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Sunday at the World’s Fair

by WM. H. Armstrong


The question of closing on Sunday the gates of the World’s Fair is one that not only interests our nation but also the nations of the world.

On September 3, eighty members of the National World’s Fair Commission, and one hundred members of the Board of Lady Managers, listened to the arguments of representatives of the American Sabbath Union for closing the World’s Fair Sundays. The arguments for Sunday closing were presented by Col. Elliott F. Shepard, President of the American Sabbath Union; Rev. Dr. S. F. Scoville, President of Wooster University, Ohio; Rev. T. A. Fenley, Secretary of the Philadelphia Sabbath Association; Gen. O. O. Howard; Col. Alex. F. Bacon; Hon. L. S. Coffin; Rev. F. L. Patton, President of Princeton University; Dr. P. S. Henson of Chicago; and Mrs. T. B. Carse, as the representative of the W. C. T. U.

On reading the addresses and petitions presented by the above named persons, I was surprised to see the diversity of names given to the first day of the week. Some called it “the Sabbath day,” others “Sunday,” while another class termed it “the American Sabbath”—none of them having Bible authority for the names given. This inadvertence might be excused if these gentlemen were not poising as moulders of public thought and teachers of Bible truth, while they are endeavoring to palm off Sunday upon the National Columbian Commission as a “holy day,” for which they cannot produce Bible authority.

Nowhere in the Bible can they find any command to keep Sunday as a “holy day,” neither can they there find where the Jewish Sabbath was ever changed to the first day of the week—Sunday. This change was made by Constantine’s edict, in 321 a.d., which was the first law either ecclesiastical or civil by which the sabbatical observance of Sunday was known to have been ordained. Does anyone claim that Constantine was inspired? The sabbatical observance of Sunday, as prescribed by Constantine, or of “the American Sabbath,” as prescribed by statutory law, is yielding obedience to the commandments of man and not of God, and all their advocates are confronted with the Scripture: “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt. xv. 9.

As Dr. Francis L. Patton, of Princeton University, was the only speaker who attempted to speak on the Biblical aspect of the Sunday question, I shall direct my remarks to him. The doctor is quoted as saying: “The Ten Commandments represent the high water mark of morality. The Jew had contributed the greatest feature of the civilization of the nineteenth century. The Sabbath had become the inheritance of every civilized nation. God had issued His command as to the observance of the Sabbath, and that command was imperative.” These words would be more appropriate coming from a Pharisee, but when spoken by a Gentile claiming to be a minister of the New Testament, 2 Cor. iii. 6, they come with bad grace, and are not in harmony with the Scriptures.

The Ten Commandments made on Sinai were delivered to the Jews alone and never were intended for the Gentiles, for Paul said: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves.” Rom. ii. 14. An appeal to the law itself shows that it was always and only addressed to the house of Israel, “to you and your children, to your man servants, and maid servants, and to thy stranger that is within thy gates.” It cannot be proven that God ever commanded a Gentile to keep the Sabbath. “The Ten Commandments,” says Luther, “do not apply to us Gentiles and Christians, but only to the Jews.” “A law,” says Grotius, “obliges only those to whom it is given, and to whom the Mosaic law is given, itself declares: ‘hear, O Israel.’”

When the Gentiles first began to accept Jesus Christ, we read in Acts xv. that the Apostles, elders, and brethren at Jerusalem wrote them letters as follows: “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment…. For it seemeth good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.” Here is freedom for the Gentiles from the Ten Commandments and especially the observance of the Jewish Sabbath, the most valued of the ten.

Romans ii. 14 plainly shows “the Gentiles had not the law,” and this constituted a mark of distinction between Jew and Gentile. But had the law been also given to the Gentiles, the Jewish nation would not have been fenced off from the rest of the world by it. The very fact that they were a separate people under the law proves that their code was not a universal law. Paul said: “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.” Gal. v. 3. This is clear, only the circumcised Jew and proselyte was under the law.

In favor of the Mosaic law, many advocates say that all municipal governments are based upon it; but this only proves that it is not of the Kingdom of Christ, because his kingdom is not of this world. Christ’s law is the “ministration of Spirit” “the law of the spirit of life written in the heart.” The Sinai law was the “ministration of death” written on stone. Moses’ law only gave the knowledge of sin, Christ’s law gives a far more exquisite knowledge of sin, and contains the remedy for its removal.

We find, in Matt, xxviii. 18-20, and Mark xvi. 15-20, the final universal commission of Christ, his imperative orders to all teachers and preachers in the Kingdom of God. Everything else is excluded but Christ’s Gospel, and his commands. They stand out against every form of sin, and they only are to be preached to sinners as a means of conviction and salvation, and to believers as their present rule of life; and to show that he is not subjected to, nor in need of any former code, he announces the fact that “All power is given me in heaven and earth.” Here Christ sets up his supreme authority, removes all temporary systems, and demands subjection to his own gospel and commandments.

It would have been more appropriate for the members of the American Sabbath Union, in their petitions to the National Columbian Commission, to subscribe themselves “many Israelites,” for they preach the law of commandments more than the Spirit of the Lord, which is life and liberty. Paul describes them, viz.: “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament: which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day when Moses is read, the vail is upon their hearts. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” 2 Cor. iii. 14-16.

Doctor Patton is credited with saying: “If the nation and fair should yield obedience to the fourth commandment they would be in a fair way to the other nine.” I wish, while the doctor was speaking, that the Apostle Paul could have stepped in and delivered several of his old sermons such as he delivered to the Galatians who, as Christians, were trying to keep the law of Moses. I select a few of his observations, viz.: “Man is not justified by the works of the law. For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith; but after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye be led of the Spirit ye are not under the law.” Gal. ii. 16; iii. 10, 11, 12, 24, 25; v. 4, 14, 18.

Paul also tells those “foolish Galatians”: “But now, after ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” Gal. iv. 9-11. I can see how Paul would be also afraid of these Sunday agitators, as they spend much of their time in the observance-worship of days, months, times, and years.

Under the old covenant God’s laws were written on tables of stone, while under the new covenant we receive the promise, viz.: “This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.” Heb. x. 16.

All who consider “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” applies to them, should keep the day in the exact manner prescribed for the Israelites. There are seventy-seven positive commands from God to the children of Israel regarding the keeping of the Sabbath day holy to Him. Now, I ask what Bible authority has Doctor Patton, or any of the Sabbath day advocates for ignoring or abridging any of these seventy-seven commands? To obey the law, no wood or water must be borne; no fire built; no victuals cooked; no domestic animals must be worked, even to drive to the house of worship. To do any of these were a violation of the fourth commandment. Is there a member of the American Sabbath Union who keeps the law for which they are clamoring? These agitators rush to Chicago, with petitions signed by hundreds of thousands, and say: “If the fair is opened Sunday it will force tens of thousands of employees to work Sunday,” while their petitioners are forcing hundreds of thousands of their employees to do even extra work in getting up their best dinners for the clergy and visiting brethren on Sunday; this they do though the fourth commandment says: “Thou shalt have no work done,” “that thy man servant and thy maid servant-may rest as well as thou.” Deut. v. 12-14.

No one can deny the necessity and benefit of man resting one day in seven; but when any set of men attempt to make our legal rest day “a holy day,” and prescribe certain modes and forms of rest by demanding that the nation discard their newspapers, conveniences, and amusements—which are means of rest to the majority—because they call them sins if enjoyed on Sunday, it is in order for us to “speak out” and ask these reformers to produce their authority.

No man has the right of dictating to another how he shall rest. What is rest for one man would be an unpleasant strain upon another; to illustrate: The church people, mostly the wealthy class who are not bound with labor’s chains, can do as they please, enjoy all the amusements—the ball, theatre, lecture, concert, card-party, etc.,—throughout the week, so when Sunday comes it is a rest for them to ride to church, glide up the aisles, listen to the deep, solemn sounding tones of the organ, glance around at the rich toilets, hear a pleasing short lecture, greet friends, and return home for a nice dinner. The poor laboring man who has none of these things would feel out of place among all that culture, wealth, and luxury, so he must seek other diversions.

The members of the American Sabbath Union remind one of the Scribes and Pharisees, who brought unto Jesus a woman taken in adultery and said unto him: “Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned, but what sayest thou?” Jesus, totally disregarding Mosaic law, said unto them: “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” So we can apply these words of Jesus to “the Sunday agitators”—as law breakers—and say unto them, he that is not breaking any of Moses’ laws among you, let him first cast a stone at the managers of the World’s Fair.

When Jesus came bringing the light of the new covenant, he showed how unimportant was this question, for we cannot find in the New Testament where he ever recommended anyone to keep the Sabbath day holy. On the contrary, he and his disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath by the hypocritical Scribes and Pharisees.

“The poor we have always with us,” and to alleviate as much as possible the misery of the less fortunate is one of the noblest missions of life. From dark, dust-begrimed habitations of a hot city comes a cry whose burden is “Fresh Air.” So throw wide open the gates of the World’s Fair on Sundays, that the wage worker may find rest and enjoyment; for the rich can rest when they please—the poor must take recreation when they can. Sectism is blinding humanity and turning them from the old pathway to Jesus, the Son of God, who came to save man from his sins. This “one day worship” is not enough, for God claims our services each and every day, as every day is given us by Him. God certainly must be jealous of nations to-day serving Satan six days in the week and then worshipping Sunday (Constantine’s law) or Saturday (Moses’ law) instead of Him. For their Sunday worship is mostly vain show and pomp, fashioned as a crowd bedecked for a theatrical performance, all of which is forbidden in the Bible (1 Tim. ii. 9-11), which they profess to follow.