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rest; therefore when the Holy Spirit, in the Christian age, calls the seventh day the rest day, it must infallibly be the day of rest for Christians, the Christian Sabbath.
In the Levitical or sacrificial ordinances of the sanctuary services there were annual sabbaths and feasts, associated with meats and drinks and ceremonial observances. But in appointing these the Lord specifically distinguished between them and the one and only weekly Sabbath, which was from the beginning. "These are the feasts of the Lord,” He said, “beside the Sabbaths of the Lord.” Lev. 23:37, 38.
The annual festivals and sabbaths, like all the ordinances of the Levitical service, were shadows of things to come, and found their fulfilment in the great sacrifice of Calvary. Col. 2:16, 17.
But the Sabbath of the Lord was made blessed and holy by God at the creation, before sin had entered the world, before any sacrificial or shadowy service was instituted to point to a coming Redeemer. It is a fundamental and primary institution, a part of the moral order of God's government for man, the same as the obligations set forth in each of the other commandments.
And Inspiration declares the eternal perpetuity of the blessed Sabbath day in the future home of the saved, when the prophet describes the felicity of the redeemed, as from month to month, and "from one Sabbath to another," all flesh shall come to worship before the Lord. Isa. 66: 23.
Thus we find the seventh-day Sabbath a plant of the heavenly Father's planting, rooted deep in all Holy Scripture, and abiding eternally in the world to come.
Is the First-day Rest an Institution of God's
Planting? In the beginning, the first day was employed by God in the work of creation. Gen. 1:1-5.
Throughout all the Old Testament history it was one of the six working days." Eze. 46: 1.
It was the day of Christ's resurrection; but Inspiration says specifically that “the Sabbath was past” when that "first day of the week” came. Mark 16:1, 2. Inspiration called this first day merely by the ordinary secular name in common business use, with never a suggestion of attaching any sacredness to the day. For some of the disciples it was a day of journeying, in which the risen Christ joined them. Luke 24:13-29. Later He appeared to the other disciples in Jerusalem, gathered not in meeting, but at supper in their common dwelling house. Mark 16: 14.
The only religious meeting recorded as occurring on the first day of the week was that held at Troas. (See Acts 20: 6-13.) The context shows that it was an evening meeting, after the Sabbath,— Saturday night, as we would call it, for the Bible reckoning is from evening to evening. It was the last time the believers were ever to see the apostle's face, and as they lingered after the close of the Sabbath, he held an all-night farewell meeting, breaking bread with the believers, and leaving at daybreak Sunday morning for the eighteen- or twenty-mile journey afoot, across country to Assos. And while he spent the first day traveling afoot, his companions were journeying by boat.
Conybeare and Howson (of the Church of England), in that standard work, “Life and Epistles of St. Paul,” tell the plain fact of the inspired record, save that manifestly they should not have applied the title “Jewish” to God's Sabbath; for it was not the Sabbath of the Jews, but “the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”
“It was the evening which succeeded the Jewish Sabbath. On the Sunday morning the vessel was about to sail.” — Chapter 20, p. 520.
Describing the road between Troas and Assos, they add:
“Strength and peace were surely sought and obtained by the apostle fron. the Redeemer as he pursued his lonely road that Sunday afternoon in spring among the oak woods and the streams of Ida.”- Id., p. 522.
Once again the "first day of the week” is mentioned, in 1 Cor. 16:2. But that scripture says no word of any sacredness of the day or of any religious observance of it. The apostle was gathering a fund for the poor at Jerusalem, and asked every believer to "lay by” something every first day of the week, so that the money would be ready when he came. As Dean Stanley (Church of England) comments:
“There is nothing to prove public assemblies, inasmuch as the phrase tap' avtý (“by himself, at his own house') implies that the collection was to be made individually and in private."
And Neander's Church History says:
“All mentioned here is easily explained, if one simply thinks of the ordinary beginning of the week in secular life.”—Vol. I, p.339 (German ed.).
To meet the emergency of need in Judea, these believers were asked to look over their business affairs at the beginning of each week, until Paul should come, laying aside a gift as God had prospered them.
No Sunday Sacredness in the New Testament
This is the record -- not one suggestion in all the New Testament of Sunday sacredness, to say nothing of precept or commandment of the Lord. The late R. W. Dale, D.D., a leading Congregationalist of England, wrote:
“It is quite clear that, however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath. ... The Sabbath was founded on a specific, divine command. We can plead no such command for the observance of Sunday. . . . There is not a single line in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.”—“The Ten Commandments,” pp. 106, 107.
That religious classic, Smith and Cheetham's “Dictionary of Christian Antiquities,” says that the “notion of a formal substitution" of the first day for the seventh, "and the transference to it, perhaps in a spiritualized form, of the Sabbatical obligation established by the promulgation of the fourth commandment, has no basis whatever, either in Holy Scripture or in Christian antiquity." - Article “Sabbath."
Dr. E. F. Hiscox, author of "The Baptist Manual,” says:
“There was and is a commandment to ‘keep holy the Sabbath day,' but that Sabbath was not Sunday. It will, however, be readily said,
and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week. ... Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament absolutely not."— The New York Examiner, Nov. 16, 1893.
Such declarations by well-known scholars might be multiplied, but it is not necessary. The record is open - any one may see it. There is not a word in the Holy Scripture of any first-day sacredness. The Sunday institution is not a plant of our heavenly Father's planting.
How the Change Came About There has been no change of the Sabbath by divine authority. Men may choose to rest on any other day, but that cannot make such a day God's rest day, His holy Sabbath. One cannot change one's birthday by celebrating another day as such. It is a fact of history that on a certain day of the month one was born. That fact cannot be changed by choosing to celebrate another day as the birthday. Just so it is a fact of divine history that God rested on a given day of the week, and on no other. That made the seventh day His rest day.
It is different from other days in character also, for He blessed it and made it holy. To deny the difference between common days and the holy day is to say that when the great Creator blesses and makes holy, it is a vain performance. That cannot be. It would take away all hope of holiness or salvation for men. The blessing is upon the day, as every soul finds who keeps it by faith.
When men choose to set apart another day than that blessed and sanctified of God, it is plainly a setting up of the humanly appointed time against the divinely appointed time. It is exalting man's sabbath against God's Sabbath. It is man exalting himself "above all that is called God.” 2 Thess. 2:4.
This was what made the Roman Papacy. The apostle Paul wrote that in his day the spirit of lawlessness was already working. He said it would lead to a “falling away” from the