THE Evangelist has the following paragraphs which are suggestive:—
The Independent notes that the Southern Assembly has given one of its committees a task of no small difficulty. It will grows out of the case of Miss Sadie Means. She was an active Christian, who, in seeking employment, finally found it in the telephone exchance, at Columbia, S.C., where she was obliged to work, or at least to be in attendance, for two or three hours on Sunday. The session of her church took notice of the matter, and finding her unwilling to give up the situation, she being obliged to earn her living, asked her to withdraw from the church. This she refused to do, and thereupon the session expelled her, by a majority vote. The case was taken to the Presbytery, and action of the church or session was sustained. Then she appealed to the Synod, where, after a protracted discussion, the decision was reversed. And now the church has just had the case before the Assembly, where the decision of the Synod was reaffirmed, thus fully restoring the young lady to her place in the church. Lest the cause of Sabbath observance should suffer by this constituted to report on the whole subject. Our contemporary says:—
The Committee on the Sabbath had reported a healthier sentiment on Sabbath observance, though there has little gain in the way of Sunday traveling or baseball. It had discussed what is necessary Sunday work, and had admitted that if hotels and street cars are a Sunday necessity, then a Christian may be employed by them and work on Sunday, taking remuneration therefor, and that some might argue that telephone and telegraph companies are equally a necessity. The committee struck out these references to certain possibly necessary work and appointed a committee of seven whose business it shall be to report to the next Assembly stating just exactly what work is necessary on the Sabbath and may be engaged in. Really this is a serious task, and is putting the Assembly into very difficult legislative work. We had supposed that about all that we can do it to lay down the general principle of Sabbath observance and leave the application of it to the individual conscience enlightened by the Spirit of God. It will be a very curious thing for the committee to report that the mail may or may not be carried on Sunday, that a milk cart may or may not travel, or that a church ember may telegraph the news of sickness or death, but cannot be a telegraph clerk. Shall we have, as the old Rabbinists gave us, a law how far one can walk to church on the Sabbath: or shall we be told that one may drive a span of horses on the Holy Day but not drive tandem?
The question suggested by this is, Why not? The Southern Presbyterian Church, in common with most other Protestant denominations, demands that the State shall do this very thing, namely, specify certain things that may not be done on Sunday; and shall the church be less explicit in the rules that are to govern its members than is the State with its citizens? Another incongruity is that in this matter the State is more strict than is the Presbyterian Church. The work that Miss Means does in Columbia on Sunday is under the law of South Carolina illegal, and she might be arrested and fined $1.00 and costs every time she is found engaging in it. It is safe to say too that if she were a Seventh-day Adventist she would be so arrested and fined, and every Presbyterian preacher in the State would protest loudly against any modification of the statute, denounce “Sabbath-breaking” as anarchy, and demand the enforcement of the law. Somehow or other there is still a good deal of inconsistency in the world notwithstanding the blazing light of the Nineteenth century.
The Evangelist’s note contains however much good sense. Such a code of rules as is contemplated would be entirely out of place in the church and is equally out of place in the State. But we doubt if either the Evangelist or the Southern Presbyterians see it in this light.