Imágenes de páginas

are bound to observe ;) therefore God, considering their infirmity and incapacity to comply with higher injunctions, did use (as in the cases of divorce, revenge, and the

like) an indulgence toward them, permitting them on the Ifa. lviii.13. other days to do their pleasure, as the Prophet speaks,

reserving only this day for a punctual and folemn performance of the duties specified : thus discourses that good ancient in his Dialogue with the Jew. However, that this law (as to its circumstantial parts) was not intended to oblige generally and perpetually, we have a most forcible ground to suppose; St. Paul himself, his express discharge ing Christians from the observation thereof; yea, his earnest reprehension of some persons for rigorously infisting thereon, deeming themselves, and urging it upon others, as a necessary duty to observe it; his conjoining it with other ceremonial observances, whose nature was merely symbolical, and whofe defign was to continue no

longer, than till the real substance of that which they Coloff. ii. represented came into full force and practice ; Let no 16, 17.

man, faith he to the Colossians, judge you for meat, or

drink, or upon account of a festival day, or new moon, or palletas, et Sabbath : which things are the shadow of future things; but

e both the body is of Christ; (that is, they did only prefigure and read; both presignify; the real substance intended and represented equivalent.

by them is somewhat in the law and doctrine of Chrift; which coming immediately to appear and to oblige, that shadow vanisheth, and ceaseth to have any regard due thereto :) .again more sharply to the Galatians, whom some Judaizing dogmatists had reduced, or were reducing

to the practice of legal rites, under conceit of needful Gal. iv. 10. obligation to them; How, faith he, do ye return again to

those weak and beggarly elements, to which back again you are pleased to be enslaved ? Ye observe days, and months, and years: which words, that they relate generally to the Jewish festivals, the context doth plainly enough shew, and there is good reason to think that they chiefly respect the Sabbath we treat on, for which probably these

men had the greatest respect and zeal : again in the 14th Rom. xiv. to the Romans, the same great patron and champion of

5, &c.

e ob



Christian liberty not obscurely declareth his mind, that Christians, of strength in judgment did regard no day above' another, but esteemed all days (he excepteth none) alike, as to any special obligation, grounded upon divine law and right; in subordination to which doctrine. we may add, that this appears with great evidence to have been the common opinion of the wisest and most orthodox Christians in the primitive church, the most constant and Interomnia

decem præstrict adherents to Catholic tradition, (who from the Apo- cepta folum Atles' instruction best understood the purport and limits ofibi quod de

Sabbato pothe liberty purchased by Christ,) that this law, as it was fitum eft finot known or practised before Moses, so it ceased to oblige rate

8° servandum after Christ; being one of the shadows which the evan- præcipitur. gelical light dispelled, one of the burdens which this law 112. Ep. of liberty did take off us.

Vid. Cit. Now although upon these accounts we cannot press the strict observation of this law in all its parts, according to its literal and direct intention, yet we may learn much of our duty, much of God's will from it: all God's laws, fpiritually and wisely understood, did tend to the promoting of piety and virtue; and, abstracting from the special circumstances of that people, to whom they were consigned, may (so far as our case is like theirs, and wherein a common reason doth appear) pass for fit patterns for us to imitate, suggesting proper means of exercising, nourishing, increasing those qualities in us; and so from this law we may learn these duties :

1. That we should frequently call to mind and consider the great and glorious works of God, performed for the general good of his creatures, and specially for mankind : the creation of the world; the redemption of mankind; the nativity, passion, resurrection, and exaltation of our Lord and Saviour, and the like, no less now considerable to us, both in respect of glory due to God, and of benefit accruing to us, than was the creation formerly to the Jews.

2. That we are bound to restrain ourselves in the prosecution of worldly business; not distracting our minds with care, not exhausting our bodies with toil about them;

but allowing our mind convenient and seasonable freedom, affording our soul sufficient leisure with vigour and alacrity to enjoy its nobler entertainments, and to pursue its higher interests.

3. That we are obliged to use the same indulgence toward those whom Divine Providence hath disposed to be under our power, care, or governance: to allow our children, our subjects, our servants, a competent measure of rest and refreshment from their ordinary labours, sufficient time and leisure undistractedly to serve God, and quietly to mind their spiritual welfare: we must fo charitably tender their good, as to permit and procure that their life may be easy and comfortable here; and that also they may have means to obtain for themselves a happy immortality hereafter; not being in these respects either harsh to their outward man, or uncharitable to their souls.

4. That we must not be unmerciful to any creature; not only abstaining from inflicting, in wantonness of humour, needless vexation upon them, but also from wearying and grieving them too much for our emolument or convenience: the advantage and preeminency bestowed upon us by God over them should be managed with moderation and clemency; we should be gentle masters to them, not cruel tyrants over them: we should consider that God did make them, as to help and serve us, so to enjoy somewhat themselves of delight and satisfaction in their being; which if we go to deprive them of, rendering their condition intolerable, and worse than if they had no being, as we do abuse and injure them, tranfgreffing the bounds of our right over them, so we encroach upon, disappoint, and wrong their Maker, and cannot therein but displease him: doing thus is a point of injustice not enough considered by them who commit it: they consider not how beastly they are themselves, when they misuse poor beasts.

5. We may hence farther learn, that it is fit certain times should be allotted for the public and folemin performance of the forenamed duties : common reason prompteth, that God (upon whose protection and disposal the

public good depends) should be publicly honoured, and his benefits frequently acknowledged; also that care should be taken in every society, that all states of men should lead their lives in some competent degree of content; that all objects of grievous pity should be removed from public view; also common sense will inform us, that these things cannot effectually be executed without constituting definite periods of time, and limiting circumstances, accord-, ing to which they shall be practised under public inspection and censure: and these dictates of ordinary prudence the divine Wisdom hath ratified by his exemplary order; the which, in cases wherein he hath not interposed his direct authority by way of precept, may serve for a good direction to governors, what they may with safety, what they should in wisdom, establish; what provision they should make for the promotion of piety and virtue: such a precedent requires greatest veneration and respect, cannot but appear of high moment in consultation about matters of this nature.

It is indeed particularly observable, that in this command there is not an express order concerning the natural or moral service of God (by prayer, or hearing God's Law) to be publicly performed on this day; but the Jews were themselves so wise, as to understand these duties couched in the sanctification of the day prescribed to them; and accordingly they practised; they in all places of their habitation did settle fynagogues and oratories; to them upon this day they resorted; in them then they did ofer devotions to God, (as the names προσευχαι, and προσEuxtúpose do import;) the Scribes did read the Law, and expound it to the people: Mofes, faith Josephus, did command the people to assemble for hearing of the Law, not once, or twice, or many times, but every seventh day, laying afide their works, and exactly to learn it m; whence, addeth he, the people became so skilful in the laws, that if

m ovx diré az åxpono a pívous, édi dis, i solaxis, ára' ixásns iedopádos tão έργων αφομένους, και την ακρόασιν τε νόμο εκίλινσι συλλέγεσθαι, και τέτον ακριβώς ixpaydávwy. Jofeph, adv. App. ii. p. 946.

one asked any of them concerning them, he would more eahly tell them all than his own namen; whence also an admirable concord in mind and uniformity in practice did, as he farther observes, arise : and, The custom, saith Philo, was always as occafion gave leave, especially upon the seventh days, to philofophateo, &c. In confideration of which

practice it was, that the Jews so highly valued this preMidrash. cept, that it was a saying among them, The Sabbath weigh. Exod. xxvi.

eth against all the Commandments; as procuring them all

to be known and observed. And if that blind people could pick these duties out of this Law, much more should we see ourselves obliged, according to the analogy thereof, to appoint set times for ensuring the practice of them..

6. Again ; we may hence also learn our obligation to submit obediently to the constitution of governors relating to this matter; that we readily should observe all solemn times of festivity and rest, which the rulers of Church or State do appoint for the securing or the promoting those purposes of piety or charity, according to the measure and manner prescribed by them: for reason approving the thing as good and useful, and divine order more clearly and fully confirming it to be so, and it not appearing that God hath made express determinations about it, it remains, that it is left wholly to them to whose care God hath entrusted the public welfare, and hath committed to their judgments the providing means conducible thereto; having also consequently enjoined us in all lawful things to follow their guidance and appointment in order thereto. God decreed death to be inflicted on those who violated his command concerning the Sabbath, which sheweth how great a fault it is to offend in this particular; and we may reasonably esteem that command to be his, which proceedeth from his ministers by authority from himself, and in conformity to his own pattern.

[ocr errors]

o "Elos gàę no, đèr pir xarà sò staçêxov, argonysuivos di Tais Cdépais, ideatPaiv, &c. Philo de Vit. Moj.

« AnteriorContinuar »