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    August 25, 1887

    “Not ‘A Daniel Come to Judgment’” The Signs of the Times, 13, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The state of Louisiana has, in common with many other States, been doctoring its Sunday laws, and now has a law requiring that, with certain exceptions, all places of business shall be closed from 12 o’clock on Saturday night until 12 o’clock on Sunday night. A case recently came before the Supreme Court of Louisiana in which the law was claimed to be unconstitutional. The court held the law to be valid, and the following is a portion of the opinion delivered by the Judge:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.1

    “We take occasion promptly to say that if the object of law were to compel the observance of Sunday as a religious institution, we would not hesitate to declare it to be violative of the above constitutional prohibition. It would violate equally the religious liberty of the Christian, the Jew, and the infidel, none of whom can be compelled by law to comply with any merely religious observance whether it accords with his faith and conscience or not. With rare exceptions, the American authorities concur in this view.... The statute is to be judged of precisely as if it had selected for the day of rest any day of the week, other than Sunday; and its validity is not to be question, because in the exercise of a wide discretion, it has chosen that day of rest any day of the week, other than Sunday; and its validity is not to be questioned, because in the exercise of a wide discretion, it was chosen that day which a majority of the inhabitants of this state, under the sanctions of their religious faith, already voluntarily observed as a day of rest.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.2

    The New York Independent quotes this, and adds the following words of approval:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.3

    “This is an exceedingly lucid statement of the theory which underlies all legislation that requires the suspension of ordinary labor on Sunday. The object is not to enforce religious observances of any kind, but simply to establish a uniform day of rest for the general good of the whole people; and this is no interference with the religious rights of anybody.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.4

    It may seem very presumptuous for a non-professional man to criticize the opinion of so great a person as a judge of the Supreme Court, but nevertheless we have no hesitation in saying that the opinion quoted is nothing but sophistry, and such sophistry as could be dealt out only by an adept in the art. This we think can easily be made apparent; and it is the more necessary that they should be done, because the Sunday-law mania has now become quite prevalent, and just such sophistical arguments as those quoted above will be relied on in securing the enactment of those laws. These arguments will be used for the reason that they are the best that can be offered in favor of an unjust law, and also simply because they have been used before. Even the Louisiana judge himself did not pretend to originate them, but contented himself with giving the view in which nearly all “American authorities concur.” If American legal business were not becoming more a matter of precedent than of common sense, Sunday laws could never be enacted; but the idea seems to be that whatever has been done ought to be done, and precedents for oppressing people under the guise of charity are not wanting.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.5

    The claim is made that the Sunday law does not compel the observance of Sunday as a religious institution, and that therefore it cannot be contrary to a constitution which forbids religious tests for office or citizenship. But the fact is, Sunday is primarily a religious institution, and its observance cannot be enforced except as such. It cannot be separated from its religious (not sacred) character for the purpose of special legislation concerning it. It matters not what such legislation is called, whether a police regulation, or a law in the interests of the workingman, it is legislation concerning an institution of the church.SITI August 25, 1887, page 518.6

    To make it evident that Sunday laws are laws in behalf of religion, three things only need to be borne in mind: 1. Sunday rest originated in the church. Catholics universally claim the church as the sole authority for Sunday observance, and many Protestants agree with them in this. The Christian at Work says: “We rest the designation of Sunday solely on the church having set it apart of its own authorities.” But if the claims of those who say that Christ and the apostles set the day apart as a day of rest, were true, that would make it emphatically a church institution. 2. The observance of Sunday is generally considered by church people as the essence of religion. In the Sunday law contest in California five years ago, the Christian Advocate spoke of Sunday as “the foundation of our holy religion.” Regarding Sunday rest as the memorial of the resurrection of Christ, they think that without it there would be no evidence of the truth of the gospel. 3. The churches and the churches alone are at the bottom of all Sunday legislation. No one ever heard of such a thing as a Sunday law being proposed by anybody except a zealous churchman or a deputation of ministers. It is true that, by pretending that Sunday laws are in the interests of labor, they are inducing labor and socialistic organizations to clamor for such laws, but these organizations come in only as allies to the church. Everyone who knows anything of the history of Sunday legislation, knows that it is always instigated by the churches.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.1

    Now in the face of these things, to say that Sunday laws do not compel men to observe Sunday as a religious institution, is not only sophistry, but it is positively untruth. Since the day as a day of rest is nothing else but a religious institution, how can it be enforced as anything else but a religious institution? It cannot be enforced as something which it is not. True, it is said that when the State enforces the observance of Sunday, it makes it a civil institution, merely a legal holiday. Well, nobody contends that the State law makes Sunday a religious institution; it is that already. We freely admit that the State law in its behalf is only a civil ordinance, for the State could make nothing else but a civil ordinance; but, mark it well, what we do claim, and what all candid minds must admit to be the truth, is that a State Sunday law is a civil ordinance enforcing the observance of a religious institution.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.2

    Some years ago the city of San Francisco had a notorious mayor, who engaged in certain transactions that were inconsistent with his official position. His defense was that he did those things as an ordinary citizen, and not as mayor. It requires no argument to show the absurdity of such a statement. The man was mayor, and he could not separate himself from his office within the time to which he was elected. But this is just on a par with the argument that Sunday legislation is not the enforcement of a religious institution. If the friends of so-called National Reform admit such a plea, they must be prepared to see it carried out to its legitimate conclusion. They must expect to see the vilest rakes elected to office in their model government, under the plea that they are not bad citizens, but are simply bad men.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.3

    If anything further were needed to show the flimsy character of the arguments by which Sunday-law advocates attempt to make it appear that they are not working for an ecclesiastical establishment, it may be found in the last sentence of the judicial opinion first quoted. Said the judge:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.4

    “The statute is to be judged of precisely as if it had selected for the day of rest any day of the week, other than Sunday; and its validity is not to be questioned because, in the exercise of a wise discretion, it has chosen that day which a majority of the inhabitants of this State, under the sanctions of their religious faith, already voluntarily observed as a day of rest.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.5

    “A wise discretion,” indeed! The State has chosen the day which a large majority of its inhabitants, under the sanctions of their religious faith, who voluntarily observe as a day of rest, and, at the instigation of that majority, has undertaken to enforce its observance as a day of rest, and yet this is no more in the interest of religion than if Monday or Thursday had been chosen! Such a monstrous assertion needs but to be quoted to be refuted. A man must be sadly blinded to put such a statement forth as a sober legal argument, and men must be pre-determined to have Sunday laws or they could not be deceived by it. Suppose that the State had, in the exercise of its “wise discretion,” chosen Saturday instead of Sunday; would their not have been protests without number? Indeed there would. People would call it a law in the interest of the Jews and other Sabbatarians, and no argument could convince them to the contrary. “But,” says one, “such a law would really be unjust to the great majority who observe Sunday as a day of religious rest.” Indeed! Then by the same token a law enforcing Sunday observance is unjust to those who observe Saturday, or who do not choose to observe any set day. The discriminating reader can see that it is the word “majority” which catches the judicial fancy. It seems to be the idea that Sunday legislation cannot be wrong, because the majority favor it. As much as if to say that a thing is necessarily right if it is proposed by a majority of the people. But no majorities can ever make a wrong right, and State laws in behalf of an establishment of religion are always wrong. The question whether or not Sunday ought to be observed as a day of rest, does not enter into the case at all. We believe in the God of the Bible, as the majority of people in this country profess to do, but we should emphatically protest against a State law to compel all people to recognize him as such.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.6

    Here is a point that should not be lost sight of: If Sunday laws are not for the purpose of compelling the observance of Sunday as a religious institution, for what purpose are they? The claim is that they are in the interest of humanity, so that laboring men may have the rest which their physical nature imperatively demands. Very well, thus we suppose it will be admitted that is within the province of the State to compel men to observe the laws of there being. Now it is just as certain that man’s physical nature requires that he should take a definite amount of sleep every twenty-four hours, far more imperatively than it demands that he shall rest one day in seven. Will our Sunday-law friends admit that the State has any right to decide how many hours a man ought to sleep, and to enact a law compelling every man to sleep at least seven hours out of every twenty-four? Unless they are ready to advocate such a measure as this, let them say nothing more about enforcing Sunday rest on the basis of the necessity of man’s physical nature. We have presented this view of the case before, but we do not expect ever to see Sunday-law advocates attempt to meet it.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.7

    Now one word concerning the Independent’s statement that Sunday legislation “is no interference with the religious rights of anybody.” We say that it is a positive and unjust interference with the religious rights of everybody who conscientiously observes any day other than Sunday. Here are laboring men who believe that when the fourth commandment says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work,” means just what it says. They are conscientious in their observance of the seventh day of the week; and the needs of their families demand that they should spend the other six days in labor, as the commandment allows. According to the fourth commandment, it is their religious privilege to labor six days of the week, just as much as it is their religious duty to rest on the seventh. Therefore if the State steps in and compels them to rest on another day also, no matter on what grounds the rest is enforced, their religious rights are interfered with. And if these men shall be punished for continuing to make Sunday one of their six working days, their punishment will be an act of religious persecution. No assertions to the contrary can change the truth of this.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.8

    From the very nature of the case, Sunday legislation must interfere with the religious rights of some. For, Sunday as a day of rest is beyond dispute a religious institution; legislation enforcing its observance is legislation enforcing an establishment of religion; and when any religious tenet is enforced, the religious rights of all who do not hold that tenet must be interfered with, and oppression must result.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.9

    We hope that the people in those States that still allow full liberty of conscience, will take the time and trouble now to become well informed concerning the arguments used in behalf of Sunday laws, and will learn how to expose their fallacy, so that when the Sunday-law mania shall seize their State, as it surely will, they will not allow their liberty to be taken away without making a well-directed, intelligent protest. W.SITI August 25, 1887, page 519.10

    “British and Foreign Bible Society” The Signs of the Times, 13, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A retrospect of the British and Foreign Bible Society for the last half century discloses some very encouraging facts. Fifty years ago the annual issues of the Bible, and of portions of it, amounted to 600,000 copies; they now amount to 4,000,000. Half a century ago the cheapest Bible cost 48 cents; now it can be had for 12 cents. Then the cheapest New Testament cost 20 cents; now it can be had for 2 cents. Fifty years ago the Scriptures were published and circulated in 136 languages; that number has been increased to 280, in fact there is only one great language, the Japanese, which has not a complete translation of the Scriptures, and that one will have such a translation before the close of the current year. Altogether these statistics form a perfect fulfillment of the prophecy found in Daniel 12:4, that in the time of the end, “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 520.1

    “Back Page” The Signs of the Times, 13, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Sisters E. G. White and M. K. White, Elders O. A. Olsen and D. T. Bourdeau, and others from Europe arrived safely at New York, August 11. Elder W. C. White will leave Europe for home about Sept. 1.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.1

    The Pope says that “not alone Italy,” but “all other nations” “principally owe to the Papacy the civilization they enjoy.” Yes, England and the United States, for instance, with Spain and Mexico, or the North of Ireland with the south, bear unmistakable evidence in the case. On a par with this is the statement in the same letter, that justice can never be done “if the Pope is not restored to his incontestable rights indeed temporal sovereignty-rights founded upon the most legitimate and sacred of titles.” The right founded upon the “Donation of Constantine” above all in legitimacy and sacredness, of course.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.2

    In the Christian Advocate of July 21, a certain Rev. J. W. Simpson says:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.3

    “We admit immersion to be one mode of baptism, and yet can recall at present only four examples of it in the Scriptures. The first is the deluge; the second, that of Pharaoh’s army; the third the case of a man, the leper who was so exceedingly foul that we are not surprised that it took old Jordan to cleanse him; and the fourth was that of a herd of swine which ran violently down a steep place into the sea and perished in the waters.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.4

    As a display of downright egotistical ignorance we have never seen that surpassed. Nor is that all. His reference to the swine as an example of a baptism is contemptible, and his reference to the case of Naaman is basely irreverent.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.5

    A correspondent, apparently editorial, of the Christian Union, says that “Professor Harris is the philosopher of the Concord School par excellence... and the opinion is frequently heard that we may yet have an American system of philosophy.” It seems that this “American system of philosophy” is embodied in the idea of probation after death. And Professor Harris in his par excellence “makes the idea of the cessation of probation annihilate both” Heaven and hell. Then says this admirer of the “philosopher par excellence;” “This view of Dr. Harris is fully elaborated in his essay on ‘The Philosophic Structure of Dante’s Davina Commedia.’ I am not sure that this paper will not prove itself to be one of the most inspiring missionary tracks of the time.” Well an American philosophy extracted from Dante’s “Davina Commedia” may be a very inspiring thing, but it is absolutely certain that such inspiration will never lead men to God or accomplish anything for Christ. Yet this wild nonsense is becoming very popular in the theological circle of which the Christian Union forms a part.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.6

    In the Forum for July Mr. Grant Allen says:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.7

    “Life is merely some particular set of correlated movements, occurring, under the influence of the solar radiation, in a certain group of material bodies on the surface of one small and unimportant planet, in a minor solar system, hidden away on the skirts of a galaxy in some lost quarter of a boundless universe.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.8

    That is very exact. It is most satisfactorily definite. The corner of anything boundless is good, but when it is the corner of a boundless cosmos, and that, too, a lost quarter, and the thing hidden away there beside, then the thought becomes grand. Now with that definition of life put the following definition of death, by the much admired Professor Drummond-he who was brought all the way from England to help Moody in his missionary training-school:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.9

    “Death is lack of correspondence with the environment.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.10

    These two definitions match very well, each is the complement of the other. And both answer very well to the demands of the Spiritualistic sentimentalism that now passes for the Christian religion.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.11

    I had rather speak five words with my understanding, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.12

    “Bogus Piety” The Signs of the Times, 13, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    A recent dispatch giving an account of a series of post-office robberies in a town in this State, by a man named Weston, whose evil deeds had just come to light, closed with these words: “Weston was a church member, and very pious.” Now this is not true, and is never true in any similar case. The man was indeed a church member, but he was not pious. He may have had the appearance of piety, he had not the real article. Pious do not do such things. Moreover, the man who wrote that dispatch knew that the post-office thief was not pious, and every worldling knows that bank-defaulters, embezzlers, etc. are not pious men. They know that piety is not that kind of stuff, that Christianity calls for something better, and that Christians should act differently. And it is because they know this, that they never fail to mention that an erring man was a professed Christian. Such mention is always an unconscious and unintended tribute to the excellent character of true Christianity, because it shows that even the haters of Christianity know that evil and right are inconsistent with it.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.13

    But someone may ask how we explained the sudden falls from piety and integrity that we so often see or hear about. We answer that such sudden falls are not so common as is supposed. But when they do occur, we can explain them just as we would explain the sudden fall of a building. If a building falls suddenly and without warning, and apparently without sufficient cause, we say at once that there was a defect in its construction; it never was sound. It stood for a time, and was apparently sound, but continued pressure made itself fall in the place that was a weak. So a man who “suddenly falls” from piety, simply gives way under strong pressure upon some weak point. And as no building is any stronger than its weakest support, so no Christian character, however sound it may appear, is in any stronger than the spot that has never been built up. So in reality even this was not a sudden fall from true piety, but from the semblance thereof.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.14

    In general, therefore, it may be set down as a fact that men do not fall suddenly into great sins. Solomon says that “the beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water;” the tiny stream soon makes for itself a larger opening, which gradually increases until a mighty torrent rushes through. So a little sin, covered up, a little defect cherished, brings condemnation to the individual at first, but the voice of conscience being repressed, he becomes hardened, possibly at last really unconscious of the fact that he is living a lie, and then detection is the only thing necessary to make the world safe in derision, there is a specimen of a pious man, and others mourn over the “sudden fall” of one who was highly esteemed. They simply compound the detection with the fall, whereas the fall may have taken place years before. Then the cause of Christ has to suffer reproach, since people forget that it is really to the credit of Christianity that dishonest men put it on as a cloak for their ungodly deeds. They know that people do not look there for such things, and so they expect to escape without detection.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.15

    “Not ‘Inferred’ But Believed” The Signs of the Times, 13, 33.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Christian Standard, in, an attempted, reasoning on the immortality of the soul, says:-SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.16

    “When it is said that we do not read of the ‘immortality of the soul,’ in the Scriptures, the truth is spoken; but when it is inferred from this that there is nothing in man that remains in possession of conscious existence after death, the conclusion is not well drawn. The immortality of the angels is something not named in the Scriptures. Yet it would be most unsafe to infer that they are not to continue in this possession of conscious existence for ever. That which is mortal is subject to death, as the human body as it now is; that which is immortal is not subject to death, as the immortal bodies of the redeemed, as they shall be.”SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.17

    But the unconscious of men in the death is not “inferred” from the silence of Scripture on the subject of the “immortality of the soul.” In fact it is not “inferred” from anything. It is the plain declaration of Scripture, and therefore, on the part of men who accept it, it is not an inference at all but is belief of the word of God. The Scriptures plainly state that “the dead know not if anything,” also “their love and their hatred and their envy” is “perished” (Ecclesiastes 9:5); that when his breath goeth forth, “in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:4); that “in death there is no remembrance of God” (Psalm 115:17); all these, and many more, Scriptures show that at death men go to the place of silence and forgetfulness, and to accept such a view as the truth, is not inference but perfectly-founded faith.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.18

    “The immortality of the angels is something not named in the Scriptures,” says the Standard. Now the Scriptures say of those who shall be made immortal, that “Neither can they die any more, for [because] they are equal to the angels.” To be equal unto the angels exempts from death for ever, and that is immortality. Therefore the immortality of the angels is named in the Scriptures. This is proved by the Standard itself. It says, “That which is immortal is not subject to death.” And the Scriptures do certainly say that the angels cannot die, in that it is said that the redeemed cannot die anymore because they are equal to the angels. Therefore upon the Standard’s following proposition the immortality of the angels is named in the Scriptures. Yet upon the supposition that the Scriptures do not name the immortality of the angels, the Standard says, “It would be most unsafe to infer that they are not to continue in the possession of conscious being forever.” But if the word of God should say of the angels, as it says of men, that while they live “they know not that they shall die,” but when dead they “know not anything,” that their “thoughts” would then “perish,” and they would remember not God, and “praise not the Lord,” but would remain in silence and in the land of forgetfulness,-if the word of God should say all this of the angels, and much more to the same effect, it would not be unsafe to believe that they were not to continue in the possession of conscious being forever. And to believe so of men of whom all these things are said by the word of the Lord, is not only not unsafe, but is the only real safe thing to believe on that subject. This conclusion is well drawn.SITI August 25, 1887, page 528.19

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