A GROWING fear is agitating many minds throughout Christendom, that the world will lose its rest day. A prominent churchman has declared that “the more we assimilate Sunday to other days by the amusements, the occupations, the teaching and reading and thinking with which we fill it, the greater is the danger that ultimately we shall lose it altogether.” So it is proposed to guard against such a loss by “every sanction which the law can furnish.”
So far as Sunday is concerned, this fear is doubtless well grounded. There is a growing tendency to disregard the religious distinction which that day has for several centuries enjoyed, and to make it a day for secular pursuits and pleasures; and there is no power on earth that can stop it. The distinction between it and other days of the week, excepting the seventh, is one which rests only upon human authority and custom, and to human authority and human power it must look for that which is to save it from being swept away.
Many men have observed, and do now observe the day from conscientious convictions of duty, believing it to be the day divinely instituted and given to man to be kept holy. But with the knowledge that it is not and never was a holy day,—now fast being disseminated throughout the religious world,—and that its claim to sanctity rests on nothing but the traditions of men, while the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, which all men are bound to observe, as the fourth commandment declares, there springs up naturally in men’s minds a disregard for the Sunday, which the argument of law is powerless to cure. No human law ever changed the convictions of a person’s heart. The most that human law can do is to make some of those who do not believe Sunday to be a sacred day, act as though they did believe it; that is, to make hypocrites; for all who do believe it to be of a sacred character will observe it without the law. This is the only additional guard that secular enactments can throw around the day,—a guard of hypocrites.
But how is it with “the Sabbath of the Lord,” the seventh day? Is there any danger that it will be lost? We hear no such fear expressed. Though its adherents are very much less numerous than the number who profess allegiance to Sunday, none of them have any doubt that it is sufficiently guarded and secure. It comes regularly once in each week, and shows no tendency whatever to get lost. The masses not only of the world but of Christendom, are against it, but it is losing no ground. On the contrary, its cause is moving steadily forward, and the number of its adherents is growing in all parts of the world day by day. No human law gives it aid, no popular church party gives it sanction, no men of wealth and influence are behind to push it forward; yet it moves onward with a power and majesty which discomforts and confounds its enemies.
The reason of this is simple. It is “the Sabbath of the Lord.” He is behind it and in it. His power is with it. Upon his word it rests. Small wonder then that it flourishes without the aid of human laws, influence or wealth. Human power will turn against it, but that will make no difference. It is guarded and upheld by the Word of the Lord, and can no more be vanquished or lost than can God himself.
The only way to get the Sabbath is to get Christ. The only way to keep the Sabbath is to keep Christ. In Christ is rest; without him there is no rest. “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Would not this gracious invitation of the Master be as good to present to the poor workingman as a law compelling him to rest(?) whether he will or no?
In Christ the workingman and every other man will find his rest, and he will not find it in any other way. He will find the Sabbath; for he is Lord of the Sabbath, the Creator of all things, and the Institutor, with his Father, of the day of rest. He kept it. The keeping of the Sabbath is a part of his life; and therefore those who have his life in them will keep it too. And they will not be afraid of the consequences, whether it be loss of position, loss of wealth or influence, or persecution from those who know not God. If they meet all these, they will still have as much as the Saviour had here on earth, and they ask no more.
When Christ can be put into the heart by human law, then Sabbath rest can be given to an individual by law, and not before. Until then, it is useless to talk of throwing guards around the Sabbath by human enactments.