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A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath

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    In a discussion of this kind I am opposed to everyting that is calculated to merely affect the minds of the readers, and especially if it tends to mislead them. I wish to correct a remark made in the opening of Eld. Vogel’s first article. He said, “With him (meaning me) the questions to be discussed are daily themes and daily studies, and have been for years, while with me this is not the case.” Eld. V. cannot possibly know that this is so; it is very far from being correct. Frequently many weeks and even months pass without this subject being either a “theme” or a “study” with me. But how is it with him? He has but recently been engaged in a discussion in which he passed over t he same ground he is now traversing; and therefore he is as well prepared to present his side of the question as any person can be. He accused me of “begging the question.” What is this but begging for a favorable prejudgment?WDUS 27.14

    He said in taking the negative he had only to show that all that I produced is “fully accounted for on the supposition that the sabbath was not enjoined on man” at creation. I consider it safe to say that in this he most signally failed. Not a reason was given-nothing that can properly be called a reason-for denying that God blessed and sanctified the seventh day according to the order of events laid down in the first two chapters of Genesis.WDUS 27.15

    That the view of Genesis 2. that I advocate is the obvious one cannot be denied; and the obvious meaning of scripture is always to be accepted unless there is a necessity for accepting another. No such necessity has been shown; and therefore, as yet, my affirmation stands. But he promised that when he took the affirmative he would make it all clear. We shall see how he will redeem that promise. And now, as I am on the negative, if I can show that his conclusions are not absolutely necessary then the obvious meaning of Genesis 2:3. stands secure.WDUS 27.16

    In his leading article on this second proposition he endeavors to sustain his affirmation in three particulars; (1.) On Exodus 16. (2.) On Deuteronomy 5. (3.) On Nehemiah 9.WDUS 28.1

    1. On Exodus 16. he makes his argument two-fold; by a critical examination of the text, and by parallel scripture expressions.WDUS 28.2

    To draw a safe and correct conclusion in regard to “mutual understanding” or the “general notoriety” of the sabbath in the wilderness he must have positive knowledge and correct views of the actual condition and circumstances of the people at that time. But that this is not the case with him is proven in that he makes several statements in regard to them for which he draws on his imagination, and which are not warranted by the record. A single assumption at this point vitiates his whole argument and renders his conclusions unnecessary. He quotes general rules in regard to the use of the article, and tries to leave the impression on the mind of the reader that these rules are invariable in application, which no scholar will claim. After giving the rules on the use of the article, Crosby says, §489:WDUS 28.3

    “The insertion or ommission of the article often depends, both in poetry and prose, upon euphony and rhythm, and upon those nice distinctions in the expression of our ideas, which, though they may be readily felt, are often transferred with difficulty from one language to another. In general the insertion of the article promotes the perspicuity, and its omission the vivacity of discourse. It is, consequently, more employed in philosophical than in rhetorical composition, and far more in prose than in poetry. It should be remarked, however, that even in prose there is none of the minutiæ of language in which manuscripts differ more, than in respect to its insertion or omission, especially with proper names.”WDUS 28.4

    Instances to almost any extent might be given to justify the above remark, but it is not necessary. Now if a rule be given in order to show the necessity of a departure from the obvious meaning of a scripture, the rule itself must not admit of variation or diversity in practice. But Eld. V. gives his rule to invalidate the obvious conclusion from Genesis 2:3., and he gives a rule which authorities show is not fixed and invariable, and is widely departed from both in the Old and New Testament. He appears like one elated with the discovery of a mine of supposed value, before it has been sufficiently tested to determine its real worth.WDUS 28.5

    It would be some support to his claim if his argument were cumulative; if his other points seemed to show that his application of the rule is just. But the reverse of this is the truth. He quotes several passages wherein are mentioned “a holy convocation,” and attending sabbaths or memorials, to prove that the first mention of an institution is without the article; but these contain no proof, for they were never mentioned in any other manner. If they were it would not be decisive in his favor, but as it is his pretended proof is an element of weakness in his argument.WDUS 28.6

    His reasoning on Exodus 16. is against both the facts and probabilities. He says, “The rulers did not expect a sabbath-it took them by surprise.” There is still room for “surprise” here. How did he learn this? I appeal to the reader whether it is reasonable to suppose that the people gathered a double portion of manna on the sixth day according to the order of the Lord, see verse 5, and “all the rulers” were entirely ignorant of the reason of their so doing? Is it not rather reasonable that the rulers, as faithful overseers, reported to Moses that the will of the Lord had been done in the preparation for the holy sabbath?WDUS 28.7

    In quoting v. 22, he inserts an explanatory clause, (“some of the people.”) The word “some” has a significance in the text, but it does not belong where he places it. He intends to give the idea that the gathering a double portion on the sixth day was an exceptional thing; whereas, the text gives the idea that it was a general thing. “And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating; and when the sun waxed hot it melted. And it came to pass that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one man.” The Lord had said they should do so; verse 5; they did so, and the departures from the order were the exceptions. The facts are entirely against any surprise with anybody.WDUS 28.8

    Again he says, “The people knew nothing of a sabbath.” To make this appear he says that verse 25 was addressed to the people, as the rulers were informed of the sabbath the day before; which is to say that on that sabbath morning was their first knowledge of the sabbath. But he admits that the reproof of verses 28-29 was for breaking the sabbath. But if they knew nothing of the sabbath, and only ‘some of them,” and that to the surprise of the rulers, gathered a double portion on the sixth day, what law had they broken? Indeed, if all he says is correct, they who gathered a double portion on the sixth day were the transgressors, while they who had no bread for the sabbath (if such were the case) had alone acted up to the usual requirement which had not been reversed or amended as yet; for we cannot believe that even some of the people knew that the Lord had commanded them to gather a double portion on the sixth day and that all the rulers were ignorant of that fact.WDUS 29.1

    And again he thinks that if it had been an old institution Moses should have told them all the facts definitely, thus: “To-morrow is the sabbath, the day on which the Lord rested from creation, and which he sanctified for man’s observance. Anything short of mentioning the facts of creation week would have been no explanation.” So he seems to think an explanation was called for. And so I think, if it were at that time a new and unheard-of institution, but not necessarily required if it were an old one. But no explanation was given at that time. Yet when an explanation was given, when the facts and reasons of the sabbath were definitely set forth, the facts of creation only were referred to. On this chapter I further notice,WDUS 29.2

    (1) The Lord had a law at that time, and the precept of that he chose by which to test their loyalty.WDUS 29.3

    (2.) The people were ordered to gather a certain rate of manna every day. This shows that in things secular (or indifferent in a religious view, as Romans 14.,) “every day” does not include the holy sabbath of the Lord.WDUS 29.4

    (3.) Moses approved of their gathering a double portion of manna on the sixth day; saying, “This is that which the Lord hath said, [at some past time] To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the Lord.” As Prof. Rush well observed, it was then the holy sabbath, though no cessation of the manna had yet indicated it, and the individual day then referred to had not yet arrived. It was the sabbath by prior appointment.WDUS 29.5

    (4.) That it was not a new thing is fairly concluded from the reproof, “How long refuse ye to keep my commandments?” This implies a continued desecration of the sabbath. But how, why and when the seventh day became the holy sabbath Exodus 16. does not inform us. Everything essential to sustain the view of Eld. V. is wanting in this chapter. And, when the origin, the blessing and the sanctification of the sabbath are recorded, no reference is made to anything that occured at or after the exode. It has a different basis.WDUS 29.6

    The passover was given to Israel expressly to commemorate their deliverance from Egypt, while the sabbath is a memorial creation. Why go beyond the record and assert what is never revealed? In Deuteronomy 12:19., etc, spoken forty years after they left Egypt, Moses said, “Ye are not as yet come to the rest, and to the inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you.” Was that rest to which the Lord promised to lead them when he brought them from bondage a weekly sabbath? No. They kept the sabbath 40 years in the wilderness before they received that rest. And they kept it forty years before Moses spoke the words which are now relied upon to prove that it was a memorial of the exode. If it was such a memorial they did not know it. They kept it for the reason given, to-wit: that God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day, and therefore blessed and sanctified that day.WDUS 29.7

    2. On Deuteronomy 5. he is equally unfortunate. He tries to make it appear that the exact words of verses 7-21 were written by the Lord on the tables of stone. Every reader knows that Deuteronomy 5:7-21; is not a verbatim copy of Exodus 20:3 [original illegible] 17.; and, also that Moses spoke Deuteronomy 5. in a rehearsal forty years after the Lord spake from Mount Sinai. That Deuteronomy 5. is not the original copy as spoken by the Lord is shown by verse 12, “Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” And that this refers back to Exodus 20. and not to Exodus 16., (as he unwarrantably claims on Exodus 35:2.,) is positively proved by verse 16, “Honor thy father and thy mother as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” No such commandment was given in the wilderness of sin, but it was on Mount Sinai.WDUS 29.8

    He, with others, relies on the word “therefore” in Deuteronomy 5:15., to prove that their deliverance from Egypt was one “stone” on which the sabbath was erected. But this must fail him. The Lord delivered Israel that they might serve him. Exodus 8:1. The obligation to serve him already existed. The rigor of their servitude was such that they could not serve God: and that would interfere with the keeping of the sabbath more than with the observance of any other precept of God’s law. Therefore it is not strange that, when he delivered them he should prove them by this precept, and that he should remind them of their bond-service when he enforced this duty. But this does not prove that that event was the ground of the sabbatic institution or of sabbath obligation, for every moral obligation was enforced upon them by the same special reason-with the same “therefore;” which proves too much for his position. His argument in brief is this,WDUS 30.1

    Premise: The Jews were commanded to keep the sabbath because they were brought out of Egypt.WDUS 30.2

    1st conclusion: Therefore the sabbath was not binding on them before the exode.WDUS 30.3

    2nd conclusion: And, therefore, it was not binding on any other people.WDUS 30.4

    Let us test these conclusions by another scripture. Leviticus 19:35-37., “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight or in measure. Just balances, just weights, a just ephah and a just hin, shall ye have; I am the Lord your God which brought you out of Egypt. Therefore shall ye observe all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them.” See also Deuteronomy 6:20-25; 24:17-18. Upon this we may frame the same argument.WDUS 30.5

    Premise: The Jews were forbidden to do any unrighteousness because the Lord brought them out of Egypt.WDUS 30.6

    1st conclusion: Therefore to do no unrighteousness (or to do righteousness) was not binding on them before the exode.WDUS 30.7

    2nd conclusion: And therefore to do righteousness was not binding on any other people. The same conclusions we must draw in regard to all the commandments he gave to them.WDUS 30.8

    This is the great fault I find with that system of error to which Eld. Vogel is unfortunately committed. Its tendency is to leave everybody who lived before the exode, or who was not personally concerned in it, without the restraint of law, and without obligation to obey God. I am aware that in some respects he disclaims this conclusion. But this disclaimer is in conflict with his reasoning. Why insist, against the direct evidence of Genesis 2., that the sabbath was given to the Jews only, because they were brought out of Egypt, and disregard the truth that every other precept was enforced by the same reason? Blasphemy, or profaning the name of God, is not mentioned in the book of Genesis; and it was the subject of one of the statutes given to Israel because the Lord brought them out of Egypt. According to his argument this was not a general law, but was peculiar to the Jews! And yet he claims that his conclusions are necessary. I think they are very far from it.WDUS 30.9

    3. On Nehemiah 9. he has fallen into a similar error by attaching an unwarranted meaning to the phrase “made known.” This does not necessarily mean the first introduction of a thing, as he avers. In Ezekiel 39:7., the Lord said: “So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel.” This does not imply that it was not before known among them; but rather that it should be more deeply impressed on their minds, for it points to another declaration, “And I will not let them pollute my holy name any more.” They had known it, but they had polluted it; he would now so make it known to them that they would no more pollute it. And this will apply to the sabbath, and to all the statutes given to Israel after the exode.WDUS 30.10

    And Nehemiah 9. says the Lord made known the sabbath when he came down on Mount Sinai, which is strictly correct according to the idea of that expression given in Ezekiel 39:7.; but not according to the idea of Elder Vogel, for it was known to them before they came to Sinai.WDUS 30.11

    But Eld. Vogel undermines his own theory in his comments on Nehemiah 9. He says, “The parallelism shows that ‘madest known’ is a kind of equivalent for ‘gavest’ and ‘commandest.’ Very good. But these terms are applied to all the laws which God gave to Israel; and therefore by his showing, they were all unknown to Israel before the Exode, and none of them binding on any other people! “That which proves too much proves nothing.” Every moral obligation to which they were amenable stands or falls with the holy sabbath.WDUS 30.12

    And this shows that I am correct in regard to the lawless tendency of that theory. Indeed, it needs no confirmation beyond his own words, for he says I did well to say “perhaps” he will claim that the precept, Thou shalt not kill, is directly enforced in the New Testament! Whatever course may be pursued to avoid the natural conclusion from such a position, it will remain true that, to teach that such moral precepts are abolished, and not directly taught or renewed in the New Testament, is to lower the great fundamental principles of morality, and leave minds free from that needful restraint, which the authority of God’s law can alone enforce, and which is so little felt in these days of laxity of morality, of wide spreading delusion, and of gross self-deception.WDUS 31.1

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