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    April 5, 1883

    “Is It a Violation of the Sabbath?” The Signs of the Times, 9, 14.

    E. J. Waggoner

    From a gentleman in Iowa what we have received the following:-SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.1

    “Several of my Adventist neighbors claim to conform to all the teachings of Bible, and still they tend to a great many horses, cattle, and hogs, and hitch up and drive their horses some nine miles to meeting on Saturday; I claim that every one of these acts is in direct violation of passages and the Bible. I refer to the fourth commandment, Exodus 23:12; 31:15, etc. F. C.”SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.2

    In answering this we will leave the hogs out of the question, and consider the stock merely as horses and cattle,-animals that are useful to man. The hog was an unclean animal long before the time of Moses, and his nature remains the same under the gospel dispensation. Man may be purified by the gospel; the hog never can. He is simply a scavenger, and should no more be raised and eaten than should the vulture or the buzzard. If the Sabbath is ever desecrated by the care of animals, it is certainly done when that care is bestowed upon the filthy swine.SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.3

    But, hogs aside, is it a violation of the Sabbath to take care of stock on that day? The answering of another question will go far toward settling this. Is it right to keep stock at all? Most certainly it is, will be the reply of everybody. The commandment itself recognizes that cattle will be kept. They are necessary to man’s existence. Then we answer that the person who has such a Pharisaic regard for the Sabbath that he will let the dumb brutes which are dependent on him suffer for food and water, would do well to “go and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” The Scribes and Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, because he healed the sick on that day; but he showed them, Luke 13:11-17, that to relieve the sick of their infirmities was as proper as to lead their dumb animals to water in order that they might not suffer. Both are acts of mercy, and as such may be done on the Sabbath-day, upon which it is lawful to do good.SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.4

    Of course judgment must be used. We have simply stated the bare fact that it is proper to care for stock on the Sabbath. But we are aware that unnecessary work is performed on the Sabbath; many things are done that might have been provided for the day before; but this does not disprove the truth of our statement.SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.5

    Now as to hitching up a team and driving to meeting. Whether or not this is a violation of the commandment depends on the purpose for which we go to meeting. The commandment says of “Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.” It forbids the doing of any work, and yet, by the express command of God, the priest did manual labor on the Sabbath-day, in preparing in changing the showbread, and making extra offerings, and were of course blameless. See Leviticus 24:5-8; Numbers 28:9, 10; Matthew 12:5. Why were they blameless? Because they were doing the Lord’s work. Then we learn that when the commandment says that we shall not do any work it means that we shall not do our own work. So if we go to meeting simply for a pleasant drive, or to exchange gossip with acquaintances whom we cannot conveniently meet on any other day, it is undoubtedly a sin; but if we go to worship God, it is pleasing to him. This will answer the objection on Exodus 23:12. If men may do certain work (the Lord’s work) on the Sabbath without violating the commandment, then it is evident that they may use their beasts whenever it is necessary to the accomplishment of that work.SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.6

    “It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath-day.” This means not merely that we are permitted to do good on the Sabbath-day, but that we are under obligation to do so; “lawful” means, “conformable to law; constituted by law.” If we do not too good on the Sabbath-day, then we are Sabbath-breakers. To lie in bed the greater part for the whole of the Sabbath, unless on account sickness or to lazily lounge about the house, is most emphatically a violation of the fourth commandment.SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.7

    We do not know our friend’s religious opinions, but we judge him to be one who does not keep the Sabbath, and who seeks to justify himself in his course by magnifying the real or imaginary faults of others. This is a very frequently done. But if this be his position he has condemned himself, for if he means what he says when he criticizes the action of his neighbors, he believes that the Bible teaches the observance of the seventh day. Then we would tell him in all kindness that their misdeeds will not justify him. If his neighbors are doing wrong, that will not excuse him for doing wrong too. If his neighbors do violate the Sabbath, that will not take away a particle of his guilt if he breaks it also. His only course is to set them an example of well-doing. But let him be careful not to base his action on a distorted view of a single passage. The Bible is not divided against itself, and no one can go astray who follows its teachings as a whole. As the gospel is of no force without the law, so the law cannot be understood without the gospel. “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh” both in the Old Testament and in the New. E. J. W.SITI April 5, 1883, page 164.8

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