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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    August 25, 1887

    “The Fourth Commandment. No. 2” The Signs of the Times 13, 33, p. 518.

    “REMEMBER the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” Although this is the plainly expressed command of God, and although there are multitudes who profess to obey it, yet there is just ground to fear that of this multitude those who do really obey it are few. Of course those who profess to obey it by keeping the first day of the week do not obey it at all. This is certain because the Lord’s own word in explanation of this is that “the seventh day is the Sabbath.” All who keep Sunday therefore must be set down at once as not obeying the command to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” But after dropping all these, it yet remains that there is just cause for fear that of those who really observe the seventh day, the true Sabbath, there are few who really obey the command to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” In fact we very much fear that of these there are many who don’t even try to obey it.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.1

    What! keep the seventh day, the true Sabbath, and yet don’t try to obey the commandment that says, “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy”? Yes, that is what we very much fear is the case with many even of Seventh-day Adventists, because they try to obey something that is not the commandment. They misread the commandment thus: Remember the Sabbath-day and keep it holy, and then try to keep that instead of the real command of God, “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.” This we fear because we have so often heard it thus read wrong; and we cannot see how that a person who habitually reads or quotes it wrong can obey it right. At the best they can only live up to the conception of the commandment which they have in their own minds, and if their conception of the commandment is incorrect, it can only be that obedience according to that incorrect conception is defective also. The obedience is in the right line, of course, and it is right as far as it goes, but it does not go far enough to meet the requirement of the commandment. We have actually heard Seventh-day Adventist ministers quote that commandment, over and over, as though it was written, Remember the Sabbath-day and keep it holy. It fairly seemed as though they really supposed that to be the idea of the commandment.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.2

    It may be supposed that the difference between “to” and “and” is so slight as to make not so much difference as we would seem to insist is there. True, the difference is not so great as to make the words opposites, but it is sufficient to involve a very important principle in the keeping of the commandment. The truth is that in that little word “to” lies the very gist of the commandment. Webster defines “to” thus: “The preposition to ... indicates motion, course, or tendency toward a time, a state or condition, an aim, or anything capable of being regarded as a limit to movement or action.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.3

    Now let us read the commandment in the light of this definition: “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” What does “to” mean? Motion, course, or tendency toward (1) “A time.” What time is the object of this “to”? The Sabbath-day. (2) “A state or condition.” What is the state or condition of rest—“in it thou shalt not do any work.” (3) “An aim.” What is the aim? “The Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” (4) “Anything capable of being regarded as a limit to movement or action.” What is the limit of the movement or action allowed under this commandment? The seventh day, which is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. Our movement or action is limited to six days by the regular recurrence of the seventh day, the Sabbath of the Lord. Therefore the Sabbath of the Lord fully meets the requirement of the word “to” in the commandment, as being the object of our motion, course, or tendency under the guidance of God, in that it is “a time, a state or condition, an aim,” and “a limit” to our “movement or action.” And that it may ever be held in view as such is the purpose of God in commanding all men to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.4

    When, therefore, does the obligation of this commandment begin? when should we begin to obey it? Whenever conscious motion or tendency toward it begins, certainly. And right here is where we can detect the difference between the “to” that is in the commandment and the “and” that is put into it by those who misquote it so. When the sun has set and the Sabbath is past, Saturday evening, many think they have no more to do with the Sabbath, at any rate until the next Friday—the preparation day—comes, and then that it is mostly the women in the house who are to act in view of it in baking and boiling that which shall be necessary on the Sabbath to follow, while out on the farm the remembrance of it does not begin till toward the middle of the afternoon, or perhaps not till about sunset; then the putting away of the teams and all the preparatory chores follow sunset, and so are done on the Sabbath. Now if the commandment read, Remember the Sabbath-day and keep it, such a course might be considered obedience to it—except of course in the case of those who do their closing work of the week on the Sabbath itself—but so long as the commandment reads, “Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy,” in no case could any such course be considered obedience to it. Because unless we remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy, we cannot keep it holy. Unless we remember it as it comes, we cannot keep it when it comes. Therefore, when the sun has set and the Sabbath has passed away, just then begins our motion and tendency toward the Sabbath-day, and just then begins the obligation to “remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy;” just then must begin or rather must not cease our obedience to this commandment.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.5

    In fact, the obligation of this commandment, and the duty of active obedience to it, never depart from us in any minute of life, any more than any other one of the sacred ten. Obedience to this commandment is not at all confined to the hours of the Sabbath-day itself, but it attaches to every conscious minute, and enters into every act and plan of life. Never are we free from the obligation to “remember the Sabbath-day TO keep it holy.” It is the “time” toward which we are constantly moving during the hours and days of the week, and we must remember it. Its rest is the “state or condition” which follows the labor of the week, and we are to remember it so, when that labor begins at the beginning of the first day of the week, the first laboring day. To be not inconsistent with the keeping of the Sabbath holy must be the aim of all labor, and all plans of the laboring days as the days go by. And, finally, its sacred threshold it is which marks the limit of our movements or action of labor. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath-day, is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work. And this must be remembered at the very beginning of the work of the six days, and all through them, remembering the Sabbath-day to keep it holy.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.6

    Thus the obligation of the commandment covers the whole week—during the six working days remembering the Sabbath to keep it, and then when the Sabbath has fully come, to keep it. It is because of this important principle that the Hebrew idea of the Sabbath covered the whole week, and by which the days of the week, instead of being called first day, second day, etc., of the week, were called day one of the Sabbath, day two of the Sabbath, and so on to day six of the Sabbath, and then Sabbath; thus throughout the week keeping ever before the mind the Sabbath, which is really the aim and object of the week, and which is so set before the minds of all men in the commandment of God, “Remember the Sabbath-day TO keep it holy.” The person who so far forgets the Sabbath-day during the week, as to involve himself in work, or in plans that will distract his mind from the proper contemplation and worship of God on the Sabbath, disobeys the commandment of God—he does not “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy,” consequently he cannot remember it and keep it holy.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.7

    As God designed the Sabbath of the Lord to be the sign of the true God, the Creator of all things, and the memorial of his created works, so in his commandment to “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy,” he designed to keep ever in the minds of men the remembrance of himself and of his wonderful works. Therefore, “remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy” “then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.8