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I respect the motives of such ministers; but are they not altogether wrong in their judgment? Will the neglect, or timid avoidance of such a subject as that of the Sabbath, tend to promote the conversion of sinners, and insure the permanent prosperity of religion ? Will the discussion of its claims, or the enforcement of its duties, lead men to forget God, and their own souls? Will it abate the Christian's love to his Saviour, chill the fervor of his devotions, or quench the ardor of his zeal for the salvation of those who are perishing in sin? Will it banish conviction from the awakened sinner, and make him cease from his anxious inquiries after the one thing needful? Will it tend to lull the careless into still deeper slumbers, and sear their conscience against all the applications of divine truth?
I might answer these questions by relating instances in which the discussion of this subject has been the means of hopefully converting the Sabbath-breaker to God, and even of commencing revirals of religion; but a very little reflection must be sufficient to show the importance of urging the claims of the Sabbath as a test of character and an instrument of conviction.
The grand point at issue between impenitent sinners and their Maker, is, whether he shall reign as sovereign over all his creatures; and it is not material what truth or duty is employed to show them how unwilling they are to bow in filial submission to his authority. Men are convicted of sin, however, not by vague and barren generalities, but by some specific charge brought home to their own case with a particularity from which conscience can
What extorted from David the confessions found in the fifty-first Psalm? The memory of a particular transgression. What made Peter weep so bitterly? The denial of his Master; and surely that alone was enough to fill and engross his whole soul. How came three thousand on the day of Pentecost to be pricked in their hearts ?-By a shower of arrows thrown at random? No; but by the specific, tremendous charge, so powerfully enforced upon their consciences by Peter, of having crucified the Lord of life and glory.
Now the Sabbath is one of the most specific and efficacious tests we can employ, to try a man's loyalty to God. Convict him here, and you prepare the way for thorough conviction respecting all his other transgressions. Settle this point in his controversy with God, and you settle the whole controversy forever. The Gordian knot is cut at a blow. The principle of rebellion is given up, and the rebel transformed into a loyal and obedient subject. The great fountain of godly sorrow, of holy obedience, is opened; and its pure, life-giving waters will gush forth, and flow on forever.
Will the discussion of such a subject divert the minds of men from the vitalities of religion ?— The Sabbath not connected with the cause of Christ ! It is the sheet-anchor of its safety; the main-spring in every system of means employed for the salvation
of mankind.—The Sabbath interfere with revivals! Blot out the Sabbath, and not another revival would ever visit our world. Spread through the community an increased attention to this sacred day, and you promote, in the same degree, the prosperity of pure and undefiled religion. It is the great channel through which God has been pouring upon our land such copious streams of divine influence; and, unless the Sabbath is rescued from its growing profanations, these seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, will ere long cease, and leave us, like the exiles in Babylon, to hang our harps on the willow, and mourn over those desolations of Zion, which must inevitably follow the general neglect of this holy day.—The Sabbath neutralize the influence of divine truth on the sinner's conscience! It is the grand medium through which the Gospel brings its truths, and motives, and means of grace, to operate on his mind. It applies a touch-stone to his heart. It holds a mirror up to his whole character. It is a burning glass that collects the rays of divine truth into a point, and pours their concentrated light and heat upon his conscience.
- The Sabbath retard the Christian's progress ! What would he do without a Sabbath? Would he grow in grace himself, or promote the spiritual improvement of his brethren, or do much for the conversion of sinners around him, or for the spread of the Gospel through the world ?—Does the Sabbath furnish no test of the Christian's character ? Enforce its high authority; urge its broad and strict demands; explain its holy duties; reprove its multifarious violations; and would you not apply a searching test to our churches? Would you not disturb the conscience of many a baptized Sabbath-breaker ? Thoroughly reform the professed disciples of Christ on this point; and would you not prepare the way for such a general, powerful, and lasting revival of religion, as the world has never yet witnessed ?
No subject, perhaps, is better calculated than the Sabbath to elicit the latent rebellion of the human heart against the authority of God. Depravity generally attempts either to reject the Bible as a revelation from heaven, or to explain away its offensive truths, or to disregard its commands, and brave the wrath of Jehovah. We may observe a similar development and progress on the subject of the Sabbath. Many try hard to prove it a human institution, binding on no man's conscience; others would fain consider it a mere holiday of rest and recreation, a season appropriated, by a God of spotless purity, to sensual indulgencies; while others, unable to deny its divine origin and authority, yet resist its claims, and set at defiance the fearful and everlasting sanctions of its Almighty Lawgiver.
Here is the rebel unmasked. But shall we connive at his ingenious evasions, or bold resistance of divine authority? not rather press upon him the claims of the Sabbath as a test of his character in the sight of God, and a means of bringing him to a just sense of his sins? Is his conscience seared and insensible?
No; his efforts at evasion and resistance, prove him conscious of his guilt, and aware of his danger.
Can his conscience sleep? What! sleep under the roll of those thunders which proclaimed of old the law of the Sabbath from Sinai quaking beneath the terrors of an incumbent God ? Had he committed theft, or murder, every week of his life, could his conscience sleep? But the Sabbath-breaker is as truly an offender against the Lord of the Sabbath, as if he had every week imbrued his hands in human blood. Is his conscience then asleep? Alas! it cannot always sleep. The trumpet of the last day will wake it up, to sleep no more forever, and call the habitual transgressor of the Fourth Conımand to an account as strict as that of the sinner who has disobeyed any other precept of the Bible.—Let the preacher then urge the specific charge of violating God's day of holy rest; and will he not be likely to rouse the Sabbath-breaker's conscience, and impress him with such a sense of his guilt as may lead hiin, penitent and believing, to “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world ?
Here is the particularity which ministers of the Gospel should ever use in order to convict their hearers. Conviction commences with a view of some particular sin; and the preacher, if he would awaken remorse in my bosom, must lay come specific charge at the door of my conscience. His abstract dissertations on the totality of human sinfulness, I cannot apply to my own case very easily, if at all; but let him charge me with habitual forgetfulness of God, with utter ingratitude for his favors, or daily neglect of prayer; and there is a speciality in the charge that brings it home to my heart with concentrated and irresistible power. He does not leave me afloat on a sea of generalities; he chains me to a particular thing, and forces me, whether I will or not, to make a personal application. He does not merely brandish a sword with its scabbard on, or with silk wound around the point. No; he wields it naked, and aims his blow at me in particular. Such a preacher, like the old Romans, puts the grappling-irons upon me, and forces
my heart into close contact with the truths of the Gospel. So Peter preached; so Paul preached; so our Saviour himself preached; and he that would "turn many to righteousness," must “go, and do likewise."
1. The Auto-biography of Thomas Shepard, the celebrated Minister of Cambridge, N. E. With additional notices af his life and character. By NEHEMIAH Adams, Pastor of the First Church in connexion with the Shepard Society, Cambridge. Boston: Peirce & Parker. 1832. pp. 129.
of this little work, we hope soon to present our readers with a review. Without stopping, therefore, to notice in particular its contents, we shall only sag in general here, that a fairer specimen of the genuine spirit of the Pil. grims, has rarely if ever been given to the public, since the days in which the Pilgrims lived; and every lover of that spirit, not to say every lover of antiquity, whatever he may be in other respects, will find a rich treat in the perusal of this ancestral relic.
2. opóvapece TĀ TIveúuctos; or, the Grace and Duty of being Spi ritually Minded, declared and practicilly improred. By Joux OWEN, D. D. Abridged, by EBENEZER PORTER, D Ď. President of the Theological Seminary, Andover. Boston : Peirce & Parker. 1833. pp. 211.
This work has always been valuable in its original dress, but will be found to be doubly so, as now abridged by Dr. Porter. It deserves to be possessed, and used habitually as a closet manual, by every one who would entertain a good hope through grace, or grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. No one can read it and not feel sisted and effectually tried. We hope it may have a wide and rapid circulation.
3. Researches of the Rev. E. Smith and Rev. H. G. 0. Dwight in Armenia, including a journey through Asia Minor, and into Georgia and Persia, with a Tisit to the Nestorian and Chaldean Christians of Oorminh and Salmas, in two columes. By Eli Suith, Missionary of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. Boston : Crocker & Brewster. New York : Jonathan Leavitt.
The publication of these volumes, affords another proof, that missionaries are not, as some enemies of missions have sometimes represented, uneducated, bigoted enthusiasts, but enlightened, enterprising, liberal philanthropists. Messrs. Smith and Dwight are not the first missionaries who have conferred a favor on the intelligent reading part of the community, by adding to the general stock of information respecting different portions of the human family; but none perhaps have brought to view a portion more interesting, or, in this country, less known. On this account, particularly, most readers will find much in these researches to interest and instruct them. The authorship devolved on Mr. Smith, but in other respects, both may be considered responsible for the work. Great attention has manifestly been paid to accuracy and precision, both in collecting and presenting information, and the reader may rely with confidence on the ews and statements with which he is presented. The volumes contain between 300 and 400 pages each, in large duodecimo; and accompanying them is a Map prepared by Mr. Smith, which presents a view of the route pursued in the journey and the principal places visited.
4. The Gospel defended against Infidels. A Sermon preached in Holliston, Mass., October 31, 1832, at the Installation of the Rev. Elijah Demond. By J. H. FAIRCHILD, Pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Church in South Boston. Boston: Peirce & Parker. 1833. pp. 31.
The text on which this sermon is founded is Philippians i. 17—“ I am set for the defence of the Gospel.” And the preacher's object, as he announces it, is, “ to prove that the gospel is, in fact, what it professes to be, a revelation from God.” Understanding by gospel, the “ s.riptures at large,” arguments in proof of the position, are adduced from the consideration of the purity of their precepts—their sublimity-their harmony—and the doctrines and facts which they contain. These topics comprise the body of the discourse, and are discussed in an easy, popular manner. Some reflections fol. low in view of the discussion ; and to the whole is added an Address by the Rev. Jacob Ide of Medway, in which are inculcated the obligations of a people—to be willing that their minister should do his duty -to attend constantly on his ministry—to receive the gospel which he preaches—to be at peace among themselves—not to demand too much of their minister-and to assist and encourage him in his work.—The address is full of weighty remark and sound practical wisdom, such as it would be well if every Evangelical religious society might not only hear, but faithfully regard and practise.
Under the first head Mr. Ide observes :
“ One of the greatest obstacles to a minister's usefulness at the present day, and one of the greatest trials, which he is called to endure, is an unwillingness on the part of his people, that he should do his duty. Though, in their professions on this subject, every people desire a man of independence and fidelity; yet there are comparatively few, that will cheerfully endure a full developement of these important traits of character. It is one thing for a people to say they desire their minister to be independent and faithful, and another, patiently to hear him “declare all the counsel of God." The very men, who will say all this in general terms, and repeat it as often as they have occasion to speak on the subject, will frequently object to a full exhibition of divine truth, and show strong symptoms of displeasure under the ad-, monitions and reproof' which the word of God administers,
“ It is, brethren, your minister's duty to preach the whole truth, whether you believe it or not, to correct your belief by the word of God, and not to measure the degree of truth which he will deliver, by the boundaries of your belief. He is your instructer-you have chosen him as your instructer, and voluntarily placed yourselves under bis instruction, and here, before God and this great assembly, made him solemnly row, that he will instruct you faithfully. Now we entreat you to be willing, that he should obey the dictates of his conscience. Do not embarrass him, by frowns, or threats, or any other symptoms of displeasure ; but encourage him always to speak freely all that God has put into his heart. Remember that it is truth, and nothing but truth, that can do you good. And if any of you are in an unrenewed state, as doubtless many of you are, it is painful, disagreeable truths only which can be the means of improving your condition. To refuse to hear what is painful to reflect upon, and disagreeable to your unholy feelings, is