Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Business of God's Day

Joseph Hall, "the first man in England to publish letters in English" (Frank Livingstone Huntley, Bishop Joseph Hall and Protestant Meditation in Seventeenth-Century England, p. 17), wrote a memorable letter to Edward Denny in which he described how he spent his days at Waltham Abbey, England, which is where began his famous 22-year project which was published as Contemplations on the Historical Passages of the Old and New Testaments. This letter is very much a model of how I personally wish to live my days to the Lord. In it he describes how "every day is a little life" and how therefore he practically lived out this maxim written earlier in Three Centuries of Meditations and Vowes, Divine and Morall (1606):

Each day is a new life, and an abridgment of the whole. I will so live, as if I counted every day my first, and my last; as if I began to live but then, and should live no more afterwards.

At the conclusion of this letter, he gives a brief summation of how he aimed to spend each Christian Sabbath, which I commend to the edification of our souls on this Lord's Day.

Joseph Hall, Ep. 2 Dec. 6, Epistles, in Six Decades (1608, 1611), Works, Vol. 6, pp. 282-283:

Such are my common days. But God's day calls for another respect. The same sun arises on this day, and enlightens it; yet, because that Sun of Righteousness arose upon it, and gave a new life unto the world in it, and drew the strength of God's moral precept unto it, therefore justly do we sing with the Psalmist, This is the day which the Lord hath made. Now I forget the world, and in a sort myself; and deal with my wonted thoughts, as great men use, who, at some times of their privacy, forbid the access of all suitors. Prayer, meditation, reading, hearing, preaching, singing, good conference, are the business of this day; which I dare not bestow on any work or pleasure but heavenly. I hate superstition on the one side, and looseness on the other: but I find it hard to offend in too much devotion; easy, in profaneness. The whole week is sanctified by this day; and, according to my care of this, is my blessing on the rest.
I show your lordship what I would do, and what I ought: I commit my desires to the imitation of the weak; my actions to the censures of the wise and holy; my weaknesses, to the pardon and redress of my merciful God.

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