Why Do Protestants Keep Sunday? - PART 1
The Genuine Offspring Of The Union Of The Holy Spirit And
The Catholic Church His Spouse. The Claims Of Protestantism To Any Part
Therein Proved To Be Groundless, Self-Contradictory, And Suicidal [From
the Catholic Mirror of Sept. 2, 1893]
Our attention has been called to the above subject in the past week by the receipt of a brochure of twenty-one pages, published by the International Religious Liberty Association, entitled, "Appeal and Remonstrance," embodying resolutions adopted by the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists (Feb. 24, 1893). The resolutions criticize and censure, with much acerbity, the action of the United States Congress, and of the Supreme Court, for invading the rights of the people by closing the World's Fair on Sunday.
The Adventists are the only body of Christians with the Bible as their teacher, who can find no warrant in its pages for the change of day from the seventh to the first. Hence their appellation, "Seventh-day Adventists." Their cardinal principle consists in setting apart Saturday for the exclusive worship of God, in conformity with the positive command of God Himself, repeatedly reiterated in the sacred books of the Old and New Testaments, literally obeyed by the children of Israel for thousands of years to this day, and endorsed by the teaching and practice of the Son of God whilst on earth.
Per contra, the Protestants of the world, the Adventists excepted, with the same Bible as their cherished and sole infallible teacher, by their practice, since their appearance in the sixteenth century, with the time-honored practice of the Jewish people before their eyes, have rejected the day named for His worship by God, and assumed, in apparent contradiction of His command, a day for His worship never once referred to for that purpose, in the pages of that Sacred Volume.
What Protestant pulpit does not ring almost every Sunday with loud and impassioned invectives against Sabbath violation? Who can forget the fanatical clamor of the Protestant ministers throughout the length and breadth of the land, against opening the gates of the World's Fair on Sunday? The thousands of petitions, signed by millions, to save the Lord's Day from desecration? Surely, such general and widespread excitement and noisy remonstrance could not have existed without the strongest grounds for such animated protests.
And when quarters where assigned at the World's Fair to the various sects of Protestantism for the exhibition of articles, who can forget the emphatic expression of virtuous and conscientious indignation exhibited by our Presbyterian brethren, as soon as they learned of the decision of the Supreme Court not to interfere in the Sunday opening? The newspapers informed us that they flatly refused to utilize the space accorded them, or open their boxes, demanding the right to withdraw the articles, in rigid adherence to their principles, and thus decline all contact with the sacrilegious and Sabbath-breaking Exhibition.
Doubtless, our Calvinistic brethren deserved and shared the sympathy of all the other sects, who, however, lost the opportunity of posing as martyrs in vindication of the Sabbath observance.
They thus became "a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men," although their Protestant brethren, who failed to share the monopoly, were uncharitably and enviously disposed to attribute their steadfast adherence to religious principle, to Pharisaical pride and dogged obstinacy.
Our purpose in throwing off this article, is to shed such light on this all-important question (for were the Sabbath question to be removed from the Protestant pulpit, the sects would feel lost, and the preachers be deprived of their "Cheshire cheese") that our readers may be able to comprehend the question in all its bearings, and thus reach a clear conviction.
The Christian world is, morally speaking united on the question and practice of worshipping God on the first day of the week.
The Israelites, scattered all over the earth, keep the last day of the week sacred to the worship of the Deity. In the particular, the Seventh-day Adventists have also selected the same day.
The Israelites and Adventists both appeal to the Bible for the divine command, persistently obliging the strict observance of Saturday.
The Israelite respects the authority of the Old Testament only, but the Adventist, who is a Christian, accepts the New Testament on the same ground as the Old; vis., an inspired record also. He finds that the Bible, his teacher, is consistent in both parts, that the Redeemer, during His mortal life, never kept any other day than Saturday. The Gospels plainly evince to him this fact; whilst, in the pages of the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Apocalypse, not the vestige of an act canceling the Saturday arrangement can be found.
The Adventists, therefore, in common with the Israelites, derive their belief from the Old Testament, which position is confirmed by the New Testament, endorsing fully by the life and practice of the Redeemer and His apostles the teaching of the Sacred Word for nearly a century of the Christian era.
Numerically considered, the Seventh-Day Adventists form an insignificant [at the time of this writing] portion of the Protestant population of the earth, but, as the question is not one of numbers, but of truth, fact, and right, a strict sense of justice forbids the condemnation of this little sect without a calm and unbiased investigation; this is none of our funeral.
The Protestant world has been, from its infancy, in the sixteenth century, in thorough accord with the Catholic Church, in keeping "holy," not Saturday, but Sunday. The discussion of the grounds that led to this unanimity of sentiment and practice for over 300 years, must help toward placing Protestantism on a solid basis in this particular, should the arguments in favor if its position overcome those furnished by the Israelites and Adventists, the Bible, the sole recognized teacher of both litigants, being the umpire and witness. If, however, on the other hand, the latter furnish arguments, incontrovertible by the great mass of Protestants, both classes of litigants, appealing the their common teacher, the Bible, the great body of Protestants, so far from clamoring, as they do with vigorous pertinacity for the strict keeping of Sunday, have no other resource left than the admission that they have been teaching and practicing what is Scripturally false for over three centuries, by adopting the teaching and practice of what they have always pretended to believe an apostate church, contrary to every warrant and teaching of sacred Scripture. To add to the intensity of this Scriptural and unpardonable blunder, it involves on of the most positive and emphatic commands of God to His servant, man: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
No Protestant living today has ever yet obeyed that command, preferring to follow the apostate church referred to than his teacher, the Bible, which, from Genesis to Revelation, teaches no other doctrine, should the Israelites and the Seventh-day Adventists be correct. Both sides appeal to the Bible as their "infallible" teacher. Let the Bible decide whether Saturday or Sunday be the day enjoined by God. One of the two bodies must be wrong, and, whereas a false position on this all-important question involves terrible penalties, threatened by God Himself, against the transgressor of this "perpetual covenant," we shall enter on the discussion of the merits of the arguments wielded by both sides. Neither is the discussion of this paramount subject above the capacity of ordinary minds, nor does it involve extraordinary study. It resolves itself into a few plain questions easy of solution:
1st. Which day of the week does the Bible enjoin to be kept holy?
2nd. Had the New Testament modified by precept or practice the original command?
3rd. Have Protestants, since the sixteenth century, obeyed the command of God by keeping "holy" the day enjoined by their infallible guide and teacher, the Bible? And if not, why not?
To the above three questions we pledge ourselves to furnish
as many answers, which cannot fail to vindicate the truth and uphold the
deformity of error.
[From the Catholic Mirror of Sept. 9, 1893.]
"But faith, fanatic faith, once wedded fast To some dear
falsehood, hugs it to the last." -Moore.
Conformably to our promise in our last issue, we proceed to unmask one of the most flagrant errors and most unpardonable inconsistencies of the Biblical rule of faith. Lest, however, we be misunderstood, we deem it necessary to premise that Protestantism recognizes no rule of faith, no teacher, save the "infallible Bible." As the Catholic yields his judgment in spiritual matters implicitly, and with unreserved confidence, to the voice of his church, so, too, the Protestant recognized no teacher but the Bible. All his spirituality is derived from its teachings. It is to him the voice of God addressing him through his sole inspired teacher. It embodies his religion, his faith, and his practice. The language of Chillingworth, "The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is the religion of Protestants," is only one form of the same idea multifariously convertible into other forms, such as "the Book of God," "the Charter of Our Salvation," "the Oracle of Our Christian Faith," "God's Text-Book to the race of Mankind," etc., etc. It is then, an incontrovertible fact that the Bible alone is the teacher of Protestant Christianity. Assuming this fact, we will now proceed to discus the merits of the question involved in our last issue.
Recognizing what is undeniable, the fact of a direct contradiction between the teaching and practice of Protestant Christianity - the Seventh-day Adventists excepted - on the one hand, and that of the Jewish people on the other, both observing different days of the week for the worship of God, we will proceed to take the testimony of the only available witness in the premises; vis., the testimony of the teacher common to both claimants, the Bible. The fist expression which we come in contact in the Sacred Word, is found in Genesis 2:2 "And on the seventh day He [God] rested from all His work which He had Made." The next reference to this matter is to be found in Exodus 20, where God commanded the seventh day to be kept, because He had Himself rested from the work of creation on that day; and the sacred text informs us that for that reason He desired it kept, in the following words "Wherefore, the Lord blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." [Of course the scriptures quoted throughout this work are from the Douay, or Catholic Version] Again, we read in chapter 31, verse 15 "Six day you shall do work; in the seventh day is the Sabbath, the rest holy to the Lord;" sixteenth verse "It is an everlasting covenant," "and a perpetual sign," "for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and in the seventh He ceased from work."
In the old Testament, reference is made one hundred and twenty-six times to the Sabbath, and all these texts conspire harmoniously in voicing the will of God commanding the seventh day to be kept, because God Himself first kept it, making it obligatory on all as "a perpetual covenant." Nor can we imagine any one foolhardy enough to question the identity of Saturday with the Sabbath or seventh day, seeing that the people of Israel have been keeping the Saturday from the giving of the law A.M. 2514 to A.D. 1893, a period of 3383 years. With the example of the Israelites before our eyes today, there is no historical fact better established than that referred to; vix., that the chosen people of God, the guardians of the Old Testament, the living representatives of the only divine religion hitherto, had for a period of 1490 years anterior to Christianity, preserved by weekly practice the living tradition of the correct interpretation of the special day of the week, Saturday, to be kept "holy to the Lord," which tradition they have extended by their practice to an additional period of 1893 years more, thus covering the full extent of the Christian dispensation. We deem it necessary to be perfectly clear on this point, for reasons that will appear more fully hereafter. The Bible - the Old Testament - confirmed by the living tradition of a weekly practice for 3383 years by the chosen people of God, teaches then, with absolute certainty, that God had, Himself, named the day to be "kept holy to Him," - that day was Saturday, and that any violation of that command was punishable with death. "keep you My Sabbath, for it is holy unto you; he that shall profane it shall be put to death; he that shall do any work in it, his soul shall perish in the midst of his people." Exodus 31:14.
It is impossible to realize a more severe penalty than that so solemnly uttered by God Himself in the above text, on all who violate a command referred to no less that one hundred and twenty-sex times in the old law. The ten commandments of the Old Testament are formally impressed on the memory of the child of the Biblical Christian as soon as possible, but there is not one of the ten made more emphatically familiar, both in Sunday school and pulpit, than that of keeping "holy" the Sabbath day.
Having secured with absolute certainty the will of God as regards the day to be kept holy, from His Sacred Word, because He rested on that day, which day is confirmed to us by the practice of His chosen people for thousands of years, we are naturally induced to inquire when and where God changed the day for His worship; for it is patent to the world that a change of day has taken place, and inasmuch as no indication of such change can be found within the pages of the Old Testament, nor in the practice of the Jewish people who continue for nearly nineteen centuries of Christianity obeying the written command, we must look to the exponent of the Christian dispensation; vis., the New Testament, for the command of God canceling the old Sabbath, Saturday.
We now approach a period covering little short of nineteen centuries, and preceed to investigate whether the supplemental divine teacher - the New Testament - contains a decree canceling the mandate of the old law, and, at the same time, substituting a day for the divinely instituted Sabbath of the old law, vis., Saturday; for, inasmuch as Saturday was the day kept and ordered to be kept by God, divine authority alone, under the form of a canceling decree, could abolish the Saturday covenant, and another divine mandate, appointing by name another day to be kept "holy," other than Saturday, is equally necessary to satisfy the conscience of the Christian believer. The Bible being the only teacher recognized by the Biblical Christian, the Old Testament failing to point out a change of day, and yet another day than Saturday being kept "holy" by the Biblical world, it is surely incumbent on the reformed Christian to point out in the pages of the New Testament the new divine decree repealing that of Saturday and substituting that of Sunday, kept by Biblicals since the dawn of the Reformation.
Examining the New Testament from cover to cover, critically, we find the Sabbath referred to sixty-one times. We find, too, that the Saviour invariably selected the Sabbath (Saturday) to teach in the synagogues and work miracles. The four Gospels refer to the Sabbath (Saturday) fifty-one times.
In one instance the Redeemer refers to Himself as "the Lord of the Sabbath," as mentioned by Matthew, Luke, and Mark, but during the whole record of His life, whilst invariably keeping and utilizing the day (Saturday), He never once hinted at a desire to change it. His apostles and personal friends afford to us a striking instance of their scrupulous observance of it after His death, and, whilst His body was yet in the tomb, Luke 23:56 informs us "And they returned and prepared spices and ointments, and rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment." "But on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came, bringing the spices they had prepared Good Friday evening, because "the Sabbath drew near" verse 54. This action on the part of the personal friends of the Saviour, proves beyond contradiction that after His death they kept "holy" the Saturday, and regarded Sunday as any other day of the week. Can anything, therefore, be more conclusive than that the apostles and the holy women never knew Sabbath but Saturday, up to the very day of Christ's death?
We now approach the investigation of this interesting question for the next thirty years, as narrated by the evangelist, St. Luke, in his Acts of the Apostles. Surely some vestige of the canceling act can be discovered in the practice of the apostles during that protracted period.
But, alas! We are once more doomed to disappointment. Eight times do we find the Sabbath referred to in the Acts, but it is the Saturday (the old Sabbath). Should our readers desire the proof, we refer them to the chapter and verse in each instance. Acts 13:14,27,42,44 ; Acts 15:21; Acts 16:13; Acts 17:2; Acts 1:4. "And he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks." Thus the Sabbath (Saturday) from Genesis to Revelation!!! Thus, it is impossible to find in the New Testament the slightest interference by the Saviour or His apostles with the original Sabbath, but on the contrary, an entire acquiescence in the original arrangement; nay, a plenary endorsement by Him, whilst living; and an unvaried, active participation in the keeping of that day and no other by the apostles, for thirty years after His death, as the Acts of the Apostles has abundantly testified to us.
Hense the conclusion is inevitable; vis., that of those who
follow the Bible as their guide, the Israelites and Seventh-day Adventists
have the exclusive weight of evidence on their side, whilst the Biblical
Protestant has not a word in self-defense for his substitution of Sunday
for Saturday. More anon.