IN discussing the Sunday newspaper, Rev. George P. Hays, D. D., reveals the purpose of all Sunday laws. Dr. Hays says:—
Now, the Sabbath was given to them for religious thoughts and spiritual improvement. When that Sabbath is taken for secular reading and business affairs, it is as distinctly perverted as if it were used for hoeing corn or spading the garden. These Christians go to church for the avowed purpose of hearing God’s ambassador discuss moral and spiritual subjects for their religious improvement. What chance, however, can a minister have to reach a soul which has rusted itself all over with the affairs of this world, by the Sabbath morning’s reading of the fluctuation of stocks, murders and robberies of the past night, and the schemes of politicians? Every thoughtful minister would very much prefer, so far as his opportunities of influencing his congregation are concerned, that his people should come to church from the hay-field or the work-shop rather than from the Sunday newspaper. They would not be so likely to have their minds filled with their physical labor to the exclusion of the sermon, as they are to have the sermon expelled in the sensationalism of the Sabbath journal.
That shows plainly enough that all Sunday laws are directly in the interests of the church. The only earthly object in stopping men from labor is that they may go to church, and then when they read the Sunday newspapers that must be stopped also in order that they may go to church with minds fitted to receive the sermon. If these Sunday-law advocates be allowed to go so far as that, and many choose to read books or something else on Sunday, the next thing in order will be a law prohibiting them from engaging in any kind of reading at all on Sunday, except such as the American Sabbath Union demand, that is, only the reading of the word of God.
But suppose the reading of the word of God should keep them from church, and especially should lead them to think differently from what the minister preaches, which in many things they will have to do in order to be right; and suppose they should thus be led to choose not to go to church; then will follow a law prohibiting even the reading of the Bible, and if after all that men still refuse to go to church and to be benefited by the sermon, the next thing will be a law to compel them to go to church.
And all this is out of the abundance of the sympathy of the preachers for the workingman, and their anxiety that he shall enjoy physical rest and the benefit of a civil Sabbath! It is the same kind of sympathy that in the Middle Ages tormented men to death to death to save them from hell. The spirit of the Inquisition is inseparable from Sunday laws.
A. T. J.