“ACTIVE and powerful agencies,” says the “Pearl of Days,” “are constantly at work in Great Britain, as well as in America, to break down the Sabbath.” However this may be in England, it is certainly true in this country. And among these agencies none are more active or more powerful than is the so-called American Sabbath Union whose sole mission is to exalt a pagan holiday at the expense of the Sabbath of the Lord.
BUT it is urged that the essence of Sabbath observance is not in the particular day observed, but in observing by rest and worship one seventh part of time in regular succession; and that the particular day is a matter of indifference. This is the theory; the practice is that it is a matter of indifference as to the particular day—provided always that Sunday is observed. But that the particular day is an essential element of Sabbath observance is seen when we come to examine the institution itself, and to understand its significance.
THE Sabbath is a memorial of the finished creation: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” This can never be true of any other day; and it must always be true of the seventh day. Says Rev. Mr. Elliott, in his prize essay, “The Abiding Sabbath,” published by the American Tract Society, “While the reason remains, the law remains. The reason of the Sabbath is to be found in the fact of creation; it is God’s one monument set in human history to that great event; and so long as the truth of creation and the knowledge of a Creator have any value to human thought, any authority over the human conscience, or make any appeal to human affections, so long the law and the institution of the Sabbath will abide with lasting instruction and undiminished obligation.”
IT follows from the statement made by Mr. Elliott, that to change the day necessarily involves a change of reason for observing the day; in short, it is to change the institution; and so we see in the Sabbath and the Sunday, not two phases of the same institution, but two rival institutions. The one commemorating creation, the other, it is claimed, the resurrection; the one sacred to Jehovah, the other, it is claimed, equally sacred to his Son; the one stigmatized as “Jewish,” the other called “Christian;” the one clearly of divine origin, the other set apart confessedly by the Church, and that in an age when corruptions already perverted the gospel of Christ.
TO illustrate this matter, let us suppose that the Irish people were in a majority in this country, and that instead of celebrating the Fourth of July they were to substitute the Seventeenth of March; and suppose further that they were to call it “Independence day,” and celebrate it much as we now do the Fourth of July; and further suppose that their influence was such that they should cause their day to almost entirely take the place of our national holiday; could it ever become the same institution? Could it ever be truthfully said that the American Independence day had been transferred to the Seventeenth of March? and could the laws which now make the Fourth of July a legal holiday ever be made to apply without change to the day which had been introduced in opposition to the Fourth of July? In short, under such conditions would not everybody say that the American Independence day had been supplanted by the Irish Saint Patrick’s day? Certainly they would. And this is exactly the case of the Sabbath of the Lord; it has been supplanted by a rival institution. Not indeed as is claimed by a day set apart by the Son of God, but by a heathen festival brought into the Church with other pagan corruptions, and foisted upon it by a foreign influence hostile to the spirit and intent of the Sabbath institution, and bent on its destruction.
AT a recent Sunday School Association meeting at Meridian, Mich., it became necessary because of lack of time to omit one topic which was to have been discussed. The choice lay between two, “Christ’s Method of Teaching the Example for Sunday-school Teachers,” and “Sunday-schools the Hope of the Nation.” The latter topic was selected as being the more important theme, and a paper was read on it by Rev. G. H. Hudson (Baptist), who took the position that inasmuch as this is a Christian Nation only a Christian is competent to stand at its head; and as Christians are developed largely in the Sunday-school, therefore the Sunday-school is the hope of the Nation. That is, upon the Sunday-school devolves the work of training the future presidents of the United States! Truly the preachers of this country are getting ahead of the bishops of Constantine’s time. The bishops only sought to make politics a branch of religion; the preachers are seeking to make religion and politics identical. It matters little about the example of Christ if only the Sunday-school can train the presidents!
ABOUT as disingenuous a plea for Sunday laws as we have seen for some time, appeared a week or two since in the Baptist Examiner:—
The prohibition for one day in the week of all labor save works of necessity and mercy is on the one hand no infringement of any man’s liberty, nor on the other is it a recognition of the Church by the States…. Nor does the State undertake to say how the day of rest shall be spent.
But what reason has the Examiner for thinking, or rather for saying, that “the prohibition for one day of the week of all labor, save works of necessity and mercy, is on the one hand no infringement of any man’s liberty”? This city is strongly Roman Catholic, and tens of thousands of people in it observe Saint Patrick’s day by refraining from labor and business. Suppose the aldermen were to pass an ordinance requiring all to rest on Saint Patrick’s day, except those who conscientiously and regularly celebrate the battle of the Boyne, what would the Examiner think? and what would it say? Would it not say that the liberty of every Protestant in the city was infringed by the ordinance? It certainly would, and justly so too. But if the civil law may rightly require the observance of Sunday, why may it not do the same thing for other religious festivals? For while the Examiner denies that Sunday laws are a recognition of the Church by the State, the fact remains that Sunday laws exist solely for the reason that Sunday is a religious institution. Were it not so there would be no such thing as a Sunday law.
BUT the sophistry of the Examiner is more apparent when we place side by side two statements which appeared in the same article in its columns, but separated by several paragraphs:—
The State does not undertake to say how the day of rest shall be spent.
When the Sunday holiday begins to nullify the Sunday rest day, the State should interfere.
This is, the State does not pretend to say how the day shall be spent, but it does say that it shall be spent neither as a working day nor as a holiday. The State leaves every man perfectly free to do just as he pleases on Sunday, provided he neither works nor plays! Wonderful freedom, which out of a possible three excludes two and leave the subject “free” to “choose” the third! But such is the freedom enjoyed under Sunday laws.