“‘Connecting Links Between Church and State’” American Sentinel 3, 4, pp. 27, 28.

IN the Homiletic Review for December, 1887, Philip Schaff, D. D., LL. D., has an article on “The Connecting Links Between Church and State,” and says that there are three of these links, namely, Marriage, Sunday, and the Public School. That is, these are the three links which form the union of Church and State in the United States. From the adoption of the Constitution until lately, it has ever been the just pride of this Nation, that in its form of government, Church and State were wholly separate; and that with religion the State had nothing to do, but left that matter just where it rightly belongs, as solely pertaining to the individual’s personal relations between himself and God. Within the last few years, however, there has been a notable change of view in regard to this subject, in both its phases, especially on the part of prominent theologians and would-be church-leaders.

One class of these insist that the propagation of religious opinions is an essential prerogative of civil government, and therefore they with “undying enthusiasm” are determined to have the National Constitution and laws so altered as to make their views effective. Of this class the leaders of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the National Reform Association are the representatives. The other class insist that in this Government there is already a union of Church and State. Of these Dr. Schaff is the principal one, and this article in the Homiletic Review is his statement of the case. It would be an easy task to show the causes of this change of base on the part of the Church and State religionists, but we shall not enter upon that at this time. We want to notice Dr. Schaff’s “Links.”

He starts out with this proposition:—

“A total separation of Church and State is an impossibility, unless we cease to be a Christian people.”

He offers not a particle of proof in support of this statement, while proof is the very thing that is most needed. He assumes that the people of the United States are Christians, while not one in ten of them are Christians. The Doctor ought to have offered some proof; assumptions are not proof. But granting his assumption that this is a Christian people, and this a Christian Nation, his proposition is yet defective, because he says that, that being so, “A total separation of Church and State is an impossibility.” However, to call this defective is not enough—it is totally wrong. For the precept of Christ does make a total separation of Church and State. The word of Christ is, “Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” There is no question at all that by the term “Cesar” the Saviour means the State—the civil government. Here duty lies in two directions—to God and to the State. To each is to be rendered that which is his—to God that which is God’s, to the State that which is the State’s. Now the church of Christ is God’s; that which is rendered to the church is rendered to God, because it is “the church of the living God.” The church is not Cesar’s, it is God’s. That which pertains to the church does not and cannot pertain to the State; that which is to be rendered to the church is not to be, and cannot be, rendered to the State; because the church is God’s, and that which is God’s must be rendered to him and not to the State. Therefore it is demonstrated that in these words the Lord Jesus has totally, and forever, separated the church from the State. And therefore Doctor Schaff’s proposition is contrary to the word of Christ.

Doctor Schaff counts marriage as one of the connecting links that unite Church and State. But this is impossible without making marriage a sacrament of the church and confining it to that, as the Papacy has assumed the power to do, and so to count all marriages as only concubinage which are not solemnized by the church. But this it is impossible to do, because marriage belongs to the race. It no more belongs to Christians than to pagans. It is an original institution, and knows no distinctions. It belongs equally to atheists, infidels, Jews, heathen, and Christians—all alike, and to one class no more than to another. And as the institution belongs to all classes that can be found in civil government; and as it relates to man in his relations to his fellow-men; its regulation is properly within the province [28] of civil government. As a matter of fact, marriage is no more a “connecting link” between Church and State, than is life, or property, or character.

But when the Doctor comes to the discussion of his second “connecting link,” the Sunday, he makes a good deal worse mixture than he does with his first. We quote the whole paragraph:—

“The Christian Sabbath, or weekly day of rest, is likewise protected by legislation, and justly so, because it has a civil as well as a religious side; it is necessary and profitable for the body as well as for the soul; it is of special benefit to the laboring classes, and guards them against the tyranny of capital. The Sabbath antedates the Mosiac legislation, and is, like the family, founded in the original constitution of man, for whose temporal and spiritual benefit it was instituted by the God of creation.”

This paragraph is as full of error as an egg is full of meat. We have not space to fully set forth all the errors that it contains, but we shall call attention to some. The most prominent token of error that it bears is, that it contradicts itself. He first calls it “the Christian Sabbath,” and then says that it is “founded in the original constitution of man.” But Christianity is not an original institution. How, then, can the Sabbath be “founded in the original constitution of man,” and be at the same time the “Christian Sabbath”? It cannot be; it is a moral impossibility. Christian institutions are peculiar to the system of redemption through Christ; but the Sabbath antedates the system of redemption. The Sabbath was instituted before man had sinned, before he needed to be redeemed. It would have been kept by man had he never sinned; but had he never sinned, there never would have been any Christianity, nor any Christian institutions. Consequently it is impossible for the Sabbath to be the “Christian” Sabbath. It is utterly a misnomer to call it the Christian Sabbath. The only names the Author of the Sabbath has ever given it are “the Sabbath of the Lord,” and, “the Lord’s day.”

Let these titles, which alone the Author of the Sabbath has given to that institution, be put alongside of his own words in relation to what men owe to civil government, and see how the matter stands. He calls it “the Sabbath of the Lord,” and, “the Lord’s day.” He says, “Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s; and unto God the things that are Gods.” The Sabbath is the Lords. It is the Lords day. Therefore it is to be rendered to the Lord. The Sabbath pertains not to Cesar. It is not Cesar’s in any sense. It is the Lord’s. Therefore, the Sabbath being the Lord’s and not Cesar’s, it is proved by the words of Christ that the civil government has nothing at all to do with it. This annihilates at once the Doctor’s idea that the Sabbath “has a civil as well as a religious side.” The word of God says that the Sabbath is the Lord’s, and Christ distinctly separates that which is the Lord’s, from that which is Cesar’s: therefore when Dr. Schaff or anybody else attempts to pass off the Sabbath as both civil and religious, as pertaining both to God and to Cesar, he confounds that which Christ has clearly distinguished, and virtually charges Christ with loose thinking.

The commandment of God does not say, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it civilly; it does say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” The Sabbath is wholly a religious institution; man’s observance of it pertains wholly to the Lord. Therefore when the State undertakes to enforce the observance of the Sabbath, it thereby demands that to Cesar shall be rendered that which is God’s; and in that it usurps the place of God. That which is the Lord’s we are to render to him direct, without any of the meddling mediumship of Cesar. When we have rendered to Cesar that which is his, we have rendered to him all his due, and when he has so received his due, he has no right to demand any more. And it is none of his business how men render to God that which is God’s, or whether they render it at all or not.

All this is written in regard to the State and the Sabbath of the Lord. It is Sunday, however, that Dr. Schaff presents as the second connecting link which forms the union of Church and State in our country. And indeed this much of his article is true. Sunday is the link which connects Church and State, whenever the State has anything to do with it in the way of legislation. We ourselves showed in the SENTINEL of last month, that Sunday was the link that united Church and State in the fourth century, and that in the same way Sunday is now being used as the link by which Church and State will be united in fact in the United States. But whereas the Sabbath of the Lord belongs to God, though not to Cesar, the Sunday Sabbath belongs neither to God nor to Cesar. There is no command of God for it. It is wholly an institution of the church. The church, instituted the practice of Sunday observance; the first Sunday law that ever was issued—that by Constantine—was at the request of the church, and was expressly to favor the church; and that has been the only purpose of Sunday legislation from that time to this. And that is why it is that Sunday is in truth the “connecting link” that forms the union between the Church and the State. But the more permanently that link is severed amongst all people, the better it is for both Church and State. There has never yet been a union of Church and State, that has not tended only the more to corrupt both. And it never can be otherwise. The church of Christ is espoused “as a chaste virgin to Christ,” and she cannot join herself to any other, without forsaking her Lord and making herself an adulteress.

Let no one blame us for saying that there is no command of God for keeping Sunday, and that it is an institution of the church. We make the statements just as we find them, and we find them made by what is certainly high authority. The American Tract Society issues a $500 prize-essay on the subject, which says of the “Christian Sabbath,” that there is “complete silence of the New Testament so far as any explicit command” “or definite rules for its observance are concerned.” And the American Sunday School Union issues a $1,000 prize-essay on the same subject, which says: “Up to the time of Christ’s death there had been no change in the day.” And “so far as the record shows they [the apostles] did not give any explicit command en-joining the abandonment of the seventh-day Sabbath, and its observance on the first day of the week.” And this $500 essay also fixes upon Sunday as a sacred day only by “a consensus of the Christian church.” Now according to the word of Christ, which we are here discussing, men owe duty in but two directions—to God and to Caesar. But Sunday observance belongs to neither of these, but to “the church.” Therefore as Sunday observance belongs neither to God nor to civil government, there is no power in existence that can of right command it; and there is no obligation resting upon any soul to observe it.

Dr. Schaff’s third “connecting link” the Public School, we must defer till our next.

A. T. J.

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