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.-OSll FOOTBALL.

LOCAL INTELLIGENCE

] RELIGION AND SOCIALISM.…

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] RELIGION AND SOCIALISM. j MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY LIFE. THE UNCHRISTIAN LAW OF ENGLAND. The Rev J. Morgan Jones, M.A., pastor of Hope Church. Merthyr, delivered the sixth of the series of discourses on Religion and Socialism." on Sunday evening last. His theme was 11 Religion and the Family," the text being taken from Ephesians iii., 14 and 15. Mr. Jones said In my last address I tried to explain and emphasise the first great demand of Religion upon social science, viz., that it shall safeguard the free and full development of Personality. The second inexorable demand of Religion is that the institution of the Family shall be safeguarded. The conception of the family includes three relationships—that of husband and wife, of parents and children, of brotherhood and sisterhood. In a complete discussion of the subject all three would claim equal attention, but, for obvious reasons, our conversation this time will be occupied chiefly with the first. You will sympathise with me I say that in approaching the subject I found myself in a strait betwixt two." On the one hand, I realised the urgent need of plain speaking on this subject in our land just now. On the other hand, having regard to the character of the audience I should J'let. I felt that the occasion laid upon me the liuty of unusual restraint and reserve. For. let a? confess, I have not an atom of sympat: with those persons who talk freely upon aU r.jTits oi subjects before all sorts of men, to the 1-¡,.ny of that sense of delicacy and decency which is one of the most precious elements of character and of experience. CHRISTIAN CONCEPTION OF MARRIAGE. It is scarcelv necessary to define the Christian conception of marriage. I do it only in order to emphasise it. Marriage is the indissoluble union of two persons, based upon mutual love and trust, hallowed by the blessing of God, and sanctioned by the will of the community. The Christian religion demands—every Christian taust demand—that each one of these conditions shall be safeguarded. I wish I had time to show how impossible it is for a Christian to tolerate an attempt to destroy any one of them. It is a very significant fact that- of all the social relations this is the only one upon which our Lord has declared His mind definitely and freely. The fact admits of but one explanation, viz., the fundamental importance of this institu- tion, and its unchangeableness. Other institu- tions may change their forms, this rests on unchangeable law. Now, without attempting an exhaustive discussion, let me indicate two points of our Lord's view of the subject. On the one hand He maintains the indissoluble character of the marriage bond. In this respect He is at variance with all the Jewish theologians of His time. Of the two great Jewish schools, the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai, the former represents the Liberal tendency in Jewish Theology and bears the disgrace of permitting divorce under the most trifling pretexts. The Sohool of Shammai restricted the right of ,divorce within the limits of the law of Deuteronomy (i.e., making unfaithfulness on the.pa$k>of the wile'the oftly.|rotknd of divorce). And Apparently, and according to the Gospel of Matthew, this was also our Lord's view. But now, when we come to study the New Testament carefully, we are, I think, bound to conclude that this is a mistake. The qualifying clause in the Gospel of Matthew is omitted by the other Evangelists, and by Paul. This fact, together with the general tenour of His words, makes it probable—indeed, it is a probability I that amounts to certainty—that the qualifying clause was not uttered by Him at all, but is an interpolation that has somehow crept into the Gospel of Matthew; perhaps an unconscious supplement from the thought of the time, or from Deuteronomy. But this is only a matter of secondary importance to us now. Be it as it may with regard to the qualifying clause, it is perfectly indisputable that divorce in the sense that either party is free to marry another is absolutely forbidden by Jesus Christ. It is time that the Christians of this land of ours be forcibly reminded of this fact. I make no apology for saying bluntly the law of England is un-Christian; and King Henry VIII., spite of all the efforts of moderns to whitewash him, was an adulterer. So is every man and woman who has availed himself or herself of the liberty, or rather, let me say, the licence of this law in England to-day. During the last few weeks we have been reading evidence on j this law by men of much experience in the working of it Some of you may be inclined to attach great importance to the results obtained. I attach none. I mean no disrespect to judges and lawyers and experts of divorce • courts, but this matter has been settled for me, 'I and for every Christian preacher and for every Christian man, by Him Who has declared that the marriage bond is indissoluble, and that whosoever violates this bond, whether by j seeking divorce or by taking advantage of any human law of divorce, places himself outside [ the Kingdom of Heaven. Again I say, the English law of divorce, as it is (and many people think it is too strict), is a national denial of Christianity, and a national defiance of Jesus Christ. POSITION OF WOMAN. The second point in the teaching of Jesus on this subject I will-only just mention. The whoki theory and practice of the Jews of our ;Lötd time were based on the conception of the inferiority of the woman. This conception, our LiOtd by word and action has completely repudiated. For example, Jewish law and practice reserved the right of divorce to the man only. It is highly significant that our Lord ignores this distinction, for, according to Mark, He added, And if she herself shall put away her husband" — quite an un-Jewish thought, implying an equality of the sexes which no Rabbi could have entertained. And in the Sermon on the Mount He denounces divorce from the standpoint of the evil done thereby to the wife. And throughout His life He completely ignores Jewish practice by treating woman with the same respect as men, so that, on one occasion, we are told that even His own disciples wondered. Certainly, if we take into consideration the words of the Apostles, especially of Paul on this subject, we shall infer that the subordination of the wife is also to be emphasised in Christianity. Some of you may be inclined to doubt whether Jesus would have used some of the expressions of the great Apostle, and I knoit is the fashion nowadays tQ attribute those utterances to Paul's Rabbini- cal education. Be that as it may, you must remember that even Paul's subordination is not based on ftny inferiority of woman, for even he says that in Christ men and women are equal; and therefore he is at one with Jesus on the subject. It is impossible to study even the Epistlea without realising-that woman has been emancipated from the position of inferiority in whioh Christ found her. On the other hand, I think the conception of subordination, which is prescribed as clearly in the laws of nature as in the Scriptures, must also be maintained. But it is & subordination without inferiority, subordination consistent with absolute equality in personal value and dignity. It would be easy to dwell at length on the importance of this second feature of our Lord's teaching and its consequences as regards the marriage bond, making it as it does a bond of absolute personal equality, equal freedom, equal worth, equal dignity, equal responsibility, but I must refrain and pass over also the other conditions which are really implied in the first two, in order to address myself to the special object of this address. A DEADLY ELEMENT OP SOCIALISM. First of all, let me read to you a passage from Westcott's learned and inspiring book on Social Aspects of Christianity." He says So it is that the popular estimate of the family is an infallible criterion of the state of society. Heroes cannot save a country where the idea of the family is degraded; and strong battalions are of no avail against homes guarded by faith and reverence and love. Classical history is a commentary an this truth. The national life of Greece lasted barely for three generations, in spite of the undying glory of its literature and the unrivalled triumphs of its art?, because there the family fell from its I proper place. A constitution and laws reared on a lofty estimate of the family gave Rome the sovereignty of the world. And, more than this, ¡ Roman legislation, which was based on the family institutions of the old Republic, survived the dissolution of the Empire, and after more than two thousand years is still powerful in the civil courts of Europe." One of the moat deadly elements in the Socialistic movement is its tendency to degrade the idea of the family. Of course, the Communistic principle logically carried out demands the abolition of the family, and from the beginning of the movement there have not been wanting men who have openly avowed and advocated this. One of the disciples of St. Simon, the father of modern Socialism, Pere Enfantin, preached not only the abolition of private property, but also in the same sense the abolition of marriage and the family. Many others might be named from his time until to-day who have preached the same hideous doctrine, some in its grossest form, others w m°re or legs reserve. And on ..# I wonders that others did not teach it it was iioi that the conchition was not contained in their premises; it must have been that the conclusion shocked their moml instincts—tnp,t the man m them triumphed over the theorist. It would be idle to attempt anything like a survey of these destructive opinions in Europe during the past 60 years some from an idealistic, others from a materialistic standpoint, and others from the point of view of a Communism that repudiates any philosophy, and to shew in what degree these opinions sprung from the impulse towards social reform on t one hand or the spirit of moral anarchy on the other. It must suffice now to quote Bebel's opinion, in his book on Woman and Socialism." I will state it as briefly as I can. "Marriage is a partnership of two individuals who are drawn to each other by mere natural impulse, and which need not continue longer than the natural motive remains. Indeed, when this fails the partnership should be dissolved in the interests of morality. Moreover, this partnership is a purely private affair, which neither needs nor tolerates any external interference, religious or civil." BETTER THAN HIS THEORIES. I have sometimes wondered how Herr Bebel would feel if he believed he himself should live to see the triumph of this idea. I have read his autobiography during the past few weeks, and have often been inclined to say how much better than his theories is this man. Especially have I felt this in view of the glimpses of his domestic life that he gives. He dedicates the book to his deal wife," whom he betrothed to him in the autumn of 1864, and whom he married in the spring of 1860. Nothing can be more charming than the fine tribute which he pays to her at the beginning of the chapter entitled Personal." We arc made to feel that Frau Bebel is the best wife in all Germany and in all the world. These things would not have been written if Herr Bebel had lived in the age which his theory anticipates. For venture to say there is no thoughtful person n this audience who can contemplate thiB Social Democratic ideal of marriage and follow up its inevitable social consequences, without experiencing an overwhelming sense of shame and horror and anger. And I should be more than willing to leave the matter just here were it not that I feel it is my duty to take advantage of this theory to say a word. not to Socialists, but to all, and especially to Christians in this audience who share the fundamental error of the Social Democrats. There is no one here who does not share Herr Bebel's abhorrence of forced marriages and marriages of convenience, etc. But, on the other hand, is a marriage tliut is based on mere natural impulse a less degrade tion of man ? For this in it-self is pure selfish- ness, and everybody knows that in its very nature it is capricious and uncertain, and the very idea of an indissoluble union on such a basis is absurd. A partnership, and that for a short time, is all that can be guaranteed, and that partnership cannot fail to be unspeakably degrading. Between this natural impulse and the love which is the basis of marriage there is an infinite difference. And this is the great lesson which every mother ought to teach her girls and her boys, and every minister to preach to the young people of his flock, viz., that mere natural feeling, however intense it may be, is not love; it only becomes love when it is permeated and governed by a moral motive. "For lack of this knowledge multitudes in our land are condemned to life-long misery, and God alone knows how many of our social evils may not be traced back to this source. Marriage is not a partnership of two individuals based upon some preference or liking for each other, of more or less intensity. Such a partnership is only brutal and demoralising. Christian marriage is the union of two personalities based upon mutual affection and confidence, secured by mutual surrender of self-will and mutual acceptance of a. common responsibility to pro- mote the highest welfare of each other. Such a union, in its very nature, is indissoluble, as indissoluble as the bond of personality itself, and in so far as this moral meaning of the union is realised the weHbeing and happiness of a family will be guaranteed. HOMES MUST BE SAFEGUARDED. Let me close this address with an appeal to all that are here to-night. Among the evil tendencies of our time the deadliest is that which we have considered—the tendency to degrade marriage and the family. Let us rouse ourselves and resist it, lest those who come after us shall curse our memory. You women that are here to-night, it is full time you bestirred yourselves. You stand to suffer most at the hands of this foe. The sanctity of marriage is your only defence against a worse dishonour than eyen the history of antiquity can show. One night last week I tried to imagine the future social state which Herr Bebel paints. I saw a very different picture from his, and my very soul seemed to die within me as I imagined the lot of woman in it. My sisters, teach your girls, yes, and your boys, high ideals of personal worth and personal dignity. And let us all as parents safeguard our homes against all influences from without, yes, and all examples from within, that tend to lower the ideals of the sanctity of the home in the eyes of the children. And there is much that calls for our active resistance without the home. I have dealt with the tendency to degrade marriage in modern Socialism. And to my Socialist friends that may be here to-night I appeal. Set your faces against this evil thing let not your good cause be hindered and destroyed let not the curse of God and man come upon it because of this foul crime. But this tendency is not confined to Social Democrats. Indeed, only a fraction of it is found there. Shall I tell you where you may see it in a, worse form ? Walk through the streets of any town and look into the book- shop windows, and at the theatre bills. The closing sermon of the series will be given on Sunday, April 24th, when the subject will bo. Religion and Social Reform."

Theatre Royal, Merthyr. !

ABERCANAID.

TROEDYRHIW.

MERTHYR VALE.

DOWLAIS.

[No title]

j ^ ~ j ! Merthyr's New Court,…

Trial of Prisoners. !

Gellygaer .Sensation.

. TERRITORIAL FORCE.

REVIEWS. -

[No title]

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