Reformed Covenanter blog posts on the Sabbath

Reformed Covenanter

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... The sanctification of the Sabbath day is the appointing of an holy day to the public worship of God: or else it is to bestow a day in holy works and exercises. There are four parts of the sanctification of the Sabbath the handling of God’s word, the using of the Sacraments public calling on God by prayer, and the exercising of the works of mercy. ...

For more, see Amandus Polanus on the fourth commandment.
 

Reformed Covenanter

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The post for this Lord's Day is a lengthy one from Benjamin Morgan Palmer. It touches on a point that fewer and fewer Christians seem to understand these days, namely, that the Christian life involves making costly sacrifices:

... All kinds of business lie under peculiar disadvantages, of one kind or another, which are taken into account in estimating the value of their productions. If a Christian man, labouring productively five-sixths of his time, cannot compete with those who labour seven-sixths, there is perhaps no alternative but to exchange his calling for another, in which he may have less profits, and a sounder conscience. In other words, we uncover an important distinction, that to make out a sacrifice is not to prove a necessity.

We greatly fear that a large proportion of Sabbath breaking, especially on the part of professing Christians, is traceable to the neglect of this distinction. A man, for instance, is unexpectedly delayed upon a journey, perhaps almost within sight of his home—to tarry by the way will involve much inconvenience and discomfort, and perhaps pecuniary risk or loss—then add the anxieties he may feel about wife and children, and he is at once flattered into the belief of a stringent necessity upon him to violate God’s law.

Beloved brethren! How often must it be repeated, that a Christian profession, from first to last, involves sacrifices frequent and severe! Whoever assumes it, does in act and in form place himself on God’s altar, a whole burnt-offering. He is “bought with a price” and the vow is taken with awful solemnity, as in the court of Heaven to “glorify God in his body and his spirit, which are God’s.” And surely we are inattentive observers of Divine Providence, if we do not discover many circumstances in our life ordered expressly to test the sincerity and value of this profession. ...

For more, see Benjamin Morgan Palmer on the Sabbath, industrialisation, and making sacrifices.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
Alas, even sabbath-time, the purest, the most refined part of time, a creation out of a creation, time consecrated by Divine sanction, how cheap and common is it in most men’s eyes, while many do sin away, and the most do idle away those hallowed hours!

Seneca was wont to jeer the Jews for their ill husbandry, in that they lost one day in seven, meaning their sabbath: truly it is too true of the most of christians, they lose one day in seven, whatever else; the sabbath for the most part is but a lost day; while some spend it totally upon their lusts, and the most, I had almost said the best, do fill up the void spaces and intervals of the sabbath from public worship, with idleness and vanity! ...

For the reference, see Thomas Case on the sin of idling away the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
This is the divine command—a command that occupies one-tenth part of the moral law, that was written by God’s own finger on tables of stone, and, by his Almighty voice, sounded out from Sinai, that it might pour its obligations upon every ear, through every age of time. Beware, also, how you make this day a day of pleasure and amusement. The common sense of every man must teach him that the Sabbath was instituted for a higher purpose. ...

For more, see Gardiner Spring: The Sabbath is not merely a day of relaxation.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Sabbath comes from the seventeenth-century English theologian, Edward Leigh:

Now having expounded the words of the Commandment, let us come briefly to handle the question, Whether this Commandment be perpetual, binding all men in all ages, or whether temporary binding only the men which lived before the resurrection of Christ, and no further? It is manifest that the Laws given in the old Testament are to be distinguished in regard of their continuance into these two kinds. For the will of the Law-giver (from which the force, extent, and continuance of the Law hath its original) was that some of them should be observed but till the resurrection of Christ and no longer, and again that some should continue in force from the time of their making to the world’s end.

Now concerning this fourth Commandment, it is apparent that the Law-giver did intend that it should bind all men for ever from the time that he gave it. For how could he declare his mind in this behalf more plainly then by equalling it in all things with those precepts which are known to be of everlasting continuance, and by separating it from, and exalting it above all those other which are known to have been but Temporary. It was promulgated in the same majestic manner with the same voice, at the same time, and in the same place that the other nine. It was delivered to the same person to be laid up together in the same Ark, and so is a part of the same Covenant, whence those Tables are called the Tables of the Covenant, and that Ark the Ark of the Covenant. ...

For more, see Edward Leigh on the perpetual obligation of the fourth commandment.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
... The text [Luke 2:27] also discovers to us the time when the Sabbath was appointed. It was made for man, not for any particular nation, age, or dispensation, but for the whole race. The word man is generic, and can mean nothing less than the human race. But if the Sabbath was made for the race, its appointment must have been coeval with the creation of man. The Scriptures afford ample evidence that this is true.

First. It is confirmed by the obvious meaning of the inspired narrative: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his works which God created and made.” To bless and sanctify a day, can mean nothing but to set it apart for religious services, and to make it a day of special blessing to those who rightly observe it. ...

For more, see Nathan L. Rice on the origin of the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

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Thomas Charles' Spiritual Counsels is a book that is easily overlooked, but it really ought not to be (Banner of Truth republished the below cited work under this title). This extract reminds us of the importance of the Sabbath and its spiritual significance:

... It commemorates the accomplishment of that stupendous work which brings deliverance to guilty sinners, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. It is an emblem of that rest which sinners find in Christ for their weary souls, in consequence of his having finished the glorious work he had undertaken. This is also a pledge of that rest that yet remaineth for the people of God. As sure as we are now enjoying the one, we shall soon enjoy the other, if indeed we are pilgrims and sojourners here on earth.

The Jewish sabbath, being the seventh day, was to them a commemoration of their glorious deliverance from their Egyptian bondage, a sign between God and them, and a pledge of the promised inheritance. It looked backward and forward, it reminded them of their slavery and deliverance from it, whilst by faith they were looking forward to the land of promise, where they should rest from their wanderings in a barren and dangerous wilderness. Our Sabbath also speaks the same language, – it reminds us of a bondage infinitely dreadful, and of a deliverance infinitely complete and glorious, and also of a rest eternal in the heavens. ...

For more, see Thomas Charles: our Sabbath rest in Christ.
 

Reformed Covenanter

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The post for this Lord's Day is a bit of an unusual one from Jonathan Edwards. People often object to first-day Sabbath observance on the basis that there is not an express command for such in scripture. Edwards, however, argues that God may reveal a command either through an express statement or via logical deductions from scripture. When #FourthCommandmentDeniers make this objection, it reminds me of C. S. Lewis's comment that God is no more fond of an intellectual slacker than any other slacker. Anyway, here is Edwards:

The human understanding is the ear to which the Word of God speaks, and if it be but so spoken as that that ear may plainly hear it, it is enough. God is sovereign as to the manner of revealing his mind, whether he will reveal it by saying it in express terms or whether we can perceive it by laying several things that he has said together. If his mind be but revealed, it is sufficient for us if there be but sufficient means for the communication of his mind to our minds, whether we hear so many express words with our ears or see them with our eyes or see by the eye of reason and understanding the thing that he would signify to us.

Who can say that if that had been the mind of God that we should keep the first day of the week, he would have commanded it in express terms, as he did the keeping the seventh day of old? Indeed, if God had so made our faculties that we were not capable of receiving a revelation of God’s mind in any other way, then there would be some reason to say so. But God has given such understanding that we are capable of receiving a revelation when made in another manner. And if God deals with [us] agreeably to our natures and in a way proportionable to our capacities, it is enough. ...

For more, see Jonathan Edwards on the first-day Sabbath and rational deductions from scripture.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
It is a fact now distinctly recognized by the Christian world, that God did cease from the work of creation at the close of the sixth day, and did thus consecrate the seventh as a holy rest to man. Even the light labours of Paradise, which never brought fatigue, were, on this day, remitted; and man’s constant worship became more emphatic and devout as, on this day, he contemplated the glory of the Creator in the glory of His works.

It is equally unnecessary to array the physiological proof, that a weekly vacation from toil is required to repair the energies both of man and beast. To the sceptical it must suffice here to say, that a large induction of particular facts has fully established the natural law, that the sons of toil, in addition to the hours of repose which night affords, need the supplemental rest of a weekly Sabbath. ...

For more, see Benjamin Morgan Palmer on the Sabbath and rest from toil.
 

Reformed Covenanter

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I have been reading Thomas Cartwright a bit of late, so, unsurprisingly, the post for this Lord's Day comes from him:

... Q. What need is there of one whole day in a week, to serve God in, seeing we may serve him every day?

A. To the end, that we should not plunge our selves so deeply into the affairs of the world, as that we should not recover our selves; the wisdom of God hath thought it good, that one day in seven, there should be an intermission from them; that we might wholly separate our selves to the service of God, and with the more freedom of spirit perform the same.

Secondly, for that a whole day is needful, for the performance of all the parts of God’s worship; as hearing of public Prayer, and the Word preached, Catechizing, administration of the Sacraments, exercise of holy Discipline, & consideration of the glory of God in the creatures. Thirdly, If Adam in his perfection had need of this help, much more have we, who are so grievously corrupted. ...

For more, see Thomas Cartwright on the need for the Sabbath day.
 

Reformed Covenanter

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Commenting on John 9:13ff, J. C. Ryle reminded his readers of the true manner of keeping the Christian Sabbath in opposition to Judaical Sabbatarianism:

... Here, as in other places, we must take care that we do not put a wrong meaning on our Lord’s conduct. We must not for a moment suppose that the Sabbath is no longer binding on Christians, and that they have nothing to do with the Fourth Commandment. This is a great mistake, and the root of great evil. Not one of the ten commandments has ever been repealed or put aside. Our Lord never meant the Sabbath to become a day of pleasure, or a day of business, or a day of traveling and idle dissipation. He meant it to be “kept holy” as long as the world stands.

It is one thing to employ the Sabbath in works of mercy, in ministering to the sick, and doing good to the distressed. It is quite another thing to spend the day in visiting, feasting, and self-indulgence. Whatever men may please to say, the way in which we use the Sabbath a sure test of the state of our religion. By the Sabbath may be found out whether we love communion with God. By the Sabbath may be found out whether we are in tune for heaven. By the Sabbath, in short, the secrets of many hearts are revealed. There are only too many of whom we may say with sorrow, “These men are not of God, because they keep not the Sabbath day.” ...

For more, see J. C. Ryle on the true manner of keeping the Sabbath.
 

Reformed Covenanter

Puritanboard Commissioner
The post for this Lord's Day comes from James Walker of the Free Church of Scotland wherein he commends the Sabbath as it was observed in Scotland, though we some warnings against potential pitfalls. These warnings are necessary because such is our corruption that we can abuse God's good gifts (including the Sabbath) for our own wicked ends:

... And, for my part, I do not comprehend how any person with religious feelings and sympathies should not be ready to admit that at least there is something very grand about the Scottish Sabbath, in its idea of a day of communion with the Unseen and Eternal; of adoration of our Maker and our Saviour; of self-examination and moral exercise; of acquisition of religious knowledge; and all this in order to the spiritual elevation of the soul, the replenishing of our moral energies, and a closer hold of the verities which have a place in our creed.

Of course, Scotch religion has had its formalism; and that formalism very naturally connects itself with the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the thing among us in which the Pharisaic tendency and conscience find readiest exercise. It is our chief opportunity for religious display. And no doubt we have had our share of the miserable thing. Nor do I hold myself obliged to defend all the minutiae of Sabbatic observance which you may find in presbytery records, or of which people may have heard stray reports. ...

For more, see James Walker on the Scottish Sabbath.
 
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