« ForrigeFortsæt »
as laity; upon all, in short, who do not happen to belong to your particular sect in the Church. If you have written all this in ignorance of our opinions, such ignorance is not excusable. Allow me to inform you, however, that we, as well as yourself, hold the doctrine that you here so modestly assume as the exclusive property of your own sect, (p. 149). We one and all admit and affirm, that in Christianity," external actions derive their whole character and meaning from the motives and dispositions, of which they are the indications."
After an unobjectionable sermon of four pages, we at last (p. 154) arrive at the grand debateable ground, the subject of Sunday. And here, I fear, I must say much to excite your vehement disapprobation, as it happens to be one of those points in which we differ from the root upwards. You are (strictly speaking) a Sabbatarian; we are not (strictly speaking) Sabbatarians'. I can only, therefore, ask you, to hear what we have to say for our
1 I could not help smiling to see how very cautiously our Right Rev. Metropolitan has endeavoured to treat this part of his subject, in his "untoward," though in many parts excellent, Letter of last summer; where, though he scruples not to talk of "boats full of well-dressed Sabbath-breakers," he has only said just enough upon the subject of a Sabbath to show his own consciousness of utter want of authority, where reason, analogy, and expediency, are to be abandoned as infra dignitatem.
selves, before you altogether refuse us toleration. You, Sir, are willing to bring forward our supposed delinquencies, regarding Sunday, our not seeming to consider it as a privilege to spend it in your mode, (p. 156), as a proof that religion is not in our hearts. I humbly conceive this sort of judgment to be just what St. Paul means to reprove in Romans xiv. Why are we bound to consider this as a means of serving God, more than you to acknowledge the necessity of Papistical austerities? You say the services of religion are not agreeable to us; that ours is a constrained, not a willing service; that to us religion bears a gloomy and forbidding aspect. Why does it do so? only because it is generally mistaken upon such subjects as the one in question. It is not religion, but the dress in which Superstition has clothed her, that bears this aspect; and it is to the distinction between this "leather and prunella,” and reality, that I wish to draw attention. Before you can draw a fair inference against us, you must prove that we show reluctance, and endeavour to evade an acknowledged and required service; and that it is religion itself, and not antiquated and unnecessary observances, forms, and ceremonies, that is really irksome to us. We wish not to deny, that in your questions (p. 155) is described a very pious way of spending Sunday, or any other leisure time. It is equally
undeniable, that few either do or will so spend them. Then comes the question-Have we any fair grounds for supposing it to be the wish or intention of our Lord and Master that they should do so-I mean definitely, as you have supposed? In the first place, then, we must look to what the present Christian Sabbath really is, whether it is "expressly enjoined;" whether it was observed, not casually and variously, but as a regular ordination, by the first Gentile converts? These two questions must, I believe, be answered in the negative. The convocation of apostles at Jerusalem, convened for the express purpose of deciding upon what parts of the Jewish customs ought to be observed, have omitted all mention of a Sabbath; nor do we find St. Paul any where inculcating it, or any thing nearer to it, than an injunction not to omit public worship. The reason is evident: the converts, many of them either slaves or people in dependence upon others, could not, if they would, have established a Sabbath; and St. Paul, himself a Pharisee, consequently a Sabbatarian, and whose early prejudices and education would have naturally led him to feel strongly upon this point, we must suppose, had good and sufficient reason for not insisting upon, or even naming it. We must then, I believe, resort to analogy for its true origin; and most cordially do I assent to the good policy
and Christian propriety of its establishment, as soon as the government of any country or district, becoming Christian, admitted of its being done. Prior to this, the converts, abstracting themselves in a body from their accustomed tasks, might have created so much disturbance, and so much hostility to the system, as to prove a material detriment to the spreading of the religion. Yet you will not, I presume, restrict the epithet, real Christian, to those among them whom the active Judaizers, the opponents of the apostle, might have persuaded to keep the Jewish Sabbath in the Jewish mode, or to such among them as had the means of making, and actually did volunteer to make, a strict legal Sabbath of the first day of the week, beyond the meeting for public worship'. Whether they understood the matter exactly as you do or not, they had, at all events, the advantage of personal intercourse with St. Paul and his immediate disciples; and if real Christians they were, many of them were so, without acknowledging the "indispensable necessity of, or keeping, at least, any positive Sabbath. The real question, however, is, Sunday being now
1 There is, I think, every reason to believe, that the apostles themselves, and the stricter Jewish converts, kept both days. Their own original Sabbath as a Sabbath, and the first day of the week as a celebration, a religious day, with public worship, but not otherwise a second Sabbath.
established as a Christian Sabbath, how are we in duty bound to observe it? We have, without any express authority, abandoned the Jewish Sabbath, which, if the commandment is still to be considered as in full force, we have no positive right to do, even though we devote another day in any given manner. This, however, we have done, and made, in some hitherto undefined degree, a substitution of the first day of the week for the original Sabbath. We must first, then, determine for ourselves, whether this substitution is to be entire or only partial; whether, in short, Sunday is, or is not, a Sabbath. If it is a Sabbath, then doubtless a strict and rigid conformity, in all classes and sects of Christians, is indispensably necessary. We are to obey, not to argue; for it is in this view of the case the detailed command of our absolute Lord and Master-to every letter of which, Christians universally, and to all he thinks implied thereby-each individual is absolutely bound to conform and it is no more justifiable' to make our bed or our pudding, light our fire, roast our beef, or employ even a Pagan servant to do so for us, than to work at our trades, take journeys, or do any thing most
There are exemplary individuals who hold this opinion, and act upon it conscientiously. As long as they are thus consistent, and abstain from waging a war of aggression, no thinking man should ridicule them.