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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - ON THE FOURTH COMMAND IN THE DECALOGUE


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    DISPUTATION LXXVII

    ON THE FOURTH COMMAND IN THE DECALOGUE

    I. This precept contains two parts, a command and a reason for it. But the command is first proposed in few words; it is afterwards more amply explained. The proposition is in these words: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." The explanation is thus expressed: "Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work," &c. But the reason is comprehended in the following words: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the seas," &c.

    II. In the proposition of the precept, three things are worthy of observation:

         (1.) The act prescribed, which is sanctification.

         (2.) An anxious and solicitous care about not omitting this act, which is expressed in the words, "remember," and "do not forget."

         (3.) The object, which is called "the Sabbath," or "the seventh day;" that is, the seventh in the order of the days in which the creation was commenced and perfected. It is also called "the Sabbath," from the circumstance of God having rested at that period, and man was required to repose.

    III. The explanation contains two things:

         (1.) A concession or grant, that men may spend six days in labours belonging to the natural life and its sustenance; this concession contains the equity of the command.

         (2.) A command about resting from those works on the seventh day, with an enumeration of the persons whose duty it is to rest: "Not only thou, but also thy son, thy man servant, thy maid servant, thy cattle, and thy stranger shall rest;" that is, thou shalt cause as many persons to rest as are under thy power.

    IV. The reason contains, in itself, two arguments: The First is the example of God himself, who rested from his works on the seventh day. The Second is the benediction and sanctification of God, by which it was his pleasure that the seventh should be separated from the rest of the days, and devoted to himself and to his worship.

    V. "To sanctify the seventh day," is to separate it from common use, and from such as belong to the natural life, and to consecrate it to God, and to acts which belong to God, to things divine, and to the spiritual life. This sanctification consists of various acts.

    VI. We think that it may be made a most useful point of consideration, how far must abstinence from those works which belong to the natural life be extended? And though we prescribe nothing absolutely, yet we should wish that the liberty of performing such labour should be restricted as much as possible, and confined to exceedingly few necessary things. For we have no doubt that the Sabbath is in various ways violated among Christians, by not abstaining from such things as are lawful to be done on other days.

    VII. We think that the acts which belong to the sanctification of the Sabbath may be included in two classes:

         (1.) Some per se and primarily belong to the worship of God, and are in themselves grateful and acceptable to God.

         (2.) Others are subordinate to those acts which are to be performed, and they answer the purpose, that those acts may, in the best possible manner, be performed to God by men; such are those which belong to the instruction of believers in their duty.

    VIII. But this kind of sanctification ought not only to be private and domestic, but also public and ecclesiastical. For it is the will of God, not only that he should be acknowledged, worshipped, invoked and praised by each individual in private, but likewise by all united together in the great church; that he may, by this means, be owned to be the God and Lord not only of each individual, but likewise of the whole of his universal family.

    IX. But because the neglect of God and of things divine easily creeps upon man, who is too closely intent on this natural life, it was, therefore, necessary that men's memories should be refreshed by this word "Remember," &c.

    X. But now, with regard to the seventh day, which is commanded to be sanctified. In it, this is moral and perpetual -- that the seventh day, that is, one out of the seven, be devoted to divine worship, and that it be unlawful for any man, at any time, after having expended six days in the labours of the natural life, to continue the seventh day in all the same labours, or in the same manner.

    XI. But with regard to that day among the seven which followed the six days in which God completed the creation, its sanctification is not of perpetual institution and necessity; but it might be changed into another day, and in its own time it was lawful for it to be changed, that is, into the day which is called "the Lord's day;" because the new creation was then perfected in Christ our head, by his resurrection from the dead; and it was equitable and right that the new people should enter on a new method of keeping the Sabbath.

    XII. That reason which was taken from the example of God who rested on the seventh day, (that is, when the creation was completed,) endured to the time of the new creation; and, therefore, when it ceased, or at least when a second reason was added to it from the new creation, it was no subject of wonder that the apostles changed it into the following day, on which the resurrection of Christ occurred. For when Christ no longer walks in the flesh, and is not known after the flesh, all things become new.

    XIII. But the benediction and the sanctification of God are understood to be transferred from the Sabbath to the Lord's day; because all the sanctification which pertains to the new earth, is perfected in Jesus Christ, who is truly the Holy of holies, and in whom all things are sanctified for ever.

    XIV. Because the reason, by which God afterwards persuaded the people to observe the Sabbath, was for a sign between him and His people that God would engage in the act of sanctifying them; it may likewise be accommodated to the times of the New Testament, and may persuade men to the observance of the [new] Sabbath.

    XV. If any one supposes that the Lord's day is by no means to be distinguished from the rest of the days [of the week]; or if, for the sake of declaring evangelical liberty, this person has changed it into another day, either into Monday or Tuesday; we think he ought at least to be considered a schismatic in the church of God.

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