Page images

Providence, and for the wisest and most benevolent of

purposes. It would have been easy for God so to arrange matiers that this earth should have produced spontaneously all that is necessary to man's subsistence and confort. But such a state of things would have been incompatible with his exalted destination. He is endowed with capacities which, when unfolded, qualify him for a never-ending existence; but labor and care, trouble and disappointments, are among the means by which his powers are to be developed, and he to be educated for heaven. Now the present order of society is admirably calculated to promote this development. By the necessity under which he lies of supplying his wants, his intellectual powers are cultivated; and, by the constant state of dependence on his fellow men, in which he lives, his moral powers and affections are called out and strengthened. But a different state of society is incompatible with, or unfavorable to these developements. In the state of savage life, man remains stationary. The wild Arab of the desert is now precisely what he was thousands of years ago; and the north-west Indians of our own country, are equally permanent in their habits; and, as to a state of socialism, or community of goods, the trials which have been made of it, have shewn that it is not favorable to human progress. · I do not pretend that the present state of society is perfect. Nothing human is so. But every where I see the most strenuous efforts making for the instruction and the improvement, both physical and moral, of the poorer classes; and this shews that the middle classes, so far from being their enemies, as Mr. B. represents them to be, take a warm interest in their welfare.

Mr. B. tells us gravely* "that no man, born poor, has ever, by his wages, as a simple operation, risen to the class of the wealthy;" and hence he infers that the system of wages ought to be abolished. If by the wealthy Mr. B. means those who have more than what is necessary for the supply of their wants, then the observation is not true. We may find laborers who are thus wealthy everywhere. But if he means that no simple operative has, by his wages, accumulated thousands, then the observation is true, but it is ridiculous. Besides, when a laborer has accumulated something, he does not let his money lie useless. He naturally in vests it in lands, or a house, or shop, or implements of trade; or he places it in the Savings Bank, or some other productive fund; and, from

Bost. Quar. Review, p. 372.

the moment he does so, he ceases to belong to Mr. B.'s favorite class of Proletarii, or Have-nothings, and enters the reprobated middle class of oppressors.

It is evidently Mr. B.'s wish to render the laboring classes dissatisfied with their situations; and I understand that the article under consideration has been re-published in a separate form, to render it more accessible to them. Now suppose Mr. B. should succeed in this, will that improve their condition? Will they labour more cheerfully when they have learned to look upon their employer as their enemy and their oppressor; and will their daily fare have a better relish when eaten with a discontented disposition? Will not their discontent lead them to slight their labour, and thus diminish their earnings, or even cause them to be dismissed from their employ? Or, if he should succeed in causing them to rise against their employers, and to commence that civil war which is to be the harbinger of this social millenium, would the destruction of all the factories in the United States increase the wealth of the operatives, or give bread to their hungry families? They may thus reduce others to the same state of destitution with themselves, but this would not improve their own condition. It would evidently only serve to make it worse.

Having thus examined the pretended evils of which Mr. B. complains, let us now pass to a consideration of the remedies which he proposes to apply. These are extremely simple. He would merely destroy all the religious and social institutions of the country, and reduce all persons who have some property, to the level of those who have nothing. That I may not be accused of doing injustice to Mr. B. in this summary of his sentiments, I shall enter into a more detailed examination of the reforms he proposes. But before I do this, I wish to make one previous observation.

In a recent publication by our Minister in France, Gov. Cass, entitled France, its King, Court and Government, the writer gives an account of a secret society, which recently existed, and perhaps yet exists, whose object was to overturn the existing government and social institutions of that country. From the publications of these pseudo reformers as reported by Gov. Cass, I shall give a few extracts.

"It is without doubt beautiful to be an atheist, but that is not enough.* 'It (the press) ought to say, “All that is connected with religious worship is contrary to our progress; while at the same time whenever people are religious, they talk nonsense.” The Freeman of the 10th September, 1838, con

*Cass, p. 40. +Ib. p. 40, 41. Vol. VIII.--41.

tained an article upon inheritance, in which it contested the right of hereditary succession of property, which it considers an injustice and spoliation, and it qualifies with the same character the right of property itself.* 'In the next number of the same Journal, it is announced, that we shall fulfil a duty by destroying the social edifice from bottom to top, &c. The land ought to belong to every body; those who possess nothing have been robbed by those who possess something.'t The worthies, for whose benefit this resolution is intended to be wrought, are designated by the name of Proletaires (Proletarii,) the very term used by Mr. B. to designate the same class of men.

I was forcibly struck by the marked coincidence there is between the sentiments of these European reformers, and those of their American coadjutor. There appears to be no difference between them, but such as results from the different meridians for which their respective publications were calculated.

But let us proceed to a more detailed examination of Mr. B.'s remedies.

The first remedy proposed by Mr. B. is the destruction of the clergy, both protestant and catholic. This point he appears to have very much at heart, and he labors it with a zeal which shews how virulently he hates an order in which he spent the greatest part of his active life, and to which, for aught I know, he yei belongs. To enable the reader to judge of this, I shall make a few extracts from Mr. B.'s article.

The remedy is first to be sought in the destruction of the priest.' "The priest is universally a tyrant, universally the enslaver of his brethren.'| We object to every thing like an outward, visible church; to every thing that in the remotest degree partakes of the priest. T 'It may be supposed that we, protestants, have no priests; but for ourselves we know no fundamental difference between a catholic priest and a protestant clergyman..........both therefore ought to go by the board.*** We insist upon it, that the complete and final destruction of the priestly order, in every practical sense of the word, priest, is the very first step to be taken towards eleva*ting the laboring classes. Priests are, in their capacity as priests, necessarily enemies to freedom and equality. There must be no class of men set apart and authorised, either by law or fashion, to speak to us in the name of God, or to be the interpreters of the word of God. The word of God never *Cass, p. 40. +Ib. p. 40. Bost. Quar. Review, p. 384. Ib. p. 384. ЦІь

sib. p. 385. **Ib. p. 385-6. +Ib. p. 386.

p. 385.

drops from the priest's lips.* 'Let us have no class of men whose profession it is to minister at the altar.'t "But none of your hireling priests, your "dumb dogs” that will not bark. What are the priests in Christendom as they now are? Miserable panders to the prejudices of the age, &C......But enough. The imbecility of an organised priesthood, of a hireling clergy, for all good, and its power only to demoralise the people, and misdirect their energies, is beginning to be seen.

These extracts might be extended to a much greater length, but I presume that enough has been done fully to justily the assertion with which I set out, that it is Mr. B.'s object to destroy the religious institutions of our country; and their destruction must draw after it that of religion itself. It is true, Mr. B. tells us, that he does not object to people gathering together one day in seven, to sing, and pray, and listen to a discourse from a religious teacher;g but then there must be no professional clergy; no houses of worship, and no outward visible church. Now it must be perfectly obvious to every reflecting mind, that, without these, Christianity itself cannot continue to exist. The apostle Paul tells us, thai •faith cometh by hearing;'ll and he asksT 'How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach except they be sent? To the opinion of Paul on this subject, we may

add the evidence of universal experience. Wherever Christians have been so placed as to be deprived of all outward religious organization, and of the ministry of the word, (and this has often happened in the remote settlements in Asia, Africa and America,) the knowledge of religious things, and the religious sentiment, have uniformly been found to decline, until both have nearly become extinct. We hear, it is true, much of a certain religious instinct or intuition, to which a wonderful power is ascribed; but when we look abroad at those nations which are left to its sole direction, we shall find that it alone is an unsafe guide, and leads to very unsatisfactory results.

In connection with this part of his subject, Mr. B. tells us: that Christianity is the sublimest protest against the priesthood ever uttered ;'** and without saying so expressly, he evidently wishes to produce the impression, that the institution of a religious organization, and the introduction of a regular clergy, have been innovations on, and corruptions of Christianity. I open my bible, however, and I read in the gospels, * Bost. Quar. Rev. 386. +Ib. p. 387.

flb. p. 387.

QIb. p. 385. || Roma, Rom. A. 14, 15, **Bost. Quar Reviow, p. 384.

x. 17.

how Christ at one time selected twelve apostles, and at another time seventy disciples, and sent them forth to preach. In the book of Acts I read of churches organised-of elders, presby ters or bishops, that is clergymen, appointed; and of missionaries selected, ordained and sent out to preach;—and in the epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus, the existence of such a body of clergy is not only recognised, and the qualifications for the clerical office prescribed; but we are expressly told that Titus was left at Crete to superintend the appointment of the clergymen in the several cities of that island. Now with this evidence before me, Mr. B. must excuse me, if, notwithstanding his bold assertions to the contrary, I still continue to believe, that the organization of churches, and the appointment of ministers, belong to the primitive institutions of Christianity.

But in what manner is the destruction of the Christianity that now is, and of its institutions and priesthood, to ameliorate the condition of the laboring classes? Mr. B. has given us much fervent declaination, but not a single clear idea on this head. Before therefore we begin to destroy what has hitherto been considered as sacred and useful, it may be well to inquire what will be the effect of this innovation, and how the laboring classes will be affected by it?

Who are the clergy, whom it is proposed to destroy? They are a body of men, who, forsaking the money-making pursuits of the rest of the community, devote themselves to promote the welfare and highest interests of their fellow men, of all classes and conditions. It is the very object of their sacred office, to exhort the powerful to be just and merciful; the rich to be liberal and kind; to console those in affliction, and to induce all to become humble, and pure, and good, and virtuous, and holy. Now in all this there is certainly nothing injurious to the laboring classes, or which should render the destruction of this order of men desirable to them; but much to the contrary. Mr. B. may see in the sending of the schoolmaster and the minister into the abodes of poverty, nothing but "a bitter mockery," a mockery at which devils may laugh;* but to me it presents a very different aspect: and I doubt not that multitudes among the laboring poor, have seen in these missionaries the ministering angels of their heavenly Father, sent for their salvation and the salvation of their families. Is it nothing to a poor man to have a warm and intelligent friend,

Bost. Quar, Review, p. 365.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »