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CHARLES WILLIAMS, D.D.,
PRINCIPAL OF JESUS COLLEGE, OXFORD,
HON. CANON OF BANGOR,
AND PROCTOR IN CONVOCATION,
WITH THE PREACHER'S SINCERE REGARDS.
“I direct and appoint, that a Lecturer be yearly chosen by “the Heads of Colleges only, and by no others, to preach eight Divinity Lecture Sermons, upon either of the following Sub"jects—to confirm and establish the Christian Faith, and to “confute all heretics and schismatics--upon the divine authority “of the holy Scriptures-upon the authority of the writings of “the primitive Fathers, as to the faith and practice of the “primitive Church-upon the Divinity of our Lord and Saviour “Jesus Christ-upon the Divinity of the Holy Ghost-upon “the Articles of the Christian Faith, as comprehended in the “Apostles' and Nicene Creeds," &c.
PREFACE TO THE FIFTH EDITION.
A PERIOD of nine years has elapsed since the publication in 1880 of the Fourth Edition of these Lectures. That edition has long been out of print, and a new issue of the work seems to be required. The interval has not been marked by much legislation upon the subject of Sunday. Well meant attempts, indeed, have been made to limit, further than at present, the sale of alcoholic drinks on that day, and so, if it might be, to diminish the temptations of those, who in their only leisure time, are especially prone to dishonour it by intemperance. But two obstacles have usually presented themselves of late as heretofore. (1) The cry that, enactments of this description interfere with the liberty of one class only, the poor, whilst the well-to-do, and much more, the rich, are unaffected by them. (2) The allegation that, it is unjust to abridge the comforts of the temperate many, for the sake of the comparatively few who will not enjoy such comforts in moderation. These considerations have prevailed against the passing of Bills to effect the total closing of public houses on Sunday, in Cornwall and in Durham. One Bill alone has become law, “The Sunday Closing (Wales) Act, 1881,” (44 & 45 Victoria, c. 61.) which applies to the whole Principality of Wales. Its chief provision is that “All premises in which intoxicating liquors are sold or exposed for sale, by retail, shall be closed during the whole of Sunday,” with the qualification that, "nothing in the Act shall preclude the sale at any time at a railway station of such liquors to persons arriving at or departing from such station by railway." As to the working of this, a quotation from the Times newspaper of March 7th, 1889, affords some information. It is as follows :
“ The Western Mail of Cardiff having published a series of articles, in answer to a challenge by Lord Aberdare, who took up the measure when it came from the Commons to the Lords, as to the working of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, showing that since the passing of the Act Sunday drunkenness had not only largely increased but had led to the establishment of a large number of bogus clubs and shebeens, Lord Aberdare has written the following letter :
'I am bound to admit that you have made out your case both as to the increase of Sunday drinking over large, populous, and fairly representative districts, and have demonstrated the moral mischief resulting from the imposition of restrictions which, if not absolutely incapable of enforcement, have certainly not been enforced, but have encouraged a defiance of the law and surreptitious doings which could not fail to lower the morality of the population. The effect, in fine, on my mind is such that, were a bill introduced into Parliament for the repeal of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, I could not, unless evidence were produced of better effects produced by a better administration of the law, vote against it. I should be obliged sorrowfully to admit that the Act, called for with such apparent unanimity, and inspiring so much honest hope of improvement, had failed in its object, and had done and was doing more harm than good.'”
Of course, as is the case continually, the accuracy of this in its way.
account has been questioned, and will be publicly enquired into. But, whatever may be thought or said of its contents, it is an admission, after trial, that direct prohibition as an instrument towards the promotion of moral and religious habits, is one which requires, to say the least, very cautious application. An able newspaper, the St. James's Gazette, of March 19, 1889, has called the circumstances “The complete breakdown of the Act enacted to make Welshmen sober one day in the week.” The expression is, perhaps, rather a sarcastic one, but it contains a real reason for the alleged failure. The object desired by the Act was the promotion of the better observance of Sunday by removing opportunities to pass it badly. This was very well
But the effort was one which could scarcely succeed alone. Its promoters forgot that, as are the six week-days so will be the Sundays. And that, unless patient education of the people towards temperance and care of their souls and bodies has been going on throughout the week, an isolated and occasional interference with their freedom, instead of conciliating obedience and compliance rather provokes resentment, and sets persons upon devising means whereby its constraint may be defied or evaded.
The practical inferences would seem to be (1) That efforts to render persons moral and well-behaved in this way, should hardly be made wholesale, that is, for a Province or even a large Town, unless they have been preceded and indeed are accompanied by vigorous and united endeavours to humanise the tastes and raise the tone of those who are the objects of such efforts. (2) That these endeavours must be going on throughout the week, as well as on Sunday. When a want is felt, no matter whether it is an artificial or a natural one, and when