Imágenes de páginas

be allowed. No exclusive capacity for truth can be granted. The orthodox theologian has no commission which the heretic has not. Both sets of thinkers stand before the subjects of their thoughts as equals, and each should be free to make its own search and have its own interpretation. For one or other to set up a body of thought as final, the acceptance of which is enforced imperatively, is an unwarrantable and insufferable oppression. Whatever it may lead to, the way of truth should be kept open, and the mind set free to walk in it.

The human mind is doomed to develop, therefore no thought can be regarded as complete and final. All dogmas, creeds, and standards are tentative, provisional, transient. All questions are open. The dogmatist is dismissed. The position and attitude of the open mind may be held as well indicated in the words : I count not myself to have apprehended, but I follow on.'



It rarely falls to the lot of a thinking man to carry with him through his whole life the same body of convictions with which he began. The inevitable laws of progress and the force of environment have everything to do with the making of the mentality of each individual one of

Unless we deliberately and on principle shut our eyes to what is going on around us, we must perforce be led by the spirit of the age in which we live. The prophet Jeremiah lamented in his towards emancipation from the errors and superstitions of their forefathers. They think little, if at all, for themselves, and it depends consequently on the width of their reading and the nature of their surroundings as to what their opinions may be regarding any subject of speculation.


with desolation is the whole world laid waste, because there is no one that thinketh in his heart'; and the same reason may at the present time be alleged to account for the slow progress of the minds of the majority of men

age that

There are some, however, who are by nature curious and inquisitive, and who arrive at their maturer conclusions by the unconscious adoption of the Cartesian maxim of commencing by doubting all things. They cannot rest satisfied with an ipse dixit, they must know the reason why.

I think it is owing to the possession of such an inquiring disposition that I have passed through my own phases of faith.

I was bred up in the faith of the Church of England. But beyond being obliged to learn the Prayer Book Catechism by rote, and I may say very unintelligently, and being taught to regard the Bible as the source of and authority for all religion, I owed little or nothing to my spiritual pastors and masters for any ideas of religion I possessed.

At the public school I attended, religion was not a part of the curriculum. We did indeed have Scripture lessons, but always simply from an historical or geographical standpoint, which had a tendency to lower the Book to the level of the Latin grammar or any other class-book in my mind, and I have no doubt in that of others.

Being fond of reading, and having access to a large and miscellaneous library of books, I spent several years of my youth in devouring whatever came in my way.

I was about fourteen years of age when I first began seriously to think about religion, and I then started the practice of reading through the whole Bible once a year, with any commentaries or notes I could find, and this I continued for many years.

I thus evolved for myself certain notions of God, the atonement, sin, the hereafter, and prayer. I can honestly declare that I owed nothing to any church services or sermons I heard. They left me utterly unmoved. I cannot remember a single instance of the latter having ever made the slightest impression on me.

It fell to my lot to travel very widely upon the completion of my education, and I soon became greatly struck by the diversities of faith I came across. I made it a rule, whenever possible, to inquire into the arguments for and the nature of other religions outside Christianity, and held many a discussion with the believers in Buddhism, Brahminism, Confucianism, Judaism, Mohammedanism, Parseeism, and most curious of all, the tenets of the Samoyedes of Siberia, who are devilworshippers.

What most impressed me was the discovery of the great fundamental similarity between most of these beliefs and that which I had understood as Christianity. They all had some kind of Trinity, an atonement, an incarnate God born of a virgin, and much the same eschatology. When I, moreover, reflected that most of these creeds were pre-Christian in point of time and origin, I was still more puzzled.

« AnteriorContinuar »