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determination of the precise day of the week is moral and unalterable also, since the Lawgiver, who appointed it, not only could, but actually hath altered it, as was shewed already. Every thing that God did enjoin or forbid our first parents, in a state of innocency, was not moral, or unalterably good or evil in itself, as appears from the instance of prohibiting to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil;" this was a law merely positive, and alterable in itself. Lastly. Though the Sabbath of the seventh day was appointed in the state of innocency, and probably would have continued unalterably, if the fall had not intervened, and no greater work than that of the creation had been wrought; yet, after the fall, God made the seventh day Sabbath peculiar to the old economy, or dispensation of the covenant, and alterable together with it, upon his accomplishing the far more glorious work of our redemption,
Object. 2. "The Israelites are enjoined to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, " for a perpetual covenant." Exod. xxxi. 16.
Ans. 1. This may be understood of the Sabbath indefinitely, and not of the seventh day Sabbath.
2. Granting the seventh day Sabbath were meant here, yet the perpetuity attributed to it is not absolute, but periodical; denoting only a great length of time; for so we find it ascribed to circumcision, the shew bread, and other things which were to be abolished.
Object. S. "There is no express precept for keeping the Christian Sabbath in the New Testament."
Ans. 1. The Lord doth not give express command for every particular duty in his word, but hath thought it sufficient to afford us plain scripture consequences, whence we may gather it.
2. There was no need of any new express precept to be left on record, since all Christians understood themselves to be expressly obliged by the fourth command to observe one day of seven as a Sabbath unto the Lord. And, for the particular day, the example of Christ and his apostles, (who delivered nothing but what they received from their Master, 1 Cor. xi. 23.) was sufficient to enter the Church upon the uniform observation thereof: and, being once begun, they could not easily mistake in the continuance of it. The scripture indeed mentions the change of
the day, and by short hints, because it was a thing universally known to the whole church.
These things, concerning the morality and perpetual obligation for the law of the Sahbath, being premised, I come, in the next place, to the chief thing which I designed to handle, viz. The sanctification of the Sabbath; and to shew particularly, how this holy day should he sanctified in a due and suitable manner.
Concerning the Sanctification of the Sabbath.
THERE is a twofold sanctification of the Sabbath, mentioned in the fourth command, the one by God, the other by man.
As for the first, God hath already sanctified it, as is recorded in the close of the command: "The Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." His blessing and hallowing the day are both of the same import, and signify these two things:
1. The Lord's distinguishing this day from others, and his setting it apart from common unto sacred uses and employments. He hath honoured it with his royal stamp, and consecrated it for the work of heaven.
2. His pitching upon the Sabbath as the day whereon he doth remarkably bless and sanctify men, by filling his ordinances with the special blessings and graces of his Holy Spirit, and making them effectual to our sanctification.
This is a blessed day, and a day of blessing: For as it is our duty on this day to meet together, and bless God; so it is God's promise this day to meet with us, and bless us.He will rain blessings upon the observers of his Sabbath, grant them his presence, and make them joyful in his house of prayer.
As to the second, the sanctification of the Sabbath which is required of us; this is either negative or positive. The first consists in a holy rest; the second in holy exercises upon the Sabbath.
Before I proceed to handle these, I shall lay down some cautions for the right understanding of the fourth command, and for preventing mistakes. Wherefore, when God doth here appoint us six days of the week for our labour, and one day for his worship, we must not think that it is God's meaning, 1. That no part of our six days is to be spent in religious exercises; for, under the law, there were set portians of every day consecrated to divine worship in the tabernacle and temple. Nor,
2. Doth he mean that no whole day beside the Sabbath may be set apart for imploring God's mercy in time of distress, or returning thanks to God for some special favour or deliverance, when the providence of God calls us to it: for we find God himself enjoining the observation of other days beside the seventh, Exod. xxxiv. Lev. xxiii. Numb. xxviii. and commanding cessation from labour on these days. It is not the design of the fourth command to lay us under a peremptory or indispensable obligation of labouring in all the six days throughout; but only to enjoin us not to labour on any other day but these six days, and to do all our works upon them, so as we be not hindered from serving God in a solemn manner on the seventh.
Concerning the holy rest riquisite on the Sabbath.
THIS holy rest upon the Sabbath consists in a total abstinence from all worldly employments and recreations; and from whatever work, business or action, that may anywise prove a hindrance to the worship and service of God upon that day. This is plain, not only from the fourth command itself, but from many other scriptures, particularly Jer. xvii. 24. Isa. lviii. 13.
I shall here propose some questions upon this subject to be answered.
Quest. 1. Are no sort of works lawful on the Sabbath day?
Ans. There are three sorts of works ordinarily excepted, as not prohibited by the fourth command, viz. the works of pety, of mercy, and of necessity.
1. The works of piety, that is, such bodily actions or labour as are necessary and subservient to the performance of divine worship, or contribute to order or decency therein: these are lawful and necessary on the Sabbath day: Such were "the killing of beasts, washing and preparing of sacrifices; the convocating people to worship by blowing of trumpets, making short journeys to attend worship, &c." under the law. So now, under the gospel, ministers toiling their bodies in preaching and praying, people travelling to the church, the ringing of bells, and the like, are lawful on the Sabbath day.
2. Works of mercy and charity are lawful on this day, yea, and necessary also; for, seeing the Sabbath is instituted as a memorial of God's great love and mercy to us, we are bound upon it to shew charity both to the souls and bodies of men, and mercy to the very beasts also. So that "the feeding our bodies, our beasts, and using means for the help of man or beast in distress, and preserving of their lives, the visiting the sick, making collections for the poor," and the like, are lawful on the Sabbath day for the Jews had allowance for these under the law; so have we now under the gospel.
3. Works of necessity and great conveniency, which could not be foreseen, nor provided against the day before, and cannot be delayed to another day: such as fleeing from enemies, or defending ourselves against them; quenching of fire, dressing of meat, putting on our clothes," and the like; these are also lawful on the Sabbath. The Maccabees of old did not decline to fight on the Sabbath day, nor did the Jews long before their days; for the Jewish writers tell us, that the overthrow of Jericho was on the Sabbath; which also seems to be founded upon Josh. vi. 3, 4. where it is said, "They shall compass the city six days, and on the seventh day the walls of the city shall fall down, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him." Only take these cautions concerning such works: See that the necessity be real and not pretended. and that you have no secret complacency in its falling out. heed that it be not a necessity of your own bringing, and which you might have foreseen and prevented the week before. And, when you are doing these works of necessity and mercy, endeavour to keep your hearts in a spiritual H
frame as much as you can, and study to do them withou giving scandal or offence to others, and then despatch them as soon as possibly you can, that you may attend the main work of the day.
Quest. II. What are these works and actions, then, from which we must rest and abstain upon the Sabbath?
Ans. We must not only take special care this day to ab stain from all such sinful works and actions as are unlawful upon any day; but we must also rest from all worldly business and actions, whether employments or recreations, although they be such as are lawful on other days. But, more particularly,
1. We must rest from all sorts of servile work or worldly employments, that tend to our profit or advantage; such as making of journeys, merchandizing, or travelling to markets, carrying of burdens, fishing, going of mills, ploughing, sowing, reaping, &c. and in a word, all parts of men's ordinary callings. See Nehem. xiii. 15, 16, 17. and downwards: "In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine-grapes and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals. There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath unto the children of Judah and in Jerusalem. Then I
contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath," &c. The Jews were strictly prohibited to do any work this day, even the least work of any sort; manna must not be gathered, nor a few sticks to a fire; nay, the materials of the tabernacle must not be prepared this day, Exod. xxxi. nor any thing that might be delayed or done upon another day. This cessation was shadowed forth by that river in Judea. called the Sabbatical river, because it dried up and ceased from running every Sabbath day: which not only Josephus speaks of, but also Pliny, Augustus Cesar in his letter to Tiberius, and others. Let none think that such a total cessation from secular business would tend to their worldly