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IS SECULARISM CONSONANT WITH THE HIGHEST AMOUNT OF SOCIAL
“If we might be permitted to * throw over of his convictions." These quotations, from our shoulders for a moment that mantle of aller the acknowledged founder of the secular wear gracefully, we should represent Reason and theory, we presume may be fairly taken as Faith as twin' born; the one in form and fea containing the essence of the system. It tures the image of maply beauty, the other of will be our aim, in examining their claims to feminine grace and gentleness; but to each of whom, alas ! is allotted a sad privation. While assent, to deal with them with candour and the bright eyes of Reason are full of piercing and fairness, using argument as powerful as restless intelligence, his ear is closed to sound; possible, while we studiously avoid the use of on her sightless orbs, as she lifts them towards epithets and personalities derogatory to the heaven, the sunbeam plays in vain. Hand in dignity of these pages. Truth we seek, hand the brother and sister, in all mutual love, and, in the free and unfettered conflict of ours, day breaks and night falls alternate; by opinions, truth will prevail. Such is our day the eyes of Reason are the guide of Faith, faith, and for such we labour, knowing that and by night the ear of Faith
is the guide of the Divine blessing will attend all who are Reason. Ås is wont with those who labour under truth-seekers in sincerity. these privations respectively, Reason is apt to be eager, impetuous, impatient of that instruction We shall conduct the examination of this which his infirmity will not permit him readily question, in the first place, as a matter of to apprehend; while Faith, gentle and docile, is ever willing to listen to the voice by which alone pure reason; that is, as involving a collectruth and wisdom can effectually reach her.".
tion of abstract principles. The secular Reason and Faith," by Prof. H. Rogers. theory establishes itself upon the outwork“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his ing of moral, intellectual, social, political, way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy and physical science. This view is correct, Word."
Psalm cxix. 9. “Secularism,” we are informed by“James,"
we may assume, from its agreement with the p. 191, " is that phase of modern free thought propositions 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, presented by developed by Mr. G. J. Holyoake, and of
" James," p. 192. That which is established which he is considered, both by its disciples upon the principles of any science must, in and opponents, the foremost exponent.” We all its outworkings, be manifest as a practithen look for the formal definition of Secu- cal development of those principles. Its larism in the acknowledged authorities, and want of coincidence with those principles, in happily they are furnished to us in the any one particular, endangers the whole words of this gentleman at the Cowper- theory, even when the particular disagreestreet discussion, January 20th, 1853:* ment is in itself insignificant, or of little im" That which pertains to this world, which portance; but should that want of coincirelates to human life and welfare, which can
denee arise in one or more of the first prinbe tested in time, by facts of nature, exper theory, in this case the whole structure is
ciples or foundation-truths of that science or rience, and consciousness, is what is meant by the term 'Secular ;' * * * when a man
dissipated, and vanishes from the region goes, as it were, to confront destiny, and fact, although it may for a time find a place submit, it may be, to the interrogations of in the dreamlaud of its fond advocates. the Eternal, he must stand dumb unless he that the moral nature of man is capable
The secular theory assumes, without proof, has thought for himself. Nothing can sustain him but the habit of independence ; no
the greatest amount of improvement by the thing can give him courage but innocence ;
aid of reason and the cultivation which nothing can support him but the integrity
reason can supply, without extraneous as
sistance of a supersensuous nature. Upon * See“ Report," p. 22,
this point we join issue with the secularist. We believe, with him, in the necessity of He claims the experiences of the present moral purity, or that obedience to "the moral life as facts the groundwork of all his laws on which happiness depends,” in order actions; to him the past and the future are to secure " the highest amount of social matters of past or future speculation only; happiness." For man may possess the most he therefore accepts the limitation of pure perfect organization of his physical constitu- reason-in fact, it is his choice; and we tion-his intellect may be cultivated to the place ourselves upon his own chosen vantage highest attainable point of human excellence ground. But where, we would ask him, does -his opinion on social and political science unassisted reason find the “moral laws on may be received with oracular honours, and which happiness depends," obedience to which he may have acquired the wealth of a Cree- gives that innocence capable of supporting sus; but without that obedience to "the man with courage “to confront destiny," and moral laws on which happiness depends”- "submit" to the “may be " “interrogations the consciousness of possessing moral purity— of the Eternal”? His experiences are only he is not capable of the highest amount of sensuous; moral laws are not objective realisocial happiness, nor can its realization ever ties, by which the senses may be affected; become a matter of experience with him. they are supersensuous, therefore moral laws
Man is an imperfect moral agent : it is are no part of his experiences, consciousness, unnecessary for us to account for the cause or nature, and therefore, being“ impractical of this imperfection, sufficient for our present in his endeavours, the secularist seeks to purpose is the knowledge of the fact itself. know and to communicate to others a knowNone will, we presume, dispute the fact, its ledge of (what it is impossible for him to existence being patent to all possessing the know or to teach, according to his own funordinary powers and faculties of human na- damental maxim) the moral laws on which ture. Here the secular theory finds its sub- happiness depends." jects. Man, with an imperfect or impure All laws necessitate the existence of an moral nature, employing the imperfect laws authority competent to make and enforce of renovation that this impure nature of his them, and the existence of a standard by has invented, to produce a perfect moral which they are made. Moral laws, therefore, agent, or snch an obedience to the moral have their origin in a competent authority, laws on which happiness depends," as shall and imply a requisite standard. In this be consonant with the highest amount of also we are limited to reason; and the avesocial bappiness. Thus we have an impure nues of reason are the senses alone, as the agent, with impure means, achieving a per- secularist rejects the supersensuous. Man is fect result; that is, combined imperfections the only subject of reason, the only moral producing perfection, which is absurdity. agent in this part of our universe, therefore Apply this principle of action, and course of man must be the authority competent to thought, to mathematical reasoning, and we make these “moral laws on which happiness should have two equals producing an une- depends.” But these laws must be pure, or qual, and vice versa. Extend the principle they cannot be moral laws at all; and man still further, and its absurdity is increasingly is impure; therefore, the impure would be palpable, for two blacks shall make one required to make the pure, which is an abwhite, and two and two no longer shall follow surdity. Hence also the secularist makes the rule of schoolboy calculation, and, accord- man to be, as a moral legislator, at one and ing to Cocker, make four, but readily acquire the same time competent and incompetent, the power to become five, or any other num- which is fully. Moreover, the moral legisber the practical (!) theorist shall please to lator possesses power to enforce the law, and demand.
on its infraction to inflict the penalty; but We forget not that this question must be secularism is a "phase of modern free examined by pure reason-That no aid is to thought," the secularist “must stand dumb be received from supersensuous sources, with unless he has thought for himself.” “Nowhich to combat Secularism. For the present thing can sustain him but the habit of indewe adhere to these terms, and we desire the pendence;" but man is the moral legislator, secularist also to observe similar terms; fur- and has power to enforce the law and inflict ther, we dispute his right to any other terms. the penalty; therefore, man has power to enforce the law and be free, has power to inflict shown the inefficiency of Secularism to secure the penalty and be independent; be must this object, to point out what is “ consonant submit to the law, and think for himself with the highest amount of social bappiness.” respecting the truthfulness of that law, and This we shall do as briefly as possible, and the power which enforces it. Farther, every entreat the candid consideration of the secuman is equally the subject of reason, is equally larist, who is earnestly seeking for truth, to the moral agent, and equally the moral legis- this part of our argument, assuring him that lator; therefore, every man is equally the our object is not victory but his happiness. moral legislator to every other man ; and From the remarks we have already made, it every man is at the same time equally free is apparent that the origin or source of moral and independent of every other man : con- law is extraneous to human nature, moral tradictions and absurdities, evidencing the perfection being supersensuous or beyond the most egregious folly on the part of those nature and possible attainment of man in his who, possessing the ordinary powers and fa- present condition and organic constitution. culties of human nature, can so far deceive It becomes necessary, therefore, that we themselves with such incoherences. Truly, should seek for the standard and source of Secularism is the most unreasonable conglo- moral purity in a being whose nature, attrimeration of pretended reason ever presented butes, and actions exhibit, so far as we can to the world. If such are its legitimate apprehend them, all the necessary conditions fruits, abstractedly considered, what must be the subject demands. He should be uncreits grosser practical results ?
ated and eternal, otherwise there might be a Antecedent to all obedience there must be previous or subsequent existence of more law; and the idea upon which the law is perfect wisdom and purity, capable of devisformed must be pre-existent to that law, - ing purer laws and making larger demands must form the standard of perfection on upon his moral powers. He must be uniwhich the law is formed and obedience is versal in his knowledge and power; or beyond demanded. From whence does the secular- his sphere of knowledge and power another ist derive his standard of moral perfection? moral agent might exist whose nature and From man? Man is the only moral agent attributes might be far superior, and would he recognizes, because he is the only being be entitled to precedence as moral legislator. possessing reasoning powers-the only moral But with these attributes combined, such a agent whose existence is matter of experi-being must necessarily be the summum bonum ence to his sensuous nature; but man is an of all good; in a word, moral purity itself. imperfect moral agent; therefore, man is the Such a being in relation to man must be imperfect author of a perfect standard of supersensuous; and, as moral legislator to moral perfection, which is an absurd contra- man, the moral agent and subject of his diction. Moreover, the secularist rejects all moral government must necessitate the cresupersensuous evidences, agencies, and exist- ation of a medium of inter-communication ences; therefore, if man is not the author of between the governor and the governed. This the standard of moral perfection, it has no medium must be adapted to man's moral author, and is by consequence underived and organism; his moral powers must be reached exists from necessity—uncreated, underived, through his sensational faculties; and the and eternal, which are follies, the extrava- moral governor must assume those conditions gance of which is only equalled by the bold- of existence capable of affecting the sensaness with which that theory is put forth, tional faculties of man.
In other words, whose principles involve these and far more Deity must exist, and Deity must reveal himserious errors.
self to man as the moral governor of the We have shown that, according to pure universe. Hence we perceive the necessity reason unaided by supersensuous agencies, for a divine standard of moral perfection, “Secularism is not consonant with the highest and the necessity of revelation for the puramount of social happiness,” but involves pose of publishing the moral law to man, as contradictions and absurdities of the most the subject of moral government. glaring character, opposed in every respect have shown Deity as the authority competo the well-being of man, present and pro- tent to make the perfect moral law and spective. It now remains for us, having | enforce the penalty of its infraction;-we
have shown Deity to be in his own nature stances and condition of man, and so permathe standard of moral perfection, and revela- nent in their demands as to include all tion is proved to be the medium of commu- times, all places, and all men; and while nicating “ the moral laws on which happiness man is never relieved of the obligation to depends” to man, the searcher after that fulfil them, be is relieved of the despondency happiness.
likely to arise from unsuccessful efforts Moreover, the christian scriptures are towards perfect obedience by the atoning found on examination to possess all the efficacy of the love of Christ, and receives characteristics of a truly divine revelation; the imputed righteousness of Jesus as an they reveal to man the moral truths which additional motive to renewed effort and conwe have seen are necessary to “the highest tinued well-doing; so that, while his soul is amount of social happiness;” and the truths fixed on the supersensuous and perfect law, they reveal, whether within the limits of his efforts towards the realization of its prereason and experience or of a supersensuous cepts necessitate the daily and constant outand transcendental nature, all are equally working, in the business and intercourse of adapted to the condition of man, mentally, life, of those moral laws on which happiness morally, and physically. Deity therein ad- depends. Christianity is thus the only true dresses himself to man as a loving father to Secularism, as it alone seeks the greatest a froward and perverse child; now in the amount of happiness to the greatest number language of authority, and again in love,- of persons, by the easiest, safest
, and most at this time with punishment and stripes, reasonable means, and from the highest, and anon with all the yearnings of paternal purest, and best motives. affection he gently reproaches the ungrate
We hold that it is no valid argument ful child, and with the cords of love binds against Christianity to indicate the imperon him the fetters of willing obedience. His fections of persons professing Christianity: love is matchless, his wisdom is infinite, his the appearance is not the reality; appearlong-suffering, forbearance, and mercy are ances are shadowy and deceptive,---realities extended to the vilest ingratitude ever mani- are solid and substantial. Christianity is fested by prodigal, repentant man. His love what God made it-pure and perfect; proto man has become incarnate in the Son of fessing Christians are imperfect mortals, bis love; for Christ Jesus so loved the world seeking perfection; one is the substance, the as to give himself a ransom for our sins, other is the shadow—an important distincagainst that perfect“ moral law on which tion, and well to be marked by the truthhappiness depends.”
seeker. We, through him, receive justification from In conclusion, we may be permitted to the Moral Governor of the universe; possess- remark, without the least discourtesy or ing the imputed righteousness of Christ, vindictiveness to our secularist friends, that while we are relieved from the curse of the whatever there is in Secularism which is nero láw, which we cannot fulfil ourselves, we re. is not good ; and whatever there is in it of ceive this additional motive to be perfect be- good, and serviceable to man, is not its own, cause Christ is perfect. Therefore, all that but ungraciously stolen from Christianity, are in Christ are new creatures, freed from and paraded before the world as its own the bondage of the law of sin and death, invention. In fact, without the previous rejoicing in the glorious liberty of the gospel, existence of Christianity, and a highly culwalking in love, as love is the fulfilling of tivated state of civilization, the invention the law, and loving God with the whole of such a theory as Secularism is not posheart, and our neighbour as ourselves. sible.
The Christian religion, as exhibited in the “All scripture is given by inspiration of holy scriptures, we maintain on these grounds God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reis alone “consonant with the highest amount proof, for correction, for instruction in of social happiness," as it gives a perfect righteousness; that the man of God may be standard of moral perfection, a competent perfect, throughly furnished unto all good authority for moral legislation, a code of works.” moral laws perfect in their nature and uni
L'OUVRIER. versal in their adaptation to the circum- Birmingham.
AFFIRMATIVE ARTICLE.-IV. The present question is one of peculiar human power or human conception. Has importance, as it regards the investigation of Christianity accomplished these things? A a system which ostensibly involves the well- negative answer must be the unanimous rebeing of mankind. Numerous as are the sponse. What then follows? Its claims to systems that have flourished and decayed, divine origin, its assumed omnipotence and their tendency, with scarcely an exception, perfection, fall to the ground. Had Chrishas been to fetter the development of the tianity possessed these attributes, then the human mind, -to distort or suppress the subsequent development of Secularism or sublime dietates of reason,--and to pervert any other ism would have been unnecessary, man's real nature. It is true that man bas nay, even impossible, and this discussion progressed, but his progress has been, not in would in no sense have been requisite or consequence of any bygone system, which justifiable. was only a mechanical bondage of the past, In perusing “Rolla's” article upon the but in consequence of his powers of observa- negative of this question, we find that it is tion and reflection acting upon the objective principally composed of high sounding lanrealities and the phenomena of nature, and guage, but, like most bigh sounding things, exercising themselves independently, and it is very empty. His arguments are a often to the ruin of systems. The reason peculiar compound of assumption and special why past systems have so much impeded the pleading, and have signally failed to establish expansive and the onward march of the his position. It is asserted by this writer human intellect is, because they were gene- that, “Secularism is the most inadequately rally constructed and maintained to subserve defined thing known;"—that "it contradicts the interest, the ambition, or the bigotry of the first principles of rationality;" and that parties, because they were not in harmony “science has borne her testimony against with man's nature, nor constructed upon a it.” Such verbal assumptions as these, scientific basis.
wbich are presented without the shadow of Had Christianity, or any other system, an argument, will doubtless carry anything emanated from a Being possessing infinite save conviction to the thinking reader. Sewisdom, goodness and power, such a system cularism is a term clearly defined, not only must necessarily have been universal, perfect, in all secular writings, but in almost every and unique; neither could there at any future lexicon of the English language. Secularism period have existed the least possible neces- signifies that which pertains to this world sity for puny man to have exercised his only; it knows nothing of future, unseen finite capacities in order to conceive and worlds in which we shall exist; it knows introduce any other system. Had there been nothing of spiritualism or supernaturalism; any one so foolish and presumptuous as to but it compels the professors of these dochave dared the attempt, the boundless insig- trines not to occupy their time in asking nificance of his productions, when contrasted what Secularisın means—which cannot be with that which had emanated from Infinity, misunderstood by the meanest capacity-bat must at once have sealed their condemnation. in defining and proving their own case. Thus The magnitude of such folly would be but the burden of proof is placed on the right faintly indicated by an individual attempting shoulders, and truth made to have fair play. to supersede the meridian splendour of the Neither does Secularism conflict with science; noonday sun by lighting a candle. If Chris- on the contrary, it avails itself of all attaintianity, therefore, were an emanation from the able knowledge of all science, for the wellInfinite, then no human scheme or system being and happiness of this world. Secularcould for one moment have endured in its ism is, per se, the science of this world; that presence. Christianity must have cast every- which is not science or knowledge in the thing proceeding from man into the profound-positive is not Secularism. It leaves out all est shades of obscurity, insignificance, and mysticism, assumption, and conjecture, which contempt. Its omnipotence could not have is the peculiar and the unenviable province failed in producing everywhere all possible of theology. The assertion, then, that science good and happiness, infinitely beyond all bears testimony against Secularism is equi