A FAVORITE piece of advice to those who will not keep the Sabbath, to those who do keep it, is that they “obey the law of the land” and “the powers that be” and keep Sunday. This advice is of such a character, that really deserves to be analyzed.
Invariably this advice is given by those who not only believe in keeping Sunday themselves, but also in compelling all others to keep it. And their course in advising Sabbath keepers to keep Sunday only because the law says so, betrays themselves as occupying one of two positions, one of which is most discreditable to themselves, and the other is utterly discreditable to Sunday as worthy of observance at all.
In advising Sabbath-keepers to keep Sunday because the law requires it, they admit that they themselves would keep the Sabbath and not Sunday if only the law of the land required it.
If they are honest in that, then they admit that Sunday has no sacredness at all and has no claims whatever upon the conscience: that its only claim to recognition is merely human, and that the obligation to observe it is only in the merely human statute, just as the catching of oysters or the killing of game is prohibited except within certain dates.
But there is not one of those persons who believes that concerning the Sunday. Every soul of them believes that there is some religious obligation that requires the observance of Sunday: that in some way there is involved in it a duty toward God.
Then as they believe that in some way, however that way may be, there is some religious obligation, some duty toward God, involved in the observance of Sunday, when they advise Sabbath-keepers to keep Sunday “because the law requires it,” and thus admit that if the law required the observance of the Sabbath instead of Sunday they would keep the Sabbath, they know that their whole proposition is mere pretense. They know that they would not observe the Sabbath however much the law my require it; and that if the law did require it they would denounce it as oppressive, persecuting, and a violation of the rights of conscience. And in so doing they would be in the right, and they know that they would be in the right. And by that, they know that their advice to Sabbath keepers to keep Sunday because the law requires it, is oppressive, persecuting, and violative of the rights of conscience.
Moreover they know that such advice is contrary to the whole Bible which they profess to believe, and which they even quote to sustain their pretense. They know that the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace, Daniel in the den of lions, the words of Christ and his disciples, and the course of his disciples themselves, are all a divine protest against that which they advise. They know also that the whole history of religious progress in the world, which they themselves profess to honor, is a positive repudiation of the proposition which they make.
What then is their proposition, their advice, in this, but a juggling with conscience—their own as well as well as that of the others,—the playing of the trick with the Scriptures, and a deceiving of their own selves?
And what for?—Simply that they may have their own way instead of God’s way. This is made certain by the fact that when God himself has rested a certain day and appointed that day as a day of rest, they will persistently refuse God’s example and his appointment as to that day, and rest another day. Is not the resting they oppose, for they themselves rest and compel other people to rest. It is not resting a certain day that they oppose, for they themselves rest a certain day and compel others to do so. It is simply resting on the day which God has chosen and appointed, that they oppose.
Sense, then, they themselves rest, and rest on a certain day, and rest the whole day, and count it so all-important that they must compel all others to do that same thing, and yet refuse to rest on the day which the Lord appointed for rest and on which he himself rested—shows conclusively that it is an arbitrary taking of their own will and way against the will and way of God; that, in the last analysis, is the real essence of Sunday observance.
A. T. J.