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The devotional services, with which the session was opened, were conducted by Rev. Henry J. Van Dyke, D. D., of New York.
Mr. Dodge: I have great pleasure in introducing to the Conference as the chairman for this session, Hon. J. W. Foster, who has been the honored representative of this country in so many of the courts of Europe, and has always been a friend of everything that was good in our country.
REMARKS BY HON. J. W. FOSTER. On taking the chair Mr. Foster said:
Dear friends, it seems a work of supererogation on my part, a stranger to most of you, to introduce to this audience one who is so well known to you as the gentleman who is first to address us this afternoon. I think you will agree with me that one of the most pleasant incidents of this Conference has been that it has afforded us an opportunity to see the face and hear the voice of him whose pen, before we came together, was so familiar to us. [Applause.] I feel that no living man has done more to awaken the Protestant church to a higher loyalty to our country and to our Lord and Master, than Dr. Josiah Strong, who will now read a paper on “Methods of Co-operation in Christian Work." [Applause.]
METHODS OF CO-OPERATION IN
REV.JOSIAH STRONG, D. D., GENERAL SECRETARY
OF THE EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE.
We have listened to presentations of the perils threatening our Christian civilization, which are well-fitted to sober our habitual American optimism. To show that there is no occasion for panic and no excuse for pessimism, we have made an inventory of the vast Christian resources of our country. We have had the fact strongly emphasized that, in order to utilize these resources in full, to meet the rising tide of perils, there must be a better understanding, a much larger measure of co-operation among denominations and.local churches. We now come logically to the consideration of Practical Methods of Co-operation in Christian Work.
The higher the form of life, the more complex is its organization, and the more perfect is the co-operation among its several organs. The same is true of civilization. The application of steam and electricity has given a mighty impetus to civilization because they created vast possibilities of organization and co-operation. And the progress of modern material civilization has been made chiefly by seizing upon these possibilities. These two correlative principles have been applied to commerce, to business, to transportation, to manufactures, to almost every form of industry; and thus the forces which are developing our material civilization have been multiplied many fold. But Protestant Christianity has not, as yet, laid hold of these two great principles which characterize the civilization of the nineteenth century. So far as organization and co-operation are concerned, Protestant Christianity is nearly a hundred years behind the age. It is still living in the eighteenth century. There must be preserved a certain parity of growth between the material on the one hand, and the moral and spiritual on the other. So far as the former outstrips the latter, our civilization becomes materialistic, our prosperity becomes our peril. And this is the great peril which threatens our Christian civilization to-day. Its lower elements have outgrown the higher; hence a demoralizing, animalizing tendency. If Christianity is to control our future development, to overmaster the material and make our lusty physical life the servant of the intellectual and moral, it must avail itself of these two great principles which have given such a marvelous impetus to our material civilization.
And exactly this, the inauguration of intelligent and comprehensive co-operation in aggressive Christian work is the inspiration of this new movement of the Alliance. It seeks nothing for itself; but being, in the judgment of many eminent men, the medium through which this desired co-operation can be most fitly and hopefully sought, it has accepted this work as a solemn duty, providentially laid upon it.
While studying the situation we consulted many wise men, and when our plans were sufficiently matured, we submitted them in outline to leading clergymen and laymen of all evangelical denominations. The endorsement which they received was so unanimous and hearty that we venture to offer them, by way of suggestion, to the Christian public.
It is proposed to invite the ministers and active laymen of each community to come together and form local alliances; and through this point of contact between the members of all evangelical denominations, can be secured, it is believed,
I. Co-operation in the study of sociological and industrial problems and in the application of Christian principles to their solution,
II. Co-operation in reaching our entire population with the gospel, and
III. The co-operation of the Christian millions of the land for the accomplishment of needed reforms, and for the defense of cherished American institutions. Let us consider
I. Co-operation in the study of sociological and industrial problems, and in the application of the principles of the gospel to their solution.
The conflict, not between capital and labor--each of which is the complement of the other, and which are as necessary to each other as are the two wings of a bird -but the conflict between capitalists and laborers, shows that our industrial system has not been informed by Christian principles. The fact of estrangement between the well-to-do and the ill-to-do, the indifference and exclusiveness of the one class and the discontent and even bitterness of the other, together with the sefishness of both, are proof that the principles of the gospel have not yet permeated our social system. Is not the world waiting and suffering for the application to its every-day affairs of that gospel which was to bring "peace on earth” as well as peace between heaven and earth?
At Saratoga, a year and a half ago, President Seelye called attention to the fact that some great focal idea controls the thinking of various ages; that for the first three centuries of the Christian era that idea was God; that during the fourth and fifth centuries that idea was man; that next came, logically, the doctrine of union between God and man, or the doctrine of salvation; that next came, naturally, the doctrine of human brotherhood, the relations of man to man, and that this has been the growing question since the Reformation.
As each of these doctrines grows out of the preceding by logical sequence, which was observed by President Seelye, it is evident that the next doctrine to be matured is that of man in his relations to his fellow. And as Christ's teachings contain the true doctrine of God, the true doctrine of man and of salvation, so also they contain the true doctrine of human brotherhood, of social relations; and the widespread discontent which so generally characterizes the artisan class of Christendom to-day is due to the fact that these teachings of Christ have not been thoroughly applied to men in their relations with each other. Has not the time come for such application ? May it not be that we are just now entering upon a new era in the history of the church and of civilization, viz., the era of applied Christianity ?
There is evidence that this nation has been commissioned of God to lend the way. The meeting on our shores of all kindreds and peoples and tongues tends to make ours a cosmopolitan civilization; and the fact that races which for centuries have inherited mutual antipathies are here commingling in their daily life, marks this as the land where first will take place a readjustment in the relations of man and man, based neither on the accident of birth nor on the incident of wealth, but rather on the broad basis of human brotherhood and Christian fellowship. The many rule here as nowhere else. Public opinion expresses itself in law, and makes itself felt in the modification or transformation of existing institutions, much more quickly than in other lands, even in those which are popularly governed. Moreover, our artisan classes are the most intelligent in the world; and this fact is highly favorable to their intelligent co-operation in hastening a better day.
And not only does this people seem to be providentially chosen for this work, but the hour for undertaking it would seem to have come. According to the logic of the ages, it is the next thing in order. Our civilization has developed to a stage where it has. become not only possible but necessary. The natural order of growth is, first, that which is physical, then that which is spiritual. It was first necessary to conquer the continent, to lay material foundations for a great civilization, to develop our political institutions, and to settle the great questions growing out of them. All this has been substantially accomplished, and now the problems of the hour, pressing upon every thoughtful mind, are these very questions. Nor will these sociological problems cease to be paramount until correctly solved, and the true solution will be found only by applying the teachings of Christ.
It is suggested, therefore, that the leading Christian men of each community come together statedly, not to speculate, not to develop new theories of society, but to study the problems of their own town, to find what are the real hindrances to its moral and spiritual progress, and devise practical means for their removal. Let them study the work and become inspired with the spirit of such men as Oberlin and Chalmers. Let them acquaint themselves with methods which in various instances have proved successful in reaching and elevating the masses. And whenever their experience throws new light on methods of dealing with pauperism, or preventing crime, or evangelizing city slums or neglected rural districts, when progress is made in adjusting the relations between employer and employed on Christian principles, let the national Alliance have the light, and it will reflect it to all its branches. Thus through co-operation, these branches will stimulate one another, and each will profit by the experience of all.
Local alliances can render important service by preparing reading-matter of the right sort and scattering it widely among workingmen. The artisan classes are now largely left a prey to chimerical