Reformed Covenanter blog posts on the Sabbath

Reformed Covenanter

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I can’t believe this thread has been going for two years now. I’ve benefitted from it very much over that time, too.

I was actually just about to comment that this thread has been going on for just over two years. How time flies! There are now over two hundred entries in the Sabbath related blog-category.

Reformed Covenanter

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from Patrick Fairbairn. As I said elsewhere, the writings of the Disruption Worthies and other early Free Churchmen are a spiritual goldmine, though one that we have often forgotten to utilise. Of course, there are many good writings hidden away in old periodicals and newspapers, which are easy to overlook. Anyway, Fairbairn has the following to say about the Fourth Commandment's place in the new covenant:

... In short, by the terms of the new covenant, the people of God were not to have the law of the Ten Commandments imposed on them as the way by which they were to attain life, but breathed into them as the form and pattern of life already received from above; they were to become the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, because the law, in all the requirements of which he had perfected himself, and therefore that also, unto which they should be ever growing up, who, through the Spirit, were to be in all things “made conformable to his image.”

But if this be true of the Ten Commandments as a whole, it must, of course, be true of each individual part—of the Fourth Commandment, as well as any of the rest. This, undoubtedly, was included as an essential part of the law or covenant, which was formerly written without, and set up before, the people of God; but is now written within, and infused with living power into the feelings and affections of their heart.

Hence the framers of the English Liturgy, with a right understanding of this truth, have added, after the reading of the Ten Commandments in the public service, the following prayer, which is just the words of this prophecy turned into a petition, “And have mercy upon us, and write all these laws in our hearts” ...

For more, see Patrick Fairbairn on the new covenant and the fourth commandment.

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Thomas Cartwright provides this Sabbath's post, which deals with the important subject of due preparation for the Lord's Day. While works of immediate necessity are permissible on the Sabbath, we may find that we would have fewer such works of necessity if we prepared more carefully:

Q. What is to be observed in the word, Remember?

A. That although all the Commandments are needful diligently to be remembered, yet this more specially.

Q. Why so?

A. First, because this Commandment hath least light of nature, to direct us to the observation of it.

Secondly, for that we are naturally most negligent in the observation of this, suffering our selves to be withdrawn by our worldly business, from God’s service upon the Lord’s day; and therefore such a special warning is needful to be added.

Q. What is it that we should here remember, for the better sanctifying of the Sabbath?

A. That we so compass all our business within the six working days, that our worldly affairs enter not, or encroach into the possession of the Lord’s day; not only willingly, but not so much as by any forgetfulness: as when (through want of foresight, or forecasting) the payment of money, due by obligation, or any such businesses that might be prevented, shall fall out on that day.

For the reference, see Thomas Cartwright on remembering the Sabbath day through preparation.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from A. A. Hodge:

Observe that the particular day of the week on which the Sabbath is to be kept, although fixed for revealed reasons by the will of God at the creation, never was, or could be, of the essence of the institution itself. The command to observe the Sabbath is essentially as moral and immutable as the commands to abstain from stealing, killing or adultery.

It has, like them, its ground in the universal and permanent constitution and relations of human nature. It was designed to meet the physical, moral, spiritual and social wants of men; to afford a suitable time for the public moral and religious instruction of the people and the public and private worship of God; and to afford a suitable period of rest from the wear and tear of secular labour.

It is therefore of the very essence of the institution that a certain proper proportion of time, regularly recurring and observed in common by the community of Christian people and of Christian nations, should be appointed and its observance rendered obligatory by divine authority. These essential elements are found unchanged under both dispensations.

For the reference, see A. A. Hodge on the Sabbath and human nature.

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This week's post from Amandus Polanus focuses on the differences between the Lord's Day and the Jewish Sabbath:

The Lord’s day is the first day of the week, wherein Christians do make solemn meetings to exercise the public worship of God. Act. 20.7. 1. Cor. 16.2. Revel. 1.10. But the Lord’s day is celebrated in stead of the sabbath for 3. causes, 1. that it might continually call to remembrance the benefit of the Lord’s resurrection. 2. That the believers might understand, that they are freed from the yoke of the Law. 3. That it might be a difference between us that are Christians, and the Jews, who as yet (but without cause) are addicted to the observation of the time.

For the reference, see Amandus Polanus on the Lord’s Day.

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The Sabbath-themed post for this week comes from one of Matthew Poole's continuators, John Collinges:

Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:2)

From hence both divers of the ancients, and very many late divines, argue for the change of the sabbath from the seventh day of the week to the first. It is plain from hence, that the gospel churches were wont to assemble upon that day; nor do we read in Scripture of any assembly of Christians for religious worship on any other day. On this day the apostle orders collections for the poor saints to be made, accordingly as God had prospered any in their employments; he directeth that they should every one lay by him something, not doing what he did with any ostentation, but having it ready when it should be called for: ...

For more, see John Collinges on the change of the Sabbath to the first day of the week.

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John Love supplies the post for this Lord's Day:

I hasten to mark out decisive proofs of this wide-wasting treason against the Majesty of the Holy Spirit of the living God.

Of these, the first and most prominent is —

Sabbath-breaking, or the prostitution of Sacred time. ...

We plead not for the formal austerities of hypocrisy; but we contend for it, and all the sophistry in the world cannot resist us, that to refuse a serious, diligent observation of the Christian Sabbath, with a view to the spiritual ends of its appointment, is to contemn those influences of the Eternal Spirit, which bring salvation, and heaven, into immortal souls. Every Sabbath-breaker is such a despiser; every act of Sabbath-breaking expresses such contempt. ...

For more, see John Love on Sabbath-breaking as treason against God’s majesty.

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The post for this Lord's Day comes from B. B. Warfield. It is a useful reminder that the rest of the Sabbath is not one of mere inactivity:

Obviously, the Sabbath, in our Lord’s view, was not a day of sheer idleness: inactivity was not its mark. Inactivity was not the mark of God’s Sabbath, when He rested from the works which He creatively made. Up to this very moment He has been working continuously; and, imitating Him, our Sabbath is also to be filled with work. God rested, not because He was weary, or needed an intermission in His labours; but because He had completed the task He had set for Himself (we speak as a man) and had completed it well: “And God finished His work which He had made”; “and God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good.” He was now ready to turn to other work. And we, like Him, are to do our appointed work—”Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work”—and then, laying it well aside, turn to another task. It is not work as such, but our own work, from which we are to cease on the Sabbath. ...

For more, see B. B. Warfield on the Sabbath as a day of rest for God’s work.

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In the post for this Lord's Day, the Scottish Seceder minister, William White reminds us that the Sabbath is a monument against atheism:

The Sabbath is a commemorative institution; designed to be a monument against Atheism, and to afford time for the creature to meditate on the works, and adore the character of the great Creator. How venerable is the Sabbath, considered simply as an institution that has existed since the dawn of time! How many convulsions has it survived! ...

The observance of Sabbath is not congenial to the natural feelings of the heart; much opposition has been made to it in the world; yet it has weathered all the storms and withstood all the changes of time. Is not its preservation then a proof that the Sabbath is divine? the gates of hell have not prevailed against it, because it was appointed by the wisdom, and is defended by the power of God. Such an institution demands our reverence, were it for nothing else than its age. Ye worshippers of antiquity! Ye fond adorers of the times and things of old! Behold in the Sabbath, an institution older than all the monuments of antiquity, at the sight of which, your eyes brighten and your hearts swell! Here is a relict of Paradise: on it, lavish a portion of your veneration, and for once you may be both rational and pious. ...

For more, see William White on the Sabbath as a monument against Atheism.

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The post for this Lord's Day comes from Archibald Alexander, wherein he corrects the popular notion that the Sabbath is abrogated in the New Testament age. (It is a very long post, so I am giving you a few paragraphs in the preview.):

... There is a text in Paul’s epistle to the Romans, which has been supposed to teach that it is a matter of indifference whether we observe the sabbath or not. — “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” But evidently, the question here discussed relates to the ceremonial law. It relates not to the sabbath; which, as we have seen, was no part of the ceremonial law, but belonged to the moral code. The ceremonial law was virtually abrogated by the death of Christ; but ah Christians were not yet enlightened to understand their Christian liberty; and such were indulged in their continued observance of these rites. The apostle is treating here of meats and drinks and festival days, the binding obligation of which had ceased.

But in the epistle to the Colossians, Paul says, “Let no man, therefore, judge you, in meat or drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or the sabbath days.” Here, again, the ceremonial law is obviously the subject of discourse. He is speaking of “meats,” “drinks,” “new moons,” and “sabbath days.” And the word sabbath relates to the numerous sabbaths of the ceremonial law, distinct from the weekly sabbath. Whenever a festival of the law continued eight days, the first and last were always kept as sabbaths. Or the reference might be to the sabbatical year, for the word days is not in the original. ...

So generally was the first day of the week observed, in commemoration of Christ’s resurrection, and for the celebration of religious worship, that in the times of the apostles, it had obtained the significant denomination of the Lord’s Day. That this appellation really was applied to the first day of the week by the apostle John, in the Apocalypse, is evident, because it can, with no appearance of reason, be applied to any other day; and also, because this became a common appellation of that day among Christians in all subsequent ages to this time, as appears by the testimony of Justin Martyr, and others. ...

For more, see Archibald Alexander: Is the Sabbath abrogated in the New Testament?