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xix. 40, &c.
THAT Wise king, Solomon, observes, (Eccl. iii. 1.) "To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." And if there be a time and season allowed for every thing and purpose, even the meanest things and purposes in the world; surely an infinitely wise God will allow a proper time and season for the best things and purposes, and particularly for his solemn worship and service, which is the most necessary and excellent purpose in the world. It is not enough that we give God, from whom we have all our time, a share of every day for his service; no, we owe him also some whole days for his solemn and public worship: yea, it is agreeable to the dictates of the light of nature, and of sound reason, that one whole day of every week should be dedicated to him for that end.
All nations through the world have had their seasons and set times for devotion and sacrifices. The heathens who worshipped dumb idols, had their festivals and holy-days; and particularly one day of the week, which they esteemed more sacred than the rest. The Turks, who have taken up with the most unreasonable delusions and impostures, do still retain the impressions of the rationality and equity of this thing, that there should be a certain day of the week set apart for the solemn worship of God. Indeed the light of nature, without some other help, could not have determined men universally to dedicate the seventh day of their time to God, more than the sixth or eighth but seeing the wise Creator of the world, and author of time, thought fit from the beginning to measure time by days, and parcel out these days into such remarkable periods as weeks, or the revolution of seven days, to be constantly observed all the world over, it is most consonant to reason and equity, that one day of each week should be holy to the Lord.
But, besides the light of nature, we have the light of revelation for this point: God hath expressly appointed in his word one day in seven, to be kept holy for his solemn worship; neither hath he left the particular day to men's own choice, but hath chosen it for them. And now, in the New Testament, he points out the first day of the week to be the Christian Sabbath to the end of the world, as is made evident in the following treatise.
The Jews have their Saturday Sabbath, which they glory in, and call the Queen of the week: The Mahometans keep the Friday, as being Mahomet's birth-day. The Parthians and some other Pagan nations observe Tuesday, and esteem it above all other days of the week. But it is the discriminating badge of the professors of Christianity through all the world, to celebrate the first day of the week, being Christ's resurrection-day, and hence called the Lord's day. Now, though the Jews and some few others plead that the seventh day from the creation is unalterable by virtue of the fourth command, it is shewed in this treatise, that the words of the fourth command are so framed, that they may be applied to any day of the week that God doth please to pitch upon for the Sabbath, whether it be the first or last of the seven days. For when it is said, "The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God;" it doth not mean the seventh day from the creation, but any seventh day after six days labour, which God pitches on; upon which account it is not called that seventh day, but the seventh day. Neither is the seventh day mentioned in the first words of the command, which contain the substance of it; for it is said only, "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy;" not the seventh day. Nor is the seventh day mentioned in the last words of the command, which contain the formal reason of it; for it is said only, "The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it," not the seventh day.
As to the first day of the week, our Christian Sabbath, the great Lord of our time hath appropriated this day to himself, marked it with his seal, and hath put his name upon it, calling it, Rev. i. 10. Hemera Kuriaka, the Lord's day; even as he calls the holy supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20. Diapnon Kuriakon, the Lord's supper; because the one was his institution as well as the other, and set apart for keeping up his memory, and shewing forth his glory. Wherefore no true
Christian, or lover of our Lord Jesus Christ, will be indifferent about the keeping of this holy day: For as the holy observing of this day is an open and visible owning of the Lord Jesus (whose name it bears) for our Lord and Master; so the neglect of this day is a plain disowning of him, and an open slighting of the benefits of his resurrection. O that men would think on this, and consider what they do, when they neglect or contemn the Lord's day!
Though the way of Sabbath-sanctification be the good old way, appointed by God ever since he created man upon the earth; yet there is no way more hated, no duty more opposed by Satan and wicked men which we need not be surprised at, seeing it is a special fence to all religion, and a great bulwark against the torrent of impiety that runs in the world. And that true piety is so low in most places, and vice and immorality so generally prevail, is mainly to be imputed to the abounding neglect and contempt of the holy Sabbath for common experience doth testify, that where the Lord's day is most strictly observed, there Christian knowledge, piety and morality, de prosper most; and where the Sabbath is disregarded, there all these do decay. The consideration whereof should excite all the lovers of God and holiness, to use their utmost endeavours to support the credit and maintain the dignity of the Sabbath against all its enemies.
This consideration hath moved me to contribute my mite upon this excellent subject, in the following treatise, which is partly controversial and partly practical: for confuting the enemies of the Sabbath, and for instructing all in the divine warrant for sanctifying this holy day, and in the right manner of doing it. There are two essential things in the Christian religion, which all should make conscience of; sincerely to believe its truths, and faithfully to practise its duties. The first of these hath great influence upon the second; for, if the Christian truths be not firmly believed, the Christian duties will be ill performed. Now, the best means for promoting both the Christian faith and Christian practice, is the sanctification of the Lord's day.
Had it not been for the observation of the Sabbath, the truths of Christianity had been quite razed out of the minds of the most part: for as the Lord's day, of itself, is a bright and lively memorial of our redemption by Jesus Christ; so