The Seventh-Day Men

The Seventh-Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800

This book traces the history of the widespread Sabbathkeeping movement in Britain during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Brian Jones, pastor, Lewisburg Seventh-day Adventist Church, West Virginia.

The book is a result of 10 years of research tracing the existence, activities, and chief persons of the widespread Sabbathkeeping movement in Britain during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Ball carefully documents from that era the existence of more than 100 Sabbathkeeping groups, mostly Baptists and Seventh Day Baptists, but also Calvinists, Congregationals, Huguenots, Independents, Puritans, and Quakers. Some of these Sabbatarians even observed biblical health laws, an indication that their recovery of long-forgotten Bible truths was extensive.

Ball cites the literature of such great Sabbatarians as Traske, Brabourne, and the Stennetts. These writers were sufficiently influential to have provoked a flurry of anti-Sabbath books and tracts during the 1650s and 1670s from such eminent divines as Baxter, Owen, and Bunyan. But defenders of the Sabbath proved irrefutably the perpetuity of God's law as integral to the new covenant. Some Sabbatarian authors gave pointed exposition to Daniel's prophecy (Dan. 7) that foretells and anathematizes Rome's attempted change of God's law in substituting Sunday for the true Sabbath.

Ball asserts that the Protestant resolve to free the church from all Romanist influences and heresies gave strong, irrepressible influence to the development of Sabbatarian theology and practice. He also affirms that the "English seventh-day movement was more a spontaneous response to the recovered authority of the Bible than a historically or geographically conditioned phenomenon" (p. 46). Thus the revival of Sabbathkeeping in Britain bears little evidence of a nationally organized movement, which accounts partly for the gradual decline and eventual disappearance of most Sabbathkeeping congregations in England by the early nineteenth century.

Ball validates his findings from primary sources, avoids speculation about any of his data, and aims rigorously at objectivity. The book is written in a relaxed, nonpedantic style all too rare in scholarly literature. It will command the respect of all readers who are interested in this remarkable but almost forgotten portion of church history.

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Brian Jones, pastor, Lewisburg Seventh-day Adventist Church, West Virginia.

September 1997

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