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“ the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord
thy God: in it thou shalt not do any “ work, thou, nor thy fon, nor thy daugh
ter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-fer“ vani, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that o is within thy gates.
For in six days the " Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and “ all that in thein is, and rested the seventh
day: wherefore the Lord blessed the fabbath-day, and hallowed it.”
Besides this reason for keeping the fabbath, which equally affects all mankind, we sometimes find other arguments insisted upon, which respect the Jews only, as Deut.
“Remember that thou wast a fer“ vant in the land of Egypt, and that the “ Lord thy God brought thee out thence
through a mighty hand, and by a stretched “out arm : therefore the Lord thy God “ commanded thee to keep the fabbathday.” It
It appears from these passages, that the proper purpose of the fabbath is rest from bailily labo!ır. But, on this account, it is also peculiarly seasonable for serious reflection of mind, and devout meditation on
the works of God; and by this means it is exceedingly useful for correcting the unfavourable influence, which a close and uninterrupted attention to the business of this life naturally has upon our minds ; impreffing us with just sentiments, and thereby preparing us for good conduct in life. Accordingly, we find in the Old, but more especially in the New Testament, that this use was made of the fabbath, both by the Jews and christians, there being stated afsemblies on this day for reading the scriptures and public prayer.
The fabbath was also distinguished under the law of Moses by an additional facrifice of two lambs, besides the daily burnt-ofering, Numb. xxviii. 9. And the ninety-second Psalm being intituled, “ a Pfulin or
song for the fabbath-day,” was probably composed, in order to be sung in tlie templeservice of that day.
As we find, 2 Kings iv. 23, that it was customary with the Jews of old to refort to their prophets on the fabbath-day, and also
on the new moons, it is not improbable but that the prophets, and other persons learned in their law, were used to explain it on those days to the people. Where no such persons were at hand, it is probable that masters of private families read the scriptures in their own houses; or several families might join, and assemble together for the purpose, and this might give occasion to the institution of Synagogues, which answered the same end. These assemblies were in universal use in our Saviour's time, and had been so, as is generally agreed, from the time of Ezra, if they were not as old as the time of king David, who is thought to allude to them in some of his Pfalms.
Christ having risen from the dead on the first day of the week, which is distinguished by the appellation of the Lord's day, and having afterwards appeared to his disciples on that day, in preference to any other, it feems from thence to have grown into a custom, with the apostles and primitive christians, to assemble for public worship on that day, rather than on the seventh ; and
though the christian Jews probably continued for some time to meet on the seventh day also, yet, by degrees, the observance of that day for the purpose of public worship
grew out of use.
Our present practice was certainly that of the earliest christians, whose customs we are able to trace, and there having never been any controversy upon the subject, we may safely conclude, that they derived it from the apostles ; and their authority is suificient
Nor does it make any material difference whether we be certified of their practice by their own writings, or any other fufficient evidence. In fact, it does not seem to be very material, what particular day of the week we set apart for rest and public worship, provided we conscientiously appropriate the same portion of our time to that use.
That some portion of time should be set apart for the purpose of public worship, seems to be highly reasonable of itself, exclusive of all express authority; since societics, as such, depend upon God, as well as the individuals that compose them; and therefore they owe him the same homage ; and it is most natural, that public thanksgivings, confessions, and petitions, should be made by as many of the society as can conveniently assemble for that purpose. Every person, therefore, who considers himself as a member of society, and having a common interest with it, should, on this account, attend the public worship of God; and what time is so convenient for this purpose, as the day of rest from labour and worldly business. The mind will naturally be most composed, and, on every account, the fittest for religious exercises on that day;., and the devotion of individuals is greatly strengthened by the example of others joining with them.