DURING a late tour in France, North Italy, and Switzerland,
I passed successive Lord's days in various towns and country districts. These I
propose to take up in their order, giving a variety of facts and observations
gathered up in the course of repeated visits to the Continent, and intimately
connected with its religious interests as well as with our own. I hope my
remarks will prove to be what the honest old woman, on hearing a dry, cold
sermon said it was not, both 'edifing' and 'divertin'; in other words both
instructive and interesting.
In our times, as if the prediction was about to be fulfilled,"This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come,"many are making strenuous and systematic efforts to secularise the Lord's day. They would introduce continental Sundays in its place. Giving to the pursuits of business or of pleasure the hours that should be spent in communion with God, the piety of many foreign countries, Protestant as well as Popish, has been left to decay, if not altogether to die - like a tree denied the showers and sunshine of the skies. In these circumstances it may be well, by way of introduction, to devote this chapter to some general remarks - such as may combat and remove causeless prejudices; may increase our estimate of the value of the Sabbath; and may induce us, rather than cast it off, to cling more closely to its devout observance, as to the sheet-anchor by which our country has rode, and will still ride, in safety, when storms roar and the shore is strewed with wrecks.
I may begin by remarking that "Sundays Abroad" is an expression which may grate on the ears of some good people. They have been accustomed to regard the use of the term Sunday as indicating loose notions of the way in which the fourth commandment should be observed; or, worse still, the idea that, though binding on the Jews under the Mosaic economy, this commandment is not binding on Christians - having been taken from the Tables of the Law, and buried with all ceremonial ordinances in the grave of Christ. We do not believe that. On the contrary, we believe that He who, to use his own words, came not to destroy but to fulfil the Law, has lent additional sanction to its precepts, and in place of weakening has strengthened the obligations which bind us to obey the fourth equally with the other nine commandments.
Some object to the term because of its heathen origin; but those who are so scrupulous should equally object to the names of the other days of the week - Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and the rest - since these are named, as much as Sunday, in honour of pagan gods. In this matter the Quakers, who distinguish the days by the use of numerals in place of names, speaking of them as First, Second, Third, and so on, are consistent; and of all who object to the use of the term Sunday because of its idolatrous origin, are alone consistent.
If we are in this matter to follow closely the custom of primitive Christianity, there can be no doubt by what name we should denominate the day consecrated to public religious worship. That day was changed during the apostolic age, and no doubt by divine authority, from the last to the first day of the week - instructions to that effect, though not recorded, having probably been given by our Lord, while holding converse with his disciples during the forty days that elapsed between his resurrection from the grave and his ascension to the skies. That it was not on what the Jews called the Sabbath, or seventh day, but on what was usually called Sunday, or first day of the week, the Apostolic Church met for worship, is evident from a variety of facts mentioned in the New Testament, as well as from the writings both of heathen and Christian authors. And it is equally evident from the works of inspired and also ordinary ecclesiastical writers, that the term Sabbath was exclusively applied in the early and apostolic days of the church to Saturday, or the seventh day of the week. The early Christians did sometimes call their day of worship Sunday, but never called it the Sabbath. In their eyes, without overlooking that rest from a finished creation which it was at first established to commemorate, it was specially associated with our Lord's resurrection, and the great redemption which that act closed and crowned. The Lord's day was therefore the name by which it was usually known.
Without going so far on such a subject as to ask, -
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose,
By any other name would smell as sweet,"
I may remark, as rather curious, that this,"the pearl of days,"as it has been called, finds, perhaps, its most appropriate title, not so much in our Protestant, as in some Popish countries. In Scotland it is usually called the Sabbath; in England Sunday; but in France where it is called Dimanche, in Italy where it is called Domenica, and in Spain where it is called Domingo, they use what I deem its best and most scriptural title. Each of these different but nearly related terms means "the Lord's day" and for reasons already stated, we prefer this to any other term.
A devout observance of the day has been hindered rather than helped by the extremely rigid and gloomy views which some good people have entertained regarding the proper way of observing the fourth commandment; nor can I deny that my own countrymen once, and to some extent a portion of them still, have thereby furnished occasions for attack, ridicule, and ribaldry to the enemies of religion. Let the blame, however, of this be laid where it is due - the saddle put on the right horse.
There are two sides to every question; and extreme views on one side, as by a law of nature, usually result in equally extreme views on the other; and just as we have seen a man, a rope-dancer, who was about to fall in one direction throw himself to the other in order to maintain his balance, we see how mankind - churches, communities, individuals - in avoiding, or resisting, one extreme, have rushed into the opposite. Thus France, lacking the broad basis of moral and religious principles which forms the only sure foundation for a constitutional government, keeps oscillating like a pith-ball between opposite electric poles - now repelled from despotism into democracy, and now from democracy over into despotism.
Thus also John Wesley and Toplady, as the controversy waxed hot between them, grew, the one as an Arminian and the other as a Calvinist, more and more extreme in their views; repelling each other, as each assumed a more pronounced and advanced position from those milder and sounder sentiments they both held at the commencement of their discussion - a discussion, by the way, and not the only one of the kind, which shows not only how good men, but even hymn- writers, may be very angry and acrid controversialists, whose harps seem to have no such influence on their temper as David's had on the spirit of Saul -Thus also the intellectual and cultivated classes of France and Italy have recoiled from the credulity of Popery into the incredulity of scepticism; believing once in winking Madonnas and bleeding nuns, they now believe in nothing. Thus ritualism also in Oxford drove many independent thinkers into rationalism; and that, again, with its chilling temperature and daring speculations, by the action of a natural recoil, carried over others, ill instructed but devout, into the arms of Rome.
In all such cases, error breeds error. Not, however, according to the original law of creation, after "its kind," but the opposite; and this goes far to account for two feelings, or what may be reckoned failings, common to Scotchmen.
It is more than probable that it was the efforts made, through the Book of Sports, and otherwise, to secularise the Lord's day, and convert it, as in Popish countries, into one of pleasure and amusement, that drove the piety and patriotism of Scotland into the opposite extreme. It is by stiffening the back and assuming a rigid attitude a wrestler resists the force of the antagonist, who would double him up and bear him to the ground; and it is no wonder that Scotland, not in the time of Knox however, but afterwards, in resisting such as sought to make the Sabbath a day of gaiety, did stiffen her back, and, assuming a too rigid attitude, made it to some extent one of gloom. Her people fully admitted the duty of discharging works of necessity and mercy on that day; and if they unduly contracted the circle of these, the blame chiefly lies, not with them, but with those who, breaking down every sacred fence, unduly widened it, and attempted to undermine the religion of the nation by turning its Sabbaths into days of public amusement.
But, however this may be, and whatever defence may be made for failings of which it can be said they "leant to virtue's side, the conduct of some who advocate the cause of the Sabbath admits neither of apology nor defence. Bringing "strange fire" to God's altar, animated less by principle than prejudice and passion, they have injured the cause they professed to serve. Through the mask they wore, as they cried with Jehu,"Come, see my zeal for the Lord," intolerance, bigotry, and hateful passions have glowed and glared; and men have concluded, and with justice, that their bitterness, narrow- mindedness, and malignity, were breaches of the law of God more flagrant than the errors, if errors they were, which they condemned. And since, just as fire is evoked from the coldest flint by the stroke of steel, intolerance breeds resistance, is it not to be regretted that the cause of the Lord's day should be advocated in a manner much more likely to repel men into error than win back the erring to the truth! Ministers of the Gospel they may be called, and "defenders of the faith" they may fancy themselves to be, but with their sour faces, their overflowing bile, their dogmatism and self-conceit, their bitter tongues and uncharitable tempers, how unlike are such men to this lovely picture from the hand of St. Paul: "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men; apt to teach; patient; in meekness instructiug those that oppose themselves: if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth!"
And while the cause of a devout observance of the Lord's day has suffered from the intolerance and uncharitableness of some, it has been, through the inconsistencies of others, deeply wounded in the house of its friends. No man is out-and-out consistent; and the inconsistencies of "Sabbatarians" - as they are reproachfully called - form no more valid argument against the soundness of their views than those of the best Christians against the truth of Christianity. But I do not deny their existence. On the contrary, I confess it; and to teach the friends of religion greater care lest they furnish occasion to its enemies to blaspheme, I shall here mention an example, and what appeared a glaring example of inconsistency.
Many years ago, circumstances required me to visit the North Highlands, where I spent some very happy days in the house of a minister. He was neither a fanatic nor a fool, but a man of powerful mind; a devout Christian, and, in the cause of what he esteemed truth, bold as a lion. Right or wrong as to principles, he had left a sweet home and laid down a good living, at the call of conscience, casting himself with wife and children on the care of God. Like priest, like people, as the Bible says. His flock were uncommonly intelligent; having men among them better acquainted with the Word of God, and abler to expound its doctrines and enforce its duties, than many ministers - as I had proof of at the public meeting of the congregation held, as is common in many parts of the North, on the Friday before the Communion.
Their independence was displayed in the bold stand they made for what they thought right, in opposition to superiors who had the power to cast them on the road, out of house and hold; and their high morality stands out honourably in those statistics of legitimate and illegitimate births which should make many counties, both of England and Scotland, blush; and which, by-the-bye, prove that those counties - Ross, Sutherland, and Caithness, for instance - that are the most remarkable for a strict observance of the Lord's day, are also the most remarkable for chastity and purity of morals. That cannot be denied; and those who seek to secularise the Lord's day are cleverer than I take them to be, if they can show that there is no more connection between a holy Sabbath and a virtuous life than there was between the appearance of the Goodwin Sands and the building of Tenterden steeple.
Yet see what a handle these good people furnished, by their inconsistency, to the gibes of him who "sitteth in the scorner's chair." Dr. Chalmers, on the first occasion on which he encountered a minister with a flowing beard, was observed to fall into a brown study, out of which he came to amuse the company greatly, by looking across the table and saying, with a serious face, "Doctor, are you qualifying for the Jewish Mission?" I, being neither so qualified, nor qualifying, said to my host, as I retired to my bedroom on Saturday night, "I may ring for hot water in the morning?" On this he instantly raised his hands, saying, "Hush, hush!" Astonished, and taken quite aback, and fancying, from his deprecatory manner and look, that he had greatly misunderstood my question, I repeated it. But this only called forth a more startling and emphatic warning, followed by this explanation, soto voce "Speak of shaving on the Lord's day, and you need never preach more in -shire" However much I might disapprove of customs that required a tradesman to open shop on Sunday for such a purpose, I could not see the difference between a man shaving his beard and washing his lace on that day. This want of logic, however, was a small matter compared with a want of consistency I could not reflect on without a little grief and much astonishment - this, namely, that in hundreds of houses where you could not get, for love or money, one drop of hot water to shave with on the Lord's day, you would get plenty wherewith to brew whisky-toddy - as if whisky was not the bane of the country, the present and eternal ruin of thousands, as well as the main cause both of our poverty and crime.
On the other hand, the interests of the Lord's day, and also of truth, require that I should tell English readers who have not crossed the "border," that. the pictures of a Scottish Sabbath they are furnished with by some of their writers are not true - are quite untrue. I have no objections to a little harmless caricature - hitting off the weak points of a people or person, and admit that it may even do good; the exaggeration which is an essential element of caricature, like a magnifying glass, revealing faults which had otherwise been overlooked, and perhaps never amended. But in matters belonging to the worship of God, burlesque, as much as fun at a funeral, is quite out of place; and burlesque is the only term I can apply to the descriptions which some English papers serve up to their readers of a Scottish Sabbath.
It is no new thing for men, either in their ignorance, or because they are of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith," to attack religion through the sides of its holy day; and so to misrepresent the views and conduct of those who observe it, as to hold them up to ridicule and contempt. For example, Seneca, the old Roman moralist, charged the Jews with indolence, because they abstained on the seventh day from their ordinary avocations. Juvenal makes them on that account the subject of his biting satire. Tacitus, the historian, says that they kept the Sabbath in honour of Saturn; another heathen authority charges them with observing it in honour - and no doubt with the rites - of Bacchus, the god of drunkenness and of wine; while another says it was observed by the Jews in commemoration of their being cured of Sabbo - the term which gave its name to the day, and was used by the Egyptians to describe an infamous disease.
The best answer I can, perhaps, furnish to these libels affecting Scotland is to draw an honest and candid picture of the manner in which the Lord's day was observed in the home of my youth. Conversation about the ordinary business of life was not engaged in, nor allowed. Neither dinners were given, nor visitors received - even ministers only on rare occasions; it being found that when any addition was made to the usual family circle the conversation was apt to slide into common affairs. No letters were taken from the post-office, nor any but religious books read; nor were the newspapers looked at, although in these days our armies were in the battle-field, fighting the French. Gazettes were ever and anon coming out with accounts of bloody and hard-won victories; and such was the anxiety and thirst for news that I have seen a crowd gathered before our door to hear one of my elder brothers, standing on a chair, read the news from a London paper, the only one that in these days of dear newspapers and difficult communication came to the town. No walk was taken but in the garden and to the church, which we attended regularly both forenoon and afternoon. In the evening, my father, who had the catechism - the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly of Divines - -at his finger ends, as they say, used to put us through our drill in its questions and theology; and I think I see him still in his knee-breeches, white woollen stockings, and white cravat - his costume both on Sunday and Saturday - tall, erect, his dark crisp hair dashed with grey, walking up and down the floor of the dining-room, as was his wont, with nine children and three women servants ranged up by the walls, each in turn having a question to answer.
Besides this, the younkers had to repeat portions of the psalms which they had committed to memory, and also the texts of the day; while an elder brother, who had a powerful intellect and gigantic memory, gave a summary of the sermons. So, with the rest of the evening filled up by the perusal of religious books and conversation suitable to the holy day, the Sabbath passed away like a flood that fertilises the land it overflows, leaving a blessing behind it. We were not allowed to prepare our week-day school tasks; still less to indulge in fun or levity, or our ordinary games and amusements. It presents the matter, no doubt, in an exaggerated form, but we were trained to regard play and sport with somewhat of the views, without the bitterness, expressed in the rebuke - undeserved indeed - which an old woman hurled at the head of the late Duke of Argyll. His Grace, then Lord John Campbell, with the patriotism that for long centuries has distinguished his family, had pushed on to Edinburgh in command of a corps of Fencibles, at the time Buonaparte hung with a vast army, like a thunder cloud on the heights of Boulogne, threatening our island with invasion. Lord John had the habit, when absorbed in thought, of whistling a tune, and, quite unconscious of it, was so engaged as he lay, on a Sunday morning, over the window of his hotel in Princes Street, waiting the bells to lead his Highlandmen to church. Something less musical than bells roused him from his reverie. A voice, sharp, though cracked and quavering, drew his attention to the pavement; and there stood an old woman with her Bible in one hand, shaking the other, which trembled with rage and indignation as she cried up,"Ye reprobat, ye reprobat!"
Scorners may take advantage of cases - exceptional cases - of fanaticism, to hold up Sabbatarians, as they call them, to ridicule; but I have no doubt that - however their bad qualities may be accounted for - my countrymen owe many of their best to the manner in which they were trained to "remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy." Passing one whole day each week in the elevating exercises of divine worship, in, I may say, the immediate presence of God, in listening to sermons of such a character as set the wheels of their minds in motion, in catechetical instruction, in reading the Bible and books calculated to improve the heart as well as instruct the mind - they acquired a serious and thoughtful cast; and along with that a remarkable acquaintance with the Word of God, and even the profounder questions of theology. Perhaps our Sunday services were somewhat more calculated to make us hard-headed than warm-hearted Christians; but we are naturally little demonstrative.
They say a Scotchman never tells his wife he likes her till he is dying; and, indeed, I knew one who did not do so till he was dead - stating in his will that, though he had not been demonstrative, to convince his wife, Lady , how much he had loved her, he left her such and such an estate. Yet hard-headed, more than warm-hearted, as Scotch piety may seem, that quality has not been without its value in days of trial - the hard head has stood many a heavy knock in battle, and came out triumphant from conflicts before which religion of a gentler nature and softer fibre would probably have succumbed. I admit that such strict observance of the Lord's day, as some call Puritanical, could not be altogether pleasant to childhood. Children are volatile and giddy. But let it be remembered that the first lesson of religion is, "If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross, deny himself daily, and follow me." Religion made easy, is a thing I have less faith in than in books entitled, Grammar or Arithmetic, Latin or Greek, made easy. Nor, be it observed, were the habits of patient endurance, of obedience, of self-denial and self-control, acquired through a strict observance of the Lord's day, without good fruit, even for this world, to say nothing of the next. To these, more than to anything else, Scotchmen, when they went forth to push their way in the world, owed a large measure of their proverbial success.
But, however that may be, we live in an age when children may be reared in a holy observance of the Lord's day with less difficulty to their parents, and less self-denial to themselves, than in my young days. Then there were no Magazines suited to the capacity, and by prints made attractive to the taste, of childhood. After Legh Richmond's tracts, the historical parts of Scripture (so full of stirring incident, marvellous miracles, pathetic tales, and bloody battles), the oft-read story of Scottish martyrs, and an old-fashioned copy of Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," illustrated by the rudest woodcuts of Christiana with her children, Christian with his staff, Giant Despair with his bludgeon, Mr. Greatheart with his sword, and the Pope seated at the mouth of a cave strewed with mouldering skulls, biting his nails at the pilgrims as they passed - we had no reading peculiarly attractive to childhood.
Nowadays, with books adapted to the minds of children, and richly illustrated with plates and pictures, there is no reason why the day consecrated to religion should drag heavily," like the wheels of Pharoah's chariots; why the Sabbath, even to childhood, should not be "a delight," as well as the holy of "the Lord, and honourable." With the cheapness, the variety, the piquancy, and the attractiveness of periodicals and other Sunday books, there is no excuse for old or young seeking relaxation in museums, or public gardens, or Sunday excursions - for any saying of the Sabbath, "It is a weariness, when will it be over?" As to the plea of health, set up for Sunday promenades and Sunday excursion trains, there is no truth in it." These are neither works of necessity nor of mercy. I have heard of those who bitterly regretted their having profaned and wasted the Lord's day on them. But who, on the death-bed that closed the best-spent life, ever thought that he had kept the Sabbath too strictly, or regretted that he had spent too much time on the concerns of his soul? If women would spend less on flowers and finery, and men on beer, spirits, and tobacco, they could spare an hour or two - were they needed - from each day's labour for more than the relaxation that health requires. Statistics have no bias either way; and to them I confidently and boldly appeal. They show that the good -old way of hallowing the Sabbath is most conducive not to morals only, but to wealth and health and length of days; that Sabbath-keepers, with happier homes, have longer lives than Sabbath-breakers; that in this, as in other respects, "godliness is profitable for all things, having the promise both of the life that now is, and of that which is to come."
To secularise the Lord's day is an object men are driving at under cover of regard to the interests of the poor. Care for the poor! - a wretched pretence on the part, at least, of many who make it, and a delusion in all who believe it. Let a breach be once made, and work, as on the Continent, will rush in at the back of play; and in the end seven days' labour will bring no higher wages than are now earned by six. It is not in those Popish or Protestant countries where this day is almost wholly given up to business or pleasure, but here and in America, in the two countries of the world where it stops the wheels of labour, closes theatres, and opens churches, that workmen earn the largest wages, enjoy the greatest freedom, and dwell in the happiest homes.
In every country where it is honoured, the Sabbath is the Palladium of liberty and the Ark of religion. A nation trained through its devout observance to the knowledge of God and, practice of piety, will neither aspire to be tyrants, nor submit to be slaves. Looking only to the happy influence which the belief in God has on the interests of society, Voltaire, profligate, sceptic, Deist, if not Atheist as he was, said," If there is no God, we must invent one!"As much might be said for the Sabbath day. As much was said by one of the greatest and most sagacious men our own or any other country has produced. I refer to Adam Smith, author, among other famous works, of "The Wealth of Nations" the father of free trade, and founder of the policy which is now that of Britain, and will, by-and-by, be that of the world. Though not a believer, but a sceptic, such a temporal blessing did he esteem the day of rest, that when Sir John Sinclair - then a young man, who lived to entertain very different views - read to him, with the view of publication, a paper he had written against the Lord's day, Adam Smith advised him to commit his manuscript, not to the printer, but to the flames. And why ? - because he regarded the Sabbath, even as observed in Scotland, as of the highest advantage to the sons of toil - as in many respects one of our greatest blessings. Like the favourable testimony of an unwilling, or a hostile, witness in a court of law, this is an invaluable judgment on behalf of the Lord's day. Its enemies, for lack of argument, have stigmatized the devout observance of the Lord's day as Scotch, Presbyterian, Puritanical. By such terms they betray more than their animus - they betray their ignorance. No way ashamed of what they esteem opprobrious epithets, we might be content to say with the Hebrew martyrs, We are not careful to answer thee in this matter"; but lest the good cause should suffer through the misrepresentations of its opponents and the prejudices of others, let us see what foundation there is for statements which appeal, not to Scripture or to reason - to nothing but national or sectarian passions.
On tracing Christianity up to its source, we find that one well-marked feature of primitive times was a strict and devout observance of the Lord's day. Let a single statement on this point suffice. I extract it from the writings of an eminent divine, and no Presbyterian. "In the primitive times," he says, "this holy day was observed in the most solemn manner - it was spent in a due and constant attendance on all the offices of public worship, solemn prayers and praises were offered to God and hymns sung in honour of Christ, the Lord's supper was constantly celebrated, and collections made for the maintenance of the clergy and relief of the poor; they abstained as much as they could from bodily labour, and no trivial pretences were admitted for any one's absence from public worship - severe censures were passed on all who were absent without some urgent necessity."
In the face of such testimony can any man dare to stigmatize the strict observance of this day as Scotch, Presbyterian, or Puritanical? Even in the dark ages, when religion passed into the shadow of a great eclipse, some beams of this early regard for the Lord's day may still be seen playing upon its surface. Those old, great, grey stones which stand safe from the plough on our heaths and moors, furnish in one of the legends that relate their history a curious proof of this. For their true origin we must go back, in many cases, to the days of the Druids; to ages preceding the introduction of Christianity. But the old monkish legend, long universally received, and still found lingering with other popish and also pagan superstitions in some parts of the country, assigns them a later date and another origin. These mysterious objects, the lone tenants of wild moor and mountain, were once living beings - men and women whom God in judgment had turned into stone for working on the Sabbath day.
Absurd as this legend is, it proves the reverence with which good men regarded the Lord's day even in the dark ages; and how, as if it was esteemed one of the most sacred and lofty objects of the Christian faith, light, like that of a setting sun on the top of a snowy alp, continued to lend it some glory and illumination when all below was wrapped in the - shades of night. If my readers will turn to a very interesting book, Dean Stanley's "History of Westminster Abbey, they will read there another legend bearing on this subject; but bearing, not another, but the same testimony. The Abbey was consecrated, so the story runs, by a celestial being. The time of his appearance was a Sunday evening, and his form that of a man. He was ferried, at his own request, across the Thames by a fisherman whom he found engaged fishing for salmon. So soon as he stepped from the boat to the bank where the Abbey stood, the whole sky burst into a blaze of light, and the astonished fisherman, as he rested on his oars, saw a great multitude of angels descending, each carrying a lighted candle in his hand. Attended by this brilliant train, substitutes for surpliced choir and shaven monks, the celestial being proceeded to consecrate the House of God, returning when the ceremony was brought to a close by the way he came, but not till, along with an injunction that the Thames henceforth should pay tithe of salmon to the monks, he warned his ferryman to abstain henceforth from fishing on the Lord's day.
A wild, yet to those who love that day a precious legend this - a valuable piece of history - a star shining through the clouds and gloom of a long dark night. It shows how sacred the Lord's day was held by the best men in the worst ages of the church; in England as well as Scotland; among other religionists than Presbyterians; and in times long antecedent to the fall of Popery and the rise of Puritanism.
Passing from the dark ages to the period of the Reformation, we find the Lord's day, in every country that emerged from Popery, reasserting, to a greater or less extent, its divine claim to be devoutly observed. In some cases this claim was not very fully made by the Reformers. In the violence of their recoil from a system of forms, saints' days, and "will worship," they were carried away into the opposite extreme - into holding loose, rather than strict, views respecting the Lord's day itself. It has turned out all the worse for every country where this happened, and men, in cutting off the excrescences that had grown on Christianity, wounded the body of the tree. Is it not a remarkable and important, as it is an undeniable fact, that in those countries, such as England and Scotland, where the claims of the Lord's day were most fully made by the leaders of the Reformation and responded to by their followers, religion has been preserved most pure from errors, and public manners most free from vice? So true is this that the Sabbath, which is at once the fortress and venerable temple of religion, may be taken also as its test. It supplies a thermometer whereby we can ascertain the religious temperature - the degree of piety in a family, a nation, or a church.
And when this standard is applied, it is assuring and very gratifying to find that our devout countrymen, to whatever denomination of Christians they belong, have all, with minor differences of expression, honoured and hallowed the Lord's day. Take for example Dr. Blomfield, Bishop of London. This good man, and distinguished prelate, was not a Scotchman; could not by possibility have been a Presbyterian; and rather High Church than otherwise, had no leaning to Puritanism. Yet neither in Scotch, Presbyterian, or Puritan household was the Lord's day more strictly and devoutly observed than in his palace at Fulham; nor can I bring this article to a better close than by transferring to these pages in proof of that some passages from a beautiful sketch of her father which one of his daughters has drawn. The bishop was no severe, sour, morose man - a feature of his character they may note who in their minds regard, and in their manners present, piety as a thing rather of gloom than gladness. "I remember him,"says his daughter," in the enjoyment of some autumnal excursion, full of fun and cheerfulness, and enjoying the scenery more than any of us. Then I see him the centre of a large Christmas party of friends and relatives, kind and affectionate to all - joining in the Christmas carol, or laughing heartily at the various diversions of the younger members of the party."
And, now, as to her picture of. the Lord's day in Fulham Palace, how will that1 call up in many of my readers tender recollections of their own early days, of hallowed Sabbaths, and loved ones - a venerable father and a pious mother, long mouldered in the dust - who taught them by their prayers, their precepts, and example to "remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy?" "The bishop used," says his daughter, "to take great pains in instructing his children in a knowledge of the Scriptures, and of the doctrines and articles of our Church. When we were youngsters we used to repeat the Catechism, and texts, and passages of Scripture to him on Sunday afternoon or evening. My recollection of Fulham as it was in those days is that of a thoroughly well-ordered household - quiet, peaceful Sundays, when week-day books and work, and, as far as my father's example had influence, worldly thoughts and talk were laid aside - Sundays so spent, so distinguished from other days, that the first thoughts that came naturally to one's mind on awaking was, This is the Lord's day! "We set no higher standard than this bishop's; nor can patriotism form a better wish for the house-holds of our country than that they all may be moulded on his, and that the Lord's day, as it was honoured in Fulham Palace, may be honoured both in the palaces of royalty and the humblest cottages of the poor.
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