W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso

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[14] understand all about that amount of annual tribute (200,000 sheep) from such a sterile tract of country on the shores of the Dead Sea, than very many others in England and elsewhere. But read attentively the whole story, in that chapter of 2 Kings already mentioned; and I fear that the Hebrew story, as it there stands, will appear to be a fiction; apparently part of some legendary account handed down from the olden time concerning Elisha.

(Time of Jesus and his apostles.)

Let us now proceed to enquire,—(1) How Jesus and his followers acted; how they kept “the Sabbath” of their nation. Like good Jews they upheld the national Institutions, (Luke 2.21: 22.7, 8, 13, 14,)—often going into the synagogues on “the Sabbath-day,” as “his custom was,” to read and to teach,—which office, according to the Jews, was alike open to all. They kept the Sabbath, however, in a liberal way. We find him on a Sabbath-day going to a feast at the house of a chief Pharisee (or ruler), where there were a great company of guests, (which must have certainly caused the servants a deal of unnecessary labour in preparing the banquet and in waiting upon the guests,) and where there was also a scramble for the chief seats. But this kind of convivial meeting on the Sabbath, was allowed by the Pharisees, as we have already seen. On that occasion, the scrambling which Jesus saw was evidently the cause of two of his noted parables respecting a supper, or feast, delivered at that t.ime,—and, also, of the rule which he then gave for the proper giving of a feast. (Luke 14.). Indeed Jesus often so acted,—laying hold of passing events, and so suiting the word to the time, or occasion. Again, we find that through frs liberal mode of acting on several Sabbaths, both Jesus and his disciples were often charged with having “broken the Sabbath,” and with having “done that which was not lawful on the Sabbath-day;” and it was this (among othor things) which so greatly enraged the Pharisees against him. We are told of several remarkable cases of healing performed by Jesus on the Sabbath-day; as, the man with the withered hand,—the woman who had been bowed for 18 years,—the impotent man, who had spent a dreary 38 years in that state,—the man with the dropsy,—and the blind man. Now (1) these cases were all old, longstanding ones; not peculiarly dangerous and pressing ones of the day immediately affecting life; and, therefore, they might have well stood over until the following day, or week; and (2) they were not only cured on the Sabbath-day, but that in the most public manner, mostly in the synagogue (or “Church”) itself before all the Congregation; and, sometimes, accompanied with other “work,” (as, in the making of clay, —and in the ordering the impotent man to carry his bed,—and the blind man go to Siloam and wash,) which must have additionally galled the Jews. Then again, we have recorded by three of the Evangelists, their walking through the corn-fields on the Sabbath-day and their gathering the corn, and rubbing-out the grain as they went for food; and the memorable reply of Jesus,—in almost the very words of the Talmud (already quoted by me), which, no doubt, he had often heard and read,— “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; therefore the son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2.) Where were these Corn-fields? Scarcely within “the Sabbath-day’s journey” allowed by the Jews; which was only six stadia = 2000 paces, or, about, 6 furlongs, (not quite as far as the “Maori Club” on the White Road is from the Government Buildings,)—so that, it appears, that in this respect (of distance) the Sabbath was also broken. Now in all this we perceive a certain something done openly, all tending to lessen “the traditions of the elders” and the Pharisaic sanctity of the Sabbath.—

(2) How, or what, did Jesus teach concerning their Sabbath, in his many teachings, discourses and parables? Here however, we can gain but little, because there is but little recorded. There is “The sermon on the Mount” (as it is called), but it is worthy of notice, that while very many subjects are therein [15] mentioned and brought forward, including several of the “ten Commandments,”— there is nothing concerning the Sabbath. There is, however, his noble and open and oft-repeated statement, that “it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath-days” (Mat. 12.12); further illustrating his meaning by the works of lifting a sheep out of a pit, and of leading an ox or an ass to water; which, with that precious saying already mentioned (“The Sabbath was made for man, &c.”),—one would think would have been quite enough for his followers for all time!

There is also a highly curious and characteristic saying of Jesus about the Sabbath,—which is not found in our New Testaments, and is only found in one very ancient Greek manuscript and in one equally ancient Latin one (known to scholars as Codex Bezæ), which date from the 5th century, and therefore holds a place among the five oldest Greek Manuscripts. As far as I know, it has not been translated and printed in English, but I will give a translation. It is an additional verse coming after Luke 6.4, (the 5 v. being placed in those two manuscripts after the 10 v.,) and runs thus:— “In the same day, Jesus seeing a certain man tilling his ground on the Sabbath, said nnto him, Man, if indeed thou knowest what thou art doing thou art blessed; but if thou knowest not thou art cursed, for thou art a transgressor of the law.”— Does not this strongly remind us of Paul’s saying,— “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.” (Rom. 14.22)—Which may indeed be grounded on it; much as Paul has given us a peculiar saying of Jesus,— Acts 20.35. And it may also be further noticed, that the very peculiar and strong Greek word for “Curse,” used here,—is only used twice besides in the whole Now Testament,—viz. in John 7.49, (where the Pharisees used it concerning the people who knew not the law,—from which very circumstance Jesus might have adopted it ;) and, again, in Gal. 2. 10, 13, (where Paul uses the word in his strongly emphatic way;)—it is not the word commonly used in the New Testament for curse. The same Greek word which is in Rom. 14, 22. translated “Happy” I have here translated Blessed; as in Mat. 5. 3–11. Some of our first modern Greek Scholars and Commentators believe in the originality and authenticity of that saying of Jesus.

3. What Jesus further said concerning the Sabbath, incidentally or otherwise, in his many questionings concerning the “Commandments,” made to those who came to him. Here, again, we find ourselves at a loss; although Jesus seemed to have pretty closely questioned several who came to him about their keeping of the “Commandments”; as in the very particular case of one who, on coming to Jesus to enquire what he should do to obtain eternal life, called him “Good Master”; (and, was, apparently, first rebuked by Jesus for giving to him that title of Good,—which belonged to God alone;) Jesus told him, that if he would enter into life he should keep the “Commandments “; and then Jesus repeats six out of “ the 10 commandments” to him,—but excludes all mention of that peculiarly great one among the Jews—the Sabbath (Mat. 19. 18.)

This remarkable interview is also mentioned in three of the Gospels, (Mat. 19, Mark 10, Luke 18,) with but little variation. Mark also gives another and a similar one, (12. 28–34,) which I have ever considered as one of the truly grand conversations related in the Gospels. Here, the inquirer asks, “Which is the first Commandment of all?” Jesus replies,—as a true Jew,—saying,—(in sublime and beautiful language, quoted from the Old Testament, and well-known among the later Jews, as the standard article of their belief, and their war-cry in battle,)— “The first is, Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first Commandment.” And then Jesus adds,— “And the second is like, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other Commandment greater than these.” And his questioner also answers discreetly and beautifully insomuch that he was highly praised by [16] Jesus for so doing. Yet here, again, we find not a word about the Sabbath,—that great and peculiar institution of the Jews!

(1) Why is this omission,—if that of the Sabbath were indeed really given from the burning summit of Mount Sinai, amid lightnings and thunderings and earthquakes? (2) If that of the Sabbath were, as Nehemiah and the few later prophets repeatedly say,— the sign of the Covenant between the Israelites and God?

Moreover, here arises an important question to the thoughtful mind:—(1) Why did Jesus when asked—What was the first commandment of all? Why did he not quote from the “ten Commandments,” giving the first of them,—if such had been really spoken by the majestic voice of God from Sinai, and engraved by His holy fingers on stone? (2) Again, when Jesus also adds the second (great) commandment,—Why are the “10 Commandments” (including that of the Sabbath), again passed by? (3) And why are all (even including those “ten”) said to hang on these two?— which were not given openly by God himself with dreadful pomp and terror on the burning mountain (as recorded in Exodus), but merely quietly written down many many years after, by some unknown yet inspired scribe in the books of Deuteronomy (6) and Leviticus (19).

It is of no use attempting to blink the facts before us;—If those so-called “ten commandments,” said to have been so spoken by the One Unchangeable and Blessed God Himself, and by Him also engraved in stone; If such had ever really been so spoken and so given,—Jesus could never have overlooked them never have spoken thus.—

(Time of the Apostles.)

We are come down now to the time of the Apostles, after that of Jesus; and, in like manner, we will quietly prosecute the enquiry.—

1. How did the Apostles act, with especial reference to the Sabbath?

Of their positive doings re the Sabbath-day, we have very little indeed recorded;—but of those of Paul (“the Apostle of the Gentiles”) we have a fair share.— And, in briefly considering Paul’s actions and teachings concerning the Sabbath-days, we must ever bear this in mind,—that Paul was (as he himself tells us), one of the straitest (narrowest) religious sect among the Jews, “a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee.”

(1) At first we find Paul commonly, during his travels, going into the Jewish synagogues (or Churches) on the Sabbath-day, and teaching (that is, exhorting and preaching) therein, after the manner of the Jews; (viz., at. Antioch, Acts 13. 14–16, etc., at Thessalonica, Acts 17. 2, and at Corinth, Acts 18. 4 ;) just like Jesus himself did at Nazareth (Luke 4. 16) and other places before him, as we have already seen.

(2) After several years of travel and teaching we find Paul returning to Jerusalem, and there “with the Apostles and elders” assembling to consider certain grave matters pertaining to the Jewish religion; for the Pharisee believers of Jerusalem had said,— “It was needful to command the Gentile believers to keep the Law of Moses.” This, however, Peter, who was also present, strongly opposed, terming it a “tempting of God”—to seek “to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples” (the Gentile believers) “which,” said Peter, “neither our fathers nore we were able to bear.” And so we find this first and best Council, composed of Jewish Christians, after having thoroughly discussed these important matters concerning the keeping of the Law of Moses, laying down four simple rules only for the Gentile Christians,—on whom “they (the Apostles) would lay no greater burdens than these (four) necessary things”; and this decision, they also declared and wrote, had “seemed good to the Holy Spirit as well as to themselves” acting together.

Now, (1) If the keeping of the Sabbath-day was really a Divine Institution, does it not seem strange that nothing was then said about it? Seeing, too, (2) that such comparatively small matters—as the abstaining from things strangled, and the eating of blood—(both long ago broken and thrown aside!) should have been then [17] sent forth as rules, or decrees? Therefore, it must follow, that the keeping of the Sabbath-day was not, in the opinion of the Holy Spirit and of the Apostles, any great matter.

3. After this, on several occasions, we find Paul writing to the various churches, or congreations, of Christians; and particularly laying down what to avoid (“works of the flesh”), and what to follow and do. Now it is highly noticeable,—(1) that in those long lists of evil works and practices given by him (viz., Gal, 5. 19–21, Eph. 5. 3, Col. 3. 5, etc.,) we find nothing of “Sabbath-breaking”! Although, in his “lists,” Paul is sometimes so diffuse as to state the same thing (generically) under different heads (specifically): (2) that in what he plainly directs the Gentile Christians to do,—(viz., Eph. 5, 6: Col. 3, 4: 1. Thess 5, &c.,)—although he even, at times, quotes from “the Law of Moses” (Eph. 6. 2)—yet Paul never once says a word about keeping “the Sabbath”! And, again, (3) in that particularly affectionate portion of his letter to his beloved Philippians (ch. 4),—in which Paul sums up all good things, as it were, saying,— “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do”; here, again, is no mention of “the Sabbath.”

How is this?—If the strict keeping of “the Sabbath-day” was of such very great importance?

I know very well what kind of answer I shall get to all this evidence that I have hitherto brought forward,—That all such is of a negative character, and therefore proves nothing.

Be it so. I come then to the positive teaching of the Apostle Paul on this subject. lie says distinctly to the Colossians,— “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath-days which are a shadow of things to come” (2. 16):—and to the Romans,— “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up, for God is able to make him stand, One man esteemeth one day above another, another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that rogardeth not the day, to the Lord. he doth not regard it.” (14. 4.)

On those two passages the late Dean Alford of Canterbury wrote, in his new edition of the Greek Testament:— “If any one day in the week were invested with the sacred character of the Sabbath, it would have been wholly impossible for the Apostle to uphold or commend the man, who judged all days alike worthy of equal honour.— — —I therefore infer that Sabbatical obligation to keep any day, whether seventh or first, was not recognised in Apostolic times.” (On Rom. 14. 5.) “If the ordinance of the Sabbath had been, in any form, of lasting obligation on the Christian Church, it would have been quite impossible for the Apostle to have spoken thus. The fact of an obligatory rest of one day, whether the seventh or the first, would have been directly in the teeth of his assertion here.” (On Col, 2.16.)

(I bring this forward now,—as it is a single comment on these particular texts.)

Again, Paul says to the Galatians,— “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” (4. 9–1l.) Here, of course, Paul alludes to Jewish festivals as commanded by “the Law of Moses,” of which the Sabbath days, the New Moons, and the Sabbatical years were examples. And note, how depreciatingly how loweringly Paul speaks of those very things which he once believed to be so high and so holy. —Wheatly here well observes,— “the Ohristians were no more obliged to observe the Jewish festival, than they were concerned in the mercies therein commemorated, and this is the reason that when the Judaizing Christians would have imposed upon the Galatians the observation of the Jewish festivals, as necessary to salvation; [18] Paul looked upon it as a thing so criminal that he was afraid the labour he had bestowed upon them to set them at liberty in the freedom of the Gospel had been in vain.

In concluding this part of my subject, I would again remark,—it is very noticeable that, throughout the New Testament, there is not a single instance of any stress whatever being laid on the strict observance of the Sabbath-day. Jesus himself and the apostles (as we have seen) observed it,—but in a very liberal kind of way; they never, in any act or work recorded in the Gospels or Epistles, inculcate either by example or by precept, a Sabbatarian spirit. Rather, so far as their words and acts imply anything in this respect, they tend to discourage and discountenance such a spirit. And expressly in the famous decision of the Church at Jerusalem, which was forwarded to the believing Gentiles at Antioch, by the hands of Paul and Barnabas, Judas, and Silas, they laid no “burden” on them of Sabbatical observances.—


(1. Primitive.)

After the time of the Apostles we find that the early Christians did not specially and as a rule keep the Sabbath-day holy. No doubt those who were Jews, or descendants of Jews, for some time longer kept up their weekly assembling on that day; but such observance,—not having been appointed by the Apostles and left free (as we have seen),—naturally fell into neglect. Bingham says,— “If it be inquired, why the ancient church continued (for a time) the observation of the Jewish Sabbath, when they took it to be only a temporary institation given to the Jews only, as circumcision and other rites of the law; (which is expreasly said by many of the ancient writers, particularly by Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Tertullian, and Eusebius;) it is answered by learned men,— that it was to comply with the Jewish converts as they also did in the use of other indifferent things, so long as no doctrinal necessity was laid upon them. For the Jews being generally the fIrst converts to the Christian faith, they still maintained a mighty reverence for the Mosaic institutions, and especially for the Sabbath,— — and were therefore very loth it should be laid aside. For this reason, it seemed good to the prudence of those times, (as in other of the Jewish rites, so in ths) to indulge the humour of that people and to keep the Sabbath as a day for religious offices; but when any one pretended to carry the observation of it further,—either by introducing a doctrinal necessity, or pressing the observation of it after the Jewish manner, they resolutely opposed it as introducing Judaism into the Christian religion.” Some, indeed, kept both days, the Jewish Sabbath and the Sunday; yet in rites and ceremonials a difference was made, and the preference was given to the Lord’s-day (or Sunday) above the Sabbath. “For first,” (Bingham continues,) “we find no Ecclesiastical laws obliging men to pray standing on the Sabbath; nor, secondly, any imperial laws forbidding law-suits and pleadings on the Sabbath; nor, thirdly, any laws prohibiting the public shows and games; nor, fourthly, any laws obliging men to abstain wholly from bodily labour. But, on the contrary, the Council of Laodicea has a canon for converts, forbidding Christians to Judaize, or rest on the Sabbath, any further than was necessary for public worship; but they were to honour the Lord’s day, and to rest on it as Christians; and if any were found to Judaise, an anathema is pronounced igainst them. — — — For this reason the sect of the Ebionites were condemned for joining the observation of the Sabbath according to the Jows with the observation of the Lord’s day after the manner of the Christians. Against such the Council of Laodicea pronounces anathema, that is,—such as taught the necessity of keeping the Sshbth a perfect rest with [19] the Jews. And in this sense we are to understand what Gregory the Great says, That antichrist will renew the observation of the Sabbath.” (Origines Ecclesiasticæ, lib. xx.)

And this, to me, appears as an additional witness,—of no distinct rule, no law, having been ever laid down by any express apostolic authority respecting the keeping of the Sabbath, or substituting (as some will have it) the first day of the week to be kept Sabbatically instead of the seventh. For when the early Christians met together on the first day of the week, they did not dream of taking the 4th Commandment, and putting that forward as prescribing a rule for the religious observance of the first day. That the first day of the week, “the day of the Sun,” was observed from very early times among Christians, as a day on which they specially assembled for religious purposes, we know from undoubted authority. But no writer of the first three centuries has attributed the origin of Sunday observance to any apostolic authority.— “In the first century, Barnabas (or whoever else wrote the epistle ascribed to him), Justin Martyr, a.d. 147, Dionysius Bishop of Corinth, a.d. 170, Tertullian, a.d. 192, Clement of Alexandria, a.d. 192, Origen, a.d. 230, Cyprian Bishop of Carthage, a.d. 250,— all mention or allude to the religious observance of the Sunday; but not one of them even hints that it originated in any precept of Christ, or in any recommendation of the Apostles, either by precept or example. Yet, had any such precept been gtven, or example set, it is incredible that it ahould not have been known in the times of the writers above-named, and hardly to be believed that, if known, it would not have been mentioned by them or by some of them.” (Sir Win. Domville, The Sabbath)

I may here quote, also, the words of Justin Martyr,—in his famous Apology for the Christians, made to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius,— “We all of us assemble together on the day of the Sun, because it is the first day in which God changed darkness and matter and made the world. On the same day also Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead. For he was crucified the day before Saturns day; and on the day after Saturn’s day, which is the day of the Sun, he appeared to his apostles and disciples, and taught them what we now submit to your consideration.”

St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, a.d. 345 says, to his flock,— “Turn thou not out of the way into Sarnaritanism or Judaism, for Jesus Christ hath redeemed thee; henceforth reject all observance of Sabbaths, and call not meats, which are really matters of indifference, common or unclean.”

St. Jerome, a.d. 392, also says:—

“On the Lord’s day” (and, note well, this shows you the manner of its observance amongst the early Christians,) “they went to church, and returning from church they would apply themselves to their allotted works, and make garments for themselves and others. The day is not a day of fasting, but the day is a day of joy; the church has always considered it a day of joy, and none but heretics have thought otherwise.” So that the early Christians did not think it was wrong to make garments for themselves and others on the Lord’s-day. Such an idea never once entered into their heads! As a modern Divine correctly remarks, (on those words of Jerome,) — “There was no Sunday League in those days, and the only Sabbatarians were Jews. It is curious to observe, that whilst the modern Christians have seldom converted the Jews, the Jews have converted modern Christians in whole sects to Sabbatarianism.”(!!)

(2. Time of the Reformation.)

Quotations without number might be made from the writings of eminent Divines (Reformers), in the Church of England and in other Churches, expressly protecting, and in the strongest terms, against Christians entertaining the idea that the Law of Moses was in any sense binding upon them, and most particularly in reference to the 4th Commandment. Thus Tyndal, (the first translator of the Bible into English, who was burnt as a Martyr at Antworp, a.d. 1536) says:—

“As for the Sabbatli we are lords over it, and may yet change it into Monday, or

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