The Practical Duties of the Christian Sabbath
Ezekiel 20:12
Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

Let two remarks be premised. We enforce not the duties of the Jewish but of the Christian Sabbath. Everything in the Christian Sabbath is tender and considerate on the one hand, everything is spiritual and elevated on the other; and is, in both views, adapted to the real state and exigencies of our nature, under the last and most perfect dispensation of religion. But then the determination of what is really spiritual, of what is really for the welfare of man, of what ale the real duties and employments of the day, must be taken from the Scriptures themselves, and not from the opinions, much less from the inclinations and fashions, of a corrupt world.

I. Keep ever in view THE GREAT END OF THE INSTITUTION — which is to be a visible sign of the covenant between God and us, and a principal means of that sanctification which it is one object of that covenant to produce. What an exalted end and design of the institution! Sanctification is the work of God's Holy Spirit by His secret but effectual influences upon the heart, separating man from the love and service of sin, and turning him to God and holiness. And how important is the thought, that the design of the Almighty in sanctifying and hallowing a day of Sabbath was that man, His moral and accountable creature, might be sanctified and dedicated by means of it — that the external consecration of the season ends in the internal consecration of the heart of man to his Creator and Redeemer! We awake to the true importance of the institution when we feel our fallen and sinful state, when we receive the covenant of grace as proposed in the Gospel, when we seek to be sanctified, body, soul, and spirit, to be the Lord's. A Divine life infused into the soul of man — a perception of the nature and excellency of spiritual things — a view of the glory and majesty of the great Redeemer — a reliance upon His death and resurrection — a dependence upon the influence of His Holy Spirit — these bring the Sabbath and the human heart together.


1. The public exercise; of God's worship, and the fellowship of Christians with each other in common acts of prayer and praise, are the leading business of this holy season.

2. The care of our families must not, however, be neglected, whilst we first discharge our public duties.

3. The private and personal duties must prepare for and succeed the public and domestic.

4. The duties of the Christian Sabbath extend to our dependents — to "the stranger within our gates" — to all over whom we have any natural influence — and even to the irrational creatures who subserve our comfort, and whose repose is commanded both for their own sakes and to render more completely practical the duty of religious rest enjoined upon man, their lord.

III. In order to keep holy the Lord's day, we must carry THE TRUE SPIRIT OF THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION INTO THESE DUTIES. We must not celebrate a Jewish but a Christian festival. We must imbibe that spirit of rest and delight in God, that sense of refreshment and repose, in His more immediate service, which the liberty of the Gospel breathes, and without some degree of which we can never discharge these duties aright. Can any picture be more inviting than that of a family, a neighbourhood, a parish, honouring the day of God with cheerful and grateful hearts — meditating on that sanctification which is the great design of the day of rest — filling up its hours with the various and important exercises of public and private devotion — and imbuing every act of duty with the Christian temper, with the filial spirit — the spirit not "of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption, crying, Abba, Father"?


(D. Wilson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

WEB: Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Yahweh who sanctifies them.

The National Observance of the Sabbath Day
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