A Multitude of Sabbath Breakers
When over 400 000 people recently took part in what was called a “Liberty and Livelihood March” through London streets, it was no doubt an impressive spectacle. The Government, one would assume, would regard the march as important enough for it to consider taking whatever action was appropriate in order to redress the marchers’ grievances.
But this march was held on the Lord’s Day. Instead, therefore, of being commended for their public-spiritedness in defending the rights of citizens living in rural areas, those participating are rather to be condemned for disregarding the right of the supreme Lawgiver to require them first of all to obey the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy”. This was Sabbath desecration on a massive scale, but no newspaper seems to have commented on the fact that the demonstration was held on the day that God claims as His own. He requires us to sanctify the Sabbath by “a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy” (Shorter Catechism, 60).
The march apparently was held without disturbance and was pronounced an outstanding success by those concerned. But are we to assume that God was an idle spectator? Those demonstrating on the streets might have thought so in their forgetfulness of God. Solomon noted long ago: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil”. The same Daily Telegraph issue which contained an article lauding the Sabbath marchers also carried a report of the earthquake which hit Britain on the following Monday. It measured 4.8 on the Richter scale. The report tells us that the “tremor also spread alarm across large parts of England and Wales and was felt up to 150 miles away as it rattled windows and doors in North London, Merseyside and Yorkshire”. Its epicentre was in the very heart of the English countryside!
One of the sure signs that these are “perilous times” for our nation is the evident lack of principle which characterises much of the government of the day and, even more particularly, the lack of concern which this causes the people of our land generally. Examples abound.
By giving royal countenance to Roman Catholicism and the various other false religions which have established a base within the nation, our Monarch tramples underfoot the solemn engagements to God and to the Protestant Faith of the Bible upon which the loyalty of the nation was committed, and upon which the blessing of God was sought, for herself and her house. Whatever setbacks they encounter from time to time the United Kingdom Government continues to practice large-scale deceit in their dealings with Northern Ireland, seeking to put the appearance of democracy on their progressive capitulation to the terrorists and their religious and political allies. Also, it seems to be the widely-received wisdom that immoral conduct does not disqualify a person from high office in the land. What confidence can be placed in the political integrity of men or women who break their marriage vows and betray the trust of their spouses? What blessing can be sought on an administration that contains and countenances those who practise the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, which exposed those cities to God’s wrath? How can those not scrupulously honest in their own affairs be entrusted with the business of the nation?
Our forefathers, as they expressed their convictions, for example, in the National Covenant, recognised that a Protestant throne faithful to its religious commitments went together with the defence of Christ’s gospel, the maintenance of the civil and religious liberties of our country, the authority of Parliament, the administration of justice and the punishment of iniquity, and the preservation of the nation from enemies, within the realm and without, and from tyranny or anarchy. Today there is an endeavour to maintain the machinery of society without commitment to the integrity of its institutions or of those who control them. This will not succeed. “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
Shall this nation rise again? How much we need to seek a recovery of the spirit of the Covenanters, who concluded their statement of commitment to seek the implementation of the principles just mentioned by “most humbly beseeching the Lord to strengthen us by His Holy Spirit for this end, and to bless our desires and proceedings with a happy success; that religion and righteousness may flourish in the land, to the glory of God, the honour of our King, and peace and comfort to us all”.
The Scottish Executive, which has not shown itself a friend to either Biblical religion or Biblical morality, is reported to be considering legislation to make sectarianism and religious hatred an aggravation of existing criminal offences and to impose more severe penalties for crimes motivated by sectarianism. The latest move in this direction was stimulated by violence at a football match between Celtic and Rangers on the first Sabbath in October. Distinguished lawyers affirm that, from a legal point of view, there is no need for such legislation as courts are already able to deal adequately with criminal behaviour of this kind. But those behind the move claim that they want the Scottish Parliament to give a clear signal that religious hatred has no place in a modern Scotland and will not be tolerated. Legal authorities have warned of the extreme complexity of any effort to define “sectarianism”, “religious hatred” or even “religion” for the purposes of such legislation.
We welcome every endeavour to bring criminals to justice, but we repudiate the idea that thugs who spend their Sabbath days at football matches and engage in physical battle with the supporters of an opposing team can be regarded in any way as Protestants guilty of religious discrimination or hatred against persons of another religious persuasion. Those genuinely adhering to the tenets of Protestantism, which is just shorthand for Biblical Christianity, should not countenance a professional football match on any day of the week and certainly not on the Lord’s Day, which “is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days”.
Let the full force of the law be brought to bear upon those guilty of criminal offences. Indeed, let legislators, and those who administer justice, again criminalise conduct which is truly condemned by Scripture and by the light of nature and impose sentences upon all lawbreakers which reflect the gravity of the offences of which they are convicted. But let legislators keep clear of attempts to define religious discrimination or sectarianism in such a way as will move further towards outlawing rational and peaceful exposure of the evils of false religions and towards preventing endeavours to rescue people from their delusions. There is no hatred to individuals in the hearts of those opposed to false religions on biblical grounds, but there is a growing danger that those will be subjected to legal penalties whose opposition to such religions is characterised by love to God and to truth and to the souls of those ensnared, and is expressed in a way consistent with such motivation.