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J. POWELL, Printer, Hand Court, Dowgate Hill. 







—Ings; hold fast that which is good. — 1 Thess. 5. 21. 
Speaking the truth in love. — Eph. 4. 15. 





J3 s 

'j -j 7 & 6 




Chapter I. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 

Nature of a Weekly Sabbath '. 1 

Chapter II. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 

Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath 10 

Chapter III. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath 21 

Chapter IV. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
Regard paid by the Patriarchs and the Gentiles to 
the Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath 41 

Chapter V. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
Seventh Day observed by the Jews as the Weekly 
Sabbath 73 

Chapter VI. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
supposed Repeal of the Seventh Day Weekly Sab- 
bath 106 

Chapter VII. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
Claim of the First Day to be the Weekly Sabbath by 
Divine Authority 153 

Chapter VIII. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
supposed Authority of Apostolic Tradition to ren- 
der the First Day the Weekly Sabbath 238 

Chapter IX. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
Commencement and Termination of the Scriptural 
Weekly Sabbath 264 



Chapter X. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
supposed Lawfulness of Man to transfer the Scriptu- 
ral Weekly Sabbath to another Day 276 

Chapter XI. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
supposed Authority of Man to institute a Weekly 
Sabbath 302 

Chapter XII. — Differences of Opinion concerning the 
Importance of the Grounds on which Sanctification 
is claimed for a Day as the Weekly Sabbath, and its 
obtaining that Sanctification 319 

Conclusion 344 


The agreement in sentiment, at least in ap- 
pearance, respecting the weekly sabbath is 
so general, not to say universal, among 
Christians, that there may seem at first view 
to be no subject for the remarks proposed in 
the title-page to be made. 'What occa- 
sion,' it may be asked, € is there for observa- 
tions on differences, which, supposing them 
ever to have existed, have long ceased to ex- 
ist ? Even admitting that differences in 
opinion relative to some minute circumstan- 
ces affecting the topic before mentioned still 
remain, why should the peace of individu- 
als or of society be disturbed for such tri- 
fles ?' — In the course of the discussion, how- 
ever, it will perhaps appear that the Chris- 
tian world has been and still is greatly di- 
vided in opinion relative to the weekly sab- 
bath, and that the points at issue are by no 


means inconsiderable. With respect to any 
inconvenience that may arise from such an 
investigation, an intelligent, and much more 
a religious mind, will pause before it deter- 
mines on refusing to examine a question that 
involves any point of Christianity, small as 
it may be comparatively, in order to avoid 
inconvenience. The dread of error itself 
should not prevent inquiry after truth ; since 
the danger of adopting it in consequence of 
discussion is not greater than that of retain- 
ing it through declining discussion. 

The points on which I propose to consider 
the differences alluded to, are stated in the 
following Chapters. 




Differences of Opinion concerning the Nature 
of a Weekly Sabbath* 

The term weekly may be thought unnecessary : 
but I have inserted it, in order to distinguish the 
sabbath in question, not only from the monthly 
and annual sabbaths existing among the Jews, 
but also from the days, more or fewer of which 
are kept somewhat like sabbaths by the gene- 
rality of Christians. 

Having premised this, I proceed to the con- 
sideration of the subject proposed. The idea of li / <*J^ 
a weekly sabbath, prevalent for the most part '*-£ 
among the truly pious of every description who 
admit that there is one by divine authority — in 
the British isles at least — is> I believe, the conse- 


2 Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 

cration of a day, and of the same day every week, 
during the whole of the twenty- four hours, to re- 
ligious purposes— that the business or amuse- 
ments, lawful on other days, should on this day 
be refrained from, both publicly and privately ; 
no works of such a description being excepted, 
save those of c necessity and mercy* — that on this 
day public, as well as private and family worship, 
should be attended to— that even the subjects se- 
lected for conversation, for reading, and for me- 
ditation, should either be spiritual, or receive a 
spiritual improvement — and that the wakeful 
hours of the night themselves should be subject 
to regulations similar to those of the day. He 
who does not aim at submitting to these restric- 
tions, or conform in general to these requisi- 
tions, according to the opinion of the people be- 
fore described, cannot be justly said to keep a 
weekly sabbath, whatever he may profess to do, 
or however he himself or others may designate 
his conduct. 

I have the pleasure to avow, that I do most 
heartily concur with the generality of real Chris- 
tians among my fellow subjects in this sentiment. 
My aim is the same as their's, though none of us, 
perhaps, are always so successful in it as might be 
wished. The variety that there is in the religi- 
ous exercises which claim attention, in succes- 
sion, on a weekly sabbath, effectually secure both 

Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 3 

body and mind from any injurious consequences; 
and he who conceives of fhem as insipid or wea- 
risome, has reason to lament the want, not of 
relaxation or entertainment, but of a well-regu- 
lated taste. 

But the opinion that has just been given con- 
cerning the sanctification due to a weekly sabbath 
neither has been, nor is, the prevailing one through 
Christendom. Descriptive as it may be of the 
manner in which (according to Isaiah 58. 13.) the 
Jews of old did observe, or ought t6 have ob- 
served, the seventh day, it by no means agrees 
with the picture of a weekly sabbath, that is 
drawn in the history of the Christian Church, 
since the time of the Apostles. Bishop White, 
who wrote A. D. 1635, justifies the Christians for 
working on the first day, under the heathen em- 
perors, on the ground of necessity: but neither 
he nor any other ever produces a single passage 
from any of the Fathers during this period, in 
which the nesessity is lamented, or in which de- 
liverance from it is sighed after and prayed for. 
It ceased, however, when the Roman empire be- 
came Christian : but still, according to White's 
quotations, we find such men as St. Augustine, 
St. Jerome, and Gregory Magnus, (born A. D. 
544,) not only conniving at the continuance of 
such working, but even commending or enjoin- 
ing it, and that for no less a space than three 

4 Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 

centuries* Mr. Wright, who wrote in the early 
part of the last century on the c Religious Obser* 

* It is proper to mention, in opposition to these assertions 
of Bishop White, that Milner, in his History of the true 
Church of Christ, and particularly Morer, in his Dialogues on 
t he Lord's Da y, produces various recommendations, decrees, 
and edicts, in favour of strictly observing the first day during 
this period* But though both these writers lived after the 
Bishop's time, and ought to have known his assertion, yet 
they never attempt to refute it, or even notice it. That it 
was true in general, the following references will show. 

1 If the Christians in St. Jerome's time, after divine wor- 
ship on the Lord's day, followed their daily employments, it 
should be remembered, that this was not done, till the wor- 
ship was quite over, when they might with innocency enough 
resume them, because the length of time and the number of 
\ hours assigned for piety were not then so well explained as in 
after ages.' — Morer, p. 236. 

c In St. Jerome's time, Christianity had got into the throne, 

as well as into the empire. Yet for all this, the entire sancti- 

iication of the Lord's day proceeded slowly ; and that it was 

the work of time to bring it to perfection appears from the 

several steps the Church made in her constitution, and from 

I the decrees of emperors and other princes, wherein the pro- 

I hibitions from servile and civil business advanced by degrees 

from one species to another, till the day had got a consider- 

, able figure in the world.' — Ibid. 

i Paula, a devout lady in St. Jerome's time, is represented 

by him, after coming from church on the Lord's day, as sit- 

I ting down with the virgins and widows attending her to their 

/ daily tasks, which consisted in making garments, and as doing 

Nature of a WeeMy Sabbath, 5 

vation of the Lord's Day/ never once contradicts 
the citations made from these Fathers by the Bi- 
shop for the purpose just stated, nor quotes others 
in opposition to them, anxious as he is to show, 
by referring to the quotations of the same learned 
writer relative to a l ater period, that the Chris- 
tians abstained wholly from secular labour on the 
first day. From the quotations last mentioned, 
it appears, indeed, that for about five centuries 
afterwards, that is, between A. D. 600 and A. D. 
1 100, many orders for abstaining from business on 
Sunday were given both by princes and councils, 
as well in the Greek- Roman empire, as in Eng- 
land and France. The same abstinence, how- 
ever, was required on the other days that were 
observed by the Church as fasts or feasts j* and 

this on that day for themselves, as well as for others that needed 
them.'— p. 235. 

1 St. Chrysostom gives leave to his audience, after impress- 
ing on themselves and their families what they had heard on 
the Lord's day, to return to their daily employments and 
trades.'— p. 234, 235. 

* If any one of the fasts or feasts referred to was weekly, 
there was no difference whatever in sanctification between it 
and Sunday ; and if Sunday only was kept weekly, still it 
was no more a sabbath on that account, than Good Friday, or 
Christmas-day, would be, were it weekly, instead of annual. 
There being no other weekly day kept more holy, does not 
prove that Sunday was kept as a sabbath, but that no day 
was kept as a sabbath. 

6 Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 

| therefore is no proof of peculiar regard for the 
\ day they professed to hold sacred. What effect 
these orders had, and how long it lasted, does not 
appear: but in England, so late as Richard the 
Second's reign, about A. D. 1380, the Parliament 
met on Sundays to transact business ; and in 
the reign of Henry the Sixth, (A. D. 1440,) the 
public markets did not continue shut longer 
than till the close of the afternoon service ; and 
the sports which followed in the evening were 
practised till the reigns of the Stuarts. The ce- 
lebrated ( Book of Sports,' which was published 
by the order of James the First, and republished 
by his son Charles the First, professes to allow no 
more than what had been usual in former reigns ; 
nor is it likely, indeed, that the inhabitants of 
the northern counties would have given occasion 
to the former of these monarchs to issue such a 
proclamation, by complaining of the encroach- 
ments made on their pastimes by the Puritans, 
had they not been considered by them as innova- 
tions. Among the Roman Catholics, if not in 
Protestant countries, the regard professed to be 
entertained for theirs* day, (though perhaps as 
great as was paid to any other weekly day,) is 
still subject to the same defalcations which at- 
tended it in England prior to the reign of Henry 
the Sixth. 

Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 7 

Mr. Wright, in the work before referred to, 
does not exculpate the Protestant states from this 
charge, which he acknowledges to have been 
brought against them, as well as against the 
Roman Catholics. He only in his preface ex- 
cuses the Hanoverians for spending the Sunday 
evening in amusements, on the ground that, as 
he had heard, they abstained from them on the 
preceding Saturday evening. Mr. W. does 
not say whether this was done or not done on 
the Scriptural principle of the evening preced- 
ing the morning. If it was not, however true 
it was that the Hanoverians kept twenty- four 
hours sacred after six days' labour, it was not 
equally true that they kept the whole of the first 
day, and that on account of our Lord's resur- 

Let it not be replied, that whatever may have 
been the practice of Christendom in this respect, 
its opinion was conformable to the account alrea- 
dy given of what a weekly sabbath ought to be. 
None of the Fathers or Reformers ever state that 
any weekly day is enjoined by Scripture on Chris- 
tians to be sanctified according to Isaiah 58. 13. 
as already described. 

Bishop White, in the work before mentioned, 
which was patronized by the highest authority 
both in Church and State, pleads for the laxities 
in question. Nor have I ever heard of any pub- 

8 Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 

lie remonstrances against this weekly species of 
practical latitudinarianism, drawn up by any 
considerable number of pious characters in the 
countries abroad,* similar to those which have 
issued from the press in this country, both in 
the Establishment and among the Dissenters.f 

I am not aware that the sanctification due to a 
weekly sabbath, for which- 1 contend in common 
with the generality of my pious countrymen, dif- 
fers at all from that which the Fourth Command- 
ment enjoined upon the Jews, when freed by our 
Saviour from the superstitious additions which 
they had made to it. Necessary as it may now 
be for us, under present circumstances, to kindle 
a fire and to dress provision on the sabbath, it 
might not be necessary for the Israelites to- per- 
form similar acts on that day, at the time they 

* Mr. Wright, indeed, quotes Witsius as strongly incul- 
cating the proper sanctification of the whole of Sunday. But 
this learned and pious professor in Holland was cotemporary 
with the Puritans in England, and a Presbyterian like them. 
It is not very extraordinary, therefore, that he should act as 
his brethren did, who were the first that urged the entire 
consecration of Sunday, as a sabbath. 

t Even here, if a judgment may be formed of the regard 
required by law for the weekly sabbath from the decisions of 
magistrates, it sustains no injury from private labour that is 
exercised for amusement, though it does from the same la- 
bour, when gain is the object. 

Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 9 

were interdicted. I therefore see no just cause 
for complaining of the restrictions and observan- 
ces before mentioned as being required by a 
weekly sabbath. Extravagant as some of the ex- 
pressions used by the Puritans two hundred years 
ago concerning the guilt of sabbath-breaking are, 
I do not know that, with respect to sanctifying 
the sabbath, they differed materially in sentiment 
and practice from the pious at large in modern 
times — at least in this country. Whatever Bishop 
White may have thought, we should not any of us 
like, I believe, any more than they would have 
done, to travel on the sabbath for secular purposes, 
without necessity — to allow our dependants pas- 
times on that day — or to let tailors and shoemak- 
ers contract a habit of not executing the orders 
given them before that time : much less should 
we tolerate the dressing of wedding dinners on the 
day, or carrying our complaisance toward an in- 
valid who was in bed so far as to engage with the 
clinic for his diversion, in a game of some sort or 
another, in the course of the sacred season. 

But for what purpose, it may be asked, have I 
brought forward the different opinions of exalted 
individuals, both civil and ecclesiastical, relative 
to the nature of a weekly sabbath, or the practi- 
ces observable in different nations throughout 
Christendom, relative to the same matter, since 
the Christian era? My object is, to show, that 

10 Nature of a Weekly Sabbath. 

the real observers of a weekly sabbath, notwith- 
standing appearances and professions have al- 
ways been, and still are, sufficiently extensive, 
compose a much smaller mass than is commonly 
imagined — that even among true Christians, taken 
as one body, though belonging to different deno- 
minations, the number of these real observers is 
extremely small, and would appear much small- 
er, perhaps, if individuals would submit to be 
closely interrogated on the subject — and that 
those of the real observers who differ from the 
bulk of their brethren on certain points respect- 
ing the weekly sabbath, few as they are, bear, it 
may be, as great a proportion to them, as they 
themselves do to the professors of Christianity 
who observe a weekly sabbath only nominally or 


Differences of Opinion concerning the Obliga- 
tion of a Weekly Sabbath. 

After remarking on the differences of opinion 
among Christians respecting the nature of a 
weekly sabbath, I might be expected to discuss, 
next, the difference of sentiment among them (if 

Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. H 

there be a difference) concerning the existence 
of any weekly sabbath, be its nature what it may. 
I shall not, however, enter into this question at 
present; but, taking for granted that the senti- 
ment of there being a day entitled upon just 
grounds to weekly sanctification more or less is 
universal, I shall examine the different opinions 
entertained by Christians respecting the nature of 
those grounds. 

Those who think that there is solid reason for 
keeping holy a weekly sabbath, are almost uni- 
versally agreed, that the day itself which is to be 
sanctified, can be determined only by a positive 
institution — either divine altogether, or, if hu- 
man, by divine permission; but that the obliga- 
tion to keep one day in a week, is moral. In 
the first of these opinions, namely, that the obli- 
gation to sanctify a particular day every week 
must proceed from a positive appointment of 
God, I readily concur. Taking, however, the 
word moral not as opposed to ceremonial, but in 
its more general acceptation, as opposed to po- 
sitive,* I do not think, with some of the Sab- 
batarians, (Christians who observe the seventh 
or last day of the week as their sabbath,) that 

* A law may be positive, that is dependant on the will of 
God whether it shall or shall not be, when it is not ceremo- 
nial ; that is, referring to Christ, as well as dependant on the 
will of God. 

12 Obligation of a WeeMy Sabbath. 

the observance of the seventh or last day of 
the week is, or ever was, a moral obligation. 
Whatever I may think of the divinity of its 
claim to be the weekly sabbath, I cannot consi- 
der the secularization of it as being in itself im- 
moral, or found a belief of its perpetuity on the 
immutability of a moral precept. But for a si- 
milar reason, I cannot consider the neglect or vi- 
olation of the first day, were the proof of its be- 
ing a sabbath in consequence of a divine institu- 
tion ever so satisfactory, as immoral in itself, any 
more than the unnecessary omission of Baptism 
or the Lord's Supper, by any one who was fit for 

I repeat, then, my entire concurrence with al- 
most the whole of the Christian world, in think- 
ing that the obligation to sanctify a particular 
day every week is merely positive. But I cannot 
by any means accede to the opinion — notwith- 
standing its general prevalence, and its being 
treated like an axiom or self-evident proposition 
— namely, that the consecration of the seventh 
part of time, or of one day in a week, is a moral 
obligation, in opposition to the idea of a positive 
institution, which might or might not have been, 

* Property speaking, the wilful breach of any divine law, 
whether moral or positive, is immoral ; but the term is usu- 
ally confined to the breach of a moral precept. 

Obligation of a Weekly &ab\<Hfi. 13 

which may be temporary, and is alterable. The 
common, and, I think, the correct and accurate 
notion of a moral precept, is, an obligation dk> 
tated by reason, and discoverable by the light of 
nature. Now, however manifest it is, by the 
light of reason, that God should have some part 
or parts of every day, yet it is not at all manifest 
from reason that he should ever have a whole day 
at a time, and still less that such a day should re- 
turn regularly after a certain period, or after one 
period rather than after another. There is no- 
thing in the nature of things to direct us to wor- 
ship and serve God for twenty-four hours, rather 
than to grant him fewer or more hours together > 
or to devote a seventh part of our time to him, 
rather than a sixth or an eighth part; or to de- 
vote the same part invariably, rather than differ- 
ent parts. Reason does not prescribe to us the 
consecration of one day at once, much less of one 
day merely, in a week, even admitting that a 
week is a natural division of time, and that it 
consists of seven rather than of ten days. I do 
not, therefore, consider the obligation of keeping 
a weekly sabbath on one day, or on another, as 
being moral, but, if it exists at all, (and I certain- 
ly think that it does exist,) as being a positive in- 
stitution of Heaven. 

It has been said, that the morality of sanctify- 
ing the seventh part of time consists in the equity 

14 Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. 

and reasonableness of it. But there is an essen- 
tial difference between a practice being reason- 
able, and its being a dictate of reason. A posi- 
tive institution, if the Divine Being be the Au- 
thor of it, must be reasonable, even if its reason- 
ableness does not appear. But will any one 
think it reasonable, detached from its institu- 
tion ? — It is true, the institution of a weekly sab- 
bath does appear reasonable, in itself, as well as 
on the ground of the divine authority; but not 
more so, than if the institution had made the 
week to consist of fewer or more days than seven, 
or than the requiring a particular day, appears to 
be. Of course, no superiority of reasonableness 
in either case would have struck the mind, or 
have imposed a duty on conscience, without the 
knowledge of the Deity's positive interference. 
Were a positive institution of the Deity allowed to 
be moral on account of its reasonableness, pro- 
priety, and equity, there would be no difference 
between a moral and a positive precept. 

It has likewise been said, that the consecration 
of one day in seven is called for by humanity 
even toward the brutes, as well as toward the de- 
pendant part of the human species, and that it is 
necessary for the civil and religious interests of 
mankind. I readily admit the truth of this. It 
is upon this ground that the reasonableness of the 
divine institution, now so apparent, stands; and 

Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. 15 

it is a consideration which abundantly proves the 
divine wisdom and goodness, in positively insti- 
tuting (as will be shown afterwards) a particular 
day for it every week, as also the importance of 
our observing it. But there is not the least rea- 
son to suppose that nature did or ever would of 
itself have suggested the idea to man, without 
such an institution. Notwithstanding the effect 
produced among the ancients by a tradition of it, 
and which, there is reason to believe, never 
wholly ceased after the tradition itself was in a 
great measure forgotten, the importance of sanc- 
tifying one day in a week, whether in whole or 
in part, for the good both of man and beast, was 
never reflected upon before the Christian era. 
The idea was entertained in consequence of 
knowing that there was such a divine institution. 
The beneficial results of it were discovered by 
experience and observation, not anticipated by 
speculation. Indeed, though the holy and hap- 
py effects of sanctifying, to one extent or to ano- 
ther, one day in a week, are generally admitted in 
the Christian world, yet the aversion of the f car- 
nal mind' to it on account of its apparent auste- 
rities, and the serious evils arising to individuals 
and to society from the extensive abuse of it, are 
such, that were it not for the positive institution 
of it by divine authority, it is extremely question- 
able whether man's regard for his own benefit, 

16 Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. 

or for the benefit of those dependant on him, 
whether rational or irrational, would have led 
him to an appointment of this nature. There 
are numbers of people, (and among them, too, 
some not a little eminent for intelligence, rank, 
and character in society,) who, so far from ap- 
pearing likely to think of, to introduce, or to 
promote such an institution, can scarcely endure 
or submit to it, (though they acknowledge its 
existence by divine authority,) not only in a reli- 
gious, but even in a civil or moral view. They 
do not, perhaps, wholly abstain from business in 
private; and however they may occupy an hour 
or two in public devotion, or refrain from some 
pleasures, yet they suffer other pleasures to al- 
low their dependants, whether rational or irra- 
tional, little leisure for rest, and themselves still 
less for religion. It is doubtful whether the 
pious themselves, in the absence of Scripture, 
would ever have thought the Scriptural sanctifi- 
cation of a day necessary for devotion, and much 
less for morality, humanity, or civilization. 

It is true, the public worship of God is a dic- 
tate of reason. But with respect to the day, the 
hour, the length of the service, and its recurrence, 
(except in general that it should be frequent,) 
reason determines nothing universal or constant. 
It leaves these points to the convenience and suf- 
frage of the future worshippers. Still less is there 

Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. YJ 

any thing in nature that obliges them to employ 
any of the days on which they worship publicly 
wholly in religion. Nor need the season for it 
return after any particular interval, or statedly. 
When a ruler calls upon a nation to assemble for 
public worship on a civil account, or on any ac- 
count in which Revelation is not supposed to in- 
terfere, he does not think himself obliged to re- 
quire them to sanctify a whole day^ he likewise 
calls upon them occasionally, not statedly ; or if 
the latter, annually, not weekly. 

The obligation, therefore, if there be any, to 
keep a weekly sabbath at all, as well as to keep 
a certain day, seems to me to be entirely posi- 
tive. Of course I think, that neither the obser- 
vers of the seventh day, nor those of the first day, 
would be warranted in charging each other with 
sabbath-breaking, and much less (as explained 
before) with immorality, merely because they do 
not keep each others' sabbath. No one, in my 
opinion, is justly liable to the charge of sabbath- 
breaking, except he neglects or violates the day 
which he professes to account the sabbath, or 
except he cannot with truth affirm that he has 
made proper inquiry which day God has re- 
quired to be kept, and that he acts agreeably to 
the conviction of his own mind. Whether he 
has really so inquired or not, can be ascertained 
only by his own conscience* 

18 Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. 

Positive, however, properly speaking, as the 
obligation to observe any weekly sabbath what- 
ever, as well as a certain day, cannot but be, in 
my opinion, I am not unwilling to call it moral 
in a qualified sense, on account of several ex- 
traordinary circumstances, which, as appeal's 
from Revelation, attend it : such as that it was 
instituted as early as there was any human be- 
ing to observe it — that it was made known as 
soon as any precept can be known, which is, 
strictly speaking, moral — that it was discovered 
in the same way as moral obligations were 
themselves at first discovered ; that is to say, by 
Revelation — that it was founded on a reason pe- 
culiarly great and important, and which, like 
moral duties, concerns all mankind in all ages 
and places, namely, the Deity's rest after the 
Creation — and, finally, that it was placed by di- 
vine authority, not merely among other pre- 
cepts, some of which are moral, and others posi- 
tive, because the purpose for which they were 
mentioned made it of importance to separate 
them, but in the middle of a code that is con- 
fessedly moral, in opposition to other codes 
which are as confessedly positive. Should any 
one think that the obligation to observe a week- 
ly sabbath is entitled to the high and weighty 
designation of moral for these reasons, and that 
it was intended by the Divine Legislator to be so 

Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. 19 

considered and treated by mankind, I own that 
though I cannot admit the designation to be its un- 
doubted right, yet I am far from objecting to the 
Fourth Commandment's having it, when the claim 
is made for it, or allowed by others.* But then, 
in admitting the obligation of keeping a weekly 
sabbath to be moral on such grounds, it will be 
indispensably necessary to admit the morality of 
keeping the seventh or last day of the week, 
since (as will be proved hereafter) those grounds 
apply solely to that day, and not to the seventh 
part of time abstractedly — they relate to that day 
directly, and to the seventh part of time only by 
necessary consequence, since it was impossible 
to consecrate the former without consecrating 
the latter at the same time. The last day of the 
first week was the subject of the institution, and 
nothing else; nor does the reason assigned for it 
accord with any thing else. 

I have only to remark further, before I con- 
clude this Chapter, that though I consider the 
observance of a weekly sabbath, including the 
particular day to be kept, as a positive institu- 
tion, and not, properly speaking, a moral duty, 
yet it does not necessarily follow, in my opinion, 
that the institution is temporary. It only fol- 

* Upon the same principle, sabbath-breaking, as before 
explained, may not improperly be termed immorality. , 

20 Obligation of a Weekly Sabbath. 

lows, that man would not have been obliged, by 
the law of nature, to keep a weekly sabbath, had 
there been no positive institution, and that the 
blessed God could revoke the institution, with or 
without a view to the making a different one, 
if he pleased. Whether he has done either, or 
not, I shall not now inquire. I shall merely re- 
mark, at present, that if what I stated should be 
proved, namely, that the seventh part of time is 
no otherwise instituted than as the seventh day is 
instituted, the seventh part of time will of course 
be abrogated, whenever the seventh day is abro- 
gated; nor can it ever be renewed, except by an- 
other positive institution, that appoints it either 
abstractedly, or in consequence of appointing an- 
other day. In such a case, the new institution 
would stand upon its own ground, and would 
have no occasion to seek authority, confirmation, 
or explanation, from the abrogated one; nor 
could it derive any one of these advantages from 
that quarter, if it wanted help ever so much. 



Differences of Opinion concerning the Antiquity 
of the Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 

Many learned and pious writers, who observe 
the first day as the weekly sabbath, are of opi- 
nion, that the passage in Gen. 2. 2, 3. relative to 
the Divine Being's blessing and sanctifying the 
sabbath day, which was the day after the Cre- 
ation, is an anticipation of the Fourth Command- 
ment, expressing what was to take place, not 
directly, but a long time after, namely, when the 
Jews arrived in the Wilderness. Of course, the 
holders of this opinion do not think, with the ge- 
nerality of Christians and myself, that the obser- 
vance of a weekly sabbath on one day, or on 
another, is of serious importance to the interests 
of humanity, of civilizaton, and of religion. For 
if they do think this, they must also think that 
the duty must have been known as early as the 
existence of man and of human, society, and that 
therefore, as it could not be known by reason, 
(as had already been proved,) a positive institu- 
tion of the Deity, which was absolutely requisite 
to the knowledge of it, in being announced just 
after the Creation, was not brought forward a 
moment before it was wanted; being wanted 

22 Antiquity of a Weekly Sabbath. 

immediately, as well as at the distance >of two 
thousand years afterwards. 

It must, indeed, be admitted, that the older 
the world grew, and the more populous it be- 
came, the more it would need an appointment 
that tended so materially to its civil and religious 
improvement. But there were considerable na- 
tions long before the time of Moses; and though 
not tribes, there were individuals and domestic 
society from the Very beginning. These, not- 
withstanding their inferiority in largeness and 
number to the bodies of people that existed at a 
later period, were far too important to be passed 
by, since they needed the benefits of the sabbath, 
as well as those who lived in the more populous 
ages that were to follow. 

Another observation proper to be made, con- 
cerning the holders of the opinion that Gen. 2. 
2, 3. contains only an anticipation of the Fourth 
Commandment, is, that they at least consider, 
agreeably to the general sentiment and my own, 
the seventh day which is appointed by that Com- 
mandment as being the same in rotation with 
that which is mentioned in Genesis. Were this 
not the case, the latter would not be an anticipa- 
tion of the commandment, but a different insti- 
tution. This, indeed, is the opinion of some 
great and good men; but whether upon just 
grounds or not, it is not yet my business to ex- 

Antiquity of a Weekly Sabbath, 23 

amine. All I wish to observe just now upon the 
point is, that the opinion of the institution in 
Genesis being nothing but an anticipation of 
the Fourth Commandment, and the opinion that 
the seventh day in that commandment is not 
the same in rotation with the seventh day which 
God sanctified after resting upon it at the close 
of the Creation, cannot both be maintained at 
the same time by the same individual. 

For my own part, I concur in sentiment with 
Mr. Wright and Dr. Jennings, who wrote in the 
last century, and with many more respectable 
observers of the first day, who think that the 
weekly sabbath was instituted by the Creator at 
the close of his great and good work of cre- 
ation, as also that it was intended to be re- 
garded, and was regarded, immediately. I 
think, too, with Dr. Jennings, and many more, 
that it was the seventh or last day of the first 
week, and no other, that was appointed for the 
purpose. I cannot accede to the opinion of 
Professor Wallis, of Oxford, Who wrote on the 
Christian Sabbath in 1692, and with whom Mr. 
Wright agrees, that the passage (Gen. 2. 2, 3.) 
only institutes one day of the week after six 
days' labour, without determining which day, 
or any day in particular. The order in which 
the seventh day is introduced, appears to me to 
show, beyond dispute, that it was the last day of 

24 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, #c. 

the week only that was consecrated by the Di- 
vine Legislator; and the reason assigned for its 
consecration agrees with no other. Neither was 
the seventh part of time first consecrated, and 
then the seventh day, but the seventh day alone. 
The consecration of the seventh part of time 
only follows indirectly, and as a necessary con- 
sequence of the institution: it is not the subject 
of the institution itself, nor renders it a matter of 
indifference which day of the week is kept, nor 
gives a latitude to man to transfer the weekly 
sabbath from the seventh or last day of the week 
to some other. 

Would any one who thinks that the first day is 
now the weekly sabbath by divine authority, on 
account of our Lord's resurrection, and that it 
was called 'Lord's Day' for that reason, allow 
that it signifies no more than the appointment of 
the seventh part of time, leaving the day of the 
week that was to be kept to human discretion 
and choice? The divine appointment of the se- 
venth or last day of the week for holy purposes, 
together with the reason for it, must surely be 
allowed by the most confident and zealous sup- 
porters of the first day, on the authority (as they 
imagine) of the New Testament, to be express- 
ed in as plain and definite language as that in 
which the first day, (and not merely the seventh 
part of time,) together with the facts respect- 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, fyc. 25 

ing it, is expressed in the texts on which they 

In my opinion, there never was nor can be a 
law more plainly enacted, or more explicit in 
regard to its nature, and the time when it was to 
take effect, than the divine institution recorded 
Gen. 2. 2, 3. The seventh day, on which God 
* rested from all the work which God created and 
made/ could be no other than the last day of the 
first week. The expression, ( God sanctified it,' 
must mean that he set it apart for his worship and 
service. Finally, when he is said to have f bless- 
ed it/ I know not what else can be intended, ex- 
cept that he proposed to render it a day peculi- 
arly happy for man. Considering the opinion I 
entertain concerning the light in which the an- 
cient Patriarchs and the Gentiles viewed this 
day, and concerning the day which the Jews ob- 
served for so many ages in their own country, 
and which they still continue to observe, (an 
opinion which I shall have occasion in the course 
of this work to support,) I can have no doubt of 
God's having fulfilled the gracious promise 
which I think is implied in his c blessing the se- 
venth day/* and though the state of Christen- 

* The Lord blessed the house of Obed-edom on account of 
the residence of the ark there ; and no doubt substantial ef- 
fects followed the gracious act. But they are only hinted at 

26 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, Sec* 

dom in general (so far as it is known) has for 
many centuries exhibited an appearance not very 
suitable to this most benevolent and interesting 
act of the Deity at the commencement of human 
existence and of time, so far as relates to the di- 
vision of it into weeks, yet it is by no means too 
late for him to fulfil his promise, and that in a 
most extensive and striking manner.* 

The act of God in sanctifying this day is not 
synonymous with, or another way of expressing, 
his having * rested' upon it. His sanctifying it 
was the effect, of which his resting upon it is 
declared to be the cause. It is prospective, and 
refers to some line of conduct, internal and ex- 
ternal, that was to be observed henceforward to- 
ward that day. By whom was this to be observ- 
ed, and who was to be the object of the pecu- 
liar blessings to be conferred on this highly-fa- 
voured day? It cannot be thought that God pro- 
posed to render homage to himself, or to bless 

indirectly and obscurely, where we find himself, his brethren, 
and his sons, employed as attendants at the house of God, as 
leaders in the band of sacred choristers, or as keepers of the 
holy treasure. 

* If the opinions that the seventh day was not kept before 
the time of Moses, and that the one kept by the Jews was not 
the weekly return of the first seventh day, be correct, the day 
has not yet been blessed, in effect j and thus its future bles- 
sedness is rendered more certain. 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, #c. 27 

himself. It can only be a creature for whom it 
is proper to perform the one, and that stands in 
need of the other. What creature could this 
be, but man ? who, however justly f the morning 
stars sang together, and all the sons of God 
shouted for joy/ on occasion of the Creation, 
was the only intelligent being who was imme- 
diately and deeply interested in it. 

I consider, therefore, both the duty and the 
privilege to have been intended by the Divine 
Legislator and Benefactor particularly for man, 
and to take place forthwith, since neither the 
sanctification nor the benediction are mentioned 
a moment sooner than they were wanted. Nei- 
ther were they, as already intimated, to be con- 
fined to the day on which God rested.* Both 
were to be repeated on the subsequent seventh 
days in rotation, since propriety and the interest 
of man required such a repetition, as much as 
they did the commencement. Both, in fine, 

* Were the first seventh day alone intended to be holy, and 
not its weekly return also, it would not be the day itself that 
was sanctified, but a certain day of a month that in a certain 
year fell on the last day of the first week. The historical 
event, however remarkable, could have been of no use in 
practice to Adam and to his posterity. The first-day Chris- 
tians do not consider the first days mentioned in the New 
Testament alone as sacred, but the weekly return of the first 
day also. 

28 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, See* 

were intended to be continued, till orders should 
be received from the Divine Being for their dis- 
continuance. — In this sentiment I am happy in 
concurring with Dr. Jennings, and other learn- 
ed and pious advocates for the Paradisaical Sab- 

Such, according to my judgment, is the sense 
of this important passage. It does not appoint 
first one day in seven generally, and then the 
last day of the week in particular, but the last 
day of the week only. It does not mean, as Mr. 
Wright states, primarily or principally, and 
much less solely, that the seventh part of time 
was to be kept sacred; but that the seventh day 
in succession from the day on which God rested 
should be so kept. There is no utility any more 
than justice in the representation made by the 
writer just mentioned, that the institution re- 
quired, and merely required, the seventh day af- 
ter six days' labour on the part of man to be 
kept. The Divine Being had indeed worked 
six days preceding that rest Which is the reason 
assigned for his distinguishing the day so highly 
as he did. But man certainly had not worked 
six days prior to the first sabbath which he was 
called upon to spend in the worship and service 
of that Being, to whom he owed his ability both 
to work and to enjoy. From that time, of 
course, the sabbath would or might be, after six 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, &c. 29 

days of man's labour : but the series of weekly 
sabbaths was fixed; nor was he at liberty to 
alter the day by keeping two sabbaths together, 
(and thus making the sabbath that followed the 
next six intervening days of labour fall one day 
sooner or later than the regular day,) or by any 
other expedient. 

To these observations it has been replied, that 
it was impossible for mankind to regard the in- 
stitution according to the sense just given of it. 
But I can by no means acquiesce in the con- 
clusiveness of the arguments that have been 
brought to prove the impossibility. 

Bishop White thinks that the weekly sabbath 
could not have been given to our first parents in 
Paradise before the fall, because they under- 
went no labour, had no servants, nor were in 
any of the other circumstances supposed by the 
Fourth Commandment. But it is not a pre- 
requisite to a man's keeping a sabbath, that he 
should have servants, or follow a secular calling. 
If Adam did not till the ground during the state 
of innocence, there is little doubt that he and his 
wife employed their time in the study of the ob- 
jects that surrounded them, and more particu- 
larly of themselves; and though the researches 
of the natural philosopher have a religious ten- 
dency, and ought to issue in piety, yet as they 
are not acts of piety in themselves,, and (as ex» 

30 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, S?c. 

perience and observation too well prove) are ca- 
pable of existing separate from it, they might 
very well form the worldly occupation of our 
first parents on the working days. The discove- 
ries thence made would no doubt have a reli- 
gious influence on their private thoughts, their 
conversation with each other, their conduct, and 
their acts of devotion, whether secret or social, 
through the week ; but more especially on the 
sacred day that closed it, when it would be their 
sole business to contemplate and adore the di- 
vine perfections, and to apply their knowledge 
of them to proper purposes. 

The supposed impossibility, therefore, of our 
first parents keeping the weekly sabbath in a state 
of holiness and happiness, seems to me to be with- 
out ground. Nor does another objection appear 
to be better founded, that is raised by the same 
learned prelate, by Dr. Wallis, and by many others, 
against the credibility of the seventh day's hav- 
ing been enjoined upon the first human pair and 
their posterity, on account of the day's not hap- 
pening during the same period of absolute time, 
j under meridians considerably remote from the 
I spot about which Paradise is usually supposed to 
{ have been situated, and from each other — as also 
; on account of the peculiar circumstances attend* 
j ing the inhabitants of the polar regions. I am 
surprised that any one who professes to advocate 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, fyc. 31 

the cause of the first day, should bring forward 
an objection to the divine institution of the se- 
venth day, which, if solid, must have equally 
prevented the institution of the first day, and in- 
deed of any day. But it strikes me, that the in- 
ference to be drawn from the circumstances 
mentioned in the objection is, — not that the words 
under consideration do not contain a precept, 
when they so manifestly appear to contain one, — 
or that they do not mean what they cannot but 
mean, if there be any meaning in language, — or 
that mankind at the beginning did not think the 
precept binding upon them, when they knew no- 
thing, any more than the common people do at 
this day, that should, in consequence of the pro- 
gress now made in the study of geography and 
astronomy, make them think otherwise 5 but that 
the facts, now they are discovered, form no mate- 
rial obstacle to it. The assumption wants proof, 
that the Divine Being would not order mankind 
to keep a particular day, because the day would 
commence and terminate sooner or later in some 
countries than in others. . The circumstance does 
not prevent his Majesty from ordering his birth- 
day to be kept in the East and West Indies on 
the same day on which it is kept in England, or 
a bill drawn upon a resident in a country situat- 
ed under a distant meridian from being paid the 
day on which it becomes due. Why, then, should 

32 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, Src. 

it prevent the institution in question on the part 
of the Divine Being? It does not indeed follow- 
that God would do so, because man acts in this 
manner: but it follows that his doing so is not 
impossible ; and that there is no reason for inter- 
preting Gen. 2. 2, 3. in a way different from the 
natural import of the words, on such a ground.* 

With respect to the great mass of places and 
persons, the objection in question is futile. One 
weekly sabbath could not differ from another in 
absolute time more than twelve hours at fur- 
thest j and in the generality of cases the differ- 
ence would not amount to a couple of hours, if 
so much. They differed scarcely any thing, till 
emigrations took place east or west from the 
neighbourhood of Paradise before the flood, and 
from Mount Ararat after the flood. Even when 
these emigrations did take place, the differences 
were inconsiderable, till the removals were to ve- 
ry remote distances. If it be asked what was to 
be done by the emigrants relative to the day for 
the sabbath, whenever that should return, I an- 
swer, even that which has always been done, and 
still is done, by the moderns in such a case — 

* The meridian of Jerusalem is not the same with that of 
Sinai; yet the Fourth Commandment required the Jews to 
keep the seventh day in the former place, as well as in the 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, 3?c. 33 

namely, to call that the evening of what we now 
call the sixth day, (and if any of them did not 
know which was the sixth day, through losing 
their reckoning after setting out, that was their 
fault,) when darkness commenced at the place 
where they were. This would be the beginning 
of the sabbath, and the end of it would be the 
commencement of darkness on the day following. 
The interval would be their seventh day now, 
according to the course of nature and providence, 
however it might differ less or more in time from 
the one they left behind them. 

What the ancients actually did in the case of 
emigrating with respect to their computation of 
time, no one can now tell. But I may venture ■ 
to affirm, I believe, that the moderns have acted, 
and still act, in substance, as just stated, altering 
their time-pieces according to the meridian of 
their new residences. The Jews and the Chris- 
tians, in keeping their respective weekly sab- 
baths in this country, do not keep precisely the 
weekly returns of the same days which their 
forefathers or predecessors kept, and which they 
themselves would now keep were they in Asia. 
Yet regardless of the difference, and most of 
them totally ignorant of it, they both think that 
they each keep the same days in succession 
which the professors of their respective religions 
kept in the east many centuries ago. And so 

34 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, &?c. 

they do, so far as the course of nature and provi- 
dence allows them. Nor do they either of them 
imagine, or have they cause to imagine, that the 
foreknowledge of such a circumstance on the 
part of the Deity, rendered it impossible for him 
to fix or to continue a particular day for the 
weekly sabbath, or that they having become ac- 
quainted with it, are now at liberty to exchange 
it for any other day that fashion or interest may 

The people of Europe, and those of America, 
frequently remove their residences from the one 
to the other, without ever thinking that in con- 
sequence of these changes they do not sanctify 
the same day weekly that they used to sanctify; 
nor are they thought to keep a different one by 
others, notwithstanding the far^t, that in such 
cases the former begin their sabbath some hours 
later, and the latter some hours earlier, than 
they did before. Travellers to a distance east or 
west, whether by sea or land, alter their time- 
pieces, as was said before, to the hour of the 
place where they happen to be, whenever there 
is occasion, and reverse the alteration on their re- 
turn, or in the course of returning, without ever 

* In speaking of the ancient Christians as considering the 
first day to he the weekly sabbath, agreeably to Isa. G8. 13. 
the author delivers the popular sentiment, not his own. 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, S?c. 35 

supposing that such changes can or ought to in- 
terfere with their fixing on or adhering to particu- 
lar days agreed on with those left behind them for 
transacting important business. Supposing two- 
individuals to go round the world in opposite di- 
rections, and to gain or lose a day, so that on 
their return to the same spot there should be a 
difference of two days between them, I have no 
doubt that they would give up, the one his Mon- 
day, and the other his seventh day, if they found 
it to be Sunday at home, without any obstruc- 
tion, either on their own part, or on the part of 
others ; and whatever concern Dr. Wallis, in his 
6 Discourse on the Christian Sabbath/ p. 80, pro- 
fesses to feel for Sir Francis Drake, on his return 
to England after sailing round the world, re- 
specting the mode in which he and his friends 
would settle their differences about time, I will 
venture to affirm that the gallant admiral and 
they settled them without the smallest embar- 
rassment on either side. Yet no one, I believe, 
will agree with the worthy doctor in thinking, 
on account of this incident, the Deity could not 
appoint a particular day, whether the seventh or 
the first day, for the weekly sabbath, and expect 
it to be kept, too, without the liberty of making 
a transfer. 

During the parts of the year that the inhabit- 
ants of the polar regions are in total light or in 

36 Antiquity of the Seventh Bay, Src. 

total darkness for many days and weeks together, 
they certainly cannot measure time by the natu- 
ral means by which we can. But admitting that 
they have no other mode of distinguishing days 
and weeks, so as to enable them to keep the se- 
venth day sabbath, it is by no means certain that 
their peculiar situation would prevent an institu- 
tion which regards the human race at large. A 
Baptist does not think that there is no such di- 
vine ordinance as that of baptism, (that is, in his 
opinion, the immersing the whole body,) because 
there may be a few instances in which persons 
making a credible profession of their faith could 
not be baptized without endangering their lives. 
Nor is it an objection to the existence of a, 
weekly sabbath by divine appointment, that no 
day whatever can at any time be wholly kept, 
because there is no one on which the occasion 
for ' works of necessity and mercy' does not 

To proceed. Another objection has been taken 
against the Deity's having appointed a particular 
day to be observed by mankind in general, from 
the present natural, and from the artificial modes 
of computing time, both ancient and modern. It 
is imagined, that the three first days not having 
been measured by the absence and the presence 
of the sun, as every day has been measured since, 
no seventh day subsequent to the first has a right 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day]w& 37>>^$> 

to sanctification, on the ground of being ks proper 
representative; not happening after apoi 
time equal to that after which the first seven! 
day happened, but after a space of time that was 
either longer or shorter. It is likewise imagin- 
ed, that all mankind cannot sanctify the return of 
the day which was the seventh day in Paradise, 
because some of them reckoning the beginning 
of their days, not from the beginning of darkness, 
but from either the noon before, or the midnight 
after, their seventh days commenced neither 
with that particular day, nor with each other. I 
shall have occasion to discuss these objections 
more fully, when I come to consider the ques- 
tion concerning the commencement of the week- 
ly sabbath according to Scripture. At present, 
I reply to the first of these objections, that there 
is no proof of the three first days of the first 
week being respectively different in length from 
the four days that followed them. The Deity 
knew when the twenty-four hours were complet- 
ed, as well without as with the sun, and there- 
fore could make them precisely of the same 
length as the others. It appears that he did so, 
by the sacred historian calling the three first 
days, as well as the four last, without noticing 
that the word was used in different senses. Con- 
sequently the first week did not differ in length 
from any one that followed* 

38 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, #c* 

As to the other objection, I reply, that men 
knew, at the beginning, that the commencement 
of darkness was the original sign of a new day's 
commencing, and that the commencement of the 
weekly sabbath was signified by the same sign as 
the commencement of any other day. They were 
able, and it was their duty, in their emigrations, 
to preserve the knowledge of the day, be it 
which of the seven it might, and likewise of the 
sign when a new day commenced. However 
lawful it might be for them to alter the com- 
mencement of the six working days, it does not 
appear that they were under any necessity, or 
that they had any authority, to alter the com- 
mencement of the seventh day sabbath. If any 
of the nations, through their own fault, or that of 
their ancestors, lost their reckoning, they were 
able to recover it by means of the Jews, among 
whom (as I shall show in the proper place) the 
knowledge of the true seventh day has always 
been preserved. 

Finally, the argument against the divine insti- 
tution of the Paradisaical sabbath, or at least 
against the obligation to regard it immediately, 
drawn from the supposed silence of sacred and 
profane history on the subject of its actual observ- 
ance, appears to me to be equally inconclusive. 
A law may have really existed, and may conti- 
nue to exist, even though no one should keep it, 

Antiquity of the Seventh Day, &?c. 39 

or ever have kept it. Besides, it does not fol- 
low, from there being no account of any one's 
keeping a law, that no one ever did keep it. 
Would it follow that there had not been a state 
of perfect innocence and happiness, if the Scrip- 
tural account of the means by which the fatal 
change was effected were wanting, and we 
merely knew (according to the Grecian fable) 
that the gold was become iron, without possess- 
ing any information how it became so ? Whether 
there actually be no records of a weekly sabbath 
having been kept, prior to the time of Moses, I 
shall not now inquire . The important advantages 
generally acknowledged (as already stated) to 
attach to such an observance to man and beast, 
to individuals and to society, both in a civil and 
in a religious view, show that it could not be 
postponed, without delaying for a time the holy 
and benevolent purposes of the Deity in the in- 
stitution, and without injury to his creatures in 
this lower world. The constant recurrence of 
the human mind, for instance, during twenty- 
four hours eveiy week, to the time when there 
was no visible world, and when the course of na- 
ture had no existence — to the depe'ndance of man 
himself, and of all around him, on the Divine Be- 
ing, had a wonderful tendency to compensate 
. the disadvantages of not, for the most part, be- 
holding him present and acting 5 and if this was 

40 Antiquity of the Seventh Day, fyc. 

the case while man was often favoured with visi- 
ble, or at least audible, manifestations of the 
Deity, and had no temptations either internal or 
external, such as he at present meets with, to 
disregard the Supreme, how much more was it 
so, when these manifestations were in a great 
measure withdrawn, and when ( the carnal mind 
was enmity against God/* 

Though these considerations would never in 
all probability have occurred to man, or proved 
the occasion of his keeping a weekly sabbath of 
his own accord, either at the beginning of time 
or afterwards, yet they abundantly justify the 
Deity's instituting one to be kept on the last day 
of the week, declare his intention respecting its 
immediately taking effect, and show that it was 
the duty and interest of man, as well as practica- 
ble for him, to comply instantly with the will of 
his Maker, even if he did not comply with it. 

* The topics just adverted to were at first the only ones 
that could engage his attention ; but in consequence of the 
fall, others infinitely greater became interesting to him, and 
happily for him, had a real existence. It is remarkable, that 
prior to human apostasy, there was no act of religion founded 
on Revelation prescribed to man, except that of sanctifying 
the seventh day weekly, unless the negative one of abstain- 
ing from eating of the tree of knowledge, may be accounted 



Differences of Opinion concerning the Regard 
paid by the Patriarchs and the Gentiles to 
the Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 

It is not known, I believe, what the opinion of 
the Jews . who lived before our Lord's time was, 
concerning the conduct of the Patriarchs prior to 
Moses, and that of the Gentiles, relative to the 
weekly sabbath. But some of them since, in 
conjunction with the oldest Christian Fathers, 
and not a few great and good characters in mo- 
dern times, have (it is said) expressed it to be 
their sentiment, that the ancients had no sab- 
bath. The chief reason assigned for their think- 
ing so is, that there is no account of such an 
observance, either in sacred or in profane his- 
tory. This alleged silence, however, is denied 
by Dr. Jennings, and others as respectable for 
learning and piety — perhaps for number, as 
their opponents 5 and I own that I am of their 

I have already observed, that there being no 
instance recorded of a law's having been obeyed, 
cannot disprove the existence or importance of 
the law itself, where there is sufficient proof of 
both. That this is really the case of the institu- 

42 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, 8rc. 

tion (Gen. 2. 2, 3.) relative to the seventh-day 
weekly sabbath, I distinctly showed in the last 
Chapter. It was there proved, likewise, that 
obedience was practicable, and that it was the 
duty and the interest of man instantly to obey it. 
This suffices for establishing the obligation, whe- 
ther it was regarded or not. But the apparent 
non-observance of a law may be owing to the 
want of records. What an infinite multitude of 
' facts must have existed, of which there is no re- 
cord ! The history of barbarous ages and coun- 
tries, and particularly ancient history, are almost 
blanks for want of such records. What a varie- 
ty of causes may prevent their having been writ- 
ten, or occasion their loss or destruction after 
they were written ! Silent, therefore, as history 
may be on the subject, it is reasonable to suppose 
that that was really clone, which, considering the 
circumstances, it was reasonable to do; and this 
is. the case respecting obedience to a law like 
that of the weekly seventh- day sabbath, which, 
as has been shown, really existed, and which, 
being noways impractiblc, it was both the duty 
and interest of man on whom it was enjoined to 
obey. With respect to our first parents before 
the fall, I do not see how their non-observance 
of the sabbath, at that tin^e, could be compatible 
with the state of innocence which they must then 
be supposed to possess. 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, S?c. 43 

With regard to there being no mention in the 
two oldest books in the Bible (those of Genesis 
and Job) of the Patriarchs' keeping the sabbath, 
the concise manner in which they give the histo- 
ry of between two and three thousand years for- 
bade their noticing any weekly routine, such as 
this would have been, except something extraor- 
dinary and of general interest occurred in it; and 
that an extraordinary occurrence of importance 
enough to the world at large to deserve inser- 
tion in such a narrative was not very likely to 
happen on that occasion, the experience of every 
individual and of every Christian society that ob- 
serves or records whatever passes on the sabbath 
that is singular and of moment, sufficiently 
proves. He who carefully peruses the account 
of pious characters contained in the books under 
consideration, will see that no act of religion 
is told concerning any of them, except some- 
thing remarkable attaches to it. Thus we are 
informed, more than once, that 'Abraham built 
an altar unto the Lord/ because he did it in a 
foreign and in an idolatrous country, or because 
he did it near a new place of abode. At other 
times, the piety of the Patriarchs is recorded, 
on account of its being uncommon, and on ac- 
count of the peculiar regard paid to it by the 
Deity. For the want of some such extraordi- 
nary circumstances I imagine it was, that after 

44 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, S?c. 

Abel's death there is not a word said concerning 
the religion of any of the Antediluvian Patri- 
archs, except Enoch and Noah, though no one 
doubts, I suppose, that they were pious. The 
memoirs of most godly men, not only in the 
books of Genesis and Job, but also in other parts 
of Scripture, were not intended, like those in 
modern biography, to give complete views of re- 
ligious characters, and therefore omit many par- 
ticulars concerning them, which, however inte- 
resting in a private, domestic, or local view, were 
not of general importance. In fine, though so- 
cial worship is thought to have been early and 
commonly practised by the Patriarchs before the 
flood, yet nothing of it was known from Inspira- 
tion, (except the words e then began men to call 
upon the name of the Lord' were intended to in- 
dicate it,) till the Second Epistle of Peter and the 
Epistle of Jude were written; nor would these 
have noticed what they do of Noah and of Enoch, 
had they not been led to do so by the resem- 
blance of many professors of religion in their 
time, to people who lived in the time of the 
aforesaid Patriarchs,* 

* The sabbath is seldom mentioned in the Old Testament, 
even after the time of Moses. In the days of the most pious 
rulers the Jews ever had, such as Joshua, Samuel, David, 
Solomon, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, it is never no- 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 45 

The non-existence of any nation professing 
the true religion prior to the time of the Jews, 
(for the subjects of Melchisedec, ' Priest of the 
Most High God/ were little more than a tribe,) 
and consequently of an opportunity for celebrat- 
ing the weekly sabbath by numerous assemblies 
performing divine service on the day, is stated as 
another objection to the idea of the institution's 
having been regarded in the infancy of the world. 
But I must remark, that however important a 
nation may be to the keeping a sabbath with 
eclat, it is by no means necessary to the keeping 
one at all. The same thing in substance may 
take place where there is only a tribe, though 
with an appearance far less striking. Nay in a 
single family there may be social prayer and reli- 
gious instruction, by means of reading, address- 
ing, and conversing. In short, an individual 
may worship God in retirement, and direct his 
thoughts, words, and actions, to piety, through 
the day appropriated to religion, privately, when 
he cannot manifest a spirit of devotion publicly; 
and though private devotion cannot have the 
magnificence and splendour which often accom- 

ticed as being personally regarded by them but twice, 
namely, in the 42nd and 92nd Psalms. The few other times 
at which it is mentioned seem to have been only because the 
public and the nation were concerned; 

46 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 

pany public worship, yet it is not less suitable or 
essential, under God, to the sanctification of a 
day, than the other. f Cast down' as c the soul' 
of the Psalmist David might be ' within him' 
when he could not e go to the house of God with 
the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude of 
them that kept holy-day/ there is little doubt 
that in the spiritual state of mind in which he 
appears to have been at this time, he kept the 
sabbath full as well for the purpose of devotion, 
though not of comfort, in his constrained absence 
from the tabernacle, as when he was favoured 
with an opportunity of approaching the 'holy 
oracle/* In fine, as little force seems to me to 
be in the objection to the actual observance of 
the weekly sabbath by the ancients, taken from 
the supposed impossibility of its being kept by 
the Israelites, when they were c in the house of 
bondage/ Admitting that the Egyptians knew 
nothing of such a day by tradition, (the contrary 
to which is asserted by a host of writers,) or that 
knowing of it and keeping it themselves, their 

* The observations that have been made respecting the 
practicability of sanctifying the sabbath before the time of 
the Jews, are as applicable to the mode of worship under 
the Patriarchal, as to that under the Christian dispensation. 
For there were private sacrifices, and sacrifices offered up in 
families, as well as public and national sacrifices. 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, &C. 47 

avarice and inhumanity, though to their own de- 
triment, would not allow their unhappy slaves to 
do the same, this compelled secularization of the 
day would have been only 'a work of necessity;' 
it would not prove that the disposition of the 
oppressed people could not be devotional, or that 
they did not manifest such a disposition, so far as 
they had opportunity in secret and in conversa- 
tion. No one who observes the first day now, 
thinks that the Christians after the apostolic age, 
and before the time of Constantine the Great, did 
not keep it, notwithstanding Bishop White tells 
us that most of them were employed by their 
heathen masters, on that day, in digging mines, 
rowing galleys, draining marshes, and in every 
kind of mean and laborious service. 

The remarks hitherto made, proceed upon the 
ground that the silence of history respecting any 
regard paid by the ancients to the weekly sab- 
bath, is absolute and total. But I must now 
observe, that there are various circumstances 
which strongly indicate, that the Patriarchs be- 
fore the time of Moses did really keep the se- 
venth day sabbath. After what has been said 
concerning the evidence of its institution by the 
Creator, and his intention that it should be re- 
garded immediately, agreeably to what might be 
expected from the conviction generally prevalent 
of the importance of a weekly sabbath both to 

48 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, ftc. 

man and beast, it may seem incredible that these 
pious men should not keep it, provided they 
knew of it. Now that they did know of it, can- 
not, in my opinion, be reasonably doubted, since 
it appears that they knew of the division of time 
into weeks. 

The frequent use of the period of days which 
compose a week in the Patriarchal history, as 
also of the number seven in preference to other 
numbers, in the case of animals, and in other 
cases in which a selection was wanted, cannot 
be satisfactorily accounted for, without supposing 
that there is a reference to the number of days 
employed in the Creation, which, with the divine 
institution of the sabbath, composed the first 
week, and was the origin of that division of time. 
Indeed the term week is expressly used (Gen. 
29. 27.) in the compact made with Jacob by his 
uncle, which would not have been, had not the 
word been intelligible and familiar to Jacob.* 

The most direct and positive proof, however, 
of the institution in Gen. 2. 2, 3. being observed 
by the Jews, and consequently by their ancestors 
the Patriarchs, from whom they must have de- 

* If week had originated in its being nearly the fourth part 
of a month, or in the moon's quarters, the term would have 
occurred in the Greek classics, as well as the terms month and 
year, which does not appear to be the case. 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, 8?c. 49 

rived the knowledge and practice of it, before 
the giving of the law from Mount Sinai, is con- 
tained in Exod. 16. at the time they were in the 
wilderness of Sin, being not yet arrived at Sinai. 
But as there are those who contend that the 
sabbath kept then was not on the seventh day 
which was the regular return of the day on 
which God rested in Paradise, I shall defer the 
consideration of this proof to a future occasion. 

1 proceed to inquire whether any regard was 
paid by the a ncient Gentile s to the seventh day 
sabbath. Even ir it was not, I have already 
shown that it was as much their duty and inte- 
rest to pay such a regard, as it was the duty and 
interest of that race of people, which, in common 
with themselves descending from Adam and 
Noah, composed the ancestors of the Jewish na- 
tion. But respecting their actual conduct, that 
is, whether they really kept it, or did not keep 
it, there is the same diversity of opinion among 
authors, that there is concerning the question 
which has justj been discussed. The same writers 
who with Dr. Jennings maintain that the Patri- 
archs kept the Paradisaical sabbath, maintain 
likewise that the Gentiles kept it; and I am of 
the same opinion — at least that they did so for a 
while. They had the same regard for the num- 
ber seven which the Patriarchs had, as appears 
from the number of altars, bullocks, and rams, 


50 Regard paid hy the Patriarchs, 8?c. 

which Balak the king of Moab prepared at the 
instance of Balaam. There is, therefore, the 
same reason for thinking that they knew of the 
division of time into weeks, with its origin, and 
were accustomed so to divide it, as that the Pa- 
triarchs had this knowledge and custom. Laban, 
who in the passage before quoted used the word 
week* in his conversation with Jacob, did not 
reside in the family or in the country of the 
Patriarchs Abraham and Isaac; he was also an 
idolater. Correct, therefore, as Dr. Wallis may 
be in his opinion, that among the Gentiles who 
were contemporary with the Jews in C anaan, 
the period of seven days, called a week, was ut- 
terly unknown, he is certainly mistaken in think- 
ing that they did not know it in the time of the 

Thus does it appear that the anc ient Gen tiles 
did know of the w eek, and that they respectST 
both it, and the number of which its days consist. 
This, however, it may be said they might do, 
without knowing any thing of the origin, name- 
ly, the six days employed in the Creation, with 
the divine institution of the seventh day sabbath 
at the close of them, or showing the smallest 

* The Hebrew word rendered week (Gen, 29.) is the same 
that is rendered so under the Jewish economy j nor is there 
any other for week in that language, except it be sabbath. 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, S?c. 51 

degree of sacred regard for that day. Let us, 
then, examine such remains of antiquity as tend 
to reflect light upon these latter points. Dr. 
Wallis thinks that Cfemens Alexandrinus, who 
lived toward the close of the second century after 
Christ, first collected these passages from the 
Greek writers ; but he could not have collected 
them all, if Dr. W. has enumerated all he did 
collect. What Clemens himself thought of the 
matter in question does not appear from the 
learned Professor. But according to him, this 
ancient Father roundly asserts that the Gentiles 
derived all their r eligious knowlerl g ^ from the 
Jews. Many, I believe, have avowed the same 
sentiment. I cannot say that this is my opinion. 
I think a distinction should be made between the 
persons and t hing s recorded in Scripture that 
existed b efor e, and those that existed after the 
time of Mose s, respecting the means by which 
the Greeks became acquainted with them. With 
regard to the latter, they most probably did owe 
their knowledge to their intercourse with Judea 
and its inhabitants. But it is as probable that 
they derived their knowledge of the former from 
tradition, the source of which must be looked for 
in the individuals who were their ancestors, as 
well as the ancestors of the Jews. They must 
have heard tell of many striking and interesting 
particulars through Ham and Japhet, as the He- 

52 Regard paid by the Patriarchs^ 8fc. 

brews did through Shem and his descendants. In 
this way they heard of Tubal- cain and Noah, 
of Japhet and Ham, whom they called respec- 
tively Vulcan and Fo, Japetus and Jupiter Ham- 
mon. Hence they became acquainted with the 
Creation, the state of innocence and happiness, 
the fall of man, the deluge, and the preservation 
of Noah and his family : which particulars are 
plainly referred to in their account of order rising 
out of chaos, and in the fables of the Four Ages, 
of Deucalion and Pyrrha, and of Saturn and his 
Three Sons, who divided the universe among 
them. From the same source, in my opinion, 
and not from the Jews, they derived their know- 
ledge of the division of time into weeks, with 
the cause of it, and the sacred regard due to the 
seventh or last day of the week.* 

* The defeat of the giants who attempted to scale heaven, 
as also the_ dethronement and expulsion from Olympus of 
Saturn, which make so conspicuous a figure in the heathen 
mythology, seem evidently to refer to the history of the apos- 
tate angels. But the knowledge of these particulars could 
not have been obtained by the ancient heathen from the 
Jews, the latter having no better means of knowing them 
than themselves j because the Scriptures in that stage of 
Revelation contained no information on the subject, I must 
observe, too, in general, respecting the knowledge supposed 
to be derived by the Gentiles from the Jews, that before the 
Babylonish captivity, it related to customs themselves, rather 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 53 

I now proceed to bring forward and examine 
the passages which the researches of the learned 
have succeeded in collecting from ancient wri- 
ters relative to this point. I begin by observing, 
that though Dr. Jennings, who is a firm believer 
in the regard paid both by the Patriarchs and the 
Gentiles to the Paradisaical sabbath, scruples not 
to affirm that the nations in general, during that 
period and afterwards, used to divide their time 
into weeks, he does not support his declaration 
by any testimonies. A little before him, Mr. 
Wright wrote much the same, not indeed of the 
seventh day in particular, but of what he calls 
the seventh part of time. Dr. Rees, in his Ency- 
clopaedia, under the word Week, has given us a 
number of authors, who all acknowledge the re- 
gard paid by the ancient Gentiles to the seventh 
day, though they differ from each other concern- 
ing the cause. Dr. Wallis, on the contrary, flatly 
denies that any nation divided time into weeks, 
except that of the Jews; and I must own, that I 
have not yet been able to discover any term that 

than to their origin ; it being difficult to get access to a copy 
of the Scriptures, or to find a Jew that could give informa- 
tion of their contents. It will appear, however, presently, 
that Hesiod, one of the earliest of the Greek; writers, knew 
not only the sacred character of the seventh day, but also 
something of the reason of it. 

54 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, $rc. 

is descriptive of that period of days, or that an- 
swers to the word week, in any Greek or Latin 
classic prior to the Christian era. On whichso- 
ever side, however, the truth lies, Dr. Wallis is 
certainly mistaken in supposing, as he does, that 
the Gentiles never knew of or had weeks, ad- 
mitting that they lost the idea and the use of them 
afterwards : for it is plain, as I have already 
shown, that the Syrians had them in the time of 
Laban, the Moabitesin the time of Balaam, and 
the Philistines at the time that Samson was mar- 
ried among them ; it being incredible in this last 
case, that the Philistines would have borrowed the 
period of seven days from the Jews, whom they 
hated and oppressed. 

The earliest writers from whom the quotations 
% alluded to a little before were taken, are Homer 
I and Hesiod. Both of them are commonly 
thought, I believe, to have been cotemporary 
with King David, about 1000 years before Christ: 
though Dr. Wallis represents Hesiod as being in 
the time of King Uzziah, nearly two hundred 
years later. Morer, a rector in London, who 
(A.D. 1701) published several c Dialogioeson the 
'Lord's Day,' which he dedicated to the Bishop 
of London, quotes more passages from the afore- 
said writers than any other whom I have seen. 
He also annexes to them, or intermingles with 
them., some verses relative to the point under 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, 8?c. 55 

discussion, from C allimachu s, who wrote about 
300 years before Christ. Unhappily, he does not 
assign to each his own expressions respectively. 
I shall translate them in the order in which he 
has given them, p. 102. 

'Afterwards on the seventh, the sacred day de- 

' The seventh day was. and all things had been 
finished on it/ 

'The s event h was sacred/ 

'And on the seventh morning, we left the 
stream from Acheron/ 

'And the seventh sacred day/ 

'And again the seventh, the bright shining of 
the sun/ 

' The seventh was among good things, and the 
seventh was the birth-day/ 

' The seventh is among the first, and the se- 
venth is perfect/ 

' The seventh indeed, on which all things were 

' And on the seventh morning all things were 

56 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 

• H Of these lines Dr. Jennings quotes two, the 
first and the sixth; the former, he tells us, is 
from Homer, the latter from Hesiod. He 
thinks, with me, that in consequence of the posi- 
tive institution of the seventh day sabbath at the 
end of the Creation, (the knowledge of which' 
in my opinion, as already explained, these earli- 
est writers, in common with the other ancients, 
obtained from tradition,) they knew of weeks, 
and accounted ' one day of the seven' more sa- 
cred than the rest. 

In order, however, to place in a true light the 
sense of these singular verses, and their bearing 
on the present question, it will be necessary for 
me to remark on the observations of my oppo- 
nents concerning them, and to add some of my 
own. Dr. Wallis quotes two other lines, after 
Clemens, from Hesiod, (and .they are the only 
lines he does quote,) which he renders thus: — 
p. 5. 
I ? Begin we with the First and the Fourth, and 
f the Seventh, a sacred day, because that on this 

*E(3£ofA.D ei» aya9o«7i, xat E/3Jbjui} tern ysttSXri. 
'E^ojjL-n tv vrpuTOHTi, y.<x\ !/3&>/ai) tern rt\etvi. 
€ £/3^0jt*aT>j $7), xxh rtrtr\ta-f/.t¥oi. iravrct rtrvKrau 
' £/3JbjbtaT»j ¥ viot TtriKettr airatra. 

Regard paid hy the Patriarchs, 8?c. 57 

day, Apollo, who has a golden sword, was born / 
of Latona/ 

Having cited the passage, he remarks (and 
Morer concurs with him, p. 149) that the seventh 
was not the only da y which Hesiod notices as 
worthy of distinction, and also that he is speak- 
ing not of the days of the week, but of the days 
of the month, as appears from his noticing 
afterwards the e leventh , twelth, and other days. 
But though the statement of these learned men 
is correct and pertinent, yet it concludes nothing 
against the argument of Dr. Jennings. It does 
not deny, that the seventh day, which Homer 
calls ( s acre d/ is the seventh of the week; and 
even if the day called sacred by Hesiod was the 
seventh of the month, it is remarkable that he 
gives that epithet to none of the other days 
which he distinguishes. The epithet, too, is 
repeatedly given to that day. It is easy to con- 
ceive, how an epithet which the heathen applied 
at first to the seventh day of the week, might 
afterwards be transferred to the seventh of the 
month — especially if any of them had lost (as 
they seem to have done in a course of time) the 
knowledge of weeks, and the custom of reckon- 
ing by them. As to the first and fourth days 
which Hesiod mentions with respect, as well as 
the seventh, which he calls sacred on account of 
its being the first day of Apollo, [the sun,] and 

58 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 

consequently, according to the fable, of Diana, 
[the moon,] when it is considered that light was 
created on the first day, that the two great sour- 
ces of it to this earth are represented to have 
been ' made' on the fourth day, and that the se- 
venth day was set apart for sacred purposes by 
the Deity in honour of and for commemorating 
the Creation, of which light and its two great 
sources are such eminent and important parts, 
the statement of Hesiod can scarcely be looked 
upon otherwise than as an allegorical account of 
the facts just mentioned, and as confirming in- 
stead of overthrowing the supposition, that the 
heathen had heard of the institution of the se- 
venth day sabbath by tradition, and for a certain 
time paid this respect to it. The observation, 
therefore, of Morer, that the priests of Apollo 
called him by a Greek name which signifies 
seventh day born, is not adverse to the aforesaid 
reasoning; for though the sun was 'made' on 
the fourth day, his birth might very well be kept 
or celebrated on the seventh day, according to 
the Scriptural narrative. With respect to the 
divine worship performed on the first, fourth, 
and seventh days, being, as the same poet tells 
us, at length transferred to Jupiter, it is possible 
that my reader will wonder as little at that 
change, as that the sacred regard paid at first to 
the seventh day of the week, should afterwards 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs , Sec. 59 

be transferred to the seventh day of the month. 
Without the natural supposition that has been 
made, there is no way of accounting for the pre- 
tended birth-day being fixed to the seventh day 
of any period rather than to any other day; nor 
is the transfer more extraordinary, than that the 
celebration of Apollo's birth-day should be 
monthly, (if it was so, and not weekly,) rather 
than annual. 

Plutarch, according to Bishop White, men- 
tions in the life of Theseus, (who lived in the 
time of the Judges,) that the Greeks consecrated 
the eighth day, as also that the ' Roman s kept the 
ninth day. Both these days were, 1 suppose, 
days of the month. Certainly keeping either of 
these is different from keeping the last day of each 
week. But (as was said before) the practice of 
keeping a stated day at all, and so frequently as 
every month, might arise from their ancestors' 
knowing and keeping the seventh day sabbath 
originally; and it is not easy to account for the 
practice, though a deviation, on any other 

The most important expressions, however, in 
the lines that have been quoted are, that 'jhe 
seventh day is a perfect day;' that ' on it all 
things were finished;' and that it was f among 
the good things.' They resemble so strongly the 
words of the institution, (Gen. 2. 2, 3.) that their 

60 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 

reference to it cannot be doubted. Morer, as I 
stated before, does not tell us whether Homer, 
Hesiod, or Callimachus uses them, nor have I 
any means of ascertaining to which of these po- 
ets they belong. But supposing that they should 
be the expressions of Callimachus, the question 
will then be, how he came to use them. It is not 
likely that the tradition before mentioned conti- 
nued so long as his time, which was seven hun- 
dred years later than the time of the two former 
poets. He might indeed have gotten them from 
some ancient work or another, not now extant. 
But it will perhaps be thought most probable 
that he got them from the Septuagint. 

I am aware that there are those who fix the 
date of the celebrated Greek version of the Old 
Testament just mentioned, nearly one hundred 
years later than the time of Callimachus, who 
flourished in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphia, 
king of Egypt, about three hundred years before 
Christ. But if some such incident as that which 
is commonly believed, of the Jews having fur- 
nished that prince with a copy of the Bible and a 
translation of it into Greek, for his new library at 
Alexandria, did not take place, (though detached 
from the fabulous circumstances that have been 
added to it,) I cannot account for his singular 
munificence to them, (according to Josephus,} 
and the friendly connexion between his country 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 61 

and their's for *fi fty or sixty years at least, after 
the hostile proceedings of his father toward 
them. The idea is not incompatible with the 
opinion of those who think that the present Sep- 
tuagint did not originate with the copy in the 
library, but with the translation made many 
years after by the Alexandrian Jews. The copy 
in the library, too, might or might not be called 
the Septuagint; and if it did bear that name, it 
might be so called, not from seventy-two men 
being concerned in making it, which is the 
vulgar notion, but, according to the new senti- 
ment, from the Sanhedrim, which consisted of 
seventy elders, as having been procured by them 
for the king's use. 

This great and laborious writer (Callimachus) 
might, then, in my opinion, have easily seen and 
perused the Greek translation of the Old Testa- 
ment, since he resided at Alexandria many years. 
But supposing him to have gotten the striking 
expressions under consideration from the Septu- 
agint, it still remains difficult to account for his 
using them. It is not likely that he would have 
thus honoured and justified the weekly sanctifi- 
cation of the seventh day by the Jews, at the risk 
of surprising and offending his Grecia n country- 
men, if the general sentiment and practice had 
been wholly adverse to the expressions he 
adopts. Most probably, though the ancient tra- 

62 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, 8fc. 

% kjz~[ dition itself among the Gentiles had been long 
since lost, the effect of it continued, especially 
among the many nations that witnessed the con- 
tant observance of the seventh day sabbath by 
the Jews in the different places where they were 
scattered after the Babylonish captivity. Their 
idolatrous neighbours might not, in the time of 
Callimachus, be so hostile to it, as the Roman 
poets and philosophers showed themselves after- 
wards, and might even perform some supersti- 
tious rites of their own on the day. They per- 
haps retained the original service performed in 
honour of Apollo, or Jupiter, on the seventh day 
of the week, long after the cause of it was forgot- 
ten. Callimachus, therefore, in thus expressing 
himself, might be only supplying that defect, and 
could easily plead in his defence, if necessary, 
that the cause which he assigned was agreeable 
to the sense of the lines that have been quoted 
from Homer and Hesiod, and perhaps to the tes- 
timonies of some others now unknown. Should 
the remarkable passages in question be really 
Homer's or Hesiod's, and not Callimachus' s, they 
will, in my opinion, place the knowledge of the 
ancient Gentiles concerning the sacred regard 
due to the seventh day of the week, and also their 
actually paying it, beyond all controversy. 

The ideas I have hazarded, receive no small 
support from the declarations of Philo and Jose- 

Regard paid ly the Patriarchs, fyc. 63 

phus, who lived a short time after our Lord's 
ascension. Philo calls the seventh day sabbath 
1 the general feast of the world. [See Morer, p. 
10£j"And Josephus says, [Ibid, p. 162,] 'The 
laws established among us have been followed by 
all n ations; yea the common people have long 
since drawn our piety into imitation ; neither is 
there any^country, Greek or Barbarian, to which 
the rest of our sabbath day has not reached/ 

The extent to which the knowledge of the 
seventh day sabbath spread itself among the Gen- 
tiles, and the regard which was paid to it in some 
respects by them after the Babylonish captivity, 
were doubtless owing in a great measure to the 
Jews; but not so, for the reasons already given, 
the knowledge and respect which they had for it 
originally. They derived them from tradition, - 
which must have informed both them and the 
Jews of the existence of many remarkable per- 
sons, and of many important facts, long before 
the time of written Revelation, and independent 
of it, notwithstanding the impossibility of stating 
with accuracy which, and how many. They 
knew of weeks, and had them in use, when the 
Jews were in embryo; and the quotations before 
mentioned, and which indicate the sacred cha- 
racter of the seventh day, were some of them 
written at a time when it was not easy to get ac- 
cess to a copy of the sacred books even in the 

64 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, &c. 

original, or to find any one that could give infor- 
mation from them concerning the origin of their 
customs.* Nor indeed was either of these means 
necessary: for why should not the Gentiles know 
that from tradition, which the Jews themselves 
did, who, as I shall have occasion to show in the 
next Chapter, knew of the seventh day sabbath 
before they heard of it from Moses ? Yet the tra- 
dition, or rather the effect of it, was most proba- 
bly preserved and extended, if not renewed, 
among them, by intercourse with the Jews, and 
by their example. It needed these helps, as well 
as that of worshipping the Deity, or of offering 
sacrifice; nor did it experience much greater 
mutilations and corruptions, than those which 
fell to the lot of the others. 

Before I conclude these remarks on the dif- 
ferent opinions relative to the regard paid by the 
Patriarchs and the Gentiles to the seventh day 
sabbath, I wish to make a few on the name 
which the seventh day of the week usually bears 
in modern times. The English historian, Rapin, 
affirms that its present name, Saturday, was im- 
ported into this country by the Saxons, and that 
they called it so in honour of their God, Satur, 
whom, as he tells us, they worshipped on that day. 
Nor do I see any cause to question the correct- 

* The beginning of the Jewish monarchy is here referred to. 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, 8?c. 65 

ness of his assertion. For though it may be 
thought that they borrowed it from the Britons, 
(since the Welch at this day call Saturday by a 
word which signifies the day of Saturn,) yet if 
they had done so, they would most probably have 
borrowed the names of the other days from the 
Britons, which they certainly did not. 

But whence did the Saxons in Germany obtain 
their Satur and their Saturday? Not from the 
Romans ; for though the latter, as will be shown 
presently, resembled them both in the name they 
gave to the day, and in their practice on it, yet 
in their wars with Germany they never reached 
the north , where the Saxons resided. The Saxon 
custom, therefore, must have a different origin. 

To speak first of the Romans: — Whence did 
the Romans derive their Saturn? Not from the 
Greek X/>o»o?, [Chronos,] to which it bears no re- 
semblance, though the latter is constantly tran- 
slated by the former, and understood to be the 
same deity.* True as it may be in general that 
the Latin language was formed from the Greek, 
it is plain that this word Salurnus, among many 
others, had a different source. Most likely, it 
was imported from some other country near Italy, 

* The Greek word for Saturn is Kpono,- ; but he was always 
considered as the emblem of Time, however X came to be 
exchanged for K. — See Rees's Encyclopaedia, Art. Saturn. 

66 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, fyc. 

not from Greece. It is more than probable, 
that the origin of the Saxon god Satur, was the 
same with that of the Roman Saturn. 

There was a particular day at Rome kept sa- 
cred to this deity; as appears from the following 
lines of Tibullus, who lived in the time of Au- 
gustus Caesar ; — 

' Aut ego sum causatns aves, aut omina dira, 
Saturni aut sacram me tenuisse diem.' * 

Lib. I. Eleg. ill. ver. 18. 

That this sacred day recurred weekly, and was 
the same with the Saturday of the Saxons, (ac- 
cording to Rapin,) and with the modern Satur- 
day, is proved by the following circumstance. 
Dion Cassius, an historian of the third century, 
according to Dr. Wailis, in his .'Defence of the 
Christian Sabbath/ p. 64, calls the seventh day, 
on which the Jews, from a mistaken principle of 
religion, refused to defend themselves against 
the Romans, by the name of Saturday. This, 
then, must have been the day referred to by Ti- 
bullus; for it is incredible that the Romans 
should call two days by the same name, or that 
since the time of Tibullus they should have 

* ' I assigned as the cause, either that the birds, or un- 
favourable omens, or that the sacred day of Saturn, detained 

He gar d paid by the Patriarchs , frc. (yj 

transferred the name to another day without a 
reason ; the time also being so short. 

Thus does it appear that there was a God of 
the name of Saturn worshipped by the Romans 
on the weekly sabbath kept by the Jews, which 
they called from him Saturday , before the Chris- 
tian era, and by the Saxons also, under the name 
of Satur. The question is, then, Who was this 
Saturn ? The sense of the word can only be ob- 
tained from the Greek word Kronos or Chronos, 
which . the Romans consider as answering to it. 
The Greek word signifies Time, and the Romans 
represent him as the son of Ccelus and Terra; 
that is, of the Heaven and of the Earth. Time, 
therefore, the division of which into night and 
day took place first after God created the heaven 
and the earth, was worshipped by the Greeks, Ro- 
mans, and Saxons, independently of each other, 
and that from a period immemorial : for though 
the Romans did. not exist till between seven and 
eight hundred years before Christ, and the 
Greeks were only about four or five hundred 
years earlier, yet there is reason to think that 
the custom originated, not with them, but with 
those from whom they respectively descended. 
There is no reason to doubt the antiquity of the 
custom among the Saxons or their ancestors, if it 
existed at all among them in Germany 3 and the 
evidence seems to me (as noticed before) to pre- 

68 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, S?c* 

ponderate in favour of that opinion — particularly 
since the expressions sennight and fortnight, 
which we still retain, and which were derived 
from them, contain manifest vestiges of a tradi- 
tion among them, that alight originally preceded 

On what day the Greeks worshipped their 
Chronos is not known. But if the day ditfered 
from that on which the Romans and the Saxons 
worshipped the same God, it is not wonderful that 
civilization should in some cases (as the lines 
quoted from Hesiod intimate that it did sooner or 
later) corrupt that which the simplicity of barba- 
rism had long retained. The Romans and Saxons, 
then, if not the Greeks, worsh ipped Time on the 
s eventh da y, weekly — the day which (as I shall 
show afterwards) the Jews kept — the day which 
God consecrated for celebrating and commemo- 
rating the beginning of time — the day which di- 
vided time into those useful periods of it, which 
we call weeks. 

I am not ignorant that Saturn has been thought, 
by some to signify Noah, He bears, indeed, 
some resemblance to Time, being the father of the 
new world, as the other commenced with the old 
one ; and whether in the old or new world, all 
things happen during the progress of time. In 
the time of Noah, too, almost every living thing, 
rational or irrational, perished, as Time is said to 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, S?c. GO 

be the devourer of all things. Still the Greek 
word Chronos, which the Romans translate Sa- 
turnus, does not mean Noah, but Time; and 
though the Greeks (and the Romans too, probably 
in imitation of them) suppose him to have had 
three sons, as Noah had, 1 never understood that- 
the Saxons imagined this of their Sdtur, whom I 
have spoken of as the same Deity with Saturn, 
being so like him in name, and worshipped on 
the same day. Upon the whole, I consider the 
three words in question as originally and princi- 
pally indicative of Time, notwithstanding the 
name and family of Noah have been by some 
attached to him, because of the resemblance be- 
tween them in certain particulars. 

Let no one wonder that Hesiod (as before 
stated) should represent Apollo, [the Sun,'] and 
not Chronos, [Time,] as being worshipped on 
the seventh day. Apollo might possibly have 
supplanted Chronos or Saturn, as he himself, ac- 
cording to the same writer, afterwards gave way 
to Jupiter. Whether the Romans who worship- 
ped Saturn on the seventh day in the time of Au- 
gustus, according to Tibullus, had constantly de- 
voted that day to him from the time they were 
first a people, cannot be known. As Dion Cas- 
sius, in the passage before referred to, writing in 
Greek, most likely calls the day Chronos' s day, 
(and not literally Saturn's day, or Saturday — so 

70 Regard paid by the Patriarchs, See. 

Dr. Wallis renders the phrase,) the Greeks had 
possibly caused Jupiter to restore that throne to 
Saturn, which their fable states to have been 
taken from him by Jupiter. 

With regard to the origin of the word Chronos, 
or Time, it would, I believe, prove useless to in- 
quire. With respect to Saturn or Satur, by 
which the Romans always translated it, it ap- 
pears to me to have been derived from one of the 
great northern languages, as these perhaps were 
from the Hebrew, which was likewise the parent 
of the Greek. There have been various conjec- 
tures concerning the root from which Saturn or 
Satur sprang. One of them, 1 believe, makes the 
Hebrew term Satan the primitive. The de- 
thronement of Saturn, according to the heathen 
mythology, by Jupiter, whom it represents as the 
Supreme Deity, favours the supposition that 
Time, the most ancient of its gods next to the 
Heaven and the Earth, had been confounded witli 
the leader of those < angels, who kept not their 
first estate.' The name, indeed, of the arch- 
apostate does not occur in the Scriptures till the 
time of the patriarch Job, many ages after the 
Son of the < Heaven and the Earth' who was dei- 
fied must have existed. But it might have been 
known by tradition from the time he deceived 
our first parents, as Jannes and Jambres, who 
withstood Moses, were, though not mentioned in 

Regard paid hy the Patriarchs, 8?c. 71 

Revelation till the apostle Paul's time ; and thus 
have rendered it possible to confound him with 
the God Time. The alteration from Satan to Sa- 
tur or Saturn, might be occasioned by mistaking 
one Hebrew letter for another, and is not much 
greater than the alterations of many Hebrew 
words written in Greek, or of Greek words writ- 
ten in Latin. 

Such are the circumstances which indicate the 
knowledge and observance of the seventh day 
sabbath to have existed among the ancients, whe- 
ther Patriarchs or Gentiles. They are certainly 
not sufficient to prove the reality of the institu- 
tion ; but they are neither brought forward nor 
wanted for any such purpose — that being abun- 
dantly manifest (as 1 have shown) from Gen. 2. 
2, 3. if there be any meaning in words. They 
are brought merely to show that the silence of sa- 
cred and profane history on the subject of the an- 
cients' knowing and regarding it is by no means 
so profound and total as is commonly imagined. 
Indeed, not a few among the most sincere and 
zealous supporters of the first day's claim to sanc- 
tification, not deficient in learning any more than 
in piety, consider, as has been noticed before, the 
evidence of the Patriarchal sabbath, or at least of 
the seventh part of time, having been always and 
generally, if not universally, kept, as decisive. 
But even those who think differently must ad- 

72 Regard paid hy the Patriarchs, Sec. 

mit the probability of the Patriarchs' keeping it, 
from their knowledge of weeks — as also of the 
ancient Gentiles' knowing it by means of tradi- 
tion, and of their respecting it for a while, and 
of the effect continuing extensively after the tra- 
dition itself was lost. Such a probability is abun- 
dantly sufficient where no proof at all was want- 
ed, which is the case relative to the actual observ- 
ance of the seventh day sabbath : for the exist- 
ence of the law for it having been proved, its non- 
existence would not follow, were it even demon- 
strable that no one had ever kept it — much less 
when there is no evidence at all of its non-observ- 
ance, and where the appearances to the contrary 
are not few or inconsiderable. Strange and un- 
accountable as the defect of evidence concern- 
ing a particular fact may be, (though in the case 
of the seventh day sabbath having been kept an- 
ciently, the defect, as I have shown, may in a 
great measure be accounted for,) it will not 
justify the rejection of another fact, the reality of 
which does not rest upon the former, and which 
can be proved beyond all reasonable doubt. At 
the same time I must observe, that the evidence 
of the former fact, defective as it may seem, is not 
more imperfect, than the evidence adduced in 
favour of the miraculous parts of the Old Testa- 
ment from ancient fable and history, which 1 my- 
self, in common with every lover of the Holy 

Regard paid by the Patriarchs, S?c. 73 

Scriptures, peruse with pleasure. Yet are the 
imperfections of the external evidence no less 
strange, or difficult to be accounted for, than the 
defect of the other : but happily, the Old Testa- 
ment does no more want the support of the one, 
than the institution of the seventh day sabbath at 
the end of the Creation, wants the other. 


Differences of Opinion concerning the Seventh 
Day observed by the Jews as the Weekly 

No one, so far as I know, doubts that the day 
kept by the Jews in the Wilderness of Sin, (Exo- 
dus 16.) was the same with that, the weekly 
return of which was afterwards ordered to be 
kept by the Fourth Commandment. But it has 
been asked, What seventh day w T as this ? Was it 
the same in rotation with the seventh day which 
was appointed in Paradise for the weekly sab- 
bath, or was it a different day? — No one, I 
believe, ever questioned its being the same, prior 
to our Lord's ascension. There is no notice 
given in Exodus 16. of its being a different se- 
venth day; and the reason assigned in the Fourth 


74 Day observed by the Jews 

Commandment for the divine institution of it 
being precisely the same as that which is stated 
in Genesis 2. 2, 3. naturally leads to the conclu- 
sion that both signify the same seventh day in 
succession. Moses, who wrote both, would, as a 
faithful historian, have provided against the dan- 
ger of confounding them, had they not been the 
same, since in reading the latter, it is impossible 
not to advert to the former. Josephus, in his 
Antiquities of the Jews, speaking of the institu- 
tion in Genesis, states that as the cause of their 
observing that day of the week which they then 
kept and still keep as the sabbath. It is not to be 
thought that he would have done this, had he en- 
tertained any idea of a change in the days of the 
week before the Israelites entered into the Wil- 
derness of Sin, or in the epoch whence the se- 
venth days were computed. In a word, all who 
think that the passage in Genesis is only an anti- 
cipated account of what really did not take place 
till the Jews left Elim, of course consider the 
books of Genesis and Exodus as referring to the 
same seventh day in rotation. 

The opinion just stated is, I believe, the pre- 
vailing one among the generality of Christians. 
But as some able writers have maintained a dif- 
ferent sentiment, it will be proper to examine the 
grounds of it. It seems chiefly to rest upon the 
idea, that the seventh day preceding that on 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 75 

which no manna fell, [see Exodus 16.] and which 
the Jews were both ordered to keep, and did 
keep, as a sabbath, was spent in travelling : and 
it is supposed that God would not have allowed, 
much less have directed, this, had it been a sab- 
bath. I know not, however, why he should not 
direct them to travel from Elim to Sin on the 
sabbath, as well as direct them afterwards to tra- 
vel round the walls of Jericho on the sabbath. 

In the former Chapter of this Work, I men- 
tioned that the children of Israel, when enslaved 
in Egypt, had it in their power to keep the sab- 
bath mentally and in private conversation, if not 
in a public manner— provided they were so dis- 
posed. It does not, however, follow that, what- 
ever some might do, the bulk of them were so 
disposed: the contrary is by far the most pro- 
bable supposition. In that case, the general 
practice of the duty would be revived and re- 
stored at one time or at another; and this seems 
to have been done, on the occasion of the man- 
na's descending. It is no more wonderful that 
the Divine Being should defer the renewal of the 
practice to this time, instead of calling for its 
revival the moment they set out on their march, 
than that he should defer the manifestation of his 
displeasure against Moses for not circumcising 
his sons, till he was on his return from Midian to 
Egypt, or his order for circumcising the new race 

76 Day observed by the Jews 

of male Israelites, till they had crossed the river 

The injunction for keeping the sabbath upon 
the occasion of the manna's falling is introduced 
too abruptly for a new institution, to which the 
Jews were strangers. It is spoken of to them as 
a thing known. The people expressed no sur- 
prise, when they were reminded that e to-morrow' 
was 'the feast of the Lord.' When it is said, 
' The Lord has given you the sabbath/ there is no 
reason assigned for it, as it is natural to expect 
that there would have been, had it been given 
them for the first time, and as was actually the 
case when the sabbath was instituted in Para- 
dise. Whatever, in fine, the statute and ordi- 
nance which God is said toward the close of Exo- 
dus 15. to have made for the Israelites at Marah 
might be, it is not represented to have been the 

Dr. Jennings, in his Jewish Antiquities, vol. 2. 
p. 150, conjectures, that at the first passover, 
the beginning of the week was changed, as well 
as the beginning of the year, and that its days 
were anticipated, the sixth becoming the seventh, 
and the original seventh day becoming now the 
first day of the week following. According to 
him, therefore, the Jews observe the sixth day of 
the week in order from the Creation ; and the 
Christians, in keeping the first day, keep also the 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 77 

return of the very day which God rested upon, 
and appointed to be the weekly sabbath — the day 
which he thinks, as well as I, was observed both 
by the Patriarchs and the Gentiles. But he pro- 
duces no passage of Scripture in support of this 
conjecture, nor do I know of any writer that 
agrees with him in it. It has indeed too much 
the appearance of being founded on a wish to 
support the obligation to sanctify the first day, by 
the original obligation to sanctify the clay before ; 
a wish as unnecessary as vain, if the first day be 
really a sabbath appointed by the authority of the 

Nor is there better reason for doubting, with 
Dr. Wallis, whether the day which the Jews 
were ordered to keep was the same seventh day 
in rotation with that which was consecrated at 
the end of the Creation, on account of accidents 
that might change it, any more than on account 
of the supposed probability of its having been 
changed with design by the Deity. The learned 
Doctor does not venture to deny the possibility 
of the true reckoning having been preserved to 
the giving of the law : he only thinks it incredi- 
ble. Pie however assigns no reasons for this sup- 
posed incredibility. Perhaps they are, the long 
period of 2500 years that intervened between the 
Creation and that time— the want of means for 
keeping records among the ancients — and the 

78 Day observed by the Jews 

changes to which mankind, individually and 
socially, were peculiarly subject in the early 
ages. It should, however, be recollected, that 
long as the period in question is, it is but a few 
hundred years more than the period which has 
elapsed since the destruction of Jerusalem, dur- 
ing which neither Jews .nor Christians have 
wanted for emigrations, persecutions, and revo- 
lutions; yet, though Dr. W. expresses himself 
doubtful whether the present Sunday, and con- 
sequently the present seventh day, kept by Chris- 
tians in general, or by the Jews, be the same 
in regular succession with the days that were 
named the Jirst or the seventh at the time our 
Lord rose from the dead, I never heard that any 
one concurred with him in his doubts. As to 
the want of records among the ancients, allow- 
ing that there were none of any kind, (which 
cannot be proved,) the want was compensated 
for two thousand years by tradition, in a way 
that it has never been since ; the tradition hav- 
ing to pass through so few generations, and 
the opportunities of recurring to the person 
with whom it originated being so frequent : the 
tradition in particular respecting the sabbath, 
the origin of the institution, and the division 
of time into weeks to which it gave rise, had 
to pass through four or five individuals only 
between Adam and Moses, Besides, however 


*> .»> 

as the Weekly Sabbath. l\_ K ?*>^ 

deficient the ancients in general might be re- 
specting the possession, transmission, or preser- 
vation of records, the First Book of Chroniclfcsfe^ 
and other parts of Scripture show that there was 
no want of them among either the antediluvian 
or the post-diluvian Patriarchs; nor can any 
genealogies equal to their's in length of period, 
in detail of important circumstances, or in com- 
pleteness, be produced among the Gentiles, at 
least since the Christian era. I see no reason, 
therefore, for thinking it improbable that the 
Patriarchs and their cotemporaries, between 
Adam and Moses, should know of the week and 
the sabbath, or that they should retain them cor- 
rectly, especially the week — at least in that line 
of ancestry from which Moses descended. The 
preservation of the right week w r as sufficient 
for securing or recovering the sabbath: and 
though Dr. Wallis positively asserts that none 
except the Jews knew of the division of time 
into weeks, it has been proved from Genesis 
29. 2/. that the Gentiles knew of it once, how- 
ever they might forget it afterwards, as they 
did the sabbath in some important respects, the 
origin and design of sacrifices, and the worship 
of the true God. No diary of private or public 
transactions that I know of exists, or is judged 
necessary, to prove the constant succession of 
weeks in the proper order, either among the Jews 

80 Day observed by the Jews 

or the Christians, from our Lord's time to the 
present moment : — why should any be called for 
to prove it from the first man to the days of the 
Jewish lawgiver? I cannot but think that Dr. 
Wallis is unreasonable in doubting, without as- 
signing any reason for his doubts, in a case, the 
possibility of which he does not deny — that his 
doubts tend to universal scepticism, so far as an- 
cient history is concerned — and that this part of 
his argument is no less hostile to the divine in- 
stitution of the day for which he professes himself 
to be an advocate, than to the claim of that day 
to sanctifi cation which he opposes. In my opi- 
nion, there is no fact in history more certain! than 
that of there having been no change whatever in 
the days or the weeks since the Creation. The 
idolatrous Gentiles readily acquiesced in the ideas 
of the Jews and Christians on the subject during 
the second century, if they were ever ignorant or 
differently minded respecting them. There has 
never been any dispute between the Jews and 
the Christians, or among the Christians them- 
selves, either in the same country, or in different 
countries, about the beginning or the ending of 
the week, and which was the first or the last day 
of it. The Blessed God on Mount Sinai states 
the same reason for sanctifying the seventh day, 
which was stated for it in Paradise; and had any 
accident happened between the two eras to 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 81 

change the day, he both could and would have 
corrected the error, to prevent a day's being 
kept, to which the reason assigned for its observ- 
ance was not applicable. 

Upon these grounds, therefore, I see no cause 
for dissenting from the general opinion in mo- 
dern times, and which I believe to have been 
universal before our Lord's ascension, that the 
seventh day kept by the Israelites in the Wilder- 
ness of Sin, and enjoined a short time after in the 
Fourth Commandment, was the very same in 
rotation with the seventh day which the Divine 
Being consecrated in Paradise, and consequently 
that it was no new institution; but, like the other 
nine commandments, only a solemn repetition 
of what was, and always had been, a law from 
the very beginning. I am happy in agreeing in 
this particular with the bulk of Christians in 
this country, so far as I am able to judge from 
documents very generally approved of among 
them. The Protestant Dissenters avow the sen- 
timent I have been maintaining, by the answer 
returned in the Assembly's Catechism to the 
question relative to the day appointed by the 
Divine Being to be the weekly sabbath before 
our Lord's time, from the Creation; and the 
Church of England state the same in their Ho- 
mlly on Prayer. 

82 Day observed by the Jews 

Before I close the evidence of the Jews' hav- 
ing observed the weekly return of that seventh 
day on which the Divine Being rested, I must 
briefly notice the objection made to it by some, 
on account of the miracle recorded in the book 
of Joshua of the sun's standing still a whole 
day, which they suppose to have transferred the 
former seventh day to a different day. This 
by no means necessarily follows. Suppose the 
miracle to have happened at three o'clock in 
the afternoon on a Tuesday : when it ceased on 
Wednesday afternoon at the same time, there 
was no necessity for calling the day Tuesday in- 
stead of Wednesday, since, according to the sa- 
cred narrative, it was known how long the 
miracle lasted. Nor was it called otherwise 
than by its proper name, [Wednesday,] as ap- 
pears from the reason assigned in the Fourth 
Commandment for the enactment of the seventh 
day sabbath continuing unaltered : for the reason 
would have ceased to be applicable, had the for- 
mer seventh day now been called the sixth, and 
consequently the sabbath not been kept till the 
day after. 

Having thus shown that the seventh day no- 
ticed in Exodus 16. and in the Fourth Com- 
mandment, was the same in regular succession 
from the seventh day which the Divine Being 
sanctified in Gen. 2. as being the day on which 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 83 

he rested at the close of the Creation, I wish to 
make a remark or two on the phraseology and 
meaning of the Fourth Commandment itself. 
Mr. Wright asserts, in substance, that the terms 
of the Commandment are expressed so indefi- 
nitely as to suit any nation or age of the world, 
let it keep which day of the seven it may. This 
would be the case, were there nothing in it ex- 
cept the general expressions seventh day and 
sabbath. But the words used in connexion with 
them effectually confine them to a definite and 
precise meaning. The e seventh day/ which is 
the e sabbath day* that is to be ' remembered to 
be kept holy,' signifies only that seventh day 
which the Jews knew of, and which they were 
in the habit of keeping already. Their uniform 
conduct ever since shows that they understood it 
to mean the last day of the week, and that only; 
nor did they think that they were at liberty to 
exchange it for any other of the seven, under the 
pretence of having equally laboured the six pre- 
ceding days. Mr. W. himself, I should imagine, 
would be obliged to admit, that if they had dared 
to act differently, they would soon have paid 
dearly for their presumption. But if their sense 
of the precept was correct, no age or country has 
a right to understand it in a different sense; for 
a law cannot — at least ought not — to have two 
senses. Even the repeal of a law cannot alter 

84 Day observed by the Jews 

its meaning. The partial repeal of a law will 
indeed alter the original sense of it ; but the 
change would necessarily require an alteration of 
the expressions in the law, and in that case the 
law. would become a new one. While its terms 
continue the same as ever, the meaning must 
continue the same as ever. 

The expression, therefore, ' sabbath day/ in 
the last clause of the commandment, which the 
Lord is said to have 'blessed and hallowed/ 
could not be understood by the Jews, at the time 
they heard it delivered, to be any ot!;er day than 
the seventh or last day of the week; and of 
course not by any one else justly, in a subsequent 
period of time. But if the former clauses of the 
commandment had not prevented its ambiguity, 
the words in connexion must have infallibly 
done so, since they confine it to the last day of 
the week; for it was the seventh or last day of 
the first week on which God rested, and which 
he blessed and sanctified, and no other. 

If this commandment did not bind the Jews to 
the observance of the last day of the week exclu- 
sively, there is no other that did. It likewise 
consecrates the seventh part of time merely in 
consecrating that day : so that if the sacred cha- 
racter of the latter had ever ceased, that of the 
former must have ceased with it. If the seventh 
dav sabbath had been repealed before our Sa- 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 85 

viour's time, the Jews would not have been 
obliged to keep any other on the ground of the 
Fourth Commandment, whatever they might 
have been obliged to do on the ground of reason, 
or of a new institution. 

Finally, there is no other difference between 
the Fourth Commandment and the institution in 
Genesis 2., than the account contained in the for- 
mer of the mode in which the sabbath was to be 
sanctified. The advanced state of society, com- 
pared with what it was at the beginning, re- 
quired this. It checks the inordinate love of 
gain, and inculcates the exercise of humanity to- 
wards all dependants, whether rational or irra- 

It may now be asked of what use it is for us 
to know that the day enjoined on the Jews, at 
Mount Sinai, was the same in succession with 
that which was hallowed at the Creation. I an- 
swer, that it appears hence not to have been 
necessary for the apostles to tell the Gentiles to 
keep the day, in order to render the keeping of 
it a duty incumbent on them. It was their duty 
to keep it, as well as to keep the other nine com- 
mandments, whether they were commanded to 
do so by the inspired missionaries of Christ, or 
not. If they had forgotten the day, or were in 
the habit of neglecting it, (as too often happens 
with respect to the other commandments,) or if 

86 Bay observed by the Jews 

they had showed any reluctance to return to the 
observance of it, it might have been necessary for 
the apostles to remind them of their duty. But 
there seems to have been no occasion for this, so 
far as can be judged from the testimonies of Jose- 
phus and Philo, already quoted, concerning the sa- 
cred regard felt by the nations for the seventh day 
at that time — the very great probability that they 
were in the habit of worshipping some false God 
or another (Saturn perhaps) on that day, in 
consequence of the ancient tradition once among 
them, though now lost — and the readiness with 
which the { religious proselytes' coalesced with 
the Jews in that practice. So far as can be 
learned from the New Testament, in order to 
the converts from among the Gentiles keeping 
the seventh day, it was only necessary for the 
apostles not to forbid it. Whether they did 
forbid it, I shall not at present inquire.* 

It cannot be denied, however, that there are 
certain expressions in different parts of the Old 

* The sarcasm of the Latin poet, Horace, on the sabbata of 
the Jews, relates not to their weekly sabbaths, but to their 
new moons (tricesima). The Romans might call them Sabba- 
tarii, or Sabbath-men, in derision, not because they kept a part, 
but because they kept the whole of the seventh day. This 
seems likely from Seneca's charge against them, of wasting 
one day weekly in idleness. 

as the Weekly Sabbath, 87 

Testament, which appear at first view to prove 
that the Divine Being intended to confine the 
sanctification of the seventh day to the Jews. 
These I shall state fairly, and give them all the 
force in the argument to which they are enti- 

In Deuteronomy, it is said that the Jews were 
commanded to keep the sabbath day, because 
they had been ( strangers and bondmen in Egypt/ 
Were there no other reason assigned elsewhere 
in Scripture for the injunction, this statement 
might be thought decisive in favour of the pre- 
cept's belonging to the Jews only. But the 
Fourth Commandment itself gives a different 
one, and one that relates to all the rest of man- 
kind as well as to the Jews. Nor is the one rea- 
son incompatible with the other. For a com- 
mandment may be binding on an individual on 
the same account for which it is binding on 
others, at the same time that it is binding upon 
him for a reason peculiar to himself; and that 
without releasing others from their obligation to 
obey it. The particular obligation which the 
patriarch Joseph was under to dutifulness toward 
his father Jacob, did not confine the obligation to 
him, exclusive of his brethren and all others who 
have parents. Beside, the consideration men- 
tioned in Deuteronomy enforced only that part 
of the commandment which related to rest from 

88 Day observed by the Jews 

labour, on the part of their servants, the stranger 
within their gates, and their cattle, as well as on 
their own part : it did not extend to sanctifying 
the day, that is, to setting it apart for God, or 
for religious purposes. For the reason of this 
injunction, recourse must be had to that which 
is given in the Fourth Commandment, and 
which belongs not only to the Jews, but to all 
other nations. 

Again : the day ordered to be kept holy in the 
Fourth Commandment has been considered as 
merely Jewish, on account of its being placed at 
the head of feasts which are agreed on all hands 
to be peculiar to the Jews, and which are enu- 
merated Lev. 23. The reason of this, I conceive, 
was, the resemblance it bore to them in its gene- 
ral nature, being, like them, a positive institu- 
tion and a religious feast. But in its cause and 
object it did not resemble them at all. It did 
not proceed from any thing that regarded the 
Jews only, as they did ; since it arose from the 
Divine Being's resting after the Creation. Nor 
was it directed, like them, to an object which 
would cause it to terminate with the Jewish 
dispensation, namely, to the death of Christ; 
since it was instituted before the fall of man. 
The obligation to sanctify the seventh day no 
more becomes a part of the ceremonial law, on 
account of its association with Jewish feasts, than 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 89 

fornication became a part of it, because of its 
being mentioned (Acts 15.) in conjunction with 
participating in things offered to idols, things 
strangled, and blood ; or than the Fourth Com- 
mandment, which is positive, becomes strictly 
speaking moral, and therefore unrepeatable, in 
consequence of being inserted in a code of law 
that is properly speaking moral. 

A third argument brought to prove that the 
day kept by the Jews was intended for them 
solely, is the supposed rigour of its restrictions, 
and the peculiarity of the penalties annexed to 
the breach of it. But with regard to the for- 
mer, it should be remembered, that though the 
Jews were forbidden on that day to light a fire 
or to dress food in the Wilderness, they might 
not be so restrained in Canaan, nor even in the 
Wilderness, under any extraordinary circumstan- 
ces, such as cold, sickness, &c. Necessity or mer- 
cy might not require those works of them, which 
they do of us ; and works of these kinds only are 
now lawful on the sabbath. Our Lord did not 
treat the restrictions of the seventh day sabbath 
as rigorous; he merely condemned the super- 
stitious additions which the Jews had made to 

As to the extraordinary penalties annexed to 
the breach of the commandment, they were no 
other than the punishments which were inflicted 

90 Day observed by the Jews 

on the transgressors of almost, if not quite, all 
the other nine. Yet who is there that thinks 
that the other nine precepts of the Decalogue 
were obligatory solely on the Jews ? 

The grand argument, however, for supposing 
that the Fourth Commandment — at least that 
part of it which enjoins the sanctification of the 
seventh day, and which is imagined to be sepa- 
rable from the rest, was designed exclusively for 
the Jews, is taken from the latter end of Exodus 
31. and from different passages in the Prophecy of 
Ezekiel, where the seventh day sabbath is point- 
edly and repeatedly spoken of as intended to be 
a sign to distinguish them from the Gentiles, 
and to be a memorial throughout their genera- 
tions. These passages, understood literally, and 
detached from the rest of the Old Testament, 
certainly do naturally and powerfully suggest the 
idea just stated. But I must observe, that if 
they do really confine any part of the Fourth 
Commandment to the Jews, they confine the 
whole of it to them, and not a part only ; for 
the divine declaration is equally made, and in a 
manner equally peremptory, concerning every 
part, as it is concerning any part. There is not 
the smallest ground, in the texts alluded to, for 
detaching the seventh day sabbath from the rest 
of the commandment, and supposing that only to 
relate to the Jews. The day kept by the Jews 

as the Weekly Sabbath, 91 

at the time that the Fourth Commandment was 
given, and the reason assigned for the command- 
ment's being given, confine the words * seventh 
day' to the last day of the week ; so that if that 
day be not now referred to in the Fourth Com- 
mandment, no other day can be referred to. 
Supposing the seventh part of time abstractedly 
to have a right to sanctification, its right must 
stand on the ground of reason, not on the ground 
of the expression f seventh day' in that com- 
mandment. The unavoidable inference is, that 
Christians have no more concern with any part 
of the Fourth Commandment, than they have 
with the Passover; and therefore cannot with 
propriety introduce it into their speeches or 
writings as a precept binding upon them, or 
pray to God to incline their hearts to keep it. 

If, on the other hand, it be thought reasonable 
to introduce any consideration foreign to the 
natural import of the passages, for the sake of 
showing that a part of the Fourth Command- 
ment, though not the whole, relates to us and is 
binding on us, (an object which, as has been 
shown, is unattainable, on account of the exclu- 
sive meaning and the indivisibility of the com- 
mandment,) it is equally reasonable to adduce 
considerations for the purpose of showing that 
no part of the commandment was given to the 
Jews for a sign between them and other na- 

92 Day observed by the Jews 

tions, in such a sense as to exclude the Gentiles 
from participation in it, and from obligation to 
keep it. 

Such considerations I propose to bring for- 
ward. But before I do it, I wish to remark a 
little more at large on the justice and tendency 
of the distinction usually made in modern times, 
between one part of the Fourth Commandment 
and another. I say in modern times, because I 
believe that the distinction was never made be- 
fore our Lord's ascension, any more than that it 
was ever supposed, before that time, that the 
seventh day which the Jews observed in the Wil- 
derness of Sin, was different from that which 
was the seventh day of the week, reckoning in 
order from the Creation. The distinction is 
this — that the Fourth Commandment is partly 
positive or ceremonial, and partly moral; the 
former part only of which, it is said, was given 
to the Jews for a sigh, and intended solely for 
them. The part referred to, is that which en- 
joins the sanctification of the seventh or last day 
of the week. All the rest of the commandment 
is imagined to form no part of the sign in ques- 
tion, as being moral, and on that account as be- 
longing to and being obligatory upon all mankind. 
I have proved, however, in a former Chapter, 
that the part (if such a part existed) in which 
the morality, the equity, or the spirit of the pre- 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 93 

ccpt is commonly made to consist, is no more 
moral than the part which is commonly spoken 
of as positive or ceremonial, if by the term 
moral something is meant that is a dictate of 
reason, and discoverable by the light of nature. 
In this sense, nothing is moral, except that some 
part of every day should be occupied in the wor- 
ship of God. Mere reason does not require that 
the time devoted to him should be the same 
time, or the same portion of time, one day as on 
another; much less does it require that he 
should be worshipped for a whole day together, 
and that once rather than twice a week, weekly 
rather than monthly, or on the same day of the 
week rather than on different days. With re- 
spect to domestic, social, and public worship, the 
only particular enjoined by reason (beside fre- 
quency in the last case) is, that it should be at 
such times, and for such a length of time toge- 
ther, as the persons independent of each other, 
who propose to engage in it, can agree upon. 
Even a ruler, in fixing the time arbitrarily for 
this purpose, when left to himself, would never 
think of devoting a whole day to religion in one 
way or in another at once ; and the part that he 
does order to be so devoted, returns annually at 
most, and not weekly, or even monthly. 

Reason, then, only calls for the setting apart 
some time by individuals each day for divine 

94 Day observed by the Jews 

worship, and some time on some days by bodies 
of men for social or public worship, leaving to 
them the choice of the hours and the days, pro- 
vided the worship be frequent. Whatever else 
it enjoins in this matter is contingent, being 
founded upon something that may or may not be 5 
for instance, that twenty- four hours together 
should be sanctified, and that the same should 
recur at stated periods* in case the Divine Being 
should be pleased to appoint both these by a po- 
sitive institution. Such contingencies, (while 
they continue to be contingencies,) and the ab- 
solute cases mentioned before them, are the only 
ways in which the Fourth Commandment can be 
conceived of, in order to its being accounted, 
properly speaking, moral. For though the ex- 
pression ' to keep holy* certainly signifies some- 
thing morale and nothing else, yet the morality 
of the commandment never can be made reason- 
ably or usefully to consist in that solitary phrase, 
since sanctification cannot possibly be reduced to 
practice, detached from specifying some person 
or some thing that is to be sanctified. 

Removing, therefore, that part of the precept 
which is supposed to be ceremonial, and to re- 
late to the Jews only, the sole part which re- 
mains, and is binding upon us, as strictly moral, 
is as follows: — 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 95 

■ Remember to keep holy such time or times 
as the Deity may have appointed, or shall ap- 
point, for that purpose. In it thou shalt do no 
manner of work, nor suffer work to be done by 
any under thy control, whether rational or irra- 

The precept now resembles that given to the 
Israelites to erect no altar for public worship, ex- 
cept in the place where the Lord their God should 
choose. It may with propriety be recited and 
acquiesced in, in all ages and places. It will 
possess a claim upon practice, whenever the 
Deity shall have appointed a time> but not else 3 
nor can it be known by the light of nature whe- 
ther he will ever appoint a time, if he has not 
appointed one already. Of course it can contain 
no reason for any appointment, because none is 
supposed to have taken place, and because every 
new appointment requires a new reason. I must 
add, that whenever a time is named, the precept 
will be no longer moral, but positive. 

Whether such a skeleton as the precept is 
now reduced to, so unnecessary, so abstract, and 
in that respect so unlike any of the other nine, 
ought to satisfy the mind of a real Christian, let 
the reader judge. For my own part, I should 
think that such a Christian would be shocked at 
thus altering and mutilating a divine command- 
men^ even in imagination* Can this adherence 

96 Day observed by the Jews 

to the morality of the Fourth Commandment be 
called retaining its spirit ? Would a human legis- 
lator allow any law of his to be thus treated ? 
But if the credibility of its having been reduced 
by Christianity to the state just described be yet 
insisted upon, still its actual reduction to this 
state remains to be proved from the New Testa- 
ment, as also the authority for substituting the 
new form for the old, without which there can 
be no Fourth Commandment for Christians. 
Even then the new Fourth Commandment would 
be useless in practice, except the New Testa- 
ment has named a weekly day for sanctifica- 
tion ; and in that case, the commandment is not 

The commandment, then, will stand thus: — 
c Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 
Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work : 
but the seventh part of time, or one day in seven, 
is the sabbath of the Lord thy God, &c. For 
the consecration of this part of time is requi- 
site for civil, moral, and religious purposes. 
Therefore the Lord thy God blessed the seventh 
part of time, &c.' 

If this be now the Fourth Commandment upon 
the authority of the New Testament, it commands 
something, it is true; but it is positive, not mo- 
ral; it is also a new commandment, and ought to 
be substituted for the former. 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 97 

I am sensible, indeed, that the advocates for 
dividing the Fourth Commandment into positive 
or ceremonial, and moral, include more in the 
moral part than I have done. They include in 
it the obligation to keep a whole day together — 
a stated day — and that every week. 

But I must repeat my denial of these ideas 
being moral as dictates of reason, any more than 
the sanctification of the seventh or last' day of 
the week is, strictly speaking, moral. Reason 
dictates nothing more on the Subject than what 
I have stated in a preceding Chapter. If the 
observance of either the seventh day or the se- 
venth part of time be termed moral, (to which, 
as I have stated, I have no objection,) it must 
be on grounds different from that which is usu- 
ally and properly stated as the ground of a law 
being moral — namely, that it is a dictate of 
reason, and discoverable by it. These grounds, 
as enumerated in that Chapter, are, — that it was 
discovered in the manner in which certain moral 
duties were themselves actually discovered — that 
is, by revelation ; — that it was discovered as early 
as any moral duty whatever ; — that it has a rea- 
son assigned for it, as every moral duty has a 
reason naturally and necessarily; — that the rea- 
son assigned for it relates to all mankind, as well 
as the reasons on which moral duties are founded ; 
— and, lastly, that it is inserted by the Divine 

98 Day observed by the Jews 

Legislator himself in the midst of a code deliver- 
ed solemnly as a moral code. But these reasons 
give the seventh day as good a title to sanctifica- 
tion on the ground of morality, as they do to the 
seventh part of time, and even a much better one, 
because they relate directly and immediately to 
the seventh day; whereas they relate to the 
seventh part of time, only in consequence of the 
former fact. 

It may perhaps be said, that though the obser- 
vance of one day in seven abstractedly be not a 
moral duty on the ground of revelation, it is so 
on the ground of reason ; since reason dictates 
that such a day should be kept, as conducive to, 
if not necessary for, the benefit of both man and 
beast. But it is not true that reason inculcates 
any such practice, separate from revelation.* 
The idea never occurred to man till lon<r after 
the Christian era, and most probably never 
would have occurred to him had it not been for 
revelation. There can be no doubt of its propri- 
ety, since the divine appointment of the seventh 
day sabbath :+ and the beneficial effect of a 

* See Chapter ii. 
t The seventh day of the week, Vfhich God appointed, is 
as fit for the purposes alluded to, as any other can be — and 
infinitely better for that reason, except he has been pleased 
to substitute auother for it. 

as the Weekly Sabbath, 99 

weekly sabbath has been felt both by the rational 
and irrational part of the creation ; but without 
such an appointment, the weariness often felt 
by too many, with the misapplication of lei- 
sure, and the fatal abuse of it in multitudes of 
cases, would induce mere reason to suspect the 
wisdom of consecrating twenty-four hours to- 
gether : neither would it be clear that one day 
in seven should be consecrated in preference to 
one in six, or in eight days; the week being 
made to consist precisely of seven days, and 
neither more nor fewer. Mankind are indebted 
for all these ideas to the positive institution of the 
seventh day sabbath by divine authority ; which, 
together with the six preceding days that were 
employed in the Creation, composed the first 
week : and whatsoever is thus founded on the 
revealed will of God, rational and agreeable to 
expediency as it certainly must be, never can be 
a dictate of mere reason. 

The seventh part of time, therefore, is no more 
moral on the ground of reason, than the seventh 
day itself; and though, as was said before, it may 
be called so in a qualified sense, on the ground 
of revelation, yet it depends on the seventh day 
for its title. The sanctification, then, of the se- 
venth day is not more positive than the rest of the 
commandment. The commandment is like our 
Lord's coat. i Let us not rend it.' < What God 

100 Day observed by the Jews 

hath joined together, let not man put asunder.** 
It is positive in every part, though not ceremo- 
nial— -if the term be understood judaically, as 
something that referred to Christ, and ceased at 
his death. The whole of the Fourth Command- 
ment must consequently be abandoned to the 
Jews as a sign, if any part of it be in reality ex- 
clusively their's ; and the whole must be read or 
heard by us, as we read or hear of circumcision. 
We must in this case look elsewhere in the word 
of God, and in no respect at this precept of the 
Decalogue, for the obligation on our part to con- 
secrate any day, and which day we are to conse- 

But it is now time for me to observe, that how- 
ever the sanctification of the seventh day did 
distinguish, or might be intended to distinguish, 
the Jews from the Gentiles, it does not appear 
to me to have been meant for them only. A se- 
condary and subordinate reason or end may ex- 
ist without detriment to the grand and primary 
cause or end. I have already assigned my rea- 
sons for thinking that the seventh day sabbath 
was instituted at the close of the Creation, that 

* The substance of the commandment is plainly this, that 
God would have us keep holy a particular day every week for 
a certain reason^ which reason applies to that day, and to no 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 101 

it was given to all mankind, and that they actu- 
ally paid a sacred regard to it for a longer or 
shorter time, in one way or in another. I have 
also given my reasons for thinking that the se- 
venth day kept by the Israelites in the Wilder- 
ness of Sin, (Exod. 16.) and that mentioned in 
the Fourth Commandment, were the same in ro- 
tation with that which was instituted in Gen. 2. 
2, 3. I must, therefore, of course think, that the 
seventh day in the Fourth Commandment was not 
peculiar, or intended to be peculiar, to the Jews. 
With respect to the phraseology used toward 
the close of Exodus 31. and that of some texts in 
Ezekiel's prophecy, 1 think that it relates entirely 
to the extraordinary mode of the original institu- 
tion being 'made known' (Nehemiah 9.) to the 
Jews, and to the effect it had in consequence of 
the forgetfulness, ignorance, and error of the 
Gentiles concerning it. The latter knew the se- 
venth day sabbath only by traditionary revela- 
tion: the former had, in addition, the benefit 
of a personal revelation. The Gentiles had, per- 
haps, few instances among them of spiritual bless- 
ings bestowed on that day : not so the Jews, 
among whom the pious were chiefly to be found 
under the former dispensation : the Gentiles 
forgot or misapplied it after a while. The Jews 
continued to observe it. In a word, those of the 
Gentiles who continued to pay any sacred regard 

102 Day observed by the Jews 

to it at all kept only a part of it, whereas the 
Jews spent the whole, externally at least, in re- 
ligious exercises, abstaining entirely from secular 
business, and refusing to take even the most ne- 
cessary measures for the defence of their liberty, 
if not of their lives, on that day, though the law 
of God did not require any such self-denial. 

What a singular appearance must this absti- 
nence and practice every week, through a whole 
nation, have presented to every foreigner who vi- 
sited the Jews while they resided in their own 
country, accustomed as he was to observe and to 
see observed the sabbath, of which a part only 
was occupied by the Heathen in sacred rites, 
as was the case with many other days which 
were kept by them! How peculiar must this 
weekly habit have been thought by surround- 
ing nations, whenever it occurred to their minds, 
or became the topic of discourse among them ! 
Above all, it must have given the Jews a strange 
appearance, after they were dispersed through 
the Gentile world, when the natives of each 
different country saw a large body of people in 
the midst of them doing nothing for a whole 
day together, except one religious act or ano- 
ther, and that weekly ! The censure of the Ro- 
man philosopher Seneca, before alluded to, 
concerning the supposed idleness of the Jews, 
ought scarcely to excite wonder. The rite of 

05 the Weekly Sabbath. 103 

circumcision, on account of which they were 
sometimes reproached, did not distinguish them 
from other nations, like the custom in question : 
for circumcision was practised by other nations, 
as well as by them. It was also a rite performed 
with comparative secrecy ; it occupied only a few 
moments, and occurred only once in a person's 
life. But the sanctification of the sabbath occu- 
pied a whole day every week, and that in the 
most public manner. No one could tell a Jew 
from another by any external appearance that 
circumcision gave him among men ; but all 
around him could not possibly avoid knowing 
what he was by his attention to the peculiarities 
of the weekly sabbath. The Gentiles must con- 
verse with him to know his principles, or go into 
the temple or the synagogue where he worshipped, 
to learn the nature of the public service he per- 
formed there : but to become acquainted with the 
distinction made by the sabbath between them 
and him, they had only to open their eyes, and 
view his proceedings, and his abstinences for a 
whole day together, every time that particular 
day returned, which was with every new week. 

The Jews, therefore, were indeed distinguished 
from all other nations, by the extraordinary man- 
ner in which the knowledge (Neh. 9. 14.) of the 
seventh day sabbath, as well as of the rest of the 
Decalogue, was communicated to them, and by 

104 Day observed by the Jews 

the spiritual blessings bestowed on it, which were 
chiefly experienced among them — by their uni- 
versal and continued observance of it — and par- 
ticularly by their devoting the whole day to 
religion. But these singularities do not prove 
that the other nations had no concern with the 
seventh day sabbath , any more than their not 
knowing the true God, or their not possessing 
the Old Testament by means of written revelation, 
or God's not having made known his judgments 
and statutes (even those contained in the moral 
law) supernaturalty to them, (by all which the 
Jews were also separated from them, as well as 
by the sabbath,) prove that they had no concern 
with, nor were called upon to regard any one of 

Such are the reasons that induce me to think 
the arguments brought to establish the exclusive 
obligation of the Jews to keep the seventh day 
holy insufficient, and unable to invalidate the 
contrary inference of its extending to the Gentiles, 
drawn from the evidence of the day observed by 
the Jews being the same in rotation with that on 
which God rested, and which he in consequence 
appointed to be the weekly sabbath . 

From this coincidence it follows, that the se- 
venth day sabbath is still obligatory upon man* 
kind, except it be repealed. 

as the Weekly Sabbath. 105 

A positive institution differs from a moral one 
In durableness of obligation only in this, that it is 
repealable, whereas the other is not. But the 
regard due to the former is as firm as that which 
is due to the latter, till it be repealed. That a 
repeal has actually taken place, may sometimes 
be known without a formal notice. This was the 
case of the Mosaic ritual, and of sacrifices. These 
were not only positive laws, but ceremonial. 
They were typical of Christ ; and therefore when 
the work and sufferings of the Great Antitype 
were accomplished, they would of course have 
ceased to be valid, even if no information had 
been given in the New Testament to that effect. 
But every positive law is not typical, nor does 
every one contain circumstances in it or about it, 
which show that it is intended to cease being in 
force after a certain period; and when it does 
not, its repeal cannot take place, without a formal 
notice to that purpose from the same authority 
that instituted it. This is the case of the seventh 
day sabbath. There is nothing in the law itself, 
as recorded in Genesis 2. or Exodus 20. that 
limits its duration to a given time, except it be y 
tli at it is the memorial of something temporary, 
namely, of the Creation. The law must, there-! 
fore, last as long as the world stands, except no-, 
tice be given to the contrary; and this notice 
will (as was said before) with the seventh fa$ 

106 Day observed by the Jews 

abolish the seventh part of time, which owes its 
obligatory power solely to the former, and will 
consequently need a new institution in order to 
recover it. 

1 cannot but observe, in conclusion, that the 
common expression 'Jewish sabbath,' if indica- 
tive of the seventh day sabbath belonging to the 
Jews exclusively, can only be proper in the 
event of a repeal having taken place with regard 
to the Gentiles, that confines the obligation of 
keeping it holy to the Jews : for it appears, from 
what has been said, that prior to such a repeal, 
the sanctification of it was no more obligatory 
upon them, than it was upon all other nations. 


Differences of Opinion concerning the supposed 
Repeal of the Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 

Were the sanctification of the seventh or last 
day of the week moral in the proper sense of the 
term, as a dictate of reason, and discoverable by 
the light of nature, it would not be repealable. 
For though an act usually moral may be dispen- 
sed with, or one of the contrary description be au- 
thorized or commanded occasionally by the An- 

Supposed Repeal, 8?c. 107 

thor and Preserver of those relationships on which 
morality depends, to answer some highly impor- 
tant purpose of which He alone can be the judge, 
(as the second marriage after the Creation — the 
attempted offering up of Isaac — and the con- 
nexions formed by the prophet Hosea with diffe- 
rent females,) yet it does not appear that these 
deviations could take place for a continuance, 
or that a moral disposition could be dispensed 
with in any instance whatsoever. But the law 
enacted in Paradise respecting the seventh day 
weekly sabbath has been shown (as the seventh 
part of time, had that been sanctified abstract- 
edly, would have been) to be a positive insti- 
tution, and moral only on account of certain 
extraordinary circumstances in which it resem- 
bles a moral precept ; it is therefore liable to a 

It is proper, however, to observe, that there 
are several considerations which render it not a 
little improbable that it would be repealed. The 
Creation, the completion of which was the occa- 
sion of its institution, will last till the end of time. 
The institution celebrates a work interesting no 
less to every other nation, than to the Jews ; to 
people living under the Christian dispensation, 
than to those who lived under the Patriarchal 
and Jewish dispensations. It is a work most 
magnificent, extensive, and perfect, as origin-ally 

108 Supposed Repeal of the 

made; splendid and beautiful, beneficial, and 
commensurate in duration with the present state 
of existence allotted to mankind, through an 
uninterrupted series of generations for several 
thousands of years. That an institution would 
be caused to cease many ages before such a work, 
the completion of which was the cause of it, and 
on account of which it had continued for four 
thousand years, or that that day should be set 
aside which is the only true and proper repre- 
sentative of the day on which the event took 
place whence sabbath derives its name, seems not 
very likely. There is as much need since the 
Christian dispensation, as there was before, that 
man should be reminded, weekly and appropri- 
ately, of nature's originating in something super- 
natural, and that this visible series of causes and 
effects was under the government and control of 
an intelligent, though invisible Being. Infinitely 
superior as Redemption is to Creation in diffi- 
culty, grandeur, and importance, it could not 
have existed without the other ; and as it has two 
ordinances for its commemoration, there seems to 
be no necessity for that purpose to deprive the 
other of the only one which has been appointed 
for celebrating its origin. The extraordinary 
sacrifices which the Jews offered on the seventh 
day in compliance with the divine command, and 
the offering of which was the principal act of 

Seventh Day Weekly Sab 

public religion by which they distinguished the 
sabbath from other days before the Babylonish 
captivity, plainly show, that attention to the Gos- 
pel is not unsuitable to the day : and most of the 
evangelical topics insisted upon by Christian 
ministers, relate as much to that day as they do 
to any other. In a word, there seems no utility 
in repealing the old sabbath to substitute another, 
since the latter would relieve from no burden, 
nor promote the ends of civilization, morality, 
and religion, better than the other. 

Notwithstanding, however, these presumptions 
against a repeal of the seventh day sabbath, it is 
by no means meant to deny the possibility of 
such an abrogation. The contrary has already 
been distinctly admitted. The sole question, 
therefore, is respecting the matter of fact, whe- 
ther the repeal has actually ever taken place. 
Here it will probably be asked, Who denies, or 
even doubts it? The Christian world at large 
has indeed for many centuries avowed that opi- 
nion. I cannot under this head, as under the 
former heads, produce authors of contrary senti- 
ments among the observers of the first day, before 
or since the days of Constantine the Great. 1 
cannot bring forward persons of this description, 
eminent for learning, piety, and station, in the 
Latin and Greek churches, or among the Pro- 
testants in the Establishment or out of it> who 

110 Supposed Rep eal of the 

have called in question the reality of the repeal y 
much less denied it. Yet the Christian world, 
though so generally in favour of the affirmative, 
has never been universally so: and though indi- 
viduals belonging to various descriptions of reli- 
gious people have not stepped forward to oppose 
the common sentiment, yet numbers of Christians, 
especially during the early ages, have ever op- 
posed it in practice, and some, within the two 
last centuries, in writing. Ever since the Re- 
formation, if not long before, they have compos- 
ed a body of themselves, and borne a distinct 
title; nor have they been without persons of 
considerable learning, piety, and property, 
though not so extensively known as those among 
their opponents. 

The reader will perhaps perceive, without 
difficulty, that I refer to the Christians called 
Sabbatarians, of whom I now proceed to give 
the following short account; premising that to 
these people I think it my duty to , attach my- 

The Sabbatarians derive their appellation from 
the peculiar tenet held by them concerning the 
Scriptural weekly sabbath, as being the last day 
of the week since our Lord's resurrection, as 
well as before it. They make their appearance 
in the history of the Church, as early as their 
Christian brethren who are of a different opinion 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. Ill 

from them in this particular. Their sabbath is 
said by the historians Socrate s and Sozomon to 
have been kept, in c onjunc tion with the first day, 
every where among the Christians, except at 
Rome and Alexandria, for upwards of three cen- 
turies.* Accordingly the seventh day and the 
first day are called Sisters by Gregory Nyssen. 
Strong remonstrances were made against not 
keeping both days by St. Ignatius and others, 
and penalties were ordered, by the Councils of 
Trullo and Laodicea, to be inflicted on clergy- 
men who did not observe both days as festi- 

At length Constantine, the first Christian em- 
peror, issued a proclamation about A. D. 321, in 
favour of the first day solely ;X which was follow- 
ed by several others similar to it. In conse- 
quence of these edicts, which strictly enforced 
the observance of the first day, without making 
the smallest provision for the seventh day, that 

* See Morer's Dialogues on the Lord's Day, p. 188, 189. 

t Ibid. 

$ According to Eusebius, Constantine ordered, in the same 
decree, the observance of the other days consecrated to 
Christ, to the Saints, and to the Martyrs. This he did, not as 
executing the decree of a council of which he was president, 
but without even calling one. — BampfieWs Inquiry, A* D. 
1692, p. 97. 

112 Supposed Repeal of the 

had hitherto been upon an equality with the 
other, the Sabbatarians, like all other religious 
bodies that found themselves aggrieved by impe- 
rial and ecclesiastical mandates, seem to have 
retired into Abyssinia;* for there, as Scaliger, 
and Brerewood, the professor of astronomy, in- 
form us, they still remained in the time of Queen 

Whither they retired in Europe, after the de- 
crees of Constantine, does not appear. But 
most probably, like many other bodies of people 
who could not in conscience accede to all the 
decisions of princes and councils on religious 

* According to Dr. Buchanan, in his Christian Researches, 
the Armenian Christians have always kept the seventh day 
sabbath, and still keep it. 

t There were, however, traces for many centuries in the 
Latin and Greek churches, of the sacred regard once paid by 
Christians in general to the seventh day sabbath ; as appears 
from the Magdeburg Centuries, and from Lucius's Ecclesiastical 
History. 7 See BampfieWs Inquiry, p. 90. Bampfield also 
refers to Brerewood and others to prove these facts. So late 
as A. D. 673 a general council was held at Constantinople, at 
which the Emperor presided, and Lega'ps were present from 
the Pope. The seventh day was ordered to be kept as a fes- 
tival, agreeably to the tradition and custom of the Church ; 
and if any one in the Church of Rome fasted on that day 
any more than on the first day, it was ordered that he should 
he deposed or excommunicated, according as he was a. clerk 
or a laick, p. 104. 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 113 

subjects, they took refuge in the valleys of Pied- 
mont.* From these they emerged, it would seem, 
about the beginning of the Reformation ; since, 
according to Bishop White, history associates 
them, in the time of Luther, with the people 
called Anabaptists, in Germany. Their state in 
England, during the seventeenth century, was 
sufficiently important to draw the attention of 
Professors Brerewood and Wallis, who wrote 
against them ; as also did White, Bishop of Ely, 
by the direction of Laud, Archbishop of Canter- 
bury. There were Sabbatarians among the 
Refugees who came over to this country from 
France. A century or two ago, there were se- 
veral congregations of Sabbatarians in London, 
and also congregations of them in many of the 
counties in England :f but their state in this 
country at present is very low. However, in 
the United States of North America, whither 
some of them went from England during the 
reigns of the Stuarts, they have greatly increased 

* Mosheim mentions two sects of Sabbatarian Christians 
among the Waldenses, &c. of the Alps and Lombardy, in the 
12th century. There were many, also, in Transylvania in the 
14th century. — Hubbard. 

t According to Hubbard, (an American writer,) there were 
nine or ten churches in England about A. D. 1668, beside 
many Sabbatarians that were not members any where, 

114 Supposed Repeat of the 

within these few years. One of their churches 
has nine hundred members. Another of them, in 
the year 1820, received an accession of one hun- 
dred and forty members in the space of seven 
months. Among their communities are two 
churches, the foundations of which were laid by 
persons from Germany and Scotland 5 from the 
former in 1720. 

With respect to their religious principles, so 
far as is known, they have always been, and still 
are, connected with that description of Chris- 
tians, which in this country bear the name of 
Protestant Dissenters, and more particularly 
with that denomination of them called Antipce- 
dobaptists, or Baptists, But they do not all hold 
the same doctrinal tenets, either here or else- 
where, any more than the other descriptions of 
Christians. Those to whom I belong are styled 
Particular or Cahinistic Baptists. Their creed 
may be found in the doctrinal Articles of the 
Church of England, and in the Assemblies' Cate- 

Having given this short account of the Sabba- 
tarians, I proceed, in their name and in my own, 
respectfully to state my reasons for differing 
from the Christian public on the question rela- 
tive to the repeal of the seventh day sabbath. 

Though the possibility of such a repeal cannot 
justly be denied, since a weekly sabbath can only 

Seventh Dai/ Weekly Sabbath, 115 

be, properly speaking) a positive institution, yet 
the considerations already adduced in support 
of its improbability are so strong, in my opinion, 
that it ought to be well substantiated, before it 
is supposed that the old sabbath can be quitted 
with propriety and safety. Let it not be said 
that a repeal was unnecessary either for Jews or 
Gentiles; unnecessary for the Jews, because 
their obligation to keep the seventh day ceased 
of itself when they ceased to ' dwell alone,* to be 
the peculiar people of God, and to enjoy extra* 
ordinary privileges, civil and religious ; unneces- 
sary for the Gentiles, as never having been sub* 
ject to the law, and as requiring only the non- 
existence of an injunction to keep it. In oppo- 
sition to such an objection, I have already shown 
that the Jews were bound to keep this law prior 
to its being given to them at Mount Sinai, and 
even if it had never been given to them at all ; or 
if they had never been distinguished from other 
nations by peculiar marks of the divine favour, 
I have also shown that the Gentiles were never 
exempt from subjection to it, since it was enjoin- 
ed upon our first parents and all their posterity 
at the Creation. They were, therefore, obliged 
to keep it, as well as the Jews, except they 
were told to the contrary by proper authority; 
and (as was said before) there was no need of 
the apostle's exhorting them to it. as there would 

116 Supposed Repeal of the 

have been in the case of a new duty, especially 
as there were subjects of far greater importance 
to them to be insisted upon. With respect to 
their ignorance or forgetfulness of this duty, 
the institution recorded both in Gen. 2. 2, 3. and 
in the Fourth Commandment, which they would 
find on searching the Old Testament, (as they 
were ordered to do,) and which the Jews every 
where supported by their example, was abun- 
dantly sufficient to remind them of it. Nor did 
they ever show any reluctance to comply with 
their duty in this respect, so far as can be judged 
from the Acts of the Apostles. 

Neither could the repeal be reasonably infer- 
red from the repeal of other laws at the close of 
the Jewish dispensation. For though the law 
relative to the seventh day sabbath was positive, 
it was not ceremonial. It had no reference 
whatever to Christ, and therefore did not, like 
the law of sacrifices, and many other institutions, 
terminate by his sufferings and death. It was 
not, like circumcision, binding only upon the 
natural descendants of Abraham, and conse- 
quently did not end, like it, when the Jews 
ceased to be the people of God exclusively. In 
short, a distinct, specific, and separate repeal is 
wanted, for the abrogation of the seventhly 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 117 

I now proceed to consider those passages in 
the New Testament which are thought to imply 
the repeal in question. The text which has most 
the appearance of it, is Colossians 2. 16. If, 
however, the word sabbaths in that verse is to be 
understood universally of all sabbaths, without 
exception, it must include the sabbath of those 
who oppose the Sabbatarians; for this sabbath 
must have existed at that time, supposing it ever 
to have existed by apostolic authority. If, on the 
other handj the observers of the first day consi- 
der the limitation of the term not inadmissible, 
the Sabbatarians have an equal right to consider 
the limitation of it not inadmissible.* 1 In fact, 
both parties do limit it; the former confining it 
to the sabbaths kept by the Jews, including the 
weekly sabbath, that was binding upon all other 
nations as well as upon them, the latter con- 
fining it to the sabbaths that were peculiar to the 

* The object of the Apostle seems to be, to relieve the 
Gentile converts from a burden. But how is the observance 
of the seventh day, in the manner inculcated by Christ, a 
greater burden than the observance of the first day would 
have been ? Neither is the seventh day sabbath more a sha- 
dow than any other medium of divine grace, compared with 
the blessings conveyed through that medium, or than the 
first day is. The institution of the seventh part of time 
is truly a shadow, of which that of the seventh day is the 

1 18 Supposed Repeal of Ike 

Jews — that is, to their monthly and annual sab- 
baths. The Sabbatarians ground their opinion 
on the context. The weekly sabbath is indeed 
sometimes mentioned in the law of Moses in 
conjunction with feasts peculiar to the Jews, 
because it was a positive institution and a festi- 
val, as they were ; but it never was a shadow, 
of which Christ was the body, as the new moons 
and all the ordinances of the ceremonial law 
were ; and therefore it is of these, and of these 
only, that the apostle shows himself to be speak- 
ing. With these holydays the seventh day sab- 
bath is not so much as connected here, nor had 
it any more to do with them than fornication 
had to do with ' things offered to idols, and things 
strangled, and blood,' though it is enumerated 
with them in Acts 15. The law of the seventh 
day sabbath, though positive, as that of any sab- 
bath cannot but be, (which has already been 
proved at large,) yet never formed a part of the 
ceremonial law of the Jews. It existed before 
man had any need of Christ; it therefore had 
no reference to the gospel, and was instituted on 
quite a different account. The Jews kept it, it 
is true j and so they kept, or ought to have kept, 
the other precepts of the Decalogue: but there 
is no more reason for thinking that this precept 
shared the fate of their peculiarities, than that the 
others did. It should also be recollected, that if 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 110 

the text under consideration be subversive of the 
seventh day sabbath, it is equally subversive of 
the sacred regard due to the seventh part of 
time; it is also subversive of the rest of the 
Fourth Commandment. For the holy character 
of the seventh part of time arises out of and de- 
pends upon the original institution of the seventh 
day ; and therefore no day will be left for us to 
keep holy : and any new sabbath by divine ap- 
pointment will stand upon its own ground en- 
tirely, independent both of the institution in Pa- 
radise, and of the Fourth Commandment. 

I may add, that if the passage in question re- 
pealed the weekly sabbath that was kept by the 
Jews, it would repeal a sabbath that was equally 
obligatory on the Gentiles. For it existed long 
before the time of the Jews — as early, indeed, as 
there was a human being to keep it ; and though 
it was delivered afresh to the Jews at Mount 
Sinai, so were the other precepts of the Deca- 
logue, which no one ever thought not to belong to 
the Gentiles, or to be repealed at the close of the 
former dispensation, as being Jewish. But the 
term sabbath in the commandment which God is 
said there to have blessed and hallowed, is the 
seventh day ; for so it is called in Gen. 2. 2, 3. to 
which the commandment refers. I have already 
shown in what respects it was a sign between 
the Jews and the Gentiles consistentlv with its 

120 Supposed Repeat of the 

being obligatory on the latter, and that the con^ 
trary supposition infers the abrogation of the 
whole of the Fourth Commandment, as well as 
of the seventh day sabbath.* 

As the term sabbaths, or sabbath days, (Col. 2* 
16.) is limited in its sense by the context, so is 
the word days, (Gal. 4. 10.) as also the applica- 
tion of the Apostle's remarks (Rom. 14.) relative 

* The ingenious and learned Dr. Wallis thinks that the 
trord sabbath, in the verse that has been considered, cannot 
possibly mean the monthly or annual sabbaths of the Jews, 
because the Apostle refers not to the Jews in their own coun- 
try, but to the Asiatic Jews, who, according to the law of 
Moses, could not keep them, not being at Jerusalem. But 
he forgets that these Jews were in the habit of repairing to 
Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, if not the other feasts ; 
and that possibly the evil which the Apostle wished to cor- 
rect was, in part at least, that they 'judged' their brother con- 
verts from among the Gentiles, for not taking the same in- 
convenient and hazardous journeys as they perhaps did. Be- 
sides, it is impossible for Dr. Wallis or for any one else to say 
that some deviations from the law of Moses might not be 
deemed lawful and necessary by the Hellenistic Je\vs> under 
their circumstances. This we know, that the Jews in Eng- 
land keep the Passover in some way, notwithstanding the 
restrictions of that law. That the Apostle, in Col. 2. 1G. has 
the ceremonial law of the Jews solely in view, seems evident 
from his expostulation with the Colossians a few verses af- 
terwards — ' Why are ye subject to ordinances ? (Touch not j 
taste not j handle not.)' 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbalh. 121 

to c keeping or not keeping a day to the Lord.' 
The context in both places shows that he is 
speaking, not of positive institutions exclusively 
by divine authority, but either of the Mosaic ritual, 
which though once binding on the Jews was no 
longer so, or else of abstinences and observances 
which the Divine Being has neither commanded 
nor forbidden. While, therefore, he casts no 
censure upon the religious observation of any 
day, be it what day it may, he does not mean to 
represent it as justifiable in any one to ' esteem 
every day alike' in opposition to a divine institu- 
tion, whether an old one, like the seventh day 
weekly sabbath, that had nothing to do with the 
Mosaic ritual, or with the Jews exclusively, 
and that remained unrepealed, or a divine in- 
stitution that was new. The explanation just 
given must be acquiesced in by every one who 
believes that there is a certain day of the week 
obligatory upon Christians to be sanctified as 
the weekly sabbath, whether it be the seventh, 
the first, or any other day; or, indeed, whe- 
ther the Scriptures name it or not : as, for in- 
stance, if they had merely instituted the seventh 
part of time abstractedly. I will add, that it is 
perfectly incredible that a day consecrated on 
so great an occasion — a day enjoined upon man 
as soon as he existed, and upon all his posterity 
without any distinction — a day, the reason for 


122 Supposed Repeal of the 

sanctifying which indicated that it was to conti- 
nue sacred as long as the creation lasted, and 
which was in itself as adequate to any holy or 
beneficial purpose as that of any other could 
be — a day, in short, the observance of which was 
as highly important as ever to the beast as well 
as to man, and to mankind at large both in a 
civil and religious view — should be dismissed in- 
directly by means of expressions so slight, gene- 
ral, and ambiguous, as those used in the texts 
that have been considered. 

Such are the reasons for which the Sabbata- 
rians feel compelled, in opposition to their 
Christian brethren, to deny the sufficiency of the 
texts that are relied upon to prove the direct re- 
peal of the seventh day weekly sabbath. I pro- 
pose now to examine certain circumstances 
which have been thought to amount to an indi- 
rect proof of it. The circumstances are — that 
the apostles never tell the converts, if Jews, to 
continue, or, if Gentiles, to commence keeping 
it — and that the inspired writers of the Acts and 
the Epistles record no instance in which Chris- 
tians, as such, held a meeting on it for a religious 
purpose, much less state that such a meeting 
was sanctioned by the presence of an apostle, 
and that he took a leading part in it. 

Before I reply to these observations, I beg 
leave to ask those who make them, whether they 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 123 

would deem them sufficient (admitting the cor- 
rectness of them) to set aside the old sabbath, if 
they did not think that there was a new one to 
substitute for it by divine authority ? For if they 
would not deem the observations adequate to the 
purpose for which they are made in the case 
supposed, neither ought they to deem them suf- 
ficient in the contrary case. I proceed to exa- 
mine the observations. 

The first of them infers the repeal of the se- 
venth day sabbath from the silence of the apostles 
about it, in addre ssin g the co nverts. But what 
occasion was there for the inspired missionaries 
to address persons concerning a law which they 
had always been under, which they knew they 
were under, which they were in the habit of 
obeying, and which they knew of no reason for 
not continuing to obey ? This was unquestionably 
the case of the Jews, and no less of the Gentiles, 
if the accounts given of them by the first- day 
writers, and which have been referred to before, 
may be depended on, so far as relates to practice, 
whatever might be their idea concerning the 
origin of their keeping the day sacred, and of the 
extent to which it was to be so kept. It was 
merely necessary for the apostles to forbid their 
hearers to keep it any longer, or to tell them 
that it was not requisite to begin keeping it. 
This might have been expected, had the sacred 

124 Supposed Repeal of the 

heralds intended to repeal it, since nothing had 
happened to make the people think of their own 
accord that it was repealed, the reason for the 
original institution continuing the same as ever. 
They really did this in the cases of sacrifice 
and circumcision ; though the last of these, be- 
ing given to the descendants of Abraham only, 
might be supposed to lose its claim to regard 
when they ceased to be a peculiar people — 
at any rate not to be binding upon any who 
never were the peculiar people; and the first 
ceased naturally the moment the Great Sacrifice 
was offered. 

So far, however, from a repeal being an- 
nounced respecting the seventh day sabbath, 
we find the inspired writers after Christ's as- 
cension uniformly continuing to call it by its old 
name, the sabbath day, without ever intimating 
that they only did so because the day had been 
or was still kept peculiarly by the Jews — and 
what is more, without ever giving the appella- 
tion to any other day. 

No one doubts that the Gentiles, when they 
became Jews, kept the seventh day as a matter 
of course, finding both the institution and the 
practice connected with the true religion reveal- 
ed in the Old Testament. Was it not natural 
for them to continue or to commence doing the 
same when they became Christians, except they 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 125 

were told, or had examples set them, to the con- 
trary? Why was it more necessary to tell them 
to do so in the latter case, than it was in the 
former? There is no proof that the apostles or 
the first Christians ever treated the seventh day 
as secular. The transactions at Troas certainly 
do not prove that Paul and the disciples did not 
keep the seventh day. There is not the slightest 
hint that the Gentiles at Antioch, in Pisidia, 
upon embracing Christianity, kept a different 
day from that which they kept while they were 
Jewish proselytes, or that they thought them- 
selves at liberty to renounce the seventh day, 
because they were not told to continue keeping 
it. Similar silence was observed at Lydia's con- 
version; yet there is no reason to think that she 
quitted the sabbath which she kept when she 
used to resort along with the other women to 
the river side. 

The apostles were too much occupied in urging 
the essentials of religion and of Christianity to 
preach upon the subject of the weekly sabbath, 
(which, however important, is only a circumstan- 
tial of religion,) except something extraordinary 
had called their attention to it. As the univer- 
sal and continued obligation of the seventh day 
sabbath was never disputed or resisted by any of 
the converts, it was sufficient to enjoin the study 
of the Old Testament, where they would find an 

126 Supposed Repeal of the 

account of it, if they needed it, both in Gen. 2. 
2, 3. and in the Fourth Commandment. Whe- 
ther the converts were from among the Jews or 
the Gentiles, they were made to understand that 
they were to regard every part of the Old Testa- 
ment, except the ceremonial law, and that which 
related to the political economy of the Jews; 
neither of which, as has been shown, excluded 
the weekly sabbath. 

The other indirect proof adduced in support 
of the supposed repeal under consideration is, 
that there is no case on divine record in which 
an apostle authorized, presided at, or concurred 
in, any religious act performed or to be perform- 
ed by Christians as Christians, or indeed of any 
Christian assembly being held for a religious 
purpose, on the seventh day. I reply, that it is 
not true that no religious meetings or religious 
acts of Christians, as such, are recorded as taking 
place on this day. We are told (Acts 2. 46.) 
that meetings and acts of this kind took place 
among them ' daily;' and if they took place every 
day, they of course took place on the seventh 
day. Nor does it follow that the seventh day 
ceased to retain the exclusive right to sancti- 
fication it had hitherto possessed, on account of 
religious acts being performed in Christian as- 
semblies on other days likewise. ' Breaking of 
bread/ too, is expressly mentioned as taking 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 127 

place 'daily;* on the seventh day as well as on 
other days: and there is as much reason to 
understand by it celebrating the Lord's supper 
in this text, as in Acts 20. 7«* 

But were the passage in Acts 2. 46. wanting, 
it would by no means follow that the Christians 
did not hold religious assemblies or perform 
ligious acts on the day in question, merely be- 
cause there is no account of them. It is not 
necessary to the proof of a law which was uni- 
formly regarded for ages continuing in force at 
a certain period, that examples of obedience 
to it should be produced during that period. 
It is enough that there were examples of it a 
little before — that there has been no notice of a 
repeal — and that nothing has intervened which 
justified the expectation of a repeal, or which, 
without such notice, tended to or warranted fu- 
ture disregard. It may be presumed that obe- 
dience to a law continues to proceed in its usual 
course, when nothing is stated to have happened 
to annul the obligation, or to interrupt the habit 
of obedience. It was the duty of the Jews, when 
they became Christians, still to keep the seventh 
day sabbath, and of the Gentiles, on their con'- 

* The word meat in Acts 2. 46. occurs also in Acts 47. 35, 
&c. where there is no mention of any thing, except of bread) 
and of ?p/<«<{, 

128 Supposed Repeal of the 

version, to commence keeping it, as they al- 
ways did, when they became Jewish proselytes, 
if they did not keep it before, (which it was 
their duty to have done, and which testimonies, 
as I have already shown, are not wanting to 
prove that they did in some way and to a certain 
extent,) except they were informed to the con- 
trary, of which there is not the slightest appear- 
ance. The mere change of dispensation was 
not adapted to release either Jews or Gentiles 
from an obligation which commenced at the 
Creation, and the reason for which was as weigh- 
ty and as universally interesting as ever — a rea- 
son which could not be affected by the recovery 
of man, because it existed before his fall. The 
sabbath in being was as much wanted after our 
Lord's death as before, for civil, moral, and reli- 
gious purposes ; and in the absence of any decla- 
ration to the contrary, seems as proper for pro- 
moting them as any other sabbath whatever. It 
was as proper in itself as has been before observ- 
ed, for explaining and applying the glorious facts 
and truths of the gospel, as any other day; as 
appears from the double sacrifices which the 
Jews used to offer on it, and from the religious 
services now performed on it by the Sabbata- 
rians, who expatiate as much upon the gospel 
on their sabbath, as the advocates of the first day 
do on their's. 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 129 

With respect to the authority for abandoning 
the old sabbath on account of no one of the great 
events, or of a particular event, not having taken 
place on it, no one, I suppose, will say that the 
converts would be justified in doing this as a 
matter of course, without a divine permission or 
injunction — especially since the events referred 
to for the most part no more happened on the 
first day than on the seventh, and since they 
were already commemorated and celebrated by 
two ordinances which Christ himself instituted ; 
whereas the Creation would be without any 
institution for its commemoration and improve- 
ment, if the seventh day ceased to be kept holy. 
That such permission or injunction exists, could 
not, for the reasons just stated, be anticipated or 
expected. There has been no proof of it hither- 
to, nor would the new sabbath be less burden- 
some than the former was, from the foregoing 

Since, then, the first converts had no cause to 
question, either from the nature of the case, or 
from any intimation given or act performed by 
an apostle, the continuance of a law that had 
existed from the beginning of time, and which 
was of universal obligation — a law which the 
Jews had always kept, and which there is very 
great reason to think that the Gentiles them- 
selves in some respects kept, (as it was their 

130 Supposed Repeal of the 

incumbent duty to do,) though they had probably 
forgotten the origin of it; there would be no just 
ground for supposing that the first converts had 
discontinued the practice, were the instance al- 
ready stated wanting, by which it appears that 
they met together and performed religious acts 
on the seventh day as well as on other days. In- 
stances are not wanted to prove the continuance 
of that which there was no cause for discontinu- 
ing. No inspired person ever secularized the 
seventh day, nor indeed any one else, so far as 
appears from the Scriptures. The silence of 
the sacred writers, therefore, on the subject of 
their keeping it, would not prove that they did 
not keep it, (since they say nothing to the con- 
trary,) eveft were it total, or not at all to be ac- 
counted for. But their silence has been shown 
not to be total ; and that it is so great as it is, 
may, in my opinion, be very easily and satisfac- 
torily accounted for. There is not any thing 
surprising in the supposition that the apostles 
might seldom or never be present at Christian 
assemblies held on the day in question. Their 
missionary character in general required their 
attendance at other places of public resort — par- 
ticularly at the synagogues of the Jews, on ac- 
count of the great opportunities afforded them 
at these times and places of diffusing the glad 
tidings of salvation more widely. In that case, 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 131 

the Christians might keep the day socially as 
well as individually, publicly as well as pri- 
vately, without any remarkable occurrence, es- 
pecially of a miraculous nature, taking place; 
the apostles, and perhaps not only they, but 
their disciples and s fellow- helpers/ and in gene- 
ral all others whose instrumentality was usually 
employed in working miracles, being absent for 
the reason just stated. Were this the fact, no- 
thing ever passed or happened at these meetings, 
except the routine of holy duties : and it could 
not be expected that any thing said or done by 
Christians, or any event that took place among 
them, except what was singular, of general in- 
terest, or of lasting importance, would be insert- 
ed in a work like that of the sacred historian 
Luke and the Epistles of the apostles, which 
was not intended for a diary or for minute details 
relative to particular individuals and churches, 
but to furnish a general view of characters and 
occurrences that were principally connected 
with the rise and progress of Christianity, 

Let no one think, that in supposing the absence 
of every thing extraordinary from the Christian 
meetings on the seventh day to have occasioned 
the silence of the sacred writers about them, I 
have been substituting hypothesis for fact. There 
is no one that doubts but the Jews kept the se- 
venth day between the death of Moses and that 

132 Supposed Repeal of the 

of Samuel. Irreligious as the Jews in general 
were, there were not wanting pious characters 
among them during that period — a period of be- 
tween four and five hundred years; yet we have 
no evidence of the fact that they did actually 
keep it. 

What can the silence of the sacred historians be 
owing to, but to the cause just mentioned ?* On 
the other hand, it is evident that we should not 
have known from sacred history that the Jews 
kept it in our Lord's time and that of his apostles, 
or that he kept it himself, had it not been for 
extraordinary and even miraculous occurrences 
on that day. In our own country, the celebra- 
tion of the 5th of November is never noticed by 
historians from the time of its appointment for 
celebration till the year of the Revolution ; nor 
would it have been mentioned then, had not the 
historian Rapin been reminded of it by the land- 
ing of the Prince of Orange in 1688 about that 
time of the year ; but no one would have doubted 
that the English did observe it during the period 
of between eighty and ninety years that preced- 
ed, if Rapin had continued silent about it, since 

* The silence of the inspired writers under consideration 
relates to a period of no more than sixty years, and therefore 
is not so much adapted to shake the credit of the institution's 
continuance as the former silence was. 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 133 

nothing is stated to warrant the contrary opi- 

There is one circumstance which appears to 
me impossible to be accounted for, if the apos- 
tles really authorized the Jewish converts by pre- 
cept or by example to forsake the old sabbath, 
or if the Gentile converts did not continue to 
keep it or embrace it ; and that is, the profound 
silence observed by the unbelieving Jews, and the 
total absence of controversy from the Christian 
cnurches on the occasion. The indignation re- 
peatedly manifested by the Jews when our Lord 
performed cures on the sabbath- day, as well as 
the testimony of profane history, clearly shows 
that they were no less enthusiastically attached 
to the day they sanctified, than they were to cir- 
cumcision : and how tremblingly alive they were 
to the claim of the latter — even those of them 
who believed, the Acts of the Apostles and the 
Epistles of Paul abundantly prove. They insist- 
ed that the believing Gentiles could not be saved 
without it; they compelled the latter to appeal 
to the church at Jerusalem ; they urged their fa- 
vourite tenet in the council of the apostles and 
elders : and notwithstanding the solemn decree 
passed by the council, with the concurrence of 
the Holy Ghost, in favour of exempting the 
Gentile converts from obligation to be circum- 
cised, and the tranquillity which the knowledge 

1 34 Supposed Repeal of the 

of the decree restored to the churches in gene^* 
ral, yet the sharp remonstrances of the Apostle, 
in his Epistle to the Galatians, plainly show that 
the dissensions had by no means subsided in these 
parts. But how does the case stand with respect 
to the seventh day sabbath, for which the Jews 
were equally, if not still more, zealous ? Do we 
read of any animosities or outrages of the unbe- 
lieving Jews, which must have been the conse- 
quence if the apostles had repealed the old sab- 
bath? Did they ever express their displeasure 
against the neglect or violation of it, now sup- 
posed to be general at that time among Chris- 
tians, as they did on the mere appearance of 
either in our Lord's time ? Do the Jewish con- 
verts ever remonstrate against being called upon, 
supposing them to have been so, to leave their 
favourite day, or insist upon the Gentiles keep- 
ing it upon their becoming Christians, if they did 
not keep it before ? Is there any reason to think 
that they would be less tenacious on this point, 
had they been required to give it up, or more 
liberally minded towards a Gentile brother, had 
he differed from them in this particular, than 
they were respecting circumcision ? Were there 
any dissensions among the Christians, any ap- 
peals to the apostles and elders, any decrees un- 
der the direction and influence of the Holy Spi- 
rit on the subject ? It is well known that there 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath, 135 

was nothing of the kind. For though the passages 
Col. 2. 16. Gal. 4. 10. and Rom. 14. 5. have been 
considered as indicative of controversy among 
Christians on the subject of the weekly sabbath, 
and also of remonstrance on the part of the sa- 
cred writer against censuring the non-observ- 
ance of the seventh day, the context (as I have 
already shown) proves that they relate to a dif- 
ferent topic; and my opponents must at least 
allow them to be ambiguous : whereas the obli- 
gation of circumcision on the Gentiles is repro- 
bated by the inspired penmen in terms that can- 
not possibly admit of any other meaning.* 

I am aware that when Paul says, * to the Jews 
I became as a Jew,' it has been thought that he 
did so by conforming to them in keeping the 
seventh day himself, and in conniving at its being 
kept by others, though he knew of its repeal. 
Were this the fact, it would at least prove that 
the silence of the sacred writers concerning 
the Christians' keeping the seventh day is no 
proof that they did not keep it. But the case of 

* The texts referred to, however, are not ambiguous. 
They cannot relate to any dispute between the Jewish and 
the Gentile converts about the seventh day sabbath. For 
why should the latter object to it when they became Chris- 
tians, any more than they did when they became Jews ? If, 
on the other hand, the Jewish converts did not keep it, how 
could it occasion disputes ? 

136 Supposed Repeal of the 

his circumcising Timothy, (an act then unneces- 
sary by divine law,) though the father of Timo- 
thy was a Greek, ? because of the Jews that were 
in that quarter/ (and who knew that Timothy's 
father was not a Jew,) is a sufficient illustration 
of the apostle's assertion, without any other in- 
stance; and were any other instance really want- 
ing, to supply the defect by explaining the words 
as already stated, without the apostle's autho- 
rity, is 'begging the question,' or taking that for 
granted which remains to be proved. 

The unwillingness of the apostle and his com- 
panions to give offence to the Jews, whether un- 
believers or believers, by exempting any, whe- 
ther Jew or Gentile, from obligation to 'keep 
holy the seventh day,' has also been attributed to 
the continuance of the temple at Jerusalem, the 
daily services there, especially those on the sab- 
bath, and the attention still paid by the Jewish 
nation to the Mosaic institutions, though abro- 
gated. They are thought, therefore, to have kept 
and treated the old sabbath, as Paul conformed 
to the customs of the Nazarites the day on 
which the Jews took him in the temple; at 
least, then, as before noticed, the seventh day 
was kept by the Christians, notwithstanding the 
silence of the sacred writers : and how does it ap- 
pear, from them, that it was not to be kept after 
the destruction of Jerusalem, as well as before ? 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 137 

If it had been true that the seventh day sabbath 
was a part of the religious or civil economy pe- 
culiar to the Jews, and therefore to cease when 
they ceased, the Fourth Commandment, accord- 
ing to what was proved in the last Chapter, must 
have gone with them. But the seventh day sab- 
bath, as has been shown already, formed no part 
of the Mosaic ritual, nor did it belong to the 
Jews more than to any other nation, being insti- 
tuted at the close of the Creation, and on that 
account. If, then, it was kept by the apostles 
and the first believers till the destruction of 
Jerusalem, there is no reason to think that it was 
to cease being kept afterwards, since we are no- 
where told that it would be no longer binding 
after that event. The ceremonial law was dis- 
tinctly repealed, though, from the design of it 
having been answered, its repeal might have 
been presumed without a formal statement. 
How much more might such a repeal, if a repeal 
had been intended, have been looked for in a 
case where the abrogation could not be known 
without it, since the reason of the institution 
continued to be as important as ever? If nothing 
more than a temporary compliance with the 
prepossessions of the Jews in a matter of indiffer- 
ence had been meant by the sacred regard which 
the Christians paid to the seventh day before the 
destruction of Jerusalem, we should have been 

138 Supposed Repeal of the 

informed of it, as the apostle Paul acquaints us 
with the abridgement of his liberty, which he 
imposed upon himself in the cases of eating meat 
and drinking wine. Since neither he nor any of 
his companions or followers allege any such 
reason for adhering to the old sabbath, which 
they did cheerfully and universally adhere to, it 
follows that they did not act from a temporising 
and accommodating spirit, but in compliance 
with an incumbent duty. 

Thus the indirect proof of the repeal of the se- 
venth day sabbath fails, in my opinion, as well 
as the direct proof. I indeed consider as positive 
evidence to the contrary, our Lord's exhortation 
to his disciples to pray that their flight from Je- 
rusalem, when threatened to be encompassed by 
armies, might not take place on 'the sabbath 
day/ There was certainly no other sabbath day 
in being at that time, except the one which is 
inculcated in the Fourth Commandment. The 
disciples, therefore, must have understood their 
Divine Master as speaking of that sabbath day. 
He says nothing to prevent their thus under- 
standing his meaning, and their expressing them- 
selves in prayer according to that meaning. It 
is far more natural to suppose that our Lord re- 
ferred to the disturbance which their own devo^ 
tion, and that of the pious in general, would be 
in danger of receiving in the case imagined, than 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath, 139 

to any they might suffer from the acts of devo- 
tion continued to be performed by the Jews on 
an obsolete sabbath. Of course, if I am right in 
my interpretation of the texts which have been 
noticed, the seventh day sabbath was to conti- 
nue forty years after our Lord's ascension ; nor 
is the slightest intimation given that it was then 
to cease. 

To conclude. — Though it is commonly sup- 
posed that the seventh day is called sabbath in 
the sacred writings after our Lord's resurrection 
merely as belonging exclusively to the Jews, and 
as being observed by them, and that the apostles 
attended at the synagogues on that day merely as 
pursuing their missionary work among the Jews, 
there is not a tittle of evidence to support either 
conjecture. The sacred writers never intimate 
any thing of the kind. Till it be proved from other 
sources that a repeal was wanted, expected, and 
announced by divine authority, the seventh day, 
in still being called sabbath, only retained the 
name to which it was exclusively entitled both 
among Jews and Gentiles \ and the apostles, in 
attending to their missionary labours on the day, 
proposed likewise to sanctify that day which it 
was their duty to ' keep holy/ 

Let it not be objected to the conclusiveness 
of the foregoing reasoning, that from the non- 
repeal of the seventh day sabbath, the inconvenw 

140 Supposed Repeal of the 

ence would follow of sanctifying two days in a 
week. I own the inconvenience, and, as well as 
all other Christians, think it utterly improbable 
that the Divine Being would require this. I am 
ready to admit, further, that the non- repeal 
should not be acquiesced in without the greatest 
care, considering how long and how extensively 
the contrary idea has prevailed. At the same 
time, I must observe, that caution in examining 
evidence should not be confined to the case of 
retaining the old sabbath, but be extended to the 
case of receiving a new one. 

The Sabbatarians, therefore, cannot agree with 
their Christian brethren in calling the seventh 
day sabbath the Jewish sabbath, as if it ever had 
belonged, or continued to belong, exclusively to 
them. So far from it, that they always call it 
Sabbath, and never call any other day by that 
name. They can admit the propriety of the 
phrase only in the sense in which Jewish Scrip- 
tures and Jewish God are commonly under- 

The Sabbatarians, however, are not the only 
people who ever demurred to the repeal of the 
seventh day sabbath. The ancient Fathers never 
once affirm it, much less do they ever plead 
Scripture in support of it. With respect to the 
sacred regard that continued to be paid to the 
seventh day, after the apostolic age, I have 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 141 

already referred to the earliest writers among 
the Christians to prove the fact, and shall now 
proceed to quote the words of Morer relative to 
it, p . 187-^9. /ASt „ € £„, s 

' Socrates, tells lis, that all churches over the 
world, excepting those of Alexandria and of 
Rome, set apart as well Saturday as Sunday for 
religious uses; even the Egyptians and those 
who dwelt in Thebais, borderers on Alexandria, 
complied, and had on both days prayers and col- 
lections. Sozomen has the same exception of 
Rome and Alexandria, but (to use his own words) 
all or most of the other churches carefully ob- 
served the sabbath. And so great stress was 
laid on keeping it, that G regory Nyssen expos- 
tulates thus : ( With what eves can you behold 
the Lord's day T when you d espisethe sabbath? 
Do you not perceive they are s isters , and that in 
slighting the one you affront the other? And as 
sisters, we find them go hand in hand in the Ec- 
clesiastical Canons. ' If any clergyman be found 
fasting on the Lord's day, or the sabbath, let him 
be suspended/ — Canon 66. ApostS And in the 
Sixth Council of Trullo, the canons obliged all 
people to fast throughout LenJt, except on the 
sabbath and the Lord's day. And so they are 
joined together in the 49th and 51st Canons of 
the Council of Laodicea. But the Words of St. 
Ignatius are very severe; (Epist. ad Philip.) 

142 Supposed Repeal of the 

' If any man fast on the Lord's day, or on the 
sabbath, except that before Easter, he murders 
Christ again :' and no wonder, seeing we find 
it among the constitutions of the Church in 
St. Clement, that we celebrate as festivals the 
sabbath and the Lord's day. This is done in 
memory of the Resurrection, and that of the 
Creation. Elsewhere the same author makes 
both days of rest, that so servants may have op- 
portunity to go to church, to hear and learn the 
duties of religion. 'In sum/ says Balsamon, 
e the holy Fathers make the sabbath and the 
Lord's day to stand on the same ground, and 
they were equally respected in ancient times.' 
Thus far Morer. 

For upwards of three hundred years (as before 
noticed) the seventh day was thus kept by Chris- 
tians in general, though in conjunction with the 
first day. Several parts of the extract just given 
deserve particular remark. Not only fathers, 
but councils, declare in favour of the old sabbath ; 
and the language employed by them is not that 
of concern to have its observance connived at or 
tolerated, but of conviction that it was an impor- 
tant duty. St. Ignatius himself, who in another 
part of his writings is understood by some to 
urge the celebration of the first day instead of 
sabbatizing, in this part, on the contrary, enjoins 
it only after sabbatizing; reprobating the neg- 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 143 

lect of the latter in the severest terms. The 
Apostolical Canons are not thought to he so early 
as they pretend to be ; but the later the zeal was 
which they express for the seventh day sabbath, 
the more advantageous it is to the cause which it 
advocates. The Council at Trullo which declares 
on the same side, must also have been held late, 
as it was the sixth which sat there. Whether 
the Council of Laodicea which espouses the cause 
of the seventh day was that which sat there in 
the middle of the fourth century, is uncertain ; 
but if it was, it is not a little remarkable that it 
should venture thus to express its sentiment in 
opposition to the decrees of Constantine which 
enjoin the observance of the first day, without 
mentioning the seventh day. Be that as it may, 
Gregory Nyssen must have had that boldness, 
since he lived at that time. Nor do the histo- 
rians Socrates and Sozomen, both of whom lived 
in that century, (and the latter continued beyond 
the beginning of the fifth century,) display a 
small degree of it, in stating, as they do, both 
the period during which Sabbatarianism (as it is 
now called) was practised, and the extent to 
which it prevailed. The first of these writers 
states (Lib. 5. Cap. 22.) not only the public 
observance of the seventh day in almost all 
the churches, w T ith the exception of those in 
Rome and Alexandria, in the . fourth centuiy, 

144 Supposed Repeal of the 

but also that the ' holy mysteries were performed 
on it.' 

St. Ignatius, indeed, according to Bishop 
White, exhorts the Christians to work on the 
sabbath, quoting the apostle's words, 'If any 
man will not work, neither shall he cat.' This, 
however, is no more than what the same learned 
writer shows the fathers in general to have done 
relative to the first day, not only while the Chris- 
tians were subject to the idolaters, but for three 
centuries after the Roman empire became Chris- 
tian. The exhortation of Ignatius implies, also, 
that the Christians with whom he was concerned 
in general abstained from working on the seventh 

In England, even so late as some years before 
A. D. 1000,* in the reign of Edgar, the seventh 
day was ordered to be sanctified from three 
o'clock in the afternoon, in addition to the 
whole of the first clay : and this sacred regard 
for it continued, in consequence of different 
canons and proclamations, till the time of King 
John ; that is, for more than two hundred years. 
Notwithstanding the present practice of defer- 

* The short account of the Sabbatarians in the preceding 
part of this Chapter contains some important particulars of 
their condition abroad between Constantine's time and this 
period, as well as afterward* 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 145 

ring the commencement of the national sabbath 
till twelve at midnight on the seventh day, I 
am not aware that the laws just referred to have 
ever been repealed. The Journals of Parlia- ' 
ment, as well as the public schools, still, I be- 
lieve, call the seventh day, in Latin, Sabbath- 
day, not Saturday : and it is a well-known fact 
that neither of the two Houses, in general, tran- 
sact any business on that day. 

The religious respect shown to the seventh 
day by the Christians at large during the first 
ages of Christianity, has been attributed to the 
reluctance of the Jewish converts to quit an old 
practice, and the deference paid to them by 
their Gentile brethren. At least, it is allowed 
that they both kept the seventh day for the most 
part at that time, notwithstanding the silence 
of Luke and the apostles. There was, however, 
no such deference shown in the case of cir- 
cumcision. Had that been the case respecting 
the seventh day, the toleration of the seventh 
day would have been sufficient, without enjoin- 
ing its observance; and if the latter was thought 
necessary or prudent, it will* at least show that 
the numbers and strength of the Sabbatarians 
were not inconsiderable. But the conjecture 
proceeds upon the ground that the repeal of the 
seven ill day sabbath has been proved from Scrip- 
ture : for if that point be not established, there is 


1 46 Supposed Repeal of th e 

a more natural way of accounting for the hanno 
ny that subsisted among the Christians ; namely, 
the conviction of the Jewish converts that it was 
their duty still to keep the seventh day, and that 
of the Gentile converts that their brethren from 
among the Jews, in adhering to the old sabbath, 
were doing no more than their duty, and what it 
was equally the duty of the Gentiles themselves 
to practise. Upon the supposition of the non- 
repeal, it would have been strange indeed, had 
the Jews, when they became Christians, acted 
otherwise than they did ; and their abandonment 
of the old sabbath would no doubt have been 
brought forward as an unanswerable argument in 
support of the repeal. That the converts from 
the Jews should continue to keep the seventh 
day was no more than what might be expected, 
as the apostles gave no orders to the contrary; 
and if the converts from the Gentiles did not 
practise the same, they had occasion for the for- 
bearance of their brethren, and not their brethren 
for their's. . 

There is not the least appearance, in the Fa- 
thers, that the Sabbatarian Christians were a 
new sect, sprung up since the time of the apos- 
tles. They are never charged with innovation 
in this respect ; nor was their existence or conti- 
nuance in the church ever accounted for in the 
way that is now under consideration, till modern 

Seventh Day Weeldy Sabbath. 147 

times. The churches at Rome and Alexandria, 
which, the historians tell us, contained no Sabba- 
tarians, so far as is known, never pleaded Scrip- 
ture, if they pleaded any thing else, as a reason 
for excluding them. That the arm of civil and 
ecclesiastical power should afterwards disperse, 
though not annihilate them, can excite no won- 
der ; but Constantine and his successors, whether 
acting in a political or sacred character, when, 
in their decrees relative to observing the first 
day, they overlooked the seventh day, did not 
urge the authority of Inspiration for the omis- 
sion. They even acted in opposition to the au- 
thority and example of the primitive church, 
without ever assigning the pretext which has 
since been invented for them, namely, that there 
were no longer any converts from among the 
Jews to render the toleration of their preposses- 
sions in favour of the old sabbath, or conformity 
to them, necessary.* 

To return to the subject of the present Chap- 
ter. — There is a sense in which the advocates for 
the repeal of the seventh day sabbath may them- 
selves be said to aid the cause of those who 

* This detail from Church History is given to satisfy a na- 
tural curiosity, and not to strengthen the reasoning which 
preceded it. The Bible is the religion of Protestants, not 
the opinions and precepts of men. 

148 Supposed Repeal of the 

maintain that it is not repealed : I mean the ad- 
herence of the first day Christians in general to 
the Fourth Commandment. I am aware, indeed, 
that they do not profess to retain the whole of 
the commandment, or at least, if they do, that 
they do not understand the expression sabbath in 
it to mean £ the seventh day,' or this last to mean 
the last day of the week exclusively, but the se- 
venth part of time; so that though the Jews 
were confined to the seventh day, Christians may 
keep another of the seven without violating the 
commandment. I have also shown, before, that 
the seventh part of time abstractedly was not 
the thing instituted, either in the command- 
ment, or in Genesis 2. 2, 3., but that it was the 
consequence of the institution.* The thing in- 
stituted relates only to the last day of the first 
week — the day on which God rested from the 
work of creation, and every seventh day after- 
wards in succession. f It was that day which the 
Fourth Commandment ordered the Jews to keep, 

* The seventh part of time was not instituted first, and the 
seventh day afterwards, either in Genesis 2. 2, 3. or in the 
Fourth Commandment. 

t Moses and the Jews did not conceive that the first se- 
venth day only was to be kept holy ; nor do the first day 
Christians think that no other Sunday was to be kept except 
that on which Christ rose. 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 149 

the day which in fact (as has been proved) they 
were keeping before the commandment was 
given from Mount Sinai — the day, the week- 
ly return of which they now keep. If the com- 
mandment did not confine them to that day, there 
was nothing else that did. No one, however, 
conceives that the Jews were at liberty to keep 
any other day, or that they would have escaped 
the severest punishment, had they dared to keep 
another in the room of it. But as there was no 
other precept to bind them to the observance of 
the last day of the week in particular, except the 
Fourth Commandment, if that commandment 
only required in general the seventh part of time, 
they would have been at liberty to change the 
day, by keeping two sabbaths together, or by 
some other expedient. 

The expression, then, in the commandment, 
c the seventh day/ can only mean the last day of 
the week, as it was understood to mean by the 
Jews, and even by our Lord himself. So the 
holy women understood it, who rested on it ac- 
cording to the commandment. Of course it 
means the same to all who are subject to the 
Fourth Commandment. They are as much 
bound by it to keep the seventh day, as the Jews 
were. It never can mean a different thing after 
our Lord's resurrection from what it did before 
— a different thing to different bodies of people 

1 50 Supp osed Repeal of the 

alike subject to the Fourth Commandment — a 
different thing to Christians from what it did to 
the Jews. It never can mean the last day of the 
week exclusively to the Jews, and to Christians 
only the seventh part of time. As the former 
were not at liberty to disregard the letter of the 
commandment under the notion of adhering to 
the spirit of it, so neither are the latter warrant- 
ed in taking any such liberty. 

But it will be asked, May not part of a law be 
repealed, and the rest continue in force? Un- 
doubtedly it may, when the repeal relates to a 
circumstance, but not when it relates to the 
essence. Here the supposed repeal relates to 
the essence. For if the words i the seventh 
day' be struck out, nothing will remain to be 
kept holy. The seventh part of time will not 
remain ; for since it owes its right to consecra- 
tion entirely to the seventh day, when the se- 
venth day goes, it must go with it.* The rea- 
son, too, assigned at the end of the command- 
ment for its enactment must also vanish, as re- 
lating to the last day of the week, and to nothing 
else. The seventh day, therefore, cannot be 

* Had the seventh day sabbath been repealed before our 
Lord's time, the Fourth Commandment would not have bound 
the Jews to keep any day, whatever reason or a new divine 
institution might have done. 

Seventh Day Weekly Sabbath. 151 

cancelled without cancelling the whole ; and up* 
on this account, whoever retains the rest of the 
precept (as Christians in general do) may be 
said virtually to deny the repeal of the seventh 
day sabbath. 

It is true, the obligation to sanctify the seventh 
part of time might exist, and consequently con- 
tinue, if reason supported it, without the com- 
mandment. But in that case the Fourth Com- 
mandment would have nothing to do with it. It 
might also be renewed by the Divine Being, ei- 
ther by the institution of it abstractedly, no day 
being named in particular, or by instituting a 
specific day, as was done at the Creation ; and I 
say nothing at present whether this last has or 
has not been done in the case of the first day. 
But if it be so, the Fourth Commandment can- 
not with propriety, any more than any other es- 
sentially amended or altered law, be considered 
in its present state as obligatory upon Christians. 
Before the words relative to the mode of keep- 
ing holy the sabbath day can be used, ( the se- 
venth part of time/ or 'the first/ for instance, 
must be substituted for seventh / and instead of 
the reason now given in the commandment for 
the divine institution of the seventh day, the fol- 
lowing, or some such words, must be introdu- 
ced : — ' for the sanctification of the seventh part 
of time is requisite for the purposes of civiliza- 

152 Supposed Repeal of the 

tion, humanity, morality, and religion : therefore 
the Lord, &c.' Or thus: — 'for the Lord Jesus 
Christ, having died for our sins, rose from the 
dead on the first day : therefore the Lord hlessed 
the sabbath day, and hallowed it.' , 

Whether the commandment would remain the 
same in substance with either of these altera- 
tions — whether the apostles have sanctioned ei- 
ther — or whether a real Christian can, without 
such a sanction, adopt either of them, must be 
left to every one's own conscience to determine. 

At all events the Sabbatarian possesses this im- 
portant advantage, that when he is present at 
church, and hears the solemn recital of the Fourth 
Commandment as now binding upon Christians, 
he can with the utmost sincerity toward God and 
man unite with the congregation in praying, 
* Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our 
hearts to keep this law!' 



Differences of Opinion concerning the Claim of 
the First Day to be the Weekly Sabbath by 
Divine Authority. 

The title of this Chapter will, I suppose, excite 
no small surprise in many, (should many ever 
hear of this little Work,) since Christians at 
large know not that any who bear that name 
think otherwise than that the first clay is the 
weekly sabbath according to the New Testa- 
ment. I imagine, however, that this surprise 
will be moderated in a degree, upon recollecting 
some of the observations that were made in the 
first Chapter relative to the difference of opinion 
concerning the nature of a weekly sabbath, 
among those who profess to keep the first day. It 
was there shown, that if all those who in theory 
as well as in practice withhold from the sabbath 
no small portion of the time and of the religious 
exercises — particularly those of a domestic, pri- 
vate, or mental nature, which, according to the 
sentiments of the pious in general, (in the Bri- 
tish dominions at least, whether Churchmen or 
Dissenters,) are its due, were excepted from the 
number of those who are said to sanctify the 
first day, the ranks of those who account it to be 

154 Claim of the First Bay 

the weekly sabbath would be materially thinned. 
But it will be better for me not to notice, at pre- 
sent, the opinions of many among the professed 
observers of the first day themselves on its right 
to consecration, together with the extent and 
mode of sanctification to which that right enti- 
tles, or is thought to entitle it. I shall, therefore, 
consider none except the Sabbatarians as denying 
its scriptural authority : a denial which can ex- 
cite no wonder, after what has been stated con- 
cerning their denying the repeal of the seventh 
day sabbath, and their reasons for so doing. 

Before I enter upon the subject I wish to ob- 
serve, that the non-repeal of the seventh day 
sabbath would not be disproved by the proof of 
the first day's claim to sanctification, were it ever 
so satisfactory. It would only follow that there 
were two weekly sabbaths ; and the improbabi- 
lity of this no more weakens the argument for 
the non-repeal, than it does that for the new in- 

That there is no formal appointment of the 
first day for a weekly sabbath by Christ or his 
apostles, is, I believe, almost universally admit- 
ted. But it is insisted that the want of direct 
evidence in support of its divine authority (were 
it wholly wanting) is amply supplied by circum- 
stantial evidence. I am not unwilling to exa- 
mine the nature, extent, and force, of the evi- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 155 

dence referred to. But before I do so, I cannot 
but express my doubts beforehand, whether any 
thing short of direct evidence will suffice in a 
case of this nature. In my opinion, no events 
happening on a certain day, however supernatu- 
ral or beneficial, can render or prove that day 
sacred, without a divine command to that effect. 
They only render the day of the month, and its 
annual return, perhaps, remarkable. Neither 
would the performance of religious acts on it, 
though the most solemn, convert it into a sacred 
day, without the notice aforesaid. The acts 
themselves are indeed suitable to a sabbath, but 
by no means prove that the day in question is 
one, since they may be and often are performed 
on a common day — most of them, perhaps, 
weekly. The persons, too, who performed or 
enjoined them on the day, though inspired, do 
not make or prove the day a sabbath, except they 
tell us that they did it on that account : for they 
might have done the same for reasons that were 
merely personal, local, or temporary; and the 
acts themselves are no more than others have or 
might have done, though uninspired. In fine, a 
day attended with all the circumstances that have 
been mentioned, could have no right to an appel- 
lation given by Scripture to a day, without 
naming it, and apparently implying a sacred 
character, when there was another day to claim 

156 Claim of the First Bay 

it, which Scripture never stated otherwise than 
as sacred — especially as the title itself was not 
altogether free from ambiguity. 

I know that the seventh day was appointed at 
the close of the Creation to be a weekly sabbath, 
because God is expressly said to have ' sanctified' 
it — that is, set it apart for holy purposes. But 
without this declaration, neither God's resting on 
it after his great and good work, nor any reli- 
gious act recorded to have been performed on it, 
even weekly, by the Patriarchs, could have 
proved that they acted in obedience to the divine 
authority, and much less that others were obliged 
to do so, because they did. The case of sacrifi- 
ces shall be considered presently. 

I must observe, further, that were it possible to 
prove the divine institution of a sabbath without 
direct evidence, the want of that evidence in such 
a case would be an unique. There is no divine 
institution among all the institutions upon sacred 
record, before or since the flood, under the Pa- 
triarchal, Jewish, or Christian dispensation, like 
that of the first day sabbath, if it be one. The 
case of sacrifices is not similar to it. Abraham, 
Jacob, and Job, were ordered by the Divine Be- 
ing to offer sacrifices. [See Genesis, chapters 15, 
22, and 35. and Job, ch. 42.] The divine insti- 
tution of sacrifices among the Jews is manifest. 
As to the Patriarchs before the time of Abraham, 

fo be the Weekly Sabbath&C* 157 

and the Gentiles who were cotemporary with 

them, a divine institution, if not imparted fey the 
blessed God immediately to themselves, could be 
known to them only through the medium of tra- 
ditionary revelation ; there being then no written 
revelation. The apostles are never said in the 
New Testament to have received a divine order 
for consecrating the first day, (the contingent and 
temporary act of pious benevolence, enjoined on 
certain churches to be performed privately on 
that day, is not an order for consecrating the day,) 
and there is no necessity for trusting to tradition 
on the subject, since written revelation was 
then in existence. In each of these respects the 
case of the first day is totally dissimilar to that 
of sacrifices. It does not follow that the ancients 
before the time of Abraham sacrificed without 
the divine authority, from our not being inform- 
ed of it, when it does not concern us to know. 
But it does concern us to know the ground of the 
first day's claim. 

The observers of the first day, however, do not 
admit universally the want of direct evidence to 
prove its divine claim to be the weekly sabbath. 
Some have considered Hebrews 4. 10. in the light 
of a divine precept for its weekly sanctification. 
But the word in the preceding verse which is 
translated rest, though it signifies keeping a sab- 
bath, does not mean keeping one on earth, but 

158 Claim of the First Dai/ 

keeping one in heaven. It ' remaineth for the 
people of God / it is not now possessed by them, 
as it would be were the weekly sabbath intend- 
ed : and they ' enter into it* now, only because 
they shall as certainly have it, as if they had it 
already, and because grace is the evidence, the 
beginner, and the foretaste, of glory. The pro- 
noun he, who is said to have 'entered into his 
rest as God did into his/ is not the substitute for 
Christ, whose name had never been mentioned, 
but for people in the preceding verse, which in 
the original is in the singular number, as well as 
masculine, who, whether taken individually or 
collectively, when they have entered into their 
rest, will as certainly have ' ceased from their 
work/ or, as the apostle John has it, ' rest from 
their labour/ 'as God did from his.' This is 
true in point of fact ; and as to the honour of be- 
ing thus compared to God appearing to a learned 
and pious writer (Dr. Owen) to be infinitely too 
great for a common saint, and an objection being 
made to the foregoing comment on that account, 
it is no more than what is done in other passages 
of Scripture, in which the apostles are represent- 
ed as 'working together with him/ that is, with 
God, and in which the Philippians are command- 
ed to 'work out their own salvation with fear 
and trembling/ it being God that 'worked in 
them both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' 

to be the Weekly Sabbath, . 159 

In short, the inspired writer to the Hebrews 
having had occasion to quote Gen. 2. 2, 3. in 
order to explain a verse in Psalm 95., takes ad- 
vantage of the quotation to give a new illustra- 
tion of the happiness which every true believer 
has in prospect. In this he does no more than 
what is common with the sacred writers. There 
is not the least appearance, through the whole of 
the passage, of his at all having the first day in 
contemplation, or of his intending to transfer the 
weekly sabbath to it. Both the beginning and 
the termination of the argument contained in the 
first and eleventh verses show that his sole object 
was to enforce on the minds of the Hebrew 
Christians the necessity that there was for perse- 
verance in their holy profession, in order to final 

I proceed now to the consideration of the indi- 
rect evidence by which the divine claim of the 
first day to sanctification is attempted to be sup- 
ported. It is pleaded for this purpose, that cer- 
tain miraculous and beneficial events took place 
on this day — such as our Lord's resurrection — his 
repeated appearance to his disciples — his bless- 

* In point of fact, our Lord, having * ceased from the work' 
of redemption, did not enter into his- rest on Sunday, but ei- 
ther on Friday, according to his words to the converted ma- 
lefactor, or on Thursday, when he ' ascended on high/ 

160 Claim of the First Bay 

ing them — and his sending down the Holy Ghost. 
Now taking all this for granted, do these occur- 
rences themselves render the day on which they 
happened the weekly sabbath, or prove it to be 
such? — Great and beneficial as they certainly 
were, I confess I can see nothing in them to war- 
rant such an inference, in the absence of a di- 
vine declaration to that effect. Many supernatu- 
ral and happy events took place among the 
Jews ; and on occasion of some of them, particu- 
larly that of the Passover, certain days were kept 
sacred, and called sabbaths : but none of them 
was thus distinguished without a divine command 
peremptorily given for that purpose ; neither did 
any of them supersede the weekly sabbath, or 
transfer the sanctification of it to a different day. 
But it has been said, that though the events under 
consideration have not the sanction spoken of for 
consecrating the first day, yet they ought to be 
regarded as signs (hat the day Mas intended by 
Christ henceforth to be the weekly sabbath, in 
the same manner as soldiers fight upon their ge- 
neral's giving the signal for battle, without his 
actually telling them to do so. It should be re- 
collected, however, that the soldiers would not 
act thus, if they did not know from the general 
custom of war, or from a particular communica- 
tion made to them in the course of their training, 
that they were to understand the sign in this 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 161 

sense. Whether the expression ' Lord's day' 
(Rev. 1 . 10.) is thus to be considered in the case 
before us, shall be examined in the proper place. 
I wish only to observe, at present, that without 
such a communication from Inspiration, the 
events themselves neither imply nor prove such 
a design on the part of Christ. 

No doubt remarkable events, especially if they 
are of a mournful or joyous nature, will for a 
certain period occur to the recollection of the 
individuals, families, or nations, interested in 
them, with the weekly and annual returns of the 
days on which they happened. On these occa- 
sions, the parties will remember with suitable 
emotions the particulars of them, converse at 
length about them with all who are concerned in 
them like themselves, and, if pious characters, 
' make peculiar mention of them in their prayers.' 
But the weekly remembrance will soon wear 
away, and the annual one will probably not 
extend beyond the second or third generation, 
even should children not wholly lose the im- 
pressions of remarkable occurrences in the his- 
tory of their parents, so feelingly and frequently 
related to them. A body of people, or a nation, 
deeply interested in some events, may recollect 
them at a stated time for centuries : but the re- 
membrance is always annual, not weekly ; it re- 
lates to the day of the month, not the day of the 

162 Claim of the First Dai/ 

week ; and in these, as also in the former cases, 
the subject occupies the thoughts, the conversa- 
tion, and the conduct, only a part or parts, and 
not the whole of the day. The religious days of 
human appointment sometimes,* though seldom, 
recur weekly : but though regard is then paid to 
the day of the week, and not to the day of the 
month, as when they are annual, (Easter Sun- 
day excepted,) yet they are not kept sacred for 
twenty-four hours together, unless nominally, 
and by means, perhaps, of abstinence from par- 
ticular kinds of food and labour. 

The apostles, as men, could not be wholly 
strangers to those recollections, or to the making 
those remarks among their connexions, which 
are common to all mankind during a certain 
period at least, on the return of days on which 
singular and interesting events happened — espe- 
cially since the events which happened to them 
were supernatural, and of everlasting and univer- 
sal concern, But how often their impressions 
recurred, and how they manifested them, cannot 
be known from the events themselves. Great 

* Among the Roman Catholics, it is well known that Fri- 
day is observed as a fast-day ; and it appears from the ■ Mag- 
deburg Centuries/ and from Lucius's * Ecclesiastical Histo- 
ry,' that the Greek and Latin Churches observed the seventh 
day, the former as a festival, and the latter as a fast. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 163 

and interesting as the events were, the apostles 
were less likely to be struck by the return of the 
days on which they took place than we should be 
under present circumstances, because they were 
used to such occurrences, were themselves fre- 
quently the instruments of producing extraordi- 
nary and beneficial events, and were in the daily 
habit of studying, propagating, and improving, 
those which are now the subject of discussion. 
Be this as it may, so far as can be judged from 
common experience and observation, there is 
not the least reason to think that any one of these 
events would lead the apostles to keep or insti- 
tute a new weekly sabbath without a divine 
command for that purpose, or that we ought to 
understand them as having done so, in the ab- 
sence of information from their writings,* 

* The meeting at Troas (Acts 20, 7.) at most only resem- 
bles a religious festival of human appointment, in which only 
a part of the day is kept. The meeting, however, is not 
said to have taken place on that day, as the weekly return of 
the day on which Christ rose. There is nothing said about 
the resurrection, nor any extraordinary joy or thanksgiving 
on account of that event, as might have been expected, it 
being the first meeting of the kind that is noticed. Nothing 
more is said to have taken place at it, than what is stated 
(Acts 2, 46.) to have taken place every day. No repetition 
of it is ever mentioned. 

164 Claim of the First Day 

Were it true that any day on which a great 
and good event happened ought to be kept as a 
weekly sabbath by the apostles and by succeed- 
ing Christians without a divine communication, 
provided the day could be ascertained, more days 
than the first day would be entitled to that ho- 
nour. It is known that our Lord suffered on a 
Friday, and that he ascended on a Thursday. His 
crucifixion, though a mournful event, was no less 
necessary, beneficial, and extraordinary, than his 
resurrection; and his ascension was an event 
which, beside being no less joyous, was more 
publicly triumphant, and completed his glory. 
Yet what Christian now pretends that the apos- 
tles kept, or that he himself is obliged to keep, 
either of them weekly, like the ancient weekly 

But it will perhaps be said, that riot only 
one, but more than one, great and good event 
happened on the first day, as also that the 
meeting of Christ with his disciples occurred 
repeatedly on this day; and that on these ac- 
counts it merited the high distinction of sacred 

* Friday and Thursday, though not necessary to be 
named, as the first day was, to show the accomplishment of a 
prediction, yet had religious acts as solemn performed on 
them, as the first day had ; and no less publicly and fre- 
quently.— See Acts 2. 4G. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 165 

regard much more than the others. Could both 
these particulars be proved, I can see nothing 
more in such a coincidence and repetition, in the 
absence of a divine injunction, than the same ten- 
dency to procure for the return of the day the 
recollections and notices annually rather than 
weekly, for a certain period, which I have already 
mentioned.* Without such an injunction, there 
is nothing at all in them to suggest to the mind of 
an apostle, or of any one else, the idea that the 
day distinguished by them was henceforth to be 
sanctified — and that wholly and weekly. With 
respect to increased tendency to procure regard 
for the day, the coincidence and repetition in 
question could avail nothing : for though the days 
on which the incidents respectively happened 
went by the same name, they did not happen on 
the same day, and therefore could not reasona- 
bly be commemorated on the same day of the 

* The Fathers describing the first day as a festival, not as 
a sabbath — the canons and decrees coupling it with the 
saints' days — and the partial manner in which it was gene- 
rally if not universally observed before the time of the Pu- 
ritans, exactly correspond with the ideas that have been 
thrown out concerning recollections and celebrations merely 
human. The keeping it annually rather than weekly is indeed 
extraordinary, but not unparalleled, since, as before observ* 
ed, the Roman Catholics keep Friday in this manner. 

166 Claim of the First Day 

week, but annually on the days of the months on 
which they severally took place. 

But I must now observe, that neither the repe- 
tition nor the coincidence is so extraordinary or 
so incontrovertible as is commonly imagined. No 
one thinks, I believe, that the disciples met toge- 
on the evening of the day on which Christ rose, as 
supposing the day to have become the weekly sab- 
bath, on account of that event. Considering that 
it was still uncertain whether an event so ex- 
tremely interesting to them had taken place, or 
would take place, it would have been strange if 
they had let the day on which they had under- 
stood that it was to happen, pass without meeting 
on one part of it or on another. As to our Lord's 
visiting and blessing them on that occasion, no- 
thing was more likely than that a person of his 
benignity would take the earliest opportunity of 
calming their solicitude, and of converting the 
extraordinary sorrow they had lately experienced 
into as extraordinary joy, by giving them peculi- 
ar marks of his favour, and opening the most no- 
ble and exhilarating prospects to their view. No 
one can justly imagine that incidents so natural, 
however singular and beneficial, either render 
the day sacred, or prove an intention on the part 
of Christ to sanctify the weekly return of it, in 
the absence of all information to that effect. 

to be the WeeMy Sabbath. 167 

If it is asked, in reply, If there was no such in- 
tention, how happened it that a second meeting 
took place on the following first day? I answer 
by asking, in my turn, Is it so uncommon, then, 
when a meeting separates, to adjourn to that day 
week? To infer any intention to attach future 
sacredness to the day from that circumstance, is, 
in my opinion, begging the question.* This 
would be true, were it absolutely certain that the 
disciples who met eight days after the first meet- 
ing, met on the Sunday following. Notwith- 

* Whatever day the expression (John 20. 26.) l after eight 
days' refers to, however the disciples came to fix on it, or 
whatever the object of the meeting was, it does not appear 
that they met by the order of Christ, that he promised to be 
with them, or that they expected him. To satisfy and im- 
prove the doubts of Thomas concerning the reality of the re- 
surrection seems to have been our Lord's sole object in 
coming. Nothing can be inferred concerning the sacred 
character of the day itself, from the meeting being held on 
it, because there had been a meeting between that which 
took place on the day Christ rose, and that which was held 
' eight days after ;' at which intermediate meeting Thomas, 
who was not present at the former one, expressed to his fel- 
low disciples the doubts before mentioned. In short, cir- 
cumstanced as the disciples were, it might be expected that 
they would meet on more days than one. in a week ; and why 
should it be thought extraordinary that two of these meetings 
fell on the same day of different weeks, (supposing it to be a 
fact that they did so,) rather than on different days ? 

168 Claim of I he First Day 

standing, however, the ingenuity and learning of 
Dr. Wallis, and even the solidity, in some degree, 
of his reasoning in defence of this interpretation, 
I cannot admit that it is conclusive. It would 
not have been known that our Lord was circum- 
cised on the 'eighth day/ and not till 'eight 
days' were literally accomplished, if the sacred 
writer had not told us so. The ' three days and 
the three nights' during which our Lord was to 
4 be in the heart of the earth/ turned out to be 
only parts of three days; but prophecy seldom 
possesses the accuracy of history : and though 
the Jews requested Pilate to 'make the sepul- 
chre' in which the body of Christ lay ' sure' only 
till the third day, it could not be known before- 
hand that he would rise at the beginning of the 
third day ; and it would have been imprudent, 
considering their object, to remove the guard pri- 
or to the complete termination of the three days. 
There is no evidence that the phrase 'after eight 
days* would have been exchanged for another, if 
whole days of twenty-four hours each had been 
incontrovertibly intended, or that this was not 
the real meaning of the words in question. It 
does not follow that the Jews understood certain 
expressions in a way different from their literal 
sense, because the Romans did, or that with the 
French they would say ' eight days,' when they 
meant what the English call ' this day se'nnight.' 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 169 

When the evidence of a fact is merely circum- 
stantial, as is the case of the first day's right by 
divine appointment to be the weekly sabbath, 
no circumstance that is at all ambiguous can be 

It is not certain, therefore, that our Lord met 
with his disciples on the first day more than 
once. But even twice or thrice would bear but 
a small proportion to the number of times he 
must have been seen on other days, in the course 
of the forty during which he was with them after 
his resurrection. 

Neither was his blessing them confined to his 
meeting with them on the first day ; for he bless- 
ed them also on the fifth day of the week — on a 
Thursday, the day of his ascension. 

In fine, confidently as it has been affirmed that 
the day of Pentecost, on which the Holy Ghost 
descended upon the apostles, was Sunday, the 
same day of the week on which our Lord rose, I 
cannot say that this is my opinion, any more than 
that it is the opinion of many others. The fif- 
tieth day from the day of the resurrection, in- 
cluding that day, would fall on a Sunday : but 
the day of Pentecost in question, was the day 
which the Jews called by that name; and that 
being the fiftieth day after the first day of unlea- 
vened bread, the feast kept on account of the 
Passover must have fallen, the year our Saviour 

170 Claim of the First Day 

was crucified, on the sixth or the seventh day of 
the week. 

The result is, that the repetition and coinci- 
dence of great and happy events on the first day 
are not proved, and that that day was no more re- 
markable for them than certain other days were. 
Christ died for our sins on a Friday ; and though 
he blessed his disciples as well as rose from the 
dead on a Sunday, yet he also blessed them on a 
Thursday, and on the same day e ascended on 
high, led captivity captive, received gifts for men, 
spoiled principalities and powers, and made a 
shew of them openly/ There is no more ten- 
dency in the resurrection to constitute Sunday a 
weekly sabbath, or to prove it to be one, than 
there is in the crucifixion or in the ascension to 
make or prove the days on which they respec- 
tively happened, weekly sabbaths. No doubt an 
intimation from a sacred writer that this was the 
will of God would amply supply the want of 
tendency with respect to either of these days. 
Whether or no any intimation of this kind oc- 
curs in other parts of the New Testament, will 
be considered afterwards. There is nothing of 
that nature in the passages that have been already 

The next circumstance urged in favour of the 
divine authority of the first day, is Acts 20. 7. 
The apostle Paul, with his companions, spent, it 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 171 

seems, seven days at Troas. What they did on 
the six former days, including the seventh day of 
the week, is not stated. But if not passed 
wholly in missionary labours, of which there is 
no mention at all, they must have passed in reli- 
gious meetings and acts among the Christians 
themselves, in which it is incredible that the 
Lord's Supper should not have been observed 
more than once, considering Acts 2. 46. It ap- 
pears, however, that 'on the first day of the 
week/ (the last day of the seven,) 'when the 
disciples came together' [the disciples being as- 
sembled together] { to break bread, Paul preach- 
ed to them.'* It is not said whether this ' break- 
ing bread' was a common meal which they had 
together as friends, the apostle being about to 
take his leave of them, or whether it was the 
Lord's Supper; whether the meeting was inci- 
dental, f or stated ; whether they had a sermon 

* On the days kept as the weekly sabbaths, when it is pro- 
posed to annex the Lord's Supper to the other branches of 
public worship, it is not usual to state the celebration of that 
ordinance as the object of the meeting, as if it was the sole 
or at least the grand one. 

t' The disciples are not said to have come together as usual, 
though there is no mention of such a meeting having taken 
place before. In Acts 17. 1, 2. we are informed that Paul 
went into a synagogue of the Jews, as his manner was ; though 
it might have been presumed that he did so without such in- 
formation 4 

1/2 Claim of the First Bay 

only because the apostle was there to preach it, 
or whether they would have had one, if he had 
not been there. Allowing, however, for the 
present, these questions to be determined in the 
way most favourable to the title of the first day, 
I can admit nothing more than that every thing 
done on this occasion was perfectly consistent 
with such a title, (supposing the title to have 
been already proved,) and that Christians are 
fully at liberty, if they please, to meet and to 
perform similar acts on the same day of the week. 
But the facts themselves will by no means prove 
that it is their duty to do so on it, or the title 
in question. Acts of public worship are lawful 
on any day; and they are too commonly and 
even statedly performed on week days to war- 
rant or even to give rise to any one's thinking 
that those days are sacred, much less that they 
are weekly sabbaths — even in the view of the 
persons engaged in them. If the acts under 
consideration had been done on the fifth day 
(the day of the ascension) instead of the first 
day, I imagine that no one would have thought 
that the acts themselves conferred a sacred cha- 
racter on the day — that the performance took 
place in consequence of the day's bearing this 
character — or that the performance proved that 
it was intended to bear this character^ in the ab- 
sence of all information to this effect. 

to be the Weeldy Sabbath. 173 

It is true, to celebrate the Lord's Supper on a 
day different from that which is thought by the 
administrator and communicants to be the week- 
ly sabbath is not common in modern times ; but 
there are instances of it in our time, nor did our 
Lord or his apostles confine the celebration to 
the sabbath. There was, in short, nothing more 
done by the disciples and the apostle Paul at 
Troas, than was done by the disciples at Jerusa- 
lem every day, including the seventh day. [See 
Acts 2. 46.] Some, however, have thought that 
the sacred historian would not have named the 
day when this meeting was held, had he not 
meant to convey the idea that it took place on 
the weekly sabbath. 'Why/ say they, 'did he 
not express it, 'And on the last of these days/ if 
he had not this intention?' — Whatever this in- 
tention was, (if he had any in particular,) it 
could not be that which has been attributed to 
him; for if it had, he would have written to 
this effect — 'And on the first day of the week, 
being now the weekly sabbath,' &c; there having 
been no notice of such a change before.* Had 

* Though the apostles Paul and Barnabas staid a whole 
year at Antioch in Syria, [Acts 11.] and seven days at Tyre, 
[Acts 21.] there is no mention of- any religious meeting or 
act, whether private or public, among the Christians, on the 
first day— much less is there any intimation that this day 

174 Claim of the First Day 

the sacred writer expressed himself e on the last 
of these days/ instead of ( on the first day/ one 
of the clauses following, namely, 'ready to de- 
part on the morrow/ would have been super- 

I do not see why it should be thought more 
necessary to account for the historian Luke's 
telling us the day of the week on which the 
meeting at Troas was held, than for his telling us 
the number of days during which the apostle 
staid there. He assigns no reason for the latter 

was now to be the weekly sabbath. This is the more re- 
markable, as the change, if it took place at all, must have 
been very recent when the apostles were at Antioch ; and 
the circumstance of the Christians' having been first called 
by that name at that place, furnished the fairest opportunity 
for noticing the new sabbath, which had never yet been 
noticed. The absence of extraordinary events, indeed, at the 
meetings, whether at Antioch or at Tyre, might in itself oc- 
casion the silence of the sacred writer concerning the first 
day, as well^ as concerning the seventh day. But though 
there was no necessity for noticing the observance of an in- 
stitution known to have been long established, which there 
was no ground for thinking would be repealed, and the re- 
peal of which had never been stated, (without such a state- 
ment, however, there was no reason to suppose that it had 
taken place,) when nothing occurred at it but what was 
ordinary, yet there was such a necessity in the case of a new 
institution, (provided there was one,) which still remained to 
be mentioned for the first time. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 1J5 

any more than for the former. Had it been of 
any consequence for us to know, he would no 
doubt have told us. But the defect in the narra- 
tive ought not to be supplied by a conjecture 
that begs the question at issue.* 

For these reasons, I cannot consider the meet- 
ing at Troas, held once during a part of the first 
day,f the object proposed, the transactions at it, 
or the persons concerned in them, separately or 
conjointly, as constituting the first day a week- 
ly sabbath, or proving it to be one. To justify 
such an idea, it is requisite that the sacred 
writer should intimate that the incident took 
place either in consequence of the day's being the 
weekly sabbath, or to show that it was intended 
to be so considered in future. Otherwise, how 
could this be possibly known, since, as I have 
shown, nothing either said or done prior to this 

* Had the narrative in Acts 20. 7, &c. followed that in 
Acts 2. 46. no one could have attached importance to the 
mention of the first day : — why should any be attached to it 
now ? 

t There is no information how the disciples at Troas, and 
the apostle, spent the rest of that day : much less is there 
any account how the Christians in other places spent any 
part of it, or how any of them employed either the preceding 
or subsequent Sundays. Yet such information is absolutely 
necessary in a case where a new sabbath is to be proved by 
apostolic example. 

176 Claim of the First Day 

affair conveys any such idea; and there is nothing 
in the affair itself that authorizes any such con- 
clusion.* It does not follow, therefore, from 
what the disciples and the apostle did on that day, 
that every Christian is obliged to do the same: 
it only follows that it is lawful for him to do so — 
a discovery which he might have made without 
the assistance of revelation. The observations 
that have been made would have been true, had 
the meeting and transactions, or at least religion, 
occupied the whole day, and weekly ; but there 
is no evidence that they occupied more than 
some hours of the day, or that they ever took 
place more than this single time. 

The justice of the observations respecting this 
celebrated passage receives confirmation from 
the fact, that we should have known nothing of 

* Let it not be asked, If the disciples and the apostle did 
not keep the first day, what day did they keep? An answer 
has been already returned to this question, in the last Chap- 
ter. Were it even proved that the seventh day sabbath was 
repealed, and that they did not keep that, it would not fal- 
low that they kept another day. That one day in seven 
must be kept is no otherwise a Scriptural doctrine, than as 
the day was named by the Blessed God. If that day is re- 
pealed, the obligation to keep any day ceases with it, except 
there be another institution. That the first day was insti- 
tuted at the time when the meeting at Troas took place, is 
the point to be proved. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 177 

the meeting on the first day, nor of what passed 
at it, had it not been for the miracle relative to 
Eutychus. The narrative is given, not on account 
of the meeting, and the religious transactions at 
it, but for the sake of communicating the su- 
pernatural event. It is incredible that this would 
have been done, had it been the design of Luke 
to show by this meeting, and the religious acts 
performed at it, that the first day was now the 
weekly sabbath. Since nothing was either said 
or done, as recorded in the sacred writings, be- 
fore, to convey the idea — an idea, too, so very 
important, it might be expected that he would 
have told us of the meeting and transactions tak- 
ing place on some other first day, when no such 
miracle was performed; and instead of the mi- 
racle, have informed us of the meeting and tran- 
sactions having taken place in consequence of the 
new institution by divine authority. A fact may 
indeed sometimes be told indirectly and inciden- 
tally, and the evidence of its truth be the 
stronger on that account; but no wise, equitable, 
and benevolent legislator would abandon his sub- 
jects to chance for the discovery of any law of 
his, the neglect of which might subject them to 
severe penalties. Least of all ought it to be 
thought that the Divine Legislator would do so ; 
nor is there an instance of it to be found in any 
other part of the Scriptures, or even here. The 

178 Claim of the First Day 

facts thus indirectly communicated to us are, 
that the disciples did once meet together on the 
first day, for the purpose of ' breaking bread/ and 
that Paul preached to them. This information 
would be important, if any doubt existed that 
these acts were lawful on a Sunday as well as on 
other days. But the point at issue is, not whe- 
ther Christians may, but whether they must per- 
form and attend public worship on Sunday — on 
every Sunday — and devote the whole day to reli- 
gion in one way or in another. Of these new 
and important facts, there is no information in 
the text indirectly and incidentally, any more 
than directly and purposely. 

The next passage produced as indirect evi- 
dence of the first day's claim to be the weekly 
sabbath by divine authority, occurs 1 Cor. 16. 
1, 2. In this text, the apostle Paul gives com- 
mandment to the Christians composing the 
church at Corinth, as he had done before to those 
that composed the churches of Galatia, for f every 
one on the first day of the week to lay by him 
in store, as God had prospered him/ for the be- 
nefit of the poor saints, ' that there be no gather- 
ings/ adds the apostle, c when I come/ The act 
here commanded to be done on the first day 
was no doubt an act of piety, as well as of benevo- 
lence. But the evidence afforded by this text of 
the fact which it is brought to prove is of no 

to b&the Weekly Sabbath. 1/9 

weight, on nearly the same accounts as that sup- 
posed to be afforded by the last text was. An 
act of pious charity is as proper for a week-day 
as for a sabbath, and I believe as frequently per- 
formed on the one as on the other. It might be 
performed only one Sunday ; at any rate, it could 
not be repeated more than a limited number of 
weeks. It was enjoined only on some churches, 
not on all. The order through which we become 
acquainted with the act, and the day when it was 
to take place, would not have been given, had it 
not been for the incidental poverty of the saints. 
Above all, there is no intimation that the first 
day was appointed for the purpose on account of 
its being now the weekly sabbath, or intended to 
be proved such by this injunction, though no in- 
timation of the institution had been ever thrown 
out before.* 

Here it will be asked, What could be the rea- 
son of thus performing and enjoining religious 
acts on this day, and on no other, if not to inti- 
mate the institution in question? Why should 
they take place repeatedly on it? — I answer, that 

* There is the same want of information here, concerning 
a variety of particulars, most important in proving the exist- 
ence of a new sabbath by apostolic example, and the prac- 
tice of the first Christians, which was stated relative to the 
meeting at Troas. — See Note, p. 175. 

180 Claim of the First Dgy 

it has already been made to appear, from Acts 2. 
46., that religious acts were by no means con- 
fined by Christians among themselves to the first 
day, not even that act which is usually held to be 
the most solemn one. The repetition, spoken of 
as so remarkable, is the smallest possible; and 
the pious act to be performed by the believing 
Galatians and Corinthians, is very different from 
those acts which were performed at Troas, and 
least of all calculated to suggest the idea that the 
day on which it was to be performed was the 
sabbath. As to the day selected by the apostle 
for this act of pious benevolence being the same 
with that on which the meeting at Troas is stated 
to have been held, I may ask, in my turn, Could 
not such a coincidence exist, without its arising 
from the day's being the weekly sabbath? Are 
there no instances in which religious acts are 
now performed, and ordered to be performed, on 
the same day in different weeks, and for a series 
of weeks, too, though the day be not the sabbath, 
nor thought by any one to suggest the idea of a 
sabbath? If this happens frequently in modern 
times, why might it not happen for once in the 
time of the apostles? There is nothing singular 
in the religious acts which took place on the first 
day in different weeks, except the celebration of 
the Lord's Supper, if ' breaking bread' means 
that, on one of them, which, though not common 

to he the Weekly Sabbath. \^ 181 

on a week-day in this age, might be very com- 
mon in the first age of Christianity. In Jerusa-"*^^ 
lem, the act took place every day. (See Acts 2. 
46.) In short, since the apostle has not assigned 
his reason for selecting the same day of the - 
week on which he preached at Troas, for the act 
of pious benevolence under discussion, conjec- 
ture, as I said in another case, cannot be allowed 
to supply the defect, by begging the question at 

I cannot, however, quit the coincidence that 
has been noticed without remarking, that far 
from wondering at such a coincidence happening 
for once, we ought rather to wonder (it seems to 
me) that the coincidence did not happen often. 
The first day was the only day, I believe, at that 
time, except the seventh day, that had its appro- 
priate name. This distinction it probably ob- 
tained in order to enable the apostles and their 
disciples to name the day on which our Lord rose 
(a day which they had frequent occasion to men- 
tion) without circumlocution, as was always done 
in speaking of any other week-day, and of this, 
too, prior to the great and happy event that took 
place on it. The first day, therefore was a fitter 
day to be appointed for the performance of any act, 
especially when it was to be performed by num- 
bers, and these, too, situated in different coun- 
tries, at the same time, than any other, because 

182 Claim of the First Day 

in the circular issued to give notice of the de- 
sign, the day would be designated more concise- 
ly, and with less liableness to occasion neglect of 
the act through uncertainty of the time.* This 
being the case, when we consider the multitude 
of occasions which the Christians, as well as 
other bodies of people, probably had for fixing 
and giving notice of certain days for private and 
public purposes, it is more surprising that the 
first day is not mentioned often, than that it 
should be noticed twice in the history of the 

It may now be asked, Why did not the apos- 
tle appoint the seventh day for the act, since 
that had an appropriate name, as well as the 
other? — I reply, that as the act was to be founded 
upon ascertaining the earnings of the preceding 
week, it is evident that the apostle could only 
choose the end of that week after labour was 
completed, or the beginning of the next before 

* The apostle's sole object in appointing a day for this pri- 
vate act seems to have been to secure a contribution tveckly. 
Were that done, it made no difference to him on which day 
of the week it took place. He only named a day, lest by 
leaving it to be done any day, it should not be done at all. 
The weekly contributions, too, would probably secure an 
amount more considerable than if they had been appointed to 
be monthly. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 183 

it was resumed. But before I proceed further, it 
will be necessary to consider the nature of the 
act more fully, as also the circumstance that 
must have preceded it. 

The act of pious benevolence under discussion 
was merely a private one. Every one was to 
May by him in store as God had prospered 
him/ It is not said that individuals were to carry 
their respective sums to a particular place in or- 
der to their being deposited in a common recep- 
tacle, as is done in our time when public collec- 
tions are made in places of worship ; nor is there 
occasion for such a supposition. It is not even 
hinted that there was any place of worship open 
for them to carry the money to ; and it does not 
follow, from the disciples at Troas having met 
once on the first day, that those at other places 
met on every first day, or even on one. The 
'gatherings' which the apostle wished to pre- 
vent ' when he came' need not to be understood 
of those which are made by going e from house 
to house/ (a practice to which the apostle was 
accustomed,) but of public gatherings which are 
attended with great anxiety on the part of those 
who are to procure them, and are often even de- 
ficient in their amount through the non-attend- 
ance of those that should contribute, or their 
ignorance that each ought to do what he can, 
and no more — whether there are or are not more 

184 Claim of the First Bay 

collections than one for the same object. There 
is, therefore, no ground for supposing more than 
the text states, namely, private acts by each 
member of the church separately at his own re- 
sidence, or in his own apartment. That the 
apostolic command for these separate acts, which 
related only to some churches, and which, how- 
ever excellent in their nature and design, would 
themselves occupy only a few moments,* and 
which would be repeated but for a limited num- 
ber of weeks at furthest, should be intended to 
constitute or prove the day appointed for their 
performance to be the weekly sabbath, when 
no such idea had ever been thrown out before, 
seems to me utterly incredible.. Nor will its 
unsuitableness be removed, by connecting it 
with the former arguments; for each of them, 
upon examination, has been found equally irre- 

But the circumstance most unfavourable to the 
supposition just mentioned, namely, the process 
that must have preceded it — the estimate to be 
taken of the earnings of the preceding week, 
together with the calls, both certain and contin- 
gent, to be made upon them by private, domes- 
tic, and other exigences — an estimate which, in 

* Not the smallest hint is given that the rest of the day was 
to be employed in private or public acts of devotion. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 185 

the case of wealthy men of business, such as ma- 
ny of the believing Corinthians no doubt were, 
and such as were fittest for the apostle's purpose, 
might be long and complex. A secular process 
like this, notwithstanding its object and issue, 
does not seem very proper for a sabbath. It has 
been said, indeed, that the process might have 
taken place the* preceding day, and only the 
Maying by in store' be practised on the first 
day; but the words of the text intimate no such 
distinction of times for the two acts: it was 
most natural for the individual to go and lay the 
money by the moment he had made up his 
mind how much it should be, and the apostle 
gives him no caution against acting in this man- 

To return to the question, why the apostle 
should appoint the first day rather than the se- 
venth. Whatever his reason was, he does not ap- 
pear to have given the first day the preference 
on account of his thinking that the act he was 
enjoining — especially when taken in connexion 
with what it was natural should immediately 
precede it, and which the text affords us no 
ground for supposing did not immediately pre- 
cede it, was more fit for a sacred than for a secu- 
lar day ; much less that it was fit for the former 
exclusively. Of course the invalidity of the in- 
direct evidence hitherto adduced in favour of 

186 Claim of the First Bay 

the first day's right to sanctification still conti- 
nues. The text just dismissed is even more re- 
mote from affording matter to the purpose than 
the preceding one. 

The only part of the indirect evidence adduced 
in support of the first day sabhath that remains to 
be considered, is the expression 'Lord's day/ 
Rev. 1. 10. It is commonly understood to mean 
the first day, and that the new name was given 
to it in honour of Christ, who rose from the dead 
on it; whence it is inferred that the weekly 
Sunday is sacred to him, and has become the 
weekly sabbath. 

The expression, no doubt, has an appearance 
that commands respect and reverence. It seems 
likewise to imply something of considerable im- 
portance. But as it is new, and occurs nowhere 
else in Scripture, the sense just stated to be usual- 
ly given to it ought not to be acquiesced in with- 
out examination. There is nothing said in the 
context which throws the least light upon its 
meaning, and therefore, in order to explain it, 
recourse must be had to the other writings of 
the apostle John, or to those of his inspired bre- 

The phrase seems to indicate a day that is pe- 
culiarly the Lord's, and which ought to be whol- 
ly devoted to him. This sense of it, however, is 
not absolutely necessary, as will be noticed here- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 187 

after; but let it be admitted for the present. 
What day, then, do the other parts of Scripture 
— particularly the New Testament, represent as 
sacred ? 1 know of no other to which the phrase 
can be applied, except the seventh day sabbath — 
especially if the day called < Lord's day' occur- 
red weekly, as is commonly supposed. For 
though part of each of the other days appears to 
have been sometimes occupied in religious exer- 
cises, (publicly, too, and 'breaking bread' not 
excluded,) and several hours once of the first 
day, these religious acts, even if they occurred 
weekly, (of which there is no proof,) do not fill 
a single day ; and it is a sacred day, not sacred 
hours, or a sacred part of a day, that is here 
sought after.* 

I know that it has been said that the Christians 
in the first age or ages could not meet at any 
other time of the day than in the evening after 
dark, or very early in the morning, through 
dread of their persecutors. This fear, however, 
is never assigned in the New Testament as a rea- 
son for a nocturnal meeting of Christians, except 
on the day of our Lord's resurrection, when the 

: Were the religious acts performed on different Sundays 
to be considered as performed on one" and the same Sunday, 
they would not by any means fill the hours in a day that are 
usually spent in business or enjoyment. 

188 Claim of the First Day 

public feeling was peculiarly hostile to Christ 
and his followers. The meeting at Troas may as 
well be supposed to have taken place after dark, 
because the Christians who attended it were not 
at leisure till then on account of secular business, 
as for the other reason.* No other assemblies of 
Christians, several of which are noticed by the 
sacred writers as meeting for religious purposes, 
if not for public worship, appear to have been 
at night. But admitting that the fear of persecu- 
tion prevented them from worshipping publicly 
on the first day, except after dark, or before sun- 
rise, still this would not obstruct the meeting of 
small parties in private houses for the worship 
of God ; and as we are not told that they did 
so meet, or how they spent the rest of the time, 
there is no proof that they ever devoted the 
whole of a single first day to religion. That 
there is no proof of the first day's not having 
been wholly spent in religion at Troas, for in- 
stance, will not warrant the drawing an inference 
from the unproved supposition of its having been 
so spent. The notice here called for is indispen- 
sably necessary to the proof of its having ever 

* The nocturnal meeting for prayer which Peter came to 
on his deliverance from prison by the angel was too extraor- 
dinary a case to be admitted as evidence of the general cus- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 189 

been treated as sacred in a single instance, since 
it is never said to have been sanctified, as the se- 
venth day was. 

If, therefore, the sense of Scripture is to be de- 
termined in the same way that the sense of human 
writings is determined, and the l Lord's day' be 
supposed to mean a sacred day, or a day spent in 
devotional acts, it can mean only the seventh 
day, there being no other described as sacred 
through the whole of the New Testament. 

I have already assigned my reasons for not al- 
lowing that the seventh day sabbath has been re- 
pealed, or that there are no religious acts stated 
to have been performed on it by Christians as 
Christians, or that the notice of such instances is 
requisite to the proof of an obligation continuing 
or to its being regarded, in the case of an institu- 
tion that is known to have long existed, and been 
attended to. But were the contrary ever so 
plain, it would not follow that the Scriptures had 
ever represented Sunday to be a sacred day, and 
that therefore it was the only day which could 
be meant by the expression c Lord's day.' It 
would only follow, from the disprovement of the 
continuance of the seventh day's claim, that no 
day now known was entitled to the honour. 

It is remarkable that our Lord did once attach 
his sacred title of Lord to the seventh day; 
namely, when he said, c The Son of man is Lord 

190 Claim of the First Day 

also of the sabbath-day.' The phrase i sabbath - 
day' must refer to the seventh day ; for no one 
thinks that there was any other sabbath at that 
time ; nor does our Lord distinguish any other 
day in tin's manner. There is indeed mention in 
Psalm 118. 24. of a day < which the Lord hath 
made ;' but it is as uncertain what day is referred 
to in that verse, as it is respecting the words under 
consideration. It must not be inferred, because 
the verses preceding relate to Christ, that the 
verse following does the same. The day spoken 
of may be that of the great and happy event in 
the history of David which it is the immediate 
object of the Psalm to celebrate. Or if it be one 
that occurs in the history of Christ, and not of 
David, yet the day on which it took place may 
as well be that of his ascension, [Thursday,] as 
that of his resurrection. Nor does it follow, from 
the day on which the event actually happened be- 
ing distinguished by some special mark of regard, 
that the weekly return of it is to be distinguished 
in like manner.* 

* The sacred writers of the New Testament, in mentioning 
the first day, never speak of it as a day that God had parti- 
cularly made ; nor do they either express, or exhort others to 
manifest, any joy or gladness on account of the resurrection, 
or on any other account. In ecclesiastical history, St. Bar- 
nabas, whoever he was, is the first person who says, ' We cc- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 191 

The exclusive right, therefore, of the seventh 
day to be accounted the day referred to in Rev. 
1. 10. supposing c Lord's day' to mean a sacred 
day, seems to me to be incontrovertible. 1 may 
add, that there is nothing evangelical said or done 
on any other day of the week which may not be 
said or done on the seventh day — the acts of no- 
ticing and improving our Lord's resurrection in- 
cluded. The seventh day, too, is as proper for 
thinking of the ascension, as the day of the resur- 
rection is. The only objection that can be made 
to it, namely, that it was never so called before, 
affects the claim of the first day, and of every 
other day, as much as it does that of the seventh 
day. On that very account, however, I do not 
wish to assert its right to the appellation in ques- 
tion ; nor does its claim to sanctification since our 
Lord's resurrection, as well as before, in my opi- 
nion, need any such confirmation. The reasons 
have been stated. 

It is indeed taken for granted that the term 
'Lord,' in the disputed passage, refers to Christ, 
and therefore that the day called Lord's day 
must be a day on which something memorable in 
his history took place, and be sacred to him on 
that account* To confirm the truth of these as- 

lebrate the eighth day with gladness; on account of our 
Lord's resurrection'. 

192 Claim of the First Day 

sertions, it is urged that the epithet c Lord's' is the 
same in the original as the word used in the 
phrase c Lord's supper,' which is acknowledged 
on all hands to be a service appropriated to 
Christ, and referring peculiarly to him. But it 
should be considered, on the other hand, that the 
term c Lord' is not given to Christ in the New 
Testament exclusively; and that therefore, for 
aught that appears, it may in Rev. 1. 10. be as 
reasonably applied to the Father, or to the Holy 
Spirit, or to the Divine Being in general, as to the 
Son. The word in the original might be used 
with as much propriety in those cases as in this.* 
Neither does it follow, that « Lord's day' is a day 
devoted to Christ on account of something great 
arid good relative to him happening upon it, from 
its being expressed by the same word in the ori- 
ginal that c Lord's' is in the expression ' Lord's 
Supper,' which, no doubt, is owing to him, and 
peculiarly his. The cases are too widely differ- 
ent by far to justify such an inference. The 
Lord's Supper was solemnly instituted by Christ. 
The time at which, and the circumstances under 
which, he instituted it, are recorded by three of 
the Evangelists out of the four. The elements, 

* It would not be certain that the term Lord in the phrase 
Lord's supper meant Christ, were it not for the institution, 
and the apostolic comment upon it. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 193 

* the actions, the signification and design of both, 
the persons who were to be the communicants, 
and the period during which the ordinance was 
to continue in force, are all stated. In fine, the 
apostle Paul comments upon the institution at 
large, 1 Cor. 11. In none of these important par- 
ticulars does the ' Lord's day' resemble the 
c Lord's Supper.' If we had only the solitary 
phrase 'Lord's Supper,' 1 suppose we should 
treat it merely as a figurative representation of 
the gospel, with its beneficial effects on earth, 
and more especially in heaven. We should ne- 
ver think that any new institution was implied, 
or imagine that the rites which now distinguish it 
were to be performed. We should justly sup- 
pose that if the phrase contained an obligation to 
any peculiar observance, the obligation could not 
extend beyond the believers who lived at the 
time when the phrase was written, as they alone 
could discover and ascertain its meaning. 

The ignorance and uncertainty merely imagined 
to exist relative to the expression < Lord's Sup- 
per' actually attend us relative to that of ( Lord's 
day.' The term 'Lord' cannot be ascertained to 
refer to Christ ; and if it could, as also that the 
day in question was a day memorable in his histo- 
ry for some great and happy event, it could not be 
known which day was intended, since Thursday 
and Friday were distinguished by such events, 


194 Claim of the First Day 

as well as Sunday. There is no religious act 
peculiarly relative to Christ stated to have been 
done on the first day, which is not stated to have 
been done on every day ; nor is any act of reli- 
gion at all represented as being done on the first 
day, because it was the first day, or the day of 
the resurrection — much less that it was filled with 
religious acts, and intended to be filled with them 
every weekly return, like a weekly sabbath. It 
is indeed named twice, when the others are not ; 
but though the reasons I have conjectured for 
that, and for the preference given to the first day 
in one of the cases, may not be the true ones, the 
silence of Scripture is not to be compensated by 
begging the question at issue. 

1 have hitherto taken the general supposi- 
tion for granted, that 'Lord's day' signifies a 
day sacred during the twenty-four hours. But 
I must now observe, that could it even be 
known that the first day was designed by the 
phrase, still it would be uncertain whether it 
was not merely to be called henceforth by the 
name of c Lord's day' in honour of Christ, (as 
the Roman months Quintilis and Sextilis were 
called Julius and Augustus in honour of those 
emperors,) or at most to be further distinguished, 
during a part of it, by some religious acts pecu- 
liarly adapted to celebrate the day, and the glo- 
rious incident which took place on it. To nei- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 195 

ther of these questions do the Scriptures furnish 
an answer : for the religious meeting and service 
at Troas, on one Sunday evening, are not stated 
to have been obligatory, or to have taken place 
on any such account as that under consideration. 
Much less are we told that the whole day was to 
be kept sacred, like a sabbath, and that it was 
to return weekly. With respect to the last cir- 
cumstance, so far as can be judged from what 
history, both sacred and profane, informs us was 
done in cases most resembling this, the return is 
annual, not weekly. - 

I am aware that the term ' Lord' has been 
thought sufficient to answer all these queries, and 
that a day which is emphatically 'the Lord's' 
must in every part be sacred to him, and sacred 
as often as it returns, which it does every week. 
Admitting all this, the phrase does not answer the 
question which day it is. But the case before us 
is an unique , and unparalleled ; and therefore it 
can only be determined by comparing it with the 
cases that are most similar to it in human, and 
more especially in divine writings. In human 
writings and practice, such an example may de- 
note only a new name given to the day that is 
accounted memorable ; and though in the ab- 
sence of information from Scripture I know not 
why Sunday should be called < Lord's day,'' any 
more than the day of the crucifixion or the as- 

196 Claim of the First Day 

cension, yet if an act of Parliament enjoined it, I 
as a loyal subject should comply, since the Scrip- 
tures leave me at liberty so to do. At most man 
would require only some part or parts of the day 
to be devoted to religion, not the whole twenty- 
four hours — except perhaps so far as relates to 
abstaining from secular employment, particularly 
of a public nature. The return, too, would only 
be annual. With regard to the testimony of the 
sacred writings on the subject, the Jews had 
monthly as well as annual sabbaths, on which 
they held holy convocations, and did no manner 
of secular work: but sacred as these days were 
to the Lord, there is no reason to think that the 
Jews were required to keep them as they were to 
keep the weekly sabbath, which they were to 
call a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable, 
and on which they were to honour God, not do- 
ing their own ways, seeking their own pleasure, 
or speaking their own words. — See Isaiah 58. 12. 
The texts in the New Testament to which 
alone the phrase * Lord's day' can be referred for 
a practical explanation in favour of Sunday, 
speak of religious acts during one part of the 
day merely, and for a limited number of weeks 
at furthest. If, however, a partial observance 
seems inadequate to the apparent importance of 
the expression c Lord's day,' and it be insisted 
upon that the term Lord makes a weekly sab- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath, 197 

bath of the day to which it is applied, solemn as 
it is in sound, it can be of no use in practice, 
except the day be ascertained. The seventh 
day alone answers to it, for which, notwith- 
standing, 1 am persuaded it was never meant. If 
the expression implies only partial observance, 
and must mean some memorable day in pur 
Lord's history, it cannot indicate a weekly sab- 
bath ; and the fifth or sixth day'may fairly stand 
a candidate with the first day for that honour : 
for though they are not mentioned, even indi- 
rectly and incidentally, by name, in the Acts of 
the Apostles, or in any one of the Epistles, as the 
first day is twice, (perhaps because they had no 
names at that time, or no miraculous events took 
place on them,) yet it appears, from Acts 2. 46. 
that most solemn acts of public worship took 
place among Christians upon them, as well as up- 
on the first day.* 

Thus total is our want of means for ascertain- 
ing what day the expression refers to, — (if it be 
not the seventh day, as I do not think it is, since 

* I have already noticed, that the first day was universally 
kept in this partial manner before the time of the Puritans, 
and still is kept so throughout the greatest part of Christen- 
dom ; nor do I know of any public remonstrance against the 
practice in those parts by any body of pious people on Scrip- 
tural, if upon any other grounds. 

198 Claim of the First Day 

however sacred it was to God weekly, and that 
exclusively, and however fit it is to answer any 
purpose of the Christian dispensation as much as 
the first day is, it is never called by this name, 
any more than any other day is so called,) — 
why it was called so, — what use it was to be ap- 
plied to, if any, — whether that use was to respect 
the whole of the day, or only a part of it, — and 
whether its observance was to be weekly, or an- 
nual. I see not, therefore, how it can supply in 
any degree or way the entire want of evidence 
which attends its relation to the other passages 
adduced in favour of the first day's claim by di- 
vine authority to be the weekly sabbath. What- 
ever obligation the words might impose on those 
who were cotemporaries and companions of the 
apostle John, and who therefore possessed means 
of knowing their true sense and proper applica- 
tion, they can impose none on Christians in suc- 
ceeding ages, who are entirely ignorant of both. 

The reverend and learned author Morer, 
whom 1 have repeatedly mentioned, in his Dia- 
logues on the Lord's day, after enumerating* the 
various days to which the expression < Lord's 
day' has been applied, candidly acknowledges 
the utter uncertainty respecting it, of which I 
have been speaking. 

• Pageg 44—46, 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 199 

After these remarks, my reader will be not a 
little surprised, I suppose, at my saying that I 
have no doubt that the phrase in question really 
does mean the common Sunday, and no other 
day. But 1 make the avowal on a ground which, 
1 fear, will greatly shock him, considering the 
opinion of people in general relative to this sub- 
ject. In short, 1 am fully persuaded that the 
apostle John did not write those words — that they 
are an interpolation, and that a very late one — 
perhaps about the time of Constant ine the Great. 
I proceed to give my reasons for holding a sen- 
timent so different from that of Christendom at 

It seems to me very strange, and contrary to 
the usual practice of Holy Writ, to employ lan- 
guage seemingly indicative of some important fact 
or duty, as in the passage before us, at the same 
time leaving us wholly uncertain, as has been 
shown, what it is. There are instances in the 
New Testament of this respecting a motive to 
duty, but never, so far as I recollect, respecting 
a duty itself. [See Matth. 18. 10.—1 Cor. 7. 14. 
and 11. 10.] 

Again, if the apostle John had written the ex- 
pression, and had meant the weekly first day by 
it, would he not have called it by the new name 
in his Gospel, which, it is agreed on all hands, 
he wrote after the Revelation ? There was the 

200 Claim of the First Day 

more occasion for this, as his fellow apostles and 
the other evangelists had never done it. Vet in 
mentioning the day on which Christ rose he calls 
it thejirst day of the week, as they do, without 
any explanatory clause, snch as, ' now called 
Lord's day, and appointed henceforth to be the 
Meekly sabbath, instead of the seventh day/ 
This would have been an effectual way to pre- 
vent the Asiatic Christians, or any other, from 
mistaking the day on which Christ rose, and 
might have been reasonably expected from an in- 
spired writer like John, who so ofteU guards us 
against misconception by translating Hebrew 
words into Greek, as in the instances of Cephas 
and Siloam, which he tells us are, by interpreta- 
tion, 'Peter,' and 'Sent.' 

Further : Morer, a divine of the Establishment, 
and of course a writer in favour of the first day, 
informs us, [p. 46.] that c the Syriac translation, 
instead of the. first day, 1 Cor.- 16. 2. saith, on 
every Lord's day ; and where the apostle speaks 
thus, (Chap. 11. 20.) When you come together, 
therefore, into one place, this is not to eat the 
Lord's body, that version alters or rather adds to 
it, You do not eat the Lord's body, as becomes 
the Lord's day.' 

These repeated attempts at alteration or in- 
terpolation failed respecting a book, the divine 
authority of which was never questioned : but is 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 201 

there not too much reason to think that the at- 
tempt was renewed with success in a book which, 
after having been received into the canon of the 
New Testament, has, though without just cause, 
since the third century, been the occasion of 
much controversy and division in the Christian 

The same valuable writer indeed tells us, in the 
same page, that Beza declares that in an ancient 
Greek copy of the New Testament he found, after 
6 the first day of the week,' these words, c the 
Lord's day,' as exagetical. But the abruptness 
of the parenthesis in which the explanatory clause 
is mentioned, gives it very much the appearance 
of the copyist having added it to the manuscript 
he was transcribing, solely by his own autho- 

I cannot doubt the fact of the interpolation in 
Rev. 1. 10. when I consider that St. Ignatius, 
the most ancient of the Christian Fathers, who 
urges the Christians in the strongest terms to show 
particular regard to the first day in honour of 
Christ's resurrection, though the cotemporary of 
the apostle John for thirty years, and his disci- 
ple, in calling Sunday < Lord's day,' (if he ever 
calls it so,) never once pleads the authority and 
example of his master for this practice. It is 
perfectly incredible that this celebrated man, 
whose talents, learning, and piety, were thought 

202 Claim of the First Bay 

so much of, as to be the means of exalting him to 
a bishopric in the ecclesiastical sense of the term 
— this holy martyr — should call the first day 
< Lord's day,' and the 6 Queen of days,' without 
ever mentioning the words as a quotation from 
the Revelation, which he must have known to 
be there, had they been there-in his days.* if he 
had, after quoting the words, commented upon 
them, in his master's name, in the manner usually 
done, the comment could not have been received 
or treated as equivalent to Inspiration by any 
consistent Protestant; but it would at least have 
tended to promote his design far more than all his 
eulogies and vehemence. There is no modern 
writer that agrees with him in his view and aim 
relative to the first day, who does not quote the 
passage in Rev. 1. 10., and in whose work, far 
from being omitted, it does not exhibit a conspi- 
cuous and splendid figure. 

No writer, except St. Ignatius, even mentions 
the expression c Lord's day' till towards the close 
of the second century : much less quotes it from 
Rev. 1. 10. : for as to the Epistle of St. Barnabas, 
and the Ecclesiastical or Apostolical Canons, the 
last of which works contains the words i Lord's 

* Either St. Ignatius had no occasion to plead as he did, or 
he had occasion to use a much stronger plea, provided he 
knew of one. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 203 

day,' (though not as quoted from the Revelation,) 
the first would have formed a part of Revelation, 
had it been really written by the apostle Barna- 
bas ;• and the latter work is by no means so an- 
cient as the title imports. Justin Martyr calls the 
first day * Sunday,' and never intimates that it did 
or ought to go by another name. He says nothing 
about the passage in the Revelation, nor produ- 
ces it in support of the divine authority of that 
religious regard, which, according to him, was 
paid by the Christians at Rome to a part at least 
of the first day. Had the passage existed and 
been known to hirn, he would most likely have 
thought it as much to his purpose to quote it, as 
to tell us that 'the Sun of righteousness arose on 
Sunday.' The Fathers and Councils subsequent, 
to that time call the first day 'Lord's day' as 
well as 'Sundaj',' and by its appropriate name, 
and are as solicitous as St. Ignatius for its obser- 
vance ; but are equally silent with him respect- 
ing the words attributed to the apostle John. 
The most learned advocates among the moderns 
for the first day, in applying Rev. 1. 10. to that 
day, never refer to any writer earlier than the 
fourth century that quotes it ; which they would 
have done, if they could have found any : and 

* Barnabas, according to Mr. Wright, (p. 110,) who has 
been noticed before, calls it merely the eighth day. 

204 Claim of the First Day 

therefore I suspect, as I mentioned before, that 
the interpolation, as I think it is, was made after 
or about the time of Constantino the Great,* pos- 
sibly with a view to support the edicts of that 
prince in favour of the first day, whicli take no 
notice of the religious regard hitherto paid to the 
seventh day as much as to the first clay, in all the 
Christian Churches, except those of Rome and 

Of course, those in the early ages who rejected 
the divine authority of the Revelation itself, do 
not cite the passage in question ; nor can their 
silence be produced as an argument against its 
authenticity. To this number belong many of 

* ' It is very likely/ says Morer, p. 57, ' that the more so- 
lemn and public use of the words [Lord's day] was not ob- 
served till about the time of Sylvester II, when, by Constan- 
tino's command, it became an injunction. It was afterwards 
more generally noted in conversation and writing, religious 
and civil. Till the time of that emperor and that prelate, it 
had never commenced an Ecclesiastical Constitution. This 
agrees with the notion of the present Church, looking on it a* 
a very decent and laudable custom, yet still a custom, conti- 
nued from universal tradition, and not a divine ordinance. 
Isidore and Hesychius call it an apostolic tradition, and an 
instance of the authority of the Church/ This custom would 
have been general, and even sole, from the beginning, had the 
phrase Rev. 1. 10., together with the sense now affixed to 
it, been known and received. 

to be the WeeMy Sabbath. 205 

the Greek Churches, Gregory Nazianzen, and 
the Council of Laodicea, held about A. D. 364 ; 
[Morer, p. 47.] the two last leaving it out of 
their catalogues of canonical books of the New 
Testament. But it at least follows, that whatever 
reason they all had for calling Sunday ' Lord's 
day,' and for consecrating any part of it, the au- 
thority of the apostle John was not that reason. 
Whether the Christian world at present would 
think the New Testament afforded sufficient 
ground for styling the first day c Lord's day' 
with a view to its sanctification, were the pas- 
sage in the Revelation wanted, I am wholly ig- 

Perhaps it will be asked, How came the an- 
cients by the phrase l Lord's day,' if they did 
not get it from JRev. 1. 10. ? — And may it not be 
a quotation, though the book, the chapter, and 
the verse, whence it was taken, be not mention- 
ed? — I answer, that when people are disposed to 
distinguish a day in a particular manner on ac- 
count of some remarkable person or event, they 
are not at a loss for an appropriate name, as the 
Popish Calendar abundantly proves. Lord's day, 
or Christ's day, (which some have preferred,) 
seems a very natural appellation for the ancients 
and their successors to select, for the first day in 
the case supposed. With respect to quoting 
without naming the authority, the moderns do it 

206 Claim of the First Day 

because they have a sign for a quotation : but the 
ancients had none ; and therefore whenever they 
wished to be understood to quote, it was absolute- 
ly necessary that they should at least mention 
their author. This was the more indispensable 
in the situation of those who wished to impose a 
new obligation on the Christians, since the quo- 
tation, together with the comment upon it already 
stated, tended to add considerable weight to the 
exhortation. Their neglect, particularly that 
of St. Ignatius, proves that it was out of their 
power to do either, and that the name and appli- 
cation, by whomsoever introduced, were merely 
of human invention. 

The manuscripts to which we have access are 
not older than about the sixth century. Their 
containing the passage in question, therefore, by 
no means convinces me that the apostle John 
wrote it. 

Such are the grounds on which I do not consi- 
der the words c on the Lord's day,' Rev. 1. 10. 
as authentic, or as following the phrase c I was in 
the Spirit' in that verse, any more than it does 
the same phrase, chap. 4. 2. But were it ever so 
certain that the apostle John did write them, I 
have already shown that they can be of no use or 
importance to any except those who had access 
to him or to some other inspired person ; since 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 20/ 

without this, there are no means of ascertaining 
their true sense and proper application. 

Were all the pious acts recorded to have been 
done or ordered to be done on different first days 
transferred to one and the same first day, they 
would not sanctify that one day to an extent suf- 
ficient to entitle it to the appellation of 'Lord's 
day/ supposing the phrase to mean a day wholly 

Thus have I gone through the whole of the in- 
direct evidence offered in support of the first day's 
Scriptural claim to be the weekly sabbath. I 
shall now give a brief summary of it, as also of 
the remarks that have been made upon it. 

The expression ' first day' cannot be' proved to 
be used or implied in the New Testament more 
than three times; the words c after eight days' 
being at best ambiguous, and therefore inadmis- 
sible in a question of evidence. Of the three 
times that are incontrovertible, in one of them 
the mention of the day was natural and necessa- 
ry, it being the day of the resurrection. Ano- 
ther — that relative to the meeting held once at 
Troas, does not seem to be mentioned with any 
particular view, more than noticing the number 
of days during which the apostle staid there : but 
if it was mentioned with a particular design, 
the design not being disclosed, cannot be conjec- 
tured in favour of a new sabbath, without sup- 

208 Claim of the First Bay 

posing that to be fact, the truth of which remains 
to be proved. Neither the day nor the ser- 
vice are mentioned for their own sake, but for 
the sake of the miracle connected with them. 
As to the remaining mention of the first day, that 
of its appointment by an apostle for individual 
believers, in some churches, for certain weeks, 
' laying by them in store' for a pious act o( bene- 
volence, as God had prospered them through the 
week; the first day of the week following, or the 
seventh of that which preceded, was the only al- 
ternative for the appointment : and except the 
old sabbath was repealed, which I do not admit, 
the seventh day was unfit for the appointment, 
on account of the religious duties which left no 
time for the secular act (supposing it to be law- 
ful, considering the intent) that would naturally, 
if not necessarily, be performed at the time (on 
whatsoever day) the appointment took place, and 
against which association there is no caution. 

The notice, then, of the first day at Troas is 
the only one of the three notices that cannot be 
accounted for.* Is this repeated notice, then, so 

* Supposing the meeting at Troas to have taken place at 
Jerusalem instead, and the account of it to have immediately 
followed Acts 2. 46., would if then have been thought that 
the meeting, &c. proved the first day to be the weekly sab- 
bath? If so, every day must have been a weekly sab- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 209 

wonderful as to entitle the day to a sacred cha- 
racter ? Were it even certain that the expression 
' after eight days' implied an additional mention 
of the first day, it ought not to appear so singu- 
lar that people should come together on the same 
day of the week on which they met the preced- 
ing week, as to justify any other inference than 
that the time suited them. On the other hand, 
should the want of any extraordinary circum- 
stance among Christians have occasioned the se- 
venth day not to be mentioned in the sacred nar- 
rative more than any other day, it ought not to 
create a suspicion that it had lost the sacred cha- 
racter which was conferred upon it at the Crea- 
tion. The absence of such a circumstance will 
undoubtedly be thought by every observer of the 
first day a sufficient reason for the silence of the 
sacred writer respecting that day, when he tells 
us that Paul and Barnabas were a whole year at 
Antioch, and that Paul was seven days at Tyre; 
though it cannot be pleaded on behalf of the first 
day, as it can of the seventh, that it had been of 

bath. As to the injunction (1 Cor. 16. 2.) relative to a religi- 
ous act on several other first days, it would seem that the 
daily acts of public worship at Jerusalem were by no means 
confined to one week. Had the supposition been a fact, the 
mention of the first day, and not of the rest, would have beeu 
attributed solely to the affair of Eutychus, 

210 Claim of the First Bay 

universal obligation from the commencement of 
time up to that moment. 

That extraordinary and beneficial acts took 
place on the first day repeatedly and exclusively, 
either cannot be proved, or is not true; and 
were they both true, as also capable of being 
proved to be so, however calculated they might 
be to impress the minds of the apostles on the 
recurrence of the day of the week or of the 
day of the year when they happened, no effect 
on their conduct in consequence can be known 
to us, or lay any obligation upon us, as nothing 
is said in the inspired writings on these sub- 
jects; the pious acts which they record as hav- 
ing been performed or enjoined on the first day, 
not being stated by them as so performed or en- 
joined on account of the supernatural and bene- 
ficial events that had distinguished it. 

No religious act was performed at Troas, 
which the sacred narrative does not declare to 
have been performed on other days likewise, as 
well as on the first day; the performance was 
only once, so far as is known ; and we should not 
have known of that, had it not been for the affair 
of Eutychus, which would not have been the 
case, had it implied, or been designed to imply, 
a law; no law — particularly not a divine one, 
being ever promulgated indirectly or incidental- 
ly. Each of these acts (as also the private act of 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 211 

pious benevolence, 1 Cor. 16. 2.) has been per- 
formed repeatedly, and even statedly performed 
in modern times, on week days, without any 
one's supposing that the performance indicated 
that the day was considered as a sabbath, or 
that it rendered it one. The act of pious bene- 
volence just mentioned (1 Cor. 16. 1, 2.) to have 
been enjoined, was confined to certain churches; 
it was contingent, temporary, and probably in- 
tended to last but a few weeks at furthest — even 
if a caution had been given against perform- 
ing on the same day the secular act which pre- 
ceded it. 

Neither Acts 20. 7« nor 1 Cor. 16. 2. informs 
us how the rest of the day (by far the greater 
part) was employed, or intended to be employed. 
That was not the case with the seventh day ; for 
God is said at its institution to have sanctified it : 
and in the Fourth Commandment it is ordered 
to be kept holy. The expression • Lord's day/ 
Rev. 1. 10. cannot prove the whole of the first 
day, in the two instances already referred to, to 
have been devoted to pious acts, much less that 
this was to be the case with every succeeding 
Sunday; on the contrary, the sanctification of 
the first day must be proved from these passages, 
before * Lord's day' can be referred to that day — 
even admitting that the expression 'Lord's day' 

212 Claim of the First Bay 

necessarily means a day to be wholly devoted to 

Could this difficulty in the way of applying the 
phrase ' Lord's day' (on the supposition of its im- 
porting what has just been stated) to any day ex- 
cept the seventh day be surmounted, still the day 
of our Lord's ascension, if not that of his crucifix- 
ion, has as good a claim to the appellation in a case 
that is left to conjecture, as the day of his resur- 
rection ; and acts of public worship, both ordina- 
ry and extraordinary, are in the sacred narrative 
(Acts 2. 46.) stated to have taken place on those 
days, as well as on the first day. There are even 
strong reasons for suspecting that the words 
themselves are an interpolation, as I have before 

Such is the purport of what has been said for 
and against the Scriptural obligation to sanctify 
the first day. What is the result? This — that 
we have the example of the first Christians and 
of an apostle, for doing that on the first day, 
which it would have been lawful for us to do on 
that or on any other day without such an exam- 
ple -, namely, the performance of public worship, 
and the celebration of the Lord's supper. But 
this is not the same with their doing these acts on 
the day because it was the sabbath. We have 
no example of their doing them for that reason. 
The acts themselves imply no such reason. We 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 213 

have no right to ascribe them to that cause in the 
absence of Scriptural information ; and there are 
instances in our own time, not only of public wor- 
ship, but also of the public celebration of the 
Lord's supper, on a week-day: which day, not- 
withstanding, no one would imagine to be a sab- 
bath in the view of the worshippers on account of 
these transactions, even if the cause of selecting 
the day was unknown, since experience and ob- 
servation show that a variety of causes may oc- 
casion it, each of which is wholly unconnected 
with that of a sabbath . The precedent, therefore, 
at Troas, authorizes that which would have been 
lawful without its authority ; but it enjoins no- 
thing. The words in 1 Cor. 16. 2. enjoin some- 
thing, it is true, to be done on the first day ; but 
the injunction is not attributed by the apostle to 
the sacred character of the day : it may easily be 
accounted for without such a supposition ; it was 
given only to certain churches, and it was to last 
only for a time.* 

* In appointing a day, and that weekly, the apostle's sole 
object seems to have been to render the private sequestra- 
tion more easy, certain, and productive. With these results, 
the day for the act was probably indifferent to him. He says 
nothing about public worship ; and it does not follow, from 
the Christians at Troas having had it once on the first day, 
that those elsewhere had it always on that day, or evefl 

214 Claim of the First Bay 

Is it possible that circumstances so ambiguous 
and so inconclusive, as those in the texts which 
mention the first day, should be able to establish 
the fact of a divine institution, when every one of 
that character which the Scriptures record, ex- 
cept that of sacrifices, which existed before there 
were any Scriptures, is stated so expressly, clear- 
ly, pointedly, particularly, and repeatedly ? 

I have already proved, from Acts 2. 46., that 
there were no religious acts performed on the 
first day, which were not performed among 
Christians on the seventh day, and on every day, 
though none of them except the first day is men- 
tioned by name. But no one thinks that these 
acts make or prove any of the other days to be a 
sabbath. Nor would they make or prove the se- 
venth day to be the sabbath, even were it men- 
tioned by name, if nothing else could be said in 
support of its divine right to sanctification. 
There is, however, an account of its institution 
both in Genesis 2. 2. (before there were any 
Jews,) and in the Fourth Commandment, and 
for a reason which relates to all mankind as 
well as to the Jews. Its institution was not 
mentioned before it was wanted, being wanted 
for civil, moral, and religious purposes, (if 
wanted for them at all,) as soon as man and 
human society existed. Nor can its repeal be 
proved, without making it, like the ceremonial 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 215 

law of the Jews, a shadow of which Christ 
was the body, which it never was, and also 
without the destruction of the Fourth Command- 
ment. The change of dispensation did not make 
the repeal of the seventh day sabbath necessary, 
it being as adequate to evangelical purposes as 
any other day; and the gospel history, except the 
resurrection, relates as much to the seventh day as 
it does to the first. The reason given for its in- 
stitution continued the same as ever, and will 
continue as long as the world stands — nor is 
there any instance of its secularization ; on the 
contrary, it is invariably called sabbath after 
our Lord's time as well as before, without any 
warrant for prefixing the epithet Jewish. The 
institution, therefore, must in fairness be sup- 
posed to continue in force, were there no ex- 
ample at all of its observance, or could no rea- 
son be assigned for the want of one — neither of 
which is however the fact. But to prove the 
existence of an institution that was never yet 
heard of, there must be an example of something 
said or done in consequence ; and that which is 
said or done ought necessarily to imply such an 
institution, and not be such words and acts as 
those that have been discussed ; which might 
have been, whether the institution existed or not. 
The texts which I have been discussing are 
almost always read with a prepossession that the 

216 Claim of the First Bay 

first day is the sabbath. If that appeared from 
other sources to be the fact, the text relative to 
Troas is certainly very consistent with such a 
fact. But the fact is not yet proved ; and mere 
^consistency with an assertion is by no means a 
proof of its truth. 

But it is asked, Do not these passages, taken 
together, amount to a probability, if not to a cer- 
tainty, of the divine institution they are brought 
forward to prove ? — I cannot say that, in my opi- 
nion, they do. Far from resembling any of the 
institutions recorded in Scripture in ' pomp and 
circumstance,' the case they compose does not 
exhibit the slightest appearance of one. There , 
is no leaning whatever in the meetings of the 
disciples together, even if they did meet on the 
first day more than once before Christ's ascen- 
sion ; in Christ's visiting and blessing them at 
these meetings ; in the day of Pentecost falling 
that year on a Sunday (if it had been so, which I 
do not believe to have been the fact) ; in the reli- 
gious acts performed or ordered to be performed 
on that day ; or, lastly, in the expression 
'Lord's day:' whether these circumstances are 
taken singly or conjointly, there is, I repeat, no 
leaning in them towards the institution in ques- 
tion. No individual would think of drawing 
such an inference from them, in the absence of 
some other reason. To warrant such an instance, 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 217 

a divine intimation that the incidents took place 
either because the first day was now the weekly 
sabbath, or because they were meant to prove it 
such, is absolutely necessary. Much less can it 
be reasonably thought that they have such a lean- 
ing, when it is recorded likewise that the disci- 
ples met on other days; — that Christ met with 
them on other days; — that he blessed them on 
another day ; — that great and beneficial events 
took place on other days ; — that religious acts, 
even the most solemn, were performed on other 
days; — and that only some hours of the first day 
were ever spent in religious acts, admitting that it 
is that which is called 'the Lord's' day. As to 
the injunction of the apostle, (1 Cor. 16. 2.) it 
could only be fixed for the end of one week or 
the beginning of the next ; and if the secular act, 
which was a prerequisite to the pious and bene- 
volent one to be performed in private, immediately 
preceded it, (as 1 think it naturally if not neces- 
sarily did, and against which there is no caution,) 
the injunction seems to me to be fitter for a week- 
day than for a sabbath. There is at least no hint 
that the secular act took place on the day pre- 

The singular circumstances, therefore, are re- 
duced to these : that the day should be named on 
which the meeting at Troas took place — and the 
expression ' Lord's day.' There are no means, I 


218 Claim of the First Day 

admit, of accounting for either. But total uncer- 
tainty is no proper ground for inference.* No- 
thing can be inferred from the transactions at 
Troas taking place on the first day, any more 
than from the apostle's staying there seven days, 
which is equally unaccounted for. I may add, 
that were similar transactions to take place on a 
week-day in our time, and the reason for one day 
having been preferred to another day for that 
purpose be unknown, it would not be inferred 
that the worshippers did it on account of the 
day's being their sabbath, since it would be 
known that a variety of causes might have occa- 
sioned it. Respecting the 4 Lord's day,' were it ad- 
mitted that it must mean a day devoted to Christ, 
on account of its being memorable for something 
in his history, still it would be as likely to be the 
day of his crucifixion or of his ascension, as that 
of his resurreetion ; or if the latter be most likely, 
as the first day only is named, still it would claim 
religious acts only for a part of the Lord's day, 

* The first clay probably obtained its appropriate name, as 
I have before hinted, from the circumstance of the inspired 
missionaries having frequent occasion to notice the day on 
which our Lord rose, and from their wish to mention it with- 
out circumlocution. After having thus obtained its appro- 
priate name, it is easy to conceive that it was used on other 
occasions, especially where a circular notice was required. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 219 

as that is the utmost which is ever recorded con- 
cerning the first day. 

The circumstances, therefore, which constitute 
the indirect evidence in question, turn out to be 
not twigs, which, though weak in themselves, 
when tied up in a bundle will be found sufficient- 
ly strong; but mere ciphers, which, however 
powerful they might prove to be with a signifi- 
cant figure, without such a figure cannot amount 
to more than nothing. The significant figure 
wanting in the present case is, that Christ has 
sanctified and blessed the first day, on account of 
his rising upon it. 

To conclude these remarks on the Scriptural 
claim of the first day to be the weekly sabbath ; 
the friends of it cannot justly affirm that the con- 
sequence of disproving its divine authority will be 
the superseding of the weekly sabbath altogether, 
till the non -obligation or repeal of the old sabbath 
is proved. That, in my opinion, for the reasons 
already given, still remains to be done. Till 
that is done, the arguments of the Sabbatarians 
against the right of the first day to consecration 
must be considered as tending to prevent the se- 
rious inconvenience of keeping two sabbaths, not 
to release the Christian world from obligation to 
keep any. 

The dissatisfaction here expressed with the 
evidence produced from Scripture in support of 

220 Claim of the First Bay 

the first day sabbath, is by no means confined to 
the Sabbatarians. The observers of it who ac- 
knowledge that it possesses no divine claim 
to sanctification, are numerous and respectable. 
Grotius, and the Reformers in general, consider- 
ed the sacred regard paid to the first day as per- 
fectly optional. Tindal [See Morer, p. 216.] 
says, in his answer to Sir Thomas More, ' We 
are lords of the sabbath, and may change it to 
Monday or to any other day, or appoint every 
tenth day, or two days in a week, as we find it 
expedient : Calvin is said to have once designed 
to transfer it to Thursday, 'as an instance of 
Christian liberty;' especially being the day 
whereon might be contemplated the most tri- 
umphant and glorious act of our Lord, his ascen- 
sion into heaven.' These great and good men 
could not have expressed themselves in this man- 
ner, if they had believed the first day to be the 
weekly sabbath by any precept or example in 
Scripture, Luther himself could not have re- 
garded it in this light upon the ground of Rev. 1. 
10., since he, as well as Calvin, (according to 
Morer, p. 47.) had little esteem for the Revela- 
tion as belonging to the sacred canon. 

Bossuetj the famous Bishop of Meaux, in 
France, in the time of Louis XIV., charges the 
Protestants with inconsistency in rejecting the 
orders of the Church as not being founded on 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 221 

Scripture, while they retained the first day sab- 
bath, which was no more founded on it than the 
other. Morer tells us, (p. 58.) that the Royal 
Martyr, Charles the First, on the same principle 
thus argued for the observance of Easter with 
the ' new Reformers' in his reign : • I conceive 
the celebration of this feast was instituted by the 
same authority which changed the Jewish sab- 
bath into the Lord's day. For it will not be 
found in Scripture where Saturday is dischar- 
ged to be kept, or turned into Sunday ; where- 
fore it must be the Church's authority that 
changed the one and instituted the other. Where- 
fore my opinion is, that those who will not keep 
the feast, may as well return to the observation 
of Saturday, and refuse the weekly Sunday. 
When any body can show me that herein I am 
in an error, I shall not be ashamed to confess and 
amend it.' 

But those among the professed observers of the 
first day who virtually deny its divine authority 
to be a sabbath, are far more numerous, and be- 
long to Christians of various descriptions. 1 
consider in this light the whole of the Christian 
Fathers, Councils, Emperors, and Kings. For 
though they strongly recommend, and even en- 
join, the observance of the first day, I do not re- 
collect, in the extracts made by the advocates of 
the first day from their writings, decrees, or procla- 

222 Claim of the First Day 

mations, a single appeal to Scriptural authority* 
They aver that it ought to be kept on account of 
our Lord's rising on it, but they never pretend to 
say that this is the judgment of Revelation as well 
as their own. They call the day a festival, but 
they never call it sabbath, (except metaphorical- 
ly, according to Bishop White,) as the Scrip- 
tures call it the seventh day, or by any other 
name which necessarily implies that the whole 
day was kept; for i Lord's day,' as has been 
shown, does not necessarily imply that,* nor in* 
deed is it so considered by numbers of its pious 
observers themselves, whether in ancient or in 
modern times. 

How can this universal silence on the part of 
the Fathers and Councils relative to the Scriptural 
right of the first day to sanctification be account- 
ed for ? Was it because this right was universal- 
ly acknowledged and respected by the Chris- 
tians ?t This was not the case during the three 
first centuries, when the regard paid to it did 

* As the days of the week are not of divine origin, either 
Thursday, Friday, or Sunday, might have been denominated 
* Lord's day/ (if the phrase had not occurred in Rev. 1. 10.) 
by human authority, as being memorable in Christ's history, 
and only a part of it kept, if any at all. 

t There is reason to believe that during the apostolic age 
the Christians universally observed the seventh day, since the 
Jews never charge them with not keeping it. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 223 

not exclude the seventh day sabbath from any 
of the churches, except at Rome and Alexan- 
dria, and when it was found necessary to issue 
fresh recommendations, exhortations, and in- 
junctions for its observance, whatever might be 
the extent to which that observance was carried.* 
It is true, we hear little, comparatively speaking, 
of the old sabbath, between the time of Constan- 
tine and the Reformation; but concern on ac- 
count of the notorious secularization of the first 
day occasioned numerous orders from the civil 
and ecclesiastical authorities : still these orders 
are never enforced by any appeal to Scripture. 
Would they have neglected a measure so highly 
conducive to their object, had it really been, 
or had they thought that it was, in their power ? 
Yet anxious as the authors of many of the pro- 
clamations and decrees that history records ap- 
pear to be for the strict observance of the first 
day, they usually associate other days with it, 
and never once attempt to found its right on Scrip- 
ture, any more than they do that of the others, 
which are acknowledged on all hands to derive 

* The observance of a day publicly and externally, 
merely, or partially, though it be done weekly, and though no 
other day is kept better, is not keeping a weekly sabbath ac- 
cording to Scripture, nor any proof that the observer intends 
it for 6uch, without a declaration to that effect. 

224 ' Claim of the First Day 

their sacred character solely from the Church. I 
can in no way account for this neglect, but on 
the ground that though they all thought the ob- 
servance of the first day to be highly reasonable, 
and highly important to the interests of piety and 
good morals, yet it never once entered into their 
imaginations that it was founded on Scripture, 
or supported by divine authority.* 

* The silence of the ancient Fathers and Councils respecting 
every text that is now produced in support of the first day's 
claim, may he thought sufficient to account for the omission to 
quote'Rev. 1. 10. by St. Ignatius and others, without having 
recourse to the supposition that a part of it, namely, * on the 
Lord's day/ is an interpolation. But it should be recollected, 
that this omission was only one of the arguments adduced to 
prove that supposition. Nor is it without considerable force. 
St. Ignatius ought to have quoted that text, if he omitted the 
others, to justify his calling the first day ' Lord's day,' (if he 
ever called it so, or thought that the Scriptures warranted 
and enforced the use of the phrase,) since he is the first 
writer who does so call it. A consistent Protestant could 
not indeed have received his interpretation and application 
of the words as infallible, and equivalent to inspiration ; but 
his quotation would at least have proved the authenticity of 
the passage. The same may be said of those writers who 
lived between his time and that of Constantine. Their 
omission of the only words that give even the supposed ap- 
pearance of divine authority for conferring this new appella- 
tion on the weekly Sunday, or for keeping a new sabbath, is, 
in my opinion, a strong proof that they were not in the text 
during that period. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 225 

During the three first centuries, the Fathers and 
Councils, as before proved, St. Ignatius himself 
included, strongly recommended and even en- 
joined the observance of the seventh day as well 
as that of the first. Would they have done this, 
had they believed the first day to have been sub- 
stituted for the seventh day by any inspired 
writer ? Would any one who now keeps the first- 
day as the Christian sabbath by divine authority, 
recommend, much less enjoin, the observance of 
the preceding day ? 

The moderns, indeed, endeavour to account for 
the conduct of the ancient Christians, on the 
ground of the Jewish converts among them : but 
the latter make no such apology for themselves, 
nor does the New Testament make mention of any 
such complaisance, though there must have been 
as much occasion for it in the time of the apostles 
as afterward, since it is well known that the Jews 
in general were never more attached to their sab- 
bath, than they were during that period; and 
those of them who became Christians cannot rea- 
sonably be supposed to have abandoned it them- 
selves, even if they quietly acquiesced in the non- 
observance of it by the Gentile converts, which, 
considering 1 their conduct relative to circumci- 
sion, is not very likely, had their tempers been 
ever tried. Till it be proved that the old sabbath 
is repealed, and that the new sabbath is of divine 

226 Claim of the First Day 

appointment, nothing ought to appear more natu- 
ral, than that the commandment of man did not 
altogether set aside for three centuries a divine 

In fine, I do not recollect that there was any 
attempt to found the first-day sabbath upon the 
Scriptures, either in England or elsewhere, till 
about A. D. 1618, in the time of the Puritans : 
yet, according to the testimonies of Brerewood, 
White, and the Sabbatarian church-books or tra- 
ditions, it appears that the state of the Sabbatari- 
ans in Germany, France, and England, from Lu- 
ther's time, was such as to give abundant occasion 
for searching the Scriptures upon the subject, had 
the search appeared likely to prove favourable to 
the first day. The learned and pious writer, Mo- 
rer, distinctly and candidly acknowledges (p. 56.) 
that he i cannot imagine the first day sabbath a 
divine institution.' 

The next class that I shall mention of indirect 
objectors to the divine authority of the first day 
among its observers, consists of all those who 
maintain principles incompatible with that idea. 
This class is likewise numerous and respectable. 
Bishop White and Dr. Wallis belong to it ; and 
in general all those, who, notwithstanding their 
attempts to prove the obligation to observe the 
first day from Scripture, assert that the Divine 
Being cannot have appointed any particular day 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 227 

for the weekly sabbath, because it is impossible 
for all mankind to observe it during the same por- 
tion of absolute time, or in a distant age, and un- 
der other circumstances, to ascertain the weekly 
return of it. If these arguments have any force 
in them, the first day never can have been divine- 
ly instituted any more than the seventh. The 
like may be said of all those (and they are not 
few either in the Establishment or among the Dis- 
senters) who say, with Dr. Wallis, that if the na- 
tion should change the weekly sabbath from Sun- 
day to Tuesday, they would change with it. — 
Could men of conscience and piety do this, if 
they believed that the apostles appointed the first 
day to be the weekly sabbath, because our Lord 
rose upon it? — Nor is the opinion substantially 
less hostile to the first day, that the seventh part 
of time only is, set apart for consecration by the 
Blessed God. I am aware, indeed, that this ex- 
pression is by the advocates for the first day em- 
ployed merely for the purpose of interpreting that 
of the seventh day in Genesis 2. 2, 3. and in the 
Fourth Commandment. But 1 do not know why 
it should not be employed also for the purpose of 
interpreting the expression < first day' in the texts 
usually brought to prove the sanctifi cation of that 
day by divine appointment. For those texts do 
not more definitively and exclusively point out the 
first, than those in the Old Testament do the last 

228 Claim of the First Bay 

day of the week. The consequence of such an 
extension and application will be, that Christians 
are at liberty to transfer the weekly sabbath from 
the day of the resurrection to some other, when, 
and as often, as they please, provided the change 
may be so contrived as to take place after six 
days' labour; whicli may easily be done by 
keeping the new day as well as Sunday in the 
first instance. A real and consistent friend of the 
first day sabbath, therefore, ought to dismiss the 
idea of the seventh part of time having been or- 
dered to be sanctified, and confine himself to that 
of the first day having been ordered to be sancti- 
fied. To secure its exclusive and permanent 
consecration, he should say, as the Sabbatarians 
affirm concerning the day of God's rest in the 
parts of the Old Testament already alluded to, 
that it was the first day on which the important 
event of the resurrection happened — that no other 
day could claim the honour of that event — that 
the institution of Christ and his apostles relates 
not to the seventh part of time first, and to the 
first day afterwards, but solely to that day — that 
the appointment of the seventh part of time was 
only the necessary consequence of the institution, 
not the institution itself — that the first day must 
continue to be the sabbath till it be repealed by 
divine authority — and that whenever it was re- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 229 

pealed, the seventh part of time would inevitably 
be repealed with it. 

I notice next as hostile to the opinion of the first 
day's being a Scriptural sabbath, a class of peo- 
ple who, though they publicly and externally 
keep it, yet do not regard it privately and men- 
tally, as thinking that there is now no day, the 
twenty-four hours of which ought to be sacred to 
God, as the seventh day was formerly. I believe 
that there are many among the truly godly who 
thus think and act, and that, owing to certain cir- 
cumstances, their number does not appear to be 
near so great as it really is. As the observance 
of another day does not render it inconsistent 
with their worldly convenience to regard the first 
day, so far as the laws of the land, the good opi- 
nion of their religious connexions, and facilities 
for promoting spiritual objects in the world and 
in the church require, they need not risk the dis- 
covery of their real sentiment by any act or neg^ 
lect in their public conduct ; and in what manner 
they employ themselves privately or mentally, 
not even their own families can tell, except they 
please to reveal it. These disclosures, however, 
I suspect, are not often made in private conversa- 
tion, and much less openly : whence it happens 
that there are perhaps numbers who possess the 
reputation of sanctifying the first day without de- 
serving it. I have reason to think that there 

230 Claim of the First Day 

are evangelical ministers, as well as private Chris- 
tians, in this class ; and that they are to be found 
both among the Dissenters and in the Establish- 

The next class of indirect adversaries to the 
divine authority of the first day sabbath is nume- 
rous indeed, as it comprehends almost the whole, 
if not the whole, of its serious observers. I refer 
to those who found the obligation to sanctify it, in 
part at least, upon the institution in Genesis 2. 
2, 3. and upon the Fourth Commandment. This 
they do, as supposing that the institution, with its 
repetition, relates solely to the seventh part of 
time ; and since, in their opinion, this part is now 
determined by the New Testament to be the first 
day of the week, they think that the obligation 
contained in the institution to sanctify the seventh 
part of time, is transferred and confined to the 
first day. But I have already shown, that in 
both the passages of the Old Testament alluded 
to, it is the seventh or last day of the week, not 
the seventh part of time, that was sanctified by 
the Deity. He set apart for devotion the day on 
which he rested from the creation, and no other 
day of the week ; and neither our first parents, 
nor any of their posterity, were at liberty to alter 
the sabbath to another day, on account of having 
laboured the six preceding days, or under any 
other pretence ; which they would have had a 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 231 

right to do, had only the seventh part of time ab- 
stractedly been instituted. The same may be said 
of the Fourth Commandment, which is merely a 
repetition of the institution, as appears from the 
reason assigned for the precept at the close of it. 
By the expression in it, ' the seventhday,' the se- 
venth part of time abstractedly is not meant, but 
the seventh or last day of the week. It was that 
day which the Jews were in the habit of observ- 
ing at the time the Decalogue was given ; the rea- 
son assigned for it will not suit any other day of 
the week than that which was the weekly return 
of the day on which God rested in Paradise : nor 
were the Jews at liberty to change it for any 
other, as they would have been had it related 
merely to the seventh part of time in general ; for 
there is no precept which confines them to the 
observance of the last day of the week, if the 
Fourth Commandment does not : nor would the 
commandment have obliged them to keep any 
other day, had the seventh day been repealed be- 
fore Christ's time, whatever reason or the New 
Testament may do. Whether in Paradise or at 
Sinai, the seventh part of time was instituted 
merely as the necessary consequence of institu- 
ting the seventh day ; it was not instituted itself: 
in both the cases 1 am speaking of, its sacred 
claim rests entirely upon that of the seventh day ; 
and whenever the latter terminates, the former 

232 Claim of the First Bay 

terminates with it, so far as Genesis 2. 2, 3. and 
the Fourth Commandment are concerned.* 

If, then, the seventh day is repealed, as the pi- 
ous observers of the first day suppose, the institu- 
tion in Genesis, and the Fourth Commandment, 
are repealed with it ; and then the seventh day, 
the only time they refer to, being deprived of its 
sacred claim, nothing remains in them to be sanc- 
tified, notwithstanding the morality of the term 
itself; and the precept having ceased, there is no 
further occasion for the reason that was assigned 
for it. Christians have no more to do with these 
parts of Scripture, than they have with the insti- 
tution of sacrifices, or with that of circumcision. 
They must look to the New, and not to the Old 
Testament, as well for the obligation to sanctify 
one day in a week, as for the particular day 
which they are to sanctify. 

Nor do I see why this should not suffice them, 
if they really think that the New Testament insti- 
tutes the first day. Why should they have re- 
course to passages that are either made void, or 

* Those who observe Sunday on the ground of Acts 20. 7. 
and 1 Cor. 1G. 2, 3. would think it strange to be told that 
first day in those texts meant only the seventh part of time, 
and that any one of the seven days would do as well as Sun- 
day. Neither in Genesis 2. 2, 3. nor in the Fourth Command- 
ment, was the seventh part of time first instituted, and then 
the seventh day. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 233 

that order a different day to be sanctified ? These 
passages could not avail the new sabbath, if it 
wanted their help. But if the first day be really 
appointed by Christ or his apostles to be the 
weekly sabbath, it needs no such help. The ob- 
ligation to sanctify it follows of course. Not on- 
ly is the sacred character of the seventh part of 
time which was lost by the repeal of the seventh 
day (if it was repealed) revived and restored by 
the new institution, but, what is far more, the 
very day is designated, and is no more alterable 
by man than the seventh day was. 

I shall, no doubt, be asked whether a law may 
not be repealed and altered in part, without re- 
pealing and altering the whole ? Certainly it may. 
Both in Genesis 2. 2, 3. and. in the Fourth Com- 
mandment, the Divine Being, if he had pleased, 
could have substituted ' the seventh part of time' 
for \ the seventh day,' without altering the part 
relative to sanctification ; but the reason for the 
latter must have been struck out, as being irrele- 
vant. Or, retaining the part relative to sanctifi- 
cation, the words substituted might have been 
'the first day,' and the reason assigned for it 
might have been, 'for the Lord Jesus Christ, 
having died for the sins of men, rose on the first 
day,' instead of the present reason. But as the 
Blessed God has not thought fit to name any of 
these changes himself, no one can be warranted 

234 Claim of the First Day 

in making them even mentally.* There is at 
present no alternative but that of retaining or re- 
jecting the whole of the Fourth Commandment. t 
I have heard it said, that when reference is 
made to the Fourth Commandment on behalf of 
the first day, it is made not to the letter, but to 
the spirit, the morality, and the equity of it ; and 
that these are confined to sanctifying the seventh 
part of time. But proper as the distinction be- 
tween the letter and the spirit \ of a law may be, 
when circumstances only are concerned, that is 
not the case when the essence is concerned. The 
spirit of a law is synonymous with its essence ; 
and in the present case is this, that God has ap- 

* To justify these mental alterations, the first day's claim 
should have heen mentioned in the New Testament, with 
some reference there to Genesis 2. 2, 3. or to the Fourth 
Commandment. The first day is not mentioned at all in 
Hebrews 4. much less any right that it has to be a day of holy 
rest. Our Lord did not enter heaven, the only rest there 
spoken of, on the first day, upon finishing the work of re- 
demption. The mental alterations in the old institution of 
the sabbath, were they justified by the New Testament, 
would amount to a repeal both of Gen. 2. 2, 3. and of the 
Fourth Commandment. 

t Were the purport of law subject to mental alterations, 
transgression would be impossible. 

X The Roman Catholics pretend that they use idols, not as 
the objects of devotion, but as helps to it; as if the former 
only was the spirit or essence of the Second Commandment. 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 235 

pointed a certain day to be sanctified weekly for 
a particular reason, which reason is specified, 
and which is applicable to no other day. The 
'seventh day,' therefore, is essential to the 
Fourth Commandment, as the reason given for 
it at the end of the commandment shows. It is 
not a contingency, like the case put in the com- 
mandment of a man's having children or servants ; 
and if a Jew had presumed to treat the seventh 
day as a circumstance, by transferring the sanc- 
tity of it to another day, the daring act would 
have cost him his life. But if a Jew was not war- 
ranted in treating it so, how can such a treatment 
be warrantable in a Christian ? No law can mean 
one thing to one subject, and another to another. 
A Christian may possibly not be subject to the 
Fourth Commandment, as the commandment is 
positive, and therefore repealable, if God pleas- 
ed ; but if he be, he must put that construction 
upon it which it has always borne among the 
Jews, which it bore in our Lord's time, and 
which it bore in the opinion of the holy women, 
and of the evangelist Luke, (ch. 23. 56.) many 
years after the ascension. With respect to the 
claim of the seventh part of time to sanctifi- 
cation, could that be proved, it would be a dic- 
tate of reason ; it would not bind us, apart from 
the institution either in Genesis 2. 2, 3. or the 
Fourth Commandment. But 1 have before shown 

236 Claim of the First Dai/ 

that its claim is no better than that of the sixth or 
eighth part, and that the equity of either of them 
would appear as great as that of the seventh part 
of it, if God had been pleased to institute it, and 
thus to have made the week consist of six or of 
eight days, instead of seven. The precept is 
wholly positive. The reference, therefore, of one 
who observes the first day to the Fourth Com- 
mandment, for proving or enforcing its right to 
sanctification, is useless, and injurious to his 
cause. He may allude to it by saying that the 
first day has as good a claim to sanctification by 
means of the New Testament, as the seventh day 
had by means of the Old, if he can prove the 
position ; but he cannot prove its claim by 
means of the Old Testament. He will only 
show, by the attempt, that the seventh day is 
Unrepealed, and that therefore he ought to keep 
it; thus making good the words of Bishop 
White, that whoever attempts to prove the right 
of the first day to sanctification from the Fourth 
Commandment, is a Sabbatarian. He who thus 
acts, betrays his doubts concerning the sufficien- 
cy of the evidence by which the claim of the first 
day is supported, by stating, in order to supply 
the defect, its resemblance to the seventh day, in 
being, like that, the seventh part of time : for 
such a resemblance is no more necessary to its 
being a divine institution, (provided such a re- 

to be the Weekly Sabbath. 237 

semblance existed,) than that of baptism to cir- 
cumcision would be, in order to prove the divine 
authority of the former. Suppose the New Tes- 
tament had appointed two sabbaths in a week (as 
Tindal wished to have) instead of the original 
one, would the contrariety of this to the appoint- 
ment of the Old Testament hav-e proved that it 
was not of God ? By no means. On the other 
hand, no resemblance between a supposed newr 
institution and an old one can prove that the for- 
mer is divine, notwithstanding the divine autho- 
rity of the latter. 

In fine, to the number of those who indirectly 
agree with the Sabbatarians in denying the divine 
institution of the first day sabbath, must be added 
all who, professing to observe Sunday, perform 
secular work on it without necessity — all who in 
foreign countries, whether clergy or laity, see a 
part of it at least publicly devoted to business or 
amusement, without remonstrating openly in a 
body against the profane encroachment — all ma- 
gistrates who decide that secular occupation in 
private on the day is lawful, provided it be exer- 
cised for amusement, and not for gain — all who 
travel on it unnecessarily — in short, all who spend 
the parts of it that are not wanted for public wor- 
ship in reading that which is not religious, in 
conviviality and frivolous discourse, or in slum- 

238 Claim of the First Day 

The facts that have been considered separately, 
united together show, that though the repeal of 
the seventh day sabbath is acquiesced in very ge- 
nerally in Christendom, the acknowledgment of 
the first day as the Scriptural sabbath never has 
been, nor is at present, any thing near so gene- 


Differences of Opinion concerning the supposed 
Authority of Apostolic Tradition to render the 
First Day the Weekly Sabbath, 

Whatever conviction may be felt by individu- 
als who observe the first day respecting the evi- 
dence which the New Testament affords of its 
divine claim to sanctification, the conviction is 
very far from being general in the Christian 
world. No one can doubt this, who recollects 
the proof contained in the last Chapter not only 
of the indirect and virtual, but also of the positive 
and avowed disbelief of that position. The ear- 
liest Fathers and Councils, stron gly as they recom- 
mend and enjoin the celebration of the first dfo 
as~a festival in honour of our Lord's resurrection, 

Supposed Authority, fyc. 239 

never once plead the example, any more than the 
precept, of the apostles for it. They distinguish 
the day sometimes by the title of < Lord's day,' 
as well as by the appellations of c first day' 
and 'Sunday;' but they never tell us that they 
derived the expression from the Revelation, and 
jjnich less attempt to justify the application of it 
to the weekly Sunday by quotations from the sa- 
cred writings, notwithstanding the general associ- 
ation of the seventh day with the first day during 
that period in the weekly observances of Christen- 
dom, proves the doubts that prevailed concerning 
its exclusive right to sanctification. This prac- 
tice was reserved for the modern advocates of the 
first day ; it has not, I believe, existed much 
more than two centuries — many ages later than 
the time when the right of the Revelation to be 
received into the sacred canon was denied by so 
many eminent observers of the first day. \y 

The decrees of councils, the edicts of princes, 
and the laws of nations, in favour of sanctifying 
the first day, both before and since the time of 
Protestantism, proceed chiefly, if not solely, 
upon the opinions and practice of the first Chris- 
tians after the apostolic age, derived, as they sup- 
pose, by tradition from the apostles. The most 
eminent writers on the side of Sunday, such as 
White and Morer, take the same ground. They 
seem to think that though the apostles never in* 


240 Supposed Authority of 

stituted the first day sabbath in their writings, 
nor ever did or directed to be done any thing on 
that day, assigning its sacred character as the rea- 
son, or any thing which they might not have 
done, had it been another day, yet that they rec- 
koned it to be the weekly sabbath, and kept it as 
such — that their disciples, acquaintance, and co- 
temporaries, knew these particulars to be facts, 
and observed the day accordingly — that from 
them the tradition passed to the Christians in the 
next age — and that from them it passed to the 
ages following in succession. 

Whether or not the observers of the first day 
would acquiesce in this tradition, if they did not 
think that it was wanted to cover a defect in the 
title of the first day to consecration from written 
revelation, or if it did not at least coincide with 
and confirm that sense which they give to the 
texts usually adduced in support of the first day's 
claim, I am unable to say. But they cannot 
justly blame the Sabbatarians for reminding them 
on this occasion of the old maxim, the soundness 
of which they in general admit, that < the Bible, 
and that only, is the religion of Protestants.'* As 

* Tradition may possibly convey truth, as appears in tht- 
instances of the ' angels that kept not their first estate ;' of 
the name borne by the evil spirit who tempted our first pa- 
rents in the form of a serpent; of the prophecy delivered by 

Apostolic Tradition, Sec. 241 

Protestants, they themselves maintain the Scrip- 
tures to be a perfect rule of faith and practice. 
They cannnot consent to the association of Tra- 
dition with Revelation ; persuaded that, however 
it might be the duty of the Thessalonians to « hold 
fast the traditions they had received,' by word as 
well as by epistle, from an apostle, it was not the 
duty of those to do so, who had received them 
merely from one that said or wrote that he re- 
ceived them from an apostle ; since the contrary 
practice would open a wide door to all manner of 
error and superstition, whether arising from 
weakness or from wickedness. They insist also 
that it is the duty and the right of every one to 
determine the meaning of Scripture for himself — 
provided he does not injure the civil rights of 
his neighbour or of his country. Accordingly, 
they deny that the l rock on which was to be built 
the Church of the living God, the pillar and 
ground of the truth, ' was the person of Peter, and 
his pretended successors, the Popes : nor can 

Knoch ; of the names of the magicians who withstood Moses 
in Egypt ; and of the contest between Michael the archan- 
gel and the devil concerning the body of Moses. But their 
troth could not have been ascertained, if they had not re- 
ceived the sanction of Revelation. It is upon that authority 
that we receive them, and not upon the authority of tradi- 
tion , 

242 Supposed Authority of 

they admit that the Church of Rome has a right 
to impose its sense of Scripture upon the common 
people, under the pretence that the unlearned and 
unstable, who < wrest the Scriptures to their own 
destruction,' are to be found only among them. 

Upon the same principles, which both reason 
and revelation strongly inculcate, the Sabbatari- 
ans act, when they reject the sense usually given 
of the phrase 6 Lord's day,' Rev. 1. 10. even ad- 
mitting that it was written by the apostle John. 
The phrase, indeed, though sometimes used con- 
cerning the weekly Sunday by the ancient Fathers, 
is never quoted and produced by them as from 
the Scriptures. But if they had quoted it and 
applied it in this manner, their authority ought 
to avail nothing with Protestants against the rea- 
sons before assigned for the impossibility of de- 
termining its meaning and use by the help of any 
other part of Holy Writ. Of these Fathers, St. 
Ignatius is among, if not the earliest. The editions 
of the epistle written by him to the Megarenses, 
which is most frequently referred to by the first 
day writers on the sabbath, differ so much from 
each other respecting the precise words of the 
author relative to this subject, and commentators 
differ so much concerning the sense of the words 
which they all agree that the author did write, 
that it seems to be wholly uncertain whether he 
is speaking of Judaism, or of the seventh day 

Apostolic Tradition, 8?c. 243 

sabbath; of the Lord's day, or of the Lord's life ; 
of celebrating the first day instead of, or after, 
keeping the sabbath* [See Morer, p. 206.] I 
have already quoted his injunction in another part 
to keep the seventh day. At the same time, there 
certainly are passages in which he strongly urges 
the Christians to observe the first day as a festi- 
val in honour of Christ's resurrection, though 
without ever reminding them of the passage in 
Rev. 1. 10. much less applying it to his purpose. 
Yet if he had quoted it, and explained it in fa- 
vour of the first day, — if he had even told them 
that his cotemporary and master, the apostle 
John, called the first day of the week by this 
name — that he kept it himself— and that he 
strongly inculcated the observance of it both in 
conversation and preaching, as being part of the 
will of Christ, (all which it was natural for St. 
Ignatius to do, and which he doubtless would 
have done had the things been true, considering 
his object,) neither the Christians of his time, nor 
any in succeeding ages, could, consistently with 
the Protestant maxims, have received his testi- 
mony as supplementary to Scripture, or as infalli- 
bly interpretative of it. Much less could they be 
justified iu receiving any opinion or practice as 

* According to Morer, (p. 88,) he calls Sunday ' Lord's 
da/ in his Epistle to the Philippiana, 

244 Supposed Authority df 

apostolic from any Father or Council that was 
not cotemporary or acquainted with the Apos- 
tles. To treat the Fathers and Councils fairly, 
however, they no more profess, than St. Ignatius 
does, in sometimes recommending or enjoining 
the observance of the first day under the name of 
the Lord's day, to be quoting or commenting 
upon the words of Scripture. 

But in opposition to these remarks, an idea 
prevails on the subject of tradition, which will 
require some discussion. It has been said that 
though the Protestants object in general to the 
introduction of tradition to supply any supposed 
defect in the matter of Scripture, or to ascertain 
its sense, yet they do not deny its use in religion 
altogether. They think it lawful and even neces- 
sary in certain cases to admit its authority. The 
ancient Patriarchs and the Gentiles knew the di- 
vine institution of sacrifices, and observed it, on- 
ly in consequence of tradition. From the same 
source the Protestants derive the knowledge of 
the books which they consider as composing the 
canon of the New Testament, as also of their ge- 
nuine contents. It is held by many Protestants, 
that early and universal tradition is a sufficient 
ground for receiving any religious doctrine or 
practice whatever. 

I cannot say that the sentiments just stated ap- 
pear to me to be correct, or at least useful in 

Apostolic Tradition, &c. 245 

practice. I admit, indeed, that there must have 
been many things said and done by the apostles, 
as well as by our Lord himself, which are not re- 
corded in the New Testament — that they must 
have been known to certain people— that many of 
them were communicated by speech, and perhaps 
writing, to cotemporaries — that from them they 
passed to the next generation — and some of 
them, at least, from that to a third, without the 
possibility of determining with precision the time 
when the transmission would wholly cease. I ad- 
mit, further, that certain of the particulars might 
be communicated and handed down with accura- 
cy. But since it is impossible to tell which of 
these particulars contained in human writings are 
truly stated, and which are not, there is no safety 
but in rejecting them all without exception, in 
estimating what God would have us believe and 
do. There is the more occasion to act in this 
manner, as the apostle tells the Thessalonians that 
the ' mystery of iniquity* was already working. 
If speeches and actions were falsely attributed 
to a divine origin, when detection was possible, 
how much more might the practice be expected 
to exist, when detection was impossible ? It was 
not even every thing that ah apostle said or did, 
which, could it have been verified, would be 
binding on our faith and practice : and it is rea- 
sonable to think that whatsoever the Holy Spirit 

246 Supposed Authority of 

intended to have such an effect, would be thus 
represented by Inspiration in writing", and pre- 

Antiquity, therefore, cannot be a sufficient 
proof of purity in a tradition; for no tradition re- 
lative to the first day can possibly be more ancient 
than the ( mystery of iniquity' just referred to. Its 
spread^ too, notwithstanding its odious nature, 
might be sufficiently extensive to give it the ap- 
pearance of universal — especially after the time 
of the apostles. 

With respect to the regard shown during the 
patriarchal ages to the custom of sacrificing, as to 
a divine institution, though known only by tra- 
dition, it will afford no justification, proper as it 
was then, to the reception of a doctrine or duty 
as divine on such a ground, since the Christian 
era. Tradition was the only revelation then in 
existence. It could be better relied on then than 
now, on account of the opportunity afforded of 
access to the origin of it, and of the few indivi- 
duals through which it passed. In the case of 
sacrifice* it is difficult, if not impossible, to con- 
ceive how the idea of such a practice could ever 
have entered into the mind of man, if the Divine 
Being did not introduce it himself. The Patri- 
archs, both before and after the flood, who offer- 
ed sacrifice, were themselves inspired, and there- 
fore did not rest their idea of the divine will re- 

Apostolic Tradition, Sj-c, 247 

specting this matter upon tradition, but upon 
their own knowledge. The other ancients in- 
deed, not having the same advantage, might be 
liable to mistake a matter of indifference for a 
duty: but they were not liable in doing so to 
abrogate or misinterpret a written command of 
God, by adopting a custom that was merely com- 
manded by man. I may add, that though there is 
no instance on record in which the authenticity or 
genuineness of the tradition was suspected, yet if 
a doubt on the subject had arisen, there is no rea- 
son to think that the entertainer of it would not 
have been excused for non-compliance. In each 
of these particulars, the situation of Christians 
since the days of the apostles is completely the 

The case of the books received or rejected, 
wholly or in part, as sacred, is somewhat like that 
of sacrifices. The canon of the New Testa* 
ment (and consequently of the Old, the divinity 
of which is acknowledged by the New) is ob- 
tained through tradition ; but necessarily so, and 
not unaccompanied by corroborative circumstan- 
ces. Since not every one that lived in the age of 
the apostles, and much less in a succeeding age, 
could have access to them to learn the authenci- 
ty of a book, and the genuineness of its contents, 
miraculous interposition must have taken place 
universally and perpetually, if tradition had noi 

248 Supposed Authority of 

been employed. In consequence of this, no 
doubt, the just claim of some books was not ad- 
mitted without hesitation, and not even with it, 
by all who bore the Christian name. There was 
danger, on the other hand, of receiving some that 
had no right to be in the canon ; and all, in be- 
ing copied, were liable to defect, to interpola- 
tion, or to various readings. But no serious evil 
has arisen, or could arise, from these disadvan- 

Examination of the evidence for and against a 
book will enable every one to judge for himself 
of the justice or injustice of its claim to a place 
in the sacred canon. By comparing the manu- 
scripts and the versions in different languages 
with others, the text may be corrected or im- 
proved.* But in cases where neither of these 
expedients can take place, the substance of Scrip- 
ture will remain, whether particular books, pas- 
sages, or readings, be received or rejected. The 
phrase 'on the Lord's day/ (Rev. 1. 10.) whether 
interpolated or not, can, in my opinion, throw no 
light, and consequently can have no influence, 
on the question relative to the Scriptural weekly 

The sacred canon, therefore, is necessarily re- 

* Human writings of high antiquity pass current, not- 
withstanding their various readings and obscurities. 

Apostolic Tradition, fyc. 249 

ceived on the ground of tradition ; Hut not whol- 
ly so, nor without peculiar pledges for its purity. 
It was not requisite, for the divine character of 
the New Testament, that there should be a tra- 
dition in favour of each book, and each text or 
reading in each book, that is as ancient as the 
time of the apostolic age, or that is universal ;. 
neither of which- is true. The harmony among 
the different books with respect to their con- 
tents — the comparative insignificance of the 
doubts which have arisen relative to particular 
texts, readings, and even whole books, whether 
received into the holy canon or not — and their 
beneficial effect on the hearts and lives of men, 
afford essential aid and support to tradition. But 
none of these circumstances can be pleaded in fa- 
vour of any new article of faith or of duty being 
conveyed by tradition. The article of faith or the 
duty in question might easily have been made a 
part of Revelation; and its not being so, is a 
proof of its being no tradition from an apostle. 
With respect to the sense of a text, had it con- 
tained any new doctrine or duty, the Scriptures 
themselves would have furnished means for as- 
certaining it, and would not have left us to seek 
it from men no less deficient in judgment, in- 
tegrity, and diligence, than ourselves. Where 
such means then are wholly wanting, the text 
can be of no use to us. Human writings can 
m 2 

250 Supposed Authority of 

oHty illustrate ah article of faith or a duty, the 
general meaning" and reality of which are known 
and acknowledged without them. They can add 
no explanation or proof that enlarges the system 
of faith and practice. Their sense, too, is as lia- 
ble to be contested as that of Revelation. In 
fine, oral tradition might give an interpretation 
of the text quite different from what appeared to 
us to be the tine meaning, and in that case, it 
not rejected, would render written revelation 
useless. Tradition, therefore, was not wanted 
for conveying a new sabbath, much less for ex- 
plaining a passage of Scripture supposed to con- 
tain such a notice; as the phrase e Lord's day/ 
for instance. Nor is there any circumstance that 
tends to confirm a tradition of such a sabbath, as 
there is to confirm the traditions relative to the 
divine institution of sacrifices before the time ot 
Moses,* the variety of the books contained in the 
sacred canon, and the truth of the things con- 
tained in those books. There is no more rea- 
son in the nature of things for a weekly celebra- 
tion of our Lord's resurrection, than for one on 

* There is no way of accounting for the ceremony, but by 
the supposition of a divine institution. It is rendered credi- 
ble, both by the measure which the Divine Being adopted for 
clothing our first parents, and by his order to the Patriarch* 
I* sacrifice. 

Apostolic Tradition, fyc. 251 

account of his ascension; nor is any more notice 
taken of the resurrection on the first day by the 
observers of it, than may be taken, and in fact is 
taken, of it by the Sabbatarians on the seventh 
day. No social or public act of religion is record- 
ed to have taken place on the first day, which 
did not take place eveiy day among the earliest 
converts. It nowhere appears that the whole of 
it was ever kept sacred ; and though Sunday was 
very early, and after some centuries extensively, 
called 'Lord's day/ yet Rev. 1. 10. is never 
pleaded as an authority for so doing. The words 
*■ Lord's day' are never mentioned by the ancient 
Fathers as a quotation from Scripture, but as 
Good Friday, &c. are mentioned. It is wholly 
uncertain whether they ever intended Sunday to 
be the weekly sabbath, or kept it like one — es- 
pecially as they kept the seventh day in the same 
manner. The same services (the Lord's supper 
included) were performed by them on both days \ 
and the performance of them any day, even 
weekly, gives no proof of keeping a sabbath, 
without saying so. 

The case, then, of the first day is wholly diffe- 
rent from that of the sacrifices in patriarchal 
times, and that of the books comprehended in the 
canon of the New Testament, together with the 
purity of their contents in substance, since the 
divine claim of the former might have been con- 

252 Supposed Authority of 

veyed without tradition; nor has the asserted 
tradition of it from the apostles any confirmatory 
circumstances, as the latter cases have. These 
objections to its reception as an apostolic tradi- 
tion would be solid, were it ever so ancient and 
universal. But it is neither one nor the other so 
considerably or exclusively as it is thought to 

; Though St. Ignatius certainly recommends the 
observance of the first day as a festival, there is 
no proof that he meant by it a sabbath like that 
which is described in Isaiah 58. 1 3. ; nor is there 
any proof that it ever was kept so till A. D. 1618, 
about the time of the Puritans, by any considera- 
ble number of people, or, indeed, that it has 
been kept to that extent since, except by the 
Presbyterians (between whom and the Puritans 
there was originally no great difference) in the 
British dominions, in Holland, and in the United 
States of North America that were formerly sub- 
ject to Great Britain. The divine claim of the 
seventh day under the Christian dispensation is 
not founded by its votaries on apostolic tradition, 
it being enough, in their opinion, that the apos- 
tles never repealed or secularized it. But if it 
had needed such a support, its claim on the 
ground of antiquity would have been as good as 
that of the first day; for St. Ignatius (as has 
been shown) does not recommend or enjoin one 

Apostolic Tradition, Src. 

of the days more strongly than he does 
With respect, indeed, to universality of pi 
lence, the first day has the advantage of the se- 
venth day, since, according to ecclesiastical his- 
tory, it was regarded at every place in Christen- 
dom ; whereas the seventh day was not observed 
either at Rome or Alexandria: and after the 
fourth century, we hear little more comparative- 
ly of it till the time of the Reformation.* But 
the errors of Popery, though equally ancient and 
once as extensively prevalent as the observance 
of the first day can be, are not for these reasons 
to be considered by the Protestants to be aposto- 
lic traditions. 

To represent the case accurately, the earliest 
Fathers and Councils in general never plead apos- 
tolic tradition in favour of the first day, any more 
than they plead apostolic precept or example. 
St. Ignatius produces no authority for celebra- 
ting the day on which Christ rose as a weekly 
festival, except his own : he does not even tell us 
that the generality of Christians concurred with 
him in his view and wish. The Fathers and Coun- 
cils, the ecclesiastics and princes who pursue 
the same object, urge only their own opinion, or 
that of their predecessors, as recorded in the his- 
tory of the Church. The Protestants alone who, 

* See the account of the Sabbatarians in Chap. vi. 

254 Supposed Authority of 

like White and Merer, admit the insufficiency of 
the evidence adduced by them to prove the first 
day to be the Scriptural weekly sabbath, attempt 
to supply the defect by apostolic tradition ; and 
many of them, as Charles the First did, found the 
claim of the first day to sacred regard entirely 
upon the authority of the Church, without the 
smallest reference to the apostles. 

To return to the supposed tradition from the 
apostles concerning the substitution of the first 
day for the seventh day sabbath, and the attempt 
to authenticate it in modern times by the plea 
of antiquity and universality. 

There are cases existing, in which the oppo- 
nents of the Sabbatarians are as little influenced 
by considerations of this nature, as the Sabbatari- 
ans themselves. The history of the Church notices 
no power that was exercised over the faith and 
practice of Christians, except that of ecclesiastics, 
till the reign of Constantine ; and even that prince 
did not exercise it till toward the close of his 
reign, (for he only presided in the Council of 
Nice,) except in his decrees concerning Sunday, 
issued, it is probable, solely by the advice and 
under the influence of Pope Sylvester. [See Mo- 
rer, p. 57.] The tradition, therefore, relative to 
supremacy, if from the apostles, is plainly in fa- 
vour of ecclesiastical authority; and no doubt both 
the Popes and the popish councils avail themselves 

Apostolic Traditioriy 4'c. 255 

of the circumstance. But will the Protestant 
states admit this plea? Will they not say that the 
tradition owes its existence and continuance mere- 
ly to the want of a Christian prince, and that as 
soon as there was one, it became proper that the 
tradition should cease and determine? I shall not 
examine the solidity of this reasoning, but shall 
only observe upon it, that it is manifest, from the 
opinion of the Protestant states, that tradition 
supposed to be apostolic on account of its anti- 
quity and universality, is not in all cases and for 
ever binding upon Christians. 

Again: — will the Protestant Dissenters allow 
the fasts and feasts of the Church to have origin- 
ated with the apostles ? Some of them, however, 
(particularly Easter,) occur as early in history as 
the sacred character of the first day, and were 
regarded no less universally by Christians for ma- 
ny ages. — Will the Dissenters allow the ancient 
and universal tradition concerning the appella- 
tions c saint* and 'bishop/ as used in the Chris- 
tian Church, to be apostolical ? Convinced as they 
may be that St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, got 
his idea of ' Lord's day/ and that of celebrating 
it as a festival on account of our Lord's resurrec- 
tion, from the apostle John, they are not equally 
convinced, I believe, that he obtained his title 
of c saint/ (if he ever used it,) together with his 
diocese, from the same source: yet I think it 

256 Supposed Authority of 

would be difficult for them to prove that there is 
better reason to credit the one than to credit the 
other. They will not deny that 'saint* and * bi- 
shop* are in the New Testament, as well as ' first 
day* and ( Lord's day' itself (supposing it to have 
any right to be there) ; and if tradition has au- 
thority to fix the sense and application of the 
latter words, why not to fix those of the former 
also ? 

Among the instances of doctrines and practi- 
ces which Bishop White enumerates as proper 
to be received upon the ground of tradition 
from the apostles, are the ( Lord's day/ (in the 
sense of the weekly Sunday, with its application, 
in part at least, to sacred purposes,) and * infant 
baptism.' My Baptist brethren in general will, 
I believe, more readily acquiesce in the first, 
than in the last of these instances. I know not, 
bowever, upon what ground, except upon what 
I admit to be a very substantial one ; namely, 
that there is no case of infant baptism in all the 
New Testament. But, in my opinion, it is quite 
as easy to show, that in the different texts where 
'households' are said to have "been baptized, in- 
fants must have been included, as to show that 
the disciples could not come together to ' break 
bread,' nor an apostle preach to them, or order 
money to be laid up in store by individual Chris- 
tians for an act of pious benevolence, on the first 

Apostolic Tradition, Sec. 257 

day, without converting it into a sabbath, or 
proving that it was so considered and meant to 
be so considered. 

Here it will probably be asked, If the custom 
of treating the first day as sacred did not origin- 
ate with the apostles, with whom did it originate? 
I have no objection to give a direct answ r er to the 
question : but before I do so, I must observe, that 
the conclusiveness of the reasoning against the 
sacred character of the first day does not in the 
least depend upon the possibility of discovering 
and proving its origin to be elsewhere, and not 
with the apostles. Errors in doctrine and practice 
may exist, though their origin be utterly unknown : 
as the invocation of departed spirits, and the cus- 
tom of mingling water with the wine in the sa- 
crament, which were introduced before the end 
of the second century, and the sources of which 
can only be conjectured. If the ' mystery of 
iniquity worked' in the days of the apostle Paul,* 
notwithstanding our ignorance of its particular 
nature, as well as of its source, .why should not 
innovations and conniptions be supposed to arise 
immediately afterwards, though their origin be 
equally concealed ? It is reasonable to suppose 
that they may have even sprung up and abound- 
ed much more, however mysterious their cause. 
It does not follow, therefore, from an opinion or a 
practice existing in the age next to that of the 

258 Supposed Authority of 

apostles — perhaps in the apostolic age itself, and 
its origin being unknown, that it cannot be an 
error, but that it must originate with the apostles : 
and if this be possible of an error that is nameless, 
why not also of one that has a name ? It may 
likewise not be trivial, but such a one as is 
wrought by ' the mystery of iniquity/ most gross 
and injurious. Of course the transfer of the 
weekly sabbath from the seventh day to the first 
may be an error, and no tradition from the apos- 
tles, were it absolutely impossible to account for 
its origin. 

I proceed to state my conjecture concerning 
the circumstance that gave rise to celebrating 
the first day as a holy festival. It originated, as 1 
think, in the wish and proposal of some Christians 
to distinguish the day by some religious service, 
(including the Lord's supper, perhaps,) and a 
love-feast, in commemoration of our Lord's rising 
upon it. Whether this was or was not done 
in the time of the apostles, it is impossible to 
say. I see nothing, however, against the possi- 
bility of its taking place during their time; for 
surely if ( the mystery of iniquity' began to work 
in their age, it is not incredible that a service 
which contained nothing in it that might not 
be done innocently, and which had not actually 
been done [Acts 2. 46.] on every day, might not 
be performed for a purpose, which, though unne- 

Apostolic Tradition > Sec. 259 

cessary, had nothing criminal in it. But there is 
certainly nothing in the texts usually produced 
in favour of the first day, which indicates the ex- 
istence of such a custom so early— much less 
that the apostles authorized or participated in it. 
The account of the meeting held at Troas (Acts 
20. 70 mentions nothing of its having taken place 
in consequence of our Lord's resurrection, or of 
any particular notice taken on that occasion of 
this great and good event that occurred on it, or 
of any uncommon thanksgiving and rejoicing of 
the assembly present, either at that time, or on 
any former occasion — all which would naturally 
have existed in the case supposed, and which, no 
doubt, did exist for some time, when the custom 
was actually introduced. 

The expression 'Lord's day/ indeed, in Rev. 
1.10. has in modern times been thought to prove 
that the apostle John not only knew of the cus- 
tom, but that he sanctioned it, and even com- 
manded the whole day weekly to be kept as the 
sabbath in the room of the old one. But I have 
already shown that this does not appear from 
Scripture; and therefore if St. Ignatius had really 
quoted the expression as from the Revelation, 
and commented upon it agreeably to its modern 
sense and application, notwithstanding his oppor- 
tunities for knowing the opinion and practice of 
the apostle John on the subject, his interpreta- 

260 Supposed Authority of 

tion could not have been received according to 
the Protestant maxim, which admits of no new 
doctrine or precept upon the ground of tradition. 
But he never uses the expression c Lord's day' as 
a quotation, (if he uses it at all,) and his not quo- 
ting and arguing from it, I have stated to be one 
of my reasons for thinking the words to be an in- 
terpolation. As to the question how he or any 
other came to call the first day 'Lord's day/ if 
he did not take it from the Revelation, I answer, 
as before, that when the authors of the custom 
(whoever they were, and whether they lived in 
the time of the apostles or afterwards) agreed to 
distinguish the first day in the manner that has 
been mentioned, nothing was more natural for 
them than to give the day a new name, as they 
did that of the crucifixion; and considering their 
object, what name was more appropriate than 
'Lord's day/ or e Christ's day?'* 

Whether the day was observed so often as 
weekly at the beginning, or whether it was con- 
fined to ' Easter Sunday/ which is noticed by St. 
Ignatius with equal zeal, cannot be known. The 
love- feast seems to have quickly given way to an 
entertainment more sumptuous and luxurious, if 

* The day, however, was not exclusively or generally 
called * Lord's day,' till the fourth century; which is an ob- 
jection to its divine origin and present application. 

Apostolic Tradition, 8fC. 201 

any judgment can be formed of it from the na- 
ture of a festival by which the day was called for 
ages, and the repeated prohibitions issued against 
fasting on it. As to the sanctification of the 
whole day in the manner of a sabbath, (Isaiah 
58. 13.) the term f festival/ even a religious one, 
neither usually implies any such thing, nor does 
it appear to have existed till after many centu- 

No one can wonder at the origin I have assign- 
ed for the custom in question, who recollects the 
number of days that are accounted sacred, in 
part at least, in the Latin and Greek churches, 
and how many anniversaries are distinguished 
from other days among Protestants in our own 
time, by abstinence from secular employment, 
attendance on public worship, and festivities. 
There are reasons given for them all; but Scrip- 
tural authority neither is nor can be pleaded for 
any of them, as enjoining them. According to 
Grotius, these public manifestations of thankful- 
ness and joy on the first day were at first option- 
al : but the instructions of Fathers, and the de- 
crees of Councils, soon made them obligatory. 
Their proving injurious to the sacred regard paid 
to the seventh day agreeably to the Fourth Com- 
mandment, with which regard they were associ- 
ated till the time of Constantine, and their final 
triumph over it in the Christian- Roman empire, 

Supposed Authority of 

are not the only instances in which human tradi- 
tions have superseded a divine precept. The 
persecutions every where raised against the Jews 
after the destruction of their city and temple by 
the Romans, and the risk run by the Christians of 
being confounded with them and of being treat- 
ed like them, on account of their keeping the 
same sabbath, tended greatly to facilitate and ex- 
tend the observance of the first day festival, as it 
was called. The festival being weekly, as well 
as the seventh day sabbath — its services being the 
same — the respect it apparently showed to 
Christ — and the inconvenience of keeping two 
days together, strengthened this tendency. To 
the decrees of Constantine, however, in favour of 
this day exclusively, in opposition to the Fathers 
and Councils that had preceded, and, so far as is 
known, without even taking the sense of any 
council as he did at Nice, is chiefly to be attri- 
buted, in my opinion, that prevalence throughout 
Christendom which it has ever since possessed. 

If this account of the origin whence proceeded 
this regard paid in the early ages of Christianity 
to the first day be objected to as resting on con- 
jecture, I reply, that I do not pretend to state the 
precise fact, of which history gives no informa* 
tion. In a case where (as I have shown) I am 
not obliged to give any account at all, conjecture 
is quite sufficient. The supposition is not like 

Apostolic Tradition, S?c. 265 

that by which the prevalence of Sabbatarianism 
in the ages before Constantine has been attempted 
to be accounted for, namely, the accommodating 
spirit of the Gentile converts toward their bre- 
thren from among the Jews, about which the 
New Testament and the Fathers are equally si- 
lent, and which, till the repeal of the old sabbath 
be proved, may be accounted for much more na- 
turally and satisfactorily. The conjecture I have 
hazarded is possible, and even highly probable, 
considering the numerous declarations made by 
individuals and public bodies of the greatest re- 
spectability who kept the first day, that its claim 
rested entirely on the authority of the Church. 
In short, the Scriptures were never appealed to 
on the subject till the time of the Puritans. St. 
Ignatius, as already noticed, states his recom- 
mendation of it only as an idea of his own ; and 
the subsequent writers either express their own 
opinion in like manner, or follow his. 

I wish to remind my Baptist friends of the ac- 
counts given, by them, of the origin of Peedobap- 
tism, and the Dissenters in general of the sources 
whence, in their opinion, Episcopacy, together 
with the fasts and feasts observed in the primitive 
Church, particularly Easter Sunday, had their 
rise. They are mentioned as early in Ecclesias- 
tical History as the first day is. I perfectly agree 
with my friends respecting the probability of these 

264 Supposed Authority ', $c. 

accounts: but they are as incapable of being 
proved, as my hypothesis concerning the origin of 
sanctifying the first day. 

I observe, finally, that my pious friends in the 
Establishment no more approve than I do of the 
corruptions of Christianity in the second and 
third centuries noticed by Justin Martyr, Tertul- 
lian, and others : such as carrying the Eucharist 
to private houses after it had been consecrated at 
Church ; mingling water with the wine used in 
the Holy Supper; and the invocation of departed 
saints. But their modes of accounting for these 
abuses, though extremely probable, can no more 
be proved to the satisfaction of an opponent, than 
my conjecture relative to Sunday. 


Differences of Opinion concerning the Commence- 
went and Termination of the Scriptural Weekly 

It has already been noticed, that in England, be- 
tween the time of Edgar (before the Norman 
conquest) and the reign of King John, that is, for 
more than 200 years, the weekly sabbath began 

Commencement and Termination, 8?c. 265. 

at three o'clock on the seventh day afternoon, 
and continued till twelve o'clock on Sunday 
night. [See Rapin's History of the Church.] In 
Scotland, during a part at least of this period, in 
the reign of William the Lion, cotemporary with 
Henry the Second of England, the sabbath ended 
at the same time that it did here : but it began 
earlier, namely, at twelve o'clock at noon, on the 
seventh day. [See Morer, p. 290.] With these 
exceptions, so far as I know, all Christians who 
observed the first day have ever included it be- 
tween the seventh day at midnight and the mid- 
night following. 

The Sabbatarians begin and end their sabbath 
differently ; observing it from the evening of Fri- 
day, till the evening of the day following. They 
do not agree with the modern Jews in this point, 
if what is reported of them be true, that they 
keep their sabbath from six on the former of 
these evenings, till six on the latter of them. 

I propose to make a few remarks on the argu- 
ments adduced by the different parties in favour 
of their respective practices. Whatever reason 
our English ancestors and the Scots had for com- 
mencing their sabbath so many hours before the 
time of its present beginning — whether it was a 
relic of the ancient practice among Christians 
in general till the fourth century of keeping the 
seventh day, as well as the first day* or whether 


266 Commencement and Termination 

the extraordinary hours were intended to be em- 
ployed in preparing for the sabbath rather than 
to be a part of it, it is now agreed by all, I be- 
lieve, who think the seventh day sabbath is re- 
pealed, that the custom has no foundation in 

I proceed to examine the grounds for the ge- 
neral practice among Christians for keeping the 
sabbath from midnight to midnight. The cause 
must be looked for, I suppose, in the civil mode of 
reckoning the beginning and ending of the days 
among the Jews and in the time of the apostles, 
which appears to be the same as that used chief- 
ly in the civilized world at the present time. 
Thus in John, chap. 20. what is called the even- 
ing of the first day when Christ visited his disci- 
ples who were assembled together, was precisely 
the portion of time that would now be called the 
Sunday evening. At first view, therefore, it 
would seem that the observer of the first day 
acted rightly in beginning and ending his sabbath 
at the times when, according to the civil account, 
Sunday is reckoned to begin and end. If, how- 
ever, the seventh day sabbath was reckoned by 
the divine command from evening to evening, 
and if this time of keeping it was founded not on 
any custom peculiar to the Jews, or on the cere- 
monial law, but on the order in which it pleased 
the Blessed God to reckon the parts of the natu- 

of the Scriptural Weekly Sabbath. 267 

ral day at the creation, it will then be for the 
person who keeps the first day, as being substi- 
tuted by the divine command for the seventh, to 
consider whether his sabbath should not be kept 
in like manner from evening to evening, that is, 
from the evening of the seventh, till the evening 
of the first day. 

But Dr. Wallis does not accede to either of 
these sentiments. He denies that the Jews did 
keep the sabbath from the Friday to the seventh 
day evening. He denies also that the divine 
command required them so to keep it, whether 
it be taken from the passage 'from evening to 
evening ye shall celebrate my sabbaths/ or from 
the account given by Moses of the day at the 
creation. He will have it, that the term evening 
signifies midnight. 

I do not agree with him in either of his asser- 
tions. The first of them, namely, that the Jews 
did not keep the sabbath partly on Friday and 
partly on the seventh day, according to the civil 
reckoning, is founded on the narratives of the 
evangelists relative to the interval between our 
Lord's expiring on the cross, and the first visit 
paid to his sepulchre by the women on the morn- 
ing of the first day. Dr. Wallis thinks that the 
women had not time to prepare their spices after 
the body of our Lord was taken down from the 
cross and laid in the sepulchre, without trenching 

268 Commencement and Termination 

on the sacred season, if the sabbath commenced as 
soon as it became dark. He also thinks that the 
expression, ' in the end of the sabbath, when it 
began to dawn toward the first day of the week/ 
implies that the sabbath did not end till just be- 
fore day-break, if not broad day-light, the next 
morning. But though one of the evangelists says 
f the evening was come' before Joseph went to 
Pilate, the phrase might not be intended to be 
understood literally, as if day-light was quite 
gone, but as when we speak of taking a walk in 
the evening ; neither is it likely that the applica- 
tion to Pilate was delayed so long after three 
o'clock, when our Lord died — indeed it was so 
soon after his death, that doubts were entertained 
whether he was really dead : so that there was 
abundance of time afterwards, at that season of 
the year, for the women to perform the benevo- 
lent but secular act recorded of them, before it 
was dark. As to the sabbath seeming to have 
ended just before day-break the next morning, in 
that case the sabbath must have continued much 
longer than midnight on the seventh day evening, 
and consequently long beyond the time that Dr. 
Wallis himself assigns for its termination. But 
the evangelist does not say how long the sabbath 
was past, but only that it was past; and the visit 
not having been paid the evening before, might 

of the Scriptural Weekly Sabbath. 269 

be owing to a cause very different from the con- 
tinuance of the sabbath. 

Dr. Wallis's opinion, therefore, that the Jews 
kept Jie sabbath from midnight to midnight, re- 
ceives not that support from the narratives just 
considered, which he thinks it does. Nor is he 
more correct in his judgment concerning the 
meaning of the expressions c from evening to 
evening/ and ' the evening and the morning were 
&c.' They do not signify from twelve o'clock 
one night to twelve o'clock the next night after. 
The account of the first Passover is the only au- 
thentic illustration given us of the sense in which 
the former of these phrases is to be understood 5 
and this mentions many acts that would occupy 
much time prior to midnight, when the angel of 
destruction went forth throughout the land of 
Egypt; such as the choosing the lamb, killing it, 
sprinkling its blood outside of the house, dressing 
it, and partaking of it ready equipped for the 
journey in prospect. With regard to the latter 
phrase, nothing can be clearer than that in the 
account of the creation by the inspired writer, 
the expression evening and morning signffies the 
dark and light parts of the twenty-four hours, the 
former of which begins several hours before mid- 
night, and the latter as many hours after mid- 
night. The middle of a thing, and consequently 

270 Commencement and Termination 

of night, never can be its beginning, any more 
than its end. 

As a Sabbatarian, therefore, being of opinion 
that the seventh day sabbath continues in force, 
and that it is inseparable from the Fourth Com- 
mandment, I keep it as the Jews were ordered to 
keep it; that is, from the commencement of dark- 
ness on the sixth day, to the termination of light 
on the seventh day. I do not agree with the mo- 
dern Jews, if they keep it all the year round from 
six o'clock in the afternoon on one day, to the 
same hour in the afternoon on the day following. 
This may or may not be from evening to evening. 
Lawful as it may be in estimating the natural day 
to alter in various forms the original order of 
darkness and light on a civil account, it does not 
appear to me that leave has been granted by the 
Divine Being to do this respecting the sabbath. 
The expressions se J ?inight and fortnight in our 
language, derived from the Saxons, seem to me 
to be remains of the custom introduced by the 
Divine Being himself at the creation, of reckon- 
ing the darkness before the light in the account 
of a day, which the dark division and the light 
division, added together, compose. The Saxons 
appear to have derived it from tradition, as they 
did also their customs of dividing time into weeks, 
and of worshipping Sat-ur or Saturn on the se- 
venth day — the deity who, according to the Greek 

of the Scriptural Weekly Sabbath. 271 

language, denoted Time. There would be no 
way of accounting for the expressions alluded to, 
that were in use among the ancients, if the day 
had always been reckoned from midnight, as it is 
at present in the civil account — at least in many 

Mr. Wright, whom I have mentioned before, 
thinks that Moses took his estimate of the natural 
day from the Egyptians, who began their account 
of it in the evening. I think it far more proba- 
ble, on the contrary, that the Egyptians derived 
their custom by tradition from what passed and 
was introduced at the creation. It is not very 
likely, nor very consistent with the sacred cha- 
racter and dignity of Revelation, that Moses, an 
inspired writer, however e learned in all the wis- 
dom of the Egyptians,' would in his account of 
what happened before the existence of any nation, 
be guided and influenced by the opinion and cus- 
tom of a particular nation, and one that was no 
less idolatrous, than hostile to himself and his 
countrymen. The same writer notices that there 
are nations who begin their account of the day 
neither in the evening at the commencement of 
darkness, nor at midnight, but at noon. I do not 
see how this observation ought to affect the ques- 
tion when the sabbath should commence, any 
more than that of the possibility of confining the 
sabbath itself by a divine institution to a par- 

272 Commencement and Termination 

ticular day of the week for mankind in general; 
whether the day be the seventh or the first. Our 
first parents certainly knew on what day of the 
week they were created, whether they came into 
being in the dark or in the light part of it. They 
knew that those parts composed the whole day, 
and probably knew not at first any other divi- 
sions, or any subdivisions of it. They doubtless 
knew the first sabbath, and that it was sanctified 
or set apart for them to devote to God, not be- 
cause they, but because God had worked the six 
preceding days. They knew also when the se- 
venth day came again which was to be their se- 
cond sabbath, and which they were to keep, not 
because they had worked the six preceding days, 
but because, whether they had done so or not, 
it was the weekly return of the first sabbath. 
Thus they themselves could neither be ignorant, 
nor forget, without incurring guilt, either the day 
that was to be sanctified, or its commencement, 
which was the commencement of darkness the 
day before, according to the civil account : nei- 
ther were they at liberty to transfer the sabbath 
to a different day, by the expedient of keeping 
two sabbaths together, and working six days af- 
terwards; and yet if they could not, where is the 
propriety of saying, as Mr. W. does, that the se- 
venth part of time only was instituted ? 

The observations just made relative to the day 

of the Scriptural WeeMy Sabbath. £j8 

kept by our first parents, and the time when it 
began, apply to their posterity while they lived 
on or near the same spot with them. Nor would 
emigration to the east or west make any diffe- 
rence with regard to their keeping the day, which 
was the seventh, except they lost their reckon- 
ing; and it would be their own gross fault if they 
did. As to the time of beginning their sabbath, 
it would be their duty to begin it when darkness 
began to usher it in at the place where they were, 
whatever might be the state of some other peo- 
ple at that moment with respect to light and 
darkness. Supposing even any of the nations to 
have lost their reckoning of days, there is every 
reason to believe, as already shown, that the an- 
cient Patriarchs and the Jews did not lose their's, 
and that their's is the source of, or at least was 
the same with, that which is prevalent among the 
modern Jews and among Christians. The time 
when a nation chooses to begin its civil day, whe- 
ther midnight, noon, or any other, need not, and 
ought not, to affect the Scriptural sabbath day, 
nor the time of its commencement. 

Mr. Wright thinks, with some others, that the 
three first days of the first week differed from the 
four following days, and perhaps from each other, 
in length, because it was the fourth day before 
the sun was made. I know not what purpose is 
to be answered by the hypothesis, except it be to 
n 2 

274 Commencement and Termination 

show that the successive seventh days had shorter 
or longer intervals of time between them than 
existed between the beginning of the first day 
and the first sabbath, and that therefore there 
could be no institution at the close of the crea- 
tion that confined the sabbath to a particular day 
of the week. But the ground of this conjec- 
ture fails. It was as easy for the Great Creator 
to make each of the three first days, consisting 
of darkness and light, of the same length as that 
of any day that followed, without the sun, as 
with the sun; and as the three first as well as 
the four last are called days^ there is no doubt 
that he did. 

Once more : — Mr. Wright, as well as Dr. Wal- 
lis, speaks of the uncertainty respecting the time 
of day when the sun made his appearance for the 
first time; that is, I suppose they mean, it is un- 
certain whether it was noon at the time in Para- 
dise, the sun being on the meridian of that place, 
or whether it was there at what is now called 
sun-rising or sun-setting, or at any time between. 
Be it which it might, there is no reason why it 
should affect the time of the commencement, con- 
tinuance, or termination of the light and darkness 
which existed during the three preceding days, 
any more than it would, had the sun been only 
behind a cloud during the whole of the enlight- 
ened part of those days. All the difference would 

of the Scriptural Weekly Sabbath. 275 

be this, that what existed before without any di- 
vision, or distinction of names, perhaps without 
any to be named, except those of darkness and 
light, would henceforth consist of night, mid- 
night, morning twilight, sun-rise, forenoon, noon, 
afternoon, and evening twilight, though it is un- 
certain which of these the meridian of Paradise 
had when the sun appeared in the sky for the 
first time.* 

* Had there been any people to the east or west of Para- 
dise at the time the sun was ' made/ the darkness which 
had hitherto marked the beginning of a new day, and of a 
sabbath, would have happened at the same time that it would 
have taken place if there had been no sun, however diffe- 
rently they might have named the hour if the different civil 
accounts of days now existing had been then established. 
The times, indeed, in which darkness would take place in 
these opposite directions, could not of course correspond 
with the moment of time at which it would take place in 
Paradise, on account of the difference of meridians. But it 
would be the business of each to regard the time of its hap- 
pening in the country where he lived, unmindful whether it 
took place sooner or later, and how long, (supposing him to 
know,) in another, with which he would have nothing to do 
till he removed to that country, any more than the man has, 
who has obligations to fulfil on a particular day of the month 
towards one who lives in a remote part, east or west. This is 
all the difference that could happen to the descendants of the 
first human pair, without their own fault, in removing from 
Paradise ; and it furnishes no excuse for changing the origi- 
nal order of the day, or the original time for commencing the 

276 Commencement and Termination, tyc. 

sabbath, whatever civil account of a day's commencement 
may have been instituted in a particular country. I do not, 
therefore, agree with Mr. Alright in the Note on p. 10 of the 
Work already referred to, if he means that the ancients and 
moderns under different meridians might keep the sabbath 
on what day of the week they pleased, and begin it when 
they pleased. 

If the reader should think that either here or elsewhere I 
have entered into discussions too minute or profound, I re- 
quest him to recollect, that I am not the appellant, but the 


Differences of Opinion concerning the supposed 
Lawfulness of Man to transfer the Scriptural 
Weekly Sabbath to another Dai/, 

Strange as the idea may seem, at first view, 
that God would under any circumstances permit 
his laws to be dispensed with by his creatures, 
there are many who act as if they thought he 
would do this, and some, I believe, that really 
think he will, whether they venture to say so or 
not. All those who refuse to search the Scrip- 
tures on the subject, though they are totally un- 
acquainted with the argument, or who, though 
they are secretly and sometimes avowedly con- 
vinced that God has appointed a certain day t* 

Supposed Lawfulness, ftc. 277 

be kept, live in the habit of substituting another 
for it, appear to me to act upon the principle just 
mentioned. With regard to supposing any per- 
sons to think so who do not distinctly avow the 
sentiment, unjust as it may seem, at first view, 
to affirm this of them, it is not unjust to attribute 
an opinion to one who avows it virtually, though 
not explicitly. What other judgment can be 
formed, for instance, of Dr. Wallis's sentiment, 
who first takes pains in the usual way to prove 
the sanctification of the first day obligatory upon 
Christians by divine authority, and afterwards en- 
deavours to show that no particular day can be 
thus binding upon all men, because on various 
accounts they cannot all keep it at the same mo- 
ment of absolute time, or know for certain that it 
is the weekly return of the resurrection- day, and 
professes his willingness to keep as a sabbath the 
day that the nation appoints, be it what day it may ? 
Reluctant, however, as individuals may feel to 
avow an opinion which evidently manifests such 
irreverence of the Deity as that of supposing that 
he would allow a Scriptural sabbath to be dis- 
pensed with by any one, there are not wanting 
excuses for entertaining it. The Divine Being 
allowed the Jews, by means of Moses, to put 
away their wives, though ' from the beginning it 
was not so ;' and if he dispenses with his law in 
one instance, why should he not, it is asked, in 

2J& Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

another ? But it does not follow, because he al- 
lows an inspired person to do this, that he will 
allow an uninspired person to do it. 

Again :— it is urged that the Blessed God * will 
have mercy, and not sacrifice.' But this passage 
of Scripture does not mean that he would dis- 
pense with offering sacrifice, when it did not in- 
terfere with the exercise of benevolence : nei- 
ther does our Lord's application of it to the case 
of his disciples, when on the sabbath day they 
plucked the ears of corn, and ate to appease 
their hunger, imply that the observance of the 
sabbath may be dispensed with in favour of 
works that are required neither by necessity nor 
mercy. Whether such works ever exist, will be 
seen in the course of the Chapter. 

There are, however, reasons assigned for the 
credibility of the Divine Being's willingness to 
dispense with his law in the case of the Scriptu- 
ral sabbath, which will require a more particular 
examination. It has been urged, that as one day 
is as good as another for the weekly sabbath, pro- 
vided it be after six days' labour, it cannot be a 
material object to the Deity what day is kept, 
even if he has appointed a day in particular, so 
that one be kept. But if it was so immaterial to 
him which day of the week was sanctified, why 
did he fix on one in particular for sanctification ? 
Why did he not leave it to man to sanctify which 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, tyc. 279 

of the seven he pleased? Some, indeed, are of 
opinion that he actually has done so. Whether 
or no that be the fact, may be collected from the 
foregoing Chapters.* At present, I suppose my 
opponents to admit that there is a Scriptural sab- 
bath. To them I answer, then, that indifferent 
as it may appear to man which of the seven days 
in the week be kept, provided one be kept, it may 
not appear so to the Deity. It evidently does not 
appear so to him, not only by his appointing one 
in particular, but by his assigning a reason for 
it. He appointed the seventh day originally, 
because on that day he rested after the creation. 

* It does not follow that God means the seventh part of 
time to continue sacred, on account of his having once con- 
secrated a particular day. Had that been his design, he 
would either have continued the day, or substituted another 
for it. It is incredible that he should first appoint the day 
himself, and afterwards leave it to be appointed by man. A 
day of his appointment would surely answer the purpose as 
well as any day of human appointment, and could as easily 
be kept by man. It does not follow, from the possibility of 
man's changing God's day through accident or design, that 
God will acquiesce in the error. It was as easy for God to 
have instituted one day in seven generally, as to have named 
a particular day ; and he would no doubt have done so, had 
that been all which he intended. Nations might have con- 
curred in any day, as they do now, if God did not prescribe 
a particular one. 

280 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

He appointed the first day, (according to the" 
general opinion, though not that of the Sabba- 
tarians,) because our Lord rose from the dead on 
it. Neither of these reasons is transferable to 
another day ; and therefore as another day would 
be improper for commemorating either of those 
events, however proper it might be in itself for 
answering moral and religious purposes, it is not 
likely that he would sanction the change. Yet 
without his favour and blessing, it cannot reason- 
ably be expected that the mere suitableness of a 
day to a purpose, especially of so exalted and dif- 
ficult a nature as that of religious benefit, would 
with human skill and endeavour be available to 
that purpose, in the absence of divine power ef- 
fectually concurring, or that it would be grant- 
ed in such a case as I have supposed. If the de- 
gree of success that it seems warranted to expect 
on a Scriptural sabbath, should without warrant 
for such expectation attend the day, it would 
no more prove that the Divine Being authorizes 
it, or that he will ultimately bless it, than the 
prosperity of the wicked proves that God loves 
them, or than the extensive spread of Popery 
for many ages, proves that the Reformation was 
either unnecessary or improper. The utmost 
that the success of the day would prove is, that 
the regard due to the day of God's appoint- 
ment was not so predominating a consideration 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath , Sec. 281 

with him, as that he should, for a while at least, 
not suffer the tendency of leisure afforded week- 
ly for waiting upon him, and of embracing that 
leisure, though to the neglect of a divine institu- 
tion, to fail of its natural effect, or that he should 
deviate from the usual course of providence, in 
order to transfer the circumstances which possess 
this tendency to his own day. But no conscien- 
tious seeker after divine truth, or observer of it 
in small things* as well as in great ones, can on 
this account think that the Divine Being is him- 
self willing to dispense with, or that another 
should dispense with, any of his laws. 

The reader will easily perceive, that I allude to 
the long and widely- extended course of spiritual 
prosperity which has accompanied the observance 
of the first day. I certainly think it possible that 
such prosperity might exist, notwithstanding 
many who kept the day were conscious that they 
neglected the Scriptural sabbath, as appears from 
their own confessions, and notwithstanding there 
are numbers more, who, though they have op- 
portunity for seeing the light, if they choose, yet 
come not to it. If, then, the prosperity just men- 

* The expressions, l Prove all things ; hold fast that which 
is good :' * Let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind :' 
and l Whatsoever is not of faith is sin f refer to no authority 

282 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

tioned may exist under such circumstances, how 
much more may it exist, where the observer of 
the first day, after honest inquiry, thinks that he 
is in the right, whether he be really so or not, or 
where suspicion has never been awakened by 
suggestions to the contrary ? There can be no 
doubt that there are instances of both these cases, 
and that those belonging to the last case are very 

Spiritual prosperity attending a different day, 
therefore, from that which may or may not, in the 
opinion of the observer, or only in his opinion, be 
the Scriptural sabbath, affords no proof that the 
Divine Being sanctions it. 

Were the first and seventh days to exchange 
situations relative to human policy, their success 
would most probably be reversed with their situ- 
ations, though their state with respect to the 
Scriptures would remain just the same. No Pro- 
testant thinks that Popery and Protestantism are 
alike approved of by the Deity, on account of the 
immense number of instances in which Roman 
Catholics were doubtless converted and edified, 
during ages of involuntary ignorance and of mis- 
taken conviction, though cases of wilful disobe- 
dience to the truth were far from being want- 

• Were the contrary sentiment just, the necessity for in- 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, fyc. 283 

But the strongest argument in favour of a 
power lodged with man of dispensing with a di- 
vine law remains to be considered. It has been 
asked, Supposing a day to have been appointed 
by the Legislature for consecration in a particu- 
lar country — ought not that appointment, if it 
does not dictate the sense of Scripture, at least to 
warrant a departure from that sense by the coun- 
try and by individuals in it, especially when the 
appointment is no other than that which has long 
prevailed and still prevails in every country where 
the divine authority of the Scriptures is acknow- 
ledged ? 

The question to be answered is of peculiar ha- 
zard : but I feel confident that it will admit of an 
answer consistent not only with conscientiousness, 
but with loyalty and obedience to the laws, with 
the love of peace, with attention to social order, 
with respect for public opinion, and with esteem 
for the truly pious of every description. I begin, 
then, with asserting, that though the laws of the 
country and of Christendom order the first day in 
every way to be kept to that extent which human 
wisdom and power can take cognizance of and 

quiring into the will of God respecting the non-essentials of 
religion would be superseded. It would be merely requisite 
to consider which description of religious people had thft 
greatest number of the truly pious in it. ■ 

284 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

enforce, they nowhere pretend, in this nation at 
least, to interfere with the right of individuals to 
determine the sense of Scripture for themselves, 
and to act upon it so far as is compatible with the 
rights of others — particularly those of the public. 
Whatever claim the National Church may make 
to the power of ( decreeing rites and ceremonies, 
and to authority in matters of faith/ it expressly 
specifies that its determinations are not to be 
contrary to the word of God ; nor does it assume 
a right to decide in what cases such a repugnan- 
cy takes place in opposition to the rights of private 
judgment. In the late Toleration Act, [A. D. 
1812,] which reflects such honour upon the Le- 
gislature, the Government, and all who were 
concerned in drawing it up and in contributing 
to its passing through the two Houses of Parlia- 
ment, the utmost attention is shown to that so- 
lemn declaration of the apostle, a declaration of 
universal concern, ' Every one of us must give 
account of himself to God.' 

I shall not now show the consistence of holding* 
and acting upon this principle, in determining 
the Scriptural sabbath and observing it each one 
for himself, with obedience to the laws, and with 
deference to public opinion. There will be occa- 
sion to discuss this topic in the course of the 
next Chapter. In the mean time I request leave 
to avow my fullest and firmest conviction of then] 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, tyc. 285 

perfect consistency ; and I add, with respect to 
ttie practical effect of it on the part of the Sab- 
batarians, notwithstanding the repeated convic- 
tions of transgressing the law relative to the first 
day by professed observers of it, there has not 
been a single instance for these fifty years at least 
of a Sabbatarian being charged with the same 
offence, whatever privations and disadvantages he 
is required to labour under. 

To proceed. — It certainly does not follow that 
the nations of Christendom, or that this nation in 
particular, mistake the day they should keep as 
the weekly sabbath, because some in a country- 
are of that opinion. But supposing, for a mo- 
ment, that this nation, for instance, were to dis- 
cover itself to be in an error in this respect, 
would the nation be justified in thinking that it 
might dispense with what, upon the present sup- 
position, it deems to be the law of God? With 
all proper respect for my native country, I feel 
myself compelled to reply, that I do not con- 
sider a nation as possessing a license wilfully to 
transgress a command of God under any circum- 
stances whatever. Happily, my country is in no 
such predicament. It does not profess to believe 
that the Scriptural sabbath day is different from 
the day it observes ; even if it did think that the 
first day was no sabbath by divine appointment. 
For except in the case relative to the restraint 

286 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

laid upon the Sabbatarians on the first day, 
(which, whether it be right or not, it is the duty 
of the Sabbatarians to submit to,) I am not aware 
that the country has enacted any thing relative to 
that day which is at all contrary to Scripture, as 
I propose to show in the next Chapter. It does 
not appear to me that the country would be 
chargeable with the sin before mentioned, except 
it were to forbid or to neglect the observance of 
the seventh day in opposition to conviction that 
this day was still the weekly sabbath by divine 

It may be asked, however, whether the country 
would not be warranted, were the case last men- 
tioned ever to be realized, in acting contrary to 
its conviction, in order to shun the serious incon- 
venience, either of keeping two sabbaths, or of 
effecting a transfer which would materially in- 
terfere with the habits of private individuals and 
families, the transactions of one part of the country 
with another, and the intercourse subsisting be- 
tween this nation and foreign nations. I answer, 
that it is not very probable that the Conviction 
supposed will take place soon, if ever; and that 
it will be time enough for the country to consider 
what it would be its duty to do in such a case, 
when the case occurs. But if a reply is required 
for the sake of argument, I confess that it strikes 
me, that any inconvenience ought to be submit- 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, 8?c. 287 

ted to, rather than that the law of God should be 
wilfully neglected or violated; and that God 
would in the end cause the good arising from 
self-denial to exceed the evil. In my opinion, 
the observance of the seventh day could not pos- 
sibly be dispensed with by the nation in the case 
just stated. With respect to the regard at present 
paid by it to the first day, I shall have occasion to 
show that the utmost regard which a nation is 
able to take cognizance of or to enforce, even in 
the case of a single individual, falls far short — 
infinitely short — of that regard which, according 
to the First Chapter of this Work, is included in 
the Scriptural notion of sanctifying the weekly 
sabbath. If, however, the regard claimed by the 
law of the land for the first day, uncommensurate 
as it is to sanctification according to the Scrip- 
tures, sufficiently interrupts the course of business 
and pleasure through the nation, to merit the 
name of sanctification, I do not see how the na- 
tion, in the state of mind supposed, could avoid 
either transferring the interruption to another 
day, or submitting to a similar one on that day, 
without gross injury to piety. It was not the 
Divine Being who brought the nation into the di- 
lemma here supposed. The seventh day, which 
the nation is now supposed to consider as still the 
Scriptural sabbath, is as well adapted in itself to 
the exercise and improvement of devotion, of 

288 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

practical piety, and of morality, as the first day. 
It is true, he permitted the ancient Fathers and 
Councils of the Christian Church to associate the 
first day with the seventh in observing the weekly 
sabbath, as also the Emperor Constantine (who 
probably wished to gratify Home and Alexandria, 
which were hostile to the seventh day, and who 
acted under the influence of Pope Sylvester) to 
confine by several edicts the weekly sabbath to 
the first day, in opposition to the sense and prac- 
tice of the Christian Church before his time, and 
without so much as calling a council on the oc- 
casion : but the divine permission of evil (if it be 
evil) is no excuse either for its introduction or 
its continuance. 

I am supposing, I repeat, the mass of the dif- 
ferent orders of people in the country, and par- 
ticularly those in whom the elective franchise is 
legally invested, the Legislature, and the Go- 
vernment, to feel a conviction which it is not 
likely that they will feel — namely, that the day 
which the nation sanctifies is different from that 
which the Scriptures have appointed to be sanc- 
tified. In that case I have affirmed that there 
would be no occasion for the country, except it 
chose, to alter the laws relative to Sunday : 
(hough the obligation to keep the other day would 
be indispensably necessary on a religious ground. 
The inconvenience which individuals and families . 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, S?c. 289 

at large would sustain, are no other than those 
which the Sabbatarian individuals and families 
have uniformly experienced since the indiscrimi- 
nate prohibition of secular employment in an ex- 
ternal and public manner, and that in times and 
places when there was a considerable number of 
them.* But if the inconveniences attending such 
a partial regard would appear intolerable to the 
nation, were it called upon to feel them in conse- 
quence of sanctifying, from a sense of religious 
obligation, a different day for the sabbath, the 
total abandonment of religious regard for the first 
day which would be requisite to shun them, how- 
ever great and widely extended the change, it 

• The convenience and benefits resulting to a country 
from its inhabitants keeping the same day for the weekly 
sabbath, cannot confer a right on the nation to disregard a 
day which in its own opinion the Scriptures may have enjoin- 
ed. The nation might have had the advantages referred to 
by keeping that day, as well as by keeping another. The 
Divine Being is under no obligation to alter his law, in order 
to continue the advantages to the nation, that is now supposed 
to be convinced of having unhappily fallen into the erroT of 
keeping a wrong day, and that finds it extremely inconveni- 
ent to transfer its regard to the right one : especially as it is 
at liberty to continue sanctifying the wrong day as much as 
it has it in its power to enforce the sanctification of any day, 
and as much as is sufficient to answer every end it can pro- 
pose to itself, whether it thinks proper to keep the right one 
in addition, or not. 


290 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's ' *' 

would not be so totally unparalleled in history, 
as to furnish it with an excuse for supposing it 
lawful to prevent the occasion for this change, by 
wilfully disregarding a divine law. I will not 
plead the conduct of Revolutionary France, when 
it substituted its impious decad for the week 
which mankind received from the Deity at the 
creation, thus transferring the national sabbath to 
a different day, though it remained uncertain for 
several years whether the course of events would 
not have given permanency to the change, not- 
withstanding the serious inconvenience it brought 
upon the whole of France, and upon certain other 
countries that had been conquered and enslaved 
by the French Republic. No — the Sabbatarian 
was not the least forward of his Majesty's sub- 
jects, when he heard of the success of the British 
hero, in conjunction with that of the allies, and of 
its happy consequences, to exclaim, with admi- 
ration, joy, and gratitude, ' What hath God 
wrought V I wish for no change, either about the 
day for the weekly sabbath, or for any tiling else, 
to be effected by revolutionary means — by any 
coercive power acting upon the Legislature or 
upon the Government. The historical instances 
I allude to in which a nation has sacrificed con- 
venience to a sense of duty, are those which took 
place at the alteration of the style, and above all 
when the Reformation was substituted for Popery, 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, #c. 291 

as the national religion, in different countries. No 
one can doubt that this last mentioned change 
must have caused alterations in domestic econo- 
my, in different branches of the home trade, in 
foreign commerce, in the system of public devo- 
tion, and more especially in the state of various 
religious bodies, that were sorely felt by multi- 
tudes for many years. 

Let it not be said, that there is an incompara- 
ble difference between a nation's submitting to 
inconvenience for conscience sake in a case of 
error so gross, complicated, and widely extended 
as that of the Roman Catholic religion, and in 
the case of error in a single point, supposing it 
to be convinced that the day appointed in Scrip- 
lure to be the weekly sabbath has been unhappi- 
ly mistaken. 1 submit, however, that the latter 
error, were it really one, would not be a trivial 
one. Can any one imagine that a pious Jew, and 
much less Jehovah himself, would have account- 
ed such an error a trifle, had the whole nation in 
Judea, or afterwards when resident in many other 
countries as well as in Judea, substituted another 
day for the seventh day ? Would the presump- 
tuous transgression of the Fourth Commandment 
by one who believed in his conscience that the 
expression in the commandment, 'seventh day J 
always and still means exclusively the day com- 
monly called Saturday, and yet did not keep it, 

292 Supposed Lawfulness of Maris 

appear to be a trifle to any real Christian? Or 
would any observer of the first day, who is anx- 
ious for its being sanctified by others that ac- 
knowledge the divinity of its claim, be satisfied 
-with their sanctifying Monday in the stead of it? 
The error of neglecting the Scriptural sabbath, if 
the country believed itself to be in an error of 
that kind, would not be more venerable or veni- 
al than Popery, on the ground of antiquity and 
universality, being very little if at all more an^ 
cient than the religious errors of Popery, accord- 
ing to Justin Martyr and Tertullian, and not a 
jot more extensive than those once were. Nor 
do these errors relate to the essence of religion, 
any more than an error relative to the Scriptural 
sabbath does. For with all the absurdity, super- 
stition, and idolatry, that attached to the Roman 
Catholic religion at the time of the Reformation, 
there was still a considerable mixture of truth in 
its creed, of propriety in its observances, and of 
genuine piety in the devotion, spirit, and man- 
ners, of many of its votaries. Yet other nations 
as well as our's thought proper, (and justly so,) 
upon conviction, to exchange it for Protestant- 
ism, notwithstanding the serious inconvenience 
of the measure. The holy matter connected with 
the supposed error under consideration is far 
greater certainly than in the former case: still 
if the frequent violation of the Fourth Command* 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, $rc. 293 

nient were wilful and national, the sin would be 
far too great and extensive to dispense with for- 
saking it for fear of inconvenience, even were a 
nation justified in dispensing with obedience to 
the law of God in any instance whatsoever.* 

But, as was said before, the nation is hot at 
present convinced that it is dispensing with the 
divine law in this particular, if it ever will be of 
this opinion. It only remains to be considered* 
therefore, whether individuals who are Sabbata- 
rians in judgment, or those who ' hate the light, 
neither come to the light/ lest they should prove 
such, may dispense with conforming to the dic- 
tates of conscience on the ground of the serious 
inconveniences they would sustain in conse- 
quence of differing from the national practice* 
Though it may appear self-evident that if the 
rights of conscience cannot be dispensed with 
by a country, much less can they be so by an in- 
dividual or even a family, yet it will be proper 
for me to make some remarks. 

I wish to premise, that in the remarks I am 
about to make, I am not addressing those who 
upon just grounds are convinced that the day 
they observe weekly is the Scriptural sabbath, 

* The enactment and infliction of punishment for sabbath- 
breaking would come with an ill grace from a nation so 

294 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

whatsoever day it be. I say upon just grounds *, 
because I do not consider their having been bred 
to it ; their relations, friends, and connexions, be- 
ing of that way of thinking; the countenance and 
example of the pious at large, as well as of the 
nation, being on that side ; and, in short, not only 
their worldly, but also their religious comfort 
and advantage being most promoted by it; — I re- 
peat, I do not consider these, if they are the only 
grounds, to be just ones for the conviction in 
question. No one can be said to be truly con- 
vinced, who is not conscious to himself that he 
l ias carefully examined the word of God on the 
s abject, praying earnestly to be led into the 
truth, and for grace to withstand the powerful 
prejudices which naturally arise from the circum- 
stances just enumerated; as also that he is ready 
to treat with candour and consideration whatever 
may be suggested on the contrary side. It is not 
easy to answer to the character I have been de- 
scribing, whether the party be a Sabbatarian, or 
differently minded. I am, however, far from 
supposing that my opponent, whoever he may be, 
does not answer to it. I only say, that if he does, 
he is not concerned in the remarks that follow. 

I address those only who are convinced that 
they do not keep that which they think is, or 
which may be, for aught they know, God's day. 
Let them belong to what religious body, or move 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, $?c. 295 

in whatsoever sphere, they may, I affirm, that no 
worldly or religious inconveniences can warrant 
their dispensing with obedience to a command of 
God. Here I shall be reminded, no doubt, in the 
case of a Sabbatarian in principle only, of the in- 
roads made by my doctrine on the order and peace 
of families every week — of the difficulties attend- 
ing in this case the training up and providing for 
children — of the obstacles thrown in the way of 
acquiring or retaining respectability and afflu- 
ence — of the detriment occasioned to the wealth 
and prosperity of the country — the injury suffered 
by the poor on account of diminishing so consi- 
derably the number and resources of their em- 
ployers — and, finally, the very great reduction that 
would take place respecting the means of pro- 
moting charitable and pious objects. The pic- 
ture certainly contains no small portion of the 
sombre and the terrific, but not more of it than 
that drawn by our Lord when he tells the multi- 
tude that the effect of his gospel would be to ex- 
cite dissension in private families, to make the 
nearest and dearest relations hate one another, to 
Occasion to believers the loss of all things, and to 
send a sword upon the earth. Are these ideas 
antiquated ? — Not wholly so : for I verily believe 
that even in the present times and country, who- 
ever will ' live godly in Christ Jesus,' and in all 
good conscience toward God as well as toward 

296 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

men, must suffer persecution many ways, with' 
respect both to the acquisition of fortune or 
honours, and enjoying them— even members of 
the Establishment, as well as Sabbatarians. Let 
it not be said, that however Christ may require 
such serious privations and sufferings for the 
sake of essentials in religion, it is incredible that 
he should require them for a non-essential. The 
Lollards did not think so in the time of Henry 
the Fourth, nor did the Protestants think so in 
the reign of Mary II. ; and yet, important as the 
questions undoubtedly were between them and 
the Papists, no one, I suppose, will deny that 
there are truly godly people, and * heirs of salva- 
tion/ among the Roman Catholics.* 

The idea, therefore, that God will dispense 
with his law for the sake of domestic conveni- 
ence, worldly aggrandizement, or riches, must 
not be endured for a moment. Let the pious, in 
forming matrimonial and other connexions, pro- 
vide for their spiritual as well as for their tempo- 
ral interests. Let the ruling members of families 

• The Protestant Dissenter cannot but recollect, that in 
times less liberal than the present, his ancestors submitted to 
evils little short of those that have been glanced at, though 
the points of difference between them and the Establishment 
were far less important than those between the Protestanti 
and the Papists. 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, $?c. 297 

choose only such domestics as will be willing to 
accommodate them for conscience sake. Let 
them remember, that Christians are to let their 

* moderation be known unto all men/ and not 
to * seek great things for themselves/ If it be 

* righteousness that exalteth a nation/ the people 
must take no measure to exalt it which implies 
unrighteousness. There are always too many 
who are ready to serve their country and the poor, 
regardless of a religious motive, to make it ne- 
cessary for any to serve them at the expense of 
a good conscience. Piety itself ought not to be 
promoted by any act or neglect that is unsuit- 
able to piety.* 

If the Divine Being could be supposed willing 
to dispense with his law relative to the sabbath in 
any case, it would be in the case of the pious in 
the lower classes of life. Individuals in these 
classes want for themselves and their families not 

* The evil of dispensing with the law of God relative to the 
sabbath would be peculiarly great in the case of a Sabbata- 
rian in principle who is * rich in this world ;' because his ex- 
ample, encouragement, and support, on the contrary side, 
would tend greatly to prevent or remove the excuse for dis- 
pensing with it in regard to his inferiors. All, therefore, that 
duty allows him is, the same leisure for effecting the requisite 
changes in this case, that is not uufrequently wanted for 
making alterations with a view to some considerable object 
of a worldly nature. 


298 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

great and splendid things, but conveniences bor- 
dering on necessities — perhaps really such. They 
would ' learn and labour truly to get their own 
living/ provided they could but live. If they 
want any thing further, it is to give their chil- 
dren a common education, and to fit them for 
such employments as may enable them to make 
provision for their own subsistence when grown 
Up, or to meet the probable contingencies of a de- 
clining business, of sickness, and of old age. I 
have known various instances in which the ap- 
prehended impossibility of accomplishing these 
moderate and reasonable objects, has proved 
the unhappy occasion of not adopting or of 
abandoning the day which was verily believed to 
be the Scriptural sabbath. I cannot, however, 
approve of such conduct. Whether the Legis- 
lature would think it proper, upon application, 
to allow the Sabbatarians thus circumstanced to 
work i six days/ agreeably to the Fourth Com- 
mandment, I know not. But should the propo- 
sal not be acceded to on public grounds, I do 
not think that the case, extreme as it is, would 
authorize a Sabbatarian in principle, on account 
of it, to neglect or violate the dictates of his 
conscience. Works of necessity, indeed, are, 
according to our Lord, allowed on the sabbath 
by the Commandment. He must not suffer 
either himself or his family to starve; but he 

transferring the WeeMy Sabbath, Src* 299 

must not, on the other hand, neglect to seek 
after and to embrace the earliest opportunity that 
presents itself of keeping holy the day that he 
believes to be God's sabbath, without regarding 
how mean, laborious, or scantily productive, the 
employment may be that is offered to him, 
provided he can live, and live honestly by it. 
Industry, frugality, patience, and contentment, 
are seldom wholly unaccompanied by genius, 
ability, and favourable situations for exerting 
them, in one way or in another. If one mode 
of life is inaccessible, or fails, another may be 
discovered. The conscientious, and those who 
* suffer for righteousness sake/ are not the class 
of people which Providence may be the least 
expected to bless. 

Such are the reasons for which I think that 
no case of worldly inconvenience can excuse 
any one for withholding obedience to, or with- 
drawing it from, what in his opinion is the di- 
vine will relative to the sabbath. I have stated 
the very worst that can happen, and which I 
know to be the principal occasion of the very 
low state in which the Sabbatarians of Europe 
are at present — a state by no means the most 
favourable to proper inquiry into the will of 
God respecting the circumstantials of religion, 
and conforming to it in opposition to secular 
convenience and interest. I must^ however, 

300 Supposed Lawfulness of Man's 

observe, that adverse as the principle of the 
{Sabbatarians under their present circumstances 
is to prosperity in the world, there are not 
wanting instances of rich inheritances and va- 
luable endowments among the Sabbatarians, 
any more than among other bodies of religious 

It only remains to be noticed, that no religious 
disadvantages attending compliance with a duty, 
or adhering to it, can supersede the obligation to 
regard it. The Sabbatarian in judgment may pos- 
sibly find no multitude who J! keep holy day,' and 
whom he may accompany to the house of God 
with the voice of joy and praise. He may see 
little more arouud him at a place of worship on 
the seventh day than a dreary solitude. He may 
hear the word addressed to almost empty benches, 
and may see little prospect of an increase, with 
regard either to audience or members. Not- 
withstanding, however, all these discouragements 
that attend the discharge of duty in the present 
instance, a man is not to be personally irreligious 
in order to enjoy the comforts of social religion* 
It is better to be in this forlorn state with an 
approving conscience, than to exchange it for 
union with the 'great congregation' which, free 
as it may be from any cause for self-reproach 
itself, cannot exempt from it any one that has, 
cause for it. The general prevalence of an, 

transferring the Weekly Sabbath, Sec. 301 

opinion has no authority to supersede the oppo- 
site conviction of a single individual. The 
situation of the patriarch Noah with respect to 
fellowship in religion was far worse, and that of 
the prophet Elijah not much better, than the one 
under consideration. He who would possess evi- 
dence that he regards religion itself rather than 
its appendages, must learn to enjoy it not only 
when those appendages give it pomp and splen- 
dour, but when they are scarcely sufficient to 
bestow comeliness and dignity upon it. If the 
King of kings deigns to lift up the light of his 
countenance upon a few in public worship, and 
pours joy into their hearts, the uninviting if not 
revolting appearance of the place and of the peo- 
ple will be a matter of comparative insignificance. 
He will soon terminate the inconvenience, by 
removing them to the general assembly and 
church of the first-born. Let it be recollected, 
that he has sanctified and blessed the day of his 
Own choice, and that he < meeteth every one that 
worketh righteousness, and rejoiceth in his 

In fine, I may remark, that there are parts of 
the world where no extraordinary temporal or 
spiritual disadvantages attend the conscientious 
observer of the seventh day,. and also that there 
have been times when that was the case in this 

302 Supposed Lawfulness, 8?c, 

country : nor can any one tell that it may not 
at a future period be so again.* 


Differences of Opinion concerning the supposed 
Authority of Man to institute a Weekly Sab- 

<One man,' observes tbe apostle Paul, c esteems 
one day above another ; another esteemeth every 
day alike : let every one be fully persuaded in 
his own mind. He that regardcth a day, regard- 
eth it to the Lord ; and he that regardeth not the 
day, to the Lord he doth not regard it.' — No one 
who thinks that there is a Scriptural sabbath, 
whether he considers it to be the seventh or the 
first day, or even the seventh part of time ab- 
stractedly, without reference to any particular 
day, can suppose Jhat this celebrated passage re- 
lates to the weekly sabbath, as well as to any 
other day; because the inspired writer of it no 

* As no circumstances whatever can warrant any one'» 
dispensing with what he 'believes to be a divine law, so 
neither have they a right to influence his judgment of the law 


Supposed Authority, fyc. 303 

more censures him who keeps no day, than him 
who keeps a day — except indeed he thinks that 
keeping no sabbath could in no case follow from 
a man's being < fully persuaded in his own mind :* 
but of that every one must be left to judge for 

But I believe it to be the general opinion, (and 
it certainly is mine,) that the words in question 
no way relate to the weekly sabbath or to the 
testimony of Scripture about it, but to days re- 
specting which the Scriptures are silent, every 
one being at full liberty to consult his own 
judgment and inclination whether he should ob- 
serve them or not ; and if the former, in what 
way, and to what extent, he pleases. The same 
liberty is granted respecting animal food that is 
wholesome, to eat it or not. Every individual, 
and every society, whether religious or civil, 
ought to allow and to be allowed this liberty. 
St. Ignatius, for instance, had a right to call the 
first day c Lord's day/ (if he ever did call it so,) 
to keep it as a religious festival himself, and to 
recommend it to others, in honour of our Lord's 
resurrection, without the authority of any apos- 
tle, which indeed he never pleads. At the same 
time, neither he nor any other of the Fathers, nor 
any of the Councils, nor all of them put together, 
had any right to enjoin the observance of that 
day, or of Easter, or of any fast or feast not 

304 Supposed Authority of Man 

commanded in Scripture, upon a single Chris- 
tian that did not own their supremacy, and was 
differently minded; or in case of non-compliance 
to inflict any ecclesiastical censure or penalty 
upon him.* 

The same might have been said of all the sa- 
cred days that have been instituted in the Chris- 
tian Church since the Roman empire became 
Christian, if the civil power had not adopted 
them. However, when that power ceased to 
sanction any of them, they were of course no 
longer obligatory upon those who maintained 
the right of private judgment in opposition to 
ecclesiastical usurpation and tyranny. Hence 
the termination in this country of that sacred 
regard which the black letter days once pos- 
sessed, and which they still possess wherever 
the Roman Catholic religion retains its sway. 

I come at length to the principal subject of 
this Chapter, namely, the difference of sentiment 
among Christians concerning the divine right 
of the civil power to institute a weekly sabbath. 
The question is manifestly of uncommon delicacy 

* A Christian community has a right to keep any day to 
the Lord, and that weekly, which it pleases ; but it has no 
right to make the observance of it as a sabbath a term of 
church-membership, except it thinks that the observance »» 
enjoined in Scripture.— : See Rom. 14. 1, &c. 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath. 305 

as well as importance and difficulty. It will 
require nice discrimination in discussing various 
parts of it. With proper care, however, I hope 
that it will not be found impossible to treat it in 
a manner that may be satisfactory in general 
to opposite parties. I do not recollect that the 
case has frequently come under discussion, pro- 
bably because it has been for the most part 
supposed either that the day appointed by the 
civil power for the weekly sabbath coincided 
with the Scriptural sabbath, if there was one by 
divine appointment, or necessarily took place of 
the other, even if there was a difference between 
them. But a Sabbatarian cannot possibly acqui- 
esce in either of these propositions, without the 
admission of certain modifications and distinc- 

The ancient Fathers and Councils never, as I 
have already observed, refer to the New Testa- 
ment at all in support of the first day, but rest its 
right to observance solely upon their own opi- 
nions, wishes, and authority. The edicts of Con- 
stantine and of the other princes, as also the ca- 
nons of Councils between his time and the Refor- 
mation, while Christendom was governed by the 
Roman Emperors, and after it was divided into 
separate states, founded their regard for the day 
entirely upon what iiad been done by the Chris- 
tians under the heathen emperors. Most of the 

306 Supposed Aul hority of Man 

Reformers, too, if not all of them, consider the 
practice of the primitive Church as the sole 
ground of the first day's claim; affirming at the 
same time that the sanctification of it is optional, 
and that the Church has authority to transfer the 
weekly sabbath to a different day, or to have two 
in a week instead of one, if it pleases. The 
later writers, those in England at least, such as 
Bishop White* Dr. Wailis, and Mr. Morer, do 
for the first time urge in favour of observing the 
first day the passages in the New Testament that 
have been considered, but show themselves suf- 
ficiently distrustful of this evidence to make it 
appear that they rely chiefly upon the practice of 
the primitive Church; admitting that what they 
say concerning Christ's authority and apostolic 
tradition in support of the first day's claim is 
only conjecture, though they think it probable. 

However, therefore, it may have been thought 
by the Puritans, and some of their cotemporaries, 
or may be still thought by many pious individu- 
als both in and out of the Establishment, that the 
obligation to keep the first day chiefly stands 
upon the ground of Scripture, I am persuaded 
that the civil power rests it chiefly on the same 
ground on which it retains certain fasts and feasts 
that were observed in the primitive Church. 
Nor do I wish to dispute the right of human au- 
thority thus to exercise itself. On the contrary. 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath, 307 

I have already expressed my full conviction of its 
perfect consistency with Scripture, as well as 
with reason. A nation has undoubtedly a right, 
as well as any particular society, or an indivi- 
dual, to keep any day and as many days as it 
thinks proper or convenient, though not to dis- 
pense with its own observance of any day which 
it may think to be enjoined in Scripture, or to 
forbid its observance by any of its subjects who 
may think so. 

But it may be asked, Has the nation a right, 
with the provisos just stated, to impose the day 
or days it accounts sacred, whether upon Scrip- 
tural considerations or otherwise, upon individu- 
als in it who think differently of them, and who 
conceive themselves to be required by the Deity 
to consecrate a different day weekly ? Here it 
will be necessary for me to distinguish between 
one case and another. Were the laws relative to 
Good Friday or Christmas-day, for instance, to 
order an extent of observance, though annually, 
and not weekly, as great as that which it requires 
on the first day, those of the community who do 
not belong to the Establishment, might perhaps 
think them rather unreasonable. If they were 
to do so, I, however, though a Protestant Dissen- 
ter, should think myself bound to obey them, so 
far as relates to abstinence from public business. 
Happily, they enjoin little more upon the people 

308 Supposed Authority of Mart 

than abstinence from business of that sort oil 
those days, and that chiefly during the time of 
divine service. With these restrictions it is the 
duty of all to comply, whatever their private 
opinions may be about the sacredness of the days 
detached from the events commemorated ori 
them, since the loss or inconvenience is not 
greater to one than it is to another. 

But the chief point for discussion, is the right 
of the nation to impose the observance of the day 
it consecrates weekly, on any who may happen 
to think themselves called upon by Scripture to 
keep another day. Here I am obliged to make 
an important distinction between that degree of 
sanctiflcation which human authority proposes 
or has power to enforce, and that regard which 
the Scriptures mean when they speak of sancti- 
fying the sabbath day. The nation confines the 
idea (so far as relates to enactment, whatever it 
may recommend) of keeping the day to the 
showing it respect in public, or at furthest in 
the external conduct. The Scriptures, howe- 
ver, require the observance of it likewise in pri- 
vate, and in the thoughts ; in conversation, as 
well as in the actions ; in the wakeful hours of 
night, as well as in the day-time. The laws of 
man could not take notice of, or enforce by the 
exaction of penalties, a sanctiflcation of this ex- 
tent, even if they had a right to impose it« 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath. 309 

Without, however, such a sanctification, in my 
opinion, (and the pious in general, in this country 
at least, agree with me,) there is, according to 
the Scripture, no sabbath kept ; notwithstanding 
the day that is merely sanctified according to the 
requisition of human laws, and their power of 
enforcement, may be called by that name, and 
notwithstanding no other except that may be 
sanctified weekly by it at all. There are, indeed, 
numbers belonging to the Established Church, 
and to other religious bodies, who sanctify the 
first day Scripturally, and not merely so far as 
to satisfy the laws : but they act upon the idea 
of human authority enforcing divine authority. 
They think either that the national day of rest 
coincides with the Scriptural one, or at least 
that the Scriptures, contenting themselves with 
enjoining one day in seven, have invested the 
legislature and the government of every coun- 
try with authority to determine the day. They 
cannot, therefore, do otherwise, consistently 
with their principles, than annex the additions 
made by Revelation to the enactments of the 
civil power respecting sanctification. They are 
not urged to the opposite conduct by the calls of 
secular duty ; as conscience does not compel 
them to abstain from it on another day. But this 
Scriptural enlargement and completion of civil 
tanctification cannot be expected from those who, 

Supposed Authority of Man 

though equally unable to plead the sacrifice of 
interest on a former day, do not believe that there 
is any weekly sabbath by divine authority, whe- 
ther exercised by God himself, or delegated by 
him, in this particular instance, to the state ; and 
of these I suspect that the number is far from 
inconsiderable, even among the pious themselves : 
though they doubt not the repeal of the old sab- 
bath, they by no means feel satisfied that the 
divinity of a new one, whether generally or 
particularly, is sufficiently proved. Least of all 
can it be justly thought that the Sabbatarian, 
who has already, agreeably to the conviction of 
his own mind} sanctified, in obedience to the 
Fourth Commandment, the seventh day which 
God has appointed, will on another day refrain 
from worldly thoughts, reading, discourse, or 
actions, further than the laws of the country 
profess to take cognizance of, and to enforce. 

t feel confident that in thus denying to the 
civil magistrate, respecting the weekly sabbath, 
the right and power of Him who alone ' sees in 
secret and searches the hearts of the children of 
men/ I shall only appear to withhold from him 
an authority which he never thought of claiming. 
With respect to my pious brethren of every de- 
scription who think differently from me concern- 
ing the day that is the Scriptural sabbath, they 
eaunot reasonably wonder or take offence, that I 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath. 311 

Will not, in my meditations, studies, private pur- 
suits, and conversation, sanctify a day which it 
does not appear to me that God has sanctified, 
any further than is compatible with my secular 
duties ; or that I do not in my habitation, retire- 
ment, and secret thoughts, treat the first day 
with more religions respect than they show to 
the day called Saturday. 

What I have further to remark, will, I hope, be 
received with warm approbation by every mem- 
ber of the community, whether a ruler or a subject, 
that hears of it. I have already intimated the 
hardship under which the Sabbatarians labour, 
who are reduced to the necessity either of violat- 
ing their consciences, or of working only five days 
in the week instead of six — a liberty which is al- 
lowed by the Fourth Commandment, and en- 
joined by their fellow Christians of every name. 
This is a grievance which persons who acknow- 
ledge no Scriptural sabbath at all, or at least no 
day determined by Scripture, have by no means 
an equal right to complain of: for though they 
are restrained on the first day from secular la- 
bour, when they could exercise it without scru- 
ple so far as relates to their own consciences, yet 
they do not lose more time in a week than the 
rest of the nation. But this is not the case of the 
Sabbatarians. Notwithstanding this, while the 
Legislature thinks proper to extend the restrict 

312 Supposed Authority of Man 

tion to them, they will always think it their duty 
to be subject to the magistrate in this particular 
as well as in others, not only for f wrath sake/ or 
to avoid his displeasure and vengeance, but also 
for * conscience sake/* 

Having premised these observations, I proceed 
to avow my full conviction that the degree of 
sanctification which the civil power requires for 
the first day, under pain of civil penalties, is no 
more than it has a right to exact, and that it is 
the incumbent duty of all its subjects to grant it. 
Lawful, therefore, as secular pursuits on the first 
day are for me in a conscientious view, I engage 
in none that would offend the eye or the ear 
of a first day observer. I converse on no topic, 
I transact no business with him, which he would 
decline were I not present. I will not, indeed, 
promise to accompany him to a place of public 
worship as regularly and statedly as I frequent it 
on the day I keep holy. Whatever the laws of 
the country may recommend or wish me to do in 

* The non-observance of Sunday, however, according to 
taw, is a civil offence: it is an offence against God only in 
common with other civil offences, except the offender believes 
the day to be the Scriptural sabbath, or does not know to the 
contrary for want of searching the Scriptures. In these two 
cases alone can he be guilty of the sin of sabbath-break- 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath, 313 

this respect, they do not enjoin this upon any 
one since the era of civil and religious liberty. 
But I can truly say, that when I have occasional- 
ly visited a pious first-day family on the first day, 
I have repeatedly gone with them to their church 
or to their meeting house; that I have conversed 
with no member of the family, whether young or 
old, but upon subjects that either were religious 
in themselves, or at least received a religious im- 
provement 5 and that when called upon to take 
the lead in family prayer, I have poured out my 
heart before God as fervently for the people and 
ministers who keep the first day, as ever I did for 
the Sabbatarians. Often have I preached on the 
first day, in the course of the day and in the even- 
ing too, as the apostle Paul did once to the dis- 
ciples at Troas, though it never once entered into 
my mind that in doing this I was giving a pledge 
that I kept the day myself and expected that 
every one else would do the same : and though 1 
never * broke bread' with the disciples as Paul did 
at the time just referred to, yet 1 have no objec- 
tion to partake of the Lord's supper with baptized 
believers on the first day or on any other day, if 
they will allow me, and I can spare the time. 
Nor do I object to comply with the apostle's 
contingent and temporary injunction on some of 
the churches, being ready on the first day, as 
well as on another, to devote what I can spare of 

314 Supposed Authority of Man 

my property for a religious or benevolent purpose, 
though it would probably be attended, in my case, 
with an act which my pious brethren of the first 
day would perhaps not approve of, notwithstand- 
ing it seems naturally if not necessarily immedi- 
ately to precede the other, and respecting which 
there is nothing prohibitory or cautionary in the 
apostolic injunction. Certainly I do not call the 
first day c Lord's day' as those do in general who 
keep it ; because if I believed the words Rev. 1. 
10. to be the apostle John's words, (which I do 
not,) and if they do not refer to the last day of the 
week, which is the only day stated in the New 
Testament to be sacred, I know not what day is 
meant by the expression, whether it be Sunday, 
Thursday, or Friday, or whether it be a week-day 
or the day of a month ; and if I did, I know not 
whether the whole of the day was to be kept like 
a sabbath, or only a part, like a religious festival, 
or a thanksgiving day ; or whether, in fine, it was 
merely a new appellation given to it in honour of 
the great and happy event which is commonly 
thought to have given occasion for it. But not- 
withstanding these objections, 1 would call the 
first day 'Lord's day,' instead of Sunday, if 
the Legislature were to pass an act to that ef- 

Whomsoever else, therefore, the respectable 
* Society for the Reformation of Manners' may 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath. 3J5 

think it their duty to prosecute for profaning the 
< Lord's day,' I suppose that they would not con- 
sider me and my Sabbatarian brethren who think 
and act with me (if they should ever hear of us) 
obnoxious on that account. 

I hope 1 have fully redeemed the pledge I 
gave for the truth of my assertion, that though 
I cannot consider any day as sacred, except 
that which it appears to me is enjoined by the 
Fourth Commandment, much less consent to sub- 
stitute another for it, yet there is nothing in my 
sentiment or practice that is at all inconsistent 
with the obedience I owe to the laws of my coun- 
try. I should not wonder, indeed, if those of the 
observers of the first day who are most anxious to 
secure and to promote its sanctification, having 
become acquainted with the statement just made, 
were to wish that there were no worse profaners 
of the national day among the people who ac- 
knowledge its divine authority, than there are 
among the Sabbatarians. 

Still my pious opponents will be apt to tell me, 
that though I take care not to offend the laws, yet 
my way of thinking puts it out of my power to 
make those exertions, both by precept and exam- 
ple, in the cause of religion and benevolence, 
which I might make, were ihe day 1 keep the 
same as that which is kept by the nation. I ac- 
knowledge the fact, and lament it : but I must 

316 Supposed Authority of Man 

not do evil that good may come, in a religious 
any more than in a civil view, for the benefit of 
others any more than for my own. 1 could wish, 
if it pleased God, that it suited a greater number 
of people to come and hear me, when it suits me 
to preach : but though more extended means of 
doing good have been hitherto withheld from 
me, I endeavour to embrace every opportunity 
of promoting the cause of the Redeemer, and the 
best interests of men, both high and low, whatever 
day it be ; and especially on the day whicli fur- 
nishes me with the best excuse for speaking on a 
subject that is unhappily not popular, and them 
with the most leisure for hearing ; and though I 
have comparatively but few opportunities for 
< teaching publicly and from house to house' on 
the first day, would the labours of the preceding 
day admit of my doing this frequently, yet I 
have written many a line on that day, which I 
hope, having issued from the press, may, with the 
divine blessing, be of service to the souls both of 
c the wise and of the unwise.' 

After these explanations, it will not be very 
difficult for me *o reconcile my way of thinking 
relative to the weekly sabbath with the will of the 
Legislature on that point. The civil and spiritual 
interests of mankind require that there should be 
a weekly sabbath, or God would not have ap- 
pointed one. But as there is a diversity of senti- 

to institute a Weekly Sabbath. 317 

ment concerning the day appointed by Scripture 
for consecration, it is perhaps necessary for se- 
curing both these ends, and for general conveni- 
ence, that public authority should interfere in the 
way it does; and it is highly proper that its 
enactments should be obeyed by all classes of 
people, whatever may be the opinions of indivi- 
duals on the question. If permitting the Sabba- 
tarians to work six days be thought materially 
incompatible with decorum, and with the dignity 
and the solemnity of public appearance on the 
first day, or if the rigid and universal observa- 
tion of these be thought essential to the attain- 
ment of the important ends proposed, be it so.* 
But any further interference on the part of the 
country is neither possible, nor wanted for the ge- 
neral convenience, or for the civil and the spiritual 
interests of its inhabitants. Its sense of Scripture 
cannot dictate a sense of it to those who are con- 
trary minded. It cannot supersede the sense of 
Scripture that is in the mind of any of its sub- 
jects, or dispense with obedience to that which 
may appear to be a divine law, either in the case 
of another, or even its own. It can, in short, 
plead no authority from Scripture to appoint a 

* Supposing the law to have appointed the seventh day 
instead of the first, what would the observer of the latter 
think of a similar restraint ? 

318 Supposed Authority, S?c. 

sabbath binding upon conscience ; or show the 
credibility of its possessing a right to enact an ex- 
tent of sanctification of which it can take no cog- 
nizance, and which consequently it cannot en- 

The sanctification of a day of which a nation 
can take cognizance, and which it is able to en- 
force, though it by no means amounts to Scrip- 
tural sanctification, is amply sufficient for all the 
civil, moral, and religious purposes for which the 
right of constituting a national sabbath is claimed 
for the civil power ; and the Sabbatarian will 
cheerfully forward its views to the extent I have 
before stated, while at the same time he withholds 
from the first day that private and mental regard 
which he thinks are due only to the seventh 
day, and which conscience obliges him to pay 
to it, even if he has no means of worshipping 
God in public, in opposition to all worldly and 
religious disadvantages whatsoever. 



Differences of Opinion concerning the Import' 
ance of the Grounds on which Sanctification is 
claimed for a Day as the Weekly Sabbath, and 
its obtaining that Sanctification, 

There have been many excellent pieces written 
by pious observers of the first day in this coun- 
try, both Churchmen and Dissenters, concerning 
the mode in which the weekly sabbath ought to 
be sanctified. I most cordially agree with them 
in their ideas on this subject ; and can truly say, 
that it is my desire and aim thus to keep the day 
which, I believe, the Blessed God has set apart 
for sanctification. $ 

With respect to the first day, it is easy to see 
that the efforts of the writers just alluded to to 
get it sanctified in the manner in which the 
Scriptures direct the sabbath to be kept, are cal- 
culated to succeed with those only who admit the 
first day to be the Scriptural sabbath . That indeed 
seems to be the case of all who profess the Chris- 
tian religion — except the few whose sentiments on 
the subject accord with my own. Nothing more, 
therefore, seems necessary to be done by the re- 
prover or admonisher who wishes to extend the 
sanctification of the first day beyond what the 

320 Connexion between the Grounds, ftc. 

civil power proposes, or is even able to effect, 
than to point out the defects and faults with which 
too many are chargeable relative to sanctifying 
the day they acknowledge to be the sabbath, to 
paint in the strongest colours the heinous sin of 
sabbath-breaking — and if they cannot allure them 
by representing the pleasures and advantages of 
real religion both here and hereafter, at least to 
aim at working on their fears, by menacing them 
with the awful judgments of God upon them 
for their profanity. 

But I wish to ask whether these means, suita- 
ble as they appear to be to the end, are, when 
used, (as they frequently have been,) in a consi- 
derable degree, if at all, successful ? If they are 
not, (as the answer will possibly be,) is the failure 
to be ascribed wholly to the obduracy of the of- 
fenders and to the power of temptation, or in part 
at least to the deficiency of the means themselves ? 
Should not the very proper address made to the 
understanding and to the passions just stated, be 
accompanied by a powerful appeal to the judg- 
ment, respecting the nature and the adequacy of 
the evidence by which the day that so loudly calls 
for sanctification is proved to be the Scriptural 
sabbath ? It may be said that there is no occasion 
to prove that which is admitted to be true, and 
that an attempt to remove doubts where none ex- 
ist, is the ready way to produce them. This ac* 

Connexion between the Grounds, #c. 321 

quiescence; however, on their part, may be owing 
to carelessness, obsequiousness, and credulity, ra- 
ther than to knowledge and conviction ; and 
though it may be as operative in the former case 
as in the latter on the practice, when unopposed 
by inclination or interest, yet where it is so 
strongly opposed by them as in the instance of 
not keeping the sabbath, the acquiescence will 
produce no effect at all, if it does not receive sup- 
port and strength from arguments tending to 
evince its justice. The divinity of the Scrip- 
tures is admitted and unimproved by multitudes. 
If, however, any of this description were to be 
warned to < flee for refuge from the wrath to 
come to the hope set before them in the gospel,' 
they would soon ask, c What sign' do the Scrip- 
tures 'show, that we may see and believe V To 
this question, (which, when put with a serious 
view to information and spiritual improvement, is 
not unreasonable,) a solid answer must be re- 
turned, if it be wished that the result, with the 
blessing of God, should be happy. The like, I 
imagine, must be done in the case of the man 
who does not sanctify the first day, though he 
does not openly question whether it be the sabbath 
by divine appointment. 

I shall now suppose that enough has been said 
to show the propriety and importance of stating 
clearly and strongly, though briefly, the evidence 

322 Connexion between the Grounds, S?c. 

of the day's being the Scriptural sabbath for 
which sanctiiication is claimed, notwithstanding 
the general acquiescence of the country in the 
justice of the claim. Let the advocate for it ad- 
vert to this evidence, as well from Scripture as 
from other quarters, and to the tendency of its 
different parts to produce the sanctification in 
question. The following enumeration will, I be- 
lieve, comprehend them : the great and good 
events that happened on the first day — particu- 
larly that of our Lord's resurr ection ; the reli- 
gious acts performed by the apostle Paul, in con- 
junction with the disciples at Troas, on that day, 
and his injunction relative to it ; the appellation 
of Lord's day in the Revelatio n ; the encom iums 
of the ancient Fathers and Councils on it, and 
their recommendations of it both by precept and 
example, as highly proper for a festival ; the so- 
lemn opinions of learned and pious men among 
the moderns in favour of its sanctity ; the observ- 
ance of it by Christendom in general, particularly 
since the beginning of the f ourth century ; the 
reasonableness, utility, and necessity, of the na- 
tion's appointing a weekly sabbath, and its hav- 
ing appointed that, as well as the seventh day. 
and enforced its enactment by penalties; and, 
finally, the first day's coincidence with the se- 
venth part of time as well as the seventh day, 
which day was ordered by the Divine Being to 

Connexion between the Grounds, S?c. 323 

be sanctified, both at the close of the creation, 
and in the Fourth Commandment. 

These are, I believe, the principal, if not all 
the arguments adduced in favour of the first 
day's claim to sanctification ; and some, if not 
all of them, have been brought forward by each 
advocate in modern times for its sanctification, 
though for the most part not so distinctly, fully, 
and forcibly, as 1 think the case required. But 
let me proceed with their natural bearing on the 
minds of the profane. 

Of the arguments just enumerated, those that 
are least likely to impress the thinking as well as 
the irreligious, are the sentiments and exhortations 
of wise and pious writers of the two last centuries. 
With all their wisdom and piety, they were not 
more infallible than the persons whom they ad- 
dressed. Some of them, indeed, filled high 
offices in the Church, and in those oftices were 
eminently honourable and useful : but the vene- 
ration attaching to their characters does not enti- 
tle them to implicit credit ; and their authority as 
spiritual pastors of a superior order is adapted 
to influence those only who acknowledge it. 
The proofs from Scripture produced by such 
men are entitled to peculiar care in examining 
them, but not to reception . without examina- 

The plea for the first day founded on the opi- 

324 Connexion between the Grounds, <Src. 

nions and practice of the ancient Fathers and 
Councils, derives its chief strength from their 
antiq uity, and from their proximity to the aposto- 
lic age. But the plea is more fit for a Roman Ca- 
tholic than for a Protestant. It sounds strange in 
the ears of one who professes the Bible to be his 
religion, to be referred to Tradition, to Fathers, 
and to Councils, for any part of his religious faith 
or practice. The Fathers were men of sense and 
learning ; but in general they indulged their fancies 
more than they exercised their intellectual pow- 
ers. They excelled in rhetoric more than in lo- 
gic. They were good men rather than great men, 
and are more entitled to our esteem as martyrs 
for divine truth, than as searche rs into it. They 
knew better how to enforce the Scriptures than 
how to explain or defend them, and will answer 
our purpose much better as exampjes in practice, 
than as guide s in theory. 

The judgment of such men would not be very 
valuable concerning the sense of Holy Writ on the 
subject in question, were it professed to be found- 
ed on Scripture, and decidedly in favour of sanc- 
tifying Sunday exclusively and wholly. How 
much less must it answer the purpose for which 
it is brought forward, when it as strongly recom- 
mends and enjoins the seventh day as it does the 
first ; when its language relative to the first im- 
plies only that a part should be kept ; and when 

Connexion between the Grounds, Sec, 325 

it never appeals to Scriptural authority even for 
this partial sanctification ! 

The united sentiments and conduct of Chris- 
tians in general on behalf of Sunday for so many 
centuries, and those of real Christians also, di- 
vided as they have been in opinion on a variety 
of other topics, are certainly calculated to make a 
deep impression upon 'the many,' who are apt to 
think more of a custom's existence, continuance, 
and widely-extended reception, than of the causes 
to which it owes its origin and prevalence. It is 
no new thing for human tradition, when made of 
equal authority with the divine law, at length to 
supersede it. By observing the first day as well 
as the seventh, the Christians in the first ages 
stood a better chance of not being mistaken for 
Jews in the persecution every where raised 
against the latter, than if they had kept the se- 
venth day alone. No one can justly think it any 
great recommendation of the first day that Rome 
and Alexandria should have constantly kept it 
exclusively, or that they should in a course of 
time influence the other cities of the Roman 
Empire to do the same, when he recollects, that 
neither a great, wealthy, and splendid metropo- 
lis, nor a distinguished seat of learning, is the 
best place in the world for preserving or propa- 
gating religion in its purity. 

But that which completed the triumph of the 

326 Connexion between the Grounds, #c. 

first day through the whole civilized world on its 
becoming Christian, was, the edicts of Constan- 
tine and his successors, in conjunction with the 
decrees of Councils, which ordered the observ- 
ance of the first day; from which time its f< sister/ 
though hitherto regarded almost as extensively as 
itself,* suddenly disappeared, and was never more 
heard of, in Europe at least, till the era of the 

Can the general concurrence of Christians in 
favour of the first day, obtained by the same 
means by which it was obtained for the errors 
and superstitions of Popeiy, render its claim 
to sanctification unquestionable ? Ought their 
tame acquiescence in the justice of this claim 
during the blindness and torpor of the dark ages 

* So it has been generally supposed: but in reality it disap- 
peared, as already shown, very gradually. Beside the sacred 
regard mentioned in a former note to have been paid for many 
centuries (and which perhaps is still paid) to the seventh day 
in the Latin and Greek Churches, Mr. Robinson, in his * His- 
tory of Baptism/ speaks of a sect of l Jewish Christians' 
among the Waldenses : and Mosheim speak* of a similar sect 
among them in the 12th century. Benedict, (an American,) 
in his ' History of the Baptists/ vol. ii. p. 414, speaks of 
Seventh-day Baptists in Transylvania when Sigismund was 
king — I suppose in the 14th century. Dr. Buchanan, in his 
1 Researches/ p. 158, 160. speaks of the Armenian Christians 
as observing the seventh day as their sabbath. 

Connexion between the Grounds, &>c. 327 

■ — an acquiescence which began to be power- 
fully attacked as soon as ever the corruptions of 
that period were attacked, and that with con- 
siderable success in the course of the two late 
centuries — to go by the respectable appellation 
of rational conviction ? Or can it reasonably cre- 
ate surprise, that public opinion should be more 
reluctant to seek after and to comply with divine 
truth in a minor point, than in an essential of re- 
ligion — especially when a sentiment or practice 
that has long and generally prevailed not only 
holds out the most flattering lures to its adhe- 
rents, but threatens those who quit it with the 
most serious inconveniences ? 

Were it, therefore, less certain than it is, that 
the purit y of a fountain cannot always be inferred 
from the length of the stream issuing from it, nor 
the excellent q ualit y of the water from its abun- 
dance, there is too much reason to suspect that 
the general concurrence of fallible and imperfect 
beings, (however worthy the character or consi- 
derable the talents of many of them may be,) in 
the case of the day observed by them as the Scrip- 
tural sabbath, is not so unquestionably the result 
of a careful, diligent, and impartial examination of 
the word of God on the subject, as to exempt any 
one from the obligation to search it each one for 

The necessity for keeping some day or ano- 

328 Connexion between the Grounds, S?c. 

ther in a week, for civil, moral, and religious 
purposes, and of a nation's fixing on the day 
for the general convenience, and the enforcing 
its observance by civil penalties, is certainly 
an argument of weight for any enactment of 
the kind referred to short of instituting a sab- 
bath. But it is evident that a nation cannot se- 
cure for any day that private and mental regard, 
without which, whatever external and public 
respect is shown to it, it does not receive the 
sanctification which, according to the Scriptures, 
is due to a sabbath; even if such an extensive 
sanctification were necessary (which is not the 
case) to the attainment of the great and good 
ends proposed by the act of the Legislature in 
question. The day never can present itself with 
divine authority to the mind, except when it 
either coincides with the Scriptural day, or can 
plead a Scriptural commission given to the civil 
power for that purpose; and the decision of these 
questions must be left to each individual for the 
regulation of his own conduct in secret. In the 
real sanctification, therefore, of a day by the sub- 
ject, the nation can only act a part subordinate to 
his conscience at most ; and when his conscience 
does interest itself at all, or differs in opinion 
concerning the Scriptural sabbath from the na- 
tion, all the country can justly claim, and in 
fact all that it thinks of claiming, is the exter- 

Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 329 

nal and public observance of the day which it 
has appointed, so far as relates to secular busi- 
ness or pleasure. 

If the sanctification which is claimed for the 
first day were placed only upon such grounds as 
have hitherto been mentioned, whatever species 
of guilt the withholdment of that part of it which 
alone man can take cognizance of and punish may 
come under, I do not see how it can be proved to 
be profane and impious, as those sins are which 
are committed immediately against God — such as 
is a breach of any one of the three first com- 
mandments. In the case supposed, that is, of 
a person who, after proper inquiry, thinks 
either that there is no Scriptural sabbath, or 
that the first day is not that sabbath, he that 
merely does not keep the day privately and men- 
tally, is not guilty of an offence at all. In act- 
ing contrary to a human law relative to the pub- 
lic observance of the day, he does commit an of- 
fence — a high offence if you will ; for he not only 
disobeys the civil power in a case where it is 
exercised lawfully, which is itself a public inju- 
ry, and a 'resisting the ordinance of God,' but 
he disobeys it in a case which the Legislature 
thinks is highly important to the temporal and 
spiritual welfare of the subjects at large. But 
whether the offence would equal in enormity and 
atrocity the sin of sabbath-breaking, or expose 

330 Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 

the delinquent to the peculiar vengeance of Hea- 
ven both in this world and the world to come, as 
that sin is conceived to do, is another affair. The 
requisitions of the civil power relative to religion 
are not all sanctioned by Inspiration, as they were 
among the Jews, under their prophets. A civil 
offence, even in an affair of religion, may not be 
an offence committed immediately against God, 
more than another offence. Supposing the first 
day to depend for its claim to sanctification on no 
other grounds than those already stated, the secu- 
larization of it by business or pleasure is a crime 
to be ranked rather with the violation of the reli- 
gious fasts and feasts that are also (and have 
equally been so for ages) appointed by the coun- 
try for the moral and spiritual improvement of its 
inhabitants, than with the violation of the Fourth 
Commandment under the former dispensation. 

In order, therefore, to fix, with justice, the in- 
famous stigma of profanity and of sabbath-break- 
ing on the non-observance of the first day accord- 
ing to law, and to prove the offender's exposure 
to divine vengeance, it will be necessary to men- 
tion the arguments hitherto produced for it only 
as secondary, and subsidiary to reasons of an infi- 
nitely higher nature. The divide authority of its 
claim to sanctification from Scripture ought to be 
chiefly insisted upon and proved by every speak- 
er or writer who would address the non-observers 

Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 331 

of it on the atrocity and peculiar danger of their 
conduct with justice and effect. It is not enough 
for them to say that men of piety and learning in 
general — that (he ancient Fathers — that the Chris- 
tian world at large— and that the laws of the 
country, account the day to be sacred : they must 
show also that the sentiment and practice in ques- 
tion are founded in Scripture, and that they are 
totally different from the errors and corruptions 
that were introduced into the Christian religion 
soon after, if not during the time of the apostles, 
and which were by no means wholly separated 
from it at the Reformation. They must show 
that the obedience due to the state respecting the 
observance of Sunday, is enjoined upon the peo- 
ple whom they address by an authority infinitely 
more awful than Miat of human laws. They must 
not only call Sunday the weekly sabbath, but 
prove from the Scriptures that it is so, and endea- 
vour to move and influence the minds of men not 
merely by solemnity of manner, but by the 
weight of matter ; not by dogmatical assertion, 
but by incontrovertible reasoning. 

Whether the arguments generally adduced 
from Scripture to prove that the obligation to 
keep the first day is clothed with divine authority 
are sufficient, will best appear by looking back to 
that part of this Work in which the question is 
discussed. The great and good event of our 

332 Connexion between the Grounds, S?c. 

Lord's resurrection happened on the first day, 
and he met with his disciples once, or perhaps 
twice, on it; but how do these circumstances 
make or prove the first day a weekly sabbath, 
more than his meeting with his disciples, his 
blessing them, his ascending, and his being exalt- 
ed, on Thursday, make or prove that to be one ? 
No inspired writer intimates that the day was on 
these accounts henceforth to be called ' Lord's 
day,' or to be treated as sacred either in whole or 
in part.* — Were it necessary to show that it was 
lawful for Christians to meet together for the pur- 
pose of ' breaking bread,' (supposing the phrase 
to mean celebrating the Lord's Supper,) the ex- 
ample of the disciples and of the apostle Paul at 
Troas is certainly adequate to the purpose ; but 
if the object be to show, not the lawfulness of 
these^acts, but the incumbent duty of performing 
them on the first day, on account of its being the 
weekly sabbath, where is the proof that the disci- 
ples and the apostle considered the day in that 
light, or that this was the reason of their assem- 

* The creation, that occupied the six first days of the first 
week, was a work sufficiently great and good to justify the 
Divine Being's appointing the next day, on which he rested 
from it, the weekly sabbath. But without notice of that ap- 
pointment, no one would have been warranted in concluding 
that it was to be so considered and applied, or would ever 
have thought of doing so. 

Connexion between the Grounds, Src, 333 

bling and acting on it as they did ? The acts 
themselves imply no such thing. 

The private act of pious benevolence which 
the apostle Paul enjoins on Sunday (1 Cor. 16. 
1, 2.) on certain churches during a certain period, 
was under the necessity of being performed either 
after terminating the secular labours of one week, 
or before the commencing the labours of another 
week. Had the order been given for Friday, 
would that have proved Friday to be the weekly 
sabbath ? If not, why should its being given for 
the first day, prove that to be a sabbath ? There 
is no hint given here, any more than in Acts 20. 7., 
that the act enjoined on the first day was on ac- 
count of its being the sabbath ; nor can the act 
itself prove it. Indeed the secular act requisite 
to it, and which is not forbidden immediately 
to precede it, (as it was natural for it to do,) 
is not very suitable to a sabbath. The selec- 
tion of the same day for this temporary though 
weekly act, as that on which the meeting at Troas 
was held, cannot make or prove it to be the week- 
ly sabbath, without notice from Inspiration to 
that effect. No other day except the seventh 
day had at the time its appropriate name ; and a 
day that had this advantage was fitter for a cir- 
cular, like the order in question, than one that 
could not be designated but by a circumlocution. 
The seventh day, if still the sabbath, would not 

334 Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 

have been fit for such an act, on account of the 
act before mentioned that necessarily preceded 

These private sequestrations were enjoined, as 
before noticed, only on some churches, were to 
answer a temporary purpose, and would not have 
been heard of, (and of course not the day on 
which they were to take place,) had it not been 
for the contingent occasion. The meeting, too, 
at Troas, is not stated to have been ever repeated, 
and would likewise probably not have been heard 
of, had it not been for the affair of Eutychus. 
Would these incidents have been recorded thus 
indirectly, and have been thus exposed to the 
hazard of omission, had they been intended to 
announce a new institution, never before glanced 
at ? They however imply no such thing. 

The circumstances that distinguish Sunday 
from Thursday or Friday, are not great and good 
events happening upon it, or Christ's meeting 

* The apostle's sole object seems to have been to secure 
the weekly performance of this private act. Provided the se- 
questration took place weekly, for aught that appears it made 
no difference to him on which day it took place. He only 
named a day, lest that which might be done any day, should 
not be done at all. Proper as the act itself, detached from 
its preceding adjunct, was for a sabbath, it is less calculated 
to assist in proving the consecration of a day than any other, 
because it is so very common on any day. , 

Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 335 

with or blessing his disciples upon it, or the per- 
formance of religious acts, even that of 'breaking 
bread,' upon it. [Acts 2. 46.] The distinctions 
are, that the first day is named, and that it was 
appointed for a private act of pious benevolence 
to be performed by some churches, and which 
might possibly be repeated for several weeks. 
As to the first day's being named, it alone had a 
name, (except the seventh day,) it being conve- 
nient that it should have one for stating the day 
of the resurrection, which there was frequent oc- 
casion to mention, without a circumlocution. Its 
having a name, too, fitted it for the circular, 
1 Cor. 16. 1,2. The nature of the act enjoined 
confined it to the first or the seventh day. It is not 
very extraordinary that the same day in different 
weeks should have different religknis acts per- 
formed upon it for a while. The act enjoined 
was the least calculated of any to convey the idea 
of a sabbath respecting the day of performance. 
At most it would occupy only a few minutes j and 
it does not follow, from the evening of the Sunday 
being spent in public devotion at Troas, that 
there was public devotion every Sunday in other 
churches, and much less that the day was de- 
voted to religion, and that weekly. 

The pious acts performed, according to Acts 
20. 7. and 1 Cor. 16. 1, 2. occupied only a small 
part of the different first days to which they re- 

336 Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 

late. Neither an order to sanctify the day, nor 
any other mode, is employed, that indicates the 
observance of the whole day. The expression, 
therefore, ' Lord's day,' Rev. 1. 10. (supposing it 
to be written by the apostle John, and to mean a 
day the whole of which was sacred,) whatever 
day it refers to, cannot by any fair rule of inter- 
pretation be referred to the first day. Indeed I 
know of no day to which, taken in its connexion 
with the rest of the New Testament, it can be 
justly applied, except to the seventh day, as was 
said before more at large. 

For the reasons just given, I must consider the 
arguments in favour of the first day's claim to 
sanctification drawn from the New Testament, 
taken separately, as mere ciphers ; and, as I have 
observed before, a number of ciphers put together, 
were they ever so many, will amount only to no- 
thing, except there be a significant figure on the 
proper side of them. How totally void of weight 
do they appear, compared with those which sup- 
port the divine institutions of Baptism and the 
Lord's Supper! Their insufficiency is owned by 
King Charles the First, and by some of the great- 
est divines both here and abroad. The perpetu- 
ity of these institutions beyond the apostolic age 
has been questioned, and supported by much the 
same means as that of the seventh day sabbath 
is, namely, their reason and utility remaining the 

Connexion between the Grounds, &c. 337 

same, and the want of Scriptural notice to the 
contrary : but the fact of their institution has ne- 
ver been questioned. 

The appeals made in favour of the same day to 
the Old Testament, amount at most only to a 
proof that the first day, had it been instituted in 
the New Testament, would not have been unlike 
the former institution in one particular, being 
equally a seventh part of time as much as the se- 
venth day. But the Old Testament certainly 
does not institute the first day; and therefore if it 
be instituted by divine authority, it must be in- 
stituted in the New Testament, and must derive 
its claim to sanctifi cation solely from that institu- 
tion, and not from the sanctification enjoined in 
the Old Testament relative to another day. The 
institution in Genesis 2. 2, 3. plainly means the 
last day of the week, and no other. The Fourth 
Commandment likewise refers to the last day of 
the week exclusively ; so it was always under- 
stood to mean before our Lord's resurrection. 
* Whether this summary of the proofs from Scrip- 
ture of the alleged right of the first day to sancti- 
fication, when laid before those who follow their 
worldly business and pleasures on the day, will 
be likely to convince them that they ought not 
only to keep it as much as the laws require, but 
even to sanctify it in the sense of Scripture, or 
that their violation of the laws contains in it the 

338 Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 

heinousness and incurs the danger of the sin of 
sabbath-breaking, I must leave others to judge. 
It will be said by some, perhaps, that by exciting 
doubts in minds where there were none, and 
furnishing with objections and arguments people 
who had none before, 1 have been encouraging 
them in transgressing the laws relative to Sunday, 
instead of promoting obedience to them as I pro- 
fess to do. But, in my opinion, to keep persons 
ignorant of the grounds of duty is not the way to 
enforce the practice of it ; nor is it the way to 
secure or obtain for Sunday its just right, to de- 
mand for it more than it has a right to. I am 
not conscious to myself that I have been i walk- 
ing in craftiness,' or < handling the word of God 
deceitfully :' on the contrary, by manifestation of 
what 1 verily believe to be * the truth,' I have 
been 6 commending myself to every man's con- 
science in the sight of God.' As a Protestant, 1 
regard the maxim that < ignorance is the mother 
of devotion,' as no less degrading to human na- 
ture, servile, and temporary in its operation, than 
it is absurd, impious, and calculated only to ren- 
der men formalists and hypocrites. The expedi- 
ent of addressing thoughtlessness, sloth, implicit 
faith, and the passions, without enlightening the 
understanding and convincing the judgment, has 
been tried long enough, in the hope of producing 
a regard for Sunday according to law. As that 

Connexion between the Grounds^ S?c. 339 

Las failed, let the expedient of addressing reason 
out of the Scriptures be tried. The disregard la- 
mented by the pious claimants of sanctification 
for the first day may be more generally owing to 
want of conviction that it has a right to it, than is 
commonly imagined. 

Once more I repeat, that I have no doubt of 
the right of Sunday to regard, so far as the law 
can enforce regard, or in fact claim it. But 1 
must be allowed to say, that could its right to 
Scriptural sanctification be proved, that would 
tend infinitely to strengthen and give effect to the 
national enactment. What 1 think of the Scrip- 
tural claim has been already stated at large. How 
incomparably superior to it is the ground, in my 
opinion, on which the claim of the seventh day to 
be kept holy by Christians stands. Its claim rests 
upon the ground of the institution in Paradise, and 
repeated in the Fourth Commandment, which is 
allowed by its opponents still to continue in force, 
though that could not be were the seventh day re- 
pealed. The glorious work of the creation, the 
rest after which is the only cause assigned to man- 
kind for its institution, and which is the primary 
and chief cause of its being given a second time 
with the rest of the Decalogue to the Jews in 
particular, still continues in being ; and as much 
concerns the moderns as the ancients, the rest of 
the world as it does the Jews, the Christian dis- 

340 Connexion between the Grounds, fyc. 

pensation as it did the two former dispensations. 
It has no other memorial except the seventh day, 
whereas the work of redemption has two; and 
that day is as fully competent to any purpose for 
which the first day is ever applied, as the first or 
any other day can be. The want of records con- 
cerning the actual observance of it by the ancient 
Patriarchs and Gentiles cannot disprove the fact 
of its existence, and of their obligation to keep it, 
even if Mr. Wright, Dr. Jennings, and Dr. Rees, 
in his Encyclopaedia, under the word c Week,' 
did not produce a variety of authors both before 
and since the time of Christ in support of their 
regarding it in one way or in another. The re- 
peal of it cannot be proved by any text which 
will not fairly bear another sense, and which will 
not, if taken literally, do away all sabbaths as 
well as the seventh day sabbath. There is no 
proof of the day having ever been secularized by 
an apostle or by the first Christians ; on the con- 
trary, there is proof that pious acts were performed 
on it by Christians as Christians, even that of 'break- 
ing bread,' because they were performed by them 
daily. Acts 2. 46. Though it was necessary for 
the apostles to tell the Jews and the Gentiles that 
there was a change respecting the weekly sabbath, 
(supposing that there was such a change,) be- 
cause otherwise they could not know it, not hav- 
ing reason to expect it ; yet it was not necessary 

Connexion between the Grounds, $c. 341 

to tell either of them that a law continued in force 
which both have always been under an obligation 
to regard, and which the Gentiles, when they 
became Jewish proselytes, regarded as a matter 
of course, if they did not do so before — the reason 
stated for the institution remaining just the same, 
and there being nothing in the change of dispen- 
sation to make them think otherwise. The apos- 
tles had matters of too much importance to speak 
of to the Gentiles, to take up the time by speak- 
ing of the sabbath, their duty relative to which 
they could not fail of finding in Genesis 2. 2, 3. 
and the Fourth Commandment, if they did not 
know and practise it already. It cannot be in- 
ferred that the Christians did not keep the se- 
venth day, from there being no specific instance 
of it mentioned in the inspired writings; because 
a law is always supposed to be regarded as usual, 
which is known to have long existed and to have 
been long obeyed, and of the repeal of which 
there is no account — especially since the silence 
can easily be explained by the absence of the 
apostles from the Christian assemblies on mission- 
ary duty at the synagogues — the want, in conse- 
quence, of any extraordinary or miraculous oc- 
currence at them — and the omission of common 
events, which was required in a detail of princi- 
pal matters so concise as that given by the sacred 
writers. That they did keep it, appears from the 

342 Connexion between the Grounds, S?c, 

pacific conduct of the Jews, whether believers or 
unbelievers, who were too strongly attached to 
the sabbath to have acquiesced quietly in its re- 
peal, had there been any ; and also from the ex- ^ 
istence of Christians who kept it in the age suc- 
ceeding that of the apostles, whose practice the 
Fathers never speak of as a novelty, or as a revi- 
val of something obsolete. In a word, as conjec- 
ture and presumption are not sufficient grounds 
for the admission of a new law, neither are they 
sufficient grounds for the abandonment of an old 

Such is the summary of the arguments for the 
continuance and universal obligation of the se- 
venth day sabbath. How can any one justly call 
it the Jewish sabbath in any sense, except as lie 
uses the phrases Jewish Scriptures and Jewish 
God,* when a Christian sabbath distinct from the 
Jewish one is unknown to the New Testament, 
which gives the title of sabbath exclusively to the 
seventh day ? What amazing force would this 
chain of reasoning add to the enactment of the 
Legislature relative to sanctifying the first clay, 

* Jehovah at one time condescended to stand in the rela- 
tion of a king to the Jews. Is he, then, the God of the Jews 
only ? Is he not the God of the Gentiles also ? In like manner, 
the seventh day answered particular purposes to the Jews, 
without losing its claim to the regard of the Gentiles. 

Connexion between the Grounds, &?c* 343 

and to the obligation of keeping it according to 
law, if it applied to the first day as it does to the 
seventh ! Whether any of those who secularize 
Sunday externally and publicly are transgressors 
of that which they believe in their consciences to 
be a divine law, (as they undoubtedly are of a 
human law, and justly deserving of punishment 
for it, too,) I shall not say. But I have no hesi- 
tation in saying that the heinous guilt and pecu- 
liar danger attached to sabbath- beaking are un- 
questionably incurred, whenever the neglect or 
violation of the seventh day sabbath is persisted 
in in opposition to light, or to the duty of coming 
to the light — whether in the case of an individual, 
or of a society, small or great. 

I close the Chapter with reciting a fragment of 
a prayer which a Sabbatarian was accustomed to 
offer the evening and the morning of his sab- 
bath :— 

i I would call to mind the Creation, 

thy great and good work, though now marred, of 
which I am a part. I bless thee for making me 
wiser than the beasts that perish, and for all thou 
hast done for me these many years, praying for 
the continuance of thy mercies through the re- 
mainder of life — in death — and for ever. I 
would not substitute nature, chance, or human 
agency, for Thee, who art the only living and 
true God. I would see thy glory not only in the 

344 Connexion between the Grounds, 8cc. 

upper and better world, but in this lower world 
— in thy conduct toward man and fyeast. Here 
thou didst accomplish the glorious work of re- 
demption, without which, under the present apos- 
tate, guilty, wretched, and helpless circumstances 
of my nature, my being would inevitably prove a 
curse to me instead of a blessing. Here thou 
callest thy people, and fittest them for heaven. 
Here thou glorifiest thyself in them and by them. 
Enable me to co-operate knowingly, willingly, 
zealously, with thee, as the God of nature and 
providence, and more especially as the God of 
grace ; and when thou shalt be pleased to remove 
me from this creation, or when it shall be burned, 
may I form a part of the new creation ? ' 


In the foregoing pages it will, I hope, be seen, 
that I have confined myself to the subject as 
much as possible. Though I have declared my 
sentiments with the freedom that becomes a Pro- 
testant and an Englishman, much more a Chris- 
tian and a Christian minister, yet I have endea- 
voured to treat with proper respect my opponents 

. Conclusion. 345 

of every description, whether the pious or those 
of the opposite character — whether Churchmen 
or Dissenters — whether Christendom or the Bri- 
tish Public— (what fearful odds exist !) In parti- 
cular, I have been very careful to say nothing in- 
compatible with that obedience which I owe to the 
laws of my country. I have shown that my opi- 
nion and practice relative to the weekly sabbath 
are by no means hostile to that regard which the 
Legislature demands for Sunday. 

There are numbers of people who could bear 
the inconvenience of paying that regard which all 
ought to pay to it while the law so stands, and yet 
keep the seventh day holy as well as I, were they 
in like manner convinced that it was the sabbath 
of the Lord their God. Were it otherwise, I am 
not certain that the Legislature would be unwil- 
ling, upon application to it, to let those work 
six days who thought themselves still required 
by the Fourth Commandment to sanctify the old 
sabbath. Though the symmetry of religion's 
public appearance on the first day might be 
marred a little by the measure, yet neither reli- 
gion itself, nor any civil or moral purpose, would 
suffer any more than as they were injured when 
the Act of Uniformity and the Schism Bill were 
liberally and justly exchanged for the Acts of 

Thus the tendency of the foregoing pages is 

346 Conclusion. 

not to encourage the non-observance of Sunday 
in opposition to law, whatever tendency they may 
have to induce the Legislature to alter the law, 
so far as the law withholds from the Sabbatarians 
that liberty which is given to them by the Fourth 
Commandment. I have strongly and repeatedly 
inculcated obedience to the law in this particular, 
so long as the law continues as it is. Indepen- 
dent, however, of the law, the first day observer 
has no more a right to incommode or to grieve a 
Sabbatarian by labouring on his day, than the 
Sabbatarian has to incommode or to grieve the 
other by labouring on the other's day. The sen- 
sibility of the Sabbatarian to offences against the 
sanctity of his day, is no less acute than that of 
the first day observer to offences against the sanc- 
tity of his ; and though it would be wounded in 
a body of people in an infinitely greater num- 
ber of instances, were the Sabbatarian to ob- 
tain his just rights, than it is now, yet the 
shocks given to each individual would be in- 
finitely fewer than those which are every week 
given to him. Important as public opinion, fa- 
shion, and general example, are in civil matters, 
they ought not to have any weight in an affair 
that lies entirely between God and the soul.* 

* The multitude of fellow-sufferers in the case supposed, 
calculated as it may be to strike the eye of a spectator or a 

Conclusion. 347 

1 am, then, to be considered not as hostile to 
the first day, but as an advocate for the seventh 
day. — Whether 1 am right or wrong in my no- 
tion concerning the day that is the Scriptural sab- 
bath, no one can justly say that the question is 
unimportant. As long as the Fourth Command- 
ment is recognized by Christians as a precept 
still in force — as long as it is stated to be so with- 
out the least alteration of the matter or modifica- 
tion of the form of words in which it stood ori- 
ginally in the Decalogue — so long it must be a 
matter of consequence to inquire what day of the 
week is meant by the seventh day. As long as 
the pious exclaim against the heinous and dan- 
gerous sin of sabbath-breaking, so long it must 
be important to inquire what the sin is, and who 
the person is that commits it. 

In supporting the seventh day sabbath, I am 

philosopher, is a circumstance that tends not to increase, but 
to diminish the suffering of each individual. The evils which 
each individual feels are few : they only become many when 
he thinks of the evils suffered by others, which he does not 
feel. This would probably be admitted, were the first and 
seventh days ever to exchange situations. What is the num- 
ber of evils actually felt by an observer of the first day, com- 
pared with that of similar evils encountered by every Sabba- 
tarian i Ought the wounds that are suffered merely by fancy, 
if not by something worse, to prove the occasion of real in- 
jury and temptation ? 

348 Conclusion. 

indeed advocating the cause of a weekly sabbath 
in general, more than many are aware of. There 
are, as 1 have had repeated occasion to notice 
before, those (and 1 suspect that their number is 
far greater than is known) who, though they are 
firm in denying that any except the Jews ever 
did keep or were bound to keep the seventh day, 
or at least that it is obligatory upon Christians, 
yet are equally firm in denying that the first day 
is a sabbath by divine authority. What is this 
but denying that there is any sabbath binding 
upon conscience, and depriving a nation of the 
power, let it consecrate what day it will, to 
appeal to Scripture in aid of its own enact- 
ment? My sentiment, on the other hand, that the 
seventh day is still the Scriptural sabbath, leaves 
the nation at full liberty, if it pleases, with regard 
to that day, to support and strengthen human by 
divine authority.* 

* There is not the smallest evidence, in my opinion, that 
the Scriptures leave the civil power at liberty to fix the day 
for the weekly sabbath, indicating that whatever day that 
may be, it is binding upon the privacies and the thoughts of 
all its subjects, as well as upon their public and external con- 
duct. Ifitbesaid that though Revelation does not require 
this, Reason does, I answer that all which reason requires 
(and it is extremely doubtful, to say the least, whether it 
would have ever thought even of this, had it not been for Re- 
velation) is an enactment of the legislature that should pro- 

Conclusion, 349 

The length and complex nature of the pre- 
ceding discussion are owing to the many topics 
which curiosity has unnecessarily, though not 
unnaturally, introduced. If the institution in 
Genesis 2. 2, 3. be real, inserted in the natural 
place, and mentioned no sooner than it was needed 

mote humanity, morality, and religion, throughout the nation 
weekly. But mere reason does not inculcate the devotion 
of the privacy and secret thoughts to religion, on those 
accounts, during the whole of the twenty-four hours at 
once. Personal religion, indeed, is important at these 
times for a man's acting his part in society with a view to 
the promotion of the aforesaid objects, and perhaps a larger 
and more frequent exercise of it on those occasions than 
at other times — especially as upon the present supposition 
there is no other day in the week that claims these attentions 
from him ; but not that entire exclusion. of worldly business 
and pleasure which the weekly sabbath, according to the 
Scriptures, demands. Without the injunction of Revelation, 
it does not appear to me that nature, reason, expediency, or 
any thing else, would suggest a national or any other sabbath, 
like what I conceive a Scriptural sabbath to be, if it suggest- 
ed any sabbath at all. It would scarcely of itself suggest that 
external, public, and partial regard for some days, more or 
fewer, which the laws demand and can enforce for the first 
day, and which is fully competent to answer every purpose 
which society can be supposed to have in view. The impor- 
tance of a Scriptural weekly sabbath appears solely from 
God's having at the beginning fixed'the day for it j and if he 
has withdrawn that day without substituting another, such a 
sabbath has ceased to be important. 

350 Conclusion. 

by man, it is no matter whether there are any 
records of his keeping the day or not. If the 
Fourth Commandment be only a repetition of 
that institution — if it has but one meaning, 
namely, the weekly sanctification of a specific 
day, for a specific reason which is stated, and is 
applicable to no other day, (a meaning which it 
always had exclusively before our Lord's ascen- 
sion, and after according to Luke's judgment, 
ch. 23. 56.) — and if the commandment be not 
repealed, (as Christians in general think,) it is of 
course the duty of Christians to keep the seventh 
day. If, in short, the phrase Lord's day (He v. 
1. 10.) cannot be applied to the first day without 
the help of Fathers and Councils, (though they 
never tell us that they are quoting Scripture in 
using the phrase, much less that the Scriptures 
warrant their application of it,) nothing more 
need be said ; for the application cannot be ad- 
mitted by any consistent Protestant. 

Convinced as I feel of the soundness of my ar- 
gument, I would by no means allow myself to 
doubt for a moment the possibility of another's 
considering it, and coming to an opposite con- 
clusion, without the least discredit to his abilities 
or character. On the other hand, I cannot admit 
any right of dispensing, by myself or others, with 
the obligation to study and regard the will of 
God in all things. I am ready to allow that the 

Conclusion, 351 

question I have been discussing is a minor point: 
but no conscientious mind will think that because 
such a point is of far less importance than some 
others, therefore it is of no importance at all. 

The minor questions in religion are very differ- 
ently situated with respect to the chance they 
stand for fair treatment. There are some which, 
though they rose from a small source, yet run 
rapidly, and spread themselves widely in their 
progress. The obstacles they meet with occur 
but seldom, and are overcome with comparative 
ease. Others are less favoured in each of these 
particulars. The Reformation was greatly as- 
sisted in advancing to its present prosperity, by 
the freedom of inquiry and of communicating sen- 
timent which it allowed to learning and philoso- 
phy — by its friendly aspect toward the rights of 
princes and the independence of nations — and by 
its tendency to promote civil and religious liber- 
ty. The Dissent from an Establishment cannot of 
course hope to have a nation or the higher powers 
in its train : but in liberal times like these, it 
encounters no mighty obstacles in the way of at- 
taining considerable wealth and respectability. 

The questions which separate the Baptist De- 
nomination from their Non-conforming brethren 
merely affect communion at the Lord's table, 
domestic economy, or personal convenience ; and 
these but in a few cases comparatively. Sabba- 

352 Conclusion, 

tarianism, on the contrary, may possibly deter a 
prudent man from venturing on a family, or in- 
terfere with its general regulations one whole day 
every week : it may withhold the means of train- 
ing children to honourable and lucrative profes- 
sions : it may prevent engaging or continuing in 
any respectable line of business ; and may even 
threaten its votary with the want of conveniences, 
if not of necessaries. It may, in fine, endanger 
the safety and prosperity of a church, the com- 
forts and advantages of social and public worship, 
and the extensive or useful exercise of ministerial 

The peculiar disadvantages thus attending Sab- 
batarianism will easily account for its low state, 
compared with that of any other minor point: 
but they will by no means prove the propriety or 
necessity of disregarding it. 

Were it not true, as it is, that these evils are 
felt chiefly in times and places in which the Sab- 
batarians are few — that beside the just expectation 
of the divine blessing on every one who sacrifices 
the world to conscience, many sources of supply 
remain to the inventive, the industrious, the fru- 
gal, and the patient — and that there are instances 
not only of comfort, but of competence and even 
of affluence, among the Sabbatarians, as well as 
among other religious bodies, the sombre picture 
before drawn of their peculiar disadvantages, 

Conclusion. 353 

will not, in my opinion, release any from the 
obligation they are under to inquire what the 
will of the Lord is in this particular, and to con- 
form to it, whatever it may be, not * consulting 
with flesh and blood.' What would a pious ob- 
server think of keeping Monday instead of Sun- 
day, on the ground of convenience ? Would he 
think that it signified little or nothing which day 
he kept, provided he kept one ? How can he, 
then, in conscience, dispense with inquiring whe- 
ther the Fourth Commandment does or does not 
really enjoin the observance of the seventh day, 
and no other, or with keeping it, if he finds that 
the fact is so ? , Duty will allow us a reasonable 
time for * setting our houses in order,' and for 
c guiding our affairs with discretion,' before com- 
pliance with it, but nothing further. I have 
known more than one noble case of this kind, and 
cases that were attended with a reward here, as 
well as with the fairest prospect of a reward 
hereafter. That policy which regards no minor 
point except as it is going forth i conquering and 
to conquer,' or as it is consistent with worldly 
ease and pleasure, with profit and honour, with 
genteel connexions, with figure and influence in 
society — in a word, with civil and religious re- 
spectability, appears to me to < savour less the 
things that be of God, than the things that be of 
men.' It is not very probable that the characters 

354 Conclusion, 

in whom it predominated would have associated 
with the persecuted Non-conformists, or even 
with the persecuted Lollards. It is well if they 
would have met with the few Christians in the up- 
per chamber at Jerusalem, just after our Lord's 
ascension, or have resorted with the women at 
Philippi to the river side where prayer was wont 
to be made ; if they would have associated with 
the seven thousand worshippers of the true God, 
rather than with the Baalites in Elijah's time ; 
or with Noah joined the eight in the ark, rather 
than have remained outside with an unbelieving 
world > that perished in the waters of the flood I 

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