Imatges de pÓgina

which he commanded to a thousand generations, even the covenant which he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac, and hath confirmed the same to Jacob for a law and to Israel for an everlasting covenant." But what I wish particularly to bring under the notice of my readers, is the close connexion in the mind of the royal psalmist, between the ark, and the commandments, and the Gentiles. 23. "Sing unto the Lord all the earth, show forth from day to day his salvation; declare his glory among the heathen, his marvellous works among all nations. For the gods of the people are idols; but the Lord made the heavens. [Here is a particular reference to the fourth commandment.] Glory and honour are in his presence, [alluding, I should think, to the Divine glory and presence which descended upon the ark,] strength and gladness are in his place. Give unto the Lord, ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; bring an offering, and come before him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness; fear before him all the earth. Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let men say among the nations, the Lord reigneth." And he concludes, (verse 36,) "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel for ever and ever: and all the people said, Amen, and praised the Lord. So he left there before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, Asaph and his brethren, to minister. before the ark continually, as every day's work required.”

Acts xiii. 46: When St. Paul turned from the Jews to the Gentiles, he proclaimed to the latter from the Jewish Scriptures, the long-established purpose of God to call them (the Gentiles). "For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be the light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation to the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord." But to prove this point, it

is unnecessary to multiply quotations. Every reader of the New Testament must be satisfied in his own mind, that the apostles, both in the Acts and in the Epistles to the Gentiles, appeal to the Jewish Scriptures, as standard authority, by which the persons addressed should consider themselves bound, so far as those Scriptures could be shown to bear upon the gospel dispensation. Thus, in the Epistle to the Romans, (Gentiles,) St. Paul frequently appeals to the Jewish Scriptures: and in xv. 8, &c. is an argument that the revelation to the Jews was intended for the Gentiles; for "Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision." But

for what purpose? "To confirm the promises made unto the fathers." And what were those promises? "That the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy." If, then, our Lord was a minister of the Jewish dispensation for the purposes of fulfilling promises made to the fathers, but which belonged to the Gentiles, does it not follow that the Jewish revelation was intended for the Gentiles? This text also is a further proof, if more were necessary, that the covenant and the promises to Abraham were intended for all mankind.

Rom. xi. 24: St. Paul represents the Gentiles as graffed into a good olive-tree, and says, that "the root bears them, and not they the root." If they were ingrafted into the tree, what could that tree be but the former dispensation, from whence, as the root and parent stock, the ingrafted branch was to derive its sap and nourishment? But what nourishment could they derive from a dispensation, which, nationally considered, was now abolished, except the vital principle of its revelation preserved in the root and stem to be cir culated through the young and healthy branches, even after the old and fruitless branches had been cut off?

Rom. iii. 2: St. Paul considers it the chief advantage of the Jews, that unto them were committed the oracles of God.


The full force of the original does not appear in the words so translated. The verb LOTЄvoμaι used here means that something has been entrusted to particular persons for the benefit of others. The verb in this voice is used in five other places in the New Testament; and in all by the same apostle who applies it here: and from those passages we may gather its true meaning. 1 Cor. ix. 17, he says he was entrusted with the dispensation of the gospel. Gal. ii. 7, he says that the gospel of the uncircumcision was entrusted to him, and of the circumcision to Peter. 1 Thess. ii. 4, he was thought worthy to be entrusted with the gospel; and the same expression occurs again, 1 Tim. i. 11. And in Titus i. 3, preaching was entrusted to him. The true meaning of the word appears from all these passages, and the same must be the meaning in Rom. iii. 2. And the incontrovertible conclusion is, that the oracles of God were entrusted to the Jews for the benefit of others.

I conceive that I have abundantly proved that the decalogue, as a whole, is binding on Christians. This, one should think, ought to be sufficient proof with regard to any particular commandment. But some authors, who cannot shut their eyes to the general conclusion as to the whole, still take upon themselves, without any proof or warrant from Scripture, to cut out the fourth commandment as decayed, and gangrened, and rotten. I therefore come now to the consideration of the fourth commandment: and here more particularly I will endeavour to justify the title I have prefixed to this book, as The Scripture Account of the Sabbath.'



THE law of the sabbath was one of two laws instituted in the time of man's innocency; the one positive, the other negative or prohibitory: the one standing in place of the first table of the decalogue, the other in place of the second table. When man saw his Creator day by day, face to face, and loved him above all things, no commandment of the first table was necessary, except that for prayer and praise. When none of the relations of human society existed, no proof of obedience could be drawn from commandments founded upon those relations. Therefore another test of obedience was established.

The sabbath was the first of these two commandments. Gen. ii. 3: "And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God had created and made." I have proved that this law was given at the very time of the creation. I hope I have also refuted the proleptic argument of Heylyn and the Archbishop of Dublin, by which they would endeavour to pervert these plain words of Scripture. I have shown that at best their argument is a mere petitio principii, a mere begging of the question, without a shadow of proof, and, at the utmost, can only amount to a bare possibility of their interpretation being correct; but I have shown at the same time that the words in the fourth commandment will not even admit of that bare possibility, and are entirely untouched by their argument. I have also shown that there is no possible way in which we can conceive the

sabbath to have been sanctified and blessed, except by a command from God to man, to keep it holy, and dedicate it to the worship of his Creator. They attempt to build some little argument (some little hay and stubble) on the omission of any command to rest in this original commandment, which was afterwards so prominently put forward in the decalogue. But this very omission is a strong proof, in my mind, that this precept was given in paradise before the fall, when labour was unnecessary for the support of man; but afterwards, when man was to "eat bread in the sweat of his brow," a cessation from labour in one day of seven became necessary, and therefore was added.

The sabbath had no peculiar mark by which it could be known from other days, because it was not to be kept for its own sake. Our Saviour has given us a true key to the knowledge of the observance. "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." The sabbath, considered in itself, was nothing; but man was ordered to keep one day in seven on his own account. It having been blessed and hallowed, is the same as to say that man and his posterity were commanded to keep it holy. If, then, the sabbath was instituted in paradise, and necessary, notwithstanding daily converse with God, how much more was it necessary after the fall, when the knowledge of God was not preserved by daily converse; and how necessary is it even under the Christian dispensation!

Our Creator, who formed our souls and bodies, best knows the precise period of time during which we may be safely left to ourselves without danger of our forgetting him. He knows also the precise recurrence of time, within which it is necessary that our minds should be refreshed with divine knowledge, and renewed by prayer and communion with him. He has decided that one day in seven is the proper distance of time, and also the proper quantity.

« AnteriorContinua »