Dr. Heber Newton, in a recent article in The Hibbert Journal, writes:—"Science is disclosing the nature of the universe as a system which is at unity with itself, a cosmos which is one through all its parts. It multiplies vastly the varieties of life, but connects them all with one another, binding the most widely separated spheres together in one vital unity, making all parts of one stupendous whole." This is true not only in relation to the external universe but also concerning man, and especially concerning the noblest thinkers and workers of all ages, of all nations, and of all religions. The increasing purpose running through the ages tends ever more and more to the discovery of this unity, and the yearning cry attributed to Jesus that all mankind "may be one," united to each other by the bonds of love as a spiritual whole is no longer the dream of one who seemed to live before his time, but a deep prophetic inspiration destined to accomplish in due time, the regeneration of the race, and lead to the establishment of the Kingdom of God. The old family and tribal divisions so long prevailing, succeeded by long periods of national strife, mistrust, and warfare, must pass away. Moved by the impulse born of the idea of brotherhood and unity of purpose, men and women of all lands will sooner or later reach the conviction that the same hopes and aspirations are common to all kinds of people. The old narrow tribal barriers were removed by the growth of the idea of a common, but wider, national life; so the present divisions of mankind into nations, with imaginary separate interests, must be swallowed up in the wider fellowship of the whole family of man. Selfishness, which we begin to learn, is the bane of every separate life groaning beneath its tyranny, will also be seen to be the great source of misery to men and women divided by ignorance and superstition into diverse and antagonistic creeds and nations. Honest commerce, and the needful interchange of the useful and beautiful products of all climes, and varied industries, should knit together those most widely separated. The modern methods of swift and easy transit by sea and land make communication possible where formerly it was impossible or difficult. All these material helps to unity may be gladly accepted, as they may be helps to lead our race to that higher and holier spiritual unity for which the highest and holiest souls in all ages have striven, and towards which we now seem to be advancing.
We may well believe that the future will see neither wars about religion, nor religious persecution. It has been well said that "Religions are many, but religion proves to be one," and as we discover that the very essence of all religion is intended—as the word means in its primary significance—to bind, or rebind men to each other, and lead them to love one another, the religious discords which have divided us into warring sects, will pass away, and the unity of spirit in the bonds of peace will become the foundation of a better collective and universal life.
Emerson said, "I strike the rock with my hammer and the jar is felt in Neptune." This may seem an extreme way of expressing the fact that the universe is one, but when we learn that Buddha and Jesus and Zoroaster, and many earlier and later teachers and guides, have in their highest and most practical precepts expressed the same thoughts and led their followers thereby to better lives, we shall discover that ignorance and selfishness in their disciples raised barriers, created mistrust, and caused division and separation where unity and cooperation should have been possible and easy. But with our knowledge daily increasing, all such feelings of mistrust and enmity should be succeeded by a common impulse towards active and progressive virtue on the part of mankind of all countries and of all creeds. The Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, and the Russian, with the Japanese and Chinese and the people of many races and religions in India, have nothing to gain, but everything to lose, by division and isolation, and we need not contemplate the effect of Emerson's hammer-stroke on the rock, except as an illustration to lead us by every human means, to live and work for the closer unity of all races, all creeds, and all classes.
All history tells us what crimes have been committed, what cruelty inflicted, what sorrow and pain have come upon our own common brotherhood in consequence of the race hatreds, the national divisions, and the selfish greed of mankind, and whilst we must admit that such an experience has been for the education of the whole, so as to bring them, in the order of nature, to a better and a brighter day, surely the time must be approaching when division shall be exchanged for unity, love be substituted for hatred, and mutual helpfulness shall take the place of selfish jealousy and a narrow mistrust. If it be true that we must look for the true Divine in the soul of the human, then our finite becomes so inseparably joined to the infinite, that unity is not a theory but a fact; and as all the great souls of all ages show a complete and beautiful oneness in their best life and teaching so, as the days pass, we may expect to see (and possibly we may see it soon) the noblest souls of every people, actuated by a common impulse, join together in one great united effort for the real salvation of their fellows.
If once we can understand that under all our external and material divergence there is a real soul-bond which we break at our peril, then on the basis of this soul—unity great deeds may be done, and wonderful results may follow. We read in an ancient prophetic book of "a nation being born in a day," and why may it not be possible for the souls of millions to be actually "born again" to lives of higher wisdom and goodness, than has hitherto been reached? What has been possible to the noblest souls ought to be possible to all souls, and when once it is clearly understood that apart from myth and miracle a common humanity belongs to every child, of every race and clime, and the least and lowliest may rise from a manger-cradle, through humility, and obedience to the higher laws of being, to become a very king and leader of the race; then the rapidity with which new ideas and new aspirations may grow may be foreseen. As the old superstitious die and pass away, being superseded by the growth of reason, and actual righteousness; when simple life shall be substituted for useless and wasteful luxury, and the brotherhood of wholesome labor and thought take the place of our weak desire to outwit and outshine one another, so it may be possible that in our most simple, quiet, holy daily life, all our souls may so mould and recreate our lives, that the vision of a world of actual saints shall become a great reality, and not only shall all tears be dried, but an emancipated race shall inhabit this hitherto sorrowful world, because selfishness has been abolished by the unity of mankind in perfect love.
When such a practical realization of the unity of the race becomes in any degree general, the first natural result will be a more widespread recognition of the responsibility resting on each one of us in our relations to, and our intercourse with, the rest. If we move in a small circle and have to do with few of our fellows, every word and act must be so carefully guarded from the very slightest appearance of discord or impatience, that offence may be avoided, and a sense of harmony and brotherliness may be generated, which shall lead to the same feelings being reciprocated, and so the bond of unity shall be ever more widely extended and bring within its influence an ever-increasing number of those who, being caught by the spirit of love, shall throw out its gentle bonds to still widening circles. And if those who are dominated by this all-pervading sense of unity and occupy commanding positions among men, can reflect the very highest life and brightest light which has shone into their own souls, by wide intercourse, or speech, or writing, and above all by an earnest and consistent strenuous life, how greatly would the good of our whole humanity be helped forward; how many of the crying evils of our time would be abolished, and how much more sacred and sublime our common daily life might become; how the narrow, sordid, grasping, selfish spirit, might be driven out of life by that higher and holier spirit of peace and strength, growing as a natural product from unity of purpose among us, such unity of purpose being always for the greater good of all.
So among the great possibilities of the future we may hope that a known and recognized unity of souls and interests shall become part of the world's inheritance, an inheritance enriching all, and impoverishing none; extending man's power over nature, and widening ever more greatly his spiritual outlook, so that all attempts at tyranny will become impossible by the growth of meekness and greatness in those who lead and guide, and any objection to obedience to the noblest obligations will be overcome by the perfect justice of all legal requirements; and so righteousness and peace shall rule mankind, and unity in goodness and virtue shall bind our race in bonds of universal blessedness.