1 Corinthians 12:20-25
But now are they many members, yet but one body.…
So thoroughly is society balanced, that if you harm one part you harm all. The man who lives in a mansion and the man who breaks cobble stones affect each other's misfortune or prosperity. Dives cannot kick Lazarus without hurting his own foot. They who throw Shadrach into the furnace get their own faces scorched. What if the eye should say, "I am overseer of this physical anatomy; I despise those miserable fingers!" What if the hand should say, "I am a first-class workman; if there is anything I hate it is the eye, which does nothing but look!" Oh, silly eye! how soon you would die if you had not the hand to support and defend you! Oh, silly hand, you would be a mere fumbler in the darkness if it were not for the eye. Relief will come to the working classes of this country through —
I. A BETTER UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN CAPITAL AND LABOUR. Their interests are identical; what helps one helps both; what injures one injures both. Show me any point in the world's history where capital was prospered and labour oppressed, or where labour was prospered and capital oppressed. Show me any point in the last fifty years where capital was getting large accumulation, and I will show you the point at which labour was getting large wages. Show me a time when labour was getting large wages, and I will show you the point where capital was getting large profits. Every speech that capital makes against labour or that labour makes against capital is an adjournment of our national prosperity. When capital maligns labour it is the eye cursing the hand. When labour maligns capital, it is the hand cursing the eye. The distance between capital and labour is only a step, and the labourers there will cross over and become capitalists, and the capitalists will cross over and become labourers. Would to God they would shake hands while they are crossing. The combatants in the great war are chiefly men who have never been obliged to toil, and men who could get labour but will not have it. I want it understood that the labourers are the highest style of capitalists. Their investment is their muscles, nerves, bones, skill, health.
II. CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION. That plan by which labourers become their own capitalists. Thomas Brassey declared, "Co-operation is the one and only solution of the labour question; it is the sole path, by which the labouring classes, as a whole, will ever get their share in the rewards and honours of our advanced civilisation." Thomas Hughes, Lord Derby, John Stuart Mill, men who gave half their lifetime to the study of this question, all favour co-operative association. Our working people will he wiser after a while, and the money they fling away on hurtful indulgences they will put into co-operative associations, and they will become capitalists.
III. MORE PROVIDENCE AND FORECAST. "Oh," you say, "you ought not to talk that way in the hard times." I tell you hard times are not always to stay. I know working men who are in a perfect fidget till they have got rid of their last dollar. A young man worked hard to earn his six or seven hundred dollars yearly. Marriage day came. The bride had inherited five hundred dollars, and spent every dollar on the wedding dress. Then the young man took extra evening employment, which almost extinguished his eyesight! Why? To lay up something for a rainy day? No; that he might get a hundred and fifty dollars to get his wife a sealskin mantle. A minister told me, in Iowa, that his church and the neighbourhood had been impoverished by the fact that they put mortgages on their farms in order to send their families to the Philadelphia Centennial. It was not respectable not to go to the Centennial. Now, between such fools and pauperism there is a very short step. Easy and hard times change. In times of peace prepare for war. I have no sympathy for skinflint saving, but I plead for Christian providence. Some people think it is mean to turn the gas low when they go out of the parlour. Saving is mean or magnificent according as it is for yourself or for others.
IV. MORE THOROUGH DISCOVERY ON THE PART OF EMPLOYERS THAT IT IS BEST FOR THEM TO LET THEIR EMPLOYEES KNOW JUST HOW MATTERS STAND. I knew a manufacturer who employed more than a thousand hands. I said to him, "Do you ever have any trouble with your workmen? Do you have any strikes?" "No. Every little while I call my employes together, and I say, 'What you turned out this year isn't as much as we got last year. I can't afford to pay you as much as I did. Now, you know I put all my means into this business. What do you think ought to be my percentage, and what wages ought I to pay you? Come, let us settle this.' And we are always unanimous. When we suffer, we all suffer together. When we advance, we all advance together, and my men would die for me." But when a man goes among his employes with a supercilious air, and drives up to his factory as though he were the autocrat of the universe, he will have strikes, and will see at the end that he has made an awful mistake.
V. THE RELIGIOUS RECTIFICATION OF THE COUNTRY. Labour is appreciated and rewarded just in proportion as a country is Christianised. Why is our smallest coin a Benny, while in China it takes six or a dozen pieces to make one penny? Show me a community that is infidel, and I will show you a community where wages are small. Show me a community that is thoroughly Christianised, and I will show you a community where wages are comparatively large. Our religion is a democratic religion. It makes the owner of the mill understand he is a brother to all the operatives in that mill. I do not care how much money you have, you have not enough money to buy your way through the gate to heaven. I do not care how poor you are, if you have the grace of God in your heart no one can keep you out. The religion of Christ came to rectify all the wrongs of the world, and it will yet settle this question between labour and capital. The hard hand of the wheel and the soft hand of the counting.room will clasp each ether in congratulation yet. The hard hand will say, "I ploughed the desert into a garden"; the soft hand will reply, "I furnished the seed." the one hand will say, "I thrashed the mountains"; the other will say, "I paid for the flail." The one hand will say, "I hammered the spear into a pruning-hook"; the other hand will answer, "I signed the treaty of peace that made that possible." Then capital and labour will lie down together, and there will be nothing to hurt or destroy in all God's holy mount, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it!
(T. De Witt Talmage, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But now are they many members, yet but one body.