Scudder: The Fourth Commandment

Scudder: The Fourth Commandment

From The Christian’s Daily Walk.  Headings are not the author’s.

Exodus 20:8-11

The sum of the fourth commandment

The fourth commandment concerns the ordinary solemn time of the service and worship of God, requiring that the seventh day (now our Lord’s day) be kept as an holy rest.

Preparing for the Sabbath

  • Have I, upon the six [other] days, remembered the Lord’s day, [so] that I might despatch all my worldly business and prepare my heart, [so] that when it [the Sabbath] came, I might keep an holy Sabbath to the Lord, according to the commandment?

Beginning the Sabbath

  • Did I, according as my health would permit, rise early on that day?
  • Have I performed my daily (both morning and evening) exercises of religion alone, and with my family, that day in prayer?

Ruling well during the Sabbath

  • Have I caused all under my authority, according to my power, to rest from all manner of works and worldly recreations; also myself not only from the labour of my body, but of my mind in all worldly business, except about the things that concern common honesty, and comeliness, works of mercy, and such works of necessity as could not be done before, or let alone till afterwards?
  • Have I caused my family to go with me to the church?

Attending the public means of grace

  • Have I always prepared my heart before I went into the house and presence of God, by meditation of God’s word and works, and in particular by examination and reformation of my ways, by prayer, thanksgiving and holy resolution to carry myself as in God’s presence, and to hear and obey whatsoever I should be taught out of the word of God?
  • When I went to church [with my family], did we come in due time, and, being there, stay the whole time of prayer, reading, and preaching of the word, singing of psalms, receiving and administering the sacraments, even that of baptism (when others are baptized); and did I attend diligently, and join with the minister and the rest of the congregation in all those holy exercises?

Spending time between times of formal worship

  • Did I spend the day, after the morning and evening prayers, sermons, or catechizing, in meditation, and (as I had opportunity) in conference and repetition of what I had heard? Also in visiting the sick, and other works of mercy; and so, from the beginning to the end of the day, have been employed in holy thoughts, words, and deeds, and all this with spiritual delight?

Pondering violations of the fourth commandment

  • Am I guilty of forgetting the Lord’s day before it came, and of neglecting and profaning it when it came, as:
    • by mere idleness, or
    • by taking opportunity of leisure from the business of my calling to be licentious in company keeping, etc., or
    • by reserving that day for journeys, idle visits, and for the dispatch of worldly business?
  • Have I been careless of the service of God, frequenting it no oftener than law or very shame did compel me?
  • Have I been careless whether my servants or children did keep the Sabbath or not?
  • When I was at church, did I idle away the time, by gazing about, by sleeping, or by worldly thoughts?
  • Have I bought, sold, spoken of, or done other works forbidden to be done, spoken, or contrived upon that day?
  • Have I, under the name of recreation, sought mine own pleasure, using sports and games, which cause the mind to be more indisposed to the due performance of holy duties than honest labours do, to which they are subordinate, and with them forbidden to be done that day?
  • Has the strict observance of the Sabbath been at all tedious to me, so that I could have wished that it had been gone long before it was ended?