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utility. He has made food for the body and beauty for the eye. He has provided problems for the mind and incentives for the soul. There is room here for the exercise of all our faculties and powers. There is no reason for supineness and stagnation. Our endowments are great and our means are adequate. The world is an arena and life a university and we have eternity before us. He is a cynic and an ingrate who does not appreciate life. Every blessing is a divine wish. Every day is a golden opportunity. Every privilege is a trembling possibility.
The coming of Christ gave life new meaning. He stooped to our level that He might put Himself in our place. He carried our griefs and became acquainted with our sorrows. He sweetened the experiences of life by showing us how to be patient. He cleansed life of bitterness and cynicism by teaching us to love. More than any other great benefactor He preached peace and good will to men. Amid circumstances of greatest friction He carried Himself with ease and equanimity. He lightened the burdens of the weary and the heavy laden by cheering their hearts. He sent a thrill pulsing through the souls of the down-cast by inspiring them with hope. He made difficulties flee by disarming fear. He made the world a better and a happier place to live in. He oiled the bearings of life and made right living easier. He gave Himself that men might live. He came that men might have more abundant life.
"Children of yesterday,
WHAT IS RELIGION?
Pure religion, and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep yourself unspotted from the world.-James 1:27.
men in all ages. It is a matter of vital interest, both in christian and heathen lands. It is of importance, not more to the theologian than to the average man; and it concerns men in all professions, all callings and all stations of life. It does not belong any more to the churches, the schools of theology, the class room, or theological seminaries, or sabbath schools than to any other spheres of life; and it may be understood and experienced as well by the peasant as the philosopher. Such are the practical aspects of its nature, and such the frequency with which it has been discussed that men, everywhere, are familiar with its contents. It is being discussed as freely and studied as thoughtfully today by the pew as by the pulpit. It does not occupy a unique place of its own, but is a matter of common interest to all. The word religion is used only a few times in the scriptures. When used, it does not carry with it the larger meaning with which it has since been invested. Although the word is seldom used, religion is the theme of the whole bible. It runs like a golden thread through the whole book, and is the one dominant note which sounds from Genesis to Revelation. It was the theme of the patriarchs wherever they erected their altars, and all their early struggles to live right were but rudimental efforts to embody and exemplify the principles of righteousness. The prophets sounded the same note, and everywhere pointed out that righteousness exalts a nation as also individuals. The gospels are but so many commentaries upon the same subject. They lifted before the world the Christ who came to teach men how to live, and whose teaching and example constitute the best exposition of right living the world has
The epistles of the new testament are likewise brilliant attempts of the followers of Christ to elucidate the same theme, and the thought uppermost in their minds was how men ought to carry themselves in relation to God and their fellow men.
The contents of religion are no where set forth more beautifully than in the sermon on the mount.
Who ever would be religious must be pure in heart, for only the pure in heart shall see God. Peace makers make the world a better and happier place for men to live in, and make men better and happier in the world. To hunger and thirst after righteousness is the highest ambition that can animate the human soul. Men should let their lights shine that others seeing their good works may glorify the Father in Heaven. If one possesses the right spirit, he will love his enemies and do unto others as he would have them do unto him. Purity of life within and uprightness of life without are fundamental to religion. No man can be religious who is not good in his character and upright in his conduct.
I remark first: Religion is an upright life. It is not something apart from life. Least of all is it something added onto life. Some think to be religious one must step out from life and live apart from daily duty. Men wait, therefore, to be religious, as they do to become rich, as if to be religious one must do something extra. They defer right living as if they needed a special occasion to do right. Strange as it seems, they think that religion is something different from doing plain duty. They associate it with special times and places, as if these were fundamental to piety. They think it requires a different mood, and more time than ordinary living. Religion in this view is a sort of addendum to life. It is something over and above ordinary duties. On the one hand one may be religious and neglect ordinary duties. On the other hand, one may perform faithfully all the ordinary duties of life, and yet not be religious. They hold that religion moves in the sphere of the sacred, and is something apart from ordinary life. Ordinary life moves in the sphere of the secular and is something different from religion. Life is distraction while religion is devotion. One may live amid confusion but cannot be devout amid distraction. The battle for bread is too strenuous and secular for piety. One must wait until he comes away from the street for prayer. He must wait
until he goes to the church to be devout. He must wait for more time and another place to be religious. Prayer and devotion belong to a different sphere and atmosphere to that of the pulsating, busy, bustling world.
But religion is not a luxury. It is not a supplement to life, nor a thing apart from life. It is not something we may have in addition to life. It is not a boon we may enjoy when through business. One cannot go home from his store or shop or office and put it on, as he does his clothes. It is not a mood or habit of life, peculiar to the church or the sabbath day. It is not praying or singing hymns. It is not reading the bible or attending services. It is not taking communion or hearing sermons. These things are but incidents in a religious life, the means to an end.
What is religion? Religion is an upright life, lived anywhere and every day. It is being right and doing right always and under all circumstances. It is keeping ones self pure, being kind, walking uprightly, dealing honestly with God and man. It is doing the best for yourself, helping others and making the world better and happier. It is doing the best you can in your own place and in your own way. It is being the same in the store that you are in the church. It is being as devout at your own table as at the communion table. It is being as pious when engaged in business as when engaged in prayer. It is being as religious when reading the daily paper as when reading the bible.
“I slept and dreamed that life was Beauty,
I remark second: Religion is being good. It is keeping one's self clean, and safeguarding the character of one's inner life. Character is at once the chief aim, and the best evidence of religion. There is something finer in any of us than anything we do or say. Religion goes behind living to the causes of life. It deals with the motives behind the action and notes the purposes that rule within. It tests the stream by its source, and the expression of life by the life expressed. The quality of character is always more important than the quantity of the acts