“A Groundless Apprehension” American Sentinel 13, 16, pp. 241, 242.

A NEW ORLEANS paper makes note of an effort made during the Louisiana Constitutional Convention just closed, to eliminate from the Constitution the recognition of Sunday as a sacred day, and calls it “an outrageous proposition.” It would be a terrible thing, in its view, if the restraints of the Sunday laws were removed, and people permitted to engage in worldly occupations on that day as on any other.

It is quite natural for religious people in states which have long maintained a Sunday law to hold this view, even though, as in New Orleans, the law has long been practically a dead letter. It seems to them that the removal of such a law would be the opening of the flood-gates of secularism, which would result in sweeping away the Sabbath altogether. But really, there is no foundation at all for this apprehension.

It may be that the removal of Sunday laws would result in an increase of Sunday business and of Sunday amusements. Very well, we say; suppose that it does. If people want to be worldly on the Sabbath (which however is not Sunday), if that is their nature and desire, let them be so. Let the world conduct itself after the [242] manner of the world. How else could it be expected to act? It is only people who want to be worldly—people who could not keep the Sabbath anyway without a change of heart—who will not want to rest on the Sabbath.

All this will not affect the church: at least, there is no reason why it should. The church is in the world, surrounded by worldliness in every form; yet she is not to be of the world. The world is the proper place for the church, under the present constitution of things, just as the water is the proper place for a ship; but the world need not get into the church, any more than the water need get into a ship: indeed, the world can always be kept out of the church if the church so wills it. Sometimes water gets into a ship by unavoidable accident; but the church must first voluntarily open its doors to the world before the world can get into it.

Let the people of the world, then, go about their worldly pursuits on the Sabbath, as on any day, and let the church spend the day in rest and the worship of God. This very thing would do much to mark a distinction between the church and the world. The great trouble with the church to-day is that this distinction is not plainly marked. The friends of the world know it is not, and the enemies of religion know it is not; and this is why the church to day has so little influence over them. And the reason it is not plainly marked is that hardly any distinction exists. In endeavoring to conform the world to the church by non-scriptural methods, the church has become very largely conformed to the world. And a Sunday law is one method—and not by any means the least—by which this conformity has been accomplished.

A Sunday law tends always to conform the church to the world.

The government—the state—is of the world. And it must always be of the world, for it is that into which every worldly element enters. The government cannot rise to the level of Christianity; but the Christian church can descend to the level of the world (of course losing her Christianity in the process). And when the government enacts a Sunday law, and compels the world to conform to it, the only effect is to obliterate, in part at least, the distinction between the church and the world. But that distinction ought not to be obliterated; it ought to be much sharper than it is.

When the church joins with the government in this (as she has done in every case, being always the foremost advocate of such laws), she simply joins with the world, and trails the banner of godliness in the dust.

There is a class of people in the country who do not observe the popular rest day, but keep the seventh day instead; and of all classes of religious people, none are more marked as being separate and distinct from the world. And nothing more plainly marks them in this way than their observance of the seventh day as a day of rest and worship, while all the world around them is engaged in its accustomed secular pursuits.

No one tries to force the world into conformity with this people. No law exists or ever existed—of an earthly sort—to curtail worldly business or amusements in any degree upon their day of rest. Yet their Sabbath is not overwhelmed and lost by all this secularism. The flood is beneath it, and can no more overwhelm it than the flood of water could overwhelm the ark.

Let Sunday laws be removed from the statute books everywhere, and the result will be for the good of the church and of all men. Let the church address her petitions to God and not to the state, and the fading line of demarkation [sic.] between the church and the world will become much more clear and distinct.

FOR some reason this “Christian nation” shows no disposition to “turn the other cheek” to Spain; but is getting ready to do something quite different.

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