Puritans and long journeys

Discussion in 'The Lord's Day or Christian Sabbath' started by Logan, Sep 11, 2019 at 12:49 PM.

  1. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I have a question that I've been pondering for a bit, more of a historical curiosity and I wondered if anyone had come across something that would be helpful.

    Generally, for much of the world's history, places were far apart and to cross them one would have to deal with a Sabbath while journeying. For example, many people traveled back and forth from the Americas by ship, which too several months. Sometimes a minister was with them, perhaps other times informal services were held.

    Another example is Calvin's traveling from Geneva to Strasbourg and back. I don't know what towns were in between but a trip of nearly 400 km (240 miles) would certainly have taken more than a week.

    Is there any evidence as to how they handled such situations? Private devotions? Resting? Planning the route so they could span the Sabbath in a local congregation?

    Additionally, although these journeys may have been important, it could be argued that they weren't strictly necessary. I wonder if historically there were people who were so convicted that they were essentially bound to never travel more than a six-day's journey. Surely in a time when travel times were so long, there must be some discussion of this somewhere, but I am unaware of any. Or where someone wanted to travel to a location but was unable to because there was no congregation to worship in along the way. Has anyone here come across any accounts or discussion? I didn't recall Bownds, Durham, or Calvin specifically covering "necessary travel" or "long journeys".
  2. alexandermsmith

    alexandermsmith Puritan Board Sophomore

    I'm afraid I can't help you with any Puritan sources. However this very topic came up for discussion amongst some of us (in my church) the other week. When travel to distant lands was by boat such a journey (which would have gone over the Sabbath) was deemed lawful. I think in those days there would probably have been services held on ship and perhaps less work was done on board. The issue came up in relation to cruises today. Cruises are a different matter. The whole point of a cruise is recreation (it's not even about getting from point a to point b). And on the Sabbath there is going to be a lot of stuff going on (it's just another day) so even if a Christan were to remain in their room they're still contributing to that breaking of the Sabbath: they've paid to go on it, the whole point of a cruise is recreation. And the ship will probably be travelling over the Sabbath.

    As for travelling by land I expect Christians would have made sure they were settled in an abode by Saturday evening and remained there until Monday morning. Either they would have attended a local church or had private worship where they were.
  3. Wayne

    Wayne Tempus faciendi, Domine.

    Have you taken Luke 24:13-33 into consideration?
  4. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I admit that passage hadn't crossed my mind, Wayne. What specifically are you thinking of? That Jesus walked or traveled with the two on the same day he rose (Sunday)? I'm not entirely certain what precedent could be drawn from the first Sunday, could you clarify?

    My question is primarily one of historical curiosity. E.g., suppose someone was traveling more than a week and there were no churches (Reformed ones) along their route, which must have happened quite frequently. The case could be made that almost no journey (whether to lecture, visit relatives, conduct business, or even flee persecution) was truly an act of necessity. So I would imagine some would have argued against any long journey. It strikes me as interesting that this doesn't appear to have come up regularly and I'm not sure what to make of it.
  5. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Do you have George Whitefield's journals? If my memory serves me correctly, he traveled by boat quite a bit during the Sabbath. It has been some years since I have read through them.
  6. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    I don't, but he was one of the regular travelers that I'd thought of.
  7. Reformed Bookworm

    Reformed Bookworm Puritan Board Sophomore

    Do you have Logos? The journals are cheap on the their platform.

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