The Change of The Sabbath - by Thomas Shepard (1605-1649)The Lord's Day and Christian Sabbath - God Requires You to Keep the 4th Commandment as Well as the Other 9
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Thesis 1. The change of this day from the last to the first day of the week, although it be confirmed by an ancient custom, yet the true reason and grounds of so great a change are not so fully known, sacred writings not so expressly setting down (as it does in some things of less concernment) the causes hereof. And many of the arguments heaped up and multiplied by some for the change of it, which may seem of very great weight, while they want an adversary at the other end of the scale to balance them; yet upon sad examination and search into them, they prove too light, and consequently occasion the temptation of scrupling the truth and validity of others more clear. We are therefore with more wariness and humility of mind to search into this controversy, and with much thankfulness and modesty to accept that little light which God gives us in greater, as well as of much light which he is pleased to lend us in smaller matters. “Pascimur opertis, exercemur obscuris, was his speech long since concerning the Scriptures. There is no truth so clear but man’s loose wit can invent and mint many pernicious cavils against it; and therefore in those things which shine forth with less evidence, it is no wonder if it casts such blots and stains upon them as that they can scarcely be discerned. Nil magis inimicum veritati, acumine nimio. We should therefore be wise with sobriety, and remember that in this and such like controversies, the Scriptures were not written to answer all the scruples and objections of cavillers, but to satisfy and establish the consciences of poor believers. And verily, when I meet with such like speeches and objections as these, viz., Where is it expressly said that the old Sabbath is abrogated? and what one scripture is there in the New Testament declaring expressly that the Lord’s day is substituted and put in its room? I can not from such expressions but think and fear that the ignorance of this change in some does not spring so much from deficiency and want of light on God’s part, but rather from perverseness on man’s part, which will not see nor own the truth, because it is not revealed and dispensed after that manner and fashion of expression as man’s wit and fantasy would have it. Like Naaman, who, because the prophet went not about the cure of his leprosy in that way and fashion which he would have him, did not therefore (for a time) see that way of cure which God had revealed to him. For the Holy Ghost is not bound to write all the principles of religion under commonplace heads, nor to say expressly, In this place of Scripture you may see the old Sabbath abrogated, and the new instituted; for we find no such kind of expressions concerning Paul’s epistles, and many books of Scripture, that this or that epistle or book is canonical, which yet we know to be so by other evidences. We know, also, that the Holy Ghost, by brief hints of truth, gives occasion of large comments, and by writing about other matters tanquam aliud agens, it brings forth to light, by the by, revelations of great concernment, which it saw meet purposely in that manner to make known. And as in many other things it has thus done, so especially in this of the Sabbath. So that if our hearts, like locks, were fitted to God’s key, they would be soon opened to see thoroughly the difficulties of this point; which I confess, of all practical points, has been most full of knots and difficulties to my own weakness.
Thesis 2. To make apostolic unwritten inspirations, notified and made known in their days to the churches, to be the cause of the change of the day, is to plough with a Popish heifer, and to cast that anchor on which deceivers use to rely, and by which they hope to save themselves when they know not how otherwise to defend their falsehoods.
Thesis 3. To make ecclesiastical custom, established first by the imperial law of Constantine, to be the foundation of the change, is to make a prop for prelacy, and a step to Popery, and to open a gap to all human inventions. For if it be in the church’s power to appoint the greatest holy day, why may not any other rite and ceremony be imposed also? And if it be free to observe this day or not, in respect of itself, because it wants a divine institution, and yet necessary to observe it, in respect of the church’s custom and constitution, (as some pretend,) why may not the church’s commandment be a rule of obedience in a thousand things else as well as in this? and so introduce will worship, and to serve God after the tradition of men, which God abhors?
Thesis 4. The observation of the first day of the week for the Christian Sabbath arises from the force of the fourth commandment, as strongly as the observation of the media cultus, or means of worship, now under the New Testament, does from the force of the second commandment; only let this be supposed, that the day is now changed, (as we shall hereafter prove,) as also that the worship itself is changed by divine institution; for gospel institutions, when they be appointed by divine sovereign authority, yet they may then be observed and practised by virtue of some moral law. The gospel appointed new sacraments, but we are to use them by virtue of the second commandment; so here the gospel appoints a new seventh day for the Sabbath, but it stands by virtue of the fourth commandment, and therefore the observation of it is not an act of Christian liberty, but of Christian duty, imposed by divine authority, and by virtue of the moral law.
Thesis 5. For, the morality of the fourth commandment (as has been proved) being preserved in observing not that Sabbath only, nor yet a Sabbath merely when man sees meet, but in observing the Sabbath, i.e., such a Sabbath as is determined and appointed of God, (which may therefore be either the first or last of the seven days,) hence it is, that the first of the seven, if it be determined and instituted of God under the New Testament, arises equally from the fourth commandment, as the last seventh day did under the Old Testament; and therefore it is no such piaculum, nor delusion of the common people, as Mr Brabourn would make it, to put the title of the Lord’s Sabbath upon the Lord’s day, and to call it the Sabbath day; for if it be born out of the same womb the first seventh was, if it arise (I mean) from the same commandment, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day,” why may it not bear the name of the Sabbath now, as the first born did in former times?
Thesis 6. If the Lord would have men to work six days together, according to his own example, and the morality of the fourth commandment, that so a seventh day determined by himself might be observed, hence it is that neither two Sabbaths in a week can stand with the morality of the fourth commandment, nor yet could the former Sabbath be justly changed into any other day than into the first day of the week; the first day could not belong to the week before, for then there should be eight days in a week, and if it did belong to the week following, then (if we suppose that the second had been the Sabbath) there must be one working day, viz., the first day to go before it, and five working days after it, and so there should not nor could not be six working days continued together, that the seventh might be the Lord’s, according to the morality of the fourth commandment. And hence it is, that no human or ecclesiastical power can change the Sabbath to what day of the week they please, from the first, which now is.
Thesis 7. It should not seem an uncouth phrase, or a hard saying, to call the first day of the week a seventh, or the seventh day; for though it be the first absolutely in order of existence from the creation, yet relatively in way of relation, and in respect of the number of seven in a week, it may be invested with the name and title of a seventh, even of such a seventh day as may lawfully be crowned and anointed to be the Sabbath day; for look, as Noah, though he was the first in order of years, and dignity of entrance into the ark, yet he is called the eighth, (2 Pet.ii.5,) in that he was one of them (as the learned observe) qui octonarium numerum perficiebant, or who made up the number of eight; so it is in respect of the first day, which in divers respects may be called the first, and yet the seventh also. Mr. Brabourn’s argument therefore is of no solidity, who goes about to prove the Christian Sabbath to be no Sabbath, because “that Sabbath which the fourth commandment enjoins is called the seventh day;” but all the evangelists call the Lord’s day the first day of the week, not the seventh day. For he should remember that the same day in divers respects may be called the first day, and yet the seventh day; for in respect of its natural existence and being, it may be and is called the first day, and yet in respect of divine use and application, it may be and is called the seventh day, even by virtue of the fourth commandment, which is the Lord’s day, which is confessed to be the first day.
Thesis 8. For although in numero numerante, (as they call it,) i.e., in number numbering, there can be but one seventh, which immediately follows the number six, yet in numero numerato, i.e., in number numbered, or in things which are numbered, (as are the days of the week,) any of the seven may be so in way of relation and proportion. As, suppose seven men stand together; take the last man in order from the other six, who stand about him, and he is the seventh; so again, take the first in order, and set him apart from the six who stand below him, and if the number of them who are taken from him make up the number if six, he then may and must necessarily be called the seventh. Just thus it is in the days of the week; the first Sabbath from the creation might be called the seventh day in respect of the six days before it; and this first day of the week may be called the seventh day also, in respect of the six working days together after it. That may be called the last seventh, this the first seventh, without any absurdity of account, which some would imagine; and if this first day of the week is called the eighth day, according to Ezekiel’s prophecy of evangelical times, and his reckoning onward from the creation, (Ezek.xliii.27,) why may it not then in other respects put on the name of a seventh also?
Thesis 9. The reason why the Lord should depose the last seventh, and exalt and crown the first of seven to be the day of the Christian Sabbath, is not so well considered, and therefore to be here narrowly examined. For as for those eastern Christians, who, in the primitive times, observed two Sabbaths in a week, the Jewish and the Christian, doubtless their milk sod over, and their zeal went beyond the rule. The number of Jews who were believers, and yet, too, too zealous of their old customs, we know did fill those places in their dispersion, and before more than the western and more remote parts, and therefore they might more powerfully infect those in the east; and they, to gain or keep them, might more readily comply with them. Let us therefore see into the reasons of this change from one seventh unto another.
Thesis 10. The good will of Him who is Lord of the Sabbath, is the first efficient and primary cause of the institution of a new Sabbath; but the resurrection of Christ, being upon the first day of the week, (Mark xvi.9,) is the secondary, moral, or moving cause hereof: the day of Christ’s resurrection being Christ’s joyful day for his people’s deliverance, and the world’s restitution and new creation, it is no wonder if the Lord Christ appoint it, and the apostles preach and publish it, and the primitive Christians observe it as their holy and joyful day of rest and consolation. For some notable work of God upon a day being ever the moral cause of sanctifying the day, hence the work of redemption being finished upon the day of Christ’ resurrection, and it being the most glorious work that ever was, and wherein Christ was first most gloriously manifested to have rested from it, (Rom.i.4,) hence the Lord Christ might have good cause to honour this day above all others; and what other cause there should be of the public solemn assemblies in the primitive churches, upon the first day in the week, than this glorious work of Christ’s resurrection upon the same day which began their great joy for the rising of the Sun of Righteousness, is scarce imaginable.
Thesis 11. No action of Christ does of itself sanctify any time; for if it did, why should we not then keep as many holy days every year as we find holy actions of Christ recorded in Scripture, as the superstitious crew of blind Papists do at this day? But if God, who is the Lord of time, shall sanctify any such day or time wherein any such action is done, such a day then is to be kept holy; and therefore if the will of God has sanctified the day of Christ’s resurrection, we may lawfully sanctify the same day; and therefore Mr Brabourn does us wrong, as if we made the resurrection of Christ merely to be the cause of the change of this day.
Thesis 12. Why the will of God should honour the day of Christ’s resurrection as holy, rather than any other day of his incarnation, birth, passion, ascension: It is this; because Christ’s rising day was his resting or Sabbath day, wherein the first entered into his rest, and whereon his rest began. For the Sabbath, or rest day, of the Lord our God, only can be our rest day, according to the fourth commandment. Hence the day of God’s rest from the work of creation, and the day of Christ’s rest from the work of redemption, are only fit and capable of being our Sabbaths. Now, the Lord Christ, in the day of his incarnation and birth, did not enter into his rest, but rather made entrance into his labour and sorrow, who then began the work of humiliation, (Gal.iv.4,5;) and in the day of his passion, he was then under the sorest part and feeling of his labour, in bitter agonies upon the cross and in the garden. And hence it is that none of those days were consecrated to be our Sabbath, or rest days, which were days of Christ’s labour and sorrow; nor could the day of his ascension be fit to be made our Sabbath, because, although Christ then and thereby entered into his place of rest, (the third heavens,) yet did he not then make his first entrance into his estate of rest, which was in the day of his resurrection; the wisdom and will of God did therefore choose this day above any other to be the Sabbath day.
Thesis 13. Those that go about (as some of late have done) to make Christ’s ascension day the ground of our Sabbath day, had need be fearful lest they lose the truth and go beyond it, while they affect some new discoveries of it, which seems to be the case here. For though Christ at his ascension entered into his place of rest, yet the place is but an accidental thing to Christ’s rest itself, the state of which was begun in the day of his resurrection; and therefore there is no reason to prefer that which is but accidental above that which is most substantial; or the day of entrance into the place of his rest in his ascension before the day of rest in his resurrection; beside, it is very uncertain whether Christ ascended upon the first day of the week; we are certain that he arose then; and why we should build such a vast change upon an uncertainty I know not. And yet suppose that, by deduction and strength of wit, it might be found out, yet we see not the Holy Ghost expressly setting it down, viz., that Christ ascended upon the first day of the week, which, if he had intended to have made the ground of our Christian Sabbath, he would surely have done; the first day in the week being ever accounted the Lord’s day in Holy Scriptures; and no other first day do we find mentioned on which he ascended, but only on that day wherein he arose from the dead.
Thesis 14. And look, as Christ was a Lamb slain from the foundation of the world meritoriously, but not actually, so he was also risen again in the like manner from the foundation of the world meritoriously, but not actually. Hence it is, that look, as God the Father actually instituted no Sabbath day, until he had actually finished His work of creation, so neither was it meet that this day should be changed until Christ Jesus had actually finished (and not meritoriously only) the work of redemption or restoration; and hence it is that the church, before Christ’s coming, might have good reason to sanctify that day, which was instituted upon the actual finishing of the work of creation, and yet might have no reason to observe our Christian Sabbath; the work of restoration and new creation, and rest from it, not being then so much as actually begun.
Thesis 15. Whether our Saviour appointed that first individual day of his resurrection to be the first Christian Sabbath is somewhat difficult to determine; and I would not tie knots, and leave them for others to unloose. This only I aim at: that although the first individual day of Christ’s resurrection should not possibly be the first individual Sabbath, yet still the resurrection of Christ is the ground of the institution of the Sabbath, which one consideration dashes all those devices of some men’s heads, who puzzle their readers with many intricacies and difficulties, in showing that the first day of Christ’s resurrection could not be the first Sabbath, and thence would infer that the day of his resurrection was not the ground of the institution of the Sabbath, which inference is most false; for it was easy with Christ to make that great work on this day to be the ground of the institution of it, some time after that work was past.
Thesis 16. The sin and fall of man having defaced and spoiled (de jure, though not de facto) the whole work of creation, as the learned Bishop Lake well observes, it was not so meet therefore that the Sabbath should be ever kept in respect of that work, but rather in respect of this new creation or restoration of all things by Christ, after the actual accomplishment thereof in the day of his resurrection. But look, as God the Father having created the world in six days, he rested therefore and sanctified the seventh, so this work being spoiled and marred by man’s sin, and the new creation being finished and ended, the Lord therefore rested the first day of the week, and therefore sanctified it.
Thesis 17. The fourth commandment gives in the reason why God sanctified the seventh day from the creation, viz.: because God rested on that day, and as it is in Ex.xxxi.17, was refreshed in it, that is, took a complacency and delight in his work so done and so finished. But the sin of man in falling from his first creation made God repent that ever he made man, (Gen.vi.,) and consequently the world for man, and therefore it took off that complacency or rest and refreshing in this his work; if, therefore, the Lord betake himself to work a new work, a new creation or renovation of all things in and by his Son, in which he will forever rest, may not the day of his rest be then justly changed into the first of seven, on which day his rest in his new work began, whereof he will never repent? If the Lord vary his rest, may not he vary the time and day of it? Nay, must not the time and day of our rest be varied, because the ground of God’s rest in a new work is changed?
Thesis 18. As it was no necessary duty, therefore, perpetually to observe that seventh day wherein God first rested, because his rest on that day is now changed, so also it is not necessary orderly to observe those six days of labour, wherein he first laboured and built the world, of which, for the sin of man, he is said to have repented; yet notwithstanding, though it be no necessary duty to observe those particular six days of labour, and that seventh of rest, yet it is a moral duty (as has been proved) to observe six days for labour, and a seventh for rest; and hence it follows that, although the Lord Christ’s rest on the day of his resurrection (the first day of the week) might and may justly be taken as a ground of our rest on the same day, yet his labour in the work of redemption three and thirty years and upward, all the days of his life and humiliation, could not nor can not justly be made the ground or example of our labour, so as we must labour and work thirty-three years together before we keep a Sabbath the day of Christ’s rest. Because, although God could alter and change the day of rest without infringement of the morality of the fourth commandment, yet he could not make the example of Christ’s labour thirty-three years together the ground and example of our continuance in our work, without manifest breach of that moral rule, viz.: that man shall have six days together for labour, and the seventh for rest. For man may rest the first day of the week, and withal observe six days for labour, and so keep the fourth commandment; but he can not labour thirty-three years together, and then keep a Sabbath, without apparent breach of the same commandment; and therefore that argument of Master Brabourn against our Christian Sabbath melts into vanity, wherein he urges an equity of the change of the days of our labour, “either three days only together, (as Christ did lie in the grave,) or thirty-three years together, (as he did all the days of his humiliation,) in case we will make a change of the Sabbath, from the change of the day of Christ’s rest.” And yet I confess ingenuously with him, that if the Lord had not instituted the first day of the week to be our Christian Sabbath, all these and such like arguings and reasonings were invalid to prove a change; for man’s reason has nothing to do to change days without divine appointment and institution: these things only I mention why the wisdom of God might well alter the day. The proofs that he has changed it shall follow in due place.
Thesis 19. The resurrection of Christ may therefore be one ground, not only of the sanctification of the Christian Sabbath, but also a sufficient ground of the abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath. For, first, the greater light may darken the less and a greater work (as the restoration of the world above the creation of it) may overshadow the less. (Jer.xxiii.7-8; Ex.xii.2.) Secondly, man’s sin spoiled the first rest, and therefore the day of it might be justly abrogated. For the horrible wrath of God had been immediately poured upon man, (as might be proved, and as it was upon the lapsed angels,) and consequently upon all creatures for man’s sake, if Christ had not given the Father rest, for whose sake the world was made, (Rev.iv.11,) and by whose means and mediation the world continues as now it does. (John vi.22.)
Thesis 20. Yet although Christ’s resurrection be one ground not only of the institution of the new Sabbath, but also of the abrogation of the old, yet it is not the only ground why the old was abrogated; for (as has been shown) there was some type affixed to the Jewish Sabbath, by reason of which there was just cause to abrogate, or rather (as Calvin calls it) to translate the Sabbath to another day. And, therefore, this dashes another of Mr. Brabourn’s dreams, who argues the continuance of the Jewish Sabbath, because there is a possibility for all nations still to observe it. “For,” says he, “can not we in England as well as they at Jerusalem remember that Sabbath? Secondly, rest in it. Thirdly, keep it holy. Fourthly, keep the whole day holy. Fifthly, the last of seven. Sixthly, and all this in imitation of God. Could no nation (says he) besides the Jews observe these six things?” Yes, verily, that they could in respect of natural ability; but the question is not what men may or might do, but what they ought to do, and should do. For besides the change of God’s rest through the work of the Son, there was a type affixed to that Jewish Sabbath, for which cause it may justly vanish at Christ’s death, as well as other types, in respect of the affixed type, which was but accidental; and yet be continued and preserved in another day, being originally and essentially moral. A Sabbath was instituted in paradise, equally honoured by God in the decalogue with all other moral laws, foretold to continue in the days of the gospel, by Ezekiel and Isaiah, (Ezek.xliii.ult.; Is.lvi.4-6,) and commended by Christ, who bids his people pray that their flight may not be in the winter or Sabbath day, as it were easy to open these places against all cavils; and therefore it is for substance moral. Yet the word “Sabbatism,” (Hebr.iv.9,) and the apostle’s gradation from yearly holy days to monthly new moons, and from them to weekly Sabbaths, which are called “shadows of things to come,” (Col.ii.16,) seems strongly to argue some type affixed to those individual Sabbaths, or Jewish seventh days; and hence it is, perhaps, that the Sabbath is set among moral laws in the decalogue, being originally and essentially moral, and yet is set among ceremonial feast days, (Lev.xxiii.2,3,) because it is accidentally typical. And therefore Mr. Brabourn need not raise such a dust, and cry out, “O, monstrous! very strange! what a mingle-mangle! what an hotchpotch have we here! what a confusion and jumbling of things so far distant, as when morals and ceremonials are here mingled together!” No, verily, we do not make the fourth commandment essentially ceremonial; but being accidentally so, why may it, notwithstanding this, be mingled among the rest of the morals? Let one solid reason be given, but away with words.
Thesis 21. If the question be, What type is affixed and annexed to the Sabbath? I think it difficult to find out, although man’s wanton wit can easily allegorise and readily frame imaginations enough in this point. Some think it typified Christ’s rest in the grave; but I fear this will not hold, no more than many other Popish conjectures, wherein their allegorising postilers abound. Bullinger and some others think that it was typical in respect of the peculiar sacrifices annexed to it, which sacrifices were types of Christ. (Num. xxviii.9.) And although much might be said for this against that which Mr. Brabourn replies, yet I see nothing cogent in this; for the multiplying of sacrifices (which were partes cultus instituti) on this day proves rather a specialty of worshipping God more abundantly on this day than any ceremonialness in it; for if the offering of sacrifices merely should make a day ceremonial, why did it not make every day ceremonial in respect of every day’s offering of the morning and evening sacrifice? Some think that our rest upon the Sabbath (not God the Father’s rest, as Mr. Brabourn turns it) was made not only a resemblance, but also a type, of our rest in Christ, of which the apostle speaks, (Heb.iv.3,) which is therefore called a Sabbatism, (ver.9,) or keeping of a Sabbath, as the word signifies. What others would infer from this place to make the Sabbath to be merely ceremonial, and what Mr. Brabourn would answer from hence, that it is not at all ceremonial, may both of them be easily answered here again, as already they have been in some of the former theses. Some scruples I see not yet through, about this text, enforce me herein to be silent, and therefore to leave it to such as think they may defend it, as one ground of some affixed type unto the Jewish Sabbath.
Thesis 22. Learned Junius goes before us herein, and points out the type affixed to that Sabbath. For besides the first institution of it in paradise, he makes two other causes, which he calls accessory, or affixed and added to it. 1. One was civilis, or civil, that men and beasts might rest from their toilsome labour every week. 2. Ceremonialis, or ceremonial, for their solemn commemoration of their deliverance out of Egypt, which we know typified our deliverance by Christ. (Deut.v.15.) Some think, indeed, that their deliverance out of Egypt was upon the Sabbath day; but this I do not urge, because, though it be very probable, yet it is not certain; only this is certain, that they were to sanctify this day because of this their deliverance; and it is certain this deliverance was typical of our deliverance by Christ: and hence it is certain that there was a type affixed to this Sabbath; and because the Scripture is so plain and express in it, I am inclined to think the same which Junius does, that this is the type rather than any other I have yet heard of; against which I know many things may be objected; only it may be sufficient to clear up the place against that which Mr. Brabourn answers to it.
Thesis 23. “The deliverance out of Egypt,” says he, “is not set down as the ground of the institution of the Sabbath, but only as a motive to the observation thereof; as it was more general in the preface to the decalogue, to the obedience of every other command, which, notwithstanding, are not ceremonial; for God says, I am the Lord, who brought thee out of Egypt; therefore keep thou the first, the second, the third, the fifth, the sixth, as well as the fourth commandment; and therefore, says he, we may make every commandment ceremonial as well as the Sabbath, if the motive of deliverance out of Egypt makes the Sabbath to be so.” This is the substance and sinews of his discourse herein; and I confess it is true, their deliverance out of Egypt was not the first ground of the institution of it, but God’s rest after his six days’ labour; yet it was such a ground as we contend for, viz., a secondary, and an annexed or affixed ground. And that it was not a motive only to observe that day, (as it is in the preface to the decalogue,) but a superadded ground of it, may appear from this one consideration, viz., because that very ground on which the Lord urges the observation of the Sabbath in Ex.xx.11 is wholly left out in the repetition of the law, (Deut.v.15,) and their deliverance out of Egypt put into the room thereof; for the ground in Ex.xx.11 is this: “Six days God made heaven and earth, and rested the seventh day and sanctified it;” but instead of these words, and of this ground, we find other words put into their room, (Deut.v.15:) “Remember thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord brought thee out thence with a mighty hand; therefore the Lord thy God commandeth thee to keep the Sabbath.” Which seems to argue strongly that these words are not a mere motive, but another ground of the observation of the Sabbath. And why might not the general motive in the preface to the decalogue serve as a sufficient motive to the obedience of this commandment, if there was no more but a motive in these words of Deuteronomy; and therefore I suppose this was also the ground and affixed type unto the Jewish Sabbath.
Thesis 24. But still the difficulty remains; for Mr. Brabourn will say that those were but human reasons: but what ground is there from Scripture for the institution of another Sabbath, as well as the abrogation of the old? which if it be not cleared, I confess this cause sinks: here, therefore, let it be again observed that we are not to expect such evidence from Scripture concerning this change, (as fond and humorous wit sometimes pleads for,) in this controversy, namely, that Christ should come with drum and trumpet, as it were, upon Mount Zion, and proclaim by word or writing, in so many express words, that the Jewish Sabbath is abrogated, and the first day of the week instituted in its room, to be observed of all Christians to the end of the world. For it is not the Lord’s manner so to speak in many other things which concern his kingdom, but as it were occasionally, or in way of history, or epistle to some particular church or people; and thus he does concerning the Sabbath; and yet Wisdom’s mind is plain enough to them that understand. Nor do I doubt but that those scriptures which are sometimes alleged for the change of the Sabbath, although at the first blush they may not seem to bear up the weight of this cause, yet being thoroughly considered, they are not only sufficient to establish modest minds, but are also such as may epistomizein (epistomidzein), or stop the mouths even of wranglers themselves.
Thesis 25. I do not think that the exercise of holy duties on a day argues that such a day is the Christian Sabbath; for the apostles preached commonly upon the Jewish Sabbath, sometimes upon the first day of the week also; and therefore the bare exercise of holy duties on a day is no sufficient argument that either the one or the other is the Christian Sabbath; for then there might be two Sabbaths, yea, many Sabbaths, in a week, because there may be many holy duties in several days of the week, which we know is against the morality of the fourth commandment.
Thesis 26. Yet, notwithstanding, although holy duties on a day do not argue such a day to be our Sabbath, yet that day which is set apart for Sabbath services rather than any other day, and is honoured above any other day for that end, surely such a day is the Christian Sabbath. Now, if it may appear that the first day of the week was thus honoured, then certainly it is to be accounted the Christian Sabbath.
Thesis 27. The primitive pattern churches thus honoured the first day of the week; and what they practised without reproof, that the apostles (who planted those churches) enjoined and preached unto them so to do; at least in such weighty matters as the change of the days, of preferring one before that other which the Lord has honoured before; and what the apostles preached, that the Lord Jesus commanded, (Matt.xxviii.20,) “Go teach all nations that which I command you.” Unless any shall think that the apostles sometimes went beyond their commission to teach that to others which Christ never commanded, which is blasphemous to imagine; for though they might err in practice as men, and as Peter did at Antioch, and Paul and Barnabas in their contention, yet in their public ministry they were infallibly and extraordinarily assisted, especially in such things which they hold forth as patterns for after times; if, therefore, the primitive churches thus honoured the first day of the week above any other day for Sabbath services, then certainly they were instituted and taught thus to do by the apostles approving of them herein; and what the apostles taught the churches, that the Lord Jesus commanded to the apostles. So that the approved practice of the churches herein shows what was the doctrine of the apostles; and the doctrine of the apostles shows what was the command of Christ; so that the sanctification of this first day of the week is no human tradition, but a divine institution from Christ himself.
Thesis 28. That the churches honoured this day above any other shall appear in its place, as also that the apostles commanded them so to do. Yet, Mr. Primrose says, that this latter is doubtful; and Mr. Ironside (not questioning the matter) falls off with another evasion, viz., that they acted herein not as apostles, but as ordinary pastors, and consequently as fallible men, not only in commanding this change of the Sabbath, but in all other matters of church government, (among which he reckons this of the Sabbath to be one,) which he thinks were imposed according to their private wisdom, as most fit for those times, but not by any apostolic commission as concerning all times. But to imagine that matters of church government in the apostles’ days were coats for the moon in respect of after times, and that the form of it is mutable, (as he would have it,) I suppose will be digested by few honest and sober minds in these times, unless they be biased for a season by politic ends, and therefore herein I will not contend; only it may be considered whether any private spirit could abolish that day, which from the beginning of the world God so highly honoured, and then honour and advance another day above it, and sanctify it too (as shall be proved) for religious services. Could any do this justly but by immediate dispensation from the Lord Christ Jesus? And if the apostles did thus receive it immediately from Christ, and so teach the observation of it, they could not then teach it as fallible men and as private pastors, as he would have it; a pernicious conceit, enough to undermine the faith of God’s elect in many matters more weighty than this of the Sabbath.
Thesis 29. To know when and where the Lord Christ instructed his disciples concerning this change, is needless to inquire. It is sufficient to believe this: that what the primitive churches exemplary practised, that was taught them by the apostles who planted them; and that whatsoever the apostles preached, the Lord Christ commanded, as has been shown. Yet if the change of the Sabbath be a matter appertaining to the kingdom of God, why should we doubt but that, within the space of his forty days’ abode with them after his resurrection, he then taught it them? for it is expressly said, that he then taught them such things. (Acts xiii.)
Thesis 30. When the apostles came among the Jews, they preached usually upon the Jewish Sabbath; but this was not because they did think or appoint it herein to be the Christian Sabbath, but that they might take the fittest opportunity and season of meeting with, and so of preaching the gospel to, the Jews in those times. For what power had they to call them together when they saw meet? Or, if they had, yet was it meet for them thus to do, before they were sufficiently instructed about God’s mind for setting apart some other time? And how could they be sufficiently and seasonably instructed herein without watching the advantage of those times which the Jews thought were the only Sabbaths? The days of Pentecost, Passover, and hours of prayer in the temple are to be observed still as well as the Jewish Sabbath, if the apostles’ preaching on their Sabbaths argues the continuance of them, as Mr. Brabourn argues; for we know that they preached also, and went up purposely to Jerusalem, at such times, to preach among them, as well as upon the Sabbath days; look therefore, as they laid hold upon the days of Pentecost and Passover as the fittest seasons to preach to the Jews, but not thinking that such feasts should still be continued, so it is in their preaching upon the Jewish Sabbaths.
Thesis 31. Nor did the apostles sinfully Judaize by preaching to the Jews upon their Sabbaths, (as Mr. Brabourn would infer;) supposing that their Sabbaths should not be still observed, they should then Judaize and after ceremonies, (says he,) and so build up those things which they laboured to destroy. For suppose they did observe such days and Sabbaths as were ceremonial for a time, yet it being done not in conscience of the day, but in conscience of taking so fit a season to preach the gospel in, it could not nor can not be any sinful Judaizing, especially while then the Jews were not sufficiently instructed about the abolishing of those things. For Mr. Brabourn could not but know that all the Jewish ceremonies, being once the appointment of God, were to have an honourable burial, and that therefore they might be lawfully observed for a time among the Jews, until they were more fully instructed about them; and hence Paul circumcised Timothy because of the Jews, (Acts xvi.3,) and did otherwise conform to them, that so he might win and gain the more upon them; and if Paul observed purposely a Jewish ceremony of circumcision which was not necessary, nay, which was not lawful to be observed among the Gentiles, (Gal.v.2,) and yet he observed it to gain the Jews, why might not Paul much more preach the gospel, which is in itself a necessary duty, upon a Jewish Sabbath which fell out occasionally to him, and therefore might lawfully be observed for such an end among the Jews, which among the Gentiles might be unlawful? Suppose therefore that the apostles might have taught the Jews from house to house, (as Mr. Brabourn argues against the necessity put upon the apostles to preach upon the Jewish Sabbath,) yet what reason or conscience was there to lose the opportunity of public preaching for the more plentiful gathering in of souls, when many are met together, and which may lawfully be done, and be contended only to seek their good in such private ways? And what although Paul did assemble the chief of the Jews together at Rome, when he was a prisoner, to acquaint them with civil matters about his imprisonment, (Acts xxviii.17;) yet had he power to do thus in all places where he came? or was it meet for him so to do? Did not he submit the appointment of a sacred assembly to hear the word rather unto them than assume it to himself? (Acts xxviii.23.) It is therefore false and unsound which Mr. Brabourn affirms, viz., that Paul did preach on the Jewish Sabbath in conscience of the day, not merely with respect of the opportunity he then took from their own public meetings then to preach to them; for (says he) Paul had power to assemble them together on other days. This I say, is both false; for he that was so much spoken against among them might not in all places be able to put forth such a power; as also it is unsound; for suppose he had such a power, yet whether it was so meet for him to put it forth in appointing other times, may be easily judged of by what has been said.
Thesis 32. Nor is there a foundation here laid of making all other actions of the apostles unwarrantable or inimitable, (as Mr. Brabourn says,) because we are not to imitate the apostles herein in preaching upon the Jewish Sabbaths. For no actions either of Christ or the apostles, which were done merely in respect of some special occasion, or special reason, are, ea tenus, or in that respect, binding to others; for the example of Christ eating the Lord’s supper only with men, not women, in an upper chamber, and toward the dark evening, does not bind us to exclude women, or not to celebrate in other places and times, because we know that these actions were merely occasioned in respect of special reasons, (as the eating of the Passover with one’s own family, Christ’s family not consisting of women,) so it is here in respect of the Sabbath. The apostles preaching upon the Jewish Sabbath was merely occasional, by occasion of the public meetings (their fittest time to do good in) which were upon this and any other day.
Thesis 33. Now, although the Jews observing this day, the apostles observed it among the Jews by preaching among them, yet we shall find that among the Christian Gentile churches and believers, (where no Judaism was to be so much as tolerated for a time,) not any such day was thus observed; nay, another day, the first day in the week, is honoured and preferred by the apostles above any other day in the week for religious and Sabbath services. For, although holy duties do not argue always a holy day, yet when we shall find the Holy Ghost single out and nominate one particular day to be observed and honoured rather than any other day, and rather than the Jewish seventh day itself, for Sabbath services and holy duties, this undeniably proves that day to be the Christian Sabbath, and this we shall make evident to be the first day of the week; which one thing seriously minded (if proved) does utterly subvert the whole frame and force of Mr. Brabourn’s shady discourse for the observation of the Jewish Sabbath, and most effectually establishes the Christian Sabbath. Mr. Brabourn therefore herein bestirs his wits, and tells us, on the contrary, that Paul preached not only to the Jews, but even unto the Gentiles, upon this Jewish Sabbath, rather than any other day; and for this end brings double proof: one is Acts xiii.42,44, where the Gentiles are said to desire Paul to preach to them, eiV to metaxu sabbaton (eis to metaxu sabbaton), i.e., the week between, or any day between till the next Sabbath, (as some translate it,) or (if Mr. Brabourn will) the next Sabbath, or Jewish Sabbath, when almost all the city came out to hear Paul, who were most of them Gentiles, not Jews. Be it so, they were Gentiles indeed; but as yet no church or Christian church of Gentiles actually under Christ’s government and ordinances, among whom (I say) the first day of the week was so much honoured above any other day for sacred assemblies. For it is no wonder if the apostles yield to their desires in preaching any time of the week which they thought the best time, even upon the Jewish Sabbath, among whom the Jews being mingled, they might have the fitter opportunity to preach to them also, and so become all things to all men to gain some. His second proof is Acts xvi.12,13; and here he tells us that Paul and Timothy preached, not to the Jews, but to the Gentiles, upon the Sabbath day. I confess they are not called Jews no more than it is said that they were Gentiles; but why might not Lydia and her company be Jews or Jewish proselytes, who, we know, did observe the Jewish Sabbath strictly till they were better instructed, as they did all other Jewish ceremonies also? For Lydia is expressly said to be one who worshiped God before Paul came. Mr. Brabourn tells us they were no Jewish proselytes, because they had no Jewish synagogue, and therefore they were fain to go out of the city into the fields, beside a river to pray. I confess the text says that they went out to a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; but that this was the open fields, and that there was no oratory, house, or place of shelter to meet and pray in, this is not in the text, but is Mr. Brabourn’s comment and gloss on it. But suppose it was in the open fields, and that they had no synagogue; yet will it follow that these were not Jews? Might not the Jews be in a Gentile city for a time, without any synagogue, especially if their number be but small, and this small number consist chiefly of women, as it seems this did, whose hearts God touched, leaving their husbands to their own ways? If they were not Jews or Jewish proselytes, why did they choose the Sabbath day, (which the Jews so much set by,) rather than any other, to pray and worship God together in? But verily such answers as these, wherewith the poor man abounds in his treatise, make me extremely fear that he rather stretched his conscience than was acted by a plain deluded conscience in this point of the Sabbath.
Thesis 34. It remains, therefore, to prove that the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath by divine institution; and this may appear from those three texts of Scripture ordinarily alleged for this end: 1. Acts xx.7; 2. 1 Cor.xvi.2; 3. Rev.i.10; which, being taken jointly together, hold these three things:–
1. That the first day of the week was honoured above any other day for Sabbath services in the primitive church’s practice, as is evident, Acts xx.7.
2. That the apostles commanded the observation of this day rather than any other for Sabbath services, as is evident, 1 Cor.xvi.1,2.
3. That this day is holy and sanctified to be holy to the Lord above any other day, and therefore it has the Lord’s name upon it, (a usual sign of things holy to him,) and therefore called the Lord’s day, as is evident, Rev.i.10; but these things need more particular explication.
Thesis 35. In the first of these places, (Acts xx.7,) these particulars are manifest:–
1. That the church of Troas (called disciples) publicly and generally now met together, so that it was no private church meeting, (as some say,) but general and open, according as those times would give leave.
2. That this meeting was upon the first day of the week, called en th mia twn sabbatwn (en tei mia ton sabbaton) which phrase, although Gomarus, Primrose, Heylin, and many others go about to translate thus, viz., upon one of the days of the week. Yet this is sufficient to dash that dream, (besides what else might be said,) viz., that this phrase is expounded in other Scriptures to be the first day of the week, (Luke xxiv.1; John xx.1,) but never to be found throughout all the Scriptures expounded of one day in the week. Gomarus indeed tells us of en mia hmerwn (en miai hemeron), (Luke v.17, and viii.22, and xx.1,) which is translated quodam die, or a certain day; but this will not help him, for this is not en th mia twn sabbatwn (en te mia ton sabbaton), as it is in this place.
3. That the end of this meeting was holy duties, viz., to break bread, or to receive the Lord’s supper, as the phrase is expounded, (Acts ii.43,) which was therefore accompanied with preaching the word and prayer, holy preparation and serious meditation about those great mysteries. Nor can this breaking of bread be interpreted of their love feasts, or common suppers, as Gomarus suspects. For their love feasts and common suppers were not of the whole church together, (as this was,) but in several houses, as Mr. Cartwright proves from Acts ii.46. And although the Corinthians used their love feasts in public, yet they are sadly reproved for it by the apostle, (1 Cor.xi.12,) and therefore he would not allow it here.
4. It is not said that Paul called them together because he was to depart the next day, or that they purposely declined the Lord’s supper till that day because then Paul was to depart, (as Mr. Primrose urges;) but the text speaks of it as of a time and day usually observed of them before, and therefore it is said, that “when they came together to break bread;” and Paul therefore took his opportunity of preaching to them, and seems to stay purposely, and wait seven days among them, that he might communicate with them, and preach unto them in this ordinary time of public meeting; and therefore, though he might privately instruct and preach to them the other seven days, yet his preaching now is mentioned in regard of some special solemnity of meeting on this day.
5. The first day was honoured above any other day for these holy duties, or else why did they not meet upon the last day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath, for these ends? For if the Christian churches were bound to observe the Jewish Sabbath, why did they not meet then, and honour the seventh day above the first day? considering that it was but the day before, and therefore might easily have done it, more fitly, too, had that seventh day been the Christian Sabbath.
6. Why is the first day of the week mentioned, which is attributed only in the New Testament to the day of Christ’s resurrection, unless this day was then usually honoured and sanctified for holy duties, called here breaking of bread, by a synecdoche of a part for the whole, and therefore comprehends all other Sabbath duties? For there is no more reason to exclude prayer, preaching, singing of psalms, etc., because these are not mentioned, than to exclude drinking of wine in the sacrament, (as the blind Papists do,) because this neither is here made mention of. Mr. Primrose indeed tells us that it may be the first day of the week is named in respect of the miracle done in it upon Eutychus. But the text is plain; the time of the meeting is mentioned, and the end of it to break bread, and the miracle is but brought in as a particular event which happened on this day, which was set apart first for higher ends.
7. Nor is it said in the text that the church of Troas met every day together to receive the sacrament, (as Mr. Primrose suggests,) and that therefore this action of breaking bread was done without respect to any particular or special day, it being performed every day. For I do not find that the primitive church received the Lord’s supper every day; for though it be said (Acts ii.42) that the church continued in the apostles’ fellowship and breaking of bread; yet it is not said that they brake bread every day. They are indeed said to be daily in the temple, (ver.46,) but not that they brake bread every day in the temple, or from house to house, or if they should, yet the breaking of bread in this verse is meant of common, not sacred bread, as it is verse 42, where I think the bread was no more common than their continuance in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship was common; and therefore in this 46th verse the phrase is altered, and the original word properly signifies ordinary bread for common nourishment. And yet suppose they did receive the sacrament every day, yet here the breaking of bread is made mention of as the opus diei, or the special business of the day; and the day is mentioned as the special time for such a purpose; and hence no other day (if they break bread in it) is mentioned, and therefore it is called in effect “the day of meeting to break bread.” Nor do I find in all the Scripture a day distinctly mentioned for holy duties, (as this first day of the week is,) wherein a whole people or church meet together for such ends; but that day was holy: the naming of the particular day for such ends implies the holiness of it, and the time is purposely mentioned, that others in aftertimes might purposely and specially observe that day.
8. Nor is it said that the disciples met together the night after the first day; but it is expressly said to be upon the first day of the week: and suppose (as Mr. Brabourn says) that their meeting was not together in the morning, but only in the evening time to celebrate the Lord’s supper, a little before the shutting in of the day; yet it is a sufficient ground for conscience to observe this day above any other for holy services, although every part of the day be not filled up with public and church duties; for suppose the Levites on the Jewish Sabbath should do no holy public duty on their own Sabbath until the day was far spent; will Mr. Brabourn argue from thence that the Jewish Sabbath was not wholly holy unto God? But again: suppose the latter part of the day was spent in breaking of bread; yet will it follow that no other part of the day was spent before, either in any private or public holy duties? Possibly they might receive the Lord’s supper in the evening of this Sabbath, (for the time of this action is in the general indifferent;) yet might they not spend the rest of the morning in public duties, as we know some do now in some churches, who are said to meet together to break bread the latter part of this day, and yet sanctify the Sabbath the whole day before? Suppose it be not expressly said that they did shut up shop windows at Troas, and forsake the plow and the wheel, and abstain from all servile work; yet if he believes that no more was done this day but what is expressly set down, Mr. Brabourn must needs see a pitiful face of Christ in the Lord’s supper, and people coming rushing upon it without any serious examination or preparation, or singing of psalms, because no such duties as these are mentioned to be upon this day.
9. Lastly, Master Primrose, like a staggering man, knows not what to fasten on in answer to this place, and therefore tells us, that suppose it was a Sabbath, yet that it might be taken up from the church’s liberty and custom, rather than from any divine institution; but besides that which has been said to dash his dream, (Thesis. 27,) the falseness of this common and bold assertion will appear more fully in the explication of the second text, (1 Cor.xvi.1,2,) which now follows, wherein it will appear to be an apostolic (and therefore a divine) institution from Jesus Christ.
Thesis 36. In the second of the places therefore alleged, (1 Cor.xvi.1,2,) these things are considerable to prove the first day in the week to be the Christian Sabbath, and that not so much by the church’s practice, as by the apostle’s precept; for, —
1. Although it be true, that in some cases collections may be made any day for the poor saints, yet why does the apostle here limit them to this day for the performance of this duty? They that translate kata mian sabbatwn (kata mian sabbaton), upon one day of the week, do miserably mistake the phrase, which in Scripture phrase only signifies the first day of it, and beat their foreheads against the main scope of the apostle, viz., to fix a certain day for such a duty as required such a certain time; for they might (by this translation) collect their benevolences one day in four or ten years, for then it should be done one day in a week.
2. The apostle does not only limit them to this time, but also all the churches of Galatia, (ver. 1,) and consequently all other churches, if that be true, (2 Cor.viii.13,14,) wherein the apostle professes he presses not one church, that he may ease another church, but that there be an equality; and although I see no ground, from this text, that the maintenance of the ministry should be raised every Sabbath day, (for Christ would not have them reckoned among the poor, being labourers worthy of their hire,) and although this collection was for the poor saints of other churches, yet the proportion strongly holds, that if there be ordinary cause of such collections in every particular church, these collections should be made the first day of the week, much more carefully and religiously for the poor of one’s own church; and that in all the churches of Christ Jesus to the end of the world.
3. The apostle does not limit them thus with wishes, and counsels only to do it if they thought most meet, but wsper dietaxa (hosper dietaxa), (ver.1,) as I have ordained, or instituted; and therefore binds their consciences to it; and if Paul ordained it, certainly he had it from Christ Jesus, who first commanded him so to appoint it; who professes that what he had received of the Lord, that only he commanded unto them to do. (1 Cor.xi.13)
4. If this day had not been more holy and more fit for this work of love than any other day, he durst not have limited them to this day, nor durst he have honoured this day above any other in the week, yea, above the Jewish seventh day. For we see the very apostle tender always of Christian liberty, and not to bind where the Lord leaves his people free; for thus doing he should rather make snares than laws for churches, (1 Cor.vii.27,35,) and go expressly against his own doctrine, (Gal.v.1,) who bids them “stand fast in their liberty,” and that in this very point of the observation of days. (Gal.iv.10.) But what fitness was there on this day for such a service? Consider therefore, —
5. That the apostle does not in this place immediately appoint and institute the Sabbath, but supposes it to be so already, (as Mr. Primrose is forced to acknowledge,) and we know duties of mercy and charity, as well as of necessity and piety, are Sabbath duties; for which end this day (which Beza finds in an ancient manuscript to be called the Lord’s day) was more fit for those collections than any other day; partly because they usually met together publicly on this day, and so their collections might be in a greater readiness against Paul’s coming; partly, also, that they might give more liberally, at least freely, it being supposed that upon this day men’s hearts are more weaned from the world, and are warmed, by the word and ordinances, with more lively faith and hope of better things to come, and therefore, having received spiritual things from the Lord more plentifully on this day, every man will be more free to impart of his temporal good things therein for refreshing of the poor saints, and the very bowels of Christ Jesus. And what other reason can be given of limiting this collection to this day I confess I can not honestly (though I could wickedly) imagine. And certainly if this was the end, and withal the Jewish day was the Christian Sabbath, the apostle would never have thus limited them to this day, nor honoured and exalted this first day before that Jewish seventh; which if it had been the Christian Sabbath, had been more fit for such a work as this than the first day (if a working day) could be.
6. Suppose therefore that this apostolic and divine institution is to give their collections, but not to institute the day, (as Master Primrose pleads;) suppose also that they were not every Lord’s day or first day, but sometimes upon the first day; suppose also that they were extraordinary, and for the poor of other churches, and to continue for that time only of their need; suppose also that no man is enjoined to bring into the public treasury of the church, but (par eantw tiqetw (par heanto titheto)) privately to lay it by on this day by himself, (as Mr. Brabourn urges against this text,) yet still the question remains unanswered, viz.: Why should the apostle limit them to this day? Either for extraordinary or private collections, and such special acts of mercy, unless the Lord had honoured this day for acts of mercy (and much more of piety) above any other ordinary and common day? What then could this day be but the Christian Sabbath imposed by the apostles, and magnified and honoured by all the churches in those days? I know there are some other replies made to this Scripture by Mr. Brabourn; but they are wind eggs (as Plutarch calls that philosopher’s notions,) and have but little in them; and therefore I pass them by as I do many other things in that book as not worth the time to name them.
7. This, lastly, I add, this first day was thus honoured either by divine or human institution; if by divine, we have what we plead for; if by human custom and tradition, then the apostle assuredly would never have commended the observation of this day, who elsewhere condemns the observation of days, though the days were formerly by divine institution. “Ye observe,” says he, “days and times;” and would he then have commended the observation of these days above any other which are only by human, but never by divine institution? It is strange that the churches of Galatia are forbidden the observation of days, (Gal.iv.10,) and yet commanded (1 Cor.xvi.1,2) a more sacred and solemn observation of the first day of the week rather than any other. Surely, this could not be, unless we conclude a divine institution hereof. For we know how zealous the holy apostle is every where to strike at human customs, and therefore could not lay a stumbling block (to occasion the grievous fall of churches) to allow and command them to observe a human tradition, and to honour this above the seventh day for such holy services as are here made mention of. But whether this day was solemnly sanctified as the Sabbath of the Lord our God, we come now to inquire.
Thesis 37. In the third text, (Rev.i.10,) mention is made of the Lord’s day, which was ever accounted the first day of the week. It seems, therefore, to be the Lord’s day, and consequently the Sabbath of the Lord our God. Two things are needful here to be considered and cleared: —
1. That this day being called the Lord’s day, it is therefore set apart and sanctified by the Lord Christ as holy.
2. That this day thus sanctified is the first day of the week, and therefore that first day is our holy or Sabbath day.
Thesis 38. The first difficulty here to prove and clear up is, that this day, which is here called the Lord’s day, is a day instituted and sanctified for the Lord’s honour and service above any other day. For, as the sacrament of bread and wine is called the Lord’s supper, and the Lord’s table, for no other reason but because they were instituted by Christ, and sanctified for him and his honour, so what other reason can be given by any Scripture light why this is called the Lord’s day, but because it was in the like manner instituted and sanctified as they were? Mr. Brabourn here shifts away from the light of this text, by affirming that it might be called the Lord’s day in respect of God the Creator, not Christ the Redeemer, and therefore may be meant of the Jewish Sabbath, which is called the Lord’s holy day. (Is.lviii.3.) But why might he not as well say, that it is called the Lord’s supper and table, in respect of God the Creator, considering that in the New Testament, since Christ is actually exalted to be Lord of all, this phrase is only applied to the Lord Christ as Redeemer? Look, therefore, as the Jewish Sabbath, being called the Lord’s Sabbath, or the Sabbath of Jehovah, is by that title and note certainly known to be a day sanctified by Jehovah, as Creator, so this day, being called the Lord’s day, is by this note as certainly known to be a day sanctified by our Lord Jesus, as Redeemer. Nor do I find any one distinct thing in all the Scripture which has the Lord’s superscription or name upon it, (as the Lord’s temple, the Lord’s offerings, the Lord’s people, the Lord’s priests, etc.,) but it is sanctified of God and holy to him. Why is not this day, then, holy to the Lord, if it equally bears the Lord’s name? Master Primrose, indeed, puts us off with another shift, viz., that this day being called so by the church’s customs, John, therefore, calls it so in respect of that custom which the church then used, without divine institution. But why may not he as well say that he calls it the Lord’s table in respect of the church’s custom also? The designation of a day, and of the first time in the day for holy public services, is, indeed, in the power of each particular church, (suppose it be a lecture, and the hours of Sabbath meetings;) but the sanctification of a day, if it be divine worship, to observe it if God command and appoint it, then surely it is will worship for any human custom to institute it. Now, the Lord’s name being stamped upon this day, and so set apart for the honour of Christ, it can not be that so it should be called in respect of the church’s custom; for surely then they should have been condemned for will worship by some of the apostles; and therefore it is in respect of the Lord’s institution hereof.
Thesis 39. The second difficulty now lies in clearing up this particular, viz., that this day, thus sanctified, was the first day of the week, which is therefore the holy day of the Lord our God, and consequently the Christian Sabbath: for this purpose let these ensuing particulars be laid together.
1. That this day of which John speaks is a known day, and was generally known in those days by this glorious name of the Lord’s day, and therefore the apostle gives no other title to it but the Lord’s day, as a known day in those times; for the scope of John in this vision is, as in all other prophetical visions when they set down the day and time of it, to gain the more credit to the certainty of it, when every one sees the truth circumstantiated, and they hear of the particular time; and it may seem most absurd to set down the day and time for such an end, and yet the day is not particularly known.
2. If it was a known day, what day can it be either by evidence of Scripture, or any antiquity, but the first day of the week? For, —
1. There is no other day on which mention is made of any other work or action of Christ which might occasion a holy day, but only this of the resurrection, which is exactly noted of all the evangelists to be upon the first day of the week, and by which work he is expressly said to have all power given him in heaven and earth, (Matt.xxviii.18,) and to be actually Lord of dead and living, (Rom.xiv.9;) and therefore why should any other Lord’s day be dreamed of? Why should Master Brabourn imagine that this day might be some superstitious Easter day, which happens once a year? the Holy Ghost, on the contrary, not setting down the month or day of the year, but of the week wherein Christ arose, and therefore it must be meant of a weekly holy day here called the Lord’s day.
2. We do not read of any other day besides this first day of the week, which was observed for holy Sabbath duties, and honoured above any other day for breaking of bread, for preaching the word, (which were acts of piety,) nor for collections for the poor, (the most eminent act of mercy:) why, then, should any imagine any other day to be the Lord’s day, but that first day?
3. There seems to be much in that which Beza observes out of an ancient Greek manuscript wherein that first day of the week (1 Cor. xvi. 2) is expressly called the Lord’s day; and the Syriac translation says that their meeting together to receive the sacrament (1 Cor.xi.20) was upon the Lord’s day; nor is there any antiquity but expounds this Lord’s day of the first day of the week, as learned Rivet makes good against Gomarus, professing that Quotquot interpretes hactenus ferunt, hoec verba de die resurrectionis Domini intellexerunt; solus quod quidem sciam, Cl. D. Gomarus contradixit.”
4. Look, as Jehovah’s or the Lord’s holy day (Is.lviii.13) was the seventh day in the week then in use in the Old Testament, so why should not this Lord’s day be meant of some seventh day, (the first of seven in the week which the Lord appointed, and the church observed under the New Testament,) and therefore called (as that was) the Lord’s day?
5. There can be no other day imagined but this to be the Lord’s day. Indeed, Gomarus affirms that it is called the Lord’s day, because of the Lord Jesus’ apparition in vision to John; and therefore he tells that, in Scripture phrase, the day of the Lord is such a day wherein the Lord manifests himself either in wrath or in favor, as here to John. But there is a great difference between those phrases; the Lord’s day and the day of the Lord, which is not called here. For such an interpretation of the Lord’s day, as if it was an uncertain time, is directly cross to the scope of John in setting down this vision, who, to beget more credit to it, tells us, first, of the person that saw it, — I, John, — (Rev.i.9;) secondly, the particular place, in Patmos; thirdly, the particular time, the Lord’s day.
These considerations do utterly subvert Mr. Brabourn’s discourse, to prove the Jewish Sabbath to be the Lord’s day, which we are still to observe, and may be sufficient to answer the scruples of modest and humble minds; for, if we ask the time of it, it is on the first day of the week. Would we know whether this time was spent in holy duties and Sabbath services? This also has been proved. Would we know whether it was sanctified for that end? Yes, verily, because it is called the Lord’s day, and consequently all servile work was and is to be laid aside in it. Would we know whether it is the Christian Sabbath day? Verily, if it be the day of the Lord our God, (the Lord’s day,) why is it not the Sabbath of the Lord our God? If it be exalted and honoured by the apostles of Christ above the Jewish Sabbath duties, why should we not believe but that it was our Sabbath day? And although the words Sabbath day, or seventh day, be not expressly mentioned, yet if they be for substance in this day, and by just consequence deduced from Scripture, it is all one as if the Lord had expressly called them so.
Thesis 40. Hence therefore it follows, that although this particular seventh day, which is the first of seven, be not particularly made mention of in the fourth commandment, yet the last of seven being abrogated, and this being instituted in its room, it is therefore to be perpetuated and observed in its room. For though it be true (as Mr. Brabourn urges) that new institutions can not be founded, no, not by analogy of proportion, merely upon old institutions, as, because children were circumcised, it will not follow that they are therefore to be baptised, and so because the Jews kept that seventh day, that we may therefore keep the first day; yet this is certain, that when new things are instituted not by human analogy, but by divine appointment, the application of these may stand by virtue of old precepts and general rules, from whence the application even of old institutions formerly arose. For we know that the cultus institutus in the New Testament, in ministry and sacraments, stands at this day by virtue of the second commandment, as well as the instituted worship under the Old. And though baptism stands not by virtue of the institution of circumcision, yet it being, de novo, instituted by Christ, as the seal of initiation into Christ’s mystical body, (1 Cor.xii.12,) it now stands by virtue of that general rule by which circumcision itself was administered, viz., that the seal of initiation into Christ’s body be applied to all the visible members of that body; and hence children are to be now baptized, as once they were circumcised, being members of Christ’s body. So the first day of the week being instituted to be the Lord’s day, or Lord’s Sabbath, hence it follows, that, if the first seventh, which is now abrogated, was once observed because it was the Lord’s Sabbath, or the Sabbath day which God appointed, — by the very same rule, and on the very same ground, we also are bound to keep this first day, being also the Sabbath of the Lord our God, which he has now appointed anew under the New Testament.
Thesis 41. It is true that some of the primitive churches, in the eastern parts, did for some hundred of years observe both Sabbaths, both Jewish and Christian. But they did this without warrant from God, (who allows but one Sabbath in a week,) and also against the rule of the apostles; for I think that Paul, foreseeing this observation of days and Jewish Sabbaths to be stirring and ready to creep into the church, that he did therefore condemn the same in his Epistles to the Galatians and Colossians; and that therefore Christian emperors and councils, in after times, did well and wisely both to condemn the observation of the one and withal honour the other.
Thesis 42. Although the work of redemption be applied unto few in respect of the special benefits of it, yet Christ, by his death, is made Heir and Lord of all things, being now set down at the right hand of God, and there is some benefit which befalls all the world by Christ’s redemption; and the government of all things is not now in the hand of God as Creator, but in the hand of a Mediator, (Heb.i.1,2; ii.8,9; John v.22; Col.i.16,17; 1 Tim.iv.10; John iii.35;) and hence it is no wonder if all men, as well as a few elected, selected, and called, be commanded to sanctify the Lord’s day, as once they were the Jewish seventh day; the work of Christ being in some respect of as great extent, through all the work of creation, as the work of the Father. And therefore it is a great feebleness in Mr. Brabourn to go about to vilify the work of redemption, and extol that of creation above it; and that therefore the Sabbath ought still to be kept in reference to the work of creation, which concerns all men, rather than in respect of redemption, which he imagines concerns only some few.
Thesis 43. The Lord Christ rested from the work of redemption by price, upon the day of his resurrection; but he is not yet at rest from the work of redemption by power, until the day of our resurrection and glory be perfected. But it does not hence follow (as Mr. Primrose imagines) that there is no Lord’s day instituted in respect of Christ’s resurrection, because he has not, nor did not then rest from redemption by power; for look, as the Father, having rested from the works of creation, might therefore appoint a day of rest, although he did not, nor does not yet rest from providence, (John v.17,) so the Lord Christ having finished the great work of redemption, he might justly appoint a day of rest, although his redeeming work by power was yet behind.
Thesis 44. The heavy and visible judgments of God revealed from heaven against profaneness of this our Lord’s day Sabbath will one day be a convincing argument of holiness of this day, when the Lord himself shall have the immediate handling and pressing of it. Meanwhile I confess my weakness to convince an adversary by it; nor will I contend with any other arguments from antiquity for the observation of this day; but these may suffice, which are alleged from the holy word.