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has given no reasons for entertaining it, and I need give none for rejecting it. I have noticed it merely to show that as to the nature of religion there is even a lower depth than that into which Comte fell. He failed to see that only a religion which is based on the conviction that there is a reality higher than man's highest ideals, can satisfy the intellect and heart; and he fancied, in consequence, that a finite being—a being which can be exalted and magnified by idealisation—was an appropriate object of adoration. But great as was this error, it was, of course, far less monstrous than to teach that religion was wholly independent of belief in truth or reality, and that men ought only to worship in the future what they know to be the fictions of their own minds.
The positivist religion presents to us as an object of worship a trinity of existences—the earth, space, and humanity. The earth is called the Supreme Fetich, space the Supreme Medium and humanity the Supreme Being. The positivist is instructed duly to commemorate the services of our common mother, the earth, and of her coeval institution, space; but humanity is to be the chief object of his worship. True piety consists in having the thoughts, affections, and volitions ever bent on the preservation and amelioration of humanity. This humanity is by no means, however, what is ordinarily called humanity. It is something very peculiar indeed. It is neither human nature, nor the human race, nor the aggregate of living men. It is said to be an organism of which individuals and generations, whether belonging to the past, present, or future, are inseparable parts, and yet it excludes multitudes of the human species, and includes some of the lower animals. It does not comprehend savage and unprogressive peoples, or individuals without any particular merits. It consists for the most part of the dead and the unborn. The majority of the living are only its servants, without the power at present of becoming its organs. It is only seven years after they are dead, and on condition of their being found worthy of “subjective immortality,” that they are to be “ incorporated in the Supreme Being.” The incorporation is to be effected by the vote of the positivist community. As the positivist believes in the annihilation of all the dead, and as the future generations are not yet in existence, his Supreme Being is obviously a being which is largely no being at all, an entity which is for the most part a non-entity. The notion of it is, in fact, so self-contradictory, that it can only be expressed in language which seems intended to caricature it.
That this should be the case is all the more remarkable, because Comte was fully aware how incumbent upon him it was accurately to deter
mine what was to be meant by humanity. He knew and acknowledged that a clear and consistent conception of the signification of the term was to his theory of religion as indispensable as is a solid and well-laid foundation-stone to a building; that to attain and exhibit such a conception was his first duty in connection with the new faith which he desired to propagate; and that if he failed in this part of his self-imposed task, his failure as a rival of St Paul must be fatal and total. Impressed with these convictions, he could not, as a conscientious thinker, do otherwise than bestow much labour in attempting to ascertain and explain the nature of the humanity which he represented as an object of worship. His failure certainly cannot be attributed to his having shrunk from the requisite exertion. He toiled long and hard on the subject. Still fail he did, and most signally. The notion of humanity as he has presented it in the ‘Positive Polity,' although the very corner-stone of his religion, is so self-contradictory and incoherent, that it can only be expressed in Hibernicisms. It is composed of concrete and abstract, positive and metaphysical elements, of facts and fictions, of entity and nonentity. An obvious inference is, that Comte cannot have founded the religion of humanity.
While the object of the positivist faith is extremely ill defined, its organisation and worship
are most minutely delineated. This is the consequence, however, not of internal self-consistency and reasonableness, but of imitation of Roman Catholicism. While Comte abandoned the great and comprehensive principles which the Roman Catholic Church holds in common with the rest of the Christian world, he retained many of the distinctive prejudices which it sanctions and engenders, and copied its policy and ritual in describing the constitution and prescribing the worship of what he believed would be the religion of the future. He demanded that there should be set apart to the service of humanity an order of priests or savants, composed of positivist philosophers, hierarchically arranged, with a supreme pontiff at their head, to whom absolute powers are to be intrusted in intellectual or spiritual matters. This priesthood is to be salaried by the State ; is to have the entire charge of public education and of the practice of medicine; and is to counsel, and, if need be, reprove the temporal power. The high priest must reside in Paris, the holy city of the new religion. There are to be ecclesiastical courts and laws. The temples should all face towards Paris, and are to be furnished with altars, images, &c. The dress of the clergy is to be rather more feminine than masculine. Eighty-one solemn festivals, secondary or principal, are to constitute the worship annually paid
to the Great Being by its servants assembled in its temples. Each step in life is to have its special consecration, and hence the sacraments of the new religion are to be nine in number,-presentation, initiation, admission, destination, marriage, maturity, retreat, transformation, and incorporation. Private prayers are to be presented thrice a-day; the morning prayer is to be an hour, the mid-day prayer a quarter of an hour, and the evening prayer half an hour in length. What is called “the beautiful creation of the medieval mindthe woman with the child in her arms,” is selected as the symbol of humanity; and “ to give life and vividness to this symbol, and to worship in general, each positivist is taught to adopt as objects of his adoration his mother, his wife, his daughter, allowing the principal part to the mother, but blending the three into one compound influence-representing to him humanity in its past, its present, and its future.
I must not more minutely describe the monstrous mixture of atheism, fetichism, ultramontanism, and ritualism, which claims to be the Religion of Humanity, so absurd and grotesque is it. Almost its only noble characteristic is the spirit of disinterestedness which it breathes, the stress which it lays on the duty of living for the good of others. In this respect it has imitated, although longo