GOD’S law fixes the penalty for Sabbath desecration, and what right has any man or any government to change that penalty? “Sin is the transgression of the law”; and “the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” Thus says the Word of God, and that Word is truth, and must stand. Nothing short of the death penalty for Sabbath desecration, therefore, can be just. No other penalty than this was inflicted for it, when God inflicted the penalty upon the transgressor. If the Government therefore is to deal with Sabbath desecration, it cannot properly prescribe anything else than the death penalty for every instance of transgression.
The Lord, however, makes a further provision for the transgressor. He provides that the sinner who repents and exercises faith in Jesus Christ, shall be pardoned. Can the State also make this provision? Can it say to the transgressor, Repent, and you shall be pardoned? That is a just provision, certainly, for it is made by the Lord himself. But the law of the State can contain no such provision, for it would amount to a total nullification of the law itself.
It is plain, therefore, that human law cannot undertake to enforce the law of God, or to deal with anything as a transgression against God. It cannot enforce morality or punish immorality. It can, properly, undertake only to restrain men from the commission of such deeds as interfere with people in the exercise of their natural right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Upon this ground the law prohibits stealing and murder, and not because these acts transgress the law of God or are of immoral character. The proper aim of human law is to provide all persons the opportunity, so far as human power can secure it, of enjoying the life which the Creator has given them, and the opportunities this life affords for the pursuit and realization of happiness, without molestation from their fellow-beings.
But this does not afford the law any just ground for undertaking to prohibit the desecration of the Sabbath.