Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]

that all mankind might follow His example ? Is it not true that the purpose and end of His sacrifice is to inspire us to sacrifice ? that He fails unless He does so inspire us ? —that the salvation which His blood accomplishes is just this and nothing else: the salvation of men from the isolation and chaos of selfishness to membership in a Kingdom of Love? He wrought, not some mysterious transaction in heavenly assizes, but a definite work among men, which, widening and increasing, is indeed more and more their salvation. His life did not aim at arousing in future generations tender and sentimental emotions; it aimed at making plain for concrete application the principle which is intended to rule in men's relations with one another. His utterances concerning Love are not rhapsodies, but scientific formulations of eternal social truths. Those specific directions for conduct which we were thinking of last week, largely seen, all interpret themselves as parts of the Law of Love, of which His career was the expression. It may be called the Law of the Integration of Mankind. To its obedience we are called



by the revelation of humanity's inevitable unity in interests and fate, which modern studies in unprecedented degree have made. The physical sciences, medicine, mental and psychological researches, combine in their results to impress us with the truth that in cause and destiny men I am bound to you, you to one another and to me, not in a kinship, rather in a vital partnership, solemn and terrible in its responsibilities, its burden and its inspiration. The fate of the race is mine. Its sins I must bear in my own flesh; mine are wounds in its body. Is it not true that Christ's supreme effort was to persuade us of this?

It is true, and I venture to believe that days very close at hand are to acknowledge and act upon its truth to a degree unparalleled except in its acknowledgment and obedience by the primitive Church. It is not true—it is not true—that this is an age more cruel and selfish than past ones have been. Nice words indeed fail adequately to characterize its enormities of injustice, its deep-seated viciousness and cruelty. But when we who see these things feel upon us the commission to cry out against them, let us not forget that it is something that we see them, that it is much that we think it worth while to cry out. The age continues in its wrongs, but it is conscience stricken. Never was there such sensitiveness to the sight of suffering. Never was there such interest in the searching out of class wrongs, and in the improvement of labor and living conditions; never such certainty of sympathetic reception for appeals for justice. Mr. Kidd, who, in Chapter VII. of his book, gathers the evidence on this point, furnishes most convincing testimony of the steady, unperceived triumph through the centuries of the Gospel as a social power. The Kingdom of Heaven is as if a man should cast seed upon the earth; and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he knoweth not how. The social conditions under which the fathers of this generation lived are well-nigh inconceivable to us. But there is no stopping now. The institutions of society as it is now organized which do not commend themselves to the altruistic judgment are condemned already. All heart has been taken out of the defence of them; their defenders have no faith in their own cause.

The conviction, the confidence, and the courage today are all in possession of those who lead the demand for realized brotherhood, the abolition of the competitive system, and the socialization of work.

I am in line, therefore, with the great movement which is the most imposing feature of modern civilization,-a movement whose significance we have hardly yet begun to measure, nor whose end to guess,when I plead for a distinct recognition and obedience of Christ's commandment of Love; and I am preaching an enterprise upon which the world, without naming it, or stopping to inquire into its own motive, has already entered. Surely it is desirable that the world should know that its motive, and the law of its social evolution and salvation, is just that Love which Christ exemplified and enjoined. Surely it is desirable that the social revolution which it is the unmistakable mood of the age to proceed with, should be saved from blunder and violence by the proclamation that it must be nothing else than the application of the law of Love to yet wider tracts of the life of man. Surely it is desirable that human society should be persuaded that there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby it may be saved but only the name of Jesus Christ.

And, therefore, I cannot conceive any duty more imperatively laid upon the Church to-day than that of claiming, taking possession of, and guiding this revolution. And when we begin to meditate upon that duty, is not the question inevitably forced upon us, How shall we induce the world to accept the law of Christ, unless we ourselves first fully submit to it? And when we talk of the Church lifting and saving society, does not sometimes intrude itself the recollection of that troublesome and inconsiderate retort made to the complacent Pope ?—“ The successors of St. Peter cannot say, “Silver and gold have I none. Aye, neither can they say, 'Rise up and walk!' —the retort which we try to think inconse

« PoprzedniaDalej »