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to her, for it made that old lonely woman look twice at least every day away from earth and up to heaven; it made her feel that her life was bound up with a larger and higher life; it encircled the daily routine of her earthly existence with something of a divine light. It gave her the sense of a Beyond, and that is the true life of all religion. Is there not something of the simple religion of that old Samoyede woman even in the familiar lines of Bishop Ken,
“Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run'? This kind of religion may seem very imperfect, it may seem in our eyes very childish or even wrong. But it is real, and therefore a real power for good. It is a struggle for God,-if haply we may find Him ; and in that struggle also—after many mistakes, it may be—it is the best that survives and lives.
The whole world in its wonderful history has passed through that struggle for life, the struggle for eternal life; and every one of us, in his own not less wonderful history, has had to pass through the same struggle; for, without it, no religion, whatever its sacred books may be, will find in any human heart that soil in which alone it can strike root and on which alone it can grow and bear fruit.
We must all have our own bookless religion, if the Sacred Books, whatever they be, are to find a safe and solid foundation within ourselves. No temple can stand without that foundation, and it is because that foundation is so often neglected, that the walls of the temple become unsafe and threaten to fall.
It is easy to say it before an audience like this, but I should not be afraid to say it before an
audience of Brâhmans, Buddhists, Parsis, and Jews, that there is no religion in the whole world which in simplicity, in purity of purpose, in charity and true humanity, comes near to that religion which Christ taught to his disciples. And yet that very religion, we are told by even bishops, is being attacked on all sides. The unbelief of the day,' as one of the most eloquent bishops said at the late Church Congress,
is not only aggressive, but almost omnipresent. It is found in the club and in the drawing-room. It is chattered to one by the first young gentleman who might be airing his freethought, before he had learned how to talk. It is lisped prettily sometimes from charming lips at dinner tables, and it lurks in the folds of the newspaper and the pages of the magazine and the novel
There may be other reasons for this omnipresent unbelief, but the principal reason is, I believe, the neglect of our foundations, the disregard of our own bookless religion, the almost disdain of Natural Religion. Even bishops will curl their lips and toss their heads when you speak to them of that natural and universal religion which existed before the advent of our historical religions, nay, without which all historical religions would have been as impossible as poetry is without language. Natural religion may exist and does exist without revealed religion. Revealed religion without natural religion is an utter impossibility. While some of our missionaries are delighted when they meet with some of the fundamental doctrines of their own religion expressed almost in the same words by so-called pagans or black men, others seem to imagine it robbery that any truth at all should be found in non-Christian religions.
Surely a truth is not less a truth because it is believed by heathens also, because it belongs to that religion which is universal ? It is easy enough to discover the blemishes of other religions, though many of them seem far more gross and repulsive to us than they really are.
“It is hardly fair,' as a friend of mine wrote to me, 'to translate the Sacred Books of the East,—they are so infinitely inferior to our own.'
Yes, they are, but that is the very reason why we should look all the more carefully and eagerly for any grains of truth that may be hidden beneath an accumulation of rubbish.
The heart and mind and soul of man are the same under every sky, in all the varying circumstances of human life; and it would indeed be awful to believe that any human beings should have been deprived of that light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. It is that light which lighteth every man, and which has lighted all the religions of the world, call them bookless or literate, human or divine, natural or supernatural, which alone can dispel the darkness of doubt and fear that has come over the world. What our age wants more than anything else is Natural Religion. Whatever meaning different theologians may attach to Supernatural Religion, history teaches us that nothing is so natural as the supernatural. But the supernatural must always be super-imposed on the Naturai. Supernatural religion without natural religion is a house built on sand, and when, as in our days, the rain of doubt descends, and the floods of criticism come, and the winds of unbelief and despair blow, and beat upon that house, that house will fall, because it was not founded on the rock of bookless religion, of natural religion, of eternal religion.
Conclusion. Allow me in a few words to recall to your memory the purpose of this course of lectures. It was to be a survey of the materials which exist, and many of which have but lately been brought to light, for studying the origin, growth, and, in many cases, the decay also of religious ideas.
In order to define the exact limits of our inquiry, it was necessary, first of all, to determine what ideas could properly be considered as religious ; and I had therefore to devote some of my early lectures to a definition of religion, and to an historical examination of the more important definitions of religion given by theologians and philosophers of different ages and different countries.
After that, I felt it incumbent upon myself to explain why I looked upon an historical treatment of religious ideas as the one most likely to lead to results of permanent value. I had to defend the Historical School against a very common misapprehension, as if the historian cared only about facts, without attempting to interpret them; and as if his interest even in these facts ceased the moment he approached his own time. The true object of the Historical School is to connect the present with the past, to interpret the present by the past, and to discover, if possible, the solution of our present difficulties, by tracing them back to the causes from which they
arose. It is surely no very bold assumption that the greatest thinkers of India, Persia, Greece, Rome, of the Middle Ages, and of the whole of Europe since the revival of learning, are at least as good as we ourselves, and that they who have been our teachers and masters may continue to be our guides, even though we may pass beyond the point which they had reached.
This is the position which I felt bound to defend against that other school of philosophers who seem to think that our own inner consciousness is not only, as we all admit, a very important source of information, but should be looked upon as the one and only source from which to draw a knowledge and understanding of Natural Religion. They surely forget that even that inner consciousness of theirs is but the surface of the human intellect, resting on stratum upon stratum of ancient thought, and often covered by thick layers of dust and rubbish, formed of the detritus in the historical conflicts between truth and error.
After having thus determined, first of all, what should form the special object of our study, and secondly, what I consider the best method of that study—after having defined, in fact, the What and the How—I felt free to proceed to a consideration of the materials for a proper study of Natural Religion, or what may be called the Wherewith of our study.
In order to proceed systematically, it seemed to me necessary to divide Natural Religion into three branches, according as what I call the Beyond or the Infinite was perceived in nature, in man, or in the self, and named accordingly in different ways.