Those who take the view adverse to the exist ence of a primitive Sabbath, regard it as a cir cumstance worthy of remark, that in the reestab lishment of the human race, after the Flood, we find in Gen. ix a precise statement of the cov enant which God is represented as making with Noah, in which, while several particulars are ad verted to, no mention whatever is made of the Sabbath.
This will be the place also to mention, how ever briefly, the extension of the idea of a sev enth period of rest, in the institution of the Sab batical Fear; or the injunction of a fallow or ces• sation of tillage for the land every seventh year. Not only were the labors of agriculture sus pended, but even the spontaneous productions of the earth were to be given to the poor, the trav eler and the wild animals (see Lev. xxv:1-7; Dent. xv :I-1o). This prohibition, however, did not extend to other labors or trades, which were still carried on. There was, however, in this year an extraodinary time devoted to the hearing of the law read through (see Dent. xxxi:ro, 18). As Moses predicted (Lev. xxvi:34), this institu tion was afterwards much neglected (2 Chron. xxxvi :2 ).
Closely connected with this was the observance of the year following seven Sabbatic years (i. e. the fiftieth year) called the year of Jubilee: but this has been fully treated under the article JUBI LEE.
(3) The Christian Sabbath. The question as to the continued obligation of the Sabbath under the Christian dispensation is one on which great difference of opinion has been entertained, not only by Christian churches, but by theologians of the same church.
The Jewish prophets in several places de scribe in lofty imagery a future condition of glory and prosperity, connected with the reign of the promised Messiah. These predictions are in a great degree conveyed under the literal repre sentation of temporal grandeur, to be attained by the Jewish nation, and the restoration of their temple and worship to the highest pitch of splen dor, while proselytes should come in from all na tions, until the whole world should own its spir itual sway (as Amos ix :II; Micah iv :t ; Zech. viii :20). In the course of these representations reference is made to the observance of Sabbaths (Is. lvi :6, 7 ; lxvi :23).
In the interpretation of these passages some difference of opinion has prevailed. The Jews themselves have always understood them in their strictly literal sense. Among Christians they have been regarded as literally predicting some future restoration of the people of Israel, or perhaps as applying in a first or literal sense to the temporal restitution of the Jews after the captivity (which was to a great degree fulfilled before the coming of Christ), and the extraordinary accession of proselytes from all nations which had at that period taken place, while in a second or figurative sense they refer to the final extension of Christ's spiritual kingdom over the whole world.
These passages have been adduced in proof of the continued and permanent obligation of the Sabbath under all circumstances of the church of God ; but those who dispute this, call attention to the fact that in these the Sabbath is always coupled with other observances of the Mosaic law ; and they allege that if the whole description be taken literally, then by common consistency the Sabbaths must be also taken literally as apply ing to the Jews and the proselytes to their re ligion ; if figuratively, the Sabbaths must by par ity of reason be taken figuratively also, as imply ing spiritual rest, cessation from sin, and the everlasting rest of the faithful.
The teaching of Christ himself on this subject was of precisely the same kind as on all other points connected with the law. He was address ing exclusively Jews living under that law still in force. He censured the extravagant rigor
with which the Pharisees endeavored to enforce it; he exhorted to a more special observance of its weightier matters, and sought to lead his fol lowers to a higher and more spiritual sense of their obligations; but he in no degree relaxed, modified, or abrogated any portion of the Mosaic code. On the contrary, he expressly upheld its authority, enlarging indeed on many precepts, but rescinding none (Matt. v :17, i8; xxiii :1-29; xviii :17, etc.).
So in regard to the more particular precept of the Sabbath, while he reproved the excessive strictness of the Pharisaical observance—and to this end wrought miracles upon it, and vindicated works of mercy and necessity by reason of the case, and instances from the Old Testament (as in Matt. xii :1; Luke xiii :15 ; John v:9, etc.)— still he in no way modified or altered the obli gation beyond what the very language of the law and the prophets clearly sanctioned. He used indeed the remarkable declaration, 'The Sabbath was made for the man (dia ton anthropon), not the man (ho anthropos) for the Sabbath,' which is usually regarded as the most conclusive text in favor of the universal obligation of the Sabbath, and it must have been so regarded by our trans lators, seeing that they omit the article. It is commonly understood in the following sense: 'It tv is made for man, not as he may be a Jew, or a Oiristian, but as man, a creature bound to love, worship, and serve his God and maker in time and in eternity.' To this it is answered, that we must not overlook the article in the original, where the man must mean 'those for whom it was appointed,' without specifying who they were, much less implying man in general; that 'the man was not made for it,' as manifestly implies that it was not a duty of an essential and un changeable nature, such as those for which man is especially constituted and ordained—in other words, that it was an institution enjoined by way of adaptation to the case of those to whom the precept was given. An intermediate view, which lays no particular stress upon the definite article, is thus expressed in paraphrase by the elder Rosenmiiller (Scholia in Marc. ii:27): 'The Sabbath is an institution for the recreation of man ; but man was not therefore created that he might on the seventh day rest from all anxious labor.' He adds. 'This being the nature of the Sabbath, it will hold true, that it is in the power of the Messiah to dispense with its observance.' In the preaching of the Apostles we find hardly an allusion to the subject. Their ministry was at first addressed solely to the Jews, or to those who were at least proselytes. To these disciples, in the tai it instance, they neither insisted on the observance of the law, nor on any abrogation of it ; though at a later period we find St. Paul, more especially, gradually and cautiously point ing out to them its transitory nature, and that having fulfilled its purpose, it was to cease (e. g. Heb. viu:18). There is nothing to show directly whether the obligation of the Sabbath did or did not share in the general declaration ; and the af negative must be determined by the weight of the arguments in behalf of the preserva tion of the moral as distinguished from the ceremonial law. It is, however, clear from sev eral passages in the New Testament, that it con tinued to be observed as heretofore by these con verts, along with the other peculiarities of the law. Our Savior adds, 'Therefore the Son of man is lord even of the Sabbath day ;' which is on all hands agreed to mean that he had power to abrogate it partially or wholly, if he thought fit, and it is admitted that he did not then think fit to exercise it.