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avoided by one side as the other. If sectaries are blamed for taking unnecessary offence, established churches are no less culpable for unnecessarily giving it; they are bound at least to produce a command, or a reason of equivalent utility, for shutting out any from their communion, by mixing with divine worship doctrines which, whether true or false, are unconnected in their nature with devotion.
- OF THE USE OF SABBATICAL INSTITUTIONS.
AN assembly cannot be collected, unless the time of assembling be fixed and known beforehand; and if the design of the assembly require that it be holden frequently, it is easiest that it should return at stated intervals. This produces a necessity of appropriating set seasons to the social offices of religion. It is also highly convenient that the same seasons be observed throughout the country, that all may be employed, or all at leisure, together; for if the recess from worldly occupation be not general, one man's business will perpetually interfere with another man's devotion; the buyer will be calling at the shop when the seller is gone to church. This part, therefore, of the religious distinction of seasons, namely, a general intermission of labour and business during times previously set apart for the exercise of public worship, is founded in the reasons which make public worship itself a duty. But the celebration of divine service never occupies the whole day. What remains, therefore, of Sunday, beside the part of it employed at church, must be considered as a mere rest from the ordinary occupations of civil life: and he who would defend the institution, as it is required by law to be observed in Christian countries, unless he can produce a command for a Christian Sabbath, must point out the uses of it in that view. o
First, then, that interval of relaxation which Sunday affords to the laborious part of mankind, contributes greatly to the comfort and satisfaction of their lives, both as it refreshes them for the time, and as it relieves their six days’ labour by the prospect of a day of rest always approaching; which could not be said of casual indulgences of leisure and rest, even were they more frequent than there is reason to expect they would be, if left to the discretion or humanity of interested task-masters. To this difference it may be added, that holidays, which come seldom and unexpected, are unprovided, when they do come, with any duty or employment; and the manner of spending them being regulated by no public decency or established usage, they are commonly consumed in rude, if not criminal pastimes, in stupid sloth or brutish intemperance. Whoever considers how much sabbatical institutions conduce, in this respect, to the happiness and civilization of the labouring classes of mankind, and reflects how great a majority of the human species these classes compose, will acknowledge the utility, whatever he may believe of the origin, of this distinction; and will consequently perceive it to be every man's duty to uphold the observation of Sunday, when once established, let the establishment have proceeded from whom or from what authority it will. Nor is there any thing lost to the community by the intermission of public industry one day in the week. For, in countries tolerably advanced in population, and the arts of civil life, there is always enough of human labour, and to spare. The difficulty is not so much to procure as to employ it. The addition of the seventh day's labour to that of the other six would have no other effect than to reduce the price. The labourer himself, who deserved and suffered most by the change, would gain nothing. 2. Sunday, by suspending many public diversions, and the ordinary rotation of employment, leaves to men of all ranks and professions sufficient leisure, and not more than what is sufficient, both for the external offices of Christianity, and the retired, but equally necessary duties of religious meditation and inquiry. It is true, that many do not convert their leisure to this purpose; but it is of moment, and is all which a public constitution can effect, that every one be allowed the opportunity.
3. They, whose humanity embraces the whole sensitive creation, will esteem it no considerable recommendation of a weekly return of public rest, that it affords a respite to the toil of brutes. Nor can we omit to recount this among the uses which the Divine Founder of the Jewish Sabbath expressly appointed a law of the institution.
We admit, that none of these reasons show why Sunday should be preferred to any other day in the week, or one day in seven to one day in six, or eight: but these points, which in their nature are of arbitrary determination, being established to our hands, our obligation applies to the subsisting establishment, so long as we confess that some such institution is necessary, and are neither able, nor attempt to substitute any other in its place.
OF THE SCRIPTURE ACCOUNT OF SABBATICAL
THE subject, so far as it makes any part of Christian morality, is contained in two questions:— I. Whether the command, by which the Jewish Sabbath was instituted, extends to Christians? II. Whether any new command was delivered by Christ; or any other day substituted in the place of the Jewish Sabbath by the authority or example of his apostles? In treating of the first question, it will be necessary to collect the accounts which are preserved of the institution in the Jewish history: for the seeing these accounts together, and in one point of view, will be the best preparation for the discussing or judging of any arguments on one side or the other. In the second chapter of Genesis, the historian having concluded his account of the six days’ creation, proceeds thus: “And on the seventh day God ended 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 which God created and made.” After this we hear no more of the sabbath, or of the seventh day, as in any manner distinguished from the other six, until the history brings us down to the sojourning of the Jews in the wilderness, when the following remarkable passage occurs. Upon the complaint of the people for want of food, God was pleased to provide for their relief by a miraculous supply of manna, which was found every morning upon the ground about the camp; “and they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating; and when the sun waxed hot, it melted : and it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses: and he said unto them, This is that which the Lord hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake, to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe ; and that which remaineth over, lay up for you, to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink [as it had done before, when some of them left it till the morning], neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto the Lord; to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore that he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” Exodus, xvi. Not long after this, the sabbath, as is well known, was established with great solemnity, in the fourth commandment. Now, in my opinion, the transaction in the wilderness above recited was the first actual institution of the sabbath. For if the sabbath had been instituted at the time of the creation, as the words in Genesis may seem at first sight to import; and if it had been observed all along from that time to the departure of the Jews out of Egypt, a period of about two thousand five hundred years; it appears unaccountable that no mention of it, no occasion of even the obscurest allusion to it should occur, either in the general history of the world before the call of Abraham, which contains, we admit, only a few memoirs of its early ages, and those extremely abridged; or, which is more to be wondered at, in that of the lives of the first three Jewish patriarchs, which in many parts of the account is sufficiently circumstantial and domestic. Nor is there in the passage above quoted from the sixteenth chapter of Exodus, any intimation that the sabbath, when appointed to be observed, was only the revival of an ancient institution, which had been neglected, forgotten, or suspended; nor is any such neglect imputed either to the inhabitants of the old world, or to any part of the family of Noah; nor, lastly, is any per
mission recorded to dispense with the institution
during the captivity of the Jews in Egypt, or on any other public emergency. The passage in the second chapter of Genesis, which creates the whole controversy upon the subject, is not inconsistent with this opinion: for, as the seventh day was erected into a sabbath, on account of God's