Directory For The Publick Worship Of God Pt. 17 - An Appendix: Touching Days And Places For Publick Worship.
Directory For The Publick Worship Of God
Touching Days and Places for Publick Worship.
Question 1.—Is there any day commanded in scripture to be kept holy under the gospel but the Lord’s day?
Answer.—No. Rev. 1:10. That the first day of the week, or Lord’s day, is the only day to be kept under the Gospel appears: 1.) Because there is an implicit command, concerning the observation of the Lord’s day, 1 Cor. 16:2. From which place, we may reason thus; that not the seventh but the first day, is the chief solemn day for worship after Christ’s resurrection. 2.) Because as the seventh day was instituted in remembrance of the works of creation, Ex. 20:11, so the first day, after the work of redemption was finished, succeeded as most convenient, for collating and comparing both mercies together, Ezek. 43:27. 3.) Because Christ, on the first day of the week, appeared most frequently to his disciples, and blessed it with his presence, Matt. 28:9; Acts 1:3; John 20:19, 26. 4.) Because on that day the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles. And on the same day Peter baptized three thousand, Acts 2:1-4, 41. 5.) Because the church in the time of the apostles, did observe this first day of the week, as holy, Acts 20:7.
Question 2.—Is this the Christian sabbath?
Answer.—Yes. Deut. 5:13; Heb. 4:9. The apostle tells us that there yet remains a rest or (σαββατισμὸς) keeping of a sabbath for the people of God. Likewise, in the Gospel, Matt. 28:1, we read of the ending of the old sabbaths (σαββάτων) and the beginning of new sabbaths (σαββάτων). What are these sabbaths which both remain and are new, if they are not sabbaths under the Gospel?
Question 3.—Should festival days, vulgarly called Holy-days, having no warrant in the word of God, to be continued?
Answer.—No. Ex. 20:9. Christians ought not to submit their liberty of labor to the ceremonial appointments of men, because they are forbidden to be the servants of men, 1 Cor. 7:23; or to be entangled with the yoke of bondage, Gal. 5:1. The apostle finds fault with the Galatians for the observing of days, Gal. 4:10; and that for two reasons: 1.) They were a yoke of bondage which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear, Gal. 4:3. 2.) They were weak and beggarly rudiments, not fitting the Christian Church, which has been liberated from the pedagogical instruction of the ceremonial law, Gal. 4:9. Also, the apostle will have the Colossians not to suffer themselves to be judged by any man in respect of a holiday, Col. 2:16. Now this means to be condemned for not observing a holiday, because condemn means in this place to accuse a party of guilt. The two reasons he gives against such festival days are: 1.) What should we do with the shadow, when we have the body? Col. 2:17. 2.) Why should we be subject to human ordinances, since through Christ we are dead to them, and have no part of them, Col. 2:20.
Additionally, it should be considered: 1.) Every piece of religious worship requires divine institution, Deut. 12:32; Matt. 15:8, 9. 2.) Besides the fact that all dedicated days under the Old Testament had God’s special appointment, we have a special instance of the unwarrantableness of an arbitrary human dedication, in the case of Jeroboam’s dedicating the 15th day of the 8th month for the Feast of Tabernacles, instead of the 15th day of the 7th month instituted by God, Lev. 23:34; which is charged upon him as a wicked invention, 1 Kings 12:32, 33.
Question 4.—Is it lawful and necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for public fasting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God’s providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people?
Answer.—Yes. Jon. 3:5, 7; Est. 9:16-19. God has given his church a general precept for extraordinary fasts, Joel 1:14; 2:15; as likewise for extraordinary festivities to praise God, and to give him thanks in the public assembly of his people, upon the occasional motive of some great benefit which, by the means of our fasting and praying, we have obtained, Zech. 8:19 with 7:3.
Question 5.—Is any place capable of any holiness under pretense of dedication or consecration?
Answer.—No. John 4:20-24. Under the Old Testament economy, we find the dedication of many things relating to the Hebrew nation and its peculiar status, including places. The Jews dedicated their houses, Lev. 27:14, 15; Deut. 20:5; the walls of Jerusalem, Neh. 12:27; and even their fields, Lev. 27:16-22. They were especially careful to dedicate the temple both at its first building, 2 Chron. 2:4; 7:9; and at its restoration after the exile, Ezra 6:16, 17. But these things were all types of the New Testament economy, Heb. 9:24. The New Testament tells us that believers are that temple, etc., 1 Cor. 6:19; 1 Pet. 2:5. Types now being abolished, Heb. 10:2; Col. 2:17; the solemn consecration of churches, church-yards, vessels for the administration of the sacraments, etc. under the New Testament, have no warrant in the word of God, Gal. 2:18; Col. 2:20.
Question 6.—Is it subject to such pollution by any superstition formerly used, and now laid aside, as may render it unlawful or inconvenient for Christians to meet together therein for the public worship of God?
Answer.—No. 1 Cor. 8:4. The apostle teaches us that the idol is nothing, and, if so, then its touching upon some place is less than nothing, 1 Cor. 10:19. That which defiles a man is not something without, but it comes from within, Matt. 15:19, 20. Jesus taught that the eating of certain meats, forbidden by ceremonial law, did not defile, but the wickedness of man’s heart was the source of the pollution, Mark 7:18-23. Thus, the apostle can commend the use of meats sacrificed to idols, provided the conscience be clear in its use, 1 Cor. 10:25; Rom. 14:23.
Question 7.—Is it requisite, that the places of public assembling for worship among us be continued and employed to that use?
Answer.—Yes. 1 Cor. 6:12. The law to be consulted in this matter of retaining the use of such buildings is that of expedience. Since such places are nothing in themselves, and the forbearance of their use would constitute greater inconvenience, it is deemed expedient and even requisite (because of the command to forsake not such assembling, Heb. 10:25), to continue in the use of these places, 1 Cor. 10:23.