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HAT wife king Solomon obferves, Eccl. iii. 1. "To every thing there is a feafon, and a time for every purpose under heaven." And if there be a time and feafon allowed for every thing and purpose, even the meanest things and purpofes in the world; furely an infinitely wife God will allow a proper time and feafon for the beft things and purpofes, and particularly for his. folemn worship and fervice, which is the most neceffary and excellent purpofe in the world. It is not enough, that we give God, from whom we have all our time, a hare of every day for his fervice; no, we owe him also fome whole days for his folemn and public worship: Yea, it is agreeable to the dictates of the light of nature, and of found reafon, that one whole day of every week should be dedicated to him for that end.
All nations through the world have had their seasons and fet times for devotion and facrifices. The heathens, who worshipped dumb idols, had their festivals and holydays, and particularly one day of the week, which they efteemed more facred than the reft. The Turks, who have taken up with the most unreasonable delufions and impoftures, do ftill retain the impreffions of the rationality and equity of this thing, that there fhould be a certain day of the week fet apart for the folemn worthip of God. Indeed the light of nature, without fome other help, could not have determined men univerfally to dedicate the feventh day of their time to God; more than the fixth or eighth But feeing the wife Creator of the world, and author of time, thought fit from the beginning, to meafure time by days, and parcel out these days into fuch remarkable periods as weeks, or the revolution of feven days, to be conftantly observed all the world over; it is moft confonant to reafon and equity, that one day of each week should be holy to the Lord.
But, befides the light of nature, we have the light of revelation for this point; God hath expressly appointed
in his word, one day in feven, to be kept holy for his folemn worship; neither hath he left the particular day to mens own choice but hath chofen it for them. And now, in the New Testament, he points out the first day of the week to be the Christian Sabbath to the end of the world, as is made evident in the following treatife.
The Jews have their Saturday Sabbath, which they glory in, and call the Queen of the week: The Mahometans keep the Friday, as being Mahomet's birth-day, The Parthians and fome other Pagan nations obferve Tuesday, and esteem it above all other days of the week. But it is the difcriminating badge of the profeffors of Christianity through all the world, to celebrate the firft day of the week, being Chrift's refurrection-day, and 'hence called the Lord's day. Now, though the Jews and fome few others plead that the feverth day from the creation is unalterable by virtue of the fourth command, it is shewed in this treatife, that the words of the fourth command are so framed, that they may be applied to any day of the week that God doth please to pitch upon for the Sabbath, whether it be the first or laft of the feven days. For when it is faid, “The feventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God;" it doth not mean the seventh day from the Creation, but any seventh day after fix days labour which God pitches on; upon which account it is not called that seventh day, but the feventh day. Neither is the seventh day mentioned in the first words of the command, which contain the fubftance of it; for it is faid only, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” not the feventh day. Nor is the feventh day mentioned in the last words of the command, which contain the formal reason of it; for it is faid only, "The Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it," not the feventh day.
As to the first day of the week, our Christian Sabbath, the great Lord of our time hath appropriate this day to himself, marked it with his feal, and hath put his name upon it, calling it, Rev. i. 10. Hemera Kuriake, the Lord's day; even as he calls the holy supper, 1 Cor. xi. 20. Diapnon Kuriakon, the Lord's fupper; because the one was his inftitution as well as the other, and fet apart for keeping up his memory, and fhewing forth his glory. Wherefore no true Chriftian, or lover of our Lord Jefus Chrift, will be indifferent about the keeping of this holy day For as the holy obferving of this day is an open and
and visible owning of the Lord Jefus (whofe name it bears) for our Lord and Mafter; fo the neglect of this day is a plain difowning of him, and an open flighting of the benefits of his refurrection. O that men would think on this, and confider what they do, when they neglect or contemn the Lord's day!
Though the way of Sabbath-fanctification be the good old way, appointed by God ever fince he created man upon the earth; yet there is no way more hated, no duty more oppofed by Satan and wicked men: Which we need not be surprised at, feeing it is a special fence to all religion, and a great bulwark against the torrent of impiety that runs in the world. And that true piety is fo low in most places, and vice and immorality fo generally prevail, is mainly to be imputed to the abounding neglect and contempt of the holy Sabbath: For common experience doth teftify, that where the Lord's day is more ftrictly obferved, their Chriftian knowledge, piety and morality, do profper moft; and where the Sabbath is difregarded, there all thefe do decay. The confideration whereof should excite all the lovers of God and holinefs, to use their utmoft endeavours to fupport the credit and maintain the dignity of the Sabbath against all its enemies.
This confideration hath moved me to contribute my mite upon this excellent fubject in the following treatise, which is partly controverfial and partly practical; for confuting the enemies of the Sabbath, and for inftructing all in the divine warrant for fanctifying this holy day, and in the right manner of doing it. There are two effential things in the Christian religion, which all fhould make confcience of; fincerely to believe its truths, and faithfully to practice its duties. The first of thefe hath great influence upon the fecond; for, if the Christian truths be not firmly believed, the Chriftian duties will be ill performed Now, the beft means for promoting both the Christian faith and Chriftian practice, is the fanctification of the Lord's day.
Had it not been for the observation of the Sabbath, the truths of Christianity had been quite razed out of the minds of the moft part: For as the Lord's day, of itself, is bright and lively memorial of our redemption by Jefus Chrift: fo upon this day we conftantly have founded in our ears the truths of that religion which Chrift and his apoftles delivered unto the world, and the excellency of
them inculcate upon us. And as the obfervation of the Sabbath is a great prefervative to the truths of Christianity, fo it is alfo to the duties thereof God hath fet this one dury as a hedge or fence for keeping all the reft; for, by keeping the Sabbath confcientiously, the foul is notably difpofed and put in frame for ferving God in every religious duty. The frequent recurring of this day, and the gofpel ordinances therein difpenfed, ferve to continue the remembrance of Chrift and heaven among men, keep fin and vice under constant rebukes, and put atheism and infidelity to the blufh. Take away the obfervation of the Lord's day, then the worship of God would be caft off, and atheism, profanenefs, and all diforders, like a flood, would break in upon us.
We may look upon the duty of Sabbath-fanctification to be of no lefs confequence to the practice of Christianity,. than Luther reckoned the article of juftification to be to the doctrine of it, when he called it articulus ftantis few cadentis ecclefia: For, if once we make a gape in this hedge of piety, ferious godliness will run out at it, and a flood of impiety and loofenefs rush in upon us. It was furely the fenfe of this, that determined the wifest of emperors, kings, parliaments, and church councils and fynods, to frame and publish so many excellent laws and acts for the ftrict obfervation of the Lord's day, agreeable to the divine laws thereanent. It would be happy forc hurches and nations, if thefe were put in execution, and all forts of men brought to have a due regard to them.
But, notwithstanding of all the laws, divine and human, for the holy obfervation of the Lord's day, there are many in the age wherein we live, who adventure to pour contempt upon this holy day. Some there are who difpute against the morality of the Sabbath, and difown the standing and perpetual obligation of the fourth command. Others, though they own the obligation of the command fo far as to forbear fervile work, and attend public worship on the Sabbath, yet plead for carnal diverfions and recrea tions after public worship is over. Many would incline to the Papifts way of celebrating the Sabbath, who atter mafs and even-fong (as they call it) go prefently to piping and dancing, and then to the ale-houfe; the fame way that the Ifraelites celebrated the feaft of the golden calf, Exod. xxxii. 6. "The people ate and drank, and rose up to play." If this profane courfe were allowed, as of old,