Split Sundays

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
AT the Rochester Diocesan Conference, held a few months ago, Lord Darnley suggested that all churchmen should attend morning services on Sundays, but that after noon the Church should countenance legitimate recreation and games.
Of late years there have been many efforts made towards the secularization of the Sunday, as witness the opening of museums, playing of bands in public parks, opening of theaters, running of excursion trains, &c.; but Lord Darnley's suggestion would go further, and ask that the favor and blessing of religious leaders should be given to a definite splitting of the Sunday in two—one half being devoted, alas! in many cases to a mere fashionable, worldly, ritualistic form, and not the true worship of God; the other half given heart and soul, with greedy lust, to worldly society and pleasures.
For one may rest assured, if in summer the cricket bat, tennis racquet, hockey and golf sticks were handled, in winter it would quickly be the opera and the theater—in short, a Continental Sunday, with all its blighting, withering curse.
Now all this is very serious. Instead of the worship of God being the creature's highest pleasure, it is relegated to a mere secondary place, to be endured for decency's sake and got rid of as soon as possible.
I would like to ask whether such a suggestion as Lord Darnley's springs from devotion to God, and love for souls, and for their eternal blessing, or what?
How does it stand alongside of the lawyer's masterly definition of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart, and with ALL thy soul, and with ALL thy strength, and with ALL thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Luke 10:27)?
Love is a strong word. "Thou shalt love," and that with all your heart, soul, and strength. Failing this, the law can only curse.
Judged by this standard, the man who gives six days in the week to business and pleasure, and would filch from spiritual occupation half of the seventh day, clearly shows where his heart is. Are these lines read by any who sympathize with Lord Darnley's suggestion?
I would remind such that you cannot deceive God. Your heart is away from Him. I fear you want just enough religion to make you feel respectable, and then it must be made attractive by high-class music and ornate ritualism to endure it; it must not make you feel you have to do with God as a poor sinner, but just enough to make you feel comfortable in plunging into a vortex of gaiety and pleasure and sin.
One word of warning I feel impelled to give you. You may have split Sundays, but you won't have a split Eternity. You understand. It must be altogether heaven or altogether hell forever.
Where does this half-hearted, fashionable, worldly religion lead to? Certainly not to heaven.
That is by the rugged hill of repentance, by the straight and narrow gate, by the bloodstained cross of Calvary.
I tremble as I write these words. The thousands of empty formalists, mere religious butterflies, who in their heart of hearts grudge God the few hours hitherto devoted to His service in an outward way, who love to riot in pleasure and sin, will wake up one day to the awful mistake they are making.
Even worldly men are giving us grave warning how pleasure-seeking is absorbing the strength and vitality of the nation to such an alarming extent that England will soon be scrap-heaped, as Rome and Greece were in their day.
If worldly men can utter such warnings, it is no wonder the Christian is stirred.
But even if the whole Sunday were preserved to us, nay, more, if every day in the week were a Sunday, remember religious observances will not save your soul.
Sometimes we read of a person, like the Grand Duchess Sergius of Russia, turning his or her back on the world and its pleasures, and entering into a monastery or nunnery, and devoting every day and all the day—even entrenching on the night—to religious observances.
But this will not save. Salvation is not of works. Repentance is not penance.
"Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ," is the way of blessing. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." (Acts 16:31.) There is no other way. Make no mistake.
May God give you no rest, reader, till you can say that you are saved by His grace, that you know your sins are forgiven, and that you are looking forward with glad expectation to an un-split eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven.
But remember, whatever you have, YOU WILL NOT HAVE A SPLIT ETERNITY. A. J. P.