« ForrigeFortsæt »
to develop character in the individual but to make the law of Christ a positive force in the direction and government of society. If this be accepted as the end to be attained, to limit ourselves to exhortation is to render the accomplishment of our purpose forever impossible; for it must not be forgotten that we live in a society adjusted to the requirements of competition, and that in such a society men who produce goods most cheaply, no matter what methods they may have adopted to attain cheapness, will gain our patronage. This is true because it is practically impossible for purchasers to know the conditions under which goods are produced, and to confine their purchases to the men who, as producers, follow the rules which justice and equity require. This, perhaps, was possible when society was simple and local in character, as for example, in England in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; it is, however, impossible now that industrial conditions are cosmopolitan and complex. In the fact thus brought to our notice do we find an explanation of the curious paradox, that the more effective the persuasion of religious teachers who confine their teaching to exhortation, and who devote all their energies to persuade men to live rightly, the more rapid will be the deterioration of business society "For, since the result of such persuasion must be a renunciation by men of delicate consciences of the great business opportunities, society will tend to take upon itself the moral tone of the most unscrupulous." This result, indeed, has already been reached. The actual business conduct of men at the present time is conformed to the rule of the Justinian digest, which says: "In purchase and sale it is naturally allowed to the contracting parties to try to over-reach each other," and in so doing disregards the rule of Christ, which says: "Whatever ye would that, men should do to you do ye also
unto them." The former is the heathen rule of conduct, the latter is the Christian rule of conduct, and it is not too much to say that in business affairs the commercial spirit of the nineteenth century is essentially heathen.
What then is the Christian business man to do? Can he renounce business? Nothing, to my mind, deserves greater censure than such a suggestion The life of the hermit is not the life which Jesus intended a man to live. A man may be selfish even in the pursuit of holiness, and consequently never attain holiness. But of more importance is the thought that one who withdraws from business affairs cannot hope to exert any influence upon them, and the theme we are discussing this morning is how the rule of Christian conduct may become a social force. It is, indeed, an exceedingly difficult rôle the Christian, as a business man, is called upon to assume. For, while holding strenuously to the highest law so far as faith is concerned, he is obliged to conform in large measure to the rules of conduct adopted by those with whom he has business dealings. He is obliged to accept moral dualism, not only as inevitable, but under the legal conditions and commercial customs of the times, as in the highest degree moral. What makes him a follower of Jesus is not his refusal to recognize that in a business transaction, "each contracting party tries to over-reach the other," but his recognition that this is at variance with the law of Christ. He is justified in protecting his own interests by the methods which the law calls honest; but if he be a Christian he will assign to himself, as the highest aim of life, the task of doing what he may to so change laws and modify customs that the old Christian conception of a just price, and the modern Christian conception of equal opportunities for all, may become a realized fact. Not until then will the neces-
sity for moral dualism pass away, and not until then can the law of Christ exert its full influence as a social force and bestow all the blessings of which it is capable.
I am painfully aware of the imperfect manner in which I have presented to you what is suggested in this paper, and I appreciate fully how dangerous it is to advocate dualism in matters of conduct; all I ask is that you consider this suggestion carefully, and should it meet your approval, and should you purpose to carry it with you into the busy lives that await you, that you apply it with that conscientious care which. marks a lover of truth.
CHRISTIANITY AND DEMOCRACY
PROF. JOHN DEWEY
Delivered March 20, 1892.
Looked at from the outside, a religion seems to be a cult and a body of doctrine. It seems to be a cult; that is, a collection of specific acts to be performed, and of special ideas to be cherished in consciousness. The acts, the cult, may be more or less prescribed, more or less detailed, more or less formal, but some special acts there must be. It is these acts which have religious meaning, which are worship, while other acts are outside the pale, are secular, or profane, commercial or merely moral-they are not communion with God. So, too, the dogmas, the doctrine, may be more or less narrow, more or less rigid, but it seems there must be some special body of ideas set up and apart as belonging to the religious consciousness, while other ideas are scientific, or artistic, or industrial. This is the appearance. Research into the origin and development of religion destroys the appearance. It is shown that every religion has its source in the social and intellectual life of a community or race. Every religion is an expression of the social relations of the community; its rites, its cult, are a recognition of the sacred and divine significance of these relationships. The religion is an expression of the mental attitude and habit of a people; it is its reaction, æsthetic and scientific, upon the world in which the people finds itself. Its ideas, its dogmas and mysteries are recogni
tions, in symbolic form, of the poetic, social and intellectual value of the surroundings. In time this significance, social and intellectual, is lost sight of; it is so thoroughly condensed in the symbols, the rites, the dogmas, that they seem to be the religion. They become an end in themselves. Thus separated from life they begin to decay; it seems as if religion were disintegrating. In reality, the very life, the very complexus of social and intellectual inter-actions which give birth to these forms, is already and continuously at work finding revelation and expression in more adequate relations and truths.
If there is no religion which is simply a religion, least of all is Christianity simply a religion Jesus had no cult or rite to impose; no specific forms of worship, no specific acts named religion. He was clear to the other side. He proclaimed this very setting up of special acts and institutions as part of the imperfections of life. "The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet in Jerusalem worship the Father. The hour cometh and now is when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" the hour when worship should be simply the free and truthful expression of man in his action. Jesus had no special doctrine to impose--no special set of truths labeled religions. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." The only truth Jesus knew of as religious was Truth. There were no special religious truths which He came to teach; on the contrary, his doctrine was that Truth, however named and however divided by man, is one as God is one; that getting hold of truth and living by it is religion. Dr. Mulford in his "Republic of God," holds that Christianity is not a religion at all, having no cult and no dogma of its own to mark it off from