Imatges de pàgina

also destroys Hinduism, but it substitutes what is indefinitely better. (3) A Christian literature. . . . These educated men and women of India will read almost anything, especially if it be in English. ... If by these means India can be won for Christ, we shall then at least have the decided advantage of holding the strongest positions, with America and Europe at the extremes, and India in the center.'

"Dr. Downie also takes occasion to refute the expressions met with in America regarding 'the misrule of Britain in India.' He says:

"'I have lived in India for more than twenty-seven years, and I esteem it a duty as well as a privilege to bear testimony against these false accusations. ... In the first place, it has put a stop to the frequent invasions of foreign tribes, to which India was subject before the British came. She has also put a stop to intestine wars, and has given the country peace. She has encouraged the development of the country, and has fostered industries. She has constructed railroads and canals, and has developed commerce. She has established a magnificent postal and telegraph system. She has abolished the arbitrary rule of the native princes, for the most part, and has given the country a government by law. But perhaps the greatest of all Britain's benefits to India is the excellent system of public education by which the poorest native may qualify himself for public life and usefulness. There are some 150,000 institutions of learning in India, with 5,000,000 students, 400,000 of whom are females. There are five great universities turning out 10,000 graduates every year.'"

As if by premeditation and forethought, the Digest gives abstracts in the two issues named of various utterances by Bishop Potter, of New York, touching the claims of various ancient religions, indicating that, as the modern mind does not fully understand the details or the scope of those religions, it had better be at least charitable toward them—this in the issue of December 28, 1901. In its issue of January 25, 1902, the abstract of an address by the Right Honorable Arthur J. Balfour, author of "Foundations of Belief," is of such clearness and importance that we also quote it in full:

"A British Statesman's Plea for Religion.—One of the most remarkable addresses which has lately been delivered by a great statesman was given by Mr. Arthur J. Balfour before the Church of Scotland Home Mission and Church Extension Society in Glasgow a few weeks ago. The plea which he made (according to a report of the address which appears in the New York Observer, December 26th) was for an ampler provision of religious opportunities for the growing population of large cities, and especially for the insistence upon a religious faith as the necessary foundation of all philanthropic and altruistic endeavors. 'During the past century,' he said, 'a revolution had taken place which had no parallel in the recorded traditions of mankind, and it was impossible that such a change should not carry with it the need and necessity, not of any change in Christian doctrine, not of any change in religion, but of a change in the setting in which religion was to be presented to the people. There was a danger that had to be faced which could not be measured by mere statistics. Persons passed from religion to irreligion without any public or domestic revolution; they simply said to themselves that the Christian religion had probably been a useful instrument of enlightenment and progress in times gone by, but it depended on a view of the world which science had rejected. They did not wish to give it up, but honesty required them to do so if they had to choose between science and religion; and so they left, almost insensibly, the faith of their fathers.' Mr. Balfour continued:

"'Such persons are misled not as to the substance or essence of religion, but by the mistaken statements of those whose business it was to teach it, and for that state of things the preaching of morality was no remedy. There were those who had taken refuge from the difficulties of positive religious teaching in what they improperly considered the safe ground of ethical moralizing. That was not the business of the Christian Church. Any church which derogated from its great mission was destined to make its moralizing barren and useless. Morality was no substitute for religion, and any organized body which in a rash moment thought that that was apparently the easier path to choose was destined to find a very rude awakening.'

"Some thought that the days when religion was a necessity of a civilized community had passed away, or was in process of passing away. Mr. Balfour held that the growth of science and the enormous augmentation of knowledge, so far from rendering religion less necessary, made the duties of the Church imperative. He concluded:

"'The leaven of religious life had been one of the most prominent characteristics of the Scottish people for three centuries, and were they going to allow that great heritage to diminish and fade away? Should they have to admit at the end of their lives that they left Scotland less religious than they found it, that that great element of national well-being and of spiritual excellence had diminished and waned under the light of modern civiization and of modern education? He trusted not, he prayed not, nor did he think that they ought to have any misgiving or deep-seated misgiving on that subject. If they responded to his appeal and put upon a solid basis those great efforts to spread religion, not merely among the wealthy or the specially respectable or the specially educated, but among every class in every street and alley and backyard of our great cities; then not merely the Church of Scotland, but he trusted the cause—the cause of enlightenment and progress and true religion—would have great reason to be grateful for the efforts which they that day made.'

"Mr. Balfour's point of view is still further elaborated in his well-known book, 'The Foundations of Belief,' which has recently appeared in its eighth edition, with a new introduction and summary, and to which considerable space in the English reviews is again being given. 'A statesman's leisure,' remarks Literature, 'could not be better spent than in writing a book like the "Foundations of Belief;" and we are heartily glad that it still enjoys a popularity which enables it to be republished at a popular price.' The Spectator considers Mr. Balfour's book 'a lofty, disinterested and forcible attempt to contribute something to the solution of the eternal riddle, to discover and support the truth in matters most vital, if anything is vital, to the happiness of man as a thinking being.' It summarizes the argument of Mr. Balfour's book as follows (December 21st):

"'As intelligent beings, we believe the world to be intelligible, or we certainly treat it as such, and try to understand it. But if we confine ourselves merely to what we perceive by the senses, mediately or immediately, we soon come to the end of our tether and are landed in hopeless perplexities. On the other hand, there always have been among mankind theological beliefs of some sort, and a theological view of the universe; and science, ethics, and esthetics are all more intelligible when framed in a theological than when framed in a merely naturalistic setting. Again, all systems attach a certain sanctity to the results alike of science and of ethics. Truth is truth, and right is right, they all say, and with almost equal conviction and emphasis. But this conviction and this emphasis are irrational if the causes of these results, however far remote, are merely blind mechanical matter and force. Their very solemnity points to a different origin. The ordinary arguments should be inverted. Instead of saying the Commandments or the creeds are binding because they are divine, we must say they are surely divine because they are recognized as binding. Some, indeed, may not heed either their value or their origin, but so to disregard them is to give up knowledge altogether and to live in a world of shadows, related to each other only as events succeeding each other in time, casual and incoherent.'"

In view of these abstracts I am moved to say to the hierarchy priesthood and more intelligent members of the Catholic Church in the United States and the English-speaking world, that the questions here under consideration, plus the questions concerning the comparative prowess and the comparative commercial status and prosperity of the different nations of the world are the questions occupying the intelligence of mankind in our own day, and not the questions of the Primacy of Peter, the Temporal Power of the Popes, or the exact position and attitude of the Blessed Virgin in Heaven.

I readily grant that the ruling members of the Catholic heirarchy are wise and subtle enough to see and know that by keeping alive and to the fore the exclusively Roman questions they are at least furthering their own immediate interests and building up and making more secure—at least for a time—their own importance in the small world in which they move.

That phase of the minor question does not interest me to any extent. I would gladly rejoice in the broader fact were it actual, and I should feel infinitely more at home in the Roman Catholic Church if I had found, or could find, that its representative and ablest men were, as by the teachings and example of Jesus they should be, naturally, wisely, intelligently and charitably interested in the broader questions that now exercise and that, under one guise and another, have always exercised the leading minds of the human race.

Of course I am aware of the fact that the representative members of the Roman hierarchy consider that all the questions referred to in the abstracts quoted are settled, were settled ages ago by divine revelation and by infallible ecclesiastical authority, and I also accept and believe this. But I am speaking to the intelligent Catholics of the twentieth century, and I here assure them that there are hundreds of millions of men and women just as devout as the Catholic hierarchy—servants of God Almighty and workers of and for righteousness in this world— just as sincere, and usually just as worthy, as Roman Catholics, or more so, and that these hundreds of millions of excellent and religious men and women do not care a rap for the issues and shibboleths so dear to the ultra Roman Catholic heart. In a word, the questions of our abstracts are more alive than ever and still open; further, that, if Jesus Christ were God, and if the Roman Catholic Church is His sole representative on this earth, it behooves that Church to let up a little on the peculiar and limited dogmas of its own manufacture and try to exemplify a little more clearly and forcibly the spirit of God's love which led to and gave us the incarnation, and the spirit of Christ's love, which evolved for us the Holy Spirit of divine love, through whose immediate ministrations alone, and not through a pile of hair-splitting dogma, one-half of which the intelligence of this world has sifted and rejected ages ago, are the peoples and the nations of the modern world to be won over to the religion of Jesus, which, as will appear, I fully believe to be the absolute religion, bound to conquer by the simple force of its truth and virtue the whole wide world to God and His incarnate, eternal Son.

Regarding these abstracts and the Digest's prelude to the same and its comments thereon, we have to say that there is not in all this world any "new science of religion" such as the editor takes for granted. There is a slackening as to Scriptural inspiration and other dogmas. Biblical students have in all ages of the world differed in their opinions as to the completeness or incompleteness of the divine inspiration which has been recognized as the dominating element in all the sacred books—

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