GOD is the Creator of all beings upon the earth. But it is not merely as the Creator that God reveals himself to us in his Word and in his works. In these he reveals to us his character.
God might have made men without giving them any rights at all. He might have made them merely for his own amusement, as boys make their play men of snow, or as dolls are made for the little girls.
He might have made mere automatons,—that is, people who would have no will or choice of their own in anything that they did, but would act just as some power outside of themselves obliged them to.
Some people wonder why the Lord did not make automatons who would have been compelled to do right, instead of men and women who have the power to choose to do right. Such people seem to have no idea of the of freedom.
The Bible tells us that “God is love.” It is this that God reveals to us in his Word and in his works. This is his character. Everything that God does is prompted by his love for the beings he has made.
This is why he has given to us those unalienable rights that are spoken of in the Declaration of Independence.
God made all his creatures to be happy; so he gave them a right to life, to liberty, and to all things that they must have to make them happy. God himself never takes any of these things from us; but sometimes men take them from us, and sometimes we lose them by not caring enough for them ourselves.
If we were automatons we would never have any character. If we only did what we could not help doing, we would have no credit, nor any blame, for doing it.
We all like to have credit for doing well, and God means that we shall have credit for it. When we come to the end of this world, he is going to say, “Well done,” to everyone who has done well here in this life.
It would only be ridiculous to say “Well done” to an automaton. So God gives us all freedom of choice, in order that we may have the credit of having done noble deeds of our own free will.
God has a character, and his design is that the beings he has made in his own image, shall have a character. We would not be in God’s image if we had no character. What an honor it is that God has bestowed on us in making us in his own image! This is the highest proof that he does not mean us to be slaves.
God’s character is love, and he wants men to have the same character that he has. Did you ever know any one of a very loving nature who did not want to be loved in return? This is the way it is with God. He is more loving than any of us, and he wants to be loved in return by all the human family.
So he wants love to be our character, the same as it is his. But if we should do right only because we had to, there would be no love in that. If you, my boy or girl, did what your father and mother wish you to do, from no choice of your own but only because you could not do differently, would they see in it any proof of your love for them? Of course not; and so we must have freedom of choice to show our love for God.
How perfect and how beautiful is God’s plan for the happiness not only of himself but of all his creatures! And how strange it is, and how wicked, that anyone should interfere with this plan, and try to take away man’s freedom. Yet this is just what men have been doing all the way along in the world’s history since Cain killed Abel; and they are doing it still.
Men are trying to have laws made to compel other people to do right, or rather to do what they think is right, for it does not rest with man to say what is right, but only with God. One of the most common ways in which some men try to compel others to do what they think is right, is in passing laws to compel people to keep the Sabbath.
God does not want any one to be compelled to keep the Sabbath. Real Sabbath-keeping is one way in which men can show their love for God. Yes; it is one of the greatest and most important ways in which men may show that they love God. And God longs for their love, and in the highest degree deserves to have it. But when men pass laws to compel people to keep the Sabbath, they not only rob the people of their God-given freedom of choice, but they rob God himself of the love which would come to him through the free choice of people in the keeping of his holy day.
The men who make such laws do not generally realize how they are interfering with God’s perfect plan and robbing him, and what a wicked thing it is. We must do what we can to enlighten them and save them from the consequences of such terrible mistakes.