A. M. (Andrew Martin) Fairbairn.

Religion in history and in modern life; together with an essay on the church and the working classes online

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Online LibraryA. M. (Andrew Martin) FairbairnReligion in history and in modern life; together with an essay on the church and the working classes → online text (page 1 of 18)
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" Nevertheless it is open to serious qitcstion, which I leave to the reader s
pondering, whether, among 7iational maiiufactiires, that of souls of a good
quality may not at last turn out a quite leadingly lucrative one f Nay, in
some far-away and yet undreamt-of hour, I can even imagine that England
may cast all thoughts of possessing wealth back to the barbaric nations among
whom they first arose ; and that, while the sands of the Indus and adamant
of Golconda may yet stiffen the housings of the charger, and flash from the
turban of the slave, she, as a Christian mother, may at last attai?i- to the
virtues and the treasures of a heathen one, and be able to lead forth her
sons, saying : ' These are ray jewels.' " — Ruskin, " Unto this Last," ii.

" The people are the most important element \in a country]; the spirits
of the land aiid grain are the next ; the ruler is the lightest.

" Therefore, to gain the peasantry is the way to become the son of Heaven ;
to gain the son of Heaven is the way to becojne the prince of a state ; to gai):
the prince of a state is the zvay to become a great officer." — " Mencius,'
Book vii. , Part ii. , Chapter xiv,

" // was the lesson of our great ancestor : —
The people should be cherished.
And not looked down 7ipon.
The people are the root of a country ;
The root firm, the country is tranquil.

Should dissatisfactio7i be waited for till it appears f
Before it is seen, it should be guarded against.
In my dealings with the millions of the peoph^
I should feel as much anxiety as if I were dt
horses with rotten reins. ' '

"The Shu King," Part i., .: >A .•;. •

' ' Nothing is more becoming to him who governs than iu d^spi^c no ni^n
and not show arrogatice, but to preside over all with equal care." — Epictetus,
" Encheiridion," cxxxii.










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astor, lenox and
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' ' Quench not the Spirit ; despise not pivphesyings ; prove all things ;
holdfast that which is good ; abstain from every form of evil.

"And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly ; and may your
spirit a)id soul and body be preserved entire, without blame, at the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ. ','—'-1 "^Thei^s.* V! S9;23.



This little book is republished in response to
much friendly pressure which has come from many
sides. While it has been revised throughout, and
in certain places expanded, yet expansion has not
been found possible where it was most needed
— in the concluding lecture. But this is the less
regretted as the book is not an essay in what it is
the fashion to call Christian Economics, but rather
a discussion as to the nature and action of the
Christian Religion as it has revealed and fulfilled
itself in history. Abstract economics, even though
deduced from the Sermon on the Mount, are more
likely to be ingenious than either relevant to the
original or practicable in the present, ideals that do
not so much produce realities as become apologies
for their absence. A man who is a good exegete
but an inexperienced economist, is no more able to
apply the New Testament to our social and indus-
trial problems, than the man who is an expert econo-
mist but a stranger to the New Testament. To



make knowledge of the one subject a reason for
attempting to write on both, is simply to show how
fooHsh a reasonable man may be, for it is nowhere
so hard to think truly and speak wisely as in the
application of simple maxims to complex problems.
This, of course, does not mean either that the ethics
of Christ ought not, or that they cannot be applied
to modern economics ; on the contrary, the whole
argument of the book is governed by the conviction
that they ought to be so applied, and that the whole
past life of the Christian Religion has been a series
of efforts to embody itself in a higher social and
economical order. From these efforts the religion
cannot desist, and against the hindrances to them it
must for evermore contend. But then in order to
the success of this contention the churches must see
clearly that they may strike boldly ; to hit blindly
is only to inflict damage all round.

Now, the author is not a student of economics —
in this region he feels rather than sees, but he is a
student of the history of religion, and he feels more
able to define the duty and function of religion in
the present when he comes to it through the experi-
ence of the past. And this is all he really professes
to do, but even so, this is no little or insignificant thing
to attempt. In studying the history and the action of
Christian ideas, we move in the region of the actual,


and learn through what the religion has done, what
it is capable of doing, what it has failed to do, why
it has failed to do it, and what it ought now to set
itself to acccfmplish. The historical thus becomes
a most practical discussion, and forms a necessary
and sobering introduction to every attempt to deal
either critically or constructively with the economic
functions of the Christian religion. But the author
has no wish to escape, under the disguise of an
historical discussion, the grave responsibility which
lies upon every Christian teacher to apply his religion
to the present. His sense of this responsibility,
within the limits defined by the origin and purpose of
the lectures, is partially expressed in the essay on
" The Church and the Working Classes." Without
this recognition of duty he could not have allowed
this book to go forth in a new edition.

Perhaps it may be as well to recall the original
purpose of the Lectures which form the body of the
book. The author was then resident in the neigh-
bourhood of Bradford, and he volunteered to address
the working men of the town on " Religion in
History," expressly through the press inviting them
to attend. His purpose was thus stated in the
Preface to the First Edition : —

" The reasons which induced me to take so


unusual a step had a twofold source ; first, the strong
conviction of what Religion is, and what it ought to
do ; and, secondly, the feeling that it is the duty of
the special student to become, as far as possible, a
teacher of the people, especially in matters where
the people so much need instruction, and where
instruction is so necessary to their highest good.
Our hard-worked ministers and clergy have quite
enough to do without attempting labour of this kind ;
yet it is labour that ought to be done. The ordinary
pulpit leaves many questions undiscussed, and the
ordinary congregation does not desire or require
their discussion ; yet they are questions everywhere
anxiously debated by earnest and most excellent
men. It is easy, through the press, to reach the
cultivated and leisured classes ; it is not so easy,
indeed to many it is quite impossible, to reach the
industrial classes through it. Yet these latter are
often the more susceptible, with natures more open
to conviction, more fully convinced, if convinced at
all. Some things that had recently happened within
my own experience, made me very vividly aware of
the peculiar forms our religious problems and diffi-
culties assume among our working men, and this
discovery led to the feeling of obligation that resulted
in the delivery of these Lectures. I felt bound, as a
student and teacher of the Christian religion, to


speak to my fellow townsmen, especially those of the
industrial classes, concerning questions they .were
discussing and honestly trying to understand.

" The Lectures were determined alike as to matter
and form by their purpose. They are not apologetic
in the customary sense, but I hope they are some-
thing better, because more relevant to the actual
state of mind of the persons addressed. It will be
but just if they are judged according to their real
intention and scope, and in no respect as a polemical
and controversial endeavour."

Decembe?' lo, 1893.

' ' The K'uigsaid to his people : ' The good in you I will not dare to keep
concealed ; and for the evil in me I will not dare to forgive myself I will
examine these things in harmony with the mind of God. When guilt is
found a72ywhere in you who occj(py the myriad regions, let it rest on vie, the
One man. When guilt is found ifi me, the One man, it shall not attach
to you who occupy the myriad regions.'" — "The Shu King," Part iv. ,
Book iii. , Part 3.

" Heavefi loves the people, and the sovereign should reverently carry out
{this mind of) Heaven." — lb., Part v., Book i., § 2.

" The ancients have said, ' He who soothes us is our sovereign ; he who
oppresses tis is our enemy.' " — lb., Part v.. Book i., § 3.

' ' A state exists for the sake of a good life, and not for the sake of life
only: if life 07ily were the object, slaves and brute anitnals might form a
state ; but they can7iot, for they have no share in happi?iess or ifi a life of
free choice. . . . Whence it may be further ififerred that virtue must be
the serious care of a state which truly deserves the name : for (without this
ethical end) the commioiity becomes a mere alliance which differs only in
place from alliances of which the members live apart; and law is orily a
convention, 'a surety to one another of justice,' as the sophist Lycophron
says, and has no real power to make the citizens good and just." — Aristotle,
" Politics," Book i. , § 9.

" // has been well said that ' he who has never leartied to obey cannot be
a good commander.' The two are ?iot the same, but the good citizen ought
to be capable of both ; he should know how to govern like a freeman, and
how to obey like a freeman — these are the virtues of a citizen." — lb., Book
iii., § 4.

' ' Two principles are characteristic of democracy , the goveriiment of
the majority and freedom. Men thirik that zvhat is just is equal ; a?id that
equality is the supremacy of the popular will ; and that freedo?n and equality
meafi the doing what a ma?i likes. In such democracies every o?ie lives as
he pleases, or in the tvords of Eiiripides, ' according to his fancy. ' But
this is all wrong ; men should not think it slavery to live according to the
rule of the constitution ; for it is their salvation." — lb.. Book v., § 9.

" Neither is a horse elated ?ior proud of his manger and trappings a?id
coverings, nor a bird of his little shj-eds of cloth or of his nest : but both of
them are proud of their swiftness ; 07ie proud of the swiftness of the feet, a7id
the other of the wings. Do you also, then, not be greatly proud of your food
a?id dress, a?id, in short, of any external things, but be p/vud of your i/i-
teg7-ity a7id good deeds {eviroua)." — Epictetus, " Encheiridion," xxvi.



1. Its Changed Attitude to the Working Classes —


The Religious Causes of this Change and its Forms . . 3

Its Effects on Different Classes of Society .... 5
The New and Practical Interest in Labour Questions . . 8

2. The Attitude of the Men to the Churches —

Less Change in their Attitude . . . . . .11

The Alienation from the Churches . . . . .13

3. Causes, Apparent and Real, of Alienation —

Distrust of the Churches rather than Disbelief at Work . 16
The Loss of Adaptation by the Church to its Environment . 20

4. Influence of the Political Development —

The Organic Relation of Political and Religious Thought . 23
The Conflict of the New Ideas and the Old Order in the

French Revolution ....... 26

The New Ideas and the English Churches .... 27

The Church to-day must be as the State is ... 30

5. Influence of Society and the Social Spirit —

Divisive Social Tendencies ...... 32

Their Action within the Churches, how to be checked . . 34


6. Influence of the Industrial Development —


Its Hostility to the Cultivation of the Religious Spirit . . 37

The Remedies and the Counteragencies required . . 39

7. Influence of the Intellectual Movement —

The Literature and Educative Forces of Modern Life . . 42

Religious Education as it is and as it ought to be . . 47

8. The Conciliation of the Alienated —

The Church to be faithful to its Mission .... 50

Its Influence on the Mind, the Life, and the Home . . 54

9. Urgency of the Need —

The Modern Democracy : our Last Reserves ... 58

The Rulers must be ruled ...... 60


What is Religion ?

Clearness in our Idea of it necessary .... 65

1. The Relation of the Churches to it . . . . 67

2. It is universal and natural to Man .... 72

3. Philosophical Explanations 78

4. Its Highest Conception determines its Character . 87
By it the Ends of God realized through Man . . 89




The Place and Significance of the Old Testament
IN Religion

Restatement of Temper and Principles of Inquiry

1. The Scientific Method of Study ....
Popular Difficulties concerning the Bible .

2. The Old Testament the History of a Religion .
The Name and Character of God .
The Hebrew People and its Faith .

3. The Regulative and Organizing Power of a Great Con


The Mosaic Ideal of Religion

4. Its Notion of Man as moral .
And of the State as the same

5. The Law in Other Relations .
The Spiritual and Moral Wealth of


fHE Old Testa













The Place and Significance of the New Testament
IN Religion

1. The Old Testament the Primary Source of our Moral

Ideals in Religion 136

The New Testament inherits and universalizes these . 140

2, Christ and the Traditional Ideals of His Day , . 143
His Own Ideal 145



Tiiii Kingdom of Gou, its Embodiment .... 147

3. The Christian Ideas of God anp of Man . . . 150
These Ideas, how related in Christianity and in

other Religions ....... 156

4. The Unity of Mankind in the City of God . . . 159
Christianity a Religion of Redemption .... 165

5. Christ's Influence on Personalities . . . .168
The Redeemer and Leader of Progress .... 172


The Christian Religion in the First Fifteen
Centuries of its Existence

The Scope and Purpose of the Lecture . . . .175

1. The Distinctive Notes of Early Christianity . . 179

2. The Influence of certain old Pagan and Judaic Ideas 190

3. The Effect of Christian Ideas on the Industrial and

Social System of Ancient Rome .... 194

4. The Action of the Christian Faith on the Life of Man 201

The Christian Religion in Modern Europe

The Energy and the Pain of Modern Life . . . 206

1. The Power of the Churches and the Strength of Faith 208

2. The Renaissance and the Reformation .... 213

3. The Influence of Calvin 217


4. Liberty, Political and Religious, whence sprung
Its Source in the Religion of Christ


Fraternity ........

The Ameliorative Forces of Modern Society ,



The Christian Religion in Modern Life

The Province of Religion 237

1. Ultimate Ideas and the Organization of Societies . 239
The Evolution of the Modern Christian Ideal of

Humanity 243

2. Various Ancient and Modern Ideas compared herewith 245
The Architectonic Power of the Christian Religion . 252

3. Its Application in Various Departments of Life . , 254
The Ideal of Christ our Hope for the Future . . 270

"Behold my seyva)if, tif/iom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul
delightelh : I have put my spirit upon him ; he shall bring forth judgement
tojhe Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be
heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking
flax shall he 7iot quench : he shall bring forth judgement in truth. He
shall not fail fior be discouraged, till he have set judgement in the earth ;
and the isles shall wait for his law." — Isaiah xlii. 1-4.

"And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought 2/p : and he
entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood
np to read. And there zvas delivered unto him the book of the prophet
Isaiah. And he opened the book, aiid found the place where it was written,

' The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

Becatise he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor :
He hath sent me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovering of sight to the blind.
To set at liberty them that are bruised.
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.' "

St. Luke iv. i6-ig.

' ' For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me ;
And when the eye saw me, it gave witness unto me :
Because I delivered the poor that cried,

The fatherless also, that had iione to help him.

The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me :

And I caused the widow s heart to sing for joy.

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me :

My justice was as a robe and a diadem.

I was eyes to the blind,

And feet was I to the lame.

I was a father to the needy :

And the cause of him that I knew not I searched out."

Job xxix. 11-16.

' ' Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honourable
in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at
peace with all men." — Romans xii. 17, 18.


" The Working Classes camiot luiy loiiger go on without government ;
without being 2iC\M2CCiY guided arid governed ; England cannot subsist in
peace till, by some means or other, some guidance and government for them
is found.''' — Carlyle, "Chartism," Chapter vi.

' ' There is not a hamlet where poor peasants congregate, but, by one
means and another, a Church- Apparatus has been got together, — roofed edifice,
with revenues and belfries ; ptdpit, reading-desk, with Books and Methods :
possibility, in short, and strict prescription. That avian stand there and speak
of spiritual things to men. It is beautiful ; — even iti its great obscuration
and decadence, it is among the beautiftilest, most touching objects one sees on
the Earth. This Speaking Man has indeed, in these times, wandered
terribly fro7n the point ; has, alas, as it were, totally lost sight of the poi tit :
yet, at bottom, ivho7n have we to compare with him f Of all public func-
tionaries boarded and lodged on the Industry of Modejni Europe, is there
one worthier of the board he has 9 A man eveti professing, and never so
languidly making still some endeavour, to save the souls of men : contrast
him with a man professi?ig to do little but shoot the partridges of men ! I
wish he could find the point agaiti, this Speaking One ; and stick to it with
tenacity^ with deadly energy ; for there is need of him yet ! The Speak-
ing Function^ this of Truth coming to us with a livifig voice, nay in a
living shape, and as a concrete practical exemplar : this, with all our Writ-
ing and Printing Functions, has a peretmial place. Could he but find the
poi?it agaift, — take the old spectacles off his nose, and looking up discover,
almost in contact with him, what the real Sat anas and soul -devouring,
world -devouring Devil, now is I Original Sin and suchlike are bad
enough, I doubt not : but distilled Gifi, dark Igjiorance, Stupidity, dark
Corn-Law, Bastille and Company, zvhat are they ! Will he discover our
nezi) real Satan, whom he has to fight ; or go on droning through his old
nose-spectacles about old extinct Satans ; a?id never see the real one, till he
feel him at his oion throat and ours ? That is a question, for the
world/" — Carlyle, "Past and Present," Book iv.. Chapter i.




T is now slmost ten years since these' Lectures
were deliveted, and this period is remarkable for
reHgious societies' of a new feelii^g

for our workmen, and of responsibiHty' ifi connexion,
with their special' problems. ' • ' ' ' ')

I. The causes and forms of this latest and most ^
hopeful outgrowth of the Christian conscience are
many and most varied. The generous and trustful
humanity of the older Christian Socialists — Maurice,
Kingsley, and Hughes — fired the enthusiasm of their
disciples, and led them, now as teachers and now as
co-operators, through personal intercourse to such a
knowledge of working men, their character, their
capacity, their aims and claims, as awakened a new
sense of affinity with their manhood, and sympathy
with their efforts after amelioration. The extension



of primary and the reform of secondary education
made the more open-minded men of the older uni-
versities, see the intellectual promise and abilities of
those who had hitherto been excluded from the
higher culture. The finely blended speculative and
practical genius of T. H. Green became a passion
for the realization of the ideals of freedom and justice
in all the grades of our social and in all the forms of
our national life, and his personal influence impart-ed
his passion to several generations of university men,
who later expressed, it in their own ways, now in
economics, now . ir, politics, ai^d 'x^6\y in the church.
The study t»f the industrial revolution in the spirit
and through the philosophy of Green made Arnold
Toynbee feel that the man who tended the machine
must no Totrger be sacrificed to the. machine he
tended, but be 'made, even by the craft he followed,
better as a man and -niore efficient as a citizen. The
teachings of 'Garlyle 'distilled tlir'o'ugh Ruskin, and
woven by him into the theories of art and the criti-
cisms of life that were his message to the age,
inspired with a will for service many who would
otherwise have wasted their sensitive enthusiasm in
admiration of dubious art. The Anglican revival,
like the older evangelical, became in many of its
sons a love of souls, and certain both of its priests
and laymen made the East End of London the scene
of as unselfish labours and as consecrated lives as
the n^ost heroic ages of the Church have known.
The result of these and similar causes is the


varied movements, outwardly so different, which have
had as their common end help of the working classes,
especially those whose lot is hardest and least hope-
ful. Hence have come Toynbee Hall with its sane
and sagacious belief in the value of art for the
squalid East End, and its brave endeavour to educate
the universities by means of Whitechapel, and to
save Whitechapel by the culture and service of the
universities ; Oxford House, with its intense con-
viction of the mission of the Church to the masses,
though of a mission that the ordinary ecclesiastical
agencies and methods are quite unable to fulfil ;
Mansfield House, with its strong, practical spirit,
seeking to improve the houses, the amusements, the
minds, the relationships, and the lives of the workers in
the farther East End ; the Wesleyan settlement at
Bermondsey, with its noble religious zeal and broad
philanthropy attempting at once to heal the bodies
and save the souls of those it can reach ; University
Hall, with its intellectual energy and its belief in
knowledge as a saving and civilizing power ; and
besides these a multitude of houses and missions
independently and separately maintained by colleges
and public schools.

But the first broad and most apparent result of
these varied institutions is this, they have affected
much more profoundly those who have conducted
them than those for whose sakes they are being
conducted. Men who, left to the ordinary tendencies
of nurture and culture, would have seen things only


through the eyes of the propertied and leisured
classes, have come or are coming to study them
through the eyes of those who eat their bread in the
sweat of their brow, often finding but little bread for
all their sweat and toil. And it has been found
surely enough that the same things look wonderfully
different when seen from those two opposite points
of view. For largely out of these settlements, and
the influences by which they have persuaded cultured
minds to occupy, sympathetically, the standpoint of the
labourer, there has come both an academic and a re-
ligious socialism, which is powerfully modifying politi-

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Online LibraryA. M. (Andrew Martin) FairbairnReligion in history and in modern life; together with an essay on the church and the working classes → online text (page 1 of 18)