From  the  book


THE  ENGLISH  SUNDAY (1901)


LECTURE VI 



WORK AND RECREATION



YOU will perhaps remember that I said that the Sunday of the working classes must be considered separately. What we have to do is (1) to form a clear conception of what the Sunday should be for ourselves, and then (2) how far this standard is desirable, or even possible in their case. 


And I am now considering those portions of our working classes who are in some real measure Christian with whatever inconsistencies, and not those who are merely Christian in name, if indeed they are so much as that. Nor am I taking into account those true, simple devout people in that class whom we might well take as our example.


The difference between us and the working classes which has to be considered in regard to the Sunday, does not relate to the standard of piety which they are to aim at, or their place in God's kingdom. There their place is specially assured by the words of the Lord Himself and the whole character of His ministry. The disadvantage according to Him is not on the side of poverty, but on the side of wealth. 


However in the particular matter which we are considering there are important differences. 


First there is the impossibility of the working classes getting relaxation on any other day, while we can get it on other days. And they need relaxation and recreation as well as mere physical rest. Try to put yourself in the position of a man who has no daylight hours which he can call his own on any day except Sunday, and you will see that Sunday must be a very different thing to him from what it is to you.


Secondly, the quiet, seclusion, home interests, enjoyment of nature which are so freely at our command, and are possible even in the country labourer's cottage home, are impossible or nearly so to the dwellers in the crowded alleys and courts of London and other great cities. I do not see how we can press on them as a general rule that the day is to be made exclusively a religious day, on which ordinary recreations should be laid aside, although I believe this is the right aim for ourselves. 


If the observance rested on a positive universal command, no differences of condition could be taken into account, but it does not so rest. 


[OH  HOW  CORRECT—— THERE  IS  NO  COMMAND  FROM  THE  LORD  REGARDING  SUNDAY  OBSERVANCE  IN  A  THEOLOGICAL  VIEW;  INDEED  HOW  MANY  TIMES  HAS  THE  AUTHOR  RELATED  THAT,  A  NUMBER  OF  TIMES.  SO  IT  ALL  BOILS  DOWN  TO  THE  THIS  OR  THAT  OF  HUMAN  SPECULATIONS  AS  TO  HOW  SUNDAY  SHOULD  BE  OBSERVED  -  Keith Hunt]


For them I cannot think that it is right to exclude from Sunday moderate forms of recreation, such as the use of picture galleries, museums and libraries, cycling excursions, social meetings of various kinds and the like. I hardly think that it is the part of the clergy to promote and arrange such recreations—they have other work on Sundays which demands their whole attention, and their taking part in such things is not only bad for themselves, but also creates misapprehension as to their personal estimate of the Sunday. But they should show no impatience at others taking the lead in things which are not expedient for them to do.


I can quite well imagine a London working man's Sunday which should include a good deal that we think unadvisable for ourselves, and yet should be a real refreshment to him and his family, not only in body and mind but also in spirit—a Sunday which should be welcomed by him as it returns with true thankfulness, and felt by him as a lift out of the groove of work into a freer life, a life nearer to God. The fact that this is seldom realized, and that in reality Sunday recreations engross and draw away from public worship many of our steady working people, does not weaken the argument. What we are concerned with is to establish a true ideal and then to work up to it. 


But let me point out what appears to me to be a serious danger in the future.


Here is this free day of millions of working people. If you legitimize first by general opinion, and subsequently by law, the provision of amusements of all kinds, then an immense field of pecuniary profit will be open to enterprise. Attractions of every kind will be provided by companies and individuals whose only object is to make money, and the whole face of the English Sunday may be changed in a few months. That is why it seems to me we ought to move with great caution. Our attitude should be, sympathy with those who have no holidays and next to no home; and a sense that they need a different Sunday from ours in many respects. But it cannot be both a day of rest and a day of amusement when you come to deal with the mass of the people, and you have only to cross the Channel to satisfy yourself of this. If they do not see this, we can; and we are bound to act on our knowledge of what is for their temporal good, as well as on higher grounds.


[HE  WAS  SAYING  THAT  EVEN  IN  1901  THERE  WAS  QUITE  A  DIFFERENCE  IN  OBSERVING  SUNDAY  IN   BRITAIN  THAN  HOW  THEY  DID  OR  DID  NOT,  OBSERVE  IT  IN  EUROPE  -  Keith Hunt]


Hitherto I have been thinking principally of the majority of our working classes which is obscurely but yet truly Christian in character and instincts. But there is a large class among them as there is also in the higher ranks of society, which is practically unchristian. It seems to me that their Sunday is quite another matter. How they keep their Sunday comes out of how they order their life. The former is a manifestation of the latter, and a very plain and painful manifestation.


Take the street of a Northumberland pit village on a Sunday, or the smoking-room of a fashionable London club on the same day—I do not think there is much to choose between them. As the Hebrew Sabbath was a sign between God and His people, a sign of their relation to Him, so in quite a converse way these men's Sunday is a sign. What we are concerned with as regards this part of the community, is not so much the way they spend their Sunday, for being spiritually such as they are, they can hardly be expected to spend it otherwise. 


Our concern is, not to provide harmless amusements for the pitman's Sunday, but our concern is with the man himself.


I think that in many of our social and religious undertakings, we are too much inclined to occupy ourselves with symptoms rather than with causes. We forget the Lord's words, "Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt." It was not by approaching men on the secular side that George Whitefield converted thousands.


Besides the question of Sunday recreation, there is another which specially affects the working classes taken widely, and that is the question of Sunday labour.


Some Sunday labour must be granted as necessary. There is the "care of cattle, which our Lord's own words may fairly be held to cover. There is railway labour, which some of the companies honestly do their best to reduce to a minimum, while others do not. There are works of emergency such, for instance, as the rebuilding of a railway bridge, which can only be done on Sunday, or the lading of a vessel which for sufficient reasons must sail at the earliest possible moment. We are not to look askance at the men employed in these things, as at  men doing something wrong, martyrs for the good of the community. 


[SOME  OF  THE  ABOVE  COULD  BE  PUT  TO  ONE  SIDE  IF  SOCIETY  AS  A  WHOLE  WAS  SERVING  GOD  BY  OBSERVING  HIS  TRUE  SABBATH (WHICH  THE  AUTHOR  HERE  USES  FOR  SUNDAY)  -  Keith Hunt)


On the grounds on which we have put Sunday, a Christian workman can   frankly  accept  his  duty in such cases. 


[AS  I’VE  STATED  IF  SOCIETY  WAS  OBSERVING  THE  TRUE  AND  ONLY  WEEKLY  SABBATH,  VERY  VERY  FEW  WOULD  NEED  TO  BE  WORKING;  HOSPITALS  AND  EMERGENCY  VEHICLES  WOULD  NEED  TO  CONTINUE—— I’VE  COVERED  A  LOT  OF  THIS  IN  MY  STUDIES  ON  THE  SABBATH  QUESTION  -  Keith Hunt]


There is other work, the necessity of which may be questioned. There is the case of saving a crop from the weather on a Sunday.  I do not say it is sinful in itself; to do this. But the character of the day as a day of rest, is in danger the moment you cross the strict line; and it will be difficult to distinguish cases of necessity from cases of worldly prudence and excessive anxiety. In most cases, may I not say in every case, the sacrifice involved in abstaining from; labour is worth making, and ought to be made, for the sake of the community, and for the sake of the secure maintenance of the day.    

  

Again, there is the labour entailed by opening places of recreation. As I have pointed out, that might become an extremely serious matter, if much more was provided in the way of recreation, and especially if there was much more travelling. But while so little labour is asked for, as is the case at present, it may surely be regarded under the class of necessary labour.


Now let me come back to our own case, and our own duty.   


I want to add a few words on the prevalent love of amusement, and the extent to which that love of amusement is for many people obscuring and hindering a true conception of life—in other words, I want to speak of the relation between amusement and religion. 


There must be some truth at the bottom of all that suspicion of, and aversion to, amusement which has been found in all the more earnest phases of religious life at different times, and in different countries. That aversion has often been morose and even hypocritical, it: has sometimes produced the worst results; but there is reason at the bottom of it, as there always is in strong and abiding movements of the human mind.


The reason lies in the encroaching character of the love of amusement, and this in relation to the claim of religion to be master of the soul. It is not that there is an incompatibility between amusement and religion. A bright, joyful life is the mark of the highest and best Christianity. The Christian has, or ought to have, a high power of enjoyment, and this enjoyment will include all natural and reasonable recreation. But there is a disposition to live for amusement, to make it quite seriously the business of life, the thing that must not be interfered with.


And this tendency carries away with it many who are in themselves better disposed, when it is taken as obvious by some of their acquaintance, that of course all young people must have this or that form of amusement, and incur expense in having it, and put other people to inconvenience that they may have it. They accept this ruling without any hesitation, and they never stop to reflect what it means. Is it likely that the rather indefinite and easily evaded habits of the Christian Sunday will be able to hold out against such a tendency, against the new imperative law to which all submit, "we must be amused." 


Where restrictions are strong, they chafe bitterly against them; where they are weak, they have long ago broken them down. How are we to regard those who devote Sunday to amusement, with perhaps just the exception of a single hour in Church? I do not know that it will be of much good to speak of it as a profanation, for until a man has personally realized Sunday as a holy day, and made it such by his own use of it, there is no question of profanation. Again, I do not know that one can make much impression by speaking of it as a waste of precious opportunities, a loss of blessing and help in the spiritual life, in cases where such life and desire of growth in it are not yet really called out. 


[SEE  HOW  HE  LEANS  TOWARDS  PEOPLE  HAVING  TO  “PERSONALLY  REALIZE  SUNDAY  AS  A  HOLY  DAY.”  MANKIND  CANNOT  MAKE  A  DAY  HOLY;  GOD  IS  ONLY  HOLY,  AND  IT  IS  HE  ALONE  THAT  MAKES  A  DAY  HOLY;  WHAT  THE  HUMAN  MIND  DESIRES  OR  THINKS,  MAKES  NO  DIFFERENCE,  THE  HUMAN  MIND  THINKING  A  DAY  IS  HOLY  DOES  NOT  MAKE  IT  SO.  I  CAN  THINK  THERE  IS  A  MAN  IN  THE  MOON,  BUT  IT  DOES  NOT  MAKE  IT  SO.  SOME  THOUGHT  THEY  SAW  CANALS  ON  MARS,  SO  SOME  KIND  OF  HUMAN  LIFE;  THINKING  IT  WAS  SO  DID  NOT  MAKE  IT  SO,  AS  WE  HAVE  DISCOVERED  WITH  MODERN  SCIENCE  -  Keith Hunt]



But it can be plainly put to them that it is selfishness. By making the Sunday a day of amusement, you are helping to bring down the day to the level of the rest of the week, your example is telling (along with that of thousands of others exactly like yourself) in the direction of a secular Sunday for England. You may entirely disclaim any wish to influence the way in which others keep it, but you are influencing it. Nothing that you do can altogether escape observation, and what is observed will exercise an influence. While you play tennis within the walls of your garden, or billiards in the privacy of your house, your action is distantly telling on the character of the English Sunday, and its power in the future for temporal and spiritual blessing to the English nation. 


Sunday has maintained itself, it will maintain itself, for it is of God, 

[NOPE  IT  IS  NOT  OF  GOD,  NEVER  WAS  AND  NEVER  WILL  BE  -  Keith Hunt]


and it is dear to His people, but the extent of its blessing to the nation can be grievously marred by the selfishness of the present generation. It is in great part unconscious selfishness, but no moral ignorance is total. There is always an accusing voice. Sunday is best regarded as the outward manifestation of the spiritual life of the individual, the parish, the Church. If that is full and vigorous, the day will be a day of happiness and brightness—of full churches, congregations heartily taking part in the services, sermons full of good tidings, not dry reflections or denunciations, but bread for the hungry, the Lord's Table surrounded by joyful communicants, works of love and mercy, silently and quietly done, happy home life, rest for tired limbs, enjoyment of food and comforts, enjoyment of the beauties and wonders of Nature with their deep incalculable, religious influence on hearts that are open to them. 


But you cannot manufacture or impose these effects independently of their cause. They come out of hearts at peace with God, resting on his promises, living in his love. The question of Sunday observance runs back into the primary question of a living soul or a dead one. Where there is life, Sunday will be kept in a way pleasing to God, profitable for the individual, gainful for the Church. One verse deeply understood will give all the guidance that we need. "This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it."

…………………………


NO  THIS  SUNDAY  IS  NOT  THE  DAY  THAT  THE  LORD  HAS  MADE.  HE  SAID,  JESUS  SAID,  HE  WAS  LORD  OF  THE  SABBATH;  THAT  IS  FROM  THE  WHOLE  THEOLOGY  OF  THE  BIBLE,  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK,  NOT  THE  1ST  DAY.


THE  OVERALL  IS  THIS.  THE  WORD  OF  GOD  IS  TRUTH,  NOT  THE  IDEAS  OF  MEN  OR  THE  CUSTOMS  THAT  MEN  BRING  INTO  THE  RELIGION  OF  THE  FATHER  AND  CHRIST.  UNTIL  YOU  KNOW  TRUTH  YOU  SIMPLY  DO  NOT  KNOW  IT,  AND  YOU  CAN  BE  SINCERE  IN  YOUR  LACK  OF  KNOWLEDGE   ON  TRUTH.  WITH  SUCH  PEOPLE  GOD  CAN  ANSWER  THEIR  PRAYERS,  HAVE  ANGELS  TO  WATCH  OVER  THEM,  KEEP  THEM  SAFE  AND  A  MYRIAD  OF  OTHER  THINGS.  I  KNEW  NOT  THE  TRUE  SABBATH  OF  GOD  GROWING  UP;  I  WAS  SINCERE  THAT  IT  WAS  SUNDAY;  I’M  SURE  THE  LORD  WAS  WITH  ME  IN  MY  SINCERE  IGNORANCE;  I’M  SURE  HE  HELPED  AND  KEPT  ME  SAFE  FROM  HARM  MANY  TIMES.


IT  WAS  NOT  TILL  I  WAS  19  AND  IN  CANADA,  THAT  GOD  THROUGH  MY  BAPTIST  LANDLORD  REVEALED  TO  ME  THAT  SUNDAY  WAS  THE  FIRST  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK  AND  NOT  THE  7TH  DAY  OF  THE  WEEK.


THEN  I  HAD  TO  MAKE  SURE  WHAT  HE  WAS  TELLING  ME  WAS  CORRECT.  AND  THEN  FURTHER  AFTER  SOME  STUDY,   I  HAD  A  DECISION  TO  MAKE,  WAS  I  GOING  TO  FOLLOW  GOD’S  TRUTH,  OR  CAVE  IN  TO  MY  PERSONAL  DESIRES  IN  LIFE,  AND  FOLLOW  THE  WAY  OF  THE  CROWD   IN  THIS  THEOLOGICAL  STIPULATION.


TODAY  THE  SABBATH  QUESTION  IN  SUNDAY  CHURCHES  IS  JUST  ABOUT  NEVER  BROUGHT  UP.


SOME  MINISTERS  TODAY  DO  NOT  BELIEVE  THE  APOSTLE  PAUL  WROTE  13  (AND  FOR  ME  14)  BOOKS  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT.  ONE  BOOK  I  HAVE  BY  A  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  MINISTER  CLAIMS  A  GOOD  PORTION  OF  “CHRISTIAN   SCHOLARS”  TODAY  ONLY  ACCEPT  PAUL  WROTE  7  BOOKS  OR  EPISTLES,  AND  SO  ONLY  USES  THEM  TO  WRITE  A  WHOLE  BOOK  CALLED  “WHAT  PAUL  MEANT.”


THEN  YOU’VE  HAD  IN  THE  PAST,  LITTLE  “TRACTS” — I  SAW  AND  READ  IN  THE  1960s,  THAT  USED  ROMANS  14  TO  SAY  YOU  CAN  PICK  ANY  DAY  AS  THE  SABBATH,  AND  THEN  ALSO  USED  COL. 2:16  TO  SAY  THE  SABBATH  WAS  ABOLISHED  COMPLETELY.  THEY  DID  NOT  EVEN  SEEM  TO  REALIZE  THEY  WERE  USING  PAUL  TO  CONTRADICT  HIMSELF.  HENCE  SOME  DO  NOT  PUT  MUCH  TRUST  IN  PAUL  AND  HIS  WRITINGS.  NOW  TODAY  THE  SUNDAY  MINISTERS  SEEM  TO  HAVE  SEEN  THE  FOLLY  OF  THAT  ARGUMENT.  SO  NOTHING  IS  SAID  ABOUT  THERE  STILL  BEING  A  WEEKLY  SABBATH  THAT  SHOULD  BE  OBSERVED  AS  GIVEN  IN  EXODUS  20  AND  THE  FOURTH  COMMANDMENT.


SO  THE  LONG  AND  SHORT  OF  IT:  PEOPLE  MEET  ON  SUNDAY  BECAUSE  IT  IS  TRADITION  TO  DO  SO,  AND  FOR  MOST  PEOPLE  THE  BEST  CONVENIENCE  STILL;  NOTHING  IS  PREACHED  ABOUT  THE  SABBATH  AND  CHURCH  PEOPLE  COULD  CARE  LESS  WHAT  OTHERS  DO  ON  THAT  DAY,  BEFORE  AND  AFTER  “CHURCH  SERVICES.”    


NOW  AS  YOU  READ  THE  GOSPELS,  PRESUMING  YOU  DO,  OR  WILL  DO,  YOU’LL  SEE  WHY  JESUS  WAS  SO  AGAINST  THE  SCRIBES AND PHARISEES FOR REPLACING  THE  COMMANDMENTS  OF  GOD  WITH  THEIR  TRADITIONS.


YOU  ARE  NOW  IN  THE  DRIVER’S  SEAT;  IF  YOU’VE  READ  THIS  YOU  NOW  HAVE  A  DECISION  TO  MAKE!


Keith Hunt