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Religion
by [?]

I.

This is my ultimate and determining test of right–“What, in the circumstances, would Christ have done?”–the Christ of the New Testament, not the Christ of the commentators, theologians, priests and parsons. The test is perhaps not infallible, but it is exceedingly simple and gives as good practical results as any. I am not a Christian, but so far as I know, the best and truest and sweetest character in literature, is next to Buddha, Jesus Christ. He taught nothing new in goodness, for all goodness was ages old before he came; but with an almost infallible intuition he applied to life and conduct the entire law of righteousness. He was a lightning moral calculator: to his luminous intelligence the statement of the problem carried the solution–he could not hesitate, he seldom erred. That upon his deeds and words was founded a religion which in a debased form persists and even spreads to this day is mere attestation of his marvelous gift: adoration is a primitive mode of recognition.

It seems a pity that this wonderful man had not a longer life under more complex conditions–conditions more nearly identical with those of the modern world and the future. One would like to be able to see, through the eyes of his biographers, his genius applied to more and more difficult questions. Yet one can hardly go wrong in inference of his thought and act. In many of the complexities and entanglements of modern affairs it is no easy matter to find an answer off-hand to the question,”What is it right to do?” But put it in another way: “What would Christ have done?” and lo! there is light. I Doubt spreads her bat-like wings and is away; the sun of truth springs into the sky, splendoring the path of right and marking that of error with a deeper shade.

II.

Gentlemen of the secular press dealt with the Rev. Mr. Sheldon not altogether fairly. To some very relevant considerations they gave no weight. It was not fair, for example, to say, as the distinguished editor of the “North American Review” did, that in professing to conduct a daily newspaper for a week as he conceived that Christ would have conducted it, Mr. Sheldon acted the part of “a notoriety seeking mountebank.” It seldom is fair to go into the question of motive, for that is something upon which one has the least light, even when the motive is one’s own. The motives that we think dominale us seem simple and obvious; they are in most instances exceedingly complex and obscure. Complacently surveying the wreck and ruin that he has wrought, even that great anarch, the “well meaning person,” can not have entire assurance that he meant as well as the disastrous results appear to him to show.

The trouble with Mr. Harvey of the “Review” was inability to put himself in another’s place if that happened to be at any considerable distance from his own place. He made no allowance for the difference in the point of view–for the difference, that is, between his mind and the mind of Mr. Sheldon. If Mr. Harvey had undertaken to conduct that Kansas newspaper as Christ would have done he would indeed have been “a notoriety seeking mountebank,” or some similarly unenviable thing, for only a selfish purpose could persuade him to an obviously resultless work. But Mr. Sheldon was different–his was the religious mind–a mind having faith in an “overruling” Providence who can, and frequently does, interfere with the orderly relation of cause and effect, accomplishing an end by means otherwise inadequate to its production. Believing himself a faithful servant of that Power, and asking daily for its interposition for promotion of a highly moral purpose, why should he not have expected his favor to the enterprise? To expect that was, in Mr. Sheldon, natural, reasonable, wise; his folly lay in believing in conditions making it expectable. A person convinced that the law of gravitation is suspended is no fool for walking into a bog. Mr. Harvey may understand, but Mr. Sheldon can not understand, that Jesus Christ would not edit a newspaper at all.