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Mark Hopkins and the pew: Into the woods …

This article by John Fea reports an interesting side of this remarkable Williams president just studied in our Winter Break.

For us older boys, required chapel was a part of our life and the no-cuts system (if you were on no-cuts). Attendance was taken, any place of religious worship was accepted. Not too long before the easy-going of the ’50’s, daily attendance was the mode.

I recognize that Hopkins’ influence on the life of the college has diminished in daily detail in the decades since his presidency. Still, I wonder if readers can see any remnants of the particular belief in the ethos of Williams today?

At the Sixth General Conference of the Evangelical Alliance, which brought evangelical Christians from all over the world to New York City in on October 2,1873, … Reverend Mark Hopkins, the former president of Williams College, urged the federal government to pass laws protecting the observance of the Christian Sabbath (Sunday). Hopkins argued that the Fourth Commandment (“Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy”) should be embedded in American law in much the same way that commandments prohibiting murder, stealing, and “bearing false witness” were staples of the legal system.

If that was not enough to convince naysayers, Hopkins emphasized Jesus’ words in Mark 2:27—”The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath”—to argue that the human body was created by God in such a way that it required a day of rest. “Men and animals,” Hopkins wrote, “will have a better health and live longer; will do more work, and do it better, if they rest one day in seven, than if they work continuously.” Since rest was a human right endowed by God, how could a nation with Christian roots not endorse the Sabbath?

This seemed particularly apt for this Sunday morning. While no sermon will be given on the blog, attendance will be taken! dcat … this means you!

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