We continue with our exposition of Hemmingsen’s exposition of Col. 2.16-17. In the previous post, we saw the ways in which Hemmingsen distinguishes between the old Mosaic order and the order that obtains after the coming of Christ. Christians do not observe “days” and “times” as was done before Christ’s Advent. And yet Christians still meet together for worship, which is to say, they still keep festivals. Hemmingsen thus goes on to give seven “rule” (regulae) that ought to govern how Christians think of such things. In this post, we’ll look at the first three of these.
But the following rules must be observed concerning the festivals of Christians. FIRST, the festivals of all Christians ought to be free, established for the sake of teaching, order, and the exercise of piety. For the yoke that formerly had been imposed on the Jews for the sake of discipline or pedagogy ought not to be borne by Christians. This rule is confirmed by Rom. 14, Gal. 4, and the present passage. SECOND, the festivals of Christians ought to be of such a kind that in them some part of [Christian] teaching is set forth, and that in the following order, [viz.,] that first of all the history of the festival be passed on purely. 1 Next, the benefit of God that the festival remembers should be clearly brought to light. Third, [they ought to be of such a kind] that their use and fruit be shown. The hymns sung on festival days show that the ancients observed this [practice]. THIRD, although it is necessary for Christians that there be some time at which they can assemble to hear the Word of God, to pray, [and] to receive the sacraments, nevertheless the Christian is not attached to the circumstances of time. However, I say that the one who cannot be torn away from an established day by any necessity or love of neighbor is attached to the circumstances of time. For if the sabbath was made on account of man and not man on account of the sabbath, it ought really to be a sabbath, and in the same measure every festival ought to yield to the necessity of man. For this reason the pious in the primitive church transferred the sabbath to the Lord’s Day: in order that they might not seem to be attached together with the Jews to the circumstances of time. 2
E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.
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