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ceding discourse, are the decisive law of interpretation to the Christian Church. We are, therefore, warranted to conclude, that the Psalmist here declares not only the joy and gladness of the Christian Church in the resurrection of Christ, but in the day, on which he arose : for he says, This is the day, which the Lord hath made ; we will rejoice and be glad in it. This day he also declares to be a day of public worship; a day, on which the gates of righteousness were to be opened, and the Righteous, or the Church as a body, were to enter them, and on which the ministers of the Gospel were to bless them, (in the Jewish language, or language of the Temple service,) out of the house of the Lord; or in language, adapted to the Christian manner of worship, in the house of the Lord. The substance of this comment is beautifully given by Dr. Watts in the two following stanzas.
The work, O Lord, is thine, .
This day declares it all divine,
This is the glorious day,
Let us rejoice, and sing, and pray;
4. Christ has indicated, that the Seventh day should cease to be the Sabbath after his resurrection.
In Matthew ix. 14, we are informed, that the disciples of John came to him, and inquired of him why his disciples did not fast, as well as themselves, and the Pharisees. Christ replied, Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them 2 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. Christ was crucified, and buried, on Friday. At the close, then, of this day he was taken from the children of the bride-chamber; that is, from his disciples. Throughout Saturday he lay in the grave. On the first day of the week, the Christian Sabbath, he was restored to them again. This, then, became to them the proper season of fasting, according to his own declaration. But the Sabbath was a festival, from the beginning. Such it continues to be unto the end. That it was to be such to the Christian Church is amply proved by the passage, formerly quoted from Is. lvi. 6, 7, and from the express declarations, just now quoted from the 118th Psalm. Fasting on this day can, therefore, never accord with its original and universal design. But on the seventh day, the day during which he lay in the grave, as he informs us, it was proper, that they should fast. In this declaration it is indicated, not obscurely, that the seventh day would soon cease to be a season, fitted for the observance of the Sabbat'. It must be obvious to the least reflection, that this season of Christ's extreme humiliation is the most improper period conceivable for commemorating, with joy and gladness, the wonderful work of Redemption. Every thing, in this season, must appear to a Christian to demand humiliation and mourning, rather than exultation. During this period the enemies of Christ prevailed against him; and the Serpent, according to the first prophecy ever given concerning him to this world, bruised his heel. To rejoice on this day would be to lay hold on the time of our Saviour's greatest sufferings, and deepest humiliation, as the proper season for our greatest exultation. This, certainly, was not the conduct of the Apostles. They mourned in the most melancholy and distressing manner. Nor do they appear ever to have regarded the Seventh day, afterwards, as the holy, joyful rest of God. On the contrary, they tranferred this festival to another day. 5. The Apostles, by their example, have decisively taught us, that the day of Christ's Resurrection was to be the Christian Sabbath. On the first day of the week, the day of his resurrection, Christ Inet his disciples, assembled together. On the first day of the week following, he met them, again assembled together. On the first day of the week, at the feast called Pentecost, the Spirit descended in a miraculous and glorious manner upon the Apostles. On the first day of the week, the disciples assembled together customarily, to break bread, and to make charitable contributions for their suffering brethren. From the three first of these facts it is plain, that Christ thought fit to honour this day with peculiar tokens of his approbation. From the last, that
the Apostles thought themselves warranted to devote it to religious purposes.
I have already shown above, and sufficiently, that God has absolutely prohibited all men, under severe denunciations, and with terrible expressions of his anger, either to form Religious Institutions, or to substitute their own Institutions for his. It is clearly impossible, that the Apostles, who have taught us this very doctrine, should, under the influence of Inspiration, disobey him in this interesting particular by forming so remarkable a Religious Institution; abolishing that of God; and substituting their own in its place. Nothing is more evident to me, than that this example has all the weight, which can be attached to any precept whatever. This will especially appear, if we remember, that Peter with the eleven Apostles celebrated the first day of the week, and that Paul and his followers did the same. Paul received his Gospel immediately from Christ; and informs us in Galatians i. 2, that the Apostles at Jerusalem added nothing to him. For three years he never saw one of them ; and had not the remotest correspondence with them. All the doctrines therefore, which Paul acknowledged, he received directly from Christ; and was indebted for none of them to his companions in the Apostleship. Yet Peter and his followers observed the first day of the week as the religious day; and Paul and his followers observed the same. This is evident from his direction to the Churches at Galatia and Corinth to lay by them somewhat on the first day of the week, for the poor Saints at Jerusalem. The reason, why the first day of the week is pitched upon for this purpose, is obviously this; that they assembled customarily on the first day of the week for religious purposes. Accordingly, in Acts xx. 7, we are informed, that the disciples in Troms came together on the first day of the week, to break bread; and that Paul preached unto them, continuing his speech until midnight. But whence did these persons, thus separated, derive this agreement in their observance of the first day of the week 7 The only answer, which can be given to this question, is, From the Inspiration, which guided them both. Had they been uninspired; their agreement in a case of this nature, where they acted indeVol. IV. 4
pendently of each other, would have proved, that they derived
day, is an assembly of all, who live in the city or country; and the memoirs of the Apostles, and the writings of the Prophets,” that is, the Old and New Testament, “are read.” For this he assigns the reasons of the Christians; viz. “ that it was the day, on which the Creation of the world began, and on which Christ arose from the dead.” Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John himself, who lived in the second century, says, “ On the Lord's day every one of us, Christians, keeps the Sabbath; meditating in the law,” or Scriptures, “ and rejoicing in the works, of God.” Dyonysius, Bishop of Corinth, who lived in the time of Irenaeus, that is, in the second century, says in his letter to the Church at Rome, “ To-day we celebrate the Lord's day, when we read your Epistle to us.” Tertullian, who also lived in the second century, speaks of the Lord's day as a Christian Solemnity. Petavius declares, that “ but one Lord's day was observed in the earliest times of the Church.” It is indeed true, that in that miserable forgery, which professes itself to have been written by the Apostles, and is styled, The Apostolical Constitutions; but which was plainly the work of some impostor, living in the latter end of the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth, century, certainly not earlier, it is directed, that Christians should keep both the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord's day, as religious festivals; and that every Sabbath, but one, in the year, and every Lord's day, should be observed in this manner. It is also true, that, in the fifth century, both these days were kept in this manner by Christians generally, except the Churches of Rome, and Alexandria; who did not observe the Jewish Sabbath as a religious day. This appears by the testimony of both Socrates and Sozomen. Concerning this subject Petavius declares, that “the most holy fathers agreed, that the Apostles never ordained any thing of this nature.” He also remarks, that the council of Laodicea, which probably sat about the year 363, forbade in their 29th canon; that Christians should rest from labour on the Sabbath or Seventh day. For they say, “ Christians ought not to Judaize, nor to rest on the Sabbath,