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J. C. Ryle On The Christian "Sabbath"


As Seen From J. C. Ryle's "Expositions on Matthew"

After all, He lays down the great principle that no ordinance of God is to be pressed so far as to make us neglect the plain duties of charity. "I will have mercy and not sacrifice." The first table of the law is not to be so interpreted as to make us break the second: the fourth commandment is not to be so explained as to make us unkind and unmerciful to our neighbour.

There is deep wisdom in all this. We are reminded of the saying, "Never man spake like this man." In leaving the subject, let us beware that we are never tempted to take low views of the sanctity of the Christian Sabbath. Let us take care that we do not make our gracious Lord's teaching an excuse for Sabbath profanation. Let us not abuse the liberty which He has so clearly marked out for us, and pretend that we do things on the Sabbath from "necessity and mercy," which in reality we do for our own selfish gratification.

There is great reason for warning people on this point. The mistakes of the Pharisee about the Sabbath were in one direction; the mistakes of the Christian are in another. The Pharisee pretended to add to the holiness of the day; the Christian is to often disposed to take away from that holiness, and to keep the day in idle, profane, irreverent manner.

May we all watch our own conduct on this subject! Saving Christianity is closely bound up with Sabbath observance. May we never forget that our great aim should be to "keep the Sabbath holy!" Works of necessity may be done: "It is lawful to do well," and show mercy; but to give the Sabbath to idleness, pleasure-seeking, or the world, is utterly unlawful. It is contrary to the example of Christ, and a sin against a plain commandment of God. --- From EXPOSITORY THOUGHTS ON MATTHEW BY J.C. RYLE, PG. 121-124.