The Religious Sentiment

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It is always displaced with advantage by a conscious aim.
One of the superficial fallacies of the day, which pass under the nameof philosophy, is to maintain that any such historic idea is the bestpossible one for the time and place in which it is found. I am led torefer to this by the false light it has thrown on religious history. Herbert Spencer remarks in one of his essays:[236-1] “All religiouscreeds, during the eras in which they are severally held, are the bestthat could be held. ” “All
...are good for their times and places. ” So farfrom this being the case, there never has been a religion but that animprovement in it would have straightway exerted a beneficent effect. Man, no matter what his condition, can always derive immediate goodfrom higher conceptions of Deity than he himself has elaborated. Nor isthe highest conception possible an idealization of self, as I havesufficiently shown in a previous chapter, but is one drawn wholly fromthe realm of the abstract. Moreover, as a matter of history, we knowthat in abundant instances, the decay of nations can be traced largelyto the base teachings of their religious instructors.

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