Imatges de pÓgina

from that time to the departure of the Jews out of Egypt, a period of about two thousand five hundred


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 admít, only a few mémoirs of its early ages, and those extremely abridged ; or, which is more to be wondered at, in that of the lives of the three first fewish 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 inconsistent with this opinion : for as the seventh day was erected into a fabbath,


on account of God's resting upon that day from the work of the creation, it was natural enough 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 God blessed the “ seventh day, and sanctified it, becaufe that on it $6 he had rested from all his work which God “ created and made;" although the blessing and fanctification, i. e. the religious distinction and appropriation of that day, were not actually made till many ages afterwards.

afterwards. The words do not assert, that God then “ blessed” and “ fanctified" the seventh day, but that he blessed and sanctified it for that reason; and if any ask, 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 history of the subject which it was ordained to commemorate.

This interpretation is strongly supported by a passage in the prophet Ezekiel, where the fabbath is plainly spoken of as given, and what else can that mean, but as first infiituted, in the wildernefs ? " Wherefore I caused them to go forth

out of the land of Egypt, and brought them 6 into the wilderness; and I gave my


[ocr errors]

gave them

tutes, and shewed them my judgments, which « if a man do, he shall even live in thein: more

over also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign “ between me and them, that they might know “ that I am the Lord that fanctify them.” Ezek. • Xx. 10, 11, 12.

Nebemiab also recounts the promulgation of the fabbatic law amongst the transactions in the wilderness; which supplies another considerable argument in aid of our opinion : “ Moreover “ thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pil

lar, and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give “ them light in the way wherein they should go. “ Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, “ and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest “ them right judgments and true laws, good “ statutes and commandments, and madest known unto ibem thy boly fabbath, and commandedst

precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Mofes thy servant, and gavest them bread “ from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest

forth water for them out of the rock *.” Nebem, is. 12.

If * From the mention of the fabbath in so clofc a connection with the descent of God upon mount Sinai, and the delivery of the law from thence, one would be inclined to believe, that Nehemiah referred solely to the fourth commandment. But the


“ them precepts,

If it be enquired, what duties were appointed for the Jewish fabbath, and under what penalties and in what manner it was observed amongst the ancient Jews; we find that, by the fourth commandment, a strict ceffation from work was enjoined, not only upon Jews by birth, or religious profession, but upon all who resided within the limits of the Jewish state ; that the same was to be permitted to their slaves and their cattle ; that this rest was not to be violated under pain of death : “ Whosoever doeth any work in the “ fabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.' Exod. xxxi. 15. Beside which, the seventh day was to be solemnized by double facrifices in the temple. And on the fabbath day two lambs “ of the first year without spot, and two tenth “ deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled “ with oil, and the drink offering thereof; this “ is the burnt offering of every sabbath, beside “ the continual burnt offering and his drink of“ fering.” Numb. xxviii. 9, 10. Also boly con

[ocr errors]

fourth commandment certainly did not first make known the fabbath. And it is apparent, that Nehemiah observed not the order of events, for he speaks of what passed upon mount Sinii before he mentions the miraculous supplies of bread andwater, though the Jewus did not arrive at mount Sinai till some time after both these miracles were wrought.


vocations, which mean, we presume, assemblies for the purpose of public worship or religious instruction, were directed to be held on the labbath day; "the seventh day is a fabbath of rest, "an holy convocation.” Lev. xxiii. 3.

And accordingly we read, that the sabbath was in fact observed amongst the Jews, by a scrupulous abstinence from every thing which, by any possible construction, could be deemed labour; as from dressing meat, from travelling beyond a fabbath day's journey, or about a single mile. In the Maccabean wars, they suffered a thousand of their number to 'be flain, rather than do any thing in their own defence on the fabbath day. In the final siege of Jerusalem, after they had so far overcome their scruples, as to defend their persons when attacked, they refused any operation on the fabbath day, by which they might have interrupted the enemy in filling up the trench. After the establishment of synagogues (of the origin of which we have no account), it was the custom to allemble in them upon the fabbath day, for the purpose of hearing the Law rehearsed and explained, and for the exercise, it is probable, of public devotion. “ For Moses of “ old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the fynagogues every fabbath


« AnteriorContinua »