THE bishops of the Protestant Episcopal Church, assembled at Minneapolis, Oct. 22, issued their “pastoral address,” in which, we are told, the chief points of interest are the references “to the massacre of Christian missionaries in China, and the Sunday observance law.” Concerning the latter the address says:—
Recent events in some parts of our country compel us to call your earnest attention to a widely spread and determined attack upon the use and purpose of the weekly day of rest known at the beginning of the Christian era, as the Lord’s day. It is declared in the law of God to be his own day, and by the Saviour of man to be “made for man.” It is protected by a divine command and by the perpetual sanctity of a human right. Men may and ought to worship God every day, but for the greater assurance of this duty on day in seven has, with the formal sanction of all Christian civilization, been set apart for its due observance. This order cannot be disturbed without grave evils to the individual and the family, to society and to State.
It seems almost incredible that our modern life should be capable of bringing into play any powers of evils that could seriously threaten the existence of so divine and beneficient an institution. And yet the peril and disaster of such a menace confront Christian people in wide areas of the country. We exhort you, dear brethren, to meet this menace with unfaltering courage and resolute determination, and in no opportunity that may be presented to decline battle with the insatiate greed of the liquor traffic and the growing desire for popular pleasures and amusements, which with increasing boldness claim all days alike for their uses.
These words are, of course, spoken with reference to “the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday.” It is the growing disregard of this day as a religious institution that is viewed by these bishops as an occasion of alarm and an “almost incredible” feature of “our modern life.”
Yet these bishops know very well that the day “declared in the law of God to be his own day, and by the Saviour of man to be ‘made for man,’” is not the first day of the week at all, but the seventh day. They know that God’s Word never calls the first day of the week the Sabbath, or a sacred day, or commands anybody to keep it. It is by the will and the wisdom of man that the reverence and honor due the seventh day of the week, and given to it by God’s people of old, have been transferred to the first day.
Now, cannot these bishops, and all other people as well, see that there is nothing more “incredible” in this modern laxity of Sunday observance, then there was in the transfer of Sabbath obligations from the seventh day to a day never called the sabbath by divine  sanction? Is it not plain that the same authority which can erect an institution, can also without blame, pull it down or set it aside? This is certainly true; and since Sunday as a religious institution rests wholly upon the will and wisdom of man, we fail to see any act of impropriety, or occasion for surprise, if by the same will and authority, as represented in the present generation, this institution is changed from a day of rest and religious devotions, to one of “popular pleasures and amusements.”
We are presenting the case in accordance with the logic of the bishops’ position, and that of al those who observe Sunday as the “Christian sabbath.” We do not want the world, or any part of it, to disregard God’s holy day. No person can do this without suffering incalculable loss. But when we take the position that this day is the first day of the week, standing as we then do upon the will and authority of man rather than upon the Word of God, we thereby sanction the very thing which we would so earnestly seek to prevent.
If we would, without inconsistency, raise our voice against Sabbath desecration, we must do so from the standpoint of the word and authority of God alone.