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then, with regard to Acts xx. 7. where it is related that the disciples dwelling at Troas came together to break bread upon the first day of the week,' who shall determine with certainty whether this was a periodical meeting, or only held occasionally, and of their own accord; whether it was a religious festival, or a fraternal meal ; whether a special assembly convoked on that particular day, or a daily meeting like those recorded in chap. ii. 42. compared with v. 46; lastly, whether this meeting was held by order of the apostles, or whether it was merely permitted by them in compliance with the popular custom, according to their frequent practice on other occasions ?
The inference deduced from 1 Cor. xvi. 2. is equally unsatisfactory ; for what the apostle is here enjoining, is not the celebration of the Lord's day, but that on the first day of the week (if this be the true interpretation of κατά μίαν σαββάτων, per unam sabbathorum) each should lay by him (that is at home) for the relief of the poor ; no mention being made of any public assembly, or of any collection at such assembly, on that day. He was perhaps led to select the first day of the week, from the idea that our alms ought to be set aside as a kind of first-fruits to God, previous to satisfying other demands ; or because the first day of the week was most convenient for the arrangement of the family accounts. Granting, however, that the Corinthians were accustomed to assemble on that day for religious purposes, it no more follows that we are bound to keep it holy in conformity with their practice, without a divine command to that effect, than that we are bound to observe the Jewish sabbath in conformity with the practice of the
Philippians, or of Paul himself, Acts xvi. 13.. on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made. xvii. 2. •Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the scripture. xviii. 3, 4. “he abode with them and wrought .... and he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath ;' following his own occupation at home, as we have reason to believer during the six remaining days.
Those therefore, who on the authority of an expression occurring only once in Scripture, keep holy a sabbath-day, for the consecration of which no divine command can be alleged, ought to consider the dangerous tendency of such an example, and the consequences with which it is likely to be followed in the interpretation of Scripture.
Hence we arrive at the following conclusions; first, that under the gospel no one day is appointed for divine worship in preference to another, except such as the church may set apart of its own authority for the voluntary assembling of its members, wherein, relinquishing all worldly affairs, we may dedicate ourselves wholly to religious services, so far as is consistent with the duties of charity ; and, secondly, that this may conveniently take place once every seven days, and particularly on the first day of the week ;* provided always that it be observed in compliance with the authority of the church, and not in obedience to the edicts of the magistrate ; and likewise that a snare be not laid for the conscience by the allegation of a divine commandment, borrowed from the decalogue ; an error against which Paul diligently cautions us, Col. ii. 16. “let no man therefore judge you,' &c. For if we under the gospel are to regulate the time of our public worship by the prescriptions of the decalogue, it will surely be far safer to observe the seventh day, according to the express commandment of God, than on the authority of mere human conjecture to adopt the first. I perceive also that several of the best divines as Bucer, Calvin, Peter Martyr, Musculus, Ursinus, Gomarus, and others, concur in the opinions above expressed.*
* As therefore the seventh day is not moral, but a convenient recourse of worship in fit season, whether seventh or other number—.' The Likeliest Means to remove Hirelings out of the Church. Prose Works, III, 367.
Several of these divines are elsewhere mentioned by Milton in terms of commendation. • Bucer (wbom our famous Dr. Rainolds was wont to prefer before Calvin) in his comment on Matthew, and in his second book of the kingdom of Christ .... This book he wrote here in England, where he lived the greatest admired man. Tetrachordon. Prose Works, II. 232. See also the address to the Parliament, prefixed to the Judgment of Martin Bucer concerning Divorce, 68–78. Peter Martyr is twice quoted with reference to the same subjects. Ibid. 67, 233. Musculus is also called “ a divine of no mean fame.' Ibid. 233. In proof of Milton's assertion that these divines agree with him on the subject of the sabbath, the following passages may be cited from their respective works. “Sic de sabbatho. Quod septimo die, illa quæ a Judæis observatur numeratione, ab omni opere servili vacandum erat, præceptum legis externum fuit, solis Judæis, quibus datum exstitit, observandum, &c. ... Hæc erro ad nos pertinent, illa Judæis recte relinquuntur.' Bucer, in sacra quatuor Evangelia Enarrat. Perpet. ad Matt. x. 9. Cæterum non dubium quin Domini Christi adventu, quod cæremoniale hic sin sabbatho) erat, abolitum fuerit. Ipse enim veritas est, cujus præsentia figuræ omnes evanescunt .... Ideo sublatam umbram fuisse rei futuræ alibi scribit apostolus ; corpus exstare in Christo, hoc est, solidam veritatis substantiam, quam illo loco bene explicavit. Ea non uno die contenta est, sed toto vitæ nostræ cursu, donec penitus nobismetipsis mortui, Dei vita impleamur. A Christianis ergo abesse debet superstitiosa dierum observatio,' &c. &c. Calvin. Instit. Christian. cap. viii. Sect. 31. See also Commeni. in quinque libros Mosis, nearly at the end of the preface to the remarks on the Mosaic law. “Deinde quod locum Pauli Heb. iii. et iv. concernit, notandum est illud hodie non esse alligandum septimo diei, sed exigere a nobis perpetuam obedientiam verbo Dei præstandam. Est enim nobis perpetuus sabbathismus, quo coram Deo in spiritu comparentes, majestatem illius celebramus, cum adoratione incocamus, ac vocem illius audimus; verum hic sensus et modus iste mystici sabbathismi non excludit ecclesiasticorum conventuum usum, sicut hodie fanatici quidam homines somniant, ac seipsos una cum aliis ab ecclesiæ conventibus abducunt.' Musculus, Comment, in Psalm. xcv. 8. • Cum igitur sabbathum septimani diei typus fuerit, admonens populer et de suo officio, sive de pietate erga Deum, et de beneficio Dei erga populum per Christum præstando, una cum aliis cæremoniis, adventu Christi, per quem est impletum quod illa significabant, abrogatum est. Quod etiam Paulus testatur Col. ii.' &c. &c. URSINUS, Tractat. Theolog. in expositione Quarti Præcepti. Christiani respondent Judæis . . . . sabbathuin abrogatum ratione cæremoniæ et geminæ circumstantiæ, &c .... deinde observatione septimi illius diei definiti. Quo modo appendix erat legis moralis, ad populum Judaicum solum pertinens. GOMARUS, Oper. Theolog. in Explicatione Ep. ad Colossenses, cap. ii. PETER MARTYR, however, seems to hold a different opinion. Qui autem robustiori fide erant præditi, illi omnes dies perinde habuerunt. Dominicam tamen diem excipimus; pertinet enim ad decalogum, ut ex hebdomada integra unus dies divino cultui consecretur,' &c. Comment, in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. xiv.
OF OUR DUTIES TOWARDS MEN ; AND THE GENERAL
VIRTUES BELONGING THERETO,
HITHERTO we have treated of the virtues comprehended in our duty towards God; we are next to speak of those which belong to our duty towards men; although even in these we may be considered as serving God, so long as they are done in obedience to the divine command. Matt. vii. 12. all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'
Col. iii. 23. “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.' James i. 26, 27. “if any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain ; pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.' 1 John iv. 20. if a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not