I come now to show you how the Sabbath is to be sanctified. The (Westminster) Catechism tells us, “It is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.”
Grace must be stirred up to exercise, otherwise the Sabbath will be a burden. The heart should be withdrawn from all earthly things, and intent upon the duty of the day. We must leave the ass at the foot of the mount, that we may converse with God. Love and admiration are special ingredients here. The two great works of creation and redemption, which we are particularly called to mind on the Lord’s Day, are calculated to excite our love and admiration. We should have a peculiar delight in the day, and the duties of it, exchanging our lawful pleasures on other days with spiritual pleasures on this.
The Sabbath rest resembles that of heaven, which is a rest without a rest, wherein the soul is most busy and active, serving the Lord without weariness. If it were enough, we were obliged to sanctify the Sabbath no more than beasts, who only rest that day. The rest enjoined is not commanded for itself, but for the holy exercises of the day.
Now, it is the whole day that is thus to be spent; i.e. the natural day. Not that people are bound to be in these exercises without intermission all the twenty-four hours; for God has not made the Sabbath to be a burden to man, but that we should continue God’s work as we do our own on other days, where we are allowed necessary rest and refreshment by sleep in the night.
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. This note is put upon it.
- Because of the great weight of the thing, the Sabbath being the bond of all religion. It is God’s deal-day, wherein his people may expect furniture for all the week.
- Because we are very apt to forget it, Ezek. 22:26. There is less light of nature for this than other commands. It restrains our liberty in those things that we do all the week. And Satan, knowing the importance of it for our souls, that it is a day of blessing, sets on us to forget it. If you would then sanctify the Sabbath, (1.) Remember it before it come; on the last day of the week, on the Saturday’s evening, laying by work in a timely mannerto prepare for it, Luke 23:54. (2.) Remember it when it is come; rise early on the Sabbath morning, Ps. 92:2. The morning hath enough ado: worship God secretly and privately: prepare yourselves for ordinances, wrestle with God for His presence thereto, that He may graciously assist the minister in preaching, and you in hearing, and may bless the word to you. Remember it while it is going on, that it is God’s day, a day of blessing, and ply diligently the work of the day, not only in time of the public work, but after, till the day be finished. (3.) Remember it when it is over, to see what good you have got by it; to bless Him for any smiles of His face, or manifestations of His grace; and to mourn over your failures, and apply to the blood of Christ for pardon and cleansing. Thomas Boston