Imatges de pÓgina

himself to worship at all, there seems to be no place for comprehension, or any expedient left, but a quiet secession. All other differences may be compromised by silence. If fects and schisms be an evil, they are as much to be avoided by one side as the other. If sectaries are blamed for taking unnecessary offence, established churches are no less culpable for unnecessarily giving it: they are bound at least to produce a command, or a reason of equivalent utility, for shutting out any from their communion, by mixing with divine worship, doctrines, which, whether true or false, are unconnected, in their nature, with devotion,

[blocks in formation]

C H A P. VI.


[ocr errors]

N assembly cannot be collected, unless

the time of assembling be fixed and known before-hand; and if the design of the assembly require that it be held frequently, it is easieit that it should return at stated intervals. This produces a necellity of appropriating set seasons to the social offices of religion. It is also highly convenient, that the same seasons be obferved throughout the country, that all may be employed, or all at leisure together ; for, if the recess from worldly occupation be not general, one man's business will perpetually interfere with another man's devotion; the buyer will be calling at the shop when the seller is gone to church. This part, therefore, of the religious distinction of feasons, namely, a general intermission of labour and business during times previously set apart for the exercise of public worship, is founded in the reasons which make public worship itself a duty. But the celebration


of divine service never occupies the whole day. What remains, therefore, of Sunday, beside the part of it employed at church, must be considered as a mere rest from the ordinary occupations of civil life ; and he who would defend the institution, as it is required by law to be observed in Christian countries, unless he can produce a command for a Christian Sabbath, must point out the uses of it in that view.

First, then, that interval of relaxation which Sunday affords to the laborious part of mankind contributes greatly to the comfort and satisfaction of their lives, both as it refreshes them for the time, and as it relieves their fix days labour by the prospect of a day of rest always approaching; which could not be said of casual indulgences of leisure and rest, even were they more frequent than there is reason to expect they would be, if left to the discretion or humanity of interested task-masters. To this difference it may be added, that holidays, which come seldom and unexpected, are unprovided, when they do come, with any duty or employhent; and the manner of spending them being regulated by no public decency or established usage, they are commonly consumed in rude, if not criminal pastimes, in ftupid Roth or F 3


brutish intemperance. Whoever con Giders how much fabbatical institutions conduce, in this refpect, to the happiness and civilization of the labouring classes of mankind, and reflects how great a majority of the human species these classes compose, will acknowledge the utility, whatever he

may believe of the origin, of this distinction; and will, consequently, perceive it to be every man's duty to uphold the observation of Sunday when once established, let the establishment have proceeded from whom or from what authority it will.

Nor is there any thing lost to the community by the intermission of public industry one day in the week. For in countries tolerably advanced in population and the arts of civil life, there is always enough of human labour, and to spare. The difficulty is not so much to procure, as to employ it. The addition of the seventh day's labour to that of the other six would have no other effect than to reduce the price. The labourer himself, who deferved and suffered most by the change, would gain nothing.

2. Sunday, by fuspending many public diverfions, and the ordinary rotation of employment, leaves to men of all ranks and professions suffident leisure, and not more than what is suffi


cient, both for the external offices of Christianity, and the retired, but equally necessary, duties of religious meditation and enquiry. It is true, that many do not convert their leisure to this purpose; but it is of moment, and is all which a public constitution can effect, that to every one be allowed the opportunity.

3. They whose humanity embraces the whole sensitive creation, will esteem it no inconsiderable recommendation of a weekly return of public rest, that it affords a respite to the toil of brutes. Nor can we omit to recount this amongst the uses, which the divine Founder of the Jewish fabbath expressly appointed a law of the institution.

We admit, that none of these reasons shew why Sunday should be preferred to any other day in the week, or one day in seven to one day in sixor eight: but these points, which in their nature are of arbitrary determination, being established to our hands, our obligation applies to the subsisting establishment, so long as we confess, that some such institution is necessary, and are neither able, nor attempt to substitute any other in its place.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinua »