There is one further topic to which even so brief an introduction as this must allude. What is the relation between religion and morality? Are we to regard ethical teachings such as those of the Book of Proverbs or the Sayings of Confucius〖H. C., xliv, 5ff., and lecture by A. D. Sheffield, below.〗 as religious? To answer this question, we have only, I think, to bear clearly in mind the generic meaning of religion. A mode of life becomes religious only when it is pursued under certain auspices; only when it is conceived as sanctioned by the general nature of the cosmos, and as constituting a way of salvation. If justice be prized as a means of social welfare, it is ethical; if it be adopted as a means of winning the favor of God, or as a means of achieving Nirvana, it is religious. The moral life takes on a religious character when it is in some way connected with the cosmic life. In the so-called “ethical religions” the mode of life prescribed by religion tends to coincide with that prescribed by the moral consciousness, and righteousness is conceived as the way of salvation. Needless to say, such a contraction of morality greatly enhances its impressiveness and appeal. In all ethical religions that are inspired with hope, religion adds to a good conscience the sense of ascendency or victory over nature. Right living takes on the aspect of ultimate reality. To sheer duty is added confidence, inspiration, the expectation of limitless and durable achievement. Even in pessimistic religions of the ethical type, morality acquires prestige as having supreme importance for escape from the misery of existence. And from the religious consciousness as such, irrespective of its special claims and beliefs, morality acquires a certain dignity and reinforcement. For religion encourages man to look at life roundly and seriously. It frees him from the obsession of passion and the circumscription of immediate interests. It keeps alive the cosmic imagination, and invites attention to the problem of life as a whole in all its bearings, internal and external.

Thus it is fair to conclude that religion is universal in two senses. On the one hand it springs from a universal need. On the other hand, it possesses a universal value, and cannot fail, however much of error or blindness there may be in it, to elevate and dignify life. True religion is better than false, but it is not less certain that religion is better than irreligion.

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