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attain those things of which we thought ourselves worthy," a sentiment worthy of the sublime modesty of Pan-Germanism, but with the trifling difference, Cyrus had entered into his kingdom, whilst PanGermanism is only about to do so when we and a few other trifles are cleared out of the way. But do not think for one moment that we would class a hero like Cyrus with the modern treacherous exponents of the cult. Cyrus played the game. His was a world of war. His ethics were the ethics of the age-possession is to the strong. No other morality had ever been taught. “When Croesus for his glory showed Solon his great treasures of gold, Solon said to him, “If another king come that hath better iron than you, he will be master of all this gold.'”* That was the only law governing nations—the law of the strong.
And we pass from the kingdom of Cyrus, but still we find no change in the ethical conception of society. We pass through the great Greek era, with its marvellous poetry and art, but with no change in social idealism. The Greek demands freedom for himself, as every strong man has done, but he will not concede it. Look at the silver mines of Athens worked by slave labour. Was ever more appalling fate? Long narrow shafts in which to dig, and dig, until death released the victim. So with their subject cities and islands. Their rule was a tyranny as despotic as that of the Persian whose empire they had destroyed. Thus one conquering race comes and goes, all steps no doubt in the procession of humanity, but we see little demarcation between the epochs. There is little to differentiate between that old Babylonian monarchy and its mighty successors; the same law prevails, the law of brute force. But in some respects a subtle change seems to have been taking place--maybe the tale of civilization is being taken up by different races—and we leave man in the younger day of the world intense, fervent, enthusiastic, to find him become bored, agnostic, and
* Bacon's Apophthegms.
with little concern for higher things. What has your agnosticism done for you, demands the older Roman of the Greek, but to make you cowards and slaves ? But in the end the old Greek spirit has subdued its master, and we find the old order closing in, submerged in a sea of indifference. Probably no sentence more succinctly sums up the position than Gibbon's famous mot—“The people thought all religions equally true, the philosophers thought all equally false, and the magistrates thought all equally useful.” *
Yes, indeed, of indifference the veritable apotheosis. In its ideai, the teaching of Epicurus is no ignoble cult; in its degeneracy, its carpe diem, its “ let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die,” it has become a noxious exhalation to poison humanity. It is, as we are told of Athens by St. Paul, a world seeking some new thing when a new idea, new sensation, new thrill has become the summum bonum of existence in a life gone blasé. Victorious wars have so crowded the capital with captives and slaves that man is now of less account than the brute that perishes, and to tickle a jaded palate craving for excitement, nothing but the last dread terror itself will suffice:
I see before me the gladiator lie,
The arena swims around him, he is gone
* But only true for a comparatively short period of man's history.
† Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, iv., cxl., cxii.
Thus we ring down the curtain on the old world, militancy has reached its fulness, and the world is outraged. And now we hear the voice that has filled our age : “ Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?” And if this is true of the smallest of His creatures, shall it not be true of man? And now we hear the first whisper of democracy; it is its irresistible conclusion, MAN SHALL NO MORE EXPLOIT HIS FELLOW MAN. “Ye are of more value than many sparrows"; you are a man, you are one of God's own creatures.
In this society we rightly avoid all theological dogma, but “never spake man like this man ” is a world's verdict. Whether post hoc or propter hoc, whether prophet who makes his age, or prophet who voices his age, still here is the central fact with which we all agree, with that voice the birth of a new era is coincident. The reaction from militancy, the reaction from indifference has begun, never to end until the whole world, however it regard the teacher, shall accept the doctrine which He taught. Man shall not find his happiness in the exploitation of another's life is from henceforth to be the governing force of a new humanity.
But a lengthy period is to elapse before in its entirety this is to be accomplished. The seed thus sown is to fall into the ground and die, and many a.century is to come and go before the full harvest is garnered in; man has not yet learnt to be free; freedom is an idea wholly foreign to his conceptions, especially freedom for another, and time must elapse for so great a change in thought to mature and become a reality. And in this change the new faith is to play a great part. Man is no longer to be the chattel of his fellow, he is a living soul, one of God's own elect. Well was the faith preached, and with its propagation grew the ideal, that to hold another—a brother in the faith-in bondage, was an offence against heaven itself. But before freedom can become general, not only must it have made its way as an accepted proposition, but
ideal, Gith preachoul, onter to be the
conditions also must have been evolved in which it can live and thrive. We have seen that militancy was the necessary outcome of certain local conditions, and, given them again, militancy must revive, e.g. in the case of Germany, which has forced vast armaments on an unwilling Europe.
So with freedom : before it could come into its own the ground had to be diligently prepared to receive it. In this we see religious thought doing mighty work: it has to change man's survey of life. At first it would seem that militancy has but found a new channel for its expression in a theocratic dominancy claiming an absolutism greater even than its own. But this is not so. The dominancy was there, but the underlying principle was altogether different. One based its power on might alone. The other claimed sovereignty as exponent of God's will on earth. In one the power was that of brute force alone; in the other it was moral, having for its foundation, what is right. Perhaps there was not as much difference in the way the power was exercised as in the principle on which it was based, but for all that it was a mighty step forward in the progress of the world. Right, however to find expression, was recognized by one of the greatest of world powers as the only source of its authority. No doubt much wrong has been done in the name of right, but that is but a temporary excrescence: what is of utmost consequence is that right shall be the shrine to which universal tribute shall be brought. So, to determine what is right in many a case is far from easy, but important as it is, it is of little importance compared with the resolution that right must be the governing force of life. And so, theocracy having well done its part, we find a strict delimitation of its functions is to be determined. As a moral force it is also to go on from strength to strength, but meantime, as regards temporal power, democracy is now to work out its own salvation by the strength of its own right arm.
And now we are within measurable distance of the printing of the first book, the Mazarin Bible, by Guthenburg in 1455, followed immediately by the Psalter of Faust, of famous, or shall we say of infamous, memory; and from henceforth the new power—the democratic—is to take and keep the stage. The ethical teaching of 1,500 years before is now beginning to mature, and western civilization, like a giant refreshed, awakes from its sleep of a thousand years with new thought, new vigour, and new ideals. We have had the old world, followed by its modern example, ravaging, enslaving, and destroying, asking but one justification—“We have the power, it is our will," and as they did they expected to be done by. We have the new world and the divine right of manhood is recognized by strong and weak alike. We can understand the strong and vigorous demanding this right for themselves this is consonant with human nature the world over-but the concession of it is the amazing feature of these times. Our great Rebellion, the French Revolution, the American War of Independence were by strong men demanding this right for themselves, as also our present struggle; but the terrible war between the North and South—for what was it? To give such right to a servile race. People say that the North was not animated by purely unmixed motives. What nation or man ever was? But if there had been no slavery there had been no war.* That war was the call of an insistent democracy-No man shall find his happiness in the exploitation of another's life. And the North would extend this doctrine to the negro himself—the negro, reputed descendant of Ham, accursed to serve his fellow-and to-day the South joins hands and says, “ It was well done."
To us now writing, time, like distance, enables us to
* Of this there is no doubt. But for slavery separation would never even have been thought of. What is of more doubt is whether the South would not itself have given up slavery in a very short time, as it was so foreign to the whole genius of the people.