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gent attitude, changing positions with continual impatience, &c., all evincing the little impression that is felt of the high solemnity and importance of the duty, and the little apprehension that is entertained of the presence and the majesty, and the infinite glory of the Being that is worshipped, before whom the seraphim are represented as standing, with their faces and their feet covered, as they cry, in continual adoration, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, IS THE LORD OF HOSTS.
THE origin of the Sabbath is known to every one that has read the three first verses of the second chapter of Genesis, or learned to repeat the fourth commandment. It did not take its rise, like other sacred days and seasons, that are soon to be mentioned, with the Jewish system of worship, that was to pass away; nor was it instituted for any ceremonial reason, such as we have seen had place in the case of sacrifices, and of the priestly office from their earliest appointment. Nay, so remote was its nature from any such character as this, that it was originally set apart for the use of beings altogether innocent and holy; for the seventh day was sanctified, or declared more holy than other days, before our first parents were become sinful and lost even in paradise, where all days were so full of the worship of God, this of the Sabbath was to be distinguished as peculiarly sacred, and to be observed as a continual memorial of his goodness and power displayed in the great work of creation.
We have no express mention made of it again, in the history of the time that followed before and after the flood, till the age of Moses; (Ex. xvi. 22-39;) which is not to be wondered at, when we consider how very brief that history is. There is, nevertheless, sufficient evidence, that it was not forgotten among the people of God, nor altogether among those that departed from the true religion. Noah,
we find, reckoned time by periods of seven days, and from him some tradition of the Sabbath and of the week passed down among the various tribes and nations of his descend. ants, in every part of the world, as has been more particularly mentioned already, when taking notice of the ancient manner of dividing time, in a former part of this work.
When God formed his covenant with the Israelitish nation, the ancient appointment of the Sabbath was solemnly called to remembrance, and clothed with fresh authority. Jehovah himself, from the midst of the awful darkness, uttered the commandment, in the hearing of all the people. (Ex. xx. 8-11.) It was still uttered, too, as in the beginning, not as a precept designed for a single dispensation merely, but as a statute of universal and perpetual obligation: it was given as one of the ten commandments, which comprehended the whole moral law, and were proclaimed to the ancient church, as the original and fundamental rule of God's moral Government, that was never to be lost sight of, while the world should stand.
At the same time, however, the Sabbath was made to bear something of a peculiar character, also, in the Jewish economy, such as it had not before, and was not designed to retain afterwards. It was invested with a certain ceremonial sacredness, in addition to that which it had of a purely moral sort. At least, it was required to be kept with a peculiar kind of outward observance, that belonged only to that system of carnal ordinances which was imposed on the Israelitish church till the time of reformation. Hence, the apostle reckons the Jewish Sabbath among other ceremonial institutions, that were, he says a shadow of things to come. (Col. ii. 16, 17.) Still, the original and more essential nature of this institution was never suffered to pass out of sight; but may be found to have been, all along, distinctly recognized, in the peculiarly solemn authority with which its obligation was enforced, and in the moral and spiritual character of the observance with which it was enjoined to be kept, as well as of the reasons still assigned for its sacredness. (Ex. xxxi. 13-17. Lev. xix. 30. Is. lviii. 13. Jer. xvii. 21-27.) To the Israelites, it was urged as an additional motive for them to remember
the rest of the Sabbath, according to its ancient appointment, that the Lord, whose day it was, had redeemed them, in his mercy and by his mighty power, from the bondage of Egypt. (Deut. v. 15.) And because it was given from the beginning, to be a memorial of God's sovereignty, as the Creator and Governor of the world, and was designed to be religiously observed, in pious acknowledgment of this supreme dominion, it was regarded as a sign of the Covenant that was formed between him and their nation, which had been taken out of the idolatrous world, to be his peculiar people; and hence, accordingly, when they neglected the Sabbath, it was considered to be a profane violation of the covenant itself, and a rejection of the original sovereign authority of God, that had in it the nature of idolatry outright. (Ex. xxxi. 13-17. Ezek. xx. 20.) The punishment for profaning the Sabbath day, like that of idolatry, was nothing less than death. (Ex. xxxv. 2. Numb. xv. 32-36.)
The law required a rigid observance of the sacred day. All the common employments of life, lawful on other days, were forbidden to be attended to on this. It was unlawful even to make a fire; and a man, on one occasion, was put to death for gathering sticks, during its time of rest. The Jews, however, carried their regard to its outward observance in this way, in later times, to a superstitious length. While they honoured it with little or no genuine regard in their spirits, they affected a most scrupulous care of offending against the letter of the commandment, in their actions : and yet, even in this care, they showed great inconsistency, sometimes straining out a gnat, and at other times swallowing a camel. The Pharisees, especially in the days of our Saviour, laid claim to great conscienti usness on this point, and often found fault with him for disregarding, according to their notion, the sacredness of God's day; though, all the while, it was not difficult to be perceived, that their hatred to Jesus, far more than their zeal for the Sabbath, called forth their censures and complaints. Our Lord exposed their malevolence and inconsistency, and taught the true nature of the sacred day. (Matt. xii. 115. Luke xiii. 10-17. John v. 16. vii. 22, 23. ix. 14, 16.) In the sanctuary, there was no rest on the Sabbath from
the labour of other days; but, on the contrary, an increase of work. Besides the daily offerings, two other victims were required still to smoke on that day, upon the altar; (Numb. xxviii. 9, 10,) and regularly, as we have seen, the old shew-bread was to be removed, and a new supply put in its place. Thus, the priests in the temple profaned the Sabbath, or spent it in work, and yet were blameless. (Matt. xii. 5.) It was meet that the public service of God should not be diminished, but increased upon his own day.
It was usual to make some preparation for the Sabbath toward the close of the sixth day. (Mark xv. 42.) According to the Jews, it was customary to cease from labour on that day, at the time of the Evening Sacrifice; and from that hour till the sun went down, all busied themselves to get completely ready for the holy season that was at hand. Victuals were prepared, (for there might be no cooking on the Sabbath,) and all things attended to that were needful for orderly and decent appearance, such as washing the face, hands, and feet, trimming the beard, &c. that the day of rest might be entered upon without confusion, and in a manner of reverence and respect. A little before sunset, the Sabbath candle was lighted in each house, in token of gladness at the approach of God's day. At dark, they spread upon the table, from the provisions previously made ready, a supper, rather better than common; when the master of the family, taking a cup of wine in his hand, repeated the words in Gen. ii. 1-3, blessed God over the wine, said over a form of words to hallow the Sabbath, and raising the cup to his lips, drank off its contents; after which, the rest of the family did the same; and then, having washed their hands, they all joined in the domestic meal. Thus began the observance of the seventh day. On the next morning, they resorted to their synagogues: or if they lived at Jerusalem, and felt an inclination to attend the temple, they might go and worship there. After breakfast, they either went to some school of divinity, to hear the traditions of the elders explained, or employed the time in religious duties at home, till the hour of taking dinner. About the middle of the afternoon, they again betook themselves to the synagogue or the temple, for worship. The day was afterwards closed
with something of the same sort of ceremony with which it had been introduced. In this way, if we may believe Jewish tradition, the Sabbath was kept under the second temple.
How the Sabbath was spent before the captivity, when there were no synagogues, we are not informed. Those who lived nigh the Sanctuary, might attend its worship. Parents might instruct their children in the knowledge of the law, as, no doubt, many did with care, regarding the Lord's repeated injunction. It seems, also, to have been common to visit the prophets on that day, to receive their instruction and counsel. (2 Kings iv. 23.)
Our Saviour, who was Lord of the Sabbath, caused it to be changed from the seventh to the first day of the week, that it might be, till the end of time, a memorial of his resurrection from the dead; while, being still unaltered in its essential nature, it should continue to answer, also, as before, all the purpose of its original institution.
NEW MOONS AND FEAST OF TRUMPETS.
EVERY New Moon, or the first day of every month, was distinguished by a certain degree of sacredness, from other ordinary days. From Amos viii. 5, we learn that it was not considered lawful to transact worldly business on such days: When will the New Moon be gone, the wicked. are represented as saying, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat? Like the Sabbath, also, they were deemed fit times for visiting the prophets to receive instruction, and these holy men, it seems, were accustomed to appropriate them regularly to the sacred employment of giving direction and counsel to all, of every class, that were disposed to seck it from their lips. (2 Kings iv. 23.) At the Sanctuary, the New Moons were observed with particular sacrifices, over and above the daily sacrifices; viz. two bullocks, a ram, and seven lambs, with their meat offering and drink offering, for a public holocaust or whole burnt offering, and a goat, be.. sides, for a sin offering. (Numb. xxviii. 11-15.) These