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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/329

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THE SABBATH.

to a poetic myth—a view which afterward found expression in the vast reveries of Hugh Miller. But if this symbolic interpretation, which is now generally accepted, be the true one, what becomes of the Sabbath-day? It is absolutely without ecclesiastical meaning; and the man who was executed for gathering sticks on that day must be regarded as the victim of a rude legal rendering of a religious epic.

There were many minor offshoots of discussion from the great central controversy. Bishop Horsley had defined a day "as consisting of one evening and one morning, or, as the Hebrew words literally import, of the decay of light and the return of it." But what then, it was asked, becomes of the Sabbath in the Arctic regions, where light takes six months to "decay," and as long to "return"? Differences of longitude, moreover, render the observance of the Sabbath at the same hours impossible. To some people such questions might appear trifling; to others they were of the gravest import. Whether the Sabbath should stretch from sunset to sunset, or from midnight to midnight, was also a subject of discussion. Voices, moreover, were heard refusing to acknowledge the propriety of the change from Saturday to Sunday, and the doctrine of Seventh-day observance was afterward represented by a sect.[1] The earth's sphericity and rotation, which had at first been received with such affright, came eventually to the aid of those afflicted with qualms and difficulties regarding the respective claims of Saturday and Sunday. The sun apparently moves from east to west. Suppose, then, we start on a voyage round the world in a westerly direction. In doing so we sail away, as it were, from the sun, which follows and periodically overtakes us, reaching the meridian of our ship each succeeding day somewhat later than if we stood still. For every 15° of longitude traversed by the vessel the sun will be exactly an hour late; and after the ship has traversed twenty-four times 15°, or 360°, that is to say, the entire circle of the earth, the sun will be exactly a day behind. Here, then, is the expedient suggested by Dr. Wallis, F. R. S., Savilian Professor of Geometry in the University of Oxford, to quiet the minds of those in doubt regarding Saturday observance. He recommends them to make a voyage round the world, as Sir Francis Drake did, "going out of the Atlantic Ocean westward by the Straits of Magellan to the East Indies, and then from the east, returning by the Cape of Good Hope homeward, and let them keep their Saturday-Sabbath all the

  1. Theophilus Braboume, a sturdy Puritan minister of Norfolk, whom Cox regards as the founder of this sect, thus argued the question in 1628: "And now let me propound unto your choice these two days: the Sabbath-day on Saturday or the Lord's day on Sunday; and keep whether of the twain you shall in conscience find the more safe. If you keep the Lord's day, but profane the Sabbath-day, you walk in great danger and peril (to say the least) of transgressing one of God's eternal and inviolable laws—the fourth commandment. But, on the other side, if you keep the Sabbath-day, though you profane the Lord's day, you are out of all gunshot and danger, for so you transgress no law at all, since neither Christ nor his apostles did ever leave any law for it."