The Puritans and the Sabbath - "The Book of Sports"

In studying for future articles on convictions, I came across this paper (very good). The point of this paper is to explore the tension between the individual's liberty of conscience and the authority of the church and its leaders.


The Puritans spoke of liberty of conscience because they wanted to obey God’s Word, not have men diminish or change its teaching. The liberty they fought for was not liberty to disobey, but freedom to obey. It was freedom to teach the truth and oppose falsehood. For example, when King James I, as the head of the Church of England, demanded that churches read to their congregations “The Book of Sports,” which declared people free to participate in lawful recreations on the Lord’s Day, the Westminster divine Simeon Ashe refused to read it to his congregation.41 

41 James Reid, Memoirs of the Westminster Divines (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1982), 115. It should be noted that many other Puritans also refused to read “The Book of Sports” to their congregations. For more information on the Book of Sports controversy of 1617-18 and other issues regarding the Sabbath, see Kenneth Parker, The English Sabbath: A Study of Doctrine and Discipline from the Reformation to the Civil War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

Another line of objection would be that a King has no place telling a local pastor what to teach. But that wasn't described here as the reason for objection.

Instead, Ashe's refusal to read the King's edict was done to "teach the truth and oppose falsehood."

Here's a link to "The Book of Sports." Reminds me of the Chariots of Fire movie.


What do you think?

There is nothing wrong with sports on Sunday.
25% (1 vote)
It is wrong to engage in sports activity on Sunday.
0% (0 votes)
If Pastor Ashe believed that allowing sports on Sunday is falsehood, then he's wrong.
25% (1 vote)
Pastor Ashe was within his rights to teach his church members not to do sports on Sunday, even though it isn't wrong "of itself.
50% (2 votes)
Total votes: 4
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There are 2 Comments

Dan Miller's picture

Sorry the poll doesn't allow multiple choices. Of the 4, just pick the one you would most want to say about the issue, even if you agree with more than one.