THE SABBATH DAYS
AGAIN. Read Hebews viii. 7-13: “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will maek with the house of Israel, after those days, saith the Lord: I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest: for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
We come now to examine the third and last proposition, viz.:
That the rulers of the Gentiles are to enforce the religious observance of a Sabbath. This, of all other porpositions, is the most important – involves consequences of the most momentous nature, as upon the establishment of this position, all constitutional rights to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and as we understand the scriptures, must be at once relinquished. Col. ii. 14: “Let no man judge you,” &c., in respect to holy days, new moons and Sabbath days, must be disregarded, and the theory that it is right to obey man rather than God, established. The most plausible argument in support of the coercive imposition of commandment is moral, and if moral, alike obligatory on Gentiles and Jews, and of perpetual duration. But, as we have already shown, this argument, if it proves anything, proves too much, for the fourth command enjoins the seventh and not the first day, and it requires no less power to change a moral law than to abrogate or abolish it. We have also made it appear by direct testimony from the bible, that the fourth command required the observance of the seventh day, as God had instructed Israel, by cessation from all business – no kindling of fires, no going out of one’s dwelling place to meeting or elsewhere, no preaching, no praying or singing was required, but perfect inactivity and rest.
But upon the supposition that the rulers of the Gentiles have a right to enforce the religious observance of a Sabbath, the question arises, Are they to require such observance as the law of God directed, and enforce by such penalties, or are the rulers of the Gentiles at liberty to alter the manner of regarding the day, and allow a commutation of the penalty of detah, for that of a fine, imprisonment or whipping? And have not the rulers of the Gentiles the same authority to compel the people to pray, and perform other religious performances, as to establish for them a Sabbath by arbitrary power? To say nothing of other nations, it is conceded that neither our federal or state governments have any power over the people which has not been first given them by the people. When, where and in what covenant have the people of these United States invested the congress or the legislatures of the states, or any executive officers, civil or ecclesiastical, with any power to lord it over their consciences, in this or any other matter belonging between themselves and their God?
Our limits in this volume will not permit us to extend our remarks, but we shall probably resume the subject early in our next.
New Vernon, N.Y.,
December 15, 1844
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 506 – 508