Page images



"Destitute, afflicted, tormented; they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." Heb. 11:37, 38.

ormation days, for many believers in the Reformed doctrines, and among these were Sabbath-keeping Christians:


"Even most prominent men, as the princes of Lichtenstein, held to the observance of the true Sabbath. When persecution finally scattered them, the seeds of truth must have been sown by them in the different portions of the Continent which they visited. . . . We have found them [Sabbath keepers] in Bohemia. They were also known in Silesia and Poland. Likewise they were in Holland and northern Germany. . . . There were at this time Sabbath keepers in France, . . . ‘among whom were M. de la Roque, who wrote in defense of the Sabbath against Bossuet, Catholic bishop of Meaux.' That Sabbatarians again appeared in England by the time of the Reformation, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (A. D. 1533-1603), Dr. Chambers testifies in his Cyclopedia [art. 'Sabbath']."-Andrews and Conradi, "History of the Sabbath," pp. 649, 650.

In this century also, Sabbath keepers appeared in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. In 1554 King Gustavus Vasa, of Sweden, addressed a letter of remonstrance "to the common people in Finland," because so many were turning to keep the seventh day.

Seventeenth Century

There was much discussion in England over the authority for Sunday observance. When other church festivals were ignored, as Easter, King Charles I wanted to know why Sunday should be kept. He wrote:

"It will not be found in Scripture where Saturday is discharged to be kept, or turned into the Sunday; wherefore it must be the church's authority that changed the one and instituted the other; therefore my opinion is that those who will not keep this feast [Easter] may as well return to the observation of Saturday, and refuse the weekly Sunday."— Cox, "Sabbath Laws," p. 333.

It was during this time that the idea first obtained of enforcing Sunday obligation by the fourth commandment and calling it the Sabbath. It was argued that any "one day in seven was what the commandment meant. Of this argument, John Milton, the statesman-poet, wrote:


"It is impossible to extort such a sense from the words of the commandment; seeing that the reason for which the command itself was originally given, namely, as a memorial of God's having rested from

the creation of the world, cannot be transferred from the seventh day to the first; nor can any new motive be substituted in its place, whether the resurrection of our Lord or any other, without the sanction of a divine commandment.”—“Prose Works" (Bohn), pp. 70, 71.

Again Milton wrote, in a manuscript which his publishers at the time feared to print:

"If we under the gospel are to regulate the time of our public worship by the prescriptions of the decalogue, it will surely be far safer to observe the seventh day, according to the express commandment of God, than on the authority of mere human conjecture to adopt the first."- Cox, “Sabbath Literature," Vol. II, p. 54.

While kings and poets and ecclesiastics discussed, here and there believers began to follow the plain Word of God and Christ's example in Sabbath keeping.

"Loved Not Their Lives unto the Death"

In 1618 John Traske and his wife, of London, were condemned for keeping the Sabbath of the Lord, the man being whipped from Westminster to the old Fleet Prison, near Ludgate Circus. Both were imprisoned. Mr. Traske recanted under the pressure, after a year, but Mrs. Traske, a gifted school-teacher, was given grace to hold out for sixteen years,— for a time in Maiden Lane prison, and then in the Gate House, by Westminster,- dying in prison for the word of the Lord. An estimable woman she was, says one old chronicler, save for this "whimsy" of hers, that she would keep the seventh day. All that she asked of men, on her prison deathbed, was that she might be buried "in the fields."

By 1661 Sabbath keepers in London had further increased. In that year John James was minister to a considerable congregation, meeting in East London, off the Whitechapel Road. As part of the stern proceedings against dissenting sects after the restoration of the monarchy, he was arrested and condemned to death on "Tyburn Tree." His wife knelt at the feet of King Charles II as he came out of St. James's Palace one day, and pleaded for her husband's life; but the king scornfully rejected her plea, and said that the man should hang. Bogue says:

"For once the king remembered his promise, and Mr. James was sent to join the noble army of martyrs."—"History of Dissenters," Vol. I, p. 155.

Nothing daunted, the number of Sabbath keepers increased. In a letter by Edward Stennet (between 1668 and 1670), it is stated.

"Here in England are about nine or ten churches that keep the Sabbath, besides many scattered disciples, who have been eminently preserved in this tottering day, when many once eminent churches have been shattered in pieces."-Cox, "Sabbath Literature," Vol. I, p. 268.

Francis Bampfield was formerly an influential minister of the Church of England, and prebendary of Exeter Cathedral, but later pastor of a Sabbath-keeping congregation meeting in the Pinners Hall, off Broad Street, near the Bank of England. Calamy said of him:

"He was one of the most celebrated preachers in the west of England, and extremely admired by his hearers, till he fell into the Sabbatarian notion, of which he was a zealous asserter."-"Non-Conformist Memorial," Vol. II, p. 152.

He was arrested while in the pulpit preaching, and in 1683 died of hardships in Newgate prison, for the Sabbath of the Lord. An old writer says that his body was followed to burial by "a very great company of factious and schismatical people;" in other words, dissenters from the state church.

Thomas Bampfield, his brother, Speaker of the House of Parliament at one time, under Cromwell, published a book in defense of the Sabbath of the Lord. In fact, many published the truth in this manner, and doctors of divinity and even bishops wrote replies.

"Sabbatarian Baptists," these English witnesses to God's Sabbath were first called in those times, and then "Seventh Day Baptists." In 1664 Stephen Mumford, from one of these London congregations, was sent over to New England. He settled in Rhode Island, where the Baptist pioneer of religious liberty, Roger Williams, had founded his colony. In 1671 the first Sabbatarian church in America was formed in Rhode Island. Evidently this movement created a stir; for the re

port went over to England that the Rhode Island colony did not keep the "Sabbath" meaning Sunday. Roger Williams wrote to his friends in England denying the report, but calling attention to the fact that there was no Scripture for "abolishing the seventh day," and adding:

"You know yourselves do not keep the Sabbath, that is the seventh day."-"Letters of Roger Williams," Vol. VI, p. 346 (Narragansett Club Publications).

Through the following century numbers of Seventh Day Baptist churches were founded in America.*

Sabbath keepers were springing up also on the continent of Europe, in Bohemia, Moravia, Transylvania, and Russia, where here and there Bible believers saw that tradition had made void one of the commandments of God. Then, as the events at the end of the long period of papal supremacy had moved Bible students to the earnest study of the prophecies, and as the predicted signs of the near approach of Christ's coming began to appear, there arose the great advent awakening in the earlier decades of the nineteenth century.

The prophecies regarding the work of the Papacy in seeking to change the law of God began to be understood, and it was seen that the last message of the everlasting gospel was a call to turn from human traditions to the New Testament standard "the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Rev. 14: 12. Then began the great movement for Sabbath reform and the proclamation of Christ's second coming, which has given rise to the Seventh-day Adventist people,

[ocr errors]

In connection with this topic of Sabbath observance in colonial America, it is of interest to note that Count Zinzendorf, the leader of the Moravian missionary movement, was a believer in the sanctity of the Sabbath of God's appointment. In his life, by Bishop Spangenberg, it is stated that the Sabbath question was discussed by Zinzendorf with the Moravians, on his visit to Pennsylvania in 1741. The record states:

"As a special circumstance it is to be remarked that he determined, with the church in Bethlehem, to celebrate the seventh day as a rest day. The matter was previously fully gone over in the church council, with consideration of all the reasons for and against it, when the unanimous agreement was reached to observe the day Sabbatically... The Count had already long held the seventh day of the week in special honor."- Zinzendorf's "Leben, band 5, pp. 1421, 1422.

The Bethlehem congregation evidently did not follow the practice long. "But as for himself," says Spangenberg, "with his house, he adhered firmly to this aforementioned practice until his end." Id., p. 1437.

« PreviousContinue »