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Britain and Ireland in the time of Grattan's Parliament, neither of them encouraging. But this doctrine appears too much outside practical politics to be worth fuller discussion.
Doubtless it will be objected to all constructive proposals that they are a departure from existing constitutional practice, and in particular from the system of party government and ministerial responsibility. I have tried to show that, whether we like it or not, the departure has begun already. The Tadpoles and Tapers may raise a hue and cry, but they will get little more comfort than Micah of Ephraim when he sought to recover his ephod and images and teraphim and priest, and was turned back with a short answer by the men of Dan, appointed with weapons of war, who had annexed them. I am free to confess that, if party government and party management are to be regarded as an inviolable ark of the covenant, it is extremely difficult to see how any working plan for the governance of the Empire as a whole can be framed. But the judgment of the people both here and overseas, I venture to think, will be that, if party government will not do for the British Empire, the British Empire will do without party government.
Art. 2.—THE INDICTMENT AGAINST CHRISTIANITY.
No thinking man can deny that this war has grievously stained the reputation of Europe. Even if the verdict of history confirms the opinion that the conspiracy which threw the torch into the powder-magazine was laid by a few persons in one or two countries, and that the unparalleled outrages which have accompanied the conflict were ordered by a small coterie of brutal officers, we cannot forget that these crimes have been committed by the responsible representatives of a civilised European power, and that the nation which they represent has shown no qualms of conscience. That such a calamity, the permanent results of which include a holocaust of European wealth and credit, accumulated during a century of unprecedented industry and ingenuity, the loss of innumerable lives, and the destruction of all the old and honourable conventions which have hitherto regulated the intercourse of civilised nations with each other, in war as well as in peace, should have been possible, is justly felt to be a reproach to the whole continent, and especially to the nations which have taken the lead in its civilisation and culture. The ancient races of Asia, which have never admitted the moral superiority of the West, are keenly interested spectators of our suicidal frenzy. A Japanese is reported to have said, “We have only to wait a little longer, till Europe has completed her hara kiri.' This is, indeed, what any intelligent observer must think about the present struggle. Just as the feudal barons of England destroyed each other and brought the feudal system to an end in the Wars of the Roses, so the great industrial nations are rending to pieces the whole fabric of modern industrialism, which can never be reconstructed. Mr Norman Angell was perfectly right in his argument that a European war would be ruinous to both sides. The material objects at stake, such as the control of the Turkish Empire and the African continent, are not worth more than an insignificant fraction of the war-bill. We are witnessing the suicide of a social order, and our descendants will marvel at our madness, as we marvel at the senseless wars of the past.
There has, it is plain, been something fundamentally wrong with European civilisation, and the disease appears to be a moral one. With this conviction it is natural that men should turn upon the official custodians of religion and morality, and ask them whether they have been unfaithful to their trust, or whether it is not rather proved that the faith which they profess is itself bankrupt and incapable of exerting any salutary influence upon human character and action. Christianity stands arraigned at the bar of public opinion. But it is not without significance that the indictment should now be urged with a vehemence which we do not find in the records of former convulsions. It was not generally felt to be a scandal to Christianity that England was at war for 69 years out of the 120 which preceded the battle of Waterloo. Either our generation expected more from Christianity, or it was far more shocked by the sudden outbreak of this fierce war than our ancestors were by the almost chronic condition of desultory campaigning to which they were accustomed. The latter is probably the true reason. The belief in progress, which at the beginning of the industrial revolution was an article of faith, had become a tacitly accepted presupposition of all serious thought; and even those who were dubious about the moral improvement of mankind in other directions seldom denied that we were more humane and peaceable than our forefathers. The disillusion has struck our self-complacency in its most vital spot. Nothing in our own experience had prepared us for the hideous savagery and vandalism of German warfare, the first accounts of which we received with blank amazement and incredulity. Then, when disbelief was no
. longer possible, there awoke within us a sense of fear for our homes and women and children-a feeling to which modern civilised man had long been a stranger. We had not supposed that the non-combatant population of any European country would ever again be exposed to the horrors of savage warfare. This, much more than the war itself, has made thousands feel that the house of civilisation is built upon the sand, and that Christianity has failed to subdue the most barbarous instincts of human nature. Christians cannot regret that the flagrant contradiction between the principles of their
creed and the scenes that have been enacted during the last three years is fully recognised. But the often repeated statement that Christianity has failed' needs more examination than it usually receives from those who utter it.
History acquaints us with two kinds of religion, which, though they are not entirely separate from each other, differ very widely in their effects upon conduct and morality. The religio which Lucretius hated, and from which he strangely hoped that the atomistic materialism of Epicurus had finally delivered mankind, has its roots in the sombre and confused superstitions of the savage. Fear, as Statius and Petronius tell us, created the gods of this religion. These deities are mysterious and capricious powers, who exact vengeance for the transgression of arbitrary laws which they have not revealed, and who must be propitiated by public sacrifice, lest some collective punishment fall on the tribe, blighting its crops and smiting its herds with murrain, or giving it over into the hand of its enemies. This religion makes very little attempt to correct the current standard of values. Its rewards are wealth and prosperity ; its punishments are calamity in this world and perhaps torture in the next. It is not, however, incapable of moralisation. The wrath of heaven may visit not the innocent violation of some tabu, but cruelty and injustice. In the historical books of the Old Testament, though Uzzah is stricken dead for touching the ark, and the subjects of King David afflicted with pestilence because their ruler took a census of his people, Jehovah is above all things a righteous God, who punishes bloodshed, adultery, and social oppression. So in Greece the Furies pursue the homicide and the perjurer, till the name of his family is clean put out. Herodotus tells us how the family of Glaucus was extinguished because he consulted the oracle of Delphi about an act of embezzlement which he was meditating.
International law was protected by the same fear of divine vengeance. The murder of heralds must by all means be expiated. When the Romans repudiate their 'scrap of paper' with the Samnites, they deliver up to the enemy the officers who signed it, though (with characteristic slimness ') not the army which the mountaineers had captured and liberated under the agreement. To destroy the temples in an enemy's country was an act of wanton impiety; Herodotus cannot understand the religious intolerance which led the Persians to burn the shrines of Greek gods. Thus religion had a restraining influence in war throughout antiquity, and in the middle ages. The Pope, who was believed to hold the keys of future bliss and torment, was frequently, though by no means always, obeyed by the turbulent feudal lords, and often enforced the sanctity of a contract by the threat or the imposition of excommunication and interdict. In order to make these penalties more terrible, the torments of those who died under the displeasure of the Church were painted in the most vivid colours. But in the official and popular Christian eschatology, as in the terrestrial theodicy of the Old Testament, there is little or no moral idealism. The joys or pains of the future life are made to depend, in part at least, on the observance or violation of the moral law, but they are themselves of a kind which the natural man would desire or dread. They are an enhanced, because a deferred, retribution of the same kind which in more primitive religions promises earthly prosperity to the righteous, and earthly calamities to the wicked. Values, positive and negative, are taken nearly as they stand in the estimation of the average man.
But there is another religious tradition, which in Greece was almost separated from the official and national cults, and among the Hebrews was often in opposition to them. The Hebrew prophets certainly proclaimed that the history of the world is the judgment of the world,' and often assumed, too crudely as it seems to us, that national calamities are a proof of national transgression ; but the whole course of development in prophecy was towards an autonomous morality based on a spiritual valuation of life.
Its quarrel with sacerdotalism was mainly directed against the unethical tabu-morality of the priesthood; the revolt was grounded in a lofty moral idealism, which found expression in a half-symbolic vision of a coming state in which might and right should coincide. The apocalyptic prophecies of post-exilic Judaism, which were not based, like some political predictions of the