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SABBATH LAWS AND SABBATH DUTIES
CONSIDERED IN RELATION
THEIR NATURAL AND SCRIPTURAL GROUNDS,
THE PRINCIPLES OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY.
BY ROBERT COX.
"I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."-St Paul to the Corinthians.
MACLACHLAN AND STEWART;
AND SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO., LONDON.
THE circumstances which have led to the publication of this volume, will appear from the "Plea for Sunday Trains" which holds in it the most conspicuous place, but which serves chiefly to introduce a series of dissertations upon subjects of far wider and more permanent interest than its own.
The leading topic here discussed is the Sabbath question; but around it, and for its elucidation, many kindred themes of much interest and importance have gathered. What I have aimed at producing, is a treatise in which the lights of modern science and modern biblical learning should be brought to bear upon the matters in dispute. If by means of those lights it is possible to expose and counteract the unobtrusive errors of some, the disingenuous misrepresentations of others, and the well-meaning sophistry, ignorance, and presumption of a third class of zealous Sabbatarians, the cause of truth may be a gainer by the discussion.
I have endeavoured, moreover, to recal the attention of divines and serious laymen to the much neglected but increasingly fruitful field of Natural Religion. From its diligent culture there is reason to hope for a rich harvest of good to mankind. In particular, we may learn in it more and more how to spend beneficially the leisure of the Sabbath.
Lastly, and above all,-I have embraced so fit an opportunity to enforce those lauded, but imperfectly
practised principles of religious liberty, which are involved in this and several other questions of the day. In executing this part of the design, I have laid largely under contribution the writings of those great men by whom, in former times, the foundations of our freedom were consolidated; and it is hoped that the sound sense, noble sentiments, and vigorous diction, which the selected passages display, will tend to foster the reviving interest in so solid and admirable a department of English literature.
In the Plea for Sunday Trains, I have forborne, as carefully as when it was originally spoken, to introduce any inquiry into the theological basis of the Sabbath. The sole ground on which my stand continues to be taken there, is the civil right of the public to the use of the Railway on Sunday-a ground thought sufficient, independently of theological questions, to support firmly the conclusion that is built upon it. In the subsequent portions of the volume, however, the Sabbatarians are encountered on their chosen field of Scripture; and I humbly suggest that should the agitation be resumed in the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company, it may conduce alike to the advancement of religious truth, and to the saving of much valuable time to men of business, if the theological part of the controversy be henceforth conducted exclusively through the medium of the pulpit, the platform, and, best of all, the press. For what good purpose can be served by reiterating, to intelligent men, assertions and arguments which to many of them are superfluous, and to others are merely what they have long since considered and rejected?
Of the few theological discussions which occur in Note C, some may at first sight appear to be altogether out of place in a treatise on the Sabbath. But if
a chief purpose of our weekly holiday be the refreshment and enjoyment of man-as that of the Jewish Sabbath assuredly was-it cannot be impertinent to inquire into the tendency of any doctrine that is frequently delivered from our pulpits, to promote or to hinder so important an end. And this I with the less hesitation maintain, because we are constantly told by teachers of the views criticised, that it is a Christian duty to attend regularly the churches where they are the instructors, instead of following our own judgment (if at variance with theirs) as to the most beneficial way of spending the day of rest. Nay, the present clerical crusade against the opening of the Crystal Palace on Sunday, and the sailing of a steamboat on the Clyde for the recreation of citizens of Glasgow upon that their only day of leisure, is an invitation to every man capable of thinking, to discuss, in connection with what is more strictly "the Sabbath question," the quality of the spiritual food administered by the agitators. The opinion is now rapidly spreading amongst us, that much of what is delivered as religious truth in Calvinistic churches not only has no title to the character it assumes, but counteracts the beneficial influence of the Sabbath; and holding that opinion myself, I cannot but consider it a duty to oppose (as I have done with the help of theologians whose talents, erudition, and piety, well entitle them to be heard) certain views of the character and government of the Deity, which, if at variance, as I believe them to be, with natural religion and the doctrine of Jesus, ought to be freely and openly examined. Another object which has occasionally been in view, is to lead some to consider whether it is worth while to occupy so much time, and to excite so much bitter feeling, as we do, in discussing abstruse points of scholastic divinity