The Lord’s Day Alliance
This veteran of the Courts, who has spent fifty years tearing deserved holes in the law, takes and swings his priceless irony towards these professional Christians. When do we rest and when do we play? Apparently we don’t. What Price salvation? it’s not worth it
Among the various societies that are engaged in the business of killing pleasure, the Lord’s Day Alliance of New York deserves a place of honor. If any poor mortal is caught enjoying life on Sunday its agents gleefully hie themselves to the nearest legislature and urge a law to stop the fun. Their literature and periodicals tell very plainly the kind of business they are in. This association of crape-hangers seems to be especially interested in the State of New York, which contains about one-tenth of the population of the Union, and among them an unusually large number of foreigners and other heathen who have not been taught the proper regard for the sanctity of the Sabbath.
The activities of this Alliance in New York still leave them ample time to watch the sinners in the other states and bring to book the wicked who are bent on having pleasure on the holy Sabbath Day. In their own language, the work is “In the interests of the preservation and promotion of the Lord’s Day as the American Christian Sabbath … to oppose all adverse measures seeking to weaken the law and to seek the passage of such measures as would tend to strengthen it.” The Alliance informs us that “in the last four years it has furnished sixty-seven addresses per month, on an average. During this time over three hundred and twenty institute meetings have been held for the study of the Sabbath question. Several million pages of literature have been distributed.” it “also furnishes press articles and syndicate matter for the newspapers.” Imagine an institute spending so much time in the study of the Sabbath question! If they have learned anything on that subject it is not revealed, in their tracts.
These Lord’s Day folk seek to protect the day “in the interest of the home and the church,” “to exalt Jesus Christ who is Lord of the Sabbath Day and to spread the knowledge of the will of God that His Kingdom may come and His will may be done.” Though the organization is still young it points to a long list of glorious achievements. We are informed that “no adverse measure affecting the Sabbath has passed at Albany during this time, although forty- two such measures have been introduced in the legislature. … A representative of our organization has been present on each occasion to oppose all such adverse measures.” It boasts that it “opposed the opening of the State Fair in 1925 on Sunday, by vigorous protest to the members of the Commission and the Attorney General.” The result was a ruling from the Attorney General sustaining the law. Of course, so long as no one could go to the fair on Sunday the people were obliged to go to church. It “has defeated annually an average of forty commercial and anti-Sunday bills in our legislature and has brought about the closing of the First and Second Class Post Offices on Sunday. … As a result, thousands are in our churches each Sunday.” It has been thanked by President Coolidge for the services rendered hundreds of thousands of government employees in the District of Columbia and elsewhere throughout the nation.” What further honor could anybody get on earth? It has “accepted the challenge and in scores of places defeated … commercial amusement forces which have declared a nationwide fight to the finish for Sunday movies and are even proposing to enlist the aid of the churches in their unholy campaign.” It succeeded in “changing the date of the gigantic air carnival to which admission was charged, from Sunday, August 2, to Saturday, August 1, 1925, held at Belling Field, Washington.” No one but a parson has the right to charge for his performance on Sunday. Through its request “the War Department issued orders on November 2, 1925, covering every military Post in the United States, banning Sunday public air carnivals, and maneuvers.” It is now leading a country-wide movement for the enactment of a Sunday rest law for the District of Columbia. Washington needs and must have a Sunday rest law.” It informs us that the “day must be kept above the Dollar, Christ above Commercialism on the Lord’s Day, the person must have the right of way over the Pocketbook on our American Sunday.”
Surely this is a great work and deserves the active support and sympathy of all people who are really interested in driving pleasure-seekers from golf grounds, automobile trips, baseball parks, moving-picture houses and every other form of pleasure on Sunday. It is possible that for lack of any other place to go, some of them might be compelled to park themselves in church. If America does not succeed in bringing back the ancient Puritan Sabbath with its manifold blessings, it will not be the fault of the Lord’s Day Alliance.
As a part of this noble work the organization publishes various pamphlets and leaflets and scatters them broadcast through the land. As a rule, these pamphlets are the effusions of more or less obscure parsons. These preachers have special knowledge of God’s plans and God’s will. Their sermonettes are conflicting in their statements and utterly senseless in their assertions. The sentries of the Alliance on guard at the state capitals and in the national Congress, while these wise bodies are in session, have no doubt succeeded in coercing spineless members of legislative bodies to yield to their will and their parade of votes; and thus spread considerable gloom over the United States on the Sabbath Day.
These Lord’s Day Alliance gentlemen are not only religious but scientific. For instance, they publish a pamphlet written by one Dr. A. Haegler, of Basle, Switzerland, in which he says that experiments have shown that during a day’s work a laborer expends more oxygen than he can inhale. True, he catches up with a large part of this deficiency through the night time, but does not regain it all. It follows, of course, that if he keeps on working six days a week, for the same time each day, he will be out a considerable amount of oxygen, and the only way he can make it up is to take a day off on Sunday and go to church. This statement seems to be flawless to the powerful intellects who put out this literature. Any person who is in the habit of thinking might at once arrive at the conclusion that if the workman could not take in enough oxygen gas in the ordinary hours of work and sleep he might well cut down his day’s work and lengthen his sleep and thus start even every morning. This ought to be better than running on a shortage of gas all through the week. Likewise, it must occur to most people that there are no two kinds of labor that consume the same amount of oxygen gas per day, and probably no two human systems that work exactly alike. Then, too, if the workman ran behind on his oxygen gas in the days when men worked from ten to sixteen hours a day he might break even at night, since working hours have been reduced to eight or less, with a Saturday half-holiday thrown in. It might even help the situation to raise the bedroom window at night. These matters, of course, do not occur to the eminent doctor who wrote the pamphlet and the scientific gentlemen who send it out. To them the silly statement proves that a man needs to take a day off on Sunday and attend church in order that he may catch up on his oxygen. To them it is perfectly plain that for catching up on oxygen the church has a great advantage over the golf links or the baseball park, or any other place where the wicked wish to go. This in spite of the fact that in crowded buildings the oxygen might be mixed with halitosis.
The exact proof that these patrons marshal for showing that the need of a Sunday rest is manifest in the nature of things is marvelous. If the need of Sunday rest was meant to be shown by natural law it seems as if this should have been clearly indicated, especially if the righteous God had determined to punish Sunday. violations with death and hell. There was no reason why the Creator should have been content to leave the proof to a revelation said to have been made in a barbarous age to an unknown man, hidden in the clouds on the top of a high mountain peak. humans would not have graven such an important message on a tablet of stone and then insisted that the tablet should be destroyed before any being except Moses had set eye upon it. Even God should not ask for faith that amounts to credulity and gross superstition.
A deity could have written the Sabbath requirements plain on the face of nature. For instance, he might have made the waves be still on the seventh day of the week; the grass might have taken a day off and rested from growing until Monday morning; the wild animals of the forest and glen might have refrained from fighting and eating and chasing and maiming and have been made to close their eyes on the Sabbath Day, and to have kept peace and tranquillity. The earth might have paused in its course around the sun or stood still on its axis. It should have been as important to make this gesture in homage of the day as it was to help Joshua hold the sun in leash that a battle might be prolonged. If nature had made plain provision for the Sabbath Day it would be patent to others as well as to the medicine men who insist that the Sabbath Day was made for their profit alone.
But let us pass from the realm of science, where pastors never did especially shine, into a field where they are more likely to excel. Here it is fairly easy to see what it is all about. The Reverend McQuilkin, Pastor at Orange, New Jersey, furnishes a pamphlet for The Lord’s Day Alliance. Read what the Doctor says:
God claims the Sabbath for himself in a very unique, distinctive way as a day of rest and worship. He again and again commands you to spend its hours in the conservation of our spiritual power in the exercise of public and private worship. To spend this holy day in pleasure or unnecessary secular labor is to rob God. We have got to be careful how we take the hours of the Sabbath for secular study or work, for God will surely bring us to judgment concerning the matter. Church attendance is a definite obligation, a debt which we owe to God.
Here is where the Alliance seems to strike pay dirt! What reason has God to Claim the Sabbath for Himself, and why is God robbed if a man should work on Sunday? It can hardly be possible that the puny insects that we call men could disturb God in His Sunday rest. Is it not a little presumptuous even to parsons, to say that a debt to the church is a debt to God?
To emphasize the importance of leaving the Sabbath to the preachers, we are warned of the fate of the sinner who profanes the Sabbath by work or play. The Lords Day Alliance has issued a little folder on which there is the following heading in large letters: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE DEATH PENALTY. Under it is printed this timely caution: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Jehovah; whosoever doeth any work on the Sabbath Day shall surely be put to death. Ex. 31-35.” The pamphlet also states that a wealthy business man is furnishing the money for the distribution of this sheet. If this barbarous statement represents the views of the Lord’s Day Alliance then what is the mental caliber of the Congressmen, members of the legislatures, judges, and the public that are influenced by their ravings? Can anyone but an idiot have any feeling but contempt for men who seek to scare children and old women with such infamous stuff?
Let us see what the Bible says on this important subject. In Exodus 19: 8-12 we find not only the commandment which was delivered to Moses in reference to the Sabbath, but the reasons for such a commandment:
Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. In it thou shalt do no work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man servant nor thy maid servant nor the cattle which is within thy gates; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sun and all that is in them and rested the seventh day, wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath Day and hallowed it.
It is plain from this commandment that the Sabbath was not instituted in obedience to any natural law or so that man might catch up on his supply of oxygen, but because the Lord in six days had performed the herculean task of creating the universe out of nothing. Therefore, every man must rest on the seventh, no matter whether he has been working and is tired or not. This is made even more binding in Exodus 35: 2:
Six days shall work be done, upon the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, the Sabbath of the rest of the Lord. Whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.
In view of the commands of God, certainly his special agents on the earth cannot be blamed for cruelty, no matter what ferocious doctrine they may preach. In Numbers 28: 9-10 in connection with various offerings that the Law required on the Sabbath, a provision is made for meat offerings and drink offerings. The meat offerings enjoin the sacrifice of lambs by fire as “a sweet savor unto the Lord,” and then the Lord provides that the pastor shall further:
Sacrifice on the Sabbath Day two lambs of the first year without spot and two-tenths of a part of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil and the drink offering thereof: this is the burnt-offering of every Sabbath, besides the continual burnt-offering and his drink offering.
It is evident that the lambs less than one year old, without spot, were to be burned because they were so young and innocent and would therefore make such a “sweet savor unto the Lord.” Nothing is lacking in this smell but mint sauce. If Moses’s to be obeyed on pain of hell in his command to abstain from work or play on the Sabbath why is the rest of the program any less sacred? How can the holy parsons release their congregations from the sacrifice of the two spotless lambs and the two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mingled with oils?
In the Fifteenth Chapter of Numbers, it is related that while the children of Israel were in the wilderness they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day. The Hebrews were evidently at a loss to know what should be done with him for this most heinous offense, so they put him in “ward” to await the further orders of the Lord. It is then related, “and the Lord said unto Moses: The man shall surely he pat to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp. And all the congregation brought him without the camp and stoned him to death with stones: as Jehovah commanded Moses.” In spite of manifold texts like this there are persons who protest that they love this bloody, barbarous, tribal God of the Jews. The literature of the Alliance clearly indicates that its sponsors would follow this command of Jehovah at the present time if they could only have their way.
Dr. McQuilkin further tells us that the defenders of the day have often been too superficial in their contentions on behalf of this holy Sabbath; that they should soft-pedal the “thou shalt nots” and “we should thunder our ‘thou shalts’ into the ears of the foolish, wicked men who for the sake of pleasure or financial profit would rob their fellow men or themselves of the precious rest God had given them for the cultivation and nurture of their immortal souls.” “Such men,” he continues, “must be identified with murderers and suicides.” The common punishment for murder is death, and suicide is death, therefore Dr. McQuilkin, with the rest of his associates and with his God, believes in the death penalty for working or playing on the Sabbath.
How one involuntarily loves this righteous Dr. McQuilkin of Orange, New Jersey. He must be a man whose love and understanding oozes from every pore of his body. No doubt the people of Orange who are burdened with sorrow or sin bring their sore troubles and lay them on his loving breast. I am sure that little children in their grief rush to his outstretched arms for solace and relief.
The Reverend Doctor McQuilkin makes short work of the idea that you cannot make people good by law. In fact, that seems to him to be the only way to make them good. Therefore people and enterprises that commercialize Sundays by baseball games and moving pictures, who “whine about the impossibility of making people good by law, ought to go either to school or to jail.” Probably the pastor would be in favor of the Jail. The Reverend Doctor is very much exercised about his idea that the Sabbath should be spent in cultivating our “spiritual nature.” From the gentle and kindly character of the doctor’s utterances, one judges that he must spend several days a week cultivating his “spiritual nature.”
The godly doctor is indeed earnest about the church-going. He says, “God will surely bring us to judgment in the matter of staying away from church, for church attendance is a definite obligation, a debt which we owe to God.” The doctor has a naive way of mixing up himself and his private business affairs with the Lord.
Could it be possible that the Reverend Doctor McQuilkin’s serious case of rabies might be due to vacant pews? Such cases are related in the following extract from a very disheartening paragraph put out by the Lord’s Day Alliance in a folder entitled “Let’s Save Our American Christian Sabbath.”
A significant part of this falling away from old American ideals has been the neglect of the churches — life among Christian people dropping to a lower plane on Sunday. The lure of pleasure and the drift to seven-day slavery within a few years have utterly changed the character of the day. The, average attendance at Sunday morning services, taken for all the churches of New York State — counting large city churches as well as small country ones — has steadily dropped until it has now reached only fifty-three persons. This amounts to but little more than one-fourth of their total enrolled membership! The old days of tithes are gone. Lack of support is making the situation more and more critical and many churches have had to be abandoned. Is the church to survive? Are we to remain a Christian nation?
This is indeed distressing. I can well imagine the feeling of chagrin that steals over the parson when he talks to fifty persons on Sunday morning. Here are the few parishioners, solemn-visaged and sitting impatiently in their pews while a joyous crowd rolls by in automobiles on their road to hell. I cannot help thinking of the parson on a Sunday morning, telling the same story over and over again to his half hundred listeners.
I have seen this pastor and this congregation in the country church and the city church. What have they in common with the world today? Who are these faithful fifty? One-third of them, at least, are little boys and girls twisting and turning and yawning and fussing in their stiff, uncomfortable clothes, in the hard church pews. Then there are the usual fat old women, wearing their Sunday finery. Their faces are dull and heavy and altogether unlovely. They no longer think of the world; they are looking straight into space at the Promised Land. They hold a hymn book or a Bible in their time-worn hands. Perhaps there are ten full grown men in church; two or three of these look consumptive; one or two are merchants who think that being at church will help them sell prunes; the rest are old and tottering. It has been long years since a new thought or even an old one has found lodgment in their atrophied brains. They are, decrepit and palsied and done; so far as life and the world are concerned, they are already dead. One feels sympathetic toward the old. But why should the aged, who have lived their lives, grumble and complain about youth with its glow and ambition and hope? Why should they sit in the fading light and watch the world go by and vainly reach out their bony hands to hold it back?
Aside from the Lord’s Day Alliance’s way of appealing to the law to make people go to church, I can think of only two plans to fill the pews. First, to abandon a large number of the churches and give the parsons a chance to find some useful and paying job. Secondly, to get more up-to-date, human and intelligent preachers into the church pulpits.
The literature issued by the Alliance shows great concern about Sunday newspapers. These papers consume a great deal of valuable time on the Sabbath Day. They are in no way the proper literature for Sunday reading. Automobile trips, too, are an abomination on the Sabbath. One pamphlet records approval of the conduct of the “venerable” John D. Paton who even refused to use street-cars on Sunday while visiting America. He kept his appointments by long walks, sometimes even having to run between engagements. This sounds to me strangely like work. Still it might have been necessary in order to get the proper amount of oxygen gas.
Playing golf on Sunday is a sacrilegious practice. A whole leaflet is prepared by Dr. Jefferson on golf. “No one ought to play golf on Sunday. … The golf player may need oxygen but he should not forget his caddie.” The doctor calls our attention to the fact that men in the days of Moses were mindful of even the least of these. How our parsons do love Moses and his murderous laws! We are told that a caddie works, that it is not play to trudge after a golf ball with a bag of clubs on his back. The leaflets say that the caddie does not work on Sunday for fun but, for money, and it “isn’t a manly thing for the golf player to hire him to work on Sunday.” We are told that “there are now over one hundred thousand caddies on the golf links every Sunday. These caddies are making a living.” Of course this picture is pathetic. It is too bad that the Lord’s Day Alliance cannot get these hundred thousand caddies discharged. Then possibly some of them would go to Church on Sunday. They might even drop a nickel in the contribution box.
Does anyone believe that if the caddies were offered the same money for going to church that they get for hunting golf balls they would choose the church? It takes a bright boy to be a caddie.
The caddies do not inspire all the tears; we are told that Chauffeurs and railroad employees are necessary to take the players to and from the golf links. This is no doubt true. Still, we have even seen chauffeurs sitting in automobiles outside a Church where they had driven their employers to get their souls saved. On our suburban railroads there are many trains put in service on Sunday to take people to and from church, but these have not come under the ban of the Lord’s Day Alliance. Its complaint is that so few trains are needed for this blessed work.
There is some logic in this folder. We are told that “if golf is allowable on Sunday, then, so is tennis, baseball basketball, football, bowling and all other games which our generation is fond of.” “You can’t forbid one without forbidding the others,” says the Alliance. We heartily agree with the Reverend Doctor on this particular question.
No one needs to go to ball games or movies or play golf on Sunday unless he wants to spend his time that way. I have never seen anybody who objected to the members of the Lord’s Day Alliance or any others from abstaining from all kinds of work and all sorts of play and every method of enjoyment on Sunday.
Dr. Robert E. Speer of Englewood, New Jersey, is very definite and specific as to the proper way to spend Sunday and the sort of recreation man should naturally enjoy on this holy day. Dr. Speer, says, “God wants the worship of the Lord’s Day and he wants us to have the indispensable comforts and pleasure of It.” One would think that Dr. Speer got daily messages from God. “We need the day for meditation and prayer and plans for better living.” No one questions the good doctor’s right to satisfy his needs in such way as seems necessary and pleasurable for him. All that I contend for is that I, too, shall decide these questions for myself.
Dr. Speer says:
There are some things deadly in their power to spoil it (referring to the Sabbath). One is the Sunday newspapers. I pass by all that may be denounced as defiling in it. … There is harm enough in its “wallow of secularity.” … Look at the men who feed their minds and souls on Sunday with this food. They miss the calm and holy peace, the glowing divinity of the day.
It is just conceivable that one might read a Sunday newspaper and still have time for “the glowing divinity of the day,” to glow long enough to satisfy every desire.
Dr. Speer condemns those who berate the quality of the sermons preached on Sunday and informs us that the wisest man can learn something from the poorest preacher, although he neglects to say Just what. He tells us that a country preacher’s sermon is superior to the country editor’s writings or the country lawyer’s speeches. This may be true. It is, at all events, true to Dr. Speer and there is no reason in the world why he should not hunt up the “poorest Preacher” that he can find and listen to him on every Sunday. No doubt Dr. Speer might learn something from him.
Dr. Speer disapproves of riding on railroad trains on Sunday if it can be avoided. “Certainly no one should take long railroad journeys on Sunday.” He tells us, “Sunday golf, newspapers, and all that sort of thing are bad and weakening in their influence. There are particular evidence of the trend of the man who thus abandons his birthright.” The doctor is more definite in his beautiful picture of just what one ought to do on the Sabbath Day. On this subject he says:
I do not believe that anyone who grew up in a truly Christian home in which the old ideas prevailed can have any sympathy with this modern abuse of the old-fashioned observance of Sunday. There, on Sunday, the demands of the week were laid aside. The family gathered over the Bible and the Catechism. There was a quiet calm through the house. Innumerable things rendered it a marked day, as distinct from other days, and probably it ended with a rare walk with the father at the son’s side and some sober talk over what is abiding and what is of eternal worth.
We could hazard a guess that the reason that the mother was not present on this joyful occasion was because she was at home washing the dishes from a big Sunday dinner that she had prepared.
It is entirely possible that Dr. Speer’s picture of the ideal Sabbath is a good picture. Doubtless it is good to him. Still, hidden in my mind and recalled by Dr. Speer’s alluring language, is the memory of his ideal Presbyterian Sunday. This was a day of unmitigated pain. No spirit or life or joy relieved the boredom and torture of the endless hours. The day meant misery to all the young. Even now I can feel the blank despair that overcame youth and hope as we children left our play on Saturday night and sadly watched the sun go down and the period of gloom steal across the world. Why should Dr. Speer and the other dead seek to force that sort of a Sabbath upon men and women who want to take in their oxygen gas in the baseball bleachers, or the golf links?
From Dr. Speer’s picture of the ideal Sabbath I infer that he is a Presbyterian. This opinion has been confirmed by reference to Who’s Who. I find that for long years he has been a Presbyterian preacher, not only in America, but be has carried the blessed gospel even into China that the heathen of that benighted land might not live and die without the consoling knowledge of eternal hell.
Dr. Speer’s beautiful picture of the old-time Christian Sabbath describes “the family gathered over the Bible and the Catechism.” I, too, sat under the ministrations of a Presbyterian preacher and was duly instructed in the Westminster Catechism. In spite of the aversion and terror that its reference inspired, I took down the book to read once more the horrible creed of the twisted and deformed minds who produced this monstrosity which has neither sense, meaning, justice nor Mercy, but only malignant depravity. A devilish creed which shocks every tender sentiment of the human mind. I am inclined to think from their internal evidence that most of the sermonettes circulated by the Lord’s Day Alliance had their origin in the warped minds of the Presbyterian clergy. I would hazard a bet that the tender, gentle, loving Dr. McQuilkin is a Presbyterian I sought to confirm this belief by consulting Who’s Who, but found that the editors had stupidly left out his name. Still I am convinced that he is a Presbyterian.
In this ancient Westminster Catechism which few men read I quote question and answer number sixty:
Question: How is the Sabbath to be sanctified?
Answer: The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.
Small wonder that these croakers should seek to call children from joy and laughter to spend “the whole time in public and private exercises of God’s worship.” The wonder is not that these Divines should seek to place their palled hands upon the youth but that an intelligent people, who really do not worship a God of malignancy and hate, would ever let these lovers of darkness invade a legislative body. They have no more place in the sunlight and pure air than croaking frogs and hooting owls. Here is the first question and answer in this wondrous catechism:
Question: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.
What sort of a God is this in which these parsons believe? A God who can find no other work for man and no other use for the emotions that nature placed in him, except to spend his life in glorifying his maker? Imagine taking a child from play and the life and activity that nature has made necessary for its being, and seeking to make him understand something that no preacher can possibly comprehend.
Again, as to the simple nature of the Godhead, the catechism says: “There are three persons in the God-head; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” Imagine a family spending the whole Sabbath unravelling a mystery like this. It is evident that any child whose mind has been permanently twisted by this wondrous logic would later be found visiting legislative bodies and imploring them to pass laws to blot the sun from the sky on the Sabbath Day.
Here is Number 7:
Question: What are the decrees of God?
Answer: The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will, where-by, for His own glory, He has fore-ordained whatsoever comes to pass.
After the child had been made to thoroughly understand how to harmonize freedom and responsibility of man with the statement that God had foreordained whatever comes to pass, he might then on pain of hell tackle number 8:
Question: What is the work of creation?
Answer: The work of the creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by word of His power, in the space if six days, and all very good.
Any child could understand how God, as the catechism says, is a “spirit” and could make all things out of nothing, Himself included. God’s justice to man is lucidly explained in the Westminster Catechism which tells the Sabbath Day student that “the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit.”
Question 16 and answer make this a living issue:
Question: Did all mankind fall in Adam’s first transgression?
Answer: The covenant being made with Adam, not only for himself, but for his posterity, all mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him, in his first transgression.
The answer to the seventeenth question says: “The fall brought mankind into an estate of sin and misery.”
There are thousands of generations between the first man, if there ever was one, and the boy who likes activity and play on the Sabbath Day. Unless the boy is perverse and wicked he should understand the justice of being condemned to an estate of sin and misery because Adam made a covenant, not only for himself, but for all his posterity. It is not worth while to quote further from the Westminster Catechism. This brutal creed runs on for 107 questions and answers. And this is the shorter catechism!
It is amazing to think that any human being with ordinary intelligence would accept such doctrine now. It is still more amazing that in spite of the brazen effrontery of the Lord’s Day Alliance, legislative bodies should help to enforce such teaching upon the young. But even this is not sufficiently terrible for a Sabbath Day diversion. In answer to Question 19 we are told, “All mankind, by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.” Of coarse, no one would believe this today except on fear of eternal torture. Does the fear never enter the minds of those parsons that God might punish them eternally for believing that He is such a monster?
When one thinks of this organization with its senseless leaflets, its stern endeavors, its blank despair, its half-shut eyes blinking at life, one is reminded of the frogs in the green scum-covered pond in the woods who sit on their haunches in the dark and croak all day. No doubt these frogs believe that the germ infested pond is a sacred pool. They are oblivious of the rolling, living ocean that lies just beyond.
Dr. Speer, like the other members of the Lord’s Day Alliance, is very sure that one of the chief occupations of Sunday should be attending church. Bat what church, pray? We are informed that any preacher is better to listen to and read from than any Editor, lawyer or other person, Most of us have heard all sorts of preachers. We have listened to some whose churches could only be filled if the lard’s Day Alliance should succeed and make it an offense punishable by death not to go to church. We have heard preachers who had something to say and could say it well, There is as much difference in the views and ability of preachers as in other men. Would Dr. Speer think that we should go to hear the Fundamentalists or the Unitarians? Should we listen to the Holy Rollers or the Modernists?
There are few men outside of the Lord’s Day Alliance who would care to listen to their favorite preacher for a full day and there are few preachers who would undertake to talk for a whole day. What, then, must one do for the rest of the time? One simply cannot sleep all day on Sunday.
In all this literature we are constantly urged to preserve our “American Sabbath.” Is there any special holiness that lurks around an “American Sabbath”? Are not European Christians as competent to determine the right way to employ their time on Sundays as American Christians? The Lord’s Day folk say that reading the Sunday newspapers, playing golf, riding in automobiles, and witnessing baseball games and movies is “un-American.” This compound word has been used to cover a multitude of sins. What it means nobody knows. It is bunkum meant to serve every cause, good and bad alike. By what license does the Lord’s Day Alliance call its caricature of Sunday an “American Sabbath?” On what grounds does it urge it as against the European Sabbath? Is this nightmare which the Lord’s Day Alliance is so anxious to force upon the United States a product of America? Everyone knows that Sunday, with the rest of the Christian religion, came to us from Europe. The weird ideas of the Lord’s Day Alliance are European. When and how it came to us is worth finding out.
Jesus and His disciples did not believe in the Jewish Sabbath. They neither abstained from work nor play. St. Paul, specially, condemned the setting apart of days and said to his disciples, “Ye observe days and months and times and years. I am afraid of ye lest I have bestowed upon ye labor in vain.”
The early fathers did not approve of any such day as the Lord’s Day Alliance insists shall be fastened upon America. St. Jerome and his group attended church services on Sunday, but otherwise pursued their usual occupations. St. Augustine calls Sunday a festal day and says that the Fourth Commandment is in no literal sense binding upon Christianity. Even Luther and Calvin enjoined no such a day upon the Christians as these moderns wish to fasten upon America that the churches may be filled. The righteous John Knox “played bowls” on Sunday, and in his voluminous preaching used no effort to make Sunday a day of gloom wherein people should abstain from work and play. It was not until 1595 that an English preacher of Suffolk first insisted that the Jewish Sabbath should be maintained. The controversy over this question lasted for a hundred years and resulted in a law proscribing every kind of Sunday recreation, even “vainly and profanely walking for pleasure.” England Soon reacted against this blue Sabbath and permitted trading, open theaters and frivolity in the afternoon and evening. Under the leadership of the Church of England the Sabbath no longer was a day of gloom and despair.
The real American Sabbath was born in Scotland after the death of John Knox. It fits the stern hills, the bleak moors and, the unfriendly climate of this northern land. It was born of fear and gloom and it lives by fear and gloom. Early in the Seventeenth Century, Scotland adopted this stern theory of the Jewish Sabbath and applied it ruthlessly. The Westminster Confession was adopted by the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland in 1647 and has remained the formal standard of faith to the present day. Ordinary recreations were disallowed. Books and music were forbidden except such as were recognized as religious in a narrow sense. No recreation but whiskey-drinking remained, This Presbyterian Sabbath of Scotland was brought to New England by the early settlers of America and is, in fact, a Scotch Sabbath — not an American Sabbath.
Even in spite of the natural gloom and cold of Scotland, Sunday strictness has been greatly modified there in the last fifty years. It is not the present Scotch Sabbath that these modern Puritans insist on forcing upon America. It is the old, ferocious, Scotch Sabbath of the Westminster Confession. It was brought from a land of gloom into a land of sunshine, and the Lord’s Day Alliance prefers the gloom and hardness of this outworn, out-lived Scotch Sabbath to the sunshine and joy that comes with a fertile soil, a mild climate and natural human emotions.
It is almost unbelievable that a handful of men without reason or humanity, should be able to force their cruel dogmas upon the people. Not one in twenty of the residents of the United States believes in the Sabbath of the Lord’s Day Alliance. Our cities, villages, and even country districts, protest against the bigotry and intolerance of the lard’s Day. Alliance and their kind. Still in spite of this, by appeal to the obsolete statutes, religious prejudice, crass ignorance and unfathomable fanaticism, they carry on their mighty campaign of gloom.
After long years of effort, with the lazy, cowardly public that does not want to be disturbed, the Legislature of New York, in the face of the opposition of the Lord’s Day Alliance, managed to pass a law providing that incorporated cities and towns should have the right to legalize baseball games and moving picture shows on Sunday after two o’clock in the afternoon and charge an admission fee for seeing the entertainment. Why after two o’clock? The answer is perfectly plain: It is possible that someone might be forced into church in the morning if there was nowhere else to go. Were the hours after two o’clock any less sacred in the laws of Moses and the Prophets than the hours before two o’clock? Or was Legislature induced to pass this law simply to give the minister a privilege that it grants to no one else?
Ours is a cosmopolitan country, made up of all sorts of people with various creeds. There should be room enough to allow each person to spend Sunday and every other day according to his own pleasure and his own profit. In spite of the Lord’s Day Alliance and all other alliances, it is too late in the history of the world to bring back the Mosaic Sabbath. Regardless of their best endeavors it will probably never again be a crime punishable by death to work or play on what they are pleased to call the Lord’s Day. Those ministers who have something to say that appeals to men and women will be able to make themselves heard without a law compelling people to go to church. If the Lords Day Alliance can provide something equally attractive to compete with the Sunday newspapers, golf, baseball games, movies and the open air, they will get the trade. If they cannot provide such entertainment, then in spite of all their endeavors the churches will be vacant. It is time that those who do not believe in intolerance, but in freedom, should make themselves heard in no uncertain way. It is time that men should determine to defend their right to attend to their own affairs and live their own lives, regardless of the bigots who in all ages have menaced the welfare of the world and the liberty of man.