“Editorial” The American Sentinel 8, 1, pp. 1-3.

January 5, 1893

TO-DAY the AMERICAN SENTINEL enters upon the eighth year of its publication. Each year of the seven, now in the past, has been one of success and of the greatest encouragement; but the year that is just past has been more so than perhaps all the others put together. And the year to come we expect to be no less full of success and encouragement than the one just gone; indeed it promises to be even more eventful.

THE SENTINEL was established to expose the evil designs and mischievous workings of the National Reform movement, and to warn against the dangers to Government and people, to State and Church, which lay wrapped up therein. True, from the first the people would not believe what we said in this respect; but we never cared for that: what we are here for is to set forth what we know to be the truth on this subject. Whether men will believe it or not is their affair.

WE have declared from the beginning that the combined churches would take possession of the Government to use it for their own purposes; and that the chief purpose for which they would use the Government would be to compel the observance of Sunday, at the dictation of the arbitrary will of the Church, in making void the law of God and establishing the living image of the Papacy. Let us now survey the field of the SENTINEL’S notice and see where we stand to-day; bearing in mind at the same time the fact that the people who publish the SENTINEL have known, and have published, more than forty years that that which has come would come.

IT would seem that all people in the United States would be glad of the opportunity to rejoice evermore that by its supreme law this Nation is pledged to religious freedom. It would seem that everybody ought to be glad of the opportunity to herald to all the world the fame of a nation under whose protection all people might dwell wholly unmolested in the full enjoyment of religious rights, and the liberty to worship or not to worship according to the dictates of their own consciences.

SUCH, however, is not the case. As religious bigotry knows no such thing as enlightenment or progress; as ecclesiastical ambition never can be content without the power to persecute; so, from the beginning, complaint has been made against the character of the United States Constitution as it respects religion, and constant effort has been made to weaken its influence, undermine its authority, and subvert its precepts.

From the very beginning, this feature of the Constitution has been denounced as foolish, atheistical, the strictly national sin, the cause of epidemics, etc., particularly by ministers of such religion as had not sufficient power of truth to support itself, and doctors of a divinity so weak and sickly that it could not protect itself, much less protect and bless its worshippers, or anybody else.

OCTOBER 27, 1789, “The First Presbytery Eastward in Massachusetts and Hew Hampshire,” sent to President Washington an address in which they complained because there was no “explicit acknowledgment of the only true God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent, inserted somewhere in the Magna Charta of our country.” In 1803, Samuel B. Rylie, D. D., of the University of Pennsylvania, preached a sermon in which he inquired: “Did not the framers of this instrument … in this resemble the fool mentioned in Psalm 14:1, 3, who said in his heart, ‘There is no God?’”

IN 1812, President Dwight, of Yale College, preached a sermon in the college chapel, in which he lamented the failure of the Constitution to recognize a god, and declared that “we commenced our national existence, under the present system, without God.” The next year he recurred to it the saying that “the grossest nations and individuals, in their public acts and in their declarations, manifestoes, proclamations, etc., always recognize the superintendency of a Supreme Being. Even Napoleon did it.” Of course Napoleon did it. It is such characters as he that are most likely to do it; and then, having covered himself with the hypocritical panoply, to ruin kingdoms, desolate nations, and violate every precept of morality and every principle of humanity. Yes, Napoleon did it; and so did Charlemange before him, and Clovis, and Justinian, and Theodosius, and Constantine, to say nothing of hundreds of the popes. But the fathers of this Republic were not such as any of these, the noblest pledge of which is the character of the Constitution as it respects religion; for all of which every Christian can most reverently thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

IN 1819, on a thanksgiving day appointed by the governor of Pennsylvania, Dr. Duffield preached a sermon at Carlisle, in which he declared the Constitution “entirely atheistical.” Other such testimonies as the foregoing might be given to a wearisome extent, but with one more these must suffice. In 1859, Prof. J. H. McIlvane, D. D., of the College of New Jersey—Princeton College—published an article in the Princeton Review for October, in which he really lamented that “the practical effect” of the Constitution as it is, with respect to religion, “is the neutrality of the Government with respect to all religion;” and seemed to be much grieved “that no possible governmental influence can be constitutionally exerted for or against any form of religious belief.” So far, however, all these criticisms and denunciations had been merely individual. Though they were strongly seconded and promoted by the legislative, judicial and executive authorities in almost all the States, there was as yet no organized attack upon the Federal Constitution, or regular war upon its principles.

IN 1863, however, such an organization was effected and such a war was begun. In February of that year, “a convention for prayer and Christian conference” was [2] held in Xenia, Ohio, to consider in particular the state of the country. The convention met February 3, and on the 4th, Mr. John Alexander, then of Xenia, now of Philadelphia, presented for the consideration of the convention, a paper in which he bewailed the “human frailty and ingratitude” of the makers of the Constitution, and deplored the national sin of which they and all their posterity were guilty, because they had well-nigh legislated God out of the Government; and closed by declaring that “the most important step to be taken,” was “to amend the Constitution so as to acknowledge God and the authority of his law,” and proposing the following “as an outline of what seemed to be needed”:—

WE, THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, [recognizing the being and attributes of Almighty God, the divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, the law of God as the paramount rule, and Jesus, the Messiah, the Saviour and Lord of all,] in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity [sic.], provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The convention approved the spirit and design of the paper, and ordered its publication. The following July 4, “a few delegates” met in Pittsburg, issued an address to the country, and formed a plan for the calling of a national convention, which met in Allegheny, January 27, 1864. It is reported as “an earnest, prayerful, and most encouraging meeting.” It adopted a series of resolutions, and


which latter is worth quoting, as showing the rapid growth of their designs upon the national Constitution. It runs as follows:

To the Honorable, the Senate and House of Representatives, in Congress assembled:

We, citizens of the United States, respectfully ask your Honorable bodies to adopt measures for amending the Constitution of the United States, [humbly acknowledging Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the ruler among the nations, and his revealed will as the supreme law of the land, in order to constitute a Christian government], and in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, [and secure the inalienable rights, and the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to ourselves, our posterity, and all the people,] do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

“And further: that such changes with respect to the oath of office, slavery, and all other matters, should be introduced into the body of the Constitution, as may be necessary to give effect to these amendments in the preamble. And we, your humble petitioners, will ever pray,” etc.

Resolved, That a special committee be appointed to carry the memorial to Washington, lay it before the President, and endeavor to get a special message to Congress on the subject, and to lay said message before Congress.

At this same meeting also


first called “The National Association to Secure the Religious Amendment of the Constitution of the United States,” with John Alexander as president, and Zadok Street, a Quaker, as vice-president. The name of the association was afterwards shortened to what it has been ever since—“The National Reform Association.” And such is the origin, organization, and aim of this regular war upon the Constitution and principles of our Government. From the first, churches and colleges throughout the land have been open to the dissemination of the nefarious doctrines of the association which have thus rapidly permeated society. The association worked alone, though steadily gaining influence and power, until 1885, when it secured the alliance of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Through this alliance it readily secured the further alliance, in 1887, of the National Prohibition Party. In 1888, it secured the alliance of the American Sabbath Union; and through this, in 1889, it secured that which it had been earnestly seeking ever since 1881,—an alliance with the Catholic Church.

Possessing thus the weight and influence of almost all the religious and religio-political elements of the country, the association, in 1888,


Through Senator Henry W. Blair, a resolution was introduced in Congress to amend the Constitution with a recognition of Christianity as the national religion. With this also and as a consequence of it, there was also introduced by Senator Blair, his bill establishing the observance of Sunday as the Sabbath and the Lord’s day. While Senator Blair remained in Congress, these propositions were diligently, and even dishonestly, urged upon the Government. Other bills to the same purpose as the Blair Sunday bill were also urged upon Congress in the same way. When Senator Blair was left out, his proposed amendment went with him; but the National Reform combination went on without it to secure their main object—Sunday observance by national law—though they knew it to be unconstitutional, as the Constitution stands.

Thus stood the association and its legislative efforts at the beginning of 1892. And before the year was two-thirds gone, they had


only not altogether in just the way they asked it. They had asked that this be made “a Christian Nation.” February, 29, 1892, the Supreme Court of the United States officially and unanimously declared that “this is a Christian Nation,” and justified all the evil accompaniments of that mischievous phrase, even to the divinity of Christ, [20] the inspiration of the Scriptures, Sunday laws and all. Of this a long-time representative National Reformer, in the Christian Statesman, November 19, 1892, breaks forth as follows:—



[Department edited by Rev. Wm. Weir, Washington, Pa., District Secretary of the National Reform Association.]

“This is a Christian Nation.” That means Christian Government, Christian laws, Christian institutions, Christian practices, Christian citizenship. And this is not an outburst of popular passion or prejudice. Christ did not lay his guiding hand there, but upon the calm, dispassionate, supreme, judicial tribunal of our Government. It is the weightiest, the noblest, the most tremendously far-reaching in its consequences of all the utterances of that sovereign tribunal. And that utterance is for Christianity, for Christ. “A Christian Nation!” Then this Nation is Christ’s nation, for nothing can be Christian that does not belong to him. Then his word is its sovereign law. Then the nation if Christ’s servant. Then it ought to, and must, confess, love, and obey Christ. All that the National Reform Association seeks, all that this department of Christian politics works for, is to be found in the development of that royal truth. “This is a Christian Nation.” It is the hand of the second of our three great departments of national government throwing open a door of our national house, one that leads straight to the throne of Christ.

Was there ever a Thanksgiving day before, that called us to bless our God for such marvelous advances of our Government and citizenship toward Christ?

“O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory. Sing unto the Lord with the harp, with the harp and the voice of a psalm.”


The National Reformers had declared that this movement was an effort to change that feature of our fundamental law which declares that “governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” and establish the divine will as the authority in government with themselves the interpreters of that will. This Sunday legislation by Congress the National Reform combination secured, under threats such as this:—

Resolved, that we do hereby pledge ourselves and each other, that we will from this time henceforth, refuse to vote for, or support for any office or position of trust, any member of Congress, either senator or representative, who shall vote for any further aid for the World’s Fair, except on conditions named in these resolutions.


To these threats Congress yielded, and submitted to the dictation and demand which was thus made; and openly confessed that it did so because of the alternative conveyed in the threats. Now it is an undeniable truth, and but the statement of a principle, that, “To permit a church,—any church—to dictate, before hand, what laws should or should not be passed, would be to deprive the people of all the authority they have retained in their own hands, and to make the church the governing power instead of the people.” This is precisely what the combined church power of the National Reformers, did under threats; and Congress yielded to the threats and surrendered to the dictation. It follows, therefore, inevitably, that the National Reformers have thus deprived the people of all the authority which the people had retained in their own hands, and have made themselves the governing power instead of the people. Their effort has succeeded. They have “changed that feature of our fundamental law, which declares that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

They have also established the divine will as the authority in government, with themselves as the interpreters of that will, and the governmental power as the executive of their interpretation. They had long demanded that “The Government” should “simply set up the moral law and recognize God’s authority behind it, and lay its hand on any religion that does not conform to it.” In the matter of


on Sunday, in Congressional Record, July 10, 1892, page 6614, the National Reformers and Congress made the following record:—

MR. QUAY.—On pages 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 [3] kindness to read from the Book of Law 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.”

The foregoing is all that was said or done in relation to the question that day. The next legislative day, however, the question was taken up and discussed. The debate was opened by Senator Manderson of Nebraska. And in the Record of July 12, pages 6695, 6695, 6701, we read as follows:—

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 that idea. The Sabbath is not Sunday….

The words “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.” …

MR. QUAY.—I will accept the modication [sic.] so far as it changes the phraseology of the amendment proposed by me in regard to designating the day of the week on which the Exposition shall be closed.

THE VICE-PRESIDENT.—The senator from Pennsylvania accepts the modification in part, but not in whole….

MR. HARRIS.—Let the amendment of the senator from Pennsylvania, as modified, be reported.

THE VICE-PRESIDENT.—It will be again reported.

THE CHIEF CLERK.—On page 122, line 13, after the word “act” it is proposed to amend the amendment of the committee by inserting:

“And that provision has been made by the proper authority for the closing of the Exposition on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.”

This amendment was afterward further amended by the insertion of the proviso that the managers of the Exposition should sign an agreement to close the Fair on Sunday before they could receive any of the appropriation; but this which we have given is the material point.

All of this the House confirmed in its vote accepting the Senate amendments. Besides this, the House had already, on its own part, by a vote of 131 to 36, decided that Sunday is the “Christian Sabbath;” and by a vote of 149 to 11 that the seventh day is not the Sabbath. And thus did the Congress of the United States, at the dictate of the churches, not only take sides in a religious controversy and discuss and decide a religious question, but put itself in the place and assumed to itself the prerogative of authoritative interpreter of the divine law. For, from the official record of the proceedings there appears these plain facts:

1. The divine law was officially and in its very words, adopted as containing the “reasons” and forming the basis of the legislation. In other words, the legislation proposed only to enforce the divine law as quoted from the Book.

2. Yet those to whom the legislation was directed and who were expected to execute its provisions were not allowed to read and construe the divine law for themselves; and this for the very reason that there was a possibility that they might take the divine word as it reads and as it was actually quoted in the official proceedings, and shut the Exposition on the day plainly specified in the divine word which was cited as the basis and authority for the action taken.

3. Therefore, to preclude any such possibility, Congress assumed the prerogative of official and authoritative interpreter of the divine law, and declared that “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” is the Sabbath of the fourth commandment of the divine law—that “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” is the meaning of the word of the Lord which says: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.”

By this legislation, at the dictation of the churches, Congress has distinctly and definitely put itself and the Government of the United States into the place where it has established, and proposes to enforce, the observance of an institution as sacred, and as due to the Lord, which not only the Lord has neither established nor required, but which is directly contrary to the plain word of the Lord upon the subject of this very institution and its observance as due to the Lord. And in doing this Congress has also assumed to itself the prerogative of authoritative interpreter of the Scriptures for the people of the land, and for all who come into the land; and puts itself in the place of God by authoritatively deciding that an observance established and required by the State, and which it calls the Lord’s, is the Lord’s indeed, although the Lord plainly declares the contrary.

But Congress did all this only at the dictation, under threats, of the combined churches, as led and managed by the National Reformers. The interpretation which Congress put upon the law of God is simply the interpretation which these church managers had put upon it long before. Congress was made simply the mouth-piece of the church managers, in putting into national law the construction which they had long ago determined should thus be put upon the moral law—this, too, a construction which makes void that law, and establishes the perverse will of man as of divine authority instead of the will of God as spoken, and written, and interpreted by the Lord himself.

In view of these things, no man can deny that so far as the Government is concerned, the National Reformers have secured just what they demanded, and so far have accomplished precisely what they aimed at. All that remains is for them to lay the governmental “hand on any religion that does not conform” to this which they have set up. And in the doing of it, they have caused this Nation to assume the place and the prerogatives of the governments of the Middle Ages, in enforcing the dogmas and definitions of the theologians, and executing the arbitrary and despotic will of the Church. And in so doing, they have set up the living likeness of the Papacy, the living image of the beast. Revelation 13:11-15.

A. T. J.

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