The National Reformed Constitution and the American Hierarchy

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

Bear in mind that in the National Reformed Government, the fourth commandment will be a part of the Constitution of the United States; in fact, strictly speaking, the ten commandments will be the Constitution, because they are to be the supreme law. Then everybody in the United States will have to keep the fourth commandment, for to refuse to do so will be rebellion. Let no one misunderstand us. Our opposition is not against the ten commandments, nor against any one of them. We believe most decidedly in keeping the ten commandments, in every jot and tittle, according to the word of Christ, and we teach men so. In short, we believe in keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. We strictly practice in accordance with this belief. Therefore what we shall ever say on this subject, let no one misconstrue into an opposition to the ten commandments, nor to Christ, nor to the Bible. Our opposition is solely to the National Reform movement, and to the hierarchy, the establishment of which is the object of that movement. We believe in strictly keeping the moral law, in deed, in word, and in thought; but we decidedly oppose the project of the National Reformers to put civil government into the realm of morals, to make civil rulers moral governors, and to make a set of ambitious clerics the supervisors of men’s thoughts and the conservators of men’s consciences. NRCAH 16.1

Suppose that the National Reform movement has proved a success. The ten commandments are the supreme law—the Constitution of the Government—and the National Reformers set about to accomplish one of the “practical results” that is sought by their Amendment, namely, “the perpetuation of the Sabbath.”—See Resolutions, Pittsburg Convention. The National Reformers expect a “universal gathering” and “discussion” about the changes that will be made in the Constitution, and this question of the bearing of the ten commandments will, in the nature of the case, be the chief, because the ten commandments are to have the chief place in the “Reformed” Constitution. And as the ten commandments are to have the chief place in the Constitution, and as the fourth commandment of the ten is to have the chief place in the efforts of the National Reformers, it follows that the bearing of the fourth commandment will be the one great national question in the National Reformed Government. What then says the commandment? Let us read:— NRCAH 17.1

“Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy. 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, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” NRCAH 17.2

Even now there is no little discussion about the meaning of this commandment. There are the National Reformers who profess to keep the commandment, and they keep the seventh day—Saturday. There are the National Reformers and the evangelical Christains generally who also profess to keep the commandment, and they keep the first day—Sunday. Then between these extremes there lies a third class who are not Jews, neither are they classed as “evangelical” Christians, yet they profess to be Christians, and profess to keep the fourth commandment—we refer to the Seventh-day Baptists and the Seventh-day Adventists. These insist that to obey the commandment, the seventh day must be kept even by Christians. There are yet others who believe that Sunday should be kept with some degree of sacredness, but with no reference whatever to the fourth commandment. NRCAH 18.1

It is evident that all these discordant views of the bearing of the fourth commandment, are not going to be reconciled by the adoption of the proposed Amendment to the Constitution. And as that commandment will then be a part of the National Constitution, the question of the meaning of commandment, and of what day is to be observed in obeying the commandment, will have to be decided in the Supreme Court of the United States. And mark, if the Supreme Court be left to itself, if the court be allowed to sit simply as a court of law, when this question should come up for decision it would do, so as a question of law and not of theology. NRCAH 18.2

Considering it therefore as a question of law, the court would be guided by the acknowledged rules that are laid down for the interpretation of law and statute. Let us try the interpretation of the commandment by some of these rules. Chancellor Kent, in his “Commentaries,” lays down this rule:— NRCAH 19.1

“The words of a statute, if of common use, are to be taken in their natural, plain, obvious, and ordinary signification and import.” NRCAH 19.2

The first question then is, Are the words of the fourth commandment such as are of common used Look at them and see. The only answer that there can be is, They are. There is not a word in the commandment that is not of common use. Then the judges have no alternative, the words are to be taken in their natural, plain, obvious, and ordinary signification and import. NRCAH 19.3

The Hon. John A. Bingham was appointed by the House of Representatives, to conduct the impeachment of President Johnson. In the course of that trial Mr. Bingham stated this rule of law:— NRCAH 19.4

“When words are plain in a written law, there is an end to all construction. They must be followed.” NRCAH 19.5

The words of the fourth commandment, being of common use, must be plain. Then the court is allowed no latitude for construction, it must follow the plain words of the statute. NRCAH 19.6

What is the purpose of the fourth commandment? It is to secure the keeping of the Sabbath day. For the first sentence is, “Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.” But what day is the Sabbath-day? The commandment itself tells: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Remember that we are asking these questions from the standpoint of law, and not of theology. We are examining it as it will have to be examined should the National Reform movement succeed. These are the very questions that the judges of the Supreme Court will have to ask. And if they are to follow the rules of law, and the words of the then Constitution, these arc the very answers that they will have to make. The judges must follow the words of the statute. As jurists they can do nothing else. Therefore if the court be left to itself and to the principles and rules of civil law, as everybody knows that Saturday is the seventh day, it follows inevitably that as surely as the National Reform movement succeeds, every-body in these United States will have to NRCAH 20.1