June 25, 1891
AT a funeral in Millbank, South Dakota, April 26 last, there was distributed in the pews of the church in which the funeral was held a number of copies of Woman’s Christian Temperance Union leaflet No. 31, Sabbath Observance Department. A friend who was at the funeral sent us one of the leaflets. It is entitled, “Seventh Day Question Box, as Answered from the Lecture Platform by Mrs. J. C. Bateham.” It is composed of eight questions, to which answers are given by Mrs. Bateham, and which on account of the cause which they represent are worth laying before the readers of THE SENTINEL. The first question and answer read as follows:—
Is it right to legislate on religious subjects?
Answer. That depends upon what are called religious subjects. In the wonderful arch of law on which all other laws are based, and which we call the ten commandments, the keystone—dropped there by God’s own hand—is the fourth commandment. It connects on the one side with our duty toward God, and on the other with our duties toward man. God speaks of this law as the two tables of the testimony. Now if we count the words and put half on the first table and half on the second, we find we have divided the fourth commandment and put the first part, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” on the first table where it belongs, as containing our duty to God. This is the basis of our Christian Sabbath. On the second table we have put the rest of the command, all of which pertains to our duty to man, and which is the basis of our civil Sabbath. No one asks Sabbath legislation in order that the day may be kept holy; that lies between God, and the conscience. With reference to the second table, we legislate against murder, theft, adultery, and bearing false witness; why not also to protect the rest day of the fourth commandment? If one is religious legislation so are they all.
So it seems from this that whether a thing is religious or not depends altogether upon what you call it. If you call it religious, then it is such, and if you call it something else, then it is not religious. This in fact is the rule which is followed by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the other organizations that are working for Sunday laws. Every law that they propose is framed in religious phrases and proposes to enforce the religious observance of the day, and yet they all call them civil laws. They call it a civil Sabbath and the observance which they intend to enforce they call the civil observance of the day; and of course that is what it is, because they call it that; and the religious words, phrases, and intent, of the proposed laws are all taken away by simply calling the thing civil. Then, on the other hand having thus committed themselves to civil and political things; when they are charged with being political organizations and with working for political power, advantage, and control, they assume an air of virtuous indignation and declare that they are religious organizations having nothing at all to do with politics, and that their work is altogether religious work. And then of course it is all religious because they call it that. If Jeremiah had only known of this rule, he need never have inquired, “Can the leopard change his spots?” He could have simply observed, The leopard can change his spots by calling them something else. In fact, whether he has any spots at all or not, depends altogether on what are called spots.
This is a very pretty theory that Mrs. Bateham has framed for the dividing of the commandment and having the first half relate to God and the second half to man. Let us test it and see how it will work. Here is the fourth commandment as God gave it:—
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is,  and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
She says, “Count the words and put the first half on the first table and the second half on the second, and we find the first part going on the first table contains our duties to God, and all the rest put on the second table pertains to our duties to man:” that the first part forms the basis for the religious Sabbath and the second half the basis for the civil Sabbath. Now there are ninety-four words in that fourth commandment. To divide these words equally the division must be made including the forty-seventh word. The forty-seventh word is “manservant.” All of the command, therefore, up to and including this word, according to Mrs. Bateham’s theory, belongs on the first table, as containing our duties to God; and all after that word belongs on the second table, as pertaining to our duty to man.
Now, by what rule is it that the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union will make the words, “nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant,” apply to our relationship to God, and make the words, “nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates,” pertain only to our duty to man? Besides, is our relationship toward our cattle our relationship to our fellow-man? Does man’s duty to his cattle pertain to his duty to man? And by what rule is it that the Union, by Mrs. Bateham, makes our relationship to son, daughter, and manservant pertain to God? and our relationship to maidservant, cattle, and stranger pertain to man? By what rule is it that these “devout and honorable women” (Acts 13:50.) make the words, “for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it”—by what rule is it that they make these words pertain to our duty to man? Just where is it in these words that our duty to man comes in? How much of our duty to man is involved in either the fact, or the statement of the fact that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is? or the fact that he rested the seventh day? or that be blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it? And if these words pertain to our duty to man, why is it that the words in the first part of the commandment, “six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God in it thou shalt not do any work,” do not pertain likewise to man? In short if those last words in the commandment pertain to our duty to man, then why is it that all the words in the commandment do not likewise pertain to man? Why is it then that the whole of the fourth commandment does not pertain to man just as fully as that part which Mrs. Bateham has assigned to that place? This is just the logic of the whole “civil” Sunday-law movement. It absolutely denies divine character and basis of the Sabbath and reduces it wholly to the human. And this is only to destroy the Sabbath just as far as this view of it is accepted.
The ten commandments are spoken of in the original Scriptures as the “ten words.” Each word is the expression of a distinct thought. And the thought expressed in the fourth of the ten words pertains as wholly and as certainly to our duty to God as any of the three which precede it. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt not ado any work.” Why? Because God rested the seventh day; in it he did no work. Why keep it holy? Because “the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.” Why? “Because in six day the Lord made heaven and earth.” It is the Lord alone who is held in view in both the first part aid the last part of this commandment. The first part states the facts, and the last part simply states the reason for observing and commemorating the facts.
This word does indeed speak to man of his son, his daughter, his manservant, his maidservant, etc., not because it contemplates his duty to man, but because it contemplates his duty to God; contemplates man as the head of the family, and as such responsible to God for the conduct on the Sabbath day, of those under the jurisdiction which God bestowed upon man in his headship of the family. So that as a matter of fact, as a matter of truth, not only according to the fourth commandment it-self as God spoke it and wrote it, but according to all the other Scriptures upon the question, the fourth commandment pertains wholly to man’s duty to God as the Creator of the heavens and the earth the sea and all that in them is.
It may be indeed that Mrs. Bateham means not the counting and dividing of the words of, the fourth commandment alone, but of the whole law, and that thus the division will be made so as to leave on the first table the words, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” while the the [sic.] rest of that commandment will go upon the second table; but this is not true in the way she states it. In her statement it is implied that if the words be counted and evenly divided, only those words of the fourth commandment which say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” will be left upon the first table. But this is not true in any sense. To count the words of the whole law and divide them evenly, the dividing line comes in the middle of the word “is,” in the expression, “the seventh day is the Sabbath,” leaving the “i” on the first table and the “s” on the second table.” In fact there is no possible way in which either the commandment alone or the ten commandments as a whole can be counted and divided so as to leave on the first table only those words of the fourth commandment which Mrs. Bateham implied will be left there by the division which she has suggested. In fact any attempt to divide either the law as a whole, or the fourth commandment alone, as suggested by Mrs. Bateham and published by the Union, only turns the holy law of God into Woman’s Christian Temperance Union nonsense.
The truth is, and everybody who will look can see it, that this whole scheme is of the same piece with all the the [sic.] Sunday-law trickery from beginning to end; and that it is a fraud. More than this, it can readily be seen by any one who will look, that in this thing the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, by the hand of Mrs. Bateham, has not hesitated to profanely put its officious fingers to that holy document which God deigned to write with his own finger for the guidance of men; and has presumed to divide, separate and dissect, the fourth of God’s ten words, and authoritatively assign to God his portion and to man his portion, according to her arbitrary will. After this what is it that may ever be expected to escape the obtrusive meddling of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, and especially the Sabbath Observance Department of that Union, when the words which God spoke with his own voice which shook the earth, and wrote with his own finger upon tables of enduring stone, cannot be suffered longer to remain as he spoke them and as he wrote them, but must be divided up and distributed about at their officious and arbitrary will? And when this is done in order to justify their grasping for power by which they may enforce upon all, their arbitrary views of what pertains to God and man, then what further place is there left for either God or man?
Much has been said, none too much, of the presumptuous arrogance of the Papacy in its tampering with the law of God by which it exalted itself above God; but such action of the Papacy differs not one iota in principle from this piece of tampering with the same law by the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. The only difference between this action and that of the Papacy is in degree, for there is no difference in kind.
The rest of Mrs. Bateham’s answer is just as far from the truth, in the sense in which she means it, as this part which we have noticed. It is true that we legislate against murder, theft, adultery, and bearing false witness; but what she means is that this legislation is with respect to the commandments of God, and that it for-bids these things as violations of the commandments: but such is not the case in any sense. According to the commandment, to hate is murder, to covet is to steal, to think impurely is to commit adultery. Any government, therefore, that should attempt to legislate upon these  commandments or to punish men for their violation of them, would have to punish as a murderer the man who hates another, to punish as a thief the man who covets, and as an adulterer the man who thinks impurely. In short the civil power does not legislate with reference to these commandments, nor does it punish men for doing these things because they have violated the commandments of God. Such crimes and such penalties have no respect whatever to the commandments of God. From time immemorial governments that knew nothing about God have legislated with respect to these things and have punished these crimes. The Inquisition is the only logical outcome of any attempt to legislate upon or punish these things as violations of the commandments of God; because in order to such a punishment it is essential that cognizance be taken of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And this is the logic of the whole Woman’s Christian Temperance Union—National Reform-Sunday-law movement. And so, according to the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union scheme, her closing words are true. “If one is religious legislation, so are they all;” and as it is a fact that one is religious legislation, it is likewise a fact that if these people could have the power to legislate upon all, all would be religious legislation. And this is but to express the truth that their whole scheme is religious whether they call it so or not. The nature of the thing does not depend upon what it is called, but upon what it is; and religious legislation from beginning to end is just what it is.
A. T. J.