THE Christian Statesman, of July 7, says: “Men have no conscience, as we understand it, on the Sabbath question without the fourth commandment. It is not an ethical axiom that one day of the seven should be put to sacred uses. Conscience on such a question cannot exist without a ‘Thus saith the Lord.’” But what then becomes of conscience in the matter of Sunday observance? It is manifest that there can be no such thing, for there is absolutely no “Thus saith the Lord” for Sunday keeping, and the Statesman knows it.
But our contemporary continues: “Missionaries tell us that they find great difficulty in getting converts to observe the Sabbath [Sunday, the Statesman means], Bishop Thoburn says: ‘When a man becomes a Christian he knows, without five minutes’ teaching, that he must avoid all immoral practices, but he does not know that he must rest one day in seven.’ And how should he?” inquires the Statesman. “And how will the missionary undertake to strengthen his conscience on that important question? He must do it, of course, by means of the fourth commandment which says, ‘Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.’”
We want to ask, What, in the face of this statement of fact, becomes of the claim that Sunday is a civil institution, based, so far as the State is concerned, on the physical necessity of a day of rest? It is simply abandoned.
That which the Statesman asserts is absolutely true, except that the fourth commandment has nothing to do with Sunday. There is absolutely nothing in nature to give even a hint of one-seventh part of time for rest, much less any particular seventh part. Whole nations have risen, become strong and flourished for centuries without any knowledge of a weekly rest day; and nations exist to-day enjoying just as good health and living just as long without a regular weekly rest day as do those who observe Sunday most strictly. The whole physical necessity argument is a “pious” fraud, invented in this country to bolster up Sunday laws under a system of government in which Church and State is supposed to be absolutely divorced, and in which the highest lawmaking power is inhibited from making any “law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Let the Statesman never again attempt to justify Sunday laws upon other than strictly religious grounds.