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those of Mars ; a trident on those of Neptune, &c. At other times the names of these and other
dei ties were imprinted on their several adorers. In such a state of things was it not suitable and even necessary that the servants of the true God, should be distinguish. ed and protected from idolatry by some appropriate and conspicuous character? Now circumcision was a mark excellently fitted to this end. It constantly held up to the Israelites the dignity of their pedigree, the vows of their parents, the covenant of their God, the penalties of perjury, and the rewards of fidelity. It served as an impregnable barrier between the Jews and pagans; for it compelled the former to abstain from mixing with the latter either in marriage or any familiar correspondence ; while it deterred the latter, through a dread and abhor. rence of this painful ceremony, from uniting with the former. It was also so visible and lasting a mark, that deserters from the standard of Jehovah to that of idola. try would te easily detected and punished. In every view then no rite could have been better calculated to answer the great purposes of the Mosaic dispensation.
Another institution admirably adapted to the same purposes was the JEWISH SABBATH.
Some great men, as Spencer, Le Clerc, Paley, and others, think that the first appointment of a weekly Sabbath took place in the wilderness, and was one of the peculiarities of the law of Moses ; and consequently that the account in the second chapter of Genesis of God's resting on and hallowing the seventh day,isonly an anticipated view of the future institution of a sabbath for the Israelites. But it is certainly more natural to apply this passage to the first age of the world ; especially as some allotted season for rest and devotion is plainly dictated by the law of nature ; which not only
points out to man the necessity of some periodical relaxations from bodily and mental toil, but also the duty and advantage of social worship ; but such worship cannot be suitably performed unless certain times are appropriated to it. It is also most reasonable to suppose that man immediately after his creation, when a sense of his Maker's kindness and glory was fresh on his mind, would consecrate certain seasons to his worship ; and that his Creator would call him to the religious observation of the seventh day for the same general reasons, on which he afterwards prescribed it to the Jews. These rational deductions are confirmed by facts. It is a fact that the patriarchs long before the Jewish sabbath, and all, even the most antient heathen nations, distinguished time into weeks of seven days, which no appearances in nature could have suggested, and which therefore must have resulted from the early appointment of a weekly sabbath. It is also a fact that the earliest pagan writers, particularly Homer and Hesiod, speak of the seventh day as peculiarly sacred. The latter styles this day “the illustrious light of the sun;” the former has this verse, “then came the seventh day, which is holy.” Dr. Kennicott also justly notes, that when the sabbath is first mentioned by Moses, he speaks of it, not as a novel institution, but as one, with which they were familiarly acquainted. In some respects however the Jewish sabbath was a new and peculiar appointment.
Nature of the Hebrew worship. Sacrifices and offerings. Their fitness and utility.
IN our last Lecture we made some general observations, to show the expediency of religious ceremonies or symbols in the early ages, with a view to justify the numerous ritual observances prescribed in the Jewish law. We then proceeded to analyze this antient ritual, or to point out the special import and utility of the leading ceremonies, in which it consisted. We largely explained and recommended the initiatory rite of circumcision, and made a few remarks on the antiquity and advantages of a weekly sabbath. We endeavored to show that this institution was probably observed from the beginning of the world. It was however in some respects a new and peculiar appointment to the Jewish
nation. For 1. A new day seems to have been selected for its ob
servance. For the day first marked out for the Jewish sabbath by the circumstance of the manna’s not falling upon it, was not the day originally observed ; for the day thus marked out was the twenty second of the second month ; and counting backward seven days (to the fifteenth) we find the Jews on the fifteenth, by divine direction, performing a long and wearisome march, which would not have been allowed, on the day originally consecrated by God. It is therefore highly probable, and some learned men have accordingly computed, that the Jewish sabbath was appointed on that day of the week, on which their deliverance from Egypt was completed
by the overthrow of Pharaoh in the Red Sea; which deliverance was a special and superadded reason for their celebration of a weekly sabbath. Agreeably, that people are directed on this day to commemorate this glorious deliverance. Their sabbath is also called a perpetual covenant and sign between Jehovah and them, by which -they acknowledged him as their God. But how could it be a distinguishing sign to that people, if it were merely the old sabbath given to all mankind? Besides, their sabbath was expressly limited to the duration of their commonwealth—“thy children shall observe the sabbath throughout their generations,” that is, as long as their polity shall continue ; whereas the primitive sabbath, being founded on moral and perpetual reasons, will remain in force to the end of the world. We may add, it is probable that the antient heathens, having received the original sabbath from Adam and Noah by tradition, consecrated it to the worship of their chief god the sun; and that one reason for God's changing the day to Israel was to restrain them from joining in this idolatrous worship. On the same principle, as the pagans began their sabbath from the rising of the sun, or the first appearing of their deity, the Jews were ordered to begin theirs from the sun setting—“from evening to evening shall ye celebrate your sabbath.” Finally, it is a probable calculation of some learned men, that the Jewish sabbath, reckoning from the creation, was the sixth day of the week ; and of course that the day, on which our Savior rose, and which is observed as the christian sabbath, is the seventh day, which God originally appointed, and which is sometimes called sunday, because the early heathens dedicated it to the sun. If this be fact, there is a most striking fitness and beauty in the revival and observation of that primitive day, which is now a memori
al of those two greatest works of Deity, the creation and redemption of man. We observe
2. That the rest required on the Jewish sabbath was probably new and peculiar. They were ordered on penalty of death to abstain from every worldly occupation, toil, and diversion. They were forbidden even to kindle a fire in their habitations, that is, for the purpose of dressing their food or for any other work. Their antient doctors pushed these precepts to a very superstitious length, forbidding the most necessary act of selfdefence on that day. Agreeably, a thousand Jews, in the beginning of the Maccabean war, suffered themselves to be killed on the sabbath, without making the least resistance. This unwarranted superstition gave advantage to the Romans under Pompey to take their capital city, and to subjugate their nation.
3. Their worship, as well as rest, on this day were peculiar. They were to offer double sacrificer on the sabbath; which denotes it to have been a day of extraordinary devotion. Holy convocations, or assemblies for religious worship, were also required on that day. Agreeably, the Apostle Paul testifies that the law of Moses “from old time,” or from the first ages was “read and preached in the synagogues every sabbath day.” Josephus and Philo also tell us that Moses commanded the Israelites every week to lay aside all worldly business, and to assemble in public to hear the law read and expounded.
4. The ends of this institution were partly political and partly religious. It contributed to the welfare of the body politic by giving needful rest and refreshment both to laboring men and beasts, and by diffusing that knowledge and impression of religious, moral, and polit