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THE SABBATH A STANDING ORDINANCE.
AND he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the
Sabbath. --- MARK, ii, 27.
As our Saviour was passing through the corn fields on the Sabbath, his disciples took the liberty of plucking some of the ears of corn. This was displeasing to the Pharisees, who complained of them to Christ. But instead of condemning, he justified their conduct, by referring to a well known scripture example. He said, “ Have ye never read what David did, when he had need and was an hungered, he and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the show bread, which is not lawful to eat, but for the priests, and gave also to them that were with him ? And he said unto them, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath."
This was a pertinent and full reply to the objection of the Pharisees; and at the same time, implied that God appointed the Sabbath as a standing ordinance, for the benefit of all men in all ages. Accordingly I propose to show,
The Sabbath properly signifies a day of rest; but it is only a day of rest from secular employments, and not from religious duties. It is a holy day to be spent in holy services. The duty of observing such a day would never have been discovered by the light of nature. Though the light of nature teaches men that they ought to worship their Creator, Preserver and Benefactor, yet it does not teach them that they ought to worship him in a social and public manner, one day in seven.
This would not have been their duty, had not God positively appointed the Sabbath as a holy ordinance. Accordingly we find that he did not leave this duty to human discovery, but immediately after he had made man he made also the Sabbath for him. " And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work." This was a divine and sacred ordinance. It was divine, as instituted by God; and sacred, as it was appointed for a sacred, holy and religious purpose. It is true, the peculiar duties of this holy day are not mentioned in this brief account of its institution. But when it was renewed at Mount Sinai, and placed among the ten commands, the special duties of the day were distinctly enjoined. So that the Sabbath with all its instituted duties, is a divine ordinance, enjoined upon all mankind, for their benefit. “ The Sabbath was made for man.” It was made, by a divine appointment, a holy and sacred day. But since none, who believe the Bible, pretend to call in question the original institution of the Sabbath, it is unnecessary to enlarge upon this head. I proceed therefore to show,
II. That the Sabbath is a standing ordinance, and of perpetual obligation. Many of the divine ordinances before the gospel dispensation were temporary, and ceased when that dispensation commenced. The Passover instituted in Egypt, and the sacrifices, rites and ceremonies instituted at Mount Sinai, were all abolished by the gospel. They were all temporary ordinances. But the Sabbath was designed to be a standing ordinance, from the beginning to the end of the world. This will appear from various considerations.
In the first place, our Saviour says, it " was made for man;" that is, for all men, without exception. The appointment of sacrifices was not made for all men, but only for those men who lived before the death of Christ. . The appointment of the Passover was not made for all men, but only for one nation. The rite of circumcision was not appointed for all men, but only for the seed of Abraham, until ihe promised Messiah appeared. But the Sabbath was made for all men in all ages, because they would always need to rest one day in seven, and to employ it in the special service of God. The very design of the Sabbath argues its perpetuity. There is no reason to be given, why it should be appointed for men in one age or in one part of the world, rather than for all men in all ages and in all places. The