Imatges de pàgina
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chapter of Exodus the fabbath and these are recited together.

If the command by which the fabbath was instituted be binding upon Christians, it must be binding as to the day, the duties, and the penalty ; in none of which it is received.

The obfervance of the fabbath was not one of the articles enjoined by the Apostles, in the fifteenth chapter of Afts, upon them “which, “ from among the Gentiles, were turned unto 6 God."

St. Paul evidently appears to have considered the sabbath as part of the Jewish ritual, and not obligatory upon Christians as such : "Let no man “ therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in

respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, " or of the fubbath days, which are a shadow of " things to come, but the body is of Christ." Col. ii. 16, 17

I am aware of only two objections, which can be opposed to the force of these arguments: one is, that the reason aligned in the fourth commandment for hallowing the seventh day, namely, “ because God reited on the seventh day “ from the work of the creation," is a reason which pertains to all mankind; the other, that the command which enjoins the observance of

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the fabbath is inserted in the decalogue, of which all the other precepts and prohibitions are of moral and universal obligation.

Upon the first objection it may be remarked, that although in Exodus the commandment is founded upon God's rest from the creation, in Deuteronomy the commandment is repeated with a reference to a different event: “Six days shalt “ thou labour, and do all thy work; but the “ seventh day is the fabbath of the Lord thy * God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou,

nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man“ servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thine ox, “ nor thine afs, nor any of thy cattle, nor the

. stranger that is within thy gates ; that thy man“ servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well

as thou: and remember that thou wast a fervant 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 fabbath day.” It is farther obfervable, that God's rest from the creation is

proposed as the reason of the institution, even where the institution itself is spoken of as peculiar to the Jews :-" Wherefore the children of Israel “ fhall keep the fabbath, to observe the fabbath

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" 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 “ feventh day he rested and was refreshed.” The truth is, these different reasons were assigned to account for different circuinstances in the command. If a Jew enquired, wliy the seventh day was fanclified rather than the sixth or eighth, his law told him, because God rested on the seventh day from the creation. If he asked, why was the same rest indulged to slavesaz his law bid him remember, that he also: was a flave in the land of Egypt, and " that the Lord his God brought “ him out thence.” In this view, the two reasons are perfectly compatible with cach other, and with a third end of the institu:ion, its being a Jign between God and the people of Irael; but in this view they determine nothing concerning the extent of the obligation. If the realon by.its proper energy had constituted a natural obligation, or if it had been mentioned with a view. to the extent of the obligation, we should submit to the conclusion, that all were comprehended by the command who' are concerned in the reafon. But the fabbatic rest being a duty which results from the ordination and authority of a

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positive law, the reason can be alleged no far: ther than as it explains the design of the legislator; and if it appear to be recited with an intentional application to one part of įhe law, it explains his design upon no other; if it be mentioned merely to account for the choice of the day, it does not explain his delign as to the extent of the obligation.

With respect to the second objection, that inasmuch as the other pine commandments are confesedly of moral and univerfal obligation, it may reasonably be presumed that this is of the fame-we answer, that this argument will have leis weight, when it is considered that the diftinction between positive and natural duties, like other distinctions of modern ethics, was unknown to the simplicity of ancient language; and that there are various passages in fcripture, in which duties of a political, or ceremonial, or positive nature, and confessedly of partial obligation, are enumerated, and without any mark of discrimination, along with others which are natural and universal. Of this the following is an incontestable example: “ But if a man be just, and do that “ which is lawful and right;, and hath nor eaten

upon the mountains, nor hath lifted up his eyes " to the idols of the house of Israel; neither hath

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“ defiled his neighbour's wife, neither bath come s near to a menstruous woman; and hath not op

pressed any, but hath restored to the debtor “ his pledge; hath spoiled none by violence; “ hath given his bread to the hungry, and hath “ covered the naked with a garment; he that " bath not given upon usury, neither hath saken any

increase; that hath withdrawn his hand from iniquity; hath esecuted true judgment between

man and man; hath walked in my statutes, “ and hath kept my judgments to deal truly; he

is just, he shall surely live, faith the Lord God.” Ezek. xviii. 5-9. The same thing may be observed of the apostolic decree recorded in the fifteenth chapter of the Asts—" It seerned good to “ the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no

greater burthen than these necessary things ; that ye

abstain from meats offered to idols, and “ from blood, and from things strangled, and * from fornication : from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well.”

II. If the law by which the sabbath was initituted, was a law only to the Jews, it becomes an important question with the Christian enquirer, whether the founder of his religion delivered any new command upon the subject; or, if that hould not appear to be the case, whether any

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