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    Petitions from National Bodies


    1. Individual signatures 407
    2. Representative signatures by indorsements of bodies and meetings 14,174,337
    Total 14,474,744

    “Analysis of the latter:BSRB 44.1

    “First indorsement is that of the American Sabbath Union, which was officially constituted by official action of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Home Missionary Society of the Baptist Church, the General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (North and South), and the Synod of the Reformed Church, five denominations whose membership together is 5,977,693. Of the membership of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, the indorsement of whose international convention stands second, at least 20,000 citizens of the United States. Of the Knights of Labor, the indorsement of whose international convention stands third, at least 219,000 citizens of the United States. The Presbyterian General Assembly, North, whose action stands next, had at the time of the indorsement 722,071 members. The convention of Christian Workers, whose indorsement is next, had 450 present when the unanimous vote of indorsement was taken. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, which comes next, had 185,521 at the time of the vote. The Roman Catholics, for whom Cardinal Gibbons speaks, number 7,200,000.BSRB 44.2

    Does the reader see the point? It is simply this: In order to swell the list of petitioners, the indorsements secured in the various States were first presented separately, and then presented again in bulk. If this was an honest way of doing, we cannot discern it. They have never claimed more than about 14,000,000 signatures (actual and by proxy) to their petitions, yet there were petitions presented from twenty-one States and two Territories, besides the grand total of 14,174,744, presented by Mr. Blair. But this is only a beginning.BSRB 44.3

    Take the closing sentence of Mr. Blair’s remarks. He said: “The Roman Catholics, for whom Cardinal Gibbons speaks, number 7,200,000.” This statement has been often repeated. The January (1889) number of Our Day said editorially: “Cardinal Gibbons also sent him [Mr. Crafts] an official letter, indorsing the petition on behalf of the Plenary Council of the Roman Catholic Church.” This would convey the idea that Cardinal Gibbons had been formally empowered to act in this matter for the entire Roman Catholic Church, children and all. Yet in the very same number of Our Day we find the following:—BSRB 44.4

    “Cardinal Gibbons has indorsed the petition for a National Sunday-Rest law in the following letter, which is here for the first time published in full:—BSRB 45.1

    December 4, 1888.
    BSRB 45.2

    “REV. W. F. CRAFTS-Rev. Dear Sir: I have to acknowledge your esteemed favor of the 1st inst., in reference to the proposed passage of a law by Congress ‘against Sunday work in the Government’s mail and military service,’ etc.BSRB 45.3

    “I am most happy to add my name to those of the millions of others who are laudably contending against the violation of the Christian Sabbath by unnecessary labor, and who are endeavoring to promote its decent and proper observance by legitimate legislation. As the late Plenary Council of Baltimore has declared, the due observance of the Lord’s day contributes immeasurably to the restriction of vice and immortality, and to the promotion of peace, religion, and social order, and cannot fail to draw upon the nation the blessing and protection of an overruling Providence. If benevolence to the beasts of burden directed one day’s rest in every week under the old law, surely humanity to man ought to dictate the same measure of rest under the new law.BSRB 45.4

    “Your obedient servant in Christ,
    Archbishop of Baltimore.”
    BSRB 46.1

    That is all there is to it. Cardinal Gibbons never even signed his own name to the petition, and in his letter indorsing it he simply said, “I am most happy to add my name,” etc. There is not the slightest intimation that he was acting for the great body of Catholics. Thus one name was multiplied by 7,300,000, and the number of petitioners augmented by that number. Will our friends please tell us how much difference, morally, there is between that and raising the figures on a draft?BSRB 46.2

    But it is claimed that Cardinal Gibbons, being the head of the Catholic Church in America, is authorized to represent them, and that he always acts officially. To this we have to say (1) that when the “American Sabbath Union” says that, it recognizes the Papacy, and admits the whole principle of Popery to be correct according to its standard; and why shouldn’t it? How much worse is it for Cardinal Gibbons to stand for 7,200,000 people who have never wagged their tongues in the matter, than for a few members of a Protestant church to represent the entire membership, most of whom may be ignorant of the proceeding? The difference between the two acts is simply the difference between forging a note for one hundred dollars and forging one for five hundred. And (2) if it is impossible for Cardinal Gibbons to act as an individual, if he must necessarily act only in an official capacity, if he cannot by any possibility separate any act of his from his office, how can they make it appear that they can take Sunday, which is a creature of the church, and wholly a church institution, and separate it from its religious character, enforcing only the civil aspect of the day? Truly “the legs of the lame are not equal.”BSRB 46.3

    Suppose, however, that Cardinal Gibbons had been authorized to speak for the entire Roman Catholic Church; in accordance with what law did they represent 7,200,000 Catholics as petitioners on a petition which certifies that each one is twenty-one years of age, or more? Everybody knows that there are not so many adult Catholics in the United States. Indeed, the last census does not give so many communicants to the Catholic Church, all told. So we tally another fraud. But this is not all.BSRB 47.1

    Not content with presenting petitions from the churches, temperance unions, labor organizations, etc., separately, and then putting them all in together, they presented many of them the third time. Thus: The entire membership of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church (North and South), and the Reformed Church, was represented on the petitions, every member thus being certified to be twenty-one years of age, or more. Then they presented the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. But the very name indicates that the most, if not all, of these women are members of some church. The greater part of them are doubtless members of the churches which have just been named. So they were represented on the petitions a third time. The same is true, in part, of the Knights of Labor and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. Many of them are church members, the former organization especially being very largely Catholic. So they had a double representation. Surely this is enough; but it is not all.BSRB 47.2

    Immediately following the record of the grand total of petitions which Mr. Blair presented, and its reference to the proper committee, the Record prints this:—BSRB 48.1

    “MR. BLAIR. I have here a petition of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union of New Jersey, with 6,000 members, of Indiana 2,500 members, of Massachusetts 6,000, Delaware 800, of Illinois 9,000, of Iowa 6,000, of Pennsylvania 6,000, of Dakota, 1,000, and the National nearly 200,000, praying Congress to instruct the Postmaster-General to make no further contracts which shall include the carriage of the mail on the first day of the week, and to provide that hereafter no mail matter shall be collected or distributed on that day, and also to forbid inter-State commerce on the first day of the week, by railroad trains, and to forbid military drills, musters, and parades of United States cadets, soldiers, and marines, on the first day of the week, in times of peace, as interfering not only with the soldier’s right to the day of rest, but also with his rights of conscience. I move that the petition be referred to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 48.2

    “The motion was agreed to.BSRB 48.3

    “MR. BLAIR. I present also the petition of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, Department of Sabbath Observance, the Illinois Sabbath Association, the American Sabbath Union, etc., 492 signatures. This is, however, the petition of that body in New Hampshire. I move its reference to the Committee on Education and Labor.BSRB 48.4

    “The motion was agreed to.”BSRB 49.1

    Just try to comprehend the thing. The Woman’s Christian Temperance Unions in the various States were at least partially represented along with the churches and other organizations. Then in Mr. Blair’s summary they were named as a body, numbering 185,521, and were also included in the churches. Then again petitions were presented from the Woman’s Christian Temperance Unions in eight States, and then the National Union was named again, with nearly 200,000 members; and after having counted all the women of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union in the Union States, three, and some of them four times, some of them were counted again, to make good measure. Truly that is making the most of women. We can’t imagine why they stopped presenting petitions. By the method which the adopted they might just as well as not have had fifty millions of signatures to their petition, and overwhelmed Congress then and there.BSRB 49.2

    Well, here we rest the case, to await new developments. We have presented simple facts without color, or attempt at rhetorical flourish. The reader can decide for himself by what name he will call such proceedings. We have classed them under the head of “pious frauds,” after Killen, who says in his “Ancient Church:”—BSRB 49.3

    “The code of heathen morality supplied a ready apology for falsehood, and its accommodating principles soon found too much encouragement within the pale of the church. Hence the pious frauds which were now perpetrated. Various works made their appearance with the sane of some apostolic man appended to them, their fabrications thus hoping to give currency to opinions or to practices which might otherwise have encountered much opposition.”—Period 2, sec. 2, chap. 5, paragraph 7.BSRB 49.4

    Mosheim also describes a very close parallel to what we have been considering. He says:—BSRB 50.1

    “By some of the weaker brethren, in their anxiety to assist God with all their might [in the propagation of the Christian faith], such dishonest artifices were occasionally resorted to as could not, under any circumstances, admit of excuse, and were utterly unworthy of that sacred cause which they were unquestionably intended to support.”—Commentaries, cent. 2, sec. 7.BSRB 50.2

    It may be that they thought that their cause was sacred; but it must be admitted that truth never compels one to tell a falsehood in its behalf. Only error is supported by error. The fact that such dishonest artifices were resorted to, is evidence that the mystery of iniquity was already working, that the fine gold was fast becoming dimmed, and that the purity of doctrine was lost. The church was far advanced in its apostasy, when it could resort to lying in defense of what it called the truth. And if, in the development of the union of Church and State in the early centuries, deception was used, what wonder that a similar course is pursued in attempting to form another such union in the nineteenth century?BSRB 50.3

    We have not called attention to these things thus minutely for the sake of exhibiting the Sunday law agitators in a bad light. We are perfectly willing to grant that they are so blinded as not to realize, to the full extent at any rate, the exceeding crookedness of their actions. We do not ask the reader to judge them, but only to judge of the cause which demands, or even admits, such a course. A genuine coin is not helped by having a counterfeit passed with it; so truth can never be advanced by fraud. Nay, more; just as stealthy actions and a desire to cover up tracks betray the rogue who would creep into your house to spoil your goods, so do these crooked actions, and attempts to throw people off the track of the real purpose, betray the legislation which will creep into the houses of American citizens to rob them of their dearest treasure-their liberty. Will they not be warned?BSRB 50.4

    Finally, if anyone whose serious attention is now called to this matter for the first time shall be led to question whether not only the legislation, but also the day, which requires such unrighteous methods to support it, is not a base counterfeit and a fraud, he will find before him a field worth of careful exploration. And may the Spirit of truth guide him in his research, and fill him with the love of the truth, for the sake of Him who is not only the Way and the Life, but the Truth. E.J.W.BSRB 51.1

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