JULY 9, Mr. Weadock (Dem., Mich.) introduced in the House a bill amending the statutes relative to second-class mail matter so as to read as follows:—
Mailable matter of the second class shall embrace all matter exclusively in print and regularly issued at stated periods from a known office of publication without addition by writing, mark, or sign. Any newspaper of the second class which advises, abets, or suggests the commission of any offense against any law of the United States, or any State, or Territory, or any country with which the United States are at peace, shall be excluded from the mails.
This is a very far-reaching provision. There are times when disobedience to law becomes a sacred duty. Who now believes that the infamous Fugitive Slave Law ever ought to have been obeyed? Many people disobeyed it as a matter of conscience, and many papers counselled [sic.] disobedience. Similar cases may arise in the future.
Notwithstanding the ordinance of civil government, God is still the great moral Governor; to him every soul is responsible; to him every free moral agent must give account. There never can be any conflict between a legitimate exercise of civil authority and the claims of the divine law. And yet the fact remains that there have been many and serious conflicts. Civil governments have frequently required of their subjects that which the divine law forbids, and have forbidden that which the divine law requires. What then shall the Christian citizen do in case the civil law requires that which the law of God forbids? His invariable answer to all such demands must be, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”
Nor is this the expression of religious fanaticism. The principle thus stated is known and recognized by the best and most enlightened thinkers everywhere. In his work on moral philosophy, President Fairchild says:—
It is too obvious to need discussion, that the law of God, the great principle of benevolence, is supreme, and that, “we ought to obey God rather than men,” in any case of conflict between human law and the divine. There are cases so clear that no one can question the duty to refuse obedience. In all times and in all lands such cases have arise. In a case of this kind, either of two courses is possible; to disobey the law, and resist the government in its attempt to execute it, or to disobey and quietly suffer the penalty. The first is revolutionary, and can be justified only when the case is flagrant and affects such numbers that a revolutionary movement will be sustained…. The second course will, in general, commend itself to considerate and conscientious men. It is a testimony against the law as unrighteous, and, at the same time, a recognition of government as a grave interest.
Apply this principle to the Sunday laws of several of the States. These laws require all to observe Sunday. With some to do this is as veritably to render an act of homage to a heathen deity as it would have been for the three Hebrew worthies to have fallen down before the great image set up in Babylon. To obey is to sacrifice conscience. Suppose that some paper in such a case published this extract from President Fairchild’s amendment to the postal laws such a paper could be excluded from the mails, and even the book itself could be regarded only as incendiary matter, dangerous to the welfare of the State. Is not the amendment too sweeping in its terms? The times are evil, but they demand no such drastic and dangerous measure.
THE Christian Advocate of this city says of the second coming of Christ:—
There is not a vestige of evidence that goes to show that He will appear in a thousand years from now. Not even the angels in heaven know when He will come.
But these words are themselves an evidence that the event is near. Says the scripture: “There shall come in the last days scoffers, … saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:3, 4.
The Advocate confesses total ignorance of the coming of that day, but the Word of God says that sudden destruction shall come upon those who say, “Peace and safety,” and adds, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 4. Those who know nothing about it will be destroyed because they don’t want to know and willfully turn away from the truth. The Lord says of the signs of the second coming of Christ: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh. So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Matthew 24:32-34. And yet the Advocate says it may be a thousand years distant, and that we can know nothing about it!