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question we now discuss asks whether Christians can consistently unite and mix with those from whom the Bible commands them to separate themselves.
3. The works of Shakspere are of such a character that members of Christian churches cannot consistently take part in the tercentenary movement. We have seen that they repeatedly treat the name of God with levity, and irreverence, also that they contain gross impurities, the tendeney of which can only be immoral. To take part in the tercentenary movement would certainly be in practice asserting that the works of Shakspere are of such a nature that Christians ean consistently celebrate the fact of such works having been produced.
But are irreverence toward God, lewdness, and immorality, things the existence of which can be consistently celebrated by Christians ? Taking part in the movement referred to will be giving a public sanction to those works with all their gross evils. Here, again, we may be met with the objection that Shakspere's works contain much good. We do not doubt it; but as in some public entertainment there may be much that is unobjectionable, and even desirable, yet, the unobjectionable part of the entertainment having mingled with it that which is of an evil tendency, persons under the influence of a healthy feeling are constrained to reject the good on account of the evil with which it is mixed. A printed sermon may consist chiefly of matter which is true and excellent, yet contain error of such magnitude and awfulness as to make it fit only for the fire, and render it unsuitable for putting into the hands of any individual.
4. Christians cannot take part in the Shakspere tercentenary movement without thereby sanctioning the stage, with all its attendant evils ---evils which comprehend indecent expressions, licentious gestures, immoral suggestions, profanity, blasphemy, the congregating together of persons destitute of virtue, and a host more. We adduce the sayings of a few great minds for the purpose of showing that there has ever been a strong feeling in the breasts of the wise and virtuous against the performances of the stage. Tillotson remarks, “As the stage now is, plays are intolerable, and not fit to be permitted in any civilized, much less Cbristian nation. They do most notoriously minister both to infidelity and vice.” Plato says, “ Plays raise the passions, and pervert the use of them; and of consequence are dangerous to morality.” Aristotle remarks, " The seeing of comedies ought to be forbidden to young people, until age and discipline have made them proof against debauchery.” Tacitus says, “ The German women are guarded against danger, and preserve their purity, by having no playhouses among them.” A clergyman who, though an advocate for the stage, writes as follows, may also be produced as a witness :-" It cannot be denied but that it has been long the fashion, and which has lately grown to a rank excess, to contaminate the language of the drama with a mixture of ribaldry and obscenity, and a profusion of all the contemptible equivocations of indecency. For these no excuse can be pleaded; they tend directly to corrupt the heart and to vitiate the moral sentiments. They profane the sacredness of modesty, and they wither that nice sensibility to the blush of shame which, when on particular occasions it shows its delicate tints on the cheek of youth and beauty, is inexpressibly captivating;' A writer in the British Controversialist once remarked of Shak. spere, "I am not so puritanical as to miss the reading of bis works; but neither am I so carried away with the force and splendour of his wit and genius, but that I can dare venture to say that even our great bard is a dangerous author to read, and many of his plays not fit to be exhibited as he wrote them." All the evils here alluded to will be tacitly sanctioned by those members of Christian churches who take part in the Shakspere tercentenary movement.
5. The publicity of the movement now discussed is an additional objection to its being taken part in by members of Christian churches. We would not for a moment wink at sinning in secret. We would not drop a hint implying that if the appearance of evil be but abstained from, sufficient is done. It is peculiarly nauseating to know that some maintain a decent appearance before their fellow-men, while they are in secret daily practising deceit, dishonesty, and other crimes. Yet there is something which greatly disgusts in a bold, open, shameless, flaunting display of evil in doing wrong, and saying, in the manner of doing it, “We care not who knows it;" and in the present instance it will show not only a disregard of wrong-doing, but a disregard, also, of bringing reproach on the name of Jesus, and of giving men an opportunity of saying, “These professors of religion pretend to be dead to the world, to be spiritually-minded, and to be seeking things which are above; yet, see, they like vanities as well as we do, and do not hesitate to seek them openly and unblushingly : their religion, therefore, is a mere pretence."
6. The terms of the question discussed are not, Can Christians consistently take part in the Shakspere tercentenary movement ? but, Can members of Christian churches do 80? All Christians hare weighty obligations attaching to them, but members of christian churches have additional obligations ; for besides those connected with the unspeakable debt which they owe to God, there are those which they owe to the church of which they are members, the comfort and interest of which they are bound to seek, and the welfare of which they professed to be concerned about when they became united to it. Let it be remembered that members of churches cannot bring reproach on themselves without bringing the same on all the individuals of the church of which they form a part. We believe we have not failed to show the inconsistency of members of Christian churches taking part in the Shak spere tercentenary movement; and if those members feel rightly about their profession and position, the celebration here alluded to will be marked by their absence.
AFFIRMATIVE ARTICLE.-I. CIVILIZATION is one of those great, sounding words with which men deceive themselves, and seek to deceive others. It does not denote any free and legitimate birth of human nature. It is not a process of regeneration, but of degeneration.
Manliness is not cultured by civilization. Independence and personality are set at a sad discount in society, which too often stamps the exhibitions of human selfhood with the vile and tricky Dames of eccentricity, insanity, and crime. Law surrounds man with a whole circle of artificialities. Society imprisons the soul of man in a dungeon of étiquette. Civilization is a round of formalities; hypocrisies are rife in it, and it constantly tends to make men "whited sepulchres." The natural man is noble, even in his ruin. There beat in his bosom the heroisms of life. Even his hatreds, violent though they are, are virile without being virulent. It is only when the superior cunning of civilization encompasses men in their original state that they become depraved, and outdo in cun. ning their civilized and evil-minded foes.
It is a most philosophical, but also a most melancholy confession which Shakspere makes of himself, when he says,
“My nature is subdued
To wbat it works in, like the dyer's hand.” The greatest and the noblest minds are not free from this infirmity. They are encircled in a net of fallacy, and they cannot “cut the Gordian knot" which holds them in its toils. Civilization surrounds them, and they fancy or feel that in every day life "whatever is, is right.” When they look on far distant lands, they look with jaundiced eyes; or when they receive reports of other outlying districts of population, they receive them from parties who have little sympathy with the ways of the lives led there, and less knowledge of its inner amenities. They see the outer husk and rind, but cannot taste the sweetness of the kernel. They misunderstand, and therefore they misreport. They define civilization according to their wishes, not in consistency with facts ; they form an ideal, and they call that ideal real; they close their eyes to the facts which show their errors.
The notable French statesman-littérateur, sensible of the impolicy of definition in a case of this sort, condescends to a kind of rhetorical trick to get out of the difficulty, by saying, “In studying; as a fact, the meaning of the word Civilization-in investigating all the ideas comprised within it, according to the common sense of mankind—we shall make greater progress in gaining a knowledge of the fact itself, than if we endeavoured to form for ourselves a scientific definition, although it might appear at first more clear and precise."* But almost immediately he goes on to say, " Progress and development appear to me the fundamental ideas contained in the word Civilization. What is this progress ? what this development? Here stands the great difficulty. The etymology of the word seems to afford a clear and satisfactory solution ; it says that it is the perfection of the civil life, the development of society properly so called, of the relations of men among themselves.”+
Notice here how artfully definition is disavowed, yet given ; 80 that, when it suits the orator, he may proceed upon the definition, and when that becomes untenable, he may retreat into the obscurity of the indefinite, and so play at bo-peep with the question at his pleasure. The analyst of * Christian Civilization,” Professor L. R. De Vericour, of Cork, is equally indefinite, and writes a history in which the word Civilization continually occurs, but is never once defined or explained.
John Stuart Mill says, " The word Civilization, like many other terms of the philosophy of human nature, is a word of double meaning. It sometimes stands for human improvement in general, and sometimes for certain kinds of improvement in particular.” In this definition, as well as in Guizot's explanation and Vericour's assumption, we have a clear case of fallacy, in so far as “a fallacy is any unsound mode of arguing which appears to demand our conviction, and to be decisive of the question in hand when in fairness it is not." If civilization means improvement, debate is at an end; for demoralization is not improvement, and improvement, i. e., civilization, cannot necessitate corruption or growing worse, i. e., demoralization. This cannot be the signification the word possesses, then, or the fact stated by the greatest of living logicians, and exemplified in the present debate, could never have been possible, viz.—" that the question has been seriously propounded whether civilization is, on the whole, a good or an evil."
The only form in which this question can arise must depend upon the definition given of this the main term. Upon the meaning of demoralization we are all agreed ; only on this vague term Civilization we are at issue. Civilization, etymologically considered, with all deference to Guizot, means, and can only mean, the aggregation and congregation of men into communities in which city life predominates. We contend that civilization, i. e., the social condition
* Guizot's “ General History of Civilization,” Chambers' (translated) edition, + Ibid. p. 29.
# Whately's “ Logic," book iïi.
which necessitates city life, necessitates also demoralization. That this is the right signification of the term is proved by the use among men of such phrases as the "vices of civilization," the “crimes of civilization," &c. The vices of improvement, the crimes of improvement, &c., are certainly phrases sufficiently absurd. “God made the country, and man made the town;" or, in other words, God arranged social society, and man brought into existence civil society. No two forms of being can be more alien in reality than the social and the civic. Love governs in the one, law in the other. Who would take London, Paris, Vienna, or New York, as types of sociality? Is it not in those great marts of masses, alone, that we look for the full development of the civic truth* One half of the world does not know how the other lives"?
It is impossible, of course, for us to join argumentative issue with the supporters of the opposing view, until we have their definitions before us, and the facts or reasonings upon which they found supplied. So far, however, as we can at present see the state of the question, we cannot hesitate to maintain that civilization, i. e., the aggregation of men in civic crowds, necessitates demoralization, that is, the lessening of the activity of the moral capacities and inclinations of men.
Civilization, i. e., the massing together of men in civil communities, intensifies selfishness. This is one of the worst characteristics of man. In bis natural condition he has indeed little love to spare for those of his own or of any kind; for the preservation of his own life impresses itself upon him as his first duty. But in civic life
“Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law." Law is the concentrated essence of human selfishness. It is worse -it is the concentrated essence of the selfishness of the powerful and the wealthy actively energetic against the weak and the poor. Every one of its provisions is made to protect the rich in his grandeur, magnificence, and pride, and to abase and debase the poverty-strieken. Even the charity of the so-called civilized nations is selfishness disguised. They fling a morsel to the poor for the sake of being able to keep the remainder safe, and to have an excuse for punishing vagrancy,—the crime of the dangerous classes. These laws are framed upon a mischievous application of Holy Writ, viz., "Unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” *
Hence come the laws of primogeniture, the severe penal enactments preservative of property, the harsh procedures of criminal law against the poor, and its leniency towards the moneyed man. Scripture says, "Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry;"* but by the institution of the Poor Law, the elaim of the poor upon the rich is lowered to a minimum,