by Rev. Roderick MacEachen
Religion is the bond of union between God and man. It is the sum of the moral and spiritual relations that exist between the rational creature and his Creator. It is the complexus of norms and precepts that guide man in his relations with God. Man is the noblest of God's earthly creatures. In his soul he bears the beauty of God's own likeness. He is endowed with faculties that resemble the faculties of God Himself.
God could not refuse to enter into relations with man. The very thought of such a course is impossible. Man is God's own handiwork. He is God's own possession. He has an intellect and a freewill. He is to noble by nature and too noble by origin to e cast aside by his Maker. The man who would build a beautiful structure on a desert island with no other purpose in view than to abandon it would be a fit subject for a madhouse. Much less could the all-wise God create man with the purpose of turning away from him.
Religion must come from God. God alone has the right to establish the laws and precepts that shall govern man's relations with Him. Man can not dictate to God the standards of action that are to define the boundaries between good and evil.
God alone has the right to tell man what manner of action shall deserve reward and what shall incur punishment. God is the Creator, the master the Father. Man is the creature, the servant, the child.
Man cannot make laws for himself and ask God to adjust His judgments accordingly. Man was made to know, love and serve God here on earth and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.
Knowledge of God is the first essential of religion. But if we are to know God, He must reveal Himself to us. We cannot reach a true knowledge of God by mere human calculation. True, we can gaze upon His wondrous creation. We can ponder upon the infinite power and wisdom of the Creator. But this not to know God as He is in Himself.
God made man; then He spoke to him. He told him what service He demanded of him. He told him many mysteries about His Godhead. Always it is religion coming from God to man.
God demanded love of man. It was because of His love for man that He wished to be loved by him. It could never have entered into the mind of man to aspire to God as his last end. God made it known to him. Love is the basis of religion, the love of God for man and the love of man for God. This is a supernatural love. The highest desire of mere human love could never rise above the narrow confines of the natural world.
We must serve God on earth. It is but reasonable that God should define the nature of our service. To God we owe homage, worship, obedience, adoration.
It is unreasonable to demand that God submit to our desires and opinions in matters of religion. It would be to thrust our human ideas of worship upon God. It were to demand that God should be content with whatever kind of homage we might choose to offer.
We can not invent our own religion. To serve God we must do the will of God in all things our whole life through. The noblest act that man can perform is to submit in humble obedience to his Creator.
We cannot live without God. Our lies must be regulated by God's precepts if we are to be just and upright. We cannot be indifferent to God. We must do His will. We must believe all that God has taught even if it be above the natural comprehension of our intellect. We must accept truths that are beyond the sphere of human reason. We must believe all the teachings of Divine Revelation. We must worship God. We must learn to know Him. We must love and serve Him.
True religion, indeed, is in full accord with the dictates of human reason. The power of human reason is a reflected light that comes from the Divine Intellect. God gave us the faculty of reason and then revealed His Truths to us. There are in the human heart certain longings for the Supernatural which God implanted there at creation. This serves but to emphasize the fact that all true religion comes from God.
There are those who seem to lead good lives without religion. They are just and honest and live in peace with their fellowman. They do not profess any religion. Yet they are not irreligious. Indeed, their lives are regulated by religious principles. This is possible for a time. They are like grain that has sprung up in a field that is not planted. They are the fruits of a former planting. They have received the moral precepts of religion from their forebears. Religious traditions have been handed down to them. They have inherited sentiments of piety and morality from those who have gone before them.
All modern civilization is based upon the teachings of Divine Revelation. No one is good and moral unless he has profited directly or indirectly by the precepts of God's teaching.
Many who are indifferent to religion are, doubtless, in good faith. If they strive earnestly to find the true religion they can be saved. Yet they cannot be ignorant of the fact that there is religion. There is something in man's very nature that cries out for religion. Nor is a mere sentiment sufficient to satisfy the longings of the human heart.
Man feels the need of a defined religion. He wants definite knowledge about his Creator. He wants to know his last end and destiny. He yearns to commune with his God. He feels the need of a higher authority than his own reason to guide him through life. He seeks a power stronger than his own will to direct his actions.
Religious indifference leaves a void in the heart. It leaves the great questions of life unsolved. Defined religion alone can bring us peace of heart.
God has given us a religion that satisfies every need of our spiritual nature. This religion is not a chance collection of precepts and tenets. It is unchangeable and defined. It is Divine. It is suited to the spiritual nature of man in every age. To be without religion is to be estranged from God. For religion is the only bond that can unite the earthly creature with his God.
To establish the fact that the Christian religion is revealed by God it is necessary only to revert to the history of the world. We see it through-out the centuries from the very cradle of the human race in all its stages of development.
In the beginning we have the primitive or patriarchal religion. It is a supernatural religion containing dogmas and precepts imposed upon our first parent. It taught them the existence of good and bad angels. It revealed to them the dogma of a future Redeemer. It gave them the positive precepts of observing the Sabbath and offering sacrifices. This religion was binding upon all men and sufficed for their salvation until the coming of Christ.
There was, however, one exception. From the time of Moses unto the coming of Christ, the Jewish people were bound by the laws of Moses. This forms the Mosaic religion. This was merely the primitive religion raised to a higher degree of perfection by the revelation of new dogmas and precepts. Its special purpose was to prepare for the coming of the Messiah.
During four thousand years mankind had worshiped God and worked out its salvation in the hope of the Redeemer to come. Now the promised Redeemer comes, as He says, not to destroy, but to fulfill the law. He raised the law to the fullness of its perfection. Hence we see that the Christian religion is one with the primitive and the Mosaic law. It is the fulfilment, the perfection of revealed religion.
There is, then, but one rue religion. This religion is supernatural and divine, revealed to man by God Himself. It is found today in all its perfection under the title of Christianity.