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Chapter 94

The Sabbath in History

*** When and by what acts was the Sabbath made?
“And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” Gen. 2:2, 3.

*** What important division of time is marked off by the Sabbath?
The week.

*** Two thousand five hundred years after creation, the Sabbath was proclaimed, with the other moral commands, from Mount Sinai. Why did God say He had put His blessing upon that day?
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day:
wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Ex. 20:11.

*** What befell the city of Jerusalem when it was captured by the king of Babylon?
“And all the vessels of the house of God... he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire.” 2 Chron. 36:18, 19.

*** Of what prophecy was this a fulfillment?
“But if ye will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; then I will kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jer. 17:27.

*** After the restoration of Israel from the Babylonian captivity, what was said to have been the reason of their punishment?
“Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the Sabbath day? Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the Sabbath.” Neh. 13:17, 18.

*** How did Christ regard the Sabbath during His earthly ministry?
“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Luke 4:16.

*** How did He wish to have it regarded by His disciples at the siege of Jerusalem, nearly forty years after His death?
“But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Matt. 24:20.

*** What was the first effort of the Roman Church in behalf of the recognition of Sunday?
“In A.D. 196, Victor, Bishop of Rome, attempted to impose on all the churches the Roman custom of having Easter fall every year on Sunday.” Bower’s History of the Popes, vol.2, page 18.

*** What was one of the principal reasons for convoking the Council of Nice?
“The question relating to the observance of Easter, which was agitated in the time of Anicetus and Polycarp, and afterward in that of Victor, was still undecided. It was one of the principal reasons for convoking the Council of Nice, being the most important subject to be considered after the Arian Controversy.” Boyle’s Historical View of the Council of Nice, page 22, ed. of 1839.

*** How was the matter finally decided?
“Easter day was fixed on the Sunday immediately following the new moon which was nearest after the vernal equinox.” Idem. page 23.

*** In urging the observance of this decree on the churches, what reason did Constantine assign for it?
“Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews.” Idem, page 52.

*** What had Constantine already done, in A.D. 321, to help forward Sunday to a place of prominence?
He issued an edict forcing “the judges and town people and the occupation of all trades” to rest on the “venerable day of the sun.” See Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Sunday.

*** Eusebius was bishop of Caesarea, and one of Constantine’s most trusty supporters. Who did he say had changed the obligations of the Sabbath to Sunday?
“All things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these WE have transferred to the Lord’s day.” Eusebius’s Commentary on the Psalms, quoted in Cox’s “Sabbath Literature,” Vol. 1, page 361.

*** What did the Council of Laodicea decree in A.D. 364?
“The Council of Laodicea... first settled the observation of the Lord’s day, and prohibited the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath under an anathema.” Dissertation on the Lord’s Day Sabbath, pages 33, 34, 44.

*** But did the Christians of the early church keep the Sabbath?
“Down even to the fifth century, the observances of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church.” Coleman’s Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chap. 26, sec. 2.

*** What day was observed in the Dark Ages by some of the Waldenses?
“They kept the Sabbath day, observed the ordinance of baptism according to the primitive church, instructed their children in the articles of the Christian faith and the commandments of God.” Jones’s Church History, vol. 2, chap. 5, sec. 4.

*** We have seen that paganism brought Sunday to the forefront as a “venerable” day, and popery gave it the title of “Lord’s day .” What claim is now made by the Roman Church concerning the change of the Sabbath to Sunday?
“Question. - Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“Answer. - Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her, she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.” Doctrinal Catechism. This is also taught in nearly all Catholic books of instruction.

*** Among the early Reformers, were there any who observed the seventh day?
“Carlstadt held to the divine authority of the Sabbath from the Old Testament.” Life of Luther, page 402,

*** What did Luther say of Carlstadt’s Sabbath views?
“Indeed, if Carlstadt were to write further about the Sabbath, Sunday would have to give way, and the Sabbath
that is to say, Saturday must be kept holy.” Luther, against the Celestial Prophets, quoted in the Life of Martin Luther in Pictures, page 147.
NOTE. – Through the efforts of those who opposed the Sabbath during the Reformation, Sunday was brought from Catholicism into the Protestant church, and is now cherished as an institution of the Lord. It is clear, however, that it is none of His planting, but rather that of His enemies. The Lord sowed different seeds in the field; but “an enemy hath done this,” to lead God’s people away from the truth. A proclamation is now going forth, however, to revive the truth on this point. Some will heed the call, and when the message closes, God will have a people who are willing to recognize Him fully by keeping His down trodden Sabbath. To these He will say, “Well done.”


*** “There is scarcely anything which strikes the mind of the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with greater surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of the corruptions of Christianity, which are embodied in the Roman system, took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the first originators of many of these unscriptural notions and practices planted those germs of corruption, they anticipated or even imagined they would ever grow into such a vast and hideous system of superstition and error as is that of popery.” John Dowling, History of Romanism,” 13th Edition, p. 65.

*** “It would be an error to attribute [’the sanctification of Sunday’] to a definite decision of the Apostles. There is no such decision mentioned in the Apostolic documents [that is, the New Testament].” Antoine Villien, “A History of the Commandments of the Church,” 1915, p. 23.

*** “It must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day.” McClintock and Strong, “Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature,” Vol. 9, p. 196.

*** “Until well into the second century [a hundred years after Christ] we do not find the slightest indication in our sources that Christians marked Sunday by any kind of abstention from work.” W. Rordort, “Sunday,” p. 157.

*** “The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed... by the Christians of the Eastern Church [in the area near Palestine] above three hundred years after our Saviour’s death.” “A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath,” p. 77.

*** “Modern Christians who talk of keeping Sunday as a ’holy’ day, as in the still extant ’Blue Laws,’ of colonial America, should know that as a ’holy’ day of rest and cessation from labor and amusements Sunday was unknown to Jesus... It formed no tenet [teaching] of the primitive Church and became ’sacred’ only in the course of time. Outside the Church its observance was legalized for the Roman Empire through a series of decrees starting with the famous one of Constantine in 321, an edict due to his political and social ideas.” W. W. Hyde, “Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire,” 1946, p. 257.

*** “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic Church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday.” Augustus Neander, “The History of the Christian Religion and Church,” 1843, p. 186.

*** “The Church made a sacred day of Sunday... largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance.” Arthur Weigall, “The Paganism in Our Christianity,” 1928, p. 145.

*** “Is it not strange that Sunday is almost universally observed when the Sacred Writings do not endorse it? Satan, the great counterfeiter, worked through the ’mystery of iniquity’ to introduce a counterfeit Sabbath to take the place of the true Sabbath of God. Sunday stands side by side with Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Corpus Christi, Assumption Day, All Soul’s Day, Christmas Day, and a host of other ecclesiastical feast days too numerous to mention. This array of Roman Catholic feasts and fast days are all man made. None of them bears the divine credentials of the Author of the Inspired Word.” M. E. Walsh.

*** “Sun worship was the earliest idolatry.” A. R. Fausset, “Bible Dictionary,” p. 666.

*** Sun worship was “one of the oldest components of the Roman religion.” Gaston H. Halsberghe, “The Cult of Sol Invictus,” 1972, p.26.

*** ” ’Babylon, the mother of harlots,’ derived much of her teaching from pagan Rome and thence from Babylon. Sun worship that led her to Sunday keeping, was one of those choice bits of paganism that sprang originally from the heathen lore of ancient Babylon: ’The solar theology of the “Chaldeans” had a decisive effect upon the final development of Semitic paganism... [It led to their seeing the sun the directing power of the cosmic system. All the Baals were thence forward turned into suns; the sun itself being the mover of the other stars, like it eternal and ’unconquerable.’ ...Such was the final form reached by the religion of the pagan Semites, and, following them, by that of the Romans... when they raised ’Sol Invictus’ [the Invincible Sun] to the rank of supreme divinity in the Empire.” Franz V. M. Cumont, “The Frontier Provinces of the East,” in ’The Cambridge Ancient History,” Vol. 11, pp. 643, 646-647.

*** “The power of the Caesars lived again in the universal dominion of the popes.” H. G. Gulness, “Romanism and the Reformation.”

*** “From simple beginnings, the church developed a distinct priesthood and an elaborate service. In this way, Christianity and the higher forms of paganism tended to come nearer and nearer to each other as time went on. In one sense, it is true, they met like armies in mortal conflict, but at the same time they tended to merge into one another like streams which had been following converging courses.” J. H. Robinson, “Introduction to the History of Western Europe,” p. 31.

*** “Unquestionably the first law. either ecclesiastical or civil. by which the Sabbatical observance of that day is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, 321 A.D.” Chamber’s Encyclopedia,” article, “Sabbath.”

*** “This [Constantine’s Sunday decree of March, 321] is the ’parent’ Sunday law making it a day of rest and release from labor. For from that time to the present there have been decrees about the observance of Sunday which have profoundly influenced European and American society. When the Church became apart of State under the Christian emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes, and later when the Empire was past, the Church in the hands of the papacy enforced it by ecclesiastical and also by civil enactments.” Walter W Hyde, “Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire,” 1946, p. 267.

*** “Constantine’s decree marked the beginning of a long, though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest.” Vincent J. Kelly, “Forbidden Sunday and Feast Day Occupations,” 1943, p. 29.

*** “Constantine labored at this time untiringly to unite the worshipers of the old and the new into one religion. All his laws and contrivances are aimed at promoting this amalgamation of religions. He would by all lawful and peaceable means melt together a purified heathenism and a moderated Christianity... Of all his blending and melting together of Christianity and heathenism, none is more easy to see through than this making of his Sunday law: The Christians worshiped their Christ, the heathen their Sun-god... [so they should now be combined].” H. G. Heggtveit, “Illustreret Kirkehistorie,” 1895, p. 202.

*** “Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church, but with a rigor and solemnity gradually diminishing until it was wholly discontinued.” Lyman Coleman, “Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chap. 26, sec. 2, p. 527.

*** “Constantine’s [five Sunday law] decrees marked the beginning of a long though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest.” “A History of the Councils of the Church, ” Vol. 2, p. 316.

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