THE two Seventh-day Adventists recently imprisoned in Centreville, Md., for Sunday work, have been released. R. R. Whaley was convicted on three charges, and committed to jail for thirty days on each charge. But it seems that the judge determined, before adjourning court, that he should be imprisoned for only thirty days. He was released on the 3rd inst. W. G. Curlett was convicted on two charges, and was likewise committed to jail for thirty days on each. But he, too, was released in thirty days. The judge was, it seems, more merciful than the law and the complaining witnesses. This action reflects credit on Judge Robinson. It must be exceedingly distasteful to such men to be compelled by an unjust law to lend themselves to what is evidently religious persecution. The remedy is to repeal the law which makes such things possible.
WE wish to call special attention to the article on our first page, entitled, “Obey the Law Until Repealed.” It answers clearly, and we trust, convincingly, a criticism often passed upon those who refuse obedience to Sunday laws.
It is strange that Christian men,—men with an open Bible in their hands,—cannot see the vital principle involved in this question of yielding obedience to laws requiring a measure of worship; for “obedience is the highest form of worship.”
It is said that Sunday laws are civil, not religious; and that they require a civil and not a religious service. But assertion is not proof. The fact is, and it has been admitted by a very large majority of courts and judges, that Sunday laws are religious in this that they rest upon the religious convictions and prejudices of the people, and are designed to guard a religious institution as such; and thus indirectly, at least, to guard religion itself. Indeed no other view was ever taken of such laws until under our scheme of complete separation of Church and State it became necessary to find a “civil” basis for such legislation.
Judge Allen, of New York, holds that the Sunday statute merely recognizes an attribute of holiness already bestowed by a higher law. His exact language is, “It does not detract from the moral or legal sanction of a law of the State, that it conforms to the law of God, as that law is recognized by the great majority of the people.” A Pennsylvania judge in like manner declares, “Sabbath-breaking is a violation of a divine as well as a human law.” In Arkansas, some Sunday card players were informed by the judge that the day “is set apart by divine appointment” “for other and better engagements.” While in Maryland, it has been plainly said, “Ours is a Christian community, and the day set apart as the day of rest is the day consecrated by the resurrection of our Saviour.”
But it would not matter if every court in the world declared the legally enforced Sunday to be purely civil; the consistent Seventh-day Adventist still could not keep it. It is, the Bible teaches, a rival of God’s Sabbath, and as such the man who so believes, must refuse to show it any honor no matter what the consequences to himself may be; prison, the chain-gang, or even death, may await him, but he cannot falter; he must “obey God rather than men.”
A WELL-AUTHENTICATED story of the barbarous treatment of a Seventh-day Adventist colporter comes to us from Lewisville, the county seat of La Fayette County, Arkansas.
This colporter, who is employed by the Arkansas Tract Society of Seventh-day Adventists, with headquarters at Van Buren, went to Lewisville and began selling an Adventist book. He called on a Methodist minister, who said to him in substance: “That is the book, is it not, that the Arkansas Methodist condemned recently?”
Upon learning that it was the same book, an effort was made to have the colporter arrested, but the town clerk said he had a right to sell the book, which he continued to do. About 4 o’clock in the afternoon this Seventh-day Adventist colporter was met on the street by a number of men, headed by what proved to be the marshal of the town, who immediately ordered the colporter to leave the town.
The officer showed no badge and did not declare himself as an officer. Finally, he caught the poor Seventh-day Adventist by the shoulder, and, turning him around, ordered him to leave, and began to assist by kicking him! This was continued for some blocks, when, finally, he grew tired, and, drawing a revolver, he gave the abused colporter fifteen minutes to leave the place.
The Adventist went directly to his lodging-place and went to bed, for he had been badly used. About 8 P.M., the marshal came to the room where the victim of his abuse lay, accompanied by a man with a shot-gun. The colporter was again ordered to leave the place, but he refused to go, saying that he was a citizen of the State and had a perfectd right to remain there as long as he conducted himself properly.
The next day the affair was the talk of the town, and the valiant marshal, fearing that he would be prosecuted by the colporter, went to a justice of the peace and pleaded guilty to assault, and was fined. He was in no danger, however, so far as the poor Seventh-day Adventist was concerned, for the colporter did not intend to make complaint, preferring to leave his case in the hands of the Lord.
If this had happened to a Methodist colporter in a Roman Catholic country, it would have been religious persecution. But what is it since the victim is an Adventist, and the assailants so-called Protestants?