Lessons from Sunday Law (Chapter 55 Continued)

              Lessons from Meeting the Sunday Law Crisis of late 1880's and early 1890's                     

                           Selected Messages, Book 3, Chapter 55  ( Continued )  

                                    From the writings of Ellen G. White. Selected Messages, Book 3  pages 393 to 401

                                      Counsel  Relating  to  Sunday  Law  Issues                                                              


  There have arisen in our conference questions that need to have careful attention, whether the Sabbathkeepers in the Southern States, where they are liable to feel the oppressive power of their State laws if they labor on Sunday, shall rest on Sunday to avoid the persecution which must come if they do any labor. [The 1889 General Conference session was held in Battle Creek, October 18 to November 5. On Sabbath, November 2, Ellen White spoke in the morning on Revelation 13, “laying out in clear lines the position of the people of God for this time in regard to Sunday laws.” Sabbath afternoon she read from the Testimonies and an 1883 General Conference sermon relating to the same subject. Neither presentation was reported.—Compilers.] Some of our brethren seem anxious that a resolution shall be passed by the General Conference advising our Sabbathkeeping brethren liable to imprisonment and fines, to refrain from labor on that day. Such resolutions should not be placed before this conference, requiring their action. { 3SM 394.1} 
There are questions about which it is far better to have as little notoriety given as possible, in either case—for or against.... { 3SM 394.2} 


God Will Give Light and Knowledge When Needed  —  When the Sunday question is legislated to become a law, there will not be so great a danger of taking steps that are not of a character to receive the sanction of Heaven ... for the reason that the Lord gives light and knowledge just when it is most needed.... { 3SM 394.3} 
While all Sabbathkeepers are anxious and troubled, seeking to penetrate the mysteries of the future, and to learn all they can in regard to the correct position they shall take, be careful that they are advised correctly in regard to Sunday observance.... There will ever be danger of going to extremes.... { 3SM 394.4} 
If the decision is made that our people shall not labor on Sunday and that our brethren in the Southern States [At the time this manuscript was written Seventh-day Adventists in some of the Southern States were being persecuted because of violation of State Sunday laws. Some of these Adventists refusing to pay fines imposed were put in chain gangs.] shall appear to harmonize with the Sunday law, because of oppression, how long before all over the world [our people] shall be in like circumstances as they are in the South. The decision is to be a universal one. If it comes to the light of day as it will in degrees and there will be concessions and servile bowing to an idol god by those who claim to be Sabbathkeepers, there will be a yielding of principles until all is lost to them. { 3SM 394.5} 
If we counsel them not to respect the idol sabbath exalted to take the place of the Sabbath of the Lord our God, then instruct them in this matter in a quiet way and encourage no defying of the law powers in words or actions unless called to do this for the honor of God to vindicate his downtrodden law. Let there be no unnecessary act of arousing the combative spirit or passions of opponents.... { 3SM 395.1} 
There should be no just occasion to our enemies to charge us with being lawless and defying the laws through any imprudence of our own. [See Testimonies for the Church 9:232-238, “Sunday Labor.”] We should not feel it enjoined upon us to irritate our neighbors who idolize Sunday by making determined efforts to bring labor on that day before them purposely to exhibit an independence.... { 3SM 395.2} 
There should be no noisy demonstration. Let us consider how fearful and terribly sad is the delusion that has taken the world captive and by every means in our power seek to enlighten those who are our bitterest enemies. If there is the acceptance of the principles of the inworking of the Holy Ghost which he [the Christian] must have to fit him for heaven, he will do nothing rashly or presumptuously to create wrath and blasphemy against God.... { 3SM 395.3} 


How You Treat the Sabbath Question Is Decisive  — There are some trying testimonies to be manfully borne by Sabbathkeepers and some bitter persecution finally endured.... Let no resolutions be passed here which will encourage half-hearted service or cowardly hiding our light under a bushel or under a bed, for we will certainly be tried and tested.... Be sure the Sabbath is a test question, and how you treat this question places you either on God’s side or Satan’s side. The mark of the beast is to be presented in some shape to every institution and every individual.... { 3SM 395.4} 
Every move from the first made by Satan was the beginning of his work to continue to the end to exalt the false, to take the place of the genuine Sabbath of Jehovah. He is just as intent now and more determined to do this than ever before. He has come down with great power to deceive them who dwell on the earth with his satanic delusions.... { 3SM 396.1} 
As we meet the emergency, the law of God becomes more precious, more sacred, and as it is more manifestly made void and set aside, in proportion should arise our respect and reverence for the law.... { 3SM 396.2} 
In the exercise of the longsuffering of God, he gives to nations a certain period of probation, but there is a point which, if they pass, there will be the visitation of God in his indignation. He will punish. The world has been advancing from one degree of contempt for God’s law to another, and the prayer may be appropriate at this time, “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” ( Psalm 119:126).... { 3SM 396.3} 


Individuals to Take Responsibility  — Let not anyone make any proud boast, either by precept or example, to show that he is defying the laws of the land. Make no resolutions as to what persons in different states may do, or may not do. Let nothing be done to lessen individual responsibility. To their God they must stand or fall. Let none feel it is his duty to make speeches in the presence of our own people, or of our enemies, that will arouse their combativeness, and they take your words and construe them in such a way that you are charged with being rebellious to the government, for this will close the door of access to the people.... { 3SM 396.4} 
While we cannot bow to an arbitrary power to lift up the Sunday by bowing to it, while we will not violate the Sabbath, which a despotic power will seek to compel us to do, we will be wise in Christ.... We must say no words, that will do ourselves harm, for this would be bad enough, but when you speak words, and when you do presumptuous things that imperil the cause of God, you are doing a cruel work, for you give Satan advantage. We are not to be rash and impetuous, but always learning of Jesus, how to act in his spirit, presenting the truth as it is in Jesus.... { 3SM 396.5} 


Danger of Hasty, Ill-advised Moves  — One indiscreet, high-tempered, stubborn-willed man will, in the great question introduced before us, do much harm. Yes, he will leave such an impression that all the force of Seventh-day Adventists could not counteract his acts of presumption because Satan, the arch deceiver, the great rebel, is deluding minds to the true issue of the great question, and its eternal bearing.... { 3SM 397.1} 
There are those who will, through hasty, ill-advised moves, betray the cause of God into the enemy’s power. There will be men who will seek to be revenged, who will become apostates and betray Christ in the person of his saints. All need to learn discretion; then there is danger on the other hand of being conservative, of giving away to the enemy in concessions.... { 3SM 397.2} 
Anything we may do that lifts up the spurious to take the place of the true and genuine Sabbath, is disloyal to God, and we must move very carefully, lest we exalt the decisions of the man of sin. We are not to be found in a neutral position on this matter of so great consequence.... { 3SM 397.3} 


Persecution in the Battle Before the Last Closing Conflict — The two armies will stand distinct and separate, and this distinction will be so marked that many who shall be convinced of the truth will come on the side of God’s commandment-keeping people. When this grand work is to take place in the battle, prior to the last closing conflict, many will be imprisoned, many will flee for their lives from cities and towns, and many will be martyrs for Christ’s sake in standing in defense of the truth.... You will not be tempted above what you are able to bear. Jesus bore all this and far more.... { 3SM 397.4} 


Work of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing  — There will be, even among us, hirelings and wolves in sheep’s clothing who will persuade [some of] the flock of God to sacrifice unto other gods before the Lord.... Youth who are not established, rooted and grounded in the truth, will be corrupted and drawn away by the blind leaders of the blind; and the ungodly, the despisers that wonder and perish, who despise the sovereignty of the Ancient of Days, and place on the throne a false god, a being of their own defining, a being altogether such an one as themselves—these agents will be in Satan’s hands to corrupt the faith of the unwary. { 3SM 398.1} 


                                            Self-indulgent  Will  Scorn  Faithful  Ones                                                        

  Those who have been self-indulgent and ready to yield to pride and fashion and display, will sneer at the conscientious, truth-loving, God-fearing people, and will in this work sneer at the God of heaven Himself.... { 3SM 398.2} 
In the name of the Lord I advise all his people to have trust in God and not begin now to prepare to find an easy position for any emergency in the future, but to let God prepare for the emergency..

As Our Day Will Be Our Strength  — When the Christian is looking forward to duties and severe trials that he anticipates are to be brought upon him, because of his Christian profession of faith, it is human nature to contemplate the consequences, and shrink from the prospects, and this will be decidedly so as we near the close of this earth’s history. We may be encouraged by the truthfulness of God’s word, that Christ never failed his children as their safe Leader in the hour of their trial; for we have the truthful record of those who have been under the oppressive powers of Satan, that his grace is according to their day. God is faithful who will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able.... { 3SM 398.4} 
There may be large mountains of difficulties in regard to how to meet the claims of God and not stand in defiance of the laws of the land. He [the believer] must not be making ample provisions for himself to shield himself from trial, for he is only God’s instrument and he is to go forward in singleness of purpose with his mind and soul garrisoned day by day, that he will not sacrifice one principle of his integrity, but he will make no boasts, issue no threats, or tell what he will or will not do. For he does not know what he will do until tested.... { 3SM 398.5} 


We Are Not to Irritate Sundaykeeping Neighbors  — There should be a constant walking in all humility. There should be no just occasion for our enemies to charge us with being lawless and defying the laws through any imprudence of our own. We should not feel it enjoined upon us to irritate our neighbors who idolize Sunday by making determined efforts to bring labor on that day before them purposely to exhibit an independence. Our sisters need not select Sunday as the day to exhibit their washing. There should be no noisy demonstration. Let us consider how fearful and terribly sad is the delusion that has taken the world captive and by every means in our power seek to enlighten those who are our bitterest enemies. If there is the acceptance of the principles of the inworking of the Holy Ghost which he [the Christian] must have to fit him for heaven, he will do nothing rashly or presumptuously to create wrath and blasphemy against God.... { 3SM 399.1}  [ see LDE 139.3 ]


 No Deaths Among God’s People After Probation Closes — After Jesus rises up from the mediatorial throne, every case will be decided, and oppression and death coming to God’s people will not then be a testimony in favor of the truth.... { 3SM 399.2} 
We urge you to consider this danger: That which we have most to fear is nominal Christianity. We have many who profess the truth who will be overcome because they are not acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ. They cannot distinguish his voice from that of a stranger. There is to be no dread of anyone being borne down even in a widespread apostasy, who has a living experience in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. If Jesus be formed within, the hope of glory, the illiterate as well as the educated can bear the testimony of our faith, saying, “I know in whom I have believed.” Some will not, in argument, be able to show wherein their adversary is wrong, having never had any advantages that others have had, yet these are not overborne by the apostasy, because they have the evidence in their own heart that they have the truth, and the most subtle reasoning and assaults of Satan cannot move them from their knowledge of the truth, and they have not a doubt or fear that they are themselves in error.... { 3SM 399.3} 
When profligacy and heresy and infidelity fill the land, there will be many humble homes where prayer, sincere and contrite prayer, will be offered from those who have never heard the truth, and there will be many hearts that will carry a weight of oppression for the dishonor done to God. We are too narrow in our ideas, we are poor judges, for many of these will be accepted of God because they cherish every ray of light that shone upon them.—Manuscript 6, 1889. { 3SM 400.1}


Pay Fine if It Will Deliver From the Oppressor
Men are inspired by Satan to execute his purposes against God. The Lord has said, “Verily my sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations” ( Exodus 31:13). None should disobey this command in order to escape persecution. But let all consider the words of Christ, “When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another” ( Matthew 10:23). If it can be avoided, do not put yourselves into the power of men who are worked by the spirit of Antichrist. If the payment of a fine will deliver our brethren from the hands of these oppressors, let it be paid, rather than to be pressed and made to work on the Sabbath. Everything that we can do should be done that those who are willing to suffer for the truth’s sake may be saved from oppression and cruelty.... { 3SM 400.2} 
When men under conviction resist light, follow their own inclinations, and regard the favor of men above the favor of God, they do as did many in Christ’s day.... { 3SM 400.3} 


Commandments Not to Be Ignored in Order to Have an Easy Time  — Christ is our example. The determination of Antichrist to carry out the rebellion he began in heaven will continue to work on the children of disobedience. Their envy and hatred against those who obey the fourth commandment will wax more and more bitter. But the people of God are not to hide their banner. They are not to ignore the commandments of God, and in order to have an easy time go with the multitude to do evil. They should be careful not to condemn their brethren in the faith who are steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.... { 3SM 401.1} 
Those who forsake God in order to save their lives will be forsaken by Him. In seeking to save their lives by yielding the truth, they will lose eternal life. { 3SM 401.2} 
Natural affection for relatives and friends should not lead any soul who sees the light to reject the light, to dishonor God the Father and Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son. Every possible excuse for disobedience will be framed by men who choose, as many did in Christ’s day, the favor of men rather than the favor of God. If one chooses wife or children, father or mother, before Christ, that choice will stand through eternal ages, with all its weight of responsibility.... { 3SM 401.3} 
The soul that has had light in regard to the Lord’s Sabbath, his memorial of creation, and to save himself from inconvenience and reproach has chosen to remain disloyal, has sold his Lord. He has dishonored the name of Christ, he has taken his stand with the armies of Antichrist; with them at the last great day, he will be found outside the city of God, not with the loyal, the true and righteous, in the heavenly kingdom. { 3SM 401.4} 
All who have genuine faith will be tested and tried. They may have to forsake houses and lands, and even their own relatives, because of bitter opposition. “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another,” Christ said. “Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” ( Matthew 10:23). { 3SM 401.5} 


Antichrist—Those Who Exalt Themselves Against God—Will Feel His Wrath  — The greater man’s influence for good, under the control of the Spirit of God, the more determined will be the enemy to indulge his envy and jealousy toward him by religious persecution. But all heaven is on the side of Christ, not of Antichrist. Those who love God and are willing to be partakers with Christ in his sufferings, God will honor. Antichrist, meaning all who exalt themselves against the will and work of God, will at the appointed time feel the wrath of Him who gave Himself that they might not perish but have eternal life. All who persevere in obedience, all who will not sell their souls for money or for the favor of men, God will register in the book of life.—Manuscript 9, 1900. { 3SM 402.1} 


                                                    Return  to  Chapter 55 ( part 1 )

                                                 Continue  to  Chapter 56  --  As We Near the End

Related Information

Lessons from Sunday Law Crisis in 1880s