Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

people of the Lord.” And their wickedness increased with their time; for they still learned the corrupt and evil arts, with all ways of deceit used in the nations where they lived, until for the crimes of many, the whole nation became the common hatred of mankind. And, that we may return from this digression, this being the state of things then in the world, we may not wonder if the writers of those days were very supinely negligent, or maliciously envious, in reporting their ways, customs and religious observances. And it is acknowledged that, before those times, by the long course of idolatry and impiety wherein the whole world had been engaged, the Gentiles had utterly corrupted and lost the tradition of a Sabbatical rest. What notices of it continued in former ages, hath been before declared.

§ 25. But it is further pleaded, p. 54. that indeed the Gentiles could be no way obliged to the observance of the fourth commandment, seeing they had no indication of it, nor any means to free them from their ignorance of the being of any such law. That they had the knowledge of it, and that they had lost it, in and by their progenitors, is rejected as a vain pretence.' And so much weight is laid on this consideration, that a demand is made of somewhat to be returned in answer, that may give any satisfaction unto conscience. But I understand not the force of this pretended argument. Those who had absolutely lost the knowledge of the true God, in and by their progenitors, as the Gentiles had done, might well also lose the knowledge of all the concerns of his worship. And so they had done, excepting only that they had traduced some of his institutions, as sacrifices, into their own superstition; and so had they corrupted the use of his Sabbaths into that of their idolatrous feasts. But when the true God had no other acknowledgments amongst them, but what answered the title of the unknown God, is it any wonder that his ways and worship might be unknown amongst them also ? And it is but pretended that they had no indication of a Sabbatical rest, nor any means to free them from their ignorance. Man's duty is both to be learned and observed in order. It is in vain to expect, that

any should have indications of a holy rest unto God, before they are brought to the knowledge of God himself. When this is obtained, when the true God upon just grounds is owned and acknowledged, then that some time be set apart for his solemn worship, is of moral and natural right. That this is included in the very first notion of the true God, and our dependance upon him, all men do confess. And this principle was abused among the heathen, to be the foundation of all their stated annual, or monthly sacred solemnities, after they had nefa,

[ocr errors]

riously lost the knowledge of the only object of all religious worship. Where this progress is made, as it might have been, by attending to the directive light of nature, and the impressions of the law of it-left upon the souls of men, there will not be wanting sufficient indicatives of the meetest season for that worship. However these things were, and are to be considered and admitted in their order; and with respect unto that order is their obligation. The heathen were bound first to know and own the true God, and him alone; then to worship him solemnly ; and after that, in order of nature, to have some solemn time separated to the observance of that worship. Without an admission of these, all which were neglected and rejected by them, there is no place to inquire after the obligation of an hebdomadal rest. And their non-observance of it was their sin, not first, directly, and immediately; but consequentially, as all others are that arise from an ignorance or rejection of those greater principles whereon they do depend.

$ 26. The trivial exception from the difference of the Meridians, is yet pleaded also. For hence it is pretended to be inpossible that all men should precisely observe the same day. For if a man should sail round the world by the east, he will at his return home have gotten a day by his continual approach towards the rising sun ; and if he steer his course westward, he will lose a day in the annual revolution, as it is gotten the other way: so did the Hollanders, ann. 1615. And hence the posterity of Noah, gradually spreading themselves over the world, must have gradually come to the observance of different seasons, if we shall suppose a day of sacred rest required of thein, or appointed to them. Apage nugas.

Apage nugas. If men might sail eastward or westward, and not continually have seven days succeed. ing one another, there would be some force in this trifle. On our hypothesis, wherever men are, a seventh part of their time, or a seventh day, is to be separated to the remembrance of the rest of God, and the other ends of the Sabbath. That the observance of this portion of time shall in all places begin and end at the same instants, the law and order of God's creation will not permit. It is enough, that amongst all who can assemble for the worship of God, there is no difference in general, but that they all observe the same proportion of time. And he who by circumnavigation of the world, (such rare and extraordinary instances being not to be provided for in a general law), getteth or loseth a day, he may at his return, with a good conscience, give up again what he hath got, or retrieve what lie hath lost, with those among whom he fixeth. For all such occasional accidents are to be reduced to the common standard. All the difficulty therefore in this objection relates to the precise observance of the seventh day from the creation, and not in the least unto one day in seven. And although the seventh day was appointed principally for the land of Palestine, the seat of the church of old, wherein there was no such alteration of meridians ; yet I doubt not, but that a wandering Jew might have observed the foregoing rule, and reduced his time to order upon

his return home. What other exceptions of the like nature occur in this cause, they shall be removed and satis, fied in our next inquiry, which is after the causes of the Sabbath, and the morality of the observance of one day in

seven.

EXERCITATION XXXVII.

Third Exercitation concerning the Day of Sacred Rest.

§ 1. Of the causes of the Sabbath. § 2. God the absolute original cause of

it. Distinction of divine Jaws into moral and positive. g 3. Divine laws of a mixed nature, partly moral, partly positive. § 4. Opinion of some that the law of the Sabbath was purely positive. Difficulties of that opinion. 5. Opinion of them who maintain the observance of one day in seven to be moral. $ 6. Opinion of them who make the observance of the seventh day precisely to be a moral duty. § 7. The second opinion asserted. $ 8. The common notion of the Sabbath explained. § 9. The true notion of it farther inquired into. $ 10. Continuation of the same disquisition. $11. The law of nature wherein it consists. Opinion of the philosophers. § 12. Not comprised in the dictates of reason. No obliging authority in them formally considered. § 13. Uncertainty and disagreement about the dictates of reason. Opinions of the Magi, Zeno, Chrysippus, Plato, Archelaus, Aristippus, Carneades, Brennus, &c. § 14. Things may belong to the law of nature, which are not discoverable to the common reason of the most. § 15. The law of nature wherein it doth really consist. § 16. Light given unto a septenary sacred rest in the law of nature. 17. Farther instances thereof. § 18. The observance of the Sabbath on the same foundation with monogamy. § 19. The seventh day an appendage of the covenant of works. § 20. How far the whole notion of a weekly sacred rest was of the law of nature. § 21. Natural light obscured by the entrance of sin. $ 22. The sum of what is proposed. § 23. The inquiry about the causes of the Sabbath renewed. $ 24. The command of it in what sense a law moral, and how evidenced so to be. § 25. To worship God in associations and assemblies, a moral duty. § 26. One day in seven required to solemn worship by the law of our creation. $ 27. What is necessary to warrant the ascription of any duty to the law of creation. § 28. 1. That it be congruous to the known principles of it. § 29. 2. That it have a general principle in the light of nature. § 30. 3. That it be taught by the works of creation. Š 31. 4. Direction for its observance, by superadded revelation, no impeachment of it. § 32. How far the same duty may be required by a law moral, and by a law positive. § 33. Vindication of the truths laid down from an objection. § 34. Other evidences of the morality of this duty. § 35. Required in all states of the church. 36. These va. rious states. $ 37. Command for the Sabbath before the fall. § 38. Btfore, and at the giving of the law, and under the gospel. § 39. Whether appointed by the church. $ 40. Of the fourth commandment in the Decalogue. $ 41. The proper subject of it. § 42. The seventh day precisely, not primarily required therein. $ 43. Somewhat moral in it granted by all. 44. The matter of this command, a moral duty by the law of creation. § 45. The morality of the precept itself proved from its interest in the Decalogue by various instances. § 46. The law of the Sab. bath only preferred above all ceremonial and judicial laws. § 47. The words of our Saviour, Matt. xxiv. 20. considered. $ 48. The whole law of the Decalogue established by Christ. $ 19. Objections proposed. $ 50. 'The first answered. $ 51. The second answered. Ø 52. The third an. swered. 53. One day in seven, not the seventh day precisely required in the Decalogue. $ 54. An objection from the sense of the law.

§ 55. Answered. § 56, 57. Other objections answered. $ 58. Col. ii. 16, 17. considered.

$ 1.

We have fixed the original of the Sabbatical rest, according to the best light we have received into these things, and confirmed the reasons of it with the consent of mankind. The next step in our progress must be an inquiry into its causes. And here also we fall immediately into those difficulties and entanglements, which the various apprehensions of learned men, promoted and defended with much diligence, have occasioned. I have no design to oppose or to contend with any, although, a modest examination of the reasons of some, will be indispen bly necessary to me. All that I crave, is the liberty of proposing my own thoughts and judgment in this matter, with the reasons and grounds of them. When that is done, I shall humbly submit the whole to the examination and judgment, of all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord, and ours.

$2. First, It is agreed by all that God alone is the supreme, original, and absolute cause of the Sabbath. Whenever it began, whenever it ends, be it expired, or still in force, of what kind soever were its institution, the law of it was from God. It was from heaven, and not of men ; and the will of God is the sole rule and measure of our observance of it, and obedience to him therein. What may, or may not be done, in reference to the observance of a day of holy rest by any inferior authority, comes not here under consideration. But whereas there are two sorts of laws, whereby God requires the obedience of his ra. tional creatures, which are commonly called moral and positive, it is greatly questioned and disputed, to whether of these sorts doth belong the command of a Sabbatical rest. Positive laws are taken to be such, as have no reason for them in themselves, nothing of the matter of them is taken from the things themselves commanded, but do depend merely and solely on the sovereign will and pleasure of God. Such were the laws and institutions of the sacrifices of old; and such are those which concern the sacraments and other things of the like nature, under the New Testament. Moral laws are such as have the reasons of them taken from the nature of the things themselves, required in them. For they are good, from their respect to the nature of God himself, and from that nature and order of all things, which he hath placed in the creation.' So that this sort of laws, is but declarative of the absolute goodness of what

« ForrigeFortsæt »