SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1908
In the course of a sermon at Badsey Church, on the "Marks of a Christian," on Sunday, September 27th, the Vicar said: "It is likely that any one of us will ever have his flesh branded with evidence of his faithfulness to Christ, and thus be able to, share literally in St. Paul's proud boast, I bear branded on my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.' Can we therefore never hope to have proofs, which may be seen and read of all men, that we do belong to Christ? Certainly we can. Indeed if there be no such evidence as plain and unmistakable as the marks of St. Paul, though 'no man' may 'trouble' us, we have the very best of reasons for doubting our own sincerity.
The marks for which God and man look today are marks in character and conduct. There are certain things which, to a Christian, ought to matter, certain principles which he cannot disregard without it being guilty of disloyalty to Jesus Christ. One of these principles is the observance of the Lord's Day, the keeping of Sunday. I may be told that it is going too far to make the keeping of Sunday one of the tests of a Christian; that the keeping of Sunday is merely an English fashion and is not universal in Christendom; that on the continent they do not keep Sunday. This is not true. Although, according to continental fashion, more than half the day is given up by the majority to worldly pleasure, and consequently, in the case of many, to worldly business, Sunday is not allowed by the devout Christian to pass by unmarked by any outward sign of devotion: indeed the continental churches at early Mass on Sunday would put most of our English parishes to shame. The observance of Sunday by some mark of devotion is characteristic of Christianity throughout the wide world. Therefore, to blot out Sunday altogether as a holy-day is to be guilty of disloyalty to Christ.
You have, doubtless, guessed before now what has suggested this train of thought. Many thousands of our countrymen have deliberately agreed together to blot out Sunday, September 27, 1908, as a holy day, and are devoting, the day partly to business of a more or less serious character, and partly to hilarity, and duty to my office compels me to make this public protest. I say, nothing of the merits or demerits of the cause which is being advocated. I have altogether refrained from criticism of the Licensing Bill in the pulpit, which is more than some clerical opponents of the measure can say. I say nothing of the merits or demerits of the cause, and would have uttered a similar protest against such wholesale desecration of Sunday by supporters of the measure. It is urged that for such a demonstration trains could not have been secured on a week-day. In that case, a reference to to-day's Gospel, which has something to say about the conflicting interests of God and Mammon, might have provided a solution of the difficulty. The 'demonstration' is described by its organisers as 'national.' I hope the description is misleading, for, if to-day's 'demonstration' is in any sense 'national' it is surely a demonstration of national apostasy. But the language of the promoters of to-day's proceedings is obviously an exaggeration I know - and I am glad to be able to tell you - that there are some connected with this church, who have much at stake over this Bill, who are not at all favourable to such wholesale desecration of the Lord's Day, the sanctification of which is, without all contradiction, one of the 'marks' of a Christian."