QUESTION 62. What are the reasons annexed to the Fourth Commandment?
ANSWER: The reasons annexed to the Fourth Commandment are God's allowing us six days of the week for our own employments, his challenging a special propriety in the seventh, his own example, and his blessing the Sabbath day.
Q. 1. How many reasons are there annexed to this commandment?
A. F OUR; which are more than to any of the rest.
Q. 2. Why are more reasons annexed to this command than to any of the rest?
A. Because of the proneness of men to break it; and likewise that the violation of it may be rendered the more inexcusable.
Q. 3. Which is the first reason?
A. It is God's allowing us six days of the week for our own employments; in these words, Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work.
Q. 4. In what lies the strength of this reason?
A. It lies in this, that it would be most highly unreasonable and ungrateful to grudge a seventh part of our time in the more immediate service and worship of God; when he has been so liberal as to allow us six parts of it for our own secular and worldly affairs.
Q. 5. What similar instance of ingratitude may be given for the illustration of this?
A. The sin of our first parents in refusing to abstain from one tree, when they were allowed the free use of all the rest of the garden, Gen. 3:2, 3, 6.
Q. 6. Is working six days in our own employments a precept properly belonging to this commandment?
A. No; it is properly a branch of the Eighth Commandment, but it is brought in here incidentally, to enforce the sacred observance of a seventh day, when God has been so bountiful as to allow us six for our own occasions.
Q. 7. Which is the second reason annexed to this commandment?
A. It is his challenging a special propriety in the seventh; in these words, "but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God."
Q. 8. What is the force of this reason?
A. The force of it is this: -- As that gracious God, who makes a grant of himself to us in the covenant of promise, claims this day as his own, so it is our greatest privilege or happiness to have access to, and communion with him on it, Isa. 58:14.
Q. 9. In what lies the privilege or happiness of communion with God on his own day?
A. In having a foretaste in grace here of what shall be more fully enjoyed in glory hereafter, 1 Cor. 13:12.
Q. 10. Which is the third reason?
A. It is his own example; in these words, "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day."
Q. 11. Could not God have made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, in less time than the space of six days?
A. No doubt, he could have made all things, in the same beauty and perfection, in which ever they appeared, in an instant of time, if he had pleased.
Q. 12. Why then did he take six days?
A. To fix the morality of six days for worldly labour, and of a seventh for holy rest; and both these by his own example.
Q. 13. But does not the example of God's resting the seventh day, oblige us still to observe the seventh day, in order from the creation, as a Sabbath?
A. No; because, though moral examples bind always to the kind of action, yet not always to every particular circumstance of it.
Q. 14. What is the kind of action to which God's example binds us?
A. It is to observe one day in seven as a holy rest, either the last or first, as he shall appoint.
Q. 15. How can God's example of resting on the seventh day be an argument for our resting on the first?
A. Though the observance of a particular day in seven be MUTABLE yet the duty of observing a seventh part of weekly time is MORAL, both by God's precept and example.
Q. 16. Which is the fourth reason annexed to this commandment?
A. It is his blessing the Sabbath day; in these words: "Wherefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it."
Q. 17. In what sense may the Sabbath be said to be blessed?
A. Not only by God's consecrating the day itself to a holy use; but by his blessing it to the true observers of it, and by his blessing them in it.
Q. 18. How does God bless the Sabbath to the true observers of it?
A. By ordering it so in his providence, that the religious observance of the Sabbath shall be no detriment to, but rather a furtherance of their lawful employments through the week; even as the profanation of it draws a train of all miseries and woes after it, Neh. 13:18.
Q. 19. How does he bless them in it, or upon it?
A. By making it the happy season of a more plenteous communication of all spiritual blessings to them, Isa. 58:14.
Q. 20. What does the illative particle WHEREFORE teach us?
A. That God's resting on the Sabbath was the great reason of his setting it apart to be a day of holy rest to us, that we might contemplate the works of God, both of creation and redemption, upon it.