IN its issue of July 11, the Toledo Blade closes an editorial comment on the conviction of the Tennessee Adventists, for doing common labor on Sunday, with the following:—
There is no constraint upon the Adventists to devote the day to religious duties, or to hold it sacred. The law does not compel them to observe the Christian Sunday any more than it does the Jewish Sabbath. It merely declares that no one shall perform labor on Sunday; and there is no good reason why the Adventists should not obey that law. Their claim that it is a matter of conscience not to obey it, is absurd.
We are tempted to deal sharply with this utterance, but instead, will make the following brief comments:—
1. The commonwealth of Ohio recognizes that a statute compelling seventh-day observers to rest on Sunday, is tyrannical, and consequently exempts from its penalties “those who conscientiously observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath.” True, this is but toleration, but it is better than the oppression of Tennessee. Therefore, when the Blade asks that seventh-day “observers abstain from their usual avocations on Sunday, through respect for the Sunday laws,” it asks a sacrifice that its own State regards as an injustice.
.2. The Sunday statute of Tennessee does bring constraint to bear on the Adventists to compel them to observe Sunday in the same manner enforced by the creeds of the Sunday-observing Protestant churches. All that the creeds require is cessation from labor. They do not attempt to invade the mind to ascertain whether it employs the Sunday in holy contemplation. Outward rest is all the creeds enforce, and this outward rest is just what the Sunday statute of Tennessee attempts to enforce. And just as the three Hebrew worthies refused to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image and appear to worship, so Seventh-day Adventists refuse to bow down to the pago-papal Sunday and appear to observe the statute-intrenched dogma of Sunday sacredness.
.3. Seventh-day Adventists know that Sunday observance is not commanded in Scripture. They know that Sabbath observance is commanded. They know that Sunday observance is a church ordinance only, and it put forth as the sign of an opposing system,—the mark of that system which declares that “the church has power to ordain feasts and holy days and to command them under sin.” Seventh-day Adventists hold to a system of doctrine diametrically opposed to this system, and while thus believing they conscientiously refuse to wear the badge of the opposing system.
.4. Sunday statutes attempt to abridge the inalienable right to teach what one believes. “Action speaks louder than words.” The Sunday observer works on Saturday, and by that work proclaims to all beholders that he does not believe that the seventh day is the Sabbath. Likewise, the seventh-day observer labors on the first day of the week, and thereby proclaims to the beholder that he does not believe that Sunday is the Sabbath. In Tennessee, the Sunday-keeper says, “No, you don’t,” and hastens to invoke the law to prohibit seventh-day observers from exercising a right which he loudly demands for himself.
If there is no conscience involved in being compelled to wear the badge of a false theological system,—if there is no conscience involved in the matter of teaching one’s faith, then it is absurd for seventh-day observers to assert that they cannot conscientiously obey the Sunday statute. But it is a matter of conscience for Seventh-day Adventists to rest on Saturday and work on Sunday. Nevertheless they do not thereby disturb either the public or private devotion of their neighbors. Only two of the hundreds of witnesses which have testified against them in the scores of cases that have been brought against them in the last few years have testified that they were disturbed. One of these was engaged at the same time in driving a cow home which he had gone to a neighbor, on Sunday, to procure. The other claimed to be disturbed, though he testified under oath, that he neither saw nor heard the Sunday work of his Sabbath-keeping neighbor, but was mentally disturbed by the mere knowledge that the work was being done. No; Seventh-day Adventists believe in practising the Golden Rule, and if their persecutors would act upon this Christian precept, all this persecution would cease.