Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists


Importance of the Sabbath

While some have been urging their man-made tests upon the people, the claims of the fourth commandment have been held very lightly. We knew that the blessing of God could not rest upon this church until there was a reformation upon this important point. Those who stand in responsible positions should be careful that their words and example are such as will lead the people to correct views and practices. They should be sure that in no way they belittle the requirements of God. Because the fourth commandment is so widely disregarded, we should be the more earnest and decided in seeking to honor this precept of God's holy law. The third angel's message is that which we are to present to the world. Here God has a test for us, and if we come up to the standard, we shall be a peculiar people. Whoever obeys the fourth commandment will find that a separating line is drawn between him and the world. The Sabbath is a test, not a human requirement, but God's test. It is that which will distinguish between those who serve God and those who serve him not; and upon this point will come the last great conflict of the controversy between truth and error. HS 215.2

Among our people generally in these kingdoms, the Sabbath has not stood in the exalted position where God has placed it. The world is the instrument that sifts the church, and tests the genuineness of its members. The world holds out inducements, that, when accepted, place the believer where his life is not in harmony with his profession. Some of our brethren engaged in business have not kept the Sabbath according to the commandment. Some have been in partnership with unbelievers, and the influence of these Sabbath-breaking associates has had its effect upon them. Some have been so blinded that they could not discern the danger in such connections, but it is only the greater because unperceived. While one partner is professedly observing the Sabbath, the other, with the laborers employed, is carrying on the business of the firm. The Sabbath-keeper, though not outwardly engaged in labor, cannot keep his thoughts from business matters. While he may endeavor to keep the Sabbath, he does not keep it. The Lord looks upon him as a transgressor. HS 215.3

Even in business relations we cannot, without involving principle, connect ourselves with those who are not loyal to God. What the one party feels that conscience forbids, the other allows. And this not merely in regard to religious matters, but in business transactions. The one acts from selfish motives, regardless of God's law or the salvation of the soul; and if the other sincerely loves God and the truth, there must be either a sacrifice of principle or frequent and painful differences. It will require a continual struggle to resist the worldly influence and example of his ungodly associate. He has great difficulties to meet; for he has placed himself on the enemy's ground. The only safe course is to give heed to the inspired injunction: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean; and I will receive you.” HS 215.4

Some of our people have sent their children to school on the Sabbath. They were not compelled to do this, but the school authorities objected to receiving the children unless they should attend six days. In some of these schools, pupils are not only instructed in the usual branches of study, but are taught to do various kinds of work; and here the children of professed commandment-keepers have been sent upon the Sabbath. Some parents have tried to justify their course by quoting the words of Christ, that it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath day. But the same reasoning would prove that men may labor on the Sabbath because they must earn bread for their children; and there is no limit, no boundary line, to show what should and what should not be done. HS 216.1

Had these dear brethren possessed greater spirituality, had they realized the binding claim of God's law as every one of us should, they would have known their duty, and would not have been walking in darkness. It was very hard for them to see how they could take any other course. But God does not consult our convenience in regard to his commandments. He expects us to obey them, and to teach them to our children. We have before us the example of Abraham, the father of the faithful. The God of heaven says, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.” And this was why such great blessings were pronounced upon him and his posterity. HS 216.2

Our brethren cannot expect the approval of God while they place their children where it is impossible for them to obey the fourth commandment. They should endeavor to make some arrangement with the authorities whereby the children shall be excused from attendance at school upon the seventh day. If this fails, then their duty is plain, to obey God's requirements at whatever cost. In some places in Central Europe, persons have been fined and imprisoned for not sending their children to school on the Sabbath. In one place, after a brother had plainly stated his faith, an officer of justice came to his door, and compelled the children to go to school. The parents gave them a Bible instead of their usual text-books, and their time was spent in studying it. But wherever it can be done, our people should establish schools of their own. Where they cannot do this, they should as soon as possible remove to some place where they can be free to keep the commandments of God. HS 216.3

Some will urge that the Lord is not so particular in his requirements; that it is not their duty to keep the Sabbath strictly at so great loss, or to place themselves where they will be brought in conflict with the laws of the land. But here is just where the test is coming, whether we will honor the law of God above the requirements of men. This is what will distinguish between those who honor God and those who dishonor him. Here is where we are to prove our loyalty. The history of God's dealings with his people in all ages shows that he demands exact obedience. HS 216.4

When the destroying angel was about to pass through the land of Egypt, and smite the first-born of both man and beast, the Israelites were directed to bring their children into the house with them, and to strike the door-post with blood, and none were to go out of the house; for all that were found among the Egyptians would be destroyed with them. Suppose an Israelite had neglected to place the sign of blood upon his door, saying that the angel of God would be able to distinguish between the Hebrews and the Egyptians; would the heavenly sentinels have stood to guard that dwelling? We should take this lesson to ourselves. Again the destroying angel is to pass through the land. There is to be a mark placed upon God's people, and that mark is the keeping of his holy Sabbath. We are not to follow our own will and judgment, and flatter ourselves that God will come to our terms. God tests our faith by giving us some part to act in connection with his interposition in our behalf. To those who comply with the conditions, his promises will be fulfilled; but all that venture to depart from his instructions, to follow a way of their own choosing, will perish with the wicked when his judgments are visited upon the earth. HS 217.1

If parents allow their children to receive an education with the world, and make the Sabbath a common day, then the seal of God cannot be placed upon them. They will be destroyed with the world; and will not their blood rest upon the parents? But if we faithfully teach our children God's commandments, bring them into subjection to parental authority, and then by faith and prayer commit them to God, he will work with our efforts; for he has promised it. And when the overflowing scourge shall pass through the land, they with us may be hidden in the secret of the Lord's pavilion. HS 217.2

God brought his people Israel from Egypt that they might keep his Sabbath, and he gave them special directions how to keep it. The ten precepts spoken by his own voice from Sinai, and the instructions given to Moses, were recorded for the benefit of all who should live upon the earth, to the close of time. God has given man six days for labor, but he has reserved the seventh to himself, and he has pronounced a blessing upon those who keep it holy. The day before the Sabbath is to be made a day of preparation, that everything may be in readiness for its sacred hours. “Bake that which ye will bake today, and seethe that ye will seethe.” “Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.” Divine mercy has directed that the sick and suffering should be cared for; the labor required to make them comfortable is a work of necessity, and no violation of the Sabbath. But all unnecessary work should be avoided. Many carelessly put off till the beginning of the Sabbath little things that should have been done on the day of preparation. This should not be. Any work that is neglected until the commencement of holy time should remain undone until the Sabbath is past. HS 217.3

The words and thoughts should be guarded. Those who discuss business matters and lay plans on the Sabbath, are regarded of God as though they engaged in the actual transaction of business. To keep the Sabbath holy, we should not even allow our minds to dwell upon things of a worldly character. HS 218.1

Sunday is generally made a day of feasting and pleasure-seeking; but the Lord would have his people give the world a higher, holier example. Upon the Sabbath there should be a solemn dedication of the family to God. The commandment includes all within our gates; all the inmates of the house are to lay aside their worldly business, and employ the sacred hours in devotion. Let all unite to honor God by cheerful service upon his holy day. HS 218.2

In our labor for the Christiania church we faithfully presented before them the far-reaching requirements of God's law, and their great need of thorough repentance and returning unto the Lord. During our meetings, the dear Saviour came very near to us again and again. A good work was begun. We called them forward for prayers several times, and though this was a new experience to them, there was a quick and hearty response. Earnest, heartfelt confessions were made. Several had become discouraged and backslidden because of the accusing spirit manifested, and the lack of love for God and for one another. These humbly confessed their own wrong in allowing their faith in God and the truth to become weakened. Some had yielded the Sabbath through fear that they could not support their families. Others acknowledged that they had indulged a critical, fault-finding spirit. Many said that they had never realized as now the importance of the truth and the influence that it must have upon their life and character. Not a few testified with gratitude that they had received God's blessing as never before. HS 218.3

We were thankful for every token that this dear people were obtaining a sense of their true condition. But some who should have been personally interested, were looking on as though they had no interest at stake. The testimonies which the Lord gave them did not seem to be received. They did not break the bands which held them under condemnation of the Spirit of God. The Saviour was knocking at the door of their hearts, but they were unwilling then and there to remove the rubbish which barred his entrance. The Lord's time was not their time. Had they cleared the way, the Lord would have given them an experience of the highest value. But we know that souls have accepted the truth who have never felt the transforming power of the grace of Christ. We hope that this will not be the last invitation of the Spirit of God to them. We did all that we could for these dear souls. We did not cease to warn and entreat them, and we spent many hours in prayer for them while others were sleeping. If those who let that golden opportunity pass, had taken their position decidedly for the truth, determined to share with the church the warfare, the self-denial, and the reproach, and to share the final victory, there would have been a revival whose influence would have been far-reaching outside the church. HS 218.4

God calls upon the workers in this mission to reach a higher, holier standard. Christiania is an important point in our mission fields; it is the great center of the work for the Scandinavian people. From this place the publications are sent out, and the laborers go forth to proclaim the commandments of God, and it is of the greatest importance that a right influence be exerted by this church, both by precept and example. The standard must not be placed so low that those who accept the truth shall transgress God's commandments while professing to obey them. Better, far better, would it be to leave them in darkness until they could receive the truth in its purity. HS 218.5

There are those who are watching this people to see what is the influence of the truth upon them. The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light; when the claims of the fourth commandment are set before them, they look to see how it is regarded by those who profess to obey it. They study the life and character of its advocates, to learn whether these are in harmony with their profession of faith; and by the opinions thus formed, many are influenced very largely in the acceptance or rejection of the truth. If this people will conform their lives to the Bible standard, they will be indeed a light in the world, a city set upon a hill. HS 219.1