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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    A few items not immediately connected with the subject before us deserve a passing notice.WDUS 13.3

    When I gave “Thou shalt not kill” as an example of an express command and said that by no possible construction could a Jew make it lawful to kill, I simply meant to emphasize the fact that the command is express, nothing more. It was wrong to kill from the beginning. Nevertheless, as given on Sinai the command concerned none but a Jew.WDUS 13.4

    My brother quotes Revelation 1:10. as applying to the Sabbath. It has no such reference, as will be shown in due time.WDUS 13.5

    I do not think it necessary to occupy more time in proving when Genesis was written, since my brother admits there is no proof that it was written before the transactions on Sinai. Eld W.’s reply, however, makes me say that it was not written till Exodus and Leviticus were written. He should have quoted me in full by adding, “From the exode till Exodus and Leviticus were written, or at least the history therein contained had transpired, we find Moses so busy as to have had no time for such a work.” Even if the Pentateuch was consecutively written, as Dr. Smith and others think, my position need not be false. The reasons I gave were only intended to show that my hypothesis has something in its favor. I have an argument that carries conviction with it, but owing to its great length I prefer not to give it since there is no need of it, there being no practical difference between us.WDUS 13.6

    It is perhaps not best for my brother to say of an incomplete argument, “but this is the kind of evidence on which he grounds his faith that the sabbath was not sanctified at creation.” He shall have all the proof he can reasonably ask, when I take the affirmative. All that I intend at present to do is to show that his proof-texts are thoroughly consistent with the hypothesis that the sabbath was not enjoined on man till after the exode.WDUS 13.7

    The conclusion I draw from a comparison of Genesis 17. with Exodus 4:24-26 in favor of Genesis’ being written after the latter event is not proved to be false by the fact that the Israelites did not practice circumcision during their forty years’ sojourn in the wilderness. It was evidently with God’s approval that they did not practice it then since they were not reproved for it. For real or culpable neglects they were invariably reproved, but not for this. In the case referred to in Exodus 4:24-26 the neglect was culpable, else the Lord would not have “sought to kill” Moses for it. We must distinguish between things that differ.WDUS 14.1

    Eld. W. makes some distinctions with reference to the sabbath, which, even if just, are not necessary to an understanding of the subject before us. He speaks of the sabbath’s being constituted, instituted and appointed. I fear that in this he bewilders his readers, and, judging from what he says, he himself is not clear in his distinctions. As these by him are meant to be turning or salient points, he should have clearly defined them with reference to the subject before him. I suppose he intends to express nearly, if not quite, the same idea by the first two and a different one by the third, yet constitute and appoint are practically synonyms. Webster defines each by the other, and Crabb gives them as synonyms with but a little shade difference. Something similar may be said of institute and appoint. Thus Gesenius, whom he quotes on kadash, says: “Also to institute any holy thing, to appoint,” using them synonymously.WDUS 14.2

    According to Eld. W., instituting the sabbath made it a sabbath, and appointing it enjoined it on man for observance. And he evidently regards the two acts as distinct in time; for he says: “In one text it says, ‘he blessed the sabbath day;’ and therefore it was already a sabbath day when he blessed it. In the other it says, ‘he blessed the seventh day because that in it he had rested,’ or sabbatized, which teaches the same.”WDUS 14.3

    Again he says, that it is God’s resting and blessing which “entitled the day to a high regard” with those who properly respect and reverence “the mind and blessing of our great Creator,” without and before “appointment;” and, “the evidence of its appointment is found in the word sanctified and hallowed.”WDUS 14.4

    I would like to ask (1) If the seventh day was already a sabbath in the sense of being a holy day, in virtue of God’s resting on it, before He blessed it, what effect did the blessing have? (2) If God’s resting and blessing made it holy, why then was it afterwards “hallowed?” and what effect had this hallowing on the day? (3) And if it is “in its appointment we must find the duty of observance,” and “the evidence of its appointment is found in the words sanctified and hallowed,” how was or is the day “holy in itself?” (4) Moreover, since “the sanctification of a day consists in a precept for its observance for a special or sacred purpose,” how is the sabbath a moral and not a positive institution? (5) If “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested,” how is it that man had a sabbath from the beginning? (6) Again, Eld. W. insists that the sabbath was “appointed” at creation for man’s observance, and yet he tells us that “the sabbath was directly enforced after the exode!” Of course, then, before the exode it was indirectly enforced. What was “the measure of obligation” of this indirect enforcement? Was it akin to that high regard and reverence men should have for “the mind and blessing” of God before appointment?WDUS 14.5

    I fear my brother is misled by the term sabbath. It often and literally means nothing more than rest, and at times it is used to denote sacred or religious rest. Sabbath day, then, often denotes only a rest day, and frequently also a sacred or religious rest day, “a rest holy to the Lord.” We must not confound the two. It is at least possible for God to rest without making it thereby a sacred rest; and while His resting on any day would constitute that one day a rest day (sabbath), i. e. a day in which he had rested, it would not constitute it a sacred rest day. For if the mere act of resting, because it is God’s act, necessarily makes it a holy and to-be-repeated rest, then God’s working on any day, because the act is God’s, makes it a holy and to-be-repeated labor. Consequently, if God’s resting on any day made that day “His property,” laboring on any other day made it also “His property;” and it is as morally wrong not to labor on the day on which God labored as not to rest on the day on which He rested. To what absurdities such reasoning would lead us! No, the Lord’s resting did not make it a holy, sacred, and to-be-repeated rest, nor impart sacredness to the day on which He rested; and such expressions as, “the Lord’s sabbath” or “My sabbath” are equivalent to “the Lord’s rest,” “My rest,” and, if understood to refer to His resting at creation, do not declare ownership, but simply the fact of His having rested as a fact. And rest here must not be understood of having been “refreshed” (for such an expression is only an accommodation to man’s capacity as God’s “repenting” is), but as equivalent to having ended work or ceased to labor. The Lord never becomes weary to need rest, nor does His spiritual nature require a special day for its culture.WDUS 14.6

    Before “sanctifying” or “hallowing” the day-and “the sanctification of a day,” as Eld. W. truly says, “consists in a precept for its observance for a special or sacred purpose”—before “sanctifying” the day it was not the Lord’s property any more than any other day, but afterwards it was, and that too in the same and special sense in which other requirements based on precepts were His property. “The Lord’s sabbath” or “My sabbath” is of the same category so far as it expresses ownership as “Mine ordinances” (referring to tithes, sacrifices and such like. Malachi 3:7.), and “Mine altar.” Malachi 1:7. Tithes, sacrifices and altars the Lord calls His because He has enjoined them on, and required them of man; and so with the weekly sabbath. The other sense of “My sabbath,” as already said, does not declare ownership, but simply an historical fact. We must not deceive ourselves by a double use of possessives, making them the same.WDUS 15.1

    See again how Eld. W. is misled by the two-fold sense of “sabbath.” He says, “‘He (God) blessed the sabbath day;’ and therefore it was already the sabbath day when He blessed it.” Before God blessed the seventh day it was indeed the sabbath day in the sense that He had rested in it, but not the sabbath in the sense of a sacred and to-be-observed institution, since it was not yet “hallowed.” Here we read also, He “blessed the seventh day, because that in it He had rested.” I have given these matters more attention than they deserve, but my opponent made it necessary, and I trust we will have no more of it.WDUS 15.2

    Another point deserves a brief notice. Eld. W. says: “God’s resting on the seventh day is the basis, and the only basis of its institution. * * * * If Deuteronomy 5 gives the reason of the institution, I would like to have it pointed out.” Let me avoid the word “institution” lest we attach different senses to it. The chief reason why God gave the Jews the sabbath, (and I will show in due time that it never was given to any other people) was because they had labored in bondage. “And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord. Thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm; therefore the Lord thy God commandeth thee to keep the sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:15. Strictly speaking, God’s resting had but little to do with the sabbath as a sacred rest on the part of man to God. God gave the Jews a sacred rest day because of and in memory of their deliverance from bondage, as the above passage clearly shows. But the question, how often shall I observe this sacred rest? how many days shall I labor and then rest? and this mainly, was determined by the facts of the creation week. Accordingly, when reference is made to creation in connection with the weekly sabbath, the number seven or seventh always plays a prominent part. “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work.” “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God. * * * * For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and lowed it.” “Six days may work be done, but in the seventh is the sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. * * * * It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed.”—Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:10-11; 31:15-17.WDUS 15.3

    I return now to the consideration of Genesis 2:3., which I left unfinished in my first reply. “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.” The blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day made it a sabbath for man’s observance. When, then, was it blessed and sanctified? Eld. W. says at creation; I say the passage can, without violence any law of language, be understood of a much later date, namely, of some time after the exodus out of Egypt. In other words, it furnishes no proof that the sabbath was not made for man’s observance at so late a date as I assign. For the sake of testing this, I will assume that the sabbath was given for man’s observance after the exode.WDUS 15.4

    1. The passage itself excludes the idea of a Sabbath for man’s observance from the beginning. The seventh day was sanctified after the first seventh day was past, after God “had rested.”WDUS 16.1

    2. While narrating facts in Genesis, Moses would at times make comments thereon, as in Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of man.” Moses comments, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” This is known to be Moses’ comment by the fact that Adam then knew nothing of “father,” “mother” and progeny. In like manner the blessing and sanctifying of the seventh day mention in Genesis 2:3., may be regarded as Moses’s comment, called forth by the historic mention of the seventh day; as if he had said, “By the way, this reminds me that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day for man’s observance after he had brought us out of Egypt.” I fail to see the “incongruity” of which my brother speaks.WDUS 16.2

    3. Anticipation or prolepsis is common in works, both sacred and profane, written after the event. Since Moses wrote not only long after creation, but also after the sabbath was given, there is not the slightest impropriety in speaking of both events in connection, though widely separated in time. It is needless to give examples from profane writers; let a few from the Scriptures suffice.WDUS 16.3

    John 11:1-2. “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.” But this anointing took place some time after Lazarus was sick, (ch 12:3.) yet they are here joined because one suggests the other, as in the case of the seventh day. The language which my brother uses in reply to me; is just as much against John: It won’t do, John, to join these events, it is “doing violence to the record and to reason. It does violence to the record, for it denies the order laid down by inspiration, wresting the third years from the second chapter of Genesis, [the second verse from the eleventh chapter of John] in its relation to recorded events, and placing it where inspiration never placed it.”WDUS 16.4

    Matthew 10:2-4. “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: * * * Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.” (For the time of betrayal see ch 26.) Comments by Eld. W.: “Such a perversion of sacred Scripture is very rarely seen. For if the events there recorded did not then transpire according to the order laid down, the record is calculated to mislead the reader!”WDUS 16.5

    Let us now hear from Moses in his Genesis, ch 10:4-5. “And the sons of Javan (were) Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” But the confusion of tongues transpired after the events of this chapter, see ch 11:17, and the term “Gentiles” is of still later origin. Comments by Eld. W. again: “To thus mutilate the record, and take the facts of Genesis 2:3., [Genesis 10:4-5.] from their evident and oft-declared connection is without any reason, or necessity-except that which is found in the theory which gives rise to the perversion!” Poor Moses, he seems to have fallen into severe hands.WDUS 16.6

    In Genesis 3:20., we have an evident anachronism, i. e., an event introduced before its time: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” Eve was not a mother till after the events recorded in this chapter, both before and after this verse, had transpired. See ch 4:1. An anachronism in Genesis 2:3., is just as lawful in itself as one here; it does no more “violence to the record” there than here. And that there are facts stubbornly demanding some such disposition of that verse, shall be abundantly shown in due time.WDUS 16.7

    4. If even in none of the ways suggested Genesis 2:3. could be shown to be consistent with such an hypothesis as I make, here is another. Both sacred and profane writers often take up a line of thought and follow it to a certain point, then return and take up a second, carrying it forward to a desired point, then return for a third, and fourth, or as many as they see fit. Even in prophecy this plan is pursued, see Revelation and Lange on Matthew 24 and 25. This precisely is what Moses did in Genesis. He began a line of history with the creation of the heavens and the earth, traced it past the making of plants, of animals, and of man, up to the making of the sabbath for man’s observance; which line ends with Genesis 2:3. He then returns to the very beginning at v. 4, brings up another line which ends with the fourth chapter, in the days of Enos, when “men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” And in the fifth chapter he returns a third time, not now to the beginning, but to the creation of man, and traces another line. Even in the book of Exodus the same course is to some extent pursued.—Since Genesis 2:3., stands at the end of a line of history, it is with all ease and naturalness that it falls in with my hypothesis. While this is actually the case, yet, as compared with what it is recorded immediately before and after the third verse, it may be looked upon as comment, prolepsis, or anachronism, according to the stand-point from which we view it. And thus the impregnable Gibraltar of a creation sabbath is shown to be a fort of paper. What then shall we say of other passages, which by their friends are confessed to be weaker?WDUS 16.8

    I knew not till copying it that this article is so long; I shall atone for it by brevity in my next.WDUS 17.1

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