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wide range, and involved questions of Biblical interpretation, the views of the Christian Fathers, Protestant reformers, eminent divines, champions of freedom, and the guaranties of our Federal and State constitutions, respecting religious liberty.
In these conflicts, the liberal denominations, and especially the Unitarian, have taken not only a deep interest, but an active part. Rev. Dr. Farley, in Brooklyn; Drs. Furness and Williamson, in Philadelphia; Rev. Messrs. Parker, Hale, and Hepworth, in Boston; M. D. Conway and Thomas Vickers, in Cincinnati; Horatio Stebbins, in Portland and San Francisco; J. F.W.Ware, in Baltimore; and others in other places, -have "fought a good fight” against sabbatarian superstition and restriction. Conserving and emphasizing the needed physical rest, reverent public worship, and sweet home influences of the day, they have strenuously contended against the common errors of confounding the Christian Sunday with the Jewish sabbath, claiming for its observance a special divine command, and burdening it with those Puritanic or Pharisaic restraints which are so foreign to the free and joyous spirit of Christianity.
In opposition to them, strong and determined, has been almost the entire body of the clergy called "evangelical : and yet, such is the power of truth, and such the general intelligence and freedom of the age, that the liberal side has, in almost every instance, carried the day; and, where it has not as yet, influences are at work which must, ere long, give it a complete triumph.
Our clergy in England have taken the same stand on this question with John Stuart Mill, Sir John Bowring, and other noble champions of popular reform and religious liberty. And a few distinguished names among the “evangelical ” clergy, in that country as well as this, have, at no small cost to themselves, taken ground substantially with the liberal clergy, in opposing sabbatarian views and Sunday-law enactments, Archbishop Whately, Bishop Colenso, Dr. Hessey, Professor Powell, F. W. Robertson, and Dr. McLeod; and, in this country, Dr. Scott, of New York; Dr. Greenleaf, of Cin
VOL. LXXXIII. - NEW SERIES, VOL. IV. NO. II.
cinnati; H. W. Beecher; and, it may be, a few others. As a general rule, however, the advocates of a more rational and Christian view and use of Sunday have little to expect but the most strenuous opposition from the clergy of the prevailing sects. They are, probably, for the most part, in the dark themselves on the subject; having never examined it upon its merits, but accepted as unquestionably true the views of the Westminster Catechism, Edwards's “Sabbath Manual," and the publications of the American Tract Society, in which even social visiting and calling on Sunday is declared to be not only sinful, but "criminal”! Those who have given the question candid consideration, and have come to reject the common," orthodox” view, are aware that it is perilous for them to make known their change of mind; for it is not many years since an example was made of a young clergyman of Brooklyn, N.Y., who had publicly expressed anti-sabbatarian views, and was “ disfellowshipped” therefor by his brethren in the ministry, and excommunicated from Dr. Cheever's church, of which he was a member.
"Ignorance is the mother of superstition," all the world over; and in nothing is this more clearly evidenced than with respect to Sunday observance. Selden, and others of the most intelligent members of the Westminster Assembly, opposed, even to the point of ridicule, what Whately justly terms the “unintelligible dogmas " adopted by that body upon this subject; and John Milton, Secretary of the Puritan Commonwealth, has left on record, in his “ Treatise on Christian Doctrine,"* a most complete and irrefutable argument against them. But the ignorant and prejudiced carried their point by force of numbers; and the absurd views which one of the most rigid divines of that century, Nicholas Bound, had promulgated, were adopted, indorsed by the “Rump Parliament,” and, soon after, by the “ Cambridge Synod” of Divines in New England, and enforced by the General Court of Massachusetts Colony. Thus a doctrine in direct opposition to the teachings of the New Testament and the practice of the
* Book ü. chap. 7.
primitive Church, - which, according to Eusebius, “regarded not the observance of the sabbath,”* -- was imposed, not only upon church members, but, through the interference of the state, upon all its citizens. The earnest protest of Roger Williams against this enforcement of Sunday observance by law, was the very head and front of his offending, for which he was driven out of the colony; and their vigorous resistance to the Sunday-sabbath superstition was the chief count in the indictment of the five Quakers who were hanged on Boston Common.
The Sunday-sabbatarian doctrine, however, did not originate with the Puritans, though they are popularly supposed to have been its authors. It grew up among the other corruptions of the Middle Age and of the Roman Church. Any one who will take pains to search out the canons and decrees of the Catholic councils, from the fourth century to the fourteenth, will see how the rigidness of Sunday observance was gradually increased, until it was declared, at the Council of Perth, Scotland, — held, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, by Cardinal Salerno, legate of Pope Innocent III., that Sunday should be strictly observed, as the sabbath, from noon on Saturday to sunrise on Monday; and, at the Council of Paris, held in that city, ten years after, by Cardinal Courçon, that, “ though all work is sinful on Sunday, recreation is more sinful”!+ Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic schoolmen of this thirteenth century were the original inventors of that ingenious quibble adopted by Bound and the Puritans, that the fourth commandment is only abrogated for Christians so far as the particular day of the week is concerned; but, as to the observance of one day in seven as a sabbath, it is of perpetual obligation. I The great reformers of the sixteenth century repudiated this, with other Popish corruptions of Christianity; and no one of them more expressly than Calvin, who characterizes the Roman priests as “ false prophets, who, in past ages, have infected the people with a Jew
† Binius's Councils.
* Eccl. Hist., lib. i. cap. 4.
ish notion, affirming that nothing but the ceremonial part of this commandment (which, according to them, is the appointment of the seventh day) has been abrogated, but that the moral part of it (that is, the observance of one day in seven) still remains. But this is only changing the day in contempt of the Jews, while they retain the same opinion of the holiness of a day."* But the Puritans, with a peculiar perversity, rejected Calvin's views of the sabbath, in which his fellowreformers generally agreed with him, and which are clearly right; and adopted his views of election and decrees, in which the others mostly differed from him, and which are as clearly wrong. To use the forcible language of Macaulay, "In defiance of the express and reiterated declarations of Luther and Calvin, they turned the weekly festival ... into a Jewish sabbath. Morals and manners were subjected to a code resembling that of the synagogue, when the synagogue was in its worst state. The dress, the deportment, the language, the studies, the amusements, of the rigid sect, were regulated on principles resembling those of the Pharisees, who ... taunted the Redeemer as a sabbath-breaker and a wine-bibber." +
Their views have been received by hundreds of thousands, in both countries, on the authority of their creeds and catechisms, without question or investigation. But Unitarians have always refused to be bound by any creed, and have arrived at an intelligent faith by following the apostolic injunction," Prove all things: hold fast that which is good.” Studying the history of the sabbath, as given in the Old-Testament records, they find that, instead of its being coeval with the Creation, as the Sunday-sabbatarians claim, there is not only no injunction, but no allusion even, to its observance, until the time of Moses, two thousand five hundred years after the Creation, according to the common reckoning; and that then, as John Locke says, it was “not given to man. kind" at large, but to the Jews only, - and to them only for some fifteen hundred years, when, as Dr. Furness states it,
* Institutes, book ii. chap. 8.
† Hist. of Eng., vol. i. chap. 1.
" the Jewish ritual, with the sabbath, which was a part of it, went out, at the coming-in of Christianity." * The intelligent Unitarian understands, that Gentiles were never under obligation to observe the fourth commandment. As Dr. Walker, in his lectures to the theological students at Harvard, expresses it, “It was an institution exclusively for the Hebrews." Furthermore, it is found that the sabbath, as origin. ally instituted, was expressly designated as the seventh day of the week, and that its appointment was not exclusively or specially for religious worship or pious meditation, but" for recreation and enjoyment;" so that, as Dr. Palfrey says," he who should have proved the perpetual obligation of the Jewish sabbath would have proved simply that we are bound to keep every Saturday -- as a holiday." +
Again, we infer, with Dr. Priestley, that the sabbath is “ not obligatory" on us, from the fact, that " it is not included in those Jewish observances which the apostles recommended to the Gentile Christians;”as also from the declaration of Jesus, Matt. xii. 8, where Professor Norton agrees with Dr. Priestley and others in explaining the phrase
son of man" to mean “any man,” or all men. With regard to the claim of “a transfer of the obligation of the seventh to the first day, or a new institution for the first of the same nature," we come, with William J. Fox, to the conclusion, that it is “altogether fictitious;” and ask, with him, “Is it not pernicious, that something like a pious fraud should be practised in the use continually made of the fourth commandment? Oh, these are the things which, when the young and ignorant begin to reflect, disgust them with religion, and make them hastily conclude, that every thing so called is of the same character!” Dr. Farley, on the same point avers :
“I repudiate entirely the notion, that, by any transfer, the observance of the first day, as specially holy, is binding on Christians. . .
* Sermon on the Sabbath, Jan. 7, 1866.
$ Com. on Decalogue.