Dear Brother Beebe: – In a former letter I requested your views on the Sabbath: I wish to urge you to comply with that request, not alone for my sake, but it is the earnest wish of many brethren. Not for speculation, but alone for the truth’s sake. We want to know why the change was made from Saturday to Sunday; and, by whom it was made and for what purpose? If the Sabbath was typical, what is its anti-type?
John E. Frost.
May 7, 1867.
Reply: – We have so frequently given our views on the subject of the Sabbath that we have felt a delicacy in inflicting them again on those who may have kept a file of the former volumes of the “Signs”. But as brother Frost and others with him make the request, and probably have not heard from us on the subject, we will briefly reply to those points on which they desire to be enlightened.
First, Why was the Sabbath day changed from the seventh to the first day of the week?
Second, By whom was it so changed?
Third, For what purpose was the change made?
Fourth, If the Sabbath was typical, of what was it a type?
The third and first inquiry as stated above cover the same ground. The why, and the wherefore, must be the same. As the Scriptures are silent in regard to any change, we must seek elsewhere for any reasons. Modern Sabbatarians say that it is because the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ occurred on the first day of the week, and that the day was changed from the seventh to the first in honor of that glorious event. If the Scriptures anywhere confirmed this testimony, it would settle the matter conclusively, with all who take the Scriptures as the man of their counsel and standard of their faith and practice; but unhappily for their theory, the Bible not only fails to establish their position, but utterly fails to show that a Sabbath, either seventh or first day, was ever given by any divine authority to the Gentiles, or to any people under heaven but the children of Israel. God, by Moses, enjoined the observance of the seventh day of every week on the children of Israel, when they were gathering manna in the wilderness. That was the first mention made of a Sabbath day in the volume of divine revelation.
God told the children of Israel, or commanded Moses, saying, “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you” (Exodus 31:13,14).
Read it to the end of the chapter. Here is a positive command from God to the children of Israel, by which they were to be separated and distinguished from all other people as a sign throughout all their generations. If there can be found in either the Old or New Testament, in law or gospel, a like command of God, enjoining the observance of that, or any other day to be observed by any other nation or people, let such authority be produced.
If such command could be found, how would that day or its observance distinguish the children of Israel from all others of mankind?
The reason which God assigned for appointing the seventh day, in distinction from all other days, is given in the seventeenth verse of the same chapter, as well as in the decalogue.
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth; and rested on the seventh day.”
So that the day commanded to be observed as a Sabbath could no more be changed than the days on which God made heaven and earth, or the day on which he rested can be changed. To ascertain then why, or for what purpose the day was changed, we must apply to those who changed it; and they will probably be found in that numerous and popular family connection which was charged by our Lord with making void God’s law by their traditions, and of teaching for doctrine the commandments of men.
If in the absence of positive data we may be allowed to speculate, the most probable object or design of those who assumed the right to make the change was, first, to so accommodate their religion to Pagan forms and customs as to secure popularity, and avoid persecution.
And secondly, by setting apart one day in seven as more sacred, and better adapted to the public administration of the world and worship of God than any other, they might secure places and business for a far greater number of their clergy. As, for instance, if one day were regarded as good as another, and any day in the week appropriate for the public assembling of the churches, one minister could supply ministerially seven churches one day in each week by a proper arrangement of appointments. Each church could set apart one day without interfering with the appointments of the others.
Another reason may probably have been to have a pretext for calling on human governments to legalize their day, and by fines and penalties compel the people to lay aside their avocations and attend their ministry.
Thirdly, so far as history gives any light on the question, by whom was it changed, we gather that the adoption of the first day for the seventh was by professed Christians. They had in many other things become greatly corrupted some three hundred years after the organization of the gospel church. In that three hundred years, so far as we are informed, no legal Sabbath had been observed or allowed. Those nominal professors of Christianity who have assumed to be the church, in compliance with the superstitions of the Pagans who worshiped the sun, and fire, etc., by whom the first day had been set apart as a holy day, and called Sunday, adopted it as a Christian Sabbath. The adoption of it was afterwards confirmed by Papists, and subsequently by Protestants.
Fourthly, the last point of inquiry submitted is in relation to the typical import of the legal Sabbath, as given to the children of Israel.
Israel being a typical people, all the ordinances and ritual enjoined on them must necessarily typify something peculiar to that people of which Israel was the type. The apostles have settled the point as to what the people of Israel were the type of. Under the gospel dispensation, he is a Jew, or Israelite, who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit. And the church over which Christ is King, and his apostles are seated on thrones of judgment, are, spiritually speaking, the twelve tribes of Israel.
To the gospel church, as God’s sign by which they shall be known in distinction from all the work-mongrel tribes of anti-christ, God has given his anti-typical Sabbath of perfect rest; which remains for the people of God, and for them alone.
The wicked are like the troubled sea that cannot rest; and of whom God hath sworn that they shall not enter into his rest. The anti-typical Sabbath is more clearly defined and illustrated in the third and fourth chapters of the epistle to the Hebrews than it can be by any thing that can be said or written by us.
Those only who are born of God can have that faith which is the fruit of the Spirit and the gift of God; and none who have not that faith can enter into this anti-typical Sabbath of rest.
“For we which have believed do enter into rest.”
“For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”
That is as in the works of creation, as alluded to in the fourth verse. In this gospel Sabbath to believers, they cease from working, from thinking their own thoughts, and from speaking their own words. All their cares are cast on him who careth for them. They kindle no fires (give up no revivals for themselves), gather no fuel to warm or enlighten themselves; but keep their Sabbath holy; relying on God for everything. And in this they differ from all other people; and hence it is a sign between God and His peculiar people.
None but His peculiar people who believe can possibly enter into, enjoy, or keep this Sabbath; nor can even the saints only so far as their faith triumphs over their fears and doubts. For them to doubt and fear, and disbelieve, and reason with themselves, and think their own thoughts, or speak their own words, or kindle fires of their own, or walk in the light of fires they have kindled, is Sabbath-breaking; and while thus transgressing they cannot rest. The Sabbath is not one day in the week, but it is at all times alike with the believer.
In the order of the type, “Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work,” etc., refers, first, to the law or legal dispensation which preceded the gospel dispensation, in which all their work was exacted; but legal works may not be done in the gospel day. So also in the personal experience of every saint, in their convictions, they labor and do all their legal works; but when faith in Christ as their resting place is given them, their Sabbath then begins, and they enter into his rest. Let us labor to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the example of those restless unbelieving Israelites, who could not enter into rest because of unbelief, and whose carcasses fell in the wilderness.
October 1, 1867.