To the Friends of Civil and Religious Liberty. the right of every man to worship God according to the3 dictates of his own conscience is inherent, inalienable, selfevident. Yet it is notorious that, in all the States, excepting Louisiana,4 there are laws enforcing the religious observance of the first day of the week as the Sabbath, and punishing as criminals such as attempt to pursue their usual avocations on that day,—avocations which even Sabbatarians recognize as innocent and laudable on all other days. It is true, some exceptions are made to the rigorous operation of these laws, in favor of the Seventh-Day Baptists, Jews, and others who keep the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath; but this freedom is granted in condescension to the scruples of particular sects, as a privilege, and not recognized as a natural right. For those (and the number is large, and steadily increasing) who believe that the Sabbath was exclusively a Jewish institution,—‘a shadow of good things to come,’ which vanished eighteen hundred years ago before the light of the Christian dispensation, and therefore that it constitutes no part of Christianity,—there is no exemption from the penalty of the law; but, should they venture to labor even for bread on that day, or be guilty of what is called ‘Sabbath desecration,’ they are liable either to fine or imprisonment! Cases of this kind have occurred in Massachusetts, Vermont, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, within a comparatively short period, where conscientious and upright persons have been thrust into prison for an act no more intrinsically heinous than that of gathering in a crop of
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