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dictates of feeling. The simple fact that while man is in want of ever receiving repose for his body, and under the strongest obligations to offer God the adoration of his heart and prepare for a higher state of existence, he is, if left to himself, in constant danger of neglecting both, should of itself deeply impress him with the desirableness of having, nay, with the expectation of actually finding a specific day set apart by divine authority for these purposes.
With the Christian, to a greater or less degree, it has these effects. Accordingly he finds the institution of the Sabbath by divine example, interwoven with the very history of the creation, and also various allusions to it, in the mention made of a weekly division of time, in the book of Genesis, as well as in the oldest Heathen traditions which have been preserved. He also finds it spoken of, as a well known institution, soon after the passage of the Israelites through the Red sea, and expressly enjoined for observance as such in the words, “ Remember the Sabbath day,” of the fourth commandment of the decalogue, which was given with such awful solemnity by God himself, from the top of Sinai, was engraven on tables of stone, and was ever spoken of, by Christ and his Apostles, as of universal obligation. Here then is enough for the Christian. With these facts before him he will hardly dispense with the keeping of the Sabbath, and in proportion to the integrity of his heart, he will doubtless receive it as a divine institution and of universal obligation. True, as a matter of fact, he finds, that under the Christian dispensation, the seventh day has been exchanged for the first; but then, the spirit of the institution requiring only a seventh portion of time, evidently permitted such a change; and besides, even though there does not appear to have been any direct command given for this change, he sees good reasons why it should have been made. The seventh day kept by the Jews was connected with various rites and ceremonies peculiar to the Mosaic dispensation, and, under the gospel, altogether useless. It was fit that they should be done away. Moreover, the seventh day was originally fixed upon by the Creator, in honor of the completion of the work of creation. Was it not as proper that the first day should afterwards be fixed upon in honor of the completion of the work of redemption ? Was not this second creation, indeed, a work far more glorious, and calculated to reflect far more honor on the Creator, than the first? In addition to all this, however, the Christian feels that he is entitled to expect the blessings conferred upon man in the institution of the Sabbath, from the author of the dispensation under which he lives.
The Jew, severe and burdensome as the laws of Moses were, was blessed with this institution. One day in seven, he was called upon to bring not only his own labors, but those of his servants and even his beasts, to a close, and, while nature was recruiting, to give himself up to delightful and holy contemplations. Then, the bustling cares of life ceased, the gates of the cities were closed, and joy was in the habitation of the Hebrew, ---the solemn dance, and the sacred song of praise ; while children received instruction from their parents respecting the Creator, the duties of life, and the history and prospects of the church ; and when the hour of holy convocation arrived, a deeply interested throng were seen winding their way towards the tabernacle or the temple, —were assembled around their prophets,—they listened to the reading and exposition of the law or the declarations of the Iloly Spirit, and engaged in other acts of devotion. Blessed day! Everyone feels that, to the Jew, it was truly such, and admires the kindness and benevolence of the heavenly King, to whom he acknowledged allegiance, in setting it apart and consecrating it for him. The Christian lives under a far milder dispensation than the Jew did,---a dispensation which is characterized by the exhibition it makes of the love and benevolence of its author. And is be not
, as liable to fatigue and as strongly obligated to worship Goul, as the Jew was, and, in these respects in as great need of a Sabbath? And from the dispensation under which he lives, is he not entitled to expect, at least as much as the Jew received from his? In short, from the principle of love which lies at the foundation of the Gospel, or, in other words, from the benevolent author of the Gospel itself, is he not entitled to expect the institution of the Sabbath! This is certainly the case. One day in seven is the least that he can have for recruiting the body and for divine worship. To imply the contrary is to reílect upon the character of ihe Redeemer.
And then. what delightful associations cluster around this day! As the Jewish Sabbath, it is the day in which the Creator rested from his labor, “ the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy," at the completion of the grand fabric of the universe. It is the day in which the worship of God commenced on earth, and Eden first became vocal with his praise. Its observance was connected with the richest promises of Jehovah and brought down innumerable streams of blessing upon the whole land of the Israelites. All the pious of the ancient church esteemed it a delight, hailing its return as the visits of the great Creator himself,--and spent it in holy contemplations and in looking forward to a new and more glorious era in the church. As the Christian Sabbath, it is the day in which, while the earth shook and the keepers become as dead men, the angel of the Lord, with a countenance like lightning, and with raiment white as snow, descended from heaven and rolled back the stone from the door of the sepulchre; the sleeping Son of God, having conpleted the work of redemption, the new creation, burst asunder the bonds of death and triumphed over the grave, leading captivity captive and giving gifts unto men; and his divine radiance began to light up the darkest and most distant corners of the earth. It is the day in which he repeated his visits to his followers during his last short sojourn on earth, thus enjoining it upon them, as it were, by example, to meet for his worship on this day, and giving them reason, on such occasions in particular, always to expect his visits. It is the day in which, while the disciples were with one accord in one place, waiting to be endowed with power from on high, suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing, mighty wind, fillling the whole house, there appeared upon them cloven tongues like as of fire, sitting upon each of them, and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance ;-the day, in which Peter, a few hours afters, preached the first Christian sermon ever preached, and three thousand were converted to the Lord; and it is the day in which the Apostles and their converts met together to engage in acts of devotion, listen to instruction, celebrate the Lord's supper, and take up contributions for the poor ;-the day in which John the beloved disciple was in the spirit and received his revelation ; --the day in which the primitive Christians universally met together to sing praises “to Christ as to God; the day in which all Christians of every age have given themselves up to his worship;--and the day now consecrated throughout Christendom to ihe same poble employment, and in which prayers and praises ascend to heaven simultaneously from almost every part of the globe. In short, it is the birth-day of souls, the Christian's season of intimate communion wiih heaven, the only relict left us of the purities and joys of Paradise, and our brightest emblem of the eternal rest we hope to find with our Redeemer above, free from all the impurities and pangs of sin. Thus respecting the Sabbath, feels and reasons the man whose heart is full of love to God; and thus, to a greater or less degree, will such - men, genuine Christians, continue to feel and reason about it, and the Christian's Sabbath be observed from generation to generation, until all his days are blended in one eternal Sabbath of rest.
Not so with him whose heart is not full of ardent love to God. He is willing perhaps, to admit in general terms, the expediency of a uniformily recurring day of rest. He has no desire, however, for such a day of holiness. On the other hand, he shrinks from the idea of such a thing. His sabbath must be at his own disposal. He must have liberty to do his own pleasure in it, to walk, visit, ride, sail, or engage in any other recreation. He complains that bigots and priests have perverted the Sabbath to a day of gloom. With such feelings, he is not very likely to come to the conclusion that it is a divine institution of universal obligation. Entering upon the examination of the Bible under the influence of cold-blooded criticism, and skeleton theories, he finds it speaking quite another language. He easily imagines the declaration, that God rested the seventh day and sanctified it, to have been foisted into the text, or intended to show that the Sabbath was ultimately instituted in commemoration of an event some thousands of years after it happened. Of the various allusions to a weekly division of time, scattered through the oldest books of sacred and profane history, he makes no account. The fourth commandment had reference to the Jews only ; and in short, as a matter of fact, the Jewish sabbath has been abolished and no other day has been substituted by divine appointment in its stead. This mode of reasoning seems clear and lucid; and as he has no strong attachment to the day, no fond remembrances of the manner in which it has been hallowed from age to age, no ardent longings for the courts of the Lord, no wishes for intimate communion with heaven, he embraces it, and, thus cuts conscience from her moorings and leaves the Sabbath to desecration. For, need it be said, that nothing but a belief in the divine institution and universal obligations of the Sabbath will preserve it from desecration ? Look at our annual fast. It is the day in which our pilgrim fathers humbled themselves before the Lord in all their afflictions, confessing their sins and imploring the divine compassion. It is intimately connected with the history of our New England churches, and has clustered around it, many a fond association. Besides, what Christian does not feel the need he has of fasting for his own sins and those of his country, at least one day in the year ? It is true,' however, that there is no divine command which calls upon us to keep such a fast. It is merely recommended to our attention by our chief magistrate. And how is this day treated ?
Few observe it as a fast to the Lord. By many it is not heeded at all; and by multitudes it is uniformly spent in sports and plays, hunting and fishing, and often too in the immediate vicinity of the house of God and his assembled worshippers.
Such is the manner of feeling and reasoning respecting the Christian Sabbath, which has long been cherished among the neologists and theorists in religion of Germany, and it may also be added, among the same classes of persons in England and our own country Their views have at length become those, not only of the large mass of the unthinking irreligious, but some of those who would lay claim to a more elevated character. This is painful to the Christian, but perhaps it is as well so. He must expect to feel the poisonous influence of sin and have to struggle against its corruptions, until the millennial sun bursts upon the world, or he arrives at the blessed land where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. The purification of the heart and the enlightening of the mind will produce a change in this respect ; but until this is effected, is it not as well for the wicked in all their different grades, to be brought out to view, not merely by the opposition they exhibit to the plain and obvious parts of the divine law, but by the very obscurity in which the Holy Spirit has left some points in Christian ethics, as a more delicate test, to try the integrity of the heart? Should we complain, because the wicked, under the influence of their feelings, take the rank to which they properly belong ? On the other hand, ought we not to feel grateful, that we can behold a mark upon their forehead, and thus warned, separate ourselves from them? I do not forget, in these remarks, that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath ; nor that great charity must be exercised in this world of imperfection, toward those who honestly differ from us in opinion. And this brings me to the most painful part of my subbject.
It is a matter of fact, that many who profess to be Christians, have become greatly assimilated to the world, in their manner of keeping the Sabbath. Wherever we cast our eyes, we find it strongly desecrated among them. A majority of the German church spend it in meetings of business, rides of pleasure, and in any thing in short, but private devotion. The same is too true of the English church. Among ourselves, while there are many pious who esteem the Sabbath as a day of delight, and endeavor to keep it to the Lord, there are multitudes with whom it commands no respect whatever as a didivine institution, With our fathers, it was the most blessed of