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SABBATH, or SUNDAY.
IN presenting to our readers the following discourse upon the festival of Sunday, it may not be amiss to premise, that, in our opinion, the setting apart of one day in seven, for rest, instruction or amusement, is highly beneficial to the state, in a political point of view, as well as productive of social happiness. Whether the observance of every tenth day in this way, would answer a better purpose or not, is a question that experience alone could determine. There were, however, imperious reasons to induce the French legislators to make the experiment. Superstition had become such a dead weight upon industry, by being interwoven with every thing which regarded time, that it became in a measure requisite wholly to revolutionize the Calendar. Nearly every day in the year was dedicated to some saint; to most of whom respect and veneration was demanded. The time consumed in attending to these saints, was such an incroachment upon the necessary avocations of the people, as to render their religious duties almost intolerable. To remedy these inconveniences, the French convention made a bold attempt to undermine the whole fabrick, upon which these futile and nonsensical rites and ceremonies were founded; concluding that the people, by loosing sight of their saint-days, would also in time, abandon the superstition which had given birth to them. The scheme fully answered their expectations. Despotic power, however, has again partly reinstated the shattered remains of this Gothic edifice, though not with all its ancient deformity. At present, every person in France is at liberty to keep either the seventh or tenth day, or both, in such a manner as he may think proper.
But with respect to the observance of the Sabbath, it is highly important to know whether it be of divine origin or not;
for if it be, it is requisite still to consider the seventh day of the week as holy, and not the first, 'as there is no order pretended either in the old or new testament, for the observance of that day. And it is a little extraordinary, that the believers in the divinity of the old testament, should, with such sang froid, as they do, neglect to obey one of the most positive commands in that book. People in general, however, do not enquire into the propriety of their opinions or conduct, following like the drayhorse, the beaten path of custom. But as we fully agree with our author in regard to the origin of the Sabbath, or day of rest, that it is of human invention ; we conceive it perfectly immaterial which of the days has the preference. All we should contend for, therefore, would be, that moral and scientific discourses, which would benefit mankind, should be delivered from the desk on that day, and not such useless and fanatical sermons as are now in vogue.
Upon the festival of Sunday, delivered in the Temple of Reason,
by Raisin Pagés, member of the popular society of Mount Pellico, on the 1st decade of Ventose, in the 2d year of the French Republic.
CITIZENS, BROTHERS, AND FRIENDS.
MAN is born to labour, but he must of necessity have some relaxation to renew his strength, which continued labour would soon exhaust.
If, instead of being united in society, men lived independent of one another, as in a state of simple nature, each would acknowledge no rule of conduct but that of individual will ; and in quitting or returning to his labour, he would consult only his in. clination or his wants : but, once united in society, it was the duty of man to seek the means proper to perpetuate an union, which promised to mankind in general so great advantages.
In this research he strongly feit the necessity of laws ; they were enacted, and from that period every thing, even stated periods of repose, have been in subjection to the empire of law. Yes, citizens, it is to human laws only that we are indebted for the institution of a day of rest. The worship of God, whatever may be said to the contrary, was not the real object of that insti. tution, which is more ancient than Moses, being in use long before his time, among idolatrous nations. It was the Egyptians that gave it birth. The cruelty of certain masters, who allowed their slaves no relaxation from labour, suggested to them a day of general rest. The better to ensure the execution of the law that enforced it, they had, according to the policy of some ancient legislators, the address to attach to it religious ideas.
Of all the nations of remote antiquity, the Egyptians were the least versed in the science of astronomy—they were the first who conceived and executed the design of dividing the months into weeks. Their months were not solar, as ours are, they were lunar-this error arose, from their taking for a basis, in the divi. sion of time, the revolution of the moon round the earth, instead of that of the latter round the sun.
The four phases of the moon presented them with a natural division of the month into four parts ; and could give each of these parts neither more nor less than seven days ; making for each week a number of days equal to that of the planets. Wishing afterwards to name each day, they called the first the day of the Sun ; the second, that of the Moon ; the third, that of Mars; the fourth, that of Mercury ; the fifth, that of Jupiter ; the sixth, that of Venus ; and lastly, the seventh, that of Saturn. From thence, citizens, are derived the names of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, &c.
The sun was the principal object of adoration among the idolatrous nations. The day that bore the name of that luminary, was, in consequence, by them consecrated to repose ; and it is that feast that has been religiously observed among all Pagans of antiquity. It is the same feast that the Hebrews, after their departure from Egypt, chose, under the name of Sabbat ; which, before that time, was unknown to them. It is an incontrovertible faet, that during the long space of time, which elapsed from the days of Adam to those of Moses, the patriarchs observed neither Sabbat nor Sunday. The word Sabbat signifies in Hebrew, a cessation, or repose ; and the number of absurd fables, which the institution of that feast has given rise to, is truly astonishing. Some have pretended that the Jews celebrated it in honour of Bacus, who is also called Sabbos ; because, at the feast of that god, it was their custom to cry Sabboi. Others have maintained that they celebrated it in memory of their recovery from a shameful disease, called in Egypt Sabboia. There were even some who believed that the Jews chose the Saturday in honor of Saturn, a fabulous divinity, which signifies time.
Finally, we have had priests, who wished to make us believe that the Jews, and after them some Christians, observed the Sabbat, and others the Sunday, in memory of the pretended repose of God after the creation of the world. Nothing of all that, citizens, is true. The aversion of the Jews to the worship of other nations, was well known ; our God, said they, is a jealous God he suffers no rival, or any to participate in his glory. And how can we then suppose, that they instituted a feast in honor of Saw turn, of a Bacus, or other chimera of that kind. On the other hand, if the Sabbat had been instituted in memory of the cure of the Sabboia, we should at least find some vestiges of that disease in the history of those times ; but no historian speaks of it. And further, it is well ascertained, that the feast of the Sabbat was not instituted in Egypt ; and even its name, as I have already observed, has a Hebrew, and not an Egyptian, etymology. Lastly, how can it be said that the Sabbat was instituted in memory of the repose of God after the creation? God, as the priests formerly informed us, created the world in six days, and on the seventh he rested; by which they would have us to understand, that he gives us six days for labour, and the seventh for rest. Thus repose is enjoined on that day, though you should perish with hunger ; take care to abstain from labour if you would not commit a morial sin, and lest God, in his just indignation, should deliver you a prey to eternal flames.
It is, without doubt, very melancholy, citizens, for a rational man, to be obliged to answer to such follies ; but we must necessarily resolve to answer them, since, to the shame of our age, I
assert, there are yet among us some weak and credulous men, (perhaps good republicans) who still endure the yoke of this paltry prejudice. I will not here examine what degree of belief the history that Moses gives of the creation of the world, is entitled to. I agree, without examining, to admit its reality ; but, in admitting it, may I be permitted to address a few reflections to those impostors, who dare abuse the confidence which the people have placed in them.
In the first place, after the work of six days, God, you say, reposed on the seventh. You wish it to be so I consent to itbut, on the eighth, and the following, what did God do ? Did he work or did he rest ?-Do you answer, that he continued to repose, and still reposes ? According to that account, in order perfectly to resemble that God of constancy or consistency, it would be necessary that man, after having laboured six days, should consecrate the remainder of his life to repose. Do you assert that God still works? but at which ? at preserving what he has created but take care that a shocking inconsistency does not escape your mouth ; for, according to yoor own assertions, there would have been at least one day in which God neither created por preserved ; and, notwithstanding on that day the world must have existed without him. It would then be possible that it should always have existed in the same manner : and, from that moment, your hideous system would conduct me straight to atheism.
Secondly-God, you say, has given man six days to labour, the seventh for rest. If that be true, or if you wish I should believe it, explain I pray you, how it came to pass, that neither Adam, nor any of the patriarchs, who lived before or after the flood knew any thing of it; and consequently used to labour every day indiscriminately, and reposed only when fatigue rendered it necessary
Further explain to me, if you please, by what authority priests have taken upon themselves to deprive us of what God has given us? by what right they have instituted feasts other than that of the seventh day ? Lastly, by what right have they forced mankind to consecrate to repose, days, which God designed for labour ? In short, what you say cannot be true, that I should be forced,