SOME divine authority for Sunday observance has been a want of many centuries, and many have been the efforts to supply it. Scripture has been wrested, history has been forged and tomes have been written, but all to no purpose; the fact still remained that Sunday was, as Neander says, “always only a human ordinance;” but now the lack has been supplied(?) and that in the very place where most needed, namely, in Tennessee, as is witnessed by the following from the Memphis Weekly Commercial :—
MILAN, Tenn., May 18.—Mr. J. A. Warner, of this city, has in his possession a wonderful letter, which is probably one of the oldest specimens in existence. It has been in the Warner family 173 years. It is written on material resembling parchment, and yellow with the age of two centuries. The copy and letter are presented as follows:—
COPY OF A LETTER
“Written by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and found eighteen miles from Iconium twenty-five years after our blessed Saviour’s crucifixion and transmitted from the holy city by a converted Jew, and faithfully translated from the original Hebrew copy now in possession of Lady Cubasa.
“This letter was found under a stone, both round and large, at the foot of the cross eighteen miles from Iconium near a village called Mesapotamia [sic.]. Upon this stone was written and engrave: ‘Blessed be he that shall turn me over.’ All that saw it prayed to God earnestly and desired that he would make known unto them the meaning of this writing, that they might not in vain turn it over. In the meantime a little child of about six or seven years of age turned it over to the admiration of all present, and under the stone was written the command of Jesus Christ in a letter published by the angel Gabriel ninety-eight years after the death of our Blessed Saviour and carried by a person belonging to Lady Cubass, and made public in the city of Iconium.”
“Glory to God on high and on earth good will to all men, whosoever worketh on the Sabbath day shall be cursed. I command you to go to church and to keep the Lord’s day holy without doing any manner of work. You shall not idle or mis-spend your time in decking yourselves in superfluous and costly apparel and vain dressing, for I have ordained a day to be kept holy that your sins may be forgiven: you shall not break My commandments, but observe and keep them written with My own hand. You shall not only go to church yourself, but your man servant and your maid servant, to observe My word and learn My commandments. You shall finish your labor every Saturday at six o’clock in the afternoon, from that time the preparation of the Sabbath begins.
“I advise you to fast five days in the year, beginning with Good Friday, and so continue the four first days following, in remembrance of the five bloody wounds received for mankind.
“You shall diligently and peacefully labor in your respective vocation wherein it has pleased Almighty God to place you.
“You shall love one another with brotherly love and cause them that are not baptized to come to church and receive the holy sacrament, and be made members thereof; and in so doing I will give many blessings, and comfort you in great temptation, and surely he that doeth to the contrary shall be cursed and unprofitable. I will also send hardships of heart upon them, but especially upon impenitent sinners and hardened unbelievers.
“He that giveth not to the poor shall be unprofitable.
Remember to keep the Sabbath day, for the seventh day I have kept to Myself, and he that hath a copy of this letter and keepest it without publishing it to others, shall not prosper, and he that publish it to others shall be blessed of Me, and if their sins be in numbers as the stars in the firmament and believe in this they shall be pardoned, and if they believe not in this writing and keep not My commandments I will send My plague upon them and their children and their cattle, and whosoever shall have a copy of this letter and keep it in the house nothing shall do them any damage, neither pestilence, lightning or thunder shall hurt them, and if a woman be with child and in labor and she firmly puts her trust in Me, she shall be delivered of her birth; you shall hear no more of Me, but of the blessed spirit, until the day of judgment.”
“JESU HOMINUM SALVTOR”Memphis Weekly Commercial.
This is not the first time that documents of this king have been discovered(?) in remarkable ways: and that they have a common origin is evident from their marked similarity: and yet they are not free from contradictions, which circumstance however is never taken seriously by the slave of tradition.
As related by J. N. Andrews, in is “History of the Sabbath,” pp. 287-390, there visited England in the year 1200 A.D., one Eustace, the abbot of Flaye in Normandy, and the burden of his preaching seems to have been Sunday observance. “At London also, and many other places throughout England,” remarks Hoveden, “he effected by his preaching that from that time forward people did not dare to hold market of things exposed for sale on the Lord’s day” [Sunday].
The abbot met much opposition, however, even from the clergy, and some were so inconsiderate as to demand of the zealous preacher that he cite some divine authority for the observance upon which he so strenuously insisted. The result was that he for a time abandoned the field and “returned,” says Hoveden, “to Normandy, unto his place whence he came.”
THE HOLY COMMANDMENT AMS TO THE LORD’S DAY
Which came from heaven to Jerusalem, and was found upon the altar of Saint Simeon, in Golgotha, where Christ was crucified for the sins of the world. The Lord sent down this epistle, which was found upon the altar of Saint Simeon, and after looking upon which, three days and three nights, some men fell upon the earth, imploring mercy of God. And after the third hour, the patriarch arose, and Acharias, the archbishop, and they opened the scroll, and received the holy epistle from God. And when they had taken the same, they found this writing therein:—
“I am the Lord, who commanded you to observe the holy day of the Lord, and ye have not kept it, and have not repented of your sins, as I have said in my gospel, ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.’ Whereas, I caused to be preached unto you repentance and amendment of life, you did not believe me, I have sent against you the pagans, who have shed your blood on the earth; and yet you have not believed; and, because you did not keep the Lord’s day holy, for a few days you suffered hunger, but soon I gave you fullness, and after that you did still worse again. Once more, it is my will, that no one, from the ninth hour on Saturday until sunrise on Monday, shall do any work except that which is good. 
“And if any person shall do so, he shall with penance make amends for the same. And if you do not pay obedience to this command, verily, I say unto you, and I swear unto you, by my seat and by my throne, and by the cherubim who watch my holy seat, that I will give you my commands by no other epistle, but I will open the heavens, and for rain I will rain upon you stones, and wood, and hot water, in the night, that no one may take precautions against the same, and that so I may destroy all wicked men.
“This do I say unto you; for the Lord’s holy day, you shall die the death, and for the other festivals of my saints which you have not kept: I will send unto you beasts that have the heads of lions, the hair of women, the tails of camels, and they shall be so ravenous that they shall devour your flesh, and you shall long to flee away to the tombs of the dead, and to hide yourselves for fear of the beasts; and I will take away the light of the sun from before your eyes, and will send darkness upon you, that not seeing, you may slay one another, and that I may remove from you my face, and may not show mercy upon you. For I will burn the bodies and the hearts of you, and of all of those who do not keep as the holy day of the Lord.
“Hear ye my voice, that so ye may not perish in the land, for the holy day of the Lord. Depart from evil, and show repentance for your sins. For, if you do not do so, even as Sodom and Gomorrah shall you perish. Now, know ye, that you are saved by the prayers of my most holy mother, Mary, and of my most holy angels, who pray for you daily. I have given unto you wheat and wine in abundance, and for the same ye have not obeyed me. For the widows and orphans cry unto you daily, and unto them you show no mercy. The pagans show mercy, but you show none at all. The trees which bear fruit, I will cause to be dried up for your sins; the rivers and the fountains shall not give water.
“I gave unto you a law in Mount Sinai, which you have not kept. I gave you a law with mine own hands, which you have not observed. For you I was born into the world, and my festive day ye knew not. Being wicked men, ye have not kept the Lord’s day of my resurrection. By my right hand I swear unto you, that if you do not observe the Lord’s day, and the festivals of my saints, I will send unto you the pagan nations, that they may slay you. And still do you attend to the business of others, and take no consideration of this? For this will I send against you still worse beasts, who shall devour the breasts of your women. I will curse those who on the Lord’s day have wrought evil.
“Those who act unjustly towards their brethren, will I curse. Those who judge unrighteously the poor and the orphans upon the earth, will I curse. For me you forsake, and you follow the prince of this world. Give heed to my voice, and you shall have the blessing of mercy. But you cease not from your bad works, nor from the works of the devil. Because you are guilty of perjuries and adulteries, therefore the nations shall surround you, and shall, like beasts, devour you.”
The promulgation of this document greatly stimulated Sunday observances in England as indeed its modern prototype may possibly do in Tennessee.
It will be noted that there is some conflict between the two documents as to the proper time to begin the observance of Sunday. The Sunday commandment, which now turns up in Tennessee, commands those to whom it is directed that “You shall finish your labors every Saturday at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, from that time the preparation of the Sabbath begins.” The document brought to England by the ablest names the “ninth hour [three o’clock] on Saturday” as the hour at which all work must cease, and many remarkable things are related as happening to those who disregarded this injunction. Hoveden relates some of these stories as follows:—
One Saturday, a certain carpenter of Beverly, who, after the ninth hour of the day was, contrary to the wholesome advice of his wife, making a wooden wedge, fell to the earth, being struck with paralysis. A woman also, a weaver, who, after the ninth hour, on Saturday, in her anxiety to finish a part of the web, persisted in so doing fell to the ground, struck with paralysis, and lost her voice. At Rafferton also, a vill belonging to Master Roger Arundel, a man made for himself a loaf and baked it under the ashes, after the ninth hour on Saturday, and ate thereof, and put part of it by till the morning, but when he broke it on the Lord’s day blood started forth therefrom; and he who saw it bore witness, and his testimony is true.
At Wakefield, also, one Saturday, while a miller was, after the ninth hour, attending to grinding his corn, there suddenly came forth, instead of flour, such a torrent of blood, that the vessel placed beneath was nearly filled with blood, and the mill wheel stood immovable, in spite of the strong rush of the water; and those who beheld it wondered thereat, saying, “Spare us, O Lord, spare thy people!”
Also, in Lincolnshire a woman had prepared some dough, and taking it to the oven after the ninth hour on Saturday, she placed it in the oven, which was then at a very great heat; but when she took it out, she found it raw, on which she again put it into the oven, which was very hot; and, both on the next day, and on Monday, when she supposed that she should find the loaves baked, she found raw dough.
In the same county also, when a certain woman had prepared her dough, intending to carry it to the oven, her husband said to her, “It is Saturday, and it is now past the ninth hour, put it one side till Monday;” on which the woman, obeying her husband, did as he commanded; and so, having covered over the dough with a linen cloth, on coming the next day to look at the dough, to see whether it had not, in rising, through the yeast that was in it, gone over the sides of the vessel, she found there the loaves ready made by the divine will, and well baked, without any fire of the material of this world. This was a change wrought by the right had of Him on high.
“The historian [Hoveden] laments that these miracles were lost upon the people, and that they feared the king more than they feared God, and so ‘like a dog to his vomit, returned to the holding of markets on the Lord’s day.’”
It is by such subterfuges as this Tennessee discovery and its legitimate predecessor invented by the Abbot Eustace, that the Sunday institution, now hoary with age, was first foisted upon the Christian Church; and it is by means little less dishonest that it is now maintained as a sacred day.