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But, on the other hand, suppose the members to be deeply interested in religious matters, but belonging to different and hostile sects, would there be harmony in the phalanx ? O, they would tolerate each other's differences ! Toleration is, however, the very thing which is impossible to a sincere and earnest mind, for any thing which is not held to be indifferent. Now, you must either make the members more interested in something else than they are in religion, so much so, that they become indifferent to religion, and then the phalanx fails through religious indifference; or you must suffer them to hold religion to be the paramount consideration, the one thing needful, and then toleration is out of the question. Sincere, earnest individuals, members of different communions, will not, cannot, have that warm, cordial fellow-feeling without which the Fourier phalanx cannot operate. So again, differences of faith and worship would alienate one phalanx from another. The Protestant phalanx will hold no intercourse with the Catholic, and the Calvinistic phalanx and the Unitarian will be merely two phalanxes drawn up for battle. The same remarks are applicable to all other divisions. If, then, we are to have association at all, under any circumstances which can promise any thing, we must get rid of sectarianism, and have one only Catholic Church.
In our view, contrary to the views of the associationists, the Church is the highest, the paramount association; and without unity, harmony, in that, it is in vain to look for it in any thing below it. We can never consent to an order of things which would raise industrial associations above the Church, or render our interest in what concerns our industrial relations superior to our interest in what pertains to our relations to the eternal God, and to the world to come. The religious interests, represented by the Church, must always be, in every normal state of society, the great and engrossing interests; if they are so, you can effect nothing in subordinate interests, while in relation to these religious interests you are divided, separated, alienated, and hos
tile. Our first duty, then, is, if we would effect any thing by way of association, to return to the unity of the Church, through which we may come to one faith, one baptism, one calling, one spirit. Having, thus, unity in that which is highest, we may easily obtain it in that which is lowest. We pray our associationists to consider this, and learn that the Church question is the first and paramount question. Return to the unity and catholicity of the Church, and then ?
? And then, what? Perhaps then it will be found that the phalansterian organization of society will not be necessary; perhaps then it will be found that to organize society, with a special view to wealth and enjoyment, is not, after all, either the Christian method, or that which man's highest good here or hereafter demands. But be this as it may, we shall have then an authority competent to resolve our doubts and to direct our labors.
It is strange how slow we are to believe Him who rebuked us for being troubled about many things, and declared that “one thing only is needful.” If we would diminish the poverty and suffering of the world, we should not labor to multiply material riches, or to facilitate the acquisition of this world's goods, but to restrict men's bodily wants, and turn their activity in a moral and spiritual direction. St. Bernard, living on the water in which pulse had been boiled, laboring at the head of his monks, is more to be envied than Apicius at his feast ; and far better was it for Lazarus, who begged the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table, than for the rich man who fared sumptuously every day. On wishes, wishes grow; one desire gratified, a stronger takes its place; one demand answered, another and a greater is made. The richest man in this world's goods has more wants he cannot satisfy, than has the poorest beggar himself; and to die of starvation is not more terrible, view the matter rightly, than to die of a surfeit. You must once more make voluntary poverty honorable, and canonize anew, not your rich old sinner, gorged with the spoils of the widow and orphan,- whose
eyes stand out with fatness, whose heart vaunts itself against the Lord, but the man who voluntarily submits to poverty, that he may lay up riches in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. You cannot serve God and mammon; and the Fourier attempt to reconcile the service of the one with that of the other will turn out a miserable failure, and cover with merited disgrace all concerned in making it.
God has told us what is the kingdom of heaven, in what it consists, and how we may enter therein. He has not left us to the dim, uncertain light of our own unillumined minds, but has himself pointed out the way ; has himself given us the law which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We must follow his law, walk in his way, or all our efforts, however well meant, however sincere and earnest, will be worse than vain. O, why can we not consent to believe that God is wiser than man, and that his thoughts are above our thoughts, and his ways better than our ways ? Believe me, my friends, we show more wisdom in adhering to God's word, in following his Church, than we do in leaving the fountain of living waters, and hewing out cisterns for ourselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Raise man above the world, if you would make him blessed while in the world.
ART. III. — Theory of Morals : An Inquiry concerning
. the Law of Moral Distinctions, and the Variations and Contradictions of Ethical Codes. By RICHARD HILDRETH. Boston: Little & Brown. 1844. 12mo.
When an author tells us, in his preface, that his work is written in strict accordance with the inductive method of investigation, we are sure, if his work concerns religion or morals, that he is either about to disgust us with his nonsense, or to shock us with his blasphemy. Mr. Hildreth, in this brief treatise on Morals, succeeds in doing both. Only the rank infidelity of his doctrine, and his blasphemous sneers at the existence of God, in every sense in which his existence is distinguishable from that of Nature, and at all who believe in God and rely on his providence and grace, give it sufficient character to render one pardonable for even taking the trouble to condemn it. It is an exaggeration, in morals, of what Mr. Parker's “Discourse on Matters pertaining to Religion" is in theology; and, without the grace to confess it, is as absurd as Bentham's Utility, as skeptical as Hume, and as positively atheistic as D' Holbach.
Mr. Hildreth begins his work by condemning all those moralists who believe in the eternal distinction between good and evil; and by assuming that all our knowledge is confined to a knowledge of our own constitution; that we do not, and cannot, know things in themselves, but merely what they appear to us ; that is to say, we can know only our own subjective modes and affections. And after having assumed this, he has the consummate impudence to talk of morals, of moral distinctions, of justice and injustice, of virtue and vice ! “ The constitution of our own nature," he tells us, “not the absolute constitution of things, is the proper object of human research; and only in the constitution of man can we find, if we find at all, the origin of human opinions and actions."
So all in the life of man originates in man, and we need not to look beyond man himself, for the explanation of his history. Man, then, must be sufficient for himself; then, so far as concerns himself, in the place of God! With all this for his point of departure, it is easy to foresee, our author must ultimately arrive NOWHERE.
Let the matter be understood. Mr. Hildreth promises us a Theory of Morals. Morals must have some foundation ; but he assigns them no foundation, or, at most, only such foundation as they may have in the constitution of man himself. The morals, then, of which he can, at best, give us a theory, whether true or false, are not morals in the proper sense of the term, but only what man, as he now is, holds to be morals. That is, he gives us not a theory of morals, but a theory of men's NOTIONS of morals. But as we can know nothing beyond ourselves, the truth or falsity of these notions, objectively considered, we can never know; therefore we can never know whether what we call moral really be moral or the reverse.
This is to begin a theory of morals by denying the possibility of any science of morals. All morality nescesarily presupposes an objective law, - a law out of man, above man, and to which man is accountable ; which he is under obligation to obey; obedience to which constitutes his virtue, and the rectitude of his act, and disobedience to which constitutes his vice, and the injustice of his act. The conception of this law, to which we are accountable, is essential to the very idea of morality. Without conceiving of this law, no moral character, or moral distinction, is in the remotest degree conceivable. Is there such a law ? Is it known or knowable? What does it enjoin? If there be no such law, or if no such law is or can be known by us, then man is not a moral being, and it is sheer nonsense to talk of a theory of morals.
Mr. Hildreth nowhere recognizes a Moral Law, nor even a Moral Lawgiver. Duty is a word not needed in his vocabulary; accountability is a conception he does not appear even to have entertained. He has studied Benthamism till his head is more confused, if possible,
VOL. I. NO. III.