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    September 6, 1897

    “How the Catholic Creed Was Made. Laying the Foundations of the Inquisition” The Bible Echo 12, 36, pp. 283-285.



    LAST week we saw how quickly the enactment of Sunday laws followed the union of the churches with the imperial power. The Sunday was made the means of asserting the power of the clergy over the lives of the people, and over the Word of God.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.1


    AGAINST this Church and State intrigue throughout, there had been also as against every other step in the course of the apostasy, earnest protest by all real Christians. But when it came to the point where the church would enforce by the power of the State the observance of Sunday, this protest became stronger than ever.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.2

    And additional strength was given to the protest at this point by the fact that it was urged in the words of the very arguments which the Catholic Church had used when she was antagonised, rather than courted, by the imperial authority, the argument that God alone is sovereign of the conscience, and that religion, being a matter of the heart and conscience cannot of right be within the realm of the civil ruler.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.3

    This, with the strength of the argument upon the merit of the question as to the day which should be observed, greatly weakened the force of the Sunday law. But when, in addition to these considerations, the exemption was so broad, and when those who observed the Sabbath positively refused to obey the Sunday law, its effect was virtually nullified.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.4

    In order, therefore, to the accomplishment of her original purpose, it now became necessary for the church to secure legislation extinguishing all exemption, and prohibiting the observance of the Sabbath so as to quench that powerful protest. And now, coupled with the necessity of the situation, the “truly divine command” of Constantine and the Council of Nice that “nothing” should be held “in common with the Jews,” was made the basis and the authority for legislation utterly to crush out the observance of the Sabbath of the Lord, and to establish the observance of Sunday only in its stead.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.5


    ACCORDINGLY, the Council of Laodicea enacted the following canon:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.6

    “CANON 29. Christians shall not Judaise and be idle on Saturday, but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honor, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaising, they shall be shut out from Christ.” 1Hefele’s “History of the Church Councils,” Laodicea. In both the Greek and latin copies of this canon, the word “Sabbath” is used instead of “Saturday;” and the word “anathema”—accursed—is the one which Hefele translates “shut out.” The following is the Latin: “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.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.7

    The report of the proceedings of the Council of Laodicea is not dated. A variety of dates has been suggested, of which A.D. 364 seems to have been the most favored. Hefele allows that it may have been as late as 380. But whatever the date, before A.D. 380, in the political condition of the empire, this could not be made effective by imperial law. In A.D. 364 Valens and Valentinian became emperors, the former of the East, and the latter of the West. For six years Valens was indifferent to all parties; but in A.D. 370 he became a zealous Arian, and so far as in him lay, established the Arian doctrine throughout his dominion.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.8

    Valentinian, though a Catholic, kept himself aloof from all the differences or controversies among church parties. This continued till 375, when Valentinian died, and was succeeded by his two sons, one aged sixteen, the other four, years. In 378 the reign of Valens ended, and Theodosius, a Spanish soldier, was appointed emperor of the East. In 380 he was baptized into the Catholic Church, and immediately an edict was issued in the name of the three emperors, commanding all subjects of the empire, of whatever party or name, to adopt the faith of the Catholic Church, and assume the name of “Catholic Christians.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.9

    As now “the state itself recognized the church as such, and endeavoured to uphold her in the prosecution of her prince- ples and the attainment of her ends” (Neander); and as Theodosius had already ordered that all his subjects “should steadfastly adhere to the religion which was taught by St. Peter to the Romans, which faithful tradition” had preserved, and which was then “professed by the pontiff Damasus” of Rome; and that they should all “assume the title of Catholic Christians;” it was easy to bring the imperial power to the support of the decrees of the church, and make the Laodicean Canon effective.BEST September 6, 1897, page 283.10


    NOW was given the opportunity for which the church had waited so long, and she made use of it. At the earliest possible moment she secured the desired law; for, says the historian Neander:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.1

    “By a law of the year 386, those older changes effected by the emperor Constantine were more rigorously enforced; and, in general, civil transactions of every kind on Sunday were strictly forbidden. Whoever transgressed was to be considered, in fact, as guilty of sacrilege.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.2

    As the direct result of this law, there soon appeared an evil which, under the circumstances and in the logic of the case, called for further legislation in the same direction. The law forbade all work. But as the people had not such religion as would cause them to devote the day to pious and moral exercises, the effect of the law was only to enforce idleness. Enforced idleness only multiplied opportunity for dissipation. As the natural consequence was that the circuses and the theatres throughout the Empire were crowded every Sunday.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.3

    But the object of the Sunday law, from the first one that was issued, was that the day might be used for the purposes of devotion, and that the people might go to church. But they had not sufficient religion to lead them to church when there was opportunity for amusement. Therefore, as given by Neander, the record is:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.4

    Owing to the prevailing passion at that time, especially in the large cities, to run after the various public shows, it so happened that when these spectacles fell on the same days which had been consecrated by the church to some religious festival, they proved a great hindrance to the devotion of Christians, though chiefly, it must be allowed, to those whose Christianity was the least an affair of the life and of the heart.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.5

    Assuredly! An open circus or theatre will always prove a great hindrance to the devotion of those Christians whose Christianity is the least an affair of the life and of the heart. In other words, an open circus or theater will always be a great hindrance to the devotion of those who have not religion enough to keep them from going to it, but who only want to use the profession of religion to maintain their popularity, and to promote their selfish interests.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.6

    On the other hand, to the devotion of those whose Christianity is really an affair of the life and of the heart, an open circus or theater will never be a particle of hindrance, whether open at church time or all the time. With the people there, however, if the circus and theater were open at the same time as the church, the church-members, as well as others, not being able to go to both places at once, would go to the circus or the theater instead of to the church.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.7


    BUT this was not what the bishops wanted. This was not that for which all work had been forbidden. All work had been forbidden in order that the people might go to church; but instead of that, they crowded to the circus and the theater, and the audiences of the bishops were rather slim. This was not at all satisfying to their pride; and they took care to let it be known. Neander says:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.8

    Church teachers ... were, in truth, often forced to complain that in such competitions the theater was vastly more frequented than the church.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.9

    And the church was now in a condition in which she could not bear competition. She must have a monopoly. Therefore the next step to be taken, the logical one, too, was to have the circuses and theaters closed on Sundays and other special church days, so that the churches and the theatres should not be open at the same time.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.10

    There was another feature of the case which gave the bishops the opportunity to make their new demands appear plausible, by urging in another form the selfish and sophistical plea upon which they had asked for the first edict respecting church days. In the circuses and the theatres large numbers of men were employed, among whom many were church-members. But, rather than give up their places, the church members would work on Sunday. The bishops complained that these were compelled to work, and were prohibited to worship: they pronounced it persecution, and demanded more Sunday laws for “protection.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.11


    As a consequence, therefore, and in the logic of the situation, at a council held at Carthage in June, A.D. 401, the following canon was enacted:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.12

    “CANON 5. On Sundays and feast-days, no plays may be performed.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.13

    That this canon might be made effective, the bishops in the same council passed a resolution, and sent up a petition to the emperor Honorius, praying—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.14

    “That the public shows might be transferred from the Christian Sunday and from feast-days, to some other days of the week.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.15

    The reason given in support of the petition was not only, as above, that those who worked in government offices and employments at such times, were persecuted, but that—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.16

    The people congregate more to the circus than to the church.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.17

    The church members had not enough religion or love of right to do what they professed to believe was right; therefore the state was asked to take away from them all opportunity to do wrong; then they would all be Christians! The devil himself could be made that kind of Christian in that way—and he would be the devil still!BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.18

    The petition of the Council of Carthage could not be granted at once, but in 425 the desired law was secured; and to this also there was attached the reason that was given for the first Sunday law that ever was made; namely,—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.19

    “In order that the devotion of the faithful might be free from all disturbance.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.20

    It must constantly be borne in mind, however, that the only way in which “the devotion of the faithful” was “disturbed” by these things was that when the circus or theatre was open at the same time that the church was open, the “faithful” would go to the circus or the theatre instead of to church, and therefore their “devotion” was “disturbed.” And of course the only way in which the “devotion” of such “faithful” ones could be freed from all disturbance, was to close the circuses and the theatres at church time.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.21


    IN the logic of this theory, there was one more step to be taken. To see how logically it came about, let us glance at the steps taken from the first one up to this point.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.22

    First, the church had all work on Sunday forbidden, in order that the people might attend to things divine; work was forbidden, that the people might worship. But the people would not worship; they went to the circus and the theatre instead of to church.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.23

    Then the church had laws enacted closing the circuses and the theaters, in order that the people might attend church. But even then the people would not be devoted, nor attend church; for they had no real religion.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.24

    The next step to be taken, therefore, in the logic of the situation, was to compel them to be devoted—to compel them to attend to things divine. This was the next step logically to be taken, and it was taken.BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.25

    The theocratical bishops were equal to the occasion. They were ready with a theory that exactly met the demands of the case; and one of the greatest of the Catholic Church Fathers and Catholic saints was the father of this Catholic saintly theory. Augustine wrote:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.26

    “It is, indeed, better that men should be brought to serve God by instruction than by fear of punishment or by pain. But because the former means are better, the latter must not therefore be neglected.... Many must often be brought back to their Lord, like wicked servants, by the rod of temporal suffering, before they attain the highest grade of religious development.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.27

    Of this theory, the author who of all the church historians has best exposed the evil workings of this false theocracy, justly observes:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.28

    “It was by Augustine, then, that a theory was proposed and founded, which ... contained the germ of that whole system of spiritual despotism of intolerance and persecution which ended in the tribunals of the Inquisition.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 284.29

    The history of the Inquisition is only the history of this infamous theory of Augustine’s. But this theory is only the logical sequence of the theory upon which the whole series of Sunday laws was founded.BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.1

    In closing his history of this particular subject, the same author says:—BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.2

    “In this way the church received help from the State for the furtherance of her ends.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.3

    This statement is correct. Constantine did many things to favor the bishops. He gave them money and political preference. He made their decisions in disputed cases final, as the decision of Jesus Christ. But in nothing that he did for them did he give them power over those who did not belong to the church, to compel them to act as though they did, except in the one thing of the Sunday law.BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.4


    IN the Sunday law, power was given to the church to compel those who did not belong to the church, and who were not subject to the jurisdiction of the church, to obey the commands of the church. In the Sunday law there was given to the church control of the civil power, so that by it she could compel those who did not belong to the church to act as though they did. The history of Constantine’s time may be searched through and through, and it will be found that in nothing did he give to the church any such power, except in this one thing—the Sunday law. Neander’s statement is literally correct, that it was “in this way the church received help from the State for the furtherance of her ends.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.5

    That this may be set before the reader in as clear a light as possible, we shall here summarise the facts stated by Neander in their direct bearing. He says of the carrying into effect of the theocratical theory of the apostate bishops that they made themselves dependent upon Constantine by their disputes, and “by their determination to use the power of the State for the furtherance of their aims.” Then he mentions the first and second Sunday laws of Constantine, the Sunday law of A.D. 386, the Carthaginian council, resolution, and petition of 401; and the law of 425 in response to this petition; and then, without a break, and with direct reference to these Sunday laws, he says: “In this way the church received help from the State for the furtherance of her ends.”BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.6

    She started out with the determination to do it; she did it; and “in this way” she did it. And when she had secured control of the power of the State, she used it for the furtherance of her own aims, and that in her own despotic way, as announced in the inquisitorial theory of Augustine. The first step logically led to the last. And the theocratical leaders in the movement had the cruel courage to follow the first step unto the last, as framed in the words of Augustine and illustrated in the horrors of the Inquisition during the fearful record of the dreary ages in which the bishopric of Rome was supreme over kings and nations.BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.7

    The lesson in all this for this time is plain. Again, in Protestant lands, there is a disposition among religious leaders to secure control of the state in the interests of religion. They say they want to bring the kingdom of heaven upon earth. The Sunday is the rallying point in the crusade, and the churches are calling for stricter Sunday laws. They are going over the same path, and the logic of their false theory must lead them to the same end.BEST September 6, 1897, page 285.8

    A. T. JONES.

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