ND   Jacques Maritain Center : Religion, Agnosticism, Education / by J.L. Spalding

I. Religion.

WHAT we call matter is known to us only when it has been sublimated in the soul's alembic, and so the visible universe is a symbol of the Infinite Spirit. Reason springs from conscious communion with the Eternal, the Absolute, the Perfect. Its roots are in the real and permanent, as distinguished from the apparent and transitory. Where there is no self-consciousness there is no truth, no goodness, no beauty. Self-consciousness is born of the union of subject and object. When we view the external world what we perceive is the impressions it makes on us. The self, then, being at once subject and object, grows in power and dignity in proportion to the worth of the things it habitually contemplates, and to the intimacy and completeness of its communion with them. Hence the value of life for each one is determined by the self, which makes him what he is; and the self is fed and fashioned by what he ponders, admires, loves, and does. If he lives for what is material merely, he has no true self, since the self is essentially spiritual. If he lives subservient to instinct and appetite he has but an animal, an apparent self. The element of the true self is moral freedom, which is born of obedience to reason and conscience, which exists for those alone who live in conscious communion with the Eternal Creative Spirit. When we think God we think ourselves in and with Him; are made conscious of the self as formed and nourished by the ideas of absolute truth, goodness, and beauty. Our first and deepest certainty is of the existence of this self, springing from the communion of the soul with God. We can know only what is akin to ourselves. Hence our knowledge is necessarily anthropomorphic; and our progress is a process of self-realization and of self-revelation. If we could attain perfection, we should find ourselves at one with God and whatever He creates. Were it possible to conceive a mode of being higher than the personal, it would be necessary to ascribe it to God, who is a person, but in a way infinitely above anything we can know. He transcends man so unimaginably, that, though we must say we are like Him, it seems little less than blasphemy to say He is like us. The likeness is true, but the difference is infinite. Nevertheless, it is the likeness we must contemplate if we hope to attain even a feeble knowledge of Him. Therefore we say -- He thinks, though His thoughts are not our thoughts; that He loves, but as we can never hope to love. We are akin to Him, yet even less than atoms are akin to worlds. This at least we may understand and feel -- that whatever in us is good and fair is so because it is of Him and for Him; that without Him there could be nothing; or, if so, nothing could have worth or meaning. If thought and love are possible, it is because He is with the thinker and the lover. If life is dear, it is because He is life. If progress is conceivable it is because He is the goal. If liberty is a boon, it is because He is free. If there is truth and beauty everywhere, it is because He is Supreme Intelligence. As there is no color where there is no sight; no sound, where there is no hearing, so where there is no intelligence, there is no intelligible world; and our ineradicable belief that all things exist and act in obedience to the law of causation is, at bottom, faith in God. In the spiritual life separation of the soul from its object is not conceivable, for it is a living soul through its union with that object. Its thought and will and love are not merely the thought and will and love of a particular mind, but the result of the thought and will and love of the Eternal. It is His organ. It has its being and action in Him, and its progress is not toward, but within Him. It moves in a sphere where what it contemplates is infinite and everlasting. Hence it feels the vanity of the world of the senses, the illusiveness of what passes, and knows that to be conscious of God's presence is to be higher and more than a universe of matter. Its relations to the Author of its being are essential. It lives not in itself, but in Him and in His intelligible world. To be itself it must draw life from what is not itself; for to be itself it must know itself; and to know itself is to be conscious of the Being from whom it proceeds and in whom it thinks and loves.

Animal life loses itself in the transitory experiences of sense: the soul finds itself in the consciousness of God's ever-during presence. Hence whatever concerns merely the sensuous nature -- as pleasure, avarice, and ambition -- lures the soul only to mock it. We gain what we seek but to find that it is nothing.

The finite, in a word, implies the infinite, the relative the absolute, even as the circumference implies the centre, and the life, power, and wisdom in the world imply an eternally living, wise, and mighty God, whose universe lies not apart from Him. The conscious communion of man with God and with nature, as it is transformed by the soul, is the vital source of religion. We perceive the limitations of our being, because we are immersed in God; we understand that our thought is partial, because we know that its true object is the Infinite; that our love is incomplete because we dimly discern the love that is perfect. We are related to God as the effect is related to the cause, as the child is related to the parent, and our existence, therefore, involves His Being. All things are ours to know and to love and to use, because He is with us and for us; because He is our Father, the Father not merely of our physical nature, but of whatever our endowments make us capable of, as truth, love, and goodness. Thus religion is necessary, not because it is useful or consoling, but because it is involved in the nature of man and in the nature of things. It is not a form in which we live and act, but spirit of our spirit, and life of our life. It is enrooted in the necessity which constrains whoever thinks or loves to transcend the limited and apparent, and to rise to the absolute and infinite. It is more than a doctrine and a cult -- it is life, life manifesting itself not in worship alone, but in science, art, morality, and civilization also. God is in all truth, love, and sympathy, in all the beauty and power, which are the spiritual bonds of men and the gladness of the world. Only what is evil is profane.

Whoever lives and labors for freedom, education, and progress, works with the heavenly Father for the good of all. Religion, therefore, is deep as God and wide as the sphere of human activity. It is more than words can express. It is morality, it is knowledge, it is freedom, it is reverence, it is faith and love, it is growth and progress, it is purity and helpfulness, it is strength and joy. It is the ruling power in the lives of individuals and of peoples; the gradual and increasing penetration of the world by the Divine Spirit of wisdom, sympathy, and truth. To morality it gives warmth and vigor. It nourishes the faculty of admiration and awe. It inspires the faith and hope which mould character, and it confers the capacity to take the high views of life which foster right feeling, without which little that is great or worthy can be accomplished; for the heart of man is controlled by feeling rather than by thought, by emotions more than by ideas. To be drawn to what is noble and great is a better fortune than to have merely an intellectual perception of truth and beauty, for attraction leads to union while the beholder stands aloof. We become part of all we love and sincerely strive for, and religion makes us capable of the self-surrender to the Infinite Being which is the purpose and end of our life, and in which alone we may find repose. On the one hand we are under the dominion of instinct and appetite; on the other, we are conscious of the impulse which urges to the life of knowledge and love. The objects of instinct and desire are particular and limited; the ends to which reason and religion point, universal and infinite. Appetite binds us to the feeling of the moment and to its immediate satisfaction: reason and religion move in the light of ideals and seek general and permanent good. To this abiding and real world which reason makes known, religion leads. Under the guidance of a living faith we see and feel that God is infinite, ever present truth, beauty, and love; and the soul is awakened to the higher consciousness and yearns to escape from the prison in which it is held by appetite and desire, that it may bathe in Life, which is the fountain head not only of its own being, but of the material universe itself. This impulse toward the divine is given by all religions, by those, even, which are the least free from the dross of error and passion, and the most infected by the taint of sin. The lowest tribe of savages would be still lower, did it not in some way, however crude or ludicrous its notions, have a sense of the awfulness of life and strive to express its consciousness of the dependence of the visible upon the unseen, which is the proper home of the human, of whoever thinks or hopes or loves.

But in the Christian religion this impulse is strongest and the results are the fairest and most beneficent.

The Invisible Power, who is above and within all that appears, of whose presence even rudimentary minds are dimly conscious, acts upon the soul most irresistibly, not when revealed as the Absolute, the Infinite, the Eternal, as almightiness, justice, and law, but when made known and brought home to us as the Supreme Good. Whatever we crave, whether it be pleasure or wealth or knowledge or strength or high place, draws us to itself because it is, or at least seems to be, good.

The good, however, manifests itself under various aspects. Whatever is useful, whatever is fair, whatever is harmonious, we call also good; for the useful, the fair, the harmonious, and the pleasant favor the development and free play of human endowments, promote fulness and variety of life; and they who provide all this, since they are helpers of men, are servants of God. But in a higher sense the good is what is right. It is the union of conscience with the will of God, with His holiness and love. A good man is doubtless useful, fair, and pleasant, but he is, above all, just, true, and beneficent. Hence the highest good lies within, and things are valuable in the degree in which they minister to inner worth. Life is most beautiful and noble, not when its environment is most splendid, but when it is nourished by the highest thought and the purest love.

Now the great revealer of the hidden sources of the best human life, which is also the divine, is Christ; not so much because he was the first to point to their existence, as because he alone has possessed the secret and the power to make men understand and feel their inestimable worth and charm. Before he taught, the prophets of Israel, and a few minds of exceptional insight elsewhere, had seen the vanity of all that is sensuous and transitory, and had recognized the soul and its need of the Eternal. The prophets had given expression to their visions in words which are all aglow with the light and warmth of inspiration: the philosophers had clothed their intuitions in language so high and chaste that their words remain forever clear and beautiful, and appeal at once to the intellect and the imagination. But the voice of the prophets died away in the midst of the desert, and the wisdom of the philosophers was narrowed and warped until it became the talisman of an inner circle, while the world moved on heedless or mocking.

To Christ alone has it been given so to deliver the truths of the divine life, as to thrill the hearts of his hearers, as to make them not his enthusiastic disciples and lovers alone, but the lovers of all men and the doers of all good. His presence draws and soothes and chastens the soul. He comes not like the prophets denouncing woe; he comes not like the philosophers arguing and defining; but he comes as from central depths of the Unseen, calm and gentle, wise and loving. In the sunlight, on the waters, amid the corn and the flowers, in the face of strife and treachery, in the agony of death itself he is undisturbed and serene, like one who in life's fretful dream rests on the bosom of the Eternal. The tranquil beauty of immortal things lies on him and breathes in his words. God is revealed when he appears; and when he speaks, the truth and love by which souls live are made known. He is a permanent personal influence, an ideal character to whom men turn and are conscious they are with the Highest. He is the model of pure and holy living. He is also an enduring impulse to the practice of whatever is true or right or kind or helpful. By the contemplation of his life mankind have been exalted and purified more than by the disquisitions of all the philosophers and the exhortations of all the moralists. He is so human that the poor and the ignorant and the little are at home with him. He is so divine that the highest and greatest minds who have lived since he was born have looked to him as to an unapproachable ideal.

With him can be compared no other being who has appeared on earth, whether we consider his character or his teaching or the results which have sprung from both: and this is seen to be so not by those alone who believe in him and love him, but by all who contemplate his life with clear-seeing eyes. Spinoza calls him the most perfect symbol of heavenly wisdom, and Hegel beholds in him the union of the human and the divine. "He is," says Strauss, "the highest object we can imagine, from the point of view of religion, the being without whose presence in the mind perfect piety is not possible." "The Christ of the Gospels," Renan declares, "is the most perfect incarnation of God, in the fairest of forms. His beauty is eternal; his reign will never end." He alone of men has claimed to be sinless, and he is the only great historic character in whose presence envy and calumny are silent, though he has done what the human heart is least willing to tolerate. He has asserted in the plainest words his own absolute worth. Socrates effaces himself in the presence of the truth he seeks; but Christ affirms his superiority to all men, his oneness with the Father, and demands the complete self-surrender, which manifests itself in unquestioning obedience and perfect love. He delivers not merely a doctrine and a method. He gives his life, and demands in return that they who believe in him be reborn, that through love of him they may be drawn away from themselves toward God and toward whatsoever things are true, are right, are pure, are fair. It is required of them that they gain an inner condition, a state of soul, in comparison with whose surpassing worth outward success or failure is not of any moment whatever.

The worship of the world and the possession of the kingdoms of earth cannot compensate for the lack of truth and love; for God is truth, and God is love. Truth makes us free: love makes us holy. Liberty and purity of soul -- the supreme good of man -- is the goal to which all Christ's teachings point. The truth he means is first of all a right knowledge of God and of ourselves. God is the Infinite Spirit by whom we are redeemed from the fatal sway of matter; the source of the consciousness, which, in spite of the intellect and in spite of scientific deductions, makes us feel and know that we belong to another and a higher world in which life is liberty. Of this divine principle love is the fine flower and fruit; for the joy and blessedness which freedom begets overflow in sympathetic emotion. The free soul, knowing God, knows by implication all things, and loving God, loves whatever He has made. Hence the Infinite Spirit is revealed to us as a heavenly Father. Like children about their home firesides, sheltered from storms and biting frosts, we are content and without fear, for around us are the everlasting arms of wisdom and love. This is the highest faith: to this whoever has received the divine gift must cling, for not God Himself could inspire a holier.

Love is His approval of His universe, and were He to give us the universe without His love it were but a bauble. Yet, when we look forth on the world with the knowledge of nature and history which the modern mind possesses, this faith is hard to hold. Natural laws are blind and pitiless: animal life is fed by destruction and death.

Whatever lives in the sea, in the air, on the earth is driven to kill and devour, and God seems deaf to the all-pervading and unending shriek of perishing victims. The human race, too, is made subject to the cruel dominion of brute force. The strong prevail; the weak are trodden under foot. Tribe destroys tribe; empire overthrows empire. Superstition leads to religious indifference, and religious indifference begets superstition. From wealth spring idleness and luxury, and in the indulgence of the sensual passions the joy of living is lost. Though misery and sin change their forms, the sorrow and the evil seem to grow in bitterness and intensity as self-consciousness and civilization advance. In the bewildering doubt and misgiving which the contemplation of such a world awakens, we may seek refuge in the belief in some original wrench by which the creature has been thrown out of harmony with the Creator; but the difficulty is merely removed farther away, not explained. That an infinite, absolute, omnipotent, all-wise and loving Being should create such a world as this is an unfathomable mystery. How or why it has come to be what it is, is relatively unimportant. It is what it is, and it were futile to attempt to make it appear to be other than it is. There are, we know, whom this world of sin and suffering impels to deny that the will of a perfect Being can be its cause. But the difficulties involved in such denial are more insuperable than those with which believers have to contend, and could such a view prevail, the loss to man's moral and aesthetic aspirations and needs, to his human life, would be inconceivably great. For it is faith in the spiritual content of life which makes hope and love possible, and prevents conscious existence from being a curse.

In a universe evolved from the unconscious, the life of thought and love could be but an excrescence, epiphenomenal and out of harmony with the nature of things. As we do not put intelligibility into nature, but find it there, as plainly as in the pages of a book, so we do not put goodness into life, but find it there. We are consequently driven to conceive of the cause of all that exists as intelligent and beneficent. Whatever is or appears is intelligible. Therefore, back of all is intelligence. Life is good; therefore its author is good. Religious knowledge, indeed, like all knowledge is inadequate. Grant that the ultimate essence of matter and spirit is unknown, that it can never be grasped by the human mind, the important inquiry is, Which of the two is better known? The reply must be that our knowledge of the spiritual is the more immediate and the more certain. Matter has been defined as a permanent possibility of sensations, as the hypothetical cause of states of consciousness. It cannot be understood or interpreted except in terms of mind, which is the subject of all experience. "Our one certainty," says Huxley, "is the existence of the mental world." The principle of causation, by which we explain nature, is like all principles, a principle of mind; and it necessarily involves the existence of a First Cause, of which we are compelled to conceive as being the Highest and the most Perfect, since whatever excellence is found in the effect must pre-exist in the cause; and as the Universe is a Cosmos, its First Cause must be a Supreme Intelligence. The power manifesting itself in consciousness is the Power within and above and before all things. A universe of mere matter is inconceivable; for to know is to be conscious of mind first, and of matter only as secondary and dependent. Phenomenon or appearance supposes at once a being that appears and a being that perceives the appearance; and instead of saying that we know only the phenomenal, it were truer to hold that all knowledge is of the real. The apparent reveals, rather than conceals the abiding reality. As a man's words and deeds make him manifest, so God bodies Himself forth in the minds and the nature He creates. What we know best is the interaction of minds; and the interaction of minds involves the being of a Supreme Mind, who is the living unity of all, who makes moral freedom, truth, goodness, and beauty possible, and the same for all. God, then, is the real content of reason, however impossible it be for us adequately to express His being.

We may never be able to reconcile the divine attributes, omnipotence as revealed in the universe, with infinite love as made known in and by Christ. The same contradictions run through all the categories of thought. But intellectual difficulties cannot make us doubt the essential truths of experience. We hold to the links that are in our hands, however unable we be to grasp the complete chain. To those who are in the normal condition, who believe in God and the soul, Christ addresses his life and words, and the response he evokes is the great fact in the history of mankind. It is truth to say that with his birth a world dies, and with his death a world is born.

His name is the one most alive on earth; and his teaching, for the progressive and civilized peoples, is the way, the truth, and the life. His discourse, which is as unique as his personality, still appeals to men, however dissimilar in thought and character, with a force and freshness which have never belonged to the words of sage or poet. The meaning he has given to the word, love, as the highest symbol and expression of the soul's deepest need and most perfect attitude toward God and man, has filled the world with light and with the fervor and glow of diviner enthusiasm. The idea of one only God, wise and good, self-existing, almighty, the Creator and Father of all, is doubtless found in the Hebrew Scriptures; but when Christ bids us pray "Our Father, who art in Heaven," a new revelation is made. Electricity was not unknown to the ancients. For them it was a strange and meaningless phenomenon. But held in the grasp of the modern mind it utters the words and deeds of men to the farthest ends of the earth, lights their homes and cities, and carries them whithersoever it is bidden. It is made to lay hold on matter and fashion it to every serviceable use, and in its mysterious power we feel there is the promise of marvels of which we as yet hardly dream. In like manner before Christ was born the true God was proclaimed, but the voice died amid the hills and valleys of Palestine or was heard as but an echo in the schools of the philosophers. He alone has had power so to utter the Divine Name as to thrill the general heart. He alone has opened the heavens, has unsealed the everlasting fount of life and love, and established an eternal foundation for faith and hope. Henceforth the God who gleams on the mind along the pathway of the stars is known and felt to be also the Infinite Spirit who urges the human soul to wider knowledge and purer love; who is above, around, within us; near alike when we sorrow and when we rejoice; when we think, when we believe, when we yearn, and even when we -fail; the nourisher of every pure affection, the approver of every unselfish deed; the changeless will behind duty's inexorable behest, the tireless sympathy which waits to throw about a froward and erring child the healing arms of infinite charity. The words of Jesus fall like manna from heaven, and henceforth the soul of man is haunted by God, and all victory is defeat, all glory is shame, all wealth is poverty, if His seal and approval be not set upon them.

What He most loves is purity of heart, openness to light, a mild, a reverent, a lowly, and a helpful spirit. His sympathy is with the perfection of individual men. He is the Father and Lover of souls; and to be thankful, to be joyful, to be repentant, to be forgiving, is to be near to Him who is all in all, who spreadeth abroad the heavens and the earth, who out of evil bringeth good, who giveth peace. Religion is no longer chiefly a national or a social interest: it is first and above all a personal concern. He best serves his country who makes himself true, heroic, and godlike.

To the true self, with its infinite possibilities, Christ makes appeal, setting it over against the false self of instinct, appetite, and passion. In the ceaseless and all-pervading conflict in which a man's self is at once a combatant and the field of battle, he stands forth as the divinely appointed heavenly leader. In love and self-renouncement he walks before, showing that in this way, and in this way alone, is it possible to rise above the particular objects and immediate satisfactions of desire, and to identify our life with the life of God and with the ever-widening and deepening life of mankind, until each one may say with St. Paul, "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me," until each may feel that the will of the Father in heaven is that all men be one, even as He and His divine Son are one.

The principle of self-activity does not lie in the will alone nor in the intellect alone, but in their union, from which spring the emotions and affections that impel the whole man to think and to do. What we believe and love, more than what we understand, moulds character and shapes destiny; and had Christ been content to place God before us simply as the highest object of reason, he might have established a school of philosophy; he could not have founded a religion: for though religion is both knowledge and conduct, knowledge and conduct to be religious must be uplighted by the glow of a living faith and suffused with emotion. The devout soul cares little for thoughts and arguments about God, but feels His presence everywhere with ecstasy and delight, with a thrill of boundless joy and love; whereas the intellectual temper tends to weaken the feelings which are the life of virtuous and heroic action. Noble living is nourished by personal, not by logical influences, and Christ had been a teacher in vain had His words not been power and grace and peace, touching the heart, exalting the imagination, and awakening in man's whole being a sense of liberation and refreshment. He devolves the whole function of religion on love. "Too much love there can never be."

Were love not supreme, the universe could not be fair, nor life good. For this reason, it may be, he chooses his disciples and apostles among the simple and unlearned, whose hearts are fresh, whose minds are honest, whose sense of divine things has not been deadened by indulgence, nor warped by intellectual perversity. In them, if on earth, we shall find enthusiastic devotion, good-will, zeal, cheerful service, and an unselfish temper; for in the common people there is an inexhaustible fountain of faith, hope, and love. They rest on the bosom of nature and trust the God who is its author. They ask little, and are grateful for the smallest; they can suffer long and endure uncomplainingly. They are the last to doubt the worth and sacredness of life, though on them its burdens press most heavily. They believe in goodness and wisdom, and gladly obey those in whom they find the inner wholeness and natural superiority by which authority and government are made acceptable. Hence he is born of the people, leads his life among them, knows their infirmities and sorrows, and is as one of them, save that he is without sin. When they look to the Highest they see that He is level with those who toil and are poor. In Him they find not only a scheme of life, but life itself embodied in a Being of infinite truth, loveliness, and purity. His virtue is not only real, but it is pleasant, also, and fair, the one indispensable condition of right human life.

They who seek first with all their hearts the kingdom of God and His righteousness, receive also strength and peace and joy, and whatever else is desirable or excellent. They seek wisdom, and they gain knowledge. They follow love, and they find blessedness. They aim at what is right, and what is delightful becomes theirs. They toil and suffer for others, and the worth and sacredness of life is made plain to them. They throw themselves upon the Eternal, and lo! the best temporal gifts are showered on them. The poor and lowly minded whom Christ lifts to his high world are precisely those who, if the divine principle be taken out of their lives, are fatally thrown back on the coarse sensuality and animal indulgence in which alone the vulgar have satisfaction.

When he comes to them as the Son of man who is at the same time the Son of God, he gives them a new conception of deity and a new ideal of humanity. Since God is the Father of all, all are brothers. In loving and serving our brothers whom we see, we love and serve God whom we see not. The supernatural communion and intercourse between the divine and the human, makes all who bear God's truth and mercy to the world His ministers.

From the kingdom of heaven within us, a kingdom of heaven unfolds and establishes itself around us. A new fellowship is established, a society whose bond is the Holy Spirit, whose head is the Saviour, who yielded to death, that he might attest the supremacy of life, by wresting victory from the hands of the all-destroyer. In this home of souls there is welcome for all without distinction; for on all the love of the heavenly Father rests, and to save all His Son came into the world, emptying himself of his divinity, that he might stoop to the lowest and pass no sorrow by; that he might become the servant of all, walking through the waste and rugged places, seeking and finding the lost sheep, and bearing him to the fold guarded by the arms of a boundless love; that he might touch the heart of the prodigal and waken him to a sense of his high descent; that he might bend over the wounded and abandoned, pouring the healing balm of divine mercy, that he might speak words of absolution to the woman whom man's lust had betrayed.

Through the long lapses of ages, filled with the woes and desolations wrought by the brutality and ignorance of man, I see thee, O my Jesus, and I know that God is, and that He is love. A noble sympathy, a divine enthusiasm, manifesting itself in pure conduct and in eagerness to serve and suffer, is what henceforth is demanded of those who would tread in the footsteps of the Son of God. They must feel that for them He is more than the love of father and mother, than wife and children. The human passion is overmastered by the divine. The narrowness of tribal and national religions widens into a catholic faith and a universal morality. What in dream and vision the prophetic soul of Israel had caught glimpses of, what the loftiest minds of Greece and Rome had recognized as a theory or a principle, must now be wrought into the hearts and consciences of men. A power arises, which, resting on permanent elements of human nature, is destined to grow into a world-wide spiritual empire. It is to be the city of God, the home of His children, the refuge of the persecuted, the asylum of the outcast, the fortress of those who intrench themselves to battle for freedom and right. Its valiant men shall break the chains of the slave and loosen every yoke; they shall be the messengers of glad tidings to the people; they shall bear the light of faith and the wine of joy to those who languish in the darkness and fetters of sin; the poor shall hear them and take heart; kings shall be their servants. The nations shall no longer toil for vanity and the flames which devour; and there shall be but one God and Father of all, whose temple is the universe, whose service is righteousness, whose worship is love. To make real this divine ideal the noblest and most generous shall henceforth live and die. The Spirit of the Lord is on them. The urgency of the twofold commandment of love impels them to consecrate their lives to the highest service. As they yearn for the best gifts, they long to make others partakers of them also. Every human being becomes for them interesting and sacred, for in each one, in the midst of whatever defilement and degradation, they behold a child of God and a brother of Christ. Since a human brain held his thoughts, and a human heart his love, humanity is holy, and the proudest may stoop to wash the beggar's sores or to whisper words of cheer to the fallen, and be thereby exalted. As he knew that he could lift the most debased and sin-defiled to his own level, as he said to all, "Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect," so they who love him, live and labor to bring forth, in individual men and in society, his likeness, his thought, his humanity, his purity, his reasonableness, his utter trust in the care and guidance of the Father in heaven, until all understand and feel that it shall and must be well with a world which God makes and guides.

The highest achievement, not merely of the individual but of the race itself, is a perfect character; and since Christ is the only being in whom this ideal has become real, he stands apart above all other men and so near to God in his humanity, even, that the only satisfactory explanation of his life and work is found in his own words, when he says, "The Father and I are one." His abiding personal influence has created a religion, a morality, a civilization, which mankind, by a common consent, have agreed to call by his name, and which believer and skeptic alike hold to be the highest, the purest, and the most beneficent. Though he taught but for a brief time in a remote and obscure corner of the earth, he has become the Supreme Teacher of men, the best of whom still pass their lives in pondering his words and in striving to knead their truth into the innermost fibres of their being.

There are but two other founders of world-religions -- Mohammed and Buddha. Mohammed we may pass in silence by. In Buddha, indeed, there lives a beautiful spirit. There is in him a sympathy, a tenderness, a pity almost divine. But he knows no God, no immortal life, no infinite hope; and his religion, therefore, is a religion of despair, with earth for its hell and heaven eternally empty. He is in love with death, as Christ with life; and they are as far apart as nothingness from the quickening heart of the Infinite Father. The Christian is not merely a world-religion, it is the absolute religion; and Christ is the Divine Word become incarnate. If it be held that religion is morality, his is the purest; if emotion, his is the tenderest; if knowledge, his is the highest; if freedom, his is the most real; if likeness to God, his is the most perfect; if reverence, his is the deepest; if progress, his is the most genuine; if worship, his is the most spiritual; if love, his is the most spiritual.

It is obvious to object that the world in which we now live, after nineteen centuries of Christian influence, presents scarcely more than a caricature of the ideal here contemplated. There is in it little of the enthusiasm, of the largeness of purpose, of the greatness of thought wedded to greatness of soul; little of the warm spontaneous devotion to what is eternally true and good; little of the valiant suffering for others, which go to the making of our conception of Christ. How often is what we call faith in him a cause of hatreds and dissensions; how narrow our sympathies, how cheerless our view of the future, how morose our spirit, how vexatious and disheartening the restrictions and prohibitions by which we strive to stem life's current in things innocent. He seems to be almost as far above and beyond us to-day as he was above and beyond the world into which he was born nineteen hundred years ago. But however remote we still be from the ideal he has given us, which is himself, when we look back we see that the world has moved, if slowly, nevertheless certainly, toward God.

Ambition, greed, and lust, indeed, still lay waste the earth, still lame the church; rulers, civil and ecclesiastic, are often weak and reckless and blind, if not corrupt. Nations still oppress and crush the weaker peoples; but when we turn to the past, we perceive that, in spite of the evil which is everywhere, progress has been made. If we consider individuals, thousands are now holy for one who in ancient times was merely virtuous. Thousands merge their lives in the general good for one who but sought to obtain for himself an illumined mind and a tranquil heart. Thousands have confidence that God's will shall prevail on earth, that the kingdom of heaven shall come, for one who of old entertained visions of some more perfect city; and this saintliness, this unselfishness, this sublime trust, is found not chiefly among the rich and cultivated, but, above all, among the poor and overburdened. The moral standard has been raised, and the good man is no longer simply one who abstains from wrong, but one who, like Christ, goes about to serve and to help. The prohibitive code which prevailed in Israel has been transformed into the law of loving, beneficent action. Man has become conscious of his deathless spirit; feels that even now he is immortal; that the destroyer but rends the vesture and leaves the soul unscathed; that the essential evil, therefore, is not death, but sin.

In the midst of the life-weariness, of the hopeless doubt, of the indifference to human wrongs and sufferings, in the midst of the slime and blood in which the pagan world was perishing, an inexhaustible fountain of faith, hope, and love, of God-like life, broke forth. The soul was dipped in the Eternal and felt the thrill of the Infinite.

The narrowness of the Jew, the immorality of the Greek, the cruelty of the Roman, were the foes of life; and behold! here is a new race of men, coming with the salutation never heard before, "Christ is risen!" and they break down the walls of separation, they wash away the stains of sin, and they teach humanity to the heartless.

They bear within themselves the seed of a new earth and a new heaven, the germs of a freer and purer religious, domestic, social, and political life, which are destined to transform the thought and faith, the liberty and virtue, of the world. The agencies by which the whole race shall be uplifted and purified are persons, the men and women who, sprung, for the most part, from the common people, know and love Christ; who, under the impulse given by this knowledge and love, become centres of divine influence, saints, martyrs, reformers, liberators, founders, and builders in the heavenly kingdom; who are mighty, not because they are clothed with authority or possessed of great wealth, but because they are devoted, unselfish, gentle, helpful, chaste, and heroic.

They have one faith, they pursue one aim. They follow one Lord and Master, and yet they represent many types. They are as unlike as St. John and St. Paul, as St. Francis and St. Thomas of Aquino, as Gregory the Seventh and Columbus. Their gifts, their offices, their works, are various. They fulfil the divine will in many ways. They are men of action: they are men of contemplation. They found and they build; they lead and they rule. They are the pioneers in whatever is right and helpful. They are philosophers, poets, and orators; they are kings and lawgivers. They drain the swamp, they fell the forest, they hold the plough. They are painters and architects. They sweep and they cook. They teach little children and they give counsel to the rulers of the world. They are found in the midst of savage tribes, by the side of the dying, in hospitals and asylums, and in whatever refuges poor stricken human beings seek for solace and forgiveness, more in place in such company than in the palaces of the rich. They are the most faithful friends, the most steadfast patriots, the readiest to die in any worthy cause. They can wear a beggar's garb and not be degraded, an emperor's crown and not be elated. In exile they are at home; in the agonies of death they are with God. Christ Jesus is the only being who has lived on earth, who the more he is loved and followed the more he is felt to be the everlasting truth and beauty of the Eternal Father.

A religion in which love is the all in all, the one word which expresses God's being must redeem woman from her historic hell. Who loved Christ like his mother? Whose lips kissed his bleeding feet? Whose heart drank his last sigh? Whose soul first divined the risen Lord? Woman, the world's queen of sorrows, looks on him whom love has crowned with infinite sorrow, and is consoled. Her influence shall widen through the centuries, now that he has encircled her with mystic light, and men shall be drawn evermore to mildness, to patience, to purity, to reverence. The home, which is her sanctuary, receives a higher consecration, and angels watch over the little ones, whether hidden in her bosom or laughing with arms about her neck. Slowly breaking through densest clouds the truth dawns, that man's rights are woman's rights, and that what is wrong for her is wrong for him; that both alike have brains to be illumined by great thoughts and hearts to be thrilled by pure and tender emotions.

In this unfolding of a nobler humanity, whoever is weak shall be protected, whoever is oppressed shall be made free. Slavery shall be abolished, the ignorant shall be taught, employment shall be given to the idle, and a home provided for the fatherless. In the presence of vice and crime, where men who look facts in the face are overcome by a sense of helplessness, almost of despair, they who know and love Christ shall be filled with the spirit of confidence which is born of mercy and sympathy, of the charity which "beareth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, never faileth." If the halt, the blind, and the leprous follow Christ, he follows after the sinful. He has come into the world to call sinners to repentance, that they may be saved not from bodily decay, but from essential death, which is that of the soul. Who that sees him face to face with the woman taken in adultery; who that hears the words he speaks to Magdalen when with her hair she wipes his tear-stained feet; who that is near when he bids Zacchaeus descend from the tree; who that is within reach of the prodigal's voice when he cries: "I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, Father, I have sinned;" who is there that seeing or hearing this is not forevermore not only a lover of Jesus, but a believer also in the conversion of sinners? His divine sympathy gives insight, and the world at length perceives and understands that the fallen woman, the thief, the murderer, are not wholly without excuse; but that part of their guilt must be thrown on the environment in which they have been reared and perverted. The home, the state, the church, the social life are responsible. They exist not for themselves, but for the sake of man, and when they become faithless to their divine end they must be purified and reformed. Their wealth, their worldly sway, the pomp and splendor of their circumstances are relatively unimportant. That which is important is the efficacy with which they develop right human life, the life of thought and love, of faith and aspiration, of hope and courage.

The all-overmastering nature and worth of life Christ has revealed, and slowly and painfully the world is gaining insight into the truth and regenerative efficacy of his teaching and doing. His aim and end is that men may have life, more abundant life. He is not a Buddhist in love with death; not a Mohammedan preaching an unending round of pleasures. For him, the life of the sensualist is a drunken life, without thought or love. We are as we think and feel, and if our thoughts and loves be low, so are we. Life is the standard of all values, since nothing has worth except for the living. If all things are for man, man is man by virtue of the life there is in him. Hence if we teach truth, it is for the sake of life; if we reveal beauty, it is for the sake of life; if we battle for justice and liberty, it is for the sake of life; if we struggle for mastery over nature, it is for the sake of life. The essential thing in Christ is his life. His doctrines and ministries flow forth from what he is, and are true and serviceable in the degree in which they draw us to him. The attractive forces are faith, sympathy, reverence, and love; not philosophical or theological ideas and arguments. The truth he brings is in his life more essentially than in his words. If we become one with him, we shall understand his doctrines and obey his commandments. Hence though he recognizes the indispensable need of authority, his first and final appeal is to the individual conscience.

As the offer of the kingdoms of the world does not tempt him, so, when he establishes his own kingdom, whose foundations lie within the soul, he seems hardly to think at all of aught that is external. The Roman Empire rises in majesty and strength before him; under its vast dominion he lives and is put to death; but his only reference to it is the phrase: "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." He is not impressed by the wealth and glory, the military power and widespreading rule of Rome.

The religion of Israel, with its ceremonial worship, its ancient authority, and venerable traditions, is everywhere around him; he himself is a faithful observer of all that the law and the prophets inculcate, and yet if on his lips we ever catch the tone of indignation and scorn, it is when he is in the presence of the scribes and the Pharisees, of the priests and the Levites, of the men for whom religion was little more than a ceremony, a formality, a fair exterior meant to hide the hardness, the pride, the greed, the jealousy, that work within, destroying the soul. He turns from them to the company of sinners, to speak to Magdalen the words of gracious pardon which still fall like a healing balm on the hearts of millions. His life is hidden in God -- he goes back to the inner sources of truth and power. There is open to all a fountain of everlasting refreshment, and shall we drink from sloughs filled with the sewage of our baser natures? The most wonderful of the miracles of Christ is the enthusiastic devotion he has never ceased to inspire.

Human love is chiefly instinct and requires the bodily presence of its object; but the soul, when it loves, finds the beloved everywhere, for in all times and places it dreams of him, hears his voice, and lives to do his will. His absence is the condition which makes possible his fuller spiritual presence. He is felt the nearer because invisible; he is followed the more devotedly because nothing but faith and love commands obedience and loyalty. The temporal life of Christ is but the point on which he rests the fulcrum with which he moves the general heart of mankind. While in the body, even the greatest accomplish little. It is when they have departed and become a spiritual force that the world is brought by slow degrees to perceive the divine element there is in their works and words. The mightiest and the most beneficent are those whose influence after their death is the most abiding, the strongest, the most purifying, and the most liberating. If we apply this test, what Christ has done and continues to do outweighs all that the heroes, the sages, and the saints, the men of science and the men of action, have accomplished. He has not made known to us the laws of matter; he has not invented the machinery which is so mighty an engine in our daily existence: but he has revealed the sources of true human life, which all lie within; he has inspired a diviner faith and hope and love, by which we chiefly live, if we live in the mind, in the heart, in the conscience, and in the imagination. Were it possible to trace the course of atoms in orderly sequence from star-dust to the brain of man, no light would be thrown on the everlasting Wherefore of it all, and this alone is of supreme and infinite interest. Were it possible for existence to flow on in an unending succession of agreeable sensations, such a life would finally pall and become torture. Happiness is born, not of the knowledge of the behavior of atoms, not of animal comforts and pleasures, but of right loving and doing, of labors nobly borne, of duties well fulfilled. For the fully conscious soul, a paradise of delights would be little better than a hell. Love and righteousness are joy, are peace and blessedness, in adversity as in prosperity, in suffering and sorrow as in ease and gladness. Man's inability to find contentment and repose in anything the senses purvey, is the soul's witness to its supremacy in human life, to its kinship with God. In the midst of a universe of matter it is athirst for the fountain of its being, for the eternally living One. It prospers in the degree in which it turns from the sensual to the spiritual. To live at all it must live for truth, for justice, for beauty, for goodness, for love. If this were denied it, it would languish and starve, though all that the teeming continents produce were heaped for its enjoyment It bemocks kings and conquerors and rich men and all who do not follow after truth and love, by which alone it is nourished. All else is appearance; this is the everlasting reality. It is in this permanent divine world that Christ lives; it is this he reveals to the mind and conscience of the race; and the supreme miracle is that he has never lost, can never lose, the power to awaken in innumerable multitudes the consciousness of God's presence in the soul. As the living is superior to the inanimate; as a man who thinks is higher than the whole brute creation; even so is Christ -- who makes us capable of knowing and loving the Eternal Father, in a way the secret of which no other has ever possessed -- the greatest of all who have lived on earth. It is, of course, possible to take a merely material or animal view of life, to throw oneself wholly into the things of sight and taste and touch, to give oneself to the accumulation of wealth and to the indulgence of appetite, driving away obtrusive thoughts by refusing to entertain them, or by having recourse to a plausible subterfuge, as for instance: We know and can know only what the senses reveal. It is possible, in a word, deliberately to turn away from religion, to refuse to give it a place in one's thoughts, hopes, aspirations, and strivings; as it is not only possible, but easy to lead the life of instinct and passion rather than that of reason and love. But if one is persuaded that God is more than a name, that He is the infinitely real Being, apart from whom all is emptiness and confusion, then must he believe that the paramount and all-important thing in a man's life is his religion. All else is temporary, incidental, evanescent; the vesture in which the soul clothes itself, for brief space to play its part amidst things visible.

Of religion absolute and final Christ Jesus is in himself the abiding realization. A more intimate, a more holy, a more joyful relation to God than he in his manhood makes manifest is not conceivable. Is there a higher life than the life of love and righteousness? Is there a diviner worship or holiness than that which is born of the inmost sense that God is our Father and that our sole business is to do His will? Since God is, why should a man crave aught else than to do His will? If He were not, why should man trouble himself about anything? Without Him would not all that exists be a mist, a shadow, a mockery? Seek Him with all thy heart: if thou find Him, all is well; if not, nothing can be well. The alternative is excluded from the thought of Christ. He knows that God is, and is certain that to know and love Him is life everlasting. But since He is forever beyond our reach, to know and to love Him is to grow forever in aspiration and in deed nearer to His infinite perfection. This is the essence of religion, and other things are religious in the degree in which they help to this end. This is the thought of Christ, and from this point of view there is nothing true or good or great or beautiful which may not be brought into harmony with the divine will.

As all things proclaim the glory of God, a right intention may convert all things to His service. Philosophy, literature, science, and art may be made the means of advancing His kingdom. Whatever beneficent force is at work in the world, in society, in politics, in commerce, may be brought to co-operate with the church to build His city, to make prevail His will, which is good-will to all that He has made, and above all, to the intelligent creatures by whom He may be known and revered. Indeed, the welfare and progress of the church depend largely on the thoroughness with which these secular powers perform their tasks. Temporal prosperity can, of course, never be more than incidental in a scheme which primarily regards interests that are eternal. The radical aim, the ideal, is the kingdom of heaven, and if this be rightly sought and striven for, whatever else may be helpful or desirable shall likewise be attained. Who seeks wisdom finds knowledge, who seeks virtue acquires ability. Upon those who thirst for purity of heart, for righteousness, peace and joy overflow.

The proof of the love of God, which is the essence of the religion of Christ, is the love of man. Only those who feel a divine sympathy, a sacred enthusiasm for humanity are true disciples of the Son of Man. They in whom this holy fervor glows will look upon themselves as devoted to a service consecrated by the example and precept of the Saviour, who went about doing good to men; whose miracles are miracles of compassion for all who toil and are overburdened by disease, by poverty, by sorrow, and by sin; who said that his followers would be known by the love they bear one another. Whatever enlightens, strengthens, and purifies human nature; whatever helps men to lead a larger, freer, holier life; whatever establishes and sanctifies the home; whatever promotes the peace and order of society; whatever enables man to bend the forces of nature to minister to the common weal, is in harmony with the teachings and purposes of Christ. Science, which in so many ways is man's mightiest servant, -- bringing, as it does, a more perfect revelation of the vastness and splendor of God's works, and teaching His children to convert an ever-increasing part of the illimitable energy of the universe to the moral ends for which all things exist, -- is also a messenger of the glad tidings which resounded through the heavens when Christ was born. It is a form of the truth which liberates from ignorance and superstition, from the bonds of matter and the chains of penury, from the foes that lurk unseen in the world of the infinitesimally small, and from the dividing and imprisoning walls built by time and space, if not from greed and lust.

Certainly whatever may be used may be abused; and there is abuse whenever the visible temporal vesture of the soul is sought and prized for its own sake, and treated as an end, since it can be but a means for beings endowed with a principle of immortal life. To this danger all who are greatly influenced by the ideals of culture, of secularism, and of material progress are exposed. Religion has an existence of its own, born of the conscious communion of the soul with God, and it may do its work without the aid of culture, independently of the comforts and luxuries which man's increasing power over the forces of nature enables him to provide. It can dispense with culture and impart to unlettered minds the spiritual sense which gives insight into the best that has been or can be known and said, while it strengthens them to live with what is eternally true and good, to love purity and mildness, to cherish humility, to walk bravely in the path of duty, to perform cheerfully and perseveringly the hundred little things, which if done in a right spirit, issue in a character of which God and all wise men approve. It can create a disposition that makes one forget that he lacks comforts and luxuries, a disposition, indeed, which is found in all who are deeply in earnest, -- in heroic soldiers, in great artists, great students, in all who are wholly bent upon success of whatever kind, even as it is found in those who for the love of Christ devote themselves to the service of their fellow-men. But though religion thrives in the midst of peoples that are poor, whose wants are few, who have little intellectual cultivation, whose tastes are primitive, its truth and beauty and power may be appreciated best by the most enlightened minds. It accepts, therefore, the ideals of culture and comfort; and assigns to them nobler meanings and diviner uses. It is a principle of reconcilement, bringing order and harmony into what were else but confusion and discord. It makes plain to whoever will attend that to live for the highest spiritual ends is to live most wisely for the things that are temporal and material; that to those who seek first with all their hearts the kingdom of God, nothing which goes to the making of right human life shall be lacking; that the indispensable condition of progress in knowledge, in virtue, in power, in well-being of whatever kind, is a resolute turning from the tyranny of instinct, appetite, and passion, to place oneself with freedom and deliberation under the dominion of reason and conscience.

They who recognize God's presence in nature and in man, find in Him the principle which constitutes the self a unity in duality, and carries all things, however diverse, however contradictory they may appear to be, into harmony with His absolute will and purpose. Faith springs from reason, and reason is confirmed by faith. All things are for life, and life is for the sake of truth and love, which in God are the infinite living reality. Both religion and culture have perfection for their ideal. The method of each is educational. That of religion is self- abandonment, that of culture self-estrangement; and the end to which each looks is the attainment of a larger, a more complete, a more enduring self. Self-realization is possible only through self-repression and self-alienation. If we hope to reach the higher, we must quit the lower. If we are to become able to lead a life of righteousness and service, we must learn to control appetite and make private interests subservient to the general good.

If we wish to gain the wider view, to see things as they are, we must accustom ourselves to stand aloof from them. Religion deepens and purifies; culture broadens and refines human life. Religion gives seriousness, purpose, courage, strength; culture gives openness and flexibility, a disinterested curiosity in the things of the mind, a fine discernment of what is beautiful, proper, or becoming. One may be genuinely religious and yet be narrow, hard and unreasoning; one may have culture and be superficial, unreal, a dilettant, a dreamer. But religion as it lives in the works and words of Christ is full of mildness, modesty, and reasonableness; and it is the business of culture to foster such a disposition, as it is its business to teach patience, forbearance, tolerance, consideration for others. The highest moral culture is most surely found in the most devoutly Christian souls, whereas the mental discipline which makes the scholar is often lacking in the greatest theologians. The work they have to do would be done more effectually had they the gifts which culture alone confers; for, when there is question of presenting the most profound, the most commanding, the most indispensable truths for the acceptance of the greatest possible number of human beings, no art, no skill, no accomplishment, by which the imagination can be exalted, the mind persuaded, or the heart moved and inflamed, may be neglected or considered unimportant. They who have to guide others along steep and perilous paths should see not only the obstacles and difficulties which are before them, but they should be able to take a comprehensive view of the whole journey and provide for every need and contingency.

Culture assuredly may be made an efficient auxiliary of religion, though it cannot be a substitute for it. It may be a corrective of the narrowness of science and of the exclusiveness of sectarianism; a remedy for intellectual inferiority, for vulgarity of manners, for lack of intelligence; a means to impress the general mind with a sense of the inadequacy of machinery and the insufficiency of riches; to help men to see that the ideal is spiritual, not material; that human perfection consists in an internal condition, not in an abundance of possessions; that if one is not good or great or wise in himself, no environment can make him worthy of interest or love or admiration; that a man's real concern is not the acquisition of more and more, but the tempering of his soul, the formation of his spirit and character. Now, in doing or in aiming to do something of all this, who shall say that culture does not make for what religion also must propose and strive to accomplish? When we say that it is not the size of its cities, not the length of its railways, not the quantity or the quality of its corn or its cotton that makes a country great, but the inner worth of its citizens, -- their intelligence, their character, their gentle and polite behavior, their upright and generous dealings in all the relations of life, -- we speak in the name both of religion and of culture.

But culture is not indispensable to religion, whereas religion is indispensable to culture, if culture is to be more than a pursuit in which the few who have leisure and exceptional talent make the education of the intellect and the aesthetic faculty their chief aim. More than almost any other theory of life, it tends, if it rest not on the foundation of religion, to become unreal, and therefore ineffectual and disappointing. It becomes but a higher form of worldliness; and worldliness ends in disenchantment and despair.

As we are driven to refer all that appears to an invisible cause, so are we impelled to seek the meaning, worth, and end of the life we lead here in the life that is unseen and eternal. If we refuse or are unable to do this, we shall find, however much we cultivate ourselves, that the stream on which we are borne is carrying us to a frivolous or a gloomy philosophy, whose principle is that nothing matters, since all Is empty and valueless. We stand aloof from the divinest struggles of humanity and shut ourselves in a prison of books and pictures. Culture, if it be not religious, hopes to realize the ideal of perfection by knowing; and it can be realized only by believing and hoping, by loving and doing. Its standard is intellectual and aesthetic, and it therefore has little sympathy with the multitude who are not and can never be either intellectual or aesthetic. It turns from sin, not because sin is condemned by conscience, but because it offends good taste; and like the Hellenism it loves, its feet are turned toward the temples of the goddess of Lubricity, as the feet of Science stand in the temples of Mammon. For the one, life is an art; for the other, it is a commercial enterprise. Culture without religion leads to dilettantism, inefficiency, and unchastity; Science without religion leads to materialism and the tyrannies of greed and sensuality.

Religion, not philosophy nor culture nor science, first set up the ideal of a kingdom of God on earth, which shall be fashioned more and more into the likeness of that of the blessed in heaven; a kingdom which is not a polity or state, but divine rule; not merely a course of life, but an animating principle, diffusing itself through the world, and transforming individual and social life. Ideas are the ultimate realities, the thoughts of God which His will makes the substance of things; they are the presuppositions of religion, science, art, and government. They create institutions whose vitality is determined by that of the truth they embody.

Christ has not invented a new faith: he has revealed the laws of the Eternal Kingdom, laws, not begotten of man, and which oblivion shall never put to sleep. He manifests truths and facts which are permanent, which are essential to the highest and the profoundest view of life. All human powers are embraced within his scope. He is favorable to all the legitimate efforts of individuals and nations, and enters into the course of their development as an added impulse and a consecrating influence. His end is the salvation of the soul, the development of character, the binding up of man's being into the Divine Image. He throws a light from heaven on even the darkest phases of existence, giving a meaning to suffering and a mission to sorrow. Knowledge cannot reach to the measure of his wisdom; love cannot transcend his infinite tenderness and mercy. If progress may pass beyond the all-knowing, all-providing Father, then may the human race outgrow the religion of Christ. If we are to continue to advance, not merely in the knowledge of natural laws and in the accumulation of wealth, but as moral beings, more and more shall we be controlled and fashioned by his ideas and ideals; more and more shall righteousness be made the aim and the means of government. The state depends on the character of its citizens rather than on its laws and organization; and character is moulded and perfected, not by enactments, but by the personal influence of right-minded and right-doing men and women, who are the power by which religion and morality are made permanent and vital.

Good men make good institutions; good institutions do not make good men. They who lose character lose the power, not merely to govern themselves, but to be rightly governed. Probably this may be seen to be true more plainly in a democracy than in other political constitutions. Now, the Christian life, the Christian character, is the most vital social influence, the most enduring social bond. It is this that has made possible what is best in our actual world; it is this that must foster, sustain, and perfect the individual and the family, the Church and the State, if we are to preserve and increase our rich inheritance, and hasten the coming of the kingdom of God in ourselves and in the world around us.

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