« AnteriorContinuar »
come within their reach, which are very little regarded or attended to by human authority. And where laws are enacted against certain breaches of this commandment, in most cases, but little regard appears to be paid to the real wickedness of the crime in fixing the penalty ; but attention is paid chiefly, if not entirely, to the supposed damage which human society may suffer. And how rarely are some of these laws put in force! For instance, the law forbids profane swearing, and renders the transgressor liable to a pecuniary penalty, but the law is very seldom enforced. And with respect to the other breaches of this commandment forbidden by the laws, the laws are probably bụt seldom enforced, in comparison with the number of transgressions which occur.
It is too true that the breakers of this commandment, often escape punishment from men; and it is also true, that the Lord will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment. He will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain He searcheth the heart, and knoweth every breach of this commandment. He is a God jealous for the glory of his name. And although his vengeance against the transgressor may seem now to sleep, yet there is a day coming and near at hand when those who have taken his name in vain must stand at his awful bar; and then will be seen the dreadful import of the words, “ the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” This is an awful sanction by which obedience to this commandment is enforced. Let it deeply impress our minds, and lead us always to reverence and fear that holy and fearful name the Lord our God. Let us always use with reverence every thing by which God maketh himself known-his names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word, and works. Let us fear ever to use the name, titles or attributes of God in a light, trifling or profane way. Let us shun irreverence, formality, and hypocrisy in the use of his ordinances. Let us guard against neglecting, denying, or scoffing at his word; or denying or profaning or abusing his works. And especially let us guard against the prominent and heinous sins of blasphemy, profane swearing and cursing, and perjury. Whenever tempted to any of these sins, let this awful sentence, “the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain," deter us. And let it lead those to break off from their sins,
who are in any way, living in a breach of this commandment; and excite them to endeavour by unfeigned repentance, and a true faith in the atoning blood of the Saviour to escape the execution of this dreadful sentence
May the Lord ever fill us all with reverence for his holy name.-AMEN.
THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.
EXODUS XX. 8, 9, 10, 11.
“Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work ; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant,nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates : For in six days the Lord made heaven_end earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day : wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it."
As the first commandment respects the object, the second the means, and the third the manner of worship, so the fourth respects the time. It teaches what portion of time, God has particularly set apart for himself, to be specially employed in his worship, viz. one day in seven ; it shows how this day ought to be observed ; and it presents reasons to enforce its observance.
We shall in this discourse attend to the following points, viz.
I. When was the Sabbath first instituted ?
III. Has the Sabbath been changed from the seventh to the first day of the week ?
IV. When does the Sabbath begin..
We are not to place the first institution of the Sabbath at the time the moral law was given at Sinai, and committed to writing on tables of stone; neither are we to place it, as some would do, at the time the manna was given in the wilderness of Sin, before the Israelites came to Sinai ; but we are to place its first institution, immediately after the completion of the works of creation, on the seventh day from the beginning.
This appears from the manner in which the sacred historian speaks of the seventh day in the 2d. chapter of Genesis. After having in the first chapter given an account of of the six days creation, he adds in the beginning of the second chapter, and he rested on the seventh day from all his works which he had made, And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.”. To sanctify signifies to make holy, or to separate any thing to a holy use. And the natural construction of this passage is, thai God now set apart the seventh day to a holy use, or sanctified it as a day of holy rest. And accordingly we find in the fourth commandment, that God's resting on the seventh day from the works of creation, is given as the reason of the institution of the Sabbath. “ For in six days, the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed, [or sanctified] it.”
The first place in which we find express mention made of the Sabbath is, in the 16th chapter of Exodus, at the time the manna was given in the wilderness of Sin, before the promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai. But the manner in which the Sabbath is there mentioned, evidently shows that it was not then first instituted. Directions were given to prepare for the Sabbath, before any mention of it was made. The Lord after having informed Moses, that he would rain for the children of Israel bread from heaven, and having given directions concerning their daily gathering it, added, “ and it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in ; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” Ex. xvi. 5. Here preparation for the Sabbath was required, without a word concerning its institution, and even without mentioning the name. do not find the name mentioned until near the close of the chapter, when Moses, the sixth day having come, repeat
ed the directions which he had given. The whole of what is said in this chapter relative to the Sabbath, teaches that it was instituted before this time.
If it be objected to placing the first institution of the Sabbath as early as the creation, that no mention is made of its observance from that time down to the time of Moses. We may answer, that the sacred historian, previous to his own time is very brief. But although no express mention is made of the Sabbath, yet we have several hints, from which we may collect that the Sabbath was probably observed during this period. In the days of Cain and Abel it is said, Gen. iv. 3,4. “In process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel he also brought of the firstlings of his flock.” A literal translation of the original occording to some criticks would be, “ in the end of the days, or on the last of the days,” that is, probably, on the last day of the week. If this criticism be correct, here was religious worship performed, peculiarly on the seventh day. And why on this day, unless it was observed religiously, or was a Sabbath? In the time of Noah, we know that days, were divided into periods of sevens, or weeks. And why this division, unless it was made for the observance of the Sabbath ? In the time of Job, there appears to have been a certain day appointed for the special service of God, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord. This was probably the Sabbath. Among the Heathen nations, in the earliest ages of which we have any account, we find that time was divided into weeks, and that the seventh day was esteemed sacred. We cannot suppose that the Heathen had this institution from the Jews ; for they too much hated and despised them to borrow this custom from them ; but we have every reason to suppose that this institution was handed down to them by tradition from their fathers, long before the existence of the Jewish nation ; and if this be correct, it is a convincing argument, that the Sabbath was observed in the early ages.
Besides, if we had not the least trace left, from which we might infer that the Sabbath was probably observed from Adam to Moses, it would, by no means certainly follow, that it was not observed; for this is no more than what happens in a period, in which the history is much more full and particular. We have no mention made of the observance of the Sabbath from the time of Moses to that of David ; but we cannot therefore conclude that during this time it was not observed, or in force,
For the foregoing reasons we conclude that the Sabbath was instituted on the seventh day from the beginning, when God rested from his works, and blessed the, seventh day and sanctified it. This point is of some moment as it derogates from the dignity and importance of the Sabbath to suppose, that the
first ages of the world, for above two thousand years lived without such an institution.
II. The second inquiry proposed to be.considered was, is the Sabbath of moral and perpetual obligation; or was it merely typical and ceremonial, and therefore done away by the coming of Christ ? I answer, the substance of the Sabbath is of moral and perpetual obligation. The dedication of a certain portion of our time, particularly, to the service and worship of God, is in the highest sense moral, and of perpetual obligation. For it is a dictate of nature if there be a God he ought to be worshipped, and that a certain portion of time should be set apart particularly for this purpose. But whether this part should be the sixth, seventh, eighth, or any other portion, the light of nature could not have discovered. This, God hath been pleased to fix by a positive institution, commanding the seventh part to be kept. And this commandment being given, is of perpetual obligation, unless he who gave it, should revoke it and fix another.
That the fourth commandment is of perpetual obligation, and therefore still in force as it respecis the dedication of the seventh part of our time particularly to the worship of God, we argue from this consideration, that it was delivered from Mount Sinai, among the other commandments of the decalogue; and all the others are acknowledged to be of perpetual obligation; and it was, with the others, written by God, indicating their perpetuity, on tables of stone. But the strongest and most convincing argument in favour of the morality and perpetuity of the Sabbath, may be drawn from the beneficial effects resulting from its observance, and the pernicious consequences which would follow if it were done away. Our Saviour said, “ The Sabbath was made for man, and not