Contributions of races may be evil as well as good--Women's work a beneficent modern contribution--Effects of Christendom on Africa, India, Burmah--Possible merits and defects of Chinese race--South America--The Slav--Three great religious forces--Dreams--The new Renaissance--Possible concentration of good and evil--Redemption of all creation.
It is natural for us to consider the subject of this book as being chiefly the good contribution of all races to the Body of Christ, but the student of world-wide movements will not forget that there are always two streams meeting in the contact of race with race. As a rule, the swifter of the two conveys the evil we possess, the better influence lags behind. It may be, therefore, that there is a double reason for our effort to appraise the value of the beneficent contribution of great races to the Church, since we may have already absorbed the turbid flood, and we justly call, and all the more loudly, for the pure river of influence. I know not how this may be. Surveying the whole history of the Bible, we are brought face to face, first, in the older Dispensation, with the evil brought to Israel by contact with others; in due time, the chosen race gave back its splendid revenge. We have often weighed the evils as well as the gifts of Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Teutons, and Anglo-Saxons, as they have affected the Church, and we may note their effects to-day. Can the [xxxvii/xxxviii] same be said already of Africa, India, China, Japan? It is a subject requiring more knowledge than I possess. But assuredly the influence of India upon our people in the last two centuries must have been enormous, filtering through all classes. Has it left a stain as well as a blessing? In a less degree, we may ask the question of China and Japan. Has all this intercourse brought the nations in reality nearer together? Have vices of the Bast had more effect upon the West than the virtues? Has life in the tropics lowered the moral tone of the life of our] people in temperate climes? It is part of the great problem of "the contribution" which must be weighed by those competent to do it.
The most hopeful new factor in the contribution of the Church to other races will come, in the twentieth century, through the ministry of women. That is, it will be new in the volume of its effort. Nothing is more cheering to the Christian statesman than the certainty that he will have in vastly increased measure this potent engine as a means of grace to the nations. At present we have used the coarser sex almost as if it were the only sex God needed; this has been almost wholly the case if wo eliminate the work of the last fifty years. The day is coming when in some lands the white staff may be more upon the scale of the workers in an English parish--4 priests, 50 laymen, 200 women; and it is difficult to say where such an accession of women's work will be most in place, whether among the beautiful mannered races of India or among child peoples.
It is not only that Christian men of every race need Christian wives if they are to grow in grace, nor that women can alone work among women in many a land, but that women may be required as an indispensable influence upon the men of any race before they yield to the call of the Gospel.
[xxxix] In Africa the impact of the white man, and therefore presumably of Christendom, has, during the last twenty years, resulted in one of the noblest and one of the vilest achievements in the history of that continent. Let any ono read the two books, "England in Egypt" and "Red Rubber," and say whether my language is not amply justified. Nothing nobler has ever been done in any land than the record of England in Egypt, and you may search the annals of the slave trade for anything worse than the horrors of the Congo. The two pictures must be placed side by side if we are to weigh the effect of Europe on Africa of late years. Speaking more generally, I fear it is true that although the slave trade has virtually been abolished, the drink trade took its place. A man once told me that he had sailed from an European port in a large vessel, whose cargo for West Africa consisted almost wholly of that vilest of liquors which has been called "distilled damnation," and whose passengers consisted wholly of missionaries. Things are better now, and these damaging statements do not refer at all to some regions of Africa, which may still be called the distressful land, although some of the best Christian work in the world is being done in it. Africa is so vast, so little connected, that it hardly seems to possess a voice to tell of its own contribution to the Body of Christ in days to come. It is for this reason that there is no article in this book dealing actually with Africa proper.
One manifest effect of the Church's advance in this continent has been the challenge given in return by Islam. Nowhere to anything like the same extent has that opposing trumpet been sounded so clearly as in Africa; the result of the battle cannot be foretold till we know how fully the Christian cause will be taken up. But however strong the Church's forward movement may be, there are natural causes which make for temporary [xxxix/xl] success on the part of Islam. Were we dealing with a highly educated race we might assert confidently that the Time-Spirit is against the Moslem cause unless it becomes simply a modern form of Unitarianism. Dealing as it does in Africa almost entirely with child races in different stages of progress, the issue is more serious for the Faith of the Gospel in the near future.
The initial difficulty with so many African races is that one is tempted to bring them only into the Old Testament first, to keep them, for example, at Mount Sinai for some length of time with no more than a glimpse of the Saviour of the world, for the express purpose of teaching them holy fear as a necessary preparation for love of His Holy Name. How to pass over this initial stage in lands where the bad side of so-called Christendom is much in evidence without encouraging a superficial type of Christianity is one of the perplexing problems of this continent. At present outsiders complain that the Faith has only succeeded in making Africans troublesome, unmanageable, inflated with ideas unsuited for them. The accusation is true exactly in the same sense that English boys of fifteen or sixteen are felt to have come to an age which is uncomfortable for sober parents in middle life. The effect on Africa of Christendom is at present like that of leaven in the loaf when only one-third of the time permitted for baking has elapsed.
India, so far as the educated class is concerned, is feeling the effect of Western ideas of liberty, and the Church has added its quota to the same movement. In religion observers tell us that there is among the same class a turning, albeit often unconscious, towards a theistic attitude of mind. Perhaps, as part of the same effect, educated Indian thought certainly does not now adopt a contemptuous tone towards the Faith of the Gospel, [xl/xli] but is just so much impressed by it as is shown by references in newspapers which praise the Christian standard of public life: and in their more religious writings the Indian is anxious to prove that Hinduism accepts all that is vital in the Christian Faith. History repeats itself. Nor can we doubt that the existence in India of men and women for centuries who have come to give their best and to take nothing must have had a deep effect. The growing wisdom of these men and women in their dealings with Hindus and Moslems, has mitigated a good deal of the veiled opposition to missions by English civilians which is one of the most strange phenomena of British Christianity.
The effect of the Faith of Christ in quickening Hinduism and Mohammedanism into greater activity is paralleled by the same result on Buddhism in Ceylon and Burmah; for the missions of Christendom are no longer a negligible quantity anywhere. There is, of course, a certain reflex action on our own race. We hear of a Moslem mosque in Liverpool under the charge of an Englishman who has embraced Islam. We have Englishmen in Burmah and Ceylon who are preaching neo-Buddhism; and a certain section of English people play with Oriental cults as an improvement upon the Gospel message. We are well accustomed to these eddies in the stream. The Christian philosopher has often found consolation in the trite reflection that there is no limit to the eccentricity of the human mind. Events may prove that the steady pouring into India of the influence of the Gospel, albeit it seems to be absorbed and to disappear, may soon have astounding effects in a land where every man naturally waits for his neighbour to take the lead; and what has been said in a book on Egypt may be true of India: "What seemed incredible was dismissed as impossible. In estimating [xli/xlii] probabilities east of Suez, there are few surer ways than this of inviting disaster."
I have on my own part determined to treat movements in the Far East, religious as well as political, more and more with the sympathy expressed by silence. In the case of Japan wholly so: and in regard to China, the same feeling grows upon me. I shall content myself with making the following observation--
The Chinese race has always seemed to me to possess qualities singularly akin to our own. And of all the great races of the earth, I have an uneasy feeling that this race may feed one of our own racial weaknesses, namely, the tendency to be content with conduct which does not rest upon definite belief in the unseen. All of us are familiar with the stock remarks of a certain section of us, "What does it matter what you believe or don't believe so long as your life is right?" "We are all going the same way, what does it signify what we believe?" In a mining township in the Antipodes, the accepted religious attitude generally is, "Give every one a show from Eoman Catholics to Salvation Army. They are all equally good." It may be nothing but my own ignorance, but I watch with wonder the course of a race which for thousands of years has reverenced more than any one else the teacher who told them not to trouble about the unseen, but to be content to fix their eyes on conduct. What is to be their attitude in the future towards Christian dogma? Are they to throw their influence into what many Churchmen call the undenominational scale, satisfied with a Christian belief expressed by the least possible common denominator, so long as conduct is respectable? I may be quite wrong. It may be that the Chinese race has precisely the same love for facts as we have, and may stand shoulder to shoulder with us as we repeat S. Paul's words, "If Christ hath not been raised your faith is vain."
[xliii] There is one mysterious continent, South America. I so style it because here only in the world does there seem to be forming a new race, composed of Southern Europeans and of the ancient inhabitants of the region in question. What is to be its place in the world and in the Church?
There is one mysterious race--the Slav. Philosophers, novelists, journalists discourse on its qualities, its unexpected depths and limitations. More and more they affirm that it is Eastern not Western in disposition, but living on the boundary line. All hold the opinion that it has a great future: some prophesy that it and it alone will compete with the Anglo-Saxon for world power. What will be its effect on the side of Christendom? At present it is not a force in proportion to its vast reserve strength. The three greatest religious forces in the world possessing aggressive power, are two sections of Christendom, the Eoman and the Anglo-Saxon on one side, and Islam on the other. And it is interesting to note that Islam is a debased form of Old Testament Judaism. The twentieth century is the battle ground.
I now proceed to do what the Englishman hates. He is proud of working hard all day and sleeping soundly all night without visions. Here, then, my Introduction comes to an end so far as a large part of my own race is concerned. I am about to dream.
Pass on to the day when every race in the world is more Christian than non-Christian. Some will say, in that case, "then cometh the end." It may be so, but it is not the vision I behold. I return to the subject upon which I have already touched--what will happen when the Body made up of all races is complete? It is obvious that we shall then understand how it is that races differ. Advance in forms of life means greater specialization of functions. Weshall no longer dream of mixing races of [xliii/xliv] men wholly dissimilar any more than we should attempt by any process to change the foot into the hand or the eye. In order to attain this end it may be right to confine each race to its own territory, not from aversion or race prejudice but for the opposite reason, in order to get the full value of the functions of each race by keeping the strain pure. We shall look with surprise at the efforts once made to Anglicize the East, or to convert into some new type the customs, manners and dress of the north, south, and middle regions of the world. The notes of the octave are scattered over the earth: let us collect them, combine them, give each its full weight, and listen to the strain with all its parts complete. In this sense, but only in this, we shall believe in one full note of humanity. I ask, what will be the powers of such a humanity? Even in the realm of the highest Christian truth there seems to be a reality to which the great mystic of the New Testament refers when he gives us the message of the Lord, "I will write upon him mine own new name." Is it possible that here on this earth when each race has pressed the full meaning out of such names as, Saviour, Master, Friend, Shepherd, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Advocate, some other name will unfold itself the sound of which has not yet reached us because it cannot be comprehended? I dream of the new song, the new heaven and the new earth to be realized when humanity is Christian.
But it is not only in the domain of the wholly spiritual that the Church of Christ looks for marvels. I ask whether we ought not to expect a new Renaissance, greater intellectually than the world has yet experienced, as the result of the full Christian consciousness compacted of the contribution of all races? The noblest products of pre-Christian learning we possess, the gropings also after God under some inspiration but [xliv/xlv] without what we call revelation, Greek, Roman, Indian, Chinese The liberation of thought and the meeting of European teaching in one focus we have already experienced; and it has become one of the great landmarks in the history of human thought. But does the Christian Church, still fettered as it is, and with victories only half won, merely look back to these landmarks? Has it no hope of a greater age? Poetry, printing, science, blossomed afresh in the sixteenth century in Europe. What is to be the effect of the contact of the human life of all the continents when they meet in the Body of Christ with every faculty hallowed by tho Spirit? Artists say at present that all the lines of beauty are now known. There is no curve, no further style of architecture to be discovered; that in sculpture, painting, and music, the great types are well known already. Can this be true till the complete Christian humanity has been born? Surely that is a force as little known as electricity was a hundred and fifty years ago.
We have been taught that one or other of two forces may be expected to produce a new era in human life: a fresh intermixture of blood producing a new race, and a new religion. In a sense the Eenaissance acted like a new religion since it freed the human mind from an incubus, and affected every avenue of thought. The focussing of all human life in one Christian Church would be in a sense the creation of a fuller religion, because it would be the interpretation of the facts of the Gospel from every human point of view. It is good at least to hope: whose ideals should be so glorious as those of the Church of Christ which cannot die, and for whom the best is always in front? If there is any truth in my dream then we may gradually be approaching an age in comparison with which nothing that has happened even in the last five hundred years can be set down; a [xlv/xlvi] greater Renaissance, a more complete change in human character and ideals than those made by printing, or the steam-engine and electricity, a new dimension of human life. Shall we possess a greater poet than Shakespeare, because the sympathetic imagination and insight of man will have been developed by the spiritual contribution of every race acting as one?
The finest thought of man at present in architecture is only racial--Eastern or Western. Even Christianity has only been working fragmentarily. Will it work soon as one whole? In colour and form is not the great painter still to come? We have nearly lost the capacity of producing great sacred pictures, and for comprehensible reasons, but is it not because we are preparing for a new birth of sacred art? Most of all should this be true of music and of poetry. It may be produced by one of two opposite causes--either by the age of peace, or else by the age when the great camps of good and evil will be both of them more concentrated. However it may be, the union of races in the Church ought to elicit from the heart of men music of sound and of song with a new note in it. My dreams take me even into the region of Government. Is there a new form of human Government awaiting realization? We have experience of monarchy, oligarchy, democracy, autocracy, and combinations of them. In chemistry certain ingredients combine and create a new substance. As stones laid together make not merely a heap of stone but a house, so the Builder of the Church may reveal to us a new thing in the ordering of man's life in all its departments, the rule of the Father of all men more fully at work on earth. This Body grows all the more healthily when it is being built up contemporaneously in all lands, the effect of each limb on every other acting and reacting all the time.
Such visions, however, are not the limit of our thoughts [xlvi/xlvii] for the future. Behind the redemption of humanity there is a glimpse given us by the Apostle of the Gentiles of a greater thing, the redemption of Creation. It is wonderful how that great man has forestalled our most striking modern ideas in contemplating the unity of Creation, and of a force great enough to bring it all into line. Such possibilities, however much they fill us with delight, may yet be classified as beyond praying for, because they are beyond our understanding. It is in such a category that we must place this part of the Christian dream of the future. We cannot understand what the redemption of all life means, including vegetation and sea and .land, and all of what we consider to be inanimate nature. In some mysterious sense a change is to pass over all creation, and their songs of praise when they become vocal are already indicated in the Apocalypse. The very words are given, first, of Nature's praise by itself without man, then of man without the rest of Nature, then is given the crash of music from all Creation animate and inanimate when it joins in one voice to bless the Creator's name in such language as, "Unto Him that sitteth on the throne and unto the Lamb be the blessing" and the honour and the glory and the dominion for ever and ever." The vision of the future, however bright it may be, has also its sombre side. I see no prospect of the disappearance of evil so long as our present conditions of life continue. What may be the end of all in a life not of faith but of sight, no one can pretend to foretell at present: however bright part of the vision may be the remainder is more dark. Nothing seems to avail further than to banish evil from this place or that, but evil is not killed. So far as we know, sin began in the sight of God and chose to be evil with full knowledge of what good was: so in dealing with mankind the Church will never lay down its arms in this stage of life. Men have [xlvii/xlviii] long ago given up the theory that knowledge killed evil because evil was ignorance. Upon the contrary, know-lodge may be excellent food for the evil organism: civilization may only refine it to a more delicate point, as Dean Church has shown us in one of his immortal sermons. The effect of the victories of the Cross on earth seems to be to throw back evil into a more concentrated form. Sir Ian Hamilton in his diary of the Eusso-Japanese war writes suggestively of his growing conviction that the Eussian army, as it fell back, was becoming more and more like cotton wool compressed into a tighter space and displaying an increasing capacity for resistance. The experience of the Church of God on earth will be, I think, in the same direction. Already in some regions of the earth men tell us that it is becoming increasingly difficult to be "neither hot nor cold," to maintain a neutral position and to make the best of both worlds; good and evil are concentrating themselves into rival camps. Men are no longer ashamed of confessing that they have no belief in God or devil, and of living wholly outside the unseen and for self alone. On the other hand never was there an age which could produce so many saints as this of ours, men and women who have wholly chosen the good and with a vision of God the revealer of good. The presence of Christ Himself on earth only made certain men who beheld Him gnash their teeth more fiercely, and desire to kill Him without delay. So it may be that the noblest age for man on earth may be coupled with the sternest warfare with evil, each side more fully armed and disciplined. The only course open to us is the highly characteristic English one--to accept all the facts and to walk bravely and hopefully in the light we possess. Any one may walk in the light--but he is the true soldier who is prepared to walk on in half darkness or temporarily in utter absence of light for Mankind and the Church.