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    CONGRESSIONAL ASSUMPTION OF INFALLIBILITY

    Now any man or set of men, who assumes the office of interpreter of the Scripture, in that very assumption sets up the claim of infallibility. The Congress of the United States has presumed to interpret for the people of the United States that part of the Scripture which commands the observance of the Sabbath. This portion of Scripture was quoted bodily. A senator in his official capacity as such did take it upon himself to declare what the words Sabbath day “mean;” that the Sabbath day “may be” one day or another; and that it is “the first day of the week commonly called Sunday.” This interpretation was adopted by the Senate as a whole and was confirmed by the House, not only as it came from the Senate, but also by a separate vote—131 to 36—that Sunday is the Sabbath and—149 to 11—that the seventh day is not the Sabbath.CYMFC 22.1

    Now where is the difference between this assumption by the Congress of the United States and that of the pope of Rome? The pope of Rome assumes the prerogative of interpreter of the Scriptures for the people of the whole world; the Congress of the United States assumes the prerogative of interpreter of Scripture for the people of the United States. Where is the difference between the assumption of this Congressional pope and that of the Roman pope?—There is none at all, unless, perhaps, it be in the extent of the claim—the Roman pope claiming to be interpreter for all the world and the Congressional pope only for the United States. Yet it is not certain that there is even this difference. The Congressional pope interpreted the Scriptures for the World’s Fair, and was expecting at the time that all the world would be represented at the Fair, and would accept, and conform to this interpretation. So that, instead of there being any real difference, it is rather another illustration of the difficulty that always attaches to any effort to measure the relative claims of rival popes.CYMFC 22.2

    And this is precisely what the makers of this government saw would be done as certainly as the government had anything to do with religion in any way. And therefore they said: “It is impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects that profess the Christian faith, without erecting a claim to infallibility.”CYMFC 23.1

    Congress did decide a question of preference between sects that profess the Christian faith. The Seventh-day Baptists are a Christian sect. They accept the commandment of God as the Lord wrote it with his own hand. The Seventh-day Adventists are a Christian sect who likewise accept the commandment of God as he wrote it. These two sects therefore observe the seventh day as the Sabbath because the commandment of the Lord says that this day is the Sabbath. These two sects actively advocate everywhere that the observance of the seventh day is the only true Sabbath observance. There are many other sects that profess the Christian faith that observe the first day of the week as the Sabbath. These on their part, insist that the observance of “the first day of the week commonly called Sunday” is the only true Sabbath observance. They further insist, many of them at least, that this is what the fourth commandment “means.”CYMFC 23.2

    Now here are various sects professing the Christian faith. Among them there is, and for a long time has been, a live and persistent controversy as to the meaning of certain scriptures and as to what is the proper way to observe the commandment of God. One portion insists that the scripture means just what it says, and that to observe it as it says is the only right observance. The others insist that this commandment “means” differently from what it says, and therefore they interpret it to “mean” the first day of the week, and insist that to observe it according to its interpretation is the only right observance.CYMFC 23.3

    Here was a controversy between sects professing the Christian faith, and it was deepening every day. Those who say that the first day of the week should be observed, have for a long time been urging Congress to take their side of the controversy, to decide that their interpretation of the scripture is correct, and fix that interpretation in the law, so that they would have the aid of the law and the power of the government on their side in the discussion.CYMFC 24.1

    By the threatening “petition” before cited, they succeeded in getting Congress to enter upon this ground and take notice of the subject of controversy. In considering the subject, Congress did quote bodily the Sabbath commandment. Congress did say what the words Sabbath day “mean.” Congress did say that the Sabbath day “may be Saturday or Sunday” the seventh day or the first day. Congress did cite the two ways of “observance” of the Sabbath—“the last day of the week” and “the first day of the week,” and did distinctly name one sect professing the Christian faith—“the Seventh-day Baptists”—as representing the observance of “the last day of the week” as the Sabbath, in contradistinction to those sects which observe “the first day of the week, generally known as the Christian Sabbath.” And Congress did definitely and intentionally decide the question of preference in favor of those sects which say that the first day of the week is the Sabbath, for the express purpose of preventing “those who will manage this Exposition” from closing the Exposition “on the last day of the week in conformity with the observance which is made by the Israelites and the Seventh-day Baptists.”CYMFC 24.2

    And this not because those who manage the Exposition would voluntarily choose to close it on the last day of the week, but because, as the proposition first read, Congress had fixed in the law that the Exposition should be closed “on the Sabbath day,” and had quoted the Sabbath commandment as giving “the reasons for” this act. Having decided that the Exposition should be closed “on the Sabbath day,” and having quoted the word of God that “the seventh day is the Sabbath,” as containing “the reasons” for this, it was plain enough that the only thing the managers could do, if they were going to obey the law at all, would be to close the Exposition on the last day of the week. But lo! this would be “in conformity with that observance which is made by the Israelites and the Seventh-day Baptists.” Therefore Congress must, and did, interpret the commandment of God to mean the first day of the week commonly called Sunday,” so as to be in conformity with that observance which is made by those sects who observe “the first day of the week, generally known as the Christian Sabbath.”CYMFC 24.3

    Thus Congress did, in completest measure, the very thing that those who made the government said never could be done “without erecting a claim to infallibility.” And as it is certain that anybody who sets himself, or itself up as an interpreter of the Scriptures thereby assumes and asserts the prerogative of infallibility; and as it is certain that Congress has done this very thing for the people of the United States; it now becomes a question to be decided by every person in the United States, each one for himself, whether Congress is right of whether the word of God is right. It is for each one to decide whether the Lord is able to speak for himself, or whether he must needs have the Congress of the United States set itself up as his official and authoritative mouthpiece; whether each one for himself is capable of finding out for himself what the word of the Lord means, or whether the Congress of the United States shall stand between the individual and God to insure to the individual the true and infallible meaning of the word of God; and whether the Lord is able to say what he means, or whether it is essential that he must have the Congress of the United States to examine, interpret, and construe what he says in order that what he means may surely reach the people of the United States.CYMFC 25.1

    To the decision of these questions, every person in the United States is now shut up, each one for himself. To accept as correct the decision which Congress has made, is to admit that Congress is competent to decide for the people what the meaning of the word of God is. To admit this is to admit the infallibility of Congress; and to admit the infallibility of Congress IS TO ADMIT THE INFALLIBILITY OF ROME just as soon as Rome can secure a controlling or a deciding influence in Congress.CYMFC 26.1

    And this is just what the makers of our government fore-saw, as certainly as the government touched religious questions; and therefore they said:—CYMFC 26.2

    “It is impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects that profess the Christian faith without erecting a claim to infallibility which WOULD LEAD US BACK TO THE CHURCH OF ROME.”CYMFC 26.3

    To lead back to the church of Rome is the inevitable result of any such step, and will be the sure result of this step which has thus been taken by the Congress of the United States. This step was taken, this act was done, and this interpretation of the scripture was made, at the dictation and under the threats of the professed Protestant churches of the United States, aided by the Catholic Church, in this controversy between Protestant sects, as to which day is the true Sabbath. Those who keep Sunday demanded that Congress should decide in their favor and fix in the law of the land their interpretation of the Sabbath commandment. Congress yielded to their demand. And now they have declared that this “settles the Sabbath question.” They were able to make their influence felt in Congress in a sufficient degree to accomplish their will in this matter; and having accomplished their purpose, they now declare that that question is “settled.”CYMFC 26.4

    But all the questions between Catholics and Protestants are not settled yet. Now suppose some question arises between the Catholics and these same Protestants, and suppose the Catholic Church is able to exert sufficient influence to secure the decision of Congress in her favor. What, then, can these Protestants say? If they propose to deny the right of Congress to decide any such question, the Catholics can simply tell them: “You did not deny the right of Congress to decide a controversy between you and other Protestants. So far from denying the right of Congress to do this, you demanded it. If Congress was then competent to decide a controversy between Protestant sects, it is now competent to decide between Protestants and Catholics. When Congress decided in your favor there, you gladly claimed the decision and declared that that settled that question. Now Congress has decided this question in our favor, why does not this settle this question? If a decision of Congress in your favor settles a question, why is it that a decision of Congress in our favor does not settle a question? Then Congress adopted your view and fixed it in the law; you said that was right, and we say so too. Now, Congress has adopted our view and has fixed it in the law; and we say this is right. You did that with our help. You said it was right, and we say so too. We did this without your help, and we say it is right. And you cannot deny it.”CYMFC 27.1

    What can these Protestants answer?—Not a word. Their mouths will be completely stopped. And just then they will find out how completely they have sold themselves into the hands of Rome, in the doing of this which they have already done. If they had sold only themselves into the power of Rome, it would be bad enough; but they have sold all the rest of us, they have sold the whole nation. They have done that which will as certainly lead us back to Rome as that a controversy shall arise between Catholics and themselves.CYMFC 27.2

    Nor is such a controversy a far-off thing. It is at hand in more shapes than one. One point is already raised. It came about in this way: In 1885, by a scheme of the Catholic Church, the Catholic Church and about fourteen professed Protestant churches secured donations of money from the treasury of the United States to aid them in carrying on their missionary work among the Indians. And at the very first move the Catholic Church obtained more money than all the Protestants put together—the Catholics $118,343, and all the others together only $109,916. The second year the Catholics got $194,635, while all the others got but $168,579; the third year the Catholic Church got $221,169, while all the others got only $155,095; the fourth year the Catholic Church got $347,672, while all the others together got but $183,000; the fifth year the Catholic Church got $356,967, while all the others got only $204,993; and the sixth year the Catholic Church got $400,000, while all the Protestants together got but the same, $204,993. Thus starting almost even, in only six years the Catholic Church succeeded in increasing her portion of the public money to almost double that of all the others together—and this while the others were increasing theirs all the time too.CYMFC 27.3

    In 1889 an effort was made by the Harrison administration to stop all such appropriations of public money; but it was obliged to confess openly on the floor of the United States Senate, by Senator Dawes, that it “found it impossible to do that.” When it was found impossible to stop it, it was next proposed to stop as much as possible, and allow no increase to any, over that which they had received the year before. With this the Protestants were content. Not so the Catholic Church, however. She wanted more, and more she would have, and more she got. But how could she get more when the administration was opposed to it? Oh! that was no particular hinderance to her. She simply ignored the administration altogether and went into the House of Representatives in Congress and got $32,000 added to her share of the year before; and when the bill went to the Senate she went there too, and got $12,000 more added, making $44,000 which she secured that year in addition to her share for the year before, and this in spite of the administration, and in spite of the “protests” of all the Protestant churches engaged in the matter. For, as soon as these churches learned that the Catholic Church was getting all this increase while they were getting no increase, they all began to “protest” against it. But their protest amounted to nothing, because they were taking money from the public treasury at the same time, and they protested only because she was getting more than they were. But they kept up their “protest” and succeeded in reducing the appropriations to themselves to the amount of $48,647, and to the Catholic Church to the amount of only $31,432, so that for the present year, 1892, the Catholic Church got $369,535, while all the others together got only $156,346—the Catholic Church is now getting more than two dollars, to one dollar paid to the Protestants.CYMFC 28.1

    Well, the Protestants seeing that the Catholic Church was beating them at every turn, even when they had the whole Harrison administration on their side, have now taken another tack and propose to take no more public money at all. The Methodist, the Episcopalian, the Congregationalist, and the Baptist churches have all refused to take any more; and leading men in the Presbyterian Church are trying to get that church to refuse likewise. The object of this is to have all the Protestant churches refuse to receive any more public money, and then together raise one united cry against any appropriation to the Catholic Church. But here again they will find themselves defeated and sold into the power of Rome by the selfish blunders which they themselves have already made.CYMFC 29.1

    First, when they declare it wrong to make appropriations of public money to churches, the Catholic Church can reply: “You yourselves took public money in direct appropria- tions for from six to eight years straight ahead. If it is wrong, why did you do it? We all began it at the same time. If you have since found out that it is wrong, it does not follow that I should acknowledge it to be wrong. Even if you do think it wrong, I am not obliged to accept your view. I do not think it wrong. The Catholic Church says that it is right that the State should support the Church.” And what answer can the Protestants make?—Just none at all.CYMFC 29.2

    Again, the Catholic Church can argue thus: “The Supreme Court of the United States has unanimously declared that ‘this is a Christian nation. ’ As the starting point and leading proof of this, the court has cited ‘the commission to Christopher Columbus, ’ prior to his sail westward, from ‘Ferdinand and Isabella, by the grace of God, King and Queen of Castile, ’ etc., which recites that ‘it is hoped by God’s assistance some of the continents and islands in the ocean will be discovered. ’ Now the religion intended to be propagated by Ferdinand and Isabella was the Catholic religion. The religion which Columbus revered and which he hoped to be the instrument of spreading abroad, was the Catholic religion, and that alone. Therefore, as this royal document is adduced as evidence that this is a ‘religious people’ and ‘a Christian nation; ’ as the only religion contemplated or considered in connection with the document or its purposes was the Catholic religion; as all but Catholics are heretics and not Christians; it follows that the religion of this nation is the Catholic religion, and that this is a Catholic Christian nation. It is therefore perfectly proper and right that the Catholic Church should be supported, and the Catholic religion propagated, under national authority and from the national funds.”CYMFC 30.1

    And, again, what can the Protestants answer?—Just nothing at all.CYMFC 30.2

    The fathers of this Republic told them long ago that “the same authority that could establish Christianity in exclusion of all other religions, could establish with the same ease any particular sect of Christians in exclusion of all other sects.” For this reason the government was forever forbidden to recognize any religion. This wisdom these Protestants disregarded. They asked for years that the Christian religion should be recognized as the national religion. They rejoiced when this Supreme Court decision did establish the Christian religion as the national religion in exclusion of all other religions. And now when it results in establishing the Catholic sect of the “Christian religion” in exclusion of all other sects, they can have but themselves to blame for it.CYMFC 30.3

    They cannot deny that such an argument by the Catholics upon the Supreme Court decision would be strictly logical. Neither can they call in question the rightfulness of the decision itself, for the reason that they themselves have already used that decision to their own advantage in influencing Congress to recognize Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, and to fix in the law their interpretation of the word of God. Having used this decision, and claimed it as certainly right, to their own advantage, and to sustain and fix in the law their own views in matters of religion; they have forever cut themselves off from calling in question either the decision or the use of it, when it is employed to their disadvantage, and to fix in the law Rome’s views in matters of religion.CYMFC 31.1

    Thus completely, in this four-hundredth anniversary year, and by professed Protestants, has this nation been sold into the hands of Rome. Thus completely has the new order of things been reversed and the old order of things restored,CYMFC 31.2

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