Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

Ans. They are thofe whi h we are bound to perform in the public offemblies of God's people : and indeed the Sabbath is institute chiefly for the solemn performance of the duties of God's worship, in the public meetings, of his people : for the Lord hath a fpecial de light therein ;," he loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob;, and wherever two or three arç gathered in his name, he will be in the midit of them." Why? It is in the assemblies of God's people for publiç worship, that God receiveth the highest praises from us; and hence the Psalmist saith, "I will give thee thanks in the great congregation : I will praise thee de mong much people. And in his temple doth every one. speak of his glory," Psal. xxxv. 18. Pfal. xxix. g. And as in public worship God receiveth the highest praises, so there it is he bestoweth the richest mercies, Pfal. Ixv. 4 “Blessed is the man whom thou chuseft, and caufeft to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts; we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house," &c. O what good things are, contained in that word, the “ goodnelor of thy house !" there is pardon, peace, love, grace, life, light, strength, comfort, &c. Now, the public duties of the Sabbath, recorded in fcripture, which God's people ought to meet and afsemble that day for, are various; and particularly, they are to meek together for reading and expounding the word of God; for preaching, hearing, praying, prailing, para taking of the sacraments, collecting for the poor, &c. for all which we may fee Lev. xxiii. 3. Psalm xçiloy Isa. Ixvi. 23. Luke iv. 16. Acts xiii. 14. 15. 27. 44* xv. 21. xvi. 13. xx. 7. 1. Cor. xvi. 12. But particu. larly,

1. Hearing the word publicly read and preached with reverence and attention, is a principal duty on the Sabbach; nay, our life depends upon it, Diut. xxxii. 40. 47. It is the great mean God hath appointed for the conversion of souls, Rom. X. 14 17. Whatever: men think of it, it is the powerful instrument of our s salvation, Rom. i. 16. The waters of the sanctuary run: only through the channels of the word; the mines of grace are found only in these climates where the gof

- pelo

pel fun thines. The Lord, if he pleased, could imme. diately, by his Spirit, break open finners hearts ; but he hath determined to honour his word in this work, as is plain in Lydia's cafe, Acts xvi 9. 10. 14. Reading the word and fermons at home is good; but hearing the word preached is the ordinary mean God hath appointe ed and promised to bless for conversion And if this be fighted, or prove ineffectual, no other way can be contrived for it, as we are told, Luke xvi. 29. 31.' So that though a glorified saint or angel should come down from heaven, and preach upon the beauty of Christ, and glory of heaven, in the most lively and demonstrative manner; yet, if a preached gospel do not perfuade finners, neither would that. Or, though a damned soul should come up from hell, and preach the evil of fin, and torments of hell, in the moft pathetic manner; yer nestker would that persuade, if the word do it not, Why, the one is God's'instituted mean, the other not. Let us then have an high efteem of God's ordinance, and embrace all occasions for attending it. ." Be swift to hear, Pam. 1. ty. Let none dare to count that mean, weak, or despicable, which the wise God hath initituta ed to fave fouls, 1 Cor. i. 21. “ It pleased God, by the foolihness of preaching, to fave them that believe." Andrhow comes believing bur by hearing ? Reading good fermons (as one fays) is like milk cold out of the difh, but preaching is like milk warm from the breast, which is far more nourishing to the child. Let us always, then, as " new born babes, defire this milk, that We may both live and grow thereby," , Pet. ii. 2.

II. Another of the public duties of the Sabbath is public prayers with the congregation.

Prayer is a principal part of God's worship, and therefore is frequently put for the whole, Zech. viii. 21. 22. Acts xvi. 23. Hence God's temple of old was called the houfe of prayer. Public prayer is most necessary for averting judgments, obtaining bleslings, and preserving love and unity among Chriftians; alo. lo it is a folemn owning the God whom we serve in the face of the world, and so highly glorifies God. The bountiful Lord is well pleased to see many beg.

[ocr errors]

ve and born


[ocr errors]

gars thronging at the beautiful gate of his temple, wait. ing for an alms from his hand. And their joint pray. ers are most prevalent with him, far more than private prayers : for a petition presented by a single subject, is not so prevalent as that which is made by a whole city, Peter is cast in prison to be executech Ads xü. but the church meets and pravs him out of his enemies hands. The united prayers of the church are most powerful to procure God's blefiling and presence; therefore, reader, ke that you make conscience in joining therewith, and be not absent from them. It is a molt graceless practice in some, they either come not into the church till the public prayers be over, or they go out after sermon before public prayers be made. I am sure, fuch can expect nething by the fermon but a curse, since they join not with the prayers for a blessing upon it to them, selves or others.

III. Duty is the singing of psalms, and praising God with the congregation. Praising God by singing, is often enjoined in scripture ; yea, no less than four times in one verse, Psal. xlvii. 6. It is comely for the peo- : ple of God; they are called finging birds, Cant. ii. 10. They are such as should fing all the months of the year; yea, even in the dead month of affliction : So did Paul . and Silas in a prison at midnight, when their backs were sore with scourges, and their feet faft in the stocks, Aets xvi. 25. But in a fpecial manner, finging praises to God is our duty in public assemblies; Plal. cxlix. 1. Luke xxiv. 53. And in these, “ both princes and people, young men and maidens, old men and children,” are bound to act a part in this heavenly con. cert, Psal. cxlviii. lI. 12. 13. And, above all days, the Sabbath is most proper for this duty, Psal. xcii. title, Psal. cxviii. 24. It is a day of thanksgiving and holy joy: We have God's praises to celebrate for the wonders of creation and redemption, we have the glorious victories of the Captain of our salvation to exto! and magnify; and therefore the duty of singing praise this day is highly necessary. By this duty we not only glorify God, but we edify one another, Col. ii. 16. The melody and conjunction of many serious souls,


tend to raise and elevate the heart. Yea, it was one mean of Auguftine's converfion; he fays,-“ He wept when he heard the psalms sung by the church." * Singing is a reading with meditation, and gives free vent to the thoughts and affections, and helps to excite änd actuate the graces ; it is the breath or flame of love or joy; it is the eternal work of heaven, the music of faints and angels there, Rev. v. 9. 10. 11. XV. 3. And what are church-assemblies here, but the place of our apprenticeship and preparation for heaven? I know nothing in the world that more resembles heaven, than a company of God's people harmoniously singing his praises ". with grace in their hearts, making melody to the Lord;" for then the soul rejoiceth in divine goodness, meditates on divine promises, extols divine excellencies, and mounts up to God in acts of faith and love. Let us then make conscience of this hea. venly duty in the public assemblies, and perform it with heart and tongue; for were it not a rare exercise, God would not honour it to be the only work of heaven, to the exclusion of prayer, repentance, reading, hearing, communicating, &c. :

IV. Partaking of the facraments is another public duty of the Sabbath. ** 1. The first day of the week, our Christian Sabbath, is the proper day for celebrating the memorial of redeeming love in the Lord's fupper, Acts xx. 7. This was the ordinary practice of the primitive Christians in ancient times': and, because of their constant breaking of bread on this first day of the week, it wont to be called dies panis, August. Epift. 118. So fired were the hearts of Christians in those early times with love to and zeal for their glorious Redeemer, who had fo lately poured out his blood for their redemption, that when they afsembled together upon the first day of the week, the day he had instituted for his honour, they could not think of parting, until, by the breaking of 'bread according to his example, they had celebrated the memorial of his dying love, his atoning blood, his victorious resurrection and triumphant return; which also they designed as a pledge of their mutual love to


and communion with one another. And though these firft Christians were animated with more life and love, and were habitually in a better frame for partaking of this love feast, than, alas, we now are ; yet we must own, that we are under the same obligations of love and gratitude to our dying Redeemer, and have the fame need of the frequent application of his blood, and of a confirmed interest in his death, that they had; and consequently ought to dedicate many more Lord's days to the celebration of this memorial feast of his supper, than now we do: Especially seeing the partake ing of this ordinance is the proper work of the Lord's day, and one special design of the inftitution of this holy day.

2. Baptism is most proper on this day: The day is holy, and the sacrament is boly. Children fhould be brought to the congregation, and baptized in face thereof; for, since baptism is the door to Chrift's house, it is 6t to be entered when the family is convened, or the church assembled, that fo the receiving of new members thereinto may be homologate by them; that the parents engagements may have the more witnesses to them, and the children have more prayers' put up for them; and also, that the whole congregation may be edified by this folemn ordinance, and excited to remember and improve their own baptisms. Of which afterward.

As to the feasting part of this folemnity, I do not think it proper on the Lord's day: This may well be delayed till the day after.

V. Making public collections for the poor, is a proper duty on this day, 1 Cor. xvi. 1. 2. This day being instituted to keep up the memorial of Christ's infinite charity to mankind, and for our meeting to receive new blessings and mercies from him, we are, in gratitude, bound on this occasion to be liberal to his poor : This doth not wrong, but promote our Sabbath-day's frame. Let no Christian chen neglect his duty, which is so plainly commanded by Christ, and has been practised by the Christian church for near these two thousand years.

· Think

« AnteriorContinuar »