SUNDAY slavery is a favorite theme of the Chicago ministers just now. The time was when, if a man was converted to God, he turned away from following the world, and became a servant of his new and divine Lord to do his will and pleasure regardless of the customs and opinions of the time-serving and money-loving people around him. But not so nowadays according to the statement of some of the leading divines. But on the contrary, after the church has converted them, then it has to undertake a work of liberating them by removing every cross so that the convert will have no sacrifice to make in becoming a Christian and taking upon him the obligations of church membership.
SOME of these church members are clerks, and are employed by men who are Jews and Liberals, who keep their places of business open on Sunday. They have been induced to join the church, but they have not left off their Sunday work, although they know it is contrary to the law of the land, and the church teaches that it is contrary to the law of God. When men who happen to be Liberals or secularists do the same things, they are called Anarhists; but when the members of the church are involved, they are “slaves to a custom.”
AN eminent clergyman of the city of Chicago recently in his Sunday evening discourse said, “There are many worthy members of my charge who never hear their pastor preach, except occasionally on Sunday evening they get excused by their employers at eight o’clock so that they can attend church.” He said that it has been suggested to him that discipline would be a good thing in their case, but said he, “Before I would resort to that I would go out of the church myself, body, soul, and breeches.” So these violators of the laws of God and man will be retained in the church until the proprietors can be compelled to release them by closing their places of business on Sunday, for the only remedy suggested by the reverend gentleman was agitation and boycott until these “slaves” should be released.
PERTINENT to this subject is the following notice which the Pittsburg Dispatch of October 10, makes of a sermon delivered on the previous day in that city:—
Rev. J. H. Patterson supplied the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church yesterday. Taking, “Be thou faithful unto death,” as his text, he delivered an eloquent plea for Christian steadfastness and faithfulness to duty. Illustrating his theme with the example of constancy, he related how, when the Roman emperor came to the throne he issued an edict that the subjects in his employ should either resign their positions or renounce the Christian religion. The larger part resigned. The next day he reappointed all those who had done so to their old positions and banished those who had disclaimed their faith in the hope of winning his favor. He went on to state that Christians are to be faithful to their vows and that it is a Christian’s highest privilege to be persecuted. This was the Christian’s reward, and was the distinguishing feature of Christianity. No other religion was to be compared with it. God’s light could illumine a mountain as easily as a mole hill.
IT is not easy to see how Mr. Patterson could reconcile his sermon with the demand of the churches for Sunday laws. One ground on which such laws are demanded is that those who desire to keep Sunday may be enabled to do so without loss of position or business. In other words, the State is asked to so arrange things that not only will it require no self-denial to keep Sunday, but that the Sunday-keeper will have a positive advantage. The Sunday-keepers evidently do not want any of the blessings promised to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; they want no cross-bearing with their religion; the self-denial must be reduced to the minimum and be limited in fact to abstaining from those hurtful things which are eschewed by the mere moralist as well as by the Christian.
THE Sunday people are, however, determined that there shall be persecutions, and that somebody shall get the blessing for enduring them; and not only that crosses shall be borne but that they shall be heavy enough to be felt; and so they insist upon Sunday laws and then enforce those laws, as they are doing in Tennessee, and as they threaten to do elsewhere, upon those who conscientiously dissent from the prevailing religion; and thus Christians are persecuted by other Christians, so-called.