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ness 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 Tар' éavт ('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
truth of God, and the full exaltation of the man of sin. 2 Thessalonians 2 The falling away came. As Dr. Killen (Presbyterian), of Ireland, says in the preface to his "Ancient Church: "
"In the interval between the days of the apostles and the conversion of Constantine, the Christian commonwealth changed its aspect. . . . Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions."
In his "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine," Cardinal Newman (Roman Catholic) tells how rites and ceremonies were borrowed from paganism:
"Confiding then in the power of Christianity to resist the infection of evil, and to transmute the very instruments and appendages of demon worship to an evangelical use, . . . the rulers of the church from early times were prepared, should the occasion arise, to adopt, or imitate, or sanction the existing rites and customs of the populace, as well as the philosophy of the educated class."- Pages 371, 372.
Thus along with other adaptations came "the venerable day of the sun" (Sunday). It was by gradual process that it supplanted the Sabbath. Sir William Domville wrote:
"Centuries of the Christian era passed away before Sunday was observed by the Christian church as a Sabbath. History does not furnish us with a single proof or indication that it was at any time so observed previous to the Sabbatical edict of Constantine in A. D. 321.”— "Examination of Six Texts," p. 291.
This law of Constantine's was as follows:
"On the venerable day of the sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain sowing or for vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations, the bounty of heaven should be lost. (Given the 7th day of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time.)" - Schaff, "History of the Christian Church," Vol. III, chap. 5, sec. 75.
Commenting on this law, Prof. Hutton Webster, of the University of Nebraska, says:
"This legislation by Constantine probably bore no relation to Christianity; it appears, on the contrary, that the emperor, in his capacity of
Pontifex Maximus, was only adding the day of the sun, the worship of which was then firmly established in the Roman Empire, to the other ferial days of the sacred calendar."
"What began, however, as a pagan ordinance, ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday."-"Rest Days," pp. 122, 270.
Dean Stanley (Church of England) writes:
"The retention of the old pagan name Dies Solis, or Sunday, for the weekly Christian festival, is, in a great measure, owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment with which the first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects, pagan and Christian alike, as the 'venerable day of the sun.""-"History of the Eastern Church," lecture 6, par. 15.
Thus the Sunday institution comes in, marked by its pagan origin, and adapted to ecclesiastical purposes by the church of the "falling away" that grew into the Roman Papacy. To quote again from the Baptist author, Dr. Hiscox:
"Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, when adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism."- New York Examiner, Nov. 16, 1893.
No wonder that with the coming of the latter days, and the proclamation of the message of preparation for Christ's second coming, there should come a call to Christians to follow Christ and Holy Scripture in keeping God's holy Sabbath.
Again the voice of Jesus is heard in protest against traditions that make void the commandment of God.
"Every plant," He says, "which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up." Matt. 15: 13.