June 4, 1896
SUN worship was doubtless the earliest form of idolatry, as it was also the most debasing.
In all probability the orb of day was first adored, not as God, but as his most fitting representative. That it soon came to be regarded as God was not only the logical but even the necessary result.
To the sun was early ascribed life-giving power. His rays shining on the earth caused her to bring forth her fruits in their seasons. All nature responded to his genial warmth. What was more natural than that man, forgetting the Source of all light and life, into whose presence he no longer permitted to come, should change “the truth of God into a lie,” and worship and serve “the creature more than the Creator”?
“A dark cloud stole over man’s original consciousness of the Divinity,” says Döllinger, 660 “and, in consequence of his own guilt, an estrangement of the creature from the one living God took place; man, as under the overpowering sway of sense and sensual lust, proportionally weakened, therefore, in his moral freedom, was unable any longer to conceive of the Divinity as a pure, spiritual, supernatural, and infinite Being, distinct from the world, and exalted above it. And thus it followed inevitably, that, with his intellectual horizon bounded and confined within the limits of nature, he should seek to satisfy the inborn necessity of an acknowledgment and reverence of the Divinity by the deification of material nature; for even in its obscuration, the idea of the Deity, no longer recognized, indeed, but still felt and perceived, continued powerful; and in conjunction with it, the truth struck home, that the Divinity manifested itself in nature as ever present and in operation.” But how terribly has the truth of God’s presence in nature been perverted!
The phenomena of nature differ but little in various countries, and the human heart is everywhere the same. Whether in the valley of the Nile, on the banks of the Euphrates, on the shores of the Mediterranean, or in the valleys of Mexico or the mountains of Peru, the sun appeared as the great benefactor of the race, and was worship under various forms and titles.
More properly speaking, certain functions or power supposed to reside in the sun were worshiped,—indeed, sun worship was simply the worship of the power of reproduction in nature, including man.
“The influence of the sun on nature,” says the Encyclopedia Britannica,” “either brightening the fields and cheering mankind, or scorching and destroying with pestilence, or again dispelling the miasma collected from marshes by night, was … taken to be under the control of a divine being, to whom men ascribed, on human analogy, a form and character in which were reflected their own sensations.” 661
All ancient religions except Judaism and Christianity (and they are really one), were  almost wholly sun worship, or nature worship, which is the same thing, as the sun plays so important a part in all the processes of nature. 662 All pagans were polytheists, but the chief deity everywhere was the sun, or, as we have already explained, some real or fancied power of that great luminary, and all others were honored because of their fancied relation to him.
One of the gods of Egypt was Ammon, which name “is said to have meant, etymologically, ‘the concealed god;’ and the idea of Ammon,” says Rawlinson, 663 “was that of a recondite, incomprehensible divinity, remote from man, hidden, mysterious, the proper object of the profoundest reverence. Practically this idea was too abstract, too high-flown, too metaphysical, for ordinary minds to conceive of it; and so Ammon was at an early date conjoined with Ra, the sun, and worshiped as Ammon-Ra, a very intelligible god, neither more nor less than the physical sun, the source of light and life, ‘the lord of existences, and support of all things.’”
The Greeks worshiped the sun under various names, among which was Adonis. The same name was also applied to the sun by the Babylonians by whom it was associated with Tammuz. 664 But both were sun gods, the former being the father of the latter. Tammuz was the “sun when obscured by night or in winter.” That is to say, Adonis was the sun shining in his strength; Tammuz, the same luminary, wholly or partly obscured. Hence the custom of weeping for Tammuz and rejoicing at his “resurrection.” A similar relation was by the Egyptians supposed to exist between Ra and Osiris, namely, that of father and son.
The Feast of Tammuz.
The annual festival of Tammuz, “which celebrated his supposed death and resurrection, was a time of mourning followed by one of joy.” 665 It was one of the most abominable of festivals, being a season of prostitution as a religious rite. It was upon the occasion of the celebration of this festival that Babylon was taken by the Medes and Persians, as recorded in the 5th chapter of Daniel. Reference is also made to this most abominable of religious customs in Ezekiel 8:14.
Sun worship always involved a multitude of gods. Probably no people ever exceeded the Egyptians in the number of their objects of worship, but they were all more or less remotely connected with sun worship.
Like other nations of antiquity the Egyptians attributed to the sun life-giving, or reproductive power, and like the Babylonians, some of their religious rites were too vile for description. They worshipped both the male and female principle in nature, the former residing in the sun and derived from him; the latter belonging to the earth, moon, etc.
The most sacred symbol of divinity was the bull-god Apis. This beast was kept at Memphis and was attended by nude women. But Ra or Ammon-Ra was preëminently the sun-god of the Egyptians “and was,” says Rawlinson, “especially worshipped at Heliopolis. Obelisks, according to some, represented his rays, and were always, or usually, erected in his honor.” 666
Osiris was a form of Ra, and corresponded in some respects to the Babylonian Tammuz, the Roman Hercules and the Greek Adonis. “He was the light of the lower world,” says Rawlinson, “from the time he sinks below the horizon in the west to the hour he reappears above the eastern horizon in the morning. This physical idea was however, at a later date modified, and Osiris was generally recognized as the perpetually presiding lord of the lower world, the king or judge of Hades or Amenti,” hence was specially worshiped by penitents.
A Roman at the Altar of Osiris
Our illustration is a scene in the temple of Osiris at Abydos. The visitor from the city of Romulus, finds in the Egyptian Osiris simply another phase of Hercules, and having offered his petition to this god of Kem, he receives with all the humility at the command of a Roman, the blessing of the Egyptian priest ministering at the altar of “the lord of the lower world.”
Sun-worship has left its indelible mark upon the civilization of the race. Even modern Christianity is largely influenced by some of its customs. At a very remote period the days of the week were dedicated to the principal heavenly bodies. The sun being regarded as the source of all things was honored with the first place; and his day, identical with the modern Sunday, was esteemed the most sacred of festivals. It was not however, a period of rest but one of festivity; nor was it until the early centuries of the Christians era that it came to have any sabbatic character whatever, which was first attached to it by Gentile “Christians” in opposition to the Sabbath observed by the Jews.
The Sabbath of the Hebrews was the seventh day, and was given to them by the Jehovah as a memorial of the finished creation. Sunday was the sign, rather of the continual activity of the sun, and was by the pagans contrasted with the Sabbath rather than likened to it. The Sabbath testified that “the works were finished from the foundation of the world”; the Sunday, that the creation was still in progress under the divine energy of the Sun. The two days were the signs of rival systems.
Reason for Sunday Observance
When the early Christians, from reasons of expediency, adopted the Sunday of paganism in lieu of the Sabbath of the Lord, they adopted likewise the pagan reason for its observance, conjoining it, however, to some extent, with reasons for the true Sabbath, and of course ascribing the work which it was supposed to commemorate to Jehovah instead of to the sun, as did the pagans. For instance, Justin Martyr, in his apology for the Christians, addressed to the Emperor of Rome, said: “Upon Sunday we all assemble, that being the first day in which God set himself to work upon the dark void, in order to make the world.” Of course, to the pagan the sun was God, and the reason assigned by Justin Martyr was the pagan reason for honoring the sun’s day.
It will be seen that Sunday in its every phase is opposed to the Sabbath of the Lord, and it is for this reason that Sabbatarians uniformly refuse to pay it any regard. Instead of being the Christian Sabbath, it is, and always has been, the symbol of a false god and a false and debasing worship—a worship the most hateful to God of any form of idolatry. (See 8th chapter of Ezekiel.)