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PART SEVENTH.
UNION WITH GOD IN THE WORK OF MAN'S REDEMPTION.



CHAPTER IV.


OF UNION WITH GOD IN THE OBSERVANCE AND THE DUTIES OF THE SABBATH.


Introductory remarks. — Objected to the observance of the Sabbath, that all days are equally holy. — Explanations of this view and answer to it. — Of the rest and peace of the Sabbath. — Of the spiritual benefits of the Sabbath. — Union with God implies union with him in the support of this day.

THOSE designs of mercy, which God entertains towards our fallen race, will be carried on, in part at least, in connection with the Christian Sabbath. And those, who cooperate and are united with God, will cheerfully recognize the day, and harmonize in its great purposes. It is not our object, however, to enter into the subject of the original establishment of the Sabbath, nor of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week; nor to enter into the examination of some other topics, which are ordinarily connected with it. We introduce the subject here for the purpose of considering it in another aspect.

2. It is something worthy of notice, amongst the remarkable things of the present time, that the Christian Sabbath, contrary to what would be the natural expectation in the case, is attempted to be set aside by persons who have a respect for religion, and appear to be persons of true benevolence and piety. Some of them make high claims to holiness of heart. The holiness of their hearts, as they understand it, has made all things holy. Their work is holy; their rest is holy; their recreations are holy, — everything they do, while the heart is holy, partakes of the character of the source or motive from which it proceeds. No one day, therefore, can be more holy to them than another. The Sabbath is on a footing with other days. All days are alike.

This is the general train of their thought and reasoning. And it cannot be doubted, I think, that there is not only a degree of plausibility, but a portion of real truth in these views.

3. It is true, in a certain sense undoubtedly, that all days, considered in reference to the subject of holiness, are alike. It would be absurd to suppose, that, while we are required to conform to holiness on one day, we are at liberty to deviate from it, in some degree, on another. It is true, therefore, that all days should be kept as holy as the Sabbath. And in this respect, and so far as this, all days are and ought to be alike. But it ought to be particularly remembered, while we admit that the requisition of holiness attaches itself to all days alike, and that one day is not and cannot be more holy than another; that they are alike by
sameness of dispositions, and not by similarity of outward acts. They are alike to us, and are made alike in God's view, not by doing the same thing every day, but by doing that which is appropriate to the day. Time, in itself considered, is not holiness, nor can it be the subject of holiness. It is not possible that one day, in itself considered, should be more holy than another; but holiness consists in being and doing in time just that thing which is appropriate to the time. The law of God requires us to do everything with a holy heart every day, on other days of the week as well as on the Sabbath, and not more on the Sabbath than on other days. But this is a very different thing from doing or allowing the same thing to be done every day. The only true expression, therefore, the only true law, is, Do that which is appropriate to the time. Any known and deliberate violation of this law is sin; and cannot be otherwise than sin.

4. We are to do on the Sabbath day that which is appropriate to it. But it must be very obvious that the appropriateness of our acts can never be ascertained, independently of a regard to what takes place around us. The recurrence of the Sabbath, in consequence of what are understood to be the laws of God in the case, and of the general consent of all Christian nations, has the effect to stop the ordinary operations of life, and to hush the world to comparative peace; — so that there is a rest from physical labor, an opportunity to recover from undue exhaustion, and a season for moral and religious reflection and worship. It is a season, especially in the present condition of the human race, of immense, of incalculable importance. If, therefore, my recreation or my labor on the Sabbath day breaks in upon the general harmony, and disturbs the rest, the contemplations, and the worship of my neighbor, and thus does a serious injury to himself and his family, it is clearly
inappropriate to the day. It is a violation of what is due from man to man, and is a sin.

5. Consider, further, if the Sabbath or Lord's day is the day for man to rest in, and that, in the cessation from his ordinary labors, he may receive and be nourished by the truth, it is the day also for God to work in, in order that the truth may be communicated. God has a great message for his rebellious people; the message of life through his Son. But on the other days of the week, when their hands and their hearts are occupied with other things, it is difficult to obtain a hearing. It is on the Sabbath day, especially and emphatically, that this great message is communicated; — a message which involves in its results, not only the salvation of the soul, but equal rights among men, the emancipation of the enslaved, the, cessation of war, the progress of humanity and civilization, and universal brotherhood. All other forms of legitimate emancipation are necessarily involved in the emancipation of the soul from guilt and sin. Destroy the Lord's day, and you necessarily close the communications of God, which have relation to these great objects. You close the communications, because you take away the necessary opportunities for hearing them. He, therefore, who does anything on the Sabbath, which tends to interrupt the communication between God and men, by perplexing the operations of him who speaks or by diverting the attention of those who listen, does that which is inappropriate to the day.

6. The Sabbath is, in some respects, the great, the cheering hope of the human race. It is emphatically the day of the poor, the suffering, the enslaved, the prisoner. Without it, the poor man would scarcely have hope; laboring, as he would then be obliged to do, without cessation, and yet without additional emolument; — the slave, who experiences rest, and receives instruction on this day, would find his state of bondage more trying and distressing than ever; — the ignorant man, who greatly needs knowledge, would find many important avenues of knowledge closed to him; and the evils and sufferings which afflict our race would be, in various ways, greatly increased.

7. We may, perhaps, admit that the Sabbath, considered in its relations to the human race, was made for the unholy rather than for the holy. That is to say, the holy man, who has a perpetual Sabbath in his soul, could, perhaps, do without it, while the unholy man could not. But then it is to be remembered, that no man can properly be regarded as a truly religious or holy person, who has not a
disposition to cooperate with God. Our great business is, to stand in union with him, who here and everywhere unfolds our destiny. If, therefore, it is the design of God to benefit men, especially the degraded and the sinful, through the medium of the Sabbath, it is justly expected of all who regard God's will and are like him, that they will observe and honor the Sabbath day. They cannot be united with him in spirit, without being united with him in the observance of this important institution; sympathizing in its objects, fulfilling its duties, and rejoicing in the hopes it inspires.