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´╗┐Title: The Sabbath At Home
Author: Andrews, Silas M.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Sabbath At Home" ***

book was produced from scanned images of public domain

Transcriber's note:

Italics is represented with underscore _ (_italics_) and small caps
with ALL CAPS. The following correction has been made:

p. 9: "members of one famliy" famliy changed to family.

Everything else is retained as printed.



      BY THE



Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1836, by A. W.
MITCHELL, in the office of the Clerk of the District Court for the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.


It is not proposed to dwell, in the following pages, upon the arguments
that might be brought forward to prove that the Sabbath is a Divine
institution, established and sanctified by the Creator on the seventh
day, after all his works were finished, and renewed to Israel on the
descent of the manna. Nor shall I attempt to show, from the Scriptures,
that the Sabbath is a Christian institution, as well as a Jewish
ordinance; or call your attention to the satisfactory reasons we have
for observing, as holy time, the first day of the week, and not the
seventh. No controversy will be maintained with any who object to the
Sabbath as commonly acknowledged by Christians. He who sincerely seeks
for instruction, has no need of such argument; he already believes the
Sabbath is the Lord's, and that it is to be sanctified by a holy
resting all the day.

The design of this Tract is to point out and illustrate the most
profitable manner of spending that part of the Lord's day which is not
employed in the public exercises of Divine worship.

That your family, in each of its members, may profitably spend _the
Sabbath at home_,--

I. By Saturday evening have your worldly business arranged to keep the

Few families pursue their business or trade, the same on the Sabbath as
on any other day. But there are many who do not keep it as a sacred
rest. If they do not plough and sow; if the sound of the anvil and the
saw is not heard in their shops; if they do not, with open doors, buy
and sell, and get gain; there is another species of worldly business to
which they do attend, which, though not so much noticed by others,
properly belongs to the six days in which work may be done.

Such persons may be said to make arrangements, not to _keep_, but to
_profane_ the Sabbath. "This matter need not be attended to now, while
other things press upon us--it may be postponed until Sunday. That
journey must be performed--that plan laid with my neighbour--that
errand accomplished _next Sabbath_, or it will interfere with the
business of the week."

To persons who thus feel, and who can thus act, I do not propose to
address myself; they do not desire information; they have no wish to be
instructed how they may more profitably spend the Sabbath. They would
like best to hear of some new plan of retaining the Christian name,
while they drive on their own trades and find their own pleasures. No
argument would be more pleasing to them than one which might go to
prove that because the Sabbath was made for _man_, therefore man may
use the Sabbath according to his own pleasure. But to you, my readers,
who I trust are desirous of being taught your duty, and are willing to
be exhorted that you may enter upon its performance, I would say, on
Saturday arrange your worldly business to keep the Sabbath. It must not
be forgotten, that this is much more easily done in some families than
in others. It depends upon the number of the household,--upon the
occupation of the different members,--whether they all think alike on
the sanctification of the Sabbath, and are disposed to unite in
bringing their worldly affairs to such an issue, that they may have
_all_ the following day for holy rest. With some, Saturday evening is a
time of more leisure than any other of the week; while with not a few,
it is a time of more hurry and pressure of business,--collecting debts,
paying bills, fulfilling promises of the shop or store, than will again
be encountered until Saturday returns. The cares of the week will press
us, until steadfastly resisted. This resistance ought to be made with
holy resolution, and sufficiently early to secure the Sabbath from
being profaned.

The arrangements of the shop, the labours of the farm, and the business
of the office or counting house, must be closed on Saturday evening, or
in vain we wake early the next morning to enjoy the Sabbath. Did we
look no further than to success in this world's affairs, a maxim of
prudence and economy would be, to bring our plans, as far as possible,
to a close once every week. It promotes order in the transaction of
business. It gives efficiency to our labours. We _finish_ more, which
is the same as saying we _do_ more, than if our business were suffered
to run on without interruption the year round. We must also take into
account the vigour of both body and mind, which an entire day of rest
from care and labour imparts. And who that reads his Bible, will think
it strange for me to say, that the blessing of the Lord is upon him who
sacredly regards the Sabbath? "If thou turn thy foot away from the
Sabbath, [that is, do not impiously trample upon it,] from doing thy
pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of
the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways,
nor finding thine own pleasures, nor speaking thine own words, then
shall thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride
upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of
Jacob thy father, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Isa.
lviii. 13, 14. What was the heritage of Jacob? The favour of God, with
the richest productions of the field, and an increase of every worldly

We may appeal to observation. The influence of the Sabbath upon the
_rich_ is not so easily discerned. But among those, who, in a peculiar
manner, receive day by day their daily bread, it may be seen. And
unless I greatly err, it will be found, that those families who observe
the Sabbath, and attend upon its public and private duties, with desire
to be profited, have, in comparison with those who do not thus regard
the day unto the Lord, more peace of mind, more family comforts, and
are better prepared to meet the demands which every year brings against
them. Can a man rob God and prosper? rob Him, who can withhold our
common blessings, or, as he has threatened, can curse them after given!
Mal. ii. 2. Then, from consideration of both temporal and spiritual
interest, let the Sabbath be regarded as a day of holy rest from the
morning to the evening. And that we may attain to this, let us
previously arrange all that pertains to our respective occupations,
that we may wait upon the Lord without distraction of mind.

Another matter that has an important bearing upon the sanctification of
the Sabbath, you will permit me to mention. Though the institutions of
Moses are not, as a system, binding upon Christians, yet from them we
may often infer what is important in regard to the proper observance of
that which is given us in their stead. Among other commands to Israel
for the profitable keeping of the Sabbath, they were required to
abstain, on the seventh day, from all work, except the preparation of
their necessary food. How this command was to be understood we learn
from Exod. xvi. 23. On the descent of manna, Moses said to the people,
"To-morrow is the rest of the Holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that
which ye will bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that
which remaineth over, lay up for you, to be kept until the morning." I
am not about to say, that no family observes the Christian Sabbath, who
does not fulfil the letter of this command. But may I not safely say,
that the more nearly it is observed, the more profitably the day may be
spent? If our tables are provided for on Saturday; if we bake that
which we must bake, and seethe that we must seethe, and lay them up for
the morrow, will not those members of the family, who attend public
worship, have more time to devote to the reading of the Scriptures, to
meditation, and other duties of Sabbath morning?

What shall we say of those whose lot it may be to remain at home part
of the day? Why, it is commonly answered, that as they have nothing
else to do, they may as well prepare dinner for those at church. But
have they nothing to do? Have they no Bible to read? No Scripture
lessons to prepare for Sabbath School? No Catechism, that may be most
conveniently committed to memory by them when left alone? Is
meditation, and is prayer the duty of those only who are privileged
with attending public worship? Have persons who labour in our families
for hire, no need of one day of rest in seven? If _fasting_, as all
ages and good men of every country have acknowledged, is promotive of
the devotion of the heart, denying the appetite in some small degree
cannot be injurious. And why should it be thought unreasonable that
persons in our employment, and our children, who early notice the
character of our religion, might receive some good impression, as to
the nature of the Sabbath, by seeing us deny ourselves what on other
days is innocent and right? I am not pleading that the Sabbath be made
a day for afflicting our souls, but that we should not permit our
sensual desires to interfere with our spiritual delight. On days of
unusual political interest, we count it no sacrifice to be _deprived_
of a regular meal, or to take of that which comes to hand, because our
delight is elsewhere. Let the same interest be felt in the Sabbath, and
we shall be equally loth to permit that, which might be done on
Saturday, to interfere with our enjoyment and spiritual profit. If each
family would, on the preceding day, prepare, as far as practicable, for
their table on the Sabbath, would not much time be redeemed for the
appropriate duties of the Lord's day?

To mention every thing that might, with advantage, be attended to on
Saturday, bearing upon the Sabbath, would be to recount the events of
each family--they all influence our profiting, though, when viewed
separately, they seem hardly worthy of notice.

I have known the men of more than one family to spend the best part of
Sabbath morning, in making such alterations in their carriage and
harness as were necessary, in order to attend meeting; which changes
might much better have been made the evening before.

In other households you will find the apparel appropriate to the
Sabbath, must be subjected to certain emendations and improvements,
before the family can be prepared for public worship. By this time the
morning is gone, but the Sabbath of holy rest has not yet begun. How
much more profitable, that all which pertains to our persons, "from a
thread to a shoe-latchet," should be set in order before the Sabbath
arrives, that as we have but one holy day in seven, we may enjoy it

A full answer with many, is, "If I do nothing worse than these, I
shall have little cause for alarm;"--to which I will only reply,--This
is not the language of one seeking to be instructed, and desiring to
honour God. It is not the spirit of the fourth commandment, which is,
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour
and do ALL thy work: but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy
God: in it thou shalt not do ANY work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy
daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle,
nor thy stranger that is within thy gates." It is not according to the
example and instruction of our pious fathers, who taught us that "the
Sabbath is to be sanctified, by a holy resting all that day, even from
such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days;
and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of
God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of
necessity and mercy."

II. That you may profitably spend the Sabbath, let all the members of
your family, as far as practicable, be at home on Saturday evening, and
there pass the following day.

This will promote peace of mind, of parents especially. If members of
your household are from home, you know not to what dangers they are
exposed, or into what temptations they may be led. But if they be with
you, under the same roof, this anxiety is in a great degree prevented.

It conduces to the good order of a family, for all its members to be at
home. If the parents are absent, there is danger of the house becoming
a scene of noise and disorder, that does not well comport with the
solemnity of the Sabbath. If there was nothing more to be said in
favour of families never being deprived, on the Lord's day, of their
presiding members, we might reasonably plead, that much evil would be
prevented by the restraint of their presence. But there are not
negative advantages only; there are positive ones also, which shall
soon be mentioned.

In every well ordered family, where industry and economy are found,
there are certain duties assigned, by custom or common consent, to each
member of the household. These are attended to by the persons on whom
they devolve, during the week, much to the facilitating of business,
and the prevention of trouble or confusion. Now if such be found a
measure of expediency during days of labour, we may safely presume upon
its utility when applied to the Sabbath. If it is important to save
moments of _six_ days, it cannot be less desirable to secure the
remnants of _one_ day. But if part of your family are from home on
Sabbath morning, a double portion of necessary duties devolves upon
those who remain; and as the duties they are called to perform in the
place of the absent members, are not their own regular share of
domestic cares, much additional time and attention will be demanded
properly to fulfil them. It requires scarcely a trial, to convince us
that the _whole morning_ may thus be lost, in performing what devolves
upon others; and that when the hour of public worship arrives, the mind
is hardly composed sufficiently to determine whether you can attend
meeting or not.

In addition to the quietness and good order secured by the presence of
the parents or heads of the family on the Sabbath, it is important that
they be at home all the day, that their household may not be left
without family instruction. We all know that the best children need
frequently to be reminded of their books, and encouraged and aided in
their lessons. If the parents are from home, little will probably be
done in the reading of the Scriptures, or learning the Catechism.
Besides, there is great danger that the children will be suffered to
pass without examination, or any systematic instruction in the
doctrines and duties of religion, if the heads of the family are not at
home all the day. For the reason just given, there will be no lessons
for catechising: the parents may very probably be from home at the
stated hour for family instruction: or, when they return, may feel too
much wearied to attend to the duty; so that there is no way of securing
to the children that teaching which they must have, but for the parents
to be at home on the Sabbath.

To secure the same desirable end, it is no less necessary that all the
_children_ spend the day in the bosom of the family. If they are not
present, and put themselves in the way of instruction, they cannot be
taught. For all the family to be at home on the Sabbath, is one of the
best preservatives against temptation. Is it possible for young people
of different households, to associate on the Lord's day, and not be led
into the sin of light and vain conversation? Can the world be shut out
of such company, no matter how strict the injunctions of parents, and
sincere the resolutions of those going from home?

This leads us to speak of another matter, which ought not to be passed
over, because it unavoidably, and to a degree of which many are not
aware, interferes with the profitable sanctification of the Sabbath. I
refer to _Sunday visiting_;--not that which commonly passes under the
name, when several members of one family go and spend the day with
their friends, as they would any afternoon in the week. Surely, none
calling themselves Christians, and acknowledging that we have a
Christian Sabbath at all, can approve of such a manner of spending the
day. Nor is allusion made to visits to the sick, put off from day to
day, that they may be paid without loss of time on the Sabbath,
crowding the room of the patient, and instead of conferring a kindness,
often inflicting an injury of many days' continuance.

The custom to which I refer is different in character from both of
these, but perhaps not less hurtful. It is the _connecting of visits
with an attendance upon public worship_. I should be exceedingly sorry
to wound the feelings of any one, whose age, or distance from meeting,
may render it difficult both to go and return home the same day,
without rest or refreshment. The duty of such is to accept of the
kindness of their friends, either on Saturday night or after sermon on
the Sabbath. Religion requires us to afford such entertainment to those
who labour under disadvantages that do not lie upon us. But is it not
very common for Christian families to form their plan for visiting
their friends, not during the week, but on Saturday evening, to
accompany them to meeting in the morning; or to go with them from
public worship and spend the afternoon in their family? How many such
visits are made profitable? In whose family does not the conversation
become worldly and of little worth? In what visiting circle are the
nature of religion, and the experience of the heart, the subjects upon
which all unite profitably to pass the time? The difficulty with us
all, of answering such questions without confusion, ought to lead us to
ask, Is there not something wrong in such visits? When we engage in
them, we are from our families. But home is our place on the Sabbath.
We put ourselves in the way of temptation, before which, repeated
trials have shown that we must fall. The family that receives the visit
is deprived of as much of the Sabbath as we spend with them; for a cold
family dinner, such as best adorns the Sabbath, is altogether out of
character when our friends become guests; and to spend much time in
reading even the Bible, while visitants are sitting by, would be
thought strange indeed. The various conversation, the communicating and
receiving of neighbourhood intelligence, leaves the minds neither of
those who pay, nor of those who receive the visit, in a state properly
to spend the remaining part of the Sabbath. While, therefore, it is
easy to make what we esteem duty a burden, and we may hastily lay down
rules which a few weeks will show us are no aid in religion, but a
Pharisaical hinderance, yet, between this and the opposite extreme, of
making the Sabbath a day of sociability and feasting, there is a wide
field. The difficulty of determining upon duty, lies in this;--Sunday
visits are not wholly wrong; some of them are right; it would be sin
_not_ to visit the sick and dying. How then shall we determine when it
is right, and when wrong, to visit on the Sabbath? What rule can we lay
down? General rules are of little worth; each case has something
peculiar in it, so that the mere letter of a lay may be set aside. But
let an enlightened conscience, governed by the fear of God, direct us.
We are not to ask, What is fashionable? Do not many Christian families
pay social visits on the Sabbath? Will it be considered inconsistent
with my profession of religion to spend a few hours from home, or only
twenty minutes with my friends at the next door?--Rather ask, Is it
right? Shall I gain spiritual strength by doing so? Will my example be
happy in its influence upon my children and others? Is this the way,
that, above all, I would recommend to persons seriously asking, How may
I most profitably spend the Sabbath day?

III. In order profitably to pass the Sabbath at home, we must imbibe
and cherish the impression that it is a holy day.

It is in vain to form resolutions, until conscience be set about _her_
work. Our promises will last only until some worldly enjoyment bribes
us silently to set them aside. Public sentiment is of little weight in
favour of the profitable observance of the Sabbath; because it is of
every possible shade. This holy day may be spent almost as we please;
the laws of the land, to save it from profanation, being, as in all
times past, a dead letter; prevailing custom allowing of almost every
kind of recreation, if not of labour. Each denomination of those
calling themselves Christians, having their own views and claiming the
indulgence of their own practice. While some are more strict, others
will hardly admit that the Sabbath is more sacred than any other day.
Spend the time as you please, you will be in character: you will be
sustained. You may search the Scriptures, and engage with your family
in pious conversation, and no one has a right to murmur. You may spend
the day in idleness and sleep, or in conversation about worldly
business: the professional man may arrange the papers and books of his
office, ready against Monday morning; we may wander over the fields,
or visit our next door neighbours, or ride out in the afternoon, and
who dare seriously complain?

A store keeper may post his books; another may load his wagon for
market; a printer may set his types; young people may spend the day in
reading novels; I may go into my study and work problems in navigation,
or for literary improvement, read Latin and Greek in heathen authors,
and we shall none of us be disturbed; we may quietly pursue our
respective courses the year round. Spend the time as we may, we are
still in character, and will be sustained by the popular voice.
Besides, that influence which is derived from the regard we have for
what others think or say of us, will not control us in the bosom of our
own families. We are there withdrawn from public view. The more retired
we are, the more independent we feel, of either the approbation or
ridicule of others. Though a regard for the character of our families
may influence us, in some considerable degree, to sanctify the Sabbath,
while there is no inducement to the contrary; yet when we most need it,
such help fails us. Neither our own reputation, as respecters of
religion, nor the influence we might exert for the honour and happiness
of our families, will be sufficient to overcome strong temptation.

But let the mind once come under the control of the belief, that the
Sabbath is the Lord's, and that it is to be observed in holy rest all
the day, and we have advanced farther in the sanctification of the
Sabbath, than if we had matured a score of rules, and solemnly bound
ourselves to keep them every one.

Do we find it difficult to rise as early on that day as during the
week, that with the morning we may commence our duties? Let conscience
speak, and we shall wake early. Let our love to God, and his service,
only be as strong as our attachment to the things of the world, and no
more of the Sabbath will be wasted in slumber, than of Monday morning.
Men who labour through the week, contend for this indulgence; that they
are wearied and need rest: besides, that the Sabbath is given for rest.
But, no reader of the Bible can say, that it is the rest of indolence
and spiritual inactivity. The worship of God does not commonly demand
the labours and exercise of the body; the mind only is called into
healthful action; and this is also refreshing to the body. In answer to
the plea, that being worn down with the cares of the week, and its
toils, we may, consistently with duty, lie later on Sabbath morning
than any other, it may be asked, Have we a right to expend our strength
during the week, so as to unfit us for the duties of the Sabbath when
they arrive? If we found ourselves disinclined early to seek the Lord,
last Sabbath, are we not bound to guard against such languor, when this
holy day shall again dawn? Is not duty plain, that we ought to relax
our labours on Saturday, that we may not lose the most precious hours
of the Lord's day? Were we _our own_, we might exercise our pleasure.
But we are not. Man's chief end is, to glorify God, and enjoy him, in
this world, as well as hereafter. Suppose you hire a man, to labour for
you--you have a right to all his time; but you give him five days in
the week for his own employment on condition that he will devote
himself wholly to your work on the sixth. Has this man a right, so to
arrange his business, and expend his strength, during the five days he
labours for himself, that when the sixth day arrives, he cannot rise
until late, nor commence his work until the morning be nearly past?

Again, there are many things about which we perhaps have no difficulty,
as respects ourselves; we may perform them or not, on the Sabbath,
without injury. But the influence we may exert upon others, is with
every conscientious man a serious consideration. In cases of
difficulty, how shall we determine what is right? Not by expediency, or
custom, or inclination, or a spirit of independence. These cannot be
safely trusted. Let us call to mind, that the Sabbath is the Lord's;
and that we are bound to glorify him, both in our conduct and our
influence; and we shall not probably find much difficulty in deciding
at once, what it is our duty to do. The same rule will also apply to
cases of doubt, in respect to ourselves. Our reputation, or interest,
or feelings give us their counsel, while other considerations may be
placed over against these. Neither the one nor the other affords us any
certain aid in determining upon what is our duty. But if the fear of
God rule in our hearts, and his holy day be very precious to us, and
its honour dear, the question, before so perplexing, becomes a very
plain one. What must I do, in the observance of the Sabbath, _to
promote the glory of God_? If we will allow conscience to speak, her
voice may be heard; if we attend to her admonitions, guided by the
light of Scripture, we shall not commonly, we shall not often, be left
in doubt what is duty. For example, you may feel much wearied with the
exercises, public and private, of the morning; and the recreation of a
walk for half an hour in the afternoon, would be very refreshing to
your exhausted system. But there are considerations to be weighed
against this. As to profit in the street, or upon the frequented road,
that is out of the question. Equally vain would be the attempt to keep
the thoughts from wandering upon all that tempts the eye and ear. And
then the effect that may result to others, must be taken into the
account, and the light in which your conduct will be viewed, as
connected with the sanctification of the Sabbath.

The question is now easily decided, because duty appears plain. A great
advantage also, attending this manner of solving difficulties is, that
the decision is final; there remains no cavilling, when the
determination is once made, _in the fear of God_. If you wish to keep
the Sabbath profitably, and with enjoyment to yourself and family,
labour to attain to, and cultivate the impression, that it is the
Lord's day, and, therefore, to be kept holy.

IV. Attendance, as far as practicable upon the public duties of
religion, contributes much to the profitable observance of the Sabbath
at home.

The language of Scripture would lead us to this. "Six days shall work
be done; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, and holy
convocation; ye shall do no work therein; it is the Sabbath of the Lord
in all your dwellings." Lev. xxiii. 3. The Sabbath at home is well
united with the holy convocation of the people of God, in the public
ordinances of religion. If we consult the history of the Church, we
shall find this to have been the opinion of the pious in every age. The
Jewish nation, Christians in the time of the apostles, and the
professing people of God in all countries since their day, have weekly
assembled themselves together.

Public worship promotes the observance of the Sabbath at home, by
affording that instruction which is necessary to the proper performance
of our duty. Though comparatively little time is spent on the Sabbath,
in teaching publicly the doctrines of religion, and the duties that
flow from them, yet there will be found a very great difference in the
views of those who regularly hear the gospel, and of such as never
enter a worshipping assembly. This does not wholly arise from the
public instructions of the Sabbath,--those who hear the gospel are
constrained to search for themselves, and to use other means to learn
the duty which God requires of man. Among other things, they will soon
learn that the Sabbath is to be sanctified, by a holy resting all the
day, and that if they mean to do what is right, they must perform this
duty also.

But we may come to a knowledge of our duty, and yet have no inclination
to do what is required. We need to be exhorted and encouraged. This is
enjoined upon those who preach the gospel. They are commanded, not only
to reprove and rebuke, but also to exhort; to help such as are
discouraged, and to strengthen the feeble. And here, again, it will be
found, that notwithstanding the multitude who hear the word preached,
but observe not the Lord's day as a holy rest, they, who in any
community sanctify it, are those who on that day attend public worship.
I much question if a family, neglectful of public worship, can be
found, that sanctifies the Sabbath at home.

Again, the assembling of ourselves together, regularly on the Sabbath,
greatly contributes to preserve that holy day from the danger of being
profaned. All persons feel the confinement of the Sabbath. Nature seems
to demand some recreation, both of body and mind. This is afforded us
in public worship. The preparing of ourselves to assemble,--the ride,
or walk, if we live near;--the variety in the exercises of the
sanctuary,--the reading, singing, prayers, and sermons, are exceedingly
refreshing to such as have a heart to enjoy them. They send us home
better prepared for spending profitably the remainder of the day, than
if all the time had been passed in our own dwellings. The remark of one
who was deprived of preaching an entire day, we have probably all found
true in our own experience,--That a Sabbath without public worship,
when we have all the time to spend in duties at home, is no gain to the
reading of the Scriptures. For want of variety in our duties, we become
languid, and profit but little.

Attendance upon public worship is favourable to a profitable spending
of the Sabbath at home, because it promotes religion generally. It is
in the house of God that we are taught what we must do to be saved, and
how we are acceptably to serve our Creator. Parents and children are
taught their relative duties, and are dismissed with pressing
exhortation not to defer the paying of their vows. It is in the
worshipping assembly, that the affections are moved, and interested for
the glory of God. Here it is, that our consciences most closely press
us with the important question, What must I do to work the works of
God? In the ministry of reconciliation, dispensed to the assemblies of
the Sabbath, sin is pointed out and reproved; negligence in duty
reprimanded; the honour of religion defended; the sanctification of the
Lord's day pleaded for; the feeble strengthened, and the wavering mind
confirmed;--every Christian grace, in its order, becomes the subject of
special consideration, and every duty, according to our station in
life, is, with arguments to its immediate and constant performance,
explained and pressed upon us.

Then, let every one, who would profitably observe the Sabbath _at
home_, conscientiously and faithfully attend public worship. This will
save him and his family from many temptations to profane the Lord's
day, and will afford him instruction, strength, and encouragement for
the performance of his duties.

V. Let the time not spent in public worship, be past at home in
exercises becoming the sacredness of the Sabbath.

Parents will permit me here to remind them of the duties they owe their
households. Not to suffer the day to pass without important instruction
to their children. It may very properly, and indeed ought to be various
in its character, to suit the youthful mind; but all bearing upon the
spiritual welfare of both parents and children. After returning from
meeting, make inquiry about the text; what subject was treated in the
sermon; particularly if any thing was said to children or the younger
members of the family: whether any thing sinful in them was pointed
out, and any good thing recommended for them to do. How much better
would be the influence, upon our families and ourselves, of this
course, than what must arise from a critical spirit, which often, not
only keeps possession of the heart while we hear, but dictates all that
is said of the sermon after we have returned home.

Children ought to be taught their catechism on the Sabbath, and aided
in their Sunday school lessons. The old Presbyterian method was, to
devote Sabbath evening to instruction out of the Scriptures, and the
reciting of the Shorter Catechism. A means of grace so important, ought
not to be suffered by any family to fall into decay. It is of moment
also, that not only in the conduct of the parents, the younger members
may see the sacredness of the Lord's day, but that they should be
instructed in the nature of the Sabbath; by whom it was appointed, and
for what purposes; how it is to be sanctified; what we may do, and from
what we must refrain. This would make children intelligent, and would
stir up parents also to acquaint themselves more perfectly, through the
aid of the excellent standards of our Church, and other sources of
correct interpretation of the Scriptures, with what they may, from want
of incentives to attention, but partially understand.

Children ought to receive, at times, that instruction which is
exclusively _religious_; ought to be conversed with affectionately
about their souls, and the truth prest home to their hearts. If this be
attempted, in the hurry of business during the week, though the seed
may prosper, yet it is not probable. The Sabbath is the most
encouraging time. The mind of the parent is then in a favourable
state; the solemnities of the day contribute much to success, and
prepare the hearts of your children to receive some good impression.
Those Sabbath evening exhortations, though without even apparent effect
at first, will follow your children, when your anxiety can no more
watch over them, and may lead them to salvation, after your souls have
gone to enjoy it in glory.

_Reading_ is an exercise that ought to be particularly attended to on
the Sabbath. We would do well to converse intimately and constantly
with pious men in their writings, when we are not called to other
duties. The great variety of journals and semi-romances, with which the
professedly religious presses teem, has, at least, a questionable
effect upon intelligent and vital religion. If the Sabbath were more
devoted to the study of such books as Doddridge's Rise and Progress,
Scougal's Life of God in the Soul, Flavel on Keeping the Heart, Owen on
the Spirit, and Baxter's Saints' Rest, we would _feel_ in ourselves,
and others would _see_ in us an increase of grace, which it is to be
feared we do not enjoy from the food prepared to our fastidious

Above all, let the Bible be the book that is to be read on the Sabbath.
The day is holy, the book is also holy. In the hurry of business
through the week, we often feel that we are deprived of both enjoyment
and profit in searching the Scriptures. But on the Lord's day we have
leisure. All around us is quiet. The solemnities of the day give
additional interest and sacredness to what we read. We can read much
more at once than during the week, and profit by noticing the connexion
of one passage with another. Many persons complain that they have
little time to read, during the six days of labour. Such ought to
devote, I was going to say, _all_ the Sabbath, to the study of the
Scriptures. This was very much the method of our fathers. As they had
few books, the _Bible_ claimed their attention on the Sabbath. And the
nature of their religion, and their eminent piety, may well recommend
to us their example.

Members of the same family ought, on the Sabbath, to converse together
on the state of their souls. Much may be done for their comfort and the
promotion of religion, by thus communing together. We may speak in
public of experimental religion, make the exercises of others the
subject of remark; we may talk to Christians of other families about
religion; but if our children and members of our household never hear
us speak of these things, when only our own little circle is around us,
they will very readily infer that it is not a subject greatly
interesting to us. That which possesses our hearts we love to dwell
upon in conversation with our own family.

_Meditation_, though a difficult duty, is essentially necessary to a
healthful state of mind, and is suited to no day more than to the
Sabbath. The cares of the world are then shut out, and every thing
seems to constrain us to turn our thoughts within.

_Prayer_ is the duty of the Christian, the duty of every one, at all
times. Our Saviour said, men ought always to pray and not to faint; and
Paul exhorts us to pray without ceasing; praying always with all
prayer. But there are certain times, when this duty can be performed
with more profit, and in a manner more comforting to ourselves, than at
others. Above all seasons, the Sabbath is appropriate for communion
with God. And he who most frequently and devoutly converses with
Jehovah on his mercy-seat, through Jesus Christ, on the Lord's day,
will commune most with him during the week, will most profitably
observe the Sabbath, and be most thoroughly furnished for every good
word and work. He will not only enter into rest here on earth, but will
daily become conformed to that better world, where there remaineth a
Sabbath of rest to the people of God.

We must all admit that the sanctification of the Sabbath is an
important part of practical religion. The cause of piety declines where
the Sabbath is not remembered to be kept holy. But in what does the
sanctification of the Lord's day chiefly consist? We have seen that it
is in observing the day in our own dwellings. This secures the
performance of all its public duties. In a pre-eminent sense, the
Sabbath which God approves, is the _Sabbath at home_.

No separate argument is then called for to prove that it is the duty of
all to promote the observance of the Lord's day. It is the common cause
of every government, of good morals, and of religion. Let no one excuse
himself from contributing his part to this good work. We may each aid
much in the sanctification of the Sabbath. It is in the power of the
humblest member of your family to do more to render the Lord's day
profitable, than he can now believe. On the other hand, an entire
household may be thrown into confusion, and compelled to waste the day,
through the perversity or neglect only of a child. You have a servant
in your employ, to whom certain duties are assigned, but he neglects on
Saturday evening to perform them. Through his omission, the whole
family may be thrown into confusion on Sabbath morning. One boy of five
years old, who _will_ play in the street, can disturb all the families
of the neighbourhood. A noisy child of three years can effectually
prevent, either parent, brother, or sister, from profitably spending
the Lord's day. A little girl was dressed for church,--she disobeyed
her mother, and went out to play; her clothes were soon unfit to be
seen in a worshipping assembly. The mother was fretted and distressed,
and the child had to remain at home, while the parent went to meeting,
not in a state of mind to be much profited by the exercises of the
sanctuary. The sound of one axe, in cleaving as much wood as will make
one fire, can annoy, throughout the fourth part of a village, all who
wish to keep holy the Sabbath day, and to see it hallowed by others.
What is more common, in cases of slight indisposition, or in the
commencement of disease, to omit sending for the physician until
Sabbath, thus compelling him to spend holy time, not in ministering to
the relief of actual distress, but in sacrificing to sheer neglect, and
contempt of the command of God, what ought to be _his_ privilege, with
all other men,--the undisturbed enjoyment, both public and private, of
the Lord's day.

Thus we may in different ways, and various degrees, contribute to the
sanctification of the Sabbath, or compel others, however reluctant, to
spend the day without profit. This power is vested in no one
exclusively, but in each member in particular. Each may contribute to
the sanctification of the Sabbath; each may prevent the entire family
from enjoying and profitably spending the day. Would we do good both to
ourselves and others? Let us _every one_ remember the Sabbath day _at
home_, to keep it holy.

By this we may be aided in judging of our preparation for heaven. The
Sabbath on earth is a type of the Sabbath above. If we find no delight
in the holy duties of the day, as now enjoyed, and feel the sacrifice
of sanctifying it to be too great, how can we hope to enjoy it in the
purity and holiness of heaven? But if it is our delight, and its sacred
retirement from worldly cares refreshes the soul, we can discern some
degree of conformity to the inheritance of the saints in light. It is
our duty and our privilege, then, to comfort ourselves with the
expectation of yet enjoying an eternal Sabbath, where there are no
temptations to profane it, no despisers of religion to interfere with
its quiet sanctification--no ignorance, through which we may fall into
sin, and thus impair our enjoyment,--no disinclination of mind to hold
communion with God,--where no weariness in duty, or languor in devotion
can make the season appear too long.

      THE END.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Sabbath At Home" ***

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