« PoprzedniaDalej »
does not acknowledge the existence of an INTELLIGENT First Cause; and, in the "Creeds and Duties of the System," the second paragraph is thus expressed-"That all ceremonial worship by man of this cause (nature), whose qualities are yet so little known, proceeds from ignorance of his own nature, and can be of no real utility in practice; and that it is impossible to train men to become rational in their feelings, thoughts, or actions, until all such forms shall cease."*
But we shall expose (in the publication already referred to) the true reason of this claim of the Socialists to be considered a religious body.
The following extract from Mr. Noel's Lecture will be read with interest by those who have not seen the Lecture, and is worthy of a second perusal by those who have seen it. Referring to Christianity as being more calculated to bless the world than any other system of religion, he remarks:
"1. By the force of the most cogent motives, by the attraction of the most perfect example, by the authority of an Almighty lawgiver, it compels men to cultivate every virtue, and to repress every vice. It throws a penetrating light over the whole character and conduct, and allows no indulgence to one discovered fault. Till a Christian becomes as sinless as the Saviour whom he trusts, as holy as the God whom he adores, he must not cease to aim at self-improvement. Each opposite virtue must have in his character its appointed place. He is called to be humble without meanness, to be firm without obstinacy, to be generous without prodigality, and to be courageous without presumption. Inaccessible to fear in the defence of truth or in the protection of the injured, he must exhibit in the endurance of insult the meekness of the lamb, and in the resistance to injury the gentleness of the dove. Incapable of swerving from the line of duty, though every bribe should allure, or every torture threaten, he is required to be charitable and patient to those who fall into sin. No inferiority must awaken his contempt, no perverseness exhaust his patience. Inflexibly just, and unalterably benevolent, he must live to promote the welfare of his fellow-creatures no less than to regard their rights. Others may indulge their sensual appetites; but he is bound to universal temperance. The lord of the living frame to which his soul is attached, he uses its powers to obey the fixed decisions of his will. Others may spend their lives in amassing wealth; his care must be how he may spend whatever he now possesses, or may hereafter acquire, so as to do with it the greatest amount of good. Without Christianity he would be selfish; it has made him disinterested. In the absence of its motives he would live wholly for the interests and pleasures of time; but through its influence he makes every earthly interest subordinate to those of eternity.
Outline of the "Rational System," p. 8.
"2. A character like this in the members of a family must secure their happiness. If ever you would find on earth a steady, self-denying, and unalterable love; if you would see the domestic affections exalted to their noblest exercise, and glowing in their greatest intensity; if you would witness the highest, purest, and most lasting domestic happiness; if in this world's waste you would find one enclosed garden in which some of the flowers of Eden still bloom; if you would discover one spot where the spirit may repose, and forget that the earth is cursed; you must look for all this, in that Christian family whose members are governed by the principles of the Gospel, and copy the example of Christ.
"3. When such families multiply in a nation, they are its health and its safeguard; and like the lungs of the great body of society, they give the blood which circulates through the mass its health and vigour. Opinions and public morals take their tone from them. They are the light of the world, and its salt. By them opinions are enlightened, and manners purified. And did the principles which govern them prevail, it is almost impossible to calculate the blessings which would follow. Those principles are benevolence and justice towards men, founded on love to God. Now, imagine that these two principles exercised an absolute dominion over the hearts of men in general. At once government would be cheap, and legislation beneficent; a standing army to secure internal quiet would be unnecessary, and a police superfluous. Penitentiaries and gaols would be turned into halls of science; while churches, schools, and libraries, would take the place of gin-shops and gambling-houses. We should require no parochial asylums, for the sick and the aged would never want friends to aid them. Discussions and differences of opinion would continue, but factions would cease. High principle and keen intelligence pervading the people, would give effect to every good law, and render bad ones impossible; and political power might descend safely to the humblest classes, because political virtue and political intelligence would be the lot of all. No selfishness would lead the rich to dread the progress of knowledge among the poor; no jealousy would make the poor attempt a violation of the rights of property, or wish even to lessen the comforts of the rich. Such a nation would reach the utmost possible limits of knowledge and liberty, of refinement and wealth, of industry and talent, of peace and happiness. Temperance, economy, industry, and moderation, would chase away by far the greatest part of the pauperism, disease, and crime, which now afflict us; and a wide-spread, perpetual, and ardent charity would almost extinguish all the rest. It almost oppresses the heart to think what the world might be, if men in loving God had learned to love each other; and what they are in ungodliness and mutual hatred."
Mr. Taylor's admirable Lecture on Man's Responsibility is
already in the possession of some of our readers, yet we should like, would our limits permit, to make some copious extracts from it. The following extract, bearing as it does upon the state of our population, is peculiarly appropriate to the pages of our magazine, and with it we shall close our present reference to the Lectures:
"But an anxiety of a very different sort attaches, at this moment, to the condition, and probable destiny of the untaught millions who crowd the homes of civilization. Dense masses of what is little better than savage life, marked by its characteristic wretchedness, improvidence, ignorance, sensuality, and ferocity, are stowed, to suffocation, within all the great cities of Europeand especially the commercial and manufacturing towns of Great Britain.
"Civilization has several times been overthrown by a hurricane of barbarism, coming down upon it from a distance; but it is now everywhere put in peril by the same rude elements, bursting up from caverns under our feet. Heretofore savage life has come in upon civilized life, armed only with brute strength; but if now it commands less hardihood and nerve, the deficiency is more than made up by the frenzy of false doctrine. The domestic millions who, at this time, menace liberty, property, life, together with the arts, commerce, philosophy, religion, and who must plunge themselves into deeper misery in effecting the desolation of societythese, barely hearing the voice of truth, or only catching it as a remote and confused sound of many discordant tongues, are giving the ear, in gloomy thoughtfulness, to the wildest absurditiesabsurdities so gross as to be almost secure from refutation by setting common sense at defiance.
"Meantime, inasmuch as it is an hour of infatuation-an hour of want of counsel-want of union-want of principle, those who should see the peculiar peril of the moment, and know how to meet it, are allowing it to be inferred, by the mass of the people, that, in theory they themselves are one with them.-Some, cutting the roots of all serious regard to truth, as what every man is bound to look to, by declaring that belief, religious belief, is a matter of chance or destiny, an accident of the mind, as colour is of the body. Others (alas that newspapers are listened to by millions, sermons only by hundreds) others, high in station, are professing before the world that they have themselves no fixed notions of responsibility -metaphysical enigma as it is !-Not understand responsibility? not know so plain a thing as this, that if a man receives the cloak of another in charge, he may reasonably be required to restore it? not understand that, if a man accept the hospitalities of a friend, it is a detestable baseness to abuse his confidence, and desolate his home? not understand that, if a man be intrusted with the welfare of an empire, he may look to a time when he shall be called to give
an account of his stewardship? not understand Responsibility? not know that God will hereafter judge men in righteousness, rendering to all according to their works?
"Grant it, there are mysteries in religion; but, at least, these things are no mysteries. Grant it, there are depths in abstract philosophy; but these things come not within the province of abstract philosophy. If indeed these things be obscure, reason totters, and we must no longer trust either its plainest deductions, or the evidence of the senses.
"Thus it happened fifty years ago, when the social body was about to break up, and its elements to putrefy, in France. Philosophers had made themselves the apostles, and statesmen the smiling patrons, of the doctrine which, at length, spoke its meaning in the guillotine. Truth had been mocked at as a phantom; all obligations had been scouted; the moral system had been proclaimed null, and men were told that they were the creatures of 'physical necessity,' and that responsibility is a fable; or at best an unsearchable mystery-a something which cannot be understood;' these things having first been said by men of high culture-half in jest, were caught at by ferocious seducers, and repeated and expounded, with grim explicitness, in the lanes and alleys of every town:-and then the work was ready :-the clusters of the earth were fully ripe, and the wine-press was trodden until there flowed from it a broad river of human blood.
"These things are yet fresh in our recollection: they were not witnessed by our fathers, but by ourselves; yet we seem to have forgotten so soon the lesson they teach. The miasma that is rising in visible fumes from the unwholesome levels around us, has crept into palace windows, and works as a stupor upon men's minds, so that the most palpable dangers are idly gazed at, or are even jested with.
"The invention of gunpowder, it has been said, effectually secures the civilized world against any second overthrow by barbaric hordes :-vain confidence! vain at least, if the time should come when the barbaric host shall start up, in a day, knife in hand, from our domestic soil. Goths, and Huns, and Vandals, if they were terrible by their superstitions, were also held in check by them:the moral element was some way conserved in their bosoms: and they soon yielded themselves, conquered by the milder creed of their victims.
"But more terrible evils are to be looked for when, the conscience having been cut clean out of the bosom by the traitorous hand of the sophist, millions, maddened by cruel privations, are told, even by their superiors, that force is the only reason. Brutalized, even
more in creed than in habits, they will not be found to have lost any of those terrible energies which belong to man, as a moral agent; and, if lost to virtue, they are not lost to the powers which virtue should have commanded: if severed from the restraints of
religion, it is only that they may surrender themselves the more fully to the frenzy of fanaticism; and if the fanaticism of religion have devastated kingdoms, the fanaticism of irreligion will pass as a deluge of blood over the field of the civilized world :—which may God in his mercy avert !"
REPORT OF THE EAST-ROAD DISTRICT, READ AT THE. WESLEYAN CHAPEL, CITY-ROAD, MARCH, 1840.
THE neighbourhood in which we are convened is interesting to the friends of Missions, and to all pious people. One of the most eminent of modern missionaries laboured within these walls, and, in connexion with his no less eminent coadjutor, proclaimed the Gospel near this spot, in all its fulness and freeness, to a generation now nearly gathered to their fathers. All the religious movements of modern times-all Home and Foreign Missions, originated more or less directly or indirectly, under God, in the labours of Wesley and Whitfield. But we have other associations with this locality which are profitable, and inciting to the Christian. The places, not of the mighty or noble dead, but the places of the pious dead, are near us; and from their graves which are visible, and their thrones which are invisible, they are saying, Work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work.
The East-road district, in connexion with the London City Mission, on which your missionary is labouring, is bounded on the north by the City-gardens, opposite the Sturt's Arms; east and west by the East-road and Britannia-street; and on the south, by the City-road. It is a large field of labour; the whole of the locality containing about 850 houses, and from two to five or six families in each house.
The district has been remarkable for the profligacy and gross X immorality of some of its inhabitants, as well as for their extreme ignorance. A change, in many respects for the better, is visible, and in not a few instances the most happy results have followed the labours of your missionary. A large number of families even now never enter a place of worship. The number was much larger. Of those families which did not formerly attend any place of worship, one has, through the labours of your missionary, attended and become communicants at the Rev. W. Hazlegrave's. Another has joined the Wesleyans, and another has attended at Hoxton Chapel, and the husband is now a member of the church assembling there: and several other families are now attending at other churches or chapels in the neighbourhood, and your missionary rejoices that he can conscientiously recommend inquirers to St. Peter's, St. Luke's, and St, Barnabas, with equal pleasure