On “The Continental View of the Sabbath”



John Calvin on Keeping the Lord’s Day



Order of Contents

History of  4
Continental Primary Sources  6



On the History of “The Continental Sabbath”



Fairbairn, Patrick – ‘Views of the Reformers Regarding the Sabbath’  being Appendix A to The Typology of Scripture, vol. 2, ed. Paul Barth and entitled, “The Myth of the ‘Continental View’ of the Sabbath”

Paul Barth: “The difference between the continental Reformed and the Puritans on the Sabbath is not very substantial and not to be exaggerated. Generally speaking, all are agreed:

1. The moral principle of the Sabbath is perpetual.

2. The Jewish 7th day Sabbath (and all other sabbaths of the old covenant) is abolished.

3. The rigor of the Sabbath in the Jewish dispensation is abolished (e.g. Ex. 35:3, 16:14).

4. The Lord’s Day was instituted by God—either immediately by Christ, or mediately by the Apostles.

5. The Lord’s Day is now that day the church meets publicly for worship (even if other days are also encouraged or allowed).

6. The day should be spent not only in public worship, but also private worship.

7. Cessation from labor and secular employments is required.

8. Works of mercy, charity, and necessity are encouraged & allowed.

9. The day should not be spent in idleness or viewed superstitiously like Jews do (as if resting and idleness per se is a spiritual and meritorious work).”



Myers, Andrew – ‘North Sea Cross-Pollination’  2009  5 paragraphs

The title refers to the mutual influence of the Scots and the Dutch in the doctrine of the Sabbath.  From a reference in Gilfillan, The Sabbath Viewed…  (1862), pp. 114-7, Myers sketches three major works on the Sabbath, namely from the two Scots, John Brown of Wamphray and Matthew Crawford (in Latin), and the Dutch, Jacobus Koelman (in Dutch).

Clark, R. Scott – ‘Are There Two Distinct Reformed Views of the Sabbath: Does the Continental View Really Exist?’  2013  11 paragraphs

Hyde, Daniel R. – Regulae de Observatione Sabbathi: The Synod of Dort’s Deliverance on the Sabbath’  Puritan Reformed Journal, 4, 1 (2012), pp. 161-83; also in Confessional Presbyterian Journal 12 (2016), pp. 173-83

Here is a podcast with Hyde on his article.



Carmichael, Casey – A Continental View: Johannes Cocceius’s Federal Theology of the Sabbath  Pre  (V&R, 2019)



On the 1600’s

Gerald Francis De Jong, The Dutch Reformed Church in the American Colonies  (Faith Alive Christian Resources, 1978), p. 43 citing The Laws and Ordinances of New Netherland 1638-1674, p. 93

“A decree of October 26th 1656 forbade in New Netherland the following activities on Sunday (the Sabbath): ‘all ordinary labor such as plowing, sowing, mowing,building, woodsawing, hunting and fishing.’  The decree also forbade on the Sabbath ‘All frequenting of taverns, dancing, playing ball, Tricktrack, cricket, tennis or ninepins.’ This was further enlarged on 10, September 1663 to include: ‘Roving in search for nuts and berries, excessive playing and screaming of children in Streets and Highways.'”



Continental Primary Sources


Burton, Henry – pp. 30-32  of A Brief Answer to a Late Treatise of the Sabbath Day Digested Dialogue-wise between Two Divines, A. & B.  (1635)

Burton was an English, Independent puritan.

Turretin, Francis – Institutes of Elenctic Theology  (P&R), vol. 2, 11th Topic

Question 13, ‘Whether the First Institution of the Sabbath was in the Fourth Commandment; and whether the Commandment is Partly Moral, Partly Ceremonial.  The Former we Deny; the Latter we Affirm.’, pp. 77-92

Question 14, ‘Whether the institution of the Lord’s Day is divine or human; Whether it is of necessary and perpetual or of free and mutable observance.  The former we affirm and the latter we deny (as to both parts).’, pp. 92-100




Johannes Althusius

Politica: an Abridged Translation  trans. F. Carney  (1603/1610/1614; Liberty Fund, 1995), ch. 21, § 25, p. 141

“The fourth precept is about sanctifying the sabbath in holy services through hearing, reading, and meditating upon the Word of God, and through use of the sacraments. Negatively, it is about not violating the sabbath through occupational employment, marketing, physical labors, games, jokes, frolics, feasts, or the mere form of piety.”


The Synod of Dort

As cited in Howard B. Spaan, Christian Reformed Church Government  (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1968), p. 208

“164th Session on May 17, 1619:

1.  There is in the fourth commandment of the divine law a ceremonial and a moral element.

2.  The ceremonial element is the rest of the seventh day after creation, and the strict observance of that day imposed especially on the Jewish people.

3.  The moral element consists in the fact that a certain definite day is set aside for worship and so much rest as is needful for worship and hallowed meditation.

4.  The Sabbath of the Jews having been abolished, the day of the Lord must be solemnly hallowed by Christians.

5.  Since the times of the apostles this day has always been observed by the old catholic church.

6.  This day must be so consecrated to worship that on that day we rest from all servile works, except those which charity and present necessity require; and also from all such recreations as interfere with worship.”



Koelman, Jacobus – The Argument, History & Practice of the Sabbath & the Lord’s Day  (Amsterdam, 1686)  110 pp.

“…the compilation of two works on the Sabbath published in 1685 by Jacobus Koelman (1632-1695), the Dutch Puritan divine…  (The Argument, History, and Practice of the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day). Gilfillan describes it thus:

‘The work is second in magnitude only to that of [John] Brown [of Wamphray], and, like it, is a complete thesaurus on its subject. The arrangement of topics, which is indicated by the title, is happy, and each of them receives its distinct and proportionate attention. It has a novel feature of peculiar interest in the historical account which it supplies of opinions on the Sabbath, and of Sabbatic controversies in England and the Netherlands.’

“Koelman and Brown were close friends, and in fact, Koelman translated certain works by Brown into Dutch.” – Andrew Myers




Related Pages

What Does Keeping the Lord’s Day Entail?

Recreations on the Lord’s Day?

The Whole Day is Sanctified

The Lord’s Day

Change to the First Day of the Week

When Does the Lord’s Day Begin?

Works of Necessity & Mercy on the Lord’s Day