Since then such is the superiority of Christianity, since it comes before us not as a mere collection of dogmas, or series of aphorisms, but as a living faith able to bridge over the broad gulf between knowledge and action, between our ideal and our life, we hardly care to waste time in proving its originality. It is indeed incontrovertibly original, in that it united what others had isolated; it concentrated what others had scattered; it harmonised what others had opposed; and, more than this, were it our object to maintain the claim, its mere vocabulary establishes its entire and noble independence. Where were the Greek or Latin words for "charity" till Christianity created them, and stamped them with her own divine image, and made them current amid the coins of a debased mintage, like pure and solid gold? Caritas, with all the mighty revolution which it has effected, and all the angelic utterances which it has inspired, is the glory of Christianity alone. Or take Humilitas; to the Christian it was one of the sweetest and saintliest of virtues, to the heathen one of the most pusillanimous of faults. Or, again, take Humanitas; previous to the spread of Christianity it means chiefly human nature, or refined culture ; it is Christianity alone which breathed into it all that it connotes, and made it mean love to the whole brotherhood of man, united to the Universe by natural laws, united to God by the common mysteries of Creation and Redemption; united to all the dead by the continuity, to all the living by the solidarity, of life. We do not concede then that Christianity is unoriginal even as a moral system; and we besides maintain that no faith has ever been able, like it, to sway the affections and hearts of men. Other religions are defective and erroneous, ours is perfect and entire; their systems were esoteric, ours is universal; theirs temporary and for the few, ours eternal and for the race; a handful read the philosophers, myriads would die for Christ; they in their popularity could barely found a school, Christ from His Cross rules the world; they could not even conceive the ideas of a society without falling into miserable error; Christ established an eternal and glorious Kingdom, whose theory for all, whose history in the world, prove it to be indeed what it was from the first proclaimed to be—the kingdom of Heaven, the kingdom of God.
On the exquisite workmanship of this tabernacle not made with hands, on the delicate and subtle harmonies of this harp of a thousand strings, the Scriptures say but little. For that task Science is abundantly competent; and for the still loftier task of confirming by decisive evidence those solemn warnings of Holy Writ that men must possess in manhood the sins even of their youth; that if they sow to the flesh they shall of the flesh reap corruption; that the punishment of sensuality, working not by special interventions, but by general laws, bears a fearful resemblance to the sin itself; that the Nemesis of a desecrated body is an enfeebled understanding and a tormented and darkened soul. Much of this the heathen saw; and yet, even in a doctrine so simple and elementary as the relation of man to his own body, how egregiously even their best teachers went astray !
And then, amid them all, how calm, how true, how noble, how simple are the few holy and natural principles which Christ revealed ! The body is not to be degraded by vile affections, but to be won and possessed in sancti-fication and honour; not to be crushed by violent asceticism, but to be controlled by quiet discipline; not to be desecrated as a prison, but to be honoured as a shrine. Yes, truly, Christ is also "the Saviour of the body." Consider how His revelation of the sacredness of life has put an end to the dangerous sophisms of the ancient world on the subject of suicide. Consider how His revelation of its dignity has inspired the spirit of tenderness and care. " For whom Christ died ! "—what mortal intellect shall measure the full persuasiveness of that appeal; an appeal for tenderness from others, an appeal of intense moral force to our own selves ! In how different a light does it place those sins against the body which are the most potent enemies of the dignity of man ! How does our Blessed Lord's innate Divinity shine forth transcendently in His dealing with sins like these ! The words of human teachers have been too often like the Pharos-lights which deceived and wrecked the vessels they were meant to save; but what infinite delicacy and yet what heart-searching directness, what uncompromising purity, yet what infinite forbearance is there in the words of Christ; how sternly inexorable His requirements, how tenderly infinite His love ! The same lips which said, " Blessed are the pure in heart" said also, " Her sins which are many are forgiven her; " the same which uttered, "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out" said also, "Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more." Yes, He who was purer than the heavens was the most gentle too; and He taught the two doctrines which are more efficacious than all others to cleanse the heart—the Resurrection of the Body, the indwelling of God's Spirit in the soul.
It is often argued that Christianity gives no special encouragement to the culture of the Intellect. When the Scriptures sum up under Body, Soul, and Spirit the totality of our being, no prominence is given to the mental faculties. Undoubtedly and wisely Scripture reverses the judgment of the world in making mental culture wholly incommensurate in importance with spiritual growth. The language of St. Augustine, " Unhappy the man who knows all those things but is ignorant of these;" the question of the Imitatio, " Scientia sine timore Dei, quid importat?" the judgment that to have tended on the leper is a higher title to canonisation than to have written the Summa Theologice itself, are eminently Christian. To exalt genius would have been superfluous, because the world was too prone already to that idolatry. On that altar enough of incense had been already heaped. Since the abounding knowledge of the world had, in itself, but served to inflate with insolent self-sufficiency and to dry up with sensual pride; since, without erudition, the heart may be of saintly purity, and without intellectual culture may attain to immortal bliss; to stimulate the intellect was needless, to magnify it would have been pernicious. Wisdom, not knowledge; goodness, not genius; moral deliverance, not material discovery; the regeneration of the multitude, not the exalting of the few—these were the aims of Christian teaching. The knowledge of mankind needed to be sanctified; it needed to be baptised; it needed to be transfigured from a haughty Philosophy to a humble wisdom, from impotent self-assertion to fruitful life. And, in doing this, Christianity by no means degrades the intellect, but subordinates, controls, and so inspires. In Christ's own Gospel we recognise in intellect a talent to be used, in wisdom a blessing to be sought. There echoes the high and loving message, " Son, go work to-day in My vineyard ;" there the gentle reproach, " Why stand ye here all the day idle ? " You, therefore, my brethren, who are wise enough to be diligent students, you who are noble enough to feel the charm of high thinking and plain living, work on with high purpose and fearless faith. God's vineyard, wherein we are labourers, needs all our toil. God's treasury, wherein we must cast our gifts, needs every mite as well as every talent we possess. God's own Spirit will aid the knowledge which is the sister of humility, the handmaid of religion, the counsellor of virtue, the champion of truth.