About the third of the methods which we are considering, that is to say the method of acquiring merit by the performance of certain acts supposed to be meritorious, it is not necessary for us to say anything here, because we have already dealt with it concisely at the beginning of this chapter, showing that good deeds cannot make atonement for sin or be a cause of salvation.

Regarding the fourth method, which is that of mental abstraction and retirement into a cell or a hermitage, every one who has attained to the knowledge of the true God knows well that in this way too pardon and salvation cannot be obtained. For reason itself after a little consideration declares this, since this fancy on the part of the sages of India and China arises from their teaching doctrines which contradict the truth of the existence of the Creator and which assert in its place monism (وحدة الوحود) and pantheism. These two latter doctrines are contrary to enlightened reason as well as to revelation. Therefore the methods of salvation which are deduced from such doctrines are false. It is evident that man needs a link of connexion and a bond of union with God, for without that he can never obtain salvation and happiness either in this or in the next world. But this union is not that of material absorption or loss of personality, that, as a drop of rain is lost and swallowed up in the ocean, so a man should be absorbed into the divine nature and in it cease to exist. On the


contrary, man has been created to enjoy an eternal existence, and the most merciful God desires that man's spirit should enjoy unfading happiness and unsullied purity in God's presence, not that it should cease to exist, according to this theory of the Hindu philosophers. By union with God is meant that man's will should become so completely attuned to and identified with God's will as to desire only that which is in accordance with the divine will. In this manner, through God's grace, man will be an heir of eternal bliss and a possessor of infinite glory.

But to attain to this union with God it is necessary first of all that man's sin should be forgiven and his heart freed from the defilement of sin and guilt. Therefore he who seeks for salvation must think of these things very earnestly. If any one reflects upon God's pure and holy nature and upon the state of his own heart, assuredly he will perceive his own sinfulness and the defilement which links in his heart. And, if he gives up prejudice and does not blind the eye of his conscience with the dust of haughtiness, he will assuredly understand that God the holy one will never accept him along with those defilements of heart and mind and spirit of which he is conscious, but will award him his well-deserved punishment, unless in some way he becomes purified from sin. Therefore the result of genuine reflection and concentration of mind, if rightly directed, is that a man becomes aware of