“The ‘Christian Statesman’s’ Unchristian Intolerance” American Sentinel 10, 38, pp. 298, 299.

THE Christian Statesman, as might be expected, is out with a defense of the prosecution of Seventh-day Adventists. It has been moved to this by the stinging criticisms of intolerance made by such papers as the New York Tribune and the Christian Intelligencer.

The Statesman asserts that “not a single individual in any State of the Union has been prosecuted for keeping the seventh day as the Sabbath.” We would like the Statesman to reconcile this assertion with the fact that in the neighborhoods where Adventists have [299] been prosecuted, only Adventists have been interfered with. We have repeatedly published this statement and given the facts, stating what kinds of work were done, and just where done; and so far from being denied, these facts have been recognized by others, and have been published to the world by others; not from what we have said, but from their own personal knowledge. The Republican, of Dayton, Tenn., has published such facts. Ex-Senator Slaughter, of Tennessee, has published to the world in the Nashville American, over his own signature, the statement that “steamboats, railroads, street-car lines, hotels, livery-stables, hackmen, and other money-making concerns can continue their various vocations without the least fear of molestation by officers of the law, whilst another class of true and good citizens must be persecuted for doing what others are promiscuously allowed to do.”

The Statesman also asserts that “no man’s conscience requires him to work on Sunday.” It would be difficult to make a more erroneous statement. The Statesman ought to know, for it has had opportunity to know, the position of Seventh-day Adventists upon this question. Seventh-day Adventists regard the Sunday institution as a rival of the true Sabbath; it is the badge or mark of pagan and papal apostasy, and rebellion against the Creator of the heavens and the earth. For this reason they cannot pay even outward regard to it. They look upon the demand that they shall keep Sunday as exactly parallel to the decree of King Nebuchadnezzar requiring the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, to bow down with the multitude before the great image set up in the plain of Dura.

It is argued, however, that “the Adventists are left to observe the seventh day,” and that “they are not required to keep Sunday religiously.” Neither were the three Hebrews forbidden to worship the true God; nor were they required to pay more than outward and formal respect to the great image. They might have bowed before the image at the sound of the music and then prayed to the God of heaven; but to all beholders they would have appeared to worship the image, God vindicated them in their refusal to even seem to countenance idolatry.

It is true that Adventists are not forbidden to rest upon the seventh day, neither are they required to perform upon the first day any act which is of itself religious; but rest is itself a religious act in such a case, just as bowing before the image, under the circumstances, would have been a religious act on the part of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Actions speak louder than words, and by working upon the seventh day, and resting upon Sunday, the Sunday-keeper testifies more loudly than he could by words that the seventh day is not the Sabbath, and that Sunday is the sabbath. In like manner by resting upon the seventh day and working upon the first day, the Sabbatarian testifies that the seventh day is the Sabbath, and that the first day is not. This the Christian Statesman would prohibit by statute, thus curtailing the liberty of the Sabbath-keeper to teach by his example that which he believes is the truth; so that not only do Sunday “laws” require of the Sabbatarian a service which he cannot conscientiously render, but they forbid him to render a service, in the way of testifying to the truth, which he feels in conscience bound to render.

It does not follow from this that the Sabbatarian should be unnecessarily offensive in his Sunday work; but he should treat the day as a secular day, doing quietly and in an orderly manner his accustomed work, just as Daniel, being accustomed to pray three times a day with his window open toward Jerusalem, continued that practice when he knew that the writing had been signed forbidding any man to ask any petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of the king only. His act was not uncivil, nor was it anything that could possibly be styled a disturbance of the peace before the king’s decree was issued; neither was it anything that ought to have disturbed anyone after the decree was issued; and yet as a matter of fact, it did very seriously disturb Daniel’s enemies; not because it was uncivil or because it injured them in any way, but because their intolerant feelings could not brook such violation of the king’s decree, when in conflict with their ideas of propriety. And it is for the same reason that Sunday work by Sabbatarians so powerfully disturbs Sunday-keepers; it is because it is obnoxious to their intolerant feelings. They cannot brook it because they feel that it is improper, and because fortified by the knowledge that there is a statute against it, they cultivate that feeling until it becomes a passion with them.

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