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to be a day of public worship; a day, on which the gates of righteousness were to be opened, and the Righteous, or the Church as a body, were to enter them, and on which the ministers of the Gospel were to bless them, (in the Jewish language, or language of the Temple service) out of the house of the Lord; or in language adapted to the Christian manner of worship, in the house of the Lord. The substance of this comment is beautifully given by Dr. Walls in the two following stanzas.
4. Christ has indicated, that the Seventh day should cease to be the Sabbath after his resurrection.
In Matthew ix. 14, we are informed, that the disciples of John came to him, and inquired of him why his disciples did not fast, as well as themselves, and the Pharisees. Christ replied, Can the children of the bride-chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast. Christ was crucified, and buried, on Friday. At the close, then, of this day he was taken from the children of the bride-chamber; that is, from his disciples. Throughout Saturday he lay in the grave. On the first day of the week, the Christian Sabbath, he was restored to them again. This, then, became to them the proper season of fasting, according to his own declaration. But the Sabbath was a festival from the beginning. Such it continues to be unto the end. That it was to be such to the Christian Church is amply proved by the passage, formerly quoted from Is. lvi. 6, 7, and from the express declarations, just now quoted from the 118th Psalm. Fasting on this day can, therefore, never accord with its original and universal design. But on the seventh day, the day during which he lay in the grave, as he informs us, it was proper that they should fast. In this declaration it is indicated, not obscurely, that the seventh day would soon cease to be a season, fitted for the observance of the Sabbath.
It must be obvious to the least reflection, that this season of Christ's extreme humiliation is the most improper period conceivable for commemorating, with joy and gladness, the wonderful work of Redemption. Every thing, in this season, must appear to a Christian to demand humiliation and mourning, rather than exultation. During this period the enemies of Christ prevailed against him; and the Serpent, according to the first prophecy ever given
concerning him to this world, bruised his heel. To rejoice on this day would be to lay hold on the time of our Saviour's greatest sufferings, and deepest humiliation, as the proper season for our greatest exultation. This, certainly, was not the conduct of the Apos.tles. They mourned in the most melancholy and distressing manner. Nor do they appear ever to have regarded the Seventh day, afterwards, as the holy, joyful rest of God. On the contrary, they transferred this festival to another day.
5. The Apostles, by their examples, have decisively taught us, that the day of Christ's Resurrection was to be the Christian Sabbath.
On the first day of the week, the day of his resurrection, Christ met his disciples, assembled together. On the first day of the week following, he met them, again assembled together. On the first day of the week, at the feast, called Pentecost, the Spirit descended in a miraculous and glorious manner upon the Apostles. On the first day of the week, the disciples assembled together customarily, to break bread, and to make charitable contributions for their suffering brethren. From the three first of these facts, it is plain that Christ thought fit to honour this day with pecul iar tokens of his approbation. From the last, that the Apos tles thought themselves warranted to devote it to religious pur
I have already shown above, and sufficiently, that God has absolutely prohibited all men, under severe denunciations, and with terrible expressions of his anger, either to form Religious Institu tions, or to substitute their own Institutions for his. It is clearly impossible, that the Apostles, who have taught us this very doctrine, should, under the influence of Inspiration, disobey him in this interesting particular by forming so remarkable a Religious Institution; abolishing that of God; and substituting their own in its place. Nothing is more evident to me, than that this example has all the weight, which can be attached to any precept whatevThis will especially appear, if we remember, that Peter with the eleven Apostles celebrated the first day of the week, and that Paul and his followers did the same. Paul received his Gospel immediately from Christ; and informs us in Galatians i. 2, that the Apostles at Jerusalem added nothing to him. For three years he never saw one of them; and had not the remotest correspondence with them. All the doctrines therefore, which Paul acknowledged, he received directly from Christ; and was indebted for none of them to his companions in the Apostleship. Yet Peter and his followers observed the first day of the week as the religious day; and Paul and his followers observed the same. This s evident from his direction to the Churches at Galatia and Corinth to lay by them somewhat on the first day of the week, for the poor Saints at Jerusalem. The reason, why the first day of the week is pitched upon for this purpose, is obviously this: that they
assembled customarily on the first day of the week for religious purposes. Accordingly, in Acts xx. 7, we are informed, that the disciples in Troas came together on the first day of the week, to break bread; and that Paul preached unto them, continuing his speech until midnight. But whence did these persons, thus separated, derive this agreement in their observance of the first day of the week? The only answer, which can be given to this question, is, From the Inspiration which guided them both. Had they been uninspired; their agreement in a case of this nature, where they acted independently of each other, would have proved, that they derived the doctrine, and the practice grounded on it, from a common source. Their character as inspired men, and Apostles, proves beyond debate, that the common source, from which they thus harmoniously derived a religious Institution, was God.
6. The same doctrine is proved from the already cited passage, Rev. i. 10; I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day.
From this declaration it is evident, that in, or about the year 96, when the Apocalypse was written and published, there was a day, known, and observed, by Christians, generally, as the Lord's day. This appellation was, I presume, derived from the passage, before quoted from the 118th Psalm. In which it is said concerning the day of Christ's resurrection, This is the day, which the Lord hath made: that is, hath made of a common into a holy day; or, in other words, consecrated to himself. But the day, pointed out in this passage, is the day on which Christ rose from the dead.
That this was in fact, the day, styled by St. John the Lord's Day, is unanswerably evident from the history of the Church: and it is equally evident, that the Sabbath, or holy rest, together with all the religious services pertaining to it, were celebrated by the Church on this day. Every one, who has read with attention the New Testament, must have observed, that there is no hint, as well as no precept, directing Christians to celebrate the seventh day as holy time. The ancient Christians, particularly the Jewish Christians, when they had occasion to preach to the Jews, or to ble with them, entered into their synagogues on the seventh day, and undoubtedly worshipped with them in their manner; but there is not the least reason to believe, either from the Acts, or from the Epistles, that they ever assembled of their own accord, on that day, for religious services, in a regular, or customary
Ignatius, a companion of the Apostles, says, in so many words, "Let us no more sabbatize;" that is, keep the Jewish Sabbath, "but let us keep the Lord's day, on which our Life arose."
Justin Martyr, who lived at the close of the first and the beginning of the second century, says, "On the day, called Sunday, is an assembly of all, who live in the city or country; and the memoirs of the Apostles, and the writings of the Prophets," that is,
the Old and New Testament, "are read." For this he assigns the reasons of the Christians; viz. " that it was the day on which the Creation of the world began, and on which Christ arose from the dead."
Irenæus, a disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of St. John himself, who lived in the second century, says, "On the Lord's day every one of us, Christians, keeps the Sabbath; meditating in the law," or Scriptures," and rejoicing in the works of God."
Dyonysius, Bishop of Corinth, who lived in the time of Irenæus, that is, in the second century, says in his letter to the Church at Rome, "To-day we celebrate the Lord's day, when we read your Epistle to us.""
Tertullian, who also lived in the second century, speaks of the Lord's day as a Christian solemnity.
Petavius declares, that "but one Lord's day was observed in the earliest times of the Church."
It is indeed true, that in that miserable forgery, which professes itself to have been written by the Apostles, and is styled, The Apostolical Constitutions; but which was plainly the work of some impostor, living in the latter end of the fourth, or the beginning of the fifth, century, certainly not earlier, it is directed, that Christians should keep both the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord's day, as religious festivals; and that every Sabbath, but one, in the year, and every Lord's day, should be observed in this manner. It is also true, that, in the fifth century, both these days were kept in this manner by Christians generally, except the Churches of Rome, and Alexandria; who did not observe the Jewish Sabbath as a religious day. This appears by the testimony of both Socrates and Sozomen. Concerning this subject Petavius declares, that "the most holy fathers agreed, that the Apostles never ordained any thing of this nature." He also remarks, that the council of Laodicea, which probably sat about the year 363, forbade in their 29th canon, that Christians should rest from labour on the Sabbath or Seventh day. For they say, "Christians ought not to Judaize, nor to rest on the Sabbath, that is, the seventh day; but preferring the Lord's day, to rest, if indeed it should be in their power, as Christians."*
From these observations it is plain, that, although in the fifth century many Christians had reverted to the observation of the Jewish Sabbath, while yet they universally celebrated the Lord's day; yet the practice, even in this period of miserable declension, was by no means universal. The Churches of Rome and Alexandria never adopted it at all; and others plainly adopted it, as they did a great multitude of other corruptions at the same time, merely from their own construction of the Scriptures. We can
not wonder at those, especially when we find among them celebrated ministers of religion, who admitted the protection and invo cation of Saints and Martyrs, should admit any other corruption; and that they should construe those passages of Scripture, which speak of the Sabbath, as erroneously as they construed
7. The same truth appears in this great fact; that God has perpetually and gloriously annexed his blessing to the Christian Sabbath.
If this day be not divinely instituted; then God has suffered his Church to disuse, and annihilate, his own Institution, and substitute one, of mere human device, in its stead. Will this be believed? But this is not all: he has annexed the blessing, which he originally united to the Sabbath, instituted by himself, to that, which was the means of destroying it, and which was established by human authority merely. After requiring, that men should add nothing to his words, and forbidding them to diminish ought from them; after threatening the plagues, denounced in the Scriptures, to him, who should add unto the words which they contain; and declaring, that he would take away out of the book of life the part of him, who should take away from the words written in the Scriptures: can any man believe, that he would forsake, that he has forsaken, his own Institution; an Institution of this magnitude; an Institution, on which have depended, in all lands and ages, the observation, influence, and existence, of his holy Law? Can any man believe, that He who so dreadfully punished Nadab and Abihu for forsaking his own Institution, in a case of far inferior magnitude, and setting up one of their own in its stead, would not only not punish, but abundantly and unceasingly bless, the Christian Church, while perpetrating, and persisting in, iniquity, of exactly the same nature, and far greater in degree? The Christian, who can believe this, must be prepared to believe any thing.
Had men known nothing concerning the Institution of God; the charity of their fellow-men might be naturally enough extended to them, while employed in religiously commemorating Christ's resurrection. The appearance of piety in such a commemoration, and their freedom from the impiety of intruding upon a divine Institution, might induce others to think favourably of their conduct. But in the case in hand, the Institution was begun by the Apostles; men inspired; chosen followers of Christ; and the erectors of his kingdom in the world. If they sinned, they sinned wilfully, and in defiance of their inspiration. With them, however, the blessing began to be annexed to this day in a most wonderful and glorious manner. From them it has been uninterruptedly continued to the present time. To this day, under God, as a primary mean, mankind are indebted for all the Religion, which has been in the world from the days of the Apostles. If, then, the Christian Sabbath is not a divine Institution; God has made a device of man