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holy time from the seventh to the first day of the week ; the day, on which the great " captain of our salvation” rose from the dead. For this change the apostle to the Hebrews assigns a reason, similar, both in import and expression, to that on which its first institution was grounded. “There remaineth therefore, »s says he, a rest,” in the original, a sabbath, « for the people of God. For he, that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own work, as God did from his." The christian church has accordingly observed this new era from the beginning. On the very day of the resurrection, the disciples were assembled together to worship : On the next « first day of the week,” they met again for the same purpose : And on the day of pentecost, which being fifty days after the passover, .was also the first day of the week, they were all with one accord in one place ;" when “ they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance ;” and when “ about three thousand souls were added unto them” by the sermon of Peter: After this the same custom seems to have prevailed among the gentile converts. At Troas “ up. on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” That the same day was observ. ed in the Corinthian church, appears from the directions of the apostle relative to a collection for the poor," on the first day of the week.”! When St. John wrote the book of Revelations, it had generally obtained the name of “the Lord's day ;” and by this name it has been known and distinguished in all succeed. ing ages. *
This alteration of time, instead of weak. ening the moral reasons which before existed for a sabbath, not only leaves them in their full strength, but adds a new and weighty motive to its religious observance. Beside the works of creation and providence, that astonishing dispensation of grace in Jesus Christ, by which “ life and immortality are brought to light,” is presented to our minds. The sabbath has now become a kind of anticipation and pledge of the uninterrupted rest, peace, and joy in reversion for the faithful. While it reminds us of the gratitude and allegiance, which we owe to him who “ was delivered for our offences, and arose also for our justifi.
* See two sermons on the sabbath, by the late Dr. Belka pap, p. 15, 16.
cation," it guides our thoughts to those “mansions of his Father's house, which he has gone before to prepare ;" where “ all that love his appearing,” free from the toils and distresses of this sinful state, shall dwell forever at his right hand. It therefore suggests the strongest arguments to “ lay up in store for ourselves a good foundation against the time to come ;! and “ labour not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” . But for this benevolent institution, the advantages of the christian revelation had been sensibly diminished. Most men are so deeply immersed in business or pleasure, that they would seldom spend a thought upon their God and Saviour ; seldom recollect their dependence and obligations, were they not brought to a pause by the periodical recurrence of the sabbath. This leads many, who would otherwise continue to a walk in the way of their heart, and in the sight of their eyes,” to consider the nature and circumstances of their being, and “ live henceforth not unto them selves, but unto him who died for them and rose again.” . . .
The sabbath has been sometimes conceived and represented as a mere positive ordi
nance, binding indeed on the Jews, but of little consequence to the rest of mankind. This delusion is fully exposed and refuted in the preceding observations. In them it appears, 1. Not as a positive, but as a moral duty. : By a moral duty we mean “ that which is in itself rational, and fit to be done, though there were no express command to enjoin it : By a positive duty, that which is observed only be. cause it is commanded, and has no intrinsick goodness to recommend it. The former are commanded because good, the latter are good because commanded. Certain it is, that a convenient portion of our time is due to the service and worship of God by natural right. And could we ourselves, had it been left to us, have set apart less time than God hath done? The law of nature does not, indeed, dictate to us any particular day, one more than another ;” and this is the only point, in which the precept can be esteemed positive. “We are evidently as much bound to keep a sabbath as the Jews were, though not to the exact circumstances of the day. The equity is the same to us, as it was to them, that we should allow one day in seven to the worship of that God, who so liberally allows us six for our
ordinary affairs. The ease and refreshment of our bodies from the labours of our calling is now as necessary as it was then ; and we are still as much obliged with thankfulness to remember and meditate upon the great mercy of our creation,” and preservation, “ as they were."* The wonders of redeeming love, which even “ the angels desire to look into,” and which “ many prophets and righteous men desired to see, and saw not,” are, to us, an additional inducement and obligation. These alone might be sufficient to attach our hearts to the consecrated hours ; and excite us to welcome their arrival in the rapturous strains of inspiration, “ This is the day which the Lord hath made ; we will be glad and rejoice in it.” :
2. It hence becomes a question of interesting moment to all, In what manner is the sabbath to be sanctified ?
In answer to this question, we shall not contend for that rigorous and absolute rest, which was imposed upon the children of Israel in the wilderness, where they were forbidden even to “ kindle a fire in their habitations.” To this they themselves appear to
* See Bishop Burnet's sermon on the fourth commande