American Sentinel, vol. 5- Contents
January 16, 1890
“Front Page” American Sentinel 5, 3.
It is time for the National Reformers to cry out for the restoration of papal rule in Italy. They regard Romanism as better than “political atheism,” and it seems that with the mass of Italians there is no halfway ground. A writer in a religious journal says that “in swinging away from the Romish Church, comparatively few stop at Protestantism. The majority know little respecting it, and apparently care as little about it.” This is not a matter of surprise since they have been religious by law so long that they naturally regard all religion as simply a synonym of tyranny, and as soon as they have the opportunity they very naturally break away from the restraint which has been so galling to them.AMS January 16, 1890, page 17.1
An exchange notes the fact that “a certain amount of religious liberty has been granted in Finland, which, though it does not go very far, is, at all events, a welcome installment. It only at present gives professed Christians of any sect the right to educate their own children, though not those belonging to members of the State Church. Marriages contracted by members of acknowledged sects will in future be legal. Different views of Christianity will no longer make any difference in the privileges and duties of the citizen, and these prerogatives are extended so far as to give Christians of any sect the right of entering Government service.AMS January 16, 1890, page 17.2
“Religious demonstrations and processions are, however, prohibited, and as the Salvation Army has gained a footing in the country, no doubt they will soon come into collision with the authorities on that point. The Government has undertaken to examine into the doctrines and beliefs of every dissenting sect, and also to keep a close account of them; it has cut a nice task out for itself and it remains to be seen how the plan will work. It appears that any members of the community not professing some form of Christianity are still to be debarred the rights of citizenship, nor are they allowed to form organized communities or educate their children.”AMS January 16, 1890, page 17.3
“The Minneapolis Preachers” American Sentinel 5, 3.
The proceedings of those Minneapolis preachers, an account of which we published in the SENTINEL of January 2, is of more than passing interest to the people. It reveals some of the spirit that inheres in this Sunday-law movement all over the nation. That ironclad agreement and the boycotting action of the preachers under it, show how far they have departed from the methods and the spirit of Jesus Christ, whose ministers they profess to be. This, however, is not the beginning of that movement in Minneapolis. It has a history, and the history runs back nearly two years. In the spring of 1888, Dr. Josiah Strong, of this city, secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of the United States, visited Minneapolis and met with a committee of pastors of that place who had been appointed to confer with him upon the matter of organizing a branch of the Evangelical Alliance of that city. Several conferences were held, and plans were formed; but owing to the nearness of the summer vacation, no definite action was taken at that time. Rev. D. D. McLaurin, the Church of Immanuel, Minneapolis, was given charge of the plans formed, and of organizing the active work according to the plans. The first definite step toward organized action was taken Monday, October 15, 1888, at a meeting of the Minneapolis ministers in the Y.M.C.A. parlors. There the objects and the plans of the organization were quite fully set forth. One of the objects of the organization, and the one which is of special interest in this connection, is to take “a prominent part in State and municipal politics and government, watching closely all State and city legislation. In its name, and upon its recommendation, bills will be introduced into the Legislature and such legislation as will increase the penalties for the violation of the Sunday laws of Minneapolis will be especially favored and pushed.”AMS January 16, 1890, page 19.1
The plan of organization, is a central alliance governed by an executive committee, and under the direction of this, ward alliances are formed as auxiliaries. Through the ward alliances a company of visitors is organized to make a thorough house-to-house canvass. To each of these visitors is allotted a division comprising ten families. These are to be visited once a month regularly to ascertain their condition and needs with the special design of getting them to attend church. All the churches, Catholic and Protestant, of the city are united in the alliance.AMS January 16, 1890, page 20.1
Upon all this matter of the organization and the work of this alliance we should not have a word to say except in commendation if it were in fact evangelical or if there were any evangelical intent in it. But as its object is political and not evangelical, we can never have anything to say of it except to denounce it as contrary to every principle of the gospel. Evangelical is defined as being “agreeable or consonant to the gospel or the truth taught in the New Testament.” The gospel is not political, it never can be furthered, but only hindered and corrupted by political methods such as are embodied in the plan of this Minneapolis political preachers’ alliance. It is proper that people should attend church, it is perfectly proper that proper methods should be employed to in-duce them to attend church; but when political methods are employed to get the people to go to church for the purpose of increasing the political influence of the churches, then such churches are just about the worst places that the people could be induced to go.AMS January 16, 1890, page 20.2
About the time of the organization mentioned above, Dr. McLaurin said that “The ministers of the city believe that Christian unity is strong enough now to make itself felt in ways that churches separately have little influence.” But, when Christian unity is strong enough to make itself felt politically, as the purpose of this alliance is, then the more of such strength Christians unity feels, the less strength it actually has. The only strength the Christians, individually, of the Christian Church collectively, can ever have to profit is the strength of Jesus Christ. And that strength is never made manifest in a political way. The only power that Christians ever can possess for good, is the power of godliness which can never be exerted by political means.AMS January 16, 1890, page 20.3
The steps taken by the Minneapolis ministers as printed in the SENTINEL of the 2nd are the fitting sequel of the plan and object of the organization of the Evangelical Alliance of that city in October in 1888. Complusory methods belong to the organization, compulsory religious observance is the object of Sunday laws, and that they should resort to boycotting pressure to compel both their fellow ministers and the people to conform to their wishes is only to be expected. And when such methods are so readily resorted to at the first, what will they not do at the last? The Evangelical Alliance and its secretary both had better stick to their evangelical work or else stop calling it evangelical, and give it its proper name of political at once.AMS January 16, 1890, page 20.4
“An Excellent Thought” American Sentinel 5, 3.
The Christian Advocate, of this city, has the following item which contains an excellent thought which those who want Congress and our several State Legislatures to remove by legislation all the difficulties in the way of Church work would do well to consider. The Advocate says:-AMS January 16, 1890, page 21.1
An attempt is sometimes made to explain the slow progress of religion in our large cities on the ground that the conditions of society are peculiarly unfavorable to evangelical Christianity. We are told that many of the inhabitants are German infidels and atheists, Italian and Irish Catholics, Jews and pagans, and that these are not easily reached by the gospel, and therefore progressive movements are not to be expected. Certainly these elements are antagonistic to Protestant Christianity, and present serious obstacles in the way of its progress; but did the gospel ever yet find a field which was free from antagonistic elements? Has the gospel any other name than to meet and overcome hostile forces and reduce a world of enemies to subjection? Human nature is one the world over, and the gospel is perfectly adapted to the work of saving men without respect to class or nationality. Wisdom to wield the sort of the Spirit is all that is wanting, and this wisdom cometh down from above.AMS January 16, 1890, page 21.2
If in harmony with this suggestion, the churches would pay more attention to wielding the “sword of the Spirit” and a little less to invoking the aid of the State, much good might reasonably be expected to result, not only to sinners but to the Church itself.AMS January 16, 1890, page 21.3
“Notes” American Sentinel 5, 3.
A writer in a religious contemporary says that Italy is a hard soil for the growth of Protestantism. On the other hand are the Romanists, upon whom no impression can be made, and upon the other the Infidels, upon whom still less impression is possible. Unbelief among the Italian men, he says, is general in Rome, and their absence from Church is conspicuous.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.1
This state of affairs is not to be wondered at since it is the legitimate result of the Church and State regime which has so long cursed Italy. Men may be compelled to observe the outward forms of religion, but that does not make them truly pious, and when the compulsion is remove they will surely go farther in the other direction than though they had not been coerced. Coercion in religion breeds hatred, and hatred is a very opposite of Christianity.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.2
That idleness is a prolific cause of vice and crime is made clear by facts constantly coming under the observation of those who read the papers and study the condition of society.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.4
This is true, and being true is it not a little strange that so many of those who know that it is true or in favor of laws compelling people to be idle one day each week. There can be no doubt that Sabbath keeping is a good thing; but habitual idleness one day each week is not Sabbath-keeping; only those keep the Sabbath, in any proper sense of the Word, who observe the day on the Lord. The Advocate is right, “idleness is a prolific cause of vice,” and therefore all laws that foster idleness foster vice.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.5
“Back Page” American Sentinel 5, 3.
The field secretary of the American Sabbath Union announces that he will make another lecture trip across the continent and back, starting across in April and reaching the Atlantic again in August. Definite dates and places of giving the lectures, are not yet announced.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.7
The local Sunday bill for the District of Columbia was presented in the House of Representatives by Representative Breckinridge, of Kentucky. The Speaker referred it to the Committee on Education and Labor, but by request it was afterward referred to the Committee on the District of Columbia. We hope to have a copy of the bill for comment in our next issue.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.8
We have received a circular from the secretary of the American Sabbath Union, announcing that the Union is to hold a convention at Washington, D. C., January 30 and 31. “Everybody” is invited, but “especially the friends of the American Civil Sabbath in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.” “The leading purpose of the convention” as announced “is to urge upon Congress the request of the commissioners of the District of Columbia” for a Sunday law. The circular announces that “distinguished Senators, Congressmen, pastors and others are expected to speak””besides Mr. Crafts.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.9
Colonel Shepard of the so-called Sabbath Union, is making himself ridiculous and bringing religion, which he is supposed to represent, into contempt by such utterances as the following which is attributed to him in a speech before the re-cent Dominion Evangelical Alliance:-AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.10
The West Shore and Hudson River Railways, which were started for the purpose of running Sunday excursions, were driven into bankruptcy by the Lord. A new management cut off the Sunday traffic as far as possible, and now their finances are in good condition. At one time no Sunday elevated trains were run on the Sabbath, when it was arranged that a train should be asked for by a Christian minister, who, by the way, very soon was called from earth.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.11
It may do to talk this sort of stuff to people who do not know the facts in the case, but it will not impress others much. The truth is that the West Shore Railroad was driven into bankruptcy by a most ruinous competition. Then it passed under the management of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad. The rates were increased and the number of trains reduced, and the Vanderbilts make money out of it. And Sunday trains both freight and passenger are run, and have been all the time, both on the West Shore and the New York Central.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.12
It is stated that the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has issued a pastoral address on non-church-going and its causes, which it asks to be read over the pulpits in all the churches on a convenient Sabbath. It points out that in Glasgow, the most populous city of Scotland, there are not fewer than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who are alienated from public worship. It is further remarked that there is a similar and alarming pro-portion of people in other towns, and even in rural parishes, who habitually absent themselves from church.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.13
It may be interesting to remember in this connection that Scotland is probably the most strict Sunday observing country in the world; but it seems that something more than simply refraining from work on Sunday is required to make people pious, or even to insure their attendance at church. Evidently that which Scotland needs (?) is a law requiring every body to attend church who is not excused for some good and sufficient reason. The National Reformers should see what can be done for the country of the Covenanters.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.14
We should like for some of the people who favor the suppression of base-ball on Sunday, to point out what there is about a base-ball game that is uncivil on Sunday any more than on any other day. No one pretends that the playing of a game of base-ball is uncivil in any sense. It cannot be shown that it is in any way uncivil on Sunday, and it is not because of any incivility in it that they propose to suppress it on Sunday. Nor is this all; the playing of base-ball is not even irreligious. It is true that men who are not religious play base-ball. It is equally true that men who are religious, and strictly so, can play base-ball and still be religious. Then it is not because the playing of base-ball is either uncivil or irreligious that they propose to suppress it on Sunday; it is solely because Sunday is held by certain people to be a religious day, and that it is to be devoted to religious exercises; and as the playing of base-ball is not a religious exercise, therefore it is not consistent with the religious observance of a day. Consequently the only purpose of the enactment and enforcement of Sunday laws is to enforce the observance of it as a religious day. It is to compel people who are not religious to pay religious tribute to those who pretend to be religious. But if the Government is to do this in one thing when it is demanded, why not in every else as it may be demanded, and having a thorough-going union of Church and State at once. That will be the outcome of a national Sunday law.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.15
There was lately organized, in the City of New York, a league professedly to maintain American institutions. We have not yet seen a copy of its constitution or any official statement of its objects, but from what we can gather from the newspaper report, it seems to be more than anything else an organization to maintain American Protestant institutions as against Catholic institutions. Like most of the attempts in this line, that have lately been made, this looks too much like an attempt to put Protestantism in the place of legal recognition rather than Catholicism, and no American institution can ever be defended by any such means as that. Protestantism as an established religion, is only the Papacy in principle and under another name. We shall give our readers more particulars in this matter hereafter.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.16
“One of the most prominent characteristics of the American Sabbath Union, says its organ, the Pearl of Days, is its broad basis of practical Christian union for one national, civil, and religious object. Its only ‘shibbotleth’ is the preservation of ‘the Christian Sabbath as a day of rest and worship.’ It has no ‘sibboleths’ no other motto upon its banner. For this supreme end Protestants and Romans Catholics can and do co-operate, even if they are not incorporated in the institution itself. Religion and patriotism combine together to keep and to hand down succeeding generations the blessing of ‘the Lord’s Day.’AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.17
Certainly the object of the so-called union is “civil and religious;” it is civil in that it demands that the civil power enforce a religious institution; and it is religious in that the great underlying motive of the leaders in the “union” is the exaltation of Sunday because of the sacredness which in their minds attaches to that particular day. The term “civil” which they use is simply sugar used to catch flies that might not relish the odor of Church and State vinegar.AMS January 16, 1890, page 22.18