You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!
I. THERE IS A RIGHT REGARD FOR SEASONS. The sabbath was made for man, and it is therefore good for man that he should make use of the one day in the week that is set apart for rest and worship. Clearly if other seasons, such as Christmas, Easter, the coming of the new year, the harvest, etc., can be utilized profitably, the recognition of them may be justified on good grounds.
1. The profitable arrangement of time. There is a time for everything. Christ did not utter his parables of judgment at the wedding least in Cana. We need time for worship. Though we should ever live in the spirit of prayer, we must still have distinct seasons of undistracted devotion if our religious life is to be deep and vigorous. It often happens, moreover, that what can be done at any time is not done at all. As it is well to set aside a definite portion of one's income for charitable purposes, lest too little or even none should be left after satisfying innumerable personal claims - though really if we love our neighbour as ourselves we shall count nothing wholly our own - so, while God demands all our time, and while any season is suitable for devotion, some time must be set aside for worship, or the busy work of life will absorb the whole.
2. The exigencies of public worship. The social requirements of worship make set seasons necessary when all the worshippers can mutually agree to assemble themselves together. The same principle requires definite places of worship.
3. The influence of association. We are all more or less affected by sentiment. Birthdays, wedding-days, and death-days, days of joy and days of sorrow, are chronicled in our almanacs, and the recurrence of them naturally raises sympathetic emotions. The same applies to the great Christian anniversaries, and the power of association may help us to profit by the lessons of the Incarnation at Christmas and of the Resurrection at Easter.
II. THERE IS A DANGEROUS OBSERVANCE OF SEASONS.
1. Regarding the mere observance of the seasons as a virtue on its own account. The means receives the credit due only to the end. Mere "sabbath-keeping" is no good thing. The question is, "What good do we do or gain through use of the privileges of the day?"
2. The idea that the holy season sanctifies what would be otherwise common.
3. Making the sanctity of the day an excuse for neglecting duty. This was the fault of hypocritical Pharisees in the time of our Lord. Charity was sinned against that the sabbath might be respected.
4. Treating the religious observance of the holy season as an excuse for irreligion at other seasons. How many in Roman Catholic countries seem to think that attendance at Mass in the morning gives an indulgence for attendance at the theatre in the evening! How many Protestants seem to think that cessation from business on Sunday shows so much respect for religion that all the work of the week may be carried on in utter worldliness! Surely it is best not to put up the shutters on the first day of the week, if this act is only a piece of hypocrisy intended to cover the sin of using false weights and measures and selling adulterated goods on the other six days. In conclusion, let us remember that each man must draw the line between the harmless use and the dangerous observance of seasons for himself. It depends much on natural constitution and on early habits. If some Christians seem rather over-observant of days, those who with St. Paul regard all days, the sabbath included, as in themselves equally holy, are not to judge their weaker brethren, but to reverence their devotion and to be charitable to their failing (Romans 14:5, 6). - W.F.A.
To observe days and monthsI. NATURAL. When days are observed according to the course of the sun and moon. Thus night follows day, and every year hath four seasons.
II. CIVIL. When set times are observed in husbandry, for household affairs, for matters of the common. wealth, and for business.
III. ECCLESIASTICS. When set days are observed for order's sake, as days of thanksgiving, and days of humiliation.
1. Jewish: when made compulsory on the conscience.
2. Heathen: when good and bad success are dependent on them. From this last the Sabbath is excluded because
(1) (2) 1. Romish festivals. 2. Lucky or unlucky periods. (W. Perkins.) (W. Spiers, M. A.) ( Origen.) (T. Chalmers, D. D.)
(2) 1. Romish festivals. 2. Lucky or unlucky periods. (W. Perkins.) (W. Spiers, M. A.) ( Origen.) (T. Chalmers, D. D.)
1. Romish festivals.
2. Lucky or unlucky periods.
(W. Spiers, M. A.)e.g., the Lord's Day, the Preparation, the Passover, or Pentecost, I have to answer that, to the perfect Christian — who is ever in his thoughts, words, and deeds, serving Christ — all his days are the Lord's, and he is always keeping the Lord's Day. He, also, who is unceasingly preparing himself for the true life, such an one is always keeping the Preparation day. Again, he who considers that "Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us," and that it is of his duty to keep the feast by eating of the flesh of the Word, never ceases to keep the Paschal feast. And, finally, he who can truly say: "We are risen with Christ," and "He hath exalted us, and made us sit with Him in heavenly places in Christ" is always living in the season of Pentecost. But the majority of believers are not of this advanced class; but from being either unable or unwilling to keep every day in this manner, they require some sensible memorial to prevent spiritual things from passing altogether from their minds.
( Origen.)dies atri, which were pointed out on the calendar with a black character denoting a day of bad luck, and their dies albi, pointed out with a white character denoting good luck. In commenting on the text says: "Those whom the apostle blames are those who say" "I will not set forward on my journey because it is the next day after such a time. or because the moon is so; or I'll set forward that I may have luck, because such is just now the position of the stars. I will not traffic this month because a star presides, or I will because it does." Lodge (1596) tells us of those "who would not eat their dinner before they have lookt in their almanacke." Aubrey, the antiquarian, later on, in dealing with the same subject, says: "I shall take particular notice here of November 3rd, both because 'tis my own birthday, and for the remarkable accidents that have happened thereupon. Constantius, son of Constantine the Great, died on this day, Exveteri calendaris penes me. Thomas Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, that famous commander under Henries IV., V., and VI., died this day from a cannon shot received at Orleans. So also did Cardinal Borrhomes, and Sir John Perot, Lord deputy of Ireland, son to Henry VIII., and extremely like him; grief of the fatality of the day killed him. Stow in his annals says, November 3rd, 1099, the sea broke in on Scotland and England, drowning divers towns, and much people and cattle, submerging the lands once belonging to Earl Godwin in Kent, now called Godwin Sands, My father died in 1643, and within a year and a half of his decease such changes came upon my marsh lands in Kent by the influence of the sea that it was never worth one farthing to me; so that I often think this day being my birthday hath the same influence upon me that it had five hundred and eighty years since upon Earl Godwin and others. The Parliament so fatal to Rome's concerns here in Henry VIII.'s time began on November 3rd. The 3rd of November, 1640, began that Parliament so direfully fatal to England and its King." After the Reformation the unlucky day seems to have been Friday; fishermen and sailors would not go forth on that day, or servants take a place. No one on that day would get married, or begin a journey, or open a house of business on that day A similar superstition prevails among the Brahmins. In Japan a particular table is employed by travellers, which, it is said, has been observed to hold true by a continued experience of many ages, and wherein are set down all the unfortunate days of every month. A copy of this table is printed in all their road books. The Siamese observe the feasts of the new and full moon, and think the days that from the change precede the full are more fortunate than those that follow it. Their almanacks are marked with lucky and unlucky days. Neither prince nor any one who has means of applying to the astrologers will undertake anything without consulting them The Mexicans predicted the good or bad fortunes of infants from the sign under which they were born, and the happiness or misfortune of marriages, the success of wars; and of nearly everything from the day on which they were undertaken Nor are these notions confined to heathen countries. The newspapers frequently bring to light the credulity of Englishmen. "Such an extravagant cast of mind," truly says The Spectator, "engages multitudes of people not only in needless terrors but in supernumerary duties, and arises from that fear and ignorance which are natural to the soul of man. Wise men concern themselves to retrench the evils of life by the reasonings of philosophy; fools seek to multiply them by the sentiments of superstition. God's providence overrules all things. We should do our part faithfully, and leave the event with Him."
(T. Chalmers, D. D.)