THE SABBATH AND FIRST-DAY DURING THE FIRST FIVE CENTURIES
Origin of the Sabbath and of the festival of the sun contrasted - Entrance of that festival into the church - The Moderns with the Ancients - The Sabbath observed by the early Christians - Testimony of Morer - Of Twisse - Of Giesler - Of Mosheim - Of Coleman - Of Bishop Tayler - The Sabbath loses ground before the Sunday festival - Several bodies of decided Sabbatarians - Testimony of Brerewood - Constantine's Sunday law - Sunday a day of labor with the primitive church - Constantine's edict a heathen law, and himself at that time a heathen - The bishop of Rome authoritatively confers the name of Lord's day upon Sunday - Heylyn narrates the steps by which Sunday arose to power - A marked change in the history of that institution - Paganism brought into the church - The Sabbath weakened by Constantine's influence - Remarkable facts concerning Eusebius - The Sabbath recovers strength again - The council of Laodicea pronounces a curse upon the Sabbath-keepers - The progress of apostasy marked - Authority of church councils considered - Chrysostom - Jerome - Augustine - Sunday edicts - Testimony of Socrates relative to the Sabbath about the middle of the fifth century - Of Sozomen - Effectual suppression of the Sabbath at the close of the fifth century.
The origin of the Sabbath and of the festival of Sunday is now distinctly understood. When God made the world, he gave to man the Sabbath that he might not forget the Creator of all things. When men apostatized from God, Satan turned them to the worship of the sun, and, as a standing memorial of their veneration for that luminary, caused them to dedicate to his honor the first day of the week. When the elements of apostasy had sufficiently matured in the Christian church, this ancient festival stood forth as a rival to the Sabbath of the Lord. The manner in which it obtained a foothold in the Christian church has been already shown; and many facts which have an important bearing upon the struggle between these rival institutions have also been given. We have, in the preceding chapters, given the statements of the most ancient Christian writers respecting the Sabbath and first-day in the early church. As we now trace the history of these two days during the first five centuries of the Christian era, we shall give the statements of modern church historians, covering the same ground with the early fathers, and shall also quote in continuation of the ancient writers the testimonies of the earliest church historians. The reader can thus discover how nearly the ancients and moderns agree. Of the observance of the Sabbath in the early church, Morer speaks thus:
A learned English first-day writer of the seventeenth century, William Twisse, D. D., thus states the early history of these two days:
That the observance of the Sabbath was not confined to Jewish converts, the learned Giesler explicitly testifies:
The statement of Mosheim may be thought to contradict that of Giesler. Thus he says:
It will be observed that Mosheim does not deny that the Jewish converts observed the Sabbath. He denies that this was done by the Gentile Christians. The proof on which he rests this denial is thus stated by him:
The proposition tobe proved is this: The Gentile Christians did not observe the Sabbath. The proof is found in the following fact: The churches of Bithynia assembled on a stated day for the celebration of divine worship. It is seen therefore that the conclusion is gratuitous, and wholly unauthorized by the testimony.7 But this instance shows the dexterity of Mosheim in drawing inferences, and gives us some insight into the kind of evidence which supports some of these sweeping statements in behalf of Sunday. Who can say that this "stated day" was not the very day enjoined in the fourth commandment? Of the Sabbath and first day in the early ages of the church, Coleman speaks as follows:
This is a most explicit acknowledgment that the Bible Sabbath was long observed by the body of the Christian church. Coleman is a first-day writer, and therefore not likely to state the case too strongly in behalf of the seventh day. He is a modern writer, but we have already proved his statements true out of the ancients. It is true that Coleman speaks also of the first day of the week, yet his subsequent language shows that it was a long while before this became a sacred day. Thus he says:
This fact is made still clearer by the following language, in which this historian admits Sunday to be nothing but a human ordinance:
Coleman does not seem to realize that in making this truthful statement he has directly acknowledged that the ancient Sabbath is still in full force as a divine institution, and that first-day observance is only authorized by the traditions of men. He next relates the manner in which this Sunday festival which had been nourished in the bosom of the church usurped the place of the Lord's Sabbath; a warning to all Christians of the tendency of human institutions, if cherished by the people of God, to destroy those which are divine. Let this important language be carefully pondered. He speaks thus:
Thus is seen the result of cherishing this harmless Sunday festival in the church. It only asked toleration at first; but gaining strength by degrees, it gradually undermined the Sabbath of the Lord, and finally denounced its observance as heretical.
Jeremy Taylor, a distinguished bishop of the Church of England, and a man of great erudition, but a decided opponent of Sabbatic obligation, confirms the testimony of Coleman. He affirms that the Sabbath was observed by the Christians of the first three hundred years, but denies that they did this out of respect to the authority or the law of God. But we have shown from the fathers that those who hallowed the Sabbath did it as an act of obedience to the fourth commandment, and that the decalogue was acknowledged as of perpetual obligation, and as the perfect rule of right. As Bishop T. denies that this was their ground of observance, he should have shown some other, which he has not done. Thus he says:
"The Lord's day did not succeed in the place of the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was wholly abrogated, and the Lord's day was merely an ecclesiastical institution. It was not introduced by virtue of the fourth commandment, because they for almost three hundred years together kept that day which was in that commandment; but they did it also without any opinion of prime obligation, and therefore they did not suppose it moral."12
That such an opinion relative to the obligation of the fourth commandment had gained ground extensively among the leaders of the church, as early at least as the fourth century, and probably in the third, is sufficiently attested by the action of the council of Laodicea, A.D. 364, which anathematized those who should observe the Sabbath, as will be noticed in its place. That this loose view of the morality of the fourth commandment was resisted by many, is shown by the existence of various bodies of steadfast Sabbatarians in that age, whose memory has come down to us; and also by the fact that that council made such a vigorous effort to put down the Sabbath. Coleman has clearly portrayed the gradual depression of the Sabbath, as the first-day festival arose in strength, until Sabbath-keeping became heretical, when, by ecclesiastical authority, the Sabbath was suppressed, and the festival of Sunday became fully established as a new and different institution. The natural consequence of this is seen in the rise of distinct sects, or bodies, who were distinguished for their observance of the seventh day. That they should be denounced as heretical and falsely charged with many errors is not surprising, when we consider that their memory has been handed down to us by their opponents, and that Sabbath-keepers in our own time are not unfrequently treated in this very manner. The first of these ancient Sabbatarian bodies was the Nazarenes. Of these, Morer testifies that,
And Dr. Frances White, lord bishop of Ely, mentions the Nazarenes as one of the ancient bodies of Sabbath-keepers who were condemned by the church leaders for that heresy; and he classes them with heretics as Morer has done.14 Yet the Nazarenes have a peculiar claim to our regard, as being in reality the apostolic church of Jerusalem, and its direct successors. Thus Gibbon testifies:
It is not strange that that church which fled out of Judea at the word of Christ16 should long retain the Sabbath, as it appears that they did, even as late as the fourth century. Morer mentions another class of Sabbath-keepers in the following language:
"About the same time were the Hypsistarii who closed with these as to what concerned the Sabbath, yet would by no means accept circumcision as too plain a testimony of ancient bondage. All these were heretics, and so adjudged to be by the Catholic church. Yet their hypocrisy and industry were such as gained them a considerable footing in the Christian world."17
The bishop of Ely names these also as a body of Sabbath-keepers whose heresy was condemned by the church.18 The learned Joseph Bingham, M. A. gives the following account of them:
"There was another sect which called themselves Hypsistarians, that is, worshipers of the most high God, whom they worshiped as the Jews only in one person. And they observed their Sabbaths and used distinction of meats, clean and unclean, though they did not regard circumcision, as Gregory Nazianzen, whose father was once one of this sect, gives the account of them."19
It must ever be remembered that these people, whom the Catholic church adjudged to be heretics, are not speaking for themselves: their enemies who condemned them have transmitted to posterity all that is known of their history. It would be well if heretics, who meet with little mercy at the hand of ecclesiastical writers, could at least secure the impartial justice of a truthful record.
Another class are thus described by Cox in his elaborate work entitled "Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties:"
"In this way [that is, by presenting the testimony of the Bible on the subject] arose the ancient Sabbatarians, a body it is well known of very considerable importance in respect both to numbers and influence, during the greater part of the third and the early part of the next century,"20
The close of the third century witnessed the Sabbath much weakened in its hold upon the church in general, and the festival of Sunday, although possessed of no divine authority, steadily gaining in strength and in sacredness. The following historical testimony from a member of the English Church, Edward Brerewood, professor in Gresham College, London, gives a good general view of the matter, though the author's anti-Sabbatarian views are mixed with it. He says:
"The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed together with the celebration of the Lord's day by the Christians of the east church above three hundred years after our Saviour's death; and besides that, no other day for more hundreds of years than I spake of before, was known in the church by the name of Sabbath but that: let the collection thereof and conclusion of all be this: The Sabbath of the seventh day as touching the alligations of God's solemn worship to time was ceremonial; that Sabbath was religiously observed in the east church three hundred years and more after our Saviour's passion. That church being the great part of Christendom, and having the apostles' doctrine and example to instruct them, would have restrained it if it had been deadly."21
Such was the case in the eastern churches at the end of the third century; but in such of the western churches as sympathized with the church of Rome, the Sabbath had been treated as a fast from the beginning of that century, to express their opposition toward those who observed it according to the commandment.
In the early part of the fourth century occurred an event which could not have been foreseen, but which threw an immense weight in favor of Sunday into the balances already trembling between the rival institutions, the Sabbath of the Lord and the festival of the sun. This was nothing less than an edict from the throne of the Roman Empire in behalf of "the venerable day of the sun." It was issued by the emperor Constantine in A.D. 321, and is thus expressed:
Of this law, a high authority thus speaks:
Another eminent authority thus states the purport of this law:
Thus the fact is placed beyond all dispute that this decree gave full permission to all kinds of agricultural labor. The following testimony of Mosheim is therefore worthy of strict attention:
What will the advocates of first-day sacredness say to this? They quote Mosheim respecting Sunday observance in the first century - which testimony has been carefully examined in this work26 - and they seem to think that his language in support of first-day sacredness is nearly equal in authority to the language of the New Testament; in fact, they regard it as supplying an important omission in that book. Yet Mosheim states respecting Constantine's Sunday law, promulgated in the fourth century, which restrained merchants and mechanics, but allowed all kinds of agricultural labor on that day, that it caused the day to be "observed with greater solemnity than it had formerly been." It follows, therefore, on Mosheim's own showing, that Sunday, during the first three centuries, was not a day of abstinence from labor in the Christian church. On this point, Bishop Taylor thus testifies:
Morer tells us respecting the first three centuries, that is to say, the period before Constantine, that
And Sir Wm. Domville says:
What these able modern writers set forth as to labor on Sunday before the edict of Constantine was promulgated, we have fully proved in the preceding chapters out of the most ancient ecclesiastical writers. That such an edict could not fail to strengthen the current already strongly set in favor of Sunday, and greatly to weaken the influence of the Sabbath, cannot be doubted. Of this fact, an able writer bears witness:
This extraordinary edict of Constantine caused Sunday to be observed with greater solemnity than it had formerly been. Yet we have the most indubitable proof that this law was a heathen enactment; that it was put forth in favor of Sunday as a heathen institution and not as a Christian festival; and that Constantine himself not only did not possess the character of a Christian, but was at that time in truth a heathen. It is to be observed that Constantine did not designate the day which he commanded men to keep, as Lord's day, Christian Sabbath, or the day of Christ's resurrection; nor does he assign any reason for its observance which would indicate it as a Christian festival. On the contrary, he designates the ancient heathen festival of the sun in language that cannot be mistaken. Dr. Hessey thus sustains this statement:
On this important point, Milman, the learned editor of Gibbon, thus testifies:
And he adds in a subsequent chapter:
On the seventh day of March, Constantine published his edict commanding the observance of that ancient festival of the heathen, the venerable day of the sun. On the following day, March eighth,34 he issued a second decree in every respect worthy of its heathen predecessor.35 The purport of it was this: That if any royal edifice should be struck by lightning, the ancient ceremonies of propitiating the deity should be practiced, and the haruspices were to be consulted to learn the meaning of the awful portent.36 The haruspices were soothsayers who foretold future events by examining the entrails of beasts slaughtered in sacrifice to the gods!37 The statute of the seventh of March enjoining the observance of the venerable day of the sun, and that of the eighth of the same month commanding the consultation of the haruspices, constitute a noble pair of well-matched heathen edicts. That Constantine himself was a heathen at the time these edicts were issued, is shown not only by the nature of the edicts themselves, but by the fact that his nominal conversion to Christianity is placed by Mosheim two years after his Sunday law. Thus he says:
As a heathen, Constantine was the worshiper of Apollo or the sun, a fact that sheds much light upon his edict enjoining men to observe the venerable day of the sun. Thus Gibbon testifies:
His character as a professor of Christianity is thus described:
A few words relative to his character as a man will complete our view of his fitness to legislate for the church. This man, when elevated to the highest place of earthly power, caused his eldest son, Crispus, to be privately murdered, lest the fame of the son should eclipse that of the father. In the same ruin was involved his nephew Licinius, "whose rank was his only crime," and this was followed by the execution "perhaps of a guilty wife."41
Such was the man who elevated Sunday to the throne of the Roman Empire; and such the nature of the institution which he thus elevated. A recent English writer says of Constantine's Sunday law that it "would seem to have been rather to promote heathen than Christian worship." And he shows how this heathen emperor became a Christian, and how this heathen statute became a Christian law. Thus he says:
Thus it is seen that a law, enacted in support of a heathen institution, after a few years came to be considered a Christian ordinance; and Constantine himself, four years after his Sunday edict, was able to control the church, as represented in the general council of Nice, so as to cause the members of that council to establish their annual festival of the passover upon Sunday.43 Paganism had prepared the institution from ancient days, and had now elevated it to supreme power; its work was accomplished.
We have proved that the Sunday festival in the Christian church had no Sabbatical character before the time of Constantine. We have also shown that heathenism, in the person of Constantine, first gave to Sunday its Sabbatical character, and, in the very act of doing it, designated it as a heathen, and not as a Christian, festival, thus establishing a heathen Sabbath. It was now the part of popery authoritatively to effect its transformation into a Christian institution; a work which it was not slow to perform. Sylvester was the bishop of Rome while Constantine was emperor. How faithfully he acted his part in transforming the festival of the sun into a Christian institution is seen in that, by his apostolic authority, he changed the name of the day, giving it the imposing title of LORD'S DAY.44 To Constantine and to Sylvester, therefore, the advocates of first-day observance are greatly indebted. The one elevated it as a heathen festival to the throne of the empire, making it a day of rest from most kinds of business; the other changed it into a Christian institution, giving it the dignified appellation of Lord's day. It is not a sufficient reason for denying that Pope Sylvester, not far from A.D. 325, authoritatively conferred on Sunday the name of Lord's day, to say that one of the fathers, as early as A.D. 200, calls the day by that name, and that some seven different writers, between A.D. 200 and A.D. 325, viz., Tertullian, Origen, Cyprian, Anatolius, Commodianus, Victorinus, and Peter of Alexandria, can be adduced, who give this name to Sunday.
No one of these fathers ever claims for this title any apostolic authority; and it has been already shown that they could not have believed the day to be the Lord's day by divine appointment. So far, therefore, is the use of this term by these persons as a name for Sunday from conflicting with the statement that Sylvester, by his apostolic authority, established this name as the rightful title of that day, that it shows the act of Sylvester to be exactly suited to the circumstances of the case. Indeed, Nicephorus asserts that Constantine, who considered himself quite as much the head of the church as was the pope, "directed that the day which the Jews considered the first day of the week, and which the Greeks dedicated to the sun, should be called the Lord's day."45 The circumstances of the case render the statements of Lucius and Nicephorus in the highest degree probable. They certainly do not indicate that the pope would deem such act on his part unnecessary. Take a recent event in papal history as an illustration of this case. Only a few years since, Pius IX. decreed that the virgin Mary was born without sin. This had long been asserted by many distinguished writers in the papal church, but it lacked authority as a dogma of that church until the pope, A.D. 1854, gave it his official sanction.46 It was the work of Constantine and of Sylvester in the early part of the fourth century to establish the festival of the sun, to be a day of rest, by the authority of the empire, and to render it a Christian institution by the authority of St. Peter.
The following from Dr. Heylyn, a distinguished member of the Church of England, is worthy of particular attention. In most forcible language, he traces the steps by which the Sunday festival arose to power, contrasting it in this respect with the ancient Sabbath of the Lord; and then, with equal truth and candor, he acknowledges that, as the festival of Sunday was set up by the emperor and the church, the same power can take it down whenever it sees fit. Thus he says:
Constantine's edict marks a signal change in the history of the Sunday festival. Dr. Heylyn thus testifies:
After his professed conversion to Christianity, Constantine still further exerted his power in behalf of the venerable day of the sun, now happily transformed into the Lord's day, by the apostolic authority of the Roman bishop. Heylyn thus testifies:
The influence of Constantine powerfully contributed to the aid of those church leaders who were intent upon bringing the forms of pagan worship into the Christian church. Gibbon thus places upon record the motives of these men, and the result of their action:
The body of nominal Christians, which resulted from this strange union of pagan rites with Christian worship, arrogated to itself the title of catholic church, while the true people of God, who resisted these dangerous innovations, were branded as heretics, and cast out of the church.
It is not strange that the Sabbath should lose ground in such a body, in its struggle with its rival, the festival of the sun. Indeed, after a brief period, the history of the Sabbath will be found only in the almost obliterated records of those whom the Catholic church cast out and stigmatized as heretics. Of the Sabbath in Constantine's time, Heylyn says:
There is no doubt that, after the great flood of worldliness which entered the church at the time of Constantine's pretended conversion, and after all that was done by himself and by Sylvester in behalf of Sunday, the observance of the Sabbath became, with many, only a nominal thing. But the action of the council of Laodicea, to which we shall presently come, proves conclusively that the Sabbath was still observed, not simply as a festival, as Heylyn would have it, but as a day of abstinence from labor, as enjoined in the commandment. The work of Constantine, however, marks an epoch in the history of the Sabbath and of Sunday. Constantine was hostile to the Sabbath, and his influence told powerfully against it with all those who sought worldly advancement. The historian Eusebius was the special friend and eulogist of Constantine. This fact should not be overlooked in weighing his testimony concerning the Sabbath. He speaks of it as follows:
This testimony shows precisely the views of Constantine and the imperial party relative to the Sabbath. But it does not give the views of Christians as a whole; for we have seen that the Sabbath had been extensively retained up to this point, and we shall soon have occasion to quote other historians, the contemporaries and successors of Eusebius, who record its continued observance. Constantine exerted a controlling influence in the church, and was determined to "have nothing in common with that most hostile rabble of the Jews." Happy would it have been had his aversion been directed against the festivals of the heathen rather than against the Sabbath of the Lord.
Before Constantine's time, there is no trace of the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath. On the contrary, we have decisive evidence that Sunday was a day on which ordinary labor was considered lawful and proper. But Constantine, while yet a heathen, commanded that every kind of business excepting agriculture should be laid aside on that day. His law designated the day as a heathen festival, which it actually was. But within four years after its enactment, Constantine had become, not merely a professed convert to the Christian religion, but, in many respects, practically the head of the church, as the course of things at the council of Nice plainly showed. His heathen Sunday law, being unrevoked, was thenceforward enforced in behalf of that day as a Christian festival. This law gave to the Sunday festival, for the first time, something of a Sabbatic character. It was now a rest-day from most kinds of business by the law of the Roman Empire. God's rest-day was thenceforward more in the way than ever before.
But now we come to a fact of remarkable interest. The way having been prepared, as we have just seen, for the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath, and the circumstances of the case demanding its production, it was at this very point brought forward for the first time. Eusebius, the special friend and flatterer of Constantine, was the man who first put forth this doctrine. In his "Commentary on the Psalms," he makes the following statement on Psalm xcii. respecting the change of the Sabbath:
Eusebius was under the strongest temptation to please and even to flatter Constantine; for he lived in the sunshine of imperial favor. On one occasion, he went so far as to say that the city of Jerusalem, which Constantine had rebuilt, might be the New Jerusalem predicted in the prophecies!56 But perhaps there was no act of Eusebius that could give Constantine greater pleasure than his publication of such doctrine as this respecting the change of the Sabbath. The emperor had, by the civil law, given to Sunday a Sabbatical character. Though he had done this while yet a heathen, he found it to his interest to maintain this law after he obtained a commanding position in the Catholic Church. When, therefore, Eusebius came out and declared that Christ transferred the Sabbath to Sunday, a doctrine never before heard of, and in support of which he had no Scripture to quote, Constantine could not but feel in the highest degree flattered that his own Sabbatical edict pertained to the very day which Christ had ordained to be the Sabbath in place of the seventh. It was a convincing proof that Constantine was divinely called to his high position in the Catholic church, that he should thus exactly identify his work with that of Christ, though he had no knowledge at the time that Christ had done any work of the kind.
As no writer before Eusebius had ever hinted at the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath, and as there is the most convincing proof, as we have shown, that before his time Sunday possessed no Sabbatic character, and as Eusebius does not claim that this doctrine is asserted in the Scriptures, nor in any preceding ecclesiastical writer, it is certain that he was the father of the doctrine. This new doctrine was not put forth without some motive. That motive could not have been to bring forward some neglected passages of the Scriptures; for he does not quote a single text in its support. But the circumstances of the case plainly reveal the motive. The new doctrine was exactly adapted to the new order of things introduced by Constantine. It was, moreover, peculiarly suited to flatter that emperor's pride, the very thing which Eusebius was under the strongest temptation to do.
It is remarkable, however, that Eusebius, in the very connection in which he announces this new doctrine, unwittingly exposes its falsity. He first asserts that Christ changed the Sabbath, and then virtually contradicts it by indicating the real authors of the change. Thus he says:
The persons here referred to as the authors of this work are the Emperor Constantine, and such bishops as Eusebius, who loved the favor of princes, and Sylvester, the pretended successor of Saint Peter. Two facts refute the assertion of Eusebius that Christ changed the Sabbath: 1. That Eusebius, who lived three hundred years after the alleged change, is the first man who mentions such change; 2. That Eusebius testifies that himself and others made this change, which they could not have done had Christ made it at the beginning. But though the doctrine of the change of the Sabbath was thus announced by Eusebius, it was not seconded by any writer of that age. The doctrine had never been heard of before, and Eusebius had simply his own assertion, but no passage of the Holy Scriptures to offer in its support.
But after Constantine, the Sabbath began to recover strength, at least in the eastern churches. Prof. Stuart, in speaking of the period from Constantine to the council of Laodicea, A.D. 364, says:
Prof. Stuart, however, connects with this the statement that Sunday was honored by all parties. But the council of Laodicea struck a heavy blow at this Sabbath-keeping in the eastern church. Thus Mr. James, in addressing the University of Oxford, bears witness:
This shows conclusively that at that period the observance of the Sabbath according to the commandment was extensive in the eastern churches. But the Laodicean council, not only forbade the observance of the Sabbath, they even pronounced a curse on those who should obey the fourth commandment! Prynne thus testifies:
The action of this council did not extirpate the Sabbath from the eastern churches, though it did materially weaken its influence, and cause its observance to become with many only a nominal thing, while it did most effectually enhance the sacredness and the authority of the Sunday festival. That it did not wholly extinguish Sabbath-keeping is thus certified by an old English writer, John Ley:
And Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, about A.D. 372, uses this expostulation:
This testimony is valuable in that it marks the progress of apostasy concerning the Sabbath. The Sunday festival entered the church, not as a divine institution, but as a voluntary observance. Even as late as A.D. 200, Tertullian said that it had only tradition and custom in its support.64
But in A.D. 372, this human festival had become the sister and equal of that day which God hallowed in the beginning and solemnly commanded in the moral law. How worthy to be called the sister of the Sabbath the Sunday festival actually was, may be judged from what followed. When this self-styled sister had gained an acknowledged position in the family, she expelled the other, and trampled her in the dust. In our days, the Sunday festival claims to be the very day intended in the fourth commandment.
The following testimonies exhibit the authority of church councils in its true light. Jortin is quoted by Cox as saying:
The same writer gives us Baxter's opinion of the famous Westminster Assembly. Baxter says:
Such has been the nature of councils in all ages; yet they have ever claimed infallibility, and have largely used that infallibility in the suppression of the Sabbath and the establishment of the festival of Sunday. Of first-day sacredness prior to, and as late as, the time of Chrysostom, Kitto thus testifies:
It was reserved for modern theologians to discover the divine or apostolic authority for Sunday observance. The ancient doctors of the church were unaware that any such authority existed; and hence they deemed it lawful and proper to engage in usual worldly business on that day when their religious worship was concluded. Thus, Heylyn bears witness concerning St. Chrysostom that he
St. Jerome, a few years after this, at the opening of the fifth century, in his commendation of the lady Paula, shows his own opinion of Sunday labor. Thus he says:
Morer justifies this Sunday labor in the following terms:
The bishop of Ely thus testifies:
St. Augustine, the contemporary of Jerome, gives a synopsis of the argument in that age for Sunday observance, in the following words:
It is to be observed that Augustine does not assign among his reasons for first-day observance, the change of the Sabbath by Christ or his apostles, or that the apostles observed that day, or that John had given it the name of Lord's day. These modern first-day arguments were unknown to Augustine. He gave the credit of the work, not to Christ or his inspired apostles, but to the holy doctors of the church, who, of their own accord, had transferred the glory of the ancient Sabbath to the venerable day of the sun. The first day of the week was considered in the fifth century the most proper day for giving holy orders, that is, for ordinations, and about the middle of the century, says Heylyn,
According to Dr. Justin Edwards, this same pope made also this decree in behalf of Sunday:
Soon after this edict of the pope, the emperor Leo, A.D. 469, put forth the following decree:
And this emperor determined to mend the breach in Constantine's law, and thus prohibit agriculture on Sunday. So he adds:
The holy doctors of the church had by this time very effectually despoiled the Sabbath of its glory, transferring it to the Lord's day of Pope Sylvester; as Augustine testifies; yet was not Sabbatical observance wholly extinguished even in the Catholic church. The historian Socrates, who wrote about the middle of the fifth century, thus testifies:
As the church of Rome had turned the Sabbath into a fast some two hundred years before this, in order to oppose its observance, it is probable that this was the ancient tradition referred to by Socrates. And Sozomen, the contemporary of Socrates, speaks on the same point as follows:
On the statement of these historians, Cox remarks:
The time had now come, when, as stated by Coleman, the observance of the Sabbath was deemed heretical; and the close of the fifth century witnessed its effectual suppression in the great body of the Catholic church.
5 Eccl. Hist. book i. cent. l. part ii. chap. iv. sect. 4. Dr. Murdock's translation is more accurate than that above by Maclaine. He gives it thus:- "Moreover, those congregations, which either lived intermingled with Jews, or were composed in great measure of Jews, were accustomed also to observe the seventh day of the week, as a SACRED day: for doing which, the other Christians taxed them with no wrong. <Return>
14 A Treatise of the Sabbath Day, containing a "Defence of the Orthodoxal Doctrine of the Church of England against Sabbatarian Novelty," p. 8. It was written in 1635 at the command of the king in reply to Brabourne, a minister of the established church, whose work, entitled "A Defense of that most Ancient and Sacred Ordinance of God's, the Sabbath Day," was dedicated to the king with a request that he would restore the Bible Sabbath! See the preface to Dr. White's Treatise. <Return>
22 This edict is the original fountain of first-day authority, and in many respects answers to the festival of Sunday, what the fourth commandment is to the Sabbath of the Lord. The original of this edict may be seen in the library of Harvard College, and is as follows:
35 Imp. Constantinus A. Ad Maximum. Si quid de Palatio Nostro, aut ceteris operibus publicis, degustatum fulgore esse conatiterit, retento more veteris observantiae. Quid portendat, ob Haruspicibus requiratur, et diligentissime scriptura collecta ad Nostram Scientiam referatur. Ceteris etiam usurpandae huius consuetudinis licentia tribuenda: dummodo sacrificiis domesticis abstineant, quae specialiter prohibita sunt. Eam autem denunciationem adque interpretationem, quae de tactu Amphitheatri scriba est, de qua ad Heraclianum Tribunum, et Magistrum Officiorum scripseras, ad nos scias esse perlatum. Dat. xvi. Kal. Jan. Serdicae Acc. viii. Id. Mart. Crispo ii. & Constantino ii. C. C. Coss. 321. Cod. Theodos. xvi. 10, 1. - Library of Harvard College. <Return>
44 Omnium vero dierum per septimanam appellationes (ut Solis, Lunae, Martis, etc.), mutasse in ferias: ut Polydorus (li. 6, c. 5) indicat. Mataphrastes vero, nomina dierum Hebraeis usitata retinuisse eum, tradit; SOLIUS PRIMI DIEI APPELLATIONE MUTATA, QUEM DOMINICUM DIXIT. Historia Ecclesiastica per M. Ludovicum Lucuim, cent. iv. cap. x. pp. 739, 740, Ed. Basilea, 1624. Library of Andover Theological Seminary. The Ecclesistical History of Lucius is simply the second edition of the famous "Magdeburg Centuries," which was published under his supervision. <Return>53 Eusebius' Commentary on the Psalms, quoted in Cox's Sabbath Literature, vol. i. p. 361; also in Justin Edward's Sabbath Manual, pp. 125-127. <Return>
60 Quod non oportet Christianos Judaizere et otiare in Sabbato, sed operari in eodem die. Preferentes autem in veneratione Dominicum diem si vacare voluerint, ut Christiani hoc faciat; quod si reperti fuerint Judaizere Anathema sint a Christo. <Return>