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Reflections upon the SABBATH DAY, dictated by the author upon the ninth day of June, one thousand eight hundred and eleven, being LORD'S DAY, and lacking only nine days of twenty months from the commencement of his melancholy and debilitating confinement.
MUCH is said in the sacred volume of the number seven. It is a | perfect number. It takes in the whole of creation of labour and of rest: for though the Almighty could not, as a Creator, be weary, yet it is said that on his finishing the work of creation, and finding it all good, very good, not admitting of addition, the faithful Creator rested from all his work, and hallowed the seventh day. It was an holy day: it was a sign between God the Creator, and man the created.
It appears to me, that neither Jew nor Gentile have allowed sufficient weight to this sign. There is no sign more frequently, nor more solemnly spoken of in the book of God; and the people of God, during their first residence in the possession given to them, and to their children, seemed to be fully sensible of this truth, in the letter at least, if not in the spirit. Of the genuine spirit of this sacred sign, they never could be made sensible, without the teaching of that spirit, which exhibits to the understanding, him who is the glorious substance of this expressive figure.
The Sabbath is first mentioned in the book of Exodus, xx. 8-11, "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 man servant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and rested the seventh day wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." VOL. III.
Six days shalt thou labour; this may be a permission, or a command, perhaps the former; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God. We are told that God blessed the Sabbath day, ordained it a day of blessing to the people, and to himself. It was to be an holy day; but it is observable that on these holy days the people who kept them were to do no work. They did not therefore render the day holy by any work of theirs, nor did the Creator render the work holy by any work of his; for his works were finished, all perfectly finished, all pronounced by the God who made them, good, very good, needing no addition from God nor man. This day then was set apart for rest, and, that God's people may have leisure to contemplate with holy wonder, the finished works of Omnipotence, they are called upon to cease from every thing that could allure them from devout and appropriate contemplation.
But in the sacred book of God, we are frequently reminded that this Sabbath was a sign between God and his people, and those who are acquainted with this precious book, and with this sabbatical sign, will view the holy symbol with devout gratitude and never ending admiration.
Our Apostle was blest with an acquaintance with the sacred oracles of God, and with this sabbatical sign; and being led by the grace of God to the substance of this symbol, he was anxious to bring his brethren and his kinsfolks, into the knowledge of the same glorious truth, which so effectually irradiated I is own understanding. A recurrence to the fourth chapter of Paul's Epistle to his Hebrew brethren, will furnish a striking illustration of this subject. Thus the man of Tarsus expresses himself, "Let us therefore, fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, as I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest, although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 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. And in this place, again, if they shall enter into my rest. Seeing, therefore, it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief. Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, to-day, after so long a time, as it is said, to-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not
your hearts; for if Jesus had given them rest, then would he
not afterwards have spoken of another day.
For he that is entered own works, as God did
Such was the use made by this well instructed scribe of this symbol, and indeed every one who is taught of God will see that this grand figure pointed to Jesus. ¡ Jesus Christ is that day star, i in which his people will, and do rejoice, in which they cease from their labours, as God did from his. Yea, they are exceeding glad therein. Jesus is emphatically the day of the LORD; he is the light of the world; he it is who is the day of salvation. There is salvation in no other name. 2 Corinthians, vi. 2, "For he saith I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation.”
God in the beginning made two great lights, the one to rule the day, and the other to rule the night; he made the stars also. And the holy spirit assures us, these luminaries were made not only for seasons, but for signs; and this ruler of the day is truly a very striking, significant sign. This luminous sign was manifested on the fourth day of creation; and the transcendent substance of this sign was manifested on the fourth day of time; for a thousand years are in the sight of God as one day; so saith the oracles of truth, and Christ Jesus was born on the fourth thousand year of the world. When the orient beams of day break from the chambers of the east, how beautifully glorious is the sign: But when, by an eye of faith, we catch a glimpse of the divine substance of this sign, when we behold the sun of righteousness rising with healing under his wings, how do our souls rejoice. How do our spirits magnify the LORD. The day of the LORD is indeed a day of emancipation, a day of rest. We repeat, and we delight to repeat, Christ Jesus is the day star, the star of Bethlehem. It is this splendid day star of which the Apostle Peter speaks, in his second General Epistle, i. 19, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."
How unclouded is our holy day, the day of the LORD, the true light that lighteneth every man that cometh into the world. O
ye highly favoured children of men, it cannot be matter of wonder that the angels desire to look into this mystery. To those bright inhabitants of the upper world, it must indeed be profoundly mysterious to behold their sovereign, as our Saviour, wrapt in flesh!! Great, astonishingly great, is the mystery of Godliness! God manifested in the flesh! in other words, The true light, dwelling in the darkness, and the darkness comprehending it not, yet the true light comprehendeth the darkness.
But they who were sometimes darkness, are now light in the LORD; with strict propriety, therefore, are God's children, the children of light, exhorted to walk in the light; blessed are they who walk in the light, they stumble not as those who walk in the darkness; who have no knowledge of this light of the world, who have never yet put on the LORD Jesus, and who of course cannot walk in him, who cannot rest in him, in him who is truly our rest, which rest is glorious.
In this state, however, this rest is broken; but in this rest we are destined to enjoy, more than faith can imagine. What though in this dark distempered state, we see through a glass darkly, yet let us keep our eyes steadfastly fixed on this light of life, on this light which is indeed our life, the true light, the unequivocal sign of the love of God!
But we hear of Sabbaths in the plural; undoubtedly we do, and all those Sabbaths are good, or they would not be given for signs. I am peculiarly delighted with the last sabbatical sign, the yearly sign. How good is our God to indulge us with weekly signs, with monthly signs, and with yearly signs; that we may never forget his loving kindness. What a soul transporting sound, must the sound of the trumpet, mentioned in Leviticus have been? surely, the most rapturous, the most exhilerating that ever vibrated on the mortal ear; it can only be surpassed by that last trumpet which is destined to raise the dead. I am charmed by the commencement of a hymn, which I have a thousand times repeated.
"Blow ye the trumpet, blow,
The year of Jubilee is come,
But the trumpet was to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month. What a divine figure, the tenth and the seventh! these are both considered as perfect numbers. The kingdom of heaven was likened unto ten virgins. Seven days comprized the whole of creation, and rest; the fulness of the Creator, and created. Seven and three are ten; what is the three? There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the word, and the spirit. These three complete the ten; thus the divine and the human nature constitute a perfect whole. It was on the day of atonement the trumpet was to sound. It was to sound throughout the whole land, proclaiming liberty, divine liberty to the whole of Emmanuel's land, and, as the sons of Israel were so well acquainted with the letter of this symbolic institution, what strong emotions must have struggled in their enraptured bosoms, when the glorious sound of the emancipating trumpet broke upon their ears. Especially those desolate beings enchained by servitude, and kept out of their hereditary possessions: how did their harassed, woe worn souls, leap for joy: what elevation of spirit, what universal agitation. Is there a heart which is not lifted with divine enthusiasm, is there a bosom which doth not swell with immeasurable transport at beholding the Redeemer enter the synagogue, at seeing him receive the book,at hearing him read? and when we trace his selection to the prophecy of Isaiah lxi. 1,2, "The spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captive, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn." And chapter lxiii. verse 4, "For the day of vengeance is in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. Jeremiah, xxxiv. 8, 9, "This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people that were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them. That every man should let his man servant, and every man his maid servant being an Hebrew, or an Hebrewess, go free; that none should serve himself, to wit, of a Jew his brother." John viii. 35, 36, "And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the son abideth ever. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." Ephesians iii. 14, 15, "For this cause I bow