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unalterably, set apart for holy uses, consecrated for my holy service. This argument is moral, and perpetually obliges all men, Christians as much as Jews. For, if a day in seven be dedicated to God, certainly every part of it. yea, the whole of it, belongs to him; and to alienate any part of it to our own use or pleasures, is sacrilege, and a direct infringement of the morality of the fourth command. The Lord tells us, Levit. xxvii. 28. "That every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord." Here is a day both by God and man, solemnly and perpetually devoted to the Lord; and accordingly the Lord, Isa Iviij. 13. asserts his just right and title to it, and twice in one breath calls it his holy day, and, upon this account, prohibits carnal recreations upon it. And must it not be great presumption for any creature, to venture deliberately to rob his Creator of his just property, and put that which is holy, and solemnly consecrated to God, to common use? Remember what Solomon says, Prov. xx. 25. "It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy, and after vows to make inquiry:" It is a snare, i. e. it is a most dangerous thing, it brings heavy guilt, even God's curse and vengeance, upon the man that doth so. Thus you see how the morality and unalterable reasons of the fourth command restrain Christians from carnal recreations on the Sabbath, as much as the Jews. The standing and perpetual rule, which God hath there laid down, can never be altered to the world's end: still God hath one day, and man hath six ; but if we take any part of God's day to our own use, more than the works of necessity and mercy require, then we have more than our six, and God hath less than his one, which is contrary to the command. Moreover, if it be in the power of man to alienate any part of this day from God, why not the whole of it ? and so the Sabbath might come to be wholly abolished, which is absurd.
Object. 1. "The memory of Christ's resurrection on the Lord's day, calls us to more joy and gladness upon our Sabbath than the Jews were called to upon theirs.”
Ans. This says nothing for carnal sports or recreations. It is not a worldly joy, but a spiritual joy that we are called to this day; such a joy as is expressed in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Again, if our mercies be this day greater than those the Jews had to commemorate, then we
are in gratitude obliged to a more strict and holy sanctification of the day, to the honour and glory of the God and fountain of our mercies; which, I believe, no serious Christian will think carnal recreations very consistent with.
Object. 2. "But these recreations are no where forbiden in the New Testament."
Ans. It is sufficient if they be forbidden in the Old Testament; for the Old Testament is our rule as much as the New, in actions which are moral, or not ceremonial; and I see not what shadow of ground there is for calling abstinence from carnal pleasures on the Sabbath, a thing cere monial, or less binding upon us than the Jews. But moreover, if we compare the 58th chapter of Isaiah with the 56th, it will manifestly appear, that the Lord, in enjoining his people strictly to observe the Sabbath, and abstain from carnal pleasures thereon, hath a respect to gospel times after the Messiah's coming. Isaiah was a most evangelical prophet, and still had the gospel-times in his eye; wherefore some call him the Evangelist Isaiah: so that in recommending Sabbath sanctification, and calling the Sabbath God's holy day, he doth not confine himself to the Jewish Sabbath, which was soon to be abolished; but hath an eye to the evangelical Sabbath, which was to continue to the end of the world.
Again, this is confirmed by the practice of the primitive Christians they thought it unlawful to spend any part of the Lord's day in unnecessary diversions from holy things; yea, they accounted the strict sanctification of this day the prime character of a true saint. Augustine saith, "It is not enough that we keep three or four hours of this day, but that we observe the whole day." The ancient Christians did not think the work of the day was over, when the public worship was ended. The younger Pliny tells us, That they used this day to meet before day-light, and sing their hymns to Christ." And Tertullian, in his apology, makes mention of their night prayers. They thought, themselves bound to begin the work of the day so early, because Christ rose this morning before the break of day. They neither thought nor pleaded that they had more freedom for worldly pleasures, or were less obliged to holy exercises this day, than the Jews upon their Sabbath.
Nay, if we consider things narrowly, it will be found,
that Christians are under greater obligations to a strict and holy sanctification of the Sabbath under the gospel, than the Jews were under the law, for several reasons.
1. We have not only the creation, as the Jews had, but we have also the redemption of mankind, which is a greater work, this day to commemorate. Now, if the Jews were obliged to celebrate the day which was instituted for the memory of the creation, by a total abstinence from worldly employments and recreation; much more are we bound to a strict sanctification of the day which is instituted for commemorating of both creation and redemption. We have far greater mercies to commemorate this day than the Jews had, viz. "The redeeming love of a crucified Jesus, and his glorious victory over death and hell ;" and consequently have greater work and employment, and ought to be the more active and busy in doing of it; and also more delightful work, and therefore should be the less inclined to weary or sit up in it.
2. We have a far more pleasant and excellent manner of worship to perform upon the Sabbath, than the Jews had. This worship was attended with manifold rites, washings, and sacrifices, which were both chargeable and toilsome to their bodies; but ours is spiritual, pleasant and
S. The Jews had many other festival days to observe, by a strict and holy rest, beside the Sabbath; but, under the gospel, God hath freed us from the yoke of all other festi vals, and hath instituted none but the Lord's day, which. in gratitude, we ought to observe more stirctly and religi ously than the Jews.
4. By baptism, we come under more strict and solemn engagements to keep God's commandments, than the Jews, and also we have more special promises of his Spirit to help us in keeping of them, than the Jews had; for, in the New Testament times, the Spirit is poured out in a larger measure than in the Old.
So that from the whole I infer, that if the Jews under the Old Testament were bound to keep the whole Sabbath day, and wholly to abstain from their own pleasures upon it, yea, count the service of the Sabbath a delight, according to Isa. Ivii. 13. though in itself it was burdensome: much more ought we, under the gospel, to keep the whole Sab
bath strictly, and call it a delight, when the work and service of it is so pleasant and easy.
II. Another argument which I shall bring against the foresaid Sabbath day's recreations, shall be taken from the nature and greatness of the Sabbath day's work; and I shall form it thus:
If the work of the Sabbath be so necessary, weighty, and various, that it requires the whole day to be spent therein, and challenges all our soul's faculties to be employed there. about; then carnal recreations are unlawful thereupon:
But the former is true; therefore, &c.
The connexion of the Major proposition is evident; for, that which is weighty and necessary ought always to take place of that which is not so.
As for the minor proposition, that the work of the Sab. bath is so great and necessary, it is plain, if we consider that the Sabbath is the great market day of heaven; upon which we ought to take in and lay up provision for our souls for the rest of the week, yea, for eternity itself. It is the usual day of sinners' conversion and acquaintance with God: It is the day wherein we have our sins to be wail, our needs to get supplied, our hard hearts to get melted, our dead affections to get raised, our guilty conscience to get disburdened, our dark minds to get enlightened, our weak graces to get strengthened. We have this day God's word to teach our families, our children to instruct, Christ's love to commemorate, death and judgment to provide for, and our Redeemer to treat with about the saving of our souls. In a word, this is a day wherein we are to make visits to God. and receive visits from him. Now, I do appeal to every serious soul that knows any thing of real godliness, if these things be not so weighty and necessary as to challenge the whole of the day, and the attendance of all our powers and faculties: and if so, then we are bound carefully to avoid every thing that may prove an avocation or diversion from doing them.
III. Another argument may run thus:
If the worldly circumstances of the generality be such as they can have but little time through the week for wor shipping God, minding their souls, and preparing for eternity; then it is their duty closely and diligently to employ
the Lord's day for these ends, in which God grants them freedom for the same:
But the former is true; therefore, &c.
The connexion of the major proposition is certain; for, if our whole lives be little enough for accomplishing the great work of our salvation, the seventh day. or seventh part of our time, is never to be thought too much.
And for the truth of the minor proposition, that the circumstances of the generality are such as above represented, I do appeal to the experience of the whole country where we live. How many poor men are there every where, tradesmen, tenants, servants, workmen, &c whose worldly poverty and necessities are so great and many, that they can scarce get so much spare time from their work and labour through the week, as is sufficient for eating and sleeping? They are commonly so toiled through the day, that at night they are hardly fit for any thing but sleep. Now what time have these through the week for holy duties and religious exercises? What time for reading and praying, and learning the principles of Christianity ? But since God is graciously pleased to give them the Sabbath, in which they may retire from the world, and employ themselves wholly in the foresaid religious concerns; have they not the greatest need, closely and diligently to spend and improve the whole Sabbath therein, without any kind of unnecessary diversion from the same.
Are there not many poor servants, whose masters are so severe, that they will not allow them half an hour in a day to serve God, or mind their souls; and should they not greedily lay hold on the opportunity of the Sabbath for these ends, and let no part of this blessed day pass away idly? Now, for ministers or others to tell such, that the whole Sabbath day is too long for the foresaid spiritual exercises, and teach them to spend away part of it in carnal recreations or idleness, in my opinion, is a most compendious way to promote atheism, ignorance and profanity amongst them. And doth not daily experience confirm this sad truth? Do we not see, that profaning the Sabbath opens a door to all profanity? and that in those places where people neglect the Sabbath, or spend the half of the day in recreations and idleness, there ignorance and immorality of all sorts abound, and family worship and piety are neglected; where