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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

The Church and Labour

The Church and Labour.

Any antagonism between the Church and the labour movement must arise either (1) on account of the Church's [unclear: departure] from the Christianity of Christ, [unclear: or] (2) on account of labour's departure [unclear: from] the principles of justice and brother-[unclear: hood]. I am of opinion that both causes [unclear: are] at work. Some labour men can be [unclear: found] who prate about justice and brotherhood, and who in the same breath advocate proposals at once unjust, unbrotherly, and anti-social. At the same [unclear: time] there, are [unclear: many] working men with [unclear: a] passion for justice and brotherhood [unclear: who] believe that the Churches are acquitting in the present social order which [unclear: they] know is unjust to them and to their [unclear: fellow]-workers. It is this latter class [unclear: that] I should like to see convinced that [unclear: the] Church is in full sympathy with the [unclear: just] claims of labour, and that Church [unclear: members] are willing to assist in securing [unclear: such] reforms as will bring about the establishment of social justice. On the [unclear: other] hand, I am convinced that the [unclear: Church] has largely departed from the Christianity of Christ. The craven fear [unclear: of] trenching on the political field has [unclear: paralysed] its power. Take the protection [unclear: fallacy] to which 1 have already referred, [unclear: Is] there a Christian minister, who has [unclear: given] any study to the subject, who be[unclear: lieves] that the policy of discouraging the trading of the people of one country with [unclear: the] people of any other country by moans [unclear: of] restrictive tariffs is in accordance with [unclear: the] will of God or the teaching of Scrip-[unclear: ture] or that it can in any way minister [unclear: to] the welfare of a people? I do not be[unclear: lieve] that any considerable number of such ministers could be found, and yet I never hear of any minister, either in public or private, contending for the freedom of man in the matter of trade.

The witness which the followers of Jesus Christ were to bear was of a three-fold nature, viz., "The Prophetic Witness," "The Healing Witness," and the "Witness of Salvation." The first witness represented by the prophet or preacher; the second witness represented by the priest, or minister, or healer; the third witness represented by King, Lord, or Saviour. The "Prophetic Witness" involved (1) a religious interpretation of history, (2) an unsparing condemnation of contemporary evil, (3) the building up of the Church as a Christian Brotherhood emblematic of the universal brotherhood of man involved in the Fatherhood of of God. The "Healing Witness" involved ministration to the sick and sorrowful of mind and body. That duty is now left mainly to the doctors and faith-healers. The "Witness to Salvation" involved the bringing of the penitent to the Cross, where forgiveness of sin was to be obtained. What a contrast between the present and the time when Jesus walked the earth! In the time of Christ and His immediate disciples the one great blasphemy was the claim that Jesus had power to forgive all sin and to cleanse from its power. To-day the forgiveness of sin is accepted by all the Churches as the supreme, if not the only, mission of the Christ. In the time of Christ the "Prophetic Witness" and the "Healing Witness" were universally admitted. To-day the prophet has almost dis-appeared from our Churches, and the healer is almost afraid to reveal himself.