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tire and unimaginable inversion of all the conditions of our being, to annul or remit the duties which give to the prescribed period all its peculiar significance and sacredness.
Thus, in the question of Sabbath observance, as usually stated, we readily detect the presence of two elements: the one having reference to what has been styled moral ; the other, to what has been styled positive law. While, however, this distinction is well founded, and not unimportant, in the general discussion of the theme, it is needless, at present, to dissociate these elements ; still more especially, since there are few institutions of revealed religion, which, if duly analyzed, will not be found to combine both. For, even when the obligation is such as to find its fundamental root and reason in the moral relations subsisting between us and the Most High, it is common to discover, that He has affixed some increment to the required duty, which brings it largely within the sphere of positive ordinance and law.
In appealing to the Inspired Volume on the question at issue, two courses lie open for adoption: the one is, to begin with the information supplied by the writings of the New Testament, and then to carry our investigations upwards to the ancient Scriptures ; the other is, to begin at the beginning, and, with the lights derived from the primeval economies, to descend downwards to the times of the Gospel. Now if the question to be discussed bore any analogy to the questions of natural science, the former method would seem to recommend itself as partaking more of the analytic charac
But since it is one of pure revelation, and since the Scriptures constitute one whole, gradually unfolding itself, and each part in succession presupposing the existence, if not the knowledge, of all that preceded, it is obvious, that the true path of inquiry is that which starts with the earliest intimations of the Bible, and thus traces the subject onward to the fuller and brighter disclosures of later times.
It may contribute to the object in view, to state in general terms, at the outset, the opposite sentiments commonly entertained upon this question. By one class of theologians it is contended that, from the beginning, God required man.
kind to set apart one day in seven from the ordinary avocations and toils of life, to be consecrated to his immediate worship and service; that, under all the successive dispensations of religion, this requirement has been binding and authoritative; and that it is still (though with certain changes) in full, unabated force, beneath the Christian economy, but clothed now, as might be expected, if not with greater authority, certainly with greater interest and brighter glory. By others, it has been maintained, that the Sabbath was first instituted among the Jews; that it constituted part of the Jewish economy; that with that economy it expired ; and, consequently, that any sacred day to be now observed (if such there be) owes its authority to some New Testament source alone, or to some other source, ecclesiastical or civil. It is not necessary, now, to refer more specifically to the theo. ries of those who adopt the latter views — this general statement being sufficient for our purpose at present.
Thus, the course of our inquiry leads us to examine the claims of the Primeval, the Jewish, and the Christian institute.
The Claims on behalf of a Primeval Sabbath Examined. Here the language of Moses, Gen. 2: 1–3, demands attention, as presenting what is alleged to be the great initial record upon the entire theme : “ Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that on it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” This, according to many, is the inauguration of the Sabbath, thus appointed and signalized to commemorate the completion of the creative work in this lower world. And there are several circumstances which, in this view, invest the record with peculiar value and significance: not only its being, as already stated, the first intimation as to a sacred day; but the fact that this institution takes the precedence of all others in the order of the original, spiritual economy, established among men ; and that it was introduced during
the period of innocency, before any change had taken place in either the character or condition of the species.
Here the believer in divine revelation is called to observe, that, — since man was formed on the sixth day, and (as the perfection of sentient life, and the crown of this fair creation) formed, in all probability, towards the close of the same day, the first integral, measured period of his conscious, active existence, was the sacred Sabbath. So early, and at once, was he made sensible of the duty and the delight of keeping “holy day;” and thus, instead of commencing his career under the regimen of pure, unmixed, moral law, his first lesson of obedience would be one in which the authority of a positive precept, as to time and circumstances, regulated the discharge of a duty to which conscience and the heart would, themselves, instinctively prompt, as the fitting exponent of the spontaneous, inborn sentiments and principles of the newly-created and divinely-illuminated soul. Such may be regarded as the position taken by the advocates of a primeval Sabbath.
But it has been strenuously maintained, that the first establishment of the sabbatic observance took place under Judaism, and that, to all intents and purposes, it was a Jewish institute. This tenet has been advocated by two very different classes of persons : both by those who deny the existence of any special sacred day whatever, under the Christian economy, and by some who, nevertheless, admit this. A very different rank, in some respects, must be assigned to such as hold these dissimilar ultimate views. But in regard to the point now at issue they are agreed. It might, indeed, be argued that, even if it were of Mosaic origin, this would not invalidate the claims of a sacred day as now observed. But, meanwhile, we have to deal with the opinions of those who, with objects widely apart, assail, to. gether, the primitive appointment of this ordinance.
Going back to the early times of the Gospel, we find the names of Justin Martyr, Irenæus, and Tertullian, ranged on the side of those who contend for the Jewish origin of the institute. But, without prejudging the question before us,
it may be safely asserted, that few, who have paid much at. tention to the writings of the Fathers, will be disposed to ascribe to them an authority which, in matters of opinion, they in reality never claimed. We have precisely the same inspired documents, from which they professed to derive their sentiments; and it is surely not affirming too much, on behalf of our modern theological science, to assert that it possesses facilities for arriving at just conclusions upon questions of this order, quite equal to any to which they could lay claim. Nor should it be forgotten, that, as there existed not only the speculations of a Gentile philosophy, on the one hand, but the cherished preconceptions of a Jewish cultus on the other, to disturb and bias their investigations, it is our duty to pause before we receive any dogma, however recommended, which might possibly have received its character and complexion from either of these sources. “ To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Were it our object to trace the history of this opinion, we might point to some who have, in later centuries, expended no ordinary measure of intellectual acumen and erudition in its support. But, on the whole, we may regard Paley as among the most accomplished, if not the most original, defenders of the theory in question, and certainly the one whose writings have given it the widest currency, at least in recent times. His object being to set aside the authority of the Sabbath in the stricter sense of the term, and to establish a modified view of the duties and obligations pertaining to the first day of the week, under the Christian dispensation, he, in the first place, seeks to explode the notion of a primeval Sabbath; and then, assuming that it constituted a part of the positive and ceremonial institutions of Judaism, he concludes that it was abolished with the abolition of that peculiar polity. At present, we are concerned only with the former part of his design.
Adducing the passage already given from Gen. ii., he observes : “After this, we hear no more of the Sabbath or of the seventh day, as in any manner distinguished from the other
six, until the history brings us down to the sojourning of the Jews in the wilderness, when the following remarkable passage occurs.” He then quotes the transaction recorded in the 16th chapter of Exodus, and in the manner of his quotation (we refer to the original editions) makes the words speak a sense which, as we believe, they were never intended to convey. He then proceeds : “ Not long after this, the Sabbath, as is well known, was established with great solemnity in the fourth commandment. Now in my opinion, the transaction in the wilderness above recited was the first actual institution of the Sabbath. For if the Sabbath had been instituted at the time of the creation, as the words in Genesis may seem at first sight to import; and if it had been observed all along from that time to the departure of the Jews out of Egypt, a period of about two thousand five hundred years ; it appears unaccountable that no mention of it, no occasion of even the obscurest allusion to it, should occur, either in the general history of the world before the call of Abraham, which contains, we admit, only a few memoirs of its early ages, and those extremely abridged; or, which is more to be wondered at, in that of the lives of the first three Jewish patriarchs, which, in many parts of the account, is sufficiently circumstantial and domestic. Nor is there, in the passage above quoted from the sixteenth chapter of Exodus, any intimation that the Sabbath, then appointed to be observed, was only the revival of an ancient institution which had been neglected, forgotten, or suspended; nor is any such neglect imputed either to the inhabitants of the old world, or to any part of the family of Noah; nor, lastly, is any permission recorded to dispense with the institution during the captivity of the Jews in Egypt, or on any other public emergency. The passage in the second chapter of Genesis, which creates the whole controversy upon the subject, is not incon-. sistent with this opinion; for as the seventh day was erected into a Sabbath on account of God's resting upon that day from the work of the creation, it was natural in the historian, when he had related the history of the creation, and of God's ceasing from it on the seventh day, to add: And VOL. XIII. No. 51.