Samuel G. (Samuel George) Smith.

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For a long time I have wondered why it is that
many intelligent persons who accept the genetic view
of the development of life have no open-mindedness
for the genetic view of history. They recognize that
there are certain periods in the history of life when
old environments give way, new forms of life appear
showing a fresh summertime, and sustaining heart
and hope. This class of persons may recognize that
there is a history of art, and if they do not glory in
the pre-Raphaelite as Beauty's last word or accept
the impressionist's school as the final despair of the
creative gods, they do see continuity in Art; they do
recognize that every time must create its own artistic
forms in harmony with the terms and the conditions
of its life. Literature in successive periods may
flower out in the great secular bibles; the works of
Homer, ^schylus, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe. But
even these men are social products as well as social
forces, and literature has its continuity, its progress
and its invincible relationships.

In the domain of what is called history the task
has not been so easy. It is difficult to harmonize the
influence of fne personal will with the conclusions of
the social mind. It is not easy to see that in the his-
toric development a certain legitimacy has attached
to every form of human society. Some people do


know, for example, that organized slavery gave the
master his duty as well as his rights, and so far was
a great advance in the world's social order, just as
dueling was far better than sneaking assassination;
though slavery and dueling were both to pass away.
We know that the ancient Greek artists did not un-
derstand the theory of perspective, and on that ac-
count we find their paintings amusing. But many
writers treat historical subjects without any sense of
perspective and both themselves and their readers
often take the performance very seriously.

Religion has suffered more from this unscientific
method of procedure than almost any other depart-
ment of human experience. It has been partly be-
cause of the great intensity of interest men have
usually had in religion and the consequent intrusion
of the emotional element. The recent science of com-
parative religion has taught us to be more respectful
to the common elements in various systems, and to
recognize in them whatever has been valuable for
groups of believers and worshipers. It is no longer
thought necessary for truth to be original in order to
be useful; in fact, the more widely a conviction or a
custom is shared among diverse peoples the more
certain are we of its value.

We have gone somewhat further and in addition to
a history of philosophy some very respectable efforts
have been made to present to the world a history of
theology. Authorities of the Roman Church have
often gone so far as to provide for a history of the-
ology in the doctrine of the permanence of the teach-
ing power of the church. Writers in various schools


of thought have been seeking to appraise and appor-
tion the Hebrew, the Greek and the Roman elements
in modern Christianity. Some of these efforts have
been too purposeful and not sufficiently naive to be
really scientific. But at any rate the religious expe-
rience of the race is being taken more seriously than
it was in the middle of the nineteenth century, and
the great scientific movement of that period, which
seemed to many of the fathers big with disaster to
every form of Christianity, turns out to find it neces-
sary at last to regard the religious life of the world
as a permanent department of social science.

One objection to scientific method in the domain
of religion, or indeed in any domain where human
beings have a vital interest, is that the scientists as a
rule have been rather a repellent sort of folk. They
have seemed to have no place for life. That is to say
a living thing is only of scientific importance when
it can be cut up and its organs put in pigeon holes.
The instrument of science has been supposed to be
the "cold light of reason," though "cold light "
could not really be an instrument for anything. As
a matter of fact we now know that the pioneer of
science has usually been the imagination, and the im-
pulse of science has been some human passion. It is
possible even that in time it may become interesting.
At all events there can be no social science worth the
name that does not take into account the fundamental
social forces, and those tremendous vitalities in indi-
viduals and in groups, for which we may indeed have
names, but which have never yet been fully de-
scribed, and which up to date leave plenty of room


for the thing which is vaguely called "The Tran-
scendental." The attack upon Christianity as a re-
ligion and upon the church as a social organization
has changed very much of late years, and the change
is partly unconscious. Formerly the enemies used
to say, the thing is not true, but at present the
strength of the attack is, the thing is not useful.
With whip and spur the frantic friends of the
church are urging it to all sorts of new activities,
and the enemies of the church are insisting that the
church is no longer available for important social ob-
ligations. The outside enemies may be ignored. In
fact they have always been negligible, but the time
has come when the church is most sorely wounded
in the house of her friends, and her foes are those
of her own household.

This study is an effort to use the genetic method
in considering the relation of the Christian church to
the development of democracy. For the time we
have nothing to do with creed or sect, with Roman or
Protestant, save as their activities bear upon the for-
tunes of democratic institutions. The result of the
study convinces the writer that Christianity has ful-
filled a unique social function of the utmost value as
a by-product of its religious life, and the attempt is
here made to sketch that important function.

The ideas of democracy are quite evidently in the
world. It is important to know at what time and in
what person the latent life of the people found an
articulate voice. It seems evident that that time was
the first century of our era, and the voice was that
of Jesus. It may be found that the type of democ-


racy which He introduced into the world has not yet
clothed itself with proper institutions, but it would
seem that the teaching of Jesus upon this subject is
still the noblest philosophy which the race has heard.

The history of the church has been an effort, more
or less successful, to embody both the religious and
the social teachings of Jesus in human experience.
There are at least some series of events which indi-
cate the pathway of democracy. The influence of
primitive Christianity culminating in Constantine
profoundly affected his legislation. There can be no
question that primitive Christianity humanized the

It is not quite true to say that upon the ruins of
the Roman empire the Roman Catholic Church arose ;
for the popes have always had emperors as their mas-
ters, their servants or their antagonists. The strug-
gles of the church and the empire were significant
through several centuries. The result of the strug-
gles has been without question to the advantage of
the common people.

Christianity has always been larger than the
church. The Roman church, with a great flexibility,
has frequently found room for new forms of life.
This is shown in the history of the monastic orders,
and conspicuously in her hospitality to St. Francis
d'Assisi, as well as in the motherhood of the Univer-
sities. When she has failed to find room for such
turbulent souls as Luther and Calvin, these have gone
their way carrying the jewels of Egypt with them,
and seeking a church life in the promised land of
new Christian organizations. The reformers have not


always been fortunate in their doctrine or method,
but it is impossible for them at least to do anything
but promote democratic institutions.

Modern Christianity has been the mother of the
great social movements of our times. Stupid critics
have railed against the church because it did not al-
ways move at once as one mass in favor of every
great and good cause. It were foolishness to expect
it. We have prophets and reformers simply because
masses of men do not move easily, and love their tra-
ditions. The glory of the church is not that she was
always encamped in full force on every battle line
but rather that she gave birth to the new leaders, fur-
nished them their ideas, developed for them their
character, provided their inspiration, and was the
recruiting ground for their battalions.

In spite of all that Jesus taught, and all that the
church has done, it is by no means certain that the
democracy of the present understands its weaknesses
or can foresee its defeats. Its weakness is the lack of
intelligence and virtue. Its defeats are to be nu-
merous, and its final victory will only come when the
new order of men predicted in the person of Jesus
take the actual leadership of human affairs, and so
shape human conduct that what the best men now
largely dream about will be actually recognized as a
possible goal in the domain of practical statesman-

The occasion for this study was an invitation to
deliver a course of lectures upon "Applied Chris-
tianity," upon the Enoch Pond foundation at the
Bangor Theological Seminary. It soon seemed to me


that all real Christianity is in its very nature "ap-
plied," and I determined to attempt to show that
there is not a special kind of Christian activity to be
encouraged but that if essential Christianity has the
right of way it will create every kind of useful so-
cial activity. Though this volume was suggested by
the course of lectures it differs from them both in
form and extent, as they were spoken addresses and
five in number.













INDEX . 347


"The faith of Christ makes fraternal, individuals
and nations, elevates the multitude, with education,
personal and collective ; sanctifies labor, stirs the con-
science with the excellence of spirit above matter,
reinforces with eternal sanctions the duties which
each has toward his fellows, induces abnegation and
sacrifices and creates an unconquerable energy for
social amelioration .... In brief all present
democracy showing the Cross says : ' In this sign you
conquer/ " Mons. Giambattista Savarese, "La Chiesa
e la Democrazia."

"The strongest and most durable powers of the
earth are not those that come from an electoral urn
(a polling booth) but from an election imaginary
and mystical." Tarde, "Les Transformations du
Pouvoir," p. 45.

"Christianity by her bond of unity, her moral tie,
by softening slavery into serfdom, laid the founda-
tions of modern civilization." Lecky, "Rational-
ism," Vol. ii, p. 32.

"A humanity ten times stronger than ours would
be infinitely more religious" such men would "see
the baseness of all that is not truth and goodness
and beauty." E. Renan, "The Apostles," p. 136.

"The pagan world laboured under a triple curse,
the curse of corruption, the curse of cruelty, the
curse of slavery. ' ' Farrar, ' ' The Witness of History
to Christ," p. 173.


Democracy and The Church


The early history of the race depends upon
physical environment and primary economic
conditions. Savage men divided into types de-
pending upon opportunities which involved
neither travel nor commerce. For the anxious
questions, what shall we eat and what shall we
drink, could not be put aside. The quality of
the body was fixed by the nature of the food, as
the activities and interests reflected resources
and opportunities. These things have to do
with the development of the savage man and
the beginnings of the race. The dawn of civili-
zation reveals quite other forces at work. For
the horde becomes a tribe, and the tribe a na-
tion by the power of those ideas which inspire,
and those ever-widening desires which drive
to corresponding action. It is in these ideas

2 1


and desires that we discover the interpretation
of life. Those men are significant who have in-
carnated and disclosed the most valuable social
ideas; and those movements must be studied
which have quickened the passions, and have
resulted in new or more complex activities.

Eeligion is the most efficient of all the factors
in human history, because it furnishes at once
essential ideas, inspires great motives, controls
economic conditions, and creates great men.
The makers of history are not those who fight
its battles, who found its empires, who write
its constitutions, or who frame its laws. St.
Louis influenced France more than Louis XIV.
The power of Stephen Langton was not in the
See of Canterbury, but in his essential reli'gious
nature. Hildebrand was greater as the brain
and heart of the church than he was as Gregory
VII. So Catherine of Siena, without a throne,
was more important than any woman of Italy.
Joan of Arc has remained a human document
of invincible interest, not because she conquered
the English in battle, nor yet because she was
burned as a martyr, but because her great re-
ligious personality made men believe that the
finite world was the theater of divine affairs.

Gautama, resigning his throne, was mightier
than any monarch in all the Asian empires.



Confucius has compelled every dynasty of
China since his time, and the influence of Socra-
tes upon the life and religion of the world, and
not upon its speculative thought, is his final in-
terpretation. Elsewhere 1 I have shown re-
ligion as a primary experience. While other
religions have lifted men out of animalism, fur-
nished them noble thoughts, and afterward
great duties, have made the temple the dwell-
ing-place of every form of beauty, and often
have established national unity, it has remained
for Christianity to become the greatest and
most universal force the world has ever known.

The object of this study is to exhibit the in-
fluence of Christianity upon the making of de-
mocracy. The teaching of Jesus discloses a
unique foundation for the rights of men; and
the impulse of Christianity, as yet unspent, is
on its way toward the formation on earth of
the Kingdom of God. Let others debate about
forms of theology, or the terms of church or-
ganization, let us seek to see the life and teach-
ing of Jesus as the creative and uplifting force
in the social life of the world for nearly two
thousand years.

All debates about the nature of the final so-
cial order are resolved by a discovery of the

1 ' ' Beligion in the Making. ' '



true nature of democracy. The foes of democ-
racy have always feared the people, and in this
the foes of democracy have shown their wisdom.
The people, ignorant, selfish, inefficient, if
placed in power, drive on to the wreck of the
world. It was not the actual man, but it was
the possible man, who was always in the mind
of Jesus. He proposed to reorganize society, by
reorganizing man. The failure of the actual
man is seen in the doom of every form of demo-
cratic government in history. The citizenship,
even when limited to the upper classes, has soon
been involved in ruin. Yet, in spite of failures
of the past, the heart of the world claims
democracy as its own, and history hastens on
toward the goal promised in the birth of the
Jewish child, whose mother named him Jesus.
The regeneration of society, called by the name
of democracy, means not simply that all the
people shall share in political power, but that
all the people shall share in the good of the
world, and in the fullness of life. It demands
the possibility of an adequate career for every
man, woman, and child. It demands that the
thing we vaguely call society adjust itself to
the demands and the duties involved in this

It is only in the light of recent doctrines of


human development there can he seen in a new
perspective the real values of history. Time
was when history consisted of the story of wars
and heroes. Then it came to mean the struc-
ture of governments and the career of nations.
A later school busied itself with descriptions
of the social and industrial life of various

The time has come to discover that history
has had one increasing purpose. Social groups
have conquered the limitations of physical en-
vironment. Eager hand and conquering brain
have made an economic success faster than any
promise contained in national resources. The
whole range of history has two interpretations.
In the first is the ever-widening conquest of
the spiritual, or, if you prefer the term, of the
intellectual man, over material facts and appar-
ent limitations, summing these up not alone in
the conquest of the earth he knew, but in the
discovery of a richer world than his fathers
ever dreamed.

The second fact is the ever-widening circle of
men who participate in all the richness of hu-
man life. In social and economic affairs even
more than in politics the tendency has been for
despotism to yield to oligarchy, for that to be
succeeded by aristocracy, and for the democ-



racy, in some form or other, finally to emerge.
In this reading of history, events once ignored
take on new meaning, and the leaven in a meas-
ure of meal becomes the source of life and the
means of organization. In the rise and fall of
empires, the rebalancing of human affairs, but
especially in the reshaping of human authority,
society manifests itself as a living thing. In
the changes of the recent centuries, Christianity
has been an inexhaustible dynamic. Only in our
generation are the making of history and the
methods of its progress becoming evident.
Jesus is the maker of the modern world. In
saying that, it is necessary to assume all the
burden of Christian history.

The making of monstrous creeds, the organi-
zation of tyrannical churches, the ambitions of
priests and prelates, and the thousand-fold
struggle throughout all the generations have
solemnly predicted one thing and one thing
only the developed man in a free human so-
ciety where he may find opportunity for the ex-
ercise of all his gifts.

The slowness of the movement toward this
great end is an offence, but it has been due to
the stupendous nature of the task, as well as to
the loftiness of the purpose revealed in aims of
the world's Master. It is comparatively easy



to find a saint, for solitary examples belonged
to all religions and to all ages, but it is an in-
finite task to organize sainthood and to make it
the controlling fact of a cosmic civilization.
Aristotle taught that noble living is the pur-
pose of the state, but he meant a life com-
plete in action and in comfort. Jesus sought to
develop not a state but men, leaving their ca-
reer to themselves. These noble men were sure
to make freedom and fullness of life the final
goal of the race. The wealth and ambition of
priests and rulers, the conflict of church and
empire, and even the great popular disturb-
ances were all parts of the process. Carlyle
says that the French revolution was " truth
clad in hell-fire, " but Brunetiere declares that
it was essentially religious. It is impossible to
present the whole range, or to even fully set
forth the principal movements of modern his-
tory, but enough can be presented to show the
nature of the process.

It is naturally essential in the beginning of
the study to insist upon a fact to which all men
will assent, and that is the presence to-day in
the world of ideals of democracy. These ideals
of democracy, however, would remain unre-
vealed as practical forces had they not already
been partially embodied in existing institutions.



The voices of democracy come from various
camps, sometimes strident, to many minds re-
pellent, but they are here. In some period and
in some living voice the ideals of democracy
first appeared among men. It is important to
our purpose to show that the ideals of modern
democracy owe their origin to Jesus of Naza-
reth, and their permanence in the world to the
Christian church. The conclusion will follow
that when the church of Jesus accepts the same
democracy as its founder it will reach its final
place of power and render its perfect service
to the social order.

It is necessary to show that before Jesus the
ideals of democracy did not exist and that since
His life and teaching the world has not been
able to be rid of them. Credit will be given to
the Hebrew ancestry of Jesus in a later para-
graph. We have to do now with the world out-
side of Hebrew life. Hegel, 1 in his l ' Philosophy
of History,' 1 speaks of the beautiful, free Greek
Spirit, and would have us understand that the
beginning of the realization of the ideal was
essentially Hellenic.

In Athens, if anywhere, we may look for a so-
cial program to fit the needs of the world. For-
tunately we have there the man, Plato, and the

1 Hegel's " Philosophy of History, " p. 167.


book, "The Republic." Emerson says that of
Plato only it may be said, "burn the libraries
for their value is in this book." "Out of Plato
come all things which are still written and de-
bated among men of thought." "Plato is
Philosophy and Philosophy at once the glory
and the shame of mankind. ' ' x

James Martineau thinks that Plato in his
"Republic" was writing in such deep earnest
that he may be regarded as a moralist and
prophet. 2

In this view the "Republic" is no dream, but
was meant by its author as a real standard of
which all actual social constitutions are only
shadows and distortions. It must be confessed
that, in all the intellectual endeavor of the an-
cient world, nothing stands out as a distinct
scheme for the reconstruction of society at all
comparable to the work of Plato. It is worth
while to consider briefly the structure of his
ideal of society. As the universe is composed
of Intellect, Soul and Matter, so man is com-
posed of Reason, Impulse and Sensation. The
Commonwealth, therefore, must be constituted
in harmony with these primary facts. At the
head of the city are the golden guardians, the

'"Representative Men," pp. 41 and 42.
2 " Types of Ethical Theory," p. 24.



incarnation of thought. The second caste is
composed of the silver warriors, who represent
courage, while the producers, made of brass,
carry on the material industries.

Patriotism is really represented in the
guardians, and since these public philosophers
are to rule the state, they must be set free from
personal interest. Personal interest depends
upon family ties and private property. Hence,
in the true state, the ruling class must have a
community of goods and must be composed of
one common family, including all the men and
women composing this caste. The complete
ritual of life, from the relation of the sexes
through the care and training of children, as
well as the smallest details, is to be controlled
by the state. The state will be successful in
proportion as philosophers are kings and kings
become philosophers. The industrial class have
the same relations to the state that matter has
to reality. Matter has no real existence, but is
the negative stuff through which the ideal re-
veals itself, and the industrial classes are only
significant for their assistance in furnishing the
necessaries of life to warriors and rulers. The
warriors who represent human desire are to be
amply rewarded by every gratification. He

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Online LibrarySamuel G. (Samuel George) SmithDemocracy and the church → online text (page 1 of 19)