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Philosophy
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11-6-23
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PREFACE.

In the following pages it is no particular reform which I would advocate; rather I would inquire in what directions reform is to be sought. Mere change is very far from reform, and to quote a proverb of my youth-and, I am afraid, somewhat confirmed in my age—“An inch in the way is worth a mile in the clouds.” So a top spinning may make a great hum without covering much ground.

Any inquiry such as the present suggests itself under the three heads : the psychical, the physical, and the ethical. The first is as yet mostly unknown country. The second is full of promise, whilst the last is suggestive of counsel. As to the first, we can do little more than consider the field and what is to be done in it. However, one of the happy results of the war is that we have now a band of scientific enthusiasts diligently exploring this unknown land. The second is full of promise, for let us chart the progress of physical science, and the same line will virtually chart the progress of civilization through the ages. Every advance in physical science seems to have found correspondence in progress in the physical, mental, and moral development of man. And as the past years have witnessed most amazing advance in such science, may we not reasonably read in it assurance of a similar advance in human life as well? In its broad features this hypothesis is reduceable to simple story. In Part II. I have dealt with it in the reprint of several addresses which I have delivered from time to time. These somewhat overlap, and I had thought to rewrite them in more regular form. On reconsideration, this promised rather to lessen than increase their interest. Their very setting seemed to give them more point. War had been sprung upon us, and it was our one thought. As to the first, I had been booked to deliver the opening address to a local society early in October. Other prepared matter was obviously out of place, and considerations connected with the war were alone of interest in those days. Hence the survey. Happily, in my reading of my countrymen, I was altogether right. It was the German who made the error. The enrollment of our first million volunteers was the most glorious episode in history. It ranked with Marathon; it saved a world. As to the little brochure, • Does talk count?” it was written in somewhat angry mood. The conscientious objector, never at a loss for fine sentiments, outraged every principle we felt holiest and most precious in human nature. Thus possibly it is not altogether judicial, and should rather be read as a speech for the prosecution than as a summing up from the bench. Not that all objectors were to be lumped together, for undoubtedly there were some to whom it was terrible standing aside in their country's need. But it was the number of those who responded which was matter of surprise and rejoicing. It was the very idea that we were decadent that urged the German to his madness. It was the weakness of our talk that prompted his attempt. But it also was only talk. The last, “Whither?” tells its own tale, and needs no comment.

And what of the ethical in its action and reaction on life? This is the third heading of our inquiry. It is but a heading. So vast is it that any conclusion seems wholly impossible. And how limit our subject? Then it seemed we might simplify it if we were to regard man's ethical outlook as somewhat co-extensive with ideals found in his corresponding religions. This assumption made, and the Jews were clearly indicated as the people who in ancient times attained the then highwater mark in this respect. The old Jew was the great puritan of the past; of the morbid in religion he was the bitter enemy, and in his God of Righteousness was to be found the highest conception of the Deity that the world then knew. And in his story we read the great lesson of all time. Perhaps it has been the lesson taught by all peoples, but in him it was demonstrated with terrible and dramatic completeness. He went from strength to strength, until at the time of our Lord he was the proudest of the earth. The Greek was a decadent; the Persian in his glory had passed away; the native Egyptian was never a rival; the northern tribes were still barbarians; the easterns were but dreamers; and as a fierce and terrible fighter the Roman had at least to admit him as his equal. And, above all, his belief centred in the sanctity of his cradle. He led a straight life, and a cradle never empty found him the rich, respected, strong, and envied colonist in every part of the empire. And as he increased in influence, in might and in magnificence; as his great citizens were found high in office throughout its wide extent; as his great confederation was more and more a power to be reckoned with, so he increased in pride of heart, in disdain, and in contempt for all of other blood. And he fell. And never such fall in man's story. Jerusalem destroyed was a world catastrophe. Others had succumbed in their weakness; he in his strength. Babylon was rotten when it became the prize of the Persian; the Persian was sapped in his vigour when he bowed to Alexander. But not so the Jew. And a world yelled with delight. And in his fall not one to pity him, not one to hold out the hand of fellowship. He was great in his wealth; he was great in his prowess; he was great in his intellectual attainments; he was great in his God, and he had bidden defiance to the empire itself, and his defiance had shaken it to its foundations, but all of no count in the balance-sheet of the Almighty, for he knew but self alone. Entirely self-centred, in this was his ruin absolute and complete. The world was as his servant, his slave, not even as his younger brother. And the world turned and rent him. And the moral of his fall? No man, or race, shall live for self alone, and not deplore it in the end.

And then Christ takes up the tale in man's evolution. What experience is to prove, His teaching is to enforce. And His reasoning? Because all are children of one Father—“the Father," whom He had "come to show.” Many the controversy over dogma, doctrine, and creed, but none over this great central thought which has given unity to the Christian faith through all time. When all else had spelt disruption, in it alone was persistence to be found. Nor is the least power of Mahomet to-day that he also took from Christ this great thought of God as “ Allah the AllMerciful.” Never so simple a philosophy in its statement, never one so mighty in its results. It trans

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