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    December 15, 1881

    “Enforcement of the ‘Christian Sabbath’” The Signs of the Times, 7, 47.

    E. J. Waggoner

    SECONDLY, we shall examine the claims of the so-called Christian Sabbath.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.1

    Christian institutions are peculiar to the gospel of Christ-they are institutions erected by Christ. We have gospel precepts for certain ordinances, such as baptism and the Lord’s supper. These are peculiar to the gospel, wherein they are plainly instituted. We might quote to a great length from the best of Protestant writers to prove their general agreement in this, that gospel duties are based only on plain and positive precepts. We cannot say, however, that they are all and always consistent with this declaration, for it is made to meet the Catholics in their argument for tradition. It does not seem to have been made strictly for home use! This principle, applied to Sunday, will rule it out, as not being a gospel institution. There is not precept for its observance; no reason was ever given why it should be observed; no instance of its having been observed. A few inferences, anything but necessary, are all that is ever adduced in its favor. But these can never institute an ordinance; nothing but an express precept will suffice for this.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.2

    We have another principle to apply to it which must be decisive. While the gospel enforces morality, it does not originate it. Gospel institutions, therefore, are not moral, but positive. This truth is, and must be, acknowledged by all. We do not mean that positive institutions are not obligatory; they are, but not in the same sense that moral duties are, because we are differently related to them. And this distinction is not merely one in theory; it is universally recognized in practice. This we will show.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.3

    Christian ordinances are for the household of faith; not for infidels or disbelievers; while moral duties are of universal application. By a simple statement of facts, of ordinary occurrence, this may be made clear to every mind. Two persons-a young gentleman and a young lady-call upon a minister and ask to have the rite of marriage solemnized. As a matter of professional duty the minister may inquire if they are, or intend to become, followers of Christ. Nut this is not a requisite to marriage. He will marry them if they are unbelievers, became he recognizes the truth that marriage is not a Christian institution. Marriage was instituted before the fall of man; it was given to the race, and does not belong to any class or nation. It wa s never restricted to a class. If it were a religious institution there would be no legitimate children except those born in the church. But the Bible will not justify such a position. Doubtless the minister does right in marrying them, though they are not Christians. And for this reason it is proper for legislators to enact laws for the protection of the marriage rite and tie; it is in no sense religious legislation, or legislation for the church. It is for all classes-for the people at large.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.4

    But suppose that the same couple return to the same minister and ask to be baptized. Now the question of their belief in Christ is relevant-it is a necessity. Suppose they both declare their entire disregard of Christ and his gospel-will he baptize them? Of course he will not. And why not? Because baptism is a Christian institution, and they are not competent to receive it. But if they cannot be baptized, may they not at least partake of the Lord’s supper? Again they are refused. This, too, is a Christian ordinance, and they who reject Christ have no right to observe the institutions of Christ.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.5

    This being an accepted fact, we never find the pastors and their flocks asking the legislature to enact laws compelling all classes-believers and unbelievers-to be baptized and to partake of the Lord’s supper. So far are they from this, they would reject as a monstrous innovation any legislation to that end by the civil government. As ordinances of Christ-Christian institutions-they may not be the subjects of civil enactments. No church would for a moment accept a law of the State which required infidels to observe these ordinances of Christ. No minister would comply with the terms of such a law if it were enacted. We repeat it: this distinction is clearly defined, easily recognized, and universally accepted in practice.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.6

    And now we inquire, In this classification of institutions, where does the Sabbath belong? We have denied and repeatedly asked the clergy of the Protestant churches to make good their position, that the Sabbath is a Christian institution. But we have never succeeded in getting one in argue the position. We declare that there is no such thing as “the Christian Sabbath.” It has no existence. We point to the chapter and verse where baptism was commanded; we can show the act of instituting the Lord’s supper; but who will show us when, and by whom, a “Christian Sabbath” was instituted? What are the terms in which is was enacted? It has no foundation in the Scriptures. And our Sunday-Sabbath friends virtually acknowledge their weakness on th is point by acting inconsistently with their own position. They affirm, that the Sabbath is a Christian institution, and then, in contravention of every principle which governs their actions in regard to Christian institutions, they ask the legislature to make and enforce a law to compel infidels and atheists to observe it! To be perfectly consistent they should unite in asking for “a police regulation” in behalf of baptism and the Lord’s supper, and thus place all Christian institutions on an equal footing!SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.7

    While we declare, and produce the proof, that there is no Christian Sabbath, we freely admit that the Sunday-rest is a church institution. It is a creature of the church;-but it is of the Roman Church. History fully justifies the claims put forth by the Catholic Church in this behalf. This claim we briefly present. In “A Sure Way to Find the True Religion,” a Catholic book, is an argument for tradition, in which are the following words:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.8

    “The keeping holy the Sunday is a thing absolutely necessary to salvation; and yet this is nowhere put down in the Bible; on the contrary, the Bible says, Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8, which is Saturday, and not Sunday; therefore, the Bible does not contain all things necessary to salvation.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.9

    In the “Plain Talk about Protestantism,” by M. Segur, is the following:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.10

    “It is worth its while to remember that this observance of the Sabbath [Sunday]-in which, after all, the only Protestant worship consists-not only has no foundation in the Bible, but it is in flagrant contradiction with its letter, which commands rest on the Sabbath which is Saturday. It was the Catholic Church, which, by the authority of Jesus Christ has transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they page, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the church.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.11

    This is pointed and true. From a Catholic tract we copy the following, being part of an appeal to Protestants on this subject:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.12

    “You tell me that Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath, but that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Changed! but by whom? Who has authority to change an express command of Almighty God? When God has spoken and said, Thou shalt keep holy the seventh day, who shall dare to say, Nay, thou mayest work, and do all manner of worldly business on the seventh day; but thou shalt keep holy the first day, in its stead? This is the most important question, which I know not how you can answer.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.13

    “You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible, and the Bible only; and yet in so important a matter as the observance of one day in seven as a holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and put another day in the place of that day which the Bible has commanded. The command to keep holy the seventh day is one of the ten commandments; you believe that the other nine are still binding; who gave you authority to tamper with the fourth? If you are consistent with you own principles, if you really follow the Bible, and the Bible only, you ought to be able to produce some portion of the New Testament in which this fourth commandment is expressly altered, or, at least, from which you may confidently infer that it was the will of God that Christians should make that change in its observance which you have made.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.14

    “Now mind, in all this, you would greatly misunderstand me if you supposed I was quarreling with you for acting in this manner on a true and right principle-in other words, a Catholic principle, viz., the acceptance, without hesitation, of that which has been handed down to you by an unbroken tradition. I would not tear from you a single one of those shreds and fragments of divine truth which you have retained. God forbid! They are the most precious things you possess, and by God’s blessing may serve as clues to bring you out of that labyrinth of error in which you find yourself involved, far more by the fault of your forefathers, three centuries ago, than by your own. What I do quarrel with you for is, not your inconsistency in occasionally acting on a true principle, but your adoption, as a general rule, of a false one. You keep the Sunday, and not the Saturday; and you do so rightly, for this was the practice of all Christians when Protestantism began; but you have abandoned other Catholic observances, which were equally universal at that day, preferring the novelties introduced by the man who invented Protestantism, to the unvarying tradition of above fifteen hundred years.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.15

    “We blame you, not for making Sunday your weekly holiday, instead of Saturday, but for rejecting tradition, which is the only safe and clear rule by which this observance can be justified.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.16

    And in the “Doctrinal Catechism” of that church we find the following language:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.17

    Ques. Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.18

    Ans. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.19

    Now if our Protestant pastors deny this position of “the church,” will they please to produce the Scriptural authority,” will they please to produce the Scriptural authority? Not fine-spun inferences, but such authority as is demanded in questions of law. Here we might fill pages with admissions that no such authority exists. Dr. Buck, in his Theological Dictionary, admits that there is no law for keeping Sunday, but argues for the correctness of it. Argument in the entire absence of law is self-condemnatory. Dr. Scott says it came into practice gradually, without a precept; as did, we add, every traditional innovation. Dr. Matthew Henry says the Sunday was not called the Sabbath in the first two centuries of the Christian era. We add a century or more to his statement, and are still on safe ground. Dr. Clarke observes an ominous silence in regard to any evidence for a change, which he certainly would not do if the evidence existed. Dr. Heylyn, an eminent historian of the church of England, says there was no law to restrain from labor on the first day of the week in the first three centuries. Constantine’s edict is the first which can be produced, A.D. 321, and this has often been referred to as the law of the “first Christian emperor,” many overlooking the fact that the emperor had yet made no profession of Christianity when he made this decree. Of this decree Dr. Schaff, in his Church History, says he “enjoined the civil observance of Sunday, though not as dies Domini [Lord’s day], but as dies solis [day of the sun], in conformity to his worship of Apollos.” That such is the origin of Sunday consecration is beyond dispute. A late edition of the “Sunday-school Union Bible Dictionary” contains the following:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.20

    “Sunday was a name given by the heathen to the first day of the week, because it was the day on which they worshiped the sun.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.21

    Dr. Webster said:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.22

    “The heathen nations in the north of Europe, dedicated this day to the sun, and hence their Christian descendants continue to call the day Sunday.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.23

    The Religious Encyclopedia says:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.24

    “The ancient Saxons called it by this name, because upon it they worshiped the sun.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.25

    The Douay Catechism says:-SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.26

    “It is also called Sunday from the old Roman denomination of dies solis, the day of the sun, to which it was sacred.”SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.27

    We have not space to extend this point. We only add that, inasmuch as we are enjoined to keep God’s commandments because he will bring every work into Judgment, we would much rather risk our case in the Judgment standing on what God has commanded, than on what he has not, even though all the world may choose the things which God has not commanded.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.28

    With this proof of our statement, that it is a creature of the Roman Church, we see the consistency of Justice Morrison in deciding in its favor. Reverence for the church is enjoined as the first consideration with all who acknowledge allegiance to her, and this would lead him, yea, compel him to give the decision he has given. All his educational bias; every feeling of his heart, would coincide with this decision, because his church holds that nations and governments should be in subservience to the church, and enforce the decrees of the church. But his decision is inconsistent with the very instincts of Protestantism-contrary to every principle which it professes. It is a triumph of Catholicism in this professedly Protestant and Chri stian land, which is well calculated to strengthen the assurance expressed by the declining power at Rome, that what the church is losing in Europe she is gaining in the United States. Protestants, American freemen, may affect to think that this is a small matter; but they may remember that the greatest abuses and usurpation that the world has ever witnessed arose from small beginnings.SITI December 15, 1881, page 558.29

    The ministry may meet our argument on “the Christian Sabbath” and the nature of Christian institutions with silence,-they may ignore it and act as if no such facts and truths existed, because they are in the majority. Our experience in past efforts to get the truth before them, and our knowledge of the spirit of majorities, and of human nature, gained from our reading of history and the Bible, incline us to fear that this will be the course mostly pursued. But if so it will be additional proof that the spirit of Protestant Christianity is on the wane; that power of majorities, not truth, is the arm on which they depend.SITI December 15, 1881, page 559.1

    We will conclude our remarks on this subject next week, with a brief examination of the prophecies relating to the approaching warfare against the commandments of God and those who keep them.SITI December 15, 1881, page 559.2

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