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The Sabbath - Abbot deals with Gal 4:10,11.



"... it was far from the Apostle’s thought, to reckon any of the ten commandments as a weak and beggarly rudiments; so let it be abhorred of all Christian hearts and ears."


We turn again to consider George Abbot's defence of the Christian Sabbath in Vinriciæ Sabbathi.


One of the standard objections raised against the observance of the Sabbath is the citation of Galatians 4:10,11, which is generally presented by opponents as conclusive.


Is the Apostle here confirming the abrogation of the fourth commandment? Should we accept the gloss of the Anti-Sabbatarian on these verses? Or are those who quarrel with the Sabbath simply quarrelling with their own nature?Let us consider the answer of Master Abbot.



Master Broad's Question


Here he proposes the following text in advance of his cause:


Gal. 4. 10, 11.

Ye observe days and months and times and years, I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed on you labour in vain.


Master Abbot's Answer


You play the soldier in the onset, at first discharging your greatest ordinance to impress the greater fear, but as you use the matter you miss the mark.


For this verse of Galatians, falls far short of your aim, as you might have perceived, if without prejudice you would have perused Master Perkins upon that place, whose whole discourse thereof is worth inserting, if it were not too long.


And if you examine the context you may perceive, how that the Apostle was angry at the Galatians, for leaving Christ the substance, and betaking themselves, even in point of justification, to the carnal observation of Jewish shadows and ceremonies, which in comparison he calls beggarly rudiments, and he the rather termed them so, because they were then utterly useless and insignificative, being fulfilled and so abrogated.

But the Sabbath is, for the equity and substance of it, still of the same use as ever, to wit, fit for the better procuring of man’s refreshing, and God’s more solemn worship. Nor is it in-significative, or ever shall be, till we sing a requiem to our souls in heaven: For as it concluded our creation, so shall it our salvation: And therefore by no means to be numbered with the observation of days, and months, and years (seeing that the Apostles themselves observed the Lord’s day weekly or sabbatically, and not monthly or yearly, as were the Jews Sabbaths and Holy-days, but in relation to the fourth commandment one in seven, as knowing it to be a perpetual rule, not a temporary and vanishing ordinance) which pertained to the bondage and servitude of weak and beggarly rudiments, of which the Apostle here only speaks.


And as it was far from the Apostle’s thought, to reckon any of the ten commandments as a weak and beggarly rudiments; so let it be abhorred of all Christian hearts and ears. But may some say, is not the signification of the Sabbath’s institution abrogated by Christ’s resurrection, and the coming of the Lord’s day?

The Sabbath is altered not abrogated, and the signifcation subordinated, not annulled, being instituted upon an universal and perpetual reason, for the Sabbath was no proper Jewish type, but the Church’s type in that wherein it was typical, (as we may see in Heb 4:9. There remaineth therefore Sabbatismus - a Sabbath rest to the people of God; which words, Willet in Gen 2 saith, conclude that both the type remaineth, that is a Sabbatisme, and the signification of the type everlasting rest; And as you may further see Matt 12:8 in these words, The Son of man is Lord even of the Sabbath day, which words compared with the verses foregoing; show that the Sabbath is of a ceremonious nature, for Christ there ranks it among things ceremonial in a ceremonial sense, but with a note of inequality; (as it is implied in that word Even of the Sabbath day) and is, as the rest of the moral law, of equal continuance with the Church; which for this cause was revealed to the Jews, because at that time they were the only Israel and Church of God, but now translated to us under the Gospel (the partition wall being broken down) with an alteration of circumstance according to the season, as (I say) was prophesied in the fore quoted place of Isa. 65. 17. And whereas Doctor Heyly saith, That it is not probable, that the Apostle Paul, who so opposed himself against the Sabbath, would erect a new, this had not been (saith he) to abrogate the ceremony but to change the day. I answer, that by the coming of Christ some things suffered alteration, as well as others abrogation: wherefore the Apostles were to preach only the abrogative types and ceremonies to be abrogated (of which sort I prove the Sabbath to be none) and according to the nature of the new creation to alter the other, of which sort the Sabbath was, and therefore suffered subordination not abrogation: And therefore hath the Scripture recorded it to us the name of the first day of the week, or the first day of seven (before it styled it the Lord’s day) in a significant opposition to the old antiquated last day of the week. I will conclude this Answer with Master Hookers’s authority (who was a confident maintainer of the morality of the fourth commandment as you may see in his Eccles. Pol. pag. 377.) who speaking upon this place in Galatians saith:

"That for as much as the Law of the Jews by the coming of Christ was changed, and we thereunto no way bound, Saint Paul, although it were not his purpose to favour invectives against the special sanctification of days and times to the service of God, and to the honour of Jesus Christ, doth notwithstanding bend his forces against that opinion, which imposed on the Gentiles the yoke of Jewish legal observations, as if the whole World ought for ever, and that upon pain of condemnation to keep and observe them, such as in this persuasion hallowed the Jewish Sabbaths the Apostle sharply reproveth saying, ye observe days and months and times and years, &c.”

Thus you see how Master Hooker’s opinion was concerning this text of Paul, only to cry down those obsolete Jewish observations, and nothing less then to impeach the authority of the fourth commandment or the Lord’s day, as you may plainly discern by turning over leaf to pag. 378. where he layeth down three sorts of holy times, thus, saith he:

First, It pleased God heretofore to exact some part of time by way of perpetual homage never to be dispensed withall, nor remitted, again to require some other parts of time with as strict exaction but for less continuance, and of the rest which were left arbitrary to accept what the Church should in due consideration consecrate voluntarily unto religious uses. Of the first kind amongst the Jews was the Sabbath day. Of the second those feasts which were appointed by the Law of Moses; The Feast of Dedication invented by the Church standeth in the number of the last kind. The moral Law requiring therefore a seventh part throughout the age of the World to be that way employed, although with us the day be changed in regard of a new revolution begun by our Saviour Christ, yet the same proportion of time continueth which was before, because of reference to the benefit of creation, and now much more of renovation thereunto added by him which was Prince of the World to come, we are bound to account the sanctification of one day in seven a duty which God’s immutable Law doth exact for ever.


Thus you have Master Hooker's opinion both on this text of the Galatians, the morality of the fourth commandment, the perpetuity of the Sabbath, and the authority of the Lord’s day.

In addition Abott offers citations from St Chrysostom and Luther:

Chrysost. on Gal.

Why but they retained the Gospel only they would have brought in a Jewish rite or two, and yet the Apostle saith that thereby the Gospel is subverted, to shew how but a little thing, being untowardly mingled, marreth all.

Luther on Gal. 2.

Paul had not here his own business in hand but a matter of faith. Now as concerning faith, we ought to be invincible and more hard if it might be then the adamant stone, but as touching charity we ought to be soft, and more flexible then the reed or leaf shaken with the wind, and ready to yield to every thing.