By Amos Binney and Daniel Steele
By this is meant, 1. The day appointed of God, at the close of creation, to be observed by man as a day of rest from all secular employment, because that in it God himself had rested from his work. Gen. 2:1-3. Not that God's rest was necessitated by fatigue, Isa. 40:28; but he rested, that is, ceased to work, on the seventh day as an example to man; hence assigned it as a reason why men should rest on that day. Exod. 20:11; 31:17. God's blessing and sanctifying the day, meant that he separated it from a common to a religious use, to be a perpetual (158. What is said of polygamy? Of separation? Is the Sabbath a divine institution? When appointed? For what reason? What is meant by God's sanctifying it?) memorial or sign that all who thus observed it would show themselves to be the worshipers of that God who made the world in six days and rested on the seventh Exod. 20:8, 11; 31:16-17; Isa. 56:6, 7.
2. The Sabbath is indispensable to man, being promotive of his highest good, physically, intellectually, socially, spiritually, and eternally. Hence its observance is connected with the best of promises, and its violation with the severest penalties. Exod. 23:12; 31:12-18; Neh. 13:15-22; Isa. 56:2-7; 58:13, 14; Jer. 17:21-27; Ezek. 20:12-13; 22:26-31. Its sanctity was very distinctly marked in the gathering of the manna. Exod. 16:22-30.
3. The original law of the Sabbath was renewed and made a prominent part of the moral law, or ten commandments, given through Moses at Sinai. Exod. 20:8-11.
4. This seventh-day Sabbath was strictly observed by Christ and his apostles previous to his crucifixion. Mark. 4:2; Luke 4:16, 31; 13:10; Acts 1:12-14; 13:14, 42, 44; 17:2; 18:4. (159. Is the observance of the Sabbath promotive of man's highest good? What are some of the promises and penalties connected with its observance? Where was this law renewed and written? Was the original Sabbath ever observed by Christ and his apostles?)
5. Jesus, after his resurrection, changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week; thus showing his authority as Lord even of the Sabbath, Matt. 12:8; not to abrogate or break it, but to preside over and modify, or give new form to it, so as to have it commemorate his resurrection, when he ceased from his redeeming work as God did from his creation work. Heb.4:10.
When Jesus gave instructions for this change we are not told, but very likely during the time when he spake to his apostles of the things pertaining to his kingdom. Acts 1:3. This is probably one of the many unrecorded things which Jesus did. John 20:30; 21:25.
6. That the Sabbath was actually changed from the seventh to the first day of the week appears from the example of the apostles, who, after the resurrection of Christ, celebrated the first day as a Sabbath . John 20:19, 26; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2. Hence this is called The Lord's day. Rev. 1:10.
On this day Jesus appeared to his apostles a week from his resurrection.
The Holy Spirit was given on this day at the Feast of Pentecost. The Lord's Supper was celebrated on this day. I Cor. 11:20; 16:1-2; Acts 20:6-11. (160. Where and why did he change the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week? What other evidences?)
In Col. 2:16-17, Paul plainly declares that the disciples of Jesus are not under obligation to observe the seventh day, or Jewish Sabbath. Yet this did not release them from keeping a Sabbath, since this is a divine institution given to the human race in the persons of Adam and Eve. The Lord's day is the only holy day of the early Christian Church.
7. We are nowhere told what time of the day the Sabbath shall commence, for the obvious reason that the same day does not commence at the same time in all parts of the earth. Under such circumstances it is safe and expedient for us to conform our reckoning of the days to that which prevails in the country where we live. Rom. 14:5-6.
8. All works of mercy and necessity, such as administering to the relief of the suffering of man or beast, when such works cannot be properly deferred, are consistent with the right observance of the Sabbath. Mark 2:23-27; 3:2-5; Luke 13:10-17; John 5:16-20; 7:22-23. (161. Was the Jewish sabbath ever after observed by the Christ Church as the Sabbath? What other evidence of the Jewish Sabbath being kept as holy time? Is the exact time of day for the Sabbath to commence anywhere required? What is said respecting works of mercy on the Sabbath?)
The Sabbath, as a day of rest and holy service, is a type of heaven, into which none but the truly faithful and holy can enter. Heb. 4:1-l1; 12:14; Rev. 14:13; 22:14-15.
It is the duty of the civil power to protect Christians against disturbance in their Sabbath worship. But the power is intruding into the divine prerogative when it assumes the right to compel the subject to worship God, or to refrain from those pursuits which do not disturb others. The keeping of the Sabbath is eminently a moral duty, and hence it must be a voluntary service rendered under the pressure of moral suasives only.
As the Sabbath is of vast utility in preserving the knowledge and worship of God, and thereby promoting the temporal and spiritual welfare, the present and future happiness of mankind, it is our duty to make every exertion to prevent its violation, by inculcating those moral principles which underlie its acceptable observance. (162. What is said of the civil power? Of what is the Sabbath a type? What is our duty in view of its utility? What to those who regard less its sacredness? Why?)
At the same time we should avoid an uncharitable condemnation of those who have been educated in Christian countries where Puritanic strictness in regard to the Sabbath does not prevail. On no other moral question is there ground for so much forbearance and exercise of charitable judgment.