The solution of the industrial problem, — the abolition of all poverty that is not in itself dishonorable, the lifting of the laboring classes to the full dignity and worth of freemen, the granting to all at least the means and the opportunity for true and noble lives, — is after all a very simple thing: a simple thing, I say, though it has not beeu achieved in the centuries of the past, and though it should not be achieved, alas! for many centuries to come. It is not by combinations of labor (though these are necessary and justifiable in the present distress), for this is but matching selfishness against selfishness, class against class; it is not by government assistance to labor, it is not by any species of legislation, though these may both serve in their way; it is not by profuse charity, which often injures those who receive, and by no means always blesses those who give, as the very means for charity are often won by headlong selfishness and wrong. It is a much simpler and a much more radical remedy than any of these. It is in the reception of a new principle into the hearts of men; it is in taking the law of the social ideal and making it the law of business itself; it is in treating every man in our employ not as a tool, but as a man, and giving him the means to realize the ends of a man ; it is in knowing no profit that we do not, in some measure, make common with him.
There are still other and closer bearings of the social ideal on our lives. I can only hint at them. We stand in the relation to one another of husbands and wives, of parents and children. Here, too, the instincts of self-assertion have had free play in the past; and the notion is but dawning upon us that the wife is not rightfully the servant of her husband, nor are the children merely means for the parents' ends. Though the sphere of the wife may be different, it is an equal sphere to that of her husband. As has been said,1 she is not a satellite, but a twin star with him. And the children, — though their weakness exposes them to mistreatment, all the more sacred is the obligation to bear in mind the manhood and the womanhood that are developing in them, to make them independent ends of our action and our love. But though the bearings of the principle here are being increasingly recognized, are there no others in our homes whom we still incline to regard as means merely to our own ends ? Yes, there are those in our houses, if not our homes, whom we distinctly indicate by the title " servants." Do you say, Ah, but they are not ours; they are merely waiting on us; we support them, and we support them amply, and they are indeed incidentally getting a valuable training with us that will be of use to them in the future ? I grant all this. I know they are not slaves ; I know they may be kindly treated; I know, on their side, they may be satisfied with what they have and get. But I ask, Are we satisfied ? Are they not human beings; have they not the ends of human beings, and can we rest till we concede them these ends ? Can we rest short of a universal application of this law of the social ideal ? I confess that I want no one to be my " servant," in the ordinary, one-sided use of that term. The consciousness that any one is, does not at all elate me. I like not these fawning airs, these humble looks, this punctiliousness and obsequiousness. They do not become man, or woman either; they humble me, as if I were guilty of them myself. I want no service that I do not return. I feel that if I do not honor another I do not honor myself, for I fundamentally am every other: it is one common nature, wherein we all share. I am lifted with every honor, and cast down with every shame, that comes to another child of man. Am I asked, What, then, are to be the forms of our domestic life ? I answer, I have no thought of forms, I have no thought even of the destruction of the present forms. I ask only for the admission of a principle into men's hearts ; I only ask that it be trusted, and allowed to modify and fashion, or destroy and recreate, as it will.
1 By Professor Adler.
Though I have traversed much ground, I have done so only to illustrate the compass and sweep of a principle. And though I have not sought to picture the social ideal, but only to indicate its principle, and test the present order of our life by it, yet if we can imagine the State, and the intercourse of the States, transfigured by it; if we can imagine business and industry transformed under its hallowing influence; if we can see our homes, and our relationship to the humblest, lit up and glorified by the free acceptance of it, — we can, to the inward eye at least, dimly prefigure what the answering reality would be. I deem it not too great a thought for the humblest man. The humblest man has that in him which will respond to it; the loneliest man may yet cherish those feelings and purposes which would fit him for membership in the ideal society; the poorest man may find existence for a moment rich in the contemplation of it; the sick man may find in it " medicine for sickness; " the dying man may feel himself growing eternal in the thought of it. For the issues of every individual existence are there; our spirits live or die, as they rise to its demands. It is, I believe, no merely human ideal, but a world-ideal, and the world-purpose is quick to own those who cleave to it.
Religion has been described by Professor Adler as the "homesickness of the soul." In truth, it is so. There is something in us which tells us that we do not belong to a realm of jarring discords, of clashing interests, of selfish triumphs. We have another country. The home of the soul is — I know not where; it is not here. We belong to peace ; we belong to love; we belong to all that is covered by the sacred name of the Good. Where are those who will assert these high belongings, and by their surrender to sovereign principle, by the sanctity with which they envelop every human being, by the new order of their lives and the peace of their spirits, prove that even here on the earth they are connected with " realms that know not earthly day " ?
The trouble with the established religion is, that it has ceased to stand for ideal convictions. The churches are friends of the established order. Morality has become a tradition. Little is now said to shame men, and to contradict their lives and the order of society with an ideal of what these should be. Who will once more lift up the standard of absolute righteousness ? Who will strip morality of its conventional expressions, and rebuke sins that now go unrebuked, and make demands upon men that now they do not dream of ? They who do, who see the infinite element in morality, who identify religion with justice, and make the law of the Highest the law for all life, — they will be the heralds, the prophets, of the Religion of the Future.