Why Leave the Oasis for the Desert?

OPC’n from the Puritan Board makes a great point regarding the Sabbath:

Jesus fulfilled the whole law perfectly in a spiritual and physical manner (His being/spirit/soul was without sin thus he committed no physical/thought-based sin). He fulfilled the law so that his righteousness could be imputed onto us. We don’t turn around then and say, “Well, Christ already fulfilled the whole law for us; therefore, we don’t have to abide by it.”. So why take the 4th commandment and say that of it? And to our detriment I might add. God doesn’t need anything from us. He longs for us to give him the Sabbath so that we can be regenerated from the trying work week. An example I like is a man trudging through a hot, sandy desert all week where he finds small holes of water and food. However, once a week he finds the most beautiful oasis where he can drink and eat his fill, listen to beautiful birds and waterfalls, and lay beneath the shade of giant trees. Why on earth would he want to step out into the hot desert during that day? The Sabbath should be that for us. Why would we want to do our own thing when we get to spend the entire day with God and his ppl?

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/what-would-you-think-on-my-pastors-view-on-the-sabbath.93089/, Comment 8


Wednesday is the New Sunday

Churches are now making up a new Christian Sabbath “day” where God gets a couple hours on a weekday while His ordained day is spent in amusement:

Some churches are even rescheduling their services on weekdays, like those churches in Minnesota that have appointed “Wednesday as the new Sunday,” according to StarTribune
Meanwhile in Minnesota, many families are reportedly abandoning Sunday services to accommodate children’s sports schedules, week-end work shifts or out-of-town travel.

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/why-many-churches-are-dropping-the-11-a-m-sunday-service-and-looking-at-wednesday-as-the-new-sunday-182201/#FL84Lxii1i8XO6bA.99

The Sabbath and the Super Bowl

Mark Jones:

This is not a post that will gain me much popularity, with accusations of legalism bound to happen. If there’s one thing I know from attending a Big Ten school to play soccer, it is this: don’t mess with Americans and their sports. If we don’t think we have a problem with the idolatry of sports then we’re borderline insane.

For those who don’t know, the Super Bowl takes place this coming Lord’s day (330pm PST). Is watching the Super Bowl a good idea on the Lord’s Day? For some, the game may even take them away from church altogether. We’ve gone from Sabbath to Lord’s day to Super Bowl Sunday…

Read more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/01/christians-watching-the-super.php#sthash.WID4rov6.8OR0vcKN.dpuf

How To Cultivate Sabbath Keeping (Beeke)

Joel Beeke on Isaiah 58:13-14:

How to Cultivate Sabbath Keeping


My notes:

  • Keeping the Sabbath = great way to cultivate holiness
  • Once a major part of Western culture but no longer
  • Sabbath = a foretaste of heaven

Four things:

  1. Doctrine
    • Day is not ours; it is the Lord’s
    • Must call it a delight to honor Him
    • Whole day is sacred time devoted to worship
    • If go own way, God says will come under His curse and disfavor
    • Not honoring will desensitize the conscience to all of God’s commandments
    • Isaiah 58 and Genesis 2 are not ceremonial law; Exodus 20 commands to remember it
    • Commandment 4 never taken away
  2. Discipline
    • Self-control needed to not do own pleasure
    • North American Christianity is primarily antinomian – people just want to go to church and be made to feel good and then do what they want the rest of the day
    • Discipline ought to be our delight
    • Don’t indulge your pleasure or preference apart from God’s will
    • We must turn our feet toward God and engage in careful, thoughtful, God-honoring, God-worshiping living
    • Must be disciplined before the day – do work on Saturday so free on Sunday
    • On Sunday, resist the temptation to do other things
    • Ryan McGraw: “Worldy recreations on the Sabbath are no more appropriate than if a groom paused in the middle of his wedding ceremony to check the scores of a football game.”
    • Repent of sinful desires and practices (cf. Amos 8:5)
    • A day to examine ourselves and the direction of our life
  3. Delight
    • Use to glorify and enjoy God
    • A day of exquisite delight, sweet joy
    • A day of blessing to us; a day when God gives us grace as we give Him worship
    • A day free of worldly responsibilities
    • A day to:
      1. Examine ourselves, confess sins, give thanks for our graces
      2. Pray for ourselves and others
      3. Read Scriptures and other sound books
      4. Meditate on God’s truth
      5. Engage in holy conversation with others
      6. Meditate and converse about God’s works in creation and Providence
      7. Sing psalms
      8. Serve people in mercy and love – poor, sick, widows, fatherless, foreigner; make peace with those with whom we have a quarrel, speak gospel
    • Not a day to be idle, but take a nap if necessary
    • Time to feed soul
    • Blessings – spiritual riches, inheritance in eternal kingdom of God
  4. Desire
    • Hopeful anticipation of the eternal Sabbath to come


A Spiritual Work That Requires A Suitable Frame

“As the particular day is specified, we are apprised beforehand of its return, and ought to be in readiness to enter upon the duties of it. “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.” This is not merely a caveat against forgetting the Sabbath when it arrives, or mistaking it for some other day. It must relate to some previous duties preparatory to it. These relate to both civil and religious things. The sanctification of the Sabbath is a spiritual work and requires a suitable frame. This ought to be kept in view, and a proper frame obtained against its return. Every thing that tends to prevent or destroy such a frame, ought to be guarded against. Even the lawful pursuits of the world tend to unhinge the soul, and unfit it for holy duties. The design of the Sabbath, the nature of its duties, and the difficulty of sanctifying it in a proper manner, ought to be frequent subjects of meditation. Secular business ought to be seasonably finished, so as neither to encroach on the Sabbath, nor disqualify the mind for sanctifying it. These would prove happy means of acquiring and improving a suitable frame.”

Source: A TESTIMONY AND WARNING AGAINST SOME PREVAILING SINS AND  IMMORALITIES: ADDRESSED TO CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL, BY THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY, at http://www.truecovenanter.com/reformedpresbyterian/reformed_presbytery_testimony_against_immoralities.html

Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath?

Chris Coldwell:


A remarkably durable anecdote about John Calvin, the great Protestant Reformer of Geneva, is often related by those critical of the Puritan view of the Sabbath.2 The goal seems to be to demonstrate that the Reformers were not tainted with that ‘pharisaical’ of strictness in observance of the Lord’s day – particularly respecting abstinence from otherwise lawful sports and recreations on that day. One Lord’s Day, it is said, the Scottish Reformer John Knox, paid a visit to his friend Calvin in Geneva. The grave Scot found, to his surprise, as the telling would seem to indicate,3 the austere Reformer of Geneva engaged in a game of bowls.4

There appears to be no good reason for the tale’s durability.5 It has been repeated and used uncritically by Seventh-day Adventist apologists,6 Calvin scholars who should know better, as well as by anti-Sabbatarian writers. Even when the tenuous origin of the tale is clearly evident to some of these authors, they still have boldly gone on to draw conclusions from it as if it were factual. Much of this no doubt is due to partisan bias against Calvin, or against strict views of Sabbath keeping, or both. However, surely those who hold to the Reformed faith, and hold the Reformer in esteem, would hesitate to assume as true a tale which runs counter to Calvin’s published opinion? If the Reformer believed that sports and recreations on the Lord’s day were permissible, then this tale would be merely a curiosity. Since that was not his belief, giving countenance to the tale leaves him vulnerable to the charge of inconsistency if not hypocrisy…

  1. Mr. Coldwell is the editor of The Confessional Presbyterian journal, and through Naphtali Press has published critical editions of 17th Century Presbyterian and Reformed books. Some of the more important works are: James Durham, A Treatise Concerning Scandal (1990); Lectures on Job (1995); Sermons on Isaiah 53 (2001); The Ten Commandments (2002); George Gillespie, A Dispute Against the English Popish Ceremonies (1993); and the London Provincial Assembly, Divine Right of Church Government (1995). From 1988 to 1992 he edited and published An Anthology of Presbyterian & Reformed Literature. In recent years he has been working on a critical text of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, and a critical text of the Larger Catechism is appearing serially in The Confessional Presbyterian. A transcription with notes of the two surviving manuscripts of the catechism is under preparation for publication. The author first read of this story in a copy of David Hay Fleming’s Critical Reviews, purchased from David C. Lachman on January 30, 1984, and within a year heard it used by a fresh from seminary licentiate, who had obtained the story from his professor, and in like manner used it to argue against strict confessional Sabbatarianism. He has had an abiding interest in the tale ever since.
  2. This article is not a study of Sabbath views per se. See the following works for analysis of the Puritan and of Calvin’s view. James T. Dennison, The Market Day of the Soul: the Puritan Doctrine of the Sabbath in England 1532-1700 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983). James Gilfillan, The Sabbath viewed in the light of Reason, Revelation, and History, with Sketches of its Literature (New York, [1862]). Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. Calvin and the Sabbath (Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1962). See also the works by John Primus in note 9
  3. Whether Knox is portrayed as surprised seems to depend on whether the author repeating the tale is intent on not only casting Calvin as holding to much ‘looser’ Sabbath views than the Puritans, but the Scottish Reformer as well. The tale varies. One version relates that a chance visitor reported it. Others add that it was a Lord’s day afternoon. One of the most recent and more cautious references to the tale is by Tom Schwanda in his article, “The Unforced Rhythms of Grace, A Reformed Perspective on Sabbath,” Perspectives, vol. 11, no. 3 (March 1996), pp. 14-17. He writes: “While Calvin appears to see recreation as inappropriate for Sundays, a strong oral tradition often repeated insists his actual practice was less severe. I have endeavored to trace the authenticity of this reference to no avail. However, the most frequent references indicate that when John Knox visited Calvin in Geneva he finally found him lawn bowling that Sunday afternoon. Once again it must be acknowledged there are no footnotes to substantiate this possibility.”
  4. Bowls is an old game played on a smooth green lawn with a ball of wood (now made of a composite material). It is rolled with the attempt to make it stop as near as possible to another ball. Hence the term ‘bowling on the green.’ The point is not that the game was an immoral pastime, but unlawful on the Lord’s day. The consensus of Puritan thinking on Sabbath recreations is represented by John Wells. Recreations on a Sabbath day “are impediments to duty…. Now how this should be otherwise, is not easily discernible; so do not recreations posses the mind, divert the intention, withdraw from spiritual duties, hinder the service of Christ, and fill the heart with froth and vanity?” John Wells, The Practical Sabbatarian (London, 1668), p. 28. Calvin’s view is similar.
  5. This is not the only Sabbath related tale that has persisted. Unfortunately, the bowling anecdote is not as easily dismissed as the false accusation that Calvin once had a consultation about changing the Lord’s Day to Thursday. However, even the fact that Calvin’s own words disprove this myth has not stopped it from being repeated as frequently as the bowling tale. See below.
  6. J. N. Andrews, History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week (Steam Press of The Seventh Day Adventist Publishing Association, 1873).

Read more: http://www.naphtali.com/articles/chris-coldwell/calvin-in-the-hands-of-the-philistines-or-did-calvin-bowl-on-the-sabbath/

WLC on the Fourth Commandment

Q115: Which is the fourth commandment?
A115: The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

1. Exod. 20:8-11

Q116: What is required in the fourth commandment?
A116: The fourth commandment requires of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath,[1] and in the New Testament called The Lord’s day.[2]

1. Deut. 5:12, 14, 18; Gen. 2:2-3; I Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:7; Matt. 5:17-18; Isa. 56:2, 4, 6-7
2. Rev. 1:10

Q117: How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?
A117: The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day,[1] not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful;[2] and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to betaken up in works of necessity and mercy)[3] in the public and private exercises of God’s worship:[4] and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.[5]

1. Exod. 20:8, 10
2. Exod. 16:25-28; Neh. 13:15-22; Jer. 17:21-22
3. Matt. 12:1-13
4. Isa. 58:18; 66:23; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1-2; Psa. ch. 92; Lev. 23:3
5. Exod. 16:22, 25-26, 29; 20:8; Luke 23:54, 56; Neh. 13:19

Q118: Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
A118: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.[1]

1. Exod. 20:10; 23:12; Josh. 24:15; Neh. 13:15, 17; Jer. 17:20-22

Q119: What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A119: The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required,[1] all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them;[2] all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful;[3] and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.[4]

1. Ezek. 22:26
2. Acts 15:7, 9; Ezek. 33:30-32; Amos 8:5; Mal. 1:13
3. Ezek. 23:38
4. Jer. 17:24, 27; Isa. 58:13

Q120: What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?
A120: The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words, Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work:[1] from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God:[2] from the example of God, who in six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.[3]

1. Exod. 20:9
2. Exod. 20:10
3. Exod. 20:11

Q121: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?
A121: The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment,[1] partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it,[2] and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments,[3] and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion;[4] and partly, because we are very ready to forget it,[5] for that there is less light of nature for it,[6] and yet it restraineth our natural liberty in things at other times lawful;[7] that it comesthbut once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;[8] and that Satan with his instruments much labor to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.[9]

1. Exod. 20:8
2. Exod. 16:23; Luke 23:54, 56; Mark 15:42; Neh. 13:19
3. Psa. 92:13-14; Ezek. 20:12, 19-20
4. Gen. 2:2-3; Psa. 118:22, 24; Acts 4:10, 11; Rev. 1:10
5. Ezek. 22:26
6. Neh. 9:14
7. Exod. 34:21
8. Deut. 5:14-15; Amos 8:5
9. Lam. 1:7; Jer. 17:21-23; Neh. 13:15-23

Should We Eat At Restaurants On The Lord’s Day?

Joseph Pipa, The Lord’s Day:

This means you should not be going into the office or working in the store on Sunday. You ought not to be doing homework or unnecessary housework. Nor should you cause others to work, so you should avoid eating out, going to the grocery store or the mall, or travelling extensively for business. One increasingly frequent violation is Christian business people and pastors who fly on Sundays, either to be home for work by Monday morning or ready to begin business in some other city. Is such travel using the day for God’s purposes? (p. 20)

In another sense, all of us are indirectly responsible for some employees, specifically the people who are working in service industries and businesses. These people in economic terms work as servants for the consumer. I worked my way through college and seminary by selling shoes. My managers constantly stressed that I was a servant to the customer. Likewise those who serve us in the public sector are our servants. We are to protect their Sabbaths as well as our own. Thus we need to avoid shopping, unnecessary dining out, {5} and recreational activities that cause others to work on the Lord’s day (this would include those events mediated by television, which necessitates hundreds of employees being at work). It is a lame excuse to say, ‘They are going to be there anyway, so it really doesn’t matter what I do.’ You are commanded not to cause others to do unnecessary work. If you use a person’s services, you are partly responsible for that person’s working on the Lord’s day.

{5} I recognize that those who are on trips may have to eat in a public facility on the Lord’s day, even as they may have to stay in a hotel. Interestingly the Puritans recognized this need as well. The Puritan-controlled Parliament in 1644, in a bill to regulate the Sabbath, added: ‘Provided, and be it Declared, That nothing in this Ordinance shall extend to the prohibiting or dressing of Meat in Private Families, or the dressing and sale of Victuals in a moderate way in Inns or Victualling Houses, for the use of such as otherwise cannot be provided for…’ quoted in [James T.] Dennison [Jr., The Market Day of the Soul: The Puritan Doctrine of the Sabbath in England 1532 – 1700], 94 (p. 50)

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/16813-Keeping-the-Sabbath-and-Going-to-Restaurants, Comment 28

From the Apostles’ Days, Christians Consecrated The First Day Of The Week

R.L. Dabney, The Christian Sabbath: It’s Nature, Design, and Proper Observance, pp. 536-541:

“We now add the uninspired testimony of the early historians and Fathers, showing that from the apostles’ days Christians understood this matter as we do, and consecrated the first day of the week.

But let us explain in what sense we use this human testimony. In our view, all the uninspired church testimony in the world, however venerable, would never make it our religious duty to keep Sunday as a Sabbath without God’s own commandment. We use these “Fathers” simply as historical witnesses. Their evidence derives its sole value from its relevancy to this point, whether the apostles, who were inspired, left the command and precedent in the churches of observing the Lord’s day as the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. If they said, “We Fathers command you to observe Sunday,” we should reject the authority as nothing worth. But when, as honest and well-informed witnesses, they testify that the apostles taught the


churches to observe Sunday, we regard their testimony as of some value.

Our first witness, then, is a learned pagan, Pliny the Younger, a high magistrate under the Emperor Trajan. He says, in a letter written a little after the death of the apostle John, that the Christians were accustomed to meet for worship on a “stated day.” This was the Lord’s day, as we see from other witnesses.

Ignatius, the celebrated martyr-bishop of Antioch, says, in his Epistle to the Magnesians, written not more than twenty years after the death of John, that “this is the Lord’s day, the day consecrated to the resurrection, the chief and queen of all the days.”

Justin Martyr, who died about A. D. 160, says that the Christians “neither celebrated the Jewish festivals, nor observed their Sabbaths, nor practiced circumcision” (Dialogue with Trypho). In another place he says that they were “all accustomed to meet on the day which is denominated Sunday, for reading the Scriptures, prayer, exhortation and communion. The assemblies met on Sunday, because this is the first day on which God, having changed the darkness and the elements, created the world, and because Jesus our Lord on this day arose from the dead,” etc.

Tertullian, at the close of the second century, says: We Christians “celebrate Sunday as a joyful day. On the Lord’s day we think it wrong to fast or to kneel in prayer.” It was a common opinion of the earlier Christians that all public prayers on the Lord’s day should be uttered standing, because kneeling is a more sorrowful attitude and inconsistent with the joy and blessedness of Christ’s day.

Clement of Alexandria, a very learned Christian contemporary with Tertullian, says: “A true Christian, according to the commands of the gospel, observes the Lord’s day by casting out all bad thoughts and cherishing all goodness, honoring the resurrection of the Lord, which took place on that day.”

Perhaps the most valuable, because the most important and explicit, as well as the most learned, witness, is Eusebius of Cæsarea, who was in his prime about A. D. 325. In a commentary on the ninety-second Psalm, which, the reader will remember, is entitled, “A psalm or song for the Sabbath day,” he says: “The Word” (Christ) “by the new covenant translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave us the symbol of the true rest, the saving Lord’s day, the


first of light, in which the Saviour gained the victory over death. On this day, which is the first of the Light and the true Sun, we assemble after the interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbath; even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world assemble, and do those things according to the spiritual law which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath. All things which it was duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord’s day, as more appropriately belonging unto it, because it has the precedence, and is first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. It hath been enjoined on us that we should meet together on this day, and it is evidence that we should do these things announced in this psalm.”

These citations from the pastors of the early church might be continued to great length. Not only individuals, but church councils, added their sanctions to the sacred observance of the Lord’s day. Thus the Council of Leodices (A. D. 363) commanded Christians to rest on the Lord’s day from all secular labors except those imposed by necessity. Many other councils during the fourth century ordain that public worship and the sacraments shall be observed on the same day. It may be asked, If this sanctification of the Lord’s day was of divine appointment through the apostles, why do we not hear of earlier councils enacting its observance nearer the days of the apostles? The answer is very simple: During the ages of persecution, which only ceased with the accession of Constantine, councils could meet rarely and with great peril, and the persecutors busily destroyed their records.

Those who are familiar with else controversy about the Lord’s day are aware that quite a number of writers, especially those of prelatical views, are in the habit of roundly asserting that the “fathers” held the fourth commandment to be abrogated; that they grounded their observance of the Lord’s day, not on God’s authority, but on comity, convenience, and church authority, like the other feasts, and that no “father” bases the observance of the Lord’s day on the fourth commandment expressly. They are very fond of quoting the great Augustine, for instance, as teaching that the fourth commandment alone among the ten was “partly figurative,” and so abolished with the other types. The arrogancy and dogmatism with which these assertions are made by


prelatic adversaries of God’s law are offensive to every fair and reverent mind. Those who are best acquainted with these fathers will be least disposed to attach importance to their assertions, whether concurrent with or against God’s truth. Had these prelatists, for instance, the honesty to quote all that their favorite Augustine says in that same exposition of the Decalogue, the sensible reader would feel the contempt for his opinions on this subject which they deserve. We should see this great father expounding each of the ten commandments as typified in the “ten plagues of the Egyptians,” and gravely running a fanciful analogy between a given precept and a given plague! The fact is, that even the more learned fathers (Augustine had little Greek and no Hebrew learning) were prevented by certain valid causes from taking a point of view whence they could properly appreciate the relations of the old dispensation and the new. The reasons were these: A good knowledge of Hebrew was rare. Judaism was only known to the Christians of those ages in its worst phase of Phariseeism, because all truly believing Jews, of the type of Simeon, Anna, Matthew, etc., had gladly acceded to Christianity and been absorbed into the Christian church. Hence it was a natural mistake to confound the true Old Testament religion to a certain extent with the apostate Judaism they witnessed around them in these professed advocates of the Old Testament, and to misconceive the divinely-established worship of the old dispensation according to the spurious forms to which it was now perverted after its fulfillment in the new dispensation. It was easy for Christians, witnessing the typical worship only in these spurious anachronisms, to overlook the fact that there had been a time when it had been of divine appointment, spiritual and evangelical. Again, the Christians knew of Jews only as the murderers of the Lord, as stubborn and embittered opponents of his gospel, whether as revealed in their own Old Testament or in the New, as systematic slanderers of the church and as instigators of pagan persecutions. This odious attitude of all the professes advocates of the Old Testament could not but prejudice the Christians’ apprehension of their scriptures. To these causes must be added also the perverse, metaphorical and mystical plan of interpreting Scripture, and especially Old Testament Scripture, which the fathers so soon imbibed, and which they saw carried to such extremes by the rabbinical scholars.


When we consider these causes, we cease to wonder that the early Christian writers misconceived the proper relations of the Old Testament to the New, or that they uttered on this subject many ambiguities and errors.

If, now, a father is found saying that the apostles “abolished the Sabbath,” he is to be understood, not as meaning that the apostles abrogated the fourth commandment — statement which can be found in no respectable Christian writer — but he is thinking only of the rabbinical seventh day, with its senseless and unscriptural superstitions. This is the simple key to all these patristic citations.

Some of the prelatic enemies of our Christian Sabbath, lay much stress on the assertion that none of the fathers expressly trace the Christian observance of the Lord’s day to the fourth commandment. What if they do not? This is, after all, only negative testimony, which proves nothing positive. We point, on the opposite hand, to the fact that none of the fathers deny the continued authority of the fourth commandment in its essential substance. We hear the wisest of them asserting that the sanctification of one-seventh part of our time in the observance of the first day is of divine authority through the apostles. We hear Eusebius, the most learned of them all, say that Christ, by the new covenant, translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the first day, or Lord’s day, and that all the Christians in the world accordingly have the Sabbath duties to that day. Is not this virtually saying the essential thing, that the sanctification of the Lord’s day is the Christian’s compliance With the fourth commandment?

A comprehensive view of these testimonies sufficiently shows what was the opinion and what the usage of the early Christians. As the Dark Ages approached, sound knowledge of the Hebrew literature became very rare; few could read the Old Testament in the original language, and the embittered and sinful prejudices of the Christians against the Jews had their influence in making the former indifferent to the Hebrew Scripture. Hence, great ignorance of the old dispensation and of its relations to the new sprang up. It was natural that the grounds of Sabbath observance should then be misunderstood. Superstition was then rapidly increasing, and saints’ days and holy days of human invention first rivaled and then surpassed God’s own day in the veneration of


the people. When the great Reformation came, many of the Reformers remained under the error which confounded the Lord’s day with the church’s superstitions holy days, and when they threw off the trammels of superstition, unfortunately they cast away the divine obligation of the Sabbath with them.

When we see some of the Protestant churches and divines of Europe deliberately defending worldly amusements (after public worship) on the Lord’s day, we should not do injustice to the piety and conscientiousness which many of them show in other things, nor should we condemn errors which they justify to themselves by arguments which they sincerely, though erroneously, believe, as severely as the profane abuse of the Sabbath committed by some in our country against their own clear convictions. Yet the deplorable fact remains, that these unscriptural views about the divine authority of the Sabbath have been the bane of Protestantism. They cause and perpetuate much of the irreligion and skepticism which deform Protestant Europe in many of its parts. It is historically true that the vitality and holiness of the church are usually in proportion to its reverence for the Sabbath. The Sabbath-keeping churches and generations have been the holy and zealous ones.

~Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics:

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/showthread.php/67617-Early-Church-amp-Sabbath, Comment 2

See also James Gilfillan’s review of the early evidence:
The sabbath viewed in the light of reason, revelation, and history, with sketches of its literature (source from Comment 4 of the above-mentioned thread)

A Puritan Catechism on the Fourth Commandment

A. The fourth commandment is, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor they cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

49 Q. What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. The fourth commandment requires the keeping holy to God such set times as he has appointed in his Word, expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy Sabbath to himself (Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12).

50 Q. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?

A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Lev. 23:3), and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Ps. 92:1-2; Isa. 58:13-14), except so much as is taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Matt. 12:11-12).

Source: http://www.reformedreader.org/ccc/puritan_catechism.htm#Q49