Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

CHAP. VI.

On the extraordinary fact that Religion has been specially excluded from the received and prevailing system of Political Economy. The fact to be attributed alike to the infidelity of the school of Economists, and to the perversion and abuse that Religion, has been, and is, made to undergo, at the hands of man. · The first problem of Revealed Religion shown to comprehend the great general law of Social Economy. Disobedience, or rejection of the great social law, shown to have constituted the falling away from fidelity and virtue of our first parents.-Law and lawful action being rejected, and lust and lustful action being resolved on, this action without law, or free action, shown to constitute the foundation of the prevailing system of Political Economy.— Warning given by the Saviour against the character of Free Social Action. - This Free Social Action shown to be that which the Saviour denounced by the terms Abomination of Desolation. ·Doubt and apprehension respecting the character of the free system of commercial dealing entertained by some of its most ardent supporters. An instance of this doubt and apprehension shown in the case of Dr. Channing.]

[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

-

THAT a system of Social and Political Economy should have been erected in the world, from which all religious principle, or the character, attributes, and law, of the Creator and Designer of all things has been excluded; and that the selfish principles of human action on which the prevailing system of Political Economy is built, and which is incorporated throughout it, should have received the favour and sanction of the world in general, or of men of all ranks and denominations, are two facts, that ought to excite great astonishment. But astonishment is not excited. By this it is proved that darkness, gross darkness, prevails where it is thought that much light is enjoyed, and where this fancied and assumed possession of light is made a matter of boast and of glory. It may be useful to allude shortly to the causes of this darkness. On undertaking to treat the science of Social and Political

Economy truly and faithfully, and, for this purpose, to enter the great field of religious principle, or general social truth, it is necessary to view religion in a light far more pure and clear, and in a form far more substantial, positive, and comprehensive, than men in general, in any age of the world, have been willing to view it. For, with respect to religion,— the highest and most important of all subjects,—a deplorable feature connected with the human reception and management of it, cannot be obliterated, which is, that men, of all denominations, professing to be religious, they being of the laity as well as of the clergy-there being honourable exceptions amongst them, though these exceptions are comparatively few have so exercised their ingenuity as to make an adaptation of the truth and system of revealed religion to themselves; that is, so to cut off, to pervert, to change, or to transmute, revealed religion, as to make it coincide, in a large degree, with their own thoughts, ideas, views, and characters, instead of so cutting off, converting, changing, and transmuting their own thoughts, ideas, views, and characters, as to bring them into coincidence or union with revealed religion. Hence, human inventions of many kinds have been wrought out, set up, and so received, as to become invested by men with a character of holiness. By this course the spirit and the truth have been sacrificed; unfounded metaphysical abstractions moulded into the shape of dogmas, impressive and imposing rites and ceremonies, and materialistic forms-operating through the corporeal senses, having been substituted for them. Plans and forms of worship, the pure and the impure being intermingled, have been made so to engross the feelings and minds of men as to take that place which religion should occupy, and, together with religion, true and pure worship.

The general consent which has thus been given to a per

version of religious truth by means of a commixture with it of human error, together with the uncontrollable, or, as some call it, the "fanatical" character of the feelings of so many men in connection with the views they have adopted on the subject of religion, afford a sufficient explanation why it would have been impossible, even if the school of writers on Political Economy had desired, to have established union between the special advocates of religion and the special advocates of the science of Political Economy. I do not mean by this that the Economists are to be absolved from any of the blame that attaches to them on account of the false and lamentable courses they have pursued. Fidelity was due, on their part, to the subject of which they undertook to treat; and, above all, fidelity was due from them to Him. from whom alone the power of dealing with the subject truly could emanate. Had Faith-the Spirit of Truth operating through Faith-been present with them, they would not have been deterred from entering the field of religion, because they had to see that this field was occupied, in so large a degree, by those who were given up to contestations, to unmeaning, unedifying, and useless points of controversy, and who were such disturbers and derangers that they would not meet together for the purpose of establishing amongst themselves agreement and union. They would have seen how to have kept on the solid ways of religion, without mixing themselves up with those who preferred a departure from these solid ways.

Lord Bacon, under the combined influence of a comprehensive philosophical perception, and a reverence for religious principle, declared, as I have already shown, that our pursuit and application of knowledge is to be limited by religion. Limited. That is, boundaries are to be prescribed and marked out. Not fixed, because the subject-matter itself

involves action, motion, progress; and these continuous. The limitation, therefore, consists of a definition of degrees. So much, at present, and no more at present. This much is useful, salutary, just. More than this will be useless, unsalutary, unjust, and injurious. Just as a wise and honourable father of a family adjusts his expenditure, or his own consumption and enjoyment, as well as the consumption and enjoyment of his family, to the amount of his income. He will not increase this expenditure, this consumption and enjoyment, until he has, in the first place, increased his income, because, if he should do so, he knows that he would be committing the dishonest act of consuming and enjoying another man's property, or, else, preventing some members of his own family from partaking of that which they have a right to enjoy. So knowledge is to be made subject to that law of degree by which the interests of all men are comprehended. Religious principle is that element and power, and the element and power alone, by means of which the required definition is to be accomplished.

In order, then, to command a clear and comprehensive view of the religious element and principle, it is necessary to search for them, as the Saviour so often directed, at the fountain-head, so that we may have them before us in their true nature and character, or without any of those aberrations and meaningless mystifications, by which men have contrived to make obscure, and to damage, the lustre of truth that truth great general social truth, in accordance with which all created matter is made to fulfil the beneficent designs of the Creator to which the Saviour so often and so emphatically referred, but which, as so few men were able to attach to it any meaning, was received by people then, and has since been received by the world in general, either with stolid indifference, with senseless ridicule, or with strong aversion. These are words which it is painful either

to pronounce or to write; but yet truth requires that they should be pronounced and written. For proof of this, I have to refer to that received human creed, and system of social desire and social action, which the school of Political Economists have reared.

We have, then, to examine again, in order to see plainly, and to impress forcibly on our minds, the beginning of the subject, or that which the fountain head just referred to supplies. This course of repetition will not be felt to be a tedious course by those who are desirous, above all things, of having the great truth established in their minds. In that Book by which a knowledge of Religion is communicated to us, the case of man, as regards, in the first place, the connection that ought to subsist, and, in the next place, the connection that does subsist, between his Maker and himself, is stated. This first proposition has to be so thoroughly examined, weighed, and understood, as that we may discern that which is comprehended in it; namely, Truth and Error- Right and Wrong - Law and Sin. We have to understand that which constituted, and which must ever constitute, fitness for membership in the Creator's kingdom; and that which has constituted, and which must ever constitute, unfitness for membership in the Creator's kingdom, and which involves, necessarily, expulsion from it, or condemnation to that kingdom which is of a character opposite to that of the Creator. We have, then, to understand, thoroughly, and to apply, the first or foundation problem of the Holy Writings.

The problem, then, which comprehends human happiness on the one hand, and human misery on the other, presents to us the fact of man holding life, and exercising faculties, under two distinct and opposing principles. The one is free enjoyment, derived from, and embracing, pleasure; the other is

VOL. I.

RR

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »