Saturday, January 3, 2009

Herbert Palmer's Directions for the Lord's Day

Herbert Palmer was a Westminster Divine who co-authored perhaps the largest Puritan treatise on the Christian Sabbath, Sabbatum Redivivum. He wrote of the Lord's Day elsewhere in his Memorials (part III) and provides here succinct directions for keeping the day holy.


1. Remember it before it comes, for thy self and family, that none of the sacred time be lost, through worldly business occasioned by putting it off carelessly, wilfully; or sleepiness, by too much tiring out thy spirits over night, by overwatching or overworking.

2. Count it a day of spirituall liberty, wherein thou and thine, may without interruption converse with God, and benefit your souls.

3. Unless upon true necessity, make it not shorter than other dayes, by late rising, or early going to bed.

4. Rather, as much as thy body and spirit will give leave, inlarge it, as a delightfull opportunity of good, by rising earlier, and sitting up, as long as thou canst.

5. Count the publick assemblies, the solemnest service of the day, and let no pretence, ordinarily, hinder thee or thine; from being present, from the first (continuing to the last) both morning and afternoon.

6. Let all private and family-duties tend to fit thee for, or to improve the publick.

7. Neglect not to take a through account of thy self, of every main parcel of the Word, publickly read; namely of the several parts, one by one, the several psalms and chapters, and learn somewhat from every one of them.

8. The better to do this, discourse with those that are willing to hear and answer, or such as may not refuse (as thy inferiors) concerning each of these. This will help to remember, and quicken spiritual attention, of profitable things to be learned, above that which one would imagine. We lose much benefit of the Word, because we do not bend our minds to it.

9. As the mainest rule of wisdom, in the ordering of time this day, to the best advantage; bethink thy self overnight, or in the morning early, or both, what the present frame and temper of thy mind is, and what thou wantest, that thou maiest study for a remedy to supply; and watch what God will speak to thee in his Word, or by his minister about it, that day.

10. Pray that thou maist be attentive to what specially concerns thee, and particularly the matters so thought upon; and that without mistake, and specially without repugnance of spirit.

11. Admit not, as much as lies in thee, any unnecessary worldly discourse, no not at meals; rather then look most to it, as being the time of greatest danger ordinarily.

12. Much less begin any worldly discourse, whether among Christians, or other persons.

13. Rather than squander away those precious hours, or even minutes upon the world or vanity, if thou canst with any convenience, retire thy self, and sit alone in thy chamber.

14. By thy good will, admit not of any worldly thoughts being alone, or silent in company.

15. But pray, read, meditate, go into good company, if any be neer: sleep were better, if any need of it, than when God and thy conscience call for thy thoughts (which are the preciousest things thou hast) to bestow them upon the world or vanity.

16. Neglect not thy usual personal devotions, but rather enlarge them.

17. Take special care to improve to the uttermost the Word preached that day, by prayer, discourse, meditation.

18. Take heed of the least excess in thy diet, that thy soul lose not of her nourishment, by that means.

19. Yet afflict not thy body ordinarily by fasting or overspare diet, least that also interrupt thee somewhat; besides that it sutes not so properly with a day of rejoycing, as this is.

20. Before thou go to rest, fail not to consider, what this day thou hast gained or lost, that thou maist give thanks or pray.

The God of all wisdom and peace, teach us to know His will, and practice what we know more and more to his glory, and our everlasting comfort, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew, thank you for sharing this. How timely since it will soon be Lord's Day eve here for me. :) May you and your family have a blessed Sabbath tomorrow.