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polygamy may suit a race in a certain stage of its development and may in that stage, lead to purer living and surer moralgrowth than its prohibition, may be granted. But, necessarily, a religion which incorporates in its code of morals any such allowances stamps itself as something short of the final religion.”
Professor Max Müller, the most famous of all the students on these themes, has said that, “ However highly we prize our Christianity we never prize it highly enough until we have compared it with the religions of the rest of the world.”'
Men realize that in the stress and interchange of modern civilization the best religion must come to the front. It is the mission of Christianity to draw nations out of their seclusion, to generate eager inquiry throughout all the world. The nonChristian faiths are not permitted to remain at ease, and the ultimate result of the agitation seems to me not in the least uncertain. Our survey
makes it clear that if we should take away from modern civilization the intellectual, the moral, the spiritual, and the social effects which have come directly and indirectly from the spirit and teaching of Jesus Christ, there would be little left to distinguish us from that vast ocean of cruelty, superstition, and despair in which went down the sun of Rome. Take out of modern life the forces which make for liberty and order, for enlightenment, progress and brotherhood, which owe their origin to the spiritual dynamics of the Christian Gospel, and the area of moral darkness would be vastly widened, the domain of spiritual hope and splendor would be so shrunken and obscured, that men everywhere would be dreaming of a fabulous golden past instead of toiling for an actualized golden future. Marred and blackened, though our civilization is, the law of progress, the law of life, the law of hope run their golden threads through its entire organism. We are not moving in fatal cycles round and round, coming back to the same place and making no true advance. An increasing purpose runs through the Christian ages. And in spite of a backward turning now and then, the stream rolls forward its fertilizing flood, with such force that obstacles do not prevail against it. Indeed the energy of this advancing life argues the supernatural origin which the church has always claimed for Christianity. It may well be believed that if the head sources of the River of Salvation were found in ome foot-hills which have but a slight elevation above the plain, if our Religion had its origin in one who ranks in being only with the founders of other faiths, there would not be force enough to
push the stream of redemption with such vigour and volume over the long, wide, desert wastes of human history. May we not believe that because the Fountain Head of the Gospel is high up among the eternal hills of God, because the stream issues from beneath the cross and tomb of a divine Saviour, nothing has been able in nineteen centuries of strenuous antagonism to withstand its progress or, at least, permanently to push it aside ? I would that Christendom were better, but compared with the non-Christian world it appears to me as noon-day to darkness, and before my observations of Oriental life I never realized so keenly the truth of Tennyson's line:
“ Better fifty years of Europe than a cycle of Cathay." The development of Eastern civilization bas continued through more centuries than there are decades in my own country. If this long development has produced results far inferior to those of our far briefer American history, India should seriously ask the reason why. And if the fruits of Christianity have not been worthy of its Founder, and commensurate with its opportunities, still they have been so wondrous and world-wide that, to some minds, they furnish a more persuasive argument than the most skilful apologetic. We feel that Christendom, on the whole, demands a favourable judgment for the Christian faith. We feel, with St. Hilaire, that “to condemn Christianity, one must fail to comprehend it.” Seen in its true spirit, apprehended as the fulfilment of all the best thoughts and aspirations of what Schelling has called the “wild-growing religions,” grasped in its central power and person, we believe that Christianity will yet appear to the disciples of Buddha, Confucius and Mahommed, and to the worshippers of Krishna, in its peerless suprema
and distinctive character, and they will be ready to exclaim, with the greatest of Christian Apostles, “When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
CHRISTIAN THEISM, AS THE BASIS OF A UNIVERSAL RELIGION.
I have often looked, with profound emotion, in one of the parks of my own city, on St. Gaudens's famous statue of Lincoln, whose uncongenial task it was to employ the national power against his own countrymen; he stands there before us, malice toward none, with charity for all” beaming from his sad and thoughtful face; and I have felt that there is in the man thus embodied something diviner than the power symbolized by the folded fasces behind him, something greater than the wise logic with which he is about to speak. There is a majestic tenderness, which left out of its comprehensive benevolence, no one of his people, down to the assassin that slew him and to the slave that saw in him an earthly saviour. But, in the temple of God's Word, according to devout Christian faith, another and greater statue is unveiled for the glad eyes of all mankind. The living embodiment of God's forgiving and long-suffering mercy is there disclosed. Divine love has been revealed and crowned; not his physical embodiment, as by the Trojan prince on Mount Ida of old, not the heavenly maiden of the mystic's vision, bending above the bars of Paradise; but love's divinest self. We behold her transcendent beauty, with which not for a moment is to be compared the earthly loveliness of the Grecian Helen,
“ The face that launched a thousand ships
And burned the topless towers of Ilium.” We see in her a love that agonizes to bless even through suffering. Words of forgiveness seem breaking from her lips; her eyes are founts of compassion and though at her feet rest the thunderbolts of omnipotence, and her brow is radiant with the awful diadem of celestial holiness, we see the fingers of her hand whitening around the Cross, and we bow before her as the emancipator and redeemer of the soul, and the queenly sovereign of all mankind. The victories of Christianity have been the triumphs of the Cross-the conquests of the God of Redemption.
The proposition which I offer to-day is this : that the Christian theism thus hinted at, the doctrine of God contained in the Scriptures, is an adequate basis for a Universal Religion. The God who is the Universal Father is a boon to all the world. The God who is one mind, of absolute perfection, is a blessing to peoples still distracted and degraded by polytheism. The God who is personal and holy, needs to be known by those still shrouded in the mists of pantheism. The God who is merciful as well as mighty and whose mercy has been revealed and personalized in the redeeming Christ has a mission of unspeakable good to all who, consciously or unconsciously, are sunk in guilt, error and degradation. The God who became incarnate that men might at last know His nature and gain spiritual restoration, release and harmony, is the fulfilment of the prayers and hopes and vague longings of a hundred peoples and a hundred generations of men.
I have thus far argued the Universalism of Christianity from its present aspects, as the only religion flourishing among all races and nations; and from its beneficent and world-wide effects. Our theme to-day requires that we should look into the varied and fragmentary conceptions of God which have prevailed in other faiths as finding, so far as they are true, a perfect fulfilment in Christian theism. It requires, especially, that we should clearly uuderstand what are the distinctive, or at least, the supreme elements in the Christian revelation of God, as now taught by the instructed minds of Christendom. The light which will thus be thrown on our fundamental proposition that Christianity alone is the world-religion will not, I earnestly believe, be found feeble and flickering. It is interesting to note that already, in the non-Christian faiths, among enlightened spirits, there is an eager disposition to claim the Christian doctrine of the divine Fatherhood. The newest Hinduism, traversing two millenniums of polytheism, recalls the early Aryan, Dyaush-Pitar--the Sanskrit Heavenly Father, corresponding with Zeus Pater, and Jupiter, and erects into living form this primeval foreshadowing of Christ's Paterposter. We all remember that the Congress of the World's Faiths asserted "with a most marked conviction and reiteration the Fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man and the solidarity of the race." As one participant has said, “It united often in the Lord's prayer, and by implication committed itself to the Universal religion which that universal prayer expresses.” As another participant in that Parliament has written, “ It intensified the conviction that our God is no. geographi
cal Deity, like the local gods of Egypt, the tribal gods of Greece, the pantheon gods of Rome, the national gods of Palestine, the ecclesiastical God of Christendom. And it requires no prophet to see that Divine Fatherhood, more or less clearly apprehended, will yet be proclaimed as tenet of all the historic faiths. You may recall the legend of the Christian and Jew who once entered a Persian temple and saw there the sacred fire. You remember that the Jew inquired of the Parsi priest, “Do you worship the fire ?" “Not the fire ” was the answer, “it is only an emblem of the sun. “But do you worship the sun ?” "No; that is but the emblem of the invisible light which preserves all things." Then the Persian inquired, “How do you name the Supreme Being ?” And the Israelite answered, "We call Him Jehovah Adonai, the Lord which was and is and shall be." "Your word is great and glorious,” said the Persian, “but it is terrible.” Then the Christian approached and said, “We call him Abba, Father.” Whereupon the Jew and the Gentile eyed each other in surprise and said “Your word is nearest and highest, but who gave you the courage to call the Eternal thus?” Father Himself," was the answer, and then he explained to them the Gospel of redemption, and they believed and raised their eyes to Heaven and said, “Our Father," and joining hands called each other brethren. This legend became at the Congress of the Creeds historic fact. And the fact is surely prophetic, and must give every expounder and preacher of Scriptural theism a new feeling of the fitness of His Gospel to meet the deepest wants of the whole race.
-No Christian Apostle or Missionary, I think, ever went to a non-Christian people without the feeling that he had a knowledge of God purer, higher, completer than has ever been obtained or held with vigorous faith by the most famous of nonChristian saints and philosophers. Some scholars have held that the Stoic conceptions of God and duty as taught by Seneca, were strikingly similar to those of the apostle Paul; but Bishop Lightfoot, who regarded the Academy of Plato as a vestibule to the Church of Christ, has shown that the basis of the Stoic theology is a gross materialism, relieved sometimes by a vague mysticism and thus does not come into the same theistic category with the Pauline teaching. When the Christian messenger goes to-day to Arabia, or to China, to the islands of Japan or to the schools of India, he believes, with what seems to him the best of reasons that he has a completer, higher and more potent disclosure of the supreme and infinite