“What Does the Bible Teach about the Sabbath?” The American Sentinel 6, 10, pp. 73, 74.

March 5, 1891

IN article number seven, of his productions on the Sunday-law question, Mr. Crafts inquires, “What does the Bible teach about the Sabbath?” Well, if it be only the civil Sabbath that they want enforced by law, what is the difference what the Bible says about the Sabbath? The Bible is not a code of civil laws. It is a body of religious doctrines, all finding their beginning and their end in Jesus Christ and the salvation which he wrought for men. Therefore, this inquiry is but another evidence which demonstrates that the Sunday-law advocates contradict themselves when they say that it is a civil Sabbath law that they want enacted, and that it is only the civil Sabbath they want enforced. Nor is this all; not only do they contradict themselves, but they know that they contradict themselves. They know that the Sabbath is not in any sense civil, and they know that the plea which they make for a civil Sabbath is a fraud.

There is another singular thing about this inquiry. In 1888, the American Sabbath Union was organized. It did its very best in that year and all through 1889, and the greater part of 1890, to have a national law enacted to compel everybody to keep Sunday as the Sabbath, when, lo, late in 1890, that association begins to inquire whether or not Sunday is the Sabbath! One of the vice-presidents of that association—Rev. George S. Mott, D. D.—wrote, and the association printed and circulates a tract, entitled, “Saturday or Sunday—Which? That is, this tract is an inquiry as to whether Saturday or Sunday is the Sabbath? And now Mr. Crafts comes out with an inquiry, “What does the Bible teach about the Sabbath?”

From these facts it appears that this association has gone on its way fully two years, trying to get a national Sunday law enacted to compel everybody to keep Sunday as the Sabbath, and then they find it necessary to set on foot an inquiry as to whether Sunday is the Sabbath or not? It would seem that they should have made themselves sure of that before going so far. Why do they want to compel men to keep a day as the Sabbath when they themselves are not sure that it is the Sabbath? If it be a matter that is so fully open to inquiry that they themselves must needs inquire, does not that imply a reasonable doubt upon the question? Does it not imply a doubt, so reasonable in fact, as to demand that fair and reasonable men should pause in their career of compulsory observance of the day, until it shall have been settled beyond a reasonable doubt that the day to be enforced is the proper one? Again, as these facts show that the question is open to inquiry, have not others as much right as the Sunday-law workers have to push the inquiry? And if others in pushing the inquiry as to which day is the Sabbath, or, What does the Bible teach about the Sabbath?” should find to their satisfaction that Sunday is not the Sabbath, then have not such persons the right to act according to the conviction reached by this inquiry?

Suppose all the people should diligently follow the inquiry thus raised by the American Sabbath Union, and that a majority of them should become convinced that another day than Sunday is the Sabbath; then suppose this majority should form an association to secure laws, both [74] now observe Sunday, to observe this other day, would the Sunday-law workers agree to the propriety of such proceedings? Everybody knows they would not. Therefore, even though the American Sabbath Union should pursue this inquiry and come to the conclusion already decided upon, that Sunday is the Sabbath, there is beyond this still, that other question upon which THE SENTINEL has always insisted, and always shall insist,—Has the State or a majority of any kind the right to enforce upon anybody the observance of a day of rest?

The foundation and obligation of a day of rest being wholly religious, the answer is, and always must be, that there is no authority upon earth that has any right whatever to enforce such observance upon anybody. Therefore, though the American Sabbath Union should find out to its own satisfaction which day is the Sabbath, and what the Bible says about the Sabbath, it would have no right whatever, to compel others by law to conform to its view upon the question.

So far, therefore, as the principle involved in the question is concerned, it makes no material difference whether they ever find out whether Sunday is the Sabbath or not, or whether or not they ever find out what the Bible says about the Sabbath. Yet, under the circumstances, and in view of the fact that they propose to compel everybody to observe Sunday, whether right or wrong, it is proper that THE AMERICAN SENTINEL should inform the people what the American Sabbath Union discovers by its inquiry. It is proper for us to tell our readers what Mr. Crafts finds the Bible teaches about the Sabbath. He says:—

The Bible presents the Sabbath, first, as God’s day, then, as man’s day.

This is partly true and partly false. It is true that the Bible presents the Sabbath, first, last, and all the time, as God’s day. Sabbath means rest; Sabbath day means rest day. The rest which made the day, the rest day, was God’s rest. The rest day, therefore, can never by any possibility be anything else than God’s rest day. It can never cease to be a fact that God rested. He himself can not change that fact. Therefore, the Sabbath, the rest day, can never cease to be God’s day. The Bible all the way through calls it God’s day. The fourth commandment calls it “the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Over and over again lie calls it “my Sabbath.” In Isaiah 58:13 he calls it, “my holy day,” and the “holy of the Lord.” And in the last mention of it in the Bible he calls it the “Lord’s day.” The Sabbath therefore is the Lord’s, and not man’s. As it can never cease to be God’s day, it can never become man’s day. It is true, that the Sabbath, the rest, was made for man. But it was made for him to use as the Lords, never as his own. It was made for man to use in the worship of the Creator, and as Mr. Crafts himself says,

We are to rest as God did, not by idleness, but by rising from work among vegetables and animals to work for the souls of men.

All these statements, even to this one, from Mr. Crafts, go to show that for which THE SENTINEL has always contended—that the Sabbath is religious only. The occupations which become it are religious only, and its observance is religious only, therefore, no civil government on earth can ever of right, have anything whatever to do with it. This is further admitted in the same article now under notice. Mr. Crafts adopts as his, a quotation in which there is this statement made:—

The week expresses religious authority and religious loyalty…. We, in fact, know the week only as it is marked by a religious day.

The week is terminated and marked only by the Sabbath. That day, according to this confession and every other consideration, is a “religious day.” It is the mark, therefore, of religious authority and religious loyalty. And when the American Sabbath Union or anybody else endeavors to enforce the observance of that day by law, they thereby endeavor to enforce the observance of a religious day, to compel the recognition of a religions authority, and the profession of religious loyalty. This is further admitted, in the same article now under notice, where Mr. Crafts makes his own another quotation in which there is argued the impracticability if not the impossibility of enforcing a rest day as anything else than “the holy day.” This argument is as follows:—

The “studies” I have already quoted ably discuss the question whether a weekly holiday could be maintained after the elimination of the holy day. “There would certainly be some in England and America, if not elsewhere, who would advocate on grounds of public expediency, wholly apart from religious considerations, a legal holiday as frequent as the present Sunday. But it would, of course, be necessary to create this holiday by statute. Moreover, to protect those for whose benefit it was intended, employers (other than those whose business is presumably indispensable) must be compelled to suspend work. Wherever such a law should be proposed it is absolutely certain that it would be vehemently opposed by two classes. One would urge, reasonably enough from their point of view, that to enact a weekly holiday would be substantially to reinstate the discarded sacred day; so that they would plead for a day unmistakably distinct, the eighth or tenth day or some particular day or days of the month. To them the week could not be other than a reminder of God. It should go with his day. Another class, larger probably and more influential, would argue in the interest of commerce and industry, against frequent holidays. They would show that a day of dissipation and pleasure-seeking unfitted men for the next day’s work. The restraints of religion having been removed the proposed holiday would infallibly (judging from experience) be much more a day of reckless indulgence and debauchery than the worst kept Sunday is now…. Probably it would be shifted about from time to time by successive legislatures…. It may be true that, in the long run, more wealth could be gained in six days, followed by a regular Sabbath spent religiously, than in uninterrupted devotion to business. But herein is involved the consideration of physical, mental, and moral benefits accruing from religious observance.”

This is exactly what THE SENTINEL, has always argued, and so far, this is what Mr. Crafts finds that the Bible teaches about the Sabbath. We shall say more on this same subject next week, but for the present we shall close with the observation that in the face of all this, their own evidence, these men will say that the Sabbath is civil, and that it is only its civil observance that they would enforce by law. Could anything possibly be more disingenuous or more sophistical? Do we not say well when we say plainly that they know the Sabbath is religious and not civil, and that they know that their plea for a “civil” Sabbath is a fraud?

A. T. J.

Share this: