SUNDAY and Monday, August 4, and 5, were field days in Oakland and San Francisco for the field secretary of the American Sabbath Union. He spoke at 11 o’clock Sunday in the Howard Street Methodist Church, San Francisco. The pastor, Rev. Dr. Harcourt, introduced him as having been a prominent minister of the Methodist Church, and now an honored minister of the Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Crafts began by saying that the American Sabbath Union was formed in the last General Conference of the M. E. Church, and that “Bishop Newman gave it its happy name of American Sabbath Union instead of a National Sabbath Union,” and that it is intended under the name American to maintain the golden mean between the Puritan Sunday on one hand and the Continental Sunday on the other. He declared the American Sabbath to be “more important than the American Constitution,” because its observance “gives opportunity for moral culture and so saves the country from drifting into despotism,” and that therefore it is “the very tap-root” of the Constitution. He endeavored to distinguish between the religious and the civil Sabbath by saying that these two elements in the Sabbath are just as distinct as his two arms. “The right arm promotes the religious Sabbath, and the left arm preserves the civil Sabbath.” “The church forbids Sunday work because it is irreligious, while the State forbids it because it is unhealthy.” “The church forbids it as a sin against God; the State forbids it as a crime against man.”
But it never can be shown that anybody’s working on Sunday is a crime against man. How would it be possible to make it appear that the man who works at any proper calling, at any time, commits a crime against anybody in so doing?
He attempted to make crime appear in it by saying that employes are compelled to work on Sunday “which is unhealthy, not only to the body, but to the mind and morals;” that they are kept in a perpetual trend-mill of toil; that employes have no power to choose, but are compelled against their wills to work; and consequently Sunday work is a crime against man, and therefore the State must forbid it as such.
Admitting all this there is a fallacy in the demand for a Sunday law that utterly destroys all of the virtue that they try to put into it. It is those that compel others to work, who, according to this argument, commit the crime. It is not those who voluntarily choose to work at their own calling, those who are free, and not subject to anybody in the way of employment. But instead of asking for a law that would prohibit any employer from compelling any employe to work on Sunday, they demand that a law shall be enacted prohibiting everybody from doing any work whatever except works of religion, necessity, mercy, etc. This shows that it is the observance of the day itself that is aimed at by those who demand the Sunday law and not protection for those who they say are opposed.
The Doctor admitted that the employe is at liberty to obey the dictates of his conscience and refuse to work if he considered each to be wrong on Sunday; but at the same time he declaimed against it that it was only a “liberty to go out amongst the great army of the unemployed and take his chances there,” and that without a Sunday law the Nation was thus “debauching the consciences of the two million employes who were compelled to work.” But all this argument is utterly sophisticated, as is proved by his own words in his speech in the evening of that same day. He said he did “not defend any man for working against his conscience,” that a man “ought to be willing to be a martyr for his conscientious conviction, yet there was no great fear of martyrdom in this,” because he had searched the world over and had “never found one person who had lost anything financially by refusing to work on Sunday.” He said that in the States and Territories of this land he had “found hundreds of instances where men had been promoted instead of discharged for refusing to work on Sunday.” To illustrate this, and more forcibly to impress his point, he related a story of Stephen Girard, who discharged a man for not working on Sunday, then recommended him for the position of cashier in a new bank that was just being organized because, he said, “that man had too much conscience to work on Sunday, and that’s the kind of a man whom it is safe to trust to handle other people’s money.” This argument is also made in Mr. Crafts’s book, “Sabbath for Man,” page 428, from which we quote a passage. He says:—
“Among other printed questions to which I have collected numerous answers was this one: Do you know of any instance when a Christian’s refusal to do work on Sunday trading has resulted in his financial ruin? Of the two hundred answers from persons representing all trades and professions not one is affirmative. A western editor thinks that a Christian whose refusal to do Sunday work had resulted in his financial ruin would be as great a curiosity as ‘the missing link.’ There are instances in which men have lost places by refusing to do Sunday work, but they usually found other places as good or better. With some  there has been ‘temporary self-sacrifice, but ultimate betterment.’ Some avocations have been deserted by Christian men, but they have found others not less representative…. I never knew a case nor can I find one in any quarter of the globe where even beggary, much less starvation, has resulted from courageous and conscientious fidelity to the Sabbath. Even in India, where most of the business community is heathen, missionaries testify that loyalty to the Sabbath in the end brings no worldly loss. On the other hand, incidents have come to me by the score, of those who have gained even in their worldly prosperity by daring to do right in the matter of Sunday work.”
He has filled more than six pages of his book with evidence to the same effect. All of which we are ready to admit is true, because men always respect conscientious conviction; men respect the man who has principle, and who, from principle refuses to compromise for any temporal gain. But instead of cultivating principle in men; instead of training them in the integrity of conscientious conviction, so that as men of principle, they will stand by their convictions and refuse to work, Mr. Crafts and his fellow-workers for Sunday laws go about to have the law take the place of conscience, and rob men, not only of the respect of their employers, but of their own self-respect. Instead of cultivating in all, the manliness of men, the Sunday-law workers go about to establish a system in which all must be nursed and coddled as though they were a mass of simpletons who must be cared for by the State.
The more this system that is represented in the Sunday-law movement is examined in the light of righteousness and reason, the more plainly it appears that it is the wickedest thing that ever struck the earth since the day when the Mystery of Iniquity first appeared, and nothing better than the arguments of those who advocate the measure is ever needed to demonstrate that this is true.
A. T. J.