Section Two: (The Persecuted Church in the Wilderness)
In this chapter
Jesus asks, "Why do you persecute Me?"
544... The rise of Sabbath keeping sects
545... The Pasagini
547... Papal Bulls against Them
550... How their Sabbath Arguments were Met
551... The Papal Anathema and the Imperial Interdict at Verona
556... Crusade for the extinction of “heretics”
557... Inquisition Set at Work
558... Frederic II Interdicts
560... Still the Truth Spreads
561... Ethiopia holds to the Sabbath of Jehovah
563... The Jesuits at Work
564... Sabbath-Keepers in China
567... The Nasranei
567... The Sabbath in the East Indies
568... The Inquisition Active
569... The Jacobites
571... Sabbath Fasting
571... The Sabbath Dedicated to the Virgin Mary
574... Wonderful Fulfilment of God’s Prophecies
The Church in the Wilderness is the connecting link between the apostolic church and the last remnant who keep God’s commandments and have the faith of Jesus.
We have seen that as late as the eleventh century the true Israel was still existing, keeping the Sabbath of Jehovah.
Still farther to the east there is a body of Christian Sabbath keepers mentioned from the eighth to the twelfth century. They are called Athenians (“touch not”) because they abstained from things unclean and from intoxicating drinks,-- the translator of Neander styles them Athinginians, -- as the following shows:
“This sect, which had its principal seat in the city of Armorion, in upper Phrygia, where many Jews resided sprung out of a mixture of Judaism and Christianity. They united baptism with the observance of all the rites of Judaism, circumcision excepted. We may perhaps recognize a branch of the older Judaizing sects.” 27
Cardinal Hergenrother says that they stood in intimate relation with Emperor Michael II (A.D. 821-829), and testifies that they observed the Sabbath. 28 As late as the eleventh century Cardinal Humbert still referred to the Nazarenes as a Sabbath-keeping Christian body existing at that time. But in the tenth and eleventh centuries, there was a great extension of sects from the East to the West. Neander states that the corruption of the clergy furnished a most important vantage-ground on which to attack the dominant church. The abstemious life of these Christians, the simplicity and earnestness of their preaching and teaching, had their effect. “Thus we find them emerging at once in the eleventh century, in countries the most diverse, and the most remote from each other, in Italy, France, and even in the Harz districts in Germany.” Likewise, also, “traces of Sabbath-keepers are found in the times of Gregory I, Gregory VII, and in the twelfth century in Lombardy.” 29
During the twelfth century, the Latin records of the Inquisition often mention the name of the Pasaginians. The name is spelled several ways in Latin: Pasagii, Pasagini, Passagerii, Passagii, Passageres, Passagieri. They are first mentioned in the records of the council of Verona (A.D. 1184). In general, the church historians derive their name from the wandering, unsettled life of these people--from passage, “passage,” or, in other words, they were passengers, travelers. Persecuted and hunted down like wild game by the Romish Church, their only half-way safe retreat was in the solitude of the majestic Alps. Jas, on the other hand, derives the word from the Greek Pas-agios, “entirely holy.” Some assert that this last-mentioned term led to another appellation, Circumcisis; while others try to explain this word to mean that they were circumcised. Dr. U. Hahn, who has written an extensive history of the so-called heretics of the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries, claims:--
“The name of Pasagini was used in a twofold sense, viz., a definite Jewish-Christina sect was thus named; then it was also the general application for all the heretics, who all moved back and forth more or less, but chiefly the Cathari and Waldensians. This they did partly to spread their doctrines, and partly to escape the snares of their enemies.” 30
As to their origin, most church historians suppose them to have come from the East. Neander expresses himself as follows:
What Neander supposes, we have demonstrated by a regular and connected chain of evidence. The mighty crusades brought the West into closer contact with the East there were Sabbath-keepers everywhere in the East; and it would be but natural that the crusaders would come in touch with the Sabbath-keepers of the East: in fact, we have presented definite evidence of that in the case of the Bulgarians. And these so-called “Judaizing Christians” were none other than the Nazarenes mentioned by Cardinal Humbert during this very century-- the true Israel of God, who, amid all the persecutions through which they had passed, bore the reproach of Christ more than any other Christian party, wandering about everywhere as “pilgrims and strangers”, to preach the faith of Jesus and the commandments of God.
PAPAL BULLS AGAINST THEM
The papal bulss, especially those of Gregory I, and Gregory VII, and Nicolas I, are our chief source of information concerning the Pasagini. Aside from these, we have but two leading notices in Catholic histories of heretics. One is found in the writings of Bonacursus against the heretics, entitled “Against the Heretics, Who are Called Pasagii.” Its contents are as follows”--
“Not a few, but many know what are the errors of those who are called Pasagini, and how nefarious their belief and doctrine are. But because there are some who do not know them, it does not annoy me to write what I think of them, partly from precaution and for their salvation, and partly for their shame and confusion, in order that their foolishness might become more widely known, and that they might be the more condemned and despised of all. As we ought to know the good in order to do it, so likewise should we know the evil that we might shun it.
“Let those who are not yet acquainted with them, please note how perverse their belief and doctrine are. First, they teach that we should obey the law of Moses according to the letter-- the Sabbath, and circumcision, and the legal precepts still being in force. The also teach that Christ, the Son of god, is not equal with God, and that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit-- these three persons are not one God and on being. Furthermore, to increase their error, they condemn and reject all the church Fathers, and the whole Roman church. But because they seek to base their errors upon the witness of the New Testament and the prophets, let us slay them with their own sword by the aid of the grace of Christ, as David once slew Goliath.” 32
The following report is found in a work written by Gregorius, of Bergamo, about A,.D. 1250, against the Cathari and Pasaginians:--
“After what has been said of the Cathari, there still remains the sect of the pasagini. They teach Christ to be the first and pure creature; that the Old Testament festivals are to be observed-- circumcision, distinction of foods, and in nearly all other matters, save the sacrifices, the Old Testament is to be observed as literally as the New-- circumcision is to be kept according to the letter. They say that no good person before the advent of Christ descended into the lower regions; and that there is no one in the lower regions and in paradise until now, nor will there be until sentence has been rendered on the day of Judgement.” 33
This is all we possess concerning the doctrines taught by the Pasaginians. Their bitter enemies, biased by deep-rooted prejudice, are our only source of information. But let us closely study the brief notices we do have.
At all events, they founded their belief on the Bible, for they proved their teachings from the Old and the New Testaments. On the other hand, they condemned and rejected the writings of the church Fathers and the Roman Church, for which they certainly had excellent reasons, because the latter treated them as heretics for choosing to follow the Bible rather than the teachings of man and tradition. In this, they were centuries in advance of the Reformers. As to their belief in Jesus Christ, they were again on Biblical grounds, for Christ declares, “The Father is greater than I.” While the Word of God teaches unity of purpose in the Godhead, it nowhere states that the Father and the Son are one being; on the contrary, it declares in positive language that the Son is the express image of the Father, and consequently, he must be another being. John 17:20; Heb. 1:2. With regard to the state of the dead, they were likewise on Scriptural ground.
HOW THEIR SABBATH ARGUMENTS WERE MET
Concerning the observance of the Sabbath, they surely had a “Thus saith the Lord’ for that, while the Roman Church could meet clear, definite Scripture texts only with the most absurd spiritualising. Dr. Hahn adduces a few examples:
As to their practise of the rite of circumcision and keeping the ceremonial law, there exist good reasons to lead us to believe that this was imply ascribed to them by their opponents. The epistle of Gregory furnishes a good illustration: because the Christians believed that the Sabbath and the ten commandments were to be observed, the Poe declared that they ought also to offer sacrifices and practise circumcision.. What one holds to be consistent, he easily imputes to his religious antagonist whether it be so or not. The Sabbath-keepers in the seventh century did not circumcise, nor did they in the ninth, or else Pope Nicolas I would not have quoted the epistle of Gregory unaltered. When we come to consider the Sabbath-keepers during the Reformation, we shall find that even Luther charged them with practising circumcision, while their own words still extant in quotations prove the contrary.
Erbkam, in his criticism of Hahn’s history, thus vindicates the correctness of our position:--
“We also believe that the reports about the Pasaginians rest partly upon misunderstanding; as for example, that circumcision is said to have been practised among them, They rightfully belong to those sects who believed the Bible.” 35
THE PAPAL ANATHEMA AND THE IMPERIAL INTERDICT AT VERONA
Having fully established the fact that the Pasaginians were indeed the true Israel of God, believing all the Scriptures and exercising faith in Christ, and having the entire law of god written in their hearts by the Holy Spirit according to the fulfilment of the promise, we shall now see how they were treated by the Roman Church and by the Catholic rulers.
Our first clue in this direction is given us by the famous decree against heretics, promulgated by Pope Lucian III, in the presence of, and with the support of, Frederic Barbarossa, at the council of Verona (A.D. 1183). Both the Pasaginians and the Waldensians (here referred to under the name of the “poor of Lyons” are mentioned for the first time, as follows:--
Bishop Hefele and Mr. W. Jones give the following detailed account of the contents of this decree, and the manner in which it was promulgated. We quote the substance a given by Hefele:--
“For this purpose a solemn assembly of all the eminent men, both ecclesiastical and civil, was called on the fourth of November, in the cathedral at Verona. First the interdict of the emperor was proclaimed, whereupon he himself arose and confirmed it by a symbolical action, pointing with extended arms to the four corners of the earth, and with threatening mien casting his glove to the ground.
Next the imperial law was promulgated against the heretics; here upon the Pope proclaimed the ecclesiastical decree, in which all were placed under anathema-- especially those who presumed, under a form of godliness, to preach publicly or privately without the authority of the Apostolic See, as well as those who are not afraid to hold or teach any notions concerning the sacrament of the body and blood of Jesus, baptism, the remission of sins, matrimony, etc., in any way differing from what the holy church of Rome doth preach and observe.
All entertainers and defenders of these heretics are to be liable to the same sentence. If a clergyman or a monk be convicted of these errors, he shall be immediately deprived of all the prerogatives of the church order, divested of all offices and benefices, and delivered to the secular power to be punished according to his demerits.
If a layman be found guilty, unless he makes immediate satisfaction by abjuring this heresy, he shall be left to the sentence of the secular judge. Even those suspected of this heresy shall be liable to the same sentence, if they cannot clear themselves upon their examination before the bishop.
If any one relapses into his abjured heresy, he shall without any further hearing be delivered to the secular power, and his goods shall be confiscated to the use of the church. This excommunication shall be repeated by all the bishops, and renewed on all chief festivals and on any public solemnity, and if anyone be found wanting or slow therein he shall be suspended from his Episcopal dignity and administration for three years
“Furthermore, once or twice a year every bishop shall either personally or through his commissioner visit the parish in which it is reported that heretics dwell, and there cause two or three men, or, if need be, the whole neighborhood to swear what they know about said heretics. Any one thus accused shall be summoned before the bishop or his commissioner, and punished, if he does not clear himself, or has relapsed (commencement of Episcopal inquisition).
All earls, barons, governors, etc., in pursuance of the commonition of the respective bishops, shall promise under oath, that they will in all these particulars powerfully and effectually assist the church against the heretics and their accomplices, and endeavour faithfully to execute the ecclesiastical and imperial statutes. If they refuse, they shall be deprived of their honors and charges and be involved in the sentence of excommunication, and their goods be confiscated to the good of the church. If any city refuses to yield obedience to this decree, or contrary to the Episcopal commonition they shall neglect to punish opposes, we ordain the same to be excluded from all commerce with other cities, and be deprived of the Episcopal seat. All favourers of heretics, as men stigmatized with perpetual infamy, shall be incapable of being attorneys or witnesses, or bearing any public office whatsoever.” 38
This decree speaks volumes for the past, as well as for the time being. Papal anathema and the imperial edict were pronounced against the Pasaginians; and they were not only directed toward the observers of the Sabbath, but also against other companies of believers, as enumerated above. Though differing in name and in their views with reference to the understanding of God’s Word, like the various Protestant denominations of the present time, yet they all had one mutual aim, viz, to teach the gospel and to resist the abomination of the papacy.
They all dated the fall of the Roman church from the days of Constantine and Roman Bishop Sylvester; they thought the pope to be the Antichrist, and the Roman Church to be Babylon the Great. They taught that the true church consisted only of believers, and in that sense it had existed unchangeable. They highly valued the translations of the Bible in their respective languages, so that every on might read “in his own tongue the wonderful doings of the Lord.” They studied god’s Word so diligently that many knew large portions of it by heart. Even their adversaries had to give them credit for their great knowledge of the Bible.
Thus Reiner says that he met a simple, unlearned farmer who could repeat the whole book of Job word for word, and this knowledge of the Scriptures is what gave them the patience of Job in all their terrible persecutions. He found several that knew the entire New Testament by heart. 39 With the sword of the Spirit in their hands, and the love of God in their hearts, it is no wonder that they spread everywhere, in spite of such terrible decrees.
Dr. Hahn, who, to our regret, styles them only heretics says of their propaganda and success:--
“The spread of heresy at this time is almost incredible. From Bulgaria to the Ebro, from northern France to the Tiber, everywhere we meet them. Whole countries are infested, like Hungary and southern France; they abound in many other countries. In the rest of France we find them in Armoria, Paris, Orleans, Rheims, Gascogne, etc.; in Germany, in Goslar, Cologne, Treves, Metz, Strassbourg; In Italy, at Verona, Bolgna, Florence, Milan Placentia, Viterbo, Faenza, Treviso, Bergamo, Mantua, Ferrara, etc., yea, even in the papal dominions; in the Netherlands at Arras, Cambray, etc. Edicts are necessary against them in Catalonia and Aragonia, and even in England they put forth their efforts. 40
Their wide diffusion called for different leaders in various places; this explains the many terms under which the papal and imperial edicts mention them. The following new name, however, is found in the edict of King Alfonso of Aragonia (A.D. 1192)
“Whosoever, therefore, from this day forward, shall presume to receive the said Waldenses and Inzabbati, or any other heretics of whatsoever profession, into their houses, or to be present at their pernicious sermons, or to afford them meat or any other favor, shall thereby incur the indignation of Almighty God, as well as ours, and have his goods confiscated, without the remedy of an appeal, and be punished as if he were actually guilty of high treason.” 41
The term insabbati, or, as in other places less frequent, Sabbati, Sabbatati, Insabbatati, causes considerable trouble to historians. Some derive it from the wooden shoes which they wear, called sabot or Zabot; others again say that they were called Inzabbatati because they kept no festivals and only rested on Sunday; while some think the word comes from Sabbath, and was applied to them because they observed the Seventh day Sabbath.
[“The thesis that they were called Insabbatati because of their footwear is indignantly rejected by the learned Robert Robinson. (Ecclesiastical Researches, page 304) To show how widespread this term, Insabbatati, was applied to the Waldenses, the following oath is quoted which the monks directing the Inquisition would exact from prisoners suspected of holding different religious views form those of the Church “I, Sancho, swear, by Almighty God and by these holy gospels of God, which I hold in my hand, before you lord Garcia archbishop, and before others your assistants, that I am not, nor ever have been, an Inzabbatate Waldense, or poor person of Lyons or an heretick of any sect of heresy condemned by the church…”
“I, Sancho, swear, by Almighty God and by these holy gospels of God, which I hold in my hand, before you lord Garcia archbishop, and before others your assistants, that I am not, nor ever have been, an Inzabbatate Waldense, or poor person of Lyons or an heretick of any sect of heresy condemned by the church…”
As various as the explanations of this term may be, we have established the fact that some did keep the Sabbath of Jehovah. Rome spared no efforts to urge the princes to assist in the extinction of the heretics, and to prevent their spreading. When the princes of southern France could not consent to butcher thousands of industrious and orderly people, Pope Innocent III ordered a general crusade against the heretics, and full indulgence for their sins to such as would engage in this “holy” warfare. 43
King Louis VIII of France, and the Pope, exhorted;--
“unite your sword, which you have received of god to punish the evil-doers and for the praise of the just, with ours, that we might take vengeance together on these wicked and inhuman evil-doers. In Moses and peter, the fathers of both Testaments you may see symbol ion of the civil and spiritual power.” 44
In like manner he appealed to the princes, to the clergy, and to the whole French nation. He stirred up the crusaders by these words:--
INQUISITION SET AT WORK
But the army of crusaders was followed by something even worse -- the Inquisition. About the year 1200, Pope Innocent III established the Inquisition. Bishops and priests being, in the opinion of the pope, neither fit nor sufficiently diligent for the extirpation of heretics, two new orders, those of St. Dominic and St. Francis were instituted. How many observers of the Sabbath lost their lives under the tortures of the Inquisition, only the day of judgment will reveal. Wherever the popes could do so, they forced promises from princes to aid them in the extinction of the heretics, as, for example, when Emperor Frederic II was crowned by Pope Honorius (A.D.1220). Hefele says.
The observers of the Sabbath are classified here as the Circumcised. King Louis IX published (A.D. 1229) the statute Cupientes, in which he charges himself with the duty to clear southern France from heretics, and in order to bring this about he offers rewards for their discovery. 47
In the same year the council of Toulouse was held, where a number of canons were passed concerning the extinction of heretics. We quote samples:
”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.-- If any one allows a heretic to remain in his territory, he loses his possession forever, and his body is in the hands of the magistrates to receive due punishment.
“Canon 5-- But also such are liable to the law, whose territory has been made the frequent hiding-place of heretics, not by his knowledge, but by his negligence.
“Canon 6-- The house in which a heretic is found, shall be torn down, and the place or land be confiscated.
“Canon 14-- Lay members are not allowed to possess the books of either the Old or the New Testaments.” 48
FREDERIC II INTERDICTS
Again we hear of Frederic II, this time in Germany, of whom Hefele states:--
“His second decree against the heretics repeats word by word parts 5 and 6 of the first decree;… in his third he places the Dominicans under his special protection as inquisitors for all Germany against heretical perverseness, recommends them to the faithful, and speaks of the heretics in stronger language than one might expect from Torquemada. He acknowledges it as a holy duty to persecute the children of the serpent of falsehood, and not to let these malicious people live any longer. All condemned by the church and handed over to the civil power shall be punished (be burned); in case they should repent from fear of death, they should be kept in constant imprisonment.” 49
Although the Pope and the emperor were by this time bitter enemies, yet they were agree in persecuting the heretics, as the decree of Pope Gregory IX (A.D. 1236) proves; it begins as follows:--
“We excommunicate and anathematize all the heretics, the Puritans, Paterines, the poor of Lyons, Pasagines, what-ever name: their faces might differ, but their tails are entangled in one knot.,” 50
In the year A.D. 1243, Frederic issued another decree, which thus begins;--
“We condemn to perpetual infamy the Puritans, Paterines, Speronists, Leonists, Arnaldists, Circumcised, Pasagines, Josephines, Garatensiands, Albanensians, Francisks, Bagnorols, Comists, Waldensians, etc.” 51
Here the Pasaginians and the Circumcised are separately names, and one would be justified in concluding that they were different bodies. But as Dr. Hahn justly remarks, this confusion of names makes it difficult “to classify them and to properly define them in a way that they might be distinguished from each other.” However, the Pasaginians are once more mentioned-- in the decree of Innocent IV (A.D. 1253), where he confirms the decree of Gregory IX. 52
STILL THE TRUTH SPREADS
We have now traced the history of the observers of the Sabbath down to the second half of the thirteenth century, and have found that they trod a path marked with blood. They suffered with many other faithful witnesses, and persevered unto death. They surely must have been of some importance, and scattered over quite a range of territory, or else the popes and mighty rulers of various countries would not have mentioned them with the other.
The different edicts cover a period of nearly a century. Fire, the sword, and torture were employed to wipe these sects out of existence; spies were active in all directions to hunt them down like bloodhounds on a trail; any one sheltering them risked life and property; and even if any of these “heretics” recanted, a lifelong imprisonment awaited them,. And yet the truth survived in the West, as well as in the East, to which we shall now direct our eyes.
It was from the East that the gospel started on its victorious course around the world. At an early date Syria, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Asia Minor were covered with churches; but unfortunate contentions about the nature of Christ and the Holy Spirit took away the mind of Christ a and the life-giving power of his Spirit to such a degree that these churches degenerated into formalism. While the barbarians from the North executed the divine judgments upon the apostate West, in the early part of the seventh century Mohammed arose to punish the East. In order to distinguish his followers from Jews and Christians alike, he selected Friday as the special day of prayer. And thus the “Mohammedans and the Romanists crucified the Sabbath between two thieves, the sixth and the first days of the week;” for Mohammedanism and Romanism each suppressed the Sabbath over a wide extent of territory.
ETHIOPIA HOLDS TO THE SABBATH OF JEHOVAH
One of the first conversions recorded in the book of the Acts, is that of the Ethiopian eunuch, the treasurer of Queen Candace. Two Alexandrian missionaries are said to have founded the Abyssinian church in the fourth century. Frumentius, one of these, was soon after ordained as bishop, under the title, however, of “Abba Salama,” or “father of peace;” and since that time, ”Abuna,” or “our father,” is more customary for the head of the Abyssinian church, who must still come from Egypt and be a Copt.
But the lasting monument of that time is the Ethiopic Bible. It included the book of Enoch. The Apostolic constitutions are also held in high honor. By the sixth century, Abysinia was the principal Christian power in Africa, but it was soon after so completely cut off form intercourse with Europe by the spread of Mohammedanism that gibbon fittingly writes:--
When Europe came anew in contact with the Abyssinians in the sixteenth century, the seventh day was their weekly rest day; Sunday was only an assembly day -- exactly as it was in the Eastern Church, when they were cut off from further contact with it by the Mohammedans. In the meantime, Christianity in Europe trampled the Sabbath of Jehovah in the dust. What caused this great contrast? Simply the efforts of the Papacy to suppress the Sabbath of Jehovah in Europe; while Ethiopia, whatever else it may have suffered, was not cursed with the presence or influence of the Roman doctrines and practises. The Mohammedans were not able to conquer this Switzerland of Africa, which was preserved like a lone isle, but they starved out its spirituality, The more their language changed, the more the Ethiopic Bible became a dead book them.
Rumors were afloat about a certain priest-king, John in Ethiopia, from the fourteenth century onward; and European legations sought him. But A.D. 1534, as Abyssinia was sorely pressed by Islam, it sent a legation to the Portuguese (who were then the great naval power of Europe), appealing for help. The Abyssinian legate at the court of Lisbon gave the following reason for their abstaining from work on the Sabbath, as well as for their honoring Sunday;
“Because God, after he had finished the creation of the world, rested thereon; which day, as God would have it called the holy of holies, so the not celebrating thereof with great honour and devotion seems to be plainly contrary to God’s will and precept, who will suffer heaven and earth to pass away sooner than his word; and that, especially, since Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. It is not, therefore, in imitation of the Jews, but in obedience to Christ and his holy apostles, that we observe that day.: “We do observe the Lord’s day after the manner of all other Christians in memory of Christ’s resurrection.” 54
THE JESUITS AT WORK
In consequence of this request, four hundred Portuguese soldiers were sent, but they were accompanied by a number of Jesuits, who at once tried to induce the Abyssinian church to accept Roman Catholicism. They influenced King Zadenghel to propose to submit to the Papacy (A.D.1604). One of the the first efforts of the Jesuits was to get him to issue a proclamation” prohibiting all his subjects, upon sever penalties, to observe Saturday any longer.” This attempt cost the king “his crown and his life.” 55
His successor, Segued, submitted, saying:--
“The king becoming haughty, decreed that as the observance of the Sabbath was but a ceremony, it should be discontinued, commanded to plow and to do other work on this day, and announced a severe penalty if any disobeyed. But Jonael, the governor of Bagemdra, paid no attention to this, assembled the despisers of the royal decree, and openly rebelled. Though some tried to change the kings’ mind, yet he pretended to be fully convinced that the doctrine concerning the nature of Christ and the abrogation of the Sabbath was exactly as the Jesuits had shown.” 57
Gibbon tersely remarks:--
One of the first things the Jesuits did was to abrogate the observance of the Sabbath, and in order to break the resistance offered, they introduced the Inquisition. However, the Abyssinians arose to defend their religion, and after a bloody war, the king was forced to proclaim liberty of conscience. His son, in answer to the request of his nation, expelled the Jesuits (A.D. 1632), and restored the ancient faith. The harm done to the cause of Christ by the intrigues and carnal warfare of the Jesuits in Abyssinia, is stated by Gibbon:--
“Churches resounded with a song of triumph, ‘that the sheep of Ethiopia were now delivered from the hyenas of the West;’ and the gates of that solitary realm were forever shut against the arts, the science, and the fanaticism of Europe.” 58
But the Abyssinians are not the only Christians of the East among whom this double celebration of the Sabbath has been preserved. It is also still in vogue among the Nestorians, who reject the use of images, Mariolatry, and the Papacy. They begin their feast-days at sunset. Being exiled from the Roman empire, they found an asylum in Persia, whence they spread the gospel with great zeal, to India, Arabia, and even to China and Tartary.
As to Sabbath-keeping in China, quite evident traces have been found. When in A.D. 1665 Chinese workmen dug the foundation for a house outside the walls of the city of Si Gnau-Fou, they found buried in the earth a large monumental stone, covered with inscriptions in strange characters. The characters proved to be those called estrangellos, which were in use among the ancient Syrians, and will be found in some Syriac manuscripts of earlier date than the eighth century.
This monument, erected in the ancient city of Changan, which was then one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, under the imperial Tang Dynasty, shows from this inscription the evidence that the Christian religion was widely diffused in China at the beginning of the seventh century. As to the Sabbath, the following words are significant;--
“On the seventh day we offer sacrifice, after having purified our hearts and received absolution for our sins. This religion, so perfect and so excellent, is difficult to name, but it enlightens the darkness by its brilliant precepts.” 59
“The Ti Ping, ie., Universal Peace, Revolution, in China was one of the most wonderful developments of the power of the Bible over heathenism.”
In 1833 a young man, son of a peasant, received a tract composed of extracts from the Bible, from a tract distributor in the streets of Canton. During the war between China and England, deeming it a national disaster on account of the sins of the people, he read his Christian books and was converted. From the Bible he drew his system of theology, accepting God as his father, Christ as his elder brother, and the Decalogue and the teachings of the New Testament as his guide to virtue and righteousness. The entire Bible was printed and circulated, and the Lord’s prayer and the ten commandments were printed on cards and taught in every household. Opium, whisky, tobacco, and vices were prohibited; and as the Bible is silent as to any change of the day, the observance of the Sabbath was accepted as a part of Christianity. From one of their religious publications we quote the following concerning the fourth commandment:--
Rev. N. Wardner, who was a missionary in China during this revolution, states that when the Europeans inquired of these Chinese Sabbath-keepers how they came to observe the seventh instead of the first day of the week, as the other Christians, they replied that it was, first, because the Bible taught it, and, second, because their ancestors observed it as a day of worship. 61
About seventy thousand Nestorians still live in the mountainous border region between Turkey and Persia. They call themselves Nasrani (Christians), Suriani or Syrians, Mesihaye or followers of the Messiah; while the party which united with the Catholics are named Chaldeans.
Hauck-Herzog thus attests to their Sabbath observance;--
“Very numerous are their fasts. The use of meat is forbidden during one hundred fifty tow days in the year. They shun pork. The Sabbath is to them a weekly festival, as well as Sunday. They have no auricular confession; they know nothing of a purgatory. Their priests are allowed to marry.” 62
THE SABBATH IN THE EAST INDIES
The Thomas-Christians of the East Indies are a branch of the Nestorians, and, as such, they honor the memory of Nestorious, while they ascribe their conversion directly to the apostolic labours of St. Thomas. In the fifth century the Bible was translated into their language; La Croze calls this the “queen of versions.” It is marvellous how this church, separated from the other parts of the Christian world for about a thousand years, preserved its apostolic simplicity to such an extent that, when the Catholics came in contact with them, Gouvea, one of their authors, dropped the remark that the “Protestants must have imbibed their heresy from the Thomas-Christians. “
While they had formed an independent state consisting of about thirty thousand Christian families, yet, being hard pressed by the natives, they made the same mistake as the Abyssinians, and appealed to the Portuguese for protection. This protection was granted to them, but with it came also the Jesuits, and things went from bad to worse. The Jesuits began to employ force to compel them to acknowledge the Papacy, and to abrogated their ancient practises. That they kept the Sabbath would be a natural conclusion because of their connection with the Nestorians, but Mr. Yeates affirms it by saying that Saturday “among them is a festival day, agreeable to the ancient practise of the church,”
“The ancient practise of the church,” as we have seen, was to hallow the seventh day in honor of the Creator’s rest.
THE INQUISITION ACTIVE
What “gentle” means the Jesuits employed in their attempt to convert the Thomas-Christians, Mr. Yeates attests: --
“The Inquisition was set up at Goa in the Indies, at the instance of Francis Xaverius [a famous roman saint], who signified by letters to pope John III, Nov. 10 1545, ‘that the Jewish wickedness spreads more and more in the parts of the East Indies subject to the kingdom of Portugal, and therefore he earnestly besought the said king, that to cure so great an evil he would take care to send the office of the Inquisition into those countries.’” 63
With the Jesuits, the Inquisition came to India “which soon made itself felt by its terrible and mysterious punishments.” “The Jewish wickedness” was the observance of the Sabbath, as we see from the following canons of the synod at Diamper (A.D. 1599), presided over by the Roman archbishop, Menezes: --
But in A.D. 1653, when the Dutch overthrew the Portuguese, these East Indian Christians shook off the hated yoke of the Jesuits and of the Papacy. The Jacobites [a large group of dissenting Easterners who recoiled from Rome’s doctrines] began to labour among them, and about that time (A.D. 1662) and since, they form the most formidable part of the flock presided over by the Jacobite patriarch living in Diabekir.
This experience is another positive evidence that the Papacy everywhere did its utmost to suppress the observance of the true Sabbath, which they had degraded into a fast-day, and since the time of Gregory the Great, had considered the work of Antichrist. In full harmony with this, a traveler, Purchas, who visited them in the beginning of the seventeenth century, writes of the Jacobites:--
“They keep Saturday holy, nor esteem the Saturday fast lawful, but on Easter even. They have solemn service on Saturdays, eat flesh, and feast it bravely, like the Jews.” 65
With the following tribute paid to these East Indian Christians by J. w. Massie, we leave them for the present: --
“Remote from the busy haunts of commerce, or the populous seats of manufacturing industry, they may be regarded as the Eastern Piedmontese, the Vaudois of Hindustan, the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth through revolving centuries, though indeed their bodies lay as dead in the streets of the city which they had once peopled.” 66
That Sabbath observance also continued among the Jacobites who still live in Mesopotamia would be but a natural conclusion from the fact that the Thomas-Christians are under their patriarchies and still hold to it. And of this we also have definite evidence. In his history of the Jacobites, Abducanus wrote during the eighteenth century, that they assembled ever Sabbath in their temples, with bare feet, to which the later editor, J. Nicolai, adds a footnote:--
“Ou author states that the Jacobites assembled on the Sabbath day, before the day of the Lord, in the temple, and kept that day, as do also the Abyssinians, as we have seen from the confession of their faith by the Ethiopian king Claudius. From this it appears that the Jacobites have kept the Sabbath as well as the Lord’s day, and still continue therein.”67
Ross also attest that the Maronites likewise retained the observance of the Sabbath for a long time, as well as keeping Sunday. 68
The same is affirmed of the Arminians, by Seb. Frank, who writes, in the seventeenth century, that “instead of fasting on the Sabbath with the Roman Church,” “they lived well on Sunday and Saturday, rejoining in their misfortunes.” “through the whole of Septuagesima they had no mass except on Sabbath and Sunday,” 69
Various instances have demonstrated that the Papacy, whenever it attained the supremacy and found the observance of the Sabbath, has enjoined Sabbath fasting. Dr. Augusti also attests that some synods in France, Spain, and Germany enjoined fasting on the Sabbath during the Middle Ages. 70 That it was enjoined as late as the eleventh century is proved by canon 7, of the council held at Rome, in November, 1078. 71 But that a gradual change took place, Dr. Augusti, continuing, informs us:--
The cause for this change is related by F.Kloden in detail:
The noted cardinal, P. Damian, thus vindicates this measure:--
“the Sabbath, meaning rest (for on it god indeed rested) is very appropriately dedicated to the most benign Virgin, for, forsooth, wisdom in building herself a house, through the mystery of the assumed humility, rested in her as in a most holy bed.” 73
During the first crusade, pope Urban II decreed at the council of Clermont (A.D. 1095) that the Sabbath be set aside in honor of the virgin Mary by all the clergy. Many lay members followed the example of the clergy, and already the famous council of Toulouse enjoins (canon 25), under a penalty of twelve denare, “that at vespers on Saturday, the people attend church in honor of the holy Virgin Mary,” 74
In our entire investigation of Sabbath observance in the East, we have proved that certain churches, as the Abyssinians, the Nestorians, etc. honor the Sabbath of Jehovah by ceasing from work even to this day, (1910) and that all the East still honors the Sabbath in memory of the creation, by not fasting upon it. This is true even now, as the following extract from the standard catechism of the Russian church, written by the Metropolitan Philaret, proves: --
“d. The fourth commandment.
“Question-- Why, according to the command, should the seventh, and not another, day be sanctified unto God?
“Answer -- Because God created the world in six days, but rested from all the works of creation on the seventh day.
“Question-- Is the Sabbath (Saturday) kept in the Christina church?
“Answer -- It is not kept entirely as a festival; but still in memory of the creation of the world and in continuation of its original observance, it is distinguished from the other days of the week by a relaxation of the rule for fasting.” 75
On the other hand, in contrast with the East, the Papacy, wherever its influence in the West has been sufficient, has degraded the Sabbath into a fast-day, and it still stands as such in the papal laws (Gregory VII, A.D. 1078, in corpus juris canonici, c. 31. Dist. 5, de consecratione; Benedict XIV, de synodo diocesana, Roma, 1755, p. 396 ff.); but in practise it has (since the eleventh century) dedicated the day to the honor of the Virgin Mary, because Christ “rested in her as in a most holy bed.”
How generally this contrast is admitted, the following from J.W,. Neal shows:--
“The observation of Saturday is, as every one knows a subject of bitter dispute between the Greeks and Latins, the former observing it as a festival, the later as a day of abstinence.” 76
WONDERFUL FULFILMENT OF GOD’S PROPHECIES
The prophecies of Daniel and Revelation clearly foretell that a power arising in Rome after the division of the Roman empire, shall
“think to change times and laws” of the Most High;
that it shall “cast down the truth to the ground,” and shall practise and prosper; 77
That it shall “have indignation against the holy covenant;” 78
And that it shall “have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant,: 79
And all this we have seen fulfilled in the attitude of the Roman bishop against God’s law, against his covenant, and against his holy Sabbath.
Under anathema, the Papacy has enforced work upon God’s rest day; it as turned the day of delight into one of fasting and mourning; it has taken the day set apart to the honor of God, and dedicated it to the honor of his creature; it has substituted another time-- the first day of the week -- from the seventh day; and it has perverted the law by trying to apply the fourth commandment to Sunday; and it has had indignation against the holy covenant by attempting to erase the day written in the heart and mind of man by God’s own spirit, and seeking to write its day in the minds of men by the most cruel of human laws; and in all this it “practised, and prospered.”
Through his prophets Daniel and John, god further foretells that the saints of the Most High shall be given into the hand of this Roman power for twelve hundred sixty years, during which it shall “make war with the saints, and . . .overcome them, and the church shall, “flee into the wilderness,” where “they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.” 80
The British church, and the anathematized Sabbath-keepers of the East and of the west, during the dark Middle Ages, furnish a cloud of witnesses as to the literal fulfilment of the Word of God, and the most remote mountain passes testify that they served as hiding-places for the church of God.
But the same prophecies foretelling defeat, also assure final victory, for the “people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many.” 81 “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death,”82
The great work done by the missionaries of the British church in the far North and on the Continent, the ever-wandering teachers of the Sabbath-keeping believers in the Alps, the zealous missionaries in the East carrying the gospel to India, China, Persia, Africa,-- all were strong, did exploits, instructed many, and sacrificed their lives in the service of the Master.
And though it seemed at times that the light of God’s truth would go out, yet his true Israel survived, as the following words of a church historian testify:--
“In vain did inquisitor rage, and plot, and torture, and burn. They were neither omniscient nor omnipresent: mighty as they were, they were not omnipotent. If they cursed heresy here, it sprang up there, and when hard pressed, found shelter in many an inaccessible mountain or secluded valley.”
“councils had thundered their curses, popes had issued their bulls, and inquisitors had exhausted their ingenuity -- but it was all in vain. The church of God still lived.”83
27. Neander, fourth period, 6, 428 Return>
28. Kirchengeschichte, I, 527 Return>
29. Strong’s Cyclopedia, New York, 1874, I, 660 Return>
30. Geschichte der Ketzer, 3,5 Return>
31. Chruch History, fifth period, 8, pp. 403,404 Return>
32. D’Achery, Spicilegium I, f. 211-214. Muratory, Antiq. Med. Aevi 5, f. 152. Hanh, 3, 209 Return>
33 Collectio Rev. Occitan in the Royal Library of Paris, doc. 35, quoted in Dollinger’s History of the Sects, vol. 2, p. 375 Return>
34. Ketzergeschichte. 3,8.9. Return>
35. Reuter’s Reportorium 56, 38 Return>
36. History of the Baptist Denomination, 2, 414 Return>
37. Decree of Lucian, c.9,10 de haereticis v. 7, quoted by W. Jones in History of the Christian Chruch, new York, 1824, 2,13,14 Return>
38. Conciliengeschichte, 5, pp. 726, 727; Jones 2, 13-17. Return>
39. Contra Waldenses in Max. Bibl., 25, f, 263 Return>
40. Gessch, der Ketzer, I, 13,14 Return>
41. Jones, 2,18 Return>
42. Deutsche Biographie, article, “Goldast.” 9,327 Return>
43. Bal, II, epist. 26, 27, f. 147-149 Return>
44. Bal, II, epist. 28, f. 149,150 Return>
45. Hahn I, pp. 205,206 Return>
46. Conciliengeschichte 5, 915. Return>
47. Hefele, 5, 979 Return>
48. Id. 5, 981, 982 Return>
49. Hefele, 5, 993 Return>
50. Id., I 502 Return>
51. Id. 1, 509 Return>
52. Id., 1, 518 Return>
53. Gibbons, Deline and Fall of Roman Empire” chp.47, second par. From end. Return>
54. Geddes’s Church History of Ethiopia, pp. 87,88 Return>
55. Id., pp. 311,312; Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall,” chap. 47, last par,; Windhorn’s Einl, in die Abess. Theologie, p. 75 Return>
56. Gibbon, chap. 47, last par. Return>
57. Eileit, in die abess. Theologie, p. 58 Return>
58. Gibbon, chap. 47, last par. Return>
59. Christianity in China, by M. L’Abbe Huc., vol. I chap. 2, p. 45, seq. London, 1857. Return>
60. History of the Ti (spelled both Tae and Ti) Ping Revolutions, by Lin-Le; vol. 2 Appendix A, p. 824, London, 1866. Return>
61. “A Critical History of the Sabbath and the Sunday,” Alfred Centre, 1886, pp. 244-247. Return>
62. Realencyklopaedie, 13, 734, article, “Nestorianer,” Return>
63. Yeates, “East Indian Church Hist. Pp. 133, 134 Return>
64. La Croze, Abbildung des ind. Christenst., p. 354, Leipzig, 1739. Return>
65. Purchas, “Pi. Grimmes,” part 2, b. 8, chap. 6, p. 1269, London, 1625 Return>
66. Massie, “Continental India, vol. 2, p. 210 Return>
67. Nicolai, “Historia Jacobitarum: Opera Josephi Abucadni Lugduni, 1740, cum notis J. Nicolai, p. 144. Return>
68. Unterschiedlicher Gottesdienst, Heidelberg, 1665, p. 934 Return>
69. Chronica, 1530, Chronik, 3, 231 Return>
70. Denkwurdigkeiten, 10, 385-388 Return>
71. Hegege, 5, 125, sec. 587 Return>
72. Zur Gesch. Der Marienverehrung, pp. 23-25, Berlin 1840 Return>
73. Migne, 33, c. 4. 579 Return>
74. Hegele, 5. 983, sec. 655 Return>
75. Geshichte der Kirche Russlands, p. 386 Return>
76. A Hist. Of the Holy Eastern Church, London, 1850, General Introduction 5, 1. P. 731 Return>
77. Dan. 8:12 Return>
78. Dan. 11:30 Return>
79. Dan. 11:30 Return>
80. Dan. 11:33 Return>
81. Dan. 11:32-33 Return>
82. Rev. 12:11 Return>
83. Cramp’s Baptist History, London, 1868, pp. 106,112 Return>
Continue to chapter twenty-two
History of the Sabbath, Table of Contents