The three following addresses give a most rough and unsatisfactory expression to important truth.
I regret extremely that I have not had time to re-write them. But because of the truth so unworthily suggested, and because of the patient kindness of the Editor of this volume, I must refrain from destroying the papers.
They can only stand here without injury to the good work of others, under the shelter of the condition which makes each contributor to this book responsible for his own faults alone.
P. N. WAGGETT.
"God setteth the solitary in families." Psalm lxviii. 6.
"Yet helpeth He the poor out of misery, and maketh Him households like a flock of sheep." Psalm cvii. 41.
IN the second of these verses two good things are brought together. In one of them we all believe. The other we may profitably consider as a great condition of the first. It is unity of work made possible by common order, or Co-ordination.
In the Christian "Social Union we all desire, according to our small power, to help the poor out of misery. Therefore it is good for us to reflect upon God's way of doing this. He helpeth the poor out of misery by making Himself households like a flock of sheep. Our subject then this morning shall be Co-ordination as one of the true marks of progress. It is only one of those marks. For there are many tests of progress besides those we are about to consider, and some of these others will be in our minds, while we leave them in silence in order to concentrate attention upon a selected few.
Here are three true marks of Progress:--
(2) Individual liberty.
(3) Care of the rising generation. [It was found that the first subject named required the time designed for two. Consequently the third subject was not treated.]
I do not believe in any progress which is not marked by these three features, and I submit to you that they are necessary and true tests of Progress.
1. When Progress takes place many changes may accompany it. Such are the accumulation of material resources; the enlargement of territorial empire; an increase, both in extension and in intensity, of the power of knowledge; the elaboration of culture and art. But all these things, though they may in certain circumstances contribute to progress, do not belong to its essence. They may be present where progress is absent, and some of them, at least, may be absent where progress is very real.
Although there is probably not one person here who thinks that these things are sufficient tests of progress; there is also probably not one person present who does not behave as if they were. We all know that we shall not advance simply by accumulating money or other resources, yet we are not sufficiently careful to avoid giving credit by our actions to a theory of progress which we reject in thought.
If accumulation of treasure were a true test of progress, the Incas of Peru would appear to have been among the greatest of sovereigns. If extension of territory be a sufficient mark of progress, then Cetewayo and Lobengula were greater rulers far than Pericles. Extension of rule is not by itself a test of progress. We are not advancing because we paint the map red, although we may be advancing while we paint the map red. The Russian Empire grows rapidly. The Ambassador of Russia was once congratulated on the fact that his master's empire was as large as the moon. Yes, was the answer, but Russia grows and the moon does not. That growth is seldom checked, but it may be questioned whether it has always been a symbol and a result of human progress.
With regard to knowledge we are in a different position. Growth of knowledge comes very near to being a genuine test of progress, and it is doubtful whether there can be progress without a growth of knowledge. But it is not to be doubted that there may be a growth of knowledge without progress. Knowledge may grow in two respects--in extension and in intensity. It may grow by the acquisition of larger and richer fields of fact; and it may grow by penetrating more deeply the facts which are studied and illuminating what seem avenues to remoter secrets of existence. But the growth of knowledge in both these respects may take place without any genuine progress, and a state or nation in which knowledge in a certain sense flourishes may yet be on a downward slope and passing to ruin--a ruin which will not be less complete because it will carry in its sweep historians and critics perfectly able to describe the features and trace the causes of a disaster which they share with the thoughtless and the unlearned.
We shall not, then, accept great stores of wealth, we shall not accept broad tracts of territory, we shall not accept even the growing light of knowledge as in themselves infallible tests of progress, although we shall affirm that the last comes much nearer the true test than any other we have named. Indeed, if knowledge fully deserved its name, I suppose it would be inseparable from progress; for really to know is really to love, and it is in love and in the growth of love that we shall find the sure measure of progress.
2. For progress must always be measured and be measurable in terms of spirit. Only so far as we know that spirit grows are we sure that progress exists. Only if we can say that spirit is growing faster than before can we say that there is an acceleration of progress. Progress is always capable of being described in terms of spirit, and it is patient of measurement in units of spirit.
This statement may alarm those who think that spirits are to be observed only by magical vision, and the spiritual world entered only in trance, and studied by remote suggestions and hints rising from those parts of our being which are usually below the threshold of consciousness. But the primary exhibition of spirit for us is its exhibition in man. The spirits which are nearest to us are those which are or have been clothed in flesh. To us a reality which is measurable in spirit is measurable in terms of human life, for God Himself is now Man. There are other regions of spiritual creation where spiritual growth must be measured in terms of some other spiritual life, but for us it is a growth of human life, human life more abundant, of larger, freer movement, and of higher bliss. Other things being equal, progress is promoted when there are simply more men and more women. We cannot secure advance by making lives more numerous at the expense of their quality. But if the quality is secure, then mere growth in numbers is spiritual advance. If men are good, then there is advance when more men live. If virtue stands at any rate at the old high level and is not receding, then, if there are more women, there is spiritual advance. If there is love, joy, peace among children, then there is spiritual advance if there are more children. Other things being equal, what we want is more of human life.
(3) But to make our test practical, we must remember the quality and the direction of the growth. Our physical life may easily grow in more than one direction. It does not give one much satisfaction to grow, for example, laterally. Moral growth also may be a growth of girth, like the growth of an Emeritus American chief, who, having done his turn of hunting and fighting, sits on his cushions to grow stouter for the admiration of his tribe. Well, there are moral natures which have thus grown more massive without growing better. There have been great men who have also been very great scoundrels. Progress must be growth in those elements of human life which alone endure and are worth having; love, helpfulness, truth, righteousness, in one word, holiness; that is, in the likeness to God which comes from the approach to God. And our progress will consist in receiving larger and larger supplies of the Divine life itself so as to approach to a perfect coincidence with Him, that He may be in us, and we in Him.
(4) God has given us a signal of this growth in the emotions and in the activities of love. If we are to grow, we must grow in God; if we grow in God, we shall grow in love.
(5) If we grow in love it will not be in thought and word only, though these contribute, but in act. "Little children, let us love one another, not in word, but in
(6) And so at last we come to our point for to-day. This growth in love by deed is secured by larger and larger Co-ordination. (The simpler word 'Fellowship,' on many grounds to be preferred, hardly carries the full sense.)
Now how does Co-ordination grow?
To begin with, it grows by a simple extension and increase of fellowship, when more persons are joined together, and joined together more closely. That is its first and primitive method. When two men learn how to make three company, there is an instance of progress. The man who says, "Two is company, and three none," is impoverished and destitute in spirit. He is a progressive man who can span in a third. If the three can span in three hundred, if the twelve can span in hundreds (as the twelve who first followed Jesus did), if the number of men taken into fellowship can be counted by thousands, then there a robust and powerful spirit of love is present. It is both exhibited and secured---not only manifested, but also developed--in the simple operation of taking more and more men into company. The mere accumulation of souls is progress, up to a point.
This simplest growth brings various advantages. Larger fellowship is to be desired, first, (a) in order that the goods we possess may be more justly shared because more universally distributed. Let us not be bewildered by that word "justice." It is true, and the truth is of vital importance, that the zeal of reformers often produces harm instead of the good they desire, and the failure is most often due to forgetfulness of justice. But in matter of distribution justice depends upon universality. There is no just distribution which leaves somebody out, however small his share may justly be. When all is said and done, universality of distribution belongs to the essence of justice. We shall refuse to believe in any highly refined type of social distribution which professes to be more exactly "just," while it fails to ensure that none lack. A greater freedom and fulness of fellowship will secure and will consist in the careful distribution of the goods which are available, and these will be of all kinds: home and family; chance of marriage; opportunities of improvement for the children; enlarged culture; openings for religion; wider and freer communication. All this will require greater generosity in those who have, a stricter fidelity in those who are brought into responsibility by being allowed to share the power and resources which are present in the community.
For, further, the growing fellowship will secure (b) a more perfect introduction of individuals to the life of the society, by a process corresponding with the distribution of resources. More of the people are effectively brought into the State as more of the State powers are entrusted to the people. In this country it was the work of Mr. Gladstone to commit a large part of the powers of the State to those who formerly had no share in them; and while he was doing this he was thereby doing the greater work of bringing in to the fabric of the State those who formerly contributed nothing to its strength. To give out the responsibility, to draw in the fibre of manhood, is a second advantage of growing fellowship.
(c) Further, we need the larger assembling of the human powers for this reason, that there are no 'extra' men. There are no supernumeraries in the world. God has made no rough galley-proofs to be looked at and cast aside. God has published no essays of His Omnipotence which are to be withdrawn from circulation, or which need not be read. Every man's life is a plan of God; it is a plan to be studied, and which all the rest need. There is no part unnecessary. No functionless flying buttresses are added to the temple of God to give variety to its outlines. They are all built to resist a strain. And if one of them is weakened, be sure the building suffers, though you see not how. Each is needed, and all are needed. Each is needed to do his particular part, to fulfil his particular function; and can fulfil it only in combination.
And mark this, further, all are needed together to cure one evil which lurks in the smallest member. In the physical body, the cure of an ache in a finger-tip requires the co-operation of every tissue of the body. Every organ of our frame must co-operate to cure the smallest ill, and if one part be left out of this work of healing, the injured member must so far remain unhealed. In perfect health, every organ must bring its contribution to the rest of the body, and even of the cells which compose the tissues it may be said that all the myriads, minus one, are needed to cure the distemper of the one which, with the rest, completes the whole.
This is the manner also of our moral life. The doctrine and fact of grace ought not to obscure the truth that all mankind is needed to save every part of mankind; yea, all existence is needed to heal every part of existence which stands in need. God Almighty worketh through all, through angels and archangels, through all powers and principalities, through the holy men who have passed to their rest, by the united prayer and love of the great Church of God throughout all ages. He worketh in solitary omnipotence, yet in manifold expression, for the cure of every member which He hath set in the rich and various unity of the spiritual body.
The Holy Incarnation is the supreme exhibition of this law. For our Lord God, willing to heal mankind, hath taken mankind into Himself, and heals it by all God. This is a great truth of the spiritual life. All that exists is needed to heal anything which exists, however small and humble the suffering element, however little or trifling the distemper. It takes all Christ to heal one soul. It takes all God to heal one genuine spiritual pain. It takes the Almighty, the Unutterable, to cleanse the smallest of our sins, to relieve the most passing depression, to give us the briefest moment of true peace. You are never yourself, but by the operation of the Lord God, Who throws into the current of your life all the health which is in the entire body, so that in Him you may find your true relation to all His creatures, and theirs to you.
And in our smaller sphere the same law holds. All the knowledge of all who know is required to enlighten the ignorance of one ignorant child. All the wisdom of all the wise is needed to correct the foolishness of the foolish. All the virtue of all the good must be enlisted to lift up those who are in servitude to Satan. All the purity of all the pure is needed to calm and heal the fever of the vicious. All the hope of all who hope must lift up the depression of the cowards. All the love of all the lovers must be brought to redress and reverse and abolish the tyrannies and the indignities which are inflicted upon human nature by the cruelty of the selfish and the unloving. There is no spark of spiritual life to spare. And this is a further reason why progress must carry with it, as a beginning, the simple assembling of all who are available.
Here, for to-day, we may pause. We recognise that for progress fellowship must grow so as to include all the people that can be recruited. To-morrow we will see that they must be grouped in order that progress may continue. For true growth is not a mere aggregation. What we want is a perpetually advancing order by which units are combined in systems each greater than the last; that which was once sufficient as an end, taking, in turn, its place as a starting point for a further adventure of fellowship, not by a simple multiplication of members, but by wider connections with other fellowships which are in themselves relatively complete, while all go to form one great system which, as it advances towards completion, begins to demand its place and its task in a reality which still stretches beyond it.