“They Plead Their Own Cases” American Sentinel 10, 15, pp. 118, 119.

AT the beginning of the prosecution of Seventh-day Adventists for Sunday labor, prominent attorneys were employed to plead their cases; among them the Hon. Don. M. Dickinson, of Detroit, Mich., and thousands of dollars were thus spent with the hope of securing favorable decisions, but to no avail. James T. Ringgold, of the Baltimore bar, one of the ablest lawyers of Maryland, on learning of the injustice being done to seventh-day observers, volunteered his services, and made a noble fight for liberty in his State, but the decisions were against him. One case was carried to the Supreme Court of the United States, but was dropped from the calendar owing to the sudden death of the defendant. Since then, the Supreme Court of the United States has decided that “this is a Christian nation,” citing the Sunday laws of the several States as sustaining proof. Consequently, Seventh-day Adventists entertain no hope of relief from the Federal Court.

The failure of human counsel has led them to rely more implicitly upon divine assistance, and the now appear in their own defense, relying wholly upon the promise of the Lord: “When they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: for the Hoy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.” Luke 12:11, 12.

The following are brief quotations from the [119] defenses of these people, who, in most cases, are farmers in possession of a limited education:—

I have a few words that I would like to say. This is something new to me. I was born and reared in Queen Anne’s County, and I was never before the court until to-day. I have always endeavored to be a law-abiding citizen. But I am here on a matter between my Lord and myself. I would like to say to the court that I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I study my Bible, and my convictions are that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord my God.

I was raised in the Sunday-school, and I was taught the ten commandments. I was taught that the seventh day is the Sabbath, and then was taught to observe the first day in its stead. In my study of the Bible I cannot find where God, the Lord Jesus, or the apostles, ever changed the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. I am conscientious in the matter, and choose to stand for God and the right. I leave the case with the court.—Robert R. Whaley, before the Circuit Court of Queen Annes County, Md.

I would like to say to the jury, that, as has been stated, I am a Seventh-day Adventist. I observe the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. I read my Bible, and my convictions on the Bible are that the seventh day of the week is the Sabbath, which comes on Saturday. I observe that day the best I know how. Then I claim the God-given right to six days of labor. I have a wife and four children, and it takes my labor six days to make a living. I go about my work quietly, do not make any unnecessary noise, but do my work as quietly as possible. It has been proved by the testimony of Mr. Fitch and Mr. Cox, who live around me, that they were not disturbed. Here I am before the court to answer for this right that I claim as a Christian. I am a law-abiding citizen, believing that we should obey the laws of the State; but whenever they conflict with my religious convictions and the Bible, I stand and choose to serve the law of my God rather than the laws of the State. I do not desire to cast any reflections upon the States, nor the officers and authorities executing the law. I leave the case with you.—W. S. Lowry, before the Circuit Court of Henry County, Tenn.

I do not deny working on the first day of the week, but I do deny working on the Lord’s day, because the first day of the week is not the Lord’s day. The commandment of God says, “Six days shalt thou labor… but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” and we must keep it. If any one can point to a single scripture, showing that Sunday is the Lord’s day and should be kept, I will confess being in error. I have lived in this county all my life excepting eighteen months, and was never before charged with wrong.

There has been offered $2,000 for the production of a scripture which shows that Sunday should be observed and Cardinal Gibbons has said there was no authority in the Bible for keeping Sunday; and some of you, gentlemen [to the jury], probably know of this. The Lord has said, “We ought to obey God rather than men,” and he also said, “Ye cannot serve two masters.”

I do not work on Sunday to defy the laws, but because I must obey God when his law conflicts with man’s laws.—W. G. Curlett, before the Circuit Court of Queen Annes County, Md.

Your honor, the summons which brought me into this court accuses the defendant of keeping open shop on the Lord’s day, to which charge I plead not guilty [drawing a New Testament from his pocket]; and I desire to define the Lord’s day by the declarations of Him who is the Lord of the Lord’s day as they are recorded in the Lord’s book….

I wish to refer you to Mark 2:27, 28, which reads: “And he said unto them, The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath: therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” Again, speaking of the Lord Jesus, the declaration is made in the second and third verses of the first chapter of the Gospel of John, that “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.” The first declaration, your honor, asserts that the Sabbath was made; and the second scripture declares that the Lord Jesus, who was in the beginning with the Father, made all things that were made in the beginning; hence, the Lord made the Sabbath day, and is therefore, rightfully Lord of the Sabbath day or Lord’s day. He is was who labored six days and rested the seventh day: “Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Now, having shown that the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath day, I call your attention to Luke 23:56, to show which day of the seven is the Sabbath or Lord’s day. The text reads as follows: “And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now (next verse, chap. 24, verse 1) upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” The text first quoted states that the Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath. This text states that “the Sabbath day according to the commandment” is the day which precedes the first day of the week. The Son of man is therefore Lord of the day which precedes the first day of the week, and that day is the Sabbath or seventh day of the week. Therefore the only day which the Son of man declares himself the Lord of, is the seventh day of the week, or the day preceding the first day of the week, is the Lord’s day….

Your honor, I claim the divine right of dissent, and therefore deny the right of the pope of Rome, the czar of Russia, the president of the United States, or the mayor of the city of Everett, to prescribe for me my religious duty. All I ask, as a free-born American citizen, and as a man, is the free exercise of my civil and religious right to worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience. I deny the right of the magistrate to compel me to observe the first day of the week, and thereby deprive me of one-sixth of my time in which to earn my living.

I have observed the Sabbath since 1878, previous to which time I kept Sunday. I require no civil law to enable me to keep the seventh day, and every one around me exercises his right to keep Sunday and labor on Saturday; and no man disturbs me in keeping Saturday. I disturb no man on Sunday or on any other day, and no man thus accuses me. All I ask is the free exercise of my right to worship Him who said, “The Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath,” and the right to labor six days, according to the dictates of my own conscience, so long as I do not actually disturb my neighbors.

Your honor, I have not interfered with any natural or constitutional right of my neighbors, and I am not guilty of keeping open shop on the Lord’s day. And I trust you will so decide.—W. T. Gibson, before the First District Court of Eastern Middlesex, Middlesex County, Mass.

Now, gentlemen of the jury, look me in the face, and tell me that I am guilty of any crime! You know, gentlemen, we are not criminals. Are we dangerous men to run at large who need to be restrained and deprived of our liberty? Look me in the eyes and tell me. Is there a single one of you that believes any man’s person or property is endangered by our going at large?—Not one of you. Nor does any other man. No witness has come here and testified to anything of the kind. If our going at large is dangerous to anything, it is to somebody’s religious sentiment, and if that be deemed a sufficient reason for restraining us, then it shows on the face of it that this whole thing is religious persecution.—Eld. W. S. McCutchen, before the Circuit Court of Hall County, Ga. [120]

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