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in the Lord's Supper, and such like religious exercises. The collections which they made on those occasions for the poor, concerning which the apostle gives such express directions, are deserving of especial notice, from the very significant hint which we derive from them. Among the Jews it was customary to distribute the alms of the more wealthy among the poor on the evening of every Sabbath ; and when we see the apostles adopting the same plan of practically caring for the poor on the first day of the week, we have in that fact no very obscure intimation of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first. And the apostles appear to have distinguished the first day of the week, by the private, as well as public, exercises of religion. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day,' says the Apostle John; and from this passage even Paley could argue thus : Which name, and St. John's use of it, sufficiently denote the appropriation of this day to the service of religion, and that this appropriation was perfectly known to the Christians of Asia.' This reasoning is good; but it militates seriously against the doctor's own cause. He would limit the religious observance of Sunday' to public worship : but the passage on which his argument is founded does not appear to point us to public worship at all. There is nothing in the apostle's narrative that could lead one to suppose that, at the time to which he refers, he was engaged with a Christian congregation in the social worship of God. The idea which his description conveys to our mind is, that he was alone, in private devotion, given up to meditation, when the celestial vision came upon him..
In corroboration of this view of the manner in which the early Christians observed the first day of the week, the universal and uniform practice of the Church after the apostolic age may be adduced. Thus the celebrated apologist for Christianity, Justin Martyr, who wrote while some would be living who could recollect the Apostle John, informs us that on Sunday there was an assembly of all persons who lived in one place, whether in the cities or the country; that the writings of the prophets and apostles having been read, the presiding pastor delivered a discourse, exhorting the people to practise what they had heard; that then, all standing up, prayers were offered, after which the Lord's Supper was administered ; and that then those who could afford it gave contributions, which were deposited with the president, who, out of the fund thus raised, relieved the orphans and widows, &c. And the day was distinguished by private as well as public devotions. Another father, who wrote a few years later, speaking of the manner of observing the Lord's day,' says, • Every one of us sabbatizes spiritually, rejoicing in the meditation of the law, and admiring the workmanship of God.' And the day itself had peculiar sanctity ascribed to it. Others of the fathers might be quoted, who show that they regarded the day as "holy,' and that they kept it holy.' The apostolic practice of observing the first day of the week thus spread with Christianity itself; and their sabbatizing-commemorating the creation on the first day, and their keeping it holy, in the age immediately succeeding that of the apostles, is convincing proof that the Christians of that early period regarded the first day of the week as set apart for the Sabbath instead of the seventh. And with their conduct their recorded opinions
agree. The Lord,' says another of the early fathers, transferred the Sabbath to the Lord's day.' The practice and views of the Church after the apostolic age are not adverted to for the purpose of proving from them any religious obligation to regard the first day of the week as the ancient Sabbath: they are produced merely in support and confirmation of the conclusion already derived from the New Testament itself, respecting the apostolic practice of observing the first day for the same purposes that the Sabbath was appointed to answer. The corresponding practice of the Church in succeeding ages goes to prove, most satisfactorily, that we do not misunderstand the New Testament on this important point.
A fourth link in the chain is found in the fact, that God has transferred the blessing which He pronounced on the Sabbath, to the first day of the week. When the great Creator sanctified'-set apartthe seventh day for Himself, He blessed it to man. Now this ori. ginal blessing, which was pronounced on the Sabbath, has been transferred to the Lord's day. "In every age of Christianity, on this day, the great Head of the Church has manifested His gracious presence in the sanctuary, making the religious ordinances there administered the source of instruction, and comfort, and encouragement to His people, and rendering His word quick and powerful in the awakening and reclaiming of sinners from the error of their ways. On this day God has ever vouchsafed His special blessing to family worship, and has signally furthered the endeavors of pious heads of families to imbue the minds of their children and servants with religious knowledge, and to bring them under the influence of Christian principles. And on this day, too, the devotional exercises of the closet have been, in every period of the Christian Church, especially owned of God: the devotional Christian has ever found them, on this day, peculiarly conducive to the furtherance of personal religion. It is a fact, established by the consentaneous testimony afforded by the annals of the Church, that it has been chiefly by means of the religious observance of the Lord's day that Christianity has extended its benign influence over the millions of our species, who, in different ages, have participated in its blessings. The Divine blessing thus conferred on the first day of the week is a standing proof, is perpetuated evidence in every period of the Church, that the plain and obvious meaning of the New Testament respecting the first day is its true meaning. Were the religious separation of that day of human appointment only, would He who struck Nadab and Abihu dead upon the spot have transferred to it the original Sabbatic blessing? The offence of these two sons of Aaron consisted in their presenting before the altar'a strange offering,' that is, an offering not of Divine appointment; and would that God who gave so awful an expression of His disapprobation of that strange offering,' have accepted, with so much complacency, the strange offering of the first day of the week? Would he have made a mere human institution the most powerful engine for propagating religion in the world? Impossible.
A twofold result has now been attained. In the first instance proof was found that the Sabbath, instead of being abrogated by the Gospel, was solemnly confirmed by Him who is the Lord of the Sabbath ;' and it is now made apparent that the setting apart of the first day for
religious purposes is to be traced to the same high authority. Combine, then, these two results : see, on the one hand, the Sabbath confirmed by Christ and His followers; and, on the other, the first day of the week set apart by His sanction for the leading purposes for which the Sabbath was instituted, and having also the Sabbatic blessing transferred to it; and the conclusion is irresistible, that the institution of the Lord's day,' which Christians observe, is, in fact, the ancient Sabbath changed to another day.
But if Jesus Christ did really intend to continue the Sabbath changed to the first day of the week, why did He not deliver a precept to this effect, and not leave so important a matter to be determined by inference? There is not so much as a show of reason in this question, so far as the perpetuation only of the Sabbatic institution is concerned. When the Divine Being has once imposed a law upon mankind, it must necessarily remain in force until the same high authority repeal it. There could not, therefore, on the abolition of Judaism, be any necessity for a precept confirming the institution of the Sabbath, which had existed from the creation of the world; it must remain as a matter of course, unless expressly abolished too. And still less need was there for a precept on this subject, when the moral law was, without any exception of the fourth commandment, solemnly confirmed on the introduction of the Gospel. The question, then, has nothing in it of plausibility, farther than as the change of the day of the Sabbath is concerned. But a very grave subject here offers itself for consideration. Is not the Divine will, ascertained by legitimate inference, as binding as when made known to us by express precept? A great part of Holy Writ consists of history, examples, Divine songs, proverbs, conversations, allusions, and observations made on particular occurrences and actions; and all these portions of the sacred Scriptures will prove entirely useless if inference is not to be employed in applying what they teach to ourselves. If it is admitted that we learn the Divine will by induction, as well as by precept, then there can be but little offered in extenuation of the presumption of those who ask, Why are we left to find out by inference merely that the Sabbath is changed to the first day of the week ? because the reasoning process which establishes the change is so simple and easy. When we have such certain evidence that the Sabbath remains binding on Christians, surely it must be apparent enough that the conduct of the Lord of the Sabbath and His apostles is sufficient to guide us respecting the mere circumstance of the day of the week on which we ought to celebrate it. And then, again, the circumstances of the infant Christian Church are to be looked at: for while contemplating the condition of the first Christians, we discover the wisdom and goodness of God in introducing the change in question in so unostentatious a manner. It was a part of the Divine counsel that the Jews should have the offers of the Gospel made to them before it should be preached to other people. In pursuance of this counsel they were kept together by Divine Providence as a nation, and their ancient forms of government were allowed to remain, and a considerable portion of time was devoted to the experiment of attempting to win them to the faith of Christ. Many years elapsed before the apostles were directed to turn to the Gentiles.' In such a state of
things it is evident that the change of the day in observing the Sabbath could not have been instantaneously effected to its full extent. Had the Lord of the Sabbath' given at the very outset a formal precept on the subject, to be registered in the New Testament for the guidance of His followers in every age; that precept, to have answered its end, must have reduced at once the seventh day of the week to the rank of common days, and have required the first day of the week to be observed thenceforth, according to the rule laid down by the law of the Sabbath. But could this precept have been rigorously obeyed in the first instance? The Jewish polity remaining, the seventh-day Sabbath was the law of the land, and the violation of this law, by doing any manner of work on it, was guarded against by the severest of all penalties, death, Exod. xxxi, 14. Had, then, the foliowers of Christ, during the time that this trial of the Jewish nation was being made, immediately begun to devote the seventh day of the week to secular business, we may conclude, from the persecuting spirit of the Jewish rulers, that it would have led to their certain destruction, unless a perpetual miraculous interference had been employed in their preservation, or the Jewish government had been at once overthrown, which, as has been seen, would have clashed with the evident design of God to keep his ancient people together, in a national form, until they had had a full and free offer of the Gospel made to them. Such indulgence, then, on the subject of the Sabbath, as was allowed in regard of the ceremonial law, was thus imperatively required by existing circumstances. The Mosaic rites and ceremonies were, in fact, abrogated from the period of the death and resurrection of Christ, but the first Christians were long allowed to pay some regard to them. Although they might not depend on them as a means of their justification in the sight of God, they were permitted to comply with some parts of the ceremonial law, as prudential means for promoting piety. Thus even the great apostle of the Gentiles, when at a late period of his life he went up to Jerusalem, complied with the practice of the Christians there, and purified himself and presented himself in the temple, according to the mode prescribed by the law, Acts xxi, 26. Seeing, then, that, so long as the Jewish polity remained, the law of the land guarded the seventh day of the week from being desecrated by labor; and that, as the greater number of the first converts were persons from the humbler walks of life, whose Jewish masters or employers would not, we may be assured, allow them to abstain altogether from labor on the first day, it was quite in accordance with the general toleration on the subject of Judaism, to allow some indulgence in changing the Sabbath from the day on which the Jews observed it, to the first day of the week. For the • Lord of the Sabbath to direct the apostles to begin immediately and mark out the first day, by meeting on it for religious exercises, and to introduce the substitution of that day for the seventh, by degrees, as far as circumstances would allow, till the Jewish polity was overthrown, is a plan recommending itself to our reason, because it was so admirably adapted to the circumstances of the first Christians, and so strictly in accordance with the general toleration of Jewish prejudices. The change once being fully established by such high authority, a plain notice of it, recorded in the New Testament, was
obviously sufficient to point out the path of duty to all enlightened, conscientious Christians, in every future period of the Church.
But why was the change in the day of the Sabbath made at all, seeing that it was accomplished with such difficulty ? What were the reasons which rendered it necessary that the Sabbath should be transferred from the seventh day of the week to the first? Regarding this question as made in the spirit of humble inquiry, and with a view to ascertain what new use the Sabbath is intended to serve on the first day of the week, it may be answered that it becomes on that day a memorial of the Savior's resurrection. It has been well argued, that the first day of the week was observed by the apostles and first Christians, in honor of the resurrection of Christ, is evident from its being called by a new and honorable name—the Lord's day-as well as from other hints of Scripture, and many plain and express assertions in the history of the primitive Church. The Sabbath, on its first institution, was designed as a memorial of the creation. That work was seen by its Divine Author to be of such importance as to render it proper that a weekly remembrance of it should be made by man; but if the work of creating a world thus deserved to be celebrated, does not its redemption equally merit some such distinguishing mark? The poet sings
"'Twas great to speak a world from nought ;
'Twas greater to redeem.'
And this is the language of inspiration too. The Scriptures teach us that the glory of the Divine attributes is manifested still more illustriously in redemption than creation, and thus suggest even a stronger reason for a memorial of the latter work than the former. This memorial Christians have not in a new Sabbath, but in the old Sabbath changed to another day, the day on which our Lord, having paid down the price of the world's ransom, and having laid, in His death, the foundations of a new moral creation, rose from the grave
that He might enter on His heavenly rest. In addition to all its original ends, the Sabbath now serves as a remembrance of Christ's resurrection. The next letter, which will be on the sanctification of the Sabbath, will conclude the series.
REVIEW OF FLETCHER'S WORKS. The Works of the Rev. John Fletcher, late vicar of Madely. In four
volumes, octavo. New-York, published by B. Waugh & T. Mason, for the Methodist Episcopal Church, at the Conference Office, 200 Mulberry-street.
This is the first edition of the entire works of that able and pious minister of Jesus Christ, ever published in this country. His Checks to Antinomianism, his Spiritual Letters, and a few other miscellaneous matters, have been frequently published, and widely circulated and read, and no doubt have been productive of much good-for it is