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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

2. I Impeach Christianity in the Name of Human Virtue—

2. I Impeach Christianity in the Name of Human Virtue

Because it appeals to hope and fear as the supreme motives of human conduct, holds out promises of an eternal heaven as the reward of obedience to its commands, utters threats of an eternal hell as the punishment of disobedience to them, makes its appeal to human selfishness as the proper spring of human action, and consequently undermines and destroys the disinterestedness of all high morality, which commands the right because it is right and forbids the wrong because it is wrong, regardless alike of punishment and of reward.

Because it teaches that the virtue of the "Savior" can be a substitute for the virtue of the "saved,"—that the "sinner" can be made pure by the righteousness of another,—that merit and demerit do not belong to the individual, but can be transferred like a garment from back to back. Its great doctrines of "Depravity" and the "Atonement" are a blank denial of the very possibility of personal virtue.

Because it teaches that the natural penalties of wrong-doing can be escaped by "faith in Christ,"—that the consequences of moral evil are neither necessary nor universal,—that the law of cause and effect does not hold in the moral world; and thus weakens the natural auxiliaries of imperfect virtue by fostering the delusion that men can do evil without suffering for it.

Because it enjoins self-abhorrence as the first condition of the "salvation" it offers,—makes the denial of all "worth or worthiness" in mankind the first step in the Christian life, and teaches that Christ will save those alone who have lost all faith in themselves and in their own power to escape the just wrath of God. It thus strikes a deadly blow at the dignity of human nature, extinguishes that noble sentiment of self-respect without which all high virtue is impossible, and smites men with the leprosy of self-contempt. It makes them crawl like reptiles before Christ—" their hands on their mouths, and their mouths in the dust." It is the very abolition of true manliness among men.

Because, by this extinction of self-respect, it enfee- page 4 bles the consciousness of human rights, and thus blights the very idea of natural justice, which is the practical recognition of these rights. No man who despises himself can respect his fellows or reverence the rights inherent in their very humanity. Whatever extinguishes human rights before God will extinguish human rights among men. For this reason Christianity has always been blind to justice.

Because, finally, it recognizes no higher law for man than the "revealed will of God." It thus bases all morality on will alone, and says nothing of that necessary Nature of Things which determines all moral relations. If thus confuses men's ideas of right and wrong, and renders impossible that knowledge of true ethical principles which is essential to all enlightened virtue.