Project Canterbury
Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology

John Cosin, Works, Sermons, Volume One
pp. 153­165


Branspeth, 1633

Transcribed by Dr. Marianne Dorman
AD 2003

Exodus xx. 8.
Memento, ut diem Sabbathi sanctifices, &c.
Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, six days shalt thou labour,& c.

This is the fourth commandment; there are three before it, that took order for the worship of God Himself, and for the honour of his name; this takes order for the public form of His worship and the solemnity of his honour; that it be not only done, but done at a set time, and upon the days appointed for it, when nothing else may be done; and done in a solemn assembly, and a full meeting of the people together, when they shall do it so much time better.

It is a commandment whereupon God hath bestowed some cost, urged it more fully, given more reasons for it, spent more words upon it, than upon any of the rest. And I trow, this is a sign that his heart is set upon it, that He will never endure the neglect of it; and therefore that whatever we do, we should be sure to remember and regard this as one of his [153/154] Most special commandments; for which purpose He begins it with a memento too, so as He doth none of the other.

Therefore we divide the commandment into three parts, (I.) The precept itself, (II.) The illustration of the precept, (III.) And the reasons annexed and urged for the observance of it.

(I.) The precept in the first words, memento sanctifices, &c. 'Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.' (II.) The illustration, in the words after, non facies omne opus in eo, 'in it then shalt do no manner of work; thou, and thy son, and thy daughter,' &c. (III.) The reasons, in all the rest of the words; one, because you have six days to do your own business in; another, because the seventh is none of yours, it is the Lord's day; a third, because God kept it holy Himself; and a fourth, because He hath also hallowed it, and appointed it to be kept holy by all others.

In the precept itself we have three things to consider; the memento, the Sabbatum, and the sanctifices. The charge first, in the word 'remember.' Then the charge of keeping a day of rest, on the Sabbath, the second word; and lastly, the keeping of it as it should be, keeping it holy, 'Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath day.'

In the illustration we have many things to look into likewise; and in the reasons more; which I will not specify nor mention now, lost we lose our labour, and you forget all before we come at them.

Of the precept itself, and of the parts of it, we will speak to-day; and that we may speak of them to the honour of Almighty God, &c.

Pater noster.

(1.) 'Remember thou keep,' &c. We begin with the memento, which word, that the better notice might be taken of it, is emphatically delivered in the original, and doubled over for fear it should be forgotten or neglected by any. Recordando recordere, 'remember; and while you are remembering, remember still,' that is, remember so that at no time it may slip out of your memory, but that at all times you be careful [154/155] and diligent to keep it; to keep it in mind, that you may the better observe it in practice.

It is a vehement epiphonema this, like that of our Saviour in the Gospel, 'Let him that heareth hear;' to stir up the dulness of the ear, even while it was a-hearing; or like those frequent repetitions in our public service here in the Church, 'Let us pray,' and again praying, let us pray, that while we are at it, we be mindful of it, (as many of us are not,) and in doing of it, we do it indeed; this is recordando recordare.

A word and an item (as I said) of all the Ten Commandments set only at the beginning of this; as if God had made His choice, His special choice of this above all the rest, to put His memento here, which He would have them that have forgotten it, to call back into their remembrance well; and they that do remember it, never to forget it again.

Of God's choice to set it here I will show you some reasons, and then proceed to that which follows.

(1.) There is not in all the commandments a duty that we are more hardly brought unto, than so to attend God's service, as wholly to neglect our own for it; no law we grudge, no commandment that we murmur and repine at so much as to leave all our own occasions, and come a mile or twain, or spend a whole day or two in a week to attend His; for that this is the duty of this precept, we will prove hereafter. In the meanwhile, we are naturally averse from it, so given to our own ways, to our profit, to our pleasures or to our ease, that we are over ready to neglect, always willing to forget, what God would have us remember about it. This is one reason that God hath set His memento upon it.

(2.) Another is, for that this precept is the very life of all the Decalogue; by due observance whereof we come both to learn and to put in practice all the rest of God's commandments the better; and without which, in a short time, they would come all to nothing. For therefore is this time set apart, that people, among other ends, might meet together to hear the whole law of God, and by hearing what it is, learn to observe and do every duty that belongs unto it. But let it be as the world would have it, sit at home barely and take your case; look to your own, and remember God's affairs that list; hear not of the Law and the Prophets, but [155/156] when ye are at leisure; listen not to the duties of a Christian above once or twice a quarter, as the lewd custom among a great many of you is, and see what your Christianity will conic to, or what will become of all the duties of the Law, of all the sermons of the Prophets, and of all the service and worship of God in a short time. Certain it is, that through the neglect of this, all the rest of the commandments conic to be neglected too, many duties of them not so much as known; and sure I am, most of them not so well put in practice as otherwise we might have hoped they would be. Remember this therefore, and the benefit of it will be, that it will bring all the rest of the commandments into your remembrance. So the memento set here, which is the life and the practice of all, is as much as if it had been set upon there all, upon every commandment by itself. And be this the second reason.

(3.) Ye shall have a third, and so we will leave it. There was at this time of giving the law throughout the world, a more general neglect of this commandment than of all the rest; other things they remembered, this they forgot, and therefore it was high time to put them in mind of it with a memento; they found time for every thing but for the public and solemn service of God; every day of the week they took to be their own, this day and all, and had quite obliterated, razed out of their hearts, that which the law of nature had written there front the beginning; that some time of the revolution, and a full sufficient time too, such as this is, was to be reserved and set apart for God himself, not to be spent in any other service than His own. Which being now at the giving of the Law determined to the seventh day, the Jews kept it after their manner very strictly; but being since, at the time of the Gospel, changed to the first day, and that upon good ground too, (as afterwards ye shall hear,) in these latter days we observe it as loosely; insomuch as, if ever, it is full time now to renew and set the memento upon it again, 'Remember' that we keep it holy; for by our doings we seem, most of us, to have forgotten it full profanely. But then to see what poor excuses we make for our negligence and to think that any answer will serve God's turn, this is worse than forgetfulness, worse than the negligence itself. [156/157] 'Remember' it therefore to do it, and observe it, as Moses said; and because God hath set His heart and His stamp upon it, so to have it observed and advanced; set not you your foot upon it, so to have it contemned and trodden on. He hath committed ten matters of great trust unto you, these ten commandments, and all the duties that depend upon them; and in keeping of them there is great reward. He will recompense you largely for your pains; but above all the ten, there is one among the rest, this one, which with a memento doubled over, He recommends to your special regard and to your principal care. In anywise therefore forget not, neglect not, but remember that. And this for the memento.

11. Follows what we are to remember, Diem Sabbathi, 'Remember to keep the Sabbath day.' And a Sabbath day is nothing else in signification, but a day of rest; always provided (as ye shall hereafter) that it be no idle rest, but a rest from common affairs, that holy and sacred actions may be the better attended.

In this sense every festival, lawfully appointed, and made sacred, is a Sabbath; and by the moral virtue of this precept, even done this very word Sabbathum, we are bound to keep them every out. So were the Jews, all the rest of their feasts (which were called Sabbaths too); besides their dies septimus, the day that is hereafter mentioned. And therefore he that translated these words, memento diem Sabbathi sanctifices, Remember thou keep holy the feast days, that is, every Sabbath or every feast day when it comes, was not so far out of the way, nor so wide from the true moral meaning of this commandment, (take it in the very letter,) as some men, prima facie, took him to have been. St. Gregory Nazianzen, and St. Ambrose may be as well found fault with withal, as he who hath expressed the commandment in the plural number, sabbata panta fulate. &.c For if ye mark [157/158] it here, the word is put abstractly and at large, diem Sabbathi, not concretely and determinately, diem septimum, applicable therefore to any feast day or holy day whatsoever, as well as to it; though afterwards attributed more eminently to the seventh day among the Jews, which is hero beneath called the Sabbath of the Lord, and to the first day among the Christians, which we call dies Dominicus too, the feast day of the Lord, the day of Christ's resurrection; to these (I say) more, eminently, though not only to these, for there are more Sabbaths, more feast days than one.

And from hence we fetch the morality of this precept, that which the law of nature taught every man, even from the word Sabbathum, that there are days of rest and sanctity to be kept holy to the Lord, and that unto what day soever the Sabbathum is applied, upon any day that a holy rest is lawfully instituted and appointed, that day, so far as the institution goes, and so long as the appointment lasts, is to be kept sacred and holy to God. So the Jews were to keep their Sabbaths, acid we our festivals, every one according to the laws and institutions that were made for them by God and the Church.

For as for the dies septimus here, the seventh day, whereunto the name of the Sabbath was afterwards given by way of eminence, we have nothing now to do with it, it expired with the Jews synagogue; and aqua talis (as we say) it belonged not to the moral law at all; but this did, that being then appointed for a Sabbath, as long as the appointment lasted, it was so to be kept; otherwise if the very particular seventh day had been moral in itself, that is, founded in the law of nature, it could never have been altered, but we should have been bound to have kept the Sabbath of the Jews still, we should have committed a deadly sin if we had not kept every Saturday holy day during our lives.

But that this was no part of the eternal moral law, and therefore alterable by the Church, we have the will of God Himself (besides other testimonies) declared unto us by His holy Apostle, 'Let no man condemn you in respect of a Sabbath day or a new moon, which are but shadows of things to come, but the body is Christ.' Yet for all this, when time was, the morality of this precept went along with their [158/159] Sabbaths and festivals, as it doth now with ours, with neither of them as the seventh day, or the first, but with both as set and solemn times exalted by God and dedicated to his service; so that not to have kept the Sabbaths then, had been sin to the Jews, and not to keep our festivals now will be sin to us. Tire one must be kept as well as the other; I say 'as well,' for the substance, though not alike for the manner and circumstance; for the Jews Lad their ceremonies, and the Christians have theirs, either peculiar to themselves, wherewith to keep their Sabbaths and holy days; as after we shall shew you.

Remember then that you keep the festivals appointed, is a good paraphrase upon this text, neither can I give you a better; for the Jews' Sabbaths are all gone, gone like shadows; and in sign that they are gone indeed, the very name of a Sabbath in regard of our festivals is gone away with them too; for ye shall riot read in all the ancient writers for 1500 years together, that ever any Christians would use that name, (though in a few late writers, I know not why, it be again taken up;) but in place of their Sabbaths, the Apostles and their successors have instituted Christian festivals, of which the Lord's day is the chief, succeeding in the room of that which was also more eminently styled the Jewish Sabbath.

By this time then ye know what ye are to remember, and what to understand, by the Sabbath day.

III:. Follows the end of remembering it, memento ut sanctifices, remember it to keep it holy. And then we only keep it holy when we apply it unto holy uses.

For ye must know that God hath dealt with this day, and other days made holy, as He hath done with men and other creature's; sanctifying some of them, and destinating them to a more reserved and higher use than that which is common. By nature all men are alike, so are all days; but yet for all that, there be some men separated from the vulgar sort and exalted above the rest, as magistrates and kings are, as priests and ministers of God are; we must not use them at [159/160] our pleasure, as we would use one of our own servants. It is alike with these days, which above all other days are made holy to God; the rest are like our own servants, we may employ them about our own affairs; but these holy days we may not be so bold with, they are set apart for holy uses, for God's service, they are none of ours, nor may they be employed about our own business. Take another resemblance that it may affect you the better. The water in baptism, the bread and wine in the blessed sacrament, naturally they are no more than other such elements are, but being consecrate and set apart once to these holy uses, for which Christ hath ordained and appointed them, quis eum non lapidibus obrueret, saith St. Chrysostom, what punishment should not he deserve, that would usurp them to common uses and profuse them at his pleasure? As the water in baptism, as the bread and wine in the in the Eucharist, so is this day consecrate and set apart by the Church for holy and divine uses.

And what God hath made holy let no man make common, by applying or spending that time at his pleasure which God bath consecrated and dedicated and marked out for His service. It is of the nature of every thing which is hallowed, not to be used as other common things are, (Levit. 27. [28, 29.],) every thing separate from the common use must be holy to the Lord; not so much but the very fire-forks and the flesh-hooks, the meanest instruments that belonged unto the sacrifice, butt they were forbidden to be put to any other use; the very snuffers of the temple not to touch another lamp, nothing that is sanctified to be profaned, that is, to be used as other common things are. Then this day (and none so highly exalted by God, so extraordinarily blest and hallowed above others) in nowise to be accounted as others are, but to make account of what days soever be ours, besides these that are dedicated and made holy, are none of ours, are none of ours no more than this temple is ours, are days with God's mark upon them, must be therefore, as this place is, accounted and kept holy. And take it for your rule, ye may as well profane and use this house of God at your pleasure make it your workshop, make it your barn --as ye may take the liberty which ye do to profane and use at your pleasure, these holy days of God; the sins are both of one nature, and [160/161] therefore hath God also joined the duties together, ye shall reverence My sanctuary, and observe My Sabbaths.

This to persuade you that these holy days are to be, and so, must of fierce be kept holy, unless ye will commit sacrilege, and steal from God that which is His own. Now then to lean you how they are to be kept holy, is the next point; and all we shall speak unto to-day.

The keeping of these days holy in manner as we ought, respects both our public and our private duties.

The public first, enjoined and commanded under the name of convocatio sancta, in the twenty-third chapter of Leviticus and third verse: 'But in the day of rest' (that is, as is there expressed, upon every festival) 'shall be an holy convocation to the Lord;' that is, a meeting and a gathering together of all the people in the public place of God's worship, which is the church, there to do him open homage and service, and (as we tell you here, before we begin the service) 'to render thanks for the great benefits we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear His most holy word, and to ask those things that are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul.' This is the public duty of every day that is made holy.

For a private holiness at home will not serve, will not satisfy this commandment of God. It is a day we are to keep holy; let it be kept then as a day, in open view of heaven and earth; that, as by day-light, our holiness may be seen abroad, and let it not be kept as a night, shut up in our own houses at home, where nobody can see what our holiness is. The voice of joy and thanksgiving is in the dwellings of the righteous, saith the prophet David in the hundred and eighteenth Psalm, when he spake and prophesied of this very day. And in the dwellings at home (if it be there) truly it does well, but I fear in many homes there is no such holiness; but say there were, let us believe then, that they serve God at home (as they say) when they are not here, yet that home-serving would not serve the prophet's turn, not the service that was done in the very dwellings of the righteous; therefore at the nineteenth verse lie goes further, Aperite mihi portas, 'Open me,' saith he, 'the gates of righteousness,' that is, the church doors, his own house, as holy as it was, [161/162] would not; hold him, but open the doors of the tabernacle of the temple, thither will 1 go in, and shew in the congregation, in the great congregation will I praise and give thanks unto the Lord. A congregation, I say, and a great one, not when half the church is empty, but so great that it may constituere diem solennem in condensis usque ad cornea Altaris, as in the Psalm he goes on, that the people may stand so thick in the church, as to fill it up from the entrance of the door to the very edge of the altar; that is, from the very owest to the very highest place of the church. This is that which God enjoins, convocatio sancta.

For this same home-holiness that is neither seen nor heard; surely there is some leaven of malignity in it; and he can no skill of it, likes it not, will therefore have it come forth, seen in the countenance, expressed in the view, heard in the voice, and not in the voice of the pulpit only, to come and hear a sermon preached, but in the voice of the choir too, of the whole congregation together, to come and with one heart and one mouth to set forth his most worthy praise.

They shall bring a sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord, saith Jeremy, the seventeenth chapter and the twenty-sixth [verse], speaking of this very thing; and if they will not; says he, then will the Lord kindle a fire among the people, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched; or, as another of His prophets, projiciet stercus solemnitatum vestrarum in farces vestras, He cares not for our own private keeping of His solemn feasts, He will throw the dirt of them in our faces. Can ye offer your sacrifice at home, in what place yon shall choose? but ye shall not do it, saith God himself in the twelfth chapter of Deuteronomy and the eighth verse; what shall they do then? at the fifth [verse] ye shall seek and go to the place which the Lord hath chosen, to put His name there, and thither shall ye bring your service, and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God, ye, and your sons, and your slaughters, and your servants, and there shall the Lord bless you. This is a plain place, applied by an ancient and a holy council, the council of Gangres, which was afterwards confirmed by an universal council, to the keeping of the Lord's day and other festivals among the Christians; and therefore they made a law [162/163] against them that presumed of their own leads to keep it otherwise. The law is worth the repeating. Demos Dei honoramus, et conventus, qui in his fiunt, tanquam sanctos et utiles suscipmus, pietatem in privatis domibus non claudentes, sed omnem locum in nomine Dei ædificatum honaranmus, et congregationem sanctum in eadem ecclesia [factam] pro utilitate communi recipimus. 'We honour the house of God, and the holy assembly there gathered in His name. We shut not up our holiness in our own houses, but we bring it forth into the place that the Lord hath chosen to let his name dwell there. And in the end they doubt not to lay an anathema, a grievous censure, upon any that being able to come forth shall neglect the church and keep his own house that day, though he thinks himself never so well employed. And ye shall see the reason of this public assembling together, to set forth the service of God.

(1.) God shall have the more honour by it, more by a full congregation than by a few. The honour of a king is in the multitude of his subjects; when half the church is empty, as much as in us lays we rob God of ball His honour; but if He be not duly honoured by any of us here, He will never be beholden to us for his honour; for whether we will or no, He will be honoured by us another way; either here, in our willing service; or elsewhere, in our unwilling punishment for neglect of that service: one of the two be we sure, and choose we whether.

(2.) It makes more for the good of the Church; the prayers are the stronger for it, they are carried up the higher, they pierce the clouds when they are sent up with a full cry of all the people together; whereas they languish, like the congregation itself, when they want half their company to help them.

(3.) Every private Christian is the better for it; he does his service with more cheerfulness when he has all his companions and fellow-servants to join with him in it; the worse [163/164] a great deal if he want them; dull and heavy at his work, ever ready to sleep, besides the evil example that he takes to be as negligent as he sees others be, and otherwhiles also to take the same liberty, and tarry away himself; which toy take a many, I fear it will take them all together at once, one time or other, (as many holy days it does,) and so we, shall have a goodly solemnity to celebrate God's festivals. Though truly to the infirm there must be some indulgence; but we are somewhat afraid for all that to open this door; for as soon as we do but open it for the infirm and weak, when they are out, there comes such a press of people often them that we know not how to get it shut again; for than we are all weak, all ill, and so all run through. The truth is, all are ill disposed, or else they would never make such poor pretences as they usually do. The rawness of the weather, the hardness of the way, the length of the journey, the least indisposition of the body, are with most of you now thought to be reasons sufficient enough to affront this law and commandment of God; and yet your own affairs your own pleasures and customs, they shall not affront. The day before was a day for your market; perhaps the weather worse, the journey longer, yet that you could hear. This day is a market for your souls, and this place, hither you cannot come, could not, no by no means; you had endangered your health, and yet you would venture it for a less matter by far. So comes God's church, His market-place, to be the emptiest always of the two, to the shame of your pretended religion. Indeed he said well, if the people will not come, satin unus, satus nullus, let the priest serve God by himself, rather than God should have no service done him at all; the brooks must run on in their channels whether the beasts will come and drink of them or no; and God must have His honour done, whether the people be pleased to assist at it or not. 'Well if one,' says the heathen man; but better a great deal if many, if all the people come together.

(1.) Better for the reasons we have given already, and for these besides. In regard of the Church's uniformity, that they may all be known to be of one and the same mind, of one and the same religion, that they keep one profession of their faith; and therefore it is said of the very first Christians [164/165] of all, as a true note of their holiness and religion, that they were all together with one accord in one place.

(2.) Then in regard of the commonwealth, whose blessing it is when God maketh men to be of one in mind in this house; whose strength and stay it is, when God is duly honoured, as well as when the king is duly served and obeyed by all the people together.

(3.) And lastly, in regard of each private man; that here, hence, as from a store-house, he may fetch food for his soul, from the nundinæ sacræ he may fetch commeatum animæ, give praise and honour and obedience unto God, Who, in exchange, will give him knowledge to enlighten his understanding, an grace to reform his will, mid assistance in plenty to resist the temptations of this wicked world. Which He grant unto us for His mercy's sake, for I cannot now, the time will not suffer me, to go any further. To God, &c., &c.

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