Reformed Covenanter blog posts on the Sabbath

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Today's post for the Sabbath is by the Continental Reformed divine Andreas Hyperius (though sometimes he is identified as a Lutheran). While we disagree with him on festival days outside of the Christian Sabbath, he still has much to tell us about how we ought to keep the Lord's Day holy:

... ¶ Scrivener or Notary. Whether he have indited, drawn, or written, or caused to be indited, drawn, or written any bills, bonds, or other writings whatsoever, on the Sabbath days.

Whether he have made any such, whereby Religion or the dignity of the Church, might any way be impaired and diminished.

Taverner. Whether on the Sabbath days, and especially in the time of divine service, he have suffered any disorder in drinking and tippling within his house: and whether he hath made a common practise or custom at such times and on such days, to sell his wines, &c.

Merchant. Whether on the Sabbath day he hath bartered & bargained, cast up his reckonings, and written his accounts.

Chapman. Whether on such days & times, he hath set open his shop, or set his wares to sale.

Stage-player. Whether by his Interludes & Stage-plays, he have drawn the people away from spiritual exercises, and godly meditations.

Musician & Minstrel. Whether he have been the author and occasioner, of wanton dancing, or other unseemly pastimes.

Crafts-men of any trade whatsoever. Whether they have wrought on the Sabbath and holy days, when no necessity enforced them, but only for lucre sake: or whether they have caused their apprentices and servants the same days to work, without either going to church or giving themselves to godly meditations: as the Taylor or Butcher to sow a garment: the husbandman to hedge, ditch, plow, garden, cleanse his Stable, &c. whereas at these times these things, and so of others might & ought to be forborne.

Whether any person whosoever he be, have enticed and procured others to any vain games, unlawful sports, or other light and lewd exercises, as dice-playing and such like.

House-holder. Whether as specially on the Sabbaths and festival days, so also sometimes on the work days he have propounded or caused to be propounded and taught to his children and family, the chief heads of Christian religion, namely such as be taught and contained in the Catechism. ...

For more, see Andreas Hyperius on the sins of various orders against the Sabbath day.

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Today's post for the Sabbath is from John Owen's Hebrews commentary:

... This is the day wherein the affairs of the Lord Jesus Christ are transacted, his person and mediation being the principal subjects and objects of its work and worship. And it is, or may be, called his, “the Lord’s day,” because enjoined and appointed to be observed by him or his authority over the church. So the ordinance of the supper is called “the supper of the Lord” on the same account. On supposition, therefore, that such a day of rest there is to be observed under the new testament, the name whereby it ought to be called is “the Lord’s day;” which is peculiarly expressive of its relation unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the sole author and immediate object of all gospel worship.

But whereas the general notion of a sabbatical rest is still included in such a day, a superaddition of its relation to the Lord Christ will entitle it unto the appellation of “the Lord’s-day Sabbath;” that is, the day of sacred rest appointed by the Lord Jesus Christ. ...

For more, see John Owen on the Lord’s Day of Revelation 1:10.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from the Scottish Reformed Presbyterian minister, William Symington II:

... The whole precept, in all its integrity, stands there among the rest, as a portion of the moral law, unrepealed, immutable — as binding upon man now, as on the day when it was first revealed. It is no merely positive enactment that has strangely found its way into a place — and that place most conspicuous and honourable — among a number of others that are moral. And if it be our duty still, in obedience to the other commandments with which it is associated, to worship Jehovah only, to revere His holy name, to honour our father and mother, to abstain from murder, adultery, theft, falsehood, and covetousness, — it is equally our duty still, under the same authority, and by the sanction of the same law, to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.”

Mark too, in confirmation of this, how, while the Passover, to which the Sabbath has frequently been compared, was rigidly restricted to the Jews — “There shall no stranger eat thereof,” — the keeping of the Sabbath is expressly enjoined, not only upon the Hebrew and his family, but on “the stranger within his gate.” And the same conclusion follows from the reason assigned for the observance, in which there is. nothing national or local, nothing peculiarly interesting to the Jews more than to any other people:— “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth.” ...

For more, see William Symington II on the Sabbath and the universal moral law.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from the American Presbyterian minister, Gardiner Spring:

To you who are magistrates, and invested with civil authority, permit me respectfully to say, The ordinance of God and the voice of a free people have elevated you to posts of dignity and power, that you may be the sentinels of the public virtue. To you their eyes are directed, to maintain the sacredness and diffuse the blessings of the holy Sabbath. The voice of the King of kings to you is, Remember the Sabbath Day!

In your personal and official capacity never lose sight of its appointment and design. If, as our civil fathers, you would see your children rise up and call you blessed; if you would embalm your names in the remembrance of an elevated people, and transmit them with many a grateful sentiment to a distant futurity; be entreated to become the exemplary and fearless guardians of the Christian Sabbath.

For the reference, see Gardiner Spring on magistrates and the Sabbath.

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Today's post for the Sabbath is from the Westminster divine, William Greenhill:

... 1. It was prophanation of the Sabbath, Jerem. 17. 24, 25. 27. If they made conscience of God’s Sabbath, he would take care of their City: If they would hollow that day with pious duties, he would honour them with choice Princes; but if they would defile his day, he would fire their City, and that with unquenchable fire.

This made Nehemiah so zealous for the Sabbath, after the return from Babylon, Neh. 13. 17, 10. he contended with the Nobles, and said, What evil thing is this that ye do, and prophane the Sabbath day? did not your Father’s thus, and did not our God bring all his evils upon us, and upon this City? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel, by prophaning the Sabbath day. He knew that sin had formerly laid them waste, and would therefore stand for the Sabbath, that the Lord of Sabbaths might stand for and by them. England is not innocent in this thing. The Book of Sports (a Monster that Heathen and Idolatrous Kingdoms never produced) that opened a wide door to prophane the Lord’s day, hath kindled a fire in our Land, which is not like to be extinct till that Book be burnt by publique Authority. ...

For more, see William Greenhill on Sabbath-breaking and idolatry provoking divine judgment.

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This week's post is from William Swann Plummer; he considers the issue of the Sabbath in light of Christ's resurrection:

... The resurrection of Christ was a very glorious event, to which the highest importance is properly attached, and which is well worthy of a weekly and joyful commemoration. His resurrection was life from the dead to all his people, and to all their hopes. If the completion of creation was worthy of a weekly celebration, much more is the same true of the completion of redemption. For Christians to celebrate the seventh day of the week, would be to keep a feast on the gloomiest day of the week—the day on which their Lord lay in the sepulchre of Joseph.

… Apostolic example is as safe and correct a guide as apostolic precept, and no serious and candid reader of the New Testament can doubt that the apostles and early Christians did observe the first day of the week as the rest appointed by God. This fact, therefore, clearly determines our duty. Many duties are taught us by the example of inspired men. An appeal to such example is fair, and the example itself is binding. ...

For more, see William Swan Plumer on the fourth commandment and the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection.

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This week's post for the Sabbath comes from William Ames:

... And this sentence is not only proposed, but also confirmed, and that with a double reason; whereof 1. Is taken from a tacit comparison of the greater. God hath promised us six days for our works; and therefore by very good right and reason, he may challenge the seventh to himself, to be consecrated to his worship. [2.] Reason is taken from the exemplar cause, because God by his own example of resting on the seventh day, went before us, as it were to give us a copy to follow. 3, Reason is from the efficient, that is, God’s institution or appointment which consisteth of two parts; sanctifying of it, and blessing it. The sanctifying of it, was the separating of this day from a worldly use to an holy. The blessing of it, was the promise to bless them, that rightly bless this day. ...

For more, see William Ames on reasons for the fourth commandment.

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Our post for the Lord's Day this week comes from Baptist Noel:

The Sabbath, which was consecrated in paradise when man was innocent (Gen. ii. 3), is much more necessary now, when men are fallen and tempted. Instituted to commemorate the work of creation (Gen. i. 31, ii. 1-8), it is not less useful now when it commemorates, together with the works of God in nature, his greater work of redemption. — (John xx. 19, 26; Rev. i. 10.)

The law of the Sabbath, which the Almighty himself proclaimed to Israel, and wrote on a table of stone, with nine other laws of universal and eternal obligation, to show its perpetual importance to the welfare of men (Exod. xx. 1, xxxi. 18, xxxii. 15), has lost nothing of its value from the lapse of ages, the progress of civilisation, and the increase of secular knowledge.

The hearty consecration of that day, to which God has attached such important blessings (Isa. Ivi. 2, Iviii. 13, 14; Ezek. xx. 10-24; Neh. xiii. 18), must still secure his approbation; and, since our Lord has declared that “the Sabbath is made for man” (Mark ii. 27), it must be well adapted to promote both his spiritual and his temporal welfare.

For the reference, see Baptist W. Noel on the Sabbath in nature and grace.

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This week's Sabbath themed post from William Jenkyn is particularly relevant to this time of year, when men often give precedence to their own inventions over divine institutions:

Labour to preserve the holiness of God’s true Institutions; those things that are of divine consecration. For human consecration, alas what is it? But for the Sabbath, the Lord’s day, labour to keep it holy. We talk much of Holy days, this is so indeed.

The Lord’s Supper, that’s of Divine Institution, labour for a holy participation thereof. If any thing in the world would drive me to a Passion, this would, to hear men plead for the holiness of places, and live unholy Lives; to stand up for human, and not regard Divine institutions.

Oh that our King and Parliament might do something more than is done for keeping the Sabbath holy! oh that we could mourn for that we cannot mend! The Sacraments are Holy: it is the duty of Ministers to labour to keep them holy. The Lord’s Word that’s Holy. Ministry, and the Ordinances of Jesus Christ, labour to keep in High esteem. We ought to hear with the same reverence, as if Jesus Christ himself was here to preach. Live like walking Temples.

For the reference, see William Jenkyn on preserving the holiness of the Lord’s Day and divine institutions.

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I am having trouble with the internet at home, though I have managed to get my weekly Sabbath-themed post uploaded. This week's post comes from J. C. Ryle:

... I cannot see any ground for the idea suggested by Alford that our Lord implies in this verse that the law of the Sabbath is a mere Judaical practice and comparatively a modern ordinance, and that as such it properly gave way to the older and higher law of circumcision which was “of the Fathers.” It might be replied, firstly, that the Sabbath is so far from being a Judaical institution that it is actually older than circumcision and was appointed in Paradise. It might be replied, secondly, that our Lord seems purposely to guard against the idea by speaking of circumcision as “given by Moses” and as a part of “the law of Moses.” In fact, He does this twice with such curious particularity that one might think He meant to guard against anyone wresting this passage into an argument against the perpetual obligation of the Sabbath day.

He is pleased for the occasion to speak both of circumcision and the Sabbath as part of “the law of Moses.” He did this purposely because the minds of His hearers were full of Moses and the law at this particular period. And His argument amounts to this: that if they themselves allowed that the Mosaic law of the Sabbath must give way in a case of necessity to the Mosaic law of circumcision, they admitted that some works might be done on the Sabbath day, and therefore His work of healing an entire man on the Sabbath day could not be condemned as sinful. ...

For more, see J. C. Ryle on John 7:23 and necessary work on the Sabbath.

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Today's post for the Sabbath is from Thomas Cartwright:

Q. Is not this [Fourth] Commandment Ceremonial?

A. No: First, if it were so, then the Moral Law should consist but of nine words, or Commandments, which is contrary to God’s word.

Secondly, this Commandment (amongst the rest) was written by the finger of God, whereas no part of the Ceremonial Law was.

Thirdly, it (as well as the other) was written in Tables of stone; to signify the continuance of this Commandment, as well as the rest. Fourthly, it was before any shadow or Ceremony of the Law, yea, before Christ was promised, whom all Ceremonies of the Law have respect unto. ...

For more, see Thomas Cartwright: The Sabbath is not merely a ceremonial law.

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B. B. Warfield provides us with this week's post for the Lord's Day, which addresses the issue of Christ's attendance at the public worship on the Sabbath day. (The full blog extract also includes an extended quote from the Free Churchman, William Robertson Nicoll):

Have we not the example of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we better than he? Surely, if ever there was one who might justly plead that the common worship of the community had nothing to offer him it was the Lord Jesus Christ.

But every Sabbath found him seated in his place among the worshipping people and there was no act of stated worship which he felt himself entitled to discard. Even in his most exalted moods and after his most elevating experiences, he quietly took his place with the rest of God’s people sharing with them in the common worship of the community.

Returning from that great baptismal scene, when the heavens themselves were rent to bear him witness that he was well pleasing to God: from the searching trials of the wilderness, and from that first great tour in Galilee, prosecuted, as we are expressly told, “in the power of the Spirit”; he came back, as the record tells, “to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and” — so proceeds the amazing narrative — "he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue, on the Sabbath day.” “As his custom was!” Jesus Christ made it his habitual practice to be found in his place on the Sabbath day at the stated place of worship to which he belonged. ...

For more, see B. B. Warfield: Christ’s example of attending public worship on the Sabbath.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from Robert Leighton:

All the other precepts of this [moral] Law remaining in full force in their proper sense, it cannot but be an injury done to this Command, either flatly to refuse it that privilege, or, which is little better, to evaporate it into allegories.

Nor was the day abolished as a typical ceremony, but that seventh only changed to a seventh still, and the very next to it; He who is Lord of the Sabbath, either himself immediately, or by his authority in his apostles, appointing that day of his resurrection for our sabbath, adding to the remembrance of the first creation, the memorial of accomplishing the new creation, the work of our redemption, which appeared then manifestly to be perfected, when our Redeemer broke the chains of death, and arose from the grave; he who is the light of the new world, shining forth anew the same day that light was made in the former creation. ...

For more, see Robert Leighton on the Lord’s Day Sabbath.

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Today's post for the Sabbath comes from William Ames:

Doct. 5. It is the duty of every Christian, that not only themselves sanctify that day, but also that they make all such to do it, as far as in them lies, that are under their power.

This is hence collected, because this commandment is in a singular manner directed to such as are over others, Magistrates, Parents, Masters, &c. Neither thou, nor thy son.

1. Because such servile works, as are forbidden on that day, are for the most part made to be done by command of Fathers to Children, Masters to Servants, Magistrates to Subjects: So that though they be performed by others, yet the works are theirs, at whose command they are done.

Reas. 2. Because the sanctifying of this day was ordained as well for the cause and use of Sons and Servants, as of Parents and Masters.

Reas. 3. Because it is the duty of all Superiors, to further the salvation, as much as they can, of all that are under them; and to procure by them and from them that honour to God, that is due to him from them. ...

For more, see William Ames on the duty of superiors to enforce Sabbath observance.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from Baptist Noel:

It [the Sabbath] has ever been dear to Christians. Many of them have owed to it their conversion. To all of them it is the occasion of spiritual improvement. Tempted to excessive labour on other days, they feel that, but for this command to restrict their thoughts on one day in seven to the exercises of religion, they would soon be almost wholly absorbed in worldly occupations. Now, on the contrary, their Sabbath occupations restore to religion its ascendency over their minds, and lend them new spiritual strength for the engagements of the week.

On this day they feel the comfort of a spiritual rest, in which they may examine their religious progress, reflect upon their duty, meditate on the great truths of revelation, and prepare for eternity. If I am not greatly mistaken, Christians in general feel that they owe much of their growth in godliness, and even of their consistency, to the Sabbath. God can do all things, but he acts by means in his government of the world; and among means, the Sabbath ranks with those which are the most necessary to our welfare. ...

For more, see Baptist W. Noel on the Sabbath and spiritual improvement.

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This week's Sabbath post comes from an unusual source, but broken clocks are still correct twice a day. It is worth citing him to those from certain backgrounds that would seek to undermine Lord's Day observance:

And concerning particulars, their [the Jews] Sabbath the Church hath changed into our Lord’s day, that is, as the one did continually bring to mind the former World finished by Creation; so the other might keep us in perpetual remembrance of a far better World, begun by him which came to restore all things, to make both Heaven and Earth new. For which cause they honored the last day, we the first, in every seven, throughout the year, …

The Moral Law requiring therefore a seventh part throughout the age of the whole World, to be that way employed, although with us the day be changed, in regard of a new Revolution begun by our Saviour Christ; yet the same proportion of time continueth which was before, because in reference to the benefit of Creation, and now much more of Renovation thereunto added by him which was Prince of the World to come; we are bound to accompt [account] the Sanctification of one day in seven, a duty which God’s Immutable Law doth exact for ever.

For the reference, see Richard Hooker on the moral duty to sanctify the Lord’s Day.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day comes from John Collinges, one of Matthew Poole's continuators, though this extract does not come from the famous commentary but from a separate work. In it, He addresses the issue of sports on the Sabbath:

It is called an holy rest, the rest of the holy Sabbath, and the commandment expressly saith, Remember to keep it holy. Now an holy rest certainly stands distinguished from a rest merely natural, when our bodies cease from action, and worldly labour, 2. A rest that is profane. By which I understand not only a sinful rest, unlawful on any day; but a rest from recreations, and pastimes, lawful enough on other days.

We read not in the old Law of any toleration for sports on the Sabbath, we read on the contrary that it was to be an holy rest, kept holy, &c. To which sports cannot contribute: It seems unreasonable to think that labour should be forbidden, in order to our more serious and solemn service of God, and yet sports should be allowed, which every way as much distract, and unfit the Soul for acts of solemn worship. But the prophets are best interpreters of the Law. ...

For more see, John Collinges on the prohibition of sports on the Sabbath.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day is, once again, from the Scottish Seceder, William White:

Nothing can be plainer than the language of the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath – day to keep it holy; on it thou shalt not do any work.” Should not this command of God dispel every murmur against the observance of Sabbath? Does it not bind our consciences with an obligation that cannot be thrown off, without exposing ourselves to the most inexpressible danger?

It has been said, that to interdict pleasure vehicles from running upon Sabbath, is an infringement of the rights of the poor. It will be afterwards seen, that this, instead of infringing the privileges of the poor, is preserving them. Here it is sufficient to say, that though men have rights independent of earthly kings, they have no rights independent of God; – and since he has said, “REMEMBER the Sabbath – day to keep it holy, on it thou shalt not do any work,” neither rich nor poor ever can possess a right to disobey Him.

For the reference, see William White on the Sabbath and the rights of God.

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The post for this Lord's Day comes from the American Presbyterian, William Swan Plumer:

Nor did the Sabbath originate with Moses, or with any sinner. It was an ordinance in Eden. When, for his sins, man was driven out of paradise, God permitted him to carry with him two institutions, established for his good before his fall. Which of these institutions is the greatest mercy to our world, or which is the dearest to the heart of a good man, I will not undertake to say. One of them is marriage, the other the Sabbath-day. If he is the enemy of virtue who would abolish the former, he cannot be the friend of God or man who would set aside the latter.

By restoring marriage, as far as possible, to its original purity in Eden, that is, by confining it to the pairs and rendering it indissoluble, the Christian religion has incalculably advanced civilization, peace, and all the domestic virtues. By restoring the Sabbath, as near as possible, to its purity in Eden, that is, by the holy observance of all of it, man makes his nearest approach to primitive innocence and to future glory. There is no example of any community, large or small, ancient or modern, continuing virtuous or happy for a considerable time, if they slighted either marriage or the Sabbath-day.

For the reference, see William Swan Plumer on the Sabbath and marriage as creation ordinances.

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This week's post for the Lord's Day addresses the topic of how we should spend the Sabbath. As providence would have it, I was discussing this very subject with a relatively new Christian after the service this morning. John Downame gives us a very helpful summary of what it is to spend the Lord's Day in his service:

... First, All religious and holy exercises, whereof these the Scripture noteth by name, as duties to be performed upon that Day:

First, To hear the Word preached, Acts 13. 14. 15. After the reading of the Law and the Prophets in the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day, the Ruler of the Synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and Brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the People, say on. Acts 15. 21. MOSES of old time hath in every City those that preach him, being read in the Synagogues every Sabbath Day.

Secondly, Public Prayer. Acts 16. 13. Upon the Sabbath Day we went out of the City unto a River, where Prayer was wont to be.

Thirdly, To receive the Sacraments at the times appointed. Acts 20. 7. The first Day of the Week, when the Disciples were gathered together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, &c.

Fourthly, Collections and gathering for the Saints: 1. Cor. 16. 2. The first Day of the Week, let every one lay aside by him, treasuring up what he hath been prospered.

Fifthly, Private meditation, which was the exercise of John the Apostle, at what time he was banished into the Isle Patmos for the Word of God: ...

For more, see John Downame on spending the Sabbath in the service of God.