Page images

in which, in respect of the reason assigned for its institution, all men are equally concerned?

It has long appeared to me that any man, not having previously formed another system from books or reasoning, on reading the words of Moses, when he had finished his most sublime narrative of God's creating the world, must conclude that the appointment of the sabbath was directly made on that grand occasion: and this conclusion would be the same, whether he read the passage in the original Hebrew or in our translation. "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, " and all the host of them.

And on the seventh


day God ended his work which he had made; "and rested on the seventh day from all his work "that he had made. And God blessed the "seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in "it he had rested from all his work which God "created and made." The institution concerns the whole human race, as much as the nation of Israel: and the reason for thus setting apart a continually returning season, as a memorial of the creation completed and rested in by the great Creator, seemed in some respects more cogent, before the entrance of sin had marred the beauty of the work, and interrupted his full acquiescence in it as "very good," than afterwards, when "it repented the Lord that he had made man, "and it grieved him at his heart," 2 and when man's rest in God and his works had been by the fall disturbed or destroyed.

But Dr. Paley (a name in many respects justly

1 Gen. ii. 1-3.

2 Gen. vi. 6.

entitled to high regard,) maintains that we hear no more of the sabbath, or of the seventh day, 'as in any other manner distinguished from the < other six, until the history brings us down to 'the sojourning of the Jews' in the wilderness. 'It is unaccountable,' he says, that no mention ' of it, no occasion of even the obscurest allusion 'to it should occur, either in the general history ' of the world before the call of Abraham, which contains, we admit, only a few memoirs of its

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

early ages, and these extremely abridged; or, which is more to be wondered at, in that of the lives of the three first patriarchs, which in many parts of the account is sufficiently circumstan'tial and particular.' It seems here conceded, that we could not reasonably expect to hear of the sabbath, except among the worshippers of the true God, during the ages which elapsed between Adam and Moses and doubtless they who renounced God, and became either atheists or idolaters, whether before or after the deluge, would renounce the sabbath also, if it really had been instituted; nay, they would use their influence to disannul it, as the infidels on the continent endeavoured by all means to do in our times.


But is Dr. Paley's statement, in this passage, accurate? Is he well grounded in averring, that not even the obscurest allusion is made to the


It is very inaccurate, though very common, to call the whole nation, at this early period, Jews, Judeans, from Judah. The name is never used in scripture till after the division of the nation into two kingdoms, under Jeroboam, and seldom till after the dispersion of the Ten Tribes.

seventh day before the call of Abraham, or in the history of the three first patriarchs? The only account on which the least dependance can be placed, respecting these remote ages, is contained exclusively in the book of Genesis. Yet the division of time by WEEKS, of which some traces at least may be found in other histories, and of other nations, seems to have been the remains of an original tradition, retained among the descendents of Noah, as separated into many regions before the days of Abraham.

[ocr errors]

Is it then a fact, that there are no intimations, and not even the obscurest allusions made to the sabbath, or the seventh day, in the book of Genesis? "Yet seven days," says the Lord, " and I will cause it to rain on the earth forty 1 days, and forty nights." This might be left unnoticed, except as it introduces that which follows in the next chapter. "At the end of "forty days, Noah opened the windows of the "ark which he had made, and he sent forth a " raven." "And he stayed yet other seven days, "and again he sent forth the dove out of the "ark." "And he stayed yet other seven days, "and sent forth the dove; which returned not "again' to him any more." 2 Is here no intimation that the end of every seven days brought with it something peculiar, and distinguishing from the end of any other period of time? May it not, nay, does it not imply that the sabbath was observed in the ark, at the close of the

1 Gen. vii. 4.

2 Gen. viii. 6-12.

devotions of which the dove was once and again sent forth?

The word which is translated week occurs twice in the twenty-ninth chapter of Genesis, and is used in various parts of scripture for a term of time containing seven days.2 This is at least an obscure intimation, that the division of time into weeks was known even in Laban's family: and whence should this division originate, but from the appointment of the sabbath? Or why should that precise term be used, which every where, after the giving of the law, has reference to the division of time, by the weekly return of the sabbath, if the sabbath had never yet been appointed or known?

If, however, no traces at all could be found in the history, of any regard to the seventh day before the time of Moses, this would by no means prove that no appointment of the sabbath had been made. There is not the least trace in the whole of the Old Testament, from Moses to Malachi, of the observance instituted in the law concerning the red heifer which was to be burnt, and the ashes collected and mixed with water, for a water of purifying the unclean.3 Yet who doubts whether this was ever instituted; or, indeed, whether it was generally observed? The apostle speaks of it as an ordinance well known, and in common use.4 No instance, in like

'Gen. xxix. 27-29. 2 Deut. xvi. 9, 10, 16; Jer. v. 24; Ezek. xlv. 21; Dan. ix. 25, 26, 27. 3 Num. xix. Heb. ix. 13.

manner, occurs, in which several other legal appointments are mentioned, after the time of their institution, till the close of their history, so that entire silence would not prove the negative.1

Again; Dr. Paley considers the mention of the sabbath made in the history of Israel, previously to the giving of law from Mount Sinai, as its 'first actual institution.' But let the narrative be carefully examined: "It came to pass on the "sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, "two omers for one man: and all the rulers of "the congregation came and told Moses. And "he said unto them, This is that which the Lord "hath said, To-morrow is the rest of the holy "sabbath unto the Lord: bake that which will "bake to-day, and seethe that ye will seethe, and "that which remaineth over lay up for to be kept "until the morning. And they laid it up till the "morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, "neither was there any worm therein. And "Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a "sabbath to the Lord: to-day ye shall not find "it in the field. Six days shall ye gather it, but



on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it "there shall be none. And it came to pass, that "there went out some of the people on the "seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the Lord said unto Moses, How long do ye


'It has been remarked that no mention is made of the 'Sabbath in Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel,

1 Kings, nor before 2 Kings iv. 23;' though it is known to have been in force before, and though these histories are so much more particular.-J. S.


2 G

« PreviousContinue »