“The Vital Principle Involved” American Sentinel 10, 15, pp. 115, 116.

THOSE who have read the forgoing article will understand something of the reasons why Adventists suffer imprisonment rather than keep Sunday. But a few additional facts on this point will not be out of place.

We have already seen that Adventists regard it as a sacred duty to habitually treat Sunday as a secular day, because they understand that the fourth commandment establishes a difference between the Sabbath and the six other days of the week, and requires men to respect that difference. To ignore this distinction between the Sabbath and the other days of the week would be simply to defeat the object of the divine law, and to set up a counterfeit of the divine law, and to set up a counterfeit of the memorial which God has ordained to keep in view the fact that he is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, and the sanctifier of his people. [268]

As the Adventists view it, physical rest for man is not the primary object of the Sabbath; for it “was made for man” before the fall, and consequently before man stood in need of rest from wearing toil. Its object was clearly to keep in lively exercise man’s loyalty to God as the Creator. The Fourth of July is designed to fan the flame of patriotism in the American breast, and is a finite illustration of the infinite wisdom and purpose of God in creating the Sabbath for man. Viewed from this standpoint, it is plain that the fourth commandment not only enjoins the keeping of the true Sabbath, but likewise forbids rivals and counterfeits.

Every law must show in some way the authority by which it was enacted, and this the Decalogue does only in the fourth commandment. In that precept it is declared that the giver of the law is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. It is this fact that gives the Sabbath its memorial character. The Sabbath commandment is in fact the seal of God’s law, as it alone designates the Giver of the law, and states the basis of His authority to require obedience.

In like manner, the Sunday institution is the seal or mark of a rival power. It was anciently the badge of sun worship, the “wild solar holiday of all pagan times.” [269] It was dedicated to the worship of the sun and to the most abominable and revolting idolatries. In modern times it is set forth by the Roman Catholic Church as the badge of her authority, as will appear from the following quotations from standard Roman Catholic authorities:—

Question.—Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?

Answer.—Had she not such power she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority. [270]

Question.—How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?

Answer.—By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.

Question.—How prove you that?

Answer.—Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin. [271]

Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage [worship] they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Roman Catholic] church. [272]

Believing that papacy to be antichrist, and holding the Sunday Sabbath to be the badge of its power, it is evident that with Adventists the observance of Sunday would be equivalent to rendering homage to antichrist,—hence their steadfast refusal to obey Sunday laws, and their willingness to suffer imprisonment, the chain-gang, and even death itself rather than so much as appear to regard Sunday other than a common working day. It is not, as many seem to regard it, simply a matter of a choice of days for physical rest, but is with the Adventists a vital question directly affecting their salvation. These facts show most conclusively that Sunday laws do interfere at least with the religious rights of Adventists by requiring of them a service which they cannot conscientiously render. This is in addition to the hardship of being deprived of one-sixth of the time divinely allotted to them for their work.

But let not the reader of this image for a moment that Seventh-day Adventists render themselves unnecessarily obnoxious to their neighbors by making an unnecessary display of their disregard for Sunday. It is a settled principle with Adventists to do unto others as they would be done by. For this reason they avoid doing on Sunday anything that would be likely to be a real disturbance in the community in which they live; and this they do, whether there is a Sunday law or not, our of regard for their neighbors. They go even farther than required by the Golden Rule, for they do not expect that a like regard will be paid to them, or to their feelings upon the Sabbath. They recognize the fact that they are a minority, and they are willing to suffer any inconvenience or loss to which they may be subjected to for this reason, provided it is not a sacrifice of principle.

Seventh-day Adventists are a sober, industrious, peace-loving people. They are not found in our courts of justice except as they are haled there for violation of the Sunday laws. Their enemies themselves being witnesses, they are in all other respects model citizens; but upon this point they are unyielding. They will not deny their faith nor prove untrue to their principles and to their God.

It is a significant fact that while hundreds, yes thousands, of people all over the land are working on Sunday, many of them habitually, very few of them comparatively are prosecuted; while Seventh-day Adventists are singled out and made the victims of unjust and unequal laws. In Rhea County, Tennessee, hundreds of men are employed on Sunday in various lines of work, but only the Adventists are prosecuted. One man, not an Adventist, was indicted last November, but when his case was called to trial at the recent term of court, the prosecuting witness refused to prosecute the case, and it was promptly thrown out of court, but every Adventist was [116] diligently prosecuted, and promptly convicted. The same condition of affairs prevails elsewhere, and the explanation of the latter is that it is not the Sunday work of the Adventists that offends their neighbors, but their Sabbath rest. As was stated by a resident of Graysville, not long since, the object of the persecution is “to make them quit their Saturday keeping;” and as a resident of Western Tennessee expressed it some years since, “We are not going to have them teaching our children that Sunday is not the Sabbath and that Saturday is.” [116]

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