A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath



There are some points in Eld. W.’s last affirmative which I may safely pass by without further notice since they have already received sufficient attention. WDUS 20.3

Bro. W. comforts himself with his supposed discovery that I am guilty of the same confusion with regard to the use of “constitute” that I charge upon him. From this the reader will understand that Eld. W. regards my strictures as not without force. But he will also inquire whether Eld. W.’s source of comfort is real, or whether the word, when used by me in his senses, was not borrowed as quotation from him, either directly or in-directly, for the purpose of showing up the fallacy of his reasoning and to make his confusion appear. Possibly these “catches” have caught somebody. WDUS 20.4

Eld. W. now says that he does not now and never did regard the seventh day holy before it was blessed and sanctified. If this is the case, I have certainly misread him. But I cannot dismiss the conviction that his first article, which I have not now at hand, so represents him. However, I am most happy to be set right. He says, “I have constantly made the resting the ground and reason of the sanctification [i. e. making holy,] and God himself declared it.” But the reader will also remember that in his second article he says, “The sanctification of a day consists in a precept for its observance for a special or sacred purpose.” Now if the day had to be made holy before it became so, how is it holy in itself? And if the making of it holy was by a precept, how is the sabbath a “moral” and not a positive institution? WDUS 20.5

The reader will judge from his own sense of the force of language whether to say “the sabbath was directly enforced after the exode” does not most naturally imply that before that event it was indirectly enforced. The transactions on the day of Pentecost and at the house of Cornelius with regard to baptism furnish no parallel to the above. Baptism was directly enforced once for all on Pentecost. The enforcement at the house of the Centurion had no direct reference to baptism, but Cornelius; and the fact that he was then required to be baptized shows that he had not been required to attend to it on Pentecost. But to clinch it all, Eld. W. says, “Perhaps he (I) will yet claim that the precept ‘Thou shalt not kill’ is directly enforced in the New Testament, and ‘of course’ it was not directly enforced at Sinai!” It is well that he says “perhaps,” it may save his reputation as a prophet. He need not ask, “Is Eld. V. also ‘bewildered?’” He will find him clear and pointed then. WDUS 21.1

My comments on Genesis 2:3., Eld. W. treats rather cavalierly; but, if I mistake not, the reader will find more pith in them than Eld. W. sees. While I am satisfied that all of the four points there made will bear testing, yet, if but one of them would stand, he is defeated. Nay more, though all were worthless, and I should establish the affirmative of the next proposition it would suffice to refute his position on that passage. A few things, however, that he says regarding them, shall receive attention. WDUS 21.2

To prove that Genesis 2:24. is not Moses’s comment on v. 23, Eld. W. cites Genesis 3:20. to show that Adam had the necessary knowledge to be himself the author of those words. I have, however, already shown that Genesis 3:20. is an instance of anachronism, i. e., an event introduced before its time. This the very language of the text demands: “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was (not is to be) the mother of all living (or alive, not who are to live).” WDUS 21.3

The instances I cited as cases of anticipation are undeniably such. The mere accident that the sentential or grammatical structure is not the same in Genesis 2:3. as in some of them, does not affect the case in the least. In this respect the passages cited differ even among themselves, and yet are instances of prolepsis. It is the facts that are essential, not the manner in which the facts are stated. WDUS 21.4

Eld. W. places two passages in such a light as to pervert facts, and then makes merry over his caricatures. They are these: WDUS 21.5

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because (future fact anticipated) she was the mother of all living.” WDUS 21.6

“And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because (future fact anticipated) that in it he had rested from all his work which he created and made.” WDUS 21.7

If this were really my argument, I should dismiss it with shame because of its imbecility. But suppose, Bro. W., you place your parenthetic words, “future fact anticipated,” immediately after the and at the beginning of each sentence, then read the sentences in their biblical connections, and see “what a splendid proof-text it would be for Bro. Vogel’s theory.” WDUS 21.8

Again: I am represented as “more than half confessing” that there is no prolepsis in Genesis 2:3. Beg your pardon, sir, I meant no such thing. I claimed all the possible ways exhibited, “comment, prolepsis anachronism,” and all, as applicable here, but expressed a preference for the various lines-of-history explanation. If my language seems to you to express more than this, rest assured I meant no more, and accept this explanation. WDUS 21.9

Eld. W. quotes from my first letter, concerning God’s resting at creation: “There may have been a sabbath then for God to keep, and for Him only,” and takes it as a concession on my part that there was then a sabbath. If he will take the trouble to turn to that letter, he will find that I had for my principal object to show that there was no sabbath then for man to keep on Eld. W.’s own basis, namely, that “a rest necessarily supposes some work performed.” I did not admit that there was a sabbath then at all, but said, in effect, If there was a sabbath, or, to quote the language then employed, “There may have been,” not there was, a sabbath. I roundly deny that there was any sabbath then, either for man or God, in the appropriated or special sense of the word sabbath. That God then rested, i. e. ceased to create, is true, but that this had any special significance, I deny. Strictly speaking, as intimated in my last, the Lord has never rested since the worlds were made; and if Bro. W. means more than simply completed creation by “he did not continue to work after the first six days,” he clearly mistakes the facts. “Behold, I go forward,” says Job, “but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him; on the right hand where he doth work, but I cannot behold him.” Job 23:8-9. Even on the famous seventh day God worked, “upholding all things by the word of his power,” the same word with which he created. WDUS 21.10

My brother repeats again and again the expression “My sabbath” as referring to the fact that God rested on that day and denoting possession on that account. I showed in my last letter, and to this item he has not replied, that such is not the force of “My” as used in such Scriptures, but that it expresses possession only in the same sense and for the same reason that it does in the phrases “Mine altar,” “Mine ordinances,” etc. If “My sabbath” refers to the day on which God rested, then “My sabbaths” refers to days on which He rested, and there is more than one rest day of the Lord! Notwithstanding I have referred him to such facts, and without attempting any disposition of them, he repeats with all assurance, “No person can point to a single reason for its being the Lord’s sabbath except the facts of creation!” Tell me, brother, how the Jewish altar came to be the Lord’s, and the Jewish ordinances the Lord’s ordinances, and you will have answered yourself, having found not only “another reason,” but “the reason.” WDUS 22.1

“Did God make the sabbath for himself?” No, sir, He made it for man. “When was the sabbath made for man?” “Most assuredly when it was made,” Eld. W. correctly replies. But if by this he means that the sabbath was made for any one by God’s resting, I deny it. God’s resting on the seventh day did not make it “the sabbath,” but His “appointing,” i. e. His “blessing” and “hallowing” the seventh day made it “the sabbath.” We must not deceive ourselves by a play on the two different senses of the term sabbath. Sabbath (rest simply) is not the sabbath. God’s resting or ceasing to create may, etymologically, be called sabbath (rest simply,) but it was not “the sabbath,” the sacred rest which was required of man. This sabbath was made when God enjoined a day on man to be sacredly observed, which took place in the wilderness, as I shall soon have an opportunity to prove. WDUS 22.2

My brother asks, in effect, If the sabbath was made after the exode, when God legislated for the Jews only, how was it “made for man,” i. e. all mankind? I answer, it never was made for all mankind. Mark 2:27., refers only to the Jews. The universal term anthropos (man) is thus limited by the known fact that the Gentiles had no sabbath. This is a common use of general terms in every tongue. Thus, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men (anthropoi).” 1 Timothy 2:5. Here the term “men” is used universally, since there is no known limitation. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men (anthropoi,) who shall be able to teach others also.” 1 Timothy 2:2. Here we have the same universal term unlimited save as faithfulness and ability to teach limit it, and yet the known fact, not here mentioned, that wives are not to be public preachers of the Gospel (1 Timothy 2:12.) restricts it in a manner similar to which “man” in Mark 2:27., is restricted. WDUS 22.3

“The week was known to, and recognized by, the patriarchs,” says my brother, and this he regards as proof of a creation sabbath. I wish he had been more explicit in this and had cited the passages on which he relies. I feel awkward in replying to so broad a statement, referring to many passages in general, but to none in particular. Nevertheless I shall try. WDUS 22.4

Genesis 4:3-4 is one of the passages to which, I suppose, he alludes. “And in the process of time (marg. end of days) it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.” etc. WDUS 22.5

1. “End of days” is supposed to refer to the end of the week. If so, it was on Sunday that Cain and Abel sacrificed, and it proves Sunday-keeping rather than sabbath-keeping. WDUS 22.6

2. “End of days” is just as appropriate in itself to express the end of a year as the end of a week; and in this case more so, since after harvest most likely men would bring a thank offering “of the fruit of the ground.” WDUS 22.7

3. “End of days” must denote the end or lapse of a year, or longer period, in 1 Kings 17:7, and Nehemiah 13:6. “After a while (marg. at the end of days)” Elijah’s brook dried up for lack of rain. Simply a week without rain would not have had such an effect.— During the absence of Nehemiah from Jerusalem various disorders crept in among the Jews. “After certain days (marg. at the end of days)” he obtained leave to return and rectify them. A week would have been too short for all this. WDUS 22.8

Genesis 29:26-28. “Fulfill her week,” that is, feast seven days for Leah according to custom (see Judges 14:10-12.) and I will give you Rachel, for whom you shall then “serve with me yet seven years.” WDUS 23.1

1. Seven days of festivity no more prove that the seventh day was observed as a sabbath, than the seven years of service prove that the Patriarchs allowed the land to enjoy a sabbath during the seventh year, as the Jews did; or that the seven years of famine and of plenty (Genesis 41:26-29-53.) prove the same. WDUS 23.2

2. In fact it proves the very opposite, namely, that there was then no sabbath observed; for they feasted and had a merry time for a week. WDUS 23.3

It is true that dividing time into periods of seven days was known to the Patriarchs. See Genesis 7:4-10; 8:10-12; 29:26-28. But WDUS 23.4

1. This does not prove the observance of the seventh day any more than the division of time into periods of seven years proves a sabbatic year. On the contrary, as we have seen, neither Jacob nor the family of Laban observed such a day, and they were religious people. See Genesis 28:1-4., et seq. WDUS 23.5

2. This division of time may have had its origin in the creation week. But it would not follow from this that the seventh day was necessarily kept as a sabbath. WDUS 23.6

3. It is by no means impossible that this division of time originated in in the quarters of the moon, or at least was kept in memory by them, which are about seven days in length. A synodical month is 29 d. 12 hr. 44 min. and 2. 8 sec. in length. A siderial month contains 27 d. 7 hr. 43 min. and 11. 5 sec. The Peruvians counted their months by the moon; their half months by its increase and decrease; and their weeks by its quarters, having no names for the days of the week. They had also a cycle of nine days, the approximate third part of a lunation; as the week is the approximate fourth part. See Kitto’s Cyclopœdia, Art. Day. WDUS 23.7

To conclude. Bro. W. has produced no express command or statement, no example or precedent, and no necessary inference of the sabbath’s having had an existence before the exode. This is simply a fact. Whether he has been successful in establishing a probable inference is not for me to decide. Let the reader judge. WDUS 23.8