Page images

always had great respect for the motives of community life as voluntarily practiced by the early Christians, as voluntarily entered into by all the Fatherhoods and Brotherhoods of the Catholic Church, and as voluntarily organized and entered into bv the founders and members of modern Christian or Socialistic communities from the Brook Farm movement to the Russian communities and the communities founded or attempted by the immortal and beautiful John Ruskin—himself being greater than all of them together—still I have never believed in the wisdom or the stability or the actual need of these communities in or out of the Church. I do not oppose them. I simply doubt their wisdom, doubt the need of them, their stability, or, in fact, their harmony with any form of human society.

I therefore do not blame Tolstoy for never having become a communist out and out. I rather credit it to his good sense. I simply blame him for playing with, dabbling in, pretending to expound and to live the life of a communist, when he had never studied the question in its core and never really attempted to live the life he babbled about.

I think the fact that the Christian Catholic Church grew up in all nations and among all peoples, without ever attempting to practice or to command or to inculcate the dogmas or practice of a community of goods and having all things in common, is the clearest proof that Christ never meant that it should be so, and that it was found after due trial not to be a working hypothesis for any human society.

The Church doubtless accepted the habit of the early Giristians to bring all things and lay them at the Apostles' feet as a natural outburst of gratitude to God—as a man and woman feel when their first child is born—and the Church, like eventrue teacher, has always insisted upon sincerity of action. The trouble between Ananias and Sapphira, the trouble between this enthusiastic couple and Saint Peter and the Almighty was not in the fact that they did not bring all and give it up to the Apostles, but that they said they did bring all. It was not the fact of their not yielding everything. No God and no church asks that. It was the fact that they lied to God and His apostle. They were liars, and no liar can be a Christian.

This would thin the ranks to skeleton proportions in pur time, doubtless, but we must let the liars mix with the truth

[graphic][ocr errors][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


y various

oi goods. I have had the theory preached to me bv
men, who were holding on every day to all tliev had anH „
as much more as possible. b
Some years ago, when sickly, sentimental, would-be pious and
•communistic Presbyterians and Baptists pestered me with such
theories, I said, "Well! what will you do to prove that you be
lieve your miserable jargon?" adding, "I have a house and some
land with certain improvements thereon worth so much ftf
■working or earning capacity at lowest commercial value'
worth so much. I will place them and myself over against what
you have and give, and we will go on the land and work it
raise crops and sell them—so many hours a day being devoted
-to this, the rest to such other work as we can each of us do

selling the product of said work, whatever it may be each man

-working in his own line, but all, rccry dollar, every cent, g0in
into a common treasury. All together, we will own what ah
together, we can earn; and we will provide thus for our own
actual needs and have lots of time, besides, to 'do good' to
our fellow-men, to visit the sick, help the poor and give to

God, and to such church or churches as we may agree to give to." But these pious, mouthing boobies were Tolstoys. They would talk, but not act; so I said, "Go along with you! Mind your own business and try to be decent, true and upright!" I guess they are dead by this time. But the editor of the Globe is not dead.

There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the God-Man, Christ Jesus. Hear Him, as He speaks in His Church, in the Scriptures; and when you think you have something better than this, tell it out in meeting, always being ready to stand by your guns and father your little isms, or keep silent till you have consulted somebody who knows better than you and can show you wherein you are wrong. There are more fool men and women preaching reform in these days than would save all the inhabitants of all the planets of the solar system and all the stars and suns of the boundless universe. The only trouble is that the teachers are themselves untaught.

I not only believe in God, in Christ and in His Church. I believe in government and in modern Christian society. I do not believe in all that the priests or the politicians do or say. We have this treasure of God and of government and of society in earthen vessels. In a word, we are all human and liable to err and to sin, from the Pope to the President. But God is not liable to err or to sin; and His Church, in its authoritative final utterances, is infallible.

I believe in all the institutions of modern society, and, above all, in the sanctity of marriage and in the sacredness of all family ties. I hate and abominate divorce; I have always opposed it in word and act.

I despise as an enemy of truth, justice and the human race any and every man or woman who speaks lightly or ridicules the absolute sacredness of domestic life. Marriage is older than any priesthood or convent; the oldest, sacredest and divinest right known to humanity. It is older than any church, and its rights and claims are as sacred as the very heart of God.

The man or the woman who writes books or articles for newspapers or magazines that cast a slur upon this right and treat it as a failure I hold to be born of hell and deserving to be damned.

I have no quarrel with any priesthood or any convent. The v,v v*on»u — _ - nis or her We in (he spirit


^*<xy«v«. <co Coo.' s ^rima\VW»a as interpreted by the Master

^ov,\v^e Tyo\_ Wve -righteousness of the whole universe in your ^socV Ot \rv your white robe, my dear father or my dear m ^t, there may be there are many noble

^w corner., lathers ana rmnners ot families

living- and

and praying in this world whose self-imposed burdens aTe a hundred times greater than yours, and before

whom you

Wht hend the knee in loving veneration.

\ have not only always taught thus and believed thus; I have Y,ved thus for now nearly fifty years. I am poor as when I began my Presbyterian ministry, nearly forty years ago, but I ciare any man or woman on this earth to rise and say wherein I have ever wronged him or her. I have never shirked an obligation or a duty. I have slipped and have fallen at times, hurting mainly myself. I make no boast, but simply this: I have lived as I have taught, and I hold in unutterable scorn the modern boobies who, from lack of knowledge or from perverted and presumptuous so-called knowledge, think that they have something better than Christ or better than God's true religion wherewith to feed mankind.

The prattle of Tolstoy and his would-be followers and admirers is especially dangerous and misleading to young men in the formative period of their thought. The heart of youth is generous and disposed to truth and goodness. It takes with •vidity whatever bears the semblance of humanitarian kindness * d helpfulness, especially whatever impresses it as the heroic ^ction of self-sacrifice. It was with this glamor around him ^hat Count Tolstoy was introduced to the English and American public some twenty-five or thirty years ago. The idea of a Russian Count becoming a laboring man and relinquishing title and possible honor and gain for the sake of humanity! Why, he must be a second Paul or a Christ of heaven come again! Now, we find that he relinquished nothing that he cared to keep; and we commend his action in the latter regard, while utterly condemning his pretentious teachings.

In his tract, "Thou shalt not kill," Tolstoy is a pretty good Quaker, that is, a Doukhobor, but the commandment is hoary with years and honors. Thousands of English and American Quakers have died in defense of it. If they could have had their way, there never would have been any American Revolution nor any Declaration of Independence, even. They knew that the ways of peace and of God were averse to both. But when did any saints have their way—except through death?

We have said that in this particular matter Tolstoy expresses our thought as well as the thought of thousands of our ancestors and brothers in the good work; but in the last paragraph this very tract, translated, of course, by Mrs. Louise Maude, said Maude never seeing, of course, "the nigger in the woodpile." Here are the last two paragraphs:

"And so the Alexanders, Carnots, Humberts and others must not be killed, but it ought to be proved to them that they are murderers; and above all, they should not be allowed to kill men: their orders to murder should not be obeyed.

"If men do not yet act in this manner, it is only because of the hypnotic influence Governments for self-preservation so diligently exercise on them. Therefore we can contribute toward stopping people killing kings and each other, not by murder; murders only strengthen this hypnotic state, but by awakening men from it."

"Awakening men" from it, to wlvat? contempt for all government? to Anarchy? to Nihilism? Such is plainly the tendency of the Tolstoy teaching, and of all such teaching that does not plainly condemn a specific evil and point out the only safe cure that is found in the New Testament, and that any, the most ignorant man can obtain from any priest of the church, and that Tolstoy does not teach. He liberates from government only to enchain with hell and any form of rebellion; hence modern society, the outgrowth of the teachings of Thomas Jef

« PreviousContinue »