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man for the Sabbath" Mark ii. 27. Man was made first, and then the Sabbath was instituted for him, or for his good. And hath God ceased to be as benevolent to man as he formerly was? The constitution of man is such that a day of rest from bodily labour, and employment is necessary to refresh and invigorate it. And if it were not for the wise intervention of this day, many covetous persons would soon, by continued labour, impair the vigour of their own constitution, and especially those of their servants. And we find, given as a reason for the observance of the Sabbath, Deut. v. 14, “ That thy man-servant, and thy maid-serrant may rest as well as thou.”— The same reason for its observance certainly still continues.
Further it is an undeniable fact, that by means of the Sabbath, virtue is promoted ; and virtue is of great importance to the well being of civil society. It is I believe a true observation, that virtue among a people, living under the light of revelation, has prevailed in proportion to the strict observance of the Sabbath ; and that on the contrary as the Sabbath has been neglected and violated, the corruption of morals among a people has increased. And has the Sabbath such an important influence on the morals of a people, and therefore on civil and social happiness, and must not the institution be of moral and perpetual obligation ?
But there are other and still more important effects which result to mankind from this benevolent institution. Man has an immortal soul. He was not made for this world alone; but he is destined to an eternal existence in a future world. His chief concern therefore lies with eternity. This being the case, it follows, that whatever is calculated to have a favourable influence on his everlasting felicity, is highly beneficial to him. Now that the Sabbath is of peculiar use to prepare man for the future world, there can be no reasonable doubt. By means of the Sabbath the knowledge and the fear of God are signally promoted among men. Many in the lower classes of society can command little or no time, but the Sabbath, to gain religious knowledge, and without this day would in all probability live in ignorance of God and religion and consequently lose eternal happiness ; and many
in the higher circles, who have time would not take it, were
it not for the salutary restraints of the Sabbath. We who respect and observe the Sabbath, know from experience that the business and amusements of the world, frequently, in the short period of a single week, cause us almost to lose the impressions which the exercises of the Sabbath may have made upon our minds. What then would be the case if we had no Sabbath ? We have every reason to believe, we should have no religion among us; and if the Sabbath were forgotten on the earth, we have every reason to believe religion would be unknown. Further the exercises of this day have been and still are accompanied with the peculiar blessing of God to multitudes of individuals. That the preceding remarks on the utility of the Sabbath are correct, I contidently appeal to the judgment of every enlightened, reflecting, and candid person in this assembly. And if correct, they form a convincing proof of the morality of the Sabbath, and the perpetuity of the obligation to observe it. For the Sabbath is as useful now and necessary as it ever was
And God is certainly as benevolent as he formerly was. Besides as he forbids will-worship, or religious institutions which he has not commanded, we cannot suppose that he would bless the Sabbath, if the institution were now abolished. But unquestionably, he does in an eminent manner, bless the observance of this day.
From all these considerations we conclude that the Sabbath was not done away by the coming of Christ ; but that the institution is still in force, and the obligation to observe it is still binding.
The only objection to the perpetuity of the Sabbath under the christian dispensation, which appears worthy to be noticed here is, one drawn from Col. ii. 16, 17.“ 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.” The answer which may be given to this objection is, that by the Sabbath days here spoken of, we are to understand, not the weekly Sabbath ; but the Jewish festivals which are often called Sabbaths. And that the Apostle did not mean the weekly Sabbath appears from his own practice and that of the churches in his day, observing a weekly Sabbath. Or if he meant the weekly Sabbath, we may explain it of the seventh day Sabbath, which as we shall presently see was abolished, at the resurrection of Christ, and the first day Sabbath substituted in its place.
We proceed as was proposed,
III. To show that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week.
The true doctrine on this point, we have stated in the answer to the 59th question of our Shorter Catechism.
“ Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath ?
From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath ; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the christian Sabbath."
That at the resurrection of Christ, the first day of the week became the Sabbath, and is to be observed as such by christians, may be proved by the following considerations.
We find the primitive disciples, frequently assembled together for religious worship on the first day of the week. We read, John xx. 19. that after the resurrection of Christ and before his ascension, Jesus appeared to his disciples on this day. “ Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them peace be unto you.” We read again John xx. 26. 66 And after eight days,” that is according to the Jewish manner of speaking, on the eighth day, including both first days, that is, on the next first day, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, peace be unto you.” Here we find the disciples immediately after the resurrection of Christ, twice assembled together on the first day of the week; and we find their Lord particularly selecting this day to appear to them, and speak peace to them, and thus approving of their meeting together on this day.
After the ascension of Christ, we find the disciples assembled together on the day of Pentecost, which was the first day of the week. On this day he sent down the Holy Ghost upon them, and thus again put a peculiar hon our on the first day,
Again Acts xx. 7. we read,“ upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them ready to depart on the morrow.”
From this text it appears, that the first day of the week was the usual time of meeting together for religious worship, and the celebration of the Lord's Supper. And it is worthy of notice as a further confirmation of this, that Paul had spent at this place seven days, and the day before was the Jewish Sabbath ; but we hear of no meeting or preaching on that day.
Again Paul wrote to the Corinthians, 1. Cor. xvi. 1, 2. “ Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." Here a collection for the poor saints was recommended to be made on every first day of the week. But why on this day, rather than any other, unless it was that the church was then statedly assembled together for religious worship on the christian Sabbath?
From the preceding texts we learn that it was customary for the Apostles and primitive disciples statedly to meet together for religious worship on the first day of the week, and that Christ signally honoured that day, which affords at least a strong presumptive argument, of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week.
Again Rev. i. 10. the first day of the week is called the Lord's day. “I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day." By the Lord's day is evidently meant the first day of the week, so called because Christ the Lord on this day arose from the dead. This is confirmed by the circumstance that the primitive church called the first day of the week the Lord's day. From this text we learn that Christ lays a peculiar claim to the first day of the week as his; which proves that it is to be observed as holy time, and therefore is the christian Sabbath.
..In addition to the foregoing proofs drawn from Scripture, we may observe that the first day of the week was kept by the christian church from the earliest times. Ignatius who lived in the beginning of the second century advised every one who loved Christ to celebrate the Lord's
day, which was consecrated to his resurrection; and he calls it the queen and chief of all days. Justin Martyr, who lived in the middle of the second century, hath this sentence in his writings, “ on the day which the Heathen call Sunday, all who live in cities or villages meet together in the same place, where the writings of the Apostles and prophets are read," and in the third century we have frequent proof that the christians were distinguished by the character of observers of the Lord's day. The history of the church in the earliest ages of christianity prove that the first day of the week was then observed as The christian Sabbath, which affords an argument that this was the apostolic practice.
Another argument may be drawn from this consideration that God in his providence has owned the first day of the week as the Sabbath, by peculiarly making it a blessing to thousands in their conversion, and comfort.In addition to all this there seems a great propriety in a change. For the Sabbath was instituted on the seventh day, in commemoration of the completion of the work of creation; but the work of redemption, which was finished on the first day, when Christ arose from the dead, was a still greater work. Besides by observing the first day of the week we commemorate both the great works of creation and redemption-of creation, by keeping one day in seven, and of redemption, by observing the first day of the week.
We proceed to make a few observations on the
IV. Point proposed, viz. when does the Sabbath begin? On this question I shall say but little. Christians differ. We begin the Sabbath with the beginning of the civil day, or at midnight. A large and pious portion of the church in our own country begin it in the evening. The reason they give for this is, that the Jews began the Sabbath in the evening by divine direction. Thus . we read, Lev. xxii. 32. “ from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.” But to this it is answered, that this law respected a ceremonial Sabbath, or the great day of atonement, which is here called a Sabbath. And although it is probable that the Jewish weekly Sabbath did begin in the evening, yet it is not entirely certain. The following passage has been quoted to prove that it did not, Mat. xxviii. 1. “ In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn