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    What was the Practice of Christians after the Apostles?

    With a consistent Christian, the testimony and practice of what are called the Christian Fathers, have not authority sufficient to direct him either in devotion or in duty, when their testimony is not supported by the Scriptures. It has, however, been generally alleged, by the advocates of the first day of the week that the united testimony of the earliest Christian writers prove that they observed this day as the Christian Sabbath, to the exclusion of the seventh day. This is the more frequently admitted, on account of so few possessing the means of investigating the subject for themselves, and from the confidence had in the integrity of those who have assorted it. But, for the honor of Christianity, it is to be hoped that this declaration is made more for want of information and consideration than from a thorough knowledge and recollection of what the Fathers have written on the subject. To aid the reader in forming or correcting his opinion on this subject agreeably to facts, we briefly notice the grounds on which the advocates of the first day have erred, in stating that those early Christians kept this day as the Sabbath. As vital piety declined in the church, after the days of the Apostles, outward ceremonies and unscriptural observances were made to supply its place; and under a pretence of doing honor to Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Apostles and Martyrs, a multitude of days were eventually introduced to religious notice, and urged upon the Christians by their teachers. Among others were Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, etc. The first day of the week, or Sunday, on which it was supposed Christ rose from the dead, was urged upon them as a festival in honor of the resurrection, and as such only it appears to have been used for a long time; and it appears not to have been originally intended to supersede the religious regard universally paid by Christians to the weekly Sabbath. Agreeably to this view of the subject, the learned Morer, though an advocate for the first day, states that in St. Jerome’s time, who was born as late as A. D. 544, the Christians, after divine worship on the Lord’s day, followed their daily employment; and St. Jerome represents Paula, a devout lady, with the virgins and widows attending her, after coming home from worship on the Lord’s day, as sitting down to their daily tasks, which consisted in making garments for themselves and others. Chrysostom, Gregory, Augustine, and Jerome, not only connived at but recommended and enjoined this labor upon the Lord’s day, from the consideration that only a small part of the day was occupied in divine worship. The following authorities will shed more light on the subject.BISA 23.1

    Athanasius, A. D. 340, says — “We assemble on Saturday, not that we are infected with Judaism, but only to worship Christ the Lord of the Sabbath.BISA 24.1

    Socrates, an ecclesiastical historian, A. D. 412, says, “Touching the communion there are sundry observations and customs, for almost all the churches throughout the whole world do celebrate and receive the holy mysteries every Sabbath; yet the Egyptians adjoining Alexandria, together with the inhabitants of Thebes, of a tradition, do celebrate the communion on Sunday.” “When the festival meeting throughout every week was come, I mean the Saturday and the Sunday upon which the Christians are wont to meet solemnly in the church,” etc.BISA 24.2

    Eusebius, A. D. 325, as quoted by Dr. Chambers, states that in his time “the Sabbath was observed no less than Sunday.”BISA 25.1

    Gregory expostulates thus — “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 one you affront the other?”BISA 25.2

    Sozomen says — “Most of the churches carefully observed the Sabbath.”BISA 25.3

    Grotius, whose learning and candor eminently qualified him for a witness in this case, observes — “The Christians kept the holy Sabbath, and had their assemblies on that day, in which the law was read to them, which custom remained to the time of the council of Laodicea, about A. D. 355, who then thought meet that the gospel should also be read on that day. These things considered, refute those who pretend that the first day of the week, or Lord’s day, is substituted in the room of the Sabbath.”BISA 25.4

    M. de la Roque, a French Protestant — “It evidently appears, that before any change was introduced, the church religiously observed the Sabbath for many ages; we of consequence are obliged to keep it.”BISA 25.5

    The authors here quoted are resorted to by our opponents, whenever they have occasion for their testimony, and we have never heard their veracity questioned. From their statements it is very evident, that the introduction of the first day of the week to religious notice was the effect of superstition; that it was at first but partially observed, and that by but few as a festival; afterwards by more; and finally by the greater part of professing Christians, who still observed the seventh day as the Sabbath. It was by ecclesiastical councils and imperial decrees, that it finally superseded the Sabbath as a national and church holy day in most Christian countries. — Sab. Vindicator.BISA 25.6

    --------The reader will observe that some of the historical facts found on this, and the preceding page, are repeated in the four following pages. In selecting this matter from different authors, we have found it difficult to avoid some repetition. W.BISA 25.7