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History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week

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    Origin of the Sabbath and of the festival of the sun contrasted - Entrance of that festival into the church - The Moderns with the Ancients - The Sabbath observed by the early Christians - Testimony of Morer - Of Twisse - Of Giesler - Of Mosheim - Of Coleman - Of Bishop Tayler - The Sabbath loses ground before the Sunday festival - Several bodies of decided Sabbatarians - Testimony of Brerewood - Constantine’s Sunday law - Sunday a day of labor with the primitive church - Constantine’s edict a heathen law, and himself at that time a heathen - The bishop of Rome authoritatively confers the name of Lord’s day upon Sunday - Heylyn narrates the steps by which Sunday arose to power - A marked change in the history of that institution - Paganism brought into the church - The Sabbath weakened by Constantine’s influence - Remarkable facts concerning Eusebius - The Sabbath recovers strength again - The council of Laodicea pronounces a curse upon the Sabbath-keepers - The progress of apostasy marked - Authority of church councils considered - Chrysostom - Jerome - Augustine - Sunday edicts - Testimony of Socrates relative to the Sabbath about the middle of the fifth century - Of Sozomen - Effectual suppression of the Sabbath at the close of the fifth century

    The origin of the Sabbath and of the festival of Sunday is now distinctly understood. When God made the world, he gave to man the Sabbath that he might not forget the Creator of all things. When men apostatized from God, Satan turned them to the worship of the sun, and, as a standing memorial of their veneration for that luminary, caused them to dedicate to his honor the first day of the week. When the elements of apostasy had sufficiently matured in the Christian church, this ancient festival stood forth as a rival to the Sabbath of the Lord. The manner in which it obtained a foothold in the Christian church has been already shown; and many facts which have an important bearing upon the struggle between these rival institutions have also been given. We have, in the preceding chapters, given the statements of the most ancient Christian writers respecting the Sabbath and first-day in the early church. As we now trace the history of these two days during the first five centuries of the Christian era, we shall give the statements of modern church historians, covering the same ground with the early fathers, and shall also quote in continuation of the ancient writers the testimonies of the earliest church historians. The reader can thus discover how nearly the ancients and moderns agree. Of the observance of the Sabbath in the early church, Morer speaks thus:-HSFD 332.1

    “The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons. And it is not to be doubted but they derived this practice from the apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to that purpose; who, keeping both that day and the first of the week, gave occasion to the succeeding ages to join them together, and make it one festival, though there was not the same reason for the continuance of the custom as there was to begin it.” 1Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, p. 189.HSFD 333.1

    A learned English first-day writer of the seventeenth century, William Twisse, D. D., thus states the early history of these two days:-HSFD 333.2

    “Yet for some hundred years in the primitive church, not the Lord’s day only, but the seventh day also, was religiously observed, not by Ebion and Cerinthus only, but by pious Christians also, as Baronius writeth, and Gomarus confesseth, and Rivet also, that we are bound in conscience under the gospel, to allow for God’s service a better proportion of time, than the Jews did under the law, rather than a worse.” 1Morality of the Fourth Commandment, p. 9, London, 1641.HSFD 333.3

    That the observance of the Sabbath was not confined to Jewish converts, the learned Giesler explicitly testifies:-HSFD 334.1

    “While the Jewish Christians of Palestine retained the entire Mosaic law, and consequently the Jewish festivals, the Gentile Christians observed also the Sabbath and the passover, 21 Corinthians 5:6-8. with reference to the last scenes of Jesus’ life, but without Jewish superstition. In addition to these, Sunday, as the day of Christ’s resurrection, was devoted to religious services.” 3Eccl. Hist. vol. i. chap 2. sect. 30.HSFD 334.2

    The statement of Mosheim may be thought to contradict that of Giesler. Thus he says:-HSFD 334.3

    “The seventh day of the week was also observed as a festival, not by the Christians in general, but by such churches only as were principally composed of Jewish converts, nor did the other Christians censure this custom as criminal and unlawful.” 4Eccl. Hist. book i. cent. l. part ii. chap 4. sect. 4. Dr. Murdock’s translation is more accurate than that above by Maclaine. He gives it thus:- “Moreover, those congregations, which either lived intermingled with Jews, or were composed in great measure of Jews, were accustomed also to observe the seventh day of the week, as a SACRED day: for doing which, the other Christians taxed them with no wrong.HSFD 334.4

    It will be observed that Mosheim does not deny that the Jewish converts observed the Sabbath. He denies that this was done by the Gentile Christians. The proof on which he rests this denial is thus stated by him:-HSFD 334.5

    “The churches of Bithynia, of which Pliny speaks, in his letter to Trajan, had only one stated day for the celebration of public worship; and that was undoubtedly the first day of the week, or what we call the Lord’s day.” 5Id. margin.HSFD 334.6

    The proposition to be proved is this: The Gentile Christians did not observe the Sabbath. The proof is found in the following fact: The churches of Bithynia assembled on a stated day for the celebration of divine worship. It is seen therefore that the conclusion is gratuitous, and wholly unauthorized by the testimony. 1See chap 14. of this History. But this instance shows the dexterity of Mosheim in drawing inferences, and gives us some insight into the kind of evidence which supports some of these sweeping statements in behalf of Sunday. Who can say that this “stated day” was not the very day enjoined in the fourth commandment? Of the Sabbath and first day in the early ages of the church, Coleman speaks as follows:-HSFD 335.1

    “The last day of the week was strictly kept in connection with that of the first day, for a long time after the overthrow of the temple and its worship. 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.” 2Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chap 26. sect. 2.HSFD 335.2

    This is a most explicit acknowledgment that the Bible Sabbath was long observed by the body of the Christian church. Coleman is a first-day writer, and therefore not likely to state the case too strongly in behalf of the seventh day. He is a modern writer, but we have already proved his statements true out of the ancients. It is true that Coleman speaks also of the first day of the week, yet his subsequent language shows that it was a long while before this became a sacred day. Thus he says:-HSFD 335.3

    “During the early ages of the church it was never entitled ‘the Sabbath,’ this word being confined to the seventh day of the week, the Jewish Sabbath, which, as we have already said, continued to be observed for several centuries by the converts to Christianity.” 1Anc. Christ. Exem. Chap. 26. sect. 2.HSFD 335.4

    This fact is made still clearer by the following language, in which this historian admits Sunday to be nothing but a human ordinance:-HSFD 336.1

    “No law or precept appears to have been given by Christ or the apostles, either for the abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath, or the institution of the Lord’s day, or the substitution of the first for the seventh day of the week.” 2Id.Ib.HSFD 336.2

    Coleman does not seem to realize that in making this truthful statement he has directly acknowledged that the ancient Sabbath is still in full force as a divine institution, and that first-day observance is only authorized by the traditions of men. He next relates the manner in which this Sunday festival which had been nourished in the bosom of the church usurped the place of the Lord’s Sabbath; a warning to all Christians of the tendency of human institutions, if cherished by the people of God, to destroy those which are divine. Let this important language be carefully pondered. He speaks thus:-HSFD 336.3

    “The observance of the Lord’s day was ordered while yet the Sabbath of the Jews was continued; nor was the latter superseded until the former had acquired the same solemnity and importance, which belonged, at first, to that great day which God originally ordained and blessed.... But in time, after the Lord’s day was fully established, the observance of the Sabbath of the Jews was gradually discontinued, and was finally denounced as heretical.” 3Id.Ib.HSFD 336.4

    Thus is seen the result of cherishing this harmless Sunday festival in the church. It only asked toleration at first; but gaining strength by degrees, it gradually undermined the Sabbath of the Lord, and finally denounced its observance as heretical.HSFD 336.5

    Jeremy Taylor, a distinguished bishop of the Church of England, and a man of great erudition, but a decided opponent of Sabbatic obligation, confirms the testimony of Coleman. He affirms that the Sabbath was observed by the Christians of the first three hundred years, but denies that they did this out of respect to the authority or the law of God. But we have shown from the fathers that those who hallowed the Sabbath did it as an act of obedience to the fourth commandment, and that the decalogue was acknowledged as of perpetual obligation, and as the perfect rule of right. As Bishop T. denies that this was their ground of observance, he should have shown some other, which he has not done. Thus he says:-HSFD 337.1

    “The Lord’s day did not succeed in the place of the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was wholly abrogated, and the Lord’s day was merely an ecclesiastical institution. It was not introduced by virtue of the fourth commandment, because they for almost three hundred years together kept that day which was in that commandment; but they did it also without any opinion of prime obligation, and therefore they did not suppose it moral.” 1Ductor Dubitantium, part i. book ii. rule 6, sect. 51.HSFD 337.2

    That such an opinion relative to the obligation of the fourth commandment had gained ground extensively among the leaders of the church, as early at least as the fourth century, and probably in the third, is sufficiently attested by the action of the council of Laodicea, A.D. 364, which anathematized those who should observe the Sabbath, as will be noticed in its place. That this loose view of the morality of the fourth commandment was resisted by many, is shown by the existence of various bodies of steadfast Sabbatarians in that age, whose memory has come down to us; and also by the fact that that council made such a vigorous effort to put down the Sabbath. Coleman has clearly portrayed the gradual depression of the Sabbath, as the first-day festival arose in strength, until Sabbath-keeping became heretical, when, by ecclesiastical authority, the Sabbath was suppressed, and the festival of Sunday became fully established as a new and different institution. The natural consequence of this is seen in the rise of distinct sects, or bodies, who were distinguished for their observance of the seventh day. That they should be denounced as heretical and falsely charged with many errors is not surprising, when we consider that their memory has been handed down to us by their opponents, and that Sabbath-keepers in our own time are not unfrequently treated in this very manner. The first of these ancient Sabbatarian bodies was the Nazarenes. Of these, Morer testifies that,HSFD 337.3

    They “retained the Sabbath; and though they pretended to believe as Christians, yet they practiced as Jews, and so were in reality neither one nor the other.” 1Dialogues on the Lord’s day, p. 66.HSFD 338.1

    And Dr. Frances White, lord bishop of Ely, mentions the Nazarenes as one of the ancient bodies of Sabbath-keepers who were condemned by the church leaders for that heresy; and he classes them with heretics as Morer has done. 1A Treatise of the Sabbath Day, containing a “Defence of the Orthodoxal Doctrine of the Church of England against Sabbatarian Novelty,” p. 8. It was written in 1635 at the command of the king in reply to Brabourne, a minister of the established church, whose work, entitled “A Defense of that most Ancient and Sacred Ordinance of God’s, the Sabbath Day,” was dedicated to the king with a request that he would restore the Bible Sabbath! See the preface to Dr. White’s Treatise. Yet the Nazarenes have a peculiar claim to our regard, as being in reality the apostolic church of Jerusalem, and its direct successors. Thus Gibbon testifies:-HSFD 338.2

    “The Jewish converts, or, as they were afterwards called, the Nazarenes, who had laid the foundations of the church, soon found themselves overwhelmed by the increasing multitudes, that from all the various religions of polytheism enlisted under the banner of Christ ... The Nazarenes retired from the ruins of Jerusalem to the little town of Pella beyond the Jordan, where that ancient church languished above sixty years in solitude and obscurity.” 2Dec. and Fall, chap 15.HSFD 339.1

    It is not strange that that church which fled out of Judea at the word of Christ 3See chap 10. should long retain the Sabbath, as it appears that they did, even as late as the fourth century. Morer mentions another class of Sabbath-keepers in the following language:-HSFD 339.2

    “About the same time were the Hypsistarii who closed with these as to what concerned the Sabbath, yet would by no means accept circumcision as too plain a testimony of ancient bondage. All these were heretics, and so adjudged to be by the Catholic church. Yet their hypocrisy and industry were such as gained them a considerable footing in the Christian world.” 4Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, p. 67.HSFD 339.3

    The bishop of Ely names these also as a body of Sabbath-keepers whose heresy was condemned by the church. 1Treatise of the Sabbath Day, p. 8. The learned Joseph Bingham, M. A. gives the following account of them:-HSFD 339.4

    “There was another sect which called themselves Hypsistarians, that is, worshipers of the most high God, whom they worshiped as the Jews only in one person. And they observed their Sabbaths and used distinction of meats, clean and unclean, though they did not regard circumcision, as Gregory Nazianzen, whose father was once one of this sect, gives the account of them.” 2Antiquities of the Christian Church, book xvi, chap 6. sect. 2.HSFD 340.1

    It must ever be remembered that these people, whom the Catholic church adjudged to be heretics, are not speaking for themselves: their enemies who condemned them have transmitted to posterity all that is known of their history. It would be well if heretics, who meet with little mercy at the hand of ecclesiastical writers, could at least secure the impartial justice of a truthful record.HSFD 340.2

    Another class are thus described by Cox in his elaborate work entitled “Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties:”-HSFD 340.3

    “In this way [that is, by presenting the testimony of the Bible on the subject] arose the ancient Sabbatarians, a body it is well known of very considerable importance in respect both to numbers and influence, during the greater part of the third and the early part of the next century,” 3Page 280. Cox here quotes the work, entitled “The Modern Sabbath Examined.HSFD 340.4

    The close of the third century witnessed the Sabbath much weakened in its hold upon the church in general, and the festival of Sunday, although possessed of no divine authority, steadily gaining in strength and in sacredness. The following historical testimony from a member of the English Church, Edward Brerewood, professor in Gresham College, London, gives a good general view of the matter, though the author’s anti-Sabbatarian views are mixed with it. He says:-HSFD 340.5

    “The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed together with the celebration of the Lord’s day by the Christians of the east church above three hundred years after our Saviour’s death; and besides that, no other day for more hundreds of years than I spake of before, was known in the church by the name of Sabbath but that: let the collection thereof and conclusion of all be this: The Sabbath of the seventh day as touching the alligations of God’s solemn worship to time was ceremonial; that Sabbath was religiously observed in the east church three hundred years and more after our Saviour’s passion. That church being the great part of Christendom, and having the apostles’ doctrine and example to instruct them, would have restrained it if it had been deadly.” 1Learned Treatise of the Sabbath, p. 77. Oxford, 1631.HSFD 341.1

    Such was the case in the eastern churches at the end of the third century; but in such of the western churches as sympathized with the church of Rome, the Sabbath had been treated as a fast from the beginning of that century, to express their opposition toward those who observed it according to the commandment.HSFD 341.2

    In the early part of the fourth century occurred an event which could not have been foreseen, but which threw an immense weight in favor of Sunday into the balances already trembling between the rival institutions, the Sabbath of the Lord and the festival of the sun. This was nothing less than an edict from the throne of the Roman Empire in behalf of “the venerable day of the sun.” It was issued by the emperor Constantine in A.D. 321, and is thus expressed:-HSFD 341.3

    “Let all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades rest on the venerable day of the sun; but let those who are situated in the country, freely and at full liberty attend to the business of agriculture; because it often happens that no other day is so fit for sowing corn and planting vines; lest, the critical moment being let slip, men should lose the commodities granted by Heaven. Given the seventh day of March; Crispus and Constantine being consuls, each of them for the second time.” 1This edict is the original fountain of first-day authority, and in many respects answers to the festival of Sunday, what the fourth commandment is to the Sabbath of the Lord. The original of this edict may be seen in the library of Harvard College, and is as follows:- imp. constant. a. elpidio.HSFD 342.1

    Of this law, a high authority thus speaks:-HSFD 342.2

    “It was Constantine the Great who first made a law for the proper observance of Sunday; and who, according to Eusebius, appointed it should be regularly celebrated throughout the Roman Empire. Before him, and even in his time, they observed the Jewish Sabbath, as well as Sunday; both to satisfy the law of Moses, and to imitate the apostles who used to meet together on the first day. By Constantine’s law, promulgated in 321, it was decreed that for the future the Sunday should be kept as a day of rest in all cities and towns; but he allowed the country people to follow their work.” 2Encyc. Brit. art. Sunday, seventh edition, 1842.HSFD 342.3

    Another eminent authority thus states the purport of this law:-HSFD 342.4

    “Constantine the Great made a law for the whole empire (A.D. 321) that Sunday should be kept as a day of rest in all cities and towns; but he allowed the country people to follow their work on that day.” 3Encyc. Am. art. Sabbath.HSFD 342.5

    Thus the fact is placed beyond all dispute that this decree gave full permission to all kinds of agricultural labor. The following testimony of Mosheim is therefore worthy of strict attention:-HSFD 343.1

    “The first day of the week, which was the ordinary and stated time for the public assemblies of the Christians, was in consequence of a peculiar law enacted by Constantine, observed with greater solemnity than it had formerly been.” 1Eccl. Hist. cent. iv. part ii. chap 4. sect. 5.HSFD 343.2

    What will the advocates of first-day sacredness say to this? They quote Mosheim respecting Sunday observance in the first century - which testimony has been carefully examined in this work 2Chap. 14. - and they seem to think that his language in support of first-day sacredness is nearly equal in authority to the language of the New Testament; in fact, they regard it as supplying an important omission in that book. Yet Mosheim states respecting Constantine’s Sunday law, promulgated in the fourth century, which restrained merchants and mechanics, but allowed all kinds of agricultural labor on that day, that it caused the day to be “observed with greater solemnity than it had formerly been.” It follows, therefore, on Mosheim’s own showing, that Sunday, during the first three centuries, was not a day of abstinence from labor in the Christian church. On this point, Bishop Taylor thus testifies:-HSFD 343.3

    “The primitive Christians did all manner of works upon the Lord’s day, even in the times of persecution, when they are the strictest observers of al the divine commandments; but in this they knew there was none; and therefore when Constantine the emperor had made an edict against working upon the Lord’s day, yet he excepts and still permitted all agriculture or labors of the husbandman whatsoever.” 3Duct. Dubitant. part i. book ii. chap 2. rule 6, sect. 59.HSFD 343.4

    Morer tells us respecting the first three centuries, that is to say, the period before Constantine, thatHSFD 344.1

    “The Lord’s day had no command that it should be sanctified, but it was left to God’s people to pitch on this or that day for the public worship. And being taken up and made a day of meeting for religious exercises, yet for three hundred years there was no law to bind them to it, and for want of such a law, the day was not wholly kept in abstaining from common business; nor did they any longer rest from their ordinary affairs (such was the necessity of those times) than during the divine service.” 1Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, p. 233.HSFD 344.2

    And Sir Wm. Domville says:-HSFD 344.3

    “Centuries of the Christian era passed away before the Sunday was observed by the Christian church as a Sabbath. History does not furnish us with a single proof or indication that it was at any time so observed previous to the Sabbatical edict of Constantine in A.D. 321.” 2Examination of the Six Texts, p. 291.HSFD 344.4

    What these able modern writers set forth as to labor on Sunday before the edict of Constantine was promulgated, we have fully proved in the preceding chapters out of the most ancient ecclesiastical writers. That such an edict could not fail to strengthen the current already strongly set in favor of Sunday, and greatly to weaken the influence of the Sabbath, cannot be doubted. Of this fact, an able writer bears witness:-HSFD 344.5

    “Very shortly after the period when Constantine issued his edict enjoining the general observance of Sunday throughout the Roman Empire, the party that had contended for the observance of the seventh day dwindled into insignificance. The observance of Sunday as a public festival, during which all business, with the exception of rural employments, was intermitted, came to be more and more generally established ever after this time, throughout both the Greek and the Latin churches. There is no evidence however that either at this, or at a period much later, the observance was viewed as deriving any obligation from the fourth commandment; it seems to have been regarded as an institution corresponding in nature with Christmas, Good Friday, and other festivals of the church; and as resting with them on the ground of ecclesiastical authority and tradition.” 1Cox’s Sabbath Laws, etc. pp. 280, 281. He quotes The Modern Sabbath Examined.HSFD 344.6

    This extraordinary edict of Constantine caused Sunday to be observed with greater solemnity than it had formerly been. Yet we have the most indubitable proof that this law was a heathen enactment; that it was put forth in favor of Sunday as a heathen institution and not as a Christian festival; and that Constantine himself not only did not possess the character of a Christian, but was at that time in truth a heathen. It is to be observed that Constantine did not designate the day which he commanded men to keep, as Lord’s day, Christian Sabbath, or the day of Christ’s resurrection; nor does he assign any reason for its observance which would indicate it as a Christian festival. On the contrary, he designates the ancient heathen festival of the sun in language that cannot be mistaken. Dr. Hessey thus sustains this statement:-HSFD 345.1

    “Others have looked at the transaction in a totally different light, and refused to discover in the document, or to suppose in the mind of the enactor, any recognition of the Lord’s day as a matter of divine obligation. They remark, and very truly, that Constantine designates it by its astrological or heathen title, Dies Solis, and insist that the epithet venerabilis with which it is introduced has reference to the rites performed on that day in honor of Hercules, Apollo, and Mithras.” 2Hessey’s Bampton Lectures, p. 60.HSFD 345.2

    On this important point, Milman, the learned editor of Gibbon, thus testifies:-HSFD 346.1

    “The rescript commanding the celebration of the Christian Sabbath, bears no allusion to its peculiar sanctity as a Christian institution. It is the day of the sun which is to be observed by the general veneration; the courts were to be closed, and the noise and tumult of public business and legal litigation were no longer to violate the repose of the sacred day. But the believer in the new paganism, of which the solar worship was the characteristic, might acquiesce without scruple in the sanctity of the first day of the week.” 1History of Christianity, book iii. chap 1.HSFD 346.2

    And he adds in a subsequent chapter:-HSFD 346.3

    “In fact, as we have before observed, the day of the sun would be willingly hallowed by almost all the pagan world, especially that part which had admitted any tendency towards the Oriental theology.” 2Id. book iii. chap 4.HSFD 346.4

    On the seventh day of March, Constantine published his edict commanding the observance of that ancient festival of the heathen, the venerable day of the sun. On the following day, March eighth, 3These dates are worthy of marked attention. See Blair’s Chronological Tables, p. 193, ed. 1856; Rosse’s Index of Dates, p. 830. he issued a second decree in every respect worthy of its heathen predecessor. 4Imp. Constantinus A. Ad Maximum. Si quid de Palatio Nostro, aut ceteris operibus publicis, degustatum fulgore esse conatiterit, retento more veteris observantiae. Quid portendat, ob Haruspicibus requiratur, et diligentissime scriptura collecta ad Nostram Scientiam referatur. Ceteris etiam usurpandae huius consuetudinis licentia tribuenda: dummodo sacrificiis domesticis abstineant, quae specialiter prohibita sunt. Eam autem denunciationem adque interpretationem, quae de tactu Amphitheatri scriba est, de qua ad Heraclianum Tribunum, et Magistrum Officiorum scripseras, ad nos scias esse perlatum. Dat. xvi. Kal. Jan. Serdicae Acc. 8. Id. Mart. Crispo ii. & Constantino ii. C. C. Coss. 321. Cod. Theodos. xvi. 10, 1. - Library of Harvard College. The purport of it was this: That if any royal edifice should be struck by lightning, the ancient ceremonies of propitiating the deity should be practiced, and the haruspices were to be consulted to learn the meaning of the awful portent. 1See Jortin’s Eccl. Hist. vol. i. sect. 31; Milman’s Hist. Christianity, book iii. chap 1. The haruspices were soothsayers who foretold future events by examining the entrails of beasts slaughtered in sacrifice to the gods! 2See Webster; for an ancient record of the act, see Ezekiel 21:19-22. The statute of the seventh of March enjoining the observance of the venerable day of the sun, and that of the eighth of the same month commanding the consultation of the haruspices, constitute a noble pair of well-matched heathen edicts. That Constantine himself was a heathen at the time these edicts were issued, is shown not only by the nature of the edicts themselves, but by the fact that his nominal conversion to Christianity is placed by Mosheim two years after his Sunday law. Thus he says:-HSFD 346.5

    “After well considering the subject, I have come to the conclusion, that subsequently to the death of Licinius in the years 323 when Constantine found himself sole emperor, he became an absolute Christian, or one who believes no religion but the Christian to be acceptable to God. He had previously considered the religion of one God as more excellent than the other religions, and believed that Christ ought especially to be worshiped: yet he supposed there were also inferior deities, and that to these some worship might be paid, in the manner of the fathers, without fault or sin. And who does not know, that in those times, many others also combined the worship of Christ with that of the ancient gods, whom they regarded as the ministers of the supreme God in the government of human and earthly affairs.” 3Historical Commentaries, cent. iv. sect. 7.HSFD 347.1

    As a heathen, Constantine was the worshiper of Apollo or the sun, a fact that sheds much light upon his edict enjoining men to observe the venerable day of the sun. Thus Gibbon testifies:-HSFD 347.2

    “The devotion of Constantine was more peculiarly directed to the genius of the sun, the Apollo of Greek and Roman mythology; and he was pleased to be represented with the symbols of the god of light and poetry.... The altars of Apollo were crowned with the votive offerings of Constantine; and the credulous multitude were taught to believe that the emperor was permitted to behold with mortal eyes the visible majesty of their tutelar deity... The sun was universally celebrated as the invincible guide and protector of Constantine.” 1Dec. and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap 20.HSFD 348.1

    His character as a professor of Christianity is thus described:-HSFD 348.2

    “The sincerity of the man, who in a short period effected such amazing changes in the religious world, is best known to Him who searches the heart. Certain it is that his subsequent life furnished no evidence of conversion to God. He waded without remorse through seas of blood, and was a most tyrannical prince.” 2Marsh’s Eccl. Hist. period iii. chap 5.HSFD 348.3

    A few words relative to his character as a man will complete our view of his fitness to legislate for the church. This man, when elevated to the highest place of earthly power, caused his eldest son, Crispus, to be privately murdered, lest the fame of the son should eclipse that of the father. In the same ruin was involved his nephew Licinius, “whose rank was his only crime,” and this was followed by the execution “perhaps of a guilty wife.” 3Dec. and Fall of the Roman Empire, chap 18.HSFD 348.4

    Such was the man who elevated Sunday to the throne of the Roman Empire; and such the nature of the institution which he thus elevated. A recent English writer says of Constantine’s Sunday law that it “would seem to have been rather to promote heathen than Christian worship.” And he shows how this heathen emperor became a Christian, and how this heathen statute became a Christian law. Thus he says:-HSFD 348.5

    “At a LATER PERIOD, carried away by the current of opinion, he declared himself a convert to the church. Christianity, then, or what he was pleased to call by that name, became the law of the land, and the edict of A.D. 321, being unrevoked, was enforced as a Christian ordinance.” 1Sunday and the Mosaic Sabbath, p. 4, published by R. Groombridge & Sons, London.HSFD 349.1

    Thus it is seen that a law, enacted in support of a heathen institution, after a few years came to be considered a Christian ordinance; and Constantine himself, four years after his Sunday edict, was able to control the church, as represented in the general council of Nice, so as to cause the members of that council to establish their annual festival of the passover upon Sunday. 2See chap 18. Paganism had prepared the institution from ancient days, and had now elevated it to supreme power; its work was accomplished.HSFD 349.2

    We have proved that the Sunday festival in the Christian church had no Sabbatical character before the time of Constantine. We have also shown that heathenism, in the person of Constantine, first gave to Sunday its Sabbatical character, and, in the very act of doing it, designated it as a heathen, and not as a Christian, festival, thus establishing a heathen Sabbath. It was now the part of popery authoritatively to effect its transformation into a Christian institution; a work which it was not slow to perform. Sylvester was the bishop of Rome while Constantine was emperor. How faithfully he acted his part in transforming the festival of the sun into a Christian institution is seen in that, by his apostolic authority, he changed the name of the day, giving it the imposing title of LORD’S DAY. 1Omnium vero dierum per septimanam appellationes (ut Solis, Lunae, Martis, etc.), mutasse in ferias: ut Polydorus (li. 6, c. 5) indicat. Mataphrastes vero, nomina dierum Hebraeis usitata retinuisse eum, tradit; solius primi diei appellatione mutata, quem dominicum dixit. Historia Ecclesiastica per M. Ludovicum Lucium, cent. iv. cap. x. pp. 739, 740, Ed. Basilea, 1624. Library of Andover Theological Seminary. The Ecclesistical History of Lucius is simply the second edition of the famous “Magdeburg Centuries,” which was published under his supervision. To Constantine and to Sylvester, therefore, the advocates of first-day observance are greatly indebted. The one elevated it as a heathen festival to the throne of the empire, making it a day of rest from most kinds of business; the other changed it into a Christian institution, giving it the dignified appellation of Lord’s day. It is not a sufficient reason for denying that Pope Sylvester, not far from A.D. 325, authoritatively conferred on Sunday the name of Lord’s day, to say that one of the fathers, as early as A.D. 200, calls the day by that name, and that some seven different writers, between A.D. 200 and A.D. 325, viz., Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Anatolius, Commodianus, Victorinus, and Peter of Alexandria, can be adduced, who give this name to Sunday.HSFD 349.3

    No one of these fathers ever claims for this title any apostolic authority; and it has been already shown that they could not have believed the day to be the Lord’s day by divine appointment. So far, therefore, is the use of this term by these persons as a name for Sunday from conflicting with the statement that Sylvester, by his apostolic authority, established this name as the rightful title of that day, that it shows the act of Sylvester to be exactly suited to the circumstances of the case. Indeed, Nicephorus asserts that Constantine, who considered himself quite as much the head of the church as was the pope, “directed that the day which the Jews considered the first day of the week, and which the Greeks dedicated to the sun, should be called the Lord’s day.” 1Quoted in Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae, fifth edition, vol. iv. p. 603. The circumstances of the case render the statements of Lucius and Nicephorus in the highest degree probable. They certainly do not indicate that the pope would deem such act on his part unnecessary. Take a recent event in papal history as an illustration of this case. Only a few years since, Pius IX. decreed that the virgin Mary was born without sin. This had long been asserted by many distinguished writers in the papal church, but it lacked authority as a dogma of that church until the pope, A.D. 1854, gave it his official sanction. 2McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, vol. iv. p. 506. It was the work of Constantine and of Sylvester in the early part of the fourth century to establish the festival of the sun, to be a day of rest, by the authority of the empire, and to render it a Christian institution by the authority of St. Peter.HSFD 350.1

    The following from Dr. Heylyn, a distinguished member of the Church of England, is worthy of particular attention. In most forcible language, he traces the steps by which the Sunday festival arose to power, contrasting it in this respect with the ancient Sabbath of the Lord; and then, with equal truth and candor, he acknowledges that, as the festival of Sunday was set up by the emperor and the church, the same power can take it down whenever it sees fit. Thus he says:-HSFD 351.1

    “Thus do we see upon what grounds the Lord’s day stands; on custom first, and voluntary consecration of it to religious meetings; that custom countenance by the authority of the church of God, which tacitly approved the same; and finally confirmed and ratified by christian princes throughout their empires. And as the day for rest from labors and restraint from business upon that day, [it] received its greatest strength from the supreme magistrate as long as he retained that power which to him belongs; as after from the canons and decree of councils, the decretals of popes and orders of particular prelates, when the sole managing of ecclesiastical affairs was committed to them.HSFD 352.1

    “I hope it was not so with the former Sabbath, which neither took original from custom, that people being not so forward to give God a day; nor required any countenance or authority from the kings of Israel to confirm and ratify it. The Lord had spoke the word, that he would have one day in seven, precisely the seventh day from the world’s creation, to be a day of rest unto all his people; which said, there was no more to do but gladly to submit and obey his pleasure.... But thus it was not done in our present business. The Lord’s day had no such command that it should be sanctified, but was left plainly to God’s people to pitch on this, or any other, for the public use. And being taken up amongst them and made a day of meeting in the congregation for religious exercises; yet for three hundred years there was neither law to bind them to it, nor any rest from labor or from worldly business required upon it.HSFD 352.2

    “And when it seemed good unto Christian princes, the nursing fathers of God’s church, to lay restraints upon their people, yet at the first they were not general; but only thus that certain men in certain places should lay aside their ordinary and daily works, to attend God’s service in the church; those whose employments were most toilsome and most repugnant to the true nature of a Sabbath, being allowed to follow and pursue their labors because most necessary to the commonwealth.HSFD 352.3

    “And in the following times, when as the prince and prelate, in their several places endeavored to restrain them from that also, which formerly they had permitted, and interdicted almost all kinds of bodily labor upon that day; it was not brought about without much struggling and an opposition of the people; more than a thousand years being past, after Christ’s ascension, before the Lord’s day had attained that state in which now it standeth.... And being brought into that state, wherein now it stands, it doth not stand so firmly and on such sure grounds, but that those powers which raised it up may take it lower if they please, yea take it quite away as unto the time, and settle it on any other day as to them seems best.” 1Hist. Sab. part ii. chap 3. sect. 12.HSFD 352.4

    Constantine’s edict marks a signal change in the history of the Sunday festival. Dr. Heylyn thus testifies:-HSFD 353.1

    “Hitherto have we spoken of the Lord’s day as taken up by the common consent of the church; not instituted or established by any text of Scripture, or edict of emperor, or decree of council.... In that which followeth, we shall find both emperors and councils very frequent in ordering things about this day and the service of it.” 2Hist. Sab. part ii. chap 3. sect. 1.HSFD 353.2

    After his professed conversion to Christianity, Constantine still further exerted his power in behalf of the venerable day of the sun, now happily transformed into the Lord’s day, by the apostolic authority of the Roman bishop. Heylyn thus testifies:-HSFD 353.3

    “So natural a power it is in a Christian prince to order things about religion, that he not only took upon him to command the day, but also to prescribe the service.” 3Id. Ib.HSFD 353.4

    The influence of Constantine powerfully contributed to the aid of those church leaders who were intent upon bringing the forms of pagan worship into the Christian church. Gibbon thus places upon record the motives of these men, and the result of their action:-HSFD 353.5

    “The most respectable bishops had persuaded themselves that the ignorant rustics would more cheerfully renounce the superstition of paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman Empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.” 1Dec. an Fall, chap 28.HSFD 354.1

    The body of nominal Christians, which resulted from this strange union of pagan rites with Christian worship, arrogated to itself the title of catholic church, while the true people of God, who resisted these dangerous innovations, were branded as heretics, and cast out of the church.HSFD 354.2

    It is not strange that the Sabbath should lose ground in such a body, in its struggle with its rival, the festival of the sun. Indeed, after a brief period, the history of the Sabbath will be found only in the almost obliterated records of those whom the Catholic church cast out and stigmatized as heretics. Of the Sabbath in Constantine’s time, Heylyn says:-HSFD 354.3

    “As for the Saturday, that retained its wonted credit in the eastern churches, little inferior to the Lord’s day, if not plainly equal; not as a Sabbath, think not so; but as a day designed unto sacred meetings.” 2Hist. Sab. part ii. chap 3. sect. 5.HSFD 354.4

    There is no doubt that, after the great flood of worldliness which entered the church at the time of Constantine’s pretended conversion, and after all that was done by himself and by Sylvester in behalf of Sunday, the observance of the Sabbath became, with many, only a nominal thing. But the action of the council of Laodicea, to which we shall presently come, proves conclusively that the Sabbath was still observed, not simply as a festival, as Heylyn would have it, but as a day of abstinence from labor, as enjoined in the commandment. The work of Constantine, however, marks an epoch in the history of the Sabbath and of Sunday. Constantine was hostile to the Sabbath, and his influence told powerfully against it with all those who sought worldly advancement. The historian Eusebius was the special friend and eulogist of Constantine. This fact should not be overlooked in weighing his testimony concerning the Sabbath. He speaks of it as follows:-HSFD 354.5

    “They [the patriarchs] did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath, nor do we; neither do we abstain from certain foods, nor regard other injunctions, which Moses subsequently delivered to be observed in types and symbols, because such things as these do not belong to Christians.” 1Eccl. Hist. book i. chap 4.HSFD 355.1

    This testimony shows precisely the views of Constantine and the imperial party relative to the Sabbath. But it does not give the views of Christians as a whole; for we have seen that the Sabbath had been extensively retained up to this point, and we shall soon have occasion to quote other historians, the contemporaries and successors of Eusebius, who record its continued observance. Constantine exerted a controlling influence in the church, and was determined to “have nothing in common with that most hostile rabble of the Jews.” Happy would it have been had his aversion been directed against the festivals of the heathen rather than against the Sabbath of the Lord.HSFD 355.2

    Before Constantine’s time, there is no trace of the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath. On the contrary, we have decisive evidence that Sunday was a day on which ordinary labor was considered lawful and proper. But Constantine, while yet a heathen, commanded that every kind of business excepting agriculture should be laid aside on that day. His law designated the day as a heathen festival, which it actually was. But within four years after its enactment, Constantine had become, not merely a professed convert to the Christian religion, but, in many respects, practically the head of the church, as the course of things at the council of Nice plainly showed. His heathen Sunday law, being unrevoked, was thenceforward enforced in behalf of that day as a Christian festival. This law gave to the Sunday festival, for the first time, something of a Sabbatic character. It was now a rest-day from most kinds of business by the law of the Roman Empire. God’s rest-day was thenceforward more in the way than ever before.HSFD 356.1

    But now we come to a fact of remarkable interest. The way having been prepared, as we have just seen, for the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath, and the circumstances of the case demanding its production, it was at this very point brought forward for the first time. Eusebius, the special friend and flatterer of Constantine, was the man who first put forth this doctrine. In his “Commentary on the Psalms,” he makes the following statement on Psalm 112. respecting the change of the Sabbath:-HSFD 356.2

    “Wherefore as they [the Jews] rejected it [the Sabbath law] the Word [Christ], by the new covenant, TRANSLATED and TRANSFERRED the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave us the symbol of true rest, viz., the saving Lord’s day, the first [day] of the light, in which the Saviour of the world, after all his labors among men, obtained the victory over death, and passed the portals of Heaven, having achieved a work superior to the six-days’ creation.” 1Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms, quoted in Cox’s Sabbath Literature, vol. i. p. 361; also in Justin Edward’s Sabbath Manual, pp. 125-127.HSFD 357.1

    “On this day, which is the first [day] of light and of the true Sun, we assemble, after an interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths, even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world, and do those things according to the spiritual law, which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath.” 2Id.Ib.HSFD 357.2

    “And all things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s day, as more appropriately belonging to it, because it has a precedence and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath.” 3Id.Ib.HSFD 357.3

    Eusebius was under the strongest temptation to please and even to flatter Constantine; for he lived in the sunshine of imperial favor. On one occasion, he went so far as to say that the city of Jerusalem, which Constantine had rebuilt, might be the New Jerusalem predicted in the prophecies! 4Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, 3, 33, quoted in Elliott’s Horae Apocalypticae, vol. i. p. 256. But perhaps there was no act of Eusebius that could give Constantine greater pleasure than his publication of such doctrine as this respecting the change of the Sabbath. The emperor had, by the civil law, given to Sunday a Sabbatical character. Though he had done this while yet a heathen, he found it to his interest to maintain this law after he obtained a commanding position in the Catholic Church. When, therefore, Eusebius came out and declared that Christ transferred the Sabbath to Sunday, a doctrine never before heard of, and in support of which he had no Scripture to quote, Constantine could not but feel in the highest degree flattered that his own Sabbatical edict pertained to the very day which Christ had ordained to be the Sabbath in place of the seventh. It was a convincing proof that Constantine was divinely called to his high position in the Catholic church, that he should thus exactly identify his work with that of Christ, though he had no knowledge at the time that Christ had done any work of the kind.HSFD 357.4

    As no writer before Eusebius had ever hinted at the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath, and as there is the most convincing proof, as we have shown, that before his time Sunday possessed no Sabbatic character, and as Eusebius does not claim that this doctrine is asserted in the Scriptures, nor in any preceding ecclesiastical writer, it is certain that he was the father of the doctrine. This new doctrine was not put forth without some motive. That motive could not have been to bring forward some neglected passages of the Scriptures; for he does not quote a single text in its support. But the circumstances of the case plainly reveal the motive. The new doctrine was exactly adapted to the new order of things introduced by Constantine. It was, moreover, peculiarly suited to flatter that emperor’s pride, the very thing which Eusebius was under the strongest temptation to do.HSFD 358.1

    It is remarkable, however, that Eusebius, in the very connection in which he announces this new doctrine, unwittingly exposes its falsity. He first asserts that Christ changed the Sabbath, and then virtually contradicts it by indicating the real authors of the change. Thus he says:-HSFD 358.2

    “All things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these WE have transferred to the Lord’s day.” 1Cox’s Sabbath Literature, vol. i. p. 361.HSFD 359.1

    The persons here referred to as the authors of this work are the Emperor Constantine, and such bishops as Eusebius, who loved the favor of princes, and Sylvester, the pretended successor of Saint Peter. Two facts refute the assertion of Eusebius that Christ changed the Sabbath: 1. That Eusebius, who lived three hundred years after the alleged change, is the first man who mentions such change; 2. That Eusebius testifies that himself and others made this change, which they could not have done had Christ made it at the beginning. But though the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath was thus announced by Eusebius, it was not seconded by any writer of that age. The doctrine had never been heard of before, and Eusebius had simply his own assertion, but no passage of the Holy Scriptures to offer in its support.HSFD 359.2

    But after Constantine, the Sabbath began to recover strength, at least in the eastern churches. Prof. Stuart, in speaking of the period from Constantine to the council of Laodicea, A.D. 364, says:-HSFD 359.3

    “The practice of it [the keeping of the Sabbath] was continued by Christians who were jealous for the honor of the Mosaic law, and finally because, as we have seen, predominant throughout Christendom. It was supposed at length that the fourth commandment did require the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath (not merely a seventh part of time), and reasoning as Christians of the present day are wont to do, viz., that all which belonged to the ten commandments was immutable and perpetual, the churches in general came gradually to regard the seventh-day Sabbath as altogether sacred.” 1Appendix to Gurney’s History, etc., of the Sabbath, pp. 115, 116.HSFD 359.4

    Prof. Stuart, however, connects with this the statement that Sunday was honored by all parties. But the council of Laodicea struck a heavy blow at this Sabbath-keeping in the eastern church. Thus Mr. James, in addressing the University of Oxford, bears witness:-HSFD 360.1

    “When the practice of keeping Saturday Sabbaths, which had become so general at the close of this century, was evidently gaining ground in the eastern church, a decree was passed in the council held at Laodicea [A.D. 364] ‘that members of the church should not rest from work on the Sabbath like Jews, but should labor on that day, and preferring in honor the Lord’s day, then if it be in their power should rest from work as Christians.’” 2Sermon’s on the Sacraments and Sabbath, pp. 122, 123.HSFD 360.2

    This shows conclusively that at that period the observance of the Sabbath according to the commandment was extensive in the eastern churches. But the Laodicean council, not only forbade the observance of the Sabbath, they even pronounced a curse on those who should obey the fourth commandment! Prynne thus testifies:-HSFD 360.3

    “It is certain that Christ himself, his apostles, and the primitive Christians for some good space of time, did constantly observe the seventh-day Sabbath; ... the evangelists and St. Luke in the Acts ever styling it the Sabbath day ... and making mention of its ... solemnization by the apostles and other Christians, ... it being still solemnized by many Christians after the apostles’ times, even till the council of Laodicea [A.D. 364], as ecclesiastical writers and the twenty-ninth canon of that council testify, which runs thus: 1Quod non oportet Christianos Judaizere et otiare in Sabbato, sed operari in eodem die. Preferentes autem in veneratione Dominicum diem si vacare voluerint, ut Christiani hoc faciat; quod si reperti fuerint Judaizere Anathema sint a Christo. ‘Because Christians ought not to Judaize, and to rest in the Sabbath, but to work in that day (which many did refuse at that time to do). But preferring in honor the Lord’s day (there being then a great controversy among Christians which of these two days ... should have precedency) if they desired to rest they should do this as Christians. Wherefore if they shall be found to Judaize, let them be accursed from Christ.’ ... The seventh-day Sabbath was ... solemnized by Christ, the apostles and primitive Christians, till the Laodicean council did in a manner quite abolish the observation of it.... The council of Laodicea [A. D. 364] ... first settled the observation of the Lord’s day, and prohibited ... the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath under an anathema.” 2Dissertation on the Lord’s-day Sabbath, pp. 33, 34, 41. 1633.HSFD 360.4

    The action of this council did not extirpate the Sabbath from the eastern churches, though it did materially weaken its influence, and cause its observance to become with many only a nominal thing, while it did most effectually enhance the sacredness and the authority of the Sunday festival. That it did not wholly extinguish Sabbath-keeping is thus certified by an old English writer, John Ley:-HSFD 361.1

    “From the apostles’ time until the council of Laodicea, which was about the year 364, the holy observation of the Jews’ Sabbath continued, as may be proved out of many authors; yes, notwithstanding the decree of that council against it.” 3Sunday a Sabbath, p. 163. 1640.HSFD 361.2

    And Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, about A.D. 372, uses this expostulation:-HSFD 361.3

    “With what eyes can you behold the Lord’s day, when you despise the Sabbath? Do you not perceive that they are sisters, and that in slighting the one, you affront the other?” 1Dialogues on the Lord’s day, p. 188; Hessey’s Bampton Lectures, pp. 72, 304, 305.HSFD 361.4

    This testimony is valuable in that it marks the progress of apostasy concerning the Sabbath. The Sunday festival entered the church, not as a divine institution, but as a voluntary observance. Even as late as A.D. 200, Tertullian said that it had only tradition and custom in its support. 2Tertullian’s De Corona, sections 3 and 4.HSFD 362.1

    But in A.D. 372, this human festival had become the sister and equal of that day which God hallowed in the beginning and solemnly commanded in the moral law. How worthy to be called the sister of the Sabbath the Sunday festival actually was, may be judged from what followed. When this self-styled sister had gained an acknowledged position in the family, she expelled the other, and trampled her in the dust. In our days, the Sunday festival claims to be the very day intended in the fourth commandment.HSFD 362.2

    The following testimonies exhibit the authority of church councils in its true light. Jortin is quoted by Cox as saying:-HSFD 362.3

    “In such assemblies, the best and the most moderate men seldom have the ascendant, and they are often led or driven by others who are far inferior to them in good qualities.” 3Sabbath Laws, etc. p. 138.HSFD 362.4

    The same writer gives us Baxter’s opinion of the famous Westminster Assembly. Baxter says:-HSFD 362.5

    “I have lived to see an assembly of ministers, where three or four leading men were so prevalent as to form a confession in the name of the whole party, which had that in it which particular members did disown. And when about a controverted article, one man hath charged me deeply with questioning the words of the church, others, who were at the forming of that article have laid it all on that same man, the rest being loath to strive much against him; and so it was he himself was the church whose authority he so much urged.” 1Sabbath Laws, etc. p. 138.HSFD 362.6

    Such has been the nature of councils in all ages; yet they have ever claimed infallibility, and have largely used that infallibility in the suppression of the Sabbath and the establishment of the festival of Sunday. Of first-day sacredness prior to, and as late as, the time of Chrysostom, Kitto thus testifies:-HSFD 363.1

    “Though in later times we find considerable reference to a sort of consecration of the day, it does not seem at any period of the ancient church to have assumed the form of such an observance as some modern religious communities have contended for. Nor do these writers in any instance pretend to allege any divine command, or even apostolic practice, in support of it ... Chrysostom (A.D. 360) concludes one of his Homilies by dismissing his audience to their respective ordinary occupations.” 2Cyc. Bib. Lit. art. Lord’s Day; Heylyn’s Hist. Sab. part ii. chap 2. sect 7.HSFD 363.2

    It was reserved for modern theologians to discover the divine or apostolic authority for Sunday observance. The ancient doctors of the church were unaware that any such authority existed; and hence they deemed it lawful and proper to engage in usual worldly business on that day when their religious worship was concluded. Thus, Heylyn bears witness concerning St. Chrysostom that heHSFD 363.3

    “Confessed it to be lawful for a man to look unto his worldly business on the Lord’s day, after the congregation was dismissed.” 3Hist. Sab. part ii. chap 3. sect. 9.HSFD 363.4

    St. Jerome, a few years after this, at the opening of the fifth century, in his commendation of the lady Paula, shows his own opinion of Sunday labor. Thus he says:-HSFD 364.1

    “Paula, with the women, as soon as they returned home on the Lord’s day, they sat down severally to their work, and made clothes for themselves and others.” 1Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, p. 234; Hist. Sab. part. ii. chap 3. sect. 7.HSFD 364.2

    Morer justifies this Sunday labor in the following terms:HSFD 364.3

    “If we read they did any work on the Lord’s day, it is to be remembered that this application to their daily tasks was not till their worship was quite over, when they might with innocency enough resume them, because the length of time or the number of hours assigned for piety was not then so well explained as in after ages. The state of the church is vastly different from what it was in those early days. Christians then for some centuries of years were under persecution and poverty; and besides their own wants, they had many of them severe masters who compelled them to work, and made them bestow less time in spiritual matters than they otherwise would. In St. Jerome’s age their condition was better, because Christianity had got into the throne as well as into the empire. Yet for all this, the entire sanctification of the Lord’s day proceeded slowly; and that it was the work of time to bring it to perfection, appears from the several steps the church made in her constitutions, and from the decrees of emperors and other princes, wherein the prohibitions from servile and civil business advanced by degrees from one species to another, till the day had got a considerable figure in the world. Now, therefore, the case being so much altered, the most proper use of citing those old examples is only, in point of doctrine, to show that ordinary work, as being a compliance with providence for the support of natural life, is not sinful even on the Lord’s day, when necessity is loud, and the laws of that church and nation where we live are not against it. This is what the first Christians had to say for themselves, in the works they did on that day. And if those works had been then judged a prophanation of the festival, I dare believe, they would have suffered martyrdom rather than been guilty.” 1Dialogues on the Lord’s Day, pp. 236, 237.HSFD 364.4

    The bishop of Ely thus testifies:-HSFD 365.1

    “In St Jerome’s days, and in the very place where he was residing, the devoutest Christians did ordinarily work upon the Lord’s day, when the service of the church was ended.” 2Treatise of the Sabbath, p. 219.HSFD 365.2

    St. Augustine, the contemporary of Jerome, gives a synopsis of the argument in that age for Sunday observance, in the following words:-HSFD 365.3

    “It appears from the sacred Scriptures, that this day was a solemn one; it was the first day of the age, that is of the existence of our world; in it the elements of the world were formed; on it the angels were created; on it Christ rose also from the dead; on it the Holy Spirit descended from Heaven upon the apostles as manna had done in the wilderness. For these and other such circumstances the Lord’s day is distinguished; and therefore the holy doctors of the church have decreed that all the glory of the Jewish Sabbath is transferred to it. Let us therefore keep the Lord’s day as the ancients were commanded to do the Sabbath.” 3Sabbath Laws, etc. p. 284.HSFD 365.4

    It is to be observed that Augustine does not assign among his reasons for first-day observance, the change of the Sabbath by Christ or his apostles, or that the apostles observed that day, or that John had given it the name of Lord’s day. These modern first-day arguments were unknown to Augustine. He gave the credit of the work, not to Christ or his inspired apostles, but to the holy doctors of the church, who, of their own accord, had transferred the glory of the ancient Sabbath to the venerable day of the sun. The first day of the week was considered in the fifth century the most proper day for giving holy orders, that is, for ordinations, and about the middle of the century, says Heylyn,HSFD 365.5

    “A law [was] made by Leo then Pope of Rome, and generally since taken up in the western church, that they should be conferred upon no day else.” 1Hist. Sab. part ii. chap 4. sect. 8.HSFD 366.1

    According to Dr. Justin Edwards, this same pope made also this decree in behalf of Sunday:-HSFD 366.2

    “WE ORDAIN, according to the true meaning of the Holy Ghost, and of the apostles as thereby directed, that on the sacred day wherein our own integrity was restored, all do rest and cease from labor.” 2Sabbath Manual, p. 123.HSFD 366.3

    Soon after this edict of the pope, the emperor Leo, A.D. 469, put forth the following decree:-HSFD 366.4

    “It is our will and pleasure, that the holy days dedicated to the most high God, should not be spent in sensual recreations, or otherwise prophaned by suits of law, especially the Lord’s day, which we decree to be a venerable day, and therefore free it of all citations, executions, pleadings, and the like avocations. Let not the circus or theater be opened, nor combating with wild beasts be seen on it.... If any will presume to offend in the premises, if he be a military man, let him lose his commission; or if other, let his estate or goods be confiscated.” 3Dialogues on the Lord’s day, p. 259.HSFD 366.5

    And this emperor determined to mend the breach in Constantine’s law, and thus prohibit agriculture on Sunday. So he adds:-HSFD 366.6

    “We command therefore all, as well husbandmen as others, to forbear work on this day of our restoration.” 4Id p. 260.HSFD 366.7

    The holy doctors of the church had by this time very effectually despoiled the Sabbath of its glory, transferring it to the Lord’s day of Pope Sylvester; as Augustine testifies; yet was not Sabbatical observance wholly extinguished even in the Catholic church. The historian Socrates, who wrote about the middle of the fifth century, thus testifies:-HSFD 366.8

    “For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and the inhabitants of Thebais, hold their religious meetings on the Sabbath, but do not participate of the mysteries in the manner usual among Christians in general - for after having eaten and satisfied themselves with food of all kinds, in the evening, making their oblations, they partake of the mysteries.” 1Socrates, book v. chap 22.HSFD 367.1

    As the church of Rome had turned the Sabbath into a fast some two hundred years before this, in order to oppose its observance, it is probable that this was the ancient tradition referred to by Socrates. And Sozomen, the contemporary of Socrates, speaks on the same point as follows:-HSFD 367.2

    “The people of Constantinople, and of several other cities, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the next day; which custom is never observed at Rome, or at Alexandria. There are several cities and villages in Egypt where, contrary to the usages established elsewhere, the people meet together on Sabbath evenings; and although they have dined previously, partake of the mysteries.” 2Sozomen, book vii. chap. 19; Lardner, vol. iv. chap 85. p. 217.HSFD 367.3

    On the statement of these historians, Cox remarks:-HSFD 367.4

    “It was their practice to Sabbatize on Saturday, and to celebrate Sunday as a day of rejoicing and festivity. While, however, in some places a respect was thus generally paid to both of these days, the Judaizing practice of observing Saturday was by the leading churches expressly condemned, and all the doctrines connected with it steadfastly resisted.” - Sabbath Laws, p. 280.HSFD 368.1

    The time had now come, when, as stated by Coleman, the observance of the Sabbath was deemed heretical; and the close of the fifth century witnessed its effectual suppression in the great body of the Catholic church.HSFD 368.2

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