Religious Liberty And The Seventh-Day Sabbath


"When brought before courts, we are to give up our rights, unless by so doing we are brought into collision with God. We are not pleading for our right, but for God’s right to our service."


Sunday Labor: And the Way to Oppose Error

Armadale, Australia

The following includes key excerpts from an important interview that took place at the Armadale campground November 20, 1895. The immediate context was the work taking place in the South, which is referenced at times as the "colored" work. No offense is intended by this, the word being a clear indicator of the subject matter. In the course of the interview, the context was broadened to include the entire world. Important principles were given for introducing truth and responding to persecution for keeping the Seventh-Day Sabbath and Sunday Blue Laws.—Dan

November 20, 1895 (Recopied June 28, 1899)

Sunday Labor: And the Way to Oppose Error

On the morning of November 20, 1895, a council meeting was called at the large tent on the Armadale campground to consider some questions arising from the discussions of our brethren regarding the religious liberty work. The positions recently taken by some of our brethren indicated that there was a necessity for a more thorough understanding of the principles which must govern our work. {SpM 19.1}

There were present Brethren W. W. Prescott, A. G. Daniells, W. C. White, M. C. Israel, L. J. Rousseau, W. A. Colcord, M. C. Kellogg, W. D. Salisbury, James Smith, and Sisters E. G. White and E. J. Burnham. {SpM 19.2}

Several letters were read with reference to the questions at issue, then Sister White read a letter which she had written to Elder A. T. Jones in May, 1894, which had been unavoidably withheld until very recently. {SpM 19.3}

In this letter reference was made to the necessity of our speakers presenting the truth in such a simple manner that even the small children could comprehend the lessons which it was designed to teach. Remarking on this, Sister White said: “According to the light which has been given to me, when the heavenly intelligences see that men will no longer present the truth in simplicity as did Jesus, the very children will be moved upon by the Spirit of God, and will go forth proclaiming the truth for this time.” {SpM 19.4}

The brethren were invited to discuss the points treated in the letters, but all were desirous of hearing further from Sister White, and she made the following remarks:— {SpM 19.5}

There is a terrible crisis just before us, through which all must pass, and especially will it come and be felt in _____. My mind has been much troubled over the positions which some of our brethren are liable to take in regard to the work to be done among the colored people in the Southern States. There is one point that I wish to lay before those who work in the Southern field. Among the colored people, they will have to labor in different lines from those followed in the North. They can not go to the South and present the real facts in reference to Sunday-keeping being the mark of the beast, and encourage the colored people to work on Sunday: for the same spirit that held the colored people in slavery is not dead, but alive today, and ready to spring into activity. The same spirit of oppression is still cherished in the minds of many of the white people of the South and will reveal itself in cruel deeds, which are the manifestation of their religious zeal. Some will oppose in every possible way any action which has a tendency to uplift the colored race, and teach them to be self-supporting. {SpM 19.6}

“When the white people try to educate the colored people in the truth, jealousy is aroused, and ministers, both colored and white, will bitterly oppose the truth. The colored ministers think that they know how to preach to their own race better than the white ministers can, and they feel that the whites are taking the work out of their hands. By falsehood they will create the most decided opposition, and those among the white people who are opposed to the truth will help them and will make it exceedingly hard for the work of the message to advance. {SpM 20.1}

"When the practices of the people do not come into conflict with the law of God, you may conform to them. If the workers fail to do this, they will not only hinder their own work, but they will place stumbling blocks in the way of those for whom they labor, and hinder them from accepting the Truth."

“When the truth is proclaimed in the South, a marked difference will be shown by those who oppose the truth in their greater regard for Sunday, and great care must then be exercised not to do anything to arouse their prejudice. Otherwise, we may just as well leave the field entirely, for the workers will have all the white people against them. Those who oppose the truth will not work openly, but through secret organizations, and they will seek to hinder the work in every possible way. Our laborers must move in a quiet way, striving to do everything possible to present the truth to the people, remembering that the love of Christ will melt down opposition. {SpM 20.2}

"On Sunday there is the very best opportunity for those who are missionaries to hold Sunday schools, and come to the people in the simplest manner possible, telling them of the Love of Jesus for sinners, and educating them in the Scriptures."

“From the light that I have received, I see that if we would get the truth before the Southern people, we must not encourage the colored people to work on Sunday. There must be a clear understanding regarding this, but it need not be published in our papers. Not a word should be spoken to create prejudice, for if by any careless or impulsive speech to the colored people in regard to the whites any prejudice is created in their minds against the whites, or in the minds of the white people against them the spirit of the enemy will work in the children of disobedience. Thus an opposition will be aroused which will hinder the work of the message, and will endanger the lives of the workers and of the believers. {SpM 20.3}

“We are not to make efforts to teach the Southern people to work on Sunday. That which some of our brethren have written upon this point is not based upon right principles. When the practices of the people do not come into conflict with the law of God, you may conform to them. If the workers fail to do this, they will not only hinder their own work, but they will place stumbling blocks in the way of those for whom they labor, and hinder them from accepting the Truth. On Sunday there is the very best opportunity for those who are missionaries to hold Sunday schools, and come to the people in the simplest manner possible, telling them of the Love of Jesus for sinners, and educating them in the Scriptures. There are many ways of reaching all the classes, both dark or white. We are to interest them in the life of Christ from His childhood up to manhood, and through His life of ministry to the cross. We can not work in all localities in the same way. We must let the Holy Spirit guide; for men and women can not convince others of the wrong traits of character. While laboring to introduce the truth, we must accommodate ourselves as much as possible to the field, and the circumstances of those for whom we labor.” {SpM 20.4}

Question : Should not those in the Southern Field work on Sunday? {SpM 21.1}

“If they do this, there is danger that as soon as the opposing element can get the slightest opportunity, they will stir up one another to persecute those who do this, and to pick off those whom they hate. At present Sunday-keeping is not the test. The time will come when men will not only forbid Sunday work, but they will try to force men to labor on the Sabbath. And men will be asked to renounce the Sabbath and to subscribe to Sunday observance or forfeit their freedom and their lives. But the time for this has not yet come, for the truth must be presented more fully before the people as a witness. What I have said about this should not be understood as referring to the action of old Sabbath-keepers who understand the truth. They must move as the Lord shall direct them, but let them consider that they can do the best missionary work on Sunday. {SpM 21.2}

“Slavery will again be revived in the Southern States; for the spirit of slavery still lives. Therefore it will not do for those who labor among the colored people to preach the truth as boldly and openly as they would be free to do in other places. Even Christ clothed His lessons in figures and parables to avoid the opposition of the Pharisees. When the colored people feel that they have the Word of God in regard to the Sabbath question, and the sanction of those who have brought them the truth, some who are impulsive will take the opportunity to defy the Sunday laws, and by a presumptuous defiance of their oppressors they will bring to themselves much sorrow. Very faithfully the colored people must be instructed to be like Christ, to patiently suffer wrongs, that they may help their fellow men to see the light of truth. {SpM 21.3} [This admonition is for believers of all races.—Dan]

"Refraining from work on Sunday is not receiving the mark of the beast: and where this will advance the interests of the work, it should be done. We should not go out of our way to work on Sunday."

“A terrible condition of things is certainly opening before us. According to the light which is given me in regard to the Southern Field, the work there must be done as wisely and carefully as possible, and it must be done in the manner in which Christ would work. The people will soon find out what you believe about Sunday and the Sabbath, for they will ask questions. Then you can tell them, but not in such a manner as to attract attention to your work. You need not cut short your work by yourself laboring on Sunday. It would be better to take that day to instruct others in regard to the love of Jesus and true conversion.” {SpM 21.4}

Question : Should the same principles govern our work and our attitude toward the Sunday question in foreign fields where the prejudices of the people are so strong? {SpM 22.1}

“Yes, just the same. The light that I have is that God’s servants should go quietly to work, preaching the grand, precious truths of the Bible—showing that the reason why Christ died is because the law of God is immutable, unchangeable, eternal. The Spirit of the Lord will awaken the conscience and the understanding of those with whom you work, bringing the commandments of God to their remembrance. I can hardly describe to you the way in which this has been presented to me. The Lord says in Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches.” Have any of you seen this angel? The messengers from heaven are close beside those who stand before the people, holding forth the word of life. In preaching the truth, it is not always best to present those strong points of truth that will arouse prejudice, especially where such strong feelings exist as are felt in the Southern States. The Sabbath must be taught in a decided manner, but be cautious how you deal with the idol, Sunday. “A word to the wise is sufficient.” {SpM 22.2}

“I have given you the light which has been presented to me. If followed, it will change the course of many, and will make them wise, cautious teachers. Refraining from work on Sunday is not receiving the mark of the beast: and where this will advance the interests of the work, it should be done. We should not go out of our way to work on Sunday. {SpM 22.3}

After the Sabbath has been sacredly observed, in places where the opposition is so strong as to arouse persecution if work is done on Sunday, let our brethren make that day an occasion to do genuine missionary work. Let them visit the sick and the poor, ministering to their wants, and they will find favorable opportunities to open the Scriptures to individuals and to families. Thus most profitable work can be done for the Master. When those who hear and see the light on the Sabbath take their stand upon the truth to keep God’s holy day, difficulties will arise, for efforts will be brought to bear against them to compel men and women to transgress the law of God. Here they must stand firm, that they will not violate the law of God, and if the opposition and persecution is determinedly kept up, let them heed the words of Christ, “When they persecute you in one city, flee ye into another; for verily I say unto you, ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.” {SpM 22.4}

“The time has not yet come for us to work as though there were no prejudice. Christ said, “Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” If you see that by doing certain things which you have a perfect right to do, you hinder the work of the truth, refrain from doing those things. Do nothing that will close the minds of others against the truth. There is a world to save, and we gain nothing by cutting loose from those we are trying to help. All things may be lawful, but all things are not expedient. We have no right to do anything that will obstruct the light which is shining from heaven; yet by a wrong course of action we may imperil the work, and close the door which God has opened for the entrance of the Truth. The final issue of the Sabbath question has not yet come, and by imprudent action we may bring on a crisis before the time. You may have all the truth, but you need not let it all flash at once upon minds, lest it become darkness to them. Even Christ said to His disciples, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye can not hear them now.” We must not go into a place, open our satchel, show all we have, and tell everything we know at once. We must work cautiously, presenting the truth by degrees, as the hearers can bear it, and keeping close to the Lord. {SpM 22.5}


Living Out The Truth

The Waldensians lived out their principles.

“The Waldensians entered the schools of the world as students. They made no pretensions. Apparently they paid no attention to any one; but, they lived out what they believed. They never sacrificed principle, and their principles put into practice soon became known to other students. This was different from anything the other students had ever seen, and they began to ask among themselves, what does this all mean? While they were considering this, they heard them praying in their rooms, not to the Virgin Mary but to the Saviour, whom they addressed as the only mediator between God and man. The worldly students were encouraged to make inquiries, and as the simple story of the truth as it is in Jesus was told, their minds grasped it. {SpM 23.1}

Witness On Secular Campuses By Living The Truth

“These things I tried to present at Harbor Heights. These who have the Spirit of God, who have the truth wrought into their very being, prudent men, wise in their methods of reaching others, should be encouraged to enter colleges, as students live the truth, as did Joseph in Egypt, and Daniel, and Paul. Each one should study the situation and see what is the best way to represent the truth in the school, that the light may shine forth. Let them show that they respect all the rules and regulations of the schools. The leaven will begin to work; for we can depend much more upon the power of God manifested in the lives of His children than upon any words that can be spoken. But they should also tell inquirers, in as simple language as they can, of the Bible doctrines. {SpM 23.2}

"In our work for the saving of souls, we must not think that we can receive help from those around us; by a close connection with Jesus, we must be in that place where we can help them."

“There are those who, after becoming established, rooted, and grounded in the truth, should enter these institutions of learning as students. They can keep the living principles of the truth, and observe the Sabbath, and yet they will have opportunity to work for the Master by dropping seeds of truth in minds and hearts. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, those seeds will spring up to bear fruit for the glory of God, and will result in the saving of souls. The students need not go to these institutions of learning in order to become enlightened upon theological subjects; for, the teachers of the school need themselves to become Bible students. No open controversies should be entered into, but opportunity given for questions upon Bible doctrines, and light will be flashed into many minds, and a spirit of investigation will be aroused. {SpM 23.3}

There Is Danger With This Method Of Labor

But I scarcely dare present this method of labor; for there is danger that those who have no decided connection with God will place themselves in these schools, and instead of correcting error and diffusing light, will themselves be led astray. But this work must be done; and it will be done by those who are led and taught of God. {SpM 23.4}

Christ's Method

“Jesus was a teacher when He was but twelve years old. He went in before the rabbis and doctors of the law as a learner, asking questions that surprised the learned doctors, and showing eagerness to obtain information. By every question he poured light into their darkened minds. Had He allowed them to suspect that He was trying to teach them, they would have spurned Him. So it was all through His life. By His purity, His humility, His meekness, He rebuked sin. Those around Him could not find a single thing for which to blame Him, yet He was at work all the time. He worked in His own home until He had no home. His lot was no more pleasant than that of the young people who today are trying to walk in His footsteps. {SpM 24.1}

“If all our people would work in Christ’s way, what a blessing it would be. There are many ways in which to diffuse light, and a great work can be done in many lines that is not now done. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” This spirit will inspire others to do the will of the Lord also, in earnest, self-sacrificing effort. {SpM 24.2}

“This world is God’s property. Wicked men are only permitted to live in it till they have filled up the cup of their iniquity. It was deeded to Abraham and His children, and ere long God’s people shall take possession of it. In our work for the saving of souls, we must not think that we can receive help from those around us; by a close connection with Jesus, we must be in that place where we can help them. Advance truth! Give those with whom you may come in contact an opportunity to learn what is truth, and to become converted. But do not think that your light gives you license to make a raid on those who are in error. {SpM 24.3}

“When we begin to work with parliaments, and with men holding high positions in governments, the enemy is aroused to exert all his strength against us, and he will make the work hard. Do not let your work be known any more than is necessary: the best course to follow is that which will avoid opposition. The least said about the foolish errors of others, the better. Do not speak disrespectfully of ministers. Satan and all his hosts are working to make of none effect the law of God and when we begin to work on controversial lines, he will lead men to believe that we do not regard their laws or obey their decrees. Believing this, they will make it as hard as possible for all who will not worship their idol Sunday. {SpM 24.4}

“We are not to reveal all our purposes and plans to men. Satan will take advantage of any indiscretion shown on this point. He does not work openly and above-board. He works in an underhanded manner, and will continue to do so. Before the people are prepared for it, he leads men to set a powerful movement on foot by working on their minds. {SpM 24.5}

Question : Can we not get the truth before the minds of the members of parliament in a quiet way, by furnishing them with reading matter? {SpM 24.6}

“From the light that has been given me, I see that we should fear lest rulers take their position against our work. If they do this, they will act like the enemy of all good. Every opportunity to become acquainted with these men should be embraced: but we should do nothing that will produce anything like prejudice. It means a great deal to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. We have so much determination in us that often we do things unguardedly and rashly. We must appear before these men as trying to help others, working on the lines of the Christian help work. As they see the good work we do in these lines, their prejudice in a measure will be removed; their hearts will be opened to the truth. Do not present the Sabbath abruptly: present Christ. Should they begin to oppose you, saying, “Oh, he is a Seventh-day Adventist,’ lift up Christ higher, and still higher.” {SpM 25.1}

Question : Would it not be as well for us to present principles, rather than to dwell upon what the government will do? {SpM 25.2}

We should have nothing to do with the actions of the government. Our duty is to obey God. When you are arrested, take no thought what you shall say or do. You are to follow Christ step by step. You need not commence weeks beforehand to examine the question and lay plans as to what you will do when the powers shall do this or that, neither need you think what you are to say. Study the truth, and the Spirit of the Lord will bring to your remembrance what you shall say. Our minds should be a treasure house, filled with the Word of God. {SpM 25.3}

When the enemy begins to work, we need not allow our feelings to control, and resort to strange fire. We need not become combative. By doing this, we may thus betray the cause at the very point where victory is ours. If we let go our hold of Jesus, and trust in ourselves, it may take months, or perhaps years, to counteract that one wrong move. Unless we are converted, and become as little children, we shall never see the kingdom of God. These are the lessons we need to bring into our schools. The students do not need science as much as they need these principles. Teach them how to advance the truth as it is in Jesus. {SpM 25.4}

The world is not to be condemned until after it has had the light. We must tell people the simple story of the cross. They are to be pitied, and just as much as possible we must soften the message we bring to them. This will soften their hearts, so that the Spirit of the Lord can mold them. In all their past life they have been receiving false ideas. If we come close to them, and tell them of the love of Christ, we can do much for them.” {SpM 25.5}


Question : Is it wrong for our brethren to work out their fines? {SpM 25.6}

Christ Gave Up His Rights; We Must Give Up Our Rights

“Christ, the King of Glory, carried the cross upon which He was about to be crucified. The people had not the slightest semblance of right to inflict this upon Him, but He did not refuse to submit. Christ suffered and died for us. Shall we refuse to be partaker of His sufferings? Let the servants pay tribute as the Master did, lest others be offended. {SpM 25.7}

When brought before courts, we are to give up our rights, unless by so doing we are brought into collision with God. We are not pleading for our right, but for God’s right to our service. Instead of resisting the penalties imposed unjustly upon us, it would be better to take heed to the Saviour’s word, ‘When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say into you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.’” {SpM 26.1}

Mrs. E. G. White


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