TO THE SAINTS SCATTERED ABROAD.
Believing it important for us to have the truth on all subjects, and especially those connected with the immediate coming of Christ, I would present a few thoughts on the Sabbath; not for controversy, but for the consideration of the true "Israel," who are looking for the "promise," and speedy "redemption."
The remarks of Bro. Miller in this "Lecture on the great Sabbath," I like very well, because I believe they are true. In speaking of the Sabbath he says,-- "Its being contained in the ten commandments, written by the finger of God, on both tables of the testimony, graven on stone,* to be a sign forever,+ and a perpetual covenant, proves, in my opinion, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it is as binding upon the Christian church as upon the Jewish, and in the same manner, and for the same reason." "Life and views," p. 157.
[I hope all will pay particular attention to these remarks of Br. Miller, and also my references at the bottom of the page.]
Again he says, p. 160, in speaking of the Sabbath as a sign, "It is a sign, because God has given it to us expressly for that purpose." See our text: "To be a sign between me and them." i.e. between God and the children of Israel. Now another question will evidently arise: Who are the children of Israel? I answer,
*See Exo. 34:28, Deut. 4:13 &
while the first covenant was standing, they were the children of Jacob, descendents of the twelve tribes;-- but that covenant they broke: see Lev. 26:2,15 also Deut. 31:10-16. This covenant was broken as Moses had foretold. Then Jesus Christ brought in a new covenant which continued the sign of the Sabbath, and prepared another people, by writing his law upon their hearts. These now are the true Israel; for the changing of the subjects never did, nor ever can change the moral law of God. Therefore Paul argues the circumcision of the heart, and says that "they are not all Israel which are of Israel, neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children; but, in Isaac shall your seed be called; i.e. the which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." Now if the children of God are the true Israel, and if the Sabbath was given as a sign forever, and a perpetual covenant, I ask, how can it be abolished while there is one Israelite remaining to claim the promise? You have evidently noticed, that all the difficulties on the Sabbath question among Christians have arisen from the foolish, judaizing notion, that Israel meant only the literal Jew. But when we understand Israel to mean the people of God, the difficulties, every man must acknowledge, all vanish at once. I say, and believe I am supported by the Bible, that the moral law was never given to the Jews as a people exclusively, but they were for a season the keepers of it in charge. And through them the law, oracles and testimony, have been handed down to us. See Paul's clear reasoning in Romans, 2d, 3d, and 4th chapters, on this point. Then says the objector, we are under the same obligation to keep the Sabbaths of weeks, month, and years, as the Jews were. No, sir; you will observe that these were not included in the decalogue; they were attachments, added by reason of transgression, until the seed should come, to whom the promise of one eternal day or
Sabbath of rest, was made. "Therefore there remains a keeping of Sabbath to the people of God." Only one kind of Sabbath was given to Adam, and only one remains for us: see Hosea 2:11: "I will cause all her mirth to cease, her feast-days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths and all her solemn feasts." All the Jewish Sabbaths did cease, when Christ nailed them to his cross. Col 2:14-17. "Blotting out the hand writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; and having spoiled pricipalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or the Sabbath-days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." These were properly called Jewish Sabbaths. Hosea says, "her Sabbaths." But the Sabbath of which we are speaking, God calls 'my Sabbath.' Here is a clear distinction between the creation Sabbath and the ceremonial.* The one is perpetual; the others were merely shadows of good things to come, and are limited in Christ. The Sabbath which remains is to be kept on the first day of every week, as a perpetual sign, that when Christ shall have finished the work of redemption, we shall enter into that rest which remains for the people of God, which will be an eternal rest."
The sentiments expressed in the above extract, I believe to be true, except the closing part where it is said the Sabbath which remains is to be kept on the first day of every week, as a perpetual sign," etc. Now, I ask, how can this be? If we keep the first day as "a sign," I do not see how we can have our thousand year's rest in the new earth, till the eighth thousand years, as the first day would be the eighth, reckoning in successive order from creation. But we all as advent believers, have, and so still expect our rest in the
* I hope all will notice the distinction Bro. M. makes between the Jewish Sabbath, and God's Sabbath; it is evidently true.
seventh thousand years. Therefore I think we should keep the "seventh day" as "a sign," "according to the commandment." I know the reasons which are given in favor of keeping the first day, and they once satisfied me, but fail to do so now, after a thorough examination of the subject. It is said that the resurrection of Christ,--and his often meeting his disciples on the first day of the week--together with the practice of the Apostles, are sufficient reasons for observing the first day of the week. In regard to the resurrection of Christ being on the first day of the week, I will not deny, though some may think it needs proof. Respecting Christ's often meeting his disciples on the first day, I think we have no positive proof that he ever met with them on this day but once when they were assembled for worship, and this we find in John 20:19. In Matt. all that is said about this is, "Behold he goes before you into Galilee; there shall you see him," etc. Matt. 28:7. Mark says, "he appeared to two of them as they went into the country, and afterward to the eleven as they sat at meat," etc. Mark 16:12-14. Luke expresses it about the same as Mark. Luke 24:13-15, 30, 33, and 36. John appears to be a little more definite and says, "Then the same day at evening, being the first day* of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and stood in the midst," etc. John 20:19. In the 26th verse he says, "And after eight days," etc. Not the eighth day after, as it ought to be, had Christ met with him the next first day. In the 21st chapter, 1-3 verses we find that he met them again at the sea of Tiberius where the disciples were trying to catch fish. We see therefore, that Christ appeared to the disciples while they were "going into the country"--"as they sat at meat"--and when they were "fishing," but only once
* Let all notice that wherever the phrase, "first day of the week" occurs in the New Testament, the word day is in italics showing that it is not in the original, but supplied by the Translators.
when they were assembled for worship, unless their sitting at meat, or together--as the margin reads, be considered a meeting of worship.
In relation to the practice of the apostles, there is but one meeting of the disciples on the first day of the week, mentioned in the New Testament, and that is in Acts 20:7. But there are many meetings recorded, which they held on the Sabbath.
I know 1 Cor. 16:2 is considered proof respecting the first day; but when examined, I think it proves the contrary. It says, "Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him," etc. The expression "lay by him in store," I think plainly implies that they were at home, rather than at meeting. Rev 1:10, is the only other place that can be construed to favor the first day.--John says, "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day."--Now, who knows whether he meant the first or the seventh day? I think the latter, because it is called "the Sabbath of the Lord your God," but the first, is no where called so!!
In regard to the Sabbath, Christ says, "The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath." Not a Sabbath, but the Sabbath. He says also, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27, 28. He does not say, the Sabbath was made for the Jews, and a Sabbath for the Gentiles, but "THE Sabbath was made for man."--All mankind. Some may think that our first day, is in reality the seventh, but this is settled when we examine Matt. 28:1, and Luke 23:56, & 24:1, where a plain distinction is made between the two days. Matt. says, "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week," etc. Luke says, "And rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning," etc.
After having examined the ancient custom in relation to the first day, we will now see what it was in
regard to the seventh or Sabbath. The first passage I will notice, is the one just quoted in Luke 23:56--"And they returned and prepared spices and ointments, and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Mark this: "And rested the Sabbath day, ACCORDING TO THE COMMANDMENT. Acts 13:42, says, "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles* besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath." Verse 44,--"And the next Sabbath-day came almost the whole city together, to hear the word of God. " Acts 16:13, "And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made." Chap. 17:2 "And Paul as his manner was; went in to them, & three Sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the scriptures." This says "as his manner was." 28:4, "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and Greeks." This is "every Sabbath." 11th verse, "And he continued there a year and six months." Now if it was Paul's "manner" to reason in the synagogue "EVERY Sabbath," he must have in this place, observed seventy-eight Sabbaths. It is evident that Christ had his eye on the observance of Sabbath, as late certainly as A. D. 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed when he said:--"Pray you that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath-day. " Matt. 24:20. But if this "tribulation" spoken of, has reference to the "Papal persecution," as many believe, then they were directed in the observance of the Sabbath, to a much later period. Paul in Heb. 4:4, says, "For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works," &c. --Not the first, but the seventh day.
A few facts now, to show what those have to acknowledge who keep the first day.
In the Encyclopedia of Religious knowledge,--Article,
*Many say that the Jews only, observed the Sabbath; but this passage and others also, show us clearly, that the Gentiles observed the Sabbath.-- See Acts 18:4, on this point.
Sabbath--we read, "The Sabbath was appointed at the creation of the world, and sanctified, or set apart for holy purposes, "for man," for all men, and therefore for Christians; since there was never any repeal of the original institution. To this we add, that if the moral law be the law of Christians, then is the Sabbath as explicitly enjoined upon them as upon the Jews. But that the moral law is our law, as well as the law of the Jews, all but Antinomians must acknowledge; and few, we suppose, will be inclined to run into the fearful mazes of that error, in order to support lax notions as to the obligation of the Sabbath; into which, however, they must be plunged, if they deny the law of the decalogue to be binding."
In the Address to the "Lord's day Convention," holden in Baltimore in 1844,--of which John Quincy Adams was President,--we find this remark in recommending the observance of the Christian Sabbath:--"It is the law of God, co-eval with creation. It is one of the selected few of the ten commandments, that brief but comprehensive expression of His will."
By these extracts, we see that the fourth commandment is acknowledged to be now binding upon us. Oh! that men were consistent. Reader, will you be? God grant that you may.
On the title page of the "Second Advent Library, No. 38," written "by S. Bliss," on "The Chronology of the Bible," etc., we read thus:--
"One day is with the Lord as a
thousand years."--St. Peter.