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    May 20, 1886

    “Dr. Munhall on the Sabbath” The Signs of the Times, 12, 19.

    E. J. Waggoner

    We had the pleasure one day last week of listening to a “Bible-reading” on the Sabbath question, given by Dr. L. Munhall, the evangelist who has been holding revival services in San Francisco for several weeks. It was advertised to be a Bible-reading, but was, in fact, a short sermon, with a few more Scripture quotations that are usually heard in the popular modern sermon. The “reading,” however, was more pointed and interesting than any other Sabbath study we ever heard from a first-day preacher.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.1

    The Doctor began by saying that the law of the Sabbath was given long before Mount Sinai. He quoted Exodus 16:25, 26: “And Moses said, Eat that to-day; for to-day is a Sabbath unto the Lord; to-day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none.” “These words,” said the speaker, “indicate that the Sabbath was not first given at Sinai, but was kept before. The law of the Sabbath is as old as creation. The Fourth Commandment found in Exodus 20:8-11, connects itself with what was said at the first, recorded in Genesis 2:1-3, and makes good the law that obtained among God’s people even before the thunders of Sinai. The Sabbath was the seventh day of creation.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.2

    In the above paragraph we have given the exact expressions of Mr. Munhall. No one could have made a better statement on the case, for it is the exact truth. The speaker then read the following texts:SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.3

    “Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing [plowing] time and in harvest thou shalt rest.” Exodus 34:21.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.4

    “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord; whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.” Exodus 35:2.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.5

    “These,” said Mr. Munhall, “are explicit statements with reference to the Sabbath law. We are to cease on the Sabbath from our usual daily employments. The Sabbath is to be a day of rest. It is not to be spent in idleness, sleeping half the forenoon, eating a big dinner, and taking a buggy ride in the afternoon. Rest don’t mean idleness. But the Sabbath is to be spent in work for God, because it was hallowed by him.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.6

    The Doctor then read Nehemiah 10:31; 13:15, as another point on the way the Sabbaths should be kept. They read thus: “And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day; and that we would leave the seventh year, and the exaction of every debt.” “In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the Sabbath day; and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.7

    On these texts the following strange comments were made: “This touches a point that needs to be noted by Christian people. Some of you will send your children to market on Sunday morning for meat. Or you will step into a cigar store, or stop and get a glass of soda on your way home from church on Sunday. But you will say, ‘Suppose I should forget to get my beefsteak on Saturday night; but not be necessary to get it on Sunday morning?’ You have no business to forget. If you do forget, you must go without. Every desire of a heart and stomach is not to be gratified at the expense of God’s law. If your grain will spoil if you don’t work on Sunday, then lose your grain. If you are a produce dealer, and your provisions will spoil if you don’t work on Sunday, then use your provisions. Obey God.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.8

    To the last sentence in the above paragraph we can hardly subscribe. So we could to all the rest, if the speaker had used the word Sabbath instead of Sunday. He had previously said that the seventh day was set apart at creation, and that was kept by the people of God before the commandment for its observance was given upon Mount Sinai. Of course the seventh day must have been kept by God’s people after the specific law for its observance had been given amid the thunders of Sinai; and this is allowed by Mr. Munhall, for later in his discourse he said that no day but the seventh day is the Sabbath. How then can he learn from Exodus 34:21; 35:2; Nehemiah 10:31, and 13:15 how Sunday should be kept? We agreed that the things of which he speaks ought not to be done on the Sabbath, because God has forbidden them. “Obey God,” says Mr. Munhall. So we say; and therefore we refrain from labor on the seventh day of the week, as God as commanded. But how can a man obey God by doing something which God never commanded? Impossible. Mr. Munhall exhorts the people to obey God by refraining from labor on Sunday, and in the same discourse tells them that “there is no ‘Thus saith the Lord’ for the observe of Sunday,” and that “the Sabbath has never been transferred from the seventh to the first day.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.9

    But a still more wonderful exposition followed. The Doctor said: “I may be called a Puritan, because of my rigid observance of Sunday. Very well, I am willing. There are specific reasons in God’s word why this they should be kept. Exodus 20: He says: ‘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.’ God has hallowed this day. Because he has hallowed it, we must keep it holy.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.10

    God has hallowed the seventh day, and therefore we must keep the first day holy! If the Doctor had designed to give us an example of a non sequitur, he could not have done better. Yet he was in sober earnest. God commands us to do a certain thing, and we obey him by doing something directly contrary! People never reason that way in regard to the laws of men.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.11

    Ezekiel 20:12: “Moreover all so I gave them my Sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they may know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.” On this text, the Doctor made the following true statement: “Unless we observe the Sabbath as God has directed, we shall forget God. There was never a nation that ignored the Sabbath that did not forget God. France is an example, and the same thing is coming upon this country. [The speaker then quoted Exodus 31:15, 16; Nehemiah 13:18; and Ezekiel 20:20, 21.] These also have direct reference to God’s ancient people, and to the troubles that came upon them because they violated the Sabbath. Their land was filled with mourning. The Sabbath was made for men (Mark 2:27), for the welfare of society. The violation of the Sabbath always brings trouble. Look at the riots in Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. In the cities the Sabbath is almost universally trampled under foot. There will also be riot and bloodshed in San Francisco if the Sabbath is not observed better. Show me a city where there is riot and bloodshed, and I will show you one where the Sabbath is disregarded.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.12

    It is true if that the violation of the Sabbath is always accompanied by forgetfulness of God. If all people kept the Sabbath, there would be no heathenism, and prosperity might be expected. But Sabbath-keeping is not a national, but an individual affair. That is, a nation, in its national capacity, cannot keep the Sabbath. A nation can be said to keep the Sabbath only when all the individuals composing a nation are Sabbath keepers. And when any considerable number of people in a nation do not observe the Sabbath, any number of legislative acts in favor of Sabbath-keeping will not make that nation a Sabbath-keeping nation. The same is true with regard to any other which God requires.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.13

    But it is the keeping of the Sabbath that makes people know the true God. Now Doctor Munhall himself declares that the seventh day, and that only, is the Sabbath. It alone was rested upon by the Creator; the seventh day alone was blessed by him; and the seventh day, and no other, was by the Creator appointed to be kept holy. No other day could be kept holy, because no other day was ever made holy. How then is it possible for Dr. Munhall, while acknowledging all these facts, to say that the disregard of Sunday is responsible for the prevailing godlessness? Further: Since the keeping of the Sabbath is the only evidence given to indicate that people know God, must we not conclude that the keeping of the day which is not the Sabbath, and the consequent profanation of the only day which God ever appointed as the Sabbath, is evidence that people have largely forgotten God? It cannot be otherwise. And when a nation goes so far as to enjoin the observance of Sunday, then we may know that God is practically ignored. And still further: When we find legislators and ministers of the gospel combining to enact laws devoting the Sabbath of God’s appointment to pleasure, in order that men may rest on Sunday, concerning which God has said nothing except to command us to work upon it, we have overwhelming evidence that men are not only ignoring God, but that they have so forgotten him that they can heap insult upon him without the slightest fear of his power. “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.” Most true it is that terrible judgments are coming upon this land because of the insults which the people have offered to the one great Lawgiver; and we cannot help trembling for the fate of men who use their influence as ministers of the gospel to induce people to disregard the true Sabbath of the Lord for a day which they acknowledge has no “Thus saith the Lord” in its behalf. W.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.14

    (Concluded next week.)

    “The Bible vs. Mythology” The Signs of the Times, 12, 19.

    E. J. Waggoner

    Among Christian people of modern times nothing is more common than to speak of death as a river. It is spoken of as “the dark river,” “death’s river,” “the dismal flood,” etc. people have died are said to have “crossed the river,” or “passed over to the other side.” Of course these terms can be used only by those who believe the paradox at death men still continue to live. They believe that death is but the entrance to life, and therefore they sing, “Death is the gate to endless joy,” and, “‘Tis but the voice that Jesus sends to call us to his arms.” In harmony with this idea, also, they sing, “Shall we meet beyond the river?” meaning, shall we meet after death?SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.15

    Now every Bible student ought to know that these expressions are entirely unscriptural. Death is not the gate to enldless joy, but an enemy. See 1 Corinthians 15:26. It is not the voice that Jesus sends to call us to his arms, but something that is under the control of the devil. Hebrews 2:14. Christ gained the power and the right to call his children to his arms only by gaining the victory over death. Hebrews 2:14, 15; Revelation 3:18. Death is not a river across which the righteous are ferried to the realms of bliss, but a voracious monster by which they are held until the last trump releases them from its cruel grasp. 1 Thessalonians 4:16; 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; Hosea 13:14. And then this last enemy shall be destroyed. Nowhere in the Bible is death likened to a river.SITI May 20, 1886, page 294.16

    Whence then did these expressions arise. Some, no doubt, think that the figure comes from the Israelites crossing the river Jordan into the land of Canaan. But that is a mistaken idea. 1. Although the entering of the Israelites into Canaan was a type of the entering of the saints into their final inheritance, we have seen that death is not the gate to that inheritance, and that some will receive their inheritance without seeing death. See 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. Therefore the river Jordan cannot be a type of death. 2. Even if it were a type of death, the popular idea would not hold, because the river was cut off, so that the Israelites went over dry shod. 3. There was no change whatever of the condition of the Israelites after the cross the river. The entire absence of any Bible comparison of death to a river, and the fact that death is emphatically stated to be an enemy, and that it is not in any sense the boundary of of our eternal inheritance, show that the popular expressions for death have no Bible foundation.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.1

    If we study heathen mythology, however we find the origin of these terms. Among the heathen, the river Styx encircled the abode of the dead. In order to get to this abode, the departed had to be towed over the Styx in a ferry managed by Charon who, demanded an obelus, about three cents, as his fee. To provide the soul with the necessary means to defray his expenses to hades, an obelus was always placed in the mouth of the dead person. From this heathen custom arose the modern practice of calling death a river, and of speaking of the dead as having passed to the other shore, or as having been watted over the river.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.2

    Now we have no objection to this. Indeed, we think that it is eminently fitting that those who hold to the heathen doctrine of natural immortality should use heathen terms in speaking of it. Nevertheless, the users of such language sometimes get mixed in their metaphors, as is evident from the following extract from a communication written by Dr. William Dean to the Watchman:-SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.3

    “Yesterday I stood on the banks of the dark river to help a young man of twenty-nine years, a New York broker, into the ferry-boat to take him over to the other side. As he was moving out, his young wife stretched out her arms and caught him, exclaiming, in her anguish, ‘-, don’t go! I cannot let you go. If you must go, take me with you.’ This departure reminded me that I was sent to cross the same river, and gave rise to a train a serious reflections.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.4

    The mixture of the literal and the figurative in the above paragraph is amusing. For instance, are we to suppose that the Doctor was himself at the point of death? That is what is usually meant when a person is said to be standing on the brink of “the dark river.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.5

    Again, when the Doctor says that he was helping the young man into the ferry-boat which was to bear him over the river, are we to understand that he was trying to hasten the young man’s death? We have never heard it claimed by even the most enthusiastic believer in the doctrine that “death is the gate to endless joy,” that it is allowable to kill a good man in order to get into heaven sooner. The Doctor’s conduct ought to be inquired into.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.6

    But the next sentence is more wonderful still: “As he was moving off, his young wife stretched out her arms and caught him, explaining in her anguish, ‘—don’t go! I cannot let you go!’” How was this? Was the young man about to cross the river bodily? We never supposed that Charon’s craft was staunch enough to carry anything more substantial than an immaterial spirit. The language would indicate that his body was about to make the attempt to accompany the spirit to the “other side.” Or are we to infer that the young wife caught her husband’s immaterial spirit in her arms? If so, it was a remarkable case of materialization. We hope that in a future letter the Doctor will give us more of the details of this affair. He ought at least to tell us plainly whether he killed the young man or not.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.7

    The only moral which we shall draw from this narrative is that professed Christians ought not to mix their faith with heathen doctrines and mythological expressions. Leave such things to the unenlightened heathen, but let Christians follow the doctrines and use the language of the Bible. W.SITI May 20, 1886, page 295.8

    “The Church and Boycotting” The Signs of the Times, 12, 19.

    E. J. Waggoner

    The Fresno Democrat thinks that Judge Sawyer’s decision that boycotting is conspiracy, is not just, and says:-SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.1

    “A peaceful boycott against them [the Chinese] and those who employ them was commanded by the Sacramento Convention. This is clearly lawful, and even were it not, no number of statutes could prevent it. If this style of boycott is declared against the laws, where will the matter end? Church organizations may be prosecuted for declaring war against theaters, dancing-halls, and the like, and temperance organizations may be held to answer for putting the whiskey-shops under their ban. Such strange construction of law would lead us into foolish and dangerous straits.”SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.2

    The above simply shows how terribly muddled political journals are apt to become when they attempt to enunciate principles of religion. Boycotting the Chinaman, who has as much right to protection from this country as any other person has, and boycotting those who refuse to boycott the Chinese, is no more to be compared with the opposition of the church to theaters, saloons, etc. than Herr Most’s incendiary speeches are to the preaching of the gospel.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.3

    Any man, or any number of men, may decline to deal with any other person or number of persons. No one has a right to compel them to trade where they do wish to; but by the same rule they have no right to try to compel others not to trade where they may wish to. This last is just what boycotting is; and any candid man must admit that it is not straining a point in the least to say that for a number of men to combine to rule on another’s business is conspiracy.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.4

    The opposition of the church and the temperance society to theaters, saloons, etc., has no such characteristics. Christians are by their profession pledged to abstain from all evil; and knowing that theaters and saloons are only evil in their nature, they shun such places. They also endeavor to induce others to shun evil places and associates. But no Christian boycotts either the saloon-keeper or his victim. One who follows the teachings of Christ will be as ready to assist a saloon-keeper if he is in distress as he will one who is in a respectable business; and while rendering this assistance, the Christian will try to turn a man from the evil of his ways. Much less does the Christian refuse all intercourse with the man who may patronize the theater or the saloon. His very profession requires him to “do good unto all men;” and the Master has set the example of kindness to the erring. Therefore when a man compares the work of the church with that of boycotting leagues, he shows that he has no knowledge whatever of Christianity.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.5

    We have said that no Christian boycotts either the saloon or the theater. Much less will a Christian boycott one who is pursuing a legitimate business, and is doing no injury to anyone. But we are compelled to admit that many people who profess Christianity, and whose names are on some church roll, do advocate the boycott. We have heard the boycott advocated from the pulpit, as the Chinese were not the ones against whom the boycott was to be directed. Neither were the saloons and theaters to be boycotted, unless they kept open on Sunday. In fact, it was urged that all who did any business on Sunday, no matter how legitimate that business might be, should be boycotted. The lack of Christianity in this proposed boycott was manifest from the fact that the foulest dives were not to be molested if they kept closed on Sunday.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.6

    We believe that erelong a large part of the professed church of Christ will go into this business of boycotting. The beloved apostle, looking in prophetic vision to near the end, saw a decree go forth “that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark of the beast, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:17. But of one thing we are certain, that no Christian will ever engage in any such business. When the keeping of Sunday is made a test of citizenship, as is desired by the Religious Amendment Party, then hypocrisy will be at a premium; then the church and the world will be identical; and then boycotting and other kindred abominations may be carried on under the name of religion. W.SITI May 20, 1886, page 296.7

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