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The New Zealand Evangelist

On Keeping The Sabbath

On Keeping The Sabbath.

The celebrated Wilberforce ascribes his continuance for so long a time, under such a pressure of cares and labours, in no small degree to his conscientious and habitual observance of the sabbath. “O what a blessed day,” he says, “is the sabbath, which allows us a precious interval wherein to pause, to come out from the thickets of worldly concerns, and give ourselves up to heavenly and spiritual objects. Observation and my own experience have convinced me that there is a special blessing on a right employment of these intervals. One of their prime objects, in my judgment, is, to strengthen our impressions of invisible things, and to induce a habit of living much under their influence.” “O what a blessing is Sunday, interposed between the waves of worldly business, like the Divine path of the Israelites through Jordan.” “Blessed be God who hath appointed the sabbath, and interposed these seasons of recollection.” “It page 47 is a blessed thing to have the Sunday devoted to God.” “There is nothing in which I would recommend you to be more strictly conscientious than in keeping the sabbath holy. By this I mean not only abstaining from all unbecoming sports, and common business, but from consuming time in frivolous conversation, paying or receiving visits, which, among relations, often leads to a sad waste of this precious day. I can trully declare, that to me the sabbath has been invaluable.”

In writing to his friend, he says:—“I am strongly impressed by the recollection of your endeavour to prevail upon the lawyers to give up Sunday consultations, in which poor Romilly would not concur.” What became of this same poor Romilly,* who would not consent, even at the solicitation of his friend, to give up Sunday consultations? He lost his reason, and terminated his own life. Four years afterwards Castlereagh came to the same untimely end. When Wilberforce heard of it, he exclaimed: “Poor fellow! He was certainly deranged; the effect, probably, of continual wear of mind. The strong impression on my mind is, that it is the effect of the non-observance of the sabbath; both as to abstracting from politics and from the constant recurring of the same reflections, and as correcting the false views of worldly things and bringing them down to their true diminutiveness.

“Poor Castlereagh! He was the last man in the world who appeared to be likely to be carried away into the commission of such an act; so cool, so self-possessed.” “It is curious to hear the newspapers speaking of incessant application to business; forgetting that by the weekly admission of a day of rest, which our Maker has enjoined, our faculties would be preserved from this constant strain.” Being reminded again, by the death of Castlereagh, of the case of Sir Samuel Romilly, he said: “If he had suffered his mind to enjoy such occasional remission, page 48 it is highly probable that the strings of life would never have snapped from over tension. Alas! alas! poor fellow!”

A distinguished merchant, long accustomed to extensive observation and experience, and who had gained an uncommon knowledge of men, said:—“When I see one of my apprentices or clerks riding out on the sabbath, on Monday I dismiss him.— Such an one cannot be trusted.”

Facts echo the declaration, “Such an one cannot be trusted.” He is naturally no worse than others; but he casts off fear, lays himself open to the assaults of the adversary, and rejects the means of Divine protection. He ventures unarmed into the camp of the enemy, and is made a demonstration to the world of the great truth, that “he that trusteth to his own heart is a fool.” Not a man in Christendom, whatever his character or standing, can knowingly and presumptuously trample on the sabbath, devoting it to worldly business, travelling, pleasure, or amusement, and not debase his character, increase his wickedness, and augment the danger that he will be abandoned of God, and given up to final impenitency and ruin.

A father, whose son was addicted to riding out for pleasure on the sabbath, was told that, if he did not stop it, his son would be ruined. He did not stop it, but sometimes set the example of riding out on pleasure himself. His son became a man, was placed in a responsible situation, and intrusted with a large amount of property. Soon he was a defaulter, and absconded. In a different part of the country he obtained another responsible situation, and was again intrusted with a large amount of property. Of that he defrauded the owner, and fled again. He was apprehended, tried, convicted, and sent to prison.— After years spent in solitude and labour, he wrote a letter to his father, and, after recounting his course of crime, he added, That was the effect of breaking the sabbath when I was a boy.

A man who ridiculed the idea that God makes a page 49 difference in his providence between those who yield visible obedience to his laws and those who do not, had been engaged, on a certain sabbath, in gathering his crops into his barn. The next week he had occasion to take fire out into his field in order to burn some brush. He left it, as he supposed, safely, and went in to dinner. The wind took the fire and carried it into his barn-yard, which was filled with combustibles, and before he was aware of it the flames were bursting out of his barn. He arose in amazement, saw that all was lost, and fixing his eye on the curling flames, stood speechless. Then raising his finger, and pointing to the rising column of fire, he said, with solemn emphasis, “That is the finger of God.”

* Sir Samuel Romilly, Solicitor-General of England during the administration of Fox, who terminated his life November 2, 1818.