« PreviousContinue »
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 feventh portion of time from the beginning was fan&tified 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 distinct, “In the end of the days, or on the laft of the days," that is on the last 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 fent out a Dove which returned, and after seven days fent her forth again, and she returned with an olive leaf in her mouth; and after seven days he fent her out again and fle returned no more. This history inftructs us, that in Noah's time, days were numbered by sevens, or there were then weeks. And the awful folemnity of the circumstances 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 fubject, 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 seventh 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 ufage 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 miraculously 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 despisers of the Sabbath, which has been the cafe in all ages, went out on the seventh day to look for the ufual bread, and not finding it, received a fevere rebuke for their difobedience 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
allowed by all to be attended to by the church. This appears from the numerous directions refpecting it, throughout the writings of Mofes and the Prophets, a detail of which would far exceed our prefent limits.
When Chrift arofe from the dead the fame proportion of time was ftill continued for the private and public exercises of religion, but the day was changed from the feventh to the first, which will and must be observed in commemoration of his refurrection, the most astonishing event that ever took place in this world, or can to the end of time.
This change is demonftrated from the following confiderations.
Firft, on the very day our Lord had arifen, the difciples affembled together in the evening, and it is faid with a peculiar emphafes, "It was the first day of the week," and both to fanctify that time, and this folemn affembly, Jefus appeared in the 'midst of them, and pronounced this bleffing, "Peace be unto you." Their hearts were filled with gladnefs, and he reiterated the benediction. Then he confirmed their commiffion to go forth and preach falvation to a ruined world, and that all their fins fhould be remitted upon the terms propofed in the gofpel. Thus the first chriftian fabbath received a glorious fanétification.
Secondly, juft eight days after this folemnity, the difciple, again met, and Chrift met with them, and repeated the fame bleffing, "Peace be unto you," again fanctifying the time and their affembly as before. Something very remarkable took place on this Lord's day evening, to wit, removing the unbelief of Thomas, and affording him all the evidence he defired and filling his heart with joy, fo that his foul burst forth in raptures, crying out, " My Lord and my God."
Thirdly, the day of Pentecoft was alfo a great day among the followers of Chrift, and this was on the first day of the week. Pentecoft was always fifty days from the paffover, therefore as our Lord arose the day after the paffover, this distinguished period fell out on the first day of the week. Chrift by his Spirit was prefent in this great affembly when three thousand were converted by the preaching of St. Peter, and initiated into the chriftian church by the holy ordinance of baptifm. This was a great fabbath, and perhaps there will never be fuch another, till the time will come that a nation will be new born at once. But the argument is the first day of the week was in an effectual manner the fabbath of christians or the great day of the Lord. And allow this addition that Peter's converts, ever after continued in his doctrine; one of which muft evidently be, their obfervance of this day as holy time, in commemoration of Christ and for the pumposes of religion.
Fourthly, in St. Paul's history we have a remarkable inftance of his celebration of the first day of the week as the christian fabbath. In his journeying, he came unto Troas and waited for the affembling of the difciples. They had met seven days before, no doubt for their usual worship, he tarried for their facramental occafion, therefore thus we read, "On the first day of the week, when the difciples came "together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, and "continued his fpeech until midnight." This fhows us, the first day of the week was their fabbath and the feafon of their holy communion. I will make no other remarks from this, and all the preceding obfervations on the first day of the week as the chriftian fabbath, only that the evening was a folemn and most important portion of holy time.
Fifthly, an argument of great force to fhow the first day of the week is the chriftian fabbath, is derived from St. Paul's
direction to the Corinthian and other churches, refpecting an important duty, which muft be performed in their folemn meetings for public worship. Thus he speaks, "Now for "the collection of the faints, as I have given order to the "churches of Galatia, even fo do ye. Upon the first day of "the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God "hath profpered him." It is here a granted cafe, that all the chriftian churches affembled on the first day of the week as their fabbath to perform public worship; hence he enjoined this as a duty incumbent on them at that feafon. From these things it is evident that the firft day of the week was the chrif tian fabbath, and that it was a ftanding ufage among the chrif tians, and placing all these things in one view, it is evident the first day of the week ought firmly to be held by chriftians, and duly fanctified as their fabbath.
Paffing by a multitude of arguments employed by chrif tian writers in favor of the first day of the week to be observed as a common and public day for religious worship, the whole is fully established in
The first place from our text, wherein it is in ftriking language denominated the Lord's day. That is, it was inftituted by our Lord for holy purposes; as we fay the Lord's fupper, the Lord's table, the cup of the Lord, the Lord's prayer, &c. all which show, these things were peculiar to him and matters of his fpecial divine inflitution, and therefore obligatory upon all christians.
Agreeably to our Lord's appropriation of the first day of the week for religious fervice, and the practice of the apoftle's from the very day of his refurrection, this day has been obferved by chriftians as the fabbath throughout all ages from the beginning of chriftianity down to the present time, and will continue to be fan&ified to the end of the world.