of the day is violated,

ist. By all such employments or engagements as (though differing from our ordinary occupation) hinder our attendance upon public worfhip, or take up so much of our time as not to leave a fufficient part of the day at leisure for religious reflection; as the going of journeys, the paying or receiving of visits which engage the whole day, or employing the time at home in writing letters, settling accounts, or in applying ourselves to studies, or the reading of books, which bear no relation to the business of religion.

2dly. By unnecessary encroachments upon the rest and liberty which Sunday ought to bring to the inferior orders of the community; as by keeping servants on that day confined and busied


in preparations for the superfluous clegancies of our table, or dress.

3dly. By such recreations as are customarily forborne out of respect to the day; as hunting, fhooting, fishing, public diversions, frequenting taverns, playing at cards or dice.

If it be asked, as it often has been, wherein tonsists the difference between walking out with your staff, or with your gun? between spending the evening at home, or in a tavern? between passing the Sunday afternoon at a game of cards, or in conversation not more edifying, nor always so inoffensive? To there, and to the fame queition under a variety of forms, and in a multitude of similar examples, we return the following answer :-_That the religious obseryance of Sunday, if it ought to be retained at all, must be upheld by some public and visible distinctions--that, draw the line of distinction where you will, many actions which are situated on the confines of the line, will differ very little, and yet lie on the opposite sides of it—that every trespass upon that reserve which public decency has established, breaks down the fence by which the day is separated to the service of religion--that it is unsafe to trifle with scruples and 4


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