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If through enlarged vision among men of commerce and manufacture these same principles of human relationship could come to be a working creed for the supreme business enterprises of the nation, all America would soon be an object lesson of the reality of unselfish competition. WHAT IS AN "AMERICAN SUNDAY”?
To Follow Up Chapter VIII A well-informed man who goes to a Spanish country expects to find a bull-fight Sunday. In France the chief feature of the Day he knows will be a revel of race
gambling. In GerWhich Keystone For Sunday?
many he expects the heart of the Day to be the beer garden. Would Sunday whose heart was vampire film be any less unamerican?
A German lady who
to the United States by way of France and England said: “In Paris, everything seemed to say, 'Have pleasure; have pleasure': but in London every grey stone seemed to say‘Think,
think, think,'” HisCourtesy of Lord's Day Leader torically we have
been trained to hear, on Sunday especially, the challenge of democracy to “think,” on the problems of the nation and the world—the week days and nights having given us full opportunity for all the re-creation a manly man or a womanly woman desires.
But many are saying it would be better, they even say more “American,” to change everywhere, as we have in many places already, to the Sunday holiday.
Certainly it was not through the influence of any such Sunday that the word “American” got its present meaning as an adjective of high quality.
The Puritan Sunday was doubtless too austere, though far less so than is commonly supposed. There was much of "sweetness and light” in the Puritan Sabbath. Those were days when wild beasts and savages and tyranny and impurity must be fought, and such warfare naturally developed stern characters. But the undue solemnity of a day the Bible describes (Isa. 58: 13, 14) as a day for highest "delight," was long ago eliminated by the Puritan's descendants, and in the 19th Century the New England Sunday was the sweetest day in the world. Every worker, except the few engaged for a part of the day in works of necessity and mercy, was free from his task; able to use the day for rest in worship, or in any other way that did not needlessly destroy the rest of his fellows.
In that revised Puritan Sunday—that golden mean between the Puritan Sabbath and the Continental Sundayalmost the only labor and business was such as was required to keep the household warmed and fed, and to take due care of the sick, the children and the cattle. People got real rest in quiet walks and home talks and delightful reading, and inspiring fellowship with the best people at church, and helpful pulpit messages.
It was not a day of vexatious restrictions on "liberty," but a protected day of freedom for worship and from work. The only man restricted was the man who wanted to make some one else work on the rest day either for his enrichment or amusement, in violation of the American slogan: REST AND LET REST ON THE REST DAY. Henry Ward Beecher said: “The one great poem of New England is her Sunday. That has been her crystal dome overhead. When she ceases to have a Sunday, she will be like the landscape growing dark, all its lines blurred, its distances and gradations fast merging into sheeted darkness and night."
Selfishness has cut out much of the true rest of the real American Sunday to fill it with wearisome dissipations, that make the day a "pleasure exertion," which brings a "blue Monday." Talk about a "blue Sunday" it is "the morning after” that measures the real quality of a day. And the Sunday holiday does not bear the test, with its headache tomorrow, and heartache all the coming years.
Furthermore the pleasure Sunday is, in nearly all cases, a wholesale violation of law-is that “American”?
Is it "American" to require all whose labor is to sell amusements to work seven days in the week ? American statute books answer "No." Nearly all our States have reconsidered their laws again and again since the Civil War, and still forbid the labor and business of amusement vendors on Sunday.
To learn what is “American" we should turn, most of all to the Supreme Court, which said in 1886 in a unanimous opinion:
"LAWS SETTING ASIDE SUNDAY AS A DAY OF REST ARE UPHELD, NOT FROM ANY RIGHT OF THE GOVERNMENT TO LEGISLATE FOR THE PROMOTION OF RELIGIOUS OBSERVANCES,
BUT FROM ITS RIGHT TO PROTECT ALL PEOPLE FROM THE PHYSICAL AND MORAL DEBASEMENT WHICH COMES FROM UNINTERRUPTED LABOR. SUCH LAWS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN DEEMED BENEFICENT AND MERCIFUL LAWS, ESPECIALLY TO THE POOR AND DEPENDENT, TO THE LABORERS IN OUR FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS, AND IN THE HEATED ROOMS OF OUR CITIES : AND THEIR VALIDITY HAS BEEN SUSTAINED BY THE HIGHEST COURTS OF THE STATES.”
In the face of that decision is it not downright impudence for foreigners and Saturdarians and Sunday profiteers to say that Sunday laws are "unconstitutional religious legislation," as if the Supreme Court could be overruled by the whim of a private citizen or the dictum of a petty sect? It is one of the alarming proofs that American adults are about half morons—twelve years old or less mentally, though full grown physically, as indicated by the War examinations of our young men—that Seventh Day Adventists are able to put over on great audiences and even some high officials a sectarian program opposing all Sunday rest laws as "religious legislation," in face of decisions of the Supreme Court to the contrary, that would be known to every American who is even twelve years old if teachers taught the most important things that citizens should know. Surely every public school should tell pupils why schools and courts and commerce and Congress suspend their work one day in every week.
To learn what is truly “American" we also turn to the great Americans: Presidents, judges, generals—what a roll call it is of our greatest men, who commend our
1 The International Reform Bureau, 206 Pa. Avenue, S. E., Washington, D. C., has hundreds of copies of a strong booklet on "The Civil Sabbath, by Dr. Josiah Strong, author of "Our Country,” one copy of which will be sent free, on request with stamp; more at $2 per 100, postpaid. It shows that Sunday laws are not only consistent with liberty but its essential support. If 25 cents is sent we will send a full set of pamphlets, booklets and leaflets on every aspect of Sunday, including Sunday movies and 7th Day Adventists.
American Sunday, with no first class statesmen on the other side! The Seventh Day Adventists are forever quoting some general utterances of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Grant and others against the union of Church and State and religious legislation, with the unwarranted assumption that such utterances mean opposition to Sunday laws. But the strong direct approval of Sunday laws by these statesmen and others refute this illogical inference.
Let us listen in, as to a radio message from the past, on our great men.
President George Washington, Order for Sunday Rest in Army and Navy: "Men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” (Lincoln, Jackson, Harrison and Wilson also issued orders that Sunday should be observed, so far as possible, in the military service.)
President Abraham Lincoln: “As we keep or break the Sabbath day, we nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope by which man rises."
President Benjamin Harrison: “Experience and observation convince me that all who work with hand or brain require the rest which a general observance of the Sabbath only can secure. The philanthropist and the Christian may approach the subject from different directions; but whether we regard man as an animal or immortal, we should unite in securing for him the rest that body and spirit both demand for their best condition and highest good. Those who do not find the Divine command in the Book cannot fail to find it in the man.”
President William McKinley: "I am in favor of Sunday legislation and a strict observance of the Christian Sabbath.”
President Theodore Roosevelt: “Experience shows that a day of rest is essential to mankind; that it is demanded by civilization, as well as by Christianity.”