« ForrigeFortsett »
cerning this, or many other things, so as to include all persons and cafes.
I cannot presume to prescribe to another person, what sum of money he shall give away in charity, or what persons in particular he must make the objects of it: yet alms giving is nevertheless a necessary duty; and, as we may see by our Lord's account of the last Judgment, it will be fatal to have neglected it.
It will be hardly said to me, that I am obliged to attend the publick worship of God, every time when it is possible; or even always when I might do it without very considerable inconvenience. It must be left to myself to be the judge: and it may be difficult to censure me safely in any particular instance. And yet surely I may make myself highly culpable upon the whole. A total neglect is scarce consistent with the bare profession of Christianity; and a backwardness in this attendance is a sign of a cold regard to it's interests, and a flender proficiency in it's power and spirit.
Who will presume to specify what exercises, visits, occupations, except those prohibited by law, are inconsistent with the decent, godly, and reasonable observ. ance of the Lord's Day; or how great a portion of it every Christian is bound to consecrate to acts of piety, and employ in the publick or private duties of Religion? The determination, if it were made, would not be the same for all, nor for the same person upon all occasions. And in any instance it would allow some latitude.
What may we hence infer? that there is nothing wrong? That we are at full liberty, with respect to this branch of our conduct, to act just as we shall think fit, or rather, as we may fancy? That engagernents, at the best of no ufe, and amusements hardly innocent upon any day, may yet engross and fill that time, which by the laws and customs of our country, and by the practice and injunctions of the christian church, in all nations, and from the first ages of it, has been fet apart, for the purposes of cultivaring piety, and giving honour to Almighty God? If the Scriptures were silent; if there were no traces of this custom in the practice of the Apostles, who indeed gave all their time to Religion, and continued daily with one accord Acs ii. in the temple; I had almost added, if 46. there were no Revealed Religion upon earth, this day is now, by fo many reafons, so long a prescription, and for such important purposes, appropriated and confecrated to God, that it is a sacrilege to profane it.
Let me just add, that to the inferiour part of mankind this inftitution of the Lord's Day, though intended even chiefly
for their advantage, is most dangerous. In this it but resembles many other means of grace, which being misapplied, become pernicious. Some rich men, it is probable, had been happier if they had been born to labour: and the
sometimes find reason to wish, they had had no day at their own disposal. Brought to the most deplorable end, and become examples and a spectacle for the good only of others, they have been heard to acknowledge, with their dying breath, that their first engagements in iniquity were contracted at a time when they were, too much, alas! for them, their own Masters on the Lord's Day: they were corrupted, and undone by the abuse of God's mercy, and the very means which he had appointed for their amendment and falvation.
HONOUR THY FATHER AND THY MOTHER: THAT THY DAYS MAY BE LONG IN THE LAND WHICH THE LORD THY GOD GIVETH THEE.
WHERE is fome diversity, it seems,
in the arrangement of the commandments. They are divided into ten after a different manner by Catholics and Protestants; and distributed differently VOL.II.