Selected Messages Book 3


Counsel Relating to Sunday Law Issues

There have arisen in our conference questions that need to have careful attention, whether the Sabbathkeepers in the Southern States, where they are liable to feel the oppressive power of their State laws if they labor on Sunday, shall rest on Sunday to avoid the persecution which must come if they do any labor. [The 1889 General Conference session was held in Battle Creek, October 18 to November 5. On Sabbath, November 2, Ellen White spoke in the morning on Revelation 13, “laying out in clear lines the position of the people of God for this time in regard to Sunday laws.” Sabbath afternoon she read from the Testimonies and an 1883 General Conference sermon relating to the same subject. Neither presentation was reported.—Compilers.] Some of our brethren seem anxious that a resolution shall be passed by the General Conference advising our Sabbathkeeping brethren liable to imprisonment and fines, to refrain from labor on that day. Such resolutions should not be placed before this conference, requiring their action. 3SM 394.1

There are questions about which it is far better to have as little notoriety given as possible, in either case—for or against.... 3SM 394.2

God Will Give Light and Knowledge When Needed—When the Sunday question is legislated to become a law, there will not be so great a danger of taking steps that are not of a character to receive the sanction of Heaven ... for the reason that the Lord gives light and knowledge just when it is most needed.... 3SM 394.3

While all Sabbathkeepers are anxious and troubled, seeking to penetrate the mysteries of the future, and to learn all they can in regard to the correct position they shall take, be careful that they are advised correctly in regard to Sunday observance.... There will ever be danger of going to extremes.... 3SM 394.4

If the decision is made that our people shall not labor on Sunday and that our brethren in the Southern States [At the time this manuscript was written Seventh-day Adventists in some of the Southern States were being persecuted because of violation of State Sunday laws. Some of these Adventists refusing to pay fines imposed were put in chain gangs.] shall appear to harmonize with the Sunday law, because of oppression, how long before all over the world [our people] shall be in like circumstances as they are in the South. The decision is to be a universal one. If it comes to the light of day as it will in degrees and there will be concessions and servile bowing to an idol god by those who claim to be Sabbathkeepers, there will be a yielding of principles until all is lost to them. 3SM 394.5

If we counsel them not to respect the idol sabbath exalted to take the place of the Sabbath of the Lord our God, then instruct them in this matter in a quiet way and encourage no defying of the law powers in words or actions unless called to do this for the honor of God to vindicate his downtrodden law. Let there be no unnecessary act of arousing the combative spirit or passions of opponents.... 3SM 395.1

There should be no just occasion to our enemies to charge us with being lawless and defying the laws through any imprudence of our own. [See Testimonies for the Church 9:232-238, “Sunday Labor.”] We should not feel it enjoined upon us to irritate our neighbors who idolize Sunday by making determined efforts to bring labor on that day before them purposely to exhibit an independence.... 3SM 395.2

There should be no noisy demonstration. Let us consider how fearful and terribly sad is the delusion that has taken the world captive and by every means in our power seek to enlighten those who are our bitterest enemies. If there is the acceptance of the principles of the inworking of the Holy Ghost which he [the Christian] must have to fit him for heaven, he will do nothing rashly or presumptuously to create wrath and blasphemy against God.... 3SM 395.3

How You Treat the Sabbath Question Is Decisive—There are some trying testimonies to be manfully borne by Sabbathkeepers and some bitter persecution finally endured.... Let no resolutions be passed here which will encourage half-hearted service or cowardly hiding our light under a bushel or under a bed, for we will certainly be tried and tested.... Be sure the Sabbath is a test question, and how you treat this question places you either on God's side or Satan's side. The mark of the beast is to be presented in some shape to every institution and every individual.... 3SM 395.4

Every move from the first made by Satan was the beginning of his work to continue to the end to exalt the false, to take the place of the genuine Sabbath of Jehovah. He is just as intent now and more determined to do this than ever before. He has come down with great power to deceive them who dwell on the earth with his satanic delusions.... 3SM 396.1

As we meet the emergency, the law of God becomes more precious, more sacred, and as it is more manifestly made void and set aside, in proportion should arise our respect and reverence for the law.... 3SM 396.2

In the exercise of the longsuffering of God, He gives to nations a certain period of probation, but there is a point which, if they pass, there will be the visitation of God in His indignation. He will punish. The world has been advancing from one degree of contempt for God's law to another, and the prayer may be appropriate at this time, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Psalm 119:126).... 3SM 396.3

Individuals to Take Responsibility—Let not anyone make any proud boast, either by precept or example, to show that he is defying the laws of the land. Make no resolutions as to what persons in different states may do, or may not do. Let nothing be done to lessen individual responsibility. To their God they must stand or fall. Let none feel it is his duty to make speeches in the presence of our own people, or of our enemies, that will arouse their combativeness, and they take your words and construe them in such a way that you are charged with being rebellious to the government, for this will close the door of access to the people.... 3SM 396.4

While we cannot bow to an arbitrary power to lift up the Sunday by bowing to it, while we will not violate the Sabbath, which a despotic power will seek to compel us to do, we will be wise in Christ.... We must say no words, that will do ourselves harm, for this would be bad enough, but when you speak words, and when you do presumptuous things that imperil the cause of God, you are doing a cruel work, for you give Satan advantage. We are not to be rash and impetuous, but always learning of Jesus, how to act in His spirit, presenting the truth as it is in Jesus.... 3SM 396.5

Danger of Hasty, Ill-advised Moves—One indiscreet, high-tempered, stubborn-willed man will, in the great question introduced before us, do much harm. Yes, he will leave such an impression that all the force of Seventh-day Adventists could not counteract his acts of presumption because Satan, the arch deceiver, the great rebel, is deluding minds to the true issue of the great question, and its eternal bearing.... 3SM 397.1

There are those who will, through hasty, ill-advised moves, betray the cause of God into the enemy's power. There will be men who will seek to be revenged, who will become apostates and betray Christ in the person of His saints. All need to learn discretion; then there is danger on the other hand of being conservative, of giving away to the enemy in concessions.... 3SM 397.2

Anything we may do that lifts up the spurious to take the place of the true and genuine Sabbath, is disloyal to God, and we must move very carefully, lest we exalt the decisions of the man of sin. We are not to be found in a neutral position on this matter of so great consequence.... 3SM 397.3

Persecution in the Battle Before the Last Closing Conflict—The two armies will stand distinct and separate, and this distinction will be so marked that many who shall be convinced of the truth will come on the side of God's commandment-keeping people. When this grand work is to take place in the battle, prior to the last closing conflict, many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ's sake in standing in defense of the truth.... You will not be tempted above what you are able to bear. Jesus bore all this and far more.... 3SM 397.4

Work of Wolves in Sheep's Clothing—There will be, even among us, hirelings and wolves in sheep's clothing who will persuade [some of] the flock of God to sacrifice unto other gods before the Lord.... Youth who are not established, rooted and grounded in the truth, will be corrupted and drawn away by the blind leaders of the blind; and the ungodly, the despisers that wonder and perish, who despise the sovereignty of the Ancient of Days, and place on the throne a false god, a being of their own defining, a being altogether such an one as themselves—these agents will be in Satan's hands to corrupt the faith of the unwary. 3SM 398.1