Brother Beebe: - If it will not be too much trouble, please give your opinion through the Signs of the Times on Romans 14:5, Gal. 4:10, and Col. 2:16. I do not ask your views on each of these verses separately, but as they all seem to embrace the same subject. What I desire to know is, whether Christians are required to observe the Sabbath as now kept by most professors of Christianity? By giving your opinion on this subject you will much oblige your brother in Christ, ill am worthy to be so called.
Rose Boom, N.Y.
Although we have frequently given our views on the subject of the Sabbath, we do not hesitate to say we know of no divine authority requiring Christians to observe a Sabbath in the manner in which the first day of the week is generally kept by most professors of Christianity. So far as our knowledge extends, the great majority of modern Sabbatarians profess to regard the first day of the week as a substitution for the Jewish seventh day Sabbath, which God commanded the carnal Israelites to observe, in common with other Sabbaths, as a sign between himself and that nation throughout their generations. If that law is or ever was binding on the Gentiles, or on Christians, for it does not appear from anything contained either in the law or gospel, in either the Old or New Testament, it would require not the first, but the seventh day to be observed. We have never been able to find in the Bible the slightest intimation of a first day Sabbath, or of any other day of the week, except the seventh day, and that was to be observed by the Israelites exclusively as a sign, type or shadow of good things to come. All signs must necessarily signify something definite and particular. When we see over the merchant's door the sign, "Wholesale and retail," the sign signifies to us that the merchant has commodities to sell in large or small quantities. When God placed the bow in the cloud it was for a sign of his oath and promise that the earth should never again be deluged with water. The sign of circumcision in the flesh was to signify that those on whom it was found were debtors to do the whole law. The Jewish Sabbath being a sign, must also have some definite signification. God has told us plainly, by the mouth of Paul, that it, with other handwriting of ordinances, are a shadow of good things to come, but the body, or thing signified, is Christ, or the gospel. The Sabbatic law required those unto whom it was given to abstain totally from work, and to keep the day as a Sabbath of perfect rest, in which no manner of labor was lawful for the Israelite, his servants, or even his beasts; no preaching, no going to meeting, no Sabbath schools, no ringing of bells, harnessing of horses, no riding in chariots, no cooking of food, no kindling of fires nor gathering of sticks; they were not allowed to go out of their tents to look for manna or for any other purpose. All this does not compare well with the modern style of professed Sabbatarians; but, when viewed as a sign of gospel rest, which is found alone in Christ, we see harmony between the sign and the rest signified. Salvation is not of works, but exclusively of grace, and none can keep the gospel, or antitypical Sabbath, until he is made to cease from his own works, as God did from his. "For we which have believed, do enter into rest." (Heb. 4:3) The Sabbath of the law was a rest from physical labor, but the antitypical Sabbath is a spiritual rest, which is only found in Christ, who is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. It is a prefect release from the works of the law as a ground of acceptance with God, and a confident resting on Christ, who is of God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. None but believers can enter into this gospel rest, nor can even Christians enjoy it only when their faith triumphs over their doubts and unbelief. For Christians to go back to the blotted out handwriting of ordinances of the law to observe days, and months, and times, and years, is to turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto they desire again to be in bondage. (Gal. 4:9,10) As all kind of labor was prohibited to the Israelites on their Sabbath days, or Sabbatic years, so Christians are forbidden to perpetuate the abrogated types and ceremonies of the law of carnal commandments. They find embodied in Jesus all that the types and shadows signified. He is our Sabbath; all fullness is embodied in him; in him the weary and the heavy laden find a perfect Sabbath of rest, for his yoke is easy and his burden is light. If the inspired apostle had understood that the legal Sabbath of the Jews was still binding on the Gentile saints, he could not have treated the subject of a preference for days as a matter of indifference, in which one Christian should not judge another, as in Romans 14:5, for if that law were still binding, he, as a faithful witness, set as he was for the defense of the truth, would have required a strict observance of it. Much less would he have been afraid that he had bestowed labor in vain on the Galatian churches because they, under the pernicious influence of Judaizing teachers, were observing the Sabbath days, Sabbath weeks and Sabbath years which the old covenant had enjoined upon the carnal Israelites. (Gal. 4:10,11) But as a final settlement of this matter he commands the saints and faithful brethren at Colosse to "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." (Col. 2:16,17)
Before we dismiss this subject it may be useful to remind our brother that the seventh day Sabbath was not instituted as a day for public assemblies, or for public or social devotion. The Jews had no command in their law to assemble at the temple or elsewhere to read the law, or for any other purpose, but they were charged with making void the law of God by their traditions. The Jewish elders had taken the liberty to so modify and change the law of the Sabbath as to allow what they were pleased to call works of necessity and mercy; to perform what they prescribed as a Sabbath day's journey, to travel to their temple or synagogues to read and hear the law, or to rescue an ox or an ass that had fallen into a pit. But all this was forbidden in the law which they professed to venerate and obey. From their perversion of the law, and manner of assembling on their Sabbaths, modern Sabbatarians have inferred that the design of the Sabbath day was for public worship, and as the primitive disciples were in the habit of meeting on the first day of the week for social devotion, that the first day was substituted for the seventh, and to be regarded as a Christian Sabbath. But this is all speculation, and without a particle of divine authority, for as the Sabbath of the Jews was given them by express command of God, in which the seventh day was specially designated, and the command restricted to the Jewish nation, no alteration from the seventh to the first day, or extension from the Jews to the Gentiles, could be made without the same express order from God himself. It is true the primitive Christians did sometimes meet for worship and for breaking of bread on the first day, and it is equally true that they also met for the same purposes on every other day of the week. (See Acts 2:46.) The saints have therefore a sufficient authority for assembling on the first or on any other day for social worship, and they are admonished to forsake not the assembling of themselves together, but that they are not to attach any more sacredness to one day than to any other day, appears from Gal. 4:10, and Col. 2:16, as well as from many other portions of the Scriptures. The Jewish Sabbath being a type of that rest which the children of God enter when delivered from the toil and labor of the works of the law, and by faith enter into that rest which now remaineth to the people of God, the true antitypical Sabbath of the gospel began when Christ arose from the dead, after having nailed the handwriting of ordinances to his cross; and the Sabbath of every individual saint begins experimentally as soon as they are enabled to believe on Jesus, and enter into rest, and cease from their own works. Their rest is spiritual, not physical, and not limited to one day in seven, but is required at all times alike. Casting all their cares on Christ, who careth for them, the believing Christians enter into Christ as their spiritual Sabbath, and his rest is glorious. Abiding in him, they are relieved from all legal works, for they are no more under that law, but under grace. They are dead to the covenant of works, to which they were once wedded, that being now dead to them in which they were once held, and they are now married to their risen Savior, that they may henceforth bring forth fruits unto God, not in the oldness of the letter (or type), but in the newness of the spirit; not for one seventh part of their time, but in a perpetual and everlasting union, in which the Lord has betrothed them unto him forever in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies, and in faithfulness. (Hosea 2:19,20)
"To all God's people now remains
A Sabbatism, a rest from pains,
And works of slavish kind;
When tired with toil, and faith through fear,
The child of God can enter here,
And sweet refreshment find.
To this, by faith, he oft retreats,
Bondage and labor quite forgets,
And bids his cares adieu;
Slides softly into promised rest,
Reclines his head on Jesus' breast,
And proves the Sabbath true.
This, and this only, is the way
To rightly keep the Sabbath day,
Which God has holy made.
All keepers that come short of this,
The substance of the Sabbath miss,
And grasp an empty shade."
December 1, 1863.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 5
Pages 429 - 433