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On the First Day of the Week: God, the Christian and the Sabbath

Iain D. Campbell

Reviewed by: Jack W. Sawyer

Date posted: 01/13/2008

On the First Day of the Week: God, the Christian and the Sabbath, by lain D. Campbell. Published by Day One Publications (Ryelands Road, Leominster, HR6 8NZ, UK; in US: 1-866-732-6657). Paperback, 224 pages, list price £8.00. Reviewed by OP pastor Jack W. Sawyer.

Periodically, pastors no doubt picture themselves tilting at the windmills as modernity and secularization inundate the western world and invade the church. Particularly is this true of their efforts to enjoin joyful observance of the Sabbath.

Dr. lain D. Campbell, pastor of Back Free Church of Scotland on the Isle of Lewis, undoubtedly fights this same battle, having seen in his lifetime the practice of Sabbath-keeping undergo a marked change. He has witnessed not only the secular culture reject the Sabbath, but also the more troubling desire of evangelicals "to replace the Sabbath with something different." Thus his book has come forth, perhaps quixotically to many today, with the conviction that "the Puritans did get it right" and that "one of the blood bought treasures of Calvary is a weekly holy-day, in which we may, and ought to turn aside from other things to live before the face of God."

Orthodox Presbyterians will welcome this timely and effective resource. It provides a capable, redemptive-historical exposition of the Sabbatarianism of the Westminster standards. Pastors will find ample seed for sermons in its defense of the traditional, scriptural Sabbath. Campbell begins his study at creation, where "Adam and Eve enjoyed pleasing God," whose "gracious relationship to them was manifested, intimated, and channeled through the word of law and covenant obligation." The reader is taken through the Old Testament, to Christ and to the consummation itself, when "we will dwell in his house forever, resting, worshipping, praising him in the holy clean air of the celestial city." Included are helpful chapters on the Puritans and Christians in the twenty-first century. The latter chapter itself, as another reviewer rightly notes, "is worth the price of the book."

The author interacts with relevant literature, old and new. His style is popular, and his polemic against errant views is polite but persuasive. Chapters begin with colorful anecdotes, which grip the attention as they introduce their subject.

One feels, upon reading this book, a desire to "quicken our step to glory, and our resolve to spend our Sundays in anticipation of the greatest Sabbath of all."

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