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    October 20, 1887

    “Conscience and Sunday Laws” The Signs of the Times 13, 40, pp. 631, 632.

    WITH the Sunday-law advocates “there is no recognition of the right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience, but every man must worship according to the dictates of the conscience of the Sunday-law claimant. Yet even this is not entirely the true statement of the case, but rather that every man must worship according to the will of the Sunday-law claimant. We say will, because in this case, as a matter of fact, there is no conscience at all.”SITI October 20, 1887, page 631.1

    That there is no recognition of the rights of conscience in others, is proved by the following quotation from the organ of the National Reform party, the Christian Statesman, of November 1, 1883: “If there be any Christian who objects to the proposed amendment on the ground that it might touch the conscience of the infidel, it seems to me that it would be in order to inquire whether he himself should not have some conscience in the matter.” In the same article it is plainly shown that whoever does not keep Sunday stands in the same position as the infidel; and so it appears that whatever religious rites they may choose to have enforced by law, it must be so wholly out of respect for their wishes who will have it so, with no regard for the consciences of any who differ with them. And now as they so decidedly show that they will not respect our conscience, we propose to show that in this thing, at least, their action does not spring from conscience at all, and that therefore, on their part, there is no conscience for us to respect.SITI October 20, 1887, page 631.2

    CONSCIENCE

    Is defined by Webster’s Unabridged to be “the moral faculty; the moral sense;” and “the English word implies a moral standard of action in the mind.” Now the only moral standard of action for the human mind that there is in existence, is the moral law, the law of God, the ten commandments. That this definition and this statement are strictly in accordance with the Scripture is readily seen by Hebrews 10:15, 16: “The Holy Ghost also is a witness to us; for after that he had said before, this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” “Written ... with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.” 2 Corinthians 3:3. “So then,” says Paul, “with the mind I myself serve the law of God.” Romans 7:25.SITI October 20, 1887, page 631.3

    Again, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.” Hebrews 9:13, 14; 10:22. So then the blood of Christ cleanses the conscience “from dead works,” “from evil,” from sin. But how does the conscience discover that it is defiled by sin? Romans 3:20 answers: “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” And 1 John 3:4: “Sin is the transgression of the law.”SITI October 20, 1887, page 631.4

    Once more; Romans 2:14, 15: “When the Gentiles, which have not the [writte, see context] law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the [written] law, are a law unto themselves; which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness.” When the Gentiles do the things contained in the law, their conscience bears witness. And by doing the things of the law, they show the work of the law written in their hearts, and to that their conscience bears witness. Observe, the conscience bears witness only to the things contained in the law. Therefore as much of the law of God as is in the heart so much conscience a man has, and no more. By these “proofs of Holy Writ,” then, the definition above given is justified, and it is proved that the ten commandments are the moral standard of action of the human mind; that they are the detector of the stains of sin upon the conscience, that they are the great regulator of the conscience; and that, virtually, the law of God is conscience. And by these proofs it is clear that when, out of respect for the law of God, a person does what is commanded in the law, he acts conscientiously. And it is equally clear that when a person, with the law of God before him, chooses to go contrary to the plain reading of the text of the law, he does not act conscientiously, but willfully, and his own will becomes the standard of his mind, and so conscience is shut out.SITI October 20, 1887, page 631.5

    The fourth commandment is the original and only moral standard of action that there is in the world regarding the observance of the Sabbath. It alone is the regulator of the conscience on that subject. By it alone can be detected Sabbath-breaking stains upon the conscience. Obedience to it, out of respect to the commandment and its Author, is conscientious obedience. Disobedience to it, even though we seek to substitute another day, cannot be conscientiousness.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.1

    “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. This commandment is just as plain as it can be written, even by the Lord himself. So that to everyone who can read it, his duty is plain, and he is without excuse in disobedience. There is in it room for only one possible question; that is, What day is the seventh day? and having found it, honestly before God, to obey the word with all our God-given powers; and to such obedience, and to such only, conscience bears witness; such obedience is conscientious.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.2

    Sunday-keeping is no part of the law of God. The Sunday institution is not based upon the fourth commandment; nor is it sanctioned by it. No man can read the first day of the week, the Sunday, into the commandment without destroying the commandment. And outside of the fourth commandment no one claims any commandment for Sunday-keeping in the Bible. They know there is no such commandment in all the Book. Therefore, as there is no commandment from God for the observance of Sunday, as there is no law of God on the subject, its observance cannot be a matter of conscience. Being not of God, there is nothing in it that can be recognized by the conscience, which is of God. Not resting upon the authority of God, it rests upon no authority that the conscience can respect. And there lies the weakness of the Sunday cause. If there were anything in it that would touch the conscience, anything that the conscience could recognize; if it rested upon authority that the conscience could respect, its advocates, moving in the fear of God, would never have need to ask for human laws to compel people to observe it.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.3

    If, then, the Sunday institution and Sunday laws are not founded in conscience, from what do they spring? FromSITI October 20, 1887, page 632.4

    Superstition is defined by Webster: “Extreme and unnecessary scruples in the observance of religious rites not commanded.” In the zeal and the efforts of the National Reform party and of those who demand laws compelling the observance of Sunday, this definition is met exactly. The keeping of Sunday religiously is the observance of a rite absolutely not commanded by the Lord in any place in all his revelation to men. Let them show us a commandment from the Lord for the observance of Sunday and we will willingly and gladly keep it, and do all that we possibly can to get all others to observe it; and thus on our part at least they will have no need of the enactment of laws enforcing its observance. Let them show us from the Bible, Old Testament or New, any such expression in favor of Sunday as that “ye ought” to keep it, or that “I have given you an example that ye should do” it, or that “happy are ye if ye do” it, and we will obey the injunction, and thenceforth will keep Sunday. We will keep it conscientiously. And until they shall open the Bible and show us a command for it, that we may see it and say, This is the word of God, until then we utterly refuse to keep it, civil law or constitutional amendment to the contrary notwithstanding. But they never can produce such a commandment, and they know it, and therefore they will have civil enactments and constitutional amendment to supply their want, and thus seek to remedy the fatal defect.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.5

    More, as we find in the Bible, in the moral law, that great regulator of the conscience, a plain commandment enjoining the observance of the seventh day as the Sabbath of the Lord, our consciences oblige us to keep it so, out of conscientious regard for the authority of the Author of the law. And so long as that commandment stands, and they fail to produce from the word of God a commandment for us to keep the first day, just so long we refuse to give up the observances of that which is commanded, to adopt the practice of that which is not commanded. In other words, and according to the definitions given above, we refuse to yield our conscience for their superstition.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.6

    By some this may be thought strong language. But the question is not, Is it strong? but, Is it true? And the answer must be, according to the Scriptures, and the highest authority in the English language. It is true. And it being also true that for the sake of this superstition, its advocates will annul the chartered liberties of this whole liberty-loving people; liberties which were bought with much blood and untold suffering; liberties for which our fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor; liberties which have been the vital principle in the work of every reformer from the day of Arnold of Brescia to our own; liberties which are the legitimate outgrowth of the Reformation as a whole, and consequent upon the spread of its enlightenment,—when all these must be ruthlessly torn away, and relentlessly crushed out, for the establishment of a superstition, we know of no words that would be too strong by which to characterize it. We cannot sit idly by and see all our so dearly-bought rights so cruelly taken away. They urge the contest upon us, and in the name of civil and religious liberty, in the name of human rights, in the name of conscience, in the name of Him who alone can cleanse the conscience from all stain, and in the name of Him who alone is Ruler of the conscience, we accept the issue. We accept the issue, and in conscience reject the superstition.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.7

    J.

    “Perilous Times” The Signs of the Times 13, 40, pp. 632, 633.

    “IN the last days perilous times shall come,” says the Scripture. 2 Timothy 3:1. That we are in the last days no one can doubt who will give any attention to the word of God on that subject, for that word has spoken so much about the last days that no one who will study can fail to see that the times in which we live are those days. The disciples asked the Saviour, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” Matthew 24:3. He answered, “There shall be signs.” Luke 21:25. They asked for but one “sign,” he said there shall be a number, “signs.” Peter, quoted from Joel, says, “And I will show wonders in heaven above and signs in the earth beneath.” Acts 2:19. These signs are so numerous, and in such places, that everyone who is not warned by them will be without excuse. “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s heart’s failing them for fear, and for looking after those things that are coming on the earth.” Luke 21:25, 26. Now count the number of places where these signs are to be: (1) In the sun, (2) in the moon, (3) in the stars, (4) and upon the earth, (5) and amongst the nations, (6) and upon the seas, (7) and among men themselves, their hearts failing for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth. Men will see these things coming, their hearts will fail them for fear, because of them, yet they will fail to draw from them the only lesson that there is in them, namely, the Lord is coming. He says: “When these things begin to come to pass then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” These things began to come to pass in 1780. Then the sun was darkened, and the moon also, as the consequence. Again, the Saviour said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that he is near, even at the doors.”SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.1

    Now is there any one of these things named by the Saviour as signs which cannot be seen by any one at the present day? It is a historical fact that the sun and the moon were darkened May 19, 1780; and this fact is perpetuated as unexplainable, in each successive edition of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary, the highest human authority in the English language. It is likewise a fact that in November 1833, occurred the greatest star-shower ever known, which fact is perpetuated in the astronomical geographies and treatises, as well as in many other kinds of records. Again, what nation is at ease and in quiet? Not one. Our own nation, the best one of all, is not. It is a fact that there is distress with perplexity as never before in every nation. Mark the expression, “distress of nations, with perplexity.” Webster says, “We are perplexed when our feelings, as well as judgment, are so affected that we know not how to decide or act.” Nations have been grievously distressed before, but they always knew just what to do to relieve themselves. The peculiarity of the present “distress of nations” is the “perplexity”—they do not know how to decide or act; they do not know which way to turn. Therein lies the sign, and nothing below the divine mind of Christ could have penetrated it. “The sea and the waves roaring,” spreading affliction and calamity, and all can see it. “Men’s hearts” are “failing them for fear and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” The cyclones, the water-spouts, and the fearful floods, carrying destruction in their paths, none knowing when nor where they will come, are the very embodiment of that which causes men’s hearts to fail them for fear. There is not one of those signs in the heavens that may not be seen by all, in the most authentic records; and there is not one of these signs upon the earth that is not seen by all in the very fact itself. Be he believer or unbeliever, he does see all these things. This is the fact, but it only points to the other, and most stupendous fact, that the second coming of Christ is at the doors. He says, “When ye shall see all these things, know that he is ... even at the doors.” The people do see all these things. He is at the very doors.SITI October 20, 1887, page 632.2

    But it is not in these things that the peril lies which is referred to in 2 Timothy 3. These evidences only show that we are in the days when the perilous times shall be. The perils are from other causes: “In the last days perilous times shall come for [because] men shall be lovers of their own selves.” And from this root, selfishness, grows the fearful catalogue of eighteen forms of sin, named in the following verses. In the sins of the last days lies the peril.SITI October 20, 1887, page 633.1

    “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Matthew 24:37. “The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.” “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:11, 12, 5. “Every imagination of the thoughts,” on which Dr. Clarke says: “The very first embryo of every idea, the figment of every thought, the very materials out of which perception, conception, and ideas were formed, were all evil.” “And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh.” Again says Dr. Clarke: “They were flesh, wholly sensual, the desires of the mind overwhelmed and lost in the desires of the flesh.” Every desire was fleshly, and every effort was only in the direction of satisfying such desires, with the natural and inevitable result, as the Saviour expresses it, “They were marrying and giving in marriage;” and with nothing in view but the satisfaction of the fleshly desires, it was an easy step to where “they took them wives of all which they chose.” Genesis 6:2.SITI October 20, 1887, page 633.2

    Now let anyone take the divorce records of any of the County or District Courts in the United States, or the statistics which are compiled from these, and in view of the wonderful facility with which divorces are obtained, let him ask himself whether we are not fallen upon such times as were in the days of Noah? whether men do not now take to them wives of all that they choose? In itself marriage is right. It was instituted by the Lord himself. It was the dearest relationship of the human race. It is honorable in all when it is entered into in the fear of God, and when the relationship is maintained in accordance with those sanctions which God has established. But when people are married to be divorced and divorced to be married, all respect for the relationship and its obligations is annihilated, and the institution is destroyed.SITI October 20, 1887, page 633.3

    From this the evil goes on in the descending scale to another stage mentioned by the Saviour, “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot ... even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” Luke 17:28-30. That it is the moral condition of the world that is here referred to, as well as to worldly carelessness and lack of faith in the great event which is to come upon them, is plainly shown in 2 Peter 2, where he is writing of the same things spoken of by the Saviour; after giving the instance of Noah and his times, he takes up Sodom and Gomorrah, and speaks of “just Lot vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked; for that righteous man dwelling among them in seeing and hearing vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds.”SITI October 20, 1887, page 633.4

    Paul also shows that this is the point that is reached in the full development of the perilous times. He says: “For of this sort are they which creep into houses and lead captive silly women, laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.” But he not only shows how it is brought about. “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth.” 2 Timothy 3:6-8. “As [in the same manner] Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses.” By turning to the record in the seventh and eighth chapters of Exodus, we learn that it was by miracles that these men withstood Moses, and Paul says as they did, “so do these resist the truth.” Now if it be so, as all the other scriptures show that we are in the perilous times, for this specification to be met, and thus these positions be fully confirmed, there should be in the world at the present time people who resist the truth (the word of God, John 17:17) by working miracles, showing signs, and doing wonders. It is well known that Spiritualism does these things. It is equally well known that the very first of the efforts of Spiritualism everywhere is to destroy confidence in the Bible as the truth of God, and to resist its obligations upon the people.SITI October 20, 1887, page 633.5

    In speaking of the second coming of the Lord, Paul says, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” This shows that just before the Saviour comes, Satan, by power and signs and wonders, will resist the truth of his coming, and the truth which will prepare a people for his coming. It is thus then that Satan, by miracles and signs, resists the truth of God, and brings to the full the last days as were the days of Noah and the days of Lot. If anyone will know the possibilities of evil that are in Spiritualism, let him read Deuteronomy 18:9-14, with the eighteenth and twentieth chapters of Leviticus, and he will see what it did for those nations which dwelt in Canaan. And when in the last days these same “spirits of devils, working miracles,” “with all power” “go forth to the kings of the earth and the whole world” it is “to gather them to the battle of the great day of God.” Thirty-nine years have these “spirits of devils” been going forth. Soon, very soon, will they gather the nations to the battle of the great day. “Who is on the Lord’s side?” We are in the perilous times. Who will escape? Christ is at the doors. Who is ready when he shall knock to open to him immediately? Luke 12:36.SITI October 20, 1887, page 633.6

    J.

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