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Art. II. — Church Unity and Social Amelioration.

The great majority of our wise and liberal politicians, and not a few of our equally wise and liberal clergy, whose god is what they call toleration, profess to regard the division of the Christian world into separate and hostile communions as a very great blessing, and altogether preferable to a state of unity and catholicity; because these hostile communions, these jarring and rival sects, tend, by their mutual ambition and jealousies, to check and restrain each other, and thus prevent any one from gaining the preponderance. In their view, all communions are sects, and one, perhaps, not more or less so than another. There is no true church communion, separation from which constitutes sectarianism, but all communions are alike sectarian ; and the aim of every friend of liberty should be, to prevent any one of them from gaining the ascendency, and swallowing up or suppressing the rest.

Now, what is the secret thought of these friends of sectarianism? Why, it is that the Christian church is a disease in the social body, which, since we cannot expel it altogether, we must study to break up, and scatter through the system as much as possible, so that it may not concentrate its virulence on any one point. This was avowed to us in just so many words, the other day, by the excellent conductor of one of our city religious newspapers, which bears the name of Christian, and makes more than ordinary pretensions to piety, spirituality, and Christian philanthropy.

Now, what can more completely demonstrate a total want of faith in the church of God? If men believed that the church was founded by God himself, and that the Son of God, who is God, is its head, and always with it, – that it was founded by Infinite Wisdom and Love, and must needs be protected by the same Infinite Wisdom and Love, for the express purpose of exercising authority over men, even over their very consciences, could they regard it as a disease, or fear that its power could ever be too great, or in any possible contingency become dangerous ? In plain terms, if they believed the church to be God's church, and its authority God's authority, could they possibly believe it necessary to guard against it, to interpose barriers to its progress, and to place restraints on its powers ? Of course not. They do, then, really believe the church to be of man, of human origin and growth, and, like all things human, liable to abuse, and therefore needing to be restrained. The age, we are aware, is bold in its blasphemies, and all but boundless in its impieties; but we doubt whether, in its sublime politics, it would dare contend that we should restrain within due bounds the power of the All-Wise and Merciful God, and that some safeguards against the tyranny of the Almighty should be sought out. Evidently, therefore, the age regards the church as purely human.

Then, again, if these politicians and liberal clergymen believed the church to be of God, to be a Divine Institution, they would regard as evil whatever tended to break its unity, and for the very reason, that, in breaking its unity, they weakened its power, and impeded its operations. They would see and feel, that, the more they extended the power of the church, the further would they extend the kingdom of God on earth; for they would understand by the church the visible instrument, in the hands of the Redeemer and Saviour, of extending and consolidating.his moral dominion over the hearts and consciences of men. Their jealousy of church dominion, and their friendship for sectarianism, both go to prove that they are no believers in the church, that they hold that the church has no office to perform in the affairs of mankind, that it is not needed for their moral progress, but is itself a moral disease, of which it would be desirable to be cured altogether, if possible. And yet, these men would be thought to be pious men, and would take it as a proof of our extreme illiberality, nay, of our utter want of Christian charity, if we questioned their right to be called and treated as Christians !

One hardly knows what to think. Infidelity, incre

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dulity, indifference, and, what is worse than all, a cold, freezing rationalism, which can hardly claim to be as near to faith in Christ as the old-fashioned Deism, but which nevertheless is baptized, christened, with the Christian name, and claims to be Christianity in its greatest purity and simplicity, have taken so deep and so strong a hold on the community, that one hardly dares speak in the name of Christ, and for Christ's church, lest men straightway propose that he should be put into a strait jacket, or sent to the lunatic asylum.

We read, the other day, the speeches and proceedings of a Fourierist convention in the city of New York. Its president was an old and intimate friend of ours; several of the speakers were individuals with whom we have been often associated, and for whose sincerity we would vouch with our life. These men have, no doubt, high and benevolent aims, and really believe they are pursuing a course likely to benefit humanity. There these men met and repelled, with great indignation, the charge of infidelity, or of unfriendliness to Christianity, brought against Fourierism, and resolved that Fourierism is Christian, and that whoso says to the contrary is a slanderer. All very fine, Gentlemen, but who has constituted you judges of what is Christianity, and who will vouch for your own Christian faith, or be our surety that you yourselves are not, under the name of Christianity, setting forth as rank infidelity as was ever set forth by Paine, Volney, or Baron d'Holbach ? We see in your speeches nothing but a subtle Pantheism, or a disguised Epicureanism. Your very starting point is at the opposite pole from Christianity, and your method is directly the reverse of that enjoined by the ever-blessed Son of God. You assume the perfection of human nature, the essential holiness of all man's instincts, passions, and tendencies, and contend that the evil in the world comes from causes extraneous to man; from causes which restrain, repress, his natural instincts and passions, and hinder their free, full, and harmonious development. This is your starting-point. Christianity, all the world knows, teaches that evil comes from within,

from man's abuse of the freedom essential to his being as man, and that, in consequence of this abuse, man's nature has become exceedingly disordered, his appetites and affections depraved, his moral tastes vitiated, so that he craves and relishes the meat that perisheth, rather than the meat that endureth unto everlasting life. This is its starting point, and yet, though you directly contradict it, we must not question your soundness as Christian believers, lest we be guilty of slander !

Christianity, again, is a system of means divinely devised and instituted for the recovery of man from sin, his restoration to justice and sanctity, and his growth in knowledge and love. This system of means you reject, and substitute therefor the discoveries of Fourier, and for the Christian Church, its ministries, sacraments, and disciplines, the Fourier phalanx, with groups, series, and alternations of labor. Not the Son of God has disclosed the law of life, not prophets and apostles have discovered the laws by which man is to be recovered, and social harmony produced, – but one Charles Fourier, a merchant, or merchant's clerk, of Lyons. And yet, you are good Christians, and it is a slander to question the eminently Christian character of Fourierism !

Christianity assumes that the evil originates in man's abuse of his freedom, that here is the cause of that evil in nature and outward circumstances, which reacts upon him with such terrible vengeance; it therefore proposes, as its method of recovery, to lay the axe at the root of the tree, to cut off the evil in its source, by purifying the heart, out of which are the issues of life. Teaching that our appetites, passions, and affections are disordered, depraved, and therefore not to be trusted, it lays down, as its first and great command, Deny thyself, take up the cross, and follow the Master. It would correct the outward by first correcting the inward, bring man into universal harmony by bringing him spiritually into union with God. Let man be right internally, and nothing in the outward will be evil to him, for all things work together for good to them that love the Lord. You reverse this; the natural instincts, appetites, pas


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sions, and affections of man, you hold, are all only so many revelations of the will of the Creator, and the fact that man possesses these is a sure indication that it was the will of God that they should be gratified. Instead of saying, DENY THYSELF; you say, very properly, taking your point of departure, PLEASE THYSELF; and if thou canst not do it in society as it is, then reform, remodel, reorganize society, so thou canst please thyself, gratify, to the fullest, each and all of thy passions. If thou art inclined to chastity, and canst satisfy thyself with being the husband of one wife, or the wife of one husband, well and good, — join the group of the constant; if not, if thou hast a craving after change and variety, and wouldst have a wide experience, pass on to another group, instituted expressly for such as thou, and in which thou mayest, without fear or reproach, indulge thy taste for variety and change, to thy heart's content.*

* We do not overstate the matter. See Popular View of the Doctrines of Charles Fourier, By Parke Godwin, New York, J. S. Redfield, 1844, chapter VIII. Mr. Godwin, it is true, dissents from Fourier, for whom, however, he makes an elaborate apology ; but Mr. Godwin is too able a reasoner, too clear-sighted, and too well acquainted with Fourier's doctrines, not to see, that Fourier, in what he says of the relation of the sexes, is perfectly consistent with his fundamental principles. Both Fourier and his disciple, Godwin, feel that their principles require them to make ample provision, within the phalanx, for satisfying the cravings and passions of the inconstant and disorderly, and both feel that the moral conscience of Christendom revolts at the bare thought of such a provision. They assume that all which man is naturally prompted to do it is right for him to do, and their study is to devise a method whereby man may easily, without let or hindrance, do whatever he is inwarilly prompt. ed to do. In other words, all man's desires are holy, and should have their legitimate satisfaction; the desires of individuals differ, and the object of the groups and series is to provide for this difference. If, then, a number of men and wonien are found in a phalanx, whose desires stretch beyond the Christian rule, why, they must form a group especially for the gratification of their inconstancy. The whole Fourier theory demands this, and our Fourierists should boldly avow it, or else abandon Fourierism itself. We have no respect for the man who timidly recoils before the consequences of his own system. If he cannot look all these consequences in the face without quailing, be they what they may, let him abandon his system. Fourierism is all summed up in these few words, “ Please thyself; and as thou canst not, in society as it is, – reorganize society,

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