IN a previous issue the SENTINEL announced that J. W. Huddlestone, a Seventh-day Adventist of Fort Smith, Ark., had been convicted and fined for laboring on Sunday, notwithstanding the Sunday law of the State expressly exempts from its penalties any “person who, from religious belief, keeps any other day than the first day of the week, usually called the Christian Sabbath.”
As was also announced an appeal was taken from the decision of the justice, and this appeal is developing some points of peculiar interest. It seems that the prosecuting attorney has despaired of being able to convict in the face of the exemption clause unless he can prove that Mr. Huddleston has not, from religious belief, kept the seventh day; and this he declares he is able to do. He says he has witnesses who will swear that Mr. Huddleston has broken his own Sabbath.
As Seventh-day Adventists are known for the strictness with which they observe the Sabbath, the reader will wonder how the prosecuting attorney will sustain the charge. He will undertake to do it thus: Seventh-day observers not only follow the Bible in regard to the day of the Sabbath, but they also follow the scripture direction regarding the time of commencing and closing the Sabbath. The Bible directs that, “from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbaths” (Leviticus 23:32); and then defines the evening to be at the setting of the sun (Mark 1:32); but the law of Arkansas defines the day as beginning and ending at midnight. Therefore when Mr. Huddleston labored or made purchases after the setting of the sun on Saturday night after the Sabbath or seventh day of the Bible was past, he was still laboring and making purchases on the seventh day of the law of Arkansas, and thereby failing to keep “any other day as the Sabbath,” in the strict legal sense.
To the fair-minded such petty persecution seems impossible, but as history abundantly shows there is no lengths to which the self-appointed avenger of what he may term a breach of God’s law, will not go to accomplish his purpose.
The trial is set for April 28, and the prosecuting attorney promises to crowd the case on the lines here indicated. The spirit with which this will be done can be learned from a remark made by the prosecuting attorney to Mr. Huddleston, at their last interview, to the effect that Seventh-day Adventists were “a set of d——d fools, who ought not to be allowed a place on the earth, but ought every one to be in hell.”
Meanwhile let Seventh-day Adventists manifest the spirit of the Master, “who, when he was reviled, reviled not again.” Let them pray for their persecutors, for who knows but they are as honest as Paul who said: “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Acts 26:9.
“Bless them which persecute you; bless, and curse not.” Romans 12:14.