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



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IV. REASONABLY.

Including (1) Theologically and (2) Humanly or, in plainer words,—for the Glory of God and the Good of Man.

The Sabbath,”—the Lord’s Day, the Sunday, the Day of Rest,—like all other good things,— “was made for man.” by his bounteous Creator. Let us ever bear this in mind.

And, first, let us seek to be delivered from a slavish spirit in respect to the old abrogated Jewish Sabbath-day; toss it overboard, have done with it: then, secondly, seek to realize that true “liberty” wherewith the Gospel of Jesus has made us free: and, then, we shall be able clearly to comprehend the true, the deep, meaning of those words,— “The Sabbath was made for man,”— For it is only by so doing that we can arrive at the true enjoyment of the Sunday as a Day of rest, a Day of refreshing! and learn to keep it in spirit and in truth with thankfulness of heart as a truly enjoyable day, a day which the Lord hath blessed; a day of strength-recruiting, a day of true refreshment both to body and soul, a day of worship, a day of social rejoicing, a day which the Bountiful Father has pre-eminently instituted for the good of his creature man!

The old saying still holds good,— “Tot capita tot sensus” (So many heads so many minds),—but, not withstanding, by all (I suppose) this will be allowed,—that the day is given to us by Nature, and therefore by Nature’s God, for labour, and the night for rest; this is certain,—

“He appointed the Moon for seasons;


The Sun knoweth his going down.— — —
Man goeth forth unto his work,
And to his labour until the Evening,” [35]

As a rule, then, there is a law laid upon us by the ordering of our Creator, that we should wake and work by day, and rest and sleep by night. It is, however, a law not meant to be enforced with strict severity, as if we might never work by night or sleep by day: it is a law made known by a wise Father to intelligent children,—by the Divine Reason to His reasonable creatures. The law of the interchane of day and night was “made for man,”—not man for the law. The law of daily toil and nightly rest is to be our rule, our general guide,—though we are left at full liberty, of our own free will, when we see occasion for it to depart from it. We know that, if we do depart from it constantly, without something to compensate the breach of Nature’s law, we shall suffer the consequences. It is God’s Law that the daytime shall be the time of labour for the individual, as well as the time for social common work, for the setting forward of those labours which concern the welfare of the whole community. And so is it with regard to the week and the weekly rest. We need—at all events, in civilized communities, where there is such continual tension of the brain, and draining of the nervous energy—the recurrence of days of rest,—rest, not to be enforced upon us, from the necessity of a positive law, but rest commended to us by the wise provisions of our gracious Creator, and approved by universal experience to be a source of infinite blessing,—the right of the poor man as well as the rich,—as needful, in fact, for the wants of our physical, social, moral, and religious nature, as the rest by night after the toil of the day. “God has spoken this word to us,” not from the burning summit of Sinai, but in his Fatherly Wisdom and Goodness, and woe be to us if we refuse to heed His teachings. At the time of the French Revolution it was tried to alter every seventh (day of rest or ceasing to labour) to every tenth day, but it was found on trial not to answer, arid was pronounced by scientific men and physiologists, who had studied man’s nature and natural wants, to be insufficient.

I conclude, then, with all reasonable confidence, that one day out of seven has been graciously indicated by the Creator us a day of rest for labouring and weary men;—that, although the Hebrew philosopher in Genesis had no real historical basis for inserting in his cosmogony a sacred reason for the custom, which he found already existing among his people, and the observance of which he desired to enforce among them, yet there was a deeply grounded substantial truth in his assertion,— “God blessed the Sabbath- day and sanctified it.”

Let us consider in what sense, with reference to what wants of his nature,— “the Sabbath”—or day of rest— “was made for man.”

1. It is good, first, for his physical nature, that his nerves may be relaxed, the pressure taken off his brain, the sweat of toil wiped off his brow. We all feel that, while regular and constant employment is upon the whole the best condition for the health and vigour of all the faculties, it may he too constant—too wearying and exhausting—for body or mind. This becomes most evident, when a break intervenes, and after the holiday the tasks of daily life are renewed with a fresh spring of energy. This is felt most strongly indeed at the time of youth, when labours for the most part are carried on by compulsion, whether of parents or teachers, or of masters and employers. But it is not confined to youth alone: and, whether the muscles or the mind are at their full stretch, we know that they are the more fit for use after rest, or after such a change of action as amounts to rest. For inaction is not by any means always the rest of waking human creatures, and to the very young it is often irksome in the extreme,—and physically, as well as morally, injurious. Hence it is that to them the Holy Day—or Sunday, through the ignorance of parents and of Ministers, —is too often the very contrary of a Holiday (which it should be), and the notion of Heaven, as an eternal Sabbath, most distasteful and disheartening; while the righteous rebellion of all their faculties [36] and powers against the Sabbatarian restraints imposed upon them,—which is merely the voice of that very nature which God has given them,—has been too often most ignorantly and cruelly interpreted into a sinful aversion of the mind from God and his Laws! or to the listenings to the suggestions of the tempter or “Devil!!” [Whose true personality, with or without horns and hoofs, bat’s wings and tail, has lately been so energetically preached to wondrous credulous audiences here in Napier!!! I need not say, to intelligent men, with what serious consequences, in too many cases, to the whole future life of the child. I believe, that to this cause,—perhaps as much as to any other, be traced the fact, that so many children of pious, but unwise, parents grow up ungodly and profane. Their whole notions of religion have been distorted from the first; their nature has been thwarted, their ideas of right and wrong confounded, their true spiritual growth dwarfed and stunted; till at length all their views about Religion have become embittered, gloomy, and morose; they hate the very thought of it, and turn with distaste from all mention of that “other God,” whom they have been taught and coerced to worship in a wretched servile way according to “the letter,” instead of the One only Living and True God;—our common loving Father, whose true service is delight, and only “in spirit and in truth,” and therefore ever in accordance with reason,— God’s best gift to man.

I say, then, for our physical nature we all need, as a rule, the rest of Sunday; but that rest should consist oz refreshment of body and mind,—of a recruiting of both bodily and mental strength, as well as of mere relief, or cessation, from the six days toil, That refreshment—we must never forget—will be found differently under different circumstances; even as our sommon natural tastes differ for different kinds of food. And let no man judge his brother in this matter; to his own Master each much stand or fall. What is really wanted in this respect,— instead of mere dull inaction, or keeping quiet within doors,—is such pleasant exercise of mind or body, as shall best relieve the burdened system, and leave best fitted for the other uses, for which the Sunday rest is needed.—

But it may be, that you have had to work hard all the week (or working days), and on the Sunday morning you still feel too tired to rise and go to some Church—of which you may be a member, or a regular attendant. Don’t think for a moment you are doing what is right in so rising and so going to Church, and there spend your time sleepily; if you do so, you do what is wrong before God, who wishes you to take care of your body; your first duty (in such a case) is to remain in bed and rest. Nature tells you so; and you dare not resist her powerful voice. Rest is sweet for the wearied jaded body, therefore use the Sunday’s rest bountifully as it is bountifully given you for your bodies. Just so, again, with others, whose minds have in their varied mental occupations during the week been fully on the stretch; if you were to go to Church you would, in all likelihood, feel that you could not attend to anything as you ought to do:—Don’t then go, but take a walk, or a ride, or whatever kind of relaxation (which is your mind’s true rest) you feel will do you the most good, and strengthen and brace your mind for the duties of the coming week.

2. It is good for our moral nature, which requires rest no less than our physical. It is good that men should be able—at all events, for one day in seven—to shake off their secular chains, and realise that they are not bound as slaves for ever to cash-books and ledgers, to buying and selling, to the labors of the office, the bank, the workshop, and the study,—that they have a right, the very humblest and poorest among them, to go forth on this day in the dignity of Nature’s freed men, cleansed from the dust and stains of the weekly labors, released from its necessary, but often heavy, drudgery, clothed in their best, and lightened, as much as may be, of the burdens and cares of life, to enjoy the sunlight [37] and the breeze, the sight of the broad earth, the sea, and the sky, to walk among the fields and flowers, the cornlands and pastures, and hear the song of birds, the ripple of the babbling stream, or, it may be, the mighty sound of ocean’s murmurings or tossings,—and to say with child-like reverence and confidence,— “It is our Father’s Hand which made them all!”

“Poor sons of toil! oh, grudge them not the breeze
That plays with sabbath flowers; the clouds, that play
With sabbath winds; the hum, of sabbath bees;
The sabbath walk; the sky-lark’s sabbath lay:
The silent sunshine of the sabbath day!”

3. Thirdly, our religious nature needs the day of rest, that we may have time to turn our thoughts within, and see how we are ripening for Heaven; see how we are making ready for the great account, and growing in the tempers of the children of God; that we may specially commune, each with his own soul and with the Great Creator; may seek His Face may study His Word and His Works,— may “acquaint ourselves with God, and be at peace” The true child of God will, indeed, have such communion with his Heavenly Father each day of his life. But, on other days, the cares and duties of the world intervene; they must more or less distract his thoughts, and engage his time, and they must be allowed to do so: for they are part of that six days’ work which God gives them to do, as He gives them also the day of rest.

On Sundays we may all meet together in the House of Him who is the Father of all! For this—Common Worship—is the highest and noblest of all the occupations of Sunday. It is true, very true, men may, and do, worship God in the closet at home,—or as they walk abroad in the depths of the forest, by the babbling stream, by the margin of the sea, or on the mountain top, or side. But in Religion, as well as in many other matters, it is not good for man to be always alone—it is not meant that he should be so. And the presence of many worshippers, joining together in common prayer and praise to the great Father of all,—feeding together on the same living bread,—drinklng together freely from the same wine and milk, “without money and without price,”—bringing together their burdens of sorrow or of sin, their cares and troubles, or, it may be, their songs of deliverance, their tribute of thanksgiving, to the Adorable Source of all Light, and Life, and Blessing,—this union of many hearts tends to strengthen and deepen the Religious feeling of all; it helps us to realise more fully the fact that our spiritual being is a glorious reality,—that Communion is possible,—is actually taking place,—between the Father of spirits and His children upon earth; that we are members together of one great Family, one Church of the Living God.—

Yes: such happy seasons have been known—both in England and in New-Zealand; such may, yea will, be known again. But before that can possibly take place a great change is needed; a change affecting almost everything connected with Public Worship as it is now; a change in which both the Minister and the Congregation are all equally concerned; and that desirable change will again be known among the Churches when those who worship therein (including those who serve) shall become—as the old Hebrews had It—whole-hearted in the matter of God’s Service. Then Sundays will be as they should be—Holy days and Holidays and Happy days: days of rejoicing and of refreshment. As dear George Herbert beautifully (though quaintly) says:—

“The Sundays of man’s life
Threaded together on time’s string,
Make bracelets to adorn the wife
Of the eternal glorious King.
On Sundays Heaven’s gate stands ope;
Blessings are plentiful and ripe,
More plentiful than hope.

Thou art a day of mirth:


And, where the week-days trail on ground,
Thy flight is higher, as thy birth:
O let me take thee at the bound,
Leaping with thee from seven to seven.
Till that we both, being tossed from earth,
Fly hand in hand to heaven !“ [38]

4. Lastly our social nature needs above all the Sunday,—and for this end, we may reasonably believe, it is specially indicated. The Sun and Moon are set in the heavens to be for “signs” and for “seasons,” not to single individuals but to all,—to all the human family together, and alike to all. How greatly are the joys of the Sunday-walk, of the Sunday-recreation, of the Sunday-holiday, intensified, by sharing them with others, with the members of our family, it may be, reunited from time to time; or with friends and neighbours, breathing with us the fresh air, and freedom, the cheering delights, of the day of rest! What support it also gives to the moral sense of man’s higher nature and destiny, of his dignity above the brutes that perish, when by common consent the business of daily life is broken off, that all may meet together on that day at least, cleared from the week’s defiling dust, not as masters and servants, as lords and laborers,—not as poor trembling slaves with scrupulous consciences under a “hateful” Jewish Law believed to be Divine!—but as fellowmen, upon the common ground of their humanity! and all alike as children of the One Great and ever loving Father.

Much has been done of late years in England towards the clearing away of some of the hindrances which prevented the larger number of the bulk of the people from enjoying to the full the Sunday rest—the Sunday refreshment—as He, who framed their being, has meant them to enjoy it; and it is to be hoped, that the Imperial Legislature there will soon clear away also the remaining ones. So that the people generally will no longer be debarrod from access, during at least some part of the Sunday, to purer sources of delight in Gardens and Museums, in Aquariums and Galleries, where the wonders of Nature and the beauties of Art, the interesting remains of Antiquity, and the marvels of Science Discovery and Invention, are stored; and, therefore, will not be, (as heretofore) any longer impelled to seek other pleasures, of a gross and sensual kind,—more destructive to body and soul than continued honest labor; aye, driven (as they too long have been) by sheer vacuity of mind having no power, even if they would, to devote the “whole day” to religious thought and worship, being utterly incapable of such prolonged mental exertion,—having the Sunday on their hands, and not knowing what to do with it.

From the Annual Report of the Royal Gardens at Kew (London),—which have been lately thrown open to the Public on Sundays as well as on week-days,—I find the Director, Sir J.D. Hooker, says,— “The number of visitors to the Royal Gardens continues to increase annually; but always very many more on the Sunday than on any other day of the week. Total number on Sundays during the year, 359,237: total number on week- days, 340,189: greatest Sunday attendance (June 21st) 23,117.” And yet, notwithstanding such immense crowds largely composed of working people, the greatest order prevailed, and no injury was done to the plants: all being more or less delighted at the wonderful display of Nature’s varied stores; which no doubt to some—and perhaps not a few—led on to higher and clearer Views of the Great Creator of all!

But still the glory of the Christian Sunday is Common Worship. And, whatever may be done, publicly or privately, to enlarge and to elevate the enjoyments of the working-classes on the Sunday, God forbid that it should not be done with a due regard to the Worship of Almighty God, which especially irradiates and dignifies the day, and casts a bright ray over all the week besides. For what is to be desired is, not that the Sunday should be secularised, but that the true Sunday spirit,— the spirit of Christian Trust and Hope, and Joy,—the spirit of childlike love and childlike confidence, the spirit of devout delight in the Word and in the Works of our adorable Creator,—and the spirit of brotherly love to help one another,— shall so penetrate our whole being, with the help afforded by the Sunday rest, that the secular six [39] days’ work may be ennobled, purified, and sanctified.

The time is at hand, I trust, when the Heads of the Church of England both at Home and in the colonies, (to say nothing of those of other Churches,) instead of attempting with feeble hand to stay the wave of progress, will devote themselves heartily to the true work, which especially falls to their lot in the present day, and, instead of desperately clinging to that which is untenable in the traditions of the past, will endeavour “with just and firm hand” (to use the words of Mr Gladstone,) “to sever the transitory from the durable, and the accidental from the essential, in old opinions;” and, among other similar matters, will come to rest the observance of the Sunday on its true grounds,—physical, social, moral, and religious,—and not on the unsound, unreal basis, on which not a few of our fellow-Christians are still resting it;—will see how the happy healthful freedom of the Sunday may be best enjoyed by the working classes, without sacrificing its religious blessings,—how the great works of human genius, the works of God-gifted men, and the still greater works of creative wisdom, may be enjoyed in our Parks and Gardens, Museums and Galleries, without therefore emptying the various Churches and Chapels, or interfering with the proper rest of others. Aye, and that they will not overlook the smaller simpler matters, which largely affect the great bulk of the “lambs of their flocks” on Sundays,—to say nothing of their influence on them in after life. Such as, for instance, their being able openly and honestly to spend their Sunday holiday penny, in apples or in nuts, in lollies or in peppermint drops,—without going by a round-about and tortuous way to do it! through back-doors, and with hurried anxious glances up and down the street or lane, and by closing the doors stealthily after them that no one may see them! such, too, being often done, on their way to or from the Sunday School. Both Ministers and Parents, I fear, have long overlooked these sad beginnings,—this sure neutralising of all sound Sunday School Teaching,—this “weakening of morality,” as Dr. N. M’Leod truly calls it. Here is a case in point, to hand this very day while I am writing these words, in one of the latest English Papers just received by the S.F. Mail,—which I quote entire as therein given.

Guildford Borough Bench.

On Monday before the Mayor (Mr Alderman Crooke), Mr Alderman Triggs, Mr Alderman Upperton, Mr D. Haydn, Mr G. Smallpiece, Mr J. Weale, and Mr J. T. Sells, the following eases were heard:—



The Lord’s Day Act.—Mrs Jane Triggs, a widow, keeping a small tobacconist and sweet-stuff shop in Northstreet, was summoned, at the instance of Mr Superintendent Law, under the Act of Charles II., for exercising her worldly calling on the Lord’s Day. It appeared that a sergeant went into the defendant’s shop on a Sunday and purchased a penny-worth of peppermint. A number of boys in the shop were also committing a like crime. The Mayor advised the defendant to close her shop on Sunday, but looking at the almost obsolete nature of the Act, the Bench declined to convict.

Now, while I honour and admire the noble conduct of that large and liberal Bench of English Magistrates, (who seem to have mustered strong and in a body on that occasion,)—what suitable words can I find in the English language to express my utter disgust at the conduct of those two over-officious police officers,—Superiritendent Law and his fitting mate the Sergeant,—in their crusade against that poor widow! I have little doubt that they themselves, when boys, spent with much glee in like manner their Sunday holiday penny! And here I may also briefly add, as bearing on the foregoing,—that there was only one other case before that full Bench on that day,—viz. that of a man charged by a constable as being drunk and disorderly on the Saturday night. This, however, was amply and completely disproved by several witnesses, in spite of the exertions of Superintendent Law; so that “in the end the Mayor said, the conduct of the constable would be referred to the Watch [40] Committee, and the defendant was discharged without a stain on his character. The decision was received with loud cheers by a crowded Court. In the course of the hearing Mr White (the counsel for the defendant) took exception to the interference of Superintendent Law with one of the witnesses, and threatened if it were repeated to retire from the case.”— Sussex Daily News, Oct. 9th.

To return: We must never forget, that, if God has given us so freely the knowledge of Himself in the Holy Scriptures, which His Providence has “caused to be written for our learning,”—He has also given us in this our day most wonderful illumination by the light of the different Sciences, which all come to us from Him, who is “the Father of Lights, the Giver of every good and perfect gift.” So sudden, indeed, has been the growth of this light, that, even in the childhood of many of us, the very names of many of those Sciences were hardly known. Yet now we stand surrounded, as it were, with the blaze of their commingled radiance; and, in every well-ordered school, lessons will be taught to our young children, with respect to the age of man, the history of the earth’s formation, the distribution of animal-species upon the face of it, &c., &c., which will be seen hereafter, as they grow in years and power of thought, if they are not already seen by them, to conflict entirely with certain well-known Scripture statements. You must not send your children to any superior school, where the elementary truths of Geological Science are taught, if you would have them kept in strict bondage to the mere letter of the Bible, and to the old traditionary system of Scripture-teaching.

But no; we dare not do this; we dare not be wiser than God. When he is pleased to give us light we dare not shut our eyes to its shining, and determine still to grope on in obscurity. If the light of Modern Science comes from God—and surely we believe it does—it must be as great a sin to despise or to disregard it, as to despise and disregard the Bible. And perhaps this very light of our own days, when the Bible is in every hand, may be given us in God’s gracious Providence for this reason among others, that we may not make an idol of it;—that we may not read it with unreasoning acquiescence in every line and letter of the book, or rather that series or collection of books, written by different men in different ages, bound up in one, which we call the Bible,—but may read it with an intelligent faith, with the understanding as well as the heart. Thus we need not be disquieted though the progress of Modern Criticism should take from us much in the Scriptures, which perhaps without sufficient reason we had hitherto regarded as infallibly certain and true,—should show that the Scripture-writers were left to themselves, as men, in respect of all matters which God has meant to exercise our human in- dustry, to be the objects of diligent, painstaking research. Our love must “abound in all judgment,” says the Apostle, in spiritual taste, discernment, insight, to “approve the things that are excellent,”—or, as the margin renders it, to “try the things that differ.” We must consider for what end the Bible is given to us, namely, to bring our spirits near to God; and we must seek, therefore, the inspiration of its writers, not in matters of Science or History, but in those words of Eternal Life, which come to us with a power that is not of this world, and find us out in our inner being, with messages from God to the soul. And how comforting it is to know that all words of this kind, which God our Father has spoken to us, “at sundry times and in divers manners,—whether by Prophets and Apostles, or by the lips of Jesus,—whether in the Bible or out of the Bible—stand firm and sure as God Himself is—as our own being is a reality—as our own moral consciousness, to which those living words appeal, is a sign that we are made in God’s image!

I repeat, then, the views of God’s character and doings, which we derive from the Bible, must be corrected and modified by those which we derive from other sources, by which he is pleased to reveal himself to Man. It is our Father’s Will that so it should be—that our love towards Him should abound yet more and [41] more, in the clearer, fuller, knowledge of Himself, which the study of His Works supplies to us, no less surely than the study of His Word. We cannot be living as true men, we cannot be glorifying God, if we do not make use, according to our powers and opportunities, of each of these means of growing in this knowledge.—In the words of our great English poet—

“Let knowledge grow from more to more;


But more of reverence in us dwell,
That heart and mind according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;


We mock Thee, when we do not fear ;—
O teach Thy foolish ones to hear,
Teach Thy vain world to bear Thy Light!”

Thus God Himself, “the Father of Lights,” by means of the facts which he has enabled us first clearly to ascertain in the present age, takes from us the Bible as an Idol which men have set up in their ignorance, to bow down to it and to worship it. But he restores it to us to be reverenced as the work of men in whose hearts the same human thoughts were stirring, the same hopes and fears were dwelling, the same gracious Spirit was operating, thousands of years ago as now. In those days of old there were prophets also, “preachers of righteousness,” according to their lights, as well as the lower order of priests to do the common daily task. And there are prophets still among us, raised up in this as in every age, to speak God’s word, the word of truth, to their brethren, whether in the pulpit or out of it. And that Living Word, which is the Light and Life of men, is speaking now to us in all those words of our fellow-men, which have brought us in any degree to the clearer knowledge of Him “whom no man hath seen or can see.” But let us be sure that, as it is God who teaches us by means of our fellow-men, we may expect that He will speak to us so that we can hear and understand—that He will speak to our hearts and carry inward demonstration to our spiritual being—that when He speaks His words will come home to us, and will be their own evidence.

And now I will conclude my Paper with yet another suitable extract from that valuable modern work On the Bible by Dr Prebendary Irons, (from which I also quoted in the beginning,)—

“Above all things I earnestly request my fellow-Christians of every class, who may read these pages, to do so with patience and fearlessness, as in God’s sight—even if the course of thought at first seem to them very trying. For, if what is said be all simply and undeniably TRUE,—then, to be angry with it, is but to ‘fight against God.’ — — — — Bitter words, and sneers, and persecutions, however refined, will fail. Let the appeal be to facts—to conscience—to reason. Yet a little while, and we must all give our account to Him who is the Truth.”



POSTSCRIPT.

When I commenced this article I did not think of its being reprinted in the shape of a pamphlet; neither did I intend it to be so long. But so many expressed their opinion as to the desirableness of having it put into the form of a little Book that I gave my consent. Could I, however, have foreseen this, I should have wntten more fully in several places, where (owing to its being for the columns of a newspaper—in which I could not expect to be allowed much room—) I was obliged to shorten considerably my remarks: moreover, I should also have more particularly noted the many quotations I have everywhere given from the works of far abler men than myself, of which I have made great use,—especially as to the edition, the volmne, the chapter, and the page. Indeed, I am throughout more of a Compiler than an Original Author, and happy am I in having had it in my power to bring forward so many noble and independent, Christian and Scholarly authorities, Ancient and Modern,—of all ages, of all places, of all classes, and of all opinions—who are as one in this great and important question. May their united testimony have that reasonable weight with the readers of this little pamphlet which it has had with me

Napier, Dec. 14, 1878. [42]

SUMMARY.

I. Introductory: the cause of this tract,—a Sermon by Rev. D. Sidey on “Sabbath observance,” published in the Hawke’s Bay Herald of September 9th; reasons assigned for my writing on this subject; a family newspaper believed to be the proper vehicle for all such matters; this view strengthened by the precedents of the Great Teacher and of his disciples; Ebn Ezra’s profound saying respecting the law: particular statement concerning myself and what I venture to deem my peculiar fitness for coming before the public on this occasion; the reasons stated, somewhat analogous to what obtains among Surgeons; Canon Perowne’s comment on Ps. 119. vv. 99, 100, quoted; manner of taking-up the subject proposed; Emerson’s beautiful saying on Persuasion or sacred courage quoted.



II. Historically

1. Before the birth of Jesus the Bible, what it really is,— not one complete whole in itself; this point long contested (mentally) by me, but found untenable; a few needful facts to be borne in mind respecting the Bible, —its several books not always written by the very persons whose names they bear;— written at various times throughout many years, and often added to and altered; other books of Scripture held by the Greek and Roman Churches as equally Canonical, which contain much of Divine instruction; the Jewish Sacred books (or rather writings, “books” being then unknown), all burnt by Nebuchadnezzar 600 years b.c.; how said to be afterwards reproduced; this strange story allowed by some of the early Christian Fathers; Dr. Prebendary Irons’ opinion respecting this story, worthy of serious consideration; the extreme danger of believing the Bible to be Gods only Revelation of Himself to man; happily no neecessity for this; First mention of the Sabbath as a rule to man,—afterwards fonnd am a Law among “10 Commandments”; two conflicting versions of these, both equally authoritative; question proposed—Did Moses really write the 5 books called the Pentateuch?; highly doubtful; solid reasons shown for disbelieving it; the great advantage arising from Modern Biblical Criticism, in clearing the character of our God and Heavenly Father; Sabbaths, as laid down in the so-called Mosaic Laws, not observed by the Jews before the Captivity; proofs given; of the writer of the Chronicles; these books fully shewn not to be historically true; Dr. Irons’ plain statement concerning them of their containing monstrous tales as to numbers; the relative sizes of the Kingdoms of Judah and of Israel—or the holy land, altogether a small tract extending (say) from Napier to Cape Palliser! the writer of the Chronicles probably a Levite himself, and so intent (like too many priests) on magnifying his Office and class; After the Captivity great stress was laid by the Jews upon Sabbath observance; the reader’s attention drawn to two “ Isaiahs,”—widely different persons who lived 200 years apart, and whose writings are included under the one book of Isaiah; the ancient Jewish book—the Talmud—adduced; several quotations given from it, shewing the great probability of its having been well-known to Jesus, who also used many of its beautiful sayings, which have been commonly supposed to be original with him; the day of the New Moon, or first Sabbath of each mouth, of greater importance than the following common Sabbaths; Levitical law prescribes far greater sacrifices for the feast of the New Moon, or the first monthly Sabbath, which naturally ruled the other and commoner Sabbaths of the lunar month; the septenary division of time, or week, was known and observed by other nations—as Assyrians, Arabs, Indians, Peruvians, Greeks, and Romans; quotations from Dr. Kalisch, the celebrated modern Jewish Commentator on Genesis and Exodus; the Talmud on the weekly division of time,—how it originated with many different nations; Pro- fessor Baden Powell on the lunar month; so, also, Dr. Hessey in his Bampton lectures; the Hebrews, like most other Oriental nations, had 13 (lunar) months [43] in their year; of two remarkable modern discoveries,—(1) the Moabite Stone, and (2) the engraved Assyrian tablets,—both wonderfully assisting Modern Biblical Criticism; from the Assyrian tablets we gain much light,—we already know much of their astronomy, which proves to be marvellously correct and agreeing with own; also, of the holiness of the number 7, as held by them and by the Jews,—cases in point adduced from the New Testarnent and, also, of the origin among the Jews of their modern notion of a “Devil,” and of demons, which they brought away with them from Assyria; from the Moabite Stone, well engraved in plain grammatical Hebrew, we learn the truth of the last war between Moab and Israel,—widely differing from the vamped-up legendary tale of the same war in the Book of Kings; this stone similar to that one raised by Samuel 230 years before and called Ebenezer; a word to Ministers and to Sunday School Teachers, will they hear it? reasons assigned for preferring the Moabitish to the Jewish story; of the yearly tribute of sheep, said, by the Jewish writer, to have been paid by Moab to Israel; the size of the petty kingdom of Moab, only a tract 40 x 10 miles!

2. Time of Jesus and his Apostles: Jesus with his followers kept the Sabbath in a free and liberal manner, and not according to the so-called Divine Mosaic laws, nor in accordance with the Pharisees of his day; ample proofs given from the New Testatnent,—and by other authorities,—shewing his doings and his teachings respecting the Sabbath; more also, on this head, to be gained incidentally from many of his other teachings and doings; in all which Jesus ever shewed himself as the true and faithful servant of the only true God; his apposite introduction of the sublime war-cry of his nation noticed; reasonable deduction from the premises, that Jesus did not acknowledge any Divine law from Sinai respecting the observance of the Sabbath.

3. Time of the Apostles: Paul, who had been a zealous Pharisee, evidently kept the Saabbath much as Jesus did; proofs of this from the N.T.; first Council held at Jerusalem gave no “burdens” to the Gentile converts respecting the keeping of the Sabbath, hence the Sabbath could not have been of Divine origin; proofs given; Paul, in all his many and varied rules awl instructions to several Christian Churches, says nothing about Sabbath observance; and in his Epistles to the Romans and to the Colossians he positively states the Sabbath-day to be no better than any other day; Dean Alford’s remark thereon in his Greek Testament; Paul’s depreciatory language to the Galatian Church concerning the Sabbath; Wheatly’s plain and truthful comment thereon.

III. Ecclesiastical :—1. Primitive: for a time the Jewish Christian converts continued to assemble on the seventh (or Sabbath) day; soon, however, fell into neglect, through not having any Apostolical appointment; Bingham’s instructive statement thereon; early Ecclesiastical and Imperial laws wholly against the observance of the Jewish Sabbath; hence the sect of the Ebionites, and others, who observed the Jewish Sabbath, were condemned by the Council of Laodicea; Pope Gregory the Great’s statement concerning Antichrist and Sabbath observance; no Christian writers of the 1st and 2nd centuries ever attributed the keeping of Sunday to any Apostolical authority; ample proofs given; also, quotations from Justin Martyr, from St. Cyril, and from St. Jerome, all against the observance of the Jewish Sabbath; Jerome, also, incidentally shows how the Sunday was kept in his time,—a day of church service, of joy, and of common work; no Sunday league, no Sabbatarians then!



2. Time of the Reformation: quotations from the most eminent of the Reformers,—from Tyndal, from Luther, from Melancthon, from Calvin, and from others,—shewing their liberal views of the Christian Sunday; quotation from Mr Sidey’s published sermon, showing his many errors in a small compass,— Historically (both Civil and Ecclesiastical), [44] and Chronologically, also in his severe and informal deductions therefrom; of King James and his “Declaration, or Book of Sports;” quotation from the King’s “Declaration;” quotations from the old Church historian, Fuller, shewing how all that was brought to pass by the sperstitious Sabbatarians, with Fuller’s quaint and homely remarks thereon; fifteen years after that King Charles republished his father’s “Declaration,” but in a still milder form; obliged to do so through the opposition of the meddlesome Sabbatarian party; of a charge against Archbishop Laud on his trial, and his defence; the Church of Geneva (John Knox’s Own) allowed of Archery on Sundays, and Calvin there played at Bowls on that day.

3. Modern:—On the phrase used by Mr Sidey— “the right keeping of the Sabbath;” Mr Sidey’s views believed to be the very opposite of those of the Reformers and the Primitive Christian Church, of the Apostles and of Jesus; shewn (1) from the “shorter Catechism” (Presbyterian Church),—(2) Decrees of Kirk Sessions, and Acts of General Assembly Scotch Church,—(3) orders of Edinburgh Town Council,—and (4) statements of some Ministers of the Scotch Kirk, about their severe and “hateful” Sabbath observance laws, made in session before their brother Ministers —particularly those of Dr. Norman M’Leod, who spoke truly, bravely, thrillingly, as a true servant of God his remarks in part allowed by the Presbyterian ministers at that gathering, but of course, opposed; their peculiar Sabbath observance system has the dangerous effect of “weakening morality;” wretched (sanitary) state of Edinbirgh, particularly on the Sunday under that old Kirk system of obsolete Jewish superstition ; Dr M’Leod’s excellent. little work called “The Starling,” noticed; the late Sir Donald M’Lean’s favourable opinion upon it; of the present “Sabbath Alliance” party in Scotland, and their insufferably impudent Annual Report, containing language highly disrespectful against Queen Victoria,—a long quotation therefrom; how truly their words are in accordance with those of the Pharisees of the time of Jesus; they ought to have the Queen’s ancestor (James I.) to deal with them in his rough and ready way; reference to the Conference at Hampton Court, a.d. 1604 from all such “right keeping of the Sabbath” may Napier (and all N.Z.) ever be free ; better, of the two, to have King James’ “Book of Sports” republished here; curious, that, through out all Christendom, only the church of three petty highland countries, Ethiopia, Armenia, and Scotland,—cling to the Sabbatarian superstition; all three churches, too, being wholly discordant as to dogmas; Steam—the iron horse, the steam ship, and the press—will do wonders, and help to cure; but Sabbatarianism also in England, although only a small insignificant clique; Wilberforee’s truthful remarks on the melancholy comfortless British Sunday, quoted; a few English Bishops (some years ago) sought by letter to the Directors of the English Railway Companies to put a stop to excursion trains on Sundays! the Directors did not deign to reply—but wisely put it on the shelf; a selfish lot those English Bishops; apt remarks on their conduct; better had some in Napier not unwisely come forward with their letter to the Directors of the N.Z. Steam Navigation Company, to prevent the calling of our Mail steamers at Napier on Sunday; suitable quotations on true Religion from our English poets—Southey, and Tennyson; the Sabbatarian error largely bolstered up or supported by the two national British Churches—of England and of Scotland; already shown as to Scotland, by her Catechism and Church decrees,—and as to England, by her Ministers repeatedly reading from the Communion Table [“Altar,” sic!] the old worn-out theory of God having ordered the Jewish keeping of the Sabbath-day, and that because he made all things in six days! Of the carelessness, or thoughtlessness, or “happy ignorance” of such Ministers; pious lies “the weakening of morality”; the Bishop of Oxford’s adumiasion respecting [45] the creation of the world in six days; the Writer could not (if now ministering to a congregation) allow his congregation to be so deceived, as to the constant using of those old Church phrases without due explanation; a word to Napier Sabbatarians, as to their Sunday letters from England, and their Sunday milk from the country; a word, additional, as to the possible zealous looking after regular Church attendance on the Sabbath, on account of the “bawbees” —or the horrid unchristian and novel Sunday money gatherings, now never omitted! the Writer’s particular reasons and right to call attention to this,—from the fact of his having always opposed it, and that, too, when single-handed, and at no little cost to himself; the same fully explained; the Writer would not minister in any church where such Mammon worship was carried on; how easily Napier congregations may escape such sordid traffic; how the “Devil” laughs at it! the Gospel is not now preached to the poor; no room in the church for them any more than in the theatre; come with money, or stay away! Of Church reform, of its sure approach, yet not likely to begin from within; another word to Ministers; of Light breaking all around, the happy resuit of modern Biblical Criticism; shewn, especially to members of the Church of England, in three great works,—(1) the New Lectionary,—(2) the new Bible Commentary,—and (3) the new and Corrected Version of the Bible; remarks thereon several striking quotations from the new Bible Commentary on the Mosaic laws, largely supporting what has been herein written; noticeable remark by a learned English Bishop in Convocation respecting the new translation of the Bible; three small matters all lately occurring here in New Zealand in favour of Christian Sunday freedom noticed,—viz. opening of the Napier Athenæum on Sundays—running of 18 trains to and from the advanced town of Dunedin on that day—and the Presbyterians formally setting aside their Sacramental fast-day; also, a fourth and a greater one,—that of the State schools, wherein true Religion will be taught; the absolute necessity of reforming the Catechisms of the Churches; solemn veracious words of a modern English Archbishop on teaching only the Truth; a home question to all Ministers and Sunday School Teachers—that is, to those with living tender consciences; the writer’s serious conviction respecting the age of the Pentateuch, after more than 20 years’ study of this matter, showing its Divine authority as utterly untenable.

IV. Reasonably,—including theologically and humanly: ever hold to this— “the Sabbath was made for man;” first seek to be delivered from the old slavish Jewish superstition respecting the Sabbath, then we may begin to understand it; the Sunday (or seventh day’s rest) should be a day of refreshing; day given for general labour and night for rest ; remarks thereon and reasonable deductions drawn; (1) Sunday’s rest good for man’s physical nature; inaction alone not always rest, shown powerfully in children; Sunday often anything but a day of refreshment to them, owing to injudicious Ministers and parents; the righteous and natural rebellion of children against all restraint set down to their “sinful hearts,” or to “the Devil,” to the great and lasting injury of the poor child; plain remarks on the personality of “Old Nick”—recently preached up here in Napier to credulous hearers! the true rest of Sunday, is refreshment of body and mind; the ways of obtaining this are various, differing almost with everyone, so that each must choose for himself; (2) the Sunday’s rest is good for our moral nature; shewn by its necessity, and by the effect the beauties of Nature and the Works of God have upon us; (3) the Sunday’s rest is needed for our religious nature; remarks thereon; Common Worship the highest and noblest of all Sunday occupations; men may and do worship God when alone; worship strengthened when done in fitting company; true child of God has constant communion with his Father; truly happy strengthening and sanctified Sunday seasons of Religious worship have often been experienced both in England and in NZ; such will be known again, when [46] Ministers and Congregations become whole-hearted In that matter; then Sundays will again become days of rejoicing and refreshment; quotation from G. Herbert’s beautiful poem on Sunday; (4) our social nature needs above all the Sunday’s rest; the joys of the Sunday walk, the Sunday recreation, the Sunday holiday depicted; the great benefit arising from Sunday visits to Gardens—Museums—Aquariums—Galleries of Art and Science; quotation from official Annual Report of the Royal Gardens at Kew,— shewing the immense number of Sunday visitors, outnumbering those on all the other six days of the week taken together; of the great benefits to them; the Imperial Legislature should do all things possible in that direction, as such mental pleasures save from the grosser kinds; also the heads of the various Churches should act together for this purpose, both at home and in the Colonies; apt quotation from Mr Gladstone; both the State and the Churches should not overlook the smaller matters affecting the little wee folk,—who should be helped, honestly and openly, with an innocent face—to spend their well-earned Sunday holiday ld,—and so avoid the “weakening of morality”; a case in point given; a large Bench of liberal English Magistrates praised; over-officious Police condemned; Common Worship the Glory of the Christian Sunday; God has given us the knowledge of Himself in the Scriptures, and now in our day has also given us most wonderful and daily-increasing knowledge in many Sciences, which all alike come from one source—God; as great a sin to despise and disregard these gifts as to despise or to disregard the Bible; possibly all this Modern Light is intended (among other things) to teach us not to make an idol of the Bible, —towards which there long has been, and still is a tendency; comforting assurance—that all words of truth, whether in the Bible or out of the Bible, must ever stand—as sure as God himself; we should receive all that is true; quotation from Tennyson; God still speaks in many ways to man,— whether by prophets (preachers and teachers)—in the pulpit or out of the pulpit,—or by priests; when He speaks His words will both be heard and known:

Conclusion, Dr. Irons’ good and Christian advice,—not to be angry,—not to speak or write bitterly against the Truth,—and so be found fighting against God.






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