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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/251

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giving promise of a gradual declension of the functions of the central power before the more precise and equitable supervision of society constituted of individuals imbued with ever-present aspirations for justice and advancement. Already this day of a new excellence has dawned, and there are not a few indications that new crystallizations of social forces are destined to supervene. The liberation of woman from her ancient servitude and her rapid advance to every privilege for which her powers adapt her, the emancipation of children from the severe domestic tyrannies and cruelties to which they were time out of mind subjected, are striking evidences of the ameliorations due to general moral advance. Like the animal organism the social organism responds throughout its whole substance to any force brought to bear upon it, and the influence of scientific methods of thought is destined to exert upon society augmenting influences of the most pervading and salutary kinds. Truth and morality are inextricably intermingled, and whatever aids in the discovery of truth is a potential moral adjuvant. As, in Scripture, condemnation and the belief in lies are everywhere conjoined, so moral advance is ever assured by devices that accomplish the enlargement of the realm of truth. To carp at scientific methods is to carp at truth, for scientific methods are only severe procedures for the discovery of truth; and there is, to my mind, little doubt that in no great while the much-desired reconciliation of natural with revealed truth will be successfully achieved. I find in late utterances of scientific men of the highest stamp much that is in conformity with some of the prevalent teachings of religion. Herbert Spencer is unquestionably the most perfect embodiment of advanced scientific thought. While in special departments there are many that go before him, in the power of co-ordinating the various sciences and embodying their myriad diverse facts into a consistent body of philosophy he goes far before all his contemporaries. His writings, indeed, stand apart as a great mountain-range looming far above the lesser heights. It would be easy, from Mr. Spencer's writings, to accumulate declarations that have wondrous congruity with orthodox-doctrine. The worship of humanity, Mr. Spencer declares, can never take the place of the worship of God. He also affirms, with all our orthodox creeds, that precepts of right living do little or no good unless the corresponding emotion can in some way be roused. His standard of right conduct, scientifically deduced, is a perfect law of righteousness which may not be debased below the mark of perfection, however unable men and women may be to fulfill its requirements.

In every aspect, therefore, the prospect of human advancement is very cheering. Individually and collectively man is so steadily progressing to the achievement of the great problem of his life—perfect conformity to the conditions of his being—that no mad enthusiasm is needful to prompt the anticipation of a rapid advance to that condition