Why is the fourth commandment (the Sabbath) different?

Please say why the Fourth Commandment is dealt with as being morally different from the rest. It will be agreed that it is wrong for Christians to steal, murder, etc. Why should it not be morally wrong for Christians not to observe the seventh day of rest?

We regard the Fourth Commandment as being morally different from the others, because apart from God’s revealed will for Israel as regards it, no natural conscience could possibly know that it was wrong to work on the seventh day, as is found to be the case by missionaries in heathen lands. The nations round Israel were never put under the Sabbath law, knew nothing about it, and are never held responsible for not keeping it. At least, I know of no place in the Prophets where not keeping the Sabbath is charged home on them.

A Gentile who sets himself to keep the Sabbath is doing himself a wrong, as he is now a debtor to do the whole law. He is taking on himself that which in no way appertains to him. He is going beyond what is written, which is wrong, just as coming short is, too. The Sabbath was a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel for ever, and was never given to the Gentiles at all (Exodus 31: 16, i7). All the other Commandments are repeated in substance in the New Testament, but the Sabbath is only referred to in Colossians z. i6, to warn believers not to allow themselves to be placed under bondage in that respect—”Let no man judge you,” etc. A certain modern heretical sect, of which Sabbath-keeping is a distinguishing feature, is so far right, in maintaining that the Sabbath was never changed from the seventh day to the first. The first day of the week, on which our Lord rose from the dead, is not a Sabbath at all; it is the Lord’s Day; though believers, are glad to profit by the usual freedom from secular employment on that day, to occupy themselves with the Lord’s service. The breaking of bread was usually in the evening (e.g. Acts 20: ), because believers were at work all day in those times. Really a fictitious conscience has grown up as regards this question. We ought not to violate our conscience or that of others, by forcing or disregarding it, but to get an enlightened conscience from the Word of God.

W.H.