Reformed Covenanter blog posts on the Sabbath

RWD

Puritan Board Sophomore
I intentionally make an effort to publish one blog post each Lord's Day on the Sabbath. Today's offering comes from J. C. Ryle on over-busyness, personal religion, and the Sabbath.

These posts are collected together into a category on the Sabbath, though I need to update the earlier posts (Wordpress now allows you to justify the margins, which makes for ease of reading).
That’s a great service you’re providing.

This quote from Rice is a gem:

The fact that God made it a civil institution, indicates clearly the duty of all civil legislators, unless it can be shown that the reasons why the Jewish nation should have a Sabbath, do not apply to other nations. But as individuals and families have their respective accountability to God, so do nations. And as the civil ruler is “a minister of God,” he must make his legislation conform to God’s legislation. …
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... It is altogether erroneous to ascribe to the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment a character of gloom and harshness and severity, utterly uncongenial to the free and joyous spirit of Christianity, and to suppose that we cannot submit to its authority or attempt to obey it without involving ourselves in degrading bondage. Such seems to be the notion entertained by many, and which lies at the root of their ill-disguised or undisguised aversion to this precept of the Decalogue. It is taken for granted that if we consider ourselves bound by the Fourth Commandment, to be consistent, we must be out-and-out Pharisees. ...

For more, see William Symington II: Against Pharisaic Sabbath observance.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
... It is altogether erroneous to ascribe to the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment a character of gloom and harshness and severity, utterly uncongenial to the free and joyous spirit of Christianity, and to suppose that we cannot submit to its authority or attempt to obey it without involving ourselves in degrading bondage. Such seems to be the notion entertained by many, and which lies at the root of their ill-disguised or undisguised aversion to this precept of the Decalogue. It is taken for granted that if we consider ourselves bound by the Fourth Commandment, to be consistent, we must be out-and-out Pharisees. ...

For more, see William Symington II: Against Pharisaic Sabbath observance.
Daniel, the fuller excerpt from your link in this quote only adds to the edification of the above few lines. I hear this objection raised often in my circles. Have you read much of Symington? I only ask because ironically I was looking at an RHB deal for his full works 2 days ago, but I have not read much of him personally.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
... It is altogether erroneous to ascribe to the Sabbath of the Fourth Commandment a character of gloom and harshness and severity, utterly uncongenial to the free and joyous spirit of Christianity, and to suppose that we cannot submit to its authority or attempt to obey it without involving ourselves in degrading bondage. Such seems to be the notion entertained by many, and which lies at the root of their ill-disguised or undisguised aversion to this precept of the Decalogue. It is taken for granted that if we consider ourselves bound by the Fourth Commandment, to be consistent, we must be out-and-out Pharisees. ...

For more, see William Symington II: Against Pharisaic Sabbath observance.
Stealing this for a NP meme. As bad as this objection is, far worse to give any reason to any to think it.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Daniel, the fuller excerpt from your link in this quote only adds to the edification of the above few lines. I hear this objection raised often in my circles. Have you read much of Symington? I only ask because ironically I was looking at an RHB deal for his full works 2 days ago, but I have not read much of him personally.
Grant, this William Symington is actually the son of the author of Messiah the Prince and The Atonement and Intercession of Christ. His chapter on the Sabbath in the collection from which this source is cited is the only thing that I have read by the younger Symington.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Stealing this for a NP meme. As bad as this objection is, far worse to give any reason to any to think it.
You are seizing the memes of production. :)

Seriously, though, those of us who wish to uphold the fourth commandment do need to be careful that we are not lending weight to this objection. While Judaical Sabbatarianism is not the biggest problem today, it still raises its head from time to time.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
You are seizing the memes of production. :)

Seriously, though, those of us who wish to uphold the fourth commandment do need to be careful that we are not lending weight to this objection. While Judaical Sabbatarianism is not the biggest problem today, it still raises its head from time to time.
I'll give you credit and share the royalties 50/50. ;) Agreed that it is a minority problem, even among the defenders where I think because we have lost any cultural remembrance of the observance the violations may be downplayed and activities broadened to be anything that can be remotely classed as 'Sunday activity' albeit it may amount to something like changing the names of the squares in Monopoly to bible locations, etc. But the other extreme will be among the defenders of it, maybe who have held on to it faithfully through the long decline from any cultural deference, who object to such and such thing, and neglecting that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.
 

W.C. Dean

Puritan Board Freshman
Grant, this William Symington is actually the son of the author of Messiah the Prince and The Atonement and Intercession of Christ. His chapter on the Sabbath in the collection from which this source is cited is the only thing that I have read by the younger Symington.
Daniel, where can I find this work from William Symington the younger, and other works of his? I really enjoyed the portion and would love to have more of it.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Daniel, where can I find this work from William Symington the younger, and other works of his? I really enjoyed the portion and would love to have more of it.
It is available on archive.org. I am not sure about other works of the younger William Symington, as this lecture is all that I have read by him. I will have a look and see what is available.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Q. 37. Why is mention here made of all within our gates?

A. To show that this commandment is not only directed to private persons, but to magistrates, and masters of families as such, who, though they cannot compel men to believe, they may restrain them from violating the rest of the sabbath, and compel them to such external worship of God as all men are immediately obliged to; even all within the gates of their cities or houses.

For the reference, see Richard Baxter on the Sabbath command directed to magistrates and heads of families.
 

G

Puritan Board Senior
Q. 37. Why is mention here made of all within our gates?

A. To show that this commandment is not only directed to private persons, but to magistrates, and masters of families as such, who, though they cannot compel men to believe, they may restrain them from violating the rest of the sabbath, and compel them to such external worship of God as all men are immediately obliged to; even all within the gates of their cities or houses.

For the reference, see Richard Baxter on the Sabbath command directed to magistrates and heads of families.
Excellent! I have never thought about that phrase in Exodus in great detail. The phrase being included would seem to serve as a refutation of those who claim the magistrate has no duty to see the 4th commandment upheld within their gate.

If a Mayor, Governor, or President is bound to the moral law of God, then what does “within their gate” entail? (rhetorical):detective:
 
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Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This week's post for the Lord's Day is a little different than usual. I found this letter from Patrick Fairbairn to Amos A. Phelps in a manuscript collection housed in the Boston Public Library:

I take the opportunity of Dr. [William] Cunningham’s going to America, to send to your care, and for your distribution, a few copies of a pamphlet I published last-year on a particular branch of the Sabbath controversy. I meant to have requested your acceptance of them, when you were here, but I did not see you again, as I expected, at the Assembly of the Free Church.

If you think the argument maintained in it sound (as I of course do) and conceive it would be of importance to have the whole or any party of it re-published in any of your periodicals, or publications connected with the Sabbath, or religion generally, you will only promote the object I had in view, by your sending a copy of it, with my respects, to the Editor of the Biblical Repository [John Holmes Agnew], which I have for some years been in the habit of reading.

It would give me a great pleasure to hear from you personally at any time, or from any member of your Society, regarding the state and progress of the Sabbath cause in the States.

For the reference, see Patrick Fairbairn’s letter on the progress of the Sabbath cause in the United States.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... The Law is threefold; Ceremonial, Judicial, and Moral, as hath been said: now that place is principally to be understood of the Ceremonial law, which indeed is abrogated, in regard of the observation of it in God’s worship; but in the scope and substance of it, which is Christ crucified, with his benefits, whom it shadowed out, it remaineth still, and is now more plain then ever it was.

As for the Judicial law, though it be abrogated unto us, so far forth as it was peculiar to the Jews; yet, as it agrees with common equity, and serves directly to establish the precepts of the Moral law, it is perpetual. If it be said, that Christ changed the Moral law, in changing the Sabbath day, from the seventh day to the eight: I answer, Christ did so indeed by his Apostles, but that is no change of the substance, but of the ceremony of the Sabbath: for the substance of that law is, the enjoining of a seventh day's rest unto the Lord. Now though the seventh day from the creation be not kept, yet a seventh day is kept still.

For more, see William Perkins on the perpetuity of the moral law and the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Gardiner Spring makes his blog debut with the following post:

When I consider the original institution of the Sabbath, of which we have so explicit an account at the close of the Mosaic narrative of the creation; when I find the observance of this day enjoined in one of the precepts of the moral law; when I find, throughout the Psalms and the Prophets, this solemn injunction implicitly repeated; when I hear our blessed Lord expressly speaking of the existence of this day after the abolition of the Jewish economy; when I hear the apostle John, long after our Lord’s resurrection and ascension into heaven, speaking with peculiar emphasis, of a particular day as the Lord’s Day; when I find the apostles by their example setting apart one day in seven for religious purposes; when I can trace the existence and observance of Sabbatical Institutions from the creation down to the present hour; and when to these considerations, I add the natural fitness and propriety of such a day, and consider how indispensable it is to the existence of religion among men: I am compelled to believe that the Sabbath is of Divine origin and perpetual obligation. ...

For the reference, see Gardiner Spring on the divine origin and obligation of the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Lord's Day again comes from the Disruption Worthy, Robert Gordon:

... It is thus, I conceive, that the ultimate design of the Sabbath was fully explained only by the resurrection of Christ. It was undoubtedly a glorious purpose which it served, even under the old economy, as a permanent commemoration of the power, and wisdom, and beneficence, of God in the creation of the world. But it was destined to commemorate a more glorious creation still, even the accomplishment of that mighty undertaking whereby Christ redeemed his Church.

And if such be the grand subjects which the return of the Lord’s Day is intended to present to our devout meditation; if it represents to us the Redeemer as now entered on his rest, seeing of the travail of his soul, and being therewith satisfied; and if, moreover, it is an emblem, and a pledge, and the means also of giving us a foretaste of that “rest which remaineth for the people of God;” then have we not still more powerful motives than the Old Testament Church had, and are we not under a still stronger obligation than they were, to esteem this day “a delight, holy of the Lord, and honourable,”—devoting it to his honour and service,—seeking to hold closer fellowship with him than it is possible to do amidst the ordinary avocations of life,” — “not doing thereon our own ways, not finding our own pleasure, nor speaking our own words?” ...

For more, see Robert Gordon on the completion of Christ’s redemptive work and the ultimate design of the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... The duty of setting apart some portion or other of our time to the worship of God, is a duty founded in the relation of a creature to his Creator, as much as the obligation of worship itself, and not to be set aside or changed any more than you could set aside or change that relation. The duty, on the other hand, of setting apart a seventh and not a sixth portion of the week, and fixing its return on the first or last day of the seven, rather than any other, is an appointment of a positive kind, determined by God on good and sufficient principles connected with the circumstances of man, but yet principles which, in so far as we know, might in other circumstances have led to another determination.

In so far as it is a moral duty, founded on the very nature of man as God’s creature, and demanding some proportion of his time to be employed in worship, it could not be altered. In so far as it is a positive duty, founded in the circumstances of man, and demanding the seventh portion of the week, and the first or last day of it to be so employed, it might, in so far as we can understand, have been different from what it is. ...

For more, see James Bannerman on the Sabbath as a natural and positive institution.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from someone whom I have not previously cited on the blog:

... Many and ingenious, but wicked are the pleas urged by men for disregarding the fourth commandment when on a journey; but they are “refuges of lies,” which will be swept away the moment man appears in the presence of God.

This is a great sin in our nation. Its influence is vastly mischievous. The traveller is seen by many, and sins openly. He requires the services of those who conduct the public conveyances; or, if travelling privately, he at least demands the services of keepers of public or private houses. The whole moral law, including the fourth commandment, was given from Sinai to a whole nation on a journey. ...

For more, see William Swan Plumer on the Sabbath and travel.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Lord's Day comes from another writer from the era of the Scottish Disruption and who was also a noted missionary:

In these days of ultra-liberalism in religious, as well as in political matters, it is incumbent on everyone to bestir himself. Our fathers respected the Sabbath; and throughout the length and breadth of our beloved land, the poorest man would have shrunk from the idea of breaking the sanctity of the day of rest by engaging in worldly pursuits; and to their perseverance in such a good course we owe the high name which the religious training of their families, and their own high Christian beating in every station of life, earned for our country.

Let not their children forget this; and, above all things, let them remember that these men had a reverence for the Sabbath such as that divine institution should awaken in every Christian heart. Let us be jealous, then, of any encroachment on the sanctity of that day; and if we will not strive to be better men than those who have gone before us, above all things, let us not earn for ourselves the foul imputation of having turned from the good old paths, and brought a stain on the memory of our fathers, who read their Bible with profit, and who would have resisted to the death any encroachment on the momentous duties of the Sabbath, which their heavenly Father himself told them to “keep holy.”

For the reference, see Charles Moir on guarding the Sabbath.
 
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