The church has no monopoly of righteousness, but it is of immense importance in cultivating the religious spirit, and cannot safely be dispensed with. And so it must be strongly supported and made efficient. To those who know true values this is an investment that cannot safely be ignored. To it we should give generously of our money, but equally generously we should give ourselves—our presence, our co-operation, our loyal support of our leaders, our constant effort to hold it to high ideals. If it is to give life, it must have life, and whatever life it has is the aggregation of our collected and consecrated lives.
The church called Christian cannot win by holding its old trenches. It must advance to the line that stretches from our little fortress where the flag of Reason and Religion defiantly floats. Shall we retreat? No; it is for us to hold the fort at all costs, not for our sake alone, but for the army of humanity.
We believe in God and we believe in man. As President Eliot lately put it, “We believe in the principles of a simple, practical, and democratic religion. We are meeting ignorance, not with contempt, but with knowledge. We are meeting dogmatism and superstition, not with impatience, but with truth. We are meeting sin and injustice, not with abuse, but with good-will and high idealism. We have the right message for our time.” To the church that seems to us to most nearly realize these ideals, it is our bounden duty, and should be our glad privilege, to present ourselves a reasonable sacrifice, that we may do our part in bringing in God’s Kingdom.
THE CHURCH AND PROGRESS
Reforms depend upon reformed men. Perhaps the greater need is formed men. As we survey the majority of men around us, they seem largely unconscious of what they really are and of the privileges and responsibilities that appertain to manhood. It must be that men are better, and more, than they seem. Visit a baseball game or a movie. The crowds seem wholly irresponsible, and, except in the pleasure or excitement sought, utterly uninterested—apparently without principle or purpose. And yet, when called upon to serve their country, men will go to the ends of the world, and place no limit on the sacrifice freely made for the general good. They are better than they seem, and in ways we know not of possess a sense of justice and a love of right which they found we know not where.
This is encouraging, but must not relieve us from doing our utmost to inform more fully every son of man of his great opportunity and responsibility, and also of inspiring him to use his life to his and our best advantage.
It is so evident that world-welfare rests upon individual well-being that we cannot escape the conviction that the best thing any one of us can do is to help to make our fellow-men better and happier. And the part of wisdom is to organize for the power we gain.