« 前へ次へ »
fess that I was extremely desirous of observing
OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH. 191
in the public walks. It seems to have no distinct moral object with the people around me. Now this is what, above all things, I would secure. But whether the object is best secured by the views and usages that prevail among us is the question. We ought, on this subject, to look at the general principles on which time is to be used to the best account: or on which, in other words, time is to be devoted and hallowed to religious uses. Suppose I wish to set apart a day to any intellectual or moral use. How shall I best arrange it ! And here, let me say, that I know of nothing in the Scriptures that forbids the application of such general reasoning. To sanctify a day is to set it apart for a religious purpose; and the question is, how is that purpose to be best accomplished? Now, I say, that if I were to arrange the employments of any day, in order to turn its hours to the greatest account for my mind or heart, I should not devote all its hours to study, reading, meditation, or prayer. That is to say, in other words, I must give some of its hours to relaxation. And this is what any man does of necessity, let his creed or system be what it will. So that the only question is, what sort of relaxation a man shall give himself. Shall it be taken within doors, or abroad? Shall a man sit down
in a sort of superstitious stupor, as thinking that there is something in gloom and dulness that is peculiarly acceptable to Heaven; or shall he go forth under the open sky, and amid the fresh breezes' Shall he sleep away some hours of the day, or spend them in easy conversation and use. ful exercise ? Which mode of relaxation—for relaxation there must be—will be most favourable to health, to cheerfulness, and to agreeable associations with the Sabbath? But it may be said, that it is dangerous to depart from the old strictness, and that the people will go fast enough and far enough, without being helped on in their course. I grant that there is danger arising from the boundless freedom of the country. I certainly fear that the innocent relaxations of the Sabbath might go to excess and disorder. But may we not hope, that an intelligent and wholesome public opinion is to lay restraints as effectual as bayonets and a police? Besides, the danger exists, whether we discuss the subject or not. Is it not better to take the right and tenable ground at once, than to take a wrong ground which is continually sliding beneath our feet, and bearing us and everything else with it? Yet more: licentiousness is not the only danger. There is danger in bondage, too. For what, I ask, is the effect
OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH. 193
and result of the old strictness? Some, it makes demure and superstitious on Sunday; others, it makes reckless. They take greater liberties with the day than the most of those who make it a holyday in Europel They ride, they travel, they labour, they haunt taverns, they engage in hunting and fishing, they write letters of business; they cannot banish the spirit of business even from one day out of seven. Many, and especially of the young, are perhaps still more injured by the old strictness. They dislike the Sabbath. They dread its approach; they are glad when it is gone. And as the Sabbath is most closely associated with religion, they come to get repulsive ideas of religion itself. It is a gloomy thing; it is a superstition; it is a peculiarity; it is a bondage. It is something to be endured; it is something to be sighed about, rather than acted upon; and the result is, that it exerts no genial, no welcome, no thorough nor permanent influence upon the heart. In short, false views of the Sabbath are answerable for no small portion of that host of dreadful popular errors, which deform Christianity, degrade its disciples, cut off from the world so many sources of happiness, and open, in the very bosom of life, so many fountains of sadness, dejection, and misery. WOL. I.-R.
On the whole, as a Sabbatarian, I am inclined to be at once very strict and very liberal. I would have a more practical and pious use made of the day, than is common with us. I would have as many hours devoted to public worship and to pri. vate reading and meditation, as can profitably be given. The right ground on this subject seems to me to be high ground. No hours in the year should be more busy, more absorbing, more sacred to effort and improvement, than Sabbath hours, No hours in the merchant's countingroom, or at the student's desk, should be more earnestly devoted, But this done, I would give the utmost freedom to all innocent, decorous, and quiet relaxation. I believe that this disposition of time would give us a day far more interesting, useful, and happy. I am persuaded that this spreading of superstitious restraints over the whole day, tends at once to weaken the springs of those religious exercises, and of those recreative, social, and domestic enjoyments, for which it was alike, though not equally ordained. There is an air about the people at Schaffhausen that pleases me more than anything Ihave seen on the Continent. We meet bright, intelligent faces everywhere; the people appear more cheerful; we hear laughter oftener; the children look hap"