“Noting” American Sentinel 12, 14, pp. 212, 213.

THERE is something decidedly curious about the spectacle of a minister of the gospel stepping out from the sphere of his calling and posing as the champion of law. Why should this be done by the clergy more than by the representatives of any other calling? Are not those in other professions honorable, honest, and law-abiding? Are they not as anxious as the clergy to live under a government in which public peace and prosperity are properly safeguarded by law? These questions must be answered in the affirmative.

Why, again, should it be only in case of a Sunday-law that the clergy assume this pose? Are there not very many laws of the highest importance to the welfare of society, which need to be maintained against the assaults of the lawless? It must be admitted that there are. The tendency of the times is toward an increase of lawlessness, in those forms which are most destructive of human rights. Homicide is alarmingly on the increase, claiming by the latest statistics more than 10,500 victims in this country in a single year. Does not the prevalence of this crime, the epidemic of arson, the increase of robbery and drunkenness and other forms of iniquity which threaten the safety of society, afford as good opportunity to the clergy to become the special champions of law as does the desecration of Sunday?

Of course, from the standpoint of regard for Sunday as a religious institution, this attitude of the clergy is easily understood. But they strenuously assure us that in upholding Sunday laws they do not speak from a religious standpoint, or as preachers, but merely as citizens upholding the laws of the land. It is mysterious, to say the least.

Or, consider that other ground upon which the clergy so often base their support of Sunday laws,—that of physical necessity to the race. Why should the clergy take precedence of all other professions in looking out for the physical welfare of humanity? How does it happen that they know better than any others what man’s physical system demands for the maintenance of health? One would suppose that the physicians would know best about this, and that they would have discerned man’s physical need of Sunday rest before it was discovered by the preachers. But by some strange oversight they allowed the latter to surpass them completely on this [213] point of physiological knowledge. Indeed, it is only through the preachers that we learn that the medical profession are even now informed upon this point!

And here again we are left to wonder that the researches of the clergy in the realm of man’s physical necessities, and their special concern for the same, should be confined to the single matter of Sunday rest. For all this, be it remembered, has nothing to do with the clergy’s regard for Sunday as a religious day, but is set forth by them from a purely civil standpoint, such as is held by all citizens in common!

Is it so, indeed? We dislike to doubt the sincerity of those who make this claim; but it must be said that the appearances are sadly against it.

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