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The sabbath is a subject upon which the opinions of the Christian world are greatly divided. By one party it is deemed a sacred institution, while another maintains that all distinction of days is abolished by Christ. Hence some rest its obligation on expediency alone, others on the authority of ecclesiastical government, and others on the sanction of the Inspired Writings. Nor, among those who ascribe a divine origin to the sabbath, is there a perfect agreement as to the particular day to be kept holy in the septenary division of time; nor whether the Deity requires the dedication of an entire day, or only a part of it.
These are questions, however, of no trifling importance, since it is a fact attested by history and experience, that, in proportion
as the Lord's day is observed or profaned, either in nations or in families, religion is found to flourish or decay. It cannot, indeed, be otherwise, considering on the one hand, how needful a weekly remission of secular employments is to the cultivation of religious principles, and on the other, that true faith is always distinguished by a regular attendance on the hebdomadal offices of devotion. In the complaints, so often heard, of the increasing neglect of the sabbatical duties in this country, there may, perhaps, be more of querulousness than of truth; but the desecration of the Lord's day unquestionably prevails to an alarming extent ; and it must be the wish, as it ought to be the endeavour, of every believer in Christ, to suppress an evil of so much magnitude, through a conviction that a stricter observance of this sacred season will be followed, as its natural consequence, by a more devout obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel
The design of the performance which the Author now ventures to lay before the public, is to prove the divine institution of a Weekly Festival, and to point out the manner in which it ought to be sanctified. For this purpose it is attempted to shew that the sabbath was appointed by the Almighty at the close of his stupendous labours in the creation of the world, and that it not only formed a part of each succeeding dispensation of religion, but that it was successively enjoined with still increasing force and authority. After having established the religious obligation of keeping holy one day in seven, it is in the next place attempted to investigate the duties which this obligation imposes.
In the course of the inquiry the terms " sabbath” and “seventh day" are frequently applied, not to the seventh day consecrated to Jehovah under the Jewish economy, but, in a larger sense, to denote the weekly holy-day, whether under the Patriarchal, Jewish, or Christian dispensations. This use of the terms, so common with theological writers, is both admissible for the sake of convenience, and justifiable in literal strictness, if the meaning and application of the
fourth commandment, adopted in a subsequent part of this work, be correct.
The annexed List of Writers on the subject of this volume is far from being complete; but the Author considered it right to insert such only as he has had an opportunity of consulting. The insertion of similar lists in his former works has been approved by some to whose judgment he pays the highest deference; and he trusts that the apparent ostentation will be pardoned for the sake of their utility.
It would not gratify the reader to detail the occasion which gave birth to the following Treatise, the researches by which it has swelled to its present size, or the reasons which have induced the Author to submit it to the decision of the public. If “no work was ever spared out of tenderness to the Author," how can the writer of these
pages, under whatever circumstances they were composed, expect any exemption from the universal fate of authorship ? It were vain to flatter himself that it would stay, much less disarm the uplifted hand of rigorous