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and therefore unlawful on the Sabbath day. For though the Jews were restrained from going through the streets or fields on the Sabbath, for worldly business, recreations, or putting off the time; yet not from all walking or travelling, when either the works of piety or necessity did require : for a “Sabbath-day's journeyswas allowed, Acts i. 12. The Pharisees indeed stinted it to two thousand cubits, (which some make one mile, others two, according to the different cubits in use among them) in regard this was to be the distance of the utmost part of the camp of Israel in the wilderness, from the tabernacle, to which they were bound to repair for worship on the Sabbath day. But this was no good warrant for limiting the Sabbath day's journey to such a precise space ; since it must be either more or less, according to the distance of people's dwellings from the public ordinances, to attend which a person may go many miles, and not profane the Sabbath. The Shunammitish woman, as appears from 2 Kings iv. 23. used to travel on the Sabbath to the prophet Elisha, to attend public worship, and wait on his teaching.
III. As to the prohibition of kindling fire, Exod. xxxv. 3. if we consider the place and context, we will find that it is only kindling of fire for servile work, particularly for the work of rearing up the tabernacle, that they were then about, which is there forbidden. This is the mind of Vatablus, Junius, and Termellius, and the best commentators on the place. For God is here giving directions for making the tabernacle; and, to prevent their thinking, that the nature of the work, or haste required in doing it, would justi. fy their working at it on the Sabbath, he first discharges all working on that day, verse 2. and then more particularly, v. 3. he forbids the work of kindling fire, as that of smiths, founders, or any others, for preparing materials for the tabernacle. And so he will have that work, though for a sacred use, give place to that which was more immediately sacred and necessary, viz. the present sanctification of the Sabbath. This doth not prohibit kindling of fire for the works of necessity or mercy which presently tend to the better sanctifying of the Sabbath ; since this, for the servile work of the tabernacle, would have hindered the present sanctification of it; whereas kindling of fire for warming our bodies, preparing meat, or for shewing light, do not hinder, but tend to promote the sanctifying of the Sabbath. Yet we should take care that we do not extend our liberty this way too far, so as to make solemn feasts on the Sabbath, which require much servile work, and hinder the duties of the Sabbath : for though we be not forbidden on the Lord's day to kindle a fire for dressing meat, yet we must beware we make not such a flame as shall kindle the fire of God's wrath against us on that day,
IV. As to the bearing of burdens on the Sabbath, Christ hath given no more liberty to us this way, than to the Jews, for though he commanded the impotent man on the Sabbath, John v. 10. “ to take up his bed and walk,” yet this was no carrying of a burden for any secular design, but a mean required for glorifying of God, and publishing the miracle.
V. As to their punishing of Sabbath-breaking with death Numbers xv. this belonged to the judicial law, which was peculiar to the Jewish commonwealth, and doth not bind other nations, except so much of it as is of universal moral equity : for the peculiar circumstances of nations require peculiar statutes and punishments for some particular crimes. But, in the next place, there appears to have been some specialty in that Sabbath-breaker's case ; for we do not find that Sabbath breaking was always so punished afterwards. If we read verses 30, and 31. we see God threatening death to all such as sin presumptuously, and with an high hand : and in the very next verse, the Sabbath-breaker is brought in guilty ; which makes it probable, that his crime was attended with the aggravation of presumptuous sinning.
VI. As to the double sacrifices required on the Sabbath 66 two lambs in the morning, and two in the evening," Numb. xxviii. 9. 10. I grant they were a heavy burden, in regard of the great expense and bodily toil the Jews were put to thereby, from which Christ hath happily freed us. But, excepting what was typical and ceremonial in their worship and sacrifices, there is nothing here peculiar to them ; for otherwise we are still as much bound to double sacrifices on the Sabbath as the Jews : We are bound to double our devotion, our prayers, our praises, &c. this day, beyond other days. Yea, as I shewed before, we are more called to it than the Jews ; which also is confirmed from Ezek. xlvi. 4. 5. where, instead of the four lambs required on the Sabbath in Moses's time, we see that in Ezekiel's temple-service, which points at gospel times, the Sabbath offerings were to be “ six lambs and a ram ;" intimating not only the continuance, but the advancement of the Sabbath sanctification in the days of the Messiah, and that Christians should exceed the Jews in zeal and diligence in keeping of the Sabbath, and should multiply duties, and offer up a greater plenty of spiritual sacrifices, and be more - active and intense about the works of the Sabbath, than they were. And good reason for it, since we have both the creation and redemption to commemorate this day, and a more exellent worship to perform upon it.
But I proceed to examine the rest of J. S's arguments for Sabbath-day's recreations.
Object. II. “ Our Saviour saith, that the Sabbath is made for man and not man for the Sabbath,” Mark ii. 27.
Ans. This word makes not for his purpose ; for Christ adducetb it in defence of his disciples plucking the ears of corn on the Sabbath,” for satisfying their hunger, which was a work of necessity; and not in defence of carnal diversions and recreations.
But, that we may take up the true meaning of the place, we must consider, that if by Sabbath be understood the true sanctification of the day by sincere worshipping and serving of God, then certainly man was made for it: but if Sabbath be taken, according to the Pharisees' sense here, for the mere external rest of the day, (as Christ certainly understands it in this place,) then indeed the Sabbath was made for man ; this external rest being but a mean for the true sanctification of the Sabbath, and designed for the special good of man, partly that his body might have some repose from labour, and chiefly that he might have a solemn opportunity to worship God, and hold communion with him. Now, says our Saviour, it were unreasonable to think that a laxv, intended for a privilege and benefit to man, should be improven to his hurt and ruin. The great design of the Sabbath pleads for “ works of necessity and mercy;" for how can God be served, or the soul profited on this day, if care be not taken for preserving the life, and supporting the body, in order thereto ? But how this text makes for carnal diversions on the Sabbath, I see not; unless one should say, that Christ meant when he said, " 'The
Sabbath is made for man," that it is made for his corporal pleasures ; which is most absurd, and directly contrary to Isa. viii. 13.
Object. III. “ The hindering of men from Sabbath-days recreations, is an encroachment upon our Christian liberty."
Ans. I would gladly know what he means by Christian liberty. I take the gospel sense of it to be this, that Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel, not only liberty from the dominion, guilt, and punishment of sin, the bondage of Satan, and sting of death ; but also hath liberated them from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Old Testament saints were subjected ; and likewise from the curse of the moral law ; yea, and from the power and obligation of it too, as a covenant of works; so as they are neither to be justified nor condemned thereby. But that he hath obtained any liberty to us from the obligation of the moral law, as the rule of life and manners, inore than the Jews had, I know no orthodox Protestant that will assert it. Now, if the fourth command be a part of the moral law, (as J. S. owns) to pretend to any freedom from the strict observation of it, and what is truly moral in it, under the gospel, is unchristian licentiousness, and not Christian liberty. Christ never purchased a liberty to us, to be less religious, or less diligent in prayer, praises, and other duties, than the Jews; for this were no true liberty. Our true liberty lies in a readiness to obey the holy will of God, our only rightful Lord ; and in being in a capacity to pursue our chief good and great end ; and the more we are disabled from this, the more we are in bondage. And hence it is, that the Psalmist saith, Psal. cxix. 45. “ I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts." But for any, under pretence of Christian liberty, to walk loosely and licentiously, is to destroy the end of Christian liberty, which is, “ That being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might serve the Lord without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life," Luke i. 74, 75.
Object. IV. “ The restraining these recreations is not a good politic for promoting godliness ; for instead of this, it drives people to the other extreme.»
Ans. 1. Though it were a good politic, I am sure it is bad divinity : for, we must not do evil, that good may come of it.
2. It is no new thing for men's lusts and corruptions to grow more impetuous, and be the more irritated, by the restraints and prohibitions of God's holy and just laws, Rom. vii. 8. Yet no Christian ever pleaded that these laws should be either dispensed with or slackened upon this account; but still owned the fault to be in our own corrupt natures, and not in God's excellent laws. If all these
precepts were to be dispensed with that are grating to the lusts of carnal men, then few of them would be binding; for every spiritual duty is unpleasant to them.
3. If inquiry be made into the state of the flocks of those ministers who use this politic, I apprehend it will be found to have but very bad success in promoting godliness, or even morality, either on Sabbath or week day. Nay, on the contrary, these Sabbath-days recreations will be found a politic of hell, wherever the experiment is tried, for banishing piety, and promoting all sorts of profanity. Whereas, in these places where they are conscientiously suppressed, Sabbath-holiness, family-worship, and true piety, are known to be in a flourishing condition.
4. If magistrates and ministers would cordially join hands in the execution of civil and ecclesiastical laws against Sabbath-breaking and profaneness, the imperious eruptions of men's lusts on the Sabbath would soon, through the blessing of God, be effectually dammed up and restrained. A resolute resisting of the devil, is the best way to overcome him ; whereas, yielding to him in any degree, is the ready way to be vanquished by him.
Object. V. “ The Christian Sabbath (saith J. S.) is a festival, and consequently solacing ourselves by a cheerful and mutual conversation together in our houses on that day (if there be nothing immodest or indecent thereon, not too much time spent thereby) is not only lawful, but dutiful also."
Ans. 1. I suppose he meant the convening of friends and neighbours to carnal feasts and entertainments on the Sabbath, and holding good fellowship together, after the manner of the world : for, if he meant any other conversation, I think he would not caution against the spending of too