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and they shall turn unto the Lord, will be restored to the enjoyment of their sabbath. For they will partake with the adopted Gentiles, of the root and fatness of the olive tree. To this period, the prophet Isaiah at the close of his prophecy, has evident respect; and his words, therefore prove, that the restored Jews, with the Gentiles, will enjoy their sabbath. “ For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord; so shall your seed, and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.”
3. The declaration of Christ, Matthew xii. 8. “ For the son of man is Lord, even of the sabbath day,"? clearly implies, that the sabbath belongs perpetually to the kingdom, of which he is the visible head, The declaration which precedes this, in Mark ii, 27, is al, so corroborative of the same thing. The sabbath was made for man.” It is a blessing of the covenant of which Christ is the mediator, and designed altogether for the benefit of those who are the subjects of that couenant. It is then as certainly perpetual, as the covenant itself is perpetual.
4. The actual continuance of the sabbath under the Gospel dispensation, and after the Sinai covenant was abolished, is evident, from Mat. xxiv, 20. This passage it will be remembered, respected an event which took place about forty years after Christ's ascension. " And pray ye, that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” If Christ had foreknown that the seasons were to be immediately discontinued, the direction to his hearers, to pray that their flight might not be in the winter, would have been imper. tinent; and would, as he must have known, have ex. posed him to the imputation of having given a direc, tion altogether futile, and even ridiculous. If he had foreknown that the sabbath was to be discontinued ; and he must have foreknown' it, if it were to be the case ; for he was Lord of the sabbath day; his direc
tion respecting the sabbath, would have been equally impertinent, and have exposed him to the same imputation.
5. As a farther confirmation of the actual perpetua. tion of the sabbath, in the Gospel day, and after the accession of the Gentiles, we may notice the words of Paul, I. Corinthians xvi. 2. “Upon the first day of the week (Kale mien oabbulwv, literally, upon one of the sabbaths) let every one of you &c.”
If the present translation be correct, still the use of the word oc6balwv will imply the continuance of the sábbath. How can weeks be continued at all, scripturally and religiously, but upon the principle of the continu. ance of the sabbath ? Notices of the continuance of the sabbath, and of the observance of it by the Apos. țles, are to be found repeatedly in the book of Acts ; but it is not thought necessary to give them a particular attention..
The indispensable necessity of the day for the fur. therance of religion, the conversion of sinners, and their edification when converted, for the manifesta. tion of Christ, and the accomplishment of God's purposes relative to Zion, is a cogent argument of its continuance. If the sabbath was necessary to present the Church to the view of the world, as an army with banners, under the former dispensation, it is no less necessary for this purpose under the latter.
Two passages are brought forward by those who oppose this doctrine, as favoring, if not proving the discontinuance of the sabbath. The first is in Rom. xiv. 5. ".One man esteemeth one day above another ; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Here the A. postle is supposed to admit, that the distinction between the sabbath and other days, was obsolete; therefore that the sabbath was nolonger a matter of obligation, but of opinion. The sabbath, it is to be here recollected, was not imposed as a burden, from which the Church was to be relieved; but given, as a blessing, which it was to enjoy. It is to be remembered also, that the Chris. tians at Rome consisted partly of native Jews, and partly of Gentiles. The believing Jews retained strong prejudices in favor of all the observances of their ancient religion. The Gentiles, on the other hand, had prejudices against them. It could hardly be otherways the, than that there should be disagreements among these christians, about several things belonging to the Jewish law. To these disagreements the apostle has respect in this chapter. He begins thus, “ Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." Here are the things he is going to treat of things of doubtful disputation; things, which he himself could not, or did not think it pru. dent then, expressly to settle. The sabbath, so repeat. edly and solemnly enjoined, and with such a highly important design, could hardly have come under this description. He speaks of days supposed to be consecrated. But these days stand in connexion with eating, or not eating particular kinds of food; which circumstance does not at all apply to the sabbath. These days therefore, ought to be understood as fast, or festival days; and several such days were ordained in, and were peculiar to the Sinai law. “For one believeth that he may eat all things. Another, who is weak, eateth herbs.” The discourse upon clean, and unclean things, eating, and not eating, runs through the chapter. When therefore, he says, as in the 5th verse, “ One man esteemeth, &c." he ought, in fair. ness, to be understood as speaking of these days. At any rate, here is nothing express respecting the sabbath. And if there were, there is certainly nothing which amounts to a revocation of it. The most that the passage teaches, even upon the supposition that the apostle alludes to the sabbath, in connexion with other consecrated days, is, that each one should labor to possess the truth; and that forbearance should be exercised in case of disagreement, if that disagreement do not appear to result from a contumacious spirit. · Had the sabbath, with all other consecrated days, been openly and formally set aside, such a controversy
as that which is brought into view in this chapter, could - hardly have subsisted. The cause of it seems to have been, that which is at the foundation of many disputes and divisions at the present day ; the not distinguish. ing carefully between anterior institutions and laws ; and those which were added, as peculiar to the covenant of Sinai, which only have waxed old, and vanished away. The observance of the sabbath was continued under the authority of Christ, and his apostles. The usages which were sanctioned by the Sinai cove. nant, did not actually cease at once, with the removal of that covenant. They were abolished gradually, as the weak believers among the Jews could bear. Hence it was natural enough for those Jews to contend, that if the sabbath was to be observed, the other cousecrated days ought to be observed likewise. This dispute the apostle manages, with the same spirit of accominodation, with which he circumcised Timothy, kept the feast at Jerusalem, and conformed, on occasions, to several things in the ritual law.
The other passage brought forward as an objection, is in Calos. ii. 16, 17. “Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths." What sabbaths were these ? The term sabbath was first applied to the seventh day. Afterwards it was applied as de. scriptive of all the consecrated days of the Sinai covenant. See Leviticus xxiii. 32, and 38. As the plu. ral therefore is used, there seems to be reason to presume, that, as in the former case, the apostle had respect to these days of the Sinai law. The 4th verse, if attended to, will convince us that he had. “ Blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” What was this hand writing of ordinances ? It was what he calls, in his letter to the Ephesians, “ the middle wall of partition.” It was the ritual of the Sinai covenant. But it has been prov, ed that the primitive sabbath did not belong to this covenant. The passage therefore, cannot prove the discontinuance of the sabbath,
The fact of the change of the sabbath from the seve enth, to the first day, as having taken place under the authority of God, is admitted by the whole Christian Church, a few individuals excepted. The universal, undisputed practice of the Chutch in the earliest and purest times of it, and as ordered by the Apostles themselves, is conclusive evidence, both of the perpetu. ity of the sabbath, and of this circumstantial change respecting it. “ All Christians” says Dr. Mosheim, “ were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Savior arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship. This pious custom, which was derived from the example of the Church of Jerusalem, was founded upon the express appointment of the Apostles, who consecrated that day to the same sacred purpose, and was observed universally throughout all the Christian Churches, as appears from the united testimonies of the most credible writers.”
This change was evidently necessary, to mark the accomplishment of the typical system, respecting Christ ; as a public standing testimony, that he was come, and was risen from the dead ; that the promises were accomplished in the purification of Israel and the accession of the Gentiles; and that these were the last times ; especially, and signally, the accepted times, and the day of salvation.
As the sabbath, and not the less evidently on account of this modification, is perpetuated, in the essential na. ture of it, as a holy rest, an ordinance forever, a sign of the covenant, á public standing token that God is in · the midst of the Church, to sanctify it, a pledge of his love, commemorative of the accomplishment of the great work of our redemption, and a type of heaven, it ought to be received, and observed conscientiously by all Christians, as a most precious blessing of the covenant. All labor ought to be suspended during the complete day, according to the original requirement. No work ought to be done upon it, but such as is of absolute necessity, and the dictate of mercy. The day
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