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and touched not the earth. For practical life there was no higher law than expediency.
This, I believe, is no exaggeration of what modern civilization has been on its evil side. I acknowledge that it has another side, and have tried to sketch it. I recognize the vast power the human race has acquired through use of the forces of nature, and the magnificent foundation thus laid for future achievements. But, in order that these achievements may be secured and the evils of our present one-sided civilization neutralized, there should be the same fearless pursuit in the discovery and establishing of intellectual and moral truth. We are now applying to life, for the most part, only one fragmentary part of truth. We want the whole truth, full rounded in all its constituent elements, to make individual life worth the living, and worthily to complete the unfolding drama of human history. Our material civilization is only a basis on which mind and heart and soul are to rear their structures. What high art should come, what literature, what poetry, what philosophies and humanities, what equity of law and administration, what social fraternity, what strength and graces of personal character should appear, as the legitimate sequence of this conquest of nature by the powers of mind! The true, the just, the beautiful,- not till these shall rule in private, in public, and in national life, will our present era of material civilization be worthily crowned.
But there are many who aver that these higher truths of the human soul are impracticable; that they must remain as ideals in the sky, while practice must come down to a lower level, more nearly in accordance with the methods in vogue around us. Here is one of the strangest delusions that the world has known, yet it is a delusion that has assiduously been kept up from age to age,- that truth is not so practicable as error; that a halftruth is stronger than the whole truth; that wrong and falsehood may be perfectly practicable, but their opposing truth, though clearly known, is impracticable. If this were so, it would be the strongest argument that could be offered against there being any valid basis of truth or any moral purpose in the universe. The delusion is born of a scepticism that is thoroughly atheistic. Believe me, the highest moral truth known to man is practicable. If it is not practised, the fault is in human character, and does not spring from any cause in the nature of things. And what better evidence can be had that any truth, whether of religion or of science or of ethics, is meant for human use than that it has come within the scope of human intelligence? Or what better intimation of the time it should be put to use than the date of its discovery? That, at least, is the time when all who understand and acknowledge it should begin eagerly to labor for its supremacy, content no longer that any error or half-truth should occupy its place. And yet people parley, defer, compro
mise, evade. They say, in effect: "Excuse us, O Lord, but this truth of thine comes altogether too soon for safety. Next year, or next century, the world may be ready for it. But now it is utterly impossible to get it established. To attempt to disseminate it will produce only a vain agitation and bitterness. Pray take it back to thyself again. Keep it hidden till a more auspicious season, and leave us for the present harmonious and happy in our error." But to such timid parleying the answer always comes back from the Source of truth, "Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." And, if we try to pass this reply unheeded and still put aside the truth that is knocking at our doors for admission, then, sooner or later, the inevitable stern voice of retribution will ring through the chambers of conscience, proclaiming "the day of vengeance of our God." That ancient Scripture still has a meaning for mankind. It means the dread retribution that by natural law follows the fracture of righteousness. Truth cannot be safely tampered with nor violated. This is the lesson of all history, the lesson of individual life and of every nation's annals.
Nothing can be more fallacious than the idea. that individual character ever derives any greater efficiency from lowering the standard of truth or virtue to make them more practicable, or that any half-way rule of honesty will work better than the perfect rule. You will see men enough, it is true, there are, alas! too many of them, who
have attained a certain outward success, a certain measure of influence and power perhaps, through methods of concealment and trickery. We may sometimes see fortunes accumulated through extortionate and fraudulent practices in trade; vulgar demagogism, cunning, and hypocrisy mounting to places of high trust and authority in the community; selfish ambition riding rough-shod over the unostentatious merits of solid wisdom and moral sincerity. All this we see; and a hasty inference might be that, in this world, hypocrisy succeeds and truthfulness fails, that fraud is rewarded and honesty punished quite as generally as the reverse. But it would most certainly be a hasty inference. Look through a lifetime, look at people in the mass and in the long run, and the rule is that men find that level to which their characters respectively fit them, and stand in the community for what they really are. There are some exceptions to this rule; but they are exceptions, and do not make the standard. They are enough to suggest that this life may not complete the moral course, that there is somewhere a beyond for rectifying the judgments of the earthly life. Yet even here, in general, it is reality, genuine worth, that reaches the highest places of respect and achieves the truest success. You may say that here is a man who lives respected in the community, though on ill-gotten gains. But he does not have your respect. He does not have the respect of any one in the community who knows with you.
of his dishonest ways. It is to be put to the credit of human nature that no compromise of personal integrity, no evasion of personal truthfulness, ever wins regard from others or retains power over them, Sooner or later the fraudulent disguises are exposed. The flimsy veil of outward respectability is blown away, and power vanishes with it. It is only truth, reality, that ultimately commands.
And what is true of individual character is true, also, of communities, of nations. No community nor nation was ever made strong by a compromise of justice. Personal and sectional interests, merely outward and material matters, may be compromised for the general welfare; but the right and the true never. The majority may not support nor even comprehend the highest political truth. Let them, then, put into act the ideas that belong to their level and keep the responsibility therefor; but let not those who do see the truth that is needed yield one jot or tittle of it because it cannot be enacted to-day. If they cannot be legislators, let them be prophets. Stronger was Jesus hanging upon the cross than Pilate, at the command of the political voices of the day, signing his death-warrant. Stronger is the man or the party that stands for the truth, though in a minority and having no official power, than the man or the party that may possess all the insignia and patronage of office, but denying the truth. Better wait a whole century than help to enact a lie or even a half-truth, if the half-truth can only be obtained by a compromise