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    February 12, 1885

    “Protestants, or Not? No. 2” The Signs of the Times 11, 7, pp. 104, 105.

    THE second point upon which the practice of Protestants can be brought to the test of Protestant principles is the Sunday sabbath. With but two exceptions (Seventh-day Adventists and Seventh-day Baptists), all Protestants keep Sunday, the first day of the week, as the Sabbath. But it is with this, as it is with the idea of the immortality of the soul, instead of Sunday-keeping being in harmony with Protestant principles, it is in defiance of them. The word of God furnishes men with the only account of the institution of the Sabbath. That word likewise gives to men, in plain terms, the law of God which regulates the institution. Here it is:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 104.1

    “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.” Exodus 20:8-11.SITI February 12, 1885, page 104.2

    This is the only Sabbath law that there is in the world. It commands the observance of the seventh day. Every reason, every provision, of the commandment has reference solely to the seventh day; and it is subversive of the commandment to make any part of it apply to any other than the seventh day of the week. To this agree the word of God, the whole word of God. The person who obeys this commandment as it is written, can give to every one who asks why he keeps the seventh day for Sabbath, the excellent answer, The word of God commands it.SITI February 12, 1885, page 104.3

    It is not so with the Sunday. To the question, Why do you keep Sunday? no man can answer that the word of God commands it. In all the Scriptures there is neither authority nor reason given for the practice of keeping Sunday. And instead of the practice being directed by the Bible, the Bible is made to conform to the practice. Men have grown up in the practice of keeping Sunday, and when their attention is called to the fact that Sunday is not Sabbath at all, and the plain words of the commandment are cited and supported by the unanimous testimony of the Bible, instead of at once correcting their conduct by the Scripture, they set to work most diligently to contrive something by which they can make it appear that the practice is right. And in this contrivance to save appearances, there is nothing too far-fetched, nothing too illogical, nothing too puerile to be accepted with avidity, if there is any possibility of making it in any way effectual.SITI February 12, 1885, page 104.4

    One of the most common of these contrivances is usually expressed in about this formula: My father and mother, my grandfather and grandmother, and all my people kept Sunday, and I guess if they are saved I can be. But such argument is very defective. 1. It makes the actions of men, instead of the word of God, the standard of duty. It is guided by what men have done, rather than by what they should have done. 2. It rests upon the idea that we can be as good as our fathers were, by doing simply what they did. This is a very serious mistake, a mistake which should be well understood, and which we shall endeavor to point out.SITI February 12, 1885, page 104.5

    The principle that governs the acceptance of all our actions is expressed in this scripture: “If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12. And it is illustrated in the Saviour’s words: “If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak [margin, excuse] for their sin.” John 15:22. These people living according to what light they had, were accepted of God, but Jesus came speaking the word of God as never man spake, which their fathers had not heard, bringing great light which their fathers had not seen, and when they rejected this light, this additional truth, they had no excuse for their refusal to receive it. And the words of Jesus that “they have no excuse for their sin,” is a plain notice to all people that each one individually is responsible for the truth which is brought to his notice, and that the Lord will accept no excuse for its rejection. In the Judgment the question to us will not be what our fathers did, but what did we.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.1

    The work of the Reformation has been progressive. From the extreme darkness into which the world had been plunged by the supremacy of the papal church, the light of the truth of God has been advancing step by step, from the energetic protest of Luther and his associates, through the like action of his successors, until our own day. And they who still endeavor to carry forward the work of the Reformation are the true Protestants. But as we have before shown, this can be done only by persistently asserting the supreme authority of the Bible, the word of God, the whole word of God, and nothing but the word of God. And when, in the onward march of the Reformation, additional light shines forth from portions of the word of God, when truths are brought forth which have hitherto been in obscurity, it is the most un-Protestant of all actions to present the plea that our fathers did not do thus and therefore we need not, and thus seek to evade the truth and refuse to walk in the light. If such a plea be allowable at all it were so in the ages that have gone before, and the Reformation would have ended where it began; nay, it never could have even begun. So such argument, logically considered, lands us plumply upon Catholic ground; in fact, the same argument was used by the Catholic defenders in their opposition to Luther and his work; in short, it is a Catholic and not a Protestant plea.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.2

    It is true that the Jews were a stiff-necked and rebellious people, but that is only to say that they were human. Yet, though they were often rebellious, they were, likewise, at times, willing and obedient; and one of these occasions of their willing obedience is one of the most apt illustrations of this subject that we find in the Bible. In the eighth chapter of Nehemish, after the people had returned from Babylon, we read that they all gathered together as one man into the street, and spake to Ezra “to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded to Israel.... And he read therein ... from the morning until midday; ... and the ears of all the people were attentive unto the book of the law... And on the second day ... they found written in the law which the Lord had commanded by Moses, that the children of Israel should dwell in booths in the feast of the seventh month; and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. So the people went forth, and brought them.... And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths.” Now here is the point: “For since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so.” Certainly there, if ever, the plea would have been justifiable, that “our fathers did not do this, and why should we?” for since the days of Joshua—under Gideon, and Barak, and Samson, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and David, and Elijah, and all the prophets but Malachi—the children of Israel had not done this, and these knew it. But they asked no question, they made no plea, about what their fathers had done; here was the duty plainly written, and when they read it they immediately set about obeying it. The word of God said it, and that was enough. It was their duty to do it, if never a person in the world had done it.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.3

    So it is with us. The word of God says plainly “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.” So far as we are concerned, it is our duty to keep the seventh day—the Sabbath of the Lord—whether our fathers kept it or not. Yea, even though it had never been kept by a man in this world, it would be just as absolutely our duty to keep it as though it had been kept by every person who ever lived in the world. God has commanded it, it is therefore our duty; and we repeat, our duty is to be regulated, not by what men have done, but by what they should have done; by the commandment of God, and not by the actions of man. Unswerving loyalty to the word of God is the sum of the Christian religion, and of Protestantism.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.4

    These principles are indisputable. They are genuine Protestant principles, but before them the institution of the Sunday sabbath cannot stand for a moment. This is clearly proven by the methods employed in defense of Sunday-keeping, the most prominent of which is the universal appeal to the so-called Christian Fathers. One of the fundamental principles of Protestantism is, “We are not to take the Fathers to throw light on Scripture, but Scripture to throw light on the Fathers.”—D’Aubigne, Reformation, Book 9, chap. 5. Yet, in defiance of this principle, all Protestant denominations appeal to these Fathers in support of the Sunday institution, and by that very thing they demonstrate that they are not Protestants. And that is not all. Stuff that the Fathers never wrote is passed off as theirs, and held up as of authority which we are to accept in matters which concern our salvation. It makes no difference, however, whether the Fathers wrote what is attributed to them or not; what they did not write is of just as much authority as what they did write, and that is of no authority whatever.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.5

    Suppose that Ignatius, Ireenus, Clement, Origen, etc., even the whole gang of the Fathers, had said. The first day of the week is the Sabbath, would that prove that it is so? Not by any means. It would simply prove that they said what is false, that is all. The word of God says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath.” That word is truth, and when men say anything that differs from it, they say that which is false. Luther says of the Fathers:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.6

    “When God’s word is by the Fathers expounded, construed, and glossed, then, in my judgment, it is even like to one who straineth milk through a coalsack, which must needs spoil and make the milk black; even so likewise God’s word is of itself sufficiently pure, clean, bright, and clear. But through the doctrines, books, and writings of the Fathers it is very sorely darkened, falsified, and spoiled.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.7

    “Although it becometh not me to censure the Fathers, yet, notwithstanding, the more I read their books, the more I find myself offended; for they were but men, and (to speak the truth) with their repute and authority they did undervalue and suppress the books and writings of the sacred apostles of Christ.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.8

    “Among all the writings of the Fathers, I took most delight to read St. Austin’s [Augustine’s] works; but since the time that (by God’s grace) I understood St. Paul, I could esteem nothing of any Father whatsoever; they are all of very small value.”—Luther’s Table-Talk.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.9

    Melancthon said:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.10

    “How often did not Jerome commit mistakes! how often Augustine! how often Ambrose! how often do they differ in opinion! how often do they retract their own errors! ... There is only one volume inspired by the Spirit of Heaven, pure and true throughout.... There is philosophy enjoined us in regard to the Book of God; and it is, to employ it as the ... one by which all the opinions and maxims of men must be tried.”—D’Aubigne, Reformation, Book 5, chap. 7.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.11

    We will again quote D’Aubigne’s words, for they are peculiarly applicable at this time, and especially in this connection:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.12

    “We are not to take the Fathers to throw light on Scripture, but Scripture to throw light on the Fathers. The Reformers and the apostles held up the word of God alone for light, just as they held up the sacrifice of Christ alone for righteousness. To attempt to mix up human authority with the absolute authority of God, or human righteousness with this perfect righteousness of Christ, is to corrupt Christianity in its two foundations. Such are the two fundamental heresies of Rome, heresies, moreover, which some teachers would fain introduce, though, doubtless, in a modified form, into the bosom of the Reformation.”—Id., Book 9, chap. 5.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.13

    Through the channel of the Sunday-sabbath institution, this which he calls heresy, this “attempt to mix up human authority with the absolute authority of God,” has at last found a large place in “the bosom of the Reformation;” so large, indeed, that when that shall succeed which its most earnest advocates are laboring to accomplish, namely, a penal Sunday law, that which passes as Protestantism will be, not such, but an exact image of the papal church.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.14

    We see, then, that the language used to express and explain that Sunday, or the first day of the week, is the Sabbath, is not the language of the Bible; that in support of this institution of the Bible is not explained by itself, but by tradition and the Fathers, and contrary to itself; and that so the sufficiency of the Scripture is virtually denied; and, as quoted last week. “Those who deny its sufficiency are not in principle Protestants,” therefore it is inevitable that all who maintain the doctrine that Sunday, the first day of the week, is the Sabbath of the Lord, are not Protestants.SITI February 12, 1885, page 105.15

    A. T. JONES.

    “The ‘Pacific’ and the Sunday Law” The Signs of the Times 11, 7, p. 106.

    THE Pacific, of February 4, is out with a defense of the positions of the Congregational Club, which we discussed in the SIGNS of January 22. In defense of the efforts for the re-enactment of the penal Sunday law in California, it attempts the usual distinction between the civil and the religious aspect of the day, and with the usual degree of success. It says:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.1

    “Nothing needs to be made plainer than the distinction between civil Sunday and Christian Sunday.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.2

    It is true that, under the circumstances, nothing needs to be made plainer, but it is a fact that no one who claims such a distinction has ever succeeded in making it plain. Most assuredly it is not made plain in the address of the Ministerial Union. In that there is no hint of a “civil Sunday,” but of a religious one solely. We quote:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.3

    “The friends of the Christian Sabbath are deeply pained in witnessing the high-handed and defiant desecration of all that is sacred and righteous in this holy day. It is hostile to our religion.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.4

    Will the Pacific please take this passage and point out the distinction in it between the civil Sunday and the Christian Sunday? Or will the Pacific take the complete address, as printed in its own columns, and show in it any such distinction at all? In view of these terms, “desecration,” “sacred,” “righteous,” “holy day,” “hostile to our religion,” as used in the address, the plea of the Pacific that the Sunday law is to be “in the interest of such ...” as “health,” “good order,” “the freedom and stability of the commonwealth,” etc., is most lame and impotent.SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.5

    Again it says:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.6

    “The fourth commandment, which designates one day of the seven as specially dedicated to God, remains in our Bible, and we propose to recognize its authority and its wisdom.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.7

    Yes, they are going to recognize the authority of the fourth commandment, by violating it at every opportunity. They propose to recognize its wisdom by totally disregarding it. See:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.8

    “But it is an undeniable fact that that weekly day, in the Christian Church, came to be observed on Sunday rather than Saturday. This was brought about by no express law. It was a spontaneous tribute.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.9

    Here is a plain admission that the fourth commandment enjoins the observance of Saturday; but with “no express law,” by simply “spontaneous tribute,” the Christian church disregards the day enjoined by the commandment, and substitutes Sunday instead. They will break the commandment of God, and then mend the matter by their own merit! They will commit sin and then atone for it by their own “voluntary tribute”! And in this way they propose to recognize the authority of the fourth commandment! Dear Pacific, when you get your penal Sunday law, will you allow us to recognize its authority in this way? If you will we shall be glad. Further, if such is your idea of proper recognition of the law of God, will you please point to a person in this wide world who does not “recognize” its authority?SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.10

    In our discussion of this subject before, we said: “Nothing can be duty toward God, that has not been commanded by God,” because of the words of Christ, “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say ... we have done that which was our duty.” And, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” We stated that, as man can do no more than his duty, and as the commandments of God contain his whole duty, therefore nothing can be duty that is not commanded. The Pacific notes this argument and says:—SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.11

    “The voluntary tribute of grateful hearts to the Redeemer is obedience to command. For gratitude to the Saviour is certainly a duty.”SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.12

    Yes, gratitude to the Saviour is undoubtedly a duty. But we wish to inquire by what principle of righteousness it can be that one duty can do away with another. How is it that gratitude to our Saviour can supplant obedience to our Creator? Is it true that we must obey God in order to obey Christ? that we must dishonor the Father in order to honor the Son? Is gratitude to Christ, and his salvation from sin, best displayed in contempt of God, and his law by which is the knowledge of sin?SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.13

    But this is not all; these people are not content to thus show their own “gratitude;” they want to compel everybody else to show their gratitude in the same way. If they would content themselves with showing their “gratitude” in their own way, and allow others equal liberty, we should not have so much cause of complaint; but when the propose to compel us by fine and imprisonment to show our gratitude in their way, then we most decidedly object.SITI February 12, 1885, page 106.14


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