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ly they did,) as they were not obliged to continue a reckoning for a fabbath from a time, and in obedience to a command, which was only related to, and obligatory upon the Jews. But this is what the christians, at the beginning of the christian dispensation, did not thoroughly understand, but thought that their obligation to Yudaism still remained; and accordingly they mixed and blended Judaism and christianity together. And as this was the case in many instances, so it was the same with regard to the fabbath; the very first chriftians, not only kept the christian Javbath, a reckoning for which began at the resurrection of Christ; but they also kept the Fews fabbath, in obedienee to the Jewish law, a reckoning for which began at the first gathering of the manna, according to the command given the Jews, which command the christians were not obliged to he governed by, and therefore in this they plainly judaised. And tho', for distinction's fake, when two fabbath days were kept one following the other, one (viz. the · jewish) was called the fabbath day, and the
other the Lord's day; yet this does not alter the case, because it is not the name, but the thing which we are enquiring about. Each day was strictly and properly a fabbath day, or the fabbath day, as each day was kept as a day of boly rest; tho' probably the severities of Judailm were annex’d to one of these fabbaths, and not to the other. In like manner, the Jewilla Sabbath had, by long custom, obtained the name of the seventh day; and therefore the christian fabbath day was by way of distinction called the first day, which custom is not yet worn out; whereas one is as truly a seventh day, or the seventh day as the other, because the denomination of seventh day, is taken from the fix days that preceed it, and it is as applicable to one day, as to another. And as some remains of Judaism continued long among christians; fo this of the Jewish fabbath was of long duration, tho’ probably it must have been greatly injurious to the laborious and poorer part of them, whose time for labour, by keeping two fabbath days in seven, mult have been too much broken in upon. However, in time, the keeping one of these fabbaths (viz. the Jewish) was dropped, by the greatest part of christians, if not by all of them. And in this they acted very justly, for any thing that appears to the contrary, For as they were not obliged to keep two days in feven for fabbaths; fo the fourth commandment was as fully and truly obeyed, with regard to time, by their keeping the christian, as it would have been if they had kept the Jewish sabbath; that is, the command was as truly obeyed. by their keeping that day for a fabbath, which, according to custom, was called the first day, as it would have been if they had kept that day, which, according to custom, was called the seventh day. And in this case there was no change of a fábbath from one day to another, as is pretended; but only when two fabbath days were kept one following another, one of them, viz. the Jewish was dropped.
Thus, Sir, I have laid before you, with great plainness and freedom, and I trust with equal fairness, my thoughts on this subject. A subject which you seem to consider of great importance, tho’I must acknowledge it does not appear to be so to me; because it is the main deßgn of a command, which is a matter of importance to me, and not any circumstance that may be related to it, upon which that main design has no dependence; especially if that circumstance be dubious and doubtful, which, to say the least, I think, is the present case. Supposing that christians were more divided in their judgments and practice, with regard to the time for keeping a fabbath, than they really are, and that the christians in Bris tain kept the day commonly called funday, those in Holland kept the day commonly called faturday, and those in France the day commonly called friday; and supposing my business required that I should be sometimes in each of those countries, the questions is, How I ought to act under such circumstances, so as for my conduct to be justly approved by every wife and good being? Whether I ought to keep the same day in all those countries, and thereby join with my fellow christians in one country, and keep a day by myself in the other two? Or, Whether I ought, in each of those countries, to keep the same day for a fabbath, as the christians in those several countries do, tho' different with regard to time, as aforefaid? And the answer to me is plain and obvious, viz. That in each country I ought to
join with my fellow christians, and keep the same day for a fabbath as they do; and that for these reasons, First, Because the point contended for, (viz. whether it be that the feventh day from the creation, or from the first gathering of the manna, ought to be kept as a fabbath day by christians,) is, to say the least, of doubtful disputation. Secondly, Because the true end and defgn of the institution is as well and as fully answered, and consequently obedience to the fourth commandment with regard to time, is as effectually secured, by my keeping one of those days for a fabbath, as another; that is, whether I keep sunday, faturday, or friday. Thirdly, Because, in the present case, no wise and good end can possibly be answered, by dissenting from my christian brethren, but the contrary; as such dissent, in point of practice, introduces confusion, and great inconvenience to christians, and to society, which inconvenience our brethren the fabbatarians do fadly experience; and therefore conformity, in such a case, and under such circumstances, must be preferable to nonconformity. These reasons, when taken together, would justify my conduct to myself, in such a case; and I verily think, they would do the fame to my Maker. . : I will only add, that as I have nothing in view by this address, but your and the fabbatarians benefit, by endeavouring to remove a bardship which each of you are labouring under; fo, I hope, it will be kindly accepted, from
Your fincere Friend,
And bumble Servant.
WITH Regard to the Dilsenters, particularly considered.
In a second Letter to the Reverend Dr. Stebbing. : : . . ! . - Reverend Sir,
TOUR not taking notice of my
V former letter, has not discouraged . :: me from addressing you again in
the same way. Mr. Foster, I think, in his two letters to you, charges you with being a friend, and an advocate for persecution. This charge, if I mistake not, he endeavoured to support by producing a proposition fubfervient thereto, that you in your former writings have advanced; which proposition it does not appear that you have yet; publickly retracted. The proposition, if I apprehend the case aright, is this, namely, that those who diffent from the established religion of a country, ought to be muleted or pay à tax for their liberty. I.?. .in