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?
 

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The post for this Sabbath comes from the New England theologian, Jonathan Edwards:

Now concerning the collection for the saints, upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God has prospered him. 1 Corinthians 16:1–2. ...

2. We may observe the time in which the Apostle directed that this should be done, viz. on the first day of the week. The Apostle by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost insists upon it, that it be done on such a particular day of the week, as if no other day would do so well as that or were proper and fit a time for such work. Thus, although the inspired Apostle was not for making that distinction of days in gospel times as the Jews did—Galatians 4:10–11, “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you my labour in vain”—yet here the Apostle gives the preference to one day of the week before any other for the performance of a certain great duty of Christianity. ...

For more, see Jonathan Edwards on the Apostolic observance of the first day of the week.
 

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The post for this Lord's Day comes from William Swan Plumer. How many of us have seriously reflected on the fact that the weekly Sabbath takes up one-seventh of our time on this earth? Surely God must consider it an important issue if he meant us to spend one-seventh of our lives observing his day as holy.

... Here is a law claiming to regulate a seventh portion of human life. If a man lives twenty-one years, this law claims the entire control of three of them; if he lives fifty years, it disposes of more than seven of them. It is therefore important. But it also devotes this portion of time to religious purposes; and these are the highest ends of life. All other time is secular. This is holy. That may be occupied with things which perish in the using. This must be given to things which take hold on eternity. ...

For more, see William Swan Plumer on the significance of the Sabbath to man’s life.
 
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The post for this Sabbath comes from Robert Murray M'Cheyne:

... This is the reason why we love it, and would keep it entire. We love everything that is Christ’s. We love His word. It is better to us than thousands of gold and silver. “O how we love His law! it is our study all the day.” We love His house. It is our trysting-place with Christ, where He meets with us and communes with us from off the mercy-seat. We love His table. It is His banqueting-house, where His banner over us is love-where He looses our bonds, and anoints our eyes, and makes our hearts burn with holy joy. We love His people, because they are His, members of His body, washed in His blood, filled with His Spirit, our brothers and sisters for eternity. And we love the Lord’s day, because it is His. Every hour of it is dear to us-sweeter than honey, more precious than gold. It is the day He rose for our justification. It reminds us of His love, and His finished work, and His rest. And we may boldly say that that man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ who does not love the entire Lord’s day. ...

For more, see Robert Murray M'Cheyne on loving the Lord’s Day because it is the Lord’s Day.

N.B. @NaphtaliPress we are having the usual problem with the link whenever I post anything by M'Cheyne. (FIXED--NP.).
 
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Reformed Covenanter

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The post for this Lord's Day comes from B. B. Warfield:

... It is not less the duty of all men to do no murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, not to bear false witness, not to covet a neighbour’s possession, that the Israelite too is commanded not to do these things, and is urged to withhold himself from them by the moving plea that he owes a peculiar obedience to a God who has dealt with him with distinguishing grace.

And it is not less the duty of all men to worship none but the one true God, and Him only with spiritual worship; not to profane His name nor to withhold from Him the time necessary for His service, or refuse to reverence Him in his representatives, that these duties are impressed especially on the heart of the Israelite by the great plea that this God has shown Himself in a peculiar manner his God. The presence of the Sabbath commandment in the midst of this series of fundamental human duties, singled out to form the compact core of the positive morality divinely required of God’s peculiar people, is rather its commendation to all peoples of all times as an essential element in primary human good conduct. ...

For more, see B. B. Warfield on the Sabbath and the ten commandments.
 

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In this week's post for the Lord's Day, Gardiner Spring comments on the link between Sabbath profanation and the rise of infidelity:

France, in the age of her great moral, as well as political revolution, abolished the Sabbath, and with it abolished her religion, declared that there was no God but reason, and no hereafter except the grave. The same result will follow the same premises, wherever the experiment shall be made. The nation that disowns the Sabbath, is, necessarily, a nation of infidels and atheists. You may look where you will, either among individuals, families, or communities, and if the Sabbath is a desolation, there you will find a gradual and certain decay from true religion to infidelity and paganism.

Let the Sabbath be forgotten for half a century in our own favoured land, and in vain might you look for a single Christian temple throughout this western hemisphere. There are towns and villages on this continent, where, for half a century, the Sabbath has been neglected and despised; and, if you will visit them, you will see that you have no necessity of going to India, or the Southern Ocean, to find immortal beings who are ignorant of their immortality, and men who must soon appear before God in judgment, who have seldom heard of God and his Christ. There is just as much importance, therefore, attached to the observance of the Sabbath, as there is to the preservation of the true religion among men.

For the reference, see Gardiner Spring on infidelity and contempt for the Sabbath.
 

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This week's post for the Sabbath comes from Patrick Fairbairn:

... As the covenant through which life was to be attained, they are all abolished; because the covenant has been fulfilled by the obedience and death of Jesus, and eternal life is brought in as God’s free gift in him. In that respect, therefore, the believer has nothing to do with the law, nor the law with him. But have we, then, no concern with the law? Unquestionably we have. We have to do with it in a most important respect, and with every part of it alike; for, being the expression of God’s holiness, it must ever be the rule and pattern of man’s obedience. ...

So that, whatever truth there is in the pattern shown to Moses as a representation of spiritual things under the Gospel, it proclaims the perpetual obligation of the Fourth, as well as of the other nine Commandments; we have no more ground for considering the law of the Sabbath, than for considering the law of chastity, abolished; not one of the Ten is either cancelled or relaxed, but they continue all as before, though in another relation, binding upon the consciences of God’s people. ...

For more, see Patrick Fairbairn: The Sabbath is no more abolished than the other nine commandments.
 

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A preview of a lengthy extract from Hugh Martin can never really do him justice, so it is worth reading the whole post if you get the time. Anyway, here is an extract from his post for this Lord's Day:

... As Son of Man he acquired a lordship over the Sabbath; and while this enhances his people’s safety here and glory hereafter, it awfully provides for the condemnation of his impenitent foes. And how terribly, and we might say, how easily, will he draw from it this most awful consequent. “All authority will be given to him to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man;” and he will not forget, as an instrument in his judgments, the very Sabbath over which, for this same reason also – namely, that he is the Son of Man – he obtained this mysterious lordship. He will draw it forth from the elements of a forgotten history. The Sabbath, at the command of Christ, and reverencing the lordship which the Son of Man claims over it, will stand forth as accuser of his enemies. ...

For more, see Hugh Martin on the implications of Christ’s Lordship over the Sabbath for the impenitent.
 

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from William White, which focuses on the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. He also makes a brief comment regarding the judicial law that may be of interest to you:

... First, though the change of Sabbath, from the seventh to the first day of the week, took place at the time when the Jewish economy ended, it should be distinctly understood, that it did not flow as a necessary consequence from that event; – when the Jewish economy ceased, it only abolished the ceremonial law, and such things in the judicial law as were in no degree dictated by the light of nature. That event, therefore, could not of itself alter either the proportion of time set apart for the divine service, or the particular day so set apart, because these were appointed long before either the judicial, or ceremonial law.

Secondly, It should also be borne in mind, that God only could authorise any change about the Sabbath. No man on earth,—and no class of men, have, had, or ever can have, a right to annul what God has enacted. Since, therefore, the Sabbath was once upon the seventh day of the week, and was so by divine appointment, we must have some authority from God, distinct from the abrogation of the Jewish economy, for changing it to the first day of the week, before we are warranted to acquiesce in such an alteration. ...

For more, see William White on the alteration of the Sabbath to the first day of the week.
 

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John Ball provides us with this week's post for the Lord's Day:

... Q. What is the general duty here required?

A. That the whole Sabbath or Lord’s day be set apart from all common use, as holy to the Lord, both publicly and privately in the practise of the duties of necessity, holiness, and mercy.

Expos. 11. In this commandment it is enjoined, that we finish all our worldly business in six days, Deu. 5. 13. and that we rise betimes in the morning upon the Sabbath, Mark. 1. 35. compared with ver. 38. 39. Exod. 32. 5, 6. Psal. 92. 2. and prepare our selves for the public congregation, by prayer, meditation, thanksgiving, and examination of our hearts, Eccles. 4. 17. Psal. 93. 5. 2. Tim. 2. 19. going about the works of mercy, and instant necessity with heavenly minds, Matth. 12. 1. &c. Luk. 13. 15.

It is also required that we join with the people of God in the public congregation, hearing the word read and preached, calling upon God’s name, receiving the Sacraments, praising God for his mercies, singing of Psalms, 2. King. 4. 23. Act. 13. 14, 15. 44. and 15. 21. and 16. 13. and 17. 2. and 20. 7. In which exercises we must be all the while attentive, Act. 16. 14. reverent, Esa. 66. 2. & eager to get good, Psa. 42. 1, 2. not departing till the blessing bee pronounced, Ezec. 46. 1, 2. 10. Act. 10. 33. 1. Cor. 14. 16. After the whole day is to be spent with delight, and cheerfulness in religious meditation, reading and conference, and the works of necessity and mercy, Esa. 58. 13. 14. Act. 17. 11. Psal. 1. 2. Luk. 24. 14. 17. 1. Cor. 16. 2. ...

For more, see John Ball on the sins and duties of the fourth commandment.
 

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The post for this Lord's Day from Edward Leigh reminds us that our Sabbath observance is, no matter how sincere, still highly deficient:

... We must not only keep the Sabbath in the Church-meetings and solemn Assemblies (though it be specially appointed for the public worship) but at home in our houses, Levit. 23. 3. We must awake with God in the morning, begin with him, rise early, spend not much time in dressing of our selves that day, it is the Sabbath of the Lord, have holy thoughts while we are dressing our selves, pray to the Lord to pardon all our sins, and to put us into a holy frame, and yet finish all this so soon that we may be with the first in the public Assembly.

We may after the first Sermon eat and drink, but for spiritual ends and purposes, that our bodies being refreshed we may be the fitter to serve God, but must take heed of spending too much time, or feeding too liberally, which may cause drowsiness. We must then season all with heavenly discourse, Luke 4. from v. 1. to 25. We must not speak our own words. After the public worship is ended we must call our Families together and repeat what we have heard, and catechize them in the principles of Religion, Heb. 2. 1, 3. the fourth Commandment, sing Psalms and pray. At night we should bless God for the mercies of the day, lie down with a great deal of soul-refreshment, sleeping in the bosom of Jesus Christ. ...

For more, see Edward Leigh on the private exercises of religion for the Sabbath.
 

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from Gervase Babington. It is actually more about Bible study than the Sabbath, but the two topics are obviously interlinked:

For this Book passeth All Books that ever were or shall be, I mean, the Book of God’s holy Bible: which Book, saith Hierome, shall remain with us till we be as the Angels in Heaven. Go we forward, and consider how also to this Book he hath added Prophets, Apostles, Evangelists, Pastors, and Doctors in all times, to open and expound the same unto us, that by all means we might be induced with light, love light, live in light, and die in light.

Add again the appointing of the Sabaoth day, wherein men should rest from their labours, and hearken to this Book together with the many precepts given to hear, to read, to search, to know, and understand, & not to be as children, perceiving nothing. Think with your self often, how the little Infant groweth to strength, able to go by it self: is it not by sucking and plucking his Mother’s breasts? even so doth the Childe of God grow to strength of grace, and from grace to grace, by hanging continually upon these two Breasts, the old and new Testament.

For the reference, see Gervase Babington on the Bible and the Sabbath.
 
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