SPEAKING of the work of the “American Sabbath Union,” the Independent remarks that one of the duties devolving on this organization is that of watching the interests of the “Sabbath” in the legislatures. Much vigilance has to be exercised to prevent any lessening of the force of the “Sabbath laws.” For example, it says a section of the penal code in a certain State read: “All labor on Sunday is prohibited, excepting works of necessity or charity. In works of necessity or charity is included whatever is needful during the day for the good order and health or comfort of the community.” An amendment to the last clause was introduced, providing that “in works of necessity is included whatever is needed during the day for the good order, health, recreation, convenience or comfort of the community.” Such proposed amendments to the “Sabbath laws” in the various States oblige the American Sabbath Union to keep a vigilant watch lest they receive legislative sanction and thus modify the rigor of the “Sabbath” statutes.
But what is there about recreation or convenience on Sunday to which any reasonable person need take exception? Must people be inconvenienced and denied recreation on that day? The Sabbath is a memorial of creation; how then can it be better observed than in recreation? Of the Creator himself it is written that “On the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.” What then is there wicked about refreshment on the Sabbath day?
Cannot the members of the American Sabbath Union be at east without knowing that people are being inconvenienced on Sunday and after six days of toil are being denied any recreation?
Even if there were anything wicked in recreation on the Sabbath day, what would this have to do with the business of a State legislature? Is it the State’s business to suppress a thing because it is wicked? What then is wicked? The Catholic says it is wicked to stay away from mass. Must the State endorse attendance at mass? If is wicked to … the Word of the Lord, must the State compel all people to believe? Must the State, in short, undertake to suppress sin?
The Sabbath means both rest and refreshment; but this is true of the Bible Sabbath, “the Sabbath of the Lord,” the seventh day. The Sunday sabbath means rest without refreshment, rest under law, restraint, which is more wearisome than no rest at all. That it does mean this, is evidenced beyond controversy by the Sunday laws.