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    January 22, 1885

    “The California Sunday Law Again” The Signs of the Times 11, 4, pp. 57, 58.

    IN the SIGNS of January 1, was printed a note concerning the movement, set afoot in the Oakland churches by Dr. McLean, of the First Congregational Church, Oakland, to secure a re-enactment of the Sunday law, that was repealed two years ago; and it was stated that “Dr. McLean was appointed to read a paper at the next meeting of the Congregational Club, on ‘How to Get a Suitable Sunday Law.’”SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.1

    Of that next meeting we have quite a full report in the San Francisco Chronicle of January 6, and knowing that all our readers are interested in this subject, we insert the report, with some comments of our own. The Chronicle says:—SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.2

    “At the meeting of the Ministerial Union yesterday morning, Rev. Dr. McLean presented the subject of a Sunday law, and desired to have an expression of opinion on the part of the members of the union, as to the feasibility of attempting to secure the re-enactment of the late Sunday law of the Penal Code, or one similar to it. He said he appeared as chairman of a committee, appointed by the Pastors’ Union of Oakland, to confer with the Ministerial Union and take such action in the matter as might be thought advisable. The four other members of the committee were present and would speak for themselves. For himself he would say that while he felt deeply the necessity of a law for the protection of Sunday from desecration, he had serious and increasing fears that such was the present condition of political parties, and such the state of public opinion on the subject, that any effort made at this time to secure the passage of such a law as was needed would prove fruitless. But this was certain, at least, that the subject ought to be presented by the pastors in their pulpits, and the public conscience brought up to that point where such a law could be enacted and enforced. The other members of the committee expressed their views, most of them in favor of immediate and vigorous action for the re-enactment of the Sunday law, and hopeful of its success. Several members of the union followed with brief remarks, chiefly in favor of entering upon an immediate agitation of the subject, looking to the enactment of a penal Sunday law by this Legislature, and, on motion, a committee of five was appointed, from as many different denominations, to act at once in the matter, preparing petitions to send through the State, and also a draft of such a law as is desired. This committee is composed of Rev. Dr. McLean (Congregational), Rev. Dr. M. M. Gibson (Presbyterian), Rev. Dr. Sines (Methodist), Rev. Dr. Gray (Baptist), and Rev. Mr. Githens (Episcopal).”SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.3

    In the Pacific, and the California Christian Advocate appears what we suppose to be an address of the Ministerial Union, to which is appended a resolution that was adopted at the aforementioned meeting. The address says:—SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.4

    “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. We cannot shut our eyes to this evil without incurring a fearful responsibility. It is time for action. We hope therefore that the following resolution will receive the prompt and hearty indorsement of the brethren throughout the State:—SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.5

    Resolved, That the Ministerial Union of San Francisco, hereby requests each Preachers’ Meeting, or Association of Ministers, in the State, to unite in agitating the subject of securing some proper legislation in favor of a judicious Sunday law; and that the pulpits of the State are requested to present this subject on (or as near as possible to) the last Sunday in January.”SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.6

    But the most interesting part of the proceedings in that day’s meetings, is contained in the rest of the report as given in the Chronicle:—SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.7

    “In the afternoon the Congregational Club held its usual monthly meeting. The discussion turned on the same general subject, but took a theological turn, the principal point being the ground upon which Sunday observance should be based. Rev. Mr. Macy, of the Green Street church, opened the proceedings with a paper in which he based the observance of Sunday strictly on Scripture authority, treating it as the legitimate successor of the Sabbath and made binding by the four commandment.”SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.8

    It seems that the case stands thus: The Pastors’ Union is composed of all the pastors of Oakland; the Ministerial Union is composed of all the pastors of San Francisco; and the Congregational Club is composed of the Congregational ministers of both Oakland and San Francisco, but who, at the same time, are members of the Pastors’ or Ministerial Union as the case may be. Now in the forenoon of January 5 these ministers all meet together in behalf of their respective Unions, and are “deeply pained at the desecration of all that is sacred and righteous in this holy day” (Sunday), and all favor “immediate and vigorous action for the re-enactment of a penal Sunday law.” Then in the afternoon of the same day, they meet and discuss the question, Why should Sunday be observed at all? They first decide to compel everybody to do a certain thing, and then ask why it should be done.SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.9

    But that is not the worst; they cannot agree among themselves as to why Sunday should be kept. Rev. Mr. Macy, who opened the discussion, makes Sunday “binding by the fourth commandment.” As the fourth commandment says plainly, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,” it must be that Mr. Macy holds that the commandment to keep the seventh day can be obeyed by keeping the first day. Then let us carry the principle a little further. Suppose he, with others, succeeds in obtaining the enactment of a law in the State of California, which will command all to “keep the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday;” will he allow that we can obey that law by keeping the seventh day? If not, why not? If by keeping the seventh day we could not obey the law of California which enjoined the observance of the first day, how can he, by keeping the first day, obey the law of God which enjoins the observance of the seventh day? And why will men persist in presenting to the court of the Most High and against the law of God, a plea that would not be admitted in the court of a justice of the peace, against the law of California? We are not surprised at all at the remark that follows: “Several of the clergy who followed differed with him widely.” It is difficult to conceive how anybody could agree with him, who was able, and had any disposition to reason.SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.10

    “Rev. Professor Mooar, of Oakland, said he did not rest the observance of Sunday on any positive command. The observance was a voluntary tribute on the part of Christians to Jesus and his resurrection. If there had been a transfer of Sabbath obligation from the seventh day to the first, it would have been so stated, plainly, somewhere in the New Testament. Rev. John Kimball agreed with Dr. Mooar, and so did Rev. Dr. Sexton, of London, England, a visitor to the Club.”SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.11

    And so do we. It is the absolute truth that Sunday observance rests on no command of Scripture. It is a “voluntary tribute” on the part of men which makes void the commandment of God, and against which we are directly warned by the word of God. “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility ... after the commandments and doctrines of men, which things indeed have a show of wisdom in will-worship.” Colossians 2:18-23. That is exactly what it is, voluntary humility, and will-worship, self-chosen worship (Conybeare and Howson), and through it, thousands will be beguiled (deluded, deceived, cheated) of their reward.SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.12

    But in the service of God there is no room for any such worship. Christ said: “When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you say ... we have done that which was our duty to do.” Luke 17:10. “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13. No man can do more than his duty. But all that is our duty, God has commanded. Therefore, nothing can be duty toward God, that has not been commanded by God. These men say plainly (and truly) “there is no command for the observance” of Sunday. Therefore it follows that when they demand the power to compel all to keep Sunday, they seek to compel all to do what is not their duty to do. And thus they usurp the authority, and transcend the power, of God.SITI January 22, 1885, page 57.13

    Rev. Dr. Sexton, of London, said further:—SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.1

    “It is an historical fact that the early Christians were wont to go from their Sunday meetings to their ordinary labors. Rev. Joseph Rowell said he agreed with Dr. Mooar, and thought that Justin Edwards, in his ‘Sabbath Manual,’ had unconsciously misquoted the Christian Fathers on this point.”SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.2

    These too are solid truths. It is a fact that the early Christians went to their ordinary labors on Sunday (Acts 20:13-15); and whether “unconsciously” or consciously, it is a fact that Justin Edwards in his “Sabbath Manual” does misquote the Fathers on the Sunday question. These points are not new to us; they have been familiar to Seventh-day Adventists for years, but we are glad to see the truth of our positions admitted by Sunday advocates themselves.SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.3

    “Rev. Professor Dainelle took a different view, and said the observance of one day in seven was a cosmic law and of imperative obligation.”SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.4

    But if it be simply an indefinite “one day in seven,” that is enjoined in the commandment, it was so established by the Lord himself, and what right have the preachers of California to go beyond the Lord, and make the day definite? If the Lord has not fixed the day, what right have they to fix it?SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.5

    In view of the positions taken in this discussion, we would ask, Where is there anything “sacred,” or “righteous,” or “holy” about the Sunday at the desecration of which these gentlemen are so “deeply pained”? Dr. Macy reads a paper in which a position is taken which, if correct, would show that the day is sacred, that it is holy. But immediately he is followed by a half-dozen, or more, men, all of whom dispute the truth of his position, and assert that there is “no positive command” for its observance, that it is “a voluntary tribute on the part of Christians,” etc.; all of which shows decidedly that the observance and obligation of the day are only of human origin and authority, and that therefore the day lacks every element of sacredness, of righteousness, or of holiness. And these men in thus asserting and maintaining the human origin and obligation of the Sunday institution, in that assert that theirs is a “self-chosen” worship. If they would stop there, if they would content themselves with their “self-chosen worship,” and allow others equal liberty of choice, we could have no cause of complaint; but when they go beyond this and seek by penal law to compel everybody else to do as they choose, then we solemnly protest, and much more when they would compel us to do this in positive disregard of the plain commandment of the Lord himself, spoken with his own voice, and written with his own hand.SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.6

    It appears, therefore, that what causes these reverend gentlemen to be so “deeply pained” is that they can’t have their own way; and so they labor and long for a “penal law,” by the vigorous enforcement of which they can compel all people to comply with their wishes. And we have no doubt that they will be “deeply pained” until this is accomplished. Others have had a like painful experience. Paul III was “deeply pained” that any would not submit to the church, and so he established the inquisition. Torquemada was “deeply pained” that there should be any Jews in Spain, so he must have an edict issued banishing every Jew and Jewess, man, woman, and child, unless they would become papists. Innocent III. was “deeply pained” that in Languedoc and Provence there was a “high-handed and defiant desecration of all that was sacred and righteous in the holy” church, and so the Albigenses were extirpated. Innocent VIII. and his successors for four hundred years were all “deeply pained” that in the valleys of Piedmont there was a people whose practices were “hostile to their religion,” and so against the Waldenses there was kept up a perpetual crusade. But why specify? The history of the papal church is simply a series of just such “deeply painful” experiences as these Oakland and San Francisco pastors and their co-laborers in the United States now have. And in every instance relief was sought in the same way that these seek it, namely, by the power of penal statutes of the civil law. Question: In what single thing do Protestants now protest against the work of the papal church? ALONZO T. JONES.SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.7

    NOTE.—Since the foregoing was put in type, we have received the Herald of Truth (Baptist), of January 15, in which we find the following from the editor, Dr. G. S. Abbott:—SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.8

    “‘The Sabbath Question,’ as discussed in the Congregational Club, of San Francisco, brought out many variant opinions, showing at least large freedom of thought. We expect to find that the discussion has furnished our Seventh-day Adventist friends a feast of lean, instead of fat things. It was that kind of a feast, in some respects, to us.”SITI January 22, 1885, page 58.9

    A. T. J.

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