Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

13 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



I RELIGION AND SOCIALISM. THE WILD UTTERANCES AGAINST THE CHURCH. ATHEISTIC ACCOMPANIMENTS OF SOCIALISM. The Rev. J. Morgan Jones, M.A., continued his discourses on Religion and Socialism at Hope Church on Sunday evening, his theme being Why has Socialism become identified with Atheism ?" There was a larger con- gregation than at previo i- services, and Mr. Jones' remarks were f," '1 with close atten- tion. The text was i from Isaiah 52c., 8v. After a few intr;Hictory remarks, Mr. Jones said :—I must assume on the part of my hearers some acquaintance with the history of Europe during the 19th century, especially as/regard's 'tTie Socialistic movement, and still more particularly the awakening of the democ- racy at the sound of the trumpet of Commun- ism in the first half of that century. No one in this place to-night has a mind to condemn that movement unmercifully. True. those men Were led into terrible aberrations and mon- strous excesses, but were they not driven to desperation by an intolerable oppression, and "ere they not fighting for the most self-evident Aild elementary rights of man ? The life of the labourer to-day is paradise compared with kile existence to which men of his class were 00-oined 80 years ago. But what I want to say to that that early Socialism or Communism was hot atheistic or hostile to Christianity although it must be said that from the first it was hostile to the Church, for the simple reason that the I Church was hostile to it. The Church did not Understand the movement, did not want to I Understand it, and had no sympathy with it. Is it any wonder, then, that those Communists the thirties and the forties threw themselves into the hands of men who, at least, understood j hem, and moreover could offer them some j intellectual and spiritual basis for their ideals aims and some sort of a gospel for the Poor. These men were the Atheists of Neo- Segelianism and materialism. In the forties j Europe was overrun with these missionaries of Atheism. THE GOSPEL OF A POOR SINNER." ,1 Let me briefly describe two of them—the one a shop assistant named Marr, the other a tailor named Wealing. Marr's bible was a little book by Friedrich Fencrbach, entitled Tn? R-eligion of the Future," a curious mixture of Philosophical ideas couched in beautiful language and a charming style—just the sort of book to Paptivate the masses. The burden of Marr's ?°spel was this: We are without freedom '•ecause Christianity is so deeply rooted in our ''me; our task is to prove that Atheism alone ".a.n lead us on to freedom." This man, although Qneducated and without any exceptional ability, with his seductive little book and his fierce enthusiasm, exercised a tremendous influence upon the multitudes who heard his f:pel gladly. Marr and his bible have been OIgot-ten; but Wilhelm Weitling, a much abler f^n, is still imewhat of a force in Continental d distinguished himself not only %s an orator, out also as a writer. He published booklet, the title of which will shock many you—" The Gosoel of a Poor Sinner." The poor Sinner is Jesus Christ This book, again, a strange mixture. Often enough one detects it a profound veneration of Jesus. Indeed, ,,e goes so far as to say thatif one would think of. God in human form, or of a man endowed "'ith divino perfection, no one is more worthy such regard than Jesus." On the other hand, sees in Him only a Communist and a Revolu- ^°nist, and ca'ls Him a poor sinner and scruples not to lay to His charge things too ?}8gnsting to mention before this congregation. -Ved]ess t0 gay( he utterly rejects the Christian ^"Sion, and substitutes for it a religion of 11 Material welfare and social righteousness. Such were the early preachers of Atheistic ^cialiisix!: men who drew their impulse from e glaring social unrighteousness which they around them, and their ideas from the heistio philosophy of their time, which seemed ? them the only "intellectual support of their ^ms. They were mostly ill-informed men, fcving but an uncertain grasp of the philo- sophical conceptions which they handled with uch freedom. There is scarcely a word of ."firs that could be quoted to-day before an ntel]i„ent audience (although men have talked 111 similar strain at Merthyr during the time of sojourn here); but the multitude of illiterate ^°rkers in France and Switzerland and Germany ^rd them gladly and echoes of their wild lltterances were heard in London and other cities a. towns of England. M A NEW POWER Spre^whilc, however, a new power was scieUCeng itself into the social sphere, -viz., of Solving itself into materialistic views °f jj- nature and history. The product eo- in teeliaiiism and materialism appears °f 6 Person of Karl Marx, the great law-giver Etie l Socialism. He is the Moses and pubr Aaron of the new era. From the in jijtwn of his great book, Das Kapital," '» Socialism has been able to boast of a f0ll( at}d definite philosophical and scientific ^ith i°n. Since then it has been possible, anc| lncreasing plausibility, to regard Socialism atheism as synonymous terms. Since that Soc- y *las become ever easier for men to make j *ausm all-sufficient—to make it their religion. Onjy11^ n°k weary you by going into details, me state briefly the character of this ete There is no God, no moral law, no life. Man makes religion, and environ- Pr ra3,1,er, man. There is no sin, no room for au .e.0r blame in human life. Man is simply *irorl/ll^aa' who obeys the law of nature. In a *nd ,U a cresd that may be appropriately wadequately expressed in that old Biblical 01',l 1, We Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow I All, how has this Marxian religion worked ? quite recent statistics by me. One fact t'jg "u o-e In the City of Berlin alone, during *'»Oone years' 190G' 1907» 1908' n0 !ess tlian the ol NVorkmen severed their connection with fcte Urch. By this time, perhaps, some of you deaj.^wing impatient because I persist in to Ve with Socialism in other lands. Well, BO £ J? another reason, I want to explain how has come to be so commonly associated tVie -theiem, and to explain the origin and are \eariing and the drift of those theories that 111 t'-e so flippantly by pen and speech Uucj 18 country, and occasionally in this town, Rlarl r the name of Socialism. However, I am I S°cia^ough to turn now to tho history of feat lsm in our own country for the darkest ^ave •es the movement on the Continent te never developed to auything like the same a$'K, and, I believe, never will. You tea!J ^hy ? i try to explain some of the which seem to me to be the most iti tj, rtant. Let me admit there is much truth )ave heory about the part which environment atxjj Nl the formation of a nation's ideals Qbi the influences of tradition and long and so forth. It is also certainly true dev eed°m is the greatest hindrance to the haVe10Pment of the revolutionary spirit. We Socj,?'. Str'^ing example in recent German history. c<w*,13Ql has never thriven so rapidly in that *y as it did under the anti-socialistic law. 11 ^hat law was repealed by the present |prsi«5 ^10 ratc of increase immediately and fo,ii ^^ntly diminished, and there can be no t'he freedom of speech and political the j' l ^at prevails in England partly explains lSerence which we are discussing. OVPTH OF ATHEISTIC SOCIALISM, there is another, and far more weighty, At^g11". The blame for the terrific growth of **t 'f lc Socialism in Germany lies to a great the door of the German Church, which <lid utterly to understand the movement, and it. rp^hing to arrest, but much to strengthen aC Catholics did something, but the «Hent st*nt8 nothing to Christianise the move- dift The situation in England was widely j iti y It was not that the atheistic elements Propaganda of Lassalle and Liebknecht t ebel were wanting in English Socialism. I fi, tile remind you that the Welshman, Robert ly nil, the Father of English Socialism," was bls i means free from these elements. With all pro eahsm and the humane character of his t, rra 11 he had early lost his faith in every Ghaj-. 0l religion; and his religion was, that 1B iw^er formed by environment, that man Mi0l a subject of praise or blame, and that the t y of man is to promote social reform, IS, social reform within the fatal limits of his own conception of human nature and history already stated. And throughout the history of the movement there has been no lack of examples of the worst type of atheistic agitators, and there is no lack of them to-day. ° I have read in English publications statements as abominable and pestilential as in the records of the German Social Democrats. No, the Socialist movement in England has been saved from this frightful corruption, and maintained as a power that has tended to elevate our moral and social life, and, I venture to say, a power that has helped to clarify and quicken religion in our midst BY THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHURCH UPON IT. I will confess that the Church in England has often met the movement with much lack of under- standing and sympathy—sometimes with opp sitionland persecution. But when the enemie" of religion—I will not call them Socialists, because it is not social zeal but the zeal of Atheism that moves them—use against the Christians in England the common expressions of the German jSocial Democrats, they say what every iritelligerit studerit of English history in the 19th century knows to be untrue. IN THE DAYS OF WESLEY. Let me mention only a few facts. Even in the time of the Industrial Revolution in England, about the middle of the 18th century, there were Christian men who rose to the occasion. Chief of them was John Wesley. His preaching, of course, was individualistic, but its social effects were tremendous. The Methodists were more sober and thrifty than their neighbours their homes were cleaner and brighter, and their children better fed and clothed and educated. The organisation of their churches was demo- cratic and social. They took a leading part in social work, and in founding such institutions as Trade Unions and Friendly Societies, etc. Indeed, it would be difficult to exaggerate Wesley's influonco as a social reformei, an influence that has perpetuated itself in various directions in English life to this day. And, therefore, when the Socialist movement came it was met by multitudes of Christians with quick sympathy with its practical aims, although with much conservatism with regard to^its no-fl theories. This was only natural, ^ou )t blame a Christian for boing somewhat I conservative. He remembers that his laid special emphasis upon the slow ,iciit of truth and goodness, and Himself set an example of patient wisdom, and avoidance of violent measures and revolution. You must remember, too, that the Socialism which they saw had its sinister Atheistic accompaniments. If you blame the Christianity of England because it was not intelligent enough to separate the sheep and the goats in the Socialist flock, then I must sav you are somewhat unreasonable. Have you yourselves done this ? If you blame Christians for their slowness to understand Socialism, I say again, you are rather unreason- able. For example, can you blame Christians for withholding their support from programmes which you yourselves have renounced and abandoned long since ? But, enough of these amenities. Let me repeat that while Socialism in this countrv has met with much conservatism on the part of the Churchcs, it has also met with much sympathy. It is often said^ that the Church has learned much from Socialism. Then let us say it to the credit of both. At the same time, I think that the case might be differently put. Christians have often recognised in the teaching of Socialists social principles to which they had long been committed, and which were the direct product of their Christian faith. This, at any rate, I have no hesitation in saying Many of the old Welsh preachers whom I used to hear in the little chapel at Margam, would be called Socialists to-day, although some of them had never heard a breath of rumour about Socialism. WILD UTTERANCES. No, my friends, the charges which you bring against the Church are not based upon your experience of the Nonconformist Churche3 01 Wales,and the wild utterances that are sometimes made by strangers in this town, if they are based upon any experience at all, it is an experience gained elsewhere, and I must rule it out of order here. Our Nonconformist Churches never have been and never will become, if they conserve the Christian Religion, ANTI-SOCIAL. The Church which I myself represent is the straitest sect of the Pharisees," but it is essentially democratic in its constitution and in all its institutions. It recognises no class distinctions, no aristocracy, save that of character and usefulness. All its privileges are open to a peasant as to a peer. And no minister worth his salt makes any distinction between proletariate and middle-class, between rich and poor, in his preaching or in anv of his ministrations. That there are ministers who are not worth their salt is a fact which you will agree with me to ignore. What I say of my own Church is equally true of the other Free Churches. Our Churches are not ANTI-SOCIAL, nor are they "pillars of Capitalism," nor are their ministers a body of black police," to use the phrase of the German Social Democrats. THE ANGLICAN CHURCH. I must curtail the remarks I intended to make with regard to the Anglican Church. That Church suffers from the disability of the German Church, though not to the E same extent. That is, its connection with the State. But no intelligent man in this audience will disagree with me when I say that the Anglican Church has, notwithstanding, preserved a wonderful degree of Christian freedom. The most terrific onslaught upon the anti-social institutions of the Church of England that I have ever heard, was from the pulpit of the University Church at I Cambridge, in my undergraduate days. And I have often smiled as I recalled the scene The I rows of University dons hanging their heads like so many bulrushes in a tempest. The preacher is now a prelate, and still preaches his social gospel. I disagree with the theology of it very often, but there is no doubt about its social quality. And let me remind you that that Church has sent forth social preachers whose names will never be forgotten, whose influence will never die. Let me name one of them—Charles Kingeley. Has there ever lived a truer friend of the democracy, or a man who has done more to spread the enthusiasm of social service ? Who can forget his deadly attack on the iniquitous truck system, and other evils of his day or his service, ill-appreciated, during the Chartist movement. Who can ever forget the impression of his first reading of Yeast" and Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet," and Hypatia." He was harshly treated in his day, but the love of p.ll Europe has been his recompense. You will find few educated people in Germany who are not as familiar with Kingsley as if he were one of them, and his name will never fall out of the roll of those who have loved their fellow-men." I must close. What is the application ? To Christians and Socalists it is this. Learn to understand yourselves and each other better. You will pardon me for speaking plain words- remembering that faithful are the wounds of a friend." To you, Socialists, I say your worst enemy is within your own camp. Not the man of advanced Socialistic views, but the Atheistic agitator, who would innoculate those social ideals with the poison of materialism and infidelity. To you Christians I would say: Your enemies, too, are within your own camp, They are the hypocrites who would serve God and Mammon; whom the god of this world has so blinded that they cannot see the difference between religion and politics, and whose powers of insight and sympathy have been so seared by covetousness that they cannot appreciate the deep need and righteous aspirations of the masses of their poor fellow-men, who, by divine right, by the royal proclamation of Jesus Christ, are joint heirs with them of all the privileges of earth and heaven. To all I would say: What we want is SINCERITY, MORE SINCERITY, EVER MORE SINCERITY. Blessed- are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."


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, Merthyr Board of Guardians.

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