God and Man a Unity, and All Mankind a Unity
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GOD AND MAN A UNITY,
ALL MANKIND A UNITY:
A BASIS FOR
A NEW DISPENSATION,
SOCIAL AND RELIGIOUS.
By John Francis Bray
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1879, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.
THE PRESENT DISPENSATION;
ITS THEOLOGICAL IDEAS AND SOCIAL PRACTICES.
WHAT IS the condition of the people in the United States and Europe in this year 1878 of the Christian era? There is a large class having “great possessions,” who enjoy the wealth of the world and control its trade. There is a still larger class—the great majority—possessed of little or nothing, who do the work of the world and create its wealth. Everywhere are full granaries, crammed warehouses of goods, abundance of food and clothing, and every material element for progress and contentment. And yet trade and production is almost at a stand-still. Thousands of men and women wander about unemployed and half starved. Every prison and workhouse is filled with those who were once honest workers. The masses are being driven back into barbaric conditions, and corresponding instincts and practices are in process of development. Society rests upon a volcano. Christianity itself has become unchristianized. Its ministers, as usual, are the apologists for social wrongs and religious tyranny.
Shall a destructive social outbreak be invited and defied, or shall an attempt be made to remedy fundamental errors in our existing social system?
How shall we discover or institute what is needed? The ruling classes of society are deaf and blind to the exigencies of the times. Our political parties are wrangling over trivial issues which remedy nothing, while the priesthood and the churches are asleep in the superstitions that originated in the childhood of the race. Our public men and the press have become alien to republican ideas, and threaten political liberty as dangerous to special interests. Our governments, federal or state, are legislating upon anything and everything but the needs of the hour. No class, press, pulpit or institution is at work for Man.
Is it not plain that the time has come for the commencement of a New Dispensation, social, political and religious? The old, in government, procedures, thoughts and institutions is felt to be crumbling away. It instinctively clings to its prisons and bayonets, but they cannot prop it up. The masses of the people are intuitively expecting great changes; no class feels secure or satisfied. Danger to society and its existing usages lurks everywhere.
No man or class is responsible for this state of things. It is a natural outgrowth from progress and development. It exhibits the decay and death of modern competitive society, which, through its usuries, profits and tyrannies, has so plundered and exasperated labor that there is no salvation except in social reconstruction and a New Industrial Dispensation. How can it be expected that masses of men and women will perish for food and clothing while in the midst of abundance? Natural laws and instincts override all others in great extremities.
A New Dispensation is indispensable as the exponent of the advanced scientific and religious thought and the material requirements of the times. Does not our religious and social status require to be reorganized, and the two placed in correspondence, which they never have been? The age has outgrown its theological and industrial bonds, and demands more liberty everywhere.
What is our social status, and why should it be superseded? We profess to be governed by republican principles and usages, but there is nothing republican among us. We are divided into classes, occupying higher or lower social positions, as employers or employed. The last are in subjection to the first, as to employment, wages and hours of toil. These classes have no common interest and no friendly intercourse. The gains of the first grow from the losses of the last. Their interests, feelings, cultivation and habits are antagonistic. There is no sense of social or religious unity, and no desire for any. They virtually occupy the position of masters and slaves. Every element in production—manufactories, machinery, mines, dwellings, and the whole control of industry—lie in the hands of the employing class. The wages class are regarded as of no more moment than so many horses; there is no opportunity for their elevation or refinement; their general surroundings tend only to their imbrutement. Art and science, alike with hand-labor, pour their treasures upon the employing class and those who have become rich through profits and usury; but the wage-worker is a social outlaw, confined to the most meager enjoyments.
How long can these divisions and their results be tolerated and maintained in a land of free schools and newspapers?
And what is our religious status? The people are divided into a multitude of sects, with varying creeds and beliefs, representing all the phases of mental darkness and superstition that have existed for four thousand years. These sects are controlled by their priests, who are educated specially to support a particular creed or belief, which they must maintain, however preposterous. The truth is never sought for nor desired. It is a belief or doctrine that must be contended for, no matter how opposed to reason and the nature of things. Every individual is expected to support one of these sects by his countenance and contributions, or run the risk of social ostracism. A divine sanction is claimed for all these absurdities, and they must neither be examined, doubted nor denied. They are hung on to the skirts of an imaginary personal deity, as parts of his necessary and rightful attire. God must be looked at through the priests and the creeds and in no other way. To doubt these is held to deny the existence of God and all his attributes. The whole effort of priest-craft, either in savage or civilized life, is to keep the people in gross theological darkness. Outside of the churches we are confronted with all the advances of modern discoveries, and the accessories to a high civilization. Inside of the churches humanity is lullabied to sleep under the antiquated theologies that were cotemporary with the ancient Egyptians and the insane crusaders. When men go into a church they enter a tomb, inscribed with a creed that lived so many hundred years since. The modern world of thought and action is given up for the ancient one of incongruous dreams.
How long can such a religious status endure under the pressure of modern discoveries and advances? Shall all progress stand still, or shall religion be freed from its ancient bonds, and the soul as well as the body of man be ushered into freedom through a New Dispensation?
There are in the world a multitude of theologies or religious beliefs and systems, all of them containing puerilities and impossibilities mixed with grand moralities and rules of conduct, and all coming up to us from a remote antiquity. Mankind make progress in other things and give it welcome. But nations are never permitted to see that their theologies need changes and improvements to adapt them to the new and advanced conditions of society. For all these theologies are held to be of divine origin, and therefore unimprovable and unchangeable. And yet history teems with records of theological innovations which took place in opposition to the popular and priestly will, but are eventually clung to with as much pertinacity as the original belief. And after these changes become established, they are absurdly held to have been caused by some divine or supernatural power to carry out the divine intentions in the perfection of the original theology.
The unprogressive character of all theologies, so far as voluntary improvement is concerned, arises from their claims to be original truths, given to man by a personal deity, and certified to by violations of natural laws termed miracles; and therefore, each theology, having what it assumes to be divine truth, promulgated in a supernatural manner, brands all its rivals as frauds and impositions.
The prevailing Christian theology, although based on the brotherhood of man, has been a failure for the establishment of fraternal relations among mankind. There is, and always has been, as much discord and war among Christian as pagan nations. Our costly theology is only a system of burdensome monopolies, which grow strong through the taxation of the churches. Sect opposes sect on imaginary dogmas, but all, through their priesthoods, are in accord in levying contributions on the people and keeping them in mental darkness.
Our Christian theology, like all others, has come up to us from a remote antiquity, changing all the way to adapt itself to the varying conditions of mankind. What is infidelity in one age is good gospel in the next. The masses change their creeds as they do their forms of government or mode of life. The children deny the authority of the fathers to bind them.
And at this day, here and throughout Europe, indifference and doubt as to the fundamentals of theology are pervading the masses everywhere. Science is superseding theology. The more advanced priesthood have taken the alarm, and are endeavoring to reconcile theology with science, after having for ages branded science as an outlaw and an enemy to God. Clearly, theology must disappear as a special supernatural revelation, and in its place must come a natural religion, based on science and reason for its facts, and on human requirements, experience and wisdom for its morality.
Jesus Christ, the founder of Christianity, was a Hebrew, imbued with Mosaical superstitions, and yet a social and religious reformer. As a belief in the miraculous and supernatural prevailed in his time, as in all preceding ages, his whole history is filled with the miraculous. It is impossible to discover what he really claimed for himself or how much has been substituted by his followers. His teachings are fragmentary and confused, arising from the misunderstanding and original bias of his chroniclers. It is plain, by reason and all reliable evidence, that he was only an ordinary man, the son of a carpenter, and having brothers and sisters; that he was poor and despised by the rich, in common with poor men everywhere, at all times. The age could not then tolerate reforms from an ordinary man and a poor man any more than it can now. The miracles connected with him by his biographers illustrate the theological darkness of the times, and form part of the era of Moses. But this age cannot be expected to believe in ancient impossibilities more than in modern ones.
The debasing tendencies of a belief in theology and supernaturalism are exhibited in our midst at this time, in the advent and growth of what is termed Mormonism. The whole Christian world concede this to be a transparent fraud. And yet it finds its hundreds of converts, not among the enlightened or the scientific) who are capable of judgment, but among ignorant and superstitious Christians; those who, having already surrendered themselves to the supernaturalism connected with their own theology, are just in the condition of credulity that is ready to accept any other phase of supernaturalism, from witchcraft to Mormonism.
It is often assumed that the spread of original Christianity is proof that its miracles and supernaturalism were true, because men could not be imposed upon. But the rise and spread of Mormonism is fatal to every argument in favor of ancient miracles and supernaturalism either in the time of Moses or Christ; for Mormonism comes among us and boasts of its supernatural origin and divine institution in an era of newspapers and scientific enlightenment, while the other is a product of ancient ignorance, and rests solely on tradition. Mormonism gives a fatal blow to ancient supernaturalism, for it shows the ease with which credulity can be imposed upon, and that the acceptance by the multitude of this or that absurdity furnishes no proof whatever of the genuineness of either miracles or testimony.
The great bulk of Christian dogmas, and its whole system of sacerdotal observances, lie outside of Christ, and have no relation to anything he ever did or said. Even the Christian sabbath is an unauthorized change. Take away the temples, the priests, the ceremonials, the dogmas and creeds of the Christian churches, and leave nothing but Christ, the poor carpenter, and his teachings, and the whole fabric would tumble into ruins. Shall we leave the churches and go back to Christ?
Our grand material progress may be said to date from the time that the ecclesiastical shackles of ancient Christianity were thrown off. And the priest of to-day, like his predecessors, howls for the crucifixion of all who are struggling for the elevation of man, and the establishment of the underlying Christian idea of fraternity and social harmony. Time and progress never reach a priest.
But age after age has progressed in defiance of its mental bonds and its priestly obstructions. And what are now the religious consequences of this material and mental progress? Just what might be expected. Catholicism repudiates Judaism as superseded by itself, and denounces Protestantism as heresy; while Protestantism repudiates Catholicism as anti-Christ, and denounces further mental progress as infidelity. Each tries to stay all advance beyond itself. But, on all sides, doubts, disputes, and denials are openly expressed. There is a general dissatisfaction with things as they are. Men instinctively crave something better and more satisfying than crude speculations and debasing superstitions. For the first time in the history of the world, the advocates of theology consent to argue and defend themselves by special pleas, instead of the special agency of the prison, the stake and the gibbet. It is a hopeful sign for progress.
Institutions, theologies, and modes of thought are compelled to change in accordance with the material progress of man. Judaism supplanted Egyptian paganism, and the paganism has disappeared. Christianity, in its Catholic phase, succeeded Grecian paganism and Judaism, and the paganism is gone, and the Judaism is going. Christianity, in its Protestant phase, is taking the place of the Catholic structure, and the latter is left behind, and gradually crumbling under the light of the press and modern advancement. There is a natural and inevitable progress all the way up.
And so to-day, in this year 1878 of the Christian era, Protestantism itself is giving place to the free thought and religious unbelief which naturally grow out of it. The right of private judgment is fatal to supernatural theologies. Too many facts come in conflict with the fictions. The leading Protestant priests are driven to a repudiation of the old ideas of heaven and hell, as localities of reward and punishment. Immortality itself, deprived of a location, hangs by the thread of early associations.
Both ancient and modern Christianity are in process of dissolution as exponents of the supernatural. The Christian virtues are disappearing, and are being supplanted by excessive avarice, inordinate selfishness, and social antagonisms. Strife reigns everywhere. There are more outside than within the church, while hosts of those within are there because of moral cowardice or from selfish interests. Are we not in a condition needing social and religious reformation?
Science and reason having battered down the supernatural bulwarks of Christianity, men are coming to ask themselves: “Is there really any need for theology or religion?” meaning thereby certain creeds, observances and supernatural beliefs? Science contends that the answer must be in the negative. Mankind grow into creeds and then grow out of them.
Shall we abolish our theology, or does it contain some fundamental law of morality adapted to modern civilization? The morality of Christianity, which is all that society needs, rests on Moses and Christ. The first promulgated the ten commandments, which the latter condensed into the love of our neighbors as ourselves, and the doing to others as we would have others to do unto us. The age is prepared to receive these grand principles on their own merits, apart from any theological authority. The age also demands freedom from those priestly bonds which Moses decreed and which Christ tolerated.
Surely it now requires no priesthood, creeds or religious ceremonials as accompaniments to the commandments of Moses or the precepts of Christ. Either ought to be capable of standing on its own merits. Neither does it require an imaginary heaven or hell to reward obedience or punish infractions; for to do as we would be done by is a natural moral law, and its observance or neglect brings pleasure or pain, like other laws.
While theology, with its accompaniments, is purely artificial, religion itself, or the law of goodness, is a very plain and simple thing, which “the wayfaring man, though a fool,” can comprehend. But, bedizened with priestly fictitious accessories and vain imaginings, all the preachings and teachings for two thousand years have only tended to obscure it and bewilder the mind.
Religion consists in right action towards others and ourselves, judging of what is right to others by placing ourselves in their position; in conjunction with a sense of harmonious unity with God and man. The morality is the action, and the harmony the reward. The one governs the intellect and the other satisfies the heart. It requires neither churches, sermons, creeds nor priests. All it needs is good conditions and surroundings for mankind, that the moral action may be developed and strengthened, and not as now, smothered under adverse influences. And all these essential conditions lie outside of creeds, priests and churches.
But the hirelings of antiquated theology will not give up mankind to progress and scientific enlightenment. The priest sees everything else change and improve, but he holds on to the prevailing theology as a finality. But if it was not a finality as instituted by Moses, why should it be with the crucifixion of Christ? How can the Christian priest of to-day reasonably claim a better knowledge of the ulterior developments of the Infinite than did the Israelite priest two thousand years since? If the record and observances of the one was put aside through a New Testament, why should not the dogmas and observances connected with the other be excluded from a New Dispensation? Why blame the past for its ignorance and obstinacy while to-day following the same example?
To contend for the fixity of any theology is to ignore all changes, and to deny the power of the Infinite to improve mankind through growth and development. Whereas the whole records of the race are but details of experiments and efforts at improvement in theology, government and society—all in obedience to the indestructible actuating principles of our being. The Christian priest considers Christianity to be the fulfillment of the Judaical dispensation; but, if he believes in supernaturalism, why not admit that coming changes may be still further ordained and necessary expansions? According to Christ, the law and the prophets hang on morality. This is the essence of all religion, and theologies are only the bottles that hold it.
The universal prevalence of theologies is taken to imply that man is a “religious animal,” and needs theologies to supply a natural want. But what man requires and searches for is not theology, but knowledge. His theology, whatever it may be, is only the record of his progress in the solution of the unknown.
At this day, the prevailing Christian theology is rotten to the core as a supernatural fabric. It has ceased to have any effect in public or private life. The priest preaches immortality, although at a loss for a location. It is contended that man craves immortality, and therefore, as it is a natural want, there must be something to supply it. But the desire for immortality is simply a disinclination to die, and is common to all forms of life as well as man. It is felt only during the time that it is natural to live. As that time draws to an end, age extinguishes the desire for it. The deaf and blear-eyed imbecile, with body and mind decayed by age, is troubled by no fears of a hereafter and elevated by no hopes. He has outlived the desire for immortality.
Although there can be no theological immortality in some other sphere, an idea that Christianity has borrowed from paganism, yet, in looking at the world of life around us, cannot we discover what may be termed a natural immortality, shared in by all created beings—just such an immortality as all of us are suited for, and also one that enables man to remedy his errors as he goes along on the stream of time? It is the living, and not the dead, who have an interest in immortality, and are to be immortal.
Theology, like science, should rest on principles or facts that cannot be controverted. It should be able to withstand the fullest examination and criticism, age after age; not shut up in a book, to be laboriously and blunderingly translated and slowly spread throughout the world, but to rest on facts that surround alike the savage and civilized man. It should be as plain to the comprehension as heat or cold, rain or sunshine. But, from the beginning, all theologies have been secretive, cowardly and tyrannical. They have repudiated all examination and discussion and outlawed and destroyed all inquirers who appealed to facts. Reason is with them a “carnal weapon.” It has been one of the chief objects of every priesthood to stifle all thought, all discussion, all exercise of reason, and compel devotees to blindly accept the traditions and usages offered them. Everything is allowed to be changed except theology.
The nature of things, and the principles of creation, are the same to-day as in the time of Christ. If what are called miracles were performed then, the same things can be done now, for God or Nature is the same, and man is the same. That they cannot be performed, and that they involve violations of creative processes for mere trivial and. local exhibitions to ignorant multitudes, is sufficient proof that they never had existence, and that they are only mythical traditions, such as are always met with among ignorant and undeveloped populations. And the fact that all theologies abound in the like miracles, and that they are their sole reliance, exhibits a common parentage in the ignorance of a remote and semi-barbarous age. And even, in our own times there yet remains a credulous belief in witches, spirits, devils, and other supernatural agencies, the result of theological training.
But this New Age demands constant proofs. Science proves as it goes along and theology can do the same if it rests on truths. Various forms of being exist around us. There must be a cause for their existence and continuance. They rest on natural and never on miraculous causes. Theology dogmatically assumes to know all about its personal God, or the Original Principle, and asserts that God did this or that, for this or that purpose, and it requires and presents no proof but its puerile and antiquated traditions. Science humbly confesses that it has not been able to approach God, and does not know how or why he works. But at the same time it has abundant evidence that all theology rests on gross errors and delusions, and is utterly ignorant of God and his laws. Theologies, therefore, must be abolished, or be made to rest on natural laws or the deductions of reason. The days of a blind faith in tradition are passing away.
We live in a glorious world. Everything, so far as natural agencies are concerned, is conducted in the best possible manner. The more extended our knowledge, the greater our wonder and admiration. We behold a universe of energies and forces, causes and effects, interconvertible, varying their action and manifestations as conditions vary. We have discovered how to govern many of these forces, and thereby adapt them to our desires or necessities. We control them through conditions, as nature does. We no longer trust to the prayers of a priest for anything, nor do we expect miracles. We are continually pressing natural forces into our service, and surpassing all the alleged miracles of antiquity. The knowledge and conquest of these agencies make us demi-gods. We cannot now conceive of our ultimate power, nor set bounds to it. Our powers will develop as we become qualified to use them, as God does, for universal humanity.
Science preaches better sermons than theology. It exhibits the work of the Creative Power everywhere, and shows us some of the processes through which God works. There is no occasion to go back to antiquity, for fabulous accounts of how he is supposed to have worked in ancient times. Science leads towards God by teaching codes of physical and moral laws that are indisputable, and which tend to make us more perfect and happy men and women; far in advance of theological imaginings.
Nature also, unlike the priest, preaches us a sermon of which we are never weary. The ages cannot exhaust the subject nor deaden the interest. The Great Wonderful is continually before us, by day or night. We have an inexhaustible theme for reflection and enjoyment. And the ignorant or enlightened feel a common attraction and a ceaseless interest. The religion of science and natural law is the only true religion, and the only one adapted to a progressive humanity.
Moses was a necessity for his age and nation, and so was Christ, and so was every political, religious, or social reformer that ever lived. Such men always appear when the world has need of them. All are necessary links in the chain of progress.
And now, in its turn, this age needs great reformations. The world has progressed beyond the “thus saith the Lord.” Whatever is presented must come from and represent the republicanized humanity, science, and progressive tendencies of the age. No man or theology can now fetter the great republic of thought, nor make it tributary to the unsubstantial delusions of the past. Science has dug down to a rock, on which mankind can now rear imperishable structures.
We shall have no more “divine lawgivers.” What every man is, is what his attributes, surroundings and efforts have made him. What he does, is what the general tendencies of things lead him to do. God has not now, and never had, any special personal favorites. If some men have been and are in advance of others, it is due to a better organization, better opportunities, and hard work through these opportunities. Theology, like science, must become republicanized. God never had any need of special prophets claiming special attributes and powers, with authority to deal out damnation to doubters.
The paternity of God and the brotherhood of man is claimed to have originated with Christianity. Yet their social and religious divisions and antagonisms have always compelled Christians to lose sight of this fundamental principle in their actions, while adopting it as a theory. The spirit of fraternity is dead among us. The hand of every man is more or less raised against every other man. Society is chaotic; some means must be devised to renew and vitalize the spirit and practice of fraternity, or we shall enter into a wilderness of anarchy.
While religion is right action, theology is only the suppositions institution of this action, through a code of assumed divine laws, promulgated by a personal Deity. Priests attribute all theologies to God, and man must obey them without question. But they are wholly the work of man. Theology is the assumed divine law, but is not religion the right practice? The one is the scaffold, and the other the finished structure. Is it necessary to retain our ancient theological scaffolds any longer? Not that the great work of human perfection is completed—for it involves unlimited progression through numberless centuries —but is the scaffold of Moses, however essential it may have been to the bestial semi-savages of Israel in his day, of any use to this age? Is it not rather a fatal obstruction to religious progress, by continually belittling the Infinite to the conceptions of the ancient Israelite? Can the modern world compress this Omnipresent Infinite into the advising, promising, and changeable Jehovah of Moses? And are the ceremonials that constitute our church scaffolds of any further use? Why complain of infidelity, when the puerilities of the bible give it so much encouragement? Surely there is a greater and a better God than the Jehovah of Moses.
Its theology is the great obstruction to modern progress. It environs man from the cradle to the grave, and leaves the marks of its fetters on every one. The same unrelenting war must be made upon a fabulous theology, as it wages against a living thought and science. The priest is the only implacable outlaw against reason and common sense. All other men may be redeemed, but the priest is a hopeless wallower in the mire. As a priest and a theology came into the world together, so they must go out together, and the days of their delusions are numbered. All reformations must commence at a reformation of existing theology, in common with social usages. When the theological rubbish of four thousand years is cleared away, then, and not until then, will men have room to move and breathe freely. Theology is the citadel that has overawed the race from the beginning of civilization, and laid all things under tribute. Everywhere we find it as a bold robber or a whining beggar. It has always stood in the way of both God and man.
Let mankind for once have a natural religion divested of an unnatural theology.
THE NEW DISPENSATION;
ITS RELIGIOUS IDEAS AND SOCIAL REQUIREMENTS.
WHILE science is compelled to repudiate theology, there is no antagonism between science and that right action which constitutes true religion. The two are in natural fraternity, and stand upon a common foundation. Science and religion must henceforth be as one, representing the physical, the moral and the emotional law. Theology must give place to religion; for while theology is a useless burden, a broad and cosmopolitan religion is a necessity. What shall be the foundation for that religion? The Promised Land of Moses is the equivalent of the Christian heaven. Neither of them have so far been realized. Can science and the Nature of things give us realities instead of anticipations?
Are our indefinite yearnings for something better to be always unsatisfied? Can we create a Promised Land for ourselves? Have we not been long enough in the wilderness? Is God a father and man a brother, or are they not something more than this?
Let us endeavor to go down to the foundation of things. God and his works are as visible to, and as conceivable by, us as to Moses or any other ancient sage. “He is the same yesterday, to-day and forever,” and withholds nothing from one generation that he has given to another. No vital truths or facts depend upon tradition, else there would be injustice to later ages.
Who, then, and what is God? Have not the efforts of man in all ages been directed to solve this question? Do not the multitude of theologies attest their failure? And, comparing these theologies with each other, what are they all but guesses as to the origin of things? Finite man has set himself to comprehend the Infinite, and he has necessarily failed. The philosopher, equally with the fool, can only surmise. Theological gods are but exaggerated men, with the thoughts and actions of men; benevolent and trusting, yet cruel and jealous; infinite in knowledge, yet often deceived; establishing causes and yet finding fault with effects; lovingly creating children here and there to enjoy life, and yet decreeing their extermination by each other.
Theologies are but horrible caricatures of the Incomprehensible but Infinite Good.
Where, then, and what is God, so far as finite man can approach the mystery from his present standpoint and the deductions of reason? For science and reason, and not theology, will henceforth control the world. A basis to rest upon lies in:
1. An ultimate and original Something, whether we term, it God or Nature, Spirit or Matter.
2. The necessary universality of this Something, God, or Original Principle.
3. The consequent unity and homogeneity of this God, or Original Principle, with all things visible and invisible.
4. The manifestation of this God or Principle through a universal paternity, or constant creative outflow of diversified forms of existence; which are therefore necessarily only conditional and varying phases, or visible incarnations of the Original Principle.
5. God and all things being necessarily one, God and man are therefore one, and all mankind are one; for all men have the like atomic body, with the like identity and qualities, diversified by conditions. All are visible incarnations of the same parent.
6. The body is the visible incarnation, with certain faculties and qualities and a conscious identity or “I.” This identity or inherent attribute which calls itself I, forming a component part of or attachment to the body, and giving us consciousness of existence, would seem to be the invisible and conditional representative of a conscious, primary, intelligent existence, whatever we may term it, which requires a visible organization to give it utterance. Does not this visible and invisible conscious and intelligent incarnation constitute Divine Sonship?
7. As causation, adaptation or intelligent action is witnessed everywhere, this seems analogically to imply that every atom of the universe is an intelligent entity, or God-representative. For all the intelligence we meet with works upwards from the invisible atom to and through visible forms. The Universal Principle, or God, in one manifestation, may therefore express a Universal Atomic Intelligence. God is alike in the visible and the invisible.
8. This Original Principle, or God, being necessarily infinite in every particular, and consequently inscrutable, can only be very imperfectly conceived of by finite beings. Therefore every theology, tradition, record or belief which affects to authoritatively personify this God or Principle, give it a specific shape or abode, or to claim special revelations as to its desires and intentions in regard to man, is an incongruous absurdity, having no foundation in facts or the nature of things.
9. The body and associated identity of man or beast which disappears to-day, by dissolution, is replaced by a new existence continually, through new atomic combinations and births; and this constant transmission and continuation of life and identity constitutes immortality, as manifested in individuals, races and organic forms.
10. Therefore, as man is immortal through continual birth, generation after generation, it is the paramount duty, as well as the vital interest, of all individuals to transmit to themselves perfect bodies and faculties; and also to devise and establish the best possible social, industrial, educational and other conditions and surroundings, that every generation may become superior to its predecessor, physically, morally, intellectually and socially. For immortality is here on earth; it is here that we are to experience our enjoyments or sufferings, our heaven or hell, as living, individual and collective identities, age after age; reaping as the sons and daughters what we sowed as the parents, whether good or evil.
While “I and my Father are one” is a truth for all time, “I and my neighbor are one” cannot be separated from it.
While some of these principles are self-evident, the others are naturally deduced from them. They are not an authoritative command, derived from an assumed supernatural source, but are a legitimate outgrowth from reason and the nature of things, and are in correspondence with scientific truths and an enlightened religious idea; not presuming to specify what God is, but what are his relations with man. It is a natural and indisputable God that this age demands, in place of the supernatural and traditional deity imagined in the boyhood of the race. It needs no tradition to tell us that.
“1. There is an ultimate and original Something, whether we term it God or Nature, Spirit or Matter.”
This is a self-evident truth. It is impossible to conceive of any other condition of things, or how something could come from nothing. There is what may be termed infinite place or space, and it is peopled with moving bodies with different properties, and in various stages of development. These bodies are controlled by certain conditions or principles. These bodies are something, and they exist in a place or space. This space being infinite in extent, there was nothing outside of it from which they could have come, therefore their constituents have always existed in one form or another. But plainly they are not the ultimate invisible Something, but only a visible manifestation of its existence, coming into view conditionally, through creative action or outflow during incomprehensible periods of time. The ultimate something is within them and around them. They are the visible finite Something coming out of the invisible Infinite Something. There are not two Somethings, but one, made manifest to man in a finite sense, or as a finite part of the Infinite Whole.
“2. The necessary universality of this Something, God, or Original Principle.”
If any part of the universe was without the Original Principle, or God, this principle would not be omnipresent, as it necessarily must be. It is everywhere. An ultimate Something implies its universality. There cannot be two ultimate Somethings, nor a Something and a Nothing, for two things cannot be in the same place at the same time. We cannot even in thought go to a locality or survey an object that is destitute of this Something. Body and space are alike its manifestations everywhere.
Is it not plain that the Infinite Something, that necessarily fills the universe, never could compress itself into the form of a man, and talk to Moses, as is affirmed by a supernatural and superannuated theology? It can never be anything but infinite and omnipresent. It is not a being that can leave one place and go to another. It is an Infinite Totality, in all places at all times.
“3. The consequent unity and homogeneity of this God or Principle with all things, visible and invisible.”
We can separate a man from his works, but we cannot separate an Omnipresent God or Original Principle from its visible manifestations. This separation would imply that there was something that was not God—a common belief, derived from theology, but utterly untenable in relation to a Universal Principle. All secondary causes are but continuations or outgrowths from the First Cause. Our finite and limited powers compel us to entertain confused ideas of what is infinite, and its connection with the finite, but an Infinite, Primary, Omnipresent Cause cannot be separated from anything that flows from it.
Theology imagines God as a being distinct from his works, instituting laws and modes of action for the government of things outside of himself, thereby destroying his infinity and omnipresence, and making him one among many; whereas there is no escape from God. He permeates everything and comprises everything. The Everything constitutes the universal homogeneous God.
We view human beings, animals, vegetables and minerals, and seeing no visible connection between these things, we consider them as having no relation with each other. But dissection and analysis show us homogeneity in their respective constituents, and that in reality they are formed of the same elements under different manifestations. And within one apparent element lie others, going back until disappearing from all cognizance. Yet necessarily they are all manifestations of the First Cause, which, while inscrutable itself, cannot, from its omnipresent nature, be separated from its manifestations. An inexorable logic carries us back to a primary and universal homogeneity, term it what we will. One God, one Power, one Original Principle, underlies all things. There cannot be a multitude of Gods, Powers, or Original Principles, else there would be contradictions, confusions, and destructive inharmonies.
“4. The manifestations of this Principle through a universal paternity, or constant creative outflow of diversified forms of existence; which are necessarily but conditional and varying phases or visible incarnations of the Original Principle.”
The God, or Original Principle, being infinite in every respect, is utterly beyond the cognizance of finite beings, except through its manifestations. This God is not an architect, working with inert matter, as theology supposes, for inert matter and a universal being or principle cannot exist at the same time. This Original Principle is parental, projective or procreative, constantly displaying itself in visible forms. Truly, Christ was a child of this universal parent, and so is every human being, as well as all the diversified forms of animal and insect life. All are visible incarnations of the Great Parent. It is not possible for us to be anything else, nor for us to exist apart from and independent of God, as theology imagines. We are all begotten through atomic and elemental unities, and vary as our conditions vary. These diversified conditions change the products, making mineral, vegetable or animal bodies. Underlying all is a common parent and the like materials. We are all of God and God.
“5. God and all things being necessarily one, God and man are therefore one, and all mankind are one, for all men have the like atomic body, with the like identity and qualities, divergified by conditions. All are visible incarnations of the same parent.”
A Universal Primary Principle cannot admit of anything exterior to itself. Whatever is, is necessarily a part of that principle. God and man are, therefore, primarily one, and all men are one as visible incarnations of God. If the light from a screened lamp shine through fifty openings, does the light belong to the flame in the lamp or to the openings? Can the little orifices say: “It is my light?” All incarnations or existences are but like so many openings or mediums through which is exhibited the primary and Original Light, and having no innate light of themselves. They are conditional manifestations of Divinity. We can only approach God through his visible incarnations; and everything that we have cognizance of exhibits just so much of God as we can comprehend, or as he could reveal under the conditions in which he worked. There is one God, one universal incarnated Sonship, one universal brotherhood of humanity.
And in the future, as in past ages, the Everlasting Parent will bring into view new and more perfect manifestations and forms of being, as the proper conditions become more developed. Man is the first being on earth that arrived at any conception of God, and it required almost an eternity to prepare a place for him and develop in him the first rude conceptions of Divinity. And all this time the Original Parent was constantly at work, in embryotic preparations and crude entities; and man, instead of being the finished product and end of God’s work on earth, is only a step to further and higher developments.
“6. The body is the visible incarnation, with certain faculties and qualities, and a conscious identity or ‘I.’ This identity or inherent attribute which calls itself ‘I,’ forming a component part of, or attachment to, the body, and giving us consciousness of existence, would seem to be the invisible and conditional representative of a Conscious Primary Intelligent Existence, whatever we may term it, which requires a visible organization to give it utterance. Does not this visible and invisible conscious and intelligent incarnation constitute Divine Sonship?”
Bodies are indispensable as generators of, and receptacles for, qualities. The “I” that thinks, feels and acts is a product of the body, in common with its other products, and is given to animals as well as man. Destroy the body, and, like any other machine, its qualities and attributes are necessarily destroyed with it. If attributes could exist without bodies, bodies would never have been created, for God does nothing in vain.
Whatever attributes we have, bodily or mental, are the products of convertible forces without us and within us. The higher and more ethereal qualities are only transmutations of those more gross. When the body disappears, all its qualities necessarily go with it.
“I exist,” exclaims man. Here is my body, with its constituents and qualities. All that is within me and forms part of me is mine. Vain illusion, it is not mine for an instant. Nothing is mine but the identity, and what is identity but a consciousness of existence, attached to the body for the time being, like its heat and other qualities? In what does my identity differ from that of my neighbor, except in its recollections and experiences? As our bodies are incarnations of a Primary Principle, what can we call our identities but representatives of a Primary Identity? The most minute organization has its identity, or consciousness of existence, for, without this, existence would be a blank. The identity is an essential part of the body, and can no more exist without body than animal heat can.
“7. As causation, adaptation or intelligent action is witnessed everywhere, this seems analogically to imply that every atom of the universe is an intelligent entity or God-representative. For all the intelligence we meet with works upwards from the invisible atom to and through visible forms. The Universal Principle, or God, in one manifestation, may, therefore express a Universal Atomic Intelligence. God is alike in the visible and invisible.”
The prevailing notion of a Personal Deity, separated from his works, and superintending them, is a delusion derived from the actions of man; for there are many men, and they control each other, and are outside of their works. But God and his works are necessarily a unity, for there is nothing but God. We speak of natural laws and processes, but underlying all these is infinite atomic intelligence, and laws are but the modes in which it works. It constructs the foetus, ushers us into life, builds tip our bodies, heals our wounds or broken bones. There can be no such thing as inert and unintelligent matter. The whole universe contains no visible forms that are not a product of this Primary Atomic Intelligence. It is at work everywhere unceasingly, without beginning or end. The very foundations of the earth, which seems to be inert masses of rock, have had their periods of creative activity and are silently passing through, and preparing for, other changes, with not an intelligent atom in the universe.
What is intelligence but the power to think, to comprehend, to see the relation between effect and cause, and the choice of the best possible action under every circumstance? The more we look into the nature of things the more intelligent action do we behold. Such a thing as fortuitous action or blind chance cannot be met with. Everything in creative action displays intelligence, not only for present contingencies, but for the future developments to grow out of them. There is no finished universe and a resting God, as theology supposes. Constant action and infinite progression marks everything. Every solar system and planet that comes into existence requires an eternity of intelligent atomic action to found and rear it as well as to dissipate and re-create it.
And this Universal Intelligence produces worlds precisely fitted for certain organisms, and generates the organisms to inhabit it. Looking superficially at the vast destructions of life, we are apt to think that it might have been avoided. But the very principle of creation hangs on the making of something out of something that existed before. The dead Old furnishes nutriment for the living New. Immortality is never lost sight of. There is no transmission of an expiring personality into a new body, retaining its old feelings and memories in a supernatural heaven, but there is a new body and a new personality constantly coming into view here, through generation. It is necessary for all things to die that they may live.
An unintelligent Cause could not conceive of nor create intelligence, nor act intelligently; nor could a transient Cause establish immortality. An immortality founded on transmission and re-creation is the only immortality possible. God fills the universe, and the immortality of God himself is exhibited in constant changes and transmutations.
The Mosaic account of creation is such as might be expected from the age in which it was written. Moses supposed that the work of creation ended with the advent of man. “God worked six days and rested on the seventh.” God never rests. To rest for one moment would be everlasting death to the universe. It would be a stoppage of all the forces and causes of creation. God and his works would sink into dissolution, like a body with every vital power destroyed.
We do not know what an atom is any more than we know what God is. The term is used to signify that invisible Something which lays the foundations for and builds up all visible things. It is useless to speak of and divide things into “spirit” and “matter,” when we know not what either is, and cannot separate the one from the other, nor determine their mode of action. It is clear that there is universal intelligence, and that it works upwards from the invisible into visible forms and forces. God is in the invisible atom, whatever it may be. These atoms create and maintain man and other organizations. Their manifestations show that they are necessarily intelligent of themselves, and give rise to other intelligences in organic forms. Man is an intelligent whole, composed of intelligent atomic parts. Therefore, while it is certain that there is infinite God-like intelligence in the atom, it may be, as is the case with man, that there is another intelligence connected with and proceeding from the totality of all things—an Infinite resulting Intelligent Whole— just as man is au intelligent entity or finished human product of intelligent atomic action. There may be an infinite body and an Infinite resultant Identity. As there seems to be a universal institution of two sexes for creative purposes, there may be an infinite dual sex, through which all visible manifestations come into view. But all mere surmises of the finite can establish nothing as to the character of the Unknown Infinite.
“8. This Original Principle, or God, being necessarily infinite in every particular, and consequently inscrutable, can only be very imperfectly conceived of by finite beings. Therefore every theology, tradition, record or belief which affects to authoritatively personify this God or Principle, give it a specific shape or abode, or to claim special revelations as to its desires and intentions in regard to man, is an incongruous absurdity, having no foundation in facts or the nature of things.”
All theologies claim to know what God is, and to have received certain revelations from him, which are to believed under pains and penalties. Yet the devotees of one theology reject and repudiate another without fear or scruple. This is a tacit admission that records lie or priests lie. God did, or did not, give to these peoples their theologies. Did he give to all or only one? And to which did he give? What special claim has one race or one theology over another, as all rest on one assumed foundation from God? Has one any better proofs than another, and do not all these supposed proofs rest in a remote antiquity, beyond examination or verification?
Although we cannot know God, nor set bounds to what he will do, yet our knowledge of natural laws or processes demonstrate clearly what he cannot do. There is no possibility of the Universal Principle shutting itself up in any form or any earthly locality. The part cannot contain the whole. We cannot go back to the origin of theologies, nor is it necessary. We know that God works through the same processes in all ages, and gives all ages the same evidence, whether they are able to receive it or not. All his revelations are universal and never special.
It matters not whether the founders of ancient theologies were deceived themselves, or sought to deceive others, or whether their original teachings have been obscured through vulgar traditions coming down to us through ignorant transcribers. Their theologies are of no more value to the present age than their crude processes of manufacture and transportation. We have outgrown and progressed beyond them in every respect.
The prevailing Christian theology, with its supernatural begetting of One Son of God, from a virgin, is of the same absurd and unreliable character as the ancient theologies, and entitled to no more credence. It is but a partial and imperfect statement of the great truth of the Universal Sonship of Man, obscured by special and impossible conditions. It was the product of a semi-barbarous people and age. Intercourse with the ignorant will continually demonstrate their unreliability in matters even of every-day occurrence. It seems impossible for them to state a case as it is; and this, not from intentional fraud, but intellectual feebleness, and incapacity to separate the real from the imaginary.
“9. The body and associated identity of man or beast which disappears to-day, by dissolution, is replaced by a new existence continually, through new atomic combinations and births; and this constant transmission and continuation of life and identity constitutes immortality, as manifested in individuals, races and organic forms.”
The idea of immortality is very ancient, and is an outgrowth from natural intuitions. Mankind have always been in search of better surroundings and conditions, moved by their progressive impulses; and, having dim intuitions of immortality, invented a promised land, or a fictitious abode beyond the skies, which imagination furnished with everything desirable. Neither the present world nor the present body was satisfactory, therefore an imaginary body was invented to correspond with the imaginary heaven. Every Christian wishes and hopes to be himself in a distant heaven, with everything left out which really makes himself. Every race has its particular heaven and accompanying enjoyments, in correspondence with its habits and development. But modern science and discovery has destroyed one heaven after another, until even the advanced Christian has progressed into doubt. He holds on to his heaven by the single thread of early associations. Preferring existence to annihilation, he has recourse to vain hopes and unsubstantial imaginings.
The Christian theology dooms the majority of mankind to everlasting punishment, because of their disbelief in or ignorance of its tenets. Its heaven was specially for believers and death-bed repenting law-breakers. All these imaginary heavens may be compared to “spiritual” lumber-rooms, invented to stow away the ignorant and undeveloped masses of humanity belonging to past and future ages. For the first man was as immortal as those that came after him, and as much entitled to a heaven.
But God has a better way for securing immortality to man. The race is immortal here on earth, and has power to improve itself generation after generation. Neither God nor man has any need for the accumulated human rubbish of undeveloped ages. We are all constantly reorganized and transformed into new bodies and identities, to whom all ages are alike, for there is an everlasting Present. It is always to-day. To-morrow we never reach.
No supernatural heaven has yet been imagined which would satisfy the ordinary human being for a month. Because he is created and fitted for this world, and no other place; and if death takes away all that makes him man, and bestows something that makes him an “angel,” be that angel whatever he imagines, it is simply a new creation. It would not be the man but the angel that is immortal.
Christian, in common with pagan, immortality has no foundation to stand upon. Constant change and reconstruction is the universal law. There is no such thing as fixity. There is not only no place for such a heaven as theology imagines, but no necessity for a heavenly immortality. All existence is fitted for the sphere in which it has been placed, and we have no experiences in this world that can qualify us for another or change our nature.
Man has existed from a remote antiquity, and he exists to-day. All the way up these centuries he has varied his surroundings, his theologies, and his forms of government. The human race has never perished. What more can we want of immortality? It is “I” that has come along with the centuries. What is it that is born into the world? A form of being termed man or animal, with an identity. Nothing new is created. It is simply a re-organization of existing elements. The races of to-day are formed from the races of yesterday. A child comes into the world, derived from parental elements. Is it a new creation? Certainly not. It is but a continuation and projection forward of father and mother. It is the old, working under new conditions. And this alone constitutes immortality.
It requires so many months to build up a child ready to be born, as well as many years to ripen the parents for propagation. The child enters independent life, and from month to month changes and increases in size, developing bodily and mental faculties. Every day there is an income of new materials and an outgo of those unnecessary. At the end of a year there is none of the original child remaining. And day after day the child vanishes and becomes a man or woman. Look back! Where is the infant that you fondled? Gone! Where the little boy or girl, the youth or maiden, that developed from that infant? Gone! They died and were buried by atoms, and disappeared long years ago. And now the representative of that infant and youth is a decrepit man or woman. It calls itself John, or any other name, but it has passed through continual changes, and those who knew it in some phases do not recognize it in others. How should they, when it has been re-created so many times?
What is it that makes the man or woman still cling to the original name, and declare itself the original creation, after it has died or changed atomically so many times? Nothing but its memories. Take away the memories and one identity does not differ from another, for we are all unstable atomic structures, constantly intermixed, built and rebuilt out of each other.
Immortality is continued existence. Man, in his fourscore years, is an epitome of the progress and immortality of the race. He has passed through a multitude of phases. His origin and infancy are to him buried in obscurity. If his childhood and youth vanished, what chance theologically for the immortality of his old age? What is it that the Christian believes will be immortal? All that formed this venerable John has been scattered to the winds little by little for four-score years and four-score times. Shall that decrepit body and infantile mind inherit the immortality expected and desired by the Christian? If this is unsatisfactory, what phase of his being would he chose for immortality? As well expect to eat again the good dinner he ate fifty years since. The body goes where ancient races have gone, to the earth from whence it came. Is it the “soul” you would have endure? That soul is “I,” and it is always in the living, constantly projected forward through generation, and always here.
Although John has disappeared, he yet lives in his children. His instincts perpetuated his identity in them. They differ from him only as circumstances and surroundings have made them vary. There is the same “I am.” It is an immortal attachment to changeable and perishable bodies, but has no existence apart from body. “I” have endured through all time, but not John himself. “I” is but a ray of the Original Light, connected with and shining through a visible organization. It has power to perpetuate itself, generation after generation. Therefore John, under various names and forms, exists for ages. The identity connected with him is immortal. And the same “I” and the like immortality, appertains to every organization. One identity, as such, has no pre-eminence above another, for identity itself is only consciousness of existence, and consciousness of existence is all that we desire to be immortal. And it passes by generation through all the ages, and is attached to all living forms.
John, at the age of ten years, differs from himself at the age of five as much as he differs from other children around him. There is not a particle in the one John that belonged to the other. John is not himself for a day. New elements are added to and taken away at every moment. And yet John instinctively clings to his body for the time being as part of his identity, because without body there can be no identity. But there is no essential difference in the constituents of one body and another, and no difference in the identity attached to them, any more than there is in the electricity connected with different batteries. Our recollections are all by which we can know ourselves. So really there is a universal atomic homogeneity of body and a homogeneity of identity as such. The like principles permeate all. All men are one, and God and man are one. The very conditions of existence mix us with each other continually. There is no room for pride or exclusiveness. We are all John, under varying conditions. All “I,” with nothing but memories to distinguish us. All God, under crude and imperfect manifestations.
How is it that we love our children above all others? Because the preservation and continuation of an immortal identity is secured by our procreative and parental instincts. A child comes to us, and we love it and make all sacrifices for it. Why? To perpetuate our identity. We should feel the same love for any other child in the place of ours, if we did not know the difference. What a heaven of love we shall enjoy when we realize and- act upon the idea that all children are ours—the same flesh and blood, with the like identity and qualities!
“10. Therefore, as man is immortal through continual birth, generation after generation, it is the paramount duty, as well as the vital interest of all individuals, to transmit to themselves perfect bodies and faculties; and also to devise and establish the best possible social, industrial, educational and other conditions and surroundings, that every generation may become superior to its predecessor, physically, morally, intellectually and socially. For immortality is here on earth; it is here that we are to experience our enjoyments or sufferings, our heaven or hell, as living individual and collective identities, age after age; reaping as the sons and daughters what we sowed as the parents, whether good or evil.”
With a natural unity between God and man, and man with man, why should there exist unnatural and artificial social and religious antagonisms? For all human antagonisms are unnatural and artificial, and arise from inappropriate conditions and surroundings. These antagonisms, individual and national, have existed from the remotest times, because men carry with them into civilization the same tendencies which while savages, are essential to their existence. No theology or form of government has ever created or maintained domestic or national peace. Why?
The causes of quarrels lie in opposing interests. Certain essentials are necessary to the maintenance and enjoyment of life, and these being naturally in limited supply, and only to be had through labor or robbery, men dispute as to the possession of them. Existing civilization, with its labor-saving appliances, has increased the supply, but through “usury” and misdirected “profits,” has drawn the surplus into specific channels, thereby creating and maintaining antagonistic classes and interests. So far, an imperfect Christian civilization has not tended to peace, for there is more wrong, suffering, robbery and hatred in civilized than in savage life. And its theology itself, ostensibly an element of peace, teems with antagonisms, and its record is one of blood-thirsty vindictiveness and cruel oppression.
What modern civilization must have is social harmony, based on unitary interests and a unitary religious idea. The unity of God with man, and man with man, furnishes a basis for a religion and a social order that can have no antagonisms, and no diversity of interests, while it is an incentive to the highest moral action. But even this great principle will be powerless unless accompanied by a social system in correspondence with it. The social system must be as unitary as the religious idea itself, and serve as a superstructure for the maintenance of the religion and its universal exercise in action.
Analyzing society, civilized and semi civilized, we find it divided into classes, representing rich and poor, employers and employed; those with abundance and those on the point of starvation. And we also discover that it is the workers, the most useful of all, that are in the worst position. These social antagonisms are a bar to all religious harmony or fraternal feeling, for every man is more or less in enmity and antagonism with every other man.
If these social divisions were natural under all circumstances, there would be no hope for anything but revolutions and destructive outbreaks. But they are purely artificial, and can be remedied and re-adjusted without wrong. The co-operation of any number of men, all working for a common object, and sharing the results of their labor in common, has in numerous cases given proof that social divisions were unnecessary and prejudicial. General cooperation furnishes the means for a re-adjustment of the social forces, for co-operation can do all that isolated action can do, and accomplish greater results at less waste. Our system of government itself is based on political cooperation, and must be supplemented by industrial co-operation, or it will retrograde under adverse influences.
Education, imperfect as it is, has stirred up thought everywhere, while the pressure of poverty incites to rebellious action everywhere. Capital and labor must come together as a unit, and work harmoniously and equitably, or capital must run its risks of forcible disruptions and vast destructions. There is no other alternative. Labor is at the limit of endurance to the heartless demands of an arrogant and anti-republican capital. There is chronic war on all sides. No form of faith can prevent a rupture so long as present social relations are maintained.
As the necessities of the age demand and will have a new Social and Religious Dispensation, as a step to further material and religious progress; and as no one can determine how or when it shall take place; we ought to prepare for it by considering the principles and practices that are the most efficacious in the production of wealth and the most equitable in its distribution. For we ought to progress from the Old into the New by peaceful steps if possible.
There are some among us who look to Christianity alone for the adjustment of all difficulties. But Christianity in its present and past phases has been a failure, because it has been environed by the same fatal social conditions, and burdened with revolting creeds and childish superstitions. It has belittled God in a vain attempt to elevate a special humanity, but it most now expand into the broader idea of a unitary humanity inseparable from God.
From the absence of favorable social conditions, Christianity, notwithstanding its peace principles, has never been able to prevent wars, or industrial disturbances, or general distress. It has never had power or desire to control social evils that ought to have been prevented, nor to institute such social conditions as were in accord with its leading idea of equity and harmony, or else it has, through its priestly leaders, been faithless to its principles. Whereas, true religion, or right action, should permeate every institution and impress its character everywhere. There must be no opposition between religious principles and material interests, or the interests will push the religion aside. The whole social structure should be in correspondence with its religious idea, and then religion and action will be synonymous. An equalitarian Christianity has been smothered under social inequalities.
In the New Era, the common unity of humanity must be brought into action by a general union of societary interests. The universal unity cannot admit of hostile classes and social antagonisms. Its equalitarian principles must pervade every department of society and every phase of industry. It can know nothing of superior or inferior in respect to rights or social position.
No man nor church can set bounds to progress, nor institute usages suitable for all time. Every generation must be left free to discuss, modify or change an existing status. For progress is perpetual, and humanity and its institutions must advance together. But the great effort of Christianity in all ages, as personified by its priests and ecclesiastical powers, has been to prevent progress in any direction. It has defended every species of slavery. It has anathematized science and persecuted its votaries. It has denounced all religious investigation and reform. It has spared no cruelties and known nothing of mercy or remorse. And to-day, shorn of its power to oppress, it is dumb in respect to social justice, or arrayed on the side of the oppressor.
All religious history seems mainly a record of a church and its votaries to show the world how little religion they had in action, and how little they knew of its underlying principles. Instead of exhibiting humanity elevated and beatified by contact with God, it has shown only humanity clothed in the attributes of the tiger and the wolf, and feasting on the blood of the best men of all ages.
The special privileges of kings, aristocracies and churches have been the bane of the world in all times. In the -United States, these privileges have been abrogated only in name. The man of money is distinguished f rom. the man of labor. He is the representative of the king, the aristocrat and the church. He grows fat through the spoliation of labor by profit and usury, and strong through the legislation which a servile and dependent labor permits him to control. He is an alien from Christianity in spirit and practice. The brotherhood of humanity is to him a myth or a pious fraud.
There is no inherent betterness or worseness in any class. Each is what its conditions and surroundings make it. As classes and their vices and antagonisms grow out of conditions, the overthrow and destruction of the rich, and their replacement by the poor would remedy nothing. It would only be a change of tyrannies. One class and one common unitary interest, social and religious, is the only remedy for social wrongs and abuses.
Men brought together in material union are nearer to spiritual and religious union. The removal of one antagonism prepares the way to destroy others. Universal cooperation for the material welfare of all is only one step from the religious co-operation and union of all. But class divisions are fatal to true religious union. Where one man is dependent on another for work and bread, he is in social serfdom, and his serf status follows him even into the church. His inferiority is impressed upon him everywhere.
Rich men were denounced by Christ, and they have suffered in all ages through convulsions and revolutions. But the condition of the masses was never improved by any of these changes, for they never changed the social status of labor, nor gave it industrial liberty.
It is a law of nature that man shall earn his living by the sweat of his brow, and this should never be set aside by artificial distinctions and usages. The unjust distribution of the products of labor creates and maintains rival classes in perpetuity. And an “ upper,” wealthy and idle class is always supported at the expense of a “ lower” and industrious poor one. For all wealth comes from labor, those who do neither head work nor hand work are a burden to those who toil, and the greater their wealth the greater the burden and wrong.
If five millions of men working for wages earn twenty dollars a week each, there is a hundred millions of wealth created every week. If, through profits, interest or usury, and other fictitious claims, capital, represented by the employing class and money lenders, appropriates half the value created, and pays each worker only ten dollars for what is worth twenty, the workers are weekly defrauded of fifty millions of dollars. This system forms the basis of all trade, and by it the capitalist classes are enabled to maintain their supremacy and luxurious, surroundings. Through this plunder of labor, capital builds palaces for dwellings and palaces to contain its goods, while the impoverished and defrauded workman knows not where to lay his head. Every city is filled with these accumulations, derived from the toils of the farmer and wage-workers. Every railroad, city, mine and factory represents the withheld earnings of labor, while the toilers themselves are on the verge of beggary.
No mere political changes or revolutions can remedy inherent social evils. No such-change has ever interfered with the right of one class to hold another in industrial servitude, and draw profit and usury from it. It has never been attempted to change the relations between capital and labor, or relieve labor from bondage, or establish an equitable system of production and distribution. Therefore, it matters not whether a government be termed republican or monarchical, for labor suffers” the same social disabilities and losses under each form. * The universal organization of labor and capital on some co-operative basis under popular control, supplied with the necessary currency representing time employed in labor, furnishing constant work and abundant wages, creating and equitably distributing products of all kinds, must be looked to as a remedy for every social wrong and robbery.
No one outside of the wages-classes can have an adequate idea of the sufferings and sacrifices of men and women wage-workers in times of low wages and scarcity of employment. It leads to drunkenness, theft, prostitution, and every other abuse of humanity. It tends to imbrute whole populations and destroy all moral impulses. What can be expected of classes chained down to the lowest and most debasing conditions of humanity? The home is as a dungeon and the workshop as a prison, and capital holds the key of both.
We read of the blood-thirsty ferocity displayed at the French Revolution. The same traits will be found in all peoples, under the like conditions of poverty and tyranny, produced by classes and class governments appropriating all that is created. The same spirit of hatred is among us today, and spreading rapidly in all directions. Force sometimes temporarily suppresses outbreaks, but is it not better to repress them by the higher sentiments and feelings that grow out of improved conditions?
The New Social and Religious Dispensation does not come to destroy capital nor plunder industry. Its mission is to rectify and not establish abuses. Work and wages must be assured under all contingencies, for these lie at the foundation of all national and individual wealth and advancement. It will take away from ruling classes all opportunity or excuse for the plunder of labor.
A common material interest serves as a bond of union in a certain degree, but experience shows that other forms of union are more binding and self-sacrificing. Members of a business partnership are satisfied if each has his share. There is no inducement for one to give anything to another. But men and women are ready to make great sacrifices as lovers or parents. Humanity can be moved by powerful internal influences that do not regard profit or loss. A man and woman may feel alone in the world, but they come together and love, and each has something to live for. Children are born to them, and add to the love and enjoyments. Outside family attachments are formed among neighbors and relatives, and the circle of love is indefinitely extended. Remove antagonisms in interest, personal and religious, and it is the tendency of love to grow and adhere to all it comes in contact with.
And this tendency will constantly increase as we come to realize that every person is only ourselves under different conditions—the like body and identity, with the same capacity for love and friendly intercourse—an incarnation of the same God. . .
Our attachments are now guided mainly by accident. A couple marry and the relatives of each belong to the “family.” The choice of other partners would have allied them with other families, and guided their sympathies in another direction. They would have had the same love for the one family as they now have for the other. All these attachments, being conditional, prove conclusively that mankind are capable of universal love under the proper expanded conditions. Our class divisions, opposing interests, or the prescriptive customs of the world keep us isolated when we yearn for friendly communion. Let us so widen our sympathies and intercourse that every human being is a member of the “family.”
But antagonism of interests is the bane of all religion and religious action and social fraternity. It generates within us “the world, the flesh and the devil.” It withers the affinities and loves that are ready to blossom and scatter perfume. It binds us in a groveling selfishness. We forget unity and fraternity, and self-interest is the idol to be ministered to. Therefore is it essential that we should be placed in conditions favorable to the development of our highest faculties and purest enjoyments. Love and friendship are capable of infinite expansion, and their gratifications are the greatest and most satisfactory. The more love is expanded, and the greater its scope, the more intense and continuous our pleasures.
The grand exhortation to “love our neighbor as ourselves” is impossible of fulfillment when that neighbor occupies the position of a tyrant or a plunderer. The key that unlocks the mystery why a man should love his neighbor as himself, is found in the fact that his neighbor is himself, under different conditions. This great truth underlies the whole fabric of the New Dispensation, and suggests what ought to be done. There must be no more tyranny and robbery. The tyrant unknowingly tortures and abuses himself. An identity suffers, and that identity is in divine relationship with all other identities.
Therefore, not precepts, nor a dry sense of duty can remedy social evils. The remedy must come through conditions and environments. Every institution or usage that is a bar to universal sympathy and union must be abolished. We must have no enemies, and no conditions that generate them. A universal fraternity can exist only under fraternal surroundings. It can have no place among antagonisms. Our institutions, for thousands of years, have generated wild-beast men, in defiance of religion; and the religion itself has partaken of the evil elements of humanity, and taught us of a cruel and avenging deity, dealing punishments here and damnation hereafter.
But the recognition of the unity of God with man, and of man with man, in homogeneous identity, prepares for the advent of the God-man. He will grow out of this fundamental idea of the divinity of man, coupled with the proper surroundings for the growth and development of the divine spirit. For this divine spirit increases or is smothered by its conditions, as they are good or bad.
And what is this divine spirit? It is a sense and feeling of unity with God, in conjunction with unity and love towards man. The God-man must act toward his fellow man as God acts towards him. God is his umpire, and judges him through his own identity. There is no distant personal God, that may be looking another way, and be deceived, but himself is God incarnated; and a man cannot believe his own lies.
Still, conditions lie at the foundation of worlds, science, religion, progress and everything else. Something precedes the something that follows, and that which follows partakes of the conditions of its birth, be they perfect or imperfect. There is no such thing as a power that can override everything and violate principles. The Infinite always works conditionally, and within limits. And therefore, whatever their religion or belief, there can be no God-men under conditions that inevitably create devilmen. It is the conditions that determine growth.
Christ was an approximate God-man, and various countries and ages have produced God-men in degree, because as individuals they were begotten, born and lived under conditions uncommonly favorable to the development of their higher nature. But the great mass of mankind, whether rich or poor, have been subjected to animal and inferior conditions, and have exhibited nothing but animal humanity: It was not possible for them to be anything else, under the influence of their environments before and after birth.
Look backward at the state of the world in any age. Were the Jews ever in conditions favorable to the development of a high type of humanity, with their constant wars, internal conflicts, conquests and captivities? Never. Has the Christian world ever been under favorable conditions, with its hierarchical, monarchical and aristocratic despotisms, its social inequalities, its constant wars and mutual butcheries? Never. Mankind have been too ignorant of the underlying principles of their religion, and incapable of organizing a social system in correspondence with them. Christianity has exhibited no pre-eminence over paganism in the production of perfect men and women.
But knowledge and advancement in various directions have prepared the way for a New Dispensation, social, political, and religious. All opinions and practices are improvable. There is no more fixity in religious belief than in anything else. Every religion is simply an exponent or measure of the theological and mental status of the age in which it originates or holds sway. There are partial truths underlying all theologies; but creeds, beliefs and outward ceremonials modify themselves to suit the changing conditions. Wherever the people are hidebound in a theology, they are hidebound in all else. To sleep and dream in an antiquated supernaturalism is to sleep and dream in everything. Wherever there is theological progress in the world to-day, it has grown out of scientific and other progress. The theological advance has always been a result of outside growth and pressure. Theology never advances of itself, but is unwillingly dragged along with other things. And wherever at this day an ancient theology holds the people in bondage, there science is ignored, original thought and invention is stifled, and old customs and processes furnish a scanty reward for toil. Every improvement originates with outsiders, for a dead theology deadens everything with which it conies in contact. What are Brahminism, Mohamedanism or Catholicism doing for the world to-day? What have they ever done?
There can be no doubt that all our modern improvements, such as the steam engine, telegraph, railroads, and labor-saving appliances of all kinds were made by men intellectually outside of churches; more or less materialists and unbelievers, with never a priest of any kind among them. No church or theology, notwithstanding centuries of priestly leisure, has ever done anything towards the progress of the race in inventions, arts or sciences; because science, investigation and original thought have always been deemed inimical to the prevailing religion, whatever it termed itself. The time which priests have wasted in the discussion and solution of imaginary and trivial accompaniments of their theology, and the recording of spurious miracles and supernatural traditions, might have revolutionized the world if properly directed.
Through all the ages we encounter the great fact of the coming out of and going back to the earth of all diversified forms of existence. Generations arise and disappear, one after the other. All things, through generation, exhibit the constant flow of a natural immortality.
Man and woman of three-score years and ten, what do you see around you? The little prattlers of fifty years since? No, they have changed even as you are changed. Where are your teeth and hair, your plump outlines of beauty and strength? Gone. They have been gradually disappearing for years, and giving you warnings of the end of an incarnation. And to-day, at the family gathering, there are men and women you would not know but for constant intercourse with them. Who are they? Your sons and daughters, who are taking your place. They are not the children you fondled, but men with beards, and matronly women. And along with them are children once more. Who are they? Yourselves, coming again upon the stage of juvenile life, to go through similar experiences which you have already passed through. What better immortality can you have than one which comes upon the earth continually, in a new body, always fresh and sweet and pure? What better immortality could that toothless, deaf, and half-blind old man devise or desire? What is there about himself that he would have immortal? There he is once more, in children and grandchildren, with the world and its enjoyments before him.
And this is not a fanciful and incomprehensible immortality, in an imaginary sphere, but a visible and constant reality, always in view. It cannot be denied or doubted, for there is the man, and the man again in the child. There is a new body and a new identity, so far as anything can be new which is merely re-formed or re-created. Here is an immortality that furnishes continual proof. It has come down through the ages, and will continue in some earthly form forever. It gives you the opportunity to provide your self-successor with the advantages you have felt the need for. You can, through better conditions, have happier times in the new than in the old life. And you can begin to control these conditions whenever you choose, through such social changes as will be efficient. You can remove a multitude of obstructions which stood in your way, and made your life one of toil and anxiety. Wonderful is life, and immortality through life.
And through all this immortality there passes along “I,” the conscious existence. John dies and disappears, but “I” never die. “I” am the same “yesterday, to-day and forever.” All the good things of life, essential to the continuance or enjoyment of “I” come into view along with it, or can be produced by its efforts. And all through its immortal career this “I” constantly struggles to maintain and perpetuate itself. Its perpetuating powers are as strong as its maintaining impulses, because they are essential for the continuance of “I” through its immortality.
It is hard for the Christian to give up his imaginary theological immortality and become an unbeliever. He clings to theological immortality as the only refuge from annihilation. He asks, shall he, with all his attributes, utterly disappear forever? He cannot endure the thought. He dare not think or examine. He trusts for future life to his theological imaginings, however destitute they may be of proof.
But it would be just as rational to grieve because he does not realize a past life. Immortality implies unending existence. Immortal creatures cannot be constantly coming up from nothing, as theology supposes. That which is to live again after death must have lived before present birth. If “I” is to be immortal in the future it must have been immortal in the past.
And just such is the natural immortality in view around us. It cannot go back to its own beginning nor determine its end. All it can realize is that it exists. Every individual life is but as a drop in the constant stream of immortality. Its advent, with its brief term of experiences, sorrows and enjoyments, is but as the ticking of a clock to mark the flight of time. What it accomplishes of good or great endures in the memories and records of the race. It is extolled for its good and denounced for its evil actions. Every “I” is but an improved or degenerate successor of itself. We read of the great and good men of old. Who were they? “I.” The same conscious identity that toils and works for man to-day. It is known by various names, and exists under different conditions, but it is always and everywhere the same “I.” It is only “I” that is immortal, and there is but one universal “I” under different forms and manifestations.
In this age of the world it is folly for theology to attempt to rest upon its ancient records, and declare them to be special revelations from God. For it is not possible for God to give any special revelations, or have personal favorites. God always works through natural, and never supernatural agencies. If any man conceives of a great truth, social, political or religious, it is because he has superior internal and external conditions for its discovery. It would be just as reasonable to attribute all of our modern discoveries to special revelations, as to suppose that Moses, Christ, Plato, or any of the ancient seers were specially inspired.
The world is full of great truths and principles, and we discover them one after another. And the discoveries already made are as trifles compared with those to come in the future, under improved conditions of the race. What man discovers now, as in the past, of the new and wonderful, is simply through growth and enlarged opportunities. All that we know to-day might have been known five thousand years since, had men been ripened to the discovery, for every truth and principle was there, ready to be appropriated. But the boy cannot exercise the functions of the man, simply because of unripeness, and not from inherent deficiency. Past ages were merely boy ages, filled with wild imaginings of things which time and ripeness dissipate or establish.
And it is from that boy age that all nations derive their theologies. Why should a childish theology be maintained after we have discarded all the institutions and usages originally connected with it? What pre-eminence has the Jews-harp we have retained, over the pagan rattles we have thrown away?
The theologies of all past ages are as unreliable as the conceptions of children, and are filled with imaginary structures raised on imperfectly-conceived truths. Every new theology rested on that which preceded it. The conditions of growth necessitated this. And in the same manner, the coming New Dispensation, founded on the unity of God with man and of man with man, is but the projection forward and ripening of the Christian idea of God made manifest in one man, as a son, and the paramount duty of neighborly love. We have now advanced to the still higher truth of the Universal Sonship, or incarnation of God in all men, and the universal unity of all men as one identity. This idea will admit of no social or religious antagonisms, for why should a man be at war with himself? And it necessitates the adoption of a social system and industrial usages that will destroy all antagonism. Man must be in harmony with man before he can be in harmony with God. He cannot be in harmony with the one while in discord with the other.
And as all discords or harmonies arise from conditions, it is of paramount importance that the construction of society be based on such equitable conditions as will make harmony a thing of natural growth. Men cannot legislate harmony, nor can it grow out of cold duties and mere forms. It must come up out of men’s hearts, as a spontaneous and pleasurable impulse. But it can only grow effectually out of the best conditions and surroundings for growth. And these arise from universal equitable conditions, and the absence of all causes for discords. And there is no more fruitful source of discord than class divisions and antagonisms, arising from confused ideas and practices as to what is “mine” and “thine.” It is essential that a certain portion of the products of my labor should be “mine.” The natural resources essential for all should be “ours.” Justice to the individual underlies justice to society, just as the welfare of the individual forms the basis for the welfare of the mass.
For ages society has been governed by monarchies or aristocracies, civil or ecclesiastical. The masses have been suffused with the idea of the natural inferiority of the “lower” class, and the superiority of the “upper” one. The same idea permeates all theology. There is an imaginary King of all things, and lesser unsubstantial beings to do his bidding. Man has been taught that he is a poor, degraded wretch, utterly unworthy of all care or thought by the Divine Monarch, who nevertheless has some pity for him, and has provided a way into immortal bliss. And in all theologies the only true way lies in belief in that special theology, and the observance of its edicts.
But everything proclaims the universe to be a Grand Republic. There is neither monarchy nor aristocracy. Every atom is the equal of every other atom, and represents the same Divine Principle. And every form of being has its proper sphere in the great republic, and its duties to perform, not as an inferior, but as a co-equal. Nothing is to be held in contempt, for everything is a necessary part of the Great Whole, partaking more or less of the same character and attributes.
Man, as the highest type of being oil earth, has the characteristics of lower types of life as well as those pertaining exclusively to himself. His highest enjoyments come from the exercise of his highest faculties. Experience having shown that his development in every respect depends on conditions, he must surround himself with environments that insure the development of his highest faculties. He must replace the animal-man by the Godman. There is no end to the evolution of enjoyments in our progress towards God.
The laws connecting ourselves with the things and energies around us are yet as a sealed book. We have no conception of the power in store for us. We cannot obtain this power until conditions and growth have qualified us to use it properly. Nothing is given to us or withheld as a curse, but only as a temporary obstacle, whereby we may attain more knowledge, strength, and capacity for progress. We are compelled to acquire a knowledge of good through a knowledge of evil. Every false theology, every governmental tyranny, every ruinous war, has been a necessary step towards progression. They were the rough cultivation humanity needed as a preparation for a higher growth. All forms of existence go through the like vicissitudes. The universe is but a sphere for the everlasting conditional progress of all within it.”
Therefore man is not dependent for future enjoyments on any theological monstrosity termed heaven, in some indefinite locality. He must create his heaven here, and has power to make it what he will. He needs no “thrones, dominions, principalities or powers,” as directive agencies. His heaven must be a republic, with the greatest ministering to the least. All the heaven he was capable of enjoying has surrounded him constantly through his long pilgrimage. So far it has been a heaven of sense, an animal heaven, just because man was little better than an animal, with indefinite aspirations and yearnings for a true manhood, and the powers and enjoyments connected with it.
We must learn to regard the past and present merely as steps to the future. A progressive universe will carry us along with it; and transmitted immortality gives us abundant time to achieve everything. What we cannot accomplish in one age we must carry forward into another. We must feel the trustfulness of children in connection with the efforts of manhood, for God is within us and around us continually. God never wearied nor rested through the long geological epochs that preceded and were essential to our advent. Then why should we worry, and deem a thing impossible, because we cannot accomplish it in a generation or age? “I” never dies. We of to-day are the men who built the pyramids and founded Rome; somewhat changed, somewhat progressed, through so many centuries, but tilled with the same old yearnings, aspirations and hopes, modified by our changed conditions and surroundings.
No man ever realizes personal birth or death. We merely awake and go to sleep. No new-born creature is ever astonished to find itself in the world. It seems to have come to a place familiar to it. A child is born. There is an endless eternity behind it and another before it. Do we ever grieve because we cannot realize any existence in the past eternity, and have no personal memories connected with it? What folly to “suppose that we are entitled to the eternity to come, unless we are connected •with the eternity that has passed! Was not the one as desirable as the other? Surely the experiences and memories of one incarnation at a time are sufficient for progress and enjoyment.
Whatever principle is immortal in the future must have been immortal in the past. And the only principle that is immortal is “I.” It is the everlasting representative of the Original Identity, and the medium through which it enjoys its own creations.
With a human immortality before us on this world, we ought to be filled with pleasurable ideas, and know nothing of fears or anxieties. How grand the great truth that “I” have existed from the beginning, and can never die! What possibilities are before an immortal and progressive “I,” surrounded by natural agencies and energies capable of being controlled; enduring from century to century as a thinking and acting personage, with power to modify and change his surroundings, and create all conceivable enjoyments! In comparison with this real and natural immortality, deduced from the nature of things, how unsubstantial and unsatisfactory the imaginary immortality of antiquated theology, whether pagan or Christian?
United and identified with God as we are, we cannot limit the extent of our dominion over the energies around us and within us. The animal-man will disappear and the God-man take his place. In the conquest of natural agencies lie man’s greatest triumphs and his highest enjoyments. The nearer his advances to God, the greater his power. Man has yet to learn that God is within him and around him. An unprogressed theology has prevented this knowledge and separated God and man, filling the first with wrath and the last with fear. The New Dispensation will replace fear and doubt by love and trust. Man has been deemed rebellious when he was only ignorant. Theology treats him as a vicious and ill-broken horse, and delivers him over to future lashings with whips of fire in an unknown world.
Our greatest modern inventions are but conquests of natural forces. The defective structure of society has turned these inventions to the benefit of individuals and classes, instead of society at large. Society itself cannot stand the strain of the inequalities of labors and rewards engendered by modern appliances. We must halt, and readjust, and reconstruct. To the bulk of mankind there is nothing worth living for here, and they have outgrown the delusion of there being anything worth dying for in the theological world hereafter. The masses are approximating to the condition of the wild beast, and this wild beast is striving to discover how he shall best free himself from his chains. Injustice and spoliation have hardened his heart. It is not the mere animal-man but the devil-man, engendered by itself, that confronts modern civilization. He has done so before, in other times, and the shrieks of outraged women and perishing children have been music to him, when mingled with the roaring of burning dwellings and the butchery of their defenders. Man is terrible as a devil, loveable as a man, wonderful as a trod.
The earth is an inexhaustible reservoir of beauties and enjoyments, to be called forth through knowledge and labor. We have great cities filled with beautiful structures, that contain all varieties of fabrics of silk and wool, and cotton, and metals, wood and other materials. Paintings and statuary adorn our palaces, and books and musical instruments conduce to the enjoyments of their inhabitants. Also manufacturing establishments of all kinds, filled with wonderful machinery, are scattered around in all directions. The streets teem with men, women and children, horses and vehicles. Railroads traverse the country in all directions, carrying passengers and commodities from place to place. Telegraph wires enable us to converse with each other when separated by thousands of miles. Ponderous steam-engines perform the labor of Titans, and ask no food but fuel and water. The country is dotted with pleasant homes, filled with happy families.
Yet all that we see around us to-day of animate or inanimate has come up out of the depths of this wonderful earth, so despised by theology. And almost the whole of it has arisen in one brief century. And most of the things we see to-day will, by the close of another century, have disappeared again into the unknown earth. And age after age these things, like ourselves, come up and disappear without exciting any special wonder.
These changes are made use of by the theologian as arguments to show us that things here are uncertain and perishable, and therefore we must look to an imaginary heavenly world for fixity and immortality. But the things around us change no more than we do. They, like us, illustrate birth, development and decay. And these constant successions are necessary accompaniments of our earthly immortality. An unchangeable earth or heaven would degenerate into a place of torment. As the ripened man is not confined to the stature and intelligence of the child, so no age is satisfied with the contingencies deemed adequate by a preceding age. There is not only an immortality of existence here on earth, but a constant change of conditions and surroundings to make this immortality pleasurable. Every conceivable enjoyment will come to us as we become able to discover it and create it by the exercise of our faculties.
Instead of being a forlorn and miserable wretch, cursed by God and doomed to disagreeable toil and suffering; throughout his brief days, in a land of barrenness, man is in reality a demi-god, an immortal God-Son, representing an immortal God-Father. All the stores and energies of earth are at the command of man. He has but willed it, and worked for it, and lo, in a century he has filled half a continent with his own wonderful creations. Enjoyments of all kinds await but his intelligent bidding to spring into existence. What unutterable folly to give up the real and good we have here in a blind attempt to grasp the unsubstantial and impossible in an imaginary world!
So far, our class divisions seem to have been necessary to secure accumulations of wealth, and establish a material foundation for progress. However they may have originated, they have not only perpetuated but widened the social inequality, until some classes have everything and others nothing. There is no satisfying enjoyment for either class, and no stability in the position of those with the greatest possessions. Social reconstruction will necessarily be of advantage to both, because it will do away with all antagonisms, and ensure the stability of all that is good. Wealth is good, palaces are good, all sorts of labor-saving appliances are good. Social reconstruction does not come to destroy, but to increase and expand enjoyments, and place them within the reach of all.
Whatever may happen in the near future from destructive conflicts between rival classes, still, hidden in the solid earth, invisible and as yet intangible, lie new cities, new machines, new and vast stores of wealth to be enjoyed, and new men and women to enjoy them. These new men and women are ourselves, the cities and the wealth will be ours. All will in time come forth as naturally as, and far more harmoniously and equitably than, the wealth creations that surround us to-day.
Therefore is it not folly, utter insanity, for the rich to trample upon the poor, and make them beasts of burden, even for the short space of one incarnation of “I?” Everything that degrades or elevates one generation or class acts unfavorably or favorably on the next. The poor and the rich are but the same identity under different conditions.
Compromises, reconciliations, and an industrial reconstruction injure none, but will benefit all. Social reconstruction does not aim to take from those who have, but to create anew from the great storehouse of Nature for those who have nothing. A chaotic and destructive struggle for and division of what exists to-day would be a detriment to all classes. Everything should be done to prevent such a calamity. But it is suicidal to appeal to force, the common weapon of despotism to maintain itself. For force invites force to oppose it, and out of these opposing forces have come the greatest disasters to mankind.
The present condition of society demonstrates the anti-Christian character of its arrangements, and the powerlessness of a misunderstood Christianity to cope with the innumerable antagonisms that grow out of them.
Society is as a ship sailing on a voyage of discovery. There are the crew and the officers. The crew work hard and are half-starved, while the officers riot in luxury. And yet there are plenty of good things on board to supply the wants of all. The crew are about to mutiny, and enter upon a struggle for less toil and more rations. They number five to one of the officials. In a trial of brute strength, which is the most likely to be overpowered?
Shall they fight and half dismantle the ship during their bloody struggle? It is a question both of the rights of man and the rights of society. The wage-workers may be destroyed by the thousands, and capital given to the flames by the tens of millions. And at the end of the struggle comes the inevitable compromise, and the cessation of the conflict. So end all wars. Why should they ever begin?
If there were but one mouthful, and the issue was between famishing men as to who should possess it, there could be no compromises. The winner would only perish a few hours later than the loser. But the coming struggle is not for the last mouthful. There is an abundance for all. It is to decide whether a class shall retain in perpetuity ten times more than it can consume, while another class is slowly perishing. The question is one of equity and Christianity as well as policy. It is a matter that really requires no argument, much less a brutal conflict. It is not whether those who have shall share with those who have not, but whether, through new industrial arrangements, the latter shall be permitted to create an abundant portion for themselves. Capital, worse than the dog in the manger, cannot consume what it has, and yet insists upon gathering more continually.
NECESSITY FOR A NEW DISPENSATION.
IT IS useless to attempt to decide in advance what shall be the exact structure of society even at the beginning of the New Dispensation. But there are certain principles and usages in existing society which experience has shown to be effective for the production and distribution of wealth. The co-operation of labor and the co-operation of capital produce gigantic results. Our railroads, telegraphs, and other great works illustrate this. No individual effort could have accomplished anything in this direction. To effect these great works requires the organization of labor in various departments. Some men work at one thing and some at another. The result is a railroad several hundred miles long, equipped with engines and cars of various kinds, for the conveyance of passengers and freight.
All that was required to accomplish this result was labor, material, and a circulating medium, which could be exchanged for clothing, subsistence, and other essentials. Every large manufacturing establishment is carried on under similar conditions. Thousands of head and hand workers are employed, and they co-operate together to effect certain results.
Whatever private capital and private organization of labor can effect, either in production or distribution, can be quicker and better done by co-operative capital and organization. Every army illustrates what capital and organization can accomplish. An army of half-a-million of men, scattered throughout a country, is daily fed and provided for, and accomplishes certain results, without confusion or loss. The same principles of organization which are applied to an army can be adapted to a nation. Labor can be co-operatively organized in every locality, for manufacturing or other purposes; furnished with currency and materials, and so directed as to produce and exchange unlimited quantities of fabrics and essentials. There should not be in the whole nation one person unable to procure employment. And the payment made can and should be adequate to support all in the comforts and luxuries of life, for it represents just what has been created.
All this can be effected through local and general government, which must leave the political and enter upon the industrial phase. The nation must furnish work and supplies for the nation, through general co-operation. It can accomplish with ease what individual and corporate capital has hitherto failed to do. Governmental agencies, local or general, now provide for armies, navies, the support of the indigent and insane, public education, improvement of highways, the administration of justice, the repression of crime, the transmission of letters and newspapers, and almost everything essential for the preservation and welfare of society, except its two great vital needs —employment and wages. For on abundant work and abundant wages rests the prosperity and security of the whole social fabric. With these, everything goes well. Without them, all goes ill.
There is more reason why the collective authority, or government, should provide work and wages than for anything else it does, on account of their vital importance. They underlie everything and provide for everything. The present deplorable condition of society, with its prisons filled with criminals and its workhouses with tramps and paupers; its cities teeming with half-employed and unemployed men and women; its starring multitudes with no place to lay their heads; its unfortunate women compelled to sell their persons to sustain life, is a direct result of the lack of abundant work and abundant wages. And if private capital cannot furnish these, who but the collective people should do so?
There never was, and never will be, a time when labor is not in natural demand, for it is the creator of everything essential to social welfare. To affirm that labor is not needed is to affirm that we all have more wealth than we can consume. But our artificial and inadequate social system, by separating labor from capital, leaves labor subject to artificial demand, or the ability of individual capital to employ it. Labor starves because unable to exchange itself for equivalents that it needs. Capital groans because its business and profits are cut down by reduced consumptions. The wrong imposed on labor reacts on capital. The very elements of society are at war with each other, and universal discord is eating at its vitals.
The true and only remedy for existing complications lies primarily in abundant work and liberal wages. The wages determine the consumption, and the work replenishes what is consumed. But individual capital, naturally governed by selfish interests, incident to a false position, cannot furnish the required work or the necessary wages. Then what is to be done? Shall society suffer wreck by reason of its self-imposed leaks? Surely not. The remedy necessary is too simple and too easily applied to admit of further calamities. All that is essential is, that the nation should govern itself industrially as it does politically. We repudiate classes as custodians of our political liberties, and yet suffer them to control our industrial destinies, on which hang everything of vital interest to the welfare of the masses. A political republic is a fraud when united with industrial serfdom. Liberty without bread is a delusion. Home comforts underlie progress, and these depend, not on ballots, but on work and wages.
The social reconstruction which the age demands is not a movement environed by doubts and failures and losses. It is not an ephemeral remedy that will raise wages today and reduce them to-morrow. It contemplates a permanent re-organization of society, on the basis of industrial liberty from class control, and therefore the abolition of class distinctions. It opens a broad road to the unlimited development and happiness of the race. The tyranny of man over man, through class divisions, has been the theme for denunciation in all ages.
We are all destined to an immortality here on earth. Shall whole generations of that immortality be blighted in the future as in the past, by excessive toil, poverty, ignorance, intemperance, and every other evil? Shall we voluntarily continue such wrongs and miseries when the remedy is so simple and so easily applied? Is it God or our institutions that make us serfs and hirelings to each other?
With national co-operation, furnishing abundant work and ample wages; with social equality and the absence of every grade of despotism and tyranny; with a religious idea that embraces the whole universe and everything in it; the nation and the race will be put upon the road to infinite progression, social, scientific and religious. Then will come that promised time dimly foreseen by ancient seers, when swords shall be changed to pruning hooks, and man nowhere have an enemy.
All the details of the industrial changes connected with the New Dispensation will suggest themselves as we progress along. Its ruling ideas of equity and equality must never be lost sight of nor set aside. It can never tolerate the social elevation of one individual or class built on the toils and degradation of another. Its basis is equity, and equality in all rights and duties. Its social and religious status must correspond with each other. With man and his institutions in harmony with God and universal law, who shall set bounds to human progression?
The obvious and most easy way to commence an industrial reformation is by a partnership between labor and capital, with a proprietary interest by labor in all future accumulations of the partnership, leaving all present accumulations to the individuals now possessing them. Let labor go into partnership on wages and a share in the profits. Every able-bodied worker has cost some one from $2,000 to $4,000, and is worth that even on the old slave valuation. He should go into the partnership at his value, and offset a like value in stock or machinery. This renders it easy to divide the profits between capital and labor, according to the value of each, in any co-operative enterprise.
Partnership elevates labor from its serf status, gives it increased income and better conditions for improvement, harmonizes the interests of capital and labor, puts an end to antagonisms, and commences reforms where they are most needed. Labor at once takes its stand as a capitalist, with its future accumulations and progress under its own control. Such a conditional partnership will serve as an apprenticeship to higher social and intellectual position, and advances in general. Labor needs and must have such an experience, under co-operative or other direction.
The general ignorance of the masses of mankind is due to their constant toil, their servile position and life-long poverty. The attempts to educate and elevate them fail because of their unfavorable surroundings. And we do not yet realize that a proper education comprises the cultivation and perfection of the whole man, visible and invisible. No college or university contemplates this. Social divisions and antagonisms prevent the growth of any good seed that may be planted. We are prevented from giving ourselves up to God and man as we ought to do. We are placed in antagonism with each and feel separated from each. The great school of society teaches us more of evil than of good. There is no homogeneity of interest or sympathy or religion. The hand of every man is more or less raised for defense or aggression. We preach peace, but are in constant war, open or concealed.
It is not to be wondered at that there are national wars, private conflicts, robberies, murders, and wrong and oppression in every shape. All these evils are the natural products of the existing social order; and Christianity has waged an ineffectual war against them for eighteen centuries, and, under the present system, would struggle hopelessly forever. We must have favorable conditions to work in, and then the perfect man and woman will come into the world, and transform it into a paradise.
Every consideration, material and moral, demands the entire reconstruction of our social system, and the replacement of its antagonisms by harmonious relations. Our industrial divisions and procedures cannot furnish work and wages, our educational institutions cannot rightly educate us, our religious system cannot Christianize us, our repressions and punishments cannot prevent the increase of crime. There is no motive whatever for retaining our semi-barbarous status, while, a higher and better unitary civilization is holding out its arms to welcome us.
The great truth of the unity and homogeneity of God and man, and the homogeneity of all mankind, demands the proper conditions for its development and exercise. And these conditions must be found in a harmonious social order that ensures equal advantages to all its members, and is a unit in interest and feeling. Antagonisms contain the seed of all evils to society, religion and government. The great truth that God and man are one, and “I” and my neighbor are one, must be felt, and made pleasant to act upon continually.
This universal unity, and a social system in accordance with it, contains the essence of all that is good in religion, government and society. It does away with the necessity for repressive forces in government. It banishes the soldier, the prison and the executioner. It affords a sphere for the unlimited expansion of love and friendship. It illuminates and warms society like a constant sun. There is no place for dreariness or darkness. The soul here finds rest in the universal soul, for the universal soul is the universal “I.”
The New Dispensation rests industrially on every fundamental principle of political economy. Universal labor, collective accumulations and general exchanges, united with our boundless natural resources, will create and diffuse every enjoyment of life. This general national co-operation, and the payment of wages, is only a step to more perfect organization of society in the future, which we shall naturally grow into. This movement is one that all are prepared to take, as it involves no sacrifice of industrial liberty and imposes no irksome and unaccustomed restraints. It is merely a modification of present usages, such as is indispensable to provide work and wages for all, at all times. A central corporate authority —the nation—will supersede the present competitive corporations and individual enterprises, which are constantly proved to be incapable of managing the productive and distributive forces of the nation.
There can be no acceptable modification of the present industrial system which admits of class distinctions and the social inferiority of one class to another. No class must be longer supported by the labors of others. Society must be homogeneous in position and interests. We enter upon a New Era, social, industrial and religious, and the old usages therefore necessarily give place to the new.
The fundamental religious idea of the New Dispensation—one God everywhere and one God-man everywhere —furnishes a universal test as to the equity or inequity, the fitness or unfitness, of the social changes necessary. Rival interests, like rival theologies and creeds, are a constant source of discord. Every natural element or agency necessary to the support of life, the conservation of society and the harmony of all interests, must ultimately become public property. No individual can ever possess any rightful exclusive claim to the energies or earnings of another, nor to those natural resources which are essential to every one; and this puts an end to our future divisions into rich and poor. For all riches is the surplus of labor products which the divisions and usages of society now enable some classes to appropriate at the expense of others.
The organization of industry in the New Dispensation will coincide with such usages and principles as experience has determined to be most effective in transacting ordinary business. There will be co-operative labor, national accumulations, and exchanges of products. All public necessities, such as the support of the infirm and disabled, education, improved dwellings, new machinery and manufactories, and a multitude of other things, can be provided for by percentages levied on all products in addition to the labor cost, in the same manner as profit, interest and expenses are now added to the cost of goods. This throws social burdens on society at large, through its consumptions, as our federal taxation is now collected. For society will become one vast partnership, with equal interests everywhere.
It is not to be wondered at that mankind have embraced the imaginary promises of theology as a relief from the sorrows and sufferings met with in the world around them. But the world was not at fault, nor the Equitable Principle that governed natural agences. The sufferings of man have been inflicted by man himself, through his despotic governments, his cruel theologies, his ceaseless class conflicts for wealth and power. The world itself is excellent. What better world can we desire?
Man or woman, look back for ten or twenty years. What has the world given you in that time? How many children to be worshipped? How many friends to be loved? How many good things to enjoy! It is not the world itself, but your fellow man, that brings upon you poverty and suffering.
And out of the depths of this same world will come children without end, lovely women and noble men, palaces to live in filled with every conceivable accessory to enjoyment. For thousands of years the earth has done this, and will do it in the future as it has in the past. Tour future heaven is invisible in the earth, only awaiting your enlightened efforts to call it forth and partake of its enjoyments, physical, intellectual and moral. But you must work for it as you work for your daily bread. You must work intelligently, as God works. There is everything of good that your imagination can conceive of, and nothing of evil that you cannot control and put an end to. Enjoyments of all kinds will come forth as you bid them, for unnumbered centuries.
We have eaten of the figurative tree of knowledge, and now the real tree of life is before us, displaying its immortal fruit. As we must live forever, here on earth, is it not better to live under good than evil conditions? Amid enjoyments instead of sufferings? With hearts filled with thankfulness rather than with repinings and unsatisfied yearnings? We have only to choose. The same earth gives us grapes or thistles. God imposes no miseries; they are self-inflicted. We ought surely by this time to know good from evil, and must resolutely set to work to destroy what is evil and add to what is good.
We must give up the idea that this earth is a “vale of tears,” in which we are only temporary dwellers. As day by day we arise in the morning and go to sleep at night, so generation after generation we go to sleep in dissolution and awake in a new birth. It is the same incarnation of an original, “I,” the same identity, and the same atomic flesh and blood. The difference between the one and the other life lies in changed conditions and memories. We differ from each other no more, at any moment, than we differ from ourselves a year ahead or behind. We are all parts of an everlasting unity and identity.
When this great and grand idea shall permeate nations, there will be no more wars between them. A cosmopolitan spirit of fraternity will be universal. We shall feel at home everywhere, and find brothers and sisters everywhere. For we are brothers and sisters, all children of the same parent, all rays from the same Original Light, and are estranged now only on account of the national jealousies and social antagonisms which are forced upon us by an imperfect civilization and religion. We shut ourselves up in narrow families and proscriptive churches. The affections and affinities have no room for proper growth and expansion. Love is dwarfed. The fragrance of humanity is wasted in a desert, or its buds forbidden to bloom. All outside of the family, the friends, or the church, is a barren waste, of no interest to us. Every evening the lamps gleam through the windows of countless cheerful homes, while lighting the desolate beggar on his tramp. There are loving families, but the doors are barred against outsiders. If the narrow love within, confined to a family, brings much happiness, how much greater the joy from a love as universal as the attractions, spreading its sympathies broadcast over the land?
Man and woman, look at yourselves for a moment. Are you not living! Did you ever die! Your memories go back to a dim beginning, but all the way up you realize nothing but life. Friends and relatives disappear, but you have never died. Life with you is constant, because you represent an immortal principle. And for thousands of years it has been the same. This “I” that permeates you has always existed. It has never died. Dissolution is impossible, for “I” is immortal. Day by day it is always “I” that toil or enjoy or suffer. We never realize death. “I” goes to sleep in one incarnation and awakes in another. And we must never forget that in every new incarnation it displays the effect of the good or bad conditions of its parentage.
As we must therefore live on this earth for unnumbered centuries, let us have something worth living for. Let us banish care and sorrow and sickness. These come from bad conditions and surroundings, and can be remedied by good ones. The feeling that we are happy should be as constant as the impression that we are alive. There is no trouble arising from conditions that cannot be remedied by other conditions.
What a great gift is life! And how much greater is immortality, or continued existence in countless incarnations! And what sufferings does this immortality entail under adverse conditions! Which of us desires inordinate toil, semi-starvation, a constant abode among squalor and filth, a home in the workhouse or the prison? Who wants to be a conscript, and die in torture on the field of battle?
We have suffered all this in the past, generation after generation. And, at last, knowledge has led us to discover the Tree of Life, and we know that we shall live forever. Let us now direct all energies to the destruction of evil surroundings and their replacement by good ones.
From the conditions of existence, each one of us is a distinct personality, and we always remain so. We are always a living and acting “I,” with a name and special personality. We are always ourselves, and nobody else. And ourselves are just what we happen to be in an existing incarnation. We live forever in the Present. We are not the John and Martha that disappeared yesterday, but the John and Martha that live to-day. It is always to-day, and we are always here. We have the same love and care for ourselves in one incarnation as in another. It is the present incarnation only that is of importance to us. The memories of the fathers and grandfathers pass away with them. Their particular experiences and emotions were not worth preserving, for we are the same fathers and grandfathers under new conditions, with memories and experiences applicable to us to-day. It is still the same “I,” projected forward under new conditions.
The devotee of old theology, filled with ancient superstitions, may ask, what is to become of my “soul?” Will it go into a new body, and change from body to body forever, by transmigration? What is your “soul?” What believer has ever yet had any definite idea of what he meant when speaking of his soul? Your soul is simply your identity and personality, and is inseparable from body. Most assuredly identity and personality will exist forever. But what is there about John for which he craves an immortality as John? Of what value are his memories of joys and sorrows? We of to day cling to our identities and memories as tenaciously as did the men who disappeared a century since. The identity, the “I,” is the “soul,” and it is projected forward, always re-appearing in a new body, prepared for new memories and experiences, which in their turn became as cherished and sacred as the old ones. We are born again and again, every time with new bodies and new “souls.” It is always ourselves, and to-day, that is of most interest to us, for it is always ourselves that suffer or are happy, and we know only of today and a brief yesterday.
The belief in what are termed “spiritual manifestations” is an outgrowth from the belief in theological immortality. The phenomena witnessed and ascribed to “spirits,” would never have been so connected had there not already been a belief in spirits. And a spirit is supposed to be an unsubstantial and shadowy something connected with the body, which has an independent existence after the body has dissolved into its original elements.
But every attribute, force or quality of the body is a part of it, and when the body disappears and dissolves, its qualities and attributes necessarily disappear with it. When we set fire to a candle, the wick burns and generates light and heat from the tallow, until the whole candle is consumed, and the light disappears. It might as well be contended that the candle and the light can have an individual after-existence, as that the body and its products can exist after the body is consumed. The light and heat are products from the combustion of the candle, and the attributes of the body are likewise products of vital action and combustion. The two things are governed by similar laws. Therefore a “spirit” after death is as impossible as light after the candle is burnt out. “ Spiritualism “ is filled with frauds and delusions, but every real phenomena seen in connection with the “manifestations” will ultimately be found to be connected with powers in the living, and never with the dead.
As yet we know but little of the attributes and powers of the human body, and are ignorant of the forces we can call into action, and the wonders we can perform. But, with the shackles of ancient theology broken, and an endless immortality on this earth, we become qualified and have plenty of time to investigate ourselves under the most favorable conditions, and discover the source of those phenomena heretofore ascribed to outside supernatural influences. Man is the highest product of this earth, and the most potent and wonderful in every respect—a very storehouse of unknown forces and capacities—as yet an infant demi-god, with feeble intuitions respecting his grand achievements in the future.
Bound for so many ages in the swaddling-cloths of theology, monarchy and aristocracy, and confused by then assumed “divine rights,” man is only now beginning to stand alone, and depend upon himself. He does not yet realize that he is to grow into a giant, and control agencies and forces now deemed divine.
But the foundation for future progress must be built on unity of material interests and efforts, guided by religious unity; and the religious unity of man with man must rest on personal unity. For all the power that man can exercise must be drawn from Original Power, and should be used for the universal good. The strong man may now grasp from the feeble one his material wealth, but selfish strength is, by the law of its action, confined to the lowest phases of conquest. The future and greatest triumphs of man will come from his efforts on behalf of his fellowmen, and he will aid himself through his struggles for them. As man gives to man of his powers so God gives again to him. It is the action of a divine law of equivalents. The highest powers are always denied to him who would use them for his own exclusive benefit.
Theologians speak of the body that perishes and the soul that is immortal. But the theological soul is an illusion. There is an outward and visible man, and an inward and invisible man, the whole forming au inseparable unity. They come into the world together, progress in’ growth together, and disappear together. The one cannot exist without the other. The immortality of the one necessarily includes the immortality of the other. And the immortality of both is assured through generation, for every being born into the world is but a continuance of the divine incarnation, another ray of light from the Great Light. And these disappearing rays cannot go back to the Original Light, and maintain their individuality and memories and qualities, as theology supposes. Their private individuality, as such, ceases as the light of the spark projected from the burning log. They are but indications of, and momentary scintillations from, the great Central Everlasting Light, attached to a body that is wonderfully worked up day after day from the materials that formed the past. Nothing is lost, but re-created. Man is but the fabled phoenix, continually arising from his own ashes; and the fires that consume him insure his re-creation.
All organized bodies are wonderful machines for the separation of elements and their transmission into other forms of force. The acids, alkalis, metals and minerals within us maintain a constant action during life, and generate the animal heat and other qualities essential to existence. One organ acts in one direction and another in some other way. And these vital products are ultimately, through the delicate mechanism of the brain, transmuted into intangible thoughts and feelings. As well expect immortality in a steam engine or a magnetic battery as in a man, when machines and body have alike been broken up and re-formed into other things.
The immortality of the principle of identity, projected forward age after age, compels us to recognize the fact that we are homogeneous and interchangeable bodies, and that to each is attached a homogeneous identity. John exists for so many years, and then disappears. Co-existent with John, and in fellowship with him, is the same identity under other names. Bodies with identities are continually coming into the world and disappearing, and we give them names, and some of them are our wives and husbands, sons and daughters, century after century, and yet they are but one “ I,” which is perpetually coming up from the depths of the unknown. And the same loves and enjoyments are incessantly repeated. It caresses one set of children in one incarnation and another set in another incarnation, in different circumstances and under various names. The immortality of man is of the same nature as the immortality of God. It is a constant life, knowing nothing of death.
When this great central fact of the immortality of ourselves on earth, in every created form, through an everlasting identity or “I,” is fully realized, a new heaven and a new earth will be opened to us. New duties, expanded sympathies, and a universal love will be forced upon us. Earth will grow into a heaven. “We shall change from the chrysalis into the butterfly, and taste of new pleasures. Every child born into the world is ourselves, under new conditions; and the better the conditions, the more perfect our enjoyments.
A thousand men look at a woman, and they all see her, and yet there are not a thousand women seen, but only one, although a thousand images are impressed upon the men. And to the woman’s outward eyes there appears a thousand men. But to the inward and illumined eye there is only one man, reflected from a thousand points. And throughout all the nations of the earth there is only this one principle of an immortal identity, and these races, as well as all forms of life, are but conditional creative efforts to make this identity omnipresent. There are no more a multitude of identities corresponding to the men and women than a multitude of Gods. They are but incarnations of the One Original Identity, just as all visible creations are but conditional manifestations of the One Original Creator. Therefore there is a universal relationship between all created forms, materially, and a relationship between all identities—the relationship coming from a universal diffusion of one principle. We are all conditional expressions of, and emanations from, the Infinite. The connection between God and his manifestations offers an inexhaustible source of wonder, admiration and love.
The very nature of things ought to make it apparent to us that man was not created to toil and worry through one brief incarnation only. The intuitions of mankind compelled them to invent theology to remedy this apparent deficiency. Such a short and generally unsatisfactory existence would be unworthy the Author of All Life. The Great Immortal stamps a conditional immortality on all his works and incarnations. But an immortal existence of the same one body and identity, crowded with the memory of centuries of toils and pains and failures, would be a thankless existence. Therefore has been given to us a constant change of body and identity; born into the world continually, and disappearing when it is no longer pleasurable to exist. So we have an immortality perpetually renewed, daily appearing in new incarnations and under new conditions. There is no necessity for inordinate toil or poverty or suffering or wrong or hatred. Everywhere we meet ourselves, under various forms and developments. It is therefore essential that we escape all possible evils, and dwell in progressive harmony, which we can do only through equitable conditions and usages. It is constantly in our power to give pleasure to ourselves in the form of others.
The bible, although one of the most ancient of books, and the foundation of a decaying theology, contains many gems of thought that will endure through all ages. Wisdom is the same everywhere, and there were wise and good men in ancient as in modern times. But there is no more sacredness or divine inspiration in Jewish than in pagan mythology. In proportion as we discover and institute harmonious conditions we approximate to the Great Harmony, and experience corresponding enjoyments.
The great cities of the world bring forth good and evil. The ancient seers always denounced them, and foretold their deserved destruction. They illuminate man but darken God. They will disappear in the New Dispensation, for agriculture and manufactures will be joined together, and the vast wastes of transportation saved. All cities contain too much of debased man and too little of Nature. They tend to destroy the religious idea, because there is no room for God among the selfish struggles and worldly antagonisms of man. What need for God in a city, amidst ceaseless toil and vice and plunderings and wrongs? Where can harmony dwell, when all is rivalry and competition, and the gains of some are comprised of the losses of others?
Our advances in machinery, by displacing so much labor, require a New Dispensation for the adjustment of labors and rewards. How much pleasanter will human life be, passed in the varied occupations of agriculture and manufactures, with short hours of toil, ample wages for enjoyments, and palaces to live in, compared with that hopeless, unhealthy, and ill-paid drudgery which is now the portion of so many thousands of men, women and children in crowded cities?
Accustomed as men and women are to work for wages—so many hours for so much money—it will be necessary to retain this feature of the present industrial system until society is prepared for further advances. It furnishes rewards in proportion to services. And the true foundation for the necessary currency is labor or time of service. And general national co-operation, as it does away with class distinctions and business profits, brings all persons under the wages system, as is the case in our political governments, from president downwards.
With society organized into co-operative associations for the production and distribution of everything, statistics will determine how much of certain commodities will be required for the wants of society, with a surplus for contingencies. A natural and steady demand will take the place of the present artificial and fluctuating requirements.
Under the unregulated complications of our present system, with the labor in one class and the capital and machinery in another, vast amounts of labor are wasted, from the inability of capital to employ it and pay for it. But there never was a time when all the labor of the nation was not required naturally, and when all its products were not needed.
The New Dispensation comes to the rescue of all classes. There is no longer occasion for class divisions. The business of the world has outgrown the capacity of the manufacturing and trading classes to manage it efficiently. Nothing can now be properly controlled. One thing waits on another, and there is constant confusion, collision and loss to somebody. All production is speculative. Profits or losses are uncertain, and depend on contingencies which cannot be foreseen or provided for.
But collective supervision, general and local, can provide for everything, and regulate everything, just as it does for vast armies. What is a nation but an army, engaged in creating instead of destroying? By insuring work and. wages, it at the same time insures production and consumption. There can be no such thing as an able-bodied man or woman in need of work, food or clothing. Work and wages lie at the foundation of social progress. No individual or class will depend on the patronage of another individual or class. Labor will be republicanized and equalized, and forever freed from bondage to classes. For class bondage is the crying curse of labor, insuring its perpetual serfdom, poverty, ignorance and undevelopment.
Finding society divided into rich and poor, employers and employed, the men who formed our political governments, and those who have carried them on, have taken these divisions to be natural and unchangeable. They have never sought to remedy social inequalities, nor even to devise means to render the condition-of labor less intolerable. All their policies have been directed to the advantage of the predominant interests; and as their inefficiency bred paupers and criminals, they could devise nothing better than workhouses and prisons.
But all these social evils arise from class divisions, class dependence and class plunder; for these divisions insure wealth to some classes and poverty to others. They place the many at the mercy of the few. They breed financial, industrial and political disturbances. The true remedy can only be found in a re-adjustment of the social system, whereby every man and woman who works may have abundance of the good things of life. And it is essential that all who are able to work should support themselves by useful labor of some kind.
The New Dispensation is to be harmoniously co-operative, and not competitive, either among individuals or nations. There ought to be, and always will be, friendly intercourse and equitable exchanges of products of some kind, rendered necessary by climatic distinctions. But the modern idea of cheap production, secured through low wages, inordinate toil and the misery of the masses, must be eradicated. And this can only be done through governmental control of production and distribution, foreign and domestic.
AN APPEAL TO ALL CLASSES.
AND NOW, Christian man and woman, in what consists your Christianity? In dry creeds and unmeaning forms or in feeling and action? Are you for or against such a re-organization of society as will secure harmony and plenty universally, and do away with criminals and prisons, soldiers and wars, and those multitudinous evils that have cursed man from the beginning? Are you ready to replace injustice and hatred by universal equity and love? Are you as ready to make efforts for the Christian idea of peace on earth and good will to man, as to talk about it? The establishment of this divine law requires from you no personal sacrifices and no martyrdoms. It does not even demand that you give of your superfluities to the needy. All it asks is your recognition of the common rights of humanity to employment and an equitable reward.
The masses of wage-workers, men and women, demand the right to work for themselves, and to receive just payment for it. Is there anything wrong in that? They demand that what they can earn by their own labor shall not be taken from them by other classes, through interest and profit. Is there anything wrong in that? The right to toil, and to receive the earnings of that toil, lie at the foundation of social reconstruction; and the structure itself will consist of such arrangements and usages as will secure this in the manner best suited to the welfare of the individual and society. The whole effort and end of the movement does not contain one un-christian sentiment or action. It is based on the very principles uttered by Christ himself, and for which he perished at the hands of usurers, extortioners, hypocrites and hidebound priests.
Christian, you have been trying to “find Christ” for eighteen centuries. Where have you been looking? Up in the sky, lost in vague imaginings and futile hopes and wishes. And yet all this time “Christ” has been your neighbor, and you have used him harshly, while cursing the Jews for putting him to death. “Christ,” like all others, only disappeared in one incarnation to appear again in another. He is immortal here on earth. You meet him every day, toiling in the workshop or the mine, or as a miserable “tramp,” having “no place to lay his head.” He told you all this, but you did not comprehend the great truth, for your eyes were obscured by the glittering frauds of the church and the world. Common men and women have seemed too common to be Christ. You, like the Jews, look even to-day for a king coming in great glory!
You have shed tears over Christ’s sufferings long centuries since, but you pass him by every day unheeded. Open your understanding. Look at God through man, and the eternal Sonship of Man. Wherever man is, there is God incarnated in a Christ. Christ and man are one. They represent a common incarnated Sonship. The Christian world must awake from its long and dreamy sleep, and comprehend the realities of man’s existence. If you really look for Christ you will find him everywhere around you, a persecuted toiler, patiently awaiting for the coming of “the kingdom of righteousness,” which is to set man free from bondage to man, and establish a new earth and a new heaven. The money-changers and the Pharisees persecute Christ to-day as in old times. They make offerings to the priest of a portion of their spoils. They worship the world and its vanities, and know nothing of God. Christ is to-day in the workhouse and the prison. He is everywhere where poverty and distress exist.
It is affirmed that the advent of a deliverer was foretold to the Jews, and that this deliverer was Christ, who was refused by them on account of his obscure birth and inferior surroundings. It is also supposed that Christ is to come again in “the latter days,” in “great power and glory.” Truly, he comes again to-day, not as a personality but as an idea. And this idea is only a further projection forward of the law of love, through a universal identity and a universal Sonship.
No great idea and no individual ever came into the world under supernatural conditions. Theology had spoiled the ancient Jews as it has the modern Christians. The benefactors of mankind have always been obscure men, as were Moses and Christ. And it is not the individual that is of importance, but the idea which he proclaims. The “ second coming,” if there is to be one, will be merely a re-assertion and further elucidation of some great fundamental truth; the truth itself, and not the individual, being the Christ, the thing looked for and needed. Does not the universal Sonship of man and his unity with God, and the unity of man with man as an immortal identity,—being a projection forward and ripening of the Christian idea of a special Sonship,—constitute the “second coming?” Neither the earth nor the heavens ever were or ever will be affected by any change of dispensations.
These are truly the “latter days,” not of the world nor of man, but of the present chaotic Dispensation. There will be a “new heaven and a new earth,” all coming in a plain, matter-of-fact way, as things always have and always will come, notwithstanding the credulity of mankind and the deceptions practiced upon them. God necessarily permeates every movement, whether recognized or not, and every change comes through natural agencies.
It is not a man nor a god, but an idea, a New Dispensation, that comes as a deliverer. Mankind must give up their heroes and hero-worship. God gives no man a special commission nor special powers. He speaks to all alike, but it is only now and then that a man hears and understands.
The age needs and must have an expansion of its social and religious ideas and usages. We are cramped up in antiquated bands of all kinds. Science and enlightenment are constrained to bow down their heads to ignorance and intolerance. The God-like in man is subjected to the brute-man. The ban of social outlawry is as active today as it was centuries since. The scientific, social or religious innovator is considered a benighted heretic, whose destruction gives God pleasure.
It is as difficult to find a sound spot in modern as in ancient society. We are but ignorant and superstitious pagans, misnamed Christians. We represent ancient paganism exclusively, and have retained pagan institutions and surroundings. To become Christian, we must have Christian surroundings, and proper social conditions for Christian growth. And these can only be secured through an entire change in our industrial and social status, and its replacement by a Christian system of equity, based on the recognition of the unity of God and man, and of man with man. We must come to realize the great central fact of existence, that every man and woman is ourselves, under other conditions; and construct a social system on this basis. When we do our whole duty to man we have done it to God. Facts, and not fictions, underlie the religion of the New Dispensation.
And the great material requisite of a perfect social system consists in an adequate supply of the necessaries of life, united with the labor necessary to secure them— not the imbruting toil which is now the lot of the masses, but health-giving exertion. Plenty of work is assured to all generations, by natural causes, and those who do the work must receive an ample recompense. And this requires that the control of labor be taken from individuals and classes, and placed in society at large.
If religious precepts and creeds alone could have perfected mankind, nothing more was needed than Judaism or Catholicism, with their assumed divine rights and powers. Judaism failed because it was narrow and prescriptive, and given only to a “chosen people.” Catholicism, or reformed Judaism, failed because it was not based on an equitable social system; because it was autocratic instead of republican, and power was vested in the few instead of the many; because it rejected reason, science and progress, and was intolerant and tyrannical; because it admitted of social inequalities, and taught the lower to submit to the higher orders; because it had no desire and made no attempt to establish the equitable social and governmental conditions and surroundings essential to the elevation of humanity; and because it was always opposed to universal enlightenment and advancement. It assumed to be something, not of man, but midway between God and man; deriving an exclusive authority over the last through the express ordination of the first.
The highest civilization must be homogeneous and republican, knowing nothing of exclusive rights or authority, creeds or confessions of faith. Its foundation and its superstructure must alike rest on man, as the representative of God. It must approach the universal God through universal man, socially and religiously, for God and man are a unity in duality.
There is no longer a middle ground to stand upon for saint or sinner. There is no refuge in a church or a creed for injustice to man or hypocrisy to God. The choice now lies between the Old and the New Dispensation—the one with all the wrongs and evils that have cursed man from the beginning; the other with the peace and enjoyments that flow from universal equity and harmony. Choose that system that comes nearest to your ideal of what the world and the man ought to be, and prepare to suffer the miseries connected with the one, or to realize the enjoyments inseparable from the other.
Trust in God, and assist God through your own efforts. The New Dispensation contains the Promised Land which Jew and Gentile have been for centuries in search of. It is a land flowing with everything that man has need of or can enjoy. It is that bright heritage which has been dimly foreseen for so many centuries. Will you be of those that cross the Red Sea into social and religious freedom, or will you remain in everlasting bondage to fraud and toil and misery and crime?
The New Dispensation, while it gives us a better world to live in, takes away nothing that is worth retaining. It brings us nearer to God and man. It gives us something to worship and everything to love. What shall we worship? It seems impossible to worship an abstraction. An indefinite God is a void, and this is all that the Christian world has had. We must see, feel and realize that there is something to be worshipped, and that something must be exterior to ourselves, and which we are constrained to love above all things. The savage gives vent to this feeling in the worship of idols, which are but imperfect representations of an indefinite Something he pays tribute to. The ancients had their marble statues of divinities. The Catholic church holds up the representatives of the mother and child, and the man crucified. The Protestant world still clings to the cross, but it is moved by no inspiration, for there can be no inspiration derived from a dim and imaginary personality, more to be feared than loved.
Does the world around us give us nothing to worship? Yes, all the way upward through life. For the spirit of worship is the spirit of love. Beginning in childhood, what does the child worship and trust to? Mother and father. What does the young man worship? The woman he loves. What do parents worship? Their children. We are compelled to worship the Infinite through its finite incarnations, while implicitly trusting it as a Parent. And is not this all that is necessary? Do we not appreciate the giver through his gifts? And so long as human beings endure there will be something to worship—a visible incarnation and approximation to the Invisible Perfection. We need no priests or temples or ceremonials to express our divine emotions. The worship arises spontaneously. We are constrained to worship some human form as the incarnation of the Ideal. When one object is lost, the heart seeks another. A healthy and a natural man or woman can always find some one to worship.
To worship is a necessity of love, and is its highest form of expression. Worship is not fear nor reverence, but love; and love is but an influx of the divine spirit. The New Dispensation, by establishing better institutions and surroundings, will lead to universal love by banishing all causes of hatred. Faces and forms will become more beautiful and divine as our emotions become refined and purified. There will be nothing that is not loveable, and no class or class distinctions to interfere with our tributes to each other. We shall become more in oneness with the Universal Love. The Infinite love of God, poured out upon every individual, will be reflected from one to another everywhere.
For, let us look upon the universe and all that it contains, with the eye of the man of science or the theologian, Infinite Love is visible everywhere and at all times, constantly engaged in efforts to add to the enjoyments of all forms of existence. Even the afflictions connected with the present dispensation are given in love, to lead our thoughts forward and upward to better and higher conditions. Our sufferings stimulate us to inquiries, and the discovery of remedies. The Great Parent loves all his incarnations with an infinite love. It is blindness to ascribe this or that to what are termed mere natural processes and cold and unfeeling laws exclusively. At the bottom of all things lies one universal law of love.
Christian man and woman, do you acknowledge this? Do you realize it? No. Your debasing theology and imperfect social surroundings give you but dim and crude conceptions of the wonderful love of God, and the necessity for a similar love among mankind. You must change your present conditions in order to become truly humanized, and able to enjoy God. Prayers will not liberate you from your earthly bondage. You are environed by the filth of the world, and it defiles you in despite of your best resolutions. “ The world, the flesh and the devil” alternately seduces you or drives you. Your whole bible contains no remedy apart from conditions. On these only can you build a fabric of the religion of love that will endure for ages. “‘I’ and my father are one,” is but a dead precept until you realize that “I” and my neighbor are one, and establish the proper conditions for unity
It is useless to expect to elevate and refine the masses so as to prepare them for the New Dispensation while they are enveloped in the disabilities of the Old. Revolutions come whether all are prepared or not, and they gradually mould the people into the thoughts and policies requisite. As well attempt to teach an infant to walk before it is born. The underlying principles of any movement are easily comprehended, for they are invariably struggles for more liberty. The great principle of our Revolution was the right of the people to political self-government. How it was to be carried out did not enter into the controversy, nor was it considered whether the masses were prepared for it or not. The few enlightened always lead the many unenlightened.
And now the corresponding great principle comes up of the right of the people to industrial self-government. How this shall be established depends on such contingencies as may arise, and which cannot be foreseen. But the principle of itself is easy of comprehension, and such as all classes can understand at once. Capital must acknowledge the right of labor to industrial independence, or con tend for its perpetual serfdom and inferiority. It is the old conflict of the centuries for more liberty and light.
Capital and labor now confront each other on this issue throughout the United States and Europe. Wild imaginings and hostile thoughts grow day by day. All revolutions come finally to the last test, and it is always one of force. Shall we be wiser than other generations have been? Is it not imperatively necessary for the welfare of society that some element of harmony should be introduced? What government or class ever lost anything ultimately by concessions and compromises? How much have they not lost by a contrary course, and an appeal to brute force?
The refinement and culture of the world is more or less associated with capital. It comes from leisure and accumulations. But in what does this so-called culture consist? In the ability to read Greek, Latin and other languages? In the writing of books and newspaper articles? In the filling one’s self with the thoughts and aspirations of other men? This is culture to a certain degree, but it goes not beyond self; Such culture may raise a few pinks and roses for its own momentary gratification. Or it may plant a few feeble trees, that wither up within a generation. But the true work of all culture is to rear oaks that will last for centuries, and pyramids of truths that will endure as long as the race.
How can the man of true culture, and the high aspirations that ought to be associated with it, content himself in these days with scratching his name upon a pane of glass, or carving it upon a fence-board? If any man desires fame, and to live in the future, he must fearlessly project himself into the future, and accomplish something that the future will appreciate. Most assuredly it will take no interest in our common-place political and theological disputes; and will utterly repudiate our howling dervishes that devote their pulpits and presses to the misrepresentation and defamation of great principles.
The little culture of our politicians and priests spoils them. It excites a desire for notoriety, which is mistaken for greatness. They are filled with the delusion that greatness can grow out of littleness. They crave high honors and large influence. With them greatness consists, not in the qualities and aspirations of the man, but in his position. They do not realize that an ass is an ass, whether in a stable or a pulpit, or the halls of legislation. They go into office as nobodies, are nobodies while in, and then go out as nobodies. Men cannot rear a temple of sand.
Even at this early day, where is the fame of our public men of the last half century? What deep mark did they make upon their age? Do their names, with all their advantages, stand as high as those of the founders of the republic? Certainly not. Half of them are forgotten as soon as they go hack to private life, because they but echoed the Present, and were inattentive or dead to the Future.
But now there is an opportunity for making deep marks as well as shallow ones. A New Revolution is upon us, to complete the structure of which the other laid the foundations. It conies by the laws of progress, and will accomplish its mission, sweeping away all obstructions like an avalanche. It needs the assistance and guidance of the best minds and hearts of the age. They must throw away all fear of the tin trumpets of the press and the pulpit. They must come before the world as true men, who can compass all ages, and to whom all ages are alike.
If any man desires greatness, surely there was never a better chance to achieve it. But it must be worked for and earned. It will not grow and thrive on the husks -that a prevailing theology and partisanship offer as food and pay. It must feed on great ideas. These only can produce great men.
And you, women of the world, what is your position in the present dispensation? Are you satisfied? Does the Mosaic or the Christian dispensation do justice to you? No. Woman has always been considered an inferior, more in the nature of a servant than a co-equal of man. Woman had no justice in the theology of Moses, neither did Christ attempt to elevate her into equality with man. He has nothing to say in condemnation of the slavish status of woman in his age, neither had his biographers or followers. Even the biblical record of the assumed God-man contains no particulars relative to the God-wife and God-mother. We are told nothing respecting her personality. She lives and dies in obscurity, like the wife of any other laboring man, distinguished for nothing but bearing a son out of wedlock. Whereas, if the record were true, and her maternity supernatural, she should have been the equal of Christ. But Christ himself never claimed a supernatural begetting by a “ Holy Ghost,” nor did any of his neighbors ever hear of anything of the kind. They knew him only as the son of the carpenter, playing with his brothers and other boys. They would have ridiculed Mary had she told them about any connection with a “ Holy Ghost.” It is clear that she never heard of anything of the kind, but was a faithful wife to the carpenter. All these supernatural fables were manufactured long after the death of Christ and his family.
The true woman can come only out of the New Dispensation. She and man are one, the man and woman constituting humanity as a unit. She is the only medium through which man can worship, and she alone gives rise to his highest and holiest emotions. She will take her true place in the religion of the future, as constituting God’s most perfect incarnation. While man represents a divine Sonship only, woman stands on the higher plane of a divine Wifehood and the divine Mother of the race.
The very excellencies of woman’s character have made her the supporter and defender of all theologies, no matter how little they did for her. She is the bulwark of the Christian churches to-day, by her influence compelling man to tolerate a delusion which they would otherwise repudiate. She is ready to sacrifice anything for the interests of religion, true or false, and the welfare of man.
But woman, where and what is your religion? Is it outside of or in the churches? Is it at home or abroad? Is it an emotion or an incomprehensible creed? Is not motherhood your divine mission, and is not God incarnated in your children? Of what use is the priest to you in your duties and enjoyments? Does he carry you to God as your children do? Do his dull fictions tend to your culture or elevation? Are his dry creeds and sermons felt to be a necessity? Is he not rather tolerated as a make-shift, in lieu of something better, to assist you in gratifying the natural aspirations of the heart, which are always reaching after the Great Good?
Woman, does the preaching you listen to, week after week, come to you as an echo of the voice of God? Is it not rather a confused and unintelligent noise, that distracts your thoughts and prevents the inward communings which you crave for between yourself and an Infinite Idea! that stands somewhat in the relation of an infinite husband? A being that you love, and trust implicitly for help in all your afflictions? Your sex constitutes the Universal Wife and Mother. Compared with you, where stands man? Why longer give the direction of your heart and mind to a self-constituted priestly intermeddler, who knows nothing of your necessities, cannot comprehend you powers and denies your equality? The most pitiless of slave-drivers is the priest, and his most pitiable slave is woman —a slave to man through theological fictions, a slave to ignorance and toil through her servile position, a slave to superstition through her false education and the absence of all real mind and culture. Woman, are you satisfied with your position, or do you not think it might be changed for the better in a New Dispensation?
And you, manufacturer, merchant, and business man in general, what special inducements does the present social system offer to you, that it should be retained? Is there anything about your affairs that can be regarded as a satisfactory certainty? Can you depend on your sales and profits under all contingencies? Are you beyond the reach of gluts, panics, and failures? Certainly not. You are at the mercy of business complications that you cannot control. The New Dispensation, in its improved and enlarged processes of production and distribution assures you the certainty of ample means for support, with constantly increasing means for culture and refinement, and the absence of harassing cares. Your present position unfits you for Christian or industrial brotherhood. With you, a man is a mere machine to make money by. You cannot realize that God is in him or anything else. God has no place in your thoughts or books.
Your position also outlaws you from the higher progress. From necessity or choice, you give up your soul to “business,” the petty frauds of which demoralize you. This “business,” with its whole train of accessories, is one of the giant curses of the age. It is a vast machine for the plunder of wage-working men and women. It was essential as a preparation for the coming era, but now there are no inducements to retain it. The co-operative principles it has evolved will aid in its destruction and reconstruction.
Class divisions demoralize men, and destroy all fraternity. Those uppermost learn to regard as a natural right what is only an artificial wrong, and they defend that wrong at all hazards to themselves and others. They are blinded to the iniquities of society. They think it right-.» for some classes to live in idleness and luxury at the expense of others. They regard as outlaws and public enemies all who question that right.
Failing to stay the progress of the New Dispensation by unconstitutional legislation, will they appeal to force, as upper classes have done in all times? Have they not everything to lose, and nothing to gain, by internecine conflicts? Have their educational and other advantages reduced them to the status of barbarians? Can the” inevitableness of changes in all ages teach them no wisdom? Do they realize the fact that they are contending for the power to plunder and enslave their fellow-men?
As labor creates everything, its true position should be that of partner with capital. Labor and capital should be a unit, which they never can be outside of an equitable partnership. The plunder and debasement of labor by capital is the greatest of wrongs and tyrannies. Capital complains of its small profits and ruinous competition. Where is the remedy to be found except in equitable partnership with labor and the destruction of all competition? The value of commodities can be adjusted to high wages as well as low ones. Society itself must put an end to conflicts between labor and capital, and compel partnerships, as it settles other social disorders. Men of capital, is there any real difficulty in the way of such a plan of adjustment? No, except in your avarice and love of power.
And you, men and women of culture and education, docs the present social system satisfy you, and come up to your ideal? Do not all the better impulses of your hearts and minds rise up in rebellion against it? Does it yield you half the advantages and enjoyments you long for? Does it afford you opportunities for the highest culture, physical, mental and emotional? Do you not constantly bewail your obstructions, your inability to overcome them, and your consequent short-comings? Look at the New Dispensation in all its aspects and study its possibilities, and contrast it with the present. Bring your culture and intellect to bear on the social reconstruction which is coming upon us. Who shall lay the foundations for the new structure, the ignorant or the enlightened?
And you, wage-working man and woman, what hope or enjoyment is there for you in the Present Dispensation? Are you and your posterity not doomed to class servitude and hopeless toil? What chances have you for intellectual progress and refinement, amidst the demoralizing influences of over-work or no work, and your poverty-struck surroundings! While standing higher than animals, you are less than men and women. Human beings require humanizing surroundings for the proper development of the qualities that make true men and women. The present social system holds you as in a vice, by which governments, classes and individuals use you, abuse you and plunder you.
But the New Dispensation gives you industrial liberty, with self-employment and an ample reward for your labors; palaces to dwell in, and all the refining influences now enjoyed only by the wealthy. It will be for yon to decide your hours of work and your wages. You will know no more of poverty, intemperance and degradation. The whole results of your labor will be yours to enjoy in the manner you think best. Surely you will not hesitate as to which Dispensation is the best for you.
And now, men and women of all classes, high or low, rich or poor, the time has come to choose between the Old and the New. Try to let your reason, and not your prejudices, guide your judgment. We live in an age of irreligion, crimes, intemperance, plunderings and demoralizing associations. What possible good can flow from these things? We live in an era of business depressions, uncertainties, losses, impoverishments, breaches of faith, non-employment or inordinate toil. Are these things desirable, and necessary to be retained? We live in an era of religious blindness, hypocrisy, disbelief in God and mistrust in man. The moral constitution of the nation is giving way under the perverse influences that operate on every class and condition of life. Blind guides hold forth in the sanctuary, and confuse the understanding. Men are driven from God by their surroundings, and are everywhere at war with each other.
Is it not time for a New and a higher Dispensation, that will put an end to the multitudinous evils of the present? Is there a God and a moral law, or is all religion a pious fraud, invented to hold in slavery the minds and bodies of men and women? Do we not need a grand and universal awakening to the importance of the crisis and the issues that are coming upon the world?
[Spellings have been modernized.]
John Francis Bray, God and Man a Unity, and All Mankind a Unity, Gresham, OR: Corvus Editions, 2102.