On the evening of the eighth of December, the League of Men’s Societies held its second meeting of the season. This meeting was held at Hudsonville in Rev. J. De Jong’s church. The attendance was good, and as the acting vice-president said, “‘t Valt me mee.” He had not expected so many present in Hudsonville. Unfortunately, there was a program given by the Roosevelt Park Choral Society on the same evening. It was not unfortunate that Roosevelt Park Choral Society gave a program of course, but it was unfortunate that it fell on the same date. A program of a choral society has a very strong appeal, and is a worthy competitor of a League membership meeting for attendance. The result of two programs on the same evening is divided attendance. I wonder if something could not be done to avoid this. Couldn’t for example, a date committee be appointed whose duty it would be to see to it that there would be no conflicts in dates of programs? Different societies could then confer with this committee in setting dates for programs. This is only a suggestion. But, I am missing my purpose. I was to write a report on our Hudsonville League meeting.
The evening was calm, and although the sky was overcast, there was no precipitation of any kind, and it was not cold. This was the weather on our trip to Hudsonville. Coming back we had some rain. When we arrived at Hudsonville there was already a goodly number present at the church. The speaker for the evening, Rev. G. M. Ophoff soon after arrived, and also the vice president for the evening. The president, Mr. A. C. Boerkoel could not be present that evening because of an important appointment. This was the first time he had been absent from any of our meetings.
The meeting was begun by singing number 223 of the Psalter, which speaks of perversion of justice by wicked rulers. After this the president read Rom. 13, which treats of the God-given authority of rulers. He then offered a word of prayer.
A word of welcome was spoken, and some opening remarks were made by the president who then gave the floor to the speaker.
The Rev. Ophoff began his speech by stating his intention of adhering to the instructions given him by the secretary in his letter of invitation to him. He placed this construction upon the letter from the secretary, that he should lead into, but not out of the subject; that his speech should be thought-provoking, but not thought-determining; that he should ask questions but not answer them. Evidently the secretary had not intended such an interpretation of his invitation to the Reverend to speak for the League, and it was the first time such an interpretation was given to any invitation he has given. Nevertheless, the secretary will do well to be more careful with the wording of his future invitations. The subject of the evening was, “What is the Obligation of a Magistrate in Regard to the First Table of the Law?” This subject was suggested by the former League speech delivered by Rev. R. Veldman, which speech was published in the Standard Bearer, “Our Christian Duty in Civic Affairs.”
In his speech the speaker defended the proposition that the magistrate must enforce the first table of the law as well as the second. This is his God-given duty, and he cannot escape it. Various objections were raised but not removed, and questions were asked for the meeting to answer. The speaker made it plain however, what his position was on the issue. He explained the state was an expansion of the family. It unquestionably was the duty of the head of the family to enforce the first as well as the second table of the law, and that it therefore was the duty of the magistrate to do the same thing. The questions were raised whether it would be practically possible for a magistrate to enforce the first table of the law, whether it would not result in persecution, and whether it would not destroy religious freedom.
As the speech was to be published in the Standard Bearer I will refrain from going into details, but will instead say a few things about the discussion.
As usual we had our recess after the speech during which time we had our refreshments which were supplied by the Hudsonville Society, and, of course, the brethren enjoyed their smokes and chats.
After recess we sang Psalter No. 187 during which a collection was taken to defray expenses. Now the discussion began. The speaker, so it developed, made one bad guess. He thought he was through when he had finished his speech, and that he could ask questions and have the audience answer them. The questions which he asked came right back to him, and he was asked to answer them. He remarked that he thought this was supposed to be a period of discussion. However, he willingly obliged and answered the questions put to him. One member put a question to him, and the Rev. proceeded to answer. When he was through the questioner said the Rev. had not understood his question. Answered he, “That’s nothing. What I said was all right, anyway.” (Laughter). During the course of the discussion it became plain that there were questions that are not easy to answer in regard to the duty of a magistrate with relation to the first table of the law. E.g. Suppose a magistrate were a seventh day Adventist, and proceeded to enforce the fourth commandment according to his religious beliefs. He would compel cessation of all manual labor on Saturday, and punish those who did not observe the seventh day as Sabbath. Sunday would be an ordinary work day to him, and he would not prosecute anyone who would work on that day, and refuse to worship God. The result would be religious persecution, and the loss of the freedom of religion. The magistrate would also have to pass on matters of doctrine which the church only may do. In short, for a magistrate to maintain the first table of the law as we should like to have him do it as Protestant Reformed people he would have to be Protestant Reformed.
I shall let the reader judge from Rev. Ophoff’s speech whether there are not some real questions on this issue. We hope to see some articles on this question in the S.B.
As our time was up we sang Psalm 25:1 and Rev. H. De Wolf of Hope, closed the meeting with thanksgiving.