MR. ANDERSON, you will pardon me, I am sure, if I detain you a few moments. This service has simply compelled me to come and take you by the hand, and to express to you my appreciation.”
Mr. Anderson did not recognize the man.
“Of course, you do not know me; and may I therefore introduce myself as Judge Kershaw of Little Rock, Arkansas?”
“Oh, and you are the man who interrogated Mr. Spaulding yesterday?”
“Yes, sir, though perhaps I should be ashamed of what has since appeared to me an impertinence. But you see, Mr. Spaulding’s statements greatly stirred me, as I remembered the occasion of several years ago, when, at his insistence, a member of your denomination was brought before me for Sunday violation.”
A group of interested passengers began to form as soon as Judge Kershaw began to speak. Harold Wilson was among them.
“At that time,” the judge continued, “I thought I discovered on the part of the prosecution a distinct spirit of intolerance, which to my mind is utterly foreign to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But while this was true, the young defendant manifested most beautiful patience and self-restrain; and as he acted as his own counsel, and spoke in his own behalf, I was persuaded that his principles were of a high order.”
“Was he convicted, judge?” asked one of the listeners.
“Yes; the letter of the law had been violated, the jury brought in a verdict of guilty, and I was obliged to pass sentence. But I was hurt, deeply hurt — hurt in one sense by the wrong spirit shown by the professed Christians who prosecuted, and hurt in another sense by the excellent spirit of the one who was condemned.
“Now I believe I have discovered the secret of that young man’s behavior. He had Christ in his soul. He had a rest and peace to which all of us are strangers. Why, when I was about to pass sentence, and asked him if he had any further word to give the court, he said: ‘Your Honor, I wish to thank you and the gentlemen of the jury for the spirit of fairness shown during the trial. You need have no regret that you are obliged to pass this sentence. We may all well be sad that our statute books are cumbered with a few laws that work hardship to innocent and inoffensive citizens, and personally I hope to see the day come when our fair state will refuse longer to enforce this particular law which to-day sends me to prison. I submit gladly to the penalty, as a Christian ought. I forgive freely the men who have brought me this experience. And I want you all to know that in my heart there is a peace passing all understanding, a peace which will brighten every day and hour I shall spend behind the bars.’
“I sent him to prison, and in the prison he died. And from that day until now, I have had his picture much before me, and I have wanted to know what it was that made him the man he was.”
Kershaw’s Bible Also Marked
“Judge, pardon me; but I too have found the peace which the young man had,” said Harold Wilson, “and I have found it since coming aboard the vessel. I have found it in this Sabbath truth which was presented to-day.”
“Young man, I do not doubt you. You are the one, are you not, who is called ‘the man with the marked Bible’?”
“Yes, sir; and I asked Mr. Anderson to read from my marked Bible to-day.”
Judge Kershaw picked up the Book, and glanced it through. There was moisture in his eyes.
“Mr. Anderson,” he said, “this reminds me of my boyhood, when my parents sought to lead me to a religious life. Like many boys, I was foolishly inclined to make light of Christianity; and ere I could realize it, my youthful days had passed, and I found myself graduated from college and entering upon my professional career without a hope. My education only served to crystallize my early unbelief; and all through the years since, I have seen little or nothing in the average church or its teachings to cause me to change.
“One thought, however, has always followed me — a thought expressed by my mother. A few days before she died, she called me to her, and said: ‘Son, I know I have not always lived before you as I should, and you have your doubts about Christianity. But some day, I know not when, you will surely see that God’s word is true, that there are those who have proved it divine; and thus you will be led to yield your heart to the Author, and love and serve Him.’ You will not know, unless I tell you, why this Bible reminds me of those times so long ago. Well, it is marked as mother marked hers. And, strange to say, the Ten Commandments were especially remembered, even as in this. Mother was a firm believer in every one of the commandments of God.
“But think of it! Here I am, an old man of seventy years. It is nearly time for me to go. Do you suppose this is the hour when mother’s prayer should be answered?”
Does Not the Church See It?
There was a period of deep silence. All seemed to realize that a sacred decision was being made, a decision involving the salvation of a soul, in answer to a prayer offered by a devoted mother a half century before.
And now Mr. Severance spoke: “Judge, this day has been a day of revelation to me also. But I must know more. Mr. Anderson, may I ask you a few brief questions? For instance, if the seventh day is the Sabbath day, and if we are morally bound to make it our day of rest, why does the church as a whole not see and acknowledge it? This troubles me.”
“I have no doubt, Mr. Severance,” Mr. Anderson began, “that there are many causes which have led the professed Christian world to observe Sunday rather than Sabbath. However, I may venture the remark that the Sabbath has been set aside for the same reason that other great moral duties have been neglected or rejected. You will remember that the apostle Paul clearly foretold a time when professed Christians would ‘not endure sound doctrine,’ but would ‘heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,’ and would ‘turn away their ears from the truth.’ 2 Timothy 4:3, 4.
“A brief examination of the Word shows that this evil course has been common all through the ages. Of the church in Isaiah’s day it is written: ‘Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come [prophets of our day, you see] forever and ever: that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.’ Isaiah 30:8-10. At a later time, Ezekiel wrote of the church leaders, saying: ‘Her prophets have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord God, when the Lord hath not spoken.’ And the connection clearly gives the subject under discussion. ‘Her priests have violated My law, and have profaned Mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and the profane, neither have they showed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from My Sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.’ Ezekiel 22:28, 26.
“How plain it is! Both the people and their leaders were unwilling to follow God’s word. The people demanded ‘smooth things;’ and their teachers actually hid their eyes from the truth, in order to satisfy their unfaithful hearers. And, ,ark it, the Sabbath of the Lord was the thing from which the prophets turned and hid their eyes. And mark this also: That word of Ezekiel is prophetic of our day.
“It has always been apparently easy for men to estimate lightly the word of God. Surely it is so now, when higher criticism finds ready access to both pulpit and pew, placing the writings of Inspiration on the same level as the works of Shakespeare, Emerson, Spencer, and others. The day has come when even the Ten Commandments are regarded by many as out of date and in need of revision.”
“Yes,” said one of those in the group, “I was told only yesterday, by a man who looked like a minister, that we can no longer hold the Bible as an absolutely unquestioned authority. He said that much of the Old Testament had been shown to be unhistorical, and that the miracles recorded in the Gospels were largely allegorical. I asked him particularly about the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and he only shrugged his shoulders and smiled.”
“Of course, Mr. Severance,” continued Mr. Anderson, “not all the professed people of God have so far departed from the old paths that they have thus set the Word aside. There are many beautiful and notable exceptions. But if you would know why the great church of to-day, generally speaking, rejects the Sabbath truth, you will find the reason in the facts I have pointed out.”
“Mr. Anderson,” said Judge Kershaw, “what you have given us from the prophetic Scriptures is being strikingly fulfilled at this very time. I have just completed the reading of a magazine article entitled, ‘Blasting at the Rock of Ages,’ which shows that all through our advanced institutions of learning, including our theological seminaries, open infidelity is taught. Positions are taken which completely nullify every moral principle contained in the word of God. I could hardly believe my eyes. And these are the schools from which, of course, our ministers are sent forth.”
“I am not in the least disposed to criticize,” Mr. Anderson responded, “for criticism is a dangerous practice. But you must know, for your own soul’s sake, the dangers of this time, and kindly warn against them. For instance, you have heard it said that truth cannot be known, and that the Bible, like a violin, plays whatever tune is desired, and that this is God’s plan. The statement is frequently made, that ‘the truth of today is the error of tomorrow,’ and vice versa. But Jesus said, ‘Ye shall know the truth’ (John 8:32), and, ‘If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine’ (John 7:17). When a man hungers and thirsts for truth, the Holy Spirit reveals to him the deep things of God, and makes them a part of his very life. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-12. See also John 6:45; 16:13-15.
“Again, you will hear it taught that if you are ‘only sincere’ in what you do, your service is accepted. This sounds well, but it is misleading. Sincerity is necessary, but it never excuses ignorance.”
“Now let me understand you, Mr. Anderson,” said Mr. Severance. “Has not my sincere observance of Sunday been acknowledged of God? I have surely tried to be a Christian.”
“Yes, brother, you have undoubtedly enjoyed God’s love, because you gladly did all you knew to be right. But suppose you see the truth of the fourth commandment and then fail to follow it. Jesus said regarding those in His day, ‘If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin.’ John 15:22. Paul pointed out the same principle, when he said, ‘The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.’ Acts 17:30. Sincerity in wrongdoing ceases to be possible when the light reveals the better way. Sincerity then obliges a man to change his course.”
Harold Wilson, intensely enthusiastic in his new-found experience, and eager to learn, asked the privilege of another question.
“Mr. Anderson, one of the ministers has told me that it is all right to keep the seventh day, but the only question is, Where shall we begin to count? He said he kept the seventh day, but he began his count on Monday. What do you think about it?”
“That is what I have been taught,” added Mr. Severance.
“I have already partially answered the question, but let us notice it further.
“Turn to Exodus 16 and the story of the manna. God said He wanted to ‘prove’ or ‘try’ the people, as to whether they would walk in His law. The plan was that the people should gather their food every day from the first to the sixth. Each day for five days, they were to gather only as much as they needed for that day, planning to have nothing remain over till the morning. On the sixth day, however, they were to gather a supply for two days, the second portion being for use on the seventh day, when no manna fell. This was the Lord’s arrangement.
“Now the count of the days was not left to man’s choice. God Himself did the numbering. And if anyone, purposely or otherwise, tried to make a change, and did not accommodate himself to God’s order, there resulted only confusion and loss, besides definite reproof from the Lord. Evidently some attempted a change by trying to keep the food over till morning; but ‘it bred worms, and stank.’ Verse 20. Others went out on the seventh day to gather manna (possibly because they failed to secure the double portion of the sixth day), but found none. (Verse 27). It was absolutely impossible to change the count.
“Now note the message which came as a result of their careless disobedience: ‘How long refuse ye to keep My commandments and My laws? Verse 28. The test of loyalty was upon the matter of right counting, — counting as God counted, with the Sabbath as the great objective.
“It may be of interest to you to know that in early days, the Hebrew people were accustomed to relate each day of the week to the Sabbath, by a very unusual method: they named the days as ‘First into the Sabbath,’ ‘Second into the Sabbath,’ and so on through the entire week. The Sabbath was really counted every day. And never forget that by three miracles every week, God pointed out the particular and absolute seventh day of the week: first by granting a double portion of manna on the sixth day; second by withholding it altogether on the seventh day; and third by preserving the extra portion on the seventh day.”
“Well, Mr. Anderson, that certainly settles the question of the count. Still, it isn’t altogether clear to me just why the absolute day is so necessary.” The speaker was Mr. Severance.
“A simple illustration, I believe, will make this clear. Let me place before you seven glasses. Six are filled with water, one with rare and delicious fruit nectar. I say to you, If you will take the seventh glass you will find one of the most delightful beverages ever known. You desire the thing of which I speak. Yet there is only one glass containing it, only one glass that is ‘the seventh’ glass, and you must take my count to find out what you are after. If I may state it thus, the blessing of the fruit nectar is wrapped up in my numbering of the glasses.
“Just so it is with the Sabbath. God blessed the seventh day. He put His presence into that particular day and into no other. And if I find Him as my heart really longs to know Him, I must begin to count as He counted, making my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh correspond to His. And when I do so, I am rewarded by actually finding Him, knowing Him, resting in Him. It is because I am with Him in the Sabbath, that I have rest. The true and intelligent Sabbath keeper, therefore, has in his service a blessing that not even a sincere Sunday keeper ever knows.”
Severance Accepts the Sabbath Truth
“I see it, Mr. Anderson, I see it,” declared Mr. Severance; “and this day I join you in the larger service of the Sabbath that God has given. Will you pray for me? I specially need help in arranging my business.”
“I praise the dear Lord, Mr. Severance, for this decision. It is the decision of faith, I am sure. God will help you in shaping your affairs for His service.”
“I have in mind, however,” said Mr. Severance, “more than you think. This is a day of tremendous conviction. My business career all through the years has been along lines that the world may regard as legitimate; but something has told me this afternoon that if I would be holy, and know Him who is holy, and enjoy Him in His holy day, I must retrace many of my steps. I must adjust all my methods to different standards, and go before my patrons and business associates in confession. Yes, even more, I shall have to let many a dollar revert to its real owner. Do you believe God will enable me to bear the cross?”
At this juncture, Captain Mann entered the room.
“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good;
and what doth the Lord require of thee,
but to do justly, and love mercy,
and to walk humbly with thy God?”