The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 24a
Moral Grandeur of Christianity
Moral Grandeur of Christianity.
The subject advertised by Mr. S for discussion, on the 9th of December, 1866, was the "Moral Grandeur of Christianity." In the ten minutes allowed him the author of these fragments read the following:—
My stumbling-block to-night is a most important and vital one—it is the immoral tendency of Christianity.
Christianity tends to destroy man's interest in temporal and social improvement, by teaching him to sacrifice the real and tangible objects of action to the unsubstantial and visionary; by attracting his desires and diverting his efforts towards a distant and hypothetical world,* instead of the practical one in which he finds himself, in which he feels, nevertheless, compelled to act, and to act against his Christian principles—to hate the world, all worldly advantage, and worldly wisdom, as being entirely antagonistic to his heavenly interest.
Christianity teaches that he should take no thought for the morrow, but let the morrow take thought for the things of itself†—a principle obviously fatal to all personal and social well-being, and all proper sense of the value of time.
It teaches that, in order to become a disciple of Jesus, a man must actually hate all that should be nearest and dearest to him, yea, and his own life also.‡ Fortunately, natural instinct and wordly policy compel him, on the contrary, to feel his best interest in fulfilling his duties to his follow creatures and himself, in flatly contradicting his verbal creed by his daily and hourly acts. Yet Christians perceive not their inconsistency!
Christianity teaches that whatever crimes a man may commit he can wipe out all by repenting afterwards! instead of teaching that, in accordance with the established principle that every event is the inevitable result of its antecedents, every evil act brings necessarily its own retribution, and that its evil consequences can by no possibility be averted from the perpetrator.
* Col. iii. 2
† Mat. vi. 3d.
‡ Luke xiv. 26
| Rom. ix. 18.; Eph. i. 4, 5.
§ Rom. ix. 13
All Christian virtue is, in any case, the result of a bribe—heaven, or done under the rod—hell. What a mean contrast to the noble principle (superior to any in the Bible) that virtue should be, and is, its own sole and ample reward!
Finally, Christianity calls that true worldly wisdom which produces the discoveries of science, which would elevate and improve the human race individually, socially, physically, intellectually, and morally, worthless, foolish, enmity to God!* while Atheism makes its summum bonum to consist in the development and perfection of that very wisdom! How is this? Which is most moral?
I will now ask Mr. S——and others here, to consider for a minute what would be the probable results were all churches, priests, Bibles, and the ideas of God and the devil banished at once from the universe? Would fear of disease, of death, of social contempt and punishment, lines, imprisonment, and the gallows be one whit less efficacious than now in restraining the bad from injuring their neighbours? and would the respect, esteem, and love of society, and the obvious advantages of virtuous, upright conduct, be legs powerful incentives to the practice of the purest morality?
We cannot imagine it.
But if, on the other hand, all government and human laws were abolished, if there were no courts, no magistrates, no police, and all the doors of our penal establishments and gaols were thrown wide open, what would be the result? Who can doubt that our lives and property would not be worth a penny piece? We feel and know that all the priests and Bibles in the world would not have the smallest effect upon bad men, if there were no human laws and social penalties to restrain them. Robbery, rapine, and murder would soon reduce the world to a social chaos. I appeal to your consciences and common sense whether you are not satisfied of this. Then which system of the two is the true operative basis of our morality?
* 1 Cor. i., ii., iii.; Ja, iv. 4
Are not such fruits the natural consequences of such hateful, diabolical enunciations as the following?—
Mat. x. 21, 84-86—"And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child : and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. . . Think not that I am come to send peace on earth : I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Also Luke xii. 51-58—" Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division : For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." Luke xiv. 26—"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple!"
Can the atrocity and immorality of such sentiments and precepts be exceeded by anything in history? Scarcely even by the pious cruelty and holy vindictiveness with which they have been too literally carried into execution by Christians! "For every tree is known by its fruits."