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Delivered at a Meeting of the Brighton District Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes, held at the Pavilion, Brighton, November 25, 1852.
THE Rev. F. W. ROBERTSON moved,-" That this meeting hears with satisfaction the success which has attended the establishment of the Brighton Branch of the Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes, and is of opinion that the extension of the undertaking will be the means of conferring more extensively essential benefit on the social and moral condition of the working classes of the town of Brighton; and that such extension will be more effectually promoted by obtaining an increase in the number of shares, which it pledges itself to use its best exertions to effect."
It is to one sentence, alone, of this resolution that I shall direct a few observations: that in which we say that "this will be the means of
conferring more extensively essential benefit on the social and moral condition of the working classes of the town of Brighton." The great object for which institutions, such as this, are established, is to procure for the working classes a "Home." To explain the meaning of this word is unnecessary; before an English audience it is superfluous. There is not one present to-day who has not been, even from childhood, familiar with all those sacred associations which God has thrown in such profusion around the precincts of Home; but to the great majority of the poor in this country, there is no such thing as Home. We dare not, cannot say, that those two small rooms in which a whole family are huddled up together; those two rooms which serve for kitchen, sleeping-room, parlour, and for every thing; in which there are no conveniences and no comforts, and in which, when a man or a child may be dying, he would be disturbed by the necessary noise and bustle of the family,-we dare not, except in mockery, call that, in a Christian land, "Home."
Yet we too often ignore this condition of the poor man's dwelling, and hence arise many practical fallacies. I will mention but one: the mistake with respect to the possibility of the poor man spending the Lord's-day as he should. This
subject has occupied much attention in this country. There has been a project recently set on foot by a large number of philanthropists, and a large number of speculators, in different parts of the country, to establish edifices or buildings in which the poor shall have recreation, pleasure, and instruction; and some of these, one especially, the importance of which overrides all the others, it has been proposed to open on the Lord's-day, and that too with the sanction of the Government. This has been met by a very large proportion of the religious inhabitants of this country with great dismay and indignation. It has appeared to them that this is a desecration of the Lord's-day, a breaking of the covenant between God and his people. They have drawn most touching pictures of the poor man spending his Sabbath evenings surrounded by his family, and with thẻ Bible open before him. before him. I am not about to pronounce any opinion with respect to the view entertained among religious people on this subject. There are two views entertained on this question, and both these ought, in all Christian consistency, to be allowed to those who hold them. Some believe that the Sabbath, the Jewish Sabbath, if not in its integrity and strictness, at all events with a certain degree of modified strictness, accordant with the superior genius of Christianity, should
Some, on the other hand, believe that the Jewish Sabbath is altogether abrogated; that the Lord's-day is not the same thing; that it did not arise out of it, nor was it a transfer of one day to another, but that what has succeeded the Jewish Sabbath is not what we call the Lord'sday; that it is not one day alone that the Christian is to observe, but a grander, larger, more spiritual day, the day of the whole life, the sanctification of the whole life of man, to be yielded to God, as purchased by Christ. With respect to the truth of these two conflicting opinions, we have nothing, at present, to do. All we have to consider is, how far we can with any consistency agree upon this point. We are all agreed on this, that the most blessed institution which has descended to us from our forefathers is the Christian Lord's-day. All, I believe, are agreed in this: that it is deeply rooted as an institution in the necessities of our human nature; and that to give up the Lord's-day, merely to the physical or intellectual needs of man will be utterly insufficient, and that the higher and truer half of man, that which makes him a spiritual creature, being uncared for, the Sabbath will be but a very imperfect day of rest. We are all agreed also, in an earnest resolve to set our faces against those views, now so common, which identify the Christianizing of the
population with the humanizing of the population. We believe that to humanize is one thing; that to Christianize is another thing. We believe that pictures, statues, music, æsthetics, tropical plants, and all the other contents and adjuncts of these places, valuable as they are in humanizing, are utterly insufficient to produce the Christianity of the Cross. We are all agreed in believing that there is a distinction between æsthetics and religious worship, between the worship of the Beautiful and the worship of Holiness. We are, therefore, all agreed in an earnest desire that, among all classes of the country, there should be a more religious, pure, and holy observance of the Lord'sday. But now, let me ask the question, With what consistency can we demand of the poor man that he shall have no recreation of an out-doors kind, if we have done nothing to provide for him a home within doors, wherein to spend the Christian Sabbath?
It was only yesterday that I conversed with an intelligent working man in this town, and the man expressed in very striking language the bitter indignation which was felt by his class towards those who were, as he said, in a bigoted way endeavouring to rob them of their Sabbath. I trust that I convinced him, I tried at all events with all my heart to convince him, that it was not