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    October 16, 1884

    “The ‘Teaching of the Apostles’” The Signs of the Times, 10, 39.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Last week we found that “evidence” from this document in favor of Sunday-keeping proves to be no evidence at all, being nothing but a stupid forgery that is of itself indefinite. We wish to call the reader’s attention still further to chapter fourteen of the “Teaching,” in order to prove our statement made last week, that there is nothing in the passage which requires the insertion of the word “day.” For this purpose we once more quote the chapter:-SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.1

    “Coming together on the Lord’s day break bread and give thanks, confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. And let no one who has a dispute with this fellow approach with you until they be reconciled, lest your sacrifice be profane, for this is the sacrifice spoken of by the Lord: In every place and time bring to me a clean sacrifice, for I am a great king said the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.”SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.2

    Now if this document is to be accepted as embodying the correct teaching of the apostles, it must be accepted as a whole. As soon as we discriminate against any portion, as being incorrect, we throw discredit upon the whole. If the above references is to be taken as proof that the apostles observed the first day of the week, and thus mark out our duty for us, it also proves just as conclusively that they partook of the communion every Sunday, and that all Christians should do likewise. The fact that those who laud the “Teaching” the most highly do not follow its injunction in this respect, is proved that they do not attach any real value at all to the document. They will follow it just so far as it seems to support their preconceived opinion; and they find it very convenient to have even a forgery to which to appeal in support of the practices which they are determined to follow.SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.3

    It will be asked, “If you throw out the term ‘Lord’s day,’ what word or words should be supplied to make the sense complete?” Read the passage once more carefully, and you will see. Of what does it treat? Of the Lord’s Supper, and that alone. And what is there in connection with that ordinance, of which it would be proper to say to any individual, “You must not approach it”? The table. And the Greek word for table agrees exactly with the adjective kuriakeen. Now read again: “Coming together to the Lord’s table, break bread and give thanks, confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. And let no one who has a dispute with his fellow approach [the Lord’s table] with you until they be reconciled.” This makes the passage consistent with itself, and also in harmony with the real teaching of the apostles.SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.4

    Thus much for the “Lord’s day” evidence. It has vanished into nothingness. Having shown this conclusively, we will now state that even if the “Teaching” did contain the expression “Lord’s day,” and that many times repeated, and even if it expressly stated that Sunday was the Lord’s day, and contained a positive command for its observance, it would have no effect whatever on seventh-day keepers, for the simple reason that such a command would conflict with the Bible. We will also say that we are very much surprised at the modesty of those who made the translation (?) from which we have quoted. It is a marvel to us why they did not make the “Teaching” state positively that the first day of the week is the Lord’s day, and should be secretly kept. Such testimony as that would have had great weight with many, and could have been used very effectively to deceive the wary. If we are going to commit a forgery, we would do it in such a manner that it would count for as much as possible.SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.5

    And now as to the authenticity of the document in question. Its surroundings and companionship are all against it. First, it was found in the Library of the Monastery of the Most Holy Sepulchre, in Constantinople. Not exactly on Catholic ground, but on that of a relative so near of kin as to merit the title of sister rather than a daughter of the mother of harlots. A section for chapter eight will serve to show the proclivities of the unknown writer of this now famous document. It is as follows:“And let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second day of the week and the fifth, but do you fast on the fourth and on the Friday.” Now here is a plain command, and we are waiting to see how many of those who are almost willing to swear by the “Teaching” will obey it. As yet we have seen no indication of any such design on the part of any one. Nobody seems to have a special interest in this portion of the precious relic. And this again proves our statement that nobody really believes that the “Teaching” carries with it any weight of authority. It simply gives the modern Athenians something new to talk about, and a new chance to exercise their wits in finding excuses for not obeying the commandment of the Lord. It would be impossible to convince the religious world that they ought to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays; if such a thing were attempted, they would immediately ask for Scripture proof. And yet there is more reason for fasting regularly on those days, or even for keeping them holy, than there is for keeping Sunday. If we wish, we could show that the seventh day was regarded as the Sabbath by the one who wrote the “Teaching,” but it is not worth the while; for even it would not make a seventh-day keepers one whit more confident in their position. We do not depend upon the words of a man, but upon those of God himself, and his Son Jesus Christ.SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.6

    Nor does the supposed fact that the so-called “Teaching of the Apostles” is a product of the second century, add much to its value. The mystery of iniquity had begun its work of opposition to God, even while Paul was living (see 2 Thessalonians 2:3-7); and Peter warned the brethren that there should be false teachers among them, who privily would bring in damnable heresies. 2 Peter 2:1. History bears record to the fulfillment of this prophecy. Mosheim, the learned church historian, after speaking of the mystical interpretations of the Bible, which prevailed quite largely even in the second century, says:-SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.7

    “To this great error of the Christians may be added another, not indeed of equal extent, but a pernicious one, and productive of many evils. The Platonists and Pythagoreans deemed it not only lawful but commendable to deceive and to lie, for the sake of truth in piety. [!!] The Jews living in Egypt learned from them this sentiment, as appears from many proofs. And from both, this vice early spread to Christians. Of this no one will doubt who calls to mind the numerous forgeries of books under the names of eminent men, the Sibylline verses, and other similar trash, a large mass of which appeared in this and the following centuries. I do not say that the Orthodox Christians support all the books of this character; on the contrary, it is probable that the greater part of them originated from the founders of the Gnostic sects. Yet that the Christians who were free from heterodox views were not wholly free from this fault, is too clear to be denied.”-“Ecclesiastical History,” Book I, Century II., Part II., chap. III., section 15.SITI October 16, 1884, page 617.8

    Thus it appears that they who place their confidence in a certain book, simply because it was written early in the Christian era, are depending upon something that is even worse than a blind guide. For even though the book contains nothing positively false, how much spiritual instruction can we expect to gain from the writings of one who will lie for the sake of “truth in piety”? This practice grew more common in the latter centuries, and finally culminated in the establishment of the papacy, with all its abominable practices. Some of these forged documents contained the most errant nonsense, and well deserved the title which Dr. Mosheim has given to them,-“trash.” Others were only slightly tinged with error.SITI October 16, 1884, page 618.1

    The reason for these forgeries is easily seen. Obscure persons, in order to secure recognition for their productions, would credit them to some well-known and highly-esteemed person. Many of these documents, as has been said, contained nothing seriously wrong. The weak productions, which, if it had not been for the famous names appended to them, would have sunk into oblivion centuries ago. The “Teaching of the Apostles” is one of these. It is for the most part a poor paraphrase of Scripture precepts, with some human additions, modeled as nearly as possible after the style the Scriptures. The writer was no doubt an inoffensive sort of person, with no original ideas except a few vagaries, and whose worst fault consisted in labeling his platitudes the “Teaching of the Apostles.” There have been far abler exponents of the apostles’ doctrine and practice, who were a great deal more modest than he. Whether this little pamphlet was accepted as genuine at the time it was written, we have no means of knowing; it is not probable that it was by any; yet without doubt there were people then as well as now who were more willing to take their religion at second-hand than to search for themselves at the fountain head.SITI October 16, 1884, page 618.2

    Next week we shall consider farther early writings in general, and the right of the “Teaching” to claim respectability, in view of the company in which was found. E. J. W.SITI October 16, 1884, page 618.3

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