Part 1: The Morality of the Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment

James Durham

The Fourth Commandment

Part 1: The Morality of the Fourth Commandment

Copyright © 1997 Naphtali Press

1. THE MORALITY OF THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT.

I. Our assertion then in reference to this, is that the duty of setting apart and sanctifying of a portion of time, as it is limited in the fourth command, for God’s service as it recurs, is moral, and the obligation thereunto perpetual, even as in the duties of the other commands, the obligation to this being no more dissolved than to those, though there may be difference in the degree of the obligation which they lay on in respect of the matter contained in them. My meaning in a word, is that a day, or one of seven, is as necessary to be kept holy unto God now (upon supposition of his determining the particular day), as it is necessary to hold and keep up the worship prescribed by God. Neither without sin can another duty be put in the room of it, more than other worship can be substituted in the place of divinely prescribed worship; for the time is set and fixed by the fourth command (pointing at a solemn and chief time) as the worship itself is by the second.

For clearing of this consider:

1. That we mean not here moral-natural, as if without any positive law such a thing had been binding. No, but moral-positive, that is laid on by a command which is standing unrepealed, and so binds by virtue of the authority of the lawgiver, as several other commands and precepts do; as namely, those concerning sacraments belonging to the second command, and those concerning one wife, and forbidden desires of marriage belonging to the seventh; which being so often broken by many saints, and dispensed with in some cases, cannot be thought to be morally-natural since the Lord dispenses not so in these; nor can it be thought in reason that his servants would have been ignorant of such a natural thing. It is then moral-positive that we mean, to wit, that which is binding by a positive law.

2. Consider in this question, that there is a great difference between these two, to say the seventh day Sabbath which the Jews kept, is moral, and to say the fourth command is moral. The one may be, and is abolished, because another is brought in its room. The other, to wit the command, may stand, and does stand, because it ties morally to a seventh day, but such a seventh day as the Lord should successively discover to be chosen by him; and though the seventh is changed, yet one of seven is still reserved.

3. There is need to distinguish between the moral substance of a command, and some ceremonial appendices belonging to it. So the fourth command might then possibly have had something ceremonial in that seventh day, or in the manner used of sanctifying that seventh day which now is gone, as double sacrifices, etc., or in its reasons whereby it is pressed (as there is something peculiar to that people in the preface, to all the commands), as there was in the sacraments of the old law belonging to the second command. Yet both a Sabbath day and sacraments may be, and are very necessary and moral in the Church. It is not then everything hinging on this command, as proper to that administration, and so but accidental to the sanctifying of a Sabbath, that we plead for; but this is it we plead for, that the command is as to its main scope, matter, and substance, moral-positive, and that it stands as still binding and obliging unto us, and cannot without sin be neglected or omitted.

It might be enough here to say, that if this command were never repealed in the substance of it, nor did ever expire by any other thing succeeding in its place, then it must [necessarily] be still binding. For certainly it was once as obligatory, proclaimed by the law-giver himself, and was never since in its substance repealed, nor is it expired or found hurtful in its nature, but is as necessary now as then. It is true, the seventh day Sabbath is repealed by instituting and substituting the first day Sabbath, or Lord’s Day, in its place; but that does rather qualify the command than repeal it. For (1), it says that a day is moral and necessary. (2) It says a day of seven is moral and necessary, which is all we say. And why necessary? As agreeable to this command no doubt; whence we may argue, if the substance of this command is kept even when the particular day is changed, then is the command moral (which this very change confirms); but the former is true, as is clear in experience. Therefore it follows that the law stands unrepealed. For it’s palpable that the day, as to its number or frequency, and duration, with the manner of sanctifying of it, belongs to the substance of the commandment, but what day as to its order, first, second, or seventh does not, because the first comes in immediately upon religion, God’s honor, and the good of souls, which the other does not. This argument will stand good against all who acknowledge this law to have been once given by God till they can evidence a repeal.

To speak somewhat more particularly to this, the way we shall make out the morality of it, is by considering, 1. How the Scripture speaks of it in general. 2. How it speaks of the Decalogue. 3. How it speaks of this command in particular. 4. By adducing some scriptural arguments for it.

1. As for the first, to wit, the Scriptures speaking of it in general, we say, if the Scriptures speak as frequently in clearing the fourth command, or the Sabbath (which is the morality of it) and press it as seriously, and that in reference to all times of the Church, as it does any other moral duty; then for substance this command is moral and perpetually binding (for that seems to be the character whereby most safely to conclude concerning a command, to consider how the Scripture speaks of it). But the Scripture does as often mention, and is as much, and as serious in pressing of that command, and that in reference to all states of the Church as of any other, Ergo, etc. We shall make this out by showing (1) its frequency in mentioning of it; (2) its seriousness in pressing it; (3) its asserting of it as belonging to all times and states of the Church.

(1) Look through all the Scriptures, and you will find the sanctifying of a Sabbath mentioned. As first, Gen. 2 begins with the very first seventh after the creation. Then it is spoken of [in] Ex. 16 before the law was given. Then [in] Ex. 20 it is contained expressly in the law, and that by a particular and special command in the first table thereof, and is often after repeated. [In] Ex. 31 and Lev. 23:3 where it is set down as the first feast before all the extraordinary ones; which preference can be no other reason, but because of its perpetuity. Yea, it is made a rule or pattern by which the extraordinary Sabbaths or feasts in their sanctification are to be regulated. Again it is repeated (Deut. 5) with the rest of the commands, and in the historical part of Scripture, as Nehemiah (9:13). It is also mentioned in the Psalms, the 92nd Psalm being peculiarly entitled a Psalm or song for the Sabbath day. The prophets again do not forget it (see Isa. 56:58; Jer. 17; Ezek. 20:22). In the New Testament the sanctifying of a day or Sabbath is mentioned in the evangelists (Matt. 24:20; Luke 23:56; Acts 13:14, 15, 21; 20:7); in the Epistles (as 1 Cor. 16), and in the Revelation (Rev. 1:10), as if all had purposely concurred for making out the concernment and perpetuity of this duty.

(2) Consider how weightily, seriously and pressingly, the Scripture speaks of it. [1] First it is spoken of in Gen. 2 as backed with a reason. [2] Through the law the sanctification of it in particular is described. [3] It is spoken of as a mercy and singular privilege that God gave to his people (Ex. 16:29, Neh. 9:14; Ezek. 20:12). [4] Many promises containing many blessings are made to the conscientious and right keepers of it (Isa. 56:58). [5] The breach of it is severely threatened and plagued (Num. 15; Neh. 13; Jer. 17; Ezek. 20). [6] Many examples of the godly, their care in keeping it are set down (see Neh. 13; Luke 23:56; Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10). [7] The duties of it are particularly set down, as hearing, praying, reading, delighting in God, works of mercy, etc. [8] It is in the Old Testament, claimed by God as his own day, not ours (My holy day, Isa. 58:13; Neh. 9:14). It is acknowledged by the people to be his wholly; they say Thine holy Sabbath, which property is asserted of that holy day, as being God’s, besides other days (Rev. 1:10). And this is asserted also in this same command, where it is called the Sabbath of the Lord, in opposition to, or contradistinction from, the other six days. All which seems to speak out something more than temporary in this duty of setting a seventh day apart for God (for we speak not yet of the particular day).

(3) Look to it in all times and states of the Church, and you will find it remarkably characterized with a special observation. As [1], in innocency it’s instituted and set apart from others, and blessed. And (Heb. 4) it is called the rest from the beginning of the world. [2] Before the law was given, the sanctification of it was intimated as necessary. [3] In the giving of the law it is remembered, and a command given to us for remembering it. [4] After the law, it is urged by the Prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, and kept by the godly (Ps. 92). [5] In the time, or after the time of the captivity, the breach of it is reproved (Ezek. 20), and its observation restored by godly Nehemiah.

Hitherto there is no difficulty. The pinch will lie in this: if the Scriptures speak of it as belonging to the days of the gospel, in which (for making of it out):

(1) We have these hints (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2) where Christians going about the moral duties of the Sabbath, is especially observed to be upon one day peculiarly. (2) That title of the direct appropriating of a day to the Lord (Rev. 1:10), which places will fall in to be considered particularly when we come to the last question. Besides these we may produce three places to prove a Sabbath as belonging to the New Testament; though not the very day used or observed for the Sabbath in the old; and this will be enough to make out the assertion. Two of them are prophesies; the third of them is in the gospel.

First, the prophesy is in the 66th chapter of Isaiah, v 23. Second, in Ezekiel’s description of the new temple (chap. 43-46, etc.). Where (1), it is clear that these places relate to the days of the gospel, as none can deny but they do so eminently.

(2) It is clear that though they prophesy of the services of the gospel under the names of sacrifices, etc., proper to the Old Testament administration, and of the sanctified and set-apart time of the gospel, under the name of Sabbath which then was determined, and whereto men were then bound by the fourth command as they were to sacrifices by the second, yet these prophesies infer not by virtue of the fourth command the very same day to be under the gospel, which was under the law, more than the same services by virtue of the second, which none will deny to be in force, notwithstanding of the change of services. And there is as little reason to deny the fourth to be still in force as to its substance, notwithstanding of the change of the particular day.

(3) Yet thirdly, it is clear that from the mentioning of these services this will follow, that there should be set and fixed ordinances, and a way of worship in the New Testament, as well as in the Old, and that there should be a solemn chief set-time for the Sabbath which men ought to sanctify, and that they should no more admit any other times, nor so set apart into a parity with it, than they were to admit any service or worship not allowed by God, or that was contrary to the second command. For if anything is clear in them, this is clear; that they speak first of services, then of solemn times and Sabbaths, and of the one after the other. Which must certainly infer that both external services, and a solemn chief time for them, do belong to the New Testament. Hence it is that many divines (from that prophesy of Ezekiel) do draw conclusions for sundry things out of those places.

As [1], concerning the necessity and continuance of a standing ministry, and though ministers now are neither Priests, nor Levites, yet (they say) it follows clearly that there will be a ministry, because such are spoken of there. (2) Concerning the necessity of, and a warrant for Church discipline, and separating not only doctrinally, but disciplinarily the precious from the vile, and debarring of those who are morally unclean from the ordinances. Because these things (say they) are typified in the substance by the porters being set to keep the doors, and by the charge given to the Priests. (3) About the continuance of a Church, and of the ordinances of word, sacraments, etc., and the congregation of Christians to attend these, though there shall be no material or typical temple, because of the moral things there being expressed and prophesied of, under the names of the old levitical services; yet a warrant could not be inferred from them for these (and that Jure Divino) if the things were not morally to bind, which were so signified.

Hence I argue, if the sanctifying of a Sabbath as a piece of worship to God is prophesied of to belong to the New Testament, then are we bound to the sanctification of a Sabbath as a necessary duty; but the continuance of sanctifying a Sabbath unto God, is specially prophesied of, and foretold as a piece of worship under the New Testament, Ergo, etc.

The third place is Matt. 24:20, Pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day, where the Lord insinuates, that as traveling is troublesome to the body in winter, so would it be to the minds of the godly (for he is now speaking to his disciples alone) to travel on that day, specially and solemnly set apart for God’s worship. Now if there were no Sabbath to continue after Christ’s ascension, or if it were not to be sanctified, there would be no occasion of this grief and trouble, that they behooved to travel on the Sabbath, and durst not tarry till that day were by-past, and so no cause to put up this prayer; which yet by our Lord’s exhortation seems to infer that the Sabbath was to be as certain in its time as the winter. And doubtless this cannot be meant of the Jewish Sabbath. For (1), that was to be abolished shortly. (2) Traveling on the Jewish Sabbath was to be no cause of grief unto them, if indeed all days were alike; neither would it be scrupled in such a case by the apostles to whom he now speaks. (3) Besides, if no Sabbath were to be, it had been better and clearer to say, ‘Stand not, and grieve not to travel any day.’ But his words imply the just contrary, that there was to be a solemn Sabbath. (4) He mentions the Sabbath day only, and not the other festivals of the Jews which were to be kept holy also, and by this he distinguishes the ordinary Sabbath from those other days, and opposes it to many, as being now the only holy day on which they should eschew, if possible, to travel; and would therefore pray to have it prevented. For in the New Testament the Sabbath spoken of as the solemn time for worship is ever meant of the weekly Sabbath, and other holy days are called the first or last day of the feast. And therefore if the Lord’s meaning were that they should pray, that their flight might not be on any of the Jewish holy days, to mention the weekly Sabbath only, would not be sufficient for that end.

To say that it was for fear of scandal that they should pray not to be put to flight, will not remove the former reasons. Besides at that time the apostles and other Christians had given up with the Jews and stood not on scandal in such things in reference to them, on whom, as the Apostle says (1 Thes. 2:16) that wrath had come to the uttermost, and who were not infirm but malicious, and so in respect of offense to be dealt with as the Lord did with the Pharisees. And therefore, all things being considered, it appears from our Lord’s words, that a Sabbath among Christians was to be sanctified 40 years, or there about, after his death; which proves that the Scripture mentions a Sabbath to be sanctified under the New Testament.

2. We come to the second way of making out the morality of this command, to wit, by showing how the Scripture speaks of the whole decalogue, and thus we reason:

Reason One. If all the commandments of the decalogue are moral, then must this be so also. For it is one of them, and if it were not moral and binding, there would not now be Ten Words (as they are called by the Lord, Deut. 10:4), but nine only, which at first blush, will and cannot but seem strange and absurd to those who have from God’s Word drunk in that number. But all these are moral and binding, as is granted by all (except the Papists who deny the second, and therefore score it out of their catechisms), and that they must be all alike moral and binding, may be made out, these two ways.

(1) All of them in the Old Testament had alike authority, privileges, and prerogatives, which neither the judicial nor ceremonial law had. As [1], to be distinctly pronounced by God himself, without adding more (Deut. 5:22). [2] To be written by his own finger in tables of stone (Ex. 29:18). [3] To be laid up and kept in the ark (Ex. 25:16). And if these and other prerogatives did put a difference, and show a difference to be put between the other nine commands, and all judicial or ceremonial laws, why not between them, and this also? (2) In the New Testament they are all alike confirmed. When the law in general is spoken of, none of them is excepted, and therefore this command is necessarily included.

For which we should look first to that place (Matt. 5:17) where our Lord in a special manner intends to vindicate the moral law, and to press holiness in moral duties upon his hearers, even in another sort than the Pharisees did. Think not (he says) That I am come to destroy the law and the Prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill; verily he that breaketh one of the least of these commands, and teacheth men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of God, etc. Where by law, must necessarily be understood the moral law, for he was thought to be a transgressor of that, and especially of this command in it (for that sermon in Matthew comes in order after his being challenged for breach of Sabbath, John 5:10, etc.) and his scope is to wipe off the imputation. And how? [1] By showing that he still presses the moral law, even beyond what the Pharisees did. [2] It was the moral law especially, which the Pharisees corrupted, and whereof he undertakes the vindication, and it is holiness in obedience to that which he presses as necessary beyond what the Scribes and Pharisees did. And indeed it was in that law they failed mainly, and not in the ceremonial law. [3] The offense and mistake that Christ is to preoccupy and rectify among his hearers, requires this; for many of them fancied that by the Messiah there should be a relaxation from the duties of holiness called for in the moral law; and therefore he says, think not so. Now a relaxation from some other laws might have been thought of warrantably. [4] It is such a law whereof to teach the abrogation at any time is sinful and pernicious, therefore it is certainly the moral law.

Reason Two. We reason thus, when he speaks of the law, Kai eksoxun, or by way of eminency (meaning no doubt the decalogue), he speaks alike of all its commandments, even of the least of them, and so of this. Also that he came not to destroy it, which yet the Lord never did of ceremonials, but rather foretold the abolition of them, as he did of the seeking and worshipping of God in the temple at Jerusalem, etc. Yea when he clears the doctrine of the Sabbath from the Pharisees’ corrupting traditions, he never weakens its former obligation, nor insinuates its weakness, but shows the true meaning thereof, which from the beginning made it not only consistent with the works of piety and mercy, but exceedingly helpful to both.

A second place, confirming the whole decalogue (or rather asserting its authority) is in the Epistle of James (James 2:10), He that offends in one is guilty of all. Why! Because he is the same God, and lawgiver (and no servant nor angel) who spake them all, one as well as another of them. And it being clear there, that he speaks of the decalogue, called the Royal law (there being no law instanced in, nor any other that can be of a like authority, in these laws instanced, but only it, nor that could be pleaded for, by James, on such grounds, on such a time), and it being also clear, that he gives to all those laws, which the Lord spake at that time, alike authority (otherwise, his reasoning would not be good, if any one law or command, could be instanced to him, of the ten, which the Lord spake, and was abrogated, and not binding); it necessarily follows that this fourth command, being one of the ten, must be of equal authority with the rest.

It may be noted also, that James here does not (as neither does our Lord, nor any of his apostles, when they cite the law), give new authority to the laws he cites; but supposes them to have it already, and makes use of them as confirmations of the thing he pressed; which could not be, if their authority depended on, or flowed from, the present citation of them.

Reason Three. We reason further thus; either there is some moral duty contained in this command, and laid on by it, which is not in any of the former; or there is but some ceremonial thing in it, reducible to one of them. For the perfection of this law requires that all things needful to the worship of God, should be summed in it, and the scope thereof, which is briefly to compend all, requires there should be nothing in it that is needless, superfluous, or that might have been left out.

Now if the matter is moral, not contained in any former command, then is the command itself moral, seeing a moral substance and matter denominates the command so. Yea, it must be moral, otherwise something morally necessary to God’s service (such as the determination of its chief time) should be omitted. It may be assumed yet further, it must be moral (be it what it will) to eschew a tautology in this short compend of duties, and that of moral duties too.

Again, if it is not moral, but contains some ceremonial thing reducible to one of the three former commands; then (1) it might have been put among other ceremonials. (2) Other ceremonials might have been put in with it. Or (3), a reason given, why all are not reducible to some moral command. (4) If the matter of this is reducible to another command, then can it not be accounted a distinct command; neither ought it here to have been given as such, but subjoined to some other; as the servants and beasts resting is subjoined to this. (5) It would be shown to what command it’s reducible as to the substance of it, if it is ceremonial. (6) A reason would be given why among ten, one and only one, is set down, so far different from all the rest. And if all these absurdities, follow the denial of its substance to be moral, then for eschewing of them, we must conclude it to be moral. And so the fourth command is moral.

Reason Four. We reason thus: if it is not moral, it must either be judicial, or ceremonial, for the matter and substance of it. But it is not judicial. That is, it belongs not to external policy and civil society, principally and especially, in that one nation, because no such duties are comprehended, at least primarily, in any command of the first table, but in the second, which teaches duties to others, as this first does to God. Neither is it ceremonial. For all ceremonies that are typical, have their rise since the fall, and relate some way to Christ to come. But this of sanctifying one day of seven, had its rise in the state of innocency, and was enjoined to Adam in paradise, before he fell, and therefore cannot be called ceremonial properly, more than the command of a man’s leaving father and mother, and cleaving to his wife, so that they too should be one flesh, which the Apostle (Eph. 5) makes use of. Besides, if it were ceremonial in the substance, then were it typical and significant of something to come, which is hard to show. Then also had it not been lawful to have retained it; for ceremonials now in their use are not only dead, but deadly. But this morality, in substance the same with the command which we plead for, was retained by the apostles, and primitive Church (to say no more); therefore it is not ceremonial. And so this law must [necessarily] be moral.

To say that the command is partly moral, partly ceremonial, if we respect its substance, will not hold. For (1), there is no such other law. (2) That were to make confusion between ceremonials and morals; which it seems the Lord himself has aimed and resolved to keep clearly distinct. (3) Whatever is ceremonial, that which was allowed and enjoined to Adam in paradise, and wherein we may agree with him under the gospel, cannot be ceremonial. For neither of these states are capable of proper ceremonies, but both agree on a seventh day. Therefore it is not ceremonial.

3. The third way we make out the morality of this command, is by particular considering of itself; and here we argue thus:

If it is not only put into the decalogue, with the other moral commands, but more singularly explicated, and pressed even in it than they, then it is certainly moral; that is, perpetually obligatory with the rest. But so it is put and set down in the decalogue, and pressed even more than the rest of the commands, as on other accounts, so possibly in this; because its ground is positive, and men need the more words about it. Just as in the second command; Ergo, etc. Now that it is thus put, and pressed, appears these several ways.

(1) It shares of all common privileges with the rest of the commands, set down in the decalogue that were all spoken, yea, written by the Lord immediately, and hid up in the ark.

(2) It is proposed and set down in its form, both positively (Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy) and negatively (in it thou shalt do no manner of work, etc.). Whereas all the other commands are but one of these ways set down.

(3) It has the particularity in it, that all the rest have; to wit, to be in the singular number; Thou shalt, and etc; to show that it speaks to every one in particular. Yea though all the commands concern all ranks, yet only here are son, daughter, man-servant, maid-servant, and stranger expressly mentioned as comprehended in it.

(4) There is a special equity held out here in the proportioning of the time. There are six days given us to labor on, and therefore it is all the reason in the world that the Lord have the seventh. And if this concession of God’s, of six days to work on, is moral (for all the time is God’s, and we cannot for our use take any part of it, but by his grant; and there is no other grant, but this dividing and proportioning of time, between him and us, in which division too, he has given us by far the largest share; to wit, six parts of seven) then must the setting apart of a seventh day be moral also. And so the command itself, wherein both are comprehended, viz. the six given to us, and the seventh reserved for him, they must [necessarily] stand and fall together. For they mutually put [stand for or reveal] each other; thou shalt labor six days and rest on the seventh; thou shalt rest on the Sabbath day, and labor six.

(5) This day is claimed by the Lord, as a thing wherein he has a special propriety. It’s the Lord’s Day; for though he did give six, yet he reserved a seventh. And can or dare any say that he discharged that, or dispensed it away from himself to any other? If not, it must be his still, and cannot without sacrilege be other ways applied.

(6) Obedience to this command is pressed by an exceedingly weighty reason, drawn from God’s own example; which makes it clearly relative to its first institution (Gen. 2) where it is said that he rested after six days work, the seventh day, viz. the whole seventh day, and so should we. Which is the more effectual for proving the morality of this command; because [1], it’s a reason that took place, even in innocency, and so respects no type or ceremony. [2] It is universal, belonging to all men, who are God’s creatures. And therefore since the reason is perpetual, so must the command be likewise.

(7) This command alone, and beside all others, is expressly pressed in the observation of it, not only on masters and rulers for themselves, but as taking burden on them, for all under them, and within their families to endeavor the sanctifying of the Lord’s Day with them, and by them, as well as by themselves. Whereby the extent of this command is clearly and earnestly held forth in more express terms, than in any other of all the commands; though this is implied in them also.

(8) The observation of it is pressed and encouraged unto by a special blessing which he has annexed to the time set apart by himself, He blessed it, that is he made and still makes it useful and refreshing as a special blessing to his people who keep his ordinances, seeking him therein. This day has a double portion and increase besides any other day, for his people’s repose, edification, comfort, finding of his presence, etc. And to say now that this solemn time were not moral, were to rob the Church of a great blessing, seeing this day set apart by God for his service has the blessing on it, beyond any other day commanded; and in the experience of his people often has it been found to be so.

(9) It is specially and singularly ushered in with a memento, or remember, which is not expressed in any other command. And shall we think that where God says remember, there is nothing to be taken notice of; or shall we think that it says not remember now as well as then; and if so, who can warrantably forget that which he bids remember? Which is not to keep the seventh day, but the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. And may not all these characters put together in one command (so many not being to be found in all the other commands if put together) may not all these, I say, convince us that it is the Lord’s purpose to have this command standing obligatory in its substance to the end of the world? Which is so pressed, that if there is little help from nature’s light to determine the day, or to press its observation, it may be strongly borne in, by the more clear and weighty reasons.

4. And so we come to the fourth way proposed for making out the morality of this command, which is by adducing some arguments drawn from Scripture.

Argument One. The first whereof is, if the law binds under the New Testament, not only in respect of its matter, as it’s natural, nor only as it is repeated in the New Testament, but also by virtue of the authority enacting it, then this law of the fourth command, though not explicitly determined by nature, and though it were not mentioned particularly in the New Testament, must be binding also; for it has that same authority. But the first is true, and is acknowledged generally by divines (excepting a few) and is clear by Christ and his apostles, their citing of it, as supposing it to be binding. Therefore the last must be true also.

Argument Two. If this command is founded on moral grounds, then it must be moral [itself]. But the grounds on which it is founded are moral, Ergo, etc. (1) It is moral that God should have a solemn and chief set-time. (2) That he himself, and none other should determine that time, seeing no other could do it and bless it. (3) These reasons in the command itself, dividing time into six parts of it to us, and a seventh part to God, and God’s resting after six days working, with his making only seven days in the week, and employing six of them to work, etc. These reasons, I say, are all moral and binding now as before.

Argument Three. If all moral duties are contained in the ten commands, then this command must needs [necessarily] be moral. But the first is true; Ergo, etc. This command contains a moral duty, which is in none of the preceding commands; to wit, the stinting [limiting] and determining of the solemn and chief time to be set apart for God’s worship, to be one day of seven. It is true, time is commanded to be allowed to God’s worship in those other commands wherein the duties of worship themselves are commanded; for worship cannot be performed more than any other duty, without some time, but that the chief time should be so much and so often, is only determined in this command. From which it appears, (1) that an indefinite time of worship, or for it, is not the morality of this command, because this follows necessarily, as being supposed needful for the performance of every positive duty contained in the other commands. It’s morality therefore, must be the determining of that definite time. (2) We may hence see a reason why there is no new command for this in the New Testament; because this stands in the law. Neither are, Thou shalt not swear, kill, etc., mentioned as new commands more than this; so that had they not been mentioned in the New Testament (as some are not) yet had they still obliged. It is just so as to this. And the reason why they are mentioned may be supposed to be, because the main fault about them was defect and short coming, but in this it was excess, which our Lord also regulates by holding forth the right observance of it, and clearing what was wrong, and so is supposed to confirm what he repeals not.

Argument Four. If it is not free for men to carve out God’s solemn chief time of worship at their pleasure, then is this command moral (for that liberty is restrained by this command and no other). But it is not free for them to choose what time they please, or to carve it out. This seems to be only questionable, which is therefore thus confirmed.

If it is free to men to carve out what solemn and chief time is to be given to, and set apart for God’s worship; then either it is free to them to choose no time at all, or it is free for them to choose a longer or a shorter than this. But neither of these can be said. Not the first as is clear. Not the second, because it will not so quadrate [square] with the end. For if the time is shorter, it encroaches on God’s due. If it is longer, it encroaches on God’s concession of six days to work in. If it is shorter, it encroaches on God’s due (as is said) and our souls’ good; if longer, it encroaches on our temporal calling; and can any restrain man when God gives him liberty?

Again, if it is free to men so to cut and carve at pleasure, on the solemn and chief time for God’s worship, it’s either free for all men together to agree on a day, even one and the same, or its free for each country, or each man, to choose what day they please. But neither of these are either possible or practicable to edification; therefore must the day be determined to them, and if so, then surely by this command. And so it’s still binding, and cannot in that respect be altered without sin, which was the thing to be proved.

Argument Five. That there is a morality in a seventh day, we may argue from four famous and main witnesses.

(1) Whereof, is the general practice of all Christians (I say nothing of heathens), apostles, and generally all in the primitive times have ever thought that one day of seven is to be observed, and have in less or more accordingly observed it.

(2) As the practice of all, so the judgment and opinion (which is often more sound than men’s practices) of all, confirms it. Were there ever any churches that did not in all their catechisms and canons, take in this fourth command with the rest? Do not all writers, who comment on the decalogue, comment on this command, and urge the sanctifying of the Lord’s Day from it?

(3) Take men’s consciences for a third witness, and it will be found that for no sin do they more frequently and more sharply challenge, than for profaning of the Lord’s Day. The conscience directly making use of this command, and of the memento, and other reasons in it for aggravating of that sin, when yet it will say nothing for the seventh day. This first day of seven it presses more exactly, neither will any reasons alleged against its morality quiet it. The more tender that Christians are, the more they will find a pressure of conscience for obedience to this command, and the more easily will they be convinced of and sadly challenged for the least breach of this command.

(4) God’s dispensations of blessings or plagues, especially in spiritual things, bear witness to this truth. Does not experience tell us that those who make most conscience of keeping this command are often, yea, ever the most thriving Christians as to universal holiness and tenderness, and most near in intimate communion with God? Will not the unsuitable sanctification of but one Sabbath, or the interruption of their wonted seriousness therein, give them a sore back-set? On the contrary, does it not appear that those who are gross and untender in this are often gross and untender in all manner of conversation, and are followed with spiritual plagues of hardness, deadness, and hypocrisy at the best, or else fall into gross outward acts of profanity, or into errors in judgment, which are the bad and sad effects of profaning this day, on them who prejudge themselves of the blessing of it. If the blessing of this law continues, must not the law itself be moral and perpetually binding? The obedience whereof, has this blessing perpetually more or less annexed to it, as the profanation thereof has usually plagues, at least spiritual.

There are some objections that are moved against the morality of this command; I shall speak to three of them which are most insisted on.

Objection One. This law is not mentioned as being renewed or confirmed in the New Testament.

Answer. (1) Its authority depends not on the mentioning of it so in the New Testament. The law is God’s Word and has its authority as well as the New Testament.

(2) What if some other clearly moral and binding law had been omitted or not mentioned in the New Testament, as there seems to be no palpable and express command against images, though there are against will-worship? Surely, it is enough that it is not repealed in it; so it is here, as is said.

(3) Sundry other positive laws are binding, which are not mentioned in the New Testament; such as these: for a man not to marry his sister or his aunt, etc.

(4) It will be found on the matter to be confirmed, when we shall see what warrant there is for the Lord’s Day, which is one of seven, and yet is clearly held forth in the New Testament. This command, as also that relating to idolatry, are so little mentioned, because the Jews, after the captivity, were not so much in the defect of obedience to these commands, but were rather disposed to a superstitious excess, which makes Christ often rectify that abuse of the fourth command, but never to annul it. The third command also about swearing might be said to be abrogated, because it is not so positively asserted in the New Testament.

Objection Two. The Apostle (Rom. 14:5-6; Gal. 4:10; Col. 2:16), seems to cast away difference of times, especially of Sabbath days; which could not be, if this command were moral.

Answer. The Apostle cannot be understood simply to cast away the observation of all days as a bondage, and so to make all times alike. For (1), that would contradict his own practice, and the practice of the other apostles; for it is clear that they differenced the first day of the week from other days, and one day in special is called the Lord’s Day, which other days of the week are not. (2) If all times are simply alike, and all making difference is there reproved, then could there be no time set apart to be observed by men to the marring of that indifferency, and if so, then has the Christian Church been still in a palpable gross sin. For if the keeping of a day by virtue of God’s command, mar that indifferency, much more will the keeping of a day by man’s command, and so there could never be a Sabbath. (3) We must therefore understand these places not as simply casting [away] all days and times, but ceremonial and Jewish days, or days invented by men, because the scope of the places runs that way, viz. against the bringing in of ceremonial worship as necessary, which while some weak ones, not yet sufficiently informed, did still practice (as Rom. 14), the Apostle would not have them hastily condemned in days, more than meats. Yet is there still a difference between bread and wine in the sacrament of the Supper and other meats, which this discourse of the Apostle takes not away. So is it in days. In these Epistles to the Galatians and Colossians, he speaks of days (and not as would seem of the weekly Sabbath, which is ordinarily called a day) as taking in all the extraordinary feasts of the Jews, which is the more probable, because the ceremonial law was pressed on them as still necessary by false teachers; or he speaks of mere Jewish days, and so of the Seventh day which they kept. For it is of such observation of days as was sinful and broke them off from grace and the gospel, as other ceremonies did, that he speaks of. That cannot be said of all days, or of keeping one day of seven. Therefore this cannot be meant there.

Objection Three. The fourth command precisely commands the seventh day from the creation to be kept; but that is not moral. Therefore, neither is the command so.

Answer. This objection goes upon that mistake, as if the very seventh day were still commanded in it, as the main substance of it, which our next discourse on the true scope and meaning of the command will clear; so that if a seventh day, and not that seventh day is commanded as the main substance of that command, that objection falls.

(2) There is a difference to put between the mandatory part of the command, and what is further added for pressing the observation of it, or for explaining its meaning. The precept strictly is, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. It says remember the Sabbath, or the Holy rest, whatever day it shall be on; and so it is said in the close, that He rested the seventh day, but that He blessed the Sabbath, drawing it still from the seventh precisely to the Sabbath; even as in the second command, this is [1], commanded in special, that no image be made; then, [2] this in general, that all God’s commandments concerning His worship, even such as were ceremonial, for the time, should be observed with whatever others should be given. So here this fourth commands expressly one of the seven because the recurrency of that time is bounded, and generally, whatever seventh the Lord shall be pleased to pitch on.

We have said the more on this because it does not only clear the true scope of the command, but shows the necessity of the observation of that time which the Lord has sanctified for himself.

(3) We should put a difference also between ceremonial and mutable. All the judicial laws are mutable, and the Decalogue itself, in respect of its curse, and as it was a covenant giving life, is actually changed and abolished. Yet [it] is not for that to be reputed ceremonial and not obligatory (though all ceremonials are mutable, yet all mutables are not ceremonial). Besides, this change is not in the matter. Why may not therefore, the seventh day in order (which was observed from the creation to the resurrection of Christ), be changed to the first day of the week, which is a seventh day in number still, without abolishing the morality of the fourth command?

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!