The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, vol. 72

The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Vol. 72


April 16, 1895

“‘As the Oracles of God’” The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 72, 16.


E. J. Waggoner

(London. Eng.)

When the apostle Paul was in Rome, a prisoner for the faith, he made this request of the brethren: Pray “for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds; that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:19, 20. It will be noticed that his sole burden was for the gospel, that it might be presented in a proper manner. How one ought to speak in such a case is set forth by the apostle Peter: “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; ... that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 4:11. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.1

While we are positively forbidden to take any thought, when we are brought before councils, as to how or what we shall speak (Matthew 10:19), we are as positively commanded to study the sacred oracles, since they are the only light for our steps. The Spirit will bring to our remembrance only that which has been pondered upon. In the Sabbath controversy which is now progressing the oracles of God must be especially prominent. The fourth commandment is our warrant for keeping the seventh day of the week, instead of any other day or no day at all; and therefore it is a matter of course that it must be that around which the battle will center. And it is a matter for thanksgiving that the case has been made so simple that an unlearned people need have no difficulty in presenting it. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.2

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day as the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shall not do any work.” Exodus 20:8-10. And then follow the facts upon which the Sabbath is based in the account of its institution. In this we have a divine warrant that will do to present before kings. In the repetition of the commandment in Deuteronomy 5:12, we have the same thing stated in reverse order. “Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it.” This is the same as, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” says to keep holy, or hallow, or to sanctify, are the same thing. The same Hebrew word is used in each case. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.3

The force of the commandment rests on the word “sanctify.” What does it mean? The Scriptures make this very plain. It was very necessary that the people should be kept away from Mount Sinai when the Lord came down upon it to speak his law. So the Lord told Moses to set bounds so that the people could not come up to it. This was done, and when the Lord repeated the charge after he had come down, and Moses had gone up to meet him, Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it.” Exodus 19:23. It is evident that a barrier-“bounds,”-had been erected which made a plain division between the ground that was sacred because of the presence of the Lord and that which was common. The mountain was so set off from the surrounding country that no one could fail to see the distinction. It was sanctified. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.4

To sanctify a thing, therefore, means to make such a distinction between it and other things that nobody need have the slightest difficulty in distinguishing it from everything else. To sanctify the Sabbath as required by the commandment, is to make a marked difference between it and every other day of the week. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.5

How is this difference shown in the case of the Sabbath? The commandment tells us. It says that we are to sanctify the Sabbath by resting upon it. The words, “Six days shall thou labor, and all thy work,” cannot be held to be an absolute command to work on every one of the other six days; but in the command to sanctify the seventh day we are charged to make a difference between it and the other six days in a matter of work. If we treat any other day as we do the Sabbath, we break down the distinction and fail to sanctify the Sabbath. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.6

If we work on the seventh day, it is very clear that we do not sanctify it, because we treat it just as we do all other days. Suppose now that instead of working on the seventh day, we rest, and that we also habitually rest on another day of the week as well; is it not clear that in this case we fail to sanctify the Sabbath just as surely as we do in the other? We break down the distinction, so that, so far as our actions are concerned, we could tell which of the two days is the Sabbath. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.7

It is very clear, therefore, that in order to keep the Sabbath day according to the commandment, we must not only rest on the seventh day, but we must also habitually treat all other days of the week as laboring days. This would be true in any case; but when there is a day, as the first day, which is put forth as a rival to the Sabbath of the Lord, and which claims to be the Sabbath in its stead, the duty of emphasizing the difference becomes more urgent. We are by the commandment bound not only to show that the seventh day is the Sabbath, but also that the first day of the week is not the Sabbath. Of course in all this we are to keep in mind the golden rule, and the injunction of the apostle, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” But by no means are we to compromise the truth of God, and when a power sets itself up against God, and demands that we give to the first day of the week the same outward honor that we give to the Sabbath of the Lord, then we are bound, as loyal subjects of the King of kings, to sanctify the Sabbath in the fullest sense of the word. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.8

In a word, then, the fourth commandment is our sole sufficient warrant for working on Sunday when the laws of men require us to cease from labor on that day. Whether speaking to the people from the free platform or from the prisoner’s dock, we have a simple and clear line of truth to present; namely, the commandment of the Lord of heaven and earth. There can be no stronger ground than this. It is so simple that any child can hold it against all opposition or cross-questioning, and it is all the warrant that is needed. Whoever, therefore, presents something aside from the commandment, by just so much weakens the force of this testimony. As opposed to this ground, let us consider in another article the question of rights. ARSH April 16, 1895, page 242.9

(Concluded next week.)