American Sentinel 3, 8 , pp. 62, 63 (1888)
IN the February SENTINEL, in reply to Mr. McConnell’s first “open letter” to us, we asked him or any other of the National Reformers to cite us to a commandment of God for keeping Sunday. Mr. McConnell accepted the invitation, and in the Christian Nation of April 11, devoted to the task a six-column article, the columns the same size as those of the SENTINEL. But we did not ask for arguments, we asked for a commandment. We did not ask the National Reformers for statements of their own, we asked for a commandment of God.
After four and a half columns of special pleading Mr. McConnell says:—
“The most important testimony is that in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church (1 Cor. 16:2). This constitutes our warrant for observing the first day of the week as the rest day or Sabbath.”
Very well, now let us read 1 Cor. 16:2, and see what it says. Here it is:—
“Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
And “this,” says the Rev. W. T. McConnell, “constitutes our warrant for observing the first day of the week as the rest day or Sabbath.” This then is the commandment for the keeping of Sunday, or the first day of the week, as a rest day! But what is said there about resting or about a rest day, or anything of the kind? Not a single word. It seems to us that anybody who can find in that a commandment for the keeping of a rest day, must be hard pushed and easily satisfied. But Mr. McConnell not only chooses to find there such a commandment, but he wants a National law which shall compel everybody else to keep Sunday because he chooses to find a warrant for it in a text which says not a word about it. He seems to be conscious of the weakness of his case, for he begs off, after this manner:—
“If anyone has time or inclination to quibble about the possible interpretation of subordinate clauses in the verse quoted, let such please themselves, remembering, if they please, that ‘the letter killeth but the spirit maketh alive.'”
But we have no confidence in the leading of any spirit which leads, not only contrary to the letter of the word of God, but contrary to the whole spirit and purpose of the word of God. And that only such is W. T. McConnell’s application and interpretation of this text, we shall conclusively show, and that in but few words. The whole connection in which the verse is found, is this: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.” 1 Cor. 16:1-4.
From this it is seen at a glance that the subject of rest, or a rest day, was not in the apostle’s thoughts at all, but that the direction is wholly concerning collections for the poor Christians; and that the matter might be systematically followed up, he directed that upon the first day of the week each one was to lay by him in store as God had prospered him, what he should choose to give for this purpose. But into this manifest and only purpose of the apostle’s the Rev. W. T. McConnell proposes to read a “warrant for observing the first day of the week as the rest day, or Sabbath,” and thereby to clothe himself and his fellow National Reformers with the prerogative of enforcing its observance, by National power, upon everybody in the Nation.
The way in which Mr. McConnell gets into this text a warrant for the observance of a rest day is by claiming that that was the day on which the Corinthians met for worship, and that this text, in view of that, means that “it is more than likely that the money was separated from the rest to be put that day into the treasury of the church, if one existed.”
That is to say, When Paul said, “Let every one of you lay by him in store,” the money he would send to the poor, he meant, Let every one of you put into the hands of others, as God hath prospered him. He meant no such thing. A year afterward he wrote again to the Corinthians on this very subject, and said to them:—
“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; for I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many. Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready; lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.” 2 Cor. 9:1-5.
Now if Mr. McConnell’s theory be correct, that the Corinthians were to separate this money from the rest and put it “that day into the treasury of the church,” and if that is what Paul meant that they should do, then why should he think it “necessary” to send brethren to Corinth, before he should come, “to make up” this bounty, so “that it might be ready” when he came? If Mr. McConnell’s invention be correct, what possible danger could there have been of anybody finding them “unprepared”? The truth is that Mr. McConnell’s theory is contrary both to the Scripture and to the facts. And that is the “warrant” under authority of which the Rev. W. T. McConnell proposes to arrest the demon of Sabbath-breaking in this nation. Mr. McConnell, your warrant is bogus. It is forged.
Further says Mr. McConnell:—
“In giving this direction for the performance of religious duties, the apostle Paul, incidentally, but positively, locates a time for such duties in the Christian church at Corinth, but with the statement that he had given the same apostolic instructions to the other gentile churches, he extends the appointment of a day to all under the apostolic jurisdiction.”
Now for the sake of the argument, and for that reason only, let us grant all that Mr. McConnell here claims—suppose that we grant that in this scripture the apostle Paul extends the appointment of a day to all under the apostolic jurisdiction. Then we want to know by what right it is that the National Reformers claim the power to extend that appointment beyond the apostolic jurisdiction? The apostolic jurisdiction extends only to those within the bounds of the church. The bounds of the church extend only to those who voluntarily take upon them the obligations of the name of Christ. Those who are not members of the church are not under the apostolic jurisdiction. Again we ask, By what right is it that the National Reformers claim the power to enforce the apostolic instructions upon those who are not subject to the apostolic jurisdiction? It can be by no right whatever. It is downright usurpation. To attempt to extend the apostolic jurisdiction beyond the distinct bounds of the church of Christ, is of the very spirit of the Papacy. But this is precisely what the National Reformers propose to do. They intend to make National the power and jurisdiction of the church, and whoever will not submit to the appointments of the church cannot remain in the Nation. And that is but the Papacy over again.
But Mr. McConnell and the National Reformers as such, are not alone in this project. Every person who claims the right to enforce the claims of the “Christian” Sabbath upon those who are not Christians is guilty of the same usurpation. No person who is not a Christian has any right to partake in any way in the celebration of Christian days or in the observance of Christian solemnities. If the Sabbath be, as is almost unanimously claimed, the Christian Sabbath, then not only have its advocates no right to enforce its observance upon those who are not Christians, but those who are not Christians have no right, even voluntarily, to observe it, any more than they have to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Christian institutions and Christian ordinances are for Christians only.
Then in closing Mr. McConnell makes his “application” thus:—
“Now in closing, a word of application. The National Reform Association has a ‘plain commandment’ for its demand that the Nation shall by law direct the keeping of a rest day.”
And, according to the National Reform “warrant,” the Nation shall direct the keeping of a rest day, by commanding everyone “upon the first day of the week” to “lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Is that it, Mr. McConnell? If not; by what right shall the Nation direct the observance of what is not in the “warrant”?
Dear boy, you had better study your lesson some more, and try again.
A. T. J.