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priated for the discharge of this solemn duty. But by whom is this time to be fixed ? Were this left to the understanding and convenience of each individual, would it not be productive of great confusion? Or, were it merely enjoined by human authority, could it have, generally, the same effect on the conscience ? How desirable, and even necessary, that it should be determined by Him whose authority is supreme, and who perfectly knows what portion of his time man should appropriate to the sacred purposes of commemorating the glories and goodness of God, and of promoting his own holiness and happiness.
This, accordingly, is done in the fourth commandment, which was delivered in circumstances of awful solemnity, by the sovereign Lord and Ruler of the universe. “ Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy: six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbathday, and hallowed it.”
THE MORAL OBLIGATION OF THE SABBATH.
As it has been alleged that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution exclusively, and that therefore the obligation to its observance is not perpetual and universal, it is proper that we should first direct our attention to the consideration of this point. The inquiry is obviously of great importance, since it is nothing less than this:--Is the fourth commandment a moral
precept, universally binding on mankind; or is it merely a positive requirement, designed to answer some useful ends under the Mosaic economy, but abrogated with the abolition of the Jewish polity?
It appears to me, that it is of a mixed nature; that it is moral in as far as it relates to the sacred rest of the Sabbath; and that it is positive in regard to the particular day of the week on which, by divine appointment, this rest is to be enjoyed. The duties to be performed on this day are of a moral nature, and therefore universally binding: they are approved by reason and conscience, as arising out of the relations which man bears to God; but the day on which these duties are discharged, being altogether fixed by the will of the Supreme Moral Governor, may be considered as possessing the character of a positive institution, which may be changed by the same authority that has enjoined it. This distinction is observable in the language used in reference to the institution of the Sabbath. “ In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” Here we are told, that the Lord blessed, not the seventh day, but the Sabbath, that is, as the word signifies, the sacred rest to be enjoyed on that day. This rest, which is of a moral nature, God has blessed to his people.
Having made this explanatory remark, I proceed to prove that the Sabbath is of perpetual and universal obligation.
I. It was not peculiar to the Jewish dispensation, but instituted immediately after the creation; as we read in Gen. ii. 1, 3: “ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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.” Accord. ing to the obvious meaning of this passage, the Sabbath was held on the first day after the creation was ended,-held on this day by the Creator himself, and of course by the first parents of the human race in a state of innocency.
The reason assigned for the sanctification of the seventh day is, that God rested on that day from all his work which he created and made ; a reason surely not of a temporary or local nature, but extending to the whole human race alike. The ends of its insti. tution, as alluded to in this passage, a cessation from labour, a commemoration of the works of creation, together with other duties of devotion, are not less universal. We, therefore, infer that an ordinance
which was instituted immediately after the creation of the world, and for reasons and ends which have the same relation to all mankind, is of perpetual obligation. This conclusion is unavoidable, if it be admitted that the Sabbath was instituted at the beginning of the world.
Those writers, accordingly, who deny the moral obligation of the Sabbath, maintain that it was not instituted at the early period referred to, but that it had its origin when the law was given to the Jews. The chief reason by which they support this opinion, is the alleged silence respecting the observance of the day, previously to the gathering of manna in the wilderness.
This is, indeed, slender ground on which to found an argument; and were it not maintained by a writer of Paley's respectability, the time bestowed in noticing it would be idly employed. For, if there be no mention of the observance of the Sabbath during the patriarchal age, neither is it once mentioned in the histories of Joshua, the Judges, Samuel and Saul, that is, during a period of about five hundred years. It needs not surprise us, that in the brief notices recorded of the persons who lived between Adam and Moses, there should have been so great a silence concerning the Sabbath, since we know that things occurred during that period of which the sacred historian makes no mention. Have we not the best ground for believing that those sacrifices were first instituted in the antediluvian ages which typified the atoning sacrifice of the Redeemer; though as to the time and manner of their institution, we have no information ? Are we not assured by the Apostle Jude, that Enoch prophesied of the second coming of our Lord, with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly of their ungodly deeds; while, but for the testimony of this Apostle, the circumstance would have been altogether unknown to us?
We maintain, however, that there are allusions, both in the sacred and profane history of the period in question, to the institution of the Sabbath. There is a reference, as it appears to me, to the division of time into weeks, by the Sabbatical institution, in the conduct of Noah while in the ark. It came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made ; and he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; but the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came in to him in the evening; and lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf pluckt off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
And he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove, which returned not again unto him any more." I think it is manifest that the allusion here is to the hebdomadal cycle which God established immediately after his