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SAYINGS OF THE FATHERS.
LOVE STRONGER THAN DEATH.
THE CHRISTIAN'S DEFENCE. “Thus then while we are stretching forth our hands to our God, let your tormenting irons harrow our flesh; let your gibbets exalt us, or your fires lick up our bodies, or your swords cut off our heads, or your beasts tread us to the earth. For a Christian upon his knees to his God, is in a posture of defence against all the evils you can heap upon him.”-Tertullian, (A. D. 200.)
“Truth alone is the thing to be had in the highest honour, and to hold the first place in our affections, and the ancients are not to be followed one step further than they are followers of truth.”—Justin Martyr, (A. D. 150.)
"It is in our power at any time to escape your torments, by denying the faith when you question us about it; but we scorn to purchase life at the expense of a lie; for our souls are winged with the desire of a life of eternal duration and purity, of an immediate conversation with God the Father, and maker of all things; we are in haste to be confessing and finishing our faith, being fully persuaded that we shall arrive at this beatific state, if we approve ourselves to God by our works, and express by our obedience our passion for that divine life which is never interrupted by any clashing evil.”—Justin Martyr, (A. D. 150.)
AN APOLOGY FOR CHRISTIANITY. “But allowing our tenets to be as false and groundless presumptions as you would have them, yet I must tell you, that they are presumptions the world cannot be well without; if they are follies, they are follies of great use, because the believers of them, when under the dread of eternal pain, and the hope of everlasting pleasure, are under the strongest obligations possible to become the best of men. It can never therefore be a politic expedient to cry down doctrines for false and foolish, which it is every man's interest to presume true, it is upon no account advisable to condemn opinions so serviceable to the public."Tertullian, A. D. 200.)
IS OWEN AMONG THE PROPHETS ?
Still the dreamer dreams. The Socialist leader believes that his millenium is near at hand; and wishes us to believe the same, but without giving us any evidence. The falsification of previous predictions, the confusion of Harmony Hall, the breaking up of Tytherly, Queenwood, Mania Fen, and other communistic schemes, and the passing out of Socialist hands of the halls built in large towns at so much expense, have all failed to convince the doting old man, that there is no hope of securing for his system, the sympathy and support of the working classes. But still he seems to think that his day of triumph is near at hand. Whether spirit-rapping has roused him again to this conviction we cannot tell; but certain we are that if the spirits have anything to do with his predictions, they are neither veracious nor wise.
We sincerely wish that the announcement at the head of his manifesto were true; “The permanent happy existence of the human race, or the commencement of the Millenium in 1855;" but we have no hope of its being attained by any such means as he propounds. In November last, he issued an address, inviting governments, religions, classes, sects, and parties, in all countries, to appoint and send delegates to a meeting to be held in St. Martin's Hall, Lóndon, on the 14th May next, to sit at the feet of this “wise" man, and hear explained, “Good tidings of great joy to all mankind." This precious document we here subjoin for the edification and amusement of our readers.
“ Al Governments, Religions, Classes, Sects, and Parties, in all Countries, are in, vited to appoint and send delegates to a Meeting to be held in the metropolis of the Brit
ish Empire, on Monday, 14th May next, in St. Martin's Hall, to hear explained the Glad Tidings of Great Joy to all Mankind,' which will include the principles and the plain and easy practice by which all Governments may make, with the aid of their respective religions, every one from birth, good, intelligent, wise, united to all, and permanently prosperous and happy.
And, as a preliminary measure the UNITED TRADES OF THIS METROPOLIS are invited to elect and send delegates to a meeting to be held in St. Martin's Hall, January 1st, 1855, at 7 p. m., to have explained to them, that they may explain to their constituents in London and to their fellow-workmen over Great Britain and Ireland, the course which will be recommended them to adopt at the Great Meeting of Universal Delegates to be held as stated 14th May, on which day will be declared a coming change in the condition of the human race without revolution or violence, to be effected in peace, with order, wise foresight, and without injury to any one of any class in any country, but with high lasting benefit to all who shall from birth be placed within these conditions.
Let all who shall attend these two meetings, come in the spirit of pure charity for all men, and a right good will to aid and benefit them, regardless of their class, creed, country, or colour.
There will be no deception or secrecy in these proceedings, but the whole will be conducted with 'Truth without mystery, mixture of error, or fear of man.? And the glory of this elevation of mankind to a new phase in their condition, will be alone to the God of the Universe, who evidently worketh all things in regular progress for the ultimate good and happiness of man.
London, 25th November, 1854. This document reminds us of a saying of a friend of Owen’s, in the volume of the “New Moral World” for 1840. · The Socialist phrenologists who have examined Mr. Owen's head, say that self-esteem is very largely developed!” Whether the craniological development be large or not we cannot tell, but if we may judge from his manifestoes and addresses, he could spare a considerable share of it to some modest and timid creature whose services are likely to be lost to the world from sheer excess of diffidence.
The first and preparatory meeting was held on the day appointed, in St. Martin's Hall, Long Acre. Crowds of people flocked to it, much as they have flocked to see the hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens. They wanted to hear what this egotistical dreamer would say. He had to explain to them the precise means by which his long-promised Millenium has to be inaugurated in May next, and curiosity might well be excited, especially when he announces that the total change in the condition of the human race has to be brought about at that period, not by revolution or violence, but by pacific means, and the general consent of mankind. He dwelt, however, as he was wont to do in cloudland, and except in some common place points there was no making out his methods. Though he told all persons to come in the spirit of charity; he seemed to think that he might be an exception, and in the strongest terms denounced all existing governments, religions, and parties as degrading to our race, and as tending to produce unmitigated wickedness, falsehood, and misery. In his address he invited all ministers to join him, and yet he distinctly declared that all the now existing religions on the face of the earth are founded in error, and that not one of them was fitted to instruct the people or ameliorate their condition. He broadly assured his audience that so long as the present system existed, happiness would be banished from the world. The labours of philanthropists, statesmen, philosophers, and ministers of religion, were useless, and the poor, dying world must come to him for the medicine for its wounds. It was of no use attempting any mending of human affairs, they must be new-made, and could be new-made only by Robert Owen. On the 14th May next, he would put into operation a universally attractive system, which would draw all peoples and nations into one harmonious unity. Nothing was awanting to it, but the carrying out of those plans; they were all "cut and dried," and would be carried out in the present year. He was perfectly certain that his system would put an end to
all wars, divisions, and strifes between nations and individuals, and give us a perfect paradise in this lower world. The old system manufactured nothing but demons, his system would manufacture wholesale, angels without wings. The delegates who have to assemble in London in May next, must fix a time, when metal and paper money shall be done away with, for they were sources only of poverty, and financial embarrassment. His
system, nobody must doubt, would be productive of boundless wealth and endless prosperity to all classes. Children should be trained to the use of fire-arms to resist foreign invasion, but were not likely to use them in any other way; and the delegates to the May meeting were to take measures for securing universal peace. Ye Aberdeens and Clarendons ! ye Brights and Cobdens ! all ye diplomatists and peace-men, hide your diminished heads for a greater than you has arisen with the only specific that can save Europe from its troubled and distracted state. But he does not intend dispensing his specific for some months to come, therefore you must wait his sovereign pleasure, and though he does not tell you how he will accomplish his schemes, you must not doubt his word. All his previous projects have vanished into thin air, but you must believe that his foundation this time rests on eternal truth. Means also have to be adopted for promoting a perfect equality among all classes of society, according to age; but he must be pope. Patiently must we wait until it pleases our English Socialist to introduce us all to these fine realities.
After speeches from Mr. Atkins, civil engineer, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Wilkins, Mr. Pemberton, and others, on reforms, religious, political and social, the meeting was adjourned till the 14th of May, when the “new moral world” has to rush into being at the bidding of the great Socialist dreamer.
THE CREDULITY OF THE SUNDERLAND SECULARISTS,
In a small pamphlet, entitled, "Infidel Challenges," by J. H. Rutherford, the Secularists of Sunderland are charged with credulity or connivance. The circumstances were these :~Mr. Joseph Barker delivered two or three lectures against the Bible, in Sunderland, some time in June last. Mr. Rutherford, unable to attend them, lectured in reply on three successive Tuesday nights. Mr. Barker not availing himself of an opportunity afforded of rejoinder, Mr. Charles Southwell, a name of infidel notoriety, came to the rescue. At Mr. R's. first lecture, there were so many disappointed at not being able to get into the Assembly Hall, that there was a loud outcry for a larger place. The Lyceum was named; but it was found that, on the only night on the following week during which Mr. R. was free, that place had been engaged for Mr. Southwell, It was suggested that there might be room for all, and that both sides might be heard. For the sake of the people, who seemed almost suffocated in a rooni capable of holding from eight hundred to a thousand persons; Mr. R, expressed his willingness to enter into any reasonable arrangement, which would secure for the audience greater comfort at the second lecture, and, though he would prefer meeting one who had more the confidence of Secularists in general, he would not object to stating the case against Mr. S. on that occasion. The arrangements fell through; and when the society of so-called free-thinkers knew that Mr. R. was out of town and unable to attend, they issued large placards headed, " Now, or never," challenging Mr. R. or any other minister to reply to Mr. C. S. at his lectures. This did not succeed in bringing satisfactory audiences, and on the Thursday evening, an anonymous communication, was read to the meeting, stating that Mr. Rutherford would be present on the following evening to reply. These are the facts; and the charge was this; “The Sunderland Secularists are guilty of credulity if they believed an anonymous communication rather than Mr. R's. positive statement that Tuesday was the only and yet
night which he had disengaged, or of connivance if they did not believe it,
et allowed it to go abroad, yea, gaye currency to the report, that Mr. Rutherford would be present to debate with Mr. Southwell when they knew it to be false."
This charge was made before a respectable and intelligent audience of eight hundred persons, who were witnesses, that not only was a full and fair opportunity given to any persons to refute it, but that the secularists present were again and again specially requested by Mr. R. to give their defence if they had any. They gave none, because they had none to give. The chairman of the meeting at which the anonymous communication was read came to the platform, and made some remarks on the way in which the arrangements for a discussion with Mr. Southwell had fallen through, but said nothing about the charge of "credulity or connivance.” It was made again in his hearing and he was urged to speak to it. He stood up, said a few things, but entirely evaded it. Another secularist, the secretary of their “ society in Sunderland we believe, came to his help, but he too found it convenient to shirk the question.
But he rushes into print and gives his defence in the November number of “The London Investigator.” Let us hear him with all attention. In reference to the accusation of "trickery in issuing the "Now or never
posters, challenging two ministers by name to discuss, when they knew that one could not be present, and that the other had stated his decided determination to have no future discussions with such men, and to the failure of their “ dodge," he says, "'Then Mr. R. if a trick it was, was your “trick” when you challenged Ms. Barker, knowing him to be out of town, any the more virtuous because it did succeed ?" This is their staple, thread-bare argument,"you're another." They cannot deny the facts, but expect to escape by criminating others. But even this miserable subterfuge fails them. Mr. Rutherford had recourse to no trick." The words in the bills announcing his lectures were these, “ If Mr. Barker desires it, equal time will be allowed him for reply at the close of the lecture." These bills were posted all over the town more than a week before the meeting, Mr. Barker's friends had ample time for communicating with him, and one of the bills was sent him, so that he could not be ignorant of the proceedings. Moreover Mr. R. personally informed him on the platform of the Music Hall, Newcastle, that if he came to the lectures in defence of the Bible, he would not be confined to ten minutes for his reply, but would be allowed equal time. He declined, not because he was otherwise engaged, but because the money had to be devoted to some charitable purpose. Where then was the trick of which Mr. R.. was guilty? All was plain, open, above-board. Not so, however, with the Secularists. Mr. R. neither knew nor had any means of knowing that he had been challenged on the “ Now or never” placards, and if he had known he could not have been there, because he had previous engagements which he could not neglect.
Now for his reply to the charge of "credulity or connivance.” He says, “ The anonymous note handed up to the chairman on the Thursday evening, stating that Mr. R. was expected the next night by some of his friends, was not read by the chairman but by Mr. Southwell, and that only as an anonymous note; and if we had believed the anonymous note, we were not guilty of credulity, when we couple with the note the statement of Mr. Young, that Mr R. would come despite of his engagements, if he thought it of sufficient importance'; neither were we on the same grounds guilty of connivance."
Now the question was not, who read the note, nor whether it was read as anonymous, but why it was read at all. Did it at first produce the impression that Mr. Rutherford would be there, and was that what they desired ?
There is a very suspicious-looking little “if" in this reply,—" If we had believed the anonymous note." It is worthy of notice that their secretary takes very good care not to commit them by saying that they did, or that they did
not believe it. He manifestly oscillates between the two horns of the dilemma, seeking if possible to keep clear of both, and when he feels himself driven by facts to one or other, he seems rather to prefer that of credulity. Why does he not at once plainly tell us whether or not they believed the anonymous note, and defend them for doing so ? Why does he defend a case of mere supposition? If they really believed Mr. R. would be present on the Friday evening, nothing more easy than to say so.
But they couple with the note an alleged statement of Mr. Young's. This is clearly an after-thought. Was there a word uttered regarding any such statement at the meeting, when they were anxious to produce the impression that there would be discussion on the following night; or did they refer to it, when Mr. Young had an opportunity of denying it, at the public meeting, when they were urged to explain their conduct. They did neither. These facts need no comment. Mr. Young neither did nor said anything which could lead them to think that Mr. R. would be at their meeting, as they had given it out; on the contrary, he knew that Mr. R. was preaching in a part of the country, accessible neither by rail nor telegraph, where it was impossible for him to know what had transpired at their meeting; moreover, Mr. Young had put out a bill to inform the public of Sunderland that the Secularist intimation was false.
Judging of others according to their own ways, the Secularist chairman, unable to meet the charges made against him and his friends, insinuated that Mr. Rutherford had put out that bill, when he knew nothing of the “dodge” which led to its publication, till the day after its appearance,
But Mr. Fullarton gays,—“We had a reply then, and were not allowed to make it.” This is simply untrue. The audience can bear witness that the chairman, S. S. Hodgson, Esq., acted with the utmost fairness, and that not only was abundant time given, but that they were repeatedly solicited to reply. But he is witness against himself. He says,—“I was allowed to speak once in reply to the statements of Mr. Young, and he was allowed a second speech, but this was refused me by the chairman.” After all then he was allowed to speak; the people heard him patiently; he was not clamoured down, as Christians have been at their meetings. And yet he confesses to have sat down without attempting any reply to Mr. R’s. charges. Now if he had a reply so ready, why was it not made in that speech ? Who can believe that he purposely omitted so fine an opportunity of setting himself and the Secular society right with the public, if he had been able to do so.
If, as the letter in Mr. R. Cooper's journal seems to indicate, they want a discussion on their principles, they will find in the pamphlet "Infidel Challenges" a standing offer, from Mr. Rutherford, the conditions of which they have only to fulfil, to have what they desire, and yet dread.
DO THE FACTS OF CHRISTIANITY WARRANT DISSENT?
When Mr. Holyoake visited Liverpool in July last, it was advertised that he would deliver his first lecture in Hime's Music Hall, Bold Street, in cupport of the following proposition :--"That the right of private judgment includes the right of dissenting from Christianity in any case where the evidence warrants it.” This was sufficient for me. It seemed to my plain comprehension neither perspicuous, logical, nor candid. In it he assumes the existence of the right of private judgment, and undertakes therefrom to deduce the right to reject Christianity in any case where the evidence warrants it. What evidence ? Either the evidence for Christianity is insufficient to establish its credibility, or there is positive evidence of its improbability or untruth. It was open to Mr. Holyoake to take either or both of these positions, but in either case his argument would not have agreed with his proposition, which admits that there are or may be cases in which the evidence does not warrant the rejection of Christianity. I