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which were express commandments there are some traces of a computa
of the Lord himself, and those which spoke merely, as he modestly expresses it, the advice of one who had obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful; and, while the practice of the universal church should have its just weight, the authority of a particular church might often indulge its members in practices not countenanced by the general body. The Book of Sports, for instance, if adopted by the Church of England, would amount to something like an abrogation of the observance of the Christian Sabbath in this country; but such a repeal would be of no authority, for that institution is a commandment of the Lord.
On this serious subject, therefore, we will copy Dr. Whately's example by exhibiting concisely the chief arguments on either side; prefixing to them, however, what he in his dissertation upon the intermediate state has omitted, a brief epitome of the facts on which those arguments are founded. Our labour is perhaps in part supererogatory, as the leading features of the argument are doubtless familiar to our readers; or they may refer to them in numerous works on the subject-among which we must particularly remind them of the Rev. D. Wilson's cheap but comprehensive treatise, lately published, more especially as much of it has especial reference to Dr. Whately's objections, which Mr. Wilson most satisfactorily refutes. There are also many valuable papers, from the pens of various correspondents, in our own volumes; especially one from that of the Rev. Thomas Scott, in our volume for 1817, p. 345. But as objections are brought forward anew, we think it better to trespass by repetition, than to leave any one of our readers wholly uninformed on so important a subject.
The original institution of the Sabbath is thus recorded by Moses: "God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made." Afterwards,
tion of time by weeks before the Flood: for example; in Gen. vii. 4, "Yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights:" Gen. viii. 10-12, "Noah staid yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove: and he staid yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove." The Lord's Sabbath was also respected by the Lord himself, before the Mosaical law, in the miraculous supply of manna to the people of Israel in the wilderness : On the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily" (Exod. xvi. 5). And when the people neglected this admonition, the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days" (Exod. xvi. 28, 29). After this the Ten Commandments were delivered from Mount Sinai, and written on tables of stone; of which the fourth alone is introduced with the solemn word
Remember!" "Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” Subsequently there were various other Sabbaths appointed in the law of Moses; but this is pre-eminently distinguished from them all, as "The Sabbath," or the "Lord's Sabbath." A stronger stress is laid upon the observance of it, and a severe penalty is inflicted for its violation. In recapitulating, however, the Ten Commandments in the Book of Deuteronomy, some other particulars are added to the law, which were not inscribed upon the two tables: "And, 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." After this the seventh day continued to be set apart in Israel till the time of our Saviour. And even in heathen countries, where the institution of the Sabbath was unknown, some mysterious sacredness-a vestige possibly of this primeval revelation-seems to have been attached to the number seven: it was αοριστου πληθους σημαντικον : and in collecting remarkable facts, there were selected seven wise men, seven wise sayings, and seven wonders of the world. The inspired prophets, in alluding to the Lord's Sabbath, single it out from all other institutions, as involving principles coextensive with the whole of religion. Thus Isaiah says, lviii. 13, 14; “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath A delight, The holy of the Lord, Honourable; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord." And a similar passage occurs in Jer. xvii. 24-27. Our Saviour often spoke of the Sabbath, which he declared to have been made for man; at the same time asserting himself to be the Lord of it; and he frequently interposed his authority to preserve it from being overlaid by traditionary restrictions beyond the design of the law (Mark ii. 23—iii. 5; Luke xiii. 10-17; John vii. 22-24). After our Lord's ascension into heaven, it is plain, from many instances, that the first day of the week came soon to be called "the Lord's-day," at least by the Gentile converts, and indeed by the Apostles themselves; and to be celebrated by the meeting of the disciples for prayer and praise whether it was also distinguished by abstinence from work does not appear: and the silence of the Apostles on the whole subject of the Sabbath is certainly remarkable; the very word being only mentioned by St. Paul in a single passage, where he is speaking of Jewish observances, which are
abolished (Col. ii. 16, 17). Afterwards we have little direct evidence, till the time of Constantine, of the regard in which this day was held by Christians; except that Tertullian, about the end of the second century, asserts that Christ did not design to abrogate the Sabbatical law, but to explain and amend it; that neither Christ, nor the Creator destroyed the Sabbath, but that Jesus is called its Lord, because he maintained it, as his own province. Origen, in the third century, has the following argument on the xvith chapter of Exodus: "I desire to compare our Lord'sday with the Jewish Sabbath. From the Sacred Scriptures it appears that. manna was first given on the Lord'sday; for if, as the Scripture says, it was gathered on six successive days, but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, it ceased, without doubt it commenced on the first day, which is the Lord's-day. If, therefore, it is clear from the Sacred Scriptures that God rained from heaven more manna on the Lord'sday, and rained none on the Sabbath, let the Jews learn from this, that the Lord's-day, which we observe, was even then preferred to the Jewish Sabbath." At the same time, the mode then adopted for distinguishing the two days, was by leaving to the seventh day, which was kept by the Jews, the name of the Sabbath; and giving to the first, or, as it was often reckoned, the eighth day of the week, the name of the Lord's-day: and the same practice is still preserved in the Latin names of the week, which designate Saturday as dies Sabbati, and Sunday as dies Dominica; notwithstanding which designations, the edict of Constantine explicitly declared the first day of the week to be the Christian Sabbath.
From this series of facts, those who think the Divine law of the Sabbath to be exclusively a Jewish institution reason as follows
"It is not said in Genesis, that the Lord hallowed the seventh day at that time, but, for that reason ; and as Moses
was writing for the Israelites, who were charged to keep the Sabbath, it was natural that, when recording the creation in six days, he should advert to the day which they observed in commemoration of it. This, I say, he would naturally have done, even had there never been any such observance till the delivery of the Law from Sinai: just as any writer now, who should notice, in a summary of Gospel-history, the Annunciation' to the Virgin Mary, might naturally remark that this is the event which Christians annually celebrate under the title of our Lord's Day: " without. at all meaning to imply that the festival was instituted at this or that period." Difficulties, p. 344.
"But if any persons are convinced that it was given to Adam, and also conclude, thence, that it must bind all his posterity, they are of course, at least equally, bound by the (recorded) precept to Noah relative to abstinence from blood. Any one who admits these obligations, and complies with them just as they were given, observing not the first, but the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath, is acting on a system, which, though it may be erroneous, is at least intelligible and consistent. But he who acknowledges a Divine command to extend to himself, ought to have an equally express Divine command to sanction any alteration in it." Difficulties, p. 345.
"It will be plainly seen, on a careful examination of the accounts given by the Evangelists, that Jesus did decidedly and avowedly violate the Sabbath; on purpose, as it should seem, to assert, in this way, his Divine authority. For instance, when He healed the cripple at the pool of Bethesda, He commanded him to take up his bed, and go to his house:' now, the objections of the Pharisees to such an act of charity as healing on the Sabbath-day, may be regarded as frivolous; but the man's carrying his bed was a manifest violation of the Sabbath, and could not be called an act of necessity or charity; yet it was expressly commanded; on purpose, as it seems, to shew, that the Son of Man' claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath;' (that is, to have the Divine power of dispensing with God's positive enactments;) of the justness of which claim the miracle He wrought afforded proof.
"So also, when his disciples were censured for rubbing out the grains of corn on the Sabbath, his defence of them plainly turns on his own especial authority. He alludes to the case of David and his companions, who ate, not without the permission of the priest, the shew-bread which it was not lawful for any but the priests to eat: this was, 1st, tacitly acknowledging that the act of his disciples was in itself as unlawful as the eating of the shew-bread
by any but a priest; 2dly, it was claiming for Himself, at least, equal authority with the priest, who dispensed with the rule in
David's favour; 3dly, it was claiming rather more authority; because there was not, in this case, as in David's, the plea of urgent necessity. But then, He proceeds to compare this case with that of the 'priests in the Temple,' who were permitted to profane the Sabbath, by doing the necessary work for the Templeservice: now, this could not mean that the example of the priests in the Temple authorized all men to go about their ordinary business on the Sabbath; but that example did apply to the disciples who were occupied in ministering to Him, who was himself the Temple, in whom all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt; and who, on another occasion, to which I conceive He was in this place alluding, claims for himself the very title of the Temple.' Lastly, He declares that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath,' inasmuch as the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. On this passage, which has often been but indistinctly understood, it may be remarked, 1st, that it implies an actual violation of the Sabbath; else it would have been needless to plead a supreme power over that ordinance: 2dly, that it not only cannot imply that any other man had a similar dispensing power, but implies the very reverse; else it would have been nugatory to claim for the Son of Man' (the title by which Jesus distinguished himself) a power which others might equally claim; 3dly, that these are not (as some have represented) two distinct remarks, but stand in the relation of premise and conclusion; the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; therefore the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath.' He evidently means, that though He made no pretensions to a dispensing power in respect of moral duties, (man being made for them), positive ordinances on the contrary, being made for man' (i. e. designed as means,-often as local or temporary means to facilitate man's improvement) might be dispensed with or abrogated by the same authority which established them; viz. by the Divine authority, which he claimed. The reasoning, at full length, and stated regularly, will stand thus: Any positive ordinance (i. e. one made for man, and not man for it) may be dispensed with by my (Divine) authority: the Sabbath is such an ordinance therefore the Sabbath may be dispensed with by my authority.'" Difficulties, pp. 346-349.
On the other hand, to persons who take an opposite view of this question it appears that the explanation of the statement in Genesis, above alleged, is gratuitous; that it is impossible to allude to the Sabbath as an existing prove that Moses meant merely to law, and not to relate the history of
its Divine original; that the extreme brevity of his narrative forbids the idea of his thus turning aside out of the order of his materials to allude to subsequent occurrences; that the simple statement of Moses bears no trace of such a digression; that no expression occurs in it which can countenance the gloss; that "it is not said in Genesis, The Lord hallowed the Sabbath-day at that time, but for that reason; ;" that, in the absence of any such distinct expression, a declaration of fact must be taken as having happened in the order of time in which it is related; and that our Lord's reasoning, in more than one passage, confirms this interpretation. Thus, when he deduces the law of marriage from the saying in Gen. ii. 24, he shews that moral duties of perpetual obligation may be deduced from the brief statements of Moses in these two chapters: and yet on this question, also, it might be argued, with as much plausibility as on the other, that the expression relates rather to a future state of the ordinance, when our Saviour should prohibit polygamy, than to an original appointment of the marriage contract. But our Lord shuts out such an inference by his conclusion: from the beginning it was not So. Again, when he declares "the Sabbath was made for man"-not for the Jew, but for man-he intimates the universality and perpetuity of its design, and sends us back, as it were, to the era of the creation; seeming almost to say to us, by the tenor of his statement, "From the beginning it was so, and unto the end it shall be so." They perceive, also, something apparently significant in the change of the seventh day for the Sabbath in the concluding clause of the Fourth Commandment itself, where, as the variation of the order of the clauses in the Tenth Commandment, as quoted in Deuteronomy, precludes the Romish division of the Decalogue, so the future substitution of the Sabbath for the seventh day appears to indicate, that, notwithstanding such a circumstantial change
as that of the first day for the seventh, the sacredness of the Sabbath should remain. The general mysteriousness attached to the number seven, appears to them also to confirm their belief in an original revelation: for to say that the Gentiles learned it from the number of the planets, and not from primitive tradition, would be as blind a solution of the fact as to attribute the knowledge of a future state, which was possessed by the Jews in our Saviour's time, to their intercourse with heathen philosophers.
As for the prohibition of blood to Noah, the meaning of that prohibition is explained in Lev. xvii. 11. It was a sign; and when the thing signified by the symbol arrived, the token became unnecessary. The Sabbath also is a sign; it is a sign of the rest which remaineth unto the people of God. When, therefore, the thing signified by the Sabbath shall come, this sign also will be abolished.
To the argument, that no alteration can be made in a positive command under any altered circumstances, we may best reply by adducing instances in which similar alterations have been made without blame. Thus David altered the age at which the Levites were to enter on the service of the tabernacle; and Elijah offered the sacrifice which called down fire from heaven, upon a different altar from that in Jerusalem.
The law of Moses did certainly. add to the simple institution of the Sabbath certain minute directions, as it did to the other laws of God: and those additions, being designed for the Israelites, cease to be binding when the Gentiles are called to the church. But there is no such addition in the Fourth Commandment itself, which recites the original decree, and calls upon the people of God to remember it.
Nor is it clear that our Lord ever relaxed, or even intimated his intention to relax, that original law. He taught, indeed, that mercy is superior to all sabbatical and ceremonial institutions, and that it is
idle and wicked to plead the obligation of the means of grace for the neglect of the end which they were ordained to promote. But it no where appears that for a recovered man to carry his bed was a greater violation of the Sabbath, than for a sick man to be carried upon it, which yet gave no offence even to the Pharisees and our Divine Master's strong remonstrances are directed against hypocritical observances, while the heart was full of rancour and malice.
Lastly it is to be observed, that other sabbaths, besides that mentioned in the Fourth Commandment, were prescribed by Moses; and to these, it is natural to presume, the Apostle refers, when he couples, not the Sabbath, but sabbaths, with the new moons, meats, drinks, and Jewish festivals, which were a " shadow of good things to come." The great and weekly Sabbath, as Dr. Whately himself remarks, was distinguished from all others as the Sabbath of the Lord.
We have no proof that the Apostles did not distinctly inculcate the observance of the Sabbath as a paramount duty; but, even if they were silent, reasons may be assigned for that silence which do not imply that they denied its obligation. The grand doctrines of redemption needed their immediate attention: the early habits of the Jewish converts would naturally lead to the consecration of one day in seven, then changed to the Lord's-day; and the Jewish converts, in receiving Christianity through their hands, would of course follow their example, without any precise injunction. Besides which, there were many practical difficulties in an unsettled and persecuted state of the church; so that the Sabbath, as a day of rest, might be in the same predicament as circumcision had been in the infancy of the church of Israel, during the period of their sojourning in the wilderness, when it was not practised. The Lord's-day, however, was confessedly observed as a day of prayer, and the seventh day
was as confessedly a day of rest, to the Jewish converts. Probably both were respected by the Apostles and their Israelitish disciples as far as was practicable. At least, it is impossible to disprove that such was the case; and to have involved the infant church in a controversy whether the seventh or the first was the true Sabbath of the Lord since the resurrection, would have been to draw attention to a question of secondary moment, before those of primary magnitude had been fully received;-a course to which the whole tenor of the Apostles' ministry was opposed. Hence, the name Sabbath was suffered to continue as a designation of the Jewish day of rest, while the Lord's-day became the name of the Christian; and yet the primeval command, to sanctify the seventh day, may have been believed to be spiritually obeyed by those who set apart for that purpose, not the seventh, or concluding day of creation, but the first, or the eighth, being the finishing day of redemption.
This, at all events, must be held to be the doctrine of the Church of England: and we feel ourselves compelled to say, that we do not see with what consistency any one can minister in her congregations who maintains any other doctrine; since, on every Lord's-day, he reads the Fourth Commandment to the people, and joins them afterwards in the prayer, "Lord have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law."
There are many other portions of these volumes on which we might remark; but we have, perhaps, said enough to shew, that, while every page of the author's writings bear traces both of deep and honest thinking, and may furnish materials for serious inquiry, his very clearness of conception often betrays him into a persuasion that he sees the whole of a subject, and has finally disposed of it, when, perhaps, a very material part of it remains unexamined. Many of his practical rules and maxims