Chapter 31: The First Table of the LawóCommandments 1-4
Syllabus for Lectures 31 & 32:
1. What does the First Commandment enjoin? What does it forbid?
2. Discuss, against Papists, the worship of saints, angels and relics.
3. What does the Second Commandment forbid and enjoin?
4. Discuss, against Papists, the lawfulness of image-worship.
5. What does the Third Commandment forbid and enjoin? Are religious vows and oaths, imposed by magistrates, lawful?
See Shorter Catechism, Qu. 44-56. Larger Cat., Qu. 100-114. Turrettin, Loc. 11., Qu. 7-12. Dick, Lecture 103. Calvinís Inst., bk. 2., ch. S. ch. 13-27. Dr. Greenís Lectures on Sh. Cat., 37-41. Council of Trent Decree, Session 25. (Strietwolff, Vol. 1., p. 93, etc.) Catechismus Romanus, Pii V , pt. iii ch. 2, Qu. 3-14, and pt. 4., ch. 6 on 2nd Question. " Historical Theology," by Dr. Wm. Cunningham, ch. 12.
6. What is required and forbidden in the Fourth Commandment?
Shorter Catechism Qu. 57-62. Larger Cat., Qu. 115-121. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
Larger Cat., Qu. 117-120. Ridgeley, Qu. 117, 118.
7. Give the practical reasons for the careful observance of the Sabbath.
Larger Cat., Qu. 120, 121. Justin Edwardsí "Sabbath-Manual."
8. Is the observance of the Lordís day now binding jure dinvino ? (a) Because the Sabbath was in force before Moses, (b) The commandment is moral and perpetual, not merely positive, (c) The New Testament teaches this when properly explained; (d) Ist day substituted for 7th by divine authority; (e) History of opinions and usages.
Jonathan Edwardsí Sermons, 13, 14, 15, Vol. vi Turrettin, Loc. 11., Qu. 13 14. Calvin, Inst., bk. 2., ch. 8, a 28-34. Commentaries on Matt. 12., and Col. 2:16, 17. Appendix. to Fairbairnís Typology, 2nd Edit. Dr. Greenís Lectures-42, 43. Neanderís " Planting and Training," Vol. 1., ch. 5., . Augsburg Conf. and Lutherís Catechism. Genevan Cat. of Calvin. Racovian Cat.. Dr. Nicholas Bound, "Sabbatum Veteris et Novi Test ." Hodge, Theol., Vol. 3., ch. 19, ch. 8.
the exposition of the precepts, I do not propose to detain you with those ordinary particulars which you may find in your catechisms and text-books. I would, once for all, refer you to those authorities, especially for answers to the question, what each commandment especially enjoins and prohibits. My chief aim, in the few, disjointed discussions which time will allow, is to enter into a few of the more disputed and more important questions of morals and ecclesiastical usage, which now agitate society and the Church.
Scope of the 1St Commandment.
The affirmative and negative obligations of the 1st Commandment all depend upon the great Scope o f he 1st truth of Godís exclusive unity, which we have proved from reason and Scripture. The duty of "having Him for our God" may be said to be the summary of almost all the commands of love, reverence and obedience, which so abound in the Scriptures. But we may say that includes especially, under the general idea of rendering Him all the affection and service which our nature, His character, and our relations to Him require; the following: The duty, (a) of loving Him supremely. (See Matt. 22:37). (b) Of regulating all our moral acts by His revealed will Matt. 28:20. (c) Of owning and acknowledging Him publicly. Josh. 24:22. (d) Of promoting His cause and glory in all suitable ways. 1 Cor. 10:31. (e) Of rendering to Him such acts of religious worship as He may see fit to demand. Ps. 29:2. (f) Of thanking Him for His benefits. Ps. 106:1. (g) Of trusting to His promises. Isa. 26:4. (h) Of submitting to His chastisements. 1 Pet. 5:6. (i) Fearing His anger. Ps. 86:11. (j) Repenting of having sinned against Him, Acts 17:30, and in short, (k) Choosing Him as the portion and eternal inheritance of our souls. Ps. 73:25; 17:15.
Sin of Idolatrous Affections.
The most current breach of this commandment in nominally Christian communities, is doubtless the Sin of inordinate affections. Scripture brands these as Idolatry, or the worshipping of another than the true God, especially in the case of covetousness; (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5; Job 31:24-28.) and parity of reasoning extends the teaching to all other inordinate desires. We conceive formal idolatry, as that of the Hindu, a very foolish and flagrant thing; we palliate this spiritual idolatry of passions. God classes them together, in order to show us the enormity of the latter. What then is it, that constitutes the "having of God for our God? " It includes, (a) Love for Him stronger than all other affections. (b) Trusting Him, as our highest portion and source of happiness. (c) Obeying and serving Him supremely. (d) Worshipping Him as He requires. Now that thing to which we render these regards and services, is our God, whether it be gold, fame, power, pleasure, or friends.
Roman Catholic Idolatry. Founded On Creature Mediation.
Romeís worship of saints is an idolatry founded upon the mediation of the creature, rather than the sole mediation of Christ. She asserts this in opposition to 1 Tim. 2:5. She attempts to defend this, for those who are curious, for one, in the documents of the Council of Trent.
Arguments Against Saint Worship.
But as there is no heavenly mediation of angels or saints, we argue the more, that no intelligent worship can be paid them without idolatry. (a) Because there are no examples nor precepts for it in the Bible. The honor due superiors is social and political; between which and religious worship, there is a fundamental difference In all the cases cited by Rome, of the worshipping of creature-angels, there was only a hospitable and deferential obeisance to persons supposed to be dignified strangers and human beings. Where there was worship proper, it was always the Angel of the Covenant, the Son of God, who was worshipped. Compare Gen. 18:2, and 19:1, with Gen. 18:22, 23, we learn that of the persons to whom Abraham did social obeisance as respectable guests and human beings, the one to whom Abraham actually prayed, was the Jehovah-Christ; and the others were creature-angels in human form. But the student is referred to the argument on the pre-existence of Christ, Lect. xvii; where it is proved that all these cases of worship of the "angel," were cases of homage offered to Christ.
(b) Inspired saints and creature-angels are represented in every case, as repudiating proper religious worship, when attempted towards them, with holy abhorrence. See Matt. 4:10; Acts 14:13-15; Rev. 19:10; 22:9.Douleia also Idolatrous.
Rome herself acknowledges, (Cat. Rom.Pt. 3, Ch. 2, Qu. 4, or Pt. 4, Ch. 6, Qu. 3), it would he idolatry to worship creatures with the same sort of worship paid to God. Here then, their doctors bring in their distinction of latreia and douleia to justify themselves. This distinction is utterly vain and empty. Because first, the usage neither of classic nor biblical Greek justifies it; nor that of the primitive Fathers. The one word, as much as the other, is used of the worship peculiar to God Himself. See Matt. 6:24; 1 Thess. 1:9, etc. The Galatians are rebuked for having served those who by nature are no Gods. (Ch. 4:8), edouleusate . If then the douleia of the New Testament is that of Rome, the case is decided. But let us see how they distinguish their douleia Here we say, second: that it is religious worship. This is proved by its being rendered in Church (God s house), at the altar, in the midst of their liturgies, on Godís holy day, and mixed with Godís own worship. This confusion at least is unpardonable. Third: in practice they do not limit themselves to douleia but ask of the saints and especially of Mary, gifts most essentially divine; not intercession merely, but protection, pardon, sanctification, victory over death. Here see Roman Catholic Breviaries passim ; and the Stabat Mater . Danielís Thesaurus Hymnolog, vol. 2, p. 133. Streitwolff, Libri Symbolici , vol. 2, p. 343, etc. Fourth, even if only intercession were asked, the douleia would still imply in the saints omnipresence, omniscience, infinite goodness, and such like divine attributes. To evade this crushing objection, some Roman Catholic doctors have advanced their figment of the Speculum Trinitatis . They imagine that the saints, blessed with the beatific vision of God, see reflected in His omniscience whatever He sees, at least of the wants and petitions of the Church. But besides the fatal lack of Scriptural warrant, this figment is absurd. For to see an overwhelming multitude of objects at once, in a mirror, reflected, will confound a finite mind as much as to see them directly. And besides, the figment contradicts Scripture, Matt. 24:36; John 15:15; 1 Cor. 2:11.
Moral Effects of Creature Worship.
Romeís saint and angel worship is but baptized paganism, and like all other, it tends to degrade the worshipers. Hence, the importance of the prohibition of idolatry. Nothing but infinite perfection should be the object of religious worship. The reverence and admiration which worship implies invest every quality of the object worshiped with sanctity. Blemishes are always reproduced in the votaries. The worship of an imperfect object is therefore the deification of defects. Rom. 1:25, 26; Ps. 115:8. But the more the worshiper is corrupted, the more degraded will be the divinities which he will construct for himself out of his defiled heart, until the vile descent is realized which St. Paul describes in Rom. 1:22, 23.
Scope of Second Commandment.
As the first commandment fixes the object, so the second fixes the mode of religious worship. Under that most extreme corruption of mode which consists in image worship, all erroneous modes of homage to the true God even, are prohibited. It may be said in general, that this commandment requires those acts and modes of worship for the true God which He hath required of us in His word, and prohibits all others. What Protestants call will worship is forbidden, on these obvious grounds: God is infinite, and, in large part, inscrutable to creature minds. It is His prerogative to reveal Himself to us, as He has done. If we form surmises how He is to be honored, they will be partially erroneous; for error belongs to man. Hence (as experience too fully confirms, the offering of worship of human invention to God has always dishonored Him, and corrupted the worshipers. Our Savior, therefore, expressly condemns it. Matt. 15:9.
The doctrine of Rome concerning the use of images in worship, with its defense may be seen in the Rom. Cat., Pt. III, Ch. 2, Qu. 9-14 inclusive. You will there remark the curious arrangement which makes our second commandment a part of, or appendix. to the first, and usually prints it with small type. While this claims some little patristic countenance, its object is undoubtedly to depreciate this command. As the number of ten precepts is too well fixed to be called in question, Rome attempts to make it up by dividing the 10th without shadow of valid reason, as we shall see.
Roman Catholic Excuses.
Rome concedes that the Deity should not be represented by any shape, since God is immense and conceptually inconceivable. (Qu. 12). For Rome to grant that much is unavoidable, since the evidence for the prohibition is so perspicuous. Yet, still, the Roman church excuses her image worship by teaching that the images of the persons of the Trinity she makes are not, when correctly understood, attempts to portray Divine essence, but only to express the characteristics and actions which the Scriptures give the Persons. (Qu. 13). and Thus, the Father is represented, in supposed imitation of Daniel 7:9, as a hoary old man; the Son in a human figure; and the Holy Spirit, after Matt. 3:16, as a dove. The idea of trinity in unity is usually represented as a luminous triangle.
To this evasion I reply, are not the Persons very God? Is not their essence one, and properly divine? How, then, can it be right to picture them, and wrong to picture Deity? If we may use the image of the Person, because it is designed to represent some act or property of it, why not of the Deity? Indeed, the luminous triangle is an attempt to represent the latter.
Godís Example No Rule To Us.
Rome urges also that to figure or picture objects of worship cannot be wrong, because God has done it. He appears as a man in Gen. 18, and in Gen. 32:24; as an angel in Exod. 3:2; as a shekinah 2 Chron. 7:1. The Holy Spirit appears as a dove, Matt. 3:16. God also commanded the cherubim to be placed in the most sacred part of the oracle, at the very part towards which the High Priest directed his worship. God also directed Moses to make a brazen serpent and elevate it upon a pole. Num. 21:8.
Now, the general and sufficient answer to this is, that Godís doing a thing Himself is no warrant whatever for us to presume on imitating Him. May we kill people at will, because He slays some thirty millions annually? His precepts are our rule, not the acts of His own sovereignty, which His incommunicable attributes properly render unique and inimitable. The representations which God has seen fit to make of Himself to one and another prophet were temporary, not permanent, occasionalóyea, rareópresented only to the prophetís own private eye, not to the Church customarily; and they were, after all, phantasmata, impressed on the prophetís imagination in esctatic visionónot actual, material constructions, like the idols of men. Chiefly, as visions, they were true, for they were to the prophets symbols of some special presence of God, and God was in some way specially present then and there. But these figures when used by Papists, are symbols of no such truth; for God has not authorized them to expect any special presence where they exhibit the images. They are therefore false, while Godís visions were true.
No Image Worship In Scripture.
The carved Cherubim over the mercy seat were not idols at all, but merely architectural ornaments, having, indeed a symbolical fitness, but no more objects of worship than the knops and lilies of the carving. The brazen serpent too, was a type, and not an object of worship. As well might the Papist bring as a plea, the fact that God has represented Christ by bread and wine. See John 3:14. Especially since the coming of the antitype, has this case not a shadow of force to excuse idolatry. That its worship was never permitted is clearly shown by 2 Kings 18:4; where we read that the good King Hezekiah, detecting the Jews in this error, had the identical serpent crushed, saying "it is brazen." ("It is but brass.") As to the picturing and worshipping of the man Jesus, the delineation of His human person has more shadow of reason, because He is incarnate. But there is no portrait or description of Christ, which is authentic. If there was, He is now, when glorified, wholly unlike it. Chiefly; an image could only represent His humanity, as distinguished from His divinity; and the former, thus abstracted, is no proper object of worship. The use of the crucifix. in worship, therefore, tendeth to evil.
All Idolaters Profess To Look Above the Idol.
3. The Council of Trent urges that the image is not itself regarded as divine; but only as a visible representation of invisible realities that assist the unlearned especially, in conceiving the real presence of the invisible. To this I reply: it is just the distinction which all the pagans make, except the most intoxicated. Does any one suppose that the acute Hindu is so stupid as to mistake the lump of clay or wood, which yesterday was a clod or a stick, and which he saw helpless in the hands of the mechanic, for a true God? If charged with such folly, he makes precisely the Papistís reply: that he worships the invisible God through the help of the visible representation of Him. So answered the ancient idolaters to the primitive Christians. By adopting it, the Papist puts himself, where he properly belongs, in the pagan category. And this is the very sin which the Scriptures intend to prohibit. An examination of the sin with Aaronís calf, Exod. 32., of Micahís idolatry, Judges 17:3-13, and of the sin of Jeroboam, 1 Kings 12:28, etc., will show that in each case the criminal attempt was to worship the true Jehovah, unmistakeably recognized by His incommunicable name, or as He who brought Israel out of Egypt, through an image supposed appropriate.
This the Very Definition of Idolatry In Scripture Cases. God Inimitable.
4. To worship the true God by an image is, then, the very thing forbidden, because such a representation of Idolatry in this defintion is necessarily false. For, God being a Scripture Cases. God spiritual, immense, and invisible Being, to inimitable. represent Him as a limited material form, is a falsehood. To clothe Him with the form of any of His creatures, angelic, human, or animal, is the most heinous insult to His majesty. God is a Spirit, cognizable by no sense. To represent Him by a material, visible and palpable image or picture is a false representation. He is omnipresent. To draw or carve Him as bounded by an outline, and contained in a local form, belies this attribute. He is self-existent, and has no beginning. To represent Him by what His puny creature made, and what yesterday was not, belies His self-existence and eternity. He declares Himself utterly unlike all creatures, and incomprehensible by them. To liken Him to any of them is both a misrepresentation and insult. I fence, a material image of the Godhead, or of any Person thereof, is an utter falsehood. Papists used to be fond of saying: "Images are the books of the unlearned." We reply: they are books then, which teach lies only. The crowning argument against them, is that the Scriptures expressly forbid them; and equally plainly, base their prohibition on the fact that no image can correctly represent God. Deut. 4:15, 16; Isa. 40:12-18; Acts 17:29. "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb, out of the midst of the fire), lest you corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image," etc.
Scope of the Third Commandment.
You are familiar with the answer to our last head of inquiry, which says the third Commandment requireth the holy and reverent use of Godís name, titles attributes, ordinances, word, and works; "and forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh Himself known." The scope of this precept is to secure a reverential treatment of God and all that suggests Him, in our speech and other media of communication, with each other. Its practical importance is justified by what the Apostle James teaches us of the responsibility and influence of our faculty of speech. When you read his statements, and consider how fully experience justifies them; when you consider the large place which this power of communicating ideas fills in society, you will see why God has elevated the sanctification of the tongue into a place among the "ten words."
Sin Forbidden In It.
Every Christian is familiar with the notion that this precept prohibits sins of prfane cursing and swearing in all their forms. Among these abuses may also be classed all irreverent uses of Sacred Scripture; all heartless and formal worship, whether by praying or singing; all irreverence and levity in the house of God during the celebration of His worship or sacraments; all heedless utterances of His name and attributes; and most flagrantly, perjury. This, the crowning crime of this class, is a breach both of the third and ninth Commandments. It violates the obligations of truth; and also violates those of reverence in the most flagrant manner. An oath is an appeal to God for the sanction of the asseveration then made. It involves ail His attributes in the most formal manner, to act as umpires between the parties, and if the asseveration is falsified, to witness and avenge it. Where an oath is falsely taken, it is a heavendaring attempt to enlist the Almighty in the sanction of the creatureís lie; and is thus, either the most outrageous levity, or the most outrageous impiety, of which he can be guilty.
Lawful Oaths and Vows Not Forbidden.
But we do not hold that the reverential occasional use of religious vows, or the serious taking of the oath from the civil magistrate, is a breach of this commandment. You are aware that the Quakers, and some other Christians hold all oaths unlawful. We base our view on the following reasons:
Moses expressly commands the people to swear by the name of Jehovah, whenever they did swear. Deut. 6:13. This surely implies that there is a right and proper time to swear. The Israelites were carefully instructed how to swear. Lev. 19:12. Oaths were appointed to be administered by Divine authority, in certain cases. Exod. 22:11; Num. 5:19. Surely God would not require His people to sin! We find that God sware; and "because He could swear by no greater, He sware by Himself." His example is worthy of mention here, although we do not presume a right to make it our rule in every case. We find that the apostles also, and especially Paul, frequently appealed to God in oaths. Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 1:20. These expressions involve all the essentials of an oath. But we have a more indisputable example. Jesus Christ took an oath, when it was tendered to Him by Caiaphas the High Priest, acting as an authorized (though a wicked) magistrate of his people. Matt. 26:63, 64. When the Chief Priest said: "I adjure Thee (I swear Thee) by the living God," Christ, who had before refused to respond, immediately gave an affirmative answer, thereby taking the oath tendered Him. Let it be noticed, also, that in this He was acting in His human capacity. These New Testament examples also effectually stop the plea, untenable in all cases, that legislation given by Moses was corrected by Christ, so that the latter made things sins, which Moses made right. For all this was under the new dispensation, or at least after the utterance of the commands by Christ which furnish the argument of the Quakers.
Supposed Prohibition In New Testament.
Those commands are found in Matt. 5:34 and 37; James 5:2. Their claim is, that these prohibitions. Supposed Prohibition are meant to forbid oaths under all possible circumstances; that the language is absolute, and we have no right to limit it. I reply, that if this view be pressed, all that is gained will be to represent Christ and Paul as expressly violating the new law. An understanding of the circumstances relieves the case. The Jewish elders had corrupted the third commandment by teaching that a man might interlard his common conversation with oaths, provided he did not swear falsely. They also taught that one might swear by anything else than the name of God, as his own head, or Jerusalem. Against these corruptions our Saviorís precept is aimed. In our common intercourse we are not to swear at all, because the suitable and solemn juncture is lacking. When that juncture is present, what more reasonable than the appeal to God; that God who is, by His omniscience and providence, the actual witness and umpire of all such declarations. But, in conclusion, it is a great abuse for the magistrate to multiply oaths on frivolous occasions.
Diversity Accounted For.
There is, perhaps, no subject of Christian practice on which there is, among sincere Christians, more practical diversity and laxity of conscience than the duty of Diversity Accounted Sabbath observance. We find that, in theory, almost all Protestants now profess the views once peculiar to Presbyterians and other Puritans; but, in actual life, there is, among good people, a variety of usages rangingfrom a laxity which would almost have satisfied the party of Archbishop Laud, up to the sacred strictness of the "Sabbatarians" whom he and his adherents reviled and persecuted. It is a curious question: how it has come about that the consciences of devout and sincere persons have allowed them such license of disobedience to a duty acknowledged and important; while on other points of obligation equally undisputed, the Christian world endeavors, at least, to maintain the appearance of uniform obedience. The solution is probably to be found, in part, in the historical fact, of which many intelligent Christians are not awareóthat the communions founded at the Reformation, were widely and avowedly divided in opinion as to the perpetuity of the Sabbath obligation. A number of the Reformation churches, including some of the purest, professed that they saw no obligation in the Scriptures to any peculiar Sabbath observance; and the neglect of everything except attendance on the public exercise of Christianity, and that cessation of secular labor recluired by secular statutes was, in them, at least consistent. Now the descendants of these communions, in this mixed country, live dispersed among the descendants of Presbyterians and Puritans; and while they no longer defend the looser theory of their forefathers, they retain the traditionary practices and customs in their use of the sacred day. Thus, by example and the general intermingling of religions, a remiss usage is propagated, which is far beneath the present professed theory of Protestant Christendom. And hence, we conceive that it will be interesting and profitable to give a history of opinions on this subject, before we proceed to that full discussion of the whole grounds of our belief and practice which we shall attempt.
Two Opinions Prevalent.
It may be stated then, in general terms, that since the primitive times of Christianity, two diverse opinions have prevailed in the Christian world. The first is that adopted by the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and most of the continental communions in Europe, including, it must be confessed, those founded by Calvin. This theory teaches that the proper sanctification of one day from every seven was a ceremonial, typical, and Jewish custom, established when the Levitical institutions were introduced; and, of course, abrogated by the better dispensation, along with the rest of the typical shadows. The Lordís day is, indeed, worthy of observance as a Christian festival, because it is the weekly memorial of the blessed resurrection, and the example of the primitive Church commends it; not because its obligation is now jure divino . The cessation of our worldly labors is a beneficent and commendable civil institution; and while the magistrates enjoin it, is, for this reason, of course to be practiced by all good citizens. Public and associated worship is also a duty of Christians; and, in order that it may be associated, it must be upon a stated day and hour; and what day so appropriate as this, already famous for the great event of the new dispensation, and set apart by civil laws from the purposes of business. But this is all. To observe the whole day as a religious rest, under the supposition of a religious obligation, would be to Judaize, to remand ourselves to the bondage of the old and darker dispensation.
The second opinion is that embodied in the Westminster symbols, and, to the honor of Presbyterianism be it said, first avowed in modern times, even among Protestants, by that party in England. This Isa. that the setting apart of some stated portion of our time to the special and exclusive worship of God, is a duty of perpetual and moral obligation (as distinguished from positive or ceremonial), and that our Maker has, from the creation, and again on Sinai, appointed for all races and ages, that this portion shall be one day out of seven. But when the ceremonial dispensation of Levi was superadded to this and the other institutions of the original, patriarchal religion, the seventh day did) in addition, become a type and a Levitical holyday; and the theory admits that this feature has passed away with the Jewish ceremonial. After the resurrection of Christ, the perpetual Divine obligation of a religious rest was transferred to the first day of the week, and thence to the end of the world, the Lordís day is the Christianís Sabbath, by Divine and apostolic appointment, and is to be observed with the same religious spirit enjoined upon the patriarchs, and the Israelites, abating those features which proceeded from its ceremonial use among the latter, and from their theocratic government.
Among the advocates of the first opinion is to be adduced first the Roman Catholic communion. This statement must, however, be made with qualification; for the "Roman Catholic Catechism" of Pope Pius V., embodying the opinions of the Council of Trent (P. 3., ch. 4.), treats of the Lordís day more scripturally, in some respects, than many Protestants. But this correctness of opinion is grievously marred by the doctrine, that the other Church holidays are sustained by equal authority with the Lordís dayóthe authoritative tradition of the Church. Bellarmine also argues that it must be allowable to the true Church to make the observance of sacred days of human appointment binding on the conscience, because otherwise the Church would have no sacred days at all, since none whatever are enjoined in the New Testament. This reasoning obviously proceeds upon the assumption that there is no other sort of obligation for the Lordís day than for a Church festival. The wellknown practice of Roman Catholic Christians, prevalent in all Papal countries, and unrebuked by the priesthood, sustains exactly that theory of Sabbath observance which we first described. After the duties of confession and hearing mass are performed in the morning, the rest of the holyday is unhesitatingly devoted to idleness, amusements, or actual vice.
The Lutheran communion, as ordered by Luther, Melancthon, and their coadjutors, held that it was lawful and proper for Church authorities to ordain days and rites not contrary to the letter or spirit of Scripture, but additional to those appointed therein. It was, indeed, one of the most constant and noble parts of their testimony against Rome, that it was spiritual tyranny for any Church authority, however legitimate, to ordain anything contrary to the letter or spirit of Scripture, or to enforce any ordinance of human authority, however innocent, as binding on the Christian conscience, or as necessary to acceptance with God. But they taught that the rulers of the Church might lawfully institute rites, ordinances and holydays, consonant to the Word of God, though additional to those set down in it; and that they might lawfully change such ordinances, from time to time, as convenience and propriety required. But they could only invite, they could not compel the compliance of their brethren; and this compliance was to be rendered, not of necessity, but from considerations of Christian comity, peace and convenience. When days or ordinances additional to Scripture were thus enjoined, and thus observed, it was held proper, lawful and praiseworthy, in both rulers and ruled. And the Lutheran symbols expressly assert that it was by this kind of Church authority, and not jure divino , that the observance of the Lordís day obtained among Christians; and that it could not be scripturally made binding on the conscience of Christians any more than the observance of Easter or Christmas, or of any other day newly instituted by a Church court, in accordance with Christian convenience and edification. They also teach that the Sabbath, with its strict and enforced observances, was purely a Levitical institution. In the 28th article of the Augsburg Confession, which treats of "the power of the bishops or clergy," we find the following [We will take the liberty of italicizing those phrases which we wish to be particularly weighed]: "What, then, should be held concerning Sunday and other similar Church ordinances and ceremonies? " To this our party make the following reply: That the bishops or pastors may make regulations, in order that things may be carried on orderly in the Church, not in order to obtain the grace of God, nor yet in order to atone for sins, or to bind the consciences of men with them, to hold them as necessary services of God, and to regard them as if they commit sin, if they break them without offense to others. Thus St. Paul, in the Corinthians, ordains that the women in the congregation should cover their heads; 1 Cor. 11:5."In like manner is the regulation concerning Sunday, concerning Easter, concerning Pentecost, and the like holydays and rites. Those, then, who are of opinion that the regulation of Sunday instead of the Sabbath, was established as a thing necessary, err very much. For the Holy Scripture has abolished the Sabbath, and it teaches that all ceremonies of the old law, since the revelation of the Gospel, may be discontinued. And yet, as it was of need to ordain a certain day, so that the people might know when they should assemble, the Christian Church ordained Sunday for that very purpose, and possessed rather more inclination and willingness for this alteration in order that the people might have an example of Christian liberty, that they might know that neither the observance of the Sabbath, nor of any other day, is indispensable." Melancthon, in the 8th article of his "apology," ("Of human ordinances in the Church, ") briefly asserts the same view. "Further, the most ancient ordinances however in the Church, as the three chief festivals, Sundays, and the like, which were established for the sake of order, union and tranquillity, we observe withwillingness. And with regard to these, our teachers preach to the people in the most commendatory manner; in the meantime, however, holding forth the view, that they do not justify before God."
It may here be added, that the Mennonite Church, both in Europe and America, helds substantially the Lutheran ideas of the Sabbath, and that their practice was influenced by them in a similar way. When this communion, led by Menno Simonis, set about ridding themselves of the reproach of fanatical Anabaptism, they were careful to assume so much of the prevalent religion as they could consistently with their essential peculiarities, in order to substantiate their plea that they were no longer a radical, political sect, but a proper, evangelical denomination. The prevalent Protestantism of those countries was Lutheran; and hence the theology of the Mennonites, and their ideas of Sabbath observance, are largely Lutheran.
Next in order should be mentioned the opinions of the Socinian sect. The Racovian Catechism, the recognized Confession of this body, in the 16th century, states their erroneous belief with unmistakable precision and brevity. Under the fourth commandment are the following questions and answers:
"What is the fourth commandment?"
"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy."
"What cost thou believe concerning this commandment?"
"I believe that it is removed under the new covenant, in the way in which other ceremonies, as they are called, are taken away."
"Why, then, was it inserted in the decalogue?"
"Thus that it might be manifest the most absolute part of the Mosaic law was not perfect, and that some indication might exist of this fact, that a law was to succeed the Mosaic law, by far more perfect, the law, namely, of our Lord Jesus Christ."
"Did, or did not, Christ ordain that we should observe the day which they call Lordís day, in place of the Sabbath?"
"Not at all, since the religion of Christ entirely removes the distinction of days, just as it does the other ceremonies, as they are called; as the Apostle clearly writes in Col. 2:16. But since we see that the Lordís day has been celebrated from of old time by Christians, we permit the same liberty to all Christians." A day of religious rest, then, according to Socinians is utterly abolished by Christ, just as the other Levitical ceremonies.
Opinion of Anglican Church.
As to the ground held by the Anglican Church, concerning the authority of the Lordís day, its standards are indecisive. It holds the same opinion with the Augsburg Confession, concerning the power of the Church to ordain rites, ceremonies, and holidays, additional, but not contrary to the Scriptures; but it has not observed the scriptural modesty of the Lutherans, in enforcing the uniform observance of these human appointments. While its theory on this point is not greatly more exaggerated in words than that of the Augsburg Confession, its practice has been unspeakably more tyrannical. The twentieth of the "Thirtynine Articles," ("Of the authority of the Church, ") says: "The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith; and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to Godís Word written, etc." The thirtyfourth says: "Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely cloth openly break the traditions and ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that other may fear to do the like,) as he that offended against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren." The articles contain no nearer reference to the Lordís day. Our purpose in quoting these words will be seen in connection with the following from the thirteenth of the ecclesiastical canons and constitutions:
"Due Celebration of Sundays and Holydays."
All manner of persons within the Church of England, shall from henceforth celebrate and keep the Sundays and holy Lordís day, commonly called Sunday, and days. other holy days, according to Godís holy will and pleasure, and the orders of the Church of England prescribed in that behalf," etc. The Church of England, then, is not, by her standards, definitely committed to that loose theory which we have unfolded; but the association of Sundays and holydays, as equal in their claims, and the nature of their authority, is significant. The Church, according to these articles, has power to ordain days, additional to those appointed in Scripture, provided they are not condemned in Scripture; and to enforce their observance by censures. And it is plainly implied that the obligation to keep a Sunday is only of the same character with the obligation to keep an Epiphany or Good Friday. Both are alike according to Godís holy will; but it is Godís will, not pronounced in Scripture, but through the authoritative decree of the Church. It was the primitive Church which introduced the festivals of Epiphany and others; and it was the same authority which introduced Sunday. As the thirty-fourth article claims that the same church authority which made, can unmake or alter these appointments, it would seem that even the Lordís day might be liable to change by human authority.
Opinion of Calvin.
We proceed now to state the opinions of Calvin, and some of the Reformed Churches. By consulting Calvinís Institutes, (B. 2, chap. 8), it will be seen that his views of Sabbath observance are substantially those of Luther. He states that, among the Israelites, there were three grounds for the observance of the seventh clay: first that it might be a type of that cessation of the works of self righteousness which true believers practice; second, that there might be a stated day for public worship; and third, that domestic animals and servants might enjoy a merciful rest from bodily labor. Only the last two of these grounds exist, according to Calvin, under the New Testament. Hence he says (ch. 8, ch. 33): "We celebrate it not with scrupulous rigor, as a ceremony which we conceive to be a figure of some spiritual mystery, but only use it as a remedy necessary to the preservation of order in the Church." In the previous section he says: "Though the Sabbath is abrogated, yet it is still customary among us to assemble on stated days, for hearing the Word, for breaking the mystic bread, and for public prayers; and also to allow servants and laborers a remission from their labor." And in section 34: "Thus vanish all the dreams of false prophets, who in past ages have infected the people with a Jewish notion, affirming that nothing but the ceremonial part of this commandment, which, according to them, is the appointment of the seventh day, has been abrogated; but that the moral part of it, that is, the observance of one day in seven, still remains. But this is only changing the day in contempt of the Jews, while they retain the same opinion of the holiness of a day; for, on this principle, the same mysterious signification would be attributed to particular days, which formerly obtained among the Jews," And in the same tenor, he remarks upon Col. 2:16: ("Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days" "Such a distinction (of days) suited the Jews, to observe sacredly the appointed days, by separating them from other days. Among Christians, such a distinction hath ceased. But, somebody will say that we still retain some observance of days. I answer, that we by no means observe them, as if there were any religion in holy days, or as if it were not right to labor then; but the regard is paid to polity and good order, not to the days."
To those who are aware of the close relationship between Socinianism and Arminianism, it will not be surprising that the latter sect, at its birth, adopted an idea of the Lordís day only less relaxed than that of the former. It is unnecessary to multiply citations; a single passage from Limborch, one of the distinguished heads of their seminary in Amsterdam, in his commentary on Romans 14:5, will be both sufficiently distinct and authoritative:
Romans 14:5. "Another esteemeth every day alike," viz: (explains Limborch) "The converts to Christ from among the Gentiles, on whom the burden of the ritual law was never imposed, did not recognize this distinction of days, but esteemed all days equal, and one no more noble than another. It is true, indeed, that the apostles and primitive Church were already accustomed to assemble in sacred meetings the first day of the week; but not because they believed that day more eminent than any other, nor because they believed the rest of that day to be a part of Divine worship, as the rest of the seventh day had been under the law; nor that it must be observed with rigor, as formerly, under the law. By no means: but because it was convenient to designate some time for sacred exercises: and that a man might the better be at leisure for them, rest also from daily labor was required. The first day of the week, on which the Lord rose from the dead, (which is thus called the Lordís day, Rev. 1:10) seemed most meet to be destined to these services; but not because it was judged more holy, or because a rigid rest and cessation of all work in observing that day was a part of Divine worship. For thus, it would have been not a taking off of the yoke, but a shifting of it."
On the whole, it may be said that the Protestant Churches of continental Europe have all occupied this ground, concerning the sanctification of the Lordís day. These Churches, properly speaking, have never had the Sabbath; for it has only been to them a holy day, ranking no higher than Christmas or Easter, or a season set apart by civil enactment, or a convenient arrangement for concert in public worship; and not a sacred day of Divine appointment. The manner in which it is desecrated, commonly, throughout the Protestant States of the continent is shocking to the feelings and usages of strict, American Protestants; and seems to them to approximate only too much to the license of Popery. But we have now seen that this desecration is not an accidental irregularity: it is the natural and proper result of the theory in which these Churches have been educated since the Reformation. That the greatest and best of the Reformers should have failed to embrace the truth concerning the Lordís day, is indeed no subject of surprise. That men emerging at a bound from the meridian darkness of Popery into Gospel light should see all things correctly at first, was not to be expected. That they saw so many things "eye to eye," and erred in so few, is a wonder, only to be explained by the presence of the Spirit of all truth. It is wholesome to become acquainted with their few errors, and to explode them; for it will tend to correct that overweening spirit of party which ever prompts Christians to call themselves by the name of men, like those who said; "I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas." But it may well be inquired also, whether a part of the spiritual decline which has almost extinguished the true light in the ancient seats of Luther, Calvin, Witsius and De Moor, is not due to this misconception of Sabbath obligation, and its consequent neglect. The sacred observance of one day in seven is Godís appointed means for the cultivation of piety: when piety vanishes, orthodoxy necessarily follows it in due time.
As has been already indicated, the first successful attempt to establish the theory of a Christian Sabbath, since tile Reformation, was made among the English Puritans. About the year 1595, a dissenting minister of Suffolk, Dr. Nicholas Bound, published a book entitled "Sabbatum Veteris et Novi Testamenti , or The True Doctrine of the Sabbath," in which he advocated the view afterwards adopted by the Westminister Assembly. This treatise had great currency among the devout dissenters and evangelical churchmen, and was the beginning of a discussion which continued, under repeated attempts for its suppression by high church authorities, until the doctrines of the Puritans became those of the bulk of sincere Christians throughout Great Britain and tile American colonies. Archbishop Whitgift condemned Dr. Boundís book to suppression. James I, published his Declaration of Sports, encouraging the people to dancing, trials of archery, erecting May poles, and other amusements, at any hours of the Lordís day not occupied by public worships The flood of immoralities introduced by this measure became so odious, that the secular magistrates, at the urgent instance of the people themselves, suppressed the Sunday sports. Under Charles I, Laud invoked the aid of his clergy to reestablish them; and the strange spectacle was seen of the laity petitioning against the profane desecration of the sacred day, and their spiritual guides compelling them to perpetrate it! (Neal, Hist. of the Puritans, vol. 1., ch. 8; vol. 2, ch. 2-5.)
The Westminster Assembly.
The first great Synod which ever propounded, in modern ages, the true doctrine of the Lordís day, was the Westminster Assembly. Their Confession of Faith, which is now the standard of the Scotch, Irish and American Presbyterian, and of many independent Churches, states the truth so luminously, (ch. 21:7-8), that we shall repeat their words here, though familiar, as the best statement of the proposition and text of our subsequent discussion.
"Sec. 7. As it is of the law of nature that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for tile worship of God; so in His word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him; which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lordís day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath."
"Sec. 8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the day from their own works, words, and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations; but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy."
As the doctrinal articles of the Westminster Assembly were generally adopted by the Calvinistic dissenters of England and America, they also embraced these views of the Sabbath. The reader will now easily comprehend, from this historical review, what would naturally be the views of these several denominations concerning Sabbath observance, and what is the legitimate source of that diversity, vagueness and license, which are exhibited in this country, in our Sabbath usages. To particularize further would be unnecessary, and might be supposed invidious.
Sabbath Command Moral.
We proceed now to the attempt to give a full but summary statement of the grounds upon which Presbyterians assert the doctrine of a Christian Sabbath as it is set forth in their Confession. And first: it is most obvious, that if the Sabbath law contained in the decalogue is "a positive, moral and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages," and not ceremonial and positive, like the Jewish laws of meats, new moons and sacrifices, it cannot have passed away along with the other temporary shadows of Judaism. If it was not introduced by the Levitical economy for the first time, but was in force before, and if it was binding not on Jews only, but on all men, then the abrogation of that economy cannot have abrogated that which it did not institute. The Apostle Paul justifies us here, by using an argument exactly parallel in a similar case. "The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was four hundred and thirty years after cannot disannul." Gal. 3:17 Upon the question whether the fourth commandment was of Mosaic origin, or earlier, the fathers were divided: and this fact is another among the many proofs of their slender acquaintance with the Hebrew literature and antiquities.
That it is a positive, moral, and perpetual command, we argue from the facts that there is a reason in the nature of things, making such an institution necessary to manís religious interests; and that this necessity is substantially the same in all ages and nations. That it is manís duty to worship God, none will dispute. Nor will it be denied that this worship should be in part social; because man is a being of social affections, and subject to social obligations; and because one of the great ends of worship is the display of the Divine glory before our fellow creatures. Social worship cannot be conducted without the appointment of a stated day; and what more reasonable than that the Divine authority, who is the object of this worship, should meet this necessity, by Himself fixing the day for all mankind? And even for the cultivation of our individual devotion, a periodical season is absolutely necessary to creatures of habit and of finite capacities, like us. What is not regularly done will soon be omitted; for periodical recurrence is the very foundation of habit. Unless these spiritual thoughts and exercises were attached to some certain season, they would inevitably be pushed out of the minds of carnal and sensuous beings like man, by the cares of this world. Now when it is our duty to perform a certain work, it is also our duty to employ all the necessary means for it. The question, whether the Sabbath command is moral or positive, seems therefore, to admit of a very simple solution. Whether one day in six., or one in eight, might not have seemed to the Divine wisdom admissible for this purpose; or which day of the seven, the first or last, should be consecrated to it, or what should be the particular external ceremonies for its observance; all these things, we freely admit, are of merely positive institution, and may be changed by the Divine Legislator. But that man shall observe some stated, recurring period of religious worship, is as much a dictate of the natural reason and conscience, as immediate a result of the natural relations of man to God, as that man shall worship his God at all. And no reason can be shown why this original moral obligation was more or less stringent upon the Israelites of the Mosaic period, than on men before or since them. If the ground of the Sabbath institution, in the moral relations existing by nature, is universal and perpetual, is it not reasonable to expect the precept to be so also?
Sabbath Command Primeval.
We argue further, that the enactment of the Sabbath law does not date from Moses, but was coeval with the human race. It is one of the two first institutions of paradise. The sanctification of the seventh day took place from the very end of the week of creation. (Gen. 2:3.) For whose observance was tile day, then, consecrated or set apart, if not for manís? Not for Godís; because the glorious paradox is forever true of Him, that His ineffable quiet is as perpetual as His ever active providence. Not surely for the angelsí, but for Adamís. Doubtless Eden witnessed the sacred rest of him and his consort from
Of their sweet gardening labor, which sufficed
To recommend cool zephyr, and made ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
And from that time downward, we have indications, brief indeed, but as numerous as we should expect in the brief record of Genesis and Exodus, and sufficient to show that the Sabbath continued to be an institution of the patriarchal religion. A slight probable evidence of this may even be found in the fact, that seven has ever been a sacred and symbolical number, among Patriarchs, Israelites, and Pagans. In Genesis we read of the "seven clean beasts," the "seven well favored," and "seven lean kine," the "seven ears of corn, rank and good." Now there is no natural phenomenon to suggest the number: for no noted heavenly body, or natural element, revolves precisely in seven hours, days, weeks, or months. Whence the peculiar idea everywhere attached to the number, if not from the institution of a week for our first parents? But to proceed to more solid facts: It is at least probable that the "end of days," (Gen. 4:3), rendered in our version, "process of time," at which Cain and Abel offered their sacrifices, was the end of the week, the seventh, or Sabbath day. In Gen. 7:10, we find God Himself observing the weekly interval in the preparations for the flood. We find another clear hint of the observance of the weekly division of time by Noah and his family in their floating prison. (Gen. 8:10-12, The patriarch twice waited a period of seven days to send out his dove. From Gen. 29:27, we learn that it was customary among the patriarchs of Mesopotamia, in the days of Laban, to continue a wedding festival a week; and the very term of service rendered by Jacob for his two wives, shows the use made of the number seven as the customary duration of a contract for domestic servitude. Gen. 50:10, shows us that at the time of Jacobís death, a week was also the length of the most honorable funeral exercises. In Exod. 12:3-20 we find the first institution of the Passover, when as yet there were no Mosaic institutions. This feast was also appointed to last a week. In Exodus 16:22-30, where we read the first account of the manna, we find the Sabbath institution already in force; and no candid mind will say that this is the history of its first enactment. It is spoken of as a rest with which the people ought to have been familiar. But the people had not yet come to Sinai, and none of its institutions had been given. Here, then, we have the Sabbathís rest enforced on Israel, before the ceremonial law was set up, and two weekly variations wrought in the standing miracle of the manna, in order to facilitate it. And when at length we come to the formal command of the decalogue, it is expressed in terms which clearly indicate that the Sabbath was an institution already known, of which the obligation was now only re affirmed.
This Proved By Decalogue.
The very fact that this precept found a place in the awful "ten words," is of itself strong evidence that it is not a positive and ceremonial, but a more; and perpetual statute. Confessedly, there is nothing else ceremonial here. An eminent distinction was given as we saw, Lect. 30th to the subjects of these ten commands, by the mode in which God delivered them. How can it be believed that this one ceremonial precept has been thrust in here, where all else is of obligation as old, and as universal as the race? This is strengthened also by the reflection that the ground first assigned in Genesis, and here repeated for its enactment, is in no sense Jewish or national. Godís work of creation in six days, and His rest on the seventh, have just as much relation to one tribe of Adamís descendants as to another. Note the contrast: that, in many cases, when ceremonial and Jewish commands are given, like the Passover, a national or Jewish event is assigned as its ground, like the exodus from Egypt.
Proved By Tradition.
The assertion that the Sabbath was coexisting with the human race, and was intended for the observation of all, receives collateral confirmation also from the early traditions concerning it, which pervade the first Pagan literature. It can hardly be supposed that Homer and Hesiod borrowed from the books of Moses, sabbatical allusions which would have been to their hearers unintelligible. They must be the remnants of those primeval traditions of patriarchal religion, which had been transferred by the descendants of Japheth, to the isles of Chittim. The early allusions to a sacred seventh day may be sufficiently exhibited by citing a collection of them from Eusebiusí Preparation Evangelica(50. 13., Sect. 13), which he quotes from the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria. The latter father is represented as saying: "That the seventh day is sacred, not the Hebrews only, but the Gentiles also acknowledge, according to which the whole universe of animals and vegetables revolves." Hesiod, for instance, thus says concerning it:
"The first, the fourth also, and the seventh is a sacred day." (Ieron `Hmar .) Dierum, line 6.
And again: "The seventh day once more, the splendid dawn of the sun."
And Homer: "The seventh day then arrived, the sacred day."
Again: "The seventh was sacred."
"The seventh dawn was at hand, and with this all the series is completed."
And once more: "On the seventh day, we left the stream of Acheron."
And thus also writes Callimachus the poet: "It was now the Sabbath day: and with this all was accomplished."
Again: "The seventh day is among the fortunate; yea, the seventh is the parent day."
Again: "The seventh day is first, and the seventh day is the complement."
And: "All things in the starry sky are found in sevens; and shine in their ordained cycles."
"And this day, the elegies of Solon also proclaim as more sacred, in a wonderful mode."Thus far Clement and Eusebius. Josephus, in his last book against Apion, affirms that "there could be found no city, either of the Grecians or Barbarians, who owned not a seventh dayís rest from labor." This of course is exaggerated. Philo, cotemporary with Josephus, calls the Sabbath eorth pandhmo" .
Because Enforced On Foreigners.
We argue once more, that the Sabbath never was a Levitical institution, because God commanded its observance both by Jews and Gentiles, in the very laws of Moses. "In it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates." To see the force of the argument from this fact, the reader must contrast the jealous care with which "the stranger," the pagan foreigner residing in an Israelitish community, was prohibited from all share in their ritual services. No foreigner could partake of the Passoveróit was sacrilege. He was even forbidden to enter the court of the temple where the sacrifices were offered, at the peril of his life. Now, when the foreigner is commanded to share the Sabbath rest, along with the Israelite, does not this prove that rest to be no ceremonial, no type, like the Passover and the altar, but a universal moral institution, designed for Jew and Gentile alike?
We have thus established this assertion on an impregnable basis, because the argument from it is direct and conclusive. If the Sabbath command was in full force before Moses, the passing away of Mosesí law does not remove it. If it always was binding, on grounds as general as the human race, on all tribes of mankind, the dissolution of Godís special covenant with the family of Jacob did not repeal it. If its nature is moral and practical, the substitution of the substance for the types does not supplant it. The reason that the ceremonial laws were temporary was that the necessity for them was temporary. They were abrogated because they were no longer needed. But the practical need for a Sabbath is the same in all ages. When it is made to appear that this day is the bulwark of practical religion in the world, that its proper observance everywhere goes hand in hand with piety and the true worship of God; that where there is no Sabbath there is no Christianity, it becomes an impossible supposition that God would make the institution temporary. The necessity for the Sabbath has not ceased, therefore it is not abrogated. In its nature, as well as its necessity, it is a permanent, moral command. All such laws are as incapable of change as the God in whose character they are founded. Unlike mere positive or ceremonial ordinances, the authority of which ceases as soon as God sees fit to repeal the command for them, moral precepts can never be repealed; because the purpose to repeal them would imply a change in the unchangeable, and a depravation in the perfect character of God.
New Testament Does Not Abrogate.
Let us now proceed to refute the expositions and arguments of those who abrogate the Sabbath from certain New Testament passages. It may be remarked once for all in the outset, that the erroneous expositions of Calvin are far the least objectionable, and at the same time, the most subtle and acute; and that those of Neander are in full contrast with his in both these respects.
Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 11:23-28; Luke 6:1-5.
The first passage is that contained, with some variation, in Matt. 12:1-8; Mark 2:12-28; Luke 6:2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5. The reader, on examining these places in connection, and supplying from the second or third evangelist what is omitted by the first, will find that our Lord advances five ideas distinguishable from each other. His hungry and wearied disciples, passing with Him through the fields of ripe corn, had availed themselves of the permission of Deut. 23:25, to pluck, rub out, and eat some grains of wheat, as a slight refreshment. The Pharisees seize the occasion to cavil that He had thus permitted them to break the Sabbath law, by engaging in the preparation of their food in sacred time; objecting thus against the trivial task of rubbing out, and winnowing from the chaff a few heads of wheat as they walked along. Our Savior defends them and himself by saying, in the first place, that the necessity created by their hunger justified the departure from the letter of the law, as did Davidís necessity, when, fleeing for his life, he employed the shew bread (and innocently) to relieve his hunger; second, that the example of the priests, who performed necessary manual labor without blame about the temple on the Sabbath, justified what His disciples had done; third, that God preferred the compliance with the spirit of His law, which enjoins humanity and mercy, over a mere compliance with its outward rites; for, in the fourth place Godís design in instituting the Sabbath had been purely a humane one, seeing He had intended it, not as a burdensome ceremonial to gall the necks of men to no benevolent purpose, but as a means of promoting the true welfare of the human race; and last, that He Himself, as the Messiah, was the Divine and Supreme authority in maintaining the Sabbath law, as well as all othersóso that it was enough for Him to pronounce that His disciples had made no infraction of it.
Our Savior Here Defines Jewish Sabbath.
The first general view presented hereupon by the anti Sabbatarians is, that Christ here, for the first time, introduces the freer, more lenient law of the new dispensation, by His Messianic authority, as a substitute for the stricter Mosaic law. The simple and short answer is, that it is the Sabbath as it ought to be observed by Jews, under the Mosaic laws, which our Savior is here expounding. The new dispensation had not yet come; and was not to begin till Pentecost. After all this discussion, Christ complied with all the requisitions of the Levitical institutions up to His death. If then, any thing is relaxed, it is the Mosaic Sabbath, as Jews should keep it, which is the subject of the alteration. But we wish the reader to bear in mind, as a point important here and hereafter, that our Savior does not claim any relaxation at all for His disciples. The whole drift of His argument is to show that when the Mosaic law of the Sabbath is properly understood, (as Jews should practice it,) His disciples have not broken it at all. They have complied with it; and need no lowering of its sense in order to escape its condemnation. Bearing this in mind, we proceed to the second erroneous inference. This is, that our Savior illustrates and expounds the Sabbath law, by two cases of other laws merely ceremonial, the disposition of the old shew bread and the Sabbath sacrifices. Hence, the inference, that the Sabbath also is but a ceremonial law. But to those who will notice how entirely the Jewish Scriptures neglect, in their practical recitals and discussions of religious duties, the distinction which we make between the "moral" and the "positive," this inference will be seen to be utterly worthless. The Jewish mind never paused to express the distinction, in its practical views of duty. See how Moses mixes, in Exodus, prohibitions against idolatry, or hewing the stones of which the altar was made: against eating flesh torn of beasts in the field, and bearing false witness. See how Ezek. (ch. 18.) conjoins eating upon the mountains and taking usury on a loan, with idolatry and oppression, in his description of the sins of his contemporaries. But again: It has been admitted that the external and formal details of Sabbath observance may be of only positive obligation, while the obligation to keep religiously a stated season is moral. It does not, then, at all imply that the substantial observance of such a stated day is not of moral and perpetual obligation, because any of those details concerning the labors of necessity or mercy which are wholly compatible with such observance, are illustrated by comparison with other ceremonial precepts. It is argued again, that "our Savior, in His third point, implies that Sabbath observance is but ceremonial, while the duty of mercy is of moral obligation, when He indicates that if the two clash, the Sabbath observance is to give way. "The positive gives way to the moral." The force of this is entirely removed by recalling the fact that it is not a failure of Sabbath observance, which He excuses by the argument that the positive should give place to the moral; but it is an incidental labor of necessity wholly compatible with Sabbath observance. There had been no failure. Nor is it true that when we are commanded to let one given duty give place to the higher demands of another, the former is, therefore, only positive, while the latter is moral. There is a natural, moral, and perpetual obligation to worship God; and yet it might be our duty to suspend any acts of worship, to almost any number, in order to meet the demands of urgent cases of necessity calling for our compassion. The wise man expresses precisely the sense of our Saviorís argument when he says: "To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice." (Prov. 21:3.) And the meaning is, that the formal acts of religious worship. though in general demanded bynature and reason, are less important in Godís eyes than the direct acts which express the true spirit of holiness in which religion consists. "Sacrifice," both here, and in our Saviorís citation from Samuel, represents the whole general idea of outward religious worship. It is not because "sacrifice" is merely ceremonial, that it is postponed in importance, to mercy and justice, but because it is external, and may be merely formal. Religious worship, here intended by the more special term "sacrifice," is surely not a duty merely ceremonial and positive in its obligations, though external. Our Savior, then, does not imply that the Sabbath is an institution merely ceremonial, by comparing it to sacrifice.
The perverted gloss of the fourth idea: "The Sabbath is made for man," is almost too shallow to need exposure. It has been used as though it sanctioned the notion, that man was not intended to be cramped by the Sabbath, but, on the contrary it was intended to yield to his convenience and gratification. But since the object of the Sabbath is here stated to be a humane one, namely, the promotion of manís true welfare, it must be settled what that true welfare is, and how it may be best promoted, before we are authorized to conclude that we may do what we please with the holy day. If it should appear that manís true welfare imperatively demands a Sabbath day, strictly observed and fenced in with Divine authority, the humanity of the Divine motive in giving a Sabbath would argue any thing else than the license inferred from it.
Christ Does Not Remit.
The concluding words of the passage, in Matthew, have suggested an argument which is at least not more plausible. alvin paraphrases them thus: "The Son of man, agreeably to His authority, is able to relax the Sabbath day just as the other legal ceremonies." And just before: "Here lie saith that power is given to Him to release His people from the necessity of observing the Sabbath." The inference is obvious, that if this is His scope in these words, then the Sabbath must be admitted by us to be only a ceremonial institution; for we have ourselves argued that moral laws are founded on the unchangeable nature of God Himself, and will never be changed, because God cannot change. But this is clearly a mistaken exposition. It may be noted that the conjunction which is rendered by Calvin and the English version, "the Son of man is Lord even (or also) of the Sabbath is unanimously rejected by modern editors of the text. Calvin, of course, makes this conjunction regard the ceremonials just mentioned: "The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath also," (as well as of matters of shew bread and sacrifice). But we should almost certainly read the clause without the conjunction: "If ye had known what this means, íI prefer mercy rather than sacrifice, í ye would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath." What force shall we assign to the illative "for," wholly neglected by Calvin? There is no reasonable explanation of it, but thee which makes it introduce the ground on which the innocence of the disciples is asserted. "These men, blamed by you, are innocent; it is enough that I defend them: for I am Lord of the Sabbath. This law is my law. Mine is the authority which enacts it, and if I am satisfied, that itself is innocence in my subjects." But this is comparatively unimportant. The evident reason which shows Calvinís paraphrase to be entirely a misconception, is this: As we have said, the whole drift of our Saviorís argument is not to excuse His disciples, but to defend them. He does not claim that the Sabbath law, as enacted for Jews, must needs be relaxed, in order to admit the conduct of the disciples; but that this law justified their conduct. He concludes His defense by telling their accusers, "you have condemned the Innocent." Now, to represent Him as shielding them by asserting a right in Himself to relax the Sabbath law for them, makes Him adopt in the end a ground of defense contradictory to the former. The last argument would stultify all the previous ones. And, as a question of fact, is it true, that Christ did, at this time, exercise His divine authority to relax any Mosaic institution in favor of His disciples? Is it not notorious, on the contrary, that He taught them to give an exemplary compliance in every respect, until the time was fully come after His resurrection?
But to conclude. It is most obvious that, whatever is our exposition of the particular parts, our Saviorís drift is to unfold the true nature of the Mosaic Sabbath, as then obligatory on Jews still obedient to the ceremonial law, as He admitted Himself and His disciples to be; and not the nature of the Christian Sabbath. The latter was not to be introduced until many months after, as our opponents themselves admit. And this short view is a sufficient refutation in itself.
Is Jewish Strictness Still Required?
It may be as well to notice here a supposed difficulty attending our argument. It is said: "If you deny that Christ promises any relaxation of the stringency of the Levitical Sabbath, as of a ceremonial yoke, then you ought in consistency to exact of Christians now as punctilious an observance as was demanded of the old Jews, in every respect. You should refuse to make a fire in your dwellings on the Sabbath. You should seek to reenact the terrible law of Num. 15:35, which punished a wretch with death for gathering a few sticks."
This is only skillful sophistry. We have not asserted that all the details of the Sabbath laws, in the books of Moses, were of perpetual moral obligation. We have not denied that some of them were ceremonial. The two instances mentioned which are the only plausible ones which can be presented against us, are not taken from the decalogue, but from subsequent parts of the ceremonial books. We expressly contrasted the Sabbath precept as it stands in the "ten words" with all the rest, with reference to its perpetual, moral nature. The precept there contains only two pointsórest from secular labor, and the sanctification of the day, which means in our view its appropriation to sacred services. The matter which is of perpetual moral obligation in the Sabbath law, is only this, that a finite, sensuous, and social being like man, shall have some periodical season statedly consecrated to religious services, (such season as God shall see fit to appoint). And all matters of detail and form which do not clash with this great end, are matters of mere positive enactment, which may be changed or repealed by Him who enacted them. But we can present several very consistent and sufficient reasons why the ceremonial details, added to the great moral law of the decalogue by the subsequent and ritual part of the Levitical legislation, should be more stringent; and enforced by heavier penalties, than among us. First: the Sabbath became to the Israelite not only a religious institution of moral obligation, but a type. It took rank with his new moon, and his Passover. Of this, more hereafter. But the very nature and design of a symbolical ritual demand that it shall be observed with technical accuracy. Next, the government was a theocracy, and no line whatever separated the secular and sacred statutes from each other. Hence, it is natural that offenses should deserve very different penalties under such a government, and especially an offense aimed so especially against the Divine Chief Magistrate, as Sabbath labor. Third: The Hebrewsí houses had no hearths, nor chimneys, except for cooking; so that in that warm climate a prohibition to light fire on the Sabbath is exactly equivalent to a prohibition to cook food on the holy day. Even if this prohibition were a part of the decalogue, it would be a ridiculous sacrifice of its spirit to its letter, to compel us, in our wintry climate, to forego the fire which is hourly necessary to health and comfort. But as the prohibition signifies in its spirit, we freely admit that with us, as with the Jews, all culinary labors should be intermitted, except such as are demanded by necessity and mercy, or by the different nature of a part of the food on which civilized nations now subsist. For us to allow ourselves further license would be to pelter with that which we have so carefully pointed out as the essential and perpetual substance of the Sabbath lawóthe cessation of labor, and the appropriation to religious pursuits of one day (not one fragment of a day) in seven. When the Confession of Faith says that we are commanded to rest "all the day" from our own employments and amusements, and to "take up the whole time" in religious exercises, it only assumes that "a day" means, in the decalogue, a day.
The second group of passages which are used against our theory of Sabbath obligation are, Rom. 14:5-6; Gal. 4:9-11; Col. 2:16, 17. To save the reader trouble, we will copy them.
Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:9-11; Colossians 2:16-17.
"One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteerneth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he cloth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks."
"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain."
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
The facts in which all are agreed, which explain the Apostleís meaning in these passages, are these: After the establishment of the new dispensation, the Christians converted from among the Jews had generally combined the practice of Judaism with the forms of Christianity. They observed the Lordís day, baptism, and the Lordís supper; but they also continued to keep the seventh day, the Passover, and circumcision. At first it was proposed by them to enforce this double system on all Gentile Christians; but this project was rebuked by the meeting of apostles and elders at Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 15. A large part, however, of the Jewish Christians, out of whom ultimately grew the Ebionite sect, continued to observe the forms of both dispensations; and restless spirits among the mixed churches of Jewish and Gentile converts planted by Paul, continued to attempt their enforcement on Gentiles also; some of them conjoining with this Ebionite theory the graver heresy of a justification by ritual observances. Thus, at this day, this spectacle was exhibited. In the mixed churches of Asia Minor and the West, some brethren went to the synagogue on Saturday, and to the church meeting on Sunday, keeping both days religiously; while some kept only Sunday. Some felt bound to keep all the Jewish festivals and fasts, while others paid them no regard. And those who had not Christian light to apprehend these Jewish observances as nonessentials, found their consciences grievously burdened or offended by the diversity. It was to quiet this trouble that the apostle wrote these passages. Thus far we agree.
We, however, further assert, that by the beggarly elements of "days," "months," "times," "years," "holy days," "new moons," "Sabbath days," the apostle means Jewish festivals, and those alone. The Christianís festival, Sunday, is not here in question; because about the observance of this there was no dispute nor diversity in the Christian churches. Jewish and Gentile Christians alike consented universally in its sanctification. When Paul asserts that the regarding of a day, or the not regarding it, is a non essential, like the eating or not eating of meats, the natural and fair interpretation is, that he means those days which were in debate, and no others. When he implies that some innocently "regarded every day alike," we should understand, every one of those days which were subjects of diversityónot the Christiansí Sunday, about which there was no dispute.
Anti Sabbatarian ViewóReply.
But the other party gives to Paulís words a far more sweeping sense. They suppose him to assert "that the new dispensation has detached the service of God from all connections with stated seasons whatever, so that in its view, all days, Sabbath or Sunday, Passover or Easter, should be alike to the Christian spirit. He who ceased to observe the Jewish days, in order to transfer his sabbatical observances, his stated devotions and special religious rest to the Christian days, was still in substance a Judaizer. He was retaining the Jewish bondage of spirit under a new form. The true liberty which Paul would teach was this: To regard no day whatever as more related to the Christian consciousness than any other day, and to make every day a rest from sin, pervading all with a sacred spirit by performing all its labors to the glory of God. This is the true, thorough, and high ground, which the apostle called them to occupy with him. But opposition to Judaism, and reverence for Christ in His resurrection had led the Christians to hold their public meetings on Sunday instead of Saturday; and some little allowance of set days (including Easter and Whitsuntide) had been granted to the weakness of the Christian life, which, in the common average of Christians, had not yet risen to that level which would enable them, like Paul, to make every day equally a Lordís day. This concession had been possibly established with Paulís connivance, certainly very early in the history of the Church; and, on the whole, was a very convenient and useful human appointment." See this view in Neander, Hist., vol. 1., 3, vol. 2, 3; and Planting and Training vol. 1:bk. 3, ch. 5., 2. The chief argument by which he supports his view is a perversion of the figurative and glowing language found in the few and not very perspicuous writings of the Christians immediately next to the apostles, where they speak affectionately of the Christianís whole life as belonging to God by the purchase of redemption, and of the duties of every day as an oblation to His honor. The thankful spirit of the new dispensation, urges Neander, unlike the Jewish, felt itself constrained by gratitude for redemption to consecrate its whole life to God. Whatever the Christianís occupation, whether secular or religious, all was alike done to the glory of God. Hence, all was consecrated; every day was a holy day, for the whole life was holy; every Christian was a perpetual priest. Hence, there was no room for the idea of a Sabbath at all. Strange that the learned and amiable antiquary should have forgotten, that all this was just as true of pious Hebrews before, as of Christians after Christóof Isaiah as of Paul. Isaiah, if redeemed at all, was redeemed by the same blood with Paul, owed substantially the same debt of gratitude, and would feel, as a true saint, the same self consecration. The spirit of the precept, "Do all to the glory of God," actuates the pious Israelite exactly as it did the pious Christian. Let the reader compare Deut. 6:4, 5, with Matt. 22:37. So, this argument proves that there ought to be no room for a sabbatical distinction of days under the old dispensation, just as under the new. Unluckily, the explicit language of the books of Moses is rather damaging to the validity of the inference.
Neander concedes that Paulís ground was too high for many; and hence an observance of some days, not jure divino , was allowed them. On this I remark, first, that it is a low view of the apostleís inspiration, which makes him set up a standard so impractical, that the teaching needed amendment by a human expedient; and second, that this admitted fact goes far to prove that a Sabbath is grounded, as a permanent and moral precept, in manís wants and nature. Third, this plea leaves the Lordís day in the attitude of a piece of will worship.
Is the Sabbath A Type?
In our remaining discussion of the passages cited from the epistles. we may confine our remarks to Col. 2:16, 17, For it contains all the apparent difficulties for the Sabbatarian, and all the supposed arguments for his opponent, in the strongest form. The point made by Calvin upon the words, "Sabbath days, are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ," is far the most plausible, and indeed the only one of serious difficulty. It is in substance this: That if it be admitted that the Lordís day was never included by the earlier Christians in the term Sabbataóand the apostle is here condemning the Jewish holy days onlyóstill the fact will remain that the Jewish Sabbath was a shadow. That is, it was a typical, and not a perpetual moral institution, so that it must pass away along with all the other types, after the substance comes, unless some positive New Testament precept re enact it. But there is no such precept. To this we answer, that the Sabbath was to the Jews both a perpetual, moral institution, and a type. That it was the former, we have proved in the first general branch of our discussion. It was as old as the race of man, was given to all the race, was given upon an assigned motive of universal application, and to satisfy a necessity common to the whole race, was founded on manís natural relations to his Maker, was observed before the typical dispensation came among all tribes was re enacted in the decalogue where all the precepts are perpetual, and was enjoined on foreigners as well as Jews in the Holy Land: while from all types foreigners were expressly excluded. That it was to the Jews also a type, we admit. Like the new moons, it was marked by an additional number of sacrifices. It was to the Israelites a memorial of their exodus from Egypt, and their covenant of obedience to God. Deut. 5:15, Exod. 31:13; Ezek. 20:12. It was for a time, at least, a foreshadowing of the rest of Canaan. Heb. 4:4-11. It was to them, as it is to us, a shadow of the rest in heaven. Heb. 4:9. Calvin adds, (Institutes, Bk. 2, ch. 8, 29) that its most important typical use was to represent the cessation of the efforts of self righteousness in us, that we may repose in the justifying and sanctifying grace of Christ. For this his proofs seem to us very slender. When the Epistle to the Colossians says that Sabbaths, along with holy days and new moons, are a shadow, it seems to us much the most simple explanation to say that it is the sacrificial aspect of those days, or (to employ other words) their use as special days of sacrifice, in which they together constituted a shadow. They were a shadow in this: that the sacrifices, which constituted so prominent a part of their Levitical observance, pointed to Christ the body. This is exactly accordant with the whole tenor of the Epistles.
The seventh day had been, then, to the Jews, both a moral institution and a ritual type. In its latter use, the coming of Christ had of course abrogated it. In its former use, its whole duties and obligations had lately been transferred to the Lordís day. So that the seventh day, as distinguished from Sunday, along with the new moons, was now nothing but a type, and that an effete one. In this aspect, the apostle might well argue that its observance then indicated a Judaising tendency.
The "Days" Excluded Are Jewish.
We fortify our position farther by reasserting that the fair exposition of all these passages should lead us to understand by the phrases, "days, "times," "holydays," only those days or times which were then subjects of diversity among the Christians to whom the apostle was writing. When he implies that some innocently "regarded every day alike," we ought in fairness to understand by "every day," each of those days which were then in dispute. But we know historically that there was no diversity among these Christians concerning the observance of the Lordís day. All practiced it. If we uncritically persist in taking the phrase "every day" in a sense absolutely universal, we shall place the teachings and usages of the apostle in a self contradictory light. We make him tell his converts that the Lordís day may be regarded as just like any other day; when we know that, in fact, neither the apostle nor any of his converts regarded it so. They all observed it as a religious festival, and, as we shall show, with the clear sanction of inspired example. Again: it must be distinctly remembered that the word Sabbath was never applied, in New Testament language, to the Lordís day, but was always used for the seventh day, and other Jewish festivals, as distinguised from the Christian Sunday. We have the authority of Suidas, Theophylact and Caesarius, and Lev. 23:24, that the "Jews called any of their stated religious festivals Sabbata We might then argue, perhaps, that there is no evidence that the seventh day is intended in this place of Colossians at all; but only the Jewish feasts. But we waive this, as too near to special pleading. With far more confidence we argue, that since all parties have claimed the parallelism of three passages in Romans, Galatians and Colossians, as to their occasion and doctrine, we are entitled to assume that the passage in Colossians, the most explicit of the three, is to be taken as explicative of the other two. And we assert that, according to well known usage of the word Sabbata at that time, the Sundays were definitely excluded from the apostleís assertion. When he says here, "holy days," "new moons, and Sabbath days," he explicitly excludes the Lordís days. We are entitled to assume, therefore, that they are excluded when he says in the parallel passage of Romans, "every day," and in Galatians, "days, and months, and times, and years." That the Lordís days were sacred was not in debate; this is set aside as a matter known to all, consented unto by all. It is the Jewish holy days from the observance of which the Christian conscience is exempted.
Without Sabbath, the New Dispensation Would Be the Worse.
Let us recur to that view of the necessity of a Sabbatical without Sabbath institution in some form. It is not a temporary New Dispensationary or ceremonial need, but one founded on would be the worse, manís very nature and relations to his God. If there is no stated sacred day, there will be no religion. Now should we so interpret the apostleís words as to leave the New Testament Church no Sabbath at all in any shape? After the experience of all ages had shown that a Sabbath rest was the natural and necessary means essential to religious welfare, was the New Testament Church stripped more bare, left more poor than all preceding dispensations? Paradise had enjoyed its Sabbath, though needing it less. The patriarchal saints enjoyed it. Abraham enjoyed it. Israel, under the burdensome tutelage of the law, enjoyed it. But now that the last, the fullest, the most gracious and blessed dispensation of all has come, this one of the two institutions of Eden is taken away? We cannot accept such an exposition of the apostleís meaning.
Lordís Day Is Christian Sabbath.
We shall now, in the third branch of our discussion, attempt to show the ground on which we is Christians assert that the Sabbath, "from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lordís day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath." This proof is chiefly historical, and divides itself into two branches. first, that drawn from the inspired history of the New Testament; and second, that found in the authentic but uninspired testimony of primitive Christians. The latter, which might have been thought to demand a place in our review of the history of Sabbath opinions has been reserved for this place, because it forms an interesting part of our ground of argument. But let us here say, once for all, that we invoke this patristic testimony, in no Papal or prelate spirit of dependence on it. In our view, all the uninspired church testimony in the world, however venerable, would never make it our duty to keep Sunday as a Sabbath. We use these fathers simply as historical witnesses, and their evidence derives its whole value in our eyes from its relevancy to this point whether or not the apostles left a custom of observing Sunday, instead of the Sabbaths, established by their example in the Churches.
Inferred From Abrogation of Seventh Day.
Our first, or preliminary argument for the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath, is that implied in the second Scripture reference subjoined by our Confession to the sentence we have just quoted from it. If we have been successful in proving that the Sabbath is a perpetual institution, the evidence will appear perfect. The perpetual law of the decalogue has commanded all men, in all time, to keep a Sabbath day, and "till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall not pass from the law of God till all be fulfilled." The Apostle, in Col. 2:16, 17, clearly tells us that the seventh day is no longer our Sabbath. What day, then, is it? Some day must have been substituted, and what one so likely to be the true substitute as the Lordís day? The law is not repealed; it cannot be. But Paul has shown that it is changed. To what day is the Sabbath changed, if not to the first? No other day in the week has a shadow of a claim. It must be this, or none. It cannot be none. therefore it must be this.
Proved By Precedent.
The other main argument consists in the fact that disciples, inspired apostles, and their Christians near by did observe the Lords day as a religious festival. And this fact must be viewed, to see its full force, in connection with the first argument. When we find them at once beginning, and uniformly continuing, the observance of the Lordís day, while they avow that they are no longer bound to observe the seventh day; when we couple with this the knowledge of the truth that they, like all the rest of the world, were still commanded by God to keep His Sabbath; we see that the inference is overwhelming, that the authority by which they observed the Lordís day was from God, although they did not say so. That which is inferred from Scripture, "by good and necessary consequence," is valid, as well as that which is set down expressly in it. Examination shows us, then, that the disciples commenced the observance of the Lordís day by social worship the very next week after the resurrection. From John 20:19, we learn that the very day of the resurrection, at evening, the disciples were assembled with closed doors, with the exception of Thomas Didymus. Can we doubt that they had met for worship? In verse 26 we learn. "And after eight days again His disciples were within, and Thomas with them. then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you." None will doubt but that this was also a meeting for worship, and the wording implies that it was their second meeting. In Jewish language, and estimates of time, the days at which the counts begin and end are always included in the counts, so that "after eight days," here indisputably means just a full week.
Pentecost Was On First Day.
By consulting Leviticus 23:15, 16 and Deut. 16:, 9, we find that the day of Pentecost was fixed in the first day this way. On the morning after that Sabbath (seventh day) which was included within the Passover week, a sheaf of the earliest ripe corn was cut, brought fresh into the sanctuary, and presented as a thank offering to God. The day of this ceremonial was always the first day of the week, or our Sunday, which was, to the Israelites, a working day. From this day they were to count seven weeks complete, and the fiftieth day was Pentecost day, or the feast of ingathering.
Thus we reach the interesting fact that the day selected by God for the Pentecostal outpouring, and the inauguration of the Gospel dispensation, was the Lordís dayóa significant and splendid testimony to the importance and honor it was intended to have in the Christian world. But we read in Acts 1:14 and 2:1, that this day also was observed by the disciples as a day for social worship. Thus the first day of the week received a second, sacred and august witness, as the weekly solemnity of our religion, not only in its observance by the whole body of the new Church, but by the baptism of fire, and the Holy Spirit. a witness only second to that of Christís victory over death and hell. Then the first public proclamation of the Gospel under the new dispensation began, and surely, when every step, every act of the Divine Providence was formative and fundamental, it was not without meaning that God selected the first day of the week as the chosen day.
Acts 20:7. Lordís Day at Troas.
It is most evident from the New Testament history, that the Apostles and early Church uniformly celebrated their worship on the first day of the week. The hints are not numerous, but they are sufficiently distinct. The next clear instance is in Acts 20:7. The Apostle was now returning from his famous mission to Macedonia and Achaia, in full prospect of captivity at Jerusalem. He stops at the little church at Troas, to spend a season with his converts there. "And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, (ready to depart on the morrow,) and continued his speech until midnight." Here we have a double evidence of our point. First, Paul preached to the disciples on this day, while we see from the sixth verse, that he was a whole week in Troas, including the Jewish Sabbath. Why does he wait nearly a whole week to give these his more solemn and public instructions, unless there had been some usage? Again, the words, "when the disciples came together to break bread," clearly indicate that the first day of the week was their habitual day for celebrating the Lordís Supper. So that it is clear, this Church of Troas, planted and trained by Paul, was in the habit of consecrating the first day of the week to public worship, and the inspired man here concurs in the habit. Neander does, indeed, suggest an evasion, in order to substantiate his assertion that there is no evidence the Lordís day was specially sanctified during the life time of Paul. He says that it is so very probable this day was selected by the brethren, because Paul could not wait any longer, (ready to depart on the morrow,) that no safe inference can be drawn for a habitual observance of the day by them or Paul! But verse 6 tells us that Paul had been already waiting a whole week, and might have had choice of all the days of the week for his meeting! No other word is needed to explode this suggestion.
1 Corinthians 16:1, 2.
The next clear instance is in 1 Cor. 16:2. "Now 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." The points here indicated are twoóthat the weekly oblation of alms giving was fixed for the Lordís dayóand that this rule was enacted for the Church of Corinth, and all those of Galatia. The inference is overwhelming. The Apostle made the usage ultimately uniform in all the churches of his training. Neander again attempts to destroy this evidence for the sanctification of Sunday, by saying that this does not prove there was any church meeting, or public worship on this day. The sum of alms was, most probably, simply laid aside at home, in an individual, private manner. This is made more probable by the Apostleís own words. "let every one of you lay by him in store." But suppose this understanding of the passage is granted, against the uniform custom and tradition of the earliest Christians, which testifies with one voice, that the weekly almsgiving took place in the church meeting. Neanderís point is not yet gained. Still this alms giving was, in the New Testament meaning, an act of worship (see Phil. 4:18). And the early tradition unanimously represents the first Christians as so regarding it. Therefore, whether this alms giving were in public or private, we have here an indisputable instance, that an act of worship was appointed, by apostolic authority, to be intentionally performed on the Lordís day, throughout the churches. This is evidence enough that the first day of the week was the day already known and selected for those forms of worship which were rather weekly than daily.
John Observes the First Day In Patmos.
Only one other remains to be cited and that in Rev. 1:10. John the Apostle introduces the visions by saying, "I was in the spirit on the Lordís day." This is the only instance of the application of this title to the first day of the week in the sacred writings. But all expositors, ancient and modern, say without hesitation, that Sunday is designated by it. On this point the Church has had but one understanding, from the first century down. The Apostle evidently means to inform us that on Sunday he was engaged in a spiritual frame of mind and feelings. The application of the name "Lordís day" to Sunday, by inspired authority, of itself contains almost enough of significance to establish its claims to sanctification, without another text or example. What fair sense can it bear, except that it is a day consecrated to the Lord? Compare Isaiah 58:5, when God calls the Sabbath "my holy day." If the Sabbath is Godís day, the Lordís day should mean a Christian Sabbath. And the occupation of the Apostle this day, with peculiar spiritual exercises, gives additional probability to the belief that it was observed by the New Testament Christians as a day of devotion.
Tradition of Lordís Day.
We come now to the second branch of the historical argument. the testimony of the early, but uninspired tradition of the Lordís Christian writers. The earliest of all cannot be called Christian. In the celebrated letter of inquiry written by Pliny the younger to the Emperor Trajan, on the treatment of persons accused of Christianity, this pagan governor says, that it was the custom of these Christians, "to meet, stato die , before light, to sing a hymn to Christ as God, and bind each other in an oath, (not to some crime but) to refrain from theft, robbery and adultery, not to break faith, and not to betray trusts." This letter was written a few years after the death of the Apostle John We cannot doubt that this stated day, discovered by Pliny was the Lordís day. Ignatius, the celebrated martyred bishop of Antioch, says, in his epistle to the Magnesians, written about A. D. 107 or 116, that this is "the Lordís day, the day consecrated to the resurrection the queen and chief of all the days."
Justin Martyr, who died about A. D. 160 says that the Christians "neither celebrated the Jewish festivals, nor observed their Sabbaths, nor practiced circumcision." (Dialogue with Trypho, p. 34). In another place, he says, that "they, both those who lived in the city and those who lived in the country, were all accustomed to meet on the day which is denominated Sunday, for the reading of the Scriptures, prayer, exhortation and communion. The assembly met on Sunday, because this is the first day on which God, having changed the darkness and the elements, created the world; and because Jesus our Lord on this day rose from the dead."
The epistle attributed to Barnabas, though not written by this apostolic man, is undoubtedly of early origin. This unknown writer introduces the Lord, as saying. "The Sabbaths which you now keep are not acceptable to me; but those which I have made when resting from all things, I shall begin the eighth day, that is the beginning of the other world." "For which cause, we (Christians) observe the eighth day with gladness, in which Jesus rose from the dead." Eph. ch. 15.
Tertullian, at the close of the second century, says. "We celebrate Sunday as a joyful day. On the Lordís day we think it wrong to fast, or to kneel in prayer."
Clement of Alexandria, contemporary with Tertullian, says. "A true Christian, according to the commands of the Gospel, observes the Lordís day by casting out all bad thoughts, and cherishing all goodness, honoring the resurrection of the Lord, which took place on that day." But, perhaps the most important, because the most learned, and, at the same time, the most explicit witness, is Eusebius, the celebrated bishop of Caesarea, who was in his literary prime about the era of the Council of Nice, A. D. 325. In his Commentary on the 92. Psalm, which the reader will remember, is entitled "a psalm or song for the Sabbath day," he says. "The Word, (Christ), by the new covenant, translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave us the symbol of true rest, the saving Lordís day, the first (day) of light, in which the Savior gained the victory over death. On this day, which is the first of the Light and the true Sun, we assemble after the interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbath; even all nations redeemed by Him throughout the world assemble, and do those things according to the spiritual law, which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath. All things which it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lordís day as more appropriately belonging to it, because it has the precedence, and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. It is delivered to us paradedotai that we should meet together on this day, and it is evidence that we should do these things announced in the psalm."
The first Church council which formally enjoined cessation of labor upon the Lordís day was the provincial synod of Laodicea, held a little after the middle of the fourth century. The twenty ninth canon of this body commanded that none but necessary secular labors should be carried on upon Sunday. But Constantine the Great, when he adopted Christianity as the religion of the State, had already enacted that all the labors of courts of justice, civil and military functionaries, and handicraft trades, should be suspended on the Lordís day, and that it should be devoted to prayer and public worship. This suspension of labor was not, however, extended to agriculturists, because it was supposed they needed to avail themselves of the favorable season to gather their harvests, or sow their seed, without regard to sacred days. But the Emperor Leo (who came to the throne A. D. 457) ultimately extended the law to all classes of persons.
The Christians did not for several hundred years apply the word Sabbath to the first day of the week, but always used it distinctly to indicate the Jewish seventh day. Their own sacred day, the first day, was called by them the Lordís day as they said, because it was dedicated to the honor of Christ, and because it was the head, crown, and chief of all the days.
They also called it Sunday (Dies solis , a phrase frequently found among the Latin Christians), because, according to their interpretation of Gen. 1:3, the sun was created on the first day of the week; but still more, because on that day the brighter Sun of Righteousness arose from the dead, with healing in His beams. The objection often made by persons over puritanical, that it smacks of Pagan or Scandinavian profanity to say Sunday, because the word indicates a heathenish consecration of the day to the sun, is therefore more Quakerish than sensible. We are willing to confess that we always loved the good old name Sunday; a name worthy of that day which should ever seem the brightest in the Christianís conceptions, of all the week, when the glorious works of the natural creation first began to display the honors of the great Creator, and when that new and more divine creation of redeeming grace was perfected by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But, in the application of the phrase "Christian Sabbath" to the first day, the Westminster Assembly had a definite and truthful design, although the early Church had not given it this name. It was their intention to express thus that vital head of their theory; that the Old Testament institute called Sabbath, which was coexisting with man, and was destined to coexist with all dispensations, was not abrogated; that it still existed substantially; and that Christians were now to find it in the Lordís day. To the Christian the Lordís day is the Sabbath (such is the significance of the name) possessing the Divine authority, and demanding in the main the sanctification which was formerly attached to the seventh day.
5. Practical Argument.
Another head of the Sabbath argument remains. from its practical necessity, as a means of securing manís corporeal and mental health, his morality, his temporal success in life, and his religious interests. This is the department of the discussion which has been more particularly unfolded in the "Permanent Sabbath Documents," published under the auspices of Dr. Justin Edwards, and more recently in the remarkable essays on the Sabbath, produced by working men in Great Britain. It is now by so much the best understood part of the Sabbath discussion that we should not have introduced it at all except that it was one of the stones in the arch of our attempted demonstration, that there is a natural necessity in man for a Sabbath rest. The Creator, who appointed the Sabbath, formed manís frame, and all intelligent observers are now agreed that the latter was adapted to the former. Either body or mind can do more work by resting one day in seven, than by laboring all the seven days. And neither mind nor body can enjoy health and continued activity without its appointed rest. Even the structure of the brutes exhibits the same law. Again, as a moral and social institution, a weekly rest is invaluable. It is a quiet domestic reunion for the bustling sons of toil. It ensures the necessary vacation in those earthly and turbulent anxieties and affections, which would otherwise become inordinate and morbid. It brings around a season of periodical neatness and decency, when the soil of weekly labor is laid aside, and men meet each other amidst the decencies of the sanctuary, and renew their social affections. But above all, a Sabbath is necessary for manís moral and religious interests. Even in Paradise, and in manís state of innocence, it was true that a stated season, resolutely appropriated to religious exercises, was necessary to his welfare as a religious being. A creature subject to the law of habit, of finite faculties, and required by the conditions of his existence to distribute his attention and labors between things secular and things sacred, cannot successfully accomplish this destiny without a regular distribution of his time between the two great departments. This is literally a physical necessity. And when we add the consideration that man is now a being of depraved, earthly affections, prone to avert his eyes from heaven to the earth, the necessity is still more obvious. Man does nothing regularly for which he has not a regular time. The absolute necessity of the Sabbath, as a season for the public preaching of religion and morality, as a leisure time for the domestic religious instruction of the young, as a time for private self examination and devotion, is most clear to all who admit the importance of these duties. And now, it is most obvious to practical good sense, that if such a stated season is necessary, then it is proper that it should be ordained and marked off by Divine authority, and not by a sort of convention on manís part. To neglect the stated observance of a religious rest, is to neglect religion. And when there is so much of mundane and carnal affectionóso much of craving, eager worldly bustleóto entice us to an infringement of this sacred rest, it is certain that it will be neglected, unless it be defended by the highest sanction of Godís own authority. Nay, do we not see that this sanction is insufficient, even among some who admit its validity? Again, if such a stated rest is necessary, then it is also necessary that its metes and bounds be defined by the same authority which enjoins the rest itself. Otherwise, the license which men will allow themselves in interpreting the duration of the season, and in deciding how much constitutes the observance of it, or how little, will effectually abrogate the rest itself. If, then, the necessities of human nature require a Sabbath, it does not appear how God could ordain less than we suppose He has done, in requiring the whole of a definite length of time to be faithfully devotedto religious exercises and in making this command explicit and absolute.