The Truth About Seventh-day Adventists


by William H. Branson


MR. CANRIGHT the Baptist bitterly attacks the seventh-day Sabbath, which is kept by Seventh-day Adventists. He says:

The Sabbath is not mentioned by name in the book of Genesis, nor till the time of Moses. Seventh-day Adventism Renounced, p. 249.

The Sabbath was given to the Jews. Ibid., p. 258.

'Thou came down also upon Mt. Sinai.... and made known unto them Thy holy Sabbath.' Neh. 9:13, 14. This implies that it was not known before. Ibid., p. 255.

Now, these bold statements were made by Mr. Canright after he had repudiated the Ten Commandments and had become an advocate of that no-law doctrine which has brought upon the religious world an era of lawlessness and revolt against God.

While Mr. Canright was still in the Adventist faith, and, like David of old, still delighted in the law of the Lord. He wrote profusely on the subject of the Sabbath as well as on the law, and it may be of interest to the reader to compare his arguments of that time on the Sabbath question with those set forth in his book in which he attempts to refute his former teachings. Fortunately these former writings of his are available for reference. We will therefore draw largely from these earlier publications by Mr. Canright, in replying to his later refutation of them, thus permitting the reader to observe how completely his former arguments devour his subsequent denials of them.

In a pamphlet entitled The Morality of the Sabbath, written by him in 1875, fourteen years before he renounced Seventh-day Adventism, Mr. Canright said:

The principle of every moral precept existed before the fall, and would have existed if man had never fallen. This is true of the Sabbath. But all ceremonial precepts were introduced after the fall, to shadow forth redemption.

Here again we find that true of the Sabbath which is true of all moral commandments, viz., that it was a primary institution existing before the fall of man. But this is not true of any ceremonial statute. Idolatry, image worship, profanity, lying, stealing, etc., would all have been as morally wrong if committed before the fall as after. Hence, moral duties may be defined as those resting upon primary principles, or those which did exist before man fell, or before any remedial system was instituted. 

Ceremonial precepts are those which came in consequence of the fall, and which would never have existed but for sin. They grew out of the creature's action as a sinner, and shadowed forth his coming redemption. This is a plainly marked and undeniable distinction between moral and ceremonial precepts. Now we only have to ask to which of these two classes the Sabbath belongs, in order to determine whether it is a moral or a ceremonial precept.  

Only one answer can be given to this. Every fact and principle upon which the Sabbath ever was based did exist before Adam sinned. Creation's work was ended, and the Lord's rest upon the seventh day was in the past. God had placed His blessing upon the seventh day and had set it apart to a sacred use. Thus the record reads: 'Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.' Gen. 2:13.

This is a plain, chronological narration of what occurred in Eden. God worked six days, rested the seventh day, blessed it, and then sanctified it. 'Sanctify' is thus defined by Webster: 'To separate, set apart, or appoint, to a holy or religious use.' Then the Lord did set apart to a holy use the seventh day in Eden. Every reference afterward to the origin of the Sabbath points back to Eden. (See Ex. 16:23; 20:8-11; 31:17; Mark 2:27.) The Sabbath is a memorial of creation.... and hence became necessary as soon as creation week was ended. But for what were types, and shadows, and ceremonies? To point to redemption through Christ who was to come. Col. 2:17; Heb. 10:1. But these were not given until man needed redemption; and he did not need redemption till after he had sinned. But the Sabbath was given before man sinned, and hence was not a typical or ceremonial institution. So we find that the Sabbath is a primary institution, all the reasons for which, like those for every moral precept, existed before the fall. Pages 9-11.

The Sabbath precept, like all moral precepts, applies equally well to all nations, in all countries, and at all times.

All moral laws are of universal application. They are not restricted to one nation or to one country, nor do they change with circumstances; but, on the other hand, merely ceremonial precepts are, from their very nature, restricted in their application to certain persons, times, and places. Here, again, we find evidence of the morality of the Sabbath. As we have shown already, God instituted the Sabbath at creation in Eden before the fall. From this fact several important conclusions necessarily follow:

1. It is not a type. Types were given after the fall to shadow forth redemption; but the Sabbath points back to creation, not forward to redemption. (See Ex. 20:11.)

2. The fact that the Sabbath was given in the Edenic state indicates that it was designed to be a perpetual institution. Hence we read that when the curse shall be removed from this old earth, and the new earth state shall he brought in, then the Sabbath will still be observed, and that forever. Isa. 66:22, 23.

3. It is not a Jewish Sabbath. The simple fact that it was given at creation, twenty-three hundred years before such a distinction existed proves this.

"4. A Jew is a descendant of Judah, one of the twelve tribes. But Judah himself was not born till nearly twenty three hundred years after creation. Hence it is absurd to call it a Jewish institution. It is never so called in the Bible, but it is ever designated as God's holy Sabbath.

5. The Sabbath was given to Adam, who was the representative head of the whole human race, the father of all men and all nations. Acts 17:26. In giving it to him, God thereby gave it to man as a race; hence Christ says truly, 'The Sabbath was made for man.' Mark 2:27. He does not say it was made for the Jew man, nor for the Gentile man, nor for the Christian man; nor does He limit it in any manner; but He puts it on the broad basis that it was made for man. It is a rule in grammar that a noun unlimited by an adjective is to be taken in its broadest sense, as, 'Man is mortal,' meaning all men, the race. So in this case; Christ does not limit it to one class of men, but says that it was made for 'man,' that is, the race.

5. In this language, he points us back to the time when the Sabbath was made, and says that it was made for man. When was the Sabbath made? It was made at creation. God rested on the seventh day, blessed it, and sanctified it. This is how and when it was made. For whom was it made? Christ's language is definite. It 'was made for man.' Being given to Adam, the father of the Gentiles as well as of the Jews, it was thus given to all nations; for Paul says that God 'hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.' Acts 17:26. Ibid., pp. 43-45.

Thus in Mr. Canright's former publication he points out very clearly that the Sabbath as well as every moral precept existed in Eden before the fall. That it was instituted at the close of creation week, that it was set apart to a holy and religious use, and that it was given as a memorial of creation, was blessed and sanctified of God, and given to Adam to be kept. He shows that every reference to the Sabbath after that time clearly points back to Eden. He buttresses all these facts by a Thus says the Lord from Scripture. He clearly points out the fact that the Sabbath is not a type; that it is a perpetual institution; that it is not Jewish; that it was made for man; and that in giving it to Adam, who was the representative head of the entire human race, it was thus given through him to all humanity.

Strange that fourteen years later, when Mr. Canright leaves the Seventh-day Adventist Church, he should so completely forget all this evidence of the existence of the Sabbath from the time of creation, and should boldly declare that the Sabbath was not known until Sinai. How, we ask, is it possible for a man who is truly led by the Spirit of God, so evidently to turn away from the clear teachings of the Word of God inspired by His Spirit? Does the Spirit thus teach one thing through inspiration and another through Mr. Canright? Is God thus divided against Himself? Or is this additional evidence that Mr. Canright had wandered into the darkness, turning away from the Word which David declared to be a lamp unto his feet and a light unto his path?

From Mr. Canright's pamphlet The Morality of the Sabbath, written before he repudiated the moral law and while he was still an Adventist, we quote:


A careful examination of the commandment will show that it is equally applicable to all nations in all ages. Read it carefully. 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.' Cannot Gentiles do that as well as the Jews? Can we not do it as well in America as in Asia?

'Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work.' Is not that enough for any man to work in any country or in any nation? Can the Gentiles endure to work more days than the Jews? ...

'But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.' Is not the seventh day God's rest day now as truly as it, was then? Does it not remain a fact now that God did rest upon the seventh day? And as long as this continues to be a fact, will it not be true that the seventh day is God's rest day? Certainly.

'In it thou shall not do any work.' We need a day of rest and worship now as much as then, the Gentiles as much as the Jews.

Thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.' Do not all these relations exist now among 01 nations? Do they not all have sons and daughters, servants, and cattle? And do not all these need the rest of the Sabbath? Certainly. 'For in six days the Lord made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that in them is.' Is it not just as true now as it was then that God created all things in six days and rested the seventh day? Does not this remain a fact now?

'Wherefore [that is, for this reason] the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.' Why did the Lord bless he Sabbath day and hallow it? Because that in it He had rested from all His work.

As we have shown, the Lord set apart the seventh day s a memorial of creation. Who should observe that memorial? All who are interested in creation. Verily, are not the gentiles as much interested in the work of creation as the Jews ever were? As Paul significantly asks, 'Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also.' Rom. 3:29. Was it not, then, true that God created the Gentiles as well as the Jews; and did not the Gentiles inhabit the earth which He there created? Are they not constantly enjoying the blessings which He there made for man? Certainly. Then why should they not be as much interested to commemorate this great work as were the Jews?

In short, there is not a single idea in the fourth commandment but applies equally well to all nations, in all countries, and at all times. Did the Jews need a day of rest? So do the Gentiles. Did the Jews need a day for religious worship? So do the Gentiles. The Jews kept the seventh day to commemorate creation; so should the Gentiles. Pages 45-47.


Although most of the Protestant world still clings to the custom of Sunday keeping, yet it is a surprising fact that leaders of religious thought in all the great Protestant bodies agree in teaching the eternal perpetuity and the binding obligation of the law of God . And this they do in spite of their continued observance of the first day of the week. Note the following clear declarations from some of them in support of the fact that the seventh-day Sabbath existed from creation, and was not a new institution when given to the Jews at Sinai:

'And sanctified it.' Hebrew kadash. It is by this term that positive appointment of the Sabbath as a day of rest to man is expressed. God's sanctifying the day is equivalent to His commandment to men to sanctify it. As at the close of creation the seventh day was thus set apart by the Most High for such purposes, without limitation to age or country, the observance of it is obligatory upon the whole human race, to whom, in the wisdom of Providence, it may be communicated. This further appears from the reason why God blessed and sanctified it, viz., 'because that in it He had rested,' etc., which is a reason of equal force at all times and equally applying to all the posterity of Adam. And if it formed a just ground for sanctifying the first day which dawned upon the finished system of the universe, it must be equally so for sanctifying every seventh day to the end of time. The observance of the day is moreover enjoined in the Ten Commandments, which was not abolished with the peculiar polity of the Jews, but remains unalterably binding upon Christians in every age of the world. . . . The sanctification of the seventh day in the present case can only be understood of its being set apart to the special worship and service of God. GEORGE BUSH (Presbyterian), professor of Hebrew and Oriental literature, New York City University, Notes, Critical and Practical, on the Book of Genesis, vol. 1, pp. 48, 49.

By this [Sabbath] is meant, the appointed of God at the close of creation, to be observed by man as a day of rest from all secular employment, because that in it God Himself had rested from His work. Gen. 2:1-3. Not that God's rest was necessitated by fatigue (Isa. 40:28); but He rested, that is, ceased to work, on the seventh day as an example to man; hence assigned it as a reason why men should rest on that day. Ex. 20:11; 31:17. God's blessing and sanctifying the day, meant that He separated it from a common to a religious use. To be a perpetual memorial or sign that all who thus observed it would show themselves to be the worshippers of that God who made the world in six days and rested on the seventh. Ex. 20:8-11 ; 31:16,17; Isa. 56:6,7. Amos BINNEY (Methodist), Theological Compend, p. 169.

When it is therefore said by the inspired historian that God 'sanctified the seventh day,' I must understand him to say, that God set it apart (from the other six days of labor), to be religiously employed by man.-REV. J. NEWTON BROWN (Baptist), The Obligation of the Sabbath, p. 48.

1. To make holy, to sanctify, to hallow. 2. To pronounce holy, to sanctify, e. g., the Sabbath (Gen. 2:3); a people (Lev. 20:8, 21:8). Also to institute any holy thing, to appoint. EDWARD ROBINSON, Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon, p. 924.

Where is the example in Scripture of any instituted commemoration not beginning from the time of its appointment ? . . . Did circumcision under the Old Testament, or baptism and the Lord's supper under the New, remain in abeyance for centuries before they were acted upon? And shall the commemoration of the glories of creation be thought to be suspended for more than two thousand years after the occasion on which it was appointed had taken place? And especially as the reason for the celebration existed from the beginning, related to the whole race of mankind more than to the Jews, and was indeed most cogent immediately after the creation? 'DANIEL WILSON, The Divine Authority and Perpetual Obligation of the Lord's Day, pp. 46, 47.


God blessed and sanctified the Sabbath. This He has not done with any other creature. For heaven and earth or any other creature has He not sanctified to Himself; but only the seventh day. The significance of this is especially that we should learn from it to understand that the seventh day is particularly suited for and ought to be used for divine worship. For that is called sanctified, which is separated from all other creatures and dedicated to God. To sanctify is to select to holy use or divine worship, an expression often used by Moses, for instance when he speaks of holy vessels.

It is evident from this text, that even though Adam had stood the test and had remained in his innocency, he would still have kept the seventh day.

And, even though man by sin has lost the perception of God, yet God has willed that the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath should remain, and has willed that man on the seventh day should practice and inculcate the word and worship of God. Dr. Martin Luther's Copious Exposition on Genesis, translated according to the German Text in Walch's Edition by F. W. Bugge, vol. 1, pp. 62, 63.

From these facts I think we may conclude that the Sabbath was originally given to the whole human race, and that it was observed by the Hebrews previously to the giving of the law; and that in early ages, this observance was probably universal. FRANCIS WAYLAND (Baptist), Elements of Moral Science, p. 91.

The Sabbath was made for all men, and was designed to be a universal and perpetual blessing. It was not made for any particular class or race of men, but for man, the generic man, the whole human family.' A. E. WAFFLE, The Lord's Day (Prize Essay), p. 163.

The use of 'remember,' in connection with the fourth commandment, 'implies that the weekly rest day was not a new institution.' It was observed before Sinai was reached. 'The Sabbath was a recognized institution long before the days of Moses. Traces of its strict observance in the ancestral home of Abraham are disclosed in the Assyrian records unearthed in these later days.' (H. Clay Trumbull.) HENRY T. SCHOLL, D.D., in New York Christian Observer (Presbyterian), Dec. 24, 1913.

This was the most ancient institution, God calls them to remember it; as if He had said, Do not forget that when I had finished My creation I instituted the Sabbath, and remember why I did so, and for what purposes. ADAM CLARKE, A Commentary and Critical Notes, vol. 1, p. 402.

The seventh day was observed from Abraham's time, nay, from creation. The Jews identified their own history with the institution of the Sabbath day. They loved and venerated it as a patriarchal usage.' The Evidences of Christianity, a Debate Between Robert Owen and Alexander Campbell, p. 302.

In his wonderful volume Weighed and Wanting, Dwight L. Moody adds, the following ringing testimony on this important subject:

The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word 'remember,' showing that the Sabbath already existed hen God wrote this law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?

I believe that the Sabbath question today is a vital one for the whole country. It is the burning question of the present time. If you give up the Sabbath, the church goes; if you give up the church, the home goes; and if the home goes, the nation goes. That is the direction in which we are travelling.

The church of God is losing its power on account of so many people giving up the Sabbath, and using it to promote selfishness. Page 47.