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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    Much of the controversy in the world has arisen from misapprehension of terms. To secure the reader in this respect I remark that when I use the words “the Scriptures,” I mean the Old and New Testaments. And I speak of this because it has become a custom with some in this “evil generation” to confine “the Scriptures,” so far as authority is concerned, to the New Testament. This is very wrong, and leads to grievous errors. The word “Scriptures” in the Bible, without any limiting word, refers mostly to the Old Testament exclusively, but never to the New exclusive of the Old. While the custom to which I refer gives precedence to the New Testament, in the Bible itself precedence is always given to the Old.WDUS 46.1

    The reader will notice that all of our propositions are concerning what “the Scriptures” teach. And as the first two rested almost entirely on the testimony of the Old Testament, they shut out that invidious distinction, and regard the two Testaments as of equal authority as witnesses in the case.WDUS 46.2

    In the ministry of our Lord and of his apostles “the Scriptures,” referring in almost every instance to the Old Testament, were the standard of all authority to which they always appealed. The idea which now somewhat prevails that they superceded: “the Scriptures;” that they set aside the authority of the Old Testament by the introduction of the New, finds no sanction in the words of Christ and his apostles. Thus Paul wrote to Timothy: “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures”—the Old Testament of course, for none of the New Testament was written when Timothy was a child; “which are able to make thee wise unto salvation”—because they thoroughly furnish the man of God “unto all good works.” The law of God, which “is perfect,” (Psalm 19:7,) is written therein. The commandments of God which contain “the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13) are there made known. That law “the doers” of which “shall be justified,” and by which men shall be judged, (Romans 2:12, 13, 16; see Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14), is in those Scriptures. This is high endorsement. But, though the law of God is perfect, man as not perfected himself in obedience; he has not done his whole duty; there are no “doers of the law;” and therefore a remedy is needed, a system of restitution, of recovery, or of bringing back to God. And this is introduced by Paul in connection with “the Scriptures” thus: “through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” Here is set forth a close relation, a complete harmony between the Old and New Testaments; between the law and the gospel; “the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”—Revelation 14:12. But this remedial system, as I before said, is nor elementary; it does not grow out of the will or action of God as does the law; but it grows out of the rebellion of man. They who reject the law and take the gospel as its successor, as some do, and then boast of “first principles,” use language without any just regard to its relations. The truths here set down will be appreciated when we come to examine Eld. Vogel’s theory of “general principles” as opposed to “direct enforcement.”WDUS 46.3

    One text in the N. T. has been briefly noticed, and as it looks both to the past and future of our discussion, I will further notice it here. It is Mark 2:27. On this I affirmed that “the sabbath was made” at creation; which is proved by the truth that it was the rest day of God from the work of creation, and that “for this reason” he blessed and sanctified it. And this is decisive that it was “made for man” for the race; that it is a primary institution. But Eld. Vogel replied: “The universal term anthropos (man) is thus limited by the known fact that the Gentiles had not the sabbath.” On this assertion his conclusion is based! But a statement to be the logical basis of a conclusion must be either self-evident, expressly stated, clearly and indisputably proved, or admitted. If it is claimed with neither of these it is a clear case of “begging the question.” But (1) his statement is not of the nature of self-evident truth. (2) It is not expressly stated; the text itself gives no countenance to such a view. (3) It is not clearly proved; his main line of argument is philologically defective, as witness the following: “The Hebrew, concerning which Eld. W. maintains a respectful silence, has no such exceptions as he wants to force on the Greek text, and this places my position beyond all dispute.” But I have shown that the Hebrew has such exceptions, and hold myself ready to show it further if it becomes necessary; and this not only throws his position back on disputed ground, but robs it of all its force. For, as I remarked, a rule given to set aside the obvious meaning of a scripture must not admit of exceptions. My view of Genesis 2:3, is clearly the obvious one, sustained, too, by the word of the Lord in the fourth commandment; while his rebutting argument furnishes no ground for a necessary dissent, being itself so defective. (Of his unjust and unscholarly accusation that I would force such exceptions on the Greek text, I shall have occasion to speak hereafter.) (4) It is not admitted; in sincerity I deny it. And I confidently say it is not known to me nor to any one else by any scripture statement to that effect, nor by any just conclusion from any such statement. A clearer case of “begging the question,” of assuming as true what remains to be proved, is not often seen.WDUS 46.4

    He refers to 2 Timothy 2:2, but it is inappropriate. There are limitations in that passage, (though the limitation he claims is much disputed), and to give this as a parallel instance of the use of “the universal term,” surrounded as it is by limitations which forbid its use in a universal sense, is a great trespass on the limits of just reasoning. I might in like manner say that the twelve, in Acts 5, also used “the universal term men,” limited only by the number seven, etc, etc.! but if I quoted it thus to meet the evidence of a passage without any limitation, all must consider it an abuse rather than a proper use of language. There is no limitation in Mark 2:27, either expressed or implied. The truth that the sanctification (appointment) of the sabbath was always referred to the facts of creation, is sufficient to make it certain that “the sabbath was made for man”—for the race. And the title which the Savior appropriates to himself in this passage—“the son of man”—is proof beyond possibility of contradiction that this view is correct. Related as are his words in two verses it is impossible to place a limitation on the word man in one sentence and not carry that limitation over to the other. I ask the reader to note this.WDUS 47.1

    Or, if Eld. Vogel is as tenacious for the article as his words indicate he can retain it in this passage as it is in the Greek, “The sabbath was made for the man.” This would direct our minds at once to the man who was present when the Sabbath was made; for, as shown by the History in Genesis, only one man existed at that time. But this makes its bearing equally comprehensive, for that man was the parent and representative of the race. The duties and the welfare of the race were committed to him. Any institution made for him and at that time was for his posterity without any limitation. The translation is unobjectionable as it stands; but if the article should be translated it cannot be referred to any man but Adam, the parent of the race. In either case is proved the Edenic origin of the Sabbath.WDUS 47.2

    As related to this I will here notice the objection that man had not a sabbath to observe “from the beginning.” The objection itself is ambiguous; “from the beginning” marks no definite point of time. It cannot refer to the “beginning” as in Genesis 1, for that would be but a foolish cavil. But I affirm that the sabbath is an institution of original obligation, dating from the original enforcement of moral obligation on man. I use the term “original obligation” as embracing that, and that only, which grows out of original relations, that is, relations growing out of the independent action of the Creator, and not at all arising from the action or rebellion of the creature. (See my first article). In reply to the objection I say that Adam, being himself a part of the original creation, existed before all of the relations existed on which moral obligation is based. If this is true it covers the whole ground of the objection and effectually removes it. Now for the proof.WDUS 47.3

    I affirm (who will deny?) that marriage is an original and moral institution. But there was no such institution “from the beginning” for Adam to regard; for, when he was created no woman yet existed. We have the following order of events: 1st, Adam was created-but there was no marriage. 2nd. Eve was made-but yet there was no marriage institution. 3rd, She was given to Adam to be his wife-and then marriage obligation first existed. And so of the sabbath. 1st, God created the heavens and the earth-but there was no sabbath. 2nd, God rested the seventh day-but yet there was no institution of the sabbath. 3rd, God blessed and sanctified (set apart to a sacred use) the rest day-and then sabbath obligation existed. Marriage rested as much on the ordinance of God as did the sabbath. To be consistent Eld. Vogel must deny what I have stated in regard to marriage, or yield his objection to the sabbath as an original institution. And here again I say, what I expect to show again and again, that any argument which would overthrow the sabbath would destroy the foundation of all morality. Let the reader ponder this. The points I have herein examined have an important bearing on the argument which I shall now put forth.WDUS 48.1

    The evidence required on this proposition is quite different from that required on the first two. The proof on those was in regard to the origin of an institution and its appointment for observance. The present proposition does not call for evidence of that nature. In this consists the difference of proof concerning an old and a new institution. An old institution is only recognized; its recognition is all that is required to establish its existence. But a new institution must be proved by the act of instituting it, by its consecration or appointment, or by an express precept for its observance. If these be not produced there is no evidence of an institution. And without these an allusion or recognition is entirely out of the question.WDUS 48.2

    We have never contended for the origin of any sabbath institution or Sabbath obligation in the New Testament. Indeed, it is not admissible under the circumstances. We plead directly against it; we plead for a sabbath as old as the heavens and the earth; a sabbath made for man when man was first made acquainted with his relations and duties to God: a sabbath blessed and set apart as Jehovah’s rest from the work of creation. If there were any act of instituting it found in the New Testament that would be an argument against its antiquity. Right here our opponents run into a grave error. They affect to think we should produce as explicit an act of institution as they ought to produce for a new one. More than that; they generally refuse to accept the plain recognition of an institution well known to exist for ages, while they contend that we ought to acknowledge a few unnecessary inferences as authority sufficient to establish an institution which is never once named in the Scriptures, of which no act of appointment can be produced, and which was never enforced by any precept. On no other subject in the whole range of theology is shown such an utter disregard of all the principles of just reasoning as is shown in the opposition to the sabbath of the Lord our God.WDUS 48.3

    I propose to examine this question under three heads, namely:WDUS 48.4

    I. Show that the Lord claims a day in this dispensation, as he did in past ages.WDUS 48.5

    II. Show that the sabbath is recognized and familiarly spoken of in the New Testament without such explanations as would be necessary to guard against misapprehension if it were abolished.WDUS 48.6

    III. Show that the law of which the sabbath commandment is a part was not abolished, but is now binding on all man kind.WDUS 48.7

    And, I. To show that the Lord claims a day in this dispensation I quote Revelation 1:10. “I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day.” In quoting this text I wish to have distinctly understood what I claim, and what I do not claim, that it teaches. Knowing that unwarranted inferences are often drawn from the passage I shall avoid such an error.WDUS 48.8

    (1) I claim that this text proves that one day is “the Lord’s day” in this dispensation; that his claim and right to that certain day is as clearly established by this scripture as was his right to a day established by Exodus 20:10, or by Isaiah 58:13. And I insist that this text is decisive on this point.WDUS 48.9

    (2) But I do not claim that this text furnishes any proof as to what day of the week is “the Lord’s day.” In that respect it defines nothing. That must be settled by other scriptures. But the settlement of this point will not be difficult if we allow the Lord to establish his own claim by his own accord. The reader will remember that all our propositions concern that which “the Scriptures teach;” not that which we would be pleased to have them teach, or which we would unnecessarily infer from their teachings.WDUS 49.1

    (3) While I do not claim that Revelation 1:10 gives any information as to which day of the week is there referred to, I do claim that it refers to the sabbath, the seventh day, because it is the only day that the Lord ever Claimed as his, either in the Old or New Testament; and I unhesitatingly challenge the disproof of this proposition by reference to a single text in all “the Scriptures,” which proves, either directly or indirectly, that the Lord ever claimed any day as his own But the seventh day. While “the Scriptures,” our acknowledged standard, declare positively which day is “the Lord’s day.” We have square work before us. Mere inferences have no place in his question.WDUS 49.2

    II. The inspired writers of the gospels and the book of Acts speak familiarly of the sabbath as of a known and observed institution, without any of those explanations which would be necessary to guard against misapprehension if it were abolished.WDUS 49.3

    Matthew 28:1. “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.”WDUS 49.4

    Greenfield says of opse, “after or at the end of.” So this text may be properly rendered “after the sabbath,” which is in harmony with Mark 16:1. This text contains all that Matthew says about these two days, at the time of the resurrection, the sabbath and the first day of the week; the rest and the first working day.WDUS 49.5

    Mark 16:1, 2. “And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, of the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.”WDUS 49.6

    This is exactly parallel with Matthew 28:1.WDUS 49.7

    Verses 9-11. “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven demons. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not.”WDUS 49.8

    This is all that Mark says of that sabbath and first day at the time of the resurrection of the Lord.WDUS 49.9

    Luke 23:54-56; 24:1. “And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how the body was laid. And they returned and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”WDUS 49.10

    “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.”WDUS 49.11

    This is Luke’s testimony concerning that interesting period of the crucifixion and resurrection. While it is silent, as is that of the others, in regard to any abrogation, it gives important evidence in regard to those holy women of whom it has been said they were “last at the cross and first at the tomb.” Their devotion to the Savior was no more unworthy than was their faithful obedience to God’s commandment. They waited until “the first day in the week”—a working day-to do that which they would not do on the sabbath out of respect for the authority of the laws of God. If sabbath obligation had ceased it will ever remain a marvel that this text is so particular to notice obedience to it, and so silent in regard to its cessation.WDUS 49.12

    John 20:1, 19. “The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.”WDUS 49.13

    “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.”WDUS 49.14

    I have quoted John also, though he does not mention the sabbath, because I wish to get all the evidence at once before the reader concerning that time when it is claimed that obligation to God’s commandment ceased, and some new obligation was to be introduced.WDUS 49.15

    Having passed through the gospels I reserve the examination of the Acts of the Apostles for the next number.WDUS 50.1

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