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A shield against whatever would destroy
It has been well said that while in things essential there should be unity, in things non-essential there should be liberty, and in all things there should be charity. Were that wise rule followed by each, we should hear less of the religious antagonism and sectarian disputes that bring shame on the very word "religion." That which ought to unite has been the ever-springing source of division, until many have impatiently shaken off all religion as being man's worst enemy, the introducer everywhere of strife and hatred.
If religion has done nothing for your tempers, it has done nothing for your souls.
Men will wrangle for religion, write for it, fight for it, die for it, anything but-live for it.
Religion should extinguish strife,
And make a calm of human life.
Never be angry with your neighbour, because his religious views differ from yours; for all the branches of a tree do not lean the same way.
Troubles and adversities do more bow men's minds
We put too much faith in systems, and look too little to men.
That while a slight taste of philosophy may dispose the mind to indifference to religion, deeper draughts must bring it back to it; that while on the threshold of philosophy, where second causes appear to absorb the attention, some oblivion of the highest cause may ensue, when the mind penetrates deeper and sees the dependence of causes and the works of Providence, it will easily perceive, according to the mythology of the poets, that the upper link of nature's chain is fastened to Jupiter's throne.
Without religion there can be no true morality; without morality there can be no true religion.
A philosopher says: "There is no morality without religion, and there is no religion without morality. Morality is religion in practice; religion is morality in principle."
Every mode of religion, to make a deep and lasting impression on the human mind, must exercise our obedience, by enjoining practices of devotion; and must acquire our esteem by inculcating moral duties analogous to the dictates of our own hearts.
The question concerning the relation of religion to ethics is a living one in modern thought. One class
of thinkers insists that ethics is all there is of religion that can be known or can be of value to man; another that ethics if lived will of necessity blossom out into religion, since religion is only ethics touched with emotion; another that religion and ethics are two distinct things which have no necessary relation to each other, and still others who maintain that there is no high and persistent moral life possible without the sanctions of religion, and no high and worthy religion possible without an accompanying morality; that, whatever may be true in low conditions of civilization, any religion adapted to civilization must be ethical, and any ethical precepts or principles which are helpfully to control men's lives must be rooted in faith.
Rather let him who would lift the world morally avail himself of the motor power of religion; him who would erect a temple of religion see to it that its foundations are laid in the enduring granite of character.*
--MRS. ELIZA R. SUNDERLAND.
Among the factors that go to the building of a nation, religion is the one which is the most important, which is the foundation as well as the crown of the national life. It is indeed at first sight an advantage to a nation, where there is but one faith, but one worship, where the child at every mother's knee learns to lisp the same prayer, to think along the same line of religious faith; but still greater it seems to me would be the triumph of religion, if among a people where faiths are many and where the one God of
* From her paper on The Study of all Religions, read before the Parliament of religions.
all is worshipped under different names and by different forms, if such a people could form themselves into a single nation, and find in the many faiths a deeper unity, and in the variations of religions the identity of true religion. If such there could be, as there never yet has been in the world's long history, then it seems to me, indeed, religion would have achieved its noblest triumph, and in the many-chorded harmony of various faiths blended into one melodious whole, the Divine Wisdom would have gained its mightiest triumph, and the Brotherhood of man its grandest and noblest exemplar.
Religion without God, or God without religion, is as empty and devoid of essence as the play of Hamlet without Hamlet, the prince.
Religion may be described as a link between man and God, a feeling for something above us, something that sustains us, something without which man feels a spiritual gap within him; a marching out of the internal human spirit to meet the grand external Divine Spirit. Religion is not an accident of human life, not a cloak to be put on and taken off as occasion requires. It is the life and breath of man's existence. Carry reli
gion into your daily life, breathe it, live on it.
Religion is not only for the old, nor any particular class or stage of life, but it is a thing for all, for all ages, the young, the old, and every class of person; more for the young, if at all, than for the old; for it is the young that most need the power to resist temptation, and this power can only come from religion. Picture to yourself the life that is in prospect before the youthful person, young
man or the
maiden, "stepping with reluctant feet, where the brook and the river meet "; you can imagine the fair and lovely prospect of hill-side forest and bright meadow land that stand smiling before them; it is all smiles and roses to their youthful eyes. Little do they dream what thorns lie in their onward path, what unknown beasts of prey lie in wait for them under the lovely forests on the hills. When the thorns prick and their feet are bleeding and sore, what balm is there to soothe their pain? It is religion. What succour can they best depend on when they fall in the claws of the beastss of prey? None but religion. Take another picture,—the young widow, cast adrift all of a sudden in the middle of a happy voyage, darkness around her, and the desert sea with its howling wave below her. What guiding star can steer her solitary ship? Religion. And yet another picture,-the orphan, the friendless, the sick, the poor; what power is it that can soothe and sing to them heavenly songs of comfort and hope which they never heard before, an eternal harmony? The theist answers-Religion. And for the aged what a combination of countless hues does a glance of retrospect raise up before their failing eye-sight !-Difficult rivers crossed, hills climbed up and down, bright fields left far behind, and perchance, nay, too often scenes, which, revisited in imagination, raise up old memories of duty neglected or wrong deeds done, so that old scars throb with new agony beneath them! In the fast falling shades, or the mellow light of their eventide, what steady light is there to cheer their short future here and long one hereafter? The light of Religion.
It should not be understood from the dark side of the pictures just now placed before you that Religion is a oloomy spirit. The healing power claimed for it in