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OF DAYS AND TIMES.
The Society of Friends believe, that the "holy days," "the new moons," and "sabbath-days," observed under the Law, were "shadows of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Col. ii. 16, 17. And as shadows, they ceased with the shadowy Dispensation, of which they formed a part.
The apostle, speaking of Christ, and the blessed operations of his Power under the Gospel Dispensation, brings into view the abrogation of the types and shadows of the Law, by the coming of the spiritual realities to which they pointed, in the following striking language; "Blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. 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." "Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world,. are ye subject to ordinances, (touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?" Col. ii. 14-17, 20. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek
those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” iii. 1.
An improper veneration of days, and other shadows of the Legal Dispensation, appears to have been a snare, into which professing Christians were very early betrayed. Indeed, where there is a large proportion of zeal, there is peculiar danger of its being directed to wrong objects. Not only did the Colossians give cause to the apostle to check their superstitious observance of days and times, but the Galatians appear to have been not less entangled in these things than the Colossians. The great and dangerous error, into which they had been led by the observance of these things, was an apprehension that they were justified by the works of the Law; and this remains to be the danger to the present day. There were various stages, before the observance of days assumed this dangerous character. There were those among the Romans who esteemed "one day above another," and others esteemed "every day alike:" "He `that regardeth the day, regardeth it to the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it." Rom. xiv. 5, 6. In these cases, on account of the religious sincerity with which each was actuated, and the limits to which the observances were confined, the apostle did not censure either. But with the Galatians, and some other churches, the case was different; and the apostle was brought strongly to reprehend their defection from the spirituality of the New Dispensation. “O foolish Galatians!" was his language, "who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the Truth?...... Received ye the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of Faith? Are ye so foolish? haying
begun in the Spirit, are ye made perfect by the flesh ?" after that ye have known
Gal. iii. 1-3. "But now,
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 labour in vain." iv. 9, 11.
Thus it appears, that even in the days of the apostles, there were those among professing Christians, whose veneration for days and times had diverted their attention from the true objects they were originally set apart to typify. And thus, by a zealous observance of types, after their office had ceased, they were entangling themselves with the yoke of bondage, and endangering their total ruin as to the life of Christianity.
The state to which the outward sabbath pointed, was so different from that in which the Galatians rested in its observance, that the solicitude of the apostle was very powerfully excited on the occasion. It pointed to a state, in which the activity of the creature was brought into quiet; a state, in which the soul, after accomplishing that portion of labour assigned it, comes to know a ceasing from its "own works, as God did from his." This exposition is clearly given by the apostle, to the Hebrews, in the 3rd and 4th chapters. To the Hebrews this exposition was peculiarly proper, because to them the outward sabbath had been given: and when the antitype had come, or that Dispensation in which it was to be more particularly experienced, it was the Divine will that its mystical application should be explained "There is then," said the apostle, "a rest to the people of God." And again; "He that is entered into
his rest, hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his." Heb. iv. 9, 10. And he admonishes the He brew believers to enter into that rest. Leaving those things that were behind, among which was this shadow of good things to come, they were to enter into that pure and spiritual rest, which was the very thing to which the outward figure pointed. And to go back to an observance of the outward form, seemed to be an indication that the reality had not come; and very naturally tended to cause it to be lost sight of. Thus, as a Jewish rite, its obligation ceased, and its observance became dangerous. According to the reasoning of the apostle, to insist on the observance of one particular of the cere monial law, is to become a debtor to the whole Law, and of course virtually to deny the coming of Christ; for as these figures pointed to Him and his Spiritual Dispensation, and were to continue only till his coming, to insist on their continuance is to deny that He had
And as it is evident that the Sabbath was a shadow of something to come, for the apostle expressly declares it was, the reasoning which he applies to other shadows will apply to that also.
4 I know that the observance of the Sabbath is considered, by some, to be a part of the Moral Law; and of course to be of perpetual obligation. But the apostle, both to the Galatians and to the Hebrews, gives it another character; for he clearly makes it a shadow, and of course to cease when other shadows ceased. Heb. iv. 4, 9-11.
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moons,
or of the Sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Col. ii. 16, 17. This single passage alone is sufficient to establish the position, that the particulars enumerated were parts of the cere monial Law, and not of perpetual obligation.
All that has been said on this subject, is intended to apply to the Jewish Sabbath, or an observance of a portion of the ancient ceremonial Law, on principles not warranted under the Gospel Dispensation.
: And here the Society of Friends have always stopped. As a Society, we have never objected to a day of rest of relaxation from the business and cares of life, for the purpose of religious improvement. We know that the spirit of the world is apt to acquire an undue ascendency over our affections; and were the ordinary business of life to engage our attention, in an uninterrupted train of occupation, the consequences would be extremely prejudicial to religious improvement and enjoyment. And as the mind requires abstraction, so the body requires relaxation: we require it for ourselves→→ we should observe it for those who have to perform the menial and laborious services for us; it is due also to the brute creation under our control. A day of rest, when, by common consent, the business of the world is suspended, is peculiarly favourable to the important object of social worship-without which, religious society would lack one of those connecting bonds, by which it is held together.
For these, and other reasons which might be assigned, we freely concur in setting apart the first day of the week, as a day of rest and relaxation, to be devoted to public worship and religious improvement; without a