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in all our dealings. These precepts are not appropri. ate to the Sinai covenant. They extend to all beings; to all dispensations; to all times; and can never cease to be obligatory. These precepts were not properly added. They were previously in force,
We are then to consider the Church of God, after the resurrection of Christ, as holding the same moral position, that it held, anterior to the Sinai covenant. Norv, to the Church, in this state, there were appended three ordinances;* the sabbath, the passover, and cir. çumcision. We will begin with the sabbath.
It is a matter of debate among divines, whether the Sabbath was observed during the period which prececled the exodus. Those who wish to examine this subject minutely, will find assistance, in President Ed. wards's Discourses, upon the Change, and Perpetuity of the Sabbath ; in that part of Dr. Paley's Moral Philosophy, which treats upon this subject; and in Witsius, and Baxter. The limits we have prescrib. ed to ourselves will not admit of this investigation, Perhaps the observations which will be introduced, will convince the reader, that, as the Church did certainly exist, there is great reason to presume it never was without the enjoyment of the Sabbath; that it is as old as creation ; or, at least, as the introduction of the new covenant ; and that the observation of it cannot cease to be obligatory so long as the world endures.
It is a certain fact, that the Sabbath was appointed to Israel before the introduction of the Sinai covenant. See Exodus, xvi. 23. “And he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said. Tomorrow is the rest of the Holy Sabbath, unto the Lord.” In the foregoing verse it is said " And it came to pass, that on the sixth day, they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man." How came this pre
* Some perhaps will be offended that the term ordinance should be applied to the sabbath ; as we have been accustomed to speak of the ordinances of the Christian Church as two only, baptism and the Lord's supper. They will allow it to be an institution. But the words are so nearly synonymous, that the awar thor hopes he shall be indulged the liberty he takes, in applying the term ordia nance, to the sabbath also,
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ceding day to be counted the sixth day ; unless the practice of counting by weeks had been in use ? And how came the congregation, of their own accord, to gather twice as much on the sixth day, that they had gathered on any preceding day, but in respect to the sabbath of rest, which they knew was to follow ? And how did they so generally know this, unless they had been in the habit of observing it? These circum. stances do not look altogether like an original appointment; but as the recognition of an institution ; which, though it had gone into some neglect, under the bondage of Egypt, was of primitive standing
At any rate, the sabbath was here established. It was established anterior to the introduction of the Sinai covenant. Hence, in distinction from all the ritual precepts of that covenant, it was incorporated into the decalogue. This institution therefore did not expire with that covenant. It still continues, and is of permanent obligation even to the end of the world, unless there be a particular revocation of it.
This idea of the permanency of the sabbath will be confirmed, by considering its design, its use, and the character which the scriptures give to it. These things however we must run over with as much brevi. ty as possible.'
The design of the Sabbath is, that it should be a day of holy rest, to return at regular periods, for the refreshment of man, and the irrational animals under his care, and subject to his use; and that opportunity might be had for those spiritual employments, in which the glory, and felicity, and beauty of the Church consist and appear. Rest is the proper meaning of the term sabbath. And that rest is the thing in which it appropriately consists, is agreeable to the account giv. en of it in every place in which it is mentioned. The people were to rest from gathering manna. Rest is mentioned in the fourth commandment as the thing in which the sabbath is to be sanctified. “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy," to sanctify it. How ? The commandment proceeds to explain." Six days
shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh
Besides being a day of rest, the sabbath was coma memorative of the great work of creation ;, which, in the divine plan, was subordinate to the greater work of redemption. It was commemorative of the work of redemption itself, of which the Church is the subject. Hence the deliverance from Egypt, as an important part of this work, is particularly mentioned, as a reason why the Church was required to keep the sabbath. Deut. v. 14. “And remember that thou wasť 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.” This was a reason of the injunction, as appropriate to the Church, in distinction from the heathen world.
The sabbath is also a type of heaven ; and as such, presents an assurance to the believer of a speedy close of all the labors, and sorrows of the present world.
In the 31st chapter of Exodus, the sabbath is sp ok. en of in another view ; as a sign of God's gracious
relation to Israel, as their sanctifier, and the observance of it, on that account, is enjoined, not as a temporary institution, but as a perpetual covenant. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, Verily, my sabbath 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. - Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore, for it is holy unto you. Every one that de. fileth it shall be surely put to death ; for whosoever doth any work thereon, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Wherefore, the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath through. out their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever." Here the sabbath is placed on an exact parallel with circumcision, as a sign. It is another public standing token of the gracious covenant which God established with Israel. It is hence, by a metonymy, called the covenant, as circumcision is. On all these accounts, it is an endowment of infinite value. It cannot be too highly appreciated. The moral language of it, is that of holy affinity ; of covenant love. It testifies, in the most impressive and endearing manner, the blessed, and indissoluble union which subsists between God and his people. Hence it is spoken of, Isaiah lviii. 13, as claiming to be reputed, and treated, “ a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honorable:” The Church cannot then be divested of the sabbath. It is an irre vocable grant. “The gifts and callings of God are without repentance." His judgments he may withdraw; but his absolute, gracious bequests, he can never annul.
Let us now see what evidences there are in the New Testament, of the actual continuance of the sabbath, in the Gospel day. We are to remember, that the enquiry is as much, whether the sabbath be withdrawn as a blessing, as whether it hath ceased to be obligatory as a duty."
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• 1. If the sabbath be revoked in the New Testa, ment, the revocation is expressed, and can be found. But a revocation of it cannot be found. The sabbath therefore remains. .
The change of the sabbath, in' regard to the day in which it is observed, and which, more generally in the Christian Church, out of respect to Christ, and as commemorative of his resurrection, is called the Lord's day; allowing it to have taken place, as it is almost universally conceded that it has, under the authority of God, is not a revocation of it. The phrase change of the sabbath, supposes that the sabbath itself is continued. For to change and annul an institution, are different things. For a distinct elucidation of this matter, the reader is referred to President Edward's Discourses, above mentioned, on the change and per. petuity of the sabbath. Let it be only observed here, that the stress of the law respecting the sabbath, lies upon the nature of the day, as a day of holy rest, a sign of the covenant, a gift, a blessing, a type of heaven, a memorial, and upon its returning periodically after six days of labor. Whether it shall be this day or the other, is not indeed left to our discretion ; but still, is a circumstance, a mere modal affair. This change there. fore does not, cannot alter, or affect the thing itself. Suppose God had instituted a fast day, to be observed on that day which we now call Tuesday; and had afterwards ordered, that it should he observed on Wednesdays ; this alteration, being circumstantial, it is évident, would not determine that it is no longer the fast day, which God originally appointed. The change, in this case, would certainly prove the opposite ; that the fast day is continued. For it must be understood to continue, in order to be a subject of this new mod. ification. 2. 2. If Israel, as an indissolvable society, is the olive tree, introduced by Paul, in the 11th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans ; and if the broken off branches are to be graffed into it again, certainly the unbeliev. ing Jews, when the vail shall be taken from their heart,
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