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ivals of fo early a to the Law; nor why the Apostle and beggarly Things. : Apoftle, termed ppertaining to that d beggarly in ComCHRIST was the 'd from the Jewish into his own WorLas appertaining to ppertaining to the the Obfervance of ood as a returning is obferved not as w of Chriß. I fay, ugh Chrift directly as there is in them the Faith and Piety are observed not as able Cuftoms; they at general Maxim Maxim of common se to Edification. nft the Obfervation of Scripture AuthoReason, confider'd elves ufeful and prog to thofe good Efought in Reason to thofe bad ones of the Occafion, great ft them. That our n'd into Seafons of orious and a shamee, which those who ment, never fail to bjection reft, where Appointments themsilty of fuch Abufes.
The Cafe was not better among the Jews, who, as the Prophet complains, rofe up early in the Morning, that they might follow firong Drink, and continued until Night, till Wine enflamed them; and the Harp and the Viol, the Tabret and Pipe, and Wine were in their Feafts, but they regarded not the Work of the Lord, nor confider'd the Operations of his Hands*. No doubt the Wisdom of God forefaw thefe Abuses; and yet, thefe Abuses notwithstanding, he appointed them Festivals; which fhould have been a little better confidered by those who have infifted upon the like Abuses among ourselves as a Reafon against the Expediency or Lawfulness of our Festivals. They were not, you fee, of that Weight with God; and why fhould they have more Weight with Men? Or what will there be left for us to do, if nothing is to be ordered which may be perverted to a wrong End? If we confider what Ufe Multitudes make of the Reft of the Sabbath, it must be acknowledged that they would be much better employed, if they were fent to work in the Field. Will you therefore plead that the Lord's Day ought to be abolished, and preferibe that all Men fhould be kept conftantly to Labour, in order to keep them fober? Abfurd! Vacations from Labour you must have, whether you had Festivals, or whether you had none. If Religion had not miniftred fuch Opportunities, Civil Policy muft; for Men are not to be used worse than Beafts. Let any reasonable Man judge then which are moft proper, Vacations from Labour appointed for Idleness, and Pleasure; or Vacations from Labour, appointed for the Worfhip of God. Whatever be the Abufes which our more folemn Festivals are fubject to, no one will fay that thofe Abuses arise from their being religious Festivals ; or that the People are not put into a much better Way, by being called upon on fuch Seasons to the Exercifes of Piety, than if, without any fuch Opportunities vouchfafed, they had been left to difpofe of their Time (to fay the leaft) in an unprofitable Manner. * Halab y. 32.
In a few Words; as there are many who employ thefe Seasons ill, fo there are many who spend them well; and why muft good Men be deprived of any Means which tend to their Improvement in Piety and a good Life, because bad ones will make that bad Ufe of them which they generally make of every Thing elfe?
There is but one good Use (fo far as I know) that can be made of this Objection; and that is, to fhew Chriftians how much it concerns them to avoid those Irregularities which give fo great and fo juft an Offence, and to improve to the utmost, the Advantages which are fet before them. The Appointment of Feftivals in the Chriftian Church is a very wife Provifion, if we will make a wife Use of it; and if we will not, the Blame lies at our Doors. A Fault there will be, when Festivals are multiplied beyond Reafon and Difcretion; in which Refpect the Church of Rome is much to be blamed, which by taking in fuch Numbers of modern Saints (many of whom were chiefly remarkable by their Zeal for the Corruptions of that Communion) have made their Festivals burdenfome. Our Reformation hath lopt off thefe Superfluities, and left us nothing to commemorate, but what is well worth our Remembrance; fome. great and rema kable Occurrences, I mean, relating to the Oeconomy of Chrift in the Flesh, and the Examples of Apostles or Apoftolical Men, famous for the Parity of their Faith, as well as for the Conftancy of their Virtue. Whether this was not to observe the golden Mean, or thofe are rather to be commended, who, together with the Superfition of Popery, have thrown out the Piety of the ancient Church, I shall leave all serious Chriftians to confider.
As the Appointment of Festivals in the of the DAILY Christian Church was a Custom borrow. SERVICE. ed from the Jervis Feftivals; fo the Appointment of our daily Service was taken from their daily Sacrifice. And a great Advantage, no doubt, it is, to have the Opportunity
Opportunity of worshipping God daily adminiftred to us. For daily Worship is a duly Improvement, if we perform it with due Serioufnefs. I do not apprehend that in fettling the daily Service, it was expected that every Christian fhould attend daily. For we have Bodies to be taken Care of, as well as Souls, to which fuch a Degree of Care and Application is frequently neceffary, as is inconfiftent with a daily Attendance. In this Cafe we should remember what the Scripture faith, I will have Mercy, and not Sacrifice, Matt. ix. 13. And -If any provide not for bis own, and Specially thofe of his own Houfe, he hath denied the Faith, and is worse than an Infidel, 1 Tim. v. 8. But if many are born to earn their Bread by their daily Labour, there are others to whom Providence has been fo indulgent as to have left them little more to do than to enjoy what the Labour of others has provided for them: And can fuch as thefe give so proper a Teftimony of their Thankfulness to God, as by devoting a Share of their Time dary to his Service? I do by no Means confider Rich Men, as Men of no Business For Wealth was never intended as a Support for Idlenefs, tho' that Ufe is too often made of it by many. The Rich Man may serve his Country as a Magiftrate; his Neighbour as a Patron and Friend; and, fetting these afide, there are a Variety of Avoca tions which attend upon large Fortunes, which may afford just and reasonable Excuses. But I confefs I have no Notion, but that all, whofe Conditions fet them free from great Hardships, might frequently find Leifure to attend upon the daily Service, if they were not over-borne by evil Cuftoms, and had not gotten a Habit of excufing themfelves, by every little Pretence which offers itfelf as a Handle to lay hold of: As if God was never to be worshipped but when we can find nothing else to do! In the Concerns of this World, we act by another Spirit. In buying and in felling; in eating and in drinking; in working and in playing; in every Thing in which our Profit or our Pleasure is concerned; we are wont to use much
Forecast, and to take Care, fo far as is poffible, that each may have its proper Seafon, and that great Concerns may not interfere with little ones. Let us but once fhew the fame Difcretion in the Business of our Souls, and I am greatly deceived, if in moft Parishes the daily Service might not be perform'd with fo much Decency at least, that when the Minifter comes to do his Office,, he shall not want those who will Say AMEN to his Prayers, or giving of Thanks; nor feem as if he were speaking to the Walls.
I do not fo much wonder at this Neglect in many Country Parishes, which confift chiefly of labouring People, from whom a daily Attendance upon the publick Worship, (as I hinted before) is not to be expected. But in large and populous Places, where Opportunities daily offer themselves, and where there are Multitudes who are forced to be at a good deal of Expence and Contrivance to find out Ways of fpending their Time, it seems to be entirely without Excufe: And one cannot without Grief observe, that when all Places of Refort for Diverfion and Pleasure are thronged, the Houfes of God are left defolate. As this is the 'Effect of a great and general Corruption of Manners, fo it portends the utter Ruin and Downfal of Christianity, if the good Providence of God does not fignally interpofe to awaken us into a more sober Senfe of ourselves. It is the Bufinefs of Infidelity to nurfe the Vices and the Follies of Men, as it is the End of the Gospel to root up and deftroy them; so that in Proportion as our Tafte for Virtue and Goodnefs declines, we shall always be prepared to receive bad Impreffions from those who are not wanting every where to infinuate irreligious Principles; which will have fo much the more certain and speedy Effect, as we must be supposed, under fuch a State of Mind as this, to be less fortified by that Grace from above which is neceffary to our Continuince in well-doing. The lefs Reverence we have for God; the leis we are } awed by the Dread of his Majetty, (which Principles will naturally rife or fall, as we are more diligent or