Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sir Walter Scott on the Sabbath

Today brought a rainstorm, the rainstorm brought a leak in the roof, and the leak in the roof brought about moving a bunch of books to prevent water damage. Out of that comes the Episcopal Recorder, a newspaper from the 1840s. Soon to be for sale, I have been flipping through it and realized that it has pieces written by men I admire and respect. These include John Newton, William Jay, Thomas Chalmers, among others. What caught my eye, however, was this small bit by Sir Walter Scott on the Sabbath. I doubt that most people who read Scott would know that this was his opinion on the matter.

Sir Walter Scott on the Sabbath
from The Episcopal Recorder, Philadelphia, Saturday morning, May 15, 1847. Vol. XXV.-- No.9. Rev. G W Ridgely, Editor. Stavely & McCalla., No. 12 Pear Street, Publishers.

It may not be without its use, the submitting to our readers the following opinion on the Sabbath question, of one whom none could certainly accuse of bigotry, viz: Sit Walter Scott. It is taken from the Quarterly Review of 1828: "If we believe in the Divine origin of the commandment, the Sabbath is instituted for the express purposes of religion. The time set apart is the Sabbath of our Lord--a day on which we are not to work our own works or think our own thoughts. The precept is positive, and the purpose clear. To our eternal benefit a certain space of every week is appointed, which, sacred from all other avocations save those imposed by necessity and mercy, is to be employed in religious duties. The Roman Church, which lays so much force on the observances merely ritual, may consistently suppose that the time claimed is more than sufficient for the occasion, and dismiss the peasants, when mass is over, to any game or gambol which fancy may dictate, leaving it with the priests to do on behalf of the congregation what further is necessary for the working out of their salvation. But this is not Protestant doctrine, though it may be imitated by Protestant Churches. The religious part of a Sunday's exercise is not to be considered as a bitter medicine, the taste of which is as soon as possible to be removed by a bit of sugar. On the contrary, our demeanor though the rest of the day ought to be not sullen, certainly, but serious, tending to instruction. Give to the world one-half of the Sunday, and you will find that religion has no strong hold of the other. Pass the morning at church, and the evening according to your taste or rank, in the cricket field, or at the opera, and you will soon find thought of the evening hazards and bets intrude themselves on the sermon, and that recollections of the popular melodies interfere with the psalms. Religion is thus treated like Lear, to whom his ungrateful daughters first denied one-half of his stipulated attendance, and then made it a question whether they should grant him any share of what remained. --- Glasgow Courier.

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