In the movements now in progress in the United States to secure for the institutions and usages of the church the support of the state, Protestants are following in the steps of papists. Nay, more, they are opening the door for the papacy to regain in Protestant America the supremacy which she has lost in the Old World. And that which gives greater significance to this movement is the fact that the principal object contemplated is the enforcement of Sunday observance—a custom which originated with Rome, and which she claims as the sign of her authority. It is the spirit of the papacy—the spirit of conformity to worldly customs, the veneration for human traditions above the commandments of God—that is permeating the Protestant churches and leading them on to do the same work of Sunday exaltation which the papacy has done before them.
If the reader would understand the agencies to be employed in the soon-coming contest, he has but to trace the record of the means which Rome employed for the same object in ages past. If he would know how papists and Protestants united will deal with those who reject their dogmas, let him see the spirit which Rome manifested toward the Sabbath and its defenders.
Royal edicts, general councils, and church ordinances sustained by secular power were the steps by which the pagan festival attained its position of honor in the Christian world. The first public measure enforcing Sunday observance was the law enacted by Constantine. (A.D. 321; see Appendix note for page 53.) This edict required townspeople to rest on “the venerable day of the sun,” but permitted countrymen to continue their agricultural pursuits. Though virtually a heathen statute, it was enforced by the emperor after his nominal acceptance of Christianity.
The royal mandate not proving a sufficient substitute for divine authority, Eusebius, a bishop who sought the favor of princes, and who was the special friend and flatterer of Constantine, advanced the claim that Christ had transferred the Sabbath to Sunday. Not a single testimony of the Scriptures was produced in proof of the new doctrine. Eusebius himself unwittingly acknowledges its falsity and points to the real authors of the change. “All things,” he says, “whatever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s Day.”—Robert Cox, Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties, page 538. But the Sunday argument, groundless as it was, served to embolden men in trampling upon the Sabbath of the Lord. All who desired to be honored by the world accepted the popular festival.
As the papacy became firmly established, the work of Sunday exaltation was continued. For a time the people engaged in agricultural labor when not attending church, and the seventh day was still regarded as the Sabbath. But steadily a change was effected. Those in holy office were forbidden to pass judgment in any civil controversy on the Sunday. Soon after, all persons, of whatever rank, were commanded to refrain from common labor on pain of a fine for freemen and stripes in the case of servants. Later it was decreed that rich men should be punished with the loss of half of their estates; and finally, that if still obstinate they should be made slaves. The lower classes were to suffer perpetual banishment.
Miracles also were called into requisition. Among other wonders it was reported that as a husbandman who was about to plow his field on Sunday cleaned his plow with an iron, the iron stuck fast in his hand, and for two years he carried it about with him, “to his exceeding great pain and shame.”—Francis West, Historical and Practical Discourse on the Lord’s Day, page 174.
Later the pope gave directions that the parish priest should admonish the violators of Sunday and wish them to go to church and say their prayers, lest they bring some great calamity on themselves and neighbors. An ecclesiastical council brought forward the argument, since so widely employed, even by Protestants, that because persons had been struck by lightning while laboring on Sunday, it must be the Sabbath. “It is apparent,” said the prelates, “how high the displeasure of God was upon their neglect of this day.” An appeal was then made that priests and ministers, kings and princes, and all faithful people “use their utmost endeavors and care that the day be restored to its honor, and, for the credit of Christianity, more devoutly observed for the time to come.”—Thomas Morer, Discourse in Six Dialogues on the Name, Notion, and Observation of the Lord’s Day, page 271.
The decrees of councils proving insufficient, the secular authorities were besought to issue an edict that would strike terror to the hearts of the people and force them to refrain from labor on the Sunday. At a synod held in Rome, all previous decisions were reaffirmed with greater force and solemnity. They were also incorporated into the ecclesiastical law and enforced by the civil authorities throughout nearly all Christendom. (See Heylyn, History of the Sabbath, pt. 2, ch. 5, sec. 7.) GC 573.1 – GC 575.3
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.” Expecting to see Jesus at the Passover, the Pharisees had laid a trap for him. But Jesus, knowing their purpose, had absented himself from this gathering. “Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes.” As he did not go to them, they came to him.
This deputation was sent from Jerusalem for the express purpose of watching Jesus, that something might be found with which to accuse him. The Pharisees saw that the disciples did not observe diligently the traditions of the elders. They did not practise the custom of “washing of cups and pots, brazen vessels, and of tables.” Hoping to provoke a controversy, the Pharisees said to Christ, “Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?” They thought to draw from Christ words of which they could make capital. But he answered them with authority, while divinity was revealed with startling power: “Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.”
Christ gave them an example of what they were repeatedly doing, and had done just before coming in search of him. “Full well ye reject the commandment of God,” he said, “that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: but ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do aught for his father or his mother.” They set aside the fifth commandment as of no consequence, but were very exact in carrying out the tradition of the elders. The sayings of supposed great men had been handed down from rabbi to rabbi, nullifying the plain requirements of God, “making the word of God of none effect,” said Christ; “and many other such like things ye do.”
“And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand.” He spoke with no hesitation, but with authority, as one who would flash light upon all around him. “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” These words, spoken in the hearing of the multitude, infuriated the ecclesiastical powers. The cavilers were seeking to destroy Christ’s influence over the people, but he flashed forth such divine truth that they dared not ask him further questions. Christ knew that if he could speak directly to the people, opening to them the Scriptures, he would be heard; for they were in a far more receptive frame of mind than were the leaders. The punishment would fall upon those who were leading them from the path of rectitude. The people listened eagerly to all that Christ said; for never before had they heard such words. They were plain, direct, forcible, and brief, and clearly defined the true meaning of sin and pollution.
The Pharisees had given expression to their hatred, but they dared not then carry out their full purpose. They slunk away, repulsed. They would not receive the light shining on their pathway. When the light shines forth, those who are unwilling to receive it begin to cultivate in the heart the seeds of bitterness. These they also plant in other hearts. This evil seed prepares a place for itself, and the unconverted heart sees everything in a perverted light. So it was with the Pharisees.
“Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” Christ knows the hearts of all men. Nothing is hid from him. “He answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” “For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed. Therefore the Lord shall have no joy in their young men, neither shall have mercy on their fatherless and widows; for every one is an hypocrite and an evil-doer, and every mouth speaketh folly.”
“Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draft? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
In this our day we meet the same false religious requirements upheld by the Pharisees. The fourth precept of the decalogue is set aside, as the Jews set aside the fifth commandment, while traditions are eagerly grasped and enforced. The Lord did not give the Jews their multitudinous traditions and ceremonies. He did not require them to occupy precious time in doing that which was of no benefit to any one, while they disregarded his commands; neither has he commanded men to observe the first day of the week.
To a large degree the religious world is following in the path of the Jews. The Pharisees taught for doctrine the commandments of men, making the word of God void by their traditions, and this the teachers of today are doing by upholding the first day of the week,—a day that bears not the divine credentials. They clothe their false Sabbath with a garb of sanctity, and many would compel its observance by imprisonment and fine. Under the enemy’s training, their zeal will grow until, like the Jews, they will think they are doing God a service by heaping reproach on those who have the moral courage to keep his commandments.
Those who do this venture to make of none effect a commandment instituted in Eden; for there, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy, the foundation of the Sabbath was laid, and the seventh day was set apart to be observed as sacred. The Lord blessed this day as the day of his rest, and sanctified it, commanding man to “remember.” Do not forget it; keep it holy.
Man has no permission from God to nullify one precept of the decalogue. He has no permission to lead the minds of others to bow to an idol, or to make laws compelling God’s heritage to worship that which is false. Of those who do this, God says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” They place the commandments of men on a level with the divine requirements; yea more, they exalt a spurious Sabbath above the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. Their obedience to man-made requirements makes their worship null and void; but God bears with their ignorance till light comes to them.
The worship of a common working-day, and the multitudinous ceremonies connected with this false sabbath, are of the same nature as the wrongs pointedly exposed by Christ when he said, “And many other such like things ye do.” The plain evidence of truth is not discerned. Laying aside the commandments of God as altogether unimportant, men follow tradition. They reject God’s law, in order that they may keep their tradition. Common things are exalted above those things that are sacred and heavenly.
Satan has taken the world captive. He has introduced an idol sabbath, apparently giving to it great importance. He has stolen the homage of the Christian world away from the Sabbath of the Lord for this idol sabbath. The world bows to a tradition, a man-made commandment. As Nebuchadnezzar set up his golden image on the plain of Dura, and so exalted himself, so Satan exalts himself in this false sabbath, for which he has stolen the livery of heaven.
In this work the principles of the enemy are deep and deceiving, and Christ’s words are appropriate, “Laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men.” The heavenly universe is amazed that, in their credulity, men transfer the benediction given to the seventh day to the first day of the week. The Sabbath is God’s memorial of creation and rest, and at the beginning of the Sabbath command he places the word of warning, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.” Thus it was with the Jewish nation, and thus it will be with all who, laying aside the commandments of God, teach for doctrine the commandments of men. RH March 8, 1898, par. 1 – RH March 8, 1898, par. 14
Italian archaeologists have unearthed 24 beautifully preserved bronze statues in Tuscany believed to date back to ancient Roman times.
The statues were discovered under the muddy ruins of an ancient bathhouse in San Casciano dei Bagni, a hilltop town in the Siena province, about 160km (100 miles) north of the capital Rome.
Depicting Hygieia, Apollo and other Greco-Roman gods, the figures are said to be around 2,300 years old.
One expert said the find could “rewrite history”.
Most of the statues – which were found submerged beneath the baths alongside around 6,000 bronze, silver and gold coins – date to between the 2nd Century BC and the 1st Century AD. The era marked a period of “great transformation in ancient Tuscany” as the area transitioned from Etruscan to Roman rule, the Italian culture ministry said.
Jacopo Tabolli, an assistant professor from the University for Foreigners in Siena who leads the dig, suggested that the statues had been immersed in thermal waters in a sort of ritual. “You give to the water because you hope that the water gives something back to you,” he observed.
The statues, which were preserved by the water, will be taken to a restoration laboratory in nearby Grosseto, before eventually being put on display in a new museum in San Casciano.
Massimo Osanna, director general of Italy’s state museums, said the discovery was the most important since the Riace Bronzes and “certainly one of the most significant bronze finds ever made in the history of the ancient Mediterranean”. The Riace Bronzes – discovered in 1972 – depict a pair of ancient warriors. They are believed to date back to around 460-450BC.
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