Page images

and fruit

ful converse grow,

that is, whether the said boy was en- With a view, we should suppose, to gaged in “ what enlarges, purifies, and the extinction of churches, and the exalts our intelligence ?" And, far- consequent advancement of science, we ther, we should like to know, as Mr are presented with the following poetiFox plainly does not think the boy was cal aspiration. a Sabbath-breaker, wbether there be any employment less congenial to the

“Oh the days when we are freemen all, the

days when thoughts are free enlargement, purification, and eleva- To travel as the winds of heaven, towards their tion of the intelligence, than ringing a


When man is sovereign of himself, and to himbell and selling crumpets? And if so,

self the priest, we should like to know what that em

And crowned wisdoms recognise the manhood

of the least; ployment is, that at least we might

Then God shall walk again with man, have some of men's ordinary avoca- As in the noon of Paradise, a long time ago." tions noted down as unlawful to be prosecuted on Sabbath? We should Here we should think it pretty evilike to know also what reflections were dent, if the poet understands what he passing through the mind of Mr Fox, says, that in a more advanced and perwhen they were rudely dissipated by fect state of society all ministers of relithe chiming of the church ells, and gion are to be dispensed with, and each whether his intense dislike to them man is to be sovereign of himself, and does not very much arise from his im- priest to himself. It is true, there is patience at thinking that any body

here an introduction of God and Parawhatsoever should be so stupid as go dise, though manifestly for the sole to a church?

purpose of poetical machinery; for The People's Journal is not a whit how, in any proper sense, there can be more friendly to the church than to a God, and yet each man sovereign of the church bells. Seldom, we are told, himself, it is impossible to see.

It is is an advance made in science, but involved in the very relation between there is a clamour raised of danger to God and man, that God is the sovethe souls of men. And even this little reign of the man. Again, the Scripqualification is afterwards removed, ture representation of the Christian is, for, at p. 46, when science is again that he is a priest unto God. introduced, it is spoken of as a thing tion of the poet is, man a priest to which “churches seek to crush.” We himself—that is to say, the worshipper need scarcely say that this is in the last of himself - offering sacrifices to degree unfair, and in point of fact ut- himself-being a god unto himself. terly false. It is rather late, we hope, This is the religion of infidelity, which to revive such a prejudice against has long ago been tried and found churches. It is equivalent to the as- wanting. The aspiration of this poet sertion that religion and science can- is nothing else than that which Satan not co-exist, and that churches can only tried to put into the hearts of our first be tolerated in a time of ignorance. It parents—" Ye shall be as gods.” embodies, though it does not express the

The writers of the Journal, as a conviction, that allreligion, orrather re- matter of course, regard all kinds of ligion as held by all churches whatso- religion as alike. Every heart beatever, is untrue, and will be exploded in ing with humanity,” they say, the increasing light of science. We ap- looks the differences of creed” (p. 79). prehend that he who entertains such These differences are traced to " views has a very inadequate and dis- natical spirit seeking ever to exalt as torted knowledge, both of what religion an idol its own particular form of faith is, and of what science is. But we do and worship” (p. 133). In the exnot mean here to argue the matter pression of such sentiments as these, our object at present rather is to let our we are afraid the Journalists will meet readers know what are the principles with a more extended sympathy than maintained in the People's Journal, for some others to which they have than to weigh them, and to expose given utterance. And yet, to what do their dangerous character.

they amount ?

They are the expres

The no

[ocr errors]



a fa

sions of a man speaking with compas- Brahminism. It is said (p. 28), “ He sion of those who are contending about spoke no more; the man he addressed shadows. They pre-suppose that all had died while he was speaking, and religions are alike-simply because all a human soul was absorbed in the Inare false. And if it be wrong to con- finite Spirit.” We had previously tend for a particular faith and wor- thought that the doctrine of absorpship, what, as concerns religion, are tion was limited to Hindostan, and men to contend for? Can there be a were a little startled by its exhibition religion without a particular faith and in the popular literature of England. worship? If it be any thing more Whether ultimate absorption into the than a name or a dream, it must have great Brahm or the Infinite Spirit (as some way to express itself, and conse- they prefer to call him) and the ultiquently some form of worship; and if mate purity and happiness of the it be a belief in any thing, it must whole human race, signify the same have a particular form of faith, or, in thing, we do not care very much to other words, its belief can surely be enquire. The writers of the Journal, defined and expressed. It is a very however, profess a desire to promote common method with modern infide- the present happiness and social comlity to take exception, not so much at fort of Englishmen, and it might be the belief of a Christian, as at the par worth their while to examine practiticularity of it, for they have at least cally whether Christianity has not the common sense to know that if a more effectively served these ends in belief be not defined and particular, England than Brahminism has in Hinit must be inoperative and uninfluen- dostan, and consequently whether they tial. It would be well that Christians are serving the people by teaching the should not be quite so much frightened doctrines of the latter. as many of them are at the charges As will be anticipated, they have of bigotry and sectarianism, which, in no appreciation of the efficacy, and the sense in which they are frequently no relish for the exercise, and no feelemployed, express anything rathering of the need of prayer. This comes than criminality.

out very strongly in their criticism of It is very difficult to determine the anthem “God save the King." whether the writers of the Journal They say (p. 204), “It seems as if believe in the existence of sin and those who chaunt it were most earnestcrime, understanding by the former ly bent upon God's saving the soveoffences against God, and by the lat- reign, as if that were one of the most ter, the violation of our social duties. doubtful points in the world. They They seem to regard criminals as intercede with the Deity, chaunt to scarcely worthy of censure. The great the Deity, over and over again, as if offenders, in their estimation, are the they would hammer it into the hearchurches on the one hand, and the ing of Providence—as if salvation community on the other. As to sin, were wanted, not for the inheritor of they say little about it, and appear to all possible virtues, but for a desperegard it as non-existent. They have rate class of incorrigible sinners.” a confident belief, at all events, that We, too, feel somewhat doubtful as to sin will not be punished. They tell us the religious propriety of the Nationthat it has been established, both from al Anthem, but certainly not on the Scripture and reason, in a work of Dr ground that the sovereign does not S. Smith, that the whole human race need the prayers of her people, or will be restored to a state of purity that it is not their duty to render her and happiness (p. 99). Their be- this service. Perhaps the greatest liefs, however, on the future destiny evils under which we suffer socially and of mankind does not appear very con- politically, are traceable to a neglect sistent or well defined. The most defi- of the scriptural command to pray for nite statement on the subject with “ kings and for all that are in authowhich we have met in their volume, rity.” carries us at once into the regions of Any thing which has the aspect of



directly communicating religious in- ther an improvement upon the “ 'godstruction is to them an object of ab- less education" devised by statesmen horrence. A tale is introduced (p. 54) and politicians. Not only are youth apparently for the purpose of showing and grown men not to be taught relius how much more excellent a man a gion in schools, or colleges, or lecture play-actor is than a minister of the rooms, but they are not to be taught it gospel. The minister is represented at all. Religion, it seems, is an inas an inhuman monster, a profane stinct, and consequently not a subject swearer, having a heart dead to chari- of education. When men have been ty, and presenting nothing to the starv- taught all other things, it will spring ing but religious tracts. The actor is. as a natural fruit out of them all, and

man of active benevolence, and adorn them all. We would certainly while making no profession of reli- feel disposed to say that such expectagion, carrying on a mission of mercy tions as these run counter to all experiand tenderness. The design of such ence. But the disposition is checked a tale is abundantly obvious. How when we find what kind of fruits the far it is true to nature, let experience writers of the Journal characterize testify. We do not deny that there as religion. Many of our readers may is such a thing as a benevolent actor, be aware that, in his early youth, neither do we deny the existence of Shelley wrote and published a poem, hypocritical clergymen; but such are abounding with the most fearful and not proper representatives of their outrageous blasphemies. Even those class, and would not be given as such, who were indifferent to all religion except for the purpose of stirring up were shocked by its daring profanity. in the hearts of the outcast and forlorn Queen Mab stands unrivalled in its poor of our large towns a suspicion and ferocious atheism. Now of Shelley hatred against the only class of men and of this poem of his, the writers of capable of doing them any effective and the Journal say (p. 131), “I would permanent good, or who are at all take Shelley, and take him, not in his likely to attempt it. This is empha- more mature state, but in his poetic tically the mission which the Church boyhood, when he was inditing the has now to undertake and carry on, fierce and ponderous commentaries of and we confess we would have stopt Queen Mab; take him in his hostility ere now our somewhat disgusting reve- to our received forms of faith and lations of what others are attempting received authorities; take him when, to do for the masses of our large towns, in the first fervour of youth, he was were it not that we are urged on by throwing down the gauntlet to every the hope of contributing something to species of superstition, and waging stimulate the sluggish energies of against theology an interminable warChristians in this vast field of labour. fare; and I say that, even at that moThe matter is, we are solemnly con- ment, Shelley was a religious poet. vinced, one of most pressing urgency. Whatever is just, true, and beautiful The call is “ now or never.

in human feelings, as it flows out toThe Journalists give us their method wards the vast universe of which we of making men religious. They say are a portion—whatever is most en(p. 133), “The best course would be nobling in the principle of love towards to enlarge their minds, to give some- all beings—whatever tends to show thing like training to the powers and the advance in human nature, and even capabilities they possess; to lead them in unconscious being—we have in that to greater knowledge of the truths of persecuted and condemned Queen Mab nature around them—to expand and a demonstration that if Shelley were raise their thoughts; and then, in this an atheist, he was an atheist whom a growth of the mind, the religion would God might love, and in whom we may come of itself, if they have the ele- perceive a brother.” Now we are ments of religion in their nature ; it quite prepared to admit that the reliwould come to them, for it belongs to gion of Shelley was the religion inthe human constitution." This is ra- stinctive in the human constitution.


The Scriptures attest it when they say, ligion,” they say, “is that condition in * The carnal mind is enmity against which the mind of man attains to its God, and is not subject to the law of noblest elevation and its broadest views God, neither indeed can be." And if --when it traces laws in the natural so, there can be little doubt that the and in the moral universe—when it has method of training the human mind glimpses of the great order of things suggested by the Journal would pre- that every where prevails—when it sent us pretty uniformly such results relies on the beneficent operation of as we find in Shelley. It were well that those laws—and feels itself a portion such a truth as this were more deeply of one great whole, bound together by pondered, and that men everywhere the principles of vital being," &c., (pp. should act upon the conviction, that 130-1.) Their view of religion, as without early and careful religious here expressed, seems to combine in some training, we cannot expect religious measure those developed in Combe's

Unless, indeed, we get so láti- “ Constitution of Man,” and those more tudinarian in our views of religion as recently brought out in the “ Vestiges of to hold with the writers of the People's the Natural History of Creation.” Of Journal in regard to the principles both these works, they elsewhere exdeveloped in Queen Mab—“if that be press a very unqualified adıniration, and not religion, there is no religion on indeed their moral philosophy and the face of the earth.”

We have now

theology may be safely asserted to be got, we think, to the ultimatum of these exclusively derived from them. Of the writers. Their view of religion, as ex- Vestiges they say, “What denunciapressed in our last quotation, is, that tions of impiety were hurled against the it consists in denying the existence of author about Materialism—what ena God—in casting ridicule upon, and deavours were made to heap obloquy uttering horrid blasphemies against the against him, because what he had adbeing and attributes of that God who vanced in his book was thought to is revealed to us. Religion is, that each endanger certain theological doctrines ! man becomes a god unto himself—the Positions laid down in that work deification of human nature, or of na- which had previously been recognised ture in general. This was the reli- as the results of science, and concurred gion of the French Revolutionists. in by all who had made geology their And we confess some measure of study, such as the gradual formation alarm, when we think that it is be- of the world,” &c., (p. 34.) Surely it coming the religion of so many of our is scarcely necessary to say, that all common people, the artisans of our this is utterly untrue. The author of large towns. It is dreadful even to con- the Vestiges has found his opponents template the possibility of the scenes in the men of science who have conenacted on the wide stage of France victed him of erring quite as much from being renewed within the shores of these ascertained truths, as from the Britain. Yet there can be little doubt truths of revelation. It has been provthat where such principles are cherish- ed against him, not only that he is a ed and acted upon, they must issue in materialist, but that his assumptions such results. There is nothing which are glaringly inconsistent with known tends so much to harden the heart, and facts, and that he is mainly ignorant to produce that intense selfishness of the science he professes to teach. which terminates in deeds of general The danger which was apprehended massacre, as the deification of nature, from his work, and the People's Jourespecially of human nature. When nal proves it to be a real danger, was man ceases to believe in God, he ceases that men

even more ignorant than to have human sympathies. Love to himself, would take his assumptions as man is the result and fruitoflove to God. true, and employ them for the purpose

In the religious belief of these wri- for which they are eminently fitted. ters the existence and the government

It is not without its use to notice in of a God has no place. In regard to this closing this exhibition of the religious they leave us in no doubt. 6. True res principles of the People's Journal, several points of contact with Puseyism gained nothing which they had not." and Popery. It is an old adage, that This would do for a lamentation over extremes meet, and we have here a new the evil effects of the Reformation. exhibition of its truth. The rampantin- William Howitt is anxious to restore fidelity of the Journal has many views to the people the May-day festivities. -indeed almost all their practical He sighs for the restoration of the views in thorough harmony with Pusey- Book of Sports, by which the Stuarts ism. Its mode of alleviating the condi- of old thought to beguile the Scottish tion of the people is the same as theirs people of their religion. The scheme

-with some slight difference, perhaps, was not ill devised. It is surely omin, in the modes they would respectively ous of evil times, to find the modern take to educate the young. They are disciples of Laud working hand in both strenuous advocates for an undiscri- hand with infidels, for the accomplishminating beneficence to the poor, and ment of the same wicked purpose. for the multiplication of sights and 2. What are the educational views of games wherewith to amuse them, Nay, the People's Journal ? so accommodating in this way are the On this subject it is happily not writers of the People's Journal, that necessary that we should long detain they express a longing desire for the our readers. Though the question is restoration, in all their integrity, of the to us one of vast and increasing in, popish holidays. After the quotations terest, a criticism on this periodical is we have made, what do our readers not the most fitting occasion for the think of the following? The title of full consideration of it. The educathe essay is “ Easter Monday. Foot- tional views of the present age, are the ball playing in the last century." religious and irreligious. Their parti“ With the exception of Christmas, zans respectively hold, that religion Easter was and is the greatest festival ought to impregnate and form a part of the Catholic Church. The occasion of all education, or that religion is the most joyful that can be conceived should not be taught at all, but left as -the rising of Christ from the tomb, the proper work of ministers, who may the promise and evidence of immortal overtake it as best they can. The life to every child of Adam. There is views of the writers of the Journal nothing calculated to inspire so much differ from both of these. They have joy-so much rapturous confidence--so no place for religion at all. It is left much grateful love to God and our Sa- to spring up instinctively; and if it do viour,” (p. 197.) Thus it is seen how not spring up at all, perhaps, so much well superstition and infidelity get on the better. To give a harmony and together. There is the strongest pos- acceptance to their principles, they sible objection to people frequenting hold that there is nothing in human church-to the circulation of religious nature which requires to be checked tracts—to teaching Bible truths, but it and corrected. Education with them is a most praiseworthy thing to exhibit consists in fostering and giving grateful love to God and our Saviour, strength to the impulses of our nature. by playing foot-ball on Easter Monday, They ridicule the idea of its being in any

Is not the following also an admir- sense a corrective. Thus, “ It is well able piece for the Puseyites? It is said in Combe's work on Man, that from the pen of William Howitt, gathering knowledge is to the mind of “With all our progress, we have not man what gathering honey is to the progressed into half the ease and gaiety bee; and this deserves to be regarded that our ancestors possessed. With as the foundation truth of education. all our improvements, we have not im- Fortunately we do not interfere with proved on their habit of enjoying them- the bees in their work as we do with selves. With all our triumphs of ma- human intelligences in their work. If chinery and of knowledge, we have won we did, it is to be feared that the no leisure, no happiness, not even our world's supply of honey would be very daily bread. We have lost all that much diminished in quantity, and deour ancestors possessed, and have teriorated in quality. We should be:

« PreviousContinue »