IT was no idle resolution which Captain Mann formed when he determined to go again to Mr. Mitchell in order to get to the bottom of some of the matters that were agitating his mind; and after leaving Honolulu, he found his opportunity.
The “Tenyo Maru” was one of the largest and finest passenger vessels that plied the waters of the Pacific, and the responsibilities of its captain were tremendous in both their number and their weight. There was not an hour of the day or of the night when he was out from under the burden of his vessel’s care. Nevertheless, Captain Mann was able to interest himself in the needs of his kindly presence and unselfish helpfulness.
Never before, however, had he been so stirred by any question, personal or otherwise, as by this which had arisen over the experience of Harold Wilson. At every hour of the day, it pressed in upon his mind; and every day, he sought opportunity to investigate and pray about it. In fact, it had brought a crisis into his life, and he felt that he must meet it.
For many years, he had set apart as sacred a small portion of each day
for Bible reading and prayer. One
afternoon, the hour for personal devotion having come, he was about to enter
his stateroom, when he met Mr. Mitchell.
This was the time, he reasoned, to carry out his purpose; and the two
were soon seated and engaged in conversation.
Captain Corners the Preacher
“Mr. Mitchell,” said the captain, “do you believe in the binding moral obligations of the Ten Commandments?”
“Yes, captain, I most certainly do.”
“Do you indorse the idea that the Bible as a whole is the authoritative word of God, given by inspiration as our guide?”
“Most assuredly. There is no other safe position to take. No man who allows himself to discount any portion of the good old Book can meet the attacks of the atheist or the infidel.”
“Pardon me, doctor; but may I ask then, pointedly, how you harmonize this view with your statement of yesterday that we would better ignore the question of the Sabbath and go on quietly in the keeping of Sunday, though admitting there is no Bible foundation for doing so? It seems to me you play fast and loose.”
“Well, captain, when I say that I believe in the binding moral obligations of the Ten Commandments, I must except the fourth, for this is not moral in the same sense as are the other nine. The claims of the Sabbath commandment are satisfied just as fully by a setting apart of the first day of the week as of the seventh. The time feature of the fourth commandment is not necessarily moral.”
“Mr. Mitchell,” said the captain very earnestly, “do you mean to
tell me that concrete terms, such as ‘The seventh day is the Sabbath of the
Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work,’ are not necessarily moral?
Has God no power to incorporate moral principle in the specific and
limiting word ‘seventh?’
Minute Will Not Do
“Let me illustrate my point: I have under me a large force of men manning this vessel. For the safety of all aboard, I am required to hold frequent fire drills, and I issue orders to the engineer to blow the fire whistle at twelve o’clock sharp Tuesday noon. Having done this, I arrange all my plans accordingly, making everything fit in to a particular minute. Supremely important is that minute to me, to my crew, to my passengers, and to my company. And that engineer is under solemn contract to carry out my instructions, whether or not my reasons are known or understood. In such case, you are bound to admit that a moral obligation, of which time is almost the entire value, is binding an inferior to obey his superior. And you will not even hint that the engineer or anyone else may reasonably or rightly decide that some other minute will fulfill my purpose.
“The fourth commandment is the commandment of all the ten, it seems to me, most vitally charged with moral principle, because of its specific time element. You see, men may differ over such matters as what constitutes a lie, or what is comprehended in hatred, or what is profanity; but they simply cannot argue over the meaning of such a term as ‘seventh.’
“Why, Mr. Mitchell, I was taught this by my mother; and all my life, I have found in the Sabbath commandment my strong fortress of absolute integrity. It has been righteousness expressed in figures; and figures are not very often found lying.
“Of course, I have always believed that when Jesus came, He changed the day of rest from the seventh day of the week to the first. And this did not trouble me, for I believed that He who set apart the seventh day in olden time as a day of worship and rest, had a right to sanctify and bless the first day of the week in later time, just as I would have a right to change an appointment from noon on Tuesday to noon on Wednesday.
“But you are the first one to tell me that no moral value attaches to the matter of time. You are the first minister to put forth the idea that the fourth commandment is an exception, and that in a sense it is unmoral. The whole Bible is inspired, yet you permit your human reasoning to nullify a portion of the only words directly spoken by God Himself to the human ear.
“Again I beg your pardon; but let me suggest this query: If, as you say, the Bible is the authoritative word of God; if the Ten Commandments are unchangeably binding in their moral claims; if neither Jesus Christ nor His apostles made a change in the day of the Sabbath; if the observance of Sunday rests only on early custom, — if all these things be true, then are you and I not under solemn covenant obligation to keep the fourth commandment?
“Mr. Mitchell, I did not accept your counsel of yesterday; and when I met the young man last evening, I was constrained to acknowledge myself mistaken. No man who recognizes that his soul is at stake in this great life game will ever knowingly do evil that good may come.
“I am still hoping to get hold of my evidence that at the cross, a new era was introduced, and that since that time, the followers of Christ, under the new covenant, are to honor ‘the Lord’s day,’ the day of the resurrection. But mark this: If I find that in this too I have been mistaken, and that the Bible is silent concerning a change of the time of the Sabbath, I shall gladly and with all my heart take up my cross anew and keep the Sabbath, the seventh day.”
Apparently Mr. Mitchell was not disposed to take the captain’s earnest and logical remarks very seriously, and they were not allowed to banish his accustomed smile. When the captain had finished, the minister only said: “Well, you are surely my superior in argument, and I must attempt no reply. You may rest assured, though, that if you stand by your reasoning, you will be obliged to keep the Jewish Sabbath.”
At this point, Mr.
Mitchell found it necessary to be excused; and with cheerful “So long,” he
made his exit. the truth of the
matter was, he felt himself distinctly embarrassed, and wished to avoid
further probing at the captain’s hands.
Other Preachers Aboard
As the minister withdrew, Harold Wilson called “just a minute,” to inform the captain that since they had talked the day before, he had found “a lot of new things.”
“Have you been talking to the Rev. Mr. Anderson, young man?” the captain inquired.
“No; but I have been reading my Bible and talking to people I have met. And, captain, this Sabbath question is a mighty interesting subject. Everybody wants to know about it. Did you know there are three other preachers aboard?”
The captain well knew this, but his experience with Mr. Mitchell had somewhat discouraged him.
“One of those preachers is a great talker, captain. When he heard me talking to some of the men, he acted as though he had some bad blood. Why, he almost jumped at me, and said that anybody who kept the old Jewish Sabbath was ‘almost a Christ killer,’ if you know what that means.
“Well, I didn’t know at first what to say, so I just let him talk on till I got my breath.
“By and by I asked him what he meant by the ‘Jewish Sabbath.’ I said, ‘Do you mean the Sabbath of the fourth commandment?’
“ ‘Yes, sir,’ he said, ‘that’s exactly what I mean. The Ten Commandments were given to the Jews; and when Christ came and died, they were all nailed to the cross. The Sabbath lived and died with that Christless nation.’
“Just then Mr. Anderson came along, and I just couldn’t help asking him what he thought. You see, I had never heard about a Jewish Sabbath, or in fact, any other particular kind of Sabbath, so I wanted to have the preachers make it clear.
“The first thing Mr. Anderson did was to ask Mr. Spaulding why he called it ‘Jewish.’
“ ‘Because, with all the other commandments of the old law, it was given to the Jews,’ he replied. ‘And that whole code was abolished at the cross.’ “
“That is what I have always understood,” said the captain, interrupting Harold’s narration.
“But you’ll never believe it longer, I think,” said Harold, “after you’ve heard the story.
“Mr. Anderson asked, ‘Do you believe, then, that to-day there is no law against stealing and murdering, and that there is no longer any obligation for children to honor father and mother?’
“Mr. Spaulding then said something that didn’t amount to much, for he seemed unable to explain; and Mr. Anderson inquired: ‘Brother, what do you preach to people when you wish them to accept Christ? Do you not tell them they are sinners? You certainly do; but the moment you say this, you are denying your theory, for men are sinners only when they have transgressed the law. Paul says, you know, that “sin is not imputed when there id no law.” ‘
“A crowd began to gather while Mr. Anderson was speaking, and Mr. Spaulding asked to be excused; but we all insisted he ought to help finish the conversation he had begun, so he stayed.
“ ‘Now, brother,’ Mr. Anderson said, ‘this has always been true. The only reason why Adam was a sinner was that he transgressed law. All through the history of time, there has been sin; and all through the history of time, therefore, there has been law — God’s moral law. Thus all through the history of time, likewise, there has been a Saviour to redeem man from the law’s condemnation. Law, sin, Saviour, — these are the three great outstanding facts in the Bible story.’
“I gave him my Bible to read his proof from, and he surely gave a plenty. He read a text for every statement he made. 1 John 3:4 showed sin to be transgression; Romans 5:13, that there cannot be sin without law; and Romans 5:12, that Adam sinned; and Revelation 13:8, that Christ has been a Saviour from the very first.”
The captain picked up his own Bible, and read Revelation 13:8; for it came to him as a text scarcely known before.
“That does say, young man, that Christ was slain from the foundation of the world, doesn’t it? But I do not exactly understand it.”
“Well, Mr. Anderson explained it by saying that all the time before Christ came, people had the gospel, and were saved by faith in a Redeemer to come. He read Galatians 3:8 and John 8:56 to show that Abraham knew Christ, and Hebrews 11:26 to show that Moses did. A man couldn’t help but see it.
“Then he showed that Christ was the one who gave the Sabbath in the beginning, that it was Christ who spoke the Ten Commandments, and that it was Christ who went with the Israelites through all their journeys. Of course, Mr. Spaulding didn’t enjoy it at all; but he had to acknowledge that what was said was true, for it was all there in the Bible.
“I couldn’t help laughing when, at the last, Mr. Anderson asked:
‘Brother Spaulding, if Christ made the worlds (and you admit that He did),
and if it was He who made the Sabbath and gave it to man (and you admit that
too), and if He spoke the law on Sinai, and thus gave the Sabbath again, must
it not be that the Sabbath known back there was the Sabbath of Christ, and
therefore the Christian Sabbath?’ Mr.
Spaulding blushed, and moved in a funny, nervous way, and then we all laughed. But he said ‘Yes’ just the same.
He couldn’t help it.
“Before we left, Mr. Anderson said this: ‘Friends, I am sure you can all see that the term “Jewish Sabbath” is an expression which Christians should not use any more than they should say “the Jewish law of God.” Both the law, and the Sabbath, which is a part of it, were given at the very beginning, 2,500 years before the Jewish nation existed. The Sabbath was given to the whole human race; or, as Jesus said, it “was made for man.” Mark 2:27.’
“Mr. Spaulding was quite excited when we broke up; and he said to us: ‘This has been a kind of one-sided discussion to-day; but if any of you want to study this further, come here tomorrow at two o’clock, and I will show you a few things. You will then see that this seventh-day business is a pretty small affair.’ “
DISAGREEMENT AND CONFUSION
HUMAN nature enjoys a fray; and as the word was passed around among the passengers that the Rev. Mr. Spaulding intended to take the theological warpath, a buzz of excitement was at once created, and here and there little groups could be seen discussing what might happen the next day.
Captain Mann wore a smiling face and maintained a strictly neutral air, but inwardly he was sharing the spirit of intensity which seemed to have taken possession of the passengers.
Mr. Spaulding, immediately after his conversation with Mr. Anderson, in which he had felt his position rudely shaken, sought out his fellow ministers and invited them to his room for a consultation.
The veil of secrecy must of necessity be thrown around much that took place as the three good clerical brethren met and considered the situation. Suffice it here to say that when the Rev. Mr. Mitchell learned, after his arrival, the purpose of the meeting, he devoutly wished himself elsewhere. He distinctly saw that his brother minister had made a mistake, and that unless much care and wisdom were exercised, great embarrassment was sure to follow.
Agree Among Themselves
That which most distressed them all in their planning was the fact that they seemed utterly unable to agree among themselves. Mr. Spaulding believed that the Sabbath had been abolished at the cross; Mr. Mitchell held that it had bee changed, and rightly, by the early church; while the Rev. Mr. Gregory was bound to teach that the seventh day of the fourth commandment should be observed, but that Sunday was the true seventh day.
Seeing the hopelessness of reconciling these divergent and conflicting views, Mr. Mitchell finally ventured to repeat the advice he had given Captain Mann; namely, that the wise course to take would be to ignore the question, and emphasize such points as God’s love and world evangelism; and thus cause the ordinary inquirer to forget and pass on.
“But, Brother Mitchell, I cannot do that,” interposed Mr. Spaulding. “I have put myself on record, and have openly announced that at two o’clock I will meet all who are interested. I have to do something.”
“Yet you will find, brother, that if you attempt to show that the moral law has been abolished, you have brought the whole question into a tremendous tangle. Why, you can see that as soon as you claim the abolition of the whole law, just to get rid of the Sabbath, you have really taken from us the only standard of righteous living ever given to the world.” Thus spoke the Rev. Mr. Gregory.
“Oh no, brother! for we now have the new law, and are under its jurisdiction,” said Mr. Spaulding.
Gregory States a Truth
“Well, I have heard that argument over and over again,” replied Mr. Gregory, “but always to be convinced more fully of its weakness, if not its absurdity. Did not Jesus Christ clearly teach, all through the Sermon on the Mount, the inviolability of the law? Read Matthew 5:17, 18 and onward, and see. And did not Paul, by inspiration, make the decided statement that faith establishes the law? See Romans 3:31. Then listen to James, who actually quotes the sixth and the seventh commandment, thus showing what law he means, and, in close connection, directly calls it ‘the royal law,’ ‘the law of liberty,’ the law by which men are finally to be judged. James 2:8-12. Brother, the ‘new law’ of which you speak is only the Decalogue made new by the life and power of Jesus Christ. And that old law made new includes the Sabbath, and no one can escape it. Cannot you see that?”
“But, my dear friend,” Mr. Spaulding very earnestly responded, “if you take that position, you will certainly have to surrender our custom of Sunday worship; for there is absolutely no doubt that Saturday is the seventh day of the week, and therefore the day to be kept, according to the commandment. The only way to avoid the seventh day is to be freed from the commandment itself.
“One or two points make clear that the seventh day we have now is the same seventh day know at the beginning: first, the wording of the commandment itself; second, the preservation of the day from Sinai till now. The commandment is explicit. It says: “the seventh day is the Sabbath. . . . For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth. . . . and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.’ In other words, the seventh day to which the commandment refers is the same day of the week God kept at creation. This is as certain as that English is English. And you and I and every other intelligent man know that the Jewish nation has most carefully preserved the weekly reckoning from Sinai until now, and to-day is actually keeping the Sinaitic seventh day. There has been no loss in the count.
“And let me call your attention to another fact which cannot be gainsaid. It is this: Jesus Christ kept the seventh day of the week, just as the Jews did, all His earthly life. Read Luke 4:16 and other Scriptures. Therefore, if you are going to have any Sabbath at all, you must, as a Christian, do as He did.”
“You are hitting pretty hard, my brother,” said Mr. Gregory, with some show of warmth, “and I am not sure that you are not doing me a bit of injustice. You forget, I think, that more than once the calendar has been changed, and that days have been added or dropped in order to make proper adjustments.”
“Very true, good friend; but you are surely not so ignorant (pardon my plainness) as to suppose that changes of calendar affected the order of the days of the week. The weekly cycle has never been altered. The Gregorian calendar of A. D. 1582 dropped out ten days; and Thursday, October 4, was followed by Friday, October 15. Russia still followed the old style of reckoning until a few years ago; but her days of the week were the same as ours. Without doubt, our week, with its seventh day, has come to us without change from time immemorial. I was reading only yesterday that of one hundred sixty ancient and modern languages and dialects, one hundred eight actually know the seventh day by the name ‘Sabbath’ or its equivalent; and the writer stated that all of them ‘bear testimony to the identity and order of the days of the ancient and modern week.’ He also added that the testimony adduced ‘is equally positive that the order of the days of the week is the same now as from the beginning of nations.’ To my mind, this is incontrovertible evidence. A Sunday Sabbath is impossible.”
“Brethren,” interrupted Mr. Mitchell, “you will surely agree with me now that my suggestion made at the beginning of our interview has in it at least a measure of good judgment. I repeat that the situation is one which is embarrassing; and I advice that Brother Spaulding make an effort to sidetrack the main question, and introduce some minor feature tomorrow. To carry these controverted points before any intelligent audience, and especially before one that has in it a man of the Rev. Anderson’s abilities, is but to invite a theological catastrophe.”
With this counsel adopted as a basis for the work of the next day, the good brethren separated.
There was no lack in interest or attendance when the hour appointed by Mr. Spaulding came.
It was generally understood that he would attack the Sabbath question “without gloves;” and naturally interest centered on Mr. Anderson, for it seemed inconceivable that he would allow Mr. Spaulding’s statement’s to go unchallenged.
Mr. Anderson, however, sat in a somewhat secluded position, evidently having no purpose to enter into controversy. To him, debate was painful, and he avoided it always if possible.
“My Christian friends,” — thus began Mr. Spaulding, — “I am profoundly convinced that many questions relative to our various beliefs can never be fully and satisfactorily settled. In fact, I believe it is not the plan of God that they should be. No one can know absolutely that he is right. All doctrines are relative. Truth to-day may be error to-morrow.
“The question of the Sabbath is one of the unsettled points of faith. One denomination holds one position, another holds another. The Mohammedan observes Friday; the Jew and the Adventist, Saturday; the Christian world as a whole, Sunday.
“Of course, we are all aware that the question of which day a person keeps is not one of primary importance, but rather the spirit with which he keeps it. Let me remark, therefore —”
Inconsistency of a Sunday Proponent
“Pardon me, Dr. Spaulding” (the speaker was a plain but scholarly looking man of nearly seventy winters, who sat directly in front of the minister), “but do you really mean to have us believe that you think it matters not whether we keep Friday or Sunday, provided we have the right spirit? Did I not hear you say yesterday that if anyone should keep the seventh day he would become ‘almost a Christ killer?’ You certainly led us to the conclusion that a great deal of importance attached to the matter of which day we keep, and that to-day you would show that the ‘seventh-day business,’ as you termed it, ‘is a pretty small affair.’
“Now, as a matter of absolute fairness to all concerned, will you kindly answer this question: If the particular day is not really important, then shouldn’t we consider Saturday as good as Sunday for our rest day? I am not a Sabbatarian, but I do love the idea of fair play.”
Mr. Spaulding hesitated, and was evidently confused. His well planned diversion was failing. With difficulty, however, he attempted to proceed.
“Before the interruption, I was about to say that —”
“But, doctor, I insist on an answer. I have good reason for so doing, as you ought to know. You surely cannot have forgotten that in Arkansas, a few years ago, you appeared in my court to make complaint against a Sabbatarian for having done ordinary work on Sunday. You pressed the case by every means at your command, and by mere technicalities, succeeded in securing a conviction. You will recall that the poor fellow whom you prosecuted was obliged to lie in prison for many months, and all because you and your fellow clergymen tenaciously insisted upon the sacredness of your particular rest day. Do you now repudiate the doctrine which you at that time indorsed?”
All present now realized the hopelessness of Mr. Spaulding’s position; and while they shared in the judge’s desire for fair play, they inwardly longed for something to happen that would relieve the good brother of his embarrassment. Providentially something did “happen.”
“Dr. Spaulding, allowing the judge’s question to be answered a little later, may I interrupt you to ask if you can give us a little light on the subject of the day line? Captain Mann informs me that we are nearing the day line, and that to-night we must drop a day from our reckoning. To-morrow, therefore, instead of having a Tuesday, we shall have a Wednesday. What effect, as you understand it, does this change have upon the matter of a definite day of the week as Sabbath?”
The questioner was a San Francisco merchant, a man who had often made the transpacific trip, and who therefore was fully informed regarding the problem of the day line.
Mr. Spaulding quickly brightened at the mention of the day line, and smilingly consented to give his opinion. In fact, he was making an effort to reach this particular point when interrogated by the judge.
“I am glad, sir, to have you introduce this question; and with the judge’s permission to pass his question for the present, I will venture a brief statement.
“I suppose all or nearly all are aware that in crossing the Pacific
Ocean east or west, a day must be added or dropped.
Going west, we are obliged to skip a day; and going east, to repeat a
day. For instance, to-night we
shall retire during the hours of Monday, and tomorrow morning we shall wake up
to find that we are passing through the hours of Wednesday.
We shall have no Tuesday at all.
“Now, suppose I am a Sabbatarian, and ardently believe in the absolute sacredness of Saturday. I an going to China. I reach the day line Friday evening, and begin to keep my Sabbath. Then I retire with a worshipful spirit, anticipating the joys of the holy time for the morrow. I sleep. I wake. It is morning. But, lo, instead of its being Saturday, my good captain tells me it is Sunday!
“Then I become excited and confused. The thing bewilders me. I thought my theory correct, but find it incorrect. The fourth commandment, I discover, doesn’t fit a big, round world. My Sabbath slipped away from me without even so much as a farewell. If I have to keep any day at all, I have to keep Sunday.” (How often do hard facts, disprove senseless theories!)
“I think you will all agree with me that, if I am ordinarily intelligent, I will come to the conclusion that God never meant that seventh day for me, at least while crossing the Pacific; for when I tried to keep it, I couldn’t. But if I cannot keep it while journeying, I ought not to try to keep it at any time. And so, as a sensible man, I will say to myself: ‘Spaulding, don’t be foolish. Don’t burden yourself down with impossible dogmas. Be free. Keep away from Jewish ceremonies.’
“I need say no more. The point is self evident. The day line forbids the keeping of definite days.”
“May I ask a question?” said Mr. Severance, the merchant.
“Certainly, if it is pertinent, and I doubt not it will be,” replied the minister.
“I observe Sunday and live in San Francisco. Do you believe I really can keep Sunday in that city?”
“Yes; because in San Francisco, the days come to you regularly, and you are without question.”
“Would it be possible for me to have my Sunday in Peking?”
“Certainly,” was Mr. Spaulding’s answer, “and for the same reason.”
“Another question: Is Sunday at Peking the same day that is known in San Francisco?”
“Without doubt, for the day travels around the earth.”
“Now, Brother Spaulding, you have said just what I wanted. You say the day travels. It must, then, have some place at which it ends its journey. What place is that? To be sure, you must say, The day line. And all days begin and end at the same place, one day following another in exact order. In that case, can there be any valid reason for actual confusion, or for supposing that we cannot keep the count of the days? If you are willing to yield the floor for a time, I should like to call for a few words from our captain.”
“Captain Mann! Captain Mann!” came the call from all directions. All eyes were turned to him. Would he agree with Mr. Spaulding?
SHIP CAPTAIN ON THE DAY LINE
THIS is Dr. Spaulding’s hour,” the captain began, “and with his permission, I will consent to make a few observations regarding the day line.”
Mr. Spaulding smiled rather faintly, and in somewhat hesitating manner seemed to give consent. The entire situation had proved a great disappointment to him; and now he was really obliged to give place, without having made any substantial gain.
As Captain Mann arose, a happy thought seemed to strike him, and he smilingly suggested a round table, or question box, that thus all might have opportunity to bring out any phase of the question not cleat to them. The question box idea prevailed.
“Before the questions are proposed,” said the captain, “allow me
this brief word: The day line is
one of the very simple problems of life, so simple, in fact, that I have often
explained it without difficulty to children.
Instead of its being a matter for confusing minds and causing a loss in
the count of the days of the week, it is the one thing that prevents any and
all disturbances in our reckoning. It
is a great, wonderful world regulator, preserving to all nations of the earth
the identity of our days.”
Traveling in Opposite Directions
“Do you mean to say, captain, that the fact that the world is a globe makes no difference?” asked a lady missionary from Ohio.
“That is the thought, madam. It matters not whether one is at the poles or at the equator, whether traveling by sea or by land, whether going east or west, the day is an absolutely known at any place on the earth’s surface.”
“Well, I have heard it said, over and over again,” stated a simple but well meaning man seated near the captain, “that time is really lost or gained — that going in one direction, you lose; while in the other, you gain. How could preachers say that if it isn’t so?”
“I am sure I cannot answer your query as to why preachers have taught you what you say they have taught regarding the day line. But let me say to you one and all, that there is no such thing as gaining or losing time. The expression is unscientific, and indicates something that is only apparent, not real.
“Let me illustrate: Two men — twins — start from New York to make the journey around the world. One goes eastward, the other westward. They finally come together again in New York, after a lapse of several months; but he who went eastward finds himself exactly the same age as his brother who traveled the opposite direction. They compare figures, and find that it took each of them the same number of days, hours, and minutes to make the trip, though one added a day and the other dropped a day.
“Now, if it is actually true that one gained and the other lost a day, there must have been two days’ difference in their ages at the journey’s end. [Laughter]. And if they had repeated the process a sufficient number of times, there would have come a time when one would be old enough to be the other’s father. [Prolonged laughter].
“You all see how ludicrous the matter appears when analyzed but a
little. The truth is, the whole
question is one not of gaining or losing time, but of computation.
a Numerical Change
“I carry with me,” said the captain, “an extract from an article on the day line which I read many years ago, and which, with your permission, I will read. It states the whole proposition more clearly than any word of mine could possibly do. Here it is:
“ ‘The revolutions of the earth itself, as measured at fixed localities, are what measure and number the days, not the revolutions that may be indicated in the diary of a traveler. A person traveling east or west around the world puts himself at variance with the numerical order of its revolutions as computed at any fixed point; and that variance must be corrected, and that is all the question there is involved in keeping a definite and identical day on a round earth. Attending to this one point, a person need never lose the definite day.
“ ‘To illustrate: Let us suppose a man to start from some point which we call A, and travel eastward. Suppose he is able to make the circuit of the earth, and come back to his starting point, in just ten days. Every day, of course, he is carried around by the revolution of the earth. But traveling, as he is, with the earth, from west to east, he each day gains upon it one tenth of its circumference; and in ten days, he would gain ten tenths, or a whole circumference. Thus when he arrives at A, he finds that those who have remained there have marked ten revolutions of the earth, and have had ten days of time. But the earth has taken him around as many times as it has them; and in addition to that, he has passed around once himself, which is the same as another revolution for him, making eleven, and giving him, according to his calendar, as he has kept it from day to day, eleven days instead of ten. What shall he do with that extra day? — Drop it out of the count. Why? — Because he knows that the earth itself has made but ten revolutions, as marked at A; and the revolutions of the earth abstractly considered, not the times he may go around it, mark the days, and he must make his count correspond to that of the earth wherever he is.
“ ‘If the person goes around the earth westward, this process is simply reversed. If he travels at the same rate, his journey each day cancels, or causes him to lose, so far as his count is concerned, one tenth of a revolution of the earth. In ten days, he would lose a whole revolution, and would find, when he came around to his starting point at A, that his calendar showed but nine days instead of ten. What should he do? — Add into his account that lost day. Why? — Because he knows that the earth has made ten revolutions. Although he has himself, like the other man, been around the earth once, it has been in such a direction as apparently to cancel one of its revolutions, and take it out of the count, instead of adding one, as in the other case; and now he must add it in, to be in harmony with the real condition of things.
“ ‘A common illustration, which may be observed almost any day, may
serve to make it a little clearer to the minds of some.
Suppose a freight train a quarter of a mile in length.
It starts, and moves along slowly the distance of its own length, or a
quater of a mile, bringing the rear of the train, when it stops, to the same
place where the head of the train stood when it started.
Suppose now that a brakeman started from the rear of the train, when
the train started, and walked along on the cars toward the front, his rate of
motion being the same as the train itself.
When the train stops, he has reached the head of the train, so that
although the rain has carried him but a quarter of a mile, he has walked
another quarter, and so is, in space, half a mile from where he started.
But suppose another brakeman, when the train begins to move, starts
from the head of the train, and walks toward the rear at the same rate of
motion. When the train stops, he
has reached the rear. But his
motion, being opposite to that of the train, has just balanced, or canceled,
for him, the motion of the train; so he finds himself, in space, or compared
with surrounding objects, just where he was when the train started.
Thus brakeman number 1 walks a quarter of a mile, doubles the movement of the train, and finds himself at
last half a mile from the place he started; and brakeman number 2 also walks a
quarter of a mile, but his motion cancels the movement of the train, and he
finds himself at last just where he was in the beginning.
On the same principle it is that one going around the earth eastward
adds a day to his reckoning, while one going around westward loses a day out
the Day Line Is Where It Is
Mr. Severance, the merchant, now asked the privilege of supplementing Captain Mann’s extract by one which he had preserved. He read as follows:
“ ‘The reason for this [the adding or dropping of a day at the day line] will be apparent upon a little careful thought; for it is always sunset at some point on the earth, and always sunrise, and noon, and midnight, at other points at the same time. Let us imagine that we could travel around the earth as rapidly as the earth revolves upon its axis, and we start out from London, or from any other place, at sunrise on Tuesday morning, and travel west. It would remain sunrise of the same day with us all the time. Yet when we came to the starting place, we should have to call it the next day; for those who remained there would have had noon, sunset, midnight, and now would have their second morning, which would be Wednesday. Therefore we must change our reckoning, so that at that instant, in any place east of London, we would call it Tuesday morning; but at any point west of that line, it would be Wednesday. That would be the place where the day would change. But for convenience, men have chosen a line that passes through no habitable country, and have fixed that point as a place where the day would change. We may believe, too, that this is the line on which the Maker designed that the new day should begin. Now it makes no difference at what time we cross that line either way; we must recognize that there is one day on one side of it, and another day on the other side. The line chosen is the 180th meridian of longitude from Greenwich.
“ ‘By this arrangement, each day is measured off by one revolution of the earth; and when it is finished, it is discharged from the calendar, and a new one takes its place at this point. Hence, wherever we may be on the face of the earth, the day comes to us with its full measure of twenty-four hours, and then is succeeded by another of exactly equal length. It is true that by our traveling east or west, the length of the day may be to us varied; but at the day line, these variations are all rectified, and in circumnavigating the globe, we find that we have done so without disarranging our calendar.’ “
“Say, captain, who fixed up this day line scheme? And, say, was it agreed to peacefully?” The speaker was a rough-and-ready man from the Western plains, as jovial as he was rough.
“Our friend has suggested a good thought, Captain Mann; so please
tell us something of the day line history,” said Mr. Severance.
History of the Day Line
“The day line is a natural result of the order of the peopling of the earth. Taking my Bible, I find that the cradle of the human family, after the Deluge, was in the valley of the Euphrates, in the Eastern Hemisphere. From that point, they went eastward and westward to the farthest parts of Europe and Africa, and centuries later, still farther west, across the Western Hemisphere. The day originally known in the Euphrates Valley was carried unchanged both east and west, the only difference being that as they went east, they began it earlier, while as they went west, they began it later.
“That this is true is easily seen from the fact that a man may begin a journey at Peking, in China, and travel westward to San Francisco, and all the way around will find his computation in perfect agreement with the time of the places through which he passes. In other words, he is following the natural route of the day, and thus need make no change. If, however, he goes east from Peking to San Francisco, he passes the natural starting point, and likewise the finishing point, of the day, and must adjust himself to what he finds.
“To my mind, as was just read in your hearing, the Most High, who controlled the peopling of the earth, Himself providentially arranged that the beginning and end of days, the particular point at which men would mark and number the earth’s revolutions, should be in the Pacific.”
“Doesn’t it bother you at all about keeping Sunday, captain?” asked the friend who sat near him.
“Not in the least sir,” was the reply.
“It aids me in my keeping of Sunday, just as it aids every one who is
conscientiously seeking to obey God’s commandments.”
Anderson Invited to Speak.
“Say, captain, I’m not a Christian, and don’t keep any day, you see; but ever since I was a boy, I have wondered about this Sabbath matter, which the preachers were arguing about yesterday. I can understand about the day line now, but I want to know if you honestly think people keep God’s commandment when they keep Sunday. Is Sunday the seventh day of the week? I could almost believe it is, if you would tell me so. What do you say, captain?”
The simplicity and sincerity of the questioner awakened in the captain a tremendous desire to confess what he was rapidly coming to see; namely, that the fourth commandment was not fulfilled in the observance of Sunday. But just as the truth was about to escape his lips, he checked himself. Perhaps the time was not opportune, he thought. With a gracious smile, he therefore said: “Let us refer the theological questions, my dear sir, to the clergy. They will gladly help in such matters.”
Harold Wilson, who was standing near Mr. Severance, whispered a word in that gentleman’s ear.
Mr. Severance was a large-hearted, liberal-minded man of affairs; and acting upon Harold’s suggestion, he arose and said:
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have with us on our vessel a Christian gentleman, a man of the cloth, one of deep learning and piety, and to my mind, an authority on this question of the Sabbath. I have heard him preach, and therefore feel competent to judge of his ability. I believe we could do no better than to invite the Rev. Mr. Anderson to give us the privilege of hearing from him in reply to the question we have just heard. All in favor, please raise the hand.”
There was an almost unanimous response, though it was noticed that Mr. Spaulding did not vote.
It was arranged that Mr. Anderson should meet his fellow passengers the next day at the same hour.
Mr. Severance created much interest in the meeting of the next day by suggesting that the other clergymen aboard the vessel be present at the service and interrogate the speaker, and thus bring out all phases of the subject.