Bookclub: True Doctrine of the Sabbath

Discussion in 'Puritan Literature' started by Logan, Jun 15, 2015.

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  1. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    He gives many reasons, but I think the primary gist of it is that the "Sabbath" is properly the name God gave to the seventh day, whereas the "Lord's Day" is the name given by God to the first day (he pulls strongly off of John's use of the phrase in Revelation, as something the churches obviously were familiar with and used otherwise it would have been confusing to use the term). He also cites from many of the early church fathers who use the term "Lord's Day" as something in common use since antiquity.

    He also states that Satan doesn't like this term because it causes people to inquire why it is call "the Lord's Day", and says that if we were to get back to calling it that, then it would be a great help to people's observation of it, to think about it in those terms.

    It seems to be a variant of taking "sola Scriptura" very literally, seriously, and perhaps extremely: Scripture doesn't call it "Sunday" so we shouldn't. And Scripture doesn't call the other days by the names of planets, but calls them the "second, third" and so forth, so we should too. Whether it was a good idea or not, I don't think it really caught on :)
  2. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    When Bownd says the Christian Sabbath is from "morning to morning" how would he apply that practically? Not actually from sunrise on the first day to sunrise on Monday? It would be midnight to midnight yes? That is the position, certainly, of the Scottish Presbyterians and I presume of the later puritans? (it is of Vincent). "Morning to morning" is fine rhetorically, but "sunrise to sunrise" wouldn't bear up Biblically or practically. Furthermore, Fisher, Brown of Haddington and Vincent- all maintaining a midnight to midnight approach (as that is how a 24 hour day is measured)- would also argue that "evening to evening" was not how the Saturday sabbath would have been measured, but that that applied only to the ceremonial sabbath.

    Maybe everyone else was already operating on this assumption, but just thought I'd seek clarification.
  3. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    It's just my impression, but I don't think Bownds has gone into the particulars yet on what exactly "morning to morning" means. It seems like he would argue from sunrise to sunrise based on his previous arguments about the Lord rising. But I really don't know. Sorry!

    7/19 pp 151--174

    He brings up a good point that when we are engaged in our daily labors, we simply cannot focus entirely on the Lord, and vice versa so we have appointed for us a day when we can do that and rest from those things that take up our attention on other days.

    He makes two (unsurprising) offhand comments that were still enjoyable to me:
    First, that it is the duty of all kings and princes to provide that the true religion of God be publicly professed in all places of their dominions.
    Second, that playing of instruments in worshipping God is done away under the gospel.

    What do you think of Bownds' exposition of Exodus 31 and 35, where he makes the case that since the words about resting on the Sabbath immediately preceded those about the building of the tabernacle, that God was telling them not to work even in something that was honoring to himself. If true, this really is quite profound in how important God treated the Sabbath.

    He brings up that "seedtime and harvest" are specifically mentioned as times when, even then, the Sabbath must be kept. How quick we are to come up with reasons we should be excused during those times! Yet, not only is this time of intense labor when we need rest the most (spiritually and physically) but it is also when we are blessed the most, and shouldn't we be worshipping God all the more for it instead of neglecting his worship?

    Quite an amazing statement from the Papacy, that even though they admit that God has decreed that no one work on the Sabbath, yet they grant a pardon for those who must do so if their crops would be destroyed otherwise...provided they give a portion to the church. And this exception is not granted for great Holy days (where they place their holy days above the Sabbath).
  4. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Anybody else still reading along? :)

    7/26 pp 175--199
    One theme that kept coming up through this section is the importance of the magistrate in punishing people who break God's law, including the Sabbath. It should be law, or else those who do not follow it soon pollute those who do.

    I thought it was interesting that Bownds brought up men ascribing good sales, business, crops etc to chance. There has been some talk recently that people in the past never really understood probabilities, but I think it's likely that they understood more than we gave them credit for. Anyway, he points out that what may seem like chance is actually providence.

    He points out that it is beneficial for masters to allow their servants rest, so that even if they won't do it to obey God, at least they should do it out of their own self-interest and profit's sake. Seems like Bounds knew a bit about incentives and economics :)

    He adds that even the animals are allowed to rest, not so much for their sakes but to remind us that this is important. So too with the reminder for the Jews that the ground was to rest every seven years. It was for their instruction more than anything else.

    He quotes a very instructive segment from Calvin, the gist of which is that even strangers in the land were not permitted to labor, because this would have defiled the Jews. When we have the example of evil, we are easily led after it. This would seem to go against those that say only Christians should obey it and let everyone else do what they will, the magistrate should take no action.

    Likewise, he says we must not compel anyone else to work for us on the Sabbath. He gives the example of tailors and shoemakers, but I think in our own day, employees at restaurants and places for shopping are very appropriate. I am amazed that many Christians will claim some kind of Sabbath observance and yet have no scruples about someone else serving them at a restaurant.

    Lastly, he points out that masters must give their servants time off besides the Sabbath, otherwise that will be the only possible time when they can attend to their own business, since all the rest of the time they are attending their master's. A good master thinks of the needs of those under him and even if his servants don't take advantage of the time he gives to them, at least he is guiltless before God.
  5. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  6. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    Still reading along, but have fallen behind. Life has encroached on my reading time :(. I still value your notes and will interact with them as able. Keep it up!
  7. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    Does Bownd explore the relationship of blessings (in the form of profit and wealth) to second causes ordained by God, as opposed to direct blessings? I know it's a little outside the scope of the book's intent, but I am curious.
  8. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I don't recall him going into details like that, in fact I think he only touched on it in passing. He seems remarkably good at staying on topic so far :)
  9. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    pp 200--224

    Some worry that we won't have enough to live on if we don't labor on the Sabbath, to which Calvin says that men are always witty enough to pretend many things why they should not obey, and Bownds says that if masters provide for their servants on the seventh day when they only labor six days, why wouldn't God? We are just being distrustful when we doubt that God will provide enough for us. I was brought in mind of Chick fil-a, which worldly wisdom would say has a poor business model, being closed on Sunday, yet they seem to be quite prosperous.

    On the other hand, those who would usually make the excuse that they would lose money, often seem to be the ones who really are never content with anything except "just a little more".

    He spends a good deal of time in conjecture on what a "Sabbath day's journey" was, which I think was somewhat a waste of time because Scripture doesn't specify and it seems to have been introduced by the Pharisees. However, he sensibly wraps it up by saying that generally, it should be however far we can travel without hindering our Sabbath rest and spending time hearing the Word, and it is good to be mindful to not be needlessly travelling.

    Indeed, he later says that travelling long distances by necessity to attend services or to preach, is a holy work and is permitted---it would actually be disobedience to remain idly at home.

    When talking about preparing food (which he says is necessary to make us fit to worship God), he brings up the central idea of Sabbath keeping: to do that which will most of all further us in God's worship. It really isn't about dos and don'ts, it is about clearing away worldly distractions so that we might worship God more readily and be refreshed in our spirits.

    Bounds believes that the restriction of not dressing meat on the Sabbath was simply practical, because there would be no food provided for them during the time of manna. So he believes that the Jews were not under any such restriction thereafter, and neither are we. Similarly with preparing a fire on the Sabbath, he believes to be identified only with the making of the tabernacle.

    He believes it is appropriate to invite friends over to eat, to provide food for the poor and for our own families, but not to make banquets and feasts upon that day, which would take away our zeal for God.

    This sentence put me in mind of when we expect others to work at restaurants so we can eat after church: "But this is not to the glory of God, that the souls of His servants should faint through famine of hearing the Word, by tarrying at home on the Lord's Day to dress meat."
  10. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    8/9 pp 225--250 (over 50% done)

    Bownds spends a good deal of time talking about what is allowed on the Sabbath: works of necessity. If we are under siege, it is appropriate to defend one's self and fight. If anyone is sick, it is appropriate to get medicine or send for the surgeon. If there is a flood or a fire, it is appropriate to work to allay the disaster. Only we must be careful to do so only when in necessity, not because of the perceived possibility of a necessity (his example here is of thinking that maybe the crops will be rained on Monday, so I should gather them in Sunday).

    We should preserve God's creatures, and not insist so much upon our rest that we are willing that harm come to them. He gives a rather humorous story of a Jew who fell into a privy on Saturday, but because of his reverence to the day, would not let himself be drawn until the next day. The local magistrate would not let him be drawn out on Sunday because of reverence to it, and so because of this superstition, on Monday the Jew was dead in the dung.

    And once again, he urges us to make use of the time we have during the six days of the week, and not by our slothfulness make things "necessary" to be done on the Sabbath.

    One point I really liked that he made is that God has given us six days to work, and the implicit promise in that is that we shall be able to finish all our work in those six days. I found that true a number of years ago in my university studies: I found that I was able to not only finish everything for the week in those six days, but was able to excel doing it, by God's grace, when my fellow students complained of not having enough time.
  11. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am way behind and attempting some catch up today. On page 164 Bownd continues to treat "From what particular things are we commanded to rest". Here he speaks of resting in harvest and in seed time.

    It is in this passage that Bownd beautifully shows us the continuity of the Scriptures. The verses he uses from both the Old and New Testaments show the unity of the word, and the consistency of our God. The promises in the various dispensations of the covenant are the same and we dare not pit them against one another.

    I also see application to the tithe. If our Lord promises to bless and keep us in this command, why would He not do so in the command to give? When I am concerned that by giving the full tithe (or a generous amount) because I believe I will not be able to cover expenses and obligations, that merely shows a lack of trust and faith in the One who provides all things.
  12. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I liked that passage too, Brett.

    8/16 pp 251--274
    Bownds seems to poke a little a lawyers of his day by saying that if lawyers only worked for the cost of their material during the Sabbath then their fees would be extremely small.

    He wraps up this section (on what is permissible to do on the Sabbath) with the sound general principle that one doing anything on the Sabbath should not act for his own gain.

    Even in his day some people thought the minister only labored on Sunday, which he disabuses them of and says he labors all week.

    The gospel has no preferment above the law. Christian liberty is not at odds with obeying God. "Neither the liberty of the gospel is taken from us, nor the bondage of the law cast upon us." Yes! And we are just as prone to abuse the Sabbath in the name of "Christian liberty" as we are to become Pharisaical regarding it.

    We also even have a better rest than the Jews did, for we don't have their ceremonies to worry about.

    He seems to be something of a product of his day when he relates the story of the child born with a dog's head as retribution for the father going hunting on the Sabbath.

    He relates a lot of stories of "judgment" because of people being disobedient on the Sabbath. I was glad that at the end he admitted that we can't really speculate on the reasons for a disaster, but we should still take warning to ourselves.

    Recreations hinder us more and are less needful than the works of our vocation, yet we often think we do well when we rest from work and not from recreation.
  13. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    8/23 pp 275--299

    Bownds is careful to state that in general he is not against all recreation, and indicates that it is necessary for children :)

    One discussion question I would like to ask here is what about speaking about recreation or non-spiritual things on the Sabbath? The reason I ask is because for many of us who live far away from the church, the only time we have to fellowship with our brothers and sisters is on the Lord's Day. Our congregation has a fellowship lunch every Lord's Day and while I would say that the discussions mostly revolve around the Sermon or things we are reading, sometimes it does go into other things, like what we did during the week, good things that happened at work etc. I want to know what is going on with others so we can better pray for them and have a feeling of their needs and how God has been blessing them. Is this the wrong attitude? What about talking about movies we've seen? Political news?

    Bownds makes a good point that if looking at a woman lustfully breaks the commandment in the heart, then so too is longing after and thinking about our work on the Sabbath, even if not physically engaged in it. Distractions are to be avoided.

    "To keep it holy." This indicates positively that we are to be engaged in worship and holy things. Not in idleness.

    Keep it holy in serving the Lord: this is the crux of Sabbath keeping.
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    Congratulations on making it though book one. :applause:
  15. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

  16. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    8/30 pp 300--324

    Bownds continues to hammer home the point that the Sabbath is not a day for idleness. Those who lie at home or sleep the day away are doing no better than the ox and the ass who also rest upon this day.

    The Christian is to spend the day in hearing the Word, and worshipping God and must labor to that end. He criticizes those who would come late to the service and leave early as not giving their best effort and being stingy with "their" time.

    He also seems to think very highly of laws that would require people to attend services and hear the Word, and hoped that King James would enact more as they were needful. What do you think of this? Should this be followed today in America?
  17. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritanboard Commissioner

    Excellent. :up:
  18. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I imagine this was the law in the early days of settlement by the Separatists and Puritans, wasn't it? Thanks Logan, for continuing this thread. Several insights you've posted have been very thought-provoking for me.
  19. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    9/6 pp 325--348

    Continuing the need to gather together and worship on the Sabbath:
    Nowhere else do we get the nearness to God and His worship that we do at church.

    Scripture should be read more in church, since preaching (as a means of hearing the Word) may be faulty but we know God's Word is not. Bownds recommends several chapters. This point struck me since I know the practice in most churches I have been to is to read perhaps a few verses. Perhaps this was more critical in Bownds' day since not every family could afford to own the Scriptures and so would hear it primarily at church, but I can't help but think we would all benefit from this in our own day as well. At the very least, being willing to spend more time on it than we do. What are your thoughts? Discuss.

    As a side note, Bownds does not recommend having the Lord's Supper every Sabbath, though he didn't go into great detail as to why.
  20. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    I am reminded of an article Carl Truman wrote a couple years ago recounting a time he visited Kings chapel at Cambridge University. There was a young Muslim woman in attendance there and Truman states that she likely heard more Scripture in that service then she would ever hear in most of our Protestant and Reformed churches. The article is interesting and worth a read.
  21. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I know several churches that read a full NT and OT chapter each service and go through the whole bible chapter by chapter regularly. Rev. Ruddell and CRCPC does this I believe; as did my old church. As far as Bownd and weekly communion, the nation when he first began ministering was protestant in name only and those that knowledgeably held reformed doctrine were a distinct minority. So, it was simply not a consideration from a practical standpoint which probably explains why he did not dwell on it. Recall as well, the Puritan consensus at Westminster is that while it should be frequent, how often is a circumstance to be determined by the church elders who best know the shape of their flock. Cf. the directory for worship.
  22. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree that Bownd is very helpful in placing emphasis on the importance of the reading of God's Word in public worship.

    The Westminster Directory for the Public Worship of God recommends that 'ordinarily one chapter of each Testament be read at every meeting; and sometimes more, where the chapters be short, or the coherence of the matter requireth it. It is requisite that all the canonical books be read over in order… and ordinarily, where the reading in either Testament endeth on one Lord's day, it is to begin the next.'

    I can see that it would be of extra importance if not everyone was able to read the Scriptures at home, but nevertheless I believe it to be a good practice that benefits God's people. Also, perhaps we shouldn't assume that everyone in our congregations has read the entire Bible, or does so regularly, in which case following the advice of the Directory would cause them to hear parts seldom, if ever, read (however many years it might take to get through it!).
  23. Jeri Tanner

    Jeri Tanner Moderator Staff Member

    I have often thought that it must be a great blessing for the churches to take up the practice of more public reading of Scripture. Paul instructed Timothy to devote himself to it (and so it must have been one of the 'traditions' of the apostles); who are we to say that since people now own Bibles, we no longer need this? Very interesting, great discussion.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  24. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    Pages 349-374

    Bownd speaks (from p364) of the importance of private worship in preparing for public worship, 'the want of which preparation, is the cause that the Word is so unprofitably heard of a great many'. Nevertheless 'the Lord is merciful, and He does not always deal with men according to their desserts; and therefore many times when they come unprepared, He blesses His own ordinance to them'.
    Men should thus be persuaded of the need to prepare themselves, and then examine themselves, 'not only how they have spent the week past, and every day in it… but also generally what is their estate, what graces they lack, what are their sins past, what their infirmities present.'
    We should also pray for the good of the church and the service of that day.

    I appreciated Bownd's emphasis on the need of private meditation, 'a most notable part of God's service', which is 'that exercise of the mind, whereby we calling into our remembrance that which we know, do further debate of it (as it were) with ourselves, reasoning about it so, and applying it to ourselves, that we might have some use of it in our practice.' Bownd brings some Scriptures to bear on the necessity and importance of this exercise: Josh 1:8, Ps 1:2-3, Ps 119:15, 23, 78, 97, 99.

    Bownd (p375) recommends that we should spend time that we have free from public worship in the meditation of that which we have heard and read that day, and gives a short and useful example of how to do this ('an example to teach the simpler sort how to meditate'!):
    Men should 'consider whether it was a virtue that was commended unto them, then to examine whether they find it in themselves or not. If yea, then give thanks to God for it and use the means to continue it, seeing it is so excellent. If no, then be sorry for it, and pray to God that He might give it. If it is a sin condemned, and you find it present in yourself, or that it has been in times past; then consider whether you have repented of it sufficiently, and pray to God for the forgiveness of it. If you find it not, give thanks to God that has kept you from it, and beware lest you fall into it hereafter, seeing it is so dangerous. If they are the promises of God that have been preached to you, then consider how you believe them, and what comfort you take in them, and labour to enjoy them. If they are the threatenings of God's judgments, look unto this, what fear is wrought in you thereby, and hatred of sin to avoid them, even as the promises do bring forth a love unto godliness, with a great many meditations more, which the Spirit of God will teach us, if we pray for Him, and be acquainted with this exercise… these I have set down as a taste to lead us unto the rest.'

    Bownd warns us that the devil, if he cannot keep us from God's worship, will instead attempt to keep us from meditating on that which was read and preached, that we might lose the profit of them… A good reminder for us all that we ought not to rest only in the attending upon the preaching of the Word and even attentive and spiritual listening (as it were), but that there is great gain also to be had in meditation throughout the rest of the Sabbath day (and no doubt beyond).
  25. TheOldCourse

    TheOldCourse Puritan Board Sophomore

    Thank you for posting those excerpts and comments Paul, they were a great reminder and encouragement to me today on the Lord's day.
  26. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you very much for your thoughts, Paul.

    9/13 pp349--374 (only three more weeks!)

    Bownds notes that it is appropriate to take a collection for the poor on the Sabbath, and in giving we both thank God for blessings received the previous week, and trust in Him for provision in the coming week.

    He states that this is not to be done during the service, but qualifies that with the procedure that was used during his day: with men changing money and the collectors going around to each person individually. His concern was that such proceedings disrupted the service and that people weren't paying attention to the minister while this was happening. For this reason (and others) he recommends it be done after the service, even though people often disperse before the collectors can get to each one.

    The whole day is to be devoted to the Lord, not just a few hours. We consider the entire day of the other six to be ours, why not the entire day for the Lord too? Keeping the Sabbath is not only in attending public worship, but in reading the Scriptures ourselves and spending the time in profitable conversation.

    He frowns upon sleeping unreasonably longer on this day than on others (slothfulness, I take it), as this is merely taking advantage of carnal rest.

    He notes that we profit far more from the sermon if we prepare ourselves beforehand and meditate on it afterward, and that much of the fault lies not with the minister, but with us.

    We should take care to not only hear the Scriptures, but to read them ourselves too on this day.

    He has some excellent sections on meditation, which he says is extremely important, though also admittedly hard. One reason for this is that it is not an outward action like attending worship is, nor is it done before men. I confess I fall far short in meditation.
  27. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    9/20 pp 375--399

    After hearing the sermon, reading something edifying, etc., it is extremely helpful to discuss it with others. Not only do we sharpen each other, but we help ourselves to remember it better.

    Bownds says that several people speaking with each other, bouncing ideas back and forth, may learn what no single one of them could by himself. I have experienced this: where a good discussion led to a discovery (for all of us) of deeper insights. He notes that several brands in a fire burn hotter than any single one could by itself.

    Psalms are a great help in prompting us to remember God's works, and to give glory to God for them, and is a very appropriate Sabbath activity. I have found meditating on the Psalms and praying through them to be a help to myself.

    He talks about the goal of learning in science, or at a university: to understand more about God's creation and to glorify Him for it.

    Singing Psalms is good and appropriate not just at church, but in our homes. There is a great variety in the Psalms and what may not strike you in a particular circumstance, may strike you later.
  28. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    Experience shows the truth and value of this. The difficult thing to overcome is the tendency to engage in conversation over mundane or worldly matters and never taking it to heavenly matters.

    I've noticed two ways the Psalms can "strike you later". One, if you are continually reading the Psalms, you will read (or sing) one at an appropriate time of need, where the subject matter is most pertinent. Two, if you have them hidden in your heart, you can recall them at a time of need. The practice of the first will lead to the experience of the latter.
  29. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    9/27 pp 400--424

    Bownds speaks quite a length about the benefit and necessity of singing the Psalms. In my work trips I have been blessed to visit churches that do at least incorporate a psalm into the worship service, but it is usually just one, and often from the same few psalms (1, 23, 100). Bownds would have a few words with such practice, letting these churches know just how much they are missing of the fullness of the riches of the Psalms!

    Works of mercy are particularly appropriate for this day. In college I volunteered to read Scripture on Sunday afternoons and was greatly blessed by it myself. However, it should not become a substitute for worship.

    He has words for governors or heads of households. If we are so careful about things like financial affairs and making sure those under us give a good account of their money or education, then why not their spiritual life as well? We will be judged if we are careless in looking after the spiritual well-being of those under us.

    He has a nice section where he quotes Peter Martyr and Augustine on the use of the sword, which he says is for the furtherance of true religion, and that those who tolerate a false religion are abusing their authority.

    I went ahead and finished the book, so closing thoughts:
    Often we treat the Sabbath as a day for our own physical pleasures, instead of a day for honoring God and secondarily for our spiritual benefit. Bownds had a phrase that was something to the effect that we feel we haven't enjoyed the day unless we have dishonored God in it, and that struck home. When we talk about having a "good weekend", are we thinking of the spiritual nourishment and benefit we received? Or just the amount of time spent playing or getting things done around the house? Hopefully every weekend is a good weekend for the Christian, since he has a day of rest given just for him, that he might find rest and delight in God.
  30. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I'm happy your enjoyed the book Logan. The comment you mentioned (to the effect "Many think they haven’t celebrated the Lord’s Day unless on it they have offended the Lord countless ways") sums up Chrysostom and Calvin, with whom (and others) Bownd caps the book before the conclusion as follows.
    Nicholas Bownd, Sabbathum Veteris et Novi Testamenti: or The True Doctrine of the Sabbath (Naphtali Press and Reformation Heritage Books, 2015),
    243-244. This title at this writing remains on sale at Reformation Heritage Books, and is also available from Naphtali Press singly or at a discount in book bundle offerings.
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