Did it ever strike you that it is a most absurd and semi-barbaric thing to set one day apart as "holy?"
If you are a writer and a beautiful thought comes to you, you never hesitate because it is Sunday, but you write it down.
If you are a painter, and the picture appears before you, vivid and clear, you make haste to materialize it ere the vision fades.
If you are a musician, you sing a song, or play it on the piano, that it may be etched upon your memory--and for the joy of it.
But if you are a cabinet-maker, you may make a design, but you will have to halt before you make the table, if the day happens to be the "Lord's Day"; and if you are a blacksmith, you will not dare to lift a hammer, for fear of conscience or the police. All of which is an admission that we regard manual labor as a sort of necessary evil, and must be done only at certain times and places.
The orthodox reason for abstinence from all manual labor on Sunday is that "God made the heavens and the earth in six days and on the seventh He rested," therefore, man, created in the image of his Maker, should hold this day sacred. How it can be possible for a supreme, omnipotent and all-powerful being without "body, parts or passions" to become wearied thru physical exertion is a question that is as yet unanswered.
The idea of serving God on Sunday and then forgetting Him all the week is a fallacy that is fostered by the Reverend Doctor Sayles and his coadjutor, Deacon Buffum, who passes the Panama for the benefit of those who would buy absolution. Or, if you prefer, salvation being free, what we place in the Panama is an honorarium for Deity or his agent, just as our noted authors never speak at banquets for pay, but accept the honorarium that in some occult and mysterious manner is left on the mantel. Sunday, with its immunity from work, was devised for slaves who got out of all the work they could during the week.
Then, to tickle the approbativeness of the slave, it was declared a virtue not to work on Sunday, a most pleasing bit of Tom Sawyer diplomacy. By following his inclinations and doing nothing, a mysterious, skyey benefit accrues, which the lazy man hopes to have and to hold for eternity.
Then the slaves who do no work on Sunday, point out those who do as beneath them in virtue, and deserving of contempt. Upon this theory all laws which punish the person who works or plays on Sunday have been passed. Does God cease work one day in seven, or is the work that He does on Sunday especially different from that which He performs on Tuesday? The Saturday half-holiday is not "sacred"--the Sunday holiday is, and we have laws to punish those who "violate" it. No man can violate the Sabbath; he can, however, violate his own nature, and this he is more apt to do through enforced idleness than either work or play. Only running water is pure, and stagnant nature of any sort is dangerous--a breeding-place for disease.
Change of occupation is necessary to mental and physical health. As it is, most people get too much of one kind of work. All the week they are chained to a task, a repugnant task because the dose is too big. They have to do this particular job or starve. This is slavery, quite as much as when man was bought and sold as a chattel.
Will there not come a time when all men and women will work because it is a blessed gift--a privilege? Then, if all worked, wasteful consuming as a business would cease. As it is, there are many people who do not work at all, and these pride themselves upon it and uphold the Sunday laws. If the idlers would work, nobody would be overworked. If this time ever comes shall we not cease to regard it as "wicked" to work at certain times, just as much as we would count it absurd to pass a law making it illegal for us to be happy on Wednesday? Isn't good work an effort to produce a useful, necessary or beautiful thing? If so, good work is a prayer, prompted by a loving heart--a prayer to benefit and bless. If prayer is not a desire, backed up by a right human effort to bring about its efficacy, then what is it?
Work is a service performed for ourselves and others. If I love you I will surely work for you--in this way I reveal my love. And to manifest my love in this manner is a joy and gratification to me. Thus work is for the worker alone and labor is its own reward. These things being true, if it is wrong to work on Sunday, it is wrong to love on Sunday; every smile is a sin, every caress a curse, and all tenderness a crime.
Must there not come a time, if we grow in mentality and spirit, when we shall cease to differentiate and quit calling some work secular and some sacred? Isn't it as necessary for me to hoe corn and feed my loved ones (and also the priest) as for the priest to preach and pray? Would any priest ever preach and pray if somebody didn't hoe? If life is from God, then all useful effort is divine; and to work is the highest form of religion. If God made us, surely He is pleased to see that His work is a success. If we are miserable, willing to liberate life with a bare bodkin, we certainly do not compliment our Maker in thus proclaiming His work a failure. But if our lives are full of gladness and we are grateful for the feeling that we are one with Deity--helping God to do His work, then, and only then do we truly serve Him.
Isn't it strange that men should have made laws declaring that it is wicked for us to work?
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