The final sentence: "The law of gravitation is not more clearly demonstrable than the law of taxation which Henry George, the Newton of Political Science, has revealed to the world."
Another from The American Cooperator (1903):
A Work for the Church
Rev. Herbert S. Bigelow
Ask the average church-member what is the mission of the church? He has a readymade phrase for you. He says it is to "save souls." In the theological seminaries young men are taught that to he good preachers, they must have a "passion for souls." A certain missionary society of a church in this city reported at the end of the year, "Two souls saved and one sanctified."
Is it the paramount duty of the church to save souls? That depends on what is meant by the phrase. Save them from what? From hell, of course. Is it the mission of the church to save souls from hell? That depends upon the location of hell. Do you mean by hell some place of torment in the next world or do you mean the torment of body, mind and soul that is produced in this world, by greed of gain, and slavish prejudice, and bigotry and hate, by oppressive monopolies, and corrupting power, and bitter poverty?
I take no stock in your God-made hell, but I know there is a hell on earth which man has made. Here on this earth I have witnessed the torture of the damned. Let us storm one hell at a time and the nearest one first.
But there are many church members who do not know what we mean by a hell on earth. They are able to go to the sea-shore in the heat of summer. They can go to Florida or California and eat strawberries in winter.
They seldom come in contact with poverty. From the very air they breathe, they have imbibed the prejudice that poverty is mostly a result of depravity; that for the "deserving poor," there is no help but charity; that the masses who toil are by nature unfit for a happier lot; that the man who imposes an extra tax of two cents a gallon on oil and contributes a million to a university is a paragon of virtue, and the institutions which make it possible for him to do this are ordained of God.
One of these more comfortable churchmembers visited recently in Cincinnati. She heard men in the street crying "Coal, coal!" She asked what it was they were selling. When told, she expressed amazement that the people of Cincinnati did not buy their coal in the ton. She declared she had never heard of such a thing. Indeed she was certain that in Cleveland where she lived, there was no coal sold by the bushel. This woman is typical of her class. Within a narrow sphere, she is generous to a fault. There is no question about the genuineness of her piety. She will shed sincere tears over the tragic sufferings of the Nazarene, and contribute for the preaching of the gospel in foreign parts, but of the appalling misery in her own city and of its cause, she is as grossly ignorant as the Australian Bushman is of the doctrine of salvation by grace.
The duty of the church to save souls? Yes, it is the duty of the church to save the souls of men and women from that ignorance and indifference which makes them oblivions of the sufferings of their fellowmen.
In every great city you will find a little group of earnest men and women who are trying to bring to the notice of the public, the desperate conditions under which their brothers and sisters live and to show the economic cause of this destitution and its remedy. And while such bands are few and weak, you will find scattered here and there and everywhere thru the city, churches, often costly edifices, religious organizations, representing a vast expenditure of wealth and energy. All the reformers in the city could not contribute for their work what is paid in a year to one of these clergymen. Fancy how things would begin to move if this tremendous energy were directed toward the solution of the problem of poverty! If all this thought and sentiment and power of wealth were only hitched to this car of progress, how the wheels would start out of the mud!
Jonathan Edwards used to say to his audience: ''The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire. . . . It would be a wonder if some who are now present should not be in hell in a very short time . . . There is reason to think that there are many in this congregation, now hearing this discourse, that will actually be the subjects of this very misery to all eternity."
As long as men believed in that sort of a God, they naturally expected the church to help them flee from the wrath to come. But from the various sources of modern thought has come a better thought of God. He is still the Creator but he is not the bungler. He made a good world. This world is "lapt in universal law." In his benevolence, the Creator contrived these laws so that in the keeping of them, men should find great reward. Hell on earth-is due to the breaking of these laws. To learn to obey them, is to find heaven here.
To teach men these laws is the mission of the church. There is no law of the Decalogue which is more self-evident than the law that the land is the inheritance of all and its monopoly by the few a crime against the many. The law of gravitation is not more clearly demonstrable than the law of taxation which Henry George, the Newton of Political Science, has revealed to the world.