"keep the Sabbath holy."

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Blueridge Believer

Puritan Board Professor
...... Our Lord asserts the lawfulness of doing works of mercy on the Sabbath day. We read that he healed a man who had the dropsy on the Sabbath day, and then said to the lawyers and Pharisees, "Which of you shall have an donkey or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?" This was a home-thrust, which could not be fended off. It is written, "They could not answer Him."

The qualification which our Lord here puts on the requirements of the fourth commandment, is evidently founded on Scripture, reason, and common sense. The Sabbath was made for man, for his benefit, not for his injury, for his advantage, not for his hurt. The interpretation of God's law respecting the Sabbath was never intended to be strained so far as to interfere with charity, kindness, and the real needs of human nature. All such interpretations only defeat their own end. They require that which fallen man cannot perform, and thus bring the whole commandment into disrepute. Our Lord saw this clearly, and labored throughout His ministry to restore this precious part of God's law to its just position.

The principle which our Lord lays down about Sabbath observance needs carefully fencing with cautions. The right to do works of necessity and mercy is fearfully abused in these latter days. Thousands of Christians appear to have trampled down the hedge, and burst the bounds entirely with respect to this holy day. They seem to forget that though our Lord repeatedly explains the requirements of the fourth commandment, He never struck it out of the law of God, or said that it was not binding on Christians at all.

Can any one say that Sunday traveling, except on very rare emergencies, is a work of mercy? Will any one tell us that Sunday trading, Sunday dinner parties, Sunday excursion-trains on railways, Sunday deliveries of letters and newspapers, are works of mercy? Have servants, and shop-men, and engine-drivers, and coachmen, and clerks, and porters, no souls? Do they not need rest for their bodies and time for their souls, like other men? These are serious questions, and ought to make many people think.

Whatever others do, let us resolve to "keep the Sabbath holy." God has a controversy with the churches about Sabbath desecration. It is a sin of which the cry goes up to heaven, and will be reckoned for one day. Let us wash our hands of this sin, and have nothing to do with it. If others are determined to rob God, and take possession of the Lord's day for their own selfish ends, let us not be partakers in their sins.

J.C. RYLE
 
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