M. M. Knappen's observation, that the· Puritan doctrine of Sunday was a bit of English originality and perhaps the only important English contribution to the development of Reformed theology in the first century of its history, initiated this study; Some Sources of Puritan Sabbatarianism. Since sabbatarianism was not inherent in the teachings of the Continental Reformers it was necessary to look elsewhere for the Puritan inspiration.
The fifty-year period between 1535 and 1585 was chosen as the area of study because of two significant events that marked the beginning and the end of the period. July, 1537, saw the completion of the book entitled, Institutions of a Christian Man, sometimes called The Bishop's Book. This work was prepared on the direct order of Henry VIII to clarify the principles set forth in the Ten Articles. Its importance, for the purpose of this study, is that in its exposition of the Ten Commandments is the first comprehensive statement of sabbath observance made under the reform government of Henry VIII. This statement marks the beginning of the developing sabbatarian concepts of the early Tudor reform period. This work, like the Ten Articles, represented a compromise between Catholic and Protestant opinions with the balance slightly in favor of the former. The end of the era was marked by a series of lectures on the Ten Commandments delivered by the Anglican Divine, Lancelot Andrewes, at Cambridge. In his discussion of the fourth commandment, he took the disparate views of the sabbatarians and formulated a definitive doctrine of the Puritan sabbath giving it form and substance and, with the Bible, making it the foundation of the Puritan genius.
It was the writer's purpose to show.that in the intervening fifty-year period, particularly during the reign of Edward VI, many of the proto-Puritan writers had exhibited a growing awareness of the significance of a holy day and had attempted a formulation of doctrine. Also, during this period, the Council of. Trent (1545-1563) was meeting to restate the Catholic position. Its purpose was two-fold, to define the doctrines of the church in reply to the heresies of the Protestants, and to bring forth a thorough reform of the inner life of Christians. It sought not to change its basic form of organization but to assure that better men assumed the power of leadership.
The summation of the work of the Council was embodied in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, which was published in 1567. Part III deals extensively with the Law and the sabbath. As this represents the considered opinion of the Roman Church in the last half of the sixteenth century, it is in effect a restatement of the source from which the Puritans drew the inspiration for their sabbatarianism.
The major portion of the research was done in the Huntington Library and the balance at the British Museum. The main conclusions were drawn from original source material and extensive use was made of the Parker Society publications of Tudor theologians. Research also encompassed early English laws, the preaching of Dominican friars of Medieval England, ·a restricted area of literature of the Middle Ages, creeds of the Continental Reformers and the work of the Council of Trent. The original publications of Lancelot Andrewes' two works that bear on this subject, published in 1642 and 1675, were the basis of the conclusions regarding the important role he played in the formulation of the sabbath doctrine. Although these works were published much later than the period under consideration, there is sufficient evidence to show that his lectures were well known and notes taken from his lectures were in circulation well before 1585.
It was the purpose of this study to show that during the period between 1535 and 1585, the sabbath had, in a sense, moved spiritually from one religious community to another. What had been a Catholic doctrine in 1533, defended by the then champion of the church, Sir Thomas More, had by 1583 become a Puritan doctrine, enthusiastically restated by Lancelot Andrewes. In the Catholic Church the sabbath had been one holy day among many; in Puritan worship it became the epitomy of all that was holy. Only in this sense was it a unique Puritan contribution to the development of Reformed theology.
V. Norskov Olsen
Walter C. Mackett
Paul J. Landa
Master of Arts (MA)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Sabbatarians; Puritans -- Doctrines -- History
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Powers, John C., "Some Sources of Puritan Sabbatarianism" (1974). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 1016.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives