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History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week

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    “Which came from Heaven to Jerusalem, and was found upon the altar of Saint Simeon, in Golgotha, where Christ was crucified for the sins of the world. The Lord sent down this epistle, which was found upon the altar of Saint Simeon, and after looking upon which, three days and three nights, some men fell upon the earth, imploring mercy of God. And after the third hour, the patriarch arose, and Acharias, the archbishop, and they opened the scroll, and received the holy epistle from God. And when they had taken the same they found this writing therein:-HSFD 386.2

    “‘I am the Lord, who commanded you to observe the holy day of the Lord, and ye have not kept it, and have not repented of your sins, as I have said in my gospel, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” Whereas, I caused to be preached unto you repentance and amendment of life, you did not believe me, I have sent against you the pagans, who have shed your blood on the earth; and yet you have not believed; and, because you did not keep the Lord’s day holy, for a few days you suffered hunger, but soon I gave you fulness, and after that you did still worse again. Once more, it is my will, that no one, from the ninth hour on Saturday until sunrise on Monday, shall do any work except that which is good.HSFD 386.3

    “‘And if any person shall do so, he shall with penance make amends for the same. And if you do not pay obedience to this command, verily, I say unto you, and I swear unto you, by my seat and by my throne, and by the cherubim who watch my holy seat, that I will give you my commands by no other epistle, but I will open the heavens, and for rain I will rain upon you stones, and wood, and hot water, in the night, that no one may take precautions against the same, and that so I may destroy all wicked men.HSFD 386.4

    “‘This do I say unto you; for the Lord’s holy day, you shall die the death, and for the other festivals of my saints which you have not kept: I will send unto you beasts that have the heads of lions, the hair of women, the tails of camels, and they shall be so ravenous that they shall devour your flesh, and you shall long to flee away to the tombs of the dead, and to hide yourselves for fear of the beasts; and I will take away the light of the sun from before your eyes, and will send darkness upon you, that not seeing, you may slay one another, and that I may remove from you my face, and may not show mercy upon you. For I will burn the bodies and the hearts of you, and of all of those who do not keep as the holy day of the Lord.HSFD 387.1

    “‘Hear ye my voice, that so ye may not perish in the land, for the holy day of the Lord. Depart from evil, and show repentance for your sins. For, if you do not do so, even as Sodom and Gomorrah shall you perish. Now, know ye, that your are saved by the prayers of my most holy mother, Mary, and of my most holy angels, who pray for you daily. I have given unto you wheat and wine in abundance, and for the same ye have not obeyed me. For the widows and orphans cry unto you daily, and unto them you show no mercy. The pagans show mercy, but you show none at all. The trees which bear fruit, I will cause to be dried up for your sins; the rivers and the fountains shall not give water.HSFD 387.2

    “‘I gave unto you a law in Mount Sinai, which you have not kept. I gave you a law with mine own hands, which you have not observed. For you I was born into the world, and my festive day ye knew not. Being wicked men, ye have not kept the Lord’s day of my resurrection. By my right hand I swear unto you, that if you do not observe the Lord’s day, and the festivals of my saints, I will send unto you the pagan nations, that they may slay you. And still do you attend to the business of others, and take no consideration of this? For this will I send against you still worse beasts, who shall devour the breasts of your women. I will curse those who on the Lord’s day have wrought evil.HSFD 387.3

    “‘Those who act unjustly towards their brethren, will I curse. Those who judge unrighteously the poor and the orphans upon the earth, will I curse. For me you forsake, and you follow the prince of this world. Give heed to my voice, and you shall have the blessing of mercy. But you cease not from your bad works, nor from the works of the devil. Because you are guilty of perjuries and adulteries, therefore the nations shall surround you, and shall, like beasts, devour you.’” 1Hoveden, vol. ii, pp. 526-528.HSFD 388.1

    That such a document was actually brought into England at this time, and in the manner here described, is so amply attested as to leave no doubt. 2See Matthew Paris’s Historia Major, pp. 200, 201. ed. 1640; Binius’ Councils, ad ann. 1201, vol. iii, pp. 1448, 1449; Wilkins’ Concilia Magnae Britaniae, et Hibernae, vol. i, pp. 510, 511, London, 1737; Sir David Dalrymple’s historical Memorials, pp. 7, 8, ed. 1769; Heyln’s History of the Sabbath, part ii, chap 7, sect. 5; Morer’s Lord’s Day, pp. 288-290; Hessey’s Sunday pp. 90, 321; Gilfillan’s Sabbath, p. 399. Matthew Paris, like Hoveden, was actually a contemporary of Eustace. Hoveden properly belongs to the twelfth century, for he died shortly after the arrival of Eustace with his roll. But Matthew Paris belongs to the thirteenth, as he was but young at the time this roll (A.D. 1201) was brought into England. Both have a high reputation for truthfulness. In speaking of the writers of that century, Mosheim bears the following testimony to the credibility of Matthew Paris:-HSFD 388.2

    “Among the historians, the first place is due to Matthew Paris, a writer of the highest merit, both in point of knowledge and prudence.” 3Maclaine’s Mosheim, cent. xiii, part ii, chap 1, sect. 5.HSFD 388.3

    And Dr. Murdock says of him:-HSFD 389.1

    “He is accounted the best historian of the Middle Ages, learned, independent, honest, and judicious.” 1Murdock’s Mosheim, cent. xiii, part ii, chap 1, sect. 5, note 19.HSFD 389.2

    Matthew Paris relates the return of the abbot Eustachius (as he spells the name) from Normandy, and gives us a copy of the roll which he brought, and an account of its fall from Heaven as related by the abbot himself. He also tells us how the abbot came by it, tracing the history of the roll from the point when the patriarch gathered courage to take it into his hands, till the time when our abbot was commissioned to bring it into England. Thus he says:-HSFD 389.3

    “But when the patriarch and clergy of all the holy land had diligently examined the contents of this epistle, it was decreed in a general deliberation that the epistle should be sent to the judgment of the Roman pontiff, seeing that whatever he decreed to be done, would please all. And when at length the epistle had come to the knowledge of the lord pope, immediately he ordained heralds, who being sent through different parts of the world, preached every where the doctrine of this epistle, the Lord working with them and confirming their words by signs following. Among whom the abbot of Flay, Eustachius by name, a devout and learned man, having entered the kingdom of England did there shine with many miracles. 2Matthew Paris’s Historia Major, p. 201. His words are: “Cum autem l’atriarcha et clerus omnis Terrae sanctae, hunc epistolae tenorem diligenter examinassent; communi omnium deliberatione dectretum est, ut epistola ad judicium Romani Pontificis transmitteretur; quatenus, quicquid ipse agendum dectrevit, placaet universis. Cumque tandem epistola ad domini Papae notitiam pervenisset, continuo praedicatotres ordinavit; qui per diversas mundi partes profecti, praedicaverun ubuque epistolaftenerem; Domino cooperante et sermonem eorum confirmante, sequentibus signis. Inter quos Abbos de Flai nomine Eustachius, vir religiosus et literali scientia eruditis, regnum Angliae agrressus: multis ibidem miraculis corruscavit.” - Library of Harvard College.HSFD 389.4

    Now we know what the abbot was about during the year that he was absent from England. He could not establish first-day sacredness by his first mission to England, for he had no divine warrant it its behalf. He therefore retired from the mission long enough to make known the necessities of the case to the “lord pope.” But when he came the second time he brought the divine mandate for Sunday, and with the commission of the pope, authorizing him to proclaim that mandate to the people, and informing them that it was sent to His Holiness from Jerusalem by those who saw it fall from Heaven. Had Eustace framed this document himself, and then forged a commission from the pope, a few months would have discovered the imposture. But their genuineness was never questioned as is shown by the preservation of this roll by the best historians of that time. We therefore trace the responsibility for this roll directly to the pope of Rome. The statement of the pope that he received it from the hands of those who saw it fall from Heaven is the guaranty given by His Holiness to the people that the roll came from God. The historians then living, who record this transaction, were able to satisfy themselves that Eustace brought the roll from the pope; and they believed the pope’s statement that he had received it form Heaven. It was Innocent III. who filled the office of pope at this time, of whom Bower speaks thus:-HSFD 389.5

    “Innocent was perfectly well qualified to raise the papal power and authority to the highest pitch, and we shall see him improving, with great address, every opportunity that offered to compass that end.” 1History of the Popes, vol. ii, p. 535.HSFD 390.1

    Another eminent authority makes this statement:-HSFD 390.2

    “The external circumstances of his time also furthered Innocent’s views, and enabled him to make his pontificate the most marked in the annals of Rome; the culminating point of the temporal as well as the spiritual supremacy of the Roman See.” 1M’Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia, vol. iv, p. 590.HSFD 391.1

    “His pontificate may be fairly considered to have been the period of the highest power of the Roman See.” 2Id. vol. iv, p. 592.HSFD 391.2

    The dense darkness of the Dark Ages still covered the earth when that pontiff filled the papal throne who raised the papacy to its highest elevation. Two facts worthy of much thought should here be named in connection:-HSFD 391.3

    1. The first act of papal usurpation was by an edict in behalf of Sunday. 3See page 274 of this work.HSFD 391.4

    2. The utmost height of papal usurpation was marked by the pope’s act of furnishing a divine precept for Sunday observance.HSFD 391.5

    The mission of Eustace was attested by miracles which are worthy of perusal by those who believe in first-day sacredness because their fathers thus believed. Here they may learn what was done six centuries since, to fix these ideas in the minds of their fathers. Eustace came to York, in the north of England, and, meeting an honorable reception,HSFD 391.6

    “Preached the word of the Lord, and on the breaking of the Lord’s day and the other festivals, and imposed upon the people penance and gave absolution, upon condition that, in future they would pay due reverence to the Lord’s day and the other festivals of the saints, doing therein no servile work.” 4Hoveden, vol. ii, p. 528.HSFD 391.7

    “Upon this, the people who were dutiful to God at his preaching, vowed before God that, for the future, on the Lord’s day, they would neither buy nor sell any thing, unless, perchance, victuals and drink of wayfarers.” 1Hoveden, vol. ii, p. 528.HSFD 391.8

    The abbot also made provision for the collection of alms for the benefit of the poor, and forbade the use of the churches for the sale of goods, and for the pleading of causes. Upon this, the king interfered as follows:-HSFD 392.1

    “Accordingly, through these and other warnings of this holy man, the enemy of mankind being rendered envious, he put it into the heart of the king and of the princes of darkness to command that all who should observe the before stated doctrines, and more especially all those who had discountenanced the markets on the Lord’s day, should be brought before the king’s court of justice, to make satisfaction as to the observance of the Lord’s day.” 2Id. p. 529.HSFD 392.2

    The markets of the Lord’s day, it seems, were held in the churches, and Eustace was attempting to suppress these when he forbade the sale of goods in the churches. And now to confirm the authority of the roll, and to neutralize the opposition of the king, some very extraordinary prodigies were reported. The roll forbade labor “from the ninth hour (that is 3 P.M.) on Saturday until sunrise on Monday.” Now read what happened to the disobedient:-HSFD 392.3

    “One Saturday, a certain carpenter of Beverly, who, after the ninth hour of the day was, contrary to the wholesome advice of his wife, making a wooden wedge, fell to the earth, being struck with paralysis. A woman also, a weaver, who, after the ninth hour, on Saturday, in her anxiety to finish a part of the web, persisted in so doing fell to the ground, struck with paralysis, and lost her voice. At Rafferton also, a vill belonging to Master Roger Arundel, a man made for himself a loaf and baked it under the ashes, after the ninth hour on Saturday, and ate thereof, and put part of it by till the morning, but when he broke it on the Lord’s day blood started forth therefrom; and he who saw it bore witness, and his testimony is true.HSFD 392.4

    “At Wakefield, also, one Saturday, while a miller was, after the ninth hour, attending to grinding his corn, there suddenly came forth, instead of flour, such a torrent of blood, that the vessel placed beneath was nearly filled with blood, and the mill wheel stood immovable, in spite of the strong rush of the water; and those who beheld it wondered thereat, saying, ‘Spare us, O Lord, spare thy people!’HSFD 393.1

    “Also, in Lincolnshire a woman had prepared some dough, and taking it to the oven after the ninth hour on Saturday, she placed it in the oven, which was then at a very great heat; but when she took it out, she found it raw, on which she again put it into the oven, which was very hot; and, both on the next day, and on Monday, when she supposed that she should find the loaves baked, she found raw dough.HSFD 393.2

    “In the same county also, when a certain woman had prepared her dough, intending to carry it to the oven, her husband said to her, ‘It is Saturday, and it is now past the ninth hour, put it one side till Monday:’ on which the woman, obeying her husband, did as he commanded; and so, having covered over the dough with a linen cloth, on coming the next day to look at the dough, to see whether it had not, in rising, through the yeast that was in it, gone over the sides of the vessel, she found there the loaves ready made by the divine will, and well baked, without any fire of the material of this world. This was a change wrought by the right had of Him on high.” 1Hoveden, vol. ii. pp. 529, 530.HSFD 393.3

    The historian laments that these miracles were lost upon the people, and that they feared the king more than they feared God, and so “like a dog to his vomit, returned to the holding of markets on the Lord’s day.” 2Id. Ib. Sabbath History. Such was the first attempt in England after the apparition of St. Peter, A.D. 1155, to supply divine authority for Sunday observance. “It shows,” as Morer quaintly observes, “how industrious men were in those times to have this great day solemnly observed.” 1Dialogues, etc. p. 290. And Gilfillan, who has occasion to mention the story of the roll from Heaven, has not one word of condemnation for the pious fraud in behalf of Sunday, but he simply speaks of our abbot as “This ardent person.” 2Gilfillan’s Sabbath, p. 399.HSFD 393.4

    Two years after the arrival of Eustace in England with his roll, A.D. 1203, a council was held in Scotland concerning the introduction and establishment of the Lord’s day in that kingdom. 3Binius’s Councils, vol. iii. p. 1448, 1449; Heylyn, part ii. chap 7. sect. 7. The roll that had fallen from Heaven to supply the lack of scriptural testimony in behalf of this day, was admirably adapted to the business of this council, though Dr. Heylyn informs us that the Scotch were so ready to comply with the pope’s wishes that the packet from the court of Heaven and the accompanying miracles were not needed. 4Heylyn, part ii. chap 7. sect. 7. Yet Morer asserts that the packet was actually produced on this occasion:-HSFD 394.1

    “To that end it was again produced and read in a council of Scotland, held under [pope] Innocent III, ... A.D. 1203, in the reign of King William, who ... passed it into a law that Saturday from twelve at noon ought to be accounted holy, and that no man shall deal in such worldly business as on feast days were forbidden. As also that at the tolling of a bell, the people were to be employed in holy actions, going to sermons and the like, and to continue thus until Monday morning, a penalty being laid on those who did the contrary. About the year 1214, which was eleven years after, it was again enacted, in a parliament at Scone, by Alexander III., king of the Scots, that none should fish in any waters, from Saturday after evening prayer, till sunrising on Monday, which was afterward confirmed by King James I. 1Dialogues, etc. pp. 290, 291.HSFD 394.2

    The sacredness of this papal Lord’s day seems to have been more easily established by taking in with it a part of the ancient Sabbath. The work of establishing this institution was everywhere carried steadily forward. Of England we read:-HSFD 395.1

    “In the year 1237, Henry III. being king, and Edmund de Abendon archbishop of Canterbury, a constitution was made, requiring every minister to forbid his parioshners the frequenting of markets on the Lord’s day, and leaving the church where they ought to meet and spend the day in prayer and hearing the word of God. And this on pain of excommunication.” 2Id. p. 291.HSFD 395.2

    Of France we are informed:-HSFD 395.3

    “The council of Lyons sat about the year 1244, and it restrained the people from their ordinary work on the Lord’s day, and other festivals on pain of ecclesiastical censures.”HSFD 395.4

    A.D. 1282. The council of Angeirs in France “forbid millers by water or otherwise to grind their corn from Saturday evening till Sunday evening.” 3Id. p. 275.HSFD 395.5

    Nor were the Spaniards backward in this work:-HSFD 395.6

    A.D. 1322. This year “a synod was called at Valladolid in Castile, and then was ratified what was formerly required, that ‘none should follow husbandry, or exercise himself in any mechanical employment on the Lord’s day, or other holy days, but where it was a work of necessity or charity, of which the minister of the parish was to be judge.’” 4Id. Ib.HSFD 395.7

    The rulers of the church and realm of England were diligent in establishing the sacredness of this day. Yet the following statutes show that they were not aware of any Bible authority for enforcing its observance:-HSFD 395.8

    A.D. 1358. “Istippe, archbishop of Canterbury, with very great concern and zeal, expresses himself thus: ‘We have it from the relation of very credible persons, that in divers places within our province, a very naughty, nay, damnable custom has prevailed, to hold fairs and markets on the Lord’s day.... Wherefore by virtue of canonical obedience, we strictly charge and command your brotherhood, that if you find your people faulty in the premises, you forthwith admonish or cause them to be admonished to refrain going to markets or fairs on the Lord’s day.... And as for such who are obstinate and speak or act against you in this particular, you must endeavor to restrain them by ecclesiastical censures and by all lawful means put a stop to these extravagances.’HSFD 396.1

    “Nor was the civil power silent; for much about that time King Edward made an act that wool should not be shown at the staple on Sundays and other solemn feasts in the year. In the reign of King Henry VI., Dr. Stafford being archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 1444, it was decreed that fairs and markets should no more be kept in churches and church-yards on the Lord’s day, or other festivals, except in time of harvest.” 1Id. pp. 293, 294.HSFD 396.2

    Observe that fairs and markets were held in the churches in England on Sundays as late as 1444! And even later than this such fairs were allowed in harvest time. On the European continent the sacredness of Sunday was persistently urged. The council of Bourges urges its observance as follows:-HSFD 396.3

    A.D. 1532. “The Lord’s day and other festivals were instituted for this purpose, that faithful Christians abstaining from external work, might more freely, and with greater piety devote themselves to God’s worship.” 2Id. p. 279.HSFD 396.4

    They did not seem to be aware of the fact however that when the fear of God is taught by the precepts of men such worship is vain. 1Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:9. The council of Rheims, which sat the next year, made this decree:-HSFD 396.5

    A.D. 1533. “Let the people assemble at their parish churches on the Lord’s day, and other holidays, and be present at mass, sermons and vespers. Let no man on these days give himself to plays or dances, especially during service.” And the historian adds: “In the same year another synod at Tours, ordered the Lord’s day and other holidays to be reverently observed under pain of excommunication” 2Morer, p. 280.HSFD 397.1

    A council which assembled the following year thus frankly confessed the divine origin of the Sabbath, and the human origin of that festival which has supplanted it:-HSFD 397.2

    A.D. 1584. “Let all Christians remember that the seventh day was consecrated by God, and hath been received and observed, not only by the Jews, but by all others who pretend to worship God; though we Christians have changed their Sabbath into the Lord’s day. A day therefore to be kept, by forbearing all worldly business, suits, contracts, carriages, etc., and by sanctifying the rest of mind and body, in the contemplation of God and things divine, we are to do nothing but works of charity, say prayers, and sing psalms.” 3Id. pp. 281, 282.HSFD 397.3

    We have thus traced Sunday observance in the Catholic church down to a period subsequent to the Reformation. That it is an ordinance of man which has usurped the place of the Bible Sabbath is most distinctly confessed by the council last quoted. Yet they endeavor to make amends of their violation of the Sabbath by spending Sunday in charity, prayers, and psalms: a course too often adopted at the present time to excuse the violation of the fourth commandment. Who can read this long list of Sunday laws, not from the “one Law-giver who is able to save and to destroy,” but from popes, emperors, and councils, without adopting the sentiment of Neander: “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance?”HSFD 397.4

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