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Chapter 23 - Of the Fourth Commandment

The Order of Salvation and Damnation by William Perkins (1558-1602)

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Election is God’s decree “whereby on his own free will, he hath ordained certain men to salvation, to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Reprobation is “that part of predestination, whereby God, according to the most free and just purpose of his will, hath determined to reject certain men unto eternal destruction, and misery, and that to the praise of his justice.”

Chapter 23 – Of the Fourth Commandment

The fourth commandment concerneth the Sabbath, namely, that holy time consecrated to the worship and glorifying of God. The words are these: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

The Resolution
Remember. This clause doth insinuate that in times past there was great neglect in the observation of the Sabbath: and would that all degrees and condition of men should prepare themselves to sanctify the same: especially those that be governors of families, incorporations and cities to whom those commandments is directed.

To keep it holy, or to sanctify it. To sanctify is to sever a thing from common use and to consecrate the same to the service of God. Here are described the two parts of this commandment: the first whereof is the rest from labour: the second, sanctification of that rest.

Six days. These words contain a close answer to this objection. It is much to cease from our callings one whole day. The answer (together with a first reason to enforce the sanctification of the Sabbath) is in these words, which is taken from the greater to the less. “If I permit thee to follow thy calling, six whole days, thou manifest well, and mist leave one only to serve me.” But the first is true, therefore the second.

The first proposition is wanting: the second, or assumption are these words, “six days” &c. The conclusion is the commandment itself.

Here we may see that God is given is free liberty to work all the six days. The which freedom no man can annihilate. Nevertheless, upon extraordinary occasions, the church of God is permitted to separate one day or more of the six, as need is, either to fasting, or for a solemn day of rejoicing for some benefit received: Joel 2:15, “Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:”

The Seventh Day. The season of this is taken from the end thereof.

If the Sabbath were consecrated to God and His service, we must that say abstain from our labors. But it was consecrated to God and His service: The assumption is in these words, (the seventh day, &c.) where we must note that God alone hath this privilege, to have a Sabbath consecrated unto Him and therefore all holy days dedicated ti whatsoever either Angel or Saint, are unlawful: howsoever the Church of Rome have imposed the observation of them upon many people.

In it thou shalt do. This is the conclusion of the second reason, illustrated by a distribution from the causes. “Thou, thy son, thy daughters, thy servant, thy cattle, thy stranger, shall cease this day from your labors.

Any work. That is any ordinary work of your callings and such as may be done the day before or left well undone till the day after. Yet for all this we are not forbidden to perform such works even on this day as are both holy, and of present necessity.

Such are those works which do upon that day preserve and maintain the service and glory of God, as 1) a Sabbath days journey. Acts 1:12, “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.” 2) The killing and dressing of sacrificed beasts in the time of the law. Matthew 12:5, “Or have ye not read in the law, how that on the sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?” 3) Journey unto the prophets, and places appointed unto the worship of God. 2 Kings 4:23, “And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well.” Psalm 8:4, “”

Such also are the works of mercy, whereby the safety of life or goods is procured, 1) as that which Paul did. Acts 20:9, “And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.” See also verse 12, “And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted.” 2) To help a beast out of a pit, Luke 14:5, “And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?” 3) Provision of meat and drink, Matthew 12:1, “At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat.” In provision we must take heed that our cooks and household servants break not the Sabbath. The reason of this is framed from the lesser to the greater out of that place, 2 Samuel 23:15, “And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” See also verses 16-17, “And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD. And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.” The reason standeth thus. Of David would not have his servants adventure their corporal lives for his provision, not drink the water when they had provided it, much less ought we for our meat to adventure the souls of our servants. 4) Watering of cattle. Luke 13:15, “The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?” Upon the like present and holy necessity, Physicians, upon the Sabbath day may take a journey to visit the diseased, Mariners their voyage, Shepherds may tend their flock, and Midwives may help women with child, Mark 2:27, “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath.”

Within the gates. This word “gate” signifieth by a figure jurisdiction and authority. Matthew 16:18, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Let this be a looking glass, wherein all Inn-holders and entertainers of strangers mat look into themselves and behold what is their duty.

For in six days. The third reason of this commandment from the like example:
That which I did thou also must do.
But I rested the seventh day and hallowed it.
Therefore thou must do the same.
God sanctified the Sabbath when he did consecrate it to his service; men sanctify it when they worship God in it. On this place we are to consider the Sabbath how far forth it is ceremonial, and how far forth Moral.

The Sabbath is ceremonial in respect of the strict observation thereof, which was a type of the internal sanctification of the people of God, and that is as it were, a continual resting from the work of sin. Exodus 31:13, “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the LORD that doth sanctify you.” The same is recorded in Ezekiel 20:12.

It signifieth also that blessed rest of the faithful in the Kingdom of Heaven. Isaiah 66:23, “And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD.” Hebrews 4:8-10, “For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.
For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

The Sabbath is likewise ceremonial in that it was observed the seventh day after the creation of the world, and was then solemnized with such ceremonies. Numbers 2:8-10, “And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred. All that were numbered in the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth. On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.”

But now in the light of the Gospel, and the churches professing the same, the ceremony of the Sabbath is ceased. Colossians 2:16, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” The observance of the Sabbath was translated by the Apostles from the seventh day to the following. 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; and continued his speech until midnight.” 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, “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.” This day by reason that our Saviour did upon it rise again, is called the Lord’s day. Revelation 1:10, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.”

The observation of the Sabbath thus constituted by the Apostles, was nevertheless neglected of those churches which succeeded them, but after was revived and established by Christian Emperors, as a day most apt to celebrate the memory of the creation of the world, and to the serious meditation of the redemption of mankind. Leo and Autonomous Edict of Holy Days.

The observation of the Sabbath is moral in as much as it is a certain seventh day, which preserveth and conserveth the ministry of the word, and the solemn worship of God, especially in the assemblies of the church. And in this respect we are upon this day, as well enjoined a rest from our vocations, and the Jews were. Isaiah 58:13, “If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.”

Finally it is moral in that it freeth servants and cattle from their labors, which on other days do service to their owners.

The affirmative part

Keep holy the Sabbath day.
This we do of ceasing the works of sin and of our ordinary calling; performing those spiritual works which we are commanded in the second and third commandments.

1. To arise early in the morning, that so we may prepare put selves to the better sanctifying of the Sabbath ensuing. This preparation consisteth in private prayers and taking account of our sins. Mark 1:35, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (See also verse 39) Exodus 32:5-6, “And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.” Ecclesiastes 4, verse last, “Take heed to thy feet when thou enter into the house of God.”

2. To be present at public assemblies, at ordinary hours, there to hear reverently and attentively the word preached and read, to receive the Sacraments and publicly with the congregation. Call upon and celebrate the name of the Lord. 1 Timothy 2:1-3, Acts 20:7, 2 Kings 4:22-23. Acts 13:14-15, “But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on.”

3. When public meetings are dissolved to spend the rest of the Sabbath on the meditation of God’s word and His creatures. Psalm 92, from the beginning to the ending. Acts 17:11, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” We must also exercise then the works of charity as to visit the sick and give alms to the needy, admonish such as fall, reconcile such as are at in discord amongst themselves, &c. Nehemiah 8:12, “And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them.”

The negative part.
Pollute not the Sabbath of the Lord.
This is a grievous sin. Matthew 24:20, “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.” Leviticus 19:30, “Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.” In this part are these things forbidden:
1. The works of our calling, wherein if we do ought it must be altogether in regards of charity and not in regard of our own private commodity.

2. Unnecessary journeys. Exodus 16:29, “See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.” By this reason the master of the family must that day remain at home to sanctify the Sabbath with his household.

3. Fairs upon the Sabbath day. Nehemiah 13:19, “And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.” (cf. verses 15-18)

4. All kind of husbandry, as plowing, sowing, reaping, mowing, bringing home harvest, and other the like. Exodus 34:21, “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.”

5. To use jests, sports, banqueting, or any other thing whatsoever which is a means to hinder or withdraw the mind from that serious attention which ought to be in God’s service: for if the works of our calling must not be exercised, much less these, whereby the mind is as well distracted from God’s service as by the greatest labor.

6. An external observation of the Sabbath without the inward power of godliness. Isaiah 1:14-15, “Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.” 2 Timothy 3:5, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

7. The manifest profanation of the Sabbath in pampering the belly, adultery, and other like profaneness which is nothing else but to celebrate a Sabbath to the devil, and not to God.

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