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Of keeping Festivals, and Days holy to the Lord; particularly the Lords Day.

True natural religion, that which was common to all nations and ages, did principally rely upon four great propositions; 1. That there is one God; 2. That God is nothing of those things which we see; 3. That God takes care of all things below, and governs all the world; 4. That he is the great Creator of all things, without himself: and according to these were framed the four first precepts of the decalogue. In the first, the unity of the Godhead is expressly affirmed; in the second, his invisibility and immateriality; in the third is affirmed God’s government and providence, by avenging them that swear falsely by his name, by which also his omniscience is declared; in the fourth commandment, he proclaims himself the maker of heaven and earth; for, in memory of God’s rest from the work of six days, the seventh was hallowed into a Sabbath, and the keeping it was confessing God to be the great maker of heaven and earth; and consequently to this, it also was a confession of his goodness, his omnipotence, and his wisdom, all which were written with a sunbeam in the great book of the creature.

So long as the law of the Sabbath was bound upon God’s people, so long God would have that to be the solemn manner of confessing these attributes; but when the priesthood being changed, there was a change also of the law, the great duty remained unalterable in changed circumstances. We are eternally bound to confess God Almighty to be the maker of heaven and earth; but the manner of confessing it is changed from a rest, or a doing nothing, to a speaking something, from a day to a symbol; from a ceremony to a substance; from a Jewish rite to a Christian duty; we profess it in our creed, we confess it in our lives; we describe it by every line of our life, by every action of duty, by faith and trust and obedience: and we do also, upon great reason, comply with the Jewish manner of confessing the creation, so far as it is instrumental to a real duty. We keep one day in seven, and so confess the manner and circumstance of the creation; and we rest also, that we may tend holy duties; so imitating God’s rest better than the Jew in Synesius, who lay upon his face from evening to evening, and could not, by stripes or wounds, be raised up to steer the ship in a great storm. God’s rest was not a natural cessation; he who could not labour could not be said to rest; but God’s rest is to be understood to be a beholding and a rejoicing in his work finished, and therefore we truly represent God’s rest when we confess and rejoice in God’s works and God’s glory.

This the Christian church does upon every day, but especially upon the Lord’s day, which she hath set apart for this and all other offices of religion, being determined to this day by the resurrection of her dearest Lord, it being the first day of joy the church ever had. And now, upon the Lord’s day, we are not tied to the rest of the Sabbath, but to all the work of the Sabbath; and we are to abstain from bodily labour, not because it is a direct duty to us, as it was to the Jews; but because it is necessary, in order to our duty, that we attend to the offices of religion.

The observation of the Lord’s day differs nothing from the observation of the Sabbath in the matter of religion, but in the manner. They differ in the ceremony and external rite: rest, with them, was the principal; with us, it is the accessory. They differ in the office or forms of worship; for they were then to worship God as a creator and a gentle father; we are to add to that, our Redeemer, and all his other excellences and mercies. And, though we have more natural and proper reason to keep the Lord’s day than the Sabbath, yet the Jews had a divine commandment for their day, which we have not for ours; but we have many commandments to do all that honour to God which was intended in the fourth commandment; and the apostles appointed the first day of the week for doing it in solemn assemblies. And the manner of worshipping God, and doing him solemn honour and service upon this day, we may best observe in the following measures:

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