IT is often asserted, in defense of Sunday “laws,” that in this country Christianity is a part of the common law. What Christianity? let us ask. Is it that Christianity which says that he who hates his brother without a cause is guilty of murder, and that the lustful look is adultery? Matthew 5:21, 22, 27, 28. Are these precepts a part of the common law? Is it that Christianity which commands us to love our enemies and forgive them as often as they injure us? Are these common law precepts? Is it that Christianity which directs us to love God supremely, and our neighbors as ourselves? Can we be haled before the courts of common law for failure to do either of these things? Is this the Christianity that is a “part of the common law”? If not, what Christiantiy is it? If it be not this Christianity, it is not Christ’s Christianity; and if it be not Christ’s Christianity, it is not Christianity at all, but a counterfeit and a fraud.
Christianity is not a part of the common law of this land, nor of any other land in this fallen earth. Nor is it a part of any human law whatever. It is as far above human law as God is above man. Only a low and altogether earthly conception of Christianity could think of it as on a level with the “common law.” And this is the conception of it from which Sunday “laws” derive their force.
Christianity is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus,” which sets the sinner free from the “law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2. As well might legislators claim to have at their command all the agencies of divinity by which Christianity operates, as to claim that it is a part of the common law of the land.