« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
be ranked in that large category of human knowledge which Lord Bacon, adopting the declaration of St. Paul, has so aptly denounced as weak and false knowledge,—knowledge which bloweth up or distendeth, which corrupteth and destroyeth, in contradistinction with that sound and salutary knowledge that edifieth, or buildeth up.
On the exclusion of Religion from the science of Political Economy.- The reason given by writers, statesmen, and men in general, for this exclusion, an unsound and bad reason. - Introduction of this subject by the Prince Consort on the occasion of presiding at a meeting of the Conference on National Education.· -The new philosophy of Auguste Comte. The propounder of this system of Positive Philosophy declares that all revealed religion has failed, and that his Positive Philosophy has to be substituted for it. The weak and false character of this philosophy adverted to.
To every thoughtful and discriminating man, who has endeavoured to make himself acquainted with the scope and character of that literature by means of which it has been attempted to convey to the world a knowledge of Political Economy, it must have been a matter exciting both surprise and disappointment, that no effort has been made, by any writer, to introduce the moral and religious principle of action into the field of this science.
For, when the diligent inquirer and seeker of instruction has followed any writer on Political Economy, through those series of statistical compilations, and reasonings upon them, for which the high character of scientific evidence and argument is claimed, it cannot fail that he should have become impressed by the great truth, that all the facts comprising the maintenance and enjoyment of man, so adduced from statistical tables and combined, have been derived by means of that application of human effort, or human labour, through which the maintenance of man is ordained, under the providence of God, to be acquired. Human action, human la
bour, or human power, being then the active instrumentality by which all human maintenance is to be derived, hence, the element of justness, as regards the character of each and of every actor, and that of justice, as regards the character of each and every action, social action or transaction,-becoming necessarily the prominent feature of the subjectmatter of the science, so, when all notice and introduction of these high moral characteristics are passed over, and omitted, in the treatment of the science, the mind of an inquiring and intelligent reader is doomed to suffer surprise and disappointment, to be sensible of a sad blank and vacuity, and to discern the lamentable fact, that the writers have been unable to enter the only satisfying and the noblest sphere of truth; or that sphere where, alone, they could acquire the power of dealing minutely, on the one hand, and on the other, largely, comprehensively, and truly, with the subject-matter of the
To afford a colourable pretext, or to adopt a solid reason, for the special extrusion of religion from the province of economical and political science, both writers on Political Economy, and Statesmen, have adopted the habit of thinking and concluding, that it would be in the highest degree impolitic, unwise, and even dangerous, to attempt to introduce such a strong element as that of religious truth, within the province of Political Economy. They will advance and uphold the opinion, that every wise statesman, and far-seeing economic writer, would most carefully avoid entering upon the ground of religion and morals, because of all subjects, religion is that subject into which strong party spirit, sectarian treatment, individual view and opinion, unreasonable and uncontrollable sentimentality and passion, and to these they will add, narrowmindedness and bigotry, have been so largely intruded, as to draw men, for the most part, entirely off the ground of simple
common sense, or solid practical truth, and to plunge both spirit and mind in that blind fanaticism as would make all appeal to sound natural law, or courses of just action, a matter entirely hopeless or impossible; so that if religion were once introduced, an excited party spirit, and that, too, assuming itself to be divine, would influence and govern, and a condition of hopeless confusion would be made to prevail; so that in the attempt to escape from that which is bad, we should become entangled in, and overwhelmed by, that which is worse.
They will say, moreover, that we have only to take a careful survey of the condition in which the feelings and minds of men ever have been, and are now, with respect to the great subject Religion, to be convinced, that of all subjects, this presents the subject upon which a calm and dispassionate consideration, a due and just appreciation and acknowledgment of the advantages conferred, and of the truth delivered, unity of view, and union, are the least likely to be attained and to prevail; for that, amongst all the parties of men by whom the great subject religion — is treated of theologically,—or as a pure and special science, and held as a profession, few or, perhaps I ought to say, no signs are given of the active presence of that spirit of truth and union by which those great impediments to union, consisting of human inventions and perversion, converted into the form of dogmas, will be surrendered up and sacrificed for the sake of preserving and holding that alone which is of divine quality and character. That this sad condition of spiritual and mental obliquity prevails, and that, too, in quarters where it might be expected that the very opposite condition would prevail, and also in that degree, as, humanly speaking, to exclude all hope of our being emancipated from it, has to be admitted, and is a source of sorrow and deep lamentation with all sincere and faithful receivers of the Christian religion.
It will be useful to draw attention here - for the purpose of directing consideration to the close connexion that subsists between Religion and Political Economy-to a most important and deeply-interesting instance of the sad working amongst us of this spirit of error, and, hence, of disunion. In the month of June last year, a public meeting, called a Conference, was held in London for the purpose of considering the subject of National Education, and of the construction of a system by which the general education of the mass of the people might be promoted. The Prince Consort presided at this meeting. In the opening address delivered by the Prince, it was necessary for him to make allusion to the two distinct principles upon which education might be founded: the one being the religious, the other the secular. Having commented on the subject in a general manner, and having made allusion to differences of a political character that had been connected with it, the Prince then introduced the religious feature, his address being as follows: "While these have been some of the political subjects of difference, those in the religious field have not been less marked and potent. We find, on the one hand, the wish to see secular and religious instruction separated, and the former recognised as an innate and inherent right to which each member of society has a claim, and which ought not to be denied to him if he refuses to take along with it the inculcation of a particular dogma to which he objects as unsound; while we see, on the other hand, the doctrine asserted, that no education can be sound which does not rest on religious instruction, and that religious truth is too sacred to be modified and tampered with, even in its minutest deductions, for the sake of procuring a general agreement. Gentlemen, if these differences were to have been discussed here