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The Lord's Day

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) - The Most Precise Theologian of the Reformation Era

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“Every decree of God is eternal; therefore it cannot depend upon a condition which takes place only in time. (2) God’s decrees depend on his good pleasure (eudokia) (Mt. 11:26; Eph. 1:5; Rom. 9:11). Therefore they are not suspended upon any condition outside of God. (3) Every decree of God is immutable (Is. 46:10; Rom. 9:11).”

The Scholastic Reformer explains if Christians should still be keeping the sabbath and the Lord’s Day.

Fourteenth Question: The Lord’s Day

Whether the institution of the Lord’s day is divine or human; whether it is of necessary and perpetual or of free and mutable observance. The former we affirm and the latter we deny (as to both parts).

I. The Lord’s day (kyriake hanera) in Christian usage is applied to the first day of the week, appointed for the public worship of God in memory of Christ’s resurrection. Now it is so called not so much with regard to the efficient (as if it was formally instituted by Christ himself, as the Lord’s Prayer and the Lord’s Supper are designated by the apostle, 1 Cor. 10:21). As will be seen afterwards, no argument can be given for such institution. With regard to the end, it was instituted in memory of the resurrection of Christ, which took place on this day (Mt. 28:1); and for his honor and worship (as that is called “the Lord’s altar,” “the Lord’s festival” which was instituted for his worship), and the ancients call temples dedicated to divine worship Kyras (or “the Lord’s”).

II. Concerning this day, there are two principal questions: (1) what is its origin; (2) what is the necessity of its observance? As to the first, it is not asked whether a change was made of the seventh day to the first by abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath (for this is granted among Christians who acknowledge that this change could be made by him who is Lord of the Sabbath), but both ought to be made and was made most fittingly; that former day (on account of its ceremonial part and what on that account pertained to the legal economy) ought to be abrogated that another might be substituted in its place: another, however, could not be more appropriately introduced under the new covenant than that which is now called the Lord’s day (on account of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on this day, the recollection of which is most justly to be celebrated always in the Christian church, since on it was most fully accomplished the work of our redemption and of the new creation); that this might be a public monument of the abrogated ceremonial law and of the distinction which ought to exist between the Jews and Christians. Rather the question concerns the principle and origin of this change-whether it was only of human and political (or ecclesiastical) or of divine ordination.

III. Here the opinions of theologians vary. Some refer it to canonical right (as the papists do, who gather from it also the necessity of unwritten traditions). There are some among the latter who (according to Azorius, Institutionum morales, Pt. 11, 1.2 [16131, pp. 12-16) contend for its divine authority (as Anchoranus, Panormitanus, Angelus Sylvester). Others refer it to political ordination (as the Remonstrants, who in their Confession allege that the distinction of days was removed under the New Testament, and the Socinians, who assert that its observance is arbitrary, cf. Racovian Catechism [18181, p. 220). Others ascend to a divine ordination, so that either Christ himself may be said to have immediately and expressly instituted that day, which Junius holds (“Praelectiones in Geneses,’ in Opera Theologica [16131, 4:26-27 on Gen. 2:1, 2) and some others with him; or mediately only inasmuch as the apostles inspired of God (theopneustoi) sanctioned it in the Christian church by precept, example and their own practice. This is the more common opinion of the orthodox and to this we adhere.

IV. They who refer the origin of the Lord’s day to Christ rely most especially both upon the resurrection of Christ (who by rising on this day from the dead seems to have consecrated it to his worship in memory of that fact) and on the various appearances made after the resurrection on this day when he showed himself to his assembled disciples (Jn. 20:19, 26; Rev. 1:10); also by the effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles which is held to have occurred on this day. Although these things may with probability be said and seem to have given occasion for the institution of this day, still they cannot make a strong and solid argument to prove it because it would require some express command (or the example of Christ).

V. Far more properly, therefore, is it said to be of apostolic institution. They substituted the Lord’s day for the Sabbath and commended it to the churches, not without the special influence of the Holy Spirit by whom they were infallibly directed to prescribe such things as not only conduced to faith and morals, but also to the good order (eutaxian) of the church and the performance of divine worship. Now there are three passages in particular from which this institution is gathered: (1) from Acts 20:7 -“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow.” Why are the apostles said to have assembled for the preaching of the word and the administration of the eucharist, on this rather than on any other day (or on the well-known Sabbath of the Jews), unless at that time the custom of holding stated meetings had prevailed, the ceremony of the Jewish Sabbath by degrees vanishing? Nor ought it to be said that mian sabbat6n here designates not the first day of the seven, but only one (i.e., some one of the seven) because it is used in no other sense (Lk. 24:1; Mk. 16:2). What is adduced from Lk. 5:17 (cf. 8:22) does not apply here because it is one thing to say en mia ton haeren (which denotes an indeterminate time), another to say en te mia with the article which determines the day.

VI. (2) From 1 Cor. 16:1, 2, where not only the apostolic practice but also a precept is introduced: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” The apostle wishes collections to be made by believers upon each first day of the week (viz., on which their public assemblies ought also to be held), which he draws from the custom of the Jews who, according to Philo (cf. The Special Laws 1. 14.76-78 [Loeb, 7:1451) and Josephus (Aj 18.312 [Loeb, 9:180-81]), on each Sabbath on which they were accustomed to assemble used to make collections in the synagogues of tithes and other voluntary offerings, afterwards sent to Jerusalem for the use of the temple and the Levites. On account of the persecution of the Jews, the advent of many strangers, and their continual zeal in propagating the gospel, the church at Jerusalem was greatly pressed by want and the apostle wishes believers to take up collections for their benefit. As therefore he orders collections on each first day of the week, so he also is considered by parity of reason to have ordained the public assemblies in which they were accustomed to be made (or to have approved them by his vote as already ordained)

VII. (3) From Rev. 1:10, where John says that “he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day”; not verily on the Jewish Sabbath because he undoubtedly would have named it; not on some one day only of the seven because thus the title would be ambiguous, calculated to confuse rather than explain; but on that day on which Christ had arisen, on which the apostles were accustomed to assemble to perform sacred worship and on which Paul had ordered collections to be made, as was the custom in the primitive church. Since he speaks of that day as known and observed in the church, there is no doubt that it had been distinguished by this name from the received usage of the church. Otherwise, who among the Christians would have understood what John meant by this appellation, if he intended to designate some other day?

VIII. Second, he alone could change the Sabbath (either immediately and by himself or mediately by the apostles) who is Lord of the Sabbath (Mt. 12:8). It was most fitting that the day of worship should be instituted by him under the New Testament (by whom the worship itself had been instituted and from whom all blessing in all worship is to be expected).

IX. Third, if the Lord’s day was constituted neither by Christ nor by the apostles, the condition of the Christian church under the New Testament would be worse than of the Jews under the Old. Under the Old Testament a day was appropriated to rest from secular labor in which to servants and beasts of burden was granted a breathing time from servile work (Dr. 5:14), such as would not exist under the New Testament. Everyone sees this to be absurd, since far better is our condition in comparison with their state who were pressed down by the unbearable (abastakt6) yoke of the law.

X. Fourth, if the institution of the Lord’s day is only of human ordination (whether political or ecclesiastical, as a human constitution circumscribed the necessity of public worship), it could be rescinded as easily as it was enjoined. Nor could the necessity of its observance be so strongly pressed, for thus a profane person might dispense with it, not attend to prayer and assemblies, and anyone might excuse himself for doing or neglecting anything, if nothing could be elicited from the Scriptures to bind the conscience besides a human appointment. Prudently, therefore, and piously (in addition to the uniform and uninterrupted tradition of the church), the apostolic sanction and practice is urged that it may be evident that the church has done nothing in an affair of so much importance which she has not received from inspired men (theopneustois) and which on that account is not of necessary observation.

XI. Fifth, it is favored by the authority of the fathers who were nearest the age and times of the apostles. Among whom is Ignatius (Pseudo-Ignatius, “Ad Magnesianos,” 9.4 in Patres Apostolici [ed. F.X. Funk, 19131, 2:125; “Ad Trallianos,’ 9.5, ibid., 2:104-7); Justin Martyr (First Apology* 67 [ANF 1:185-86]); Dionysius of Corinth, according to Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 4.23* [FC 19:2591); Melito, according to the same (Eusebius, ibid., 4.26, p. 262); Irenaeus (Against Heresies 5.23* [ANF 1:551-52]); Tertullian (Chaplet [FC 40:237, 256]); Origen (cf. In Exodum Homilia 7.5-6 [ PG 12.345-47 1) and not a few others. Here belongs the law enacted concerning it by the Emperor Constantine the Great (cf. Eusebius, life of Constantine 4.18 [London: 1845], pp. 189-90), repeated and confirmed by succeeding emperors-Theodosius, Valentinian, Arcadius, Leo and Anthemius* -by whom the most severe penalties were imposed upon those who exhibited spectacles on this day or gave themselves up to pleasure, as may be seen in the ‘Codex de feriis” (cf. Corpus Iuris Civilis, II: Codex Iustinianus 12.9 [ed. P Krueger, 19681, p. 128).

XII. Most of our men assert the same thing. Calvin says: “It is very probable that the apostles retained in the beginning the day already observed, afterwards forced by the Jewish superstition substituted another in the place of the one abrogated” (in Acts 20+). Bucer says: “The Lord’s day was consecrated to sacred acts by the apostles themselves” (“De Regno Christi,’ 1.11* in Martini Buceri Opera Latina [ed. F. Wendel, 1955], p. 82). So Beza maintains that this tradition is truly divine and made by the apostles at the suggestion of the Spirit: “The services of the Lord’s day therefore, which Justin also in the Second Apology (sic!) expressly mentions, are of apostolic and truly divine tradition” (Annationes maiores in Novum … Testamentum [15941, Pars Altera, p. 635 on Rev. 1:10). So Gallasius, a colleague of Calvin and Beza: “We have received this as established, that the Lord’s day should be substituted in place of the Sabbath, not by men, but even by the apostles, that is, by the Spirit of God, who directed them” (In Exodum Commentaria [15601, p. 195 on Ex. 31). Not otherwise Fayus: “Deservedly therefore we might have said that the apostles under the guidance of the Holy Spirit substituted it for that seventh legal day which was the first in the creation of the former world” (cf. “Theses in quartum Legis,’ 33*.12* in Theses Theologicae in Schola Genevensi [1586], p. 66 [401). Of the same opinion are Bullinger (A Hundred Sermons upon the Apocalips [15611, pp. 29-30 on Rev. 1:10); Gualterus, homi. 162+ (on Mt.); Junius (“Praelectiones in Geneses,” in Opera Theologica [1613], 1:26-61 on Gen. 2); Piscator in Aphor explic. Aphor. 18+; Perkins, Ames, Hyperius (In Epistolam D. Pauli ad Romanos et … ad Corinthos [15831, pp. 331-32 on 1 Cor. 16:2); Wallaeus (Dissertatio de Sabbatho 7* [16281, pp. 147,88); Voetius (Selectae Disputationes [1667], 4:760-61) and not a few others.

XIII. Although the Lord’s day may be said to be of apostolic institution, the authority upon which it rests is nevertheless divine because they were influenced by the Holy Spirit no less in sacred institutions than in setting forth the doctrines of the gospel either orally or by writing. Divine ordination is, therefore, rightly claimed here; not indeed formally and immediately by the institution of Christ, but mediately by the sanction and practice of the inspired (theopneust6n) apostles.

XIV. Although certain ordinations of the apostles (which referred to the rites and circumstances of divine worship) were variable and instituted only for a time (as the sanction concerning the not eating of blood and of things strangled [Acts 15:201; concerning the woman’s head being covered and the man’s being uncovered when they prophesy [1 Cor. 11:4, 5]) because there was a special cause and reason for them and (this ceasing) the institution itself ought to cease also; still there were others invariable and of perpetual observance in the church, none of which were founded upon any special occasion to last only for a time by which they might be rendered temporary (such as the imposition of hands in the setting apart of ministers and the distinction between the offices of deacon and pastor). Since the institution of the Lord’s day was of this kind, from this we infer that the intention of the founders was that the observance of this day should be of perpetual and immutable right.

XV. The constitutions of emperors and the canons of councils about the observance of the Lord’s day do not prove that it was only of human ordination because they did not sanction it first, but confirmed and established it by their own authority as already instituted by the apostles that no one might presume to violate it with impunity. This was done by them most piously, both on account of the Gentiles and on account of the impious Christians by whom they were unwilling that this day should be profaned (and who without constitutions of this kind might think themselves free and unrestrained in their violation of it).

XVI. The Scripture passages usually adduced against the divine institution of the Lord’s day (Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16) do not overthrow our argument. (1) In all these passages, the observance of some day for the purpose of religion (from the order of Christ) is no more condemned or denied than the choice of some particular food for the use of religion from the institution of Christ. And no one would say that the selection of bread and wine in the Supper for a religious use is either unlawful or not instituted by Christ. (2) The apostle expressly speaks of that regard for days (Rom. 14:5, 6) which at that time gave offense to Christians; but the observance of the Lord’s day (which the apostle himself teaches prevailed at that time in all the churches, I Cor. 16:1, 2), could not afford the occasion of offense to anyone. (3) They treat of the Jewish distinction of days, which belonged to the slavery of weak and beggarly elements (Gal. 4:9), inasmuch as it had something typical and ceremonial and brought back the rigor of the law (which has now no place with respect to the Lord’s day).

XVII. Christian liberty cannot be said to be lessened by this opinion. It is not liberty, but an unchristian license for anyone to think he is freed from the observance of any precept of the Decalogue and from a divine and apostolic sanction. Experience teaches too well that license and the negligence of sacred things grows more and more, where a proper regard is not shown for the Lord’s day.

XVIII. However, above all things, we must observe this-that we should not be so anxious to investigate the primary origin of this day as its careful and serious sanctification. Whatever opinion anyone may wish to follow (for we suffer each one to enjoy his own judgment), this should be strictly and inviolably taken care of by all-that according to the command of Christ, believers keep themselves clear of profanations, seriously devote themselves to the sacred exercises of piety and observe this consecrated day in a holy manner. Concerning the necessity and mode of its observance we will treat in what follows.

XIX. Concerning the observance of the Lord’s day also there is not a little controversy. Some (in excess) incline to a too great rigor and severity and thus approach Judaism. Others on the contrary (in defect) use too great relaxation, which opens the door to profanity and license. The middle way, however, seems to us to be the safest. We unfold it by two propositions: the first teaches the necessity, the second the mode of its observance. XX. First proposition: (1) the observance of the Lord’s day is not necessary per se as a part of divine worship or a grace of mystical signification, but still it is necessary with regard to the preservation of good order (eutaxias) and apostolic and ecclesiastical polity. It cannot be called a part of worship in itself, but only an adjunct and circumstance of it because the gospel and rational (logikos) worship of the New Testament is no longer restricted to certain places or times (as under the Old Testament), but can be performed everywhere and always in spirit and truth. Still it is necessary according to God’s arrangement by reason of the polity always to be preserved in the church, for without a certain day neither order nor decorum will exist in the church, but there will be mere confusion in ecclesiastical assemblies. (2) It was not instituted from any peculiar reason for a particular church of one time, but generally for the church of all times. As the apostles (who sanctioned this by their own example and precept, 1 Cor. 16:2; Acts 20:7) were universal ambassadors, so they had regard to the good of the whole church in this sanction. And as it was received even in the age of the apostles, so it was constantly retained by all the churches (as is evident from ecclesiastical history). (3) There can be no reason for a change since, as the memory of Christ’s death, so also the memory of his resurrection ought to be perpetual in the church (1 Cor. 11:26; 2 Tim. 2:8). (4) It was afterwards confirmed by the various canons of ecumenical councils and by the many edicts and laws of the emperors.

XXI. Now although we readily grant that if he pleases God (who is the Lord of the Sabbath) can change this first day into any other of the seven, still we do not think that this is lawful for any mortal, after so constant and general an observance of this day. Nor if cases can be granted, in which the public exercises of piety cannot be performed on this day, does it follow that this observance is only temporal and mutable; for this is not done spontaneously, but from necessity (which has no law).

XXII. If the ancient Christians observed for some time the Sabbath also in connection with the Lord’s day, so that they held sacred assemblies on that day and thought it wrong to fast on it, as we gather from Constitutions of the Holy Apostles (2.59 [ANF 7:422-231) and from Socrates (Ecclesiastical History 6.8* [NPNF2, 2:1441), this pertained to the decent burial of the synagogue. It is evident that the festivity of the Sabbath, even when kept, was considered far inferior to the Lord’s day. This appears even from this- that among the errors of the Ebionites (on account of which they were condemned by the church), they were convicted of this also, that they celebrated the Lord’s day and the Sabbath together (in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.27* [FC 19:t84]). Note also the Council of Laodicea, whose words are these: “It is not becoming for Christians to Judaize and to rest on the Sabbath, but to work on that day, preferring to rest on the Lord’s day, as Christians, provided they can” (which seems to have been added on account of servants who had heathen masters) “and if they are discovered to be judaizers, let them be anathema by Christ” (Canon 29, Mansi, 2:569).

XXIII. Second proposition: the mode of the right observance of the Lord’s day resolves itself into two parts first, what may be called privative and consists in rest or cessation from all servile work; the other, which is positive, and is concerned with the sanctification of that rest by the religious worship of God.

XXIV. The rest required is not one of ease and idleness, much less of feasting and gluttony, of shows and dances and other profane practices condemned by Paul in Rom. 13:13. It is the Sabbath of Jehovah, not a feast of Ceres, Bacchus or Venus. Rather the rest is a cessation from all Works of our ordinary and worldly vocation which can call us away from divine worship. Thus we must abstain on that day: (1) from all those works which are strictly and properly called servile, usually done by servants and serving men (to wit, as much as it can be done through immediate necessity); (2) from our works which pertain to the uses of this life in natural and civil affairs and properly refer to our own gain and advantage. This is gathered from the opposed concession, for as he grants six days to us that we may labor and do all our work in them, so on this day he enjoins a cessation from such work that no obstacle may be put in the way of divine worship. And further here belongs the memorable law of Leo and Anthemius, extant in the “Codex de feriis,” whose words we are not ashamed to quote: “We decree the Lord’s day to be always so honorable and to be reverenced that it should be free from all executions, no admonition should be given to anyone, no exaction of bail be made, the officer should be silent, summons lie hid. Let that day be free from judicial examinations, let the rough voice of the crier be still, litigants cease from controversy” (Corpus luris Civilis, 11: Codex lustinianus 12.9 [ed. P. Krueger, 1968], p. 128). And afterwards: “Nor relaxing the rest of this religious day, do we suffer anyone to be occupied with obscene pleasures, theatrical shows, circus plays, and the mournful spectacles of wild beasts should have no patronage on that day, and if our birth day should fall upon it, the celebration of it should be deferrer’ (ibid.).

XXV Here, nevertheless, are excepted: (1) those works which directly regard the worship and glory of God (Mt. 12:5; jn. 5:8, 9), for in this case those works which are in their nature servile pass into the nature of sacred works-nor are they so much our works as God’s; (2) works of charity and of mercy which are reckoned among the duties of piety (Mt. 12:10,12; Jn. 5:9; 9:14; Lk. 13:15); (3) the works of common honesty, because as always, so on this day above others, we ought to carry ourselves and to act honestly and decorously; (4) works of necessity, which are neither feigned nor designedly produced, but imposed upon us by providence (Lk. 14:5); not only absolute and simple, that may be called necessary only (which we can in no way be in want of), but modified and relative so that those things may be reckoned necessary not only which are required absolutely for the existence or support of life, but also those which conduce to our living better. Hence some great advantage and emolument accrues to us or our neighbor if they are done or some great disadvantage and loss if they are omitted. ‘The sabbath’ (as Christ testifies in Mk. 2:27) “was made for man and not man for the sabbath.’ XXVI. Therefore, we do not think that in this cessation believers are bound to judaical precision which some (more scrupulous than is just) maintain was not revoked, so that it is lawful neither to kindle a fire, nor to cook food, nor to take up arms against an enemy, nor to prosecute a journey begun by land or sea, nor to refresh themselves with innocent relaxation of the mind and body, provided they are done out of the hours appointed for divine worship, nor to have any diversion, however slight, to any things belonging to the advantages or emoluments of this life. For although this opinion bears on its face a beautiful appearance of piety (and undoubtedly with good intention is proposed by pious men to procure the better sanctification of this day, usually so basely profaned), still it labors under grievous disadvantages; nor can it be retained without in this way bringing back into the church and imposing anew upon the shoulders of Christians an unbearable yoke (abastakton), repugnant to Christian liberty and the gentleness of Christ and opposed to the sweetness of the covenant of grace by agitating and tormenting the consciences of men through infinite scruples and inextricable difficulties (nearly driving to desperation).

XXVII. The other part of the observance of the Lord’s day pertains to the sanctification of the rest which is employed in sacred assemblies and in the stated and public worship of God. For although sacred assemblies for the public exercises of piety can and ought to be frequented on other days also by everyone (as far as their business will allow) and every pious person is bound in duty to his conscience to have privately his daily devotional exercises, still on this day above others a holy convocation ought to take place (as was the custom on the Sabbath, Lev. 23:3) in which there may be leisure for devout attention to the reading and hearing of the word (Heb. 10:25), the celebration of the sacraments (Acts 20:7), the psalms and prayer (Col. 3:16; Acts 1:14), to alms and help to the poor (I Cor. 16:2) and in general to all that sacred service pertaining to external and stated worship.

XXVIII. And all agree that to this we should most especially devote ourselves, the many other controversies here waged, either curious or by no means necessary and useful, being removed. The Synod of Dort has reference to this, maintaining “that this day ought so to be appropriated to divine worship, that we should rest on it from all servile works (with the exception of those which charity and pressing necessity demand) and from all pleasures of such a kind as could hinder divine worship” (“Post-Acta, of Na-Handelingen, Sec. 164” in Acta of Handelingen der Nationale Synode … 1618 en 1619 [1987 repr.], pp. 941-42). And “lest the people on the Lord’s day after 12 o’clock, distracted by other labors and profane exercises, should be kept away from the afternoon meetings, it wishes the magistrates to be asked to prohibit by more severe edicts all servile or daily works and especially plays, drinking together and other profanations of the Sabbath, in which the afternoon (especially in the town) is accustomed for the most part to be passed, so that in this way also they may better be drawn to those afternoon meetings and so learn to sanctify the entire Sabbath day” (ibid.). For no other reason did God in the Law and the Prophets so strongly urge and recommend the sanctification of the Sabbath and threaten to punish so severely its violation and profanation. For although these had a primary reference to the Jews, yet we cannot doubt that in their own manner they had a reference to Christians also inasmuch as they included a moral duty and one of perpetual observance.

XXIX. Although the conscientious regard for and distinction of days (and of other typical ceremonial times of the Old Testament) has been taken away under the New, as also straightway is forbidden the superstitious distinction of days and times (prevailing among the heathen), it does not follow that the Sabbath of the Lord transferred from the seventh day to the first (and freed from the typical use and economical strictness of the Old Testament) was on that account abrogated.

XXX. He who does works of necessary charity and mercy on the Sabbath does not profane it. He would be guilty of the basest superstition and hypocrisy who, under this pretext, would desert a neighbor in trouble. He ought to help whom he can and to serve God according to his ordination. For the Sabbath is said to have been “made for man” that he may in a special manner consult his own salvation by performing the duties of piety to God and of love to his neighbor; “not man for the Sabbath,” as if he ought to neglect necessary charity or mercy towards himself or neighbor through a superstitious regard for the Sabbath.

XXXI. The cessation from all servile work and carnal pleasure ought not to be pressed to the neglect of the spiritual practice of true holiness. It ought not to be pressed on account of itself, as if it were, a part of worship or as if the day itself were holier than others, but as the condition and help of private and public exercises to be performed thus. Therefore, this doctrine is very far from leading men to the opinion that they have done their duty remarkably well if, the desire for true piety and holiness being left, they devote themselves to a scrupulous and absolute cessation from all work. We seek the means on account of the end and the condition on account of the principal work (to wit, rest on account of the spiritual exercises of true piety and holiness). Therefore no more ought the practice of the Sabbath to be burdened with those consequences from the accidental abuse of men, than the practice of sacred reading, the hearing of the word, prayers and the sacraments, which are open to the same abuses, although no one would deny that these are moral duties of perpetual observance.

XXXII. The accommodation of the fourth precept to the peculiar state of the Jews (which was in the observance of the seventh day from the beginning of creation) did not render this precept ceremonial anymore than the promise to give the land of Canaan to the people of Israel makes the fifth commandment ceremonial; nor the preface, where the bringing of the people out of Egypt is mentioned, makes all the precepts ceremonial. Indeed, we grant that a somewhat stricter observance of the Sabbath was commanded in those times, accommodated to the training and servitude of the times, which does not obtain in all ages. However, this does not hinder the observance itself from being moral and common to all ages.

Take from Volume 2 of Institutes of Elenctic Theology, by Francis Turretin.

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