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and who by their crimes have ruined their families, and I believe you will almost universally find that they were Sabbath-breakers. Yea I believe that generally, you will find, that that course of wickedness which has led to the penitentiary and the gallows, commenced in Sabbathbreaking. Many malefactors, (says an eminent* writer on the Sabbath) at their last hour have acknowledged that Sabbath-breaking was their leading sin, and the occasion of all the rest of their wicked courses.” Another tauthor remarks, “ that he doth not know that ever he observed any repentance in a malefactor who did not bitterly lament his neglect of his duty to God on that day." Go again into places where the Sabbath is generally disregarded, and contrast the temporal prosperity of the people, with that of those who live where the Sabbath is carefully observed; and which will you find most flourishing ? 'I feel no hesitation in saying that I believe the comparison will be in favour of the places where the Sabbath is observed. These facts all undeniably prove that a man's temporal interest, is best advanced by a careful observance of the Sabbath day.
The same is further forcibly established, by this consideration, that we are dependent on the Providence of God to prosper our exertions to obtain wealth. And can we reasonably expect his blessing, when in direct opposition to his command clearly made known unto us, we take his time to advance our object? I believe that Providence often signally blasts the exertions of those who make encroachments on his day. Numerous instances in confirmation of this remark might be adduced both from history and from our own acquaintance with the world.The judgments of God have been signally pointed against this sin; and by one stroke of heaven, the Sabbathbreaker has often lost more, than all the gains of the Sabbath ; and the Lord has taken away his unlawful gain, or that which he got by robbing him of his time, if I may so speak, with heavy interest. Yea oftentimes he has summoned the sinner to his bar, in the very act of breaking the Sabbath. A very large proportion of those fatal accidents of which we weekly hear, I believe takes place on the Sabbath day ; and the subjects of them are Sabbath
breakers. Hereby God is constantly holding up a warn. ing against this sin. But alas ! One of the crying sins of mankind is, they discern not the operations of the divine hand. But supposing we do not see in every case immediate marks of the divine displeasure, blasting the efforts of the Sabbath-breaker, yet in these cases I believe he often does, though insensibly, so withhold his blessing as to prevent his prosperity. And I exceedingly doubt my brethren, whether a man ever advanced his temporal interest, by taking the Lord's time in which to do it. And if any do appear to prosper in this course, I hesitate not to say their prosperity is cursed, and they are heaping treasure together for the last days. And here permit me to . subjoin a quotation from the writings of that eminent civilian, Sir Matthew Hale lord chief justice of the king's bench, England. “ I have found (said he) by a strict and diligent observation, that a due observing the duty of the Lord's day, hath ever had joined to it a blessing upon the rest of my time ; and the week that hath been so begun, hath been blessed and prosperous to me : And, on the other side, when I have been negligent of the .duties of this day, the rest of the week hath been unsuccessful and unhappy to my secular employments. And this I do not write lightly or inconsiderately, but upon a long and sound observation and experience.” Again in another place he saith,“ | thank God, I ever found that in the strictest observations of the times of his worship, I ever met with the best advantage to my worldly occasions ; and that whenever my worldly occasions encroached upon those times, I met with disappointment, though in things of the most probable success. It hath been and ever shall be to me, a conviction beyond all argument, and demonstration whatsoever, that God expects the observation of his times. It would be a sad presage unto me, of the severe anger of my Maker, if my inadvertence should cast me upon a temporal undertaking upon this day, and that it should prosper." From all the preceding remarks we confidently conclude that the Sabbath is a temporal blessing to individuals.
2. We proceed next to show that it is a spiritual blessing. Admitting that man has an immortal soul, that he is destined for another and eternal state of existence, and that he must possess the religion of the Scriptures to be
in favour with God, and secure his future happiness, then the Sabbath is a great spiritual blessing ; for it is signally calculated to promote his spiritual and eternal interests. It peculiarly calls his attention every seventh day to the care of his soul, and to preparation for eternity. If it were not for the Sabbath many could find no time for gaining a knowledge of these important concerns; and most of those who have time, would not take it. We know even among us, notwithstanding all the seriousness which is excited in our minds on the Sabbath, the business and amusements of the world frequently, in the short period of a week, almost eradicate all that we have gained on the Sabbath. What then would be the case if we had no Sabbath? The proneness of man to forget God and neglect eternity, is so great, that we have reason to believe religion would be banished from the earth. The Sabbath is the grand palladium of religion, and this the enemies of piety well know; and never was a more promising effort made to destroy religion, than that not long since made by a European nation to blot out the memory of the Sabbath, by converting the week into a decade. Thou. sands of souls now on earth and ten thousand times ten thousand, who surround the throne in heaven can from experience bear testimony to the importance of the Sabbath in promoting the spiritual and eternal interests of the soul, and therefore that it is a great spiritual blessing.
3. The Sabbath has been and still is a blessing to the community at large, and Sabbath breaking has injured and ruined nations. It is certain that religion is necessary to the well being of civil society. This is acknowledged even by infidel politicians. But as has just been shown the institution of the Sabbath is of the highest importance to religion. The conclusion necessarily follows, that the observance of the Sabbath is of high importance to the wellbeing of civil society. Again it is certain that the fear of a Supreme Being is of the utmost importance, and absolutely necessary to the well-being, if not the very exis. tence of civil society. This has a powerful influence to restrain from those secret crimes, which might be perpetrated, and which would much disturb, if not destrog civil society. But of the important influence of the Sab. bath to promote the fear of God, there can be no reason. able doubt. Hence we again draw the conclusion that
the Sabbath is a great blessing to civil society. This is true under every form of government; but more especially under a republican form, such as ours. To the well-being of this form of government, virtue in the people is more especially necessary. Virtue is allowed by the wisəst politicians to be the very spring of a republican government. Reason and the example of republics which have existed in the world both teach us that when a general corruption of manners takes place, a republican government cannot continue to exist. Hence, as the Sabbath has a most important influence on the preservation and promotion of virtue among a people ; its oliservance is of peculiar importance to a republic, and therefore to our country.
This is the leading principle on which legislators have enacted laws to enforce the observance of the Sabbath. It is of importance to the interests of society. And here it may be proper to remark that we have an additional reason why we should observe the Sabbath, or at least abstain from the external breaches of it, in this consideration, the laws of our State require it; and if we respect the laws framed by men of our own choice, and would maintain the character of good citizens, we are bound to obey.
Further the word and providence of God teach us that the observance of the Sabbath is of advantage to the community. Many promises as we have already seen were made to the nation of Israel in case they observed this institution, and many judgments were denounced against them in case they disregarded it. And these promises and threatenings were fulfilled. While the nation generally kept the Sabbath they prospered ; but when they did not they were brought into affliction. And Sabbathbreaking was a leading sin which provoked God to send from time to time his heavy judgments upon them; and this was especially the sin for which their land was desolated, and its inhabitants carried captive into Chaldea.Thus we read Ez. xx. 13, 15, 16. - The house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness—my Sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness to consume them. U lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them ; be
cause they polluted my Sabbaths.” From this passage we learn that Sabbath-breaking was a leading cause of the judgments which the Israelites suffered in the wilderness. And that this was one principal procuring cause of the heavy calamities which they suffered from the Chaldeans, appears from the following texts, Ez. xxii. 8, 13, 15– “ Thou hast despised mine holy things, and hast profaned my Sabbaths. Behold therefore I will scatter thee among the Heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee.” 2 Chron. xxxvi. 21. the historian having given an account of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the captivity of the Jews by the Chaldeans, adds, “ to fulfil the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths : for as long as she lay desolate shekept Sabbath to fulfil three score and ten years.” And also, Neh. xiii. 17, 18: “ Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, what evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day ?” Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel, by profaning the Sabbath.” In these judgments which came upon Israel, all nations who live under the light of revelation have a warning against this sin. And since the law respecting the Sabbath is still in force, we have reason to believe that when nations now generally neglect and transgress the Sabbath they will be visited with the divine judgments. And we have every reason to believe that Sabbath-breaking has been one principal cause of the awful judgments which the nations have in modern times experienced.
We shall now close this subject with a few reflections.
From what has been said, it is evident the Sabbath is a benevolent institution, and was appointed by the benevolent Creator for the good of man. It is calculated to promote the interests of society, and advance the temporal, spiritual, and eternal happiness of individuals. We ought therefore highly to prize it, be thankful to God for it, and carefully observe it and see that it is observed by all under our care.
Many of you my hearers I believe do esteem this day, a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honourable; and