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but the service of God. Only thus far it is our work, that it is for our good; and if it is called the Lord’s service, and serving the Lord, it is because God is graciously pleased it should be called so, that He may reward our service as done to Him. Indeed, the Gospel has freed us from that superstitious observation of this day which the Jews had run into; for works of necessity and charity are to be done on all days, because “mercy is better than sacrifice;” that is, acts of o: o mercy are the best ways of serving God. But then we must * be careful not to call that necessary which is not so; which is the extreme we are run into. If servants are freed on this day from bodily labour, and worldly business, it is that they may know they have a master in heaven: a master far greater than any master on earth, whom they are to serve, to honour, and to pray to ; and not that they may be let loose to idleness, and to serve the devil, as the manner of too many is. In short, all that own God for their Creator and preserver, all that own Jesus for their Redeemer, all that expect the assistance of God’s good Spirit, to enlighten their minds with saving knowledge, to strengthen them against temptations, to comfort and deliver them in the hour of death and the day of judgment, will observe this good day religiously: that is, they will be sure to go to God’s house, and confess that they altogether depend upon Him, both for this world and the next. They will acknowledge their own weakness and sinfulness, and desire His pardon; they will hear His holy Word, and beg His grace to observe it; and they will give Him thanks for the mercies they every day receive at His hands. And because that it is greatly for God’s glory that the number of His servants should increase, all good men will endeavour, as much as may be, to instruct those of their own families in the ways of righteousness; or at least take care that they go where they may be instructed. To this end, they will breed up their children in a sense of the blessing and sacredness of days of public worship; considering that all people are just what they are bred; for they that are kept strictly to Church will be uneasy not to be
so there; while they that are bred in a profane neglect of holy – days never care for the return of such days. But then, let us have an especial care, that custom does not bring us to observe this good day only by outward and §: 29.13, bodily attendance and service. This people draw nigh to Me * * with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me, was God's complaint against the Jews; and so it will be with us, if we are not careful of our hearts, and do not endeavour to keep them near to God, by considering that He knows the very secrets of our hearts. And indeed, if people did but set their hearts to serve the Lord, the business of the Lord's day would be a delight, and not a burden. The works of the creation may, in some good measure, be seen and thought on with pleasure, even by the meanest person; and the blessing of a redemption is what all are concerned in, and all may know, who do but know that they are sinful helpless creatures. And these are the two proper subjects for our thoughts on these days; and which none are excused from, either on account of business, or for want of knowledge. And God grant that we may ever esteem it a privilege and a happiness to have a day set apart for His service. May we call it a delight, and truly make it so, that we may at last come to the rest that remaineth for the people of God, through Christ our Lord. To Whom, &c.
THE SIN AND DANGER OF SHUTTING OUR EYES AGAINST
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and See Ps. 95. men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were # ** evil. For every one that doess, evil hateth the light, neither #". cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he , it.” that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made 11.” "
manifest, that they are wrought in God.
I will first explain to you the meaning of these words; and then you will see better how much they concern every one of us. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world; and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil;” that is, since God has made known His will and purpose to mankind, after so plain and kind a manner, by sending His own Son to teach us how to live so as to please God, and how to escape the dreadful reward of sin in the next world; if after this we despise so great a mercy, and resolve to shut our eyes against that light which would shew us the danger we are in, while we continue ignorant of these things; and this purely because we love our sins, and will not forsake them, let what will come of it; why then we are to expect no mercy from God, but the severest sentence of condemnation.
And every body may know very easily, whether this be their case. For, saith our Lord, “Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved;” that is, every man may depend upon it, that he is in the way to ruin, who will not take fair warning when it is given him; who chooses to be ignorant of
sER.M. what may come hereafter, lest, being convinced of his folly and
danger, he should be forced to reform his life and manners.
25. of us when we die; namely, “they that have done good 29) shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil,
into everlasting fire.”
Now, they that have any manner of seriousness will very naturally desire to know what it is that God expects from them; how they may attain that everlasting life and happiness which God has prepared for them that love Him, and obey His laws; as also how they may escape the wrath to come.
Why now, Jesus Christ has made all this known to us after the most gracious manner. For instance: He has made known to us, that if any man perish, it is from his own wilful obstimacy and blindness; that God desireth not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his sin and be saved; and, because all men are born in sin and the children of wrath, He has made known to us, how we may certainly be reconciled to God; what we are to do to please Him, after He is reconciled to us; as also what dispositions and qualifications are necessary to fit us for heaven. And because He knows whereof we are made, and that of ourselves we are not able to understand these things so fully as we should do, much less to do them, He has therefore made known to us, that He will, upon certain conditions, give us His Holy Spirit, which shall enable us effectually to know our duty, and to overcome all the temptations and difficulties we can possibly meet with, whether from the world, the flesh, or the devil, which are our mortal enemies, and which, if not resisted, will bring us to destruction both of body and soul. And that we may know these things the better, He has appointed a certain order of men, who, at the peril of their own souls, shall ever and anon be sounding these things in your ears; shall instruct the ignorant, and reduce them that are out of the way, either by reproof or by godly discipline. And because men are but too apt to think all that time lost which is not spent on their worldly business, He has appointed one day in seven, which shall be employed chiefly in learning their duty, in praising their Creator, and praying for such things as are requisite and necessary as well for their bodies as for their souls. And they that employ this time after this manner, are sure to be no losers by so doing. This is the light and knowledge which God has given us. And one would be apt to think, that every soul, who hears of these things, should be much concerned about them, and should argue thus, or after some such manner, with himself: If these things are true, it concerns me very much to lay them seriously to heart: for if this is the time in which to provide for eternity; if death is ever at hand, and the consequences of a surprise most dreadful; if I am to be for ever happy, or for ever miserable, as I lead my life, and as I end