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world. The sanctions of the Sabbath were undoubtedly increased by the Mosaic law; as the breach of it was, by that law, made a capital offence. But this was not peculiar to the Fourth Commandment; and was a circumstance belonging to the policy, rather than to the religion of the Jews.
I cannot conceive a more delightful exercise to a heavenly-minded person, than that of spending a day in the manner described by the Prophet Isaiah. If the Jews, instead of confining their attention to these spiritual services, preferred a number of unnecessary restraints, we must not form our judgment of the real duties of the Sabbath from their conduct. We know that the further they deviated from the pure word of God in other instances, the more careful they were to make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments ; nor were they ever more strict in tything mint, anise, and cummin, than when they neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice, mercy, and the love of God.
THOUGHTS ON THE SABBATH,
UNDER THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION.
The approbation of one day in seven to the worship of God, and other religious exercises, having been made a branch of the moral law, as summed up in the Ten Commandments; and that law being confessedly, with respect to nine of the Commandments, of universal and perpetual obligation : nothing more is needful to prove the authority of the Fourth Commandment, under the Gospel Dispensation, than to show that it has not been abrogated in the New Testament.
Our blessed Saviour, in his Sermon on the Mount, hath assured us, in the most explicit terms, that it was not his design to abrogate any part of the moral law.
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” Matthew v. 17, 18. He also denounced a curse upon any one, who, by his conduct and doctrine, should set aside the law. “ Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew v. 9.
Our Saviour was undoubtedly speaking of the moral law, as contained in the Ten Commandments ; for, immediately after these declarations, he proceeded to expound the Sixth, Seventh, and Third Commandments, as parts of that law of which he was discoursing, with a view to remove the false glosses which the Jews had put upon them, and to shew their spiritual nature and their extent.
The perpetual obligation of the whole moral law cannot be expressed in stronger terms than those which our Lord has used. If it had been his design to rescind a tenth part of the law, he surely would not have declared, in this solemn manner, that not one jot or tittle of it should be rescinded.
The same doctrine is taught by the Apostle Paul, in Romans iii. 31. “Do we then make void the law through faith ? God forbid : yea, we establish the law.” But an important branch of the law is made void through faith, if the gospel annuls the obligation of the Fourth Commandment.
Let us then weigh the import of those passages in the New Testament, which have been thought by some to imply an abrogation of the Fourth Commandment, and consider whether they are not capable of a sound interpretation, which is consistent with these plain declarations of our Redeemer and his Apostles.
An opinion has been adopted, that the appointment of the first day of the week, for the public religious exercises of Christians, is a tacit abrogation of the Fourth Commandment, which appoints the seventh day for the celebration of the Sabbath. But it is obvious that this change is merely circumstantial, and does not interfere with the essence of the command. The last day of the week was undoubtedly appropriated by the Fourth Commandment ; but it is remarkable, that the words may be applied to any day in the seven. We are enjoined to pursue our ordinary labours during six days, and on every seventh day to rest. This injunction is fulfilled, whatever day of the seven be the day of rest. The reason given in this Commandment for the observance of the institution is, that it pleased God to occupy six days in the creation of heaven and earth, and to rest from his work on the seventh day. Our regards are not diverted from a due consideration of God's love in creating us, by the alteration of the day appropriated to the Sabbath; though we are thereby directed to the celebration of a blessing superior to that of creation.
It is worthy of observation, that during the Jewish dispensation, another act of love, on the part of our gracious Creator, is mentioned as the reason for observing a sabbatical rest. “ 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.” Deuteronomy v. 15. Hence we see, that the motive for observing one day in seven, as a Sabbath to the Lord, may be changed, without any change in the Commandment.
Our Saviour seems to have alluded to a future change in the day of the week, to be