“The Modern Inquisition”American Sentinel 9, 47, pp. 369, 370.

November 29, 1894

NOT a week passes but brings new evidence that the National Reform Association, the American Sabbath Union, and its auxiliary State organizations, such as the Pennsylvania Sabbath Association, etc., are modeled after the papacy of the 16th century, both in spirit and methods.

At a meeting held at Williamsport, Pa., October 30th and 31st, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Sabbath Association, to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Pennsylvania Sunday law of 1794, the secretary of the association distributed a circular, headed, “Suggestions to Sabbath Defense Committees.” These “Sabbath Defense Committees” are the “law and order league” arms of the Sabbath Association octopus.

And now, to show how closely these “Sabbath Defense Committees” or law and order leagues are constructed on the model of the papal Inquisition, we print, first, a cardinal-indorsed description of the origin, object and methods of that terrible tribunal. The quotation is from a Roman Catholic work, entitled, “Half Hours With the Servants of God, With a Complete History of the Catholic Church,” “Approved by His eminence Cardinal Gibbons, and Their Eminences Cardinals Manning and Newman, the Most Reverend the Archbishops of New York, Philadelphia, Edinburgh, and Glasgow, and Many Bishops,” and published by Murphy & McCarthy, New York. On pages 58, 59, and 60, of this work, is found the following description of


For many ages after the conversion of Constantine it was easier for the church to repress heresy by invoking the secular arms than by organizing tribunals of her own for the purpose. Reference to ecclesiastical history and the codes of Justinian and Theodosius shows that the emperors generally held as decided views on the pestilent nature of heresy, and the necessity of extirpating it in the germ before it reached its hideous maturity, as the popes themselves. They were willing to repress it; they took from the church the definition of what it was; and they had old established tribunals armed with all the terrors of the law. The bishops, as a rule, had but to notify the appearance of heretics to the lay power, and the latter hastened to make inquiry, and, if necessary, to repress and punish. But in the thirteenth century a new race of temporal rulers arose to power. The Emperor Frederic II. perhaps had no Christian faith at all: John of England meditated, sooner than yield to the pope, openly to apostatize to Islam; and Philip Augustus was refractory towards the church in various ways. The church was as clear as ever upon the necessity of repressing heretics, but the weapon—secular sovereignty—which she had hitherto employed for the purpose, seemed to be breaking in her hands. The time was come when she was to forge a weapon of her own, to establish a tribunal the incorruptness and fidelity of which she could trust; which, in the task of detecting and punishing those who misled their brethren, should employ all the minor forms of penal repression, while still remitting to the secular arm the cases of obstinate and incorrigible offenders. Thus arose the Inquisition.

The duties and powers of inquisitors are minutely laid down in the canon law, it being always assumed that the civil power will favor, or can be compelled to favor, their proceedings. Thus it is laid down, that they “have power to constrain all magistrates, even secular magistrates, to cause the statutes against heretics to be observed,” and to require them to swear to do so; also that they can “compel all magistrates and judges to execute their sentences, and these must obey on pain of excommunication;” also that inquisitors in causes of heresy “can use the secular arm,” and that “all temporal rulers are bound to obey inquisitors in causes of faith.” No such state of thing as that here assumed now exists in any part of Europe, nowhere does the State assist the church in putting down heresy; it is therefore superfluous to describe regulations controlling jurisdiction which has lost the medium in which it could work and live.

And, now, with this authentic description of the Inquisition of medieval days before the reader, we submit an authentic description of an organization made in the image of the original,—the


Suggestions to Sabbath Defense Committees

Civil government is a divine institution. Romans 13:1-7.


1st. Realize that your duties are a department of that work to which your Lord and Master has called you.

2nd. Undertake the work in His name and in the spirit of His gospel.

3rd. When an offense against the law is known to you, in the spirit of Matthew 18:15-20, [171] send one of your members, wisely selected, to talk with him (or her); whose duty it shall be to show the offender wherein he is violating the law and try to persuade him to desist, giving him reasonable time to consider the matter, if necessary. If reformation does not [370] follow this effort within a reasonable time send a committee of two of your members that they may make another and similar effort. Success will often crown the first or second effort, but if not, and you are convinced that other and more effective measures must be resorted to, make formal and definite complaint to the proper civil officer, requesting him to perform his duty as prescribed in the law and in his oath of office.

4th. If the said official refuse or fail to perform his duty, make complaint in writing to his superior in office.

5th. If all this results in disappointment and failure, one of two things remains, either secure the impeachment of the delinquent official and his consequent removal, or institute process in law against the violator, if he still continues the offense; remembering that information must be made within seventy-two hours after the offense is committed.

6th. Through the pastors of the churches secure the appointment of one Lord’s day annually, when a sermon on the question of the Sabbath shall be preached from every pulpit.

7th. See to it that a representative delegation attend every County or State Sabbath Convention.


J. H. LEIPER, Field Secretary.

There are at least seven fundamental points of similarity between the two inquisitions.

1. The papal Inquisition claimed the right to decide who were heretics. This modern Inquisition claims the same right. They declare the church dogma, “the first day is the Sabbath,” to be orthodoxy, and the Bible doctrine, “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” to be heresy. They declare that the old puritanic method of Sunday-keeping is orthodox, and that visiting parks, and excursions into the country, on Sunday are heterodox.

2. The medieval Inquisition believed civil government to be a “divine institution” for the punishing of those whom the church pronounced heretics. This modern Inquisition makes the same claim.

3. The old inquisitors believed that heresy hunting was a department of that work to whom their Lord and Master had called them. These new inquisitors make the same declaration in their “Suggestions to Sabbath Defense Committees.”

4. The old inquisitors imprisoned, tortured, and burned heretics “in his name,” and in their interpretation of “the spirit of his gospel.” These “Sabbath Association” inquisitors are instructed to “undertake the work” of fining and imprisoning little hungry newsboys and old confectionary women who have been pronounced heretics because they follow their ordinary means of obtaining a livelihood on Sunday, “in his name” and in their interpretation of the spirit of his gospel. But this interpretation of the spirit of his gospel, is satanic, and is identical with the interpretation given to the gospel of Christ by James and John when they wanted to punish the heretical Samaritans with fire. Jesus said to the would-be inquisitors of his day, and to their successors, both medieval and modern, “Ye known [sic.] not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” [172]

5. The papal Inquisition was organized for the purpose of enforcing laws against heretics. This Protestant Inquisition was organized for the same purpose. That Sunday laws in general, and the Pennsylvania Sunday law in particular, are laws against heresy is admitted by these modern inquisitors. The following is an extract from a “Sabbath Association” history [173] of the Pennsylvania Sunday law, copies of which were distributed at the Williamsport convention at the same time as the “Suggestions to Sabbath Defense Committees:“—

When our ancestors [Presbyterians] came to Pennsylvania there was then in existence the statute of 29 Charles II., enacted in 1676, “forbidding worldly labor on the Lord’s day or any part thereof.” The provincial assembly of Pennsylvania, at different times, enacted laws to the same effect as that of Charles II. After the Revolution, acts were passed for the observance of the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday, and the one now in force was passed the 22nd of April, 1794.

And now that the reader may see that the statute of 29 Charles II.—which the “Sabbath Association” admits is the grandfather of the Sunday law of 1794,—is a statute against heresy enacted at a time when Church and State were united and when heretics were compelled to attend church, we print the statute below:—

For the better observation and keeping holy the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday; be it enacted by the king’s most excellent majesty, and by and with the advice and consent of the lords, spiritual and temporal, and of the commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, that all the laws enacted and in force concerning the observation of the day, and repairing to the Church thereon, be carefully put in execution, and that all and every person and persons whatsoever shall upon every Lords day apply themselves to the observation of the same, by exercising themselves thereon in the duties of piety and true religion, publicly and privately; and that no tradesman, artificer, workman, laborer, or other person whatsoever, shall do or exercise any worldly labor or business or work of their ordinary callings upon the Lord’s day, or any part thereof (works of necessity and charity only excepted), and that every person being of the age of fourteen years or upwards offending in the premises shall, for every such offense, forfeit the sum of five shillings; and that no person or persons whatsoever shall publicly cry, show forth, or expose for sale any wares, merchandise, fruit, herbs, goods, or chattels whatsoever, upon the Lord’s day, or any part thereof, upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit the same goods so cried or showed forth or exposed for sale. [174]

Thus it is seen that the law of 1794, which is an admitted grandson of the law of Charles II., is a relic of the laws against heresy, enacted by a government in which Church and State were united and where heretics were forced by law to attend the services of the State Church. And these modern inquisitors, in attempting to enforce the Sunday law of 1794, are attempting to enforce a heresy suppressing relic of the State Church period of more than two centuries ago.

6. The medieval Inquisition was made necessary because the civil authorities were more Christian than the ecclesiastics and desired to repeal the laws against heretics or allow them by disuse to become a dead letter. This modern Inquisition is made necessary because the civil authorities are more humane than these inquisitors, and desire to repeal the Sunday law relics of State Church intolerance, or desire to permit them to remain a dead letter.

7. The Inquisition of the 16th century attempted to compel civil magistrates to enforce the laws against heresy, and inflicted the terrible penalty of “excommunication” in case of failure. The Inquisition of the 19th century attempts to compel civil officials to enforce the Sunday law against heretics, and when they refuse the inquisitors are instructed to inflict their penalty, the “impeachment of the delinquent official and his consequent removal.” And if this fails, when the offending official is again a candidate for office, an attempt is made to “knife him at the polls” by the organization of a political church boycott, as was done in the case of Senator Lyon, of Pennsylvania, in the recent campaign which resulted in his election to the office of lieutenant-governor. [175]

Other points of similarity between the papal Inquisition and this modern image of it might be mentioned, but they are not necessary. The one is so complete an image of the other that the Pennsylvania Grit, a paper of large circulation and influence, published at Williamsport, Pa., under liberal Roman Catholic management, contained, in its issue following the Sunday-law convention, the cartoon which appears on our first page. It would be expected that a well-read Roman Catholic would be able to discern in this “gospel of force” movement a counterpart of the Inquisition of medieval days. This the editor does, and labels the movement, represented in the cartoon by its secretary, as the “modern Inquisition.” This is just what it is. It is an image of that engine of tyranny by which the papacy persecuted and put to death thousands of martyrs who refused to worship that beast of cruelty by obeying its laws against heresy, and who chose to obey God rather than man.

And now that this modern Inquisition, made in the image of that cruel power, attempts to compel all men to worship it and its prototype the papacy, by compelling obedience to its laws enforcing the observance of Sunday, the mark of papal power, let all men refuse to submit to its intolerant decrees. Let no man think that in thus refusing he is fighting against either God or good government. For that God who says the “seventh day is the Sabbath,” says also, “If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God;” [176] and of those who refuse to submit and wear the badge of Rome, and who choose to keep the Sabbath of the Lord and suffer as the martyrs of old, he says in the same connection: “Here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” [177] Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.

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