Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/259

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in one mystic brotherhood. As men learned these lessons, or were inwardly ready to learn them, they recognised more and more clearly in Jesus their heaven-sent redeemer, and in following their own conscience and desperate idealism into the desert or the cloister, in ignoring all civic virtues and allowing the wealth, art, and knowledge of the pagan world to decay, they began what they felt to be an imitation of Christ.

All natural impulses, all natural ideals, subsisted of course beneath this theoretic asceticism, writhed under its unearthly control, and broke out in frequent violent irruptions against it in the life of each man as well as in the course of history. Yet the image of Christ remained in men’s hearts and retained its marvellous authority, so that even now, when so many who call themselves Christians, being pure children of nature, are without the least understanding of what Christianity came to do in the world, they still offer his person and words a sincere if inarticulate worship, trying to transform that sacrificial and crucified spirit, as much as their bungling fancy can, into a patron of Philistia Felix. Why this persistent adoration of a character that is the extreme negation of all that these good souls inwardly value and outwardly pursue? Because the image of Christ and the associations of his religion, apart from their original import, remain rooted in the mind: they remain the focus for such wayward emotions and mystic intuitions as their magnetism can still attract, and the value