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The Sanctification of the Lord's Day.
Rev. i. 10. I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day.
IT is allowed by all who believe there is a God, that he ought to be worshipped. If he is to be worthipped, there must, from the nature of things, be fome time appropriated for this purpose. To grant that a duty must be done, and no time allotted for its performance, involves in it an impoffibility. Wherefore it is abfolutely certain that God must be worshipped by all his rational creatures, and they must have a due proportion of time for this high and important end. And can time be better employed than by prayer, homage, adoration and praise to our Creator, preferver and benefactor. The question is not, whether there be a God, whether divine worship should be given to him, and whether a portion of time fhould be allowed for this purpofe, but what is that season or portion of time, which ought to be designated or set apart for this folemn or grand defign. Here the reafon and investigation of man must be nonpluffed. Whether a fifth, fixth, or eighth, or any other divifion of time would be a proper pro
portion must far tranfcend his enquiries. Here where the light of nature muft fail, divine revelation has given us infallible direction. God has been pleased to correct all the wan dering conjectures of men, and appoint one day in feven to be feparated for his fpecial fervice and to be kept holy to himself; and this has the honor confered upon it in our text of being ftiled the Lord's day. It is alfo faid St. John was in the Spirit on this day. This may be predicated of him both in an extraordinary, and in an ordinary manner. He was in the Spirit as he was under the influence of a divine efflatus, or a fupernatural infpiration, affording him all the glorious truths and grand visions recorded in this facred book. Or he was in the Spirit in an ordinary way, as is common with christians, who have pleasure in God, delight in his worship; who have holy exercises of heart, and are in proper frames of mind.
All that can be attended to at present on this fubject will be briefly to fhow,
First, that God has appointed a feventh part of time for the high and important duties of religious worship, of public adoration, homage and praise.
Secondly, confider the manner in which this appropriated and fanctified time ought to be employed.
As to the firft, it is abundently apparent from the whole of divine revelation. This world may with propriety be divided into two epochs or grand periods. The one from creation to a ftill more wonderful and greater event, to wit, The completion of the redemption of man in the humiliation and refurrection of the Son of God. That perfon of the Trinity, who was the diftinguifhed agent in caufing the exiftence of this world, was and will forever be the meft pre-eminently dif
tinguished perfonage in its recovery from the most perfect and abfolute ruin. The perfections of Godhead were fpicuously displayed in the ftupendous works of creation. Here almighty power, inconceiveable wifdom, and incomprehenfible goodness fhone forth with infinite luftre; but when the work of redemption was performed, all thefe perfections burft forth with fuperior fplendor, and a multitude of others which never could have been conceived but by its glories. In the former exhibition the angels of God fang together for joy, the latter they look into with an astonishment at the wonders of God far tranfcending their conceptions and their praife. In this display of the extenfion and plenitude of divine attributes the great minds of cherubic and feraphic mil lions are loft and absorbed. All heaven is ftruck mute at the exhibited Godhead in the falvation of man.
Both thefe great periods are illuftrated by an appropriation of a feventh portion of time, for the worship of this great Creator, and this glorious Redeemer. For the firft, the seventh day from the creation was appointed for the commemoration of the fame, and other adventitious circumftances which arofe in the church throughout that grand era of more than four thousand years; for the fecond, the first day of the week has been affigned as a memorial of Christ and his refurrection for the recovery of ruined man, and which will be continued till worlds and time shall be no mɔre.
First, the Sabbath from the creation to the Refurrection of Chrift was the feventh day of the week. Thus we read, "on "the feventh day God ended his work which he had made " and God bleffed the feventh day and fanctified it." Here the day after God had finished all his works, and the first day, of man's existence was fet apart for holy purposes. It is pronounced, bleffed and fanctified. Not that there was any more
holiness infused into this portion of time than any other. No irrational creature is capable of inherent holiness. This is the exclufive property of beings intellectual and immortal. Yet common existences have been appointed, bleffed and confecrated of God to promote the holiness and happiness of the rational fyftem. Thus the tabernacle was holy, the temple holy, all their utenfels holy, &c. that is, they were fet apart for religious purposes; fo the seventh portion of time from the beginning was fanctified and blessed by God for the purpose of Special, divine and public worship.
This was the ufage from the creation to Noah, and from that period to Mofes by the flender intimations we have in thefe patriarchal ages. We read, that in process of time, Cain and Abel brought their offerings to the Lord. The tranflation is here vague and uncertain. The original is clear and diftinct, "In the end of the days, or on the last of the days," that is on the laft day of the week, or on the Sabbath, they brought their respective offerings, and worfhipped God. This affures us that a Sabbath was obferved among the children of Adam.
It is evident that in the days of Noah one reckoning of time was by weeks. In his long and dark confinement in the Ark, he sent out a Dove which returned, and after feven days fent her forth again, and the returned with an olive leaf in her mouth; and after feven days he fent her out again and fhe returned no more. This hiftory inftructs us, that in Noah's time, days were numbered by sevens, or there were then weeks. And the awful folemnity of the circumftances in which Noah and his family were, muft point out to us a patient waiting for the facred days, which could be none other than the Sabbaths they had been accuftomed to obferve.
Before I proceed further on this fubject, allow me to remark, that fome learned names have contended, that the first day of the week from man's creation was the Sabbath till the giving of the law from mount Sinai. Folio pages of Bedford and others have been expended upon this subject, but their great labours have had only a feeble influence in the conviction of chriftians, and the great end defigned by thefe good men, has been rather injured than aided by their toils. The undoubted fact is that the feventh day of the week was the Sabbath from the creation to the promulgation of the Sinai law; and from that period to the refurrection of the Saviour there has been no difpute about the day.
It is evident the feventh day of the week was observed for facred purposes as a standing usage in the church previous to the awful folemnities of the communications from the Arabian mountains.
When the church of God was wandering in the wilderness, between Egyptian flavery and the promised land, and were miraculouly fed with Manna from heaven, they were appoint ed twice as much bread on the fixth day of the week as any other. Notwithstanding this, fome defpifers of the Sabbath, which has been the cafe in all ages, went out on the seventh day to look for the usual bread, and not finding it, received a fevere rebuke for their disobedience and profanity, and the injunction for the obfervation of the Sabbath was repeated to
"God gave you on the fixth day the bread of two “days; abide ye every man in his place. Let no man go "out of his place on the feventh day; fo the people rested on "the feventh day." Thus it is certain it was to be fanctified and kept holy before the giving of the law. When this grand event took place, the obfervation of the Sabbath was inferted in the decalogue with a peculiar defcription. From that time to the commencement of the next great era of the world, it is