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whether it would be proper to say, that “ it does not seem easy to understand how the decalogue, and the two great commands in which it is summed up, could be a sign between God and the people of Israel, unless the observance of them was peculiar to that people, and designed to be so."
What was intended by making the Sabbath a sign between God and Israel is declared by God himself in Ezekiel xx. 12; I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them; that they may know, that I am Jehovah, who sanctify them. It will not be denied, that the whole human race are equally interested with the Israelites in this knowledge. All that was peculiar to them was this: they alone, for many ages, had, and it was foreseen by God that they would have, the knowledge in question ; and would be the only medium of communicating it to other nations. The Sabbath, therefore, was so far peculiarly a sign to them, but is obviously in its nature, and necessarily, a sign also, in a general sense, of the same knowledge to every nation, afterwards acquainted with the Sabbath. From this very declaration in Ezekiel, in which the object of rendering the Sabbath a sign to the Israelites, is pointed out, it is clear that “the observance of it was not designed to be peculiar to that people,” unless the knowledge of Jehovah was also to be perpetually confined to them.
Dr. Paley further observes, “ If the sabbath be binding upon Christians; it must be binding as to the day, the duties, and the penalty : in none of which it is received."
It will be remembered, that the Sabbath, and the day on which it is kept, are separate parts of the Institution; so separate, that the Sabbath itself may be perpetual, and yet the day be changed, successively, through every part of the week. The Institution of the day I have already acknowledged to be no less obligatory, than that of the Sabbath itself; unless it can be fairly shown to have been changed by the same Authority. Whether this has, in fact, been shown in the preceding discourse must be left for those, who heard it, to determine.
With regard to the duties of the Sabbath, I shall only observe, that this point will be examined in a future discourse.
As to the penalty, it will be remembered, that it is not com
tained in the Decalogue; but is merely a part of the civil law, and internal police, of the Jewish nation. Still, it may be useful to try this reasoning with other commands of the Decalogue. In the two first precepts, it is acknowledged, that we, as well as the Israelites, are forbidden to worship idols, or other Gods, beside Jehovah. Now it is well known, that the Israelites, who disobeyed these commands, were by the law of Moses to be put to death. It is presumed, that Dr. Paley would not believe this penalty to be binding upon us ; and that he would still acknowledge the commands themselves to be no less obligatory upon us, than upon them. It is presumed also, that he would acknowledge the fifth command to be equally binding upon all men. In Deut. xxi. 18—21, and in Prov. xxx. 17, it is required, that children, disobeying this command, shall be put to death. Would Dr. Paley acknowledge this penalty to be binding upon us ? Or would he deny our obligation to obey the command?
Il. It is asserted by this writer, that Genesis ii. 1-3, does not contain an account of the original Institution of the Sabbath.
This assertion he supports by the following reasons : “ that the observation of the Sabbath is not mentioned in the history of the world, before the call of Abraham : that it is not mentioned in the history of Abruham, Isaac, and Jacob; which, he says, is in many parts sufficiently circumstantial and domestic: that in Exodus xvi. no intimation is given, that the Sabbath, then appointed, was only the revival of an ancient Institution, which had been neglected, or forgotten : that no such neglect is imputed to the inhabitants of the old world, or to any part of the family of Noah : and that there is no record of any permission to dispense with the Institution, during the Egyptian bondage, or on any other public emergency."
With regard to the last of these reasons, I answer only, that there is no record of any neglect of the Institution, either during the Egyptian bondage, or during any other public emergency. During the Babylonish captivity, we have no record of any such permission, nor of any observance of the Sabbath. Yet, as Nehemiah and his companions plainly observed it after their return from that captivity, it is presumed, Dr. Paley will not deny, that it was observed by the Jewish nation during that whole period.
That no negligence of the Sabbath should be charged to the Antediluvians, to Noah, or to any others, in cases, where the Sabbath is not even mentioned, can occasion no surprise; and, it is presumed, can furnish no argument, relative to this or any other question. It deserves, however, to be remarked as an answer to every observation, which can be made of this nature, that the first censure for any impropriety in the observation of the Sabbath, uttered concerning the Israelites in the Scriptures, is found in the prophet Isaiah : about seven hundred and sixty years before Christ, and seven bundred and thirty-one years after the events recorded in Exodus xvi. The second is found in Ezekiel ; written about five hundred and ninety-three years before Christ, and eight hundred and ninety-seven years after these events. Can it, then, be surprising, when we know from these very passages, that the Israelites merited not a little censure for their profanations of the Sabbath ; and when we yet find these to be the first censures, cast upon them in the Scriptures; that Noah, his family, and the Antediluvians, should not be censured ?
The third of these reasons cannot, after what has been said in the former part of this discourse, need any answer. I shall, therefore, direct the following observations to the two remaining reasons ; perhaps with more propriety considered as one ; viz. the silence of the Scriptures concerning the observation of the Sabbath by those, who lived before the call of Abraham, and by the three first patriarchs. Concerning this subject I observe,
In the first place, If all these persons did in fact neglect, or forget, the Institution, it woulu not alter the case at all. The Institution of booths is declared, in Nehemiah viii. 17, to have been neglected, and forgotten, from the time of Joshua, the son of Nun, until after Nehemiah and his companions returned from the captivity: a period of nine hundred and eighty years. Neither Samuel, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, nor Josiah, observed it: and let it be remembered, that no censure is cast upon them for their neglect; nor any bint given, that they were guilty of such neg lect, until the close of this long period, nor even then was any other notice taken of this subject but what is contained in this declaration of Nehemiah. Yet Nehemiah revived this solemnity, and has declared it to be obligatory upon that generation, and upon those of succeeding ages, in the same manner, as if it had never been disused.
2. There is no reason to suppose, that this fact would have been mentioned, if the Sabbath had been exactly observed by the Patriarchs, and by all who preceded them. If Sabbaths, in the plu
, ral, be supposed to denote the Sabbath; then the first mention of this subject, made after the time of Moses, occurs in 1 Chron. xxiii, 31, in the instructions of David to Solomon concerning building the temple, at the distance of near five hundred years. The same word occurs thrice in the same book: viz. in the Sth and 31st chapters : in the two former of these instances, as a repetition, or allusion to, the words of David; and both in the history of Solomon. The latter instance is in the history of Hezekiah, seven hundred and sixty-five years after the period above mentioned. The same word occurs in Isaiah ; about seven hundred and thirty years from that period. The word, Sabbath, is mentioned five times in the history of the Jewish Church before the Captivity. The first of thein is a mere note concerning the business of the Kohathites ; which was to prepare the shew bread every Sabbath. The time, when it was written, was that of David; near five hundred years after this period. See 1 Chron. . ix. 32. The second is the speech of the Shunamite's husband; It is neither new moon, nor sabbath : not referring, in my opinion, to the Sabbath at all: almost six hundred years from the above period. The third is in 2 Kings xi.; a part of the speech of Jehoiada to the Rulers of Judah. A third part of you, that enter in on the Sabbath, shall even be keepers of the King's house; and two parts of all you, that go forth on the Sabbath, even they shall be keepers of the watch of the house of the Lord. Immediately after this speech it is also subjoined, that the rulers took every man his men, that were to come in on the Sabbath, with them, that should go out on the Sabbath, and they came to Jehoiada the priest. These it will be remembered constitute but a single instance of mentioning the Sabbath ; an instance occurring at the distance of more than six hundred years. Another instance occurs in the history of Ahaz; and is the following: The covert for the Sab.
bath turned he from the house of the Lord, for the king of Assyria : seven hundred and fifty-two years. The word is also mentioned in Isaiah lvi. Iviii. and lxv. about seven hundred and eighty years. These are all the instances, in which the word occurs either in Prophecy, or History, from the time of Moses till after the return of the captivity: a period of one thousand years.
Of this account it is to be observed,
First; That the word, sabbaths, in the plural, is mentioned four times in the history of the Jewish Church, and twice in the prophecy of Isaiah, within a period of seven hundred and eighty years. The first, second, and third, occurring, incidentally, in the mention of the duty of the priests in the orders of David : the second, a repetition of them by Solomon : the third, in an account of their execution. These, together, really constitute but one instance. The fourth occurs, incidentally also, in a sentence, giving, in almost the same words, an account of the same duty of the priests in the time of Hezekiah. The fifth is a censure of the Jews for the pollution of the new moons and sabbaths, uttered by the prophet Isaiah. The three first of these instances occur at the distance of about five hundred years, the others between seven and eight hundred from the time of the supposed institution. In but one of thesc, and that the last, is there any thing, like an account of the manner, in which the Sabbath was kept, or neglected. All the rest are merely incidental; and teach us nothing more, than that sabbaths were in existence, and were involved in the Jewish ritual.
Secondly; As the Sabbath appears to be regularly distinguished from sabbaths; and as Sabbaths are regularly joined with the new moons, and other holidays of the Jews, which the Sabbath never is; it is clear to me, that the Sabbath is not alluded to in any of these instances.
Thirdly; The phrase, The Sabbath, occurs in three instances, (calling those in the account of Jehoiada one,) in the history of the Jewish Church, before the captivity: all of them however, entirely incidental; and containing no account of the Sabbath, as an Institution; nor of the observance of it; nor of the neglect. This is all, which is said of it before the return from the Baby