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    February 10, 1890

    “A Sunday Law for the District of Columbia” The Signs of the Times, 16, 6.

    E. J. Waggoner

    On the 6th of January, Mr. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, introduced into the House of Representatives a bill which is entitled, “A Bill to Prevent Persons from Being Forced to Labor on Sunday,” which was read twice, and referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia. It reads as follows:-SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.3

    “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representativess of the United States of America, in congress assembled, that it shall be unlawful for any person, or corporation, or employe of any person or corporation, in the District of Columbia, to perform any secular labor or business, or to cause the same to be performed by any person in their employment on Sunday, except works of necessity or mercy; nor shall it be lawful for any person or corporation to receive pay for labor or services performed or rendered in violation of this act.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.4

    “Any person or corporation, or employe of any person or corporation, in the District of Columbia, who shall violate the provisions of this act, shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not more than $100 for every such offense; provided, however, that the provisions of this act shall not be considered to apply to any person or persons who conscientiously believe in and observe any other day of the week than Sunday as a day of rest.”SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.5

    The bill is misleading in its nature. To give the proposed law the appearance of moderation and benevolence, it is entitled, “A Bill to Prevent Persons from Being Forced to Labor on Sunday.” If that were really what the framers of that bill are exercised over, they might save their labor; for there is no more necessity for a law to prevent people from being forced to labor on Sunday, than there is for a law to prevent them from being forced to wear woolen clothes in the summer-time. If a person wishes to wear woolen in the summer-time, he has the privilege. If he prefers cotton or linen, he can wear that. So, if people wish to labor on Sunday, they usually do; and if they don’t want to, there is no power that can compel them to. For section one of the thirteenth amendment to the constitution says that-SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.6

    “Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.7

    The title of the bill would imply that there are some people in the United States who are compelled to labor on Sunday against their will. If there are any such, they should demand the right which the Constitution of the United States guarantees to them.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.8

    It is a fact that a great many people in the United States labor on Sunday; and it is also a fact that those who labor on that day do so because they do not regard the day as sacred. If they did not labor they would spend the day in amusement. That the bill does not mean what its title says, is further shown by the very first clause, namely, that it shall be unlawful for any person or corporation, etc., to perform any labor or business. Anyone would naturally suppose that a capitalist or company of capitalists would not be in a position to be forced to labor by anybody. They can labor or not as they choose. And when they labor on Sunday it is because they choose to, and not because they are forced to. Therefore when the bill says that it shall be unlawful for anybody to perform labor on Sunday, it contradicts its title, which says that its purpose is to prevent people from being forced to labor on that day.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.9

    Again, why is the adjective “secular” used before “labor or business”? Why is it that only secular labor or business is to be forbidden on Sunday? Secular is the opposite of religious; and the reason why secular labor is specified is that Sunday is regarded as a sacred or religious day, upon which it is by many considered wicked to perform secular labor. Therefore the bill spears on the face of it to be in the line of religious legislation.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.10

    The fact that this is simply a piece of religious legislation is further shown by the exemption at the close of the bill, where it is provided that the act “shall not be construed to apply to any person or persons who conscientiously believe in and observe any other day of the week than Sunday, as a day of rest.” Civil government has nothing whatever to do with the conscience of men. But this bill takes into account conscientious convictions. It is a bill for the purpose of compelling everybody to conscientiously observe some day of the week as a day of rest, or, if some have no conscience in the matter, to compel them to act as though they had.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.11

    So far as the exemption is concerned, it amounts to nothing. If the bill should become a law, the condition of things would be the same as it is now; for since the world stood, nobody ever heard of a Sunday law being enforced, when it had an exemption clause. If it is determined to compel people to observe Sunday, the clause must be left out. If the exemption is retained, and the bill passes, it will be a nullity. In showing the inconsistency of this bill, we make no reflection on the honorable member who drew it up. He doubtless did the best he could with a bad job. The statesman never yet lived who was wise enough to frame a Sunday law which should be consistent with itself and with civil rights. E. J. W.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.12

    “Letter to the Hebrews. Chapter 9:15-20” The Signs of the Times, 16, 6.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Lesson 21, February 22, 1890.)

    1. What was effected by the blood of the old covenant?SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.13

    2. Was any sin ever removed by that covenant?SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.14

    3. What can the blood of Christ accomplish?SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.15

    4. What provision is made for transgressors under the first covenant? Hebrews 9:13.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.16

    5. What law did they transgress under the first covenant?SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.17

    6. Then if Jesus is Mediator for their transgressions, in behalf of what law is he the Mediator?SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.18

    7. By what means did he become their Redeemer? Verse 15.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.19

    8. Who are meant by them which are called? Ans.-All, of all ages and nations, to whom the word of salvation comes, or whom the Spirit of God moves to accept the word. See Acts 2:39.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.20

    9. What may they receive through the priesthood of Christ? Hebrews 9:15. See note.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.21

    10. What is necessary where there is a testament? Verse 16.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.22

    11. Why is this the case? Verse 17.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.23

    12. How was the old covenant ratified? Verse 18.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.24

    13. What did Moses speak to the people? Verse 19.SITI February 10, 1890, page 82.25

    14. Where is this transaction recorded? Exodus 24:3-5.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.1

    15. What did Moses send young men to do? Verse 5.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.2

    16. Of what did their burnt-offerings consist? Compare Hebrews 9:18.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.3

    17. What did Moses do with the blood?-Ib., Exodus 24:6, 8.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.4

    18. With what did he sprinkle the blood?SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.5


    Verse 15 has a fund of instruction underlying the first glance at the language. It is made very sure that Jesus is the Mediator between the people who lived under the first covenant, and the law which God proclaimed to them, of which they were transgressors. And it is absurd to suppose that God will judge the family of Adam, moral agents, by different moral standards. It is the law given to the Jews, which David says is perfect, that it is righteousness, etc. It is the same law that Solomon says contains the whole duty of man, and by which God will bring every work into judgment. The commandments given to Israel in the wilderness are the lively oracles which Stephen said they received to give unto us. Acts 7:38.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.6

    In verse 15 is again introduced the contrast which was so successfully argued in chapter 4. Though the children of Israel rejoiced that they had had rest from their wanderings, and that the Lord had subdued their enemies before them, and given them homes for themselves and their children, they were yet subject to cares, to sickness, pain, and death. Joshua gave them a temporal rest. But a greater than Joshua had become the leader of his people, and the rest that remains is an eternal inheritance. And God is so wise and merciful in the provisions of his grace that the faithful even under the first covenant may share their inheritance.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.7


    The primitive signification of diatheke, the Greek word translated “covenant,” is “will,” or “testament.” It comes from a word which signifies to put, set, make, to dispose of. Covenant, in the sense generally understood, that of “contract or agreement,” is only a derived meaning. The new covenant is the will and testament of our God, conveying, by as solemn ratification as the death of Christ could make it, what God bequeaths to his children. These things he had promised in the beginning; these promises he had repeated from time to time; but when Christ came the covenant, or the bequeathed blessings, were brought together into the last testament of him who was heir of all, and who gave his life for the world. Voluntarily he died to prove the strength of the promises which God made to his people, and of the great love of God for them. It had ever been sure in the purpose of God, but when Christ died, angels and men could doubt no longer.SITI February 10, 1890, page 91.8

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