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    ABUSE OF HISTORY TO AID THE SUNDAY

    Sylvester was bishop of Rome during most of the reign of Constantine. He decreed that Sunday should be called the Lord’s day. But this could affect the Church of Rome only; for the bishop of Rome had not at that time attained to any authority whatever above the other bishops. True, while the mystery of iniquity was working, and countless superstitions were being introduced, especially in the African churches, this day was called the Lord’s day before the time of Sylvester; but his order was the first authority for calling it so. And now, in considering another decree from Constantine, I wish to call especial attention to the frauds which have so long been practiced-and are still, not only among Catholics but Protestants as well-concerning the application of this title of Lord’s day. Eusebius (“Life of Constantine”) says:-OGSO 44.1

    “He enjoined on all the subjects of the Roman Empire to observe the Lord’s day as a day of rest.... And since his desire was to teach his whole army zealously to honor the Saviour’s day, which derives its name from light, and from the sun, he freely granted to those who were among them who were partakers of the divine faith, leisure for attendance on the service of the church of God, in order that they might be able, without impediment, to perform their religious worship. With regard to those who were yet ignorant of divine truth, he provided by a second statute that they should appear on each Lord’s day on an open plain, near the city, and there, at a given signal, offer to God with one accord a prayer which they had previously learnt.”-Book 4, chap.18, 19.OGSO 44.2

    It has not been my lot to see the decree concerning the prayer to be recited by his pagan soldiers, though Eusebius gives the form of the prayer, which was well adapted to pagan soldiery!OGSO 45.1

    The following is Chapter 20, Book IV, entire, of Eusebius’s “Life of Constantine” (Bagster, 1845):-OGSO 45.2

    CHAPTER 20.OGSO 45.3

    THE FORM OF PRAYER GIVEN BY CONSTANTINE TO HIS SOLDIERS.OGSO 45.4

    “We acknowledge Thee the only God; we own Thee as our King, and implore thy succor. By thy favor have we gotten the victory; through Thee are we mightier than our enemies. We render thanks for Thy past benefits, and trust Thee for future blessings. Together we pray to Thee, and beseech Thee long to preserve to us, safe and triumphant, our Emperor Constantine and his pious sons.”OGSO 45.5

    “Such was the duty to be performed on Sunday by his troops, and such the prayer they were instructed to offer up to God.”OGSO 45.6

    Nor have I thought it of sufficient consequence to search for it, if indeed it exists, but the reader might easily infer from the words here quoted, that Constantine did really give some order in regard to the Sunday under the title of the Lord’s day, though Eusebius says that it derives its name from the sun. We shall see if he did.OGSO 45.7

    Reference has often been made by many authors to Constantine’s edict concerning the emancipation of slaves on the Lord’s day. Coleman says:-OGSO 45.8

    “No sooner was Constantine established upon the throne, than he began to bestow especial care upon the observance of the Lord’s day. He required his armies to spend the day in devotional exercises. No courts of judicature were to be held on this day; no suits or trials in law prosecuted; but at the same time, works of mercy, such as the emancipation of slaves, were declared lawful.”-Bibliotheca Sacra, vol.1, p. 534OGSO 45.9

    These words of Coleman are not marked with that accuracy that should mark the words of a faithful historian. It was not as soon as he was established upon his throne that he began his work. His victory over Maxentius was in A. D. 312, and his first edict for a partial rest on the sun’s day was in 321. Requiring them to say a prayer, which is contained in a few lines, and contains not a single element of Christian faith, can hardly be said to be requiring them to spend the day in devotional exercises. Neither did he bestow “special care upon the observance of the Lord’s day”-no, not any care whatever. Every reader knows that his edict of March 7, 321, had no reference to the Lord’s day, but to the venerable day of the sun, which had long been known and venerated as the day of the sun by the pagans. If he did indeed say anything in behalf of the Lord’s day, the reader may suppose that it was in his second edict-that which referred to the emancipation of slaves. Again I say, We shall see.OGSO 46.1

    Of this decree I have a copy, together with an “interpretation,” thereof, as found in the Justinian Code. I will give the “interpretation” first, as follows:-OGSO 46.2

    “Interpretatio: Quamvis sancta die Dominica omnes lites ac repetitiones quiescere jusserimus, emancipare tamen ac manumittere minime prohibemus, et de his rebus gesta, confici pari ordinatione permittimus.OGSO 46.3

    “(Cor. Theod., lib. II, Tit. VIII, de Feriis. Lex. I.-Baron. Annal., tome III, p 232.)”OGSO 46.4

    “There!” exclaims the friend of Sunday; “now we have it from the most unquestionable historical data, that Constantine did indeed issue a decree in favor of the Lord’s day by name; for this is his decree, coming to us through high authority. Here are the very words-sancta die Dominica, the Lord’s holy day. This justifies all that Eusebius, Coleman, and the other numerous first-day writers, have said concerning Constantine.”OGSO 46.5

    And is it, then, so great cause of rejoicing that Constantine, who was professedly a pagan at that time, called the Sunday the Lord’s day? One might think that they had found a divine warrant for so calling it. But let us look farther; perhaps the facts may cut off even this morsel of consolation. Fortunately for the truth of history, the original edict of Constantine has been preserved. In the work which now lies before me, immediately before the interpretation copied above, is the edict itself, as follows:-OGSO 47.1

    “Imp. Constantinus Aug. Helpidio.OGSO 47.2

    Sicut indignissimum videbatur, diem Solis, venerationis suae celebrem, altercantibus jurglis et noxiis partium contentionibus occupari, eta gratum ac jocundum est, co die, quae sunt maxime votiva compleri: Atque ideo emancipandi et manumittendi die festo cuncti licentiam habeant, et super his rebus actus non prohibeantur. PP. (I.) V. Non Junii Caralis, Crispo II. et Constantino II. Coss. (A Chr. 321.)”OGSO 47.3

    And thus it is, that that which, in the interpretation, and in the writings of “Christian historians” almost without number, is the “sacred Dominical day,” is, in the original, the very plain, old-fashioned, pagan diem solis! Not upon Baronius, nor the compiler of the Code, nor Justinian, nor altogether of the Dark Ages, does the responsibility of this deception rest most heavily; but upon those professed Protestants of this enlightened age, who perpetuate the deception, and leave the word of God, and take their rule of faith and practice from the words of heathen emperors and the man of sin, the son of perdition. I will notice one more like instance.OGSO 47.4

    Morer was a writer of the Church of England. His book, “Dialogues on the Lord’s Day,” was written to vindicate their forms of church worship, especially the observance of Sunday. On page 257 he undertakes to show “the piety of all ages in this particular, and the care they had to have the Lord’s day kept,” by declaring “the Canons, Decrees, Edicts, and Laws,” in behalf of the day. He proceeds thus:-OGSO 48.1

    “I begin with the Emperor Constantine, who as soon as he had espoused the interest of Christianity, made it his particular business that his subjects should reverence this Festival, and so he issued out this decree: ‘Let all Judges, Citizens, and Tradesmen rest upon the venerable Lord’s day. But for such as live remote in the country,’” etc.OGSO 48.2

    Perhaps the first edict of Constantine was not so well known in Morer’s day as it is in “ours, and his mutilation would not attract much notice. Dishonest as it manifestly is, it is in perfect keeping with “the piety of all ages in this particular,” for the Sunday-sabbath is a fraud at best; it has been constantly upheld by fraud; and nothing but fraud can give it even the appearance of an institution entitled to our respect.OGSO 48.3

    The occasion is worthy of a little reflection. All history attests that Constantine was a devoted worshiper of Apollo, the sun-god. Suppose that he had issued a decree directly in favor of the worship of Apollo, by that name, what would be thought of the historian who, suppressing the name of Apollo, should refer to this decree as evidence that Constantine commanded the worship of the Lord, the true God? One of two things we should have to conclude, namely, that the historian could not distinguish between Apollo and the true God, or else that he had perverted the facts to serve a purpose. But the advocates of Sunday have not scrupled to ascribe to Constantine the honor of bestowing “special care upon the observance of the Lord’s day,” when there is not in existence a word of evidence to justify the assertion; his only care was for the venerable day of the sun-a heathen festival day. Yet not a few Protestant ministers in America gravely assert that Constantine made a law forbidding the desecration of the Christian Sabbath! They treat his language as they do the words of Scripture. They affirm that John alluded to the first day of the week when he said, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day,” though they have never offered even a particle of proof that John, or anybody else in his day, thought of applying that title to the first day of the week.OGSO 48.4

    But the mutilation of history and of the edict of Constantine is but a small matter, compared to what the author of Sunday worship has led its advocates to do in its behalf. From his heathen edict they have struck the venerable day of the sun, which, aside from its object, would be no offense at all, and inserted the Lord’s day in its stead. From the infinitely higher edict, the law of Jehovah himself, they have struck out both the name of the Lawgiver, and the subject of the law. They have canceled the words, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,” and substitutedOGSO 49.1

    4 a day which never was and cannot be the Sabbath-day of the Lord; a day upon which he did not rest from his work, which he never sanctified and blessed, and which he never commanded man to keep.OGSO 49.2

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