Page images
PDF
EPUB

a

a

the intimation, that a double quantity of the Manna should fall, and gives the order that a double quantity should be gathered and prepared, without assigning for these things any reason whatever; which, on the supposition of no sabbatical observance of the seventh day having previously existed, and no distinetion between that day and other days,-is utterly unaccountable: whereas, on the contrary supposition, that of its previous celebration, all is natural, and precisely as we should have expected it to be.- When the fact of the people's gathering double on the sixth day was reported by the rulers to Moses, he gave his approving sanction (as on either of the preceding suppositions he must of course have done) to this part of their conduct; and he added the command, that, having done right in gathering double, they should further respect the “rest of the holy Sabbath," by making ready on the sixth day what might be required for the consumption of the seventh. When he says— This is that which the Lord hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe;" it is evident, that the thing commanded is not contained in the words, “ To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord;" but that these words are the affirmation of a known fact, and that this known fact is assigned as the reason of the thing commanded—“bake that ye will baketo-day, and seethe that ye will seethe.” For my own part, I can fancy nothing more unreasonable, than to interpret this passage as the original institution of the seventh-day rest,—the law of the Sabbath. If I had said to any one of you yesterday,_“I intend to-morrow to set out on a journey from home,"-you would, with pro

a

66

priety, have said to me in reply, “ To-morrow is the Sabbath ;” and your language would have proceeded on the assumption that the fact was known and familiar to my mind as well as to yours; but that, from some cause or other at the moment, I had forgotten the time at which I was speaking. So when Moses says, “ To-morrow is the Sabbath,” he proceeds upon the assumption of a pre-existing and familiar fact, as much as you would do in the answer I have supposed you to make to my proposal,—a fact familiar to himself, and familiar to the people.

It is alleged, I am aware, that there is no intimation in the narrative of this being “the revival of an old forgotten institution.” Granted. But what is the legitimate inference? Is the conclusion an unreasonable one, that it was not a forgotten Institution ? An Institution may continue for a length of time to be only partially observed, or even not observed at all, when its regular observance is prevented by the necessity of the case, and yet not be forgotten. On the supposition, therefore, that the peculiar condition of the children of Israel, during the servitude of Egypt, had interfered with the regular celebration of the sabbatical rest,* it does not follow that it was gone from their remembrance. Conceiving the language of the passage, in the Book of Exodus, to be altogether unlike what

[ocr errors]

* This, however, although circumstances, may be considered as giving it much probability, is not, in all its extent at least, a certainty. “ The antiquity of the Sabbath,” says Bishop Horsley, “was a thing so well understood among the Jews themselves, that some of their Rabbins had the vanity to pretend that an exact adherence to the observation of this day, under the severities of the Egyptian servitude, was the merit by which their ancestors, procured a miraculous deliverance."

must have been used respecting a new and utterly unknown institution, I look upon it as containing satisfactory evi dence of the contrary that however partially and irregu larly observed, it had not been forgotten.

The incident recorded in that passage, I need not remind you, 'preceded the giving of the law from Sinai. ✨ I have now, then, to notice, in further corroboration of the previous existence of the Sabbathes down abo

>

[ocr errors]

6. In the sixth place; the terms of that law itself. You will find them, Exod. xx. 8-11.* “ Remember the sabi bath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou lábour, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it."It will not be disputed, that the language, "Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy" is language which assumes, or presupposes its existence. I grant, that if by any one who hears me the original institution of the Sabbath can be considered as contained in the sixteenth chapter of the same Book, on which we have been commenting, then this style may be consistently enough explained. But if the words in that passage «To-morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord," cannot, on any natural principle, be interpreted as the first enactment of the law of the Sabbath then the terms of the fourth commandment must refer to a more ancient time of institution: and there is no other to which

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3

it can' refer but the time of creation-the time in our text. That it has this reference, and can have no other, is rendered most strikingly manifest by the terms of the reason assigned in this commandment for its observance: -“for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it.” It has commonly been said, that “ blessed” and “hallowed," being verbs in the past tense, must refer to past time and previous institution; and that if this had been the first institution, the verbs would have been in the present tense" wherefore the Lord blesseth the seventh day, and halloweth it.” Dr. Paley would reply—“ It is not pretended that the fourth commandment contains the first institution of the Sabbath ; its institution took place

; before, at the time of the manna." And, although we might think the reference unreasonable to so recent a date, we could not deny that it was past time, and would therefore warrant the use of verbs in the past tense.But the conclusion that the reference is to a more remote period is, in my mind, irresistible, on another ground. In the reason of observance—" wherefore the Lord blessed the seventh day and hallowed it," there is, most evidently, a reference to the terms of some previous record of the institution of the Sabbath. Now, when was the seventh day blessed and hallowed ? Where are such terms employed? In the narrative of the manna, when the institution is supposed to have taken place, we have nothing of the kind. Where, then, in the preceding history, are these words of institution (for so they may with the strictest propriety be called) to be found? The answer is, they

are in our text. We have them here; and we have them nowhere else. If the terms in the fourth commandment do not refer to those of our text, we know of nothing else to which they can refer. And if they do, then our text must necessarily be understood as a historical statement of what took place at the time, not as a mere anticipation of what was long after to take place in the wilderness. The two things are quite incompatible. If, when quoted in the fourth commandment, they refer to what was past; they cannot, when used in the text, be anticipative of what was to come. The quotation in the fourth commandment may justly be considered as containing an affirmation, that when these words" the Lord blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it," were used in the history, the Sabbath was instituted. But the words are used only here; and here then, on divine authority, we have the institution and true date of the Sabbath. made my ideas clearly understood, but to my own mind this view of the matter is irresistibly conclusive. 10191911

[ocr errors]

I know not whether I have

Thus it appears that while, on the one hand, the lang guage of our text in the Book of Genesis cannot, without unnatural straining, be interpreted of an institution to take place in far-remote futurity; neither, on the other, can the language in the Book of Exodus be interpreted, without similar straining, of a new and previously unknown institution. done 978 9190 H 1 Bas bogold 7 d There are, however, some alleged difficulties in the way, which are deserving of particular notice.

It is objected to the supposition of the Sabbath having existed from the beginning, that little or no notice of it is to be found in the inspired account of the antediluvian and

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »