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I RELIGION AND SOCIALISM

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I RELIGION AND SOCIALISM CAN THEY BE RECONCILED? FIRST OF A SERIES OF DISCOURSES BY THE REV. J. M. JONES. The Rev. J. Morgan Jones, pastor of Hope English Calvinistic- Methodist Church, Merthyr, has set himself the task of showing that lia- ligion and Socialism can be reconciled. He delivered the first of a series of discourses on the subject on Sundav evening last. Like many more strangers. I was drawn to the church, for I was curious to kne** what, line of argument Mr. Jones would taks The body of the church was comfortably fini, and iher« was a fair num- was comfortably fini, and theN was a fair num- ber in the gallery, many of whom, I under- stand, were Socialists. Apart from the dis- course, the service was an enjoyable one. I had not been in Hope since the new organ was installed. Mr Williams was playing a volun- tary when I entered. What it was I know not, but Mr. Williams was producing dreamy music which seemed to come floating on the breeze from a long distance. It it. a fine instrument, with a beautiful tone, and Mr. Williams knows how to manipulate it. He displayed executive powers of no mean order. I was also impressed with the "atmosphere" that ..eemed to pervade the church. People were constantly coming in, but there was no noise. Strangers were quietly conducted to seats by the side-snwn. and when the last strains of the organ died away, there was perfect stillness; there were no whisperings, no shuffling of feet, no "banging of doors, but a reverent silence. The service began with the hymn, "Thy Presence, Gracious Lord, afford," to the tune "Matthias." and which was heartily eung, the organ and choir leading, but not too promin- ently. Mr. Jones next read a few verses from the 4tb chapter of Isaiah, and then followed the hymn, "I heard the voice of Jesus say." The second lesson was taken from the lltJl chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, after which the choir and congregation sang the hymn, "By the Cross of Jesus standing." Mr. Jones then engaged in prayer. He offered thanks to God, on be- half of the congregation, for His great good- ness, and for all the joys of life. He also prayed that -they all might be stirred up to enthusiasm m the work of God. During the taking up of the collection, Mr. Williams play- ed another voluntary, not quite as devotional, perhaps, as the first one, but the execution was very fine. After the congregation had sung "Ride on, ride on, in majesty," Mr. Jones announced his text. It was taken from Isaiah, lltb chapter, 12-14 verses, and the preachr said he desired to emphasise the words. "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim." ESTRANGEMENT FROM THE CHURCH. "The text," said Mr. Jones, "has suggested to you already the reason and the motive of this address. For a long time I have watched with deep concern the growing estrangement from the Church and from religion of largo numbers of our countrymen who have embraced the doctrines and committed themselves to the aims and objects of Socialism. In England, it is true, this estrangement has not yet grown into the widespread and bitter hostility which we see in other countries. In this respect, as in others, there is a great difference between the English Labour Party and the German Social Democrats. But if we enquire into the reasons of this difference, we shall find little ground of comfort and hope. The English- man's characteristic and inveterate fondness for compromise enables him to postpone the evil day; but the evil day inevitably comes, and usually the evil comes with the gathered mo- mentum of delay. And at the present moment there are unmistakeable signs that English Socialism is being driven into closer alliance with Continental Socialism, and into open and bitter hostility to religion. Now, in view of the mutual estrangement that already exists, and the bitter and irreconcilable conflict that is foreshadowed. I think it is the duty of every man to whom the Christian religion is the greatest of all realities, and who, in the spirit of that religion loves his fellow-man, to lay aside all considerations that are not essential to the situation and to give all his energies to the task of averting the terrible catastrophe which the situation so clearly foreshadows. That is the motive of these addresses. In other words, what I want this and the following discourses to be is 'A Word of Reconciliation.' A WORD OF EXPLANATION. Before entering upon the proper business of my mission, I want to say a few words by way of explanation, and with the view to clear the ground. In the first place, I do not believe in a reconciliation that is not grounded in sin- cerity and truth. I cannot think that I should be serving the cause of peace if I tried to exaggerate the points of agreement, or tone down the antagonisms of Religion and Social- ism, or in any way tried to manipulate the facts of the situation as they appear to me. I object to compromise on principle: and even if I had no fixed and absolute principle, I would I still object to compromise because experience has taught me that in the long run it is in- expedient. I shall, therefore, be under neces- sity in these addresses to say many things that are unpalatable and calculated to offend friends and foes both of Religion and Socialism. Let me beg for your forbearance in this matter, and your patience, too; let me ask you not to make up your minds upon my case for recon- ciliation until you have heard it through. I hope, and I believe with good reasons, that by the end of this course of addresses, the points on which we cordially agree will be more numer- ous and infinitely more important than those upon which we shall disagree. In the next place—and this will bring me to the very heart of my subject-I believe sincerely and pro- foundly that the reconciliation of Religion and Socialism is possible. If I did not, I would not waste my breath to discuss the subject. I believe in the possibility and. the practicability of & real reconciliation, a reconciliation based on sincere conviction and an honest recog- nition of the facts of our social and spiritual life. Let me try to explain the reason and the meaning of this conviction, and thereby make a beginning of the task which I have eet before myself. It is only reasonable that I should address myself first to the attitude which very many Christians are prone to take up on this question, viz., that no reconciliation between Reliigon and SooiaJism is possible. They are inclined to regard Socialism as an irreligious and anti-Christian conception. The absurdity I of this attitude is so self-evident that it would be waste of time to elaborate the point. Be- tween Socialism, or shall I say Ccmmumsm- (it would answer no good purpose if I tried to distinguish and define these terms, Socialism, Communism, Collectivism)—between Commun- ism as a philosophical theory of the best distri- ism as a philosophical theory of the best distri- bution of productive capital, and Religion thece can be no antagonism. The substitution of collective for private ownership may be objec tionable, but surely not on religious rgounds. Who ever dreams of calling our State postal system, an irreligious institution? Let me re- mind you of a parallel ig another department —the department of Government. Time owasl when men talked much nonsense about the 'divine right of kings.' Does any one in thili audience, with the spectacle of France and America. before his eye, regard Republicanism as an irreligious or anti-Christian conception? You may dislike Republicanism, you may prefer to live under a monarchy, you may have good reasons, but would they be religious? Similar- ly, you may prefer for many weighty reasons a more or less individualistic type of social organisation to a more or less communistic type; such Ii preference is intelligible, is reason able, is justifiable but to bring religion into the question is not only absurd, but-bdiev: me— it cannot fail to be detrimental to religion it- self. "THE POOR OLD BIBLE." And here let me take the opportunity to utter a word of warning against the practice of ap. pealing to the Bible on this and kindred sub jects. Poor old Bible! it is a miracle that it has survived all the abuèoC it ha suffered at the hands of friend and foe. I am inclined to think that although it is the Book of our religion, it is the Book that is least r-ead and studied by modern Christians. On this supposition alone can I undersand their astonishing maltreatment of it" To me it is incomprehensible how any intelligent person who has a fair acquaintance with the Bible can appeal to its authority on any quoestion of mere economies 0:' politics. I must say that in my opinion the man who docs this imposes a burden upon the Bible which it is unable to bear: and that th inevitable resijlt of this practice is to bring the Bible into dis- credit, and to relax its hold upon the multi- tudes who have neither the time nor the ability to discover the fraud of the practice. Further, I venture to say that nothing in modern time has contributed more to the prevailing indiffer- ence and hostility to the Bible than this p:ac- tice of appealing to its authority on questions that lie outside its province. This practice is not confined to the enemies of Socialism it is at least equally prevalent among its friends. It is the fatal vice of much of the propaganda of 'Christian Socialists.' My deep sympathy forbids me to say one unkind word about the;c people: but I am bound to say this—their ap- p-eol to the Bible. notably to the teaching of Jesus, is often nothing more or less than a com- plete. misconception which vitiates and in the long run must defeat the whole object of the movement. And not only Christian Socialists, but also Socialists who repudiate them—some- times with scorn, follow the same practice: they, too, appeal to the Bible, especially the Sermon on the Mount: indeed, they frequently go so far as to maintain that their Socialism is only the exposition of the teaching of Jesus. Mark, I am not referring to the practice of quoting verses of Scriptural sayings of the prophets and of Jesus Chri|6t that are instinct with the enthusiasm of social righteousness and social service—although the manner of such quotations is often apt to make a man who knows his Bible wince; but I am referring to I the practice of invoking th? authority of Jesus Christ for economic theories. I need no* cite examples: everybody has his memories of Socialist sermons on texts taken from the Ser- mon on the Mount and the Lord's Prayer. In reading some of these, I have wondered whether the speaker's grasp of economics was as uncer- tain as his comprehension of th-a meaning of his text. in which case he must be indeed a blind leader of the blind. I must confess to a strong dislike of this sort of Socialism. The compliment wh:ch it seems to pay to Jesus is an unintentional insult to him To tell you the whole truth, I prefer tb.) uncompromising attitude of those Socialists who will have noth- ing to say to Jesus or the Bible. The worst injury you can do to Jesus is to misrepresent him: and the worst service you can perform to your causa is to support it with misrepresent- ation. RECONCILIATION NOT EASY. Now, it may seem to some of you that my 'Word of Reconciliation' is taking a strange turn, Binee I repudiate every conciliatory effort, and movement, and tendency whether in the Church or in Socialism. But I never said, or thought, that reconciliation was an easy matter. Indeed, I have not yet-■ finished po.nting out its difficulties. Advanced Socialism—the Social- ism of which Marx and Engel supplied the scientific basis, which is the creed of the Ger- man Social Democrats, nd the goal to which English Socialism is surety tending—this Social- ism is openly, directly. Irreconcilably hostile to Religion. Its attitude is correctly expressed by Herr Bebel, the veteran ieader of the German Social Democrats, than whom no man in Europe has a better right to b heard on this question, both for what lie has done and suffered in the cause of humanity and for the integrity of his character. I often wonder what would become of the Socialism of some of its flippant promot- ers whom I know if it were put to the thou sandth part of the strain to which Herr Bebel's creed has been exposed for fifty years. Let me read from his traÚ, entitled, 'Christianity and Socialism.' I hope you will not be shocked to see this book with its wick-ed colour in a I Calvinistic pulpit. It is a colour to which my eyes have grown accustomed, but against which my heart has not been hardened. On the con- trary, the wicked colour and the cheap paper and the vile print have often been to me a parable of the heart-breaking misery which they represent, and have helped me to realise one bitter element in the sorrow of the Divine Son of Man. Let me read Herr Bebel's declar- ation of the attitude of Socialism towards Re- ligion :—'Christentun-' und Sozialismus' (2nd Ed. 1901): the enemy of freedom and culture' (p. 13)..The good that has arisen during its domination of Christianity does not belong to Christionily; and the evil and mis- chief it has brought we do not want: that, in two sentences, is our standpoint' (p. 15). 'Christianity and Socialism are as opposed to each other as fire and water' (p. 16). THE CRUX OF THE MATTER. j Before dealing with this position, let me briefly discuss another basis of reconciliation that is often suggested even by advanced Social- ists, viz., that Socialism is tolerant of all forms of religion, because religion is a private mat- ter. A prominent German Socialist writer, J. Stern, makes much of this point, and insists at length upon this Religious Freedom of Socialism. I reject this overture because it rests on a. fal statement To say that religion is a private matter is not true. I will take a leaf out of the Socialists' own bock, and go further than they are willing to go; that is, I deny that anything in human nature and human life is a private matter. Personality is not a private matter; personality is essentiall/ social: it is only in the interactions of social life that personality is realised. Least of all can relig- ion be a private matter—social intercourse is the very breath of the life of religion. In calling it a private matter, this Socialist has gone fur- ther than the most narrow-minded religious in- dividualist. It is difficult to believe that he makes the statement in good faith, even though he emphasises it, for almost in the sam breath he defines the character of the Socialism of Marx and Engel in terms that justify Herr Bebel's statement of the irreconcilable and deadly hostility to religion: it is that this Socialism is based upon Materialism. This is true; and this is the crux of the whole question. And it was to this point I wanted to lead your thoughts this evening. If Socialism and Mater- ialism are inseparable, then Socialism is the deadly foe of Religion, and Religion is the deadly foe of Socialism. If Socialism and Mat- erialism are inseparable, reconciliation is im- possible and unthinkable: the conflict which we see at its height in Germany to-day must go on to the bitter end. There is no thoughtful person in this congregation who is not impress- ed with the magnitude of this conflict and the fateful issues which it involves. You will agree with me that it is no time for trifling, and it is simply trifling to talk about the differ- ence between the English Labour Party and the German Social Democrats. It is no time for trifling, for compromise, for economy Of truth, for blind passion, for amiable deceits; it is no time for rhetoric and smart repartee. It is a time for sincerity and earnest- ness and self-sacrifice in order to avert the most terrible catastropho that has ever threat- ened our Western civilisation. CATASTROPHE MAY BE AVERTED. It may appear to some of you paradoxical and fantastic, but I am only stating my sincere conviction: it is when i contemplate contem- porary Socialism in its extreme form that I am least afraid of it. England is the most un- favourable place in the world to study this question for in this foggy atmosphere, nothing is quite black or white. German Socialism is logical and sinoere. And I would prefer to deal with a thorough-going German Social Democrat to dealing with his halting English brother Be that as it may, what I want to say is this: even in view of the uncompromis- ing and irreconcilable attitude of advanced Socialists like Herr Bebel, I still believe that reconciliation is possible. Now, having made my confession, I can proceed in the following j addresses to preach my word of reconciliation without much risk of being misunderstood. But before I sit down, I should like to indicate briefly and in general terms th'o lines on which T intend to proceed. I have already said that 1 if Socialism and Materialism are inseparable, then reconciliation is impossible. I may add that in tha.t case it would be the duty of every Christian t< fight Socialism to the bitter end. < But I do not believe that Socialism and Mater- ialism are inseparable. Marx and Engel and their followers have not said the last word, and have not given us the true philosophy of Scoial- ism. And the firy task that is laid upon us to-day is to demonstrate this. This task is easy, because Materialism has already been dis- < credited on every point where it touches human personality and history. Materialism as a i 'theory of human life is already exploded. Mat- ( eralim, however, is not only a scientific theory ) —it is also a moral tendency. I am almost prepared to say it is the original sin of human nature; and, therefore, even though exploded < as a theory, it may continue to operate power- 1 fully as a tendency. Such is the case, to a great extent in present day Socialism. In conclusion, I have an appeal to make. I imagine there are two parsons in this audience < who thoroughly disapprove of my address find my programme. The one is an irreconcili.ble Socialist. He tell", mei, 'I don't want any re- conciliation with Religion. My Socialism It to me all-sufficient.' I would reply to him gwntly but with deep conviction 'My friend,_ you know i not what you In excluding Religion from your life, you condemn youcseif to an uns.ieak- < able poverty All the nia-ienal benefits •vhieli you prize, ,ajid rightly prize because every ] .G. of God is good/ fcli £ £ « j' emptied to you of all their deepest, and sweet- j est, and most satisfying good. You are delib- erately selling your divine birthright and de- grading yourselt inio a lower exisienoe.' The other objector calls himself a Christian. He tells me, '1 will have nothing to eay to Social- ism. Nothing will ever induce trie to look upon it other than as an accursed thing To him I would reply in similar strain, though in sterner u., sp.r' t :-loti know hot what you do Either you are the victim of some sc-an^e confusion of thought respecting Socialism, f) you are deceiv- ing yourself as to your relation to the religion which you profess. Surely, if you are a Christ- ian, you cannot call the u-timate aims of Social- ism accursed, even if your judgment condemns Socialism as a means. You may object to the abolition of property, but surely you don't ob- ject to the abolition of poverty do you object to the abolition of hunger, ;ind starvation, and crime? And ju.,t look at the matter from an- other po:-nt of view. lie whom you cali Mas- ter, when lie saw the multitudes, had com- passion for them because they were distressed, like sheep without a shepherd. Is it a matter of little concern to you that millions of your fellow-men to-day are wandering away from the Good Shepherd?' This man represents a large class. But thank God, there is another class :n the Church to-day. There is a brother- hood in th:s place to-night, among whom the Master walks—the Master with His wonderful wisdom and tender sympathy. It is they who are the ambassadors of the great Reconcilia- tion." The service closcd with the singing of the hymn, "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun," and the Benediction. F. D.

Merthyr Board of Guardians.

DOWLAIS.

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ISocialism and Morality."