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intervallo, the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But unlike the Gospel, although it enjoins love to one another with the urgency which is due, it unseals no fresh source and brings to light no new motives of love. A mere doctrinal inculcation of the duty of active and affectionate beneficence, under the barbarous name of altruism, is its highest service as a system of religion, what it has added thereto being worse than useless, because tending to render even “the royal law" of love itself ridiculous.
Is it not instructive that Comte should have been unable to devise anything better than the so-called religion of which I have been speaking, and that neither he nor any other person who has attempted to raise a substitute for Christianity on the basis of science has failed signally to display his own feebleness and folly? The character of the religions which have been invented in the present age is no slight indirect confirmation of the divine origin of the religion which they would displace. If all that men can do in the way of religious invention, even in the nineteenth century, and with every help which science can give them, is like what we have seen them doing, the religion which has come down to us through so many centuries can have been no human invention. It could not have been originated by science; and were it withdrawn, science would assuredly find no substitute for it. Take it away and we should be left even at this hour in absolute spiritual darkness and helplessness. That is the truth which all modern attempts to found and form new religions concur in establishing.
1 See Appendix XXII.
THE subject of my last lecture was Positivism. Now I wish to speak of Secularism. These two theories are nearly related in nature. They are manifestations of the same principles and tendencies. They may almost be said to be the two halves of the same whole; in other words, securalism may be regarded as the theory of life or conduct which flows from the theory of belief or knowledge that constitutes the substance of positivism. And yet it would be an error to represent secularism as historically an offshoot of positivism. It may fairly claim, I believe, to be as much of English growth as positivism must be admitted to be of French growth. Its representatives have been, it is true, considerably influenced by the writings of the founder of positivism, and still more influenced by the writings of his English followers, particularly by those of Mr J. S. Mill and G. H. Lewes; but in the main their scepticism is a native product. Thomas Paine and Richard Carlile, Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, Robert Owen and George Combe,—all contributed at least as much to the formation of secularism as Auguste Comte.
It is difficult, or rather impossible, to ascertain to what extent secularism is prevalent. There are, so far as I know, no reliable statistics on the subject. Many are doubtless complete secularists who do not call themselves so, and who belong to no secularist society. On the other hand, some who call themselves secularists, and perhaps even the majority of the members of some of the secularist societies, hold probably only a very small part of what is usually implied by the term secularism. Mr Holyoake represents what may be called one school of secularists, and Mr Bradlaugh another; and one main difference between them is, that the former denies that the principles of secularism include atheism, while the latter affirms that they do. Yet even Mr Bradlaugh does not hold that atheism is a necessary condition of membership in secularist associations. Such membership may, consequently, be in some, or even in many cases, merely the expression of more or less dissatisfaction with the theology taught in our churches, and of sympathy with
certain projected social and political changes. It may not exclude either belief in a God or belief in a future state. Hence even those who ought to know best the strength of secularism are found to differ widely from one another as to what its strength is, and as to whether its strength be increasing or not. In proof, I may quote from the discussion between Messrs Bradlaugh and Holyoake held in the New Hall of Science, London, in 1870. The former thus replies to the latter's statement that the Freethought party is in a state of disorganisation : "I presume my friend means relatively to some other period of their existence. It is so disorganised, that I think we can send something like a hundred petitions to the House of Commons in favour of any measure we desire to support. It is so disorganised, that within three days I will undertake to have all the principal towns of England and Scotland placarded with any particular placard which it is desired to have brought before the notice of the people. It is so disorganised, that there is not a large town, not a village in England, not a large town in the south of Scotland, and not many in the north, not many in the south-west of Ireland, that within four or five days I could not have any kind of communication placed by the hands of the members of the Secular Society in the hands of the clergymen of those towns. I am not speaking of what could be