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    OPEN LETTER

    To the Rev. J. H. Knowles, Secretary of the American Sabbath Union.

    DEAR SIR: In the monthly documents of the American Sunday Association, edited by yourself, you have chosen to charge me with insincerity; and you have also done your best to make it appear that I “admit all that the friends of the Sunday-rest law generally claim—the right of the Government to make Sunday laws for the public good.”NSLRLL 184.2

    You have garbled extracts from the report of my speech before the Senate Committee on the Sunday law, and then have italicized certain words and sentences in one passage to try to make it appear that I admit the right of the Government to make Sunday laws for the public good.NSLRLL 184.3

    You have quoted from my speech the following words in the following way:—NSLRLL 184.4

    “Whenever any civil government attempts to enforce anything in regard to any one of the first four commandments, it invades the prerogative of God, and is to be disobeyed (I do not say resisted, but disobeyed).... The State, in its legislation, can never legislate properly in regard to any man’s religious faith, or in relation to anything in the first four commandments of the decalogue; but if in the exercise of his religious convictions under the first four commandments he invades the rights of his neighbor, then the civil government says that is unlawful. Why? Because it is irreligious or because it is immoral?—Not at all; but because it is uncivil, and for that reason only. [Italics ours.—ED.]”NSLRLL 185.1

    It is in the italicizing of these words that your effort is made to make me admit what I continually and consistently denied before the committee, and do deny everywhere else. You have inserted in the above quotation three periods, indicating that a portion has been left out; and you know full well, sir, that in the portion which is there left out, is the following:—NSLRLL 185.2

    Senator Blair.—‘You oppose all the Sunday laws of the Country, then?’NSLRLL 185.3

    Mr. Jones.—‘Yes, sir.’NSLRLL 185.4

    Senator Blair.—‘You are against all Sunday laws?’NSLRLL 185.5

    Mr. Jones.—‘Yes, sir; we are against every Sunday law that was ever made in this world, from the first enacted by Constantine to this one now proposed.’NSLRLL 185.6

    Senator Blair.—‘State and national alike?’NSLRLL 185.7

    “Mr. Jones.—’State and national, sir.’”NSLRLL 185.8

    Not only were these words there, but in that portion which you have printed following the italicized words, you yourself have printed my plain denial of the right of any nine hundred and ninety-nine people out of a thousand to compel the thousandth man to rest on the day on which the majority rest, in the following from:—NSLRLL 185.9

    Senator Blair.—‘The majority has a right to rule in what pertains to the regulation of society; and if Cesar regulates society, then the majority has a right in this country to say what shall be rendered to Cesar.’NSLRLL 185.10

    Mr. Jones.—‘If nine hundred and ninety-nine people out of every thousand in the United States kept the seventh day, that is, Saturday, and I deemed it my choice and right to keep Sunday, I would insist on it, and they would have no right to compel me to rest on Saturday.’NSLRLL 186.1

    Senator Blair.—‘In other words, you take the grounds that for the good of society, irrespective of the religious aspect of the question, society may not require abstinence from labor on the Sabbath, if it disturbs others?’NSLRLL 186.2

    Mr. Jones.—‘No, sir.’NSLRLL 186.3

    Senator Blair.—‘You are logical all the way through that there shall be no Sabbath.’”NSLRLL 186.4

    That last expression of mine, saying “No, sir,” is in accord, and was intended when spoken to be in accord, with Senator Blair’s inquiring statement whether society may not require abstinence from labor on the Sabbath. My answer there means, and when it was spoken it was intended to mean, that society may not do so. As to its disturbing others, I had just before proved that the common occupations of men who choose to work on Sunday or any other day do not disturb and cannot disturb the rest of the majority who choose to rest that day.NSLRLL 186.5

    Again: A little farther along you print another passage in which are the following words:—NSLRLL 186.6

    Senator Blair.—You would abolish any Sabbath in human practice which shall be in the form of law, unless the individual here and there sees fit to observe it?’NSLRLL 186.7

    Mr. Jones.—‘Certainly; that is a matter between man and his God.’”NSLRLL 186.8

    Now, I should like for you in a monthly document, or by some other means, to show how by any fair means, or by any sincere purpose, you can, even by the use of italics, make in that speech admit the right of the Government to make Sunday laws for the public good. You know, sir, that in that speech I distinctly stated that any human laws for the enforcement of the Sabbath, instead of being “for the good of society, are for the ruin of society.”NSLRLL 186.9

    Again: You know, for you printed it in one of your documents, that Senator Blair said to me: “You are logical all the way through that there shall be no Sabbath.” You know that in another place he said again to me: “You are entirely logical, because you say there should be no Sunday legislation by State or nation either.”NSLRLL 187.1

    Now, sir, I repeat, you have charged me with insincerity. Any one making such a charge as that ought to be sincere. Will you, therefore, explain upon what principle it is that you claim to be sincere in this thing, when in the face of these positive and explicit statements to the contrary and Senator Blair’s confirmation of them to that effect, you can deliberately attempt to force into my words a meaning that was never there, that was never intended to be there, and that never can by any honest means be put there?NSLRLL 187.2

    More than this: It can hardly be thought that Senator Blair will very highly appreciate the compliment that you have paid to his logical discernment, when in the fact of his repeated statement that I was logical all the way through, you force into my words a meaning that could have no other effect than to make me illogical all the way through.NSLRLL 187.3

    I have no objection to your printing my words as they were spoken; but I do object to your forcing into them a meaning directly contrary to that which the words themselves convey, and which they were intended to convey; and I further object to your so garbling my statements as to make it possible for you to force into them a meaning that they never can honestly be made to bear.NSLRLL 187.4

    In that speech also I said that if an idol-worshiper in this country should attempt to offer a human sacrifice, the Government should protect the life of its subject from the exercise of that man’s religion; that he has the fight to worship any idol that he chooses, but that he has not the right to commit murder in the worship of his idol, and the State forbids the murder without any reference at all to the question as to whether that man is religious or whether he worships or not, with no reference at all to the commandment which forbids idol-worship, and with no thought whatever of forbidding his idolatry. I stated also that if anybody claiming apostolic example should practice community of property, and in carrying out that practice should take your property or mine without our consent, the State would forbid the theft without any reference at all to the man’s religious opinions, and with no thought of forbidding the practice of community of property. You know that it was with direct reference to these words that I used the words which you have italicized. I there distinctly denied that the State can ever of right legislate in relation to anything in the first four commandments of the decalogue. But, if any man in the exercise of his rights under the first four commandments, and in this case under the fourth commandment, should invade the right of his neighbor, as I have expressed it, by endangering his life, his liberty, or his property, or attack his character, or invade his rights in any way, the government has the right to prohibit it, because of the incivility; but with never any question as to whether the man is religious or irreligious, and with never a purpose or a thought of forbidding the free exercise of any man’s right to work on any day or all days, as he chooses.NSLRLL 188.1

    This is precisely what every State in this Union already does by statutes which punish disturbances of religious worship or religious meetings, or peaceable assemblies of any sort. But there is a vast difference between such statutes as these and the ones which you desire shall be enacted. These are strictly civil statutes, prohibiting incivility, and are far from anything like the enforcement of religions observances. The Sunday-law workers complain of the disturbance of their worship on Sunday. If they are sincere in this, why don’t they enforce the laws already on the statute books prohibiting disturbance of worship? California, for instance, prohibits disturbance of worship, under penalty of five hundred dollars’ fine and six months in jail. But instead of having such legitimate laws enforce, you propose to prohibit the disturbance of your worship on Sunday by compelling everybody to keep Sunday. Upon this same principle you would have the State forbid the offering of human sacrifices by an idol-worshiper, by compelling him to keep the second commandment. In short, the principle is that you would have the State prohibit incivility by compelling everybody to be religious. And you are so enraptured with this distorted view, that you have chosen in your sincerity and by italics to force me to sanction the wicked principle. But it will not work. I say always, If your worship is disturbed on Sunday or at any other time, let the State punish the person or persons who create the disturbance. Let the State punish them by such strictly legitimate statutes as the States already have on this subject. But let the State never attempt to prohibit disturbance of worship by trying to compel men to worship, nor attempt to prohibit incivility by enforcing religious observances. This is just what I had in view, and is precisely what I meant, in the words which you have italicized.NSLRLL 189.1

    All this is further shown in the argument which I made, in that, Immediately following the words which you have italicized I proved that Sunday work does not disturb the rest or the worship of those who keep Sunday. And the conclusion of that is, therefore, that there is no basis for Sunday laws on that ground. This I prove by the fact that the people who make this the ground of their demand for Sunday laws, do not recognize for an instant that work on Saturday disturbs the rest or the worship of the people who keep Saturday. I there showed that if your work on Saturday does not disturb my rest or my worship, my work on Sunday cannot disturb your rest or your worship. I made this argument not only on this principle, but from actual experience. I know, from an experience of fifteen years, that other people’s work on Saturday does not disturb either my rest or my worship on that day. There are Seventh-day Adventists in every State and Territory of this nation, in Canada, nearly every country of Europe, the Sandwich Islands, Australia, South America, China, South Africa, and other places. They all rest every Saturday; they all keep it as the Sabbath unto the Lord. But no person has ever yet head of a Seventh-day Adventist who ever complained that his rest on the Sabbath was disturbed by other men’s work. Not only is this so, but the Seventh-day Adventists have organized churches in the great majority of the States and Territories of this Union. These churches are found in country places, in villages, in towns, and in cities. They meet for worship every Saturday; and although, as everybody knows, Saturday is the busiest day of the week, in the midst of such busy cities as Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Kansas City, these churches of Seventh-day Adventists assemble regularly for worship; and no person has ever yet heard of any Seventh-day Adventists’ making a complaint that their worship was disturbed by the work, the business, or the traffic that is carried on by other people on that day. The fact is, our worship is not disturbed by these things.NSLRLL 190.1

    Now, sir, if all the labor, the business, and the traffic that is done on Saturday, the day which is acknowledged by all to be the busiest day of the week,—if all this, In such cities as I have named, does not disturb our rest or our worship, will you please explain how it is that your rest and your worship are disturbed on Sunday, when there is not one-thousandth part as much labor, or business, or traffic done on that day as is done on Saturday?NSLRLL 191.1

    This, dear sir, is only an additional argument, but one which rests on the living experience of thousands of people every seventh day, conclusively showing that your whole theory and claim for Sunday laws break down utterly at every point. ALONZO T. JONES.NSLRLL 191.2

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