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kind. This is not merely a hope of life after
death; it is still more a conscious experi-
ence of a life that is more than a mere
physical phenomenon. Man thinks that he
is more than a machine; that he exercises
some control over his bodily organs; that



they are his servants, not his master; and
therefore he does not believe that when
the servant ceases to obey the master and
dissolves in dust and ashes, the master ceases
to exist. Is this consciousness of continuing
life, of a life that transcends and in some
degree controls the body, trustworthy? Is
this faith in a present, and this hope for a
future, immortality reasonable? The phi-
losopher does not ask the reason to demon-
strate the truth of this faith and the sound-
ness of this hope. He brings this faith and
this hope before the court of reason and asks.
Is this reasonable — that is, is it able to
stand the inquisition of the reason ? Taking
life as it is, is there more to sanction the
hypothesis of mortality or the hypothesis of
immortality ? And if he finds that this in-
stinct is not unreasonable, if it is not dis-
proved by the reason, he concludes that it
is no hallucination and he accepts it and
trusts it.

So, again. Browning's declaration,

God ! Thou art love ! I build my faith on that.


is the expression of a conscious human in-
stinct. This instinct, as Browning expresses
it, is not so universal as the instinct of im-
mortality. But that there is a Person or
there are Persons who are superior to human-
ity, that among them there is One who may
properly be called Supreme — a Jehovah, or
a Jove, or a Wotan, or a Brahm, or a Great
Spirit — and that he is a moral being who is
governed by considerations of justice, if not
actuated by a spirit of pure benevolence, is
the faith which underlies all religions — that is,
which underlies the consciousness of the hu-
man race; for religion, the sense of depend-
ence upon and reverence for a supernatural
Being, is as universal as the race. There are
probably more blind persons in the world
than persons w^holly without any religious
experience; more, that is, who are not con-
scious of the light than there are who are
not conscious of some superhuman existence.
And the higher the ethical and spiritual de-
velopment of the age and the race, the more
benign is the conception of this Supreme



Being. Is this a consciousness to be trusted,
or is it an hallucination of the spirit ? Is it
only the blind who see, and are the sighted
all in error? The philosopher does not ask
reason to demonstrate to him the existence
of a God. He brings this universal con-
sciousness of a Supreme Being before the
court of reason and asks, Is it reasonable or
unreasonable.'^ Is belief in a reasoned crea-
tion or in a fortuitous concourse of atoms the
more rational explanation of the universe?
Is belief in a moral order or a moral chaos
more consonant with the phenomena of life?
Is belief in a righteous Power that makes
for righteousness sustained or negatived by a
study of the historic development of man-
kind ? Does history look as though life were
made up of a lot of unmastered wills playing
at cross-purposes, or as though behind all
these heterogeneous personalities there were
a great Personality working out some great
design by us not well understood ?

So again when, in the declaration that
"Spirit with spirit can meet," the poet sums



up and interprets the concurrent experience
of mankind. Desire for worship and joy in
worship are more common than desire for,
and joy in, art. Those who have found in-
spiration in prayer outnumber probably a
hundred to one those who have found inspi-
ration in music. The devout soul is as sure
that he has been talking with some invisible
presence in the quiet of his chamber as he is
a little later that he is talking with his friend
in the parlor. Prayer is not a hypothesis
demonstrated to him like a theorem in geom-

I cried unto the Lord \\ith my voice.
And he heard me out of his holy hill.
I laid me down and slept;
I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.

They who testify to a like experience are in
number like the sand on the seashore for
multitude. They are uncountable. Is this an
hallucination of the spirit.^ or is it a reality?
Paul's answer to that question is perfectly
fearless. Test it, he says; summon it into
the court of reason and let reason judge. If



the modern sceptic, with his theory of auto-
suggestion, had lived in Paul's time, one
cannot conceive that Paul would have evaded
or avoided this counter-hypothesis. Bring,
he would have said, your explanation of the
experience of prayer into court with mine and
let the reason judge between us.

"The greatest and, perhaps, sole use of
philosophy is, after all, merely negative, and,
instead of discovering truth, has only the
modest merit of preventing error." This
sentence, which is attributed to Immanuel
Kant, is also Paul's conception of the func-
tion of philosophy. It does not furnish us
with the facts of life. The facts of the outer
life are testified to by the physical senses; the
facts of the inner life are testified to by the
spiritual senses. But these witnesses are some-
times mistaken. They sometimes seem to con-
tradict each other. They must be brought
into court, put on the witness-stand, examined
and cross-examined. Reason is not the wit-
ness. Reason is the judge who tests the wit-
nesses. The witnesses are the senses and the



intuition; the one observes the world with-
out, the other experiences the life within.

There are several tests which the reason
employs in the examination of witnesses.
The agreeing testimony of many witnesses to
a phenomenon seen goes far to disprove the
theory that the seeing perception is an hallu-
cination of the senses ; the agreeing testimony
of many Avitnesses to a life experienced goes
far to disprove the theory that the experience
is an hallucination of the spirit. The excep-
tional we doubt more readily than the uni-
versal. But in religion the final test of every
vision is its effect on the character. The
test of philosophy, says Professor William
James, is, Does it work well ? This is Paul's
test of religious faith. If this is pragma-
tism, he is a pragmatist. It is also the test
of practical science. The proof of wireless
telegraphy is the message sent from station
to station without a wire. The proof of aerial
navigation is the voyage on the aeroplane.
The object of religion is the education and
elevation of man. The test of every vision



is its effect on the education and elevation of
man. Not what we think its effect will be,
but what in fact its effect is. This is only to
say what Christ said, *' By their fruits ye shall
know them." What has been the effect on
human character of faith in immortality, in
God, in Jesus Christ as the supreme mani-
festation of God, in the reality of communion
with God ? To attempt to answer this ques-
tion would be to write the history of Christi-
anity. It must suffice here to say that the
vices of Christendom are common to human-
ity; its virtues are largely its own. Cruelty
and oppression, fraud and deceit, drunkenness
and prostitution, are a part of the world's
history. What is not a part of the world's
history, but only part of the history of Chris-
tendom, is the abolition of slavery, the eman-
cipation of government, the creation of a
sense of commercial honor which has made
possible banks and a post-oflSce and a credit
system, hospitals and asylums for the un-
fortunate, reformatories and penitentiaries for
the criminal, and a temperance movement



which has promoted in the individual and
in the community the power of self-control.
^Vhat is common to humanity is a poignant
sense of remorse for sin and a resulting sys-
tem of sacrifices and penances to atone for
sin. What is peculiar to Christendom is an
experience of forgiveness of sin, which has
changed worship from a pitiful cry for mercy
into a joyful song of thanksgiving.

The test of a religious faith is, Does it
work well ? The spirit and the teachings
of Jesus Christ have worked well wherever
they have been tried. The failures in Chris-
tendom can all be easily traced to the im-
perfect acceptance of those teachings and
the imperfect realization of that spirit.




Thou shall love the liord thy God vdth all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all
thy strength : this is the first commandment. And the
second is like, namely this. Thou shalt love thy neighbor
as thyself.

T OVE has many phases : love of husband
-^^^ and wife, parent and child, friend and
friend, neighbor and neighbor, are not the
same. Love does not always mean congenial
fellowship. There is no reason for imagining
that the Good Samaritan found the despoiled
traveller an agreeable comrade; certainly
Jesus did not find comradeship in Judas
Iscariot, and yet it is said that, having loved
his own, he loved them to the end.

There is in all the various inflections of
love one common element; if that is pres-
ent, love is not lacking; if that is lacking,
what we sometimes call love is but a spurious



counterfeit. That common element is a sin-
cere desire for the welfare of the loved one.
No passion of the husband for his wife can
serve as a substitute for this simple desire for
her welfare dominating his life and controlling
his actions. When the pseudo-reformer tells
us that marriage without love is a profanation
and that when love ceases the marriage tie
should be dissolved, what does he mean?
Does he mean that when passion ceases, the
marriage tie should be dissolved ? That is
not true. Passion does not sanctify mar-
riage; marriage sanctifies passion. Or does
he mean that when this simple and sincere
desire for each other's welfare ceases, the tie
should be dissolved ? But neither has a right
to allow that desire to cease. Passion is
spontaneous; and it is often transcient. But
love, the love that suffers long and still is
kind, never should be allowed to die. It is
immune, not from pain, but from sickness
and death. The indulgent mother who can-
not bear to deny her child any wish nor to
enforce upon him any command thinks she



loves him too much. No ! She does not
truly love him at all, because she does not
desire his welfare. Kisses and caresses can
never take the place of this masterful motive
of true, helpful service. This motive may be
accompanied by emotions which bring the
holiest joy or the bitterest sorrow ; but if it is
not strong enough to endure the bitterest sor-
row, if it is not stronger than the most tumul-
tuous joy, it is not true love ; certainly it lacks
something of being perfect love.

To love my neighbor as myself is not to
rejoice in his companionship, to find in him
a congenial comrade, to share with him the
same pleasures and the same sorrows, to en-
joy the same pictures or books or music, to
hold the same opinions, to live on the same
intellectual and moral plane. It is to regard
his welfare as of equal importance to me with
my own. To love my enemy is not to be
moved by a passionate devotion toward him;
it is not even moderately to like him. It is
to be moved by his enmity to wish him not
evil, but good. Paul has defined what is

M 161


meant by loving one's enemy: "If thine
enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give
him drink." Christ has defined what he
means by loving one's enemy: "But I say
unto you. Love your enemies, bless them that
curse you, do good to them that hate you, and
pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you."

The law of love thus interpreted, the law
that we are to regard our neighbor's welfare
as we regard our own, is the condition, and
the only condition, of true abiding social
order. He who regards his neighbor's wel-
fare as his own will not oppress him, nor rob
him, nor vilify him. This is what Paul
means by the saying, "Let love be without
hypocrisy. Abhor that which is evil ; cleave
to that which is good. In love of the brethren
be tenderly aft'ectioned one to another; in
honor preferring one another." If the la-
borer regarded his employer's welfare as his
own, and the employer regarded the working-
man's welfare as his own, there would be an
end to strikes and lockouts; the controversies



would be kindly controversies and easily ad-
justed. If the maid regarded the welfare of
the mistress as her own, and the mistress re-
garded the welfare of the maid as her own,
the domestic problem would cease to be "the
greatest plague of life." If the merchant
regarded the customer's welfare as his own,
and the customer regarded the merchant's
welfare as his own, there would be an end to
"it is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer,
and goeth away and boasteth." If the white
man regarded the negro's welfare as his own,
the race problem would be easily solved.
Love would no more mean social comrade-
ship between the races than it means social
comradeship between individuals; but it
would mean justice and fair dealing. If
each nation regarded the other nations' wel-
fare as its own, war would cease and we could
beat our swords into ploughshares and our
spears into pruning-hooks. In individual
and in international relations we would no
longer attempt to make a profit out of one
another's necessities. Whether our labor sys-



tern was slavery, or feudalism, or capitalism,
or Socialism, or some other system yet to be
discovered, would be, not a matter of no im-
portance, but a matter of secondary impor-
tance. If the master regarded his slaves'
welfare as his own, slavery would be not un-
endurable. This is the meaning of Paul's
much-debated letter to Philemon, sent by the
hand of Philemon's slave Onesimus: "If
then thou countest me as a partner, receive
him as myself." It was because the early
Christians regarded the welfare of their slaves
as their own that slavery was gradually abol-
ished, without a war of emancipation and
without even an industrial revolution. This
spirit of mutual regard for each other's wel-
fare is more important to social order and
social welfare than any change in the social
order, however important. In truth, the main
question covering every proposed change in
the social order is this. Will it tend to promote
the spirit of social brotherhood ?

To love God with all the heart, and soul,
and mind, and strength is to make God's



welfare — that is, the progress and prosperity
of his work in the world — one's supreme desire.
As to love one's neighbor as one's self is the
secret of social order, so to love God with all
the heart, and soul, and mind, and strength
is the secret of all high, holy, and joyous liv-
ing. To love God is not to sing praises to
him, nor to utter prayers to him, nor to offer
sacrifices to him, nor to make contributions
from one's purse to his Church. This may
help or it may hinder. It helps when it pro-
motes the love that is service ; it hinders when
it takes the place of the love that is service.

The history of the child in the family is in
microcosm the history of the human race in
the world. The child in the cradle knows
nothing of the world, of its fellows, or of itself.
It knows not how to use its eyes, or hands,
or feet. It knows nothing of the rights of
persons or property ; of the duty of truth and
the evil of falsehood; of the dangers of self-
indulgence and the necessity of self-control.
The parents must teach it that it is in a world
of law, must help it to ascertain what those



laws are, must train it to habits of obedience
to law. Gradually, very gradually, it grows
up to take possession of itself and of its
world. From its earliest infancy God has
been training the human race. Gradually
under that training it has been emerging
from a purely animal condition into one of
spiritual mastership. Gradually it has been
developed into a spiritual consciousness of its
Father and its own divine nature. Gradually
it is beginning to see that the end of life is that
it may become worthy to be its Father's com-
panion and enter into full fellowship with him.
To devote one's self to working with the Father
to accomplish the Father's ends — this is to
love God ; to devote one's self wholly and
unreservedly to this work is to love him
supremely. Says Hegel, "God governs the
world ; the actual working of his government
— the carrying out of his plan — is the his-
tory of the world." ^ To join with God in
carrying out his plan, so to join with him in
this work that it shall inspire all one's enthu-

> Hegel, " Philosophy of History," p. 38.


siasm, determine finally and forever the direc-
tion of one's life, employ all one's intellectual
energies, and both create and employ one's
powers, is to love God with all the heart, and
with all the soul, and with all the mind, and
with all the strength. This is what Paul
means by the saying, "God was in Christ
reconciling the world to himself, and hath
committed unto us the word of reconcilia-
tion." By his manifestation of himself in the
life and career of Jesus of Nazareth, God has
made clear to men what is his heart's desire
for his children, and to them he has intrusted
the carrying on to its completion this work of
lifting men up into such companionship with
him that he shall be in very truth the Father
of whom every family in heaven and on earth
is named. That is the end of evolution, the
meaning of redemption — one is the scien-
tist's word, the other is the word of the theo-
logian for the same historic process — a new
humanity in fellowship with God, a new social
order which shall be pervaded by righteous-
ness or the spirit which regards another's



welfare as one regards his own, by peace or
universal good-will, founded on righteousness,
and by joy or universal welfare growing out
of righteousness and peace, — all three, right-
eousness, peace and joy — the spontaneous fruit
of holiness, that is, healthfulness of spirit.^

When one understands history as Hegel
understands it, when he thus enters into life
as Paul interprets it, life takes on a new aspect.
Such a one never thinks of asking, Is life
worth living ? Drudgery disappears, the sec-
ular becomes sacred, the insignificant shares
the greatness of work to which it contributes.
The compositor shares with the editor in the
greatness of journalistic service; the porter
shares with the banker in providing the com-
munity with what is a necessary medium for
the mutual exchange of services; the brake-
man sees himself a co-laborer with the great
corporation in making the highway which
binds East and West and North and South

' For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but right-
eousness, and peace, and joy in holiness of spirit. (Romans
xiv. 17.) Not the Holy Spirit : the definite article is wanting
in the original.



together; the maid realizes that the health
and happiness of the community rests on its
homes, and the health and happiness of the
homes on the kitchen.

With this apprehension of the greatness of
all work because it is work for God comes
the added comprehension that it is work with
God. For Thomas a Kempis's declaration,
*'The fathers were strangers to the world, but
near to God and were his familiar friends,"
the worker for God substitutes, "I will be a
friend to the world, because near to God and
his familiar friend." To bear burdens, meet
obstacles, confront and conquer dangers, en-
dure patiently the frets and worries of the
world becomes a part of the ministry of life
— the more to be done, the more to be en-
dured, the greater the joy of the service. The
petty problems of life — of dress and food,
social prestige and business success — slip
away, or take their place as part of the great
problem how to do one's work valiantly and
well. The insoluble mystery of life ceases to be
depressing. Since in its entirety it is too great



for our solution, we grow content to study it
item by item, and solve the parts that are set
before us, as a subordinate engineer might
figure out the problem given to him by his
superior without attempting to map out the
whole enterprise. The greatness of the work,
to which one can contribute but an inappre-
ciable trifle, inspires an enthusiasm com-
mensurate with the work — not with our in-
considerable share — and makes it possible for
one to put into his own special work, how^ever
humble, not only his strength and his mind,
but the whole of his heart. Every new problem
presented, every new difficulty encountered,
every new experience of intellectual dulness,
spiritual inertia, or selfish shortsightedness in
his neighbor, adds to the flame of his ardent
ambition of service. If any reader does not un-
derstand what I mean, or thinks me extrava-
gant, let him read the life of General Armstrong
or of Dr. Grenfell, and then he will understand.
The body is the temple of a holy spirit
which we have from God, whose offspring
we are. To use our ears and eyes to receive



impressions of truth and purity — impres-
sions that will fit us for service; to make our
words the expression of a real life of the spirit
and a minister to the real life of others; to
put our hand with energy to what work Provi-
dence puts in our way; to keep on our way
undaunted by any fear, unhalted by any dis-
aster; to make our appetites and passions the
servants, not the master, of the soul ; to people
our imagination with ideals which will in-
spire to higher and holier living; to recognize
the authority of conscience as a lawgiver;
and to make the life and teachings of Jesus
Christ the standard for our conscience; to
look at the things which are unseen and
eternal as well as at the things which are seen
and temporal ; to use the reason to correct the
errors of our vision not as a substitute for it;
to regard the welfare of our neighbor as we
regard our own; and to make the progress
and prosperity of God's work in the world
our supreme and final concern, the secret of an
unquenchable enthusiasm and the reservoir
of an inexhaustible strength — this is religion.

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Online LibraryLyman AbbottThe temple → online text (page 6 of 6)