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rying with uncircumcised families; but they inherit their Prophet's animosity to the Jews, whom they regard with much more aversion than they do Christians. In consideration of their being believers in a Sacred Book; both classes are allowed to retain their own places of worship in countries conquered by Mohammedans, provided they pay tribute, ring no bells, make no attempts at proselyting, and do nothing to prevent their relatives from becoming true believers. Contracts with them are subject to the same laws that regulate the business-intercourse between Moslems; but no promise or oath is binding, if made to people who do not believe in a Sacred Book. The testimony of Christians is not received against a Moslem, they are not allowed to compete with them in their style of living, and in the street, they must make way for the meanest follower of the Prophet. A more kindly state of feeling begins to manifest itself between the rival religions. Christian writers have become more candid; and the Sultan of Turkey many years ago passed a law forbidding his subjects to continue their practice of calling Christians dogs. They both derive so much from Jewish fountains, that Lessing calls them “Two litigating sons of the same father.”
The extension of Mohammedanism, though occasionally checked, has gradually increased ever since the Hegira. Its professors are now estimated at one hundred and eighty millions; nearly one-fifth of the whole human race.
“The word unto the Prophet spoken
R. W. EMERSON.
IN reviewing the contents of the preceding pages, every reflecting mind must be struck with the fact that "there have been but few voices in the world, and many echoes.” How the same questionings, the same hopes, the same aspirations, have continually reappeared, in expressions varied by the climates and the ages! The same gamut, with infinite modifications of mode and time! In all ages and countries, the great souls of humanity have stood on the mountain peaks, alternately watching the clouds below, and the moonlight above, anxiously calling to each other: “Brethren, what of the night?” And to each and all an answer has returned, varying in distinctness: "Lo, the morning cometh.”
If we would but look at the subject comprehensively, there is nothing in the history of man so interesting as the attempt to trace Infinite Wisdom making its way among the errors, the frailties, the passions, and the intense spiritual longings of finite souls. Everywhere the Divine Spirit takes form according to the capacity of reception. As this enlarges, old forms of thought and worship die, and the Spirit enters into new ones, which the previous growth has prepared. Thus is the Word of God forever incarnated, and dwelleth among men. Therefore, the very nature of a Written Revelation involves the necessity of ceasing to be adequate to the wants of society, sooner or later; for a Revelation must necessarily be adapted to the then present state of the public mind, and consequently be, in some degree, a measure of that mind. If it were entirely above the comprehension of the epoch, it could not be a Revelation. When it has done its destined work, and helped onward to a higher plane of perception, the soul begins to outgrow the Revelation, and can no longer receive it as a sufficient standard. Declining faith in the external letter always produces a reaction. The reverential tendency of man strives to resuscitate decaying forms by the infusion of spiritual significance. Then come elaborate and farfetched explanations and allegories, by means of which the new thought is found in the old words; all of which is a patching and stretching of the worn-out garment, to make it cover the increasing stature. This habit of conservatism is wisely impressed upon our nature, to prevent abrupt and dangerous changes. But when the new garment is entirely prepared, the old one will drop off; and the attempt to stretch it merely cracks it in pieces.
Such periods of the world's growth are always sad to souls which have devout feelings and a limited vision. They need to be reminded of what the Athenian philosopher said to his disciple: “He may bury my body; but let him not think he buries Socrates." No portion of truth ever did die, or ever can die. Its spirit is eternal, though its forms are ever changing. We cannot annul that law of our existence which forever makes the present a reproduction of all that was real in the past. Only inherited customs, in which men merely seem to believe, transmit no life. Every genuine belief helps to form future modes of thought; however absurd and fantastic the
form of belief may appear to the future that looks back upon it.
Instead of considering our own religion the product of a gradual growth, to which the spiritual sunshine, air, and rain of previous centuries have contributed, it is the common tendency to speak of it as a gift suddenly dropped down from Heaven, for a chosen few, and unlike anything the world had ever received. The beautiful Night-blooming Cereus, with a pure light radiating from its deep centre, seems to have no relationship with the long dry stem, and the little shaggy buds of tufted tow; but the regal loveliness of the blossom could never have been produced, had not the long stem, and the uncouth bud, day after day, and month after month, conveyed to it nourishment from all the surrounding atmosphere.
The same is true of the world's religious growth. Dreamy contemplations of devout mystics in the ancient forests of Hindostan; the vague sublimity of Egyptian thought, born of vast deserts, and the solemn dimness of subterranean temples; the radiant army of Spirits, which illuminated the soul of the Persian, when with loving reverence he kissed his hand to the stars; Hebrew proneness to the supernatural, combined with the practical wisdom and equalizing system of Moses; moonlighted glimpses of the infinite, revealed to Plato; the Gospel of love and forgiveness preached by Jesus; all these are fused into our present modes of thought. We are told that wise men came from far countries, and offered jewels to the infant Christ. Figuratively, it might signify how all the nations added some gems to his crown of righteousness. Jews brought their fixed idea of the unity of God, their abhorrence of idolatry, their habitual thoughtfulness for the poor. Grecians imparted their free spirit and intellectual culture, to protect spiritual growth from a narrow and binding fanaticism. Romans brought their civil law, to restrain the selfishness of Christian proselytes, and help their imperfect sense of justice. Teutonic tribes brought their reverence for “the form contuining woman," to aid the fulfilment of the prophecy, that there would be “neither male nor female in Christ Jesus." Those who laid down these offerings at the feet of Christ, did it in reverence for his divine doctrines of complete forgiveness of injuries, the universal brotherhood of man, and the all-pervading love of an everwatchful Father.
This combination of goodness and truth, which we at the present time accept under the name of Christianity, resembles the threefold nature of man, described by ancient philosophers. The religious sentiment, reverential and humane, is the interior soul, in constant communication with God; intellectual culture, and powers of reflection, are the intermediate soul; and civil law is the material body. The soul forms the outline and expression of the body; but it is equally true that diseases of the body affect the state of the soul.
Preceding quotations from Greeks and Romans show the state of preparation existing in the Gentile world, previous to the ministry of Christ. The old Teutonic tribes, though comparatively rude in most respects, also imparted much that was valuable, in exchange for what they received. They had always been remarkable for the high consideration in which they held their women, and the respect with which they treated them. They were always allowed an equal share in religious ceremonies, and were habitually consulted in all the important affairs of war and government. Asiatic servitude and Roman profligacy were alike unknown to them. The best of the Romans acknowledged that, with regard to the dignity and purity of women, the sickly civilization of their own country was keenly rebuked by the more healthy tone of their barbarian conquerors. The introduction of this element had a very important influence on Christianity, in the Western portions of the world. The poor condition of churches in Asiatic countries, where Grecian culture, Roman law, and Teutonic intermixture, have not modified the growth of Christianity, indicates how much we owe to those collateral influences.
It is undeniable that with the good and the true from the past, there also came into Christianity much that was cvil and false. But this is altogether inseparable from the imperfect condition of humanity. No man, not even the wisest, ever rises entirely above the opinions and customs