The First German Evangelical Lutheran Congregation, U.A.C.
St. Louis, Missouri
A STENOGRAPHIC REPORT OF FOUR LECTURES
DELIVERED, AND BY RESOLUTION OF THE CONGREGATION,
FIRST PUBLISHED BY
PROFESSOR C.F.W. WALTHER, D. D.
Translated from the German by Rev. D. Simon and published in
1879 by Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis Missouri.
(from the 1947 reprint by The Lutheran Research Society)
O God, Thou has created man, originally good and happy, and placed him in a beautiful Paradise, that this might be his home. But alas! man has fallen from Thee, and because of this fall, has become a poor, wretched creature, and his life on earth has become a life of toil and trouble.
But instead of accusing himself and pleading for Thy mercy, man accuses Thee, denies the providence and government of Thy mercy, and flees from Thee in despair, or gives expression, in his heart, to the fearful words: “There is no God.”
In mercy keep us from such great blindness and sin, and enlighten our understanding, that, midst the troubles of earth, we may with deep humility, acknowledge the result of our apostasy, and govern Thou our hearts that we may not contend with Thee, our merciful Creator, but humble ourselves, in the midst of our toil and trouble, under Thy almighty hand, patiently await Thy help, and comfort ourselves with the fact, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in Thy children in the world to come.
Have mercy on the entire human race in their affliction, draw them by Thy Word to Thee, and help them out of every bodily and spiritual trouble, and open to them at last the eternal kingdom of Thy joy and glory. Yea, do this for the sake of Jesus Christ, the common Savior of the world. Amen.
As is known to the congregation, the occasion of this meeting is twofold. The first is the appearance of a daily paper here in St. Louis, which would pretend to be the organ of the laborers, in consequence of which, many, particularly younger members of our congregation, have also made it their paper. The second occasion is the formation of the so-called Labor-Unions, which are to represent the interests of the laborers over against the employers.
If that paper were in reality the organ of the laborers, which would represent the interests of the laboring class in a legitimate manner, who could find fault, if any laborer would select it as his paper and would even prefer it above other secular papers? And if the Labor-Unions were no more than were the Fraternities, Guilds, Tradesmen’s-Unions and Clubs of Germany, who could make it a matter of conscience to join one of them? Does not even the Apostle Paul expressly declare, that if Christians would no longer unite themselves with the children of the world, no not even in civil and business affairs, they would be necessitated to leave the world? But alas! The state of affairs, is entirely different here. The said paper is not, for example, by any means an organ intended for the laborers alone, but it has for its aim the propagation of the modern communistic ideas, peaceably if possible, or forcibly, and that by fire and sword, if necessary. It is only too well known that the Labor-Unions have been conceived and called into existence by the Communists and Socialists, and are intended by them to be nothing else than schools of communism and socialism.
That no one might think these declarations unfounded, I have secured several copies of this paper, called Volksstimme des Westens (“The voice of the people of the West”), without, however, inquiring which number might give the best idea of its character. I have nevertheless secured copies which show its character plainly. In the number dated Dec. 24, 1877, there is a continuation of a novel, written by the editor of the paper, Dr. A. Otto-Walster, in which we read, among other things, the following:
- It shall be our chief concern to show, that man, with his claims on material prosperity, need not be directed to another world, that he can and should find such prosperity here on earth, and would in this connection call attention to the verses in Heine’s, Wintermaerchen:
A song that’s new and truthful too,
Dear friends, I will indite for you—
A song of heaven here on earth,
Claimed by right of human birth.
We would be happy here below,
Nor longer suffer want and woe!
The lazy belly shall not spoil
What faithful hands have won by toil.
On earth there grows enough of bread;
For all mankind the table’s spread
Where rose and myrtle spring to please,
Why see, there too grow sugar peas.
Aye, sugar peas for best and worst,
As soon the pregnant pods may burst;
Celestial joys we leave indeed .
To angels and the sparrow breed.
(Translated by Rev. C. T. Steck )
But observe another proof that this paper is of a communistic character. Had I taken the pains to examine the whole volume, I could no doubt have produced many more proofs, but these few will serve our purpose well. This is what is said in the number dated Dec. 15:
- Fire, water, air and earth are the four so-called elements of nature, of which Divinity gave one man as much as the other. Who will, who can deny it? You therefore see, worthy Dr. (it is an article against a certain Dr. Holland) that this communism, recommended by our “Lord Jesus Christ” to his pupils and followers, has been in existence since the creation of world and of man.
It is worthy of note, that the terms Christ, and God, the Father, are given in quotations. By this the writer would give his opponent to understand: “I am now speaking with your understanding; of course I don’t believe in a Christ, neither do I believe in a God, the Father. But I am going to fight for once with your own weapons. You profess to yield submission to the written Word, as you term it. Very well, I will convict you from your own Word of God, and show you, that, if you would be a faithful adherent to the Bible, you must also become a communist.” This is what he means to say. —He continues: “This is God’s command and Christ’s doctrine.” Again:
- The laboring men of America do not intend to cast themselves under the wheels of a so-called civilization, which is nothing but barbarism, to be crushed to death, and to see their children condemned to eternal poverty and eternal misery, so that a few fortunate ones may continue in their idleness and wealth. They will no longer kiss the hand that strikes the blow. They will cease to hug the chains with which they are fettered. They will rise up, they are rising up already, in the glory of their power and manhood, to crush to atoms this foul and hideous monster, to assert their liberty like men, and thus to become free and happy.
As pertains to the working-men's party, of which every labor-union is a part, we find their program in the number for Nov. 30. In this program, we read in the very beginning:
- As civil liberty, without economical independence, is a mere form of speech, the party begins its struggles within the sphere of economy, and demands that all material for labor become the property of the society, so that instead of paying wages, the income of the society, as the joint fruits of labor, may be justly divided among the members.
“No one shall own any real-estate, but this shall be common property, and shall be managed only by certain persons,” although the various propositions pertaining to this matter differ widely, as we shall presently see. It is then further said: “machinery, ways of transfer, etc.” It is left to the reader to supply anything he pleases under the “etc.” This embraces a great deal. The brethren who enter these labor-unions little anticipate what is implied in this “etc.” Neither do they anticipate what is implied in the idea, that no one shall own any real-estate. They do not consider, either, what fearful overthrow of the order of things it would involve to realize this. They also demand: “The introduction of the eight hour law and the punishment of all who transgress it.” Let every Christian reader decide for himself whether a Christian can enter into such a labor-union. I am of the opinion that he cannot, without violating conscience. He cannot become a member of an association, which has in view, the overthrow of the world, either peaceably if possible, or forcibly if necessary.
It is of importance, however, what Mr. Walster himself discloses in his paper, dated Nov. 30, 1877, concerning the condition of the labor-unions in America. He was assailed by the editor of a Milwaukee paper, the Milwaukee Socialist. He shall, says the Milwaukee editor, confine himself to the field of politics, for here alone can the laboring-man finally gain his liberty. Only get the government into your hands once, and you can readily change all the present relations. The establishment of labor-unions can only detain a good cause. Before a change could be effected in this way, the laboring-men would die of starvation.
To this Mr. Walster answers: “We do certainly not belong to those, who, in their one-sided agitation, would solve the social question by means of corporations (labor-unions), and yet we must unreservedly acknowledge the value of these corporations, in that by their means the socialistic propaganda (principles) are agitated and made known.”
He means to say, that he does not expect much to be accomplished by means of these labor-unions in the near future; he knows how weak they are, even when in the most prosperous condition. But it must be remembered that these unions are only instruments in the hands of socialists and communists, in fact, a school of the socialists. The ignorant are to be drummed together and organized into labor-unions, that in these unions the seed of socialism and communism may be sown, and when the seed has come to maturity, there will be enough muscle to accomplish the desired end by force, if the desired end cannot be attained peaceably. For it is even true, that there is a greater number of poor people, who must support themselves by manual labor, than of those who live from their capital, be it from the interest of the capital or from speculations made with the capital in certain enterprises into which they may have entered; and if the masses were once won over to the socialistic ideas, the communists would undoubtedly gain the day. Verily they could turn the world upside down, and drown all their opponents in their own blood. The idea is certainly not a stupid one. But whether it will be realized is another question. — He says further:
- There is, for example, here in St. Louis, one section of the cabinet-makers-union. It is composed of socialists and non-socialists. The socialists developed their propaganda in this section and succeeded in gaining a large majority for socialism; the consequence is, that in this section the socialistic question is discussed at every meeting whereby statistics are brought out and systematized greatly to the encouragement of our agitation.
Another testimony that the labor-unions are nothing else than the institutions of the communists; used for the accomplishment of their ends, is the following: The English communists cast lots for the benefit of the prisoners of New Caledonia, but not for the benefit of all the prisoners, but only for those who were transported there from France, because in the year 1871, they had committed those well-known, fearful communistic outrages. When the Prussians concluded peace at Paris, the entire French national guard was permitted to retain its fire-arms. This was done on the part of Germany because it was considered good policy, inasmuch as it was feared that a revolution would break out, since all kinds of people had gathered together in Paris. They had miscalculated. Nearly all these fire-arms got into the hands of the communists who made use of the power thus acquired in a frightful slaughter. They established a so-called Commune, and took possession of the city. At once they shot several of the generals, who had remained faithful to the government, shot the arch-bishop and other prelates and priests, erected barricades and from thence shot into the crowd standing on the opposite side, and declared, that if they would not gain the victory, they would level Paris with the ground. “War against the palaces” was their watchword. This was faithfully carried out. On March the fearful catastrophe began, and in May it ended. Blood had flown in streams and the most magnificent buildings lay in ashes. Woe to that city, if the Communists had gained the victory! And for those, who at that time committed those fearful outrages, there are now lots cast. Pertaining to this matter, and in its defense, our labor-unions and their branches are addressed in the following language;
- Laboring-men! The revolution of the 18th of March has been shamefully misrepresented by the Capitalists of both hemispheres. You are interested in this revolution: for the principles for which they fought, you have adopted into your platforms. Every one of you is responsible for them, and to deny them would be nothing less than betrayal. You are most intimately united with those who are suffering for the crime of losing the victory, in the struggle for rights which we ourselves demand.
These are the principles on which the international labor-union is founded. It is called international, because the members are to be gathered, not only from one nation, but from every nation on earth.
I now ask again, whether a Christian can connect himself with an association, of which he knows that it would carry out the principles just mentioned? It matters not, whether the laboring-man who enters into the association would carry them out or not – he belongs to the association which holds to this purpose. In Paris it was evident that many indeed had belonged to this association, who were merely interested in the society and little thought of being involved in a revolution; but when the fearful moment had come and all were drunk with excitement, there was no escape: whoever belonged to this society had to expect a bullet through his head or cooperate with them. And those who have been in these associations for many years, have not the Christian courage to say: “No, if such are your intentions, I can no longer go with you.” A great number have been drawn into the society, deny God and their Savior, and are on the way that leads to a fearful end, both in time and eternity.
So much to show the character of that paper and the socialistic labor-unions. But the question is of an altogether different character: What shall we say of Communism? i.e. the system according to which all goods shall be equally divided; or, What shall we say of Socialism? i.e. the system according to which no person shall own any property, but by united labor all becomes the property of the society? The former are more radical, the latter less, but as a matter of fact, the most radical are always victorious. This was the case in France. Those who began the agitation, had not intended to do what was afterwards done, but those much more radical than they over-powered them, brought them to the guillotine, until finally the most radical became leaders and ruled, until God brought it to an end. I have a few points noted down, which we will now consider, if the congregation will indulge me. This is the question:
TAKE PART IN THE EFFORTS OF COMMUNISTS AND SOCIALISTS?
- Because these efforts are contrary to reason, nature and experience for
- it is a fact that men are not equal;
- it is a fact that men are naturally selfish;
- it is a fact that happiness does not consist in external advantages:
- it is a fact well established by experience, that the communists have never attained their professed end, and only introduced sorrow and suffering.
- Because these efforts are contrary to Christianity, for
- What is adduced from the Scriptures in their favor, either proves nothing, or proves the contrary. It is urged:
- that according to the Holy Scriptures, God gave man the earth and all things in the earth for his possession [Ge. 1:27-28];
- that the first congregation at Jerusalem had a certain community of goods [Acts 2:44-47];
- that Christ did not only warn against striving after riches, but also commanded: “Sell that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me” Lu.18:22;
- that according to the teachings of Christ, the laborers in the vineyard should receive equal wages [Mt. 20:1-16].
- The efforts of the socialists and communists are in conflict with definite doctrines of Christianity, to wit:
- the doctrines of personal property, as involved in the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not steal” and taught elsewhere in Scripture;
- the doctrine taught in the fifth commandment and in other passages, that the government alone has the power of the sword;
- the doctrine of the sanctity of marriage, as set forth in the sixth commandment and elsewhere;
- the difference recognized in the Bible not only
- between parents and children, man and wife, master and servant, employer and employed, but also
- between rich and poor;
- the scriptural doctrine that God would use men’s adversities for their spiritual welfare;
- the scriptural doctrine that man shall eat his bread in the sweat of his face;
- the scriptural doctrine, that human happiness is not to be sought in this world, but in God and in the hope of a recompense and equalization in the world to come, and in the hope of eternal life; and finally
- the scriptural doctrine, that the source of all misery in this world, is sin.
- What is adduced from the Scriptures in their favor, either proves nothing, or proves the contrary. It is urged:
- Because the charges of communism against the Church and the Christian religion, that these rather hinder than promote the material welfare of man, are unfounded and unjust, to wit:
- the charge that the Church is in league with wealth, oppression and tyranny, and
- the charge that the Church is incapable of relieving human suffering.
We are opposed to the efforts of the socialists:
I. Because these efforts are contrary to reason, nature, and experience.
It is madness to think of accomplishing anything contrary to reason, nature, and experience. The heathen of old have already declared: “And if you would drive nature out of man with a pitchfork you will not accomplish it” (Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret. [Horat, Ep. 1, 10, 24.]). Nature cannot be driven out, she has, to a certain extent, become identic with us, i.e. we ourselves are our embodied nature.
1. It is a fact that men are not equal.
There are no two things on earth absolutely identical. Of course these communists do not believe in the existence of God; but by this they have not yet put Him out of the way. This great, almighty, omniscient God has shown that He creates nothing a second time. He has created no two things alike. There are no two leaves exactly alike; yea, not an atom can be found that would be exactly like another atom. Throughout the creation every thing differs from everything else. God is accordingly not an equalizer, but one who creates dissimilar things. Man cannot, to save his life, make two things equal. The principle that all things shall be made alike is not founded in nature. The same is evident in man. One man is a deep thinker, but has no wealth of ideas nor a prolific ingenuity; another is healthy and strong, another is an invalid; one man is particularly gifted for mental labor, another for mechanical labor; one has an inclination to this, another to something altogether different; one is naturally economical, another naturally extravagant; one is disposed to anger, another to calmness under all circumstances; one becomes angry only when put to the severest test, another burns with rage at the slightest provocation. These are only a few instances; but now consider what we ourselves have experienced with regard to the diversities of men. And to these instances can be added a great number in which the relations are of a most diversified character. It would therefore be altogether unnatural to place human society in such a condition that all would be equal.
The communists will not deny that if they would institute a communistic State, in whatever manner they might undertake to do it, they must so arrange matters that the society of man becomes an organized body. But in this there must be rulers and subjects. Therefore just as soon as they would realize their ideas, they must also begin with the extreme opposite, appoint rulers and declare to the others: “you must suffer yourselves to be governed by these.”
But the communists will perhaps object to this and say that we misunderstand them. “We would not have all men equal,” they say, “we only want equality in possessions, enjoyments, and the like. Otherwise we would leave man as he is.”
This objection is worthless. Equality in these things presupposes mental equality. For just as soon as there is no mental equality, the communists cannot establish an equality in possessions, much less in happiness. They would have equality in possessions that all may be equally happy; but in a humanity so diversified, happiness is produced in altogether different ways. One is made happy by this means, another by that. Many a one thinks: “it would be dreadful to be in this or that man’s place;” and another one thinks: “I would not be in your position.” I, for example, am happy to think that I am a theologian, another one thinks, it would be a dog-life to sit at these books from morning till evening, day after day. He would not spend his time in idleness, but this kind of work is not to his taste. There are indeed communists who say that when they shall have established such an order, they will ask each one with regard to his inclinations and talents. We would then say: “You shall do the tailoring for us all, you shall make the shoes, you shall carry on commerce, and the like.” But the very thought of realizing such ideas is ludicrous. Who would then say: “I will clean out the sewers!” Who would say: “I am especially inclined to this work!” It is likely that no one would be found for such work.
Again: here is a large hospital in a communistic state. For alas! the communists cannot make men equal in health. This they should be able to accomplish first of all, for it is an essential part of universal happiness, that one man have just as good health as another. Then imagine: Here is a hospital in which there are sick, suffering with the most loathsome diseases. Day and night there is a fearful stench. A single hour in this atmosphere may cause disease. The communistic ruler would then say: “Who is inclined to go to this place and take care of the sick?” The stillness of death would be the answer. Every one would say: “Why should it be in my place to go? There must be equality!” — and because of equality no one does anything. Is this not extreme folly? The paradise to be realized by having all things equal, looks very well on paper. This, then, the socialist, believes; but only so long as they do not take into consideration the relations which would be called into existence by carrying out their principles. Their ideas are mere phantoms.
Communism paints a picture of a fool’s paradise and thinks, if only all property becomes common property, then all will have equal claims upon it, and this will become a glorious world. But it is altogether overlooked that many things would be involved which would make this impossible. The communists would have all possessions equally divided. But if all have been made equal today by such division, how will it be tomorrow? One locks up his money in a drawer, another spends his for drink in a tavern and still another runs through his money at even worse places. By tomorrow the equality is again destroyed.
Infatuated communists! They well see that they are an unhappy people. They bitterly experience the wretchedness of the world and especially now in these perilous times. They experience this, but they do not consider the cause of all this. They have lost God and with Him, the noblest good; this is why they have no comfort. And now the world is to be improved, and that by means of an equalization; for they think, “there is certainly enough wealth in the world that everyone might enjoy as much as his heart desires.” But what folly! Even if everyone would agree to such arrangements, it is evident that they would soon become tired of being made equal with others.
2. It is a fact that men are naturally selfish.
The communists must admit that men will indeed never peaceably suffer themselves to be reduced to equality; they must be forced to it. But it would be contrary to their own principles, continually to force people to submit to these new arrangements. The paradise which they would establish, would then be a perfect hell; the social relations would become worse than ever. Man is selfish by nature. One whose heart has not been changed thinks of self first. Such a person will say: “'I' comes first, and then 'I' comes another time, and then my neighbor may have a bit of a chance.” Man’ s heart is naturally full of envy, ambition and avarice. These are all wild beasts which abide in the natural man, and which the communist will never be able to control with his new social arrangements. Men are not satisfied with just what they need and more than the necessities the socialists could never give. No, the majority of men want more; yes, they want a great deal, and the more they obtain the greater becomes their desire for riches. If one has gained a small amount of wealth, he is like the man who drinks the water of the sea, which never quenches his thirst, but increases it and makes it more scorching.
It is a truth which no one can deny, dreadful as it is, that man is naturally selfish, and a selfish person will not be made equal with others, unless those with whom he is to be made equal are by far his superiors. All those who are in favor of the new communist regulations for society, are in favor of them because they expect to have their conditions improved. After considering your own experience with men, ask yourself whether you believe that many would be found who would consent to the new regulation of things, if they knew that they would thereby reduce their present circumstances? No, with the exception of a few fanatics, only those would consent to such regulations who expected to improve their condition by doing so. This is the reason why the communists can attain their desired ends in no other way than by the shedding of blood, by murder and arson.
Whenever they have aimed to accomplish anything practical they have resorted to these means. The introducers of these ideas saw at once that there was no way of accomplishing their purpose except by striking off the heads of their opponents. However, this is evidently frenzy; for although they should strike off the heads of thousands, yes, of millions, new opponents to this system would continue to make their appearance. How much blood has been shed for this cause in France already during the first revolution in the last decade of the past century! Blood flowed in streams. The beginning was made with the king; he had to be beheaded, together with his wife and daughters. They next turned upon the bishops, the priests, the wealthy, and the most eminent ministers, who had formerly assisted in ruling the land. But what was accomplished? It matters not how much blood had been spilt, thousands and thousands of secret enemies were only waiting for their deliverance from this reign of terror. Is it not terrible, that those, who would make the entire world happy by the establishment of a paradise, must begin by shedding streams of blood? Everyone not of their opinion is put to death and frequently with the most terrible tortures!
It is absolutely true that men are naturally selfish, and this too shows the folly of attempting to help society by means of an external equalization. Help can be secured only by removing selfishness. Then it may be accomplished. But as long as man continues in his selfishness, it is the greatest folly imaginable, to attempt to make all men equal in wealth, equal in honor. —In France they even went so far as to say: “No one shall excel the other in education;” and to symbolize the idea that nothing but equality should be recognized, all the tall, slender trees had to be cut down. It was already determined, that the steeples should also be torn down. For doing this they might seem to have had some reason, inasmuch as the steeples pointed to heaven, of which they want to know nothing, for they would have their heaven here on earth.
Should a man, for example, have spent a great deal in learning his profession or trade, and then receive no more pay for his labor than one who can do no more than make use of his strong arms, he would very soon say: “I have no intention whatever of connecting myself with the communistic society.” The man who simply knows how to use his arms will, of course, say: “Yes, I would be made perfectly equal with the one who spent a number of years for the attainment of his proficiency in his profession or trade.” If all were true Christians, they would say: “I am not working for money at all, but because God has commanded it. My daily bread I expect to receive of God, since He has given me the promise, that if I labor faithfully, He will never leave me nor forsake me.” The true Christian alone is of this mind. The natural man thinks on the other hand: “Why shall I labor, when there is nothing gained by it?” How many merchants say: “Why shall I keep this or that article of goods for there is no profit in it.” Whether the goods are in demand or not, is not the question, because they are serving only themselves, —and thus we find it in every station of life. This is the selfish principle of the natural man as he is born into the world.
If, then, there is to be any help for the world, the people must become Christians, as said above. There is no other way. There are, however, many thousands of people who are called Christians, but who are not such. The communists see this and then exclaim: “What Christians? Why they are the greatest scoundrels on earth.” We must admit, that it is even so, that there are many scoundrels among those who bear the Christian name, who are not worthy of the name. But when we speak of Christians we do not mean those who simply have the name, but those who do not only believe in the Bible, but who, in their life, manifest and carry out the principles contained in the Bible. These alone are Christians, and if all were such Christians, we would have heaven on earth, and the cross, which we must expect, would be easy to bear. Of course no communist will believe this, because he does not know the meaning of the term Christian. He only sees the faults and sins of those who call themselves Christians and perhaps also attend church, and then exclaims: “What? Christianity shall improve the world? ! Are not the Christians worse than we?” And alas! We are forced to say: “O wretched communists! You are indeed fearfully offended, and woe unto him through whom this offense comes; for he hardens you and causes you to believe the more firmly that Christianity amounts to nothing. But it remains true after all, that men are naturally selfish, and they will remain selfish until they become true Christians; it is therefore madness to think of creating a world in which every one is satisfied to have no more than others.”
We must not imagine that many who are very wealthy would be satisfied in having no more than others. To illustrate, there is a man who is worth 10,000, 100,000, 500,000 or even 1,000,000 dollars. Would he accommodate himself to such a communistic society and become a member? The communist Fourier (died 1837) attempted to carry out his communism in France and even succeeded in gathering together here and there little communistic congregations which he called Phalansteres. There 1800 to 2000 persons lived together having all things in common. There were no rulers except the so-called distributors. For someone has to give the command: “So much belongs to you and so much to another; this is your work and that is his.” But alas! money was wanting. Fourier then published a request in the papers that some wealthy person should, out of love for mankind, contribute one million dollars for this purpose. He (Fourier) would go to a certain place every day, to see whether so kind a man would come. He went to the place every day for 12 years, but no one came. All his Phalansteres became bankrupt.
These communistic gentlemen, like Fourier, are either fanatics or swindlers. We will readily believe that the leaders are mostly fanatics, because, having nothing more to do with Christianity, they have asked themselves day after day: “What can we do to elevate the deeply fallen world to happiness again?” And they have devised this plan. But what can it accomplish? People are not made happy, but unhappy by this means; and as the communists continually call the attention of the people to the dreadful condition of the world, they also more firmly fix the idea in the minds of the people: “How wretched is the world! O how unhappy! we must take another course.” This is the poison with which the communists feed the people. This is the poison which is all the more dreadful in its effects, because we know that the condition of the world will remain the same. And if a thousand communistic papers would be published, they could not turn the world upside clown, they cannot change the condition of the world. What do they gain then? No more than this, that people feel that they are unhappy. If one who is poor thinks: “I am poor and cannot follow the pace set by the rich; yet I will not care, but be contented with my condition, if I can only make an honest living” —he is a happy man as poor as he may be.
3. It is a fact that happiness does not consist in external advantages.
Even the communist must acknowledge that outward equality would not by any means make all men happy, because the wants of the human heart are not alike. One person is happy only in this particular position; another only in that position. He who has not yet learned these imaginary wants, has his cup of coffee, bread and butter for breakfast; a common dinner in the presence of a faithful wife and obedient children; potato soup for his supper, and holds his family worship, does not only think himself happier than a king, he is in reality a thousand times happier. Happiness does not dwell in palaces, it dwells in the heart. Though you give a person all the riches of the earth you will not make him happy. It is a mania, with which nearly everyone is affected, to think: “if we only had as much as others, we would be happy also.” Cares come with riches. Go from castle to castle, enter the rooms where princes and emperors dwell, and you will see how happy they are. You would find, that if Christian faith were wanting, they are unhappy notwithstanding the power, the riches and the honors which they enjoy. Happiness is not found in these things, we simply imagine it. Happiness depends upon the condition of the mind. And if you would fill a man’s house with gold and diamonds, —that would never satisfy the heart. It has wants of a different character.
Even though we do make these statements, they are mostly made in vain for people will not believe us. They say: “O if I only had plenty of money, I would feel right happy.” They are fanatics who make such declarations. Just make an imaginary experiment with yourself and you will find that a fearful burden is placed upon your heart by becoming the owner of a large lump of gold. Gellert beautifully presents the matter in the poem called John, the soap-maker. He speaks of a soap boiler who sang with cheerfulness day and night. He had his daily bread and performed His work gladly. A wealthy epicure lived near him. He is greatly vexed at John's disturbing him in his morning sleep. He entered into a contract with John that he would give him a thousand dollars if he would stop his singing. John said to himself: “I can well afford to stop for a thousand dollars.” He carried the money home. He stopped his singing, but peace and joy fled from his heart and mind. While lying in bed, if he heard a little noise, he would think: “There are thieves about!” In short, his happiness was gone. Finally he gathered up his money again and carried it back to his rich neighbor. He preferred to sing and be joyful. This is of course a fable, but it is based on the experience of millions of people. It is then, altogether contrary to nature, to try to make men happy by means of communism.
The Word of God alone can make us happy. A man may indeed succeed well in some undertaking, and become overjoyed for a time and feel himself very happy. But alas! it is only for a short time! A Christian, on the other hand, is always happy, even while weeping. And if he should be prostrated before his God, he must confess, “happy man that I am.” He knows that he has enjoyed God’s goodness, he knows his tears will soon be wiped away. He will be with his God and Father and will stand before His throne forevermore, when once the delusive play on the stage of life is ended. The Christian knows this, and therefore he is happy. He is, of course, not always in a pleasant mood; sometimes he feels very sad, yes, quite frequently so; and the deeper his Christianity, the more he will be troubled with feelings of sadness, inasmuch as he notices every action of his flesh. This causes him trouble and distress. However, one thing no one can take from him: he has a merciful God in heaven; he has found the precious pearl, and when life is at an end, he can cheerfully close his eyes, for he fears neither death nor hell, nor that “Nothing” of which the atheists are continually afraid.
Although there are many who say: “There is no God,” there are really not as many atheists, even in our times, as is generally supposed. Many a one is a very bold atheist by day, but when he retires in the evening and all is dark about him, he hears a silent voice within him, saying: “There is a God after all, it is at any rate doubtful whether there is a God or not, and should there be a God, what will become of me?” This voice can be silenced by nothing less than satanic obduracy and hardness of heart. An atheist may deliver a speech with glowing eloquence against the existence of a God, but we must not think that he is actually in earnest. There are many braggarts who would show their intellectual greatness by speaking against God. Then after they return to their home, they must accuse themselves and say: “What have you done!” They don’t believe themselves what they have said. God has written on the heart of man and no one can erase it: “There is a God, before Him thou wilt be called to an account. He will bring thee before His judgment seat. Woe unto thee if thou hast no Savior? He will judge thee strictly in accordance with His holiness and righteousness.” —
Because, then, it is a fact, that happiness does not consist in external advantages, it is folly to endeavor to make men happy by means of an equalization.