Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

to perform; and never as indulgencies, which we are permitted to take. The Time, at which the peculiar duties of the Sabbath are to commence is, in my opinion, the time, when darkness commences on the evening of Saturday. For this opinion, the following reasons may be alleged. First ; The natural day commenced with darkness. After God had created the chaos, darkness rested upon it for a certain period. This darkness, and the light which succeeded it, are declared to have constituted the first day. In the same manner, are reckoned the five succeeding days of the Creation. Secondly; The Sabbath, at its original institution, was a natural day. This is clear, because we are told, that God rested the setenth day; and from the manner, in which the six preceding days were reckoned, we have the fullest proof, that He, who by his own choice reckoned them in this manner, reckoned the seventh day in the same manner. Thirdly; When the Sabbath was renewedly enjoined upon the Iszaelites ; it was required to be kept as a Natural day. This we know, because no alteration of the original Institution is specified in the fourth command; and because, in Lev. xxiii. 32, God says to that people concerning the great day of Atonement, From even unto even shall ye celebrate your Sabbath. Fourthly; #. Jewish Sabbath commenced with the darkness ; or with the time, which we denote by the word, Candle-lighting. This is evident from JNehem. xiii. 19, And it came to pass, that when the so of Jerusalem began to be dark before the Sabbath, &c. It is ere evident, that the Sabbath had not commenced on Friday evening, when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark; or, in our customary language, when the dusk of the evening commenced in that city. The Sabbath also, as a natural day, began originally at the same time: the first day of the Creation having commenced with absolute darkness. The time of darkness, to us, is the time, when we can no longer see, so as to transact business by the light of the sun. Fifthly; The Christian Sabbath is the first day of the week; and a natural day; because there is no hint given us, in the New Testament, of any alteration made, or to be made in this respect. Dr. JMacknight informs us that the ancient Christians began their Sabbath on the evening of Saturday. Some Christians have supposed, that the time, when our Lord arose from the dead, is that, at which the present Sabbath ought to be begun. This is evidently an error; because that time is not declared in the New Testament, and therefore cannot be known by us. Accordingly these Christians bef. the Sabbath at midnight: a time of human appointment merey. This seems to me unwarrantable. II. Ishall now attempt to show, that the Duties of the Sabbath are all binding upon us.

On this subject I observe, 1. That the erample of God in resting from his work of Creation, and of Christ in resting from the work of Redemption, is authorita. tively binding upon us; and requires us to rest from our own lawful labours in a similar manner. 2. The fourth Command, which has, I trust, been shown to be equally obligatory on all men, requires the same rest from us, which it required from the Israelites. 3. The original Institution, the examples of God, the Father, and the Son, and the injunctions of the fourth Command, require, in substance, all these duties. The duties, which they expressly require, cannot be performed to any valuable purpose, unless all the duties, specified in this discourse, are also performed. The true meaning, and real extent, of these examples and injunctions, as they respected the Jews, are explained in the comments of the Prophets, particularly of the Prophet Isaiah, ..o. subject. The text is the most co§. and definite, exhibition of this nature, contained in the criptures. In chapter lvi. of the same prophet is found, also, a comprehensive account of the duties: and we have several other, less particular, and less impressive, explanations, in other passages of the Scriptures. These injunctions and examples, then, demanded, in the view of the Spirit of Inspiration, all these duties of the Israelites. Of course, this was the true tenour of these examples and injunctions. But, if I mistake not, I have proved both to be no less obligatory on Christians, than on the Israelites. The same examples and injunctions have, therefore, the same tenour with respect to us, and bind us to exactly the same duties. 4. The New Testament has no where dispensed with any part o these duties. It has been often thought, that Christ has released his followers from some part of the duties of the Sabbath, and in some degree from that strictness of observing it, which were originally required of the Jews. Observations to this amount I have not o seen, and heard; but exclusively of the things observed by Dr. Paley, and mentioned in the last discourse, I have never been informed of the particulars, from which Christians are thus supposed to have been released; nor do I know in what passages of the New Testament they are supposed to be contained. Dr. Paley believes that the Sabbath was never at all obligatory on Christians. According to this scheme, therefore, it was impossible for Christ to release them from these duties; because they were never incumbent on them. Where those, who make this supposition, find their warrant for it in the discourses of Christ, or of |. Apostles, I consess myself unable to determine. The observations, which our Saviour makes, as an exposition of several parts of the Decalogue, in his Sermon on the Mount, he prefaces with these remarkable declarations: Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the

ophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil : for verily, I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass; one jot, or one tittle, shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. After these declarations it is impossible, that Christ should be rationally believed to have altered at all the duties of the Sabbath, much less to have annihilated it, unless he has done it, somewhere, in plain, unequivocal language. But no such o e, on this o can be found in the New Testament. Until something of this nature shall be definitely pointed out; the duties of the Šio must be acknowledged to have been left by Christ, and his Apostles, exactly as they found them: and all declarations to the contrary must be regarded as merely gratuitous and presumptive. 5. As the religious privileges of Christians are declared to be superior to those of the Jews, they cannot be supposed to be lessened with respect to the Sabbath, unless this fact is directly asserted. f the duties of Christians on the Sabbath are lessened, either in number, or degree; then their religious #.". are rendered {. so far inferior to those of the Jews. The duties of the Sabath are all privileges of a high and glorious nature; and cannot fail to be ...# such by every good man. I speak not, here, of the regulations of the civil laws of the Jews: these have nothing to do with the subject of the present discussion. I speak of the š. as instituted on the seventh day; as instituted immediately after the creation was finished; as enjoined anew in the fourth Command of the Decalogue; and as explained, and enforced, by the Prophets; particularly by Isaiah. It was a high religious privilege to a Jew to have one whole day in seven divinely consecrated to the duties of Religion; to be required to esteem the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the Lord honourable; and to turn away his foot from finding his own pleasure on that sacred day. It was a combination of glorious privileges to a Jew to ke the Sabbath from polluting it; to join himself on that day to t Lord; to be his servant; to take hold of his covenant; to be brought to the holy mountain of God; to be made joyful in his house of prayer; to delight himself in the Lord; and to find his various solemn services accepted by his Creator. But if these duties, or any of them, be lessened in number, or degree; just so far are the privileges of a Christian inferior to those of a Jew. Which of these jo would a Christian be willing to give up 2 Which of them does the Gospel require him to relinquish 2 I shall conclude this discourse with a summary enumeration of several Motives, which strongly solicit our exact observance of the Sabbath. 1. Such an observance of the Sabbath is required by the Command of God. yo It is enforced by the Divine Example. God rested on the seventh day; the day after the Creation was ended. Christ rested on the #. day; the day after the New

Creation was finished. This two-fold Example of Jehovah is of infinite authority; and enjoins, in the most expressive language, the faithful imitation of all mankind. 3. The Nature of the Duties, enjoined upon the Sabbath, demands of us such an observance. The duties of the Sabbath are all of a religious and holy nature. Such duties can never be successfully, or profitably, performed, when mingled with secular business, or amusements. These will both distract the attention of the mind, and withdraw it from that clear, strong, affecting sense of spiritual and divine objects in which the peculiar benefit of the Sabbath is found. The soul, in this case, will be divided between God and Mammon, between the love of the world and the love of God. The consequence cannot but be foreseen. The world will predominate: God will be forgotten ; and dishonoured, if not forgotten: the soul will cease from a heavenly character; debase its pure and exalted affections; lose those refined and noble views of celestial objects, which are fitted, both to inspire, and to cherish, devotion; cease to stretch its wings towards heaven; and fall down to earth, loaded with a burden of gross cares, and dragged to the ground by an incumbering mass of sensual gratifications. At the same time, it is far easier to observe the Sabbath, wholly, than to observe it in part. He, who intends to divide it between earthly and spiritual pursuits, will never know where to draw the line of division. Perpetually will he find himself wandering, now towards Religion, and now towards the world; while his conscience will be unceasingly embarrassed by fears, that he has neglected his duty, and by doubt concerning what it is. There is no such thing, as a half-way performance o our duty. If such a performance had in fact been required, or allowed; we should have been distressed by unceasing perplexity. Happy is it for us, that an ordinance of this nature cannot be found in the Scriptures. 4. The blessing of the Sabbath is promised to such an observance. The text is an illustrious proof of this. If thou do all the things, says God, required in the first verse; then shalt thou delight thyself in Jehovah; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth. Not, if thou do a part of these things. There is no promise to a divided service: there is no blessing connected with it. He, therefore, who wishes for the blessing of God upon his religious labours, must look for it, only in the strict and faithful observance of the duties, which He has required. 5. It is demanded by our own highest Interest. The Sabbath is eminently the day of salvation. On Zion the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for ever more. On that hol day, and in the holy place, this incomprehensible blessing is still to i. found. Where that day is not observed, and that place is not frequented, this blessing ceases to descend. If we love our

selves, then; if we love our families; if we love our country; if we love mankind; we shall exert ourselves, to the utmost, to uphold the Sabbath in its purity, in our hearts, in our conversation, and in our conduct. e shall keep the Sabbath from polluting it; shall observe it with the most faithful exactness; and by precept, and example, solemnly recommend it to the exact observance of others.

« AnteriorContinuar »