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Sunday




SUNDAY, or THE LORD’S DAY (he tou heliou hemera [Gk.], dies Solis [Lat.]; he kuriakou hemera [Gk.], dies dominica [Lat.], dies dominicus [Lat.] [653-1]). According to all the four evangelists, the resurrection of our Lord took place on the first place on the first day of the week after His crucifixion (he mia [ton] sabbaton [Gk.]: Matt. xxviii. 1, Mark xvi. 2. Luke xxiv. 1, John xx. 1; prote sabbatou [Gk.] : Mark xvi, 9), and the Fourth Gospel describes a second appearance to His disciples as having occurred eight days afterwards (John xx. 26). Apart from this central fact of the Christian faith, the Pentocostal outpouring of the Spirit, seven weeks later, described in Acts ii., cannot have failed to give an additional sacredness to the day in the eyes of the earliest converts. [653-2] Wheater the primitive church in Jerusalem had any special mode of observing it in its daily meetings held in the temple (Acts ii. 46) we cannot tell ; but as there is no doubt that in these gatherings the recurrence of the Sabbath was marked by appropriate Jewish observances, so it is not improbable that the worship on the first day of the week had also some distinguishing feature. Afterwards, at all events, when Christianity had been carried to other places where from the nature of the case daily meetings for worship were impossible, the first day of the week was everywhere set apart for this purpose. Thus Acts xx. 7 shows that the disciples the Troas met weekly on the first day of the week for exhortation and the breaking of bread ; 1 Cor. xvi. 2 implies at least some observance of the day; and the solemn commemorative character it had very early acquired is strikingly indicated by an incidental expression of the writer of the Apocalypse (i. 10), who for the first time gives it that name ("the Lord’s day") by which it is almost invariably referred to by all writers of the century immediately succeeding apostolic times. [654-1] Among the indications of the nature and universality of its observance during this period may be mentioned the precept in the (recently discovered) Teaching of the Apostles (c. 14) : "And on the Lord’s day of the Lord (kata kuriaken kuriou [Gk.]) come together and break bread and give thanks after confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure." Ignatius (Ad Magn., c. 9) speaks of those whom the addresses as "no longer Sabbatizing, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day (kata kuriaken zontes [Gk.]), on which also our life sprang up again." [654-2] Eusebius (H.E., iv 23) has preserved a letter of Dionysius of Corinth (175 A.D.) to Soter, bishop of Rome, in which he says : "To-day we have passed the Lord’s holy day, in which we have read your epistle"; and the same historian (H. E., iv. 26) mentions that Melito of Sardis (170 A.D.) had written a treatise on the Lord’s day. Pliny’s letter to Trajan in which he speaks of the meetings of the Christians "on a stated day" need only be alluded to. The first writer who mentions the name of Sunday as applicable to the Lord’s day is Justin Martyr; this designation of the first day of the week, which is of heathen origin (see SABBATH, vol. xxi. p. 126), had come into general use in the Roman world shortly before Justin wrote. The passage is too well known to need quotation (Apol. i., 67) in which he described how "on the day called Sunday" town and country Christians alike gathered together in one place for instruction and prayer and charitable offerings and the distribution of bread and wine; they thus meet together on the day, he says, because it is the first day in which God made the world, and because Jesus Christ on the same day rose from the dead.

As long as the Jewish Christian element continued to have any prominence or influence in the church, a tendency more or less strong to observed Sabbath as well as Sunday would of course persist. Eusebius (H.E., iii. 27) mentions that the Ebionites continued to keep both days, and there is abundant evidence from Tertullian onwards that so far as public worship and abstention from fasting are concerned the practice was widely spread among the Gentile churches. Thus we learn from Socrates (H.E., vi. c, 8) that in his time public worship was held in the churches of Constantinople on both days; the Apostolic Canons (can. 66 [65]) sternly prohibit fasting on Sunday or Saturday (except Holy Saturday); and the injunction of the Apostolic Constitutions (v. 20 ; cp. ii. 59, vii. 23) is to "hold your solemn assemblies and rejoice every Sabbath day (excepting one), and every Lord’s day." In the primitive church the social conditions were such as hardly to admit of the question being raised, in Gentile circles at any rate, as to the manner in which either the Lord’s day or the Sabbath ought further to be kept after the duty of congregational worship (usually early in the morning or late in the evening) had been discharged; but the whole matter was placed on an entirely new footing when the civil power, by the constitution of Constantine mentioned below, began to legislate as to the Sunday rest. The fourth commandment, holding as it does a conspicuous place in the decalogue, the precepts of which could not for the most part be regarded as of merely transitory obligation, had never of course escaped the attention of the father’s of the church; but, remembering the liberty given in the Pauline writings "in respect of a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath" (Col. Ii. 16; cf. Rom. Xiv. 5, Gal. Iv. 10, 11), they usually explained the "Sabbath day" of the commandment as meaning the new era that had been introduced by the advert of Christ, and interpreted the rest enjoined as meaning cessation from sin. [654-3] But, when a series of imperial decrees had enjoined with increasing stringency an abstinence from labour on Sunday, it was inevitable that the Christian conscience should be roused on the subject of the Sabbath rest also, and in many minds the tendency would be such as finds expression in the Apostolic Constitutions (viii. 33): "Let the slaves work five days; but on the Sabbath day and the Lord’s day let them have leisure to go to church for instruction in piety." There is evidence of the same tendency in the opposite canon (29) of the council of Laodicea (363), which forbids Christians from Judaizing and resting on the Sabbath day, and actually enjoins them to work on that day, preferring the Lord’s day and so far as possible resting as Christians. About this time accordingly we find traces of a disposition in Christian thinkers to try to distinguish between a temporary and a permanent element in the Sabbath day precept; thus Chrysostom (10th homily on Genesis) discerns the fundamental principle of that precept to be that we should dedicate one whole day in the circle of the week and set it apart for exercise in spiritual things. The view that the Christian Lord’s day or Sunday is but the Christian Sabbath deliberately transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week does not indeed find categorical expression till a much later period, Alcuin being apparently the first to allege of the Jewish Sabbath that "ejus observationem mos Christianus ad diem dominiciam comptentius transtulit" (compare DECALOGUE, vol. vii. p. 17). But the subjoined sketch will incidentally show how soon and to how large an extent this idea has influenced the course of civil legislation on the subject.

Law relating to Sunday

The earliest recognition of the observance of Sunday as a legal duty is a constitution of Constantine in 321 A.D., enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday (venerabili die Solis), with an exception in favour of those engaged in agricultural labour. This was the first of a long series of imperial constitutions, most of which are incorporated in the Code of Justinian, bk. iii. tit. 12 (De Feriis). The constitutions comprised in this title of code begin with that of Constantine, and further provide that emancipation and manumission were the only legal proceedings permissible on the Lord’s day (die dominico), though contracts and compromises might be made between the parties where no intervention of the court was necessary. Pleasure was forbidden as well as business. No spectacle was to be exhibited in a theatre of circus. If the emperor’s birthday fell on a Sunday, its celebration was to be postponed. The seven days before and after Easter were to be kept as Sundays. In Cod. i. 4, 9, appears the humane regulation that prisoners were to be brought up for examination and interrogation on Sunday. On the other hand, Cod. iii. 12, 10, distinctly directs the torture of robbers and pirates, even on Easter Sunday, the divine pardon (says the law) being hoped for where the safety of society was thus assured. After the time of Justinian the observance of Sunday appears to have become stricter. In the West Charlemagne forbade labour of any kind. A century later in the Eastern empire No. liv. of the Leonine constitutions abolished the exemption of agricultural labour contained in the constitution of Constantine. It is worthy of notice that this exemption was specially preserved in England by a constitution of Archbishop Meopham. The canon law followed the lines of Roman law. The decrees of ecclesiastical councils on the subject have been very numerous. Much of the law is contained in the Decretals of Gregory, bk. ii. tit. 9 (De Feriis), c. 1. of which (translated) runs: "We decree that all Sundays be observed from vespers to vespers (a vespera ad vesparam), and that all unlawful work be abstained from, so that in them trading or legal proceedings be not carried on, or any one condemned to death or punishment, or any oaths be administered, except for peace or other necessary reason." Works of necessity (especially in the case of perishable materials or where time was important, as in fishing) were allowed, on condition that a due proportion of the gain made by work so done was given to the church and the poor. The consent of parties was insufficient to give jurisdiction to a court of law to proceed on Sunday, though it was sufficient in the case of a day sanctified by ecclesiastical authority for a temporary purpose, e.g., a thanksgiving for vintage or harvest.

In England legislation on the subject began early and continues down to the most modern times. As early as the 7th century the laws of Ina, king of the West Saxons, provided that, if a "theowman" worked on Sunday by his lord’s command, he was to be free and the lord to be fined 30s.; if a freeman worked without his lord's command, the penalty was forfeiture of freedom or a fine of 60s., and twice as much in the case of a priest. The laws of Aethelstan forbade marketing, of Aethelred folkmoots and hunting, on the Sunday. In almost all the pre-Conquest compilations there are admonitions to keep the day holy. The first allusion to Sunday in statute law proper is the Act of 28 Edw. III. c. 14 (now repealed), forbidding the sale of wool at the staple on Sunday. The mass of legislation from that date downwards may be divided, if not with strict accuracy, at least for purposes of convenience, into five classes—ecclesiastical, judicial, social, and commercial. The following sketch of the legislation can scarcely presumed to be exhaustive, but it will probably be found not to omit any statute of importance. It should be noticed that the terms "Sunday" and "Lord’s day" are used in statutes. The term "Sabbath" occurs only in ordinances of the Long Parliament. "Sabbath-breaking" is sometimes used as a popular expression for a violation of the Acts for Sunday observance, but it is objected to by Blackstones as being legally incorrect. Good Friday and Christmas Day are as a rule in the same legal position as Sunday. In English law Sunday is reckoned from midnight to midnight, not as in canon law a vespera ad versperam. The Acts mentioned below are still law unless repeal of any of them is specially mentioned.





Ecclesiastical.—Before the Reformation there appears to be little or no statutory recognition of Sunday, except as a day on which trade was interdicted or sports directed to be held. Thus the repealed Acts 12 Ric. II. c. 6 and 11 Hen. IV. c. 4 enjoined the practice of archery on Sunday. The church itself by provincial constitutions and other means declared the sanctity of the day, and was strong enough to visit with its own censures those who failed to observed Sunday. With the Reformation, however, it became necessary to enforce the observance of Sunday by the state in face of the question mooted at the times as to divine or merely human institution of the day as a holy day. Sunday observance was directed by injunction of both Edward VI. and Elizabeth, as well as by Acts of Parliament in their reigns. 5 to 6 Edw. VI. c. 1 (the second Act of Uniformity) enacted that all inhabitants of the realm were to endeavour themselves to resort to their parish church or were to endeavour themselves to resort to their perish church or chapel accustomed, or upon reasonable let thereof to some usual place where common prayer is used every Sunday, upon pain of punishment by the censures of the church. This is still law except as to Dissenters (see 9 to 10 Vict. c. 59). The same principle was re-enacted in the Act of Uniformity of Elizabeth (1 Eliz. c. 2), with the addition of a temporal punishment, viz, a fine of twelve pence for each offence. This section of the Act is, however, no longer law, and it appears that the only penalty now incurred by non-attendance at church is the shadowy one of ecclesiastical censure. 5 to 6 Edw. c. 3 directed the keeping of all Sundays as holy days, with an exception in favour of husbandmen, labourers, fishermen, and other persons in harvest or other time of necessity. At the end of the reign of Elizabeth canon 13 of the canons of 1603 (which are certainly binding upon the clergy, and probably upon the laity as far as they are not contrary to the law, statutes, and customs of the realm, or the royal prerogative) provided that "all manner of persons within the Church of England shall celebrating and keep the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday, according to God’s holy will and pleasure and orders of the Church of England prescribed in that behalf, that is, in hearing the word of God read and taught, in private and public prayers, in acknowledging their offences to God and amendment of the same, in reconciling themselves charitably to their neighbours where displeasure hath been, in oftentimes receiving the communion of the body and blood of Christ, in visiting the poor and sick, using all godly nd sober conversation." The Long Parliament, as might be expected, occupied itself with the Sunday question. An ordinance of 1644, c. 51, directed the Lord’s day to be celebrated as holy, as being the Christian Sabbath. Ordinances of 1650, c. 9, and 1656, c. 15, contained various minute descriptions of crimes against the sanctity of the Lord’s day, including travelling and "vainly and profanely walking." The Act of Uniformity of Charles II. (13 and 14 Car. II. c. 4) enforced the reading on every Lord’s day of the morning and evening prayer according to the form in the Book of Common Prayer,—a duty which had been previously enjoined by canon 14. By the first of the Church Building Acts (58 Geo. III. c. 45, s. 65) the bishop may direct a third service, morning or evening, where necessary, in any church built under the Act. By 1 and 2 Vict. c. 106, s. 80, he may order the performance of two full services, each if he so direct to include a sermon. The Burial Laws Amendment Act, 1880, forbids any burial under the Act taking place on Sunday.

Constitutional.—Parliament has occasionally sat on Sunday in cases of great emergency, as on the demise of the crown. In one or two cases in recent years divisions in the House of Commons have taken place early on Sunday morning. The Ballot Act, 1872, enacts that in reckoning time for election proceedings Sundays are to be excluded. A similar provisions is contained in the Municipal Corporations Act, 1882, as to proceedings under that Act.

Judicial.—As a general rule Sunday for the purposes of judicial proceedings is dies non. Legal process cannot be served or executed on Sunday, except in cases of treason, felony, or breach of the peace (29 Car. II. c. 7, s. 6). Proceedings which do not need the intervention of the court are good, e.g., service of a citation or notice to quilt or claim to vote. By 11 and 12 Vict. c. 42, s. 4, a justice may issue a warrent of apprehension or a search warrant on Sunday. The Rules of the Supreme Court, 1883, provide that the offices of the Supreme Court shall be closed on Sundays, that Sunday is not to be reckoned in the computation of any limited time less than six days allowed for doing any act of taking any proceeding, and that, the time for doing any act or taking any proceeding expires on Sunday, such act of proceeding is good if done or taken on the next day. By the County Court Rules, 1886, the only county court process which can be executed on Sunday is a warrant of arrest in an Admiralty action.

Social.—Under this head may be grouped the enactments having for their object the regulation of Sunday travelling and amusements. The earliest example of non-ecclesiastical interference with recreation appears to be the Book of Sports issued by James I. in 1618. Royal authority was given to all but recusants to exercise themselves after evening service in dancing, archery, leaping, vaulting, May games, Whitsun-ales, morris-dances, and setting up of Maypoles; but bear and bull baiting, interludes, and bowling by the meaner sort was prohibited. In 1625 the first Act of the reign of Charles I. (1 Car. I. c. 1), following the lines of the Book of Sports, inhibited meetings, assemblies, or concourse of people out of their own parishes on the Lord’s day for any sports and pastimes whatsoever, and any bear-baiting, bull-baiting, interludes, common plays, or other unlawful exercises and pastimes used by person or persons within their own parishes under a penalty of 3s. 4d. for every offence. The Act, it will be noticed, impliedly allows sports other than the excepted ones as long as only parishioners take part in them. An Act which has had more important consequences in recent years is 21 Geo. III. c. 49 (drawn by Dr Porteus, bishop of London). It enacts that any place opened or used for public entertainment and amusement or for public debate upon any part of the Lord’s day called Sunday, to which persons are admitted by payment of money or by tickets sold for money, is to be deemed a disorderly house. The keeper is to forfeit £200 for every day on which it is opened or used as aforesaid on the Lord’s day, the manager or master of the ceremonies £100, and every doorkeeper or servant £50. The advertising or publishing any advertisement of such an entertainment is made subject to a penalty of £50. It has been held that a meeting the object of which was not pecuniary gain (though there was a charge for admission), but an honest intention to introduce religious worship, though not according to any established or usual form, was not within the Act. On this principle forms of worship most directly opposed to the prevailing feeling of the country, such as Mormonism or Mohammedanism, are protected. In 1875 actions were brought in the Courts of Queen’s Bench and Exchequer against the Brighton Aquarium Company, and penalties recovered under the Act. The penalties were remitted by the crown; to remit in such a case, 38 and 39 Vict. c. 80 was passed to remove such doubts and to enable the sovereign to remit in whole or in part penalties recovered for offences against the Act of Geo. III. The rules made by justices and the bye-laws made by local authorities for the government of theatres and places of public entertainment usually provide for closing on Sunday. The Sunday opening of museums and art galleries is governed by local regulations; there is no general law on the subject, though attempts have been made in that direction. The House of Lords recently passed a resolution in favour of the principle. A public billiard table must not be used on Sunday (8 and 9 Vict. c. 109). The Game Act )1 and 2 Will. IV. c. 32, s. 3) makes it punishable with a fine of £25 to kill game or use a dog or net for sporting purposes on Sunday. Provisions for the regulation of street traffic on Sundays during divine service in the metropolis and provincial towns may be made by the local authorities under the powers of the Metropolis Management Acts, the Town Police Clauses Act, and the Public Health Act. Hackney carriages may ply for hire in London (1 and 2 Will. IV. c. 22). Where a railway company runs trains on Sunday one cheap train each way is to be provided (7 and 8 Vict. c. 85 s. 10). Most of the railway companies own Acts also provide for the running of Sunday trains.





Commercial.—A common law a contract made on Sunday is not void, nor is Sunday trading or labour unlawful. At an early period, however, the legislature began to impose restrictions, at first by making Sunday trade impossible by closing the places or ordinary business, later by declaring certain kinds of trade and labour illegal, still later by attempting to prohibited all trade and labour. 28 Edw. III. c. 14 (referred to above) closed the wool market on Sunday. 27 Hen. VI. c. 5 (the earliest Sunday Act still in force) prohibited fairs and markets on Sunday (necessary victual only excepted), unless on the four Sundays in harvest,—an exemption since repealed by 13 and 14 Vict. c. 23. 4 Edw. IV. c. 7 (now repealed) restrained the shoemakers of London from carrying on their business on Sunday. 3 Car. I. c. 1 inflicted a penalty of 20s. on any carrier or drover travelling on the Lord’s day, and penalty of 6s. 8d. on any butcher killing or selling on that day. Both this and the previous Act of 1625 were originally passed only for a limited period, but by subsequent legislation they have become perpetual. Next in order is the most comprehensive Act on the subject, 29 Car. II. c. 7, "An Act for the better observance of the Lord’s day, commonly called Sunday." After an exhortation to the observation of the Lord’s day by exercises in the duties of piety and true religion, publicly and privately, the Act provides as follows:—Nor tradesman, artificer, workman, labourer, or other person whatsoever shall do or exercise any worldly labour, business, or work of their ordinary callings upon the Lord’s day or any part thereof (works of necessity and charity only excepted); and every person being of the age of fourteen years or upwards offending in the premises shall for every such offences forfeit the sum of 5s; and no person or persons whatsoever shall publicity cry, show forth, or expose to sale any wares, merchandise, fruit, herbs goods, or chattels whatsoever upon the Lord’s day or any part thereof upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit the same goods so cried, or showed forth, or exposed to sale (s. 1). No drover, horse-courser, waggoner, butcher, higgler, their or any of their servants, shall travel or came into his or their lodging upon the Lord’s day or any part thereof, upon pain that each and every such offender shall forteit 20s. for every such offence; and no person or persons shall use, employ, or travel upon the Lord’s day with any boat, wherry, lighter, or barge, except it be upon extraordinary occasions to be allowed by some justice of the peace, &c., upon pain that every person so offending shall forfeit and lose the sum of 5s. for every such. In defaut of distress or non-payment of forfeiture or penalty the offender may be set publicity in the stocks for two hours (s. 2). Nothing in the Act is to extend to the prohibiting of dressing of meat in families, or dressing or selling of meat in meats in inns, cooks’ shops, or victualling houses for such as cannot be otherwise provided, nor to the crying or selling of milk before nine in the morning or after four in the afternoon (s. 3). Prosecutions must be within ten days after the offence (s. 4). The hundred is not responsible for robbery of persons travelling upon the Lord’s day (s. 5). Service of process on Lord’s day is void; see above (s. 6). This Act has frequently received judicial construction. The use of the word "ordinary" in section 1 has to the establishment by a series of decisions of the principle that work done out of the course of the ordinary calling of the person doing it is not within the Act. Thus the sale of horse on Sunday by a horse-dealer would not be enforcible by him and he would be liable to the penalty, but these results would not follow in the case of a sale by a person not a horse-dealer. Certain acts were held to fall within the exception as to works of necessity and charity e.g., baking provisions for customers, running stage-coaches, hiring farm-labourers. The legislature also intervened to obviate some of the inconveniences caused by the Act. By 10 and 11 Will. III. c. 24 mackerel was allowed to be sold before and after service. By 11 and 12 Will. III. c 21 Will. III. c. 21 forty watermen were allowed to ply on the Thames on Sunday. By 9 Anne c. 23 licensed coachmen or chairmen to bake and sell bread at certain hours. There Acts are all repealed. Still law are 2 Geo. III. c. 15 s. 7, allowing fish carriages to travel on Sunday in London and Westminster; 7 and 8 Geo. IV. c. 75, repealing section 2 or the Act of Charles II. as far as regards Thames boatmen; and 6 and 7 Will. IV. c. 37, permitting bakers our of London to carry on their trade up to 1.30 P.M. The penalty of the stocks denounced by sect. 2 is practically obsolete (see STOCKS.) The prosecution of offences under the Acts of Charles II. is now subject to 34 and 35 Vict. c. 87 (an Act which was passed for a year, but has since been annually continued by the Expiring Laws Continuance Act of each session), by which no prosecution or proceeding for penalties under the Act can be instituted except with the consent in writing of the chief officer of a police district or the consent in writing of the chief officer of a police district or the consent of two justices or a stipendiary magistrate. This is surely a more reasonable means of providing against any hardship caused by the Act than the ex post facto power of remission of penalties incurred under 21 Geo. III. c. 49. Besides the general Act of Charles II., there are various Acts dealing with special trades; of these the Licensing Acts and the Factory and Workshop Act are the most important. By the Licensing Act. 1874, premises licensed for the sale of intoxicating liquors by retail are to be open on Sunday only at certain hours, varying according as the premises are situate in the metropolitan district, a town or populous place, or elsewhere. An exception is made in favour of a person lodging in the house or a bona fide traveller, who be served with refreshment during prohibited hours, unless in a house with a six-day license. Attempts have often been made, but hitherto without success, induce the legislature to adopt the principle of complete Sunday closing in England as a whole, or in particular countries. [656-1] In the sessions of 1886 a Bill For Sunday closing in Durham was passed by the Commons, but rejected by the Lords. The advocates of Sunday (Ireland) Act, 1878, prohibited the opening of licensed premises on Sunday, except in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, and Belfast. In these towns such premises may be opened from 2 P.M. to 7 P.M. Exemptions are also made in favour of lodgers and travellers, of packet-boats and railway stations. The Sunday Closing (Wales) Act, 1881, contains no exemption is the sale of intoxicating liquours at railway stations. The Factory and Workshop Act. 1878, forbids the employment of a child, young person or woman on Sunday in the factory or workshop. But a young person or woman of the Jewish religion may be employed on Sunday by a Jewish manufacturer, provided that the factory or workshop be not open for traffic on Sunday. There are a few other legislative provisions of less importance which may be noticed. Fishing for salmon on Sunday by any means other than a rod and line is an offence under the Salmon Fishery Act, 1861. By the same Act a free passage for the salmon through all cribs, &c., used for fishery is to be left during the whole of Sunday. Carrying on the business of a pawnbroker on Sunday is an offence within the Pawnbrokers Act, 1872. Distilling and rectifying spirits on Sunday is forbidden by the Spirits Act, 1880. The effect of Sunday upon bills of exchange is declared by the Bills of Exchange Act, 1882. A bill is not invalid by reason only of its bearing date of a Sunday (s. 13). Where the last day of grace falls on a Sunday, the bill is payable on the preceding business day (s. 14). Sunday is a "non-business day" for the purpose of the Act (s. 92). This review of Sunday legislation pretty shows that its tendency at present is opposed to extending facilities to trade on Sunday, but that as to recreation the tendency is rather in the other direction. [656-3]

Scotland.—The two earliest Acts dealing with Sunday are somewhat out of harmony with the general legislation on the subject. 1457, c. 6, ordered the practice of archery on Sunday; 1526, c. 3, allowed markets for the sale of flesh to be held on Sunday at Edinburgh. Then came a long series of Acts forbidding the profanation of the day, especially by salmon-fishing, holding fairs and markets, and working in mills and salt-pans. 1579, c. 70, and 1661, c. 18, prohibited all work and trading on the Sabbath. The later legislation introduced an exception in favour of duties of necessity and mercy, in accordance with ch. 21 of the Confession of Faith. In more modern times the exigencies of travelling have led to a still further extension of the exception. The Sabbath Observance Acts were frequently confirmed, the last time in 1696. These Acts were held by the High Court of Justiciary in 1870 to be still subsisting, as far as they declare the keeping open shop on Sunday to be an offence by the law of Scotland (Bute’s Case, 1 Couper’s Reports , 495). The forms of certificate in the schedule to the Public Houses Acts Amendment Act, 1862 (superseding those in the Forbes Mackenzie Act of 1853), provide for the closing on Sunday of public-houses and of premises licensed for the sale of excisable liquors, and of inns and hotels, except for the accommodation of lodgers and travellers. Scots law is stricter than English in the matter of Sunday fishing. By 55 Geo. III. c. 94 the setting or hauling of a herring-net on Sunday renders the net liable to forfeiture. By the Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act, 1862, fishing for salmon on Sunday, even with a rod and line, is an offence. As to contracts and legal process, the law is in general accordance with that of England. Contracts are not void, apart from statute, simply because they are made on Sunday. Diligence cannot be executed, but a warrant of imprisonment or meditatio fugae is exercisable. It should be noticed that, contrary to the English custom, the term "Sabbath" was generally used in the legislation of the Scottish parliament.

United States.—Some of the early colonial ordinances enforced the obligation of attendance at church, as in England. In most States there is legislation on the subject of Sunday, following, as a general rule, the lines of the English Act of Charles II. In Massachusetts travelling, except from necessity or charity, is punishable with a fine of ten dollars. Provision is sometimes made, as in the Massachusetts laws, the benefit of persons observing Saturday as the Sabbath, on condition that they disturb no other person. The number of Sunday trains is often limited by State legislation. In some of the New England States Sunday is from sunset to sunset. In most States, however, it is reckoned, as in England, from midnight. By the constitution of the United States, art. I. s. 7, Sundays are to be excluded from the ten days allowed the president to return a Bill. A similar provision is often contained in State constitutions as to the return of a Bill by the governor. The United States legislation on the subject of Sunday is not important. It directs that naval and military studies are not to be pursued, and that the day is not be reckoned in bankruptcy proceedings. (J. W†.)


Footnotes

653-1 The Teutonic and Scandinavian nations adopt the former designation (Sunday, Sonntag, Söndag, &c.), the Latin nations the latter (Dimanche, Domenica, Domingo, &c.).

653-2 From an expression in the Epistle of Barnabas (c.15), it would almost seem s if the ascension also was believed by some to have almost seem as if the ascension also was believed by some to have taken place on a Sunday.

654-1 In the Epistle of Barnabas already referred to (c. 15) it is called "the eighth day": "We keep the eight day with joyfulness, the day also in which Jesus rose again from the dead." Comp. Justin Martyr, Dial. c. Tryph., c. 138.

654-2 The longer recension runs: "But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner… And after the observance of the Sabbath let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s day as a festival the resurrection day, the queen and chief of all the days." The writer finds a reference to the Lord’s day in the titles to Pss. vi. and xii., which are "set to the eighth."

654-3 See Ignat., Ad Magn., ut supra, and Ep. of Barnabas (c. 15): "Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable unto me, but that which I have made when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day." So practically Tertullian (Resp. ad Jud., c. 4) and Clement of Alexandria. According to Augustine also (De Sp. et Lit., 14), the observance of the Sabbath is to be taken in a spiritual sense.

656-1The Act 1 James I. c. 9 (now repealed) appears, however, to have provided for closing ale-houses in most cases, except on usual working days.

656-2 See, in addition to the authorities cited, Lyndewode, Provincial Constitutions bk. ii. chap. iii.; Ayliffe, Parergon, p. 470; Gibson, Codex, tit, x. chap. i.; Heylin, History of the Sabbath, part ii.; the article "Lord’s Day" (by Bishop Barry) in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquities; and Hessey, Sunday, (Bampton Lectures, 1880) ; also Robet Cox’s works on the Sabbath.



The above article was written by: James Williams, D.C.L.; Fellow of Lincoln College, Oxford; Hon. LL.D., Yale; author of The Schoolmaster and the Law, Wills and Succession, The Institutes of Justinian, illustrated by English Law, and other works on legal questions; also of A Lawyer's Leisure, Ethandune, Simple Stories of London, in verse.



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This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries