That the Sabbath of the decalogue was partly moral and partly ceremonial, or positive, in its nature has been the doctrine of the church as taught by its best theologians in all ages. Take a few examples out of scores that could be given. Watson's Theological Institutes, the great Methodist standard, says: "But as the command is partly positive and partly moral, it may have circumstances which are capable of being altered in perfect obedience with the moral principles on which it rests." Vol. II, page 511. So Scott's Commentary on Ex. 20:8-10 says: "The separation of a portion of our time to the immediate service of God is doubtless of moral obligation.... But the exact proportion, as well as the particular day, may be considered as a positive institution."
The moral basis of the Sabbath is readily manifest. That man should devote some part of his time to the special service and worship of God is reasonable, and we would naturally expect that the Lord would, in some way, designate such time, just as he did do in the Sabbath precept.
Experience proves that man's physical nature requires a day of rest about as often as one in seven. Many experiments have been tried and careful observations made, all showing that both men and beasts will accomplish more work in a given time, do it in a better manner and preserve better health by resting every seventh day than they will by laboring continuously. This is the testimony of business men and of eminent physicians. Hence the Sabbath rest had its foundation in nature itself. The mind also requires a day of rest as regularly as the body. Constant thought and mental application is ruinous to the mind. This has been proved in the case of students, lawyers, business men, etc. Socially and religiously, the weekly rest day is of the utmost importance to man's highest good. All other means combined can hardly equal the observance of the Lord's day for the purpose.
Then as to the influence of the church and its power for good, its hold upon its own members and upon community, its opportunity to teach and preach the gospel, the regular weekly rest day is its strong hold as all well know. Hence, if ever a law of God had a moral basis, the Sabbath commandment has. "The Sabbath was made for man" because he needed it physically, mentally, socially, morally and religiously. Mr. Gladstone say: "Sunday is a necessity for the retention of man's mind and of a man's frame in a condition to discharge his duties."
All experience shows that a Sabbathless community is a godless, immoral, and, generally, a thriftless community. Hence he is an enemy of society and of religion who would break down the restraints of such a weekly rest in the community. So we say that the Sabbath law rested upon a moral basis in providing a weekly Sabbath for the nation of Israel.
But when we come to the definite day, which it shall be, nature does not indicate that. All the benefits above mentioned would be secured by keeping one day as well as another. There would not be a particle of difference whichever day was selected. Suppose that all the churches would change in one week and keep Saturday instead of Sunday, what practical difference would it make? None at all. Physical rest, mental rest, social and religious privileges, a quiet day, - all that can be secured by one day can by another, so far as the day is concerned. But to secure the greatest good from the day, all should rest the same day. Where this is not done confusion and evil follows. Ex. 20:8-11.
God has marked no difference in the nature of days in themselves. All nature goes right on just the same every day alike. We see nothing in one day of the week which differs from another, and there is no difference. No day is holy in and of itself and by its own nature. The learned Dr. Edwards says: "No identical period of duration is, in itself, intrinsically holy." Sabbath Manual, page 92. In every case God had to make the day holy by a special appointment. The same appointment of some other day would have made it just as holy.
Nor does nature indicate clearly just the proportion of time to be used. Hence God's example of six days' work and the seventh of rest was doubtless given as a model to follow. To this the Lord pointed in giving the Sabbath law. Ex. 20. And this divine model all Christians now following in resting on the Lord's day after six day's work.
Another fact which Sabbatarians overlook is that God's act of resting on the day did not confer any holiness upon it. Gen. 2:3, says: "God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because that in it HE HAD RESTED. So Ex. 20:11. He "rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it." First, God rested on the day, but that did not make it holy. After that he blessed it but still it was not holy time. Third, he hallowed it, made it holy. So the day was not holy in itself nor did God's resting on it make it holy.
The Lord has made other days holy, days on which he never rested. The day of atonement was as holy as the weekly Sabbath. Thus: "It shall be an holy convocation unto you.... And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work.... It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest." Lev. 23:27-32. So there were seven of these yearly holy days. Elder Smith, Adventist, says: "The word SABBATH means REST. That is the one sole idea it conveys, first, last, and all the way between, - cessation from labor, rest. Here were seven annual days on which there was to be an entire suspension of labor, Were these days Sabbath, or were they not? If they were not, can any one tell us why they were not?" What Was Nailed to the Cross, page 11.
So, then, according to the Bible and the arguments of the Adventists themselves, different days may become holy Sabbath days without the Lord's resting on them or even blessing them, for he did neither to these days. Further, a day which was once a holy Sabbath day, so holy that it was death to work on it, as in the case of the day of atonement, Lev. 23:27-32, may cease to be so and become a common working day. See Col. 2:16. Even Adventists do not keep these old holy days. So, then, holiness can be put upon a day, taken from it, or changed to another day. It is not necessarily a permanent, unchangeable affair. Let Sabbatarians meditate here awhile. More still: A day once appointed, and made a holy Sabbath day by God himself, may cease to be such and become even hateful to God. Thus: Isa. 1:13-14, "The new moons and Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; IT IS iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear THEM." All these holy days God himself had appointed, but see how he hates them now. Is it any proof, then, that a particular day is holy now because it was once holy? None whatever.
Notice also how many other things were made holy by God's appointment. Under the LAW we read of "the holy temple," "the holy hill," "the holy ark," "the holy instruments," "the holy vessels," "the holy water," "the holy perfume," "The holy altar," "the holy veil," "the holy linen coat," "the holy ointment," "the holy nation," "the holy Sabbath," etc. Those pertained to the worship and service of God in his HOLY TEMPLE, which was "only a shadow," "figure" or "type of the TRUE temple" - the "spiritual house" of Christ, "his body, the church." While they stood as TYPES they were "holy," and no longer. They had no inherent holiness, but were made holy by the command of God. Law and Gospel, page 43, by S.C. Adams.
Like all the above holy things, the seventh day had no holiness in itself. It had to be "made" so. Mark 2:27. But moral duties are not made. They exist in the very nature of things. For instance, it is morally wrong to murder. It would have been wrong even if God had given no command against it. But it never would have been wrong to work on the seventh day unless God had given a commandment to keep it. So, then, the sanctity of the day does not rest upon the nature of the day itself, but like a hundred other hallowed things, simply upon God's appointment, which may be altered any time at his will.
All must admit that this commandment does differ from those which are admitted to be wholly moral. No one could all his lifetime live in open violation of the commandments against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, stealing, etc., and yet have the least hope of heaven. Yet the most zealous Sabbatarian will admit that millions of devout Christians have lived holy lives who never kept the seventh day, but rested on Sunday instead. And Sunday-keepers will admit that those who keep Saturday instead of Sunday are Christian people. Now, certainly, one or the other of these classes does not keep the Sabbath commandment, if the essential thing is to keep the particular day. Would any seventh-day man recognize as a Christian any person who would every week violate the letter of any other commandment? No, nor would he excuse him on any plea of ignorance either. Yet they will freely admit that thousands right around them who do not keep the Sabbath commandment as they read it, are yet good people and Christians. So, they themselves being judges, this commandment does differ from the others in some way.
Adventists claim that there was nothing ceremonial in the decalogue or about the Sabbath. But let us consider what a 'ceremony' is. Webster says: "Ceremony. Outward rite; external form in religion." That is exactly what the observance of the Sabbath was in Jewish worship. Do not Adventists class the keeping of all the other holy days as ceremonial? Yes; but they were all "holy convocations." Lev. 23:2, like the seventh day. Read Elder Smith's own arguments on this point. he says: "Were these other days which were EXACTLY LIKE THAT, - days of rest and convocation, - were these days also Sabbaths, or were they not?" What Was Nailed to the Cross, page 11. Then he argues that they were all Sabbaths like the seventh day. Well, then if the keeping of these was a ceremony, and a part of the "ceremonial" law, then the same is true of the seventh day.
The observance of the Sabbath on a particular day was a ceremonial service, the very first and chief of all their "outward rites and external forms." Thus, Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, article, Law of Moses, under the term "Ceremonial Law," says: "(3). Holiness of Times. (a) The Sabbath. Ex. 20:8- 11. (b) The Sabbatical Year. (c) Year of Jubilee. (d) The Passover. (e) The Feast of Weeks. (f) Feast of Tabernacles. (g) Feast of Trumpets. (h) Day of Atonement." Thus the Sabbath stands at the head of all the ceremonial seasons. God himself so places it. Lev. 23:1-44. "These are my feasts: Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is the Sabbath." Then follow in order all the holy days of the year, the Sabbath standing first. It is arranged that way time and again, showing it is so designed. Again, Dr. Smith says: "The Sabbath was the keynote to a scale of Sabbatical observance consisting of itself, the seventh month, the seventh year, and the Year of Jubilee."
Adventists argue that the decalogue covers all sins. The greater embraces the lesser, they say. The sixth command prohibits murder, the highest crime of the kind, and that embraces and so forbids all lesser sins of the kind, as anger, quarreling, malice, hatred, etc. Well, now, let them try that on the fourth command and they will hit a truth which ought to open their eyes, viz.: the weekly Sabbath, as chief and head of all holy seasons and ceremonials, was placed there to represent all that class in the Jewish law. Rev. Dr. Potts, Methodist, says: "The law under the Mosaic dispensation was formulated into nine moral precepts, with a Sabbath commandment added." The Lord's Day our Sabbath, page 10.
In their very nature all purely moral laws are universal and eternal in their application, are binding in heaven, in Eden, on Jews or Gentiles, saints or sinners, now or hereafter. Test the particular seventh day, Saturday, by that rule, and it fails everywhere. Go to Venus, where the days are about twenty-three hours long, to Jupiter, where they are only about ten hours long; to Saturn, where they are about twelve hours long, or to some of the larger planets, where their days are much longer than ours. How could the inhabitants of those worlds keep our seventh day? They could keep "a" seventh day, their own, but that would not be of the same length of ours, nor come at the same time of ours. Their seventh day would not be our Saturday, nor would the seventh day of any two planets be alike, nor come at the same time. All the universe can keep a seventh part of time, but no the same seventh part. Not knowing this, see what a blunder Mrs. White made. She says: "I saw that the Sabbath would never be done away, but the redeemed saints, AND ALL THE ANGELIC HOST, will observe it in honor of the great Creator to all eternity." Spiritual Gifts, Vol. I, page 113. Elder U. Smith, Biblical Institute, page 145, says: "We infer that the higher orders of his intelligences keep the Sabbath also.... The Sabbath of each of his creatures will be the Sabbath of all the rest, so that all will observe THE SAME PERIOD TOGETHER for the same purpose."
Here you have your definite seventh-day theory with a vengeance. Look at the utter absurdity and impossibility of the theory. All intelligent beings in heaven and earth and on all the planets, keep "THE SAME PERIOD TOGETHER." So the Sabbath day on this little planet of ours regulates the Sabbath days of all the planets in the universe! I wonder how they manage it in Jupiter, where their days are only ten hours long, or in Venus, where they are twenty- three hours long, or in some of the planets where they are as long as several of our days? As the Sabbath must be kept from sunset to sunset (Lev. 23:32), I wonder how they find out, on all those planets, just when it is sunset down here!
The stubborn facts nearer home show that God's children do not, and cannot, all observe "THE SAME PERIOD TOGETHER." Everybody knows that it is Saturday in India some twelve hours sooner than it is here, and that it is Saturday here twelve hours after it has ceased to be Saturday there. In Australia the day begins eighteen hours sooner than it does in California. So the Seventh- day brethren in California are working nearly the whole time that their brethren in Australia are keeping Sabbath! Come even nearer home than that. The sun sets about three hours later in California than it does in Maine. So when the Seventh-day Adventists in Maine begin to keep the Sabbath at sunset Friday evening, their own brethren in California, where the sun is yet three hours high, will still be at work for three hours! So, very few of them on this earth, observe "THE SAME PERIOD TOGETHER." While some of them are keeping Sabbath on one part of the earth, others of them are at work on another part of the earth. How much less, then, do all the heavenly hosts keep the same period with men on earth.
Now, if, as Mrs. White and Bro. Smith say, the angels keep our Sabbath, the question is, with which party do they keep it? With those in Australia, or those in America? If the angels keep the Sabbath at the same time the Sabbatarians keep it in Australia, then the Sabbatarians in America are working while the angels keep Sabbath, and so, of course, the angels work while those here rest. So we see how absolutely false and absurd is the theory that all can keep the Sabbath at the same time.
I have to confess that for many years I was so stupid as to suppose that the Lord himself kept the Sabbath at the same time I did here. I supposed that when the sun set Friday evening and I began keeping the Sabbath, the Lord and the angels began keeping it too. But now I see how utterly impossible that is; for if the Lord keeps the Sabbath at the same time I do here, then he does not keep it with the brethren on the other side of the globe, because they begin the Sabbath at least twelve hours earlier than we do here. In fact, it takes just forty-eight hours, or the time of two whole days, from the time any one day begins in the extreme east till it ends at the furthest place in the west. Will the reader stop and think carefully, sharply, on this point, for it is an important one? It takes twenty-four hours for the FIRST END of a day to go clear around the earth. Then, as the LAST END of the day is twenty-four hours behind the FIRST END, it must also have twenty-four hours more to go clear around the earth, and that makes forty-eight hours in all that each day is on the earth somewhere.
I am quite certain that the average Sabbatarian feels he keeps the seventh day that he is now keeping holy time with the Lord himself, and with the angels, and with all his brethren. I used to feel that way I know, and the above quotations from Mrs. White and Elder Smith show plainly that even they think so, too. But it will be seen that this cannot be so unless the Lord keeps the time of two whole days each week. And in that case, those on this side of the earth would be working while the Lord was keeping the Sabbath with those on the other side of the earth. Then those on the opposite of the earth would be working while the Lord kept Sabbath with those on this side. And so none of them would keep the Sabbath with the Lord after all! In fact, taking it all around the earth, there is not a single hour in the whole week, when there is not some Sabbatarian at work on some part of the earth!
But, further, does the Lord keep our seventh day with us, or does he keep the seventh day with the people on other planets? Our days and weeks are not at all in harmony with theirs, nor can one of them be like another. Now, if the Lord rests only on our Saturday, then he could not rest on the seventh day of Venus or Mars or Jupiter, etc., as the seventh day of each planet differs in length and comes at a different time, from that of our earth or any planet. How, then, could God rest on all these days? If he did he must keep Sabbath all the time, and then nobody, angels or men, could keep the Sabbath with the Lord if they worked at all!
What, then, becomes of Mrs. White's statement that "ALL THE ANGELIC HOST" keep our Sabbath? or Elder Smith's hypothesis that all the universe will observe "THE SAME PERIOD TOGETHER?" Both are utterly absurd. The same definite seventh day cannot be kept by all the universe; even on this earth alone it cannot be kept by all at the same time; but all can keep a seventh part of the time. This principle upon which the fourth commandment was based, may be of universal application in earth and in heaven, in time or eternity. But just which day that shall be, is a matter of minor consequence to be determined by the circumstances in the case, which may and must differ at different times and different places. To the Jewish people it certainly was the seventh day, or Saturday, and no other day would have met the commandment. All the rigorous limitations and exactions of the Sabbath day, as under the Jewish law, could be carried out by a small people in a limited territory where the church bore rule. A particular day, the seventh, Deut. 5:12-13; definite hours, sunset to sunset, Lev. 23:32; no fires in all their houses, Ex. 35:3; stoning to death for picking up a stick, Num. 15:32-36 - this was the Jewish law. But we are not Jews nor under the Jewish law. Under the new dispensation of the gospel, other circumstances have arisen plainly and grandly marking another day as the all important day in Christian memory - the resurrection day. When the gospel was to go to all nations, to all climates, and around the earth, the Christian rest day was necessarily and wisely left upon a far different basis.
If a man's salvation depends upon keeping the same day to a minute that God kept at creation, then it is infinitely important that we know exactly to a rod where his day began so as to begin ours there too. But the Lord has not said a word about it nor given the least clue as to where to begin the day. Nor do Sabbatarians KNOW anything about it, but have to guess at the whole thing. The day is now generally reckoned to begin at a certain line 180 degrees west from Greenwich, England. It runs north and south through the Pacific Ocean about 4,000 miles west of America. I wrote Prof. E.E. Holden of Lick Observatory asking, "1. Have we the date when the day line was established there? 2. Who did it, and why? 3. When? 4. Has it been reckoned from other places than Greenwich?"
He answered: "1. There was no one date. 2. No one. For convenience. 3. During the last hundred years. 4. Yes. Canary Islands, Tenereffe, Ferro, Paris, Berlin, Jerusalem, Washington, etc."
So we see: 1. It is only within the last hundred years that the day line has been fixed where it is now. 2. This was done merely for convenience, not because there was anything in nature requiring it. 3. At different times the day line has been counted from at least seven different places, from Jerusalem in the east to Washington in the west, about 8,000 miles difference, or one-third the way around the earth. Hence, the beginning of the seventh day has varied that much at different dates. 4. In another century it may be changed again. 5. There is just as much authority for one place as the other, and no divine authority for one place as the other, and no divine authority for either, as it is all man's work and done at hap-hazard. 6. Hence, so far as duty to God is concerned, any nation, church or society is at liberty to begin the day wherever they please. One place will be just as apt to be in harmony with God's day line as another.
Sabbatarians in America can fix their day line in the Atlantic instead of in the Pacific and then our Sunday will be Saturday, and they will be all right and convert a nation in a day! Could any one prove that this would not be in harmony with Hod's day line at creation? Certainly not. It would be just as apt to be right as the present day line. Then why not do it? Indeed, this is exactly parallel to what Seventh-day Adventists have done within the past few years in the case of a whole colony in the Pacific Ocean. Pitcairn Island, in the Pacific, was settled one hundred years ago by persons who brought their reckoning eastward from Asia. But it happens to be on the American side of the present day line; hence their Sunday was our Saturday, and they all kept it one hundred years as Sunday. According to Adventists, this was an awful thing, for Sunday is the Pope's Sabbath, the mark of the beast. So, a few years ago, Adventists went there and converted them all to keeping Saturday. How? They simply induced them to change their reckoning of the day line a few miles and lo! their Sunday was Saturday! Now they are all pious Sabbath- keepers while before they were all keeping Sunday, the mark of the beast! And yet they are keeping exactly the same day they always kept! If this is not hair-splitting, tell me what is. It illustrates the childishness of the whole Sabbatarian business. Now let the Adventists just shift their day line a little further east to include America and they can keep our day with us.
If the day began in the traditional place where Eden is said to have been located, then the day line would be away west of the present location some 7,000 miles, west even of Australia; and then the Seventh-day people in Australia are not keeping the Sabbath at all. In that case the Sunday-keepers of New Zealand and Australia are now actually keeping the original seventh day, and Sabbatarians there are keeping the sixth day! Do they know, and can they prove, that this is not so? No; they simply have to take the reckoning just as it happened to be, right or wrong, without knowing which it is. And yet, at great expense, they have sent missionaries there to convert the people over to keep another day, when actually they do not know but what those people are really keeping the seventh day, and they themselves are wrong! None, not even themselves, pretend to know where God began to reckon that day; yet they draw the line to a hair, and say that all will be damned who do not toe that line and count from that spot! Does the salvation of a man's soul depend upon such mathematical niceties and such uncertainties as these? If it does, we may well despair of heaven.
The very fact that God has never revealed just where the true day line is, or where the seventh day began, shows that it is of no consequence for us to know. Alaska, the northwest point of America, was settled by Russians ages ago, before the present day line existed. Of course they brought their reckoning with them and hence their Sunday was on Saturday. In 1867 we bought Alaska and it became a part of the United States. The day we took possession our laws changed their Sunday to Saturday, all by human authority. Did that change the Edenic Sabbath for that people? Again, in going around the earth one way we lose a day and going the other way we gain a day. Hence, in one case we must add a day and in the other drop a day. All have to do this to keep in harmony with the world. Adventists do this, but by what authority, and where? The Bible says keep the seventh day and from sunset to sunset. Ex. 20:8-11; Lev. 23:32. Let two Adventists start from Chicago, one going east, the other west, around the earth. Each keeps carefully the seventh day as the sun sets. When they meet again at Chicago they will be two days apart! One will be keeping Sunday and the other Friday. How do they manage it? Each gives up his seventh day and both take that of the world. So they have a worldly day after all!
Look at the difficulty in crossing this supposed day line in the Pacific Ocean. I have personally conversed with Sabbatarians who have crossed this line both ways, east and west. Going west, a day is ADDED, going east it is DROPPED and this is done at NOON of the day which finds them nearest the supposed line. On the vessel, a man going west sits down to dinner 11:50 A.M. Friday. While he is eating the time is changed and he rises from dinner Saturday noon! Then he has only six hours of Sabbath till sunset; or coming east, he sits down to dinner Saturday noon and rises from dinner Friday noon! He has kept eighteen hours Sabbath; then it is gone in a second at high noon, and he has six hours to work till sunset. Now he must begin Sabbath once more and keep it over again - twenty-four hours! In one case he only kept six hours Sabbath, and in the other case he kept forty-two hours!
These stubborn facts demonstrate the utter absurdity of the Sabbatarian view. They claim that these things do not bother them any; but I know that they do, and badly, too. They have written much on it, devised all sorts of diagrams, illustrations and arguments to meet the difficulty; but none are satisfactory, even to themselves. Hence new methods are constantly being devised to dodge the difficulty. The latest discovery is that adopted by the Seventh-day Adventist ministers of the New York conference. It is that the earth is absolutely FLAT and STATIONARY, with sun, moon and stars much smaller than the earth and revolving around it! "The sun, he do move," the old darkey said, and they say, Amen.
Now test the definite Seventh-day theory in the frozen regions of the north. The day must be kept from sunset to sunset. Lev. 23:32. But in the winter there are months when the sun is not seen there at all, so they have no sunset. And again, in summer there are months when the sun is above the horizon all the time, when there is no sunset. Here the theory breaks down entirely, and the day must be reckoned by artificial means. They can keep one-seventh of the time, and that is absolutely all that can be done. Seventh-day Adventists have argued that there was no real difficulty here; it was all imaginary. They try to bluff it off with a laugh; but that does not answer the facts. I know that they themselves have got into serious trouble right here. So great was their difficulty, even in northern Sweden and Norway, that in 1886 it was seriously discussed as to whether they must not change and reckon the day not from sunset as now, but from 6 P.M. Mrs. White and son were there and favored the change. I was on a committee of the General Conference to investigate the matter. We decided against the change and it was abandoned. What endless and needless difficulties people get themselves into trying to keep a law which was only designed for the Jews in a limited locality. How contrary to the freedom and simplicity of the gospel!
In reply to all these facts, which cannot be denied, Seventh-day people say: Is not the first day of the week, or Sunday, just as definite a day as the seventh day, or Saturday? Is it not just as difficult to keep Sunday all around the world as it is to keep Saturday? Do you not claim that you should keep the first day in honor of the resurrection? The answer to these questions is not hard to give. The essential idea is that we should devote one day in seven to religious duties. To secure the highest good, all should unite in observing the same day. From the days of the apostles the Christian church has, with one consent, observed the day on which Jesus rose from the dead, the first day of the week, or Sunday. But it is not claimed that it is absolutely essential that exactly the same minutes and hours, or even the same definite day, must be kept anyway and under all circumstances, whether or no. That would be legalism, and contrary to the very nature and freedom of the gospel. Suppose the Jewish day on which Jesus arose was reckoned from sunset to sunset, as doubtless it was, must we also reckon it that way? As it is found more convenient to reckon the day from midnight to midnight, and as all are united in doing so, it is for the best interests of religion to conform to this custom. If, in traveling around the world, men should mistake their longitude, as in case of Alaska and Pitcairn's Island, and call Saturday Sunday, it is not material. They had better all unite on that than to quarrel over it.
If, in the long period of darkness at the north pole, men should lose the time, and then select some other period than that which exactly corresponds to our Sunday, hour for hour, the difference would not be material. Or, if in locating the day line from which to reckon the beginning of the day, that line had happened to be located 5,000 miles further east or 10,000 further west, it would not have made a particle of difference. And as to whether we now begin the day just where God did in Eden or not, is a matter of no consequence. And whether our brethren in China rest at the same time we do or not, is of little account. And whether the Sabbath of Jupiter and Mars and Neptune, and of heaven itself, comes when ours does or not, is of little interest to us. It will be time enough to settle that matter when we go to live with them. So, while traveling around the earth, east or west, or crossing the day line, whether or not we are able to keep exactly the same time, or even exactly one- seventh part of time to a minute, is of little importance. We do the best we can under the circumstances, and conform to the time as reckoned by those where we go. To "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel," is not a good practice in any cause. But with the strict Sabbatarian all this is entirely different. A certain day, beginning at precisely such a line to a hair, and at such a minute to a second, is holy time. If you don't hit that exact time just right, you might as well keep no day at all! That may do for Judaism, but it certainly is not according to the spirit and freedom of the gospel.
I believe this is a fair statement of the position held by the great body of the intelligent observers of Sunday. It harmonizes exactly with the statement of our Savior, that "the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27. Man and his highest good are first; the Sabbath is secondary and subservient to these. Practically, the Sabbatarian exactly reverses this order. The Sabbath is the all-important thing, a rigid, iron rule, unbending and inflexible. Man and his necessities and his good are of little or no account in comparison with the supremely great duty to keep the Sabbath. "Man was made for the Sabbath, and not the Sabbath for man," would much better express their idea of the relative importance of the two. It is well for the people and the world that such pharisaical ideas have found few advocates in the church of Christ.
The how do Sabbatarians know that our Saturday is the exact seventh day from creation down? Says Rev. J.H. Potts, D.D., editor of the Michigan (Methodist) Christian Advocate: "That in selecting the Jewish Sabbath day, Moses selected the regular successive seventh day of human time from Adam down cannot be proved by any authority, human or divine." The Lord's Day our Sabbath, page 12. This is endorsed by Bishop Harris and several other eminent divines. So Rev. Geo. Elliott, in his "Abiding Sabbath," says: "There is no possible means of fixing the day of the original Sabbath." So say all unbiased writers.
During the long period before the flood; during the patriarchal age when they had no records; during their slavery in Egypt when even traditional knowledge was largely lost; during the anarchy under the judges, and all down the ages since, are they sure that no mistake has been made, not even of one day? Of course they are not. The only possible way they can tell is by human tradition. In answer to my inquiry upon the point, Rabbi Isaac M. Wise, Cincinnati, O., the most learned Jew of the land, wrote me: "The Jewish Sabbath is, in point of the particular time, a matter of tradition." So after all, their Sabbath-keeping rests upon tradition of men, the very thing Adventists condemn.
But it is said that if the day had been lost, God knew which it was and would have pointed it out at the giving of the manna. Or if it had been lost before Christ's time, he would have known it and would have corrected them. But this assumes the very thing to be proved, viz.: that God cares as much about special hours and minutes as they do. This they can not prove. Evidently from the slight importance which he attached to keeping the Jewish Sabbath Jesus would have kept any day which he found observed by the nation.