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that people; nothing respecting their deliverance from Egypt, or any of the other signal interpositions of Jehovah in their favour,although these, as we shall afterwards see, are subsequently superadded as grounds of its celebration, but simply the original reason, assigned in our text: The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant: it is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed." Exod. xxxi. 16, 17.
Here we must close for the present. In next discourse we shall consider the moral nature and the permanent obligation of the Sabbath, as one of the precepts of the Decalogue.
EXODUS XX. 8-11.
"Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it."
In closing the former discourse, we promised to consider in this, the moral nature and permanent obligation of the Sabbath, as one of the precepts of the Decalogue. To this subject we now proceed.
There are some writers, who have attempted to set aside all argument for the permanence of the Sabbath drawn from the fourth commandment, by denying altogether the continued obligation of the law of the two tables, under the Christian economy. The grounds of this denial, then, demand our first and serious attention. The question is important, not only as it relates to the point before us, but more generally. If it be as these writers contend,—if the precepts of the Decalogue remain not in force,―if, although
formerly a law to Israel, they are not now a law to us,→→→ there were comparatively little interest in the investigation of their import, and little benefit to be derived from it. Curiosity, in that case, would be the sole principle and motive of our inquiry. It would be a topic of mere antiquarian speculation; or, at the best, it would only yield us a lesson of the wisdom of God, in giving a law adapted to the circumstances and character of a particular people. We shall, however, I trust, find satisfactory evidence on which to rest our conviction, that we have in them a deeper and more direct concern.
The law of the ten commandments, you are all aware, was delivered to Israel at Mount Sinai, soon after their leaving Egypt; and it was given in circumstances, and with accompaniments, of impressive solemnity, and appalling terror. The scene is thus described by the inspired historian-Exod. xix. 16-24. "And it came to pass, on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And
the Lord said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the Lord, the people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargest us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the Lord said unto him, Away, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up to the
Lord, lest he break forth upon them."
to this scene, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says, "So terrible was the sight, that Moses said,
ceedingly fear and quake.”
Amidst these circumstances of dread sublimity, Jehovah uttered the ten commandments, "with his own voice, out of the midst of the fire, and of the thick darkness ;" and he afterwards wrote them on two tables of stone, and delivered them to Moses, to be preserved to future generations, in memorial of the covenant between himself and the people of Israel. The tables were called "the tables of the covenant;" and they are expressly and repeatedly said to have been "written by the finger of God." We ought surely, therefore, to approach the consideration of these precepts with a portion of the awe with which they were originally received. Of this awe, the account is related in the following terms by Moses, in recapitulating to the people the leading facts of Jehovah's dealings with them :-" These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more: and
he wrote them on two tables of stone, and delivered them
unto me. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; and ye said, Behold the Lord our God hath showed us his glory, and his great ness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now, therefore, why should we die ? for this great fire will Consume rus If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and do it. And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye
spake unto me; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard
the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. Oh that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever -From the terror, indeed, with which
the scene affected the Israelites, we are happily f
we have now the full and clear discovery of the "ministration of righteousness," to counteract the overwhelming influence of "the ministration of condemnation and death." The contemplation of the "mount of the Lord, on which the Lamb was provided for a burnt-offering," allays the terrors of the "mount that might be touched, and that