The Institution, Sanctity and Perpetuity of the Sabbath June 12, 1911
- Remove one voussoir (especially if it be the keystone) from an arch and the whole structure is destroyed or at least badly marred.The Ten commandments are a rule of life in the hand of Jesus Christ; he came not "to destroy the law or the prophets but to fulfill." "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Mat.5:18. The moral law is a fair transcript of the infinite holiness of God's nature, and an authoritative declaration of His will; and the whole ten precepts are of perpetual obligation, and whoever offends against one is guilty of all." Ja. 2:16Take away the Fourth commandment from the decalogue, and you remove the keystone; it looks back to the glory of God and forward to the good of man: and, if we may so speak, cements the two tables of the law into one solid structure. God has laid special weight upon it by prefixing the word "Remember," and especially by his own example. " And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made." Gen. 2:3. Why did God continue the creation of the world for six days and rest the seventh? He could as easily have spoken all things into being in a moment. And He needed not to rest for "Hast thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not neither is weary? Is.40:28.But it was to give special prominence to the Fourth precept of the law which he had written on man's heart in the state of innocence; and to give a plain example for his people in every age, that we might follow his steps as far as imitable by us. Thusthe institution of the Sabbath in the garden of Eden is as plain as words can make it.Though but little is said concerning the Sabbath from this until the law was given to Israel at Sinai; we are assured it was known and observed as a day holy to the Lord by all those who feared His great and glorious name. We are told concerning the offerings of Cain and Abel that they were brought in process of time; literally at the end of days. What days? Why the six working days, and then on the seventh they came to worship God, and sacrifice to him according to his command enforced by his own example. No doubt the Sabbath was greatly profaned and disregarded by the multitude of ungodly before the flood to the grief of the godly; and it is likely it was the rest of the Sabbath Lamech contemplated when he named his son Noah, meaning rest. Doubtless Lamech and all such as were fearers of God longed and hoped for a revival of true Sabbath observance. And could Abraham obey the divine injunction. "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect" [Gen.17:1], without keeping the Sabbath? Assuredly not! It is most likely that the patriarchs cherished and observed the Sabbath rest.Without the Sabbath they would be deprived of a principal witness that the Lord was indeed their God [see Ex. 31:17; Ezk. 20:12]; an left without a foretaste of the blessed rest in heaven. God's promise to Abraham, "I will bless thee," surely included a renewing and deepening impressions of the sanctity and privileges of the day set apart from the beginning for divine service. For if Adam in a state of innocence needed the Sabbath rest as subservient to devotion, much more do His posterity, by sin made averse to communion with God.In Ex. 16th Chap. we have clear proof that the Sabbath was known to Israel before the giving of the law. "And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, to omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses." V.22. So it appears they done this without command from Moses, and it can only be accounted for by their previous acquaintance with the sanctity of the seventh day. Moses approved their action, and from God's mouth confirmed the obligation of the Sabbath: "To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which ye will bake to-day, and seeth that ye will seethe: and that which remaineth over, lay up for you to kept until the morning. V.23. And those who went out to gather on the seventh day did not sin ignorantly for "the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." Vs. 28:29.Therefore, the Sabbath was given to Israel at Sinai not as new institution, but as an integral part of the moral law there written on the tables of stone, because sin had marred it as imprinted on man's heart at the beginning. This accounts for the absence of any direct command in the New Testament concerning of the change of the Sabbath. Being a moral institution it has a permanent obligation on man in every age, place and dispensation of the covenant of grace.Our Savior Himself declared the permanency fo the Sabbath when he said, "Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, on jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." Mat. 5:18.The change from the seventh to the first day of the week in no way affected the permanence of the Sabbath day. Christ Himself declared His right to make the change; "the Son of Man is Lord also of the Sabbath." Mark 2:28. Most of the objections that are made to its permanence declare that it was peculiar to the Jews, &c.; in the preceding verse its use is made plain. "The Sabbath was made for man;" not for Jews only, but for Gentiles also.Reason says, man requires a portion of time to worship his beneficent Creator, and one nation and people need it as well as another, and that in every age.God has set forth the sanctity of His holy day in the plainest scripture language. "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy" Ex 20:8. Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest holy to the Lord whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day he shall surely be put to death." Ex 31L15. But mere cessation from manual labor on the Sabbath is not keeping it, there must be spiritual activity and worship of Jehovah. We are to rest from the labor of the preceding six days, but sanctify it by a holy diligence in God's worship. God pronounces a blessing on those that keep His set times holy. "If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride on the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it." Is. 58L13-14.Nothing could be plainer or more explicit than this, and it may be understood as especially addressed to men in New Testament times.Some one well said. "Religion should find a place in the business of every day; but it should constitute the whole business of the Sabbath.Sabbath keeping (in spiritual manner) is the mark of God's people; and nowhere has this been exemplified clearer than by our fathers in Scotland during the glorious shining of the light of the Second Reformation.Luther and Calvin failed to set the Sabbath on her own base according to the word of truth; that work God enabled Knox and his compeers and successors to accomplish.Infidels and libertines may scoff and mock at the Covenanter Sabbath, but we are persuaded that the Lord of Heaven and earth, who instituted it in commemoration of the finished work of creation, and changed it as a memorial of the perfecting a greater---man's redemption, approves of it and will require it at the hand of all their degenerate offspring.But O, how has the crown fallen from our heads! And where is Sabbath holiness? Look to the east, west, north or south and where do we see a people or nation keeping the Lord's day. The effort is general is general in family, church an state to throw off all Sabbath restraint, all acknowledgement of God's propriety in that day. What great need we all have to look well to our ways, to see how far we come short of sanctifying it; and humbly pray for grace to be "in the Spirit on the Lord's day.