Facts of Faith


Old And New Church Members

The church at this time consisted of two widely different kinds of church members: 1. The old class, with their devoted leaders, had accepted Christianity in the primitive way, by genuine conversion and separation from the world, suffering for Christ and His unpopular truth. This class lived mostly in the country and in out-of-the-way places. 2. The new converts lived mainly in the large cities, and had come in through a mass movement, following the crowd in what was most popular, attracted by the hopes of temporal gain or honor, or they had been forced in by the secular arm. These were devoid of any personal Christian experience, but constituting the majority, they elected bishops of their own kind. FAFA 115.2

The elections of bishops were attended with secret corruption and bloody violence, which was only too natural for that kind of “Christians.” Edward Gibbon says of these elections: FAFA 115.3

“While one of the candidates boasted the honours of his family, a second allured his judges by the delicacies of a plentiful table, and a third, more guilty than his rivals, offered to share the plunder of the church among the accomplices of his sacrilegious hopes.” — “Decline and Fall,” chap. 20, par. 22. FAFA 115.4

Rev. H. H. Milman says: FAFA 115.5

“Even within the Church itself, the distribution of the superior dignities became an object of fatal ambition and strife. The streets of Alexandria and of Constantinople were deluged with blood by the partisans of rival bishops.” — “History of Christianity,” Book 3, chap. 5, par. 2, p. 410. New York: 1881. FAFA 115.6

Schaff declares that “many are elected on account of their badness, to prevent the mischief they would otherwise do.” — “History of the Christian Church,” Vol. III, Sec. 49, par. 2, note 5, p. 240. Even the sanctity of the church was not respected by the fighting parties. Milman, speaking of the installation of a bishop at Constantinople, says: FAFA 115.7

“In the morning, Philip [the prefect of the East] appeared in his car, with Macedonius by his side in the pontifical attire; he drove directly to the church, but the soldiers were obliged to hew their way through the dense and resisting crowd to the altar. Macedonius passed over the murdered bodies (three thousand are said to have fallen) to the throne of Christian prelate.” — “History of Christianity,” Vol. XI, p. 426. New York: 1870. Socrates (“Ecclesiastical History,” Bk. II, chap. 17, p. 96) gives the number slain as 3150. FAFA 116.1

Can we wonder at the lack of spiritual insight and sound judgment of such bishops when they met at their councils to formulate the creed of Christendom? They decreed in favor of image worship, purgatory, prayers for the dead, veneration of relies, and many other heathen customs, persecuting all who would not fall in line with their mongrel customs. At the Council of Laodicea, A. D. 364, they anathematized Sabbath-keepers in the following way: FAFA 116.2

“Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be Anathema from Christ.” — Canon XXIX, “Index Canonum,” John Fulton, D. D., LL. D., p. 259. FAFA 116.3

That the Christians were then keeping the Sabbath we see from Canon XVI of the same council, in which they decreed: FAFA 116.4

“The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath Day, with the other Scriptures.” — Id., p. 255. FAFA 116.5

Dr. Heylyn also declares that the Christians were keeping the Sabbath at that time: FAFA 116.6

“Nor was this only the particular will of those two and thirty Prelates, there assembled; it was the practice generally of the Easterne Churches; and of some churches of the west.... For in the Church of Millaine [Milan]; ... it seems the Saturday was held in a farre esteeme.... Not that the Easterne Churches, or any of the rest which observed that day, were inclined to Iudaisme [Judaism]; but that they came together on the Sabbath day, to worship Iesus [Jesus] Christ the Lord of the Sabbath.” — “History of the Sabbath” (original spelling retained), Part 2, par. 5, pp. 73, 74. London: 1636. FAFA 116.7

The true Christians paid very little attention to the anathema of the bishops, for they continued to keep the true Sabbath, as the following quotations show: FAFA 117.1

“From the apostles’ time until the council of Laodicea, which was about the year 364, the holy observation of the Jews’ Sabbath continued, as may be proved out of many authors; yea, notwithstanding the decree of the council against it.” — “Sunday a Sabbath,” John Ley, p. 163. London: 1640.

That the Sabbath was kept, “notwithstanding the decree of the council against it,” is also seen from the fact that Pope Gregory I (A. D. 590-604) wrote against “Roman citizens [who] forbid any work being done on the Sabbath day.” — “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” Second Series, Vol. XIII, p. 13, epist. 1. FAFA 117.2

As late as 791 A. D. Christians kept the Sabbath in Italy. Canon 13 of the council at Friaul states: FAFA 117.3

“Further, when speaking of that Sabbath which the Jews observe, the last day of the week, and which also our peasants observe, He said only Sabbath, and never added unto it, ‘delight,’ or ‘my.”’ - Mansi, 13, 851; Quoted in “History of the Sabbath,” J. N. Andrews, p. 539. 1912. FAFA 117.4

Bishop Hefele summarizes the canon in the following words: FAFA 117.5

“The celebration of Sunday begins with Saturday evening. It is enjoined to keep Sunday and other church festivals. The peasants kept Saturday in many cases.” — “Conciliengesch.,” 3, 720, sec. 404; Quoted in “History of the Sabbath,” Andrews, pp. 539, 540. 1912.