Christ came, they tell us, to make a revelation, and what did he reveal? "Love thy neighbor as thyself"? That was in the Old Testament. "Love God with all thy heart"? That was in the Old Testament. "Return good for evil"? That was said by Buddha, seven hundred years before Christ was born. "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you"? That was the doctrine of Lao-tsze. Did he come to give a rule of action? Zoroaster had done this long before "Whenever thou art in doubt as to whether an action is good or bad, abstain from it." Did he come to tell us of another world? The immortality of the soul had been taught by the Hindoos, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans hundreds of years before he was born. What argument did he make in favor of immortality? What facts did he furnish? What star of hope did he put above the darkness of this world? Did he come simply to tell us that we should not revenge ourselves upon our enemies?
Long before, Socrates had said; "One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him." And Cicero, had said. "Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive." Is there anything in the literature of the world more nearly perfect than this thought?
Was it from Christ the world learned the first lesson of forbearance, when centuries and centuries before, Chrishna had said, "If a man strike thee, and in striking drop his staff, pick it up and hand it to him again?" Is it possible that the son of God threatened to say to a vast majority of his children, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels," while the Buddhist was great and tender enough to say: "Never will I seek nor receive private individual salvation; never enter into final peace alone; but forever and everywhere will I live and strive for the universal redemption of every creature throughout all worlds. Never will I leave this world of sin and sorrow and struggle until all are delivered. Until then, I will remain and suffer where I am?"
Is there anything in the New Testament as beautiful as this, from a Sufi?--"Better one moment of silent contemplation and inward love than seventy thousand years of outward worship."
Is there anything comparable to this?--"Whoever carelessly treads on a worm that crawls on the earth, that heartless one is darkly alienate from God."
Is there anything in the New Testament more beautiful than the story of the Sufi?
For seven years a Sufi practiced every virtue, and then he mounted the three steps that lead to the doors of Paradise. He knocked and a voice said "Who is there?" The Sufi replied. "Thy servant, O God." But the doors remained closed.
Yet seven other years the Sufi engaged in every good work. He comforted the sorrowing and divided his substance with the poor. Again he mounted the three steps, again knocked at the doors of Paradise, and again the voice asked; "Who is there?" and the Sufi replied; "Thy slave, O God."--But the doors remained closed.
Yet seven other years the Sufi spent in works of charity, in visiting the imprisoned and the sick. Again he mounted the steps, again knocked at the celestial doors. Again he heard the question, "Who is there?" and he replied. "Thyself' O God."--The gates wide open flew.
Is it possible that St. Paul was inspired of God, when he said "Let the women learn in silence, with all subjection." --
"Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man?"
And is it possible that Epictetus, without the slightest aid from heaven, gave to the world this gem of love:
"What is more delightful than to be so dear to your wife, as to be on that account dearer to yourself?"
Did St. Paul express the sentiments of God when he wrote --
"But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is the man, and the head of Christ is God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands as unto the Lord?"
And was the author of this, a poor despised heathen? --
"In whatever house the husband is contented with the wife, and the wife with the husband, in that house will fortune dwell; but upon the house where women are not honored, let a curse be pronounced. Where the wife is honored, there the gods are truly worshiped."
Is there anything in the New Testament as beautiful as this?
"Shall I tell thee where nature is most blest and fair? It is where those we love abide. Though that space be small, it is ample above kingdoms; though it be a desert, through it run the rivers of Paradise."
After reading the curses pronounced in the Old Testament upon Jew and heathen, the descriptions of slaughter, of treachery and of death, the destruction of women and babes; after you shall have read all the chapters of horror in the New Testament, the threatening of fire and flame, then read this, from the greatest of human beings: "The quality of mercy is not strained: It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. 'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown."