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all, went to break all bonds of body and soul; and to cast down every temporal and every spiritual tyranny. It was a system calculated for the whole wide universe ;-adapted to embrace men of all climes, all ages, all ranks of life, or intellect; for the rich and for the poor; for the savage and the civilized; for the fool and the philosopher; for man, woman, and child ;—which, recognising the grand doctrine, that “God made of one blood all the nations of the earth,” represented the Almighty as the Father, and all men as brethren born to one universal love,--to the same inalienable rights, —to the same eternal hope. He himself was the living personification of his principles. Demolishing the most inveterate prejudices of men, by appearing a poor man amongst the poor; by tearing from aristocratic pride and priestly insolence, their masks of most orthodox assurance; by proclaiming that the truth which he taught should make all men free; by declaring that the Gentiles lorded it over, and oppressed one another, but that it should not be so with his followers ; by pulling down with indignation spiritual pride in high places, and calling the poor and afflicted his brethren, and the objects of his tenderest regard,—he laid the foundations of civil and religious freedom, of mental power growing out of unrestrained mental energies, and of love and knowledge co-equal in extension with the world. This perfect freedom of universal man he guarded by leaving no DECREES ; but merely great and everlasting principles, intelligible to the mind and conscience of the whole human race; and on which men, in all countries, might found institutions most consonant to their wants. By declaring that “wherever two or three were met together in his naine, he would be in the midst of them,” he cut off, for ever, every claim, the most specious, of priestly dominance; and by expressing his unqualified and indignant abhorrence of every desire of his disciples “to call down fire from heaven upon his enemies,” or to forbid those to preach and work miracles in his name who did not immediately follow him, and conform to their notions, he left to his church a light more resplendent than that of the sun, on the subject of non-interference with the sacred liberty and prerogatives of conscience.
One would have thought that, from this epoch, the arm of priestcraft would have been broken; that it would never more have dared to raise its head ;—but it is a principle of shameless avidity and audacity; and it is exactly from this time that we trace the most amazing career of its delusions and atrocities, down to the very day of our own existence.
History of Priesteraft
POLITICS INSEPARABLE FROM CHRISTIANITY.
We are often warned against indulging in politics, as if it were some sinful indulgence, like swearing or gin drinking. The religious warn us with a solemn shake of the head ; and none more than the members of the Society of Friends deal in cautions against this bugbear of politics, “ lest,” say they, “it disturb the serenity of our minds; lest it unfit us for religious meditation.” Now, I am totally at a loss to comprehend the solid ground of these pious exhortations. It is because I am religious that I feel myself compelled, irresistibly compelled, to be also political. The very practices of the Society of Friends have educated me into this necessity. One excellent practice they have; I wish it were universally adopted, and then we should speedily have a stupendous host of honest, ardent, Christian politicians. It is that of reading every day aloud in the family circle a portion of the sacred Scriptures. I will defy any one to proceed far in the New Testament without coming upon practices and commands of our Saviour, that, if he comprehend their true and practical import, will compel him into a politician. Nay, if we go back to the Old Testament, what is the predicted character of the Saviour? Is it merely that he shall be a spiritual Saviour ? No, but that he shall be a temporal one, too. He is "to open the prison-doors, to loosen the bonds of the captive, and to let the oppressed go free.” But when we enter on the New Testament, when we come to follow that great object of our reverence and model of our conduct in his life, and to listen to his commands, there is no alternative left to us. What is the great command of human duty ? What is that greatest of all, next to the adoration and zealous service of our Creator? It is to love our neighbor as ourself. But will any man tell me how we are to love our neighbors as ourselves, if we see them oppressed, mado poor, made miserable, made ignorant and criminal by the measures of a bad government, and this not in individual cases, but by thousands and tens of thousands, if we move neither hand nor foot to help them? If we are commanded “to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly before God;" if we are again commanded“ to do to others as we would be done by ;” if, again, we are told that the very mark and distinction of our Christianity is, that “we love one There are those, and that perhaps in nearly every third house, who think that religion consists in cultivating certain inward feel. ings; in reading certain books, in making certain prayers, and passing through certain forms. This may be a religion of some kind; but I will boldly tell all those who practise it that it is not the Christian religion. The religion of Christ is a religion not of negative virtues, but of active, ardent, generous deeds, and sympathies with our fellow-creatures and their sorrows. A religion of inward feelings without outward work is the religion of monks, let its votaries call themselves what else they will. The religion of Christ led him out into the highways and hedges, into the streets and the market-places, and to the daily denouncement of public oppressors, as well as to the alleviation of private woe. The religion that is not prepared to attack human evils at their root, and to prevent them as much as possible by destroying their causes, has been long ago pronounced to be " a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.” The man who sees trade destroyed by the mischievous acts of a bad government, and his poor neighbors suffering all round him in consequence, and does not set heartily to work to reform that government, to endeavor to procure a better system, but, on the contrary, shrinks into his house and his closet, lest he ruffle or excite his feelings, is but acting over again the proud Levite, and leaving it to the good Samaritan to pour the oil and the wine into his neighbor's wounds. In a word, Christianity is not merely a religion of principles, but of consequences; and he who does not dare to look those principles freely in the face, and, without fear of man or devil, of high or low, of unpopularity or personal sacrifice, to carry these divine principles boldly out into their full, direct, and legitimate consequences—that man may talk of Christianity, but has yet to learn what it is.
Speech delivered at Nottingham, 1835.
THE BIBLE THE GREAT FOUNTAIN OF ALL REFORMS.
We warn the church, not to beware of the principles of dissent," but to beware of the BIBLE! They that love the Bible and the Establishment too, love two things that can as ill agree as two wives in one house. The Establishment must cast out the Bible, or the Bible will cast out the Establishment. That is the great enemy that it has to fear. It is that which has been the ruin of every national church yet—it is that which has produced all the great changes and reforms that have appeared in the Christian church yet. It overthrew paganism-it split asunder popery-it ruined monkery in this country-it destroyed it in Spain. The Catholies were deeper in worldly wisdom than the Church of England; they knew it to be an enemy, and they treated it as an enemy —they kept it down and out of sight as long as they could. Henry
VIII. and Elizabeth were wiser in this respect than their successors. Henry passed an act in 1539, called the Bloody Statute, in which he decreed, that “no women, artificers, apprentices, journeymen, husbandmen, or laborers, should read the New Testament, on pain of death ;” and Elizabeth was equally averse to it. She did not wish the people to read at all, lest it should make them less submissive. She disliked even preaching, lest the mischievous principles of Christianity should steal abroad through it; three or four preachers in a county she declared quite sufficient. Such was the policy of the Catholic church, and of the cunning founders of the English church; but now this superannuated state church allows the Bible to walk abroad over the whole land, and then wonders to see it produce its natural effects. Oh! foolish and stiff-necked generation! wherever that book goes, there goes freedom of spirit and opinion. There the peasant learns to feel that he is a manand the man that he is an immortal creature—the child of Godthe heir of precious rights and a deathless hope; a being too good to be trodden on by priestly pride, or robbed by priestly pretences. It was because the peasants of Scotland had, in every mountain glen and lowland hut, listened to the animating topics and precious promises of the “big ha' Bible,” that they rose and resisted the bloody emissaries of this church. And now, throughout England, in city and in hamlet, in field and forest, that great charter of man is studied, and will cast down every thing that is opposed to freedom of spirit and independence of purpose. It matters not whether it be in church or in state—the Bible is the great reformer. You may mow down whole crops of reformers as you would grass, but if you leave the root of all reform, the Bible, in the earth, it will raise up ten times more. Make what laws and destroy what liberties you will, if you leave the Bible free, it will again leaven the whole lump of society, and your labor is in vain. It is abroad; it is in every man's house, on every man's table; and its still small voice is perpetually whispering, "Woe to all tyrants, and oppressors of God's children !" It is the voice of God, and the power of God; and against it what voice, or what power, or what wisdom of man can prevail ? From the Bible breathes on every soul near it the eternal sentiments of liberty, independence, and contempt of death. While the Bible is free, man is free. Therefore, we say to the established church—beware of the BIBLE !
THE TRUE DIGNITY OF LABOR.
From the foundation of the world there has been a tendency to look down upon labor, and upon those who live by it, with contempt, as though it were something mean and ignoble. This is one of those vulgar prejudices which have arisen from considering every thing vulgar that was peculiar to the multitude. Because the multitude have been suffered to remain too long rude and ignorant, every thing associated with their condition has been confounded with the circumstances of this condition. The multitude were, in their rudeness and ignorance, mean in the public estimation, and the labor of their hands was held to be mean too. Nay, it has been said that labor is the result of God's primary curse, pronounced on man for his disobedience. But that is a great mistake. God told Adam that the ground was cursed for his sake; but not that his labor was cursed. He told him that in the sweat of his face he should eat his bread till he returned to the ground. But so far from labor partaking of the curse, it was given him as the means of triumphing over the curse. The ground was to produce thorns and thistles, but labor was to extirpate these thorns and thistles, and to cover the face of the earth with fruit-trees and bounteous harvests. And labor has done this : labor has already converted the earth, so far as its surface is concerned, from a wilderness into a paradise. Man eats his bread in the sweat of his face, but is there any bread so sweet as that, when he has only nature to contend with, and not the false arrangements of his fellow-men? So far is labor from being a curse, so far is it from being a disgrace; it is the very principle which, like the winds of the air, or the agitation of the sea, keeps the world in health. It is the very lifeblood of society, stirring in all its veins, and diffusing vigor and enjoyment through the whole system. Without man's labor, God had created the world in vain! Without our labor, all life, except that of the rudest and most savage kind, must perish. Arts, civil. ization, refinement, and religion must perish. Labor is the grand pedestal of God's blessings upon earth; it is more-like man and the world itself—it is the offspring and the work of God.
All honor then to labor, the offspring of Deity; the most ancient of ancients, sent forth by the Almighty into these nether worlds; the most noble of nobles ! Honor to that divine principle which has filled the earth with all the comforts, and joys, and affluence that it possesses, and is undoubtedly the instrument of happiness wherever life is found. Without labor, what is there? Without it, there were no world itself. Whatever we see or perceive-in heaven or on the earth—is the product of labor. The sky above us, the ground beneath us, the air we breathe, the sun, the moon, the stars—what are they? The product of labor. They are the labors of the Omnipotent, and all our labors are but a continuance of His. Our work is a divine work. We carry on what God began.
What a glorious spectacle is that of the labor of man upon the earth! It includes every thing in it that is glorious. Look round, my friends, and tell me what you see that is worth seeing that is