Saturday, February 13, 2016

True Doctrine of the Sabbath: Objection that we are in as great a bondage as the Jews under the law

The following is an excerpt from Sabbathum Veteris Et Novi Testamenti: or the True Doctrine of the Sabbath by Nicholas Bownd. A Critical Edition with Introduction and Analysis by Chris Coldwell from Reformation Heritage Books / Naphtali Press. p.255-257

If we are thus straitly bound to rest, we are still in as great a bondage as the Jews were under the law. 
But whereas some men might hereupon gather that if the case is thus between the Lord and us, in the matter of the Sabbath and that the commandment of resting stands in such force and strength, and binds us so strongly as it does; then our estate is no better than the Jews; the same yoke of bondage still lies upon our necks, that was upon them; and the freedom purchased by Christ is of none account; the liberty proper to a Christian man worth nothing, the gospel has no preferment above the law. 

We are not to rest for those ends and purposes for which they did. For answer thereunto we must consider that, first of all, we are delivered from that manner of keeping the Sabbath which the Jews were tied unto; as that it might put them in remembrance of that great rest which the Lord bestowed upon them, from the continual and intolerable work in Egypt, by the hand of Moses, unto the which end they were bound to have a principal respect; and so to keep the Sabbath, as they might most profit in it, even in thankfulness for that benefit received, which it cannot appertain unto us for we have not been in Egypt, and therefore cannot remember our delivery from thence. Though we are bound to the same rest with the Jews, yet our condition is more easy and tolerable, in that we are free from the appurtenance and this other burden is not laid upon us. 

We also have more liberty than they in the manner of sanctifying the day. The which we shall be so much the rather persuaded of, if we look into that liberty which is brought unto us by Christ, concerning the sanctifying also of the day of rest; which consists in such a multitude of purifications, washings and cleansings, and in such a great number of sacrifices and oblations, all which were doubled upon the Sabbath {Heb 9:9; Num 28:9}. And therefore the observation of the Sabbath was more laborious and painful unto them, and sooner might they offend in it; instead of which we have fewer things to do, and they are more simple, plain and easy, as the hearing of the Word, receiving of the sacraments, and prayer {Acts 2:42}. And  generally as our estate is better than was the Jews' in regard of the whole worship of God, which is now more evident, shorter, not so compounded, more significant, and with less difficulty; so upon the Sabbath, because the whole worship is to be performed, in consideration of that also, great are our privileges above theirs, as in all other things, so in the observation of the Sabbath.

And we are set free from all the childish rudiments annexed unto this day. Therefore, as we have great freedom in all other commandments above them, so in this. For must we needs confess that, though we are still bound as the Jews were to meditate upon the law of God, day and night (Ps 1:2), yet for so much as we are not commanded to carry it about in the skirts of our garments, and upon our bracelets (Num 15:38), as they were. And though we be not exempted from teaching it to our children, no more than they, yet because we are not charged with the writing it upon our gates, and the posts of our doors (Deut 6:8,9), as they were; must we not acknowledge that even in those things that we are bound unto in common with the Jews, we have more liberty than they ever had? So it is in the Sabbath. Though we are bound to keep the rest; yet because we are freed from many rudiments of it, which (as childish instructions to further them in it) they were bound unto, as we have seen in the former part of this treatise, we must thankfully profess that the Lord has dealt more liberally with us, than with them. So now, though we are charged to rest upon the Sabbath, yet when we are not overcharged with those Jewish ceremonies, which had been given to them (being children, Gal 4:3) as furtherances unto them; let us not complain before we have cause, neither murmur against God because we can not be so licentious as we would; seeing we are at such liberty as we are, and as it pleases the Lord to bestow upon us. And let us be so much the more careful to rest, by how much we have but this one thing to attend upon, and are made free from many other, which might hinder us.

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