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soon they run to seed, and how a score may spring up from the seed of a single one. So is it with vices. They too shed their seed, and increase and multiply in such a way, that a man who is indulging in any one evil practice now, will be most fortunate if he has not a couple such by this time twelvemonth, and half a dozen more the year after. Now of all the commandments the one that people are the aptest to make light of, and to begin by breaking, is this one which commands us to keep the sabbath holy. Those who would think it a shameful thing to lie or to steal, those who would think it a horrible thing to commit murder or adultery, young lads more especially, will idle about on Sunday, and waste the precious hours which God has given them to learn his will, and to pray to him for strength that they may do it. They know not what they are doing. They think there is little harm in this. All those shortsighted, worldly-minded persons too, who look no further than the immediate outward consequences of an action, cannot see much harm in it. "Poor lads! (they will say,) they have been hard at work all the week: why should not they have the Sunday to amuse themselves?" And yet this one fault,—let me rather say, this one sin, of sabbath-breaking, has been the mother of thousands and thousands of
crimes. Half the criminals, whose lives pay the forfeit of their offenses, half the criminals who end their days on the gallows, begin their career of wickedness with breaking the sabbath. By keeping away from church, they deprive themselves of all instruction: they gradually lose all knowledge and all fear of God: they cease to pray for his help, and so they are left without help: temptation comes upon temptation; they fall from one wickedness to another; until at length even in this world justice overtakes them, and gives them over to a shameful death.
On the other hand it is by endeavouring heartily and diligently to keep the whole of God's law in all its breadth and fulness, that we shall best gain strength to keep any one part of it. For all the commandments support and uphold and strengthen each other, and form a fence round such as continue within them, through which the fouler temptations can hardly enter. When a man strives thus to serve God with his whole heart, God will grant such a man grace to serve him better and better. Him who is faithful, if he be in truth faithful, in a little, he will enable to be faithful in more. While they who break the sabbath, lose the knowledge and the fear of God, and are hurried on from one wickedness to another; they who hallow God's holy day, they
who spend it reverently and devoutly, in learning his will, and in prayer and thanksgiving, will grow in the knowledge of God, will increase in his love, and will be enabled to mount from grace to grace. Thus will their earthly sabbaths prepare and fit them for worshiping and serving him hereafter in the everlasting rest of the blessed, in the eternal sabbath of heaven.
THE GOOD OF THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE
DEUTERONOMY VI. 24.
The Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as at this day.
IN my last two sermons I have spoken to you the first four commandments, which make up what is commonly called the first table of the law. It is so called, because the commandments given to Moses were engraved on two tables of stone. On the first table were engraved the first four commandments, which relate to our duty toward God, -that we are to have no other gods but him only, -that we are to abstain from every kind of idolworship,-that we are to reverence his name and
his day, and to honour them, and keep them holy. These are the commandments of the first table, which contains our duty to God. Were we all so many hermits, made to live each by himself, having no ties or dealings with other men, the first table of the law would perhaps have been sufficient; as in that case man would have owed no duties, except to God only. God however did not form men to live alone, but to live together in society. A man can hardly contrive, even if he wishes it, to withdraw himself altogether from the fellowship of his brother men. A man can hardly say to himself, "I will live quite alone." Look at the state in which we come into the world. Every man is born a member of some family. Every man is born subject to some government. Far the greater part of men are born with the necessity of betaking themselves, when they grow up, to some trade or calling for their livelihood. Even the few who can afford to live without a profession, must have estates or property of some kind to look after: and the care of that property, the business which must needs arise out of it, cannot but bring them into contact with their fellow men. Thus has God in the order of his providence united every man to his fellows by a triple tie,—by the tie of family,—by thetie of country,—and lastly, by the tie of necessity for all who are not very rich,