The one great point in the Sabbath question upon which Seventh-day Adventists stake the most, upon which they insist the strongest, which they repeat the most frequently and the most confidently, is that the pope of Rome did change the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day. They assert that this is all the authority Sunday-keepers have for observing that day. Sunday is the pope's Sabbath, and Sunday-keeping is the mark of the beast, Rev. 14:9-12, a terrible sin in the sight of God. See almost any work on the Sabbath published by them.
They claim that Sunday keeping came from the pagans through the pope into the church. Thus: "The name, origin, authority, and sacredness of the Sunday institution are altogether and only pagan." Replies to Elder Canright, page 133. Then the pope changed the Sabbath into the Sunday. Mrs. White says: "The pope had changed it [the Sabbath] from the seventh day to the first day of the week." Again: "The pope had changed the day of rest from the seventh to first day." Early Writings, pages 26, 55. Again: "Here we find the mark of the beast. The very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, on the part of the Catholic church, without any authority from the Bible." The Mark of the Beast, page 23. "Sunday keeping must be the 'mark of the beast.'" The Marvel of Nations, by U. Smith, page 183. To this claim Mrs. White has set the seal of divine inspiration. She says: "The change of the Sabbath is the sign or mark of the authority of the Romish church." "The keeping of the counterfeit Sabbath is the reception of the mark." Great Controversy, Vol. 4, page 281.
This settles it with every Seventh-day Adventist. My experience is that a belief of this as a fact induces more persons to give up Sunday for Saturday than all other arguments made by the seventh-day people. Convince a man that Sunday-keeping is only a Catholic institution, a rival to the Lord's Sabbath and hateful to God, and of course, if he has any conscience, he will keep it no longer. Every one of them accepts this as a historical fact in fulfillment of Daniel 7:25. Indeed, this is the one main pillar in their whole system, upon which all the rest depends. If their position upon this point is false, then their whole system is also false, as they will readily admit. On this Elder Waggoner says: "Elder Canright did not exaggerate when he said that we consider this a material question. We do indeed so consider it." Replies to Elder Canright, page 165. Then they should be able to prove the point very plainly. They claim to be raised up to preach against this change of the Sabbath by the pope.
The unmingled wrath of God is soon to be poured out upon all who continue to keep Sunday, the Pope's Sabbath. It would seem that such a radical position should be supported by the clearest evidence. They claim that it is a historical fact that somewhere during the first five centuries after Christ, the pope did change the Sabbath to Sunday. If this be so, they should be able to produce reliable historical proof for it, giving the TIME, MANNER, PLACE, PERSONS, FACTS and REASONS for so remarkable an occurrence. I have before me two books written expressly to prove this assertion. They are: "Who Changed the Sabbath?" 24 pages, and "Marvel of Nations," 282 pages. But the only direct proof offered is simply quotations from Catholic Catechisms, which claim that their church made the change! And is this all the historical (?) proof they can present on this point? Yes, for all that the Sabbatarian writers and scholars for the last 200 years have been able to find is just this and nothing more. Not one single historian in all the annals of the world has ever stated that the pope changed the Sabbath. For twenty-eight years I myself quoted these catechisms as proof positive on that subject.
Goaded by my call for proof on this point, the Adventists selected Elder Waggoner to answer it, to find some author who says that the pope changed the Sabbath. The elder made a desperate attempt, covering forty-nine closely printed pages. He searched the libraries of America and Europe. What did he find? If he had a passage to the point, he could have quoted it in a few lines. But he had none. Not a single author did he quote saying that the pope changed the Sabbath. So it rests merely on the claim of just these Catholic Catechisms. Then if we admit on their mere assertion the boastful claim of the Catholics that they changed the Sabbath, why not also admit their claim that the pope is infallible, that he has the keys of St. Peter, the chair of the apostle, the only true apostolic succession, etc.? Seventh-day people quickly repudiate all these other claims of the Catholics, but eagerly admit their claim that they changed the Sabbath, simply because this suits their theory, for which they can find no other proof. They denounce Catholic writers as forgers, cheats, deceivers and liars, then, when it suits their purpose, turn around and quote their mere assertions as unquestionable truth!
Moreover, even the claims of the Catechism are misrepresented. The theory is that some hundreds of years after Christ the pope, by his own authority, changed the Sabbath, and the Catechisms are explained to teach this idea. But not one of them make such a claim or anything like it. Every one of these Catholic quotations states distinctly that the change in the Sabbath was made, not by the pope, but "by the church" in the days of Christ and the apostles, not several hundred years afterward. Thus: "Question: What are the days which the church commands to be kept holy? "Answer: 1. The Sunday, or our Lord's day, which we observe by apostolic tradition, instead of the Sabbath." Catholic Christian Instructed, page 209.
>From the same work, we take the following: "Question: What warrant have you for keeping the Sunday, preferable to the ancient Sabbath, which was the Saturday?" "Answer: We have for it the authority of the Catholic church, and apostolic tradition."
Catholics claim that their "church" originated in the days of the apostles, and any change made by the apostolic church was made by the Catholic church. Hence they claim that the "Catholic church" changed the Sabbath in the days of the apostles. Adventists in using these quotations from the Cathechisms explain them as saying that the change was made by the apostate popes hundreds of years after the apostles. But the Catechisms claim no such thing, as is seen in the above quotations. Thus even the Catechisms, when fairly read, teach that Sunday observance originated with the Christian church in the days of the apostles, just the truth exactly.
That Adventists do misrepresent the teachings of the Catholics is shown by the following testimony of a Catholic Priest: "Having lived for years among the Seventh-day Adventists, I am familiar with their claims that the Pope of Rome changed the Sabbath from the seventh day to the first day of the week. Such assertions are wholly unfounded. Catholics claim no such thing; but maintain that the apostles themselves established the observance of Sunday and that we received it by tradition from them. The councils and popes afterwards simply confirmed the keeping of the day as received from the apostles. John Meiler, Rector of St. John's Church, Headlsburg, Cal."
The "Catholic Dictionary," by Addis and Arnold, after quoting Rev. 1:10; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2 says: These texts "seem to indicate that Sunday was already a sacred day on which deeds of love were specially suitable. Heb. 10:25 shows this much: that the Christians, when the epistle was written, had regular days of assembly. The scriptural references given above show that the observance of Sunday had begun in the apostolic age; but even were Scripture silent tradition would put this point beyond all doubt."
John Ankatell, A.M., priest of the diocese of New York, writing in the Outlook, July, 1889, says of Sunday, the Lord's Day: "We think it was given by our Lord to the apostles during the great forty days after his resurrection, but we cannot prove this." He states the Catholic doctrine exactly, viz: That the change was made by Christ and the apostles, but that the scriptures are not plain enough on this point to prove it; hence we have to rely upon Catholic authority which says it was made in New Testament times. All Catholics and all their catechisms say the same. But this is entirely different from saying that the pope made the change several hundred years after Christ. This is a sample of how Adventists pervert the testimony they use. (See Appendix E)
We will now present historical evidence, proving that the observance of the first day of the week as a day of worship was universal among Christians in the days immediately following the apostles. If Sunday worship originated here, then it did not originate with the papacy, which came up several hundred years later.
Pliny was the governor of Bithynia, Asia Minor, A.D. 106-108. He wrote A.D. 107 to Trajan, the emperor, concerning the Christians, thus: "They were wont to meet together, on a STATED DAY before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God....When these things were performed, it was their custom to separate and then come together again to a meal which they ate in common without any disorder." Horne's Introduction, Vol. 1, chapter 3, section 2, page 84. That this was Sunday is evident. 1) They came together to worship Christ. 2) They assembled to eat a meal together, the Lord's supper. We have already proved that the "stated day" for this was Sunday. "Upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread." Acts 20:7. This is exactly parallel to Pliny.
Eusebius, the historian, A.D. 324, says: "I think that he [the psalmist] describes the morning assemblies in which we are accustomed to assemble throughout the world." "By this is prophetically signified the service which is performed very early and every morning of the resurrection day throughout the whole world." Sabbath Manual, page 125. This is exactly what Pliny says: They met together "on a stated day before it was light," they assembled to eat together a meal. Eusebius says it was the custom of all Christians "to meet very early and every morning of the resurrection day." This ought to settle it and does. Pliny's stated day was Sunday. This was in the very region where the apostles labored, and only ELEVEN years after St. John died. Elder Andrews, Sabbatarian, says: "This testimony of Pliny was written a few years subsequent to the time of the apostles. It relates to a church which probably had been founded by the apostle Peter." Hist. Sab., page 237. It shows that the apostles taught Sunday keeping.
This epistle was highly prized in the earliest churches, read in some of them as part of scripture, and is found in the oldest manuscript of the scriptures, NAMELY THE SINAITIC. That it was written by a pious man of learning and influence cannot be doubted. Elder Andrews, Seventh-day Adventists, admits that the epistle of Barnabas "was in existence as early as the middle of the second century, and, like the 'Apostolic Constitutions,' is of value to us in that it gives some clue to the opinions which prevailed in the region where the writer lived." Testimony of the Fathers, page 21.
The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says: "The epistle was probably written in Alexandria at the beginning of the second century and by a Gentile Christian." The Encyclopedia Britannica, the highest critical authority, says: "This work is unanimously ascribed to Barnabas, the companion of St. Paul, by early Christian writers.... But the great majority of critics assign it to the reign of Hadrian sometime between 119 and 126 A.D." Smith's Dictionary of the Bible says: "The epistle is believed to have been written early in the second century." Johnson's New Universal Cyclopedia says: It "is supposed by Hefele to have been written between 107-120 A.D.... It is frequently cited by the Fathers, and was by many regarded as being of authority in the church; some even claiming for it a place in the sacred canon."
This is a summary of the best modern criticism as to the date, character and authority of the epistle of Barnabas. Read and reverenced in the church as early as A.D. 120, or within twenty-four years of the death of St. John, it shows what Christians believed and practiced immediately after the apostles. In this epistle we read: "Incense is a vain abomination unto me, and your new moons and Sabbaths I cannot endure. He has, therefore, abolished these things." Chapter II. Elder Andrews admits that "he presently asserts the abolition of the Sabbath of the Lord." "Testimony," etc., page 22. Coming to the first day of the week, Barnabas says: "Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day, also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead." Chapter 15.
What does Elder Andrews say to this testimony? He admits that it teaches the abolition of the Jewish Sabbath and the keeping of Sunday. But he argues that such a doctrine is contrary to the Bible; that is, to HIS idea of the Bible. While I was yet a firm believer in the seventh day, when reading this book, I was struck with the fact that Elder Andrews, all through his book had to oppose and combat the teachings of all these early fathers! The reason is manifest: he held one doctrine and they held another. He believed in the seventh day, and they believed in the first day. Some of them lived early enough to have conversed with the apostles themselves, while he lived eighteen hundred years later! Which would be apt to know best?
In his "History of the Sabbath," page 308, he says: "The reasons offered by the early fathers for neglecting the observance of the Sabbath show conclusively that they had no special light on the subject by reason of living in the first centuries, which we in this latter age do not possess." What a confession that is from the ablest historian the seventh day ever had! He admits that "the early fathers" "in the first centuries" neglected "the observance of the Sabbath." What further need have we for witness to prove that the seventh day was not observed in the first centuries? But how does this harmonize with the theory that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday by the pope several hundred years afterwards? Suppose those early fathers were not good theologians, nor able reasoners; could they not testify to a simple FACT? Could they not state whether they did or did not keep Saturday? Surely that knew enough for that, and this is all we wish to ask.
We do not quote these fathers to prove a doctrine; for that we go only to the Bible. We quote them to prove a simple, historical FACT, viz: that the early Christians did keep Sunday, hence it could not have started with the popes centuries later.
This was not written by the apostles; yet its date is very early. Some place it as early as A.D. 80. Professor Harnack, of Berlin, says many place it between A.D. 90, and A.D. 120. This is the date most favored. It can not be much later. The New York Independent says of it: "By all odds the most important writing exterior to the New Testament." Professor D.R. Dungan, President of Drake University, says: "It is evident that it is not far on this side of the death of the apostle John." The noted scholar, Rev. Wilbur F. Crafts, in his Sabbath for Man, page 383, says: It was "written, as the best scholars almost unanimously agree, not later than forty years after the death of the last of the apostles, and during the lifetime of many who heard John's teaching." In the preface to this important document, the editors, Profs. Hitchcock and Brown in the Union Theological Seminary, N.Y., say: "The genuineness of the document can hardly be doubted." "The document belongs undoubtedly to the second century; possibly as far back as 120 A.D.; hardly later than 160." Introduction.
Chapter fourteen of the Teaching of the Apostles says: "But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving," etc. This testimony is clear and decisive that the Lord's day was the established day of worship, at that early day.
I quote from "The Complete Testimony of the Fathers," by Elder Andrews: "Justin's 'Apology' was written at Rome about the year 140," "and this at a distance of only forty-four years from the date of John's vision upon Patmos." "It does not appear that Justin, and those at Rome who held with him in doctrine, paid the slightest regard to the ancient Sabbath. He speaks of it as abolished, and treats it with contempt." Page 33.
This is the confession which even the historian of the Seventh-day Adventists is compelled to make. The Jewish Sabbath was wholly disregarded by Christians within forty-four years of the death of the last apostle. And this is proven by the testimony of a man who lived right there.
Hear Elder A. again: "We must, therefore, pronounce Justin a man who held to the abrogation of the ten commandments, and that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution which was unknown before Moses, and of no authority since Christ. He held Sunday to be the most suitable day for public worship." Page 44. This is the doctrine that the early church and fathers held. Justin in his "Apology" for them to the emperor fairly represented what Christians generally held then, just as he should have done. Elder Andrews conveys the impression that Justin represented only a small party of apostate Christians at Rome and that he is quite unreliable. But the facts are just the reverse. He was a Greek, born in Palestine and held his "Dialogue with Trypho," at Ephesus, Asia Minor, in the church where St. John lived and died, the very center of the Eastern church, and only forty-four years after John's death. Of Justin the Encyclopedia Americana says: "One of the earliest and most learned writers of the Christian church.... He was also equally zealous in opposing alleged heretics." Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says: "In these works Justin professes to present the system of doctrine held by all Christians and seeks to be orthodox on all points. The only difference he knows of as existing between Christians concerned the millennium. Thus Justin is an incontrovertible witness for the unity of the faith in the church of his day, and to the fact that the Gentile type of Christianity prevailed."
"Eusebius says that he overshadowed all the great men who illuminated the second century by the splendor of his name." His writings are "the most important that have come to us from the second century." McClintock and Strong's Encyclopedia, Article Justin Martyr.
Dr. Schaff says of him: "After his conversion Justin devoted himself wholly to the vindication of the Christian religion, as an itinerant evangelist, with no fixed abode." Church History, Vol. 1, page 482. Not only were his books accepted without dispute as expressing the practice of the church, but his itinerant life, now in Palestine, then in Rome, Greece, Ephesus, enabled him to know this practice, and stamps his testimony with a force equal to demonstration. So, then, Justin is an unimpeachable witness for the faith and practice of Christians generally a few years after the death of the apostles.
Now hear what Justin says about the first day of the week: "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying, Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows, and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds, and the strangers sojourning among us, and, in a word, takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day rose from the dead. For he was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the sun, having appeared to his apostles and disciples, he taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration." The First Apology of Justin, Chapter 67.
Does Elder Andrews question the genuineness of this document? No, indeed. What answer does he make to it? Simply that Justin does not call Sunday the Sabbath nor the Lord's day! This is readily answered by the fact that Justin was writing to a heathen emperor who would have been wholly ignorant of the meaning of either of those terms, but who was familiar with the term "Sunday." So Justin of necessity used that term. But there the naked facts stand, clear, positive and undeniable, that within forty-four years after the book of Revelation was written Christians did not keep the seventh day, but did hold their assemblies on Sunday. And Justin says that Jesus taught these things to the apostles. With these undeniable facts before him, it is a marvel how any man can say that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday three or four hundred years after this by the apostate popes. For myself I became fully satisfied that such statements are contrary to all the plainest facts of history, as may be seen by the above unquestioned statement of Justin Martyr.
It is impossible that Sunday-keeping could have thus been universally introduced into all churches without a word of objection, unless it had started at the fountain-head, with the apostles themselves. Consider well the force of this fact: From the very earliest days, reaching almost back to the apostles themselves, the church was divided into opposing sects, and controversy between them was often very strong. Yet all agreed in keeping Sunday. So today: go to any part of the globe and wherever you find Christians of any sect or nation, there you find them keeping Sunday. A few Sabbatarians of late origin are the only exceptions to this. How did this universal custom come about if not started at the very foundation of the church by the apostles themselves?
But we will hear further from these fathers themselves as to whether they kept Sunday. Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, the church which Paul raised up and to which he gave the command about Sunday collections, 1 Cor. 16:1-2, says: "We passed this holy Lord's day, in which we read your letter, from the constant reading of which we shall be able to draw admonition." Eusebius, Eccl. History, Book 4, Chapter 23. That the Lord's day is the resurrection day we have seen. This term is never applied to any other than the first day. Notice that this witness is from Greece, not Rome. So the resurrection day was a "holy" day, A.D. 170.
Coming down only ten years we have the testimony of the heretic Bardesanes, the Syrian, who flourished about A.D. 180. He belonged to the Gnostic sect. He says: "On one day, the first day of the week, we assembled ourselves together, and on the days of the readings we abstain from [taking] sustenance." Book of the Laws of Countries. Says Elder A.: "This shows that the Gnostics used Sunday as the day for religious assemblies." Testimony, etc., page 53. Here is another good testimony for Sunday, and another good confession from Elder A. All parties, orthodox and heretic, kept Sunday as early as A.D. 180. How, then, is it that Constantine and the pope changed the Sabbath to Sunday two to four hundred years later? Elder A's own words utterly refute such an idea.
Notice here also a refutation of the idea so strongly urged by Sabbatarians, that Sunday-keeping originated at Rome, and was for a long time confined there. Elder Andrews has to admit that the Gnostics at this date used Sunday as a day of worship. But, 1) The Gnostics were emphatically an eastern sect, originating in Syria, and were most numerous in Alexandria, Asia Minor, and the East. Rome never had any influence over them. Bardesanes himself lived at Edessa, in Mesopotamia, 1,500 miles east of Rome, on another continent, under another nation. 2) This sect was numerous in the East as early as A.D. 150, or 55 years after the death of John. So we have Sunday-keeping not only at Rome but all over the east as early as A.D. 150, hundreds of years before the pope had a particle of influence there.
Clement was one of the most celebrated of the Christian fathers. He wrote about A.D. 194. He says: "He, in fulfillment of the precept, keeps the Lord's day when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumed that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord's resurrection in himself." Book 7, Chapter XII. The Lord's day, it will be seen here and all along, is the resurrection day. Clement lived, not at Rome, but in Egypt. So Sunday-keeping was not simply a Roman usage as Adventists claim.
Tertullian was one of the most noted of the early fathers. Was born A.D. 160. He was highly educated, bred to the law, and very talented. Brought up a pagan, he was converted to Christ and vehemently opposed heathenism ever after. Radically severe in his principles, opposed to all conformity to the world, the laxity of the Roman church drove him to withdraw from it, which he ever after hotly opposed. So he was not a Romanist, nor did Rome have a particle of influence over him only to drive him the other way. He was strictly orthodox in faith and a lover of the scriptures. Hence if it were true that Sunday keeping, as a heathen institution, was being introduced into the church by Rome, Tertullian is just the man who would have opposed and fearlessly condemned it.
Johnson's Cyclopedia says of him: "One of the greatest men of the early church." He "joined the Puritanic sect of the Montanists. They were orthodox in doctrine, but stern in spirit and discipline." "He remained true to the faith of the Catholics, but fought them vehemently on matters of morality and discipline. He was also a representative of the African opposition to Rome." The Schaff-Herzog Cyclopedia says of him: "One of the grandest and most original characters of the ancient church." "Greek philosophy he despised." Of his great book they say: "One of the magnificent monuments of the ancient church." Anton's Classical Dictionary says of him: "He informs us more correctly than any other writer respecting the Christian doctrines of his time.... Tertullian was held in very high esteem by the subsequent fathers of the church." Neander says: "Tertullian is a writer of peculiar importance." Rose's Neander, page 424.
Here then is a competent and unimpeachable witness to the doctrines and practices of the universal church, A.D. 200, or only 104 years after John. Time and again he argues that the Sabbath was abolished, that Christians do not keep it, but do keep Sunday, the Lord's Day. Of the abolition of the Sabbath he says: "Let him who contends that the Sabbath is still to be observed... teach us that for the past time righteous men kept the Sabbath." "God originated Adam uncircumcised and inobservant of the Sabbath." So he says Abel, Noah, Enoch, etc., were "inobservant of the Sabbath." Answer to the Jews, chapter 2. Again: "The old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary." Chapter 4. "We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath, and devote it to ease and eating, deviating from the old Jewish customs, which they are now very ignorant of." Tertullian's Apology, chapter 16. Tertullian again declares that his brethren did not observe the days held sacred by the Jews: "We neither accord with the Jews in their peculiarities in regard to food, nor in their sacred days." "We, however, (just as we have received), only on the day of the Lord's resurrection ought to guard not only against kneeling, but every posture and office of solicitude; deferring even our business, lest we give any place to the devil." Tertullian on Prayer, chapter 23. Sunday, then, was observed by Christians at that early date, but Saturday was not.
Origen (about A.D. 225) was a man of immense learning, and his writings are numerous. "Origen may well be pronounced one of the ablest and worthiest of the church fathers." McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia. He says: "If it be objected to us on this subject that we ourselves are accustomed to observe certain days, as, for example, the Lord's Day, the preparation, the passover, or pentecost." Origen against Celsus, book 8, chapter 22. This plainly shows that he did observe the Lord's Day. Origen's home was in Egypt, but he traveled all over the East and died at Tyre. Notice that witnesses for Sunday came from all parts of the world, not one from Rome.
Of the "Apostolic Constitutions" (A.D. 250) Elder Andrews says: "The so- called 'Apostolic Constitutions' were not the work of the apostles, but they were in existence as early as the third century, and were then very generally believed to express the doctrine of the apostles. They do therefore furnish important historical testimony to the practice of the church at that time. Mosheim, in his 'Historical Commentaries,' Cent. 1, section 51, speaks thus of these 'constitutions': 'The matter of this work is unquestionably ancient; since the manners and discipline of which it exhibits a view are those which prevailed among the Christians of the second and third centuries, especially those resident in Greece and the oriental regions.'" Testimony, etc., page 13. Notice again that this work was the product of the eastern church and hence shows the custom of the church in the east instead of that at Rome.
These, then, will be good witnesses to the practice of the church about A.D. 250. In section 7, paragraph 59, we read: "And on the Lord's Day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus and sent him to us." "Otherwise what apology will he make to God who does not assemble on that day to hear the saving word concerning the resurrection." In book 7, section 2, paragraph 30, he says: "On the day of the resurrection of the Lord, that is, the Lord's Day, assemble yourselves together, without fail, giving thanks to God," etc. In the same paragraph, in speaking of the resurrection of Christ, the writer says: "On which account we solemnly assemble to celebrate the feast of the resurrection on the Lord's Day," etc.
These testimonies are decisive, and do show beyond a doubt that the Christians of those early days used Sunday just as it is now used for religious worship. Did they, then, have "the mark of the beast" at least 250 years before the beast had arisen, according to the Seventh-day Adventists' theory? These unquestionable facts of history, taken from their own published works and admitted by them to be true, show the utter absurdity of their position that Sunday-keeping is the mark of the beast.
He was bishop of Laodicea, Asia Minor. Not a Roman, but a Greek. This church was raised up by Paul himself, and must have been well acquainted with the apostle's doctrine. In his seventh canon Anatolius says: "The obligation of the Lord's resurrection binds us to keep the paschal festival on the Lord's Day." In his tenth canon he uses this language: "The solemn festival of the resurrection of the Lord can be celebrated only on the Lord's Day." In his sixteenth canon he says: "Our regard for the Lord's resurrection which took place on the Lord's Day will lead us to celebrate it on the same principle." See how all these early Christians call the resurrection day "the Lord's Day" and how they honor it. How entirely different from our Sabbatarians who can hardly find terms enough by which to express their contempt for Sunday! Why is this difference and what does it show?
"On the former day [the sixth] we are accustomed to fast rigorously that on the Lord's Day we may go forth to our bread with givings of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast lest we should appear to observe any Sabbath with the Jews which Christ himself, the Lord of the Sabbath, says by his prophets that his soul hateth which Sabbath he in his body abolished." Creation of the World, section 4.
"But the Lord's day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it he rose again, on which day we have received it for a custom not even to bow the knee." Canon 15. He gives the same reason 1581 years ago for keeping the Lord's day that Christians give now. This was more than 200 years before the pope came into power. Notice that these witnesses for Sunday are from all parts of the world, from Africa, Asia and Europe, not simply from Rome, as Seventh-day Adventists untruthfully say. These show that Sunday-keeping was as widespread as the Christian Church itself, and that from the earliest days.
Eusebius was born in Palestine, the very home of Christ and the apostles and the cradle of the early church. He was bishop of Cesarea where Paul abode two years. Acts 23:33; 24:27. He studied at Antioch where Paul labored for years. Acts 15:1. He traveled to Egypt and over Asia Minor. He was one of the most noted men of his age. He wrote the first history of the Christian church and bears the title of "Father of Church History." The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia says: "As a repertory of facts and documents, his work is invaluable." Johnson's Cyclopedia says: "He was very eminent for learning, as well as talents." Horne's Introductions says: "A man of extraordinary learning, diligence and judgment, and singularly studious in the scriptures.... His chief work in his Ecclesiastical History, in which he records the history of Christianity from its commencement to his own time.... He has delivered, not his own private opinion, but the opinion of the church, the sum of what he had found in the writings of the primitive Christians." Vol. 1, Chapter 11, Section 2, page 42.
He had every possible opportunity to know what Christians did throughout the world. Of him Justin Edwards, D.D., says: "He lived in the third century, was a man of vast reading, and was as well acquainted with the history of the church from the days of the apostles as any man of his day." At Cesarea was "a very extensive library, to which Eusebius had constant access. He was a learned and accurate historian and had the aid of the best helps for acquiring information upon all subjects connected with the Christian church." Sabbath Manual, pages 124-125. He lived right there, knew just what Christians did, and wrote about fifty years before the council of Laodicea where Adventists say the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. Hear him: Speaking of the patriarchs before the flood, he says: "They did not, therefore, regard circumcision, NOR OBSERVE THE SABBATH, NEITHER DO WE;... because such things as these do not belong to Christians." Eccl. Hist., Book 1, Chapter 4. This is decisive. A.D. 324, Christians did not keep the Sabbath.
True, there was a small heretical sect who kept the Sabbath as Judaizers do now. Of them he says: They are "those who cherish low and mean opinions of Christ.... With them the observance of the law was altogether necessary [just like Seventh-day Adventists] as if they could not be saved only by faith in Christ as a corresponding life.... They also observe the Sabbath and other discipline of the Jews just like them, but on the other hand they also celebrate the Lord's Day very much like us in commemoration of his resurrection." Eccl. Hist., pages 112-113. Even these Judaizers kept Sunday. On the Ninety-second Psalm he says: "The word by the new covenant translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light and gave us the true rest, viz., the saving Lord's Day." "On this day which is the first of light and of the true Sun, we assemble, after an interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths, even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world, and do those things according to the spiritual law which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath." Again: "And all things whatsoever that it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's Day as more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath." Quoted in Justin Edward's Sabbath Manual, pages 126-127.
This testimony of the great historian of the early church is decisive. It puts beyond doubt that Christians in all the world did then keep Sunday, the Lord's Day, and did not keep the Jewish Sabbath. It is a desperate cause which has to deny such testimony as this.
As a fair, impartial and clear statement of the teachings of the early Christian fathers concerning the observance of Sunday, we refer the reader to the following from Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, article "Lord's Day." Here is a book easy of access to all anywhere, unsectarian, embodying the results of the most thorough and scholarly examination of every passage in all the fathers having any bearing upon the Sunday question. Any one who has read the fathers must confess that its statements are fair and truthful. I have only room for one short quotation: "The results of our examination of the principle writers of the two centuries after the death of St. John, are as follows: 'The Lord's day existed during these two centuries as a part and parcel of apostolical, and so of Scriptural Christianity. It was never defended; for it was never impugned, or at least only impugned as were other things received from the apostles. It was never confounded with the Sabbath, but carefully distinguished from it.... It was not an institution of severe Sabbatical character, but a day of joy and cheerfulness, rather encouraging than forbidding relaxation. Religiously regarded, it was a day of solemn meeting for the holy eucharist, for united prayer, for instruction, for alms-giving; and though being an institution under the law of liberty, work does not appear to have been formally interdicted, or rest formally enjoined. Tertullian seems to indicate that the character of the day was opposed to worldly business. Finally, whatever analogy may be supposed to exist between the Lord's day and the Sabbath, in no passage that has come down to us is the fourth commandment appealed to as the ground of the obligation to observe the Lord's day.'"
So Johnson's New Universal Cyclopedia, Art. Sabbath, says: "For a time the Jewish converts observed both the seventh day, to which the name Sabbath continued to be given exclusively, and the first day, which came to be called the Lord's day.... Within a century after the death of the last of the apostles we find the observance of the first day of the week, under the name of the Lord's day, established as a universal custom of the church.... It was regarded not as a continuation of the Jewish Sabbath (which was denounced together with circumcision and other Jewish and anti-Christian practices), but rather as a substitute for it, and naturally its observance was based on the resurrection of Christ rather than on the creation rest day, or the Sabbath of the Decalogue."
No higher authority than this could be quoted. It states the truth exactly. So the Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Art. Sunday, says: "In the second century its observance was universal.... The Jewish Christians ceased to observe the Sabbath after the destruction of Jerusalem."
Dr. Schaff, than whom there is no higher living authority, says: "The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its root in apostolic practice." History of the Christian church, Vol. I, page 478.
The man who will shut his eyes to all this mass of testimony and still insist that Sunday-keeping is only an institution of popes of later ages, is simply held by a theory which he is bound to maintain anyway. I have had a sad experience in this matter, and know just how a seventh-day man feels in reading these historical facts. I read some of them twenty years ago. They perplexed me some, but I got over this by my strong faith in our doctrines and by believing them to be mostly forgeries. Afterwards as I read more, I saw these testimonies were reliable and very decidedly against our theory of the pope's Sunday. This disturbed me quite a little, but still I got over them by simply ceasing to think of them at all, and by dwelling upon other arguments in which I had perfect confidence. In debate I was always anxious to shut these out of the discussion. I know that Seventh-day Adventist ministers generally feel as I did, for we often referred to these testimonies of the fathers and the effect they had in debate. Of course, the great body of the members never read these things, and are in blissful ignorance concerning them. Or, if they do read them, it is in their own books where they are all explained away. Their unbounded faith in "the message" and in their leaders carries them right over these facts as matters of no consequence.
For myself, when once I decided to look these historical facts squarely in the face and give them whatever force they fairly deserved, I soon saw the utter falsity of the claim that the "pope changed the Sabbath." The old feeling of uneasiness on this point is entirely gone. I feel that so far as the evidence of history is concerned, my feet stand on solid ground.