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J. Morrison (John Morrison) Davidson.

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through p. needle's eye as for a rich man to enter the
Kingdom of Heaven." So said Christ, but the rich
man, like professional murderer Gordon, takes
only his profession of faith from the Son of Man.
His practice he takes from the Pagan State, whose
•very raison d'etre IS that mammon or private property/,
which it was Christ's special mission to abolish.

But, though on every hand we see Pagan violence
above and Christian love below in the dire internecine
struggle whicli has now lasted for more than eighteen
centuries, there is no good reason to despair of the
final issue. The realisation of the Christian ideal
may be near or far, but it is certain. Even Christ
himself, being asked wheii the end of the " world " or
age of Pagan violence should terminate, was unable
to say. " But of that day and hour knoweth no
man, no, nut the angels in heaven, but my Father
only." Nevertheless He indicated sure signs of the
mighty change, and enjoined watchfulness. The
revolution of revolutions would come at the moment
when the miseries of man had reached their utmost
lim-t, and the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God
had been proclaimed in eveiy quarter of the earth.
" He that hath ears to hear let him hear ! "

" When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather; for the
sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather to-day ;
for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern
the face of the sky ; but can ye not discern the signs of the
times ? "



III.
THE RELIGION OF COLLECTIVISM.



Not only they who to the petty feud bring termination and

consent to peace ;
Nor they who by their influence bid cease the cannon's boom

and echoing war-trump rude ;
Nor even they who heedfully exclude mistrusts of nations

which, if let increase,
Would the fierce war-do9:s speedily release — not to these only

the beatitude
Of peacemakers pertains. But even more to those who, subtly

conscious of the breath
Of coming changes, labour to restore the rock-hewn reservoirs

of Social Faith ;
Who, to men faltering, open wide the door through which new

life beats down their dreams of death.



T is significantly recorded of the Christ that
"the common people heard him gladly."
How different is it to-day with those who
pretend to teach in His name! The
" Masses " not only do not hear them gladly, they
decline to hear them at all, and in so doing who
shall say that they are not thoroughly well advised ?
The workers of Palestine heard Jesus gladly, because
He brought them the glad tidings of a Kingdom of
Heaven on Earth ; but which of the Churches incul-
cates the Gospel of the Poor which He taught ?
With scarcely an exception they are mere Syna-
gogues of Mammon — Synagogues of Satan, where to
the Rich the Gospel is preached.

15




l6 THE RELIGION OF COLLECTIVISM.

Take the " great lying Church ' of England. No
man dare call that a Church of Christ. It is above
all things the Church of tne " Classes " in general and
of the landlords in particular. Its Bishops are a
by-word in the land for more than a pagan acquisi-
tiveness. Their " covetousness " is so unbounded
that should one of them die possessed of less than
from ;^5o,ooo to ^350,000 he is regarded as a
" failure."

In some respects the leading Nonconformist
Churches are even more odious than the Anglicans.
They belong to the shop-keepers, and are " run " on
the most approved shop-keeper lines. It is shekels
not souls, that they are bent on saving. Theirs is
the Gospel of the Front Pew.

Of all the Protestant sects the Unitarians savour
the least of superstition and the most of " culture "
but what they have gained in intellectual breadth
they have lost in social impulse. By losing living
touch with Christ they have doomed themselves to
sterility and decadence. An intellectual aristocracy
can no more enter the " Kingdom of Heaven" than
an aristocracy of birth or wealth. They are a
a pathetic testimony to the warning of the incom-
parable Master — " Without Me ye can do nothing."
The poor know them not. To them Unitarianism is
little more than a will o' the wisp. It is without a
message, oscillating helplessly between Agnosticism
and a barren Theism.

Then there is the Church of Rome with its splendid
pagan ceremonial, its ironclad dogmas and its priestly
absolutism. It has never wholly lost its hold on the
poor and ignorant, and is to-day perhaps the least
mercenary of the Churches. But the thinking wage-
earner, though he may, with the example of a
Manning before his eyes, have ceased to regard
Roman Catholicism with positive aversion, has yet
not the slightest inclination to embrace its tenets,



THE RELIGION OF COLLECTIVISM. IJ

There is far too much to swallow and far too little to
digest for his liking. Neither creed-bound Romanism
nor creedless Unitarianism has any real message for
him. He wants entrance into Christ's " Kingdom
of Heaven" sure enough, but he distrusts his would-
be conductors, one and all, and for very sufficient
reasons too, though they may at times be of the
unconscious order. He calls his " pastors " con-
temptuously "sky-pilots."

Finally, we have the new departure of the Salva-
tion Army. That movement, in spite of its ecstatic
theology, kettledrum manifestations, and platoon-
firing, nevertheless comes nearer to living Faith in
Christ than any other before the public. It alone
shows practical regard for the real spirit of the
" Kingdom of Heaven. ' " By their fruits ye
shall know them." I am told that the organi-
zation, like that of Rome, is autocratic, and there-
fore objectionable, and such may be the case. But
no man with eyes in his head can deny that it has
worked miracles among the poorest and most
degraded ; that it has inspired the hopeless with
hope, fed the hungry and clothed the naked — done a
work in truth that was beyond the power of all the
Churches put together to accomplish. To the poor
the Gospel of the Kingdom has once more been
preached in street and alley, highway and byway.
The results are patent, and I care not to criticise the
methods. Even among the immediate followers of
Christ, Judas contrived to be treasurer ; but the work
went on all the same.

But much or little as it may be given to the Salva-
tion Army to achieve, it is certain that the Churches
proper will never be able to convert the " masses,"
and it would be a black day for mankind if they ever
should. For the religion of the New Democracy,
and the Collectivist " departure," which it renders
inevitable, will not be the " Kingdom of Heaven " of



l8 THE RELIGION OF COLLECTIVISM.

any of them, but the " Kingdom " as preached by
Christ Himself, His Apostles, and the Early Fathers.
That " Kingdom " was, of course, none other than
the Co-operative Commonwealth, and it is much to
be regretted that the New Testament revisers did
not substitute that phrase for " Kingdom of Heaven,"
as Christ would doubtless have done had He been
addressing the " Masses " of to-day. Similarly
where He spoke of " Mammon " would He have sub-
stituted " Private Property."

For nothing is more certain than that His Kingdom,
though it was not to be "of" this world, was to be
"in" it. He merely taught that "the good people
are the kind people, and the kind people the
good people," and that goodness and kindness. In-
dividualism and Mammon-worship, cannot co-exist.
His was truly the Religion of Humanity, and with
Collectivism His Kingdom, so long banished to the
clouds by materialist princes, statesmen, and church-
men, will again, as in the days preceding Constan-
tine, be restored to the earth.

This " Second Advent " the " Masses " are
already beginning to hail, to the confusion of all
the Churches. Instead of believing less in Christ
than His hireling ministers, they not only believe in
Him more, but they believe m Him in the way and
for the very reasons for which He asked men to
believe in Him. " Do and ye shall know." They are
doing as well as the false teaching, and, indeed
sheer negation, for long centuries, of His gospel of the
" Kingdom " permit them. Consciously or uncon-
sciously the faith of the " common people " in Christ,
creedless though it may be, is as strong, or stronger
than it ever was.

And were His blameless feet
To-day within our streets, methinks, men's doubts
Would chafe Him little, and His hand would grasp
The hand of many an outcast from the fold
That boasts Him shepherd, and His test of love
Would turn much gold to dross, much dross to gold.



THE RELIGION OF COLLECTIVISM. ig

It is in vain that Comte and such able disciples as
our own Harrisons and Beesleys have set up a
" Religion of Humanity " other than that which
Christ proclaimed. Even from the philosophic point
of view they err greatly if it be their object, as it
presumably is, to bring the "Masses" to their way
of thinking. They may talk as they will of Confucius,
of the Buddha, of Zoroaster, of Mohammed, of Plato,
of Aristotle, of Socrates, of Shakespeare, and the
rest ; but the Ideal Man of the " Masses " will always
be the Christ. He alone is known to them by fovce
of association, and well it is that such is the case ; for
Man or Messiah, He is worth more than they all
rolled into one. They are doubtless precious enough,
but He is indispensable. •' Behold I maks all things
new ! " " Lo, I am with you alway even to the end
of the world ! " "I am the Resurrection and the
Life ! "

With Him is the Secret of the Future — the eureka
of the " Masses."

That secret lies rather with those who, having suffered all
that can be suffered from the inequalities of social existence as
it is, can yet see the brightness of social existence as it might
be ; who, while realising and sympathising with all that men
have thought and done, can at the same time realise the greater
grandeur of what is yet to be done and thought ; who, while
they can appreciate the triumphs of science and industry, can at
the same time appreciate the subtleties of art, the inmost depths
of human hopes and feeling, the innocence and delight that may
grow up round the path of each man and woman who "serves "
the present age ; by discharging the commonest of domestic
duties. These are the peace-makers, who now, as centuries ago,
are worthy to be called the "Children of God."



IV.

The •« nonconformist CONSCIENCE"
AND CIVIC DUTY.

When we remember that 386,489 persons in London live" in
one-roomed tenements, in some cases with more than nine
persons to a room ; that in some districts children die at a rate
of 260 per thousand before they reach their first year ; that one
eut of every four Londoners dies a pauper, we feel that the
[County] Council, which is doing its utmost to lessen this
terrible waste of life, has tht strongest claims on the support of
every humane citizen. — Manifesto of the Noxconformist

CODNCIL.

Preaching the Gospel means a never-ceasing attack on every
wrong institution, until the earth becomes a New Earth, and all
its cities Cities of God. It is as truly a holy work to lead
a crusade against filth, vice, and disease in slums of cities, and
to seek the abolition of disgraceful tenement houses, as it is to
send missionaries to the heathen. — Prof. Ely.



Christianity is not a state of opinion and speculation. Chris-
tianity is essentially practical, and I will maintain this, that
practical Christianity is the greatest curer of speculative
Christianity. — Earl of Shaftesbury.

He that willeth to do the will shall learn of the doctrine. —
Jesus Christ.



HE Appeal of the London Reform Union
to the pastors of the Metropolitan
Churches to aid in combating the forces
of reactionary and anti-civic Moderatism,
at the late London County Council Election, re-

20




THE '' NONCONFORMIST CONSCIENCE.'* 21

ceived a most notable, prompt and praiseworthy
response from the Nonconformist Council. The
Memorial Hall Manifesto indeed left almost nothing
to be desired in point of tone or of Christian prin-
ciple, while its vigour of diction was refreshingly
unusual. It endorsed the good deeds of the Pro-
gressive majority of the Council with an emphasis
which can best be appreciated by those who have
the most lively recollection of the forbidding rock
out of which New Municipal London has been
hewn : —

A more honourable, self-denying, efficient administration
English local government has never known. The record of its
achievements, in face of gigantic hindrances, limited powers,
and incessant misrepresentation is the marvel of other countries.

This was unstinted praise, but who shall say it was
undeserved ? I have a vivid recollection of the days
— and they are not so long bygone — when indomit-
able old Beal, with myself and some half-dozen other
obscurities, constituted the whole available militant
forces of Londinium Redivivum.

We used to meet pretty frequently, in Beal's office,
of a Saturday afternoon, after the clerks had gone,
and solemnly pass resolutions worthy of anything
recorded of the three historic tailors of Tooley-street.
But we knew — or rather the " Father of London
Municipal Reform " knew — a trick of much potency
unknown to the Tooley-street propagandists. Beal
kept a reporter — " Beal's Reporter" we called him —
a highly impecunious and thirsty but withal discreet
and dexterous Irishman, who invariably wrote out
the most plausible accounts of our proceedings, so
that you could not tell whether four persons or four
hundred had taken part in them, and what was still
more wonderful, this artist's " lineage " seldom
failed of acceptance by the very newspapers which
were most hostile to reform in Corporation, Metro-
Dolitan Government Board, and Vestry.



22 THE " NONCONFORMIST CONSCIENCE

Ah, methinks if Tom Mann and the Independent
Labourists had known a little more of what ante-
County Council London was like, and the sore shifts
to which its earlier progenitors were put to bring the
present rudimentary civic authority (as they may
judge it) into existence, assuredly they would have
thought twice before leaving it, as they rashly deter-
mined to do, to the tender mercies of the " vested
interests" of Peer and Publican.

It was the case of General Wade and the roads ia
the Scottish Highlands over again:

Had you seen these roads before they were made,

You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade !

But the Nonconformist Manifesto did far more
tiian give its hearty benediction to the regenerative
action of the Progressive majority on the County
Council. It made the Churches themselves the factor
in the community chiefly responsible for the further-
ance of true Progressivism : —

The overthrow of the evils under which London has suffered
for centuries depends not so much on political parties as upon
the Churches, whose business it is to destroy these evils at their
roots by a practical application of the Christian Gospel.

And so at last the Nonconformist Churches
seriously propose to give us " a practical application
of the Christian Gospel," and surely it is about time
they did. " Political parties " have long enough had
the direction of Christian Society. They have in-
solently " bossed" it, ever since the alleged conver-
sion of the Emperor Const antine, in such a way that
the true meaning and distinctive principles of the
Christian Faith have been almost hopelessly obscured
and nullified. The mission of the Primitive Churches
or Christian Brotherhoods " having all things in
common " was to redeem the world of knavish politi-
cians, and on no account to make peace with it,
except on terms of unconditional surrender. But



AND CIVIC DUTY. 23

instead of unconditional surrender a fatal alliance
was struck up between Paganism and Christianity,
which has given the former the earth for its *' sphere
of influence " and the latter the clouds. The Churches
abandoned sociology for theology, and in so doing
abandoned the very basis of Christian life and action.

It is hard to say if mankind has sufTered most
from worldliness or from ctherwovldlincss ; but, on the
whole, I am disposed to believe that the latter
has been the greater curse. It is noteworthy that
Moses was wholly silent on the question of the Ira-
mortality of the Soul, and that all the sanctions of
his Code are purely mundane. In Egypt the
mummy, sarcophagus and pyramid industries, the
offspring of the resuscitation doctrine, wasted an
enormous proportion of the energies of the people,
and the Hebrew Lawgiver wisely determined that
the Israelities should be exempted from the banefui
influences of a superstition so degrading.

Nor did Christ concern Himself much about the
next world. Nearly everything in His actual sayings
applies exclusively to the present life. The Lord's
Prayer, like the Mosaic Code, takes no cognisance of
a life hereafter, and in the whole of the Sermon on
the Mount, contained in Matthew v., VI, VII, the
subject is barely alluded to. In truth, Christ oftener
than not deprecated othevworldliness.

When the mother of Zebedee's children desires
them to rank high in Christ's kingdom. His reply is,
" whosoever will be great among you let him be your
servant," here and now. The rich young man who
wanted to be saved is not instructed by the Master
in any of the inanities of theosophic metaphysics —
" Karma " is " not in it," — but is told to sell his pro-
perty forthwith, and give it to the poor, and so pre-
pare himself at once to do the will of God on earth.
"He that believeth in Me hath everlasting life," said
Christ, not shall have. '• And the Lord added to the



24 THE "NONCONFORMIST CONSCIENCE*

Church daily such as should be saved," ran Acts ii.,
47, in the old Version — a blunder of no small
magnitude, attributable solely to the absorbing of/iu)'-
worldliness of the translators. In the New Version
the true sense of the text is well brought out, " And
the Lord added to them day by day those that were
being saved " — at that time and place.

" Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth."
Do here and noiv and ye shall know of the doctrine. That
is the strait gate and the narrow way leading unto
life, which no Church, as such, for fifteen hundred
years or more, has been able to find, though many
individual men in all ages have entered therein.

Among these, the chief in our day is Count Leo
Tolstoy, who appears to me to come nearer the mind
of Christ, in his comprehension of the Kmgdom of
God on earth, than even the great Apostle Paul
himself, through whose writings a certain regretable
strain of otherworldliness runs. Take even that magni-
ficent passage where he says not boastfully, but in
the spirit of matchless heroism : " For now am 1
ready to be offered up. I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course, I have kept the faith."
Could anything well be grander ? But when he
proceeds, " Henceforth there is laid up for me a
crown of righteousness,'' etc., otherivorldliness creeps
in, and he carries my sympathy with him no farther.
If I should be found among those entitled either to
a Pauline " crown of righteousness," or a Petrine
" crown of glory that fadeth not away," my feelings
would be, I think, to hand my diadem to any one
who might seem to want it, and ask instead for
some few millions of years of sweet oblivion, before
I was again called into the stormful arena of con-
scious being. But — Fiat Voluntas Tua !

It is recorded of the saintly Madame Guion, the
Catholic, that, in a vision, she met an angel bearing
a furnace and a pot of water. " Whither goest



AND CIVIC DUTY. 25

thou ? " she asked. " I go," said the angel, " with
this furnace to burn up Paradise, and with this
water to quench Hell, that men may hereafter love
God without fear and without hope of reward."
And without love to our brother whom we have
seen, how are we to love God whom we have not
seen ? " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the
least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto
Me."

The Nonconformist Manifesto may, therefore, I
think, be regarded as a notable " sign of the times,"
indicating a certain disposition, on the part at least
oi the Free Churches, to return from the arid wastes
of otherwovldliness to the green pastures of primitive
Christian faith and humanitarian practice. They
have made a start, at all events, in the right direc-
tion, and, after aberrations so protracted, that is much
to be thankful for. The more they do, the more cer-
tainly shall they learn, and the Spirit of Truth that
leadeth unto all truth, may yet make their light
so shine before men that '• political parties " shall
cease from troubling, and the State itself, which is
always Pagan in its essence, be transformed into the
Kingdom of God.

Thy Kingdom come !




V.

OUR LABOUR CHURCHES: A PER-
SONAL EXPERIENCE.

Laborare est orare (To labour is to pray,)
My Father worketh hitherto and I work. — Jksus Christ.



Let him that stole steal no more, but rather let him labour,
working with his hands. . . . These hands ministered lo my
necessities and to them that were with me. — St, Paul.



Woe to him that increases that which is not his. — Habakuk
(11.6)

That which he laboured for shall he restore, and shall not
swallow it down ; according to the substance that he hath gotten
he shall not rejoice. For he hath oppressed and forsaken the
Pcor ; he hath violently taken away an house, and he shall not
build it up — Job xx,, i8, 19.




NDULGENT readers, I feel sure,will excuse
me if 1 am a trifle garrulous on a subject
with which many of them are better ac-
quainted than I have the good fortune to
be. But on Sunday, Jan. 13, '95, I had the honour to
address the members of the Labour Church at Brad-
ford, afternoon and evening, and the experience
brought me so many reflections that other topics were,
for several days, pretty well crowded out of what Lord
Westbury would, peradvcnture, have observed "you

26



OUR LABOUR CHURCHES. 2"]

are pleased to call your mind." Anyhow, my first
Labour Church experience was on this wise : —

I duly started for my destination from King's Cross,
on Saturday afternoon, and but for a single fellow-
passenger, who, about mid-way, dropped into my
carriage — as excellent a third as man could wish — I
was sole occupant. I was profitably ruminating
over "Free-Railway-Travel" Cooper of Norwich's
calculation that, under our supremely wasteful
system of competition, every railway traveller has got
to pay for at least seven vacant seats in addition to that
actually occupied by him, at the moment when my
companion for the rest of the journey presented
himself.

He was a young Anglican cleric, probably about
thirty, " all shaven and shorn " and equipped in the
regulation mock-modest uniform of his Trades
Union. He had evidently been to visit " the Squire
and his relations," "killing something," for conspicu-
ous among his portable property was a goodly phea-
sant, which manifestly added not a little to his
contentment and sense of general superiority.

Now towards all men who make a trade or pro-
fession of the religion of Christ I am invincibly hos-
tile, and this particular representative of "that great
lying Church " of Carlyle's aversion, did not at first
impress me favourably. Nevertheless, he courteously
divided a comfortable rug with me, and we at once
began to talk freely. He had not been long located
in Bradford, was ecclesiastically " high," and politi-
cally " low " — a " Socialist " in fact !

In turn I told him my mission to Bradford was to
address the Labour Church — with an emphasis on
Church — whereat he looked rather uncomfortable.
And for sufficient reason. He evidently could not
imagine a Church without Bishops and without
ceremonial. He had in fact, been educated in
Anglican Chttvchianity, and knew little or nothing of



28 OUR LABOUR CHURCHES:

the spirit of Christ's teaching, or even of the most
primitive institutions of the Christian Chucrhes.
When told that a Bishop or Overseer was originally
nothing more than a Presbyter or Elder, selected by
his fellow Elders to discharge some particular
function for a period more or less extended, and that
Episcopal pretentions to superior sanctity or
autliority are to-day the product of undiluted priest-
craft and usurpation, my cleric took refuge in gloomy
silence. He, in fact, knew only the pagan element
which has been so ruinously worked into the
Christian Faith, and could with ease have been
placed hopelessly hovs de combat, by any average
member of the Bradford Labour Church, in private
conversation or on a public platform. Who shall


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Online LibraryJ. Morrison (John Morrison) DavidsonNew politics for the people. Let there be light! 1.-Religion. 2.-Politics. 3.-The family. 4.-Economics. 5.-Miscellanea .. → online text (page 2 of 13)