" One hour of justice," said an old Mahometan precept, " is worth seventy years of prayer." Let us say the same of charity. All these hospitals and homes and asylums while in one way an honor, are in another an indication of the disease of our civilization. We do not strike at the root by raising up more of them, though while the evils last this must be done. Yet the Religion of the Future will only come with those who do strike at the root, and who, whether at the command of the State or in obedience to the law in their own hearts, do no business and engage in no industry in which ample justice is not meted out to all who join them in it; who will use talents for leadership and initiatory enterprise, not to give them mastery over others, but as Godin and Leclaire in France have done, for the elevation of others, and will feel in all they do, and in their most material concerns as well, an o'er-mastering religious constraint. For though religion by no means necessarily includes a system of theological dogmas, or prayer or worship in the customary senses, I have no confidence that any great industrial reform will come save as a product of religion. All man's natural self-regarding impulses are against any reform. Those winning in the battle would rather have the battle go on as it is ; and those who do not win, and who may some time, instead of fighting for what they can only most scantily get, turn and fight their successful competitors who seem to be keeping them from getting more, — they, even if they should triumph, would only solve the problem for themselves and not for humanity, and would perhaps in turn have to give way to another inferior class who, stung by their oppression, would rise and overthrow them. The root of the matter, the solution of the industrial problem, is no more with the working classes than with their employers. Both are equally striving for the mastery, and I have heard it said by a manufacturer that no foreman was so self-assertive and tyrannical as one suddenly elevated from the rank of a common workman.1 The solution of the problem is only in an idea, a principle, and in persons only as they are permeated and actuated by the idea and principle. Moreover, the acceptance of the idea under the stress of no merely selfish desire or impulse, but because it is just and commanding in itself, is religion, proving as it does man's link with what is higher and the Highest, and hinting to him as in a dream — " The hills where his life rose, And the sea where it goes".
1 The old social ideal is finely portrayed in Addison's " Sir Roger de Coverley".
4. A fourth ethical need of our time is that of a new statement of the end of human existence. There is general dissatisfaction with the idea that this end is for each one in the saving of his own soul. The early Christian idea of the " kingdom of heaven " was much nobler, and has indeed a basic meaning of inestimable worth; yet the form and expectation with which not only the early Church, but Jesus himself, connected it have proved untrustworthy and delusive. The righteous ordering of human life, which was to come with the reappearance of the " Son of Man," and to come so soon, has failed to come in all these centuries. And the notions which are the survival of that old conception, — of a heaven beyond the skies, of a Deity who will be seen, a Son sitting on his right hand, and of angels who are their ministers, — belong rather to the realm of fairy-land than to that of actual fact. There is, hence, a wide-spread tendency to find the ends of existence in what is near, palpable, of present, even of material, interest.
1 Cf. Aeschylus (Prometheus Bound, 36):
" Who holds a power But newly gained, is ever stern of mood".
Now, though it is impossible not to sympathize with this tendency, so far as it contrasts with the old one of paying slight attention to human affairs and interests, it too has its limitations ; and there are deeper moments in our experience in which we distinctly feel them. There is something within us which, at least in thought and purpose, rises above all limits and seeks a measureless good. As that something impels one to find a large share of his happiness in that of others, so it makes it impossible to find content in seeing others merely happy. One feels that the merely happy have but learned the alphabet of existence; that the notion of perfection includes the disposition of the heart, the worthiness to be happy, the enlargement of the mind, the ennobling of the moral life, — these all carried on to heights beyond our experience or even imagination; and that nothing less than the perfect, and this shared in by all, can be the end, the goal. It is characteristic of religion to start from the idea of this limitless good, to discern the worth of all minor or partial goods from their tendency to ultimate therein, to send our aspirations to the very stars, and thus lend an infinite sanctity to each particular act. Jesus struck the note of religion when he counselled his disciples to be content with no traditional rules of goodness, but only with perfection (Matt. v. 48). His impassioned apostle struck it when he wrote, " Whatsoever things are true or honorable or just or pure or lovely, think on these things " (Phil. iv. 8). Religion is the passion of the soul for all good.
As there are means and ends in the world, — as for example, matter is for form, and lower forms for higher, inorganic for organic, insentient for sentient, and the merely sentient for the rational, — so the ends of rational existence are the ends of the world, and perfection is not merely a human but a world problem. On every act of virtue the stars shine; for every choice of the higher for the lower, for every sacrifice of private to universal good, a mute sympathy runs through universal nature. And no act of ours born of that upward aim can fail of its issue. There can be no destruction of what is truly good. There is something we mortal men can do that is not mortal; that:
" Will last and shine transfigured In the final reign of Right, It will merge into the splendors Of the City of the Light."1
1 Prof. Felix Adler, " The City of the Light".