The First Day of the Week Not the Sabbath of the Lord


We have now examined the main pillars on which the first-day Sabbath rests; and it is perfectly apparent that there is not a single particle of divine authority for the observance of that day. Hence, its advocates must observe the Sabbath of the Lord, or they must resort to the tradition of the “fathers” for proof of its change. The history of the change will be given in its place. But we now ask, what right had the elders of the Christian church to change the fourth commandment, any more that the elders of the Jewish church had, to change the fifth? FDNS 14.3

The Pharisees pretended that they had a tradition handed down from Moses, which authorized them to change the fifth commandment. The Papist and Protestant Doctors of Divinity pretend that they have a tradition handed down from Christ and the apostles, authorizing them to change the fourth. But if Christ rebuked the Pharisees for holding a damnable heresy, what would he say to the like act on the part of his own professed followers? Matthew 15:3-9. FDNS 15.1

The same fathers which changed the fourth commandment, have also corrupted all the ordinances of the New Testament, and have established purgatory, invocation of saints, the worship of the Virgin Mary and prayers for the dead. FDNS 15.2

The Protestant professes to receive the Bible alone as his standard of faith and practice. The Papist receives the Bible and the tradition of the fathers as his rule. The Protestant cannot prove the change of the Sabbath from his own standard, (the Bible,) therefore he is obliged to adopt that of the Papist, viz., the Bible as explained and corrupted by the fathers. The change of the Sabbath is proved by the Papist as follows:— FDNS 15.3

“Ques. What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday, preferably to the ancient Sabbath which was the Saturday? FDNS 15.4

“Ans. We have for it the authority of the Catholic Church, and apostolic tradition. FDNS 15.5

“Q. Does the Scripture any where command the Sunday to be kept for the Sabbath? FDNS 15.6

“A. The Scripture commands us to hear the Church, [Matthew 18:17; Luke 10:16,] and to hold fast the traditions of the apostles. 2 Thessalonians 2:15. But the Scripture does not in particular mention this change of the Sabbath. John speaks of the Lord’s day; [Revelation 1:10;] but he does not tell us what day of the week this was, much less does he tell us that this day was to take the place of the Sabbath ordained in the commandments. Luke also speaks of the disciples meeting together to break bread on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7. And Paul [1 Corinthians 16:2] orders that on the first day of the week the Corinthians should lay by in store what they designed to bestow in charity on the faithful in Judea; but neither the one nor the other tells us that this first day of the week was to be henceforward the day of worship, and the Christian Sabbath; so that truly, the best authority we have for this, is the testimony and ordinance of the church. And therefore, those who pretend to be so religious of the Sunday, whilst they take no notice of other festivals ordained by the same church authority, show that they act by humor, and not by reason and religion; since Sundays and holy-days all stand upon the same foundation, viz., the ordinance of the church. FDNS 16.1

“Q. What was the reason why the weekly Sabbath was changed from the Saturday to the Sunday? FDNS 16.2

“A. Because our Lord fully accomplished the work of our redemption by rising from the dead on a Sunday, and by sending down the Holy Ghost on a Sunday; as therefore the work of our redemption was a greater work that that of our creation, the primitive church thought the day on which this work was completely finished, was more worthy her religious observation than that in which God rested from the creation, and should be properly called the Lord’s day.”—Catholic Christian Instructed. FDNS 16.3

If further testimony is needed listen to the following:— FDNS 17.1

“Ques. What does God ordain by this commandment? FDNS 17.2

“Ans. He ordains that we sanctify, in a special manner, this day, on which he rested from the labor of creation. FDNS 17.3

“Q. What is this day of rest? FDNS 17.4

“A. The seventh day of the week, or Saturday, for he employed six days in creation, and rested on the seventh. Genesis 2:2; Hebrews 4:1, etc. FDNS 17.5

“Q. Is it then Saturday we should sanctify, in order to obey the ordinance of God? FDNS 17.6

“A. During the old law, Saturday was the day sanctified; but the church instructed by Jesus Christ, and directed by the Spirit of God, has substituted Sunday for Saturday, so we now sanctify the first and not the seventh day. Sunday means, and now is, the day of the Lord. FDNS 17.7

“Q. Had the church power to make such a change? FDNS 17.8

“A. Certainly; since the Spirit of God is her guide, the change is inspired by that Holy Spirit. The uniform, universal, and perpetual tradition of all ages and nations, attest the antiquity of, and consequently the Divine assent to, this change: even the bitterest enemies of God’s church admit and adopt it. FDNS 17.9

“Q. Why did the church make this change? FDNS 17.10

“A. Because Christ rose from the dead upon Sunday, and rested from the great work of redemption; and because, on this day, the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles and on the church.”— Catechism of the Christian Religion. FDNS 17.11

The testimony shows conclusively that the fourth commandment, which the New Testament has never changed, has been corrupted by the Romish church. It was from Rome, as we may here see, that Protestants learned to say that the Sabbath was changed because redemption was greater than creation. Here we will mention some things for special consideration. FDNS 18.1

1. Those who are now paying religious respect to the first day of the week, may possibly be led to examine the reasons for this course, by the following significant fact: The church of Rome undertakes to prove purgatory by the Bible, but acknowledges that Sunday-keeping cannot be proved by it, as she instituted that herself. Those, therefore, who despise the Lord’s Sabbath, and in its stead honor the sabbath of the Romish church, virtually acknowledge that the authority of that church is above the authority of God, and sufficient to change his times and laws. Here is her statement respecting purgatory:— FDNS 18.2

“Question. But what grounds have you to believe that there is any such place as a purgatory, or middle state of souls? FDNS 18.3

“Answer. We have the strongest grounds imaginable from all kind of arguments, from scripture, from perpetual tradition, from the authority and declaration of the church of God, and from reason.” — Catholic Christian Instructed, page 146. FDNS 18.4

Hear the Catholic church once more, while she contrasts purgatory with Sunday-keeping:— FDNS 18.5

“The word of God commandeth the seventh day to be the Sabbath of our Lord, and to be kept holy: you [Protestants] without any precept of scripture, change it to the first day of the week, only authorized by our traditions. Divers English Puritans oppose against this point, that the observation of the first day is proved out of scripture, where it is said the first day of the week. Acts 20:7;1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10. Have they not spun a fair thread in quoting these places? If we should produce no better for purgatory and prayers for the dead, invocation of the saints, and the like, they might have good cause indeed to laugh us to scorn; for where is it written that these were Sabbath-days in which those meetings were kept? Or where is it ordained they should be always observed? Or, which is the sum of all, where is it decreed that the observation of the first day should abrogate or abolish the sanctifying of the seventh day, which God commanded everlastingly to be kept holy? Not one of those is expressed in the written word of God.”— An Antidote, or Treatise of Thirty Controversies. FDNS 18.6

Reader, shall not such facts as the above open your eyes? Have you any better authority for Sunday-keeping than Romish tradition? What think you of that prophecy which foretells that the Pope should speak great words against God, and think to change times and laws? Daniel 7:25. That church who styles her head, “Lord God the Pope,” has here openly testified, that without any authority from Scripture, she has changed the commandments of God. She also declares that of her two children, Purgatory and Sunday-keeping, the former is the most important personage. Cannot that mother judge impartially between two such darlings? FDNS 19.1

2. But perhaps the fathers, as they are called, may be regarded by the reader as the best of authority. We are aware that not a few, who profess to be Bible Christians, rest their Sunday-observance solely upon such evidence. We request the attention of such to the following from Storrs’ Six Sermons. It was written in defense of the author’s views of future punishment; but the remarks are of equal value with respect to the Sabbath question. FDNS 19.2

“It is said, ‘The fathers believed in the endless torments of the wicked.’ In reply, I remark, Our Lord and Master has prohibited my calling any man father. But, if the fathers, as they are called, did believe that doctrine, they learned it from the Bible, or they did not. If they learned it there, so can we. If they did not learn it from the Bible, then their testimony is of no weight. It may have been an error that early got into the church, like many others. Mosheim, in his Church History, tells us, as early as the third century, that the defenders of Christianity, in their controversies, ‘degenerated much from primitive simplicity,’ and that the maxim which asserted the innocence of defending truth by artifice and falsehood, ‘contributed’ to this degeneracy. And he adds:— FDNS 20.1

” ‘This disingenuous and vicious method of surprising their adversaries by artifice, and striking them down, as it were, by lies and fictions, produced, among other disagreeable effects a great number of books, which were falsely attributed to certain great men, in order to give these spurious productions more credit and weight; for as the greater part of mankind are less governed by reason than authority, and prefer in many cases, the decisions of fallible mortals, to the unerring dictates of the Divine Word, the disputants of whom we are speaking, thought they could not serve the truth more effectually than by opposing illustrious names, and respectable authorities, to the attacks of its adversaries.’ FDNS 20.2

“This practice, spoken of by Mosheim, increased as the darker ages rolled on; and through these dark ages, what there are of the writings of the ‘fathers’ have come down to us. It is a truth, also, that the practice of corrupting the simplicity of the apostolic doctrine was commenced much earlier than the third century. Enfield, in his philosophy, says:— “The first witness of Christianity had scarcely left the world when’ this work began. Some of the ‘fathers’ seemed intent upon uniting heathen philosophy with Christianity, and early commenced the practice of clothing the doctrines of religion in an allegorical dress.” — Fourth Sermon. FDNS 21.1

Those who make the “fathers” their rule, would do well to consider the above facts. Every damnable heresy of the Romish church, she proves by those same fathers. Tradition is the unfailing resort of Romanists, to prove their dogmas; indeed, they openly acknowledge that tradition is part of their rule of faith. Protestants claim that they make the Bible their only rule of duty; but, whenever their unscriptural arguments for Sunday-keeping are exposed, they fly for refuge to the fathers. Thus Protestants defend their heresies with the same weapons that the Papists employ to defend theirs. The same fountain head of corruption feeds the several streams of error that flow through both these bodies. FDNS 21.2

3. But, says one, do you not think that it would be safe to believe what those have said who conversed with the apostles, or at least, conversed with some who had conversed with them? If such should tell us that the Sabbath of the Lord was changed, would it not be safe to receive their testimony? We answer, that the holy Scriptures come to us with the divine guarantee that every word therein contained was divinely inspired. The tradition of the elders comes to us without a particle of such testimony. Wherefore if follows that the man who fears God will not reject that which he knows came from heaven, for the sake of following that which directly contradicts it, and which by that fact is proved to have come from the great enemy of divine truth. FDNS 21.3

But does the Bible contain the least intimation that what was written near the days of the apostles is any more sacred than what was written at a later period? Paul told the Thessalonian church that “the mystery of iniquity,” or Romish apostasy, had already begun to work. 2 Thessalonians 2. If Paul was correct, it follows that it is far from being safe to adopt as sacred truth a doctrine which is not found in the New Testament, merely because it is said to have come from some who lived near the days of the apostles. Satan was then busily engaged in nursing in the bosom of the early church, the viper which should ere long infect with deadly poison a great portion of the professed people of God. Did not Paul warn those with whom he parted at Ephesus, that grievous wolves were to enter among them, and that of themselves men were to arise speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them? When any doctrine is brought to us from those who lived near the days of the apostles, it is then proper for us to inquire whether this comes from those who spoke the sentiments of the holy apostles, or whether it comes from those grievous wolves who were to follow after them, and speak perverse things. FDNS 22.1

Is there no way by which we can determine this question? Certainly there is an infallible test. The New Testament contains the precise language of Jesus Christ and the apostles. Now if the fathers speak according to that word, they speak the precious truths of God. But if they speak that which makes void the word of truth, it is a very strong evidence that they belong to that class which Paul notified the church, should arise in their very midst, and speak perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. If the Holy Spirit has given us notice that that false teachers were to arise in the very days of the apostles, should it not serve as a warning to us, that things which purport to come from the successors of the apostles, may, for all that, contain the most deadly poison. FDNS 22.2

4. If it were certain that the early fathers, in their zeal to improve upon the New Testament, changed the fourth commandment, it would only prove that they were of the number of grievous wolves that were to arise. But it by no means follows that the mystery of iniquity was able thus early to change times and laws. The testimony given from Storrs’ Fourth Sermon, evinces clearly that even the fathers themselves do not now come to us with their own words. Their testimony has been corrupted, and many shameless forgeries are palmed off as their genuine testimony. FDNS 23.1

If the reader ever looked into a Romish controversial work, he will there find the very fathers, who are so much relied upon to prove the change of the Sabbath, quoted to prove all the heresies of the anti-christian church. It follows, therefore, that one of two things must be true: either the testimony of the early fathers has been shamefully corrupted, or those so-called early fathers were wolves in sheep’s clothing. FDNS 23.2

5. If the Lord Jesus Christ and his apostles were now on earth, mingling with the men of this generation, as they once mingled with a former generation, we ask, Would it be safe for the men of the third or fourth generation from this to receive as sacred truth all that the fathers of the present generation might transmit to them? Is it not self-evident that unless human nature should undergo a radical change, the men of the following generations would have handed down to them as Christ’s saying, all the vain and foolish sentiments that different partizans might wish to maintain? In the case supposed, we ask, What would be the safety of the coming generations? There is but one answer, and in this all will agree. If this were the age in which the New Testament was written, the safety of the coming generation would be secured only, by faithfully testing, by that sure rule, whatever might be handed down to them as gospel truth from the fathers of the present age. Should they thus rigidly cleave to inspiration, they would be safe; but if they added to that sure word all the fables which Satan would instigate the present fathers to attribute to Christ and the apostles, what would become of them? FDNS 24.1

If the Advent body itself were to furnish the fathers and the saints for the future church, Heaven pity the people that should live hereafter! Reader we entreat you to prize your Bible. It contains all the will of God, and will make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. FDNS 24.2

Those who believe in a change of the Lord’s Sabbath should look at these facts: The Sabbath of the Lord means the Rest-day of the Lord. Six days the Almighty wrought in the work of creation, and the seventh day he rested form all his work. The Sabbath or Rest-day of the Lord, is, therefore, a definite day, which can no more be changed to one of the days upon which God wrought, than the resurrection-day can be changed to one of the days upon which Christ did not rise, or the crucifixion-day be changed to one of the six days of the week upon which Christ was not crucified. Hence it is as impossible to change the Rest-day of the Lord as it is to change the crucifixion-day or the day of the resurrection. FDNS 24.3

Men of God, to whom the Scriptures have been committed, can you longer pervert the commandments of Jehovah and not be guilty of willful transgression? Must it not be exceeding sinful in the sight of Heaven for you to change the Sabbath of the Lord for another day, and then to steal that commandment which guards the holy Sabbath, to enforce the observance of that new day? When the hailstones of Jehovah’s wrath shall sweep away the refuge of lies, [Isaiah 28:17; Revelation 16:21,] how many of the arguments for Sunday-keeping will be left? The Bible thoroughly furnishes the man of God to all good works. Sunday-keeping is not, therefore a good work; for the Scriptures furnish nothing in its favor. Why should you be ready of heart to believe what God has never spoken, and slow of heart to believe his plain testimony? Thus saith the Lord. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God;” “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” J. N. A. FDNS 25.1