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1. If the sabbath be revoked in the New Testa. ment, the revocation is expressed, and can be found. But a revocation of it cannot be found. The sabbath therefore remains.
The change of the sabbath, in regard to the day in which it is observed, and which, more generally in the Christian Church, out of respect to Christ, and as commemorative of his resurrection, is called the Lord's day; allowing it to have taken place, as it is almost universally conceded that it has, under the authority of God, is not a revocation of it. The phrase change of the sabbath, supposes that the sabbath itself is continued. For to change and annul an institution, are different things. For a distinct elucidation of this matter, the reader is referred to President Edward's Discourses, above mentioned, on the change and perpetuity of the sabbath. Let it be only observed here, that the stress of the law respecting the sabbath, lies upon the nature of the day, as a day of holy rest, a sign of the covenant, a gift, a blessing, a type of heaven, a memorial, and upon its returning periodically after six days of labor. Whether it shall be this day or the other, is not indeed left to our discretion ; but still, is a circumstance, a mere modal affair. This change therefore does not, cannot alter, or affect the thing itself. Suppose God had instituted a fast day, to be observed on that day which we now call Tuesday ; and had afterwards ordered, that it should he observed on Wednesdays ; this alteration, being circumstantial, it is evident, would not determine that it is no longer the fast day, which God originally appointed. The change, in this case, would certainly prove the opposite; that the fast day is continued. For it must be understood to continue, in order to be a subject of this new modification.
2. If Israel, as an indissolvable society, is the olive tree, introduced by Paul, in the 11th chapter of his Epistle to the Romans ; and if the broken off branches are to be graffed into it again, certainly the unbelieving Jews, when the vail shall be taken from their heart,
and they shall turn unto the Lord, will be restored to the enjoyment of their sabbath. For they will partake with the adopted Gentiles, of the root and fatness of the olive tree. To this period, the prophet Isaiah at the close of his prophecy, has evident respect; and his words, therefore prove, that the restored Jews, with the Gentiles, will enjoy their sabbath.
" For as the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord ; so shall your seed, and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.”
3. The declaration of Christ, Matthew xii. 8. “For the son of man is Lord, even of the sabbath day,' clearly implies, that the sabbath belongs perpetually to the kingdom, of which he is the visible head, The declaration which precedes this, in Mark ii, 27, is al, so corroborative of the same thing. The sabbath was made for man.” It is a blessing of the covenant of which Christ is the mediator, and designed altogether for the benefit of those who are the subjects of that couenant. It is then as certainly perpetual, as the covenant itself is perpetual.
4. The actual continuance of the sabbath under the Gospel dispensation, and after the Sinai covenant was abolished, is evident, from Mat. xxiv, 20. This passage it will be remembered, respected an event which took place about forty years after Christ's ascension. " And pray ye, that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” If Christ had foreknown that the seasons were to be immediately discontinued, the direction to his hearers, to pray that their fight might not be in the winter, would have been imper. tinent; and would, as he must have known, have ex. posed him to the imputation of having given a direc, tion altogether futile, and even ridiculous. If he had foreknown that the sabbath was to be discontinued ; and he must have foreknown it, if it were to be the case ; for he was Lord of the sabbath day ; his direc
tion respecting the sabbath, would have been equally impertinent, and have exposed him to the same imputation.
5. As a farther confirmation of the actual perpetua. tion of the sabbath, in the Gospel day, and after the accession of the Gentiles, we may notice the words of Paul, I. Corinthians xvi. 2. “Upon the first day of the week (Kalde uien sabbulwv, literally, upon one of the sabbaths) let every one of you &e.”
If the present translation be correct, still the use of the word oefbalw will imply the continuance of the sabbath. How can weeks be continued at all, scripturally and religiously, but upon the principle of the continuance of the sabbath ? Notices of the continuance of the sabbath, and of the observance of it by the Apos. tles, are to be found repeatedly in the book of Acts : but it is not thought necessary to give them a particular attention.
The indispensable necessity of the day for the furtherance of religion, the conversion of sinners, and their edification when converted, for the manifestation of Christ, and the accomplishment of God's purposes relative to Zion, is a cogent argument of its continuance. If the sabbath was necessary to present the Church to the view of the world, as an army with banners, under the former dispensation, it is no less necessary for this purpose under the latter.
Two passages are brought forward by those who oppose this doctrine, as favoring, if not proving the discontinuance of the sabbath. The first is in Rom. xiv. 5. “One man esteemeth one day above another ; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Here the Apostle is supposed to admit, that the distinction between the sabbath and other days, was obsolete ; therefore that the sabbath was no longer a matter of obligation, but of opinion. The sabbath, it is to be here recollected, was not imposed as a burden, from which the Church was to be relieved; but given, as a blessing, which it was to enjoy. It is to be remembered also, that the Chris.
tiáns at Rome consisted partly of native Jews, and partly of Gentiles. The believing Jews retained strong prejudices in favor of all the observances of their ancient religion. The Gentiles, on the other hand, had prejudices against them. It could hardly be otherways the, than that there should be disagreements among these christians, about several things belonging to the Jewish law. To these disagreements the apostle has respect in this chapter. He begins thus, “ Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Here are the things he is going to treat of things of doubtful disputation; things, which he himself could not, or did not think it prudent then, expressly to settle. The sabbath, so repeat. edly and solemnly enjoined, and with such a highly important design, could hardly have come under this description. He speaks of days supposed to be conse. crated. But these days stand in connexion with eating, or not eating particular kinds of food; which circumstance does not at all apply to the sabbath.-These days therefore, ought to be understood as fast, or festival days; and several such days were ordained in, and were peculiar to the Sinai law. "For one be. lieveth that he may eat all things. Another, who is weak, eateth herbs.” The discourse upon clean, and unclean things, eating, and not eating, runs through the chapter. When therefore, he says, as in the 5th verses “ One man esteemeth, &c.” he ought, in fairness, to be understood as speaking of these days. At any rate, here is nothing express respecting the sabbath. And if there were, there is certainly nothing which amounts to a revocation of it. The most that the passage teaches, even upon the supposition that the apostle alludes to the sabbath, in connexion with other consecrated days, is, that each one should labor to possess the truth, and that forbearance should be exercised in case of disagreement, if that disagreement do not appear to result from a contumacious spirit.
Had the sabbath, with all other consecrated days, been openly and formally set aside, such a controversy as that which is brought into view in this chapter, could hardly have subsisted. The cause of it seems to have been, that which is at the foundation of many disputes and divisions at the present day; the not distinguishing carefully between anterior institutions and laws ; and those which were added, as peculiar to the covenant of Sinai, which only have waxed old, and vanished away. The observance of the sabbath was continued under the authority of Christ, and his apostles. The usages which were sanctioned by the Sinai cove. nant, did not actually cease at once, with the removal of that covenant. They were abolished gradually, as the weak believers among the Jews could bear. Hence it was natural enough for those Jews to contend, that if the sabbath was to be observed, the other cousecrated days ought to be observed likewise. This dispute the apostle manages, with the same spirit of accominodation, with which he circumcised Timothy, kept the feast at Jerusalem, and conformed, on occasions, to several things in the ritual·law.
The other passage brought forward as an objection, is in Colos. ii. 16, 17. “Let no man, therefore, judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths." What sabbaths were these ? The term sabbath was first applied to the seventh day. Afterwards it was applied as descriptive of all the consecrated days of the Sinai covenant. See Leviticus xxiii. 32, and 38.
As the plural therefore is used, there seems to be reason to presume, that, as in the former case, the apostle had respect to these days of the Sinai law.
The 4th verse, if attended to will convince us that he had. “ Blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
What was this hand writing of ordinances ? It was what he calls, in his letter to the Ephesians," the middle wall of partition.” It was the ritual of the Sinai covenant.
But it has been prov, ed that the primitive sabbath did not belong to this covenant. The passage therefore, cannot prove the discontinuance of the sabbath,