“A Judicial Profession of Christianity for the Nation” The American Sentinel 7, 26, pp. 204, 205.

June 30, 1892

[Further extracts from an address by A. T. Jones, delivered at Battle Creek, Mich., May 14, 1892, as reported in the Review and Herald.]

JUSTICE BREWER’S decision establishes and justifies the requirement of all officials, of a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity and the inspiration of the Scriptures by a quotation from the constitution of Delaware, of 1776, as follows:—

“I. A. B., do profess faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ his only Son, and in the Holy Ghost, one God, blessed forevermore; and I do acknowledge the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be given by divine inspiration.”

And the doctrine that is held all through the decision, that this thing and the Constitution speak the same language and have one meaning, is just at this point emphasized in the following words:—

Even the Constitution of the United States, which is supposed to have little touch upon the private life of the individual, contains in the First Amendment a declaration common to the constitution of all the States, as follows: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” And also provides that the Executive shall have ten days (Sundays excepted) within which to determine whether he will approve or veto a bill. [And there is a sly recognition of Sunday observance as constitutional.] There is no dissonance in these declarations. There is a universal language pervading them all, having one meaning; they affirm and re-affirm that this is a religious nation. These are not individual sayings, declarations of private persons; they are organic utterances; they speak the voice of the entire people.

Having now established a religion for “the entire people,” with all the appurtenances thereto, the court cites and sanctions the declaration of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, that “Christianity is, and always has been, part of the common law,” and then proceeds to establish the doctrine that it is blasphemy to speak or act in contempt “of the religion professed by almost the whole community.” And this is done by citing the pagan decision of Chief Justice Kent of New York, which “assumes that we are a Christian people.”

There remains but one thing more to complete the perfect likeness of the whole papal system; and that is the direct and positive sanction of Sunday laws. Nor is this one thing lacking. It is fully and completely supplied. As before observed, it is broadly hinted at in the quotation last made above. But the court does not stop with that; it proceeds to cite the Sunday laws as one of the “organic utterances,” which proves conclusively that “this is a Christian Nation.” The words of the Court are as follows:—

If we pass beyond these matters to a view of American life, as expressed by its laws, its business, its customs, and its society, we find everywhere a clear recognition of the same truth. Among other matters, note the following: The form of oath universally prevailing, concluding with an appeal to the Almighty; the custom of opening sessions of all deliberative bodies, and most conventions, with prayer; the prefatory words of all wills, “In the name of God, Amen;” the laws respecting the observance of the Sabbath, with the general cessation of all secular business, and the closing of courts, legislatures, and other similar public assemblies on that day…. These, and many other matters which might be noticed, add a volume of unofficial declarations to the mass of organic utterances that THIS IS A CHRISTIAN NATION.

Now let us sum this up and see what has been done: There is a national religion established, and it is called Christianity and Protestantism. With this there is also specifically justified and established as the meaning of the Constitution of the United States, (1) the maintenance of the discipline of the churches by the civil power; (2) the requirement of the religious oath; (3) the requirement of the religious test-oath as a qualification for office; (4) public taxation for the support of religion and religious teachers; (5) the requirement of a belief in the Trinity and the inspiration of “holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments;” (6) the guilt of blasphemy upon every one who speaks or acts in contempt of the established religion; (7) and laws for the observance of Sunday, with the general cessation of all secular business. All this is declared by unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, to be the meaning of the Constitution of the United States.

Now what more was ever the Papacy than that? What more than that was ever required by the Papacy?—Not one thing. And all this is declared in favor of Protestantism. What, then, is this but the legal establishment, and that by the highest court of the government,—What then is this but the legal establishment of the very likeness of the Papacy? If there is one here who does not think so, then I wish he would tell us what more needs to be done, or what more could be done, to make the likeness of the Papacy, in the principle of the thing?—in principle, I say, not yet in its practical workings, for life has not yet been given to it. But so far as the making of the things goes, and the establishment of the principles of it, the likeness of the Papacy is made in this decision.

Look at it from another standpoint. Suppose an amendment to the Constitution has been passed by Congress and presented to the people for adoption. Suppose that amendment had recited in a preamble these very historical statements here cited by the Supreme Court, and then upon that had declared that this is a Christian Nation. What then ought Seventh-day Adventists to think? I do not say, what would they think, but what ought they to think? Ought they not to think that if that should be adopted and become a part of the Constitution of the United States, that the image to the beast would be made? I think they ought, don’t you? But even more than this has been and is now actually done by this decision. If such an amendment were even adopted, and so were made a part of the Constitution, it would still remain for the Supreme Court to define the meaning of it. But the Court has already done all this.

The Court has traced the whole course of religious purposes in government from Ferdinand and Isabella down “to the present hour,” and has declared that this is the “meaning” of the Constitution as it now stands. This is the unanimous voice of the authoritative interpreter of the Constitution. Legally, and so far as the [205] governmental action is concerned, what the Supreme Court says the Constitution means, that is what it means. Such, then, being the officially declared meaning of the Constitution as it now is, what more could be done even by an amendment containing these very statements, when it would still remain for the same court to declare its meaning?

This decision, therefore, is actually stronger, if anything, than an amendment would be in itself. Consequently if we would be justified in saying to the people that such an amendment would be the making of an image to the beast, how much more are we justified in lifting up the voice and saying to all people that this is the making of the image to the beast, that that image is now made, and that this decision opens the way for the fulfillment in completest meaning, of all that the third angel’s message announces and warns against.

Now do not misunderstand. I do not say that the image is living and speaking and acting. I only say that in principle it is made. There yet remains that life shall be given to it, that it shall speak and act.

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