The Lord’s Day

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Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

I feel as if God had, by giving the Sabbath, given fifty-two springs in every year.

Edward Reynolds:

It is a desperate hazard . . . to be weary of one sabbath here, and yet presume upon the expectation of an eternity which shall be nothing else but sabbath.

Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments, pp. 94-95:

“When the falling dust of the world has clogged the wheels of our affections, that they can scarce move towards God, the Sabbath comes, and oils the wheels of our affections, and they move swiftly on. God has appointed the Sabbath for this end. On this day the thoughts rise to heaven, the tongue speaks of God, and is as the pen of a ready writer, the eyes drop tears, and the soul burns in love. The heart, which all the week was frozen, on the Sabbath melts with the word. The Sabbath is a friend to religion; it files off the rust of our graces; it is a spiritual jubilee, wherein the soul is set to converse with its Maker.”

Exodus 20:8-11:

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Isaiah 58:13-14:

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

Alexander Smellie, On the Hour of Silence, on a comparison between the Sabbath here and the eternal Sabbath:

There remaineth a Sabbatism for the people of God.

The Sabbath here brings release from task-work and solicitude; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it the very service will be repose and the very labour peace and joy. The irksomeness of toil will be gone for ever. The burdensomeness of care will not be felt again. Through all my duties I shall carry music in my heart.

The Sabbath here brings the sweet and solemn worship of God’s holy house; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it my praises will ring louder, and my prayers will have more thanksgiving and triumph in them than they could have meantime, and His truth will shine with brighter meaning and glow.

The Sabbath here brings happy communion with the saints; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it I shall walk in company with the seraphim, and with the redeemed taken from every country and kindred. O goodly fellowship! O banquet-hall of Christ, thronged by guests robed in fair linen clean and white!

The Sabbath here brings the sight by faith of my dear Lord’s face; but the eternal Sabbath — throughout it faith will give place to undimmed vision. My eyes will look into His. My hand will grasp His pierced hand. My feet will follow His blessed feet, through the sinless, sorrowless, deathless land.

Too soon the Sabbath on earth is ended and past. But the Sabbath of heaven has no ending at all. Its day never passes into night. Its glory lasts through cycle after cycle of blessedness. May the Lord of the Sabbath lead me to its consummate joy!

RPCNA Synod, 1910, Report on the Committee of the Sabbath:

The Sabbath is the mountain day between the weeks. Here Jesus is found teaching and pronouncing blessings. They, who will, may have this high day with Jesus, and enjoy His fellowship – the very essence of happiness. How rich and numerous the blessings that come to such! This mountain is strewn with precious gifts: comfort for the sad; pardon for the guilty; bread for the hungry; rest for the weary; riches for the poor; visions for the pure; society for the lonely; crowns for the humble; heaven for the persecuted; the Holy Spirit for all. What happy experiences the Sabbath brings to those who worship in the Spirit! What views of life, of destiny, of eternity! What stirrings of the soul, what incoming power, what feelings of holy awe, what consciousness of kinship with God! How the horizon bounds back, and life grows large! How near heaven seems to be! How real the Throne, the Lamb, the angels, and the Redeemed! Blessing upon blessing for the Sabbath-keeper. “Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keep the Sabbath” (Is. 56:2)!

Cotton Mather:

It hath been truly and justly observed, that our whole Religion fares according to our Sabbaths, that poor Sabbaths make poor Christians, and that a strictness in our Sabbaths inspires a Vigour into all our other duties.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne:

A well-spent Sabbath we feel to be a day of heaven upon earth. For this reason we wish our Sabbaths to be wholly given to God. We love to spend the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy. We love to rise early on that morning, and to sit up late, that we may have a long day with God. How many may know from this that they will never be in heaven! A straw on the surface can tell which way the stream is flowing. Do you abhor a holy Sabbath? Is it a kind of hell to you to be with those who are strict in keeping the Lord’s day? The writer of these lines once felt as you do. You are restless and uneasy. You say, “Behold what a weariness is it” “When will the Sabbath be gone, that we may sell corn?” Ah! soon, very soon, and you will be in hell. Hell is the only place for you. Heaven is one long, never-ending, holy Sabbath-day. There are no Sabbaths in hell.

Cursed is that gain, cursed is that recreation, cursed is that health, which is gained by criminal encroachments on this sacred day [the Lord’s Day]

John Willison:

Of all time Sabbath-time is the most precious and valuable; it being the time God has allotted and set apart for himself, and upon the improvement whereof the glory of God and salvation of our souls depend in a most peculiar manner; it being the day of special access to God, and of free commerce and correspondence between heaven and earth. It is heaven’s weekly market day, or God’s deal-day to the poor and needy; the day of access to God’s presence-chamber.

Hughes Oliphant Old:

The spirituality of the Lord’s Day is another cardinal feature of Reformed piety. While the beauty of the Christian understanding of the Lord’s Day has often been obscured by a sort of Sabbatarian legalism, there is something very profound about the biblical sign of the eighth day, the first day of the New Creation (John 20:1, 19, and 26). It was Jesus himself who reinterpreted the old Sabbath and established the Lord’s Day by meeting with his disciples for worship on the first day of the week (John 20:19 and 26). A few years ago I discovered a work of John Willison, minister in Dundee, Scotland, with the title “Treatise concerning the Sanctification of the Lord’s Day.” From this work I began to sense the spiritual vitality of the observance of the Lord’s Day as our spiritual ancestors understood it. Willison was obviously much more concerned with what one should do on the Lord’s Day than what one should not do. It was a day blessed with a benediction of peace and rest and quiet. It was a day devoted to prayer and works of charity.

John Dod:

Make the Sabbath the Market-Day for thy Soul: Lose not one Hour, but be either praying, conferring, or meditating: Think not thy own Thoughts: Let every Day have its Duties: Turn the Sermon heard into Matter of Prayer, Instruction into Petition, Reproof into Confession, Consolation into Thanksgiving: Think much of the Sermon heard, and make something of it all the Week long.

Philip Henry:

The happiness of heaven is the constant keeping of the Sabbath. Heaven is called a Sabbath, to make those who have Sabbaths long for heaven, and those who long for heaven love Sabbaths.

Thomas Watson:

The Sabbath is the Market-day of the Soul, the Cream of Time.

John Bunyan (Dying Sayings):

Make the Lord’s day the market for thy soul; let the whole day be spent in prayer, repetitions, or meditations; lay aside the affairs of the other part of the week; let thy sermon thou hast heard be converted into prayer. Shall God allow thee six days, and wilt thou not afford him one?

Sir William Blackstone:

A corruption of morals usually follows a profanation of the Sabbath.

William Bates:

The sabbath day, is a season for meditation. This should be the temper of every christian to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. On that day when our Saviour did arise from the earth, our souls should ascend to heaven.

Charles Spurgeon:

Money gained on Sabbath-day is a loss, I dare to say. No blessing can come with that which comes to us, on the devil’s back, by our willful disobedience of God’s law. The loss of health by neglect of rest, and the loss of soul by neglect of hearing the gospel, soon turn all seeming profit into real loss.

Samuel Wilberforce:

O what a blessing is Sunday, interposed between the waves of worldly business like the divine path of the Israelites through the sea.

Sir Walter Scott:

Give the world one-half of Sunday and you will soon find that religion has no strong hold on the other half.

J. C. Ryle, Anglican bishop of Liverpool:

Let a man lay the foundation of having no Sabbath and I am never surprised if he finished with the top-stone of no God.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Matthew Hale:

I have found by a strict and diligent observation, that a due observance of the duties of the Lord’s day hath ever had joined to it a blessing upon the rest of my time, and the week that hath been so begun hath been blessed and prosperous to me; and on the other side, when I have been negligent of the duties of this day, the rest of the week hath been unsuccessful and unhappy to my own secular employments the week following. This I write, not lightly or inconsiderately, but upon long and sound observation and experience.

Henry Scudder, The Christian’s Daily Walk:

Neither is there any ordinary means of gaining strength and grace in the inward man like this, of due observing the sabbath. For this is God’s great mart or fair-day for the soul, on which you may buy of Christ wine, milk, bread, marrow and fatness, gold, white raiment, eye salve, — even all things which are necessary, and which will satisfy, and cause the soul to live. It is the special day of proclaiming and sealing of pardons to penitent sinners. It is God’s special day of publishing and sealing your patent of eternal life. It is a blessed day, sanctified for all these blessed purposes.

J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 2, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1998], 120. {Luke 13:10-17}:

Let us never forget that our feelings about Sundays are sure tests of the state of our souls. The person who can find no pleasure in giving God one day in the week, is manifestly unfit for heaven. Heaven itself is nothing but an eternal Sabbath. If we cannot enjoy a few hours in God’s service once a week in this world, it is plain that we could not enjoy an eternity in His service in the world to come. . . . They shall find Christ and a blessing while they live, and Christ and glory when they die.

Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 3:

Observation [of the Fourth Commandment re: Lord’s Day, or Christian Sabbath] not only consists in resting — as if that were the whole or part of its observance. It also does not consist in serving God in a more spiritual manner than on other days. Neither does it consist in a narrow-minded ‘touch not and taste not,’ nor in asking, ‘May I do this or may I do that?’ The sabbath is not a snare, but rather a day of delight–not, however, for sinful flesh. Those who are spiritually minded will almost always know what either favors or impedes the spirituality of the sabbath and the hallowing of this day.

William Ames:

Our souls are burdened for six days with worldly occupations in some way, being turned towards the earth. It was instituted by the most wise counsel of God that at least on the seventh day we may lift up our souls anew, being turned towards heaven, and that by all means our souls are roused, and in their own degree they are restored. This restoration is necessary because we even contract filthiness from those worldly occupations; they are scrubbed completely clean and we are cleansed by these exercises of sanctification. While many occurrences happen on other days that bear their own difficulties and temptations with them, on this day we are outfitted and fortified, so that it occurs like a day for mustering as far as our spiritual arms are concerned; like a day of purgation with respect to putting off our filth; and like a day of our ascension into heaven, to the extent that faith and charity, with the rest of the heavenly gifts, are ascending in our hearts.

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