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DIALOGUE ON THE OBSERVANCE OF THE
A FEW Sunday mornings ago, my neighbour Mr. Atkins heard a gentle knock at the street door, and he opened it himself.
I have brought the sugar, Sir, said the grocer.
And pray, who ordered the sugar? said Mr. A. I thought it was understood, that, at this house, nothing was to be taken in on a Sunday morning. Why, of all other times, should this have been ordered on the Sunday?
Grocer. It was the new maid that ordered it, Sir, for herself: and I suppose she did not know the rules of the house.
Mr. A. But pray, Mr. Watts, may I ask why you sell things, and bring them out on a Sunday? Are there not six days in the week to attend to such matters? Is not" Sunday a' day set apart expressly as a day of rest from worldly cares, and as a day to be devoted to religious purposes?
Grocer. Very true, Sir, I wish we could make it so.
Mr. A. And pray why cannot you? Why cannot Sunday be a day sacred to religious rest and worship? Instead of seeing you in a dress fit to attend your church, I see your apron on, and every thing about you appearing exactly as if it were a weekday. You know, as well as I do, that things ought not to be so.
Grocer. Why it is very true, Sir.
Mr. A. But wby then, if you know what is right, do yon go on in what is wrong? You have a family, Mr. Watts, and therefore the consequences of your conduct do not remain wholly with yourself. Now the greatest blessing that can belong to any man is to be a Christian, and the greatest privilege is to be able to train up others, in the saṁe way.
But what must your children think of a Christian Sabbath, when they see their own father despising it?--and if they have no reverence for the Lord's day, how can you expect that they should have any regard for His religion.
Grocer. Why all that is very true, Sir.
Mr. A. Yes, you know it is true, and you content yourself with acknowledging that: but I see no disposition in you to act up to your knowledge.
Grocer. Why, I believe, Sir, I am no worse than my neighbours.
Mr. A. Why really, Mr. Watts, I am ashamed of you for using so foolish an argument. If your , neighbours do wrong, is that any reason why you should ? It is indeed too true, that many persons are very negligent of the Sabbath, and then, as I have said, their children are brought up to be as negligent as their parents, and the children's children will probably be the same; so that one Sabbath breaker may be the cause of sin to many generations. I cannot conceive any thought more truly awful.
Grocer. Why Sir, you say very right. I am sure, Sir, I should be glad to give it up if my neighbours would.
Mr. A. Neighbours again. Then your religion is to depend on that of your neighbours! You would be afraid of being at all better than they. Now perhaps they may reason the same way, and they might be willing to give up their bad practices if you would your's; so that you see you may be leading your neighbours into sin as well as practising it yourself.
Grocer. I should be glad to shut up the shop on a Sunday morning if other people would. But if I give up, and they go on, they get all the gain and only laugh at me.
Mr. Å. There is no disgrace in being laughed at for doing what is right; and, as to gain, if the .
thought of gain tempts you to do what you know to be wrong, I may truly ask you that scriptural question, " What is a man profited if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" It is the thirst for gain that makes the robber, the highwayman,
and the house-breaker.
Grocer. Dear Sir, I am sure I would not ever think of being guilty of such crimes as these.
Mr. A. I trust not. But still, mark me, if the wrong principle is within, it will break out in some shape. The thirst for money tempts some men to rob their neighbours. The very same principle has tempted you to rob your Maker of that time which he has appointed for Himself.
Grocer. Why, Sir, it is not so much for the sake of gain that we do these things as for the sake of accommodation. Our customers send to us, and we wish to oblige them we should be sorry to offend them.
Mr. A. Yes, I am very sorry that there should be any persons who do send to shops on a Sunday. However, if they were to know that you made a positive rule never to open the shop on the Sabbath day, they would contrive to send on another day.
Grocer. Why, Sir, many poor people are not paid their week's wages 'till late on Saturday night, and so cannot come 'till Sunday morning: and many rich people besides will send their servants on a Sunday morning to provide for their company at dinner.
Mr. A. I think it a bad way to pay workmen their wages late on Saturday night. However, if a workman is any thing of a manager, he will generally have a little money before hand so that he need not be driven to the last moment to provide for his family; and I am sure if he is a religous man he will not go to the shop on the Sunday, and as to what you call the rich people, they might supply themselves just as well at any other time as on the Sun
day; and they would, if they knew that the shop was always sbutup on the Sunday; but religious families do not send to you on the Sunday.-you know it. The truth is, that buyers and sellers, whether rich or poor, if they are religious people, will keep the Sabbath holy: if they are not religious people, they will care nothing about it. . There are many families, you know very well, in this place, who would not think of sending to a shop on a Sunday: and you know too, that there are many shop-keepers who would on no account open their shops, but who are always ready in time, and all dressed and in order to go to church.
Grocer. Wby yes, Sir, there are, to be sure, many such people, but it is not this alone that will do. Many a person will go to church on a Sunday, and yet be a long way from an honest man the rest of the week. Keeping the Sabbath is not all.
Mr. A. You are right there, Watts. If a man thinks that keeping the Sunday strictly will make him a Christian, wbilst he has no Christian heart and mind within him, he is in a very dangerous error. But, at the same time, I do say, that, in my opinion, the proper observance of the Sabbath has so much to do with bringing about the knowledge and the increase of religion, that every man who sees the importance of religion will do all he can to uphold and encourage the religious keeping of the Lord's day.
Grocer. Why, Sir, I believe it is very true.
Mr. A. Why the Sabbath is appointed by the Almighty himself, and Christians will therefore see that they must observe it; it is moreover their delight. But those who are not, by God's grace, influenced by a Christian feeling on this point must not be allowed to disturb that day of rest wbich God has appointed for the good of his people. It is on that account that the laws of our country re- quire this day to be kept holy. Are you aware that
for keeping your shop open on Sunday, you might be made to pay a considerable penalty?
Grocer. Why, yes. Sir, I have beard that many people have lately been made to pay it, but nobody has been informed against, bereabouts.
Mr. A. And that is the reason why we see such negligence of the Sabbath hereabouts. Now I should wish to see you leave off these practices from a sense of Christian duty: if you did it merely from fear of punishment, there would be but little good done to yourself; I therefore really hope that you will think of this matter in a religious view, and keep the Sabbath for conscience sake, and not wait 'till the laws of the land compel you.
Grocer. Why I hope, Sir, there are none of those informers bereabouts ; I think they are the worst of all people.
Mr. A. If a man does right, he need stand in no fear of informers ; but if a man does wrong, he naturally dreads to be discovered, and it is a very convenient plan to try to put down informers by raising a cry against them. If an informer has no regard for what is good, but would be glad to see others doing wrong that he might get money by in. forming against them, I think bim a very despicable character: but if a man upholds the laws by seeking to encourage what is good, and to put down what is bad, I think such a man a truly useful member of society, and one who deserves the thanks of every honest man. And I can tell you, that I for one, shall exert myself to the utmost, and I hope my neighbours will do the same, to put down such practices as are contrary to the laws of the country, and injurious to the cause of religion and good morals.
Grocer. I hope, Sir, you will not inform against me, and bring me into expense and disgrace.
Mr. A. I see you dread the expense, and you are afraid of the disgrace of being informed against. You do not seem to dread the crime of offending