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The Rights of the People

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    CHRISTIAN POLITICS. THE SUPREME COURT DECISION

    THE GREATEST OCCASION FOR THANKSGIVING

    [Department edited by Wm. Wier, Washington, Pa., District Secretary of the National Reform Association.]ROP 201.2

    “‘This is a Christian nation.’ That means Christian government, Christian laws, Christian institution, Christian practices, Christian citizenship. And this is not an outburst of popular passion or prejudice. Christ did not lay his guiding hand there, but upon the calm, dispassionate supreme judicial tribunal of our government. It is the weightiest he noblest, the most tremendously far-reaching in its consequences of all the utterances of that sovereign tribunal. And that for Christianity, for Christ. ‘A Christian nation!’ Then this nation is Christ’s nation, for nothing can be Christian that does not belong to him. Then his word is its sovereign law. Then the nation is Christ’s servant. Then it ought to, and must, confess, love, and obey Christ. All that the National Reform Association seeks, all that this department of Christian politics works for, is to be found in the development of that royal truth, ‘This is a Christian nation.’ It is the hand of the second of our three great departments of national government throwing open a door of our national house, one that leads straight to the throne of Christ.ROP 201.3

    “Was there ever a Thanksgiving day before that called us to bless such marvelous advances of our government and citizenship Christ?ROP 201.4

    “‘O sing unto the Lord a new song, for he hath done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory. Sing unto the Lord with the harp and the voice of a psalm.’ROP 201.5

    “William Weir.”ROP 201.6

    With these views of the decision, they made a determined onslaught upon Congress to secure definite national legislation in behalf of religion, using the Sunday closing of the World’s Fair as the means by which to obtain the recognition of the Christian religion on the part of Congress. Finding other methods inadequate to accomplish their purpose soon enough to please them, they resorted to open threats of political perdition to all in Congress who should refuse to do their will. These threats were so offensive that both Senator Sherman and Senator Vest on the flour of the Senate rebuked them as an abuse of the right of petition. A sample of these threatening petitions, which were sent up to Congress from the churches all over the country, is the following, sent up by certain Presbyterian Churches in New York. It reads thus:-ROP 202.1

    Resolved, That we do hereby pledge ourselves and each other, that we will from this time henceforth refuse to vote for or support for any office or position of trust, any number of Congress, either senator or representative, who shall vote for any further aid of any kind to the World’s Fair except on conditions named in these resolutions.” 445Congressional Record, May 25, 1892, p. 5144.ROP 202.2

    This effort was successful. Congress yielded to the demand, and enacted the required legislation, and this, too, distinctly as religious legislation, setting up Sunday by national law as “the Christian sabbath.”ROP 202.3

    The record of that transaction is as follows. In the Congressional Record of July 10, 1892, page 6614, is this report:—ROP 202.4

    “Mr. Quay.-On page 122, line 13, after the word ‘act’ I move to insert:-ROP 202.5

    “And that provision has been made by the proper authority for the closing of the Exposition on the sabbath day.’ROP 202.6

    The reasons for the amendment I will send to the desk to be read. The secretary will have the kindness to read from the book of law I send to the desk, the part inclosed in brackets.ROP 202.7

    “The Vice President.-The part indicated will be read.ROP 202.8

    “The secretary read as follows:-ROP 202.9

    “‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.’”ROP 203.1

    The foregoing is all that was said or done in relation to the question that day. The next legislative day, however, the question was taken up and discussed. The debate was opened by Senator Manderson, of Nebraska. And in the Record of July 12, pages 6694, 6695, 6701, we read as follows:-ROP 203.2

    “The language of this amendment is that the Exposition shall be closed on the ‘sabbath day.’ I submit that if the senator from Pennsylvania desires that the Exposition shall be closed upon Sunday, this language will not necessarily meet that idea....ROP 203.3

    “The word ‘sabbath day’ simply means that it is a rest day, and it may be Saturday or Sunday, and it would be subject to the discretion of those who will manage this Exposition whether they should close the Exposition on the last day of the week, in conformity with that observance which is made by the Israelites and the Seventh-day Baptists, or should close it on the first day of the week, generally known as the Christian sabbath. It certainly seems to me that this amendment should be adopted by the senator from Pennsylvania, and, if he proposes to close this Exposition, that it should be closed on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday....ROP 203.4

    “Therefore I offer an amendment to the amendment, which I hope may be accepted by the senator from Pennsylvania, to strike out the words ‘Exposition on the sabbath day,’ and insert ‘mechanical portion of the Exposition on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday....ROP 203.5

    “Mr. Quay.-I will accept the modification so far as it changes the phraseology of the amendment proposed by me in regard to designating the day of the week on which the Exposition shall be closed.ROP 203.6

    “The Vice President.-The senator from Pennsylvania accepts the modification in part, but not in whole....ROP 203.7

    “Mr. Harris.-Let the amendment of the senator from Pennsylvania, as modified, be reported.ROP 203.8

    “The Vice president.-It will be again reported.ROP 204.1

    “The Chief Clerk.-On page 122, line 13, after the word ‘act’ it is proposed to amend the amendment of the committee by inserting:ROP 204.2

    “‘And that provision has been made by the proper authority for the closing of the Exposition on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.’”ROP 204.3

    This amendment was afterward further amended by the insertion of the proviso that the managers of the Exposition should sign an agreement to close the Fair on Sunday before they could receive any of the appropriation; but this which we have given is the material point.ROP 204.4

    All of this the House confirmed in its vote accepting the Senate amendments. Besides this, the House had already, on its own part, by a vote of 131 to 36, adopted Sunday as the “Christian sabbath,” and by a vote of 149 to 11 explicitly rejected the Sabbath itself. Indeed, the way the matter came up, the House by this vote practically decided that the seventh day is not the Sabbath. See Congressional Record, proceedings of May 25, 26, 1892.ROP 204.5

    Such is the official record; now let us study the principle. The makers of the Constitution said that “it is impossible for the magistrate to adjudge the right of preference among the various sects professing the Christian faith without erecting a claim to infallibility which would lead us back to the Church of Rome.”ROP 204.6

    The first thing to be noticed in this record is that Congress did precisely this thing-it did adjudge the right of preference among sects that profess the Christian faith. The Seventh-day Baptists and their observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath of the commandment quoted were definitely named in contrast with those who observe “the first day of the week, generally known as the Christian Sabbath,” with reference to the commandment quoted. And the preference was adjudged in favor of the latter.ROP 204.7

    Now the Seventh-day Baptists are a sect professing the Christian faith. The original Sabbath commandment was quoted word for word from the Scriptures. The words of that commandment, as they stand in the proceedings of Congress, say “the seventh day is the Sabbath.” The Seventh-day Baptists, a sect professing the Christian faith, observe the very day-the seventh day-named in the scripture quoted in the Record. There are other sects professing the Christian faith who profess to observe the Sabbath of this same commandment by keeping “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” and hence it is that that day is “generally known as the Christian sabbath.” These facts were known to Congress, and were made a part of the record. Then upon this statement of facts as to the difference among sects professing the Christian faith, touching the very religious observance taken up by Congress, the Congress did deliberately and in set terms adjudge the right of preference between these sects professing the Christian faith. Congress did adjudge the right of preference in favor of those sects which observe “the first day of the week, generally known as the Christian sabbath,” as against the plainly named sect which observes the day named in the commandment which Congress quoted from the Bible. Thus the Congress of the United States did the very thing which the fathers of the nation declared it “impossible” to do “without erecting a claim to infallibility, which would lead us back to the Church of Rome.”ROP 204.8

    Let us follow this proceeding a step or two further, and see how certainly it does lead to Rome. From the official record it is as plain as anything can be that the Congress of the United States, in its official capacity, did take it upon itself to interpret the Scripture. It did in legislative action put an interpretation upon the commandment of God. Congress quoted the commandment bodily, which from God commands the observance of the Sabbath day, and which definitely names the day-the seventh day-to be observed. Congress then declared that the word “sabbath day” “means” so and so, and that it “may be” one day or another, “Saturday or Sunday,” and upon this, did decide which day it should be, namely, “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.” This is as clearly an interpretation of the Bible as was ever made on earth.ROP 205.1

    How, then, does this interpretation stand as respects the testimony of the Bible itself? Let the word witness: “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.” Mark 16:1, 2. Thus the plain word of God says that “the Sabbath was past” before the first day of the week came at all-yes, before even the “very early” part of it came. But, lo! the Congress of the United States officially decides that the Sabbath is the first day of the week. Now, when the word of God plainly says that the Sabbath is past before the first day of the week comes, and yet Congress says that the first day of the week is the Sabbath, which is right?ROP 206.1

    Nor is the word of God indefinite as to what this distinction refers. Here is the word as to that: “That day [the day of the crucifixion] was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on. And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher, and how His body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment. Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” Luke 23:54-56; 24:1. Here it is plainly shown that the Sabbath day according to the commandment and the first day of the week are two separate and distinct days entirely. And yet Congress gravely defines that “the Sabbath day” “may be one or the other”! The word of God plainly says that the Sabbath day according to the commandment is past before the first day of the week comes at all. And yet Congress declares that the first day of the week is itself the Sabbath! Which is right? Is the Lord able to say what he means? or is it essential that his commandments shall be put through a course of congressional procedure and interpretation in order that his meaning shall reach the people of the United States? And, further, are not the people of the United States capable of finding out for themselves what the meaning of the word of God is? or is it so that it is necessary that Congress should be put between God and the people, so as to insure to them the true and divine meaning of his word?ROP 206.2

    Whether these questions be answered one way or the other, it is certain that this is precisely the attitude which has been assumed by the Congress of the United States. Whatever men may believe, or whatever men may say, as to the right or the wrong of this question, there is no denying the fact that Congress has taken upon itself to interpret the Scripture fur the people of the United States. This is a fact. It has been done. Then where is the difference between this assumption and that of the other pope? The Roman pope assumes the prerogative of interpreting the Scripture for the people of the whole world. Congress has assumed the prerogative of interpreting the Scripture for the people of the United States. Where is the difference in these claims-except, perhaps, in this, that whereas the claim of the Roman pope embraces the whole world, the claim of this congressional pope embraces only the United States. There is not a shadow of difference in principle. 45And yet there is hardly room for even this distinction, because this interpretation by Congress was intended to include, and to be of force upon, all the nations that took part in the World’s Fair, and these were expected to be all the nations of the world. So that, practically, the two claims are so nearly alike that it is only another illustration of the truth that there is no possibility of measuring degrees in the respective claims of rival popes. There are no degrees in infallibility anyhow. That the Fair was not closed on Sunday out of respect to this interpretation, does not alter the fact that Congress did interpret the commandment of God.ROP 207.1

    Thus the very first step lands Congress and the country decidedly upon Roman ground; and the next step, which will certainly be taken sooner or later, will lead to the domination of the Church of Rome itself. For, note: This thing was crowded upon Congress by the church combination, professedly Protestant. It was their view, their interpretation, of the Scripture that was adopted by Congress, and put into the law. In other words, these professed Protestant churches had enough “influence” upon Congress to secure the decision of this question in their favor. And as soon as it was done, they gladly and loudly proclaimed that “this settles the sabbath question.” Now, all questions between Catholics and these Protestants, even, are not entirely settled. One of these, for instance, is this very question of Sunday observance-not, indeed, whether it shall be observed, but how it shall be observed. Let this or any other question be disputed between them, and all the Catholic Church has now to do is to bring enough “influence” to bear upon Congress to get the question decided in her favor, there you have it! The whole nation is then delivered bodily over into subjection to Rome.ROP 208.1

    And when it shall have been done, no Protestant who has or has had, anything to do with this Sunday-law movement can ever say a word. For if the action of Congress settles a religious question when it is decided in their favor, they can never deny that such action as certainly settles a religious question when it is decided in favor of the Catholic Church. If accept, and require others to accept, such a decision of civil power when it suits them, they must likewise accept such a decision when it suits the Catholics. And this other thing will as certainly come as that this has already come. And the government and people of the United States will have been delivered into the hands of Rome by this blind procedure of apostate Protestantism. That which our fathers feared, and which they supposed they had forever prevented, will have come.ROP 208.2

    The decisive step toward this certain consummation has been taken by the combined “Protestantism” of the country in this successful demand upon the United States that Congress should interpret the Scripture, decide a religious dispute, and “settle” a religious question. And this, too, was done by the use, and as the consequence, of the Supreme Court decision that “this is a Christian nation,” which made the Constitution acceptable to the Papacy by “the rejection of the principle of the Reformation and the acceptance of the Catholic principle” as the “meaning” of the Constitution of the United States.ROP 209.1

    This, we repeat, the professed Protestantism of the country has done upon the basis, and in the use, of the “Christian nation” decision. In their whole course in this matter, when any doubt or opposition was shown, they never failed to sound the merits of this Supreme Court decision-this was final and settled all questions. The loading Methodist paper of the country, the New York Christian Advocate, in referring to the discussion of the question in Congress, said:-ROP 209.2

    “Every utterance upon this subject was in harmony with a late decision of the United States Supreme Court whereby it is to be forever regarded as a settled principle this is a Christian nation.”ROP 209.3

    And now the Papacy takes up the strain, and also declares that a decision of the Supreme Court interpreting the Constitution “is final.” And just as soon as the Catholics can so “influence” Congress as to comply with the pope’s published wish that that church shall enjoy “the favor of the laws and the patronage of the public authority,” then, with the doctrine already fastened upon the country by Protestants that this Supreme Court decision is final, the whole nation will find itself fastened under the domination of Rome, whose decisions by the same rule “are also final and infallible.” Thus, and certainly, is the nation being steadily drawn toward Rome by the violation of the fundamental principle which our fathers established-by the doing of that thing which they truthfully declared impossible to be done “without erecting a claim to infallibility, which would lead us back to the Church of Rome.”ROP 209.4

    And this is what the “Protestantism” of the country is doing in this crisis-doing all it possibly can to aid and confirm the monstrous evil. This universal and insidious Sunday-law issue in the hands of professed Protestants, is the “miner and sapper” in this siege of the national power by Rome. And so diligently have they plied themselves in this and other like things that we have not space to mention, that all is on the verge of being ready for Rome to sound the bugle, spring the mine, and, in the confusion, seize the very citadel of the national power, and revive the old-time religious despotism with all its horrors, while the people of the United States will find themselves here tied down, and helpless, and run over like sheep.ROP 210.1

    There is another line of evidence that develops yet more clearly the present crisis, and makes more emphatic the fact that this crisis is imminent. This is presented in the next chapter.ROP 210.2

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