The chief end of man,--to define it anew, and cite the witness of the ages, may seem an audacious attempt, likely to issue in failure or in commonplace. By the scholar this work must often be judged as crude, to the churchman it will sometimes seem mischievous, and to the man of science it may appear to lack solidity of demonstration. But its essential purpose is to utter afresh, though it be with stammering tongue, the message with which the universe has answered the soul of man whenever he listened most closely and obeyed most faithfully.
stic became monotheistic, and from worshiping the sun and fire came to worship an embodiment of righteousness and of supreme power. An ideal of character grew up--in close association with religious worship and ceremonial--in which the central virtues were justice, benevolence, and chastity. The sentiments of the family, the nation, and the church were fused in one. Its outward expression was an elaborate ceremonial. Its heart was a passion which in one direction dashed the little province against the whole power of Rome; in another channel, preserved a people intact and separate through twenty centuries of dispersal and subjection; while, in another aspect, it gave birth to Jesus and to Christianity.
Jesus was one of the great spiritual geniuses of the race,--so far as we know, the greatest. The highest ideas of Judaism he sublimated, intensified, and expressed in universal forms. Indifferent to the ceremonial of his people, he taught that the essence of religion lay in spirit and in conduct.