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But the curse of labour was aimed, not at the body alone, but at the mind with all its faculties. Consequently the rest, offered by the Sabbath, is a blessed relief, not only from the work of the hands, but also from that anxious care, which, when continued without interruption, wears down the spirits, sours the heart, and often prompts language like that of Job-" My soul chooseth strangling rather than life; I loathe it : I would not live alway!"1 Little do those wretched beings, who make no difference between the Sabbath and other days-little do they know what comfort and relief it would have yielded them, if used as God intended it. Had they been content to comply with his direction—“ not doing their own ways, not finding their own pleasure, nor speaking their own words" they would have found, that God was on this day doing, thinking, speaking for them; securing (far more effectually than they could secure) that very object, on which their anxieties were fixed-and giving them rest in the mean time. — Again, he appointed the Sabbath
II. AS A SPECIAL OPPORTUNITY FOR OBTAINING SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS.
For see what this same curse of labour and toil, had it been unremitting, would have led to! Fallen man has not only a body to feed, but also a soul to save-a God to whom he must get reconciled-a depth of spiritual misery, guilt, and shame, out of which he must, if possible, be raised up. Now whatever means might have been provided for this purpose by a God of compassion, they could have availed us nothing, had man actually possessed no leisure to make use of them. The sinner's whole life must have been toil, and sweat, 2 Isaiah lviii. 13.
1 Job vii. 15, 16.
and labour, like that of the beasts; and, like them also, without hope. The eye, fixed on the ground, could never have raised itself up to heaven. The bread of this life might indeed have been secured, by that incessant "sweat of the brow; "1 but the bread of eternal life must have been abandoned. It is so now, by those miserable men, who will not use the opportunity thus graciously afforded by the God of mercy. They say they have not time to attend to the salvation of their souls! See now, I pray you, whether this be true or no! Does not God give them one day in seven specially for this end? Does he not secure you against any loss while using it? Are you not informed, that it is "made for you"-that it is quite consistent with every earthly interest, while it is at the same time rich in blessings for your guilty and perishing soul?
And what are these blessings, which the day of rest puts within your reach? The House of Prayer is one of them with a promise that God will there meet you, because his name is in it; and that Christ will be "in the midst" of "two or three" who "are gathered together in his name." 2 The Ministration of his Gospel is another; whereby the most ignorant may become acquainted with "the things that belong to their peace"—may learn to repent, may find a Saviour, may taste his love, may gain strength against temptation, and joy that shall endure all through the week of sorrow. A third blessing the Sabbath offers, in the Influence of the Holy Spirit; gently leading you into your closet, for more intimate converse with your own heart and with God. John the disciple "was in the Spirit on the Lord's day," receiving supernatural revelations. It is on this day also that Gen. iii. 19. 2 Matt. xviii. 20. 3 Luke xix. 42. 4 Rev. i. 10.
his ordinary influences most abound; as witness the convictions and impressions, which you yourself have felt on many sabbaths, but have not always retained during the succeeding week-days of earthly care and toil. Is not the Sabbath then a most benevolent appointment-" made for man?"
Once more--it was ordained,
III. AS A TYPE, FORETASTE, AND PLEDGe of THE CHRISTIAN'S REST IN GLORY.
"There remaineth a rest" (the Apostle's word literally means, the keeping of a Sabbath) "for the people of God." This is the view universally given us of the heavenly state. It is Rest! No more
curse-no more exclusion from God-no more sin-no more sorrow. Not by the sweat of their brow shall they eat bread; "but-" they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, or any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." 2 Blessed state! which, however, none can appreciate or understand, but those who now value the Lord's Sabbaths. These are the very same thing-so far as heaven can exist on earth. As the contempt of the Sabbath is generally a flood-gate set open to vice and profligacy, to a hardened heart, and to final despair; so the spiritual keeping of it is the beginning of heaven-the means of present grace, and the earnest of future glory. He who delights thus to serve God on earth, shall "serve him day and night in his temple" 3 above; and shall be a pillar in that temple, never more to go out. *
1 Heb. iv. 9.
3 Rev. vii. 15.
2 Rev. vii. 16, 17,
How blind, then, are they to their own best interests, who set at nought this holy day!
This, perhaps, is a view of the subject which you have never before taken. You may have felt that you were guilty-but not that you were foolish. Nay, you may have applauded your own wisdom, in using up for your worldly advantage, a portion of time which others, as you conceive, unprofitably waste. But your wisdom, alas! has failed you here. Even in worldly advantage, you have no reason to think that you have been the least gainer-either in comfort, in enjoyment, or in profit. Nay, on the credit of Christ's word, I will boldly assert that you have been a loser! If the Sabbath be "made FOR you," no doubt the breach of it has been AGAINST you; as you shall bitterly find, when the whole account of profit and loss shall be clearly set forth in the last day.—But of spiritual gains what a countless multitude have you thrown away! Your soul has been starved-it is become leaner and leaner-it is possibly at the point of death-death eternal! "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? and what"-when once it is lost-" what shall he give in exchange for his soul?"1
"Ye, therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked,” ""forsake your own mercy:
"but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory, both now and for ever. Amen." 2
1 Mark viii. 36, 37.
2 Peter iii. 17, 18. Jonah ii. 8.
LUKE xxiv. 50-53.-And he led them out as far as to Bethany; and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
THE humiliation of the Son of God was now drawing rapidly to a close. He had accomplished his decease at Jerusalem:"1 he had risen victorious from the grave: and, during forty days, he had been living among his disciples-convincing them, "by many infallible proofs," that he was indeed restored to life. There remained but one more thing to be done-that for which he had prayed, in John xvii. 5—“ And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' This prayer, as you have heard in my text, was fulfilled; he " ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things,' " and become Head over his Church for ever.-The text sets before us
I. THE LAST ACTS OF THE Redeemer on earth. 1. He selects a suitable place, from which to take his departure.-He had conversed with his friends at Jerusalem" in an inner chamber," "when the doors 3 Eph, iv. 10.
1 Luke ix. 31.
2 Acts i. 3.