“The Man-made Sabbath” American Sentinel 10, 33, pp. 258, 259.

THE weakness and imperfection of human handiwork are often apparent enough in mundane things, but in the man-made sabbath they attain to such surpassing proportions as to eclipse all else. How, indeed, could it be otherwise, the Sabbath being a thing that is divine?

The man-made sabbath is the Sunday. This institution must be upheld by force, or it will fall to the ground. But force does not commend itself in such a thing to the upright person. Force is for the wicked, not for the good.

It cannot be upheld without force, and it cannot be enforced without working hardship to innocent people. But a sabbath that works hardship upon people, works exactly contrary to the divine purpose of the Sabbath, which is to do people good and not to injure them. Human wisdom and discretion must direct the enforcement of the human sabbath, and these qualities, finite in themselves and often coupled with and controlled by a blind zeal, make it inevitable that the enforcement of the man-made sabbath should often be attended by injustice. Along with the poisonous liquor which should not be drunk on any day, the Sunday law is quite liable in many instances to shut away from poor people some of the necessaries of life. Cases illustrating this have been evolved from the effort now in progress to enforce the Sunday law in this city. And still greater is the hardship which it brings upon those who, in obedience to God’s command, observe the seventh day,—subjecting them to persecution and imprisonment, to say nothing of the financial loss which would result to them from Sunday idleness.

Contrast with this man-made sabbath, the divine institution, “the Sabbath of the Lord,” that was made by Him who is infinite, who created man and sustains and ministers to him in all the needs of his human nature, even numbering the hairs of his head. At the close of creation, God rested on the seventh day and blessed that day, that it might be a blessing to mankind. He made it a day of delight to all who observe it, without a single exception. Upon this point he says, “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable, and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words, then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord, and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13, 14. Here is delight in its highest and most elevating form, and this delight God pledges to every observer of his holy day. There is no hardship in the Sabbath of the Lord, but only blessing; for it brings each individual into communion with Him who is infinite in goodness, in wisdom and in power.

God’s Sabbath was made for man. Mark 2:27. This the Saviour said when he rebuked the Pharisees who found fault with his disciples because they plucked and ate the grain as they were passing through the fields on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees had made a sabbath which was against man, by perverting the divine institution to an agreement with their own human ideas, and loading it with man-made restrictions, by which a person would be compelled to go hungry on the Sabbath if the least work, such, for example, as that done by the disciples, were involved in the preparation of his food. To keep the Sabbath as they had made it by their traditions, was an intolerable burden, a mere exhibition of a person’s powers of endurance. Parallel with this “Jewish Sabbath,” and partaking of the same nature, was the Puritan Sunday, with its austere regulations for the deportment of old and young. This was against men, both in the day which it required to be observed, and in the manner of its observance. God has blessed only the seventh day, and only that day can bring the Sabbath blessing to mankind. Man cannot bless a day or make it holy or cause it to be a blessing and a delight to those who observe it. This can be done only by the power of God.

But while the seventh day has been made a day of special blessing and delight by the act of God, and while he has both the power and the wisdom that enable him to deal impartially with every person, he does not force men and invites them to receive it as a blessing from him, but leaves all free to choose whether they will do so or not. It is left for the man-made sabbath to be thrust upon people by force. Having neither the power nor the wisdom nor the Word of God to give it force, its dependence is only human precepts, human example and enactments. And as human precept and example are found insufficient to give it respect and stability among men, the highest power of man is invoked in its support, which is the power of law. But human law cannot change the heart, or touch the hidden springs of love and free will which must be called into action in true Sabbath keeping, as set forth in the Word of God.

This completes the picture of human folly which is being exhibited before the world by the misguided people who are working to force Sunday keeping upon their fellowmen by law. Sabbath making and Sabbath enforcing are things altogether beyond the finite wisdom [259] and power of man. Meanwhile the Sabbath of the Lord—the seventh day, blessed and sanctified by Him and perfectly adapted to our human needs,—remains for all mankind, a a [sic.] day of blessing and delight to all who choose its observance, and a sign of their vital connection with the one true God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

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