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But of all time, Sabbath-time is the most precious, and should be redeemed with the greatest care, as that upon which our salvation depends in a peculiar manner. It is the time in which the Holy Spirit is especially at work for convincing, converting, and edifying the souls of men : it is the time set apart by Infinite Wisdon for the happiness of the creature, and the glory of the Creator: and therefore it is the business of every one to inquire. how this time is to be improven aright. Now, for their encoura, ement and assistance in this matter, I propose to insist chiefly upon two heads : 1. To evince the morality of the Sabbath, and the divine appointment of the Lord's day. 2, Give directions how to sanctify it aright.
Goncerning the morality of the Sabbath, and the divine
appointment of the Lord's day. In order to the handling of this subject the more clearly and inethodically, I shall, through the divine assistance, propose and resolve several questions relative to it.
Quest. 1. What is the proper signification and import of the name Sabbath, so commonly in use among us?
Answer. The name Sabbath is a Hebrew word, signifying rest, the Sabbath being a day of holy rest : and it is so called, because God hath enjoined us to rest this day from our earthly work and labour, that we may solemnly call to mind his resting from his works, both of creation and redemption ; publicly adore him therefore, solace our souls in his goodness, repose and rest in the arms of his mercy, and mediate upon that“ eternal rest which remains for the people of God," in the other world.
This being the true import and meaning of the word Sabbath, we still retain it, and commonly use it to signify the Lord's day, our Christian Sabbath.
There are some indeed who are offended at the retaining of the name Sabbath, under the New Testament times, pretending that it is properly Jewish; though in the mean
time they are fond of the words priest and altar, which are much more so. But it is surely a mistake to say, that the name Sabbath is Jewish, or peculiar to the Jews, and so not to be used by Christians: for we see the Lord gives it that mame in the moral law, which is of perpetual use, binding Christians as much as Jews : “ Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." So it was not the Jews, but the great God that gave the Sabbath its name. Nay, Christ aur Saviour doth, in the New Testament, call his own day by the name of Sabbath, Matt. xxiv. 20. 66 Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, nor on the Sabbath day.” Now it is evident,that our Lord doth there mean the Christian Sabbath, or his own day; for he is not only speaking to Christ. ians, but concerning the flight of Christians, which he knew was to fall out forty years after the Jewish Sabbath was abolished, and the Lord's day come into its place. Surely he would not bid Christians pray that their flight might not fall on the Jewish Sabbath, when he both forsaw, and intended, that then they would reekon themselves un. der no obligation to observe the Jewish Sabbath, nor under any restraint of fleeing or travelling on that day: (which even the Jews themselves believed at that time they might lawfully do in case of imminent hazard, as appears by the decree which they made relative thereto under the Has. monians) and therefore he must mean the Christian Sabbath, upon which he bids Christians pray their flight may not happen. Not that it was unlawful for them to flee or travel on that day in time of danger, but because it would be a great addition to their trouble, if their flight should happen at such a time as to deprive them of the opportun. ity of God's worship and ordinances.
It is of no weight, what is objected by some, that the Christians, who lived in Judea aniong the Jews, could not be allowed by them to travel on their Sabbath, and there. fore (say they) Christ bids them pray that their flight might not fall upon it. For, in the first place, The Jews not having the government then in their hands, they had no power of restraining or punishing of crimes. '2dly, The time which Christ speaks of was a time of war and confusion, occasioned by the Roman armies invading the land, when no notice could be taken of such cases as travelling on the Sabbath. Sdly, The most superstitious were
at that time put to flee and travel as well as the Christ. ians, which they then thought it lawful to do, as we told before. Fourthly, If Christ bad spoke so concerning the Jewish Sabbath, it had laid some foundation for Christians to fall into mistakes concerning the obligation of the Jewish Sabbath, and other ceremonies: which to be sure, our Lord would not have given them. And, if there had been any such occasion given, the Judaizing Christians would certainly have improven it against the apostles; which yet we do not find. Lastly, The learned Owen, Durham, Brown, and other writers on this subject, understand Christ as speaking in this place of the Christian sabbath.
But granting that the name Sabbath were indeed Jewish and improper (as some would have it,) yet I am sure it is still preferable to that of Sunday, which is truly heathenish, though commonly used by them in their liturgy, to the offence of many Christians : for it is well known that the heathen idolators called this day Sunday, because of their dedicating it to the created sun, wbich was the chief of their planetary gods they ordinarily worshipped, as may be gathered also from 2 Kings xxiii. 5. Ezek. viii. 16. And hence, some of the ancient heathens (of whom Tertuilian speaks) fancied that the sun was the God of the Christians, because they celebrated the first day of the week.
I know it is objected, that some of the primitive apologists for Christianity, as Justin Martyr and Tertullian, in their writings, call the Lord's day Sunday. But the rea. son of their so doing is plain ; they were writing to heathens, to whom the doctrines of Christianity and institution of the Lord's dai were things new and strange, and who would not have known what day they meant, if they had spoken of the Lord's day; and therefore hey call it by the name they gave it, Sunday: For when we treat with others, we must express things by the names that are coinmon and current among them, unless we intend to be barbarians to them.
But the primitive Christians did not use to call it Sun. day among themselves, but, conimonly, the Lord's day, not the Sabbath ; partly to distinguish it from the Jewish Sabbath that was so lately abolished, and partly to wean the Jewist converto the more effectualiy trom Judaism. But the true reason why some in this age seem to be offended at the word Sabbath, as being applied to the Lord's day, is, because they cannot allow of any thing that would infer an obligation upon them to keep such a strict holy rest upon the Christian Sabbath as the Jews did upon their Sabbath : but I will have occasion to speak of this afterwards.
I veed not stand long here, to shew the different significations of the word Sabbath among the Jews : only in a word, beside the seventh day of each week, or weekly Sabbath (which is the most ordinary acceptation of the word in scripture,) it is put also sometimes to signify a whole werk, because every week had a sabbath included in it, Lev. xxiii. 15. 6. Seven Sabbaths shall be complete,” i. e, weeks. The Pharisee saith, Luke xviii. 12. " I fast twice a week ;" orig. neusteuo dis tou Sabbatou. Likewise the word Sabbath is sometimes put to signify seven years. Lev. xxv. 8. 6 Thou shalt number unto thee seven Sabbaths of years," i. l. (as it is there explained) seven times seven years. Seven years was called among the Jews, a Sabbath of years, because their land rested from culture or busbandry every seventh year, in answer to the church's resting every seventh day. Hence it is said, Lev. xxv. 4. “The seventh year shall be a Sabbath of rest unto the land.” Besides this, they had their great sabbatical year, or Jubilee, which was every fiftieth year: For according to Lev. xxv. 9. they were to reckon seven Sabbaths of years, or seven times seven years, which is forty-nine, and then to observe their Jubilee, or sabbatical year. Lastly, The other sacred feasts wbich the Jews kept monthly or annually, are also called Sabbaths, in regard of their resting from labour on these days, as on the weekly Sabbath. Hence Lev. xxii. 24. the first day of the seventh month, which was their “ feast of trumpets," is called a Sabbath : but the weekly Sabbath is commonly called in Scripture, by way of eminence, the Sabbath ; to distinguish it from all other Sabbats. and give it the preference to all the other feasts of te Jews.
Quest. Il. For what ends hath God appointed a weekly Sabbath?
inswer 1. God hath appointed it for manifesting of his Own yior , and particulariy for displa, in bis sovereign power üüd auchurity over all his creatures. It must cers
tainly be a high acknowledgment of God's universal dominion and supremacy, to have all the world every week, on one day, lay aside their own business, that they may jointly worship him in a public and solemn manner.
2. He appointed the Sabbath for the benefit of his creatures, and particularly in compassion to fallen man; for he saw that man's heart would be glued to the world, so drenched in sensuality, that, were he left to himself, he would not allow one day in a month, nay in a year, for divine worship; but would have drudged himself, his servants and beasts, even to death in pursuit of worldly things, without minding any thing that is better. Wherefore a merciful God hath strictly commanded man to rest one day every week, from all worldly concerns, that thereby he might, in a manner, be laid under a necessity to mind his soul and the things of another world; and, in the mean time, the poor toiled beasts, as well as men's bodies, might have some rest and ease, for their preservation and support.
But more particularly, the Sabbath is designed for our soul's eterual welfare; in regard,
1. The Sabbath tends highly to our instruction, and to the keeping up the lively impressions of the truths of Christianity in our memories. The Sabbath recurring every week, doth still of new lay before us a compendious view of these essential doctrines. The creation of the world, man's fall, Christ's incarnation and satisfaction, his death, resurrection and victory, for completing our redemption : besides that glorious and eternal rest above, provided for the people of God.
2. It tends to promote holiness, spirituality, and heavenly mindedness, in us; and that in two ways. 1. By calling us from temporal to spiritual employment. Sensual objects through the week are ready to alienate our affections from God, and wear spiritual things out of our minds ; for recalling whereof, the Sabbath seasonably returns, and presents and entertains us with divine objects. 2. By affording us a lively emblem of heaven, and the conversation of the glorified saints,in celebrating that eternal Sabbath above. – For, as in heaven there is no buying, selling, por any worldly business, but a continual speaking of God, enjoying communion with him, aduring and praising him for ever, without any mixture of other affairs ; so the Lord will havé an emblem or representation hereof, as near as may be,