Further, the law of God regarding the true sanctification of religious days singularly consecrated to God will have to be restored (Ex. 31:12-17; 35:2-3; Num. 15:32-36) that no one do unnecessary corporal works with impunity on such days, even if they are per se useful, much less be absent from the sacred gatherings and do works of the flesh, such as making shameful gains, disturbing the religious spirit of brethren by demanding repayment of debts, and forcing the pursuit of secular business; likewise, the surrender of oneself to dissolute games, intemperate dining, and other vicious pleasures. Decent recreation must indeed be conceded to the people at the proper times, but since God has so severely prohibited useful corporal works on days sanctified to his name, how much the more gravely is he offended when those days are profaned by sporting and works for the most part harmful?
Six days shalt thou labor, he says, namely, do what is helpful for conserving and even gratifying this present life; “the seventh is the rest of the Lord, on that day thou shalt do no work at all” (Ex. 20:9-10), clearly nothing which the Lord himself has not prescribed to be done on that day; but the things which he has commanded are all the highest acts of religion on holy days. The Lord has prescribed that his people assemble in his name on these days in order to hear his word, pour forth prayers to him, give thanks for benefits received, share in his sacraments, make holy offerings, and so establish all piety (Isa. 58:13; 66:23; Jer. 17:21; Acts 13:14-15).
Your Majesty will therefore give it some thought that no legislator can equal God in wisdom or goodness with respect to laws; nor can anyone have greater clemency toward delinquents, which is indeed a true and salutary clemency. But God has so sanctified the religion of holy days that he has ordered anyone who has violated his Sabbaths to be stoned by the whole people, that the people as a whole might exculpate themselves of such a crime and individually vindicate such an insult to God (Num. 15:32-36). For since we have received all that we are and have, indeed, the gift of life from the gratuitous goodness of God and receive all this every day, is it not also right and fitting for us to assemble daily to thank him and establish religion among us, both by worship of him through the word and sacraments which he has instituted for us and by holy prayers which he assiduously requires of us? How shocking, therefore, is that impiety and contempt of the Divine Majesty, not even to give oneself over on one day of the week to these acts of our salvation.
We all have such a weak and fluctuating faith that its assiduous confirmation and restoration are completely necessary for us. Who can sufficiently explain in words what a great wickedness it is, what a great crime, to spend so many days at our own work, namely, the affairs of this life, and this with the help and favor of the Lord, and to be unwilling to sanctify totally to him for the accomplishment of our own salvation such a few days that are dedicated to his name for the purpose of fostering and increasing piety among us, and furthermore, as almost everyone commonly does, to anger and offend God’s majesty on these days much more seriously than on other days.
It is, therefore, altogether pertinent to Your Majesty, over against this great offense against God and such unbridled profana tion of holy days, to restore the authority of divine law and also to follow the example of pious princes whose laws we know concerning this very matter, as I have previously advised.15 These allowed neither theatrical plays on these days, nor races, nor tragic spectacles of wild animals, and they thought remission to military service and proscription of inheritance a fit punishment for those who attended spectacles on a feast day or contaminated themselves with obscene pleasures.
For unless men are influenced by daily teaching of the word of God and holy exhortations as well as by royal authority, so that they again become accustomed to sanctify periods of time wholly consecrated to religious services and the worship of God by these very actions (and this with greater care and solicitude than they give to any days appointed for public or private interests and the satisfactions of men inasmuch as God is greater than any man), the Kingdom of Christ can never be truly restored among men of this Kind.
We see, however, how much concern the average man has and how much careful preparation he expends for the fullest observance of feast days appointed only for the pleasure of the people by princes, governments, or groups, and how securely he avoids all other affairs, however useful and urgent, on these days. Indeed, as to family weddings, other feasts with friends, and gatherings for recreation, how diligently do men then prepare for their own purpose and pleasure as they invite others to their weddings, feasts, and gatherings, banishing all other cares and concerns from their Minds.
How great a contempt of God is committed by men in this, when they neglect the correct observance of days set aside by our God for the establishment and accomplishment of our eternal salvation. It is the business, therefore, of those whom God has put in charge of his people as shepherds with supreme authority, kings and princes, with all their might to confront this evil with holy laws and just provisions against the transgressors of these laws.