« السابقةمتابعة »
intended and enabled us all to see clearly with our naked eyes. The weighty folio, however, counteracts its own evil; it slumbers on the retired shelves of the library; like the lion in his den in the distant forest, his roar is not heard in the busy haunts of men; but the buz of the light-winged pamphlet is heard everywhere : it stings the labourer in the field, and the mechanic at his bench. The poison which lay innocuous in the laboratory of the philosopher, his Grace has spread in the stalls and on the tables of the fairs and markets.
His Grace is convinced of the soundness of his opinion, but convinced-from want of sufficient examination—by human authority more than divine revelation; but still so perfectly satisfied of the soundness of his conclusion, that he rather doubts the sincerity of those who differ. He hints, in the opening of his pamphlet, that some persons, who do not really believe the Mosaic law relative to the sabbath to be binding on Christians, yet think it right to encourage, or tacitly connive at, that belief, from views of expediency, for fear of unsettling the minds of the common people.' He says he knows, as a fact, respecting several persons, what is probably the case with many others, that they fully coincide with his views on the present question, though they judge it not advisable, at present at least, to come forward and avow their opinion.'
I trust that his Grace is mistaken as to the number of such persons. And as to those who really do hold such opinions, if they have not some secret misgiving as to the soundness of their conclusion, they are guilty of a pious fraud, such as they would condemn in the priests of another persuasion. They should not do evil in the vain hope that good may come. To such persons I submit the just remark of Mede, to which I heartily subscribe :- I cannot conceive that truth can be prejudiced by the discovery of truth ; but I fear that the maintenance thereof by fallacy or falsehood, may not end with a blessing. But as such persons are not only open to, but anxious for, conviction on the side of the question which I advocate, I beg to dedicate to their attentive consideration my humble exertions in the cause with which their better feelings sympathize, but to which their warped judgment cannot as yet assent. The Archbishop adds, · But there are many, no doubt, who maintain the same tenet from sincere conviction.' I have no doubt that there are many such; and, I will add, many such, whose conviction is not the effect of prejudice, but the result of a sober investigation of divine truth. But why have not such persons boldly come forward to avow and maintain their opinions, and to prove the truth of the hope that is in them?
THE QUESTION PROPOSED.
The question we are about to consider is, whether the law of the sabbath established by divine authority be abrogated, or still binding on Christians ;-whether the Lord's-day be a new festival, resting solely upon the authority of the church, without any reference to a sabbath, or whether the resurrection of the Lord, who made the sabbath, and who thus consummated our salvation, be not superadded as a new reason for confirming and enforcing that observance.
His Grace's motives, however mistaken, are good. His object is to promote the religious observance of the Lord'sday; and he is convinced that the most effectual, as well as the only justifiable, means for accomplishing this object, will be found in the placing of this duty on its TRUE foundation. In this conviction I most heartily concur, because I am firmly persuaded that the TRUE FOUNDATION will prove to be A ROCK, and not the shifting bed of sand upon which his Grace endeavours to place it.
The following is the foundation, on which he proposes to place it. Page 7, he states, as one of his two considerations, either of which would alone be sufficient to show that the apprehensions of those who fear that, on his principles, the Lord's-day would be left without support, are groundless; that the power of the church, bestowed by Christ himself, would alone (even independent of apostolic example and ancient usage) be amply sufficient to sanction and enforce the observance.
And does his Grace, indeed, know so little of human nature, as to suppose that the authority of the church is equally binding on the conscience of man with the divine authority and command ? I beg of his Grace to submit this question to the test of his own experience. Let him look out amongst his religious friends for some strictly pious and conscientious observers of the sabbath on the score of obedience to the divine command. Let him ask them, without giving time for inquiry, what are the days of fasting and abstinence ordered by the church? The chance is, that they do not know them. Let him farther examine them, whether before they fix a day for a feast they consult the Calendar, lest, unwittingly, they might happen upon a day of fasting and abstinence. Let him ask the religious ladies of his acquaintance, who pay a demi-religious deference to Saturday evening, for fear of encroaching upon Sunday, whether, previous to issuing invitations for an evening party,—a ball or assembly, a scene of festive merriment, they consult the Calendar, lest haply they might pitch upon the vigil of a saint, which is a fast and to be solemnly observed ? I trust, for the present, to the result of his Grace's experiments in these particulars, for showing the different kinds of obedience which conscientious persons pay to what they conceive to be a divine command, and what they consider to rest upon the authority of the church.
Short as is his Grace's pamphlet, the arguments cursorily alluded to, and the assertions hastily made, involve questions of great magnitude and importance. And the arguments used by the able divines who support the same opinions, take in a wide range of scriptural references. And, as I proceed, I find the question of the sabbath so intimately connected and interwoven with several other most important particulars of our holy faith, that they cannot be separated from them, or considered independent of them; but several of these are of so interesting a character, that they cannot be investigated without profit. On all these accounts, I shall be obliged to pursue the discussion to a greater length than I at first intended.
Previous to entering upon the subject, I wish, for the sake of obviating inconvenient interruptions, to give a separate consideration to some topics, the understanding of which may be necessary in some parts of the discussion.
In the first place, we must understand the Jewish divisions of time, and their several feasts or festivals, so far as they may be connected with the question of the sabbath. And, in the second place, it will be useful to consider the modes of communication between God and man in the early ages of the world, and the probability, thence arising, of a continued revelation, and of the existence of laws before the time of Moses.
DIVISIONS OF TIME, AND FESTIVALS OF THE ISRAELITES.
Moses, in his history of the earlier ages, before his own time, uses the Egyptian or solar year of twelve months of thirty days. Subsequently to his time, when we have accounts of their form of year from other sources, the Egyptians intercalated five days at the end of the last or twelfth month, making it thirty-five days; and, to make up for the additional six hours over and above the three hundred and sixty-five days, which they supposed to elapse in the actual year between the precise points of the equinoxes, they added an additional month every hundred and twenty years. But, at the time of Moses, they seem not to have made their intercalation by five days at the end of each year, but to have waited until the sixth year, when the excess came to a whole month. This appears from the account given by Moses of the year at the time of the deluge, which is the only year of which we have a particular account throughout, and the only year of which we require to know the length. That year appears not to have had any intercalation, but to have consisted of twelve months of thirty days, or three hundred and sixty days. Moses, in his history, uses months of thirty days, as appears clearly, from his account of the flood, particularly from Gen. vii. 11, viii. 4, compared with vii. 24, and viii. 3, in which five months and a hundred and fifty days are stated as the same period of time, which gives thirty days to each month.
In a subsequent period, the Jews adopted lunar months ; and, as the revolution of the moon is about twenty-nine days