admitting the fact supposed, that it is, on the other hand, the glory of Protestantism to have effected so large an improvement and so marked an impulse with straitened means and slender resources. For it has certainly reacted on the moral code and average practice of the rival creed. Thus, the tacit moral force of Eeligion, even in sceptical periods, may be unexpectedly Corrup- large.1 Religion, and this is specially true of the Hgion cor- Christian religion, ever answers to a personal want to moral in the individual man. Its neglect and degradasions. tion have accordingly constantly accompanied the want of culture in the general development of the age.

Positivist § 5. It has, indeed, been argued2 that History does

objection . ....

that mo- not prove that society owes its moral condition to

rality has

improved, its religion. If, indeed, but only if, religion were Christia- the single moral restraint on a community, would declined, the morals of an age, it is insisted, be according to its prevalence higher or lower. But the theological principle, urges the Positivist, has since the Middle Ages been on the decline. It has succumbed to the

this view he follows Comte {Phil. Pos., V. 233), Mill, Littre", and other leading thinkers. Gibbon (VII. 60, ed. Milman) enlarges on the moral progress effected by Protestantism.

1 Thus Dean Stanley, Essays, p. 465, remarks that "the religious spirit of the time has deeply penetrated those who doubt, misbelieve, and disbelieve. The change is so great that looking at realities, and not at names, we might call the present posture of philosophers, of Jews, of sceptics towards Christianity almost a conversion."

■ See M. Littre" {Aug. Comic, p. 217).

opposition of science, to the strength of industrial development, and to the secularization of governments, substituting a different principle to the exclusion of religious interests. Yet morality has improved. There is more humanity in war, more religious toleration; torture has been abolished, social burdens equalized, poverty relieved and ameliorated. But the facts may be admitted Proceeds

"on a false

without the inference. Religion now is better inference, understood as to its true work and office. Surrendering ill-advised claims, its real influence is strengthened and deepened. And can it be said The power

i !• ii-i ofChris

that any point 01 morality now reached in theory tianity has

, . . /.l not be

or practice is counter to the teachings of the come

. wcfllccr in

Gospel? That our own is an age of faith or of its effects scepticism, of operative or inoperative belief, may opinion.0 be matter of opinion ;1 that its moral qualities are independent of its faith, and public opinion of religious belief, would be certainly difficult of proof.

§ 6. The attempt often made from the days of objection Origen8 to Tindal and Bolingbroke to prove that tianity Christianity, containing no new moral truth, Can new moral


1 It has been said to be "destitute of faith, but terrified at scepticism." See Mr. Mill, Liberty, c. ii.

"c. Cdwm, I. iv., VII. xxviii., lviii., lxi. Compare Mackay, Rise and Progress of Christianity, pp. 21, 22, and Rel. Devel., II. 376-7. M. Renan, Etudes, p. 188. Mr. Farrar, Witness of History to Christ, pp. 135, 137, has touched this subject with his usual spirit and ability. Saisset, Essais, details as strictly Christian conceptions the universality of the love of God and universal fraternity. These ideas, though latent in human nature, are evoked by Christian civilization.

exercise no distinct moral effect, is now again revived. And doubtless if the whole moral furniture of our being is contained in a few short precepts, "to do good to others, to sacrifice for their benefit your own wishes, to love your neighbour as yourself, to forgive your enemies, to restrain your passions, to honour your parents, to respect those who are set over you;" if this be all (as Mr. Buckle alleges),1 there might not remain much to be said

Untrue, as to the originality of Christian morals. Though some even of these duties, it must be allowed, were but imperfectly known and badly understood before the preaching of the Gospel. Christianity, it might be shown, has added largely to the very vocabulary

instances of morals. Its notion of holiness, not to speak of

of the fact. . . r

repentance, is a new and previously unrealized conception, the illimitable character of which guarantees its permanence. It may not be difficult2 to cull from individual moralists of Greece and Rome, or of East and West, fragments of Christian

1 Hist. Civ., I. 180. Paley, on the other hand, after asserting that "morality, neither in the Gospel nor any other book, can be a subject of discovery, properly so called," proceeds to show how far the morality of the Gospel is above that of its age and antecedents, and not to be accounted for apart from the pretensions of the religion.—Evid., II. ii.

2 See M. Denis, Ilistoire des Theories et Idées morales dans I'antiquite", I. 104; Wollaston's laborious Religion of Nature, &c. Mr. Lecky, U. E. M., I. 161, complains of the appropriation of heathen ideas by Christian moralists. Augustine, Doct. Christ., II. xl.-xlii., gracefully acknowledges the debt, and fancifully compares it to spoiling the Egyptians. "Nonne adspicimus, quanta auro ct argento et veste suffarcinatus exierit dc iEgypto Cyprianus doctor suavissimus, quanta Lactantius," &c. Comp. Lactant., Dip. Inst., VII. vii.

duties—to find in Plato the recognition of repent- Eclectic

, e . attempt to

ance and devotion towards God, forgiveness of in- compose juries, or the portraiture of a celestial love; in raiity of Cicero the teaching of universal charity, benevo-thc °spd' lence, and brotherhood. It may even be easy to exhibit under the garb of moral realizations the saving truths of faith; to see in the salvation offered by Jesus the airofyvyq Kclkwv,1 the effort to he as wise and good as is possible to man, contemplated by the heathen Socrates; to find in his utterance that the gods will give such things as are good, for they know what is best for man, the keynote of Christian prayer; to recognize in the endurance of the martyr the independence of the Stoic mind, with its larger virtue of patriotism; in Christian meekness and resignation towards God a true philosophic constancy and courage; to explain the success of Christ's Eeligion as "a reaction from effete forms of thought to fresh convictions of conscience," grappling with external calamity by independent resources of soul. This is easy, because, after all, Christianity must have a moral side, and ground itself in human sentiment, and here, accordingly, comes into competition with purely moral systems. Such a view, however, omits to re- christian

, it- morality

member that Christianity founds moral practice based on

J r its doc


1 See Plato, Phced. 107, c, Xen. Mem. I. iii. 2, &c. On the relation of Platonism to Christianity, comp. Dollinger, Gentile and Jew, I. 328, who justly thinks it to be negative rather than positive.


upon doctrinal beliefs,1 thus procuring new sanctions and originating fresh ideas within the scope of morals. It thus supplied a pure morality bymeans of dogma before such was recognized through the medium of ethical science. Nor have its dogmas receded before the advance of scientific morality. The moral progress of modern Europe, while it has found nothing discordant in the type of Evangelical character, has tended to confirm the distinctive tenets of the Grospel.2 Chris- § 7. A more thorough and searching examinatroduced tion has sufficiently demonstrated the advance moral towards a purer and higher type of character M made under the auspices of Christian doctrine, and as a consequence of it, in the absolute embodiment of Divine love which it proposes to all ages for imitation in endless variety. While

1 Mr. Lecky, H. Bat., I. 335-6, considers that dogmatic systems serve only to supply suitable motives of action in the absence of a moral philosophy. Its formation, he thinks, is the first step in the decadence of religions. This is trne to this extent, that the most elementary forms of religion seem to afford little trace of ethics (compare Tylor, Hist. Prim. Cult., I. 380). On the other hand, ethics may, as in Confucianism, overpower and extinguish the religious element. "To give oneself earnestly to the duties due to men, and while respecting spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them, may be called wisdom," this was the maxim and practice of its founder.—See Legge, II. 130, 319. But it has been truly said that so-called natural religion, the apotheosis of moral abstractions, exists only in books. Religions which have vital force and influence, are positive religions, i. e. they make for themselves a Church and rites and dogmas.

a The course of attacks on Christianity from this side has been, first, to separate theology from morals, which, as having a scientific basis, has had some share of success; next, to supersede religion by morality, a much less hopeful undertaking.

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