The following sections of this BookRags Literature Study Guide is offprint from Gale's For Students Series: Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Works: Introduction, Author Biography, Plot Summary, Characters, Themes, Style, Historical Context, Critical Overview, Criticism and Critical Essays, Media Adaptations, Topics for Further Study, Compare & Contrast, What Do I Read Next?, For Further Study, and Sources.
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The following sections, if they exist, are offprint from Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults: "About the Author", "Overview", "Setting", "Literary Qualities", "Social Sensitivity", "Topics for Discussion", "Ideas for Reports and Papers". (c)1994-2005, by Walton Beacham.
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|Table of Contents|
|Start of eBook||1|
|I. CHORDS OF AWAKENING: THE HIGHER CONQUEST||1|
|II. PRELUDE: THE CALL OF JESUS||5|
|III. PROCESSIONAL: THE CHURCH OF GOD||13|
|IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF KINGS||28|
|IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF PRELATES AND EVANGELISTS||38|
|SECOND: OF SPIRITUAL RULE||45|
|THIRD: OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITY||54|
|IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF SAGES||61|
|IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF TRADERS||70|
|IV. THE WORLD-MARCH: OF WORKERS||78|
The Son of God goes forth to
A kingly crown to gain:
His blood-red banner streams afar:
Who follows in His train?
Who best can drink his cup of
Triumphant over pain;
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in His train!
They met the tyrant’s brandished
The lions gory mane;
They bowed their necks the death to feel:
Who follows in their train?
They climbed the steep ascent
Through peril, toil, and pain:
O God, to us may grace be given
To follow in their train!_
The universe is not awry. Fate and man are not altogether at odds. Yet there is a perpetual combat going on between man and nature, and between the power of character and the tyranny of circumstance, death, and sin. The great soul is tossed into the midst of the strife, the longing, and the aspirations of the world. He rises Victor who is triumphant in some great experience of the race.
The first energy is combative: the Warrior is the primitive hero. There are natures to whom mere combat is a joy. Strife is the atmosphere in which they find their finest physical and spiritual development. In the early times, there must have been those who stood apart from their tribesmen in contests of pure athletic skill,—in running, jumping, leaping, wrestling, in laying on thew and thigh with arm, hand, and curled fist in sheer delight of action, and of the display of strength. As foes arose, these athletes of the tribe or clan would be the first to rush forth to slay the wild beast, to brave the sea and storm, or to wreak vengeance on assailing tribes. Their valor was their insignia. Their prowess ranked them. Their exultation was in their freedom and strength.
Such men did not ask a life of ease. Like Tortulf the Forester, they learned “how to strike the foe, to sleep on the bare ground, to bear hunger and toil, summer’s heat and winter’s frost,—how to fear nothing but ill-fame.” They courted danger, and asked only to stand as Victors at the last.
Hence we read of old-world warriors,—of Gog and Magog and the Kings of Bashan; of the sons of Anak; of Hercules, with his lion-skin and club; of Beowulf, who, dragging the sea-monster from her lair, plunged beneath the drift of sea-foam and the flame of dragon-breath, and met the clutch of dragon-teeth. We read of Turpin, Oliver, and Roland,—the sweepers-off of twenty heads at a single blow; of Arthur, who slew Ritho, whose mantle was furred with the beards of kings; of Theodoric and Charlemagne, and of Richard of the Lion-heart.
There are also Victors in the great Quests of the world,—the Argonauts, Helena in search of the Holy Rood, the Knights of the Holy Grail, the Pilgrim Fathers. There are the Victors in the intellectual wrestlings of the world,—the thinkers, poets, sages; the Victors in great sorrows, who conquer the savage pain of heart and desolation of spirit which arise from heroic human grief,—Oedipus and Antigone, Iphigenia, Perseus, Prometheus, King Lear, Samson Agonistes, Job, and David in his penitential psalm. And there are the Victors in the yet deeper strivings of the soul—in its inner battles and spiritual conquests—Milton’s Adam, Paracelsus, Dante, the soul in The Palace of Art, Abt Vogler, Isaiah, Teufelsdroeckh, Paul. To read of such men and women is to be thrilled by the Titanic possibilities of the soul of man!
The world has come into other and greater battle-days. This is an era of great spiritual conflicts, and of great triumphs. To-day faith calls the soul of man to arms. It is a clarion to awake, to put on strength, and to go forth to Holy War. If there were no fighting work in the Christian life, much of the intense energy and interest of the race would be unaroused. There are apathetic natures who do not want to undertake the difficult,—sluggish souls who would rather not stir from their present position. And there are cowards who run to cover. But there is in all strong natures the primitive combative instinct,—the let-us-see-which-is-the-stronger, which delights in contests, which is undismayed by opposition, and which grows firmer through the warfare of the soul.
It is this phase of the Christian life which is most needed to-day,—the warrior-spirit, the all-conquering soul. In entering the Christian life, one must put out of his heart the expectation that it is to be an easy life, or one removed from toil and danger. It is preeminently the adventurous life of the world,—that in which the most happens, as well as that in which the spiritual possibilities are the greatest. It is a life full of splendor, of excitement, of trial, of tests of courage and endurance, and is meant to appeal to those who are the very bravest and the best.
There are two forms of conquest to which the soul of man is called—the inner and the outer. The inner is the conquest of the evil within his own nature; the outer is the struggle against the evil forces of the world—the constructive task of building up, under warring conditions, the spiritual kingdom of God.
The real world is far more subtle than we as yet understand. When we dive down into the deep, sky and air and houses disappear. We enter a new world—the under-world of water, and things that glide and swim; of sea-grasses and currents; of flowing waves that lap about the body with a cool chill; of palpitating color, that, at great depths, becomes a sort of darkness; of sea-beds of shell and sand, and bits of scattered wreckage; of ooze and tangled sea-plants, dusky shapes, and fan-like fins.
Or if we look upward we reach an over-world, where moons and suns are circling in the heights. What draws them together? What keeps a subtle distance between them, which they never cross? How do they, age after age, run a predestined course? We drop a stone. What binds it earthward? Under our feet run magnetic currents that flow from pole to pole. In the clouds above, there are electric vibrations which cannot be described in exact terms.
Thus also, in spiritual experiences, there are currents which we cannot measure or describe. The psychic world is the final world, though its towers and pinnacles no eye hath seen. If we try to shut out for an hour the outer world, and descend into the soul-world of the life of man, we find ourselves in a new environment, and with an outlook over new forms and powers. We find ourselves in a world of images and attractions, of impulses and desires, of instincts and attainments. It is not only a world of separate and individual souls, but each soul is as a thousand; for within each man there is an inner host contending for mastery, and everywhere is the uproar of battle and of spiritual strife.
What is the Self that abides in each man? Is it not the consciousness of existence, together with a consciousness of the power of choice? Our individuality lies in the fact that we can decide, choose, and rule among the various contestant impulses of our souls. Herein is the possibility of victory and also the possibility of defeat.
Looking inward, we find that Self began when man began. We inherit our dispositions from Adam, as well as from our parents and a long ancestral line. When the first men and women were created, forces were set in action which have resulted in this Me that to-day thinks and wills and loves. Heredity includes savagery and culture, health and disease, empire and serfdom, hope and despair. Each man can say: “In me rise impulses that ran riot in the veins of Anak, that belonged to Libyan slaves and to the Ptolemaic line. I am Aryan and Semite, Roman and Teuton: alike I have known the galley and the palm-set court of kings. Under a thousand shifting generations, there was rising the combination that I to-day am. In me culminates, for my life’s day, human history until now.”
Individuality is thus a unique selection and arrangement of what has been, touched with something—a degree of life—that has not been before. To rise above heredity is to rise above the downward drag of all the years. It is not escaping the special sin of one ancestor, but the sin of all ancestors. This is the first problem that is set before each man: to rise above his race—to be the culmination of virtue until now.
The second problem is not greater, but different. It is to mould environment to spiritual uses. The conditions of this struggle and the opportunities of this conquest are the content of this book. It is meant to deal with the more heroic aspects of the Christian life.
What is environment? Is it the material horizon that bounds us? If so, where does it end? Our first environment is a crib, a room, our mother’s eyes. Sensations of hunger, heat, and motion beat upon the baby-brain; there is a vague murmur of sound in the baby-ears. Yet it is this babe who, in after days, has all the universe for his soul’s demesne! His environment stretches out to towns and rivers, shore and sea. Looking upward into space, he can view a star whose distance is a thousand times ten thousand miles. Beyond the path of his feet or of his sight, there is the path of thought, which leads him into new countries, new climes, new years! His meditations are upon ages gone; his work competes with that of the dead. In his reveries and imaginings, he can transport himself anywhither, and can commune with any friend or god. Hence to be master of one’s environment is really to have the universe within one’s grasp.
We are too much afraid of customs and traditions. We are put into our times, not that the times may mould us, but that we may mould the times! Ways? Customs? They exist to be changed! The tempora and the mores should be plastic to our touch. The times are never level with our best. Our souls are higher than the Zeitgeist. Why should we cringe before an inferior essence or command? But society seals our lips: we walk about with frozen tongues.
Each asks himself at some time: How shall I become one of the Victors of the race? Is it in me? Mankind is weighted by every previous sin. Where am I free? How am I free? Can I do as I choose? Or are there bourns of conduct beyond which I can never go? Am I foreordained to sin? Do the stars in their courses lay limitations on free will?
There are in man two forces working: a human longing after God, and, in response, God inly working in the soul. The Victor is he who, in his own life, unites these two things: a great longing after the god-like, which makes him yearn for virtue,—and the divine power within him, through which and by which he is triumphant over time and death and sin.
Whatever our trials, sorrows, or temptations, joy and courage are ever meant to be in the ascendant; life, however it may break in storms upon us, is not meant to beat down our souls. Unless we are triumphant, we are not wholly useful or well trained. Will and heart together work for victory.
As there flashes and thrills through all nature a subtle electric vibration which is the supreme form of physical energy, so there runs through the history of mankind a current of spiritual inspiration and power. To possess this magnetism of soul, this heroism of life, this flame-like flower of character, is to be Victor in the great combats of the race. It is the spirit of courage, energy, and love. Nothing is too hard for it, nothing too distasteful, nothing too insignificant. Through all the course of duty it spurs one to do one’s best. Its essence is to overcome. This is the indwelling Holy Spirit, wherein is freedom, power, and rest. To its final triumph all things are accessory. To joy, all powers converge.
I heard the voice
of Jesus say
Come unto Me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down
Thy head upon My breast.
I came to Jesus as I was,
Weary and worn and sad;
I found in Him a resting-place,
And He has made me glad.
I heard the voice
of Jesus say
Behold I freely give
The living water; thirsty one,
Stoop down and drink, and live.
I came to Jesus, and I drank
Of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived,
And now I live in Him.
I heard the voice
of Jesus say
I am this dark world’s light;
Look unto Me, thy morn shall rise,
And all thy day be bright.
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk,
Till travelling days are done.
It is a world of voices in which we live. We are daily visited by appeals which are ministering to our growth and progress, or which are tending to our spiritual downfall. There are the voices of nature, in sky, and sea, and storm; the voices of childhood and of early youth; the voices of playfellows and companions,—voices long stilled, it may be, in death; the voices of lover and beloved; the voices of ambition, of sorrow, of aspiration, and of joy.
But among all these many voices, there is one which is most inspiring and supreme. When the Vorspiel to Parsifal breaks upon the ear it is as if all other music were inadequate and incomplete—as if a voice called from the confines of eternity, in the infinite spaces where no time is, and rolled onward to the far-off ages when time shall be no more. Even so, high and clear above the voices of the world, deeper and tenderer than any other word or tone, comes the voice of Jesus to the soul of man.
Look, if you will, upon the World of Souls, many-tiered and vast, stretching from day’s end to day’s end,—a world of hunger and of anger, of toiling and of striving, of clamor and of triumph,—a dim, upheaving mass, which from century to century wakes, and breathes, and sleeps again! Years roll on, tides flow, but there is no cessation of the march of years, and no whisper of a natural change. Is it not a strange thing that one voice, and only one, should have really won the hearing of the race? What is this voice of Jesus, so enduring, matchless, and supreme? What does it promise, for the help or hope of man?
There are some who say that Jesus has held the attention and allegiance of the race by an appeal to the religious instinct; that all men naturally seek God, and long to know Him. But if we try to define the religious instinct, we shall find it a hard task. What might be called a religious instinct leads to human sacrifice upon the Aztec altar; directs the Hindu to cast the new-born child in the stream, the friend to sacrifice his best friend to a pagan deity.
There are others who say that Christ appeals to the gentler instincts of man,—to his unselfishness, his meekness and compassion. Yet some of the most admirable Christians have been ambitious and aggressive. Others say, He appeals to our need of help. But self-reliance is a Christian trait. Others say, He appeals to our sense of sin—our need of pardon. But many a Christian goes through life like a happy child, scarcely conscious at any time of deep guilt, and never overwhelmed by intense conviction or despair.
The truth seems to be that Christ appeals to our whole selves. He calls us by an attraction which is unique. In the universe there exists a force which we must recognize—though we do not yet in the least understand it—which is gradually drawing the race Christward. The law of spiritual gravitation is, that by all the changing impulses of our nature we are drawn upward unto Him. Spohr’s lovely anthem voices this cry of the soul:
“As pants the
hart for cooling streams,
When heated in the chase,
So longs my soul, O God, for Thee,
And Thy refreshing grace.
“For Thee, my
God, the living God,
My thirsty soul doth pine;
Oh! when shall I behold Thy face,
Thou Majesty divine_?”
1. Jesus calls us by the mystery of life. There are hours of silence and meditation when the great thought I am beats in upon the soul. But what am I? Whence came I? A heap of atoms in some strange human semblance—is that all? And so many other heaps of atoms have already been, and passed away! Blown hither and thither—where? The universe reels with change. Star-dust and earth-dust are alike in ceaseless whirl. Little it profits to build the spire, the sea-wall, the dome, the bridge, the myriad-roofed town. A new era shall dawn upon them, and they shall fall away.
Not only that, but each man who lives to-day has less possible material dominion than he had who preceded him. Only so many square feet of earth, and now there are more to walk upon them! The ground we tread was once trodden by the feet of those long dead. I am taking up their room, and in due time I must myself depart, that there may be footway for those who are to come after me. Only the under-sod is really mine—the little earth-barrow to which I go.
There is no question more baffling than this simple, ever-recurring one: What am I? If I should decide what I am to-day, I discover that yesterday I was quite a different person. To-day I may be six feet in height, and climb the Alps; yesterday I lay helpless in swaddling clothes. Yesterday I was a thing of laughter and frolic; to-day I am grave, and brush away tears. As a babe, was I still I? What is Myself? When did I come to Myself? How far can I extend Myself? My feet are here, but in a moment my spirit can flee to Xanadu and Zanzibar. There is no spot in the universe where I may not go. Where, then, are the limits of Myself?
Personality is never for a single moment fixed: it is as changing and evanescent as a cloud. We are whirlwind spirits, swept through time and space, bearing within our souls hopes, fears, joys, sorrows, which are never twice the same. Every aspect of the universe leaves new impressions on us, and our wills, in their world-sweep, daily desire different things.
Incompleteness lies on life—restlessness is in the heart. True love has no final habitation on earth; there is no abiding-place for our deepest affection, our most tender yearning. It is curious how deeply one may love, and yet feel that there is something more. In all our journeys, skyward and sunward, we never reach the End of All.
Over against this vague and changing self, there stands out the figure of the changeless Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. In Him we find the environment of all our lives, and the sum of all our dreams.
2. Jesus calls us by our earth-born cares. In Mendelssohn’s Elijah, there is a voice which sings: “O rest in the Lord!” This angel’s message is the voice of Jesus to the human race.
The voice of Jesus calls us to awake to toil. We sometimes forget this, and imagine that if we follow Jesus, we shall never have anything to do. Christ does not still the machinery of the world, nor shut the mine, nor take away the sowing and the reaping. The call of Jesus is not a call to rest from work, but to rest in work. The rest we receive is that of sympathy, of inspiration, of efficiency. Christ really increases the toil-capacity of man. Man can do more work, harder work, and always better work, because of the faith that is in him. What makes the confusion and fatigue of life is, that men are everywhere scrambling for themselves, and trying to manage their own undertakings, instead of falling into harmony with God, and through Him, with all that is. What wears the soul out is not the work of life itself—it is its drudgery, its monotony, its blind vagueness, its apparent purposelessness. We do not wish to scatter our lives and spend our years in nothingness.
Christ comes into the world and says: Over-fatigue is abnormal. There is not enough work in the universe to tire every one all out. There is just enough for each one to do happily, and to do well. I am come as the great industrial organizer. My mission is not to take away toil, but to redistribute it. My industrial plan is the largest of history—it is also the most simple. I look down over the world, as a master upon his men. My work is not to found an earthly kingdom, as some have thought; it is not primarily to set up industrial establishments, or syndicates, or ways of transport and trade. My work is to build up in the universe a spiritual kingdom of energy, power, and progress. To this kingdom all material things are accessory. In My hand are all abilities, as well as all knowledge. Not a sparrow falls to the ground without My notice. Not a lily blooms without My delight. Not a brick is laid, not a stone is set, not an axe is swung, except beneath My eye. I provide for My own. To each man I assign his work, his task. If he takes upon him only what I give him to do, he will never be under-paid, or over-tired.
Hence the first step towards an industrial millennium is to arise and do what Jesus bids. Heaven is heaven because no one is unruly there, or idle, or lazy, or vicious, or morose. Each soul is at true and happy work. Each energy is absorbed; each hour is alive with interest, and there are no oppressive thoughts or ways.
If each heart and soul responded to the call of Jesus, there would be a new heaven and a new earth—a Utopia such as More never dreamed of, nor Plato, nor Bellamy, nor Campanella in his City of the Sun. Each hand would be at its own work; each eye would be upon its own task; each foot would be in the right path. All the fear, the weariness, the squalor, and the unrest of life would be done away. The life of each man would be a life of contentment, and of economic advance.
3. Jesus calls us by the scourging of our sins. Flagellation is not of the body—it is of the soul. Remorse is as a scorpion-whip, and memory beats us with many stripes. The first sin that besets us is forgetfulness of God. Apathy creeps over the spirit, and sloth winds itself about our deeds. Nothing is more pathetic than the decline of the merely forgetful soul. “Be sleepless in the things of the spirit,” says Pythagoras, “for sleep in them is akin to death.”
Sin lifts bars against success: the root of failure lies in irreligion. Pride, conceit, disobedience, malice, evil-speaking, covetousness, idolatry, vice, oppression, injustice, and lack of truth and honor fight more strongly against one’s career than any other foe. No sin is without its lash; no experience of evil but has its rebound. To expect a higher moral insight in middle age because of a larger experience of sin in youth, is as reasonable as to look for sanity of judgment in middle age because in youth a man had fits!
Looking at ourselves in a mirror, do we not sometimes think how we would fashion ourselves if we could create a new self, in the image of some ideal which is before us? Would we not make ourselves wholly beautiful if we could make ourselves?
Even so, looking out upon our own spirits, do we not some day rouse to the distortion and deformity of sin? Do we wish to retain these grimacing phases of ourselves? Do we not yearn eagerly for the dignity and beauty of high virtue? Do we not long for the graces and perfections which make up a radiant and happy life? If we could be born again, would we not be born a more spiritual being?
It is to this new birth that Jesus calls our souls. All around the babe, hid in its mother’s womb, there lies a world of which it has neither sight nor knowledge. The fact that the babe is ignorant does not change the fact that the world is there. So about our souls there lies the invisible world of God, which, until born of the Spirit, we do not see or understand. It is a world in which God is everywhere; in which there is no First Cause, except God; in which there is no will, except the will of God; in which there is no true and perfect love, except from God; no truth, except revealed by God; no power, except from Him.
Conversion is the outlook over a world which is arranged, not for our own glory, but for the good of God’s creatures; in which what we do is necessary, fundamental, permanent—not because we ourselves have done it well, nor, in truth, because we have done it at all—but because what we have done is a part of the universe which God is building. We change from a self-centre to a God-centre; from the thought of whether the world applauds to whether God approves; from the thought of keeping our own life to the thought of preserving our own integrity; from isolation from all other souls to a sympathy with them, an understanding of their needs, and a desire to help their lives. It is a turning from a delight in sin, or an indifference to sin, or merely a moral aversion to it, to a deep-rooted hatred of every thought and act of sin, to penitence, and to an earnest desire to pattern after God.
4. Jesus calls us by our sorrows, Jesus calls us by our dreams. He thrills us by each high aim that life inspires. His voice is one of understanding, of tenderness, of human appeal. How could we love Jesus if He did not sympathize with our ideals? But here is a Divine One in whose sight we are not visionary; who lovingly guards our least hope; who welcomes our faintest spiritual insight; who takes an interest in our social plans, and points out to us the great kingdom that is to be. Christ lays hold of the divine that is in us, and will not let us go.
5. Jesus calls us by our latent gifts and powers. Which of us has ever exhausted his possibilities? Which of us is all that he might be?
It is an impressive thought, that nothing in the universe ever gets used up. It changes form, motion, semblance,—but the force, the energy, neither wastes nor dies away. Air—it is as fresh as the air that blew over the Pharaohs. Sun—it is as undimmed as the sun that looked down on the completion of Cheops. Earth—it is as unworn as the earth that was trodden by the cavemen.
No generation can ever bequeath to us a single new material atom. The race is ever in old clothes. Nor can we hand down to others one atom which was not long ere we were born. Yet the vitality of the universe is being constantly increased, and this increase is also permanent. God has a great deal more to work with now than a thousand years ago.
For not all energy is material. With each birth there comes a new force into the world, and its influence never dies. The body is born of ages past, of the material stores of centuries; but the soul, in its living, thinking, working power, is a new phase of energy added to the energy of the race.
This fact confers on each individual man a strange impressiveness and power. It gives a new significance to the fact that I am. I am something different from what has been, or ever shall be. In the great whirling myriads, I am distinguished and apart. I am an appreciable factor in universal development and a being of elemental power. By every true thought of mine the race becomes wiser. By every right deed, its inheritance of tradition is uplifted; by every high affection, its horizon of love is enlarged. We can bequeath to others this new spiritual energy of our lives.
This thought gives us a new zest for life. There is an appetite which is of the soul. It is this wish for growth, for the development of our powers, for a larger life for ourselves and for those who shall come after us.
Is there any one who wishes to stay always where he is to-day?—to be always what he is this morning? Beyond the hill-top lies our dream. Not all the voices that call men from place to place are audible ones. We hear whispers from a far-off leader; we are beckoned by an unseen guide. Out of ancestry, tradition, talent, and training each departs to his own way.
What calls is not largeness of place—it is largeness of ideal. To each of us, thinking of this one and that one who has taken a large part in the shaping of the world, there comes a feeling: Beside all these I am in a narrow way! What can I think that shall be worth the consideration of the race? What can I do that shall be a stepping-stone to progress? What can I hope that shall unseal other eyes to the universal glory, comfort others in the universal pain? We say: I do not want to be mewed up here, while others are out where thrones and empires are sweeping by! I do not want to parse verbs, add fractions, and mark ledgers, while others are the poets, the singers, the statesmen, the rulers, and the wealth-controllers of the world! We wish to step out of the trivial experience into that which is significant. Each day brings uneasiness of soul. “Man’s unhappiness,” says Carlyle, “as I construe it, comes of his greatness; it is because there is an infinite in him, which with all his cunning he cannot quite bury under the finite.” Says Tennyson:
“It is not
death for which we pant,
But life, more life, and fuller, that we want.”
These aspirations are prophetic. Does a clod-hopper dream? We move toward our desires. The wish for growth is but the call of Jesus to our souls. We sometimes hear of the “limitations of life.” What are they? Who set them? Man himself, not God. The call of Jesus urges the soul of man to possibilities which are infinite.
A large life is the fulfilment of God’s ideal of our lives—the life which, from all eternity, He has looked upon as possible for us. Could any career be grander than the one that God has planned for us? God does not think petty thoughts: He longs for grandeur for us all.
6. Jesus calls us by the spirit of the times. There is a growing recognition of the affinity between God and the human soul. Religion has changed in spirit as well as in form. It used to be considered a tract in one’s experience, and now it is perceived to be all of life—its impetus, its central moving force, the reason for being, activity, development, for ethical conduct, and for unselfish and joyous helpfulness. Religion is more and more perceived to be, not a thing of feeble sentiment, of restraint, of exaction, of meek subordination and resignation, but the unfolding of the free human spirit to the realization of its highest possibilities and its allegiance to that which is eternal and supreme. The nineteenth century closes with the thinker who is also a man of meditation and devotion. We offer to Heaven the incense of aspiration, hope, research, talent, and imagination.
The chief thing toward which we are moving is, I believe, the Enthronement of the Christ. Christ has always been, in the hearts of the few, enthroned and enshrined. Even in the dark years of mediaeval superstition and unrest, there were the cloistered ones who maintained traditions of faith and did works of mercy, as there were knightly ones who upheld the ministry of chivalry, and followed, though afar, the tender shining of the Holy Grail. But now all the signs point to a great and general recognition of the Christ—Christ to be lifted high on the hands of the nations, to His throne above the stars!
A new spiritual note is to be heard in modern subjects of study, is noticeable in all paths of intellectual prestige. History is no more looked upon as the story of the trophies of warriors, conquerors, and kings. History, rising out of dim mists, is seen to be the marching and the countermarching of nations in the throes of progress and of social change. It is not the story of princes alone, but of peasants as well; the result of myriads of small, obscure lives; of changing conditions; of the movements of great economic, psychologic, and spiritual forces. Looking backward over the moving processional of the nations of the earth, we may see how, without rest, without pause, through countless ages, the myriad legions of men have been passing across the scene of life—passing, and fading away!
“All that tread
The globe are but a handful of the tribes
That slumber in its bosom.”
Empires have risen, and empires have decayed; dynasties have been buried, and long lines of kings, wrapping stately robes about them, have lain down to die. Thrones have been overturned, armies and navies have been mustered and scattered, land and sea have been peopled and made desolate, as the thronging tribes and races have lived their little life and passed away. Babylon and Assyria, India and Arabia, Egypt and Persia, Rome and Greece,—each of these has had its lands and conquests, its song and story, its wars and tumults, its wrath and praise. Under all the tides of conquest and endeavor but one fact shines supreme: the steady progress of the Cross.
One principle of growth and development is being slowly revealed,—an approach to symmetry and civic form, which is seen in freedom, justice, popular education, the rise of masses, the power of public opinion, and a general regard for life, health, peace, national prosperity, and the individual weal. The day has passed when men merely lived, slept, ate, fought; they are now involved in an intricate and progressive civilization. Sociology, ethics, and politics are newly blazed pathways for its development, its guidance, and its ideals. We are moving on to new dreams of patriotism, of statesmanship, and of civil rule.
Literature, instead of being considered as merely an expression of the primitive experiences of a race in its sagas, glees, ballads, dramas, and larger works and songs, is more and more revealing itself as an appeal to the Highest in the supreme moments of life. It is the unfolding panorama of the concepts of the soul in regard to duty, conduct, love, and hope. Literature asks: What do I live for? as well as, How shall I speak forth beauty? How ought the soul of man to act in an emergency? What is the best solution of the great human problems of duty, love, and fate? The voices of Dante, Milton, Shakespeare, Tennyson, and Browning sweep the soul upward to spiritual heights, and answer some of the deepest questionings of the soul of man. And hence literature is no longer merely a thing of vocabulary, of phrase, of rhythm, of assonance, of alliteration, or of metrical and philosophical form. It is a revelation of the progress of the soul, of its standards, of its triumphs, its defeats, and its desires. It is the unfolding of one’s intellectual helplessness before the unmoved, calm passing of years; of one’s emotional inadequacy without God for adjudicator. It is a direct search for God. One finds wrapped within it the mystery, aspiration, and spiritual passion of the soul.
Science, no longer a dry assembling of facts and figures, is an increasing revelation of the imagination, the exactness, the thoroughness, and the great progressive plans of God. Evolution has become a spiritual formula. The scientist looks out over the earth and sky and sun and star. Against his little years are meted out vast prehistoric spans; against his mastery of a few forms of life, stands Life itself. Back of all, there looms up the great Figure of the Originator of life, and of the forms of life; the Maker and Ruler of them all. Each scientific fact helps exegesis and evidence. Each new aspiration after truth becomes a form of prayer.
Yes, the whole world is being subtly and powerfully drawn to the worship of the Christ. Never before was there so deep, genuine, and widespread a Revival of Religion. It has not come heralded with great outcries, with flame and wind, and revolution and upheaval; it has come as the great changes that are most permanent come, in stillness and strength. Throughout the world there is being turned to the service of religion the highest training, the most intellectual power. Wars are being wrought for freedom; the Church and the university are joining hands; the rich and the poor are drawing near together for mutual help and understanding; industry is growing to be, not only a crude force, brutal and disregarding, but a high ministry to human needs; the home is becoming more and more the guardian of faith and the shrine of peace; business houses are taking upon them a religious significance; commerce and trade are perceiving ethical duties. Armies are marching in the name of Jehovah, and a great poet has this one message: “Lest we forget!”
7. Jesus calls us by the future of the race. Life proceeds to life. Eternity is what is just before. Immortality is a native concept for the soul. Beyond this hampered half-existence, the soul demands life, freedom, growth, and power.
We stand between two worlds. Behind us is the engulfed Past, wherein generations vanish, as the wake of ships at sea. Before us is the Future, in the dawn-mist of hovering glory, and surprise. Looking out over eternity, that billowy expanse, do we not see rising, clear though shadowy, a vast Permanence, Completion, Realization, in which the soul of man shall have endless progress and delight? This is the Promise held out by all the ages, and the future toward which all the thoughts and dreams of man converge. It is glorious to be a living soul, and to know that this great race—life is yet to be!
At the threshold of each new century stands Jesus, star-encircled, with a voice above the ages and a crown above the spheres,—Jesus, saying, FOLLOW ME!
Is Jesus Christ her Lord;
She is His new creation
By water and the Word:
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His Holy Bride;
With His own blood He bought her
And for her life He died.
Though with a scornful
Men see her sore opprest,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distrest;
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.
’Mid toil and
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace for evermore;
Till with the vision glorious
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest._
SAMUEL JOHN STONE
The subject that is being carefully considered by many thinking men and women to-day is this: the place and prospects of the Christian Church. All about us we hear the cry that the Church is declining, and may eventually pass away; that it does not gain new members in proportion to its need, nor hold the attention and allegiance of those already enrolled. Are these things true? If so, how may better things be brought to pass? To share in the civilization that has come from nineteen hundred years of the work of the Church, and to be unwilling to lift a pound’s weight of the present burden, in order to pass on to others our precious heritage, is certainly a selfish and unworthy course. It is better to ask, What is my work in the upbuilding of the Church? What can I do to further the Royal Progress of the Church of God?
The root-failure of the organized Church to-day is its failure to share in the growing life of the world. A growing life is one that is full of new ideas, new experiences, new emotions, a new outlook over life—that works in new ways, and that is full of seething and tumultuous energy, enthusiasm, and hope. If we look out over the colleges, business enterprises, periodicals, agriculture, manufacturing, and shipping of the world, we find everywhere one story—growth, impetus, courage, resources, vigorous and bounding life. Beside these things the average church services to-day are both stupid and poky. The forces of religion are neither guided nor wielded well. There is in most churches, however we may dislike to own the fact, a decrease of interest and proportionate membership, a waning prestige, a general air of discouragement, and a tale of baffled efforts and of disappointed hopes.
The Church—and by this word I here mean the organized body of both clergymen and laymen—is meant to be the supreme spiritual leader of the world. It is meant to possess vigor, decision, insight, hope, and intellectual power. But before it can accomplish its high and holy work, a great reconstruction must begin. To help in this reconstruction, to aid in vivifying, cooerdinating, and ruling the varied processes of organized religion, is your work and mine.
1. The Church must rouse to a sense of its noble duties and exalted powers. We underrate the Church. We are looking elsewhere for our highest ideals, instead of claiming from the Church that spiritual guidance and inspiration which should be its right to give. One of the things that is a monumental astonishment to me, is that when we need supplication, intercession, prayer for the averting of great personal or national calamity, we flee to the Church, but we seldom think of the Church when we need brains!
The Church should lead, and not follow, the great dreams of the world. In the midst of our new national life we are sending all over the country for the best-trained help and thought in every department of government influence and control. Our problems of the day are preeminently spiritual ones. Colonial control is not a question of material ascendancy—it is a rule over the minds, hearts, and ideals of men. Its moral significance is patent. We are called upon, not only to import provisions, clothing, and household and industrial goods into our new possessions; we are called upon to develop a higher sense of honor, truth, honesty, and every-day morality. Scholars, working-men, business men, farmers, and merchants are being consulted in regard to different phases of our national advance, and every idea which their insight and experience furnish is seized upon. But who is consulting the Church in these concerns, except in reference to mere technical points? Who is looking to the intellectual, moral, and spiritual standards of the Church for guidance? We are to-day ruled spiritually, as well as intellectually, by laymen, and in a way which is quite outside the organized work of the Church.
2. The Church needs a more business-like organization and way of work. It needs a more military spirit and discipline. The Church is diffuse and loosely strung. There are in the United States alone about two hundred and fifty-six kinds of religious bodies. There is no centralized interest or work; there is no economic adjustment of funds; there is no internal agreement as to practical methods. The result is a most wasteful expenditure of force. Movements are not only duplicated, but reproduced a hundred times in miniature, in one denomination after another; special talent is restricted to a narrow field; buildings and church-plants are multiplied, but lie largely disused; sects and communities are at loggerheads on unessential points; all this—and the world is not being saved! The Church fails to see openings for aggressive work; it fails to seize strategic points; it does not carry a well-knit local organization, with a husbanding of economic force; it does not front the world in dead-earnest; it is not proud and honorable in meeting its local debts; it loses progressive force, from lack of knowledge as to how to judge men, and train them, and set them to work.
It also lacks greatly in office-force and in supplies. The gospel itself is without price, but in the nature of things it cannot be proclaimed, nor church-work efficiently carried on, without financial outlay. There should be a more adequate equipment for this work. All other enterprises need, without question, stationery, stenographers, literature for distribution, office-rooms, office-hours, and a general arrangement looking toward enlargement and progress. A busy pastor should have an office-equipment just as much as a business man, and it should be supported, as a business office is, out of the funds of the business organization, i.e. the local church.
There should be, first of all, a united spirit, and a general reorganization throughout the whole of evangelical Christendom, not necessarily destroying denominational lines, with a view to quick mobilization of energy in any direction most needed. What would a general do, who, in looking over his troops, should find two hundred and fifty-six provincial armies, not at ease or at peace with each other, and yet expected to make war upon a common foe? Shall we not endeavor to share in some broadly planned, magnificently executed scheme of world-advance?
The Church has reached a point where a vast constructive work is to be done. Its scattered parts must be knit into a powerful and aggressive whole, to turn a solid front upon the evil of the world. The times are ripe for a successor of Peter the Hermit, of Luther, Knox, Calvin, Zwingli, Savonarola, Whitefield, Finney, Moody. Whether a great preacher, theologian, or evangelist, he will certainly be a business man, a man of vast energy and executive capacity, who shall perform this miracle of organization of which many dream, and who shall set the progress of the Church for a full century to come!
This united spirit should prevail, not only through the smaller bodies, but between the Roman Catholic and Protestant communions. There has been a distinct division between these two bodies, much mutual suspicion, jealousy, and antagonism: it is only quite lately that Protestant and Catholic leaders have been willing to work amicably together for great common causes.
A new situation has arisen. In our new possessions we are confronted with a large population who, whatever may be the reason, are unquestionably not, as a whole, progressive, enlightened, educated, or highly moral. The problem now is, not for Catholic and Protestant to waste energy and spiritual strength in contending for mastery over each other, but for them to unite in changing and bettering the condition of our island peoples. What is past is past. Our present duty is to bring peace, industry, intelligence, high ideals, and spiritual living to our new countrymen. This is a work to fill the hands and heart of both churches, and perhaps, in a common task, each may learn to understand and regard the other as those should understand and regard each other who have one Lord, one hope, one heaven.
3. The Church needs stronger and more gifted leaders. In every business or intellectual enterprise to-day, there is an effort to place at the head of each organization the most powerful and resourceful man whose services can be obtained. Nothing in this age works, or is expected to work, without the leadership of brains. A primary step, in a far-reaching ecclesiastical policy, is to endeavor to draw into both ministry and membership the most active and intellectual class. All earnest souls can work, but not all can work equally effectively. Particularly in the ministry, north, south, east, and west, men are needed who are really men. This does not necessarily mean the men with the longest string of academic degrees, the men who can write the best poems or make the best speeches on public occasions; it means the thinking men who are brave, talented, spiritual, and warm-hearted.
In the Report of one of the missionary Boards, I have recently read the following stirring words. They refer to the work of missionaries in the far north, one of whom has lately travelled a thousand miles over the snow in a dog-sled: “He who follows that mining crowd must be more than the minister, who would do well for towns in the west or elsewhere in Alaska. He must be a man who, when night overtakes him, will be thankful if he can find a bunk and a plate in a miner’s cabin; he must travel much, and therefore cannot be cumbered with extra trappings—must dress as the miners do, and accept their food and fare. He must be no less in earnest in his search for souls than they in search for gold. He must be so ‘furnished’ that, without recourse to books or study-table, he can minister acceptably to men who under the guise of a miner’s garb hide the social and mental culture of life in Eastern colleges and professional days.”
It is far from that land of frost and snow to the beautiful island of Porto Rico, washed by tropical seas, through the streets of whose capital there passes every day the carriage of the Governor, with its white-covered upholstery and its livery of white. But I add this word: The missionary sent to Porto Rico, be he Catholic or Protestant, must be a man who can stand among statesmen and society men and women, as well as one who can live and work among the humblest folk who lodge in leaf-thatched huts along the roadside or far on lonely hills. Representative men of ability, health, culture, and courage are being chosen to carry on governmental work: it is idle to send provincial men to the Church. What is locally true of the Church in Porto Rico is fundamentally true all over the world, at home and abroad. Each ministerial post to-day requires an imperial man. Not every post requires the same sort of man, either in regard to general heredity or education. Men are needed of the Peter-type, of the John-type, of the Paul-type; it suffices that, they be men of unusual power, and well fitted to their individual work.
4. The Church needs a better system for the proper placing of men. No phase of the world’s work can be carried on merely and simply because a man is pious. In every phase of life, there is a constant shifting of men according to temperament, ability, and general influence and power. In the Church we must have a quick and decisive recognition of a man’s ability, and he must be set where that talent can work easily and effectively. Churches are not all alike. There are no two alike. When we think of it, what a ghoulish business “candidating” is! No scheme for the right placing of men can be devised which does not place a great deal of power in the hand of a few leading men. This power may be abused, but ought not to be, if it were really looked upon as under divine direction and inspiration. Cannot a great leader be inspired to the choice of a man, as well as a great author to the choice of a word, a rhyme? Comparatively few men thoroughly understand how to rate other men, and to these few men, as in all other great enterprises, must be given the power and authority to select and adjust. By this I do not mean that a set of ecclesiastics will alone be adequate. Ecclesiastical vision, like all other highly specialized vision, is partial, and does not always see quite straight. There should also be called into play the business ability and discernment of men of large business interests or administrative gifts. Sooner or later the various religious organizations will have to meet, in some better way than any thus far formulated, this growing need.
5. We need a release of pressure on the abler men. Many a minister to-day is a sort of community lackey. What other men are frankly too busy to do, he is supposed to be cheerfully ready to do. The list of odd jobs which fall to his lot would be ridiculous, were not their influence upon his life and work so retrogressive and so sad. He lives to serve others, but this vow of service is greatly imposed upon. If he is to lead in intellectual and spiritual matters, he must be given fewer errands to run, the financial burden of his church must be taken absolutely from his shoulders, he must have a suitable salary, and his time must be at least as carefully guarded as that of the average man. Some calls he is bound to obey, at whatever cost of time or strength,—illness, certain public duties, and real spiritual needs,—but his life must not be at the mercy of cranks, or of idle persons’ whims.
6. We need a reorganization of preaching traditions. It is a tradition that a minister must, in general, preach two set sermons every week, give one informal week-day lecture, and be prepared to deliver, at any moment, funeral addresses, anniversary speeches, “remarks,” or to perform other utterly impossible intellectual feats. Anyone who writes, or who speaks in public, knows that the preparation of a half-hour address which is worth anything requires a great deal of time. It cannot ordinarily be “tossed off,” and help men’s souls. Only an occasional inspiration, the result of a lifetime of thought and experience, is born in this sudden way. Usually excellence is the result of long and careful labor. The way to help this would seem to be a constant interchange of preachers, not only in one denomination, but among the various denominations, so that a really fine sermon would be heard by many people, and fewer sermons would require to be written. This is easily done in a large city or its vicinity. What congregations need most is not altogether formal sermons, but thoughtful, helpful talks containing a fresh, uplifting, and spiritual outlook over life, with a practical bearing on the occasions and duties of life. The work of both Frederick Robertson and Horace Bushnell has this direct and vital tone.
Ministers must study more. If they are freed from many tasks now put upon them, it is not unreasonable to ask that this time be put on more careful thinking. Too many a minister of to-day is, intellectually, something of a flibbertigibbet. His sermons do not take hold, because they have not the roots to take hold with. How many ministers possess, for instance, a scholarly knowledge of human nature or of the deeper aspects of redemption? Yet these things he ought to know. There is a large amount of intensely interesting, though spiritually undigested, material for a minister in a book like William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience.
7. Greater care must be taken of the rural church. Any one interested in a great ecclesiastical polity must surely recognize the ultimate possibilities of our rural regions. Here are growing up the leading men and women of to-morrow. Ideals and inspirations set upon their hearts will bear fruit a thousand-fold. Hence there should be a definite arrangement by which a certain portion of the preaching time of the really able preachers shall be placed each year in some small and remote place. Several scattered country churches might unite for these services. Let such a man also make helpful suggestions for neighborhood social and intellectual life. While he is in the village, let the country pastor go to town, browse in libraries, art-collections, hear music, and get a general quickening of interest and inspiration. Let each compare notes with the other. They will both gain by this interchange.
8. There is too little recognition of individual talent in the Church. Too few workers are set at work which they know how to do, and the untaught rush at tasks which angels fear to touch. We have myriads of Sabbath-school teachers, but how many men or women really know how to teach a little child? The man is asked to speak or pray in prayer-meeting, who cannot possibly do it well, but no notice is taken of the fact that he thoroughly understands public accounts. A man is asked to subscribe ten dollars to a church affair, who cannot afford it, but his spiritual insight might save the impending church quarrel. People come and go in the churches, and many, I am convinced, drift away because they are never asked for anything but money for the support and interest of the Church. In no other sort of organization is this true. Even in the summer camp or mountain hotel or Atlantic liner, when any pastime or entertainment is suggested, the first thing to discover is, What can each one do? One, who has the gift of organization and management, “gets it up”; one sings; one reads or recites; one writes a bright bit of verse; another smooths out rising jealousies, or bridges, by a little tact, the abyss of caste. Why do we hide so many pretty talents under a bushel, when the church-door swings behind us? Why do we substitute such strange and foolish tasks, particularly for women? What would leading lawyers and doctors do, I wonder, if they were asked, as busy women often have been, to spend a precious morning in a church-room sorting cast-off clothes?
In every church, large or small, there are both men and women who are talented in a special way; who could bring gifts of training and experience to bear upon the problems and opportunities of the Church. Tell me, in prayer or speech-making, formal or social occasion, pastor or people, do we often bring our very deepest, tenderest, most inspiring emotional or intellectual life? It is not a whit more spiritual to be stupid than to be bright. This is what our church-meetings should be—not a formal and very dull round of prayers and set remarks, more or less pointless; they ought to be a yielding-up of our heart’s best life to others.
9. We need, as a Church, a deeper spiritual life. We need the Power of the Holy Ghost. In spite of all the sorrow of the world, sorrow both of a personal nature and that which touches whole communities, there is only one real burden upon the heart of earnest men and women: it is our own inadequate representation of Christianity,—the disheartening difference between what we practise and what we profess. When the Church of God is in reality a powerful and hard-working body of sincere, honest, and loving people, the world will soon be saved!
By the question, Why join the Church?—I do not mean alone, Why add my name to a church-roll? I mean, Why give myself, my powers, my education, my love, my loyalty, to advance the progress of the Church?
There is nothing we resent more than a waste of ourselves. To attract our service, there must be in the Church an inner vitality, a moving and spiritual fire.
1. The Church embodies the spiritual dreams of the world. Man does not live by bread alone; he lives by imagination, and by religious powers. In the Church of God, the spiritual imagination of man reached its highest field of energy, and has brought forth its most triumphant works. The great art of the world has centred about the Christian Church—its architecture and much of its noblest speech. Imagine a world in which every work which was inspired by the Church, or by the concepts of religion embodied in it, should be left out. What would we then lack? We would lack the greatest works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Francesca, Botticelli, Murillo; we would not see the cathedrals of Milan, Strasburg, or Cologne; we would never read the poems of Caedmon, Milton, or Dante. The hamlet would be without a spire; philanthropy would be almost unknown; there would be neither night-watch nor morning-watch of united prayer. We should have no processional of millions churchward on the Lord’s Day, no hymns to stir our souls to joy and praise, no anthems or oratorios, no ministers, no ecclesiastical courts and assemblies, no church conventions, no church-schools, religious societies, nor religious press. All these works and institutions proclaim the glory of belief, and hand down the religious traditions and the spiritual aspirations of the generations of men. Shall we let others share in the mystery and triumph while we stand apart, silent, unapproving, and alone?
The dreams of the Church are high and holy. There is the dream of Freedom, of the Freedom of the Soul. It is an inspiring thought this, the essential democracy of the race. We do not find intellectual equality of souls. We see each man or woman differently circumstanced, differently gifted, differently trained. Yet each may say, I am spiritually free! To me also is given the opportunity of development, of majesty of character, of high service. The soul is the thrall of none; nothing can bind it to spiritual serfdom.
Next, there is the dream of Allegiance. Some one has well said: “Wouldst thou live a great life? Ally thyself with a great cause.” Allegiance is devotion of the whole of ourselves to a leader, a cause. We can no more go through the world without allying ourselves to something than we can go through it and live nowhere. If the object of our allegiance be a high one, if the ideal be a grand one, our lives are in a constant process of development toward that height, that grandeur. Each act of faith becomes an impetus to progress. We are daily enriched by the experience of mere obedience. To obey and follow are acts in the universal process.
If, on the other hand, we ally ourselves to that which is lower than ourselves, by the very act we are dragged down. No one can remain upon even his own level, who is in obedience and devotion to that which is below him. Allegiance to a Higher is one of the trumpet-calls of the world. It has been the rally of all armies, of all legions, of all crusades. The great commander is, by his very position, a grouper of other men, the ruler of their thoughts, their deeds, their dreams. His power to call and to sway is beyond his own ideas of it. How otherwise could it be that out of one century one heart calls to another—out of one age, proceeds the answer to the cry of ages gone?
The lover of music to-day allies himself to Bach, to Haydn, to Mozart, to Wagner, by his appreciation, his sympathy, his understanding of what they have done. He acknowledges their control of his musical self by his efforts to interpret their work to others, and to create new works which shall be inspired by their ideals. Thus he acknowledges their control of his own powers. Such control over the spirit of man is that of the Church over the social body; it stirs the spiritual aspiration of man, it directs his ambition. It fixes upon a standard, the Cross; upon a Hero, the Christ, and reaches unto all the world its arm of power, drawing unto itself the loyalty, the faith, the affection, and the royal service of successive generations of mankind.
The dream of Redemption. It is not technical creeds for which the Church as a whole stands, but for certain vital principles which concern the life of the soul, and its relation to God and man. Virtue has always been a dream of the heart. But how inaccessible is virtue, with a past of unforgiven sin! The height of our ideal of redemption is conditioned upon the depth of our realization of sin. To the shallow, redemption is an easy-going process, a way of healing the scratches which the world makes. To the deep and serious-minded, redemption involves the regeneration of the race. Only the ransomed can truly work, love, or praise!
There is one sorrow which God never calls us to—the sorrow of a wasted life. By redemption, the Church reveals not only a saving from rebellion, unbelief, and crime, but redemption from sloth, from indifference, from lack of purpose, and from low aims. Redemption looms up as the great economic force of Time—that which inspires and preserves our powers, directs our energies, creates opportunity, brings to pass our most high and holy desires, and fills life with satisfying and abiding things.
Beauty, harmony, and affection are the natural laws of the moral world. There is no despair where there has been no disobedience. Christus Salvator stands out before the world in majesty and power. Virtue is enthroned in a universe which is beneficent.
The dream of Fellowship. The Church is the great social body. We can never live our best life in the world, and stand outside the Church. There is something vital in personal contact, and in social affiliation. It strengthens the best and otherwise most complete work. The Christian Church is a body of allies, whose work is the upbuilding of the kingdom of God. We do not realize how great a bond this is. We have our own church centre, our own denomination, our own local interests. But by and by a great occasion arises—a revival which sweeps the country, a reunion of two long-divided parties, an Ecumenical Council, a Chinese persecution—and suddenly there arises before the mind’s eye a glimpse of that Church which girdles the world, whose emissaries are in every country, whose voices speak in every tongue. We perceive that everywhere are
hills and spacious plains
Besprent from shore to shore with steeple-towers,
And spires whose silent finger points to heaven.”
Says Wordsworth also:
not of a perishable home,
Who thus could build.”
Many an ideal state has been thought out, in which fellowship should be the root of social progress. But in what state is the proffered fellowship like that of the communion of saints? Each has his share of work and dreams; each has his endowment of talent and of opportunity; each has his aspirations and supreme hope. The joys of one are the joys of all. The sorrows of one are the sorrows of all. The triumphs of one are the triumphs of all. The World-burden is the task set to be removed. The World-upbuilding in love, joy, peace, and truth is the final endeavor. This community of interest is the strongest coalition the world has yet known.
There are those who say, I prefer to worship by myself! One might as well say, I prefer to fight in battle by myself! There is a time for personal worship, and there is a time for social worship. Alone, the heart meets God. Alone, its prayers for individual needs and longings are offered up. Alone, it asks for blessings on the individual life and work. But the personal life is only a fragmentary part of the life universal. Above the ages rings an Over-song of praise. From shrines and cathedrals, from chapels, churches, tents, and caves, there arises, day after day, this incense of united prayer, from a vast and heaven-uplifted throng! Each of us would say, Canopied under world-skies, I, too, would join this chorus of adoring love!
The dream of Permanence. The immortality of the Church is akin to the immortality of the soul. It is a connection which is never severed. When we enter the visible body of the Church on earth, we connect ourselves with the invisible hosts of the Church on high. We enter a company which shall never be disbanded nor dismayed. Something subtle and eternal seems to lay hold of our spirits, and to lift them even to God’s Throne. For this Time has been, and for this Time now is: to present spotless before Him the innumerable company of the redeemed, the lion-hearted who, armed by faith and shod with fire, in robes of azure and with songs of praise, shall stand before Him even for evermore!
2. The Church is the centre of a great circle of remembrance. One of Constable’s famous paintings represents the Cathedral of Salisbury outlined against a storm-swept sky, with a lovely rainbow arched beyond it. So stands the Church athwart the landscape of our lives. In each community the church is like a living thing! How every stone grows significant and dear! How the lights and shadows of its arches, the dim, faint-tinted windows, the carvings and tracings, the atmosphere and coloring, all sink into the heart, and make a background for memories that never pass away! Who ever forgets the tones of the old organ, the voice of the choir, the accent, look, and bearing of one’s early pastor, the rustle of the leaves without the window, the rush of the fresh summer air, the soft falling of the rain?
The path to the church is worn by the feet of generations. Thither the aged go up, and thither the laughing, romping children. Weary men and women bear their burdens thither; triumphant souls bring shining faces and uplifted brows; love and dreams cluster round the church, and the life of the soul, silent and hidden, is subtly acted upon by persuasions and convictions that rule the heart amid the fiercest storms and temptations of the world. The church is a sanctuary and shield; it is an emblem of strength and peace. Three angels stand before its altar: Life, Love, Death! Hither is brought the babe for the christening, hither comes the wedding procession, and here are laid, with farewell tears, the quiet dead. Day by day within that church, as one grows to manhood and womanhood, one enters into race-experiences, and feels, however vaguely, that the Holy Spirit abides within them all.
3. The Church affords the best outlet for moral activity. Where shall we put our moral powers? In what work shall they centre? From what point shall they diverge? Scattered action is irresolute; it is the centripetal powers that count.
The Church stands ready to engage, to the full, the moral powers of man. It can rightly distribute the spiritual vitality of the world. It rouses the moral emotions and affections, and gives scope for contrition, adoration, and thanksgiving,—the Trisagion of the heart.
In the press and stir of life we sometimes forget that the highest emotions of which we are capable are those of joy, praise, and prayer. Joy is a heavenward uplift of life—deep happiness of spirit. Praise is an appreciation of the greatness and mercy of the Infinite. Worship is the outpouring of the whole nature, an ascription of blessing, glory, honor, and power and majesty to God. It flows from the religious imagination, and is the supreme offering of the intellectual as well as of the emotional life.
The Church is a body ministrant: it has received the accolade of spiritual service. It stands among the world’s forces, as one of giving, not of gain. It holds within its scope both a teaching and a training power. It is the school of the soul, the illuminator of the meaning and discipline of life. Abelard is said to have attracted thirty thousand students to Paris by his teaching. But the Church to-day calls into its assemblies fully one-third of the millions of the world. They are held by its tenets, guided by its ideals, thrilled by its hopes, and set to its works of charity and mercy. The highest philanthropy is but a scientific renewal and adaptation of work which has had its start, primarily, in the Christian Church. Wealth is its vicegerent, and from the adherents to the Church fall largely the contributions to great philanthropic causes.
Take the work of Missions alone: Has there ever before been a body which attempted to bring the whole world into its fellowship, to make known everywhere its ideals, and to share with all living a spiritual inheritance? “The Evangelization of the World by this Generation” is one of the most sublime thoughts which has come to the race.
4. There is a large amount of ability in the world which the Church needs, but which has not yet been thoroughly enlisted in church service. Take business energy, executive ability. It is a common saying, that business men are not interested in the Church, and do not work well in it. Why? Because there is not yet in the Church enough of the active and economic spirit to make a business man feel at home in it, or approve of its ways of work.
This weak spot in the Church, which business men mock at, or fret at, exactly reveals the work that is waiting for business men to do. Business to-day takes intellectual grasp and insight—promptness, energy, enterprise, and common-sense. These qualities are needed at once in the conduct of the Church.
A second class greatly needed by the Church is the university-bred. Many college graduates are church-members—some are even active workers. But until lately the universities as a whole have stood rather indifferently apart from the Church. They have somewhat indulgently regarded it as one more historic institution for preserving myth and legend. To them the Christ-life has meant little more than the Beowa-myth, the Arthur-saga, the Nibelungen cycle, the Homeric stories, the Thor-and-Odin tales! Druids, fire-worshippers, moon-dancers, and Christian communicants have been comparatively studied, with a view to understanding the race-progress in rite and religious form.
This spirit is changing. The most remarkable aspect of the intellectual life of to-day is the rise of faith in the universities. Like the incoming of a great tidal wave at sea is the wave of spiritual insight and religious aspiration that is rolling over the colleges of our land.
The whole intellectual structure of the Church is approaching reconstruction—its doctrines, creeds, tenets. This reconstruction cannot possibly be effected by schools of theology alone. At every point the theologian needs assistance from the man of science. Philosophy, psychology, ethics, history, literature, sociology, language, natural science, and archaeology are all bound up in an old creed and must be looked into, ere a new statement can take form. Their data must be known at first-hand. Hence there is no intellectual specialty which may not be made invaluable to the Church.
Too often religion has been a matter of hearsay or dogma. A bitter conflict has always raged between theology and the latest word of science. The Church cannot afford to be without the scientific thinkers of the race. The time has come when there is everywhere heard the call of Jesus to men of mind.
What work awaits the university man or woman? It is to help free the Church from traditions and superstitions which scholarship cannot uphold. It is to throw fresh vigor and intellectual vitality into the services of the Church. It is to build up a hymnology which shall be noble and poetic in expression; it is to contribute a great religious literature to the world. It is the work of educated men and women to add their insight, their zeal for truth, their scholarship, their training and ideals to the Christian community: to sweep thought and practice out of ancient ruts, to clarify the spiritual vision of the world, and to present new aspects of truth and new goals of human endeavor! Let Research join hands with Prayer.
A third class which the Church needs to-day is that of the working-man. The hand of the working-man is the hand that has really moulded history. Working-men lead a brave and self-sacrificing life. From their toil come the necessaries and many of the comforts of the race. The man of labor knows the root-problems of the industrial world. While all his industry and skill, all his courage, heroism, and strong-armed life are so largely alienated from the Church, the Church is deprived of one of the fundamental sources of inspiration and growth. The tree of progress can never grow, except it has labor-roots. It is absolutely essential for the health of the Church that every form of human energy be represented.
Suppose that by some great revival a very large number of working men and women could suddenly be added to the membership of the Church. What would happen? Would there not be at once a return to more simplicity of life? There are two currents at work always in society—emulation and sympathy. Rightly used, each is for the social good. If all classes of men and women worked side by side in the Church, many great social differences would become adjusted.
5. It holds sway over the fortunes of the home. Where, outside of the Church, will you find the ideal conception of marriage, and the really united and happy home? The Church makes for domestic happiness, because it goes straight to the roots of life and plants happiness where happiness alone can grow. More and more the Church is lifting the standards of a noble, proud, pure, and rejoicing married life. Its ideal of human love is sacred, because founded on the deeper love of the soul in God. The Church is drawing hosts of young people under the shelter of its teaching, and is placing before men and women ideals which cannot fail to make their mark upon the social standards of the times. It stands for purity, for patience, for tenderness, for the love of little children, for united education and endeavor, for mutual hopes and dreams, for large public service.
6. It is the militant force of time. We speak of the Church militant, and of the Church triumphant. For us, to-day, the Church militant. To-morrow, triumph comes. Armies have been, and armies shall be, but the hosts of this world fight against material foes, and largely for material ends. It is the glory of the Church militant that its conquests are spiritual and its victories are eternal. Its fight is chiefly against the inner, not the outer foe—against sin and wrong-doing, impatience, strife, anger, clamor, meanness, evil-speaking, wrath. It is the foe of tyranny and its heel is upon the head of the oppressor and the avenger. Its banner flies over every country and has been carried through tribulation, through sorrow, through danger, and through death to the remotest parts of the yet-known world. Its troops are legion, marching from the far distances of the past, and extending out to the far confines of the eternal years.
7. It is the ascendant force of the future. Rightly conducted, it will surely absorb the vigor of the world. To stand apart from it is to be out of step with the march of nations. The processional of progress to-day is the processional of the historic influence of the Church. What force has there been in time gone by, which has lived and so greatly grown for nineteen hundred years? Nations have risen, and nations have decayed. States, once prominent, have passed into the oblivion of the years. Plato and Pericles, Socrates and Sophocles, Philip and Alexander, the Caesars, the Georges, and the Louis have passed away. Their politics have passed from our following; their empires are no more. But through these centuries of change, the Church of God has risen stronger, more powerful year by year; stretching its arm out to the uttermost parts of the earth; levying tribute on the islands of the sea; enlisting all ages and conditions, and looking out over coming generations—not as a waning, but as a growing and ever-increasing power. Think you that such a Church can die? Think you that any spiritual power aloof from this Church can be as efficient as if it were allied with it?
These, you say, are the reasons why one’s allegiance should be given to the Christian Church. Let us now look back over the processional as it marches across the dim years. Saints, martyrs, confessors, evangelists, and singing children have joined its historic train. Is there any other processional in the world’s history which, numbering such millions and millions, began with only one? When the Christ enters the arena of history, He comes as one to lead myriad deep-lived souls! Next, there follow twelve. They, two by two, take up the marching line. Think of their deeds and influence, of their inspiring power! What would have been the record of those obscure fishermen of Galilee and of their simple friends, had they refused to ally themselves with the leader who called for their allegiance and their obedient love?
Next follow the early disciples. Tried by scourging, by stripes, by poverty, by imprisonment, by all manner of danger and trial, they yet remain true. Then follow the prophets, those whose clear vision looks out on things unknown and things unseen. To the prophet is intrusted the ministry of hope and inspiration. Then follow the martyrs who yield life for the cause they profess. In torture at the stake, and on the cross, by fire and by sword, they show forth an unshaken and undying faith. Then follow matrons and virgins, babes and children, reformers and mediaeval saints with a convoy of angels, singing as they march. These are the Church triumphant, the Church above. But to-day we have among us the Church militant—the long processional of congregations, elders, deacons, members, ministers and missionaries, young people, and workers in every phase of enterprise and reform. These all communicant on earth are the Church militant, whose work is to keep alive the traditions of the past and to march onward to an endless victory and to an unceasing praise. Who, looking upon that processional, filing through the ages of the years of man, would say that there may be a parliament of religions? A parliament of boasts and pomps, of good precepts and queries, of misuses and half-truths, of superstitions and infinite idolatries, no doubt; but there is but one religion, though it be perverted in many ways and rightly revealed at divers times; and there is but one God, infinite, true, holy, just, loving, and eternal. Where now are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Bow thy head, O Buddha! and do thou, O Zoroaster! hang thy head. Isis and Osiris grow dim; Jove nods in heaven; the pipe of Pan is dumb; Thor is silent in the northern Aurora; the tree of Igdrasil waves in midnight; Confucius is pale; Muhammad is dust. Darkness is over the skirts of the gods of the past—gloom receives them, Erebus holds outstretched arms. But the Lord God, Jehovah, the Ancient of Days, encanopied in space and glory, leads onward to the end of years His people in a mighty train, to a rule and kingdom which shall know no end. May thou and I, dear friend-soul, in whatsoever land thou be, may thou and I be numbered in that throng!
[DIE WACHT AM RHEIN]
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun Doth his successive journeys run; His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
People and realms of
Dwell on His love with sweetest song;
And infant voices shall proclaim
Their early blessings on His Name.
Blessings abound where’er
The prisoner leaps to lose his chains,
The weary find eternal rest,
And all the sons of want are blest.
Let every creature rise
Peculiar honors to our King;
Angels descend with songs again,
And earth repeat the loud Amen_.
The elemental force of some men is appalling. They lift their eyes—thrones tremble; they wave a hand—empires rise or fall. It comes over the heart of many a man at times, Here am I, running my little office, shop, factory, fire-engine, or professional circuit, with no influence that I can see, beyond my borough or my barn-yard. But in the world there are other men, no taller than I, no older than I—men born within a stone’s throw of where I was born—whose hand is on the fate of nations, and whose decrees are universal law!
It is deeply impressive, the way in which one man, born not above myriads of his fellows, begins to rise until by and by he stands head and shoulders above his generation! What is the inner vitality which presses him upward? What is this hidden difference in men by which one remains in the by-eddies of life, and another sweeps out on the crest of the rising tide of history?
Much of it is in the man himself. To be kingly is inborn. There is the nature that refuses to be shut up to the petty, that will not content itself with one street or town, that steps out into life from childhood with the step of the conqueror, and walks among us; one who was born a king. To be a king, one must have the powers of organization, combination, discipline, direction, statesmanship. These qualities enlarge as one passes from the particular to the general, from the personal to the range of natural forces, emergencies, and wide pursuits.
Dominion is an inherent right of the soul. In all our hearts, did we but listen and understand, there are adumbrations of kingly ancestors, and the latent stirrings of kingly powers.
Which of us would want to be born at all, if we should be told in advance, You shall never control anything? You shall never have the slightest chance of self-assertion, of impressing your own individuality upon the world? One might as well be born without hands or feet!
Kingship involves ascendancy and authority. Both are truly gained, not by chicanery, but by personal force. There is a natural gift of leadership, which is strengthened by endurance, perseverance, and ceaseless hard work.
Kingship also involves a larger vision. One man looks at his shoe-strings; another man looks at the stars. The first step toward rule is to find a point of view from which one can look widely out over the race. This is the primary value of education: it is not that books are important, but that men are—the men who have swayed history—and books tell of such men. Not the library is inspirational, but the life-spirit of mankind, bound up in even dusty papyrus-rolls, or set on clay-tablets of four thousand years ago. He who would serve his times politically must first understand, so far as may be, all times.
Another basis of supremacy is conviction. Leadership belongs to those who believe. The man who has a definite policy to propose, and a definite way of working for it, soon outstrips the man who is just looking about.
Kingship involves an iron will. An iron will does not imply necessarily ugliness of temper, obstinacy, or pig-headedness. It is simply a straight-forward, dauntless, and invincible way of doing things. What I say, you must do, is back of all successful leadership, whether in the home or in the world-arena. The man who is master of the obedience of his child, or of his fellows, is master of their fate. We are all at the mercy of the strong-willed.
Growth is development in right assertion; it is the assumption of legitimate responsibility and command. To be lowly of heart does not mean to be inefficient; to be humble does not necessarily mean to be obscure. Luther and Lincoln were both of a childlike humility of heart.
What Christianity has not emphasized in the past, but what it must now begin to emphasize, is the reality of dominion—its value, and its relation to the kingdom of God. For centuries, religion has too often been thought of, too often spoken of, as if it were the last resource of the heart, A brilliant young professor of psychology not long ago referred to religion as something to flee to, by those who were disappointed in love! We have spoken so much of “giving up,” that the Christian life has wrongly seemed to mean the giving-up of one’s individuality, interests, powers. As well might we expert the deep sea to give up its rolling tides, or the air to give up its four winds, as to expect the heart of man to part with its human hopes!
This is not a right interpretation of life. When Nature plants an oak in the forest, she does not say, Be a lichen, an Eozooen canadense, a small ground-creeping thing! She says, Grow! Become a tall, strong, mountain tree! When we hold our baby in our arms, we do not say, My child, be good for nothing! Neither does God say, Be nothing, do nothing! Just exist as humbly and meekly as you can! He says, “Quit you like men!”
Each of us is born for a sceptre and a crown. It gives a strange new thrill to life, to realize that we may be just as ambitious as we please, that we may long earnestly for high things, and work for them, if our inmost desire is not for self but for God. This new idea of ambition should be at the root of education and of religious teaching. Piety is not a namby-pamby sentiment; it is a great intellectual force. Desire is architectural: our dreams should be of prestige and power. True ambition is the reaching-out of the soul toward preordained things. What else is the meaning of our love for excellence, our insatiable yearning for perfection? “What is excellent,” says Emerson, “is permanent.” To excel in any work is to combine in that work the most enduring qualities of human labor; to excel in any place is to shine forth with the great qualities of the race. Hence, ambition has a rightful place.
The power of a king is the power of control. All about us are moving the great forces of the universe—physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual. What we can do with them is a test of our power. Life is in many ways a majestic trial of one’s power to command.
Three men buy adjoining tracts of land. One man mines coal upon his acres. He amasses wealth and influence because he is in control of the Carboniferous age and the human need of light and heat. The second man tills his ground and raises wheat and corn. He is in command of living nature—of the rotation of seasons, of wind, frost, rain; he uses them to provide food for those that hunger and must be fed. The third man lies under the trees. He digs no mine. He plants and reaps no corn and grain. He simply lies under the trees, gazes into the sky and dreams. Men call him idle, but he is not so. One day he writes a book. It lives a thousand years. His control is over the spirit of man. He has entered into its hopes and sorrows, its aspirations and its dreams.
This story is a Parable of Kings. Such is the power of control that is granted to each new soul. Each child is bequeathed at birth a sceptre and a crown.
The first rule is parental. The primitive monarchy is in the home. A young baby cries. The trained nurse turns on the light, lifts the baby, hushes it, sings to it, rocks it, and stills its weeping by caresses and song. When next the baby is put down to sleep, more cries, more soothing and disturbance, and the setting of a tiny instinct which shall some day be will—the power of control.
The grandmother arrives on the scene. When baby cries, she plants the little one firmly in its crib, turns down the light, pats and soothes the tiny restless hands that fight the air, watches, waits. From the crib come whimpers, angry cries, yells, sobs, baby snarls and sniffles that die away in a sleepy infant growl. Silence, sleep, repose, and the building of life and nerve and muscle in the quiet and the darkness. The baby has been put in harmony with the laws of nature—the invigoration of fresh air, sleep, stillness—and the little one wakens and grows like a fresh, sweet rose. The mother, looking on, learns of the ways of God with men.
Firmness is the true gentleness. There is a form of authority which must be as implacable as the divine decree. Mercy is the requiring of obedience to law; it is not a cajoling training in law-defiance, which shall one day break the mother’s heart and upset the social relations of the world.
The next rule is personal: the direction of one’s own energy in the way of one’s own will. The child moves his hands, his feet; he turns his rattle up and down, and shakes it about. He discovers that he can pull things toward him and push them away; that he can reach things that are higher than his head. He begins to creep. He touches things that are the other side of the world from him, that is, across the room. He plucks fibres from the rug or carpet; swallows straws, buttons, and little strings. He pounds, and sets up vibrations of pleasant noise; he clashes ten-pins, he blows his whistle, squeezes his rubber horse and man, rattles the newspaper, flings about his bottle and his blocks. He feels himself a self-directing power, and at times asserts this power against the will of those who would make him do what he does not want to do. The love of rule is in him, and he lays his little hands on power.
Education determines whether this power shall be for good or for evil. We cannot take away power from any child—he shall move the affairs of nations—but we can direct this love of power, or crush it; strengthen it, or weaken it; turn it toward the highest help of man, or deflect it to tyranny, cruelty, and crime.
Child-training is guidance in the way of God’s decrees. It is not the setting of one’s own ideas upon a little child; it is not the gratification of one’s own love of power; it is not the satisfaction of one’s own self-conceit. It is a firm, humble striving to carry on the harmony of the universe: to bring up the child to love order, justice, mercy, and truth.
Education is the teaching of how to direct energy for the universal good. It lays hold of a child and, out of his destructive instincts—the instinct to bang, and pull, and tear to pieces—it develops creative power, the inventive genius that lies hid within him. It takes the pure love of noise, and trains it to pitches, harmonies, intervals, and makes a musician of the boy who used to whack his spoon. It takes the alphabet and the early pothooks, and the boy by and by combines them into literature. The apples and the peaches which he is taught to exchange justly are by and by transmuted into trade and commerce. He brings cargoes from Cuba and Ceylon, trades with Japan and Hawaii, and the Asiatic isles. The energy of block-building is developed into sculpture, architecture, and civil engineering. The stamping of his foot in anger is directed to determination, perseverance, the rule of the brave spirit, the unconquerable will. Nothing is more marvellous than this grave upbuilding.
The next rule is social: the direction of personal energy that shall leave a distinct impress on other lives. It is long before we realize that for each exertion we are responsible; that what we do is held against us in strict account, not only by fate, which builds our destiny for us out of our own deeds, but by every other person with whom we come in contact. Our fellows check off daily against us so much vitality, so much magnanimity, so much idleness, cruelty, spite, goodness, selfishness, meanness, or loving-kindness. Life holds a record of our every deed, and from no least responsibility can we make our escape. We are the prisoners of events which we ourselves have brought about.
The discipline of ethics, of home-training, of the Church, and of religious teaching is addressed fundamentally to this social consciousness of ours, this responsibility which we cannot evade. To bear rule aright is to go forth into the world to build up, in authority, talent, and influence, the kingdom of God.
1. There is the agricultural phase of social rule. A man tills a farm. It has upon it trees, streams, woodland, and meadow-land. He may rule—to what end? If he rules it for his own personal ends—merely to fill his granaries, and lay up gold—he rules it for miserliness, with a sort of thrift that is as passing in inheritance as the flying April rain.
Or he may say: I will keep my land in trust for God. I will hold rain and frost, heat and cold, storm and sun, in fee simple for the race. My grain shall pass out into the world’s mart, sent forth with love and prayer. Such a farmer is the incarnation of moral grandeur. Let men laugh, if they will, at his overalls and plough, his wide-brimmed hat, his simple manners, and his homely, racy speech. His feet are by the furrow, but his heart is in heaven, and his treasure is there also. Says the author of Nine Acres on the Hillside, “The agriculturist walks side by side with the Creator.”
There is a fine integrity which lies in land. There is a resolution which is concerned with crops. There is a wisdom born of wind and weather. There is a power which comes from the constant revival of life in seed and fruit and flower. This man is King of God’s Acres. Let him not despise his kingdom, and may the succession not depart from his house!
2. There is a rule which is industrial. A man is sent into the world to wield a hammer, a saw, and run an engine. If his rule over his hammer is weak, if he does not know how to use it well, if its blow is uncertain and its result unskilled, then he passes from the line of kings, and is subject, instead of in authority, in his own domain. He is captive to a piece of steel or wood. So with every tool of trade. Each man who conquers his tool is a ruler—is in control of elements of human happiness and good. The roof-mender, the furnace-builder, the cloth-weaver, the yarn-spinner, the steel-worker, the miller—do not these all keep the race warmed, and clad, and fed?
3. The next rule is commercial. Trade itself is neither menial nor demeaning. Rightly used, it is a high form of control. People have things to buy and things to sell. The maker is handicapped. He cannot travel elsewhere to dispose of what he has. The buyer is ignorant. He does not know where to go, or cannot go, at first-hand, for the shoes, the hat, the reaper, the bricks, the lumber, the stationery which he must use. There appears upon the scene the man of observation, of investigation, of capital, of shrewdness, of resources. With one hand he gathers the products of the Pacific and of the South Seas. With the other, he takes the output of the Atlantic seaboard, the Gulf States, the Mississippi valley, the northern lakes and hills. He sets up an establishment, he puts forth runners, advertisements, and show-windows. He stocks shelves, decks counters, and employs clerks, packers, salesmen, cash-boys, buyers, and department heads. The man who wants to buy, buys from a man across the sea and yet is served in his own town.
The man of commercial power is a man of world-wide rule. He may lay up in banks a fortune which he intends to try to spend upon himself; or he may say: I am accountable for the pocket-books of the world. I am in authority over them. I open a market, or close it. I buy, dispense, and disperse human labor. I create wants, and I satisfy them. I will establish honest laws of trade. What I do shall be rated as commercial law. What I say shall be quoted as a way of equity and probity. That man is a King of Trade. His throne is set upon hills and seas. His subjects are all men with needs, and all men with products of the land, the coasts, the sea, or brain, or skill. This is the lawful King of Trade. He represents God’s mart of exchange. Primarily, goods are not bought and sold in the market. They are first transferred in that man’s brain.
4. Another rule is of concerted works: the rule of the Engineer. Back of every advance in our country, in facilities of trade and transportation, or of public health and safety, stands the man who thought it out. Take, for instance, the development of the “Great American Desert.” Who projected its irrigation, by which areas have been redeemed from barrenness and waste? Who planned the economic use of the Niagara Falls? Who built the Brooklyn Bridge? Who projected the vast waterway from Chicago to the Gulf? Who first thought of a cable across the depths of seas? Who bridged the Firth of Forth, the Ganges, the Mississippi? Who projected the gray docks of Montreal? the Simplon Tunnel? Who wound the iron rails across the Alleghanies, the Rockies, the Sierras? Who drew the wall that has encircled China for a thousand years? Who projected the Suez Canal? the Trans-Siberian Railway? Who sunk the mines of Eldorado? Who designed the Esplanade at Hamburg? the stone banks of the Seine? the waterways of Venice? the aqueducts of Rome? the Appian Way? the military roads of Chili and Peru? the Subway in New York?
Gravity, stress, strain, weight, tension, sag, cohesion,—a few mathematical formulas, and a knowledge of the primary laws of physics,—upon such principles as these, the world is rapidly changing form and use.
The Engineer, in a strange and subtle way, stands near to God. His work is done hand-in-hand with God. He takes the forces of nature and the laws of the material world, and bends them to the needs and use of man. Sky and sea or desert may be about him. He knows the arctic cold, the tropic heat; the forest and the plain; the mountain and the marsh; the brook and river; the peak and the precipice; the glacier and the tempest in their course. Out of the very elements he is daily building new paths for man to tread. Soon he, too, must pass; laid after death, it may be, beside some mighty water that his handiwork has spanned.
In loneliness and silence does he not often think, I wonder, of the God with whom he deals? It is God who provides the river and the sea; God who through endless ages has piled stone on stone, crust on crust, and has crumpled the strata of the earth as tissue in His hand. It is God who has bound every mote to the earth-centre; who has sent magnetic currents coursing through the globe, and has made tides and sea-changes, and the trade-winds to blow. It is the God of the Gulf Stream, the Caribbean Sea, the God of the Appalachians, the God of the Himalayas, the God of the Cordilleras, of the Amazon, the Yukon, the Yang-tse-Kiang with which he really deals.
The endless ages pass and go, but God abides. Little, daring man lifts here and there a hand to mould the world which God has made—pricks the earth for gold or silver, iron or coal—but GOD is everywhere immanent and shines through every hour of change. Hence the March of Engineers is the march of men whom God has trained; in a special sense His master-workmen, craftsmen whom He loves. It is theirs to say, We are the Kings of Works: the Master-builders of the Most High!
5. There are Kings of Academic Thought, men who lead in professions and in collegiate careers. The wise man is the true aristocrat. His court may not be in a palace, but within its precincts are received and entertained the leaders of the race. To be provost, to be college president or university professor, is to be seated on an intellectual throne.
The problem of academic rule is not to attract a large number of students, to put up imposing buildings, to have endowments, and fill chairs with learned specialists; to grant many degrees, and to keep the hum of a teaching staff and of a student body alive in the ears of a community, marking the college group by flags and colors, cap and gown, processions and occasions. These things are right, but are mainly accessory. We have not all of a university when we have men and buildings, money, students, brains. Back of a university there lies its foundation-idea, that of academic control.
What is academic rule? It is rule over the pride of man. A college is a place whose chief power is to inculcate humility by the means of true learning; to establish intellectual honor and integrity by searching out the ways of God in nature, science, and philosophy, and in letters and in art.
It is the primary work of a university to make men humble. The Freshman is not teachable. The Sophomore is an intellectual upstart. But by the time a man has been beaten and conquered by the great ideals of the world, which have pierced his bones and humbled his conceit—by the time the race-passions and the race-sorrows have crept across his spirit, by the time that he has been confronted with the achievements of Homer, Empedocles, Hippocrates, Michelangelo, Socrates, Buddha, Plato, Emerson, Gladstone, Bismarck, Lincoln, and Carlyle—his self-exaltation drops from him like a garment. He—who knows how to construe a few pages of the classics, who knows how to demonstrate a few mathematical problems, scan a few verses, recite a few odes, carry on a few scientific experiments, undertake a small research—how shall he compete with these rulers of the thought of men?
Then it is that the real rule of a university—its spirit of humility, and of reverence for antiquity—begins. The true university man, born and bred in the century, not in the years, in the race halls, not those alone in his Alma Mater, is neither a scoffer nor an atheist, nor a critic, sceptic, or cynic. He is a man of simple and exalted faith. God, who hath brought such great things to pass in science, nature, and art, in human character, in the destiny of nations, and the history of humble men and women, is a God before whom there must be awe and reverence, and not a flippant scouting of the ancient ideals. Man, who is so tried by temptation and scourging of the spirit, is a creature to be loved, appreciated, understood; not a being to whom shall be shown arrogance, aloofness, and pride. The university that makes snobs of its graduates has not yet entered into its kingdom of control.
A university also holds rule over truth. Absolute truth is in God’s hand. But the university has class-rooms and libraries, apparatus and laboratories, which are intended for the discovery and furtherance of truth. The university is not a place to cry out for big salaries. The salaries should be living salaries. The seeker after truth should not be left without enough money for heat and shelter, for bread and meat, rest and summer-change; for the coming of children and their education. But truth may lodge without shame in an humble dwelling and may be greatly furthered without an elaborate bill of fare.
The university men of the times are the establishers of a kind of righteousness that is not always found in books. Their individual value, as they go out into the world, is to set right values on social customs and decrees; to establish the law of freedom in the home; to lead men and women out of the thraldom of ignorance, vulgarity, hearsay, and “style,” into simplicity of living and a sane scale of household expense. The university leader of the future is the man who shall set laws over household accounts and who shall rule over such simple things as what best to eat and buy. He shall be an economist of the larger sort, providing for the spiritual necessities of men and their moral conduct, rather than for their balls, card-parties, and social side-shows, including church entertainments and philanthropic dances and bazaars. He shall pave the way to a larger view of wealth, influence, and reform; endue man with a keener sense of his own responsibilities, make him a creature of larger desires and of more aspiring wants.
In particular, he shall pass down from generation to generation the high and noble learning of the past; he shall keep alive the flower of courtesy and charity; he shall tell the dreams of past sages, and interpret them; he shall review the thronging nations; and he shall so imbue the mind with a love of truth, of ideals, of excellence, of honor, that a new race shall go out into a larger and a nobler world. And then a better day shall dawn for men.
6. The Kings of State. Says Milton, in his sonnet on Cromwell:
To conquer still; Peace hath her victories
No less renowned than War: new foes arise,
Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains.
Help us to save free conscience from the paw
Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw.”
In the third moon of the year 1276, Bayan, the conquering lieutenant of Genghis Khan, captured Hangchow, received the jade rings of the Sungs, and was taken out to the bank of the river Tsientang to see the spirit of Tsze-sue pass by in the great bore of Hangchow—that tidal wave which annually rolls in, and, dashing itself against the sea-wall of Hangchow, rushes far up the river, bringing, for eighteen miles inland, a tide of fresh, deep-sea splendor, and thrilling all who see or hear.
In the life of nations there are times and tides. Against the tide-wall of history, beaten by many a storm, and battered by many a thundering wave, there is about to sweep the incoming wave of a new life for the race: there is about to pass a greater than the spirit of Tsze-sue,—even the Spirit of God!
“We are living,-we
In a grand and awful time,
Age on age to ages telling,
To be living is sublime!”
We are moving out into a period of great statesmen, and of great political standards and ideals. The days before us are days which will make the Elizabethan era pale in history. Upon the head of our nation are set responsibilities such as have never before rested on any one man.
The day of the true statesman is here; the day of the demagogue is done! The rule of the orator is over the ideals and hopes of men. The demagogue prostitutes this power. His rule is over the passions, prejudices, and resentments of men. He cries aloud in the market-place, and rogues and ward-heelers, and evil-minded politicians, group themselves around him. He waves his sceptre over the vulgar and the rascals of the town.
The vital problem of municipal reform is not the shattering of the ring, the overturning of the boss, the gagging of a few loud tongues. It is the problem of the training of better bosses; the education of men and women in social control; their enlightenment, from childhood up, in civic duties, in national affairs, and the conduct of civil power. Thereupon oratory turns to its higher ends. Through statesman, preacher, and political teacher, it cries aloud of righteousness. I look for the time when the typical politician shall be an honorable man; when to be “in the ring” of municipal or national control shall mean to be an integral and orderly part of the administration of God’s great world; when city life shall be purified; and when international law shall be the interpretation of the will of the Almighty for the rule of nations. We have honest doctors, lawyers, tradesmen; shall we not have an honest politician and an upright ward-boss?
Public service is a god-like service! Our Presidents shall more and more be chosen, not alone for ideas, experience, or for party affiliations: the President shall be chosen because he is a moral hero! Something has stirred in the heart of the American people, which shall not soon be stilled: a spiritual outlook upon political preferment. In the White House we long to have the great spiritual exemplars of our race. Not alone in church shall we offer up a “Prayer before Election.” The time is coming when each true ballot-slip shall be a prayer.
Within the next fifty years shall be determined some of the greatest questions of history. Among them shall be questions of industrial adjustment and development, and of social progress. We must have in our Cabinet not only the representatives of War and State, of Finance, Trade, Labor, and Agriculture; but also of Education and of Social Health. This is not a dream. You and I may live to see the results of this religious awakening: it is elemental and epochal.
Back of all individual dominion there is rising a yet higher dominion—the dominion of the English-speaking race. We, having been called by the providence of God to stand at the head of the march of progress, may well ask ourselves concerning our imperial powers. The line of progress for a nation is to allow no spiritual ideal to stagnate or to retrograde. The spiritual aspiration of a nation always dominates what is called the Social Mind. We grow toward what we worship. It is ours to plant the dominion of civilization in foreign lands, and to supplant a waning culture by a richer, truer, and nobler way of life. The first thought of each of us, entering these new lands, whether merchant, soldier, educator, or missionary, should be to hold Christ aloft, that all tribes may come to His light, and kings to the brightness of His rising.
God leads us on. Said Lincoln: “I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom, and that of all about me, seemed insufficient for that day.” Like a vast Hand stretched against the sky of Time is the Hand of God—a Hand writing, in these wondrous days, a destiny for generations yet to be! Rising with us are all God-fearing nations—the Teutonic, Slav, and Latin peoples. Sitting yet in darkness, and massed against us, crouch sullenly the immemorial hordes of Asia, the wild blacks of the African swamps and jungles, and the dwellers of Polynesian seas. Occident and Orient, the world’s battalions are forming for new encounters and new dismays. Never since the strong-limbed Goths changed the face of Europe has there been a period of such tense anticipation, nor so great a possibility of volcanic change. We are entering an historic period of reconstruction, when new maps of the world will be drawn. The sceptre is passing into new hands: to-day the throne of civilization is being arched above the seaway which joins London and New York. To-morrow, it may be builded above Pacific tides, where our own shores look westward to the ports of Asiatic Russia. For, rising on the world-horizon, are these two World-empires, Russia and the United States. The dictators of these two countries will soon become the dictators of the human race. They are brave and virile nations, with untold reserves of power! As these two giants gird themselves for World-dominion, who but God shall gird the armor on, direct the onward course of change?
Much of the ancient wealth and beauty shall be done away. In a few generations the shrines of thirty centuries will be no more. Fane and temple and pagoda will disappear; carvings, images, and Sikh-guarded courts. Long lines of yellow-robed priests will chant their last processional hymn to Buddha, and the smoking incense to waning gods shall be quenched forever. Where Tao rites were celebrated, silence shall fall; where fakir and dervish tortured and immolated their lives, happy children shall play. Instead of the lotos of the Ganges and the Nile, there shall bloom the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Vale.
But as the empires of Buddha and Muhammad fall, a new Empire shall prevail!
bow down before Him,
And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore Him,
His praise all people sing.
To Him shall prayer unceasing
And dally vows ascend;
His kingdom still increasing,
A kingdom without end.”
O Majesty throned, O Lord of all Light, Shine down on our spirits and scatter the night; As Adam received his life-impulse from Thee, Endued with all fulness, we quickened would be
Let all that we know—love, learning, and power— Melt down in Thy Presence, and flame in this hour; Anoint us and bless us and lift our desire And grant us to speak as with tongues touched with fire!
Life flows as a dream—its pleasures are dear: The world is about us—temptation is near; Oh, guide us, and shew us the pathway to God The feet of the prophets aforetime have trod!
The bells cease their chime,—the hosts enter in: May many be purged of their sloth and their sin! Cheer Thou the despondent, the weary, the sad, Rouse all to rejoicing, that all may be glad.
And when life is o’er, and each must depart In quaking and silence,—abide with each heart; The songs of Thy saints then caught up to the skies, As waves of great waters shall thunderous rise!
ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY
In Malory’s Morte d’Arthur there is the legend of the Sword of Assay. In the church against the high altar was a great stone, four-square, like unto a marble stone. In the midst of it was an anvil of steel, a foot high, and therein stood a naked sword by the point. About the sword there were letters written, saying, “Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is righteous king born of all England.” Many assayed to pull the sword forth, but all failed, until the young Arthur came, and, taking the sword by the handle, lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone! By this token he was lord of the land.
Each man’s life is proved by some Sword of Assay. The test of a man’s call to the ministry is his power to seize the Sword of the Spirit: wield the spiritual forces of the world, insight, conviction, persuasion, truth. To do this successfully at least five things appear to be necessary: a sterling education, marked ability in writing and in public speaking, a noble manner, a voice capable of majestic modulations, and a deep and tender heart. These phrases sound very simple, but perhaps they mean more than at first appears. Have we not all met some one, in our lifetime, whose acquaintance with us seemed to have no preliminaries?—some one who never bothered to say anything at all to us, until one day he said something that leaped and tingled through our very being? This is the power that a minister ought to have with every soul with whom he comes in contact: his word should quickly touch a vital spot. No one to-day cares much for mere oratory, literary discussion, polemics, or cursory exegesis; “marked ability in writing and in public speaking” means that grip on reality which makes people quiver, repent, believe, adore!
Sincerity is the basis of such power. At heart we worship the man who will not lie; who will not use conventions or formulas in which he does not believe; who does not give us a second-hand view of either life or God; who does not play with our conscience because it is not politic to be too direct; who does not juggle with our doubts, nor ignore our hopes and powers; who also frankly acknowledges that he, too, is a man.
A call to the ministry also involves an over-mastering spiritual desire. Tell me what a man wants, and I will tell what he is, and what he can best do. If a man desires above all things to conduit a great business, he is by nature qualified for trade; if he desires knowledge, he is designed for a scholar; if he is always observing form, rhyme, aesthetic beauty, and striving to produce verse, he is a born poet. But if the one thing that rules his dreams is the longing for spiritual power—the thought of impressing God upon his generation, and leading men to a clearer view of life and duty—he is a born minister of the Spirit, and to the spirit of the sons of men. Along with this goes the great burden: “Woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel!”
Wherever, to-day, there is a young man in whose heart is stirring a great devotional dream for the race, who longs to project his life into the most enduring and far-reaching influence, who craves the exercise of great gifts and powers, there is a man whose heart God is calling to possibilities such as no one can measure, and to triumphs such as no one can forecast! The highest triumphs of these coming years are to be spiritual. The leader is to be the one who can carry the deepest spiritual inspiration to the hearts of his fellow-men. Do not let the hour go by! This day of vision is the prophetic day!
But if the call be answered, if certain high-spirited and noble-minded men ask thus to stand as spiritual ministrants to the souls of men, how shall they be trained for the high office?
The old way will not do. Sweeping changes, in these last days, have come over the commercial, academic, and social world. We do not go back to the hand-loom, the hand-sickle, the hand-press. What is true of these aspects of life is true of the spiritual training. It must be larger, freer, grander, than before. Time was when a theologian, it was thought, must be separated from the world—an ascetic working in the dim half-light of the old library, or scriptorium, or hall. To-day, he must gain much of his training from the great life of the world—learn how to meet men and occasions, and be prepared to deal with modern forces and energies with courage, knowledge, and decision.
We read of the earnest Thomas Goodwin: his favorite authors were such as Augustine, Calvin, Musculus, Zanchius, Paraeus, Walaeus, Gomarus, and Amesius. What Doctor of Theology takes the last six of these to bed with him to-day?
Our theological courses are too dry. Look carefully over the catalogues of thirty or forty of our own seminaries, and notice the curious, almost monastic, impression which they make. Then realize that the men who pursue these abstruse and mediaeval subjects are the men who go out into churches where the chief topics of thought and conversation are crops, stocks, politics, clothes, servants, babies! There is a grim humor in the thing, which seems to have escaped those who have drawn up the curriculum.
Life is not monastic. It is very lively. We scarcely get, in all our post-collegiate life, a chance to sit and muse. We go through sensations, experiences, and incongruities, which stir a sense of fun. A man reads (I notice) in his seminary, St. Leo, Ad Flaeirmum, and makes his first pastoral call on a woman who proudly brings out her first baby for him to see. Ad Flaeirmum indeed! What does St. Leo tell the youth to say?
What should be breathed into a man in the seminary, is not the mere facts of ecclesiastical history, but the warm pulsating currents of human life; the profound significance of the founding and the progress of the Church; a deep psychological understanding of human desires, motives, joys, ambitions, griefs; the relentlessness of sin; the help and glory of Redemption; the quickening of the Christ; the vigor and the tenderness of faith. Coincident with these must be a growth in depth and dignity of life. No one likes to take spiritual instruction from men who are themselves crude, foolish, sentimental, or conceited. Many social snags on which young ministers are sure to run, are simply the rudiments of social conduct, as practised by the world. Noble manners are one’s personal actions as influenced and guided by the great behavior of the race. Under the impulse of ideals, much that is untoward or superficial in one’s bearing will disappear. It is impossible to think as noble men and women have thought—to dream, love, and work as they have dreamed, loved, and wrought—and not have pass into one’s mien the high excellence of such lives.
The first education is spiritual. Until mind and heart are swept by the spirit of God, chastened, purified, ennobled, and inspired, vain is all the learning of the schools! To this end, there should be a more deeply spiritual atmosphere in our seminaries, less of the mere academic impulse. In every age, there are men just to come in contact with whom is a benediction and a help for years. Such a man was Mark Hopkins, Noah Porter, James McCosh. Such the leading men in every seminary should be.
The plan of education must be of principles, not of facts. The university research-men gather facts, and scientific men everywhere collect, analyze, and classify them. But each small department of human learning—each minute branch in that department—needs a lifetime for the mastery of that one theme. Hence the work of the college is quite apart from that of the school of theology. It is the place of the school of theology, not to ignore the New Learning, but to group, upon the basis of a thorough college training, certain great interests and pursuits of mankind, in such a way as to afford, by means of them, a leverage for spiritual work.
After all is said and done, it is not the grammar-detail of Latin, Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic dialects that makes a minister’s power. It is the strange language-culture of the race which should enter in; the inner vitality of words, the beauty of poetic cadences, the strong flow of rhythm, noble themes, great thoughts, impressive imagery and appeal. We should know the Bible as literature, not as one knows a story-book, or a dialect-exercise, but as one knows the melodies and memories of childhood.
The vital thing is not a knowledge of the historical schisms and decrees of Christendom—not the external Evidences of Religion, Ecclesiastical History, Ecclesiastical Polity, monuments, texts, memorabilia—the vital thing is the power to think about God, and the problems of mankind. It is a heart-knowledge of the difficulties and questionings of a race that yearns for virtue.
Man thirsts for God. No one is wholly indifferent to the Spirit. I fear that some ministers do not know—and never will know—the heart-hunger of the world. When they rise to speak, there is always some one present whose breath is hushed with longing to hear spoken some real word of truth, or strength, or comfort. If he receive but chaff!—
Theology is not a dry thing, and ought not be made so. It is quick with the life of the race. Each dogma is a mile-stone of human progress. It is the sifted and garnered wisdom of the centuries, concerning God, and His ways with men. Each student should feel, not that a system is being driven into him, as piles are driven into the stream, but that he is being put in philosophic contact with the thought of the race on the great topic of Religion, with liberty himself to experiment, think, and add to the store.
Homiletics is not a series of nursery-rules for man—formal, didactic droppings of a pedant’s tongue. Homiletics is the appeal of man to man, for the welfare of his soul, and the true progress of mankind. Exegesis is not a matter of Hebrew or Greek alone. It includes the spiritual interpretation of the great problems of the race. Homer, Tennyson, Browning, and Dante are exegetes, no less than Lightfoot, Lange, and Schaff.
Pastoral Divinity is not the etiquette of a polite way of making calls: it is an entering into the social spirit of the time; the learning of friendliness, unreserve, sympathy, persuasion, and a way of approach. It is the mastery of spiritual savoir-faire.
Outside of this group of technical subjects there are yet others of vital importance from a scientific understanding of the world, and of one’s work. They are Psychology, Ethics, Sociology, and Politics.
Since we have known more of the psychological meaning of adolescence, a new theory of Conversion has sprung up; and whether or not we accept it, the whole outlook over the underlying principle of conversion has been changed. We must at least recognize that conversion is a scientific process, as much as digestion is, or respiration; it is not a purely emotional occurrence.
The minister must learn what society really is, and how the far still forces of time act and react upon each other, producing group-actions, institutions, customs, ways. There are social fossils as well as physical ones. Sociology is not a system of fads and reforms. It is the scientific study of society, of its constitution, development, institutions, and growth. He must also breathe largely of the great governmental life of the race—understand the primary principles of politics and administration. He should have some knowledge of commercial interests, of the formulas, incentives, and right principles of trade.
There should also be in the seminary an inspirational atmosphere of music, literature, and art. Literature is a revelation of the life of the soul. The man who reads literature and comprehends its message is receiving a fine training which shall fit him for a thorough understanding of the heart; of its practical, ethical, and spiritual problems; of its domestic joys and sorrows; of its human cares and burdens; of the appeals that will come to him for sympathy; of the temptations that beset the race; and of the hopes and trials of the world.
Literature is one of the best tools a minister can have. He should be read in the great literary and sermonic literature, the work of Bossuet, Massillon, Chrysostom, Augustine, Fenelon, Marcus Aurelius, mediaeval homilies, Epictetus, Pascal, Guyon, Amiel, Vinet, La Brunetiere, Phelps, Jeremy Taylor, Barrows, Fuller, Whitefield, Bushnell, Edwards, Bacon, Newman, Ruskin, Carlyle, Emerson, Davies, Law, Bunyan, Luther, Spalding, Robertson, Kingsley, Maurice, Chalmers, Guthrie, Stalker, Drummond, Maclaren, Channing, Beecher, and Phillips Brooks, yes, even John Stuart Mill. All these men, by whatever name or school they are called, are writers of essays or sermons which appeal to the most spiritual deeps of man.
He should read the novels of Richter, Thackeray, Dickens, Scott, Eliot, and Victor Hugo. He should know intimately the great verse which involves spiritual problems, and human strife and aspiration,—Milton, Beowulf, Caedmon, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Spenser, ballads, sagas, the Arthur-Saga, the Nibelungenlied, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Herbert, Tennyson, Browning, Dante and Christina Rossetti, Whittier, Lowell, Longfellow, to say nothing of Goethe, Corneille, and the Greek, Roman, Persian, Egyptian, Hindu, and Arabian verse.
In music his heart should wake to the beauty of oratorios, symphonies, chorals, concert music, national and military music, and inspiring songs, not to speak of hymns and of anthems, the progress of Christian song! The Creation, the Messiah, the Redemption, Bach’s Passion Music, the St. Cecilia Mass, Spohr’s Judgment, Stainer’s Resurrection, the Twelfth Mass, Mendelssohn’s Elijah,—these are monumental works and themes.
What is a hymn? We think of it as being some simple churchly words, set to a serious tune. A hymn is the rhythmic aspiration of the race. No one can look through a good hymnal—through Hymns Ancient and Modern, for instance, or the Church Hymnary—without feeling that therein is bound up the devotional life of the world. The spiritual outlook is cosmic. Our every mood of penitence, praise, and aspiration resounds in melodious and time-defying strains.
In art, the religious spirit broods over the great work of the world. In Angelo, Francesca, Veronese, Botticelli, Titian, Raphael, Tintoretto, and Correggio, the brush of the painter has set forth the adoration of the Church of God.
Thus, taken all in all, to be educated as a minister should be to be educated in the Higher Life of the race.
Finally, above all else is the spiritual study and interpretation of the Word of God. A minister may be fearless of the investigations of scientific criticism. Every truth is important to him, but not all truths are vital. When a man such as Caspar Rene Gregory speaks, something of the holy mystery and inspiration of biblical research, as well as a scientific result, is presented, and one gains a new conception of what it really means to study and to understand the Word of God.
Under all is the life of ceaseless and prevailing prayer. By the life of prayer, many mean merely a way of learning to make public petitions, an objective appeal to God. The true life of prayer is as simple, as unteachable, and as vital as the life of a child with its mother—the little lips daily learning new ways of approach to its mother’s heart, and new words to make its wants and interests and sorrows known.
Prayer is the true World-Power. Just as there are vast stretches in the world where the foot of man has never trod, so there are unmeasured regions whereon prayer has never been. The more we pray, the more illimitable appears this spiritual realm. And all about us in the universe are also great hidden forces: nothing will lay hold of them but prayer.
Each prayer enlarges the soul. The measure of our praying is the measure of our growth. No man has reached his full possibilities of achievement who has not completed the circuit of his possible prayers. Power is proportionate to prayer.
And last of all, there is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What it is, who may say? But that it is real, who can doubt? To read the lives of Wesley, Whitefield, Finney, Moody, is to feel a strange, deep thrill. They are men who spake, and men listened; who called, and men came to God. Others, alas, so often call, and there is no response. They cannot make headway through the indifference, the sloth, the materialism, and the inherent vulgarity of the world.
The life itself is arduous. After all is said, it is not quite the same task to examine and classify either protoplasm or the most highly organized forms of nature, that it is to analyze and understand the mysterious workings of the heart, the intricacies of conscience and conduct, the possibilities of spiritual development or of moral downfall, and the many questionings, agonies, and ecstasies of the soul of man. And they are to be studied and understood with the definite and positive aim of the absolute reconstruction of the world-bound spirit—a change of its motives, purposes, affections, ideals. More than this, there must be at the heart of the more thoughtful minister a philosophic basis for the reconstruction of society itself.
Youth is not an adequate preparation for this task: a man must live and grow. To deal with such themes and occasions, there must appear in the world lives of such vigor that they can command; of such charm, that they can attract; of such wisdom, that they can guide and comfort; of such vitality, that they can inspire. And hence there rises before the mind’s eye a figure that is both knightly and kingly—a man earnest in the redress of wrong, and who yet holds a subtle authority over the forces that make for wrong; a man burdened with the cares and sorrows of many others, and yet conducting his own life with serenity, enthusiasm, dignity, and hope; a man to whose keen yet tender gaze a life-history is revealed by a word or tone, but whose own eyes receive their light from God. A prophet and a father, a priest and a counsellor, a brother, friend, and judge, a sacrifice and an inspiration should he be who, in reverence and love, brings before a waiting congregation the very Word of Life!
1. The primary rule is over conscience. The man who sways a conscience sways a human life. The man who sways a nation’s conscience controls that nation’s life. To rule conscience, a man must himself be unprejudiced and well informed. He must strive, not to keep up an unhealthy excitement which shall make conscience introspective and morbid, but to preserve a sane moral outlook, to encourage freedom of thought and judgment, and to develop a normal conscience which reacts promptly against wrong. Conscience measures our inner recoil from evil. The power of a preacher is in direct proportion to the energy with which he reveals sin in the heart of man, and wakes his whole nature against its insidious power.
Sin is. To-day, sin is thought a somewhat brusque word, lacking in polish. To use it frequently is a mark of lack of ’savoir-faire! Indeed to speak of it at all is as archaic as to speak of the Ichthyosaurus. But sin is a root-fact of the life of man. It is the office of the spiritual teacher to pluck out sin; to pierce the heart with a recognition of the enormity of sin, and of its far-reaching consequences; to stir the seared conscience, rouse the apathetic life, thrill the spiritual imagination, and to quicken the heart to better love and to nobler dreams. He rebukes the private sins of individuals and the public sins of nations. In the Faerie Queene, the “soul-diseased knight” was in a state
“In which his
torment often was so great,
That like a lyon he would cry and rare,
And rend his flesh, and his own synewes eat.”
But Fidelia, like the faithful pastor, was both
with her word to kill,
And raise againe to life the heart that she did thrill.”
This power has at times been misunderstood and misapplied. No human authority can bind the conscience, nor set rules and regulations for the soul of man. The prerogative of final direction belongs to God alone. No man may arrogate it—no pastor for people, no husband for wife, no wife for husband, no parent for child. The sadness of the world has been, that men have not always been spiritually free. Freedom has been a social growth—a phase of progress. It has taken wars and persecutions, revolutions and reformations, the blood of saints and martyrs, the sorrow of ages, to plant this precept in the mind of man.
The evangelist warns. He speaks of sin, death, hell, and the judgment to come. It is for these things that he is sent to testify. These are not the catch-words of a new sort of Fear King who uses oral terrors to affright the soul of man. Heaven and hell are not a new sort of ghost-land: retribution is not a larger way of tribal revenge.
No. The latest facts of science present this universe as not only progressive, but as retributive. There is a rebound of evil which makes for pain. Each broken law exacts a penalty. Each deed of sin is a forerunner of personal and of social disaster. The generation that sins shall be cut off, while the stock of the righteous grows strong from age to age.
The scientific vista opening to the eye of man is impressive and appalling. Each man has within himself a future of joy or sadness for the race. Do you remember the sermon of Horace Bushnell on the “Populating Power of the Christian Faith”? Do you recall the history of the infamous Jukes family? That of the seven devout and noble generations of the Murrays? The Day of Judgment is not only the Last Great Day—it is to-day and every day. “Every day is Doomsday,” says Emerson. Nature is unforgetful. Nature is accountant. Each iniquity must be paid for out of the resources of the race.
It is of these grave omens that the Man of God must speak. He dare not be tongue-tied by custom or by fear. He must proclaim hell in the ears of all mankind. For wherever hell may be, and we do not yet know, and whatever hell may be, and we cannot even imagine, Hell is; and the soul of man must be kept mindful of these great things.
The evangelist comforts and consoles. The heart of man is wayward and goes oft astray. No one can be belabored into righteousness. The true lover of souls allows for the hereditary weaknesses of man, for his infirmities of will and temper, for his excuses, wanderings, and tears, and presents to him Jesus, in whose sight no one is too wretched to be received, too wicked to be forgiven.
We must have forgiveness in order to know God. The most comforting thought in the world is that God knows all we do. There can be no misunderstanding between us: He cannot be misinformed.
The evangelist must come close, in sympathy and counsel, to the personal and individual life of those whom he would help. Perhaps the best way to emphasize this point would be to insert here words written by a woman who has been thinking on this subject.
She says: “I have never had a pastor. It is the one good thing lacking in my life. I have grown up among ministers, and have had many friends among them—some of them have cared for me. But there has never been one among them all who stood in an attitude of spiritual authority and helpfulness to my life. We church-going and Christian men and women of the educated class are almost wholly let alone; apparently no one takes thought for our souls. We are not in the least infallible; we come face to face with fierce temptations; we have heart-breaking sorrows; we are burdened with anxiety and perplexity. But we are left to grope as blind sheep; there is no one to point out the path to us, however dimly; no one to say, at any crucial moment of our lives, Walk here!
“Once, however,” she continues, “one of my friends, a minister, knelt down by me and prayed. It was a simple and ordinary occasion—others were present. But every word of that prayer was meant for the uplifting of my heart. In that hour, I was as if overshadowed by the Holy Ghost; new aims and purposes were born within me. My friend loves me—that does not matter—it is his spiritual intensity I care for. And this is his reward for his fidelity and tenderness: In the hour when I come to die, when one does not ask for father or mother, or husband or wife, or brother or sister, or friend or child, but only for the strong comfort of the man of God—in that hour, I say, if I be at all able to make my wishes known, I shall send for that man to come to me. He, and no other, shall present my soul to God.”
Reading the above words, more than one minister will cry out, his eyes blazing: “I say the same to you! Who is there that tries to shield the minister from sorrow and from pain? Who is there to comfort and help him? You think we can just go on, and preach, preach, preach, standing utterly alone, and with no one on earth to keep our own hearts close to God! I tell you, it is a lonely and weary work at times, this being a minister!”
Yes, there must be a people, as well as a pastor. The relation is reciprocal. Wherever there is a strong man, leaning down in fire and tenderness to help the lives about him, there must be a loyal and loving congregation, with here and there in it some one who more fully appreciates and understands. Nothing beats down and discourages a man more than to feel that he is preaching to cold air and not to human folks, and to get back, when he offers sympathy, a stare.
A congregation is a mysterious and subtle social force. Its effect on a minister he can neither analyze nor explain. But he knows that its power is mesmeric and cannot be escaped. He goes into its presence from an hour of exalted and uplifted prayer, serene, happy, strong, and prepared to speak words of power and life. Gazing at his people—he can never tell why—the words freeze on his lips. An icy hand seems laid upon his heart, and he makes a cold and formal presentation of his glowing theme, and wonders who or what has done it all. Something satanic and repelling has laid hold of his tongue and brain.
Or again, he may have had a worried and troubled week, full of personal anxiety and sorrow. He has not had full time to study—he feels quite unprepared, and enters the pulpit with a halting step, and a choking fear of failure at his heart.
In a moment, the world changes. Something imperceptible, but sweet and comforting, steals over him,—an uplifting atmosphere of attention, sympathy, affection. He begins to speak, very quietly at first, with quite an effort. But the congregation leads him on, to deeper thoughts, to nobler words, to modulations of voice that carry him quite beyond himself. His voice rises, and every syllable is firm and musical. His language springs from some far centre of inspiration. He is conscious of superb power, and as sentence after sentence falls from his lips——sentences that amaze himself more than any other——he enters into the supreme height of joy, that of being a spiritual messenger to the hearts of longing men and women. He and they together talk of God.
This sympathetic atmosphere makes great preachers and great men. In return, there flows from a pastor toward his people a love that few can know or understand.
2. His rule is also over spiritual enthusiasm. What is a revival? We confound it with a local excitement, a community-sensation of an hysterical and passing type—with sensational disturbances, falling exercises, shouts, weeping, and the like. A revival is something far different. A revival is an awakening of the community heart and mind. It is a quickening of dead, backsliding, or inattentive souls.
Man as an individual is quite a different person from the same man in a crowd. One is himself alone; the other is himself, plus the influence of the Social Mind. A revival is a social state, in which the social religious enthusiasm is stirred up. It is a lofty form of religion, just as the patriotism which breaks forth in tears and cheers as troops go out to war is a finer type than the mere excitement and fervor of one patriotic man. What would the Queen’s Jubilee have been, if but one soldier had marched up and down? A great commemoration! If we grant the reality of national rejoicing in the royal jubilees, commercial rejoicing in business men’s processions, university enthusiasm on Commencement Day—shall we not grant the reality of the religious interest and enthusiasm of a great revival, in which whole communities shall be led to a clearer knowledge of spiritual things?
The Crusades were a magnificent revival. The Reformation was a revival. The Salvation Army movement is a revival. But the greatest revival of all times is even now upon us: it is a revival in the scientific circles of the race. Time was when science and religion were supposed to be at odds; to-day the intellectual phalanxes are sweeping Christward with an impetus that is sublime! Thinkers are finding in the large life of religion a motive power for their thought, their growth—a reason for their existence—a forecast of their destiny. We are beginning to realize the dynamic value of Belief. This revival is coming, not with shouts and noise, but with the quiet insistence of new ideas, of new facts—with the still voice of scientific announcement. The atheist is being overcome, not by emotion, but by evidence; the scoffer is being put down by cool logic.
Hence the evangelist of to-day is more than a man who can popularly address a public audience, and by tales and tears arouse a weeping commotion. The evangelist is a man of intellect and prayer, who can preach the gospel to a scientific age, and to a thinking coterie—a coterie of college men and mechanics, of society women and servant-girls, of poets and of mine-diggers, of convicts and of reformers. To-day calls for the utmost intellectual resources of the teacher of the truth, for a great imagination, great style, great sympathy with men, large learning, and unceasing prayer!
3. His rule is over social ideals. He must be a man of social insight. The social spirit is abroad in the world, but it is woefully erratic and misguided. Any one thinks he can be an altruist. Why not? Take a class in a college settlement, make some bibs for a day nursery, give tramps a C.O.S. card, with one’s compliments, and attend about six lectures a year on Philanthropy—the lectures very good indeed. One is then a full-fledged altruist, n’est-ce pas?
The philanthropy of to-day has a bewildering iridescence of aspect. Each present impulse is reformatory. Correction, like a centipede, shows a hundred legs and wants to run upon them all. Much of the so-called philanthropy is not well balanced and is run by cranks. Cranks attach themselves to any social movement, as a shaggy gown will gather burrs. It is not all of philanthropy to classify degenerates, titter at ignorance, and to go a-peeping through the slums! We have not yet realized the fulness of redemption. Of what avail is it to save one street-Arab, or one Chinaman, if a million Arabs and Chinamen remain unsaved? Redemption is a race-savior: it seizes not only the individual, but his environment, his friends, and his future state.
The true minister is a reformer. A reformer is one who re-crystallizes the social ideals of man, who breaks up idols and bad customs, and sweeps away abuses. But we must first ask: What is an idol? What is a bad custom? What is an abuse? They are social standards which are out of harmony with true concepts of God, life, and duty. Behind the work of the reformer is the dream of the reformer, the meditation of the mystic, the seer. He must first have in mind a plain, clear conception of what the relation is of man to God, of what man’s environment should be, and of what the society of the Kingdom should be. The reformer is one who changes an existing social environment for approximately this ideal environment of his own thought. When he breaks an idol, it is not the idol itself that he everlastingly hates, it is the materialistic concept of the community. What he wishes in place of the idol is a right conception. No man could break up every idol in the Sandwich Islands. But a man went about implanting a spiritual idea of God, and the idols disappeared.
Hence the work of the reformer is deep and heart-searching work. It means constant study of the spiritual needs of the age, continual insight into the material forces which are moulding the age-images, money, conquest, or whatever they may be. He wishes to maintain a spiritual hold on civilization itself, so to transform the ideal within a man, a community, a nation, in regard to custom, observance, belief, that the outer rite shall follow.
To reform is not to rush through the slums, and then preach a sensational sermon about bad places in the slums, of which most people never knew before! To reform is to know something of the conditions which produce the slums—it is not to scatter the slum-people broadcast elsewhere in the town; it is not alone to give them baths, playgrounds, circulating libraries of books and pictures, dancing-parties, and social clubs. To reform the slums is to set up a new ideal of God, and of righteous conduct in the heart of the slum-dwellers. One must know something of the slow processes of social change, of social assimilation, growth, and stability, to have an intellectual perception of the problem, as well as a spiritual one. One does not make an ill-fed child strong by stuffing five pounds of oatmeal down its throat!
The reformer must not only be a man of energy, he must be a man of patience. Great reforms come slowly. As man has advanced, idleness, indolence, brutality, tyranny, drunkenness, cant, and social scorn are gradually being cast out. But behind these simple words lie hid centuries of strife and endeavor, and limitless darkenings of human hope.
To fly against vice is merely to invite enmity and opposition. To present a pure and noble ideal, to breathe forth a holy atmosphere for the soul, are constructive works. The trouble is not, that the ministers preach on social themes—all themes that concern the life of man are social themes. It is that they do piece-work and patch-work of reform, instead of plain, direct upbuilding work in the souls and consciences of men. To preach upon horse-stealing is one thing. The horse-stealer may be impressed, convicted, made penitent, and return the stolen horse. But not until his heart is imbued with a spiritual conception of honesty, as the law of God, will he steal a stray horse no more. Hence the first questions in reform are not: How many groggeries are there in my parish? How many corrupt polls? How many hypocrites on my church-roll? The question is: How is my parish society in enmity to the highest spiritual ideal I know? Many men preach about saloons, when they ought to be preaching about Christ.
The force of this reform-energy is uncomputed. We hear of occasional great reformers, but forget that there has been a prevailing influence extending over the ages, of holy men of God, who have preached and taught and prayed; who have preserved our social institutions of spiritual import, and have been a mighty and continuous force working for righteousness and peace.
Missions are a higher form of politics. To further missions is to further government, international comity, world-peace.
4. His rule is over creed. He is inevitably a teacher of doctrine.
What is doctrine? Doctrine is spiritual truth, formulated in a systematic way. It is also, in church matters, a system of truth which has been believed in, and clung to, by a body of believers constituting some branch of the catholic Church.
It is a noble and serious office to hand down from generation to generation the faith and traditions of the Church of God. But this handing-down must be upright. “You must bind nothing upon your charges,” says Jeremy Taylor, “but what God hath bound upon you.” Conviction is at the root of the lasting traditions of the Church. Only this—his conviction—can one man really teach another. If he try to speak otherwise, he shall have a lolling and unsteady tongue.
No soul is finally held by the indefinite, or the namby-pamby. It begins to question, Upon what foundation does this phrase, this fine sentiment, rest? It must stand upon a proposition. This proposition rests either upon a scientific fact, or upon that which, for want of a more definite term, we call the religious instinct of man. But a proposition cannot standalone. It is connected with other propositions, arguments, conclusions. Hence a system of logic, of philosophy, of expressed belief, of doctrine, inevitably grows up in a thinking community, a thinking Church.
The statement of an ecclesiastical system of doctrine may not be the absolutely true one, nor the final one. Doctrine changes, even as scientific theories change with fuller information. Doctrine also expands, with the growth of the human spirit and understanding. To-day, in one’s library, one has a thousand books. They are shelved and catalogued, for reference, in a special order. But years hence, one’s grandson, who inherits these books, may have ten thousand books. The aspect of the library is changed. It is filled with new volumes, and new thought. Shall we give a liberty to a man’s library which we refuse to his belief? Must he—and his church—have only his grandfather’s ideas, standards, and decrees?
The tenets of a sect are the theological arrangement of belief which for the present seems best; it is the systematic arrangement of facts so far examined, determined, and classified. But no system of theology can be final. Thought is moving on. Experience is progressive. Providence is continually revealing. The race is a creed-builder, as well as a builder of pyramids, cathedrals, and triumphal arches.
The building-up of doctrine is superb. Into doctrine are woven the intellectual beliefs, the emotional experiences, and the spiritual struggles of mankind. Doctrine is an attempt to classify the spiritual problems of the race and to present a theory of redemption which shall be adequate, spiritually progressive, and the exact expression, so far as yet revealed, of the will of God for man. All Christian doctrine is centred about one point: the redemption of the race from sin. Dealing with such great and fundamental themes, each system of doctrine is an intellectual triumph.
Doctrine is an intellectual necessity. Christ is not sporadic, either in history or philosophy. To teach Christ, as the unlettered savage may who has just learned of Christ the Saviour and turns to teach his fellow-savages, might do good or save a soul from death. But in order to command the intellectual respect of the race, there must be another form of teaching yet than this, a teaching which presents Christ in the historic and philosophic setting: the central Figure in a great body of associated spiritual truth; Christ as the fulfilment of prophecy, the means of social adjustment and regeneration; the Finisher of our Faith, and the Source of eternal joy. We must be, not less spiritual Christians, but increasingly intellectual ones, as time rolls on.
Who are the men who have built up doctrine? Men speak as if doctrine were an ecclesiastical toy—to be shaken by priest or prelate, as one shakes a rattle, for noise, for play! A doctrine is not a toy; it is the crystallized belief of earnest, thoughtful, and godly men—belief which has passed into a church tradition, and is now received as an act of faith.
Shall doctrine be taught a child? Yes! To have a specific doctrine clearly in mind does not fetter the young soul, any more than to be taught the apparent facts of geography and history, which may change either in reality or in his own interpretation as his mind matures. A doctrine is a practical and definite thing to work with; in later life to believe, and to approve of, or disbelieve, and disapprove of. If a man wishes to build a house, does it fetter him to know square measure, cubic contents, geometry, mensuration, and mechanical laws? Yet when he builds his house, he builds it in his own individual way; he stamps it with his own personality and ideas. While building it, perchance, he discovers some new relation or geometric law.
Doctrine does not save from hell, but it does save from many a snare that besets the feet of man. It is a steadier of life, a strengthener of hope, a stalwart aid to a practical, devout, and duty-doing life. A catechism is a system of doctrine expressed in its simplest form. Therefore, for the intellectual and moral training of the Church, let us have sound doctrine in the pulpit, and the catechism in the home and Sabbath-school.
It is objected that doctrinal terminology is too hard for a child to understand. Is this not absurd, when the same child can come home from school and talk glibly of a parallelepipedon, a rhombus, rhomboid, polyhedral angle, archipelago, law of primogeniture, the binomial theorem, and of a dicotyledon! He also learns French, German, Latin, Greek, and the argot of the public school!
The theological leader of to-day cannot be a creed-monger: he must be a creed-maker. Side by side with the executive officers who will reorganize the Christian forces, there will stand great creed-makers, giant theologians, firm, logical, scientific, and convincing, who, out of the vast array of new facts brought forth by modern science, will produce new creeds, a new catechism, a new dogmatic series. It is worth while to live in these days—to know the possibility of such monumental constructive work in one’s own lifetime. The creed-makers must have a thorough literary training; no mere vocabulary of philosophy will answer. Like the Elizabethan divines, they must rule the living word, which shall echo for a century yet to come.
As the great Ecumenical Council was convened for missionary progress, so the times are now ripe for the assembling of a historic Theological Council, to revise and restate, not one denominational catechism, but the creed of Christendom; to provide a new literary expression of the Christian faith. Together we are working in God’s world, and for His kingdom.
If doctrine be the crystallized thought and belief of godly men, what is heresy? What is schism? Who is dictator of doctrine? How far are the limits of authority to be pressed? What are the bounds of ecclesiastical control? of intellectual mandate in the Christian Church?
In the academic world, we do not cast a man out of his mathematical chair because he can also work in astro-physics or in psycho-physics. If he can pursue advanced research in an allied or applied field, it will help him in his regular and prescribed work. We do not cast an English professor out of his chair, because he announces that there are two manuscripts of Layamon’s Brut, and that the text of Beowulf has been many times worked over, before we have received it in its present form. Yet there are accredited professors of English who do not know these facts, and who, if called upon, could neither prove them nor disprove them. They have not worked in the Bodleian, in the British Museum, or in other foreign libraries, on Old English texts and authorities. They think themselves well up in Old English if they can translate the text of Beowulf fairly well, remember its most difficult vocabulary, and can tell a tale or two from the Brut.
Not every man has Europe or Asia in his backyard, nor a lifetime of leisure for research, for special learning, on the moot questions of church-scholarship. Progress consists in each man’s doing his best to advance the interests of the kingdom of God in his own special sphere. From others he must take something for granted. The ear of the Church ought always to be open to the sayings of the specialist. A Church should grant liberty of research, of thought, of speech—to a degree.
But whatever may come out of twentieth-century or thirtieth-century combats, one thing remains clear: A Church is an organization, a social body, with a certain doctrine to proclaim, a certain faith to hand down to men. The doctrine is not in all details final—each phase of faith may change. But the organization, to protect its own purity and integrity—however generous in allowing individual research, and the expression of individual ideas—must exert authority over the teachers in her midst, those who are called by her name, who have her children in their charge, and for whose teaching the Church, as a whole, is responsible. There is doubtless a time when the man who is really in advance of his times intellectually must be misunderstood, must be disagreed with, must be cast out. But all truth may await the verdict of time. If he has discovered something new, something true, the centuries will make it plain. There remains a chance—and the Church dare not risk too great a chance—that he is mistaken, impious, presumptuous, or self-deceived. We dare not rush to a new doctrine or spiritual conception, merely because one man, who knows more of a certain kind of learning than we do, has said so. One must be bolstered up by a generation of convinced and believing men, before he can draw a Church after him. No other process is intellectually legitimate. In any other event ecclesiastical anarchy would reign. To maintain the historic position of the Church is a necessity, until that position is proven untrue. So to maintain it is not bigotry, it is not lack of charity; it is merely common-sense.
The question, Where is the line between ecclesiastical integrity and individual freedom? is therefore one which the common-sense of Christendom is left to solve—not to-day, not to-morrow, but gradually, generously, and conscientiously, as the centuries go on.
It is said that a minister is greatly handicapped to-day in all his efforts for two reasons: First, that the times are spiritually lethargic, that men are so engrossed by material aims, indifference, or sin that a pastor can get no hold upon their hearts. Second, that he is bound hand and foot by conditions existing in the organization and personnel of his church, and hence is not free to act.
What would we think of an electrician who would complain that a storm had cast down his network of wires? Of a civil engineer who would lament that the mountain over which he was asked to project a road was steep? Of a doctor who would grieve that hosts of people about him were very ill? Of a statesman who would cry out that horrid folks opposed him? It is the work of the specialist to meet emergencies, and it is his professional pride to triumph over difficult conditions. The harder his task, the more he exults in his power of success.
It is a glorious task that lies before the minister of to-day—to maintain, develop, and uplift the spiritual life of the most wonderful epoch of the world’s history; to place upon human souls that vital touch that shall hold their powers subject to eternal influences and aims. The times are not wholly unfavorable: our era, which spurns many ecclesiastical forms, is at heart essentially religious. The World for Christ! How this war-cry of the spirit thrills anew as one realizes how much more there is to win to-day than ever before. The Warrior girds himself and longs eagerly to marshal great, shining, active hosts for God!
It is true that the conditions of work are more trying than they have usually been. A man goes out from the seminary. He has had a good education, followed by perhaps a year or two abroad, and some practical experience in sociological work. He has plans, ideas, ideals, a vigorous and whole-souled personality, a frank and generous heart.
What does he find? He soon discovers that the battle is not always to the strong, the educated, or the well-bred. Too often he is at the mercy of rich men who can scarcely put together a grammatical sentence; of poorer men who are, in church affairs, unscrupulous politicians; of women who carp and gossip; and of all sorts of men and women who desire to rule, criticise, hinder, and distrain. They, too, are the very people who, in the ears of God and of the community, have vowed to love him and to uphold his work! The more intellectual and spiritual he is, the more he is troubled and distressed.
Many churches, too, are in a chronic state of internal war. As for these rising church difficulties—try to put out a burning bunch of fire-crackers with one finger, and you have the sort of task he has in hand. While one point of explosion is being firmly suppressed, other crackers are spitting and going off. Whichever way he turns, and whatever he does, something pops angrily, and a new blaze begins! And this business, incredibly petty as it is, blocks the progress of the Christian faith. Men and women of education and refinement, of a wide outlook and noble thoughts and deeds, are more and more unwilling to place themselves on the church-roll; a minister sometimes finds himself in the anomalous position of having the more cultured, congenial, and philanthropic people of the community quite outside any church organization.
All these things mean, not that a minister must grow discouraged, but that he must set his teeth, and with pluck and endurance rise strong and masterful and say, This shall not be! Let him not listen to the barking and baying: let him hearken to the great primal voices of man and nature. Love lies deeper than discord. The constructive forces of humanity are stronger than the disintegrative. The right attraction binds.
There are some men who by the sheer force of their personality subdue their church difficulties. They hold the captious in awe. By a sort of magnetic persuasion and lively sense of humor they soothe this one and that, win the regard of the outlying community, attach many new members to the organization, and build up, out of discordant and erstwhile discontented elements, a harmonious and active church. This is the man for these martial times! If there are born leaders in every other department of the world’s work, men who quietly but firmly assert their authority and supremacy in the tasks in which they hold, by free election or legitimate appointment, a place at the head—it ought to be so in the Church of God! I long to see arise in the ministry a race of iron!
There are other difficulties, seldom spoken of, of which one must write frankly, though with the keenest sympathy, if one is to look deeply into the modern church problem. First: Is a minister’s environment favorable to his best personal development? Does he not miss much from the lack of the world’s hearty give-and-take? He gets criticism, but not of a just or all-round kind. Small things may be pecked at, trifles may be made mountains of by the disgruntled, but where does he get a clear-sighted, whole-hearted estimate of himself and his work? Who tells him of his real virtues, his real faults? Among all his friends, who is there, man or woman, who is brave enough to be true?
Other men are soon shaken into place. Their personal traits continually undergo a process of chiselling and adjustment. They are told uncomfortable things how quickly! At the club, in the university, in the market, the ploughing-field, the counting-room, they rub up against each other, and no mercy is shown by man to man until primary signs of crudeness are worn off. Let a conceited professor get in a college chair! Watch a hundred students begin their delightful and salutary process of “taking him down” by the sort of mirth in which college boys excel! Their unkindness is not right, but the result is, they never molest a man who is merely eccentric.
Watch a scientific association jump with all fours upon a man who has just read a paper before their body! How unsparingly they analyze and criticise! He has to meet questions, opposition, comments, shafts of wit and envy, jovial teasing and correction. He goes out from the meeting with a keener love of truth and exactness, and a less exalted idea of his own powers. Watch the rivalry and sparring that go on in any business. Men meet men who attack them; they fight and overcome them, or are themselves overcome.
Human friction is not always harmful. A minister should not be hurt or angered by disagreement and discussion. No one’s ideas are final. Let him expect to stand in the very midst of a high-strung, spirited, and hard-working generation. Let him be turned out of doors. Let him travel, look, learn, meet men and women, and conquer in the arena of manhood. Then, by means of this undaunted manhood, he may the better guide the fiery enthusiasms of men, inspire their higher ambitions, and comfort them in their bitter human sorrows!
Again, too often a minister is spoiled in his first charge by flattery, polite lies, and gushing women. He is sadly overpraised. A bright young fellow comes from the seminary. He can preach; that is, he can prepare interesting essays, chiefly of a literary sort, which are pleasant to listen to, though, in the nature of things, they can have scarcely a word in them of that deep, life-giving experience and counsel which come from the hearts of men and women who have lived, and know the truth of life. He is told that these sermons are “lovely,” “beautiful,” “so inspiring,” and he believes every word of praise. No one says to him, “When you know more, you will preach better,” and his standard of excellence does not advance. This man, who might have become a great preacher, remains, as years go on, alas! an intellectual potterer.
He is also socially made too much of, being one of the very few men available for golf and afternoon teas, suppers, picnics, tennis, charity-bazaars. Other men are frankly too busy for much of these things, except for healthful recreation; and not infrequently one finds stray ministers absolutely the only men at some function to which men have been invited.
A minister is not a parlor-pet. How many a time an energetic man, society-bound, must long to kick over a few afternoon tea-tables, and smash his way out through bric-a-brac and chit-chat to freedom and power!
I should think that a real Man in the ministry would get so very tired of women! They tell him all their complaints and difficulties, from headaches, servants, and unruly children, to their sentimental experiences and their spiritual problems. Men tell him almost nothing. Watch any group of men talking, as the minister comes in. A moment before they were eager, alert, argumentative. Now they are polite or mildly bored. He is not of their world. Some assert that he is not even of their sex! Hence the lips of men are too often sealed to the minister. He must find some way not only to meet them as brother to brother, but he must capture their inmost hearts. The shy confidence of an honorable man once won, his friendship never fails.
The question of a minister’s relation to the women of his congregation and the community is not only curious and complex—it is a perpetual comedy. How do other men in public life deal with this problem? They have a genial but indifferent dignity, quite compatible with courtesy and friendly ways. They shoulder responsibility; they do not flirt; they sort out cranks; they flee from simpers; they put down presumption. If married, they laugh heartily with their wives over any letter or episode that is comical or sentimental. If not married, they get out of things the best way they know how, with a sort of plain, manly directness. If a minister would arrogate to himself his free-born privilege of being a thorough-going man, many of his troubles would disappear.
Let him hold himself firmly aloof both from nonsense and from enervating praise. Let him dream of great themes, and work for great things! Let him rely on more quiet friends who watch loyally, hope, encourage, inspire. By and by the scales drop from his eyes; he sees himself, not as one who has already achieved, but as one to whom the radiant gates of life are opening, so that he, too, can one day speak to human souls as the masters have done! He discovers that out of the heart’s depths is great work born! This is a memorable day, both for this man and for his church. From that hour he has vision and power.
Another error in ministerial education and outlook is that too often ministers forget that they compete with other men: they are not an isolated class of humanity. Competition underlies the energy and efficiency of the world’s work. When men do not consciously compete with others, they inevitably drop behind. What a minister was intended for, was to stand head and shoulders above other men. God seems to have planned the universe in such a way that everywhere the spiritual shall be supreme. He was meant to be a towering leader. Who, in other realms, has excelled Moses, Joshua, Elijah, David, Paul?
But if we consider the responsibilities which are now being laid upon different classes of people, and carried by them, I think that we must acknowledge that the statesman is looming up as the most influential and upbuilding man to-day. He is the one who is adjusting the new world-powers and the new world-relations, over-seeing the development of our country, and planning for its laws and commerce. Close to him comes the physician, who is laying his hand on world-plagues, and is studying the conditions and the forms of disease, with a view to striking disease at its root. The hand of the doctor is laid upon consumption, malaria, yellow fever, diphtheria, typhoid fever, and bubonic plague, and the advance in medical research is marvellous.
The lawyer and the capitalist are together adjusting the industrial relations of the country. We have trusts, syndicates, and corporation-problems handled with a firm intellectual grasp and a wide outlook over human affairs.
The reading of the world is in the hands of editors of enterprise and sagacity. They daily bring wars, statecraft, business plans, political situations, trade openings, scientific discoveries, forms of church-work and philanthropy, accidents, murders, and marriages, to our breakfast-table. The press of to-day has a tremendous scope. When some of the magazines come to hand, one feels that he is in touch with the affairs of the universe and has reading of a cosmic order.
The day-laborer is discovering that to ingenuity, talent, and manliness, the whole world swings open. Carnegie’s Thirty Partners, most of whom have come from the working-ranks, demonstrate that a man can rise from the pick, the spade, the foreman’s duties, to the control of great industrial interests.
Bankers are thinking out the financial problems—currency, legal tender, the best forms of money and authority; the whole monetary system of the world is under consideration and analysis. The farmer is learning, through chemistry and other forms of science, new ways of making his farm productive, and the educated agriculturist is rising to be an intellectual factor in the development of our country. Everywhere we see Life awakening—a great renaissance!
Has the minister, as a thinker and active force of regeneration, kept pace with this advance? Do many sermons thrill us in this large way? Where does he rank among the world-masters of energy and power?
The ministry is supposed to be a work of saving souls. But if we could know the direct effect of preaching, and the conversions which are really due to preaching, I think we should find them comparatively few. What touched the boy or girl, man or woman, and led him or her to Christ was not the sermon, or pastoral talk, though this one or another may have united with the Church after a special sermon, revival, or personal appeal. It was the memory and influence of a mother’s prayers; of early associations; of a teacher, a lover, a friend. The conversion came direct from God—the soul was acted upon by some special moving of the Holy Spirit. Or it was the death of a friend, an illness, an accident, a disappointment, which turned the thoughts to heavenly things. Or it was a book that searched the soul’s depths, or some quickening human experience. Is this quite as it should be? Is not professional pride aroused?
Suppose that New York City should suddenly be invaded by the bubonic plague or yellow fever. Would any one be to blame? Certainly! Such an outcry would go up as would echo across the country. Where were the quarantine officers? Where was the port physician? Where were the specialists who attend to sanitation and disinfection?
We say that divorce and Sabbath-breaking are sweeping over our country—gambling, social drinking, and many other ills; a sensational press, a corrupt politics, a materialistic greed.
All the ministers under heaven cannot take sin out of the world, nor uproot sin altogether from the heart of man: the plague conies in at birth. Neither can all the doctors living remove disease, so that no one will get sick or die. But just as the doctor can, by study, by training, by counsel, by practice, and by the direction of wise law-making, protect the health interests of his country or community, so the minister should stand, yet more largely than to-day, as a break-water between the world and the tides of sin! He should not only be able to keep alive in a country an atmosphere of prayer, devotion, and unselfish service—he should, by God’s help, make piety the general estate of the land; he should not only be intellectually able to show the great advantage of the upright Christian life, he should straight-way lead all classes into that life; he should be able to lay a hand on the moral maladies of mankind, personal and national, and prescribe effectual remedies; take lame, halt, sinning souls, and by God’s grace and Spirit, lift not only individuals, but whole communities, to a more spiritual plane.
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!
Our Father in Heaven,
Creator of all,
O source of all wisdom,
On Thee we would call!
Thou only canst teach us,
And show us our need,
And give to Thy children
True knowledge indeed.
But vain our instruction,
And blind we must be,
Unless with our learning
Be knowledge of Thee.
Then pour forth Thy Spirit
And open our eyes,
And fill with the knowledge
That only makes wise.
From pride and presumption,
O Lord, keep us free,
And make our hearts humble,
And loyal to Thee,
That living or dying,
In Thee we may rest,
And prove to the scornful
Thy statutes are best._
If we should be told that at birth a strange and wonderful gift had been bestowed upon us, one such that by means of it, in after life, we could accomplish almost anything we wished, how we should guard it! With what delight we would make it work, to see what it would do! We should never be tired of such a toy, because every day it would reveal new possibilities of power and delight.
Such a gift God has given us in our power to think. What a mysterious and deep-hid gift it is! Nerves and sensations, a few convolutions in the brain, acts of attention and observation, certain reactions following certain stimuli: the result, a world of worlds spread out before us; unlimited intellectual possibilities within our grasp!
What is thinking? Thinking is an attempt to express infinite thoughts, affections, relations, and events, in finite terms. The child strings buttons. The philosopher strings God, angels, devils, brutes, men, and their appurtenances and deeds. Hence no real thought will quite go into words. Out beyond the word hangs the infinite remainder of our idea. The search for a vocabulary is the search for a clearer articulation of ideas.
Thinking is the power to take up life where the race has left off attainment, and to lead the race one step farther on, by a new concept or idea. It is a curious thing, this little turn in the brain, a thought. We cannot see it, or touch it, or handle it. Yet we can give it, one to another, or one man to the race. It has an infinite leverage. One great thought moves millions onward. Plant the word steam, and globe-transport changes. Plant electricity, and a hundred new industries spring up. Plant liberty, tyrants fall. Plant love, chaotic angers disappear.
If we refuse to learn to think, we refuse to do our share of the world’s work. We are like a horse that balks and will not pull. While we sulk the universe is at a standstill.
Spelling and arithmetic, history, etymology, and geography, are not tasks set over school-children by a hard taskmaster, who keeps them from sunshine and out-of-door play. They are catch-words of the universe. They are the implements by which each brain is to be trained to do great work for the one in whom it lives. What every earnest soul asks is not gold, fame, or pleasure. It is: Let me not die till I have brought millions farther on.
We cannot deliberately make thoughts. Thought is like life itself: science has not found a formula which will produce it. But just as marriage produces new lives, though we cannot say how, so study and meditation produce thoughts. Something new appears: a concept which was not with the race before.
The work of sages has been to rule the thinking of the race. They receive the inspired ideas and spend their lives in teaching them to others: in setting up intellectual vibrations throughout the world.
Some day, I hope Sargent will paint a March of Sages, as gloriously as he has painted the panels of the Prophets. Then we shall gaze upon the train of heavy-browed, noble-eyed, wise, gentle-mannered men, who have been the enduring teachers of the race,—thinkers, leaders, seers. Confucius, Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, the mediaeval philosophers, the Egyptian, Persian, and Arabian thinkers, Roger Bacon, Thomas Aquinas, Eckhart, William of Occam, Bede, Thomas a Kempis, Francis Bacon, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Spencer,—with what dignity the processional moves down the years! The sum of human knowledge is vast; but how much more vast seem the achievements of each of these men, when we realize how few his years, and how many the obstacles and impediments of his all too short career! There is ever a pathos in the life of the wise.
By thinking, we pass from the gossip of the neighborhood into the conversation of the years. We do not know what Alcibiades said to his man-servant about the care of his clothes, baths, perfumes,—nor what his man-servant retailed to other retainers of the eccentricities and vanities of his master. But we know what Pericles and Plato said to the race. Here is the advantage of a thinking mind—that at any moment one may enter into eternal subjects of thought, and have converse with those who of all times have been the most profound.
Nothing teases the soul like the thought of the unfinished, the imperfect, the incomplete. And yet, when we have thought and planned a really great and abiding work, whether we ever finish it or not—for many things in life may intervene between conception and completion—to have thought of it is to have had in our lives a pleasure that can never die. For one blessed hour or year we have been lifted to the thoughts of God and have entered into the great original Design. Hence it is that the life of the real Thinker, however broken or disturbed, is at heart a life of serenity and joy. What matters a conflagration, a disappointment, to him whose thoughts are set upon the race?
Thinking is a form of vital growth. We all wish for growth. Is there any one who wishes to stay always just where he is to-day? To be always what he is this morning? The tree grows, the flower grows, the ideals of the race grow—shall not I?
We are born to a destiny which has no limit of grandeur save the limit of the thought of God, The wish for growth is the wish to enter into the spiritual ideals of the universe,—to become one with its advancement, one with its decrees.
But do not the secular look upon growth as a sort of chase—a chase for more learning, more money, a bigger business, a higher degree, a better position, a brilliant marriage,—a struggle for wealth, renown, acclaim? These things are not in themselves growth, nor its real index. Growth is not a form of avarice. Growth is a vital state of being. Growth is the assimilation of experience. Growth is development in the line of eternal purpose. Growth is the combination of our souls with the things that are, in such a way as to make a perpetual progress toward the things that are to be.
We lose much because we lose avidity out of our lives, the eagerness to grasp what spiritually belongs to us,—to share the universal enthusiasm, the universal hope. Day by day the world wheels about us—sunset and moonrise, wind, hail, frost, snow, vapor, care, anxiety, temptation, trial, joy, fear. Whatever touches the sense or the soul is something by which, rightly used, we may grow. There is nothing we need fear to take into our lives, if it receives the right assimilation. Each experience is meant to be a vital accession. We narrow our lives and enfeeble our powers when we try to reject any of these things, or unlawfully escape them, or are yet indifferent to them. Prejudice, cowardice, and apathy are death.
Experience is what the race has been through. Each of us has his personal variant of this common life. Thought is the power by which we make it available for our own better living, and the future life of the race.
To the early man, there existed earth, air, water, fire, heat, cold, tempest, and the growth of living things. He lived, ate, fought, but his thoughts were primitive and personal. Have I had enough dinner? he asked, not, Is the race fed?
By and by some one arose who began to consider things in the abstract, and to relate them to his neighbor, and formulate conclusions about them. He was the first real Thinker, Then air-philosophy and element-philosophy grew up—beast-worship, animalism, fire-worship, and the rudiments of simple scientific learning, as, for instance, when men found that they could make a tool to cut, a spike to sew.
Since then, what the sage has done is to teach men to see, read, write, think, count, and to work; to love ideals, to love mankind and relate his work to human progress.
Man’s first primer was near at hand. When he wished to write, he made a picture with a stick, a stone, on a leaf, or traced his idea in the mud. When he wanted to count, he kept tally on his fingers, or with pebbles from the beach or brook. When he wished to communicate an idea orally, it was with glances, shrugs, gestures, and imitative sounds. Once, in a game of Twenty Questions, this was the question set to guess: Who first used the prehistoric root expressing a verb of action? Who, indeed?
Out of that leaf-writing, and bark-etching, and later rune, have grown the printed writings of mankind. Homer, Dante, Milton, and Shakespeare are the lineal descendants of the man who made holes in a leaf, or lines on a wave-washed sand. Out of the finger-counting have grown up book-keeping, geometry, mathematical astronomy and a knowledge of the higher curves. Out of the prehistoric shrugs and sounds and grimaces we have oral speech—much of it worthless, and not all of it yet wholly intelligible. We are still continually being understood to say what we never meant to say: we are forever putting our private interpretation on the words of other men. Even yet, we are all too stupid. In our dreariest moments does there not come to us sometimes a voice which cries: Up, awake! Cease blinking, and begin to see!
Language is electric. Words have a curious power within themselves. They rain upon the heart with the soft memories of centuries of old associations, or thoughts of love, vigils, and patience. They have a power of suggestion which goes beyond all that we may dream. Just as a man shows in himself traces of a long-dead ancestry, so words have the power to revive emotions of past generations and the experiences of former years. The man of letters, the Thinker, strews a handful of words into the air, breathes a little song. The words spring up and bring forth fruit. Their seed is human progress and a larger life for men. Think, for instance, who first flung the word freedom into space!—gravitation, evolution, atom, soul! There is no power like the power of a word: a word like liberty can dethrone kings.
We get out of a word just what we put into it, plus the individuality of the man who uses it. Some men read into noble words only their own silliness, vulgarity, prejudice, or preconceived ideas. Another man reads with his heart open for new impressions, new insight, new fancies and ideals.
Words have not only their inherent meaning; they have their allied meanings. A word may mean one thing by itself. It may mean quite another thing when another word stands beside it; even marks of punctuation give words a curiously different sound and shade. Literature is a mastery, not only of the moods of men, but of the moods of words. Corot takes a stream, some grass and trees, a flitting patch of sky. By means of a few strokes of his brush, he manages to present that tree, sky, stream, in a way which suggests the pastoral experience of the ages. Where did that misty veil come from? the trembling lights and shadows, the half-heard sounds and silence of the woods, the changing cloud, the dim reflection, the atmosphere of mystery and peace?
So each man goes to the dictionary. He takes a word here, a word there, common words that everybody knows. He puts them together: the result is a presentation of the life of man, and lays hold of his inmost spirit.
“Our birth is but a deep
and a forgetting;
The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar;
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home!”
To write, the soul chooses, and God stands ever by to help. That is why great work always impresses us as inspired. God did it. It is God who whispers the deathless thought and phrase: the subtler collocations are divine.
Take the word star. To the child it means a bright point that glitters and twinkles in the sky, and sets him saying an old nursery rhyme. To the youth or maiden it suggests love, romance, a summer eve, or a frosty walk under the friendly winter sky. To the rhetorician it suggests a figure of speech—the star of hope. To the mariner it suggests guidance and the homeward port. To the astronomer it means the world in which he lives. His life is centred in that star. To the poet it means all these things and many more. For the poet is the one who, in his own heart, holds all the meanings that words hold for the race. Read again the lines just quoted, and think of Wordsworth’s outlook on the star!
The dictionary definition of a word can seldom be the real one, nor does it reveal the deeper sense it has. It blazes a path for the understanding, but individual thought must follow. Take the words time, friendship, work, play, heroism. It took Carlyle to define Time for us. Emerson has defined Friendship. Let the lights and shadows of the thought of Carlyle and Emerson play upon these words, they are at once removed from mechanical definition, and we dimly perceive that each word is larger than the outreach of the thought of man. Another generation than ours shall define and refine them. In heaven, in some other aeon, we shall find out what they really mean!
Thus knowledge is not permanent. It reels. It proceeds, it changes, it is iridescent with new significance from day to day.
What is true of a word, and what we make of it, is true of every phase of learning. The black-board is not all. Learning is not tied to it, or to any one person, demonstration, interpretation, event, or epoch. No wise man can keep his learning to himself, and yet he cannot, though he teach a thousand years, transmit his deeper learning to another. The atmosphere, the casual information, the spiritual magnetism of a great man, will teach better than the text-books, the lecture courses, and the formal resources of academic halls. Thus Mark Hopkins is in himself a university, given a boy on the other end of the log on which he sits.
It is the relativity of knowledge that dances before the eye, that bewilders, eludes, evades. Group-systems and electives seem like a makeshift for the real thing. We cannot tie a fact to a pupil, because to the tail of the fact is tied history itself. Until a pupil gets a glimpse of that relation, that dependence of which we have just heard, with all that has yet happened in connection with it, he is not yet quite master of his fact. He recites glibly the date of Thermopylae, and does not know that all Greece is trailing behind his desk. When, after subsequent research, he knows something of Greece, he discovers Greece to be dovetailed into Rome and Egypt, and they lay hold upon the plain of Shinar and Eden, and the immemorial, prehistoric years.
Ah, no! We never really know. Every fact recedes from us, as might an ebbing wave, and leaves us stranded upon an unhorizoned beach, more despairing than before. Education does not solve the problems of life—it deepens the mystery. What, then, may the sage know? Are there no sages? And have we all been misinformed?
A sage is one who knows what, in his position of life, is most necessary for him to know. The larger sage, the great Sage, is the one who knows what is necessary for the race to know.
It is a wrong idea of wisdom, that we must necessarily know what some one else knows. Wisdom is single-track for each man. There are in the world those who know how to build aqueducts, and to bake charlotte russe, and to sew trousers. Aqueducts and tailor work may be alike out of my individual and personal knowledge, yet I may not necessarily be an ignorant man. The primitive hunter stood in the forest. For him to be a hunting-sage, was to know the weather, traps, weapons, the times, and the lairs and ways of beasts. He knew lions and monkeys, the coiled serpent and the serpent that hissed by the ruined wall; the ways of the wolf, the jackal, and the kite; the manners of the bear and the black panther in the jungle-wilds. Kipling is the brother of that early man: he is a forest-sage, and would have held his own in other times.
The sea-sage was the one who could toss upon the swan-road without fear. He knew the strength of oak and ash; the swing of oar, the curve of prow, the dash of wave, and the curling breaker’s sweep. He knew the maelstroms and the aegir that swept into northern fiords; the thunder and wind and tempest; the coves, safe harbors and retreats. To-day, the sea-sage rules the fishing-boat, the ocean liner, the coastwise steamers, and the lake-lines of the world.
The fishing-sage knows the ways and haunts of fish. He is wise in the salmon, the perch, the trout, the tarpon, and the muscalonge. He says. To-day the bass will bite on dobsons, but to-morrow we must have frogs.
No sagacity is universal, but the love of sagacity may be. The man who starts out to implant a new way of education has a noble task before him, but is it a final one, or even a more than tolerably practical one? Is there such a thing as a place for Truth at wholesale, even in an academy or college? Can a man receive an education outside of himself? He may be played upon by grammars and by loci-paper, by electrical machines, and parsing tables and Grecian accents, by the names of noted authors and statesmen, and the thrill of historic battles and decisions. He may be placed under a rain of ethical and philosophic ideas, and may be forced to put on a System of Thought, as men put on a mackintosh. But his true education is what he makes of these things. If he hears of Theodoric with a yawn, we say—the college-folk—He must be imbecile. No, not imbecile! he may become a successful toreador, or snake-charmer, which things are out of our line! And a man may be an upright citizen, a good husband, and a sincerely religious man, who has never heard of Francesca, nor Fra Angelico, nor named the name of Botticelli!
The moment we set bounds to wisdom, we find that we have shut something out. Wisdom is the free, active life of a growing and attaching soul. We must not only attach information to ourselves, we must assimilate it. Else we are like a crab which should drag about Descartes, or as an ocean sucker which should hug a copy of Thucydides.
Education is the taking to one’s self, so far as one may in a lifetime, all that the race has learned through these six thousand years. Education is not a thing of books alone, or schools; it is a process of intellectual assimilation of what is about us, or what we put about ourselves. At every step we have a choice. This is the real difference between students at the same school or university. One puts away Greek, and the other lays up football and college societies. A third gets all three, being a little more swift and alert. One stows away insubordination—another, order and obedience. One does quiet, original work of reading and research; the other stows away schemes for getting through recitations and examinations. No two students ever come out of the same school, college, or shop with the same education. Their training may have been measurably alike, but the result is immeasurably unlike. Education, in the last analysis, is getting the highest intellectual value out of one’s environment and opportunities. There is a cow-boy philosopher, a kitchen-philosopher, as truly as there is a philosopher of the academic halls.
Conduct is the pons asinorum of life. Wise men somehow cross it, though stumblingly, and with tears. Fools, usurers, oppressors, and spendthrifts of life are left gaping and wrangling on the hellward side. Thinkers have always been climbing up on each other’s shoulders to look over into the Beyond. What they have seen, they have told. Some men climb so high into the ethereal places of the Ideal, that they do not get down again. They are the impractical men. An impractical man is not necessarily the educated man; he is the man at the top of some intellectual fence, who wishes to come down, but has absent-mindedly forgotten that he has legs. The legs are not absent, but his wit is. So with the impractical man in every sphere. Education has not really removed his common-sense, as some say, his power to connect passing events with their causes, and to act reasonably; but it has set his thought on some other thought for the time being, and the dinner-bell, we will say, does not detach him from his inquiry. His necktie rides up! He goes out into the street without a hat! Let him alone till he proves the worth of what he is about. The practical man, who hears the dinner-bell and prides himself upon this fact, may not hear sounds far-off and clear, that ring in the impractical man’s ear, and that may sometime tell him how to make a better dinner-bell, or provide a better dinner—a great social philosophy—for the race!
The really impractical man is not he who reaches out to the intellectual and ideal aspects of life; it is he who lives as if this life were all. There are women who make pets of their clothes, as men make pets of horse or dog. They have just time enough in life to dress themselves up. Looking back over their years, they can only say, I have had clothes! In the same number of years, with no greater advantages or opportunities, other women have become the queenly women of the race. Some women are girt with centuries, instead of gold or gems. Whenever they appear, the event becomes historic; what they do adds new lustre to life.
We are all prodigals. We throw away time and strength, and years, and gold, and then weep that we are ignorant, and embeggared at the last. Who shall teach us wisdom, and in what manner may we be wise?
What say the sages of the vast possibilities of the race? With one voice they say: Be brave! Do not cower, shrink, or whine. Throw out upon the world a free fearlessness of thought and word and deed. Courage, freedom, heroism, faith, exactness, honor, justice, and mercy—these traits have been handed down as the traditional learning of the heart of man.
Another ideal of the race is Law. We have given up a chaos-philosophy—the haphazard continuity of events—a cometary orbit, for the world. There are fixed relations everywhere existent: the succession of cycles is orderly and prearranged.
Another ideal is Progress. We are moving, not toward the bottom, but toward the top of possibility. We reject annihilation, because then there is nothing left. And there must always be something left—progress—a bigger something, a better something. Should annihilation be the truth of things, and all the race mortal, then some day there would be a Last Man. And after the Last Man, what? He would die, and then all that any of the other stars could view of the vast panorama of our earthly generations would be an unburied corpse, with not even a vulture hovering to pick it to freshness in the air!
A Last Man? No. Instead, the seers have shown us a great multitude in a heavenly country, praising God, and singing forth His Name forever. Immortality broods over the great thought of the race. All great minds look upward to it: it is the final consummation of our dreams.
Another ideal is social adjustment, and social service. We must do something for some one, or we cast current sagacity behind the back. People crowd each other to the wall. The weak of communities and nations are too often crushed. Redress is in the air. The longed-for wisdom of to-day shows a kaleidoscopic front, in which are turning the slum-dweller and the millionaire; the white man, the yellow, and the black; the town and the territorial possession. The slave-colony, garbage-laws, magistrates, and murderers are mixed in motley, and there are whirling vacant-lot schemes abroad, potato-patches, wood-yards, organized charity, Wayfarers’ Lodges, resounding cries of municipal reform, and various other interests of the wisdom-scale.
Hence, wisdom has not yet been arrived at: we are still on the run. This twentieth century will find new problems, new queries, new cranks, and new dismays!
One thing, however, shines out clear: Wisdom is being recognized as having a moral aspect, and men are looking for a Religion which shall sum up the learning of the sages, the information of the race.
When we look down into the physical universe, the primary thing that we find there is gravitation. When we look into the moral universe, the primary thing that we find there is also gravitation—a sinking to a Lower. This is sin—a contrariness of things—which makes the world an evil place to live in, instead of a good; which wrecks character and states, eats the hearts out of cultures and civilizations, destroys strong races, leaves a stain upon even the youngest child, and which is constantly drawing the race downward, instead of upward.
Sin, sin, sin! Everywhere the fact glares upon us, and cannot be hid, or put away. Sin is not an intellectual toy, for philosophers to play with or define as “a limitation of being.” Sin is a reality, for men to feel, recoil from, and of which one must repent.
Sin is energy deliberately misplaced: energy directed against the course of things, the infinite development, the will of God. Sin is corruption, and desolation, and decay. Death broods over the spirit of man, unless a Redeemer come. The unredeemed ages hang over history like a pall. In them there are monumental oppression, cruelties, and crimes. The breath of myriad millions went out in darkness, and there was none to save. A plague swept over all the race.
Hence, even scientifically considered, the final aim of thinking must be, to arrive at some thought which will take hold of this primary fact of sin and uproot it; which will show how the world may be purged of sin.
Slowly but inevitably we are moving to this great Thought. It is summed up in one word: Redemption. The watchword of a century ago was gravitation. It explained the poise of the universe by a great and hitherto undiscovered law. The watchword of yesterday was evolution. It explains progressive change: the mounting-up of life “through spires of form.” The forms of the universe are seen in a series which is in the main ascendant, and in which the survivor is supreme. The watchword of to-morrow is Redemption. The Thinker will some day live, who will make that great word Redemption stand out in all its vast majesty and significance. This, I take it, is the work of our new century.
Redemption is the explanation of the existence of man, of his present progress, and his future destiny. It is the great mystery of joy in which the race partakes; the spiritual culmination of all things earthly; the forecast of eternal things yet to be.
Redemption is not a dogma; it is a life. Redemption is a perpetual and ascendant moral growth. It marks a world-balm, a world-change. It is in the spirit of man that it works, and not in his outer condition, or external strivings. It is ultimately to root sin out of the world.
Through stormy sorrows and perpetual desolations comes the race to God. Zion is the Whole of things—the encompassment of space, and time, and endless years,—an environment of immortality and peace.
Virtue leads the race to Joy, and there is no byway to this height. The final aspect of the universe is joy. Joy is elemental—a vast vibration that sweeps through centuries as years! A day in His courts is as a thousand, and a thousand years are as one day, because they thrill with an immortal and imperishable emotion. The seraphim and cherubim, Sandalphon and Azrael, are angels of enduring joy. Joy is the soul’s share of the life of God.
Thus when the world has breathed to us the holy name of Christ, it has told us the highest that it knows. The March of Sages is toward a Redeemer! The banner of Wisdom is furled about the Cross!
Lo, my soul, look
And mark the busy stir:
Wouldst thou say, in pride and scorn,
Our God is not in her!
Nay, the bonds, the wares, the coin,—
These, in truth, are passing things;
Other treasures thrill the life
Of earth’s great merchant kings!
We, they say, would
wake the power
In mountain and in mine;
And transport, from sea to sea,
The cedar, oak, and pine:
Build the bridge, and plant the town,
Enter every open mart;
Make our nation’s commerce flow,—
But this is not our heart!
Many a prayer uplifted
O’er desk, and din, and roar;
Many an humble knee is bent
When the rushed day is o’er;
Far within, where God may be,
All exists His Throne to raise;
Every triumph of our power
Becomes a form of Praise!
God of nations, hear
And keep us just and true;
Lay Thy hand on all our lives,
And bless the work we do:
Then from every coast and clime
Land and sea shall tribute bring;
Gold and traffic, world-domain
We offer to our King!_
ANNA ROBERTSON BROWN LINDSAY
We are all traders. Each of us is endowed with some faculty, ware, or possession which he is constantly exchanging for other things. We trade time, talent, service, goods, acres, produce, counsel, experience, ideals. The world is in reality a Bourse of Exchange. Each of us brings some day his special product to the common mart.
There are traders and traders—the just and the unjust—the man of honor and the rogue. We set values on thoughts and on transactions, on merchandise and on philanthropies, on ideas and on accounts; and there is a constant distribution of the affairs, as well as of the worldly goods of men.
But in a restricted sense, we think of trade as the exchange of produce which is material and mobile,—which may be touched, handled, weighed, transported, bought, and sold. The substance of the earth is constantly taking new shape before our eyes, being rearranged in kaleidoscopic combinations, and transported from port to port, from town to town, from sea to sea. One can look nowhere without seeing this ceaseless activity progressing. Everywhere there is a whir of wheels, a plash of waves, a din of assembly, as the new combinations take place.
There was a day when trade was a thing of here-and-there; a thing of sailing ships and caravans, of merchants of Bagdad, Cairo, Venice, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Tyre, and Damascus. Ivory, gold, gems, precious stuffs, teak and cedar wood, Lebanon pine, apes, peacocks, sandal-wood, camel’s hair, goat’s hair, frankincense, pearl, dyes, myrrh, cassia, cinnamon, Balm of Gilead, calamus, spikenard, corn, ebony, figs, fir, olives, olive-wood, wheat, amber, copper, lead, tin, and precious stones were the chief articles of exchange. A very little sufficed the poor; the rich were housed in palaces and panoplied in gems.
As time went on, the processional of traders became a processional led out, in turn, by the merchants of one city after another. It is a picturesque study, that of the trade-routes of the Middle Ages! There was the Mediterranean seaboard, and there were the Baltic towns and the Hanse towns; the Portuguese mariners and traders; the Venetian merchant princes. There was the Spanish colonial trade; the Dutch trade of the East Indies; the trade of Amsterdam and London. There were the Elizabethan sea-rovers. Then came the British trade in the East Indies, and the gradual growth of the trade of France, Germany, England, and the United States. This is a story of human wants reaching out as civilization advanced, and of the extending of the earth-exchange. Everywhere there has been a correspondence between national prosperity and increasing trade.
To-day, each man demands more of the earth’s products than ever before. He reaches out a hand for comforts and luxuries, as well as for necessities. He grasps not only the produces of his own and his neighbor’s field and vineyard, but demands what lies across continents and seas. Instead of the ship, the camel, and the ass, we now have the ocean freighter or liner, and the flying train of cars: new forces, oil, steam, electricity, and water-power, do the carrying work of man. And hence trade has become Trade, and each trader is involved in the comfort, success, and prosperity of many others. A single commercial transaction to-day involves the lives of hundreds of thousands, competes for their toil and life-blood, carries the decision of their destiny.
A great merchant is the real Kris Kringle. He stands at the centre of exchange, distributes from the tropics and the arctic zones. He deals out fur and feathers, books, toys, clothing, engines; ribbons, laces, silks, perfumes; bread-stuffs, sugar, cotton, iron, ice, steel; wheat, flour, beef, stone; lumber, drugs, coal, leather. He scatters periodically the products of mills and looms, of shoe-shops and print-works, fields, factories, mines, and of art-workers. He thus becomes a social force of great power, a social law-giver, in fact. Under his iron rule, the lives of the masses are uplifted or cast down.
As large eras open, the ethical ideals become higher. We are beginning to inquire, as never before, into the basis of trade, the place of the trader, the right conduct of this vast problem of Distribution upon which hinges so much of human life and fate. All things look, not only to the integration of trade, but to its exaltation.
Trade has ceased to be a thing of individual energy, talent, and commercial alertness. It has risen to great proportions. The large trader is in control of national conduit, as well as of national expense. There is a great deal more in business than the art of making money. Business is, at the roots, a way of making nations; of developing the resources of a country, of handling its industries, of protecting its commerce, of enlarging its institutions, of uplifting its training, aspirations, and ideals. Traffic is educational. Imports influence the national life. We may import opium or Bibles, whiskey or bread-stuffs, locomotives or dancing pigs.
The sceptre held by Tyre and Venice is passing into our own hands. But trade, to-day, is a matter of the imagination, as well as of the stock-book. 11 needs a great imagination to handle the present-day problems of business and finance. The prosperity of a nation depends largely on the intelligence, integrity, and magnanimity of its business men. To be narrow-minded in business, is not only intellectual astigmatism, it is poor commercial policy. To make use of present opportunities to control present advantages needs a great education and a large human experience. It is the man of insight, of sympathy, of economic ideals, who will lastingly control our national prosperity and advance our industrial wealth.
With all this demand, the business man still stands largely in a class by himself, a class apart from the great leaders of the world. He is not yet received into the spiritual circles of the race. He goes about the world, sits on boards and committees, fills directorships and trusteeships, pays pew-rent, and runs towns. But when the spiritual conclaves of the world take place, when the things of life and death are inquired into, when words are said of the higher conduct of the life of man, if he draw near inquiringly or unguardedly to the sacred place, scholar and poet, priest, saint, and proud hand-worker alike rise up and say, Go away.
It wears upon the heart—this spiritual isolation of the business man. Does not he often say sadly to himself, They only want my money?
Why must he go away? What has he done, that he must be waved down? If we discover why he must go away, we shall discover the meaning of that great caste-line which has long been drawn, and ought no longer to be drawn, between trade and letters, trade and the Church, trade and social prestige.
The reason he must go away is this: He has never ruled the higher history of man; he does not yet quite belong to the ideal-makers of the race. Understand, I am not now speaking of the new business man, the exceptional one, upright, cultured, altruistic, whom you and I may know; I am speaking of a broad class-line, a class distinction.
It is a strange concept that would bar the business man from the ideal; that would limit his life to an account-book, a ledger, a roll of stocks, rents, and possessions, instead of granting him the freedom of the universe, the privilege of ministering to the race. Singularly enough, the business class is the last class that Christianity has set free. Slaves have been given liberty; women, social companionship and intellectual equality; manual labor has been lifted to dignity and honor. But to break the shackles of the man of trade is the work of our era, or of an era yet to come. Thousands of young men are daily stepping into counting-houses, or behind sales-counters, or into independent stores, who will never lift their eyes from their goods and account-books, nor rise above the linen, hardware, groceries, or house-fixtures which they sell. Such a situation is suicidal of national prosperity, and blocks the high hopes of the world.
Lack of appreciation of the life of business is sinful and unjust. A high-principled businessman may be one of the noblest leaders of mankind. The world needs great business men—men who will know how to use the resources of a country, how to plan for its industry, manufactures, and commerce: men who understand the principles of production and exchange; ways of transportation; systems of credit and banking: men who know the constitution of the country, and the history of its development; its strength and weakness, its possibilities and needs: men who will deal honorably in business contracts, both with buyers and employees, and also with law-making bodies: men who will steadily try to advance international prosperity, as well as personal wealth.
But to understand business on this plane, and to conduct it in this large way, needs a fine education, an education built, first of all, on a practical basis, such as the education of our common schools. Then should follow a course in the ideals of the race, the classic studies in language, literature, history, science, and philosophy. Then should come a technical course, graduate or undergraduate, such as the courses offered by the Universities of Pennsylvania, Chicago, Wisconsin, which include, in general, lectures and special studies in Public Law and Politics, Business Law and Practice, Political Economy, Statistics, Banking, Finance, and Sociology. In addition to this, there should be a thorough knowledge of the Bible and of Christian Ethics, with a deep heart-experience of religion.
Endowed with natural business talent, the young man who goes out into the world with such preparation as this knows a great deal more than just how to make money; he knows how to make it honorably and how to spend it, in his business, family, and social life, for the public good; he has in him the making of a statesman and a philanthropist, as well as a man of wealth.
Two things take one into the inner circle of the ideal-makers of the race—imagination and sympathy. Ideals cannot be bought with gold. The ideal is always founded on integrity, progress, and common-sense. It is preeminently practical, as well: the thing that inevitably must be, now or hereafter, however men laugh it to scorn to-day.
Imagination is the faculty of perceiving the higher and final relations of life, the relation of one’s work to the progress of the world, and of one’s conduct: to spiritual history. What the ideal-maker tries to do is to set holy standards that shall not pass away: to do abiding work, in thought, deed, word; work philosophically planned, and perseveringly carried out; work which he shall do regardless of the outer circumstances of his life—poverty or wealth, of threats, misunderstanding, or hoots of scorn. He is unmoved, both by the rage of the populace and by its most tumultuous applause. He lives for truth, not for personal advance; for progress, not for wealth or honor. What he lays down as a precept, that he tries to live up to, in the way that shall win the approval of the eternal years.
Sordidness in commercial life is not necessary: greed is not foreordained. Christianity establishes a new system of trading-philosophy, and a new basis of commercial ethics. There is a god-like way of trade—Christ might Himself have bought and sold—else Christianity fails of its full mission, and there remains a class of the socially lost, of the ethically unsaved. One reason why it is so hard to get business men into the Church, or to interest them religiously in any way, is that ministers, in general, do not understand or appreciate business men. In one of the most stirring sermons I ever heard, occurred this unjust sentence: “Our country has been built up by the martyr, and not by the millionaire.” No! Our country has been built up by both the martyr and the millionaire!
Christianity projects into the world new ideals of Trade, of Gain, of Competition, Value, and Return for Toil.
What is Trade? Is it merely a way of making money? Then there is no ethical basis for it. “The amount of money which is needed for a good life,” says Aristotle, “is not unlimited.”
One concept is: Trade is something which belongs to me. It is that part of the world’s exchange which I can get under my personal control. It is the balance between human industries and human needs which I hold for my part of the world, and which others are continually trying to wrest from me, and which I must keep by all means, fair or foul. Competition is the battle of the strongest, the quickest, the meanest! I must know tricks. I must get in with people, get hold of some sort of pull, learn to dissemble, to flatter, manipulate, hedge, dodge. Success is a matter of being sly. Anything is allowable which comes out ahead, which adds to the dollar-pile, or which makes the loudest advertising noise!
To buy at the least, and sell at the most, regardless of the conditions under which least and most are attained—the man who enters life with this idea of trade in his mind might just as well be born a shark and live to prey. Every free dollar in the world will tease and fret him, until he sees it on its way to his own pocket. If this is all there is in trade, the noble-minded will let it alone: it gives no human outlook. It not only undermines personal character, it is the root of national ignominy and dishonor.
What has Christianity to do with this shark-instinct? with the rapacity which looks on the world as a vast grabbing-ground, and upon all natural resources as mere commercial prey? The value of Christianity lies in its reasonable and intellectual appeal. It does not spring upon one like a highwayman and say, Hands up! Give me your purse! It says gently, Son, give me thy heart. It then proceeds to refashion that heart, to fill it with new principles and with world-dreams.
Trade is a just exchange of what one man has for what another man needs. It may take place individually between man and man, in which transaction a horse, an ox, or a tool may change hands. Or one man may assume a responsibility for a number of people, and say: I will give this whole town shoes, in return for which you may give me a house, market-produce, clothing, and an education for my children. The thing will come out even, if you and I are honest. Or a climate, a civilization, may give to another that which the other lacks. We send school-books and machinery to China; she sends us tea, matting, and bamboo. The whole right theory of trade is a give-and-take between men and nations, based on a just price, and with a deep law of Value, not yet wholly formulated, underlying each transaction.
Bargains should not be one-sided. Trade, in a large sense, is a way of exchange in which each party to the trade receives an advantage. Not only this, it is a process of distribution, by which each one receives the greatest possible advantage. Money-making is a secondary result: in true trade it is not the final benefit.
Take the case of a specially helpful and paying book. The author receives a royalty, and has an income. The publisher receives his profits, and makes a living. The public gains inspiration and ideals. Who is loser? This is sheer business, yet it means loving service for all concerned.
To illustrate further: A physician has a frail child, with which the ordinary milk in the market does not agree. To build up its health, he buys a country place and a good cow. The child thrives. In his practice, he sees many other frail children, and it occurs to him that they, too, can be benefited by the same kind of care and watchfulness that he is giving his own child. He buys more cows, has them scientifically cared for, and his agents sell the milk. He finds himself, in the course of time, the owner of a dairy farm, and a man of increasing income. But his trade is not trade for the sake of money! it is trade to make sick children strong and well. He exchanges professional knowledge, executive ability, and human sympathy, for money; in return for which, children receive health, parents joy, and the race a more athletic set of men and women. This is an instance of the inner spirit of the true trade: the spirit which may rule all trade, deny it, or discount it, or scorn it, as you will.
Price is a value set on material, on labor, on interest, on scarcity, on excellence, on commercial risks; it is the approximate measure of the cost of production. The ethical price of a commodity is the price which would enable its producer to produce it under healthful and happy conditions—which would insure his having what Dr. Patten calls his “economic rights.”
This joyous exertion is not harmful; it is tonic. Excellence is an inspiration, an intoxication. Let excellence, not Will-it-pass? be the standard of exchange. From the very endeavor after excellence comes a certain exaltation of spirit, which ennobles the least fragment of daily toil. When the producer brings forth somewhat for sale, let him say: There! That is the best that I can do! It is not what I tried to make of it—the thing of my dreams—but it is the very best which, under the given conditions, I could produce. Then the shoddy side of trade will disappear.
The Law of Equity is the final law of trade. But in whose hands is equity? Who appraises value? Who sets price? In whose hand is the final price of the necessaries of life—wheat, rice, sugar, soap, cotton, wool, coal, milk, iron, lumber, ice? The man who puts a price on an article, as buyer or seller, enters an arena which is not only commercial—it is judicial and ethical: he declares for what amount a man’s life-blood shall be used.
No one absolutely sets price. It is determined by far-reaching industrial conditions, and by economic law. War, weather, famine, stocks, strikes, elections, all have a say. Yet, to a certain degree, there are those who rule price. As a representative of the ideal, as executors of social trust, how shall each one use his Power of Price? The man who has control of a price—a price for a day’s labor, for wages, for a cargo, or for any kind of product—has control of the living conditions of the one who works for him. The question is not: How shall I grind down price to the lowest? It is: What price will be an ethical return to this man for his social toil?—just to me for my brains, my capital, my energy, my distributing power,—just to him for his brains, his time, his skill, his artistic perceptions, his fidelity and honor? Each buyer must henceforth not only resolve: I will buy only what I can pay for, but, what I can pay for at a just rate. So far as lies in my power, I will make an adequate return to society for this personal benefit.
Some one says: Do you realize that you are making a moral laughing-stock of much of our system of trade? that you are setting an axe to that system, more cutting than the axe of any Socialist, Nihilist, or Anarchist in the world? Oh, no. I have simply set myself to answer the question: How can the business man stand among the ideal-makers of the world, so that he shall no more, in spiritual assemblies, be told to go away?
Woman is the real economic distributer. The millionaire manufacturer imagines that he himself runs his business. Oh, no. It is run by farmers’ wives. When they do not care for yarn or calico, his looms stand idle for a year; the vast machinery of the world turns on woman’s little word: I want. Hence the education of women should include this factor: the desire to want the right things. Extravagance is not a part of woman’s make-up; it is extraneous.
Gain is that which permanently enriches the life. By every act of charity, or justice, or insight, or right barter, the soul is made more grand. True trade everywhere may be made a new method of inspiration, growth, and power.
Money is a makeshift of the race. God is the only real appraiser, and we never get back a money-value for our soul’s toil. Whether we pass wampum, or nickels, or taels, or bank-checks, we are not yet paid for our trade.
The higher value of money is its spiritual capacity. Not what it will bring me is primarily important, but what I can buy with it for the race. Sometimes the question comes over me: What am I trading for money? My time? My energy? My ideals? Part of my soul is passing from me: do dollars ever repay? Hence it comes about that all money transactions are fragmentary and symbolic.
Money may lead to poverty, or to spiritual wealth. The gift of trade is a gift of God, as much as the gift of prophecy or song. In a right way, we should all love gain. We are not born to go out of the world as poor as when we came into it. We should gain stature, wisdom, strength, influence, ideals. If our latent business capacity were more fully aroused, we should get much more out of life. We would refuse to barter a spiritual heritage for carnal things.
We trade thoughts and feelings. But it is very hard to trade fine impulses with those who are intrinsically vulgar. Their treasury is empty of spiritual coin, and their storehouse contains no world-thoughts. We can send a caravan across the desert, a ship across the sea, but we cannot send a Thought into a flaccid or a pompous brain.
We trade position and influence. The evil of the spoils system is not that one gets something for something,—it is that one gets something for something less, or for nothing. Whatever we have to give may be rightly given; the wrong comes when we give it to the idle or unworthy. When we trade political preferment for high merit, both the office-holders and the country are gainers by the exchange.
Marriage is the great mart of exchange. Here the possessions of one sex are set up against those of the other. Everywhere marriage is spoken of as a good or a bad “bargain.” Each man shall say: “Sweetheart, in Myself I offer you the treasures of manhood. I give strength, courage, magnanimity, action, protection, and the indomitable will.” Each wife should say: “Dear, in me are all gentleness, courtesy, beauty, grace, patience, mercy, and hope. I, too, am brave, but my courage is of the heart. I, too, am strong-willed, but my will is deep-set in love.” As years go on, there comes a time when Love says: “Between us now there is neither mine nor thine. The universe is ours together!”
Human love is not all. There is yet a higher impulse. The most business-like question that ever touches the heart of man is this: For what shall I trade my soul? We hold our souls high: we perceive that eternity itself is not too much to ask. And hence the highest barter is that of the earthly for the spiritual; of the temporal for the unseen and eternal. We say, Give me God, give me heaven, give me divine and sacrificial Love, and I will give my heart. And thus the last transaction is between God and the soul. Godliness is great Gain, and to exchange earth for heaven is a satisfying and unregretted Trade.
Jesus, Thou hast bought us
Not with gold or gem,
But with Thine own life-blood,
For Thy diadem.
With Thy blessing filling
Each who comes to Thee,
Thou hast made us willing,
Thou hast made us free.
By Thy grand redemption,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side;
Saviour, we are Thine!
Not for weight of glory,
Not for crown or palm,
Enter we the army,
Raise the warrior psalm;
But for love that claimeth
Lives for whom He died,
He whom Jesus nameth
Must be on His side.
By Thy love constraining,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side;
Saviour, we are Thine!
FRANCES RIDLEY HAVERGAL
What is work? Work is energy applied to the creation of either material or immaterial products. The digging of the soil preparatory to raising a corn-crop is work; the making of brooms; the writing of fugues. There is no one who does not work, at one time or another, and a man’s social value depends largely upon the amount of work that he can do.
Even the energy which is seemingly applied to destructive tasks is really subsidiary to a constructive ideal. Thus the hewing of timber is a destructive task, but its object is not to scatter trees around, but to make a clearing on which to plant wheat; or to have lumber, in order to build a house. So, also, we blast rock, in order to get stones for a stone wall, or for the filling of a road-bed. And we rip up old clothes in order to have rags, and to make room in our homes for other things. Destructiveness from a sheer love of destructiveness is not work—it is vandalism. The true Man works. When Adam’s crook-stick turned over the brown earth to make it fertile, he began the industry of the world. The whole horizon of man’s endeavor is spanned by one word, Work. It has built cities, bridged rivers, united continents, and sent the myriad spindles of trade whirring under a thousand changing skies.
Work is the open-sesame of success. It is curious to see how uneasily some men will roam from one end of the earth to the other, trying to find an easy place, a place where work will not be needed or required. There is no such place. The higher the honor, the harder the work. The power to work is ordinarily the measure of a man’s possibilities of success. Long hours, hard toil, lack of recognition and appreciation, drudgery, a thousand attempts to one successful issue,—these are the ways in which the colossal achievements of mankind have been built up. Work, as has well been said, is an ascending stairway. On its broad base are ranged all the multitudes of the earth. Those who can climb mount the higher and ever-narrowing stair.
The great man can begin anywhere, or with any task. He says, If I am going into the giant-business, I may as well begin now! Born and bred in the forest, he lays hand to his axe, and looking up at some tall oak, cries out, I will begin here! With the first stroke of the axe, success is not less sure than in his last endeavor. Success of the right kind is a scientific achievement.
The line has not yet been drawn, and I doubt whether it ever can be drawn, between productive and non-productive labor. There is a cleavage of tasks, however, which may be approximately expressed, as work that is done for support, for daily bread, and work which is done because certain faculties of mind and heart and soul demand expression, development, and scope. We all have powers which are willing to be set in action primarily for self-preservation—for personal, material, and transitory ends. We are also endowed with faculties which react, primarily, in behalf of universal aims, though that may not debar them from also bringing an advantage to ourselves. In proportion as we are talented, magnanimous, and high-minded, we delight in spending a part of our lives in working for the race.
Thus Thoreau, when he, “by surveying, carpentry and day-labor of various other kinds,” had earned $13.34, was doing income-work, the work by which he had to live. For the same purpose, he worked at raising potatoes, green corn, and peas. When he wrote Walden, he did a kind of work which also in time brought him an income. But he did not write Walden for food or money; he wrote it primarily because he liked to write, and for the benefit of mankind.
In order to be contented and happy, each normal adult human being must have at least the chance of doing these two kinds of work. Unless he or she can do income-work, he or she is not economically independent; unless he can do universal work, he is not socially and spiritually free.
Much of the present-day discontent is owing to the fact that these two kinds of work are not represented, as they should be, in every working-life.
The problem in regard to the working-man is not how to pet him, nor to patronize him, but how to educate him and inspire him! He is not a parasite to be fed by the capitalist, nor is the capitalist a parasite upon the working-power of the working-man. Both are men. The problem is, How shall the capitalist lead the noblest, most public-spirited, and helpful life in relation to those in his employ? How shall the working-man lay hold on the best that life can give? How shall he find a work which he is competent to do, and likes to do, and may be supported by doing—and at the same time have a chance to grow; to enter into the large, free culture-life of the world?
The complaint of the working-man, when really analyzed, runs down to this: I do income-work, but it does not bring me bread enough to live. Not only that, but ground down as I am by toil, all possibility of the larger, universal work is shut away from me. My faculties are atrophied—paralyzed—and hence my soul smoulders with deep and angry discontent. This ceaseless and sordid anxiety for bread cuts me out of my world-life, my world-toil. I cannot do scientific research-work, or write the books and papers that I ought. My universal labor is interrupted: I cannot be happy until I can take up this larger work again.
As the trade of civilization advances, the meaning of bread changes. The university professor, no less than the day-laborer, finds his income too small for him, and says, “I, too, do income-work which does not bring me bread, books, travel, society, a summer home, and surroundings which are not only decent and sanitary, but refined and beautiful.”
Is it not also the source of the discontent to-day, among almost all classes of women, except the most highly educated and efficient? Women say—our modern daughters, wives, and mothers: “In the home, we do income-work for which we do not receive income. When strangers do this work, they are paid, and we are not.” In addition, many a woman is so bound down by daily tasks, that her whole soul cries out, and we hear of the high rate of insanity among farmers’ wives, of nervous prostration of the housewives in our towns, and become accustomed to such expressions as “the death of a woman on a Kansas farm.”
This discontent takes many restless forms. It leads daughters, who ought to be at home, out into morally dangerous but income-earning work; it takes wives out into all manner of clubs, without regard to the fact: as to whether the particular club, in its atmosphere and influence, is good or bad; it brings discouragement, disorder, and unrest into the home, dissatisfaction with house-duties and home-tasks, and is sapping our life where it should be best and strongest—in the home—taking out of it youth, spirit, enthusiasm, inspiration, and content.
The three questions asked in regard to each worker are: 1. What work can he do? 2. Of what quality? 3. In what time? The difference between industry and idleness is that work is one thing which no one may honorably escape. Since it must be done, the problem of life is not how to escape work, but how to find the right work, and how best to do it, and most swiftly, when the choice is made.
“Forth they come from grief and torment;
on they wend
toward health and mirth,
All the wide world is their dwelling, every corner of the
Buy them, sell them for thy service! Try the bargain what
For the days are marching on.
“These are they who build thy houses, weave
win thy wheat,
Smooth the rugged, fill the barren, turn the bitter into
All for thee this day—and ever. What reward for them
Till the host comes marching on._”
The trade of toil for money has led to many problems and discussions. To-day the trenchant question: “What More than Wages?” is a matter of eager talk. Is this a living-wage?—Just enough warmth, not to freeze. Just enough clothing to be decent. Just enough food to go through the day without actual hunger. Just enough shelter to keep out the wind and rain and snow. Just enough education to learn to read and write and count.
No. As the theory of bodily freedom demands for each man life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so the highest theory of to-day lays down demands of economic freedom beyond the mere fad of possible existence. Dr. Patten has formulated certain “economic rights” of man. Each employer must say: Before I settle back with a serene belief that I have given my men a living-wage, let me ask: Have they sun? air? sanitary surroundings and conditions? medical care? leisure? education? a chance to grow? Have they enough money for ordinary occasions, and a little to give away? No man or woman has a living-wage, who has no money to give away.
Education and comfort add to the value of the employed. The cook who has a rocking-chair, a cook-book, and a housekeeping magazine in her kitchen will do more work, and better work, other things being equal, than the cook who has none. The workman who lives in a clean, sunny, well-aired place, where he can found a home, and bring up healthy children, will do more work, and better work, than the workman who lives in a damp, dark, ill-ventilated tenement, and who goes to his day’s work with a heart sullen and broken because of avoidable illness and sorrow in his poor little home. Five thousand employees who have a night-school, luncheon-rooms, little houses and gardens, a savings-bank, and a library of books and pictures are worth more than those who are given no such advantages of happiness, growth, and content. The Railroad Young Men’s Christian Associations are said to be a good economic investment, as well as an uplifting moral influence.
This appears to be a fundamental economic law: Every physical, mental, or spiritual advantage offered to an honest working man or woman increases his economic efficiency. Therefore even the selfish policy of shrewd corporations to-day is to screw up, and not down; while the more philanthropic are beginning to see, in their social power, a luminous opportunity to do a god-like service.
But the capitalist, however just or generous, cannot do for a man what he cannot or will not do for himself. Too many workers imagine that a living-wage is to be given to each man, no matter how he behaves or works. This is a false assumption. Underlying all human effort, there runs a final law, that of Compensation: What I earn, I shall some day have. This is a very different proposition from this: What I do not earn, I want to have! For every stroke of human toil, the universe assigns a right reward—a reward, not of money only, but of peace of heart, joy, and the possibilities of helpfulness. But when the work done has not been done faithfully, or well, or honestly, or in the right spirit, the reward is lessened to that exact degree. To the end of time, the idle and the lazy must, if they are dependent on their own exertions, be ill housed and fed. If a man wastes, or his wife does, he must not complain that his income will not support him. If he lets opportunities of sustenance and advancement go by, the capitalist is not to be held to account.
There are two chief kinds of economic difficulties. One is the problem of the capitalist: How much ought I to pay? The second is that of the working-man: How much service must I render? How much ought I to be paid? Of the second kind, nearly every phase of it begins right here, that men and women demand for labor something which they have not earned. They do careless, indifferent, shiftless, reckless work, and then demand a living-wage. The capitalist is not inclined to raise his scale of prices, knowing that he has built up his business by prudence, sagacity, and tireless application—the very qualities which his dissatisfied employees lack.
We need not pay—we ought not to pay—for incompetence, for impertinence, for disobedience of orders, for laziness, for shirking, for cheating, or for theft. To do so is a social wrong. It is the wrong that lies back, not only of sinecures and spoils, but of employing incompetent and wasteful cooks and dressmakers.
What we make of our lives through wages depends upon ourselves. For instance, a man gives each of five boys twenty-five cents for sweeping snow off his sidewalks. One boy tosses pennies, and loses his quarter by gambling. One boy buys cigarettes, and sends his money up in smoke. One boy buys newspapers, and sells them at a profit which buys him his dinner. A fourth boy buys seeds, plants them, and raises a tiny garden which keeps him in beans for a whole season, The fifth boy buys a book which starts him on the career of an educated man: he becomes an inventor and a man of means. The man who paid out the twenty-five cents to each boy is in no way responsible for the success or failure of their investment of this quarter. He is responsible only for the fact that he did or did not pay a fair price for the work.
God, the great Paymaster, gives to each of us the one talent, the two talents, or the ten talents, of endowment and opportunity: after that, we are left to our own devices!
There are four things which every employee should constantly bear in mind, if he wishes to advance,—skill, business opportunity, loyalty, and control. Until a man has mastered what he has to do, he cannot be expected to be accounted a serious factor in the economic world. The moment he achieves skill in what he has to do—and this is a question of thoroughness, accuracy, and speed—he has achieved power, a possibility of dictation in the matter of hours and wages.
The next point is business opportunity. Two men, of exactly the same opportunities and endowments, take up the same task. One man idles and is surpassed by the other, or he does only what he is told to do, without further thought. The other performs his set task, but at the same time he is examining into the principles of his engine, or into the conduct of the factory or business. In a few years he is the foreman, or an inventor, or a partner, with independent capital of his own. Again, there is a blind way of doing skilled work, or of merely doing it without noticing where it is most needed, or how the market is going for this special kind of work. The one who has his eyes open reads, notes the state of the market, adds to his skill the power of counsel, and can gradually take a larger responsibility upon him, which will advance the economic value of his time, as well as the work. There is a constant flux in the labor-world, which is the result largely, not of special opportunity, but of worth, application, and concentrated thought.
Third, loyalty has a high mercantile value. Disloyalty is a sin.
The fourth point is control. Does it not strike wonder to think how some men have under them, either in their industrial plant, or in their railway systems, or in their syndicate-work, anywhere from a few hundred to ten, fifteen, or twenty thousand men? How do they maintain discipline, either themselves, or through their subordinates? This problem of control is a serious one in business. Every angry threat, every sullen hour, each case of insubordination, every strike, every widespread dissatisfaction, means economic waste. It means expense both of time and money to send for Pinkertons to keep order and preserve discipline. The man who adds to his technical skill, and his knowledge of the market, the power of control adds great force and value to his work. Higher yet is executive force, the power to adjust responsibilities and duties in such a way as to get back a high economic return in the way of service. But above all, there is that force of character which impresses itself on a company, on a decade, on a generation—so that some names are handed down in business from generation to generation, all men knowing that from father to son, and again to his son, there will pass down that certain integrity, nobility, steadfastness of purpose, fidelity, and honor which give credit throughout the business world, and which promise health and happiness for those who are happy to be in their employ.
Before a man complains of his wages, then, let him ask himself: Have I mastered my work? Am I loyal? Am I capable of larger responsibilities, and of wider control?
WILLIAM MORRIS says: “It is right and necessary that all men should have work to do which shall be worth doing, and be of itself pleasant to do: and which should be done under such conditions as would make it neither over-wearisome, nor over-anxious.”
This theorem cannot be upheld in its entirety, though there is a deep truth beneath it. There are many things, such as the collecting of garbage, the washing of the dead poor, the cleaning of cesspools, the butchery of cattle for the market, and the execution of capital criminals, which can scarcely be called pleasant to do, and must yet be done. As long as the world is the world, and there is in it sin, decay, disease, and death, we cannot hope to make the work or the conditions of work absolutely ideal: we can make ideal the spirit in which work is done!
A fine story is told that long ago, when the cholera once broke out in Philadelphia, the hospitals fell into a fearful state. One day, a plain, quiet little man stepped into the chief hospital, looked about a moment, and set to work. No task was too dirty or disagreeable for him; no detail was too disgusting. He did anything he saw to be done,—called in additional doctors, organized the nurses, and himself waited on patients night and day. He soon had the hospital in good shape again. When the crisis passed, and every one began to demand, Who is this man?—they were told: It is Stephen Girard. The work was not pleasant, but the spirit was kind, and the heart delighted in its self-appointed toil.
Work in general, however, that has worth has several elements. First, It must be individual. It must be joyfully done: there must enter into work the vitality of a happy spirit. It must be spontaneous. This is why machine-work can never be thoroughly beautiful: it lacks the spontaneity of life. The hand never makes two things alike. With the mood, the weather, the occasion, there are little touches added which a machine cannot give. Life always varies and thinks of new effects.
When we try to realize what work is, when it is merely an amount of toil prodded out of man or woman by a hard taskmaster, we have only to look back to the bondage of Israel in Egypt, or to the time of Scylla, when there were thirteen million slaves in Italy alone: slaves whose set tasks were of over two hundred and fifty kinds; who worked on the road-building, on public works, and in rowing in the galleys of the slave-propelled ships. In Carthage agriculture was for a time largely carried on by slave-labor. How different is this slave-labor from the craft-work of mediaeval times, when, under the protection of the guilds, manual labor became exalted to an artistic rank, and the workers at the loom, the metal-workers, the wood-carvers, the tapestry-weavers, and the workers in pottery and glass produced objects whose beauty has never been either equalled or surpassed. Andrea del Sarto and Benvenuto Cellini were workers, and their work remains.
Again, good work is born of affection. Love teaches more art than all the schools. What we love, we instinctively beautify. The artist beautifies the material on which he works. He loves his task, and from his love there begins a gradual shaping of the ideal. The product gains a touch of beauty. The needlework of Egypt and Byzantium, the laces of Venice and of Spain, are historic. It is said of Queen Isabella, that she was one of the best needleworkers of her age; that “her motifs were the great events of the time.”
A peasant girl of Venice was once given a beautiful coral-branch and some rare leaves and shells which her lover had gathered for her from the sea-depths. She was untaught in art, and making fish-nets was her wonted work. Day by day as she wrought her nets, she looked upon the lovely sea-treasures, their beauty passed into her heart and mind, and she began to copy, spray by spray, the coral-foliage, the leaves of the sea-grasses, and the curves of the sea-shells, until after a time, in the meshes of her fish-nets, she had imprisoned forms of exquisite beauty, and one saw there reproduced, in dainty and artistic grouping, what her very soul had loved and fed upon. Her fish-nets became works of art.
Work of a high order is always based on high ideals and on great thoughts. It implies a vast amount of toil. The Capellmeister of the Vatican choir to-day is that wonderful young genius, Perosi, who is stirring all Europe by the beauty of his musical work, and by the spirituality and fervor of his musical imagination. He has set himself to compose twelve oratorios, which shall body forth the whole life of the Saviour. He believes that the music-lover and the church-lover may be identical, and has set his hand to the uniting of all true music-lovers with the great offices and services and influences of the Church. Here is Work exalted to its spiritual office: to carry out, not only ideals of beauty and harmony, but to advance spiritual progress. This is the final aim of all true work: it must be not only aesthetic, and honest, but spiritual. The prayer of the true workman is ever to make himself a workman approved unto God. “May the beauty of the Lord be upon us, and the work of our hands, establish Thou it!”
The worker should have change of work. Nature never intended that a man should do one thing all his life. This is in harmony neither with man’s infinite capacity, nor with her inexhaustible variety. Change is cultural, and a man’s work Should, from time to time, engross every working-power he has.
Working-surroundings should not only be sanitary, they should be beautiful. What influences one most at college, and makes most for one’s happiness, is not the fact of the work in recitation-rooms, out of books, laboratories, and under teachers. The glory of college life is, that wherever one goes, the eyes look out on beauty, and wherever one works, there are those whom we love who work beside us.
As one passes down the long college corridors, the eyes fall upon palm and statue, upon frieze and fresco, and the carbon copies of immortal paintings. Everywhere there are the inspirations of sculpture and architecture, of music, literature, and art. Beauty is in and about the place in which one thinks and works. This is the undying charm of Oxford—the gathering traditions of centuries, the gleaming spires, the age-worn walls and buttresses, the clinging vine, the tremulous light and shadow on the ancient halls, the sculpture of porch and clerestory, and the light that falls through richly tinted windows.
This beauty should not be monopolized by any one class. About the places where we work, we should have, as far as possible, something of the beauty of the world. We should have wide, shaded streets and parks, even in great cities; towers and pinnacles; sky-lines of vigor, grace, and massive strength. Cannot department stores be artistically fashioned and built? Cannot market-houses have arches and arabesques? May not even the Bourse have something about it suggestive of great art? Cannot our streets have curves and storied cross-ways? Cannot porters and draymen have somewhat to arouse and satisfy aesthetic instincts? Cannot our day-laborers be granted vision?
Why should we have the Gothic cathedral, with its exquisite traceries and carvings, pillars and reredos and screen, for men to pray in, one or two hours a week, and the hideous, grime-covered, foul-smelling, overheated factories, in which men and women spend their working-lives? This is what Christianity must do: it must implant joy and beauty, as well as honesty and fidelity, in the way, place, and thought of work! When religion, education, art, and brotherly affection have joined hands in a charmed circle, we shall have new ideas of working-places, as well as of praying-places, and of living-places! It is not enough that a factory should be situated, as the best factories now are, in the open country, with sunshine and fresh air. The blockhouse parallelograms and squares should be replaced by something that has intrinsic beauty and the haunting completeness of memory and association, so that the place where a man works shall no more be to him a nightmare, but the atmosphere and inspiration of his dreams!
And those we love shall work beside us! Here is another thought: Shall all association in work be arbitrary? Is there not a more human way than the chain-gang way? Could not friends work more together, so that one’s daily work should be, not a time of separation from all we love most, but a time of intellectual sympathy and helpfulness, of companionship and true-hearted loyalty? This, and many other good things, it is not too much to hope for. Truly, as Morris writes, “The Day is Coming.”
“Then a man shall work and bethink him, and
the deeds of his handy
Nor yet come home in the even too faint and weary to
“Men in that time a-coming shall work and
have no fear
For the morrow’s lack of earning and the hunger-wolf
“And what wealth then shall be left us when
To buy his friend in the market, and pinch and pine the
“Nay, what save the lovely city, and the
little house on the
And the wastes and the woodland beauty, and the happy
fields we till;
“And the homes of ancient stories, the tombs
of the mighty
And the wise men seeking out marvels, and the poet’s teeming
“And the painter’s hand of wonder;
and the marvellous
And the banded choirs of music:—all those that do and
“Far all these shall be ours and all men’s,
nor shall any
lack a share
Of the toil and the gain of living in the days when the
world grows fair.”
Good workers are trained in the home, the school, the shop, the wider world. Every home is an industrial establishment. In it go on the industrial processes of cooking, cleaning, sewing, washing; the care of silver, glass, linen, and household stores; the activities of buying food and clothing; the moral responsibilities of teaching and training servants and children. If any healthy member of the home is excused from at least some form of active work, he will inevitably be a shirker when he grows up. Cannot almost all the problems of human training be run down to this: How to teach a child to work? If he can work, he can be happy; but if he does not want to work, he shall never be happy. No work, no joy, is the universal dictum.
This is the great hardship of the children of great wealth: they are not taught to work. To avoid this difficulty, in two very wealthy families that I know, the boys were even obliged to darn their own stockings and mend their own clothes. One young hopeful once tore his clothes a-fishing, and mended his trousers with a scarlet flannel patch! Some mothers do not allow their little girls to go to school until their beds are made up and their rooms in order. Other equally wise parents have tools in the house, and allow the boys to do all the repair work, the daughters all the family mending, or to care for the linen; the boys to put in electric fixtures and bells, and keep the batteries in order. Queen Margherita of Italy, Queen Elizabeth of Roumania, Queen Alexandra of England, and the Empress Augusta of Germany are all women who have been from their childhood acquainted with simple and practical household tasks. This principle is a right one and underlies much after-success. Each child should, first of all, have a mastery of home-tasks. Then, whether on the prairie or in the palace, he is free and independent.
What makes the differences in the social privileges given to one class of workers above another? In reality, we are all workers. No one ought to live, if in health, who does not work. But for some forms of work, men and women receive an income, and nothing more. For other work, men and women may or may not receive a large personal income, but their work is recognized, they are a part of the best social circles, and when they die, a city or a nation grieves.
The essential difference is this: that one is honor-work, and one is not. Wherever in the world work is done in a spirit of love and fidelity, it brings its own reward in recognition and in personal affection. Sooner or later, honor-work receives honor.
Another reason for exaltation of one form of work above another, is that some kinds of work are so very hard to do. They involve the intense and complicated action of many and of complex powers. It may be hard physical work to break stones for a road-way, but the task itself is a simple one—the lifting of the arm and dropping it again with sufficient force to split a rock apart. But the writing of a prose masterpiece, such as the Areopagitica, involves the highest human faculties in harmonious action. If we add to the requirements of prose, the rhythm, the exalted imagery, and perhaps the assonance and rhyme of verse, we still further increase the difficulty of the task, and the honor of its successful achievement. The king-work of a powerful monarch, the president-work of a republican leader, is serious work to do. Our honor is not all given to the king or president income, salary, or office; it is a tribute to hard and royal-minded work.
Household service is personal service. It cannot be made a thing of set hours, and of measurably set tasks, as office-work maybe. We may talk of “eight-hour shifts,” but they are scarcely practicable. Not every baby would go to successive “shifts”! House-demands vary, not only with every household, but with every day.
When love-making is wholly scientific, then domestic service will be. There is in it the same delicate personal adjustment, the changing requirements of weather, health, temper, and season, of emergency and stress, that are to be found in the most purely personal relation. When there is a period of unusual sickness through the community, not only the doctors have extra tasks, but all household servants as well.
What social recognition can be given to servants who lie, steal, who shirk every duty that can be shirked, and who are both incompetent and unfaithful? The here-and-there one faithful helper receives her meed of appreciation and affection. The whole aspect of household work will change when honor-work is given: when home-helpers come up to us, from the truthful and honor-loving class.
The school-room is the place in which the principles of work are implanted: thoroughness, grasp, speed, decision, and definite purpose. The shop is the apprentice-place of work, before one takes up individual responsibilities. The man who wishes to rise in the railroad service goes into the shops and roundhouse. The man who wishes to take charge of an important department in a department store is put to tying packages.
Teachers’ work will not be rightly done until certain advantages are given to teachers that are now largely withheld. Teachers need more society, more hours of play, freer opportunity of marriage. Instead of being tied up to exercise-books and roll-books, in their home-hours, they should have a chance to spend their time on the golf-links, at afternoon teas, in visiting and in entertaining friends. Take away society from any man or woman, and you take away the possibility of a growing, happy, and helpful life. We need friends just as we need air. Teachers need admiration and affection, just as much as the society girl does.
Universities should have, in their faculties, men and women who represent the best social as well as the best intellectual life of the world—who are not only, in the highest sense of the word, society men and women, but who are social leaders, inspiring truth, inculcating larger social ideals of the best sort.
The problem between capitalist and laborer, however, only affects a portion of the world; that of domestic service a still smaller proportion; that of teachers affects only a class. There is another problem, which affects nearly all married women, and therefore a large section of the human race. It is the problem of mother-work. Here is where the economist should next turn his attention. First, What is Mother-work? Second, What are the best economic conditions under which this work can be done? When we have solved this question, we shall have solved a great human problem.
Mother-work includes the bearing and the rearing of children, the conduct of a home, and the placing of that home in the right social atmosphere and relations. It includes manual, intellectual, and spiritual labors. The one who lives and works, as God meant her to live and work, will never feel over-fatigue. Why do mothers often look so tired? It is because they too often do not have what every mother ought to have: education, rest, change, a Sabbath-day, individual income, intellectual interests, society.
Whether in the simplest home or in the stateliest, there are certain manual things to be done in regard to the care and bringing-up of children, and the conduct of a home. To make the conditions of a woman’s life easier, the very first thing is this: 1. Women should be educated primarily for home-life. By this I do not mean that a woman should be taught cooking, and not political economy; that she should be instructed in dressmaking and nursery-work, but not in chemistry and logic. I mean that the very fullest education that schools, colleges, universities, and foreign travel can give, should be given to the woman who is fortunate enough to have them at command, and that every woman, according to the degree of her possibilities of education and opportunity, should have the best. But always this education should be thought of as a part of her preparation for a woman’s life. When boys are in a business college, the
This would not necessarily change the curriculum of our colleges in any way; it would change the spirit and atmosphere of some of them at once. Instead of the spirit being: “My mind is just as good as a man’s. What a man can study, I can learn! What a man can do, I can do!”—the spirit would be this: “I am going out into a woman’s life, and it is my business now to take to myself all the wisdom, counsel, experience, and inspiration of past ages, that I may be the very grandest woman that history has yet seen! I will be a land-mark in time: I will be a pivot in history around which the earth shall turn. Because of my life, women to the end of time shall be able to live a truer, freer, better life!”
With this thought in mind, all the academic subjects would still pass into her mind and life, but they would be much more naturally set and their value would be greatly enhanced. Then we would not have the too-ambitious woman stepping out of college, or the restless and discontented one. We would have the large-minded, earnest, noble, public-spirited one, who would go out into the world as a fine type of woman, to live a woman’s life and do a woman’s work. Married or unmarried, she would still have a woman’s interests, a woman’s influence, a woman’s charm.
This higher education may or may not include practical studies in domestic science, nursing, and household emergencies, but she should learn somewhere the elements of these studies, so that when she goes into a home of her own her duties and responsibilities will not be met in a half-hearted and untrained way.
2. Mothers should have rest-hours and rest-days. Is it not something extraordinary, from a purely economic point of view, that while it is widely recognized that every one should have one day in seven for rest, that while business men are expected to close up their offices on the Sabbath, and all working men and women are given this day in the stores, the factories, and mines—the cook and maids have their Sundays out, and their week-day afternoons—that nowhere on earth, so far as I know, has there ever been a systematic arrangement by which mothers, as a class, have any specially arranged hours or days for rest! A baby’s care does not stop on the Sabbath, and the average mother is practically on duty, at least over-seeing, day and night, twenty-four hours out of the twenty-four, from one end of the year to the other, no matter how many maids and nurses she may have in her employ!
3. Personal income and its use. What we buy marks our own individuality, as well as what we do. The woman whose father or husband adjusts her expenses and expenditures cannot by any possibility be the kind of woman that the one is who chooses her own things, and spends her money absolutely to suit herself. When a man buys cigars or fishing-tackle, his wife may prefer to buy oratorios and golf-clubs.
4. Mothers should have some interest outside of home-tasks, to keep them in touch with world-interests and world-tasks. Not all mother’s duty is inside the four walls of her home. The race has demands upon her, as well as her own child. She ought to be guarded from that short-sighted and selfish devotion which makes her look upon her child as the centre of the universe, and which leads her to sacrifice every hour, every thought, every talent, to him alone.
5. Building up the place of a home in a community means much more than a rivalry with one’s neighbors, as to which one shall have the cleanest house, the prettiest or most expensive curtains and furniture, who shall entertain the most, and whose children shall present the best appearance in the world! Making a social place for a family involves a very wide acquaintance with really great social ideals; with the best instincts and customs; with world refinement and manners, as well as those of one’s own town or village—with the social possibilities of life in general, as well as the etiquette of Quinton’s Corners! To give the right stamp upon her home, a mother must have a social life, as well as domestic one. She must have time to enter somewhat into the activities of her own neighborhood, and must have society after marriage, as well as before.
It is a different sort of society that she then needs. It is not a boy-and-girl society, with its crude ways, and its adolescent ideas of life. It is the society of earnest, cultured, and public-spirited men and women, each of whom is adding something to the general store of interest and ideals; each of whom is doing some phase of social work, according to his own talent and opportunity.
When a mother steps out into life in this large way, makes education and training tributary to her mother-life, and does not stop growing intellectually or spiritually,—her charm as a woman increases, instead of diminishes, every year of her married life. Her looks mark her everywhere as a supremely happy woman, and she goes out into the world marked with that strange, deep, grand impress of motherhood and womanhood, which has always made the true woman not only a working-mother, but a love-crowned queen!
These and many other thoughts flit over one’s mind in looking at any phase of work, or any piece of work. In the right choice of work lies the fullest use of one’s capacities; in the right conditions of work lies the freest play of one’s energies; in the right spirit of work lies the way of one’s lasting happiness, and the foretaste of eternal joys.
Thus the world is seen to consist of great cycles of workers, rising in tiers one above another. Those who do not work are quickly cut out from all participation in race-progress and in race-delights; those who work earnestly, but blindly, have their small reward. But those who work with spiritual energy and enthusiasm are weaving their handiwork into the very fibre of the universal frame. It is for these spiritual workers that the great eagerness of life is undying; for them there is no shadow of fatigue; for them there is the joy of mastery and accomplishment; for them the peace of soul that comes from the triumphant achievement of one’s mission to mankind!