Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/585

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occupies the place of honor. But the real homage is paid in large measure, if not in the larger measure, to the religion of enmity. The religion of enmity nearly all men actually believe. The religion of amity most of them merely believe they believe. In some discussion, say, about international affairs, remind them of certain precepts contained in the creed they profess, and the most you get is a tepid assent. Now, let the conversation turn on the "tunding" at Winchester, or on the treatment of Indian mutineers, or on the Jamaica business; and you find that, while the precepts tepidly assented to were but nominally believed, quite opposite precepts are believed undoubtingly and defended with fervor.

Curiously enough, to maintain these antagonist religions, which in our transitional state are both requisite, we have adopted from two different races two different cults. From the books of the Jewish New Testament we take our religion of amity. Greek and Latin epics and histories serve as gospels for our religion of enmity. In the education of our youth we devote a small portion of time to the one, and a large portion of time to the other. And, as though to make the compromise effectual, these two cults are carried on in the same places by the same teachers. At our Public Schools, as also at many other schools, the same men are priests of both religions. The nobility of self-sacrifice, set forth in Scripture-lessons and dwelt on in sermons, is made conspicuous every seventh day; while during the other six days the nobility of sacrificing others is exhibited in glowing words. The sacred duty of blood-revenge, which, as existing savages show us, constitutes the religion of enmity in its primitive form—which, as shown us in ancient literature, is enforced by divine sanction, or rather by divine command, as well as by the opinion of men—is the duty which during the six days is deeply stamped on natures quite ready to receive it; and then something is done toward obliterating the stamp, when, on the seventh day, vengeance is interdicted.

A priori, it might be thought impossible that men should continue through life holding two doctrines which are mutually destructive. But their ability to compromise between conflicting beliefs is very remarkable—remarkable, at least, if we suppose them to put their conflicting beliefs side by side; not so remarkable if we recognize the fact that they do not put them side by side. A late distinguished physicist, whose science and religion seemed to his friends irreconcilable, retained both for the reason that he deliberately refused to compare the propositions of the one with those of the other. To speak in metaphor—when he entered his oratory he shut the door of his laboratory; and when he entered his laboratory he shut the door of his oratory. It is because they habitually do something similar, that men live so contentedly under this logically-indefensible compromise between their two creeds. As the intelligent child, propounding to his seniors puzzling theological questions, and meeting many rebuffs, eventually ceases