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trespasses as he forgives those that trespass against him. That spirit which he prays for as a virtue on Sunday, or in his home, he will repudiate as a vice or a weakness on Monday, in his club or in parliament, or on the Stock Exchange.
Such is the blunt conclusion of our greatest writer on sociology, and we should find it hard to confute his testimony.
Another distinguished writer2 has said that the key to all rational estimate of European politics is to recognize that the dominant factor in them to-day is the passion of national selfassertion, the struggle for national primacy. For right or wrong the great nations are resolved to make themselves as big, as formidable, as extensive, as rich as science and energy can make them, or at least to tolerate no other nation bigger than themselves.
For this they are ready to sacrifice almost everything at home or abroad, their traditions, their safety, their credit and almost their honor.
And we might add to this testimony that it is this same principle of selfish greed which is mainly responsible for that degrading and mischievous influence in English life commonly described as jingoism, that spurious or bastard patriotism which it should be the aim of every ethical teacher to eradicate and destroy, planting in its stead the true progressive Christian patriotism, whose aim is righteousness and goodwill.
Again, the most distinguished man of letters now engaged in English political life is reported to have said only the other day, when referring to the prevalent sentiment on our South African policy, that the language of England hardly affects to be moral language; it is the language of pride, of mastery, of force, of violence, of revenge. And as
2 Mr. F. Harrison in Cosmopolis.
we read the sentiments that pervade a great portion of the newspaper press, and the language used by some leading and representative men, it is not possible for us to deny the essential truth of such criticism.
But the specially noticeable about it in our consideration of the ethical question is that all this language seems to be used in good faith by men who, while thus recognizing, accepting, and even helping to propagate pride and self-interest as the dominant motives in public life, are all the time professing obedience to the moral standards of the Gospel, and joining in the customary and special worship of the Christian Church, and this, to all appearance, without any distinct feeling of inconsistency.
Even an excellent Church dignitary has been known to hold that our recent experiences in South Africa furnish a warning lesson to remind us that we should carefully avoid all sentiment in politics; and yet the Book of Common Prayer and the Gospel of Christ are that good Churchman's daily companions in his private life, and he would probably have agreed with Mr. Froude when he said that every generous and living relation between man and man, or between men and their country, is sentiment and nothing else.
The subject being so fundamentally important, and the perversions and contradictions of conventional public sentiment being so instructive when analyzed, it may not be a work of supererogation to cite one more witness.
Mr. Lecky, in his "Map of Life," in order to bring out clearly the comparatively low standards of conduct which men are still content to follow in public affairs, has set graphically before us two recent illustrations, which deserve to be pondered very carefully and dispassionately.
Referring to what may fairly be described as the meanest incident in the
modern political history of England, he -reminds us how at the close of this nineteenth century of the Christian era, a man holding the confidential position of Prime Minister of a colony, and being at the same time a Privy Councillor of the Queen, could engage in a conspiracy for the overthrow neighboring and friendly state; and, moreover, how, to carry out this design, he deceived the High Commissioner, whose Prime Minister he was, and his colleagues in the ministry; how he collected for the conspiracy armed force under false pretences, and took part in smuggling arms to be used for purposes of rebellion, made use of newspapers under his influence or control, and spent large sums of money in fomenting rebellion, and finally was implicated in the concoction of a letter pretending to be an appeal on behalf of women and children whose lives were in danger, a letter to be dated and issued at the right moment.
Here we see a course of conduct which in private life would have been honestly and sincerely reprobated by the very man who did all these things, as by the general sense of the community; but inasmuch as it belongs to the field of politics, what happens?
The verdict of fashionable society condones it, and a great part of the nation follows suit, and even a leading minister of the Crown is found to declare in the House of Commons, apparently with the assent of his colleagues, and in all sincerity, that in all these transactions, although the man had made a gigantic mistake, he had done nothing affecting his personal honor.
In the face of such phenomena one is tempted to ask whether men's conceptions of personal honor are not in some danger of deteriorating, and whether, after all, we had not better hold on to Shakespeare as a safer guide and interpreter when he writes:
Let us glance at the other illustration furnished by Mr. Lecky. Very few massacres in history, he says, have been more gigantic or more clearly traced to the action of a Government than those perpetrated by Turkish soldiers in our generation; and few signs of the low level of public feeling in Christendom are more impressive than the general indifference with which these massacres were contemplated in most countries, or the spectacle of the sovereign of one of the greatest and most civilized Christian nations hastening to Constantinople, so soon after those savage Armenian atrocities, to clasp the hand which was thus deeply imbued with Christian blood, and then proceeding to the Mount of Olives, where, amid scenes consecrated by the most sacred of all memories, he proclaimed himself the champion and the patron of the Christian faith.
Illustrations like these are surely a sufficient proof, if proof were needed. to show how slow men are to give an undivided allegiance to moral principles in all departments of life, and, moreover, how readily the conscience becomes a conventional and purblind conscience, domesticated and living at ease amid the most glaring inconsistencies.
How, then, it is natural to ask, are we to account for the fact that the standards of individual ethics are thus applied so slowly, so fitfully, so partially and so inconsistently, in the field of political or public life?
And the question is one to which it is not altogether easy to give a simple categorical answer, because the dislocation between private and public, or in
3 Cf. Mozley's University Sermon on the Pharisees.
dividual and corporate standards of judgment and conduct is felt to be the resultant of various causes.
In the first place it is relevant to notice that the Divine Founder of our religion and His apostles deliberately confined their teaching to personal morals.
Living as they did under a heathen Imperial
government, which would have crushed them without mercy had they been suspected of any political or revolutionary aim, they left the politi cal world severely alone, content to sow the seeds of new principles and a new spirit in individual hearts.
And this attitude of the Saviour and His immediate followers towards all that concerned the corporate or political life of the comunity, while they rendered to Cæsar without question or criticism the things that were recog nized as Cæsar's, has doubtless exercised a continuous influence on succeeding generations, tending to deter men from bringing the higher moral standards of the Gospel teaching directly and unreservedly to bear upon the conduct of public or State affairs, and so leaving a great portion of our public opinion and activities in these departments of life still outside the pale of Christian ethics.
Following upon this, and in some degree as a consequence of it, we may note the prevalent lack of any systematic training of the young in the right application of moral principles to the details of their public life.
We are indeed so far from adequately recognizing the duty of giving such training that there still survives in ordinary society a very general prejudice to the effect that a religious teacher should confine himself to what are called religious matters, and abstain from all political teaching, as if political morality might safely be left to grow of itself.
Cf. Goldwin Smith on American Slavery.
Thus, throughout our whole educational system we find very little systematic training in the morals of citizenship.
In other subjects it is recognized that the young must be trained and disciplined for the work of their practical life by systematic daily lessons repeated and learnt again and againdecies repetita docent; but we act as if our social and political morals were expected to grow without any such daily watering and tending; and the result is an attenuated or arrested moral growth such as may be constantly observed in political action, temper and opinion; and remembering how deep-rooted and tenacious of life are selfish motives and traditional, conventional and oldworld ideas, we must acknowledge that we have no right to expect a very different result until we take more pains to secure it.
But the most fundamental why a late or slow growth in corporate morality was to be expected is, that all real moral progress is from the individual heart outwards, and consequently corporate advance has to wait upon individual advance.
Thus the tide of moral advancement first of all uplifts the individual, and then the family, and after that the tribal, the national and the international conscience.
National and international morality are thus seen to lie on the outermost fringe of moral influence, and they rise in consequence very slowly.
In this slow uprising, amid the strug gle of contending forces, we find, as we have seen in the instances already quoted, compromise and lax judgments prevailing in public affairs with regard to matters in which no compromise and no such judgments would be tolerated in private personal relationships.
So it comes to pass that after all our centuries of moral and religious teaching, with all the treasures of ancient
and modern thought in our hands, all the great examples before our eyes, and all the spiritual teaching of the ages in our ears, what may be called the moral conscience of nations is still in a very rudimentary condition.
States, as represented by the policy and action of rulers, diplomatists and statesmen, and by ordinary public opinion, are still influenced and directed in the main by the instincts of self-preservation and self-interest, and all the kindred selfish motives; though we recognize with thankfulness the constantly growing signs that the higher life steadily advances in spite of every drawback.
For while the tired waves, slowly breaking,
Seem scarce one painful inch to gain, Far back, through creek and inlet making,
Comes silent, flooding in, the main.
This brings us to the practical and final consideration, how we may best hope to facilitate or expedite this progress; and our thoughts naturally turn in this connection, first of all to the influence of religious teaching, and next to systematic training of the young in the ethics of citizenship, and to the aid which may be given by ethical societies.
What religious teachers and leaders may perhaps be said specially to need in a time of settled and conventional religion, is to realize their prophetic office more clearly and more fully than is commonly done.
In the midst of a highly conventional society it is only too easy to forget that the true office of the religious preacher is to stand forth as the messenger and interpreter of Divine Law in its application to all contemporary activities and relationships, to be a preacher of both individual and national righteousness, like Amos, Micah, or Isaiah, impressing always the ancient text:
"That which is altogether just shalt thou do, that thou mayest live," and to inspire and lead men to apply that rule to their daily public life, as suggested, for instance, in the fine words of Mr. Gladstone, when he said, "That which is morally wrong cannot be politically right."
Moreover, the prophet is needed in every age, because, as a matter of fact, it is through inspiring and uplifting personalities of the prophetic type that every great forward movement in human history is set going and sustained. Again and again, as we read the record of human advancement, we are moved to say, "See how a great prophet has risen up among men, and God has visited His people," and therefore it is that teachers of religion are especially called upon to cultivate the prophetic office of the Church of God in regard to all the various departments of the common life.
This view, when simply stated in general terms, meets with general acceptance and is even commended and applauded; but when we endeavor to carry it into practice in public affairs it is apt to meet with a different reception.
The prophet, or preacher of righteousness, claiming to base his exhortations or protests on Divine Law, is not, as a rule, a popular character.
The opportunist, whether in Church or State, does not like his utterances. The man of prophetic conviction and courage is apt to be jeered at as a pedant or a prig, or an impractical philosopher, or a sentimental philanthropist; and yet the fact remains that the men of this type, and not the opportunists, are and have always been the true salt of their society, or rather let us say they are the Promethean torchbearers, who bring fresh gifts of Divine fire into the life of men, generation by generation.
But, to pass on to the next point re
ferred to above, we also need much more systematic teaching of ethics in their application to citizenship. It is a very long time since the Greek philosopher said ἄνθρωπος φύσει πολιτικὸν Cov-man is by nature a social creature-and yet our social and political ethics are still in practice quite rudimentary.
There is, it might be alleged, hardly a school in England, including even Eton itself, which has been for so many generations the great nursery of our public men, in which we could find any adequate manual setting forth in detail the principles of social and political ethics in regular and general use, or any systematic course of instruction in such subjects given and enforced with the needful reiteration throughout the growing, impressible, characterforming years of early life.
A man of large and varied practical experience, and, it may be added, of rare prophetic insight and high enthusiasm, Dr. Paton, of Nottingham, feeling this need of greater attention to higher ethical training, has within the last year or two pressed on some of those charged with the education given in elementary schools (and the need is quite as great in higher schools), the duty of doing more than is systematically done to touch the imagination and the emotions of the young in regard to all the nobler elements of life and character.
He would have, for instance, in every elementary school, what he calls a Boys' Guild of Honor, in which the chief elements of high character, such as courage, truth, self-command, purity, generosity, chivalry, public spirit, should be systematically set before the boys and impressed on them as elements of life in which they should rejoice and strive to excel.
"In addition to the religious teaching," he says, "I desire to see much more direct and emphatic moral teach
ing of the best kind in our schools. Such teaching should appeal to the imagination and the feelings, which are the great factors of conduct, and should deal with the actual relations of life at home, in work, in companionship and in all civic relationships."
Here we are reminded of the very suggestive and noble efforts of Mr. G. F. Watts, R.A., and all who are familiar with the routine of our school education in any grade of school will agree that such suggestions and efforts are, to say the least, very opportune.
In conclusion, it may be urged that we need in all the chief centres of our national life a great deal more of the influence of ethical societies.
The function of such a society is twofold. It acts as a school of study for the select few, who thus do something to keep alive and bright the sacred fire of ethical illumination and advancement. But the needs of the nation ask of us a great deal more than this.
If such societies are really to fulfil their mission, they must, like Socrates, carry their teaching into the marketplace, so as to make it heard and make its power felt in all the practical activities of the national life.
In proportion to our need amid the blinding, traditional, materialistic and selfish influences that are continually acting on men, in a complex industrial and commercial civilization, is the greatness of the benefit which such societies may bestow upon the community; and it may be taken as beyond question that one of our special needs is a far more systematic propaganda of social and political ethics, a propaganda led, informed, directed by a central ethical association, with its active local branches in all the great centres of provincial life; and all of them making it their aim to inspire the teaching of the young, to supply suitable manuals, of instruction, to leaven public opinion, especially the opinion of