SIX of the Seventh-day Adventists indicted some weeks since in Henry County, Tenn., for quiet Sunday work, have been arrested and placed under bonds to appear for trial early in February, 1893. Other arrests are to follow, if they have not been already made.
THESE men will doubtless be convicted. They are all members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and as it is already in evidence in the trials held last May that it is the habit of members of that church to work on Sunday, it is a foregone conclusion that all the accused are guilty of Sunday work.
ALL these men work on Sunday because they feel that it would be wrong to do otherwise. They acknowledge only one Sabbath, namely, the seventh day, and they can not conscientiously observe another day by abstaining from worldly labor and business as the law of Tennessee requires. They believe that the fourth commandment not only requires them to abstain from worldly pursuits on the seventh day, but that it requires them to regard and treat all other days alike, to do on the other six days whatever work or business they have to do. And in this they are not peculiar. In the Mail and Express of November 29, 1892, the editor, who is also president of the American Sabbath Union, says:—
The fourth commandment covers not merely the Sabbath day, not merely the one-seventh continuous part of time, but it also covers the other six days in the week. It imparts two obligations upon mankind. The one is to work six days in the week. The other is to rest the seventh.
This is true, not because Mr. Shepard says it, but because it is in accord with the word of God. Some months since the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, the organ of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination, argued this matter thus:—
The language of the commandment imparts something more than a mere permission to labor upon six days of the week. It imparts something in the nature of an obligation.
The propriety of its doing so can be readily seen. Six days of the week are left to be devoted to man and his temporal interests, but the seventh day is the Lord’s,—the day upon which he rested, and which he blessed and sanctified. This day must therefore be kept distinct and separate from all other days, and of course the means for doing this must not be likewise employed in behalf of other days, or the distinction would be lost. If mankind should regularly refrain from work upon two days of the week—the seventh day and some other day—in the manner prescribed by the commandment for the seventh day, there would be nothing in it to show which day it was that God rested upon, and which he sanctified and blessed,—nothing to signify that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, and rested upon the seventh,—and thus the purpose of the institution would entirely fall. The observance of the commandment by rest upon the seventh day would be nullified by the like rest upon the other day. It is absolutely essential, therefore, that the six working days should be kept distinct in character from that day which God has set apart for himself.
THIS being the view entertained by Adventists, it follows that to obey any Sunday law that forbids them to follow their secular vocations on Sunday, is at the same time to violate their consciences. And in requiring them to do this under penalty, the State of Tennessee abridges their liberty, and violates the Constitution of that State which declares that “no human authority can, in any case whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience.”