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impoffible at one and the fame Time to discharge Variety of Duties.
Q. Is not the hallowing unto God more Days than one against the Meaning of the fourth Commandment, Six Days fhalt thou labour; whence fome argue, that it is no more lawful for human Authority to forbid working any of the fix Days, than to forbid the holy Obfervation of the Seventh?
A. By the Solemn Feafts which were established by God himself, each of them at least of a Week's Continuance, it is manifeft that [Six Days fhalt thou lb our] is no Commandment, but expreffes only an ordinary Permiffion of Working: For it could not be but that fome Days of these holy Feasts must be of the fix. And it is not to be thought God would contradict his own Commandment, by a contrary Institution. And therefore, when he comDeut. xiv. manded that Men fhould give the Tenth of their Increafe, he forbad not Free-will Offerings; fo when he commanded one Day in feven to be kept Holy, this hinders not the Church from hallowing to God other Days of the fix: As the Church of the Jews, to whom the Commandment was given, did in the Dedication of the Temple, the Feast of Purim, &c.
Q. Is not the Church of England's fymbolizing with the Church of Rome, in hallowing of Days, an Objection against the Obfervation of them?
A. I apprehend it is not; because Conformity to any Church, in fuch Inftitutions as tend to promote Piety, and are agreeable to Scripture and primitive Antiquity, no way deferves Cenfure : Neither is the Church of Rome blamable for hallowing of Days, but for grafting upon them such erroncous and fuperftitious Practices as are unknown to Scripture, and to the pureft Ages ofthe Church: For which Reason, and many more very substantial, we were forced to feparate from her Communion.
Q. But doth not the Abufe of Festivals to Intemperance
perance and Luxury, make it necessary to have them abolished?
A. I think this a very terrible Objection, fomewhat of the Nature of that of the fcandalous Lives of Chriftians against the Efficacy of the Chriftian Religion: But as that is an Objection not fo ftrong against Christianity, as it is fhameful to Chriftians; fo this perverting of Holy Seafons fhews only the greatest Depravity of Mankind, in turning their Food into Poifon; and no way reflects upon the Prudence and Piety of the Inftitution. For as they who are intemperately difpofed, do upon thefe Occafions turn Feafting, defigned for Hofpitality and Charity, into Luxury and Excefs; fo the fame Men treat the Lord's Day with as little Refpect, and make the Advantage of Rest and Leifure from their worldly Affairs only an Inftrument to promote their Pleasure and Diverfions. But I wifh Chriftians would lay this seriously to Heart, and retrieve the Honour of fuch Holy Seafons by the Exercises of Piety and Charity; left our fpiritual Governors fhould be forced to lay thefe Festivals afide, as it is certain the Ancient Church was to abolish even fome Apoftolical Rites, viz. the Agape and Kifs of Charity, through Men's obftinate Abuse of them.
Q. Whence arofe thofe Festivals in the Primitive Church which were kept in Commemoration of Martyrs?
A. This Practice feems to be founded upon the Exhortation of St. Paul to the Hebrews, who, to encourage them to Conftancy in the Faith, advifes them to be mindful of their Bishops, and Governors, who had preached to them the Gospel, and had fealed it with their Blood. Remember them, faith he, Heb. xiii. which bave the Rule over you, who have spoken unto 7. you the Word of God; whofe Faith follow, confidering the End of their Converfation. And it is not without Reason that St. Paul is thought thereby chiefly to hint at the Martyrdom of St. James the Bishop of
Jerufalem, who not long before had laid down his
Q. How did they use to obferve thefe Festivals?
Q. Were thefe annual Solemnities early prac-
A. It is certain they were very ancient, though when they firft began is not exactly known. In the A&t. Mar. Acts of the Martyrdom of St. Ignatius, we find that thofe that were Eye-witneffes of his Sufferings, for this Reafon published the Day of his Martyrdom, (which, according to learned Men, happened about the Year 110,) that the Church of Antioch might meet together at that Time to celebrate the Memory of fuch a valiant Combatant and Martyr of Chrift. After this we read of the Church of Smyrna's giving an Account of St. Polycarp's Martyrdom, (which
Hift. 1. 4.
was A. C. 168,) and of the Place where they had Eufeb. entombed his Bones, and withal profeffing, that c. 15. they would affemble in that Place, and celebrate the Birth-day of his Martyrdom with Joy and Gladnefs; both in Memory of what he fuffered, and for the Exercise and Preparation of those that might hereafter fuffer. Tertullian, who is very careful in De Cor. recounting the Practices of the Primitive Church, c. 3. affirms, that Chriftians were wont to celebrate yearly the Days of the Martyrs Births, that is, their Sufferings, as a Cuftom received from the Tradition of their Ancestors. In Conftantine's Time these De Vit. Days were commanded to be obferved with great c. 23. Care and Strictness; and it was thought a Piece of Profaneness to be abfent from the Meetings of the Chriftians at fuch Times. And St. Auguftine Ser. 253. makes it a Character of a Son of the Church, to de Temp. obferve the Festivals of the Church.
Q. Why did they call the Days of their Death their Birth-Days?
A. Because they looked upon those as the true Days of their Nativity, wherein they were freed from the Pains and Sorrows of a troublesome World, placed out of the Reach of Sin and Temptation, delivered from this Valley of Tears, these Regions of Death and Mifery; and born again unto the Joys and Happiness of an endless Life, an Inheritance incorruptible, that fadeth not away. Q. How ought we to obferve the Festivals of the Church?
A. In fuch a Manner as may answer the Ends for which they were appointed: That God may be glorified by an humble and grateful Acknow ledgment of his Mercies, and that the Salvation of our Souls may be advanced, by firmly believing the Mysteries of our Redemption; and by imitating the Example of thofe Patterns of Piety that are fet before us.
Deut. xvi. 16, 17.
Q. What Manner of keeping these Days answers thefe Ends?
A. We fhould conftantly attend the Public WorShip, and partake of the bleffed Sacrament, if it be administered. In private we should enlarge our Devotions, and fuffer the Affairs of the World to interrupt us as little as may be. We should particularly exprefs our Rejoicing by Love and Charity to our poor Neighbours. If we commemorate any Mystery of our Redemption, or Article of our Faith, we ought to confirm our Belief of it, by confidering all those Reasons upon which it is built; that we may be able to give a good Account of the Hope that is in us. We fhould from our Hearts offer to God the Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, and refolve to perform all thofe Duties which refult from the Belief of fuch an Article. If we commemorate any Saint, we fhould confider the Virtues for which he was most eminent, and by what Steps he arrived at fo great Perfection; and then examine ourselves how far we are defective in our Duty, and earneftly beg God's Pardon for our paft Failings, and his Grace to enable us to conform our Lives for the Time to come to thofe admirable Examples that are set before us.
Q. What Command is there concerning the Manner of obferving Festivals under the Law?
A. That they should not appear before the Lord empty. Every man should give as he is able, &c. Wherein is contained a fpecial Duty of all, when they came to worship God at thefe Feafts, viz. to bringa Prefent, a Heave-offering; which was a Kind of Tribute of Thankfulness unto God, and withal an Acknowledgment of his fupreme Dominion over all. According to this Rule, at the Feaft of the Passover, the Jews brought a Sheaf of the First-fruits of their Harveft unto the Prieft, and he was to wave it before the Lord': And,until this was done, they