THE

SHORTER CATECHISM

EXPLAINED


QUESTION 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

ANSWER: From the beginning of the world, to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week, ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath.


Q. 1. When did God appoint the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. From the beginning of the world, Gen. 2:2, 3.

Q. 2. Why is it said to be from the beginning of the world, when it was not done till after man was created on the sixth day?

A. Because the world, as to its perfection of parts, did not properly begin till the creation was completely finished; which was not till man was made, who was to "have dominion over all the earth," Gen. 1:26.

Q. 3. How long was this seventh or last day of the week appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. To the resurrection of Christ, Matt. 28:1.

Q. 4. Which day of the week did God appoint for the Sabbath ever since that time?

A. The first day of the week, Acts 20:7.

Q. 5. For how long time is the first day of the week appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. To the end of the world.

Q. 6. How are we sure that it is appointed to continue to the end of the world?

A. Because the canon of scripture is concluded, and therefore no new revelations and institutions are to be expected, Rev. 22:18, 19.

Q. 7. Why is the first day of the week called the Christian Sabbath?

A. Because it was instituted by CHRIST, and uniformly observed by Christians ever since his resurrection.

Q. 8. Are not all divine institutions observed in virtue of some moral precept?

A. Yes; otherwise the law of the Lord would not be perfect, as it is declared to be, Psalm 19:7.

Q. 9. In virtue of what moral precept has the first day of the week been observed by Christians.

A. In virtue of the Fourth Commandment; even as the means of worship, instituted under the New Testament, have been observed in virtue of the second.

Q. 10. How can the first day of the week be observed in virtue of the Fourth Commandment, when it is not in it particularly mentioned?

A. The morality of the Sabbath does not lie in observing the seventh day in order from the creation; but in observing such a seventh day as is determined and appointed by God; which may be either the first or last of the seven days, as he shall see meet.

Q. 11. Under what name or designation is the Christian Sabbath foretold in the Old Testament?

A. Under the name of the EIGHTH DAY, Ezek. 43:27 -- "And when these days are expired, it shall be that upon the EIGHTH DAY, and so forward, the priests shall make your burnt offerings upon the altar, and your peace offerings: and I will accept you, Saith the Lord."

Q. 12. Why called the eighth day?

A. Because the first day of the week now, is the eighth in order from the creation.

Q. 13. What is the efficient cause of the change of the Sabbath.

A. The sovereign will and pleasure of him who is "Lord of the Sabbath," Mark 2:28.

Q. 14. What is the moving cause of this change.

A. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, which was "early on the first day of the week," Mark 16:9.

Q. 15. Why is the day of Christ's resurrection appointed to be the Sabbath?

A. Because his resurrection was a demonstrative evidence that he had completely finished the glorious work of redemption, Rom. 1:4; and therefore it was his RESTING DAY, Heb. 4:10 -- "He that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his."

Q. 16. Why might not the day of Christ's incarnation or the day of his passion, have been consecrated to be our Sabbath day?

A. Because they were both of them days of Christ's labour and sorrow, which he had to go through before he came to his rest, Luke 24:26. In his incarnation, and birth, he entered upon his work, Gal. 4:4, 5. In his passion, he was under the sorest part of his labour, even the exquisite and unspeakable agonies of his soul, Matt. 26:38.

Q. 17. Why might not the day of his ascension be made the Sabbath, as well as the day of his resurrection?

A. Because on the day of his ascension he entered only into his PLACE of rest, the third heavens; whereas he had entered before into his STATE of rest on the day of his resurrection; and the place is but a circumstance, when compared with the state.

Q. 18. Why did God change his day of rest?

A. Because his rest in the work of creation was marred and spoiled by man's sin, Gen. 6:6; whereas his rest in the work of redemption, entered into at the resurrection of Christ, is that in which he will have eternal and unchangeable pleasure, John 17:23. Besides, redemption is a far greater and more excellent work than even that of creation.

Q. 19. How may the change of the Sabbath from the last to the first day of the week be evinced from scripture?

A. If our Lord Jesus, after his resurrection, met ordinarily with his disciples on the first day of the week; if, after his ascension, he poured out his Spirit in an extraordinary manner on that day; if, by the example and practice of the apostles and primitive Christians, recorded in the New Testament, the first day of the week was honoured above any other for the public exercises of God's worship; if, by apostolic precept, the observance of this day, rather than any other, was enjoined for Sabbath services; and if this day is peculiarly dignified with the title of the LORD'S DAY -- then it must undoubtedly be the Christian Sabbath by divine institution.

Q. 20. How does it appear that our Lord, after his resurrection, met ordinarily with his disciples on the first day of the week?

A. From two instances of it; expressly recorded, John 20:19, 26; where it is affirmed, that he met with them on the evening of the same day on which he arose from the dead, being the first day of the week: and that Thomas was not with them when Jesus came, ver. 24. Likewise, on that same day, eight days, he appeared to them again, when they "were within, and Thomas was with them," ver. 26. From whence it would seem, that he met with them ordinarily on that day, during his forty days' abode on the earth, after his resurrection.

Q. 21. How is it evident that Christ, after his ascension, poured out his Spirit in an extraordinary manner on this day?

A. From Acts 2:1-5 -- "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord, in one place; and suddenly there came a sound from heaven, -- and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost," &c.

Q. 22. What was the day of Pentecost?

A. It was the fiftieth day after the passover, when the "new meat offering" was brought unto the Lord, Num. 28:26.

Q. 23. How do you prove that this was the first day of the week?

A. From Lev. 23:16; where it is said, that the morrow after the seventh Sabbath is the fiftieth day, (or Pentecost). And it is certain that the morrow after the Jewish Sabbath must be the first day of the week.

Q. 24. How does it appear, from the example and practice of the apostles and primitive Christians, that the first day of the week was honoured above any other, for the public exercise of God's worship?

A. From Acts 20:7 -- "And on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them:" where it is obvious that the disciples met ordinarily upon the first day of the week, to hear the word, and celebrate the sacrament of the supper: for it is not said, the apostle called them, but that they CAME together to break bread; and Paul, on that occasion, preached unto them.

Q. 25. How may it be proved from the context, that the disciples met ordinarily for the public exercises of God's worship, on the first day of the week?

A. That they did so may be proved from this, that "Paul abode with them seven days," as is evident from ver. 6, and yet upon none of the seven did they meet for communicating, or breaking of bread, but on the first day of the week only: which plainly says that they held it for the Christian Sabbath, and not the seventh or last day, which is not even mentioned.

Q. 26. But do we not read, Acts 13:14, that Paul preached in a synagogue on the Sabbath day, which certainly behoved to be the Jewish Sabbath or last day of the week?

A. He only preached occasionally on the Jewish Sabbath, as the fittest time, when the Jews were assembled together, to dispense gospel truth among them; but did not honour this day as a stated time for public worship.

Q. 27. What apostolic precept is there, for the observance of the first day of the week, rather than any other, for Sabbath services?

A. It is in 1 Cor. 16:1, 2 -- "Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him."

Q. 28. What is the argument from this text, to prove an apostolic precept, for observing the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath?

A. It may run thus: That if collections for the poor are expressly commanded to be made on the first day of the week, it plainly follows, that Christians must meet together on that day, for this and other Sabbath services.

Q. 29. But may not this be a temporary precept, binding for a time, upon the church of Corinth only?

A. As the words of the text expressly affirm that it was binding also upon the churches of Galatia, so the apostle directs his epistle not to the church of Corinth only, but to "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ," chap. 1:2; and consequently it must be binding upon all the churches to the end of the world.

Q. 30. In what place of the New Testament is there mention made of a day dignified with the title of the LORD'S DAY?

A. In Rev. 1:10 -- "I was in the Spirit," says John, "on the LORD'S DAY."

Q. 31. How may it be proved, that what is here called the Lord's day, is the first day of the week?

A. By these two arguments: That no other day of the week but the first can justly be called the Lord's day; and that the first day of the week is so called in virtue of Christ's sanctifying it, above any other day, for his own honour and service.

Q. 32. Why can no other day of the week, but the first, be justly called the Lord's day?

A. Because there is no action or work of Christ (save healing on the Sabbath) mentioned or recorded as done upon any one day of the week by another, except that of his resurrection, which is unanimously affirmed by the evangelists, to be on the first day of the week.

Q. 33. How does it appear that the first day of the week is called the Lord's day, in virtue of his sanctifying it for his own honour and service?

A. As the seventh day Sabbath was called the Sabbath of the Lord, because instituted by him as God-creator; so the first day of the week is called the Lord's day, because instituted by him as God-redeemer; or, as the sacrament of bread and wine is called the Lord's table, and the Lord's Supper, 1 Cor. 10:21, and 11:20, because it is an ordinance of his institution; so, the first day of the week is called the Lord's day, for the very same reason.

Q. 34. Would the apostles have observed and recommended the first day of the week for the Christian Sabbath, if they had not been particularly instructed in this by Christ himself?

A. No, surely: for, after his passion, he spoke of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God, Acts 1:3; among which the change of the Sabbath from the last to the first day of the week was none of the least; and it is certain that the apostles delivered nothing to the churches, as a rule of faith or practice, but what they received of the Lord, 1 Cor. 11:23.


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