“Editorial” American Sentinel 8, 28, pp. 209, 210.

July 13, 1893

THE Sunday managers resorted to the United States courts and got swamped the first thing. “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

THEY called upon the courts to decide their question. The courts did decide the question. And now they refuse to accept the decision. They submitted their cause to the courts, and now refuse to accept the decision because it was not on their side.

WELL, then, as they are determined to have their own way anyhow, what in the world did they want with the courts in the first place? Ah! they only wanted to use the court as a tool in enforcing their own decision and their own will upon the people of the United States. And having failed in that, Bishop Merrill, for the Methodist Church and “other denominations,” announced that they will pursue a course “that means that they will pursue a course “that means that the World’s Fair will be a financial failure.” Was there ever, or could there be, a clearer case of “rule or ruin”? It is true that Bishop Merrill has since discovered that he could not carry the whole Methodist Board with him in this, but this does not affect the principles involved, nor change his disposition. Neither have the “other denominations” changed their announced course.

THEY unsparingly denounced the Directory of the Fair as “anarchists” and their action as “violation of law,” and “anarchistic in conception and rebellious in character,” etc., etc., at their pleasure when the Directory opened the gates on Sunday in pursuance of what they supposed to be a proper interpretation of a law of which Judge Grosscup—the only judge of the lower court who was right—said that it was “so ambiguous that it required a construction of the law-officers of the Government; so ambiguous that of the three judges sitting, there is a difference of opinion between them respecting its effect.” And now these very ones themselves openly and intentionally disregard the plain decision of the United States Court which they themselves called for.

NOW if the action of the Directory in construing a law “so ambiguous,” was “anarchistic” and “rebellious,” then what is this action of the church managers in intentionally disregarding the plain and unmistakable decision of this high court, whose jurisdiction they themselves invoked? Judge Grosscup pertinently inquired: “Is the local corporation to be held to have known precisely what that act meant, when this court is divided as to what its meaning is?” But there is no room for any such inquiry in behalf of the action of the church managers in disregarding the decision of the court which is not at all ambiguous, and about which there was no division of the court. There was ample room for the Directory to act innocently in what they did. There is no room whatever for the church managers to act innocently in what they are doing in this matter.

THE Directory stated plainly beforehand that if the court decided that they were wrong they would accept it in good faith and conform to it in good faith. But neither before nor after, did the Sunday managers make any such statement. Instead of that they plainly declare that they will not do any such thing, but will make the Fair “a financial failure;” and all because that, in the law procedure which they had inquired, they have failed to accomplish their purpose to rule the country. Of course it is always understood that especially the party which initiates legal procedure shall accept in good faith the final decision. With the other party it is not necessarily so; for he may be dragged into it, and forced into court by the course of the initiative, and he is not bound to accept any decision because the whole procedure may be one of persecution, and therefore wrong from the beginning.

But with the initiative it is not so. It is in the nature of things, it inheres in the very idea of legal government, that the party who resorts to the law, the party who begins legal procedure, shall accept in good faith the final decision. Otherwise there is no use of legal government; violence becomes the only procedure, and might the only source of appeal. And that is anarchy indeed.

NOW it is the everlasting truth that the Sunday party did take the initiative, and have kept it, from the first inception of the act of Congress clear up to this final decision of the court. And now, instead of accepting the final decision in good faith, they do not accept it at all, but resort to violence. The party of the second part, the party that was dragged into the procedure and into court, freely announces beforehand that if the decision is against them, they will accept it in good faith, and so conform to it. The party of the first part, the party which takes and holds the initiative from the beginning, openly disregards and refuses to accept the final decision, and boldly announces their purpose to pursue such a course as will make the Fair “a financial failure.” And these are the ones who so scathingly denounce the course of the Directory as “anarchistic” and “rebellious”!

THE sum of the whole matter is this: It is essential to the very idea of existence of legal government that the party who takes the initiative in legal procedure shall accept in good faith, and so conform to the final decision; not to do so, but to act the same as though there had been no decision after the final decision has been rendered, is in itself to renounce legal government and is essentially anarchistic and rebellious. The Sunday-law party is and has been from the beginning, the party of the initiative in this legal procedure. This party instead of accepting in good faith the final decision, ignores it entirely and resorts to violence—the boycott—after that decision has been rendered; it therefore follows inevitably, and the demonstration is complete, that the action of the Sunday managers in this matter is truly the action, and the only one, which is indeed “anarchistic in conception and rebellious in execution.” This [210] is the logic of the situation, and it is the exact truth. Their every action only further illustrates it; and their calling other people “anarchists,” “rebels,” “traitors,” “atheists,” and so on, can never disprove this abiding truth.

THIS is the same conclusion to which we were forced last year by the logic of their course in securing the act of Congress requiring the closing of the Fair. It is the only just conclusion that can ever be reached from the basis of ecclesiastical dictation or control in the affairs of the Government. And this for the plain and simple reason that on the part of the ecclesiastics it is never intended that they shall pay any respectful attention to any law or any decision that does not suit them. Therefore the only purpose for which they ever resort to either legislative or judicial procedure is that the governmental authority may be at their disposal with which to execute upon the people their arbitrary will. And this, in itself, is at once to sweep away all really just, or properly legal, government.

AND all this only makes the more manifest the divine wisdom which commands the total separation of the ecclesiastical and the civil powers, which forbids the Church to have any connection with the State. It also demonstrates the wisdom of the men who made the Government of the United States, in embodying in the Constitution and the supreme law of the divine idea for governments—the total separation of Church and State. And this which has been done, and which is now being done, by the churches, is only a hint, and the beginning, of the sea of troubles into which the Government will be plunged, and indeed finally sunk by this gross disregard of the governmental principle established by our fathers, and announced by Jesus Christ.

SO long as the Church keeps herself entirely separate from the State, she can consistently and rightly disregard any and all legislative acts, judicial decrees, or executive power, put forth upon religious questions; because she ever denies the right of government to touch religion or any religious question in any way. But when she forgets her place and her high privilege, and herself actually invites governmental jurisdiction of religious observances, she then, by so doing, and in justice, forfeits her power of protest, and her right to disregard governmental commands in things religious, while in fact and in practice she refuses to let it go, so that whenever the Government does not do according to her will she openly and intentionally disregards the very authority which she herself has invoked. She thus becomes the chiefest example and source of lawlessness, and the swiftest instrument of governmental ruin.

AND this is what the Sunday leaders of the United States are; and this is the relation which they bear to the Government to-day. J. [217]

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