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    February 9, 1891

    “The ‘Independent’ and the Sabbath” The Signs of the Times, 17, 6.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The New York Independent of January 8 contains several pages of letters from prominent men, in response to its request for their views as to whether the Columbian Exposition should be open on Sunday. It has also several columns of editorial comment on the same subject. From all this matter we extract a few suggestive items.SITI February 9, 1891, page 34.22

    Of the one hundred and nineteen Senators and Representatives whose letters are published, only twenty-four are unqualifiedly in favor of Sunday opening; nineteen think that the gates may be open under certain restrictions; two think that the exposition should be open for religious exercises on a grand scale-a sort of religious show; and six are either undecided or do not care to express an opinion. This shows that the great majority oppose Sunday opening.SITI February 9, 1891, page 34.23

    Very few of the one hundred and nineteen public men gave any reason for their opinion in favor of Sunday closing. The principal reason given is that opening the exhibition would diminish the respect of the people for Sunday.SITI February 9, 1891, page 34.24

    The Hon. C. H. Grosvenor, of Ohio, gives a reason which clashes strangely with the Independent’s general heading to the collection of replies. The heading is printed in large black letters: “Shall We Obey God’s Commandment?” Mr. Grosvenor’s reply is:—SITI February 9, 1891, page 34.25

    I do not think that the Columbian Exposition should be opened for public exhibition on Sunday. The Sabbath is as much an American institution as is the recognition that religion, morality, and intelligence are essential to the welfare of the State.SITI February 9, 1891, page 34.26

    Can anyone tell what connection there is between obeying God’s commandment and recognizing an American institution? Is he the God of the Americans only? Is he not also of the English, the Germans, the Scandinavians, the French, and the Italians? If Sunday observance is enjoined by one of God’s commandments, by what right is the day claimed as “an American institution”? And if it is an American institution, then it is certain that it is not of God. Indeed, this is certain anyway.SITI February 9, 1891, page 34.27

    On the editorial page the Independent prints over a column of Scripture relating to the Sabbath. Each text is printed in a separate paragraph, and in Italic type, to make it specially prominent. The first is the fourth commandment, and the others are strong expressions concerning the Sabbath, as Isaiah 58:13, 14. Of course not one of them has the slightest reference to the first day of the week. Following these texts, the Independent has this just comment:—SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.1

    What God commands is highest law. “Thus saith the Lord” is conclusive, both as to the authority of the law and our obligation to obey it.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.2

    Speaking through Moses and the prophets, God says, “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy” [not spoken through Moses but by Jehovah’s own voice], and pronounces penalty for disobedience against those who violate it. The command is repeated and emphasized in different places and in different forms.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.3

    When or by whom has this command been repealed? Not by Christ, as is sometimes erroneously inferred. He did break the intricate network of regulation which the Jews had woven about it, and which had made it a burden and not a relief. He taught that it was right to heal, to relieve distress, to care for life, to do works of necessity on the Sabbath, but he did not abolish it.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.4

    Yet in the face all this, the Independent pleads for Sunday observance in obedience to God’s commandment! We cannot understand such inconsistency. It truly says that Christ did not abolish the Sabbath; now what is that Sabbath? Notice: God commanded the observance of “the Sabbath-day,” literally, “the day of the Sabbath.” That Sabbath-day is declared to be “the seventh day.” Exodus 20:8-10. We are told that it was “the seventh day” that God rested upon, blessed, and sanctified at the close of creation. It was a definite day that the Lord, through Jeremiah, warned the Jews not to violate. It was for disregarding the seventh-day Sabbath that they were carried into captivity. It was the seventh-day Sabbath that Christ was falsely accused of breaking; and it was of the seventh day that he spoke when he declared himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath-day. Mark 2:28. And he didn’t abolish it. Therefore it is the Sabbath, the Lord’s day still; and opening the Columbian Exposition on Sunday will be no more a violation of God’s commandment than will opening it on Monday or Friday.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.5

    The Independent says that if Christ did abolish the Sabbath, “his own disciples did not so understand him; for they continued to observe the institution, transferring it, after the resurrection, to the first day of the week, though both days were observed for a time by some of them.” This suggests a train of queries, a few of which must be noted.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.6

    1. If Christ’s disciples transferred the Sabbath from the seventh day of the first (as impossible a thing as it would be to transfer the third day of the week to the fourth), and if they had authority so to do, why did they not do it all at once?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.7

    2. Which class was right-the one that observed the first day, or the one that continued to observe the seventh?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.8

    3. If the action of men, professed disciples, is to settle the matter of Sabbath observance, then was it not, for a time at least, as correct to observe the seventh day as the first day?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.9

    4. If the disciples had a right to change the day, and the change was made so gradually that for a time both days were observed, when did Sunday keeping get the full sanction of the fourth commandment?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.10

    5. Was there a time in the evolution of the Sunday sabbath when it was just half right to keep Sunday and half right to keep Sabbath?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.11

    6. If it is right now to keep any day that people may choose, in obedience to the fourth commandment, without any instruction from the Lord, was it not equally right in the days of Nehemiah and Jeremiah? and where then was the justice in the punishment of the Jews for not resting on the seventh day?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.12

    7. If it was right to keep the Sabbath at all after the resurrection, is it not equally right now?SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.13

    Other questions might be asked, but we wish to note just one other point. The Independent says:—SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.14

    When the Almighty established the Sabbath, he established it on a principle as lasting as the race-the physical need of rest, as verified in all history and among all peoples; that need is just as real now as when the commandment was given.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.15

    To this we reply flatly that the Almighty never established the Sabbath on any such principle, and that there is not an iota of proof in the Scriptures that he did. Our contradiction is based on the following plain declarations of the Lord himself:—SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.16

    “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:9-11.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.17

    “Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep; for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.18

    “Moreover also I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” Ezekiel 20:12.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.19

    This is the reason, and the only reason, for the Sabbath. It is established upon the principle of God’s creative power-that power which makes him alone worthy of all worship, and by which he sanctifies those who yield themselves to him. It was given that men might remember him as the Creator and Sanctifier, and we are sure that this need is as real now as when the commandment was given. It is “the foundation of many generations,” and “if the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?”SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.20

    So far as the Columbian Exposition is concerned, it makes no difference to us whether it is opened on Sunday or not; but we do hope that the false arguments and the perversion of Scripture that is resorted to support Sunday closing may serve to show many people where the truth is in regard to the Sabbath. E. J. W.SITI February 9, 1891, page 42.21

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