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When the notion had gained popularity in one spot it would be copied. There is no patent right in fables. If the earth retained the footstep of Indra, it will not do for it to be less plastic for Buddha, for Abraham, or Christ, as their several sects arise. And then each religion will try to make its founder's footprint a little larger than that of the rival, until they outgrow belief, and then they become more natural and realistic, as in the case of the tracks of Christ. Or a higher age arrives which discovers that a great man cannot be measured by the size of his foot.
Then we reach a phase of progress when the footstep becomes allegorical. The Hindoo god of destruction was believed to have two chief forms--the deadly lightning and the deadly serpent. The cobra snake is adored through fear as his incarnation. But it was told there was a saviour who could bruise that serpent's head. Vishnu descended, and his first step on earth brought his heel on the cobra's head, where the Vishnite sees the print of it on every cobra's head to this day. But straightway the idea floats away into Syria. There, too, we hear of a serpent incarnation of evil, and of an incarnate saviour whose heel is set upon his head, as it is now pictured in scores of Christian churches throughout the world. Thence come, too, the race of dragon-slaying heroes from Apollo to St. George. No doubt they all came from the first brave man who taught and showed his fellows that courage and skill could control and vanquish the destructive forces of the world. His footprint is carved on the world for as definite a utility as that which copied the track of the savage, and it signals the march of the higher man through the wilderness of ignorance and fear.
But here, again, the origin and use, will pass away; the significance will be sunk in the symbol. With what pain would Buddha or Christ, who taught so earnestly the simplicity and pure spirituality of moral life, could they return, behold men and women kneeling around their alleged visible footprints ? Yet even there amid the darkness hearts have learned to invest with deeper meaning the footprints of the great. It may have been from beside one of them that there rose the chant of the Tamil poet, Pattanathu :
In my heart I place the feet,
And after all we need not bear hard upon the symbol. If we interpreted alien religions as their believers wish them interpreted, we should find that every such external footprint is countersigned by a footprint within. There are many hundreds of them in the world, but each marks where a real man has trod. The impress of a life preceded each impress on the rock. The great man passed there and the earth felt him,-never lost the trace and imprint of him. Where he first passed is now a highway. Uncounted millions of feet have made the high road. But aruong them all, and above them, will be distinguished
the footstep, brave and firm, of him who trod there when it was dangerous jungle or jagged rock, and whose steps were marked with his blood. Such were the great forerunners of thought, of knowledge and virtue. They broke a path for man through the wilds of error, the ferocities of wrong. They manfully pressed on--aye, every one of them whose symbolic footprint is honoured this day - with undaunted faith poverty and grief were their gaunt companions, where terror, crucifixion, death took their toll at the end. Millions have since walked the same path in safety and happiness. The path of flint and thorn, where trod the martyr's bleeding feet, becomes at last a fair street of the Beautiful City. But out of all the footsteps that have beaten the highways of humanity, we select those early ones—so tried, so true-not ashamed to clasp, to kiss the blessed feet that were pierced in leading the way to our freedom and our joy. I will fain hope that around the visible footprints hover the solemn influences of those of whom they are memorials. I will trust that deep in the hearts of those who climb on their knees that stairway at Rome by which they believe a great and true mian descended from a judgment-seat of power to his death,-there is some love and reverence, and a struggling onward to what little beam of light may so mingle with the darkness of their dungeon. There is always a germ of nobleness in the mind that has reverence; and though that germ can never spring to flower and fruit if bound in the shell of formalism, it is something that it is there; springtide is searching for it.
At any rate, if we have lost sight of these external symbolic footprints, it were little gain if we did not all the more realise the moral impress which a great soul leaves upon the world, and upon every true heart in the world. How many people around us who adore the outward ancient footprint of Christ—his cross it may be, or his pierced hands and feet—are able to recognise his living footsteps, felt in their daily history ? More alive is he to-day than many we meet on the street. Who hears his footfall as he moves invisibly through the world, and burns through its hard forms with the fiery passion of a heart in pain to seek and save men? Hark! Do you know that voice of righteous wrath against those who count their gains, or weigh their party schemes, while men are perishing, that cry of anguish from a soul which feels the suffering of men and women he never saw, as if they were his own children ? When perfunctory first lords fail, there are First Lords of the Treasury of a nation's heart who start forth and issue commands that must and will be obeyed. The footprints of the saviours of men in all time are the hearts that are saving men now. They that left kings' courts for wildernesses, and they who perished between the altar and the temple, he who drank hemlock and he that was crucified, they are all moving on with every true man; they have moulded his brain, transfused his every vein with their blood, and through him still carry on their work of mercy and justice.
It is a proverbial saying in the East that the footprints of prophets can never be covered by any pavement. No conventional customs, no decorous routine, be it laid with marble or with gold, can hide those footprints of the great which have sunk deep into human souls. And if our own hearts are worth anything, they will be footprints of those same saviours. Any other Buddhism, any other Christianity than this iš mere worship of fictitious footprints in mouldy stone; not totally worthless perhaps, but quite fruitless of real benefit to ourselves or others. But let us know that no true step or stand of a true man-however lowly or limited his lot—ever yet failed to leave a lasting impress on this earth. Indistinguishable it may be amid the multitude that press along the pathways, they still do their part to make those pathways wider and firmer. Happy indeed shall they be if to them fall the high privilege of leading the way to regions not yet trodden by the many! Happy if theirs be the splendid opportunity of advancing where reason and rectitude point, even though the people warn of danger and refuse to follow, and resist ! It is sometimes good to serve mankind as they desire; it is great to serve them in ways they like not, ways unpopular and unrewarded. Even so did the saviours and prophets who were before and great is their reward. What is greater than to be numbered with those who extended the boundaries of human freedom and thought, who enlarged the hope and the vision of mankind ? If we could but so advance the world but by an inch—a hair’s-breath—that hair's-breath were worth to us more than all the wealth and honours that crown any other earthly success. And that high possibility of influence is not far from anv one of us. Unattainable by any force of personal ambition or self