תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

throng of saints and angels who will surround the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Is it, my friend, to be believed, that such analogies as those which have been mentioned, existing in the universe and in all its parts, in vegetable, animal, and spiritual life, can have arisen from mere accident, without any design or plan in the Divine Mind, to which were known all its works from the beginning of the world ? I must say that to me it is incredible.

The argument which Paley draws in his “Natural Theology," from "prospective contrivances,” seems to be applicable in the case before us. Those prospective contrivances argue design and plan, and thereby prove creation to be the work of an all-wise Agent. And, by a parity of reasoning, these analogies between nature and

grace, appear to me to afford complete demonstration of the Scripture doctrine, that the new creation is the work of a co-equal and co-eternal Trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead. The argument, if admitted, will be the best bulwark of the orthodox faith ;—an argument which cannot be assailed by the sophistry of verbal criticism, but which appeals to all the senses with which we are endowed. I shall now release you from this long letter by assuring you, that

I am truly yours,

LETTER VII.

THE INSTITUTION OF THE SABBATH.

MY DEAR FRIEND,

It is an affecting thought which the Psalmist has suggested when he says, that “Man walketh in a vain show, and disquieteth himself in vain.” There is an apparent substantiality in his visions of bliss, but they are all phantastic ; they arise but to disappoint him, for “the fashion of this world passeth away." The scene shifts; the pageantry quits the stage; and at length the curtain drops. “I have seen," said the celebrated Lord Bolingbrooke, “the silly round of business and pleasure, and have done with it all, I have enjoyed all the pleasures of the world, and consequently know their futility, and do not regret their loss. I appraise them at their real value, which is indeed very small; whereas those who have not experienced them, always overrate them. They only see their gay outside, and are dazzled with their glare : but I have been behind the scenes; I have seen all the coarse pullies and dirty ropes which exhibit and move the gaudy machine, and I have seen and smelt the tallow candles which illuminate the whole decoration to the astonishment and admiration of an ignorant multitude. When I reflect upon what I have seen, what I have heard, and what I have done, I can hardly persuade myself that all that frivolous hurry and bustle and pleasure of the world had any reality; but I look upon all that is past as one of those romantic dreams which opium commonly occasions; and I do by no means desire to repeat the nauseous dose for the sake of the fugitive dream.”

Such is the world in its present state, and such are the actors on its stage. But such it was not as it came from the hands of its blessed Maker; nor did he, whom God created to be its tenant and Lord, bear any resemblance of the Dramatis persona, who, in the preceding confession has described himself. And, blessed for ever be the name of Jehovah Aleim, that in the winding up of the grand spectacle of Providence, persons and things will be raised to a state of purity and excellence greater than that in which they were at first created; for “ we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell.”

The early prognostics of this final issue of the Divine purpose will be the subjects of this and the succeeding letter; and these we shall find in the Sabbath and Paradise of the state of innocence.

In the second verse of the second chapter of Genesis we are informed, that “on the seventh

day THE ALEIM ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made : and THE ALEIm blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his work which THE ALEIM created and made." Such is the account given of the origin of the Sabbath day, affording proof that it was intended for the observance and benefit of all the descendants of Adam through all their generations. The only reason for the enactment assigned in the fourth commandment, is drawn from the primary obligation, founded on the sanctification of the seventh day, as being that on which God rested from all his works; though a new sanction is afterwards given to its observance, founded on the Exodus from Egypt.* And though no mention is made of its observance by any of the antediluvian patriarchs, in the short memoirs of their history which Moses has furnished, unless Gen. iv. 3. be understood of the Sabbath ; yet we learn from Exod. xvi. 23,* that it was observed among the Israelites previously to the renewal of the Law from Mount Sinai ; and there is no reason to doubt that the seventh day had been kept holy by the faithful from the days of Adam to that era. A division of time into weeks, or periods of seven days, has been found to exist in almost every age and country in the world with which we have been made acquainted, and can only be accounted for on the supposition of a remote tradition of the grand week of the

* The learned Joseph Mede was of opinion, that the day to be observed as the Sabbath was altered in consequence

of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, and that the Christian Sabbath is held on the same day on which the patriarchs rested in commemoration of Creation. According to this view, (the arguments in support of it I must leave to the consideration of the reader, as they are stated in the author's 15th discourse, on Ezek. XX. 20.) the day on which the first and the new creations are commemo

morated, is the same. But Mr. Mede maintains that the grand point, enacted by the fourth commandment, is " the quotum of time, one day of seven, or the seventh day after six days' labour," to be set apart in acknowledgment that Jehovah is our God. He considers the observance of the Sabbath, now called the Lord's day, as the badge of our Christian profession. This, however, would not answer its moral purpose unless one day was fixed on, because it requires general concurrence at the same season: but provided this was secured, a change of the day at different periods might obviously be beneficial. Whether or not the Jews were directed to keep a different day from that which other nations might then retain from tradition, the appointment of the first day of the week for the use of all Christian nations, removed all ground of dispute between those which are antipodes to each other, one part of whom are sanctifying that day which to the other is Saturday. The Tehitians assemble for worship during our Saturday night.

passage is that on which Mr. Mede chiefly rests his idea of a change made in the day to be observed as the Sabbath. For he contends that, as the seventh day, preceding that on which the supply of manna was suspended, was a day on which the Israelites marched a long journey to the wilderness of Sin, and as all their removals were under Divine direction, that day could not have been a Sabbath. He asks,“ why might not their day of holy rest be altered, as well as the beginning of the

* This

« הקודםהמשך »