Page images
PDF
EPUB

reasonings, we may justly reckon the tree of knowledge among the sacraments of the covenant of works.

CHAP. VII.

S

4

[ocr errors]

Of the First Sabbath.
I.
1. WE ,

E said, that the first Sabbath was the fourth sacra ment of the covenant of works. In order to treat somewhat more fully on this, it will not be improper to make it the subject of a whole chapter : Moses gives us the history of it Gen. ü. 2, 3. in these words: “And on the seventh day God ended his work, which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work, which he had made : and God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work, which God created and made.” The more fully to understand these words, and from them to answer our design, we shall distinctly discuss these three things: 1st. Enquire whether what is here, said about sanctifying and blessing the seventh day, ought to be applied to that first day, which immediately followed upon the six days of the creation, and which was the first that shone on the works of God when completed; or whether it be neceseary to have recourse to a prolepsis, or anticipation, by which we may look upon those things as spoken of the day on which many ages after the manna was given in the wilderness. 2dly. We shall explain the nature of that first Sabbath. 3dly. and lastly, Point out in what respect it was a Sacrament.

II. There is no occasion to mention, that the first of these points has been matter of great dispute among divines, with out coming to any determination to this day; nor do I choose to repeat what they have said ; I shall only observe, that perhaps the parties might easily agree, did we know what we are to understand by sanctifying and blessing the seventh day, mentioned by Moses, and which we shall presently consider. But if we suppose in general, that God rested on the seventh day from his work, that is, not only desisted from creating new species of creatures, but acquiesced and took complacency * in the work which he had now finished, especially in man,

, who was formed after his image, and furnished with those faculties, by which he was enabled to acknowledge, and celebrate the perfections of God, shining forth in his works: and that he set this his resting before man as a pattern, by

[ocr errors]

3

[ocr errors]

which he should be taught to acquiesce in nothing but in God, for whom he was created, please himself in nothing but in glorifying God, which is the end of his creation; moreover, that he sanctified this day, of which we are speaking, by commanding it to be employed by man for that sacred work, adding a promise, that all that time, thus employed by mari, should be highly blessed to him: if I say, we thus in general suppose, as all these things are evidently truth, there is good hope, that all equitable judges will allow that we adhere to the simplicity of the letter, and interpret this history of Moses as the narrative of a thing done at that time, which the holy Prophet was then describing

III. I am glad to find the celebrated Coccvius assents to this. His words are these, on Gen. ii

. $ 6. " Some imagine, that this verse (namely 3.) is put by way of anticipation.-But it is not probable that Moses, in recording this blessing and sanctification, did by no means speak concerning the original Sabbath, but only concerning the Jewish Sabbath. This is plainly doing violence to the text, if one day be understood, which God blessed and sanctified, and another on which he rested from his work." And the very eloquent Burman, though inclining to an anticipation, yet owns, that “the words of Moses may be understood of that perpetual Sabbath, the seventh day after the creation, which first saw the works of God, perfected, and most auspiciously shone on the world; whence it is said to be peculiarly blessed by God, and afterwards to be celebrated and sanctified by man, for all ages to come." Synops. Theol. lib. 2. c. 5.811. See the same author; de economia fæderum Dei, $ 208, 209. We shall say no more on this, as we could rather wish to see the orthodox agreeing among themselves, than contending with one another. And indeed this must be acknowledged, if we would properly explain, in what manner this Sabbath was a sacrament of the covenant of works.

IV. The best Hebrew authors, on whose authority those of the opposite opinion are wont to build upon, agree with us in this dispute. For in the Talmud they enquire, “why man was created on the evening of the Sabbath," and of the three reasons they give, this is the last; “ that he might immediately enter on performing the command" The famous Ludovicus de Dieu, mentioning these words, on Gen. i. 27, adds by way of explication ; “ for, since the Sabbath immediately succeeded the creation of man, he immediately entered on the command of sanctifying the Sabbath.” Baal Hatturim, after various interpretations of this passage, also subjoins this other; “ in the

1

а

hour, that he created the world, he blessed the Sabbath and the world." Jarchi also mentions this opinion, though himself was otherwise minded; "what would the world have been without rest; on the coming of the Sabbath came rest, and thus at length the work was finished and completed." By which he intimates, that the institution of the Sabbath was joined to the completing of the works of God. There are. also some Jews, who will have Psal. xcii: whose title is,“ Psalm or Song for the Sabbath-day," to bave been composed by Adam. For thus the Chaldee paraphrases: “a Hymn and Song, which the first man said of the Sabbath." And R. Levi in Bereschit Rabba, sect. 22. at the end : “the first man spoke this Psalm, and from his time it was buried in oblivion, but Moses came and renewed it." Now I bring these testimonies to shew that they speak too confidently who assert that it is running counter to the unanimous opinion of the Jews, for any to insist that the precept of the Sabbath was enjoined on the first man. Whoever wants more to this purpose, may consult Selden de jure nature, &c. lib. 3. c. 13.

V. These things supposed, we are further to enquire in what the nature of the first Sabbath did consist. Here again the learned run into very different opinions. I now take it to be my province, to lay down such propositions, to which it is to be hoped that the orthodox, who are lovers of truth, will without difficulty give their assent.

VI. We are to distinguish first between the rest of God, and the rest of man, which God enjoined upon him, and re commended by his own example: in this manner also, Paul distinguishes, Heb. iv. 10. " he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his."

VII. The rest of God consisted, not only in his ceasing from the work of any new creation, but also in that sweet satisfaction and delight he had in the demonstration of his own attributes and perfections, which were gloriously displayed in the work he had now finished, especially after he had added a lustre to this inferior world, by bestowing upon it a most excellent inhabitant, who was to be a careful spectator, and the herald and proclaimer of the perfections of his Creator, and in whom God himself beheld καιμικρον τεσδοξης αυτε απαυγασμα, 10 small effulgence of his own glory. Wherefore it is said, Exod. xxxi. 17. - and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed;" not as if he was fatigued, but as rejoicing in bis work 80 happily completed, and in which he beheld what was worthy of his labour.

VIII. God having rested on the seventh day, sanctified it,

as well by example as by precept. By example, in as much as he brought man, whom he had newly formed to the contemplation of his works, and revealed to him both bimself and his perfections, that he might love, thank, praise, and glorify him. And indeed, because God rested on the seventh day from all other works, and was only intent upon this, we may conclude, that he sanctified it in a most extraordinary man

He likewise sanctified it by precept, edjoining man to employ it in glorifying his Creator.“ To sanctify, (as Martyr, whoin several commend, says well,) is to set apart something for the worship of God," as it is also taken bere. And it was very justly observed by Calvin, that it was the will of God, his own example should be a perpetual rule to us. Rabbenu Nissim, quoted by Abarbanel, on the explication of the law, fol. 21. col. 3. is of the same opinion: “ and this is the sanctification of the Sabbath, that on that day, the soul of man be employed on nothing profane, but wholly on things sacred."

IX. God's blessing the seventh day may be also taken in a twofold sense: First, for his declaring it to be blessed and happy, as that in which he had peculiar pleasure to enjoy, by observing all his works in such order as to be, not only to himself, but to angels as well as men, a most beautiful scene, displaying the glory of his perfections. This is what David says, Psal. civ. 18. “ the glory of the Lord shall endure for ever, the Lord shall rejoice in his works." Thus, God himself rejoiced on that day, and consequently blessed it. For, as to curse a day is to abhór and detest it, as unfortunate and unhappy, as afflictive and miserable, Job ii. 14. Jer. xx. 14. so, by the rule of contraries, to bless a day is to rejoice in it, as delightful and prosperous. And indeed, what day more joyful, more happy, than that which saw the works of God perfected, and yet not stained by any sin either of angels or probably of men? There has been none like it since that time, certainly not since the entrance of sin. Secondly, It was also a part of the blessing of this day, that God adjudged to man, if he religiously imitated the pattern of his own rest, the most ample blessings, and likewise in that very rest, the earnest of a most happy rest in heaven; of which more fully presently. Elegantly said the ancient Hebrew doctors that the “ blessing and sanctifying the Sabbath redound to the observers thereof, that they may be blessed and holy themsclves."

X. The rest here enjoined and recommended to man, comprises chiefly these things : in general, that he shall abstain

n

from every sin, through the whole course of his life, that giving nothing but luneasiness, both to himself and his God. As the Lord complains, Isa. xliii. 22. " thou hast been weary of me, O Israel, and ver. 94. “ thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities." By sinning, we dreadfully transgress against the rest of God, who cannot delight in a sinner, of whom and his work he says, Isa i. 14. “ they are a burthen to me, *I am weary to bear them." But more especially, it is likewise man's duty, that as he is the concluding part of the works of God, and the last of all the creatures, that came out of the hands of his Creator, not so to harass and fatigue himself about the creatures, as to seek his happiness and good in them, but rather, by a holy elevation of mind, ascend to the Creator himself, and acquiesce in nothing short of the enjoyment of his unbounded goodness, of the imitation of the purest holiness, and of the expectation of the fullest rest, and intimate union with his God. This indeed is the true and spiritual rest, always to be meditated upon, sought after, and to be obi served by man.

XI. Moreover, as man, even in the state of innocence, was to perform solemn acts of piety, together with his copsort and children, and to be their mouth in prayer, thanksgiving, and praises ; it was necessary, at that time, that laying aside all other occupations, and all cares about what related to the support of natural life, and ordering those about him to 'rest, he might, without any hindrance from the body, religiously apply himself to this one thing which I hope none of my brethren will refuse. At least the celebrated Cocceius readily allows it. Whose words are these, Sum. Theol. c. 21. § 10. “ It is right in itself, and a part of the image of God, that man should, as often as possible, employ bimself in the worship of God, (that is, laying aside the things pertaining to the body and its conveniencies, be wholly taken up in those duties which become a soul delighting in God, glorifying him and celebrating his praise,) and that too in the public assembly, for the common joy and edification of all.

XII. After man had sinned, the remembrance of God's resting and sanctifying the seventh day, ought to rouse him from his slowness and dulness, in the worship of God, in order to spend every seventh day therein, laying aside, for a while, all other employment. But it will be better to explain this in

* Calvin's words: “God therefore first rested, and then he bless

[ocr errors]

• N.B. This is not to be understood, as if the blessed God could be wearied, but only that it such a thing was possible, sin is of such a malignant nature, that it would do it

« PreviousContinue »