Christian freindes and beloved Brethren in our blessed Savior. I had much rather keepe silence than shew mine opinion in this question. The reverence I owe and beare to many holy and blessed servants of God who have delivered their judgments that the reste of the Lords day is to begin in the morninge maketh me afrayd to conceive much more to utter this contrary apprehension that this rest should rather begin at the Eveninge. It is a palsey distemper that carryeth a member to a motion differente from the inclination of the rest of the bodye and I am apte to suspect that spirit that breatheth a private motion discrepante from the common consente of the body of Christ. And yet because that motion is not private which hath his motion from the voyce of the Holy Ghost speakinge in the Scripture and for that we are commanded to try all thinges and as we beleive so to speake, where God offereth seasonall occasion, I have therefore upon your renewed requestes imparted to you the groundes and reasons of my opinion and practice in observinge the rest of the Lordes daye from the Eveninge to the intente that if you finde them builte upon the Worde you may beleive and practise with me, but otherwise if they shall appeare as hay and stuble in the cleare day light of my brethrens judgmentes they may be burned but I saved, yea even now saved from a way of error.
1. My first reason is this. The first day of the weeke is the Christian Sabboath. Actes. 20.7. Eveninge and morninge is the first day of the weeke. Gen. 1.5. [Er]go Eveninge and morninge is the Christian Sabbath. The former proposition is granted of all, the latter though it be no lesse the expresse Scripture, yet it hath not beene as a sufficient witnes in this cause by reason of a double exception.
1. It is said by Eveninge is not here mente the night but the last parte of the daye and so by a Synechdoche the whole daye, and the morninge is not put for the daye but for the last parte of the night and so by the like Synechdoche for the whole nighte.
2. It is further saide that though the eveninge there were put for the nighte and the morninge for the daye and so by the constitution of time in the first creation the night before was parte of the followinge daye yet the same order was not kepte in followinge times for some thinke that even the Jewish Sabbath began with the morninge rather and though others yea the moste grante that the Jewish Sabbath began with the eveninge and so was observed from Eveninge to Eveninge till the resurrection; yet after the resurrection they hold as the daye of the Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the firste so the time of the day was changed from the Eveninge to the morninge.
To the firste I aunswer that the eveninge in that place of Genesis was not the laste parte of the daye but the first parte of the night and is put by a Synechdoche for the whole night. Which I prove thus. That time wherein darknes lay upon the face of the deepe was eyther night or daye, for there is no parte of time but it is to be referred to one of them. Now day it was not, for what fellowshippe hath day with darknes? Besides God called that light followinge daye and that darknes he called night. Vers 5. If then day it was not, night surely must it needes be.
Ob[jection] It is objected in the Scriptures toe find not one place els where the eveninge is put for the nighte and [er]go it is not likely the Eveninge to be put for the nighte here in this place of Gen. 1.5.
Ans[wer] I aunswer it is sufficient that by good evidence from the texte it appeareth the Eveninge to be put for the night here in this place, and yet the like is also founde in other places as Gen. 29.23. for since when Laban brought Leah to Jacobs bed it was darke night least els he should have discerned her, and yet the word there used is Eveninge. And so I thinke Eveninge is also put for night Deut. 28.67 in the Eveninge thou shalt say would God it were morninge. Sicke and languishinge men weary of the daye shall not in the eveninge (to wit in the ende of the daye) wish for the cominge of a new daye before they have beene wearied with the restlesse tossinges of the night and [er]go by the Eveninge I should rather understand the night in which the sicke man wearied with tossinges and wakinges and dreames shall wish for the approach of the daye as afterwardes the same person wearied with the restlesse paynes of the daye shall wish againe for the returne of the night hoping for better rest therein.
I come now to the second exception against the latter proposition of the first argument which was this. That though in the first institution of time in the creation the night before was parte of the followinge daye yet the same order was not kepte in followinge times, for neyther did the Jewish Sabbath begin at Eveninge as some conceive it, and though others grante it that the Jewish Sabbath did begin at Eveninge yet they hold the Christian Lordes day to begin with the morninge.
To the first branch of this latter exception, I aunswer that the Jewes did keepe the same order in followinge times which was observed and set by God in the first creation to witte reckoninge the night before as parte of the day followinge as also they doe even to this daye, which I might prove both by the testimonyes of the Jewish writers as also of the cheifest and most of our writers but in poyntes of fayth I looke no farther then to divine testimonye. Humane testimonyes can but begette humane credulitye or perswasion. It is onely Gods testimony which begetteth and strengtheneth the fayth of Gods Electe. Consider with me [er]go theese groundes from Scripture.
1. The wordes of God to Ezechiell compared with the events of them for Ezech. 24. 25. 26. 27. [Ezek. 24:25–27]. The Lord telleth Ezechiell that he that escapeth the day of the destruction of the cittye in that day he shall come and tell Ezechiell of it and on that day Ezechiells mouth should be opened, which for a time till then was to be dumbe. Now when this was accomplished Ezech. 33. 21. 22. [Ezek. 33:21–22] one that was escaped came to Ezechiell in the morninge, when yet his mouth was opened the Eveninge before which plainly argueth that God reckoned the eveninge before for parte of the daye.
Againe the Scripture calleth the sun sette or twilight wherein the Israelites were to hold the Passeover the time betweene the two eveninges so the originall calleth: Exod. 12.6. Now the speech were not proper to call the time two eveninges if the former did not belonge to the day before and the latter to the day followinge. To what use were it to reckon two Eveninges cominge together, if both belonged to the same daye?
Besides it were hard to conceive how Christ could be said to reste three dayes in the grave (though of the followinge daye) for he dyed not till the ninth houre or thereaboute on the sixth daye which is our three of clocke in the after noone on our Frydaye and beinge buiried that daye before sun sette. That was the first daye of his reste in the grave. Then he rested the whole seventh daye which was our Saturday nighte and daye. Nowe the night followinge he arose, for he was risen before the woemen came to the sepulchre and yet they came early in the morninge (whilst it was yet darke) John 20., Now that must needes be in the fourth watch of that night betweene 3. and 6. though Marke says in Aoriste or indefinite time the sun was then risinge. Marc. 16.2. Yet sure risen it was not; but towardes risinge, els how could John say it was yet darke? Or how could Mathew saye 28.1. it began then to dawne towardes the first day of the weeke? It was not then the day or the sun risinge but towardes the day or sunrisinge, the fourth watch of the night which continued from 3. of the clocke. So the sun risinge was not yet finished unlesse [er]go that latter parte of the night on which he rose be reckoned as parte of the day followinge our Savior could not be said to rest in the grave any parte of the third daye at all. But referre that night on which he rose to the followinge daye and then by a Synechdoche, three dayes are easily reckoned, for as on the first day on which he was buiried he rested some parte of the day and a parte of the nighte, so on the third day on which he rose he rested some parte of the night and some of the daye but in the second day of his lyeinge in the grave he rested both night and daye.
But it is objected to prove that the Jewes did not begin their Sabbath in the Eveninge but in the morninge.
1. That Nehemiah shuttinge the gates of Jerusalem when it began to be darke, he is said to doe this before the Sabbath. Nehem. 13.19. Now if the Sabbath had begun in the Eveninge at sun settinge, he had shutte the gates not before the Sabboath but in the Sabbath.
Answer. The preposition translated before is not before in time but before in presence, implyeinge that he shutte the gates in the presence or as the word is in the face of the Sabbath. Againe as Junius well noteth and is also apparent by the Worde, Jerusalem beinge compassed about with mountins as the sun declined the gates of Jerusalem began to be shaddowed (which is translated began to be darke) by the shadowe of the mountaines somewhat before the sun was downe, and then Nehemiah began immediately to shutte the gates before the sunne was wholly sette to dispatch that worke somewhat before (though very little before) the Sabbath began.
It is objected againe David in his Psalme of the Sabbath sayth that he would declare Gods loving kindnes in the morninge and his trueth in the nighte Psal. 92.2. makinge the night followinge parte of the Sabboath.
Answer. The reason doth not satisfy for there the prophet sheweth what is fitt to be done each daye and every night as the Hebrew worde readeth it and accordingly the new translation. If it be said the daye is there named before the night and is [er]go to be kepte before the nighte I answer so is the cuppe mentioned before the breade in the Lords Supper. I. Cor. 10.16. And yet it is not to be administred before the breade. The order of thinges is best observed in such places as speake of the first institution which in other places is often not observed. Where the first institution of theese thinges is recorded, the Eveninge is placed before the morninge the darknes before the light. Gen. 1. [2–5]. and the bread before the wyne. Mat. 26.[26–27]. And yet David himself where he speaketh of a duty to be performed each parte of the daye he beginneth with the Eveninge. Ps. 55.17: at Eveninge and at morninge sayth he and at noone will I praye etc.
It is further objected that Mathew calleth the dawninge of the first day of the weeke the ende of the Sabbath of the Jewes. Math. 28.. And [er]go the Jewes kepte their ordinary Sabbath from morninge to Eveninge.
Answer. Gregory Nyssene a Greeke writer well acquainted with his owne language, telleth us that the word there used in the originall, ὀψὲ τῶν σαββάτων signifieth transacto jam sabbatho, the Sabbath was paste, as in the same language, ὀψὲ τῆς ῶρας is after the season ὀψὲ τῆς χρείας is after the neede or use of a thinge is past. And those wordes in Thucidides ὀψὲ τῆς ἡμέρας as Junius translateth finito die elapsoque after the daye ended and that Mathew tooke it so here ὀψὲ σαββάτων after the Sabbath was past or ended. We need no better interpreter of his meaninge than the Evangeliste St. Mark who delivereth the same thing in another phrase yet expressing the same sence, Marc. 16.1. όιαγενομένου τοῦ σαββάτου when the Sabbath was paste. And the meaning of them both is that whereas the woemen had prepared sweete odors and spices to embalme Christ upon the day before the Sabbath and had rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment, after the Sabbath was paste as soone as they coulde see, yea whilst it was darke they came to the sepulchre in the dawninge of the daye. Mathew beinge translated, as fitly he maye, doth not call the dawninge of the first day the end of the Jewes Sabbath, but onely sayth that after the Sabbath was ended and the daye beginninge to dawne towardes the first of the weeke etc.
If it be further objected that in John 20.19. the night followinge is counted parte of the day before, where it is said the same daye at night, etc. I answer it is indeede said so in some English translations but not in the laste nor in the originall. For the word in the originall signifieth not night but eveninge and so it is rightly turned in the new translation. Now the eveninge or end of any daye in the Jewish accounte began with the houre of their eveninge sacrifice which was with them the ninth houre of prayer Acts. 3.1. (with us three of the clocke in the afternoone) and continued till sun settinge. The eveninge after sun sette parte of the nighte following belonged to the day followinge.
And now it remaineth to speake of the latter branch of the second exception, taken to the latter proposition of my first argument. Though the Eveninge and morninge was accounted the first daye in the creation and so continued in the Jewish Calandar till the resurrection of Christ yet say they after the resurrection why may not God as well change the time of the Sabbath from the Eveninge to the morninge as the Sabbath day itself from the seventh to the first day of the weeke?
Answer. There is no doubte God might have changed the one as well as the other if it had pleased him yet though I see evidently that God changed the one, yet I no where finde that he changed the other and [er]go without warrante from God it is not safe for us to change the way of his commandments. We are commanded to keepe the old and good way and in so doeinge it is promised that we shall finde reste unto our soules. Jer. 6.16. It is true if Christ lead us into new wayes we may safely follow him for he himself is the auncient and livinge way and it is for us to follow the Lambe whithersoever he goeth. But I see no footsteps of Christ or his disciples following him that goe before us in this path to call us to begin the Christian Sabbath from the morninge.
Yet say some worthy divines, Christ consecrated the Christian Sabbath (as it hath beene thought of auncient times) in that he rose from the dead early in the morninge, when the first day of the weeke began to dawne Mat. 28. . And [er]go it is meete that the Sabbath should begin when he rose for as much as it is kepte in remembrance of his resurrection.
I Aunswer first theese in auncient times though they thought Christ consecrated the Christian Sabbath in that he rose on that daye, yet they did not thence gather that because Christ rose in the morninge [er]go the Sabbath was to begin in the morninge. For some of them (as Gregory in homilia Paschalis) thought that Christ arose at midnight at what time Sampson carryed away the gates of Gazah. Judg. 16.3. Others as Augustine though they thinke Christ rose towards the morninge yet hold the Lords day to begin at the Eveninge before as afterwardes we shall see.
Secondly I aunswer: Christ did indeed consecrate the Christian Sabbath yet not by his risinge from the deade but by some worde of institution delivered by him to the Appostles and by them to us for it is not the worke of God or any benefitte of his wrought for us on this or that daye that sanctifieth the same day to us but his worde requiringe the day to be kept holy unto him selfe. It was not the creation of man on the sixth daye that made the sixth day holy, no nor his reste on the seventh from the creation that made the seventh day holye. Neyther was it the byrth of Christ or his passion or his ascension that sanctifieth those dayes, nor the descendinge of the Holy Ghoste on the day of Pentecost that made that day holy. Neyther is it the sanctification of a church or conversion of any member of a church on this or that daye (suppose it be some week day sermon) that maketh that day holy to that church or person. But to the makinge of a day holy we must alwayes have some recourse to some worde of institution, and upon the same grounde I adde further as it is not the worke but the worde of God that sanctifieth a daye so is it neyther the beginning or ending of any worke that beginneth or endeth the day sanctified. The redemption of the children of Israell out of Aegipte which was a type of our redemption by Christ was wrought at midnight by the angell’s passing over the houses of Israelites, and the slaughter at that time of the first borne of the Aegiptians and yet the Passeover though kepte in remembrance thereof, tooke his beginninge not accordinge to the time of deliverance but according to the institution from the Eveninge before. Exod. 12.4.6. And [er]go though the Sabbath be kepte in remembrance of the resurrection yet it doth not take his beginninge from the time of the day wherein he arose but from some higher institution.
If it be said [that] as the Jewish Sabbath began not till after the worke of the creation finished so neyther is it meete that the Christian Sabbath should begin till after the resurrection (and so the worke of our redemption finished) I answer the reason is not alike by reason of the great difference of the worke of creation and of redemption. The creation being a worke of Gods common goodnes to all the creatures God thought it not so fitt to be wrought on the Sabbath, and [er]go, he would not begin the Sabbath till it was finished. But redemption being a worke of speciall mercye might as fitly be finished and perfected on the Sabbath day as on any other. To drawe our neighbors oxe or asse out of the pitte is a worke not unmeete for the Sabbath daye, but for Christ to drawe our bodyes out of the pit of the grave and our soules out of the pitte of hell by his resurrection from the deade is a worke more fitt for the Sabbath day than any other.
If it be further said how could the Jewes keepe the first Christian Sabbath from the Eveninge before the resurrection and yet keepe it in memory of the resurrection which was not then wroughte, I aunswer it is a needlesse question for it is evidente that the first Sabbath was kepte by our Saviour himself onely, the Jewes beinge as then ignorante both of the resurrection and of the institution of that daye. And [er]go the woemen brought sweete odors and oyntmentes that daye to embalme him, which they had refused to doe before in conscience of the Sabbath. Luc. 23.56. But as soone as they were instructed by him in the ordinance of the Christian Sabbath, though they did for a while observe the Jewish Sabbath Acts 13.44. with other ceremonyes to avoyde offence as they did also the Lords day in conscience of the commandment yet afterwardes they wholly passed by the Jewish Sabbath as a shadowe of Christs rest in the grave. Col. 2.17. And the Appostles commanded in roome thereof the observation of the Lordes daye to the Churches of the Gentiles, I. Cor. 16.1.. even the first day of the weeke which as well amonge the Gracians as amonge the Israelites was wonte to begin as all their other dayes at sun settinge. Plinius, Hist, natur, lib. 2, cap. 79. Hence Beroaldus, Chron. li. 1, c. 4. The Graecians call the whole day νυχθημερόν2. Cor. 11.35. [actually verse 25]. Nomine a nocte inchoato, quod a nocte diem inchoant—de festis li. I. c. 2.
Furthermore to prove the beginninge of the Christian Sabbath in the morninge, it is objected that such was the practice of the Appostles for Actes 20.7. The first day of the weeke the Jewes came togither at Troas in the morninge and there Paule preached from that time till midnight beinge the next morninge to departe, having stayed as is plaine there out of the ninth verse, seven dayes. From which texte two thinges are noted. First that the night there mentioned was a parte of the seventh day of Paules abode at Troas for if it were not so then he had stayed at least a night longer at Troas and so more than seven dayes because he should have stayed a parte of another daye. Secondly that this night was a parte of the Sabbath as beinge kepte in the exercise of divine worship and pietye—namly in preachinge. Yea rather he continued there till the rest was ended fullye and communed with them till the dawninge of the daye and so departed.
I aunswer the Church of Troas meetinge together in the morninge to performe the dutyes of the Sabbath doth not argue that the Sabbath began not till the morninge, for they that do hold the Sabaoth to begin at the Eveninge whither Jewes or Christians doe not assemble to publique dutyes till the morninge the night being not so fitte for publique assemblyes especially in times of peace. But I suppose it is not intended to presse the example in this poynte.
To speake then to the poyntes here urged to the former I say it is uncertaine at what time of the day Paul came to Troas. If on the Monday morning (as it is more likely than on the Lordes day at Eveninge), then departinge on the morninge that day sevennight he tarried the space of seven dayes compleate but if he came halfe a day sooner or later it is no unwonted phrase of speech both in Scripture and other good writers to call that seven dayes which was in strickt reckoninge halfe a day more or halfe a daye lesse. Such a kind of speech is an ordinary synechdoche as in this case Chronologers say is used propter rotunditatem numeri swallowinge parcelles of time in the grosse some as see the like Mat. 12.40. Num. 14.34. That was called forty yeares, which was then to be but thirty-eight.
To the latter poynte urged in the objection I answer though Paule spent the night followinge the Sabbath in holy dutyes, yet it was not to fulfill the time of the Sabbath, but as the texte plainly intimateth because he was to departe from thence on the morrowe [Acts 20] verse 11 yea and never to see them againe afterward, verse 25, in which case no marveile if the boweles of his affections were stirred in him to take extraordinary paines with them and to continue preachinge to an extraordinary time.
Thus then at length you see this first argument standeth good. The first daye of the weeke is the Christian Sabboth. The Eveninge and the morninge is the first day of the weeke. [Er]go the Eveninge and the morninge is the Christian Sabboth.
2. The second argument whereupon I have grounded my opinion and practise is builte upon the fourth commandment wherein the Lord requireth the seventh day to be kepte holy unto himself. Now I take it for granted that the commandment is thus farre of perpetuall force that not onely sometime indefinetly but one day in seven is to be kepte holy to the Lorde from the creation to the end of the world. And thus much all the reasons used in the commandment doe urge upon us. I take it also for granted that the Jewish seventh daye amongest other shadowes is accomplished in Christ and so abolished. For he by restinge on the Jewish Sabboth in the grave from all actions of humane life did lively accomplish the stricte rest of the Jewes on the seventh daye. From both which layd together this rather that the Christian Sabboth is to begin at the Eveninge. If the commandment doe require one day in seven to be kepte for ever as an holy Sabboth of the Lorde, and the Jewish seventh day is no longer to be kepte [er]go the Christian Sabboth must be kepte where the Jewish ended. For otherwise if the Christian Sabboth had begun in the morninge, when the Jewish Sabath had ended in the Eveninge before, then in that weeke there had not beene sanctified to God one day of seven but one day of seven and an halfe, vizt. one day of seven and a nighte. That night betweene the two Sabbaths should neyther have beene reckond in the laste weeke of the Jewes nor in the first weeke of the Christians. It remaineth [er]go as most agreeable to the commandment that the Christian Sabbath should begin at the Eveninge when the Jewish Sabboth ended.
This reason from the commandment sheweth how unsafe that poynte is (though delivered by some godly learned men) that the Sabboth is to begin when other ordinary dayes begin accordinge to the order and accounte of the Church wherein we live. The Babylonians begin their day at sunrisinge, the Aegiptians and Romans at midnighte, the Umbrians at noone. How shall any of theese nations begin their Sabboth where the Jewes ended theirs (and so give God in each weeke one day of seven) if they begin their Sabbaths at such severall periods? Besides if the Sabbaths shalle begin in every Church when other ordinary dayes begin, how shall this stande with that other opinion, that as Christ rose from the deade in the morninge, so the Christian Sabboth (kepte in memory of the resurrection) must begin at the morninge? Furthermore if this were granted that the Sabboth is to begin according as other dayes begin in the accounte of the Church wherein we live, surely in the Churches of Englande our Sabboth should begin at the Eveninge, for so all our festivall days (as they are called) are accounted to begin, as I shall shew in the nexte argument, but surely howsoever it may be lawfull for each nation to begin and end their ordinary dayes for cyvill buisinesses when it pleaseth them yet doubtlesse it is unsafe to begin and ende Gods daye and the holy dutyes belonging thereunto accordinge to the accounte of the Sanctuarye.
3. My third argument is taken from the practise and judgment of the primitive Churches continued even to this day and age, which though it be not sufficient to build fayth upon yet when it is sutable to Scripture it maketh the persuasion of fayth so much the more credible to such as refuse this opinion upon suspicion of noveltye. Leo bishop of Rome to Dioscorus bishop of Alexandria writeth concerninge Presbyters to be ordained ut his qui consecrandi sunt numquam benedictio nisi in die dominicae resurrectionis tribuatur cui a vesperi [sic] Sabbathi initium constat ascribi. Decret. distinct. 73: that to such as were to be consecrated the blessinge should never be given but in the daye of the Lordes resurrection, unto which it is manifest the beginninge is assigned from the eveninge of the Sabath or Saturdaye. Againe de consecrat distinct 3. pronunciandum est ut laici sciant tempora feriandi omnem diem dominicam a vespera ad vesperam celebrandum esse; it is to be declared publiquelye that the people may know the times of keepinge holy daye that every Lords day is to be celebrated from Eveninge to Eveninge. Againe in Decretal de Feriis 1. 12. lib. 9 cap. 4 omnes die [sic] dominicas a vespera ad vesperam cum omni veneratione decrevimus observari, we do decree that every Lords day shalbe kept with all reverence from Eveninge in to Eveninge.Againe in the yeare 516, in Concilia Terraconensi amongst other thinges it was decreed ut observatio diei dominicae incipiat a sabbatho.Unde sayth Genebrard Chronol. lib. 3. pag. 459, hodie hispani cessant die Sabbathi ab omni opera sub horam vespertinam, that the observation of the Lords day should begin from the Jewish Sabbath on Saturdaye, whence it is that the Spaniards cease from all labor upon Saturday at Even. Austin before theese in libro deconsensu Evangelistarum reckoninge how Christ can be said to have rested three nights and three dayes in the grave saide primus dies computatur ab extrema parte sui qua Christus in sexta feria est mortuus et sepultus secundus autem dies est integer cum 24 horis nocturnis et diurnis, nox autem sequens pertinat ad tertium diem sicut enim primi diei propter futurum hominis lapsum a luce in noctem. Ita isti propter hominis reparationem a tenebris computantur in lucem. The first day is reckoned from his laste parte wherein on the sixth daye he died and was biuried. The second day was compleate with his twenty-four howers night and day. But the night followinge belongeth to the third daye for as the first dayes of the worlde, by reason of the Fall of man that was to followe were reckoned from light to darknes so theese for the restoringe of mankinde are reckoned from darknesse to lighte. His conclusion—that dayes after Christ are to begin with the night and end with the day—sheweth the judgment and practise of the primitive Churches though his reason is not warrantable, nor his opinion of the computation of the first dayes from light to darknesse. Againe the same August in his lib. 4 de trinitate cap. 6 thus sayth: nox usque ad diluculum quo domini resurrectio declarata est ad tertium pertinet diem, quia deus qui dixit de tenebris lucem clarescere ut per gratiam novi testamenti et participationem resurrectionis Christi audiremus fuistis aliquando tenebrae nunc autem lux in domino, insinuat nobis quodam modo quod a nocte dies sumat initium. The night reachinge to the morninge, wherein the resurrection of our Lord was manifested, belongeth to the third daye for his rest in the grave, for God who commanded the light to shine out of the darknesse, that by the grace of the New Testament and by our participation of the resurrection of Christ we might heare it said to us yee were sometime darknes but now yee are light in the Lorde. He doth after a sorte intimate to us that the daye taketh his beginninge from the nighte where his conclusion is still the same, that in the dayes of the Newe Testament the day beginneth with the night before, though the reason he giveth of it reacheth as well to the dayes of the Old Testament as of the Newe.
Thinke not that theese auncient devines and Churches did keepe their Lords daye from the Eveninge before for solemnityes sake or for preparation only for you see they render no such reason of their practise, but others.
The Jewes indeed had a kind of preparation to their Sabbath the day before Mar. 15.42. Luc. 23.54. But this preparation of theirs began with their sixth houre of the day if not sooner which was at our noone, Joh. 19.14. and their preparation as Mr. Perkins and others conceive it was rather of meates to be dressed against the Sabbath, Exod. 16.23. than of the soule to holy dutyes. To proceede, I might here speake of the old Ecclesiasticall lawes made in the dayes of Edgar the Saxon and Canutus the Dane, both kinges of Englande, the one begininge the Lordes day at nine of clocke on Saturday and endinge it on Mundaye morninge the other beginninge it on Saturday at noone (as Mr. Foxe recordeth in his Actes and Monumentes). But both theese did transgresse another waye (the one beginninge his Sabbath somewhat too late and continuinge it too longe the other begininge it too soone). God is best pleased when neyther more nor lesse but even his owne time and measure is given him in all his ordinances. But yet both of their lawes shew that it is no new poynte in England to speake of the begininge of the Sabbath in the Eveninge before. Grafton in his concordance of yeares telleth us that in England we keepe a three fold accounte of dayes. The naturall day sayth he is accounted from midnight to midnight after the manner of the Romans. The Cyvill or lawe daye (for the payment of billes and bondes) from sun to sunne. The festivall day from Eveninge to Eveninge.
From all which testimonyes we may well conceive, that the Christians of elder times kepte their Sabbath from Eveninge to Eveninge. Neyther doe I find any footsteppe of any other practise from the time of the primative Church till the reformation of religion in the dayes of our fathers at which times those worthy devines, whom God stirred up to be his instruments of that reformation, spake little of the begininge or Endinge of the Sabbath, for they mistakinge some place of the Newe Testament as wholly forbiddinge the difference of dayes in respecte of holynes (which indeede doe speake onely of the Jewish Sabbathes and feastes and not of the Christians Lordes day) they hade little regarde to the day it selfe but onely to the publique dutyes of Gods worshippe, which they gave directions should be done or performed as on other set dayes so especially on the Lordes daye. The Lordes day itself they rather observed for orders sake (as an auncient ecclesiasticall ordinance, and fitt for the remembrance of the resurrection) than for any holynes in the day by vertue of any commandment of God. But in our dayes the Lord enlightened the judgment of sundry burninge and shininge lightes especially in our English Churches to see the necessitye of sanctifieinge the Lordes day as a devine ordinance, who thereuppon began soone after to consider and determine the time of the begininge and endinge thereof, and most of them that have delivered their judgments touchinge this question, have followed the judgment of Wolphius, that the Lordes day is rather to begin at the morninge than at the eveninge before. The deepe reverence I owe and beare to their holynes and learninge made me a longe time the more willinge to follow their judgments and practise and to decline and suspecte the contrary opinion, yea and since my judgment was swayed to this other course by the reasons above saide, yet the same respect hath detained me with Elihu in a loathnes to utter myne opinion which yet is not myne but sundry others godly, learned, from some of whom I first learned it and surely were it not a poynt of practise and [er]go necessary to be knowne and determined one way or other neyther the affection I bear you (though it be greate) nor your importunity (though it was earnest) should have prevayled with me to have declared so plainly and largely my judgment unto you. But I knowe the conscience is tender and the peace thereof much to be tendred. Also every parte of Gods truth is pretious and the light thereof may not be put under a bushelle but must shine forth to all that are in the house. If God in the use of good meanes discover any clearre light to you imparte it to me, if not then use this with me. And the Lord give your spirit to enjoy the rest of his holy day till we shall both of us meete with our brethren to keepe and enjoye the blessed rest of an eternall Sabbath in the highest heavens with the Lord Jesus. To whom be all glory of affiance and service for ever. Amen.
For a conclusion if you should aske me with what dutyes it were meete to begin the Sabbath on the eveninge before I shall shortly tell you what I have learned of the Worde.
1. Begin we with puttinge an end to all worldly buisinesses belonginge to our selves and to those that are committed to our charge. Nehem. 13.19.
2. With prayer which sanctifieth every ordinance we take in hande. 1 Tim. 4.5.
3. With declaring Gods truth as David telles us is meete to be done in the Psalme for the Sabbath, Ps. 92.2. which may fitly be done eyther with catechisinge our familyes or in openinge the Scriptures for them, or in recountinge Gods gratious workes and dealinges with us.
4. With singing of Psalmes Isay. 30.29.
If you aske me againe whether it were meete in the Eveninge after the Lords daye (which they call Sunday-night) to fall to labor as on a weeke daye in openinge shops, in buieinge and sellinge and the like, I answer no, least happily the consciences of others who are not satisfied that the Sabbath is then ended should be offended with the unseasonable use of such libertye.
Glory be to God in Christ Jesus and peace to his Israell.