A Written Discussion ... Upon the Sabbath



The reader will bear in mind that a discussion is different from an essay or an independent argument; it is not to be expected that every point involved in the subject should be noticed, but those contested. The identity of days and the bearing of the word sanctify are often matters of earnest dispute; but they are not with us. Eld. Vogel and myself agree on these. Also where time is so limited it is impossible to notice everything which might in strict justice demand attention. WDUS 42.1

1. Eld. Vogel says the section I quoted from Crosby was put “in small type to indicate that it figures but little in the case.” It is explanatory, and necessary to an understanding of the subject. Its being put in small type does not indicate that it is not truth! Nor does he speak of “impassioned prose”—“even in prose” are his words; and they will stand. WDUS 42.2

I did not maintain silence concerning the Hebrew. I said the exceptions were numerous in both Testaments. Gesenius says of the article, its use is. “nearly the same as in Greek and German.” He also makes the same exception that Crosby does in regard to poetry, though Green does not; and this shows that Green’s not noticing the exceptions is not evidence that exceptions do not exist. Let us notice a few of them. WDUS 42.3

a. Eld. V. says the sabbath was so well known on that morning when the manna was first withheld that the article was demanded. Yet when they had kept the sabbath about five months longer; having witnessed the constantly recurring miracles which pointed it out, and made its observance a necessity; having heard the voice of Jehovah, in his terrible majesty, defining and enforcing it on Mt. Sinai; and Moses had received two copies written by the finger of God; after this lapse of time with all this evidence of its being well known, the same form is used in Exodus 35:2. that is used in Exodus 16:23.; the article is wanting. And this is “legal information” also; not poetry nor “impassioned prose.” WDUS 42.4

b. Leviticus 23:3. was spoken a number of months later, yet the article is omitted. It was not then lacking in “notoriety,” “emphatic distinction,” nor in anything that would insure its use if no exceptions to the rule were allowed. WDUS 42.5

c. A striking instance is found in Exodus 20:10. “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord thy God.” It can not be said that this is indefinite, for the article is inserted in verses 8, 11, on either side of this. Did the translators turn commentators on this text? No; nor did they on Exodus 16:23; facts of history and the usage of the language justify their course. WDUS 42.6

d. Genesis 1:1. “In a beginning”—Heb. Who can find fault with the translators for here inserting the article? It is a faithful translation, i. e. gives the true idea of the text. WDUS 42.7

e. Proverbs 21:1. “A king shall joy in thy strength,” etc. Read the connection and see if the translators have not done justice to the text by inserting the article. I am at a loss to comprehend Eld. Vogel’s remark, “The Hebrew... has no such exceptions as he would force on the Greek text.” If he means that the Grammar which he uses does not notice exceptions, it does not meet the case, for others do; and his expression is unfortunate; liable to mislead. But if he means that the Hebrew of the old Testament has no such exceptions, then his “mine” is easily exploded. I did not use the words “no scholar” in an individual sense, as his italicising the last word implies; but I now think perhaps he was right in his emphasis. WDUS 42.8

f. I repeat that his reference to the expression “a holy convocation” is “an element of weakness in his argument.” It is invariably without the article. It is as if he should attempt to show that a certain man might be distinguished from certain others because his name is John, when John is the name of every one of them. Compare on the passover Exodus 12:16. with Leviticus 23:7., though a year intervened between their mentions. WDUS 42.9

But Bro. Vogel is confessedly ingenious and fruitful of expedients. When the fallacy of his argument on this point is shown, he answers: “Nearly every mention by Moses was either a first mention or a re-mention for the purpose of additional legislation which is nearly an equivalent.” “A kind of equivalent” and “nearly an equivalent” are “a kind of” cushion which he prepares on which to fall easily when compelled to fall from his assumed position; and in case of necessity, as on Nehemiah 9., he can hide behind their ambiguity. The prefix “re” signifies “again” A re-mention is simply a mentioning again. Does he mean that these re-mentions are additional instances of the first mention? And may there be a second, third or fourth occurrence, at long intervals, of the first mention? If not, what does he mean? I would like to know how many months or years must intervene to distinguish between a first and second mention, or between the second mention and merely a “re-remention.” Or if it is only “nearly equivalent,” what proportion belongs to the first mention, and how much of it shall we pass over to the second? If this is not language to help a failing theory I never knew an instance. WDUS 42.10

Yet again, he says the yearly sabbaths might be mentioned indefinitely because the weekly sabbath had taken the article by “emphatic distinction.” If so, why is it that the weekly sabbath wants the article so long after its mention in Exodus 16.? And how can it take the article by “emphatic distinction” if there is not a “vestige of difference” between it and the others, and if it belongs to “the same category,” as he has said? WDUS 43.1

Gesenius, as quoted by Eld. Vogel, was evidently referring to the term sabbath without Regard to its being definite or indefinite, for, in the next article he lenders the text cited, “a sabbath of sabbathism.” But, inasmuch as Eld. V. offers it in proof, he indorses the giving of the article to sabbath in Leviticus 23:32. And thus he furnishes another exception to the rule which he says has no exceptions! WDUS 43.2

2. At first he said the rulers were “surprised,” yet now he says they knew of the order for gathering a double rate of manna. But they came and told Moses before he spoke to them of the sabbath as in verse 23. Yet again he says it is “absurd” to suppose they went to let Moses know the order was obeyed. Well, why did they go? can he give another reason? One thing is beyond conjecture-Eld. V. is befogged over Exodus 16. WDUS 43.3

3. He says the Passover commemorated only “one thing” namely, the passing over of the death-angle in Egypt. Why did he makes this assertion, contrary to the express reading of Exodus 12:15-17? I leave it to the reader if some of his assumed “facts” are not “imaginary.” All that I said in regard to the passover and the sabbath is fully confirmed by the scriptures. WDUS 43.4

4. He does not notice the proof I gave that Deuteronomy 5. has not the original copy of the Decalogue. “These words,” in Deuteronomy 5:23. is the equivalent of these commandments. Compare Exodus 34:28., where Moses says the Lord wrote “the ten words”—(Heb.,) on the tables of stone. Eld. V. might with equal propriety assert that there were only ten words on the tables of stone. “Words” in these texts has a technical or special signification. His remark concerning the rest of Deuteronomy 12:9., etc, is without point. I did not disregard the distinction between the command and the promise. I distinguished also between the rest of Deuteronomy 12., and the sabbath of Deuteronomy 5. His words convey an erroneous impression. I said, and I repeat, that the rest promised to them in contrast with their bondage in Egypt was not the sabbath, but the inheritance of Canaan. The Lord’s words to Paul will far more aptly refer to himself. WDUS 43.5

5. His remarks on “make known” do not better his case; his quotations are irrelevant. To quote Psalm 9:16. to show that “make known” is used in its “primary sense” is truly strange, for the words are not there! “Make known” and “is known” are not synonymous. Nor does Ezekiel 39:7. speak of making known his “new name” as Exodus 6:3-7., quoted by Eld. Vogel. I shall not try to account for his passing off such random statements for argument on the case; I have given him credit for sufficient discrimination to perceive their irrelevancy. WDUS 43.6

6. On John 7. (1.) He says the authors I quoted “all held the sabbath to be a moral institution,” and translated according to their prepossessions. I do not wish to arouse his “righteous indignation a second time over this passage, but I am compelled in justice to his statement is not correct. (2.) Who are those “best N. T. lexicographers” who devote a page or more to the discussion of the Greek word hina? It is true they give a variety of combinations in which it is used, but what lexicographer gives a different rendering of hina mee from that I gave from Parkhurst Robinson, Liddell & Scott, Greenfield, Groves and Donnegan? That is confirmed by the renderings I quoted from the Diaglott and from Olshausen; and I notice also by the grammars of McClintock & Crooks, and Crosby. (3.) I must repeat, and every reader can see, that “Tholuck’s paraphrase” of John 7:23. does not agree with the marginal reading, notwithstanding the effort of Bro. V. to harmonize them. If, “Ye transgress the law,,’ and “Without breaking the law,” are synonymous in his vocabulary, I have but to say they are not in mine. There is plausibility in Bro. Vogel’s softening of the terms, to-wit: it was “no transgression at all;” but Tholuck does not say that! but the very opposite. Why, then, did he quote Tholuck, seeing there is a contradiction between them? After accusing me at the very outset of the discussion, and without any reason, of “begging the question,” and afterward of “perverting facts,” he is now very indignant because I can assign no other reason for his use of Tholuck than “for effect.” He asks if I saw his heart, and refers to Matthew 7:1-2. I answer, no; but I saw what proceeded from it, and refer him to verse 20 of the same chapter. Had he acted up to Matthew 7:12. from the first his complainings would come with better grace. But the evidences are before the readers, and they can judge between us. (4.) His quotation from Dr. Campbell’s preface does not favor his view. It simply says the reader has a “choice of different translations,” but not on which side that choice should fall. I never saw a man catch at smaller straws than does Eld. V. The marginal reading in this case is inadmissible, and his argument on it a non sequitur. WDUS 43.7

7. My view of the record of the spoiling of Jericho he thinks would enable him to show that I cannot prove what day of true time the Jews observed as a sabbath. Let him try it and see. He cannot show by Exodus 16. That it was not the seventh day after six days’ falling of the manna; nor can him prove that it was the day of their deliverance from Egypt. But I can abundantly show that it was the day on which God rested when he made heaven and earth; the seventh day from “the beginning,” and of course the true seventh day of the week. This truth cannot be hid by any means. WDUS 44.1

8. “Exodus 31:17., when fairly constructed,” says Eld. V., “simply refers to the facts of creation for the frequency of the sabbath.” This is certainly assuming much, considering that the idea is so foreign to every statement concerning the blessing and sanctification of the day. Let the reader turn to my last article and see my paraphrase of the fourth commandment. The definitions of terms there given cannot be disputed and they sustain all that I claim or have claimed for the seventh day as the creation sabbath. Creation is referred to, not merely to point out relation or frequency, which could be done without it, but, to show that it is the Lord’s rest day; a day of holiness; a sign that Jehovah is the true God-the Creator of all things. WDUS 44.2

9. All that he says about a “naturalized stranger” has no force. According to his view he cannot prove that the Gentiles, as such, had any law at all. So evidently is this the outgrowth of his theory that I have known prominent men of his denomination to openly take the position that they had none. The blessings of the Gospel are also only for “naturalized strangers,” for Gentiles as such are not partakers of the promises to Israel in the New Covenant. Compare Romans 2:28-29; 9:1-5; Hebrews 8:6-10; Ephesians 2:11-19. His theory of abstract law, and “moral law on a positive basis,” is fanciful and dangerous, as will be fully shown in due time. According to his explanations there is no difference between the “concrete or tangible form, i. e. as a positive command,” and revealed law. Outside of this positive moral law! or tangible, there could be no express or “tangible” rules of obligation! Of course man’s only rule of action was his own “institutions,” as the Spiritualists now have it. And when the “concrete,” the “tangible” or the “direct enforcement” was abolished the whole world was turned back to the blessedness of heathenism: restored to those “general principles” which had so completely failed as a guide in the past, leaving each one to supply the “tangible” or the “direct” according to his prepossessions, feelings, intuitions, or what not; but no more to be guided by the direct, the specific, the tangible, or in other words, the revealed! If this does not open the door for “liberty” large enough to suit the “carnal mind,” (see Romans 8:7.,) I cannot imagine how that might be done. May the Lord save us from the legitimate results of such a theory. WDUS 44.3

I will briefly notice a few points, passed hitherto for want of space. I am willing to leave it with the reader if a duty cannot be “directly enforced” at different times. To deny it is preposterous. A contrast may exist between the direct and indirect, but it was not implied in my language, and he knew I did not have any such contrast in view. To my reference to Cornelius he replies: “The enforcement at the house of Cornelius had no direct reference to baptism, but to Cornelius.” What was enforced there? Baptism, and nothing else. Therefore the enforcement of baptism had no direct reference to baptism! The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter that he might tell him what he ought to do. To this his mission had “direct reference;” and he “commanded them to be baptized! Was this a “direct” or indirect, “tangible” or intangible, enforcement of baptism? He drew a contrast between the direct and indirect enforcement of the sabbath. Well, if to Cornelius there was but an indirect enforcement of baptism, we are satisfied with just such an indirect enforcement of the sabbath! But what, then, does he gain by his hypercriticism? WDUS 44.4

I deny that I perverted facts in my remarks on Genesis. Not a text that he quoted in the O. Testament presents an instance of anachronism. His position as I now understand it is as absurd as the one I examined, to-wit: that Adam did not name his wife until long after he received her-until after her children were born! Very many names in the Old Testament were given by prophetic foresight, as every reader knows, and the naming of Eve is one of the most evident instances of this kind. The tense emphasized by him, argues nothing in the case. The Lord said to Abraham, “A father of many nations have I made thee,” while the son of promise was not yet born. WDUS 45.1

Eld. Vogel said the reader would inquire whether the word “constitute” as used by him was not borrowed as a quotation from me, either directly or indirect for the purpose of showing up the fallacy of my reasoning. I can answer the inquiry; it was not in quotation, either directly or indirectly, but in his own direct argument that he used it. These are his words: “It is at least possible for God to rest without making it thereby a sacred rest; and while his resting on any day would constitute that day a rest day (sabbath,) i. e. day in which he ‘had rested,’ it would not constitute it a sacred rest day.” If, as he claimed, “constitute” can be only properly used in the sense of “appoint,” what is the force of his argument? His pretended explanation is not fair; it does not present the matter in its true light. And his assertion that I confess that there is force in his strictures by my saying that he has made the same distinction, is only frivolous. WDUS 45.2

His remarks and quotations to show that God is still working in upholding, etc. are irrelevant, and being so would require no notice were they not calculated to mislead. The sabbath institution has no reference whatever to the work of upholding or preserving, but only to the work of creating. This has been so often placed before the reader that it might seem unnecessary to repeat it. But it is a truth that in a discussion the prejudices of many are easily excited and it is justifiable to meet whatever tends to divert the reader from the truth at issue. Were their minds always directed to those truths of revelation directly at issue, and never diverted from them, discussions might be more pleasant and profitable than is generally the case. WDUS 45.3

Having now passed through the first two propositions, I submit the subject to the reader, confident that it has been established that WDUS 45.4

1. The sabbath is a memorial of creation; it was blessed and set apart by Jehovah at the conclusion of his work; the Lord himself gave the facts of creation as its basis, and the only reason of its being blessed and sanctified. When its sanctification is spoken of it is never connected with any other events. WDUS 45.5

2. A great and manifest difference is shown between the seventh day or weekly sabbath and the yearly sabbaths, in that it was based on the facts of creation; it was the rest day of the Almighty; God spoke it with his own voice; he wrote it on the tables of stone; it was deposited in the ark with only moral precepts, over which atonement was made before God. Not one of these facts can be applied to the yearly sabbaths, which were parts of a system growing, not out of the acts of the Creator, but out of the necessites of man arising from his own rebellion. WDUS 45.6

3. There is neither express statement nor necessary inference to invalidate any of these truths. WDUS 45.7

And again I pray that God may, by his Spirit, guide us into all truth; that through faith in his Son who died “to put away sin,” we may so “keep his commandments, which is the whole duty of man,” that we may be able to stand in that day when “God shall bring every work into judgment.” WDUS 45.8