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from 2 Kings xxiii. 5. Ezek. viii. 16. And hence, some of the ancient Heathens (of whom Tertullian speaks) sancied that the Sun was the God of the Christians, because they celebrated the sirst day os the week.
I know it is objected, that some of the primitive apologists for Christianity, as Justin Martyr and Tertullian, in their writings, call the Lord's day Sunday. But the reason of their so doing is plain; they were writing to Heathens, to whom the doctrines of Christianity and institution of the Lord's day were things new and strange, and who would not have known what day they meant, if they had spoken of the Lord's day; and theresore they call it by the name they gave it, Sunday: For when we treat with others, we must express things by the names that are common and current among therh, unless we intend to be barbarians to them.
But the primitive Christians did not use to call it Sunday among themselves, but, commonly, the Lord's day, not the Sabbath; partly to distinguish it from the Jewish Sabbath that was su lately abolished, and partly to wean the Jewish converts the more essectually from Judaism. But the true reason why some in this age ieem to be osssended at the word Sabbath, as being applied to the Lord's day, is, because they cannot allow os any thing that would inser an obligation upon them to keep such a strict holy rest upon the Christian Sabbath as the Jews did upon their Sabbath: but 1 will have occasion to speak of this asterwards.
I need not stand long here, to shew the disserent signisications of the word Sabbath among the Jews; only in a word, beside the seventh day of each week, or weekly Sabbath, (which is the most ordinary acceptation of the word in scripture) it is put alsu sometimes to signify a whole week, because every week had a Sabbath included in it, Lev. xxiii. 15. " Seven Sabbaths shall be complete," i. e weeks. The Pharisee faith, Luke xviii. 1I. "I sast twice a week orig. neusteuo dis tou Sabbatoiu Likewise the word Sabbath is sometimes put to signify seven years. Lev. x»v. 8. " Thou shalt number
unto thee seven Sabbaths of years," i. e. (as it is there explained) s;ven times seven years. Seven years wa9 called among the Jews, a Sibbath of years, because their land rested from culture or husbmdry every seventh year, in answer to the church's resting every seventh 4ay. Hence it is said. Lev. xxv. 4. " The seventh year shall be a Sabbath of reft unto the land" Besides this, they had their great sabbatical year, or Jubilee, which was ev^ry fiftieth year: For, according to Lev. xxv q. they were to reckon seven Sabbaths of years, or seven times seven yrars, which is forty-nine and then to reserve their Jubilee, or sabbattical year. Lastly, Tie other sicred sealts which rhe Jews- kept monthly or annually, are alsu called Sabbaths, in regard of their resting from labour on these days, as ou the weekly Sabbth Hence, Lev. xxiii. 24. the sirst day of the seventh month, which was their "seast of trumpets," is called a' Sabbath: But the weekly Sabbath is commonly called in Scripture, by way of eminency, the Sabbath; to distinguish it from all other Sabbaths, and give it the preserence to all the othar seasts of the Jews.
Quest. II. For what ends hath God appointed a weekly Sabbath?
v .-Ans 1. God hath appointed it for manisesting of Ws own glory, and particularly for displaying his suvereign power and authority over all his creatures. It rnuft certainly be a high acknowledgment of God's universal dominion and supremacy, to have all the world every week, in one day, lay aside their own business, that they may jointly worship him in a public and sulemn manner.
2. He appointed the Sabbath for the benesit of his • creatures, :and particularly in compassion to sallen man; for he saw man's heart would be so glewed to the world, so drench'd in sensuality, that, were he lest to himself, he would not allow one day in a month, jiay, in a year, for divine worship; but would have drudged himself, his servants and beasts, even to death in pursuit of worldly things, without minding any thing that is better. Wherespre a mercisul God hath stjictly commanded man to rest one day eveiy week, r.. . P 2 from from all worldly concerns, that thereby he might, in a manner, be laid under a necessity to mind his foul and the things of another world ; and, in the mean time, the poor toiled beasts, as well as mens bodies, might have some rest and ease, for their preservation and support.
But more particularly, the Sabbath is designed for our souls eternal welsare; in regard,
1. The Sabbath tends highly to our instruction, and to the keeping up the lively impressions of the truths of Christianity in our memories. The Sabbath recurring every week, doth still of new lay besore us a compendious view of these essential doctrines. The creation of the -world, man's fall, Chri/l's incarnation and satisfaction, his death, resurrection and victory, for completing our redemption: Besides that glorious and eternal re/t above, provided for the people of God.
2. It tends to promote holiness, spirituality, and heavenly mindedness, in us ; and that two ways, r By calling us oss frem temporal to spiritual employment. Sensual objects through the week ate ready to alienate our assections from- God, and wear spiritual things out of our minds; for recalling whereof, the Sabbath seasonably returns, and presents and entertains us with divine objects.
2. By assording us a lively emblem of heaven, and the conversation of the glorisied saints, in celebrating that eternal Sabbath above: For, as in heaven there is no buying, selling, nor any worldly business, but a continual speaking of God, enjoying communion with him, adoring and praising him for ever, without any mixture of other assairs; so the Lord will have an emblem or representation hereof, as near as may be, given weekly to his people on earth, by the Sabbath, wherein they must lay aside all worldly things, and be wholly employed in the service of God, and work of heaven: And this is in order both to keep them in mind of, and make them meet for, that inheritance of the saints in light.
Quest. HI. What is to be understood by the morality of the Sabbath, or fourth commandment, su frequently
spoke of i .
.if/y.-When we call the Sabbath, or fourth commandment, moral, we mean that it is one of God's moral precepts, or a part of the moral law, i. e the perpetual and unalterable rule given us by Cjo i, f•r regulating our lise and manners: Also, by calling it moral, we distinguish it from the ceremonial law, \vhi' h was binding for a time only, and abrogated by Christ's coming. The fourth commandment, enjoining the observation of the Sabbath, is not ceremonial, but moral j that is, it is not temporary, but of standing and perpetual obligation, and which binds all men, in all ages to the end of the world.
But, that we may have a more distinct apprehension of the morality of the Sabbath, we must distinguish betwixt things that are naturally mora', and things positively moral. Moral natural is, when the thing required is so founded upon, and authorized by, the law of nature and right reasun, that it is sit and necessary to. be done, though there had been no express command for it; such as worshipping God, obeying parents, abstaining from murder, Sec. Moral positive is something enjoined us, which, though it be' agreeable to the law of nature, yet carries not such a natural evidence in it, as to oblige us, without a divine revelation and express command; but, being once revealed and commanded, it is perpetually binding as well as that which is moral natural. Now, the fourth command is commonly called moral positive, though indeed there are several things in it, which are of natural equity,.and authorised by the law of nature and sound reason; such as, •
1. That there be a due part of our time stated and consecrated for the solemn worship and service of God, and particularly in poblic assemblies.
2. That this stated time or day should be universal, and the Lme through all, that one man's business intersere not with another's devotions.
3. That this day should recur in a due frequency, that it neither be su rare as to hinder our soul, good, or indispose us for the duties of it; nor so frequent, as |o deprive us of opportunity for our necessary secular employments.
4. That the holy duties of this day be not marred or interrupted bv worldly employments or diversions; in regard they tend naturally to draw oss the rrind from God and divine objects. These four things, included in the fourth commandment, I reckon to be of natural equity or moral natural.
There are other things in it, which are of positive institutior, i. e. binding only by a positive law, and express revelation. Of these again there is something,
1. That is positive'moral ;. e. of perpetual and unalterable obligation; vz that the foresaid stated time for God's solemn worship should be the seventh part of our time, or one day in seven. This, by God's law, is become perpetually moral and unalterable ; but, if God had not revealed it to us, the law or light of nature could not have determined us to it, nor rendered any folid reason why the seventh rather than the sifth, sixth, or eight part of our time, should have been so consecrated to God: But the Author of nature, who best knows what proportion of time suits best both to mens bodies and spirits, and how oft it should recur, so as to answer best the exigencies both of our present and suture lise, hath wisely determined it to be a seventh part, or one day in seven: And can any man say but it is a most rational and sair determination? Had he dealt with us strictly, he might have taken the Gx days, and lest us but one: But since he hath taken but one, and allowed us six, we ought to acknowledge that the Lord hath dealt graciously and liberally with us. Nay, had it been reserred to ourselves, could we have given less time than this to God, from whom we have all our time, nay, our very being, and all the good things we enjoy? . 5"
But, idly, There is m the fonrth commandment something that is positive ceremonial, or mutable, viz. The observation of the last day of the seven for the Sabbath. This indeed was enjoined at sirst, though not directly and principally, as anywise essential to the command for the Sabbath; but only in a secondary way, as a circumstance of the command, which was to be altered when God pleased. It belonged not to the