Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

together to “break bread,” and to called, because He ordained that it hear Paul preach. (Acts xx. 7.) It should be the Sabbath of his church, appears, from the context, that the separated for holy uses, commemoApostle spent seven days at Troas, rative of his victory over the grave, and, consequently, was there on the and a chief means of perpetuating Jewish Sabbath ; but no mention is and of establishing his kingdom in made of any meeting of the church the earth. If it be pleaded, that the on that day ; or, indeed, on any Apostles and Evangelists frequently other, till the first day arrived; and went into the synagogues of the then he sanctified it with them, by Jews on their Sabbath, and reasoned administering the Lord's supper, with them out of the Scriptures ; and by preaching, till midnight. It we reply, they did this on the same was on this day, too, that the Chris- principle that Ministers and Mistians at Corinth, and in all thesionaries, in our day, enter places of region of Galatia, assembled to wor- public resort, to secure a large conship God. (1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2.) Hence gregation. They visited these places the Apostle Paul directed that the on the seventh day, on the principle collection for “the poor saints at of expediency; whereas they met, in Jerusalem,” should be made when their own assemblies, on the first they were so assembled. Among day, from a deep conviction of duty. the Jews, the giving of alms, and Both sacred and profane history the casting of gifts into the treasury, testify, that the first day of the week were reckoned appropriate Sabbath was the Christian Sabbath. Ignatius day duties; and as the first day had called it “the Queen of days ;” and taken precedence of the seventh in he enjoined,

he enjoined, “Let all who love the Christian church, the Apostle Christ keep holy the Lord's day, retaught the disciples to connect the nowned by his resurrection, in which exercise of benevolence with its death is overcome, ard life is sprung sanctification, that in all things it up in Him." Irenæus says, “On might have the pre-eminence. By the Lord's day every one of us this arrangement, their convenience Christians keeps the Sabbath, mediwas not only met, but the day was tating on the law, and rejoicing in honoured; their alms were made a the works of God.” Origen expart of their worship, a tribute of plains, at length, the reasons why gratitude to their Lord, and an ex. the Lord's day was substituted for pressive memorial of brotherly love the seventh day. Augustine says, to their fellow-saints.

As the Virgin was blessed above In Rev. i. 10, St. John calls the all women, so the first day is blessed first day, the “Lord's day.” “I above all days : ” and he asserts, was in the Spirit on the Lord's that “the Apostles appointed the day.” This was its common appel first day to be kept with all religious lation among the early Christians; solemnity, because upon that day and its being so called by the disci our Redeemer rose from the dead, ple who leaned on the bosom of which also is therefore called the Christ, and who, at the time he Lord's day.” But to cite individual wrote, was under the plenary inspira testimonies comports not with the tion of the Holy Ghost, is, of itself, brevity of our plan; nor are they sufficient to prove, that the day was necessary; for the uniform tenor of chosen and hallowed by Him whose ecclesiastical history teaches, that, royal name it bears. As the prayer on this day, Christians, in all counwhich Christ taught his disciples is tries, held their religious assemblies; called “the Lord's prayer,” because and that, in these assemblies, the he dictated it; and as the sacrament writings of the Prophets and Aposwhich he instituted before his death tles were read, the doctrines of is called “the Lord's supper,” be Christianity were explained, solemn cause he appointed it to be a memo prayers and praises were offered up rial of his death, and a badge of dis to God, hymns were sung in honour cipleship among his people ; it fol of Christ, the Lord's supper was lows, that the Lord's day was so constantly celebrated, and collections

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

were made for the maintenance of commemorated, rendered the change the the Clergy and the relief of the poor. necessary. On this day, too, the faithful ab There is a comparative importstained from bodily labour, as much ance, and a due order, in the scale as their persecuted and servile cir- of events, which is as real, as obcumstances permitted. They look- vious, and, in some instances, as ed upon it as a day of joy and glad. influential, as is the difference of ness, and, therefore, all fasting on numbers, or the distinction between it was prohibited. Such was their primary and secondary principles in mi zeal, that when they could not meet science and theology : and the Most an for worship in the daytime, because High, because of the absolute perof their enemies, they assembled in fection of his nature, cannot but the morning, before it was light; respect this order in the one case, and severe censures were passed on as well as in the others; that is, he all who absented themselves without cannot esteem, or teach his crea. necessity. When the Roman empire tures to esteem, that as first, which becaine Christian, Constantine pro- is, in truth, last ; nor that as secondhibited all judicial pleadings and ary, which, in its nature and effiprosecutions in courts of justice, ciency, is primary. That the reand also all unnecessary labour, as demption of our race, by the sufferbeing inconsistent with the design ings of " God manifest in the flesh," and duties of the day.

was a much more glorious event Thus, it is proved, that, from the than the creation of the world by time of our Lord's resurrection, up the word of his power, will not for a to the close of the third century, moment be questioned. It therethe first day of the week was cele fore became the wisdom of Him who brated, in all the churches, as the is a God of order, and is not the Christian Sabbath. And when we Author of confusion, to appoint, take into account the unbending in that the greater should take prece. tegrity of the Apostles and first dence of the less; that the redeemChristians, their love to their Lord, ing work of three-and-thirty years and their steadfast adherence to the should be honoured above the crealetter of his instructions; the name tive effort of six days; and that the by which the day was distiiguished; work in which the whole circle of the total absence of all controversy the divine perfections shone with in the church, on the subject of its surpassing splendour, — by which sanctity, for several centuries; toge. the powers of hell were vanquished, ther with the marked preference the treasures of grace purchased, which our Lord showed for it, in the redemption of our race accomhis example, and the high honour plished, and the gates of heaven which the eternal Father has put opened to all believers,—should be upon it, in succeeding ages, by commemorated by the church, in awakening and by saving sinners in preference to that work, in which its ordinances; we possess evidence, certain of the divine perfections amounting to demonstration, that were quiescent; and which, though the change was made by the will, glorious, and worthy to be had in and with the sanction, of Him whom everlasting remembrance,“ had no we adore as “ LORD ALSO OF THE glory in this respect, by reason of Sabbath.”

the glory which excelleth." But to adduce proof of the lawful 2. The change was necessary, to ness of the change, is only part of guard the disciples against the sin our design : we think it admits of and danger of Judaizing. proof, that the change was necessary, The great error into which the as a part of the New Testament early disciples of our Lord were in economy; and that it had the direct danger of falling, (they being, for sanction of apostolic authority. In the most part, Jews,) was that of illustration of its assumed necessity, blending Christianity with the abrowe offer the following remarks : gated rites of the law; an evil which

1. The superior glory of the event --though less glaring than those to

3

[ocr errors]

which the servants of God, under the bigotry of the Jew, on the one preceding dispensations, were ex hand, and the Judaizing tendencies posed—was equally inimical to the of the disciples, on the other, reglory of God, the purity of his wor quired that a broad line of demarca. ship, the efficacy of his ordinances, tion should be placed between them and the spiritual interests of man and their respective adherents ; that kind. The apostolic Epistles afford there should be no mingling of the abundant evidence of the proneness, spiritual worship of the one, with both of the converted and uncon the carnal ordinances of the other; verted Jews, to cleave to the cere and that everything which seemed monies of the law, and of their incli- to compromise the superiority of the nation to force the observance of Gospel, and its great Author, should them on the consciences of the Gen- be avoided, discountenanced, and cile converts. And as they did tbis condemned, as leading to apostasy, on the principle, that they were and as implying a renunciation of auxiliary to justification, the peace the truth. The destruction of Jeruof the church, and the salvation of salem was no less a blessing to the both classes, required that this prone Christians, than it was a judgment ness should not only be restrained, to the Jews, because of the extinbut cured and condemned ; for, in guishing effect it had on the quesseeking justification by the deeds of tion of the perpetual obligation of the law, in whole or in part, they Mosaic rites. But, far and beyond fell from grace, and made Christ of all other events and arrangements, none effect.

the change of the Sabbath proved the These ceremonies either pointed most effectual guard to the disciples, to the Messiah, as yet to come, or against their being entangled again they prefigured the blessings of his with “ the yoke of bondage." By reign. Many of them were per this change the new dispensation formed on the Jewish Sabbath, and was rendered complete; time was all of them were enjoined or eulo secured for the due performance of gized in its appointed ministrations. Gospel worship; an emphatic proThe disciples who believed that test was instituted against modern Christ was already come in the Judaism; and the merited exaltaflesh, and who had realized the good tion of the Lord Jesus as things of which the law was a sha STONE OF TUE CORNER, dow, could not, therefore, have kept cured and openly proclaimed. the Jewish Sabbath, without tacitly 3. It was necessary to show forth conceding, that the objections of the the glory of Christ, his equality with unbelieving Jews were valid, that the Father, and his Headship in his the prophecies respecting the Mes. church. siah were unaccomplished, that the Under the Christian dispensation, law was preferable to the Gospel, “the Father judgeth no man; but and that Moses was worthy of more hath committed all judgment unto honour than Christ. It was impos- the Son; that all men should hosible for them to have taken part in nour the Son even as they honour the Jewish worship, without wit- the Father. He which honoureth nessing the performance of ceremo not the Son, honoureth not the nies which they knew had been ab. Father, which hath sent him.” The rogated, without sanctioning the Old Testament church honoured the perpetuation of a Priesthood which Father, by keeping a Sabbath in had been disannulled, and without commemoration of his resting from listening to teachers who denied the the work of creation ; and it was divinity of their Lord, and who meet that the New Testament church sought the destruction of his cause, should, in like manner, honour the and plotted their death, because they Son, by commemorating his rest were his followers.

from the more arduous work of Thus, the essential difference be- redemption. In doing this, we tween the Christian and Mosaic dis. alienate none of the Father's claims; pensations, taken in connexion with we only carry out his original design:

6

[ocr errors]

HEAD was se

ance.

[ocr errors]

we do not disparage his work, we and his Headship in the church. only combine it with that of his As the salvation of men, and the well-beloved Son; and, instead of very existence of Christianity in the establishing a rival worship, we glo- earth, hinged on these truths, their rify alike the Father, the Son, and easy and triumphant establishment the Holy Ghost; for our Sabbath was a point of paramount importcommemorates, and our Sabbath

Had they been left to be reasongs celebrate, the wonders of soned out by laboured deductions, creation, the mystery of redemption, or proved only by refined and learntogether with the descent and gra- ed criticisms, the progress of the cious operations of the eternal Gospel must have been impeded, Spirit.

and the sphere of its triumphs cir. The New Testament church is cumscribed, especially among the Christ's household, kingdom, fold, uneducated classes. It was, theretemple, mystical body, and bride ; fore, not only kind and wise, but and both his glory and the church's necessary, that our Lord should safety required that it should be render the form, the character, and made manifest to friends and foes, even the names of his Gospel ordithat he, and not Moses, nor any of nances declarative of these cardinal the Apostles, was the Ruler of the truths ; and that the fact of his household, the King of the com resurrection, which demonstrated monwealth, the chief Shepherd of the truth of each and all of them, the sheep, the Glory of the temple, should be commemorated in his the Head of the body, and the church by the keeping of a weekly Bridegroom of the bride. This was, rest. In this commemoration the in part, accomplished by the “new most unequivocal evidence is given, name which his people received, that Jesus is “the Son of the Highin virtue of their discipleship; but est,” “the Saviour of the world,” it was rendered much more palpable and “Head over all things to his by the substitution of baptism for church ;” and its efficiency as circumcision, the Lord's supper for sign is most marked; for in no one the passover, the Christian ministry point is there a more manifest differfor the Jewish priesthood, and, es ence between his friends and his pecially, by the keeping of the first- foes, than in the religious observday Sabbath in the place of the ance of his day. seventh, as commemorative of his Nothing can more clearly indicate entering into his rest.

the antichristian character of Soci. The keeping of the seventh-day nianism and Popery, than the stuSabbath, under the old dispensation, died obscuration of the Redeemer's was a sign whereby the worshippers divine supremacy in his church, of Jehovah were distinguished in with which they are respectively all the earth, from atheists and idol- chargeable. On the Socinian hypoaters. But when it pleased the thesis, no satisfactory reason can be Father to place the Son upon his assigned why Jesus should have holy hill of Sion, and to set him taken precedence of Moses, and of “forth as the Propitiation for our all the Prophets; why his advent sins, and not for ours only, but for should have formed the commencethe sins of the whole world,” it ment of a new dispensation ; why became indispensable that the sign his death should have been commeshould be changed and Christian. morated by a sacrament, or his reized : for the enemies of God then surrection by a Sabbath. Instead became the enemies of the cross of of leaving Him in the possession of Christ, and his people were confined a legitimate and divine Headship, to such as believed in the name of the abettors of this system, by denyChrist. The great truths which had ing his Deity, tacitly charge him then to be demonstrated, in opposi- with blasphemy and usurpation, in tion to Jews, atheists, and idolaters, altering God's' ordinances, in apwere, the Deity of Christ's person, pointing that they should be called the atoning character of his death, by his name, and should be adminis

a

tered to bis honour, jointly with the or rather are known of God, how Father and with the Holy Ghost. turn ye again to the weak and begAs for Popery, the prayers which its garly elements, whereunto ye desire devotees address to Christ are “few again to be in bondage? Ye observe and far between,” compared with days, and months, and times, and those they offer to the Virgin, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I to other saints. Their fellowship have bestowed upon you labour in with Him is made to serve only as a vain." A slight attention to this foil, to set off their imaginary con passage and its context is sufficient nexion with the Apostle Peter, and to discern, that the observances here his boasted successor, the Bishop of condemned had no connexion either Rome. For once that they appeal with the Christian Sabbath, or with to the inspired testimony of Christ any branch of Christian worship; and his Apostles, in attestation of but that they were such as the the dogmas of their creed, they Galatians had practised, when they appeal a hundred times to tradition, “knew not God.” These “days, and to the writings of the Fathers; and months,” &c., were obviously and their profanation of the Sabbath parts of that “service” which they stands in appalling contrast with rendered to "them which by nature their superstitious reverence for were no gods ;” and which they retheir numerous holy-days, instituted nounced when they were “known in honour of real or fictitious saints, of God.” The sin with which they and in commemoration of the lying were chargeable, therefore, was not wonders said to have been wrought that of keeping the Christian Sabat their shrines. The title of “the bath with too great strictness, but Lord's day," which St. John gave that of turning to "the weak and to the Christian Sabbath, stamps it beggarly elements of astrological with a dignity and sacredness so signs, and of heathen superstitions, peculiar and transcendent, that, to a relating to lucky and unlucky days, well-instructed mind, it appears sa

to which the Heathen were then, crilegious, either to profane it, or to and are still, in bondage ; and from exalt other days into rivalship with the whole of which the Gospel was it: this-that“ man of sin, the son intended to free them. To suppose of perdition, who opposeth and ex that the Apostle Paul could have alteth himself above all that is call- calmly condemned the religious obed God, or that is worshipped ; so servance of the day on which his that he, as God, sitteth in the tem Lord rose from the dead, and which ple of God, showing himself that he the Holy Ghost, by the pen of the is God”-has done ; and for this, beloved disciple, called “the Lord's and his other blasphemous usurpa. day,”—or that he should have stigtions, the Lord of the Sabbath, the matized the day itself as a “weak true Head of the church, “shall and beggarly element,"—is a stretch consume him with the spirit of his of credulity, of which ignorance and mouth, and shall destroy him with infidelity alone are capable. the brightness of his coming.”

Rom. xiv. 5, 6: “One man esOne thing remains to make this teemeth one day above another ; argument complete; and that is, to another esteemeth every day alike. furnish a brief exposition of those Let every man be fully persuaded in passages in St. Paul's Epistles, his own mind. He that regardeth which some have misconstrued into the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; meditated censures on the strict and he that regardeth not the day, observance of the day, whether held to the Lord he doth not regard it.” on the first or the seventh day. From this text it has been inferred,

The first of these to which we that Christians are left at liberty to shall allude, is Gal. iv. 8–11: keep the Sabbath with more or less “Howbeit then, when ye knew not strictness, according to their inward God, ye did service unto them convictions and inclinations; or not which hy nature are no gods. But to keep it at all, if they are so now, after that ye have known God, minded. But the context proves,

« PreviousContinue »