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I have now closed the scripture view of my subject, which I have kept open so long as I could find any additional authority, or any new argument on the opposite side.
I can say with truth, that I have not passed over, or suppressed, any argument, or any text, which I could find advanced by any author at the other side, which seemed to me to have the least weight; but that it has been my endeavour, throughout my review of the question, to state the case of my opponents as fully and as strongly as if it were my own.' Any person who will take the trouble of comparing the number and weight of the arguments and texts, which I have given on the Archbishop's side, with those which he himself has put forward, must confess that I have stated his case much more strongly than he has done himself; and will give me credit for fairness and candour in my review of both sides of the question.
When my readers, who are not extensively read in divinity, hear of so many able and learned divines contending against the sabbath, they may, perhaps, at first be shaken by such high authorities; but when they find the arguments of these giants of literature so weak, their deduc. tions so inconclusive, their quotations so irrelevant, they will be persuaded that the talents and learning of these great men were contending against the truth; and this persuasion will be still more strengthened by observing the failure of all such attempts. Those authors made no converts to their opinions. Their works were confined to the learned, who were capable of justly appreciating their arguments, and by whom they were “ weighed, and found wanting.” At the present day very few, if any, of our or
thodox divines incline to their opinions. The sabbath, based upon divine authority, has maintained its ground, and lives in the hearts and affections of Christians.
And now, lest any of my readers, who have not an extensive knowledge of the works of our divines, might still be influenced by the supposed weight of human authority at the other side, on account of my having quoted so many authors against the sabbath, and none for it, I think it necessary to caution them against a supposition which the perusal of these pages might seem to countenance, that the majority is against us. I have not brought forward any human authority in support of the sabbath, because my sole object was to try those adverse opinions by the test of scripture alone. But notwithstanding my not having made a parade of human authors, I may say with Elisha, (2 Kings vi. 16,) “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” The opponents of the sabbath are a very small minority of our divines; and if the question were a matter to be decided by the weight of human authority, we should have a vast preponderance in favour of a sabbath.
The Archbishop of Dublin's little pamphlet, of small size, light weight, and cheap price, is calculated to make more converts than the massy and ponderous folios of his predecessors. He has invented no new argument. He has hastily plucked a few—shall I call them flowers or weeds ?---which- grew by the way-side, as he ran through the works of his masters; he has thrown them into a popular form, and scattered them wide amongst those, to whom they seemed new, many of whom were incapable of estimating their value, and ready to rely on the authority of an Archbishop of our church. And because he has not brought forward anything new or learned, our professors and divines did not think it necessary to answer him, and
perhaps expected little honour amongst the learned from the contest. But of what use is their learning, if they do not protect the unlearned from error, and shield the faith of the babes of the flock?
When Paine collected the oft-refuted objections against revelation, moulded them into a popular form, accommodated them to the revolutionary mania of the day, and scattered wide the poison, which had not hitherto found a congenial soil of ignorance and vulgar depravity, did the learned men of that time look on with apathy and neglect ? Far from it. His arguments, although exploded and obsolete among the learned, but new to those for whom they were intended, were powerfully met in language level to the capacities of those whom they were likely to injure, and were triumphantly refuted, and soon forgotten. But why have not the arguments against the sabbath, the divinely appointed bulwark and safeguard of revealed religion, met the same speedy and decisive refutation ?
One topic still remains to be considered, which makes a prominent feature in the writings of the opponents of the sabbath, upon which it is necessary that I should say a few words: I mean the opinion and decision of the church upon this question.
His Grace, as well as those authors from whom he has borrowed his remarks, would have us to believe that, the sabbath being abrogated, the church has in its stead, and without reference to it, established a new festival resting solely upon her own authority.
To examine this question with reference to the opinion and decision of the catholic church at large, if I were capable of it, would require an interminable dissertation. But as our church has done this already, I appeal to her testimony and authority. She has adopted the forms and ceremonies, the decisions and doctrines, of the pure and primitive ages, of sound, scriptural, and apostolical churches.
His Grace, all through his pamphlet, has fallen into the same error, of which we took notice in considering the opinions of Warburton :—that the church had established a new festival called “the Lord's-day,” in commemoration of our Lord's resurrection, without any reference to the sabbath; and accordingly he always calls the day by that exclusive name, and would give us to understand that he is speaking the language of the church.
The same precipitancy and want of consideration, or examination, which we have had to lament in the view he has taken on this question with respect to the scriptures, are manifest here also in the view he has taken of the opinions and decisions of the church.
In considering the scripture account of the sabbath, I have twice had occasion to remark that the day was never called by the name of the Lord's-day in the gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, or the epistles. We find it first, and once only, so called upwards of sixty years after our Lord's resurrection, by St. John, in his Revelation. The name by which it was called in those other inspired writings was, literally translated, “ The first of the sabbaths.” But our business now lies with the church; with regard to which, I cannot better expose his Grace's errors, than by laying them alongside the liturgies, the calendars, the rubrics, and the articles of our pure and primitive church, as being the most faithful witness, the soundest, and most judicious expositor of the opinions of the universal church of Christ.
His Grace, as I have said, always calls the festival “ the Lord’s-day,” and wishes to leave the impression upon the minds of his readers, that the church does the same. Unwilling as I am to separate, even in contemplation, those whom God hath joined together, yet I am obliged, distinctly and severally to consider, the respect and regard which our church pays to each.
First, then, as to the Lord's-day. How often does that appellation occur in our calendar, lists of festivals, tables, rules, orders, ceremonies, services, rubrics, liturgy, and articles ? Not ONCE. The only remote reference is in calling the sunday-letter the · Dominical-letter. It occurs once in the canons, (6th Irish, 13th English,) and in this case we may judge from the context, that the authors of the canons intended to include the sabbath under the appellation. And surely the day upon which the same Lord rested from the works of creation, and blessed it, and sanctified it, and commanded it to be kept holy, as well deserves to be called His day, as that upon which he arose from the dead. It is remarkable that this very canon seems to base the observance of that day on God's holy will and pleasure, and the observance of other holydays on the orders of this church.' But because the name does not elsewhere occur, do I say that our church does not mean in any way to dedicate that day to our Lord's resurrection ? Far from it. I believe she is found fault with for not adopting the appellation, and for using the popular, and even heathen, name of the day of the week, Sunday, without any reference in the name to the religious grounds of its observance. But this was done prudently and advisedly. If she had called it the sabbath, she would have seemed to exclude the Lord's-day; and if she had used the name of the Lord's-day alone, she would have countenanced the pernicious error of the abolition of the sabbath. But as she wished that the two objects should be indissolubly joined together, and as she could not call the day by both names, she called it by neither. Being of opinion that it is a matter of indifference, as to the true spirit of the sab