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The Sabbath is a memorial of what the Creator did during the first week of time. He wrought six days. He rested on the seventh day. Here is the origin of the week. The weekly cycle is not derived from anything in nature. Months are suggested by the phases of the moon, years by the returning seasons; but the week can be traced only to the six days of creation, and the seventh of rest. The patriarchs reckoned time by weeks, and sevens of days. Gen. xxix, 27, 28; viii, 10, 12.
The Sabbath was instituted in Eden, at the close of the first week, by three acts on the part of the Creator. First, God rested on the seventh day. Second, he placed his blessing upon the day. Third, he sanctified the day of his rest. He rested on the seventh day, and in this set man. He next blessed the day had rested. He then sanctified, or sacred use," the day of his rest. He gave the first six days of the week to man, in which to obtain a livelihood, and reserved the seventh day to himself, to be used sacredly by man.
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The great God was not wearied with the six days of creation. His rest upon the seventh day means simply that on that day he ceased to create. Nor did man in Eden need rest from toil, as since the fall. In fact, rest from labor is not a leading feature of the Sabbatic institution. The fourth commandment makes no reference to man's physical wants of a day of rest. Neither does it speak of his spiritual necessities of a day of public worship.
It gives quite another reason for the Sabbath. Here it is: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." Ex. xx, 11. This reason relates to what God did in the first week of time. He has given no other. It is as old as the world, and will continue to be the reason why man should revere Jehovah's rest-day as long as the world shall continue. Man rests upon the day of the Sabbath in honor of the Creator. And wherever he may turn his eye, whether to the heavens, the earth, or the sea, there he beholds the Creator's work. As he rests upon the seventh day, he sees in the countless varieties of nature the wisdom and power of him who created all in six days, and thus is led from nature up to nature's God. The Sabbath now becomes the cord that binds created man to the infinite Creator. It is the golden chain that links earth to Heaven, and man to God. Had he always observed the Sabbath, there could not have been an idolater nor an atheist. The Sabbath, as a memorial of what the Creator did during the first week of time, is now seen in its dignity and importance. It is the memorial of the living God. Man is to rest on the day of the week on which the Creator ceased to create.
But those who belittle the grand Sabbatic institution to only serve man's physical wants of a day of rest, and to provide for him a day of public worship, and see no higher design in it, are satisfied with a change of the day of the Sabbath. They think that a day on which the Creator did not rest, will do quite as well as the day on which he did rest. With this limited view of the subject, why may they not be content with the
change? If a day of rest from toil, and a day for the public worship of God, are all the blessings secured to man by the Sabbath, the one-day-in-seven and no-dayin-particular theory looks quite plausible. For, certainly, man can rest his weary limbs, or weary brain, on one day of the week as well as on another. And if only a season of divine worship is to be secured, Sunday may answer for this purpose. In fact, one day in six might do as well for rest and worship as one day in seven, if rest and a day of public worship are the sum total of the reasons for the Sabbath. There is nothing in man's physical or spiritual wants to mark the number seven. The original design of the Sabbath was for a perpetual memorial of the Creator. Yet it secures the seventh day of the week to man in his fallen condition, not only as a day of rest, but a day for public worship, in which to draw nigh to God and share his pardoning love. But these blessings, of comparative importance, can be obtained on either of the other six days of the week, and do not constitute the grand reason for the Sabbatic institution. That reason given in the law of the Sabbath is, in its importance, as much above the simple idea of repose from weary toil, and a day for public worship, as the heavens are higher than the earth. With this agree the words of the prophet: "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord." Isa. lviii, 13, 14.
Here the great object of the Sabbath is set forth. It is to honor God. Man is required to turn away his feet from the Sabbath, and refrain from seeking his
own ways, words, and pleasure, on that day, not because he needs a day of rest, but because by so doing he can honor the great God. Those who keep the Sabbath with this object in view, will call it a delight, the holy of the Lord, and honorable.
The fourth commandment points back to what God did during the first week of time. The creation and rest occupied the first week. Immediately following, Jehovah sanctified and blessed the day on which he had rested. In this way the seventh day became the holy Sabbath of the Lord for Adam and his posterity. It was ever to be observed by the race as the memorial of the living God.
Those who locate the institution of the Sabbath at Sinai, urge that no mention is made of Sabbath-keeping in the brief record of the book of Genesis, as proof that the Sabbath was made for the Jews alone. As evidence of the unsoundness of this position, please notice the following facts:
1. The sacred record nowhere intimates that the Sabbath was instituted at Sinai, while it distinctly locates its institution at creation.
2. The Sabbath being made for man, Mark ii, 27, as a memorial of creation, there are no reasons why the Jews alone should enjoy its blessings. All men have need of it as much as they.
3. The facts connected with the giving of the manna show that the Israelites understood the obligations of the Sabbath, that some of the people violated these sacred obligations, and were reproved by Jehovah, thirty days before they saw Mount Sinai. See Ex. xvi-xix. They came to the wilderness of Sin, where the manna was first given, on the fifteenth day of their second month. On the sixth day they gathered a
double portion of the manna, sufficient for that day and for the Sabbath which followed. Moses said to the people, "This is that which the Lord hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord." On the seventh day, Moses said, "Eat that to-day; for to-day is a Sabbath unto the Lord. To-day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath."
Here we see that the Sabbath was understood, and its violation was rebuked by Jehovah. But the Israelites had not yet seen Sinai. Indeed they did not come to the mount from which the ten commandments were proclaimed, until thirty days from the time the manna was first given. See chap. xix. Here is a nail driven in a sure place, and ministers and men should cease to assert that the Sabbath was first given at Sinai, till they have searched the sacred narrative with greater care.
The original plan of the Sabbath contemplated its perpetual observance as long as God, the creator, and created man should exist. It does not point forward to redemption. It was instituted before provisions were made for redemption. It looks back to creation. It was made for man before the fall; but, in consequence of the fall, it is of tenfold more importance to him throughout the entire period of his fallen condition. And it will exist during man's future life upon the new earth, in all its original significance and glory. We have seen the Sabbath based upon the great facts of