This is a Titanic intellectual task, as well as a spiritual one. When a doctor wishes to keep plague out of America, he goes to Asia, to see what plague is! He takes microscopes, instruments, and drugs; he buries himself in a laboratory, and gives his whole mind to the problem, until one day he can come forth and tell how to heal and help. More than this, he risks his life. For every great discovery in medical practice, doctors and nurses have died martyrs to their faithful work.
Moral evil must be studied in an energetic and intellectual way. The variations of humanity from righteousness must be deeply understood. Look at Booker T. Washington, or at Jacob A. Riis! What daring, what indefatigable toil, what insight, patience, and swerveless hope have been put into their task! Edison is said to have spent six months hissing S into his phonograph to make it repeat that letter, and many days he worked seventeen hours a day. Have many ministers ever bent themselves in this way to solve a special moral problem—that of, say, a disobedient child in the congregation? Have they spent six months, hours and hours a day, to make the law of God, the word Obedience, ring in that child’s ears? Spiritual guidance is definitely and positively a scientific task. The mastery of one fact may lead to the correlation of a psychic law. When a minister can help a soul to overcome temptation, and a parent to bring up a child, he is in touch with two final human problems. As he gradually enlarges his careful and illuminating work, his church becomes in time a body of spiritually well-educated communicants, thoroughly grounded in doctrinal, ethical, and social ideals, well taught in public and in private duties. It is not self-centred or wholly denominational in spirit, but recognizes itself to be a part of a catholic body of believers, reaches out with friendly cooeperation to near-by churches, extends its missionary efforts to other neighborhoods or lands, and partakes of a world-life, a world-love!
Ruling religious thinkers should also, by and by, become leaders of national thought and life. Great public questions should be open to their judgment and appeal; they should be moral arbiters, and spiritual guides in national crises. By a word they should be able to rouse the prayers of the country, and by a word to still widespread anger and uprising. If accredited spiritual leaders cannot help, who can?
There are a few men living who seem to hold, for the whole world, the temporal balance. They control mines and shipping, banks and trade. Who, to-day, holds the spiritual destiny of the world in his hand? I long to see men appear upon whom the eyes of the world shall be fastened, in recognition of their spiritual preeminence, as they are now fastened on these industrial giants.
Rise! Let some man, earnest and endowed, look forward into the future, and with the courage that comes from inborn power, assert himself among the nations! Allay, O World-Evangelist, not only neighborhood disputes, but international dissensions; project a creed that shall be profound and universal; sweep sects together, unite energy and endeavor, baptize with fire, bring repentance, quicken the race-conscience, uplift the World-Hope! Erect and elemental, hold CHRIST before the race!