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Should the most High justify a sinner, persisting in his sins, he would, by so doing, join with the sinner, in reproaching his own law, he would sink the respectability of his government, and would bring a stain on his own moral character; for who will regard his law if he disregards it himself? And who could conceive of infinite purity in one, who should give sinners such encouragements in wick
pious enjoy the society of the | licensed depravity. This surely holy inhabitants of heaven ? A is a sufficient reason to justify discovery of the true God, and God, in refusing the unholy a the character of his saints, would pardon. make the unsanctified and ungodly shrink away from such a God, and from such society, as criminals shrink away with conscious guilt and baseness, from the presence of men of probity and of exemplary excellence.They would fly from the abodes of the blessed. It is impossible, in the nature of things, that men, without holiness, should enjoy heaven, or the things of heaven. What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteous-edness? ness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial?
Such unsanctified creatures are not only incapable of the society of the holy, but are utterly unfit for it; they would be an
And there would be a mani-offence to the holy, if they were fest impropriety in receiving the unholy into favor, because their impiety and wickedness afford the same reason, why God should continue to abhor them, and make them the monuments of his wrath, as if they were not supposed to be justified, for they are not reformed.
admitted among them. They would corrupt and embroil heaven with their impieties and malignity. These reasons, without going into any further investigation of the subject, it is presumed, will be acknowledged sufficient to settle the matter, in every serious mind, that tho' If the unholy were pardoned, God does not justify the sinner, remaining in their total depra- on the credit of his own repen vity of heart, it would be attend-tance, faith and obedience, yet, ed with a consequence, which that God justifies such, and would indeed be matter of tri- only such, as by their own per umph to the wicked, but of in-sonal holiness, are made meet consolable affliction to the righ- to be partakers of the inheriteous. Christ would be a min- tance of the saints in lightister of sin, and the gospel, in- meet for the enjoyments, sociestead of being a doctrine accord- ty, service and happiness of ing to godliness, would be the heaven. only thing, which rebels would Therefore, tho' men are not desire, to free them from all justified by virtue of their goodthe restraints of conscience, theness, yet personal holiness is as terrors of the law, and the ap- indispensably necessary to jus- prehensions of the effects of di- tification by grace, as ever it vine justice. They might then was to justification by the works riot without fear, in every impi- of the law. Let the unholy ety and lust, which could please tremble. The gospel is a doc
trine according to godliness.-
It is also evident from the
Observations upon the religious
proof in favor of the religious duties of the table.
II. Point out the reasonableness and benefit of them. And III. Give some directions for the right performance of them.
I. Let us attend to the scripture proof in favor of the religious duties of the table. By the religious duties of the table, we mean an open and visible acknowledgment of God by praying to him for his blessing and thanking him for his mercies, at our family and social meals.
Christ, our great pattern has set us an example of these duties. This he did in those miraculous meals, when he fed thousands with a few loaves; and also when he sat down at a common meal with the two disciples at Emmaus. In these instances, it is evident, that it was an open and not a secret duty. It was a duty in which they all united; yet Christ is said to perform it, because he led in the duty and was the mouth of the whole. That this duty was not to be confined to Christ himself, is evident from the example of his servant Paul, when on board the prison ship. "He took HERE is no branch of re- bread and gave thanks to God in ligious worship too inconpresence of them all, and when siderable to merit our attention. he had broken it he began to There are various ways in which eat." Paul's giving thanks was we are allowed to express our not done secretly with himself, dependence upon God, and prof- as it would have been, had he it by drawing near unto him. been eating alone; but it was a Those religious duties which meal in which they all united : accompany our common meals therefore he gave thanks to God are a part of the worship which in presence of them all. The way we owe to Almighty God. A in which the apostle attempted few thoughts on this subject to reconcile the weak and strong may help to perfect the man of believers to each other, in Rom. God, and furnish him more tho- xiv. 6. was to remind them of a roughly to every good work. practice which was common at It is proposed all their tables, whether they ate 1. To collect the scripture herbs or meat. The practice
was that of giving God thanks. The same practice seems to be alluded to 1 Cor. x. 30.-also 1 Tim. iv. 3, 4, 5.
ceives a gift, it is then peculiarly
The proof, which has now been adduced, is all collected from the new testament; but we need not doubt but that it was a duty, practised by the pious, before Christ came. There are the same reasons for the duty in every age. One or two passages now occur to my mind in the old testament, which appear to imply the duty now recommended. "When thou hast eaten, and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God,ceiving that bounty which feeds for the good land which he hath given thee." Deut. viii. 10."For the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice, and afterwards they eat that be bidden" 1 Sam. ix. 13. Thanksgiving at our meals being made to appear clearly a scriptural duty, we proceed
him, expresses any such sense of obligation to his earthly benefactor, we should suppose was a very ungrateful wretch. Without gratitude in the heart, he might express it with his tongue; but when it is in the heart, out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak.
Those who love their dependence on God, and who feel thanktul to this great benefactor, will rejoice to take every suitable opportunity, to acknowledge that all their mercies flow from him. And what a suitable time, we have for this when we gather around the table of his bounty. Here we see our Creator open
II. To show the reasonableness and benefit of the duty. a duty can be learned from scripture command or example, we should practise it, whether we can see the good arising from it or not; but the duty now in question is not only pointed out in the bible, but is clearly our reasonable service, and is attended with beneficial conse-ing his hand repeatedly to supquences.
The reasonableness of the duty arises out of our entire dependence upon God. If we are entirely dependent, we ought to feel it; and since we have tongues, we ought to express it. Meal times are suitable seasons to express our dependence upon God. It is proper, that a poor beggar should always feel his dependence upon and obligation to his benefactor; and when he re
ply the wants of his dependent and unworthy creatures. All we see upon the table is of his own providing. The animals upon which we feed are his. The bread grew upon his earth. It was brought forward by the influence of his sun and by the rain which he caused to descend. But some man will say, It was I who sowed it, and I labored hard to gather it in.-True, but who made thee capable of sowing and
2. The duties of the table, being duly performed at every meal, tend to make a family more serious and orderly.
3. A religious duty before and
reaping? Who gave thee health | feel and express our dependence, and strength, to be thus employ-so it is of great use to us to do it, ed, while at the same time thy and that frequently. Table duneighbor lay groaning upon his ties are oftener repeated than bed, and could not go into his family prayer, and come in befield, though as willing to be tween those more lengthy adthere as thou wast? We ought dresses to our Creator, to refresh to be no less thankful to God, for our minds with his mercy and the food with which our tables our own needs. are covered, than though it descended upon them by a miracle. We may say to God, in view of all this provision, with the strictest propriety, "for all things come of thee." There is noth-after our meals has a tendency to ing of our own upon our table. Let us also remember, that all this bounty is most justly forfeited by our sin. Can we be so unreasonable, as to sit down and eat and drink, and rise up and not confess our own únworthiness, and acknowledge his great goodness? If any should say, We do it in our hearts but not openly; it may be replied, this is suitable if you eat by yourselves, but not if you eat in company with others. We are social creatures-we should be so in our worship, as well as in other things. If we unite in receiving divine bounty, we should unite in expressing a sense of divine goodness. If all this is kept secret in our hearts, God is not visibly glorified. We are required not only with one mind, but with one mouth to glo-gether. rify God.
The reasonableness of openly giving thanks to God at our meals is plain. Some of the advantages of this reasonable service will be hinted at.
1. It does much towards keeping up in our minds a sense of the goodness of God, and of our dependence upon him. As it is reasonable, that we should
prevent intemperance. It brings an awe upon the mind, and makes us afraid to abuse these divine gifts. The least degree of intemperance, even in eating, tends to unfit our minds for de votional exercises. This is calculated to make us careful, while sitting at our meal, not to unfit ourselves to give thanks at the close of it.
4. Table duties, rightly performed, have a happy influence upon table conversation. This is a matter of no inconsiderable importance. Allowing fifteen minutes to each meal, three meals a day will consume three quarters of an hour in every twenty four. This is no inconsiderable part of that time, in which the members of a family have opportunity to converse toThis time ought to be filled up with profitable disdom of God should not be forThe things of the kinggotten at our common tables. And will not the religious duties of the table have a tendency to introduce religious conversation ? Is not the polite custom (which is introduced even into some praying families) of neglecting religious duties at our afternoon tea, an inlet to trifling discourse?
Why should God be disowned at this more than any other meal? III. We now wait for some directions for the right performance of the duties of the table.
less and trifling manner. Not only the one who leads in this exercise, but all who are around the table, and even all who are in the room should be solemn and devout. They should strive to have their hearts go up to God with the words which are uttered.
Direction 4. It appears to me a matter of considerable con sequence, that the person lead
Direction 1. Let these duties be performed in a decent and orderly manner. Let the family, at least all who eat together, be assembled around the table before the blessing is craved, and not retire, unless something very special call for it, before the re-ing in table duties should seek turning of thanks. Let the children, whether at table or not, be taught to keep perfectly still, while the Most High is addressed, however short the address may be.
to avoid a perfect sameness. perfectly new form of blessing and thanks at each meal cannot be expected, nor desired. The same occasion will repeatedly call for the same petitions and thanksgivings. The duties being short, there is not that room for variety, which there is in longer prayers, (for these are in reality nothing less than short prayers.) Still there may be a considerable variation even in these short exercises. If you ask what is the use of a variety? I answer, it is important to keep up the attention of the worshippers. A perfect uniformity wears us out. It prevents devotion in the mind of the one who speaks. If a man always repeats one prayer, without the least variation, it does not en
Direction 2. Let these, and all other addresses to God in social prayer, be spoken with an audible voice, so that it shall not be difficult for those who join to hear every word which is spoken. Some have been guilty of a great fault in this respect; they have spoken with so low a voice in this duty, that however well they may have spoken to God, others were not edified.We ought also to avoid the other extreme, which is a loud tone of voice. A strained voice sounds peculiarly unnatural at a table, where all the worshippers are within a few feet of each other.gage his own attention. He is in Direction 3. Strive to be re- danger, like the school boy, who ally devotional in these duties. has said his piece an hundred A spirit of devotion is indispen- times, of hardly noticing what sably necessary. Leave this out, he says, or the force of his own and all we do is but as a smoke in expressions. Besides, this way the nose. The Apostle directs, of worshipping leaves no room "And whatsoever ye do, do it for the Spirit of God to make heartily as to the Lord." It is our minds fruitful in the matter a solemn thing for dust and ash- of prayer; whereas all the prayes to speak unto Him, who fills erful know, that they derive unimmensity, even if we utter but speakable benefit from the ana single petition. It is highly ointings of the Spirit in enlargdispleasing to God, to see us rushing their petitions, as well as into his presence in a thought- their hearts. It must greatly