[Christian World.]

The religious life in its essence is, we say, a break into freedom, the freedom won over our lower selves, which gives us here and now a taste of the infinite. In its essence and pure manifestation it is all this, but that, alas! is not how we get it. As it is offered to us in the churches, the religious life itself needs freeing. Its glorious possibilities are there hampered by false alliances. It is bound up with old theologies. The theology of our text-books is excellent in its place. It is the attempt of the age that produced it to explain the world and life as it knew them. It is the history of the mental stage at which the race had arrived. Taken in this way, it is a useful, though somewhat dusty, record. But ecclesiasticism demands more; demands that these theories shall be accepted as the masters of our thought today, barriers to all the soul's new activities. What endless confusions, what agonies in young, ardent minds, are produced by this demand, are known too well to some of us. The correspondence of the present writer—to cite his own experience—is burdened with appeals from young men, from students, candidates for the ministry, and often from their elders, who find their spiritual instinct crying out against the impossible suppositions about God and man that are by authority thrust upon them. And one has to try to show to these imprisoned spirits a way out; to explain to them that spiritual life is one thing and old-world guesses about it another. But how difficult a business is this—to break the shell that holds the bird! to break it without damaging the young life inside!

November 13, 1909

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