Loading...
Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "undefined".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    January 16, 1896

    “The Papacy. Adopting the Day of the Sun” The Present Truth 12, 3, pp. 35, 36.

    ATJ

    LAST week we saw how, immediately after the apostles were dead, the corruption so heathenism began to be taken into the church, until the services, as the historian says, had the aspect of pagan mysteries.PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.1

    Nor is this all. The worship of the sun was at this time universal. These apostates not being content with so much of the sun worship as appeared in the celebration of the mysteries, adopted the heathen custom of worshipping toward the east. So says Mosheim:—PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.2

    “Before the coming of Christ, all the Eastern nations performed divine worship with their faces turned to that part of the heavens where the sun displays his rising beams. This custom was founded upon a general opinion that God, whose essence they looked upon to be light, and whom they considered as being circumscribed within certain limits, dwell in that part of the firmament from which He sends forth the sun, the bright image of His benignity and glory. The Christian converts, indeed, rejected this gross error [of supposing that God dwelt in that part of the firmament]; but they retained the ancient and universal custom of worshipping toward the east, which sprang from it. Nor is this custom abolished even in our times, but still prevails in a great number of Christian churches.”PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.3

    The next step in addition to this was the adoption of the day of the sun as a festival day. To such an extent were the forms of sun-worship practised in this apostasy, that before the close of the second century the heathen themselves charged these so-called Christians with worshipping the sun. A presbyter of the church of Carthage, then and now one of the “Church Fathers,” Tertullian, who wrote about A.D. 200, considered it necessary to make a defence of the practice, which he did to the following effect in an address to the rulers and magistrates of the Roman Empire:—PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.4

    “Others, again, certainly with more information and greater verisimilitude, believe that the sun is our god. We shall be counted Persians perhaps, though we do not worship the orb of day painted on a piece of linen cloth, having himself everywhere in his own disk. The idea no doubt has originated from our being known to turn to the east in prayer. But you, many of you, also under pretense sometimes of worshiping the heavenly bodies, move your lips in the direction of the sunrise. In the same way, if we devote Sunday to rejoicing, from a far different reason than sun worship, we have some resemblance to those of you who devote the day of Saturn to ease and luxury, though they too go far away from Jewish ways, of which indeed they are ignorant.”PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.5

    And again in an address to all the heathen he justifies this practice by the argument, in effect, You do the same thing, you originated it too, therefore you have no right to blame us. In his own words his defense is as follows:—PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.6

    “Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is a well-known fact that we pray toward the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity. What then? Do you do less than this? Do not many among you, with an affectation of sometimes worshipping the heavenly bodies, likewise move your lips in the direction of the sunrise? It is you, at all events, who have admitted the sun into the calendar of the week; and you have selected its day, in preference to the preceding day, as the most suitable in the week for either an entire abstinence from the bath, or for its postponement until the evening, or for taking rest and banqueting.”PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.7

    This accommodation was easily made, and all this practice was easily justified, by the perverse-minded teachers, in the perversion of such scriptures as, “The Lord God is a sun and shield” (Psalm 84:11); and “Unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings.”PTUK January 16, 1896, page 35.8

    As this custom spread, and through it such disciples were multiplied, the ambition of the Bishop of Rome grew apace. It was in honour of the day of the sun that there was manifested the first attempt of the bishop of Rome to compel the obedience of all other bishops, and the fact that this attempt was made in such a cause, at the very time when these pretended Christians were openly accused by the heathen of worshipping the sun, is strongly suggestive.PTUK January 16, 1896, page 36.1

    From Rome there came now another addition to the sun-worshipping apostasy. The first Christians being mostly Jews, continued to celebrate the Passover in remembrance of the death of Christ, the true Passover; and this was continued among those who from among the Gentiles had turned to Christ. Accordingly, the celebration was always on the passover day,—the fourteenth of the first month. Rome, however, and from her all the West, adopted the day of the sun as the day of this celebration.PTUK January 16, 1896, page 36.2

    According to the Eastern custom, the celebration, being on the fourteenth day of the month, would of course fall on different days of the week as the years revolved. The rule of Rome was that the celebration must always be on a Sunday—the Sunday nearest to the fourteenth day of the first month of the Jewish year. And if the fourteenth day of that month should itself be a Sunday, then the celebration was not to be held on that day, but upon the next Sunday. One reason of this was not only to be as like the heathen as possible, but to be as unlike the Jews as possible; this, in order not only to facilitate the “conversion” of the heathen by conforming to their customs, but also by pandering to their spirit of contempt and hatred of the Jews. It was upon this point that the bishop of Rome made his first open attempt at absolutism.PTUK January 16, 1896, page 36.3

    We know not precisely when this began, but it was practised in Rome as early as the time of Sixtus I, who was bishop of Rome A.D. 119-128. The practice was promoted by his successors, and Anicetus, who was bishop of Rome A.D. 157-168, “would neither conform to that [Eastern] custom himself nor suffer any under his jurisdiction to conform to it, obliging them to celebrate that solemnity on the Sunday next following the fourteenth of the moon.” In A.D. 160, Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, made a journey to Rome to consult with Anicetus about this question, though nothing special came of the consultation. Victor, who was Bishop of Rome A.D. 192-202, likewise proposed to oblige only those under his jurisdiction to conform to the practice of Rome; but he asserted jurisdiction over all, and therefore presumed to command all.PTUK January 16, 1896, page 36.4

    “Accordingly, after having taken the advice of some foreign bishops,” says Mosheim, “he wrote an imperious letter to the Asiatic prelates commanding them to imitate the example of the Western Christians with respect to the time of celebrating the festival of Easter. The Asiatics answered this lordly requisition by the pen of Polycrates, bishop of Ephesus, who declared in their name, with great spirit and resolution, that they would by no means depart in this manner from the custom handed down to them by their ancestors. Upon this the thunder of excommunication began to roar. Victor, exasperated by this resolute answer of the Asiatic bishops, broke communion with them, pronounced them unworthy of the name of his brethren, and excluded them from all fellowship with the church of Rome.”PTUK January 16, 1896, page 36.5

    In view of these things it will readily be seen that between paganism and this kind of Christianity it soon became difficult to distinguish, and the third century only went to make any distinction still more difficult to be discerned.PTUK January 16, 1896, page 36.6

    A. T. JONES.

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents