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to obtain statistics. It is not strange that experi-
ments in America have produced similar resnlts.
After four years of trial in St. Louis, the license
system was abandoned as an ignominious failure,
in both a sanitary and a moral point of view. The
results during the experiment showed an increase of
thirty-four per cent, in the number of houses of vice,
and of thirty-five per cent, in the number of recog-
nized women, besides those unknown ; while the
proportion of diseases increased from three and
three-fourths per cent, to six per cent. So irre-
sistible was the demonstration of failure that the
license law was repealed by a vote of three fourths
in the Missouri Senate, and by a vote of ninety to
one in the House. Such facts as can be gathered
from unofficial reports indicate similar results in
Cleveland and Daven])ort.

Christ's method of dealing with the abandoned
woman is fundamentally different. It rests upon
a radically different assumption, and is inspired
by a radically different spirit. To Christ, " the
woman that was a sinner " is not an abandoned
woman. She is not shut out from the mercies
and the helpfulness of God ; she is not shnt out


from Christ s congregations ; she is not shut out
from his private personal conversation ; she is not
shut out from his society. When he preaches,
the publicans and the harlots troop into his con-
presation to hear him, and he welcomes them.
When he sits at the well, he does not hesitate to
ask a favor at the hand of an impure woman, and
enter into social and friendly conversation with
her. When such a woman proffers him the offer-
ings of a reverent and repentant love, he accepts
them. Such were his relations with this class
that the name of one of his intimate disciples
has been given by his church to all such peni-
tents, although later scholarship holds that there
is little reason to think that Mary Magdalene
ever bore the evil character attributed to her.
To Christ, not the woman that was a sinner was
abandoned, — not for her had he lost hope. The
men of honorable position, who used their religion
to cloak their iniquity, — these were the men who
sometimes seemed to him abandoned of themselves,
of God, and of all beneficent influences, never the
drunkard, never the harlot.

There is one story in Christ's life as j^athetic as
any story in that narrative so full of pathos.^ The
Oriental house was built around an open court.
The rooms on the ground floor were porches open-
in sf on this court. A Pharisee invited Christ to
dine with him. He accepted the invitation. The
1 Luke x\\. 36-50.


villagers trooped in and filled the open square.
He reclined at the table, his naked feet stretched
out behind him. A woman of the town crept in
among the villagers and listened. Something in
his words or in his nuinner stirred the dormant
life in her, fanned the dead hope into a flame,
awakened remorse for the past and sorrow for the
present, and the great tears gathered in her eyes,
and then fell down, drop by drop, upon the naked
feet of the Master. Startled that tears from such
eyes as hers should fall on feet such as his, she
kneeled, and, taking the long tresses of her hair,
wiped the polluting drops away, and then, finding
herself unresisted, took from her bosom a box of
ointment, broke it open, and anointed his feet
with it. The Pharisee, to whom she was an
abandoned woman, looked on amazed, and said:
" This man is no prophet, or he would have known
what manner of woman she is; for she is a sinner."
But Christ said : " Thy faith hath saved thee ; go
in peace." The heart of womanhood is not easily
extinguished, and what the Master said in the
chamber of death he said again in this other
death chamber : " She is not dead, she sleepeth."
Love can call her back to life again. She is not
abandoned of God ; she is not abandoned of her-
self. Why should we abandon her ? Why should
we reach out a hand to help every other sinner,
and none to this one? Why oi)en the doors to
every other sinner and close them to this one ?


Christ's first principle was that vice in woman
is curable. His second was equally radical and
far-reaching. He treated the same vice as not less
culpable in man. He did not condone in the one
what he condemned in the other. A woman was
once brought to him.^ She had been taken in
adultery. The Pharisees who stood around asked
for his judgment upon her. Moses said she should
be put to death; what said he? "Let him that is
without sin among you cast the first stone," he
said. Then he stooped and wrote upon the ground
that he might not look upon her shame. And
they departed one by one, convicted by their own
consciences, and left her alone with the Master.
Then he turned to her with the question, " Hath
no man condemned thee ? " "No man. Lord."
" Neither do I condemn thee ; go and sin no
more." Whatever other significance this incident
has, certainly it has this, that what is sin in
woman is not less sin in man. True, unchastity
in woman is more destructive of the family, more
destructive of society, apparently more destructive
of the individual character, than in man ; but
this does not make it the greater sin. " Would
you learn," says Dr. Napheys,^ " the only possible
method of reforming sinful women ? Three words
contain the secret, — Reform the men. In them,

1 John viii. 2-11. Although there is some doubt as to this
passage on external grounds, and it is bracketed in the Revised
Version, the internal evidence leaves small doubt as to its sub-
stantial genuineness.

^ Transmission of Life, pp. 128, 129o


in their illicit lusts, in their misgoverned passions,
in their selfish desires, in their godless disregard
of duty, in their ignorance of the wages of sin, in
their want of nobleness to resist temptation, in
their false notions of health, is the source of all
this sin." Truly in the great majority of cases
this is the source of the sin, and this is the direc-
tion in which, first, reform is to be wrought.
Tridy no chapter in human history is more shame-
ful than that which records the ignominy with
which men have overwhelmed sinful women, and
the pride which they have taken in the sins of
men. Says Mr. Lecky, in his " History of Euro-
pean Morals " ^ : —

" The contrast between the levity with which the
frailty of men has in most ages been regarded, and
the extreme severity with which women who have been
guilty of the same offense have generally been treated,
forms one of the most singular anomalies in moral his-
tory, and appears the more remarkable when we re-
member that the temptation usually springs from the
sex which is so readily pardoned ; tliat the sex which is
visited with such crushing penalties is proverbially the
most weak ; and that in the case of women, but not in
the case of men, the vice is very commonly the result
of the most abject misery and poverty. ... At the
present day, — although the standard of morals is far
higher than in pagan Rome, — it may be questioned
whether the inequality of the censure which is bestowed
upon the two sexes is not as great as in the days of

1 Vol. ii. pp. 365-367.


paganism, and that inequality is continually the cause
of the most shameful and the most pitiable injustice.
In one respect, indeed, a great retrogression resulted
from chivalry, and long survived its decay. The char-
acter of the seducer, and especially of the passionless
seducer, who pursues his career simply as a kind of
sport, and under the influence of no stronger motive
than vanity or a spirit of adventure, and who designates
his successes in destroying the honor of women his con-
quests, has been glorified and idealized in the popular
literature of Christendom in a manner to which we can
find no parallel in antiquity. When we reflect that the
object of such men is, by the coldest and most deliberate
treachery, to blast the lives of innocent women ; when
we compare the levity of his motive with the irrepara-
ble injury he inflicts ; and when we remember that he
can only deceive his victim by persuading her to love
him, and can only ruin her by persuading her to trust
him, — it must be owned that it would be difficult to con-
ceive of cruelty more wanton and more heartless, or a
character combining more numerous elements of infamy
and of dishonor. That such a character should for
many centuries have been the popular ideal of a vast
section of literature ; that it should have been the con-
tinual boast of those who most plumed themselves upon
their honor, — is assuredly one of the most mournful facts
in history, and it represents a moral deflection certainly
not less than was revealed in ancient Greece by the
position that was assigned to the courtesan."

In the story of the " Scarlet Letter," Hester
Prynne wears the symbol of her sin upon her
breast, while Mr. Dimmesdale wears a like scar-


let letter liidclen in Ms garments from all other
eyes, but burnt into his bosom. After a long
struggle the story comes to its tragical yet re-
splendent conclusion, when the guilty clergyman
conquers himself and his fears, goes up into the
pillory where she once stood alone in her disgrace,
and, standing by her side, holds the child of their
sinful love by his hand, and there confesses his sin
before those who had done him reverence. Not
until our civilization shall have wrought out in life
what Hawthorne wrought out in " The Scarlet
Letter " — not until the man takes his stand in
the pillory by the woman, and the scarlet letter is
seen on the breast of the one as of the other, and
both bear the ineffable shame, and each help the
other back to the ineffable glory — shall we find
Christ's remedy.

In brief, then, Christ's method of dealing with
the social evil is precisely the same as his method
of dealing with other crimes, — the method, not of
permission and regulation, not of segregation and
protection, not of mere prohibition and penalty,
but the method of compassion and cure. Chris-
tianity is therapeutic. In so far as licentiousness
is a violation of the social order, Christ's method
would prohibit it by law. The law-breaker would
be arrested, not to be punished for her sin, but to
be cured of it ; to be separated from the evil influ-
ences which have brought her into sin ; to be
brought under the influences which would lead her
into paths of virtue, and, wherever the cure could


not be effected, to be kept in confinement for the
rest of her life, not to punish her for past sin, but
to protect her and to protect the community from
sin in the future. It is not true that the fallen
woman is an irrecoverable woman. History dis-
proves this cynical assumption. The homes that
have been established and the institutions that
have been opened for the reform of fallen women
have not failed in their mission. In spite of the
coldness of the community, in spite of the poor
support given to them, in spite of the few help-
ing hands, the record of their results compares
favorably with that of other institutions seeking
the reformation of other offenders.^

I can hardly hope that these pages will ever fall
under the eye of what society — with an infidel's

1 At the Clerical Union, of New York, March 9, 1896, Mr. H.
A. Gould, of the New York Rescue Work, stated that, of the g-irls
whom that organization succeeded in reaching at all, from seventy-
eight to eighty-two per cent, were reformed ; and the statistics
of the Florence Mission for 1886-87 report, out of 241 admitted
to the Home, 68 converted to Christ, 85 provided with situa-
tions, 21 returned to their own homes or to friends, and only
19 presumably returned to their old life. The remainder are
accounted for as sent to other homes or to hospitals. While these
figures are not conclusive, they certainly indicate the final refor-
mation of a very considerable proportion, — probably over half.
" In the Florence Crittenton Mission, in Bleecker Street, New York,
250 of these girls have been rescued every year for the twelve
years it has been opened. In addition to this work, Mr. Critten-
ton has opened twenty-one homes in as many different States,
where annually about three thousand girls find a Christian home
and such training as makes them self-respecting, self-supporting
women." — Thanksgiving Day Announcement, 1895. The fol-


denial of the Christian's hope — calls an " aban-
doned woman." If they should, I should wish to
say to her, what I have tried to say to her sisters
for her : " You are not an abandoned woman.

lowing is ^ven as the result of three years' work in the Florence
Crittenton Mission in San Francisco, Cal. : —

Whole number admitted 190

Number known to have gone astray 24

" lost track of 13

" dead 5

— 42
Number at service doing well 47

" returned to parents doing well . . . .53

" married doing well 23

" in active Christian work . . , . .3

— 126
Remaining in the Home 22

From The Traffic in Girls, by Mrs. Charlton Edholm, p. 239.
In the Mission in San Jos^, Cal.. there were in one year 184
professed conversions. " Much care has been taken to account
for only those who were considered converted. Most of the 184
are members of good standing in San Josd churches." Idetn,
p. 218. For an interesting account of efforts to reach and save
this class in past centuries, and the results, see the valuable
article by Mrs. Josephine E. Butler, quoted above, — " Lovers of
the Lost," Contemporary Review, vol. xiii. p. 16 (January, 1870).
Mrs. Butler says, p. 29: "There are many indications in the
history of this class of people, of occasional sympathetic move-
ments among themselves, of yearning desires for restoration, and
of a spirit of weeping and supplication poured forth on them
when no human preacher had summoned them to repent. In
1489 all the outcasts of Amiens, a great army of weeping, re-
morseful women, applied to the civil authorities for a place of
retreat, where they might hide their shame and sorrow and
devote tliemselves to lionest labor and to prayer. Their request
was granted. In other places they formed associations among
themselves for the correction of tlieir morals, and to aid each
other in return to virtue."


You have sinned : so have I ; so have we all.
But you are still God's child. He has not aban-
doned you ; do not abandon yourself." The trav-
eler in South America, startled by a plaintive cry
in the darkened forest, is told by his guide that it
is not a bird ; it is the cry of a lost soul, and this
is the Christian poet's response : —

" Dim burns the boat lamp : shadows deepen round
From giant trees with snake-like creepers wound,
And the black water glides without a sound.

" But in the traveler's heart a secret sense
Of nature plastic to benign intents,
And an eternal good in Providence,

" Lifts to the starry calm of heaven his eyes ;
And, lo ! rebuking all earth's ominous cries,
The Cross of pardon lights the tropic skies !

" ' Father of all ! ' he urges his strong plea,
" ' Thou lovest all ; th)^ erring child may be
Lost to himself, but never lost to Thee !

" ' All souls are Thine ; the wings of morning bear
None from that Presence which is everywhere,
Nor hell itself can hide, for Thou art there.

" ' Through sins of sense, perversities of will,

Through doubt and pain, through guilt and shame and ill,
Thy pitying eye is on thy creature still.' "

A lost soul is a soul not yet found.^ Whenever
this lost child of God comes to herself, she may
arise and come to her Father. Though society
stand about her, each with a stone ready to fling

1 This is Christ's interpretation of his own phrase. The lost
sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son were all finally found. Luke
XV. 6, 9, 24.


at her, still the Master condemns her judges with
the sentence, " He that is without sin among you,
let him cast the first stone." Still he gives heart
of hope to the woman whom his compassion has
found, saying to her, "Neither do I condemn
thee; go and sin no more."



In order to comprehend the religious problems
of any age, we must recognize a growth of hu-
manity akin to the growth of the individual, and
see how the problems of life change from age to
age. In the first century, polytheism was almost
universal. The worship of the one God was prac-
tically confined within the narrow limits of Pal-
estine. All Europe was divided into warring
provinces, kept at peace only by the strong hand
of the Roman government. Not only each of
these provinces had its god, but in each province
every city, and in each city every hamlet ; and
the s:ods themselves were either immoral or im-
moral. The first lesson which the Christian Church
had to teach the world was the nature of God, —
that He is one, and that He is love. It went forth
into Europe carrying this message, — that all men
are children of one Father, made in his image
and redeemed by his love. Gradually, under the
influence of this message, Europe was unified ;
the Church itself became one. One language was
spoken in all the churches, whatever language
might be spoken in the various provinces. One


ritual prevailed in all the cliurclies, whatever laws
might prevail in the various communities. One
God was worshiped in all the churches, and gradu-
ally came to be worshiped in all the homes. Still,
for a time, the nature of God was hotly debated
even within the Church of Christ. We look back
upon these debates that issued in the Nicene Creed
with almost amused contempt. But the debate
over Homoousian and Homoiousian was not so
insignificant as it seems to us to be. The ques-
tion fundamental in it was this : Does Jesus Christ
really manifest the nature of God? It was not
until well along in the Middle Ages that the truth
that Jesus Christ was the manifestation of God
came to be universally accepted as the catholic
faith of the Church of Christ. For the divisions
in Christendom are no longer divisions respecting
the nature of God. The orthodox and the hetero-
dox, the Protestant and the Roman Catholic, nay,
the Christian and the theist, agree substantially in
this — that there is one God, and that he is merci-
ful and loving, like Jesus Christ. The difference
between the rationalist and the orthodox to-day in
their interpretation of Christ seems to be chiefly
this : Both look at the image in the mirror ; the
orthodox says, " This is the image of God ; " the
rationalist says, '' This is not the image of God,
but God looks exactly like him."

Next came the question. What is the nature of
man? There was no recognition of man as man
in the first century. There were Greeks, Romans,


Jews, Teutons, Gauls, but there was no man.
There were j^^^tricians and plebeians and slaves,
but there was no man. When Paul said, " In
Jesus Christ all are one, — Greek and Jew, cir-
cumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scyth-
ian, bond and free," ^ — he uttered a very radical
truth. It was a long while before the world came
to recognize that of one blood God hath made all
the nations of the earth, for to dwell on all the
face of the earth,^ — before men came to recognize
that there is a bond that unites humanity deeper
and stronger than the bond that unites men in
families, tribes, nations, or ecclesiastical organiza-
tions. That man is man; that he is a son of
God ; that slave and plebeian, rich and poor, Jew
and Gentile, are sons of God, and that they have
wandered from their God and separated them-
selves from Him, — this also was the message of
Christ's Church. It was a long time before hu-
manity learned this message ; centuries was it in
studying this simple lesson : but finally it was
wrou"-ht into the faith of the Christian Church,
and in some measure into the faith of Christen-
dom, — God is good ; man is his child, but has
sinned against Him.

Then came the next great question, the ques-
tion of the Reformation: How is this man who
is separated from God and has sinned to be
brought back to Him again ? How can this man,
who has despised this goodness of God, violated
1 Gal. iii. 28 ; Col. iii. 11. ^ Acts xvii. 26.


his law, turned his back on Him, — how can he
be brought back to his Father's home? The
Roman Catholic Church said : There is only one
door ; he must come through the Church ; he must
pay his price, in penance here or purgatory here-
after ; or he may compound for it and get an ab-
solution, which is not permission to sin, but relief
from the pains of penances and the pains of pur-
gatory. Then it was that Luther came with his
message : Every man is a son of God, and stands
directly and immediately in the presence of God :
he need pay no price ; need ask no permission ;
need enter through no church door. God is love,
and man is need : wherever love is and need is,
they are drawn together ; all that man has to do
is to go back in faith and hojie and love, for God
never has ceased to love him. That lesson also is
pretty well learned. It is to be proclaimed again
and again from the Christian pulpit ; it is to be
taught against the legalism of Puritanism on the
one hand, and the legalism of Romanism on the
other ; and yet, in the main, it is believed in
the Roman Catholic Church as truly as in the
Protestant Church. It would be hard to find
anywhere in English literature a better statement
of the essential Lutheran doctrine than in Faber's
hymn : —

" There 's a wideness in God's mercy
Like the wideness of the sea,
And a kindness in his justice
Which is more than liberty."


Thus these three great questions have been asked
and answered : Who is God ? God is love. What
is man ? His chikl, a sinner. How shall this sin-
ner come back to find God ? Let him come, and
love will be ready to receive him.

Then, and not till then, was the world ready for
the next great question : How are these men, sons
of God, to live together in one human brother-
hood ? That is the question of the nineteenth
century and of the American community.^ Still
the pulpit must proclaim that God is one ; still it
must insist that God is love ; still it must declare
that man is God's son ; still it must affirm that
man has wandered from God and needs to return ;
still it must declare that there is no obstacle be-
tween the soul and God except his own unwilling-
ness to return. These truths it must declare over
and over again to new generations. But these are
no longer problems to be debated and discussed.
The problem of our time is. How are men who are //
sons of God to live together in one human brother-
hood ? This is the question of the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries, and this is preeminently the
question which is to be answered by practical ex-
periment in the United States of America.

Into the United States God has poured a vast
heterogeneous population. The picture which John
painted in the Apocalypse may be seen here, with

1 For this general outline of the history of doctrine I am in-
debted to an address of Dr. Julius H. Seelye, so far as I know
not published.


a difference : men gathered out of all nations and
kindreds and peoples and tongues, but not before
the throne of God, nor praising him. Every phase
of individual character is here represented ; every
race, every nationality, every language, every form
of religion. Here are the Irishman, the Englishman,
the Frenchman, the Swede, the Norwegian, the
German, the Hungarian, the Pole, the Italian, the
Spaniard, the Portuguese. Here are the Celt,
the Anglo-Saxon, the African, the Malay. Here is
the negro, with his emotional religion ; the Roman
Catholic, with his ceremonial religion ; the Puritan,
with his intellectual religion ; and the unbelieving
German, with his no religion at all. Hither they
have come trooping, sometimes beckoned by us,
sometimes thrust upon us, sometimes invading us ;
but, welcome or unwelcome, still they come. To
America the language of the ancient Hebrew pro-
phet may be almost literally applied : —

" The sons of strangers also shall build thy walls,
And their kings shall serve thee ;

" Thy gates also shall be open continually ;

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Online LibraryLyman AbbottChristianaity and social problems → online text (page 23 of 25)