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There were only three positive which he had made, we now do not institutions established at the crea- observe it on the seventh day, but tion. One was, the prohibition to on the first. eat of the tree of knowledge; which In opposition however to this expired, of course, with the expul- reasoning, it has already appeared; sion of our first parents from para- that the law of the Sabbath, though dise. The other two were, the Sab- a Divine law, and, as such, incabath and marriage. With respect pable of yielding to any views of to the latter of these ordinances, no mere expediency, or to any authority law has since passed to render the merely human, may yet be fitly actie of wedlock inalienable or indis- commodated and made to yield to soluble, by prohibiting polygamy any other appointment, also Divine. and divorce: and yet, when abuse's Thus, Moses gave the Jews circumhad crept into that primitive ap. cision, and they on the Sabbath-day pointment, our Lord did not inter- circumcised a man; nor was any pose anew his own authority, plainly blame inputed to them by our considering the original decrec as Saviour on that account. The instill binding, and a sufficient rule, defeasible obligation of the law notwithstanding past abuses, to all remained notwithstanding this ocfuture ages. He said, “ Have yé casional relaxation in compliance not read, that he which made with another decree; and though it them at the beginning made them might be neglected, that the Law of male and female, and said, For this Moses should not be broken, it cause shall a man leave father and could not be violated with a safe mother, and shall cleave to his wife; conscience for objects of human and they twain shall be one flesh? policy or expediency. Wherefore they are no more twain, There are many other instances of but one flesh. What therefore God Divine laws being interpreted so as hath joined together, let no man to accommodate them to other in. put asunder.” Surely, then, the dications of the Divine will. Thus, same reasoning, by which our Lord though the original law of the Sabhas enforced the sacredness of bath prescribed rest, and the Law of marriage, applies equally to the law Moses, engrafted upon it, prohibited of the Sabbath; both decrees having every kind of labour, yet, as sacribeen passed by the same authority, fices were to be offered on that at the same time, with reference to sacred day, and many servile works the same persons, and in terms of were necessary in order to prepare equally general import. God blessed the victims, we are told by our Sa. the seventh day, and sanctified it, viour himself, that on the Sabbathbecause that in it he had rested from day the priests in the temple proall his work, wbich God created and faned the Sabbath, and were blame. made.
less. And such was the paramount Still, however, it cannot be de- authority of the great law, of selfnied, with respect to this statute, preservation, that David, without that a circumstantial alteration has any offence being imputed to him, taken place in the time of observing when he was in extreme want, and it; an alteration so important, that they that were with him, “entered in the opinion of some it may seem
into the house of God, and did eat to' vitiate the sanctity of the whole the shew-bread, which was not lawobservance, and, if justified as a ful for him to eat, neither for them deviation from the original com- that were with him, but only for the mand, may equally justify an omis. priests." sion of it altogether; for, whereas The same observation also may the Sabbath was ordained, as a be made concerning the prohibition weekly celebration of the seventh to offer sacrifice, except at Jerusaday, when God ended his work lem, which continued in force till CHRIST. OBSERV. No. 294.
the very time of our Saviour, and which is equivalent to a second yet was as nothing, when compared creation ; a change from a state in with the greater command to wor. which it had been good for us if we ship only the true God: for, when had not been born, to one in which Elijah repaired another altar to re- we are made heirs of God and joint claim the Israelites from idolatry, heirs with Christ, is one which, more be was answered by fire from hea. than all others, may best warrant a ven; though, but for the apostacy merely circumstantial variation in to Baal, which had rendered any the particulars of a law, the prin. more regular worship of God im- ciple of which is still held in revepracticable, it would have been im- rence ; for, if God rested from the puted to him as a sin.
work of creation on the seventh day, Further instances may be found he rested from that of redemption in Scripture of circumstantial de- on the first. Accordingly, the first viations from the letter of a law, day of the week appears to have the principle of which was still held been substituted for the seventh sacred. Thus, though Moses had by the lively gratitude of Christians, determined the age at which the even in the days of the Apostles ; Levites should enter upon their duty and as God himself sanctified the and the whole order of the service seventh day by resting upon it after of the tabernacle, David, when the the work of creation, so he did hotemple was determined on, altered nour to the first day likewise, after them both, as designing to attain the work of redemption, by selecting the end which Moses had in view, it as the day for shedding forth by means better adapted to his new upon the Apostles the gifts of the circumstances. He therefore re. Holy Ghost, as well as for revealing garded the precept as inviolable, to his servant, Jolm, the things while he varied the circumstances which should be hereafter. This alof it at discretion under the influence teration of a circumstance, however, of the Spirit of God.
left the principle of the command These observations may be suf- as it was; for though a difference ficient to shew, that, even while a was made in the order of time, which Divine law remains in force, cir- cannot be the same all over the cumstantial deviations may from world, (for that which is day here, the letter of it occasionally be ne- is night in the opposite hemisphere,) cessary or justifiable. And where the same portion of time is still shall we find, or how can we imagine, consecrated to God, who from the any cause to justify a circumstantial beginning has required, and has deviation from an acknowledged never since revoked the requisition, rule, greater than that which oc- to have one day in seven separated casioned the alteration of the day of from worldly engagements, that it the Sabbath? To devote one day might be devoted to spiritual comin seven to hallowed rest is the munion and intercourse with him. principle of the command, to which self. the literal direction of it added, This view of the case, however, that the day selected should be the brings us to the only serious quesseventh. The principle of the law tion still remaining between the therefore is still held sacred by advocates and the opponents of the Christians, who yet consecrate the perpetuity of the Sabbath ; for we first day of the week to that service, do not think it necessary to notice instead of the seventh. The same in the present sketch the argument, time is withdrawn from labour, the grounded on Gal. iv. 9, 10, and saame interval given to God. Surely Col. ii. 16, 17, in which Saint Paul then a change in our condition, is thought to have condemned the such as that which the resurrection observance of a sabbatical day, as of Christ has made in it; a change a Jewish, and consequently an unchristian ceremonial. If there be The following hint, however, is not any truth in the foregoing remarks, without its value. the conclusion to which they lead
“ Clement Romanus, whom St. Paul us must govern our interpretation calls his fellow-labourer, whose name is of these and similar passages.
in the book of life,' says, that we are to But it is contended by many, who do all things in order, whatsoever our
Lord has commanded us to do. cannot but admit the observance of to perform our offerings and services at
We are the Lord's day by the Apostles and the stated times, for he hath ordered them primitive Christians, that an entire to be done, not rashly or disorderly, but separation was then made between at certain determinate times and hours.'
But what stated and determinate times the Lord's day and the Sabbath ;
can be so probably meant as the returns that the Lord's day therefore, as a of the weekly festival ? Clement is clearly day of rejoicing, is still binding upon speaking of religious services, for which he us as a debt of gratitude, but that says there were, even at that early period, the Sabbath is for ever abolished, ally be doubted that the Lord's day was
appointed seasons; and it cannot rationhaving expired with the Levitical the principal.” pp. 293, 294. system, which, according to them, “In the Catholic Epistle of Barnabas, gave it birth: and this representa
it is said, in explanation of Isaiah i. 13,
• Behold how he declares, The Sabbaths tion of the fact they are in the habit
which are now kept are not acceptable to of strengthening by an appeal to the me; but those alone which I have made ; early ecclesiastical writers; among when, resting from all things, I shall begin whom they are apt to say, that the
the eighth day, which is the beginning of
the other world. Wherefore we observe absence of all distinct allusion to a
the eighth day with gladness, on which cessation from work on the Lord's Jesus rose from the dead, and, having been day is almost as remarkable as the manifested openly, he ascended into heaomission of all notice of a patriar- ven. The eighth day, it is well known, chal Sabbath in the books of Ge
was a very common appellation, with the
ancient Christian writers, for the first day nesis and Exodus, till Constantine
of the week, or Sunday.” p. 295. enacted a law which is now conceived to proceed from higher au
passages, which thority.
speak only of the religious observ. The fathers unfortunately are so
ance of the Lord's day, to notice little studied by Protestants in our
those wbich either identify it with day, that an appeal to their autho- the divinely instituted Sabbath, or rity is generally a safe argument on
bear testimony to its being kept as any side to those who resort to it.
a day of rest. We are therefore much indebted “ Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, in Gaul, to Mr. Holden for the care and in
A. D. 178, if we may give credit to the
author of the Questions and Answers to dustry with which he has collected the Orthodox, inserted among the works passages calculated to throw light of Justin Martyr, speaks of the Lord's on the only part of the argument day as observed with peculiar ceremonies which still appears to require elu: Victor, relating to the paschal festival, he
by Christians. And in his Epistle to Pope cidation. We shall select several says, that the mysteries of our Lord's of those passages, from which our resurrection should be kept only on the readers may judge for themselves, Lord's day.” p. 297. how far the fathers of the primitive
“ Tertullian, about the end of the second church have left us at liberty to
century, affords indubitable evidence of
the custom, established in his time, of ob. doubt of the obligation of the Sab- serving a weekly festival. In condemning bath, or of the practice of the Chris- the practices of certain Christians, he says, tians of the first ages to abstain, as
• O superior fidelity of the heathens to
wards their sect, which disclaims the far as was practicable, from secular Christiun solemnities ! They would not occupations on the Lord's day. join us in celebrating the Lord's day or
The fathers of the first century the Pentecost, even if they were acquainthave left us but few writings of any
ed with them.'” pp. 298, 299.
“ In his refutation of Marcion, there is sort ; and nothing which they have
an argument, too long to quote; but the left is decisive of the point at issue. scope of which is to shew, that Christ did
pass over all
not design to abrogate the Sabbatical law, the death of the Apostles: the current of but to explain and amend it; and in the tradition was flowing in an uninterrupted course of which he asserts that neither and uncorrupted stream: many writings Christ nor the Creator have destroyed the and documents, now lost, were at that Sabbath : that Jesus called the Lord of period accessible to every inquirer; and the Sabbath, because he maintained it ut possibly the extraordinary operation of rem suam,' that as the Lord of the Sab- the Spirit had not yet altogether ceased; bath he did not altogether abolish it ; and from all which it may safely be inferred that he did not wholly rescind the Sab- that Constantine, and the men of his bath, the law of which he observed, prov- council, were both acquainted with the ing by his actions that he did not come to practice of the immediate followers of our destroy the law, but to fulfil it.
Lord, and acted conformably to it in giving “ Proceeding to the Christian fathers a legal sanction to a weekly festival in the of the third century, we find the most un- Christian church. equivocal attestation to the consecration “ After this period the appropriation of of the first day of the week, in the works Sunday was fortified by the decrees of of the learned, ingenious, and indefatiga- various councils, and by imperial laws, the ble Origen, who was born A. D. 181 or chief of which may be seen in Suicer, Hey. 185, and died A. D. 253. In his Treatise lin, Bingham; and the due consecration of against Celsus, he says, “If any one object it was inculcated by the learned doctors to our observances of the Lord's dayof the church.” pp. 311, 312. (Good) Friday, Easter, and Pentecost, it “ Athanasius, who flourished A.D. 326, is answered, that a perfect (Christian) who in his Exposition of Psalm cxvii. 24, . This in word, deed, and thought, is ever with is the day which the Lord hath made,' his natural Lord, the Word of God, always remarks : • What day can here be meant, observes the days sacred to him, and keeps but the day of our Lord's resurrection? the Lord's days. Commenting upon the What day but that which brought salvasixteenth chapter of Exodus, he says, “I tion to all nations, in which the stone that ask, on what day was manna first given was rejected became the head of the corfrom heaven ? and I desire to compare our ner? The expression signifies our Lord's Lord's day with the Jewish Sabbath. resurrection-day, that which was entitled From the sacred Scriptures it appears that from him, that is to say, the Lord's day.' manna was first given on the Lord's day; He condemns certain persons, Arians, for if, as the Scripture says, it was gather- who did not reverence the sacred festival ed on six successive days, but on the of the Lord's day.' In another place he seventh day, which is the Sabbath, it says : • The Sabbath was the end of the ceased, without doubt it commenced on first creation, but the Lord's day the bethe first day, which is the Lord's day. If, ginning of the second, when he renewed therefore, it is clear from the sacred Scrip- the old (creation). Therefore, as he fortures that God rained from heaven more merly ordered the Sabbath-day to be obmanna on the Lord's day, and rained none served, in commemoration of the end of on the Sabbath, let the Jews learn from his first works, so we venerate the Lord's this, that the Lord's day, which we ob- day as a commemoration of the beginning serve, was even then preferred to the Jews of his second, which were a renovation; ish Sabbath ; and that it was then indi- for he did not make a new creation, but recated, that on their Sabbath no grace of newed the old one, and perfected that God descended upon them from heaven, which he had commenced.', 'So also (he no bread of heaven, which is the Word of observes) we celebrate the Lord's day on God, came to them, &c.'
account of the resurrection ;' and again, “ Constantine was born about A. D. The Lord transferred the Sabbath-day 273, and died A. D. 337. He was the to the Lord's day.'”. pp. 313, 314. first emperor who made public profession Hilary, bishop of Poictiers, flourished of Christianity: and he promulged several about the year 354, and in making some laws for the regular and orderly observance observations upon the septenary and eighth of the Lord's day. By a general enact. number, he expressly mentions the Lord's ment he commanded, as Eusebius ex- day, adding, though the name and observpresses it, that those who lived within the
ance of the Sabbath were first appointed Roman empire should rest on the day en- on the seventh day ; yet we on the eighth titled from our Saviour,' i. e. the Lord's day, which is also the first, rejoice with day. He likewise passed a law that those the joy of a true Sabbath."" p. 317. who governed in the provinces should re- “ The last authority to which appeal verence the Lord's day.” pp. 307, 308. shall be made is Augustine, the celebrated
" He must have believed that he was bishop of Hippo Regius in Africa, who acting agreeably to the precepts and prac- died A. D. 430, in the seventy-sixth year tice of the Apostles, when he established of his age. le
• The resurrection by his imperial edicts the observance of of our Lord is to us the pledge of eternal the Lord's day; and it cannot be conceive day, and hath consecrated to us the Lord's ed that he was entirely mistaken in the day. That which is called the Lord's day matter., Ilis laws l'especting it were pron properly belongs to the Lord, because fulged but little more than 200 years after he rose on that day,' Againi, We 50of public praise and thanksgiving to the “The primitive fathers assert that we are Deity. Not only are they reconcileable, to worship God, not by a mere hebdomadal but mutually friendly to each other ; the service, but continually ; not on one day Lord's day does not prevent the daily in the week alone, but at all times, which secret worship, and unceasing veneration has been supposed irreconcileable with of God, nor does this militate against the the notion of a Sabbath. Thus, Justin appropriation of the Lord's-day to his Martyr says,
lemnly celebrate the Lord's day, the times and seasons. In opposition to such, Paschal, and some other Christian festi- these venerable fathers affirm, that we must vals.' Also, · The Lord's day was made cherish an abiding sense of religion, that we known, not to Jews, but to Christians, by must not only worship the Creator on certain the resurrection of the Lord, from which days, but preserve a continual reverence it took its origin as a festival.' Again : of him in the mind; and that, by retaining
If a Jew by keeping holy the Sabbath an unceasing, operative principle of piety denies the Lord's day, how can a Chris- in the heart, every day may be made, as it tian observe the Sabbath? Either let us were, a Christian festival. In this all sinbe Christians and keep holy the Lord's cere Christians will coincide, while they day,” &c. pp. 320, 321.
strenuously support the obligation of a To these quotations we must add weekly holy day. Our faith is not merely a part of Mr. Holden's reply to
to be exhibited at certain times, and in those who argue, from other pas- active principle
, pervading the whole heart,
certain places; it should become an eversages in the early fathers, that the
and influencing every thought, word, and Sabbath of which they spoke was deed, from its first implantation in the spiritually observed, and must be soul, to the termination of life; yet the
Sabbatical institution is needful as well for figuratively interpreted of the per- the culture and advancement of the relipetual rest from sin to which the gious principle, as for offering the incense Christian is called.
« The new law demands more immediate service." pp. 328–330. the observance of a perpetual Sabbath.'
Origen likewise reasons upon the as. pp. 326, 327.
sumption that the Sabbath was no longer “ Origen says, “ Tell me, ye who fre- obligatory after the coming of Christ; and quent the church on festival days alone,
similar sentiments are proclaimed by most are not all days festivals ? Are they not
of the ancient fathers, to some of whom, all the Lord's? It belongs to the Jews
as it would be tedious to cite them, I reto observe certain solemn days. Hence
fer in the margin. God says to them, Bring no more vain “ But all the declarations of this kind, oblations : incense is an abomination unto it is to be observed, have reference to the me; the new moons and Sabbaths, the Jewish Sabbath and they only amount to calling of assemblies, I cannot away with: this, that, so far as the Sabbath was a Leit is iniquity, even the solemn meeting:
vitical institution, it is no longer binding Your new moons and your appointed upon Christians ; a position to which the feasts my soul hateth : they are a trouble most strenuous advocates of the Chrisunto me: I am weary to bear them.' God tian weekly festival will instantly and therefore abhors those who believe one cheerfully accede. The truth of this obday (only) to be the festival of the servation is demonstrated, first, by the Lord. Christians every day eat the flesh concurring attestation of the fathers to the of the Lamb, that is, they daily take of obligation of a septenary festival under the flesh of the Word of God, (i. e. in the the Gospel ; and, secondly, by their conholy sacrament).' Jerome also declares, trasting, in many of the passages referred
that all days are equal ; tha t Christ was to, the Jewish festival on the seventh day, not only crucified on the Friday, and rose with the Christian festival on the first, again only on the Lord's day, but that or, as they frequently call it, the eighth every day is the holy day of his resurrec- day of the week. These circumstances zjon, and that at all times the Lord's body clearly prove that these learned and venermay be eaten (in the sacrament). But able men, in speaking of the abolition of fasts and assemblies on certain days were the Sabbath, refer solely to it as it conconstituted by men of prudence, on ac- stituted a part of the Mosaic dispensation. count of those who are more devoted to They would not palpably contradict themthe world than to God, and who are nei selves ; and, as they asserted the duty of ther able nor willing to assemble in the consecrating a weekly day to religion, they church continually.'
must, when mentioning the abrogation of “ These passages, though by far the the Sabbath, have meant that the Levitistrongest that I have met with in the an- cal ordinance of the Sabbath was no longer cient fathers, are by no means hostile to in force. This might be further confirm. the observance of a Christian Sabbath. ed by certain expressions and circumThe context, of which they form a part, stances in the passages appealed to; but a plainly shews that they are directed against more particular examination may be wavthose who confine their religion to certain ed, as the general observations just now