"If a man," wrote the philosopher, Epictetus, "could worthily realize this opinion, that we are all in a special sense the children of God, and that God is the Father both of men and gods, I imagine he would think nothing mean or vulgar about himself."

The man who thinks life is noble will live nobly. He who regards life as ignoble will not strive upward. The worthlessness of terrestrial life, the central dogma of Buddhism, early found its way into the doctrines of the Christian Church. For ages this doctrine of total depravity--that we are born in sin and shaped in iniquity--ruled the European mind. Men looked upon themselves a groveling worms of the dust. They became lower than worms. They regarded their bodies with contempt. The human body was looked upon as a vile, vulgar and unclean thing. It was allowed to become vulgar and unclean.

This fatal doctrine caused the human race to sink to the lowest depths of depravity. How much better the idea that man is always and everywhere the child of divine love and solicitude?

"You are wrong," asserted Seneca, "if you think our vices are born with us; they are aftergrowths--Nature accomodates us to no vice, but brings us forth pure and free." Epictetus thought we are by nature of noble origin and that we are naturally constituted to do good. We are children of love--not of wrath. This view lends a dignity and importance to human life and conduct. It causes a man to respect himself and to hold his head up. Men and women learn to see the sanctity of life and to reverence its normal manifestations.

How different in its-tendency, is the doctrine of the innate nobility of man, to that of the buddhist's doctrine, of the worthlessness of terrestrial life. The first is uplifting--the second is debasing. The one builds a proud reliance in human nature and sustains a strong belief in its high capacity for virtue. This belief and reliance serve as powerful incentives to good. They also serve as strong safeguards against great moral debasement. The habit of mentally dwelling on the higher and better sides of life and of keeping before the mind the possibility of higher attainments must have a more uplifting influence than that of always harping on the sinfulness of man.

The central doctrine of the theology of the past was the utter worthlessness of terrestrial life. Man's chief duty was to prepare for a postmortem existence beyond the clouds. Man was said to be "born of evil." Unhappiness was thought to be his lot in life. The world was regarded as a "vale of tears." Man was a "lowly worm of the dust." Having decided that these ideas represented eternal verities, the theology of that day was shaped to insure the evil, unhappiness, tears and worminess that were man's.

Can there be any wonder we call that time the DARK AGES? They were indeed dark. Misery and unhappiness were everywhere. Poverty and squalor abounded. Ignorance and filth went with these. Fears and superstitions made life burdensome. Life was short. Infant mortality was frightful. Epidemics scourged the people. When life is regarded as worthless and treated as such, it becomes worthless. When the human body is looked upon with contempt and treated with abuse it deteriorates and becomes diseased.

It matters not whether the body is abused in the interest of the spirit or the mind Whether it is abused for the sake of a life beyond or for the pursuit of triangular fiction now; its abuse must always be paid for.