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Religion affairs ? Must we look forward to a time when the unservice inutility and helplessness of all religious sentiment inefficient. to advance the well-being of mankind will be uni
versally admitted ? And here it may be at once allowed that the sphere of Religion, whatever be its true work and office in respect of the positive benefits which it confers upon mankind, lies wholly outside Science. It was not sent to redress evils which it is the province of knowledge to remove. But is it always kept in mind, when Christianity is thus assailed on the score of inefficiency, how small
a part of those ills which “ flesh is heir to,” Science Criticism itself has hitherto availed to abolish? While convices ren- ferring on mankind large benefits and grand opdered by positive portunities, can it be said of this new divinity that knowledge to man- it alone brings no evils in its train ? The mecha
nical skill which stimulates as it facilitates production, the mighty powers of locomotion by which the fabrics of commerce are made to traverse the furthest regions of the earth, the progress which is making in the labours of the factory and of the mill-have they hitherto increased the sum of happiness and individual comfort for those vast human masses, the slaves of the mine and of the loom, which have, as it were, leaped into being at the call of science? When I walk through our vast
of the ser
1 Mr. Lecky, Hist. Eur. Mor., I. 132, has some just and profound reflections on the tendency of industrial progress to sacrifice moral dignity and elevation of character, and on its relation to a utilitarian standard in morals.
manufacturing capitals, and gaze on the squalid tenements, the swarming alleys, the sordid, careworn faces which meet the view, I cannot but ask myself if this is indeed the end of all their beingwhether the increase of wealth, of population and production, if these be its conditions, can be worth its own accomplishment; whether the struggle for existence does not outweigh the blessing, or rather the very reasons of life. Is the elevation of the many a true consequence of the increase of wealth? Is it not as in the days of old ? “When goods is increase increase they are increased that eat them.”2 “ It tion or
material is a sore travail which God has given to the sons progress of men to exercise them.” “ All things are full of mount to
social elelabour; that which is crooked cannot be made vation ? straight, and that which is wanting cannot be numbered.” Surely these words of the Preacher express a profound disappointment at the little effect of wisdom and skilled knowledge on man's physical and moral condition ? Are they inappli- Reasons
for doubt. cable now? Much, at any rate, remains to be done for these toiling millions which as yet has not been done. Brought into the world to eke out, it would seem, the purposes of labour, they live, they work, they die, uncheered by the lamp of knowledge, which assigns their daily task. What has Political Economy, Ethology, or Social Science 3
1 “Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas.”—Juv.
Eccles. v. 11; i. 13, 15.
as yet done to mend their lot or gild their prospect, amid the gigantic risks and ever-enlarging perils among which they earn their bread? Then in the moment of writhing pain and impending dissolution, the result of unprevented accident, or in the long hours of wasting, incurable sickness, the effect of some noxious employment, to what shall they
turn their dying eyes for consolation, for support? The need Will the long vista of coming generations born of the motives and like them to suffer, to struggle, and to die, yet consolations of making up the sum of that Humanity,' that “unity religion evident. of our race,” that "course of evolution,” that “sub
jective immortality” which to some among us seems the very God of all their worship—will the consciousness of an unknown, unknowable reality underlying the world of matter or of mind—will the “infinite nature of duty”—will these close their eyes in peace ? or will they not rather, feeling themselves but denizens of a world that passes, yet heirs of an immortal, immaterial spirit, turn with all their hearts towards a Faith which alone explains the present and guarantees the future; which alone lends strength now and gives assurance and peace for ever; which teaches, that
i See Strauss, Der Alte und der Neue Glaube, p. 372 ff.; and Mr. Winwood Reade, Martyrdom of Man, pp. 535-7. I quote but one passage: “ We teach that the soul is immortal; we teach that there is a future life; we teach that there is a heaven in the ages far away ; but not for us single corpuscles, and for us dots of animated jelly; but for the One of whom we are the elements, and who, though we perish, never dies."
though the dust returns to the earth as it was, yet there is hope in man's latter end ? For the spirit shall return unto God Who gave it, yea, and Who hath redeemed it from sin unto Himself. For “if in this life only we have hope, what advantageth it?” Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and He is become the first-fruits of them that sleep.”