FROM a political point of view, from any worldly point of view, the prospect is not bright. But from the Christian point of view, the prospect is altogether glorious. The Christian has no cause for discouragement in what he sees around him: and while he may point out these things, he does not imply by that that he is a pessimist. It is from this standpoint that the SENTINEL would call attention to existing wrongs and dangers.
THE SENTINEL has appealed to the civil authorities in behalf of religious freedom, upon the basis of the Declaration of Independence, which affirms that all men have equal rights, and the government must be by consent of the governed. If this great American document is set aside, that basis for an appeal for religious freedom is gone; and if the SENTINEL allows it to be set aside without protest, it in effect surrenders the doctrine of rights which the Declaration affirms. But that doctrine is the only basis upon which a plea for religious liberty can be made that will stand against all the assaults of sophistry and worldly logic. We cannot surrender the basis of eternal truth.
THE New England Sabbath Protective League announces through its organ, The Defender, that its purpose is to defend “the Sabbath against the persistent encroachments upon its sacredness by business and pleasure” (Italics ours); and in the same connection adds “Therefore this League aims to defend and secure such legislation as will maintain a proper observance of the Lord’s day.” What is this, therefore, but a statement that the League wants legislation to maintain the sacredness of the Sabbath! And what power is there in legislation to preserve the sacredness of a divine institution?
The rest day which God instituted is sacred, and its sacredness is altogether independent of human legislation. No legislation can therefore affect the sacredness of the Sabbath day itself. The resting of God upon the seventh day, which remains a fact, and his blessing, which remains on the day, maintain its sacredness.
But may not legislation enforce sacred conduct on the part of the people in Sabbath observance, so that in this sense it may be said that legislation will preserve the sacredness of the day? The answer must still be, No. Legislation can affect only the outward conduct; and the outward conduct of the man who does not in his heart keep the Sabbath holy, amounts to nothing. It is not sacred at all, and if it appears to be such is only a pretense and a cloak for hypocrisy.
Having neither the power to make the day itself sacred, nor to compel any person to observe it sacredly, how can legislation possibly do anything to preserve the sacredness of the Sabbath.
A FRIEND of the SENTINEL advises us that we should be careful to say nothing against imperialism by name. But how can we talk against the thing so that people will know what we are talking about, and yet will not recognize the things by name? This requires a skill in which we confess to be lacking. And if people are not to recognize what you are talking about, what point will they see in what you say, and what use will there be in saying it?
THERE can be neither self-government nor religious freedom where the doctrine is denied that rightful government is by the consent of the governed.
IT is manifestly true that nothing can be forced upon the Lord; and therefore no individual can be brought to the Lord by force. When force is used upon an individual in religion, if he yields to it at all, he is always forced further away from God.