W hat I believe to be genuine and authentic the collected publications of William Colenso



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[20] into any other day, as we see need, or may make every tenth day holy-day only, if we see cause why. Neither was there any cause to change it from the Saturday, but to put a difference between us and the Jews. Neither need we any holy-day at all, if the people might be taught without it.”—

Thus, also, Luther says,—in his usual stirring impulsive way, which made men say “that his words were half-battles, that they had hands and feet.” He says:—

As for the Sabbath or Sunday, there is no necessity for its observance. And if we do so, the reason ought to be, not because Moses commanded it, but because Nature likewise teaches us to give ourselves, from time to time, a day’s rest, in order that man and beast may recruit their strength, and that we may go and hear the word of God preached.” And elsewhere he writes:— “Keep the Sabbath holy for its use both to body and soul. But, if anywhere the day is made holy for the mere day’s sake,—if anywhere anyone sets up its observance upon a Jewish foundation,—then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it, to do anything that shall remove this encroachment on the Christian spirit and liberty.” Again he says:— “For only faith in God, and love toward our neighbour, are necessarily required, all other things are free;—so that we may freely observe them for one man’s sake, and omit them for another man’s sake, as we shall perceive it to be profitable to everyone.—We see the same example commonly in Christ, but specially Matt. 12 and Mark 2, where we read that he suffered his disciples to break the Sabbath, and he himself also, when the case so required, did break it, when it was otherwise he did keep it, whereof be gave this reason,—The son of man is lord even of the Sabbath. Which is as much as to say,—the Sabbath is free, that thou niayest break it for one man’s sake and commodity, and for the sake and commodity of another thou mayest keep it.”



Melancthon, also, says:— “The Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath, sincc it teaches that after the revelation of the Gospel all the Mosaic Ceremonies may be neglected.”

And so Calvin.— “In this way we get rid of the trifling of the false prophets, who in later times instilled Jewish ideas into the people, alleging that nothing was abrogated but what was ceremonial in the commandment, while the moral part remains, viz., the observance of one day in seven.” We also read of Calvin, that,— “on one occasion when good John Knox paid him a visit on Sunday afternoon, he found the holy man enjoying a game at bowls.”

And the Homily of the Church of England, “on the place and time of prayer,” contains these words:—

“Albeit this commandment of God doth not bind Christian people so straitly to observe and keep the utter ceremonies of the Sabbath-day, as it was given to the Jews, as touching the forbearing of work and labor in time of great necessity, and as touching the precise keeping of the seventh day, after the manner of the Jews. — — — — Yet, notwithstanding, whatsover is found in the commandment appertaining to the Law of Nature, as a thing most godly, most just, and needful for the setting forth of God’s glory, it ought to be retained and kept of all good Christian people.”

Mr Sidey, in his published sermon (already referred to), says — “The right keeping of the Sabbath has always been a distasteful thing to men of a despotic spirit, and many have been the expedients to which they have resorted to prevent it. In no one of these have they shewn greater skill to hinder liberty and intelligence, and those conditions of society which tended to conscientiousness, than in the conversion of the Sabbath into a day of pastime. Charles I. proclaimed the “Book of Sports “ to reconcile the English people to their distresses. (Sic!) By this they were required to spend the lorge part of the day in amusements, and those who complied with the edict were specially rewarded for so doing, while those who refused wore subjected to pains and penalties. In this work he was powerfully helped by Laud, if he was not directed to it by this prelate, for reasons [21] of a kindred character (I have quoted this at full length, as I intend to cut it up, to shew how easily things are twisted to suit purposes!)

On the foregoing statements of Mr Sidey I would remark—(1) that Mr Sidey is a wee bit wrong in his English History (both civil and ecclesiastical), as well as his chronology; and (2) also, in several of his severe and unfounded charges; and (3) as a matter of course in his conclusions therefrom.

(1) For it was not King Charlos I, who issued and proclaimed “the Book of Sports”—but his father, King James I., a Scotsman, and a countryman of Mr Sidey’s!—who issued it in 1618; at which time Laud was quietly and unobtrusively living at his college, St. John’s, Oxford; and had nothing to do with it. Moreover, it should not be overlooked, that James himself, a Presbyterian, when King of Scotland, (only a few years before,) actually wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth in behalf of two Presbyterian English ministers, whom he considerad rather hardly treated.

(2) And what does King James say?— “For his good people’s lawful recreation, his pleasure was, that, after the end of Divine Service, they should not be disturbed, letted, or discouraged from any lawfu1 recreations; such as dancing either of men or women; archery for men, leaping, vaulting, or any such harmless recreations; nor from having of Maygames, Whitsunales, or Morris-dances, and setting up of Maypoles, or other sports therewith used, so as the same be had in due and convenient time, without impediment or let of Divine Service; and that women should have leave to carry rushes to the church for the decoring of it, according to their old custom; withal prohibiting all unlawful games to be used on the Sundays only, as bear-baiting, bull-baiting, interludes, and bowling.”—

Now I cannot understand why Mr Sidey should say— “the English people were required to spend the large part of the day in amusement;” there is nothing of the kind in the King’s injunction.

Again: Mr Sidey says, “those who complied were rewarded, those who refused, suffered” —that, however, does not appear from the State paper and I also find, from Church History, that while there was more or less of arguments for and against, and many fears among the ministers of that period, as to their being obliged to read the said Royal Declaration in their several churches,— “That, after so long and so much talking,— — —their own fear proved at last their only foe; the King’s goodness taking away the subject of their jealousy so that no minister was enjoined to read the book in his parish, wherewith they had so affrighted themselves.”

(3) Further,—I cannot conceive how Mr Sidey could have written, that such a declaration on the part of the King, was done “to hinder liberty, and intelligence:” for, it seems to me, viewing English society as it was then, to be wholly and altogether the other way!

Let us just briefly see what the Historian says about it; how was that peculiar edict brought about; how came it to pass?

In 1616, King James visited his native country Scotland. And the quaint old Church Historian Fuller, (no friend of the High-Church, or Laudian, party,) writes:— “King James, having, last year, in his progress passed through Lancashire, took notice, that by the preciseness of some magistrates and ministers, in several places of his kingdom, in hindering people from their recreations on the Sunday, the papists in this realm being thereby persuaded that no honest mirth or recreation was tolerable in our religion. Whereupon, May 14th, the Court being then at Greenwich, he set forth his Declaration” (given above). And then,—after noticing several arguments in use, both for and against it,—he goes on to say:— “However, there wanted not many, both in Lancashire and elsewhere who conceived the Declaration came forth seasonably, to suppress the dangerous endeavour of such who now began in their pulpits to broach the dregs of Judaism, and force Christians to drink them. So that those legal ceremonies, long since dead, buried, and rotten in the grave of our Saviour, had [22] now their ghosts, as it were, walking; frightening such people with their terrible apparitions, who were persuaded by some preachers to so rigorous observation of the Sabbath, that therein it was unlawful to dress meat, sweep their houses, kindle their fires, or the like. Yea, and in Lancashire especially the Romanists made advantage of this strictness to pervert many to popery, persuading them, that the Protestant religion was one where no lawful liberty was allowed. And no wonder if many common people were hereby fetched off unto them; ‘starting aside as a broken bow,’ chiefly because overbent for lack of lawful recreation.”— So, we may perceive, that the Judaizing Sabbatarians and precisians were really the cause of all this!

Fifteen years after, viz., a.d. 1633—King Charles was obliged to republish his Father’s Declaration; but on this second occasion (Laud being now Archbishop), our Historian says,— “there was no express mention in this Declaration that the Minister of the Parish should be pressed to the publishing of it;”—which, however, was in that of King James. As before, so now: the Sabbatarian sect being the sole cause of it (as may be read at large in Church History). Our Historian says:— “Now (a.d.1633) the Sabbatarian controversy began to be revived, which broke forth into a long and hot contention. Bradborn, a minister of Suffolk, began it, setting forth a book entitled, ‘A Defence of the Sabbath-day:’ maintaining therein, 1. The 4th Commandment simply and entirely moral. 2. Christians, as well as Jews, obliged to the everlasting observation of that day. 3. That the Lords day is an ordinary working-day. The Bishop of Ely was employed by his Majesty to confute Mr Bradborn’ erroneous opinion.—And Mr Bradborn, perceiving the unsoundness of his own principles, became a convert, conforming himself quietly to the Church of England.”

Just in this juncture of time (a.d. 1634) a Declaration for Sports, set forth the fifteenth of King James, was revived and enlarged. “For, his Majesty, being troubled with Petitions on both sides thought good to follow his father’s royal example— — — — —It was charged on the Archbishop of Canterbury (Laud), at his trial, that he had caused the reviving and enlarging of this Declaration. He denied it, yet professing his judgment for recreations on that day, alleging the practice of the Church at Geneva allowing shooting in longbows, &c., thereon; adding also, that, though indulging liberty to others, in his own person he strictly observed that day.” It further appears, “that the Church of Geneva went about to remove the observance of the Sabbath to Thursday; but, it seems, it was carried in the negative.”

This “Declaration,” or “Book of Sports,” (on which, owing to Mr Sidey, I have been obliged to dwell,) must not for a moment be judged of by us, or compared with our manners and customs in the present day; save as to its principles: these are sound. We have seen that Calvin himself played at bowls for recreation on “the Sabbath;” and that the Church at Geneva (John Knox’s own) allowed of archery, etc.—

I perfectly understand Mr Sidey’s last words (quoted by me),—but as they have a meaning somewhat foreign to my subject, I let them pass.

(3. Modern.)

I particularly note Mr Sidey’s phraseology— “the right keeping of the Sabbath.” I fear, however, that Mr Sidey means by those words almost the very opposite of what I should mean by them;— aye, of what the Reformers and the Primitive Church, the Apostles and Jesus himself, meant by them as I have endeavoured to show.

In stating what I believe Mr Sidey to mean, I have no need to go back to those times of James and of Charles, to fetch the precise doings of the Sabbatarians of those days. I will just show, (1) from first and unimpeached Scottish testimony, what a wretched thing the strict keeping of the Sabbath in Scotland was, in the last century; and is still, I fear, in not a few benighted places. —First, however, ob- serving, that the Presbyterian Church of Scotland lays down the law in its “ Shorter Catechism,” that— [23]

“The Sabbath is to be sanctifted 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 the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.” And it goes on further to declare, that— “The 4th Commandment forbiddeth the omission or careless performance of the duties required, and the profaning the day by idleness, or doing that which is in itself sinful, or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about our worldly employments or recreations.”

In that Church a Decree was passed so lately as June 7, 1709, in the following terms:—

“The General Meetings of the Kirk-sessions of Edinburgh, taking to their serious consideration that the Lord’s-day is profaned, by people’s standing in the streets, and vaging [strolling] to fields and gardens and to the Castle-hill, as also by standng idle gazing out of windows,... and finding that there are divers acts for preventing the profanation of the Lord’s-day; therefore the General Sessions do resolve to see to the execution of these good acts, — — — and do seriously exhort parents and masters of families, to keep their children and servants within doors upon that holy day, and to take care that all belonging to them do sanctify the same, and punctually attend the public worship of God; with notification, that notice will be taken of such as shall be found transgressing, and they called before the Kirk-Session and censured for the same, and, if they do not amend, they will be referred to the Civil Magistrate to be punished.”

One of those “good acts,” to which this document refers, was probably that passed in 1705, “against the Profanation of the Lord’s Day,” wherein— “taking into their serious consideration the great frequency of the offence, by multitudes of people walking idly upon the streets of the city of Edinburgh, the Pier and Shore of Leith, in St. Ann’s Yards, and the Queen’s Park,——and being deeply sensible of the great dishonour done to the Holy God, and of the open contempt of God and Man manifested by such heaven-daring profaneness, to the exposing of the nation to the heaviest judgments, —therefore they do in the fear of God earnestly exhort all the reverend brethren, &c., to contribute their utmost endeavours in their stations for suppressing such gross profanation of the Lord’s Day, by a vigorous and impartial, yet prudent, exercise of the discipline of the Church.”

It has been well-observed on the foregoing, and therefore I quote it here:— “If those Inquisitors had been in authority at Jerusalem when our Lord Jesus Christ ‘vaged’ through the cornfields on the Sabbath, they undoubtedly would not only have accused his disciples, as the Pharisees did, of profaning the sacred day by plucking the ears of corn and rubbing them in their hands, but would have outdone that most strict of Jewish sects, by denouncing both him and his followers as Sabbath-breakers, on the score of the ‘vaging’itself,”

And, again, by the same author:— “Those who know the dark and filthy ‘closes’ of Edinburgh, as they are even in these days of sanitary reform, may judge how far the laws of health could be observed by persons confined all day with no better recreation than theological reading and Sunday ‘tasks,’ to dark, ill-aired houses, in localities so filthy. Above all, think of the imprisoned children, thus trained to glorify God, and to delight in His Service!—impatient wretches, deprived of the lively exercise to which Nature impels the young for their good,—withdrawn from the solar light, so conducive to their healthy growth, and reduced by indigestion, ennui, discontent, and the horrors of the Catechism, to an extremity of peevishness and disobedience,—which their tormented parents deplore as unquestionable symptoms of the corruption of human nature, brought into the world by the Fall, and of the evil instigation of the arch-enemy of mankind!” (Cox, Sabbath Laws, &c.)

A few years before that time last mentioned, it was ordered by the Town Conoil of Edinburgh, (apparently with reference to Nehemiah 13. 19,) that— “to the [24] effect, people may be restrained from vaging abroad upon the Sabbath, none be suffered to come in or out at any of the ports of this burgh from the Saturday at night till the Monday at morning, nor be found vaging in the streets, or repairing to the Castle-hill of this burgh, under the pain of imprisonment, and farther punishment of their persons at the will of the magistrate.” And, when it was also ordered, that the public wells should be closed on Sunday from 8 a.m. till noon, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.,— “none to bring any greater vessels to the wells for carrying of water, than a pint stoup or a pint bottle upon the Lord’s Day.” (Cox, loc.cit.)

Here some one may say,— “That was a century and half ago! and even in Scotland things are changed very much for the better since then. In England, happy England! there are no laws which forbid ‘vaging’ on Sunday; and here in Napier, we have very little of this.” Bide a wee,—is my reply; you shall hear and know more yet, shewing, that this crying evil, this remnant of Judaism or worse, this Sabbatarian superstition is still seeking to impede the progress of the physical, moral, and religious welfare of the whole community.

(2) I will now show what more recently, some of the best ministers of the Scotch Kirk have said about it.—

The Rev. W.C. Smith a minister of the Free Church, in a speech at Edinburgh, November 10, 1865,—on their miserable “observanc of the Sabbath,”—says:— “No street lamps were allowed to be lighted on the darkest Sunday nights, because it was held that nobody had any right to be out of doors at such hours. The Assembly forbade any person taking a walk on the Sabbath, or looking out of a window and therefore all the blinds were pulled down; and there is great reason to fear that the spurious conscience thus created indemnified itself all the gnats it was forced to strain at, by swallowing a variety of camels. No one who knows anything of those days,—with their universal smuggling and their universal lying,—will place much reliance on the law of constraint which was substituted for the law of conscience.

But I have also the testimony of a more widely-known man and eminent minister of the Established Church of Scotland, the late Dr Norman M’Leod, with reference to the actual present state of the Sabbatarian question in Scotland. His words are of more weight, because they were addressed by him to a body of the Ministers of his own Church,—many of whom however, as a matter of course opposed him. Dr M’Leod first shows, that though professing to keep the Sunday strictly as a Sabbath, and solemnly enjoining their hearers to keep it, in obedience to the 4th Commandment, they did not really do this themselves! He says:—

“We do not keep the day.... we do not attempt to keep it, even in regard to work. Our servants and our ministers all do what no person living under the 4th Commandment would have dared to have done. This is simply a notorious fact. What effect has this? I think it has this effect, very strongly, of weakening morality. I think this course a most dangerous one. You are laying burdens upon the shoulders of the people that they cannot bear. You are training men up to one of the worst habits, that of believing in their consciences that a thing is wrong, and yet making it so that they are constrained to do it.”

But besides this “weakening of Morality,”—this sense of a discrepancy between the doctrine solemnly taught from the pulpit and in Catechizing, and the actual practice of the teacher himself, when a great convenience is treated by him as a necessity,—this divine proceeds to speak of the direct evils, which have followed from the efforts still made to maintain the Sabbatarian system in the Church of Scotland. He goes on to say:—

— “The 4th Commandment has produced in our country notorious Judaism—Judaism of the worst description, for which I have no respect whatever. Look at the Judaism of the nineteenth century; look at it, for example, in some parts of our own country in the north. I challenge [25] any Free Church Minister that he would dare to be seen using a razor and a brush on Sunday morning. He would not dare to do it. — — — There is this slavery to the letter over a great part of the country. The clergy themselves have become slaves: they have forged their own chains, from which they cannot escape. They have done so, I think, with honesty, drilling the people in the 4th Commandment and its details, until they are now in a position from which they cannot emancipate themselves, — — — But is this Judaism confined to different parts of the country? No: I think you see much of it in our own town, I grant you that there is freedom expressed in the sentiments that have been uttered to-day, which people would not have dared to have uttered twenty years ago: but I think that this is owing in a great measure to the freedom in Church-matters of Christian laymen, who are not so bound as we are. Let us be thankful for it. But I think that there is a vast deal of what I am complaining of in our City of Glasgow. What can be more Judaical than the stringent rules that are sometimes laid down? You may go and hear the organ or any musical instrument in the church; yet you dare not use the same instrument in the house. Then again, in regard to “walking on Sunday,”—I ask you what sentiments with some prevail! I myself lately mentioned, in a speech about a north park for Glasgow, that I thought on Sunday evening the people might walk out. This was commented upon, and, I must say, what was uttered made me, I might almost say, tremble for the condition we are in in Scotland, and think that we are standing on the edge of a slippery precipice,—that consequences may ensue of which men are not aware, as a resistance against such ignorance and such cruelty — — — What did the General Assembly itself dare to say, in a pastoral address within my own memory, in 1834, when it spoke of ‘walking’ on Sunday, as ‘an impious encroachment on one of the inalienable prerogatives of the Lord’s Day?’ This is what I call Judaism.”—

When a minister of the Scotch Kirk can speak thus freely in the ears of brethren, it is a sign that a great change has passed already over the thoughts and feelings of that Church,—that light is beginning to break, upon this, as upon other subjects, on the eyes of intelligent Christians in Scotland.—

Of course, the larger part of the Presbytery present at that meeting, were against him; but some expressed sentiments on that occasion, which shows that a great departure had already taken place in pious minds in that country from the rigidity and strictness of the old Scotch system.

Thus one said: — “The municipal authorities of Glasgow, the responsible guardians of the working-classes, while they have of late years provided, in their spacious parks, a lounge during weekdays for the rich, have wisely and befittingly intended these also, as an innocent resort for the working-man and his family, when the Sabbath services of the day are over. And, if he be faithful in worshipping his God in the temple of grace, I for one delight to see him quietly and decorously ending his summer day in the vestibule of Nature.”—

Another said:— “I am not here to forbid, even if I could forbid, and I am glad that I cannot, the hard-wrought mechanic to get away from the very sight of the smoky scenes of his daily toil, and to enjoy the air, and the sunlight, and the joy of the fair earth. I am glad to meet, as I often do, pale-faced men and women, with their children in their arms or toddling by their side, on a Sabbath afternoon; for I know they are likely to go home more thankful, and cheerful, and good, than if they had been shut up all the day in some small apartment, opening off from a dirty common stair,”—

And a third observed:— “One would suppose from the way he (Dr. MeLeod) spoke, that the people were in such terror of the 4th Commandment, that they dared not breathe the fresh air on the Sabbath evening,—that they were compelled to sit in their ill-ventilated houses, and not daring, from fear of this hated statute, to [26] go to the door. There may have been the time when this was the case in Glasgow, and there may be some parts of the country in which this is the case still. But, if anyone sees the Green on a Sabbath evening, or the Dennistown suburb, or the West- End Park he will see quite enough to satisfy him that the 4th Commandment exercises no such power over the people. and that this is only a dream of the imagination.”

I have thus quoted, rather largely for my space, what that eminent and liberal-minded man, Dr. McLeod, and a few of the more intelligent at that meeting of Presbytery said, with reference to the great question of “Sabbath Observance;”—hoping that some of my good Presbyterian friends,—or readers of these lines,—may he the more inclined to heed what some of the best of their own ministers have said upon it. And, further, to those who may wish to know a little more of Dr. Norman McLeod’s sentiments on this important subject, I would say,—Read (if you have not already done so) his little interesting work called the Starling, where you will find what bigotry did in Scotland, (wearing, of course, as she always does, a truly righteous and orthodox dress!) in putting a right good and true Christian man—an elder, too!—out of the Church, merely because he simply hung ant a little cage containing the poor bird of his only bairn (lately deceased) on the old nail by the side of his door on the Sabbath! I very early got a copy of that book by Mail, which I lent to Sir Donald McLean. and I shall not readily forget how very much he was taken with it, nor his sensible words to me respecting it,—the story being so true, to the very life! The book should have a place in all our country Libraries.

3. And lest anyone here enjoying liberty—away from the Old Country—should think, or say, that, Times are altered there now; that the Sabbatarian superstition is dead; I will further shew what a small benighted party there, at present, are even now attempting!—By this last English mail I have received an account of the unsufferable insolence of a small party in Scotland, calling themselves “the Sabbath alliance;” which speaks volumes, and which clearly unfolds what some (with liberty and conscience in plenty on their tongues) mean as to “the right keeping of the Sabbath.”

Sabbath Desecration in Scotland.—The annual meeting of the Sabbath Alliance was held in Edinburgh, on June 20. The Rev. Dr Robertson, who presided, said, they could not shut their eyes to the fact that Sabbath desecration was increasing among the people. — — — From the Report it appeared that the North British Railway Company ran twice as many passenger trains on Sabbath, as all the other Scotch companies together. — — — The report went on to say,— ‘Some special incidents took place in the course of the past year which caused considerable anxiety and pain to many Christian people in Scotland. During the Queen’s visit in September to Loch Maree, SHE and the Princess Beatrice, the Duchess of Roxburgh, and other members of the suite, were conveyed on the Sabbath across the loch in a six-oared boat to the Isle Maree, where a considerable time was spent. — — — it was gratifying to the committee to be informed, that the boatmen who usually ply on the loch refused to go, and that the hotel-keeper had been obliged to employ his own servants also, that the worthy innkeeper at Auchnasheen had refused to send, or even to convey letters to Loch Maree on the Lord’s Day. Your committee feel they would be guilty of a dereliction of duty were they to withhold their protest against such proceedings. — — — They cannot but feel deeply-grieved that the Royal Family should so frequently manifest disregard for the sacred day of rest.” The Report then mentioned the arrival of the Prince of Wales at Hamilton Palace on Sunday, the 13th of January last, as another instance of Sabbath desecration. The Rev. G. Philip, Edinburgh, in moving the adoption of the Report, said, that there was a great deal of desecration of the Sabbath, not only by glaring acts, [27] such as those mentioned, but by idleness—that was shewn on Sabbaths by the number of persons seen standing idly on the streets. The Report was adopted,— — — the meeting considering that the principles of Sabbath observance were intimately connected with the prosperity of the country.”

How strongly this reminds us of those Pharisees of old, who said,— “This man is not of God because he keepeth not the Sabbath day.” (John 9. 16.) Those men should have the rough and ready old Scotch King, James I. (already mentioned), her Majesty’s ancestor, to deal with them and teach them common manners, and not a quiet Lady like our present gracious Queen. (Vide the conference at Hampton Court before King James I., a.d. 1604.)

I say, therefore, that if such—or anything like it—is what Mr Sidey means by “the right keeping of the Sabbath,”— then I have no hesitation in saying, rather than that, I would prefer to see King James’ “Declaration and Book of Sports” again republished with authority among us; or see the Sunday kept at Napier as it is generally on the Continent.

It is a curious thing, and worthy of a passing notice, that throughout the whole world of Christians of various churches and denominations, three little Highland countries are at present given to the Sabbatarian superstition! Ethiopia, Armenia, and Scotland. At this very day in the Highlands of Ethiopia there is a so-called Christian Kingdom, dating back from a very early age, where both days are kept in the same manner and with equal strictness, the seventh day and the first,—the Sabbath of the Jews and the Lord’s day of the Christians. And in the mountains of Armenia, we find another church, the Nestorian, in which, as a modern traveller says:— “The Sabbath is regarded with a sacredness among the mountain tribes, which I have seen among no other Christians of the East. I have repeatedly been told by Nestorians of the plain, that their brethren in the mountains would immediately kill a man, for travelling or labouring on the Sabbath; and there is abundant reason to believe that this was formerly done, though it has ceased since the people have become acquainted with the practice of Christendom on the subject.” (Prof. Baden Powell, Christianity without Judaism.)

I fancy that great civiliser, Steam, whether by water or by land—as the “iron horse,” will work wonders, ere long, in the way of opening the eyes of our Northern Countrymen, and help to cure them of this debasing superstition.

But do not mistake me; for in thus writing I am well aware of the existence of a branch of the Sabbatarian party in England, although it is but a very small, and (I hope) a daily lessening one. We know with what painful strictness the Sabbatical view of the Sunday has been carried out in several excellent families, often with the most serious detriment to the religious life of the children; while the general effect upon ordinary persons, of the graver and more decent sort, though not themselves professing to be more especially religious, has been truly and painfully described by the celebrated Mr Wilberforce (Practical Views of Christianity,) as follows:— “The Sunday is, to say the best of it, a heavy day; and that larger part of it, which is not claimed by the public offices of the Church, dully draws on in comfortless vacuity, or, without improvement, is trifled away in vain and unprofitable discourse. — — — — — How little do many seem to enter into the spirit of the institution, who are not wholly inattentive to its exterior decorums! How glad are they to qualify the rigour of their religious labours! How hardly do they plead against being compelled to devote the whole of the day to religion, claiming to themselves no small merit for giving up to it a part, and purchasing, therefore, as they hope, a right to spend the remainder more agreeably!— — — Even business itself is recreation compared to religion; and from the drudgery of this day of sacred rest, they fly for relief to their ordinary occupations.” [28]

A few years ago some of the Bishops of the Church of England addressed a circular letter to the Directors of the English Railway Companies, calling upon them to put a stop to the practice of sending out “Excursion Trains” on Sundays.—Seeking thus to debar their poorer brethren, who have no means of escaping from the crowded towns on the week-day, from any access, with their wives and families, to the blessings of the country, brought now within their reach by God’s good gift of railways; where they might see the wonders of God in creation and feel the soothing influences of Nature, when perhaps the voice of the preacher may have failed to reach them? Here the lines of one of our great English poets (Southey) seem so very applicable that I cannot help quoting them.—

Go thou and seek the House of Prayer!
I to the woodlands bend my way,
And meet Religion there!
She need not haunt the high-arched dome to pray,
Where storied windows dim the doubtful day;
With liberty she loves to rove
Wide o’er the heathy hill or cowslip’d dale,
Or seek the shelter of the embowering grove,
Or with the streamlet wind along the vale.

And just so, again, another great poet of our own day (Tennyson),—

And forth into the fields I went,
And Nature’s living motion lent
The pulse of hope to discontent.
I wondered at the bounteous hours,
The slow result of winter showers
You scarce could see the grass for flowers.
I wondered, while I paced along
The woods were filled so full of song,
There seemed no room for sense of wrong.

Our artizans, then, if the circular in question could have had its way, were to have been denied the refreshment for the overwrought body, that solace for the wearied mind, which the sight and taste of these pure joys of Nature are, by God’s own gracious ordinance, especially meant to give them. The rich might drive each day of the week along the green lanes, amidst the scented hay or the golden corn,—might “hear the wild music of the wind-swept grove,” or “mark the billows burst in silver light;” but the poor, on the only day on which they can (if they will) have a share in this enjoyment of nature, which their Father’s gracious care has abundantly provided for them,—a gift of this new time, a compensation, as it were, for some of the evils which our modern civilization has brought with it,—the poor were to have been deprived of their rightful liberty and enjoyment, under the mistaken notion of promoting the due observance of Sunday! Happily the Directors laid that unwise address quietly on the shelf, and gave no reply to it.—(Would that some here in Napier had duly remembered this.)

It must not be overlooked, that, both in England and in Scotland, (as we have already in part seen,) no small portion of the continuance of this Sabbatarian error is owing to the two National Churches. (1) That of Scotland, through her common teaching and Shorter Catechism (as I have already fully shown); and (2) that of England, through the enjoined reading of the 4th Jewish Commandment (together with the others) in the ears of the people, in the ante-Communion Service from the Communion Table (which some of her Ministers—Jewishly, Heathenly, or thoughtlessly,—like to miscall “the Altar”!!) At which reading by the Minister, the people have this prayer also put into their mouths,— “Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.” As one has said very truthfully and very forcibly,— “Consider the weekly recitation of the 4th Commandment, and the response to it, without one word of comment or qualification on the part of the Church; nothwithstanding that no one believes Jewish Sabbath to be either binding upon Christians or possible in modern life, and not the strictest Puritan of us all, not even Scotland herself, ever thinks of observing it as such, The immense variance, between the letter of this law and the most rigid practical interpretation of it, confounds all English ideas of sabbath-[29]- keeping and Sabbath-breaking, creates unnecessarily an awful malum prohibitum, and lays snares in the paths of innumerable honest men and women. If the 4th. Commandment be indeed a law of the Christians, it is too certain that all Christians deliberately break it. But, if it be a law of the Jews only, then all the scandal is chargeable upon those, who professing to have Divine Truth in their keeping, recite this law weekly from “the altar,” as if it were part of the Sermon on the Mount! Such inconsistencies, to those who will reflect upon them, will appear far more important, and more fruitful of evil consequences, than most of us are aware of.” —Here we are carried back to Dr Norman McLeod’s truthful remark;— “What effect has this? I think it has the effect of weakening morality.”

A similar admission, in fact, is made in a volume of “Replies to Essays and Reviews,” published under the express sanction of the late Bishop (Wilberforce) of Oxford, saying:— “Some schoolbooks still teach the ignorant that the earth is 6000 years old, and that all things were created in six days. No well-educated person of the present day shares in the delusion.———Whatever be the meaning of the six days, ending with the seventh day’s mystical and symbolical rest, indisputably we cannot accept them in their literal meaning. They serve, apparently, as the divisions of the record of Creation, lest the mind may be too much burdened and perplexed by all these wonderful acts; but they as plainly do not denote the order of succession of’ all the individual creations.” Such is the statement made, under the authority of the (High-Church) Bishop of Oxford. And thus we can now no longer receive this account in Genesis as a record of historical or scientific fact. We see that it is only the attempt of a devout philosophic mind of those ancient times, to express in words the ideas, which either had arisen in his own mind, or which perhaps he had derived from others, as to the creation of the Universe

But, with the historical truth of the account of the Creation, is abandoned also the very basis, upon which the observance of the 4th. Commandment is based in the Book of Exodus. If it can no longer be believed that “in six days” God made the Universe, and rested on the seventh, then the whole basis of the traditionary reason for Sabbatarian observance falls at once to the ground. No reasonable man can any longer suppose that these other laws were actually uttered with a Divine voice from the heights of Sinai; and, as I view it, all Church of England Ministers do wrong if they leave their congregations in doubt about this matter, — if they do not tell them plainly that, in reading those Commandments, beginning with the statement, “God spake these words and said,”—they are merely reading, in obedience to the directions of their Church, a passage from the Bible just as they read by the same authority the Psalms or the Athanasian Creed,—without committing themselves individually to the Psalmist’s curses on his enemies, or to the damnatory sentences of the unknown writer of the latter document.

It has often (especially of late years) been a matter of both surprise and pain to me, to see how commonly (habitually?) the Ministers of the Church of England read those words containing the old notion of the Creation of the World “in six days,” without any attempt at disabusing the minds of their congregations respecting it. Can it possibly arise from their training and habit? or from thoughtlessness,—the not caring to think, or the suppressing of thought? Surely, some, at least, of those Ministers must know that such was not the case ; that modern science has utterly disproved it? If so; why not (occasionally) tell their congregations as much, and teach them the truth! I need hardly repeat that, with our present knowledge,—which is the gift of God—it is no longer possible to regard these narratives as statements of matter-of-fact, historical, occurrences;— that no doubt now remains in the mind of any intelligent, well-educated person, that not even the one world in which we live— much less, the mighty Universe, of which it forms such an insignificant part—was [30] made “in six days,” as the Bible statements, honestly interpreted, most certainly imply. But if, on the contrary some of the ministers still believe in the absolute truth of that old Hebrew notion,—all I can say is,—that it is no wonder that they find the people generally to care so little abouit “going to Church,” and about their teachings, seeing they are so very far behind their flock, so utterly ignorant of the truth,—even in things which are oommonly well-known now-a-days to school-boys.

I can only truthfully say for myself,— that were I now ministering to a Congregation, I could no more coldly [or “impressively”] read, pass by, or slur over, those strange aberrant formularies and portons of Church services (above mentioned), together with the old legends in the lessons from the Bible, without explaining them and telling my congregation why I read them,—then I could wilfully bear false witness against my neighbour, or defraud my creditors!

Of those Sabbatarians among us here in Napier,—who, with or without any thght on the subject, signed the Document against the calling of the Mail Steamers here on Sundays,—how many of them are there (I should like to know), who, wben the English Mail arrives here on a Saturday evening or night—as is commonly the case,—are really willing to wait patiently till (say) the Monday afternoon before getting their letters? for, of course, if their views are correct, the Post Office Officials should not work until the Monday afternoon. Again: of thoso Sabbatarians how many are there who on the Sunday morning are quite willing and agreeable (without kicking the cat or scolding the maid) to go without Milk for their or their children’s breakfast, &c., on the Sunday? Did they ever consider, when sipping their Hyson or Coffee at breakfast,—how many poor souls have really transgressed the ancient Jewish Law of “Sabbath Observance,” in many hours of heavy toil and work from before daylight, at Clive and at Taradale in milking, and in bringing their milk into town, to enable them to have a nice cup of tea or coffee, and their little ones a cup of milk? As Capt. Cuttle said, I would they would “just take a note of it.”!



One thing more I feel inclined to mention, as it has a considerable bearing on our subject of “Sabbath observance;” particularly that side of it,—the regular attendance at Church, which, with some, is of the very greatest importance; especially now that such attendance is also become a matter of money and of commercial speculation: for much of this, however, my fellow-townsmen will have to thank themselves. [I pretty well know that I shall displease a few by my plain remarks and statement, but that I must (again) bear.] I allude to the horrid money collections, which are now, at every “Divine Service,” never omitted, accurately made, and thought very much of. And, I may further say,—that I think I have a right to bring this matter forward, from the fact of my being the only European here who has always consistently opposed it; and I began early to do so. It was in the autumn of 1851 that the late Bishop of Lichfield, Dr. Selwyn, who was then the Bishop of New Zealand, paid his visit here. He staid a week at my house (Waitangi), and on the Friday he informed me, that he wished a Collection (or “Offertory”) to be made on the following Sunday in the Church. This took me wholly by surprise; for (1) it had never occurred here before; and (2) the whole congregation of Maoris were utterly without money; I might, perhaps, have a few old coins in my desk, which had not seen the sun for years. On the Saturday I told the Bishop of our situation, and, also of my disliking his proposal (for many reasons), but that of course made little difference to him. So, on the Sunday, when the Bishop began to to read the sentences in the Ante-Communion Service, he beckoned to his Maori travelling companion Rota, who came up to the Table, took from the Bishop a small black velvet bag (into which the Bishop put his gift) came to me, from whom he got nothing, and then, having tried some half-a-dozen of the Maoris [31] (who looked on in astonishment!), and also getting nothing from them, Rota returned with his bag to the Bishop. Again, soon after the opening of the first-built little part of St. John’s Church here In Napier, some 15–16 years ago, a meeting of the Church Congregation was called, and the Rev Mr St. Hill wished to introdce the money collection or “Offertory;” this I again opposed as being the very opposite of the principles of the Gospel, and as mocking the poor who came to Church, [nearly all of us were poor in money in those days!] but I could only succeed in doing away with that of the Evening Service; and this was agreed to, but only held for a time! I remember saying on that occasion, that I for one would give £5 a year to have no collection on Sundays,—which was more than I should give supposing I attended every Sunday in the year and gave the customary shilling. A year or two after that I let the Churchwardens know, that I would keep to the old English rule, and only give on the Communion Sunday (viz, the first Sunday of the month). But Mr Churchwarden Tiffen would, notwithstanding, persist in shoving his plate into my pew every Sunday,—of course he got nothing from me; however I very soon cured him of that, for I told him, that I would carry to Church copper pennies (the true big old coin!)—and if he ever shoved in his plate again (save on the Communion Sunday), he would get a big copper with a jingle! (my pew too being then next to his,) and I knew that others would follow suit. Mr Tiffen being “wise,” kept out of it, and I was never again troubled with that plate.— For my own part I can conscientiously say, that I would not minister in a congregation where such an open support was given to Mammon and to Little-mindedness, to Pride-of-Life and to Backbiting. 'Tis in such matters that “the Devil” (whether that of Mr Oliver or any other person) is truly well served, and he laughs to his heart’s content!! By all means let every Church—every Denomination—support its own Minister,—and support the faithful one well ; but let that “be done decently and in order,” and not at the expense of mocking the poor,—to whom the Gospel is not now preached. Fur it is evident,—both from Advertisements, and from the touting for and boasting of money collections,—that it is with too many Churches just a with the Theatres and other like performances,—come with money in your pocket or you will not be welcome. And this (such alas! is human nature) will be sure to act as a powerful lever in the matter of keeping up the “Sabbath Observance” and the going to Church; possibly more so than the 4th Commandment and the thunders of Sinai! But when the time of solemn thought and of re-action comes, the Congregations will always have it in their power to put all such sordid traflicking down,—by just acting as I did.

Of one thing, however, I feel quite sure, —and from it I derive no small coinfort,—that the time is coming when,— not only in this matter of “Sabbath Observance” but in all similar and kindred matters affecting true Religion and the whole well-being of Man,—the human race will no longer submit to be ruled or guided ,—catechized, preached to, and prayed for, by any mere assuming family or clique of pretentious persons, but will assert their own inalienable birthright, and choose for themselves and for their childien able and fitting guides and teachers both lay and clerical. And truly good and wise will the Ministers of the various Churches be in that day, if they heartily assist in bringing all needed Reform to pass.

No doubt, interested folks in Church and in State will ever strongly oppose this;—as, indeed, they have always done,—for no true Reform ever comes from within! and they may also, for a time, succeed; but such will not, can not, prevent the needed Reform,—scarcely, indeed, delay it,—and will only serve to make it the more complete and effectual when brought to pass.

Already, I may truly say, light is breaking all around, the result of modern Biblical Criticisrn; and to this I would [32] especially call the attention of all thoughtful members of the Church of England. They may see it in the three great works in reference to the Bible, which have been taken in hand by leading men in that Church under competent authority, viz. (1) The new Lectionary; (2) the new Bible Commentary “by Bishops and other clergy of the Anglican Church”: and (3) in the new and corrected authorised version of the Bible (not yet completed);—all however the results of Modern Bible Criticism; all professedly based upon the latest results of learned, as well as devout, study of the sacred oracles.



Take, for instance, the New Lectionary, (which, I believe, is in use here,)—some, perhaps many, of the hearers of its lessons read will have hardly noticed this fact, that now for the first time in the History of the Church of England the first 3 verses of the second chapter of Genesis are publicly read for a Sunday lesson in connection with the first chapter of that Book, as the closing portion of the account of the Creation contained in that chapter. Some of the regular congregation will have hardly perceived any difference has been made in that lesson for Septuagesima Sunday,—will have taken for granted that the same words were read on that day in their ears, which have been always read year after year ever since they were old enough to enter a church, and centuries before they were born. But a change has really been made by the lawful authority in that Church—small in appearance, but momentous in its consequences—one which opens up the whole question of Modern Biblcal Criticism before the eyes of the whole congregation. But why is the Lesson for Septuagesima Sunday now for the first time made to end with the third verse of the 2nd Chapter of Genesis? A glance at the Bible will shew at once the reason. It is because the matter contained in these three verses is precisely similar in characer to that contained in the whole first chapter,—and quite distinct from that which follows in the rout of the second chapter and in the third. The attention of thoughtful persons is thus directed to the fact, that there are two accounts of the Creation in the Bible; written by different persons and at different times in the world’s history and widely differing the one from the other. The old division of chapters, sanctioned by use and the pious ignorance of past ages, which has hitherto obscured the truth for most English readers, is once for all deliberately set aside, and reason and scholarship are at last allowed their due rights even in the treatment of Holy Scripture. As I view it, it is the duty of all the intelligent members of the Church of England to understand clearly the truth of this matter, which is now brought before them by the highest authorities; and it is certainly the duty of the Ministers (as many of them at least as are really able and willing to do so), to set that truth in a plain intelligible form before the eyes of their congregations. This little Lectionary, though simple in appearance, yet, being established by law in the Church of England, will be found, on close consideration, to involve principles which will tend to revolutionise the whole system of traditionary teaching, admitting light and air into the long shut up, darkened and musty, chambers.—

Moreover, the new Bible Commentary (a portion of which has only just been seen by me,) admits that we have no correct copy of the Ten Commandents as really uttered by the Divine Voice on Sinai; and that “the two distinct statements” of them in Exodus and Deuteronomy, though “differing from each other in several weighty particulars,” are “apparently of equal authority” and “each is said, with reiterated emphasis, to contain the words that were actually spoken by the Lord, and written by Him upon the stones.— — — It has been generally assumed that the whole of one or other of these copies was written on the Tables of Stone. Most commentators have supposed that the original document is in Exodus, and that the author of Deuteronomy wrote from memory, with variations suggested at the time. Others have conceived that Deuteronomy must furnish the more [33] correct form, since the Tables must have been in actual existence when that Book was written. But neither of these views ean be fairly reconciled with the statements in Exodus and Deuteronomy, to which reference has been made. If either copy, as a whole, represents what was written on the Tables, it is obvious that the other cannot do so.” We are also told,—that the Ten Cornmandments were, probably, originally uttered all in the same terse form as those which now remain, as, “Thou shalt not kill,” “Thou shalt not steal,” &c., and were, afterwards, considerably enlarged by Moses,—a supposition which is, of course, entirely opposed to the usual traditionary notion. Thus, for instance, the 4th Commandment, as uttered by Jehovah on Sinai, was merely the brief injunction, “Remember the Sabbath-day to sanctify it”; it was Moses who afterwards added the further details, “Six days shalt thou labour, &c.,” —but with the wonderful and perplexing variations and additions, in the two different accounts given in Exodus and in Deuteronomy as to the reason for keeping the “Sabbath;” and both equally said to have been authoritatively given by Jehovah himself! Further, this Bible Commentary instructs its readers that, generally, wherever they read in the Pentateuch, “And Jehovah spake unto Moses saying,” they are to conclude—not that there was any audible utterance, but only—that Moses felt himself moved by an inward Divine impulse to enact certain laws, which, however, he not unfrequently copied “from existing and probably very ancient and widely spread heathen institutions;—adopting existing and ancient customs, with significant additions, as helps in the education of his people.” And this Commentary also informs its readers, that “it is by no means unlikely, that there are insertions of a later date, which were written or Sanctioned by the Prophets and holy men, who after the Captivity, arranged and edited the Scriptures of the Old Testament.” (B.C. I. pp. 335, 494, 717, &c.)

The new Translation of the Bible is progressing, but it lies at present hidden in the secret chamber and not yet communicated to the world. May I live to see it published! I noted, however, that one of the most eminent of the translators, and a Bishop in the English Church, said openly in Convocation when this work was begun,—“I must own it is my belief that, when the Authorised Version has received all the amendments of which it is capable and which it absolutely requires, this will be found to have effected a very great change in many parts of the Bible ; and I think that one effect of this will be that it will deprive many of the clergy, and perhaps still more of Dissenting Ministers, of some of their most favourite texts. We ought not to conceal from ourselves that it will very materially alter the text of Scripture.”

Three small matters, all: however, though diverse in kind, being steps in the right direction and highly signicant, have also lately taken p1ace here, at which I rejoice:—(1) The opening of our Athenæurn News Room on Sunday afternoons: (2) The running of no less than 18 separate trains (going and returning) from Dunedin on the Sunday, between the hours of 9 morning and 6 evening: and (3) the alteration made by the Presbyterian Church, in doing away with their Sacramental Fast-day before that of their Church Communion.

To these I might justly and properly add, as a fourth,—the great and good matter of State Education—civil and scientific, reasonable and truly religious,—recently undertaken by the Government of our Country: but this is yet in its infancy, and would require a whole paper to do it justice. Thus much, however, I would say, as it bears greatly on our subject of “Sabbath Observance,”—that the sooner the various and dissonant old Church Catechisms are altered, (Like the new Bible Commentary, and the new translation of the Bible,) and so made conformable to truth, and to truthful religious and scientific teaching, the better for the children, (especially those at Sunday Schools,) and for the future [34] generation,—aye, for the rising state of New Zealand.—And here I would call attention to some solemn words of a late Archbishop of the English Church,—words well worthy of being weighed by all Teachers,—whether of Sunday or of Day School—by religions as well as scientific Teachers of all classes:—“He who propagates a delusion, and he who connives at it when already existing, both tamper with Truth. We must neither lead nor leave men to mistake falsehood for Truth. Not to undeceive, is to deceive. The giving, or not correcting, false reasons for right conclusions, false grounds for right belief, false principles for right practice,—the holding forth or fostering false consolations, false encouragements, or false sanctions, or conniving at their being held forth or believed,—are all pious frauds. This springs from, and it will foster and increase, a want of veneration for Truth: it is an affront put upon the Spirit of Truth.” On these words I would ask one question—of Ministers and Sunday School Teachers. How can we serve the Living and True God, except so far as we are servants of the Truth? And how can we be servants of the Truth, if we knowingly shut our eyes to facts which we do not like, because they conflict with our preconceived notions; and if we not only do this ourselves, but attempt to close, or to keep shut, or to throw dust in, the eyes of others under our influence, that they may not be able to see the facts which God’s wise Providence, in this age of the world, has made known to us for our instruction and guidance in life?

Lastly, (before that I leave this part of my subject,) I will say, after more than 20 years serious study of the matter before me,—that it is my conviction, that these three facts may now be regarded as established by a very general consent of competent Modern Scholars, not pledged to the support of traditionary views,—(1) That no part of the original story of the Exodus can have been composed before the time of Samuel: (2) That Deuteronomy was written not long before the Babylonish Captivity: and (3) that the Levitical legislation originated during the Captivity; by which the notion of the Mosaic authorship and infallible Divine authority of the whole, or indeed of any portion, of the Pentateuch is shown to be untenable.



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