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"It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man's mind to atheism; but depth in philosophy bringeth men's minds about to religion." BACON.

"The broad ethics of Jesus were quickly narrowed to village theologies, which preach on election or favoritism."

"The way to judge of religion is by doing our duty. Religion is rather a divine life than a divine knowledge. In heaven, indeed, we must first see, and then love; but here, on earth, we must first love, and love will open our eyes as well as our hearts, and we shall then see, and perceive, and understand.” SMILES.


Bacon: Of Atheism.
Of Superstition.

James, 1.


1. By a man's religion is meant his relationship with God; or his view of his relationship to any power that he believes in which is superhuman. The nature of his religion, therefore, is likely to depend very largely upon what has been taught him in his youth, upon the degree of his intelligence, upon the extent of his knowledge of life, and upon his surroundings. A man's religion is thus likely to be a growth changing and developing with increasing years and experience.

2. To a good many people religion seems to be primarily a matter of thinking, of believing, and not a matter of living. But the men who have had the greatest influence in history along religious lines are those whose views of their relation to God have affected profoundly their lives, and have determined what they should do in life. A person's view of God is, of course, determined largely by his idea of what is highest and best in life.

Would it be possible for an untutored savage to take the same view of God as a highly trained civilized man?

In what respects would the views of God of, let us say, a cannibal differ from those of a cultivated American, even tho both might be Christians?

3. If a person's view of his duty to God affects his daily life, is it likely to force upon him many sacrifices? If so, what will be the nature of such


sacrifices? Must he give up pleasures? If so, what kinds?

Must he give up certain plans of making a livelihood? If so, what kinds of plans?

Must he change his ambition for success in life? If so, how?

What comfort or active enjoyments come or ought to come from one's religious belief?

How far is a man's religion a matter of this life? How far is it intimately connected with the life to come, regardless of this life?

Are religious practices primarily acts of church worship or deeds of active service for others? Upon which did Jesus lay most emphasis?

What acts of your daily life have a religious character? Studying? Giving to the poor? Playing ball? Helping your parents?

4. It would seem as if the relationship of a man to his God ought to be a source of enjoyment, of satisfaction; and yet this would depend very largely upon his view of the nature of his God. In many cases savages have looked upon their gods as avenging deities who needed to be propitiated or bought, and their chief sentiment toward their gods has been that of fear; so that little or no enjoyment came from such relationship, unless they thought by sacrifice they had secured safety.

In most civilized Christian communities the thought of the nature of God is different. Since Jesus Christ came into the world His acts and character have largely made the ideals of good


ness, and in consequence have created the conceptions of God that are found in the minds of Christian peoples. In that way at least He is the revealer of God, the incarnation of Godhood. Unless men can get a higher conception of goodness than is found in Jesus Christ, the Christian religion must stand. It will stand.

With the life of Jesus Christ embodying all that is best and noblest in our ideals, and with the teachings of Jesus forming the foundation of the best in our civilization and in our lives, can we do better than to make this life and these teachings the subject of regular thoughtful study?


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