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became the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's day, we will rejoice and be glad in it.
But besides employing the hours appropriated for public worship in its necessary and important duties, a just proportion of the time that remains must be devoted to the private duties of religion. Hence I observe,
3. That the Sabbath was made for man as a day of retirement and meditation.
To convince you of the necessity of religious retirement, I might insist on the right which God has to require that we consecrate to him alone that part of our time which he demands for his own more immediate worship: that, as he has endowed us with the faculty of thought, our thoughts should rise to him as the noblest and the most perfect object which they can possibly contemplate. It is true that this is done in public worship. But does not God require, does he not merit, something more than this? How is it that we conduct ourselves towards a friend, a benefactor, a person whom we sincerely esteem and love? Do we value his society only when we are in company with those who know, and esteem and love him as we ourselves do? Does not his image follow us, as it were, in solitude ? Is it not there that we trace in the most lively colours the portrait of his virtues and endearing qualities ? Is it not there that, when he is at a distance from us, we transport ourselves in imagination to the place where he is, and converse with him through the medium of written language, when oral communication is no longer enjoyed ? A conduct the reverse of this towards our heavenly Friend and Benefactor; our refusing to retire from the world that we may think of him, and hold communion with him in prayer and in meditating on what he says to us in his holy word, must be regarded as indicating a mind alienated from God, and at enmity with him.
Religious retirement is therefore an essential part of the worship which we owe to the Supreme Being. And it is in consequence of the neglect of it, that the children of this world, though wise in their generation, are destitute of that wisdom which cometh from above, and remain in a state of insensibility in regard to their condition and character in the sight of God. It is not in the midst of the vain and frivolous amusements, the anxious cares and pursuits of the world, that the voice of religion is listened to. It is in solitude, when we are surrounded as it were with the splendors of the Divine omniscience, when we perceive that the inmost recesses of our hearts are naked and open to the eye of that God with whom we have to do; it is then that we are led to search and try our ways, to commune with our own hearts, to read the word of God, to meditate on his perfections, to admire his works, to feel grateful for his mercies, especially the transcendent mercies of redeeming love, which the Christian Sabbath naturally presents to our thoughts. In proportion to the degree in which it is thus improved, it prepares and qualifies us for the more exalted contemplations and enjoyments of the heavenly state.
- 4. In the fourth and last place, The Sabbath was made for man as a day of domestic religious instruction. Citi i
To you who are parents, this day of sacred rest is peculiarly interesting and important. The education by which your children are preparing for some useful profession or employment, is interrupted on the Sabbath, that they may be instructed in that wisdom which will remain when human learning, and all the arts and ornaments of life, will disappear. And, as the task of rearing the tender mind is of all others the most delightful, so the day on which you have most leisure to enjoy the society of your children should be distinguished by peculiar marks of paternal kindness. Guard against unbecoming levities on the one hand, and unnecessary severity and restraint on the other ; and endeavour to convey your instructions in that affectionate manner which wins the heart. If, along with their usual catéchetical exercises, your children are introduced into a gradual acquaintance with the scriptures ; if the most striking passages are first selected such as, the history of the creation; the happiness of Adam in paradise, his disobedience to the divine command, and its unhappy consequences; the wickedness of Cain in slaying his righteous brother, and the terror which seized his guilty soul, when he cried out that his punishment was greater than he could bear; the exemplary conduct and piety of Enoch,and his translation to heaven in so glorious a manner; the righteousness of Noah, who was eminently good when the you thus
world was extremely wicked ; the remarkable
preservation of Lot from the destruction of Sodom; the history of Joseph, and the wonderful interpositions of Providence in his behalf;--if such passages as these from the Old Testament, and the most interesting narratives of the gospel history, are first selected, and suitable reflections drawn from them, the important duty of family instruction may be rendered a pleasant as well as profitable exercise. By this means your children will be initiated in the most important doctrines and duties of religion: for these are contained in the facts which make them acquainted with, or arise out of them so naturally, that many of them will occur to themselves, and afford you a convincing evidence that there is nothing which children are sooner able to understand than the first principles of religion. But if their minds be left uncultivated and unimpressed with these for any considerable time, though nothing else should find entrance, vice certainly will, and it will spring up the faster as the soil is already prepared for its reception, and there is nothing to check its growth or impede its progress.
Before we conclude, it may be proper to advert to an objection which we have frequently heard urged against our church catechism--that it contains many things above the comprehension of children. That it does so cannot be denied. The objection, however, is not peculiar to the study of sacred things. A person very intelligent in other matters, though rather deficient in classical learn
ing, once very gravely assured me, that the grammar of the Latin language commonly taught in our schools, is a book far beyond the comprehension of youth; and that some other method should be adopted in teaching that language, than that of loading their memories with a number of rules and technical terms which it was impossible for them to understand. Those, on the contrary, who have attained to any degree of eminence in the study of that useful language, while they readily admit that the elementary books which were put into their hands when at school were to them not very intelligible when they were obliged to commit them to memory, are now fully sensible that the progress they have made is chiefly owing to the grammatical rudiments which they were then incapable of comprehending. It is thus with many of the
questions of the catechism. They contain truths which, as the powers of the mind expand, and the understanding becomes more enlightened, will be found of essential importance, and will be reflected on with growing admiration, and with increasing conviction and delight.
On this subject I shall take the liberty of quoting the following eloquent and apposite passage from a periodical publication conducted with great ability, though not always equally friendly to revelation.“ The sublimest truths, and the profoundest mysteries of religion, are as level, perhaps, to the capacities of the meanest, as of the highest human intellect. By neither are they to be fully fathomed. By both they may be easily believed,