THE UPWARD WAY
ALMOST eight years,” thought Harold, “eight years, almost to a day, since I left here on the ‘Yokohama’ for Melbourne!” The “Tenyo Maru” had just slipped her cables, and was gliding out onto San Francisco Bay, on her long journey to Japan.
“How well I remember that May morning of eight years ago, when, a drunkard, a criminal, a hardened and unhappy wretch, I went to sea to escape justice, and to rid myself of mother’s pleadings!
“How well I remember the something that made me want to go back to home and mother, that something which I fought off until I cared for nothing but drink, profanity, and evil company!
“And how vividly I recall the day of the fire, when I found Captain Mann praying, asking God to deliver us from explosion and death!
“Yes, and I remember all too well that hateful minute when I threw my Bible overboard. O God, help me! Why did I do it? I wish I could forget it.
“Now I am starting on another trip, not because I wish, but because I must. I am compelled to leave America, to remain away until I have demonstrated that I am a man worth trusting. But I have no mother; and no friends, I guess.
“No friends? Yes, I have one — I have that Bible. It seems like mother to me. I just feel, somehow, that it is going to help me to be a better man.
“That old man at the pier was a good man. He seemed to understand me. When he prayed, something gripped my heart; and when he told me I could take the Bible with me, I made up my mind really to try to be decent. I really thought I could be.
“But he certainly did say some funny things. I never heard anything like them before. Yes, yes, I did. I remember that mother used to tell me that we ought to keep the Ten Commandments, all of them. And she said she didn’t understand why it was that Christian people kept Sunday when the commandments say we should observe the seventh day. But that old gentleman actually keeps the day mother thought people ought to keep.
“The queer thing about this whole business is the Bible he gave me. In the first place, it looks like the one I threw away; and besides, it is marked almost the same — the same texts, the same kind of ink, explanations in the margin, and a message written on the flyleaf. But — “What’s that!” He now spoke aloud.
From the thoughts of his important duties (he had been assigned a position on the main deck, forward), and from the reflections regarding his past life, he had suddenly been aroused by a voice, which seemed like a ghost of times long since gone.
He glanced back, but, seeing no one, concluded he must have been mistaken.
But again he heard it! And
this time, he looked toward the bridge. There
stood Captain Mann!
Mann Warns Harold
Yes, it was the same old captain, the hero of the “Yokohama,” and now in command of the great transpacific passenger liner.
Harold Wilson was almost overcome with emotion. His heart palpitated with joy. Deep in his heart there was something which seemed to tell him that during this journey across the sea, he was to learn the secret of a better life, and that the man of prayer on the bridge had been given to aid him.
It was several days before the opportunity came to the young man to meet and greet the man he had so much revered. But duty finally brought them into contact, and Harold fairly rushed to grasp the captain’s hand.
“Captain Mann! Thank God for the chance to sail with you again!”
The captain’s big, whole-hearted hand gladly grasped Harold’s reciprocating fully the spirit of good will evinced; but his face wore a puzzled look.
“My young man, why do you thank God? When I knew you, you had no regard for God.”
“Yes, captain; but I have fought long enough what I know is right. I want to find God, and know Him just as you did that day the fire broke out on the ‘Yokohama.’ I want to know and serve Him just as my mother did. Do you remember the talk you gave us about the Bible and its promises?”
“Yes, young man, I recall the whole experience. But I have no memory that you got any good from it.”
“That is true, captain; for that very day, I went and hatefully threw into the sea the Bible my dear mother gave me. And she had marked it for me, too. Do you know, she had marked in it that very verse that you said saved us from the fire!
“But, Captain Mann, I have another Bible, and one that is marked. That verse in the Psalms is marked, the Ten Commandments are marked, yes, and a great number of other texts!”
“Where did you find such a Bible, my boy?” the captain kindly inquired.
Then Harold told the sad story of his mother’s death, his abandonment to sin, his arrest, his sentence, and the discovery of the Bible, and the meeting of the old gentleman at the Oakland pier.
“Oh, yes,” said the captain, “I know of that gentleman. He belongs to a very peculiar people, who keep Saturday instead of Sunday; and he has placed in the reading room of this vessel a large number of papers and leaflets for the benefit of our passengers and crew.”
“Well, captain, he found me reading the Bible at the pier; and when he saw that I was longing for it, he let me bring it with me. I tell you, he was the best man I ever met. He understood me. And when I told him how far down I had gone, he had a little tear for me, and prayed that I might find deliverance from all my wrong habits, and have rest in Christ. What he said to me seemed to open up the whole plan of right living, and I made up my mind to try to be a better man. And I want you to help me, captain.”
“I certainly will do my best to aid you to become a Christian; but I fear I shall not be able to help you to believe as that old gentleman believes, for I think he is wrong about the keeping of Saturday. There are a number of his people aboard the vessel, though — missionaries to China; and they will help you. But look out, my boy, and don’t go wild.”
With these few words, the captain passed on, while the subject of this story continued his duties. But many queries began to arise in his mind.
“What did he mean by saying they are wrong?
How are they peculiar? And
how could I get ‘wild’ by meeting them and having them help me?
I don’t believe that old gentleman would ever make anybody wild.”
Thus Harold reasoned to himself.
THE “Tenyo Maru” had been plowing her way through the waters for quite a week, when one day a pleasant looking man came up to Harold, and without introduction, very kindly asked him if he was a Christian. This was the first time in all his life that such a question had been brought home to him. But though greatly astonished, Harold was pleased to be thus directly questioned.
“No, sir,” he replied, “I am not; but I am just now thinking I ought to be. And what is your name, sir?”
“My name is Anderson.”
“Are you one of the missionaries going to China, sir?”
“Yes; and why do you ask?”
“Well, Captain Mann has told me that there were missionaries aboard, and I have been wanting to see one of them and ask some questions. You see, I have with me a Bible given me by an old gentleman at Oakland pier. This Bible is marked. It is marked almost the same as one my Christian mother gave me, but which I threw into the sea because I hated Christianity. The marking therefore takes me back to my old home, to things my mother said, and I want some one to help me know how to begin a true Christian life.”
“Is your name Wilson, my young friend,” the gentleman inquired, “Harold Wilson?”
“Yes, sir; but how did you learn my name?”
“It is a rather strange story, but I will tell you. A few days before I left Oakland, I saw in a San Francisco paper the report of a certain trial, that of a young man by the name of Wilson, who had been sentenced, because of some wrongdoing, to a five-year absence from the country. The reporter made a note of various extenuating circumstances, of a good mother’s dying prayer, and of the hope of strong, good friends, that the young man would turn and become an honor to his parents, both of whom had devotedly given him to God. It was stated that the young man would have a position aboard the ‘Tenyo Maru,’ the vessel on which I was to make my trip to the Orient; and I determined to try meet him and help him if I could.”
Harold carefully eyed this new friend; for had not Captain Mann cautioned him against being led off into wild notions? Yet, Mr. Anderson had a good face, a sincere expression, and apparently unselfish interest. And, really, it seemed to Harold that it was more than a mere happening that he had been led to meet him.
“You did not know my mother, did you? She was a great believer in doing just what the Bible says, and was always urging me to follow it. She lived in San Francisco.”
“Was her first name Helen?” Mr. Anderson inquired.
“Yes, yes! Did you know her?”
“My boy, your mother was a member of my church. As her pastor, I have more than once heard her tell of her wandering child, and of her constant prayer that he would one day become acquainted with the Lord Jesus. She told of the Bible she had purchased, of the message she had written, of the texts she had marked, of the explanation she had placed in the margins. She believed it would on day touch his heart. But for long years, she heard nothing from him, and finally she gave him up as lost at sea. When stricken down with illness, and on her deathbed, she called the old brother whom you met at the Oakland pier, and asked him to place in the distributor another Bible, marked as she had marked that one years before. And are you her son, Harold?”
“Indeed I am, sir; and now I believe you have been sent to show me the way to Christ. Oh, Mr. Anderson, if there is a remedy for my follies, I want it, and I want it now! I’m a thief, a drunkard, a gambler, a wretch without a country, a sinner without a God. Can you help me?”
The finding of Harold Wilson seemed so wonderfully beautiful to Mr. Anderson, so providential, so timely, that his faith laid hold upon the promise of God; and in a wise, tactful, soul-winning way, he led him to the Master’s feet. The surrender was complete, founded on an intelligent grasp of revealed truth; and the young man was happy in God.
When the story of Harold’s life and conversion came to be known, he was pointed out by both passengers and crew as “the man with the marked Bible.”
Captain Mann, while a devoted Christian, was nevertheless quite limited in his knowledge of the Word, and therefore a bit narrow. Thus it was that he now became much concerned lest Harold should be deluded by the “false teachings” of Mr. Anderson, and especially when he learned of the frequent appointments Harold was making with him; and he sought to counteract the pastor’s influence.
“What does this mean?” thought Harold to himself, as he meditated upon Captain Mann’s opposition. “Here are too good men, both of whom seem honest, yet each one is certain that the other is wrong. I am sure Captain Mann had his prayers answered and saved my life, and I am sure Mr. Anderson has had his prayers answered in leading me to be a Christian. What shall I do? I certainly cannot follow both, for they seem to be going in opposite directions.
“But after all, I’ll do what my mother used to urge me to do. I’ll just have to take the Bible for myself.”
Good sense! Few surely will miss the way of life who elect to follow the Word itself, rather than men.
Another thing Harold had to settle was the comparative value of sincerity with knowledge of the Scriptures. Mr. Anderson and Captain Mann were undoubtedly equally sincere; but in acquaintance with the Word, they were as giant and pygmy, and this Harold soon recognized. He therefore could not do other than take the counsel of him who was “mighty in the Scriptures,” for his counsel was drawn from the right source.
But if the captain lacked in knowledge, he did not lack in an enthusiastic interest to see that Harold did not become “entangled with false ideas about the Sabbath.” It came to pass, however, that his very earnest efforts to save the young man from delusion, only hastened forward the work of truth which God desired to have wrought.
“Young man” (this was the captain’s favorite form of address), “let me counsel you again to be careful about this matter of the day you keep.”
“But, Captain Mann, why do you speak this way? No one has said anything to me about keeping Saturday.”
“Well, you will find that Mr. Anderson will soon be telling you that if you are to live a Christian life, you must keep the day that his church keeps. He will tell you that Sunday isn’t mentioned in the Bible, and — “
This was the first time Harold had ever heard this about Sunday; and of course, he was at once interested. He therefore interrupted with the question:
“Really, captain, is Sunday not spoken of in the Bible? I shall be glad to have you show me the matter as it is before Mr. Anderson gets to it, if you think best.”
“All right; come in this evening, and I will show you that Mr. Anderson’s church is wrong.”
“That makes me think,” said Harold as the captain passed on. “I remember that he told me they had put aboard a supply of reading matter. I wonder if there is anything about Sunday. I will ask Mr. Anderson about it.” He found him aft.
“Mr. Anderson, do you suppose your people have placed aboard this vessel, with other literature, anything about Sunday?”
“Why, yes, Harold, I presume they have. But what causes you to be interested about Sunday? You keep Sunday, do you not?”
“Oh yes; but you see, Captain Mann is afraid that I will not keep on in that way, and to-night he is going to show me that the Bible says Sunday is the right day. He said you would soon be telling me that Sunday is not mentioned in the Bible, and he wants to prove that it is. Of course, I think I should find out all I can for myself before I meet him this evening. What should I look for?”
“Well, there are several little leaflets you may well read, such as ‘Which Day Do You Keep, and Why?’ and “Sunday in the New Testament.’ I think you will find them in that supply. However, if you do not, come to me, and I will try to assist you.”
Cruden Did Not List Them
While Harold was searching for these leaflets, Captain Mann had found a bit of leisure time for putting into shape the thoughts he would present to Harold. He thought he knew in general what would aid the young man, so he set about to find the specific texts he would use.
It had been several years since the question of the Sabbath had agitated him; and never, in fact, had he attempted to locate the passages in which the word “Sunday” occurred. He felt quite certain, though, that they were in the Gospels, and in the story of the resurrection. But after much careful searching, he did not find what he was after.
“I have probably forgotten the connections,” he said to himself, as he turned to his concordance.
But even Cruden, for some reason, had overlooked the Sunday passages. To be sure, Cruden did not profess to give every word in the Bible.
“Sunday, S-u-n-d-a-y — where did I see it?” he said. “The young man will think it very strange in me to call him in here to do something I cannot do.”
Then a happy thought occurred to him. “There is Mr. Mitchell, an old orthodox minister. I will ask him, and also get other helpful information.”
The good Mr. Mitchell welcomed the captain to his stateroom, pleased to be honored by a call from the now famous captain.
“Pardon me, Mr. Mitchell,” the captain said, “but I am here to ask a personal favor. As you know, we have on board, as a member of my crew, a young man who has just experienced a very remarkable conversion. You may have heard him mentioned as ‘the man with the marked Bible.’ He has an interesting history. We also have aboard, as a passenger, a certain Rev. Mr. Anderson, of the seventh-day people, who seems to have this young man under his influence, and who, I am sure, will sooner or later seek to trouble him over the Sabbath matter. So I am taking an interest in the case. I have asked the young man to call on me this evening, and I have promised to show him that Sunday is the true day of worship. Now what I wish you to do is put me in touch with all the texts in which Sunday is mentioned.”
Had the Captain Been Deceived?
Was it a smile, a frown, or a look of disappointment and chagrin that stole over Mr. Mitchell’s face as he heard the captain’s request? Whatever it was, it did not express pleasure.
“Captain,” said he, “there are no such texts. You will have to acknowledge that the word ‘Sunday’ is not between the two lids of the Book of God.”
“But, Mr. Mitchell, I could almost take an oath that I have seen it and read it.”
“Not in the Bible, captain. You will find mention, a few times, of the first day of the week, but not of Sunday; and even the first day of the week is not spoken of as being sacred. You have undertaken a difficult task in attempting to show reasons for Sunday keeping from the Scriptures.”
Though he had lived sixty years, Captain Mann had never heard even a hint of this which Mr. Mitchell had now so boldly asserted. He was shocked, if not almost stunned. It could not be true, he reasoned. Was he himself the deluded one? He hesitated.
Mr. Mitchell was a man of brilliant intellect. For more than thirty years, he had stood before the public, and he was known in both Occident and Orient as a fearless defender of the church and its work. With infidel, with atheist, with foe within and without the church, he had never feared to battle, and he had not failed to win laurels. However, he had always and consistently refused to enter into argument with the Sabbatarians, for he knew the impossibility of making good his case. It was only logical, therefore, that he addressed the captain as he did, and bluntly stated the truth he knew.
Seeing that the captain had been greatly perturbed by his plain, matter-of-fact statement, he proceeded to explain why, without a “Thus saith the Lord,” he still observed the first day of the week.
the Only Basis
“Captain,” he continued, “any reliable student of church history will tell you that there is only one foundation for our practice of Sunday worship, and that is the custom of the early church. Both Christ and His apostles, and those immediately associated with them, believed in and practiced the observance of the seventh day of the week, the Sabbath of the fourth commandment; and not for several hundred years after Christ, was there any such thing known as a sacred regard for Sunday as we know it to-day. The change was brought about gradually, through the influence of churchmen; but we must not suppose that they had divine sanction for it. It was simply the outgrowth of a change in the spirit of the times.
“Over and over again I have had to tell my friends in private what I have said to you. And I have said to them what I must now say to you also, — that though the change came about in a way with which we might not really agree, yet it came, and the only reasonable course for us to take is to indorse it as go ahead with God’s great church to evangelize the world. It is too late now to attempt a reformation.
“And now a bit of advice: Give the matter a wide berth. The agitation of the question only creates many embarrassing situations, and gives the few who still believe in the absolute requirements of the moral law an opportunity to advance their arguments, which are practically unanswerable. I think you will readily see my point. Deftly turn the young man aside with the thought that God is love, that He has led His church throughout the ages, and still leads it, and that while we may not be able to explain all, we may safely go ahead with the great work of preaching Christ, and wait another time to have some of our queries removed. This usually satisfies, and undoubtedly will in this case.”
“Thank you, doctor,” was the captain’s response as he politely withdrew and returned to his stateroom.
Captain Acknowledges His Error
Meanwhile Harold Wilson had been finding some very interesting material regarding the origin of Sunday observance, though it did not mean as much to him at that time as it did later. His spiritual eyes were just beginning to find an opening, and he saw but little. However, he was blessed by what he did see, and had become anxious to meet the captain and hear what he would say.
Mr. Anderson smiled, yet seriously, at what the captain had thought to do. Thousands of equally honest and devoted men had attempted the same thing before, but only to find and obey the truth, or else plunge deeply into willing ignorance and dishonest opposition. He was much interested to hear what Captain Mann would say.
Ill at ease, indeed, was the captain; for not only had he been rudely awakened to the fact that he had long believed what was not true, but he had also been counseled by an ambassador of Christ to practice what seemed to him a kind of dishonesty. He had always prized his own sincerity, and he would continue to do so. This was his decision: He would meet Harold Wilson, and acknowledge that there was no mention of Sunday in the Bible. Further than this he could not see; for he still believed, notwithstanding the minister, that Sunday was sacred.
Harold came, with his Bible in his hand, with leaflets in his pockets, with the beginnings of truth in his soul. He seated himself with an air of expectancy.
“Young man,” — the captain came at once to the point, — “I want to tell you, right at the first, that I have been mistaken in regard to Sunday’s being mentioned in the Bible. It isn’t there. The first day of the week is spoken of a great many times, and it was this I had in mind. So I acknowledge my error. But my mistake does not alter the fact that the Lord Jesus changed the day, and that His apostles afterwards looked upon the first day of the week, the day of the resurrection, as the Lord’s day, and held their meetings on that day.”
“How many times, captain, do you think the first day is mentioned?”
“Oh, a great many times, I should naturally suppose! Of course, I cannot give the exact number.”
Harold pulled from his pocket a small leaflet, and proceeded to read from it.
“This shows that it is mentioned only eight times, and that in not
one case is it spoken of as sacred. Maybe
this isn’t true; but it gives the references, and asks us to look them up. Here they are: Matthew
28:1; Mark 16:2, 9;
Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19;
Acts 20:7; and 1 Corinthians 16:2.
Suppose we read them, captain.”
Eight Texts Examined
One by one the eight passages were found and read.
“Now, captain, you are acquainted with the Bible, and I am not. You must therefore let me ask a few questions, in order that I may find out what I want to know. So will you please tell me which of these references show that the first day of the week took the place of the seventh as the Sabbath day?”
Captain Mann pointed to the meeting of the apostles on the resurrection day, and said: “It seems clear that they were holding some kind of service in honor of His resurrection; for it says (Luke 24:36) that Jesus stood in the midst of them, and said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ At this time, He breathed upon them the Holy Ghost, and sent them forth to preach that He was risen. Do you not think this a reasonable explanation?”
“That sounds all right, captain; but here is something you
overlooked.” Again Harold
referred to the leaflet. “I see
here that when the disciples met that night, they were having their supper
(Mark 16:14); and when Jesus came, they gave Him some broiled fish and some
honeycomb (Luke 24:42). They had
the doors barred for fear of the Jews. (John 20:19.
They did not believe He was risen; for when He appeared to them, they
were terrified, thinking they saw a spirit. (Luke 24:37).
And then Christ reproved them because they believed not (Mark 16:14,
and only said, ‘Peace be unto you,’ to calm their fears.
Besides all this, Thomas didn’t believe in the resurrection for a
number of days later. John
to Go to the Bottom
“Really, captain, they couldn’t have been celebrating the resurrection when they didn’t believe in it, could they?”
“Young man, where did you get all this? I never heard these things before. But I must say you seem to be right. I have to be honest.
“There is another text, though, one that we read, which clearly teaches that the believers in the apostles’ time observed the first day of the week. Look at Acts 20 again. Here it plainly states that they met on the first day of the week to break bread.”
Again the young convert turned to the leaflet in his hand, and then said: “Captain, that meeting must have been on Saturday night, for it was on the dark part of the first day of the week, and the dark part of the day comes first. Genesis 1:5, 8, etc. Paul preached until midnight because he was going to Assos the next morning. Acts 20:7. Then he ate his supper (verse 11), talked on till daylight, and then, during the light part of Sunday, walked nineteen miles across the isthmus to Assos. He surely didn’t keep the day as a sacred day. It rather looks as though it was a special meeting, called at an irregular time in order to accommodate Paul, and the breaking of bread was to satisfy hunger rather than to commemorate the Lord’s death.”
At this point, the gong sounded for change of watch, and Harold hastened away to duty.
Captain Mann seemed almost dazed. The thought of having been wrong in his ideas for so many years, and that a minister of the gospel had advised him to close his eyes to admitted errors, was almost too much for him.
“Can it be,” he said aloud to himself, “that I am wrong also in other things? If I could be so entirely out of line concerning those simple texts regarding the resurrection, then it may be that in other matters not so simple I may be still farther away from the right.
“Very shortly, if God permits it, I shall have another interview with Mr. Mitchell. I intend to get at the bottom of this thing.”