WE KNOW from several sources that
Christianity entered the British Isles in apostolic times. (Colossians
1:23.) Rev. Richard Hart, B. A., Vicar of Catton, says:
"That the light of
Christianity daawned upon these islands in the course of the first
century, is a matter of historical certainty"–
"Ecclesiastical Records," p. vii. Cambridge:1846.
Tertullian, about 200 A. D.,
included the Britons among the many nations which believed in Christ,
and he speaks of places among
to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ"–"Answer to the
Jews," chap. vii.
Dr. Ephraim Pagit, in his "Christianography,"
printed in London, 1640, gives an interesting account of the early
Christians in these islands. Before the church in the British Isles was
forced under the papal yoke, it was noted for its institutions of
The Rev. Mr. Hart says:
"That learning and piety
flourished in these islands during the period of their independence is
capable of the most satisfactory proof, and Ireland in particular was
so universally celebrated, that students flocked thither from all
parts of the world." –"Ecclesiastical Records," p.
He says, some came to
"Ireland for the sake of
studying the Scriptures"–Id., p. xi.
The Coming Of Patrick
Patrick, a son of a Christian
family in southern Scotland, was carried off to Ireland by pirates about
376 A. D. Here, in slavery, he gave his heart to God and, after six
years of servitude, escaped, returning to his home in Scotland. But he
could not forget the spiritual need of these poor heathen, and after ten
years he returned to Ireland as a missionary of the Celtic church.
"He had now reached his
thirtieth year [390 A. D.]."–"The Ancient British and
lrish Churches," William Catheart, D. D., p. 70.
Dr. E. Pagit says that
"Saint Patricke had in his
day founded there 365 churches" –"Christianography,"
Part 2, p. 10.
Dr. August Neander says of
"The place of his birth was
Bonnaven, which lay between the Scottish towns Dumbarton and Glasgow,
and was then reckoned to the province of Britain. This village, in
memory of Patricius, received the name of Kil- Patrick or
Kirk-Patrick. His father, a deacon in the village church, gave him a
careful education"–"General History of the Christian
Religion and Church," Vol. II, p. 122. Boston:1855.
Patrick himself writes in his
"I, Patrick, . . . had
Calpornius for my father, a deacon, a son of the late Potitus, the
presbyter .... I was captured. I was almost sixteen years of age . . .
and taken to Ireland in captivity with many thousand
men"–"The Ancient British and Irish Churches,"
William Catheart, D. D., p. 127.
Patrick Not A Catholic
To those who have heard of
Patrick only as a Catholic saint, it may be a surprise to learn that he
was not a Roman Catholic at all, but that he was a member of the
original Celtic church. There is no more historic evidence for Patrick's
being a Roman Catholic saint, than for Peter's being the first pope.
Catholics claim that Pope Celestine commissioned Patrick as a Roman
Catholic missionary to Ireland; but William Catheart, D. D., says:
"There is strong evidence
that Patrick had no Roman commission in Ireland."
"As Patrick's churches in
Ireland, like their brethren in Britain, repudiated the supremacy of
the popes, all knowledge of the conversion of Ireland through his
ministry must be suppressed [by Rome, at all cost.]"–Id., p.
The popes who lived contemporary
with Patrick never mentioned him.
"There is not a written word
from one of them rejoicing over Patrick's additions to their church,
showing clearly that he was not a Roman missionary .... So completely
buried was Patrick and his work by popes and other Roman Catholics,
that in their epistles and larger publications, his name does not once
occur in one of them until A. D.) 634."–Id., p. 83.
"Prosper does not notice
Patrick .... He says nothing of the greatest success ever given to a
missionary of Christ, apparently because he was not a
Romanist"–Id., p. 84.
"Bede never speaks of St.
Patrick in his celebrated 'Ecclesiastical History.'"–"Id.,
But, writinig of the year 431,
Bede says of a Catholic missionary:
"Palladius was sent by
Celestinus, the Roman pontiff, to the Scots [Irish] that believed in
Christ."–"Ecclesiastical History," p. 22.
But this papal emissary was not
received any more favorably by the church in Ireland, than was Augustine
later received by the Celtic church of Scotland, for
"he left because he did not
receive respect in Ireland"–"The Ancient British and Irish
Churches," William Catheart, D. D., p. 72.
No Roman Catholic church would
have dared to ignore a bishop sent them by the pope. This proves that
the churches in the British Isles did not recognize the pope.
Dr. Todd says:
"The 'Confession' of St.
Patrick contains not a word of a mission from Pope Celestine. One
object of the writer was to defend himself from the charge of
presumption in having undertaken such a work as the conversion of the
Irish, rude and unlearned as he was. Had he received a regular
commission from the see of Rome, that fact alone would be an
unanswerable reply. But he makes no mention of Pope Celestine, and
rests his defense altogether on the divine call which he believed
himself to have received for his work"– Id., pp. 81, 82.
"Muirchu wrote more than two
hundred years after Patrick's death. His declaration is positive that
he did not go to Rome."–Id., p. 88.
There are three reasons why
Patrick could not have been a Roman Catholic missionary: 1. Early
Catholic historians and popes avoided mentioning Patrick or his work;
until later legendary histories represented him as a Catholic Saint *14.
2. When papal missionaries arrived in Britain, 596 A. D., the leaders of
the original Celtic church refused to accept their doctrines, or to
acknowledge the papal authority, and would not dine with them. (Compare
1 Corinthians 5:11; 2 John 8-11.) They
"acted towards the Roman
party exactly 'as if they had been pagans"–"Ecclesiastical
Records," by Richard Hart, pp. viii, xiv. 3.
The doctrines of the Celtic
church of Patrick's day differed so widely from those of the Roman
church, that the latter could not have accepted it as
"Catholic." Patrick, and the churches he established in
Ireland, as well as the mother church in Scotland and England, followed
the apostolic practice of keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, and of
working on Sunday, as we soon shall see. But this was considered deadly
heresy by the Papacy.
Another leader in the Celtic
church deserves to be mentioned, Columba, who was born in Ireland, A. D.
521. Animated by the zeal and missionary spirit he found in the schools
established by Patrick, Columba continued the work of his predecessor,
and selecting twelve fellow workers, he established a missionary center
on the island of Iona. This early Celtic church sent its missionaries
not only among the heathen Picts of their own country, but also into the
Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. This
Sabbath-keeping church (as did their Waldensian brethren) kept the torch
of truth burning during the long, dark night of papal supremacy, till
finally they were conquered by Rome in the twelfth century. Professor
Andrew Lang says of them: "They worked on Sunday, but kept Saturday
in a Sabbatical manner"–"A History of Scotland from the
Roman Occupation," Vol. I, p. 96. New York:Dodd, Mead, and Co.,
Dr. A. Butler says of Columba:
"Having continued his labors
in Scotland thirty-four years, he clearly and openly foretold his
death, and on Saturday, the ninth of June, said to his disciple
Diermit: ' This day is called the Sabbath, that is, the rest day, and
such will it truly be to me; for it will put an end to my
labors.'"–"Butler's Lives of the Saints," Vol. I, A.
D. 597, art "St. Columba," p. 762. New York: P. F. Collier.
In a footnote to Blair's
translation of the Catholic historian, Bellesheim, we read:
"We seem to see here an
allusion to the custom, observed in the early monastic Church of
Ireland, of keeping the day of rest on Saturday, or the
Sabbath"–"History of the Catholic Church in
Scotland," Vol. I, p. 86. Professor James C. Moffatt, D. D.,
Professor of Church History at Princeton, says: "It seems to have
been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as
well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of
rest from labor. They obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the
seventh day of the week."–"The Church in Scotland,"
p. 140. Philadelphia:1882.
But the church of Rome could
never allow the light of pure apostolic Christianity to shine anywhere,
for that would reveal her own religion to be apostasy. Pope Gregory I,
in 596, sent the imperious monk Augustine, with forty other monks, to
Britain. Dr. A. Ebrard says of this "mission":
"Gregory well knew that
there existed in the British Isles, yea, in a part of the Roman
dominion, a Christian church, and that his Roman messengers would come
in contact with them. By sending these messengers, he was not 'only
intent upon the conversion of the heathen, but from the very beginning
he was also bent upon bringing this Irish-Scotch church, which had
hitherto been free from Rome, in subjection to the papal chair."
–"Bonifacius," p. 16. Guetersloh, 1882. (Quoted in
Andrews' "History of the Sabbath," fourth edition, revised
and enlarged, p. 532). Through political influence, and with
magnificent display, the Saxon king, Ethelbert of Kent, consented to
receive the pope's missionaries, and "Augustine baptized ten
thousand pagans in one day" by driving them in mass into the
water. Then, relying on the support of the pope and the sword of the
Saxons, Augustine summoned the leaders of the ancient Celtic church,
and demanded of them, "'Acknowledge the authority of the Bishop
of Rome.' These are the first words of the Papacy to the ancient
Christians of Britain." They meekly replied: "'The only
submission we can render him is that which we owe to every
Christian"–"History of the Reformation," D' Aubigne,
Book XVII, chap. 2.
"'But as for further
obedience, we know of none that he, whom you term the Pope, or Bishop of
Bishops, can claim or demand"–"Early British History,"
G. H. Whalley, Esq., M. P., p. 17 (London:1860) and "Variation of
Popery," Rev. Samuel Edger, D. D., pp. 180-183. New
Then in 601, when the British
bishops finally refused to have any more to do with the haughty
messenger of the pope, Augustine proudly threatened them with secular
punishment. He said:
"'If you will not have peace
from your brethren, you shall have war from your enemies; if you will
not preach life to the Saxons, you shall receive death at their
hands.' Edelfred, King of Northumbria, at the instigation of Augustin,
forthwith poured 50,000 men into the Vale Royal of Chester, the
territory of Prince of Powys, under whose auspices the conference had
been held. Twelve hundred British priests of the University of Bangor
having come out to view the battle, Edelfred directed his forces
against them as they stood clothed in their white vestments and
totally unarmed, watching the progress of the battle–they were
massacred to a man. Advancing to the university itself, he put to
death every priest and student therein, and destroyed by fire the
halls, colleges, and churches of the university itself; thereby
fulfilling, according to the words of the great Saxon authority called
the Pious Bede, the prediction, as he terms it, of the blessed
Augustine. The ashes of this noble monastery were smoking; its
libraries, the collection of ages, having been wholly
consumed."–"Early British History," G. H. Whalley,
Esq., M. P., p. 18. London:1860. See also "Six Old English
Chronicles," pp. 275, 276; edited by J. A. Giles, D. C. L.
D'Aubigne says of Augustine:
"A national tradition among the Welsh for many ages pointed to him
as the instigator of this cowardly butchery. Thus did Rome loose the
savage Pagan against the primitive church of Britain"–
"History of the Reformation,'' D'Aubigne, book 17, chap. 2.
This was a master stroke of Rome,
and a great blow to the native Christians. With their university, their
colleges, their teaching priests, and their ancient manuscripts gone,
the Britons were greatly handicapped in their struggle against the
ceaseless aggression of Rome. Still they continued the struggle for more
than five hundred years longer, till finally, in the year 1069, Malcolm,
the King of Scotland, married the Saxon princess, Margaret, who, being
an ardent Catholic, began at once to Romanize the primitive church,
holding long conferences with its leaders. She was assisted by her
husband, and by prominent Catholic officials. Prof. Andrew Lang
"The Scottish Church, then,
when Malcolm wedded the sainted English Margaret, was Celtic, and
presented peculiarities odious to the English lady, strongly attached
to the establishment as she knew it at home .... The Celtic priests
must have disliked the interference of an Englishwoman. "First
there was a difference in keeping Lent. The Kelts did not begin it on
Ash Wednesday .... They worked on Sunday, but kept Saturday in a
sabbatical manner"–"History of Scotland," Vol. I, p.
William F. Skene says:
"Her next point was that
they did not duly reverence the Lord's day, but in this latter
instance they seem to have followed a custom of which we find traces
in the early Monastic Church of Ireland, by which they held Saturday
to be the 'Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours."–"Celtic
Scotland," Vol. II, p. 349. Edinburgh: David Douglas, printer,
1877. "They held that Saturday was properly the Sabbath on which
they abstained from work."–Id., p. 350.
"They were wont also to
neglect the due observance of the Lord's day, prosecuting their
worldly labours on that as on other days, which she likewise showed,
by both argument and authority, was unlawful"–Id., p. 348.
Scotland Under Queen Margaret
Professor Andrew Lang relates the
same fact thus:
"The Scottish Church, then,
when Malcolm wedded the saintly English Margaret, was Celtic, and
presented peculiarities odious to an English lady, strongly attached
to the Establishment as she knew it at home .... "They worked on
Sunday, but kept Saturday in a sabbatical manner .... These things
Margaret abolished"–"A History of Scotland from the Roman
Occupation," Vol. I, p. 96. New York:Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1900.
The Catholic historian,
Bellesheim, says of Margaret:
"The queen further protested
against the prevailing abuse of Sunday desecration. 'Let us, she said,
venerate the Lord's day, inasmuch as upon it our Saviour rose from the
dead; let us do no servile work on that day. The Scots in this matter
had no doubt kept up the traditional practice of the ancient monastic
Church of Ireland which observed Saturday, rather than Sunday, as a
day of rest"–"History of the Catholic Church in
Scotland," Vol. I, pp. 249, 250.
Finally the queen, the king, and
three Roman Catholic dignitaries held a three-day council with the
leaders of the Celtic church. Turgot, the queen's confessor, says:
"It was another custom of
theirs to neglect the reverence due to the Lord's day, by devoting
themselves to every kind of worldly business upon it, just as they did
upon other days. That this was contrary to the law, she proved to them
as well by reason as by authority. 'Let us venerate the Lord's day,'
said she, 'because of the resurrection of our Lord, which happened
upon that day, and let us no longer do servile works upon it; bearing
in mind that upon this day we were redeemed from the slavery of the
devil. The blessed Pope Gregory affirms the same, saying: "We
must cease from earthly labour upon the Lord's day."'... From
that time forward . . . no one dared on these days either to carry any
burdens himself or to compel another to do so."–"Life of
Queen Margaret," Turgot, Section 20; cited in "Source
Book," p. 506, ed. 1922.
Thus Rome triumphed at last in
Scotland. In Ireland also the Sabbathkeeping church established by
Patrick was not long left in peace: "Giraldus Cambrensis informs us
that in the year 1155 [Henry II, King of England, was entrusted by Pope
Adrian IV with the mission of] invading Ireland [with devastating war]
to extend the boundaries of the church, [so that even the Irish would
become] faithful to the Church of Rome." The pope wrote Henry:
"'You, our beloved son in
Christ, have signified to us your desire of invading Ireland, . . .
and that you are also willing to pay to St. Peter the annual sum of
one penny for every house. We therefore grant a willing assent to your
petition, and that the boundaries of the Church may be extended, . . .
permit you to enter the island.'"–"Ecclesiastical Records
of England, Ireland, and Scotland," Rev. Richard Hart, B. A., pp.
Thus we see, that in Scotland an
"introduced changes which,
in Ireland, came in the wake of conquest and the sword. For example,
the ecclesiastical novelties which St. Margaret's influence gently
thrust upon Scotland, were accepted in Ireland by the Synod of Cashel
(1172) under Henry II. Yet there remained, in the Irish Church, a
Celtic and an Anglo- Norman party, 'which hated one another with as
perfect a hatred as if they rejoiced in the designation of Protestant
and Papist.'"–"History of Scotland," Andrew Lang,
Vol. I, p. 97.
But whether this triumph of
Catholicism over the native Celtic faith was accomplished by the
devastating wars of Henry II, or by Queen Margaret's appeal to Pope
Gregory, and her threat of the civil law, in either case it lacked an
appeal to plain Bible facts, accompanied by the convicting power of the
Holy Spirit. And, while the leaders of the Celtic church might
reluctantly yield to the civil authorities, the people, who had kept the
Bible Sabbath for centuries, requested divine authority for
Sunday-keeping. For some time the papal missionaries, who preached this
strange gospel to the Britons, fabricated all kinds of stories about
miraculous punishments that had befallen those who worked on Sunday;
Bread baked on Sunday, when it was cut, sent forth a flow of blood; a
man plowing on Sunday, when cleaning his plow with an iron, had it grow
fast to his hand, so that he had to carry it around to his shame for two
Forged Letter From Christ
When the Abbot Eustace, 1200 A.
D., was continually confronted with requests for a divine command for
Sunday-keeping, he finally retired to Europe,
and returned the next year with a spurious letter from Jesus Christ,
claimed to have fallen down from heaven upon St. Simon's altar at
Golgotha. This letter declared:
"I am the Lord .... It is my
will, that no one, from the ninth hour on Saturday (3 P.M.) until
sunrise on Monday, shah do any work .... And if you do not pay
obedience to this command, . . . I swear to you . . . I will rain upon
you stones, and wood, and hot water, in the night .... Now, know ye,
that you are saved by the prayers of my most holy Mother, Mary."
–"Roger de Hoveden's Annals," Vol. II, pp. 526, 527,
Bohn's edition. London:1853.
In that superstitious age such
childish fabrications might, to some extent, satisfy some people, but
four hundred years later the trouble flared up again.
"Upon the publication of the
'Book of Sports' in 1618, a violent controversy arose among English
divines on two points; first, whether the Sabbath of the fourth
commandment was in force among Christians; and, secondly, whether, and
on what ground, the first day of the week was entitled to be
distinguished and observed as 'the Sabbath.' In 1628 Theophilus
Brabourne, a clergyman, published the first work in favor of the
seventh day, or Saturday, as the true Christian Sabbath. He and
several others suffered great persecution."–Haydn's Dictionary
of Dates, art. "Sabbatarians," p. 602. New York:Harper and
Several ministers arose in
England about this time who defended the Bible Sabbath, and who were
bitterly persecuted by the state church. John Trask was put in prison;
his wife, a schoolteacher of a devout Christian character, remained in
prison for fifteen years. On November 26, 1661, John James, a godly
Sabbath-keeping preacher, was hanged for advocating the Sabbath truth,
"and his head was set upon a pole opposite the meeting house in
which he had preached the gospel."–"History of the
Baptists," Dr. J. M. Cramp, p. 351. London:Elliot Stock, 1868.
Dr. Thomas Bampfield *15,
who had been speaker in one of Cromwell's parliaments, wrote two books
defending the seventh-day Sabbath (1692, 1693), but he also was
imprisoned. In 1664, Edward Stennet, an English minister, wrote a book
entitled: "The Seventh Day Is the Sabbath of the Lord." But
like the rest, he had to spend a long time in prison.
In 1668 he wrote the following
letter to his Sabbath-keeping brethren in America: "Abington,
Berkshire, England, "February 2nd, 1668.
"Edward Stennet, a poor unworthy
servant of Jesus Christ, to the remnant in Rhode Island, who keep the
commandments of God, and the testimonies of Jesus, sendeth
"I rejoice in the Lord on
your behalfs that He hath been graciously pleased to make known to you
His holy Sabbath in such a day as this, when truth falleth in the
streets, and equity cannot enter. And with us we can scarcely find a
man that is really willing to know whether the Sabbath be a truth or
not, and those who have the greatest parts, have the least anxiety to
meddle with it.
"We have passed through
great opposition for the truth's sake, repeatedly from our brethren,
which makes the affliction heavier; I dare not say how heavy, lest it
should seem incredible; but the Lord has been with us, affording us
strength according to our day. And when lovers and friends seem to be
moved far from us, the Lord was near us, comforting our souls, and
quickening us, with such quick and eminent answers to our prayers, has
encouraged and established us in the truth for which we suffer. But
the opposers of truth seem much withered, and at present the
opposition seems declining away; the truth is strong, and this
spiritual fiery law will burn all those thorns which men set up before
it. For was there ever any ceremonial law given us? But this law was
given from the mouth of God, in the ears of so many
thousands–written on tables of stone with His own finger– promised
to be written on the tables of their hearts–and confirmed by a
miracle for the space of forty years in the wilderness, the manna not
keeping good any other day but the Sabbath ....
"It is our duty as
Christians, to carry it with all meekness and tenderness to our
brethren, who, through the darkness of their understanding in this
point, differ from us. We have abundant reason to bless our dear
Father, who hath opened our eyes to behold the wonders in His law,
while many of His dear servants are in the dark; but the Lord has in
this truth as in others, first revealed it unto babes, that no flesh
shall glory in His presence. Our work is to be at the feet of the Lord
in all humility, crying unto Him, that we may be furnished with all
grace to fit us for His work; that we may be instruments in His hands,
to convince our brethren (if the Lord will) who at present differ from
"Truly, dear brethren, it is
a time of slumbering and sleeping with us, though God's rod is upon
our backs. Oh! pray for us to the Lord,' to quicken us, and set us
upon watch-towers. Here are, in England, about nine or ten churches
that keep the Sabbath, besides many scattered disciples, who have been
eminently preserved in this tottering day, when many once eminent
churches have been shattered in pieces. The Lord alone be exalted, for
the Lord has done this, not for our sakes, but for His own name's
sake. My dear brethren, I write these lines at a venture, not knowing
how they will come to your hand. I shall commit them and you to the
blessing of our dear Lord, who hath loved us, and washed away our sins
in His own blood. If these lines come to you safely, and I shall hear
from you, hereafter I will write to you more largely The grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ be with you all'. Amen. "Edward Stennet."
–"An Original History of the Religious Denominations," I.
Daniel Rupp, p. 71. Philadelphia:1844.