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They who led our Saviour to prison were not Christians! They who mocked him, and they who scourged him with cruel stripes, were not Christians! Nor were they Christians who pierced his hands and his feet, and nailed him to the cross! "Why, then," you will say, "should we condemn ourselves, and compare ourselves to those wretched Jews?"
Alas! my dear young friends, do not deceive yourselves. Though you yourselves have not condemned, mocked, or slain the Lord Jesus in the same literal manner in which the Jews of old did, still it is but too possible for you to do all these things in another sense. For when they who are Christians do not act up to the Christian calling, then do they mock the Lord: when they disobey his commands, then do they scourge, and pierce, and afflict him who gave himself a ransom for mankind. And all who abandon themselves to sin, and to their own evil desires, are even said in Scripture to crucify him afresh, and render all that he has done for them of no avail.
What the Jews did, they did in blindness
and ignorance, and Jesus himself, you know, prayed for them in these words: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do*." But we have not the same excuse. We all know what we do. We, therefore, cannot be excused because of our ignorance, when we do wrong; and the greater the condemnation which we pass on the conduct of the Jews towards our Saviour, the more watchful ought to be the guard which we keep over ourselves. If we would not grieve his holy Spirit in any of our thoughts, or words, or deeds, we must make his law the constant rule both of all we think, and of all we do. This is the way by which we may prove ourselves to be servants of the Lord, and may become worthy of all that he has done for us. "He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is," says this blessed Saviour himself to us, "that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him."
*Luke xxiii. 34.
† John xiv. 21.
"Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy."-Exodus xx. 8.
WE all of us, my dear children, ought to consider it as one of our Christian privileges that this day, the Lord's day, is set apart from the rest of the week for the purposes of religion. It is the duty of all persons who are not prevented by illness, or by some other sufficient reason, to attend on this day the public worship of God; and assuredly they who absent themselves from church through indolence, carelessness, or with the intention of employing the time in any way which has no relation to the service of God, will not stand acquitted in his sight.
But besides the going to church, the Sunday has other duties of its own; and these duties are various, and depend very much on the condition in which we are placed, and the
means of employing it to good purpose which we have in our power. Some keep this day holy by devoting themselves on it to pious reading and meditation; others by employing it in teaching the poor, and in charitable visits, and acts. There are differences of opinion, as to the degree of strictness with which it ought to be kept. There are some persons who are disposed to exclude entirely from the Sunday every act, not absolutely, or in itself, an act of piety, or of charity, or of necessity. There are others who allow a mixture of harmless recreation with their religious duties. But there are some also who appear, or at least who, by their conduct, appear to think it a day which may be given up to pleasure, or a day of idleness. To these persons it is often a day of weariness. They find themselves excluded from their usual employments and amusements, and they have no heart, no zeal, in their religion. Yet even to them a well-spent Sunday might lay the foundation of a well-spent week. If they would lay up on this day a store of good resolutions and pious thoughts,
they would scarcely forget them all during the six days which follow.
One indispensable duty of the Sunday is, that it be a day of peace and of kindness amongst you all, one towards another. This is, indeed, a duty of every day, but it is a duty of the Sunday pre-eminently. No bickerings or quarrellings should be heard, no harsh word should be uttered, no harsh thought should be harboured, on a day sacred to the Lord of heaven and earth, who is himself good to all, even to the unthankful and the evil, and whose tender mercies are over all his works.
The Sunday should be a day of rest also from the cares of the world. There are some persons who make this, which should be a day of rest unto the Lord, a day for looking particularly into the state of their worldly business or affairs. They who do this ought to be reminded that they ought rather to make it a day of looking into the state of their souls, of examining how that affair stands, how they are prepared to submit that account to the inspection of God.