Calvin on the Weekly Christian Sabbath

Well, the Antinomians both ancient and modern "can deny" – and do so deny it! Yet not Calvin  no, not even when still in his twenties. Indeed, on behalf of all consistent Christians everywhere, he himself then asks about religious assemblies on stated days  and about the need of relaxation from daily labour then. Questions Calvin: "Who can deny that both are equally[!] applicable to us[!] as to the Jews?"

5 Inst. II:8:32. 6 Thus P. Fairbairn: The Typology of Scripture, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, n.d., p 452.



Calvin then further explains: "Religious meetings are enjoined us by the Word of God. Their necessity, experience itself sufficiently demonstrates. But unless these meetings are stated, and have fixed[!] days allotted to them  how can they be held? We must, as the Apostle expresses it, do all things decently and in order. I Cor. 14:40 [cf. 16:1-2]. So impossible, however, would it be to preserve decency and order without this politic arrangement  that the dissolution of it would instantly lead to the disturbance and ruin of the Church."

Calvin next asserts that "the reason for which the Lord appointed a Sabbath to the Jews is equally applicable to us" – namely Biblebelieving Christians. Consequently, "no man can assert that it is a matter with which we have nothing to do. Our most provident and indulgent Parent has been pleased to provide for our[!] wants no less than for the wants of the Jews…. Why should we not adopt the rule which the will of God has obviously[!] imposed upon us?"

The Genius of Geneva next attacks the Antinomians. He declares7 that "some restless spirits are now making an outcry about [and against] the observance of the Lord’s day. They complain that Christian people are [being] trained in Judaism  because some observance of days is retained. My reply is that those days are observed[!] by us[!] without Judaism  because in this matter we differ widely from the Jews. We do not celebrate it with most minute formality…, but we adopt it as a necessary[!] remedy for preserving order."

Correctly, concedes Calvin, "Paul informs…the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another (Rom. 14:5). But who, except those restless men [the Antinomians], does not see what the observance is  to which the Apostle refers? Those persons had no regard to that politic and ecclesiastical arrangement…. They dreamed that, by their [mere] cessation from labour, they were cultivating the mysteries….

"It was, I say, against this preposterous observance of days that the Apostle inveighs  and not against that legitimate selection which is subservient to the peace of Christian society. For, in the churches established by him, this was the use for which the Sabbath was retained. He tells the Corinthians to set the first day [of every week] apart  for collecting contributions…. I Cor. 16:2." My emphases throughout  F.N. Lee.

Calvin's next two sentences are crucial  but are frequently misquoted out of context. Consequently, we now present those sentences, and ourselves emphasize their key words  before then going on to state the Antinomian perversions thereof, and before thereafter ourselves refuting those perversions.

7 Inst. II:8:33.



Calvin next declares: "If superstition is dreaded, there was more danger in keeping the Jewish Sabbath  than [in keeping] the Lord’s day, as Christians now do. It being expedient to overthrow superstition, the Jewish holyday was abolished…. As a thing necessary to retain decency, order and peace in the Church [of the Lord Jesus Christ]  another day was appointed for that purpose."

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