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sarily cease. Others have pleasurable occupations from which they may, and ought, out of respect to the day, to cease, such, for instance, as occupy length of time, disturb others, or break the general peace against animals, who, by a parity of reasoning, (this part of the object of the institution being considered as mercy and a boon to brutes), have a right to this truce from unnecessary war. Others again, doing nothing on week days, can have nothing to cease from on Sundays. Christianity itself has neither a day of work nor a day of rest, and if these last are the good Christians you desire, they will have been at its work all the week, and will not cease from it upon Sunday ;but this is distinct altogether, as the question would be for them, rather, whether they are bound, opportunity or no opportunity presenting itself, to make it a work-day in this respect.
In the first place, according to the above definition, as a general rule, we would require, by common consent, a suspension of all public business, and ordinary occupation of individuals, that have any to suspend, directly or indirectly, that all and each may have leisure, as far as possible, for attending the service of the Church, and for such other private devotions, studies, and works of Christian charity, as their feelings and dispositions, abilities or opportunities, may prompt. And
also, that the labouring classes, whether of man or beast, may enjoy that additional corporeal boon of rest and relaxation, which we hold to be the other part of the intention of the institution. We deny that any action, in its own nature innocent, would become criminal, merely by being performed upon Sunday, unless it should become so by infringing upon what has been here laid down as the intention of the institution, or be made so by another distinct principle, viz. by offending the honest prejudices of the society in which we happen to be, (Rom. xiv.) Such, as nearly as I can collect, appears to be the general rule of our system, but even this cannot be strictly complied with. I now, therefore, proceed to define some few acknowledged infringements, which we consider justifiable. First, every thing that can fairly plead necessity, or such degree of general utility as allies it at all closely to necessity. Secondly, we hold those infringements justifiable, which, though they cannot plead either necessity or even general utility, are still eminently conducive to the comfort or enjoyment of the many, though they partially abridge, or even wholly take away the privilege of a few, these few, as regards the latter, not being necessarily the same individuals on each succeeding Sunday. Thirdly, always presuming that the infringement is no more than is abso
lutely necessary to its object. We conceive we are not unjustifiable in looking to the actual reality of what we infringe; for instance, the artizan and labourer having worked hard and incessantly all the week, require rest and relaxation, they have their homes, their families, they may have many sabbath duties to perform, and have many capabilities of enjoyment, from which the state of the domestic servant precludes him. A task imposed upon the one might be an actual infringement of his privileges, perhaps a cruel one, which might, and probably would, be mere relaxation to the other. The same with cattle, the farm or post horse has laboured regularly all the week, and has real enjoyment and benefit from his privilege, whereas with the pampered horse in the stable of a gentleman, it is exactly the reverse; his Sabbath privilege would in reality be privation. In reason and in fact they are not the same, not the same therefore as infringements of the intention of the sabbath 1.
We now, however, come again to the grand point of distinction as to observance of the day, for we look upon Sunday as intended to be a
Any reasonable man must see that the changes which have taken place in the state of society and the world, have rendered such general rules inapplicable in the present day.
joyous festival, wherein all innocent amusement or enjoyment, provided only it be sober and orderly, and does not interfere with the actual duties of ourselves or others, is not only allowable, but thoroughly consonant to the intention of the institution. As regards the labouring classes, many such there are from which they are unjustly and cruelly debarred. Some by legislative enactments, some by the ill-judged zeal of individuals in authority, and in which debarment there is about as much reason and justice as there would be in imposing a Sunday-shackle upon the legs of all cattle turned out, to prevent their profaning the decency of the Sabbath. The fact is, all such like notions proceed from an ancient superstition, leading men vainly to imagine, that God could be pleased by penances and mortifications for their own sake1; and, if this idea is to be retained, I must say, the Papists are a thousand times more reasonable, for they keep up their fast and their feast, neat and distinct, while we endeavour to amalgamate them into one. It really would be much better to go back to the old custom before
1 This false notion has distinguished almost every system of idolatrous worship. It is a confounding of the good and evil principle. The priests of Baal cut themselves with knives; Elijah did not. But neither Judaism, nor even Christianity, to our shame, have escaped this sort of folly.
our canon is altered, keep the Friday as there enjoined, and so avoid the confusion. But as to the labouring classes, the evil does not end with the injustice done them, but they are actually driven, in many instances, to real sin, by our scaring them, injudiciously, from imaginary sin; and the more this is done, the greater will be the evil result. But you will justly call me to order; it is the higher, and not the lower classes whom you attack, it is we that are at the bar, and I must confine my defence to ourselves. It is so, pardon my digression !
The higher orders you will say are not labourers, therefore, by our own confession, Sunday is not intended as a day of rest for them, they, at least, are bound to abstain rigidly from all ordinary amusements, and to find or make for themselves an occupation peculiar to the day, and follow it without intermission throughout the whole of it; and if they do not, and that cheerfully, it is at once a convincing proof that religion is not in their hearts. To bring this argument to bear however, you must first prove, that we, by professing the creed, have subjected ourselves to the letter of your law; and, moreover, that the letter of this law either expressly, or by undeniable implication, which is the same thing, commands us to do so. It happens, however, that neither of