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IV. The moral and perpetual obligation of the Sabbath is further proved by those passages in the Prophets, in which its observance under the Gospel dispensation is set forth. There are allusions, unquestionably, to the Sabbath, and to its duties, in the following passages ; in which the inspired writers are to be understood as declaring the fact, that this institution should have a place in the kingdom of the Messiah. In the fifty-sixth chapter of Isaiah, at the sixth verse, we read : “ Also the sons of the strangers, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants; every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant, even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: for my house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.”
That this passage relates to gospel times is clear, from the tenour of its language, and, indeed, is universally admitted. Yet the Sabbath is spoken of as an institution sacredly observed by the strangers, or the Gentiles, who should be introduced into the church of Christ. If this be the word of Him who sees the end from the beginning, and whose counsel shall stand, and who shall do all his pleasure, it must be understood as predicting the observance of the Sabbath in all coming ages.
How remarkably has the prediction been fulfilled in the calling of the Gentiles,-in the exertion of that mighty power, and chiefly on the Christian Sabbath, by which the people have been made willing, ----and in the spiritual worship which has been presented on this holy day by the sons
of the stranger who have joined themselves to the Lord!
In Psalm cxviii. 19-26, we thus read. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord ; this gate of the Lord into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing, it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. Save, now, I beseech thee, O Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.” The testimony of infallible expositors assures us that this passage contains a prediction concerning the humiliation, the rejection, the glory, and kingdom of the Messiah. The expression, “ this is the day the Lord hath made,” can only signify, as, indeed, it has been universally understood as signifying, the day on which the Saviour rose, which his resurrection had consecrated as a holy Sabbath of spiritual duty and enjoyment to his disciples in all generations. It has been so observed by them; and the correspondence between the prediction and the fulfilment is not less striking in this than in the prophecy formerly quoted.
V. The moral and perpetual obligation of the Sabbath is further proved by the language of our Lord and his Apostles. I forbear quoting the passages in which our Lord is supposed to allude to the observance of the Christian Sabbath. Nor shall I here adduce the evidence which proves that the Disciples held sacred the first day of the week as a Sabbath to the Lord. The allusion of the Apostle John to this day is decisive on this subject. “ I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day;"--the name by which the primitive Church designated the Christian Sabbath.
Thus have I proved that the Sabbath is of moral and perpetual obligation ; and consequently that the neglect or violation of it, in regard to the purposes for which it has been instituted, is a breach of the most important moral duty.
THE CHANGE OF THE SABBATH FROM THE LAST TO THE
FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK.
If the Sabbath be of perpetual obligation, how has it come to pass that the day has been changed from the last to the first day of the week ?
In replying to this question, we must bear in mind, what has already been remarked, namely, that it is that which constitutes the Sabbath, and not the day on which it is held, that is of moral and perpetual obligation. It was the Sabbath, and not the day, that God blessed and sanctified. The day might have been any one in the week, as well as the seventh, had it pleased God to appoint it. There was indeed a propriety in selecting the last day of the week, because it was the first which shone upon the world after God hąd finished the work of creation. Yet it is evident, that God might at a subsequent
period dissociate the Sabbath from this day, should circumstances arise to render it expedient ; and that the institution might be applied to purposes additional to those which appear to have been announced in its original appointment. Such a change implied no alteration in the Sabbath as a moral precept or institute; the change only respected that which altogether depended on the will of the legislator, the day on which this unalterable ordinance was to be observed. The institution, without being abrogated, might surely be made to commemorate another of the wonderful works of God, in addition to the original creation.
The Sabbath for the best reasons has been transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week. This transference took place in consideration of its being the day on which the Saviour rose from the dead ;-on which it was proved that he had finished that glorious work, in comparison of the greatness of which the former creation should not be mentioned, nor come into mind. To commemorate this work of redeeming love and mercy, to which creation and providence were to be made subservient, it was meet that the Sabbath should become a perpetual memorial of it. This work, or as it is sometimes styled, “ The New Creation,” is held up by Prophets and Apostles, and by God himself, to the view of the universe, as affording the richest discovery of his glory, and as a ground of eternal rejoicing to all holy beings. Sing, O heavens ; for the Lord hath done it: shout ye lower parts of the earth ; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel * "
If it was expedient that the Sabbath should commemorate the deliverance from Egypt, is it not meet that it should now be a memorial of that great redemption from sin and death, in which all mankind are alike interested? If, for the glory of the Divine Redeemer, all things were made, all things are ordered, is it not fit that to the commemoration of his love and power should be dedicated the weekly Sabbath ; and that thus, the views of his disciples should be supremely directed to him, whom all are commanded to honour, even as they honour the Father? He who is adored and worshipped as Redeemer, is the same person who is adored and worshipped as Creator. The great fact is still commemorated in the observance of the Sabbath, “That in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.”
That the Sabbath has thus been changed by divine authority from the last to the first day of the week, we learn from the recorded practice of the Apostles and first christians. Immediately after the resurrection of our Lord, while they were assembled, and the doors of the house were shut for fear of the Jews, Jesus came, and stood in the midst of them, and said, “ Peace be unto you." On the first day of the following week, he appeared among them in like manner, and saluted them in similar terms. It was on the first day of the week also that the disciples were assembled with one accord in one place at the feast of
* Isaiah xliv. 23.