When these Benevolent Trusts come into active being, such organizations on broad lines will be sure to attract the brains of the best men we have in our commercial affairs, as great business opportunities attract them now. Our successful business men as a class, and the exceptions only prove the truth of the assertion, have a high standard of honour. I have sometimes been tempted to say that our clergymen could gain by knowing the essentials of business life better. The closer association with men of affairs would, I think, benefit both classes. People who have had much to do with ministers and those who hold confidential positions in our churches have at times had surprising experiences in meeting what is sometimes practised in the way of ecclesiastical business, because these good men have had so little of business training in the work-a-day world.
The whole system of proper relations, whether it be in commerce, or in the Church, or in the sciences, rests on honour. Able business men seek to confine their dealings to people who tell the truth and keep their promises; and the representatives of the Church, who are often prone to attack business men as a type of what is selfish and mean, have some great lessons to learn, and they will gladly learn them as these two types of workers grow closer together.
The Benevolent Trusts, when they come, will raise these standards; they will look the facts in the face; they will applaud and sustain the effective workers and institutions; and they will uplift the intelligent standard of good work in helping all the people chiefly to help themselves. There are already signs that these combinations are coming, and coming quickly, and in the directorates of these trusts you will eventually find the flower of our American manhood, the men who not only know how to make money, but who accept the great responsibility of administering it wisely.
A few years ago, on the occasion of the decennial anniversary of the University of Chicago, I was attending a university dinner, and having been asked to speak I had jotted down a few notes.
When the time arrived to stand up and face these guests—men of worth and position—my notes meant nothing to me. As I thought of the latent power of good that rested with these rich and influential people I was greatly affected. I threw down my notes and started to plead for my Benevolent Trust plan.
“You men,” I said, “are always looking forward to do something for good causes. I know how very busy you are. You work in a treadmill from which you see no escape. I can easily understand that you feel that it is beyond your present power carefully to study the needs of humanity, and that you wait to give until you have considered many things and decided upon some course of action. Now, why not do with what you can give to others as you do with what you want to keep for yourself and your children: Put it into a Trust? You would not place a fortune