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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69

I. Its View and Value of Human Life

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I. Its View and Value of Human Life.

Value of the Individual.

Jesus taught the intrinsic value of tho individual life. At the time of His advent, the world and the teachers thereof, were unconscious of any such truth: a man was valuable only as our fingers and toes are valuable, that is, not intrinsically hut relatively: he was valued only as an appendage to the State. But Jesus for ever raised him above a mere marketable commodity by His startling and revolutionary question, "How much better is A Man than a sheep?" His view and value of human life he declared in the parable of "The Talents," in which, while he recognized the inequality of men (for to each was given according to his several ability), he shewed that fidelity to their trust was the common standard, and so taught "individual responsibility to God."* And lest any should think that the useless were valueless, he taught that just and kind treatment to the imprisoned, the naked, the hungry, and the sick, He would take as personal service to Himself, thus shewing that God

Brotherhood of Man.

valued even the least. Having placed life on such a basis, Christianity necessarily teaches the Brotherhood of Man. "God that made the world hath made of one blood all nations of men, and He is no respecter of persons." This equality of men in God's sight is persistently taught in Christ's method

All sinned

of salvation. God commandeth all men everywhere

All redeemed

to repent.§ He gave himself a ransom for all.|

All welcome.

Whosoever will let him take the water of life freely.

* Matt. xxv. 14

Matt. xxv. 40

Acts, xvii. 26. x. 34.

§ Acts, xvii. 30.

| I. Tim. ii. 6.

Rev. xxi. 19.

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The sacred rite by which the Christian world calls to mind the sacrificial death of Christ is a living and abiding testimony of the same truth, "Seeing that there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body."* And the Duke of Wellington was just, when seeing a peasant hesitate at kneeling by His Grace at the Lord's table, touched him on the shoulder and bade him kneel, saying, "This makes us all one."

But Christ is condemned by some for not denouncing

Christianity and Slavery.

slavery. What! is not the teaching of individual responsibility and universal brotherhood the only effective denunciation of slavery? Christ told the Jews that his teaching was a seed-sowing: and his work was leaven. The leaven of the above truth has abolished slavery. Do not stop me by reminding me of my anecdote about the first English slave ship: remember the answer given then: for abuses of itself, neither Christianity nor Christ is responsible. But I repeat that Christianity by the above truths necessarily abolished slavery. Hence the Boers bitterly opposed Dr. Livingstone's efforts to establish Christian Missions in the Transvaal, for the benefit of the natives. They did not fear that Dr. Livingtone's teaching would harm the natives, but they objected to a religion which taught these wretched savages that they had rights, God-given rights, and were made and redeemed by Him who made and redeemed their masters. But whilst slavery has been a violation of Christianity: slavery was the necessary outcome of the philosophy and page 16 faiths in the world at the advent of Christ. The first formal philosophical theory and defence of slavery is contained in Aristotle's Politics. There he calls slaves "animated instruments," compares them to utensils, and proves by the received philosophy of the time that a "slave is a portion of his possessor."† The number of the slaves at the advent of Christ was enormous. In Rome itself, according to Gibbon, of every five persons, three were slaves. And if we take the whole of the empire, then Gibbon's deliberate opinion is that the "slaves were at least equal in number to the free inhabitants of the Roman world." He estimates the population of the world at 120,000,000, and the slaves at 60,000,000.* The lives then, of half the population of the world when Christ entered it, had no value whatever, beyond that of sheep and cattle. And the non-value of life is perhaps more forcibly shewn by the amusements of the great city, by which innocent men where butchered to make a Roman holiday. Julius Ceasar gave a show in which 320 pairs of gladiators fought; Trajan gave a show in which 10,000 fought, the brutal sport lasting 123 days; and Domitian amused the city by instituting a bloody contest between dwarfs and women. What but the Gospel teaching has caused the difference between then and now? If you say that the great distance of time prevents our being sure of the real cause, then come nearer home. Read Stanley's "Through the Dark Continent," then com-

* In Defence of the Faith, p. 278.

Luthardt's Moral Truths, p. 335.

page 17 pare his revelations with the story of any living pioneer missionary who has gone to similar people with the Gospel only, and persuaded them to accept it. Compare his account of African tribes with Sir Arthur Gordon's report of Fiji, given in 1879. "Out of a population," he says, "of about 120,000. there are 102,000 now regular worshippers in the churches, and over 42,000 scholars in the day schools. There is still heathenism existing in the mountain districts, but surrounded as it is on all sides by a Christian population, it is rapidly dying out. This is the result of mission labour since 1835, among a people who wore cannibals, and who were wallowing in all the moral abominations of heathenism."
Christianity has likewise exalted woman. It is

Christianity exalted woman.

a fact too well known to need specific proof here, that when Christ came into the world, woman held a degraded position: she was chiefly the toy of man's passion and his beast of burden. But Christ immediately associated women with Him in His work, and treated them as the equals of men: He closed every gate of divorce, save one; and taught His followers that the man who even thought impurely of a woman wronged both her and himself. The first human being to whom he made the stupendous revelation of his Messiahship was a woman; with his dying breath, and in exquisite pain, he charged John to provide a home for His mother; and it was to a woman that he shewed himself first after His resurrection from the dead. His followers caught page 18 His spirit, and before the end of the first century the new truth had been preached in every city of the civilized world, that in Christ there is "neither male nor female, for all are one,"* and husbands were taught to love their wives, even as Christ loved the Church. O women, if we men are indebted to Christ, you are even more so. Of all the philanthropies that this world has seen, the greatest has been Christ's emancipation and exaltation of woman. Go where you please at this day, and you will find your sisters in every unchristianized land, degraded; even where "The Light of Asia" has been shining for centuries, a light that some enthusiasts declare to be as clear as "The Light of the World," even there woman is horribly degraded. In the Public Hall, at Cambridge West, I asked Dr. Hooper a question concerning morality and the position of woman in Asia, and he was unable to reply before a mixed audience. With pathetic simplicity, a young Asiatic wife asked the Zenana Missionary, who was reading the Bible to her, if that book had not been written by a woman, "for," she continued, "it contains so many kind things about us; our Shastras say nothing of us but what is hard and cruel."
Time forbids my dwelling at length on what Christ has done for children and for home, but I

Christ and the children.

must compare the advice of the two kindest and most enlightened heathens, with the words of Jesus. "Plato not only required that deformed and ailing children should be exposed in secret places; but

* Gal. iii. 28.

Eph. v. 25.

page 19 thought it inadvisable to bring up the children of parents belonging to the lower classes of the republic, and Aristotle agreed with him."* But Jesus "took the little children up in his arms, put his hands upon them, and blessed them," and said: "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones, for I say unto you that their angels do always behold the face of my Father, which is in Heaven."

This, then, is the Secular teaching of Jesus on the value of human life: but his Theological (to use an objectionable term for want of a better) teaching crowns us with glory and honour. Some of you, I know, repudiate such teaching as worthless: but with this you will surely agree, that whether true or false, its whole tendency is our exaltation.

Christ's Incarnation. God had already honoured

The whole Gospel tends to our exaltation.

man by making him in His own image: but how greatly was that honour increased when He who was in the form of God and counted it not a prize to he on an equality with God was made in the likeness of men!§
Christ's Atonement. If I should walk unexpectedly into your drawing-room one morning and find you on your hands and knees carefully gathering up the thousand fragments of a shattered vase for the purpose of making an effort for its restoration, I should conclude that that vase was very precious to you: that it was no twopenny article you had recently bought: but was invaluable, either for hallowed memories or its intrinsic worth. May I

* Social results of Christianity, p. 29.

Mark x. 16.

Matt. xviii. 10.

§ Phil. ii. 8.

page 20 say, without blasphemy, that such an honour God gives us in the Atonement? God looked down from Heaven upon the children of men to see if there were any that did understand, and seek after God. Every one of them had gone back; they had altogether become filthy; there was none that did good, no, not one.* The human race, like the beautiful vase, was shattered. Let the Omnipotent Creator sweep, by a word, the fragments away! He might have done: but, in the fulness of time God sent forth His Son, who made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross, that He by the grace of God, should taste death for every man." However you may view the mysterious wonder of the Atonement, it certainly is incomparable in its grandeur of testimony to the value of mankind.
Our Future. Christ taught the immortality of man: that death was but a sleep, or rather a transition; and righteous men shall go away into eternal life; even their bodies shall be ransomed from the power of the grave, and shall be conformed to the body of his glory; and to all men, both small and great, shall justice, hero so often denied, be at last meted out. What better view of life, what higher value than this, does Secularism give? Ask its apostles if there be a Divine Father, and

* Ps liii. 2.

Gal. iii. 4; Phil. ii. 7; Heb. iii. 9.

page 21 they say "No!" "Whither am I going?" and they are dumb. "Whence came I?" and they are bewildered. They have much good teaching concerning

Secularists declare that Christianity is inimical to the present life.

the rights of men, the sphere of reason, and the necessity of justice and kindness to all. But where did they get it? I challenge them to produce a single original utterance which has enlightened society. For all their light they are absolutely indebted to Christianity, as the moon is to the sun. Yet these are the men, forsooth, who preach that the first step towards the progress of humanity is the destruction of Christianity. If you read No. 1 of the Secular Tracts you will see how strongly they preach this. They are united as one man only on this, point—"Christianity must perish—it has spoiled, it is spoiling still, what otherwise would be a happy existence." Some few months ago, on the railway, I had a long conversation with a well-known Secularist of this district, a gentleman above the average in intelligence, and of kindly disposition. He was repeating the usual condemnation of Christianity, when I replied—

"Why, what evil hath it done?"

"Much, everyway, he answered," but specially in its fatal teaching that men must despise this present life in order to inherit a better, after death."

"And where does it teach that?"

He repeated: "Take no thought for this life, what you shall eat and wear, and so forth; but set your affections on things above and lay up treasure in Heaven."

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"And what is treasure in Heaven?"

"Well,—saying prayers, and going to church, and getting ready to die, and all that sort of thing."

I said, "My friend, your quotation of Scripture is fairly accurate, but you are quite at sea as to its meaning. Jesus, who bade men lay up treasure in Heaven, told us most clearly what that treasure was when he said that even a cup of cold water given in a right spirit to the thirsty, was a deed which was valued in Heaven. He told us what He meant when in his picture of the last day the Judge rewarded the unselfish, and condemned those who had selfishly neglected the needy. We need have no doubt as to the meaning of the "Kingdom of Heaven" when we read—" Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God.* The Kingdom of Heaven in which Jesus bids men store up their wealth is here and now: and the wealth he bids them accumulate, because of its abiding worth, is Character. His words, in their strong Eastern expression, simply mean, "Let every man make his moral being his prime care, and all other things necessary will necessarily come. And, Sir, is not that teaching of Jesus the very thing that the world requires to put it right, and the only thing capable of putting it right? If every man, every rich man, every poor man, following the

* I. Cor. vi. 9.

page 23 teaching of Jesus, thought most and chiefly of righteousness, as a matter of course, every social evil would vanish away. And until they do this, all our efforts to improve the world are merely applications of ointment to the eruptions on the skin, while the disease rages unchecked in the blood. Hence, even Matthew Arnold was constrained to say: "Christianity is the greatest and happiest stroke ever yet made for human perfection."*
Yet Secularists unblushingly aver that Christianity is a hindrance to human progress and happiness: that the belief in immortality, and the general teaching of Jesus are inimical to our earthly interests: their whole literature declares it, and a lecturer has come to our little town for the specific purpose of delivering men from its baneful influence. I do heartily wish that these good men would be more specific in their teaching, and let us know how, and in what department, our cherished religion causes us to suffer. For, having searched, in all honesty, every department of life, I have failed to find the slightest vestige of evidence, justifying this libel, beyond the abuses of fanatics and hypocrites, for which Christianity is as much responsible as is the sun for the evil deeds done in its light. Will you Secularists tell me where to look that I may find one man, living or dead, who would have been a bettor man had he not been a follower of Jesus Christ? For I have looked into the annals of war and found that vital Christianity did not shrivel up

* Literature and Dogma, p 81.

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A cloud of witnesses.

the patriotic heart, nor wither the daring courage of Chinese Gordon, Hedley Tickers, Colonel Gardiner, General Havelock, Lord Lawrence, John


Hampden, Oliver Cromwell, and George Washing-ton, to which last Frederick the Great sent a sword, with the graceful inscription, "From the oldest soldier, to the greatest."


Joan of Arc, William of Orange, Kosciusko, and Garabaldi, declare that the love of Christ does not kill the love of fatherland.


Christopher Columbus, Mungo Park, Dr. Moffatt, Dr. Livingstone, and Henry Stanley loved their arduous toil of opening up unknown and unfriendly lands to civilization, and loved their Saviour too.


If I turn to Science, are Huxley and Tyndall the only men of prominence? Has belief in the Kingdom of Christ, and delight in Christ's service blunted the intellect of Sir William Dawson, Dr. Wallace, Dr. Dallinger, Michael Faraday, Joseph Priestley, and the father of them all, Sir Isaac Newton?
Was the administration of British affairs under Wm. Pitt, Sir Robert Peel, or Lord Palmerston such


as to make Englishmen blush? Or, has American progress been retarded because Americans placed at their head Abraham Lincoln, and General Garfield?
The roofs and windows of Christian Cathedrals, and our Sacred Oratorios prove that the Messiah has


not robbed deft fingers of their skill, nor silenced music in the human heart.

And what shall I say of Philanthropy? Merely page 25 this:—that if you take away the names of the Christian philanthropists, if you leave out the names of Mrs. Josephine Butler, Sister Dora, Florence Nightingale, Mrs. Fry, and all the noble women that they have inspired: if you drop the names of Samuel Plimsoll, General Booth, Father Damien, Bishop Patterson, Lord Shaftesbury, Wm. Wilberforce, John Howard, John Wesley, Martin Luther, St. Vincent de Paul, and all their brethren and asters who, in every century have laboured under the inspiration of Him who was the author of the parable of the Good Samaritan, you will find it a difficult task, even to fill a leaflet with a description of the philathropists that remain.

Are you still unconvinced? Then suffer mo to suggest another proof. Select from among the living any ten average Secularists, and any ten average Christians you please; and compare their lives in honesty, in sobriety, in purity, in cheerfulness of disposition, in contentment, in the beauty of home life, and in the integrity of business and civic life, and I shall be happy to publish the result.