ARP Church 1903 Address section on the Legacy of Sabbath Keeping

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Jake

Puritan Board Senior
From "The Heritage Our fathers Left Us”, address by Rev. D.G. Phillips at the Centennial Address of the Associate Reformed Synod of the South (ARP) in 1903 (p. 723-4, in Centennial History A.R.P. Church 1803-1903)

They taught us how to keep the Sabbath. It is granted on all hands that they were more careful than any of the other churches about Sabbath observance. I’m not old, but I can recall distinctly the horror that came over me when on Sabbath morning as a boy I saw a man in the crowd at the door of old Ebenezer church whittling a stick with his knife. I half expected lightning to strike him. And to this good day I’m afraid to whistle on sabbath. The world calls that narrow. But our fathers were nearer right than wrong. You can’t well be too strict in Sabbath keeping. When one is hurt by too rigid a Sabbath, a thousand are ruined by a loose one. A man’s attitude toward the Sabbath is a fair test of his spiritual character. If he is loose on the Sabbath, he is lacking in vital godliness, his convictions are shallow, he is not rooted and grounded in love. If he honors the Sabbath he is still anchored to God. Letting down on the sabbath is like the letting out of water. Once you begin there is no stopping place till the sacredness of the day is utterly gone. You hallow it in your heart as God’s own holiday, on which we are not to do our own work nor find our own pleasures nor speak our own words nor think our own thoughts, or you lose reverence for it altogether. And the transition is not slow. Twenty years ago Christian people would have horrified if some one had prophesied that the theaters would be in full blast and great crowds would flock to see baseball games in all our cities on Sabbath. But that is what has come to pass. If it has been prophesied twenty years ago that every Sabbath day the railroad trains would be crowded to the very doors with men and women and children going off to a picnic, Christians would have said “impossible.” But it is going on to-day all over this country. Our fathers were right. They saw the danger. They knew the tendency. They taught us to stand like a stone wall against even the slightest infringement of the spirit of the Sabbath. They so stood in their day, thereby leaving us a blessed Sabbath. And from their graves they call on us to follow their example. Only so can we transmit a holy Sabbath to our children.
 
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