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    February 20, 1889

    “A Tangible Object” American Sentinel 4, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The following letter was received from a gentleman in the State of New York. We print it entire, in order that all who have similar ideas may receive the benefit of our reply:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.1

    EDITOR OF SENTINEL:—Dear Sir: Someone is kind enough to send your paper to me. In it I find much to admire, but some things which to my mind militate against your general object-the correction of existing evils in society.AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.2

    I believe there is such a thing as the true church of Christ; but that it is not the Roman Catholic, nor the Greek, nor the Protestant Episcopal, nor the Methodist Episcopal, nor the Presbyterian, nor the Baptist, nor the Congregational, nor any other humanly constituted organization; but that it has in its membership all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ as their present Saviour from sin, and who, by virtue of his faith, are saved, regenerated, made new creatures in him, and who, consequently, are living out his life among men. This body of people, for they are “one body,” I believe to be the “little stone cut out of the mountain without hands,” which, increasing in magnitude with an ever-accelerated momentum, is to subdue all opposed to it, until it fills and rules the whole earth. Of the rule of such a church, there must be no fear.AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.3

    Human laws and institutions must, therefore, more and more conform to the divine, as this divinely constituted church goes forward in its mission of subduing and assimilating all things to its own likeness. Already as the divine law prohibits theft, and adultery, and murder, etc., so also do our human laws. And quite recently we have conformed our human Constitution to the divine in making it repeat the command, “Let the oppressed go free.” And now again the nation is rising up to prohibit that which, legalized as it now is, virtually legalizes theft, and adultery, and murder, and every other abomination which only men under the influence of strong drink are capable of, thus giving a new and most striking evidence of the purpose and power of the “little stone” to subdue all things to itself.AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.4

    This result achieved, and the final conquest will be near at hand; for the little demons, seeing their great leader slain, will take to their heels and fly away, leaving the field in possession of its rightful Lord and Law-Giver, and the universal shout shall go up, “Allelujah, the Lord omnipotent reigneth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.”AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.5

    Our correspondent is mistaken in his supposition that the “general object” of the SENTINEL is “the correction of existing evils in society.” This is not its object; it has never contemplated so impossible a task. Its sole object is, as stated, in its prospectus, “the defense of American institutions, the preservation of the United States Constitution as it is, so far as regards religion or religious tests, and the maintenance of human rights, both civil and religious.” This is the sole work of the AMERICAN SENTINEL. There are plenty of papers devoted wholly to showing the evils of intemperance, and to working in other lilies of reform; but the SENTINEL is comparatively alone in calling attention to the evils of religious legislation, and to the imminent danger which this country is in because of it. That even in its special field it will be able to prevent bigoted and selfish, and well-meaning but deceived men from passing unjust and oppressive laws, its editors are not vain enough to imagine; their highest hope is, by warning people of impending danger, to arouse those who lov&real liberty to take a stand for it-to keep them from being taken by surprise. The work of a sentinel is to warn people of danger, so that they may be prepared to meet it. In this case, the danger to which we refer, is not so much that of being oppressed by unjust laws, as it is of being a party to the passing and the execution of such laws. The man who is persecuted for conscience sake, is in a far better state than the man who either directly or indirectly contributes to that end.AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.6

    As to the existing evils in society, we have no idea that they will ever be corrected until the end of the world. Our correspondent has stated a view that is quite generally accepted, namely, that the church of Christ will advance and increase in strength and numbers until it will finally swallow up everything, and fill the whole earth, and that when the church has corrected all the evils of society, and the world has become morally perfect, then the Lord himself will come and reign over his people. This is essentially the National Reform view, for it has been declared that the triumph of National Reform would be the ushering in of the millennium. The National Reform view differs from the one that has been taught in the past, only in the way that the millennium shall be brought about. It was formerly taught that this would be done by the preaching of the gospel; but National Reformers find that way too slow; they find that the world of vice is gaining ground, and that morality is losing; and so they propose to convert the world by an act of Congress and of other law-making bodies, and so have it all done at once. This view is now superseding the old one. It comes, therefore, strictly within our province to show from the Scriptures that such a result as they look for is chimerical in the highest degree.AMS February 20, 1889, page 33.7

    1. In the first place, it is contrary to all the history of the past, that all the world should ever be converted. It is true that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but it is only so to those who believe; and there is no more reason to suppose that all the world will believe in this age, than that all should believe in some past age. The gospel was as much the power of God unto salvation in the days of Noah, and of Abraham, and of the apostles, as it is now, yet but very few of the inhabitants of the world believed in those days. This is not because the gospel was at fault, but because men would not believe. If all men would believe, the gospel would save them from sin; but it is not the work of the gospel to force men to believe. “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,” is the gospel cry; but the mass of mankind have ever been the willing servants of sin, and so their minds have been blinded to the glorious light of the gospel. All men might have been healed, both in body and soul, when Jesus was on earth, if they had cared for the simple yet glorious truths which he spoke; but he was compelled mournfully to say, even to his own people, “Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life.” The preaching of the apostles, fired as it was with the zeal of Pentecost, was able to turn but very few of the people of the world to righteousness. Are they not presumptuous, then, who imagine that they can accomplish what never has been accomplished?AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.1

    2. Jesus said to his disciples: “enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life; and few there be that find it.” Matthew 7:13, 14.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.2

    The reason why so few will be saved, is because so few want to be, and not because of any lack on the part of God or his gospel. The tray to life is narrow; that is, there is only one way to do right; but the way to death is broad; for there are many ways of doing wrong. It is much easier, much more in accordance with natural inclination to do wrong, and God has foreseen that most people will follow their own inclination. It has ever been so, and the Scriptures declare that it will be so to the end of time.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.3

    3. Paul wrote to Timothy, and through him to us, as follows:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.4

    “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” 2 Timothy 3:1-5.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.5

    Here is a list of sins almost identical with those ascribed to the ancient heathen (Romans 1:28-32), and all are to be prevalent in the last days. Surely this does not look as though the church is to be able, either by legal or moral suasion, to correct the existing evils of societyAMS February 20, 1889, page 34.6

    4. We have a still stronger testimony than this. In Christ’s discourse upon the time of his second coming, he said:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.7

    “And so it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom, it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:26-30.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.8

    Since the world when the Lord comes is to be like it was in the days of Noah and Lot, it is going to grow worse instead of better, for “the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly” (Genesis 13:13), and before the flood “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.9

    If space allowed, we might add many like Scripture testimonies, but these are sufficient. The true church, as our correspondent says, is indeed composed of all those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who by virtue of their faith in him are regenerated, and made new creatures; but it is not the province of the church to correct the evils of society. When the church gets that idea, it begins to pass laws to make men religious, or rather, to make men act as though they were religious, and then it ceases to be the church of Christ. The church is simply to be a light to the world, to exhibit the character of Jesus. But if the church begins to use the civil power to carry forward its work, it ceases to represent Christ, for he did not do so. The gospel is to be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and with that its work ceases. A witness is not a prosecutor, nor a judge; and when the existing evils of society shall be corrected by the destruction of them that corrupt the earth, the gospel will have ceased its work. Sentence is never pronounced nor executed until after the witness has finished his testimony. And so those who think that to punish men for not serving God, is a part of the gospel, show that they do not know what the gospel is. They cease to be ambassadors for Christ, and usurp the place of Christ himself, as judge.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.10

    The few Scripture texts and arguments that have been given are sufficient to show the fallacy of the whole of our friend’s letter. It is Christ himself, and not the church, that is the rock that is to grind men to powder. It is not by the conversion of the whole world, against their will, that the earth is to be made the abode of peace, but by the utter destruction of those who will not obey God. The kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ; but it is God the Father, and not the church, that gives them to the Son. And when they are given to him, it is not as converted nations, asking “What is the word that cometh forth from the Lord?” but it is as thorns fit only to be burnt; “reprobate silver,” because the Lord hath rejected them, to be “broken with a rod of iron, and dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.11

    We would only add, in closing, that the Constitution of the United States is not conformed to the divine. If it were, we should not want it preserved as it is. Not because we are not in harmony with the divine constitution, but because we don’t think men are capable of administering a divine constitution. The amendment prohibiting slavery was in the line of simple justice between men, and for the good of society. We believe in a divine Government, highest aim to be loyal subjects of it; but we don’t want it administered by human deputies and we are glad to know that God does not rule by proxy, but executes his own decrees. The work of the SENTINEL is no less to keep people from laying profane hands on sacred things, then it is to preserve the American Constitution as it is; and so, while we are laboring in the interest of human rights, we are to the same extent laboring for the preservation of the purest Christianity.AMS February 20, 1889, page 34.12

    E. J. W.

    “Provisions of the Sunday Rest Bill” American Sentinel 4, 5.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We are persuaded that there is a great deal of misunderstanding in regard to the Blair bills, not only among those who are opposed to religious legislation, but by those who are at least nominally favoring them. We have seen and heard the statement that the Sunday-Rest bill would, if it should become a law, shut down all business throughout the country. This is a mistake. The passage of the Sunday-Rest bill would have a direct effect upon only a comparatively small portion of the people of the United States, although it would very seriously affect them indirectly. The first section of that bill reads as fellows:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.1

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That on Sunday, no person or corporation, or the agent, servant, or employe, of any person or corporation; shall perform or authorize to be performed any secular work, labor, or business, works of necessity, mercy, and humanity excepted; nor shall any person engage in any play, game, show, exhibition, or amusement in public, in any Territory, District, vessel, or place subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States; nor shall it be lawful for any person or corporation to receive pay for labor or service performed or rendered in violation of this section”AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.2

    This section confines the working of the bill, if it should become a law, to those places that are “subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States.” These are the Territories and the District of Columbia. It is an absolute law for the Territories, making no exception, but obliging everybody to rest on Sunday.AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.3

    Section 2 reads as follows:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.4

    “That no mails or mail matter shall hereafter be transported in times of peace over any land postal route, nor shall any mail matter be collected, assorted, handled, or delivered during any part of the first day of the week.”AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.5

    This is so plain as to need no comment. The third section reads as follows:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.6

    “That the prosecution of commerce between the States, and with the Indian tribes, by the transportation of persons by land or water on the first day of the week, is hereby prohibited, and any person or corporation, or the agent or employe of any person or corporation, who shall violate this section, shall be punished by a fine of not less than ten nor more than one thousand dollars; and no service performed in the prosecution of such prohibited commerce shall be lawful, nor shall any compensation be recoverable or be paid, for the same.”AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.7

    This shuts off inter-State commerce. By the first section, overland trains would be stopped in the Territories, but this section prohibits all Sunday traffic between States, whether on land or water. The reader can readily see what bearing such a law as this would have on State Sunday legislation.AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.8

    Section 3 provides for cessation of labor on Sunday in the army and navy, prohibiting all drills, musters, and parades, except in time of active service or preparation therefore. Section 5 makes exception in case of labor or service performed or rendered on Sunday in consequence of accident or disaster or unavoidable delay in making the regular connections upon postal routes and routes of transportation, and allows for the transportation and delivery of milk before 5 A. M., and after 10 P. M. This is the whole of the bill, so far as its prohibition of labor is concerned. It will be seen that it is very strict as far as its jurisdiction extends, but it does not directly affect citizens of the States, except Government employes.AMS February 20, 1889, page 35.9

    But its indirect effect in the States will be scarcely less than its direct effect in places subject to the exclusive control of the United States. It is well known that the great obstacle in the way of enforcing existing Sunday laws in the various States, has been the United States Government. In the hearing on the Sunday-Rest bill before the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, December 13, Mrs. Bateham said that the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union based their claims and petitions on the following facts:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.1

    “1. Nearly every State has Sabbath laws, but the National Government has none, though greatly needed, since the question has become emphatically a national one, and the very perpetuity or loss of our national rest, the Christian Sabbath, seems to depend on its being protected by the Government from the encroachments of organized capital, and the reinforcements of State laws by National.AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.2

    “2. It is in gross violation of nearly every State Sabbath law, that railroads run their Sunday trains, yet these States are powerless to prevent it, since only Congress can control inter-State commerce.AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.3

    “3. By the State laws ordinary labor and traffic is forbidden on Sunday, but in defiance thereof the United States Government keeps its post-offices open and sells as on other days, and sends its mail to all parts of the country.”—Report, p. 22.AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.4

    It will be seen that the plea for a National Sunday law is made on the ground that the State Sunday laws are powerless without it. In that same committee meeting, Senator Blair, the chairman, stated that the General Government takes advantage of what the States have given to it in the way of jurisdiction over the post-offices, inter-State commerce, and the army and navy, to introduce practices that nullify their attempt to enforce Sunday laws, and said:—AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.5

    “To prevent this, is the object of this legislation. That is all that is undertaken here. It is simply an act proposing to make efficient the Sunday-Rest laws of the States, and nothing else.”—Report, p. 97.AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.6

    We shall hereafter take occasion to show how terribly “efficient” some of those Sunday laws will become when this Sunday-Rest bill becomes a law.AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.7

    National Reformers have ever referred to the general Government as the great Sabbath-breaker, holding that running of mail trains, and the keeping open of post-offices practically nullified all their efforts to have Sunday strictly observed. With this objection removed, there would be speedy and strict enforcement of the Sunday-laws that already exist, and enactment of laws where there are none now. The passage of the bill, therefore, would practically result, as was said at the National Sunday Convention, in making Sunday the ideal Sabbath of the Puritans, to be occupied only by worship. It should be opposed by everybody; by those who do not care to observe Sunday, as a matter of course, and because it is unjust and un-American; and by those who do care to observe Sunday, both from the standpoint of the golden rule, and because they should protest against having their worship from choice made to appear as though it was a matter of compulsion.AMS February 20, 1889, page 36.8

    E. J. W.

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