Jonathan Edwards, New Creation, and the Christian Sabbath

Every once in a while I come across a quote worth saving, and I figure that makes it also worth sharing. Consider this one of those.

The ancient churches, being commanded to keep a seventh day in commemoration of the work of creation, is an argument for the keeping a weekly sabbath in commemoration of the work of redemption, and not an objection against it.

We read in Scripture of two creations, the old and the new, and these words of the fourth commandment are to be taken as of the same force to those that belong to the new creation, with respect to that new creation, as they were to them that belonged to the old creation, with respect to that old creation. We read that God in the beginning “created the heavens and the earth” [Genesis 1:1], and the church of old was to commemorate that. But when God creates “a new heaven and a new earth” [Revelation 21:1], those that belong to that new heaven and new earth by a like reason are to commemorate the creation of their heaven and earth.

The Scriptures teach us to look upon the old creation as destroyed and, as it were, annihilated by sin, or as being reduced to a chaos again, without form and void, as it was at first; Jeremiah 4:22–23, “They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.” I.e. they were reduced to same state they were in at first: “the earth was without form, and void,” and there was no light, but “darkness was upon the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2].

And the Scriptures teach us to call the gospel restoration and redemption, a creation of a new heaven and a new earth; Isaiah 65:17–18, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy”; and Isaiah 51:16, “And I have put my words in thy mouth, and have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundation of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people”; and Isaiah 66:22, “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I shall make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain.” We in these places are not only told of the creation of new heavens and new earth, but we are told what is meant by it, viz. the gospel renovation, the making Jerusalem a rejoicing and her people a joy, saying unto Zion, “Thou art my people.” The Prophet in all these places is prophesying of the gospel redemption.[1]

Footnotes    (↵ returns to text)
  1. From Edward’s sermon, The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath, available online here.
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