« PreviousContinue »
all along existed amongst the different tribes of the human family.-Now, our argument is this. If this division of time had the origin thus assigned to it, the reason of it must, of course, have been originally known, namely, the fact of the Creator's having made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh.-God's "resting" means two things, his cessation from his work, and his complacency in it. These two things are expressed in the language of Moses elsewhere, Exod. xxxi. 17. "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth; and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed." To no one who is even superficially versant in the Holy Scriptures, can it be necessary to say, that such terms as these, when applied to Deity, are not meant to convey any such ideas as those of repose from fatigue, and the recruiting of exhausted strength. The first words, indeed, of the narrative of creation should be enough to silence the profanity of the scoffer, and to command into awe the leer of his scornful countenance-" God said, Let there be light; and there was light." The Book which opens with such an exhibition of the divine omnipotence, -containing so striking an exemplification of the sentiment, that of lofty conceptions the simplest expression is the most sublime,-is not to be interpreted as, only a few sentences after, sinking the Almighty from the lofty majesty in which it had thus enthroned him, by representing him as the subject of weariness and exhaustion. If there be one quality, indeed, by which the inspired account of creation is more distinguished than by others, it is its divine simplicity, the entire absence of every thing like effort or labour, on the part of the "Mighty Maker," in bringing into being the various portions of the stupendous
universe. He “speaks, and it is done ; he commands, and it stands fast :'_“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is" weary: there is no searching of his understanding.” It is true that creation occupied a certain portion of time : but not because omnipotence required it. The same word that commanded into existence the successive parts could, with equal ease, by one fiat, have commanded the whole. But there was a design in its being ordered otherwise ; and the design related to man. It was, to give commencement to such a division of time amongst the inhabitants of the new-formed world, as should connect the finished work of creation with a commemorative day. Between the divine eternity (let it be recollected) and the divisions of time, there can subsist no possible relation. When the eternal God, therefore, is represented as "resting" in connexion with a day,a limited portion of time, the repre
1 sentation must, of necessity, have reference to his creatures, and to that order which he intended should be observed amongst them. This is clear. To speak of days in the eternity of the Godhead, is a sheer absurdity. From this it follows, (and here returns the point of our argument,) that if God's resting on the seventh day was known by men, the reason of it must also have been known. But to what does this amount ? Why to this: that the
very existence of the division of time into weeks, or periods of seven days, necessarily implies the knowledge, on the part of men, of the divine intention with regard to a Sabbath. Days belong to creatures, not to the Creator; and, for my own part, I am altogether unable to imagine, how the circumstance of God's resting from his work on the
seventh day could possibly be known, without the purpose being also known that this day was to be a day of sacred rest, and religious observance to men. The mere cessation from the work of creation could, of course, occupy no time whatever ; and the representation of Deity, as resting for a seventh revolution of time, equal to each of the six preceding revolutions, could be nothing more than an im. pressive mode of intimating to his creatures his intention and his will, respecting their conduct in reference to that day. And if so, the Sabbath must have been known and observed from the beginning.
5. The same thing is apparent, fifthly, from the very terms in which the first mention is made of the Sabbath, by the historian of the Exodus,-the terms which, according to Dr. Paley, record its first institution.
Look to the passage-Exod. xvi. 16-30. The historian is speaking of the Manna ; and having described its appearance, and the inquisitive surprise of the people on seeing it, he thus proceeds :-“This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded. Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons ; take ye every man for them which are in his tents. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered,
. some more, some less. And when they did mete it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack: they gathered every man according to his eating And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning. Notwithstanding, they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. And they gathered it every morning,
every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, 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 ; and that which remaineth over lay up for you, to be kept until the morning. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade; and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a sabbath unto the Lord : to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none. And came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws ? See, for that the Lord hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days: abide ye every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day." : Having read the passage, I would put the question to any man of ordinary understanding and candid simplicity, whether he can imagine this to be the manner in which a religious observance, entirely new, quite unknown before, would have been first legally instituted ? Whether is it likest the formality of legislation, or the incidental mention of an institution previously known ? Nay, more. In the twenty-second.verse, it is said "And it came to pass. that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man; and all the rulers of the
congregation came, and told Moses."
This circumstance merits special notice. What did the rulers report to Moses? One of two things. Either they told the fact of this double gathering on the sixth day, as a thing which they themselves had not anticipated, and which they feared might be a violation of the order respecting the quantity to be collected daily ;-or they reported it as an act of obedience, on the part of the people, to a previous intimation,--telling Moses that they had done as had been commanded. On the former supposition, it will follow, that the people had pursued this course on the sixth day of their own accord, anticipating the sabbatical rest of the seventh. On the latter supposition, Moses had made known, to the rulers and to the people, the intimation which had been made by Jehovah to himself. What, then, were the terms of that intimation ? It is contained in the fifth verse of the chapter :-“ and it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it
1 shall be twice as much as they gather daily.” On either
" of the two suppositions, the inference is clear. If Moses had not yet communicated this divine intimation to the. people, and the people gathered their double portion on the sixth day of their own accord, it follows that the rest. of the seventh day was known and familiar to them. If, on the contrary, the communication had been made to them by Moses, and they acted in conformity to it, still the terms in which the intimation is made by Jehovah to. Moses himself, imply, with equal clearness, that the seventh day rest was known and familiar to him. For God makes