A Methodist Bishop Calls for a National Sabbath Law

THE Religious Telescope (Methodist) of Dayton, Ohio, published in a January issue an article by Bishop J. S. Mills, D. D., calling for “A National Sabbath-observance Law,” in which the bishop says that such a law “is the only satisfactory prevention of Sabbath desecration known to me.” He inquires what hinders such legislation, and proceeds to enumerate several hindrances.

“1. The indifference of the masses—Christians as well as others—on this subject.

“2. The open opposition of those persons (chiefly foreigners) who have a standing objection to Christianity and to all its institutions.

“3. The national greed for money is chiefly responsible for the Sabbath-breaking of the 3,000,000 of workingmen who toil on Sunday as well as the other six days of the week. These toilers would be glad for the privilege of the day of rest, but corporation greed forbids it.

“4. In the recent past and now the Saturdarians [by this term he refers to observers of the seventh day] are the worst organized foe to a Sabbath law. They are distributing millions of pieces of literature over our land of a plausible, but deceptive character, aimed to prevent Sabbath legislation.”

Now we had always supposed that the Christian religion—the gospel—was a “satisfactory prevention of Sabbath desecration”; in fact, we still believe this, and that conversion by its power is “the only satisfactory prevention”—the only thing that is sure to make a Sabbath-keeper out of a Sabbath-breaker. But the bishop confesses that this remedy is unknown to him.

A person desecrates the Sabbath when he does not keep it holy. And the reason the “Sabbath” (Sunday) is not more generally kept holy is, says the bishop, that the masses, including Christians, are indifferent, and large numbers of “foreigners” are opposed to Christianity. So in order to overcome this indifference and opposition to Christianity, and cause Sunday to be kept holy—that is, not “desecrated”—he would have a “national Sabbath-observance law”! A very likely remedy indeed!

He says that “corporation greed forbids” three million of workmen taking rest on Sunday, who “would be glad of the privilege of the day of rest.” But should a workman, or any person, not keep the day God has commanded, because “corporate greed” forbids it? If nobody kept a command of God which the devil, represented by “corporate greed” or any other form of selfishness, forbids the keeping of, how many of God’s laws would be observed in the earth? The fact that the Almighty commands a thing to be done ought to be evidence enough to satisfy a bishop that the thing can be done, no matter what other power forbids it. And therefore “corporate greed” is no real reason why workingmen cannot keep the Sabbath.

But how can the workingmen take a weekly day of rest when they would lose their positions by doing so? For answer one has but to point to the sixty thousand or more Christians in this country who observe the seventh day each week, and still get alone, without any law at all in their favor. If the minority do not need “protection” by law, the majority certainly do not need it.

The bishop is very indignant against those Christians who observe the seventh day as the Sabbath,—so indignant that he has to apply to them an epithet not found in the dictionary. But immediately following this, in answering the question “How can such a law be secured?” he says that “God commands the keeping of one day in seven as a day of rest.” The seventh day people observe “one day in seven,” which according to the bishop’s statement is all that God commands, and yet for doing this he finds occasion to denounce them.

In his view it must be that the church has authority to go beyond the commands of God and exact “duties” of which his Word says nothing. And this is the pure doctrine of the church of Rome.

The bishop sees that it is very essential that all people should observe one fixed definite day; but why then can he not give the Omniscient the credit of knowing as much, and not claim that his law only commands the observance of an indefinite “one day in seven”?

This “one-day-in-seven” theory of the Sabbath commandment is only used to combat the idea that “the seventh day” in that commandment is the definite seventh day of the week, which the bishop and all his mind know very well they are not observing as the day of rest. The bishop simply does not believe in an indefinite seventh day at all; nor do any others who call for a Sunday law believe in it. If they did they would not call for a law commanding a definite day. And in all these calls for Sunday legislation, as in this one, there is revealed on investigation the arguments of the sophist and the principles of the papacy. All which proclaim that the cause of Sunday legislation is inherently bad.

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