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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    I did not accuse Bro. Waggoner of wresting the Scriptures; I simply stated the fact that they could be wrested, with the inference that one of us does this, and left it entirely with the reader to decide who that one is. Nor would I be understood that the wresting is intentional; I am conscious of the strictest integrity, and cheerfully accord the same to Elder W. On no other ground could I call him brother.WDUS 58.1

    I have no wish to dictate a course for my brother, nor have I made an attempt to do so; I have only insisted on the observance of universally recognized rules of honorable discussion, which he has violated, and assures us that he will continue to do so. The reader will not be at a loss to know what this means; it shows that Elder W. is not satisfied with the work he has done. Men usually let well enough alone. We must, however, not be too hard on him. For while I could afford to lose both of the former propositions without injury to my cause, he cannot; it makes the sabbath of Jewish origin, and consequently it passed away with that dispensation. It is this that hurts.WDUS 58.2

    Nor need he say, “the past scenes of conflict bring sad memories to me;” on the contrary, they are pleasing memories, as the confidence and satisfaction with which I repeatedly appeal to my work just as it is, fully attests.WDUS 58.3

    A large share of my brother’s last article is taken up in Hebrew criticisms on a former proposition, which are incorrect in almost every essential feature. My first impulse was to notice them in detail; in fact, I wrote a reply to every item, but have concluded not to trouble the reader with them for reasons which will presently appear.WDUS 58.4

    I wish to say kindly what I am about to say, but nevertheless as clearly as truth and justice demand. My firm conviction is that Elder W. is incapable of making a safe criticism based on the original. Take, for example, the following: With Green’s Hebrew Grammar before him, and open at section 246.3, he pronounces sabbath in Exodus 16:23 definite by construction! Now this is one of the simplest rules in Hebrew, and yet he blunders in applying it. It is a useless task to follow such a critic, and I have concluded not to do it. I do not ask those readers who have been accustomed to place confidence in Bro. W.’s criticisms to take my word for what I say respecting his criticisms; let them consult a Hebrew scholar about his statement with reference to Exodus 16:23 and satisfy themselves.WDUS 58.5

    There is, however, one statement which I must briefly notice because it has apparent weight, and where better scholars than he have blundered. I refer to the following quotation from Gesenius: “The predicate of a sentence does not take the article.” The old Grammarians and Lexicographers, both Hebrew and Greek, have generally laid down this rule, but facts are against them. Winer proves the rule to be false by a long array of examples and then adds: “Hence it follows that the oft-repeated rule: ‘the subject of a proposition may be known by its having the article,’ is incorrect.”—Gram. p. 115 (seventh edition, improved.)WDUS 58.6

    Let us now turn to Bro. Waggoner’s direct argument. I begin where I left off in my first negative. He lays his work out in three divisions, the first of which is to show,WDUS 58.7

    1. “That the Lord claims a day in this dispensation, as he did in past ages.”WDUS 58.8

    That the Lord now claims a day, I cheerfully grant; and that Revelation 1:10 proves it is beyond doubt. So far we are agreed. We differ only as to what day is meant by “Lord’s day” in Revelation 1:10. When I take the affirmative of the next proposition, I pledge myself to show that this is said of the first day of the week. The mere fact that the sabbath was called the sabbath of the Lord (not the Lord’s day, however), and that Revelation 1:10 speaks of the Lord’s day, does not identify them as the same. Under the Former Dispensation the Father was meant by the term Lord, under This Dispensation the term refers exclusively to Christ (1 Corinthians 8:6). (1). I deny that Jesus was ever called the Lord of the sabbath, and call for the proof. (2). If the proof could even be furnished, and it were found that he was called the Lord of the sabbath under the Old Dispensation, it would still remain to be proved that he is the Lord of it in the New.WDUS 58.9

    2. “The sabbath,” says Elder W., “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.” Or, as he afterwards puts it, “The inspired writers of the gospel, and the book of Acts speak familiarly of the sabbath as of a known and observed institution, without any of these explanations which would be necessary to guard against misapprehension if it were abolished.”WDUS 59.1

    That non-christianized Jews observed it, we both agree to. That Judaized Christians also observed it is a matter of course. But that Christians intelligently observed it as obligatory in the New Dispensation remains to be proved. The mere fact that Christians for a long time observed the day proves nothing; for,WDUS 59.2

    (1). They also observed the annual sabbaths. Are they therefore binding?WDUS 59.3

    (2). They observed circumcision. Is it binding?WDUS 59.4

    (3). They offered animal sacrifice. Are we to offer them?WDUS 59.5

    To all these things my brother says, No. Yet, if the mere observance of the sabbath proves its present obligation then are these also obligatory, for they were observed. See my first article on “approved precedent.”WDUS 59.6

    Will my brother say that these things were types and so met their fulfillment in Christianity? The same is true of the weekly sabbaths. Read Colossians 2:16, 17, and my comments thereon in argument v, under the second proposition. Is this observing the sabbath “without any of those explanations necessary to guard against misapprehension?”WDUS 59.7

    Let us look at the matter from another standpoint. My brother quotes in full all the passages of the four gospels, which speaks of the crucifixion, the keeping of the sabbath then, and of the resumption of work on the first day of the week, and then adds: “If sabbath obligation had ceased it will ever remain a marvel that this text [Luke 23:54-24:1] is so particular to notice obedience to it, and so silent in regard to its cessation.” But he claims that ceremonial observances were abolished at this time. Will it “ever remain a marvel” that there is nothing said about the disciples ceasing in its very midst the observance of the feast of unleavened bread which they were then keeping? And why should all the disciples gather “according to the commandment” on the day of Pentecost, fifty days after the crucifixion, to observe that feast? Is not this also a “marvel?”WDUS 59.8

    The fact is that the disciples then knew nothing about the abolition of anything by the crucifixion, hence they acted accordingly; and the writers of the gospels and Acts, as faithful historians, recorded events as they transpired. If they chose then to withhold comments furnished by the light given on and after Pentecost, it was their privilege to do so. The bearings of the potential act, the crucifixion, to abolish everything of a positive nature in the preceding dispensation, were not yet made known to the people. To illustrate: A number of men are imprisoned for an indefinite period and loaded with chains. The governor writes out a pardon, seals it, and gives it to some of the prisoners to be opened and read fifty days afterwards to their fellows for the benefit of all. Let the chains represent the sabbath, and the prison the Jewish feasts and whatever else is of a positive nature in the old law. You see that the instrument which procures the liberation of the prisoners is in existence before it takes effect for fifty days. Would it be sound logic for my brother to argue that the governor’s pardon did not free the prisoners from their chains (the sabbath) simply because they were for fifty days after it was written ignorant of its nature and still bore their chains? Yet this is the way he reasons about the women’s keeping the sabbath “according to the commandment,” i. e., as it prescribes.WDUS 59.9

    Or, suppose that the prisoners so misinterpreted the governor’s pardon as to still cling to both prison and chains, or at least to the chains, for many years after, would this prove that there is no pardon in the governor’s writing? This, precisely, is my brother’s argument from Acts!WDUS 59.10

    Suppose again that some of the prisoners interpreted the pardon aright but found that some of the rest not only misinterpreted it but had actually so fallen in love with the chains that they did not desire to be released, while still others believed the pardon to be entirely spurious and would look upon such as should throw off their chains as rebels against the government. Would it not be well for those who would undertake to reason with them, in order to avoid arousing excessive prejudice and to find readier access to them, to wear their chains for the sake of gaining such? This is what Paul and others actually did; and so he explains: “Unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them under the law” (1 Corinthians 9:20). And so, precisely, James reasoned with reference to similar matters, not only for the sake of unconverted Jews, but also for the sake of such converted ones as did not fully understand the nature of Christianity. Hence he said to Paul when the latter came to Jerusalem, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of the Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law; and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together, for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee.” And then follow the directions and Paul’s compliance with them. See Acts 21:20-26.WDUS 59.11

    It is a fallacy to reason from the fact that “all” of the “many thousands” who believed kept this or that belonging to the law, and because Paul, James and other enlightened teachers conformed to their prejudices, feeding them with milk until they could endure strong meat, that therefore these are binding upon us. It requires as express legislation to carry a positive institution from one dispensation to another as it did to establish it at first. But there is no such legislation with reference to the sabbath, and this ends the matter.WDUS 60.1

    Paul had also another reason for preaching on the sabbath; he could then get an audience of such as he could not reach on other days. It was the day when the Jews, to whom he wished to preach, were assembled; and when they were in the habit of giving opportunity to read and explain the Scriptures (Luke 4:16 17). To this also Acts 15:21 refers—“Muses of old time,” i. e., since many generations, Moses “hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath.” Nor is it at all strange that pious Gentiles should not only build them synagogues, as the centurion mentioned in Luke 7:2-5, but also habitually meet and worship with them, though there was no law requiring either.WDUS 60.2

    And the very expression, “Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath-days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures,” is proof that the writer of Acts knew the sabbath not to be binding; for were it binding, it would be a matter of course that Paul would preach on that day, but since it is not binding it was necessary to tell that such was Paul’s manner, else we should not have known it.WDUS 60.3

    The explanation that the sabbath, circumcision, and indeed all such “customs” were no longer binding was long withheld, because the people could not bear it. This may seem strange to some, but such is nevertheless the fact. On the same principle God did not insist on monogamy for thousands of years, though such was His design from the very first; and for a similar reason also He suffered divorce on slight pretexts for many ages. Matthew 19:8. Even Peter, an inspired apostle, after preaching eight or ten years had to be convinced by miracle that the Gentiles are also to be partakers of gospel blessings. And this is especially strange since his commission read, “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Besides, he had, in his very first sermon, preached salvation for “all” (Acts 2:39) without understanding for ten years what that meant which the Spirit caused him then to say. In many things, for a long time, even the apostles saw “through a glass darkly.” Gradually, but yet as fast as they could bear it, light came. And so the Savior had ordained: “First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.”WDUS 60.4

    I do not claim that the first day of the week was ever called “Sabbath” by inspiration, except in prophecy. Hence the first day ought not to be called sabbath now save in poetry and figurative language. By what right the first day was called sabbath in prophecy, I must reserve for my next proposition, where it properly belongs. But to find a fulfillment of Isaiah 56:6 in as yet unconverted Gentiles coming out to hear Paul preach on the sabbath to see what he had to say is so strangely wild that it is difficult to believe that a man ever wrote it in sober earnest. I fear my brother was nodding just then.WDUS 60.5

    Isaiah 56:6 and all similar prophecies no more predict the continuance of the Jewish sabbath than the 7th verse—“their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar”—gives to us animal sacrifices and a literal altar, or than Isaiah 66:23 insists upon the continuance of Jewish “new moons.” Such literalism would construe Zechariah 14:20 into a present duty to literally write “holiness unto the Lord” upon “the bells of the horses” rather than to insist upon righteous dealing!WDUS 60.6

    3. Elder W.’s third division is not yet sufficiently developed to need a reply. While awaiting the result I will begin a negative argument.WDUS 61.1

    I. The law is abolished; and since the sabbath was a part of the law it went with it, no matter when it was given.WDUS 61.2

    The expression “the law,” when referring to the Old Dispensation, and not qualified to the contrary either expressly or by obvious implication, always refers to the entire body of the law as a whole, or to single commandments as part of the whole. In other words, there is no such Scriptural distinction as “the moral law” and “the ceremonial law.” Under the Jewish Dispensation the moral, the ceremonial, and the Judicial were part and parcel of one law. It was in the days of the Schoolmen, when men, preparatory to entering the ministry, spent sixteen years in hairsplitting and called it “theology,” that the three-law distinction arose. But “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” What in one sentence is called “the law of Moses” (Luke 2:22) is in another called “the Law of the Lord” (v. 24); and what in one passage is called simply “the law” is in another called “the law of Moses;” compare Luke 16:16, “The law and the prophets were until John,” with Luke 24:44, “All things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms.” Both of these passages refer to the whole of the Old Testament with this difference in details, that what is divided in the second into “prophets and Psalms” is embraced in “prophets” in the first, since the Psalms are largely prophecy. I know of no instance where the ten commandments alone are called “the law,” simply.WDUS 61.3

    1. When I say that the law is abolished I have reference only to so much of the law as was positive; and this includes the sabbath which I have shown to be positive. Moral relations cannot be and were not abolished. This was foretold by Haggai 2:6, as quoted by Paul in Hebrews 12:27. “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.” This implies a former “shaking,” which took place at the giving of the law to the Jews; see Haggai 2:5, Hebrews 12:25, 26. And the second shaking was to take place when Christ should come for the first time or while the second temple was still standing (Haggai 2:7, Hebrews 12:28). As to the things shaken or removed Paul’s comment is, “And this expression, yet once more (etc.), signifieth the removing of those things that may be shaken (marg.), as of things that are made [and the sabbath was “made,” Mark 2:27], that those things which cannot be shaken [namely, things not “made,” i. e., moral principles] may remain.”—Hebrews 12:27.WDUS 61.4

    2. “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgression, till the seed (Christ) should come.” Galatians 3:19. But Christ has come; therefore the law has served out its time and is discharged.WDUS 61.5

    3. “The law was (not is) our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under the schoolmaster.”—Galatians 3:24, 25.WDUS 61.6

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