« AnteriorContinuar »
authority of the fourth commandment, and yet claim exemption from the prohibition of certain meats, and of blood, -the rite of circumcision,—or, indeed, any part of the Levitical law.'
This quotation consists entirely of assertions, most of which I have already disproved. I now confine myself to the conclusion here supposed, that the fourth commandment cannot be a moral law, because it is a positive law. To make anything of an argument out of this, his Grace ought in the first place to have told us what he means by a positive law. Secondly, what he means by a moral law, and to have given definitions of both. Thirdly, he ought to have proved that the fourth commandment is a positive law. And fourthly, that a positive law could not be a moral law. But his Grace has done nothing of this. He cannot well take . moral' in this place to mean a law of nature. He must take it in that first sense, mentioned by Bramhall, as a law to regulate human manners; because he takes it in opposition to positive laws.
Now, it seems to me that, of all the laws of the decalogue, or of the Mosaic code, there is not one, which better deserves the title of moral,' than the fourth commandment. The sabbath was to be to the Israelites a sign that the Lord sanctified them. How could the keeping of the sabbath be a sign that they were sanctified, if it were not also the means and the instrument of their sanctification, or of their being made holy? And is not sanctification and holiness morality ? and is not the sign--the proof and the effective cause of holiness-morality ?
Is not the first commandment moral ? And is not the sabbath the instrument and means by which men not only know God, but, knowing him, are led to delight in him. And are not the knowledge of God and delight in God moral?
I have shown, in the eighteenth section, on the fourth commandment and sabbath, how intimately they are connected with all the commandments; and need not here repeat all I have said there. But if I should be obliged to do so, in a certain degree, I beg the kind indulgence of
The fourth is the guardian of the first commandment, as appears strongly from the following passage of Lev. xxvi. 1, 2: “ I am the Lord your God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” And in the same manner, in Ezek. xx. 19, 20: “ I am the Lord your God: walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God."
Is not the idolatry which is forbidden in the second commandment highly immoral, and the fruitful source of the grossest immoralities? What is the cause of all idolatry, but the dislike of the restraints imposed upon the corrupt passions of our fallen nature by a pure and holy God, and a vain wish to hide him from our eyes, and adopt the worship of deities, who are supposed not only to be more indulgent to human frailties, but actual patrons of human vices? This is the origin and the history of all idolatry. The father of lies, who blinds the eyes of men, and leads them to a corrupt form of religion, (if idolatry may be called religion,) takes care that it shall be such a form as will best do his work. How comes it, that the polished Greeks and Romans, with eminent talents and refined taste, embraced such monstrous and debasing absurdities in their worship as would have disgusted them on any other subject, except because those rites pandered to their depraved passions ? Why were their poets so lavish in the praises of Baccbus and Venus ? Why had every corrupt abomination its su-. perintendent deity? It is well known, that in every nation idolatry led to corrupt depravity; and of this we have frequent instances in the history of the Israelites, when they fell into idolatry: the transition was rapid to every corrupt gratification. See Num. xxv. And what is the grand remedy held up against idolatry and its abominations? The sabbath. In the same breath almost in which idolatry is forbidden, the sabbath is enforced, manifestly, as the great preventive. Lev. xxvi. 1 : “ Ye shall make you no idols, nor graven images, neither rear ye up a standing image; neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land to bow down unto it; for I am the Lord your
God. Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.”
The quotation I have given above from Ezek. xx. is immediately preceded by, (18) “I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols.” Verse 20: “ Hallow my sabbaths.” It appears from the same chapter of Ezekiel how immediately idolatry, as well as the transgression of every other commandment, followed the infraction and neglect of the sabbath. Verses 11, 12, 13: “I gave them my statutes, and showed them my judgments, which, if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover, also, I gave them my sabbaths. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness; they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which, if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted.” 16 : “ They despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths; for their heart went after their idols." Therefore the fourth commandment is the guardian of the second. In like manner, it is the guardian of the third ; for it is evident, that sanctifying and
hallowing the sabbath, by keeping it in a holy manner, and dedicating it to the worship of the Most High, is the best preventive against taking his name in vain, and blaspheming it. And the following quotation shows that the neglect of the sabbath leads to the profaning of his holy name. Ezek. xxii. 26: “ Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things; they have put no difference between the holy and profane; neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean : and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them;" and also in Lev. xix. 12, 30.
Thus we find that the fourth commandment is placed at the end of the first table, as the tenth is at the end of the second, as the safeguard of all the rest. Nay more,—the fourth is placed between the two tables-of our duty to our God and our duty to our neighbour,-as the great foundation corner-stone to bind both together, for what would be the commandments of the second, if not enforced by the sanctions to be derived from the first? Therefore the sabbath, which teaches the knowledge, and fear, and love of God—which keeps alive and in activity the commandments of the first table, confirms the second by the influence of the first-illuminates the second with the light and glories of the first, and establishes the love of our neighbour on the love of our God.
But not only the commandments of the first table, but also those of the second are, in the Scriptures, connected with it, and founded on it, and their infraction attributed to its neglect. Thus, the fifth, Lev. xix. 3: “ Ye shall fear every man his mother and his father, and keep my sabbaths: I am the Lord your God.” And the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth, are recited in the same chapter, in verses 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 20, 29; and, as the enumeration had begun with “keep my sabbaths,” so does the state
ment of the particulars of the several commandments close, in verse 20, with “ Ye shall keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord.” In Ezek. xxii. 8, when the Lord says, 66 Thou hast despised mine holy things, and profaned my sabbaths,” he immediately enumerates, as the natural consequences, the abominations of transgression of the sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments, of which they had been guilty, in verses 9-12. And in verses 26, 27, when he had stated that they had “ hid their eyes from his sabbaths,” he immediately subjoins the breaches of the sixth and eighth commandments : “ Her princes in the midst thereof are like wolves ravening the prey, to shed blood, to destroy the souls, to get dishonest gain.” 29 : “ The people of the Lord have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy, yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully.” Amos viii. 5, states their wish to get rid of the sabbath, that they might break the eighth commandment: “ When will the sabbath be gone, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit.”
In this enumeration, the tenth commandment is not mentioned, because it was itself only a hedge and fence around those of the second table.
But besides these particular proofs as to the respective commandments of the second table,-how should the duties arising from them be known,-how should the duties of the various relations of life be taughty-how should the lifeblood of the social system circulate, if it were not for the sabbath? Therefore, the first and great commandment, 66 Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and all thy might, and all thy soul.” And the second, which is like unto it, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," rest-like two pillars--on the foundation of the fourth.