IN the Missouri Sunday-law Convention Dr. Hayes, of Kansas City, made a speech in which he said:—
“It is said, ‘Is not this Sunday excursion of the country, this trip to the country, is not that rest?’ Now I have seen some of these trips to the country; I used to take them occasionally. I have been around considerably to picnics. I have gone to a good many Congregational picnics. Absolutely, I never went anywhere from which I came home more tired than from a Sunday-school picnic. I took my brother from Allegheny into the Rocky Mountains one summer, and we worked so hard resting that we came home absolutely worn out—both of us were absolutely worn out. If you want to see the nervous effect of a Sunday excursion out of Kansas City into a suburban town, take passage on the return home train. The men had caroused all day, letting their wives carry the baby, and if you ever saw a fagged-out set of women you will see it then. The next day as compositors in the printing office, as apprentices in the workshops, and in their blacksmith shops, and carpenter shops—these men all day were not worth much more than half a hand’s wages. That is the fact about it. Why?—Because that Sunday, instead of being a day of rest and invigoration, was a day of exhaustion, of nervous exhaustion, and they came back home fagged-out. You follow that same man’s brother; probably he took a good nap Sabbath morning; got up at eight o’clock; had a good, comfortable breakfast with his children; along about nine o’clock the children went to Sabbath-school; and at ten o’clock he and his wife leisurely walked down to the church, took their seat in God’s house quietly, and listened to the sermon, and by and by went home and took a good comfortable dinner. Then he took a good rest in the afternoon, went to the church at night, and Monday morning that man went to his shop and took hold of the plane and was ready for work.”
This contrast is no doubt correct between the man who carouses and the man who goes to church. But admitting all this to be true, then what is the object of stopping the Sunday excursion trains and streetcars, except it be to have the people go to church instead of on excursions? But will they go to church when the cars are stopped? Will not those who are given to carousing carry it on in the city instead of going to church?
It is not at all true, however, that all of the people who go to the park and on excursions on Sunday are given to carousing.
A further point in this is the arrogant assumption of the Sunday-law clerics of power to compel everybody to conform to their views on Sunday. Because some people choose to ill-use themselves upon opportunity, therefore all opportunity to use themselves either well or ill on that day, except that of going to church, must be taken away from everybody! “It is of the essence of power that it may be exercised unwisely or abused by those to whom it is intrusted.” And because some choose to abuse their rights of recreation and enjoyment, this does not in any sense justify the effort of the Sunday-law advocates to take away from other, or even these, the right to rightly use these powers. When these Sunday-law men shall have succeeded in their effort to regulate the exercise of the powers of others, what assurance have we that they themselves will not abuse the power which they propose to exercise? There is no assurance whatever that they will not, but we have the assurance of all history that they will.
More than this, there is no remedy in law for such evils. All that law can possibly do in such cases is by the exercise of restraint to check the evil for a time, and that time is only until the restraint can be cast off, or the vigilance of those who enforce the law is slacked. Then not only does the evil go on, but it goes on with accelerated force, from the fact that the victims will reimburse themselves for the deprivations which they have been forced to bear. As the Hon. Mr. McDougal told the Sunday-law preachers at Columbus, Ohio, the remedy for all these things of which they complain, lies deeper than can be reached by law, and can be effected by nothing else than the strictly remedial power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. That renews the mind, purifies the heart, and reforms the life, by implanting the abiding principle of absolute right and the love of it. If these men would employ the power of the gospel of Christ in their work, instead of the power of the civil law, they would find the results much more rapid and effective.
A. T. J.