« AnteriorContinuar »
God to the Israelites, that they should “remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.” But in what company do we find it? Not among the ceremonial, but the moral laws. We find it joined with the command to serve and worship the one true God; not to profane his name: to honour parents : to do no murder; not to steal, or bear false witness. And these commandments are not binding on the Jews alone; they are binding upon all, who have the means of knowing, through the Scripture, the will of God. Would these have been set aside by the gospel, if no passage in the New Testament had happened to enforce them? These were among the laws, of which Jesus so plainly said,
" Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
If, indeed, we had found the appointment of the sabbath among those other institutions of Moses, which were intended, partly to separate his people from other nations, and partly to prepare the way for the religion of Christ; then there might be reason for supposing that this command had lost its force, when, in the fulness of time, Christ came and drew men towards God, by a better law than that of types and ceremonies. Like the national festivals, it would have fallen to the ground, when the Jews were no longer a chosen nation. Like the daily sacrifice offered for sin, it would cease when the one great sacrifice had been made. Like the ordinance of the passover, when Christ, our passover, has been sacrificed for us, we should no longer keep that feast. “ When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
And when that which is perfect is come, then the institution of the sabbath shall be done away.
The earthly sabbath shall cease, when men enter into that eternal “rest, which remaineth for the people of God." Then, and not before. The reasons why God separated to himself a seventh part of time; why he “ blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it;" were reasons, not lasting for a certain period, or suited to a particular people only, but for all times, and all human beings. Those reasons will last as long as men are the creatures of God, and God the governor of men: as long as men are liable to forget God, and to be engrossed by the business of this world : as long as they are forced to "eat bread by the sweat of their brow:” as long as they have a soul to save, or lose, and an everlasting condition to prepare for. So long will the sabbath be needful for them: and so long will it be the distinction of those who are earnestly seeking the kingdom of God, that they “hallow his sabbaths.”
In one respect, we act upon the conviction, that the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath. We are satisfied, by the example of his apostles and earliest disciples, that, in keeping holy the first day of the week, and not the last, we do not transgress against the will of God. God, in raising his Son Jesus from the dead, has given to mankind a double reason why they should live to his service and glory. To the mercy of creation he has added the mercy of redemption. The Jews commemorated the creation of the world, and therefore kept that day holy, on which God rested from the work which
he had made. The Christian commemorates both the creation and the redemption : and therefore he hallows the day which reminds him of both, and calls it THE LORD'S DAY.
We perceive, by what follows, how much cause there was to correct the prevailing notions, as to the real purpose of the sabbath.
6. And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered.
7. And the Scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day ; that they might find an accusation against him.
8. But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth.
9. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing ; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?
10. And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
11. And they were filled with madness ; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.
When fire does not melt, it hardens. So these Scribes and Pharisees, instead of being softened by the truths which they heard, or the works of mercy which they saw, were filled with madness, and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus. The innocence of the righteous, which sometimes disarms the wicked, sometimes enrages them. It was so with Cain, “who slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.”3
31 John iii. 12.
Corrupt nature furnishes great reason for the prayer of our Litany: “From envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, good Lord, deliver us!” For this example shows us how hateful such a temper is, how unfit to enter a kingdom where all shall be peace and love.
THE APOSTLES CHOSEN.-SUNDRY TRUTHS
LUKE vi. 12-26.
(Matt. x. 2-4.
Mark iii. 13-19.)
12. And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.
13. And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples : and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles :
14. Simon, whom he also named Peter, and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew,
15. Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon called Zelotes,
16. And Judas the brother of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.
17. And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
18. And they that were rexed with unclean spirits; and they were healed.
19. And the whole multitude sought to touch him ; for there went virtue out of him, and healed them all.
(Matt. v. 1-12.) 20. And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed be ye poor.
Not indeed because of your poverty, as if poverty were meritorious, or wealth sinful. God is no respecter of persons, and has one standard for all, and looks with an equal eye upon high and low, rich and poor, one with another. But ye are happy, because the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, do not turn you aside from seeking first the kingdom of God. That kingdom is yours : for it must be sought, that it may be obtained; "the violent take it by force :" and ye are not tempted to spend your strength on earthly things, and to “go away sorrowing,” when ye hear that you must leave all, and follow me, for the sake of treasure in heaven.
21. Blessed are ye, that hunger now : for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now : for ye shall laugh.
There is much need of the caution given by Moses to the Israelites, (Deut. viii. 12;) “ Beware, lest when thou hast eaten, and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied ; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God." There is also reason to say with Solomon, (Eccles. vii. 2,) “ It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting.” The house of mourning better