A LETTER from Ticonderoga, N. Y., dated June 24, takes exception to a recent utterance in the SENTINEL, as follows:—
“Dear Sir: In the SENTINEL of this date and under the heading ‘Compulsory, Yet Free!’ you say that the divine command of Sabbath observance is not compulsory; at least you say that we are granted liberty in the matter by the Lord. Now I would like very much to have you show by the Bible where we are granted this liberty.
“The Sabbath observance is a divine command and not a divine permission.
“You might as well say that man has his liberty in regard to any of the commandments.
“WM. H. BROWNE.”
We reply that every person is at liberty to disregard the fourth commandment and every other precept of the Decalogue, just as he is at liberty to disregard the laws of health, which are no less truly God’s laws. In the end, of course, if he turns not from his disobedience, the consequence will be death; but he has perfect liberty meanwhile to obey or disobey, just as he may choose. And this is just as God has ordained that it should be.
“Choose ye this day,” says the Scripture,—“Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” “To-day, if ye will heart His voice, harden not your hearts.” “Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.” In every word and by every act, Jesus Christ invited sinners to turn from their sins and find life in him: but he never sought to compel anybody. And in his life as the man of Nazareth Jesus was a perfect revelation of his Father. He again and again expressly stated that he did nothing of himself, but that his Father who dwelt in him, did that which was manifested in his life. “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.” Every invitation which Christ uttered, was from his Father. The Father would no more compel men to do anything, than would Christ.
And the reason of this is plain. “God is love,” and only love satisfies love. A forced service could not be acceptable to God; it is not even acceptable to one like ourselves. No father who was worthy the name would be satisfied to know that his children obeyed him because they were forced to do so. We recognize the service of love as the noblest, highest and best service; and can God be satisfied with anything short of the best? Will we dare offer Him anything but the best? Will we offer Him forced obedience, in place of the obedience of love?
Such a thing would be but a mockery in the sight of God, if not in our own sight. The whole purpose of God, as embraced in the plan of salvation, is to reveal Himself to mankind so that man shall be drawn and bound to Him by the cords of love. And therefore it is absolutely necessary that every one should be given perfect liberty to choose whether he will serve God or not. For the service must be of love to be acceptable, and love cannot be anything else than free choice.
And therefore any law of man which presumes to compel men to keep God’s commandments, is anti-Christian,—contrary to the gospel and against every interest of God and man. This is the real character of every human sabbath law.
God sets before all men life and death. The ten commandments are the way of life, and God wants every man to walk in that way. But He cannot compel any one to keep them; for only through love can they be kept at all. And love is always an expression of free will.