IN our issue of last week brief allusion was made to the singular fact(?), overlooked by the physicians and scientists, but discovered by the clergymen, that Sunday rest is absolutely essential to mankind for the preservation of physical health.
There is, however, one exception to the rule, which should be noted. One physician, Dr. A. Haegler, stands abreast of the clergy in knowledge of the facts of physical science, and has prepared a “chart,” showing the result to an individual of the omission of Sunday rest, as compared with the result when Sunday is regularly observed. We present herewith this remarkable production. 518 It will be observed that the person who disregards Sunday rest goes steadily down hill, physically, until, as may be supposed, he sinks, a complete bodily wreck, into the gulf of physical perdition; while the one who has regularly abstained from work on Sunday naturally and easily maintains the level of his physical health.
As an illustration of an idea, this chart serves its purpose well. The only trouble is, it must stand without any support in truth. The “facts” of the illustration do not exist.
An illustration is not an argument. The one conveys an idea, the other demonstrates its truth or falsity. The demonstration of the truth of what this chart represents is yet to be had.
An appeal to the facts of history or of present human existence is sufficient to show the utter fallacy of this illustration. The number of people in this world who have regularly observed Sunday as a day of rest, or who so observe it to-day, is comparatively small. The weekly rest-day is found only in those lands where the people profess Christianity. In what are known as “heathen” lands, it is not observed. Nor has it ever been known as a practice among the heathen nations of past times. Yet, in point of physical perfection, the heathen compare favorably with the people of so-called Christian nations. The physical giants of ancient times were not among the Sabbath-keeping Israelites, but among the heathen nations whom God dispossessed of the land which he would give to his people. There were men such as Goliath of Gath, Og, king of Bashan, and the Anakim, of whom the ten spies said in their report, “We were in their sight as grasshoppers.” Coming to the testimony of later times, we find that the ancient Greeks were the most noted men of their age in point of physical perfection and prowess; yet they had no weekly day of rest. Nor did the conquering Romans know such an institution. And for our own times we have such testimony as the following from Bishop Andrews, of the Methodist Church, on his return from China:—
In China they have no septennial division of time, no weekly rest-day, merely annual festivals. They work right along all the time with no day of rest as such; yet they live to a very advanced age. This fact has led one of the most careful thinkers who has ever been sent as a missionary to China, to raise a serious question whether the great purpose of the Sabbath is not for worship and communion with the other world.
But it is not necessary that we go to pagan lands for these comparisons. Multitudes of people in our own country either spend Sunday in work or in some other manner requiring as much physical exertion as their ordi-dinary [sic.]labor. But it is safe to assert that Dr. Haegler himself could not distinguish between these men and others who regularly rest and go to church on Sunday, by any evidence to be gathered from a physical examination.
The truth is, that it is not mere rest—idleness—that man’s physical system demands, but change—recreation. We except, of course, the daily demand for that nearly complete cessation of physical activity which is obtained in sleep. No one, however, advocates spending the Sunday in sleep. It is assumed that men are to be on that day in the full possession of their physical and mental activities; otherwise what would become of the church services? But when these faculties are fully awake they want exercise. This is a law of man’s being. An all-wise Creator has wisely made activity the normal condition of the human system. Mere idleness without sleep is more exhaustive of nerve force and vitality, than is exercise. In these statements we are only telling what is well known to intelligent people.
It is not work that wears, but worry; not exercise that breaks down the system, but excess; not discipline that destroys its faculties, but dissipation. A thousand and one causes operate in determining the individual’s physical status. Intemperance, inherited defects, uncontrolled passion, the cares and worries of life, too prolonged or violent exertion, weakness and excess of every kind and degree, affect our physical well-being. Yet Dr. Haegler in his chart presumes to differentiate between all these causes, not in one case merely but for all individuals, and distinguish the physical effect due to the observance or non-observance of a weekly rest day!
We might refer to the Sabbath institution as set forth in God’s holy Word, and show that it is designed by the Creator not as a day of idleness, but of activity in spiritual exercises; but the purposes of this article do not require it. It is sufficient to say, in conclusion, that the clergymen who are calling for “laws” to compel people to “rest” on Sunday, both ignore Dr. Haegler’s chart in their own practice—Sunday being pre-eminently their “busy day”—and also in their hopes and  desires respecting others. They are perfectly willing that men should be as active as they please on Sunday, provided that activity is directed in religious channels, and for purposes they may specify as proper.
A chart which would portray the disastrous effects upon individuals and upon society of enforced Sunday idleness, would be a much more useful one, and would have a foundation in reality.