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Circular Letter
Long Run Baptist Association (KY), 1858
By Elder A. B. Knight
[p. 5]
When God had finished the creation of the heavens and earth, and all the hosts of them, he rested on the 7th day from all his work, and blessed the 7th day and sanctified it. So that there is a peculiar sanctity and blessing attached to the seventh day; and in this transaction and upon this fact, the scriptures ground the institution of the holy Sabbath; and as all men in all ages sustain the same relation to this transaction, and the fact is equally significant to all, we infer the Sabbath was made for man, under every dispensation of his earthly existence. There are those who would limit the obligation of this institution to the Mosaic period. The main argument upon which they rest this opinion, is the silence of scripture in reference to the existence of such aa institution prior to the giving of the law, and the want of any express command, either from Christ or his apostles, requiring its observance during the Christian dispensation. In reference to this argument, as it bears upon the period from Adam to Moses, its advocates overlook a most prominent and important fact, viz: that God gave to man during this period no formal code of laws; but all the great duties of man were left to traditional instruction. And during this primal and dark period, immediately subsequent to the fall, almost all the great duties and instructions of religion lie buried beneath a wide-spread and cheerless wreck; so that any argument against the observance of the Sabbath, resting upon this ground, maybe brought to bear with equal force against almost all other precepts of the divine law. But there are intimations, even during this dim period of man's history, of the existence of the institution of the holy Sabbath.

The division of time into weeks, as adopted by almost all nations, harmonizes and confirms this supposition: and when we read closely the scriptures the intimations are to the same end.

In Genesis iv.3, we read in our version, "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord." Now, scholars tell us that a correct translation of the Hebrew in this passage would read, "And it came to pass after the end of days," etc., an intimation that at the end of days of labor, or of the week, Cain and his brother brought an offering unto the Lord. The language occurring immediately after the fall, and in reference to the first generation, is not without significance.

Again, Genesis viii.10, in the history of Noah at the time of the flood, we read, "And he stayed yet other seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark." Also, of Job, ii.3, who is supposed to have lived at this early period, when his friends came to comfort him, "they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights," etc.
[p. 6]
These intimations are greatly strengthened when we take into consideration the necessity, adaptation, and ends of the Sabbath. The great design of this institution, was to perpetuate the practical remembrance of the true and only God, the maker of heaven and. earth; a day in which man should he called off from all other engagements, all other relations temporarily cease, and man brought into communion with his God should remember him as the Author of all. Thus preserving by this constantly recurring memorial of the true God, a practical sense and recognition of all his relations and duties, guarding him as with a mighty shield against ignorance, indifference, and idolatry.

When we think of the necessity and adaptation of the Sabbath to man's wants, not merely as a day of release from physical toil, but as a day of spiritual communion and religious instruction, the force of the arguments for its universal observance become almost irresistible. What would be the condition of man - bereft of the sacred influences of the Sabbath - taxed with incessant labor - pressed and urged forward by never ceasing engagements - his whole time and thoughts absorbed in earthly pursuits? What would become of the transcendant interests of his soul? No Sabbath in which to relax the tension of his nerve, to quiet the intense excitement of the mind, to call off the heart from its eager pursuit after the things which perish with the using! No Sabbath to remind of higher interests and higher destination, man: would grovel in the dust, and die like a beast!!

The holy Sabbath, with its impressive silence, its voiceless eloquence, speaks to man of his relations and duties to God, the immense and overwhelming interests of his soul, and of eternity. Better for man [to], dry up the channels of commerce, the mighty ocean that bears upon her bosom, the wealth and sustenance of nations, than blot from her history this divine institution!

There is a strictness and speciality attaching to the Sabbath, as incorporated into the Mosaic legislation, which are not co-extensive with the institution itself. But we fail to see any force in the: arguments drawn from this source for the abolition of the Sabbath. The institution of the Sabbath existed prior to this organization, and survives its destruction.

We have now reached the point when the Sabbath undergoes a grand modification, and receives into its enlarged significance another of the most momentous transactions of the universe. Not only the fact that God is the author of creation, but also of redemption - not only of the old creation, but of the new. Not only have the material heavens and earth been called forth from their chaotic darkness into existence by the voice of the Omnipresent, but the great scheme of redemption and salvation has been pronounced finished by the Son of the Highest, and the triumphant Conqueror, with the keys of Death, Hell, and the Grave, has ascended to the right hand of the majesty on high, and rests from his labor.

The Sabbath, made for man, stands commemorative of these two grand transactions; and we may see a fitness, as the work of salvation becomes more intensely important to man, even than his creation, that this great suggestive institution should, under the new dispensation, locate
[p. 7]
itself on the day in which this grand object was unchangeably secured and confirmed.

We have no direct and explicit command of our Lord transferring the holy Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week; but, we have the great significance of the facts, as the ground of the change - the approbation of Christ ib meeting with his disciples on the first day of the week, confirmed by the custom of the earliest churches, in the days of the Apostles, meeting on the same day, and, in the Book of Revelations [sic], this day is called the "Lord's Day." We have, then, the holy Sabbath, as originally ordained for man, disencumbered of its strictuess and speciality, as incorporated into the Mosaic legislation, and enlarged in its significance by the great idea of redemption, and transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, still binding upon all, as blessed and set apart of Grod for spiritual instruction, worship, and communion with the Father of our spirits.

There are certain passages of the New Testament which are supposed by some to conflict with this view of the subject. For example: Romans 14, fifth and sixth verses - "One man esteemeth one day:above another," etc.; Colossians 2, sixteenth verse - "Let no man, therefore, judge you," etc. But these passages appear not to refer to the Christian Sabbath, but to Jewish festivals, or to the Sabbath, in its Jewish form, which were matters of indifference, and not obligatory upon the Christian church.

We close with one inference: If the King in Zion, infinitely wise and good, has thus given the holy Sabbath, with all its sacred influences, for the spiritual instruction, and sanctification of his people, ought they not joyfully to avail themselves of its ample blessing, by a strict observance of its sacred hours? "not forsaking the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is," but meeting every first day of the week, for the public worship of God.
[From Long Run Baptist Association Minutes, 1858; from the original documents at Southern Baptist Seminary Library, Archives and Special Collections, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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