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reason and conscience, if allowed to judge of duty, will often be misguided by partiality and passion? How liberal, generous, confiding, are nature, Providence, and Christianity, in their dealings with men! And when will men learn to exercise towards one another, the same liberal and confiding spirit?
We have thus considered some of the particular purposes of the association for promoting the observance of the Sabbath. We say, their "particular purposes." We apprehend there is a general one, which lurks in a portion of their members, which few perhaps have stated very distinctly to themselves, but which is not therefore the less real, and of which it is well to be forewarned. We apprehend that some, and not a small party, have a vague instinctive feeling, that the kind of Christianity which they embrace, requires for its diffusion a gloomy Sabbath, the Puritan Sabbath; and we incline to believe that they are desirous to separate the Lord's-day as much as possible from all other days, to make it a season of rigid restraint, that it may be a preparation for a system of theology, which the mind, in a natural, free, and cheerful state, can never receive. The Sabbath of the Puritans and their Calvinistic peculiarities go together. Now we wish the return of neither. The Puritans, measured by their age, have indeed many claims on respect, especially those of them who came to this country, and who, through their fortunate exile, escaped the corruption which the civil war and the possession of power engendered in the Puritan body of England. But sincere respect for the men of early times may be joined with a clear perception of their weaknesses and errors; and it becomes us to remember, that errors, which in them were innocent, because inevitable,
may deserve a harsher appellation if perpetuated in their posterity.
We have no desire, it will be seen, to create huge associations for enforcing or recommending the Lord'sday. We desire, however, that this interesting subject may engage more attention. We wish the Lord's-day to be more honored and more observed; and we believe that there is but one way for securing this good, and that is to make the day more useful, to turn it to better account, to introduce such changes into it as shall satisfy judicious men, that it is adapted to great and happy results. The Sunday which has come down to us from our fathers seems to us exceedingly defective. The clergy have naturally taken it very much into their own hands, and, we apprehend, that as yet they have not discovered all the means of making it a blessing to mankind. It may well excite surprise, how little knowledge has been communicated on the Lord's-day. We think, that the present age admits and requires a more extensive teaching than formerly; a teaching not only in sermons, but in more instructive exercises, which will promote a critical and growing acquaintance with the Scriptures; will unfold morality or duty, at once in its principles and vast details; will guide the common mind to larger views, and to a more religious use of nature and history; and will reveal to it its own godlike powers. We think, too, that this great intellectual activity may be relieved and cheered by a mixture of greater benevolent activity; by attention to public and private charities, and by domestic and social kindnesses.* It seems to us that we are waking
* Would not the business of our public charities be done more effectually on the Lord's-day than on any other, and would not such an ap
up to understand the various uses to which Sunday may be applied. The present devotion of a considerable portion of it to the teaching of children, makes an important era in the history of the institution. The teaching of the ignorant and poor, we trust, is to follow. On this subject we cannot enlarge, but enough has been said to show in what way Sunday is to be recommended to the understandings and consciences of men.
In these remarks we have expressed our reverence for the Lord's-day. To us it is a more important day, and consecrated to nobler purposes than the ancient Sabbath. We are bound, however, to state, that we cannot acquiesce in the distinctions which are often made between this and other days, for they seem to us at once ungrounded and pernicious. We sometimes hear, for example, that the Lord's-day is set apart from our common lives to religion. What! Are not all days equally set apart to religion? Has religion more to do with Sunday than with any other portion of time? Is there any season, over which piety should not preside? So the day is sometimes distinguished as "holy ". What Is there stronger obligation to holiness on one day than another? Is it more holy to pray in the church than to pray in the closet, or than to withstand temptation in common life? The true distinction of Sunday is, that it is consecrated to certain means or direct acts of religion. But these are not holier than other duties. They are certainly not more important than their end, which is a virtuous life. There is, we fear, a superstition on this point, unworthy of the illumination of Christianity. We earnestly recommend the Lord's-day,
propriation of a part of this time accord peculiarly with the spirit of Christianity?
but we dare not esteem its duties above those of other days. We prize and recommend it as an institution through which our whole lives are to be sanctified and ennobled ; and, without this fruit, vain, and worse than vain, are the most rigid observances, the most costly sacrifices, the loudest and most earnest prayers. We would on no account disparage the offices of the Lord'sday. We delight in this peaceful season, so fitted to allay the feverish heat and anxieties of active life, to cherish self-communion, and communion with God and with the world to come. It is good to meet, as brethren, in the church to pray together, to hear the word of God, to retire for a time from ordinary labors, that we may meditate on great truths more deliberately, and with more continuous attention. In these duties we see a fitness, excellence, and happiness; but still, if a comparison must be made, they seem to us less striking proofs of piety and virtue, than are found in the disinterestedness, the self-control, the love of truth, the scorn of ill-gotten wealth, the unshaken trust in God, the temperate and grateful enjoyment, the calm and courageous sufferings for duty, to which the Christian is called in daily life. It is right to adore God's goodness in the hour of prayer; but does it not seem more excellent to carry in our souls the conviction of this goodness, as our spring and pattern, and to breathe it forth in acts conformed to the beneficence of our Maker? It is good to seek strength from God in the church; but does it not seem more excellent, to use well this strength in the sore conflicts of life, and to rise through it to a magnanimous and victorious virtue? Such comparisons, however, we have no pleasure in making, and they are obviously exposed to error. The enlightened
Christian "esteemeth every day alike." To him, all days bring noble duties; bring occasions of a celestial piety and virtue; bring trials, in wrestling with which he may grow strong; bring aids and incitements, through which he may rise above himself. All days may be holy, and the holiest is that in which he yields himself, with the most single-hearted, unshrinking, uncompromising purpose, to the will of God.
We intended to add remarks on some other associations, particularly on the Peace society. But we have exceeded our limits, and must forbear. Our remarks have been free, but, we trust, will not be misunderstood. We look with interest and hope on the spirit of association, which characterizes our times. We rejoice in this, as in every manifestation of a desire for the improvement of mankind. We have done what we could to secure this powerful instrument against perversion. Through a wise and jealous care, we doubt not that it will minister to that only sure good, the intellectual and moral progress of the human race.