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The Rights of the People

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    In a preceding chapter we have given verbatim the congressional Sunday measure, and have discussed some of its features. As we have seen, it was forced upon Congress by the churches, even under threats. What, then, is the purpose of those who are working so strenuously to have Sunday fixed in the law, whether national law or State law?ROP 224.1

    At Elgin, Illinois, November 8, 1887, there was held a Sunday-law convention, which was but the first in a series of events that ended only with the congressional recognition and establishment of Sunday as the national “Christian sabbath.” The doctrines and acts of this convention are, therefore, proper evidence in this inquiry.ROP 224.2

    This convention was “called by the members of the Elgin Association of Congregational Ministers and Churches, to consider the prevalent desecration of the sabbath, and its remedy.” It was well attended by prominent ministers. In that convention the following resolutions were passed:-ROP 224.3

    Resolved, That we recognize the Sabbath as an institution of God, revealed in nature and the Bible, and of perpetual obligation on all men; and also as a civil and American institution, bound up in vital and historical connection with the origin and foundation of our government, the growth of our polity, and necessary to be maintained in order for the preservation and integrity of our national system, and, therefore, as having a sacred claim on all patriotic American citizens.”ROP 224.4

    “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God” is what the commandment says, and that is whose it is. The word “sabbath” means rest. But the rest belongs to the one who tested Who rested?-God. From what?-From the work of creation. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,” says the commandment. It is religious entirely. There is nothing either American or civil about it. It is the Lord’s, and it is holy. If it is not kept holy, it is not kept at all. And being the Sabbath of the Lord-the Lord’s day-it is to be rendered to the Lord, and not to Cæsar. With its observance or nonobservance civil government can never of right have anything to do. The second resolution was this:-ROP 224.5

    Resolved, That we look with shame and sorrow on the non-observance of the sabbath by many Christian people, in that the custom prevails with them of purchasing sabbath newspapers, engaging in, and patronizing sabbath business and travel, and in many instances giving themselves to pleasure and self-indulgence, setting aside by neglect and indifference the great duties and privileges which God’s day brings them.”ROP 225.1

    That is a fact. They ought to be ashamed of it. But what do they do to rectify the matter? Do they resolve to preach the gospel better, to be more faithful themselves in bringing up the consciences of the people, by showing them their duty in regard to these things?-Oh, no. They resolve to do this:-ROP 225.2

    Resolved, That we give our votes and support to those candidates or political officers who will pledge themselves to vote for the enactment and enforcing of statutes in favor of the civil sabbath.”ROP 225.3

    Yes, they are ashamed and sorry that Christians will not act like Christians, and religiously; therefore they will compel them to act both morally and religiously by enforcing upon them a civil sabbath! But if men will not obey the commandment of God without being compelled to do it by the civil law, then when they obey the civil law, are they obeying God?—They are not. Do not these people, then, in that, put the civil law in the place of the law of God, and the civil government in the place of God?-They assuredly do. And that is always the effect of such attempts as this. It makes utter confusion of all civil and religious relations, and only adds hypocrisy to guilt, and increases unto more ungodliness.ROP 225.4

    There is another important consideration just here. They never intended to secure nor to enforce a civil Sunday, but a religious one wholly; for in all the discussions of that whole convention there was not a word said about a civil sabbath, except in two of these resolutions. In the discussions of the resolutions themselves everything was upon a religious basis. There is no such thing as a civil sabbath, and no man can argue three minutes in favor of Sunday or any other day as a civil sabbath without making it only what it is, religious wholly.ROP 226.1

    In a Sunday-law mass meeting held in Hamilton Hall, Oakland, Cal., in January, 1887, “Rev.” Dr. Briggs, of Napa, Cal., said to the State:-ROP 226.2

    “You relegate moral instruction to the church, and then let all go as they please on Sunday, so that we cannot get at them.”ROP 226.3

    And so they want the State to corral all the people on Sunday, that the preachers may get at them. That is what they wanted in the fourth century. They got it at last. The Sunday railway train must also be stopped, and for the same reason. In the Elgin convention Dr. Everts said:-ROP 226.4

    “The Sunday train is another great evil. They cannot afford to run a train unless they get a great many passengers, and so break up a great many congregations. The Sunday railroad trains are hurrying their passengers fast on to perdition. What an outrage that the railroad, that great civilizer, should destroy the Christian sabbath!”ROP 226.5

    It is not necessary to add any more statements, though whole pages of them might be cited; they are all in the same line. They all plainly show that the secret and real object of the whole Sunday-law movement is to get people to go to church. The Sunday train must be stopped because church members ride on it, and don’t go to church enough. The Sunday paper must be abolished because the people read it instead of going to church, and because those who read it and go to church too are not so well prepared to receive the preaching.ROP 226.6

    It was precisely the same way in the fourth century concerning the Sunday circus and theater. The people, even the church members, would go to these instead of to church; and even if any went to both, it must be confessed that the Roman circus or theater was not a very excellent dish to set down before a man to prepare him for hearing the word of God. The Sunday circus and theater could not afford to keep open unless they could have a great many spectators and so break up a great many congregations. And as they hurried the spectators fast on to perdition, they had to be shut on Sunday, so as to keep “a great ‘many congregations” out of perdition.ROP 227.1

    It is exceedingly difficult to see how a Sunday circus in the fourth century could hurry to perdition any one who did not attend it; or how a Sunday train in the nineteenth century can hurry to perdition any one who does not ride on it. And if any are hurried to perdition by this means, who is to blame: the Sunday train, or the ones who ride on it? Right here lies the secret of the whole evil now, as it did in the fourth century: they blame everybody and everything else, even to inanimate things, for the irreligion, the infidelity, and the sin that lie in their own hearts.ROP 227.2

    Nor are they going to be content with a little. “Rev.” W. F. Crafts, speaking before the United States Senate Committee, in April, 1888, in favor of the national Sunday law, said:-ROP 227.3

    “The law allows the local postmaster, if he chooses (and some of them do choose), to open the mails at the very hour of church, and so make the post office the competitor of the churches.”ROP 227.4

    This same trouble was experienced in the fourth century, also, between the circus or the theater and the church. The church could not stand competition. She would be content with nothing less than a monopoly, and she got it, precisely as these church managers are trying to get it. More than this, they want now, as they did then, the government to secure them in the enjoyment of a perpetual monopoly. At another point in the same speech Mr. Crafts referred to the proposed law as one for “protecting the church services from post office competition.” Having secured the help of the government in confirming their monopolizing ambition, what then?-Nothing short of a complete and perpetual monopoly will satisfy them. This is proved by Dr. McAllister’s words at Lakeside, Ohio, July, 1887, as follows:-ROP 227.5

    “Let a man be what he may,-Jew, seventh-day observer of some other denomination, or those who do not believe in the Christian sabbath,-let the law apply to everyone, that there shall be no public desecration of the first day of the week, the Christian sabbath, the day of rest for the nation. They may hold any other day of the week as sacred, and observe it; but that day which is the one day in seven for the nation at large, let that not be publicly desecrated by anyone, by officer in the government, or by private citizen high or low, rich or poor.”ROP 228.1

    There is much being said of the grasping, grinding greed of monopolies of many kinds; but of all monopolies on earth, the most grinding, the most greedy, the most oppressive, the most conscienceless, is a religious monopoly.ROP 228.2

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