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majority may recoil from it at present, if logically drawn out by its bolder and more consistent advocates, the age may nevertheless be really and thoroughly socialistic. We know that the age seeks with all its energy, as the greatest want of mankind, political and social reforms. Of this there is and can be no doubt. Analyze these reforms and the principles and motives which lead to them, which induce the people in our days to struggle for them, and you will find at the bottom of them all the assumption, that our good lies in the natural order, and is not attainable by individual effort. All we see, all we hear, all we read, from whatever quarter it comes, serves to prove that this is the deep and settled conviction of the age. If it were not, these revolutions in France, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere, would have no meaning, no principle, no aim, and would be as insignificant as drunken rows in the streets of our cities.
But the essence of socialism is in this very assumption, that our good lies in the natural order, and is unattainable by individual effort. Socialism bids as follow nature, instead of saying with the Gospel, Resist nature. Placing onr good in the natural order, it necessarily restricts it to temporal goods, the only good the order of nature can give. For it, then, evil is to want temporal goods, and good is to possess them. But, in this sense, evil is not remediable or good attainable by individual effort. We depend on nature, which may resist us, and on the conduct of others, which escapes our control. Hence the necessity of social organization, in order to harmonize the interests of all with the interest of each, and to enable each by the union of all to compel natare to yield him up the good she has in store for him. But all men are equal before God, and, since he is just, he is equal in regard to all
. Then all have equal rights, an equal right to exemption from evil, and an equal right to the possession of good. Hence the social organization must be such as to avert equal evil from all, and to secure to each an equal share of temporal goods. Here is socialism in a nut-shell, following as a strictly logical consequence from the principles or assumptions which the age adopts, and on which it everywhere acts. The systems drawn out by Owen, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Cabet, Proudhon, or others, are mere attempts to realize socialism, and may or may not be ridiculous and absord; but that is nothing to the purpose, if you concede their principle. These men have done the best they could, and you have no right to censure them, as long as you agree with them in principle, unless you propose something better.
Now we agree with La Mennais, that Christianity has a political and social character, and with the editor of The Boston Quarterly Review, that Christianity seeks the good of man in this life as well as in the life to come. with all our lieart, “On the earth was he [our Lord] to found a new order of things, to bring round the blissful ages, and to give to renovated man a foretaste of heaven. It was here the millions were to be blessed with a heaven, as well as hereafter.” No doubt of it. But in the new order and by it,—not out of it and independently of it. Out of the new order and independently of it, the millions are, to say the least, no better off than if it did not exist, and have no right to any portion of its blessings. The socialists, when they attempt to press Christianity into their service, are bad logicians. They are right when they tell us that our Lord came to found a new order of things, for he certainly did come for that purpose; they are right when they tell us that it is Christian to seek a heaven on carth for the millions, for there is a Christian heaven here for all men, if they choose to accept it; but when they say this, they are bound to add that this heaven is in the new order established, and is to be sought in it, and by obedience to its principles. "It is Christian to seek that order of happiness which Christianity proposes, by the means which it prescribes; but to seek another order of happiness, and by other means, is not therefore necessarily Christian, and may even be antichristian. Here is the point they overlook, and which vitiates all their reasoning.
Let no one say that we allege that man must forego any good while in this world in order to gain heaven hereafter. It would be no great hardship, even if it were so ; but our God deals much more liberally with us, and requires us to give up, in order to secure heaven hereafter, only what inakes our misery here. The socialist is right in saying that there is good for us even in this world ; his error lies in placiny that good in the natural order, and in making it unattainable by individual effort. Our good lies not in the natural order, but in the supernatural order,--in that new order which our Lord came to establish. In that order there is all the good we can conceive, and attainable by simple voluntary efforts. Out of that order there is no good attainable either by the efforts of individuals or by association, because out of it there is no good at all. Temporal goods, giving to the term the fullest possible sense, are not good, and, sought for themselves, are productive only of evil. Here is the first error of the socialists. No evil is removable, no good is attainable, as long as any earthly or inerely natural end is held to be, for its own sake, a legitimate object of pursuit. There is and can be good for no one, here or hereafter, save in seeking, exclusively, the end for which Almighty God has intended us, and by the means and in the way
he himself has appointed. Now this end is neither in this world nor of this world, neither in nature nor of nature, and therefore can be gained, can be promoted, by no natural effort, by no natural means,—neither by political changes nor by social changes, neither by political democracy nor by social democracy. These things have and can have no necessary connection with it. It is a mistake, then, to regard them, in themselves, as ever in any degree desirable.
The socialists are right when they say that the Christian law is the law of liberty, but not therefore necessarily right when they term the movements of the people for what they call liberty Christian movements, originating in Christian principle. Undoubtedly, the Christian law is the law of liberty. “Our Saviour came to free us from bondage, and whom he makes free is free indeed. In the order he establishes, our highest good, our only good, whether for time or eternity, is entirely independent of the world. Nothing in the universe can hinder us, against our will, from attaining to it. We have only to will it and it is ours, and we are always and everywhere free to will. No one depends on nature or other men for the power to fulfil his destiny,—to gain the end for which he was intended. Here is the Christian doctrine of liberty, the glorious liberty which our religion reveals, and which we know by divine faith is no deception. But the liberty the socialists commend, and which the people are seeking, is not Christian liberty, for it is not liberty at all. Socialism, by its very principle, enslaves us to nature and society, and subjects us to all the fluctuations of time and sense. According to it, man can attain to true good, can gain the end for which he was made, only in a certain political and social order, which it depends on the millions, whom the individual cannot control, to construct, and which, when constructed, may prove to be inconvenient and inadequate, and require to be pulled down and built up again. The individual, it teaches us, can make no advance towards his destiny but in proportion as he secures the coöperation of his race.
All men must be brought down or brought up to the same level before he can go to the end for which his
God made him ; each man's true good is unattainable, till all
; men are prepared to take “a pull, a strong pull, a long pull, and a pull altogether," to attain theirs ! This is slavery, not liberty. Nay, it denies the possibility of liberty, and makes slavery the necessary condition of all men. Is not he a slave who is chained to nature for his good, or to a social organization which does not exist, and which depends on the wisdom, the folly, the passions or instincts, the whims or caprices of other men to create or to destroy? Who can deny it? He only is free, he only knows what freedom is, who tramples the world beneath his feet, who is independent of all the accidents of time and space, of all created beings, and who has but to will and all heaven is his, and remains his, though the entire universe fall in ruins around him.
Undoubtedly Christianity requires us to remove all evil, and in seeking to remove evil we follow the Christian principle; but what the socialists call evil, and the people in revolt are seeking to remove, is not evil. Nothing is evil but that which turns a man away from his end, or interposes a barrier to his advance towards it. Nothing but one's own sin can do that. Nothing, then, but sin is or can be evil, and that is evil only to him who commits it. Take all these things which socialists declaim against,-monarchy, aristocracy, inequalities of rank, inequalities of riches, poverty, want, distress, hunger, starvation even,—not one of them, in itself considered, is necessarily evil; not one of them, nor all of them combined, can harm the just man, or prevent, except by his own will, any one from the fulfilment of his destiny. If one is prepared to die, he may as well die in a hovel as a palace, of hunger as a fever. Nothing can harm us, that does not separate or tend to separate us from God. Nothing but our own internal malice can so separate us, and it is always in our power, through grace, which is never withheld, to remove that at will.
Undoubtedly, also, Christianity requires us to seek not only to remove evil, but to promote good, and good in this world. Good is the object of the will, and we are always to propose it. But the things the people in their insurrectionary movements are seeking after, and which socialists commend, are not necessarily good. As there is no evil to the just, so is there no good to the sinner, while he continues in his sinful state. If the socialists could secure to all men every thing they promise or dream of, they would secure them nothing to their advantage. Place every man at the highest social level that you can conceive; give him the most tinished education you can devise; lavish on him in profusion this world's goods; lodge him in the most splendid palace that genius can construct, furnished in the most tasteful and luxurious manner; let him be surrounded by the most. beautiful scenes of nature and the choicest specimens of art ; and let him have ample leisure and opportunity for travel, for social intercourse, and for the fullest and most harmonious development of all his natural faculties ;—you advance him not the millionth part of a hair's-breadth towards his destiny, avert from him no evil, secure him no conceivable good. It will be no consolation to the damned to recollect, that, while here, they were clothed in .purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; and your rich men, your great and renowned men, your fine gentlemen and ladies, with their polished manners and fashionable dresses, their soft complexions and gentle speech, your accomplished artists, your brilliant poets, your eloquent orators, your learned scholars, your profound and subtile philosophers, as well as coarse artisans, ragged beggars, cross-grained old bags, and country bumpkins, will be damned, eternally damned, if they die without the grace of God; and that grace is as likely to find its way to the hovel as to the palace, to dwell beneath the beggar's gabardine as the embroidered mantle of the rich and refined. The bulk of the strong-minded and thrifty citizens of this republic, with all their political franchises, social advantages, universities, academies, common schools, meeting-houses, external decorum, and material prosperity, are infinitely more destitute than those Neapolitan lazzaroni whose lot they deplore, and are in no rational sense one whit better off than the miserable miners and degraded populace of Great Britain. Their possessions will add nothing to the fulness of their joy, if, by a miracle of mercy, they gain heaven, and will only render fiercer the flames of their torment, if they are doomed to hell, as they have every reason to fear will be the case.
The socialists fall into the fallacy of passing, in their reasoning, from one species to another. Nothing they call evil is evil; nothing they call good is good ; and hence, because Christianity commands us to remove evil and seek good, it does not follow that we must associate with the disaffected populations to bring about political and social reforms. All that is in any sense good or worth having the individual can always, under any political or social order, secure by a sim-