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returned every seventh day; and by the strict observance of this ordinance, the holy patriarchs, and the Jews their descendants, made as it were a public protestation once in every week against the errors of idolatry.—To this protestation against heathenism, the propriety of which binds the worshippers of the true God in all ages to a weekly sabbath, it is reasonable that Christians should add a similar protestation againstJudaism. It was necessary that Christians should openly separate as it were from the communion of the Jews, who, after their perverse rejection of our Lord, ceased to be the true church of God; and the sanctification of the Saturday being the most visible and notorious character of the Jewish worship, it was necessary that the Christian sabbath should be transferred to some other day of the week. A change of the day being for these reasons necessary, the choice of the apostles was directed to the first day of the week, as that on which our Lord's resurrection finished and sealed the work of our redemption: so that, in the same act by which we acknowledge the Creator, and protest against the claims of the Jews tò be still the depositaries of the true religion, we might confess the Saviour whom the Jews crucified."*
This sanctification of the day of our Lord's resurrection by the new-covenant church, was prophetically notified by David, when he wrote
Bishop Horsley's Sermons, Ser. XXIII.
“ The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”* The words of the text an
.' nounce that day as having actually become the period of sabbatic remembrance and consecration -“I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day;" for there can be no question but that such was the reference of the apostle, and his expressions, so interpreted, plainly involve the fact, that the authority of this day, as the one of Christian solemnity, had already been fully assumed and was universally recognized. If there be doubt on the minds of any as to its sanction, in consequence of the absence of a distinct command, that doubt we imagine must be cleared away on a just consideration of the whole circumstances by which the institution is commended. We shall distinctly advert to two facts in order to confirm the deduction made from the text; and we anticipate that the season we are now devoting to our Saviour and our God, will be acknowledged as invested with all the honour divine appointment can bestow.
The example of the apostles and early Chris, tians carries with it the weight of conclusive authority. We find from the evangelical record, that instantly on the event of our Lord's resurrection, the practice of celebrating “ the
* Psalm cxyiii. 22-24.
Lord's day” was commenced by his inspired servants, whose conduct in so acting could not but be according to the divine will, doubtless to them formally expressed, and does itself constitute to us a sufficient and a binding law. On the day of Pentecost, the first in the week, “ they were all with one accord in one
-met by agreement for the high purposes of religion, which then was to receive the most solemn and striking attestation of the promised Spirit, and which then was to take the first step in its progress by the preaching of the truth. At Troas, “ on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow, and continued his speech until midnight.”+ In an exhortation to the Corinthian church, respecting an exertion of Christian charity, that apostle requested—“Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”I These appear to us unequivocal instances of the fact, that under apostolic direction, and when error was impossible, “ the Lord's day” received the stated reverence of his people. There is also satisfactory evidence from other sources to show, that hence was formed the universal practice of the Christian church, and that in the times nearest to the introduction of the gospel, the weekly period devoted to piety and spiritual improvement, was the same as that which is now consecrated by the faithful.* The season hailed with holy rejoicing by the saints of God in these latter days, was celebrated also in the ages of primitive simplicity and zeal, when religion held her fairest form, and effected her most wondrous triumphs.—Must not that be an unimpeachable institution which has thus been commended, and is to be traced up, not to secondary authorities, but to the immediate and inspired delegates of the Lord ?
† Acts xx. 7. | 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2.
* Acts ii. 1.
The usefulness with which the observance of the Christian sabbath has been attended, is a full ratification of all it has claimed. God has given to it the clearest tokens of his approval, and has made it eminent by events of ineffable importance to his own glory, and to human happiness. The astonishing occurrences of the day of Pentecost, when the commission of the Christian ministry was opened, and when thousands were converted to the gospel, was a delightful seal to the“ Lord's day,”anda pledge of its achievements in the world. How plentifully, by the means of grace on this day employed through successive ages,—how plentifully has the Holy Spirit descended in the exercise of his precious and redeeming influence! How many sinners have been turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,--how many inquirers have been satisfied,—how many penitents have been encouraged,-how many mourners have been comforted,—how many saints have been nourished and established in grace ! - By the engagements of the sabbath, principally, error has received its most effective refutation, and Satan has suffered his heaviest blow; truth has most widely diffused its principles, and Heaven has most triumphantly enforced its claims; and to this source must be in a great measure ascribed whatever prospects are now opened, that religion shall reach the goal of universal empire. Is it to be believed, if the institution for which we plead be a mere appointment of human caprice, and a usurpation on a season ordained of God—and if it be not of God it cannot be otherwise that He himself would thus have sanctioned its continuance, by signs of complacency the most decisive his omnipotence could bestow? Would he have permitted a season of his own selection to fall into desuetude, and invested an invention that had thrust it from its place, with all the
* “ All Christians were unanimous in setting apart the first day of the week, on which the triumphant Saviour arose from the dead, for the solemn celebration of public worship. This pious custom, which was derived from the example of the church at Jerusalem, was founded upon the express appointment of the apostles, who consecrated that day to the same sacred purpose, and was observed universally throughout all the Christian churches, as appears from the united testimonies of the most credible writers.” Mosheim's Eccles. Hist. b. i. p. ii. c. iv. Several interesting testimonies are quoted by Dr. Lardner, especially from Ignatius, Justin Martyr, and Tertullian. Lardner's Works, II. 433. ed. 1815.