IN our report of the National Reform convention given last week, some things were merely recorded which should not be passed over without comment. So we give this week the following additional notes, which will outline more fully the nature and scope of this “reform” movement, as revealed on this occasion:—
“We must aim to make our new possessions Christian states. There has been in those places a union of church and state, and this has been most harmful to both the church and state.”—Rev. D. D. Willson [sic.].
Yes; “our new possessions” have had in them a union of church and state, which has been “most harmful,” as such unions always are. And under this union they have been Catholic “Christian states.” Is this therefore a reason why “we” should make them some other kind of “Christian states?” Which religion would you rather the state would enforce? Is not one religion, when it is forced upon people by law, just as bad as another?
“ALL the reforms we seek are in the political sphere, and require the action of the state.”—Rev. R. C. Wiley.
But religious reforms do not require the action of the state; and when the state does undertake a religious reform there is of necessity a union of church and state; which is what the National Reform movement will certainly bring.
ANOTHER strange thing the Rev. Mr. Wylie said was that a constitutional recognition of God and of Christianity “would guard against a union of church and state.” The National Reformers, he said, had been charged with seeking a union of church and state; but they had never wanted any such thing. So he proceeded to show how, as he had stated, the National Reform movement really sought to guard against the union of church and state, and provided the only effective way of preventing it. If the state remained secular, he said, as the church and religion grew more prominent, the time would come when a bargain would be made between the church and the secular state, and that would be a union of church and state, and very harmful. (They were all agreed that a union of church and state is a bad thing.) But if the state would acknowledge God and make his law the basis of civil legislation, and set a standard of morality and have national and state legislation, and court decisions, conform to it,—if in short the nation should enforce by its laws the moral standard which is maintained by the church and enforced by church discipline,—that would not be a union of church and state. Do you see the point? We don’t.
“IT is a scientific fact that the physical system requires one seventh of the time for rest.”—Rev. D. J. Burrell.
Advocates of Sunday laws are very fond of making this assertion, but they never spend any time in demonstrating that it is a scientific fact, or quote scientific authority in its support. If it is a scientific fact, it ought to be susceptible of conclusive proof.
But they claim still more than this; for not only does the physical system demand rest one day in seven, but that particular day must be Sunday! They have no use for this “scientific fact” only so far as it will support a Sunday law.
“The nation is a moral being, responsible to God for its character and conduct.”—Rev. J. M. Foster.
This idea is fundamental in the National Reform conception of government. And it is altogether false and misleading. “But,” some one may ask, “does not the Bible say, ‘The nation and kingdom that will not serve Thee [God] shall perish’? And how can the nation be responsible for serving the Lord, if it is not a moral being?”
We answer, The nation is accountable to God, only in the sense of all the people composing the nation are individually, and each for himself, accountable to God. As a political personality, exercising authority over all individuals within it and having relations with other political powers, the nation is not a moral being, for the simple plain reason that, as such, it must act through representatives of the people, and one person cannot represent others in religion. Moral responsibility cannot be delegated. The official of the civil government, so far as accountability to God is concerned, represents only himself. To their representatives the people delegate their power to enforce respect for their rights. They cannot delegate their accountability to the moral law. In religion, we have one Representative; we can have only one and we need but one; and that one is the “one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
“The first Colonial Charter, issued by James I., expressed the Christian character and purpose of the colony; it declared the relation of the civil government to God.”—Rev. R. C. Wiley.
And that is precisely the reason why Baptists were whipped and Quakers hung, under those Colonial Charters, by law. We want no charters or constitutions now under which it will be legal to follow the example set by the early Puritans.
“I WISH God’s name was in the Constitution. That is what we all wish. But the next best thing is to see that his name and his love and his law are in the hearts of the people.” (Italics ours).—Rev. D. J. Burrell.
This hardly needs any comment. The idea that to have God’s name in the Constitution would be better than to have his name, his law, and is love in the hearts of the people, is one that speaks volumes against the movement for which Mr. Burrell was speaking.
“IN one New England colony there was a law fining all people one shilling for absence from the services on Sunday, and if they were absent from both services on Sunday, they were fined one pound; and for being absent a whole month the fine was twenty pounds. If we had a similar law in force to-day we would soon have the coffers of the church is filled.”—Rev. J. M. Foster.
No doubt; but we say the churches must fill their coffers some other way.
“THE Sunday paper is strongly influential in decreasing attendance from Sunday worship.”—Rev. H. H. George.
This may be true; but if so, is it the fault of the Sunday paper, or of the Sunday sermon—which is  deliverered in the fashionable church of to-day? Is it not a fact that the “progressive” church of this day tries to compete with worldly institutions in providing attractions for world-loving people? And has such a church any right to complain if in the competition it is beaten by the Sunday paper, or by any other of its rivals? Has the church any right to demand Sunday laws to shut off competition?
“THE divine will is supreme in civil affairs.”—Rev. R. C. Wiley.
Very well; the divine will, as expressed by Jesus Christ, is, “Render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.”
“WE must refuse to buy any paper during the week that publishes a Sunday edition, and we should refuse to trade with people who advertise in Sunday papers.”—Rev. H. H. George.
“And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: and that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of is name.” Revelation 13:16, 17.
“THE written Constitution should be in harmony with the unwritten constitution, which holds to the kingship of Jesus Christ.”—Rev. R. C. Wiley.
There is no “unwritten constitution” in the American Government. Congress—the nation—can take no action not warranted by the written Constitution. This is a plain fact of American Constitutional law.
IF the national constitution contains a recognition of the kingship of Jesus Christ, said the Rev. Mr. Wiley, “it would furnish a basis for righteous decisions by the courts,” and would also “furnish a basis for excluding immoral men from Congress.”
Undoubtedly it would furnish a basis for decisions of the courts, and we would have religious court decisions. And that would make this a religious instead of a civil government. And so to excluding immoral man from Congress, this proposed change in the Constitution would exclude all dissenters not only from Congress, but from any place in the Government. “We, the people of the United States,” would not include them at all.
“WE must hold up a moral standard and let everything be conformed to that standard.”—Rev. D. J. McAllister.
What moral standard must be held up,—man standard? or God’s standard? We say God’s moral standard is the only right moral standard, and that this standard is not to be interpreted by one man for another, or for the people by the legislatures or the courts; but for each individual, by the Word and Spirit of God.
“IF the Sunday newspaper were discontinued, 200,000 newsboys in the United States would be freed from Sunday toil.”—Rev. M. B. Kneeland.
The newsboys do not have to sell papers on Sunday unless they want to. If we are not much mistaken, the average newsboy is glad of the opportunity to earn something by selling papers on that day.