THE New York Recorder, of August 12, in an illustrated article of considerable length, adds its testimony to what the press of the country have so generally spoken in condemnation of the persecution of the Adventists in Tennessee.
ONE of the eight Seventh-day Adventists in the chain-gang in Rhea County, Tenn., has been released by the county court, because on account of poor health he was unable to work. Our illustration on another page shows some of the Adventists at work on the approach to the county bridge, near Spring City.
“ENFORCING the ‘law’” against Adventists by imprisoning them or driving them in the chain-gang differs from “enforcing the ‘law’” against the heretics of the Middle Ages by means of red-hot pinchers, the gallows and the fagot, only in degree. Exactly the same principle is involved in both.
SUNDAY enforcement seems to be in the very air, and from every quarter comes intelligence concerning efforts to rigidly enforce Sunday statutes. There is scarcely a State in which the question is not being agitated, and both city ordinances and State “laws” are being invoked to compel the observance of Sunday.
SEVERAL Seventh-day Adventists have been arrested recently in Chicago under circumstances which indicate very clearly that the motive is very largely religious bigotry and intolerance. The Adventists have several churches in Chicago, and if the persecution becomes general throughout the city, we may look for interesting developments there.
MR. FAUST, a Seventh-day Adventist shoemaker of Baltimore, whose arrest some time since, we noticed in these columns, was again arrested for working on Sunday, July 21st. The policeman who had previously arrested him, had been watching him, and going into his house the back way, found him at work. The circumstances of the case all indicate clearly that it is a case of religious persecution pure and simple. Mr. Faust’s work is not of a nature to disturb people, except as they are annoyed by knowing that he is at work. He is a poor man and badly crippled up by rheumatism, and this persecution works a great hardship upon both him and his family.
OUR second illustration, “Enforcing the ‘law’ in Tennessee,” shows Seventh-day Adventists working in the chain-gang for no offense against their fellowmen, but for practical dissent from a religious dogma which has been intrenched in the statutes of Tennessee. That their punishment is not death does not change the principle. The “laws” which in other ages and in other lands tortured, hanged, or burned heretics differed only in degree from the “laws” which to-day imprison Adventists. Read our illustrated article on this subject.
THERE is a conflict of authority between Oregon and Washington, concerning Sunday fishing on the Columbia River. The laws of Oregon prohibit fishing on Sunday: while the laws of Washington permit fishing on that day. Under the plea of concurrent jurisdiction over the river, the Oregon authorities have undertaken to compel Washington fishermen to cease fishing on Sunday. What the result will be we are not able to say at this writing. The effort of the Oregon authorities shows, however, the disposition which seems inherent in Sunday enforcement.
THE Jewish Messenger professes “much sympathy for the eight Seventh-day Baptists [Adventists] of Rhea County, Tenn., who were imprisoned for working on Sunday,” but says it is idle for their friends to talk of religious persecution: that it is the first duty of citizens of all religions to obey the laws of the State, etc. Persecuted Christians have never lacked for sympathy of this kind. Pontius Pilate felt much sympathy for Christ, but nevertheless delivered him to be crucified, as the Messenger would deliver his followers now to the penalties of the law. Pilate’s sympathy benefited neither himself nor any one else. It is as worthless in this day as it was in his.
THE manager of the Present Truth publishing office, London, Eng., in a recent interview with the officials having charge of the inspection factories, was given the alternative of complying with the demands of the Sunday law until an act of Parliament could be passed exempting the Adventists as the Jews are now exempted in that country, which exemption they must secure by their own petition, or of suffering the penalty of the law, which would henceforth be rigorously applied. Of course no Christian will seek temporal ease at the expense of sacrificing principle, hence the prospect is that the property of the office there will be seized to satisfy fines imposed for Sunday labor.
THE authorities of Rhea County, Tenn., have decided not to require the Adventists now in the chain-gang in that county to serve an additional length of time because they will not work on the Sabbath. This conclusion was reached just a few days subsequent to the publication of our last-page note of the 1st inst., in which we showed clearly that any such attempt would be a flagrant violation of the plain letter and spirit of the constitution of the State, which provides that “no person shall, in time of peace, be required to perform any service for the public on any day set apart by his religion as a day of rest.” The Rhea County authorities are to be congratulated that they have decided not to thus further outrage justice.
AMONG the few papers that have approved of the persecution of Seventh-day Adventists in Tennessee, is the Central Methodist, of Cattlesburg, Kentucky, which, in its issue of July 20, said: “The Tennessee Adventists, who persist in performing manual labor on the sabbath, to the annoyance of their neighbors, have again been fined and sent to jail, as they should have been.”
The animus of this note is paper is apparent, in view of the fact that none of the work complained of was done to the annoyance of anybody, and no witness testified that he was disturbed by the work done; the only annoyance felt was of the same character as that felt by the Central Methodist, namely, the annoyance which is always begotten by bigotry and intolerance in the bosoms of those who are not willing that others should enjoy equal rights with themselves.
TO appreciate justly the nature of the times in which we live, we must look not at the men, but at the principles, which the times are bringing to the front. By these principles, the lives of other men touch our own. The fast-spreading principle of the union of Church and State brings our life in touch with that of each of the persecuted Christians now imprisoned for keeping the fourth commandment. We are not in the position of idle spectators of a play. There is something for each of us to consider and decide, and something to be done. There is a stand to be taken for or against divine truth. When Paul was brought before Felix, it was not, as it seemed, that the apostle might have a chance of regaining his liberty, but that Felix might be told of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come. The martyrs were persecuted in order that, by their sufferings, they might sow the seeds of truth. And God’s hand is shaping now the unfolding of events, to present his truth to all people, that they may choose whether they will be loyal to him or not. While a few men are suffering for their faith, the voice of truth is sounding in the ears of millions, among whom are we, calling us and them to stand now on the side of righteousness, and against the flood of evil that is rising to engulf the world. God is speaking to us, and the thing of most importance for us is to hear and heed.