The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

Publishers of Protestant, Reformed Christian Literature

The Christian Sabbath Observance Policy of the James Begg Society

This Website is closed on the Christian Sabbath (i.e., on Sundays).

W E, as Christians, believe in keeping the Christian sabbath, also known as the Lord's Day. We also believe that God would justly consider us as not properly keeping His sabbath law if we enabled or condoned the breaking of it by other people. For this reason we close our website on the Christian Sabbath, which is held on the first day of every week (i.e., Sundays).

God, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, is a moral and righteous Being (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 7:9; 116:5). He holds all mankind accountable for their thoughts, words and deeds (Psalm 94:11; Romans 1:21; Luke 6:45; Matthew 12:36; Romans 2:6). God's standard to which He holds us accountable is His moral law.

God originally implanted this moral law into the consciences of our first parents, Adam and Eve; it was part of the image of God in which mankind was created (Genesis 1:26,27; Ephesians 4:24). God also gave a comprehensive summary of this same moral law in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17; Deuteronomy 5:1-33).

In the sabbath law, the fourth of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:8-11), we are required to set apart one day in the week as a "day of rest" from normal work and activities legitimate on other days (Nehemiah 13:15-22), and also not to have other people work for us (Deuteronomy 5:14). Instead we are to dedicate this holy day especially to the public worship of God, to worship and rest in private and in our families (Isaiah 58:13; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7), and to works of mercy, necessity and piety (Matthew 12:1-13). The word "sabbath" comes from the original Hebrew, and means rest.

The essential activities of emergency services, hospitals and care homes are examples of works of mercy and necessity. So are the works of those who care for the dependant infirm and elderly in their families and neighbourhoods, and those who look after dependant farm animals. Works of piety include the work of Christian ministers leading church services and preaching sermons, and also the work of Sabbath School teachers.

In the Old Testament God commanded that the Sabbath be kept on the seventh day of the week, in commemoration of His work of creating the heavens and the earth, and all things in them, in six days (Exodus 20:8-11; Leviticus 23:3). In the New Testament the Sabbath has been transferred to the first day of the week, in commemoration of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on the first day of the week (John 20:1-19,26; Luke 24:1,13-36). This is why we also call the New Testament (Christian) Sabbath The Lord's Day (Revelation 1:10).

In keeping the Christian Sabbath holy, we recognise and commemorate a number of important facts. Among these are the following:

(1.) The resurrection of the the Lord Jesus Christ, in which He demonstrated Himself to be the Son of God — since it was with His own power that He raised Himself from the dead (Romans 1:4).

(2.) Christ's sacrificial death, in which He, as the Covenant Representative of His people, took upon Himself the punishment from God that they deserved for their sins, has fully satisfied Divine justice on their behalf (Romans 8:34). If that which Christ suffered on the cross had not provided satisfaction in full, then Christ would have continued suffering for the sins of His people (John 19:30; Ephesians 1:7).

(3.) As the Word of God and great Prophet, Christ is the One through whom God gave His moral law (John 1:1-3,14; Acts 3:22). When He came into the world, Christ did not abolish the law; he fulfilled it for His people (Matthew 5:17-20). He lived the sinless life for His people, becoming "their righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6; 2 Coninthians 5:21). And He died the sinner's death for them, "becoming sin for them". This He did as their Covenant Representative, the "last Adam" (Romans 5:6-21; 1 Coninthians 15:21,22,45,47). Now the Christian is to live a moral life (Romans 3:31; 6:1-23; Galatians 5:13) — which means keeping the moral law of God. "If ye love me, keep my commandments," Christ said (John 14:15; see also John 15:10).

(4.) Christ, now risen from the dead, sits at God's right hand and rules the world (Psalm 110:1; Mark 12:25-37). All authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). And He is the Judge of all the earth, because God has committed all judgment unto His Son (John 5:22,23).

(5.) The moral law remains of perpetual obligation upon mankind, even though we are all breakers of it (Romans 13:8-10). This includes the Fourth Commandment (the sabbath law), as much as any of the others.

We therefore conclude that we break the sabbath law if we allow our website to remain open on the Christian Sabbath so that people can visit it, since this is a non-necessary use of the internet. And in so doing, we would also be condoning and making use of (i.e., employing) the staff of internet service providers on the Christian Sabbath.

In order to explain more fully our position here and to prove it from the Bible, we have provided below some relevant excerpts from the Westminster Standards, the doctrinal basis of the James Begg Society, together with Bible references.

Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 19:
Of the Law of God

Section #1:

God gave to Adam a law, as a covenant of works, by which He bound him and all his posterity to personal, entire, exact, and perpetual obedience; promised life upon the fulfilling, and threatened death upon the breach of it: and endued him with power and ability to keep it [a] .

[a] Genesis 1:26,27 with Genesis 2:17; Romans 2:14,15; Romans 10:5; Romans 5:12,19; Galatians 3:10,12; Ecclesiastes 7:29; Job 28:28.

Section #2:

This law, after his fall, continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness, and, as such, was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables [b] : the four first commandments containing our duty towards God; and the other six our duty to man [c] .

[b] James 1:25; James 2:8,10,11,12; Romans 13:8,9; Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 10:4; Exodus 34:1.
[c] Matthew 22:37,38,39,40.

Section #5:

The moral law doth for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof [h] ; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it [i] : neither doth Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation [k] .

[h] Romans 13:8, 9, 10; Ephesians 6:2; I John 2:3, 4, 7, 8.
[i] James 2:10, 11.
[k] Matt. 5:17, 18, 19; James 2:8; Rom. 3:31.

Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 21:
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day

Section #1:

The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and doth good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might [a] . But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture [b] .

[a] Romans 1:20; Acts 17:24; Psalm 119:68; Jeremiah 10:7; Psalm 31:23; Psalm 18:3; Romans 10:12; Psalm 62:8; Joshua 24:14; Mark 12:33.
[b] Deuteronomy 12:32; Matthew 15:9; Acts 17:25; Matthew 4:9,10; Deuteronomy 4:15 to 20; Exodus 20:4,5,6; Colossians 2:23.

Section #7:

As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him [k] : which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week [l] , which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's Day [m] , and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath [n] .

[k] Exodus 20:8,10,11; Isaiah 56:2,4,6,7.
[l] Genesis 2:2,3; I Corinthians 16:1,2; Acts 20:7.
[m] Revelation 1:10.
[n] Exodus 20:8,10, with Matthew 5:17,18.

Section #8:

This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations [o] , but also are taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy [p] .

[o] Exodus 20:8; Exodus 16:23,25,26,29,30; Exodus 31:15,16,17; Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15,16,17,18, 19,21,22.
[p] Isaiah 58:13; Matthew 12:1 to 13.

Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 52:
On Christ's Resurrection

Q. 52. How was Christ exalted in his resurrection?

A. Christ was exalted in his resurrection, in that, not having seen corruption in death, (of which it was not possible for him to be held, [a] ) and having the very same body in which he suffered, with the essential properties thereof, [b] (but without mortality, and other common infirmities belonging to this life,) really united to his soul, [c] he rose again from the dead the third day by his own power; [d] whereby he declared himself to be the Son of God, [e] to have satisfied divine justice, [f] to have vanquished death, and him that had the power of it, [g] and to be Lord of quick and dead: [h] all which he did as a public person, [i] the head of his church, [k] for their justification, [l] quickening in grace, [m] support against enemies, [n] and to assure them of their resurrection from the dead at the last day. [o]

[a] Acts 2:24,27.
[b] Luke 24:39.
[c] Romans 6:9; Revelation 1:18.
[d] John 10:18.
[e] Romans 1:4.
[f] Romans 8:34.
[g] Hebrews 2:14.
[h] Romans 14:9.
[i] 1 Corinthians 15:21,22.
[k] Ephesians 1:20,22,23; Colossians 1:18.
[l] Romans 4:25.
[m] Ephesians 2:1,5,6; Colossians 2:12.
[n] 1 Corinthians 15:25-27.
[o] 1 Corinthians 15:20.

Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answers 91-99:
On the Moral Law

Q. 91. What is the duty which God requireth of man?

A. The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to his revealed will [a] .

[a] Romans 12:1,2; Micah 6:8; 1 Samuel 15:22.

Q. 92. What did God at first reveal unto man as the rule of his obedience?

A. The rule of obedience revealed to Adam in the estate of innocence, and to all mankind in him, besides a special command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, was the moral law [a] .

[a] Genesis 1:26,27; Romans 2:14,15; Romans 10:5; Genesis 2:17

Q. 93. What is the moral law?

A. The moral law is the declaration of the will of God to mankind, directing and binding every one to personal, perfect, and perpetual conformity and obedience thereunto, in the frame and disposition of the whole man, soul and body, [a] and in performance of all those duties of holiness and righteousness which he oweth to God and man [b] promising life upon the fulfilling, and threatening death upon the breach of it. [c]

[a] Deuteronomy 5:1-3,31,33; Luke 10:26,27; Galatians 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
[b] Luke 1:75; Acts 24:16.
[c] Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:10,12.

Q. 94. Is there any use of the moral law to man since the fall?

A. Although no man, since the fall, can attain to righteousness and life by the moral law; [a] yet there is great use thereof, as well common to all men, as peculiar either to the unregenerate, or the regenerate. [b]

[a] Romans 8:3; Galatians 2:16.
[b] 1 Timothy 1:8.

Q. 95. Of what use is the moral law to all men?

A. The moral law is of use to all men, to inform them of the holy nature and will of God, [a] and of their duty, binding them to walk accordingly; [b] to convince them of their disability to keep it, and of the sinful pollution of their nature, hearts, and lives: [c] to humble them in the sense of their sin and misery, [d] and thereby help them to a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, [e] and of the perfection of his obedience. [f]

[a] Leviticus 11:44,45; Leviticus 20:7,8; Romans 7:12.
[b] Micah 6:8; James 2:10,11.
[c] Psalm 19:11,12; Romans 3:20; Romans 7:7.
[d] Romans 3:9,23.
[e] Galatians 3:21,22.
[f] Romans 10:4.

Q. 96. What particular use is there of the moral law to unregenerate men?

A. The moral law is of use to unregenerate men, to awaken their consciences to flee from wrath to come, [a] and to drive them to Christ; [b] or, upon their continuance in the estate and way of sin, to leave them inexcusable, [c] and under the curse thereof. [d]

[a] 1 Timothy 1:9,10
[b] Galatians 3:24
[c] Romans 1:20 compared with Romans 2:15
[d] Galatians 3:10.

Q. 97. What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate?

A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, [a] so as thereby they are neither justified [b] nor condemned; [c] yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to shew them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; [d] and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, [e] and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience. [f]

[a] Romans 6:14; Romans 7:4,6; Galatians 4:4,5.
[b] Romans 3:20.
[c] Galatians 5:23; Romans 8:1.
[d] Romans 7:24,25; Galatians 3:13,14; Romans 8:3,4.
[e] Luke 1:68,69,74,75; Colossians 1:12-14.
[f] Romans 7:22; Romans 12:2; Titus 2:11-14.

Q. 98. Where is the moral law summarily comprehended?

A. The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments, which were delivered by the voice of God upon mount Sinai, and written by him in two tables of stone; [a] and are recorded in the twentieth chapter of Exodus. The four first commandments containing our duty to God, and the other six our duty to man. [b]

[a] Deuteronomy 10:4; Exodus 34:1-4.
[b] Matthew 22:37-40.

Q. 99. What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?

A. For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:

1. That the law is perfect, and bindeth every one to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience for ever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin. [a]

2. That it is spiritual, and so reacheth the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures. [b]

3. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments. [c]

4. That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; [d] and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: [e] so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; [f] and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included. [g]

5. That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; [h] what he commands, is always our duty; [i] and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times. [k]

6. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto. [l]

7. That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavour that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places. [m]

8. That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; [n] and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them. [o]

[a] Psalm 19:7; James 2:10; Matthew 5:21,22.
[b] Romans 7:14; Deuteronomy 6:5 compared with Matthew 22:37-39; Matthew 5:21,22,27,28,33,34, 37-39,43,44.
[c] Colossians 3:5; Amos 8:5; Proverbs 1:19; 1 Timothy 6:10.
[d] Isaiah 58:13; Deuteronomy 6:13 compared with Matthew 4:9,10; Matthew 15:4-6.
[e] Matthew 5:21,22-25; Ephesians 4:28.
[f] Exodus 20:12 compared with Proverbs 30:17.
[g] Jeremiah 18:7,8; Exodus 20:7 compared with Psalm 15:1,4,5 and with Psalm 24:4,5.
[h] Job 13:7,8; Romans 3:8; Job 36:21; Hebrews 11:25.
[i] Deuteronomy 4:8,9.
[k] Matthew 12:7.
[l] Matthew 5:21,22,27,28; Matthew 15:4-6; Hebrews 10:24,25; 1 Thessalonians 5:22; Jude 23; Galatians 5:26; Colossians 3:21.
[m] Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 19:17; Genesis 18:19; Joshua 24:15; Deuteronomy 6:6,7.
[n] 2 Corinthians 1:24.
[o] 1 Timothy 5:22; Ephesians 5:11.

Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions and Answers 115-121:
On the Sabbath

Q. 115. Which is the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it. [a]

[a] Exodus 20:8-11.

Q. 116. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requireth of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath [a] , and in the New Testament called The Lord's day [b] .

[a] Deuteronomy 5:12-14; Genesis 2:2,3; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; Acts 20:7; Matthew 5:17,18; Isaiah 56:2,4,6,7.
[b] Revelation 1:10.

Q. 117. How is the sabbath or the Lord's day to be sanctified?

A. The sabbath or Lord's day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day [a] , not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful [b] ; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy [c] ) in the public and private exercises of God's worship [d] : and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day [e] .

[a] Exodus 20:8,10.
[b] Exodus 16:25-28; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Jeremiah 17:21,22.
[c] Matthew 12:1-13.
[d] Isaiah 58:13; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; Psalm 92:title; Isaiah 66:23; Leviticus 23:3.
[e] Exodus 20:8; Luke 23:54,56; Exodus 16:22,25,26,29; Nehemiah 13:19.

Q. 118. Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?

A. The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own [a] .

[a] Exodus 20:10; Joshua 24:15; Nehemiah 13:15,17; Jeremiah 17:20-22; Exodus 23:12.

Q. 119. What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?

A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required [a] , all careless, negligent and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them [b] ; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful [c] ; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations [d] .

[a] Ezekiel 22:26.
[b] Acts 20:7,9; Ezekiel 33:30-32; Amos 8:5; Malachi 1:13.
[c] Ezekiel 23:38.
[d] Jeremiah 17:24,27; Isaiah 58:13.

Q. 120. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?

A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work [a] : from God's challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God [b] : from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it [c] .

[a] Exodus 20:9.
[b] Exodus 20:10.
[c] Exodus 20:11.

Q. 121. Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?

A. The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment [a] , partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it [b] , and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments [c] , and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion [d] ; and partly, because we are very ready to forget it [e] , for that there is less light of nature for it [f] , and yet it restraineth our natural liberty in things at other times lawful [g] ; that it cometh but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it [h] ; and that Satan with his instruments much labour to blot out the glory and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety [i] .

[a] Exodus 20:8.
[b] Exodus 16:23; Luke 23:54,56 compared with Mark 15:42; Nehemiah 13:19.
[c] Psalm 92:title compared with verses 13,14; Ezekiel 20:12,19,20.
[d] Genesis 2:2,3; Psalm 118:22,24 compared with Acts 4:10,11; Revelation 1:10.
[e] Ezekiel 22:26.
[f] Nehemiah 9:14.
[g] Exodus 34:21.
[h] Deuteronomy 5:14,15; Amos 8:5.
[i] Lamentations 1:7; Jeremiah 17:21-23; Nehemiah 13:15-23.