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And on that good evening the brethren sacrificed their Babel of sentiments and united on the truth. And what was the result? Harmony began to prevail, and many came flocking to the standard of truth.
The fruit of this vision was good. It could not have been the work of an enemy, according to the test given by our Lord, in Matt. vii, 15-20: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them."
By the spring of 1849 the subject of the Sabbath began to attract considerable notice from Advent believers, who, seeing that the first day of the week could not be sustained by divine authority, were falling back to the position of no Sabbath in the Christian dispensation. And it may be worthy of notice, that this is the result everywhere the Sabbath question is discussed. The reason why the regular Baptists have taken this position more generally than any other denomination, may be because of their relation to the Seventh-day Baptists, who have more or less brought the subject to their notice. As an illustration of this point, when William E. Arnold, of Rochester, N. Y., in 1844, stated to Elder Joseph Marsh his convictions of duty to observe the
seventh day as the Sabbath, Elder Marsh replied that the first day of the week, as the Sabbath for Christians, was clearly proved from the word of God, and the unvarying practice of the Christian church. Mr. Arnold invited him to give the subject especial attention. He promised to do so and report the next Sunday. His report was simply this: That he had examined the subject, and had become satisfied that the Sabbath was Jewish, and that there was none for Christians.
The change from the first day to no Sabbath cannot be regarded in any better light than a change from bad to worse, and it is a matter of grief that thousands, finding themselves utterly unable to sustain the observance of first-day, take refuge from the pointed arrows of truth in this comparatively strong hold of unbelief. The masses are ignorant of the facts relative to the first day of the week. They think the New Testament abounds with direct testimony that it is sacred time. Elder Joseph Bates asserted in a grove, in Connecticut, in 1849, that there was not one text in the New Testament which taught a change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day of the week. An intelligentappearing gentleman interrupted by saying, "There are more than twenty." "Well," said Bro. Bates, "will you please to give us one?" The gentleman replied, "I can give you twenty." Bro. B. urged, "If you can give twenty, you can certainly give one. We wait for one; only give us one text." The gentleman was silent ; and Bro. B. went on with his subject.
It is a fact that the first day of the week is mentioned in the New Testament only eight times, and is not in a single instance spoken of as a sacred day. Inspiration gives it the simple title of first day of the week. See
Matt. xxviii, 1; Mark xvi, 2, 9; Luke xxiv, 1; John xx, 1, 19; Acts xx, 7; 1 Cor. xvi, 2.
It is also a fact that inspiration in the New Testament gives the seventh day of the week the sacred title of Sabbath, fifty-nine times, and in every instance refers to the day on which God rested, and which he sanctified and blessed. See Matt. xii, 1, 2, 5, 8, 10, 11, 12; xxiv, 20; xxviii, 1; Mark i, 21; ii, 23, 24, 27, 28; iii, 2, 4; vi; 2; xv, 42; xvi. 1; Luke iv, 16, 31; vi, 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 9; xiii, 10, 14, 15, 16; xiv, 1, 3, 5; xxiii, 54, 56; John v, 9, 10, 16, 18; vii, 22, 23; ix, 14, 16; xix, 31; Acts i, 12; xiii, 14, 27, 42, 44; xv, 21; xvi, 13; xvii, 2; xviii, 4.
Those who examine the subject are generally compelled to admit that there is no inspired testimony favoring a change of the day. Some, however, cling to the idea that the change is sustained by the example of Christ and the apostles. As far as the example of our Lord is concerned, they can refer us to but two instances of his meeting his disciples on the first day of the week. The first occasion was when he appeared to them on the evening of the day of his resurrection; and they were astonished to learn that he had risen from the dead. The second was eight days after this, and hence could not be upon the first day of the week; and neither of these meetings, so far as we have any proof, were from previous appointment, or designed for religious worship.
And there is no evidence that the apostles regarded the first day of the week as a day of worship. There is no record of a single instance of their holding a meeting in the daytime of the first day of the week. It is true that Paul met with his brethren, at Troas, on a firstday evening to break bread. That meeting continued all night on the first day of the week. The night is the
first half of the twenty-four hour day. Therefore that meeting was held on what we call Saturday night. The next morning, Sunday, Paul started on his long journey to Jerusalem, and spent the last half of that day in traveling on foot, and sailing with his brethren toward Mitylene. Thus we have apostolic example for regarding the first day as a proper day for secular business.
Neither can 1 Cor. xvi, 2, serve the cause of first-day observance. This text does not refer to a single element of the Sabbath. Holy time, rest from labor, and public assembling for divine worship, are not intimated therein. Justin Edwards, in his Notes on the New Testament, comments on this text thus: "Lay by him in store; at home. That there be no gatherings; that their gifts might be ready when the apostle should come."
With this now contrast New Testament testimony relative to the Sabbath. Our Lord recognized the existence of the Sabbath at the destruction of Jerusalem, A. D. 70, as verily as the seasons of the year. "And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter neither on the Sabbath day." He refers to a definite day. Not one day in seven and no day in particular, but the day of the Sabbath. In Mark ii, 27, he says, The Sabbath was made for man.
In Luke xxiii, 56, is the record of the disciples' resting the Sabbath day according to the commandment. This act of resting on the Sabbath was after the crucifixion, and the record of it was made by inspiration nearly thirty years later still.
The book of Acts shows what the apostles did. Which day of the week did they observe as the Sabbath? The writer of the book of Acts records instances of the apostles' holding meetings upon the Sabbath. On one oc
casion when Paul had been addressing a mixed assembly, "the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them, the next Sabbath," showing that it was understood even by the Gentiles, that the Sabbath was Paul's regular day of worship. Acts xiii, 42. And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together, to hear the word of God. Verse 44.
At another time Paul and Timotheus, on the Sabbath, went out of the city of Philippi to a place "by the river side, where prayer was wont to be made," and held a public meeting. Lydia believed, and was baptized, and her household. But was the Sabbath Paul's regular preaching day? Was this his manner? Let chapter xvii, 2, answer. "And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures."
Chapter xviii, 1-11, contains important testimony on this subject. Paul at Corinth abode with Aquila and Priscilla, and worked with them at tent making. "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks." Verse 4. How long did he remain at Corinth? "And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." Verse 11. Here is apostolic example for seventy-eight successive Sabbaths. And it will be sçen by verses 5-8, that the apostle occupied the synagogue a part of these Sabbaths, until the Jews opposed and blasphemed, then he went into the house of Justus, where he preached the remaining portion. Here, dear reader, is apostolic example in harmony with the divine precept, showing its application and force in the present dispensation.
The cross of Sabbath-keeping in the face of decided opposition, when its friends were few, was very great.