Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

seems to prevail without sufficient proof; nor does any evidence remain in fcripture, (of what, however, is not improbable) that the first day of the week was thus distinguished in commemoration of our Lord's resurrection.

The conclusion from the whole inquiry (for it is our business to follow the arguments to whatever probability they conduct us) is this: the assembling upon the first day of the week for the purpose of public worship and religious instruction is a law of Christianity, of divine appointment; the resting on that day from our employments longer than we are detained from them by attendance upon these assemblies, is to Christians, an ordinance of human institution; binding nevertheless upon the conscience of every individual of a country in which a weekly fabbath is established, for the sake of the beneficial purposes which the public and regular obfervation of it promotes; and recommended perhaps in some degree to the divine approbation, by the resemblance it bears to what God was pleased to make a solemn part of the law which he delivered to the people of Israel, and by its subserviency to many of the fame uses.




CINCE the obligation upon Christians, to

comply with the religious observation of Sunday, arises from the public uses of the institution, and the authority of the apostolic practice, the manner of observing it ought to be that, which best fulfils these uses, and conforms the nearest to this practice.

The uses proposed by the institution are, · 1. To facilitate attendance upon public worship

2. To meliorate the condition of the laborious classes of mankind, by regular and seasonable returns of rest.

3. By a general fuspension of business and amusement, to invite and enable persons of every description, to apply their time and thoughts, to subjects appertaining to their falvation.

[ocr errors]

With the primitive Christians the peculiar, and probably for some time the only distinction of the first day of the week, was the holding of religious assemblies upon that day. We learn, however, from the testimony of a very early writer amongst them, that they also reserved the day for religious meditations. Unusquisque noftrum, faith Irenæus, fabbatizat spiritualiter, men ditatione legis gaudens, opificium Dei admirans.

WHEREFORE the duty of the day is violated;

ist. By all such employments or engagements, as (though differing from our ordinary occupation) hinder our attendance upon public worship, or take up so much of our time, as not to leave a sufficient part of the day at leisure for religious reflection ; as the going of journeys, the paying or receiving of visits which engage the whole day, or employing the time at home in writing letters, settling accounts, or in applying ourselves to studies, or the reading of books, which bear no relation to the business of religion.

2dly. By unnecessary encroachments upon the rest and liberty which Sunday ought to bring to the inferior orders of the community; as by keeping servants on that day confined and busied


in preparations for the superfluous 'elegancies of our table, or dress.

3dly. By such recreations as are customarily forborne out of respect to the day; as hunting, shooting, fishing, public diversions, frequenting taverns, playing at cards or dice..

If it be asked, as it often has been, wherein consists the difference between walking out with your staff, or with your gun? between spending the evening at home, or in a tavern? between passing the Sunday afternoon at a game of cards, or in conversation not more edifying, nor always so inoffensive ?-To these, and to the fame question, under a variety of forms, and in a multitude of similar examples, we return the following answer :--That the religious observation of Sunday, if it ought to be retained at all, must be upheld by some public and visible distinctions—that draw the line of distinction where you will, many actions which are situated on the confines of the line, will differ very little, and yet lie on opposite sides of it—that every trespass upon that reserve, which public decency has established, breaks down the fence, by which the day is feparated to the service of religion—that it is unsafe to trifle with scruples and

habits that have a beneficial tendency, although founded merely in custom-that these liberties, however intended, will certainly be considered by those who observe them, not only as difrefpectful to the day and institution, but as proceeding from a secret contempt of the Christian faith-that consequently they diminish a reverence for religion in others, so far as the authority of our opinion, or the efficacy of our example reaches; or rather, so far as either will serve for an excuse of negligence to those who are glad of any—that as to cards and dice, which put in their claim to be considered amongst the harmless occupations of a vacant hour, it may be observed, that few find any difficulty in refraining from play on Sunday, except they who sit down to it, with the views and eagerness of gamesters;—that gaming is feldom innocent-that the anxiety and perturbations, however, which it excites, are inconsistent with the tranquillity and frame of temper, in which the duties and thoughts of religion should always both find, and leave us—and lastly, we shall remark, that the example of other countries, where the same or greater licence is allowed, affords no apology for irregularities in our own;


« AnteriorContinuar »