The human race is an organic whole. The individual man is more intimately united to every other man, and to all past and coming generations, than the leaf which flutters on the twig of a great tree is connected with the tree itself, and with every other leaf that swells its foliage, or with the seed which was ages ago planted in the soil, and from which the noble plant has issued. That organic unity of the Church, springing chiefly out of a common life, derived from Christ and maintained by His indwelling Spirit, and which the apostle Paul so fully illustrates by the union of the members of the human frame, holds equally true of the whole family of man.
And what is true in this respect of the human race, is as true of all spiritual intelligences in the universe of God. “We are all members one of another.” We form a part of a mighty whole that finds its unity in God. Subtle links from within and from without in God’s infinite network, bind us for good or evil, for weal or woe, to spirits of light and of darkness; to principalities and powers in other spheres and systems of being, from the lowest outcast in the unseen world of criminals, up to Gabriel before the throne of God; while over all, comprehending all, sustaining and harmonising all, is the great I AM—Father, Son, and Spirit.
Consider, for example, how, according to the arrangements of the Divine government, man is linked to man from the mere necessities of his physical and social being.
In this aspect of our life it is evident that its whole history is one of mutual dependence, and one in which we are compelled to receive and to give, to partake and to share. We enter upon life as weak, unconscious infants, depending every moment on other eyes to watch for us, and other hands to minister to us, while we kindle in their hearts the most powerful emotions, and unconsciously react upon them for joy or sorrow. But we are not less dependent on our fellow-creatures for our continuance in life from the cradle to the grave. There is not a thread of clothing which covers our body, not a luxury which is placed on our table, not an article which supplies the means of labour, not one thing which is required by us as civilised beings, but involves the labours and the sacrifices of others in our behalf; while by the same law we cannot choose but contribute to their well-being. The cotton which the artisan weaves or wears has been cultivated by brothers beneath a tropical sun, and possibly beneath a tyrant’s lash. The tea he drinks has been gathered for him by brothers on the unknown hill-sides of distant China. The oil which lights his lamp has been fetched for him out of the depths of the Arctic seas by his sailor brothers; and the coal that feeds his fire has been dug out by swarthy brethren who have been picking and heaving for him amidst the darkness and dangers of the mine. If the poorest mother writes a letter to her son in some distant spot in India and puts it into the window-slit of a village