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The day on which God rested from the work of creation; and which he blessed and sanctified, to be an holy Sabbath for man, was the seventh day from the beginning of the creation : but it was really the first day of Adam's life. He was created on the latter part of the sixth day, but soon fell into a deep sleep, and had no great enjoyment or thought, till the next day. It is certain, the Sabbath day was the first whole day of his life, and he would naturally begin to reckon time and weeks, from that day, as the first day in the rotation of weeks. * This day was observed by the antidelyvian church, and by Noah, and his posterity, as the first day of their
which has continued by an uninterrupted rotation of weeks, to this day. When mankind, after the flood corrupted their religion, and apostatized from the instituted worship of the only true God, to idolatry, and deified, and worshipped the sun, moon and stars, which was the first kind of idolatry practised by mankind, they consecrated their Sabbath which was the first day of their week, and considered as a high day, the most important and honourable of any of the days of the week, to the sun, which is the first and brightest luminary of the heavens, devoting this day to the worship of this god. And hence it obtained the name of Sunday : that is, the day of the sun, as it was devoted to the worship of this heavenly luminary ; as most, or all the other days of the week, have had names given them from the particu. lar planets, to the worship of which they were devoted. The original Sabbath, or the first day of the week, being thus perverted, God saw fit, for this, and other reasons, some of which will be mentioned, to appoint another day of the week to be a Sabbath to the children of Israel, when he brought them out of Egypt. He ordered it so that they should pass through the red sca, on the seventh day of the week, which completed their redemption, and deliverance from Egypt ; and he appointed that day of the week, to be their Sabbath, in commemoration of this
• See Bedford's Scripture Chronology, demonstrated by Astronomical Cal. culations ; and Kennedy's Complete System of Astronomical Chronology, unfolding the Scriptures. In which they have undertaken to demonstrate by astronomical calculations, that the seventh day from the beginning of the creation, has been reckoned the first day of the week, from
that time to this.
remarkable deliverance ; on which day, they praised God, for this redemption, and sang the song recorded in the fifteenth chapter of Exodus. And in the next chapter this their Sabbath is first inentioned ; and was prob. ably the statute, and ordinance which God made with that people, spoken of, chapter xv. verse 25. And when some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather manna, and found none, the Lord said, “See that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore, he giveth you on the sixth day, the bread of two days.” The Lord hath given you the Sabbath. This naturally expresses his having then appointed a day to be their Sabbath, as peculiar to that people ; and not that he had appointed a Sabbath for all mankind, when men were first created. There were two reasons, if not more, for appointing this seventh day of the week, to be their Sabbath.
First. This was suited, with many other laws, which were given to them, to keep them a distinct and separate people, from other nations, and prevent their joining with others in their idolatrous improvement of the first day of the week. This was then observed by the nations round them, as a high day, and a festival in honour of the sun, and other gods, which they worshipped, and it was of great importance, that they should be kept a distinct people, and not join with them. Their keeping another day of the week for their Sabbath was suited to do this as much or more than any other law which was given to them, for this end, excepting circumcision. Accordingly, they were, in after ages, mentioned with contempt, and ridiculed by the heathen for this pe. culiarity.
Secondly. As their deliverance out of Egypt was a great and remarkable event, and a designed type and pledge of the redemption and salvation of the church by Christ, it was proper, and of great importance, that it should be kept in mind, and commemorated by a day appointed to be observed out of a particular respect to that event. Therefore, that day of the week was fixed upon by God, to be their weekly Sabbath, on which this deliverance was completed. This appears to be the truth respecting this appointment, from the words of
Moses, when speaking to them of the command of God, to keep their Sabbath, he says, God commanded them to keep it, out of respect to this deliverance. the Sabbath day, to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence, through a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm : THEREFORE, the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day."* This must respect the Seventh-day-Sabbath, which was peculiar to them, appointed out of respect to that deliverance, and more especially to commemorate that, not only as a great event in itself, but as a remarkable type of the spiritual and eternal redemption of the church of Christ, which is mentioned and referred to in scripture, as such.f This is the reason of God's appointing the seventh day of the week for their Sabbath, and commanding them to keep it as a Sabbath-day ; but is no reason why other nations and mankind at all times, should observe a Sabbath. Therefore, in the fourth command, which was written on one of the tables of stone, and put into the ark, and is binding on all men, in all ages, this is not mentioned as a reason for observ. ing it; nor is any particular day of the week pointed out, as has been observed. The seventh day of the week had been before given to the Israelites for their Sabbath ; and Moses gives the reason for this particular appointment and command of God to them, in the words above rehearsed. And the fourth command, in the decalogue, was a command to them, to keep the seventh day of the week as a Sabbath, because God had before fixed on this day for them to observe. But it prescribes no particular day to any other people ; unless it be the first day of the week, sanctified by God, and handed down from the first Sabbath ; and which has been established by Christ, to be the holy Sabbath for christians ; which lays the christian church under as great obligations from the fourth command, to observe the first day of the week, as their Sabbath, as those under which the Israelites were, to observe the seventh day of the week as their Sabbath.
• Deut. v. 15. + See Isaiah li. 9, 10, 11. 1 Cor. x. 1-11. Jude v.
The Seventh-day-Sabbath, being given to the Mosaic church as a commemoration of their deliverance out of Egypt, which was a distinguished type in that typical church, was itself therefore a typical institution, and a shadow of good things to come, as was the passover, and other festivals in that church. Therefore, with truth and the greatest propriety, the apostle Paul mentions their weekly Sabbaths, with other Mosaic institutions, as shadows of things to come, which of course ceased and were done away, when the things of which they were types and shadows took place.* And then the Sab. bath took place according to its original institution and course, on the first day of the week, and perfectly agree. able to the fourth command, and in a degree more so than the Jewish Sabbath.
5. Upon the whole, it must be observed, that some time should be fixed upon, and set apart, and distinguished from other time, to be in a peculiar manner de. voted to the exercises of piety, and public worship, in which all pious men and christians should agree and unite, appears reasonable, desirable and important. If this were left to men, they would not be competent judges of the proportion of time, that it would be most suitable and proper to be set apart for those purposes ; and could never agree in the particular days, and the precise proportion of time that should be thus distinguished and improved. And if they could do all this, they have no power or authority, to make one part of time, or one day more sacred or relatively holy, than another. God alone, who is the owner and Lord of time, and of all things, can make this distinction, and in this sense sanctify any day or part of time, and set it apart for particular holy purposes ; and he only has authority to command men to observe it accordingly, and keep it holy. And he only knows what proportion of time is wisest and best to be thus sanctified; so as to be best suited to answer the purposes of it, and circumstances of man, to promote the good of his church. It is therefore desirable, and to be expected that God would determine this in the revelation which he gives to the
. Col. ii. 16, 17.
world. Accordingly, we find he has done it, when he first made man, specifying the day which he blessed and sanctified, and setting an example to man, that after six days of labour, he should rest from his worldly business on the seventh day, and keep it holy. This he afterwards inserted among those commands containing a perpetual moral law, commanding men, all men, without distinction, to observe the Sabbath, and keep one day in seven holy, or the seventh day, after six days labour. In the mean time, for particular, wise, important reasons, he separated a people from all other nations, and formed them into a church, giving them laws and statutes, suited to keep them separate from the idolatrous nations, and to point out by types and emblems the Redeemer of man, and the great salvation by him; and to prepare the way for his coming into the world, dying and rising again, and setting up his kingdom on earth: And among the rest, they received a command to keep the seventh day of the week as a holy Sabbath, which was much insisted upon during that dispensation, as an important article, which should be to them a constant visible sign, that they were a holy people, devoted to God. When the end of this Seventh-day-Sabbath was fully answered, and the thing of which this, and the event it was to commemorate, were a type and shadow, took place, it was abolished, and the Sabbath of the first day of the week took place by his order and command, who is Lord of the Sabbath, in commemoration of his resurrection from the dead, and the eternal redemption of the church which he had obtained by his blood, and which he arose to accomplish.
And nothing could be more suited by this institution to gratify and please the friends of Christ, than to have the first day of the week, on which their dear Lord arose from the dead, consecrated and sanctified ; that they may keep a holy Sabbath on this day, and honour and praise him, and celebrate the work of redemption. This has been to the people of God in general, in the christian church ever since, a high day, a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable ; and is so even now.