The New Zealand Evangelist
Sunday Sickness. An Allegory
Sunday Sickness. An Allegory.
Dr. Easy describes a disease which is represented by the patients as a natural, but he thinks it bears the symptoms of a moral disorder: it was too prevalent in his neighbourhood, and no account of it could be found in any of the popular books of Medicine. He says, the disease to which I refer is evidently of the intermitting kind, and in all cases has attacked the patient by violent paroxysms, which return every seventh day. It may be thought to savour of superstition to mention it; yet it is a fact, and therefore must not be passed over, that those paroxysms return only on the Lord's Day, on which account it is called the “Sunday Sickness,” from its periodical attacks. Some have thought it to be a singular kind of ague, especially as it is attended with a degree of coldness, though I do not perceive the symptoms of shivering which are usual in that complaint.
I have observed the paroxysms commence at different periods, but generally in the morning of the Lord's Day, and in many cases it seizes the patient before he has left his bed, and makes him indisposed to rise till a later hour than usual. A coldness has been observed about the region of the heart, and a dullness in the head, which stupifies the brain, not unusually succeeds; this is followed by yawning and a sort of lethargy. The patient is sometimes deprived of the use of his limbs, especially his legs and feet, so that he finds himself indisposed to walk to the house of God; some have indeed gone up to the solemn assembly, but they generally entered it later than their neighbours, and even there the paroxysms have seized them, and the symptoms of yawning and lethargy have been so violent, that they have fallen into a dead sleep, even when the preacher has been delivering the most solemn truths in the most animated manner; and others have been known to sit very contentedly in any other place (more congenial to their taste) for several hours together. This disease seems to stupefy those who are subject to it; so that, however they may appear to suffer, they are seldom (if ever) heard to complain. I have heard others, under other diseases, mourn on account of their confinement from public worship, but the victims of this extraordinary disorder were never beard to exclaim, “My soul longeth, yea, even faintcth, for the page 132 courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God.
I was at first greatly surprised, after hearing that a patient could not get to public worship, to find him the next day as active as if he had not been subject to any kind of indisposition; but I have since found it very common, after the paroxysms are removed, for the patient to appear perfectly well till the approach of the next Sabbath—though most of the faculty agree that there is a low fe verish heat to be perceived during the days of interval, called the worldly fever. There seems also to be a loss of appetite for savoury food, and the entire want of relish for the bread of Life, which it is thought might be of service to remove their disease; as a very skilful and experienced person has asserted, that it was more to him than his necessary food; and another has recommended it as peculiarly agreeable to the taste “sweeter than honey or the honeycomb.” One circumstance I had almost forgotten, namely, that those who had not laid aside all attention to the forms of religion, if they are subject to the “Sunday Sickness,” generally feel somewhat chill and listless about the hours of secret retirement and family devotion.
Perhaps the reader is afflicted with the “Sunday sickness,” which the ordinances of God are designed to cure: he is advised to attend to it in time, lest (as in so many instances) it should prove to be unto death. Reflection is the best remedy, in an early stage,far detecting the disease; the patient is,therefore, recommended to consider the danger and value of his soul, and that if he dies impenitent he will be lost for ever; he should also remember that he is accountable to God for the neglect of the means of grace. This may lead to his conviction, or an experimental knowledge of his ruined state as a condemned sinner—which is the first, most certain, and blessed symptom of spiritual recovery; and when accompanied with true repentance, a teachable disposition, and a holy diligence in the use of all the Divinely appointed ordinances, will eventually terminate in his conversion, or the restoration of Divine life to him who before was spiritually dead. This will be accompanied with other evidences of his recovery: his paroxysms will seldom (if ever) seize him again on the Lord's day: his heart being warmed by the love of God, he will not be subject to the coldness be once felt; he will no longer fancy himself obliged to keep his bed or the house on the Sabbath day; but, finding that he has fully recovered the use of his limbs and faculties, he will be glad when he is invited to go into the house of the Lord, to hear the joyful sound, and when there be will no longer insult God, or his minister and people, by the symptoms of that sleep which is unto death; but having felt by happy experience the mercy of Him who says, “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” he will strive to improve his exhortation, “Behold thou art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”—Visitor.