The religion of my country is a simple, natural religion. Discarding sectarian name, we call it Theism, always keeping clear the distinction between that and Deism. Deism is abstract, logical, negative in its nature; theism embodies the expressions of the devout and the revelations of God. Deism may believe in God, but that God is washed out by the ideas of the man himself. Deism and theism alike must embody themselves in creeds, rites and observances, which have unfortunately been allowed to obscure the grand issues of religion.
Since these are necessary evils, since the outward formalities of religions must vary, the first characteristic of a simple, natural religion must be university. The principles of my religion are embodied in many, but it is impossible that there should not be denominations. Therefore I say that whether it is Christianity, Islam, or Hindooism, its principles, though they may not be intelligible to more than one sect, should yet be so wide as to include all men and all religions. If you exclude any denomination or nationality, if you condemn others to eternal darkness and ignorance, your religion becomes sectarian and will excite hostility outside of its immediate adherents.
The second essential is morality: for though there may be morality without religion, there can not be religion without morality. With shame I admit that we in the East are guilty of great offense against this virtue; and were you equally honest, you would have to confess that even your ministers are often sadly immoral. It is easy to say that because of it this or that religion is wrong, and to protest against that of which we do not approve; but until we have proved ourselves to be above it, to have outgrown such popular failings, our protest is but a sham.
Important as morality is, it would be of no avail without accompanying spirituality. As I have said, the one may exist without the other; but the essential of religion is the conviction of the existence of God in unity with man. Would you seek proofs of this, look to creation. The sun in his glorious course, the moon as she shines peacefully in the heavens at night, the roar of the sea, the growl of thunder and the flaring of lightning,- all are manifestations of God's presence. In early times my forefathers had no cathedral but the earth, no ceiling but the sky above their heads, no floor but the ground beneath their feet, no altar lights but the moon and stars; yet then was religion most real and most accessible to them.
The last characteristic of true religion is progressiveness. Religion must keep pace with humanity, and humanity knows no standstill. The fault with your religion is that it dissociates itself from other pursuits. With us, science grew out of religion, but in your country you are engaged in a fight with science in which you must inevitably be driven into a corner. If you fight religion with science, both must perish. Let your religion be simple and natural, but let it always keep progressing with the rapid progress of man.