looked upon as an ephemeral result, not as a permanent cause; and when viewed as such, men very naturally class it with the other religions of the world, which have all been results, not causes,--effects, not sources of action.
As I look at Christianity in its relation to absolute religion,--religion the science of duty to ourselves, to our fellows, and to God,--as I look at Christianity in reference to religion, I want to say at the outset that it, for me, occupies an entirely distinct place, an entirely different level from any other of what are called or have been the religions of the world.
If you go to the East
, for the last three thousand years you find a religion the reflection of its civilization, the outgrowth of its thought, steeped in its animal life, dragged down by all its animal temptations, rotted through with license, with cruelty,--with all that grows out of the abnormal relation of the body to the soul.
And the only distinctive element in this outburst of Hindoo religions,--Buddha and Brahma too,--the only redeeming point is a sort of exceptional intellectual life, which busied itself exclusively with the future; which struggled to plan and shape life, and mould it on the principle that to be like God, you were to trample out all human affection and interests, thought, duties, and relations; and the moment you became utterly passionless, without thought, without interest in aught external, you were godlike,--absorbed into the Infinite and ready for the hereafter.
The only thing remarkable in these Asiatic religions is that they were infinitely below the popular level of morality and intelligence, while intellectually they busied themselves with nothing but the future state; not in one single thought or effort or plan or method with man as God places him on the surface of this planet.
And it was a religion so much the actual result of the moral