Nov 5, 2008

Campbell on the Sabbath

Campbell wrote:

"THE subject of our present address is the Sabbath day and the Lord's day. Either christians are bound to observe the sabbath day, or they are not. If they are, let us see what the nature of that observance is, which was prescribed for the sabbath day. The law reads thus: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor and do all your work: the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord your God: In it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your man servant, nor your maid servant, nor your cattle, nor the stranger that is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it."

You will observe that, in this command, God positively prohibits all manner of work or labor on this day. Son, daughter, servant, cattle, stranger; are commanded to be exempted from all manner of work. In examining the particular precepts originating from this law, recorded in the Old Testament, we find the following specifications:--

1. "You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations on the sabbath day." Ex.xxxv. 3.

2. "Abide you every man in his place, (house or tent;) let no man go out of his place, (house or tent,) on the sabbath day. Ex. xvi. 29.

3. "He gives you on the sixth day the bread of two days. Bake that which you will bake this day, and seethe what you will seethe, and that which remains over, lay up for you to be kept until the morning." Ex. xvi. 29. 23.

4. "Bear no burden on the sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the sabbath day." Jer. xvii. 21, 22.

5. "Not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words." Is. lxii. 13.

6. "From evening unto evening shall you celebrate your Sabbath." Lev. xxiii. 32.

7. "Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Every one that defiles it shall surely be put to death." Ex. xxxi. 14. 15.

"And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. And they that found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation. And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him. And the Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died, as the Lord commanded Moses." Numbers, xv. 32-36.

The above items are a few of many that might be selected out of the Old Testament on this subject. We believe them to be a fair specimen of the law given by Moses, as explained and enforced upon the nation of Israel.

Now the question is, are we under this law? If we are, we pay little or no respect to it. For who is there that does not habitually violate the rest enjoined on this day! Those who make the most ado about sabbath breakers are themselves, according to the above law, worthy of death. They kindle fire in their houses. They go out of their houses, and travel on their cattle miles. Their sons and their daughters do some kind of work. They bring in burdens of water, wood, and prepare food. They celebrate it not from evening to evening, but from morning to evening they violate it. They speak their own words, and do many things worthy of death. Why then is not the penalty enforced? Assuredly their observance of this law is mere mockery. It is an insult on the Lawgiver!

We know that some of the clergy have given, if not sold them indulgences to violate it. They have told them that certain "works of necessity and mercy" are allowable. But who told them so? They tell them they may prepare food, bring in fuel and water. But God forbade those under this law to do so. So far was he from countenancing such "works of necessity," that he wrought three miracles to prevent the necessity of doing a "work of necessity." He sent two days' portion of manna from heaven the sixth day; he sent none the seventh; he preserved that gathered on the sixth from putrefaction until the close of the seventh: all of which were special miracles, for the space of forty years. If he wrought three miracles to prevent an Israelite from crossing his threshold to gather up a little manna for his daily food, how dare any give a dispensation, in his name, to do that which is tenfold more laborious!

Because the Saviour of the world put to silence those who accused him of breaking the sabbath, by appealing to their own conduct in relieving animals in distress, this doctrine of "works of necessity and mercy," has been represented as of divine origin. What a perversion! An argumentum ad hominem converted into a general maxim! But such a perversion shows consummate inattention to the laws of Israel. While Israel kept the law there never would occur an opportunity for a work of necessity or of mercy, such as these lawgivers tolerate. For while they kept the law, they should be blessed in their basket, stores, fields, houses, children, flocks, herds; no house would take fire; no ox would fall into a pit, &c. And if they transgressed the law, they should be cursed in all these respects, and no toleration of a violation of the law was granted as a means of mitigating the curse.

Again: Let me ask, Was there ever a law published relaxing that rigid observance of rest enjoined upon the Sabbath? Was there a law published, saying, You must or you may observe the sabbath with less care, with less respect; you may now speak your own words, kindle fire to your houses, and prepare victuals! &c. &c. I say, Was there ever such a law published? No, indeed--either the law remains in all its force, to the utmost extent of its literal requirements, or it is passed away with the Jewish ceremonies. If it yet exist, let us observe it according to law. And if it does not exist, let us abandon a mock observance of another day for it. "But," say some, "it was changed from the seventh to the first day." Where? when? And by whom? No man can tell. No, it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned must be changed before the observance, or respect to the reason, can be changed! It is all old wives' fables to talk of the change of the sabbath from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio--I think his name is DOCTOR ANTICHRIST.

But was not the sabbath given to the Jews only? And again, Was it not a shadow or type? This deserves attention.

The preface to the law, of which it was a part, says, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; therefore, remember the sabbath day," &c. The preface to this law, as the inscription or address upon a letter, ascertains whose property it was. It was the property of the Jews. But Moses tells them this, not leaving it to an inference, Deut. v. 15. "Remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out thence, through a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm; therefore, the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day" Ezekiel says the same, or rather the Lord by the prophet says, chap. xx. 12. "Moreover, also, I gave them my Sabbath, to be a sign between me and them" Yes, said the Lord by Moses, "The sabbath is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever." Ex. xxxi. 17. It is worthy of note in this place, that of all the sins in the long black catalogue of sins specified against the gentiles, in all the New Testament, the sin of sabbath-breaking is never once preferred against them! We conclude, then, that the sabbath day was as exclusively the property of the Jews as circumcision.

But was it not a shadow and a type? Let us hear Paul. "Let no man judge you (condemn you for not observing) in meats and drinks, (for eating and drinking,) or in respect of a holy day, or of a new moon, or of the sabbath, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ," or, according to Macknight, "the body is Christ's body." Paul, then, says it was a shadow. In the Epistle to the Hebrews, 4th chapter, he makes it and Canaan "types of that rest which remained for the people of God." The sabbath then was a shadow--a type given to the Jews only.

Since beginning this article, we noticed, for the first time, a very correct note of Dr. Macknight's, the celebrated translator of the apostolic epistles, which expresses our view of this matter. With many, we know, his views will be received with more readiness of mind than ours. He was, strange as it may appear, a dignitary in the presbyterian church; yet he expresses himself in the following manner, on Colossians ii. 16.

"The whole of the law of
Moses being abrogated by Christ, (Col. ii. 14.) Christians are under no obligation to observe any of the Jewish holy days, not even the seventh day sabbath. Wherefore, if any teacher made the observance of the seventh day a necessary duty, the Colossians were to resist him. But though the brethren, in the first age, paid no regard to the Jewish seventh day sabbath, they set apart the first day of the week for public worship, and for commemorating the death and resurrection of their master by eating his supper on that day; also, for private exercises of devotion. This they did, either by the precept or by the example of the apostles, and not by virtue of any injunction in the law of Moses. Besides, they did not sanctify the first day of the week in the Jewish manner by total abstinence from bodily labor of every kind. That practice was condemned by the council of Laodicea as judaizing. Lec. Suiceri Thes. Eccl. voce Sabbaton."

The sabbath was, by the Lord of the sabbath, set aside, as well as every other part of the law of Moses, as stated in our last address. The learned Macknight is with us also in this instance. His words on Col. ii. 14. "It is evident," says he, "that the law of Moses, in all its parts, is now abolished and taken away. Consequently, that Christians are under no obligation to obey even the moral precepts of that law, on account of their being delivered by Moses to the Jews. For if the obligations of the moral precepts of his law are still continued, mankind are still under its curse." I would just observe, on this item, that the Lord Jesus Christ observed the last sabbath that was obligatory on any of the human race, by lying in the grave from evening to evening. In the silence of death and the grave he celebrated it literally, "not going out of his place," until the sabbath was past. Then, very early in the morning, when the sabbath was past, the Jewish religion being consummated, he rises and becomes the beginning of the new creation."

MARCH 1, 1824 - Address to the readers of the Christian Baptist. No. IV.

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