Restore >> Library >> Time for Joy contents >> article 11: The Sabbath Across the Centuries ...
THE SABBATH ACROSS THE CENTURIES
1ST CENTURY AD
"For almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries [Lord's supper] on the Sabbath of every week." Socrates Scholasticus, Eccl. History
"Then the spiritual seed of Abraham [Christians] fled to Pella, on the other side of Jordan, where they found a safe place of refuge, and could serve their Master and keep His Sabbath." Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History.
Philo, the philosopher and historian, affirms that this Sabbath was on the seventh-day of the week.
"The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons... They derived this practice from the Apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to that purpose." D. T H. Morer (Church of England) Dialogues on the Lord's Day, London, 1701.
2ND, 3RD, 4TH CENTURIES
"From the apostles' time until the Council of Laodicea [364 AD], the holy observation of the Jews' Sabbath continued, as may be proved out of many authors: yea, notwithstanding the decree of the council against it." John Ley, Sunday A Sabbath, London, 1640.
"As early as 225 A.D. there existed large Sabbath-keeping bishoprics or conferences of the Church of the East stretching from Palestine to India." Mingana, Early Spread of Christianity.
"In the church of Milan (Italy) it seems that the Saturday was held in a fair esteem. Not that the Eastern churches or any of the rest which observed that day, were inclined to Judaism; but that they came together on the Sabbath day to worship Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath." Dr. Peter Heylyn, History of the Sabbath, London, 1636.
"For more than 17 centuries the Abyssinian Church continued to sanctify Saturday as the holy day of the 4th commandment." Ambrose de Morbius.
"Ambrose, the celebrated bishop of Milan, said that when he was in Milan he observed Saturday, but when in Rome observed Sunday. This gave rise to the proverb, 'When you are in Rome, do as Rome does."' Heylyn, History of the Sabbath
Persia 335-375 A.D. "They [the Christians] despise our sun-god. Did not Zoroaster, the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honor of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament? Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday." O'Leary, The Syriac Church and Fathers.
"Augustine [whose testimony is made the more impressive by his being a committed Sunday-keeper] shows.. that the [seventh-day] Sabbath was observed in his day 'in the greater part of the Christian world."' Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 1st series, voL 1, pp. 353, 354
"Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church." Lyman Coleman, Ancient Christianity Exemplified , p. 526.
"In 411 [Mingana, leader of the Eastern Churches] appointed a metropolitan director for China. These churches were sanctifying the seventh day." J. F. Colthart, The Sabbath Through The Centuries, p. 11.
"In this latter instance they [the Scottish Church] seem to have foflowed a custom of which we find traces in the early monastic church of Ireland by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labors." W. T. Skene, Adamnan's Lfe of St. Columba, 1874, p. 96.
On Columba of lona: "Having continued his labors in Scotland thirty-four years, he clearly and openly foretold his death, and on Saturday, June ninth, said to his disciple Diermit: 'This is the day called the Sabbath, that is, the rest day, and such it will truly be to me; for it will put an end to my labors."' Butler's Lives of the Saints, article on "St. Columba."
"It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday ... as a day of rest from labor. They obeyed the fourth commandment literally on the seventh day of the week." Jas. C. Moffatt, The Chutch In Scotland.
From Gregory I, Pope of Rome 590-604: "Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disserninated among you things depraved and opposed to the holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath. What shall I call them except preachers of anti-christ?"
India, China, Persia, etc. "Widespread and enduring was the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath among the believers of the Church of the East and the St. Thomas Christians of India, who never were connected with Rome. It was also maintained among those bodies which broke off from Rome after the Council of Chalcedon, namely the Abyssinians, the Jacobites, the Marionites, and the Armenians." New Schaff Hertog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, article "Nestorians."
"On the seventh day we offer sacrifices, after having purified our hearts, and receive absolution for our sins. This religion, so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to name, but it enlightens darkness by its brilliant precepts." China, 781 A.D. The China Monument
"Pope Nicholas I, in the ninth century, sent the ruling prince of Bulgaria a long document saying in it that one is to cease from work on Sunday, but not on the Sabbath. The head of the Greek Church, offended at the interference of the papacy, declared the Pope excommunicated." B. G. Wilkinson, Ph.D., Truth Triumphant, p. 232.
"The Nestorians eat no pork and keep the Sabbath. They believe neither in auricular confession nor purgatory." New Schaff Hertog Encyclopedia, article, "Nestorians."
"Margaret of Scotland in 1060 attempted to bring ruin to Columba's spiritual descendants by moving against those who observed the seventh-day Sabbath instead of Sunday." Reported by T. R. Barnett in Margaret of Scotland; Queen and Saint, p. 97.
Concerning the separation of the Greek Church from the Latin Church in 1054: "The observance of the Saturday, is, as everyone knows, the subject of bitter dispute between the Greeks and the Latins." J.M. Neale, A History of the Holy Eastern Church, voL 1, p. 731.
"Traces of Sabbath-keepers are found in.. the twelfth century in Lombardy."Strong's Encyclopedia.
On the Waldenses of 1120: "Observance of the Sabbath.. is enjoined." Blair, History of the Waldenses, vol.1, p. 220.
France: "For twenty years Peter de Bruys stirred southern France. He especially emphasized a day of worship that was recognized at that time among the Celtic churches of the British Isles, among the Paulicians, and in the great Church of the east, namely, that seventh day of the fourth commandment." Coltheart; p. 18
"Canons Against Sabbathkeepers, Council of Toulouse, 1229: Canon 3. The lords of the different districts shall have the villas, houses, and woods diligently searched, and the hiding places of the heretics destroyed. Canon 4. Lay members are not allowed to possess the books of either the Old or the New Testaments:" Hefele.
"The Paulicians, Petrobusians, Passaginians, Waldenses, Insabbatati were great Sabbath-keeping bodies of Europe down to 1250." Coltheart, p. 19.
"In 1310, two hundred years before Luther's theses, the Bohemian brethren constituted one-fourth of the population of Bohemia, and were in touch with the Waldenses who abounded in Austria, Lombardy, Bohemia, north Germany, Thuringia, Brandenburg, and Moravia. Erasmus pointed out how strictly Bohemian Waldenses kept the seventh day Sabbath." Robert Cox, The Literature of the Sabbath Question, vol.2, pp. 201, 202.
Norway: "Also the priests have caused the people to keep Saturdays as Sundays." Theological Periodicals For the Evangelical Church in Norway," vol.1, p. 184.
"Erasmus testifies that even as late as about 1500 these Bohemians not only kept the seventh day scrupulously, but were also called Sabbatarians." R. Cox. op. cit.
Norway, Catholic Provincial Council at Bergen, 1435: "We are informed that some people in different districts of the kingdom, have adopted and observed Sabbath-keeping. It is severely forbidden -- in holy church canon -- one and all to observe holy days excepting those which the holy Pope, archbishop, or bishops command. Saturday-keeping must under no circumstances be permitted hereafter further than the church canon cornmands. Therefore we counsel all the friends of God throughout Norway who want to be obedient towards the holy church to let this evil of Saturday-keeping alone; and the rest we forbid under penalty of severe church punishment to keep Saturday holy." Dip. Norveg., 7, 397.
Norway, 1544: "Some of you, contrary to the warning, keep Saturday. You ought to be severely punished. Whoever shall be found keeping Saturday must pay a fine of ten marks." Krag and Stephanius, History of King Christian III.
Liechtenstein: "The Sabbatarians teach that the outward Sabbath, i.e., Saturday, must still be observed. They say that Sunday [as the weekly day of worship] is the Pope's invention." Wolfgang Capito, Refutation of the Sabbath, c. 1590.
India: "The famous Jesuit, Francis Xavier, called for the Inquisition, which was set up in Goa, India. in 1560, to check 'the Jewish wickedness, Sabbath-keeping."' Adeney, The Greek and Eastern Churches, pp. 527, 528.
Abyssinia: "It is not in imitation of the Jews, but in obedience to Christ and His holy apostles, that we observe that day [the Sabbath]." From an Abyssinian legate at the court of Lisbon, 1534, quoted in Geddes's Church History of Ethiopia, pp. 87, 88.
"About 100 Sabbath keeping churches, mostly independent, flourished in England in the 17th and 18th centuries." Dr. Brian W. Ball, The Seventh-Day Men, Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, Clarendon Press, Oxford University, 1994.
[Editor's note: The Sabbath was also kept in various parts of Europe and America.]
Germany: "Tennhardt of Nuremberg holds strictly to the doctrine of the Sabbath, because it is one of the ten commandments." J.A. Bengel, Lehen und Wirken, p. 579.
"Before Zinzendorf and the Moravians at Bethlehem [Pennsylvania] thus began the observance of the Sabbath and prospered, there was a small body of German Sabbath-keepers in Pennsylvania." Rupp, History of the Religious Denominations in the United States.
"The Abyssinians and many continental Europeans, especially in Romania, Bohemia, Moravia, Holland and Germany continued to keep the Sabbath. Wherever the church of Rome predominated these Sabbatarians suffered confiscation of property, fines, imprisonment and execution." Coltheart, p. 26.
China: "The Taipings when asked why they observed the seventh-day Sabbath, replied that it was, first, because the Bible taught it, and second, because their ancestors observed it as a day of worship." "A Critical History of Sabbath and Sunday."
"Thus we see Dan. 7:25 fulfilled, the little horn changing 'times and laws.' Therefore it appears to me that all who keep the first day for the sabbath are the Pope's Sunday-keepers and God's Sabbath-breakers." T.M. Preble, American Seventh Day Baptist, 1845.
[Editor's note: Over ten million Sabbath-keeping Christians worldwide among more than 25 denominations and hundreds of independent Sabbath-keeping congregations.]