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neither justify them, nor unmake her rights, nor depose her from her sovereignty under God,-cannot make it not true that she represents the moral order, and that the moral order is supreme. That supremacy is a fact in God's universe, an eternal and primal truth; and let no man dare deny it, who would not be branded on his forehead traitor to God, and therefore to man; and let him who fears to assert it in the hour of thickest danger be branded poltroon. It is the glory of the church that she has always asserted it. She asserted it in that noble answer of her inspired apostles to the magistrates,—“We must obey God rather than men ;” she asserted it in her glorious army of martyrs, who chose rather to die at the stake, in the amphitheatre, under the most cruel and lingering tortures, than to offer incense to Jupiter or to the statue of Cæsar; she asserted it by the mouth of holy Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan, when he forbade the Emperor Theodosius the Great to enter the church till he had done public penance for his tyrannical treatment of his subjects, and drove him from the sanctuary, and bade him take his place with the laity, where he belonged; she asserted it in the person of her sovereign pontiff, St. Gregory VII., when he made the tyrant and brutal Henry IV. of Germany wait for three days shivering with cold and hunger at his door, before he would grant him absolution, and when he finally smote him with the sword of Peter and Paul for his violation of his oaths, his wars against religion, and his oppression of his subjects; and she asserted it, again, in the person of her glorious pontiff, Gregory XVI., who, standing with one foot in the grave, confronted the tyrant of the North, and made the Autocrat of all the Russias tremble and weep as a child. Never for one moment has she ceased to assert it in face of crowned and uncrowned heads,Jew, Pagan, Arian, Barbarian, Saracen, Protestant, Infidel, Monarchist, Aristocrat, Democrat; and gloriously is she asserting it now in her noble confessor, the Bishop of Lausanne and Geneva, and in her exiled Pontiff, Pius fx.
You talk of religious liberty. Know you what the word means ? Know ye that religious liberty is all and entire in the supremacy of the moral order? The church is a spiritual despotism, is she? Bold blasphemer, miserable apologist for tyrants and tyranny, go trace her track through eighteen hundred years, and behold it marked with the blood of her free and noble-hearted children, whom God loves and honors, shed in defence of religious liberty. From the first moment of her existence has she fought, ay, fought as no other power can fight, for liberty of religion. Every land has been reddened with the blood and whitened with the bones of her martyrs, in that sacred cause; and now, rash upstart, you dare in the face of day proclaim her the friend of despotism! Alas! my brother, may God forgive you, for you know not what you do.
But we have said enough to show the unchristian as well as the unphilosophical character of our author's thought, which we are willing to believe he does not fully comprehend, and from the logical consequences of which, were he to see them, we are anxious to believe he is prepared to recoil with horror. His thought is unphilosophical, because it conceives authority and liberty as antagonists; it is unchristian, because it reduces Christianity to mere rationalism, and revives Alexandrian gentilism; because it denies the divine sovereignty, and the supremacy in all things of the spiritual or moral order; because it denies moral accountability, and involves unmitigated despotism or unbounded license as the inevitable doom of the human race. As a philosopher, we hold his work in contempt; as an historian, we deny its anthenticity; as a Christian, we abhor it; as a friend of liberty, civil and religious, we denounce its principles, as fit only for despots or libertines.
There are matters of detail in the work to which we seriously object, but, as we have shown the unsoundness of the book in its principles, it is not worth while to waste time or argument in exposing them. The author has expended no inconsiderable thought and labor in constructing his work, but, like all the works which rank under the head of philosophy of history, it is shallow, vague, confused, worthless. The writers of philosophy of history may have great natural talents, they may bave varied and extensive learning, but they start wrong, they attempt what is impossible, and never go to the bottom of things or rise to their first principles. They never reach the ultimate ; they never attain to science; and only amuse or bewilder us with vague generalities, crude speculations, or unmeaning verbiage. There is an order of thought of which they have no conception, infinitely more profound than theirs, which, when once attained to, makes all their views appear heterogeneous, confused, weak, and childish.
We have no disposition to treat our young Kentuckian rudely, or to discourage him by an unkind reception. We know him only through his book. His book is bad, but we every day receive works which are far worse. We do not believe that he means to be a pagan; we do not believe that he even means to be a rationalist; we are sure that he does not mean to deny the moral order; and this is much for him personally, but it is nothing for his book. In judging the man, we look to his intention; in judging the author, we look only to the principles he inculcates. If these are unsound or dangerous, we have no mercy for the author, though we may abound in charity for the man. Mr. Nourse does not understand his own principles; he has not seen them in all their relations, and does not suspect their logical consequences. He has undertaken, without other guide than a few books which, themselves unsafe guides, he has read, but not digested, to do, after the study of a few months, what no mortal man could accomplish with all the libraries in the world, were he to live longer than the world has stood. How could he expect to succeed? We hold him accountable for his rashness in undertaking such a task, not for having failed in its accomplishment.
CHANNING ON SOCIAL REFORM.*
(From Brownson's Quarterly Review for 1849.)
THERE are few men outside of the church for whom we have a warmer personal affection, or a more sincere esteem, than we have for the author of this Discourse,-a nephew of the well-known and lamented William Ellery Channing, the warm-hearted philanthropist, and eloquent Unitarian minister. He is a man of singular purity of mind and sweetness of disposition,-earnest, self-denying, brave, --with more than his celebrated uncle's learning,
and occasionally with more than that uncle's eloqucnce. We have known him for
* The Christian Church and Social Reform. A Discourse delivered before the Religious Union of Associationists. By WILLIAM HENRY CHANNING. Boston : 1848.
years; and, before our conversion, we loved him as we loved few men, and hoped more from him, with a single exception, than from any other man with whom we were associated, or whom we were permitted to include in the number of our personal friends. We love him not less now, though our personal intercourse with him has been nearly interrupted, and we have ceased to have any sympathy with his views, plans, or movements.
We have great confidence in Mr. Channing's integrity, as well as in his ingenuousness and candor; we believe him not unwilling to receive the truth ; and we are sure he would shrink from no sacrifices obedience to it might demand, were he once, through the grace of God, clearly and distinctly to behold it. He is a socialist, avowedly a socialist, and a socialist with as extreme and as utterly objectionable views as any one of the socialistic sect we are acquainted with; but he really possesses much religiosity, so to speak, and wishes to retain and practise the Christian religion. Doubtless he has, as all men of his class have, a secret pride, which revolts at the humility of the cross, and obscures the spiritual vision; but his errors, we must believe, spring rather from his intellect than his will, and are in no small degree due to the prejudices of his education, and the unfavorable influences to which for the most of his life he has been exposed. Educated in that negation of the Christian symbol called Unitarianism,-brought up, as are all Unitarian youth, without any real knowledge of Christianity, without imbibing any thing of the distinctively Christian spirit, and with his mind, his affections, and his hopes turned away from the Gospel,—it is not strange that he was early led into the mazes of wild theories and vain philosophy. Unable to satisfy either the wants of his mind or of his heart with the negations of his sect, he early became unsettled and restless, asking in vain for something to believe, and still more earnestly for something to do; careless of the salvation of his own soul, because without any belief in a future judgment, or in God as a remunerator, and confounding the human sentiment of philanthropy with the Christian virtue of charity, nothing in the world was more natural than that he should turn socialist, and seek to find food for his intellect, his affections, and his activity, in efforts at social reform, or the realization of an earthly paradise.
With no infallible church to direct him, with no external criterion of truth or of good, and recognizing no revelation
but the subjective inspirations of the affections, or the Divinity manifesting itself in human instincts and tendencies, he was forced to take humanity, or human nature, as his authority, and the satisfaction of its cravings in time as his end. In a word, he has been obliged, in the absence of the religion of God, to supply its place with “the religion of humanity," as he expressly calls it. But in this he shows two things which we respect, and which give us hope. Even his religion of humanity—a religion which puts man in the place of God, as beginning, motive, and end,—thongh a veritable idolatry, and excusable in no one, bears witness to his religiosity, and also to his logical consistency. It is a tribute to religion not without its value, and a proof that he does not shrink from pushing the Protestant movement which he accepts to its last consequences. May we not hope that he will soon see that the worship of humanity is as sad superstition as the worship of wood and stone, and that man falls as far below his dignity as below his duty whenever he worships any other than the infinite and eternal God?
We have read Mr. Channing's Discourse with great attention, and with an earnest endeavour to ascertain and appreciate its meaning. Abler socialistic discourses we may have read, but a more genuine or truthful statement of modern socialism, under its least irreligious aspect, we have not read. It presents a synopsis of the whole teaching of the socialistic school or sect, on God, nature, religion, the church, man, society, association, reform, progress, economy, social and domestic. With a hope, not presumptuous we persuade ourselves, that our words may reach the author and receive from him respectful consideration, we venture to take it up somewhat in detail, and subject it to a close and even minute criticism. If, in doing so, we prove ourselves severe, Mr. Channing, we are sure, will understand that our severity is for the author, not for the man, for whom we have begun by expressing our affection and esteem. In order not to give occasion to the author and his friends to accuse us of misapprehension and misstatement, and to enable our readers to judge of the bearing and appropriateness of our remarks, we shall copy, in its separate divisions, the entire Discourse, as far as we make it the subject of our comments. We begin with the beginning.
"In opening this winter's course of meetings, let us at once turn our attention to the problem which this age has most at heart to solve; and, in order to do so, let us consider THE RELATIONS OF THE CHURCH AND