Puritan Sabbatarianism or Reformed Sabbatarianism, often just Sabbatarianism, is strict observance of Sabbath in Christianity that is typically characterised by its avoidance of recreational activities. Unlike seventh-day Sabbatarians, Puritan Sabbatarians keep Sunday as Sabbath, calling it the Lord's Day. Puritan Sabbath, expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith, is often contrasted with Continental Sabbath: the latter follows the Continental Reformed confessions such as the Heidelberg Catechism, which emphasise rest and worship on the Lord's Day, but do not forbid recreational activities.
During the Protestant Reformation, the Reformers followed Thomas Aquinas's teaching that the Ten Commandments are an expression of natural law that binds all men, and therefore that the Sabbath commandment is a moral requirement along with the other nine. Martin Luther stated, "I wonder exceedingly how it came to be imputed to me that I should reject the law of Ten Commandments .... Whosoever abrogates the law must of necessity abrogate sin also." Luther's collaborator Philipp Melanchthon, in the Augsburg Confession, rejects the Roman Catholic treatment of Sabbath by observing, "Great, say [Roman Catholic pontiffs], is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!" Another Protestant Reformer, John Wesley, stated, "The moral law contained in the Ten Commandments, and enforced by the prophets, He did not take away .... The moral law stands on an entirely different foundation from the ceremonial or ritual law .... Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind and in all ages."
During the Vestiarian controversy, Reformers were spurred to develop the regulative principle of worship, a fundamental article that no corporate worship is permissible that does not have the sanction of Scripture, whether stated explicitly, or derived by a necessary deduction from Scripture. By the 17th century, Puritans had applied the regulative principle to devote first-day Sabbath entirely to God, indulging in neither the labors nor the recreations common to the other six days.
||The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the English-speaking world and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (July 2012)|
Sunday Sabbatarianism as jure divino or divinely ordained command, in contrast to non-Sabbatarian and antinomian reliance on Christian liberty, thus was a closely linked development to the regulative principle amongst English Protestants over the 17th century. Stricter observance of Lord's Day arose in England and Scotland, in reaction to the Prelatic laxity with which Sunday observance was customarily kept, which included recreations classified as lawful. Opposed also by seventh-day Sabbatarians John Traske, Theophilus Brabourne, and the Seventh-day Baptists, some Puritans stated that Sabbath was a proportion (one-seventh) rather than a particular day (either Saturday or Sunday), while others further specifically identified the first day as Christian Sabbath.
Puritan Sabbatarianism is enshrined in its most mature expression, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), in the Calvinist theological tradition (Chapter 21, Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day, sections 7-8):
7. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.
8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe a holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
Jonathan Edwards delivered three sermons on The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath that are central to Puritan tradition. The first sermon emphasises Sabbath as an immutable, divine natural and positive law (as to proportion), while the second emphasises an alteration of "another law, which determined the beginning and ending of their working days" (as to order); the first day of creation is regarded as unknowable, and the weekday assigned to Sabbath regarded as not revealed until the Exodus. The third sermon regards the proper keeping of Sabbath: "We are strictly to abstain from being outwardly engaged in any worldly thing, either worldly business or recreations," because "the sabbath-day is an accepted time, a day of salvation, a time wherein God especially loves to be sought, and loves to be found."
Reformed Sabbatarian theologian G. I. Williamson accordingly suggests that "television, reading of newspapers and magazines, and engaging in sports and excursions ... are not proper to the Sabbath because 'Sabbath' means to cease from these things in order to give one day exclusively to worship and the reading of God's Word, etc." The cessation described entails all engrossing activities of the six days of the week, whether employment or recreations, and thus specifically excludes ceasing only from work while continuing favorite recreations. Williamson affirms striving toward holiness, calling it a lofty goal to avoid "even thoughts and words about our worldly employments or recreations."
See also 
- Dennison Jr., James. "The Perpetuity and Change of the Sabbath". Ligonier Ministries.
- Cramb, Auslan (13 April 2006). "The 'sinners' set sail for the Hebrides". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Marsden, George (1991). Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism. Eerdmans. p. 25.
- Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 103.
- Bauckham, R. J. (1982). "Sabbath and Sunday in the Medieval Church in the West". In Carson, Don A. Zondervan. pp. 299–310. Unknown parameter
- Martin Luther, Spiritual Antichrist. pp. 71–2.
- The Augsburg Confession, 1530 A.D. (Lutheran), part 2, art 7, in Philip Schaff, the Creeds of Christiandom, 4th Edition, vol 3, p64
- John Wesley, "Sermons on Several Occasions," 2-Vol. Edition, Vol. I, pages 221, 222.
- Williamson, G. I. (1978). The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes. Presbyterian and Reformed. pp. 170, 173.
- Edwards, Jonathan (1839). "The Works of Jonathan Edwards" 2. pp. 93–103.
- Bright, Steve (2003). "Sabbath Keeping and the New Covenant". Christian Research Journal (Christian Research Institute) 26 (2).
- Williamson, G. I. (1977) . The Shorter Catechism 2. Tyson, Thomas, illus. Presbyterian and Reformed. p. 47.
- Olyott, Stuart. "Why Sunday?". Day One Christian Ministries. Retrieved 25 May 2012.