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it clean. It is not a single ploughing, nor a single turnip-crop, nor a single hoeing, that will do. Yet there is not a field in all England which has been neglected half so much as the soul of the habitual swearer. It must needs take time therefore to root the habit out of him; and nothing but care and time with God's blessing will do it. But if a man prays against the habit, his conscience after a time will be awakened he will no longer take God's name in vain without thinking of it. By degrees he will get to check the rising oath: and at last his tongue will unlearn its swearing, and be ready only for blessing and for prayer. Happy, happy man in that case! yea, happy, as he now is miserable! He will have gained the greatest of all victories, a victory over himself. He will have broken through the snare in which the Evil One held him, and will have gained a deliverance from the most fearful peril. Instead of the language of devils, he will have learnt the language of angels, and even in this world will speak the words of heaven.
As the third commandment commands us to hallow God's holy name, so does the fourth command us to hallow his holy day. How? By abstaining from all manner of work. "Six days shall ye labour, and do all that ye have to do: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God:
in it ye shall do no manner of work."
of labour, under which man was to earn and eat his bread, was taken off for one day in seven for all ranks and classes of mankind, the poor as well as the rich, nay even for the beasts of the field, which man employs in his service. Think a little what a blessing this is to the poor, that God by express command has kept one day out of every seven for them, on which they are to rest from their toil, a day on which their masters have no claim on their services, and are bound to require nothing from them, beyond what is absolutely needful. This, I say, is a very great blessing to the poor; and loving the poor, as my master Christ has taught me to do, most heartily do I thank God for it. For wherever Sunday is kept as it should be, there the poor cannot be entirely ground down: they cannot be made slaves of, as they have been in so many heathen countries. They have one day in seven which they can call their own,a day on which the distinction between master and servant is, comparatively speaking, laid aside, and we all meet together in the house of God as brethren and as fellow Christians. This great blessing and privilege the poor owe to God and to his religion.
But God does not bestow his blessings on the poor alone, though it not seldom happens that the poor come in for the largest share of them. The
blessed rest of God's holy day is appointed not only for the poor, but also for the rich, if they will only let it be so. It is a day for the poor to rest from the work of their hands: it is a day for the rich to rest from the work of their heads, from the anxieties of worldly thoughts, from the troubles and cares of business. Only too many of them will not enter into this rest. They have been walking so long through the rough places of the earth, that, when they come home, the mud is sticking to their shoes, and the burs and brambles to their clothes; and they have grown so used to them, that they feel quite uncomfortable if they are taken off. So besotted are many persons with the love of the world, that, instead of flinging all its cares away from them, in order that they may enjoy the blessed rest of the Sunday, they set apart their Sunday for looking over and casting up their accounts. Though they cannot blow or stir the fire in Mammon's furnace, they are determined at all events to snuff in its smoke.
God, my brethren, has called us away altogether from the service of Mammon on the Sunday. On this day, he has said, ye shall be wholly mine : Mammon shall have no part in you.
But when he
called us away from the service of Mammon, it was not that we should pass from it to the service of Belial, or to the service of Moloch. We
are to rest on the sabbath-day from all manner of work, not merely from all work in the service of Mammon, but also from all work in the service of Belial, and in the service of Moloch.
many spend the rest of the holy sabbath in drinking and gaming, and all manner of reveling, the natural end of which is quarrels and brawls! How many, after coming to church in the morning, go and pass their evening at the alehouse, thus shewing that the worship they have been pretending to offer up to God, has been nothing but a shameful mockery! How many squander the chief part of the day at the alehouse, without coming to church at all! Sooth to say, I verily believe, there is more drunkenness, more swearing, more rioting, more licentiousness of all kinds in England on a Sunday, than on any other day of the week.
Now how does all this come to pass? words, what is the reason that in this Christian land Sunday, instead of being kept holier than other days, should by so many persons be kept as the most unholy day of all the seven? The reason is, that, whereas God ordained Sunday to be a day of rest, the world has turned it into a day of idleness and idleness is ever the fruitful mother of vices. Sunday however is not meant to be a day of idleness. It is a day of rest from the
labours of the world, in order that it may be a day holy to God, that it may be given up altogether to his service, that it may be employed in learning his will, in praying to him, and in praising him.
And here I would remind you how all God's commandments hang together; how they are knit and woven together like a fine web, wherein you cannot loosen a single stitch, without danger of unraveling the whole. We know from St James (ii. 10), that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” This he is, even if he were to keep all the rest of the law. But can any one do this? Can any one be sure that, while he breaks the law in one point, he shall be able to keep all the rest of it? So far from this, that, if a man lives in the breach of any one of God's commandments, if he allows himself to indulge in any one sin, none can tell where he will stop. There is no letting any one devil into our souls, without the risk of his going and fetching seven other devils wickeder than himself: and the purer the house may hitherto have been, the more eager will they be to come and lodge in it. Thus was it when David allowed himself to look with impure eyes upon Bathsheba: the lust of the eye led to adultery; and adultery led on to murder. You know how weeds spread, how