August 3, 1893
THE professed Protestant Church managers of the United States, knowing and confessing that there is no command of God for Sunday observance, and not being willing plainly to acknowledge the authority of the Catholic Church, which is the original authority that has commanded it, and yet desiring to make Sunday observance universal and a national institution in the United States as a duty toward God, were placed in an embarrassing dilemma. They were plainly in great danger of being obliged to go back to Rome.
THEY found by experience that the people of the United States are not inclined to accept, as the will of God, the bare statement of church authorities as unquestioningly as little birds take their food. Besides this, they found a small body of Christian people scattered all over the United States, who, they have said over and over, are exceedingly active and vigorous in telling the people everywhere, not only that Sunday is not the Sabbath, but that the seventh day is; not only that there is no command of God for observing the first day of the week, but pointing always to the plain command of God—“The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God”—for the observance of the seventh day of the week. These things only increased the dilemma.
WHAT should be done? What could be done? Well, as they knew there was no command of God to keep the first day of the week; and as it was not according to Protestant profession to practice religious observances for which there is no “Thus saith the Lord”; and above all, as it would not do for them to cite the authority of the Catholic Church as of obligation upon the people; to escape their predicament they did this: They took the commandment of God, which says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,” and interpreted it to mean “the first day is the Sabbath,” that thus they might have (?) a command of God for Sunday observance. Thus they hoped to find authority by which they could require Sunday observance by the people and so be saved from going back to Rome.
BUT lo! they found that this did not deliver them from their dilemma. Besides their forgetting that to presume to interpret the Word of God, is, in itself, to set up the claim of infallibility which leads straight back to Rome anyhow, they found that when they had set the example of interpreting the commandment of God to suit themselves, the people were not slow to follow the example in interpreting the interpretation to suit themselves. Thus their effort to escape proved doubly futile: first, in that their example in interpreting the commandment was followed to their detriment; and secondly, in that they had no more power to secure the recognition of their interpretation, than they had before to secure the observance of Sunday without the interpretation—no more power to secure the observance of Sunday after forcing it into the commandment of God where it does not belong, than they had before to secure the observance of Sunday as it is, in the commandment of Rome, where is does belong. Thus their effort to escape the dilemma only increased the difficulty.
WHAT next? Oh, they would have the national Government take up the question, and indorse their side of it as correct, and thus would get the power of the Government under their control with which to enforce upon the people their interpretation of the commandment of God, and so would effect their purpose to make Sunday observance a national thing as a duty toward God. And they have succeeded, so far as to get the Government to adopt their interpretation of the commandment. We have given the threatening resolution with which they flooded Congress by which they required Congress to do their bidding. We need not cite that again. But it is proper to print again the result, for the very important fact which is discloses.
THE official record is as follows:—
MR. QUAY.—On page 122, line 13, after the word “act,” I move to insert:—
“And that provision has been made by the proper authority for the closing of the Exposition on the Sabbath-day.”
The reasons for the amendment I will send to the desk to be read. The secretary will have the kindness to read from the Book of Law [this was the Bible—ED.] I send to the desk, the part enclosed in brackets.
THE VICE-PRESIDENT.—The part indicated will be read.
The secretary read as follows:—
“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.”—Congressional Record, July 10, 1892, p. 6614.
The discussion of this motion and amendment was opened by Senator Manderson, of Nebraska, to the following effect:—
The language of this amendment is, that the Exposition shall be closed on the “Sabbath-day.” I submit that if the senator from Pennsylvania desires that the Exposition shall be closed upon Sunday, this language will not necessarily meet this idea….
The word “Sabbath-day” simply means that it is a rest day, and it may be Saturday or Sunday, and it would be subject to the discretion of those who will manage this Exposition, whether they should close the Exposition on the last day of the week, in conformity with that observance which is made by the Israelites and the Seventh-day Baptists, or should close it on the first day of the week, generally known as the Christian Sabbath. It certainly seems to me that this amendment should be adopted by the senator from Pennsylvania, and, if he proposes to close this Exposition, that it should be closed on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday….
Therefore I offer an amendment to the amendment, which I hope may be accepted by the senator from Pennsylvania, to strike out the words “Exposition on the Sabbath-day,” and insert “mechanical portion of the Exposition on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.”—Id., July 12, p. 6694.
This amendment to Senator Quay’s amendment, as far as it inserted “the first day of the week commonly called Sunday,” in place of “the Sabbath day,” was adopted, and all further proceeding was conducted upon no other basis than that “the first day of the week commonly called Sunday” is the Sabbath, and that as such its observance is due to God. 
FROM this official record, it is as plain as anything can be, that the Congress of the United States (for the House not only adopted this, but on its own part, on a direct issue by a vote of one hundred and thirty-one to thirty-six decided that the seventh day is not the Sabbath, after deciding that Sunday is), in its official capacity, did adopt the interpretation which the churches had made, and did officially and by legislative action put that interpretation upon the commandment of God. Congress did define what the word “Sabbath-day” “means”; and that it “may be” one day or another, “Saturday or Sunday”; and did decide which day it should be, namely, “the first day of the week commonly called Sunday.” This is as clearly an interpretation of the Bible as was ever made on earth.
AND, like all other human interpretations of the Scriptures, it is wrong. As witness this Word: “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Salome had bought sweet spices that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.”—Mark 16:1, 2. Thus the plain Word of God says that “the Sabbath was past” before the first day of the week came at all—yes, before even the “very early” part of it came. But lo! the Congress of the United States officially decides that the Sabbath is the first day of the week. Now, when the Word of God plainly says that the Sabbath is past before the first day of the week comes, and yet Congress says that the first day of the week is the Sabbath, which is right?
NOR is the Word of God indefinite as to what this distinction refers. Here is the Word as to that: “That day [the day of the crucifixion] was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath-day according to the commandment. Now, upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared and certain others with them.”—Luke 23:54-56; 24:1. Here it is plainly shown that the Sabbath day, according to the commandment, and the first day of the week, are two separate and distinct days entirely. And yet Congress gravely defines that “the Sabbath-day” “may be one or the other”! The Word of God plainly says that the Sabbath-day, according to the commandment, is past before the first day of the week comes at all. And yet Congress declares that the first day of the week is itself the Sabbath! Which is right? Is the Lord able to say what he means? or is it essential that his commandments shall be put through a course of congressional procedure and interpretation in order that his meaning shall reach the people of the United States? And further, are not the people of the United States capable of finding out for themselves what the meaning of the Word of God is? or is it so, that it is necessary that Congress should be put between the people and God so as to insure to them the people and God so as to insure to them the true and divine meaning of His Word?
WHETHER these questions be answered one way or the other, it is certain that this is precisely the attitude which has been assumed by the Congress of the United States. Whatever men may believe, or whatever men may say, as to the right or the wrong of this question, there is no denying the fact that Congress has taken it upon itself to interpret the Scripture for the people of the United States. This is a fact. It has been done. Then where is the difference between this assumption and that of the other Pope? The Roman Pope assumes the prerogative of interpreting the Scripture for the people of the whole world. Congress has assumed the prerogative of interpreting the Scripture for the people of the Untied States. Where is the difference in these claims—except perhaps in this, that whereas the claim of the Roman Pope embraces the whole world, the claim of this congressional Pope embraces only the United States. And yet there is hardly room for this distinction; because this interpretation by Congress was intended to include, and to be of force upon, all the nations that took part in the World’s Fair, and these were expected to be all the nations of the world. So that, practically, the two claims are so nearly alike, that it is only another illustration of the truth that there is no possibility of measuring degrees in the respective claims of rival Popes. There are no degrees in infallibility anyhow. That the Fair is not closed on Sunday out of respect to this interpretation, does not alter the fact that Congress has interpreted the commandment of God. Besides this, the decision that assured the opening of the Fair on Sunday distinctly excluded all consideration of the question on constitutional grounds.
AND to escape this claim and its direct consequence, was precisely the purpose which our fathers had in view when they forbade the Government to have anything to do with questions of religion or religious observances. At the very first step for religious freedom after the Declaration of Independence, which was the first step toward the result fixed in the national Constitution forbidding interference with religion, there was made this weighty statement: “It is impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects professing the Christian faith without erecting a claim to infallibility which would lead us back to the Church of Rome.” In this Sunday interpretation Congress did distinctly decide a question of preference between sects professing the Christian faith. Two different sects professing the Christian faith claim that “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.” A greater number of sects professing the Christian faith claim that “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday, is the Sabbath.” And both base their claims upon the fourth commandment. Now Congress has definitely decided the question of preference in favor of the latter, and has declared that “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” is the Sabbath of that commandment. Thus, Congress has done the very thing which our fathers forbade it to do that the people of this Nation might not be led back to Rome. Congress has done the thing which the founders of our Government declared it “impossible” to do, without doing that which would lead “back to the Church of Rome.”
HOW certainly this result follows, can be seen at a glance: These professed Protestant churches had enough “influence” upon Congress to secure the decision of this question in their favor. And as soon as it was done they gladly and loudly proclaimed that “this settles the Sabbath question.” Now, all questions between Catholics and these Protestants even, are not entirely settled. One of these, for instance, is on this very question of Sunday observance—not, indeed, whether it shall be observed, but how it shall be observed. Let this or any other question be disputed between them, and all the Catholic Church has now to do is to bring enough “influence” to bear upon Congress to get the question decided in her favor—and there you have it! the whole Nation is then delivered bodily over into subjection to Rome. And no Protestant who has had anything to do with this Sunday-law movement can ever say a word. For if the action of Congress settles a religious question when it is decided in their favor, they can never deny that such action as certainly settles a religious question when it is decided in favor of the Catholic Church. If they accept such a decision when it suits them, they must likewise accept such a decision when it suits the Catholics. And this other thing will as certainly comes, as this has already come. And thus the Government and people of the United States will have been delivered into the hands of Rome by this blind procedure of apostate Protestantism. That which our fathers feared, and which they supposed they had forever prevented, will have come. And the first and great decisive step has been taken, in this successful demand of the churches of the United States that Congress should interpret the Scripture, decide a religious dispute, and “settle” a religious question.
THAT it may be seen how well our fathers understood this, we give just three sentences from the documents and times of ‘76:—
It is impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects that profess the Christian faith, without erecting a claim to infallibility which would lead us back to the Church of Rome.
The impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greater part of the world and through all times.
To judge for ourselves, and to engage in the exercise of religion agreeably to the dictates of our own consciences, is an unalienable right, which, upon the principles on which the gospel was first propagated, and the Reformation from Popery carried on, can never be transferred to another.
Thus spoke Madison, Jefferson and their noble fellow-workers, at the time of the establishing of the United States Government. Upon these principles was the national Government founded. How entirely these divine principles have been forgotten both by American legislators and Protestant ecclesiastics, and how complete a revolution from these principles has been wrought, the facts presented in these notes in some measure show, and soon coming developments will fully demonstrate.
BUT even as the matter now stands,  every person in the United States is shut up to one of two things; either to assent to, or decidedly protest against, the right of Congress to interpret the Bible on this Sabbath question or any other. To assent to it, is to confess the infallibility of Congress and thus to put Congress in the place of God. To reject it, and protest against it, is to subject ourselves to the charge of “treason,” “anarchy,” “atheism,” etc., etc., but at the same time is to maintain the fundamental principles of the Government of the United States, the fundamental principles of the Reformation in its purity, the divine principles of Christianity itself as announced by the Lord Jesus, and the divine right of man to freedom before God. The historian of the Reformation has well said: “The establishment of the bible, had terminated only in slavishly subjecting man to man in what should be most unfettered—conscience and faith.”—D’Aubigne, book XIII, chap. VI. Revolt from this thing before, was the emancipation of mankind. This is the only course now to take to be free. They would not serve the beast. Will you now worship this wicked image of the beast? Everybody in the United States is now shut up to this decision. Which way do you decide?
A. T. J.