“The American Hierarchy” The American Sentinel 1, 12, pp. 91, 92.

IN our remarks on the “National Reformed Constitution,” in the SENTINEL for November, we closed with these words: “If there are any of readers who do not yet see that the success of the National Reform movement will be the establishment of an absolute hierarchy in this nation, we ask them to wait till the next issue of the AMERICAN SENTINEL, when we promise, if the Lord will, to present such evidence both of fact and of law, as shall leave no room for any reasonable doubt.” We now propose to fulfill our promise.

Let it be observed that the immediate effect of the Religious Amendment to the Constitution, will be to make the ten commandments the supreme law of the land. In a word, the ten commandments will then be the Constitution of the United States. This is what the National Reformers propose, and here is the proof. In the Christian Statesman of February 21, 1884, Rev. J. C. K. Milligan presented an article in which he asked the question, “How is the Amendment to be carried out practically?” And in the answer to this question he made this statement:—

“In brief, its adoption will at once make the morality of the ten commandments to be the supreme law of the land, and anything in the State constitutions and laws that is contrary to them will become unconstitutional.”

Now the ten commandments are the law of God. The ten commandments are, for the universe, the supreme standard of morals. It is the moral law. Every duty enjoined in the Bible, that is to say every duty of man, finds its spring in some one of the ten commandments. This law takes cognizance of the thoughts and intents of the heart. To violate that law, even in thought, is sin. For said Christ: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” And again: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment; but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28. And “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer.” 1 John 3:15.

This is sufficient to show that the ten commandments deal with the thoughts, with the heart, with the conscience. By this law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20); in fact, God’s own definition of sin is that “sin is the transgression of the law.” 1 John 3:4. And as already shown, the law may be transgressed by thinking illy or impurely of another; it is immoral to do so.

Let it also be observed that the National Reformers not only propose to make the moral law, the supreme law—the Constitution—of the Government of the United States, but they propose to make themselves the supreme interpreters of that law. Again we quote Mr. J. C. K. Milligan’s words:—

“The churches and the pulpits have much to do with shaping and forming opinions on all moral questions, and with interpretations of Scripture on moral and civil, as well as on theological and ecclesiastical points.”Christian Statesman, February 21, 1884.

Now there is absolutely nothing that a man can do, or say, or think, that does not involve a moral question. The National Reformers propose to bring about in this Government, a condition of things by which they shall have “much to do” with “all moral questions,” and “with interpretations of Scripture on moral points;” which is only to say that they propose to have “much to do” with what every person does and says and thinks. Therefore it is proven to a demonstration that the direct aim of the National Reformers is to establish in this nation a hierarchy perfectly patterned after the infamous model of the Papacy.

We have not the space, nor will it be considered necessary, in confirmation of this, to take up the ten commandments one by one. One of them will be sufficient, and we shall choose the one upon which the National Reformers themselves make their greatest argument for national guilt, that is,


Bear in mind that in the National Reformed Government, the fourth commandment will be a part of the Constitution of the United States, because the ten commandments will be the Constitution. Then everybody in the United States will have to keep the fourth commandment, for to refuse to do so will be rebellion. Now let no one misunderstand us. Our opposition is not against the ten commandments, nor against any one of them. We believe most decidedly in keeping the ten commandments, in every jot and tittle, according to the word of Christ, and we teach men so. In short, we believe in keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. We strictly practice in accordance with this belief. Therefore what we shall ever say on this subject, let no one misconstrue into an opposition to the ten commandments, nor to Christ, nor to the Bible. Our opposition is solely to the National Reform movement, and to the hierarchy, the establishment of which is the object of that movement. We believe in strictly keeping the moral law, in deed, in word, and in thought; but we decidedly oppose the project of the National Reformers to put civil government into the realm of morals, to make civil rulers moral governors, and to make a set of ambitious clerics the supervisors of men’s thoughts and the conservators of men’s consciences.

Suppose then that the National Reform movement has proved a success. The ten commandments are the supreme law—the Constitution of the Government—and the National Reformers set about to accomplish one of the “practical results” that is sought by their Amendment, namely, “the perpetuation of the Sabbath.”—See Resolutions, Pittsburg Convention. The National Reformers expect a “universal gathering” and “discussion” about the changes that will be made in the Constitution, and this question of the bearing of the ten commandments will, in the nature of the case, be the chief, because the ten commandments are to have the chief place in the “Reformed” Constitution. And as the ten commandments are to have the chief place in the Constitution, and as the fourth commandment of the ten is to have the chief place in the efforts of the National Reformers, it follows that the bearing of the fourth commandment will be the one great national question in the National Reformed Government. What then says the commandment? Let us read:—

“Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.”

Even now there is no little discussion about the meaning of this commandment. There are the Jews who profess, to keep the commandment, and they keep the seventh day—Saturday. There are the National Reformers and the evangelical Christians generally who also profess to keep the commandment, and they keep the first day—Sunday. Then between these extremes there lies a third class who are not Jews, neither are they classed as “evangelical” Christians, yet they profess to be Christians, and profess to keep the fourth commandment—we refer to the Seventh-day Baptists and the Seventh-day Adventists. These insist that to obey the commandment, the seventh day must be kept even by Christians. There are yet others who believe that Sunday should be kept with some degree of sacredness, but with no reference whatever to the fourth commandment.

It is evident that all these discordant views of the bearing of the fourth commandment, are not going to be reconciled by the adoption of the proposed Amendment to the Constitution. And as that commandment will then be a part of the National Constitution, the question of the meaning of the commandment, and of what day is to be observed in obeying the commandment, will have to be decided in the Supreme Court of the United States. And mark, if the Supreme Court be left to itself, if the court be allowed to sit simply as a court of law, when this question should come up for decision it would do so as a question of law and not of theology.

Considering it therefore as a question of law, the court would be guided by the acknowledged rules that are laid down for the interpretation of law and statute. Let us try the interpretation of the commandment by some of these rules. Chancellor Kent, in his “Commentaries,” lays down this rule:—

“The words of a statute, if of common use, are to be taken in their natural, plain, obvious, and ordinary signification and import.”

The first question then is, Are the words of the fourth commandment such as are of common use? Look at them and see. The only [92] answer that there can be is, They are. There is not a word in the commandment that is not of common use. Then the judges have no alternative, the words are to be taken in their natural, plain, obvious, and ordinary signification and import.

The Hon. John A. Bingham was appointed by the House of Representatives, to conduct the impeachment of President Johnson. In the course of that trial Mr. Bingham stated this rule of law:—

“When words are plain in a written law, there is an end to all construction. They must be followed.”

The words of the fourth commandment, being of common use, must be plain. Then the court is allowed no latitude for construction, it must follow the plain words of the statute.

What is the purpose of the fourth commandment? It is to secure the keeping of the Sabbath-day. For the first sentence is, “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.” But what day is the Sabbath-day? The commandment itself tells: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Remember that we are asking these questions simply from the standpoint of law, and not of theology. We are simply examining it as it will have to be examined should the National Reform movement succeed. These are the very questions that the judges of the Supreme Court will have to ask. And if they are to follow the rules of law, and the words of the then Constitution, these are the very answers that they will have to make. The judges must follow the words of the statute. As jurists they can do nothing else. Therefore if the court be left to itself and to the principles and rules of civil law, as everybody knows that Saturday is the seventh day, it follows inevitably that as surely as the National Reform movement succeeds, everybody in these United States will have to


But is that what the National Reformers desire to accomplish? Is that what they are aiming at? No, indeed, not they! For the court is not to be left to itself and to the rules of civil law. Such a decision as that, the National Reformers never will allow. And right here is where their hierarchy comes in. Here is where they appear as the “interpreters of Scripture” on “all questions of morals.” Here is the point at which they step in with their “final decisions.” For as soon as such an interpretation as that is proposed, they will assert that that is not the correct interpretation. They will say that the rules of civil law do not apply in the interpretation of a religious statute; that this is a theological question and it must be decided by theological definitions. They will say that the unanimous verdict of the theological world on this question is that the expression “seventh day” in the fourth commandment does not mean the definite seventh day of the week, but “one day in seven,” “one day of rest after six days of work;” that in the Jewish dispensation the day kept was Saturday, but in the Christian dispensation the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath, that it is in fact the distinctive badge of Christianity; that this has been by Constitutional amendment declared to be a Christian nation, and as this commandment is a part of the Constitution, it must be interpreted by the rules of Christian theology.

Can there be any doubt as to which way the question will be decided? Not the least. It will have to be decided in favor of the prevalent Christianity, and the “Christian Sabbath” will thus be declared to be the Sabbath in this Government. But by whom is the question decided? by whom is the final decision made? Not by the judges but by the theologians. Not by the court but by “the leaders and teachers in our churches.” And that is nothing else than the rule of a hierarchy.

Here, and by this, we are brought face to face with another important consideration—in fact, the culmination of National Reform purposes and aims. It is this: As all these questions are to be decided not as questions of law, but of theology; and as “the leaders and teachers” in the churches are to be the interpreters on moral and theological points; it follows that the success of the National Reform movement will be the destruction of all distinction between law and theology, between civil and religious affairs. All the courts of the land will be—not courts of law butcourts of theology; and every question of Government and of life will become a theological question, subject to the supervision and the “final decision” of these “leaders and teachers” in the churches. All of which will be but to turn this Government into a man-made theocracy, with the leaders of National Reform in the seat of God. In short, it will be but a new form of the Papacy under the title of National Reform.

Even when this question of the Sabbath is decided, we do not believe that all the Seventh-day Baptists, and all the Seventh-day Adventists, and all the Jews in the country, are going to accept and conform to the decision without coercion. But coercion will be persecution, while if there is no coercion the Reformed Constitution will be set at defiance, and all the work of the National Reformers will be in vain. But as we are not to suppose for a moment that they are working in vain, it follows that the success of National Reform will certainly bring persecution. But that is only to carry out the spirit of the Papacy.

If these people who do not want to keep Sunday should all set themselves to work together to obtain an amendment to the Constitution, by which they could and would, under pains and penalties, compel all persons in the United States to keep Saturday and submit to their “interpretation” and “final decision” upon all questions of Scripture and morals, the National Reformers would at once pronounce it an invasion of human right and religious liberty—in short, they would pronounce it an infamous proceeding. And so should we. Therefore when the National Reformers deliberately propose to do this very thing, only putting Sunday instead of Saturday in the law, and bend every element to its accomplishment, then we do likewise pronounce that an infamous proceeding. And so should every one who has any regard for human right and liberty of conscience.

If there be any such thing as logical deductions from clear statements, we believe that we have fulfilled our promise to show that the success of the National Reform movement will be the establishment of an absolute hierarchy in this Nation.

A. T. J.

Share this: