ETHICAL SOCIETIES, THE UNION OF. If the Ethical Movement seems to be in conflict and rivalry with the Churches, it may nevertheless claim to be in a real sense a religious movement. The Gospel of the Ethical Movement, as expounded by W. M. Salter in his " Ethical Religion" should command the greatest respect. There are no doubt many persons to whom such a gospel comes as a great relief, consolation, and inspiration. Whether it is such a religion as can permanently satisfy the natural human craving for communion with a power beyond and above that of man may well be questioned. The general object of the Union of Ethical Societies is to advocate the supreme importance of the knowledge, love and practice of the Right. The principles of the Union are stated to be nine. (1) In all the relations of life—personal, social, and political—the moral factor should be the supreme consideration. (2) The love of goodness and the love of one's fellows are the true motives for right conduct; and self-reliance and co-opera tion are the true sources of help. (3) Knowledge of the Right has been evolving through the experience of the human race; therefore the moral obligations generally accepted by the most civilised communities should be taken as the starting-point in the advocacy of a progres sive ideal of personal and social righteousness. (4) For each individual, after due consideration of the convict ions of others, the final authority as to the right or wrong of any opinion or action should be his own con scientious and reasoned judgment. (5) The well-being of society requires such economic and other conditions as afford the largest scope for the moral development of all its members. (6) scientific method should be applied iu studying the facts of the moral life. (7) The moral life involves neither acceptance nor rejection of belief in any deity, personal or impersonal, or in a life after death. (S) The acceptance of any one ultimate criterion of right should not be made a condition of ethical fellowship. (9) Ethical Fellowships are the most powerful means of encouraging the knowledge and love of right prin ciples of conduct, and of giving the strength of character necessary to realise them in action. It is clear that the Ethical Societies have much in common with the Churches as far as good works are concerned, but the two conceptions of what constitutes true religion are widely divergent. " So far as the Churches are endeav
ouring to battle with the evils of Society and of the individual life, and to band the people together into re ligious communities for that purpose, the Ethical Societies welcome and endorse their efforts. But they have nothing in common with that view of Religion which lays the chief emphasis upon what a man believes and not upon what he does." Mr. H. Snell, a General Secretary of the Union of Ethical Societies, has drawn up a kind of Ethical Creed. Part of it may be quoted. " We believe first of all in making DUTY a religion. By duty we mean passionate loyalty to truth, justice, mercy, and right living. We do not believe that creeds, theologies, and priestly ceremonies are religion, and we are opposed to ceremonial beliefs being made a duty. We believe that what men call the ' good life ' constitutes religion; that there is no religion except that, and we believe that man can lead the ' good life' without super natural beliefs of any kind. We do not say that all supernatural theories are wrong, but we believe that the ' good life ' is not dependent on belief in them. We believe that there is no salvation for mankind apart from character; and we believe that character is salva tion. We have no collective beliefs concerning another life than this; but we believe that the life we have needs purifying and improving, and to this end we devote all our time and strength. As individuals we may or may not believe that a. ready-made heaven is waiting for us when this life is over; but we unitedly believe that •if the kingdom is to ' come on earth as it is in heaven' it must be by man's labour and self-sacrifice. We believe that perfection lies at the end and not at the beginning of human experience; that there was no Garden of Eden, no perfect man, and no Fall which brought sin into the world. We believe that although men fall daily, man is rising, and that he has risen from the beginning until now. We do not believe that Jesus encompassed all the possible good in his own personality, but that knowledge of the right evolves from age to age." There are more than twenty Societies federated in the Union.