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MARK ii. 27.
And he said unto them, the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
As our Saviour was passing through the corn-fields on the sabbath, his disciples took the liberty of plucking some of the ears of corn. This was displeasing to the Pharisees, who complained of them to Christ. But instead of condemning, he justified their conduct, by referring to a well-known scripture example. He said "have ye never read what David did, when he had need and was an hungered, he and they that were with him? How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high-priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat, but for the priests, and gave also to them that were with him? And he said unto them, the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." This was a pertinent and full reply to the objection of the Pharisees; and at the same time, implied, that God appointed the sabbath as a standing ordinance, for the benefit of all men in all ages. Accordingly I propose to show,
I. That the sabbath is a divine ordinance;
II. That it is a standing ordinance; and,
III. That it is appointed for the benefit of all men in all ages.
I. I am to show that the sabbath is a divine ordin
The sabbath properly signifies a day of rest; but it is only a day of rest from secular employments, and
not from religious duties. It is a holy day to be spent in holy services. The duty of observing such a day would never have been discovered by the light of nature. Though the light of nature teaches men, that they ought to worship their Creator, Preserver and Benefactor; yet it does not teach them, that they ought to worship him in a social and publick manner, one day in seven. This would not have been their duty, had not God positively appointed the sabbath as
holy ordinance. Accordingly we find that he did not leave this duty to human discovery, but immediately after he had made man, he made also the sabbath for him. "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work." This' was a divine and sacred ordinance. It was divine, as instituted by God; and sacred, as it was appointed for a sacred, holy, and religious purpose. It is true, the peculiar duties of this holy day are not mentioned in this brief account of its institution. But when it was renewed at Mount Sinai, and placed among the ten commands, the special duties of the day were distinctly enjoined. So that the sabbath with all its instituted duties, is a divine ordinance, enjoined upon all mankind, for their benefit. "The sabbath was made for man." It was made by a divine appointment a holy and sacred day. But since none, who believe the Bible, pretend to call in question the original institution of the sabbath, it is unnecessary to enlarge upon this head. I proceed therefore to show,
II. That the sabbath is a standing ordinance and of perpetual obligation. Many ofthe divine ordinances before the gospel dispensation were temporary, and ceased when that dispensation commenced. The passover instituted in Egypt; and the sacrifices, rites, and ceremonies instituted at Mount Sinai, were all abolished by the gospel. They were all temporary ordinances. But the sabbath was designed to be a standing ordin
ance from the beginning to the end of the world. This will appear from various considerations.
In the first place, our Saviour says "it was made for 'man;" that is, for all men, without exception. The appointment of sacrifices was not made for all men, but only for those men, who lived before the death of Christ. The appointment of the passover was not made for all men, but only for one nation. The rite of circumcision was not appointed for all men, but only for the seed of Abraham, until the promised Messiah appeared. But the sabbath was made for all men in all ages, because they would always need to rest one day in seven, and to employ it in the special service of God. The very design of the sabbath argues its perpetuity. There is no reason to be given, why it should be appointed for men in one age or in one part of the world, rather than for all men in all ages and in all places. The sabbath is adapted to the nature and circumstances of all men in their present probationary state, and therefore we may presume it was designed to continue to the end of time.
And this leads me to observe in the second place, that the sabbath was not abolished when other positive institutions were set aside. The apostle expressly informs us, that the rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation were superceded by the gospel, and became null and void, after the death of Christ: but none of the inspired writers of the New-Testament give us the least intimation of the weekly sabbath being abolished. And if it were not abolished in the apostolick days, it could not have been abolished since. It must be, therefore, a divine institution, which is still binding upon all mankind. It was not a typical ordinance, and so could not cease by the appearance of an antitype. as the typical sacrifices, rites and ceremonies under the law ceased, by the appearance of Christ, whom they prefigured. There has been no substitute instituted in the room of the sabbath, to supercede it. word, there is nothing said in the New-Testament, that
affords the least reason to doubt of the perpetuity of the sabbath.
Besides, thirdly, the practice of christians from the apostles' days to this time, is a plain, positive evidence, that the sabbath is a divine ordinance of perpetual obligation. We have an account of the primitive christians meeting together statedly on the sabbath for social religious worship. And though christians have since been divided into a great variety of denominations; yet they have all agreed to observe a weekly sabbath, with a very few exceptions. Now, it is not easy to account for this general and uninterrupted practice of christians in observing the sabbath for nearly two thousand years, un unless it has been founded upon the first and original institution of it, for the purpose which Christ mentions. If it was made for the benefit of man, this is a good reason why it has continued from the beginning, and should still continue to the end of time. There are, moreover, new reasons for its perpetual continuance, which have occurred since its first appointment. It was then designed to be a memorial of the creation of the world; after that it became a memorial of the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt; and since that period, it has become a memorial of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and connected with a sacrament, instituted to commemorate his death, until his second coming. The sabbath is as inseparably connected with the gospel, as it ever was with the law, and must, therefore, continue as long as the gospel itself continues. There is as much ground to believe the perpetuity of the sabbath, as the perpetuity of the Lord's supper. Accordingly we find none have denied the perpetuity of the sabbath, but those who have denied the perpetuity of gospel ordinances. We may be assured, that the sabbath, which was made for man, will continue as long as it can be of any benefit to man, which will be as long as the human race shall continue in their present probationary state. The last thing is to show,