THE PRESENT TRUTH.
BY JAMES WHITE.
THE PRESENT TRUTH. VOL. 1.
- MIDDLETOWN, CONN, AUGUST, 1849. - NO. 2.
"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant." - Ps.xxv.14.
Scripture usually quoted to prove the abolition of the Sabbath, examined.
Col.ii:14-17, is also quoted to prove that the seventh-day Sabbath is abolished.
"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."
The hand-writing of ordinances that was nailed to the cross at the crucifixion of the Messiah, was the typical, ceremonial law of Moses, which was written by the hand of Moses in a book.
The crucifixion was the dividing line between the two dispensations. "In the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease." Dan.ix:27.
The first covenant which had "ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary," was a shadow of the second, and better covenant. The law was the shadow, and the Gospel is the body, that cast the shadow; and as all shadows reach to their body, and no farther, it is very clear that the sacrifices and oblations, new-moons, feast days, and Sabbaths of the Jewish law ceased, when the precious body and blood of the Lamb of God was sacrificed on the cross. This is what Paul calls "nailing it to his cross."
"Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new-moon, or of the Sabbath-days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
If we compare this text with Rom.xiv:3-6, we shall see that both refer to the same subject. Some regarded the Jewish Sabbaths, new-moons, and feast days, after they were abolished and nailed to the cross, and others did not. Paul would not have the Colossians judged by Judaizing teachers, in respect to those things that had ceased, according to the testimony of the Prophet.
"I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new-moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts." Hosea ii:11.
Now we will turn to Lev.xxiii:24-38. Here are four Jewish sabbaths. One on the first day of the seventh month, one on the tenth, one on the fifteenth, and one on the twenty-third day.
"These are the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations," "BESIDES THE SABBATHS OF THE LORD." Lev.xxiii:37,38.
The Sabbaths of the Lord our God, come every seventh day; but some of the Jewish convocation sabbaths were nine days apart, others not but four days between them. Here is a clear difference made between the two kinds of sabbaths. The Sabbath of the Lord, so called by way of distinction is not classed with the other sabbaths. The Jews were to observe their convocation sabbaths at their appointed time, "BESIDES THE SABBATHS OF THE LORD."
The Sabbath of the Lord our God was instituted at the creation, before the fall, when the earth and man were holy, and Eden bloomed on earth. The convocation sabbaths of the Jews were given at Mount Sinai, more than twenty-five hundred years after, and were a portion of the hand-writing of ordinances of the law of Moses, which was nailed to the cross, at the death of the Messiah.
The fact that some were teaching these Jewish customs to the Christian Church, and judging them in respect to them, drew the Apostle out to write as he has to the Galatians, Romans, and Colossians, upon this subject.
Now where is the proof that the Apostle refers to the weekly Sabbath in Col.ii:14-17? If there is any, let it be produced. I have no fears however in stating that there is no good evidence to be given, to prove that he refers to the Sabbath of the Lord our God; but there are many reasons (some of which I will give,) to show that he has no reference to it.
1st. That which was blotted out, and nailed to the cross, was the hand-writing of ordinances given by the HAND of Moses; but the Sabbath commandment was written with the FINGER of God. Moses wrote his law in a BOOK; but God wrote his ten laws, on TABLES OF STONE. It was the HAND-WRITING in the book of the covenant, that was blotted out at the death of Christ, and not that which was written on the two tables of the covenant with the finger of God. One was a faulty covenant imposed on the Jews until the time of reformation, or first advent of Jesus; the other is God's perpetual, everlasting covenant.
In order that we might be impressed with the perpetuity of the royal law, God engraved it on tables of stone. The idea of blotting out what Moses wrote in a book, is perfectly natural; but what idea can we have of blotting out what Jehovah has engraved, with his finger on tables of stone! The Apostle has taught us that it was the HAND-WRITING of ordinances that was blotted out, and nailed to the cross; therefore, he had no reference to the Sabbath law; for that, God has engraven in stones with his FINGER.
The Sabbath never was "against us;" but was made for the good of mankind in all ages. It was "made for man;" because he needed a day of rest from this world's labour, and care: he also needed the Sabbath-day to spend in the worship of God.
The Holy Sabbath never was in man's way, only as God put it in his way for him to keep; therefore he has not "taken it out of our way."
The law of Moses was imperfect. It could not "make the comers thereunto perfect;" therefore the first covenant which was faulty, "that was against us, which was contrary to us," and which was in the way, was taken out of the way, and nailed to the cross; and gave place to the new, and better covenant, of which Jesus Christ is a Priest.
God's everlasting covenant of commandments is a perfect law, by which we are to be judged; therefore God cannot give a better one, to take its place. See James i:25; ii:8-12.
"Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good." Rom.vii:12.
A law that is "holy," "just," and "good," and "spiritual," never is against, or contrary to man, or in his way but it is just what his wants require; therefore the Apostle has no reference to the Sabbath, or any of the commandments in God's holy, royal law of liberty.
Paul does not speak of "the Sabbath-day" which is associated with the other nine moral laws; but, the sabbath-days, which are associated with "meat," "drink," and "new-moons" in the ceremonial laws of Moses. Some object to this because the word days connected with sabbath is supplied by the translator. Here I will given a few lines from the pen of J. B. Cook, in his excellent "Testimony" published 1846, which read as follows - "Col.ii:16, does not speak of the Sabbath; but sabbaths - called in our version incorrectly sabbath-days, (days being supplied by the translator."
Some may still object to the word sabbaths, as J. B. Cook has changed his views on the Sabbath.
Then we will take Macknight's translation. He translates it Sabbaths; and if this does not satisfy the reader; then we will take Whiting's translation of the New Testament, recently published in Boston by Joshua V. Himes.
Whiting's translation reads "sabbaths;" which makes the text simple and plain.
4th. All that the Apostle has mentioned; such as new-moons, and sabbaths, were shadows, which ceased when they reached their body, at the introduction of the new covenant.
"Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." Col.ii:16.
But the Sabbath of the Lord our God is not a shadow; for it is to be perpetuated to all Eternity. See Isa.lxvi:22,23.
All flesh never have worshiped God on the Sabbath since Isaiah wrote this prophecy, neither will they till the righteous are all gathered into the New Earth; then the Sabbath will be observed as long as the immortal saints, and the New Heavens and Earth remain.
Mark this. The Sabbath was instituted in Eden, before the fall, when man was holy, and the earth was holy; and will be as much in its proper place after the restitution, as it was before the fall. It is not an ordinance given to restore fallen man to God; for it was given when man could talk face to face with God and Angels, in the Holy Garden.
All shadows cease when they reach the bodies which cast them. Follow the shadow of a tree to its body, and there the shadow ends. But the weekly Sabbath will never end; therefore it is not a shadow; but a body, as well as the other nine commandments. The ten commandments are of the same nature; and if one is a shadow, they are all shadows. How can we make swearing,, stealing, and killing, shadows? This we cannot do. Neither is there a man that can show that the Sabbath is a shadow.
I know that the old tradition is imprinted deeply in many minds that the seventh-day Sabbath is a type of the seventh thousand years. But where is the Scripture to prove it? It is not to be found.
But if any choose to hold on to this tradition, let them remember that all types, or shadows reach to their bodies; and admitting that the seventh thousand years is the body, and the seventh-day Sabbath the shadow; they are driven to the irresistible conclusion, that the seventh-day Sabbath was to continue the same until the seventh millennium.
The view that the Sabbath is a type of the seventh thousand years, and that it ceased at the crucifixion, makes a blank space of more than eighteen hundred years between the body and shadow, which is not in accordance with the system of types in the Bible, or with good sense.
Finally, the fact that the early Christians were troubled by those who were teaching them that they must observe the law of Moses in order to be saved, shows what Paul's subject was, and that he did not refer to the Sabbath; but to the shadows of Moses law, which began to reach their body when the new covenant was introduced by the death of Messiah.
2 Cor.iii:7-13, is also quoted to prove the abolition of the Sabbath; but it does not prove any such thing. I think all Bible readers will admit that the Apostle is here contrasting the ministration of the Jewish covenant with the ministration of the Gospel covenant.
God's law "written and engraven in stones" was to remain unchanged, as long as heaven and earth remain; but the MINISTRATION of it by the outward ceremonies of the law of Moses, was "done away," or "abolished" to give place to the better ministration of the same law by the Holy Ghost. The glory of the first covenant, represented by the glory of Moses' face, was to pass away, and to be swallowed up by the exceeding glory of the ministration of the Spirit.
The light of the moon is glorious, but when the sun rises in all its glory, the light of the moon is done away.
We may as well say there is no light, when the light of the moon is done away by the exceeding light of the sun, as to say there is no law, because the ministration of it under the first covenant is done away by the exceeding glory of the ministration of the Spirit.
Those who are resting on their mistaken views of these texts which I have examined, for the abolition of the Sabbath, are on a sandy foundation. Unless they haste to get off from it, and have their feet planted on the commandments of God, "the over flowing scourge" that is soon to "pass through," will sweep them away in ruin.
Evidence for the first day Sabbath examined.
Those who teach that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh to the first day, have but three or four texts to quote to sustain their first-day Sabbath position.
I design to show briefly, that Rev.i:10; Cor.xvi:2, and Acts xx:7, do not prove what they are said to prove.
"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day," Rev.i:10. The first day of the week is no where in Scripture called the Lord's day; but the seventh is. "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God." Ex.xx:10. God by Isaiah, calls the Sabbath "MY HOLY DAY." Isa.lviii:13. Therefore the beloved disciple was in holy vision on the seventh day.
"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." Cor.xvi:2.
In order for this text to prove what it is said to prove, it should read thus. Upon the first day of the week, when ye meet together for worship, let every one take with him, as God hath prospered him, to put into the contribution box. But I do not wish to alter the text, for the sake of following the Pope. Take the text as it reads, and no such thing as meeting together for worship is mentioned in it. St. Paul preached on the Sabbath, not only in the Jews' Synagogues; but by the "river side." See Acts xvi:13. He preached at Corinth 78 Sabbaths in succession. The Apostle would not have the Sabbath desecrated by the clink of mammon's box; therefore he chose the first labouring day in the week for the Church in Corinth, and the Churches in Galatia, to "LAY BY THEM," at their homes, for the poor saints at Jerusalem.
Acts xx:7, is the only place in Scripture in which the first day of the week is connected with public worship. But the object of that meeting was not to keep the first day as a Sabbath, for they met in the evening to break bread. Paul preached to them on the Sabbath, which closed at 6 o'clock P. M., then in the evening, which commenced the first day, the disciples came together to celebrate the Lord's supper, and Paul preached all night. We follow this example of the disciples, and break bread in the evening of the first day just after the close of the Sabbath.
Jesus did not spend the first day of the week in meeting with his disciples. On the day of his resurrection he walked to Emmaus, and did not meet with them until evening. After eight days, which would reach to Monday night, Jesus appeared to his disciples in like manner. Our Master and Pattern has not, by precept or example taught that the first day of the week should be observed as a holy day or Sabbath, any more than the other five working days; neither have the Apostles. The change from the seventh to the first day, was effected by the power of the little horn, who thought "to change times and laws." Dan.vii:25.
Here I will give some extracts from "Sabbath tract" No. 4, published by the "New York Sabbath tract society," which gives the history of the change.
Early in the seventh century, in the time of Pope Gregory I, the subject to the Sabbath attracted considerable attention. There was one class of persons who declared, "that it was not lawful to do any manner of work upon the Saturday, or the old Sabbath; another that no man ought to bathe himself on the Lord's day, or their new Sabbath."* Against both of these doctrines Pope Gregory wrote a letter to the Roman citizens. Baronius, in his Councils, says. "This year (603) at Rome, St. Gregory, the Pope, corrected that error which some preached, by Jewish superstition, or the Grecian custom, that it was a duty to worship on the Sabbath, as likewise upon the dominical days; and he calls such preachers the preachers of Antichrist."
According to Lucius, Pope Urban II., in the eleventh century, dedicated the Sabbath of the Virgin Mary, with a mass.+ Binius says, "Pope Innocent I. constituted a fast on the Sabbath day, which seems to be the first constitution of that fast; but dedicating the Sabbath to the Virgin Mary was by Urban II. in the latter part of the eleventh century."++
The observance of the first day was not so early in England and in Scotland as in most other parts of the Roman Empire. According to Heylyn, there were Christian societies established in Scotland as early as A. D. 435; and it is supposed that the gospel was preached in England in the first century by St. Paul. For many ages after Christianity was received in these kingdoms, they paid no respect to the first day. Binius, a Catholic writer, in the second volume of his works, gives some account of the bringing into use the Dominical day [Sunday] in Scotland, as late as A. D. 1203. "This year," he says, "a council was held in Scotland concerning the introduction of the Lord's day, which council was held in 1203, in the time of Pope Innocent III.," and quotes as his authority Roger Hoveden, Matth, Paris, and Lucius' Eccl. Hist. He says, "By this council it was enacted that it should be holy time from the twelfth hour on Saturday noon until Monday."
Binius says that in A. D. 1201, Eustachius, Abbot of Flay, came to England, and therein preached from city to city, and from place to place. He prohibited using markets on Dominical days; for he said that this command underwritten concerning the observation of the Dominical day, came from heaven. The history of this singular epistle, entitled, A holy command of the Dominical day, the pious Abbot stated to be this: "It came from Heaven to Jerusalem, and was found on St. Simon's tomb in Golgotha. And the Lord commanded this epistle, which for three days and three nights men looked upon, and falling to the earth, prayed for God's mercy. And after the third hour, the patriarch stood up; and Akarias the archbishop stretched out his mitre, and they took the holy epistle of God and found it thus written."
[We will give some extracts from this epistle, partly as a matter of curiosity, and partly to show the credulity of our ancestors, and by what means they were awed into what was to them a new religious observation.]
"I, the Lord, who commanded you that ye should observe the Dominical day, and ye have not kept it, and ye have not repented of your sins, as I said by my gospel, heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away; I have caused repentance unto life to be preached unto you, and ye have not believed; I sent pagans against you, who shed your blood, yet ye believe not: and because ye kept not the Dominical day, for a few days ye had famine: but I soon gave you plenty, and afterwards ye did worse: I will again, that none from the ninth hour of the Sabbath until the rising of the sun on Monday, do work any thing unless what is good, which if any do, let him amend by repentance; and if ye be not obedient to this command, Amen, I say unto you, and I swear unto you by my seat, and throne, and cherubim, who keep my holy seat, because I will not change any thing by another epistle; but I will open the heavens, and for rain I will rain upon you stones, and logs of wood, and hot water by night, and none may be able to prevent, but that I may destroy all wicked men. This I say unto you, ye shall die the death, because of the Dominical holy day, and other festivals of my saints which ye have not kept. I will send unto you beasts having the heads of lions, the hair of women, and tails of camels; and they shall be so hunger-starved that they shall devour your flesh, and ye shall desire to flee to the sepulchres of the dead and hide you for fear of the beasts; and I will take away the light of the sun from your eyes; and I will send upon you darkness, that without seeing, ye may kill one another; and I will take away my face from you, and will not show you mercy; for I will burn your bodies and hearts of all who keep not the Dominical holy day. Hear my voice, lest ye perish in the land because of the Dominical holy day. Now know ye, that ye are safe by the prayers of my most holy mother Mary, and of my holy angels who daily pray for you.
Provided with this new command from heaven, "Eustachius preached in various parts of England against the transgression of the Dominical day, and other festivals; and gave the people absolution upon condition that they hereafter
* Dr. Peter Heylyn's Hist. Sab. part 2, p.135.
+ Eccl. Hist. p.29.
++ Bampfield's Enq. p.101.
reverence the Dominical day, and the festivals of the saints." The time appointed as holy, was from the ninth hour on the Sabbath until Monday morning at sunrise. And the people vowed to God, that hereafter they would neither buy nor sell any thing but food on Sunday.
"Then," says Binius, "the enemy of man envying the admonitions of this holy man, put it into the heart of the king and nobility of England, to command that all who should keep the aforesaid traditions, and chiefly all who had cast down the markets for things vendible upon the Dominical day, should be brought to the king's court to make satisfaction about observing the Dominical day." Binius relates many miraculous things that occurred on the Sabbath to those that labored after the ninth hour - i.e. after three o'clock in the afternoon of the seventh day, or Saturday. He says, upon a certain Sabbath, after the ninth hour, a carpenter, for making a wooden pin, was struck with the palsy; and a woman, for knitting on the Sabbath, after the ninth hour, was also struck with the palsy. A man baked bread, and when he broke it to eat, blood came out. Another grinding corn, blood came in a great stream instead of meal, while the wheel of his mill stood still against a vehement impulse of water. Heated ovens refused to bake bread, if heated after the ninth hour of the Sabbath; and dough left unbaked, out of respect to Eustachius's new doctrine, was found on Monday morning well baked without the aid of fire. These fables were industriously propagated throughout the kingdom; "yet the people," says Binius, "fearing kingly and human power, more than divine, returned as a dog to his own vomit, to keep markets of saleable things upon the Dominical day."
Mr. Bampfield says,* "The king and princes of England, in 1203, would not agree to change the Sabbath, and keep the first day, by this authority. This was in the time of King John, against whom the popish clergy had a great pique for not honoring their prelacy and the monks, by one of whom he was finally poisoned."
The parliament of England met on Sundays until the time of Richard II., who adjourned it from that to the following day.
In A. D. 1203, "A council was held in Scotland to inaugurate the king, and [concerning] the feast of the Sabbath: and there came also a legate from the Pope, with a sword and purple hat, indulgences and privileges to the young king. It was also there decreed, that Saturday, from the twelfth hour at noon, should be holy."+ The Magdeburgenses say, this Council was about the observation of the Dominical day newly brought in, and that they ordained that it should be holy from the twelfth hour of Saturday even till Monday.++
The first law of England made for the keeping of Sunday, was in the time of Edward VI, about 1470. "Parliament then passed an act, by which Sunday and many holy days, the feasts of all Saints, of holy Innocents, were established as festivals by law. This provided also, that it should be lawful for husbandmen, laborers, fishermen, and all others in harvest, or any other time of the year when necessity should require, to labor, ride, fish, or do any other kind of work, at their own free will and pleasure, upon any of the said days."||
By such means as these, the observation of the first day was gradually but forcibly urged upon the people, wherever they owned allegiance to the Pope as head of the church, and in England and Scotland, as late as the thirteenth century, and the Sabbath was as gradually brought into contempt and disuse.
As the Sabbath was made for man; for the whole race of mankind; and as man has needed all its blessings ever since it was first instituted in Eden; it is reasonable to conclude that God designed that it should be observed as strictly in one dispensation, as in another. I cannot see any reasons why the Jew should keep it any more strictly, than the Christian.
I design to show that there is a perfect harmony in all the Scripture testimony of both Testaments, in relation to the observance of the Holy Sabbath. The fourth commandment in the decalogue is the great Sabbath law. It is the standard to which all other Scripture testimony relating to the Sabbath should be brought, and carefully compared.
"Remember the sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, 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 the stranger that is within thy gates." Ex.xx:8-10.
The great God appointed six days for man to labor, and do ALL HIS work necessary for a livelihood; but the seventh day he designed for man to rest from this world's toil and labor, and engage in the service of his Creator. Such acts of mercy and necessity, as alleviating the distressed, either man or beast; healing the sick, and eating when hungry on the Sabbath, are no where in the Bible forbidden by God; and are no violation of the Sabbath law in the decalogue.
I know that some say that we cannot keep the Sabbath, as it is given in the Old Testament; but this is like most of the false assertions made by those who oppose the true Sabbath. I am not ready to admit that God has given us a law, that we cannot keep. I dare not charge him with such injustice. The commandments of our holy and just God, are not grievous, but joyous to those who keep them. Those who followed Jesus from Galilee, saw his body put in Joseph's new tomb, then returned "and rested on the Sabbath according to the COMMANDMENT." See Luke xxiii:54-56. They could keep the Sabbath according to the law of God, after the ceremonial law was abolished, and so can we.
* Enq. p.111.
+ Boethus, B. 13, of Scotland, p.788, Bamp. Enq.114.
|| Bamp. p.118.
Jesus stripped off the traditions with which the blind Jew had covered the Sabbath, and left it naked, resting on its own Eternal basis, the fourth commandment. The Lord of the Sabbath-day kept his Father's commandments; therefore, he and his disciples kept the Sabbath according to the fourth commandment. Mark this. Jesus and his disciples even kept the law of Moses until the crucifixion; so all must see the folly of those who teach that they departed from the letter of the Sabbath law!
"The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All, therefore, whatsoever they bid you observe, that OBSERVE and DO: but do not ye after their works: for they say and do not. Matt.xxiii:2,3.
Jesus taught his disciples to observe and do, even the law of Moses. His last meeting with them, before he nailed it to his cross, was to keep the passover. How absurd then, is the view which some are teaching, that Jesus and his disciples departed from the letter of the Sabbath law, written on stones with the finger of Jehovah!!
The wicked Pharisees charged the disciples with departing from the letter of the Sabbath law, when they plucked the ears of corn, and ate to satisfy present hunger; but Jesus proved to them on the ground, that it was a false charge. He referred them to what David did when he was hungry; also to the Priests in the Temple who were blameless. The law of Moses required the Priests to offer sacrifices on the Sabbath.
"And on the Sabbath-day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth-deals of flour for a meat-offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt-offering of every sabbath, beside the continual burnt-offering, and his drink-offering." Num.xxviii:9,10.
The Priests then had to labor on the Sabbath; but it was no violation of the Sabbath law; for it was not that kind of labor prohibited in the fourth commandment. The law that came by Moses, did not compel the Priests to violate the law written by the finger of God. "Six days shalt thou labor and do all THY work." Man was to attend to his own work during the six days; then rest from HIS work on the seventh, and labor for God, who never designed that we should become stationary, and inactive on his Sabbath. The words "labor," and "work," in the fourth commandment, must be thus explained, to clear the Priests in the Temple.
Eating on the Sabbath when hungry, is no where forbidden in the Bible. Jesus and his disciples were on their way to the synagogue, when the disciples plucked and ate the corn; and it was as lawful to eat that, when hungry on the Sabbath, as any food. According to the law of Moses they had a right to pluck the ears of corn with their hands, and eat.
"When thou comest into the standing-corn of thy neighbor, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand: but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbor's stand-corn." Deut.xxiii:25.
Jesus never admitted that he, or his disciples departed from the letter of the Sabbath law. No, never; but always proved to his accusers, that what they did on the Sabbath was lawful, or in strict accordance with the Sabbath law. On this ground, and no other, were they GUILTLESS. *"But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have MERCY, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." Matt.xii:7.
If they had known that acts of mercy and necessity, such as eating when hungry, and healing the sick on the Sabbath, were lawful, they would never have falsely charged the holy followers of Jesus with Sabbath-breaking.
Now who are ready to take their stand with the wicked Pharisee, and charge the disciples, and their holy Master, who said he had kept his Father's commandments, with departing from the letter of the fourth commandment? The very thought of such a thing seems awful! Rather let my right hand wither, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, than to write, and speak, such a sentiment to the precious, waiting flock.
"And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath-days? that they might accuse him. And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the Sabbath-day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is LAWFUL to do well on the Sabbath-days." Matt.xii:10-12.
The word lawful, signifies agreeably to law. In this text it means agreeably to the Sabbath law. Mark this: Jesus did not give them a new Sabbath law, nor intimate that the Sabbath law was to be RELAXED, or changed; but he exposed their hypocracy, in charging him with Sabbath-breaking, for healing the sick, when at the same time they would relieve a dumb beast on the Sabbath. "How much then is a man better than a sheep?" He also taught them that such acts of mercy as to lift a sheep out of a pit, and healing the sick on the Sabbath, was doing well, and according to the Sabbath law. "Wherefore it is LAWFUL to do WELL on the sabbath-days."
"And Jesus answering, spake unto the lawyers and pharisees, saying, Is it LAWFUL to heal on the Sabbath-days? And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go: 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? AND THEY COULD NOT ANSWER HIM AGAIN TO THESE THINGS." Luke xiv:3-6.
Here again Jesus referred the lawyers and Pharisees to the Sabbath law, and with it he closed their mouths, so that they could not answer him. If he had intimated that the Sabbath law was to be relaxed, and he had a right to depart from its letter, they would have railed on him; but instead of this, he appealed to the letter of the law, and their manner of observing it, and proved to them that what he had done was LAWFUL.
When Jesus healed the daughter of Abraham, the ruler of the synagogue was filled with indignation, and said unto the people, "There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath-day. 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?" Luke xiii:11-17.
This reply from the Saviour silenced the ruler of the synagogue, and put all his adversaries to shame; "and all the people rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by him." They were all convinced that it was LAWFUL and right for Jesus to heal on the Sabbath, or they would not have REJOICED.
We are sometimes referred to the case of the impotent man who was healed, and took up his bed and walked on the Sabbath, at the command of Jesus. It is said that he carried a burden; therefore he, and his Master, who said to him, "Rise, take up thy bed and walk," broke the Sabbath. It is true that God by Jeremiah, forbid the Jews carrying burdens in or out of the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath. He also promised them if they would diligently hearken unto him, and bring no burden through the gates of the city on the Sabbath-day; but hallow the Sabbath-day, to do no work therein, that their city should remain FOREVER. Jer.xvii:19-25. Jeremiah has not shown us so definitely what kind of burdens are forbidden as Nehemiah.
"In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine-presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and loading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath-day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals." Neh.xiii:15.
Here Nehemiah has shown us that it is burdens of merchandise, that were brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath, that God has forbidden to be borne on the Sabbath. Now let the reader compare carrying burdens of merchandise to market to sell for worldly gain, with the healed impotent man with his bed, praising God, and the difference will be seen. One was laborious, and for worldly gain: the other was for the glory of God. One was a violation of the fourth commandment; but the other was an act of mercy, which manifested the mighty power of God. It was doing well on the Sabbath; therefore it was lawful. I fear I shall weary those who understand the Sabbath question, with this lengthy article. My object in being so particular, is to spread out the whole truth before those who have not carefully investigated this glorious, harmonious subject.
I will notice two more objections to the true Sabbath, and leave this subject for the present. One objection is, that the Jews were forbidden by God to kindle fires on the Sabbath: and if we keep it as strictly as they did, we cannot kindle a fire on the Sabbath. If we look at this objection in its true light, the difficulty will all vanish. This direction concerning kindling fires on the Sabbath, was given to Israel in the wilderness, when God was feeding them with manna from heaven. They were a strong, healthy people in a mild climate. Their clothes were miraculously preserved, and their food was given them from heaven. God told them to cook their manna on the sixth day; therefore they had no use for a fire on the Sabbath. If they had kindled fires to cook their manna, or to wash their clothes on the Sabbath, it would have been a plain violation of the fourth commandment, as it was the work which God designed for the six days. We are differently situated. Our constitutions and climate are such, that we need the heat of a fire a portion of the year to keep us suitably warm. We kindle a fire on the Sabbath a portion of the year, as an act of mercy, and necessity, the same as we would water an ox or a horse, or lift a sheep out of a pit; therefore it is lawful and right. But it is as wrong to kindle fires now, in the mild portion of the year, to cook our food on the Sabbath, which may be cooked on the sixth day, as it was for the Jews. The sixth day is the preparation day, and if we neglect any of the work of this day, and do it on the seventh, we desecrate the Holy Sabbath. The Sabbath law forbids our doing on the seventh day, that which can be done on the sixth; but acts of mercy and necessity, which cannot be done on the sixth day are lawful on the Sabbath. A reasonable, and Scriptural observance of the Sabbath law will not freeze us, nor starve us; for the law is "HOLY," "JUST," and "GOOD."
The other objection to the true Sabbath which I will here mention, is the case of the man that was stoned to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. We are not told what kind of sticks he gathered, nor to what use he intended them; but the best inference is, that he gathered them for fuel to make a fire to bake and seethe their manna. God said to them by Moses, "To-morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord; bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe."
As they were to do all their cooking on the sixth day, this man in gathering fuel on the Sabbath was certainly doing the work of the sixth day, on the seventh, and was violating the fourth commandment.
"Abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." Ex.xvi:29.
It was a violation of the express orders of Jehovah, for them to go out into the field to gather manna, or fuel on the Sabbath. It was doing on the seventh day the work of the sixth, and was a bold transgression of the Sabbath law, written with the finger of God. It was as wrong for them to gather sticks for fuel on the Sabbath, as it would be for us to chop and draw wood on God's holy day. If we should do this, all the world would unite in saying that we had broken the fourth commandment. Some will almost stone us now, for doing such things on the first day of the week, the Pope's Sabbath.
The children of Israel while in the wilderness were not to go out of their places on the Sabbath to gather manna, or do any other work which should have been done on the sixth day; but after this they did go out of their places on the Sabbath; not to do servile work, but to worship God. The Jews had what they called a Sabbath-day's journey, and certainly they had to go out of their places, or dwelling to walk about one mile.
The wages or penalty of transgressing the law of God was, and still is, Eternal Death. "For the wages of sin is DEATH." Rom.vi:23. And "sin is the transgression of the law." 1John iii:4.
During the ministration of the law of God by Moses, the wilful transgressor was immediately stoned to death: but under the ministration of God's law by Jesus Christ, it is long-suffering and tender mercy. In this better dispensation, God for Jesus' sake spares the life of the transgressor that he may turn and keep the law of God, and find pardon through Jesus Christ, and live. During the time of the first covenant, which was faulty, stern justice cut the transgressor down; but since Jesus has been our only sacrifice and Priest, MERCY, the excellency and glory of the better covenant, has interposed, and given the transgressor of the holy law of God a chance to repent of his sin, and find a full and free pardon of all his sins, through the precious blood of Jesus.
The Gospel never required that a man should be stoned to death for stealing, or swearing. No, never; still this does not prove that there is no law for stealing and swearing. "Where no law is there is no transgression." Rom.iv:15. If there is no law for keeping the Sabbath, stealing, and swearing, because the Gospel does not require that the transgressor should be stoned, then men may steal, swear, and desecrate the Holy Sabbath, and be pure in the sight of God; for "WHERE NO LAW IS, THERE IS NO TRANSGRESSION." The full, and final penalty of the law of God is not done away - no, no. This, and also the law, the transgressor will meet in the judgment. Those who were stoned to death under the first covenant will also meet the final penalty there. Dear reader, be not deceived by those who oppose the true Sabbath. Their poor objections will all vanish, when held up to the light of Bible truth. Be not turned away from this harmonious present truth by their fables.