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God: for he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." The Gospel sets before us all the love and mercy of God. It addresses sinners in the language of kindness, of parental love:-"Why will ye die?""As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. . . . Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" The message upon which God sent his beloved and only Son into the world, was a message of peace: it was emphatically denominated glad tidings of great joy. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life: for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." "God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." "I beseech you," therefore, brethren, "by the mercies of God." Contemplate them, I entreat you, seriously. Number, if you can, the mercies which God has shewn to you. Look up to the heavens, and let that sun, shining in his strength to give you light and heat; that moon, whose mild light directs. you in the hours of darkness; declare to you the mercies of his hand. Look around, and see the whole earth replenished with the goodness of the Lord on every side, proclaiming the mercy of the great Creator. Look back, and say if you can mark a single hour in which the hand of God did not confer upon you some blessing; if at the close of any one day you could say, This day I have owed nothing to God. Look forward, and if you do cherish a hope of living through eternity in bliss which our powers can neither describe nor understand, think to whom you owe so delightful a prospect. But, above all, I beseech you by that mercy which gave his only begotten Son to be your Saviour, and to die for you on the cross. Could a greater gift be given? Could a more exalted proof of the goodness and mercy of the Lord be desired? Observe the extent of his mercy. If you knew
what was the real evil of even one sin; if you knew the infinite hatred which God bears to the least pollutiona hatred of which we never can form a conception; you would then know how to appreciate that mercy which moved him not to spare his only Son, but to give him up for us all. And for what did he give his Son? That he, who was infinitely dear to him, might suffer, and might even die, for you!-that sins deep as scarlet, and numerous as the sands of the sea, might be forgiven freely, and be remembered no more! And now he offers to pardon you, and invites you to come to him for mercy and for grace.
I speak, perhaps, to some who regard the commandments of God as grievous, and consider him as an arbitrary and unreasonable Sovereign. Oh! my brethren, do these mercies of God deserve such harsh conceptions? Are such mercies as he bestows-mercies infinite in value as well as boundless in extent and number -are all these to be disregarded and despised? There is a time coming when you will feel your need of mercy; when you will call on God (alas! it may be in vain!) whose mercies you have despised. But now God calls upon you: he invites you, he entreats you, he sets before you all his mercies: and is he to be rejected? Are you to make no returns to him? I beseech you by the mercies of God. I would trust that each of your hearts has already replied, 'Yes, Lord, I would devote 'myself, and all that I have and am, to thee.. Thy 'mercies demand my heart. Tell me gracious Lord, 'what thou wouldest have me to do, and how I can 'express my sense of thy goodness.' Hear, then, the Apostle's words: "I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." Let your lives, then, be devoted to God. Let them be spent in his service, and to his praise. The only sacrifice which he requires is, that you would regulate your lives by his holy word. This is the work, and this the disposition of the angels in heaven: do you murmur that God exalts you to their employment?
ON THE BENEFIT OF THE SABBATH.
Nehemiah xiii. 15—18.
In those days saw I in Judah some treading winepresses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath-day; and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem. Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? Yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.
THERE are some duties which cannot be performed without self-denial, or the loss of some temporal advantage: there are others which are so manifestly beneficial to us, even at present, that it would seem a matter
of no difficulty to comply with them. Of this kind is the duty of observing the Lord's Day; a duty which, whether we consider its beneficial tendency in a civil or religious light, claims our peculiar attention.
I propose to consider the appointment of the Sabbath in four different points of view-as an acceptable rest from the toils and labours of life, as a highly useful civil institution, as a necessary religious ordinance, and as a sign between God and man.
1. Let us consider it, first, as an acceptable rest from the toils and labours of life.
No benevolent person can look round upon his fellow-creatures, and behold so large a proportion of them doomed to severe and perpetual labour, without being deeply affected with their state.. "Cursed is the ground for thy sake. In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee. In the sweat of thy brow shalt thou eat bread till thou return unto the ground." Such is the curse, and awfully it is fulfilled. Too generally do we see our fellow-creatures consuming their strength in incessant labour, and yet scarcely able to procure the necessaries of life. Is it not, then, a merciful dispensa1 tion by which, for one day in seven, the curse is as it were suspended; by which it is made even the duty of the labourer to enjoy rest, and cease from his toil? What can be a more gratifying object of contemplation than the state of the labourer on the hallowed day of rest? He rises not to renew his usual toil, but to recruit his exhausted strength, to spend his time in the bosom of his family, to sit down with them, and to enjoy the pleasures of a father, a husband, or a son. He has this day graciously allotted to him, that he may instruct his family in their duty, animate them in the discharge of it, teach them the things which belong to their eternal peace, and converse with them about that blessed world which is to come. Cold are the feelings, and cruel the heart, which could deprive the poor man of
this his portion; sometimes, alas! his only portion of rest here.
Ye, my friends, whose station compels you to labour throughout the week, hail the dawn of the Sabbath as a day propitious to you. Bless God for it, as one of his most gracious appointments; for such, when properly employed according to his intention, it will be found. Receive it with gratitude to God. And while you enjoy the rest which it affords you, let your thoughts ascend to that merciful Being, whose lovingkindness is over all his works; who doth not willingly afflict and grieve the children of men, but pities them even as a father his own son who serveth him. Account that man your enemy, not your friend, who would rob you of it, and would exact of you incessant labour, for which you would receive no greater compensation than at present. Such would necessarily be the result, if the observance of the Sabbath were generally abolished. It is your interest, therefore, in a more particular manner, to guard against the violation of this day, and to avoid whatever may tend to diminish the reverence due to it. But this can never be done so effectually as by your spending it in those occupations for which your gracious Father designed it. Let it not be a day of idleness and sloth, of dissipation and pleasure, but a day of religious improvement, and of peaceful enjoyment of your families. Thus you will reap the benefit which God mercifully designed for you.
II. But I consider the Sabbath, secondly, as a civil institution.
I wish, my brethren, ever to impress upon your minds and my own, the important reflection, that the good of man and the observance of God's precepts are inseparably connected with each other. God is the wise and gracious Father of his creatures. He therefore ordains nothing which does not originate in the design of doing them good, and which does not in the wisest manner conduce to that end. Religion is designed to be the greatest civil benefit; and thus it is VOL. II.