everlasting principles touching man's highest nature and highest interests; he kindled into vivid existence new and most powerful sympathies,-and then dying, left the result to time and Providence, in the assurance that when the leaven had worked its work, the needful changes would ensue, and that though, in their first operation, these influences would bring sorrow on many, yet would they also re-create the moral life of many more, and eventually prove the regeneration of society, and the salvation of the world. I know not how such a course of conduct may strike your minds, but certainly to me it appears the height of wisdom and the height of benevolence; and until I have found another social reformer who, without special aid, has manifested these qualities in an equal degree, I must be allowed to think that in Jesus these are tokens of the finger of God; nor even then, however great and good the instance may be, shall I think that Jesus has a less claim to the love and reverence of humanity.

Could I, however, induce you to lay aside the prejudices by which, as I fear, your understandings are darkened, and the natural workings of your heart diseased ;-would you but welcome and detain the seasons of sober thought, and calm down your breasts from the agitations which existing social evils, and the reveries of system, have aroused and still 'sustain ; would you take council of your better nature and follow its impulses, I should not despair of convincing you that Jesus has still higher claims than these to your reverential affection. Have you no wants which Socialism, which no mere system of philosophy—cannot supply? Is it satisfactory to your heart to believe that the universe is without an intelligent Creator-society without a Providence-evil without any but a mortal remedy--and death without an issue or a meaning ? Were such the gloomy ideas which crowded on your mind when ' life, as opening buds, was sweet'?-when fond and grateful hopes broke forth from your youthful, and yet untarnished heart? Did you lay your mother or your first-born in the tomb, contented with the idea of their sleeping an eternal sleep? Was there not a period in your wedded love when a sacredness attached to the ideas and anticipations which it kindled in your minds ? Can you now calmly look on the eye that beams forth affection on yours, and calmly think of the kind heart that throbs more quickly at your approach, and meanwhile reflect that they are but animated clay, and will soon pass from your hearth and your bosom into dreary and everlasting night? Can you look forward to your own departure out of life, and think of the weeping hearts that will stand around your bed, and of the dark, not to say perilous, venture you are about to make into the mysterious abyss of eternity, and yet feel no shrinking of soul under a system which is without hope and without God;—which, in relation to the wants of our higher nature, is as chilling to the heart, as it is barren to the mind ? And has no misgiving ever crossed your bosom of your own self-sufficiency; no sense of need for higher and better guidance, than a mind can give which is often dizzy when it is not dark, and a heart whose infirmities the wise feel and lament every day they live? And then if the cause of the universe is Intelligence, and man, therefore, is held answerable to his Maker, can you reflect on the past without a conviction of sin, or look to the future without desiring a hope of pardon? Think not that these things are the imbecilities of the weak, or the inventions of the fraudulent. The highest natures that have adorned humanity, have experienced the feelings and gladly cast themselves on the guidance and refuge offered by Christ. And would you but use the power you undoubtedly possess, whatever your system may assert to the contrary, and leaving on one side all the traditions of men, place yourself without pride of heart, place yourself as a little child at the feet of Jesus, you would ere long experience for yourself somewhat of that high, that priceless good, which makes him the Saviour of all who learn of him and breathe his spirit. The elements of a new life would begin to arise in your bosom. New emotions-emotions, as useful as they are benign and grateful, would be awakened ; new principles would come into being and gather strength-thence a new power, new hopes, and a brighter and a happier destiny. The moral world would no longer be without a sun. Eternity would cease to be a blank and a dreary void. The pall which darkens over your domestic affections would pass away. And alike for the friend of your bosom, your departed sires, and your cherished, guileless, and happy children, for yourself and your kind, you would have a prospect fraught with eternal good: you would entertain a hope that, in the darkest passage of their life they were under the eye of omnipotent love, and would be wisely and gently conducted through the transient scenes of this feverish state of trial, into an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.'

And this hope you may lay hold of without the surrender of one manly feeling, --without bowing the knee to priestcraft, or bending the neck to the yoke of creeds. • Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' You need only to yield your heart to the wisest, the gentlest, the most disinterested of teachers, and you will find your wants satisfied, your mind expanded and invigorated, and your breast filled with the moral harmonies of earth and heaven. To whom, then, will you go but unto Christ, for he hath the words of eternal life?' Can you be content to turn away from him; to a teacher and a system, the very utmost of whose profession is, to make you the chief of animals '?


I am not surprised that Owenism should have set itself in determined hostility to the Christian religion. If that is true, if there is truth in its fundamental principles,-if, as it teaches, there is a primary Intelligence ; if that Intelligence is the Father and Guardian of the universe ; if Jesus Christ came from him on a message of mercy and love to man; if man is held responsible for his actions as having power to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly before his Maker; if the more intimate relations of domestic life are founded on divine ordinations, and partake of the perpetuity of that state for which they were mainly designed to prepare man; and if the human race are not destined to moulder away as the leaves of autumn, but to rise to another, a renovated and an endless existence,—then is Socialism false; and so far as any one of these suppositions is the implication of a reality, so far is the ground narrowed on which Socialism has taken its stand. Accordingly, Socialists make it a chief part of their occupation, both by speaking and writing, to bring Christianity into discredit and contempt. They have fairly put the issue as between its truth and the truth of Socialism. They have staked the existence of their own system on the destruction of the religion of Jesus Christ. And it is fit that men should know the alternative, and especially that those should know it who may feel any inclination towards their doctrines. Owenism will not permit that you should be at the same time Christians and Socialists. It is a war of extirpation which it wages against every form of Christianity. It denounces it as false, as having been tried for 1800 years and proved futile,"* nay more, as being the csuse of most, if not all, the evils which exist in the world.'+ And not only would it wrest Christianity from society by the force of hardy and dogmatical assertions, but in the moral, or rather immoral atmosphere which it creates and throws around all who come within its influence, it seeks to poison, by the contagion of its scornful mockings, all those pure and delicate sympathies which constitute no small part of the gospel life in the soul of man. Most seriously, therefore, does it become every one who has found Christianity a good, to ponder the grave exchange which Socialism proposes; to sit down and soberly count the cost before he passes over into the camp of Socialism; and it may admit of a doubt whether it is wise in the professed follower of Christ, after he has become acquainted with the doctrines, proposals, and spirit which it presents, to venture near the precincts where its influences are dispensed. The least injurious result of even such an approach would be a waste of time.

Owenism has itself, as I have intimated-put the issue thus-Christianity is false, and, therefore, Owenism is true ;-Owenism is true, and, therefore, Christianity is false. This, it must be admitted, is a bold and chivalrous method of warfare ; but I am mistaken if it is not more rash than safe. It thus lays itself open to a double attack. Prove the religion of Jesus, you disprove Owenism ;-or you may assail Owenism on its own independent grounds. Challenged as one of those Christian ministers, against whom and against whose teachings it levels its bolts, I have taken it in both its ways of assault, and, so far as the occasion permitted, proved that neither is Christianity false, nor Owenism true. Indeed Owenism, with all its vaunted certainty,

* Clarke's Christian Looking Glass. + Book of the New Moral World, 1838.

« ForrigeFortsett »