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Yet making allowance for all such diversities, it may be said that the common voice of the race proclaims it to be right for a man to reverence big parents ; to care and provide for his children; to be master of his lower appetites ; to be honest and just in his dealings, even to his own damage; to show benevolence to his fellows in time of distress; to bear pain and misfortune with fortitude.And only within comparatively recent years has anyone been found to deny that beyond this a man is bound to honour God and to prefer his country's interests to his own.
Morality is antecedent to ethics : it denotes those concrete activities of which ethics is the science.It may be defined as human conduct in so far as it is freely subordinated to the ideal of what is right and fitting.This ideal governing our free actions is common to the race.In much recent ethical philosophy it is strenuously maintained that right moral action is altogether independent of religion.Such is the teaching alike of the Evolutionary, Positivist, and Idealist schools.Though they may not have realized that the laws prescribed by natural shame were derived from a divine command, they most certainly believed that their violation would be punished by the gods.
As to Buddhist belief, a distinction must be drawn between the metaphysical teaching of the Buddha or of some of his disciples, and the practical interpretation of that teaching as expressed in the lives of the great mass of the adherents of the creed.Where morality is divorced from religion, reason will, it is true, enable a man to recognize to a large extent the ideal to which his nature points. He will disregard some of his most essential duties.He will, further, be destitute of the strong motives for obedience to the law afforded by the sense of obligation to God and the knowledge of the tremendous sanction attached to its neglect -- motives which experience has proved to be necessary as a safeguard against the influence of the passions.The evidence gathered from them is overwhelmingly in favour of the contention that human reason proclaims the essential dependence of morality on religious belief.In regard to the contrary instances alleged, it must be denied that the morality of the Greeks was unconnected with religion.But where the motive of obligation is wanting, acting lacks an element essential to true morality.