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H. M. BEARDSLEY, KANSAS CITY, MO.
No institution organized among men for the service of mankind can remain through the centuries the same. From time to time the conditions under which it undertakes its work will change; the needs of those whom it seeks to serve will differ from decade to decade, and there will come new visions and appreciations of opportunities not before comprehended. We live as a nation under a written constitution framed by our fathers with great care and patience. They attempted to frame a government efficient to meet the needs of a people living under the conditions of their time. They brought to bear all the learning they could command out of experiences of the past. The letter of the constitution they framed remains the same as when they wrote it. But that instrument has been through the years
marching on,” as its phrases and provisions have been from time to time applied to new conditions.
The organized church is not an exception to the rule already expressed. We glory in the wisdom of the fathers and in the accomplishments of the church through the past. But we live in a new day, under changed conditions, facing new problems, and the church itself must recognize these facts.
We are asking to-night concerning the relationship of the organized Christian Church to the work problems and the working people of this day. There is no need now for a new declaration of principles. An efficient declaration has been already made. The Protestant churches of America met at Philadelphia, in December, 1908, in federal council. That body considered the matter of the duty of the church under present industrial conditions and laid down a platform of principles. What was there done was done only upon due consideration. The man who wrote that platform was by experience and ability fitted to write it. It was also submitted to the careful judgment of many men prepared by disposition and learning to pass upon it. It received the careful consideration of the Council itself.
In it Philadelphia has been the birthplace of a declaration greater than that of 1776. We glory in the Declaration of Independence, as we ought. That was the announcement of men struggling for rights they claimed for themselves, and against a tyranny they could not endure. The form and substance of it was that.
This other declaration, made at Philadelphia in the early days of the twentieth century, was of obligations due from them and those they represented to other men. This, I say, is a nobler declaration in its purpose; and the substance of it is fitted to the purpose.
I cannot to-night find any other platform on which I can so well base the argument which I must make this hour.
I want first to note, before discussing the several parts of this declaration, that it is not a re-announcement of the evangelistic purposes of the church. That purpose stands yet, as through the centuries past, predominant. The church has magnified the worth of the individual man. Her purpose has been to reach out in love for him, desiring the welfare of his soul. The glory that lives in the history of the centuries last past lies in the fact that men have grown into a larger and larger conception of the value of the single soul, and of the great wrong inherent in all forms of tyranny. And in this matter the teachings of the church and the reading of the Book upon which it depends have been the greatest forces in helping men to see the truth and in giving them courage to battle for it.
The growth of the church and its efficiency have depended upon its evangelistic spirit. I have heard a preacher of our faith tell of his ministry in a church where great numbers came to hear him Sunday morning and evening, and midweek, and then of the awakening which came to him and to his people when they realized that they were living within and for themselves; the new zeal which came with the undertaking of evangelistic work, and the resolution which he made as to his ministry, that never after that would he preach except he preached for a verdict.
But this declaration made at Philadelphia in 1908 is not one of evangelistic purpose, though the largest possibilities in that regard lie wrapped up in it. It concerns actual conditions as they exist among men, and proclaims a duty therein of the church.
Let us note some of its anouncements.
It declares for equal rights and complete justice for all men in all stations of life.
The church has encouraged the giving of alms. Through the Middle Ages it handed them out at the gate of the monastery. Its sisters of mercy sought out the needy and gave them aid. Humane institutions supported by private gift and by public funds have multiplied under the teachings of the church. But here is a proclamation that men must receive not charity but justice. It will not require much thought to ascertain that the securing of justice is by far the more difficult task. Whether we have large possessions or small, we give out of what we have to those in need and find much satisfaction in the giving. Let us get now the larger view. The man who is in want may be there because of the injustice of the conditions under which he has been born and reared. God has supplied mankind with an abundance of the things which are needed to sustain life and to minister to our higher wants. But the laws under which these bounties are distributed are man-made. We are responsible for the outcome. If the laws which regulate property rights are unjust, the blame for that is on us. It may be that we have amassed a considerable property out of our industrial enterprises and have given considerable of it in charity.
But if we have gained what we have through injustice to other men, we cannot right the wrong by almsgiving. There is but one way out. That lies in reforming conditions under which our industries are carried on. The man who has violated our statute law and has been condemned to punishment may have gone wrong because he had lived under conditions that made right living impossible; and we have helped to make those conditions. That works out rank injustice to our brother. We can never right that by charity. That can be done only by giving him that which is his by right, - of opportunity and of reward.
We see that in many ways we have been going wrong. These are days of conservation congresses. What is taught there is that there are great material resources, not yet appropriated by individual men, or corporate aggregations of men, which must be kept for the common good, in order that justice may be done to all, — in order that it shall not be that a few may appropriate
these resources and so work injustice to the many. Perhaps this principle of conservation should be applied elsewhere. Because customs have existed is not proof that they are right. We must be brave enough and honest enough to desire to know the truth, let it lead us where it will. Our declaration of principles, made at Philadelphia, announces that this is one of the things in which the church as such is concerned.
This Philadelphia platform announces also that the church must stand for the right of all men to the opportunity for selfmaintenance. There is very much wrapped up in that declaration. The opportunity for self-maintenance involves right conditions in childhood under which the body and mind have their development; involves the training of the faculties so that the individual may be fitted to do well some sort of work; involves right laws as concerns the ownership of the tools of industry and of the working capital of the time. If there is one thing more than all others which impresses one with sorrow, it is the helplessness of men. I have in my own city, under opportunity afforded by the fulfilling of public duties, found that men and women alike are led into lives of sin and misery for lack of knowledge of a better way and of capacity to do well any part of the world's work. We are to understand that strong men are not then to take advantage of the weak; but that it is a proposition of fundamental right that since both have been put together to work out the common problem, the task should be so arranged between them that each could best accomplish his part. The opportunity for self-maintenance is a matter of right, not of charity.
This declaration recognizes the hardship which comes to those who toil because of the swift crises of industrial change. Some new invention will put a machine to do what before has required the work of many men.
Those then who have been trained to do this work must seek other work, to which they have not been trained, and in competition with others who are more skilled than they therein. There are brought in from foreign lands those who will work for wages which are impossible to men who have higher needs and who have families to provide for. There are combinations of capital which in the regulation of output leave factories idle which have been theretofore busy.
In unnumbered ways the army of the unemployed increases; and there are in it, and because of it, great suffering, which involves not only those who are idle, but the whole social body. The church is directly interested in that, too.
This new charter declares it the duty of the church to help bring about conciliation and arbitration in industrial dissensions. Present conditions are provocative of warfare, a warfare most bitter and destructive. We must needs find a better way of settling our industrial controversies than that. In the old days, employer and employed toiled side by side. They knew each other and shared their views and interest in their common work. I have seen, somewhere, a picture in one corner of it the representation of an old-time wagon shop with the employer and his men standing together in the shade of their simple building. In the other part of the picture stood a great modern factory. The picture was made to indicate the growth of a great manufacturing enterprise from its humble beginnings. But it stood, as well, giving proof of a condition of service among men which had passed away. The owner no longer knows his men. There is no contact between them in their toil. They have lost the joy of brotherly companionship. Their homes are no longer side by side. Their children move in different worlds. The work of the employee has become more monotonous. Beside his machine he does his task over and over again, making a simple part of the manufactured article.
Dealing thus at arm's length the employer ceases to know the needs of his employees, differences arise and industrial war is on. The church must stand for conciliation and arbitration; for a settlement of the existing controversy on just lines, after knowledge of the facts, and after that for the doing away with conditions out of which warfare arises. As Chili and Argentina melted the cannon built for war between them, and out of the molten metal shaped the figure of the Christ of the Andes, which stands on the mountains of their common border, so let the weapons of industrial warfare be melted and a compact of
Our declaration announces it the duty of the church to concern itself in the protection of workers from dangerous machinery, from occupational diseases, injuries and mortality; in the abolition of child labor and the regulation of the conditions of