January 14, 1897
THE word from Washington, D. C., is that there are thousands of petitions being sent to Congress from all over the country, though far the most of them are from Pennsylvania, calling for the passage of the bill providing a Sunday law for the District of Columbia.
We should like to know what business, yea, what right, the people of the States have to meddle in the matter of laws for the District of Columbia. The people of the District of Columbia are the ones whose business and whose right this is.
Why do not those Pennsylvania people send over petitions to the legislatures of California and Idaho, calling upon them to enact Sunday laws for their respective States?—Simply because they have no right to. To do so would be to meddle in matters for the people of California and Idaho themselves to attend to.
It is precisely so with the District of Columbia. The people of Pennsylvania and other States have no more right to send such petitions to Congress—the legislature of the District of Columbia—than they would have to send them to the legislature of California. If they were to send such petitions to the legislature of California, they would, in short order, be given to understand that they had better attend to their own business and let the business of other people alone. And that is what the legislature of the District of Columbia ought to give them to understand.
They need to be told this: for it is the life principle of the Government of the States and of the United States. It is the principle of self-government—government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Each one is to govern himself and let other people alone. It is the principle of the Declaration of Independence—men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus, by the Declaration, all men are equal in the right to the pursuit of happiness. But these people engage in the pursuit of happiness for themselves and for everybody else besides.
THERE is presented before the people of this nation a most singular, a most mysterious, thing. We beg to be allowed to state the case, and then leave it with the reader for him to explain if he can.
Almost all the professed Christian elements in the whole country are combined in a determined effort to have Sunday recognized and made a fixture in national law, as the Sabbath.
They propose that all within the jurisdiction of the national power, shall be compelled by such law to recognize and observe the Sunday as the Sabbath.
Then, from this national example, they intend to carry the like thing into all the States and Territories of the Union, and thus by law require the recognition and observance of Sunday as the Sabbath throughout the whole nation.
The leaders in this movement, and the vast majority of the others engaged in it, cite the fourth commandment of the Decalogue as the source of their authority for requiring thus the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath.
The fourth commandment says, “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.”
This commandment has been officially called for an read from the Bible precisely in the words here printed in the presence of the United States Senate, as the  authority, and as containing the reasons, for requiring by national law, the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath.
This commandment says plainly, “The seventh day is the Sabbath.” And it is just as plain that this is the seventh day of the week. The seventh day to be observed is the seventh day in succession from the one which God observed: and that seventh day which God observed was the seventh day of the week; because the week was the only period of time then in existence of which there could possibly be any seventh day.
Therefore, as this commandment definitely cites the rest of God on the seventh day at the close of the six days’ creative process; and as there was no period of time but the week, of which it could possibly be the seventh day; it is absolutely impossible that this commandment to men to observe the seventh day can refer to any other than the seventh day of the week.
But Sunday is the first day of the week. Those who are urging it upon all people as the Sabbath know that it is the first day of the week. The bill now before Congress to enforce its observance in the District of Columbia, as well as the laws of the States, calls it the first day of the week.
Now the singular and mysterious thing to which we call attention is, that those who are calling for national law enforcing the observance of this first day of the week, cite the fourth commandment as the source of their authority for requiring its observance as the Sabbath, while that commandment plainly enjoins the observance of the seventh day of the week, and cannot possibly refer to any other day.
Another phase of this singular and mysterious thing, is that those people hold that the fourth commandment is the word of God. Yet they have so little regard for that word, that they hesitate not at all to substitute a day of their own choice for the day which, even upon their own claim, God has named. They totally ignore the day which the word of God has plainly designated, and boldly endeavor to make this same word of God enjoin the observance of a day to which it cannot possibly apply.
How much regard, then, have those people for the authority of that word as the word of God? How much regard have they for the authority of God, which they themselves say is the substance and life of that word as the word of God? Do they really believe that when the Lord spoke His law He had sufficient clearness of mind to know what He wanted to say; and sufficient ability of expression to say what He meant? If they do really believe this, then will they say that He intentionally spoke so ambiguously when He said the seventh day is the Sabbath, that nobody ever caught the correct idea until two hundred years ago when the Puritans discovered that when the Lord said the seventh day is the Sabbath He meant that the first day is the Sabbath? “To whom, then, will ye liken me, saith the Lord.”
If the people of the District of Columbia, or of the States, should treat the laws which these people frame enjoining the observance of the first day of the week, as they themselves treat the law which God has spoken enjoining the observance of the seventh day of the week, what would those people themselves say to that? Everybody knows that such a thing would not be accepted for one moment. It would be denounced as an assertion of self-opinion, and disrespectful to the authority of the Government that is the life of the law.
Is it not then a singular and mysterious thing, that people will claim that a certain word is the word of God, and at the same time treat it as they would not allow for a moment that the word of men should be treated? Shall the words of men be considered as of more force and value than the word of God? “Shall mortal man be more just than God?”
God is the God of judgment. Just and right is He. He will bring every work into judgment with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil: and it will “be judged by the law.” And when He does rise up to judgment, will He regard lightly this light regard for His law? In that day that law will be interpreted by the Judge: not by self-opinionated men.
Now in view of the fact that the people who are endeavoring to force upon all the nation the observance of the first day of the week as the Sabbath, cite as the authority for it the law which enjoins the observance only of the seventh day of the week, while at the same time they hold that law to be the law of God, and that there is to be a judgment of God at which every man shall give account of himself to God and “be judged by the law,” is it not a most singular and most mysterious thing that they will act as they do in the matter of the word and the authority of God?