« AnteriorContinuar »
there is a moral duty and responsibility in- | recognition of the doctrine of national personality can justify. National honour and good faith are words in every one's mouth. How do they less imply a personality in nations than the duty towards God, for which we now contend? They are strictly and essentially distinct from the honour and good faith of the individuals composing the nation. France is a person us, and we to her. A wilful injury done to her is a moral act, and a moral act quite distinct from the acts of all the individu als composing the nation. Upon broad facts like these we may rest, without resorting to the more technical proof which the laws afford in their manner of dealing with corporations. If, then, a nation have unity of will, have pervad ing sympathies, have the capability of reward and suffering contingent upon its acts, shall we deny its responsibility; its need of religion to meet that responsibility? A nation, then, having a personality, lies under the obligation, like the individuals composing its governing body, of sanctifying the acts of that personality by the offices of religion, and thus existence of a state religion." we have a new and imperative ground for the
volved in it The governors are reasoning agents for the nation, in their conjoint acts as such. And therefore there must be attached to this agency, as that without which none of our responsibilities can be met, a religion. And this religion must be that of the conscience of the governor, or none."
Here again we find propositions of immense extent, and of sound so orthodox and solemn, that many good people, we doubt not, have been greatly edified by it. But let us examine the words closely, and it will immediately become plain, that if these principles be once admitted, there is an end of all society. No combination can be formed for any purpose of mutual help,-for trade, for public works, for the relief of the sick or the poor, for the promotion of art or science, unless the members of
A new ground, certainly, but whether very imperative may be doubted. Is it not perfectly clear, that this argument applies with exactly as much force to every combination of human
ments? Is there any such combination in the world, whether technically a corporation or not, which has not this collective personality from which Mr. Gladstone deduces such extraordi
the combination agree in their theological opinions. Take any such combination at random-the London and Birmingham Railway Company, for example--and observe to what consequences Mr. Gladstone's arguments inevitably lead. “Why should the Directors of the Railway Company, in their collective capacity, profess a religion? First, because the direction is composed of individual men appointed to act in a definite moral capacity bound to look carefully to the property, the limbs, and the lives of their fellow creatures-beings for a common purpose, as to governbound to act diligently for their constituentsbound to govern their servants with humanity and justice--bound to fulfil with fidelity many important contracts. They must, therefore, sanctify their acts by the offices of religion, or these acts will be sinful and punishable inary consequences? Look at banks, insurance offices, dock companies, canal companies, ciations for the relief of the poor, associations gas companies, hospitals, dispensaries, assofor apprehending malefactors, associations of medical pupils for procuring subjects, associa tions of country gentlemen for keeping fox hounds, book societies, benefit societies, clubs of all ranks, from those which have lined PallMall and St. James's Street with their palaces, down to the "Free-and-easy" which meets in the shabby parlour of a village inn. Is there Mr. Gladstone's argument will not apply as a single one of these combinations to which well as to the State? In all these combinations-in the Bank of England, for example, or in the Athenæum Club-the will and agency of the society are one, and bind the dissentient minority. The Bank and the Athenæum have a good faith and a justice different from the good faith and justice of the individual mem. bers. The Bank is a person to those who deposit bullion with it. The Athenæum is a person to the butcher and the wine-merchant. If the Athenæum keeps money at the Bank, the two societies are as much persons to each other as England and France. Either society into difficulties. If, then, they have this unity may increase in prosperity; either may fall of will; if they are capable of doing and suffer ing good and evil, can we, to use Mr. Gladstone's words, "deny their responsibility, or their need of a religion to meet that responsi bility?" Joint-stock banks, therefore, and clubs, "having a personality, lie under the ne
themselves. In fulfilment, then, of his obligations as an individual, the Director of the London and Birmingham Railway Company must be a worshipping man. But his acts are public. He acts for a body. He moves at his word ten thousand subject arms. And because these energies are out of the range of his mere individual agency, they must be sanctified by public acts of devotion. The Railway Directors must offer prayer and praise in their public
and collective character, in that character wherewith they constitute the organ of the Company, and wield its collected power. Wherever there is reasoning agency, there is moral responsibility. The Directors are reasoning agents for the Company. And therefore there must be attached to this agency, as that without which none of our responsibilities can be met--a religion. And this religion must be that of the conscience of the Director himself, or none. There must be public worship and a test. No Jew, no Socinian, no Presbyterian, no Catholic, no Quaker, must be permitted to be the organ of the Company, and to wield its collected force." Would Mr. Gladstone really defend this proposition? We are sure that he would not; but we are sure that to this proposition, and to innumerable similar propositions, his reasoning inevitably leads.
"National will and agency are indisputably one, binding either a dissentient minority of the subject body, in a manner that nothing but the
cessity of sanctifying that personality, by the offices of religion;" and thus we have "a new and imperative ground" for requiring all the directors and clerks of joint-stock banks, and all the officers of clubs, to qualify by taking the
The truth is, that Mr. Gladstone has fallen into an error very common among men of less talents than his own. It is not unusual for a person who is eager to prove a particular proposition, to assume a major of huge extent, which includes that particular proposition, without ever reflecting that it includes a great deal more. The fatal facility with which Mr. Gladstone multiplies expressions stately and sonorous, but of indeterminate meaning, eminently qualifies him to practise this sleight on himself and on his readers. He lays down broad general doctrines about power, when the only power of which he is thinking is the power of governments,-about conjoint action, when the only conjoint action of which he is thinking is the conjoint action of citizens in a state. He first resolves on his conclusion. He then makes a major of most comprehensive dimensions; and, having satisfied himself that it contains his conclusion, never troubles himself about what else it may contain. And as soon as we examine it, we find that it contains an infinite number of conclusions, every one of which is a monstrous absurdity.
It is perfectly true, that it would be a very good thing if all the members of all the associations in the world were men of sound religious views. We have no doubt that a good Christian will be under the guidance of Christian principles, in his conduct as director of a canal company or steward of a charity dinner. If he were to recur to a case which we before put-a member of a stage-coach company, he would, in that capacity, remember that "a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast." But it does not follow that every association of men must, therefore, as such association, profess a religion. It is evident that many great and useful objects can be attained in this world only by co-operation. It is equally evident that there cannot be efficient co-operation, if men proceed on the principle that they must not co-operate for one object unless they agree about other objects. Nothing seems to us more beautiful or admirable in our social system, than the facility with which thousands of people, who perhaps agree only on single point, combine their energies for the purpose of carrying that single point. We see daily instances of this. Two men, one of them obstinately prejudiced against missions, the other president of a missionary society, sit together at the board of an hospital, and heartily concur in measures for the health and comfort of the patients. Two men, one of whom is a zealous supporter and the other a zealous opponent of the system pursued in Lancaster's schools, meet at the Mendicity Society, and act together with the utmost cordiality. The general rule we take to be undoubtedly this, that it is lawful and expedient for men to unite in an association for the promotion of a good object, though they may differ with respect to other objects of a still higner importance.
It will hardly be denied that the security of the persons and property of men is a good ob ject, and that the best way, indeed the only way, of promoting that object is to combine men together in certain great corporations-which are called states. These corporations are very variously, and, for the most part, very imperfectly organized. Many of them abound with frightful abuses. But it seems reasonable to believe that the worst that ever existed was, on the whole, preferable to complete anarchy.
Now, reasoning from analogy, we should say that these great corporations would, like all other associations, be likely to attain their end most perfectly if that end were kept singly in view; and that to refuse the services of those who are admirably qualified to promote that end, because they are not also qualified to promote some other end, however excellent, seems at first sight as unreasonable as it would be to provide, that nobody who was not a fellow of the Antiquarian Society should be a governor of the Eye Infirmary; or that nobody who was not a member of the Society for promoting Christianity among the Jews should be a trustee of the Theatrical Fund.
It is impossible to name any collection of human beings to which Mr. Gladstone's reasonings would apply more strongly than to an army. Where shall we find more complete unity of action than in an army? Where else do so many human beings implicitly obey one ruling mind? What other mass is there which moves so much like one man? Where is such tremendous power intrusted to those who com mand? Where is so awful responsibility laid upon them? If Mr. Gladstone has made out, as he conceives, an imperative necessity for a state religion, much more has he made it out to be imperatively necessary that every army should, in its collective capacity, profess a religion. Is he prepared to adopt this consequence?
On the morning of the 13th of August, in the year 1704, two great captains, equal in authority, united by close private and public ties, but of different creeds, prepared for a battle, on the event of which were staked the liberties of Europe. Mariborough had passed a part of the night in prayer, and before daybreak received the sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England. He then Lastened to join Eugene, who had probably just confessed himself to a Popish priest. The generals consulted together, formed their plan in concert, and repaired each to his own post. Marlborough gave orders for public prayers. The English chaplains read the service at the head of the English regiments. The Calvinistic chaplains of the Dutch army, with heads on which hand of bishop had never been laid, poured forth their supplications in front of their countrymen. In the mean time the Danes would listen to their Lutheran ministers; and Capuchins migat en. courage the Austrian squadrons, and pray to the Virgin for a blessing on the arms of the Holy Roman Empire. The battle commences, and these men of various religions all act like members of one body. The Catholic and the Protestant generals exert themselves to assis
and to surpass each other. Before sunset the Empire is saved. France has lost in a day the fruits of eighty years of intrigue and of victory. And the allies, after conquering together, return thanks to God separately, each after his own form of worship. Now, is this practical atheism? Would any man in his senses say, that, because the allied army had unity of action and a common interest, and because a heavy responsibility lay on its chiefs, it was therefore imperatively necessary that the army should, as an army, have one established religion-that Eugene should be
deprived of his command for being a Catholic that all the Dutch and Austrian colonels should be broken for not subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles? Certainly not-the most ignorant grenadier on the field of battle would have seen the absurdity of such a proposition. "I know," he would have said, "that the Prince of Savoy goes to mass, and that our Corporal John cannot abide it; but what has the mass to do with taking the village of Blenheim? The prince wants to beat the French, and so does Corporal John. If we stand by each other, we shall most likely beat them. If we send all the Papists and Dutch away, Tallard will have every man of us." Mr. Gladstone himself, we imagine, would admit that our honest grenadier had the best of the argument; and if so, what follows? Even this: that all Mr. Gladstone's general principles about power, and responsibility, and personality, and conjoint action, must be given up; and that, if his theory is to stand at all, it must stand on some other foundation.
We have now, we conceive, shown that it may be proper to form men into combinations for important purposes, which combinations shall have unity and common interests, and shall be under the direction of rulers intrusted with great power and lying under solemn responsibility; and yet that it may be highly improper that these combinations should, as such, profess any one system of religious belief, or perform any joint act of religious worship. How, then, is it proved that this may not be the case with some of those great combinations which we call States? We firmly believe that it is the case with some states. We firmly believe that there are communities in which it would be as absurd to mix up theology with governinent, as it would have been in the right wing of the allied army at Blenheim to commence a controversy with the left wing, in the middle of the battle, about purgatory and the worship of images.
It is the duty, Mr. Gladstone tells us, of the persons, be they who they may, who hold supreme power in the state, to employ that power in order to promote whatever they may deem to be theological truth. Now, surely, before he can call on us to admit this proposition, he is bound to prove that these persons are likely to do more good than harm by so employing their power. The first question is, whether a government, proposing to itself the propagation of religious truth, as one of its principal ends, is more likely to lead the people right than to lead them wrong? Mr. Glad
stone evades this question, and perhaps it was his wisest course to do so.
it have its natural duties and powers at its "If," says he, "the government be good, let command; but, if not good, let it be made so, We follow, therefore, the true course in looking first for the true, or abstract con ception of a government, of course with allow ance for the evil and frailty that are in man, and then in examining whether there be comprised in that a capacity and consequent duty on the part of a government to lay down any laws, or devote any means for the pur poses of religion,-in short, to exercise a upon religion."
Of course, Mr. Gladstone has a perfect right to argue any abstract question; provided that he will constantly bear in mind that it is only an abstract question that he is arguing. Whe ther a perfect government would or would not be a good machinery for the propagation of religious truth, is certainly a harmless, and may, for aught we know, be an edifying subject of inquiry. But it is very important that we should remember, that there is not, and never has been, any such government in the world. There is no harm at all in inquiring what course a stone thrown into the air would take, if the law of gravitation did not operate. But the consequences would be unpleasant, if the inquirer, as soon as he had finished his calculation, were to begin to throw stones about in all directions, without considering that his conclusion rests on a false hypothesis; and that his projectiles, instead of flying away through infinite space, will speedily return in parabolas, and break the windows and heads of his neighbours.
It is very easy to say that governments are good, or, if not good, ought to be made so. But what is meant by good government? And how are all the bad governments in the world to be made good? And of what value is a theory which is true only on a supposition in the highest degree extravagant?
We do not admit that, if a government were, for all its temporal ends, as perfect as human frailty allows, such government would, there fore, be necessarily qualified to propagate true religion. For we see that the fitness of govern ments to propagate true religion is by no means proportioned to their fitness for the temporal ends of their institution. Looking at indivi duals, we see that the princes under whose rule nations have been most ably protected from foreign and domestic disturbance, and have made the most rapid advances in civiliza tion, have been by no means good teachers of divinity. Take, for example, the best French sovereign,-Henry the Fourth, a king who re stored order, terminated a terrible civil war brought the finances into an excellent condi tion, made his country respected throughout Europe, and endeared himself to the great body of the people whom he ruled. Yet this man was twice a Huguenot, and twice a Papist He was, as Davila hints, strongly suspected of having no religion at all in theory; and was certainly not much under religious restraints
in his practice. Take the Czar Peter,-the tions. We see that, for the temporal ends of Empress Catharine,-Frederick the Great. It government, some of these constitutions are will surely not be disputed that these sove- very skilfully constructed, and that the very reigns, with all their faults, were, if we con- worst of them is preferable to anarchy. But sider them with reference merely to the tempo- it passes our understanding to comprehend ral ends of government, far above the average what connection any one of them has with of merit. Considered as theological guides, theological truth. Mr. Gladstone would probably put them below the most abject drivellers of the Spanish branch of the house of Bourbon. Again, when we pass from individuals to systems, we by no means find that the aptitude of governments for propagating religious truth is proportioned to their aptitude for secular functions. Without being blind admirers either of the French or of American institutions, we think it clear that the persons and property of citizens are better protected in France and in New England, than in almost any society that now exists, or that has ever existed,-very much better, certainly, than under the orthodox rule of Constantine or Theodosius. But neither the government of France nor that of New England is so organized as to be fit for the propagation of theological doctrines. Nor do we think it improbable, that the most serious religious errors might prevail in a state, which, considered merely with reference to temporal objects, might approach far nearer than any that has ever been known to the dex of what a state should be.
When, again, we look at the constitutions of governments which have become settled, we find no great security for the orthodoxy of rulers. One magistrate holds power because his name was drawn out of a purse; another, because his father held it before him. There are representative systems of all sorts,-large constituent bodies, small constituent bodies, universal suffrage, high pecuniary qualificaVOL. III.-49
And how stands the fact? Have not almost all the governments in the world always been in the wrong on religious subjects? Mr. Gladstone, we imagine, would say, that, except in the time of Constantine, of Jovian, and of a very few of their successors, and occasionally in England since the Reformation, no government has ever been sincerely friendly to the pure and apostolical Church of Christ. If, therefore, it be true that every ruler is bound in conscience to use his power for the propagation of his own religion, it will follow, that for one ruler who has been bound in conscience to use his power for the propagation of truth, a thousand have been bound in conscience to use their power for the propagation of falsehood. Surely this is a conclusion from which common sense recoils. Surely, if experience shows that a certain machine, when used to produce a certain effect, does not produce that effect once in a thousand times, but produces, in the vast majority of cases, an effect directly contrary, we cannot be wrong in saying, that it is not a machine of which the principal end is to be so used.
But we shall leave this abstract question, and look at the world as we find it. Does, then, the way in which governments generally If, indeed, the magistrate would content himobtain their power, make it at all probable that self with laying his opinions and reasons before they will be more favourable to orthodoxy than the people, and would leave the people, uncorto heterodoxy? A nation of barbarians poursrupted by hope or fear, to judge for themselves, down on a rich and unwarlike empire, enslaves we should see little reason to apprehend that the people, portions out the land, and blends his interference in favour of error would be the institutions which it finds in the cities with seriously prejudicial to the interests of truth. those which it has brought from the woods. A Nor do we, as will hereafter be seen, object to handful of daring adventurers from a civilized his taking this course, when it is compatible nation, wander to some savage country, and with the efficient discharge of his more espe reduce the aboriginal race to bondage. A suc- cial duties. But this will not satisfy Mr. Gladcessful general turns his arms against the stone. He would have the magistrate resort state which he serves. A society made brutal to means which have great tendency to make by oppression, rises madly on its masters, malcontents, to make hypocrites, to make care sweeps away all old laws and usages, and, less nominal conformists, but no tendency when its first paroxysm of rage is over, sinks whatever to produce honest and rational condown passively under any form of polity which viction. It seems to us quite clear that an may spring out of the chaos. A chief of a inquirer who has no wish, except to know the party, as at Florence, becomes imperceptibly truth, is more likely to arrive at the truth than a sovereign and the founder of a dynasty. A an inquirer who knows that, if he decides one captain of mercenaries, as at Milan, seizes on way, he shall be rewarded, and that, if he dea city, and by the sword makes himself its cides the other way, he shall be punished. ruler. An elective senate, as at Venice, usurps Now, Mr. Gladstone would have governments permanent and hereditary power. It is in events propagate their opinions by excluding all dis such as these that governments have generally senters from all civil offices. That is to say, originated; and we can see nothing in such he would have governments propagate their even.s to warrant us in believing that the go- opinions by a process which has no reference vernments thus called into existence will be whatever to the truth or falsehood of those peculiarly well fitted to distinguish between re- opinions, by arbitrarily uniting certain worldly ligious truth and heresy. advantages with one set of doctrines, and cer tain worldly inconveniences with another set It is of the very nature of argument to serve the interest of truth; but if rewards and pu nishments serve the interest of truth, it is by mere accident. It is very much easier to find arguments for the Divine authority of the Gospel than for the Divine authority of the Koran. But it is just as easy to bribe or rack a Jew into Mohammedanism as into Christianity.
From racks, indeed, and from all penalties | a single instance in which the system which directed against the persons, the property, and he recommends has succeeded. the liberty of heretics, the humane spirit of Mr. Gladstone shrinks with horror. He only maintains that conformity to the religion of the state ought to be an indispensable qualification for office; and he would think it his duty, if he had the power, to revive the Test Act, to enforce it rigorously, and to extend it to important classes who were formerly exempt from its operation.
This is indeed a legitimate consequence of his principles. But why stop here? Why not roast Dissenters at slow fires? All the general reasonings on which this theory rests evidently lead to a sanguinary persecution. If the propagation of religious truth be a principal end of government, as government; if it be the duty of a government to employ for that end its constitutional power; if the constitutional power of governments extends, as it most unquestionably does, to the making of laws for the burning of heretics; if burning be, as it most assuredly is, in many cases, a most effectual mode of suppressing opinions-why should we not burn? If the relation in which government ought to stand to the people be, as Mr. Gladstone tells us, a paternal relation, we are irresistibly led to the conclusion that persecution is justifiable. For the right of propagating opinions by punishment is one which belongs to parents as clearly as the right to give instruction. A boy is compelled to attend family worship; he is forbidden to read irreligious books; if he will not learn his catechism, he is sent to bed without his supper; if he plays truant at church-time, a task is set him. If he should display the precocity of his talents by expressing impious opinions before his brothers and sisters, we should not much blame his father for cutting short the controversy with a horsewhip. All the reasons which lead us to think that parents are peculiarly fitted to conduct the education of their children, and that education is a principal end of the parental relation, lead us also to think, that parents ought to be allowed to use punishment, if necessary, for the purpose of forcing children, who are incapable of judging for themselves, to receive religious instruction and to attend religious worship. Why, then, is this prerogative of punishment, so eminently paternal, to be withheld from a paternal government? It seems to us, also, to be the height of absurdity to employ civil disabilities for the propagation of an opinion, and then to: hrink from employing other punishments for the same purpose. For nothing can be clearer than that if you punish at all, you ought to punish enough. The pain caused by punishment is pure unmixed evil, and never ought to be inflicted except for the sake of some good. It is mere foolish cruelty to provide penalties which torment the criminal without preventing the crime. Now it is possible, by sanguinary persecution unrelentingly inflicted, to suppress opinions. In this way the Albigenses were put down. In his way the Lollards were put down. In this way the fair promise of the Reformation was blighted in Italy and Spain. But may safely defy Mr. Gladstone to point out
And why should he be so tender-hearted! What reason can he give for hanging a mur derer, and suffering a heresiarch to escape without even a pecuniary mulct? Is the heresiarch a less pernicious member of society than the murderer? Is not the loss of one soul a greater evil than the extinction of many lives? And the number of murders committed by the most profligate bravo that ever let out his poniard to hire in Italy, or by the most savage buccanier that ever prowled on the Windward Station, is small indeed, when compared with the number of souls which have been caught in the snares of one dexterous heresiarch. If, then, the heresiarch causes infinitely greater evils than the murderer, why is he not as proper an object of penal legisla tion as the murderer? We can give a reason, -a reason, short, simple, decisive, and consistent. We do not extenuate the evil which the heresiarch produces; but we say that it is not evil of that sort against which it is the end of government to guard. But how Mr. Gladstone, who considers the evil which the heresiarch produces as evil of the sort against which it is the end of government to guard, can escape from the obvious consequences of his doctrine, we do not understand. The world is full of parallel cases. An orange-woman stops up the pavement with her wheelbarrow, and a policeman takes her into custody. A miser who has amassed a million, suffers an old friend and benefactor to die in a workhouse, and cannot be questioned before any tribunal for his baseness and ingratitude. Is this because legislators think the orange-woman's conduct worse than the miser's? Not at all. It is because the stopping up of the pathway is one of the evils against which it is the busi ness of the public authorities to protect society, and heartlessness is not one of those evils. It would be the height of folly to say, that the miser ought, indeed, to be punished, but that he ought to be punished less severely than the orange-woman.
The heretical Constantius persecutes Athanasius; and why not? Shall Cæsar execute the robber who has taken one purse, and spare the wretch who has taught millions to rob the Creator of his honour, and to bestow it on the creature? The orthodox Theodosius persecutes the Arians, and with equal reason. Shall an insult offered to the Cæsarean majesty be expiated by death, and shall there be no penalty for him who degrades to the rank of a creature the Almighty, the infinite Creator? We have a short answer for both: "To Caesar the things which are Cæsar's. Cæsar is appointed for the punishment of robbers and rebels. He is not appointed for the purpose of either propa gating or exterminating the doctrine of consub stantiality of the Father and the Son." "Na so," says Mr. Gladstone. "Cæsar is bound in conscience to propagate whatever he thinks to be the truth as to this question. Constantius is bound to establish the Arian worship throughout the empire, and to displace the bravest captains of his legions, and the ablest ministers of his Treasury, if they ho'd the Nice ne faith.