The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Questions 59-60.
Q. 59. Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?
A. 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.
Resurrection of Christ. –The time when the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Christian Sabbath. –The day on which all true Christians, or sincere followers of Christ, rest from their worldly business and pleasure, and on which they assemble together, for joining in the public worship of God.
In this answer we have four points of information.
- That God originally appointed the SEVENTH DAY of the week, to be the weekly Sabbath. –Gen. ii. 3. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it he had rested from all his works, which God created and made.
- That this appointment continued in force, from the beginning of the world, to the resurrection of Christ. –Matt. xxviii. 1, 5, 6. In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. –And the angel said unto them, –I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here, for he is risen, as he said.
- That since Christ’s resurrection, the FIRST DAY of the week has been appointed to be the Christian sabbath. –Acts xx. 7. Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them. Rev. i. 10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.
- That this appointment is to remain in force to the end of the world.
Q. 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on the other days, and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
Sanctified. –Used in a holy manner, or spent in the holy exercises of God’s service.
Worldly employments and recreations. –Our usual business and amusements.
Public exercises of God’s worship. –Meeting together for the purpose of joining with the people of God, in praying to him in our hearts, singing his praises, and hearing his word preached, for our information and improvement.
Private exercises of God’s worship. –Reflecting on what we have heard in church, or in the public assembly of God’s people, singing the praises of God, reading his Word, and praying to him with our families, and in our closets.
Works of necessity. –Works which must be done at the time, such as necessary eating, drinking, &c. and, in short, every thing which could not have been done the day before the Sabbath, nor put off till the day after it.
Works of mercy. –Taking proper care of our own health, visiting and doing kindness to the sick, the miserable, and the helpless, the feeding or relieving of cattle, and such like.
The information here received, respecting the keeping of the sabbath, may be divided into four parts:
- That the sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day. Lev. xxiii. 3. Six days shall work be done; but on the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, and holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein.
- That on this day, we must rest, even from such worldly employments and recreation as are lawful on other days. –Neh. xiii. 15. In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, –and I testified against them. Isa. lviii 13. Turn away thy foot from the sabbath –not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words.
- That we must spend the whole time of this day in the public and private exercises of God’s worship. –Psalm xcii. 1, 2. Entitled, a psalm or song for the sabbath-day. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High. To shew forth thy loving kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.
- That there is an exception allowed of so much time as may be employed in works of necessity and mercy. –Matt. xii. 11, 12. What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, an, if it fall into the pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.