Imágenes de páginas

The fact of the change of the sabbath from the sev enth, to the first day, as having taken place under the authority of God, is admitted by the whole Christian Church, a few individuals excepted. The universal, undisputed practice of the Church in the earliest and purest times of it, and as ordered by the Apostles themselves, is conclusive evidence, both of the perpetuity of the sabbath, and of this circumstantial change respecting it. "All Christians" says Dr. Mosheim, "were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Savior arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship. This pious custom, which was derived from the example of the Church of Jerusalem, was founded upon the express appointment of the Apostles, who consecrated that day to the same sacred purpose, and was observed universally throughout all the Christian Churches, as appears from the united testimonies of the most credible writers."

This change was evidently necessary, to mark the accomplishment of the typical system, respecting Christ; as a public standing testimony, that he was come, and was risen from the dead; that the promises were accomplished in the purification of Israel and the accession of the Gentiles; and that these were the last times; especially, and signally, the accepted times, and the day of salvation.

As the sabbath, and not the less evidently on account of this modification, is perpetuated, in the essential nature of it, as a holy rest, an ordinance forever, a sign of the covenant, a public standing token that God is in the midst of the Church, to sanctify it, a pledge of his love, commemorative of the accomplishment of the great work of our redemption, and a type of heaven, it ought to be received, and observed conscientiously by all Christians, as a most precious blessing of the covenant. All labor ought to be suspended during the complete day, according to the original requirement. No work ought to be done upon it, but such as is of absolute necessity, and the dictate of mercy. The day

ought to be spent in those devotional employments, public and private, which, instead of being a labor and burden to the children of God, are their refreshment, strength, and joy.

Those who trample upon the sabbath are to be understood as trampling upon all that it exhibits; upon the covenant of God; upon its provisions and promises; upon the whole work of redemption; upon the interests of virtue; and as despising the pleasant land.

The passover is another ordinance which was appointed to Israel prior to the introduction of the Sinai covenant. It was instituted before their departure from Egypt, and as a standing memorial of their deliverance from the destruction, which cut down all the first born of Egypt. See the 12th ch. of Exodus. The reason given for its institution, is in these words: "For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and I will smite all the first born of the land of Egypt, both man and beast, against all the Gods of Egypt will I execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you a token, upon the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." Then it is added, "And this shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord, throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast, by an ordinance for. ever." This exemption of the first born of Israel was an expression of special covenant favor, and stood in close connexion with their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, which was another signal expression of the same thing. Both the events are blended in the design of the institution.

The blood of the lamb sacrificed at the passover, sprinkled upon the door posts of the houses of Israel, was typical of the blood of Christ; through the expiatory efficacy of which, the elect are saved. For it is said, I Cor. v. 7. "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." And in I Peter i. 18, 19. "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with

Corruptible things; as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot." The passover was then, not only retrospective, as commemorative of the great events which took place in favor of Israel, when they were brought out of the house of bondage; but pro spective, as it prefigured a far greater deliverance to be wrought for the whole Church in the personal sacrifice, resurrrection, and conquests, of Christ her king. The expressions respecting the perpetuity of this ordinance, are the same, with those which are used, respecting the sabbath; and if they are to be taken in the same sense, then it is to be understood, that in the substance, in the spirit, and true import of it, it is perpetuated in another form, that of the Lord's supper. So that the supper may not be improperly styled the Christian passover. The deliverance, which the Savior wrought in his death, and resurrection, was so much superior, the consummation of that, which was initial and emblematical, that it seemed to be necessary; at least divine wisdom saw it proper, that this ordinance, as to the form of it, should be changed for one simply retrospective.

That the design of the passover, in a typical view, was answered in the death of Christ, is evident from his own words, Luke xxii. 15, 16. "And he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you, before I suffer. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God." The passover, was then to be fulfilled, in the kingdom of God. The Apostle's calling Christ our passover; and the scripture account, generally, of the design of his sufferings, and the efficacy of his blood, determine, that it was fulfilled in his death. By his death he wrought the deliverance of his whole Church, and triumphed over all his enemies. Col. ii. 15. "And having spoiled principalities, and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it," It became then entirely improper that the Passover,

[ocr errors]

in the original form of it, should be continued. To have preserved the type, would have implied that the antitype was not come. It would have been a negative upon the whole gospel testimony. And it is an incontestible fact, which nobody disputes, the universal practice of the primitive church concurring to prove it, that the passover, in its original form, was abolished. Still the essence, the commemorative language of it, was preserved and transmitted, and will be continued to the end of the world, in the supper. This was instituted immediately after the Saviour made the declaration above quoted. The supper, like the passover, is a memorial, and is a matter of law : "Do this in remembrance of me." It commemorates and manifests the same almighty deliverer, whom the passover commemorated; and virtually, that first great deliverance, and not that only, but all the great deliverances he has wrought; his great salvation in the whole extent of it. It manifests the same covenant, and is a far clearer, and more affecting exhibition, of the blessings it contains. For our Lord says, Luke xxii. 20. "This cup is the new testament in my blood." i. e. a public token of the New Testament, as the passover was. In the participation of it Christians eat of the flesh, and drink of the blood of Christ, as the true paschal lamb.

Circumcision was another standing ordinance appointed to Israel, before the Sinai covenant was pub lished. In proof of this, enough has been said already. That it was continued to the coming of Christ nobody disputes. We have therefore, but two questions before us here; first, whether circumcision, as outward in the flesh, was abolished; and secondly, whether the essence, or symbolic language of it, as a token of the covenant, is perpetuated in baptism, as its substitute. Circumcision is declared expressly to be a token of the covenant. It is a distinct token from the other two. If it was abolished; if baptism was instituted upon the abolition of it; and is the third token of the covenant, distinct from the Lord's day, and the supper; to be administered, like that, once only,

and at a particular time, i. e. soon upon the visible initiation of the subject into the covenant; and is expressive precisely of the same things; why then, the token is continued, though the form of it is changed. In other words, baptism is circumcision, in the moral import of it, continued.


[ocr errors]

That circumcision was abolished at the introduction of the Gospel dispensation, is evident, from the fact, that the believing Jews gradually passed into the disuse of it; from the necessity of its discontinuance, as it held forth a typical language, which was fulfilled in Christ's death; and as it was a thing calculated to keep up an undesirable distinction between believers of the circumcision, and believers of the uncircumcision, which, for the more perfect union of the Church, was to be done away; from the undisputed practice of the whole of the primitive Church; and especially, from the decree of the mother Church in Jerusalem, which was ordained under the presidency of the apostles; and, as is expressly said, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Certain brethren went down from Jerusalem to Antioch, and taught the new Gentile converts, in that city, that they must be circumcised, or they could not be saved. This immediately originated the question, Is circumcision obligatory upon the Gentile converts? A solemn mission was sent to the Church in Jerusalem, to ascertain this matter. The Church assembled, deliberated, and finally resulted in this manner. Acts xv. 24, and on. "Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us, have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, ye must be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment : It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you, with our beloved Barnabas, and Paul; men that have hazarded their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore, Judas, and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these neces

« AnteriorContinuar »