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in the midst of wolves; be ye, therefore, wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”
And turning one's thoughts from missionary labour homewards, what is the difficulty that is said to lie in the way of many 7? Is it not in believing that God ever acts otherwise than through nature? But if so, have we not here again an argument for giving to nature all that it can justly lay claim to ? If men hesitate to embrace in the arms of their faith that which implies a belief in the supernatural, it is surely well to enquire whether what is sometimes called supernatural be not after all a thing recognized in nature, perhaps part of it. A fixed order of things departed from would be supernatural, but if the Lamb “slain from the
, foundation of the world” be a true way of describing His sacrifice, the doctrine of sacrifice is not supernatural. If settled from the foundation of the world, and if expression were given to the principle through all time, sacrifice cannot be said to be a departure from the fixed order of things. The Incarnation indeed was no afterthought, but if not an afterthought, it was included in the Divine order of events; and if it have place in the Divine order of events, it would more properly be called natural. Sacrifice, and its complement, a priesthood, were the centre of the natural system of religion, as they are of the revealed system. They are, therefore, better termed natural. Indeed, nowhere in sacred Scripture do we find that distinction between the natural and the supernatural which is commonly drawn; there a personal God is the agent both in what is called the ordinary course of nature, and what is deemed now-adays by some to be out of the common course. In revelation, God is “above all, through all, and in all” things.
And the farther we dissociate the great doctrines of Christianity from the analogy and course of nature or from natural religion, the greater will be the difficulty of accepting them on the part of the heathen and the sceptic. Nor is this all: as our Blessed Lord Himself taught the highest spiritual truths through the medium of parables drawn from nature, the more we sever the spiritual from the natural, the religion of the Church from the religions of the world, the further we shall perhaps get from His method and teaching. With Him nature was an ever present parable, a great sacramental veil, the outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual Truth.
W. W. ENGLISH.
THE FUTURE BEARING OF ENGLISH AND FRENCH WORKMEN TOWARDS RELIGION.
The future of Europe will be in the hands of the working classes. Without them capital is useless, without them religion will be, humanly speaking, a failure. The former part of this statement is of great interest, but it is to the latter portion that we would direct the attention of our readers. What will be the attitude of English and French workmen towards religion? Will it be favourable, neutral, or hostile? To answer this question with any amount of certainty requires a survey of religion and workmen in the past, for by considering the past we can foretell with a great amount of certainty the future. This may be admitted, but some of those who would assent to the idea will say, “How compare the action of religion on men so opposite as Frenchmen and Englishmen—as Saxons and Celts ?” This query we will proceed to answer at once before going into the question before us. If we can get a common ground whereon the religious belief of the two sections—French and English workmen—rests, we shall be able to decide the query easily. Have we such common ground in the past that we can build on that common ground for the future? Yes, undoubtedly, unless anyone is fool-hardy enough to say that the Frenchman of four hundred years ago belongs to a different race to that now in France; or that the Englishman of to-day is of a different race to that which tilled the land of England in the reign of Henry VIII. Let it be remembered that the destruction of monasteries and overthrow of Catholicism in England, in the reign of Henry VIII., was not the act of those whom we are considering. (We do not write for narrow-minded controversialists, and so need not waste time in proving what is now admitted by all students of history.) It was essentially the act of a king, who was titled by the Pope but a few short months before he opposed Rome, and of courtiers, whose money-bags were filled with money derived from the sale of monastic land and church valuables, and, shame be it said, of a hierarchy who betrayed the fold to the wolf, with the noble exception of Bishop Fisher. If history tells one fact more plainly than another, it is that the men of England rose for their faith in the north, and in the west, in the east and in the south; and so loud were their protests, so threatening was the aspect of affairs, that it was only by soft promises to pay attention to their requests, and by thus causing them to disarm and become less on the alert that Henry gained time to collect troops, and then, having falsified his pledged word, to crush his too confiding subjects. In brief then, the religion of the lower orders in England in the reign of Henry was Catholic, and what would now be called Ultramontane. The objection, therefore, which we have supposed to be urged falls to the ground, for what has been may be again, and therefore difference of nationality does not prevent our considering the action of religion on French and English workmen without any fear of race rendering such a comparison an absurdity.
We will now divide the subject we are considering into two portions. Firstly, what has been the past action of religion on English and French workmen; and secondly, what will probably be the attitude of these two classes in the future towards religion. The writer is perfectly unbiassed, and although, of course, he has his own religious opinions, yet he would not be so unjust as to place before his readers a controversial article under the guise of a calm historical and demi-philosophical discussion. With these few words of caution we proceed to Part I.
The Past Action of English Workmen towards Religion.
It will probably be thought that if Englishmen in the reign of Henry VIII. did not actively tend to Protestantism, yet at any rate in Edward VI.'s reign and Elizabeth's they did so. The notion arises from a confusion which we shall do well to unravel. This article is on the workmen of England, but the Reformation in England was essentially the act of the middle class, and never has been shared in by the upper or lower actively. This statement is maintained by no less an authority than Mr. Brewer, who, by the direction of the Master of the Rolls, arranged and catalogued the “ Letters and papers, foreign and domestic, of the reign of Henry VIII.” “And here once for all to avoid giving constant references, we admit our indebtedness to this most important volume. On page dcli of Introduction it is distinctly affirmed that the nation was not discontented with the old religion. “Long down into
• the reign of Elizabeth, according to the testimony of a modern historian, the old Faith still numbered a majority of adherents in England. The experiment would have been hazardous at any time, from Henry VIII. to the Spanish invasion, if a plebiscite could have been impartially taken of the religious sentiments of the people. This rooted attachment to the old Faith, and the difficulty everywhere experienced by the Government and the bishops in weaning the clergy and their flocks from their ancient tendencies, is a sufficient proof that it was not unpopular.”
Brewer goes on to state that the stronghold of the Reformation under the Tudors can be found. “The Reformed Church of England has always found its strongest hold in the middle classes of this country; unlike dissent, unlike Roman Catholicism-an expression I must use for want of a better—whose influence is with the upper and the lower, and little with the classes between the two. Among the upper and the lower elements of society, though its ministrations may be accepted as a matter of course, the Church of the Reformation has never excited much enthusiasm.
It was then to the rise and influence of the middle classes that the Reformation owed its origin.”
The nobility who turned Protestant were not the old nobility of England---most of whom the wars of the Roses had annihilated. “For the first time almost in our history even subordinate offices in the king's household, in his chamber or his kitchen, were the passports to wealth and distinction. They owed everything to the king : they repaid the obligation with exaggerated deference to royal authority."
We are thus shown a picture, the leading features of which are plainly visible. We see the English workman and the labourer existing in the reign of the Tudor Henry as in the time of their forefathers, we see also a mercantile and middle class springing up with whom religion was not primarily of moment. We see also a new nobility, dependent on the king, raised from menial offices, low born, subservient tools when required. With these three sections of English society we find the throne occupied by one who was proud, vain, and lustful. His pride was shown on the Field of the Cloth of Gold, his vanity in his defiance of the Pope and parade of his new title F.D., his lust by his execution, deposition, and change of wives. When
such a man was opposed by the Pope, who was there to check his animosity ? None but the people. The courtiers and nobility were new, and his tools, the middle class, as ever, sought their own success and that only. The people only remained, and nobly did they resist the tyrant, nobly did they fight and suffer for their faith, and treacherously were they deceived and crushed. From those Tudor times, when a brutal king and a self-seeking middle class abetted by a mushroom nobility carried all before them, till this nineteenth century, there has never been an active religious principle animating the English working man.* And why? Because, as Brewer says, Englishmen were loyal and conscientious Catholics and were deprived of their faith, and through no fault of theirs has Christianity lost its hold on them. The Church of England from the time of the Tudor to the time of the Guelph has never been the Church of the working man, because the Church of the working man was taken from him, and a brand new middle-class establishment was given in its place.
II. The Past Action of French Workmen towards Religion.
Although in France no Henry VIII, existed, yet the movement in Germany and England necessarily influenced neighbouring states, and Calvin introduced into France religious discord. Through the sixteenth century, religious warfare between Catholics and Huguenots neutralized all real religion except in name, and, as is usually the case, politicians made use of religious cries to further their own ends. Bloodshed and murder came into France in the name of Religious Reformation.
We would willingly credit some of the Protestants of France with pure motives, but history will hardly permit it. The Gallia Christiana mentions the names of one hundred and fifty cathedral and abbey churches demolished by Huguenots. In the district of Beauce three hundred churches were destroyed. In the cities of Perigueux, Lodève, Foix, La Charité and Orleans not a single church was left standing. In November 1563, Cardinal Lorraine
* Wesley got real hold of them, but the Church of England, the Church of the middle-class, turned him out.
+ History of Church of France, by Rev. Prebendary Jervis, vol. 1, p. 215. John Murray, 1872.