AMS an argument in behalf of Sunday “laws,” it is said that such legislation as is called for does not infringe upon any person’s rights of conscience, since it does not require that Sunday should be kept religiously.
Just what would constitute a religious observance of Sunday, in the minds of those who makes use of this “argument,” we are not told. But it is not their nor any person’s ideas upon this point that determine the propriety of Sunday legislation from the standpoint of interference with conscience. That must be determined by the truth, as defined by Him whose word is truth. And the truth is that refraining from work upon the first or any other day of the week, so as to acknowledge that day as a weekly rest day, is a religious act. It must of necessity have this significance.
A weekly rest day is wholly a religious institution. It was given to man as such by the Creator. Genesis 2:2, 3; Exodus 20:8-11; Ezekiel 20:12, 20. Rest from secular work is an essential part of the keeping of the Sabbath commandment. And from the very fact that the Sabbath is wholly a religious institution—since it is “the Sabbath of the Lord”—and that rest from secular labor is an essential part of its observance, such weekly rest upon Sunday must have a religious significance. Being exactly similar to the Sabbath rest which God commanded, so far as regards the performance of secular work, it is either that rest itself or a counterfeit of it; in either of which cases its significance is religious.
A counterfeit dollar bill has the significance of money, and is intended by its maker to serve the purpose of money. So it is with the Sunday sabbath. It must of necessity have the significance of the institution which it professes to be, or of which it claims to be a pattern; and that significance is wholly religious.
Hence the weekly Sunday rest which is demanded by Sunday “laws” is a religious act, and the plea that such “laws” do not require any person to keep Sunday religiously, is of no force. By the very fact of requiring Sunday rest, they require a religious observance, and hence go entirely beyond the legitimate sphere of civil legislation.
Let the truth be kept in mind that the Sabbath is wholly a religious institution. This is shown by the fact, already pointed out, that it is “the Sabbath of the Lord.” God has stated expressly that the Sabbath is his and not man’s. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” See Exodus 20:8-11; Isaiah 58:13; Ezekiel 20:12, 20. In the light of this fact, the impropriety of human sabbath “laws” may be seen in full. The Sabbath is God’s sign between himself and his people. It is the mark of his Godhead, pointing out him who has creative power, and who is therefore the true God. Hence man has no business to meddle with it. Even a trademark is recognized in human law as the property of its originator. No other party is allowed to appropriate it. How much more, then, is God’s Sabbath sacred to him—to the high and holy purpose specified in his law, as the memorial of him who has power to create and redeem! Yet men speak of the Sabbath as though it were their common property, to be put to their own uses and legislated upon as they see fit!
The American Government is very jealous—and properly so—of its currency. It punishes counterfeiting with severe penalties. It will not allow any imitation of that which constitutes its currency, whether of coin or paper, and whether it be intended to serve the purpose of money or not. Its secret service officials promptly seize and confiscate all such imitations, no matter if obviously intended to serve only as medals or as advertisements. And why will not men recognize the principle in its application to that which is infinitely more sacred and important,—the memorial or “sign” (Ezekiel 20:12, 20) of God between himself and his people? Why will they not treat God’s sacred things with at least as much respect as is made obligatory with regard to man’s things? Oh that all men would recognize the iniquitous folly of enacting sabbath “laws,” and cease to intrude with their human legislation upon that which is holy unto the Lord.