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least, it was ordered to be observed, both in this fourth Commandment, and in other parts of the law, which direct more particularly the manner of keeping it.
The thing, most expressly enjoined the Jews, in each of these passages, is, resting from all manner of work; and 'not suffering their families, their cattle, or even the strangers that lived amongst them, to labour on that day. And the reason of this rest, given in the Commandment, as you have it in the book of Exodus, is, that "the Lord rested "on the seventh day" from his work of creation. Not that this, or any thing, could be a fatigue to him. For the Creator of the ends of the earth "fainteth not, neither is weary."3 But the expression means, that having then finished the formation of the world, he ceased from it; and required men also to cease from their labour every seventh day; in memory of that fundamental article of all religion, that the heavens and earth were made, and therefore are governed, by one infinitely wise, powerful, and good Being. And thus was the Sabbath, which word means the day of rest, "a sign," as the Scripture calls it, "between "God and the children of Israel;" a mark, to distinguish them from all worshippers of false deities.
But besides this principal reason for the repose of every seventh day, two others are mentioned in the law; that it might remind them of that deliverance from heavy bondage, which God had granted them; "remember that thou wast a ser"vant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord 66 brought thee out thence; therefore he com"manded thee to keep the Sabbath day;" and likewise that their servants and cattle might not be
(3) Isaiah xl. 28.
(4) Exod. xxxi. 13, 17. Ezek. xx. 12, 20. (5) Deut. v. 15.
worn out with incessant toil; "that thine ox and "thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, "and the stranger, may be refreshed."6 Such mercy, indeed, is little more than common prudence; but there are, in the world, multitudes of hardhearted wretches, who would pay small regard to that consideration, were they left to their own liberty.
Now, merely abstaining from common work on this day, in obedience to God's command, for such religious and moral ends as these, was, undoubtedly, sanctifying, or keeping it holy. But, then, we are not to suppose, that the leisure thus provided for men, was to be thrown away just as they pleased, instead of being usefully employed. God directed the Jews: "Thou shalt love the "Lord thy God with all thy soul, and with all thy might; and the words which I command "thee this day, shall be in thy heart; and thou "shalt teach them diligently unto thy children; "and shalt talk of them, when thou sittest in "thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou "risest up." Now, as he required them to attend so constantly to these duties, he could not but expect they should attend more especially to them on that day, when the great foundation of that duty, his creating the world, was appointed to be commemorated; and when they had nothing to take off their thoughts from what they owed to God, their Maker. There was a peculiar sacrifice appointed for that day; there is a peculiar psalm composed for it, the ninety-second; and these things are, surely, further intimations to us, that it must have been a time peculiarly intended for the offering up of prayers and thanksgivings to heaven.
(6) Exod. xxiii. 12.
(7) Deut. vi. 5, 6, 7.
Few, indeed, or none, of God's laws were well observed in the days of the Old Testament. But still as the Priests and Levites were dispersed through the Jewish nation, that they might teach the people religion, so we read, that in good times they did teach it accordingly; and when could this be but on the Sabbath day. We see it was the custom of religious persons, on that day, to resort to the Prophets that were in Israel; doubtless to hear the word of God from their mouths. We see public happiness promised on this condition, that men should "honour the Sabbath of "the Lord--not doing their own ways-not find. "ing their own pleasure-nor speaking their own "words."9 We see absolute ruin threatened for the profanation of it. We see a time foretold, when, "from one Sabbath to another, all flesh "should come to worship before the Lord." "2 And in consequence of this, when their captivity had taught the Jews a stricter regard to their duty, synagogues, and houses of prayer, were erected in every city; where the Maker of all things was publicly adored, and his law "read and preached every Sabbath day."3
Such was the state of things when our Saviour came into the world; whose religion being intended for all mankind equally, the deliverance from Egyptian bondage, in which the Jews alone were concerned, was mentioned no longer in the divine laws; but instead of the commemoration of this, was substituted that of the redemption of the world-from the dominion and punishment of sin; which our blessed Redeemer accomplished by his death, and proved himself to have accomplished by his resurrection. Accordingly, the first day of the week, being the day of his resur
(8) 2 Kings iv. 23. (9) Isa. lviii. 13, 14. (1) Jer. xvii 27. (2) Isa. lxvi. 23. (3) Acts xv. 21.
rection, was appointed, in thankful remembrance of it, for the time of public worship amongst Christians, and, therefore, is called by St. John, the Lord's day though, in common language, it be more usually called Sunday; as it was even before our Saviour's time, and may be, for a better reason, since, because on it Christ, the Sun of righteousness, arose. Accordingly, some of the earliest Fathers give it that name.
And, that no one may doubt the lawfulness of this change of the day, it plainly appears, from several passages of St. Paul, that we are not bound to observe the day of the Jewish sabbath; and it still more plainly appears, in the Scripture history of the Apostles, that they did observe and direct the observation of our present Christian Sabbath; as the whole Church hath constantly done since, from their times to this, though it doth not appear that they called it the Sabbath day for many hundreds of years. One day in seven being still kept, the memory of the creation is as well preserved, and the intent of this Commandment as fully answered, as before; and that one day in seven being chosen, on which our Saviour rose again, the memory of the redemption wrought by him, and called in Scripture "a new "creation," is, in the properest manner, as well as with the greatest reason, perpetuated along with the former.
The day, then, being thus fixed, which we ought to keep holy; it remains to consider how it ought to be kept. And,
1. It must be a day of rest, in order to commemorate God's resting; as the Scripture expresses it, "from all his works which he created and "made;" and to allow that ease and refreshment
(4) Rev. i. 10.
(5) 2 Cor. v. 17. Gal. vi. 15.
(6) Gen. ii. 3.
which, with so great humanity, the Commandment requires should be given, not only to servants, but to the very cattle. Besides, it cannot be a day of religion to mankind, without such vacation from the ordinary labours of life, as may give sufficient leisure to distinguish it by exercises of piety. But, then, as Christians are not under a dispensation so rigorous in outward observances, as that of Moses, they are not bound to so strict and scrupulous a rest as the Jews were. Though, indeed, the Jews themselves became, at last, much more scrupulous in this matter than they needed; and are, accordingly, reproved by our blessed Saviour; from whom we learn this general rule, that "the Sabbath was made for man-not "man for the Sabbath :"7 and, therefore, all works of great necessity, or great goodness and mercy, if they cannot be deferred to another time, be they ever so laborious, may, very allowably, be done then. Only so far as the public wisdom of the laws of the land hath restrained us, we ought certainly to restrain ourselves, even from such things as, in our private opinion, we might otherwise think innocent. As to matters of less labour, what propriety, and decency, and reasonable convenience require, we surely need not omit. And what the practice of the more religious and considerate part of those amongst whom we live, allows, hath, without question, no small title to our favourable opinion. But the liberties taken by thoughtless, or profane persons, are not of any authority in the least. And the safest general rule to go by, is, to omit whatever may be sinful, and is needless; and neither to require, nor suffer, those who belong to us, to do, on that day, what we apprehend is unlawful to do ourselves.
2. A reasonable part of our day of holy rest,
(7) Mark ii. 27.