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FIRST DAY SABBATH
WITH THE OPINIONS OF
BELSHAM, MELANCTHON, BARCLAY, PALEY, AND OTHERS.
COMMITTEE OF THE EDINBURGH EMANCIPATION SOCIETY.
AND SOLD BY THE BOOKSELLERS,
The writer of the following pages professes to be a CHRISTIAN. Whether he is, must be decided by his spirit and life. Christ is his hope_his Redeemer from sin—his triumph in joy-his glory in affliction. That death has no sting—the grave no gloom-he owes to Christ. That he can walk calmly on his pathway down into the eternal future, is owing to the light that beams upon his course from the Sun of Righteousness. That he may have the mind and lead the life of Christ on earth, and be permitted to be with him and share his love in his eternal kingdom,-is all the glory he seeks here, and all the heaven he expects hereafter. If he may but love as Jesus loved; forgive as he forgave; and live as he lived-simply to do his heavenly Father's will—he is willing to be of no repute among men. That he may win Christ, and be a living epistle for him, and induce others to share the same glorious distinction, he would make the end and aim of his existence.
Such being his feelings and aims, he commits this little pamphlet to the attentive and kindly perusal of all who seek the truth as it is in Jesus.
GLASGOW, May 17, 1846.
TO DR. GREVILLE, MESSRS. JOHN DUNLOP, EDWARD CRUIKSHANK, AND OTHERS—THE COMMITTEE OF THE EDINBURGH EMANCIPATION SOCIETY.
You refuse to co-operate with me in the cause of Anti-Slavery, because of what you term my erroneous views of the SABBATH and other subjects. Anti-Slavery is a question of Humanity, not of sect, or nation-in which every being who shares the nature and wants of man is equally concerned. As I would never ask for any man's political or theological opinions before I would join with him to rescue a fellow-being from the flames, so I would not ask whether a man be a Jew, Mahometan, Heathen, or Christian, as a preliminary to co-operation in the abolition of Slavery. Such is the broad principle of Human Brotherhood on which the Anti-Slavery Movement in America is based. This principle of co-operation you repudiate; and make an agreement in sentiment on the Sabbath and other questions-not at all connected with Anti-Slavery—essential to combined, social action, at least so far as I am concerned. In consequence of the position you have taken, and the representations you have made of my views of the Sabbath, it has become necessary
for me to state my own opinions on this subject and my reasons for holding them. I wish, also, that the world may judge of the soundness of the principle on which you decline co-operation with me, and my coadjutors in America, in the holy cause of Emancipation. Pardon me for doing this in a Letter, addressed to yourselves. I seek no controversy with you~I wish only to state my own views and the grounds of
THE QUESTION AT ISSUE Is not-Are men to consecrate first day to God? I believe they
are bound to do so : also, that they are equally bound to consecrate every other day to God.
It is not— Were the Jews required to observe the seventh day as a Sabbath? They were; and were subjected to the penalty of death if they did any work on that day—(Ex. xxxv. 1, 2).
It is not—Is the assembling of ourselves together for instruction and improvenient in things pertaining to the kingdom of Heaven, profitable for man and acceptable to God? I believe such meetings are useful, and necessary to our growth in grace and divine knowledge.
It is not—Is it a good regulation of society to appropriate first day to rest and relexation from bodily toil? I believe such an appropriation of that day to be wise, and most useful, and
perfectly consistent with the Christian system, and with the laws of our physical nature.
But-Does Christianity consecrate the first, or any other day of the week, as a Sabbath? Or, Is the first day Sabbath of human or divine appointment; and its observation based on expediency or Divine authority? This, alone, is the question to which I would call attention.
THE JEWISHI SABBATH.
By the consent of nearly universal Christendom, it is abolished, both as to the day and the manner of observing it. Christianity ranks that Sabbath with “beggarly elements," with “shadows,” with “ new moons and sacrifices,” that are passed away, and have no more authority over conscience, since Christ has come. The apostle expressly warns men against the observance of that Sabbath; against imposing it as a burden upon others; and against censuring others for refusing to ob. serve it. (Col. ii. 16–23; Gal. iv. 9—11; Rom. xiv. 1-7).
FIRST DAY SABBATH.
If it is of Divine obligation, the proof must be drawn from the Jewish or Christian Scriptures. Has God commanded the observance of first day as a Sabbath? This is the question, and the only question.
Argument from the Jewish Scriptures. The fourth command (Ex. xx. 9–11) is quoted to prove the divine obligation of the first day Sabbath. Read the passage.
It is seen that the
seventh is the day there commanded to be observed, and no allusion is made to any other. Then as to the mode of observing it, rest from labour is the only thing required. In both these particulars-comprising the whole of the command—the most strenuous Sabbatarians set it aside. They do not remember to observe the seventh day as a Sabbath; and they habitually work, doing things which, under the Jewish dispensation, would have subjected them to death.
To set aside a divine command in its only expressed essential points, and then to quote that same command as authority in a matter to which it makes no allusion, is manifestly unfair, if not impious. But this is done by Sabbatarians every time they quote the fourth command as authority for the observance of the first day as a Sabbath. For the seventh is the only day specified, or to which allusion is made; and rest the only duty enjoined; and they reject the command in both these particulars, and then insist that it binds us to observe the first day as a Sabbath, and to devote it to rest and to other purposes !
Seventh part of time.—But it is said, The command is not quoted so much to designate the first day, and to enforce the obligation to keep it, as to designate a seventh part of time, and leave it to men to decide what day to observe.
I understand what is meant by the phrase, “the seventh day is the Sabbath;” but how the seventh day can be made to mean the first day, or any day which men see fit to name, I cannot comprehend. I can also understand the reason given for resting on the seventh day; but I cannot imagine how this should prove that Christians are bound to rest on the first day. And there is not a hint in the Divine Record that God ever changed thc seventh to the first day, and that He requires the latter to be observed as a Sabbath instead of the former.
Those appear to me to trifle with Divine authority, and to introduce a principle of interpretation fatal to men’s regard for the Divine Record, who seek to elicit from this passage author ity for the observance of the first day Sabbath. Especially when they do this by asserting that the essential element of the command is, not the seventh day of the week, as it is specified, but a seventh portion of time. They quote a command specifying the seventh day as the only day to be observed, to prove