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tullian, Clement of Alexandria, and others of later days. But it is only that we may learn through them the judgment of the churches that first received the books of the New Testament. This is the ground on which these later writers themselves stand. They give us not their own private judg ment, but the tradition of the churches, that is, the testimony handed down in the churches from the beginning. This testimony, let it be carefully remembered, is not simply an authoritative dictum, like the declarations of the Hebrew prophets, prefaced with the words: "Thus saith the Lord"; nor is it simply a subjective opinion, drawn from the contents of the books. It is rather a comprehensive judgment, based on all the known facts in the case. The knowledge that a book had proceeded from the pen of an apostle at once secured it an unquestioned reception everywhere. Doubts respecting the apostolic authorship of a book - the Second Epistle of Peter, for example-led to a careful examination of the evidence in the case. In regard to the writings of men not belonging to the apostolic college, the churches based their decision, as has been shown, on the known relation of the authors to the apostles and the acknowledged gifts of the Spirit possessed by them, as well as on the character of the writings themselves. For the formation of a correct judgment on these points they enjoyed such advantages as we cannot possess. Earnestness and sincerity are traits which will not be denied to them, and they were certainly not wanting in common discernment. Their caution and hesitation in respect to the so-called antilegomena shows with what conscientious deliberation they acted, and will defend them, in the judgment of all candid men, from the unworthy imputation of a credulousness that was ready to take without examination any book that professed to have come from the pen of an apostle or an apostolic man.
2. Very important indeed is the question respecting the contents of a book which claims to have been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It has been shown in a previous Number how unsafe is the rule of judging con
cerning the inspiration of a book from the character of its contents alone. Nevertheless, we must believe that the man who writes as he is moved by the Holy Ghost will be kept from puerilities and fantastic allegorizing; that what he says will have the marks of simplicity, directness, and purity of intention, will be in harmony with the general tenor of revelation, and will consist of "wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the doctrine which is according to godliness." We need waste no time in showing that these characteristics belong in full measure to the canonical books of the New Testament. They are radiant throughout with heavenly light, in the presence of which all merely human writings lose their splendor, as the glowworm pales "his uneffectual fire" when the matin approaches.
"A glory gilds the sacred page,
It gives a light to every age;
We do not propose to eulogize these books, for the same reason that we would not eulogize the sun shining in his strength. But it is very instructive to notice the wide chasm which separates them from even the best writings of the so-called apostolic Fathers. The descent from the majesty and power of the canonical writings to those of the following age is abrupt and great. That this should have been so is altogether in analogy with God's established mode of procedure. At certain great crises in the world's history he manifests himself in an extraordinary way, for the purpose of establishing a new system of means and influences. Then he withdraws his sensible presence, and waits till this system has, under the superintendence of his Spirit and his providence, worked out its appropriate results. The appearance of the Son of God in this world was, to borrow the happy figure of a late writer,1 a blessed periouranon, when this fallen world approached very near to the great Sun of Righteousness, and received from him an extraordinary
1 Rev. Dr. Peabody, in the Boston Lectures for 1870, p. 190.
measure of light and life. But it was not God's plan to administer the affairs of his church through the permanent agency of miraculous gifts. When they had accomplished their end, they were withdrawn, and the history of Christ's kingdom went on, under the ordinary instrumentality of God's word, God's Spirit, and God's providence. The uninspired teachers and leaders of the church, like uninspired leaders and teachers in all ages, committed many errors, and she was, as the necessary result, compelled to learn many things by a bitter, but salutary experience. It was only by a slow process that uninspired Christian literature was able to rise from its humble beginnings to a high and commanding position through the purifying and elevating influence of the gospel upon Christian society. And even as we see it in the writings of Justin Martyr, of Irenaeus, of Tertullian, of Clement of Alexandria, and their successors, how far is it removed from the simplicity of the canonical books! How much of dross is mixed with the gold of scriptural truth! A seal of the inspiration of the books of the New Testament, broad and patent to all, is found in the fact that the more nearly the churches return to their simplicity in doctrine and practice, the more vigorous is their Christian life, and the more perfectly do they manifest to the world the beauty and glory and divine energy of Christ's kingdom on earth.
VOL. XXIX. No. 113.
THE WEEKLY SABBATH.
BY J. C. MURPHY, LL.D., T.C.D., PROFESSOR OF HEBREW, BELFAST, IRELAND.
1. THE weekly Sabbath has its ground, not in the periodical motions of the solar system, but in the history of the human race. Hence, in the first place, it leaves no mark on the outward course of nature. The beast of the field, the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea are not sensibly affected by its recurrence. So far, indeed, as labor is concerned, life is to them a perpetual sabbath. They know no toil, properly so called, but spend their time in a constant round of instinctive enjoyment; for the fruits of the earth are ready for their use without any preparation of art. But, with regard to the spiritual engagements of a sacred leisure, they may be truly said to have no sabbath, inasmuch as they want the higher nature which is susceptible of such delights. It follows, in the next place, that the origin and import of the sabbath are to be sought, not in the history of matter, or of brute nature, but in that book which alone contains the true and complete account of man. We propose, in the present Article, to examine three of the texts bearing upon the sabbath (Lev. xxiii. 3; Col. ii. 16, 17; Mark ii. 27, 28), and to ascertain what light they throw,
I. On the Nature of the Sabbath;
II. On the Change of the Dispensation of Grace;
I. The Nature of the Sabbath.
2. This is brought before us in Lev. xxiii. 3: "Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, a holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein; it is the
sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings." This is one of the most interesting verses in the Old Testament. It stands at the head of this chapter on holy seasons. It reiterates and explains an institution of incalculable value for the preservation of religious feeling in the households of Israel. After a prefatory clause, it enumerates four characteristics of the sabbath-a sabbath of rest, a holy convocation, a cessation from all work, a sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. The preface to this ordinance is: "Six days' shall work be done." This involves at once an allusion to history, an appeal to the memory of the past. It raises the thoughts to the six days of creative work, of which we have a record in the first chapter of Genesis. There is an admirable symmetry in the proceedings of these six days. They consist of two counterparts, or periods, of three days each. In the former, we begin with light, and go on to the creation of plants. The latter commences with the centres of light, and advances to the creation of the animal world. After the inhabitants of air, water, and earth are called into being, man himself appears with wonderful dignity upon the stage of existence. He is created after the image and in the likeness of God, the Eternal Spirit. Hence he is a spiritual being, having reason, will, and power, capable of knowing, loving, and obeying his Maker, and of holding sway over this nether sphere. When the Almighty contemplated the works of his hand, they were all, man included, pronounced to be very good. It is manifest that these six days are to be had in everlasting remembrance by the race of man. As long as memory lasts, rational, godlike man will look back with wondering interest to the fountain-head of his being.
Accordingly, the six days come up for historical notice in the fourth commandment (Ex. xx. 8-11): "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. ..... For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is." Hence it is evident that the six days of work have their ground in the six days of creation, and consequently in the