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creation, in Deuteronomy the commandment is repeated with a reference to a different event:- Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates ; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou. 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 Sabbathday.' It is further observable that God's rest from the creation is proposed as the reason of the institution, even where the institution itself is spoken of as peculiar to the Jews: "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.' The truth is, these different reasons were assigned, to account for different circumstances in the command. If a Jew inquired, why the seventh day was sanctified rather than the sixth or eighth, his law told him, because God rested on the seventh day from the creation. If he asked, why was the same rest indulged to slaves? his law bade him remember, that he also was a slave in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord his God brought him out thence.' In this view, the two reasons are perfectly compatible with each other, and with a third end of the institution—its being a sign between God and the people of Israel; but in this view they determine nothing concerning the extent of the obligation. If the reason by its proper energy had constituted a natural obligation, or if it had been mentioned with a view to the extent of the obligation, we should submit to the conclusion, that all were comprehended by the command who are concerned in the reason. But the sabbatic rest being a duty which results from the ordination and authority of a positive law, the reason can be alleged no further than as it explains the design of the legislator: and if it appear to be recited with an intentional application to one part of the law, it explains his design upon no other; if it be mentioned merely to account for the choice of the day, it does not explain his design as to the extent of the obligation.
With respect to the second objection, that inasmuch as the other nine commandments are confessedly of moral and universal obligation, it may reasonably be presumed that this is of the same; we answer, that this argument will have less weight, when it is
considered that the distinction between positive and natural duties, like other distinctions of modern ethics, was unknown to the simplicity of ancient language; and that there are various passages in Scripture, in which duties of a political, or ceremonial, or positive nature, and confessedly of partial obligation, are enumerated, and without any mark of discrimination, along with others which are natural and universal. Of this the following is an incontestable example :- But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right, and hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled his neighbour's wife, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, and hath not oppressed any, but hath restored to the debtor his pledge, hath spoiled none by violence, hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath covered the naked with a garment; he that hath not given forth upon usury, neither hath taken any increase, that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity, hath executed true judgment between man and man, hath walked in my statutes, and hath kept my judgments, to deal truly; he is just, he shall surely live, saith the Lord God;' Ezekiel, xviii. 5–9. The same thing may be observed of the apostolic decree recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Acts : 'It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; that ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication : from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.'
II. If the law by which the Sabbath was instituted, was a law only to the Jews, it becomes an important question with the Christian inquirer, whether the founder of his religion delivered any new command upon the subject; or, if that should not appear to be the case, whether any day was appropriated to the service of religion by the authority or example of his apostles.
The practice of holding religious assemblies upon the first day of the week, was so early and universal in the Christian Church, that it carries with it considerable proof of having originated from some precept of Christ or of his apostles, though none such be now extant. It was upon the first day of the week that the disciples were assembled, when Christ appeared to them for the first time after his resurrection; "then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst of them;' John, xx. 19. This, for anything that appears in the account, might, as to the day, have been accidental; but in the 26th verse of the same chapter, we read: • And after eight days'— that is, on the first day of the week following—again the disciples were within ;' which second meeting
upon the same day of the week looks like an appointment and design to meet on that particular day. In the twentieth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, we find the same custom in : Christian Church at a great distance from Jerusalem : 'And we came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them ;' Acts, xx. 6, 7. The manner in which the historian mentions the disciples coming together to break bread on the first day of the week, shews, I think, that the practice by this time was familiar and established. St Paul to the Corinthians writes thus : 'Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come;' 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2. Which direction affords a probable proof, that the first day of the week was already, amongst the Christians both of Corinth and Galatia, distinguished from the rest by some religious application or other. At the time that St John wrote the book of his Revelation, the first day of the week had obtained the name of the Lord's Day: 'I was in the Spirit,' says he, 'on the Lord's day;' Rev. i. 10. Which name, and St John's use of it, sufficiently denote the appropriation of this day to the service of religion, and that this appropriation was perfectly known to the Churches of Asia. I make no doubt but that by the Lord's Day was meant the first day of the week; for we find no footsteps of any distinction of days which could entitle any other to that appellation. The subsequent history of Christianity corresponds with the accounts delivered on this subject in Scripture.
It will be remembered, that we are contending by these proofs for no other duty upon the first day of the week than that of holding and frequenting religious assemblies. A cessation upon that day from labour, beyond the time of attendance upon public worship, is not intimated in any passage of the New Testament; nor did Christ or his apostles deliver, that we know of, any command to their disciples for a discontinuance upon that day of the common offices of their professions—a reserve which none will see reason to wonder at, or to blame as a defect in the institution, who consider that, in the primitive condition of Christianity, the observance of a new Sabbath would have been useless, or inconvenient, or impracticable. During Christ's personal ministry, his religion was preached to the Jews alone.
They already had a Sabbath, which, as citizens and subjects of that economy, they were obliged to keep, and did keep. It was not, therefore, probable that Christ would enjoin another day of rest
in conjunction with this. When the new religion came forth into the Gentile world, converts to it were, for the most part, made from those classes of society who have not their time and labour at their own disposal; and it was scarcely to be expected, that unbelieving masters and magistrates, and they who directed the employment of others, would permit their slaves and labourers to rest from their work every seventh day; or that civil government, indeed, would have submitted to the loss of a seventh part of the public industry, and that, too, in addition to the numerous festivals which the national religions indulged to the people; at least, this would have been an encumbrance which might have greatly retarded the reception of Christianity in the world. In reality, the institution of a weekly Sabbath is so connected with the functions of civil life, and requires so much of the concurrence of civil law in its regulation and support, that it cannot, perhaps, properly be made the ordinance of any religion, till that religion be received as the religion of the state.
The opinion, that Christ and his apostles meant to retain the duties of the Jewish Sabbath, shifting only the day from the seventh to the first, seems to prevail without sufficient proof; nor does any evidence remain in Scripture (of what, however, is not improbable), that the first day of the week was thus distinguished in commemoration of our Lord's resurrection.
The conclusion from the whole inquiry (for it is our business to follow the arguments to whatever probability they conduct us) is this: The assembling upon the first day of the week for the purpose of public worship and religious instruction, is a law of Christianity, of Divine appointment: the resting on that day from our employments longer than we are detained from them by attendance upon these assemblies, is to Christians an ordinance of human institution; binding, nevertheless, upon the conscience of every individual of a country in which a weekly Sabbath is established, for the sake of the beneficial purposes which the public and regular observance of it promotes, and recommended perhaps in some degree to the Divine approbation, by the resemblance it bears to what God was pleased to make a solemn part of the law which he delivered to the people of Israel, and by its subserviency to many of the same uses.
BY WHAT ACTS AND
DUTY OF THE
CHRISTIAN SABBATH IS VIOLATED.
Since the obligation upon Christians to comply with the religious observance of Sunday arises from the public uses of the institution, and the authority of the apostolic practice, the manner of observing it ought to be that which best fulfils these uses, and conforms the nearest to this practice.
The uses proposed by the institution are:-
2. To meliorate the condition of the laborious classes of mankind, by regular and seasonable returns of rest.
3. By a general suspension of business and amusement, to invite and enable persons of every description to apply their time and thoughts to subjects appertaining to their salvation.
With the primitive Christians, the peculiar, and probably for some time the only distinction of the first day of the week, was the holding of religious assemblies upon that day. We learn, however, from the testimony of a very early writer amongst them, that they also reserved the day for religious meditations : -Unusquisque nostrûm (saith Irenæus) sabbatizat spiritualiter, meditatione legis gaudens, opificium Dei admirans.
WHEREFORE the duty of the day is violated
1st, By all such employments or engagements as (though differing from our ordinary occupation) hinder our attendance upon public worship, or take up so much of our time as not to leave a sufficient part of the day at leisure for religious reflection -as the going of journeys, the paying or receiving of visits which engage the whole day, or employing the time at home in writing letters, settling accounts, or in applying ourselves to studies, or the reading of books which bear no relation to the business of religion.
2dly, By unnecessary encroachments on the rest and liberty which Sunday ought to bring to the inferior orders of the community—as by keeping servants on that day confined and busied in preparations for the superfluous elegances of our table or dress.
3dly, By such recreations as are customarily forborne out of respect to the day-as hunting, shooting, fishing, public diversions, frequenting taverns, playing at cards or dice.
If it be asked, as it often has been, wherein consists the difference between walking out with your staff, or with your gun? between spending the evening at home or in a tavern? between passing the Sunday afternoon at a game of cards, or in conversation