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    PERPETUITY OF THE SABBATH

    We have seen that God laid the foundation of Sabbath by resting on the seventh day, placed the institution upon this foundation at creation when he sanctified his Rest-day and hallowed it, and that the fourth commandment points back to creation for the reasons of the institution; inseparably connecting the Sabbath with Jehovah’s Rest on the seventh day.SDSL 11.1

    Pass down through the period of the Prophets, and you will find the greatest blessings promised to those who should keep the Sabbath, and the greatest curses threatened for its desecration. Come to the period of the First Advent, and there you cannot find the least evidence that Christ removed the Sabbath from the foundation on which his Father had placed it. Instead of this, he styles himself “Lord of the Sabbath-day,” and declares that it “was made for man.” And when citing his disciples to the future, as far at least as the destruction of Jerusalem, he says: — “But pray ye that your flight be not in the Winter neither on the Sabbath-day.” Matthew 24:20. Our Lord here recognizes the existence of the Sabbath, as much so as the existence of the seasons of the year.SDSL 11.2

    And lest some might get the idea that he had come to destroy his Father’s law, or to alter some portion of it, he says: — “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.” Matthew 5:17, 18.SDSL 11.3

    It is true that the Pharisees accused our Lord of Sabbath-breaking: they also charged him with having a devil; but these charges did not make it so in either case. We do not give as much credit to the testimony of those accusers and crucifiers of our Lord as some do. Jesus testifies: — “I have kept my Father’s commandments.” John 15:10.SDSL 11.4

    All the acts performed by our Saviour on the Sabbath were in accordance with the Sabbath law. We do not say that they were in accordance with the notions of the Pharisees. On one occasion when our Lord was in the synagogue, also the man with the withered hand, “they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath-days. Matthew 12:9-13. See also Luke 14:3-6.SDSL 12.1

    Lawful, signifies agreeable to law. In these texts the word means, agreeable to the Sabbath law. When the Pharisees accused Christ of Sabbath-breaking, in healing the sick on that day, he referred them to acts of mercy which they would perform even to dumb beasts on that day, thus exposing their hypocrisy. He then declared such well-doing as merciful acts to man or beast on that day, lawful. Now who will take his stand with the Pharisees, and say that Christ’s acts of healing on the Sabbath were unlawful? Who will stand with Christ when he declares them lawful? Christians should be on the side with Christ.SDSL 12.2

    But we will trace this point still further. Those who teach a change of the Sabbath, date that change from Christ’s resurrection. And those who teach that there is no Sabbath, date its abrogation from his crucifixion. No one argues any change whatever in regard to the Sabbath prior to the death of Christ. They have to admit that the Sabbath law stood in all its binding force throughout his entire ministry. In fact, the assertion that the Sabbath was abolished at the cross, contains a virtual admission that it was in force up to the cross; for it would be folly to talk of abolishing a law not in force. Then to join the Pharisee and say that Christ transgressed this law when he healed the sick on the Sabbath, is virtually charging him with being a sinner; “for sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. But as “in him was no sin,” he did not transgress the law. We have a better sacrifice for sin, than that of a transgressor. Praise his name.SDSL 12.3

    That Christ never taught his followers that any change was to take place in regard to the Sabbath, is evident from the course pursued by the holy women who “followed after, and beheld the sepulchre,” and how the body of their Lord was laid. “They returned and prepared spices and ointments, and rested the Sabbath-day according to the commandment,” [Luke 23:55, 56,] then “upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared,” to embalm their Lord. Chap 24:1.SDSL 13.1

    The Son of God, then, left the Sabbath on the same foundation on which the eternal Father placed it. By healing the sick on that day, and by declaring what was “lawful” to be done on that day, he stripped from the institution the garb of tradition which the blind Jew had thrown around it, and left it standing on its own basis — the fourth commandment.SDSL 13.2

    The writers of the four Gospels, who wrote at different periods after the ascension of Christ, all speak of the Sabbath as then existing, and of the first day of the week as quite another thing. These faithful men, aided by the Holy Ghost to record the most important events that this fallen world ever witnessed, most certainly hand down to us the very views they held of those two days at the time they wrote the Gospels. Not one of those four writers give the least intimation that any change had taken place in regard to the Sabbath. If so important an event as the change, or the abrogation of the Sabbath, occurred at our Lord’s first advent, they would not have failed to record it.SDSL 14.1

    The same distinction between the Sabbath and the first day of the week is also kept up in the book of Acts. The Sabbath is mentioned as still existing, and the first day of the week is spoken of as another day. “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. And the next Sabbath-day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” Acts 13:42, 44.SDSL 14.2

    Here are some things worthy of special notice. It was the Gentiles, not the Jews, that invited Paul to preach to them on the Sabbath. If Paul taught the people that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution, and that it had been abolished, it seems really unaccountable that the Gentiles, who were entirely disconnected with the Jewish religion, should request him to preach to them on the Sabbath. It is evident that the reason why they invited Paul to preach to them on the Sabbath, was because they knew he regarded the seventh day as the Sabbath of the Lord.SDSL 14.3

    If that request of the Gentiles had been made to a modern preacher, he might have replied, You need not wait till another Jewish Sabbath. To-morrow is the Lord’s day. We will preach to you tomorrow. And if, as Doctors of Divinity teach, it was the design of Heaven that the observance of the first day of the week should rest upon “apostolic example” alone, what an excellent chance the Apostle had to set the example in the city of Antioch, when the people were so very anxious to hear, and were in a good state to receive right impressions. But instead of setting an example favoring the first day of the week, the Apostle entirely overlooked it, and the poor Gentiles had to wait till the Sabbath came round!SDSL 15.1

    But was it the Apostle’s manner to preach on the Sabbath? “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures.” Acts 17:2. “And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Chap 18:4.SDSL 15.2

    It is sometimes said that the only reason why Paul preached on the Sabbath, was because the Jews were assembled in their synagogues on that day. But this is not true; for we find the Apostle and his companions preaching elsewhere besides in the synagogues, on the Sabbath. “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.” Acts 16:13.SDSL 15.3

    If that meeting by the river side had been on the first day of the week, then the advocates of the first day might with some degree of propriety talk of apostolic example for observing that day. But there is no record in the New Testament of a public meeting of the Apostles in the day-time of the first day of the week.SDSL 15.4

    While Paul was a prisoner at Rome, he called the chief of the Jews together and said unto them, “Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.” Acts 28:17.SDSL 16.1

    If the Apostle had taught the people any change whatever in regard to the Sabbath, his testimony would have been denied by those Jews, and he would have been silenced at once. But instead of this, it is said of him in verses 30, 31, “And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.”SDSL 16.2

    The Apostles, then, regarded the Sabbath as resting on the very foundation where Jehovah had placed it at creation, and where his Son Jesus Christ had left it. Whatever weight may be given to their example in regard to the Sabbath, as far as New-Testament writers have spoken, it is all on the side of the seventh day. But God has never left his people to be directed in any important duty with only the example of even inspired men. There is a plain precept for every duty which he requires at our hand. The Sabbath precept is indeed plain. The teachings of our Lord as to the Sabbath, by precept and example, were also plain. And the example of the holy Apostles was in accordance with the testimony of the Father and the Son. Amen.SDSL 16.3

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