« AnteriorContinuar »
But The Phalanx itself furnishes us the proof that the Fourierists, at least the American Associationists, do reject the Christian Church, and propose to substitute in its place Industrial Associations. The Church, according to St. Paul, is the body of our Lord, that in which is embodied the law of the spirit of life. The Associationists, whose organ The Phalanx is, in their address to the public, quoted by The Phalanx, against us, say,
“ But we take higher than this merely defensive ground; we have positive principles to teach ; we are propagandists; and while we refrain from mingling with the peculiar religious feelings of any sect or individual, we yet assert that the true organization of every sect is to be found only in the principle of Association. Religious truth is the principle of unity and harmony; but it cannot be realized in practice universally, without a correspondent unity of action in the sphere of worldly interests. Association is the true form for the practical embodiment of religious truth and love; and while attractive industry and unitary combination are not themselves religious unity, they are the body or collective form in which alone the ordinances of Christianity, the spirit of religion, the Universal Church, can be incorporated, practically, incessantlý; for, without the body, the spirit cannot be fully manifested on earth.” The Phalanx, p.
201. This, though expressed with great caution, is sufficiently explicit, when taken in connexion with what precedes it. The views of the Associationists, on the subject of the Church, are, so far as we can collect them, that there are certain great and eternal laws, according to which God has created and by which he governs the universe. These may be called NATURAL Laws. The prophets and seers of old times naturally or supernaturally discovered some of them, Jesus discovered and proclaimed several more of them, and Charles Fourier has discovered and proclaimed the rest. These laws are all of one unitary system, and, therefore, all harmonize. Hence, there is no discrepancy between the discoveries of Fourier and those of Jesus ; therefore, no discrepancy between Fourierism and Christianity. The Fourierist accepts the discoveries of Jesus,
and asks, as he thinks he well may, the Christian to accept the discoveries of Fourier as the complement of the others. But the mere discovery of these laws is not enough for their practical realization. The great superiority of Fourier over all his predecessors is, that he has discovered the practical method of realizing them, which is technically called ATTRACTIVE INDUSTRY, or Association. Now, this practical realization, or the adoption of Attractive Industry, will be the realization of the true Church, to which the Church which has thus far existed has been only a prelude, a sort of prophecy of what was to be in the fulness of times, at the second coming of Christ. We are sure that we state their views on this point correctly, though perhaps more nakedly than they would be willing to state them themselves.
We must be brief in our comments on this, for we are exceeding our limits. We remark, in the first place, that here is no recognition of supernatural power, no doctrine of grace, beyond the simple revelation of the Natural Laws. This was all that a Fourierist could demand; for, placing evil in ignorance, which disappears with the advent of science, he could see no necessity for any thing more than for the truth to be discovered and told. There was no moral disease in man to be healed, there were no obstructions to obedience to truth, when known, to be removed. All he wants is a prophet in his saviour ; he has no need that he should also be a priest and king. On this point he falls short of Christianity, and is Christian only in name.
We remark, in the second place, that the Church is looked upon as a human contrivance for practically embodying the truth discovered, not a divine institution supernaturally founded and sustained for the teaching of truth and the communication of life. As yet it has never existed, says The Phalanx, save in potentiâ, as a prophecy, not as a reality, - only as something that is to be, not as something which is. “We do not deny the spiritual truth of religion,” says Mr. Godwin, as quoted by The Phalanx. “We desire to organize a
body to receive that truth, - a practical reality, not a mockery.” So, thus far, religious truth has had no embodiment, has been no reality, but a mockery. And The Phalanx, in its innocence, quotes such statements as these, to prove that we did the Fourierists injustice in charging them with rejecting the Christian Church ! Really, The Phalanx makes the rejection more decided than we had supposed, and its defence has made the Fourierists appear more thoroughly infidel than we had ourselves believed.
Perhaps the writer in The Phalanx will feel hurt, if we do not take some notice of the novel church theory which he quotes from The Pathfinder, in which he inserted it some time since, in reply to some essays of ours on the Mission of Jesus and the Church, published in the Boston Christian World ; but, really, he must excuse us; we are tired of novelties; and the simple fact, that a theory of the Christian Church is new, is with us a sufficient reason for refusing to receive it. It is enough for us to say, that Mr. Godwin's theory is not that which the Church has authorized. It is not that which the Christian world has ever recognized as from God, and, therefore, we have nothing to do with it. We are simply concerned to know, whether the Fourierists believe in the Church, not whether they believe in a church. If they do not believe in the Church in the sense in which Christians always have believed and still believe in it, they do not believe in the Christian Church, “the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
We must tell The Phalanx, that the extract he makes from what he terms an "accredited publication” does not, as its writer seems to imagine, express the Catholic doctrine. In the first place, the Catholic believes the Church came into the world perfectly formed, and that it received all truth from the beginning, and, therefore, can make no progress, save in the application of truth to the life and progress of individuals and society. It effects a growth in individuals and in society, but it has no growth of its own. It is immutable, like its Author, and is unchangeable amid all changes, immovable amid all fluctuations, the representative of the eternal and unchangeable God. What it was eighteen hundred years ago, it is now, and will be to the end of time. The Catholic, moreover, believes the Church not only to be authoritative, but infallible, in all that concerns faith and the principles of morals, and authoritative because infallible. He would shrink from the tyrannical doctrine put forth by The Phalanx, that a man is bound to submit to a fallible church. Liberty of opinion, in his view, is in being required to obey only the authority of God. Holding the voice that speaks in the Church, when the Church speaks authoritatively, to be the voice of God, he holds it no infringement of liberty to be bound to obey it, for he obeys only truth itself. But he would hold his right of private judgment abridged, destroyed, by the doctrine of The Phalanx, (p. 303,) that every man is to obey the established church, although that church is fallible, and to abide in the church wherein he was born, be it what sort of a church it may.
If The Phalanx chooses to believe so, it is his affair, not ours; but we beg him not to call it Catholic doctrine.
We must tell The Phalanx that his great talk about the word of God does not deceive us any more than his professions of Catholicity. He must accept the whole word of God, and in the sense the Church understands it, before we can admit his orthodoxy; and so long as we find him able, with his professed reverence for the word of God, to accept and defend such notions as we have seen are entertained by the Fourierists, we shall have no great difficulty in determining how much his reverence for the word of God is worth. But enough of this.
From the account we have given, it would seem to be pretty clear that the Fourierists may admit that Jesus did reveal some of the hidden laws of nature, gave to men a somewhat clearer insight into their spiritual nature, and furnished them with several noble precepts, yet they recognize in him neither the priestly nor the kingly character, at least, in the Christian sense ; that, though they recognize a church, they do not recognize the Christian Church, but teach doctrines which make it superfluous, and an absurdity; and that the church they do believe in is a church which is yet to be constituted, and to be constituted by human hands, and, in fact, by the adoption of Attractive Industry. The adoption of this was not possible before Fourier. Therefore, a true church, in their sense, has never been possible till now. But a church founded by man, or a church which grows up naturally around certain ideas, is not the Christian Church. For the Christian Church was formed a priori, and placed in the world in advance of the natural effects of the truths it teaches; and since the Fourierists accept no such church as this, we say we were right in accusing them of rejecting the Christian Church.
We have not space to touch upon all the points raised by the reply of The Phalanx to our remarks, but we have seen no reason for modifying our former statements in any respect whatever. Notwithstanding the stare of The Phalanx, and its accusation of libel, at what we said concerning the relation of the sexes in the phalansterian world, its editor does not contradict us; for he knows that we had ample authority for our statement, that Fourier recognizes the necessity and legitimacy of a sexual indulgence which extends beyond the Christian rule, although he thinks it may probably be three hundred years before it will do to introduce definite arrangements on the subject. Will The Phalanx deny this? Here is what Mr. Godwin himself reports to be the doctrine of Fourier.
“ Departing from the vestalate, each one will enter into some corporation, having constancy for its rule ; many will stop there ; but others are so peculiarly formed, that they will join themselves to other corporations, more or less severe, as may be agreeable to their inclinations and temperaments...... The first organization is that of the vestalic corporation, devoted to the most purely spiritual relations between the sexes, and which is surrounded by the most attractive charms and the most ennobling