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really ruling body in the state, and was the stronger because it consisted not merely of the bureaucrats, but also, in consequence of the constant warfare and subjugation of provinces, of an enormous military force, which was constituted on the functionary principle.
THEOCRACY IN ITS RELATION WITII PLUTOCRACY AND
Quand on regarde de près, on aperçoit que ce qui a fait long-temps prospérer les gouvernements absolus c'est la religion et non la crainte.”—DE TOCQUEVILLE.
The functionary system under a despot is composed of civil and military officers, who undertake the whole work of secular government. It may, or it may not, include the ecclesiastical. Why, and how it includes them, are inquiries which deserve a thoughtful consideration, and to meet them properly, we must take up from Chapter XIV. the thread of our narrative of the relation of the ecclesiastical to the secular powers.
We broke it off at the epoch when either an anarchy of religious systems, or of thought, or of both, is established in a nation. Let us first take the case of nations where equality of all religious systems, or the general tolerance of them by the established system, allows every man to worship as it pleases him.
A change from this state of active personal religion, of great vitality in private life, however little obtrusive in public life, is brought about in the following method. The material prosperity of a nation, when that is the only object of statesmen, the only care of the population, leads naturally to an indifference about the minutiæ of religion; not so directly to an active or rampant infidelity, as to a carelessness about the truth, and a desire to throw the
whole responsibility upon the religious ministers. The religion of the tradesman who suffers his business to take too great possession of his mind“ walks abroad at eight, and leaves his kind entertainer in the shop trading all day without his religion."* What is this but the division of labour applied to a new field? Every man has need of some ventilation of his religious feelings as he has of the due provision for his pabulating, and the due shelter of his cutaneous organs. In the earlier and simpler stages of society, when fear and childlike wonder predominate, men listen to priests with true “religious awe,” and allow them a real and substantive power over their minds, too often abused; in an over-refined and polished aristocracy, religion is tolerated as useful for the lower classes ; in a trading democracy, each man feels that he has a necessity occasionally for some pious exercises, and therefore employs a class of men who make it their business to conduct these exercises skilfully. As a man resorts to doctors to be healed, lawyers to get him justice, hosiers to clothe him, butchers to feed him, so the division of labour tells him that all his religion may be done for him by priests. As they are useful, he tolerates, without believing, all their pretensions about apostolical succession, a call to holy orders, or the other devices by which a profession is raised into a hierarchy. This state of mind, when it is spread through a nation, leads naturally to an increase of the breadth of the division between laity and priesthood, a division light and unsubstantial in staunch Protestant countries, where every man is animated by an earnest faith, and offers up
prayers from the spontaneous fervour of his heart, and employs the minister not as his intercessor or his substitute, but rather as the leader and director of his devotions.
But when once it has taken firm possession of men's minds, that it is their “ interest ” to be religious ; when a
large historical inquiry convinces them of the fact, that nations have always declined when they become irreligious ; when their own experience and that of other ages confirms them in the opinion that among individuals he who is most religious, most regardful of his Maker, has presumptively the better right to be considered honest and trustworthy; when they find their domestic peace more secure by the religion of their wives, their ease more advanced by the religion of their children ; when for these reasons, or any of them, religion receives the sanction of the nation and its rulers, that nation is no longer religious in the true sense of the term. It has most of the faults of infidelity, without the merit of its bold love of free inquiry. And yet, if testimony on other points irreproachable is to believed on this, the religion of the United States of America scarcely results from anything but sordid calculations of the most profitable policy. “It is reason,” says De Tocqueville*, “not the heart, that conducts the Americans to their altars."
If this is a result of excessive freedom and license in religion, what does it itself lead to ? The answer is easy. If they worship from no fervour or strong convictions, if they believe one religion will do as well as another, then in the war among the ministers of the sects, it is one sect which has obtained a slight mastery to perform the fabulous feat of swallowing its enemy, and present itself in the state with double its original strength. Thus is a population which is habituated to indifference about small matters in religion, and to an easy way of thinking that one will do as well as another, prepared for a great monopolising system.
The infidel nation, or one where thought is free amid an external political bigotry that drives every thinking man into infidelity, likewise prepares itself for the same end. Any piety which existed in Italy at the close of the fifteenth
* Dém. en Amérique, iii. 254.
century was to be found only among the women. In the middle of the eleventh century, the mind of that infidel country had succumbed to the most absolute dominion in belief which has ever been exercised. Lord Macaulay + has eloquently said, “ It is not strange that wise men, weary of investigation, tormented with uncertainty, longing to believe something, and yet seeing objections to everything, should submit themselves absolutely to teachers who, with firm and undoubting faith, lay claim to a supernatural commission. Thus we frequently see inquisitive and restless spirits take refuge from their own scepticism in the bosom of a church which pretends to infallibility, and after questioning the existence of a Deity, bring themselves to worship a wafer.” This natural meeting between the extreme of total belief and total disbelief, which may so often be traced in the mental development of sceptics, is equally marked in the development of the mind of nations. Generally speaking, an infidel has much more chance of becoming a Roman Catholic than a Protestant has; and so infidel nations which have rudely rejected all religion will rush into Romanism with less hesitation than a nation which, in order to do so, would have a religion of its own to resign.
For infidelity, or a multitude of struggling sects, when their wars are too keen or their religious profligacy too flagrant, have the same effect in religious matters that anarchy has in politics, the effect of impressing upon every thoughtful man the necessity of order. To the infidelity established by the writings of the French wits of the latter half of the eighteenth century, combined with the miserable spectacle of the bon-vivant Abbé, un peu athée, and the retention by the priests of their feudal privileges as barons, has gradually succeeded a settled religion ; not perhaps a religion of great depth or sincerity, but one not
* McCrie, Reformation in Italy, p. 187. † Macaulay, History of England, iv. 28.