Religious Obligations Footnotes.

From: Essays on the Principles of Morality, and on the Private and Political Rights and Obligations of Mankind (1834).
Author: Jonathan Dymond
Published: Harper & Brothers 1834 Philadelphia


1 [We would amend the phraseology here, by inserting the qualifying term “merely”;—“Not merely in assembling,” “not merely in joining,” &c.—B.]
2 It is to be regretted that this word, of which the origin is so exceptionable, should be used to designate what are regarded as solemn acts of religion.
3 Cowper’s Letters.
4 [Though not necessarily dependent upon them, it is nevertheless greatly assisted by them.—B.]
5 Sermons, No. 10.
6 [The justice of the remarks in the above paragraphs maybe admitted, while at the same time they are far from being conclusive against the propriety of external ordinances of worship. There is nothing wrong in the mere excitement of the passions in reference to religious objects, and though there be doubtless an evil in mistaking these natural fervours for the exercises of true piety, yet the mistake is not necessary but an accidental.—B.]
7 [It were to be wished that the author had either said more or less upon the subject of religious conversation. The introduction of the topic at all in this place is somewhat gratuitous, and the sweeping assertion that “religious conversation is one of the banes of the religions world” is in a high degree unwarrantable. What should we think of that “religious world” out of which religious conversation should be banished altogether? We have it upon the highest of all authority that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” nor is it intimated that it ought to be otherwise. Where religious themes are uppermost in the mind, they will, by the very law of our nature, give tone to the conversation; and unless it be wrong to feel deeply on these subjects, it cannot be wrong to converse freely and frequently upon them. The Scriptures give the most unequivocal sanction lo this style of conversation. “Thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”—“Then they that feared the Lord spake often to one another.”—“Thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts.” The truth is, the conversation of the mass of mankind is governed in great measure by the current of events transpiring in the world, and the more these events partake of a religious character, the more clearly they resolve themselves into the special dispensations of Providence, as they will doubtless henceforward continue to do, the more conversation will they necessarily occasion; and who would have it otherwise? The varied efforts of Christian benevolence at the present day constitute no inconsiderable share of the actual machinery of the world; and the more there is doing in this deportment, the more will it be talked of, whether in the pulpit or the parlour; and he would certainly deprive the pious heart of one of its most precious sources of enjoyment who would proscribe these topics from the social circle. There may doubtless be an abuse of this as well as of every good thing and religious conversation may degenerate into a sickly sentimental retailing of personal “experiences,” upon which most persons of intelligence will agree with the author in fixing the seal of reprobation. But although the excess of the practice was no doubt that which elicited the remarks, yet his censure, notwithstanding all his qualifications, is too indiscriminate to be just.—B.]
8 Heb. x. 25.
9 [The mere circumstance of a change of the day does not surely militate with the idea of a perpetual sanctity being attached to some portion of time. Yet this, if we understand it, is the drift of the author’s inference; an instance of inconclusive reasoning such as we seldom meet with in this work. It is doubtless true that upon the abrogation of the Jewish Sabbath there was not the formal institution of a new Sabbath to be enforced upon the observance of Christians; and why? Such a definite injunction would probably have been understood to transfer to it the ceremonial rigour of the Jewish Sabbath, instead of the spiritual character belonging to a Christian solemnity. If an apostolic injunction had been issued for constituting a new Sabbath, the observance of the one day would naturally have been understood to succeed precisely into the place of that of the other, and to require the same rigour of external solemnization. The fourth commandment, by referring the observance of the seventh day to the creation, had sufficiently the general obligation of observing a Sabbath. After the exodus from Egypt, the day was invested with a character specially Jewish, as it was referred to a remarkable deliverance of that people; and it remained for the apostles to institute, under the same original obligation, a new Sabbath of a Christian character, as referring to a Christian and spiritual deliverance, which should be observed with a heartfelt devotion, not burthened with a punctilious attention to outward regulation. Such a change the apostles accordingly authorized in the most appropriate manner, by the silent sanction of their own example, which would as little as possible afford a pretence for an outward formality, not belonging to the Christian character: and the formal observance of the Jewish Sabbath was gradually and quietly suffered to fall into disuse.

  But if we have scriptural authority for the observance of a day at all, then we have, upon the same authority, grounds for its sanctified observance, which certainly involves the duty of a cessation of secular business and employments. The general views of our author on the subject of sabbatical institutions are singularly loose, for one who professes to build his moral philosophy on the basis of revealed religion.—B.]
10 Col. ii. 16, 17. In Rom. xiv. 5, 6, there is a parallel passage.
11 Gal. iv. 10, 11.
12 [But if the Christian Sabbath on the first day of the week has been merely substituted for the Jewish on the seventh, and cessation from labour was enjoined on the seventh day, it is virtually enjoined on the first also. The distinguishing character of the day as a holy institution is essentially the same in each instance.—B.]
13 The scrupulousness of the “Puritans” in the reign of Charles I., and the laxity of Laud, whose ordinances enjoined sports after the hours of public worship, were both really, though perhaps not equally, improper. The Puritans attached sanctity to the day; and Laud did not consider, or did not regard the consideration, that his sports would not only discredit the notion of sanctity, but preclude that recollectedness of mind which ought to be maintained throughout the whole day.
14 There is reason to believe that, to the numerous class of coachmen, waiters, &c. the alteration would be most acceptable. I have been told by an intelligent coachman, that they would gladly unite in a request to their employers if it were likely to avail.
15 Mor. and Pol. Phil. b. 5. c. 5.
16 Milton’s Prose Works, v. 4, p. 266.
17 More’s Moral Sketches, 3d Ed. p. 429.
18 More’s Moral Sketches, 3d Ed. p. 327.
19 Mor. And Pol. Phil. p. 3, b. 5, c. 5.
20 Gisborne’s Duties of Men.
21 Memoirs of Dr. Priestley.
22 Observations on Man.

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