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the way whatever had restricted spiritual privilege, and impeded the universal extension of the true religion; but that it would repeal the law of the sabbath, or abate in the least, the sanctity and sacredness of that mightiest instrument of moral influence, were no more to be expected than that it would publish an intention of defeating its own purpose, and the highest and all-commanding purpose of providence.
VIII. What then has led some men to think that so strange a thing was done, at the introduction of christianity? There are men of this opinion; men who cannot deny the utility, nay the necessity of a day of rest, when the rites of religion should be solemnized; but who do deny that the sacred observance of the sabbath is now obligatory upon the world as a matter of divine commandment? What is it that has led them into this, as it seems to us self-confuting belief? Self-confuting we cannot but regard it, because if the excellence, the necessity, of the day be granted, it surely is not also true, that God has withdrawn from it the protection of his authority, and invited men to despise it by revoking that ancient law, which gave it all its sacredness. What has originated this opinion? Does the gospel say, any where, that the sabbath had come to its end? Did Christ show any disregard to this hallowed institution? He did indeed claim to be Lord of the sabbath, but he exercised his authority over it, not by destroying, but by rescuing it from the abuses of the Pharisees, who seem to have held, that man was rather made for the sabbath, than the sabbath for man. Though Lord of the sabbath, he set us a perfect example of observing it; he kept it holy himself, according to the commandment, and in all his instructions concerning it, he assumed its sanctity as a thing unquestionable and unnecessary to be proved. Did the apostles of Christ, the anointed ministers of the new dispensation, either by their practice or their teaching, make void the law of God, in regard to the sabbath day? The history of their conduct represents them as always keeping the Jewish sabbath, along with other Jews; and in all their writings there is not the slightest hint, that to sanctify the sabbath was no longer a part of the religion of man. Paul does indeed censure the Galatians for observing days, and months, and times, and years; and he also cautions the Colossians against being ensnared by false teachers, who would judge, that is, condemn them for not conforming to their own anti-christian principles, in respect of meats and drinks, of holy days, and new moons, and sabbaths; but he says nothing in these places against the law of the sabbath, but only witnesses against a spirit of self-righteousness, directly the reverse of the whole tendency and design of the gospel. The Pharisees, as ap pears from our Savior's discourses, held to great abuses of the sab
bath, of which they made high merit; these abuses, the Judaizers, children of the Pharisees, who would be also called christian teachers, labored to introduce into the apostolical churches, along with many other like things, belonging to the same system and Paul, jealous for the purity of the gospel, would secure his converts against the designs of these men. But not a sentence has either he, or any other apostle, written to signify the abrogation of the fourth commandment of the Decalogue. On the contrary, by their manner of quoting the Decalogue, which they often do quote in confirmation of their doctrine, the apostles manifestly inculcate the unchangeable obligation of every precept it contains. For while they refer for such a purpose, to that document, without stating an exception, they clearly admit the authority of one part of it as much as another, and do in this way, virtually republish the fourth commandment as a branch of the law of Christ.
IX. But a change has taken place as to the day, and this to some persons has involved our subject in difficulty. We wish to bring the sanction of the fourth commandment in favor of our sabbath, although the sabbath which existed when that commandment was given, was the seventh, and ours is the first day of the week. True; but that circumstance makes nothing against us. The sabbath in force when the fourth commandment was given, was the seventh day, but that commandment did not make that day the sabbath. The Jews had received another law, appointing the seventh day as their sabbath, the record of which occurs in the 16th chapter of Exodus, among directions respecting the gathering of the manna. The fourth commandment given afterwards, requires the previously designated day to be kept holy, not by designating the day, but by requiring the sabbath, whatever that day was or might be, to be so kept. It does determine that the day shall occur as often as once in seven; but whether that day is to be the first, or the seventh, or any other day of the week, it does not determine. If a law had been afterwards given to the Jews, changing the day, the fourth commandment would have required the sacred observance of that day; provided it was made to occur, one day in seven, the next day after six working days; the only legislation we find in this commandment as to time. If therefore the change of the day made under the gospel, was made by due authority, the sanction of the fourth commandment does at this moment enforce the observance of the christian sabbath.
X. How then was the change effected? By the apostles themselves, in a manner specially marked with wisdom. They did not unnecessarily awaken Jewish animosity on the subject, by giving out a formal precept in respect to the change, but guided by
that Holy Spirit, whose will they executed, they prudently observed themselves, and required their converts to observe, the first day of the week, the day of their Lord's resurrection; not forbidding at the same time, the observance of the seventh day. That this was the manner of the change, appears clearly from the latter part of the New Testament, which, while it relates instances of their keeping the Jewish Sabbath, informs us that their own religious assemblies, were from the beginning of the new dispensation held on the first day of the week, which, as being the day of Christ's glorious triumph over the powers of darkness, was called the Lord's day, the most honorable style which could have been given to it. Nor was the appointment of the apostles unattended by decisive and most signal proofs of the divine approbation. What religious meetings were ever so marked as theirs, by the tokens of the Divine presence? How could the Jewish converts question that they were obeying the will of God, by yielding themselves to apostolical direction, in this high case, when that direction had so clearly the sanction of heaven? Thus it was that the transition took place. The seventh day was not legislated upon, but left to the natural course of things, while the high importance attached to the first day, by apostolical practice and command, and the concurrent attestations of the Holy Spirit, secured it paramount and very soon exclusive attention, as the divinely designated sabbath of the christian church. If to any one, this account of the change seems less evincive of that divine authority which we plead for it, than a positive law would have been, directly annuling the former sabbath and substituting the present, such a person perhaps does not duly consider what unnecessary evils might have originated from this peremptory measure, operating upon strong Jewish prejudice already elicited in too many forms against the infant church of Christ. Nor does he bear in mind how inconsistent with God's wonted gentleness and indulgence towards harmless prejudice, would have been that abrupt and violent way of proceeding. If, as we have shown, the original law requiring a sabbath to be observed was unchangeable, and if the apostles of Christ, acting under a divine commission, observed, and required christians to observe, a different day from that which had been kept by the Jews, the evidence of a divine warrant for the observance of that day is complete; and why exact evidence in another form inconsistent with the genius of the divine government?
XI. Such is the proof that a change was duly made and now if we consider the reasons for a change, the propriety of the mea sure will be seen; and it will appear that there would have been cause for skeptical wonder if it had not taken place. The an
cient sabbath commemorated the creation of the world; but the new creation is so much more excellent than the former, that God, peaking by the prophet Isaiah, says, "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind." Shall no day then be observed in commemoration of this creation, but the old sabbath, which brought the first creation into mind every seventh day continue to be kept? Shall the less receive perpetual celebration, and the greater none at all? But the Jews kept their Sabbath in memory not only of the creation, but of their own emancipation from Egyptian bondage, as we learn from the repetition of the Decalogue in chapter 5th of Deuteronomy. "And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence, through a mighty hand and by a stretched-out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day." How shall christians keep a sabbath which commemorates the Exodus of the Israelites, but none in celebration of their own and the world's redemption from eternal bondage to sin and Satan? Was it not therefore expedient, that there should be a change of the day;-a change which, while it served to keep the world mindful of the most glorious of all events, our Lord's resurrection from the dead, did not preclude due meditation of those other two events which the sabbath formerly commemorated? Christians on their sabbath may and should still refresh their minds with holy recollections of the creation and of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt. It is fit and natural that they should do so it is still the sabbath which they keep; an institution first designed in honor of those events, which it should still call to mind, though it now have chief reference to another. But while the christian sabbath may yet subserve the purposes of the Jewish, the Jewish could not answer the end of the christian. On every account therefore, a change seems to have been expedient; and in this as in other things, God commends to our understandings as equitable and wise, what he enacts and ordains as law to his kingdom.
XII. The result therefore is this: That the original law of the sabbath, designed to be unrepealable and perpetual, and not at all affected by the change of the day, which took place at the beginning of the new dispensation, as was expedient and properthat law of the Most High, is at this day in force over all the sons of men; and the christian sabbath is not an institution resting on the authority of men or of custom, or allowed because convenient and useful to society; but is an institution strictly divine; appointed by divine command, and guarded by all that is sacred and terrible in the majesty of the eternal King. And has he not pla
ced before the eyes of men sufficient tokens of the sacredness of this institution? Do not his blessings and his curses actually dispensed, proclaim aloud the divinity of the christian sabbath? If the moral history of sabbath-breakers, whether individuals or communities; and if the moral history also of those who keep the sabbath from polluting it, could be fully recited, what would be heard but the thunderings of the divine indignation against the former, and the breathings of the divine complacency and delight toward the latter? There is no truth, however perfectly revealed, that men may not remain ignorant of, if they will not consider its evidences; they may thus remain insensible to the very being of God; and they may in the same manner remain doubtful, whether the christian sabbath is an institution which God claims for his own. But if they would listen to the testimony of facts, in respect to this matter, they would find it impossible to retain a shadow of incredulity.
XIII. Having evinced the sacred character of the sabbath as a perpetual ordinance of God, the right manner of keeping it is also ascertained. If the christian sabbath were a matter of mere expediency and convenience, originating in the common agreement of the first disciples, and having nothing but long custom to entitle it to reverence, there would be room for various opinions as to the way in which it should be observed; and perhaps the laxity on this subject for which some contend, would in that case be defensible. If convenience were the author of the institution, why should it not also be the rule of its observance? And that being admitted, recreations and even secular labors, might be entirely consistent and commendable. But if there has been no repeal of the law of the sabbath; if no change has been made, except simply to substitute another day, then whatever degrees of spirituality were formerly included in the sanctification of the sabbath, are included in it still; and the prophet Isaiah is an authorized preacher to us on this subject. If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shall honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words,-this will fulfil the commandment concerning the way of observing the sabbath. It comports with the design and spirit of the day, as our Savior has taught us, to do good, that is, to do works of mercy, on the sabbath; which proves the lawfulness of the Sunday school system, and of the labors of the ministry: but to make the sabbath a season for pastime and sensual indulgence, is to profane the holy day of God; and though temporal penalties are not now the consequences of such iniquity, there is an invisible eye which sees it,