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Sumner's (Bp. J. B.) Exposition
Alison on Population : 593, 648
Churton's Early English Church. 441
Keble's Psalter in English Verse. 639
Musgrave's (Archdn.) Charge in
Palmer's Reply to Dr. Wiseman . 574
Pearson's Sermon on Socialism 1
Schools, on Weekly Visitors in 552
The Christian's Fight of Faith - 25
Pastoral Aid .
212, 304, 192
New Zealand Church
REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
Art. I.— The Progress and Tendencies of Socialism. A Sermon,
preached before the University of Cambridge, on Sunday, November 17, 1839. By GEORGE PEARSON, B.D. Christian Advocate in the University of Cambridge, Rector of Castle Camps, and late Fellow of
St. John's College. London: Parker. Cambridge: Deightons and Stevenson. 1839. 8vo. Pp. 44.
AMONG the various heresies and schisms which have from time to time agitated and perplexed the Catholic Church, few have been found to cultivate and enforce precepts inimical to the practice of morality, far less to deny the authority of Scripture altogether. The arguments adduced to sanction breaches of catholic unity are asserted to derive their force from being in support of systems supposed to be in unison with Scripture ; and not unfrequently do we find the inconsistent and ungodly lives of churchmen urged as a reason for ceasing to belong to the fold of the faithful. In these, and similar cases of dissent, the promoters have been actuated by a holy though mistaken zeal. They have been willing to appeal to Scripture, but they have thrown aside the means of interpreting Scripture, which it was their duty to consult. Their error, in depreciating the authority of the Church's interpretation, is now sensibly and palpably felt, in the unblushing manner in which infidelity is promulgated. They have taught the people a contempt for the tradition of the Church ; they have appealed to Scripture, only for their information upon points of discipline ; they have created novelties which will last only so long as the popular mind is willing to concede the authenticity of the Scriptures. If, however, the short process of totally denying the Divine revelation be adopted, these teachers must necessarily be at fault; their exertions have been made to gain prose
lytes from among professing Christians, and to throw discord into the bosom of the Church, by luring away persons who fancied they were doing God service by leaving its wholesome pasture; and hence they are not prepared to promulgate Christianity among unbelievers as it has been the duty and privilege of the Church to do in all ages.
The evils, then, which dissent has caused are not merely those contingent upon an individual, or a certain number of individuals, forsaking the sure paths of their forefathers, but they are visible in the unsettling of the popular mind upon the subject of religion. With the Churchman as an opponent, the infidel must overturn the whole history of the Church, and disprove its tradition, before he can be allowed to deny the authenticity of the Scripture. Arguing with others, who merely appeal to the purity of precepts and other marks of internal evidence, he triumphs, for he positively denies all that is asserted. This has been the case with the disciples of Robert Owen, who have been of late singularly active in all parts of the country. For some time this pestilential sect was confined to the large towns, and was comparatively insignificant. Such is the spiritual destitution in populous districts, that the people are in many cases without any fixed religious principles, and are therefore too easily led astray. To no other cause can it be attributed that Socialism has made the progress it has done.' So alarming is its increase, that the Christian Advocate for the University of Cambridge has published a Sermon, previously preached before the University, which will, it is hoped, open the eyes of the christian public to the necessity of doing something to check the progress of what Mr. Pearson emphatically, in his Preface, designates to be a system of practical Atheism. The true cause of the advance of infidelity is well put as follows:
There is no subject more interesting to the mind, than to contemplate the different fortunes of the religion of the Redeemer in the world, the corruptions, the persecutions, and the trials which have assailed it; and how it has been borne by its great Author triumphant through them all, conquering and to conquer! And this observation applies with peculiar force to that pure and apostolical Church to which we belong; which, by the mercy of a kind Providence, has been preserved through so many trials, and may, we trust, be still destined to be a blessing, not only to this country, but to the christian world at large, and to generations yet unborn! But, in order that it may effect this great end, it is evident that its machinery must be made more equal to the demands of the population at large : and it is owing to this deficiency, that we may in some degree attribute the flagitious attempts which are at this time in the course of action in the populous and manufacturing districts of this country, by a sect of infidels of the worst and lowest description, --1 allude to the persons who have designated themselves by the appellation of Socialists,--to propagate principles, which are not only subversive of all religion, but of all the most sacred bonds by which society is held together.
There is no person of a serious and reflecting mind, who, amidst the pride with which we contemplate the rising splendour and the teeming population of our great cities, has not often reflected with sorrow upon the fact, - how inadequate, in these districts, the means of religious worship and religious accommodation are to the increased demands of the population; and has not breathed a sigh over the thousands, who in a christian land are living the lives of heathens, -excluded by the great want of churches from the house of God,-deprived of that ministerial superintendence, both in sickness and in health, of which the blessing and the benefit are so sensibly felt in the rural districts, and passing through life without the humanizing and sanctifying influence of the Sabbath to direct their minds to the concerns of another world, without any due sense of the duty which they owe to their God and their Redeemer here, or of that state to which they are daily hastening, and which must be their portion for ever! It is not surprising that persons in this state should be the ready victims of infidel teachers, and that they shonld yield themselves without much reluctance to those who preach, as a part of their system, the unlimited indulgence of the most corrupt passions of our nature ; who deprive virtue and holiness of its most powerful incentive,—the assurance of God's favour in this life, and an eternity of happiness in the life to come ;--and take away the most powerful restraint from sin here, by withdrawing from it all dread of punishment hereafter. It is evident that persons in such a state are prepared for any description of iniquity.-Pp. 19, 20.
The practical deduction from this alarming statement (alas ! too true), is that we should increase the means of religious instruction. When, therefore, we weep over the lamentable spiritual destitution in our larger towns, and bewail the condition of a portion of our own country. men, who are sunk in a state of moral degradation of the most awful description, let us beware of the danger of religious sentiment unaccompanied by active virtue, and let us adopt the true means of reforming our people by supporting institutions calculated to effect such desirable ends. The Societies for Building Additional Churches, and for the Employment of Additional Curates in populous places, are ready to do the good work; but the means are wanting, and these a christian public ought to furnish. The former will be the instrument of erecting Christian temples where the prayers of the Church may be offered, the Word faithfully preached, and the sacraments duly administered; the latter will supply men apostolically commissioned to dispense these sacraments and to instruct the people in all things which a Christian ought to know.
It is only by the promulgation of the tenets of the gospel more fully, that the insidious and hellish designs of the Socialists can be successfully opposed. It is melancholy that, in an age professing to be enlightened, men should be found who, in order to attain a degree of happiness and perfection hitherto unattainable, conceive it to lie in being enabled to persuade themselves that they are assimilated to the brutes. Sad will be the lives of many through their fallacies. The Social system, with regard to the marriage-bed, is leading many into wretchedness under the pretence of matrimony. Instances are now and then discovered where heartless seducers, finding female virtue resolute, have lulled the too just suspicions of feminine modesty by a union at some meeting of Socialism. And when a less degree of resolution requires to be broken, the Socialist urges the gratification of the passions as following the
dictates of nature, and therefore right ! Human nature, prone to evil, is too glad of even a semblance of an excuse to justify its corrupt propensities, and hence the danger of the Social system.
That it is on the increase cannot be doubted; which the building of what are called Halls of Science (more properly Hells of Science) abundantly testifies. These are erected by weekly or monthly contributions, and are to be devoted to freedom-of-discussion-meetings, and the like. They are in shares in some cases ; but it is always necessary for the conveyancers to have such buildings made over to trustees in their individual names. It behoves the subscribers to take care of themselves; we should not like to hold shares in a building at the mercy of a Socialist trustee. The magnitude of their operations may be imagined, when we find Mr. Pearson stating, in his Preface, that at Manchester persons were found to guarantee the architect in 50001. !
In one of the Notes it is stated that at the last congress of the society called, “ The Universal Community Society of Rational Religionists,” held at Birmingham in May, it was reported that there were upwards of fifty places where they had branches. Nor have their operations been confined to the morally destitute populous places ; they have made attempts to purchase land upon which to locate Socialist labourers, and thus to plant colonies of avowed infidels in the heart of the land. The awful nature of such societies is more apparent when we consider that, as Mr. Pearson justly states in his Preface," the embracing of the opinions of Socialism involves the absolute rejection of the Christian faith.” He then goes on to say
This appears to have been in some degree forgotten in some public discussions which have taken place in different parts of the country: and the advocate for Christianity may assume the vantage ground in the controversy, by calling upon his adversary, in the first instance, to produce the grounds on which he requires him to abandon his belief in the Bible as the Word of God, and the great doctrines which are founded on that belief: he may then descend to consider in detail the other objections which may be urged against the different parts of the Christian system; which appear to be not so much a proper subject of discussion, as long as the question of the divine authority of the religion itself is at stake. The supporters of these opinions are fond of courting public discussion. It need not be said how great an advantage the advocate for Christianity would gain in such a discussion, by compelling his opponent, in the first instance, to expose the weakness of his own cause, and to proclaim himself an in fidel!--P.9.
Nothing can be truer or more correct than the position here laid down. Tell us, ye Socialists, of the inconsistencies, as ye call them, of the Christian religion. Oh! if man would but know his own weakness, and consider that the very angels desire to look into what he assumes himself able to comprehend without instruction, less would then be said by infidels and sceptics as to the inconsistency of christian truth. Man must be taught his duty, and he must be taught his faith.