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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath - Contents
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    The examination of a subject of so great practical importance as this, demands more care than I am able to bestow upon it in the midst of other labors. That which I shall write I most earnestly believe to be truth, though I cannot hope to present it in a form so acceptable as might be done under other circumstances.WDUS 3.2

    To our readers I would say that, as disputants, it is expected that the views of the writers should be determined in their own minds, otherwise they could not honestly contend for their faith. But as readers, we ask you to suspend judgment, as far as possible, until the evidence is presented. And I pray that truth rather than victory may be the object of our labors.WDUS 3.3

    The proposition now under consideration embraces two points: (1.) When the Sabbath was made. (2.) For what purpose it was made.WDUS 3.4

    It will be well to consider what is the nature of the evidence required to sustain the proposition. For as all have, to some extent, already formed opinions on the subject, some may be satisfied with less proof than ought by right to be given, while others may ask more, and of a different kind, than the circumstances justly demand. On this I notice thatWDUS 3.5

    a. The book of Genesis, which contains the record of the facts of creation, is not a book of law, but a brief history, covering more than 2,000 years from creation. AndWDUS 3.6

    b. It was not written at or near the time when the events transpired, but hundreds of years afterward. And, therefore,WDUS 3.7

    c. It was not written for the benefit or use of those who lived during the first 2,000 years, as they were a long time dead when it was written.WDUS 3.8

    As might be expected in a book of this character, we often find evidence of the existence and knowledge of a law, when there is no mention of a law in the record. Thus “Enoch walked with God, and he was not; for God took him.” This is a very short biography of a very eminent man who lived several hundred years. It does not furnish the least clue to the rules of life observed by Enoch. But it will not do to infer that, because not a single law is recorded, therefore not a single commandment was observed by Enoch. We must apply the principles involved in the case from our knowledge of the relations and responsibilities of a moral agent.WDUS 3.9

    Again, the imagination of the hearts of men was only evil, in the days of Noah; and Noah alone was righteous before God. But righteousness consists of right doing.—1st John 3:7. Therefore, the difference between Noah and others was just this: He was obedient to the requirements of God while they were disobedient and lawless. We are absolutely shut up to this conclusion, though the record makes no mention of any law obeyed by the one, or disobeyed by the others.WDUS 3.10

    And again, the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners exceedingly. Now there is no record that any law was given to them; but we know that “sin is the transgression of the law,” 1 John 3:4; and that “where no law is there is no transgression,” Romans 4:13; and “no imputation of sin,” Romans 5:13. Therefore they had the law given to them, and they were its transgressors. Though the record contains no law, it contains positive proof that it was there. Had the record been written for them to point out to them their duty, it must then have contained the law instead of barely referring to it. In all such cases we find in Genesis, not what was necessary in a legal view to guide the lives of those living in that day, for it was not written for such a purpose, nor for them at all; but (we find) all that is necessary in a historical view, to give us full assurance that moral relations were the same then that they are now, and that legal obligations were known by all, and were regarded by some and disregarded by others.WDUS 4.1

    The scriptures having a direct bearing on the present question are not numerous; therefore the testimony will not be difficult to collate. But indirect testimony is abundant.WDUS 4.2

    Concerning that Sabbath which is the subject of our investigation, Exodus 20:10, says: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” On the information I proceed with my argument.WDUS 4.3

    How and when was the seventh day made a Sabbath day? Sabbath means rest; the Sabbath day is the rest day. Then to ascertain how and when the seventh day was made a Sabbath day, we must find the act by which was constituted a rest day; and that will absolutely decide the question. Inasmuch as it is the Lord’s Sabbath day, (as himself declared,) this rest must be the Lord’s rest; and of course must stand related to the Lord’s work. For, as a rest necessarily supposes some work performed, the rest must be his, and his only, who performed the work.WDUS 4.4

    Now I inquire, What was the work to which the seventh-day rest stands related? And no question can be more definitely answered by the Scriptures than is this, Genesis 2:1-2: “And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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.” Exodus 20:10-11: “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God.... For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day.” The same in Exodus 31:17: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” And it is repeated in Genesis 2:3, where the reason is given for its sanctification: “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.”WDUS 4.5

    This testimony is too plain to need comment, and too decisive to admit of an appeal. Its relations to obligation must be mostly reserved for the second part of my argument.WDUS 4.6

    Though in strict justice nothing is required to prove the relevancy of all of the texts above quoted, or to show their evident connection, yet when wrong impressions have obtained it becomes necessary to guard the truth from its influence. Because the law is not given in form in Genesis 2., and because the observance of the sabbath was directly enforced after the exode, it has been thence inferred that the sabbath of the fourth commandment was instituted in the wilderness of Arabia, and that it is not identical with that of Genesis 2:3. But that reference is not in harmony with the Scriptures, and is altogether unwarranted.WDUS 4.7

    Exodus 16. does not give any reason why the seventh day was the sabbath of the Lord; why that title was given to that day instead of to another. There is therein a truth stated, viz., the seventh day is the sabbath. There is also a duty enjoined in view of that truth, viz., to abstain from secular labor on that day. Therefore Exodus 16. does prove that the seventh-day sabbath existed before it was proclaimed on Sinai; and it does prove that the obligation to keep if holy existed before its proclamation on Sinai. But it does not show why the seventh day was called the sabbath; it does not state either when or by what act it was made a sabbath. It was recognized, not instituted, and enforced on the recognition. I repeat, in Exodus 16. there is found neither any act of instituting, nor any reason for the institution.WDUS 4.8

    The commandment given on Sinai gives the same reason for the sabbatic institution that is given in Genesis 2., and it gives no other. Both Genesis 2. and Exodus 20. say that God made the world in six days; both say that he rested on the seventh day; both say that he blessed the seventh day; and both say that he sanctified or hallowed, his rest day. That which is said by one is said by the other precisely. Though there can be no reasonable doubt that the sabbath of Exodus 20:8-11 is the same day that was enforced at the falling of the manna, circumstances plainly showing it, as it continued to be pointed out in the same manner for years after the commandment was uttered; yet the identity of these days is not so clearly shown in the record as is the identity of the sabbath of Exodus 20. and the rest day of Genesis 2. For, as above stated, Exodus 16. does not give the history of the sabbatic institution as it is given in Exodus 20. and in Genesis 2.WDUS 4.9

    That the absence of the word sabbath in our English version of Genesis 2. has no bearing against this position, is shown in that, (1,) the words rest and sabbath are the same. (2.) The Lord said the seventh day is the sabbath, and this because of his resting thereon. And (3,) he did not make it a sabbath in the act of blessing it. In one text it says “he blessed the sabbath day,” and therefore it was already the sabbath day when he blessed it. In the other it says he “blessed the seventh day because that in it he had rested,” or sabbatized, which teaches the same thing. There may be local reasons given for enforcing its observance, as there are in regard to all duties, (see Leviticus 19:35-37, etc.,) but the reason for the institution is given in Genesis 2. and Exodus 20. And there is no act of instituting connected with, or related to, any other reason, than that therein given, or any other work than that of creation.WDUS 5.1

    As preparatory to the second part of the argument on this proposition, and as showing the importance of a correct construction of the phrase, “the sabbath of the Lord,” I notice, that the seventh day sabbath stands apart from all the other sabbaths, which were afterward ordained, in respect to its title; the reason of its institution; and the nature of the obligation to observe it. AndWDUS 5.2

    1st. Its title. In any and all of the yearly sabbaths, such as were peculiar to the Jewish system, there is no rest of the Lord from any work given as their basis; and therefore they are not the sabbaths of the Lord as is the seventh day, his sabbath, or rest flay. We find this distinction recognized in the Scriptures, as in Leviticus 23. The yearly sabbaths are enumerated and enforced, “beside the sabbaths of the Lord;” verse 38. As all the other sabbaths were local and contingent, limited to that dispensation to Israel, it was said in prophesy, “I will cause all her sabbaths to cease.” Hosea 2:11.WDUS 5.3

    2ndly. The reason of its institution. We take the first sabbath given to Israel as peculiar to their dispensation; the fifteenth and twenty-first days of the first month, connected with the feast of the Passover. These, as each of the other sabbaths peculiar to their system, were (1,) to commemorate an event in their experience; (2,) they were typical of future events; (3,) they were yearly and not weekly Sabbaths. The weekly sabbath, the seventh-day sabbath, was made at creation, and commemorated that work; and in its institution it was related to God’s work only. But the others are relative to man’s action and condition as a sinful being. I cannot conceive how a greater difference could exist.WDUS 5.4

    Had man never sinned, it would then have been forever true, as it is to-day, that God made the world in six days. Had no system of redemption been devised or needed, it would still have been eternal truth that God rested the seventh day, and that he blessed and sanctified his rest day.WDUS 5.5

    But, on the other hand, had not man sinned; had no system of redemption been promised; had no types of the Redeemer’s work been ordained, them none of the typical or yearly sabbaths would have been instituted. Had man not sinned, the whole train of circumstances by which those sabbaths were called into being, would not have existed. They all stand related to man’s action as a sinner, and to Christ’s work as Redeemer. And as they point to, and have their fulfillment in, his work, they are appropriately denominated, “A shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” Colossians 2:14-17. But the Lord’s sabbath, as has been shown, is of an entirely different nature. It is not so related to man’s action as a sinner, or to the work of redemption. It was not based upon any contingency, or upon any future work. But it had for its foundation a glorious work all finished and complete “when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy;” a work in which Jehovah himself delighted, and which he pronounced “very good.”WDUS 5.6

    And 3rdly. The nature of its obligation. A difference in this is the necessary result of the truths before stated. In three respects I notice this difference.WDUS 6.1

    a. The obligation to keep the seventh-day sabbath is based on primary and eternal truth. By primary truth I here mean that which grows out of the action of God alone-out of the original constitution of things; truth that existed before the fall of man, and would ever have existed had he never sinned. There is a class of secondary truths growing out of a perversion of God’s work; out of the contingent relation we sustain to God since the fall. And all institutions, and obligations corresponding thereto, growing out of these secondary relations are necessarily limited by their nature; they are typical or shadowy. I think that no person, on reflection, will dispute the ground I here take, that, No typical institution or merely positive duty can grow out of original relations; i. e., out of those relations existing from creation, and by virtue of creation. And, on the other hand, No moral obligation can originate in, or spring from, a secondary relation; i. e., a relation growing out of man’s act of rebellion. In God’s own mind all moral relations and duties originate. Man may, and he did, create the necessity for a scheme of restitution and redemption; but no part of this plan is elementary. It owes its origin to wrong-doing; its necessity is laid in sin and rebellion.WDUS 6.2

    b. The seventh day was from the beginning a hallowed or sanctified day. It was “holy to the Lord.” Exodus 16:23; 31:15. “The, holy of the Lord.” Isaiah 58:13. “My (the Lord’s) holy day.” id. The obligation to observe it has sacredness as its basis; the commandment guarded an original, sacred institution. The sabbath, like its twin sister, marriage, though often and much abused, comes down to us from Eden’s purity and glory.WDUS 6.3

    c. It is based on the right of property. God always claimed he seventh day as his; and this claim he based on facts as old and as unalterable as creation itself, as has been abundantly shown. But the obligation of the other sabbaths did not rest on any such original relation; and, coming yearly, they fell at different times on all the different days of the week which God gave to man for his own work. The days of the week on which any of them fell, (except when they fell on the seventh day,) were not holy by reason of any blessing or sanctification ever put upon those particular days. The consecration, in their cases, attached to institutions which were temporary, and (as to the days of the week,) were movable. God never claimed the right in them that he did in the seventh day. He did not rest from his work on any of them. They could not be the Lord’s sabbaths, or rest, as the seventh day was and is. In a word, the duty to keep the seventh day holy is based on the original right of property, specifically declared. And if the eighth commandment is moral because it guards the right of property, evidently the fourth is moral for the same reason. Certainly, every relation upon which the institution and obligation of the seventh-day sabbath depended is as old as creation itself-as old as any of man’s moral relations possibly can be.WDUS 6.4

    The second part of this proposition—“For man’s observance”—has very positive statements of scripture to sustain it. But were that not the case, it grows so naturally out of the evidence here adduced that it might even then be easily maintained if this argument be not overthrown.WDUS 6.5

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