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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37

The Religion of Humanity

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The Religion of Humanity.

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Service for the Festival of Humanity


Love the Principle.

Order the Basis.

Progress the End.

Live for Others.

Live Openly.


Great Power, whom we here acknowledge as the Highest, Humanity, whose children and servants we are, from whom we derive everything, and to whom we are bound to render everything, may we all seek to know thee better, that we may love and serve thee better; and to this end may our affections become more pure, true, and deep, our thought larger and more vigorous, our action firmer and more energetic, that so, according to our measure, in our generation, we may hasten the time when thou shalt, visibly to all, take to thee thy great power and reign; when all kindreds and nations, all the members of the human family now so torn by discord, shall, by the power of the unity of thy Past, place themselves under thy guidance, the living under the government of the dead, and bound together by mutual understanding and affection, each take their due part in the work of human advancement, in peaceful union moving forwards through the coming ages to a more and more perfect state, to thy glory and the common welfare of the countless generations of men and man's dependents, who shall in succession possess this thy beautiful Planet, the Earth, which is thy home.

In communion with thee, in communion with thy Past and with thy Future, may we keep this great aim ever in our sight, to strengthen and ennoble our whole life and work. Amen.

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Advent Collect.

Thou Power Supreme, who hast hitherto guided thy children under other names, but in this generation hast come to thy own in thy own proper person, revealed for all ages to come by thy Servant, Auguste Comte, we praise thee that under his teaching we are enabled to see the early dawn of thy glory brightening towards the perfect day; and we pray that, drawing inspiration from thy Past and Future, we may be strong to proclaim thy advent to the world around us, so that each successive year devoted to thy service may bring more and more disciples of thy faith, avowed adherents of thy holy church. Amen.

Holy and Glorious Humanity, on this thy High Day, at the beginning of a new year, we are met in praise, in prayer, in thanksgiving, to celebrate thy coming, in the fulness of time, for the visible perfecting of thy as yet unseen work.

Priest—We bow before thee in thankfulness,

People—As children of thy Past;

Priest—We adore thee in hope,

People—As thy ministers and stewards for the Future;

Priest—We would commune with thee humbly in prayer,

People—As thy servants in the Present.

All—May our worship, as our lives, grow more and more worthy of thy great name.

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The Sermon.

Praising thee, Holy Humanity, as is most meet, for all the blessings which thy past has accumulated for us; for the rich treasures of knowledge, beauty, and wisdom which it has handed down; for its long roll of great exemplars, our cloud of witnesses, which ministers comfort, support, and guidance in our need, and in particular for him who has interpreted and justified thy Past, taught us to use aright its treasures, rightly to honour its examples; lastly, as we are here more especially bound to do, for the full liberty to speak and .act which we enjoy; we pray that we may not be found unworthy of such benefits, but that, day by day, in all humility and singleness of purpose, with all boldness, and yet tenderness for others, we may magnify thee, and attain for ourselves, and help others to attain, the great blessings which only communion with thee can give: Union. Unity, Continuity. Amen.


The Faith of Humanity,

The Hope of Humanity,

The Love of Humanity,

Bring you comfort, and teach you sympathy, give you peace in yourselves and peace with others, now and for ever. Amen.

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Prayers for Special Occasions.

The Sacrament of Presentation.

Great Power! whom we adore as the source of all good to men, Humanity, we, thy servants met for the consecration of a new life to that service, humbly and earnestly pray that the child by this Sacrament presented and consecrated, may be lovingly, faithfully, and wisely trained; that, under all wholesome influences of affection and submission and reverence, she may grow up to be in her turn rich in such influences for others, taking her part in thy continuous work. We pray, moreover, for ourselves, that, whatever our share in this celebration, we may all alike use it rightly to rekindle our devotion, and as an occasion for renewing our dedication of ourselves to thee; that it may leave us at once humbler and better—humbler from the sense of our great shortcomings, better by the resolve to use more carefully the opportunities still left us for improvement, self-sacrifice for others, zeal and activity in thy cause—so glorifying thee for thy Past, and preparing for thy more glorious Future. Amen.

The Sacraments of Admission and Destination.

Gracious Power! in whose name and by whose inspiration, in dutiful obedience to thy Past, thy great Servant and Interpreter, Auguste Comte, giving full expression to the earlier instinctive aspirations of man and completing what was defective in their later satisfaction, has instituted for thy Church a ninefold series of sacraments which in their whole sequence and right use, as in other days will be seen, will bind the family union to the social, and link in close connection the successive generations of mankind, thus forming to order and page break beauty our otherwise imperfectly-ordered existence, strengthening our union, imparting unity to our individual life, and drawing forth into more vivid consciousness our social continuity—may we, thy servants here met for the administration of one of the series (the Sacrament of Destination or Admission), bring home to ourselves by meditation the benefits of this institution, opening our lives to the influence of the conception where no more is possible, or, where it is yet possible shaping them by following the example set this day, so evidencing our gratitude for all that we have received, manifesting the power of our faith to our mutual support and to the glorifying of thy name, and thereby furthering that in which alone the trouble of the race can find its end—the religious unity which nothing but thy advent, Humanity, can offer to all thy children. Amen.

Collect for St. Francis of Assisi.

In another time and with another belief, we, who on this day reverently honour the memory of this eminent Saint of the older dispensation, St Francis of Assisi, pray that his example may not be lost upon us, but that his seraphic love for the object of his devotion may teach us a like love for the suffering and wounded Humanity, whom we preach and serve; that in the force of that love we may catch some portion of this Saint's great humility, of the richness of his spirit of renunciation, of his unfunded simple affection for all his fellow-men, for all living beings, for all outward objects; lastly, of his patient and loving resignation—so by our lives glorifying our service, as he glorified his—so spreading, as he spread his faith, the nobler and more enduring faith into which that of mediaeval Europe has in our times been transfigured. Amen.

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For the Festival of All the Dead.

Supreme Power! in whom we most truly live and move and have our being, who hast risen from thy primaeval weakness and ignorance to thy present strength and knowledge through the services of the countless generations of thy children—thy known and unknown dead—we who are here met on this closing festival of the year to commemorate all those generations, and gratefully to acknowledge that it is by their labour and suffering that we have been enabled to witness thy final advent—we pray that this our act of homage to the dead, as it awakes in us a lively sense of the greatness of the past sacrifices, may kindle our love to thee and strengthen our devotedness, that so in our turn we may be ready to continue the work of self-sacrifice in humility and confidence—confidence, as we see what great things have been done for us—humility, as we look on the imperfection of those whom we now honour, and know ourselves to be like them;—in all things striving to be a worthy link between thy Past and thy Future, thus strengthening that government of the dead, only in dutiful submission to which can the troubled society of mankind arrive at the peace of thy kingdom. May that peace come speedily. Amen.

Concluding Prayer.

May the thoughts and feelings awakened by this day's celebration remain with us all after it is over, passing into our hearts and minds with a lasting influence, and bringing forth a harvest of good fruit, to the praise and glory of Humanity. May our faith in her be the stronger for it, our hope more confident, our love more fervent, our devotion and our service more complete and unreserved, our union felt to rest on more assured foundations.

The peace of her slowly dawning kingdom be' upon you, the blessing of Humanity abide with you, now and for ever. Amen.

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Note.—Upon the Reading from the "Imitation of Christ," by Thomas a Kempis.

We read the "Imitation of Christ," by Thomas à Kempis, so strongly recommended by our Founder, as the most universally received manual of devotion and of a holy life; but it may be wise here, in order to avoid ambiguity or any doubt as to our use of it, to say that, in using it, we substitute Humanity for God; the social type for the personal type of Jesus; our own inward growth in goodness for outward reward; the innate benevolent instincts for grace; our selfish instincts for nature. So used, its lessons of devotion and humility, of intimate communion with the type we adore, of unceasing moral culture, of self-denying service, of the service not of ourselves but of others, are not the less available because they are clothed in the language of an older faith, and sanctioned by the experience of many generations of faithful and devout men.