The Sabbath Historically and Scientifically Considered
Christian Recorder: March 6, 1873
The Sabbath or seventh day of the week was consecrated and set apart as a day of rest, immediately after the fiat of the Almighty had given the last touch of creation. How it was observed among the Antediluvians we have no data that enables us to determine. It is natural to suppose however, that those who walked with God, like Enoch recognized it as a divine institution and that not, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob honored heaven in the observance of its sanctified day. Its claims upon human action and conduct were renewed and proclaimed at Sinai, amid the thunders of a personal manifestation of God’s presence, while Israel was journeying through the wilderness, in search of the land of promise. The fact of that day being reconsecrated and incorporated in the Decalogue at Horeb, would seem to infer that the day had been neglected and gone out of use.
But what is the Sabbath? Is it a certain day? Or a certain ration of our time. In other words, did God at Horeb reorganize the seventh day by numerical calculation from the creation of Adam and Eve; or simply throw the vengeance of his law against appropriating the seventh part of our time to secular purposes. I should assume the latter. Why? Because, strictly speaking there never has been but one day and night since God said let there be light. While the earth flies through space at the marvelous speed of sixty eight thousand miles an hour, she only turns her surface to the sun at a rate of one thousand and forty miles an hour, making it always day toward the sun, and always night on the opposite side, thus producing an endless day, and an endless night on earth, effecting merely a seeming alteration by the contingency of the earth’s revolution. And the evidence that the Sabbath is not a mathematical day or if your please, a computative day is portrayed in the sphericity of the globe. Designate a point as corresponding to sunset, and twelve thousand five hundred miles around the surface of the globe from there, it will be sunrise; again at one it will be mid-day and at the other midnight, showing clearly as I conceive, that the Sabbath cannot be a uniform institution for all the inhabitants of the globe as for time, but a consecration of one seventh of our time to rest and religious improvement. But hold, I do not mean for you to infer from this parity of reasoning; that every man is at liberty to make his own Sabbath for it is an essential to have harmony, and corporation with those we are identified , as it is, to observe the time; otherwise we could neither impact or receive from others the religious benefits of the day or time observed, for God says, “ no man liveth to himself.” We are not authorized in Holy Writ, to do anything selfishly. There must be a common day, whether that commemorates God resting from creation, or the deliverance of Israel from the tyranny of Egyptian thralldom. These different days would appear to have been obscure since the creation of man. The Patriarchal Sabbath memorialized God resting from creation. The Mosaic Sabbath, the redemption of our Lord Jesus Christ –each one, are moments that will stand before time’s corroding tooth, while men shall revere the King of Heaven.
The Christian Sabbath (or the first day of the week) is based upon no express warrant in the Scriptures, though we certainly have an implied warrant for the change from the seventh to the first day. All history concurs, that from Jesus to the present time, the Sabbath among Christians has been celebrated on the first day of the week, and it is hardly possible such a radical change would have been made without at least Apostolic authority. Also our Lord on several occasions met his disciples on the first day of the week after his resurrection, thus stamping the day with his approval. John on the Isle of Patmos entitles it the “Lord’s day,” the Holy Ghost at the Pentecost, on the first day of the week—brought from Heaven tongues of fires for the ministry and like Samson’s foxes they went east, west, north and south, and the world blazed in their roar.
On the first day of the week, Paul preached at Troas and administered the Holy Eucharist. The early Christians lifted their poor collections on that day also, or at least, St. Paul told them to do it, --thus distinguishing that day. Pliny, (the Roman proconsul of Bithynia) in his celebrated letter to the Emperor Trajan writes that the primitive Christians kept sacred the first day of the week, in memory of the resurrection of Christ. The fathers of the Church also enjoined, that the first day of the week should be as a holy festival.
While there is no reference to the Mosaic Sabbath, for four hundred and fifty years after the demise of Moses; and might lead on to suppose that the institution numerically was neglected, we find nothing that so engrossed the time of Israel during that period, which would convey the idea that the Sabbath was not observed. This we know also, from the sacred text, the most fearful penalties were proclaimed by God himself upon its desecrators, and there were no mitigations proposed by our Lord Jesus Christ, except that acts of mercy and charity were paramount to the Sabbath and everything else. And where ever a people or a nation has attempted to overthrow this fundamental arrangement of heaven, swift and commensurate judgments have visited them, and reproved their folly, while blasting their designs and purposes. The French in the latter part of the eighteenth century, sacrilegiously decreed away the mandate of heaven, and fixed the Sabbath on the tenth instead of the seventh day, but soon the revel of the bloody orgies drenched the land, and those who had figured most conspicuously in the hell-daring fanaticism had to pour out their heart’s warm blood, to was away the damning curse.
It is common for people to speak of breaking God’s law. Why, we can no more break God’s law than we can break God; but he who butts against it will be broken, yes, pulverized, ground into powder. The law of God is, that man and laboring beast should rest on the Sabbath. The only exception are ministers of the Gospel, whose work-day is the Sabbath, and they are exempt from daily labor, as a remuneration for Sabbath toil. Now if we had time and space to adduce testimony, we could show that so exact is God in the enforcement of his rest on Sabbath day demands, that the least violation of his Sabbath law is invariably attended with fearful consequences. So strong, and conducive are the arguments that the Sabbath as an institution seems to be engraved upon the blood and bone, of both man and beast of toil. Its allotment is so highly sanctioned by our Creator, that it constitutes a part of the essential properties of our very existence. And those who ignore its claims have to atone in premature graves, or suffer the sequel of God’s frowning blast. It skeletonizes the horse and the ox, it blights the golden harvest fields, it ungears the nerves, paralizes perception, throws judgment out equilibrity, obliquizes the whole mind, and damns the soul eternally.
O ye Sabbath-breakers, read, think, and tremble, and may God hasten a reformation in the observance of this Holy day.