Reformed Covenanter blog posts on the Sabbath

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Lord's Day does not merely focus on the Sabbath, but also deals with the all too relevant subject of uncommanded ecclesiastical holy days:

... In keeping the first day of the week now, Christians, by the very act, recognise Christ as the author of it, and do an act of religious homage to Him as the one Redeemer, who on that day rose from the dead, and secured the salvation of His people. By keeping the last day of the week holy, the Jews, by the very act, adored one God, the Creator of all. In keeping the first day of the week holy, Christians, by the very act, adore one Saviour, the Redeemer of all. ...

For more, see James Bannerman on Christ’s authority, the Sabbath, and ecclesiastical holy days.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Sports and pastimes, and natural wonted recreations, such as may be used on the week day are also forbidden [on the Sabbath], and therefore in the place alleged before, it is forbidden to seek one’s own pleasure or will, and sure he that taketh leave to use pastimes seeks his own pleasure as he that followeth his business. ...

For more, see Edward Leigh on the prohibition of sports on the Sabbath.
In the fuller article he claims “sports” are never allowed. Your thoughts Daniel? Feel free to just PM me if you want to keep the fat trimmed on this thread.:detective:
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
In the fuller article he claims “sports” are never allowed. Your thoughts Daniel? Feel free to just PM me if you want to keep the fat trimmed on this thread.:detective:
Not so, he says that they "are never lawful, but as sauce for work". In other words, recreations are something to be used to help us work. Before anyone asks, I would answer that what counts as work and recreation varies from person to person. For instance, I know some people who work at desk jobs who do building and DIY as a hobby. But such activities are obviously not hobbies for those employed as builders and handy-men.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Not so, he says that they "are never lawful, but as sauce for work". In other words, recreations are something to be used to help us work. Before anyone asks, I would answer that what counts as work and recreation varies from person to person. For instance, I know some people who work at desk jobs who do building and DIY as a hobby. But such activities are obviously not hobbies for those employed as builders and handy-men.
“Sauce for work”. I love it!
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
Sports and pastimes, and natural wonted recreations, such as may be used on the week day are also forbidden [on the Sabbath], and therefore in the place alleged before, it is forbidden to seek one’s own pleasure or will, and sure he that taketh leave to use pastimes seeks his own pleasure as he that followeth his business. ...

For more, see Edward Leigh on the prohibition of sports on the Sabbath.
The objection that is raised is what to do with restless children; 'we don't want them raised to hate the Sabbath' etc. This has come up many times; but it is a common enough objection that it is a commonplace, about that dad and that son and that ball toss exception.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The objection that is raised is what to do with restless children; 'we don't want them raised to hate the Sabbath' etc. This has come up many times; but it is a common enough objection that it is a commonplace, about that dad and that son and that ball toss exception.
So, what they are saying is that adults should observe the Lord's Day as children because children are incapable of observing the Sabbath as adults. That reasoning is most strange.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
So, what they are saying is that adults should observe the Lord's Day as children because children are incapable of observing the Sabbath as adults. That reasoning is most strange.
That does come to mind as an objection to a careless giving in to the question; but in this case it is almost always confessionalists raising the point in the context of what to do with a restless child to blow off pent up energy. Or maybe not even that; 'what is wrong with a walk or casual ball toss with a child'? I may not be getting the exception wholly right. But that is it as I recall.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
The objection that is raised is what to do with restless children; 'we don't want them raised to hate the Sabbath' etc. This has come up many times; but it is a common enough objection that it is a commonplace, about that dad and that son and that ball toss exception.
True but for 5 and under it does get tricky. I currently do not take exception, but I have yet to keep my 2 yr. old in acts of worship for the full day. We have let her go run around in our backyard or do a puzzle.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
True but for 5 and under it does get tricky. I currently do not take exception, but I have yet to keep my 2 yr. old in acts of worship for the full day. We have let her go run around in our backyard or do a puzzle.
I can't speak to specifics of the exception commonly adduced; but I always assumed the lad envisioned was older, someone mature enough to take advantage of the means of grace that a 2 and 5 yo are not and everyone would grant need to grow and mature to partake more and more fully of the means of grace on that day.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The perpetuity and the universal obligation of the Sabbath, and consequently its appointment in the beginning of time, are distinctly indicated by the place assigned it in the Decalogue. It is acknowledged that the other nine precepts are of universal and perpetual obligation; and for this reason they were written on tables of stone by the finger of God. ...

For more, see Nathan L. Rice on the Sabbath and the moral law.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
@Reformed Bookworm's post from Thomas Ridgely last week convinced me that now was the appropriate time to publish the below extract by George Swinnock for this Lord's Day:

... First, Make preparation for the day. There is scarce any work which admits of any considerable perfection but requires some previous preparation. In works of nature, the ground must be dunged, dressed, ploughed, harrowed, and all to prepare it for the seed. In works of art the musician tuneth his violin, screwing up some of his strings higher, letting some down lower, as occasion is, and all to prepare it for his lesson, and indeed without this he would make but sad music. Truly, friend, thus it is with us in matters of higher moment; hearts, like soil, must be prepared for the seed of the word—how many a sermon hath been lost because this was wanting!–and the violins of our souls must be tuned to praise God, or otherwise they will sound but harshly in his ears. ...

For more, see George Swinnock on preparing for the market day of the soul.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... And further, there is under it a motive from abundant equity: seeing that God hath made the proportion thus, not pinched to us, but dealt very liberally in the time granted for our own work, what gross, not impiety only, but iniquity and ingratitude will it be, to encroach upon that small part He hath nominated and set apart for His service! …

For more, see Robert Leighton on the equity of God requiring one day exclusively for himself.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This post is quite a good one to share with those who struggle to see evidence for Sabbath observance on the first day of the week in the New Testament:

... If the evidence for the change of the day be chiefly inferential and indirect, it is not on that account the less conclusive. Not only is it an admitted principle that the practice of the first Christian churches, under the guidance of the apostles, as recorded in the New Testament, is equivalent in value and authority to direct precept, but there is a good reason for the absence of any explicit injunction, formally authorising the change. ...

For more, see William Symington II on the Lord’s Day as the Christian Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This week's post on a father's duty to enforce Sabbath-observance is no doubt something of a hard saying (in all honesty, who is sufficient for these things?), but it is not one that we may avoid:

... Thus we see, in the Fourth Command, the Master of the Family is obliged to fee to the religious observance of the Sabbath by all within his House, and so he has a Charge for which he is accountable to the great GOD: And therefore a sincere Person looks on himself as bound to be careful to maintain the Worship of GOD in his Family, and amongst those whom he has the Charge of. This made holy Job concerned to sacrifice for his Children: And the Neglect of paternal Duty in Eli provoked the LORD’s Displeasure. ...

For more, see Thomas Halyburton on a father’s duty to maintain family religion and Sabbath observance.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... The sabbath is not a snare, but rather a day of delight — not, however, for sinful flesh. Those who are spiritually minded will almost always know what either favours or impedes the spirituality of the sabbath and the hallowing of this day. Sabbath observance consists, first of all, in focusing upon the commandment and example of God which are held before us to be followed. This must be accompanied by obedient subjection and a love to imitate this. ...

For more, see Wilhelmus à Brakel: What is Sabbath observance?
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This source is a good one for sharing with evangelical Anglicans who think that they are free to engage in #FourthCommandmentDenial. It is also worth sharing with those who profess to adhere to the Westminster Standards, yet take exception to strict Sabbath observance, to demonstrate how out of step their position is with wider historic Reformed thought:

... Ma. After what manner is the Sabbath day to be kept holy?

Sch. The people must assemble together, to hear the doctrine of Christ, to yield confession of their faith, to make public prayers to God, to keep the memory of God’s works, and to render thanks unto him for his benefits, and to celebrate the holy Sacraments which he hath left us.

Ma. Is there no more required of us for the keeping holy of the Sabbath day?

Sch. This is the outward rest and keeping holy of the Sabbath day;  besides the which, there is a spiritual rest and sanctifying of it.

Ma. What is that?

Sch. That is, when resting from worldy business, and from our own works and studies, we yield our selves wholly to God’s governance, that he may do his works in us;  and when  (as the Scripture termeth it)  we crucify our flesh, we bridle the forward desires and motions of our heart, restraining our own nature, that we may obey the will of God, for thus doing, our Sabbath day here upon earth, shall most aptly express a figure and likeness of eternal & most holy Rest, which we shall forever enjoy in Heaven. ...

For more, see Alexander Nowell on the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Whenever and wherever the Sabbath, instead of being kept holy, has become a holiday, it has become a source of dissipation and corruption. It is a universal rule, that the more important and valuable any institution is, the greater the evils of its perversion. We have only to go to Spain, Mexico, and South America, to see the effect of such a perversion of the Sabbath upon public morals.

After morning service, the masses of the people resort to the bull-fight, the cock-pit, the theatre, and the like; and no day in the week is so fruitful of vice. If, then, we would not have the Sabbath become a curse, let us insist upon the strict observance of the entire day. Better that it should be a day of secular labour, than of frolic and dissipation.

For the reference, see Nathan L. Rice on the evil of turning the Sabbath into a vacation day.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Lord's Day comes from John Owen, who argues that Sabbath observance is vital to true religion:

... How much it tends to the exercise and expression of the power of religion cannot but be evident unto all, unless they be such as hate it, who are not a few. With others it will quickly appear unto a sober and unprejudicated consideration; for no small part hereof doth consist in the constant payment of that homage of spiritual worship which we owe unto God in Jesus Christ. And the duties designed thereunto are the means which he hath appointed for the communication of grace and spiritual strength unto the due performance of the remainder of our obedience. In these things consist the services of this day; and the end of its observation is their duo performance, unto the glory of God and the advantage of our own souls. ...

For more, see John Owen on the Sabbath and the power of true religion.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Lord's Day comes from one of the Disruption Worthies:

... And, indeed, it is plain that, in substance, it is of a moral nature; for if, as God’s rational creatures, we are under an eternal obligation, in some way or other, to worship and do him homage, then some portion of time must necessarily be devoted to that duty; and though our reason might not be able to discover, in the nature of the thing, any necessity for that time being limited to one day rather than another, yet, did we understand the constitution of our nature as God understands it, or could we estimate as he estimates the tendency and the influence of his institutions, as they are calculated to affect us; I doubt not we should perceive something very different from a mere arbitrary arrangement, in his expressly appointing one whole day in seven to be a holy Sabbath to himself. ...

For more, see Robert Gordon on the significance of the Sabbath in the Ten Commandments.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Sabbath is from yet another of the Disruption Worthies. It was in many ways very prophetic about the decline of Sabbath observance:

... Indeed the Sabbath, properly so-called, that is, a day in every week hallowed and set apart, by the special appointment of God, for bodily and spiritual rest, and allowing no interruption except what may arise from the works, which either cannot or should not be deferred, of necessity and mercy — such a day no longer exists in the opinion of a large and influential portion of the community.

The only thing they acknowledge is what is more fitly called Sunday, a day which requires, and that by common consent, rather than by express precept, the consecration of a few hours to the public worship of God, but leaves men free to spend all its other hours according to their taste or circumstances, either in pleasant recreations, or in pressing business. ...

For more, see Patrick Fairbairn on the threat to Scotland’s Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Doubtless, friend, the Sabbaths of the holy are the suburbs of heaven. In heaven there is no buying, no selling, no ploughing, no sowing, nothing but worshipping God, communion with him, fruition of him, and delight in him. There remains a rest for the people of God. There they rest from their labours.

If thou on a Lord’s-day turnest thy back upon the world, and goest up into the mount, conversing with, and rejoicing in the blessed God, what dost thou less than begin thine eternal Sabbath here? Such a Lord’s-day can be no less than heaven in a looking glass, representing truly, though darkly, thy future eternal happiness. There is no perfume so sweet to a pilgrim as his own smoke. ...

For the reference, see George Swinnock: The Sabbath is a suburb of heaven.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
One cannot but come to the conclusion that the providential removal of public gospel ordinances is a judgment for the church's wanton disregard of the fourth commandment. In this week's post, Edward Leigh reminds us of our duty to attend public worship twice on the Sabbath:

... And it is apparent that Moses was read and preached in the Synagogues every Sabbath day, Act. 15. 21. See Act. 15. 14, 15. and that the custom of the ancient Church was on their Sabbaths to meet as we now do twice a day, it is to be seen in the Ordinance of the morning and evening Sacrifices which were appointed to be as many more for the Sabbath as for the other days. Upon the Lords-day God is to be publicly served of the whole Church in their several Congregations, and all the particular members of each Church are bound, unless they have some very just cause to come in due season to the Congregations, and attentively and reverently to join with them, and continue so doing till the end, and that not only in the Morning but also in the Evening. ...

For more, see Edward Leigh on attending the public exercises of religion twice on the Lord’s Day.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Jonathan Edwards's words in the below post are crucial for understanding a major contributing factor to our current spiritual mess:

When a people decline and grow cold in religion, there is a decay of outward strictness in religion. There is not that strictness in keeping the sabbath day; but it will be violated by people’s encroaching upon holy time at its beginning, and by their talking [of] worldly and profane things, or by such light and diverting talk which don’t show that reverence for the sabbath which is becoming. There is not that appearance of reverence and solemnity in public worship which is becoming.

There is great decay of family religion. There is great want of care and pains in instructing children and instilling principles of religion into ’em. There is not a strict care to keep up a constant attendance on family worship in the members of the family. There is want of care to keep God’s ordinances pure, and to hear a testimony against scandalous iniquity.

For the reference, see Jonathan Edwards: contempt for the Sabbath is indicative of a religious decline.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This week's post from Matthew Mead is very timely given the absence of gospel ordinances in recent times:

... Such would be ashamed to stand reasoning and enquiring whether they might not halve it with God, and rob him and themselves of a good part. What a strange tedious thing is it for poor Creatures, that know not God, nor their own necessities, to be obliged to consecrate One day in Seven to spiritual Services, for which, awakened and experienced Souls think their whole Life-time little enough? How many have we had crying, like those, Amos 8. 5. When will the New Moon be gone, and the Sabbath over? That they might again to their pleasures, or enjoyments! Nay, our People have been in more haste than so, they could not stay till the Sabbath was over, but must to their bargaining, their buying and selling. How frequent is this with many Shop-keepers in the City, when no necessity requires it? Well, if indeed you are so eagerly bent on your business, that you will not keep a Sabbath which God commands you, he’ll force you to another kind of Sabbath than this, which you shall have more reason to cry out, When will it be over? ...

For more, see Matthew Mead on the sin of profaning the Lord’s Day.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... No wonder Antinomians destroy the fourth Commandment, they destroy the other nine, and all the letter of the Bible, as fleshly, and a killing Letter. I believe the Lord’s day is moral and perpetually moral till Christ’s coming, from Gen. 2.2. Exod. 20.8. Deut. 5.12. Matth. 24.20. John 19.42. Luke 24.56. 1 Cor. 16.1. Acts 20.7. Rev. 1.10. Let Saltmarsh and Familists call for the book of sports on the Lord’s day: I knew never any truly Godly in either Kingdom despise the Lord’s day. ...

For more, see Samuel Rutherford: Antinomians reject the Lord’s Day Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Because all the ceremonial law was enjoined to the Jews only, and not to the Gentiles; but this commandment of the holy Sabbath, as matrimony, was instituted of God in the state of innocency, when there was but one state of all men, and therefore enjoined to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews. So that all magistrates and householders were commanded to constrain all strangers, as well as their own subjects and family, to observe the holy Sabbath (Isa. lvi. 6), as appears by the fourth commandment, and the practice of Nehemiah (Neh. xiii. 19, &c.) ...

For more, see Lewis Bayly on the Sabbath and the Gentiles.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... Now, God has commanded all men to remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy; no civil ruler, therefore, has the right to require his subjects to labour on that day, save in case of necessity. And since ”righteousness exalteth a nation,” it is the wisdom of civil rulers to protect the people, in the enjoyment of the divinely-appointed day for the cultivation of virtue. This is eminently true of a free government, since all such governments depend upon the moral forces. The Sabbath, then, originated in the moral necessities of nations, as well as of individuals and families. ...

For more, see Nathan L. Rice on the Sabbath and civil legislation.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... We should be careful that we don’t encroach upon the sabbath at its beginning by busying ourselves about the world after the sabbath is begun. We should avoid talking about worldly matters and thinking about them. For whether we are outwardly concerning ourselves with the world or no, yet if our minds are upon it, we frustrate the end of the sabbath. The design of its separation from other days was that our minds might be disengaged from worldly things, and we are to avoid being outwardly concerned with the world only for this reason, because that can’t be without taking up our minds.

We ought therefore to give the world no place in our thoughts on the sabbath, but to abstract ourselves from all worldly concernment and maintain a watch over ourselves that the world does not encroach, as it is very apt to do; Isaiah 58:13, “if thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.” ...

For more, see Jonathan Edwards and abstaining from worldly concerns on the Sabbath.
 
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