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    March 3, 1890

    “Good Words in a Sunday Convention” The Signs of the Times, 16, 9.

    E. J. Waggoner

    In previous numbers of the SIGNS we have shown the fallacy of the idea the civil government may enforce any portion of the moral law, and we have also shown the evil consequences which would necessarily result from an attempt to put such a fallacious idea into practice. We are glad to present in this number a corroboration of our views by a minister of the gospel. And we are the more glad because the argument which we shall quote was made in a Sunday convention, in the second annual meeting of the Sabbath Association of Iowa, which was held in Des Moines, November 12, and 13, 1889. Rev. J. K. Fowler, of Cedar Rapids, gave an address on “The Basis of the Civil Sabbath,” which was printed in full in the Iowa State Register of November 13, from which we quote. Speaking of the laws already existing, and of the Sunday laws which the association is seeking to make, he said:-SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.94

    “If these laws are right, why are they right? There needs to be a clearing up at this point. The ideas of many are vague and faulty as to the genius and intent of these Sunday regulations. Many in the church and out imagine that they prescribe a precept of the Christian religion; that they are simply a transcript of the fourth commandment to our statue-books. More than that, many ardent defenders of the Sabbath justify them on that ground. They say, God has enjoined the observance of the Sabbath, and the State should do the same. But God has demanded that we be good stewards of his bounty, and give liberally to him. Is the State therefore to command this? God has commanded that we be given to hospitality. Is the State to see to it that this be accomplished? God has commanded that we honor one another and in honor prefer one another. Shall the State undertake the enforcement of these divine laws? It is time we had done with arguing for Sabbath legislation before Congress or other legislative bodies on plea of its divine institution and scriptural authority. It is utterly untenable according to the spirit of our charters of government.”SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.95

    In this paragraph the question is fairly stated, and the statement in the closing sentence is correct. After referring to certain judicial decisions on certain laws against crime, the speaker continued as follows:-SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.96

    “The civil law forbids these, not as offenses against God, but as crimes against man. The law has to do with the relations of men to each other, and not with the relations of men to God. To base these Sunday laws thus upon a divine command, as the civil ground, is to that extent to join Church and State, and to violate the fundamental principles of the State and federal governments.”SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.97

    In the above paragraph we have a just distinction made between sin and crime. Sin is the violation of the moral law. Crime is a violation of human law. We wish the reader to notice the latter part of the paragraph just quoted. In agreement with arguments we have before presented, he shows that for the State to base its law upon divine command, or to attempt to enforce any one of the divine commands, is the union of Church and State. This was wholesome truth to present before a Sunday convention. We wish every Sunday convention could listen to similar talk. Mr. Fowler continued as follows, concerning the idea that the State could enact a Sunday law on the basis of the divine commandment:-SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.98

    “But such a basis of the Sunday law is not only illegal, but it may be even unscriptural. The Bible itself does not warrant us in inscribing upon the civil statute-books whatever we find to be the mind of the Lord. The Bible does not give us a divine standard of moral duty, by which we may discriminate between right and wrong. But it also gives a divine model of wise legislation. It shows there are some things reasonable and some unreasonable to undertake by the civil statute, that statutory law is not to be framed always into exact correspondence with the criterion of individual duty. And this scriptural lesson is one of the very first importance for a Christian citizen of a republic like ours to learn.”SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.99

    We wish every citizen of this republic might learn this scriptural lesson. The fact that the great body of the National Reformers desire to have the State attempt to re-enact and enforce the law of God, shows, according to Rev. Mr. Fowler, of Cedar Rapids, that they are very deficient in scriptural knowledge; and in this we agree with him. Again Mr. Fowler said:-SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.100

    “If our zealous, well-meaning, but deluded friends of the Sabbath, desire to defeat the very ends they aim at, they want to push to the front, and press upon the law-makers this scriptural command for the basis of Sunday laws, until a furor of public feeling like that of 1826 again sweeps the country and takes with it every vestige of Sabbath legislation. Many good people, even of these boasted days of religious liberty, fail to understand that the State is not competent to enjoin divine precepts because they are divine. The law against murder is not on the civil statute-books because it is in the decalogue, but because society could not exist without such a law. The law against stealing is not in the civil code because it was found essential to maintain the rights of property. Government exists to secure to men life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, to maintain a peaceful and orderly, a mutual, helpful condition of society. Hence its laws simply aim at these ends. They are passed because of some supposed public need, because it is believed the general good requires them. We are bound thus in the matter of the Sunday laws to stand outside the Bible and argue for them on the same line as all the other laws, because the public need and advantage require them. If we cannot indicate them on these grounds they can claim and deserve no place on the statute-books.”SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.101

    With this also we heartily agree; only one statement might have been made a little stronger, and that is, that laws passed to secure men life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are passed on account of some supposed public need. There can be no supposition about it. If there is to be any public at all, it is an actual necessity that life and liberty be preserved. But in all these paragraphs which we have quoted the speaker has shown a clear perception of the limitations of human government, and we would that all could read his argument and see the force of it, and agree with him that, if Sunday laws are made to stand, it must be because the public good requires them. The next and closing paragraph of this speech shows how impossible it is to make it appear that the public good requires a Sunday law, and that the Sunday should be enforced for the same reason that laws are enacted against stealing. Said he:-SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.102

    “That a law-guarded rest-day is one of these agencies will hardly be questioned by any reasonable man. On that day peace of God settles down over Sabbath-keeping land. The din of labor ceases, and the din of strife and merry-making, and a few quiet hours are given in which the most engrossed and toil-burdened soul may at least have the opportunity, if it will, to worship God and learn of truths that bear upon a right life. Remember that the law makes no attempt to enforce religion, or even religious observance, on Sunday. It simply institutes a weekly civil holiday, and surrounds it with safeguards such as subserve the interests of morality and makes as favorable as possible.”SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.103

    In this paragraph the speaker went against all he had so clearly stated before. His attempt to show that society requires such a law, by stating that on Sunday, if enforced by law, peace settles down over the land, and a few quiet hours are given in which all may have the opportunity to learn of God and truths that bear upon a right life, shows that such laws are at least an attempt to enforce morality. There is not the slightest ground on which a so-called civil Sunday law can be based consistently with justice. If it is said that man needs one day in seven for rest, then we will point to the thousands who are observing the seventh day of the week, and to the scores of thousands who are observing the first day of the week, without any law compelling rest. That is sufficient evidence that no such law is needed. If the law is asked only in order that man may have one day in the week to rest, why is it that many who have strictly and quietly rested on the seventh day have been persecuted for not resting on the first day? They have surely rested one-seventh of the time, and nobody can claim that resting upon the first day of the week will do a man more good than resting upon the seventh. Of course it will be said that the seventh day is not the day that the law recognizes; that the great body of Christians recognize the first day, and therefore the law should demand rest on that day. So then the whole question of the civil Sunday law is given up, and it is admitted that the basis of the law is some supposed superiority of Sunday over other days.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.104

    It needs no argument to show that all the physical good that may be gained by resting on Sunday is gained to an equal extent by resting on Saturday, and as to the good of society we challenge anyone to demonstrate that a society observing the seventh day is not outwardly, to say the least, as good as one which observes the first. But in spite of Mr. Fowler’s little defection at the close of his speech, we think it is a good one, and commend it to the careful perusal of our readers. E. J. W.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.105

    “Letter to the Hebrews. Chapter 10:1-9” The Signs of the Times, 16, 9.

    E. J. Waggoner

    (Lesson 24, March 15, 1890.)

    1. What was the nature of the law of sacrifices? Hebrews 10:1.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.106

    2. Was it exactly like the things of which it was the shadow?-Ib.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.107

    3. What differences were there between the priesthood of Aaron and that of Christ?SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.108

    4. Could the sacrifices of that law make anyone perfect?-Ib.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.109

    5. If they could, what would have been the result? Verse 2.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.110

    6. Why would they have ceased to be offered? Ans.-They would have had the same power as the offering of Christ, and would not have needed to be repeated.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.111

    7. What is meant by their being remembrances of sin? Ans.-Their continued sacrifices were continual acknowledgments of sin. Verse 3.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.112

    8. Why were their sins kept in continual remembrance? Verse 4.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.113

    9. What is Christ represented as saying when he came into the world? Verse 5.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.114

    10. Did this mean that the Lord would not have any sacrifice?SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.115

    11. From what scripture is this quoted? Psalm 40:6-8.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.116

    12. For what can we say a body was prepared him? Ans.-For a sacrifice in contrast with those undesirable ones that could not take away sin.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.117

    13. Where was it written that he should thus come? Hebrews 10:7. The volume of the book doubtless refers to the Pentateuch; for the Saviour said that Moses wrote of him, and that all things written in the law of Moses concerning him must be fulfilled. John 5:46; Luke 24:44.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.118

    14. For what did he say he came? Hebrews 10:7.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.119

    15. What two things are spoken of in verses 6 and 7? Ans.-Burnt-offerings and the will of God?SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.120

    16. What do we learn concerning the will of God in the verse from which this is quoted? Psalm 40:8.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.121

    17. Is the law the will of God? Ans.-There is no difference between the will of God and the law of God. The law of any ruler is his will. See Romans 2:17, 18, etc.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.122

    18. Where did Christ say the law was? Psalm 40:8.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.123

    19. Where did God promise to put his law, in the new covenant? Hebrews 8:10.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.124

    20. Who is the mediator for the fulfillment of this promise?SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.125

    21. Would he make the sacrifice that he did, to accomplish this, if the law were not in his own heart?SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.126

    22. What is meant by his taking away the first? Hebrews 10:9.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.127

    23. What is the second, that he came to establish? See note.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.128


    Verse 9 has also been obscured by the unwarranted additions of theologians, who have put their theories into their translations. In a certain translation of the New Testament, of high pretentions, it is made to read, “He taketh away the first will that he may establish the second.” But there are no two wills spoken of in the text. The rendering is intended to be equivalent to this: He taketh away the first covenant, that he may establish the second. No one is warranted in putting an idea into a text which is not written in the text, merely because the idea may be true. That construction is altogether foreign to the apostle’s train of reasoning. There is a contrast presented throughout in verses 5-9, as follows:-SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.129

    1. “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire.” “I come to do thy will.”SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.130

    He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. In this is found the only contrast in the argument, and it is made very prominent. The sacrifices and offerings of the Mosaic law could not perfect the conscience, could not reform the life, could not write the law of God in the heart. These are taken away, that he may come in whose heart is the law, and who alone can fulfill the promise of the new covenant.SITI March 3, 1890, page 91.131

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