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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    September 8, 1887

    “The Fourth Commandment. No. 4” The Signs of the Times 13, 35, pp. 550, 551.

    WE have shown what works may be done on the Sabbath—relieving the sick or the distressed—“It is lawful to do well on the Sabbath day.” Yet that we shall do these things is not the purpose of the Sabbath. They may be done on the Sabbath day without doing contrary to the principle of the Sabbath, but they are only incidental. The prime object of the Sabbath day is that it is the memorial of God and his great works, and the best Sabbath-keeping, that which most nearly meets the design of the commandment of God, is that which has in it the most thought of God and his works. Says the Lord of the Sabbath, “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words; then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord.”SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.1

    Here the command is given to call the Sabbath a delight. but the Sabbath must really be a delight before we can really call it a delight. And if the Sabbath is not to us a delight, we do not get out of it that which God designs that we should. True Sabbath-keeping will always be a delight. The ninety-second psalm is entitled, “A Psalm or Song for the Sabbath day.” It was written by inspiration specially for the Sabbath day, and a careful study of it will give us an idea of what should be our occupation on the Sabbath.SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.2

    First, is the idea of worship: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High; to show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound.” Verses 1-3. The Sabbath therefore is the day set apart—sanctified—of the Lord, for the worship of God. Not simply individual or family worship, but for collective congregational worship as well, for it is written, “Six days shall work be done; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of rest, an holy convocation.” Leviticus 23:3. A “convocation” is an assembly or meeting. Therefore there must be on the Sabbath a holy meeting or assembly for the worship of God, for giving thanks unto him, for singing his praises, and for showing forth his lovingkindness and his faithfulness. It is one of the duties of men on the Sabbath to go to the assembly of the saints,—to go to meeting. The obligation to go to meeting is binding as well as is any other duty of the Sabbath day; and when it is within our power, we cannot neglect it and do right; in short we cannot neglect it and properly observe the Sabbath.SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.3

    Secondly, the mind is directed to the works of God: “For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work; I will triumph in the works of thy hands. O Lord, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. A brutish man knoweth not; neither doth a fool understand this.” Here is presented the one grand idea of the Sabbath of the Lord. That is, seeing God in his wondrous works. A fool does not understand it because, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.” And a brutish man does not understand it, because, although he sees the works of God above, beneath, and all about him, he does not see God in his works. That it is wherein the psalm refers to such a man as brutish. The brute eats and drinks, and sees all the works of God, that a man sees. The brute sees the trees, the flowers, the sun, the moon, the stars, the birds, he sees his fellow-brutes, he sees men, but in none of all these does he see God, nor is he thankful to him. So the man who sees all about him the wonderful works of God, and yet sees not God in and through all his works; the man who receives food and raiment from God and yet does not acknowledge nor thank him; that man in that is brutish. This is why the word speaks of such a man so. A brutish man is not made glad through the work of God; he does not triumph in the works of His hands; he makes him; that man in that is brutish. This is why the word speaks of such a man so. A brutish man is not made glad through the work of God; he does not triumph in the works of His hands; he makes no such exclamation as, “O Lord, how great are thy works!” nor does he say to the Lord, either in admiration or otherwise, “Thy thoughts are very deep,” for he never attempts to follow the thoughts of God. God does not want men to be so, and therefore he planted the institution of the Sabbath of the Lord made it a part of his holy law, and wrote that law in the heart of man, that man might keep him as Creator ever in mind and in heart; that man might see him in all his works and glorify him as the author of all things.SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.4

    How often and how clearly, in the word of God, we are directed to the contemplation of his works: Says Isaiah, “Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number; he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power, not one faileth.” See the stars, that cannot be numbered for multitude! But all these that we see are but a speck in space compared to the multitudes that lie beyond our sight. What makes the “Milky Way”? It is the multitude of stars so thickly set that the accumulated rays even from the depths of space make a distinct path of light spanning the whole heavens.SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.5

    “Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the heavens with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?” Why is it that, though “all the rivers run unto the sea yet the sea is not full”? How is it that, “unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again”? How is it that “the wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits”? How is it that “he stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hageth the earth upon nothing”? Why is the sea salt? Why is it that Britain, Denmark, the north of Germany, and the south of Scandinavia are all in the same latitude as Labrador, and yet are mild and habitable while Labrador, “as a permanent abode of civilized man, is on the whole one of the most uninviting regions on the face of the earth?” Why is it that ice forms at the bottom, as well as at the top, of the Baltic Sea? Why is it that it never rains in Peru, while in Brazil rain falls in such quantities as to create the largest river in the world? Why is it that the little snowdrop flower grows up straight for a while then bends its stock and bows its head for a while, then straightens up again and stays upright? How is it that in our solar system there are planets all the way from 36,000,000 to 2,760,000,000 miles from the sun, yet so far as the heat derived from the sun is concerned one is habitable as well as another? How is it that in a bunch of snow that a child might hold in its hands there is represented an amount of energy that would be required to pick up an Alpine avalanche and pitch it bodily over Mount Shasta?SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.6

    These and ten thousand other questions might be asked and investigated, in thinking of the wonderful works of God, on the Sabbath too, and if people would employ some of the Sabbath hours in such thought they would find the Sabbath to be indeed a delight. True many may say, “We don’t know anything about these things.” But God wants us to know, and therefore he tells us, “The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.” Psalm 111:2. If you will but exercise your mind in such a field as this you will soon find the greatest pleasure in it, and each consideration will conduce to the other—the more you seek them out the more pleasure you will have in the works of the Lord, and the more pleasure you have thus the more you will find delight in seeking them out. Thus the mind will be enlarged, the faculties developed and strengthened, the conceptions of God will be more sublime, the reverence will be deepened, and the worship more devout, and the Sabbath of the Lord which is set apart for the free and unrestrained exercise of the mind in these things, will be found ever more and more a blessing and a delight. If the mind be filled with thoughts of this kind, thoughts of God, it will be found not so hard to obey the injunction, to call the Sabbath a delight, to honor Him, and not to do thine own ways, nor find thine own pleasure, nor speak thine own words. For then the mind will be led upward to God, and the heart to contemplation of him, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth will speak the praises of God.SITI September 8, 1887, page 550.7

    This is the true idea of the Sabbath, and such is true Sabbath-keeping. Thus the Sabbath may easily be kept holy. And thus it will be found easy to obey the commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”SITI September 8, 1887, page 551.1