« PrécédentContinuer »
threatened speedy subjugation of the intellect and heart of the country to Jesuitism, are anxiously scrutinising their work · of former days. In particular, the stock theories of the old school on the relations between Church and State are being narrowly canvassed once more, and their untenableness is beginning to be more than suspected. Strictly speaking there is in France no State Church. The Constitution simply declares that Romanism is the religion of the majority of the French nation. But all Confessions are admitted to equal rights, and all are salaried by the State. Of the Budget for religious worship the Catholic Church gets sixty million francs, or £2,400,000, on the strength of the thirty-six millions of the population, for whose robust Christian faith she is ready, on this behalf, to vouch. As compared with the revenues enjoyed by the English Church, this is no immoderate sum for eighty bishops and forty thousand of the inferior clergy. Still, as a mere question of economy, French liberals are beginning to ask, whether this large sum might not be saved, especially since the State, so far from getting its quid pro quo, receives from the clergy nothing but evil for its good. As a matter, moreover, both of policy and morality, it is doubted whether it can be wise to go on thus feeding a wen which threatens to absorb all the vital juices of society. In short the question of separation of Church and State is fairly posed before the French public, and the most distinct answer from the depths of the popular mind to the Encyclical has been the cry for the suppression of the Religious Budget. The Pope himself has solemnly recognised the vitality of this idea by the condemnation passed upon it in the Syllabus. Never before, we believe, has it been honoured with a place in a Roman Bull. In like manner the French bishops in their pastorals deem it worth anathematizing. Fas est ab hoste doceri. The party of Progress now know that it is a weapon whose keen edge their enemies dread, and they begin to take note of the fact. The French liberal journals, the Siécle, the Presse, the Opinion Nationale, &c., &c., have formally adopted the separation of Church and State as a fundamental article of their political creed. They are not only zealously preaching the necessity of its immediate adoption for France, but they are also earnestly commending it to their Italian brethren as the best solution of the formidable difficulties with which they have to contend. Nor do they labour in vain. The new liberal watchword has been whispered in the Corps Legislatif, and even in the Senate, where it frightened the Cardinals into an unexpected moderation of language and demeanor during the debate on the Encyclical paragraph in the address. Nor has the echo been wanting in the Italian Parliament. In a
word, the movement affords good promise of becoming as æcnmenical in its destination as the Encyclical which has conjured it up. Nay, it has already overleaped the boundaries of Christendom, and has reached the Mohamedan world. For the Sultan, in his financial perplexity, has taken a leaf out of the book of his astute vassal Prince Couza, and is contemplating the confiscation of the church property of the mosques for the good of the State. No doubt, there are already piteous cries of “spoliation," raised by a Turkish Union, and a Turkish Monde. Let us hope that a Turkish Siècle will not be wanting to ply the sophists with the logic of a Turkish Henri Martin, in some such fashion as the following :
"Indefeasible property of the Church! Spoliation of the Church! Let us examine the value of these assertions, and the true sense of these big words. In the exact sense of the term, individuals only, real persons, can be proprietors. There is no property without a proprietor, without some body in particular being proprietor : somebody and not something, not some abstract idea. The possessions of our commercial companies and industrial societies, are not excluded by this definition, they are simply the possessions of associated individuals each of whom has personal rights to exercise.
* Meanwhile usage, and even the language of the law, extends the name of property to certain collective and impersonal possessions. We speak of the public property, the property of the State or the commune, just as we speak of private property. Why do we use this form of speech! because the state of the commune, the country on a grand or a small scale, without being individuals, real persons, are at least associations which in their very nature are necessary, perpetual, general, and obligatory upon all, associations which are at the same time moral and material in their acts and in their desigas. These associations thus become figuratively as it were a sort of persons, with a view to the discharge of whose continuous, positive, and necessary functions certain material possessions are set aside, certain portions of the national or communal soil. In other words it is society itself which creates a common sund side by side with the private properties of which the individual members of the society enjoy the disposal.
“Does the Church stand on this footing Not at all. Since the publication of the Hatti Humayoun, it is a purely moral and not material association, optional and not obligatory upon all, partial and not general, since everybody enjoys the right of belonging to it or not, just as he pleases. It is a proprietor neither in the exact sense of the word, as being a real person, an individual, nor in the sense of public property, which, as we have just said, is nothing but the appropriation by the society of certain possessions to certain purposes of public utility. If, in other times the clergy has been seised of property of this kind, it could only be so by the express or implied delegation of the society of the nation. The State conferred upon it this delegation. The State consequently could withdraw it and has actually ended with withdrawing it.
“In fact, what do we see if we consult history? What bas been the true character of ecclesiastical possessions during so many centuries? In the effete and not happily exploded state of things, the ecclesiastical corporation was invested with several very important functions, for instance, public worship, works of charity, education, and the registration of births, deaths, and marriages. To defray the expenses of the discharge of these functions,
and for the subsistence of the members of the corporation which had to fulfil these various duties, considerable funds were set apart. The chief of these resources consisted in a vast amount of landed property, and in a lucrative impost called tithe. This was simply a social arrangement, the enormous inconveniences of which are seen at a glance, but which was the inevitable result of the union of Church and State, and which could at least plead a relative reason in its favour.
“But from the moment when society, either on account of church abuses, or simply in consequence of the revolution wrought by time in ideas and manners, thinks proper to take out of the hands of the clergy the public functions which had been entrusted to it, this relative reason ceases to exist, and the ecclesiastical corporation, as a corporation, has no just claim to urge against the exercise of this right on the part of the State. These big words -spoliation, violation of the rights of property, robbery—are devoid of sense. None but persons can be robbed, and there can be no infringement on the rights of property, so long as those of individuals are respected. And these no one proposes to touch.”
It will be seen that this Henri Martin has the right ring about him. Here he is again bravely taking the Pope's bull by the horns :
"The principle of the Absolute and Infallible, on which the Church pretends to base her domination, belongs to God alone, and leaves the earth to be the sphere of progress and perfectability. Even amongst those Catholics who still practice the rights of their Church, the number of those who really believe that eternal salvation depends on adhesion to the special dogmas of Rome, and that the rest of mankind are hopelessly condemned, grows less and less every day. The majority admit the legitimacy of civil society as organized by the French revolution, out of the pale of the Church, and on a plan independent of her. The great mass of Catholics adhere to this new society, whose principle the chief of Catholicism radically condemns.
"The plan on which this society is organized, the principle on which it is based, is that of a justice and a morality, proceeding from the human conscience, and not as formerly, from the teaching of the Church. This justice, and this morality, this new rule of right, comes from God, as the French revolution has solemniy recognized ; but it comes from them directly, and not through the medium of Rome. Civil society exists by. Divine right, and emanates from nobody save the Eternal Author of all things.
" It is not the arm of which the Church is the head-it is head as well as arm; it has the right to publish principles and it does publish them. The law is not atheistical; it neither is nor can be, for its entire system rests on a conception of morality and justice which would have no raison d'être if God and the soul did not exist. There is no such a thing as right if there be no living ideal from whom this right emanates. Even the men who reject these fundamental principles of the Supreme Being, and of immortality are governed by them unconsciously, and are indebted to them for their morality. But if every great human association must be guided either explicitly or implicitly by the fundamental data of universal religious morality, the political society on the other hand, is bound to recognize its incompetence to decide between different religions—that is to say, between the recent various conceptions which the human mind is able to deduce from those common principles. The different religions belong exclusively to the domain of individual liberty.
"Hence the political society is neither bound to have a State religion, nor to uphold certain religions to the exclusion of others. It is bound to fulfil its public, general, necessary, and perpetual mission, and to leave it to private associations, according to the constant interchange of ideas and beliels, to invest the religious sentiment with all the forms and all the expression of which it is susceptible, free from any intervention of the public power in the matter.
“This is neither an accident nor an expedient. It is a great principle destined to rule for ages over the modern world, and which no more excludes a vast spiritual unity, than it does an infinite variety, provided this unity be voluntary.
The sower went forth to sow-the reader will remember the little journal called the Semeul, established some years ago by a few French Protestants to propagate the ideas of the immortal Vinet on the separation of Church and State, and now long since extinct. But the mission of the Semeul is now taken up by the great press, and has become European in its character. Some of the seed, it is evident, has fallen into good ground, and promises to yield an abundant harvest at no very distant day.
MR. KIRKUS ON ORTHODOXY.*
In the preface to this new volume of essays Mr. Kirkus gives us a sort of history of its origin. He tells us that those critics of his former work, who were neither bigoted nor unfair, reminded him of the necessity of some more affirmative statement of his religious opinion; and hinted that an improvement in his temper was desirable. He seems to have felt the logical necessity was real ; but that the moral change was an unreasonable requirement. We fear he is an unfortunate man; he appears to produce upon his reader's mind the very opposite impression to that which he desires. He smiles, and he is thought to be sneering: he speaks good-humouredly, and he is regarded as satirical. Very simply he says that " he knows quite well that the essay on Evangelicalism in a former volume was not written in a sour
* Orthodoxy, Scripture, and Reason: an Examination of some of the Principal Articles of the Creed of Christendom. By the Rev. WILLIAM KIRKUS, LL.B. Williams & Norgate, 1865.
ungenerous spirit," and yet his friends told him," he had at any rate contrived to make almost everybody who read it believe that it was.” We sympathize with him; but we are obliged to agree with his friendly critics. We read the essay referred to, and certainly felt it to be a most irritable and cantankerous production ; we have read this new volume, and we think this also is a very choleric, explosive book. It will not win over theological foes, and the prefatory explanation can hardly be regarded even by the most generous as conciliatory. The following is a queerly awkward way of proving that the former attack on evangelicalism was not spiteful :
"I must candidly confess, that what I hated when I wrote that essay, I hate much more intensely now; and hate it more intensely because I know much more about it.I have learnt more, in the last two years, of practical Evangelicalism than all the rest of my life had taught me ; and I believe now, more firmly than I did two years ago, that it is utterly loathsome and capable of all baseness.”
We fear that those friends of Mr. Kirkus who “were not quite sure,” as he says, that he "was very likely to mend,” will now feel their doubt justified.
In respect to the positive exposition of doctrines to be found here, the method is as unfortunate as the spirit. It is what the title page says, an examination of some of the principal articles of the creed of Christendom. It is fully as destructive as the former essay referred to, and is only so much more affirmative as it contains a short summary of its author's creed at the close of each chapter. The principal part of the book is occupied with what the chief sections of the Church think and teach should be believed, with a running commentary from the author, concluding with what he thinks should be believed. If we may judge from the odd set of literary and philosophical leaders whom he follows, we should say he has to walk many different ways. We find Plato Paul, and John Stuart Mill, Maurice, Jowett, and the National Reviews alike the objects of fondest attachment, and the sources of opinion. It may be a matter of wonder to some how all can be equally honoured and believed. We are inclined to think no two could be found to agree with one essay in the book. Mill, Jowett, and the National Reviewers would wonder how on earth a man who treats the New Testament as a not infallible history could prove the incarnation as a matter of history, and what it is worth if not historical ; while Mr. Maurice would be pained by one paper at least, if not by two or three. The influence of Maurice and Jowett, utterly opposed as they are theologically, is very marked : too marked for a book which comes forth as the “positive exposition ” of
ge from that he think commentarthink and tempied with