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    May 11, 1888

    “Not an ‘Enduring Morality’” The Signs of the Times 14, 18, pp. 278, 279.

    SOMETHING over two years ago the Presbyterian Synod of New York appointed a committee on Religion and Public Education to consider and report upon the following resolution:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.1

    Resolved, That the Presbyterian Synod of the State of New York, believing that the lessons of history and the traditions of American liberty forbid the union of Church and State, discriminates between sectarianism and religion, and affirms that so far as public education is concerned, an enduring morality must derive its sanctions, not from policy, nor from social customs, nor from public opinion, but from those fundamental religious truths which are common to all sects, and distinctive of none,SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.2

    “It therefore urges upon its members the imperative necessity of opposing the attitude of indifference to religion, which appears both in public-school manuals, and in the educational systems of reformatories, and, at the same time, of using every proper influence to secure the incorporation with the course of State and national instruction, of the following religious truths as a groundwork of national morality, viz.:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.3

    “1. The existence of a personal God.SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.4

    “2. The responsibility of every human being to God.SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.5

    “3. The deathlessness of the human soul as made in the image of God, after the power of an endless life.SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.6

    “4. The reality of a future spiritual state beyond the grave in which every soul shall give account of itself before God, and shall reap that which it has sown.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.7

    That is a queer sort of a resolution on religion to be passed by a body of men who pretend to know anything about the religion of Christ. In the four “religious truths” which they set forth as “a groundwork of national morality,” they certainly have made a success of getting those “which are common to all sects and distinctive of none;” for there is not one point in the four that is not accepted by nine-tenths of the people on earth.SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.8

    The Unitarian, the Trinitarian, the Jew, the Mohammedan, and the heathen can all accept every point named. As to “the existence of a personal God,” whether it be Buddha, or Joss, or Allah, or Jehovah, it is all right: all that is necessary is to assent to the existence of a personal God. And there is nobody that believes in any sort of a god at all who does not believe in man’s personal responsibility to him. “The deathlessness of the human soul” has been believed by the great majority of the race, almost ever since Satan told Eve that she should not die. And if a person believes that the soul is deathless, it is not likely to be very hard for him to believe that it is made after the power of an “endless life.” The fourth point is already contained in the second and third, and it is difficult to see what they want to gain by repeating it.SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.9

    But the worst thing about it is that there is not in the whole statement a word or a hint about Christ, no more than if there were no such person in existence. And yet it is proposed by a body of professed Christians, as a statement of “religious truths.” More than this, they make the whole thing but a piece of infidelity by resolving that “an enduring morality must derive its sanctions ... from those fundamental reiglious [sic] truths which are common to all sects and distinctive of none.” The truth is, a person may believe all four of the points named and yet not have a particle of morality in him. All men have made themselves immoral by transgression of the moral law. And no man can attain to morality except by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. “An enduring morality” can only be secured by an abiding faith in Jesus Christ. And when these men make “an enduring morality” to derive its sanctions from these fundamental religious truths “which are common to all sects, and distinctive of none,” they in that set Christ aside and present to men the hope of an enduring morality without him. But such a hope is a spider’s web instead of an anchor of the soul. God forbid that such morality shall ever become national.SITI May 11, 1888, page 278.10

    As was to be expected, the report says:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.1

    “The earliest efforts of your committee were directed towards ascertaining the attitude of the Roman Catholics. Archbishop Corrigan, of New York, and Vicar-Generals Quinn and Preston, besides many leading priests and writers of the Roman Catholic persuasion, were interviewed, with the most satisfactory results.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.2

    Now just see what that committee counts as “a most satisfactory result.” A member of this committee wrote a letter to Archbishop Corrigan, “requesting for publication a distinct statement of the position which the Roman Catholics would be likely to assume.” Vicar-General Preston answered the letter as follows:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.3

    “The Most Rev. Archbishop desires me in his name to say in response to your letter that the Catholic Church has always insisted, and must always insist, upon the teaching of religion with education. For this reason we cannot patronize the public schools, and are forced to establish our own parochial schools. The question, where there are many different denominations, each with its own creed, is a difficult one to settle. We could be satisfied with nothing less than the teaching of our whole faith. Protestant denominations, if they value their own creeds, ought to feel as we do.SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.4

    Denominational schools are, to our mind, the only solution of the question. This plan should satisfy everyone, and would save the State a vast outlay of expense.SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.5

    “The points you propose, while better than none, would never satisfy us, and we think they ought not to satisfy many of the Protestant churches; while the infidels, who are now very numerous, would certainly reject them.SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.6

    “We believe that the country will yet see the ruinous effects of an education from which religion has been excluded. With sincere respects on the part of the Archbishop and myself.SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.7

    “Yours very truthly,
    T. S. PRESTON, V. G.

    Then says the committee:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.8

    “The position of the Roman Catholics upon the question, therefore, is well defined.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.9

    Indeed it is, a good deal better defined than is this Presbyterian spider’s web. That is not a position at all, it is only a floating scheme trying to catch whatever element it can. What an edifying spectacle it is, indeed, to see a committee from the Presbyterian Synod of New York, soliciting the alliance of the Catholic Church, and that not only to meet with a rebuff, but to be snubbed with the reminder that Protestant denominations don’t value their own creeds, and that the “points” proposed “ought not to satisfy many of the Protestant churches!” And then, more than all, to find the committee reporting this as a “most satisfactory” result! Well, well, what will the committee do next? We have not the least doubt, however, that they will do as was suggested by the National Reformers seven years ago—they will “make repeated advances,” and allow themselves to be subjected to repeated “rebuffs,” to get Rome’s “co-operation in any form in which they may be willing to exhibit it.” Because, “it is one of the necessities of the situation.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 279.10


    “‘Connecting Links Between Church and State’” The Signs of the Times 14, 19, p. 296.

    IN the Homiletic Review for December, 1887, Philip Schaff, D. D., LL. D., has an article on “The Connecting Links between Church and State,” and says that there are three of these links, namely, Marriage, Sunday, and the Public School. That is, these are the three links which form the union of Church and State in the United States. From the adoption of the Constitution until lately, it has ever been the just pride of this Nation, that in its form of government, Church and State were wholly separate; and that with religion the State had nothing to do, but left that matter just where it rightly belongs, as solely pertaining to the individual’s personal relations between himself and God. Within the last few years, however, there has been a notable change of view in regard to this subject, in both its phases, especially on the part of prominent theologians and would be church leaders.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.1

    One class of these insist that the propagation of religious opinions is an essential prerogative of civil government, and therefore they wit “undying enthusiasm” are determined to have the National Constitution and laws so altered as to make their views effective. Of this class the leaders of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the National Reform Association are the representatives. The other class insist that in this Government there is already a union of Church and State. Of these Dr. Schaff is the principal one, and this article in the Homiletic Review is his statement of the case. It would be an easy task to show the causes of this change of base on the part of the Church and State religionists, but we shall not enter upon that at this time. We want to notice Dr. Schaff’s “Links.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.2

    He starts out with this proposition:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.3

    “A total separation of Church and State is an impossibility, unless we cease to be a Christian people.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.4

    He offers not a particle of proof in support of this statement, while proof is the very thing that is most needed. He assumes that the people of the United States are Christians, while not one in ten of them are Christians. The Doctor ought to have offered some proof; assumptions are not proof. But, granting his assumption that this is a Christian people, and this a Christian Nation, his proposition is yet defective, because he says that, that being so, “a total separation of Church and State is an impossibility.” However, to call this defective is not enough—it is totally wrong. For the precept of Christ does make a total separation of Church and State. The word of Christ is, “Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” There is no question at all that by the term “Cesar” the Saviour means the State—the civil government. Here duty lies in two directions—to God and to the State. To each is to be rendered that which is his—to God that which is God’s, to the State that which is the State’s. Now the church of Christ is God’s; that which is rendered to the church is rendered to God, because it is “the church of the living God.” The church is not Cesar’s, it is God’s. That which pertains to the church does not and cannot pertain to the State; that which is to be rendered to the church is not to be, and cannot be, rendered to the State; because the church is God’s, and that which is God’s must be rendered to him and not to the State. Therefore it is demonstrated that in these words the Lord Jesus has totally, and forever, separated the church from the State. And therefore Doctor Schaff’s proposition is contrary to the word of Christ.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.5

    Dr. Schaff counts marriage as one of the connecting links that unite Church and State. But this is impossible without making marriage a sacrament of the church and confining it to that, as the Papacy has assumed the power to do, and so to count all marriages as only concubinage which are not solemnized by the church. But this it is impossible to do, because marriage belongs to the race. It no more belongs to Christians than to pagans. It is an original institution, and knows no distinctions. It be- [sic.] belongs equally to atheists, infidels, Jews, heathen, and Christians—all alike, and to one class no more than to another. And as the institution belongs to all classes that can be found in civil government; and as it relates to man in his relations to his fellow-men; its regulation is properly within the province of civil government. As a matter of fact, marriage is no more a “connecting link” between Church and State, than is life, or property, or character.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.6

    But when the Doctor comes to the discussion of his second “connecting link,” the Sunday, he makes a good deal worse mixture than he does with his first. We quote the whole paragraph:—SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.7

    “The Christian Sabbath, or weekly day of rest, is likewise protected by legislation, and justly so, because it has a civil as well as a religious side; it is necessary and profitable for the body as well as for the soul; it is of special benefit to the laboring classes, and guards them against the tyranny of capital. The Sabbath antedates the Mosaic legislation, and is, like the family, founded in the original constitution of man, for whose temporal and spiritual benefit it was institute by the God of creation.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.8

    This paragraph is as full of error as an egg is full of meat. We have not space to fully set forth all the errors that it contains, but we shall call attention to some. The most prominent token of error that it bears is, that it contradicts itself. He first calls it “the Christian Sabbath,” and then says that it is “founded in the original constitution of man.” But Christianity is not an original institution. How, then, can the Sabbath be “founded in the original constitution of man,” and be at the same time the “Christian Sabbath”? It cannot be; it is a moral impossibility. Christian institutions are peculiar to the system of redemption through Christ; but the Sabbath antedates the system of redemption. The Sabbath was instituted before man had sinned, before he needed to be redeemed. It would have been kept by man had he never sinned; but had he never sinned, there never would have been any Christianity, nor any Christian institutions. Consequently it is impossible for the Sabbath to be the “Christian” Sabbath. It is utterly a misnomer to call it the Christian Sabbath. The only names the Author of the Sabbath has ever given it are “the Sabbath of the Lord,” and, “the Lord’s day.”SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.9

    Let these titles, which alone the Author of the Sabbath has given to that institution, be put alongside of his own words in relation to what men owe to civil government, and see how the matters stands. He calls it “the Sabbath of the Lord,” and, “the Lord’s day.” He says, “Render therefore unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” The Sabbath is the Lord’s. It is the Lord’s day. Therefore it is to be rendered to the Lord. The Sabbath pertains not to Cesar. It is not Cesar’s in any sense. It is the Lord’s. Therefore, the Sabbath being the Lord’s and not Cesar’s, it is proved by the words of Christ that the civil government has nothing at all to do with it. This annihilates at once the Doctor’s idea that the Sabbath “has a civil as well as a religious side.” The word of God says that the Sabbath is the Lord’s, and Christ distinctly separates that which is the Lord’s from that which is Cesar’s; therefore, when Dr. Schaff or anybody else attemps [sic.] to pass off the Sabbath as both civil and religous [sic.], as pertaining both to God and to Cesar, he confounds that which Christ has clearly distinguished, and virtually charges Christ with loose thinking.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.10

    The commandment of God does not say, Remember the Sabbath day to keep it civilly; it does say, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” The Sabbath is wholly a religious institution; man’s observance of it pertains wholly to the Lord. Therefore when the State undertakes to enforce the observance of the Sabbath, it thereby demands that to Cesar shall be rendered that which is God’s; and in that it usurps the place of God. That which is the Lord’s we are to render to him direct, without any meddling mediumship of Cesar. When we have rendered to Cesar that which is his, we have rendered to him all his due, and when he has so received his due, he has no right to demand any more. And it is none of his business how men render to God that which is God’s, or whether they render it at all or not.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.11

    All this is written in regard to the State and the Sabbath of the Lord. It is Sunday, however, that Dr. Schaff presents as the second connecting link which forms the union of Church and State in our country. And, indeed, this must of his article is true. Sunday is the link which connects Church and State, whenever the State has anything to do with it in the way of legislation. But whereas the Sabbath of the Lord belongs to God, though not to Cesar, the Sunday sabbath belongs neither to God nor to Cesar. There is no command of God for it. It is wholly an institution of the Church. The church instituted the practice of Sunday observance; the first Sunday law that ever was issued—that by Constantine—was at the request of the church, and was expressly to favor the church; and that has been the only purpose of Sunday legislation from that time to this. And that is why it is that Sunday is in truth the “connecting link” that forms the union between the Church and the State. But the more permanently that link is severed amongst all people, the better it is for both Church and State. There has never yet been a union of Church and State that has not tended only the more to corrupt both. And it never can be otherwise. The church of Christ is espoused “as a chaste virgin to Christ,” and she cannot join herself to any other, without forsaking her Lord and making herself an adulteress.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.12

    Let no one blame us for saying that there is no command of God for keeping Sunday, and that it is an institution of the church. We make the statements just as we find them, and we find them made by what is certainly high authority. The American Tract Society issues a $500 prize-essay on the subject, which says of the “Christian Sabbath,” that there is “complete silence of the New Testament so far as any explicit command” “or definite rules for its observance are concerned.” And the American Sunday-school Union issues a $1,000 prize-essay on the same subject, which says: “Up to the time of Christ’s death there had been no change in the day.” And “so far as the record shows, they [the apostles] did not give any explicit command enjoining the abandonment of the seventh-day Sabbath, and its observance on the first day of the week.” And this $500 essay also fixes upon Sunday as a sacred day only by “a consensus of the Christian church.” Now, according to the word of Christ, which we are here discussing, men owe duty in but two directions—to God and to Cesar. But Sunday observance belongs to neither of these, but to “the church.” Therefore as Sunday observance belongs neither to God nor to civil government, there is no power in existence that can of right command it; and there is no obligation resting upon any soul to observe it.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.13

    Dr. Schaff’s third “connecting link,” the public school, we must defer till next week.SITI May 11, 1888, page 296.14


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