The Lord’s Day

by Archibald Alexander

Reason teaches that there is a God, and that he ought to be worshiped. Had man remained in his primeval state of integrity, social worship would have been an incumbent duty. But it is evident that continual worship, whatever may be the fact in heaven, would not have been required of him while on the earth. We know, from express revelation, that it was appointed unto him to keep the garden of Eden, and dress it; and this would have required much attention, and vigorous exertion. He was also constituted lord of the inferior animals; and the exercise of this dominion would of necessity occupy a portion of his time and attention. In order to perform the primary duty of worshiping his Creator in that manner which was becoming and proper, he must have had some portion of his time appropriated to that service.

The worship due to the great Creator requires time for the contemplation of his attributes, as revealed in his glorious works. It requires time, also, to recollect all the manifestations of his wisdom and goodness in the dispensations of his Providence, and to give vocal expression to feelings of gratitude for the benefits received, and the happiness bestowed. No doubt, devotional feelings were habitual in the hearts of our first parents. No doubt, they sent up, more formally, their morning and evening prayers; but more time is needed to draw off the thoughts from visible things, and to concentrate them on the great invisible Giver of existence. Short snatches of time are not sufficient to perform this noblest of all duties in a proper manner. A whole day, at certain periods, was needed, so that there might be time for the contemplation of divine things, and for the full and free exercises of devotion. And as man is a social being, and so constituted, that by uniting with others who have the same views and feelings, his own through sympathy are rendered more animating and pleasing, it is evident that it was intended that mankind should worship and praise God in a general and public, as well as in an individual and private capacity. What proportion of time should be consecrated to this service, the reason of man could not have determined. If it had been left free by the law of God, the obligation to set apart the due proportion of time would not have been so binding and sacred, as if the Almighty Creator should designate the day which should be employed in his service. And behold the amazing condescension of God! With some view to this very thing, He was pleased to perform the work of creation in six days, and to rest on the seventh; thus setting an example to his creature man; for He not only rested on the seventh day, but sanctified it; that is, set it apart to a holy use — to be employed, not in bodily labor or converse with the world, but in the contemplation of the works and attributes of God, and in holding delightful communion with his Maker. God could have commanded the world into existence, with all its species of living creatures, in a single moment; but for man’s sake, he created the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, the light, and the air, and vegetables, and animals, in six successive days, and then ceased to work; not that the Almighty could be weary and need rest; but for the purpose of teaching man that whilst he might lawfully spend six days in worldly employments, he must rest on the seventh day. This day, from the beginning, was a holy day.

Continue reading