Lonely Port

Chapter 8

City of the Sun

 Constantine, the man who changed the way of life of hundreds of millions. And that includes millions around you right now.

Who was Constantine?

 Roman historians will tell you that he was the forty-eighth Roman emperor. But world historians will tell you that he was one of the most influential men in all history.

For he changed the entire future course of Christianity in less than twenty-five years.

Here is what happened—and why; By the time of the reign of Emperor Diocletian (A.D. 284-305), Mithraism had reached its greatest power in the west. Diocletian divided the empire into four sections, and then determined to forever blot out Christianity. Some of the most terrible persecutions took place at this time. Fortunately, the worst of it lasted only ten years. Edicts were issued demanding that all Christian churches be torn down, the land sold and the proceeds turned over to the State.

Here is what happened:

 It was clear to all that this internal turmoil only deepened the problems within the Empire. What was needed was peace and a strong unity.

On the retirement of Diocletian in 305, it was an uphill fight among several men for the coveted title of Emperor. But out of it, Constantine was to emerge as the sole ruler of the vast Roman empire.

 Constantine's family was especially dedicated to the Sun god. And Constantine himself recognized that there were only two strong religions in the empire—Mithraism, the worship of the sun, and Christianity, the worship of Christ. Constantine's objective was to strengthen the empire in order to better resist the growing number of enemies to the north. He saw that in order to weld the empire into a single, powerful force able to meet the demands of the hour, there must be a uniting of the major religions. We are told that the bishop of Rome counseled with Constantine and advised him of the best course to take in order to win everyone into a single imperial church.

The crucial battle took place in October 312 at the Battle of Milvian Bridge. Soon afterward, Constantine enacted the Edict of Milan, by which Christianity was given full legal rights, equaling that of every other religion in the empire. More favors to the Church were soon to follow.

Then, on March 7, 321, the long-awaited unifying edict was issued—destined to unite the two leading religions into a single powerful State Church. This was his famous Sunday Law Decree, in which he required the observance of the day of the lord Mithra—the Sun day—as a day of worship by all peoples throughout the empire.

Here is the text of this decree:

“Let all judges and townspeople and occupations of all trades rest on the Venerable Day of the Sun [Sunday] ; nevertheless, let those who are situated in the rural districts freely and with full liberty attend to the cultivation of the fields, because it frequently happens that no other day may be so fitting for ploughing grains or trenching vineyards, lest at the time the advantage of the moment granted by the provision of heaven be lost. Given on the Nones [seventh] of March, Crispus and Constantine being consuls, each of them, for the second time."—Recorded in the Code of Justinian, Book III, title 12, law 3.

Constantine was not a Christian. At this very same time he was embellishing the Temple of the Sun in Rome. He continued to be a sun-worshiper until his death. The very next day after giving the Sunday law of March 7, 321, quoted above, Constantine enacted another law giving pagan soothsayers official acceptance in the Empire. In this law he stated that whenever lightning should strike the imperial palace or any other public building, the gods should be asked why it had happened—and that this was to be done through the heathen priests. They were to look at the entrails of beasts, freshly slaughtered in sacrifice to the pagan gods, and then tell the meaning of the lightning bolt.

Five additional Sunday laws were to be issued by Constantine within a very few years to strengthen this basic one of A.D.321.

Sunday was the great day of the Sun-worship cults as well as of compromising Christians. In his Sunday law, Constantine does not mention Christianity or Jesus or the Bible. The day is called "the Venerable Day of the Sun" (verarabili die solis).—This was the mystical name for the Day of the lord Mithra, god of the Sun. Both the heathen and the Christians well knew this. It is a recognized historical fact that when Constantine issued this first imperial Sunday edict of 321, enforcing the observance of Sunday, he was still a worshiper of Sol Invictus —the "Invincible Sun"—lord Mithra. And he was also the Pontifix Maximus (supreme pagan pontiff or priest) of all the Roman gods, which was the state religion.

In another of his six Sunday laws, he gave the order that all of the army troops be marched out on the drill field each Sunday in order to recite a prayer composed by the emperor for this purpose. It was worded in such away that it could be addressed to any god adored by mankind, and the soldiers were required to face the rising sun while uttering this prayer.

A French historian, Victor Duruy, explains the meaning of these weekly Sunday worship services:

"He [Constantine] sent to the legions, to be recited upon that day [Sunday] , a form of prayer which could have been employed by a worshiper of Mithra, of Serapis, or of Apollo, quite as well as by a Christian believer. This was the official sanction of the old custiom of addressing a prayer to the rising sun:”—Victor Duruy, History of Rome, Volume 7, p.489.

Constantine always favored the Sun god, but he was wise enough to know that he must unite it with Christianity in order to win all of the people to the worship of the Sun god on his day.

Although the True God had never appointed Sunday-keeping in place of the sacred Seventh-day Sabbath, yet Constantine, in counsel with the bishop (the "pope") of the local Christian Church at Rome, recognized that a combining of the principal features of the two dominant religions of the empire could bring peace and prosperity, both to the nation and to the religions within it. Unity based on compromise had the effect of bringing the world into the Christian Church in the Fourth Century, during the reign of Constantine. For before his death, Constantine had made Christianity the State Church of the Empire.

One excellent historical work tells us that Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea (c. 260-340), was "the special friend and flatterer of Constantine" (Great Controversy, p. 574). Eusebius was one of those who convinced the emperor that Sunday legislation would unite the Sun-god worshipers (the Mithraites) with the followers of Jesus. In one of his statements, Eusebius clearly explains that the apostate church was responsible for what Constantine did—and then he tells why: to transfer Christian worship to the "day of light"—the day of the holy Sun.

 "The logos [Christ] has transferred by the New Alliance [new covenant] the celebration of the Sabbath to the rising of the light. He has given us a type of the true rest in the saving day of the lord, the first day of light. In this day of light—first day and true day of the sun—when we gather after the interval of six days, we celebrate the holy and spiritual Sabbaths. All things whatsoever that were prescribed for the [Bible] Sabbath, WE have transferred them to the lord's day, as being more authoritative and more highly regarded and first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. In fact, it is on this day of the creation of the world that God said, 'Let there be light and there was light.' It is also on this day that the Sun of Justice has risen for our souls." Eusebius, Commentary on the Psalms, Psalm 91, in Patrologie Cursus Completus, Series Latina, ed. J.P. Migne, p. 23, 1169-1172.

Here are some comments by historians in regard to this momentous event, by which the pagan religions of the western civilized world were united with Christianity: "This [Sunday law] legislation by Constantine probably bore no relation to Christianity. It appears, on the contrary, that the emperor, in his capacity as Pontifix Maximus, was only adding the day of the sun, the worship of which was then firmly established in the Roman Empire, to the other ferial days of the sacred calendar." Hutton Webster, Rest Days, pp. 122-123. [Webster was an American anthropologist and historian.] .

"The [Catholic] Church made a sacred day of Sunday. . largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun;—for it was a definite Christian policy [at Rome] to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and to give them a Christian significance." Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, p. 145. [Dr. A.E. Weigall (1880-1937) was a high-ranking British Egyptologist in the Egyptian Government.]

"Remains of the struggle [between Christianity and Mithraism] are found in two institutions adopted from its rival by Christianity in the fourth century, the two Mithraic sacred days: December 25th, dies natalis solis [birthday of the sun], as the birthday of Jesus—and Sunday, 'the venerable day of the Sun: as Constantine called it in his edict of 321." Walter Woodbum Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, p. 60. [Hyde (1870- ? ) was an American ancient history professor and writer.]  

Certain historians agree that it was the pagan sun-worshipers—and not the Christians—who first gave the name 'Lord's Day' to Sunday. "The first day of each week, Sunday, was consecrated to Mithra [the most widely known sun-god of the early Christian centuries] since times remote, as several authors affirm. Because the Sun was god, the Lord par excellence, Sunday came to be called the 'Lord's day,' as later was done by Christianity." Agostinho de Almeida Paiva, O Mitraiomo, p. 3.

"The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect—far from them, and from the early Apostolic Church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday." Augustus Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and Church, Rose’s translation from the first German edition, p. 186. [Neander is generally considered to be one of the most important of the Protestant church historians of modem times.]

"Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, 321 A.D." Chambers' Encyclopedia, article, "Sabbath. "

"This [Sunday decree of A.D. 321] is the 'parent' Sunday law making it a day of rest and release from labor. For from that time to the present there have been decrees about the observance of Sunday which have profoundly influenced European and American society. When the Church became a part of the State under the Christian emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes, and later when the Empire was past, the Church in the hands of the papacy enforced it by ecclesiastical, and also by civil enactments." Walter Woodburn Ryde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 261. [Ryde was an ancient history professor in several American universities.]

"Constantine's decree marked the beginning of a long, though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday laws." Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast day Occupations, 1943, p. 29. [Catholic University of America dissertation.]

"What began, however, as a pagan ordinance, ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday." Hutton Webster, Rest Days, 1916, pp. 122-123, 270. [Dr. Webster was an historian teaching at the University of Nebraska.]

"Concerning the power of the Mithras cult [on Christianity], we still have evidence in the fact that it is not the Jewish Sabbath that is the sacred weekday (which Christianity, coming out of Judaism, had nearest at hand), but Sunday, dedicated to the Sun-god Mithra." R. Lamer, "Mithras”, Wurterbuch der Antike, 2nd ed., 1933. [Hans Lamer (1873-? ) was an archaeological writer and a student of ancient religions and civilizations.] ,

“There is scarcely anything which strikes the mind of the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with greater surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of the corruptions of Christianity , which are embodied in the Romish system, took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the first originators of many of these unscriptural notions and practices planted those germs of corruption, they anticipated or even imagined they would ever grow into such a vast and hideous system of superstition and error as is that of popery." John Dowling, History of Romanism, 13th edition, p. 65. [Dowling was a Protestant clergyman and historian of the early nineteenth century.]

 "It would be an error to attribute ["the sanctification of Sunday"] to a definite decision of the Apostles. There is no such decision mentioned in the Apostolic documents [the New Testament] " Antoine Villien, A History of the Commandments of the Church, 1915, p. 23.[Catholic priest and professor at the Catholic University of Paris]

"Rites and ceremonies of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept silently into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions. Officers for whom the primitive disciples could have found no place, and titles which to them would have been altogether unintelligible, began to challenge attention, and to be named apostolic." William D. Killen, The Ancient Church, preface, p. xvi. [Killan (1806-1902) was a Protestant church history professor in Belfast, Ireland.]

"In the year 321 the Emperor Constantine, who was not yet a declared Christian, but was still hovering between paganism and Christianity , issued a decree making Sunday a compulsory day of rest: but the fact that he speaks of Sunday as 'the venerable day of the Sun' [the pagan Sun-worship name for the day] shows that he was thinking of it as a traditional sun-festival at the same time that he thought of it as a Christian holy-day ..Sunday came to be observed throughout Europe as it is still observed by Roman Catholics, namely, as a day on which like our Christmas, people went to church in the morning and then gave themselves over to rest or to holiday-making and sports." Arthur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, pp. 236-237. [Dr. A.D. Weigall (1880-1927) was a British historian, Egyptologist and inspector-general of antiquities for the Egyptian Government.]

"The retention of the old pagan name, 'Dies Solis' [Day of the Sun] or 'Sunday' for the weekly Christian festival, is, in great measure, owing to the union of pagan and Christian sentiment, with which the first day of the week was recommended by Constantine to his subjects, pagan and Christian alike, as the 'venerable day of the sun' ..It was his mode of harmonizing the discordant religions of the empire under one common institution."-Dean Stanley, Lectures on the Eastern Church, Lecture 6, p. 184. [Stanley was an Episcopalian historian and church leader.]

"Constantine labored at this time untiringly to unite the worshipers of the old [pagan] and the new [Christian] faith in one religion. All his laws and contrivances are aimed at promoting this amalgamation of religions. He would by all lawful and peaceable means melt together a purified heathenism and a moderated [compromised] Christianity. .Of all his blending and melting together of Christianity and heathenism, none is more easy to see through than his making of his Sunday law. The Christians worshiped their Christ, the heathen their sun god; according to the opinion of the Emperor, the objects for worship in both religions being the same [the worship of the deities on a single day of the week] ." H.G. Heggtveit, Illustreret Kirkehistorie, 1895, p. 202. [Hallvard Heggtveit (1850-1924) was a Norwegian church historian and teacher.]

"The Jewish, the Samaritan, even the Christian, were to be fused and recast into one great system, of which the sun was to be the central object of adoration." Henry Hart Milman, The History of Christianity, Book 2, chap. 8 (Vol. 22, p. 175). [Dr. Milman (1791-1868) was an important historian of England and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London.]

And so it was, that Constantine turned Rome into the City of the Sun, and every passing century witnessed the passage of additional laws and decrees requiring the worship of Christ on the day earlier dedicated to Mithra—on pain of death.

And yet, ironically, Mithra himself was to pass away within fifty years after Constantine's time. For he wasn't needed anymore. Many of his errors had been made a part of official Christianity, and he disappeared from history. The same happened to the worship of Isis and Horus—the Egyptian Queen of Heaven and her infant son. Within half a century after the worship of Mary was required by Rome, the worship of Isis ceased. Its pagan devotees had switched over to Christianity and to the worship of statues of Mary of the sacred heart, holding an infant Son.

When Rome became the City of the Sun, a persecution of Christians—far more bitter than anything they had experienced earlier—began in earnest. And it continued for centuries.

More than fifteen additional Sunday laws were enacted and enforced by the State or the Catholic Church over the next several centuries. These laws restricted what could be done on Sunday, and forbade Sabbathkeeping. Each law became more strict, each penalty more severe. It is obvious that humble Christians were determined not to stop keeping the Bible Sabbath—the worship of God on the Seventh-day of the week. Sunday sacredness was responsible for the death of large numbers of Christians in the ages that followed.

Pope Gregory the Great (Gregory I 590-604), in his edict against Sabbathkeepers, declared that they were the preachers of antichrist. Here are his words:

"Gregory, bishop by the grace of God to his well-beloved sons, the Roman citizens: It has come to me that certain men of perverse spirit have disseminated among you things depraved and opposed to the holy faith, so that they forbid anything to be done on the day of the Sabbath [the seventh day] What shall I call them except preachers of antichrist, who when he comes, will cause the Sabbath day to be kept free from all work. .He compels the people to Judaize. . [and] wishes the Sabbath to be observed.

"On the Lord's day [Sunday], however, there should be a cessation of labor and attention given in every way to prayers, so that if anything is done negligently during the six days, it may be expiated by supplications on the day of the Lord's resurrection." Gregory 1, Epistles, Book 13, epis. 1, in Labbe and Cossart, Sacrosancta Concilia, Vol. 5, col. 1511.

Gregory well knew that the Bible Sabbath was given to mankind by the God of Heaven 1500 years before the first Hebrew was born (compare Gen 2:1-3-the Creation of the world, with Gen 12:1—the call of Abraham, the first Hebrew). It is an insult to the Creator to declare the Seventh-day Sabbath "Jewish." The Bible Sabbath came from God; it was not invented by the Jews.

Here are two other quotations from Catholics who lived in the Dark Ages:

"They do not hear the masses of Christians [Catholics] ..they flee the image of the Crucifix as the devil, they do not celebrate the feasts [Catholic holy days] of the divine Virgin Mary and of the apostles, ..Some indeed celebrate [keep] the Sabbath that the Jews observe!" Translated by J.J. von Doellinger, Beitlllege zur Sektengeschiechte des Mittelalters, Vol. 2, no.61, p. 662.

"Convicted heretics should be put to death just as surely as other criminals." Thomas Aquinas. [Aquinas (1225-1275) is the most important Roman Catholic theologian in all history. He was made a saint in 1323, and in 1889, Pope Leo XIII decreed that Acquinas' writings be the basis of all Catholic theology and belief. ]

For centuries, Christians were persecuted to the death for worshiping God on the Bible Sabbath. And yet, they refused to compromise their faith. The Seventh-day Sabbath is clearly in the Bible; Sunday-sacredness is clearly not. And so they were willing to die for genuine Bible religion.

Surprisingly enough, the great majority of all Christians still kept the Bible Sabbath as late as the Fifth Century—a hundred years after Constantine's time!

"As we have already noted, excepting for the Roman and Alexandrian Christians, the majority of Christians were observing the seventh-day Sabbath at least as late as the middle of the fifth century. The Roman and Alexandrian Christians were among those converted from heathenism. They began observing Sunday as a merry religious festival in honor of the Lord's resurrection, about the latter half of the second century A.D. However, they did not try to teach that the Lord or His apostles commanded it. In fact, no ecclesiastical writer before Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century even suggested that either Christ or His apostles instituted the observance of the first day of the week.

"These Gentile Christians of Rome and Alexandria began calling the first day of the week 'the Lord's day.' This was not difficult for the pagans of the Roman Empire who were steeped in sun worship to accept, because they referred to their sun-god as their 'Lord.' " E.M. Chalmers, How Sunday Came into the Christian Church, p. 3.

Sozomen and Socrates Scholasticus were two historians who lived in the Fifth Century A.D. They clearly state that the majority of Christians everywhere (except at Rome and Alexandria which were more corrupt) steadfastly worshiped God on the Bible Sabbath:

"Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this."-Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, chap. 22. [This is a very important statement, for it shows that most Christians were still keeping the Bible Sabbath in the Fifth Century-one hundred years after Constantine's Sunday law. Socrates Scholasticus was a Fifth Century historian who wrote shortly after A.D. 439.]

"The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria." Sozomen. Ecclesiastical History, vii, 19. in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers. 2nd series, Volume II. p. 390. [This valuable statement reveals that Christians were keeping the Bible Sabbath in the Fifth Century, but were also trying to satisfy the requirements of Constantine's Sunday law edict by observing the first day also. Hermias Sozomen was a Greek Christian church historian. He wrote this after A.D. 415.

Don't let anyone tell you that Christ and the Apostles kept Sunday holy. They did not. And don't let anyone tell you that most Christians kept Sunday within a century or two after the Bible was finished. They did not. The great majority of Christians were still keeping the Seventh-day Sabbath holy unto God—as late as the Fifth Century (400-499) A.D. It was only by letting the streets flow with blood, that the apostate church of Rome was able to turn the City of the Sun into an Empire of the Sun.

But now, we need to go back in history—to a time before this corrupted Christianity, to a holocaust that Jesus said would take place.