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    June 9, 1881

    “Precept and Practice” The Signs of the Times, 7, 22.

    E. J. Waggoner

    An insuperable objection, in the minds of some against the Sabbath of the Lord, and a reason for the observance of Sunday, is the supposed example of the apostles. It is quite a commonly received opinion that the apostles were in the habit of meeting together for worship on the first day of the week, and of using the Sabbath as a secular day. Even a superficial reading of the New Testament by an unprejudiced person, would show the utter fallacy of any such supposition. If apostolic example were our only guide, the weight of evidence would be in favor of the Lord’s Sabbath, for we have accounts of many meetings held on the Sabbath, while we have the record of only one meeting on the first day of the week. But it is urged that the apostles met to preach on the Sabbath because then only could they gain access to the people in the synagogues. This again has hardly the shadow of a supposition to support it, for we read that on one occasion Paul and his companions, on a Sabbath day, “went out of the city by a river side where prayer was wont to be made,” and spoke to the people. Acts 16:13.SITI June 9, 1881, page 258.1

    But it may well be said on either side, that mere example without any precept is not sufficient ground upon which to base faith and practice. To this we heartily agree, and would that our first-day friends would ever abide by it, for precept for Sunday observance is even less than supposed example.SITI June 9, 1881, page 258.2

    But again, our friends say that even though there may be no law in the New Testament for Sunday keeping, there is none for the Sabbath, and, therefore, Christians may do as they please. “If Christ and his apostles,” say they, “had designed that people under the new dispensation should keep the Sabbath, they would have made formal declaration of some law to that effect.” The fact that the law was not thus formally re-enacted is claimed as proof that it was intended to be ignored. Let us see if this be reasonable. Ninety-two years ago the United States’ Constitution, the fundamental law of the land, was ratified. Officers were chosen who administered in the affairs of State under that Constitution. Since that time there have been nineteen different dispensations, and not once has the Constitution been re-enacted. No one has seemed to think it necessary to do so. An act which in the days of Washington would have been treasonable, would be punished as such to-day, and by the same authority now as then. Now if the Constitution of the United States holds good through nineteen dispensations, surely the law of God must remain valid through two. Indeed, a moment’s reflection would convince any one that a law must be in full force until it is formally annulled. And since in the case of the law of God, as in the Constitution, no repeal of the law had been made known, a re-enactment would have been labor thrown away.SITI June 9, 1881, page 258.3

    But some one, following out the illustration, will say that although our legislators do not, at every session or new administration, re-enact the Constitution, they have to affirm their allegiance to it. True, and we shall find exactly the same thing in regard to the law of God in the Christian dispensation. At the very outset we find Christ stating his position in regard to it: “Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Matthew 5:17. Then with divine authority he states that whosoever should break one of these commandments, and should teach men so, should be counted of no esteem in the kingdom of God. Christ’s teaching was ever in accordance with this declaration. See Matthew 19:17; 22:36-40; Psalm 40:7, 8; Isaiah 42:21.SITI June 9, 1881, page 259.1

    We come now to the apostles, and we shall see that they likewise acknowledged their allegiance to the law. Paul was the most prominent among them, and being the “apostle to the gentiles,” he certainly would consider himself exempt from its observance if any of them could. Hear him declare his faith before Felix: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” Acts 24:14.SITI June 9, 1881, page 259.2

    We have here the expressed belief of Christ and Paul. Now who dare say that their practice was different from their teaching? Did not Christ live out his own precepts? It was said of him (Psalm 40:8) that he came to do the will of God, and that God’s law was “within his heart.” Was Paul a hypocrite? No one would dare make such an assertion, and yet those who claim that he desecrated the Sabbath, virtually call him a hypocrite professing one thing and doing another. When Paul said that he believed “all things which were written in the law,” we cannot have the slightest doubt but that he practiced all things contained in the law, the Sabbath with the rest.SITI June 9, 1881, page 259.3

    This testimony is not ambiguous. It is clear and explicit. None need fail through ignorance. As a last stand, does any one plead force of habit, old associations, inconvenience, or the ridicule of friends? Christ says “What is that to thee? follow thou me.” “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”SITI June 9, 1881, page 259.4

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