One of the greatest of the 19th century Presbyterians was William Swan Plumer (1802-1880). Dr. Plumer pastored several churches from Virginia to Pennsylvania and served as a beloved professor at multiple reformed seminaries. He authored commentaries on Hebrews, Romans, Psalms and dozens of other books. He is best known for making complex doctrines simple and understandable to laymen and even children. Like all Presbyterians, Plumer was a lover of the whole Lord’s Day and often wrote and preached about the sanctity of the Sabbath. Below is a delightful excerpt from his widely circulated sermon “The Law of the Sabbath Still Binding”.
To there let me go, with willing feet, on the morning and evening of every Sabbath; to there a sense of guilt should urge me; to there the hope of mercy should draw me; there God the Father waits to be gracious; there God the Son exhibits his atoning blood, and God the Holy Ghost his sanctifying grace. With so much sin to confess, with so many mercies to acknowledge, with such darkness in my mind, and such hardness in my hearts, how can I absent myself from the Lord’s house on the Lord’s day! There a crucified Saviour holds forth wisdom to the ignorant, strength to the weak, comfort to the broken-hearted, pardon to the penitent, and salvation to the lost.
How can I answer it to my conscience now – how shall I justify it at the last day, if I stay away from this holy place, and deprive myself of these spiritual blessings, in order to write my letters, to settle my accounts, to pay my visits, or to travel about either on business or pleasure? What account is there of so much moment as the state of my never-dying soul? What business so important as seeking peace with God? What pleasure should be so delightful as singing his praises who bought me with his blood?
Besides, who can tell whether more Sabbaths are reserved for me in this world. Perhaps the next may be my last, and I may never again hear the glad tidings of salvation through Jesus Christ. And shall I then dare to stay away from public worship, with death and judgment at hand, with heaven or hell before me? Shall I let some trifling excuse, which I should be ashamed to make to any worthy friend, deprive me of the only remaining opportunity of meeting God in his own house? O what would many a soul give, one hour after death, for the Sabbaths and sermons that are now so slighted!
Is it too often to go twice to a place of worship on the Sabbath-day, to wait on that God who gives me every day of my life? Who knows, if I absent myself morning or evening from divine service, but I may lose the benefit of some precious message peculiarly adapted to me? Who knows but the minister may be commissioned to speak a word suited to my case; some Scripture truth that may melt my heart; some affecting view of the Saviour, that may endear him to my soul?