A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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ELDER PETER VOGEL’S FIRST AFFIRMATIVE

The former propositions related to the sabbath, the seventh day of the week, this concerns the first. I have shown, at least to my own satisfaction, that the sabbath is abolished; and I am now to prove that the first day of the week has claims upon us, in a religious way, different from and high above that of other days. And this simple matter of fact is to be determined by Biblical evidence. WDUS 107.1

I do not claim that the first day is to be sacredly kept in virtue of the fourth commandment of the decalogue, nor that there is a ‘change’ of the seventh into the first, but that we have a new day and for a new reason. WDUS 107.2

Nor am I to occupy myself with inquiries whether the first day of the week is binding upon worldlings, but simply whether Christians-those who accept Christ in a practical way, as by faith and obedience-are to keep this day. WDUS 107.3

Here I wish to adopt my brother’s language: “It will be well to consider what is the nature of the evidence required to sustain the proposition. For as all have, to some extent, already formed opinions on the subject, some may be satisfied with less proof than ought by right to be given, while others may ask more and of a different hind, than the circumstances justly demand.” WDUS 107.4

In my first paper on this discussion I gave ‘five different ways of ascertaining Bible teaching, and have shown that any one of these, excepting an ‘inference less than probable’ is of sufficient force to form a basis for faith and action. If, therefore, I could only produce a ‘probable inference,’ the present proposition would be affirmatively answered. And if I should rise higher in the scale of proof-as I confidently expect to do-my position will be overwhelmingly strong. WDUS 107.5

The weight of proof to be given will be greatly enhanced when we consider what the circumstances ‘justly demand’. No dispensations could differ more widely than do the Mosaic and the Christian. They are contradistinguished by such terms as ‘law’ and ‘grace’ [Romans 6:14], ‘letter’ and ‘spirit’ [Romans 7:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6], ‘bondage’ and ‘liberty’ [Galatians 5:1]. The Old Dispensation is called ‘letter’ because every requirement and prohibition was written out in letters, i e. fully expressed; the New is called ‘spirit’ because the spirit or principles which might be framed into express laws are as much as possible given to us without an encasing letter. In other words, God has disclosed to us certain general principles to which we are to refer our actions to know whether they will be approved or disapproved. I should like to develop this subject at length, but, on account of limited space, will content myself with the brief unfoldings already made under former propositions. I must, however, assure my brother that this is not ‘innerlightism, which he rightfully abhors, but heaven-ordained New Testamentism. WDUS 107.6

This being the nature of the Christian Dispensation, we rightfully expect that even such cases as cannot be reached by general principles, but where more specific legislation is needed-as in positive institutions-there is as little of the legalistic style as possible. Take, for example, the Lord’s Supper. So far as the existence of the institution is concerned we have express statements; but so far as the frequency of its observance is concerned we are wholly left to inference-to approved precedent. Yet, not only has the church for centuries confidently interpreted these precedents to be of weekly obligation, but I hazard nothing in saying that nearly all of the most eminent Bible students area unit on this question. Let me quote some of them: WDUS 107.7

“At least every Lord’s day.”—Wm. King, Archbishop of Dublin. WDUS 108.1

“Constantly administered every Lord’s day.”—Dr. Scott. WDUS 108.2

“The Lord’s Supper was observed by the first Christians every Lord’s day, nor will this be denied by any man who has candidly investigated the subject. * * * * Weekly communion did not die with the apostles and their contemporaries.”—Dr. Mason. WDUS 108.3

“It is well known that the primitive Christians administered the Eucharist every Lord’s day.”—Doddridge. WDUS 108.4

“In the primitive times it was the custom of many churches to receive the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s day.”—Matthew Henry. WDUS 108.5

“It is well known [that the Lord’s Supper] was observed by the primitive churches every Lord’s day.”—Dr. J. M. Cramp, Pres. Arcadia College. WDUS 108.6

“Every first day of the week.”—Alexander Carson. WDUS 108.7

I might swell this list by such names as Adam Clark, John Wesley and John Calvin. The interested reader may see the subject fully discussed, and the foregoing quotations at length, in The Christian System, by A. Campbell, published by Bosworth, Chase & Hall, of Cincinnati, Ohio. WDUS 108.8

As with the Lord’s Supper, so with the Lord’s day. As an institution it has express recognition, but as to the frequency of observing it-whether annually, monthly, or weekly, and on what day of the week-we have inference and approved precedent. WDUS 108.9

There is another reason besides that of the genius of the Christian Dispensation for finding the frequency of observing these institutions left to precedent and inference rather than precept. That portion of the New Testament-Acts and the Epistles-which appertains more especially to the New Dispensation is of such a cast as to make this course normal. Acts is rather a history of what people did, under apostolic guidance, than a digest of what they were to do, and the Epistles more a correction of errors and abuses than books of precept. WDUS 108.10

With these preliminaries I proceed more directly to the work before me. I shall attempt to prove WDUS 108.11

I. That prophecy predicts a sacred day for this Dispensation. WDUS 108.12

II. That the New Testament Scriptures speak of and recognize such a day as actually existing. WDUS 108.13

III. That this day is a new institution, peculiar to the Christian Dispensation. WDUS 108.14

IV. That this day recurs weekly, and upon the first day of the week. WDUS 108.15

V. That the first day of the week is peculiarly appropriate and the fittest of the seven for this purpose. WDUS 108.16

I will at once proceed to show. WDUS 108.17

I. That prophecy predicts a sacred day in this Dispensation. WDUS 108.18

Under the second proposition I have shown Isaiah 56:1-8 to be applicable to and spoken of the New Dispensation. It speaks of a ‘sabbath’ in this Dispensation for the keeping of which there shall be a blessing upon the people. “For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than that of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in mine house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar: for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” Verses 4-7. WDUS 108.19

We have seen that the sabbath is abolished, hence we know that this prophecy is not to be construed in its most literal sense, and yet, of course, as nearly literal as posssble. Were it not for the fact that we know from other Scriptures that there are now no more ‘burnt-offerings ‘sacrifices’ and ‘altars,’ we would confidently expect them from this prediction. Clearly, then, by ‘burnt-offerings,’ ‘sacrifices’ and ‘altar’ the prophet meant to describe that in the New Dispensation which sustains to it a similar relation that these things did to the Old. The resemblance between the thing named and the thing signified is somewhat like the likeness in our Savior’s parables. It is an illustrative use of words-the unknown being introduced and described by means of the known. In many instances this is a necessary license; for if this course were not admissible, many things concerning the New Dispensation the prophets could not have foretold without giving a full exposition of it. So vivid and impressive is such a figure of speech that we use it in the language of common intercourse. On visiting a foreign nation, for example, and seeing them celebrate their national anniversary, it would be quite within the bounds of propriety to write to our friends at home, saying, ‘To-day is this people’s Fourth of July,’ though that day fell on the bleakest end of December. Their anniversary and ours may differ in as many respects as the first day and the sabbath, yet this would not forbid the use of the figure which clothes the one in the drapery of the other. Indeed, without a difference a figure would be impossible. So in prose it is a pregnant metaphor to call the ‘Lord’s day’ sabbath, as when Christ called Herod a fox; and in poetry it is the beautiful language of passion. WDUS 108.20

II. The New Testament Scriptures recognize the existence of a sacred day in this Dispensation. WDUS 109.1

1. That there is a day set apart for religious exercises seems at least a probable inference from Hebrews 10:25, where Paul insists on ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is.’ This recognizes a set day for gathering together in order to worship; for without such a day one member could not know when the others meet; nor could he be accused of neglect for not meeting with them. But whether this day is Divinely appointed, or only of human selection, is not so clear; yet the probability seems to me greatly to preponderate in favor of Divine appointment, since without such instruction on this point man’s proneness to neglect stated public worship would often work to his spiritual detriment; especially would this be the case with ‘babes’ in Christ. Nor would neglect be deserving of such severe rebuke were the appointment merely human. WDUS 109.2

2. The two following passages are more decisive: WDUS 109.3

(1.) “Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow.” Acts 20:7. WDUS 109.4

(2.) “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” 1 Corinthians 16:2. WDUS 109.5

Under another head I shall look more narrowly into the teachings of these passages. For the present I only call attention to the fact that here are two stated acts of worship performed on a given day, making the day sacred to these acts. WDUS 109.6

3. The fact that there is a sacred day in this Dispensation is placed beyond all reasonable controversy by the apostle John. He says, ‘I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.’ Revelation 1:10. Clear as this passage is in asserting that a day in this Dispensation belongs to the Lord in an especial sense, there are those who would force another construction upon it; namely, that the Lord’s day denotes (1) The Gospel Dispensation, or (2) The Day of Judgment. But neither of these positions can be true. The first would make John seriously tell his cotemporaries that the vision which he had on Patmos took place in the Christian Dispensation, when everyone knew that it could not possibly have been at any other time! Equally incongruous would be the second, for it would date the Seven Epistles in the Day of Judgment and on the isle of Patmos! Besides, the particular expression here used in the Greek (tee kuriakee heemera, the Lordic Day) is not only never applied to the Judgment day, but is also wholly inappropriate for such a use. This the reader will see when we come to look more narrowly into the expression. Moreover, the expression ‘in the Spirit’ [en Pneumati] denotes being inspired or under the Spirit as to His influence. Compare Matthew 22:43. John says, in effect, ‘I was inspired, or under the influence of the Spirit, on the Lord’s day,’ making ‘on the Lord’s day’ designative of time when, fixed and mutually known. Unquestionably, then, the word ‘day’ is here used literally; and John declares that there is a day in this Dispensation pre-eminently the Lord’s. Or, more strictly speaking, he dates his Epistles to the Seven Churches on a day recognized by all Christians as especially the Lord’s. Over this fact Eld. W. and I will have no dispute, for he has already admitted all that I here claim. I have written for the benefit of another class to whom I also wish to carry conviction. WDUS 109.7

The fact that this day is declared to be the Lord’s, proclaims also its nature with reference to man’s relation to his Divine Head. In other words, it does not mean that the Lord does not possess the other days from which this one stands apart-for all days are the Lord’s in that sense-but that man is to regard the day as holy to the Lord. It is a sacred institution. WDUS 109.8

III. The ‘Lord’s day’ is a new institution, peculiar to the present Dispensation. WDUS 110.1

1. It cannot be otherwise, for we have seen that the sabbath, together with all other Jewish days, is abolished. WDUS 110.2

2. This will further appear from the fact, to be hereafter proved, that the Lord’s day falls on the first day of the week. It was an essential part of the sabbath that it be kept on the seventh day of the week, and from evening to evening. Exodus 20:10; Leviticus 23:32. Had it been even transferred from the seventh to the first day that very transfer would have made it a new institution; it would have been eliminating an old element and substituting a new one. WDUS 110.3

3. The Greek expression rendered ‘Lord’s day’ is not composed of two nouns but of an adjective and a noun, and would be more accurately expressed by Lordean or Lordic day. The adjective kuriakee [Lordic or Lordean] was ‘formed by the apostles themselves’ Winer, N. T. Gram. p. 236. To the same effect testify Liddell & Scott. Of the mode of dealing with words in their Lexicon they say “We have always sought to give the earliest authority for its use first. Then, if no change was introduced by later writers, we have left it with that early authority alone.” Pref. p. xx. When we turn to the word kuriakos they give as their ‘first’ citation, and therefore as its ‘earliest authority,’ the New Testament. The question now arises, Why form a new word to express a sacred institution, if the institution itself be not new? Winer says, “Entirely new words and phrases were constructed, mainly by composition and for the most part to meet some sensible want.” Gram. p. 25. What conceivable ‘sensible want’ respecting the sabbath did the Old Testament leave unexpressed? Clearly, this new ‘want’ arose with a new institution. This position receives additional strength from the fact that the only other New Testament use of kuriakos is found in 1 Corinthians 11:20, designating ‘the Lord’s Supper, which is certainly a new institution. WDUS 110.4

4. The meaning of kuriakos, whether the word itself be new or old, leads to the same conclusion, provided it refers to Jesus as the Lord. And that Jesus is referred to I shall presently show. WDUS 110.5

Crosby says, Gram. §315, note b., that the meaning of adjectives terminating in kos is ‘relating to’ that which is denoted by the stem, which in the case in hand is Kurios, Lord. If Kurios refers to the personal appellative bestowed upon Jesus [Acts 2:36], then kuriakos signifies pertaining to Jesus as Lord, hence to his Lordship as having originated in it. With this agree the Lexicons: WDUS 110.6

Kuriakos, of or pertaining to the Lord, i. e., the Messiah, the Lord’s, 1 Corinthians 11:20; Revelation 1:10.”—Greenfield. WDUS 110.7

Kuriakos, pertaining to the Lord, to the Lord Jesus Christ; e. g. kuriakon deipnon, the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 11:20; kuriakee heemera, the Lord’s day, Revelation 1:10.—Act. Thom. §31. Clem. Alex. Strom. 7:10.”—Robinson. WDUS 110.8

Kuriakos, of, belonging to, concerning a lord or master; esp. belonging to the Lord [christ]: hence hee kuriakee, sub. heemera, the Lord’s day, dies dominica, N. T.: to kuriakon, the Lord’s house, Eccl., whence our kyrke, church.”—Liddell & Scott. WDUS 110.9

These authors are quoted in full; and such testimony might be easily multiplied. There is, however, no higher authority than Liddell and Scott. They declare the Lord’s Day to be a day ‘concerning’ or having respect to the Lord,’ belonging to’ Him, and being ‘of’ Him. They leave us, then, in no doubt as to the origin of the day. It is not a day transferred from one Lord to another, but, as Greenfield and Liddell & Scott unite in testifying, ‘of’ the Lord referred to in the passages where it occurs. WDUS 110.10