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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 27

Sunday Freedom Tracts. — The British Clergy versus Dr. Cameron and the Dean of Melbourne on the Sunday Question

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Sunday Freedom Tracts.

The British Clergy versus Dr. Cameron and the Dean of Melbourne on the Sunday Question.

Presuming on the ignorance—or what they believe to be such—of the people of this city and suburbs, Dr. Cameron, the Dean of Melbourne, the religious papers and the Sabbatarians generally, are putting forth a number of statements with respect to Sunday observance, which have no foundation in Scripture or in reason; and are reproducing numerous sophisms and fallacies which have been refuted, by eminent divines and other writers, over and over again. It may be therefore advisable, for the information of the public, to cite the following opinions and dicta from the published writings of well known prelates and clergymen, whom even Dr. Cameron, with all his recklessness of assertion, will hardly venture to charge with aiming at licentiousness under the garb of liberty.

John Prideaux, D.D., Bishop of Worcester,

Maintains that on the Sunday all recreations whatsoever are to be allowed, which honestly may refresh the spirits and increase mutual love and neighbourhood amongst us; and that the names whereby the Jews did use to call their festivals (whereof the Sabbath was the chief) were borrowed from a Hebrew word, which signifieth to dance and to be merry, or make glad the countenance. . . . What is the cause (he says) that many of our sectaries call this day the Sabbath? If they observe it as a Sabbath, they must observe it because God rested on that day; and then they ought to keep that day whereon God rested, and not the first as now they do, whereon the Lord began His labours. If they observe it as the day of our Saviour's resurrection, why do they call it still the Sabbath; seeing especially that Christ did not altogether rest that day, but valiantly overcame the powers of death.—The Doctrine of the Sabbath. London, 1634.

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Francis White, D.D., Bishop of Ely.

God imposed not this law (of the Fourth Commandment) upon Christian people by any evangelical precept; neither did He command the Gentiles at any time, before or after the Law, to initiate the example of resting the seventh day of every week. And therefore abstinence from worldly labour upon the old Sabbath, in imitation of God Almighty, would not be a work of holiness and true obedience in us Christians, but an act of judicial superstition. The evangelical law imposeth no commandment of total abstinence from secular labour, or from civil actions, during the space of a natural day, either upon the old Sabbath day, or upon the Sunday, or any other day of the week.—A Treatise on the Sabbath Day. London, 1635.

The Rev. P. Heylin, D.D., Sub-Dean of Westminster.

The Sabbath was not instituted in the beginning of the world. No Sabbath was kept from the Creation to the Flood. Neither was it kept from the Flood to Moses. Nothing is to be found in Scripture touching the keeping of Sunday. In the fourth century, from the time of Constantine to that of St. Augustine, Sunday was not taken for a Sabbath. Neither was it regarded as such during the next six centuries. The Lord's Day had no such command as the Sabbath, that it should be sanctified, but was left plainly to God's people to pitch on this or any other for the public use. And being taken up amongst them, and made a day of meeting in the congregation for religious exercises, yet for 300 years there was neither law to bind them to it, nor any rest from labour or from worldly business regarded upon it.—The History of the Sabbath,. London, 1636.

The Rev. Christopher Dow, B.D.

Sure our Saviour would never have styled his yoke easy, and his burthen light, had this strict observance of the Lord's Day been a part of it.—A Discourse of the Sabbath and the Lord's Day. London, 1636.

Robert Sanderson, D.D., Bishop of Lincoln.

The following points ought to be taken as certain and granted amongst Christians:—1. That no part of the law delivered by Moses to the Jews doth bind Christians under the Gospel, as by virtue of that delivery; no, not the Ten Commandments themselves, but least of all the fourth, which all confess to be, at least in some part, ceremonial. 2. That the particular determination of the time to the seventh day of the week was ceremonial. And so the obligation of the Fourth Commandment in that respect, although it were juris Divini positivi to the Jew, yet it ceased, together with other legal ceremonies, since the publishing of the Gospel, and bindeth not Christian consciences.—A Sovereign Antidote against Sabbatarian Errors. London, 1636.

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Gilbert Ironside, D.D., Bishop of Bristol.

It was never yet revealed by prophet or apostle that God would thus or thus punish honest, lawful, and harmless recreations upon the Lord's Day, with such particular judgments as are observed to have fallen upon some particular persons in divers quarters of this land. Let such threatenings be produced, and something is said.—Seven Questions of the Sabbath briefly disputed Oxford,. 1637.

Jeremy Taylor, D.D., Bishop of Down, Connor and Dromore.

The Jewish Sabbath being abrogated, the Christian liberty, like the sun after the dispersion of the clouds, appeared in its full splendour: and then the division of days ceased, and one day was not more holy than another. And when St. Paul reproved the Corinthians tor going to law before the unbelievers, who kept their court days upon the first day of the week, he would not have omitted to reprove them by so great and weighty a circumstance as the profaning the Lord's Day, in case it had been then a holy day, either of Divine or apostolic institution.—Ductor Dubitantium.

Isaac Barroav, D.D., Master of Trinity College, Cambridge.

St. Paul, the great patron and champion of Christian liberty, not obscurely declareth his mind that Christians of strength in judgment did regard no day above another, but esteemed all days (he excepteth none) alike, as to any special obligation, grounded upon divine law and right; in subordination to which doctrine we may add that this appears to have been the common opinion of the wisest and most orthodox Christians in the primitive church. . . . This law, as it was not known or practised before Moses, so it ceased to oblige after Christ; being one of the shadows which the evangelical light dispelled, one of the burdens which the law of liberty did take of us.—A Brief Exposition of the Lord's Prayer and Decalogue, 1681.

Robert Barclay, the Celebrated Quaker.

We not seeing any ground in Scripture for it, cannot be so superstitious as to believe that either the Jewish Sabbath now continues, or that the first day of the week is the antitype thereof, or the true Christian Sabbath, which, with Calvin, we believe to have a more spiritual sense; and therefore we know no moral obligation, by the Fourth Commandment or elsewhere, to keep the first day of the week more than any other, or any holiness inherent in it.—An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, 1678.

Philip Doddridge, D.D., the Eminent Noncomformist.

No one is by the Christian dispensation obliged to obey any part of the Mosaic law, as such, any more than he would have been if that law had never been given.—Lectures on Divinity, No. 209. 1763.

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William Tindal, Translator of the Bible.

As for the Sabbath, we be lords of the Sabbath, and may yet change it into Monday, or any other day as we may see need; or we may make every tenth day holiday only, if we see cause why.—Answer to Sir T. More.

John Frith, Protestant Martyr.

Our forefathers which were in the beginning of the Church did abrogate the Sabbath, to the intent that men might have an example of liberty.—Declaration of Baptism.

W. F. Hook, D.D., Dean of Chichester.

As to the Lord's Day, we are not able to refer to a single passage in all the Scriptures of the New Testament in which the observance of it is enjoined by God. . . . Let then our fields and parks be open. And as there must be temptation in an alehouse, and as there can be no sin in reading, why should not our libraries be made accessible in the winter?—The Lords Day. 1856.

The Rev. F. W. Robertson, of Brighton.

No one who would read St. Paul's own writings with unprejudiced mind could fail to come to the conclusion that he considered the Sabbath abrogated by Christianity. Not merely modified in its stringency, but totally repealed. . . . I cannot but believe that the false, Jewish notions of the Sabbath-day which are prevalent have been exceedingly pernicious to the morals of the country.—Sermons. 1852.

Henry Alford, D.D., Dean of Canterbury.

The Apostle Paul decides nothing; leaving every man's mind to guide him on the point.... I therefore infer that Sabbatical obligation to keep any day, whether seventh or first, was not recognised in apostolic times—Notes on the Greek Testament.

The Rev. Norman M'Leod, D.D.

I do not believe in the continual obligation of the Fourth Commandment. I have no faith in it.—Speech in the Glasgow Presbytery, Nov 16, 1865.

The Rev. J. A. Hessey, D.D.

In no one place in the New Testament is there the slightest hint that the Lord's Day is a Sabbath, or that it is to be observed Sabbatically, or that its observance depends on the Fourth Commandment.—Bampton Lectures.