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the Israelites, it was required to be kept a natural day. This we know, because no alteration of the original institution is specified in the command; and because, in Lev. xxiii. 32, God says to the people respecting the great day of atonement, From even unto even shall ye celebrate your
Sabbath. “ Fourthly.The Jewish Sabbath commenced with the darkness, or with the time which we commonly denote by candlelighting. This is evident from Neh. xiii. 19: “ And it came to pass that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark, before the Sabbath.” It is here evident, that the Sabbath had not commenced on Friday evening when the gates began to be dark, or, in our customary language, when the dusk of the evening commenced in that city. The Sabbath also, as a natural day, began originally at the same time; the first day of the creation having commenced with absolute darkness. The time of darkness to us, is the time when we can no longer see to transact ordinary business by the light of the sun.
“ Fifthly.The Christian Sabbath is the first day of the week, and a natural day; because there is no hint given us in the New Testament of any alteration made as to the mode in this respect. Dr. Macknight' informs us, that the ancient Christians began their Sabbath on the evening of Saturday. Some Christians have supposed, that the time when our Lord arose from the dead, is that at which the present Sabbath ought to begin. This is evidently an error; because that time is not declared in the New Testament, and therefore cannot be known by us. ACcordingly, these Christians begin the Sabbath at midnight; a time of human appointment merely. This, to me, seems unwarrantable.” Thus far the Doctor.
As these arguments, though somewhat multiplied, seem to grow out of two sources, viz.-1. The expression in Genesis, The evening and the morning were the first day. 2. The practice of the Jews in celebrating their Sabbath from evening to evening, and this by divine appointment—it is thought that justice may be done to the subject by replying to these two sources only.
First.-As to the argument from the expression, the evening and the morning were the first day, two things are necessary to make this argument good. 1st. The word evening must be equivalent in meaning to the word night, and the word morning to the word day. 2dly. The whole must be equivalent to a declaration, that the evening (or night) came first, and the morning (or day) followed. If either of these should fail, the whole argument built upon this passage would evidently fall through. But neither of them is agreeable to fact, as far as I can learn from any source.
The English words evening and morning, it is humbly be
lieved, no one would ever think of considering equivalent to the words night and day. They uniformly mean the first part of each. The evening means the early part of the night, but never the whole night. The morning likewise means the early part of the day, but never the whole day. So far then as the English words are concerned the argument fails entirely, if the translation is correct; and of its correctness in the main, we never have heard a doubt suggested.
But for the sake of greater certainty, let us appeal to the original. The Heb. 27 is defined by the learned Parkhurst, “ The evening, or more properly all the time from mid-day to night, so called, because, as soon as the sun has passed the meridian, the evening air from the western or darkened part of the heavens begins to mix with the day, which mixture continues till night; when the day is overpowered, the darkness prevails, and the mixture of daylight ceases.”
From this definition, the word any instead of meaning the whole night, as was necessary to the argument, we find exactly equivalent in meaning to our English word evening: the close of the day, and the beginning of the night, or that part of the twenty-four hours when day is declining and night commencing. And if this word must be interpreted so as to include half of the twenty-four hours, it might, with more propriety, include the twelve hours from noon, when the sun begins to decline, till midnight, than any other.
The Heb. apa is defined by the same author thus:-" The morning, or morning-light, which springing forth upon the earth, surveys and searches out all things.” It may at once be seen with how much propriety this word could be made to include the whole day, or twelve hours from sunrising till sunsetting. Especially, it is strange, that an important argument should be left to this gratuitous and unwarrantable construction for its only support. But to make it still more evident that these words are not equivalent to night and day, these latter are mentioned in the same sentence under their proper appellation, Gen. i. 5.“ And called the light day, and the darkness he called night.” “ And the evening and the morning were the first day.” It is hardly supposable, that the same things would be mentioned under different names in the same sentence, and that without giving any notice of the change, or without any apparent necessity.
As to the second proposition, which is necessary to make the argument good, viz.—The evening (meaning the night) must have come first, and the morning (meaning the day) must have followed, which is by no means certain from the text. It is true, the word evening comes before the word morning, but the declaration that the evening came first, in fact, is entirely want
ing. It may have come first, or it may not, from any thing that can be concluded from the text. It is by no means the genius of the English, or any other language, that where several items are mentioned in succession, that the one which is mentioned first was first in fact, in place, or in time. When we say Peter and James and John are coming, it is by no means conclusive that Peter is foremost, and James next, and John last. They may be all equally near; nor would any one be apt to conclude, that the one who was mentioned first was actually foremost.So when it is said, “ He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” certainly to conclude that baptism, in order to its validity, must necessarily come after believing, because it is mentioned after, is wresting language from its intended use. A cause incurs the suspicion of being a weak one, which is constrained to resort to such arguments for its support.
But why should the evening be uniformly mentioned first unless it came first, as one or the other must have preceded? I answer I cannot tell, only that the Holy Ghost has seen fit so to express it, one or the other must be mentioned first, and there is no reason why this form of expression is not as good as any. If the order of the expression had been reversed, and the morning mentioned first, the same question might be asked, to which we should be equally incompetent to give an answer. But with regard to the assertion that one or the other must have come first in fact, we cannot assent to it. For owing to the spherical form of the earth, neither morning nor evening, neither day nor night, could have come first; but both of them must have commenced precisely at the same time. This proposition must be evident to any one who has the slightest acquaintance with astronomy. The earth being spherical, the time when it is day at one place, it must be night at every place on the opposite side of the globe. When it is morning in one place, it is evening in the other. Noon and midnight will, at the same moment, occupy opposite points on the earth's surface. So that necessarily no one part of the twenty-four hours could have preceded the other, as to the whole globe. And there was as yet no part of it distinguished from the rest by the garden of Eden, or by inhabitants, for the earth was hitherto without form and void. M. H.
(To be continued.)
A Narrative of the State of Religion, within the bounds of the Ge
neral Assembly of the Presbyterian Church; and of the General Associations of Connecticut and Massachusetts, and the General Convention of Vermont, during the last year. THE General Assembly in sending to the churches the annual narrative of the state of religion within their bounds, wish them grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.
We have much reason to offer our thanksgivings to the Great Head of the church for the many tokens of his love, with wbich he has visited that portion of it, which is in our land, during the past year. He has given many convincing proofs, that he has been present with the assemblies of his people to bless them, by bestowing upon them the sanctifying influences of his Holy Spirit. Him we acknowledge and adore as our Redeemer and head, as the foundation of our hopes and the source of all grace, and we ascribe glory and dominion to Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.
But while there are many reasons for thankfulness and rejoicing, there is much also to be deplored.
It is with deep sorrow, that the Assembly have heard numerous complaints of lukewarmness and conformity to the world, among professing Christians. The neglect of family prayer, the want of zeal for extending the interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, attachment to the world, conformity to its sinful customs and pleasures, and in some few instances, dissensions and backslidings prove that these complaints are but too well founded. Such professors seem to have forgotten the deep obligations which they are under, from their own voluntary engagements of obedience to God, and from the dying love of Him who gave himself for them, to redeem them from all iniquity; that the God whom we serve is “a jealous God;" and that the sins of his professing people are peculiarly hateful to him. We affectionately, and yet solemnly call upon them to remember from whence they are fallen, and to repent and do their first works; to be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to
In some parts of our land, attempts are made to propagate the most perni. cious errors. With a zeal worthy of a better cause, and under lofty pretensions. to superior rationality and to deeper discoveries in religion, some are endeavouring to take away the crown from the Redeemer's head; to degrade Him who is the mighty God and the prince of life, to a level with mere men, and to rob us of all our hopes of redemption through his blood. Pretending too, a more expanded benevolence to man, and more ennobled ideas of the goodness and mercy of God, they assiduously propagate the sentiment, that all men will ultimately obtain eternal happiness, however sinful their present temper and conduct may be, without any regard to the cleansing of the blood of atonement, or the sanctifying influences of the Spirit of God. Believing that these sentiments are utterly subversive of gospel truth and holiness; that they are alike dishonouring to God, and destructive to the present and eternal welfare of men, we cannot but affectionately warn you against them. Beware brethren, lest ye also being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stead. fastness. Cherish an ardent attachment to the truth which is according to godliness: and seek to experience in your own souls its sanctifying influence.
The gross vices of intemperance, profane swearing, Sabbath breaking and gambling, still extensively exist. The excessive use of spirituous liquors continues to produce the most deplorable effects, and threatens still greater injury. That such crimes should any where exist, is matter of astonishment and sorrow. They prove that man has deeply apostatized from God: and that our nature is both degraded and depraved.
But there is one subject to which the Assembly advert with the most painful feelings. Vast sections of our country, particularly our frontiers, are destitute of the stated means of grace, and are loudly calling upon us in the words of the man of Macedonia, come over and help us.
In the Presbytery of Niagara, which consists of twenty-six congregations, there are but four which have pastors. In the Presbytery of Genessee, which consists of nineteen congregations, two only have pastors, and of these two, but one enjoys the stated preaching of the gospel more than half the time. In the Presbytery of Bath, the churches are few, and most of them feeble and desti. tute of the ministry of the word. There are but six ministers in nearly as many counties. Multitudes are evidently living without God in the world, and pay. ing not even an outward respect to the institutions of the gospel. In many fa. milies the Scriptures are not to be found, and in too many instances, little or no desire is shown to possess them. In many places no meetings for the public
worship of God are held; and in many others, such meetings are thinly attend. ed. In the Presbytery of Champlain, many towns are destitute of a preached gospel and church privileges; and in the Presbytery of Susquehanna, which spreads over an extensive country, among twenty-six congregations, which are widely scattered, there are but ten ministers. Of twenty-nine congregations, which belong to the Presbytery of Erie, twenty-one are destitute of a stated ministry; and of thirty-three congregations which belong to the Presbytery of Louisville, more than half are in the same destitute condition. In the Presbytery of Union, two or three times the present number of ministers are needed, to supply the spiritual wants of that portion of our church. In the Presbytery of Grand River, which consists of twenty-nine congregations, there are but twelve ministers. The Presbytery of West Tennessee, which spreads over a large tract of country, and embraces within its bounds a population of 310,000 inhabitants, has only fourteen ministers belonging to it; and there is not a single licentiate within their bounds. The few missionaries who have passed through this region have been well received, and much solicitude is manifested by the people to obtain the labours of a zealous and enlightened ministry. That sec. tion of our church which is contained within the bounds of the Presbyteries of Missouri and Mississippi, loudly calls for the attention of the Christian public. The Presbytery of Missouri extends over a country nearly 300 miles square, and contains upwards of 120,000 inhabitants: and much of it is still a moral waste. Thousands are crying for the bread of life; and there is reason to be. lieve that many new churches might be formed, if there were a sufficient number of faithful and devoted ministers. The Presbytery of Mississippi too, covers a vast extent of country, embracing the two states of Mississippi and Louisiana, the population of which, must considerably exceed 200,000 souls. Though covering such a vast extent of country and embracing so large a population, only eight ministers belong to it, and only four licentiates are under its care. Several towns of importance, which are rapidly increasing in population and wealth, present most interesting stations for missionary labours. Among these, New Orleans deserves to be particularly mentioned," as presenting a field for exertions truly astonishing for magnitude, interest, and difficulty. It contains 46,000 inhabitants, and is annually growing in resources of all kinds. The short ministry of Mr. Larned we have reason to believe was very useful, and while we affectionately sympathize with the congregation in that city, on the loss of their late esteemed pastor, we offer our prayers to God, that he would speedily bestow on them another faithful pastor to supply his place. The Pres. bytery of Georgia, which extends over more than half the state of Georgia, and consists of but eight ministers; and the Presbytery of Concord, contain within their bounds, extensive tracts of country, where the ordinances and institutions of religion are hardly known.
In most of these destitute parts of our country, pernicious errors are assiduously and successfully propagated; and in all of them gross immoralities abound. Removed from the benign influence of the gospel of Jesus, without its powerful restraints, destitute of Sabbaths and Sanctuaries, unchecked by the solemn admonitions, and uncheered by the glorious hopes of the gospel, multitudes there live in sin, and die in impenitence. Seldom does the herald of salvation raise his inviting voice among them, and seldom do the sounds of prayer and praise ascend as grateful offerings to heaven. And these are our brethren; bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh; many of their fathers worshipped with our fathers in the same Sanctuary, and with many of them we have gone up to the house of God. Surely their claims upon our Christian liberality are peculiarly strong: and we cannot suffer their carnest requests, that we would send them the word of life, to be refused.
It is truly gratifying to learn, that a very earnest desire is felt, and a laudable z.cal shown, to obtain the gospel ministry in these destitute parts of our land. Many of the followers of Jesus offer up to him their fervent prayers, that he would send among them faithful labourers; and Sabbath day schools, and Missionary, and Education Societies, have been in some places established. In some instances, the destitute congregations persevere in maintaining public worship; and there is an increasing attention to the means of grace. We have