Imágenes de páginas

Testament. The prophets, who succeeded Moses, did nothing, as moral teachers, but explain and enforce it. Christ declared, that soonershall heaven and earth pass away, than one jot, or one tittle, #. this law shall pass, until all be fulfilled. The Apostles have enorced no other precepts, as obligatory upon Christians. The Jews have, at this day, these commands written out in large letters, and hung up in their o as solemn monitors to all, who enter them, of their duty. In a manner, correspondent with this, have they ever been regarded by Christians. They are at this day proverbially known by the name of the Ten Commandments, and the Moral St. Paul, in a passage which ought not to be omitted on this occasion, Eph. vi. 1–3, reciting the fifth command, says, This is the jirst commandment with promise. But God had given to Moah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, and to the Israelites, many commands, and annexed to them many promises, before the Law was delivered from Mount Sinai. In what sense, then, was the fifth command the first, to which a promise was annexed? Plainly in this sense only ; that it is the first in the Decalogue, which has this mark of distinction. In the eye of St. Paul, therefore, the Decalogue contained all those which he thought proper to call the Commandments; and was, in his view, of a character totally distinct, and totally superior to every other part of the Old Testament. As the Apostle recites this command to the Ephesians, who were Gentiles, as obligatory on them no less than on the Jews; it is clear, that the whole Decalogue, unless some part of it has been plainly disannulled, is entirely obligatory on Christians. Had there been any distinction in this respect between the different precepts of this law; St. Paul must, it would seem, have made it on this occasion. He would, at least, have made it somewhere; and not have left so important a subject without a single note of illustration. IV. Dr. Paley says, that St. Paul evidently appears to consider the Sabbath as a part of the Jewish ritual, and not binding upon Christians, as such : 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. Col. ii. 16, 17. To this observation, I answer, first, that this passage refers not in any sense to the Sabbath; but merely to the ordinary holidays of the Jews. The burden of proving the contrary lies upon §. disciples of Dr. Paley. Secondly; If this be denied; I assert, that it refers to the seventh day only, and not at all to the Christian Sabbath. Until the contrary is proved, I shall consider this answer as sufficient; especially, as the Christian Sabbath is not in the Scriptures, and was

not by the primitive Church, called the Sabbath; but the first day of the week, and the Lord’s day. V. The same writer says, that the observation of the Sabbath was not one of the articles, enjoined by the Apostles, in Acts xv. upon the Christian Gentiles. 1 answer; Neither was abstinence from theft, murder, lying, coveting, profaneness, or idolatry. VI. Dr. Paley asserts that the observation of the Sabbath is not expressly enjoined in the New Testament. To this I answer, first, that the text is in my own view an explicit injunction of this duty. But as this opinion has been contested; as the paragraph, in which it is contained, is confessedly obscure; it would require one whole discourse of this nature to consider it sufficiently; and as the text was written many years after the Christian Sabbath was effectually established; } observe, Secondly; That the Christian Sabbath was originally introduced into the Church much more successfully, and happily, than it could have been done by an express injunction. In order to judge of this subject, it is necessary to bring up to our view the situation of those, to whom the Gospel was first preached. These were all Jews; intensely bigoted to every art of their religion, and peculiarly to their §al. The day d been appointed by God jo. and was acknowledged to be divinely appointed, by Christ and his Apostles. The experiment of interfering with the feelings of the Jews concerning the Sabbath, even in É. most lawful manner, had been sufficiently tried by Christ to discourage the Apostles from every unnecessary attempt of this nature. Accordingly, the Apostles J. a peaceful and unobjectionable, method. They celebrated, at times, and probably always, the Jewish Sabbath, when they Were annon Jews. The Jews at the same time, without any objection, yielded to their example, and authority, in celebrating the Christian worship on the day of Christ’s resurrection. They were circumSised; but they were also ...'. baptized. They celebrated the Passover; but willingly added to it the Lord's Supper. They prayed in the temple; but they willingly united, also, in the rayers and praises of Christian assemblies, holden in private F. or in the fields. While the Jewish service was neither attacked, nor neglected, they made not the least objection to that of the Christian Church. In this manner, all these ordinances grew into use, veneration, and habit; and, in the end, gained such a possession of the mind, and such a strength of authority, as could neither be overthrown, nor weakened. When the Apostles came to declare in form, that the Jewish worship was to cease; the minds of the Church were so well prepared to receive this declaration, that it was carried into a general execution. Difficulties, and divisions, arose, indeed, about

this subjeet in several Churches; particularly about circumcision: and produced a course of serious contention. What would have been the case, had this part of the system been begun at an earlier period?

About the Christian Sabbath no dispute appears to have existed, during the three first centuries. All the 8. * to have adopted it, and to have neglected the Jewish Sabbath, with. out any #. Was not this method of introducing so impor. tant a change dictated by true wisdom; and a better method than any other?

The example of the Apostles is an example to all Christians, Were we, then, to give up the point, contested in the objection; we have still such a law in this Example; and so efficacious that probably no doctrine has been more generally received, than that of the Christian Sabbath, and no duty more generally performed, than the observation of it, down to the present time.

The absolute necessity of establishing the doctrines and di. ties of Christianity among the Jews, in the infancy of the Church, has been shown in a former discourse. I shall only add, that it seems impossible to have introduced among that people the Chris. tian Sabbath in any other manner, than that which was adopted by the Apostles, unless their whole character had been miraculously changed.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

Isaiah lviii. 13, 14.—If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a Delight, the Holy of the Lord, Honourable ; and shall honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; Then shall thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob, thy Father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

IN the first of the discourses, which I have delivered concerning the fourth Command, I proposed, §. To consider the Perpetual Establishment of the Sabbath; and, II. The JManner, in which it is to be observed. The former of these doctrines, together with the objections against it, has been made the subject of the three preceding sermons. The latter shall be the theme of the present discourse. The text is the most minute, and perfect summary of the duties, incumbent on mankind with respect to this holy day, which is contained in the Scriptures. It is a prediction to the Jews, announcing, that if they will perform these duties, God will greatly prosper them with spiritual and temporal blessings, in the land of their fathers. In my own opinion, it especially respects a period, yet to come. In examining this subject, I shall endeavour, I. To point out the JNature, and Extent, of these duties; and, II. To show that they are binding upon us. I. I shall endeavour to point out the Nature, and Extent, of these duties. In examining this subject, I shall adopt the scheme of the text; and mention, 1. The things, from which we are to abstain; and, 2. The things which we are to perform. 1. We are bound to abstain from sin, in thought, conversation, and conduct. All, who read the Gospel, know, or may know, perfectly, that sin may be as easily, and as extensively, committed in thought, as in word, or action; and that the real seat of sin is in the heart. With the reformation of our hearts, then, we are always to begin our duty. We may as easily, and grossly, profane the Sabbath, so far as ourselves only are concerned, by thoughts, which are unsuited to its nature, as we can by any actions whatever. If our minds are intent on our business, or our pleasures; if our affec


tions wander after them; if we are cold, or lukewarm, with re-
spect to our religious duties; if we are negligent of a serious and
cordial attention to them; if we regard with impatience the in-
terruption, occasioned to our secular concerns; if we wish the insti-
tution had not been appointed, or the time, in which it is to be kept,
lessened; then, plainly, we do not esteem the Sabbath a Delight,
nor abstain from finding our own pleasure. So long as this is the
state of our thoughts; all our outward conformity to this precept;
(for such is really the nature of the text) will be merely hypocriti-
cal. Every oblation from such a mind will be vain; and all
its incense an abomination. The Sabbaths, and the calling of as-
semblies, among persons who act in this manner, will be such, as
God cannot away with; and their solemn meeting will be iniquity.
The heart gives birth to all the movements of the tongue. We
profane the ś whenever we employ the time in Worldly
Conversation. Such conversation is, in the text, denoted by the
phrase, speaking thine own words : thine own being supplied by the
translators. I think this supplement rational; since in the two
preceding clauses we find doing THINE own ways, and finding thine
own, pleasure. Bishop Lowth, from similar phraseology in the
ninth verse, supposes it should be tain words. The meaning, how-
ever, will differ immaterially.
Such conversation is, like our thoughts, directed indifferently to
subjects of business, and of pleasure; and in both cases the Sab-
bath is subverted, and so far as this conversation extends, is chang-
ed from a holy, into a secular, day. God is robbed of his rights,
and of his service: and we are prevented from attaining, and from
a disposition to attain, the holiness, which is indispensable to sal-
There is no way, in which the Sabbath is more easily, more
insensibly, more frequently, and more fatally violated, than this.
Temptations to it are always at hand. The transgression always
seems a small one; usually a dubious one at the worst; and, often,
no transgression at all. Multitudes of persons, of sober and well-
meaning dispositions, nay, multitudes, as there is but too much
reason to fear, of professing Christians, beginning with religious
subjects, slide imperceptibly towards those, which are j
as moral in such a degree, as scarcely to differ from religious ones;
thence to secular themes, bordering upon these; and thence to
mere matters of business, or amusement. Such persons, before
they are aware, find themselves occupied in conversing about the
affairs of the neighbourhood; the strangers, who are at Church;
the new dresses; fashions; business; #. news, and pol-
itics. To these they are led by mere worldly conversation con-
cerning the prayers; the psalmody; or the sermon; as having
been well or ill devised, written, spoken, or performed; by a his-
tory, merely secular, of the sickness and deaths in the neighbour-
hood, or elsewhere, or of the dangerous or fatal accidents, which

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

-— -- mimmi

« AnteriorContinuar »