BY GEORGE L. RUFFIN GEORGE L. RUFFIN (1834-1885) the first Negro judge to be appointed in Massachusetts, graduated in Law from Harvard, 1869. He served in the legislature of Massachusetts two terms, and in the Boston Council two terms. ... Read more of Crispus Attucks at Martin Luther King.caInformational Site Network Informational
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THIRD COMMANDMENT THE LAW OF REST





THE last of the three Commandments that refer directly to God,
prescribes a rest from toil, and profane works; and in commemoration of
the mystical repose of the Lord after the six days' creation,
designates the Sabbath or seventh day as a day that shall be set apart
and made sacred to God. The peculiarity of the commandment is that it
interferes with the occupations of man, intrudes upon his individual
affairs and claims a worship of works. The others do not go thus far,
and are satisfied with a worship of the heart and tongue, of affections
and language.

Leaving aside for the moment the special designation of a day devoted
to this worship, the law of rest itself deserves attention. Whether the
Saturday or Sunday be observed, whether the rest be long or brief, a
day or an hour, depends entirely on the positive will of God. More than
this must be said of the command of rest; that law grows out of our
relations with God, is founded in nature, is according to the natural
order of things.

This repose means abstention from bodily activity.. The law does not go
so far as to prescribe stagnation and sloth, but it is satisfied with
such abstention as is compatible with the reasonable needs of man. Of
its nature, it constitutes an exterior, public act of religion. The
question is: Does the nature of our relations with God demand this sort
of worship? Evidently, yes. Else God, who created the whole man, would
not receive a perfect worship. If God made man, man belongs to Him; if
from that possession flows a natural obligation to worship with heart
and tongue, why not also of the body? God has a Maker's right over us,
and without some acknowledgment on the part of the body of this right,
there would be no evidence that such a right existed. There is no doubt
but that the law of our being requires of us an interior worship. Now,
if that spirit of homage within us is sincere, it will naturally seek
to exteriorize itself; if it is to be preserved, it must "out." We are
not here speaking of certain peculiarly ordered individuals, but of the
bulk of common humanity. Experience teaches that what does not come out
either never existed or is not assured of a prolonged existence. Just
as the mind must go out of itself for the substance of its thoughts, so
must the heart go out to get relief from the pressure of its feelings.
God commanded this external worship because it alone could preserve
internal affections.

Again, there are many things which the ordinary man ignores concerning
God, which it is necessary for him to know, and which do not come by
intuition. In other words, he must be taught a host of truths that he
is incapable of finding out by himself. Education and instruction in
religious matters are outside the sphere of his usual occupations.
Where will he ever get this necessary information, if he is not taught?
And how can he be taught, if he does not lay aside occupations that are
incompatible with the acquisition of intellectual truths? He is
therefore forced by the law of his being, and the obligation he owes
his Maker, to rest from his every-day labors, once in awhile, in order
to learn his full duty, if for nothing else.

Pagans, who never knew the law of Moses, serve neither Saturday nor
Sunday; neither do they give an entire day, at fixed intervals to the
exterior worship of the Deity, as we do. But a case will not be found
where they did not on certain occasions rest from work in order to
offer the homage of their fidelity to their gods, and to listen, to
instruction and exhortation from their holy men. These pagans follow
the natural law written in their souls, and it is there they discover
the obligation they are under to honor God by rest from labor and to
make holy unto Him a certain space of time.





Next: THE DAY OF REST

Previous: PROFANITY



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