« AnteriorContinuar »
the Law," added because of transgression;" but the original Creation Sabbath, ordained before the fall of man, and probably retained by the Patriarchs in its festal character till the giving of the Law, To the Creation Sabbath we have inadvertently attached that character of bondage and restraint which was superinduced by the Mosaic Law; and have preposterously associated the rest from slavery in Egypt with God's rest from the work of creation, and with the “rest that remaineth for the people of God.” It is true, that, when God renewed the ordinance of the Sabbath at Sinai, he derived a fresh motive for its observance from having delivered the children of Israel from Egypt; saying (Deut. v. 15), "Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence, through a mighty hand and by a stretched-out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath-day:" but this did not destroy its original character, derived from creation, and retained in Exod. xx. 11: “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 Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” This, the original ordinance, derived from an universal motive, is binding upon every creature; and to despise it, is to rebel against the Creator: but the fresh motive, derived from deliverance out of Egypt, can only influence the people who were so delivered ; can only be local and national ; cannot be universal. The Mosaic Sabbath, as distinguished from the Creation Sabbath, must follow the other Mosaic laws: and as we found, in our last examination, that these laws were local and temporary, and their observance rendered impossible to the Jewish people now, banished from the land of Canaan, and without temple and priesthood and sacrifices; so we might dismiss this part of our argument by a reference to our last Number (p. 255). But the subject is of such importance, and is liable to such mistake, that we have thought it right to discuss it separately; and shall endeayour to shew, that the Creation Sabbath was festal and joyous in its design, typifying the rest and joy of the kingdom of heaven: that the Mosaic Sabbath was a part of the Law," added because of transgression, till the Seed should come" (Gal. iii. 19): and that the Christian Sabbath is a solemn feast-day, “a delight," "holy, and honourable,” the antepast of heaven, the first-fruits of the rest that remaineth for the people of God.”
The Sabbath of Creation was the conclusion of God's work, but it was the beginning of man's. Man's life began by devoting the first of his days to the best work--to the service of God. Man, the image of God and the head of creation, began his time by separating its first portion, at the command of God, to hold communion with him, and by leading the worship of creation to
Him for whose pleasure all things are and were created.
We mistake in the outset, when we regard the Sabbath as the end of a period, for it is in fact the beginning the contrast of the finished work, no part of it—the earnest of new joy. The work of creation finished on the sixth day; but the seventh day was Adam's first day, the first of his life, and the first day of the week in his reckoning and for all succeeding time. The rest, too, which the Sabbath was ordained to commemorate, was God's rest, not
and must be understood and observed with reference to God's work, not man's. The creation work of God was no servile toil, no weary exhaustion of creature power ; neither was sabbath rest the opposite of labour, nor the recruiting of wasted strength the proper end of its institution : these ideas were introduced by the sin and folly of man, and formed no part of the original appointment. Every work of God is a fresh display of himself: the completion of a work is the commencement of a manifestation in the finished work. The first Sabbath was God's creationday: his work exhibited conpleted, and all manifesting the true end of their being in the work of praising and glorifying their bountiful Creator. The first Lord's-day was God's redemptionday : Christ, having finished his work in flesh, then exhibited its completion in the new form of being, resurrection flesh; and began resurrection life in man, resurrection work in the church. And the first Millennial day shall be God's glorification-day ; when, resurrection work being finished in Christ and his members, their glorification work shall begin and never end.
God the Creator retains his right over all things, and claims a portion as his own for a testimony of his right. When the garden of Eden was planted, God reserved from Adam one of its trees; forbidding him to eat of its fruit, and proving that this tree at least was not made for the use of man, but for the higher end of shewing the purpose of God. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, he again shewed his sovereignty, by reserving the land of Canaan," the glory of all lands,” purposing therein to plant his people (Deut.xxxii. 8). And when, in process of time, he brought the children of Israel into this land, he claimed for himself the first-fruits of their increase in every kind, and the tenths of its produce, to be set apart for his service. In analogy with all this, the Lord God had at the beginning blessed, and sanctified, and dedicated to his service, the first day of man's life, and every succeeding seventh day till time shall cease and eternity begin *.
* Nec docet natura ut potius die ultimo, quam primo, Deo vacetur; quod si naturæ relinquendum esset, natura ipsa potius dictaret suo lumine, primo die, et non ultimo, esset Deo vacandum : et sic potius dies Dominicus, qui est primus, quam dies Sabbati, qui esť ultimus, fuisset præscribendus; nam primitiæ sunt Deo tribuendæ, et a Deo incipiendum est.
The Creation Sabbath was the firstling of Adam's time, the first and best of his days, his prime of vigour, energy, and joy ; devoted to the ALL-GOOD ONE, whose perfect image he bare, with all the freshness of new being, and the entire singleness and concentration of a soul undistracted by care, unassailed by sin, unwearied by toil : he rejoiced before the Lord his God with all his heart, and mind, and soul, and strength. And as the Sabbath was set apart, and sanctified, and blessed, not only to commemorate the finished creation, but to typify the Christian and the Millennial Sabbaths, which mark the completion of redemption and new creation (John v. 17; Heb. iv. 4); so must the antitypes answer in character to the type : and we take not the right view of the Christian Sabbath, and “the rest which remaineth for the people of God,” when we merely contrast them with the Fall and its consequences; when we content ourselves with excluding sin and sorrow from intrusion, and enter not into the glorious contemplation of our privileges and our joys. The Sabbath of which we treat is not mere peace, but it is joy : it cannot, therefore, resemble any bondage to a ritual, or slavery of duty, or meritorious drudgery; still less can it be considered as idle vacancy, or gloomy self-denial, or Rabbinical penance-work: these notions are the sinful consequences of the Fall, or the ridiculous inventions of man; and their intrusion prevents the mind from entering with commensurate fulness of affection and concentration of faculty on the primary, proper, and ultimate end of the Sabbath, which is, to hold communion with God at his own time and in his own way, to attune body, soul, and spirit for the blissful intercourse with the Father of love, the Source of all good and of all joy. Even under the bondage of the Law, this primary, this proper service of God is retained,
and the people are commanded to rejoice before the Lord their God (Deut. xxvi. 11; xxvii.7): and the true character of our Sabbath is declared by the Prophets, saying “ to the sons of the stranger that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord; every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer” (Isai. lvi. 6, 7); and again, “ If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a Delight, The holy of the Lord, Honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord” (Isai. lviii. 13, 14).
The change of dispensation to the Jews, and the new covenant under which they shall be brought on their final restoration to the land promised to the fathers, is continually implied in all those prophecies which speak of times yet future. They had a continual memorial of the deliverance from Egypt in their feasts and various ordinances of Moses, and many of them were given for this sole end; but a future time is spoken of, when they shall no more say, The Lord liveth which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth which brought up the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country,” &c. (Jer. xxiii, 7, 8; xvi. 14, 15; xxiv. 5; xxxii. 37). But the change of the deliverance to be commemorated requires a change in the memorials, one of the chief being the Sabbathday (Deut. v. 15). And that the change of the Sabhath was made by our Lord, is shewn by his teaching it to be made for man, and not man for the Sabbath ; by his styling himself Lord of the Sabbath day (Matt. xii. 8); by his continually disregarding the Mosaic Sabbath (Matt. xii. ; Mark ii. 23; Luke vi., &c.); by his resurrection, frequent appearances to his disciples, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, on the first day of the week, hence called the Lord's-day ;-events in the Christian church more memorable and important in the spiritual life, than the double portion of manna, which fixed the Jewish Sabbath, was in the history of the Jews (Matt. xxvi. 61; xxvii. 63, comp. John xx. 25: see Matt. xxviii. 9; Luke xxiv. 15, 25, 26; John xx. 14, 19, 20; Acts ii. 1, 42, 46; xx. 6, 7; 1 Cor. v. 4; xvi. 12; Rev. i. 10). “Declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. i. 4). But the restoration of the Jews is called their resurrection, Ezek. xxxvii. 12; and being not only the type, but the accompaniment, of the resurrection of the saints, and effected by Him who has already become the first-fruits of them that slept (1 Cor. v. 7; xv. 20); all together shall keep the one, the original, the eternal Sabbath, in remembrance of their Creator, their Redeemer, their Restorer, and their everlasting Strength. “This is the day which the Lord hath made; wherein we are invited to rejoice and be glad” (Psa. cxviii. 24): when the Stone which the builders refused shall become the head-stone of the corner; when the house is no longer left desolate, but Israel, at Jerusalem, shall say, “ Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Psa. cxviii. 26, Matt. xxiii. 39); when Jah, who is the Strength and the Song of his people, becomes their Salvation also; and the right hand of the Lord is exalted (Exod. xv. 2; Isai. xii. 2 ; xxvii. 3).
The Sabbath at its first institution had reference to God alone, who hallowed and blessed the day: to Adam it was a delight, and therefore a privilege rather than a duty, or a duty which he needed no command to perform, but desired and enjoyed. Under the Law every thing took the form of a duty, and was enforced by command; its institutions having reference to man as well as to God : and the Sabbath now became a command, affecting our conduct, not only towards God, but towards
son, and daughter, and man-servant, and maid-servant, and cattle, and stranger within the gates, that they may rest also. And in this, its reference to man, the command is enforced by saying, “ Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt” (Deut. v. 15). The Mosaic Sabbath having this twofold reference-the former an universal character, the latter a local one; the former applicable to all men, the latter only to the bondsmen of Egypt-we, as Christians, and belonging to an universal and not a local dispensation, are bound by the general law, and not by that which is local. In following out this inquiry we shall find, that in as far as the Sabbath is Mosaic, so far it is local, and cannot be kept out of “the land :" that it is not only vain, but degrading and sinful, for Christians to keep the Jewish Sabbath : and that the Jews themselves shall, when restored to their land, keep the Sabbath on the first day of the week, and not on the seventh.
It is obvious at once, that every religious ordinance connected with the Jewish Sabbath is rendered impracticable by the destruction of the temple and priesthood, and the consequent abolition of sacrifices; but it is as clear, though not so obvious, that all the prohibitory commands, and all the minor observances of the Mosaic Sabbath, are rendered impossible by banishment from the land ; and the attempt of the Jews to keep them in other countries, is either an ignorant substitution of Rabbinical superstitions for the commands of God, or hypocritical mockery. The Law forbad work of any kind, and kindling of fire and dressing their food, and journeying, except to and from the synagogue : forbad it to them, to their servants, to the stranger within their gates. The time of the Sabbath, again, cannot be fixed in any other country : for the Law required that it should be kept from evening to evening (Lev. xxiii. 32); but in northern and southern latitudes there is no evening for some months in the year; and as the longitude varies, the evening of necessity changes, at the rate of an hour in every fifteen degrees ; and the Jews, during the dispersion in different countries, are, in fact, keeping their Sabbath at every variety of time between Friday morning and Sunday evening : and if a Jew should travel eastward round the globe, keeping his Sabbath regularly on the same day, he would find on arriving at Jerusalem that he had thrown back his Sabbath a whole day, and would be keeping it on Friday; and another travelling westward, would, in like manner, throw it forward, and find himself keeping it on Sunday. The Sabbath is cursive, according to change of longitude.
But that which is merely vain and impracticable in a Jew, is degrading and sinful in a Christian ; degrading, as a desertion of our high Christian calling, an abandonment of the freedom of the Gospel, and a bondage to the beggarly elements of the