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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 42

1.—What is Religion?

1.—What is Religion?

"The spirit of the thing interpreted
Is that which doth interpret."

After having given a crude outline of his programme for the overthrow of civil organisations, Mr Stout came to the more immediate object of his address, the demolition of all things we call Divine. Upon this be entered in lengthened detail, and evident satisfaction in the consciousness of his own ability to deal a crushing blow to our sacred institutions; and to his task he proceeded, filled with the conviction of his own importance and skill, as a very Goliath among the Philistines. His first blow is an attempt to define what religion is: "A man may be a truly religious person—one who is good, and does good without inspiration." From this sentence we learn that man may be religious without any thought of worshipping God. If the word be capable of such a construction, that use of it is foreign to the English language. The idea suggested by "religion" in every mind is "a recognition of God as an object of worship." The being of God is the centre object suggested by the word "religion" when ever it is used in the English tongue. Hence, in our sense, a man cannot be religious who has no faith in God, though he may both be moral and charitable. I grant that a secondary meaning of the term is used to signify a system of faith and worship, not necessarily Christian, but still it retains the idea God-worship. "As a word, religion is derived from the Latin religio, from religare, which signifies to bind again; hence, religion is that which binds again, or that which heals a breach previously existing between two parties. This traditional idea the Romans expressed by religio. They believed, as the foundation of their mythology, that mankind and the gods were at enmity; but how this came about they had not any knowledge of. They were angry, but not implacable; nevertheless, so estranged that there could be no direct communication with them. Mediatorial converse with the gods was then universally prevalent. The Pagans had derived by tradition from the family of Noah, with whom was deposited the revealed principles of the way of God instituted in the beginning. This idea of mediate communication for the appeasement of Divine wrath was incorporated in all domestic and temple worship which constituted their religion."

Acquaint thyself with God if thou wouldst taste his works.

Happy the man who sees a God employed
In all the good and ill that chequer life.

page 20

Mr Stout commences his discourse with a false opinion. Starting then on false premises, what may we expect for a conclusion? It would surely be an accident if he landed in a faithful position.