Jesus

The Laws of Eternal Life
Being studies in the Church Catechism.

By Stewart D. Headlam. London, William Reeves, [1897]


PREFACE

In writing this little book I have had mainly two sets of readers in mind.

First, that large number of men and women who do not claim their rights in the Church, who will not even call themselves Christians, but who, if you question them, or if you read their books, shew that they have completely misunderstood both the teaching of the Church and the religion of Christ. These include not only vast masses of the workers, many of whom are eager for social and political reform, but also many people of the leisure class, who do not seem in the matters of religion to have got beyond some narrow doctrines which they were taught in their childhood, or which they have taken for granted as being Christian, (and condemned as being absurd), because they were given utterance to by some popular preacher. For the mere dilettante defender of Philosophic doubt, the Atheist of the arm chair, this book is not specially adapted; he has gone to his own place and is useful as proving that Atheism is distinctly an exclusive and aristocratic system; the Bishops and Deans with whom he associates must deal with him. But that men and women who are working hard and sacrificing much for what they call Humanity, or are with much difficulty earning thier own living, should not claim their rights in the Church, and should be without that strength and refreshment which comes from conscious communion with such an one as Jesus Christ, this is indeed monstrous and unnatural. These men and women we must bring so that there may be one flock and one Shepherd; one organized society to fight against wrong and robbery.

Secondly, I had in view the Clergy and their Sunday afternoon Catechizing and Confirmation classes. It is indeed at the suggestion of a London Vicar who had found some of the following chapters, when they were printed in the Church Reformer, useful for his candidates that I have issued this book. I most seriously ask my brethren of the Clergy, I respectfully urge upon the Fathers in the Church, to consider whether it is not to a very large degree their fault that so many men and women among the workers are alienated from the Church, and utterly misunderstand its work and teaching. Have they not neglected the social, national side of the Church's teaching? Many of them I know plead guilty to this. I hope they may find in these chapters useful hints for their own lectures, and that the book may be to many students a helpful text book.


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION

One of the speakers at the second Conference on Christian Socialism, held at the English Church Union rooms during Advent, 1883, maintained, apparently much to the amusement of those present, that the best manual of Socialism was -- The Church Catechism. We believe that he was entirely right. But on all hands this form of instruction has been so discredited, that we do not wonder that the statement seemed to the audience to be a ridiculous paradox. Earnest Dissenters and vigorous Secularists have been in the habit of finding, as they think, their best points of attack against the Church in the Catechism; and as for the Clergy, in their preparation of candidates for Confirmation, and in their instruction of the people, they will use we know not how many private catechisms, rather than this one, which they seem to consider both incomplete and old-fashioned.

But this Catechism, be it remembered, is the one and only document which is binding upon all English Churchmen. I propose now to take it sentence by sentence, and so help to supply an answer to the question now so often asked, "What does the Church really teach?" and at the same time point out, and this is quite important, what it does not teach.

The Catechism is described as "An Instruction to be learned of every person before he is brought to be confirmed by the Bishop." And here at the very outset our secular friends are brought to a stand. The Sacrament, or if you will the Sacramental rite, of Confirmation is to them, as to the ordinary Protestant, a ridiculous superstition; and, if the truth be told, it is to many a Churchman nothing better than a harmless ceremony; while others, much in earnest but sadly ignorant, would make it an opportunity for bringing about what they call the conversion of the candidate.

Surely all these are utterly wrong. A young Secularist tells us in their "Almanack" for 1884 how at his confirmation he "endeavoured as earnestly as a human being could to feel and recognize the Divine influence conveyed. But it was all without avail." Truly we Christians have need to note how "our pleasant vices do make instruments to scourge us." How monstrous that this young man's instructors should have allowed him at such a moment to be troubling about his feelings at all! how vicious that he should not have been warned against expecting any magic from the Bishop's touch! Are we forever to go on catering for sentimental girls and boys without really knowing the stuff they are made of? No. Confirmation bears witness to facts utterly apart from our miserable feelings and opinions. We have been admitted into the Brotherhood, the Socialistic community which Jesus Christ founded, at our Baptism: now that we are growing into manhood and womanhood we come to be strengthened by ratifying what was done for us, by publicly acknowledging our position, by being brought into personal contact with the head and representative of that part of the Society to which we belong: we are taught on the authority of the united experience of Christendom, that we receive and from henceforth have within us the Holy Spirit of God, the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, ghostly strength, knowledge, true godliness, holy fear. But our feelings at the moment have nothing to do with it. Even the Bishop's character or teaching, though they may help by their strength, cannot hinder by their weakness: for if he has no other dignity, he has the dignity of an official, a Representative, first of the Fatherhood of God, then of the Brotherhood of man. The Catechism, therefore, is to prepare us for the reception, not of an electric shock, as Mr. Standring and many others seem to think, but for the reception of God;s Spirit: that is to say of wisdom, the power of letting the highest in you rule you, letting the man live and the brute die: understanding, that is all intellectual culture; counsel, the power of giving moral support and help to others: ghostly strength, strength of will, energy, perseverance: knowledge of God in Jesus, which is indeed eternal life here and everywhere: true godliness, genuine, manly religion, so necessary in these days of all sorts of so-called Christianity: and holy fear, that awe, that reverence which is even more important than intellectual culture. It is not then for the reception of any magical rite, but for the development and strengthening of these Spiritual and eminently secular qualities, that every person is to be prepared by the Church Catechism.

And first of all, the person is to be aroused and stimulated in a sense of his own personality. "What is your name?" he is asked, and he has to answer with the name which distinguishes him from everybody else, without even adding the name of the family into which he was born. Thus early he is made to recognize his own separate, individual, personal responsibility; "to dare to stand alone."

But no sooner is his personality recognized than he is brought to acknowledge his social obligation; for the question follows, "Who gave you that name?" with the answer, "My godfathers and my godmothers in my baptism, wherein I was made a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven." The child has been born into a family, and into a nation; and yet, divine as are such relationships, it was not from the father or mother, nor from the representatives of the nation, that he was to receive his name; he had been brought by the representatives of a Society greater than the family or nation -- founded among other things to bear witness to the sacredness of both; and placed in the arms of the Priest, and by him made or constituted a member of Christ, the child of God, and an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven.

This is what the Church declares of every child, not waiting for any conversion, not requiring any fine feelings or correct expression of opinion, asking for no proofs of his goodness or even of his desire or intention to be good. The Priest, no matter how narrow his teaching may be, is bound to baptize every child brought to him simply because he is a human being, and to declare to him these facts:

BaptismIst. That he is a Member of Christ: that Jesus Christ is his Head: that he is being guided by Him as a body is by the head: that he is united to the other members as limbs and organs are dependent on each other. Every baptized person is therefore bound by the Catechism to treat every other baptized person absolutely as a brother; that is, to be socialistic: bound to do the works which Jesus Christ did; that is, to be secular, to work for Humanity.

2nd. That he is the Child of God. All the dark notions which Heathen religions or Calvinistic sects may have had about God, are here borne witness against: of this little baby, who has done neither good nor evil, it is declared that God is the Father: an actual unalterable relationship is declared: and doctrines which contradict the universal Fatherhood of God, are by implication condemned: religion is stript of its horrors and stands out beautiful. God is the child's Father, and therefore it is impossible that, whatever happens, it should be kept in torture for ever: God is its Father, and therefore it is impossible but that He will sometimes punish, but always to punish in love to purify: from the very font the child is wrapt round with the eternal Love.

3rd. That he is "an inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven:" it does not say an heir of Heaven, which would mean that the child was to go to Heaven by and bye, but an inheritor, that is, a present possessor of the Kingdom of Heaven, of the Divine Society which has been set up upon earth. For a universal Fatherhood implies a universal Brotherhood, and the Catechism in plain unmistakable words bears witness against those Religionists, who teach that unbrotherly conditions are to be put up with here on account of their supposed educational or compensational value hereafter. It is in the light of this fact that we look at East London and at West, at the condition of "those who labour and those who leech," and say that these conditions are against God's order, that the real atheists are those who let these conditions continue, the real blasphemers are those who by voice or pen support the present anarchy, or who are not strenuously striving to overthrow it.


CHAPTER II
THE OBLIGATORY PROMISE

We now come to the threefold promise of Renunciation, Faith, and Obedience, made in the child's name, and justly made. For it is in other words simply a promise that the child shall be a true human being, and in no way to be compared with promises, which have been rightly condemned, that a child should adopt this or that special calling, or should be a teetotaller, or should be a celibate.

"First, that I should renounce the Devil and all his works, the pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and all the sinful lusts of the flesh."

All those evils which in ordinary language we call devilish, these the child is taught have no rightful claim upon him: if, as is the case with so many, he is brought up surrounded by devilish people, circumstances, customs, these he is taught are monstrous and anomalous, against God's order. with them he and all Christians are to be discontented, against them they are to fight. And the Devil, let us remember, means literally the Slanderer, and therefore it is all those habits of life or modes of thought which misrepresent God to man, or men to their fellow men, which he is taught have no right to him. Every bit of theology which darkens Christian truth; every social prejudice which separates class from class, which leads, for instance, teetotallers to abuse the publicans, or the Religious world to denounce the Stage, is here condemned. Further he renounces all (in the current opinion of the time) that is insolent, boastful, and silly, all evil and foolish conventionalism; he does not renounce anything that is beautiful in nature or in art, he does not say that he will not dance, or sing, or go to the theatre, but he does renounce that cynical heartlessness which is the essence of worldliness, and that mere show, for the sake of show and rivalry, which brings so much sham into our modern life. He renounces also the sinful lusts of the flesh. He is not taught to be an ascetic, still less a Manichean, he is not taught that the human affections or the bodily appetites are evil or even dangerous, but he is taught to let his higher nature rule over his lower, to let his spirit manage his flesh, to be on the right side in the constant conflict of "Sense at war with soul," to say, "Live the strength and die the lust: let the King reign."

"Secondly, that I should believe all the articles of the Christian faith." What these are we shall consider further on: for the present we note that as this Catechism is for simple people as well as for learned philosophers, belief in these Articles can hardly have been supposed to mean the acceptance of a number of abstruse and difficult theological propositions.

"Thirdly, that I should keep God's holy will and commandments, and walk in the same all the days of my life." It is assumed that everyone can, if he choose as he grows up, find out what God's will is, that God speaks to him, that Jesus Christ is His Word, that the Church is an organised Society to do His work. He promises simple, persevering obedience to what he knows to be right.

The next question is an important one for those -- and there are many -- who think that by Confirmation they are putting some additional obligation upon themselves, instead of being strengthened to fulfill permanent human obligations. "Dost thou not think that thou are bound to believe and to do as they have promised for thee:" To which the answer is -- "Yes, verily; and by God's help so I will, and I heartily thank our heavenly Father that He hath called me to this state of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. And I pray unto God to give me His grace that I may continue in the same unto my life's end.

The obligation is acknowledged, not created. Notice further some most important words in this answer, bearing in mind that as this is the only one document binding on all Churchmen, each word must be carefully considered. "Our heavenly Father:" the brotherhood again is here asserted even where the person is talking about his own salvation, for selfishness in religion is the most malignant of all selfishness; the Fatherhood of God is also again asserted, and this cannot be enforced too often upon all as a cardinal doctrine of the Church. "This state of salvation:" we are in a condition of being saved here: it is not that we shall be saved from punishment after death, but that through Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Society, the Emancipator, the Deliverer, the Health-giver, we are being saved from wrong here: in so far as we are loyal to Him, influenced by Him, are we in a sound healthy social state. What energy of wild revivalists might have been conserved, what scandal to hard-headed, practical men might have been avoided, what glorious work done for the world, if this sensible teaching about Salvation had been more widely accepted. Note also that is is God's grace I pray for, that I may continue in this condition of being saved. It is the beauty of God as revealed in the person and character of Jesus, that with its attractive power can keep us sound. He draws us with the cords of a man, He binds us with the bands of love: no true human heart can for long resist that fascination. As soon as His character is no longer darkened, nor His beauty blurred, as soon as He is allowed to appear in His own perfect grace, He must draw all men unto Him.


CHAPTER III
THE CREED

The Church's summary of the Creed is as follows: -- "First, I learn to believe in God the Father, Who hath made me, and all the world: secondly, in God the Son, Who hath redeemed me, and all mankind: thirdly, in God the Holy Ghost, Who sanctifieth me, and all the elect people of God." This is what every Christian man ought to believe. He is bound to believe that he and all nature are of God's creation, and therefore express God's mind, as a picture expresses the mind of the artist. That therefore nothing can be called merely natural or merely secular. The Artist who interprets, or the Scientist who investigates the physical world, are according to this doing nothing less than helping to reveal God to us. He is bound to believe that he and all mankind have been redeemed -- bought back out of evil -- by the life and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That the whole human race, Christian or non-Christian, atheist or believing, English or Zulu, are under the influence of Jesus Christ, Who is the Head of every man, and not merely of the religious man -- "the second Adam and not the second Abraham." And being thus so exceeding broad in his belief, he can afford, as he is bound, to be definite, and to believe that he and the whole Church are set apart, not because they are better than the others, but to bear witness to the whole of mankind as to what the true human condition is. Such is the summary of what we are bound to believe about nature, man, the Church.

But here we must just touch upon rather a common mistake. Men object to the word "ought" being used with reference to belief: they refuse to acknowledge that they are bound to believe anything. And because most wise and good men now feel that it would be wrong for the State to punish a man for his belief, it has come to be assumed that men are not responsible for their belief, that praise or blame are out of place with regard to it. And yet if we will simply remember that, in most cases, actions which we reprobate are the natural consequence of certain beliefs, we shall see how necessary it is to use every possible moral force to bring the belief of men to the highest known standard. If, for instance, the English Legislature really believed in Jesus, how quickly would an Affirmation Bill have been passed, and the Blasphemy Laws abolished! We are then doing our duty when we put before a child the highest standard in the realm of faith, or trust, or imagination: "it is your duty -- what you owe to yourself and society, what you are bound as a human being to do -- to believe this."

Let us now take the Creed article by article.

"I believe in God the Father Almighty." Anyone who has a friend, a lover, a wife or a husband, a father and mother, a son or a daughter, will understand a little of the meaning of the words "I believe." Those who trouble themselves about arguments from design, or other so-called "evidences," will probably be in a good deal of difficulty about them: for indeed we walk by faith in the ordinary human relationships, and we know each other, fortunately, not merely by sight but by faith rather. And so we say that we believe in God; though we cannot define Him, or describe Him accurately, or analyse Him. Some are sceptics because the microscope and the telescope do not reveal Him, or the senses make us conscious of Him: but unwisely, for God is a Bring not to be smelt but to be believed in; just as, if you are a true man, (which also you can not define) you belive in your friend or your lover. And we certainly do not attempt to prove God's existence: we cannot do so any more than we can prove our own: but the Christian Church and the vast majority of mankind are conscious of both.

The Christian Church, however, is conscious of a good deal more: to believe in God would be no good, might do much harm, unless we knew somewhat of His character. The words "so help me God" could be used by a Mahomedan, or a Thug, or a devil-worshipper, or a Calvinist: and so we go on to declare our belief that God is an Almighty Father: that there is a great Power educating and disciplining the human race as a father educates and disciplines his children: always loving them: sure at last to make them like Himself: punishing most certainly sometimes, but punishing in love. And note that it is the Father and not the Conjuror Almighty that we believe in. Atheists, for the nonce dropping their atheism, sometimes ask why, if God is almighty, He does not prevent this or that -- "O God put back Thy universe and give me yesterday:" but let us always remember that God is not an almighty magician. He cannot make two hills without a valley between them. He cannot put back the Universe, He cannot make a human being without a will.

"Maker of Heaven and Earth:" not necessarily of a sudden in a few days, but probably very gradually through millions of years.

"And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord." Here is the central article of the Creed, absolute loyalty to Jesus; everything for a Christian depends upon that; His character, His principles are our standard. Belief in Him precedes any belief about Him. He is our Lord and King because He is the Emancipator or Saviour, and not on account of His extraordinary birth. It is only after having expressed our loyalty to Him -- and think of all that that means -- that we go on to say "Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary." Here, indeed, is the miraculous: but the let us remember, notwithstanding Mr. Matthew Arnold, that a certain sort of miracle is constantly happening. Every conception, as the Nicene Creed teaches us, is "by the Holy Ghost," and that which was exceptional about the birth of Jesus will probably seem quite natural to those who have learnt by their loyalty to Him, Who and What He really is, and without that learning any otiose assent to miraculous statements will be worthless. The main import of this article of the Creed is not to puzzle physical scientists, but to bring Our Lady daily into the thought and life of Christendom. So also the words "Suffered under Pontius Pilate" bring before us the great Roman Imperialism, which Jesus, the Son of Mary, was by self-sacrifice to conquer. "Was crucified, dead, and buried" -- He died a felon's death rather than give up the Truth. "He descended into Hell:" for not only the horrors of ppremature death and the gloom of the grave, but also the unseen and formless abyss, which the imagination of many has been tormented with, has been entered by Jesus, the Head and Representative of the whole human race. "The third day He rose again from the dead:" This again will seem only natural to those, who know beforehand Who He was. Any attempt to "prove" the Resurrection and from it to force men logically to accept Jesus and His religion, will at best bring them into the condition of those Devils of whom St. James spoke, who believe and tremble: but any one who has learnt from His life to love Jesus and be absolutely loyal to Him, would feel that the monstrous thing, requiring overwhelming proof indeed, would be that He should not have risen again; that He should have been "holden by death." "He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty." We assert our belief that that character of which the Gospels tell us is the highest imaginable character, that the manhood has been taken into God, that the revolutionary Socialist of Galilee is the force which rules the world. "From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead." We assert also our belief that He will in the end separate between right and wrong in those on the earth, and in those passed off the earth; that He, Jesus, is the standard by which you know right from wrong. We know that He has often come to judge since His Ascension: now, if we would see Him, is He present judge to us: for ever will He be the Judge.

"I believe in the Holy Ghost:" that is to say I believe there is One from whom men receive good inspirations: that we are not left to ourselves, that if we will be receptive we can be good. "The Holy Catholic Church:" the Society throughout the world called out to carry on the work which Jesus began. "The Communion of Saints:" that is to say that all baptised people are brothers one of the other, are bound to be communists, to share their spiritual and temporal wealth, that those also who have passed off the earth can influence those who are here. "The forgiveness of sins," -- not the letting off from punishment, not only even putting away of sin, but -- the making clear that God "keeps no scores:" that He, though punishment is inevitable, takes pains to make all men good, and that they need not be afraid of Him because they have done wrong. No one who has not received or given forgiveness here can understand this, and it is probably not intended that he should. "The Resurrection of the body:" that is to say that those who "die" are not annihilated; that the faculties which they have begun to develop here will go on elsewhere, and that there as here there will be a body, an outward expression of the man himself. "And the life everlasting:" that eternal divine life which consists in the knowledge of God, and not merely in an endless accumulation of years, that life which all receive from Christ, and which, although it is hindered here by unchristlike habits, we look forward to being developed by and bye here on this earth, when in the words of another Creed we declare our belief "in vitam venturi saeculi," in the life of the coming Age.

This and not the infallibility of the Bible, or the assurance of having been converted, or "eternal torture," is what we are bound to believe. Is it not a beautiful as well as a reasonable Belief?


CHAPTER IV
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

The introduction to the Ten Commandments is most significant: they are not grievous and binding, but glorious and emancipating. They are declared to be the commandments of One who worked a great political deliverance, who led a horde of slaves out on strike against their masters, and educated them into a great nation. Every English Churchman is in virtue of these commandments a pledged emancipator, free to break away from all social or political bondage.

1. I am the emancipating God, thou shalt have none other God but Me. All attempts to use religion as a means to keep people down, to crush opinion or aspiration, to support the dominant class and class-made laws, wither away before this terrible law.

2. A terrible law, too, for every kind of oppressor, for jealousy is always terrible, and God is jealous: that is to say, so strenuously does He love every man, that He cannot stand him taking up with anything that is evil, or putting any of the beautiful things that He made in His place. If, says this second commandment, you worship the outward instead of Him Whom the outward expresses; if you make to yourself the golden calf or the golden guinea and let them ne your gods, then you will bring misery on yourself and generations to come: if you worship the Emancipator you will not only save yourself, but thousands of generations will be the better for your righteousness. The awful, sacred law of Heredity is thus early asserted in all its terror and all its beauty. No man liveth to himself: if you live by faith and obey the unseen Deliverer Who speaks to you, or if you kill what is noble in you by submission to the outward and the tyrannical, in each case you help or hinder more than one.

3. You take or carry about with you wherever you go, says God, through Moses, to His Hebrew people, the name of the Lord your God: you are known everywhere as God's people, see then that you don;t carry about that name to no purpose: let it be a reality and not a mere name. This His command does not specially denounce the thoughtless semi-poetical language of those who form the basis of our English civilization, or the use of the phrase "so help me God" by a professed Atheist: but on the contrary is rightly spoken Sunday by Sunday to cultured English ladies and Churchgoing landlords and commercialists. We take or carry about our Christian name, we are marked with the cross of Jesus: we say, "our Father," and make no attempt to realize the brotherhood.

4. The Church of England, in giving these commandments to her children, makes no attempt to disguise the fact that while the principles of them are eternal, the details are temporary and Jewish. The fourth commandment is a good illustration of this: even in the commandments the historic, rather than the dogmatic, method is followed; our conscience is appealed to and we learn what to do and what to avoid by hearing what the Jews were aught to do and avoid. The duty of labour for all, the sacredness of rest for all, these are the two great truths which Moses taught to the slaves, who had been accustomed to grind away their lives in ceaseless toil for lazy masters. These are the truths, and not the closing of Museums on the festival of Christ's Resurrection, which the commandment has to teach us. There can be no doubt that in our present civilization there is as terrible a contrast between the grinding toil of the many, and the luxurious ease of the few, as there was between the courtiers of Egypt and the Hebrew slaves. In proportion as our hearts are inclined to keep this law shall we be striving for a complete social revolution in the matter of work and rest. It is not the Sunday question, but the Labour question, which the fourth commandment forces on our attention.

5. That God had given the Land of Israel to every man, woman, and child in Israel, and that the vitality and strength of the nation depended upon the vitality and strength of the family, is what the fifth commandment asserts. People who forget what a great rebellion Moses had headed, and who think that religion must be on the side of the established and successful, are in the habit of saying at the beginning of every great change that the promoters of it are going against the ten commandments. But it is simply absurd in the face of the teaching of this fifth of them, to say, that the ten commandments forbid the people the use of the land.

6. "Thou shalt do no murder" is also, we must remember, read before fashionable congregations as well as in prison chapels. And surely with reason Charles Kingsley spoke when he said,

"There's blood on your new foreign shrubs, squire,
There's blood on your pointer's feet:
There's blood on the game you sell, squire,
And there's blood on the game you eat."

But we are all implicated; as things are now, we cannot be certain that our clothes, food, houses, are not the price of blood: we are all implicated, we are only not all equally guilty in so far as we are striving to the utmost of our power to replace the present anarchy by order. How terrible if we should not only be murderers -- but should be using our influence, even prostituting the Christian religion, to hinder and malign those, who to the utmost of their power are striving to hinder murder.

7. The sacredness of the family life is here again asserted -- and that ideal of marriage which has been lately described as German-Christian is shown at any rate to be early Jewish. Everything which prevents the realization of this ideal -- an ideal which both physical and moral science seem to teach -- is to be fought against by all Churchmen. If it were true that scientific Socialists looked forward to the abolition of the family, then indeed the line of cleavage between them and Christian Socialists would be clear. It is because we believe that the breaking up families is due to the utterly unsocial condition of the time, that we are bound to be earnest Socialists. At present every adulterer, every prostitute is a living proof that God has not been worshipped as a deliverer, a protest against our anarchy, a legitimate outcome of land monopoly and commercialism.

8. The command "Thou shalt not steal" is read in West End Churches as well as in Prison chapels: bankers, merchants, landowners, have just as much need as street boys and laundresses to pray to God to incline their hearts to keep it. All who are consuming food for which they have produced nothing in return, are, unless they are living on charity, guilty of breaking this commandment. It asserts the sacredness of Property, the right which a man has to his own, but it does not give a steward a right to appropriate his master's goods, or any one man or class of men the right to own the earth, the air, or the water, and to live idly in consequence. Neither can it give the receiver of stolen goods any right to keep them. Each time we pray God to "incline our hearts to keep this law," we should think, if we would not trifle with sacred things, how far we are supporting or hesitating to overthrow any system, which steals from the worker the profits resulting from his work, which takes from the people the value which they have given to the land. It is as much theft to take "the common from the goose as the goose from the common." Moreover it is an universal law of Christian morality that when a man is convinced he has been robbing another -- as undoubtedly all owners of ground rents and values have for two or three hundred years been robbing the people -- he should as far as possible, not only stop, but make reparations and restitution. If Christians would remember that the Church is bound to be by its nature communistic, this robbery might be stopped without violence, perhaps even without State interference.

6. If our hearts are to be inclined to keep this law we shall have to get them full of that charity, which rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, remembering that part of the truth is this, that there is something worth honouring in all men: that it was, as the legend goes, characteristic of Jesus that He saw something beautiful even in a dead dog. This command compels us to have nothing to do with those religious tyrannies which taboo the Theatrical Profession, or the Publicans, or the Secularists: to remember, as the Athanasian Creed teaches, that God's spirit is immense -- not to be bounded by our little schemes: and not to forget in every controversy we engage in, every battle we fight, that the "Holy Ghost is also on the opposite side." This will not make it our duty in private life to like every one equally, to have no hearty hatreds, neither will it make us less eager to resist the devil when we see him in political or social life, but it will make us more careful to separate between the sinner and the sin. At any rate in private life we can remember the words of the Preacher: -- "Admonish thy friend -- it may be he hath not done it, and if he have done it, that he do it no more.

Admonish thy friend -- it may be he hath not said it; and if he have, that he speak it not again.

Admonish a friend -- for many times it is a slander, and believe not every tale."

10. The actual words of this commandment, as of the fourth, make it clear that we English are in these commandments spoken to indirectly: that our conscience is caught by hearing what God said to the Jews. But the law or principle asserted we know to be true: that covetousness is a sin on a level with murder and adultery. What the Church Catechism means by covetousness will best be brought out when we consider the explanation of these Commandments in the Two Duties.

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