Billeder på siden

in this life; yet he ought sometimes to enjoy rest from his earthly labours, and sometime pay worship to the God of heaven." Both these are taught us by the light of reason. There will be some seasons wherein the animal nature of man and beast require some rest from their toil, and that besides the mere sleep of the night. Constant and unceasing toil and labour, from morning to evening, thoughout our whole life, would wear out natures made of flesh and blood too fast, and this would not be dealing well with our bodies, our servants, or our cattle. There must be some seasons also, wherein God our Creator must have worship paid him by his creature man; and as he is a creature made for society, he ought to acknowledge Gcd in societies, and to pay him some public worship; and there must be some certain times appointed for this purpose. This also the light of reason requires.

Let it be observed further, there is some natural connection between these two, viz. rest and worship; for when man is at rest from his own labours, he is more at leisure for religion, and the service of God: And when he performs worship to God, he must rest from his common labours. A vigorous employment of the head and hands, in the works of the natural life, is not consistent at the same time with such devotion as God requires of men, either in public or private, which I shall have occasion to mention again before I conclude.

II. "The light of nature and reason doth not evidently teach us what part of time, or how much should be devoted to bodily rest, and to divine worship." Can we absolutely determine, whether some part of every day is sufficient and most proper for both these purposes, or whether we should separate on this account one whole day cut of five or ten, seven or seventeen? Who can assign the just medium between too much and too little? Human prudence indeed, and common experience will teach us in the main, that since social or public worship should he performed to God by many persons or families at once, it seems to be more convenient that a whole day should be separated now and then, rather than to make perpetual interruptions of the business of life, by separating a small part of every day for this purpose; and prudence will also teach us, that this whole day should be publicly known and appointed, at least by consent, and common agreement. But there would be endless differences of opinion what day this should be, and how often it should return, if it were left merely to the fancies, conveniences, and agreements of men. Some of a covetous and cruel temper would scarce allow one day in twenty for rest to their servants or cattle some have so little love to religion, that they would think one in forty enough for God. Others of a different make would perhaps incline to one day in four or five: And thus there would be probably a continual confusion in this matter, and neither the seasons of rest, or of worship, well proportioned to the days of lacur.

[ocr errors]

III. "To guard against all those inconveniences, assoon as God had made man, and set him to labour in the garden of Eden, he appointed him one day in seven to be a day of rest from labour, and also a season of religion and worship; Gen. ii. 3. God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it God rested from his works. This secured our first parents from any doubts of this kind; and had this been faithfully observed by their posterity, it would have maintained labour and rest, business and worship, in their due proportions, and have secured mankind also from many doubts and contentions on this subject. Reason teaches us to rest, and to worship; and though we cannot determine, with any certainty, by our reasonings, the precise quantity of time which is necessary to relieve animal nature by rest, after its labours; nor can we tell which is a just proportion of time to be assigned to God, and employed for worship and holy purposes; yet God in his infinite wisdom well knew the nature and relations of things, all the necessities of our animal natures, and the dues of his worship, and by the same wisdom he has ordained one day in seven for both these. And I am persuaded there is something perfectly proper, just and reasonable in the very nature of things in the appointment of this proportion of time, viz. one day in seven, for religious worship, as well as for bodily rest, which divine reason sees plainly, and because man's reason cannot find it out, God has revealed it to him from the beginning of the world. Reason teaches us to honour our parents, but which are our parents, must be told us by men, before we can honour them. It is a moral law, yet we need information of the object before the law can be obeyed: So it is with the sabbath.

The chief thing expressly mentioned in the institution of the sabbath, is a day of rest from the common labours and businesses of life; and by comparing this with other texts of the Old and New Testament, it seems to be designed for these several ends : -1. To give our natures proper refreshment, as well as to relieve the cattle from their toils, which could not well bear incessant labour.-2. To imitate the great God our Maker, who, after six days spent in creating the world, rested from his work on the seventh, and is represented as surveying the works of his hand, and pronouncing them good. And as man was made in the image of his Maker, so he was appointed to act like him in this respect, that is, to rest from his labours, and spend that time in contemplating, and honouring his Creator.-3. To preserve a lasting remembrance of the creation of the world in six days among the following generations of men, and hereby secure mankind against idolatry, or forgetting the true God who made the world.-4. To be a token and pledge to Adam, of the state of peace and rest VOL. III. LL

which God would give him, after he had fulfilled his labour of perfect obedience in a state of innocence. But I add also 5. That since this day was sanctified, or made holy, and was blessed of God in its first appointment to Adam, as appears from that text, it intimates to us, that the day should not be devoted entirely to sloth and idleness, but should be employed in some holy exercises, some performances of divine worship, and also a divine encouragement to expect and hope that the great God might bless his creatures with peculiar blessings at that time, or make it a blessed day to them.

Both these appointments of a seventh day for rest, and for worship, since the light of nature could not determine them, are here mentioned as appointed by God himself, and built on God's own resting the seventh day from his own work, which he had created. And what fitter time could there be for Adam and Eve, just created to celebrate the praises of their Maker for his works, than while God is represented as reviewing his own works with a peculiar approbation and delight; when the morning stars of heaven sang together on this celestial festival, and all the sons of Gud on high shouted for joy, as it is expressed in Job xxxviii. 7. How proper was it for Adam, the Son of God below, to join with this holy choir in his Creator's praise? I have observed that this appointment of the sabbath, or one day in seven for rest, and for worship, might be a sort of moral * command, rising from the order of things, and the natural relation of such creatures to a God, and of six days labour to one day's rest, and so a natural and perpetual duty, though it is here expressed only as derived from the revelation, or discovery of God's restingday, and as a positive institution.

Nor are these two things at all inconsistent; for there are other duties which are acknowledged to belong to the order and law of nature, and are of a moral kind, though it would be very hard for every man to have found them out by mere reason; and therefore they were kindly revealed and prescribed to man at first, and that in a way of correspondence with some transactions of God in his creation of the world. So the law of monogamy, or taking but one wife, is argued by the prophet Malachi, because God made but one woman for one man at first; Mal. ii. 14, 16. So the pre-eminence, or headship of the man above the woman, the institution of marriage, and the various suitable duties required on both sides, are laid on this foot, viz. because God made man before he made the woman, because he made the woman for the man, and formed the woman out of the flesh and the bone of the man; see Gen. ii. 23, 24. 1 Cor. xi. 3, 8, 9.

*Note, the word moral is used here in a larger sense, than when it signifies only what the light of reason can find out. If the term offend, I do not in sist on it.


[ocr errors]

1 Tim. ii. 12, 13. Mat. xix. 5. and yet all these things seem to be moral and perpetual: And then why may not the sabbath be so too, which being hard to be found out by the light of reason, was revealed and prescribed to man in the same manner as these? In short, a set time for divine worship seems to be a natural duty, or a moral law: That it should be one day in seven, is revealed and positive, yet in some sense moral and perpetual also: And that it should be the seventh day, from the beginning of God's creation, is merely positive, and therefore not perpetual, but changeable as will better appear afterward.


IV. "It is very probable that the pious patriarchs, in the beginning of the world, actually kept this seventh day, though there be no very plain and particular account of it, in so brief a history as that of Moses.' Let us observe, that the reasons of it are perpetual, viz. a remembrance of the creating work of God in six days, and his rest on the seventh; the necessary rest that belongs to our bodies, our servants, and our cattle; as well as the necessity of the worship of God at certain seasons; all which are contained in the fourth commandment, where we are required to keep the sabbath holy. It may be doubted, indeed, whether all the patriarchs, in their pastoral manner of life, could, conveniently keep a sabbath, by meeting in large public assemblies: But as each master of a family was a priest to his own house, so it is most likely they worshipped God in large families assembled on that day in an eminent manner, and their neighbours might attend, though the bible be silent or obscure as to any notices of it. I say, obscure notices, because though there be no plain and evident examples of keeping the sabbath by the patriarchs: yet how many things are there of plain moral duty toward God and man, which the holy patriarchs without doubt practised, of which there is not the least hint in scripture? Must we conclude then they never praċ

tised them?

But, there are some texts which have been supposed by critics, to give hints of this practice. Some have thought that in Gen. iv. 3. "the end of the days" when Cain and Abel offered their several offerings, was the end of the week, which was the first, and perhaps the only regular and exact division of time then known in the world, besides day and night. They suppose also, that in Job i. 6. the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, was the sabbath, when pious families came to meet and worship God; for they are called sons of God; Gen. vi. 2. And there is reason to suppose that Noah, that just and holy man, might observe the sabbath in the ark, and on the sabbath send out the dove, hoping on that day, to find rest or relief from his tiresome, wandering voyage and imprison


ment; for it is evident, that he divided his days by sevens in sending out this creature; Gen. viii. 10, 12*.

But suppose the bible were entirely silent on this subject; yet it may be justly remarked here, that as there is an express institution of a sabbath in the beginning of the bible, without any plain and uncontested example of the practice in the patriarchal ages, so in the first christian age, there are several plain examples of the practice of keeping the Lord's-day_without any express institution of it in the New Testament. But as from such christian examples we reasonably infer an institution, so from the ancient institution, we as reasonably infer there were some patriarchal examples of the practice: But this is only a hint by the way.

Question. But may it not be reasonably supposed, as some writers have done, that Moses only mentions in the second chapter of Genesis, in the history of Adam, a certain sabbath by way of anticipation, which should be instituted in time to come among the Jews? Answer 1. Can it be imagined, that in so short a history of the creation of the world, Moses should take such particular notice of a certain day, as blessed and sanctified by the Creator, which should not be actually sanctified and blessed till two thousand and four hundred years afterwards? Could this be done only by way of anticipation.-2. Are not the finishing the creation and the institution of a sabbath expressly joined in close connection, in both places of the Mosaic history? And why should we not believe, that when God rested on the seventh day from all his work, he blessed this seventh day, and sanctified it, at that very time? Gen. ii. 2, 3. and Ex. xx. 11.—3. Did he bless and sanctify this day only for himself and his own rest? No surely, but for the rest of man, and to be kept holy by Adam and his posterity. The sabbath was made for man, as our Saviour expressly tells us, Mark ii. 27. And the reason given to man for the appointment of a sabbath, viz. God's resting from his works of creation, as it is expressed in the ii. Genesis, is the some in the xx. of Exodus: And why then should we not suppose it to be given by God to Adam, as well as to the Jews by Moses? Yet again,-4. I ask leave to say, I can hardly persuade myself, that God ever left the world so many ages without so necessary, or at least so very important a means to preserve the true religion in it as the sabbath is. Any religion without some appointed seasons for the celebration of the rites of it, is in great danger of being lost and forgotten by the bulk of

* Besides former writers, Doctor Hant in his "Essay on Revelation," &c. p. 46. is of this mind. Nor can it be supposed here, that Noah by knowing the influence of the moon on the waters, sent out the dove at two succeeding distances of seven days: For he could never expect the waters to be abated from the face of the ground at the neap-tides, whatever he might do at the springtides; when as they rise the highest at the Bood, they fall the lowest at the ebb.

« ForrigeFortsæt »