Uncomfortable Thoughts About the Lord’s Day

8 April 2021

A conversation between Mr. Attentive and Mr. Wiseman from John Bunyan’s Life and Death of Mr. Badman (1680)


Attentive: Does not God, by instituting of a day unto holy duties, make great proof how the hearts and inclinations of people do stand to holiness of heart, and a conversation in holy duties?

Wiseman: Yes doubtless; and a man shall show his heart and his life for what they are, more by one Lord’s Day, than by all the days of the week besides. The reason is, because on the Lord’s Day there is a special restraint laid upon men as to thoughts and life, more than upon other days of the week besides. Also, men are enjoined on that day to a stricter performance of holy duties, and restraint of worldly business, than other days. Therefore, if their hearts incline not naturally to good, now they will show it, now they will appear what they are. The Lord’s Day is a kind of an Emblem of the heavenly Sabbath above, and it makes manifest how the heart stands to the perpetuity of Holiness, more than to be found in a transient duty does.

On other days a man may be in and out of holy duties, and all in a quarter of an hour; but now, the Lord’s Day is, as it were, a day that enjoins to one perpetual duty of holiness: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, (which by Christ is not abrogated, but changed, into the First of the week) not as it was given in particular to the Jews, but as it was sanctified by Him from the Beginning of the world; and therefore is a greater proof of the frame and temper of a man’s heart, and does more make manifest to what he is inclined, than does his other performance of duties. Therefore God puts great difference between them that truly call (and walk in) this day as holy, and count it honorable, upon the account that now they have an opportunity to show how they delight to honor Him; in that they have, not only an hour, but a whole Day to show it in. I say, he puts great difference between these, and that other sort that say, “When will the Sabbath be gone, that we may be at our worldly business?” The first he calls a Blessed man, but brands the other as an unsanctified worldling. And indeed, to delight ourselves in God’s service upon his Holy Days, gives a better proof of a sanctified nature, than to grudge at the coming, and to be weary of the holy duties of such days.

Attentive: There may be something in what you say, for he that cannot abide to keep one day holy to God, to be sure he hath given a sufficient proof that he is an unsanctified man; and as such, what should he do in Heaven? Since it is the place where a perpetual Sabbath is to be kept to God; I say, to be kept for ever and ever! And for ought I know, one reason why one day in seven, has been by our Lord set apart unto holy Duties for men, may be to give them conviction that there is enmity in the hearts of sinners to the God of Heaven. For he that hates holiness, hates God himself. They pretend to love God, and yet love not a holy day, and yet love not to spend that day in one continued act of holiness to the Lord. They had as good say nothing as to call him Lord, Lord, and yet not do the things that he says.

 
 
 
 
 
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