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sympathize in the sufferings of those who are in the condition of slaves throughout the world. But while her gaze can extend across the Atlantic; and while her honest and genuine sympathy is often disgraced by the cant and fanaticism of those who would be its organs, surely it cannot be wrong for us to sympathize with those of her own population, whom avarice, or the interests of capital have buried in the bowels of the earth in her mining districts. Delicate women and tender children, as reported to Parliament, were found in the mines, with harness fitted to them, and obliged to drag loads on their hands and knees, after the manner of beasts. Passing from these again, to the pauper class, we see that the Public Economy directs their classification in a manner, such as, in some countries, would be regarded as a violation of the rights of human nature. The dearest ties—even those which constitute the last sweet drop, in the cup of poverty, are rudely disregarded and ruptured. Husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, are separated from each other, and distributed in the establishments of public relief, as if they were malefactors, guilty of some social crime. Now, the worst feature in this system of Political Economy is, not precisely that the facts are so; but that the prejudices of the nation, like the principles of the science itself, as looking to individual interest as the life-spring of society, do not allow them even to conceive, that things ought to be otherwise. And so true is this, that according to the recognized principle, you may pass all the various members of society in review, and you will be unable to discover to whom the fault belongs; and in fact, according to the principle of self-interest, the fault belongs nowhere ! Every man for himself.
It is the contemplation of all this, that has impelled many benevolent, but, as I conceive, mistaken persons, to conclude, that society in general is organized on a vicious principle. Individuals of this description have stood forth, in France, England, and this country also, flattering themselves with the hope of being able to withdraw sorne portion of their fellow beings from the miseries which they regard as essentially connected with the actual state of things. For this purpose, various schemes and schools of Political Economy have made their appearance, encouraging separate systems of private socialism, founded each on some favourite theory. These either have failed, or will fail; and principally for the reason that, while they have discovered the self-interest which operates so injuriouly in the present systems, they have not discovered in those which they would substitute, any other principle of sufficient power to correct it. This can be done only through a renovated faith, and a practical exercise of the virtues prescribed by religion. The tendency of society in general, at leazt in all that appertains to Political Economy, is in the opposite direction; and there is but little hope that its course will be arrested until nations, as well as individuals, shall have been punished for their great social error.
How much ink has been shed in describing the evils which now press on the people, at least the labouring classes, of Great Britain! How much of profounded meditation has been employed, in vain efforts to find a solution for the social problem of that country! And though many of her statesmen have begun to trace these evils back to their true cause, yet few have proclaimed the discovery, and tewer still have ventured to suggest the true remedy. Sometimes the evils are charged to one cause, sometimes to another. Now it is the “restrictions on commerce;" and now, it is an “excess of population over and above the wants of consumption.” But no one has, as yet, contended for the true cause; that is, the absence of a religious power which should be able to extend the obligation of duties, in exact proportion with the extension of rights. The social machine, in its relations to Political Economy, has been left to regulate itself, by the spring of mere individual interestst; and it is manifest that the weights and balances necessary to restore its equilibrium and to regulate its motion, cannot be adjusted except by the invocation of some extrinsic power, such as can be found in practical Christianity alone. The earth is not expected to furnish itself with light and heat: these come from the sun. So also, with regard to the practical Political Economy of modern nations—unless its lips be touched and purified with living coals from the altars of Divine Religion, it can never accomplish the entire purpose, according to which society is an institution of God. Any religion which can accomplish this-whatever may be the truth or the error of its other dogmas, will have rendered essential service to humanity. It is on this account that Political Economy, as a science, appears to me inadequate and defective. It would be more complete, and certainly inore exalted, if, instead of regarding man as the mere " producer” and “ consumer” of material wealth, it took cognizance of his intellectual, moral, and religious nature. It may, however, be objcted, that these faculties, being spiritual and not material, have nothing to do with the subject. This seems to me an unfounded conclusion. The ancient Persians, for instance, held, as a religious opinion, that anything which could defile the waters of the ocean was sinful. Here, then, is an important branch of Political Economy-maritime commerce-affected by a religious conviction ! After the expulsion of the missionaries from Japan, the Government of that country required that the merchants of Europe who wished to trade with its own, should, as a condition, sine qua non, trample on the emblem of Christianity, the Cross. Holland, alone, agreed to the terms. Here then, the absence of a religious conviction on the mind of one nation of Europe, affected the entire trade of Christendom with Japan! The calculations of revenue formed by Sir Robert Peel are founded on the most positive data of Political Economy; and yet, an idea—a moral idea-springing into the mind of a humble but excellent priest in Cork,* disturbs the Minister's conclusions, to the amount of between two and three millions of our currency, in the annual excise
Cuties on one single article! Time does not permit me to enlarge on the proofs, or facts, going to show that not only intellect and moral sentiments, but also the affections and virtues of the heart, have all of them an essential bearing on the subject.
In assuming the “importance of a Christian basis” for Political Economy, I did not indeed imagine, as you may easily conceive, that the system now so deeply and almost universally established, could be transferred to any other foundation than that on which it rests. But when I consider the nature of the evils which press upon so large a portion of modern society, it seems to me, that a preventive, if not a remedy, is discoverable in the Political Economy, (so to call it,) of the old Catholic Church. She had, pre-eminently, the faculty of guiding the affections and energies of markind, in the direction most required by the actual wants of society in given times and circumstances. She differed from the modern religions, essentially on one great point; namely, that, while they teach that salvation is “by faith alone,” and that good works have no merit, though they are provided for, as consequences of faith ; she taught that they are to be concomitants of belief; that faith without works, is dead in itself; and that whatever good we do to one of the least of Christ's disciples, He will reward as if done to himself. This is the turning point of difference between the Political Economy of the Catholic Church, and that of the religions which have been substituted in its stead. Thus, she created an interest not to be estimated by the acquisition or exchange of material wealth, but by the consideration of advantages in the spiritual order and in the life to come. This doctrine, like the principle of life in the human body, vivified the spirit, and influenced the actions of her members. Besides, she conceived human nature as having been exalted and ennobled through the Incarnation and Redemption, by the Son of God. Hence she valued human beings according to the high dignity of their ransom, irrespective of wealth or poverty? She has, indeed, been reproached with the tendency to abridge the rights of men. But the explanation of this is to be found, in the fact, that the inherent selfishness of fallen humanity, prompts them to claim injurious immunities; while, as she conceived, her office was to apportion duties according to the means which Providence furnished for the discharge of them. Men are prompt to assert their rights; but prone to forget that every right is accompanied with a corresponding duty. To every class and condition she assigned its own peculiar range of Christian obligation. To Sovereigns and Legislators, those of justice and mercy in the enactment and execution of laws. To the rich, moderation in enjoyment, and liberality toward the poor. To the poor, patience under their trials, and affection toward their wealthier brethren. Toward all, the common obligation of loving one another, not in word, but in deed. Neither was this by a uniforın development of the principles of the Christian doctrine from the pulpit alone, but by a rigid process of self-examination and self-accusation, which was incumbent on every individual, when preparing for the
Sacraments of Penance and of the Holy Eucharist. Here, the lawgiver, the landlord, the capitalist, and the labourer-all men of all classes were required to stand at least once a year in judgment upon themselves, in the presence of God and of his minister.
Far be it from me to insinuate or assert, that these great leading duties are not set forth to the people by the religions which have taken the place of the Catholic faith in Great Britain. But I think it will be evident that, in them all, there are wanting the means for their practical inculcation. First, because the paramount motive has been utterly destroyed by rejecting the “merit of good works,” and proclaiming “salvation by faith alone.” It is, indeed, alleged that, by a higher motive still, works, as the consequence, or fruits, or evidence, of faith, are provided for. But still, those who enjoin works of this kind, since they declare them to be of “no merit” in the sight of God, seem to pull down with one hand what they have built up with the other. Besides this, in the new system of religion, every man claims to be the judge of his moral duties, as well as of his religious faith. Thus you perceive that the only motive left, as inducements for the performance of good works, in this system, are essentially of the human and temporal order. Now the manifestations of these fundamental principles are obvious, in the social developments under the influence of the two religions. Of its consequences, in the one case, the preceding remarks of this lecture are a sufficient exhibition. Rights are claimed--interests are prosecuted--every one that can, throws the burthen from himself. Each is the judge of his own moral and social duties-and self-love blinds him against what would require the sacrifice of his material interests, even if religion presented any adequate motive for making that sacrifice. Wealth is accumulating enormously on one side--poverty, deep and distressing, spreads on the other ;--England is the richest, and the poorest country on the globe; and where, or to whom, belongs the guilt of this social anomaly, no man can determine!
The type of the other doctrine has developed itself in those principles and institutions which incur the censure, and sometimes the hatred, even of those who are the victims of their overthrow. If they were errors in religion, it is the more to be regretted, as they would have been blessings in Social, if not in Political Economy. They would have been, first of all, a merciful resource for the condition of the poor, which now constitutes the great puzzle of Political Economists, throughout the three kingdoms. The interests of man-laking in his spiritual nature and his eternal destiny-would be surveyed from a high and holy eminence. And when the rich man gave, of his abundance, to the needy, he would be acting, not against, but according to this principle of Christian interest. When the prince or the noble, moved by the “ Amor Jesu nobilis,” descended from his elevated position, to put on the sandals, the garment, and the girdle of religious poverty, in some monastic order, he understood, perfectly well, what he was about-comprehended the advantage of the step; and, whether he was mistaken or not, his determination was of infinite importance to the condition of the destitute. He became poor from a religious motive, having first, perhaps, given his property to the relief of the class to whose condition he attached himself. He became their mediator with the rich
-his own example had a powerful influence on them—he represented the necessity of alms-deeds—he spoke of their common Saviour, as having, in his own person, selected the condition of poverty; and reminded them that whatever they did for their suffering brethren, was done for Christ.
It was by the spirit of this doctrine of good works, that hospitals and asylums for the afflicted, sprang, as if spontaneously, into existence, in all parts of Great Britain, as well as of other European countries. It was by this that every kind of social evil, whether in physical suffering or in moral destitution, found whole armies of volunteers, ready to go in the face of pestilence and death, and this without human recompense, to counteract its ravages. It was by this, that individuals were constantly found ready to devote themselves to every species of good works.
The question in connection with this subject, is not whether these individuals were acting under a genuine principle of christianity or not, but it is, whether their devotion had any bearing upon the Political Economy of the country. That it had, is in my mind, beyond dispute. Firstly: In such a state of things, no poor law would be necessary. Secondly: The burthen of their support would not be regarded as a burthen, but as a privilege, and would fall on individuals in the rank of landlords and capitalists, instead of labourers as at present. Thirdly: The expense of supporting the poor would not be increased by the enormous sums which are paid to state officers, in that department. Fourthly: The ecclesiastical revenues, which have now quite a different direction, would be applied to that purpose. Fifihly: But besides all this, the influence of the doctrine I have alluded to, would infuse a spirit of gentle kindness into the treatment of the poor, which would leave no room for those dark and bitter passions against society, with which their breasts are now, too often, agitated; for it is a shocking feature of our times, that distinguished writers on Political Economy, have gone so far, as to maintain that poverty when it reaches the point of destitution ought to be treated as “infamy,” in order to make the struggle for self support of the sinking labourer “honourable.”
If this reasoning, and these reflections be correct we see what has been the cause of the prevailing distress; and what would have been the preventive or the remedy. And in either case, the great social calamity which is every day becoming more and more formidable, in the estimation of British statesmen and political economists, instead of being, as it now is, apparently irremediable, would never have existed at all.
Some may imagine that in following out this subject, my judgment has been warped by a natural partiality for the religion to which I belong. This is, in