The Truth Found

15/21

SUNDAY-KEEPING A HUMAN ORDINANCE

In proof that the early church did not consider the first day sacred, we find, besides the testimony of the New Testament, that early ecclesiastical writers did not consider the keeping of Sunday an institution of divine appointment. In this respect, there is a great difference between early and modern writers. Thus Wm. Tyndale, in the sixteenth century, said it was changed by men to put a difference between Christians and Jews. But as long as it has no sanction in the Bible, it is as if we should worship idols to put a difference between us and the Jews, who were forbidden idolatry in the same law that commanded to keep the Sabbath. TFNOS 30.1

Bishop Cranmer, who was born 1480, said they observed the Sunday according to the judgment or will of the magistrates; which is no better warrant than Daniel would have had to cease to worship God for the king’s order. TFNOS 30.2

Melanethon, who wrote in behalf of the German Reformers, said it was not founded on any apostolic law, but rested solely on tradition; but our Saviour, when on the earth, sharply rebuked those superstitious ones who make void the commandment of God by their tradition. Does not Jesus in his gospel yet speak to us? Are not his words left on record for our instruction? Then let us leave traditions which lead us to transgress the commandment of God. TFNOS 30.3

Eusebius, in the early part of the fourth century, said, “All things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s day [meaning thereby Sunday], as more appropriately belonging to it, because it had a precedence, and is first in rank, and is more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath; meaning thereby the seventh day. Upon this we remark, (1) The seventh day was not and is not the Jewish Sabbath, but the Lord’s Sabbath. (2) God put more honor upon the seventh day than upon the first day. (3) Its sanctity did not depend upon its precedence in the week of days but upon the express act of God, who hallowed the Sabbath, or seventh day. And (4) The keeping of the Sabbath day cannot with safety be made to rest on the will of man to the neglect of the commandment of God. TFNOS 31.1

Sunday-keeping was enforced in the cities of the Roman Empire in A. D. 321, by Constantine, who still permitted labor in the country on that day. 1 But in 538, when the civil power was transferred to the church, and Western Rome came under papal rule, the Council of Orleans prohibited the country labor also. It was not generally observed in the Eastern churches till some time after. TFNOS 31.2

Neander, the learned and justly celebrated historian, says, “The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance; and it was far from the intention of the apostles to establish a divine command in this respect; far from them and the early apostolic church to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday. Perhaps at the end of the second century, a false application of this kind had begun to take place: for men appear by that time to have considered laboring on Sunday as a sin.” TFNOS 31.3

It was not kept in England and Scotland till the thirteenth century, although Christianity was introduced and societies formed in Scotland as early as the fifth century, and in England, it is probable, in the first century. Parliament was held in England on Sunday until the time of Richard II., when, at the instigation of the Roman Church, it was adjourned till the following day, and Sunday-keeping was established by law; and since that time, many Sabbath-keepers have suffered severe persecutions because of their adherence to the Sabbath of the Bible. Laws for the observance of Sunday were, through the influence of the pope of Rome, passed in England before that time, but on account of an aversion to the change on the part of the people, they were not effective. TFNOS 32.1

In America, also, some have been persecuted for keeping the rest-day of the Lord. Many States have laws binding men to keep the Sunday, and some of them are exceedingly unjust and cruel toward the observers of the Sabbath. These are not, at present, generally enforced; but there is a growing disposition manifested to protect this human institution at the expense of the divine; so much so that we have no inducement but the love of God and of his truth, to turn from the traditions of men to the commandment of God at this time. TFNOS 32.2