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cal observation. A sea-captain can often make a difference of an hour in the length of his day, by the direction in which he steers his ship; because a day begins and ends in no two places east and west of each other at the same time. At Jerusalem they are six hours in advance of us in their time, and at the Sandwich Islands six hours behind. In consequence of this it is evident, that the ship changing her longitude, must every day change her reckoning. These sources of difficulty in marking out the limits of a day, increase as we go towards the pole. A ship within fifty miles of it, might sail round on a parallel of latitude, and keep it one continual noon or midnight to her all the year; only noon and midnight would be there almost the same. the pole itself all distinction between day and night entirely and utterly ceases; summer and winter are the only change. Habitable regions do not indeed extend to the pole, but they extend far beyond any practical distinction between noon and midnight, or evening and morning.


The difference between the times of commencing and ending days in different parts of the earth is so great, that a ship sailing round the globe loses a whole day in her reckoning, or gains a whole day, according to the direction in which she sails. If she sets out from Boston, and passes round Cape Horn, and across the Pacific ocean, to China, thence through the Indian and Atlantic oceans, home, she will find on her arrival that it is Tuesday with her crew, when it is Wednesday on shore. Each of her days will have been a little longer than a day is in any fixed place, and of course she will have had fewer of them. So that if the passengers were Christians, and have endeavoured to keep the Sabbath, they will not and cannot have corresponded with any Christian nation whatever in the times of their observance of it. I suppose my readers will believe these facts on my testimony, but they will have a far more vivid idea of the truth in this case, if they will ask some sea-captain who has sailed round or half round the globe, if it is not so, and converse with him on some of the interesting questions and difficulties which arise from this peculiarity in the nature of the computation of time.

But besides this difficulty, arising from the variation in the time at different longitudes, there are also other causes which will produce greater difficulty still in the way of

marking out a precise moment at which the boundary be→ tween sacred and common time is to be marked. As we go north or south from the equator, the lengths of the days increase in the summer season, until at last, as I have already intimated, in a certain latitude the sun ceases altogether to set for a period equal to many weeks of our reckoning. Now, what will a man, who supposes that our Maker meant to command all mankind to keep the Sabbath exactly from sunset to sunset, or from midnight to midnight,-what will such a man say to a Christian in Greenland, where the sun does not set for months together?


Is the moral law limited to latitude in its application, or did the great Framer of it not know, or did he forget, that the motions of the sun, which he himself ordained, would give to some of the people to whom the command was addressed no sunset or midnight for months at a time? No, it is absurd to press a written command to any greater strictness in regard to the form and manner of its observance than the letter expresses. God says to us simply, keep holy one day in seven." We may reckon that day in any of the common methods of computing time. If it was customary in old times to reckon the day from sundown to sundown, the servants of God would probably reckon their Sabbaths so too. If it is customary now to reckon from midnight to midnight, we may reckon our Sabbath so. We must keep the command in its spirit, but we need not press the form any farther than the letter of the command itself presses it.

The same principles apply to the change from the seventh day to the first. That is not an alteration of the command, but only of practice under the command in a point which the letter of the law does not fix. "Six days shalt thou labour, and the seventh shalt thou rest;" three hours you must work, and the fourth you may play. Such expressions fix not any identical day or hour which is pointed out, but only the proportion between the days or hours of labour and rest, or work and play. Christians labour six days and rest the seventh now. By our artificial nomenclature we call it the first, but that does not alter the real nature of the command, which is simply that after every six days of labour there shall be one of rest. This requirement has never been changed or touched. It stands among the ten com

mands unaltered and unalterable like all the rest. The practice in a point not fixed by the phraseology of the command, is indeed altered, but that no more affects obedience to the law, than a change from parchment to paper, in the drawing up of a legal instrument, would violate a law which did not prescribe the material. Who would think of saying in such a case, "The law has been altered. When the statute was enacted, the universal practice was to write upon parchment, and now men universally use paper. We can find no authority for the change, and consequently the law is broken." The law would not be broken unless it unequivocally mentioned parchment in contradistinction from all other materials. The mention of every seventh day in the command is not to be considered as a specification of the particular day. If it was, there ought to be a second command, as distinct and as formal as the first, to alter it. A law cannot be made publicly, and privately repealed. The command only specifies the proportion between the days of labour and of rest; the day, then, in use, to be continued as the holy time, until it is changed by proper authority, and the change made known in a proper manner. But that authority and that manner need not be, by any means, so formal as was the original command, because it does not alter that command at all. It only alters practice arising under the command, and that in a point which the law itself does not specify.

Some one may perhaps, however, say that the Sabbath was in commemoration of the rest of Jehovah after the creation, and that this object is lost by the change. But a moment's reflection will remove this difficulty. After seven weeks had passed, the Sabbath would come on the 49th day after the creation. Now suppose it had then been changed by being moved one day forward so as to come on the 50th. Who can tell now what good reason there is why the 50th day may not as well be celebrated in commemoration of the creation as the 49th? Besides, if the precise time of God's resting is to be reckoned at all, it is to be reckoned according to the culmination of the sun at Eden, and the day there is many hours in advance of us here; so that strict precise accuracy in regard to hours and minutes is, in every view of the case, entirely out of the question: and the fact that the command does not attempt to secure it, gives evidence that

it was intended for general circulation among mankind. To a person standing still in one place, and looking no farther than to his limited horizon, the word day seems definite enough; but when a voice from Mount Sinai speaks to the whole world, commanding all men, at sea and on land, in arctic regions, and under an equinoctial sun, under every meridian and at every parallel, to remember one day in seven and keep it holy, there must be great diversity in the form and moment of obedience. We cannot, looking over the whole field, find a precise and universal limit. The command, if we consider it as addressed to the world, is entirely indefinite in regard to the precise period of the commencement and close of sacred time; but the great principle of it is clear. Keep one day in seven, according to some common mode of computation, holy to the Lord.

I should not have spent so much time in endeavouring to prove that minute accuracy in regard to the form and manner of obeying this command are unattainable, were it not that this discussion involves a principle which applies to many other cases; so that if you are induced to see its reasonableness and to admit its force fully and cordially in this case, you will be saved a great deal of useless perplexity about the minutiae of form, in a great many other cases. Remember then this principle, that commands are to be obeyed in their spirit, and that the precise form is a matter of consequence only so far as it is a matter of positive and distinct specification. Do not therefore perplex or embarrass yourself a moment with disputes or speculations on such subjects.

I have one or two practical remarks to make in reference to this part of my subject.

1. In practice conform to the customs of Christians around you, in regard to things not essential. If you live in a community where the Sabbath is generally commenced on Saturday evening, begin yours at that time. Conform not only in this, but in all other unimportant points. Kneel, or stand, or sit at prayers, as other people do around you. I have known persons so controlled by the narrow-minded determination to have a right way in all these little things, and to consider all other ways wrong, that they could not sit at table while a blessing was asked, as is the common custom in many places, without being very much shocked at the

imaginary irreverence. Some men will be pained if a minister says we in the pulpit, and others will quarrel with him if he says I; and a grave discussion is sometimes carried on, on such points as these, in religious journals. One Christian cannot endure a written prayer, another cannot bear an extempore one. A. is troubled if there is an organ in the church, and B. thinks that music at church is nothing without one. C. will almost leave the meeting-house if he should see the minister come in wearing a silk gown, and D. would be equally shocked at seeing him without one. Now, all this is wrong. These points are not determined by any express command in the Bible, and consequently they are left to the varying taste and convenience of mankind. Every person may perhaps have a slight preference, but this preference he ought at all times to be willing to give up, in consideration of the wishes and feeling of his Christian brother. He who intends to do good in this world, must go about among mankind with a spirit which will lead him to conform easily and pleasantly with the customs of men, except in those cases where the letter or the spirit of the Bible forbid.

2. This discussion reminds me of one great and striking characteristic of all God's commands: They are peculiarly liable to evasion. This is one of their excellences, as a part of a system of moral discipline. The object of human laws is to prevent injury from crime, not to improve and perfect the character. The object of divine laws is to discipline moral beings, to train them up to moral strength, and make them sincere and faithful servants of their Master in heaven. This gives rise to a great difference in the form of the commands themselves. How much pains do men take, when making laws, to cut off every possible chance of escape, by specifying with minute accuracy all the details of transgression. Hence the enactments of men are very voluminous. The laws of a state on the subject of theft would fill a volume. But God disposes of the whole subject in four words, "THOU SHALT NOT STEAL." The HUMAN lawgiver studies to cut off, by the fulness and legal accuracy of his language, every opportunity for quibbling or evasion. But if any man wishes to escape from the laws of God by quibbling and evasion, he may. The door is wide open. And that is what gives the law of God its admirable adaptedness to be the means of moral discipline to the human soul.

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