Religion is one of our greatest concerns in life.
1. Religion is one of our greatest concerns in life. Even as children we were taught to stammer prayers to the deity, with our little hands folded for us so as to point up toward the supreme being.
2. Our memories were laden with a mass of doctrines, incomprehensible at the time, designed for our future use and comfort in life. As we grow older, religious matters still fill up a good deal of our lives; indeed for some the whole circuit of their thoughts and aspirations is unified by religion in the way that a wheel’s outer rim is linked to the hub.
3. And we dedicate to our religion, in addition to other feast days, the first day of each week, which from earliest youth appears to us in a fairer and more festive light than all the other days.
4. Moreover, we see in our midst a special class of people chosen exclusively for religious service; and all the more important events and undertakings in the lives of people, those on which their private happiness depends – birth, marriage, death and burial – have something religious mixed in with them.
5. But do people reflect as they become older on the nature and attributes of the being toward whom their sentiments are directed – or in particular on the relation of the world to that being?
6. Human nature is so constituted that the practical element in sacred teaching, that in it which can motivate us to act and which becomes a source of consolation for us as well as the source of our knowledge of duty, is readily manifest to the uncorrupted human sensibility.
7. On the other hand, the instruction ( i.e. the concepts as well as everything only externally connected with [ the practical ] ) that we receive from childhood on, and which accordingly makes such an impression on us, is something that is, as it were, grafted onto the natural need of the human spirit.
8. Although this relation is frequently immediate enough, it is, alas, all too often capricious, grounded neither in bonds indigenous to the nature of the soul nor in truths created and developed out of the concepts . . .