Once upon a time there was a community of just two members.
One was a workingman. There has to be someone
around who works.
This workingman did what all laborers must
do - produced food and raiment by applying his labor to the resources of
The other member of this community was a
very lordly person, very lordly and lazy. The lordly person did no work,
yet he was clothed in purple and fine linen and he fared sumptuously every
One day a third member was added to the community.
The third man was a preacher. The lordly person had more food and raiment
than he could consume, so he agreed to give some to the preacher. In return
the preacher was to look after the spiritual welfare of the community of
Having a preacher, the lordly person wanted
a church. Therefore he ordered the workingman to build it.
Having the church, and the preacher, they
decided to have a go-to-church rally. They got the entire community out to
The lordly person sat on the front seat.
The workingman was up in the gallery. The preacher took for this text:
That was easy for the lordly person. He did not have to be anxious.
Be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat,
or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body for what ye shall put on.
But what about the workingman in the gallery?
Suppose he had shouted right out in the meeting: "I would not have to be
anxious either, if that lordly person down in the front seat would produce
his own food and raiment and I were permitted to keep mine."
That would have been scandalous.
If the workingman had done anything like that, the lordly person would
have had an article in the newspaper the next day denouncing the anarchist.
The joke of it is that the workingman would have to furnish the brains to
write the article and the labor to set up the type and do the press-work,
and then he would have had to get out on the street and sell the newspaper
to himself, denouncing himself.
But that did not happen. Something more astonishing
than that happened.
On this occasion the preacher preached the
"Brethren," said he, "this text can be understood
only in connection with the other text:
Then the preacher turned directly to the lordly person in the front seat
But seek ye first his righteousness and all these things
shall be added unto you.
The lordly person arose in his seat with gathering wrath. Trembling with
passion he cried out:
"The heavenly father does not want any of His children
to have to be anxious about food and raiment. That man in the gallery is
anxious. It is mockery to tell him not to be anxious. Sir, it is because you
produce nothing, but eat the fruits of his labor. Seek first the righteousness
of God. Let justice be done, in this community. Let each man work and live
upon the fruits of his own labor. Then all may be free from anxiety."
The preacher was amazed, but he was not in the least cowed. As soon as
he could comprehend what had happened, he said:
"See here, you young theologue, who pays your salary
anyway? I want you to understand that as long as I pay your salary you are
to stick to the gospel and let the labor problem alone."
"Apparently I have made a mistake.
When I came to this church I thought it
was a house of God. You appear to consider it your house. I supposed that
I had been called to preach the Gospel of Jesus, the whole gospel with all
its power to save and free and bless mankind. You say that you will tolerate
only a part of the gospel. You insist that I fill every sermon with half-truths,
which will not disturb any of your privileges but which will keep the workingman
contented with his lot.
If this is what you expected of me, then off with
these vestments; take your church. I'll preach the gospel on the street-corners
"Socialism!" cried the lordly person, bursting with rage, "Confiscation!
Robbery! Single Tax!"
Nay, this workingman and I are a majority in the community.
We will unite.With our votes we will decree a revolution. We will establish
the righteousness of God. We will make honest laws. We will stop paying you
ground rent. We will pay our taxes out of the ground rent you are now collecting
from us. We will take enough of this ground rent so that we can loan ourselves
capital. One man shall not be enslaved to another because he does not happen
to inherit the capital needed to make his labor effective. We will take the
full ground rent and this shall make the land free and industry taxfree,
and capital accessible to all on easy terms. Then, sir, if you will not work,
you will starve. This will be freedom for the workingman in the gallery,
but it will make you free also. You will not be free to rob your brother.
You will not be free to charge him for his own God-given birthright; you
will not be -"
"Yes," shouted the preacher, "and CHRISTIANITY."
But the preacher was not through.
"Did you expect me," he continued, "to preach, in
the name of Jesus, that these monstrous privileges of yours are honest property
rights? Did you expect me, in HIS name, to defend all this slavery, and to
blot out from the souls of men the mighty hope that was born in Bethlehem,
the hope of justice and good will, the hope of heaven on earth?
Rather, I will go into the highways and preach the
gospel of Him who had compassion on the multitude. I will preach to men who
will pray with their ballots. I will say to them: Come, let us establish
the righteousness of God. Let us destroy every privilege of law by which one
man appropriates the fruits of another's labor. Let us create a new public
opinion and decree justice, that none of God's children need be anxious about
food and raiment, that all may practice the precept of the Sermon on the
But that preacher had a lot to learn. He
lost his job. That goes without saying. He expected that. But something else
happened which he did not expect. He went to the workingman and outlined
his plans for a Christian revolution. But the workingman refused to join him.
The workingman in the gallery was with the lordly gentleman in the front seat.
This is the way one preacher discovered that
the trouble is not with the selfishness of the man in the front seat, so
much as with the ignorance of the man in the gallery. If the man in the gallery
had the sense to understand the preacher's sermon, he would have had the
power to win his own freedom.
So the preacher turned to the book of wisdom
and added a proverb, coined out of his own experience. It was this:
The mind is the seat of slavery.