« ForrigeFortsæt »
these two suppositions are exactly true. No doubt there exists considerable confusion in the ideas of the mass of the higher orders concerning Sunday, and in conversation you might glean from unwary individuals admissions, more than sufficient to build a legal conviction upon, but if closely and honestly analyzed, you will find the majority of them amount to pretty nearly what I have stated. They are, in fact, not Sabbatarians, that is, they believe that there is good and sufficient reason to suppose it consonant to the will of God, that a day should be publicly set apart for religious worship, and as a day of rest and relaxation from ordinary labours and occupations; and, of course, that it should be generally observed as such. But they do not believe, that in the promulgation of Christianity, as a religion for a world, it is the will, much less the positive command of God, that the same literal strictness, under each and every varying state of individual circumstances, should be required, as was required of those, to whom, in an actual and acknowledged state of pupillage, the law was delivered. Still less do they believe, that the revelation which explains that, as a matter of course, works of necessity and charity, &c. were never designed to have been included in the Sabbatical prohibition, does, by thus explaining, substitute all or any of them as
the positive and superadded task of that particular day, to the exclusion of all innocent recreation, whether in one class or another. God forbid that I should be understood to deny, that the more devotion and charity, provided they are real and unaffected, can be shewn on this or any other day, the better; or, that I should imagine for an instant, that the mind finding its greatest, or, if possible, its sole gratification in such acts, had not attained a higher grade in Christianity than one more intimately connected with its corporeal partner; but I am arguing of man-such as he was, is, and will more or less be, as long as he is man, and of what, God knowing his state, may, from revelation and reason, be supposed to desire of him, as the means of his rising to this grade in which he may be fairly said to be ripe for translation to a superior world. What are the directions of our Master ?As to devotions, he enjoins that they should not be continued for long together. Why? knowing our infirmity, in plain English, that we should not become bored by them, and lose that activity and elasticity of mind in their performance, which, whether they be prayer or study, is indispensable to their efficacy. Moreover, that we should not be deceived by the weight of the performance into mistaking the means used to effect, for the end to be effected; making thereby, what we suppose to
be our devotions, or any other orthodox appellation you may please to select. As to charity, you seem to suppose the materials for the work always at hand to occupy our leisure time on a Sunday, and in sufficient profusion to occupy every moment of it not requisitely taken up by devotional exercises. But this is really not the fact in far the greater number of cases, or the greater number of individuals. Nor could we, even by contrivance, make a sufficiency, without hoarding up for the occasion during the week, and descending to unnecessary, and even meddling, interference. You accuse us of "dexterously availing ourselves of any plausible plea for introducing week day employments into Sunday, while we have not the same propensity to introduce any of Sunday's peculiar employments into the rest of the week." Now, is this the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? How do you define Sunday's peculiar employments. I- presume by the common terms, works of devotion and charity. But you surely cannot mean to deny that these are also week-day employments to every Christian. The first, though it may not come up to your ideas of orthodox length, a daily habit; the last, performed at least whenever circumstances call for its performance! Thus the charge again resolves itself into one of general
vain works," "filthy rags,"
laxity and neglect: that we have not the same propensity to do our duty as to amuse ourselves! As to introducing week-day employments into Sunday, the criminality must entirely depend upon what these week-day employments that are introduced may be as examples, you jumble together a host of things of altogether different natures. For travelling on Sunday, for a man who acknowledges even the expediency of the institution, a plea is necessary, as it is a direct infringement upon what he must admit to have been the intention of the institution. If his plea be false, he is guilty of a two-fold misdemeanour. As for writing letters on the other hand, he might as well think of a plea for eating his dinner: if it be necessary for the one, sending by the post included, it certainly will be so for the other, if roast beef and plum pudding be his bill of fare; and exactly for the same reasons. All actions, in their own nature indifferent, can be estimated, as regards Sunday, only as they do or do not infringe its object. You may, perhaps, put a case to me, and say, "If you, being a proprietor, think proper, at an hour which would not interfere with your devotional, or other duties, to dig in your garden or prune your trees, would you hold this to be allowable, because it would not infringe upon the intentions you have supposed?" I answer, that it is a case not at all in contemplation
of the rule; that, unseen of man, it were unseen of God-but that if I, by an open act, take upon me to offer thus a wanton insult to the letter of the Church's ordinance, and to received opinion, without doubt, I am guilty directly of a crime against society, and thereby, indirectly, of a crime against religion: (I am of course speaking here without any reference to motive or intention whatsoever). As affinities to this, I class all those other things you enumerate, always supposing them to be taken in a sense wherein they could be criminal only by being done on Sunday. Whenever they are offences against society, they are offences against religion; where they are not offences against society, they are not offences against religion. The same thing which would be wrong if done in England, might be indifferent if done in France: that which would be indifferent in England, might be wrong if done in Scotland.
In alluding to music, whether intentionally or not, I cannot say, but in putting it as a consequence to be apprehended, " relaxing in the concert room," (p. 158), you have made it appear as if, in your estimation, a greater crime than the rest enumerated in the same paragraph. As you have not excepted sacred music, I must conclude you to have imported the very singular Scotch notion upon this subject; one I never could account for,