April 9, 1891
MUCH inquiry has been made lately, as to what is “the American Sabbath.” It seems to have been found out at last what it is. It seems to be the official organ of the American Sabbath Union, for there has just come to our table, Number 1, of Volume 1, of a twenty-four page publication, entitled the American Sabbath, which is declared to be “the official organ of the American Sabbath Union.” We are rather of the opinion that this is as definite an idea of what the “American Sabbath” is as can ever be attained. Yet, in several places through the paper, we find reference made to “the American Sabbath, or Lord’s day.”
Now, the Lord’s day certainly belongs to the Lord. The expression being in the possessive case, the day must be possessed by the Lord. He is the possessor of the Lord’s day. Therefore if the Lord’s day is the American Sabbath, it follows inevitably that the Lord must be an American.
The National Reformers have been a long while trying to make him an American citizen. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, several years ago, joined the National Reformers in this project; and the two organizations have since been working diligently together to that end.
They propose to have the Lord made the chief executive in this Nation; but as the Constitution declares that “no person except a natural-born citizen, or a citizen, of the United States at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to this office,” it inevitably follows that they must suppose the Lord to be a citizen of the United States. Such, however, is a very grave error into which these organizations have fallen; yet, to it they seem to be wedded.
Now, we suppose that the members of these organizations who may read this, will cry out that we are very irreverent in thus writing; but this is a mistake also. With sincere reverence toward the Lord, we simply set forth the blasphemous irreverence of the pretensions and the demands of the American Sabbath Union, the National Reform Association, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union.
According to the American Sabbath, and the Constitution of the American Sabbath Union, “the object of the American Sabbath Union is to preserve the Christian Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.” The means by which it is proposed to accomplish this object, is by looking after “national and local legislation, for the protection of public peace and order, and for the rights of all classes of people to their weekly rest day.” Every piece of legislation that we have yet seen that this Union favors, in behalf of the day of rest, has been to compel the observance of the day as such, under penalties all the way from $2.00 to $1,000. Now according to the declared objects of the Union, all this is in behalf of the Christian Sabbath; therefore this Union does distinctively propose to preserve and extend the observance of Christian institutions, by law, that is, by the power of the State.
More than this, these laws are intended to act alike upon all—Christians, and non-Christians, Jews, infidels, and atheists. This is, in short, an attempt to compel all who are not Christians to recognize and observe a Christian ordinance. It is to compel those who are not Christian to act  as though they were; it is to compel every man who is not a Christian either to become a hypocrite or a violator of the law. And every roan who has the real manliness of a freeman will violate the law rather than to act the hypocrite by obeying the law. Every man in violating such a law, only exercises his inalienable and God-given right.
Let us make this plain. It is the inalienable right of every man in this world, to worship whom he pleases and when he pleases. It is every man’s right to be a Christian or not, as he chooses. He is responsible to God alone for the exercise of this right. Every man in this world has the inalienable right to dissent from any church doctrine, and to refuse to con-form to any church discipline. Every man has the right utterly to disregard every church ordinance, rite, and institution. Church ordinances, church rites, and church institutions, are of obligation only upon those who voluntarily assume the place of membership in the church.
Now, when the State attempts to enforce the observance of church ordinances, rites, or institutions, it simply proposes to rob men of their inalienable right to think and to choose for themselves in matters of religion, and of church order. Men, are therefore, compelled either to submit to be robbed of their inalienable right of freedom of thought in religious things, or to disregard the authority of the State. The State by thus stepping out of its place and becoming the supporter of the Church, attempts to rob men of their inalienable right of dissent, and forces them, in the exercise of their inalienable right, to be rebels.
Now, Sunday is acknowledged to be a church institution only. As we have lately shown in THE SENTINEL, the American Sabbath Union itself says so. But the Union is not alone in this; all the authorities on the subject of Sunday observance agree that the custom was adopted by the early Church without a divine command. That the observance belongs only to the Church is admitted in this very statement of the object of the American Sabbath Union: that is, that it is to preserve the Christian Sabbath.
Now Christian institutions and Christian observance belong only to confessed Christians. And not only has neither Church nor State any right to require any others to observe them, but no others have any right to observe them. Baptism is a Christian ordinance; none but believers in Christ have any right to celebrate it or conform to it. The Lord’s supper is a Christian ordinance; none but Christians have any right to approach the Lord’s table, or partake of the Lord’s supper is a Christian ordinance; none but Christians have any right to approach the Lord’s table, or partake of the Lord’s supper. Not only every preacher, but every Christian in the American Sabbath Union, the National Reform Association, and the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, will acknowledge that this is correct, and would refuse to allow any one, who is not a professed believer in Christ, to partake of this ordinance. If any such non-professor, while still holding his unbelief, should presume to celebrate this ordinance, there is not a Christian in any one of these organizations, who would not count such a thing as gross sacrilege.
Now, these same people insist that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath, and the Lord’s day; and at the same time demand that the civil power shall compel men to observe it who are not Christians, and have no respect whatever for the Lord. Thus in their arrogance, they stultify themselves by compelling men to observe in one instance, what they count these same men only as blasphemers for observing in other similar instances.
To be consistent, nay, to deal even in common fairness, the people and the organizations who demand Sunday laws, should confess that the observance of the Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s day belongs only to Christians, to those who respect the Lord; or else demand laws that shall compel all alike to observe baptism and celebrate the Lord’s supper. Upon what principles of right or of common fairness can men be refused Christian baptism, and compelled to observe the Christian Sabbath? Upon what principles of right or common fairness can men be shut away from the observance of the Lord’s supper, and be compelled to observe the Lord’s day? Oh, the depths of the hypocrisy and the meanness of the whole Sunday-law system are unfathomable!
The utter baselessness of the claims of the American Sabbath Union is further expressed in the statement of its declared basis. Here it is:—
The basis of the American Sabbath Union is the divine authority and universal and perpetual obligation of the Sabbath, as manifested in the order and constitution of nature, declared in the revealed will of God, formulated in the fourth commandment of the moral law, interpreted and applied by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, transferred to the Christian Sabbath, or Lord’s day, by Christ and his apostles, and approved by its beneficent influence upon personal and national life.
Neither the divine authority nor the obligation, either universal or perpetual, of the Sabbath, is manifested at all in the order and constitution of nature. There is nothing whatever in nature that marks the Sabbath. The week is not a natural division of time. The day, the month, and the year, are all natural, but in nature there is nothing to mark the week. This they themselves well know. Herrick Johnson, D. D., is one of the vice-presidents of the American Sabbath Union. He spoke for the Union before the Senate committee in 1888, and in his speech he said:—
This appointment of one day in seven is arbitrary. There is nothing in nature to indicate that division of time. There is the day of twenty-four hours, there is the month, there is the year, all these are natural divisions; but there is nothing in nature to indicate the weekly division; the observance of one day in seven. It is arbitrary, and we regard that as an evidence of its divine origin.
Thus again the American Sabbath Union knowingly contradicts itself.
The second element in this basis is as knowingly self-contradictory as the one already shown. “The Sabbath as declared in the revealed will of God, formulated in the fourth commandment of the moral law, interpreted and applied by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” is the seventh day and not Sunday. In the revealed will of God, in the fourth commandment, and in the teaching of Christ—from the beginning to the end of revelation—the only day that is ever referred to as the weekly Sabbath, is the seventh day, and not the first day of the week.
This is admitted in the publications of the American Sabbath Union, and even in this basis itself, for the very next element in the basis of the Union, is, that the Sabbath of the revealed will of the fourth commandment, and of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, “was transferred to the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s a day.” What the Union means by the Christian Sabbath, or Lord’s day is the first day of the week; and for the Sabbath to be transferred to this, necessarily it had to be transferred from something else. That is from another day to this. That other day, the only one from which it could possibly have been transferred, according to the fourth comamandment and all the rest of the Scriptures, is the seventh day.
More than this, the first day of the week is not the Lord’s day according to the Scriptures. This is as plain and logical as anything needs to be. The Lord himself said: “The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28. The same Lord said “The seventh day is the Sabbath.” Here are two plain Scripture statements which put in logical formula, stand thus:—
Major: The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath.
Minor: The seventh day is the Sabbath.
The only conclusion that can ever be drawn from these premises is,—
Therefore, the Son of man is Lord of the seventh day.
That conclusion is just as sound as these two statements of Scripture are; and the two statements of Scripture are as plain and positive on that subject as any two statements ever can be made. Forming from this another syllogism, we have this:—
Major: Whatever day it is of which the Son of man is Lord, that is the Lord’s day.
Minor: The Son of man is Lord of the seventh day.
Therefore, the Lord’s day is the seventh day.
This logic is unquestionable; and the conclusion is just as true as the Scripture itself. 
Another element in this basis is that this transfer was made “by Christ and his apostles,” and this the Union knows is not true. Only four weeks ago we printed an official statement of the Union itself, that there is no divine command for the observance of the first day of the week; and here we print another statement from the same document then quoted. It says, that the observance of the first day of the week
grew up spontaneously in the apostolic age, and out of the heart of believers, and so became the Sabbath of the Christian era.—Saturday or Sunday—which? Page 5.
And this with a number of other things is said to be the same document to
furnish a reliable presumption that, during those years following the resurrection, the first day of the week was observed in a religious way.—Page 6, 7.
And as to the authority for Sunday observance, Herrick Johnson on the occasion and in the speech before referred to, argued with the chairman of the Senate committee in the following words:—
MR. JOHNSON.—I think that no one who accepts the Bible doubts that there is one day in seven to he observed as a day of rest.
THE CHAIRMAN.—Will you just state the authority?
MR. JOHNSON—Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy…. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.
THE CHAIRMAN.—Is there any other?
MR. JOHNSON.—There are references to this law all through the Bible.
THE CHAIRMAN.—Now you come and change that Sabbath day to which the Lord refers.
MR. JOHNSON.—That we hold was changed by the Lord himself.
THE CHAIRMAN.—When did he do that, and by what language?
MR. JOHNSON.—There was a meeting for worship on the first day of the week, the day the Lord arose, and seven days after there was another meeting for the same purpose, and then it is referred to as the Lord’s day.
THE CHAIRMAN.—After the change?
MR. JOHNSON.—Yes, sir; after the change.
THE CHAIRMAN.—It is based then upon two or three days being observed as days of religious worship after the resurrection.
MR. JOHNSON.—Yes, Sir.
These statements show that the members of the Union know, that when called upon for any statement that the Lord or his apostles did transfer the day of rest from the seventh to the first day of the week, they can not furnish any such statement. And this, for the simple reason that there is no such statement. They are driven therefore to “presumptions,” and “probabilities,” and “spontaneous growths” from the “hearts of believers.” And such is the basis of the American Sabbath Union, for the last element in the basis is as intangible as all the others.
And the result which these men and association’s have reached by their presumptuous presumptions, probabilities, and spontaneous growths—this they will have enforced upon all the people of this Nation and even of the world, by the power of the State and national authority. The arrogance of the Sunday-law scheme is as colossal as its hypocrisy and meanness are unfathomable.
This is our candid opinion of the Sunday-law movement from beginning to end.
A. T. J.