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this earth shall be burned up, it shall be found —that their“goodness was as a morning cloud, and that as the early dew it went away
REV. 1. 10.
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day.
From this interesting record, delivered by the apostle John in commencing the narrative of his sublime visions in Patmos, your attention is to be occupied on a subject the importance of which will surely be admitted,—the claims of the Christian sabbath. That the character of the times in which we live, renders the inculcation of just principles respecting this sacred day eminently desirable, cannot but be perceived by all who understand and feel what is due to the honour of God, and what is necessary to the welfare of man. By many, in this land of privilege and responsibility, who profess a connexion with religion, “ the Lord's day” receives a very inadequate regard; others, refusing all restraint and concealment, insult it by open and profane violation; nor is the fear entirely groundless, that the lamentable evils of neglect are positively extending their influence. In these circumstances, it appears the duty of those who are “ set for the defence of the gospel,” to make direct exertion on behalf of an institution to the treatment of which momentous issues are attached. Believing that there are some by whom this discourse will be heard, who require the language of reproof and warning, and that every auditor may derive advantage from being reminded of existing obligations, the subject is formally presented :-0 that the God of the sabbath would arise, and plead his own cause !
There are some topics connected with the Christian sabbath, into which it will not be possible fully to enter; but endeavouring to comprehend all that may be useful, as far as the limits of one discourse will allow, we shall request you to consider this day, as a day of divine sanction, a day of holy employment, and a day of Christian gladness and anticipation.Consider it,
I. As A DAY OF DIVINE SANCTION.
The separation of one day of the week by the act of God, was performed immediately after he had completed the creation of the world. “ On the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God created and made.”* This day was so set apart, that it might becommemorated by man
• Gen. ii. 2, 3.
as the day of God,-a day in which secular cares and occupations were to be laid aside, and in which his greatness, as the Creator and Governor of the universe, was to be specially acknowledged and adored. As an institution transmitted from age to age for this purpose, it was evidently well known by the descendants of the patriarchs at the time of their deliverance from Egypt, and before their reception of the law; for we find, that in gathering the manna in the wilderness, they collected on the sixth day of the week sufficient for that, and for the day following; and miraculous arrangements were made to prevent an encroachment on the period of whose sanctity they were reminded—“ Tomorrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord.”* When the law was uttered from Sinai, the memorable commandment—" Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy”—was pronounced to enforce the observance;t and on many subsequent occasions the prophets of the Lord repeated this part of his will, that the guilt of desecration might be carefully avoided,--for it was heinous and ruinous. The sabbatic ordinance, thus insisted upon, it must be carefully remarked in opposition to certain assumptions of modern latitudinarianism, is not to be regarded as an appointment merely connected with the national polity of a peculiar people, intended with that polity to expire,—but as one essentially fixed and permanent, admitting no possibility
+ Exod. xx. 8.
* Exod. xvi. 22–30.
of abrogation, united with important moral purposes of the divine government, and coeval in its authority with the extent and existence of the world,
While the sabbath is itself perpetual, the time of its celebration has undergone some alteration with the introduction of Christianity. Under the Jewish dispensation, it was held on the seventh day of the week,-under the dispensation of the gospel it is held on the first. The reason of that change of day, is to be found in the fact, that “ on the first day of the week” our Lord Jesus, the great Mediator between God and man, performed his glorious resurrection from the dead ; and that, by the establishment of the economy of which that event was the seal,--another covenant being then instituted, a new creation being then accomplished,—objects of commemoration arose, in addition to what previously existed, in themselves transcendently sublime, and of unspeakable importance to be preserved with all possible distinctness on the memories of mankind. The words of a distinguished writer admirably express what we judge to be the state of the case.-" The original observation of a sabbath on every seventh day, was a public and distinguishing characteristic of the worship of the Creator, who finished his work in six days, and rested on the seventh. This was the public character by which the worship of the true God was distinguished, that his festival