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OF THE SCRIPTURE ACCOUNT OF SABBATI,
HE fubject, fo far as it makes any part of Chriflian morality, is contained in two questions:
I. Whether the command, by which the fewib fabbath was inftituted, extend to Chriftians?
II. Whether any new command was delivered by Chrift; or any other day substituted in the place of the Jewish fabbath by the authority or example of his Apostles?
In treating of the first question, it will be neceffary to collect the accounts, which are preferved of the inftitution in the Jewish history; for the feeing these accounts together, and in one point of view, will be the best preparation for the difcuffing or judging of any arguments on one fide or the other,
In the fecond chapter of Genefis, the historian having concluded his account of the fix days. creation, proceeds thus: "And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; "and
" and he rested on the feventh day from all his "work which he had made: and God blessed the "seventh day, and fanctified it, because that in "it he had refted from all his work which God "created and made." After this, we hear no more of the fabbath, or of the feventh day, as in any manner diftinguished from the other fix, until the history brings us down to the fojourning of the Jews in the wilderness, when the following remarkable paffage occurs. Upon the complaint of the people for want of food, God was pleased to provide for their relief by a miraculous fupply of manna, which was found every morning upon the ground about the camp; "and
they gathered it every morning, every man
"according to his eating; and when the fun "waxed hot, it melted: and it came to pass, "that on the fixth day they gathered twice as "much bread, two omers for one man; and all "the rulers of the congregation came and told
Mofes; and he faid unto them, This is that "which the Lord hath faid, To-morrow is the reft of the holy fabbath unto the Lord; bake that "which ye will bake to-day, and feethe that ye "will feethe, and that which remaineth over lay
up for you, to be kept until the morning; "and they laid it up till the morning, as Mofes
bade, and it did not ftink (as it had done before, when some of them left it till the morning), "neither was there any worm therein. And "Mofes faid, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a fab"bath unto the Lord: to-day ye fhall not find it "in the field. Six days ye fhall gather it, but "on the feventh day, which is the fabbath, in it "there fhall be none. And it came to país, that "there went out fome of the people on the fe❝venth day for to gather, and they found none. "And the Lord faid unto Mofes, How long re"fufe ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the fabbath, therefore he giveth you on the fixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man "in his place; let no man go out of his place on "the feventh day: fo the people rested on the "feventh day." Exodus, xvi.
Not long after this, the fabbath, as is well known, was established with great folemnity in the fourth commandment.
Now, in my opinion, the tranfaction in the wilderness above recited, was the first actual inftitution of the fabbath. For, if the fabbath had been inftituted at the time of the creation, as the words in Genefis may feem at first fight to import, and if it had been obferved all along
from that time to the departure of the fews out of Egypt, a period of about two thousand five hundred it years, appears unaccountable that no mention of it, no occafion of even the obfcureft allufion to it, fhould occur, either in the general hiftory of the world before the call of Abraham, which contains, we admit, only a few memoirs of its carly ages, and thofe extremely abridged; or, which is more to be wondered at, in that of the lives of the three first Jewish patriarchs, which, in many parts of the account, is fufficiently circumstantial and domestic. Nor is there, in the paffage above quoted from the fixteenth chapter of Exodus, any intimation that the fabbath, then appointed to be obferved, was only the revival of an ancient inftitution, which had been neglected, forgotten, or fufpended; nor is any fuch neglect imputed either to the inhabitants of the old world, or to any part of the family of Noah; nor, laftly, is any permiffion recorded to dispense with the inftitution during the captivity of the Jews in Egypt, or on any other public emergency.
The paffage in the fecond chapter of Genefis, which creates the whole controverfy upon the fubject, is not inconfiftent with this opinion for as the feventh day was erected into a fabbath,
on account of God's refting upon that day from the work of the creation, it was natural enough in the hiftorian, when he had related the hiftory of the creation, and of God's ceafing from it on the seventh day, to add, "and God blessed the "feventh day, and fanctified it, because that on it
he had refted from all his work which God "created and made;" although the bleffing and fanctification, i. e. the religious distinction and appropriation of that day, were not actually made till many ages afterwards. The words do not affert, that God then "blessed" and "fanctified" the feventh day, but that he bleffed and fanctified it for that reafon; and if any afk, why the fabbath, or fanctification of the seventh day, was then mentioned, if it was not then appointed, the anfwer is at hand; the order of connection, and not of time, introduced the mention of the fabbath, in the hiftory of the subject which it was ordained to commemorate.
This interpretation is ftrongly fupported by a paffage in the prophet Ezekiel, where the fabbath is plainly spoken of as given, and what else can that mean, but as firft inftituted, in the wildernefs? "Wherefore I caufed them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them "into the wilderness; and I gave them my fta