The Sabbath Examined by John Leland is now available as a PDF download.
Excerpt from the Introduction:
Leland was an unabashed defender of religious freedom, liberty of conscience, and separation of church and state, but he also represents an important dissenting voice regarding the doctrine of the perpetuity of the Sabbath, especially among Calvinistic Baptists. Modern publications surrounding this issue tend to leave the impression that there has been little to no historic debate amongst â€˜orthodoxyâ€™ regarding the perpetuity of the Sabbath; that anyone who questions the Scriptural support for the doctrine is little more than an antinomian or libertine seeking to undermine all religion and clear the weekend for sports and games; that virtually everyone from Calvin onward has held to a Puritan-style observance of the first day. The rejection of the doctrine has even become a point of fellowship and sharp division, especially amongst â€˜Reformedâ€˜ Baptists.
A fair question is whether the historic balance of opinion on this question is being fairly represented in todayâ€™s polemic, especially when the modern republishing ministries which promote Calvinistic doctrine are almost completely dominated by one view of the matter. The result has been a wealth of treatises defending the Sabbath or giving directions for its care and observance, with virtually no evidence of a contrary stream of thought.
Leland provides something of an antidote to this view, and a strong one. He espouses a radical New Testament theology: consigning the entire Sabbath institution to the Mosaic period; rejecting any distinction of days under the New Covenant; and advocating a liberty of the church to meet on any or every day of the week, while yet respecting the right of every man to keep a religious day as he feels compelled by conscience.