OF THE SABBATH
AND THE SUNDAY
BY A.H. LEWIS, D.D., LL.D,
THE AMERICAL SABBATH TRACT SOCIETY
A CRITICAL HISTORY OF
THE SABBATH AND THE SUNDAY IN THE
REFORMS, like apples, have their time to ripen. When they are ripe, the harvest must be gathered. Wishing cannot hasten that time, nor fear delay it. The Sabbath question is ripe for re-examination and restatement. It is at the front. It has come to stay. We must grapple with it. The first key to its solution is the authority of God's Word. The facts of history are the second key. Eternity is an attribute of God, and time is one measured part of eternity. Results in history are the decisions of God. In testing theories and practices, the historic argument is ultimate. It is the embodiment of Christ's words: "By their fruits ye shall know them." Theorizing can never go back of this test, nor set aside its decisions.
No department of church history has been less thoroughly worked than the history of the Sabbath and the Sunday. They both antedate Christianity and Judaism. As the question is presented to us now, the chief interest centers in the New Testament and in the Patristic period. The former is usually treated polemically, while the latter is almost an unknown region to the average Christian. It is also true that few people have more than a confused knowledge of the Sabbath question since the Puritan movement of three hundred years ago. That movement was forced to seek some support for itself in early church history. In seeking this, many quotations have been claimed from the Fathers which subsequent investigations have shown to be notoriously incorrect. These have been passed from hand to hand, apparently without examination or question. Forged writings have been treated as genuine. Unknown dates have been assumed to be definite. Important expressions, such as "Christian Sabbath" and "Dominicum servasti," have been manufactured and interpolated. In this way history has been perverted and good men have been misled. Few American writers have attempted any careful survey of this field, and the early English works on the Sabbath question and its history are out of print. Most of the books in defense of Sunday, within the last fifty years, have been hastily written to. meet the demands of some convention, or some emergency, created by the decline of the Puritan theory, and the secularization of Sunday. This has forbidden patient and efficient original research. Still stronger reasons have sat at the elbow of every writer in defense of the Puritan, or the American Sunday. The facts of the first four centuries destroy the foundation on which Puritanism rested its "Sunday Sabbath."
Because these things are so, this book has been written. It is written in the interest of the church universal, and of the preservation of the Sabbath, without which Christianity is shorn of one of its chief elements of power, and humanity is robbed of one of its chief blessings. We have given our authorities, with copious references, that who will may follow and test our work. These pages are not the product of yesterday, nor are they written for to morrow alone. We know that they must meet the prejudice of creed and the power of popular custom They must take their way between the upper an nether millstones of eternal verities. Nothing less than sifted facts can abide as the foundation for hope, or faith, or practice. Men build pleasant theories and indulge in glowing fancies concerning what they think ought to be, but the relentless hand of history gathers all that is not in accord wit eternal verity for the dust heaps of the past.
Conscious that every page must die which is no born of verity, and equally conscious that every page thus born will live in spite of creed or custom, this book goes forth, willing to await the broader knowledge, the calm judgment, and the verdicts of history in coming years.
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