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saved; and if the first principle of the Protestant Church be true, then every Catholic is sure of damnation and nought besides. See how the Protestants dispose of one another.
(1.) All "unconverted" and positively wicked men are to be damned; God has no love for them, only hate.
(2.) All "unconverted" men, not positively wicked; they have no salvation in them; they may be the most pious men in the world, the most moral men, but their own religion cannot save them. They must have "faith,"—that is belief in the ecclesiastical theology—and be Church-members; that is, they must believe as Dr. Banbaby believes, and be voted into some little company called a Church, at the Old South or the New North, or some other conventicle.
(3.) New-born babies not baptized must be shut out from the kingdom of heaven, if not included in the kingdom of hell; such has been the doctrine of the Christian Church from the time of Justin Martyr, who I think first broached it seventeen hundred years ago, and it follows with unavoidable logic from the ecclesiastical notion of God and the ecclesiastical method of salvation. So Jesus must have made a great mistake when he took babies in his arms, and blessed them, and said, "Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven; "—he ought to have.said, "Suffer baptized children to come unto me," &c.
Now what confidence can you have in such a God, so unjust, so unloving, so cruel, and so malignant? I just now said that God is represented as transcending men in hate and malignity. Look at the matter carefully, narrowing the thing down to the smallest point. Suppose there are now a thousand million persons on the earth, and that only one shall be damned; and suppose that some day a hundred years hence, all the nine hundred and ninety-nine million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine of us are gathered in the kingdom of heaven, enjoying all the blessedness that Divine love can bestow on the vast faculties of man, still further enhanced by the first taste of immortal life; suppose that intelligence is brought to all and each of us that one man is miserable, languishing in eternal fire, to be there forever; suppose we are told that a globe of sand, big as this earth, hangs there before his comprehensive eye, and once in a thousand years a single atom is loosened and falls off, and he shall suffer the cruelest torment till, grain by grain, millennium after millennium, that whole globe is consumed and passed away; and yet then he shall be no nearer the end of his agony than when he first felt the smart. Suppose we are told it was the worst man of all the earth, that it was a murderer, a violator of virgins, a pirate, a kidnapper, a traitorous wretch, who, in the name of Democracy, sought to establish a despotism in America, to crush out the fairest hopes of political freedom which the sun ever shonp upon; or even it was an ecclesiastical hypocrite, with an atheistic heart, believing in no God, and loving no man, who, for the sake of power and ambition, sought to make men tremble at the ugly phantom of a wrathful Deity, and laid his unclean hands on the soul of man, and made that a source of terrible agony to mankind! When you are told that this man is plunged into hell for all time, is there a man who would not cry out against the hideous wrong, and scorn heaven offered by such a Deity? No! there is no murderer, no pirate, no violator of virgins, no New England kidnapper, no betrayer of his nation, no ecclesiastical hypocrite even, who would not reject it with scorn, and revolt against the injustice. But the ecclesiastical doctrine represents God as thus damning not one man, but millions of millions of men, the great majority of mankind, nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand, and those, too, often the best, certainly the wisest end most loving and pious men! Do you wonder then, that thoughtful men, moral men, affectional men, and religious men turn off with scorn from this conception of God? I wonder not at all. The fact that the majority have not done so only shows how immensely powerful is this great religious instinct, which God meant should be Queen within us.
Let me do no injustice. I admit the many excellent qualities ascribed to God in the popular theology; but remember this, that as much as the noblest words of the New Testament add to the conception of God in the worst parts of the Old Testament, just so much also do the savage notions from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, from the baser Psalms, and the Prophets, take away from the Father who is in Heaven, the Spirit who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth! In this "alligation alternate " one chapter of the Old Testament can adulterate and spoil all the blessed oracles of the New. Jesus is set off against Joshua; the whole of the Fourth Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, and many a blessed Parable, is nullified by a scrap from some ancient Jew who thought God was a consuming fire!
The Form of Religion demanded of men, in accordance with the ecclesiastical conception of God, certainly has many good things, but it is not natural Piety for its emotional part, the aboriginal love of God; nor natural Theology for its intellectual part, the natural Idea of God; nor natural Morality for its practical part, the normal use of every human faculty; but it is just the opposite of these; it has a sentiment against nature, thought against nature, practice against nature. In place of Love to God, with trust and hope, the most joyous of all emotions possible to man, it puts Fear of God, with doubt, and dread, and despair, the most miserable of all emotions; and in place of love to men, to all men, according as they need and we are able, it puts love only for your own little household of faith, and hate for all who cannot accept your opinions; for out of the ecclesiastical conception of God comes not only the superstition which darkens man's face, clouds his mind, obscures his conscience, and brutalizes his heart, but also the persecution which reddens his hand with a brother's blood. The same spirit is in Boston to-day that in the middle ages was in Italy and Spain. Why does not it burn men now, as once it did in Italy, in Spain, and in Oxford? It only lacks the power; the wish and will are still the same. It lacks the axe and faggot, not the malignant will to smite and burn. Once it had the headsman at its command, who smote and silenced men; now it can only pray, not kill.
Such being the Ecclesiastical Conception of God, such the Ecclesiastical Religion, I do not wonder it has so small good influence on mankind. Men of science, not clerical, turn off from such a God, and such a form of religion. They are less wise and less happy; their science is the more imperfect, because they do not know the Infinite God of the Universe, the Absolute Religion. With reverence for a great mind, do I turn the grand studious pages of La Place and Von Humboldt, but not without mourning the absence of that religious knowledge of God, and that intimate trust in Hini, which else would have planted their scientific garden with still grander beauty. I do not wonder that men of politics turn off from ecclesiastical religion, and are not warned from wickedness by its admonition, nor guided to justice and philanthropy by its counsels. Look at the politicians of America, England, France, all Christendom, and can you show me a single man of them in a high place who believes in the ecclesiastical conception of God, and in public ever dares appeal to the religious nature of man, and there expect to find justification of a great thought or a noble plan? No! when such politicians evoke the religious spirit, it is only to make men believe.that it is a religious duty to obey any tyrant who seeks to plunder a nation, to silence the Press of France, to crush out the life from prostrate Italy and Spain, to send Americans kidnapping in Pennsylvania or New England. The great men of science have broke with the ecclesiastical notion of God; men of great moral sense will have nothing to do with a Deity so unjust; while the affectional and religious men, whose "primal virtues shine aloft as stars," whose deeds are "charities that heal, and soothe, and bless" the weary sons of men, they turn off with disgust from the ecclesiastical God, whose chief qualities are self-esteem, vanity, and destructiveness. One of the most enlightened writers of the New Testament says, "God is Love." . " Yes," says the ecclesiastical theologian, "but he is also a Consuming Fiee; he gives all his love to the Christians who have faith in Christ, and turns all his wrath against the nonChristians who have no faith in Christ. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned."
If a man accepts this notion of God, he can never be certain of his own welfare hereafter; he may hope, he cannot be sure, for salvation does not depend on a faithful use of talents or opportunities; but on right belief and right ritual. And when neither the intuitive nor the reflective faculties afford any test, who knows if his belief is right? The Jews are to be rejected for their faith in Moses and the Prophets. The Fourth Gospel makes Jesus say that all before him "were thieves and robbers; "—I think he never said it. Paul repudiated Peter, if not also James and John; he was a dissembler, and they only "seemed to be somewhat;" while the author of the Book of Revelation thrusts Paul out of heaven, consigning him to the synagogue of Satan. Now if Paul and Peter and James and John did not know what faith in Christ meant, and could not agree to live in the same Church, and sit in the same heaven, can you and I be sure of admittance there?
While the ecclesiastical conception of God is thus inadequate to a thoughtful man's religion, we are yet told that we must never reform this notion! There is a manifest progress in the conception of God in the Biblical books; but in the Christian Church we are told that there must be no further step; we mu9t stop with Joshua. "Fear hath torment," says that anonymous, deep-hearted religious writer of the New Testament, seventeen hundred years ago; but " perfect love casts out fear." We are told we must not cast it out, but must have a notion of God, which we must fear! Shame on us! Mankind has made a mistake. We took a false step at the beginning. The dream which a half-savage Jew had of God we take for God's affidavit of his own character. We do not look on the World of Matter and Mind, to gather theuce a natural idea of God, only at the statements of certain men who wrote seventeen hundred or three thousand years ago, men who did well enough for their time, not ours.
All round us lie the evidences against the ecclesiastical conception of God, within lis are they yet more distinct.' The great mistake of the Christian Church is its conception of God. Once it was the best the nations could either form or accept. To-day it is not worth while to try to receive it. It is inadequate for Science, either the philosophy of matter or man, explaining neither the condition, the history, nor yet the origin of one or the other. It is unfit for Religion; for Piety, its sentimental part—Theology, its intellectual part—Morality, its practical part. I cannot love an imperfect God, I cannot serve an imperfect God with perfect morality.
There will be no great and sufficient revival of religion till this conception be corrected. Atheism is no relief; indifference cannot afford any comfort; and belief makes the matter worse. The Churches complain of the atheism of Science; their false notion of God made it atheistic. You and I mourn at the wickedness of men in power; is there any thing in the ecclesiastical religion to scare a tyrant or a traitor? In high American office mean men live low and wicked lives, abusing the people's trust, and then at last, when the instincts of lust, of passion, and of ambition fail them, they whine out a few penitent words to a priest, on their death beds, with their last breath making investment for their future reputation on earth, and also in the Christian Church! For this mouthful of wind do they pass for better Christians than a whole life of eighty years of philanthropy gave Franklin the reputation for. Thus selfish and deceitful men are counted for saints by the Christian clergy, while the magnificent integrity of Franklin and Washington never gave them a high place in any Christian Church! You weep at the poverty of life in the American Church—thirty thousand ministers with right of visitation and search on all mankind, and no more to show for it! A revival of religion going on over the whole land—and a revival of the slave trade at the same time, and neither hindering the other! You mourn at the poverty of life in the Churches of America, but the Church of Christendom is no better—nay, I think the Church in the Free States of America is its better part; the Christian Church abroad strikes hands with every tyrant, it treads down mankind, nor will it be ever checked, while it has such a false conception of God.
Under us is the Earth, every particle of it immanent with God; over us are the Heavens, where every star sparkles with Deity; within us are the Heavens and the Earth of human Consciousness, a grander revelation of Deity in yet higher form. These are all of them a two-fold testimony against the Ecclesiastical Conception of God. Not one of them has a whisper of testimony in favor of atheism; all are crowded with evidence of the Infinite God,—First Good, First Perfect, and First Fair, Father and Mother to you and me, to all that were, that are, that shall be, leading us to life everlasting.
THE PHILOSOPHICAL IDEA OF GOD AND ITS RELATION TO THE SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS WANTS OF MANKIND NOW.
Perfect love casteth out fear.—1 Johh iv. 18.
The religious element is so strong that it always will act both in its instinctive and its reflective form, for though here and there an eccentric man neglect or treat it with scorn, no race of men ever does so; nay, no nation, no little tribe, no considerable company of men. There are a thousand devotees who give up all to the religious faculty where there is not a single atheist who sacrifices that to something besides. Like the two other great Primal Instincts—the hunger for bread, which keeps the