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PART IV.

THOUGHTS ON THE SABBATH.

ANSWERS TO OBJECTIONS.

WHEN I sat down to communicate my

Thoughts on the Sabbath" to the “ Christian Observer," my design was to avoid, as much as possible, the appearance of controversy; and merely to state what I conceived to be the doctrine of Scripture. But as this subject has been treated at large by a modern Author, of high reputation in the learned world, who has shewn the great utility of sabbatical institutions, but whose views do not altogether coincide with mine, it might appear supercilious in me to omit taking particular notice of the arguments which he has adduced to prove, that the Sabbath was not instituted till after the departure of the Israelites from Egypt, and remained in force only during the Jewish dispensation. In my preceding papers I have not been inattentive to the arguments of this Author, and have already, in effect, given a reply to some of them. I now proceed to consider those of which I have hitherto taken no notice, or to which my answers have not been sufficiently explicit

1. This Author candidly acknowledges, that “ if the divine command was actually delivered at the creation, it was addressed, no doubt, to the whole human species alike, and continues, unless repealed by some subsequent revelation, binding upon all who come to the knowledge of it.” *

It becomes us, then, to weigh with the utmost caution the words of Scripture, respecting the transactions of the “ seventh day,” as recorded in the Book of Genesis. If this passage declares, that God then blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; all debate about the extent of the obligation of a sabbatical institution is precluded.t

Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, 8vo. edition, vol. ii. page 80.

+ Ibid.

But it is objected, that “ the words," Genesis ii. 3, do not assert that God then blessed and sanctified the seventh day; but that he blessed and sanctified it for that reason,” “ because that on it he had rested from all his work,” &c.; “ and if any ask, why the Sabbath, or sanctification of the seventh day, was then mentioned, if it was not then appointed ; the answer is at hand; the order of connexion, and not of time, introduced the mention of the Sabbath, in the history of the subject which it was ordained to commemorate."

I am here at issue with the Author whom I have quoted, as, in my apprehension, the words in Genesis do clearly assert, that God then blessed and sanctified the seventh day, as well as that he sanctified it, because that on it he had rested from all his work of creation.

In the first, and beginning of the second chapter of Genesis, we have a distinct chronological account of the transaction of the first seven days, after it had pleased God to begin the stupendous work of creation. The trans

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Paley's Principles of Moral and Political Philosophy, 8vo, edition, vol. ii. page 76.

actions of the seventh day are as distinctly marked as those of any other day, with this difference only, that with respect to the six preceding days the work is first mentioned, and then the day; whereas, with respect to the seventh, the day is first mentioned, and then its transactions are enumerated.

On the first day, God said, “ Let there be light, and there was light.” On the sixth, “ God created man in his own image;" and, on the seventh day, " God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made; and God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that on it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made." All the transactions enumerated in this passage belong to the seventh day as clearly, in my apprehension, as the creation of man belongs to the sixth ; nor can I discover any thing in the passage, except the division into verses, which could mislead a reader of plain understanding. On the seventh day God ended his work and rested, and blessed the day, and sanctified it. All these things are mentioned as having taken place on that day. It is as expressly declared that he then blessed and sanctified the day, as that he rested on it. I do not know

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how we can prove any thing from the Scripture, if a passage so plain as this is not to be understood in its obvious sense, unless some subsequent revelation, equally clear, had compelled us to adopt another meaning.

The literal sense of the words is confirmed by the reason which is given for the sanctification of the seventh day. God sanctified the day,

because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” One design of the original institution was to celebrate the work of creation; and when should we expect the celebration to commence? Surely at the time immediately succeeding the transaction to be celebrated. The Almighty has, since the creation, frequently appointed periodical times and significant actions for the purpose of commemorating signal interpositions of his Providence, or remarkable mercies vouchsafed to mankind. In all these cases the celebration was directed to commence from the period of the mercy to be celebrated. The Passover began with the deliverance of the Israelites, and the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper at the death of Christ. But to suppose that an institution, designed to commemorate the creation of the world, had no existence till two thousand years after the event, is so strange in itself,

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