must be employed in the public worship of God. This, you have seen, the Jews understood to be requisite on their Sabbath ; and the earliest account, which we have of ours, informs us, that

on the first day of the week, the disciples came “ together to break bread;" which means, to celebrate the Lord's Supper. That with this was joined the Apostles' doctrine and prayer, we learn from another place of the same book of Scripture.9 And that every Lord's day was dedicated to the public offices of piety, the history of the Church fully shows from the beginning. To strengthen the obligation of attending on these offices, the laws of the land also enjoin it. And as all persons need instruction in their duty both to God and man, and the generality have scarce any other season for it than the leisure of the Sunday ; if this most valuable time be either taken from them, or thrown away by them, they must become ignorant and vicious, and, of consequence, miserable in this world and the next. How wicked, then, and how unwise is it, either to throw contempt on such an institution, or, on frivolous pretences, to neglect improving by it!

3 Besides assembling in the Church on the Lord's day, every one should employ some reasonable part of it in the private exercises of piety, in thinking over their past behaviour, confessing their faults to God, and making prudent resolutions against them for the future; in praying for the mercies which they more especially want, and returning thanks for the blessings with which Providence hath favoured them ; in cultivating a temper of humanity, in doing acts of forgiveness, and setting apart something, according to their ability, for acts of charity, for which last St. Paul hath particularly recommended this time :' and in se

(8) Acts xx. 7.

(9) Acts ii. 42.

(1) 1 Cor. xvi. 2.

riously considering at home, whatever they have heard in God's house. For, our public religion will soon degenerate into an useless form, unless we preserve and enliven the spirit of it, by such means as these, in private ; to which they, above all persons, are bound on the Lord's day, who either have little leisure for them on others, or make little use of it.

When once persons have brought themselves to spend so much of the Sunday as is fitting in this manner, it will then, and not before, be time for them to ask, how the remainder of it may be spent. For, it is a very bad sign to be careless of observing what is commanded ; and zealous for extending, to the utmost, what at best is only permitted. Over great strictness, however, must be avoided. And, therefore, decent civility, and friendly conversation may, both innocently and usefully, have a place in the vacant part of our Lord's day of which it is really one valuable benefit, that it gives even the lowest persons an opportunity of appearing to each other in the most agreeable light they can, and thus promotes mutual good will. Nor is it necessary at all to banish cheerfulness from our conversation on this day, which being a festival, though a religious one, we should partake of all God's blessings upon it with joyful hearts. But then such instances of freedom and levity, in talk and behaviour, as would scarce be proper time, are doubly improper at this; and tend very fatally to undo whatever good the preceding part of the day may have done.

And as to the taking further liberties, of diversions and amusements, though they are not in express words forbidden, for the desire of them is not supposed, in the word of God; yet, by the laws both of Church and State they are. And what need is there for them, or what good use of them? If persons are so vehemently set upon these

at any

things, that they are uneasy to be so much as one day in seven without them; it is high time that they should bring themselves to more moderation, by exercising some abstinence from them. And if they are at all indifferent about them, surely they should consider, what must be the effect of introducing and indulging them; what offence and uneasiness these things give the more serious and valuable part of the world; what comfort and countenance to the unthinking and irreligious part ; what a dangerous example to the lower part; what encouragement they afford to extravagance, and the mad love of pleasure; what a snare they place in the way of all, that think them unlawful; and yet will thus be tempted to these liberties first, and then to others, against their consciences; and, to add no more, how unhappily they increase the appearance (which, without them, God knows, would be much too great,) of religion being slighted and disregarded, especially by the upper part of the world, who should be the great patterns of it.

And if this be the case of merely unseasonable diversions, imprudent and unlawful ones are still more blarneable on this day; but most of all, that crying sin of debauchery and intemperance, which perverts it from the service of God to the service of the devil; and leads persons, more directly than almost any thing else, to utter destruction of body and soul. Therefore let us be careful, first to guard ourselves against these transgressions; then to keep our children, servants, and dependants from the like, if we make any conscience of doing well by them, or would have any prospect of comfort in them. Nor let us think it sufficient, to restrain them from spending the day ill; but, to the best of our power and understanding, encourage and assist them to spend it well. And God grant we may all employ in so right a manner,

the few Sabbaths, and few days which we have to come on earth ; that we may enter, at the conclusion of them, into that eternal Sabbath, “ that

rest, which remaineth for the people of God,"? in heaven.


Fifth Commandment


HAVING explained the precepts of the first table, which set forth the duty of men to God; I now come to those of the second, which express our several obligations one to another.

Now the whole law, concerning these matters, is briefly comprehended, as St. Paul very justly observes, in this one saying, “ Thou shalt love thy

neighbour as thyself."" Our neighbour is every one, with whom we have at any time any concern, or on whose welfare our actions can have any

in. fluence. For whoever is thus within our reach, is in the most important sense near to us, however distantin other respects. To'love our neighbour;" is to bear him good-will; which of course will dispose us to think favourably of him, and behave properly to him. And to “ love him as ourselves,” is to have, not only a real, but a strong and active good-will towards him; with a tenderness for his interests, duly proportioned to that, which we naturally feel for our own Such a temper would most powerfully restrain us from every thing wrong, and prompt us to every thing right; and

(2) Heb. iv. 3, 9.

ll, Rom. xiii. 9.

66 All

therefore is “ the fulfilling of the law,"2 so far as it relates to our mutual behaviour.

But because, on some occasions, we may either not see, or not confess we see, what is right, and what otherwise ; our Saviour hath put the same duty in a light somewhat different, which gives the safest, and fullest, and clearest direction for practice, that any one precept can give. " things whatsoever ye would that men should do “ unto you, even so do ye unto them.”3 Behaving properly depends on judging truly, and that, in cases of any doubt, depends on hearing with due attention both sides. "To our own side we never fail attending. The rule therefore is, give the other side the same advantage, by supposing it your own; and after considering carefully and fairly, what, if it were indeed your own, you should not only desire (for desires may be unreasonable) but think you had an equitable claim to, and well-grounded expectation of, from the other party, that do in regard to him. Would we but honestly take this method, our mistakes would be so exceedingly few, and slight, and innocent, that well might our blessed Lord add, “ For this is " the Law and the Prophets."

Yet, after all, there might be difficulty sometimes, especially to some persons, in the application of a rule so very general. And therefore we have, in the Commandments, the reciprocal duties of man to man branched out into six particulars; the first of which, contained in the fifth Commandment, relates to the mutual obligations of superiors and inferiors; the rest to those points in which all men are considered as equals.

It is true, the precept now to be explained, mentions only one kind of superiors. "" shalt honour thy father and thy mother.” But

66 Thou

(2) Rom. xiii. 10.

(3) Matt. vii. 12.

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