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All Normal People Desire Continued Existense


In conclusion, then, let us take note of a few facts. All normally constituted people wish to continue to live beyond the incident of death. It was this great faith which more than anything else or all other things combined gave the young Christianity its power of conquest over the Roman world. But the happenings which made the early Christians feel sure took place a good many years ago. The witnesses for them are now not accessible. We have not the first-hand testimony of a single eye-witness to any of them. The modern spirit of inquiry has raised the spirit of doubt in thousands of minds. The world would like, and the world needs, a reinforcement of its trust in this direction, if it may be legitimately ob tained. The great representatives of the Christian faith are constantly lamenting that our modern civilisation is in danger of being submerged beneath the floods of dark materialism. In our great cities the possession of wealth appears to be the chief object sought by the majority of human beings. The churches lament that the methods by which a man becomes wealthy are easily forgotten, and that the simple fact of wealth assures a man high position in society, and a preponderating influence even in the church itself. On the other hand, the great mass of the world's labourers are restless, and the foundations of our social and industrial order seem to be threatened by the up heaval of this wide-spread discontent. The socialists in Europe are openly say ing: "It used to be the church and the nobility; now it is the church and the bourgeois. They have been telling us from time immemorial that we ought to be contented in the position in which Providence has placed us, and look for our reward in another world. We no longer believe in any other world, and we propose to have our share of the good things in this. If we cannot get them by peaceful means, we propose to get them anyhow." And, after all, can any serious thinker very much blame them? If this world really is only a cosmic dog-kennel, whose roof is the overarching blue, and if, when we get through here, that is the end of us, why should one fortunate ani mal sit beside a huge pile of very attractive bones a thousand times more than he him self can devour, and, like the dog in the manger, spend his life in keeping them from being devoured by anybody else? If the time ever comes when the belief in another life has entirely faded out, then our present slowly progressive order of affairs will experience such earthquakes as the past has never known. I believe

that a real working conviction that man is a soul and has a body, and that Browning's saying is true that the only matter of im portance is"the development of a soul,"is more important for the welfare of the world than all our development of wealth, all our inventions, all our discoveries, all our enormous advance of knowledge in any other direction. Buckle, the author of The History of Civilisation, immortality be not true, it matters little whether anything else be true or not." This conviction would put meaning into the life of the rich man and make him feel that the real thing to live for is the de velopment of the character of men and helping them to find and live out their true selves. On the other hand it would be an unspeakable boon to the poor. It would not make them contented to go without the means of decent living, of culture, and of self-development; but it would help them to know that the real man is something more than the means of living. It would make them know that the best things of the world are no mo nopoly of the rich or favoured class. It would make them know that he who is true to himself and to his high ideals is living the only successful life. It would make them know that this world is only a primary school. It would help them to remember that the important thing is not a cushioned seat in the schoolhouse, nor velvet-covered text-books, nor rich stuffs for clothing. They would understand that the only important thing is to get one's lessons well and be ready to gradu ate. It seems to me, then, that I say well that a new, a great, a working conviction in this direction, as revealing to man his essential self, is the most important object of knowledge for the modern world.

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