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when he had it; buying shares in a gold mine on the instalment plan when there was no decent furniture in the house, no glass in many of the windows, and no suitable food or clothing for wife or children ; leaving his wife without wood to cut in zero weather; refusing the glass and putty offered by a neighbor when there were seventy-six broken panes of glass in the house. In tracing the real murder, not to the momentary deed of the desperate woman after a night of cruel abuse, but to the prolonged brutality of this beast of a husband, this minister not only did justice to the individuals immediately concerned, but rendered a great service in establishing right standards of judgment in the community, and pointing out the real sources of tens of thousands of life-long tragedies that go on all unsuspected in our country towns. It is no accident that the pastor of this church came to his pastorate fresh from the study of ethics and sociology in the graduate school of Harvard University.
In all these social applications of the Gospel, religion, or the binding of men in gratitude and obedience to the great good-will of God, is the church's one concern. The church should be the witness of the living God, who is as potent in the humblest farm, or shop, or kitchen, as he ever was in the creation of the world, or the pilgrimages of the patriarchs, or the escape of the children of Israel out of Egypt; the representative of the Christ of universal brotherhood, who is as intimately present to-day in the corn-fields of Kansas and the mines of Colorado and the slums of New York as he ever was on the hillsides of Galilee, or the fishing-boats of Gennesaret, or the Garden of Gethsemane; the embodiment of that holy spirit of kindly sensitiveness to others' rights, and tender sympathy for others' sorrows, and gentle charity for others' faults, which may be poured out as freely and fully and gloriously to-day, in the miner's hut in the Pennsylvania coal region, or the immigrant's cabin in the Minnesota wheat fields, as it was when devout men from every nation under heaven were all together in one place at Jerusalem on the historic Pentecost.
The besetting sin of ministers, the ever-present pitfall of the church, is mysticism, with its somnolent refrain, “Good-by, proud world, I'm going home," — the mood that, so long as a few elect saints are on good terms with God and with one another, makes little effort to prevent the rest of the world, with its society, politics, and business, from going straight to the devil. By its early New England traditions, and by its later achievements in Old England under the leadership of such men as Dr. Dale, Congregationalism is the sworn foe of all such effeminate nonsense. To be sure, the attempt of our New England Fathers to domineer over the details of public and private life by theocratic pretensions deservedly failed, just as every attempt to slide a false bottom into the infinite, whether in the form of a theocratic state, or an infallible church, or an unbroken apostolical succession, or an unchangeable creed, or mysteriously efficacious sacraments, or miraculously published Scriptures, or a divinely sanctioned polity, is bound to break itself to pieces against the hard facts of the world.
Yet, wrong as they doubtless were in some of their methods, the Fathers of Congregationalism were profoundly right in their aim. Substitute scientific knowledge for arbitrary exegesis, tact for authority, sympathy for censoriousness, persuasion for force, personal influence for ecclesiastical pretension, and public opinion for political constraint, and the program of the early New England Congregationalist, that the whole life of the town should be moulded and ordered according to the perfect will of God, is not too hard or high an ideal for the American Congregational church of to-day. To all temptations to be content with lower aims and easier victories, we must reply:
“ Great is the facile conqueror,
With blood and sweat,
Is greater yet.”
THE CHRISTIAN CITIZEN AND MUNICIPAL
REV. SAMUEL G. SMITH, ST. PAUL, MINN. Canon Freemantle has suggested an enlarged view of the church, associations for worship, family life, knowledge, art, social intercourse, trade, politics, and finally, the universal church of all the nations, the “Federation of Mankind." The suggestion of seven circles of organization, which shall each be regarded as distinctly
religious, marks a great change of conception as to the nature and function of the religious life, and is in harmony with the action of the committee in making municipal government one of the subjects for this Council.
Did time permit, it would be interesting to sketch the forms of social organization in the past, which illuminate the view of Canon Freemantle. Enough to say that in the ancient world the state and the church were identical, and religion failed to do its work because of the moral failure of Paganism. The domination of the state, attempted in medieval times, failed because of ambition, corruption, and ecclesiasticism. The Puritan states of Savonarola and Calvin failed from lack of moral perspective in precept, and from lack of reverence for freedom and democracy.
The so-called Hebrew “theocracy” and all forms of politicoreligious organizations are methods of progress by experiment and readjustment, until the world reaches at last its fical goal in the Christian commonwealth.
There is an ethical ground for all social progress. This fact furnishes the deeper reason for the relation of the Christian citizen to municipal government. The law, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," is not a thing of the letter, but of the spirit. Unless the man knows himself to be great, because he is a son of God, he will fail to live the law, though he give his body to be burned and his goods to feed the poor. The basis of the social order is the measure of personality. The deepest individualism in the world is that founded upon faith in the immortality of man and his personal accountability to God. No man can love his neighbor in the sense of Jesus unless he has first learned to reverence himself.
But the appreciation of individualism sets on fire the passion for a Christian society, because if one member suffer, all the members of the social body suffer with it. Contagious diseases in the slums spread their pestilence over a city on the wings of the wind. So a foul city government is the poison of every home, and an attack upon every form of industry. It is true that a virtuous people will make good institutions, but it is also true that good institutions make a favorable environment for the development of the best kind of people.
The problem of the city in American life, with its rapid growth, its contrasts of wealth and poverty, and the bad state of its politics, has been the theme of so much discussion that it needs no elaboration at this time. It may be worth reflection that the city is not incidental, but is characteristic of modern civilization. The rapid growth of cities marks the development of England, France, and Germany, no less than the United States. The increase of the social spirit, the necessities of modern industry, and the centripetal force of aggregation, make the cities and their highways the ganglia and spinal cord of every great nation.
Too much pessimism has already found expression with respect to cities. It is well to point out that all the higher interests of human culture are throned in the cities. It is there music, art, literature, and learning have their favorite seats. The human struggle for existence when intense makes for shame sometimes, but it also makes for glory. The great streams of human light and love which illuminate the world to-day have their deepest springs in the hearts and homes, the churches and institutions, of the great cities.
This consideration really intensifies the problem, for if the cities do so much being what they are, of what immense importance to society that every effort should be exerted to understand their needs, to master their forces by the power of good, and to make their thrones of greatness available in the regeneration of the world?
It will not do to say that the evils of American cities are due to their rapid growth and to their foreign population. These are the excuses usually offered by those who regard the present conditions as beyond remedy. It has already been noted that rapid growth is also characteristic of cities in all countries of intense civilization. This state of affairs is not purely American. But the foreign population come from countries in which cities are better governed than they are here, for it is agreed that our cities are the worst managed of all the great centres of population. Instead of the foreign population corrupting American cities, American cities are corrupting the foreign population. It may be pointed out also that a large percentage of foreigners in our cities lived in the rural districts in the land of their birth, and the only urban life they know is what they have found here.
Still less must it be concluded that American institutions may do for State and national administration, but that American liberty fails when applied to the complex situations that confront the rulers of cities. The National Municipal League has done good service in calling attention to some of the current vices in the very structure of city charters. The aim of institutions must be to reduce the strain upon human strength and human character. But the history of organization in American cities would seem to show that by a peculiar perversity their government is so organized that the best men can only secure tolerable results, while they should be so organized that average men could secure good results.
The Christian citizen, therefore, must be intelligent in the possibilities and limitations of city charters. He must seek such organization of cities as will increase their efficiency, and at the same time reduce the temptations of officials to the lowest terms. It will not be possible under our system of government to adopt the chief safeguard for the good administration of foreign cities. Without going into detail, this consists in the power of the general government to supervise their administrative functions, unify their methods, and remove corrupt or incompetent officials. The State governments and the constitution stand between us and such supervision.
The model American charter must be made under a general State law by the people who are to live under its provisions, reap its benefits, and suffer from its follies. Wherever cities are governed from the State legislature by special enactments, it will inevitably follow that noxious schemes will be railroaded through in the dark, and the people will be plundered. The mayor must be charged with the responsibility of appointing the heads of departments, and the council must determine the policy and vote the funds. All patronage must be taken from the council, and the people who vote the money must not be those who spend the money. The merit system must obtain in the appointment and removals from the municipal service, and the ward boss must be discouraged in the only way he can be effectively reached, and that is by cutting off all chance of booty as the result of his pernicious activity. The taxation of public franchises must be put in the fundamental law, so that civic corporations will have no reason for securing the election of their creatures to office. There are other things to be said under this head, but if these things are done, a revolution will follow in municipal life. Reform must also be had in the methods of party machinery, so that the people can control the caucuses, and these must be safeguarded so that no one shall vote unless he has a legal right, and then shall vote only once, and after that the vote shall be counted as cast.