we will believe," it is not very strictly theological to speak of believing that we have "somehow become demoralized." There is no "somehow," so far as we understand, in the orthodox view of this question, but a very definite "how." It is again very doubtful to our mind whether it is consistent with a profession of evolutionism to hold that the nature of man was originally pure and that "somehow" it degenerated. The course of evolution in the moral sphere is from actions guided by lower impulses to actions guided by higher impulses, from purely self-regarding actions to actions in which the welfare of others in ever-widening circles is taken into account. It is hard to imagine an evolution from a higher to a lower moral state.
There is a story told of John Wesley that a certain man who had come under his influence consulted him one day as to whether he might continue to wear a very handsome and expensive coat which he had bought. "Oh, yes," said Wesley, "just wear it as long as you can—as long as your conscience will allow you." More than this the great religious reformer would not say. Science has a very similar answer to give to certain inquirers: they are quite free to hold this or that opinion as long as they can—honestly. So long as they hold it honestly, Science has no fault to find with them. When the day comes, if it ever comes, that they can hold it honestly no longer, Science says, "Put it off." And any religion worthy of the name would say the same thing.
There is much in the present condition of society, not only in this country but in most of the civilized countries of the world, to give food for serious reflection as to the future to all thoughtful minds. The laws of social evolution, we commonly say, have brought us to the point where we now are; and, as this is a considerable improvement on the conditions which obtained at certain periods in the past, we have no reason whatever to be anxious as to what the future may bring forth. On the other hand, when things are demonstrably going wrong, it seems a little too much like indifference and levity to trust to the operation of some law wholly independent of our own volition or effort to put them right. Evolution, after all, is only a kind of moving balance of actions and reactions: and we do not think that Mr. Spencer himself would undertake to guarantee us against many a bad half hour in the future, if we do not ourselves see that measures are taken to remedy obvious faults in the social development of our time. One of his books, every one will remember, is entitled The Coming Slavery—not a word of promise, to say the least of it.
The difficulties of the present time are, to a large extent, the result of the very successes which society has achieved in the past. Improved economic conditions have produced vaster accumulations of wealth than the world ever saw before, and in doing so have brought the spectacle of luxury before the eyes of the multitude in a manner, and with a frequency, only too well fitted to produce envy and unrest. In former times there were a comparatively few great ones of the earth whose splendor was a dazzling vision that, seen at comparatively rare intervals, lent a certain amount of poetry to the lives of the poorer classes. To-day there is no poetry in wealth: it is something that everybody understands, and from which no one, broadly speaking, feels content to be shut out. It is looked upon as the