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בס"ד

Sunday Laws In Ohio.

(Concluded from page 168,)

The constitutional provision cited, is contained in Article 8, section 3. It guarantees all modes and forms of worship, and expressly declares “that no human authority can, in any case whatsoever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience,” &c. We claim that to this provision the Legislature, by its enactment, has given a clear and positive construction. It is contended on the other hand, that the city council of Cincinnati, having full power to do so, have affixed a different construction; and that it is justifiable upon the ground, that the requirement upon the Israelite to observe the first day of the week, is no violation of his conscience; because it does not forbid him to observe the seventh, according to the teachings of his own faith. True it is that the Jew is not prohibited from the observance of his Sabbath;—but enforce this enactment, upon the reasoning advanced, and he will be forced to observe a day, which he conscientiously believes is not the Sabbath, and which he is actually forbidden to regard as such. He takes as his guide, in its literal meaning, the law as it was delivered by Jehovah Himself, “Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work, but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” The command is not more imperative to observe the one, than is the permission absolute to enjoy the remaining days of the week. The first of these it is admitted cannot be prohibited, but the latter it is asserted may be restrained. And upon what principle? Because such restriction will not violate his conscience, and will work but a slight inconvenience, in depriving him of one-sixth of the time which he is entitled to devote to worldly concerns. We have before said, that it does violate his conscience, by requiring him to observe a day which he does not regard as the Sabbath. But even if it were otherwise, by what right do you take from him one day out of six, which he believes he is authorized to devote to labour? The answer is given by counsel, because a large majority of the community hold opinions, upon the identity of the Sabbath, adversely to that of the Jewish sect. The reply is ready, and is unanswerable. The Bill of Rights is the bulwark of minorities. Majorities need no such protection. Their tendency is aggression;—and their numerical strength, the weapon of aggression, is the very thing against which the Bill of Rights is thrown up as a barrier. With  this guarantee of the organic law on our side, are we, then, a minority? Nay, although this defendant stood alone; one man, among the one hundred thousand of the city and its environs, with this guarantee to lay hold upon, is the majority; since that which he bears in his hand assures to him the whole power of the State for his individual protection.

But the work is only begun when men are compelled by ordinance of the city council, to refrain from business or pleasure upon Sunday, without regard to their conscientious convictions.

It will be thought necessary to go further,—to provide for other religious observances,—to enact how the Sabbath shall be observed,—to compel attendance upon “Divine worship,” and point out by law what form of worship, and impose penalties for non-compliance. And when the mild and merciful sanctions of fine and imprisonment in the county jail, for delinquent poverty (See Ord. 2d vol. p. 37,) will no longer suffice, more enlarged powers must be called into play; more terrible sanctions denounced. The scourge—the thumb-screw—the rack—the faggot, and the scaffold must be invoked; we must go back upon the dial-plate of time; re-enact the blue-laws of Connecticut, and superadd the sanctions of the Inquisition, and the fires of Smithfield! Let this not be scouted as mere rhapsody. We are not a whit better than the pilgrims of the Mayflower; and yet the men who dared the dangers of the ocean and the wilderness, to find freedom of worship upon the Rock of Plymouth, these men were they who forgot the “Golden Rule” in their zeal to do God service, and visited upon the peaceful sect of  Quakers more terrible enormities than those of which themselves had been made the victims.

In concluding this argument we have only to observe, that we have no desire to weaken the force, or avert the application of existing laws, for the observance of that day which is designated as the Christian Sabbath. But as we who observe that day have rights, which we dearly cherish, so should we, as we value them, regard the rights of others. The difference among men, upon points such as these, will never be lessened by persecution; whilst every attempt to restrain a minority, however small, in the exercise of those great privileges which have been guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the State, only serves to weaken the bonds of government, by diminishing the confidence of the people in its integrity.

Brough and Zinn,
Att’ys for Def’t.

Note.—The above argument in the case decided some time since in favour of the liberty of conscience, we give now at length, as a matter of record; and we would thank our friends in Ohio to send us the opinion of the Court for a similar object, if it can be obtained.—Ed. Oc.