Cawdrey & Palmer: The Christian Sabbath Vindicated (Part 1)

Daniel Cawdry (Cawdrey) (1588–1664) was an English clergyman, member of the Westminster Assembly, and ejected minister of 1662.


Herbert Palmer (1601–1647) was an English Puritan clergyman, member of the Westminster Assembly, and President of Queens’ College, Cambridge. He is now remembered for his work on the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and as a leading opponent of John Milton’s divorce tracts.


“The Decalogue (as all men confess, that understand Divinity) is the Epitome or Abstract of all those services, which men owe to God; and there is not any Duty, or any sin, which falls not, first or last, under some commandment of the Decalogue. It is therefore, not amiss, by some compared to the ten Predicaments in Logick, which are the chief Heads of all things in the world; and nothing can be named or imagined, but it may be reduced thither. And even as it falleth out there, that one and the same thing, may be referred to several Predicaments , in several respects; yet primarily belongs to one; so one and the same duty or sin may be reduced to several commandments, yet chiefly falls under one commandment (and so the sum and sense thereof) we must first of all begin with the worship of God; the Rule whereof we say, the Decalogue contains.

The worship of God is commonly by Divines, distinguished into Mediate and Immediate; the Mediate worship, is that which tends to the honor of God, but by and through men, whom first it doth concern; the Immediate, is that which nextly  and directly is tendered unto God himself, who wrote the ten commandments upon two tables of stone; four in one, and six in another; and our blessed Savior hath summed up the Decalogue under these two heads: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. This is the first and great commandment; the sum of the first table. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hands all the Law and the Prophets.

The mediate worship, (improperly called worship; for it is rather service than worship, Servitium, than Cultus) is contained in the six commandments of the second table; which contain the several heads of all that duty, which we owe towards our neighbor; In the performance whereof, we are said to serve God, while we do our service to men. For as we do, or must, by love serve one another. So the apostle says of servants, that by serving their masters, they serve the Lord Christ. But this we lightly tough, as little to our purpose.

The Immediate worship, is that which we must look at; and that we say, is briefly summed up in the four commandments of the first table; which are, by the confession of all, the general rules of all religion. Thus one says, the duties of holiness, as contra-distinct unto righteousness, are perfectly contained in the four commandments of the first table, which are so many distinct predicaments of all true piety. Thus far therefore, we are all agreed. But to distinguish these four commandments aright according to their proper object, we find it not so easy, seeing several men have gone their several ways; yet this is also further confessed, that although the duties of piety, may be comprehended within divers several precepts , yet there is still to be observed some peculiar and distinct consideration, which puts them formally under such or such a precept. And this consideration is of great consequence, in this our present business, viz. to distinguish the formal object, or subject of every of the four commandments of the first table; which being clears, will bring no small light, to judge of, and to conclude the controversies now depending. For the effecting whereof, divers men have gone their several ways. We purpose not to follow them now, but to propound only that which seems to us most fair and natural, that we may with all due expedition, come to the business we have in mind.

We therefore thus conceive, looking upon the very letter of the four commandments of the first table, the sum of all religious worship, that in our immediate worship, we must have chief respect to four things:

  1. The right and sole object of our worship; that we worship the true God, and him alone; according to the first commandment, thou shalt have no other Gods but me.
  2. The right and sole matter of our worship; that in our worship of this one God alone, we worship him, not with any image, any imagines or devised worship of our own, but with such worship only as he himself prescribes, according to the second commandment, thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image, &c.
  3. The right and sole manner of our worship; that when we worship God alone with his own prescribed worship, we tender it with all possible reverence, according to the 3rd commandment, thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, &c.
  4. The right and solemn time; that as we worship God alone at all times, with that worship which he prescribes, in that reverent manner, so especially in observation of his own designed time, according to the fourth commandment; Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day, &c. And thus every commandment [raises] a step higher than the former; first we must worship God alone. [Secondly], with his own prescribed worship. [Thirdly], With all reverence. [Fourthly], With observation of his Sabbaths. And whether this be not the most natural and visible distinction of the four commandments, accordinf to the letter of them, we leave it to the judicious reader to consider.

And now we are fallen upon the fourth commandment of the Decalogue; wherein we are to consider, (as in other commandments) 1. The general scope or intention of the commandment; 2. The letter, or particular words, and meaning of it. And first, for the general scope of this commandment; we may collect it by comparing it with the second commandment, the scope whereof is confessed this, that God must be worshipped with his own prescribed worship. So the general scope of the fourth commandment seems fairly to be this, that those time, and those only should be observed as necessary to religion, which are appointed by God himself. And that it is so, seems consonant to natural reason; in as much as, first it is confessed to be morally natural, in the 4th commandment, to appoint some sufficient time for God, and for religion; and secondly it is also proved above, by many irrefragable reasons, that the determination of the necessary, sufficient time for religion, belongs to God alone; and this is acknowledged by natural men, even very heathens, as we showed above. Now to what commandment this morality can properly and formally belong, or be referred, unless unto the fourth, we do not understand. Add to this, 3rd, that all divines, even our adversaries themselves, do reduce the festival Sabbaths, to the 4th commandment, as appendants of the same, which could not be, in any reasonable sense, according to the letter, unless because they fall under this general scope of the commandment, that those times, and only those of Gods appointment, must be observed by force and virtue of this commandment. The want of which consideration, as we suppose, hath caused much confusion in the present controversies, and produced many evil consequences, to the great prejudice of Gods fourth commandment. For some there are, who (we think, contrary to their own assertions elsewhere delivered) do make the general scope and moral substance of the 4th commandment, to be the publick worship. For the discussion and confutation whereof, we have designed a particular chapter in this our second part. Thither we refer it, and proceed.

The general scope, being this resolved on; we come now to consider the letter, and word, expressed in the 4th commandment, that so at last we may find the sense and meaning of the same. Only we desire leave to premise but this consideration, that we in this chapter, do only assert, (what after we intend to prove) but do not undertake to prove anything, unless such things as do not fall into dispute hereafter, and that but briefly. And first of all, we shall lay down the commandment in the words thereof, according to the true reading of them, and the full intention of the lawgiver, as we conceive.”



Cawdrey, Daniel, and Herbert Palmer. Sabbatum Redivivum or The Christian Sabbath Vindicated. 1651. Web.

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