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The Contemporary Review, Volume 36, September 1879

And regarding it as the natural work of Monotheism


Comte, seeing the working of this negative tendency in mediaeval Catholicism, and regarding it as the natural work of Monotheism, is obliged to treat all the positive side of Christianity as an external addition suggested by the practical wisdom of the clergy. St. Paul is supposed by him to have invented (and Comte's language would ever suggest that he consciously invented[38]) the doctrine of grace, in order to reconsecrate those social affections which Monotheism, in its condemnation of nature, had either denied to exist, or, what is nearer the truth, had treated as having no moral value. But this only shows how imperfectly Comte grasped the Pauline conception of the moral change which religion produces. The idea that the immediate untamed and undisciplined will of the natural man is not a principle of morality, and that therefore man must die to live, must rise above himself to be himself, is one which has in it nothing discordant with the claims of social feeling. It is the commonplace of every powerful writer on practical ethics, from the Gospels to Thomas a Kempis, and from Luther to Goethe.

"Und so lang du das nicht hast Dies-es: Stirb und Werde, Bist du nur ein trueber Gast Auf der dunkeln Erde."

St. Paul adds that this death to self is possible only to him in whom another than his own natural will lives; "so then it is not I that live, but Christ that liveth in me." Comte would probably accept

the sentence with the substitution of humanity for Christ. But either substitution involves the negation of the natural tendencies, whether individual or social, in their immediate natural form; and Comte himself, when he placed not only the sexual but even the maternal impulse among those that are merely "personal," virtually acknowledged that the natural or instinctive basis of the altruistic affections is not in itself moral.[39] But because he begins with a psychology which treats the egoistic and altruistic desires, and again the intellect and the heart, as distinct and independent entities, he is unable to do justice to an account of moral experience which involves that they are essentially related elements in one whole, or necessarily connected stages of its development.

In the form in which it was first presented, the teaching of Christianity was undoubtedly ambiguous, as, indeed, every doctrine in its first general and abstract form must be. We cannot then call it either social or anti-social, without limitations; it is anti-social and ascetic, because of its negative relations to the previous forms of life and culture; it is social and positive in so far as in its primary doctrine of the unity of the divine and human--of divinity manifested in man and humanity made perfect through suffering--it contains the promise and the necessity of a development by which nature and spirit shall be reconciled. The progressive tendency of Christendom was based on the fact that from the earliest times the followers of Christ were placed in the dilemma, either of denying their primary doctrine of reconciliation between God and man and going back to pure Monotheism, or of advancing to the reconciliation of all those other antagonisms of spirit and nature, the world and the Church, which arose out of the circumstances of its first publication. And modern history is more than anything

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