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calculated to make a false impression. And, by referring to Heylyn, he makes himself responsible for his (Heylyn's) view of the text. And, as it is one of their strongest arguments to prove that the sabbaths were to be confined to the Jews alone, it is necessary that we should examine it.
• Because,' say our authors, the Lord says to the Israelites, that he had given his sabbaths to be a sign between him and them, therefore they belonged to them alone in their national capacity, and were to cease on the dissolution of the nation. Now, I consider this question to turn not so much upon the sign, as the thing signified. If the thing signified were to have been peculiar to them, and confined to them, and coëval with their nation, so would the sign also. For instance, if the sabbaths had been given as a sign that they were to be his peculiar people, to the exclusion of other nations, then certainly the sabbaths would have ceased, when they were no longer his peculiar people, and when all the nations were admitted to his covenant. But let us see what they were to be signs of.
The declaration was originally made to Moses, Exod. xxxi. 13, 17. In Ezekiel, the former declaration is merely recited and referred to, with a slight variation. We will consider both. Exod. xxxi. 13, and Ezekiel xx. 12, are nearly alike.
6 My sabbaths ye shall keep, for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, “that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” Thus recited in Ezekiel :-“ Moreover, also, I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Thus also, Exod. xxxi. 16, 17:-“ Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for
ever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” And in Ezek. xx. 20:—“ And hallow my sabbaths, and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord
We see in the original quotations from Exodus, that it was not so much the sabbaths that were to be the sign as the keeping of them. “ My sabbaths ye shall keep, for it is a sign,” &c. Now, what was the keeping of the sabbaths to be a sign of? First, that the Lord was the God who sanctified them ; secondly, a sign that they served that God who made heaven and earth, and rested on the seventh day; and thirdly, that the sabbath was not only to be the sign that he sanctified them, but the means of sanctification; for by keeping them they were “ to know," that is, to feel, that they were sanctified by the observance. And we learn from Ezekiel that it was not the mere outward observance that was to be a sign; for the Lord says, “ Hallow my sabbaths, and they shall be a sign;" but how could they hallow the sabbaths except by keeping them holy, by dedicating them to prayer, and praise, and worship, and by spending them in such a holy manner as would conduce to their sanctification?
Now, surely there is nothing in all this to show that either the sign or the thing signified was to be confined to the Israelites.* The things signified were to be of universal concern,—the knowledge and service of the true God, Maker of heaven and earth,—the dedication of a portion of their time to his worship,-spending the sabbath in such a holy manner as should conduce to their own holiness, and insure their sanctification. Will any man say these were mere Jewish ordinances, to be confined to that nation, and to cease when their polity was broken up for their disobedience? The error of our authors arises from the supposition that because the sabbath was to be a sign to the Israelites, that it was to be an exclusive sign. Our Lord says, that as Jonas was a sign to the Ninevites, so should the Son of man be to that generation : but was he to be a sign to that generation alone? If the sabbath was to be the sign, and the means of sanctifying them, and of keeping up the knowledge of the true God, we may argue conversely that so long as the knowledge of the true God was necessary,--so long as fallen man needed sanctification, so long would the sabbath be necessary.
* Mede gives testimony in our favour here. He says that the sabbath was to be a sign to the Israelites, to show what God they served,--that they served the Creator of the world. He considers, also, that Christians, as well as the Israelites, are bound to the observance. And he very justly considers the spirit of the law to be the quotum of time to be given up, and not the observance of this or that day.
As the above quotations show the effects from a due observance of the sabbath, so does the same chapter of Ezekiel show, in the words of the Almighty, the consequences of its profanation. Ezekiel xx. 16: “ They polluted my sabbaths, for their hearts went after their idols.” And again, 24:“ They had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers' idols." So that as the observance of the sabbath produced all the above-mentioned good effects, so also did the neglect of it lead to idolatry, and all manner of sins so strongly denounced in the chapter of Ezekiel before us.
We may further remark, that any promises or blessings, which were to be confined to the Jewish nation, were wholly temporal; but every description, every command, and every exhortation we have of the sabbath, from its very first origin at the time of the creation, were altogether spiritual. No temporal ingredient was ever
mixed up with the sabbath. The chapter of Genesis above quoted contains a strong proof that the sabbath was to form a part of the Christian covenant. xxxi. 16 : “ Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant.” In the next section, I will show that the covenant was granted to all mankind : the temporal part belonged to the Jews, the spiritual and perpetual part to all mankind, both Jews and Gentiles, if the former had not forfeited it by their disobedience and rebellion.
It is remarkable how nearly the description of the sabbath,—of its nature, tendency, objects and effects, as above described, - agrees with the definition of a sacrament, as given by our church. The sabbath was to be an outward visible sign of an inward spiritual grace or sanctification. It was given unto us and ordained by Christ himself, the Creator and the Angel of the Covenant, as the means of obtaining that sanctification, and as a pledge to assure them thereof; for it was to be a sign that they should know that the Lord sanctified them.
I HAVE abstained from quoting human authorities on my side of the question, except, in a few cases, the authority of linguists, as to the interpretation of words. I do not consider it a transgression of my rule to quote Cruden, as to the meaning of a scriptural word, which he deduces by a most copious induction from all the passages in which it occurs from a diligent examination of each, and a judicious comparison of one with the other. And, as my reader will observe, I do not rest upon his authority, but solely on that of scripture.
The popular use of the words signifying “ covenant,” even by the sacred writers, has led some authors into mistakes, from want of due consideration. The expressions of the old covenant, the new covenant, the Jewish and Christian covenants, are used as if these were distinct and separate covenants; whereas they are one and the same covenant, under different dispensations. I do not here take into consideration the covenant with Adam, which was a separate covenant; but the covenant of grace, commencing in the time of Abraham, and at length opened out into the kingdom of Christ. Crudens says, “ It is called New, (Heb. viii. 6, 8,) not in respect of its date--it being made from everlasting-but in the manner of its dispensation and manifestation; not that it differed in substance from the old,—for therein Christ was promised, his death and sufferings shadowed forth by the legal sacrifices; and such as
were saved under the Old Testament were so only by faith in the blood of the Messiah that was to come. Gal. iii. 6:46 Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness." He believed
He believed in a special manner the promise of the covenant concerning Christ, in whom believers of all nations should be blessed. (Gen. xii. 3.) But this Testament or Covenant is called New, in regard of the manner of its dispensation, being ratified afresh by the blood and actual sufferings of Christ; being freed from those rites or ceremonies, wherewith it was formerly administered; as it contains a more full and clear revelation of the mysteries of religion; as it is attended with a larger measure of the gifts and graces of the Spirit; and as it is never to be changed, to wax old, or to be abolished.'