With regard to the Gentile converts (who were the more special objects of St. Paul's labors), we find a totally different state of things prevail ing. They were taught at first the spiritual re ligion of the Gospel in all its simplicity. But the narrow zeal of their Jewish brethren very early led them to attempt the enforcement of the additional burden of the law upon these Gentile Christians. The result was the explicit apostolic decree contained in Acts xv:28. The omission of the Sabbath among the few things which are there enforced upon them, is advanced by those who doubt the abiding obligation of the institution, as a very strong circumstance in their favor; and the freedom of these converts from its obligation is regarded by them as conclusively proved in Col. ii :16, and clearly implied in Rom. xiv :6, where the Sabbaths are said to be placed in ex actly the same predicament as new moons, dis tinctions of meats, etc., and all explicitly declared to be shadows. It is also urged that in the dis courses of the apostles to the heathen recorded in the Acts, we find not the slightest allusion to any patriarchal obligations, of which, if such had existed, it would have been manifestly necessary to have informed their hearers.
These last arguments appear to us to be the strongest of any that have yet been adva.tced in favor of the view indicated; nor do we see how they can be met but by urging the distinction between the moral and ceremonial law, and the paramount obligation of the former, while the latter is abrogated ; for it will then follow, that the whole moral law being of unchangeable obli gation, it was not necessary to specify the Sabbath in particular, when the general obligation of the whole was understood. This answer does not, however, meet the argument founded on Col. ii : 16, which is alleged to place the Sabbath under the ceremonial law, if the distinction of the moral and ceremonial divisions of the law he admitted. That text is indeed of the utmost importance to the question ; of this the disputants on both sides have been fully aware, and have joined issue upon it. The view of those who are opposed to the sabbatic obligation, has been already given ; that of the other side may be expressed in the words of Bishop Horsley (Sermons, i, 357), 'From this text, no less a man than the venerable Calvin drew the conclusion, in which he has been rashly fol lowed by other considerable men, that the sancti fication of the seventh day is no indispensable duty of the Christian church ; that it is one of those carnal ordinances of the Jewish religion which our Lord had blotted out. The truth, however, is, that in the apostolical age, the first day of the week, though it was observed with great reverence, was not called the Sabbath-day, but the Lord's day ; that the separation of the Christian church from the Jewish communion might be marked by the name as well as by the day of their weekly festival ; and the name of the sabbath-days was appropriated to the Satur days, and certain days in the Jewish church which were likewise called Sabbaths in the law, because they were observed with no less sanctity. The
sabbath-days, therefore, of which St. Paul in this passage speaks, were not the Sundays of the Christians, but the Saturday and other sabbaths of the Jewish calendar. The Judaizing heretics, with whom St. Paul was all his life engaged, were strenuous advocates for the observance of these Jewish festivals in the Christian church ; and his (St. Paul's) admonition to the Colossians, is, that they should not be disturbed by the cen sures of those who reproached them for neglecting to observe these sabbaths with Jewish ceremonies.' To the same effect, see Macknight and Bulkley, on Col.
The difference of opinion, then, is this, that the passage is alleged, on one side, to abrogate altogether the sabbatic observance; while on the other, it is contended that it applies only to that part of it which was involved in the ceremonial law.
The question thus becomes further narrowed to the point, whether it is right or not to transfer to the Lord's day the name, the idea, and many of the obligations of the Jewish Sabbath? The nega tive is asserted by two very opposite parties: by the Sabbatarians as a body, and by individuals in different denominations, who take their stand upon the primitive determination of the Sabbath to the seventh day, in commemoration of the crea tion; and who therefore hold that the Saturday or seventh day must remain, to all time, the day of rest, unless altered by an authority equal to that by which it was established. They deny that the authority for any such alteration is to be found in the New Testament; for they understand the passage above referred to (Col. ii :16), to apply not to the day, but to the peculiar observances which the Jewish' law connected with it (Rupp, Relig. Downs. pp. 83-90. The right of thus transferring the idea of the Sabbath to the Lord's lay, is also denied by those who believe that the Sabbath was entirely a Mosaical institution, and as such abrogated, along with the whole body of the law, at the death of Christ, which closed the old shadowy dispensation, and opened the realities of the new. It is admitted that Christ himself did not abrogate it, though he asserted his right to do so; for the old dispensation subsisted till his death. But being then abrogated, it is denied that it was re-enacted through the Apostles, or that they sanctioned the transfer of the Sabbatic obligations to the Sunday, although the early Christians did, with their approbation, assemble on that day—as the day on which their Lord arose from the dead—for worship, and to par take in the memorials of his love. (See SUNDAY