A new ethics of industry must arise; or, I might almost say, ethics must be now applied for the first time in this department of human activity. What does the ethics of Jesus give us in this direction ? In truth, if we turn from the ideas of our time to those of Jesus, it is almost like going from one world into another. Did he not feel for poverty ? Yes; his sympathies were boundless. But his remedy for it, aside from gifts of charity, indicates a notion of providence, of the relation between man and God, that may at times adorn a poem or a tale, but has lost all hold upon our sober belief. It was not so much even individual toil and labor as trust, —belief that as we are of more value than the sparrows, so we shall be no less provided for than they. Consider the birds, he said, that neither reap nor gather into barns; the lilies, that neither toil nor spin ! How strangely contrasted with this idyllic view of the world is that to which we in recent years have become accustomed ! The language of Darwin is here better than any paraphrase : " We behold," he says, " the face of Nature bright with gladness ; we often see superabundance of food. We do not see, or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds and beasts of prey. We do not always bear in mind that though food may now be superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each year. ... I estimated," he says again, " chiefly from the greatly reduced number of nests in the spring, that the winter of 1854-55 destroyed four-fifths of the birds in my own grounds." 1 The fact is that the "heavenly Father," of whom Jesus spoke, probably denies food and protection to more of his creatures than he actually provides for; if he did not, the earth would soon be covered by the progeny of any single pair of them. Hence, there often arises a struggle for existence, which for severity and piti-lessness can hardly be surpassed by anything our imagination can conceive. Man also is involved in the same process. Is he not often equally pressed with the struggle, and as unconcernedly left to his fate by the " heavenly Father " ?
Darwin would console us, in reference to the lower orders of being, " with the belief that the war of Nature-is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive." Ah! but man is not one of the lower orders of being, and the consolation nowise fits our grief for him. Man is an animal who thinks, and does feel fear; his death is often miserably drawn out; he survives often long after he or others can see the use of living; and sometimes it is at last forgotten that he is a man, and he becomes to many but a mass of flesh or filth, cumbering the ground. Oh, if we have a view of human nature that causes us no shudder and no resentment when we think or know of this; if we do not say, O remorseless struggle, thou does the ethics of jesus satisfy 1 219 hast no right or place in the circle of human relations, there only the law of respect and help and pity should have sway! — then am I at loss to know how to proceed. I can only address myself at the outset to those who have a different estimate of human nature, who respond to the thought of Jesus' words, if not to the inference he draws from them, " Ye are of more value than many sparrows;" who believe that Hamlet's words, " How noble in reason ! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god !" — that these are none too good for man, since though they flatter him as he often is, it is with the portrait of what he may be. I can only address those who see in man, in every man, somewhat of measureless possibilities, of priceless worth. On those who think in this way a new burden is laid. We can no longer, without hypocrisy, commend the poor and unfortunate to the care of the "heavenly Father;" nor can we assent to the cool indifference and practical materialism of laissez-faire doctrinaires, though the facts of the economist and the thoughts of man lying at the basis of the Christian confidence have equally our acknowledgment. We have, in a word, to cherish the thought and to change the facts. For though the facts of external Nature — of rain and the soil and its fruits — are not in our power, the facts of human institution and custom and will are ; and I believe there is no need that a single human being in the limits of civilization should suffer or want, or live any but a nobly human life, if society would but awake and respond to the task laid upon it. There is no trouble in the nature of things; the nature of things even points and commands, and in a single way. The trouble is with man, who will not accept ideal guidance, but prefers each one to take his own way, and to act without reference to the good of all.
1 Origin of Species, pp. 49, 54.
Hence, if the old religion centred in prayer to God, the new must be an address to man, —and yet not as if the word merely came from man, but in the name of the Highest, and with the aim of connecting human life once more with a supreme sanctity. This sanctity is that of justice. Jesus, as we have said, taught the Golden Rule, which is a popular and apprehensible, if somewhat rude, statement of justice ; but he left no distinct and binding impression that industrial life must be ordered thereby. With his peculiar view of Providence and of the great change impending in human affairs, the problem of life was hardly serious enough to call for such distinct inculcation. Hence, though for the little time that his spirit was a fresh and powerful force in the minds of his followers, his high demands were matched in the order of their lives, and the earliest Christianity had some of the features of a genuine brotherhood, when discouragements came, there was felt to be no binding obligation to continue these features ; and later on, and through the centuries of Christian history, very little was done to abolish the class separations into which human society always naturally falls. The practical working ideal of the Church has been, for the most part, that of charity and pity and consideration on the part of the higher classes in their treatment of the lower, and of deference and submission from the lower to the higher. Justice would make charity, in great measure, unnecessary, and the airs of self-humiliation an offence. Instead of "Christian society," — including the poor and the rich, the alms-giver and the beggar,—justice would give us a high society of equals, wherein should be neither patronage nor obsequiousness,1 but only a noble, mutual courtesy and respect.