Imágenes de páginas

of the custom could be kept up, without the regular recurrence of a day sanctified to the purposes

of devotion. The next instance is that of circumcision; the practice of which rite, though regularly observed by the Jews, is not once recorded in Scripture, from the time of their settling in Canaan to the circumcision of our Saviour.

Thirdly, the observance of the recently-instituted Sabbath itself, with all its pains and penalties, is not mentioned in any of the six books which immediately follow the Mosaic code, and which contain a much more particular history of events than the very compendious book of Genesis.

These analogies are perfectly satisfactory to my mind, in accounting for the omission in question—the conviction they are calculated to produce may perhaps be supported by the consideration, that no peculiar penulties were annexed to the violation of his ordinance by the Almighty at its first institution : perhaps also, in the early ages of the world, the very strictness with which it was observert scarcely gave occasion for any allusion to it; and when mankind afterwards became wholly corrupt, the sin of violating it would merge in others of a deeper dye: there would be no need to mention the breach of this precept, when the neglect of the whole worship of God, which comprehended and included it, was the subject of reprehension.

With regard to the Almighty's permitting mankind to remain for so long a period with only a partial knowlege, and in total neglect of this law, which he did not think proper to restore till after the lapse of many ages, we must not measure the acts of the Supreme Being by our standard of right and wrong; we must be content to remain ignorant of those reasons which induced him " to wink at the times of this ignorance," until he shall please to enlighten


But although no actual mention is made of the ordinance for so long a period in the writings of Moses, still we may find traces therein leading us to the conclusion that it was both given and known from the first. The strongest of these perhaps is the established reckoning of time by weeks, which cannot be accounted for otherwise than by a reference to this divine decree, since it arises not, like the computation of days and months and years, from obvious and natural causes, viz. the revolutions of our planetary system.

The observance of this septenary division of time may bowever be traced back through many intermediate periods to the remotest ages of the world. Seven days were allowed to Noah for collecting the animals into bis ark; and seven days did that patriarch stay, and again “ other seven days," when he sent out the dove i

as if he expected the peculiar favor of God to be manifested on that day, which he had separated for his own glory. The same institution seems alluded to in that week of years, which was observed in the patriarchal ages, and incorporated, as it were in niemory of the ancient custom, into the Jewish ordinances. Thus Laban proposed to Jacob the same service of seven years for Rachel, which he had already performed for her sister Leah ; and this he calls “ fulfilling her week.The period of a week seems also to have been generally adopted in mourning and lamentation for the death of friends, as well before as after the institution of the Jewish Sabbath :' thus Joseph made a mourning for his father seven days:2 the friends of the afflicted Job lamented with him seven days ; ' and a seven days' fast was observed by those who interred the bones of Saul and his sons. In addition to this we may remark an extraordinary sanctity and importance attached to the number seven, which pervades all the sacred writings. Of this peculiarity Cruden's Concordance will exhibit to you a concise but perfect view : without pursuing it through all its various, and in some instances perhaps fanciful analogies, I shall merely notice it in the sacrificial rites of the patriarchal times. In the days of Job seven bullocks and seven rams were offered up, as a burntoffering, by the Divine command ;s and the very same number of each were sacrificed on the seven altars built by Balaan. These circumstances are worthy of attention, and ought to be satisfactorily explained by him who denies the primeval institution of a seventh holy day.

i See Ecclesiasticus xxii. 12. 2 Gen, 1. 10.

3 Job ji. 13. 4 1 Sam. xxxi. 13.

5 Job xlii. 8. 6 The number seven seems to have been held in equal reverence by the Pythagoreans and other philosophical sects. The Cumæan sibyl gives to Æneas orders to make a sacrifice similar to that of the Chaldean diviner.

Nunc grege de intacto septem mactare juvencos
Præstiterit, totidem lectas de more bidentes.

Æn. vi. 38. Josephus accounts for the eminent personal qualities of Moses from the circumstance of his being the seventh in descent from Abraham. Antiq. Jud. lib. ii. 6. See also Philo on this subject, who enters on it at large in his treatise De Mundi Opificio, p. 14. I conceive that the period of the week was known to the Greeks in very early ages, from the following passages in one of the most ancient of their poems. See Odyssey, k. 80. M. 397. F. 249. o. 475. From a consideration of these passages, I am inclined to think that Homer had a knowlege of the sepienary division of time; but I will not weaken my argument by adducing testimony to this point, which will not bear examination, as so many eminent writers on this subject, indeed all who have come under my notice, appear to have done. When Theophilus of Antioch declares that all mankind make peculiar mention of a seventh day, though they know not the reason, I am inclined to be

But another reason which induces me to think that Moses did not make use of the figure prolepsis, is this: when God's com

Jieve him under certain limitations. The same credit I give to Clement of Alexandria, when he asserts, that not the Jews only, but the Greeks also, are well acquainted with a seventh day. Strom. lib. v. The authorities, however, which he cites in favor of his opinion, are not only foreign to his purpose, but I am afraid distorted, misquoted, and even forged, for the sake of supporting that opinion. I am sorry to be forced to make such a charge against such an author, and I can only hope that he like his followers took the passages on trust from some preceding writer, or that he saw copies of ancient Mss. different from those which have come down to our times. Having made the charge, however, I am bound to support it. The first author which he quotes is Hesiod:

Πρώτον ένη τετράς τε, και εβδόμη δερον ήμαρ
Και πάλιν,

Εβδομάτη δ' αύθις λαμπρόν φάος ήελίοιο. Now in the first of these lines the poet is not describing the days of the week, but those of the month, and he calls the seventh day of the month sacred, because it was the birth-day of Apollo :

Τη γαρ 'Απόλλωνα χρυσάορα γείνατο Λητώ. . The second verse I cannot discover in Hesiod, but it appears to refer to the same origin. He next quotes Homer still more unfortunately :

1. Εβδομάτη δ' ήπειτα κατήλυθεν Ιερον ήμαρ. In looking for this verse among those of Homer, I have long strained my eyes in vain, and several of my friends have done the same with no better


2. 'EB&bun Rv ieph. The same may be said of this.

3. Εβδομον ήμαρ έην, και το τετέλεστο άπαντα. Here I find the worst fault of all; for Bdomov appears to be substituted for Térpatov, as it exists in all the copies of Homer which I have seen. Even if ébdomov were the right reading, the line would have nothing to do with the subject in question.

4. Εβδομάτη δ' ήoί λίπομεν ρόον εξ Αχέροντος. This line also I am unable to find in Homer.

He next quotes some verses from Callimachus, which would be much more to the purpose in substantiating his opinion, were it not probable that Callimachus, an Alexandrian poet, acquired from the Jews of Alexandria these notions, which might be deduced from the Jewish Sabbath rather than the patriarchal institution. After this he appeals to the Elegies of Solon. 'If any of these assisted him, they must have been some which have not reached our times. Amongst those which we possess, I can find only the fourteenth, as it stands in Professor Gaisford's excellent edition of the Poet. Gr. Min, which has the remotest bearing on the subject. This merely treats of the age of man, divided into periods of seven years, showing how his faculties, &c. alter at each period: moreover, it may be observed that Porson considered this elegy as spurious.

Eusebius in his Præp. Evang. quotes all these authorities of Clement, and gives them also, together with some others from Linus, or as he might better be styled, Pseudo-Linus, in an extract from one Aristobulus, mand for the observance of the Sabbath was inserted in the Decalogue or Moral Code, no such special reference was made to the case of the Israelites, as was made afterwards at the rehearsal of the law, when that Sabbath was declared to be a sigu between God and them. In the first case the Jews are reminded of the original ordinance which gave birth to the institution: the seventh day is there said to be ordained as a holy Sabbath, because on it God rested from his work of creation; a reason which has a manifest reference to the whole race of mankind. In the second

case, it is, because on that day God delivered the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage,-a reason which appertains to them, and to them alone. Bishop Horsley has an observationjwhich may be worth notice here, whilst we are considering the reasons assigned by the Creator for hallowing the seventh day: it regards the distinction of tenses used in the fourth commandment.It is added (says that able prelate), that he therefore blessed and hallowed it; not blesses and hallows it now for the first time, because he delivers you, the children of Israel, from a foreign yoke." This observation would have been entitled to great weight if the institution of the Sabbath had been made known for the first time at the giving of the law: but as Moses declared its existence at the cessation of the manna in the wilderness, the words of the commandment may possibly refer to that event, unless we suppose (as my own opinion inclines me to suppose) that this very declaration of Moses had a view retrospectively to the primeval institution, not prospectively to the law, which was not then given.'

a Peripatetic philosopher. Perhaps therefore this Aristobulus may deserve our censures, on the score of falsification, before Clement: yet even in this case the latter inust submit to reprehension for very culpable negligence in not verifying his quotations: and in this I am sorry to say that such eminent authors as Rivetus, Grotius, Bishop Beveridge, Dr. Jennings, Mr. Faber, Dr. Hales, &c. must participate. The errors of this last-mentioned gentleman are very extraordinary. He not only boldly quotes the ¿Bdóun iepdo huap of Hesiod as corroborating his opinion, but draws Æschylus also into the alliance, thus translating a passage from that author :

Τας δ' εβδόμας και σέμνος εβδομαγέτας
"Αναξ 'Απόλλων είλετ'.
The weeks, the venerable author of the week

King A pollo appointed. 'ET. émi OnB. I. 801. Whereas in fact Apollo is represented by the poet as taking the seventh gate of the city under his guard; and that, not because he was the author of the week, but because he was born (as tiesiod tells us) on the seventh day ; and the right reading is not Bdouayéras (a word of extraordinary derivation, and one état deyóuevov), but ébrouayévns, which agrees with his birth, and is a reason for his custody of the seventh gate. But although I thus reject the commonly received authorities on this point, I still think there is good reason to believe that the heathen nations did keep up the patriarchal tradition by their observance of a septenary division of time, and that tracés of this may be discovered in their oldest poet.

Many other arguments might be adduced against the proleptical view of the text which has given rise to tbis discussion. As brevity however is an object much to be desired, I hasten to what I consider as conclusive on the subject-I mean the interpretation given to the passage in the New Testament. The Apostle having observed at the conclusion of the fourth chapter of his Epistle to the Hebrews, that God sware in his wrath that certain of the Jews should not enter into his rest, viz. “ those that believed not,” takes occasion in the following chapter to excite in his Christian couverts a religious fear, lest any of them by their unbelief should fail of obtaining the promise of his rest: and to remove all uncertainty respecting the nature of this promised rest, he draws a careful distinction between the three kinds of rest which may properly be said to be of God. 1. The rest of the seventh day. 2. That general tranquillity obtained by the Israelites under Joshua in the Jand of Canaan. 3. That spiritual rest, or Sabbatism, which remains to the people of God in a future state.

He then argues that the words of David, (Ps. xcv. 11.) “unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest,” cannot be understood of the rest given to them by Joshua, nor of the seventh day's rest, into which men have entered ever since the foundation of the world; a rest intended for all, imperative on all, and therefore not that rest to which the promise belongs. In his very explicit declaration on this point, the Apostle observes, « for we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter (i. e. that they shall not enter) into my rest; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.” Heb. iv. 3, 4. Here we see no reference made to

There certainly appears in this case to be a very remarkable distinction of tenses leading to the conclusion above stated ; “See, for the Lord hath given you the Sabbath: therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days.” Neither does it appear at all necessary that the people should have been thus introduced, and, as it wère, accustomed to tlie Sabbatical rite, about to be imposed on them by a lawgiver who imposed on them many others equally burthensome without any previous preparation. Moreover, the expression used by Moses, (Exod. xvi. 23.) “To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord,” seems to imply in them some knowlege of a prior decree, without which it would have been very unintelligible. The words also of God himself, addressed to Moses, (ver. 28.) “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws," seem to represent those who went out to gather manna on the seventh day, as transgressors in some measure of a known ordinance. In fact, the restoration of the ordinance appears to have been made the first point of attention after the Exodus, as the ordinance itself was the first given after the creation,

« AnteriorContinuar »