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    CONSTANTINE’S SECOND SUNDAY LAW

    It is due to the reader that I give a translation of Constantine’s second Sunday edict, and of the interpretation. Realizing that there are difficulties in these old Latin documents, I procured a translation from the professors of Basel University. I will give their translation as they gave it, in German:-OGSO 50.1

    “Wie esals höchst unwürdig erscheint, den Tag der Sonne, an sich feierlich und ehrwürdig, zu Zankreden und leidigen Parteistreitigkeiten zu verwenden, so ist es lieb und werth, an diesem Tag das allerwünschenswertheste auszuführen. Deshalb soll allen gestattet sein, an diesen festlichen Tage frei und los zu lassen, und niemand soll an Verhandlungen darüber verhindert werden.OGSO 50.2

    Auslegung. Obgleich wir befohlen haben, dass am heiligen Herrntage alle Fragen um mein und dein und sonstige Rechtsforderungen ruhen sollen, verbieten wir doch keineswegs frei und los zu lassen und gestatten zugleich durch diese Verordnung die Verhandlugen hierüber in Ausführung zu brigen.”OGSO 50.3

    Following is its translation into English:-OGSO 50.4

    “As it appears most unfitting to employ the day of the sun, in itself solemn and venerable, for controversies or noxious party strifes, so it is agreeable and fitting to carry out on this day that which is most of all desirable. Therefore all should be permitted on this festival day to set free and let loose slaves, and nobody should be hindered in transactions pertaining thereto.OGSO 50.5

    Interpretation: Although we have commanded that on the holy day of the Lord all questions concerning mine and thine, and all other law claims, should rest, we by no means forbid to set free and release slaves; and at the same time permit by this ordinance to carry out transactions pertaining thereto.”OGSO 51.1

    But it has been assumed with much confidence that the claim that the Papacy changed the Sabbath is unfounded, even admitting that there was no law for resting on Sunday before that of Constantine; for the Papacy did not exist until after that law was made, and therefore the law antedated the Papacy.OGSO 51.2

    As far as the Sunday-sabbath is concerned, this assumption does not help it at all, unless its friends would value it more highly from the hands of Paganism than from the Papacy. But the statement is open to two grave objections. It was Constantine himself who laid the foundation of the Papacy. Bower minutely details the order of the hierarchy, its divisions, and the orders of its officers, as established by Constantine, making it an ecclesiastical government closely modeled after the civil. Although the exarchs and metropolitan bishops were over all the bishops in their dioceses and provinces, there was no one bishop over all. Yet it was declared by the Council of Nicæa that the primacy should rest in the bishop of Rome, in honor of that city. The title was then an empty one, except in the honor of the name; but it became fruitful both of dignity and power. The bishop of Rome soon became the representative of the faith of the church. To be in harmony with Rome was to be orthodox; disagreement with Rome was heresy. But the bishop of Rome had to be governed by the councils. Constantine also made the bishop a civil magistrate, and allowed the church to obtain possessions of lands. Indeed, Stanley called the bishop of Rome “the chief Christian magistrate,” and the emperor made his decisions as irreversible as if given by himself.OGSO 51.3

    A certain writer well observed that Constantine would have proved himself a noble ruler if he had rested with the acts of toleration of Christianity; but he followed this up with acts of intolerance against all Christians but those who happened to enjoy his favor, who composed that party which could best serve the interests of the empire. This party, of course, was represented by the bishop of Rome; for it would have been absurd to think of best serving the empire by conferring the primacy on any bishop but that of the imperial city. It was Constantine who convened the Council of Nicæa, where the famous creed of the church was formed. Thus was laid the foundation of the Papacy, or Papal hierarchy.OGSO 52.1

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