Yet for no generous thinker can the ethical questions involved be thus easily settled. We are not justified in holding that the inevitable is morally ordained, - much less that, because the higher races happen to be on the winning side in the world-struggle, might can ever constitute right. Human progress has been achieved by denying the law of the stronger, - by battling against those impulses to crush the weak, to prey upon the helpless, which rule in the world of the brute, and are no less in accord with the natural order than are the courses of the stars. All virtues and restraints making civilization possible have been developed in the teeth of natural law. Those races which lead are the races who first learned that the highest power is acquired by the exercise of forbearance, and that liberty is best maintained by the protection of the weak, and by the strong repression of injustice. Unless we be ready to deny the whole of the moral experience thus gained, - unless we are willing to assert that the religion in which it has been expressed is only the creed of a particular civilization, and not a religion of humanity, - it were difficult to imagine any ethical justification for the aggressions made upon alien peoples in the name of Christianity and enlightenment. Certainly the results in China of such aggression have not been Christianity nor enlightenment, but revolts, massacres, detestable cruelties, - the destruction of cities, the devastation of provinces, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the extortion of hundreds of millions of money. If all this be right, then might is might indeed; and our professed religion of humanity and justice is proved to be as exclusive as any primitive cult, and intended to regulate conduct only as between members of the same society.
But to the evolutionist, at least, the matter appears in a very different light. The plain teaching of sociology is that the higher races cannot with impunity cast aside their moral experience in dealing with feebler races, and that Western civilization will have to pay, sooner or later, the full penalty of its deeds of oppression. Nations that, while refusing to endure religious intolerance at home, steadily maintain religious intolerance abroad, must eventually lose those rights of intellectual freedom which cost so many centuries of atrocious struggle to win. Perhaps the period of the penalty is not very far away. With the return of all Europe to militant conditions, there has set in a vast ecclesiastical revival of which the menace to human liberty is unmistakable; the spirit of the Middle Ages threatens to prevail again; and anti-semitism has actually become a factor in the politics of three Continental powers....
- It has been well said that no man can estimate the force of a religious conviction until he has tried to oppose it. Probably no man can imagine the wicked side of convention upon the subject of missions until the masked batteries of its malevolence have been trained against him. Yet the question of mission-policy cannot be answered either by secret slander or by public abuse of the person raising it. To-day it has become a question that concerns the peace of the world, the future of commerce, and the interests of civilization. The integrity of China depends upon it; and the present war is not foreign to it. Perhaps this book, in spite of many shortcomings, will not fail to convince some thoughtful persons that the constitution of Far-Eastern society presents insuperable obstacles to the propaganda of Western religion, as hitherto conducted; that these obstacles now demand, more than at any previous epoch, the most careful and humane consideration; and that the further needless maintenance of an uncompromising attitude towards them can result in nothing but evil. Whatever the religion of ancestors may have been thousands of years ago, to-day throughout the Far East it is the religion of family affection and duty; and by inhumanly ignoring this fact, Western zealots can scarcely fail to provoke a few more "Boxer" uprisings. The real power to force upon the world a peril from China (now that the chance seems lost for Russia) should not be suffered to rest with those who demand religious tolerance for the purpose of preaching intolerance. Never will the East turn Christian while dogmatism requires the convert to deny his ancient obligation to the family, the community, and the government, - and further insists that he prove his zeal for an alien creed by destroying the tablets of his ancestors, and outraging the memory of those who gave him life.