Part 4: The Sanctification of the Lord’s Day

The Fourth Commandment

James Durham

The Fourth Commandment

Part 4: The Sanctification of the Lord’s Day

Copyright © 1997 Naphtali Press

4. The Sanctification of the Lord’s Day

IV. We come now to speak of the sanctification of this day, which is the main thing, and for which all the rest is intended. We shall first consider the precept, and then the reasons whereby it is enforced.

The precept is, sanctify it, or keep it holy. Sanctifying of it is twice mentioned in this command. 1. In this end, it’s said God hallowed or sanctified it, that is by separation, destination, and appointment for holy uses, and as a part of worship. So he sanctified the Temple, Altar, etc., not by infusing any holiness in them, but by appointing them for holy uses. Thus only God can sanctify a day, or any other thing, so as to make it a part of worship, and no man or power on earth whatsoever can do that. 2. In the precept itself we are commanded to sanctify it, that is, by the application of it unto the uses wherefore he has set it apart; thus we sanctify what he has sanctified when we use it and employ it according to his appointment. And so we are to consider, the sanctifying of this day in these duties called for from us on it.

This sanctification is two ways set down. 1. In its cessation and rest, separating it from other uses, and so keeping it from the common uses, to which other days may and use to be [customarily were] applied. 2. In its special application to and employment in holy uses.

For clearness we shall consider this sanctification, 1. In respect of its rest, what we are to abstain from. 2. Comparatively, with that strictness called for from the Jews. 3. Eminently, what is required more as to holiness this day than on other days wherein also the Lord’s people should be holy? and wherein this goes beyond these? 4. Positively, in what duties it should be taken up. 5. Complexly, in respect of what is called for the right sanctifying of that day before it come on, in the time of it, and after it is past, and that in public and private, and by all relations, master, servant, etc., and throughout the whole man, thoughts, words, and deeds, and throughout the whole day. 6. Positively, or negatively, what are the breaches of this command, and the aggravations of these sins which break it.

1. First then, we consider it in its rest, which is required; and because there are extremes, some giving it too little, as the Jews did before the captivity; some too much, even to being superstitious, as the Jews after the captivity, and the Scribes and Pharisees particularly in Christ’s time did, stretching this rest too far, we must therefore consider it more narrowly and particularly for quieting of our consciences, for the Jews are by the Prophets (Ezek. 20; Jer. 17) and by Christ (Matt. 12) reproved for both extremes respectively.

We do then in this matter assert first, that there is a rest required here which is extensive to a man’s words, thoughts, and actions, whereby many things lawful on other days become unlawful on this day.

Yet we assert that by this rest all sort of actions are not condemned, but only such as are inconsistent with the end and scope of this command, as by other Scriptures and the practice of Christ and the saints is clear. We conceive therefore these to be permitted:

(1) All duties of piety, as was sacrificing under the Old Testament, or preaching, hearing or going about the sacraments under the New Testament. In which sense (Matt. 12), our Lord says the Priests profaned the Sabbath and were blameless, not that formally they profaned the Sabbath, or did indeed break that command, but materially they wrought in killing beasts, etc., which had been unlawful, had it not been in the exercises of piety.

(2) All things that have a tendency as necessary helps and means to the performance of the former works of piety, are lawful — as going to the congregation to hear the Law; calling the assembly for worship by trumpets, or bells, or by a voice; journeying, going or riding to church, etc. — because the duties of the Sabbath cannot well be done without some of these, nor at all without others of them.

Question. If it should be asked here, ‘What that which is called a Sabbath’s day Journey (Acts 1:12) was among the Jews? and whence it came, and what way may it be stinted or limited among Christians?

Answer. It was to them 2000 cubits, which according to the different measuring of that distance of ground consisting of these 2000 cubits by a lesser or longer cubit, is reckoned to be more or less by learned men. But all agree (says Godwin in his Moses and Aaron) in this, that these 2000 cubits was a Sabbath day’s journey.[Thomas Godwin, English theologian (1587-1643). Moses and Aaron; or the civil and ecclesiastical Rites used by the ancient Hebrews, observed and at large opened for the clearing of many obscure Texts throughout the whole Scriptures, etc. The 12th edition was published in London, 1685.]

It arose to be reckoned so from these grounds: [1] From their expounding Ex. 16:29 (Let none go out of his place) [as] ‘let none go without the bounds of the city’, which with its suburbs was 2000 cubits, or a mile about. [2] That the tabernacle of the congregation was so far from the tents of these who pitched about it in the wilderness (Numb. 2) as they supposed; and that the priests kept that distance from the people in entering with the Ark into Jordan (Jos. 3:4), whence they gathered that a man might still go to the Ark or place of worship, as it was then in these cases at a distance from them, and no further on the Sabbath day.

But we say whatever superstitiously or on custom they took up (for that is but their tradition), we cannot stint a Sabbath day’s journey to so many miles, fewer or more, but it must be as the man is in providence cast to reside further from, or nearer to the place where the ordinances are dispensed. For one may go many miles and not profane the Sabbath if he cannot have the public ordinances nearer, whereas another may break the Sabbath by going but to his neighbor’s door, yea by walking in his own house, or to his door, if either it be done idly, or with respect to another civil or worldly end, which agrees not to that day. It is not here remoteness or nearness, but what sways us, and what is our end, that we are to try by.

(3) All works of mercy are lawful on that day, as laying beside us something to the poor (1 Cor. 16:1), sending or dealing something to those who are in want (Isa. 58:7), visiting others, to comfort, strengthen, or otherwise to edify them christianly; though idle and carnal visits (albeit, alas too rife) are not permitted.

(4) Good works, as Christ says (Matt. 12:12) it’s lawful to do good or well on the Sabbath, such are giving of physic [medical treatment] (when it is necessary) bringing of physicians, saving a man’s life, and taking pains for it (Luke 13), etc. These good works may be classed either with works of mercy before, or with works of necessity that follow, both being good works as they are works of mercy or of necessity.

(5) Works of necessity, such as feeding beasts, leading them to the water, pulling them out of ditches, when they are fallen into them on that day, and much more honestly preparing sober allowance for the sustaining of the body, as the disciples plucked the ears of corn (Matt. 12), and the Jews (Ex. 16.23) dressed the manna on the Sabbath, though they were not to gather it (yet on the sixth day to bake and seethe a part, and to keep a part till the morrow, but not till the day following, and therefore they behooved to dress it also). Yea, Jesus Christ went himself to a feast on the Sabbath (Luke 14), that he might take that opportunity by his spiritual discourse to edify the company as he did notably, which he would not have done had it been unlawful to dress any meat on the Sabbath. Yet his carriage was such at that feast most remarkable, that it would be followed as a pattern by such as may be invited by others to eat with them, and shall be disposed to go on the Sabbath. And if this were the design of the inviters and invited, men’s eating together on that day would not readily prejudice the sanctification of it, as very often it does. Such is fleeing on the Lord’s Day from a destroying enemy, and in other warranted cases (Matt. 24); defending ourselves against unjust violence, etc.

(6) Works of comeliness, tending to honest or decent walking, as putting on of clothes honestly, making the house clean from any uncleanness that may fall in it throughout the Sabbath, etc.

By all which believers have allowance, [1] for piety, [2] for charity, [3] for what is needful for their beasts, [4] what is needful and convenient, or comely for themselves; and more is not necessary. In these the Lord has not straitened them [put them in difficulty], neither has he pinched and pinned them up to absolute necessity, but has left them to walk by Christian prudence (yet so as they may not exceed) for the disciples possibly might have endured that hunger, and not plucked the ears of corn, or beasts may live a day without water, and not be much the worse, or some sort of victuals may be provided to be set beside men on the Sabbath needing no dressing or preparing; yea, a man may live on little or nothing for one day. But the Lord has thought good not to straitened them so as to make his day and worship a weariness and burden unto them, seeing he has made the Sabbath for man, to be refreshing to him, and not man for the Sabbath; nor will he have their consciences to be fettered with inextricable scruples. He leaves it to men on other days how much to eat and drink by a Christian prudence (yet allows them not to exceed even on these), so here there is some latitude left to conscientious reason to walk by; for some may do something at one time, and not at another. Yea, one man may take more pains in upholding his body than is called for from another who is stronger. So it’s impossible to set particular rules which will agree to all. But men would look, [1] to their end, [2] to their need, [3] to what may conveniently attain the end.

Yet it is needful here to add some qualifications or caveats, lest folk indulge themselves too much, and exceed under the pretext of the former liberty which the Lord has condescended to leave men at.

(1) That men would see that the necessity is real, that real sickness keeps at home, that real hazard makes them fly or makes them bide at home, that it is such a necessity as they cannot contrive a way conveniently to evite [avoid] when it comes, or could not foresee before it came.

(2) Men would see that necessity is not brought on by themselves — if the thing might have been done at another time that necessity will not excuse; though if the sin is taken with, and repented of, and Christ fled unto for the pardon of it, we may go about the doing that lawfully which sinfully we have necessitated ourselves unto. As suppose one had got warning to flee the day before, to bring such a physician, or to provide such drugs, etc., if he did it not, then he sins. Yet when necessity comes he may still do it, but not with a good conscience, till he first acknowledge the former fault of his neglect.

(3) It would be adverted if that thing may be done, as well another time, or may not without prejudice (that is considerable) be delayed till the next day; thus taking or giving of physic on the Lord’s Day, making ordinary civil visits, beginning voyages, etc., will not sustain and bear weight before God, when folk do them that day, to have their own work day free, and so put by the proper duties of the Lord’s Day, for some things that may be done that day or days following. Thus rest is commanded (Ex. 34:21) even in sowing time and harvest; because the necessity is not clear, but depends on ordinary providence, and folks are to expect occasion and opportunities for them afterward.

(4) Men would take heed that they have not a tickling complacency that such necessities fall on the Sabbath, and be not glad to have diversions from the proper duties of the day. They would go about such works with a sort of sadness, though yet with clearness and peace of conscience as to their lawfulness. Therefore Christ says to his disciples (Matt. 24:20) pray that your flight be not on the Sabbath day; because it would be heavy to God’s people to fly on the day, though it was lawful.

(5) We would see that it mar not a spiritual frame, and that in doing these we turn not to mind the world as on other days. There would be still a respect to the day in our frame (which is called for in the word remember) and even when our hand is other ways employed, the heart should not be taken up with these things, but so far as is necessary to the acting of them.

(6) It would be adverted to, that they be done without irregularity, and so as not to give offense by them (hence it was that Christ ever gave the reasons of what he did on the Sabbath) lest others, not knowing our necessity, judge us guilty of Sabbath breaking, or be involved without necessity to do the like.

(7) Folks would have great respect to the end in these works, and of the motive which sways and puts them on. If it is outward gain or fear of some temporal loss, as if for gaining money a physician should go rather on the Sabbath than on another day to save the life of a man, that turns then to be a servile work, and one of his ordinary week day calling (to speak so). So if a minister should preach with respect to gain or applause on the Sabbath, or if any man should make a visit for a mere civil end, as we visit on other days, without a suitable respect to spiritual edification or furtherance of piety, it will mar all, and will be found a breach of the Sabbath.

(8) We would beware of spending too much time in these things, but would endeavor timely and quickly to expede and dispatch them, and rightly to trust them. Dressing of meat, and trimming, adorning, and busking of folks’ bodies will not be found a well spent part of the Sabbath, when it shuts out other duties, and gets too much time, as it does with many.

By all which we may see what need there is to watch over ourselves in these things, lest our liberty is turned into licentiousness, and lest we grow either idle or carnal on that day. Let us then consider how far this rest extends, and under it we take in:

(1) The rest of the whole man, outward and inward, in deeds, words, and thoughts, so is it Isa. 58:13, we should not speak our own words (nor by proportion think our own thoughts), nor find our own pleasures.

(2) It goes through the whole day; for though every minute of the day cannot be applied to positive duties, yet in no minute of it is it lawful to do another work (inconsistent with the qualifications and scope aforesaid). That is the negative part in it, thou shalt do no work, which binds ad semper.

(3) It is to be extended not only to a man’s own person, but to all under him — children, servants, etc. He must be answerable for it, that they rest, and must give them no occasion of work.

(4) It’s to be extended even to the least work of any sort, if unnecessary, as gathering sticks, speaking our own words, etc. These are all breaches of the Sabbath.

(5) This rest extends to all actions or sorts of actions or cases which are not comprehended under the former exceptions which are permitted, or are consistent with the sanctifying of the Sabbath as:

[1] All works which tend to our external profit, pleasure, satisfaction, etc., all works of our callings which make for the increase of outward gain and profit, such whereby we ordinary sustain our lives. These (Heb. 4:15) are called our own works, and here it’s such works as ordinarily are wrought in the rest of the six days. So it is doing thy own pleasure as well as works (Isa. 58).

[2] Such works as tend to other’s external gain or profit as the great motive of them, as servants may be working for their masters profit, and yet profane the day.

[3] Such as are not necessary on that day, as plowing, sowing, reaping, or gathering in, and that even in seed time and harvest; and so sithing, going of mills, etc., when these are not done for the very preserving of life, because they are not necessary out of that case. Neither is there anything here of an extraordinary dispensation that makes them necessary, the weather depending on an ordinary providence, or ordinarily depending on providence, which is to be reverenced. Hence though the weather and season is rainy, yet it is not lawful to cut down or gather in corn on the Sabbath, their hazard in this case being common and from an ordinary immediate providence. Yet suppose that a river were carrying away corn, or that winds were like to blow them into the seas, it were lawful in such a case to endeavor to prevent that, and preserve them. Because (a) that comes by some more then ordinary dispensation of providence in the weather, and affects and puts in hazard this corn more than others. (b) Because there is no probability of recovering these in an ordinary way, though the weather should alter, but there is hope of gathering in of such as are in the fields without [outside] that reach of hazard, if the Lord alters the season.

[4] Such as are for carnal pleasure or civil ends; thus playing, gaming, much laughing, etc., being our own works, more especially our own pleasure, are unlawful on that day.

[5] Consider that all things are prohibited which mar the end of the day, and are not consistent with the duties thereof; such are buying, selling, etc., out of the cases of pressing necessity. Folks cannot be spiritually taken up, and with these also; so playing and gaming is no less consistent with praying, reading, conferring, etc., then plowing or such like. Yea, is much more indisposing for it, and so we do necessarily thereby incapacitate ourselves for the duties of the day.

[6] All things are forbidden which consist not with this rest and the duties or worship called for from ourselves and others. Thus unnecessary journeying, walking, even supposing one could or should be exercised in meditation, is not resting as is required, much less is gadding in companies, in the street, or fields, to the neglect of secret and family duties.

In a word, whatever is not religious and spiritual exercise, or furthering or helping unto what is so, out of the excepted cases, much more whatever is sinful, scandalous, or unsuitable on other days, or does divert from, or indispose for the duties of holiness, and the worship of God on that day, is inconsistent with this rest, and so prohibited. For this rest is not primarily commanded and required for itself, but as conducing and subordinate unto the performing of holy duties in it. Therefore our rest is to be regulated so as may best contribute to that scope, and whatever mars that, though it should not be work strictly, but idleness, carnalness, or playing and gaming and sporting, yet it’s a breach of this rest. For [1], that is no religious duty, nor [2] tending as necessary help to it, nor [3] is rest commanded that we should play in it, but that we should sanctify it. [4] Playing or sporting cannot be called sanctifying the day, otherwise we might have more sabbaths than one, and the profane would love them best. [5] Playing separates not the Sabbath from other days, more than work does; for men play in all. [6] Playing is neither a religious duty, it being among the most irreligious and profane, nor a duty of necessity for easing of weariness, which does not here come by any bodily toil and labor; but (if there be any) from being exercised in spiritual duties — which therefore change and variety will through God’s blessing do, so as the person may be born out in them; nor is there any place for it, except some duty is neglected. Therefore it’s inconsistent with this.

2. We come to the second way of considering the sanctification required here, and that is by comparing it with that strictness called for from the Jews, and to which they were tied.

We speak not here of ceremonials (for so their whole service might be more burdensome then ours, and particularly their Sabbath services, because they were doubled on that day), but of moral duties. And in that respect we say that the tie and obligation unto the sanctification of this day is equal and alike unto us with them, which is clear in particulars. For (1), it ties us now to as long a time, to wit, a natural day of twenty-four hours, as it did them then. (2) It restrains from work and requires holy rest now, as much as then; for whatever work then struck against the letter or purpose and scope of the command, and marred holy duties, does so still. (3) It requires positive sanctification by holy duties, as preaching, prayer, meditation, etc., and allows not idleness, nor indulges time to other unnecessary works. (5) It requires as spiritual a manner and as spiritual a frame in performing of them now as then.

For (1), if the command is moral, then is there no change in moral duties, for it is the same command to us that it was to them, save in ceremonial things. (2) If the same things were allowed to them which are allowed to us, and if no more is allowed to be done by us, than was allowed to be done by them on the Sabbath, then the observation in it’s strictness is equal. But the first is true, for works of piety, mercy and necessity are allowed to us, and so were they to them, as by Christ’s reasoning against them (as being here superstitious) may appear. Yea (3), our allowances are taken from the practice of Christ and his reasonings with the Pharisees, who in these disputes aimed not to show that more was lawful by his coming than was before, but to show what then was lawful, though they ignorantly or willfully misunderstood the command, for even then God allowed mercy rather then sacrifice, etc., which places most clearly warrant us in our practice. (4) The service we have now is as spiritual, and without all doubt the promise of the Spirit for keeping up in holy duties as large as formerly, and therefore our improving of it should be no less.

Before we proceed there are some Scriptures which seem to thwart with, and to be cross to this, to which we would speak a little for clearing of them. As namely Ex. 16:23, 29 and Ex. 35:3, where it would seem that going out of the place, dressing of meat, and kindling of fire were forbidden, which are allowed to us.

To which we say (1), that we speak of the meaning of this fourth command, if any more was forbidden them by peculiar judicial laws, that contradicts not our assertion, these may be abrogated, while this command stands.

But (2), we conceive that as to these things, gathering of sticks, kindling of fire, dressing meat, etc., no more is allowed unto us than unto them, that is, all unnecessary labor in, and about these is unlawful to us now, and all necessary labor in, and about them was allowed unto, and lawful for them. As may be gathered from Christ’s practice, and his reasoning with the Jews, and from the allowance which was to their beasts.

(3) In the third place then, we say that these Scriptures cannot be literally and universally understood, for it cannot be thought that they went not out of the place, kindled no fire, dressed no meat in any case. Yea the allowance for their necessity, and Christ’s going in and partaking, when invited (Luke 14) on the Sabbath day (it’s like to somewhat was prepared that day, with his defending of his disciples practice in plucking ears of corn, and rubbing them, as it is [in] Luke 6:1, which was a sort of preparing and dressing of that meat), insinuate the contrary. Neither can anything be gathered from that place (Ex. 16:23), against dressing of meat simply, but rather the contrary, for the Manna that remained over what was dressed on the sixth day was to be laid up till the seventh day, or the Sabbath, but not till the day after the Sabbath. And will it not suppose, that they behooved then to dress it on the Sabbath as on other days by boiling, at least, for as to grinding of it at mills, or other ways, there was no necessity for that on the Sabbath out of some extraordinary case (or else they had needlessly laid it up), and so behooved to have fires to dress it with. And therefore that of not dressing meat, of not kindling fire, etc., must be of what is unnecessary and for servile works, or making gain in men’s ordinary particular callings.

3. But to the third way, if any should inquire what more holiness is called for, or can be won at, on the Sabbath than a believer is called unto on other days, he being called to endeavor to be perfectly holy every day?

Answer. (1) Although he is called to be perfectly holy, yet not in the holiness of immediate worship throughout every day. He is to be perfectly holy on other days, according to the duties and employments of these days; but on the Lord’s Day he is called to be holy according to the employments of that day and its duties. The Lord’s people of old were indeed called to perfect holiness all the week over, but singularly to sanctify the Sabbath as a part of their universal holiness. (2) Though all the parts of every day should be spent holy, yet some parts more especially, as what parts are spent in prayer, reading the Scripture, etc., and somewhat more is required of these who are called to it on a fasting day, than on other days, ever so on the Sabbath. (3) There is a difference between a person living holy in the general, and a person who is holy in sanctifying the Lord’s Day, though a man should be holy every day, yet is he not to sanctify every day which is required on this day, whereof we shall now speak.

This day’s sanctification then, we conceive to consist in these: (1) That there is more abstractness not only from sinful things, but even from lawful temporal things, required on that day than on other days — a spiritual frame of heart separating and setting apart a man from ordinary thoughts. Hence we may say, that as the Greek word koinon, signifies unclean as well as common, so a common or every day frame of spirit will be found unclean for the Sabbath. There must therefore be another frame of heart, different from an ilk-a-day frame and suited to that day.[“An ordinary day of the week, what is commonly called a lawful day, as distinquished from that which is appropriated to Christian worship, S, from ilk, every, and day.” Jamieson.]

(2) This day is to be sanctified in respect of the exercises even beyond other days, and that necessarily; whereas on some other days we may be taken up on some duties of worship arbitrarily, but here necessarily. And men may, and ought to be holy on other days, in their plowing, and other works, but [on the Sabbath] their holiness is to be in immediate worship to God, in something relating to that always, such as praying, reading, hearing, conferring, meditation, etc.

(3) The sanctification of this day lies in this, that it must be wholly sanctified. [Only] parts of other days are ordinarily used in religious service; but this whole day is to be so used. A man should be this whole day throughout, as in the time of praying on other days.

(4) Duties would be multiplied that day, more secret and private prayer, reading, etc., and more public worship; even as there were double sacrifices that day under the law, though there were sacrifices all days.

(5) There would be in the duties of this day more intensiveness of spirit, and a further degree of spiritual affections, than in these duties of other days; because this day is purposely set apart for that end. And by continuance in duties we may attain to more of a spiritual frame, and because not only the exercises of worship, praying, reading and hearing, etc., call to holiness on this day, as they do on other days, but even the very day itself does call to it. Even as on a solemn day of humiliation men ought to be more affected and deeply humbled than on other days (though daily they should repent and be humbled), because that day is solemnly set apart for it; so ought our worship to be more intense and solemn this day suitable unto it, wherein we are, as it were, dieted for insisting and persisting in duties of worship. Whereas these duties in this respect, and in comparison, are on other days, but as starts, worship is here some way the only work of that day.

(6) There would be more heavenliness and spiritual sense breathed after that day in the frame of the heart — it would be near God, and the work of the day would be delightsome and sweet, the Sabbath would (as it is Isaiah 58), be called a delight, and we would endeavor (as it is Heb. 4) to enter into his rest, to pass through the outward rest into his, to be within his chambers, yea even in his arms, as it were, all that day.

(7) There would be that day more divine-ness in our holiness (to speak so), a sort of majesty by ordinary in our walk, looking like the Sabbath, and like the God of the Sabbath. There would be an exalting in God that day — we would endeavor to have our hearts in a special manner warm in the exercise of love to him, and to be much in praising of him. Our whole worship would more absolutely and immediately be aimed and leveled at the honor and glory of God, as the end of it, than on other ordinary days, wherein our prayers and other pieces of worship may more immediately respect our own case and need; but on this day God’s honor as the end more immediately whatever our own case is, and that both in heart within and in the nature of our exercises without. This is to call the Sabbath of the Lord honorable, to honor and glorify him therein (as it is, Isa. 58), a special majesty being in that day’s worship by leveling it with extraordinary singleness at God’s praise, even as his name is hallowed or sanctified in heaven by angels and perfected saints. Hence It’s good to give thanks unto thy name, etc., begins that Psalm of praise for the Sabbath day, to wit, the 92nd. These duties then that further his praise are especially for that day.

(8) All these reach both words and thoughts — nothing to the hindrance of these is to be admitted in either. There are none of our words and thoughts that day, but they would in a special manner be God’s, and in it we should be spent as his, and endeavor to be within view of heaven to make some essay of glorified saints’ exercise there, and to have the Sabbath as a little prelude of that everlasting Sabbath and rest in the bosom of God.

4. The fourth way of considering this sanctification is positively, to wit, as to the duties wherein the Sabbath is to be spent, which are shortly, all duties of immediate worship, whether they are: Inward, as meditation, self-examination, heart-prayer, either ejaculatory or more continued, heart-sorrow for sins, etc. Or outward, as vocal prayers and singing of psalms, reading the Scriptures and other pious books, hearing the word, etc. Or whether they are secret, which may be both inward and outward, or private in families, as reading of the word, conferring on it, repeating sermons, praying together, etc. Or public, as joining with the congregation in prayers and praises, hearing the word read, and the sense given, hearing of sermons, participating of the sacraments, when dispensed, joining in solemn humiliations and thanksgivings, when they fall necessarily or more conveniently to be on the Sabbath. All which and such like are proper duties for that day, to which liberal laying up, and giving for the relief of the poor according to ability, and as God blesses every man would be added as a suitable duty of it, though it is no duty of immediate worship.

5. The fifth way is to consider the sanctification of the Sabbath complexly, before it comes, when it’s come, and after it’s past.

(1) Then the night before (not secluding a suitable remembrance throughout the week) [1] remember it by timely leaving of worldly business. It’s a great encroachment on the Sabbath, though too usual to continue longer at work the night before, than any other night of the week, as if folks would gain the day of rest, out of Saturday’s night and Monday’s morning.

[2] By not suffering this little timely leaving of work, to be idly spent, but being taken up with endeavors, (a) to abstract the mind from other works as well as the hand, and to have the heart put in a lively frame. (b) To mind the work of the day which is coming, and to have a suitableness to it. If you ask what suitableness should we have to it? Endeavor, [a] to be as if you were about to meet God, to try as if it were, visibly with him, and solemnly to treat and enter in marriage with him. [b] To be like heaven, and in a special manner in some sort to imitate God, as if you were already entered into his rest, and had rested from your own works. [c] To be as if you were to die, and to step into eternity. For this resting should mind us of that, and was, and is still specially appointed (though yet no ceremony) to mind us of God’s separating of us from others for himself, that we may rest eternally with him.

[3] Then for furthering of this, look back on the week past, and endeavor to have things clear before the Sabbath comes, and all by-gone quarrels removed, that there may be no standing controversies against you to begin the Sabbath with.

[4] Pray with special solemn seriousness in reference to that day, that you may have peace for what is past, that you may be in a right frame for the day; that the minister may be helped to speak as it becomes; that others may be fitted to hear and join; that the word and other ordinances may be richly blest of God; and that the mercy of having the ordinances may be minded, with praise to the gracious giver of them, and suitably improved.

(2) When the morning of that sweet and desirable day comes (after we have fallen asleep in a special manner, as it were in the Lord’s arms, the night before, and left ourselves there): [1] We would timely begin the work, and beware that either carnal thoughts get in, or the time be idly slipped over. But I say we would begin the work early. For it’s for that end appointed, and sinful thoughts will not be kept out, but by filing the room otherwise with what is spiritually profitable. Show forth God’s loving kindness in the morning, says the Psalm for the Sabbath, to wit, the 92nd. Let therefore the meditation of somewhat of these, or such like, begin with us, even when we are making ready. (a) Somewhat of God himself, whose day it is. (b) Of heaven, and that happiness that is there. (c) Of the works of God, who gave us and all the world a being, and who only preserves the same. (d) Of Christ’s redemption, and as closed and perfected on this day which especially should be minded; that so thinking of our many and great obligations, and of the misery we had been in, had not that work of redemption intervened, we may begin the day with a due impression of God’s greatness and goodness, of our own sinfulness, weakness, and misery, and of this blessed remedy and out-gate.

[2] We would address ourselves to solemn prayer in secret, and that at greater length than on other days, and with insisting with special petitions relating to the day, with all the seriousness we may win it.

[3] We would take a view of our own hearts, to see how and where we left the night before, and endeavor to have clearness between the Lord and us as to our state, and otherwise maintain, and renewed if it was, or attained if it was not.

[4] Too much time would not be spent in adorning or busking of folks’ bodies, or in making other provisions for them, but as the whole of it would be taken up in duties of worship (as we have before shown) so some part of it would be set apart for secret reading, yea for secret praising, thanksgiving, and singing, and exercise not unbecoming that day, as that aforecited Psalm for the Sabbath day shows.

[5] If you are the head of a family, or live in fellowship with others, then the family is gravely to be brought together, and every particular member is to join with the rest. And here also prayers and other religious duties are to be doubled according to the ceremonial doubling of sacrifices on the seventh day Sabbath under the law; for in secret, in families, and in public, there would be more that day than in other days.

[6] Care and inspection would be taken so far as men can reach, that by none in the society, neither secret nor private duties be neglected, nor public duties abstained from, but that each may stir up one another, and more especially those whose places lead them to it, to the suitable sanctification of the day in all the duties of it. And withal, it would be looked to that none of the family are suffered to stay at home unnecessarily from the public worship, or to be absent from the family worship.

[7] Timely (that you are not by haste discomposed) come to public, modestly appareled (it’s a shame to see how gaudily some come to public worship on the Lord’s Day), grave in your walk, wary and circumspect in your words, that they be spiritually edifying and suitable. Watch over your eyes, that carnal or worldly looks steal you not away, nor distemper your hearts; but especially over your hearts, that they wear not out of a spiritual frame.

[8] When you come to the place of public worship, if it is a while in beginning, be still watchful, and the nearer you come to it the more watchful; for temptations will be very ready to divert or discompose. There would be a frequent intermixture of ejaculatory prayers in reference to everything requisite for attaining and entertaining this composed-ness.

[9] When public worship begins, study to be (as Cornelius was, Acts 10) present to join in prayer, and praise, to hear what God will say, to receive it, to lay it up in your hearts, to be suitably affected with it, and to resolve through grace to practice it (for blessed are they only who hear the word and do it). And this would be with delight, aiming aright at the end of the ordinances, whatever they be, whereof we spoke somewhat on the second commandment.

[10] When the public worship is as to its first diet closed, let not your minds turn carnal, but depart reverently from it, cheering yourselves in God, fixing the convictions, exhortations, directions, instructions, etc., in your mind, as you have met with them, and be ruminating rather on these, than beginning to gaze or discourse with others on subjects that are not spiritual, and to edification.

[11] As soon as you can win, go in secret, and seek to have these things fastened and riveted between God and you, and let that be your first work, and let the little time that intervenes between the diets of public worship till you return, be spent suitable to the day and the end of the duties thereof.

[12] When all the public worship is ended, then you would do according to the preceding tenth direction. You would withal retire a while in secret, and reflect on your carriage in public, and also see what good may be gotten of the day, and if there be any misses, neglects, or failings observed (as if there is a diligent search there will no doubt be). Then be humbled, seek pardon through Christ, and resolve through grace to help these afterward; consider what was said, and like the noble Bereans (Acts 17), put it to the trial for your confirmation, by your considering and examining the Scriptures cited or spoken of; and endeavor yet more to have your hearts affected in secret with them.

[13] Then call your families and come together after secret seeking of God, and (a) be inquiring of one another what is remembered, that all being put together, you may be helpful by your memories one to another. (b) You would do this, not as if it were enough to tell over the words, but that the doctrines and their uses may be fixed, and you affected with them. Therefore (c), you would do this with other duties of reading, singing, and spiritual conference, as the occasion of it shall offer, with prayer to God before and after, being thus exercised till you go again in secret to close the day as you began.

[14] Duties of charity would be done, contributions made liberally according to our ability, and relief sent to others as we know their need; which also would be inquired after.

[15] Endeavor to have the heart in a right frame to close the day with; reflecting on our carriage throughout it, fearing to lie down with guilt unpardoned, and without some special fruit of the duties of the day; haste not to go to rest sooner that night than other nights, on design that you may be sooner at work the next day; which smells strong of wearying of the Sabbath, and of longing to have it at an end, of which the Lord complained of old (Amos 8:5). Study to lie down with thoughts as you arose, leaving yourselves in his arms, with respect to the eternal Sabbath that is coming.

(3) When the Sabbath is past, and the next day comes, cast not by all thoughts of it instantly, but begin your work as having just now ended the Sabbath, fearing to let the relish of it wear away, and endeavoring in your carriage through the week to retain the stamp and impression of it. Especially beware to go to your callings with a Sabbath day’s guiltiness on you. Oh endeavor by all means to have that removed! and all the week through have one eye to the Sabbath past, and another to the Sabbath coming, having still that sounding in your ears, remember the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, to keep it holy; dieting your souls, as it were, all along the week, for a course of communion with God in the duties of the next Sabbath.

6. It will be now easy to know when this command is transgressed (which was the sixth way proposed of considering the sanctification of the Sabbath, to wit, positively or negatively), which is done (1), by committing anything contrary to the rest or sanctification of it. (2) By omitting any of the things which are required for the right sanctifying of it. (3) By an unsuitable frame of heart as to the due manner of performing any of these duties required.

We will find the weight of this command yet more fully, by considering its reasons how it’s explicated and pressed. This is done (1) by laying down the equity and extent of it (v. 9, 10); (2) by pressing it from God’s example.

(1) As to the first, v. 9. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work. These words may be looked on (1) as an obliging concession, which is indeed very liberal; as if the Lord had said, ‘all days are mine, yet I have given thee six to do all thy work and labor that thou hast to do, therefore give me the seventh.’ It is but a small retribution for six to return a seventh. [2] As a restriction, you shall do whatever work you have to do within the six days, but none of it on the seventh. [3] As a command whereby God distributes our time, and commands six for our work, and the seventh for his. And thus these words forbid idleness, and command lawful diligence in these six days; which we conceive here to be implied,

[1] Because God is not carving out what time we may be idle in, but what time we should employ in our own lawful works as well as in his; for it cannot be thought that he gives us six to be idle on. It must therefore be to work on, seeing as our life should be taken up in doing either what more immediately concerns ourselves, or what more immediately concerns God. So the scope of this command being to proportion our time between these two, what is allowed for either of them, must imply an improving of it for that very end.

[2] The opposition also will confirm this. These six days are to be applied to our work, as the seventh is to be applied to God’s, which is more than a permission. And if the negative part is imperative, in it thou shalt not work, then the positive, six days shalt thou work, may well be understood so also.

[3] God’s example will press it, for we are to follow it, not only in resting on the seventh, but also in working in the six days as he did.

[4] Working these six days comes in as a means to further and fit for the sanctification of the seventh; for so a man puts by his business, and has the more freedom for the rest on the seventh, whereas idleness often sinfully necessitates to the breach of it, and to a desire that it may be gone (Amos 8:5). And thus idleness is reproved here, and diligence commanded under one consideration, to wit, as the removal of the former and practice of the later, do capacitate us to give God his due on his own day when it comes. Even as they are also included in the eighth command, Thou shalt not steal. For as idleness becomes a snare and temptation to a man to steal, and hinders him from works of charity and suitable diligence in the works of his lawful calling, readily prevents the one, and capacitates for the other; so is it here, for it’s not unusual that the same sin and duty may be forbidden and commanded in diverse commands upon diverse considerations. And this agrees well both with the words and scope of this command.

[5] And according to the holy and wise economy of God’s goodness, our labor may be commanded to make his rest to be to us the more relishing and refreshing.

The tenth verse contains three things for explication. [1] The Lord’s claim of the seventh day as having reserved that to himself, it’s his; it’s to him, and by him, and for him; separated from the other days. [2] A consequent flowing from this, therefore that day is not to be employed to any of our own works, no not the least, no manner of work, no word, no thought nor deed of any such sort under whatsoever pretext beside the excepted cases. [3] It’s extension as to all relations, so to all ranks, parent and child, master and servant, etc. Yea, it’s thou for yourself, and for all you have the oversight and charge of, sons, servants, strangers, yea and beast — not that they are capable of sanctifying a day more than the beast in Nineveh were of religious fasting (Jonah 3). Yet this shows what ought to be the master’s care, it being for his use that beasts are put to work. God enjoins all ways of abstaining from everything that is a man’s own work on the Sabbath, and will have him solemn in it. In a word, all within thy gates, looks not only to masters and all in their families or within their doors, but to magistrates and governors, and all within their jurisdiction (gates being the place of judgment, and used in Scripture to show the extent as well as seat of power), that they should see to their sanctifying of this day. And the failing of any under them is their sin when they endeavor not to prevent and amend it. And thus Nehemiah understood this command (Neh. 13), when he put forth his power, not only in contending with the native nobles, but even against strangers, for restraining them from violating this day.

Hence we gather, [1] that idleness is a sin, and that they will hardly give God his due on the seventh day, who are not diligent in the duties of some lawful calling and station for God’s honor and others’ good through the six days of the week. And indeed this is often seen, that such are lazy, and careless, and idle on that day, passing it over even as they do other days, without any difference at all, except it be that they come to church.

[2] We gather that human, whether ecclesiastic or civil, appointment of ordinary fixed days for worship throughout the whole day, beside the Sabbath, will not agree with this command allowing men six days for labor. It’s true, God might sovereignly limit men, but where he has given liberty (if it were but by concession) who can restrain?

Concerning days therefore, we lay down these four. [1] That there can be no solemn setting apart of any day to any creature; thus saint’s days are unlawful. For the Sabbath, or day of rest, is to the Lord, and to none other; it being a peculiar piece of worship to him who has divided time between his worship and our work. And although men should keep the day, and alter the worship, yet this is a taking of that which was once abused, and never enjoined, for to apply it to God, and wants not offense; even as the retaining of other things in worship which have been abused, and are not necessary, is offensive. [2] No man can institute any day, even to the true God, as a part of worship, so as to bind consciences to it, or to equal it with this day. That is a part of God’s’ royal prerogative, and a thing peculiar to him to sanctify and bless a day. [3] Even those days which are pretended to be set apart to and for God, and yet not as a part of worship, cannot be imposed in a constant and ordinary way (as anniversary days and feasts are), because by an ordinary rule God has given to man six days for work, except in extraordinary cases he shall please to call for some part of them again. [4] Yet extraordinarily upon occasions of humiliation, or of joy, and thanksgiving days, for that time, may be set apart for God, without wronging this concession, even as in extraordinary times we may work, and not rest on the Sabbath day, though ordinarily we may not. This proportioning of time therefore is for the ordinary rule, but yet admits of the exception of extraordinary cases.

[3] We gather that masters and parents ought to have a special oversight of their own children and families in the worshipping of God, and that especially in reference to the sanctifying of this day; and that there is a special communion in worshipping of God among the several relations of a family.

[4] We gather that magistrates, and all who have power over others, ought to see to the restraining of vice, and to the performing of outward duties, particularly such as relate to the sanctification of the Sabbath (as well as to abstain from, and to do such and such things themselves in their own persons), in and by these over whom they have power. And that it’s no less scandalous and sinful for a magistrate not to see that sin is crushed, that the Sabbath is sanctified, and the ordinances of religion are entertained and received and reverenced in and by those over whom he has charge, than if he commits such sins himself — than if he discountenanced the ordinances and brakes the Sabbath himself, or suffered his own family or himself, to be without the worship of God. Why? Because these are within his gates, and he is to account for them. He is to rule for God, and their good which is mainly spiritual. He is to be a terror to evil doers, as well as to be an encouragement to them that do well. And men are according to their places and parts to be forthcoming for God and the good of others. And yet this cannot be called a constraining or forcing of consciences, for a magistrate or master thus to restrain these who are under them, it’s but the using of that power, which God has committed to them to make men to do their duty, and to abstain from dishonoring God, and the punishing of them, if they do other[wise]; in which respect he bears not the sword in vain.

(2) The second and main reason follows (v. 11) wherein this command is three ways pressed also. [1] By God’s example, who during the space of six days wrought (though he might as easily have made all in one day) and rested the seventh, and not before the seventh, on which he wrought not. Even so it becomes men to do, seeing he intended this for their imitation, and for that end does propose it here. God’s’ rest on the seventh is not absolute and in every respect (for John 5:17 he works hitherto, that is, in the works of providence, sustaining, preserving, and governing the creatures made by him, and their actions [Ed. See Westminster Shorter Catechism #11]), but all things needful for the perfecting of the world were then made and finished. Whence by the way we may gather, that not only all creatures were made, angels even these that since turned devils, etc., but that they were made within the six days of creation, when heaven, earth, sea and all that was in them was made. Therefore all our works that are necessary to be done in the six working days, would be done and ended, that we may rest on the Sabbath, as he did.

[2] The second way is by his blessing of it. God blessed the Sabbath day, which is to be understood not simply in respect of the day, which is not properly capable of blessing, but in respect of the true observers of it; he blesses it to them, and he blesses them in it, which may be in these three. (a) That the rest of that day shall not prejudge them in their week’s work, but that their labor shall be therefore blessed, so that they shall miss nothing by observing that day, as the Lord blessed the seventh year, whereon they rested, and yet notwithstanding they were as well provided as when they labored (Lev. 25:20-22). And it’s likely that if we will compare such as make conscience to sanctify the Sabbath with others, who think and seem to gain by breaking of it, this will be found at the years end to be verified.

(b) That the Lord has set apart that day for a spiritual blessing, and the communication of it to his people (so the bread and wine are blessed in the sacrament of the Lord’s supper to be a means of conveying spiritual blessings to the worthy receivers, Isa. 56 and Ps. 92:3)

(c) That God will abundantly manifest his gracious presence, and multiply his spiritual blessings that day upon its due observers, more than on other days wherein he is also sought. As there is this day a double worship both in respect of the duty, and of the day whereon it’s done, so there shall be a double blessing beyond what is on other days; in which respect, even prayers in, and towards the temple (while it stood by divine appointment as a separate place from others) had a blessing beyond prayers in other places. And thus Christ blessed the loaves and the few small fishes (John 6), when he made them by multiplication on the matter to feed far beyond their ordinary proportionableness; so service on this day grows in its blessing. Hence we may see a usual connection between universal thriving in religion, grace and piety, and suitable obedience to this command, in the tender sanctification of the Sabbath; and withal a reason, why so few make progress in godliness, even little keeping holy the Sabbath as they ought.

[3] The way is by his hallowing it, wherefore he hallowed it, or sanctified it, that is per modum distinandi, or by way of appointing of it for holy uses, and separating it from other days (as is said). The inference wherefore, as to the hallowing, points at the reason or end wherefore God did it, to wit, that there might thereby be an excitement left to men, to imitate God; and that man might not only have God’s command, but his example also to bind this duty on him.

If it is asked here, why God will have a day set apart for holy exercises beside other days? it may be answered: [1] It’s meet that God is acknowledged Lord of our time, by this tribute being reserved to himself. [2] Because man having but a finite understanding, besides the now corruption of it, cannot be intensely taken up with spiritual and heavenly things and with temporal and earthly things, both at once, or at the same instant. For even Adam in innocency could not do that; therefore the Lord has graciously set apart a day for man’s help in that. [3] It’s to teach man that his chief end is to converse with God and to live with him, and that he ought to care in his own affairs along the week, and order things so as the Sabbath may be duly sanctified, when it shall come in that sweet soul reposing converse with him. [4] To show man wherein his happiness consists; it’s even in this, to walk and converse with God, and to be in his worship; this is his rest. [5] To show the excellency of religion, and of the works of piety, or of God’s worship, above men’s employments in earthly and worldly things. It was a Sabbath to Adam in innocency to be abstracted from his labor for the worship of God; the one is men’s toil, the other is men’s spiritual rest and ease — far contrary to that which men in the world ordinarily think and judge.

We see now how great and grievous a sin it is to break this command, and with what care this day should be hallowed. For 1., it’s a command of the first table, and so the breach of it is, in some respect, more than murder, adultery, stealing, etc. It’s included in the first and great commandment.

2. Among all the commands of the first table, yea all the commands, this religious observance of the Sabbath is most forcibly pressed with more reasons, and with more full and particular explication. Because (1), all the commands hang some way on this, and obedience is ordinarily given to them with the same readiness, as this day is employed in God’s service. (2) It keeps life, as it were, in all the rest, and when men are cold in this, so are they in all the rest. (3) This tries men in their love to God best, if indeed his company and service is more delighted in, than the world; and is a notable indication of the frame of the soul. It makes proof both of their state and frame, as men are usually and habitually on the Sabbath, so in effect are they, as to these.

3. No breach of any command has more aggravation. For (1), it is against reason and equity, when God has given us so many and so good reasons for it. (2) It’s high ingratitude, the Sabbath being a mercy; and a great mercy indeed it is to be privileged with access to converse with God a whole day of every week in duties of worship. (3) It’s against love. God’s love has instituted it, and our love should in a special manner vent itself to him on it. (4) It’s cruelty against ourselves; for the Sabbath kept holy, is backed with the promise of a special blessing, and we by this sin prejudge ourselves of that. Yea, the Sabbath rightly spent is a means both of holiness and of nearness to God, of conformity to him and of communion with him — it promotes both. So that it is eminently verified here, that these who sin against this command, sin against, and forsake their own mercy.

4. No sin does more evidence universal untenderness, and as it’s a sin in itself, so it evidences, especially when gross, a very sinful and some way atheistical frame, and disposition, as may be gathered from Neh. 13.

5. Yea, it occasions and breeds other sins. It habituates to sinning, and hardens against challenges, so that men ordinarily become very gross and loose and fall in scandalous sins, who neglect the sanctification of the Sabbath, which is the quickener and fomenter some way of all duties, and knits the two tables of the law together. Hence it comes to pass that we often hear men that have turned to be very loose, gross and scandalous (and some of them on scaffolds and at gibbets) cry out of Sabbath breaking, imputing the one to the other, as a main cause. For by this sin men grow stout against challenges, and formal in secret duties, and so at length sit quite up.[Or, ‘so at length do go on to neglect duties altogether.’ “To Sit Up — To become careless in regard to one’s religious profession or duites, S.” Jamieson. See Durham’s use of this phrase in his Lectures on Job (Naphtali Press, 1995), p. 149.]

6. No sin has more sharp challenges for it, and more sad judgments avenging it, than sins against this command. Have there been any men deeply challenged for sin, or at death (whether ordinary or violent) brought to express and utter their challenges, but sins against this command have been main ones? The slighting of the Lord’s Sabbath made Jerusalem to be burnt with fire (Jer. 17:ult). For this sin they are threatened with terrible plagues (Ezek. 20:21, 24). Not only in temporal things (v. 23), but with spiritual plagues to which they are given up (vs. 25-26). You know that a man was stoned for gathering of sticks on the Sabbath (Numb. 15 see also Ex. 16:28, and Ezek. 22:8 where the Lord accounts Sabbath breaking a despising of his Holy things). Oh is it possible that a man can be well that breaks the Sabbath, or to whom it is not a delight?

If any should ask here, if indeed the breaches of this command is a greater sin than the breaches of the commands of the second table? And if so, if God will be avenged on these severely?

For answer (premitting this one word, that in comparing breaches of the commands of the two tables, we would compare sins of a like nature together; that is, sins of presumption with sins of presumption, and sins of infirmity with sins of infirmity), we say, that a presumptuous sin against the fourth command, if it were but to go unnecessarily to the door, or to gather sticks, is a greater sin than a presumptuous murder, because it strikes more immediately against God. And that a sin of infirmity against the fourth command, is greater than a sin of infirmity against the sixth. Yet we grant that presumptuous murder is a greater sin than a sin of infirmity against the fourth command, because presumption and high handedness in the manner of sinning, in a sin little on the matter comparatively, dares God, as it were, and strikes immediately against him, and so is an additional high aggravation of it, besides what it is in the nature of it. And though our censures against presumptuous breaches of the Sabbath, which are now as great sins as formerly (as is clear from what is just now said) are often more mitigated now under the gospel, neither was it as we conceive, ordinary to stone the presumptuous profaners of the Sabbath, even among the Jews. Yet will this be no good reasoning. Men do not now execute punishments upon transgressors of the first table as on transgressors of the second, therefore transgressions of the second table are greater sins than transgressions of the commands of the first. For so we would be in hazard to postpone all the laws or commands of the first table to these of the second; but we are to consider that temporal punishments are heightened or lessened accordingly as the peace and order of civil societies may be more or less therein concerned. So that it is not by these measures that we are to make the estimate of the greatness or smallness of sins in the sight of God, and in order to his righteous and absolute judgments, and therefore it’s enough that we inquire what God has done, and will do, and what sinners may expect from him. However men may overlook and pass them by, yet before God they are often taken notice of, and plagued even in this life, and will be forever hereafter, if they repent not.

We may now therefore in the close, exhort, beseech, obtest and charge you all as in the sight of God, who is a severe avenger of them, that you would be aware of the sins whereby this command is transgressed. Particularly guard against:

1. Not preparing for it, or not remembering of it; many profane the Sabbath ‘ere they come to public, yea, before it comes in some respect.

2. Carnal thoughts and a common frame of heart; yea, even to speak so, a particular frame that looks both to our own condition or case. As not stirring itself to be over and above that to be affected with God and his glorious works of creation and redemption, to give him praise for his marvelous goodness on that day; there is alas generally little delight and praise in his worship, even on his own holy day.

3. General unedifying discourses, of the news of the time, of health, and other things not necessary to that day.

4. Little profiting under the gospel, and not growing in knowledge and practice; many a Sabbath is thus profaned, few getting or seeking the blessing of it, or on it.

5. Going to the fields and visiting of neighbors to put off a piece of time, that so much time may be saved on other days of the week, wherein many men think they have more to do; and not seeking to edify, or to be edified when they visit. Certainly by this going abroad and running up and down the streets unnecessarily, you indispose yourselves, you offend others, and tempt them to follow you; you slight either duties in your families, or in secret, or it may be both, in a great measure. I suppose that if you made conscience of these, there would not be so much time to go abroad. Take some other day for recreating yourselves. You say you have then somewhat else to do. Have you nothing to do this day? Or will you take more boldly from God’s day than from your own? Is sacrilege less than taking what is your own? What if all did so gad abroad? (And it may be they have no less reason) What a Sabbath day would we have? There is a remarkable word (Ex. 16:29) that on the Sabbath none might go out of his place, which though it is not to be understood as restraining exercises of piety, or works of necessity and mercy, as we showed before, yet it would seem to be the meaning of the words, that on that which we call taking the air, and on visiting, there was a restraint thereby intended.

6. Men’s sitting upon choice in the Church at such a distance that they can scarcely hear, and that they may the more securely confer together on common purposes; so that they do not so much as aim to profit, of whom we may [aptly] say (as Christ said of the Priests, that they profaned the Sabbath and are blameless), that they some way keep it and are guilty. Many also sleep, vary, and wander in their thoughts, and are as stones and statues in the Church.

7. Little ones, and boys going and running up and down playing and making a noise, and servant’s gadding; all which will be charged on magistrates, ministers, elders, masters and parents, who are not conscionably aiming and endeavoring in the diligent use of all suitable means to amend and prevent such abuses, and to punish continuance in them: Especially look to it when few plead or appear against such sins.

8. Much idle loitering over of the Sabbath, doing nothing, and much sleeping it over. Idleness is a sin any day, much more on this day.

9. Little care of sanctifying the Sabbath when men are from home, or when they are not in their own congregations, when they are not in their own houses, or have not any to take the oversight of them. There is much liberty taken this way, and there are many complaints of it. What my Brethren? Does not the Sabbath require as strict sanctification abroad as at home?

If any would ask remedies of all these, and such like evils, I know none better than these that are in the command itself.

1. The first is remember What? (1) Remember by-gone failings, and repent of them. (2) Remember coming to Judgment, that you may be found of it in peace as to this or any other guilt, and endeavor to prevent it. (3) Remember to be all the week over in your worship, and walk, minding it.

2. A second is, be well employed throughout the week, and be not given to idleness or laziness in your particular callings, nor in spiritual exercises. There will be no sanctifying of this day without that. Be not therefore slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord (Rom. 12:11).

3. See that nothing unbecoming the rest of the day is admitted, no manner, not only of deeds, but of words or thoughts.

4. Let everyone take inspection of others, and seriously mind it in your several places, as you are called.

5. Follow God’s example in other things, as it’s proposed to you for your imitation, and you will do it the better in this.

6. Aim at the blessing as well as at the duty; hang on [God] for life and strength to discharge the duty, and for the blessing, since he is the author and bestower of both. And do the duty delightsomely and with joy, through the faith of his blessing, and acknowledge his unspeakable goodness in privileging you with his day, and the worship thereof, still waiting on him, and trusting in him for whatever good may come to you in it.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!