The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
Mark 2:27.—The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
The first thing to be said of this text is, it is not true.
The Sabbath was not made for man. In no sense was it made for man. Nor was it ever a divine institution. The Sabbath was made by the Priesthood, for the Priesthood; and fearfully have they used it to perpetuate, as well as exercise, their authority over man, for thousands of years.
Days of rest and recreation, a great many of them, Sunday with the others, might be unmixed blessings; but it is the strange ill-fortune of men in this world, to pervert what are, or might be, of solid service to them, to the greatest evils.
Even the necessities of human nature, eating, drinking, clothing, sleeping, love of the sexes, are made ministers, every one of them, to the very worst ills, under which humanity suffers.
So of institutions, made for man, for his use, convenience, comfort, happiness; perverted from their legitimate use, and allowed to become masters of man, they are like lire, when in the mastery, destructive of the very good they were designed to subserve.
This is true, alike of political, educational and religious institutions. Nor is it easy to say which is worst, when once asserting supremacy over man.
The Sabbath is, in itself, an unmitigated usurpation. It has no warrant for existence anywhere; in page 2 heaven above, nor in the earth beneath, nor anywhere beneath the earth.
It began in a lie: it lives in lies, and must so live while its life lasts. It has no natural, no legal claim to observance; never had; never can have. It has no authority which any being is bound to respect, in heaven, on earth,—none whatever. .
It was born of a priesthood that was self-created, self consecrated, ambitious, pretentious, tyrannical, hypocritical; and has been the instrument of usurped authority, arbitrary power, and often of outrageous cruelty, in its hands.
Most religionists, however liberal, have conceded that there was a Sabbath of really divine appointment for the Jews, given at creation or at Mount Sinai, to be by them sacredly observed. But all that is false and foolish as the rest. The Hebrew Sabbath law is as ludicrous on the one hand, as it is unnatural on the other. And yet the Sunday might be made a positive, substantial benefit and blessing to a vast multitude of the human family. It is so already. It has done much for me—saved me from being killed by excessive labor when young, as probably it did some of you; and is saving millions still.
But its use, you sec, is remedial only; a cure for, or prevention of, a greater violation of the laws of nature—only another form of the ten hour system, which costs so much to secure, and which, even now, benefits but a small part of man, and a still smaller part of womankind. And if instead of tie ten hour system, a fifth in place of the seventh day of rest system should be substituted, it would be just as sacred, as holy as is, or ever was any Sabbath whatever. The Sabbath, or Sunday, is only necessary at all, because of the undue and unnatural proportion of time devoted to what we call labor.
In the state of nature, neither man nor animals know nor care anything about days of rest. But in what is called civilized and christianized society, both man and beast are supposed to require a day of rest every week. And man and working beasts do need it; and so, most of all, does the working woman. And least of all does woman have it. As the best regulated society is, to the truly domes- page 3 tic woman, with numerous family cares, the Sundays bring rather increase of labor, thoughtfulness and responsibility, than rest. And societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals have found that to the noble horse, Sunday is more to be dreaded than any other day of the week.
Still to many, both women and men, the day might be made serviceable to both body and spirit, wore they permitted reasonably and sensibly to use it. But just as emperors, kings, aristocracies and demagogues, in the name of government, have perverted everything truly beneficial to their ambitious designs, preying upon the people like wolves, so the priesthood, in the name of religion and of God, have harnessed humanity to a ritual, as senseless as it is ridiculous, and as heartless as it is hypocritical; and have made the race believe that it was all divinely ordained at or before the foundation of the world—Sabbath with the rest—and that they are ordained to explain, expound and enforce the whole of it upon the race, on pain of its everlasting damnation, until the earth be removed, and its foundations be no more.
If you deem this theme trite, or thread-bare, remember the Sabbath institution is now the whole vitalizing source of priestly rule. Without that day and its enforced obligations, our 40,000 clergy would be as powerless as their fabled Samson shorn of his locks: with it, they are a 40,000 Samson-power, to hug and hold humanity in their embrace, while they rob it of reason and common sense, and compel it into blind and slavish subjection to their unrighteous requirements. And while you keep this in mind, let me show you on what fraud and falsehood, what lies and hypocrisy, this whole superstructure is based; and how well they know it too, unless they are indeed fools; which should also, if shown, or known, be a not less powerful reason for exposing them and making them ridiculous, if not infamous, before all the people.
You remember, many of you, when the authority for the Sabbath was not only primarily but mainly rooted in the first chapter of Genesis. God made haste to institute the Sabbath, it was said, as soon as he had completed creation. Indeed, creation was not complete; woman, its crowning flower, was not page 4 yet made. Adam was there, and had received one command, namely: to be fruitful, increase and multiply, and replenish the earth; an enterprise which must have bewildered him greatly, when as yet woman was not. The Sabbath was more important than woman; was long before women—how long we may never know; but as the record runs it must have been very long, for Adam had performed one work which must have occupied him long weeks, if not years, unless Darwinism be true, that of giving "names to all the cattle, and to all the fowls of the air, and to every beast of the field;" but to Adam, it is almost in lamentation added, there was not found an helpmeet for him. (Gen. ii. 18, 25.)
But he had his Sabbaths, happy man that he was! You remember what importance was attached to the circumstance that God hurried up the Sabbath, and rested on it, thus, long before he completed his creative work.
But what became of the Seventh Day argument when Geology, with its lantern and hammer, went down into the crypts, cloisters, and caverns of the earth, and found written on the underpinning stones, by the great Builder himself, dates and inscriptions which set all man's chronology and almanacs, as well as Bible making, at defiance, and proved Genesis and all the Pentateuch, as then and even now interpreted, to be the veriest fables ever palmed upon unsuspecting mortals! I said, even now interpreted. Many ministers, and many in the churches, are still in total darkness on this whole theme, and scout the very word Geology, and all its teachings and meanings, as beneath their sanctified scorn and contempt.
Just as to this day, I find men and women in the Methodist Church, who always supposed that the separation between the northern and southern General Conferences was made by the withdrawal of the north from the south, on account of slavery, and that consequently the northern conference had no connection with slavery afterwards. Their ministers had told them those two falsehoods, and they believed them; believe them to this day. So of this argument from geology, as to the seventh day, Sabbath. I do not suppose one-half of the ministers of this country, or Great Britain know that all learned men, page 5 all who have thoroughly investigated the subject, no-matter of what church, have Ions: since abandoned all former claim or pretension that Genesis has any right to be heard. One reason is, because when the champions for the Sabbath are driven from one stronghold, they take refuge in another, and so those who never examine anything for themselves, ministers as well as others, and there are plenty of them, think all must be safe and secure.
But look at the historical argument, as the wisest of the clergy have taught and enforced it.
The world believes there has been a Sabbath-keeping church, at least from the thunders of Mt. Sinai, to the earthquake which rent the grave of dead faints, as well as the veil of the last temple at the crucifixion: and thence onward, with only change of day, from seventh to first, to the present time. So much the world professes to believe, taught by its consecrated ministry; and more, that the institution will be perpetuated on the earth while the earth endures; and will then be transferred to heaven and be hallowed there by all its inhabitants, one eternal day, one Sabbath day, whose songs shall never cease, whose night shall never come.
Such is the present popular, almost unshaken faith, wherever waves the banner of the cross. Of course all the church knows, or can know about the Jewish Sabbatb, rests on Jewish authority. And the variety of testimony as to its authority is as remarkable, as is the manner of its early observance ridiculous.
I have neither time nor strength, nor could you have patience, but for a few examples.
It is stoutly disputed whether God gave the law of the Sabbath at the creation, or not. Disputed, remember, among Rabbis and Doctors who should know, or nobody knows. Nobody pretends to know certainly whether the patriarchs, in all the 2,000 years before the ten commandments, kept or knew any thing about the Sabbath; or whether any of the Hebrew tribes did, from Joshua to David and Solomon—another period of 400 or 500 years.
Some guess they did, others guess they did not. Those who think they did, and Josephus is one of them, assert that there was no city, Greek or barbarian. page 6 and no country where the religion of the Sabbath was not known. Some of them even pretend that Job kept the Sabbath, the argument being that he had seven sons, and that when each one had given the others, and the three sisters, an entertainment, their father offered a sacrifice to God on their account, saying, "it may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts,"—taking after their mothers it seems he feared they might be, in their pleasures.
Philo, a very learned Jew of Alexandria (A. D. 1, or thereabout) held that, the Jews having forgotten the clay of the creation of the world, God reminded them of it when he rained the manna on other days, and withheld it on the seventh day. Other Jewish Doctors deny that the day was ever forgotten, and insist, though, as would appear, without a shadow of evidence, that Joseph observed it in the house of Pharaoh. So far the Jews, as to the origin and history of the institution; though I give you but a specimen of their argument. Very brief specimen, too.
And then as to the modes of observance; the same authorities are equally at variety. Our scriptures present some of the grotesque and ridiculous demands of it; but other Jewish writers, many more; and the authority of one is as good as another.
All are Jewish and preserved by Jews; though studied by Christians, as well as Jews, and relied upon as far as they think the Sabbath argument is strengthened by them.
All work was prohibited by all alike. In the time of the Maccabees, the Jews could not fight, even if attacked; sometimes their enemies, knowing their Sabbath regulations, waited for that day, and then attacked and massacred them without resistance.
The Rabbins reckon thirty-nine direct prohibitions, and innumerable secondary requirements, which it would be impossible to keep. They forbade the roasting or the peeling of an apple. They were not to kill a flea, a fly, nor any insect "if so large that the sex could be determined." None were to sing, or to play on any instrument so loud as would waken a sleeping child. And yet the Samaritans complained of the Jews, that they were too lax in their observance of the Sabbath.page 7
For themselves, they had no fire, Moses having expressly commanded, "ye shall kindle no fires throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day." They abstained wholly from women; they did not leave their cheerless, tireless habitations on that day, only as they went to the house of the Lord. They employed themselves in reading the law, in thanksgivings and prayers. Even the "Sabbath day's journey" was in dispute, and is yet. Some made it a mile, others more, some less. Rabbi Moses Maimonides held that he who did not know exactly the distance might walk on the Sabbath day 2,000 moderate paces. And so it was merely guess-work all round, and ever has been.
It is remarkable that no more is said of the Sabbatical year, and year of Jubilee, both of which are as really in the Mosaic code as is the seventh day observance. In the 23d of Exodus, the laws for the seventh year observance are given in the same connection, and with the same particularity.
In 25th Leviticus the seventh year law is reproduced without the other.
"Six years shalt thou sow thy fields, and six years shalt thou prune thy vineyard and gather the fruit thereof.
But the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land—a sabbath for the Lord. Thou shalt neither sow thy fields nor prune thy vineyard."
With more to the same purport. Then follows the command with its provisions and regulations for the Sabbatical year.
"And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee; seven times seven years, and the space of the seven sabbaths of years, shall be unto thee forty and nine years . . . .
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.
A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you. Ye shall not sow, neither reap that which groweth of itself; nor gather the grapes of thy vines undressed. For it is the jubilee."
I am reading only that part of the law regulating the seventh and fiftieth year Sabbaths. But there seems no reason in the world, why the seventh day Sabbath should be held more sacred than these, only that the priesthoods could not then, and cannot now use them to their advantage. Probably there is no other reason. The same books, the same chapters precisely, contain the law, the same writer doubtless wrote them, and by the same authority, human or divine.page 8
Coming to the Christian dispensation, nothing is proved or provable, if it be not certain that the Apostles as well as Jesus, regarded the institution as Jewish, binding only on Jews; and no longer even on them. But I do not propose now to enter the New Testament scriptures on the subject. I never knew a question with two sides—and surely no theological question ever has less, which had not been proved true and false, many times, many ways before I ever learned the book at all.
But coming away from the scripture record, it is well to know, what the so called Christian Fathers believed and practised in the first Christian centuries, and while both Jew and Christian were on the ground, each with his distinctive claim.
Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Eusebius, and many more, boldly taught that the Sabbath, as mentioned by Moses, signified only the appointment of a day to be observed afterwards by the Jews, but by none others. And they say there is no evidence that the patriarchs in all their 2,500 years ever observed it, or were required, or expected to observe it.
Some very learned as well as zealous Jews, complained to Justin Martyr, that the Christians kept not the Sabbath. The martyr replied in defence of the Christians, with much power, and at great length, saying among other things: "You Jews think when you have passed a day in idleness, you are very religious. Our God is not pleased with such things. There was no need of Sabbaths before Moses, so there is no need of them since Jesus Christ."
Iræneus in the second century, and the flower of that century for integrity as well as learning, says: "Abraham had faith and was called the friend of God; yet neither was circumcised, nor observed the Sabbath."
Much has been written about the change of the day by the apostles, or early fathers and founders of the church, and almost everybody supposes the change was by as divine a sanction as was the institution itself, and that both were divine; and it was just as divine, for that matter; because there was nothing but priestly assumption and arrogance about any part of it.page 9
So far I have only given you what Jewish and Christian writers themselves have furnished us; and will now show you the best that the best authorities of the church give as reason for changing the day from the seventh to the first.
"Seventh Edition Revised with large additions, by Edward Robinson, Professor Extraordinary of Sacred Literature, in the Theological Seminary of Andover, Massachusetts."
"The law had fixed the seventh day as the sabbath for the nation of the Jews. It is believed by some, that the apostles, to honor the day of our Savior's resurrection, determined it to every seventh day, and fixed it on the Sunday, that is, the first day of the week among the Hebrews, and the day dedicated to the sun, among the Pagans.
The change of the day is. however, rather to be gathered from the practice of the Christian Church, than as clearly enjoined in the New Testament.
It appears that believers came together on this day to break bread; that collections for the poor were then taken; exhortations and discourses were delivered to the people, and in short, we have the various parts of public worship noted as being performed on this day.
It will follow that we may safely imitate those examples which the apostles and primitive christians have left us. And whatever obligations the Jews might lie under to the observance of the Saturday Sabbath, they do not bind christians; because those obligations were national, not general, and were commemorative, in some degree, of Israclitish events in which others have no interest."
So much for our learned and Reverend Professor Extraordinary; nor do I know where to look for any higher authority. And is it not clear to every pure vision that instead of furnishing any argument in support of a change of the day, by any divine precept, he has shown two other and very different things; first, that nothing is known, nor can be known positively. page 10 just when, where, how, nor by whom, the day was changed; and secondly, that whatever might have been the law of the Sabbath to the Jews, it had no binding force whatever on anybody else, then nor at any other time, before nor afterwards. You observe the eminent professor only speaks doubtfully in what he does say. "It is believed," he says. So are many other things believed, but who knows, is what we are after, not who believes.
Again, he says, "it appears" that the churches did certain things on certain days. That we know, but by what authority, is our question.
After all, he concludes the change of the day is only to be gathered from the practice of the churches, the scriptures being wholly silent upon the subject. And this Is all that can be known about it.
To quote the words of the so-called "Christian Fathers," from Justin Martyr, in the first century, to the disputes between the Greek and Roman churches, in the tenth and eleventh centuries, would only weary your patience to no purpose. One thing is to be remarked: in all the controversy among the early Christians about the Sabbath, the complaint was, that those who observed the day at all, observed it as a Jewish and not as a Christian institution.
The controversy commenced among the apostles themselves. Paul and Peter were always at war about that and other Jewish ordinances and observances, or something else, and yet both were Jewish where it subserved their purpose.
To the Jews, Paul said he became a Jew, that he might gain the Jews, going so shamefully far even as to circumcise the Bishop of Ephesus; though he boasts that he seldom baptized, and that he was not sent to baptize. Perhaps, he administered the Jewish rite oftener than the christian ordinance of baptism. Nobody knows nor can know.
One of the reasons for the separation of the Greek from the Roman church was, that the latter still Judaized, as it was called, on the question of Sabbath observance.
Coming to the Reformation, three or four names are so well known, and so highly revered, too, by the Protestant church and pulpit, that this argument would hardly be complete without their sanction. page 11 These are John Calvin, Martin Luther, Melancthon, and others.
More than half the Protestant churches in America, namely, the Baptist, Presbyterian and Congregational, if not the Episcopalian, are baptized into the name of John Calvin, as really as into the name of Jesus Christ. And yet I never found but very few, even of their clergy, who did not dispute me. and sometimes with most tropical temper, too, when I told them Calvin, and the great reformers, did not hold to the Sabbath, but on the contrary wrote most positively and pointedly against it.
In Book 2d, Chapter 8th, Calvin's Institutes, the subject is treated at great length, but a few brief specimens of the argument will be sufficient for our purpose.
"The Fathers frequently call the command for the Sabbath a shadowy commandment, because it contains the external observance of the day which was abolished with the rest of the figures at the advent of Christ. . . . . . . .
Though the sabbath be abrogated, yet it is customary among us to assemble on stated days, for hearing the word, breaking the mystic bread and for prayer, and to allow servants and labore sal remission from work.
The same day which put an end to the shadows admonishes christians not to adhere to a shadowy ceremony.
Christians, therefore, should have nothing to do with a superstitious observance of days.
Paul expresses a fear lest "his labors among the Galatians should prove in vain, because they still observed days. And he writes the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another."
And that is John Calvin, though only in threads. His whole argument is a perfect chain cable of vigor in reasoning and power of logic, against any Sabbath day. What can be done with it?
Now, I suppose the Calvinistic clergy of this one country must count tens of thousands, and if they know the views of John Calvin, after whom they are called—after whom they call themselves—then, in thus keeping them from the people, they are liars and hypocrites. I have no other name for them.
If, on the other hand, they do not know them, with Calvin's Institutes in every decent theological library, and with all the Sabbath Conventions and discussions of the last twenty years, where they have been presented, and reiterated, and published over and over again, and scattered in newspapers, reports, page 12 and tracts, like snowflakes everywhere; if after all this, they do not know, then I leave this audience to baptize them with whatever name you deem proper.
Martin Luther, as quoted by Coleridge, directed like this (I have seen but the quotation)—"Keep the day holy for its use's sake, both to body and soul. But if anywhere the day is made holy for the mere day's sake, if any set up its observance on a Jewish foundation, then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to do anything that shall reprove this encroachment on the christian spirit and liberty."
The Sabbath sentiment of not only Luther and Calvin, but of all the leaders of the Reformation, may also be seen in the Augsburg Confession of Faith, framed by Melancthon and presented to the Emperor Charles V., at the Assembly of Augsburg in 1530.
"What is to be thought of the Lord's day and such like rites used in the Church The answer is, "That it is lawful for bishops and pastors to appoint ordinances—and that men's consciences should be bound to esteem them necessary services, and to think that they sin when they violate any of them.
Of this sort, is the observance of the Lord's day, of Easter, of Pentecost and such like holy days and rites; for they that think that the observation of the Lord's day was appointed by the authority of the Church instead of the Sabbath, as necessary, are greatly deceived.
The scripture requireth that the observation of it should be more free; for it teaches that the Mosaical ceremonies are not needful after the gospel is revealed. And yet because it was requisite to appoint a certain day that the people might know when to come together, it seemeth that the church did, for that purpose, appoint the Lord's day; which day, for this cause, also seemed to have better pleased the Church, that in it men might have an example of christian liberty, and might know that the observation, neither of the sabbath, nor any other day, was of necessity.
There are extant monstrous disputations, torching the change of the sabbath, which have sprung up from a false persuasion that there should be worship in the Church like to the Leviticus worship. They dispute about the holy days, and prescribe how far it is lawful to work in them. What else are disputations but snares for men's consciences?"
"In my opinion the transactions in the wilderness a hove related (fix. xvi.), were the first actual institution of the Sabbath. The words (Gen. ii. 2, 3,) do not assert, that God then blessed and sanctified the seventh day, but that he blessed and sanctified it for that reason. St. Paul evidently page 13 seems to have considered the Sabbat a a sort of Jewish ritual, and not obligatory on Christians as such. (Col. 11., 16.17.) A cessation upon that day, from labor, beyond the time of attendance upon public worship, is not intimated in any part of the New Testament; nor did Christ nor his apostles deliver, that we know of, any commands to their disciples for a discontinuance, upon that day, of the common affairs of their profession. The opining that Christ and his apostles meant to retain the duties of the Jewish Sabbath, shifting only the day from the seventh to first, seems to prevail without suthcient reason; nor does any evidence remain in the scripture, (of what, however, is not improbable,) that the first day of the wee was thus distinguished in commemoration of our Lord's death."
"In saying that there is no mention of the Lord's day in the Mosaic Law, I mean that there is not only no mention of that specific festival which Christians observe on the first day of the week, in memory of our Lord's resurrection on the morning following the Jewish sabbath but that there is no injunction to sanctify one day in seven, throughout the whole of the Old Testament, we never hear of keeping holy some one day in every seven, but the seventh day, the day on which God rested from all his labors.'
I cannot, therefore, but think that the error was less of those early Christians, who, conceiving the injunction relative to the sabbath to be binding on them, obeyed it just as it was given, than those who, admitting the eternal obligation of the precept, yet presume to alter it on the authority of tradition. Surely if we allow that the tradition of the Church is competent to change the express commands of God, we are falling into one of the most dangerous errors of the Romanists.
But in the present case, there is not even any tradition to the purpose. It is not merely that the apostles left us no command perpetuating the observance of the sabbath, and transferring the day from the seventh to the first. Such a change, certainly, would have been authorized by their express injunction, and by nothing short of that; since an express divine command can be changed or altered only by the same power, and the same distinct revelation by which it was delivered. But, not only is their no apostolic injunction, than which nothing less would be sufficient, there is not even any tradition of their having made such a change; nay more, it is even abundantly plain that they made no such change."
This country abounds in Theological Seminaries, and in learned theologians, whose sole business is, to teach the ministers who are, and are to be, the teachers and guides of the people. And it certainly is no extravagance of statemant to say that whatever their pupils may know, or not know, they know themselves, every one of them, that all the preaching and pretending about one day as holier than another, is page 14 immeasurable delusion, or unmitigated falsehood.
All legislation under any form of government in support of such a dogma, is but binding heavy burdens and laying them on men's shoulders without warrant, without authority.
Nor is it among the least remarkable circumstances in the history of Sunday legislation, that laws have been enacted against Sabbath observance as well as in support of it. And with far better reason too.
When James VI. visited Scotland in 1617, he found the clergy had usurped full authority, especially in matters of religion, and were punishing Sabbath violations, among other delinquonces, with frightful severity. Whipping and branding with red-hot irons were both inflicted on women, both on the same woman at the same time, as well as on men. Against not only these extremes but against any prohibiten of innocent sports and recreations on Sunday, such as walking, visiting, swimming, and peaceful games, did the king oppose the royal authority.
Puritanism, particularly in the State of Connecticut, has made itself ridiculous, if not odious for all time, by its Sunday legislation, as well as by all sorts of spiritual protective tariffs for the benefit of the saints.
But it was in Scotland that the day was best observed, and you need not, wonder that the government interfered, and more than once, to check the arrogance of priestly power and domination. The Scotch cergy have always been the full counterpart of the Roman Catholic priesthood, but in the 16th and 17th centuries, they were scorpions to the milder whips of Catholic sway. Not only Sunday recreations, but almost every sort of sports, were proscribed even to children. It was sin to be pleased or happy at all, except under suffering, because thereby God was displeased.
It was a heinous sin for a mother to wish to have daughters who had only sons; it was no less a sin to love her sons when she had them. To receive her son into her house after he had been excommunicated by the clergy, was almost a mortal sin. Whoever did it had to humble herself, make confession to the clergy and promise not to do so again, but to aid in bringing him to punishment.page 15
Fathers were taught to smite, and even to kill their sons rather than permit them to propagate error. Even scripture example was cited to justify murders so unnatural and horrible. To laugh on any day was sinful. To smile on Sunday was positively forbidden.
"When in 1580 King Charles was in Scotland, even he was sharply reprehended by the clergy for laughing on Sunday. It was this probably which led to his opposing Government interference against such superstition and priestly arrogance, as his father had attempted years before.
Even on week days, the most godly never smiled. Much weeping, especially by ministers when praying and preaching on Sunday, was counted evidence of superabounding godliness. The praying and preaching of such was called "most savory" and so was most relished and admired. The bands as well as handkerchiefs of some ministers were "all wet with tears, as though they had been douked' before they had done the first prayer, which was great recommendation. They said "Christ did never laugh on earth, that we read of; but often wept."
It was a sin in any Scotch town to hold a market on Saturday or Monday, because both days were near to Sunday. The language of the law was: "it ocoasioneth the travelling of men and horses on the word's day before, which postponeth the Sabbath."
All horse exercise was sinful on Sunday, especially riding on horseback.
To sit idle, even at one's own door, or to walk the streets, or fields, to swim, to shave the beard, to cut the hair, were all pronounced "intolerable violations of the fourth commandment."
The clergy recommended that the magistrate prohibit swimming on any day,; a boy on one occasion having been drowned.
Margaret Brotherstone did water her cabbages on Sunday (Rail they are in Scotch,) and had to confess her sin publicly in the church, and promise to do so no more. Cabbage or no cabbage, no more watering on Sunday.
To sleep in sermon was almost unpardonable; though sermons on Fast, and some oilier set days, were two hours long each, and often two by different ministers at a single uninterrupted service. Even page 16 children were sharply rebuked for being sleepy at church.
Haliburton, a most eminent Scotch Divine and author of that day, in a sermon to young people asks—"Have ye not been glad when the Lord's day was over, or at least when the preaching was done that ye might get your liberty? Has it not been a burden to you to sit so long in church? Well, this is a great sin; a great sin!" It was a sin on Sunday to even save lives, to rescue drowning sailors from a sinking ship in sight of shore; and a crew of fishermen, in the north of Scotland, were made to do penance for Sabbath-breaking, who had done that very thing. And it was expressly ordained that no man do kiss his wife on Sunday, and no woman her child.
In 1594 Dr. Bound, an English Puritan Divine, wrote a book, claiming that the Sabbath was of divine origin, and that at the resurrection, all laws regulating it were miraculously transferred to the first day of the week and made obligatory forever. Dr. Bound inculcated that to do any service-work on the Sabbath, was as great a sin as to kill a man or to commit adultery with a woman; that to throw a quoit was as great a sin on the Lord's day as murder, that to make a feast or dress a wedding dinner was as much a crime, as for a father to take a knife and cut his child's throat; and that to ring more bells than one, on the church, on the Sabbath day, was as great a sin as to commit murder.
This was the demand of an English Divine, but never granted, because the ecclesiastical power was not supreme over the civil magistrate, as in Scotland. But had Dr. Bound possessed the power, how soon would all England have been bound also in fetters, merciless as hell!
But you must be tired of these citations. I have produced them (and there are thousands more), that you may see where priestly power runs, and how it riots on even all human affections, unrestrained.
The Sunday as now held, is a horriible nightmare on human society, and what you have just heard, are but the dreams thereby induced. And the diabolical spell is upon us still. It is midnight gloom and darkness on this as well as so many other purely religious and theological dogmas; and like children frightened, the world is afraid to go out in the dark, to see page 17 what is the matter, or even to uncover its head. And the clergy, like vulgar housemaids, keep telling their dismal stories, to scare us worse and worse.
And yet we are made to believe we are the most civilized, enlightened, Christian people on the globe. Perhaps we are; but considering the time and the circumstances, it is fearfully little that, we can boast, even over Scotland itself.
To trace the history of the Sabbath institution back to its Hebrew origin, is like pursuing the course of a muddy stream tip through a muddy and tangled jungle, to a source more miry and noxious still.
From Mt. Sinai to Mt. Calvary the histories and authorities are of course all Jewish. From Christ to Constantine, the Sabbath, so far as observed at all, was only held as sacred by those mongrel saints, half Jewish, the other half Paul, Apollos, Cephas or Christ, as they happened to be spiritually born into one school or another,
Constantine the Great, becoming head of the Church, added a heathen demand to its observance, borrowed from his paganism, which, of course, added nothing to its sacredness. His decree commanded—"That on the venerable day of the sun, all judges, all town's people, and all trade's people, should rest while those in the country, including all agricultural laborers, could continue their work as on other days. And from that time it has been called Sunday—if not so christened by Constantine himself, not in commemoration of Christ crucified, risen nor ascended, but in idolatrous observance of the day of the Sun, as for ages before in the Roman Empire.
From Constantine to Martin Luther and the Reformation, the institution has had little history one way or another. My muddy stream seems running underground altogether, through most of that thousand years. It had its observance, but the ruling religion was Catholic, and the day had its place, though not in a manner to involve controversy.
The Reformation had no respect for it: nor was it until the fiery zeal of Puritanism revived its ancient claim that it had very serious consideration as a christian institution, from the destruction of Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews, until the Puritanic period.
What now do truth and justice require that we call page 18 our solemn priesthoods, who boast their knowledge of the ways, the works, the word of God?
Many, we know, are regarded by the world as fountains of all wisdom, knowledge, and virtue. If they are so, why do they not tell the truth on this important subject?
I believe it was just exactly such classes as our clergy, intellectually and morally, that Jesus addressed when he pronounced one "fools and blind," and the other "hypocrites, whited sepulchres, serpents, and a generation of vipers, that could not escape the damnation of hell!" But let us call them by no such opprobrious names.
And now my work is done. I know, dear friends' I have taxed terribly your patience (a besetting siu. I fear, of mine); but I desired to acquaint you with this subject as thoroughly as possible, in a single discourse.
It is the heaviest and most merciless bondage, this Sabbath institution, that a usurping priesthood now imposes on a long abused, long-suffering world—especially is this true towards the teeming, toiling, sweltering population, young and old, in every large city and town. It is true everywhere, as freedom is preferable to bondage, truth to falsehood.
Break this one yoke, and priestly domination is no more. With their holy day must go their holy office, their holy book, their holy throne the pulpit, and their holy and reverend selves. And the slaves of their 40,000 spiritual plantations, in this one nation, would rise up, redeemed, regenerated and disenthralled by the spirit of God, by the energy of truth, by the omnipotence of justice, by the genius of universal emancipation.