A CORRESPONDENT writes from Santa Barbara, Cal., of the formation there, on October 11, of a County Sabbath Union. In the course of the meeting these resolutions were adopted:—
Resolved, 1st, That this organization be called “The Santa Barbara County Sabbath Union,” and be auxiliary to the American Sabbath Union.
2nd. That it is our conviction, that in the absence of a State Sunday law, immediate efforts ought to be made to secure a county closing ordinance.
3rd. We pledge our hearty co-operation with all good people to secure a Sunday law for our State.
4th. We urge upon pastors the necessity of making the doctrine of the Lord’s day more prominent in the presentation of gospel truth.
5th. We urge upon Sunday-school teachers and parents the importance of giving larger attention to instruction regarding the Lord’s day.
6th. This organization will use its utmost endeavor to prevent the desecration of the Lord’s day by ball playing and other forms of popular amusement.
7th. This Union pledges to aid the civil authorities in the enforcement of the existing Sunday ordinance and such others as may be enacted hereafter.
Short addresses were made by different ministers present, in favor of the resolutions, in which it was said by one, in effect, that unless California should soon have a Sunday law on her statute book the work of the gospel would come to a standstill in California. Another said: “Our movement has many opposers, and the worst class of opposition comes from Seventh-day Adventists. The Jews are willing to submit to the law, but Seventh-day Adventists persist in carrying on their business in open defiance to the law of the land. We must have an effective Sabbath-law.”
The matter of exemption clauses was raised by this question, which was handed in and read: “If we allow an exemption clause in favor of those who conscientiously keep another day as the Sabbath, will not this be used by some who are not Christians, and the law, in a measure, be ineffective?” To this the answer was made that no trouble need be anticipated on that score, “because it can be readily shown, through the people of the community in which such people live, whether they are conscientious in profession or not.”
Another minister thought the discussion of that question useless, for, “As for these Seventh-day Adventists—why there is only a handful of them any way, and as for me, I waste no time on them. I don’t regard them as worth the powder and shot to blow them up.” All present were not of this opinion, for a Presbyterian gentleman arose and said: “I want to say in behalf of these seventh-day people that I know them to be honorable citizens, and just as good Christians as we are. I want to see fair dealing with everybody.”
This called out from the minister who had already been most prominent in the meeting a dissertation upon the Sabbath question, in which he attempted to show that Sunday was really the seventh day, prefacing his argument by the assertion that it was through ignorance that many were deceived in this matter.
At this point a Seventh-day Adventist, who was present, surprised the assembly with a short exposition of the principles of civil and religious liberty, but this same minister, who had advocated the resolutions the most zealously, replied promptly: “It is a fact that Church and State have a nearer relation than most people are aware, in the enforcement of Sunday laws, but the constitutionality of Sunday laws are now no longer a matter of argument. The Supreme Court has settled that question in its late decision.” He then read extracts from the opinion of Justice Brewer in the trinity Church case holding that this is a Christian Nation, etc.
That there was considerable dissent from the positions taken by the resolutions, and those who spoke in their behalf, was shown by the remarks of laymen, and also of some ministers, in conversation after the close of the meeting, when they acknowledged that they believed it an error to attempt any coercion in matters of religion.
Meetings and discussions similar to this which our correspondent has recounted are occurring all over the country. They are very significant. It is worthy to be noticed that Justice Brewer’s decision has now become the canon law of the Church and of the land, beyond which it is already impiety to inquire. The tide is rising rapidly.