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    July 8, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. The Church Uses Civil Power to Enforce Dogmas” The Present Truth 13, 27, pp. 420-422.


    THE church was fully conscious of her loss of the power of God before she sought the power of the State. Had she not been, she never would have made any overtures to the imperial authority, nor have received with favour any advances from it. There is a power that belongs with the Gospel of Christ, and is inseparable from the truth of the Gospel; that is, the power of God. In fact, the Gospel is but the manifestation of that power; for the Gospel “is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” Romans 1:16.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.1

    As long, therefore, as any order or organisation of people professing the Gospel of Christ maintains in sincerity the principle of that Gospel, so long the power of God will be with them, and they will have no need of any other power to make their influence felt for good wherever known. But just as soon as any person or association professing the Gospel loses the spirit of it, so soon the power is gone also. Then and only then, does such an organisation seek for another kind of power to supply the place of that which is lost.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.2

    Thus was it with the church at this time. She had fallen, deplorably fallen, from the purity and the truth, and therefore from the power, of the Gospel. And having lost the power of God and of godliness, she greedily grasped for the power of the State and of ungodliness. And to secure laws by which she might enforce her discipline and dogmas upon those whom she had lost the power either to convince or to persuade, was the definite purpose which the bishopric had in view when it struck that bargain with Constantine, and lent him the influence of the church in his imperial aspirations.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.3

    Jesus Christ had declared, “My kingdom is not of this world,” but the bishops had conceived the idea of establishing the kingdom of the Lord on earth by alliance with the State. Thus they would have a government of God, or a theocracy. And now that they had secured the alliance of Church and State, they persuaded themselves that the kingdom of God was come. But they did not suppose for a moment that the Lord Himself would come and conduct the affairs of this kingdom in person. They themselves were to be the representatives of God upon the earth, and the theocracy thus established was to be ruled by the Lord through them.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.4

    The falsity of this theory of the bishops of the fourth century has been clearly seen by but one of the church historians, that is, Neander. And this, as well as the scheme which the bishops had in mind, has been better described by him than by all the others put together. The design of the bishops with respect to the civil power is seen in the following statement:—PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.5

    “There had in fact arisen in the church ... a false theocratical theory, ... originating not in the essence of the Gospel, but in the confusion of the religious constitutions of the Old and New Testaments, which ... brought along with it an unchristian opposition of the spiritual to the secular power, and which might easily result in the formation of a sacerdotal State, subordinating the secular to itself in a false and outward way.”PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.6

    That which they had in mind when they joined their interests to Constantine’s, was to use the power which through him they would thus secure, to carry into effect in the State and by governmental authority their theocratical project. The State was not only to be subordinate to the church, but was to be the servant of the church to assist in bringing all the world into the new kingdom of God. The bishops were the channel through which the will of God was to be made known to the State. Therefore the views of the bishops were to be to the government the expression of the will of God, and whatever laws the bishopric might deem necessary to make the principles of their theocracy effective, it was their purpose to secure. Says Neander:—PTUK July 8, 1897, page 420.7

    “This theocratical theory was already the prevailing one in the time of Constantine; and ... the bishops voluntarily made themselves dependent on him by their disputes, and by their determination to make use of the power of the State for the furtherance of their aims.”PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.1


    AS we saw in last week’s paper, the church had become filled with a mass of people who had no respect for religious exercises, and now it became necessary to use the power of the State to assist in preserving respect for church discipline. As the church-members had not religion enough to lead them to do what they professed was their duty to do, the services of the State had to be enlisted to assist them in doing what they professed to believe it was right to do. In other words, as only worldly and selfish interests had been appealed to in bringing them to membership in the church, and as they therefore had no conscience in the matter, the services of the State were employed as aids to conscience, or rather to supply the lack of conscience.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.2

    Accordingly, one of the first, if not the very first, of the laws secured by the bishops in behalf of the church, was enacted, as it is supposed, about A.D. 314, ordering that on Friday and on Sunday “there should be a suspension of business at the courts and in other civil offices, so that the day might be devoted with less interruption to the purposes of devotion.” (Neander.)PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.3

    To justify this, the specious plea was presented that when the courts and public offices were open and regularly conducted by the State on these church days, the members were hindered from attending to their religious exercises. It was further argued that if the State kept its offices open, and conducted the public business on those days, as the church-members could not conduct the public business and attend to church services both, they could not well hold public offices; and that, therefore, the State was in fact discriminating against the church, and was hindering rather than helping the progress of the kingdom of God.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.4

    This was simply to confess that their Christianity was altogether earthly, sensual, and selfish. It was to confess that there was not enough virtue in their profession of religion to pay them for professing it; and they must needs have the State pay them for professing it. This was in fact in harmony with the whole system of which they were a part. They had been paid by the State in the first place to become professors of the new religion, and it was but consistent for them to ask the State to continue to pay them for the continued profession of it. This was consistent with the system there established; but it was totally inconsistent with every idea of true religion. Any religion that is not of sufficient value in itself to pay men for professing it, is not worth professing, much less is it worth supporting by the State. In genuine Christianity there is a virtue and a value which make it of more worth to him who professes it than all that the whole world can afford—yea, of more worth than life itself.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.5


    THIS, however, was but the beginning. The State had become an instrument in the hands of the church, and she was determined to use it for all it was worth.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.6

    One of the first aims of the apostate church was the exaltation of Sunday as the chief sacred day. And no sooner had the Catholic Church made herself sure of the recognition and support of the State, than she secured from the emperor an edict setting apart Sunday especially to the purposes of devotion. As the sun was the chief deity of the pagans, and as the forms of sun-worship had been so fully adopted by the apostate church, it was an easy task to secure from the sun-loving and church-courting Constantine, a law establishing the observance of the day of the sun as a holy day. Accordingly, March 7, A.D. 321, Constantine issued his famous Sunday edict, which reads as follows:—PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.7

    “Constantine, Emperor Augustus, to Helpidius: On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations, the bounty of heaven should be lost. (Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time.)PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.8

    The title which is given to the day by Constantine in the edict, is venerabili die solis—venerable day of the Sunday. This was the pagan religious title of the day, and to every heathen was suggestive of the religious character which attached to the day as the one especially devoted to the sun and its worship.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.9

    It was by virtue of his office and authority as Pontifex Maximus, or supreme pontiff of the Roman religion, and not as emperor, that the day was set apart to this use; because it was the sole prerogative of the Pontifex Maximus to appoint holy days. As Duruy says in his “History of Rome:”—PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.10

    A law of the year 321 ordered tribunals, shops, and workshops to be closed on the day of the sun, and he [Constantine] sent to the legions to be recited upon that day, a form of prayer which could have been employed by a worshipper of Mithra, of Serapis, or of Apollo, quite as well as by a Christian believer. This was the official sanction of the old custom of addressing a prayer to the rising sun. In determining what days should be regarded as holy, and in the composition of a prayer for national use, Constantine exercised one of the rights belonging to him as Pontifex Maximus; and it caused no surprise that he should do this.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.11

    The Council of Nice a few years later, in A.D. 325, gave another impetus to the Sunday movement. It decided that the Roman custom of celebrating Easter on Sunday only should he followed through-out the whole empire. The council issued a letter to the churches, in which is the following passage on this subject:—PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.12

    The question having been considered relative to the most holy day of Easter, it was determined by common consent that it would be proper that all should celebrate it on one and the same day everywhere.... And in the first place it seemed very unsuitable in the celebration of this sacred feast, that we should follow the custom of the Jews; a people who having imbrued their hands in a most heinous outrage, and thus polluted their souls, are deservedly blind.... Let us then have nothing in common with that most hostile people the Jews.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.13

    But to sum up matters briefly, it was determined by common consent that the most holy festival of Easter should be solemnised on one and the same day; for in such a hallowed solemnity any difference is unseemly, and it is more commendable to adopt that opinion in which there will be no intermixture of strange error, or deviation from what is right. These things therefore being time. ordered, do you gladly receive this heavenly and truly Divine command: for whatever is done in the sacred assemblies of the bishops is referable to the Divine will.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.14

    This throws much light upon the next move that was made, as these things were made the basis of further action by the church, as we shall see in further papers.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 421.15

    At every step in the course of the apostasy, at every step taken in adopting the forms of sun-worship, and against the adoption and the observance of Sunday itself, there had been constant protest by all real Christians. Those who remained faithful to Christ and to the truth of the pure word of God, observed the Sabbath of the Lord according to the commandment, and according to the word of God, which sets forth the Sabbath as the sign by which the Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, is distinguished from all other gods. These accordingly protested against every phase and form of sun-worship. Others compromised, especially in the East, by observing both Sabbath and Sunday. But in the West, under Roman influences and under the leadership of the church and the bishopric of Rome, Sunday alone was adopted and observed. A. T. JONES.PTUK July 8, 1897, page 422.1

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