Literature, science, politics, commerce, and the arts

(J. A. James, "The Young Man Leaving Home" 1844)

Literature, science, politics, commerce, and the arts,
are all important in their place and measure; and men
give proof that they duly, or rather unduly estimate their
importance--by the devoted manner in which they attend
to them. To multitudes, these thing are everything.

Yet man is an immortal creature, and there is an eternity
before him--and what direct relation have these things
to immortality? Or what influence do they exert on our
everlasting destiny in the eternal world? More--do they
make us either virtuous or happy in this world? Is there
any necessary connection between any, or all of these
things--with human felicity? They call out and employ the
noble faculties of the mind; they raise man from savage
to civilized society; they refine the taste; they embellish
life; they decorate the stage on which the great drama
of existence is carried on--and give interest to the

But do any of these things reach the seat of man's
chief pleasures or pains--the heart? Do they . . .
  cure its disorders,
  correct its tastes,
  mitigate its sorrows, or
  soften its weightiest cares?

Do any of these things comfort man amid . . .
  the wreck of his fortunes,
  the disappointment of his hopes,
  the loss of his friends,
  the malignity of his enemies,
  the pains of a sick chamber,
  the struggles of a dying bed,
  the prospect of a coming judgment?

No! True religion is that, and that alone, which can
do this! And this it can do, and is continually doing!