Author: Mellone, Sydney Herbert, 1869-
Title: Leaders of religious thought in the nineteenth century: Newman, Martineau, Comte, Spencer, Browning,
Publisher: Edinburgh London : W. Blackwood and sons, 1902.
Tag(s): spencer, herbert, 1820-1903; comte, auguste, 1798-1857; browning, robert, 1812-1889; newman, john henry, 1801-1890; religious thought 19th century; martineau, james, 1805-1900; newman; agnosticism; martineau; crown; james martineau; spencer; henry newman; herbert spencer; belief; newman's 'grammar; religious; edition; religion
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3 1822019592344 IVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. SAN DIEGO 3 1822 01959 2344 LEADERS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTUEY " Plus 1'homme a su, plus il a pu ; mais aussi moins il a fait, moins il a su." BUFFON. LEADERS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTUEY NEWMAN COMTE MARTINEAU SPENCER BROWNING BY SYDNEY HEKBEKT MELLONE M.A. LOND., D.Sc. EDIN. MINISTER OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF HOLYWOOD, COUNTY DOWN J EXAMINER IN MENTAL AND MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS EDINBURGH AND LONDON MCMII All Kights reserved PREFACE. THE substance of this book was delivered as a course of lectures before an unsec- tarian theological institution, the Divinity School of Meadville, Pennsylvania. The subject of the course is the Source and Meaning of Belief in the Divine Being. This is always the great central problem of religious thought. In discussing the subject, the author preferred to arrive at his results by means of a comparison and estimate of some typical forms of religious thought. The reasons for selecting the five thinkers named on the title-page are suggested at the conclusion of the opening chapter ; and, it is hoped, those reasons will be found justified in the chapters which follow. VI PREFACE. These thinkers were not chosen simply in order to be examined in turn as a group whose various doctrines have no special connection among themselves ; although, if they had merely been set side by side in this way, they would still represent the most important tendencies of nineteenth- century thought on " the Problem of God." They were chosen in order to be carefully compared together, because, in the author's view, their principal and fundamental teach- ings, while differing widely, throw much light on each other and on the great problem already named. The author was led to his main position by perceiving the need of reconciling the two methods of Theism which are usually known as Rationalism and Mysticism. These types of thought have hitherto pro- ceeded in mutual independence ; they have been supposed to rest on opposite and even antipathetic moods of mind. They both contain important truths that cannot be dispensed with. The various forms of Rationalism have received full justice in PREFACE. Vll the century which has just ended ; while Mysticism has been generally " despised and rejected." There are, however, signs of a growing tendency to do justice to it. This is seen on the philosophical side, in the place which Experience holds in the argument of such works as Mr Bradley's Appearance and Reality, Professor Pringle- Pattison's Man's Place in the Cosmos, Pro- fessor Royce's Gifford Lectures, Professor Ormond's Foundations of Knowledge; and on the theological side, in the treatment of Mysticism in Mr Inge's Bampton Lec- tures, Professor Caldecott's Philosophy of Religion, and Mr Upton's Hibbert Lectures. In the present volume stress is laid on six connected points : the necessity of real ex- perience as the ground of all forms of belief; the necessity of a rational interpretation of experience before it can be the ground of any belief; the impossibility of separat- ing experience and reason, or relying on one to the exclusion of the other ; the necessity of recognising infinite variety in the forms both of experience and of ration- VI 11 PREFACE. ality among men ; the necessity of distin- guishing experience and its interpretation, because, though both vary, they may be, as it were, " independent variables " ; and above all, the value of Work, activity and energy of spirit, in moulding experience and so af- fording new data for knowledge. The prin- ciples here stated in such an abstract form are applied in the following chapters to the concrete subjects of religious belief. The discussion of abstract "metaphysical" difficulties is foreign to the author's object, and all philosophical questions brought for- ward are dealt with as simply as is con- sistent with accurate thought. The view taken of Browning's contribution to the problem has, perhaps, some slight claim to originality. The chapters dealing with Dr Martineau's doctrine have been revised and expanded since his death, which took place after the delivery of the course. S. H. MELLONE. HOLYWOOD, BELFAST, January 1902. CONTENTS. CHAP. PACK I. LIGHT ON THE WAY ..... 1 II. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN .... 46 in. NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT ' . . 76 IV. JAMES MARTINEAU ..... 106 V. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? . .146 VI. FORMS OF AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM . 182 VII. THE AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER . 219 VIII. ROBERT BROWNING ..... 248 SUMMARY . . 291 INDEX OF NAMES ..... 299 LEADERS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY. CHAPTEE I. LIGHT ON THE WAY. SUMMARY. OUR task is to compare the ways in which certain representative thinkers of the nineteenth century have set out to find the Seat of Authority in Religion ; and our object is to reach by this means a conception, as satisfy- ing as possible, of what is the true and permanent basis of religious belief. In order to carry through such an inquiry with any success, four main " rules of criticism " must be under- stood. The conflict between the old and the new in religious belief is really a Development, in which the old is changing its form. This development has of necessity a negative and a positive side; the spirit of the age is " unmaking to remake " (first rule), Con- A 2 LIGHT ON THE WAY. flict of opinion over religious and other similar questions arises from the nature of the case ; for, in such matters, language is not in a sufficiently advanced state to pro- vide a proper expression for thought (second rule) ; and usually our minds cannot fully grasp those thoughts and feelings which have been the real grounds of our con- clusions. The reason of this familiar fact is one which cuts deep ; much may be present and active in the mind, of which the mind itself is only vaguely aware (third rule). This is true for the mind of a community or an age, as well as for that of an individual. A historical illustration may be found in the " Age of the Kevolu- tion " ; a more significant one, in the " Transition from Paganism to Christianity." We must analyse this tran- sition, and briefly inquire into the intellectual and moral disintegration of the ancient world. Our fourth rule of criticism is this. The mutual strife among current beliefs is attended by many evils ; but it is one of the most important means by which truer be- liefs are suggested, developed out of the prevailing ones, and confirmed, especially in the case of ideas which, when compared, are seen to be opposite and equally one- sided. Hence we may see the importance of the negative and critical element in the development of Truth. We observe at the beginning of the century a gen- eral spiritual awakening and reaction against deistic and mechanical views. A special form which this reaction took was led by Newman. We begin, therefore, by con- trasting Newman and Martineau, as representing two theological standpoints in polar opposition. EGBERT Louis STEVENSON, in one of his suggestive parables, tells us of a certain man who rode forth into the world to find LIGHT ON THE WAY. 3 " the touchstone of the trial of truth," the stone in whose light " the seeming goes, and the being shows." Wherever he came to a place of habitation he would ask the men if they had heard of it. And in every place the men answered, " Not only have we heard of it, but we alone of all men possess the thing itself, and it hangs by the side of our chimney to this day." And then the man would be glad, and beg for a sight of it. Some- times it would be a piece of a mirror that showed the seeming of things ; and they said to him, " What more do you want ? There is no truth but the plain truth." And then he would say, " This can never be, for there should be more than the seeming." And sometimes it would be a piece of coal, which showed nothing; and then he would say, "This can never be, for at least there is the seeming." And sometimes it would be a touchstone indeed, beautiful in hue, the light dwelling in its sides ; and when he found this he would beg the thing, and the persons of that place would give it 4 LIGHT ON THE WAY. to him, for all men were very generous of that gift ; so that at last he had his wallet full of them. And when he halted by the side of the way he would take them out and try them ; but nothing ever came of it. Each one seemed ex- cellent by itself; yet when he put them together each one seemed to put out the shining of the others and make all their colours dull. But the desire of finding the one test of truth was so strong within him that for years he persevered in his search. At last he received a clear pebble that had no beauty and no colour. He looked upon it scornfully, and shook his head. " It will only be like the rest,' he said ; but he took it and rode away. Presently, alighting from his horse, he emptied forth his wallet by the wayside, and tried the new touchstone on the others. " Now in the light of each other all the touchstones lost their hue and fire, and withered like stars at morning ; but in the light of the pebble their beauty remained, only the pebble was the most bright. And the traveller smote upon his LIGHT Ott THE WAY. 5 brow : How if it be the truth, he cried, that all are a little true ? And he took the pebble, and turned its light upon the heavens, and they deepened about him like the pit ; and he turned it on the hills, and the hills were cold and rugged, but life ran in their sides so that his own life bounded ; and he turned it on the dust, and he beheld the dust with joy and terror ; and he turned it on himself, and he knelt down and prayed." I have quoted this because it expresses in pictorial form one of the most important truths to be remembered by all who wish to guide and help the thoughts of their fellow-men to-day. What is the real mean- ing of the conflict between the "old" and the "new" thought? There is no end to the doubts and difficulties concerning reli- gion which this conflict occasions in the minds of those who allow themselves to think ; but the confusion has a meaning. Not, that faith is dying out ; but that faith is changing its form, and the old forms are being forsaken. We are tired of seeking the living among the dead, a living faith 6 LIGHT ON THE WAY. among the ruins of old creeds ; the Lord of Truth beckons us to follow Him into a grander world of larger and more satisfying knowledge. Yet, the seeker after truth may not turn away from all that men have thought about God and duty and eternal life, and treat it as a mere accumulation of " error " ; he has to take possession of these " errors," and find the good that was in them the truth that made them survive. Olive Schreiner, in her beautiful book called Dreams, represents the truth -seeker as one climbing a mountain with slow, toilsome steps ; but this is a false analogy. He has not to scale any height that takes him away from earth ; he has to take possession of this earth and enter into it. Stevenson's picture is far more true and real. The true touchstone is not a rival to the others ; it is that which makes the others reveal what light is in them. Is it a small thing to realise that every faith which is widely and devoutly believed, from generation to gen- eration, must have some degree of truth in it ? It cannot possess all the truth it may not possess even an important truth yet LIGHT OX THE WAY. 7 it has a fragment, worth searching for and preserving. This is, of course, the reason why it is believed why men cling to it and even fight for it against what seems to be destroying it. And what we want is for old faiths to be recast into new forms, with their deeper meaning shining through more clearly ; the form changing, the old spirit remaining to grow more pure and high. This conclusion must be distinguished from that of mere " indifferentism." It does not mean that we may " Prolong and enjoy the gentle resting From further tracking and trying and testing." In his Christmas Eve Browning tells us of a disciple to whom it was granted to hold the hem of Christ's vesture and follow Him in a brief pilgrimage among the faiths of men. And to his surprise he learns that Christ has a share in every expression of human faith, even in the little whitewashed chapel with its narrow-minded, self-satisfied congregation of countryfolk and its shouting preacher, even amid the magnificent sensuous cere- 8 LIGHT ON THE WAY. monies of the mass at St Peter's in Rome, even in the lecture - room of the German university, whose professor is proving that the life of Christ is only a myth with a deep moral meaning. Not one of these is uri- visited by the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter. And so, in a few moments' reverie, the disciple falls into a mood of " mild in- differentism," since all faiths originally had one colour, and differ only as one Light refracted and broken up in various ways : "This tolerance is a genial mood ! One trims the bark 'twixt shoal and shelf, And sees, each side, the good effects of it, A value for religion's self, A carelessness about the sects of it. Let me enjoy my own conviction, Nor watch my neighbour's faith with fretful ness, Still spying there some dereliction Of truth, perversity, forgetfulness." But his enjoyment of this tolerant mood was brief : " I looked, and far there, ever fleeting Far, far away, the receding gesture, And the looming of the lessening vesture, Swept forward from my stupid hand, While I watched my foolish heart expand In a lazy glow of benevolence, O'er the varied modes of man's belief." LIGHT ON THE WAY. 9 " Genial tolerance," " mild indifferentism," the Spirit of Truth has no part in these. We needs must " track, and try, and test," only not by turning away from anything which the mind and heart of our race has produced. This is why the task of the sincere religious thinker is so hard. In all beliefs truth and error are closely inter- mingled. He will have to do his best to separate the truth from the error, so that the truth may shine as much as possible in freedom from the obstructing influence of its combination with the error. If he destroys, he must at the same time create, just as all real growth involves destruction and creation, or has a negative and a positive side. Related to the result which we have reached is a twofold principle which may be suggested by a passage from Browning, who gives perhaps its most forcible expres- sion. I refer to the Pope's famous soliloquy on the incapacity of Language : " Expect nor question nor reply At what we figure as God's judgment bar ! None of this vile way by the barren words 10 LIGHT ON THE WAY. Which, more than any deed, characterise Man as made subject to a curse. Why, can he tell you what a rose is like, Or how the birds fly, and not slip to false Though truth serve better? Man must tell his mate Of you, me, and himself, knowing he lies, Knowing his fellow knows the same will think ' He lies, it is the method of a man ! ' Therefore these filthy rags of speech, this coil Of statement, comment, query, and response, Tatters all to contaminate for use, Have no renewing : He, the Truth, is, too, The Word. We men, in our degree, may know There, simply, instantaneously, as here After long time and amid many lies." Here we touch on one of Browning's favourite thoughts, expressed by him in many ways. In Sordello, it is said that " Perceptions whole reject so pure a work of thought as language " ; and Sordello, when he tries to express his infinite dreams and desires in words, finds language only a " makeshift," the " bravest of expedients." When the Pope would put into words his own deepest convictions, he finds that " speech babbles thus " ; and Rabbi Ben Ezra tells us of " fancies which break through language and escape, and yet help to make up what we are worth to God." We describe our LIGHT ON THE WAY. 11 feelings and ideas in words which cannot o convey them ; and we are obliged to accept the expressions and act upon them as if they were perfect, while we know that they are not. Hence the Pope's paradox : " He lies, it is the method of a man." All who have come in contact with writ- ten or oral discussions on religious, theo- logical, or philosophical matters, will have noticed one thing above all else : how some- o times confusion reigns supreme solely through verbal misunderstandings. When a number of persons are " exchanging ideas," as we say, on these difficult subjects, the most which may be hoped for not that it is a small thing is that the ideas shall be really " exchanged" : that each person shall learn to understand the others' point of view, receiving their real thoughts into his own mind, and that he shall get his own thoughts expressed in such a way that the others can receive them in return. The more unaccustomed we are to thinking and speaking about the subjects in question, the harder it is for us to arrive at this mutual understanding. The topics lie outside our 12 LIGHT ON THE WAY. common, everyday ways of thinking. The difficulty in discussing them has the twofold source that Browning speaks of : language can never mean quite the same for different minds ; and in certain cases it is impossible to get our real meaning properly expressed in language. Let us look at the first of these more carefully. It is possible for people to fancy that they are thinking about a thing, when in reality they are no more thinking about it than if they were asleep and dreaming of it. It is possible for people to fancy that they are exchanging thoughts, when in real- ity they are only comparing their mental pictures. These " mental images " - as the psychologists call them are really memories of things perceived by our senses, memories combined in new ways. The images formed by different minds may, of course, roughly resemble one another, and hence may be compared by means of lan- guage, when the words stand for mental pictures rather than for thoughts. This has been called " picture thinking." But in real thinking, the mind grasps not merely some LIGHT ON THE WAY. 13 kind of image or picture of a thing ; it grasps the relations between the parts which make up that picture its intellect- ual plan or scheme. So far as we are able to do this, we begin to understand the thing ; and it is possible for such thoughts to agree perfectly, to be identically the same, though in different minds. Picture -thinking and real thinking are always mingled together in our minds ; hence it is so hard for words to mean the same for us all, so long as we are only human beings. While their meanings form part of ordinary experience, they get rubbed round, so to speak, into being practically the same for all minds ; but where the facts which the words refer to are unfamiliar, the great difficulty is to get them to suggest the same thoughts to different people. We have seen that the fixed expression of thought in language may be inadequate to the thought itself; and it is also true that the thought may be inadequate to the reality which it endeavours to express. This prin- ciple has more far - reaching consequences 14 LIGHT ON THE WAY. than the former one. Some of its conse- quences are familiar enough. How often we find difficulty in expressing all that we want to express, all that we feel or realise within us ! But we must notice carefully what this extremely common experience implies. It implies that that which we desire to express is in our minds, but is there only in the form of a feeling or vague impression ; and this we cannot get translated into precise ideas. Consider what Cardinal Newman, in his Grammar of Assent, calls a " real belief." Any belief is a " real " belief, if its subject- matter comes home to a man, or has come home to him, by the way of actual experi- ence, of whatever kind the experience may be sense, imagination, emotion, or action. Such beliefs have the common quality of being intimately bound up with, or at least intimately affecting, the growth of character and personality. To be capable of this, our thoughts must have that stability which comes of their connection with our personal experience. A belief of this sort does not consist merely of intellectual statements, as a LIGHT ON THE WAY. 15 creed or confession of faith or statement of opinion does ; it is a principle of life rather than a declaration of the intellect it tends to grow into the man and become part of himself. In this sense, when a man's belief grows wider and deeper, it is because his whole nature, or some vital part of it, has grown. It often happens that those who hold a real belief of this kind most intensely, whose lives may be entirely moulded by it, are the very ones who are least able to ex- press it in an intellectual form in the form of definite assertions which can be clearly understood. Either they cannot express it in this way at all, or, if they do, their intel- lectual formulation of it may be insufficient or even wrong. Would it not be absurd to expect a child to set down the particulars of its belief in its father and mother, in the form of a number of propositions beginning with "I believe," like a creed ? Is the reason simply because the child is a child is not old enough or wise enough ? No ; for as regards all our deepest beliefs, the real roots of our personal character, we are in the same position ourselves our best expression of 16 LIGHT ON THE WAY. them will only be imperfect, as Sordello and the Pope, in Browning's poems, tell us. The reason of this apparent incapacity of Reason is simply that man's moral and spiritual affections may grow faster or go farther than his intelligence can go ; or they may contain a complexity of material greater than his intelligence can grasp. This is more especially the case when the feelings assume unfamiliar forms or give rise to unusual experiences, as in every religious or moral "awakening" : their true meaning is veiled, for the mass of mankind, until intelligence has developed sufficiently to overtake them. The distinction on which we have been dwelling is of supreme importance for under- standing the nature and growth of religious belief. It is the distinction between what is present in the mind in the form of a vague feeling or undefined experience, and what is also present to the mind in the form of thoughts which can be transmitted from one to another. To express it in a slightly different form, it is the distinction between what we feel or experience within us, and what we not only feel but also understand. LIGHT ON THE WAY. 17 In the one case the feeling is there but is not understood, or is only vaguely under- stood ; in the other case the feeling is still there, but thought has begun to grasp its meaning. Our capacity for knowledge and insight grows when we pass from the former state into the latter never an easy passage to take ; indeed, intelligence may destroy the feeling altogether in attempting to under- stand it, and thereby mutilate our nature. When the interpretation has acquired some degree of coherence, it can be " abstracted " from experience, and then becomes a general conception or theory. Such are general mathematical and physical propositions ; such are psychological, theological, and other doctrines, creeds, and statements of opin- ion. Assent given to these is called by New- man " notional" assent. We assent notion- ally when we accept the general meaning of a statement which we meet with, without making any particular application of it. The reader will form his own conclusion as to how much of the professed religion of modern civilised lands consists of " notional assents." Assents of this kind have little or no effect B 18 LIGHT ON THE WAY. upon character ; but, of course, notional as- sents may, and often do, gradually become real beliefs. This same distinction is required to appre- ciate the movements of the collective mind of a race or of an age. Particular moods of mind, and ways of looking at realities, prevail in particular nations or periods of time, just as they do in particular men ; so that it is not a mere fancy to talk of the Zeitgeist, the mind or spirit of an age. Thus we may speak of the spirit of the Middle Age in Europe, the spirit of the Reformation, the spirit of Modern Thought, the American spirit, and so forth. The Age has to grow to understand itself and its own deepest needs, just as each man has : otherwise, as history shows, the men of that Age can only grope on their way with painful steps, and may end by " stumbling and falling in dis- astrous night." There have been many stages of human progress when Lowell's fine words were true many ages besides this present one : " I hear the Soul of Man around me waking, Like a great sea, its frozen fetters breaking, LIGHT ON THE WAY. 19 .And flinging up to heaven its sunlight spray, Tossing huge continents in scornful play, And crushing them, with din of grinding thunder, That makes old emptinesses stare in wonder ; For high and still more high the murmurs swell Of inward strife for truth and liberty." But there is needed some one to read these storm -signals of the time, to "tell the age what all its signs have meant." The great desires and feelings rising out of the heart of nature require great thoughts to keep pace with them and read their meanings ; otherwise they can only work blindly and therefore disastrously. One of these great awakenings of the human spirit took place, with an outburst of new ideas, at the end of the last century the age of the Revolution. The young, forward-looking spirits of all lands hailed it as the clear dawn of a brighter day. It is not too much to say, with Renan " After having groped for many long years in the darkness of infancy, without con- sciousness of itself, the time came when Humanity, like the individual, took pos- session of itself, as it were, when it became aware of its own strength, when it felt 20 LIGHT ON THE WAY. itself to be a living unity." Humanity took its stand as a free moral being, responsible for itself. But why did this awakening have so many evil consequences ? Because the men who guided the new movements did not understand the feeling which caused them as they rose in the heart of the race ; their leaders could not read the meaning of this new consciousness of being a living unity. They were the political theorists of the age, the disciples in politics of Rousseau and Voltaire ; and the better thought of modern times has shown that the political theories of that day were beset with radical and fatal errors. Yet they led the way : as Kenan says, history shows us nothing analogous to the fact that we see at the end of the last century, " of theorists, men in no way concerned with actual politics, radically changing the whole of previously received ideas, and carrying a great revolution consciously and deliber- ately on the faith of their systems." It is a memorable historical example of a sound feeling guided and interpreted by faulty theories. Humanity still feels itself to be LIGHT ON THE WAY. 21 a living unity. Emerson says there are " accents of the Holy Ghost the heedless world hath never lost," and this is one. But we have better interpreters to tell us what this feeling means ; and it would be well if we had as many to tell us what Religion means, by the same process of interpreting man's nature. We must dwell on the supreme historical example of this law, that the discernment of truth depends on man's discovery of what he is and what he is fitted to be. The illustration is one which is very tempting to dwell upon, but also very difficult to deal with the state of things at the time when Christianity began to spread in the world. The belief of the earliest Christians throughout the Greek and Roman world must have been that living belief of which we have been speaking, which is an element in character and takes its place among the springs of action. Hence our thought may fail to grasp it ; and doubtless for this reason not many of the first Christians could have given any sufficient intellectual 22 LIGHT ON THE WAY. account of the power which their acquaint- ance with the life and teachings of Jesus gave them. We must remember that it was a real power, which many of them gained for the first time. This is true, notwithstanding the numbers of "perverts" who at the first sign of persecution hastened to sacrifice in the temples of the established religion. To be Christians, men had not merely to say this or that, or go through any routine of action or form of words, for creeds and ceremonies had scarcely begun to arise ; nor had they to exercise their reasoning faculties merely, for the great majority of the converts had no intellectual powers above the ordinary level, and were not drawn from the classes who were men- tally cultivated ; but in order to be Chris- tians and maintain their faith, they had to possess in a high degree that almost inde- finable quality which we call strength or force of character, and their hardships and sufferings served to call this forth. In order to understand why this simple doctrine came to them almost as a new life, let us try to realise the kind of world LIGHT ON THE WAY. 23 in which the first apostles of Christianity went forth. We shall best do this by contrasting it with the classical Greek world as it was at its best the Greece which we are thinking of when we speak of Greek architecture, sculpture, or litera- ture. " Greece " was not one, but many States, embracing a number of independent commonwealths. Now, in such a common- wealth, the majority of the "citizens" that is, of those who had civic rights could satisfy themselves by the place and function which they found in its affairs ; and they could find guidance for their lives in its laws and customs. And when all the citizens were able to meet together in a general congress to hear the affairs of the State discussed, " public life " meant much more for them than it can ever mean for us ; and the part which the citizen took in it gave free play to his best desires and needs. Instinctively he would act on the two characteristic Greek maxims which may be rendered "learn thine own powers" and " carry none to excess." The Greek delighted in the beauty and brightness and 24 LIGHT ON THE WAY. joy of this world ; he sought to make life a harmony of the soul and the body, each life being only one note in a wider harmony of many different lives. As long as the Greek spirit sought instinctively to express itself thus, the great problem of the duty and destiny of the individual man, or the " salvation of the soul," could hardly arise. Philosophy pondered its problems and sought to understand things, but this was just for the sake of understanding them, and not expressly " for all men's good," which Epicurus afterwards supposed to be the chief aim of philosophic thought. On the contrary, it was pure scientific speculation, dealing with such subjects as the basis of certainty, the laws of thought, the laws of Nature, the meaning of the world. Thus the spirit of the community expressed itself, practically, in making human life free and beautiful, and yet reasonable ; and theoreti- cally, in an intellectual interpretation of this life which was complete enough to prevent any serious discord between the speculations of the greatest thinkers and the general feeling of the time. LIGHT ON THE WAY. 25 Iii a few generations more, this harmony, both on its theoretical and practical sides, was destined to be utterly broken up, and all its elements scattered abroad like dust ; and the causes of this were partly external, partly internal. Turning our attention first to the latter, we notice that the free har- monious social life had in itself defects and limitations which prepared the way for its approaching fate. We observe that it was limited to the one community. The Greek could not conceive it as realised otherwise than in a small self-contained commonwealth like the one in which he lived. We observe also that even within the single State the highest life was attainable only by citizens who had leisure, and the means and oppor- tunity of self-cultivation. The multitude of slaves, menials, and dependents had no share in it at all ; and they formed the larger part of the population. Indeed, if we include these in our idea of the community, then such a State as Athens, for example, the most enlightened of Greek States, deserves to be called an " oligarchy " rather than a "republic." We observe, finally, that the 26 LIGHT ON THE WAY. Ideal itself, the Greek conception of the highest life as it was theoretically expressed by the philosophers, was defective. It was a combination of two ideals, an intellectual and a moral ; and there is a significant difference in the places assigned to them, which may be illustrated well by reference to the teaching of Aristotle. First is placed the Ideal of Truth or the rational comprehension of things, the Ideal of man's intellectual consciousness as such. This is made of supreme worth ; the life of ordinary virtue has value only as facilitating the development of Reason. In Professor William Wallace's words, the Divine Life for Aristotle is a " life of mental self-realisation, of philosophical truth-seeking and truth-seeing, ever successful, yet peren- nially interesting ; justice and virtue, holiness and mercy, have no meaning here." This intellectual Ideal is one which a man can pursue for himself alone ; it is " individual- istic " in the modern sense of the word. The moral Ideal, as we have seen, could hardly be thought of by the Greek as being other than social. Plato and Aristotle are as LIGHT OX THE WAY. 27 emphatic as St Paul in teaching that we are members one of another, that man cannot live to himself alone. Yet the idea of applying this, outside the limits of the State, was far from their thought ; and within, it had little effect on the moral and religious imagination of the common people. Bearing in mind these defects in the Greek Ideal of life, we can see the meaning of the great political changes that were to come. The conquest of the small Greek States by the Macedonian kings broke up the exclusive feeling which each community had possessed before ; then, the conquest of the powerful Persian empire by the Mace- donian Alexander the Great brought Greece under one government with the East ; and, finally, the increasing conquests of the Roman power brought Greece and the East under one government with the West. The Greek city-states were dissipated, so to speak, as the rock -pools are by the rising tide. The bonds which had held the citizen to the small environment of his own common- wealth were cut through, and he was trans- planted into an environment indefinitely 28 LIGHT ON THE WAY. wide. The old willing, self -satisfy ing in- terest in public life could no longer exist. The new means of travel and intercourse between different lands broke up old asso- ciations and weakened patriotic ties. Man had somehow to make himself, not a citizen of a State whose territory covered a few square miles, but a citizen of the world. It could not be done. There was nothing to replace the lost feeling of brotherhood, of unity and mutual responsibility, which had prevailed among all who " counted for some- thing " in the life of the State ; while the condition of the populace remained as before, or grew worse. The most striking sign of the times was not the immorality and brutality which existed in parts of the Roman Empire, and of which we read so much ; for, terrible as this was, there were already forces at work tending to destroy it. What was most characteristic of the age was the breaking up of old bonds of connection which had held men together. Hence the deepest need of the age was a conception of the Divine Kingdom which would be of universal ap- LIGHT ON THE WAY. 29 plication, making it a kingdom in which each and all might have a portion. In other words, there was needed a theoretical and practical recognition of the individual man as such, which would at the same time allow him to express his will in free harmony with his fellow -men. What, then, was the in- tellectual development of the age, and how far did it understand this need ? Look first at its theoretical teaching. Plato had laid stress on the greatness of the difference between the ideal or divine world, where eternal Truth and Beauty dwell, and the world of things that we can touch and see ; and on the greatness of the difference be- tween the highest rational life and the life of emotion and passion. Aristotle, his suc- cessor, made the highest life one of pure intellectual activity. In the period which followed, this " intellectual is t " tendency grew stronger still. The highest or purely rational life became something divine, which was more and more removed from the natural life of this world, and at length was opposed to the world in its very nature ; so that men could not reach anything divine and holy, 30 LIGHT ON THE WAY. anything in which their spirits could rest, except by forsaking all the interests which make up this earthly life of ours. Similarly, on its practical side, the mind of the age made the isolation of individuals more sharply felt. Profoundly dissatisfied with the actual world, men tried in Stoicism and kindred systems to escape from it by withdrawing wholly into themselves : " Abstain and endure ; be not dependent for thy happi- ness on the accidents of the surrounding world be sufficient for thyself" ! This relentless resignation was only an expression of defeat. Thus, when men needed above all things to be brought nearer to one another and nearer to divine realities, the mind of the age emphasised their isolation and separ- ation in both respects. There was no great prophetic or scientific genius for three centuries after the death of Aristotle no one with insight enough to tell the age what all its restless distracted feeling meant. This is the supreme instance which history affords, of the human mind not only being ignorant of its own deepest needs, but con- LIGHT ON THE WAY. 31 ceiving them to be the opposite of what they really were. There is no need to dwell on the way in which primitive Christianity brought forth an idea of the Kingdom of Heaven which was equal to universalising the righteousness which Plato taught, mak- ing it a life in which all could share ; and the way in which it brought men nigh unto God by finding that the divinest life had verily been lived on this earth. The meaning of our principle must now surely be evident, whether it is applied to the single life or to the life of the age. Self-knowledge, in every direction of it, has and must have degrees of truth. It attains truth by rationalising or interpreting the facts of immediate experience, which are always real, but may be so tumultuous as to entail disastrous consequences, if the in- tellect is not sufficiently developed to be capable of giving them adequate form or expression. We have been dwelling on a little group of principles which endeavour to express the conditions on which the progressive 32 LIGHT ON THE WAY. growth of truth depends. The fourth and last of these now comes under our notice. Some observers have supposed that the ceaseless conflict and confusion among re- ligious and other beliefs proves that truth can never be attained by man. This is only to apply to all our spiritual life on its intellectual side, a mode of criticism which is constantly applied in particular cases : as when the defenders of the " orthodox " view of the Bible speak about the " discordant theories of the so-called Higher Critics." The assumption seems to be that if those who are investigating the truth in any branch of inquiry disagree in their methods or conclusions, they are proved to be pursu- ing an illusion. This assumption is not only false as a matter of fact and experience ; it is absurd, from the nature of our intelligence. The attainment of truth would be impossible without this mutual struggle. Of Truth, as of Goodness, we may say sub pondere crescit its growth is only possible through strife and opposition overcome. Let us con- sider this principle in its ethical aspect for a moment. The higher ethical teaching LIGHT ON THE WAY. 33 of to-day which is that of Christianity from the beginning shows that the victory of Goodness comes through its work in transforming evil : not annihilating the evil, but, as it were, rearranging the energy and turning it to good purposes, "unmaking to remake." What Christian thinkers have called Love is the root and vital principle of all the highest human goodness. And this living Love which is Divine, the Love which is ever bearing, believing, hoping, enduring, rejoicing not in iniquity but re- joicing in the truth the Love which not only can do this but must needs do it could never come to be but for the suffer- ings, sins, mistakes, and conflicts of life : while yet it is ever overcoming these and turning them to good. So, in matters of the intellect, Truth is in its own way a transforming power which can be realised only through the conflict of partial truths. This has been finely said by Professor Pfleiderer : To learn from History aright, we need an insight, penetrating through the confused play of outward events into the reality of men and things, into the deep C 34 LIGHT ON THE WAY. thoughts which are the controlling motives underlying even the apparent discord of individual passions ; we need an unprejudiced appreciation of the necessity even of the oppositions and conflicts, the errors and passions of men, because, as Hegel says, following Heracleitus, strife is the father of all things, and only through the strife of partial rights and one-sided truths can the whole truth of God struggle into existence ; we need an in- telligent reverence for the heroic figures in history, in whom is embodied the genius of nations or ages, who as instruments of a higher Power have roused the thought slumbering in the souls of all, have given it clear expression, and in mighty deeds have summoned it to life. 1 The conflict of beliefs, then, is not between the true on one side and the false on the other, but between partial truths, each mingled with partial errors. The question is never, Which of these two opposite beliefs is right, and which wrong? but, What is the truth and error in each ? And to answer this question, we have to find a point of view above both the conflicting principles, from which to criticise them ; that is, we need a principle containing more truth than either of them. Were it not for this contradiction and opposition, the higher principle could never emerge even 1 Development of Theology, p. 70. LIGHT ON THE WAY. 35 the mere need for it could never be felt. The attainment of truth is only possible because different human thinkers defend different and conflicting beliefs and theories so that here one thing is upheld, there the opposite. It counts for nothing that this or that individual man gives up the effort, and despairs of real knowledge, fall- ing back on Scepticism or Credulity ; human Reason is possessed of immortal energy, and attacks its problems again and ever again, with irresistible, undying confidence in it- self and in its power of attaining to real knowledge at last. There is a very significant form which the conflict among beliefs may take, and often has taken. We know how often it happens that in the history of human thought two extreme conclusions on some important ques- tion are formed and maintained in opposi- tion to one another. This is especially the case in questions of theology and philosophy, and political and social ethics. Now in such cases Aristotle gives a profound meaning to the old Greek maxim ft^Se^ ayav (" nothing in excess"), by teaching that what is re- 36 LIGHT ON THE WAY. quired is TO Siopie>, the rational discrimina- tion which enables us to find a middle way between the two extremes. I hasten to add an explanation, lest this should seem the merest barren commonplace. There are two ways of finding a mean between two ex- tremes. One of them is simply to take what the two extreme views have in common, and throw away all their differences. As a general rule, the differences are so extensive as between the extreme form of State- socialism and the extreme form of Individ- ualism that the only " mean " which we can get between them by this way amounts to nothing at all : we have only a barren " suspense of judgment." This is sometimes treated as if it were the special mark of profound thought and of a mind free from prejudice. I fear that in many cases it is only the mark of intellectual indolence or cowardice. But there is another method of finding a middle way, a middle way which does not contain less than either of the extremes, but more than either. This was the " mean " that Aristotle had in view ; and to reach it, it is essential that we should LIGHT ON THE WAY. 37 be reasonable or rational. This does not mean that we should always be arguing, endeavouring to pass from premises to con- clusions by discursive argument ; the most reasonable portion of the community does not consist of the people who are constantly engaged in reasoning. It is the best result of a genuine education a genuine training of the mind so to widen the mind on all its sides that it is capable of this kind of rational discrimination. It takes the whole man not merely the logical faculty to find the true mean between the extremes. To do this we must rise above them both, find the truth that there is in each, and include it in a higher truth. It is never easy to do this ; but whenever we can do it with two opposing doctrines or beliefs, we may be sure we have gone beyond them both to a deeper truth. The value of their conflict and their opposition is just to sug- gest the need for the deeper truth, and sometimes also to suggest the way to reach it. Hence sometimes the most instructive criticism of beliefs is simply to compare them. In the sequel we shall often have 38 LIGHT ON THE WAY. to contrast various views and attitudes of mind with one another, and the one will throw light on the other. If now we try to put into one question the essence of our modern demand upon religious thought the point which is the focus of all prevailing perplexities - - the question will be this : What or where is the depository of truth or certainty ? What can we definitely rely upon ? If we could reach this " Seat of Authority " and rest upon it, we should know where we are ; but as it is, the various religious bodies not only are ignorant of their real posi- tion, but are almost afraid to inquire into it. To some minds, perhaps, the outcome of the doctrines on which we have been dwelling that Truth always has degrees, is always growing from less to more in History, and at the best is stained by error - will seem far from satisfactory. They will appear to imply that everything must be left an open question. It is well to have a general trust in Reason ; but if everything is thus left an " indeterminate equation," the old question recurs, Where LIGHT ON THE WAY. 39 is the Seat of Authority ? Whatever form of belief we may accept, it would seem to be a blind bargain a leap in the dark. If by "leaving everything an open ques- tion" the objector means, "concluding that no one may go to work by the light of his own private reason and conscience, and draw up a catalogue of statements, theological, ethical, or philosophical, which shall be inviolable certainties," then truly we have left everything " open." Such " certainty," affirmative or negative, is intellectually absurd and ethically undesirable. We can reach only what is relatively the most true for us. Truth, like goodness, is a growing power in our race ; and neither of them can be pursued save by penetrating to the heart of what man has already accomplished in the accumulation of moral ideas and ideals, or of intellectual beliefs and systems. No one but a prophet introducing a new movement into the world has the right to seek them in any other way. Only one who tries to detach himself from the spiritual streams of tendency in humanity is trying to take a " leap in the dark." He seeks to set up 40 LIGHT ON THE WAY. reason and conscience, in the particular forms which they have taken in himself, as absolute judges and critics of the general spiritual life of humanity ; while in reality it is this progressive life of humanity which penetrates and partly creates his individual personality, with all its habits of thought and feeling. A great spiritual heritage has come down to us. We know that it is a growth of truth and error together : hence we need to develop its contents into forms which, when judged by the wider experience of to-day, contain more truth or express more reality ; and principles, such as those which we have been considering, are the natural furniture of reason for doing this. Our experience must be in every direction deep as well as wide, and our Reason power- ful enough to grasp its meaning, and sympathetic enough to reach the heart of what in the past was thought to be the mean- ing of experience and has come down to us as " true belief." Experience and its rational interpretation these two inseparable fac- tors, ever variable yet ever progressive constitute the basis of human knowledge. LIGHT ON THE WAY. 41 The beginning of the last century marked the dawn of a new era in social, political, and religious thought and life, one of the results of the great awakening which made the Age of the Revolution. Limiting our attention to England, we find that during the eighteenth century religious thought, among cultivated people, was ruled by the main ideas of Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding. That is to say, thought was governed by a great respect for facts and realities ; the soundest kind of reasoning was that which began with facts ; and the most real fact, from which we cannot get away, with which we must always start and to which we must ever return, was that infinite machine which we call Nature, the world of things that can be seen and touched. Nature a machine that was the scientific motto of the time : a machine which somehow had been set going. Paley argued that we might reason from the universe to its divine Maker, just as we do from any other machine (a watch, for instance) to its human maker. Thus religious thought became a hard and dry 42 LTGHT ON THE WAY. logical " supernaturalism." l The evidence of the senses was taken as the final test of truth ; and God was believed in as the cause of the physical world which our senses show us. His being was still further de- fined by appeal to " revelation " ; the re- velation was believed in because of the miracles and prophecies which were sup- posed to have accompanied it. We find the same reliance on the tangible facts of the senses in the moral sphere. Thus Paley explains Virtue as "doing good to man- kind, in obedience to the Will of God, and for the sake of everlasting happiness." Hope for heaven and fear of hell are the motives appealed to. Locke, again, had al- ready given the following account of " the true ground of morality " : it is " the will and law of a God who sees men in the dark, has in His hands rewards and punishments, and power to call to account the proudest offender." This general view of things is now called 1 Of course such ideas have survived right down to our own day. But the point is, that they were maintained^by the leaders of thought in the eighteenth century ; and this is far from true of the nineteenth. LIGHT ON THE WAY. 43 Deism. We may contrast the deistic view of Nature with that idea which Words- worth and Carlyle to mention no others -have so often expressed, that Nature is no dead machine but the living gar- ment of God ; and we may contrast the deistic view of God with that faith which has been held by poets and thinkers of every age and nation, and has been power- fully uttered in Carlyle's outburst l against the idea of " An Architect who constructed the world, sitting as it were apart, and guiding it and seeing it go": "God is not only there, but here or nowhere, in that life-breath of thine, in that act and thought of thine : and thou wert well to look to it." These are voices of the reaction against Deism. The result of the deistic tendency was, that by the end of the century, religious life in England had very much decayed. J. H. Newman, writing in 1839, spoke of "the dry and superficial character of the religious teaching of the last generation, or century," and of " the 1 Cf. his chapter on " Natural Supernaturalisra " in Sartor Resartus. 44 LIGHT ON THE WAY. need felt by both the hearts and intellects of the nation for a deeper philosophy." And he goes on to describe the reaction : It is not so much a movement as a spirit afloat, rising up in hearts where it was least suspected, and working itself, though not in secret, yet so subtly and impalpably as hardly to admit of precaution and encounter on any ordinary human rules of opposition. It is the spiritual awakening of spiritual wants. 1 What Newman here speaks of was part of the whole reaction which was led by Coleridge and Wordsworth, which was helped by Scott, and which was to be carried on by Carlyle against a revival of deistic thought in his own day. If we were dealing with the general development of English thought at the time, it would be necessary to dwell on all these writers in turn ; but we only need to observe the outcome of the religious and theological side of the reaction. It is usual to regard J. H. Newman and Frederick Maurice as representative of the two great movements in this awakening spirit, the two which afterwards in England were called the High Church and the Broad Church move- 1 Apologia, p. 96. LIGHT ON THE WAY. 45 ments. But for our purpose it will be more instructive to contrast with Newman the teaching of one whose system stands at the opposite pole : the eminent Unitarian thinker, James Martineau. This will pre- pare the way for the study of another pair of thinkers who also though both are thorough Agnostics stand facing in opposite ways : Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer. Of what we may learn from these four leaders of thought, we shall endeavour to make, as it were, an arch. Then we shall turn to Robert Browning ; and what we may learn from him will form the keystone. 46 CHAPTEK II. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. SUMMARY. NOTICING briefly Newman's relation to the Oxford " Tractarian " movement, we observe the following per- sonal characteristics which go to explain the development of his opinions : (1) His reverence for Antiquity. Kenan suggests an explanation of this feeling. (2) His insist- ence on dogma as of essential importance in religion ; it is necessary to have a dogmatic system which must be absolutely true. This may be contrasted with the opposite extreme view, of which we may give examples. The conclusion is, that the work of thought in producing doctrine is a necessary part of religion, especially at the present day, when thoroughness in religious doctrine is required above all else ; but it is not the essential part of religion. His theory of belief in the University Sermons rests on a distinction between the implicit but real belief and its explicit intellectual interpretation : the latter must always be partly inadequate. We may examine the contrast between the use which Newman makes of this psychological fact or law and the use which we have made of it. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 47 In the Essay on Development of Doctrine he contends that Roman Catholic Christianity is a true development from, and therefore at bottom identical with, primitive Christianity. This rests on a wrong view of what devel- opment means. On the other hand, his objections to the popular Protestant principle of " the Bible and the Bible only " are sound, and suggest points which modern Biblical Criticism has developed. We may examine the error in his view of development, and the impossibility of finding an " infallible " authority. On the other hand, the opposite extreme must be avoided. The history of doctrine is not a gradual corruption of primitive purity and simplicity ; and we cannot doctrinally " return to Christ" in any real sense of the words. OUR purpose here will not require us to think over in detail the history of the Ox- ford " Tractarian " movement, which New- man led for the first eight years of its existence (1833 to 1841). It was originated with a design which was in the main poli- tical to restore the authority of the Angli- can episcopacy ; but its leaders well knew the unspiritual character of the actual Epis- copate of the time, and its dull resistance to moral reforms. The Church was in danger of becoming like the dry bones in the valley of Ezekiel's vision. Newman in his Apologia speaks several times almost with contempt of the " traditional Church- 48 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. of-Englandism " and " high Toryism " which prevailed in the first quarter of the century. The "Oxford movement " was a reawaken- ing of religious thought not merely of thought about religion. It was part of that general spiritual awakening to which we referred at the end of the last chapter ; but owing to the religious temper of its leaders it became reactionary. The spirit of reaction in the Church of England always begins if it is strong and vigorous by disavowing the Reformation, and is prepared to go much further in the same direction ; this was Newman's spirit. If the spirit of reaction is feeble, it merely appeals to taste, elaborates high ritual, and employs ecclesi- astical symbolism of every kind. This was the spirit of the Oxford movement after Newman left it. The strong reaction works with more or less clear consciousness " to- wards Rome " ; the other is only a feeble imitation of Roman ceremonial. Love of Truth has led many through despair of " private judgment" to the Church of Rome, as it led Newman ; I question whether love of ritual has done so. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 49 The divergence of the movement from the o ideals of Anglicanism began to appear in 1841, when Newman published a tract in which he endeavoured to fix the relation of the Thirty -nine Articles of the Church to Roman doctrine. This caused a great divi- sion among the adherents of the movement, and many who had hitherto been its friends ceased to countenance it. Some even joined in the denunciations which the Evangelicals had from the beginning poured upon its "drift towards Rome." Newman had been trying to defend the system of what he called " Catholic Truth " meaning the Catholicism of the Fathers as a via media between Romanism on the one hand and " popular Protestantism " on the other ; but four years more of reflection convinced him that the grounds and reasons for which he accepted the system of " Catholic Truth " as authori- tative required him to accept also the whole system of Papal Catholicism. In 1845 he sought admission into the Church of Rome a step in which he was followed by a hundred and fifty prominent clergymen and laymen. D 50 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. Newman's development expresses consis- tently the real spirit of the Oxford move- ment. This matter is of much more than merely historical interest : Newman stands for types of thought and feeling which are still strong, and which require to be under- stood. One of his most marked characteristics was an inborn reverence for Antiquity - above all, of course, for Christian antiquity. Thus in the Apologia he says, speaking of his thoughts during the year 1832 : With the Establishment, thus threatened and divided, I contrasted the fresh vigorous power in the first cen- turies, of which I was reading ; . . . I ever kept before me that there was something greater than the Established Church, and that was the Church Catholic and Apostolic, set up from the beginning. He was urging men to study the Fathers, about the time when his brother Francis was beginning a progress away from ortho- doxy. There is in history what Renan has called a kind of optical illusion : The present century is always seen through a cloud of dust raised by the whirl of actual life ; and we can scarcely distinguish, in this whirlwind, the real signs of the time or the heart and mind of the age. This JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 51 crowd of transitory interests has vanished from before the Past, which thus appears to us grave, severe, dis- interested. Looking at it by means of its books and monuments only in other words, as manifested in its thought we are tempted to believe that people did nothing else than think. 1 The noise of the street, the stir of the market-place, and all the temporal interests and motives which sometimes ruled its thought, do not come down to posterity. When the men of the future see us, freed from all that disturbing tumult, perhaps they will judge us as many of us judge the Past. Whether this be the reason or not, it is certain that there are many who, like Newman, care nothing for the present when compared with the Past ; they try to make themselves merely children of the Past, and sometimes of a Past that is dead. We must try to make ourselves children of a Past that is living, and of a Present that is destined to live. Newman's religious convictions began to take form in boyhood, and in youth he was a thorough Calvinist. This probably ac- counts for a vein of austerity in his character, 1 L'Avenir de la Science, ch. iv. 52 JOHN HENHY NEWMAN. which only became softened down after he joined the Church of Rome. The almost inhuman austerity of many of his utter- ances in the Parochial and Plain Sermons may be contrasted with the ethical tone of the sermons preached at the Oratory and elsewhere. Equally important with his reverence for the Past was his feeling of the essential function of dogma in religion. In the Apologia he says : From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the funda- mental principle of my religion; I cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion. Religion as a mere sentiment is to me a dream and a mockery. The justice of the last remark may be fully granted. Religion involves ideas as well as feelings and actions; and in these days the demand is that the ideas shall be far more clearly and thoroughly thought out. There are many to - day who write and speak as if they had forgotten this. It almost seems as if they imagined that religious ideas, religious thought in the proper sense, were of no importance. In some cases this even leads to mistaking JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 53 vagueness and confusion of mind for spirit- uality. In others, the idea seems to be that because certain theological controver- sies are now extinct, and many venerable doctrines are dying away, we can dispense with doctrine that is, with appeals to the intellect altogether. Thus, a recent writer says : The Trinitarian controversy is passing away, it is ceasing to interest. Subjects such as the spiritual nature of man, the Infinite in the soul, the brotherhood of races, the inherent possibilities of human society, and the everlasting union of the Divine with the human spirit, are vastly more important and urgent than the question of the unity and trinity of Persons in the Godhead. 1 Most true, we reply : but are we to come to any definite conclusions on these great questions ? If so, how can we do it without thought, without " doctrine " ? Are men, who have reached diametrically opposite conclusions on such matters, to work to- gether in Churches ? If so, for what can they work ? When the same writer goes on to say, " We want more and more, in these days, 1 From a pamphlet by the Rev. E. I. Fripp. 54 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. churches broadly and spiritually Christian," his position is not so satisfactory as it seems. The practical meaning of religion is indeed "the principal thing"; but that practical meaning has to be thought out. There is a danger which besets very many liberal religious thinkers now, the danger of harping on such phrases as " the Father- hood of God " and " the Brotherhood of Man," and at the same time failing to bring out their real meaning. I have sometimes heard a preacher discourse on such topics as this, that God is our Father and that we are all brothers : he has dwelt on the beauty of this faith how "broad and spiritual " it is ; and this has seemed good to listen to. But when I have thought it over afterwards, and to use a plain and homely phrase tried to find what it really comes to, it has dwindled away and there has been nothing to grasp. When we plunge into the work of the busy world, the daily hopes and fears and needs of men in the strain and stress of life for these things are always with us then this lan- guage of the Fatherhood of God and the JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 55 Brotherhood of Man may easily come to be "a tale of little meaning, though the words be strong." We need to have such ideas brought home to life ; that is, instead of listening to any general discourse about God as a Father, we need to be shown how God works to find Him at work in the common life around us. The demand that this age makes is, as it was in ages past, " ' Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us ! ' Show us the Father at work, show us His judgments and chastisements, His revelation, His love, mercy, and help : bring all these things home to us ! " The spirit of the age speaks here ; and hymns, prayers, sermons, service that fail to hear and answer the appeal are obsolete and dead. Help us to see what God's Fatherhood is see it with our eyes, not merely speak about it ; help us to see with our eyes how all men are brothers, and how they may learn to be more so ! Thus the work of thought in producing doctrine is a necessary part of religion ; on the other hand we do not say that it is the essential part. But Newman would 56 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. insist that it verily is the essential part ; "my battle," he says, "was against Liberal- ism i.e., the anti- dogmatic principle and its developments." We cannot have religion without the absolute dogmas of a personal God, of His incarnation and His various relations to man, in this life and the next, together with the numerous subordinate doctrines flowing from these ; and we must be sure that each of these dogmas is accurately and perfectly true. It is in seeking an authority for this complex dogmatic system that Newman is gradually driven to the haven of Roman Catholic " infallibility." The root of the matter lies in his failure to distinguish between religion itself and a particular expression of it in doctrine and ritual. In conse- quence of this, his deeply religious nature and earnest desire for real conviction led him to regard dogma as of supreme im- portance ; and this again led him to the Church of Rome. Newman's failure to distinguish between religion and the intellectual expression of its contents is remarkable, for he himself JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 57 works out an account of Belief which would render this distinction necessary. Let us first consider some of his utter- ances before he joined the Church of Rome. It will be sufficient to select some passages from the Sermons Preached before the Uni- versity of Oxford. A recurring thought in these is that we do not become aware of religious truth by conscious investigation. To speak of a rational Faith need not mean more than that Faith is accordant to right Reason in the abstract, not that it results from it in the particular case. True Faith admits, but does not require, the exercise of what is commonly called Reason [or Argument]. l Then, we may ask, is the process which leads to Faith inexplicable? "Yes, in part," answers Newman : There are two processes distinct from each other, the original process of reasoning, and next the process of investigating our reasonings. All men reason, for to reason is nothing more than to gain truth from former truth, without the intervention of sense; but all men do not reflect upon their own reasonings, much less reflect truly and accurately, so as to do justice to their own meaning ; but only in proportion to their abilities and attainments. In other words, all men have a reason, but not all men can give a reason. We may devote 1 Sermons x. and xiii. 58 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. these two exercises of mind as unconscious and conscious reasoning, or as Implicit Reason and Explicit Reason. . . . That these two exercises are not to be confounded to- gether would seem too plain for remark, except that they have been confounded. Clearness in argument certainly is not indispensable to reasoning well. Accuracy in stating doctrine or principles is not essential to feeling and acting on them. The exercise of analysis is not necessary to the integrity of the process analysed. The process of reasoning is complete in itself, and indepen- dent ; the analysis is but an account of it ; it does not make the conclusion correct; it does not make the inference rational. And in Implicit Reasoning there may be many conditions influencing the mind which it is impossible for it to express in words : No analysis is subtle and delicate enough to represent adequately the state of mind under which we believe, or the subjects of belief, as they are presented to our thoughts. ... Is it not hopeless to expect that the most diligent and anxious investigation can end in more than in giving some very rude description of the living mind, and its feelings, thoughts, and reasonings 1 Now surely this must apply to religious dogmas also as well as to the process which produces them : and if so, no dogma can be accurately and perfectly true. If our analysis or intellectual expression of the process which leads to Faith must be partly inadequate, so must the dogma be, JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 59 which is only an intellectual expression of the Faith itself. And therefore dogma cannot be the essential part of religion ; the essential part is what dogma imperfectly expresses and sometimes distorts. We notice that Newman just reverses this conclusion. He first points out that because men's arguments may be bad while their implicit reasons are good, because their professed grounds are no sufficient measure of their real ones, on this account, the evidence which can be given for a belief usually appears insufficient or in- conclusive ; indeed the real grounds can- not be stated in an intellectually conclusive form the belief cannot be completely " proved." So far he is on the solid ground of fact ; no one of us could assign conclusive proofs for his deepest beliefs, religious or other, while yet these beliefs have grown into his mind, become part of himself, and are felt to be practically " certain " or in- evitable. But from this Newman goes on to infer that it is a law of our nature to form settled beliefs on inconclusive evidence, to feel a certainty disproportioried to the 60 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. evidence which can be explicitly produced to justify it. Thus he says : Faith is a process of the Reason in which so much of the grounds of inference cannot be exhibited, so much lies in the character of the mind itself, in its general view of things, its estimate of the probable and the improbable, its impressions concerning God's will, and its anticipations derived from its own inbred wishes, that it [Faith] will ever seem to the world irrational and des- picable ; till, that is, the event confirms it. ... The Word of Life is offered to a man ; and, on its being offered, he has faith in it. Why 1 On these two grounds, the word of its human messenger, and the likelihood of the message. And why does he feel the message to be probable 1 Because he has a love for it, love being strong though the testimony is weak. He has a keen sense of the intrinsic excellence of the message, of its desirableness, of its likeness to what it seems to him Divine Goodness would vouchsafe, did it vouchsafe any, of the need of a revelation, and its probability. Thus Faith is the reasoning of a religious mind, or of what Scripture calls a right or renewed heart, which acts upon presumptions rather than evidence, which speculates and ventures on the future without being sure of it. 1 This last sentence, together with the re- mark about the event confirming Faith, seems to imply the view that the test of religious truth is that it works: in other words, that life as we know it, or as in our best moments we should wish it to be, 1 Sermon xi. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 61 can be built upon it. But Newman does not develop tbis line of thought. In any case prior to the application of this test, we must ask ourselves " what is life as we know it, and what is it that as human beings we require that it should be ? " The view to which we were led is that the "centre of gravity" of religion lies in the experience which the dogmas attempt to interpret. Newman's view is that the centre of gravity lies in the dogmas re- garded as absolutely true. He admits that the arguments which can be adduced in favour of these amount at best only to a presumption or probability ; but we can rest in them as certainties because of the psy- chological law above mentioned. Thus the only ground of certainty is the power of the emotions and the will to hold some- thing to be certain : the intellect can only produce various " probabilities " to help be- lief. This was the kind of Faith which animated the many fanatical sects which arose during the Reformation period in Europe. It is a merely subjective test i.e., it makes each man for himself the determinant of 62 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. Truth. As Professor Pfleiderer observes, this merely subjective or personal certainty cannot rest upon itself, but to render it secure requires the support of the greatest possible number of other persons that is, of external authority. This argument New- man elaborates in the Grammar of Assent, written after he had been many years in the Church of Rome. Many passages in this book are encumbered with needlessly subtle distinctions ; but it is one of the ablest in- quiries into the nature of Belief which has been written in this century. Its prin- ciples are kindred to those of Mr Bal four's Defence of Philosophic Doubt and Founda- tions of Belief. We shall examine them more fully in the sequel. He accurately assigns some of the psychological laws under which beliefs are formed, but draws a fatally erroneous conclusion from them. Before turning to the Grammar of Assent, we must look at the Essay on the Develop- ment of Christian Doctrine : while Newman was completing this book he was thinking himself into the Roman Catholic Church. It is quite in the modern spirit in its way JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 63 of approaching the problem ; it views the history in the light of the idea of Develop- ment. Christian doctrine was not given to the world originally in a perfect form. " The principle of development," he says, " is discernible from the first years of Catholic teaching up to the present day, and gives to that teaching a unity and in- dividuality." But the conclusion is not at all in the modern spirit. It is as he ex- presses it in the Apologia that this prin- ciple [development] " served as a sort of test, which the Anglicans could not exhibit, that modern Rome was in truth ancient Antioch, Alexandria, Constantinople " " an argument in favour of the identity of Roman and primitive Christianity." His position is that either the Roman developments of Christianity are the true ones, or the whole history of doctrine is a history of gradual corruption. He reaches the view that the Roman developments are the true ones because as we shall see his argument rests on a mistaken view of what develop- ment implies. But we may first see how he meets the other view, that the process is 64 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. one in which the primitive purity and sim- plicity of the Gospel becomes gradually corrupted. This would be maintained by two differ- ent parties, in different ways. The ortho- dox Protestant would say : " ' The Bible, and the Bible only, is the religion of Pro- testants ! ' We appeal from the Church to the Bible." The modern liberal religious thinker would say : " ' Christianity as Christ preached it is our religion ! ' We appeal from the Church, and from the Bible itself, or parts of it, to Christ." It is desired to substitute " the spiritual religion of Christ for the speculative religion of Christendom." Let us first examine the principle, Back to the Scriptures. Newman, chiefly through his mother's in- fluence, had been educated in a deep and sin- cere reverence for the Bible : this never left him, but it changed its form. He saw that it is plainly absurd to appeal to the Bible as an infallible source of doctrine. S. T. Coleridge said in his Confessions of an In- quiring Spirit : " How can infallible truth be infallibly conveyed in defective and JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 65 fallible expressions," such as all human lan- guage must necessarily be ? It appears that Newman would have assented to this. In the Essay which we are speaking of, he shows how it is impossible to abide by the mere letter of the books, if only because we need to understand the letter for instance in such a phrase as " the Word became Flesh " and this gives rise to many further quest- ions, especially as the structure of the books is so unsystematic and various, and their style so figurative and indirect. He shows that orthodox Protestantism is under a de- lusion when it supposes that all its doctrines are taught in the Bible, or even that they may be easily and plainly deduced from its words. 1 In the Apologia he observes that what the mere Protestant does is to take " a large system of theology " and " apply it to Scripture"- read into the words of the book a system derived from, and given to him by, the historical development of Christianity, which he wishes to forsake. Other questions as Newman shows such as the extent of the Canon and the 1 Ch. ii. i. and ii. E 66 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. limits of inspiration, cannot be settled by appeal to the Bible, for the prophets and apostles gave no decision about them. While thus objecting to the maxim of " The Bible and the Bible only," Newman would of course appeal to ecclesiastical tradition to settle such questions. But the breakdown and general abandonment of the traditional view as to the origin and composition of the Old Testa- ment books, and the doubt as to some of those in the New Testament, have made the argument so strong that neither Protestant nor Catholic has any ground to stand upon from which to appeal to the Bible as infallible. Lastly, Newman points out that to appeal to the Bible is not to escape the uncertainty of appealing to an authority which is grow- ing ; for within the Biblical religion itself there is a development through the prophets to Jesus, whose words are in their turn de- veloped by the apostles : " the whole truth, or large portions of it, are told, yet only in their rudiments, or in miniature ; and they are expanded and finished in their parts as the course of revelation proceeds." Similarly, JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. G7 " in the apostolic teaching, no historical point can be found at which the growth of doctrine ceased." To recognise that growth involves not only expansion and completion of detail, but the dying away of old forms, would turn the statements just quoted into expressions of the modern view of evolution as regards Hebraism and Chris- tianity. But Newman failed to see the importance of what we have called the " negative element " in development. To this point we shall have to return immedi- ately. His conclusion is, that the Bible was never intended to teach doctrine but only to prove it, and that if we would learn doctrine we must have recourse to the formularies of the Church. This view, he had long before de- cided, was " self-evident to those who have at all examined the structure of Scripture." He says : We are told that God has spoken. Where 1 In a book ] We have tried it and it disappoints ; it dis- appoints us, that most holy and blessed gift, not from fault of its own, but because it is used for a purpose for which it was not given. The Ethiopian's reply, when 68 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. St Philip asked him if he understood what he was reading, is the voice of Nature : " How can I, unless some man shall guide me ? " l But the distinction between " teaching " and " proving " doctrine from the Bible is not very clear. If it is true that any one can find in the words of the book any doctrine which he is determined to find there and Newman seems implicitly to admit this, within limits it is also true that by similar determination any doctrine can be proved from the book. The other principle to which we referred was, " Back to Jesus." Against those who would maintain that the developments of ecclesiastical theology have been a series of " corruptions of Christianity," he adduces " notes " by which a true development may be distinguished from a corrupt growth : The point to be ascertained is the unity and identity of the idea with itself through all stages of its develop- ment, from first to last ; to guarantee this substantial unity, it must be seen to be one in type ; one in its system of principles ; one in its assimilative power towards externals ; one in its logical consecutiveness ; one in the witness of its earlier phases to its later; one Essay on Development, ch. ii. ii. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 69 in the protection which its later extend to its earlier; and one in its union of vigour with continuance, that is, in its tenacity. 1 On this doctrine two remarks must be made. The attempt to apply any theory of de- velopment to justify the actual claim of the Church to be infallible is suicidal : for the notion of infallibility, and the supposed in- fallible guide, are themselves products of the development, and therefore cannot be final. As Newman says himself, " no historical point can be found at which the growth of doctrine ceased and the rule of faith was once for all settled." But he affirms that the in- fallible authority, outside the development, must have existed from the beginning, to provide a means of distinguishing true de- velopments from false, for the benefit of individuals who were in the development, and therefore were unable to see the issues of the movements of thought around them. We reply that this insight is of course the gift of the Teacher or Prophet the gift of 1 L'ssay, chapter v., at end. On these claims, see Martineau, Seat of Authority, " The Catholics and the Church." 70 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. ethical or spiritual genius, which always varies in its degrees. Newman's attempt to prove the reality of the " infallible " guide is, I think, too feeble to be intelligibly summarised. 1 No doubt such an infallible authority, guiding the progress of Thought, would have been and would still be very useful ; but we can scarcely on that account assume its reality. The idea itself is a late product of the growth of ecclesiasticism. Newman overlooks an essential condition of growth, if he does not altogether exclude it by his sixth " note." In a genuine de- velopment of ideas the new truth often abrogates the old and takes its place. We have not merely as Newman seems to say a gradual expansion and growing compli- cation of detail in old ideas ; we have a new interpretation of old experiences. Every sig- nificant idea or thought is or in its origin was an interpretation of some experience. New enterprises and experiences of man's soul require new ideas to express their meaning ; and these shed new light on old experiences and call for new and truer inter- 1 Ch. ii. S ii. JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 71 pretations of them. Old interpretations, old forms of expression, become useless and have to be cast off ; they may survive they may even be religiously preserved intact and re- peated as Divine truth, but they soon become a mere form of words : the meaning which once gave them life has gone. Thus the development of Christian doctrine cannot claim to be specially rational ; there is nothing in its nature to prevent errors, fic- tions, and even degrading superstitions from becoming an integral part of it. We have already seen the value of the conflict between different forms of belief as helping men to arrive at truer ideas. It is for history to show us the process in detail as thoroughly as it can. On the other hand, neither can we set it all aside as a mere corruption, as Dr Martineau appears to do in his Seat of Authority. This position we have already illustrated. There is no reason to believe in any " bias of original sin " in man's intelligence, 1 by which he loves to cherish false beliefs generation after gener- 1 Zola seems to imply this in his celebrated trilogy, Lourdes, Rome, Paris. Cf. especially his Introduction to Lourdes. 72 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. ation. And the creeds and doctrinal systems of Christendom were not made through mere perversity ; they were made in order to give expression to certain deep convictions about what we are and why we are sent into this world. But we have seen that it is scarcely possible for any one to put into precise language all his belief when the belief is what Newman calls a real belief, i.e., is part of the man himself and a sign of what his character is growing to be. Every such belief goes deeper than the mere holding of opinions ; and our intellectual expression of these be- liefs that mould our lives can only be partial and imperfect. This is the main reason for the variety and divergence in the expressions of such beliefs particularly religious beliefs ; although there are of course numerous his- torical conditions which have co-operated in fixing the form of any particular religious creed. As for a "return to Christ," it does not appear that any real "return" is possible except in a metaphorical or imaginative sense of the word. We cannot put our- selves into that personal relation with him JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 73 which his hearers and followers had. 1 Much of his power must have been due to what he was, his personal charm and manner of teaching. He taught " not as the Scribes," not with constant appeal to ancient written and oral tradition, but " as one having authority" i.e., by means of brief, telling sayings coming straight from a deep sym- pathy with men and a clear understanding of their needs. We cannot see him as they saw him, or feel that marvellous personal force, that inspiration and help which his first followers found in him. When, therefore, we speak of Christ as supreme, we can only mean that the spirit of the ethical and religious movement which he started is supreme ; we cannot mean the historical Jesus of Nazareth in abstraction from this movement, because only through it is he revealed to us. We cannot appeal to him in contrast with historical Christian- ity, but only to the true spirit of historical Christianity against perversions of it ; and we cannot rely upon historical Christianity 1 See Newman's Sermon on " Personal Influence the Means of Propagating Truth " in the University Sermons. 74 JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. in contrast with Jesus, because we know that he really existed, and his work origin- ated the historical movement in which it merged as a mighty river in a mightier sea. If we seek to know Jesus as he was, we have only his sayings to guide us, and only too few of them ! His sayings are collected together in our gospels in all kinds of order and disorder ; and to understand them we have to take them and think over their meaning one by one. Perhaps we come nearest to the mind of Jesus himself when we do this. People sometimes speak as if the discourses of Jesus, as the Sermon on the Mount, have come down to us just as he himself delivered them, in respect of their order and connection. There is no shadow of support for such a view, and all probability points in the other direction. His teaching is not given to us in the form of a system arranged for us. It was put forth as seed is scattered, to borrow the imagery of his wonderful parable, and his hearers had to grow those seeds for them- selves, and we must for ourselves. And not JOHN HENRY NEWMAN. 75 only are his sayings like seeds that grow ; they are like bright lights, helping us to track out the pathway of truth amid the mists of error in the Christianity of the creeds and orthodox churches around us. The fundamental opposition between our view and that of Cardinal Newman has now been fully developed ; yet in every case we have recognised that his insight is superior to that of his opponents, and that at the worst he has but overstated a truth. His view of the necessity of dogma in religion, his distinction between an implicit but real belief and its intellectual expression, his appeal to history regarded as a development, his assertion that the Bible is not a store- house whence doctrines can be drawn at pleasure, and that the origin of Christianity cannot be separated from its history, on all these points we have only modified his conclusions. But his fixed assumption that a dogma can be absolutely true and final (save in so far as subsequent dogmas further define it) we have rejected as a fatal error. 76 CHAPTER III. NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' SUMMARY. WE notice first the " psychological bias " of Newman's inquiry. This means that we have before us two ques- tions. One is, " What is the state of mind called Belief, and what are the laws of its growth 1 " The other is, " What are the tests of a true Belief 1 " Newman en- deavours to make an answer to the first do duty for an answer to the second. Newman's theistic presupposition, based on the evidence of Conscience, is equivalent to a postulate of the rationality of the world. Examining his analysis of Belief, and his contrast between believing and reasoning, we find the es- sential conclusions to be these : we cannot either believe or act without going beyond what we are able to prove by argument ; and the characteristic of the highest state of assurance is, our inability to think the opposite. His theory of Belief requires to be supplemented in two points : in explanation of the fact that our beliefs go beyond what we can prove by argument, and in explan- ation of the fact that if we insisted on proof for every- thing we should never come to action. We instinctively trust the rational experience of the race, which is the NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 77 foundation of the beliefs that we cannot " prove." We may find real examples of how such " practical certain- ties " grow ; but if they are trustworthy, their foundation lies in human experience. Newman's attempt to make the inertia of the feeling of practical certainty (without any appeal to universal rational experience) into a test of truth, requires him to show that a feeling of certainty once established is per- manent or " indefectible." But where the feeling is really inevitable and permanent, as in the case of the axioms of logic and mathematics, this is no test of truth, but a ground of utter scepticism, unless our belief in these principles can be shown to rest, in the last resort, also upon Eeason and Experience. And we can see that certitudes once believed to be permanent may change, both through changes in the course of individual experi- ence and changes in the Spirit of the Age. Newman is therefore compelled to appeal to another test of Truth. Newman argues that the spread of Christianity in the ancient world requires us to assume a miraculous or anti- natural Power at work. But we have seen (ch. i.) that the social and intellectual state of the ancient world was such that the spread of Christianity is not a mystery ; and a consideration of its moral state points to the same conclusion. THE theory of Belief which Newman ex- pounds in his Grammar of Assent has already been mentioned ; there are many passages of his earlier writings where it is present in germ. But it is re -stated and set forth so completely in the Grammar of Assent, that this work requires special 78 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' notice. As before, we shall find, even in what we are compelled to regard as his errors, more instruction than there would be in the true conclusions of many less able and less consistent thinkers. Instead of Newman's term " Assent," I shall invariably use " Belief," which at least as used in modern Psychology ex- presses exactly what he intended by " assent." We notice first the psychological bias of the whole discussion. An emendatio intel- lectus, he seems to say, is in no sense pos- sible ; we cannot lay down rules for reason- ing, or ask how " ought " we to proceed in order to arrive at true beliefs. We must take the human mind as we find it, as it comes from its Maker ; the laws according to which the mind acts are regarded not only as a " constituted order " but as His will. We can only ask, How, as a matter of fact, do men reason ? What, in fact, is belief, and how is it arrived at and main- tained ? Thus, he says : That is to be accounted a normal operation of our nature which men in general do actually instance | that NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 79 is a law of our minds, which is exemplified in action on a large scale, whether a priori it ought to be a law or no. Our hoping is a proof that hope, as such, is not an extravagance; and our possession of certitude is a proof that it is not a weakness or an absurdity to be certain. How it conies about that we can be certain is not for me to determine ; for me it is sufficient that certitude is felt. It is unmeaning in us to find fault with our own nature, which is nothing else than we ourselves, instead of using it according to the use of which it ordinarily admits. We must appeal to man himself, as a fact, and not to any antecedent theory, in order to find what is the law of his mind as regards Inference and Belief. If, then, such an appeal does bear me out in deciding, as I have done, that the course of inference is ever more or less obscure, while belief is ever distinct and definite, and yet that what is in its nature thus absolute does in fact follow upon what in outward manifestation is thus complex, indirect and recondite, what is left but to take things as they are, and resign ourselves to what we find ? That is, instead of devising, what cannot be, some sufficient science of reasoning which may compel certitude in concrete conclusions, to confess that there is no ultim- ate test of truth besides the testimony borne to truth by the mind itself; and that this phenomenon, per- plexing as we may find it, is a normal and inevitable characteristic of the mental constitution of a being like man on a stage such as the world. 1 How far is this general attitude justifiable ? It is plain that we cannot form an " an- tecedent theory" of what belief and reason- 1 Grammar of Assent, ch, ix, 80 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' ing ought to be, and bring it to the mind from the sky so to speak, testing our mental operations by it. So far we must assent to Newman's conclusion. Still there is a great difference between two questions which New- man does not distinguish. The first is, What are the rational grounds which men do in fact assign for this or that belief? the second is, What are the real or ultimate grounds of the belief, that is, those which might and could be assigned for it, and ought to be, if we wish to go to the bottom of it ? Newman does not ignore this question ; he tries to make the psychological analysis of Belief and of its usual causes do duty for an answer to it. Let us see to what con- clusions this procedure leads him, and how far they are consistently worked out. But, first, there is one vastly important conviction which never passes out of New- man's mind ; in the light of it all his inquir- ies are conducted. And it should not pass out of his reader's mind either. This is his firm assurance that Conscience, meaning our consciousness of moral authority, the authoritative claim which duty and right NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 81 make upon us, affords direct evidence of the existence of God as a personal intelli- gent Moral Governor of the world. He de- clares this in one or more passages in each of his works. In the Apologia he says : " I find it impossible to believe in my own existence without believing in Him who lives as a personal, all- seeing, all-judging being in my conscience." Again : 11 The being of God is as certain to me as the certainty of my own existence, though when I try to put the grounds of that certainty into logical shape I find a difficulty in doing so. ... I am far from denying the real force of the arguments in proof of a God drawn from the general facts of human society and the course of history, but these do not warm me or enlighten me ; they do not take away the winter of my desolation, . . . or make my moral being rejoice." This witness of conscience is the one deep belief in which Cardinal Newman is at one with his brother and with Dr Martineau. In the sequel we shall have to compare different statements of it, as a fact, and examine the forms into which, as an infer- ence, it may be thrown. At present we only note an important consequence of it in Cardinal Newman's mind. The evidence of conscience has an even more important place in his system than in Dr Martineau's, F 82 NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' For having thus arrived at belief in a ruling moral Power, and since Truth is of such great moral and spiritual value, he feels en- titled to assume that God will have pro- vided for man's attainment of truth, not merely by " revelation," but by so forming the natural constitution of man's mind that he can attain it, and will attain it in the end. We may therefore trust our beliefs, even though we cannot express in any rational form their causes and grounds. This invites comparison with the thought, frequently expressed to - day, that though intellectual and moral truths are the pro- ducts of natural evolution, or even of mere natural selection, yet we can trust those truths if evolution is a divine method. Newman suggests the argument more than once in the Grammar of Assent, We may express it in another form a form which he would have repudiated, but which nevertheless brings out its main point. If we may believe that the constitution or framework of the world, including that of man's mind, is rational in the deeper sense of the word, in which morality itself is NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 83 rational, if the world is intelligible and is a harmony, we may also believe that the laws and principles of thought which are necessary to understand it must be reliable ; we may believe too that nothing irrational can permanently survive, and that our minds will not be able to rest for ever in falsehood. But such a Faith in a ration- ality of the Whole is a desperate leap in the dark unless we can find some traces of rationality in the parts ; and Newman does not find many in the operations of the mind on which belief rests. His general position is this. In the case of most beliefs, among the innumer- able causes of each there will be many causes which we cannot find ; and among those which we can find, there are not many which we can express as reasons. But it is a law of our nature that beliefs must grow and take definite shape in our minds and have some degree of permanence. Sometimes they have many strong reasons in their favour ; but we are constantly form- ing beliefs which we hold with a tenacity out of all proportion to the reasons we can 84 NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' adduce for them. Newman usually de- scribes Belief as " absolute " or " uncondi- tional," to contrast it with imaginations, guesses, opinions, or estimates of probabil- ity ; it is, so to speak, a substantial solid state of mind ; or, to vary the metaphor, it has ballast and anchor-cable. A belief when formed is for a time at least a settled fact. Newman shows conclusively that beliefs do not grow only through reasoning on the part of the person who holds them : First, we know from experience that beliefs may endure without the presence of the inferential acts upon which they were originally elicited. It is plain that, as life goes on, we are not only inwardly formed and changed by the accession of habits, but we are also enriched by a great multitude of beliefs .and opinions, and that on a variety of subjects. These, held, as some of them are, almost as first principles, constitute as it were the furniture and clothing of the mind. Some- times we are fully conscious of them ; sometimes they are implicit, or only now and then come directly before our reflective faculty. Still they are beliefs, and when we first admitted them we had some kind of reason, slight or strong, recognised or not, for doing so. How- ever, whatever those reasons were, even if we ever realised them, we have long forgotten them. Whether it was the authority of others, or our own observation, or our reading, or our reflections which became the warrant of our belief, anyhow we received the matters NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 85 in question into our minds, and gave them a place there. We believed them and we still believe, though we have forgotten what the warrant was. At present they are self-sustained in our minds, and have been so for long years. They are in no sense " conclusions/' and imply no process of reasoning. Here, then, is a case where Belief stands out as distinct from inference. Again, sometimes assent fails while the reasons for it, and the recognition of those reasons, are still present and in force. Our reasons may seem to us as strong as ever, yet they do not secure our assent. Our beliefs, founded on them, were and are not ; we cannot perhaps tell when they went; we may have thought that we still held them, until something happened to call our atten- tion to the state of our minds. Sometimes of course a cause may be found why they went; there may have been some vague feeling that a fault lay at the ultimate basis, or in the underlying conditions, of our reasonings ; or some misgiving that the subject-matter of them lay beyond the reach of the human mind ; or a conscious- ness that we had gained a broader view of things in general than when we first gave our assent; or that there were strong objections to our first convictions which we had never taken into account. But this is not always so ; sometimes our mind changes so quickly, so unaccountably, so disproportionately to any tangible arguments to which the change can be referred, and with such abiding recognition of the force of the old argu- ments, as to suggest the suspicion that moral causes, arising out of our condition, age, company, occupations, fortunes, are at the bottom. However, what once was assent is gone ; yet the perception of the old arguments remains, showing that inference is one thing and belief another. And as belief sometimes dies out without tangible reasons sufficient to account for its failure, so 8G NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT/ sometimes in spite of strong and convincing arguments it is never given. We sometimes find men loud in their admiration of truths which they never profess. As, by the law of our mental constitution, obedience is quite distinct from faith, and men may believe without practising, so is belief also independent of our acts of inference. Very numerous are the cases in which good arguments, confessed by us to be good, nevertheless are not strong enough to incline our minds ever so little to the conclusion at which they point. But why is it that we do not believe a little, in proportion to those argu- ments 1 On the contrary, we throw the full onus pro- bandi on the side of the conclusion, and we refuse to believe it at all until we can believe it altogether. The proof is capable of growth ; but the belief either exists or does not exist. 1 Newman goes on to point out that there is always a connection between them ; the arguments adverse to a conclusion naturally hinder assent ; the inclination to believe is greater or less according as the particular act of inference expresses a stronger or weaker probability ; belief always implies grounds in reason, implicit if not explicit, and cannot be rightly held without suf- ficient grounds ; still, as we have seen, be- lief (1) may remain when the reasons are forgotten, (2) may fail or be withdrawn though the reasons remain, (3) may be 1 Grammar of Assent, ch. vi. 1. NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 8f withheld when there are good reasons for giving it, and in general does not vary in strength as the reasons vary. This " sub- stantiveness " of the act of belief is the point to be established. Further : the utmost we can do in the way of rationally supporting a belief is to find a convergence of reasons in its favour, a larger or smaller number of considera- tions, each of which is a reason for the belief; but which do not either singly or together amount to complete proof. If we are able to show that it is " truth-like," this is all we can do by reasoning. If you prefer it you may call these reasons "probabilities," and say with Butler "prob- ability is the guide of life." But as New- man observes in his Apologia: The danger of this view in the case of many minds is its tendency to destroy in them all absolute certainty [I should prefer to say, all settled beliefs], leading them to consider every conclusion as doubtful, and resolving truth into a set of opinions which it is safe indeed to profess, but not possible to embrace with full internal assent. The reason why Butler's doctrine appears unsatisfactory is that the word " prob- 88 NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' ability" always suggests some kind of for- mal estimate or calculation. It is not true that such calculations are the guide of life, nor would it be well if they were. Calcula- tion, in all its forms, is wholly inadequate to the solution of problems arising out of man's higher life. But if Butler's doctrine means by " probability " an assemblage of converg- ing reasons, then it is true ; for these may have a total effect on the mind, which it may apprehend almost instinctively, and which may lead to the firm and lasting conviction which Newman calls " certitude." Nay, they not only may but must lead to this, for by the laws of our mind we cannot rest in probability ; rightly or wrongly our belief tends to settle into certitude or to die away. Just as we cannot believe anything with- out our belief being stronger than the reasons for it will warrant, so we cannot act without going beyond what we are able to prove : Life is not long enough for a religion of inferences ; we shall never have done beginning if we determine to begin with proof. . . . Resolve to believe nothing, and you must prove your proofs and analyse your elements, sinking farther and farther, and finding " in the lowest NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 89 depth a lower deep," till you come to the broad bosom of scepticism. ... I am not maintaining that all proofs are equally difficult, and all propositions equally debate- able ; some assumptions are greater than others, and some doctrines involve postulates larger than others and more numerous. [But] knowledge of premises, and inferences upon them, this is not to live ; life is for action : to act you must assume, and that assumption is faith. 1 Newman points out another characteristic of the highest state of assurance, or " cer- titude " : No one can be called certain of a proposition whose mind does not spontaneously and promptly reject, on their first suggestion, as idle, as impertinent, as sophis- tical, any objections which are directed against its truth. No man is certain of a truth who can endure the thought of the fact of its contradictory existing or occurring ; and that not from any set purpose or effort to reject that thought, but, as I have said, by the spontaneous action of the intellect. What is contradictory to the truth fades out of the mind, with its apparatus of argu- ment, as fast as it enters it ; and though it be brought back to the mind ever so often by the pertinacity of an opponent, or by a voluntary or involuntary act of im- agination, still that contradictory proposition and its arguments are mere phantoms and dreams, in the light of our certitude, and their very entering into the mind is the first step of their going out of it. Such is the state of our minds towards the heathen fancy that Ence- ladus lies under Etna, or (not to take so extreme a case) that Joanna Southcote was a messenger from heaven, or 1 Ch. iv. 8 3. 90 NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' the Emperor Napoleon really had a star. Equal to this peremptory assertion of negative propositions is the re- volt of the mind from suppositions incompatible with positive statements of which we are certain, whether abstract truths or facts : as that a straight line is the longest possible distance between its two extreme points, that Great Britain is in shape an exact square or circle, that I shall escape dying, or that my intimate friend is false to me. 1 Here Newman is in accord with the best modern psychology. The test of belief is the impossibility or difficulty, as the case may be, of thinking the opposite. Suppose A C is a thought which is incompatible with the thought A B : "in the case of complete doubt it is equally easy to frame the thought A B and its opposing alternative A C. In the ideal case of complete assurance it is im- possible to frame the thought A C, so that we are absolutely constrained to think A B. Between complete doubt and complete assur- ance there are all manners of gradations, proportioned to the difficulty of mentally substituting AC for A B," - - that is, the belief A B may be more or less intense and deeply rooted. 2 In these respects a 1 Ch. vi. 2. 2 Stout, Analytic Psychology, vol. ii. p. 241. NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 91 belief may vary, although, as Newman says, it must always " either exist or not exist." We must grant that as psychology, Newman's account of belief is substantially sound. But in two important points it needs to be supplemented. He dwells on the fact that a number of inconclusive but converging arguments may produce a fairly intense feeling of certitude. Very often the explanation of this fact is that the real grounds of the belief, the grounds which have actually operated in the mind to pro- duce it, are imperfectly expressed in the " arguments." In the Grammar of Assent Newman appears to overlook the importance of this fact. We quoted passages from the University Sermons where he clearly indi- cated it ; but even there we found that he failed to see how the expression of the be- lief itself is quite as likely to be imperfect as the expression of the grounds which led to it ; so that a certitude may be well founded and just, while yet we may err in the dogmatic form in which we have ex- pressed it. The certitude cannot be claimed 92 NEWMAN'S ' GRAMMAR OF ASSENT/ for the intellectual contents of the belief. This is the only explanation of the import- ant fact which Newman indicates so clearly in his University Sermon xiii. : It is hardly too much to say that almost all reasonings formally adduced in moral and religious and philo- sophical inquiries are rather specimens and symbols of the real grounds than those grounds themselves. They do but approximate to a representation of the general character of the proof which the writer wishes to con- vey to another's mind. They cannot, like mathematical proof, be formally followed with an attention confined to what is stated, and with the admission of nothing but what is urged. Rather they are hints towards, and samples of, the true reasoning, and demand an active, ready, candid, and docile mind, which can throw itself into what is said, neglect verbal difficulties, and pursue and carry out principles. He remarks that if we insisted on proof for everything, we should never come to action. Froude very justly observes that " this is perfectly true as regards individual persons ; the clerk, as Carlyle says, cannot be always verifying his ready - reckoner. Yet the conclusions on which we act are resting on producible evidence somewhere, if we cannot each of us produce it ourselves. They are the results of past experience and intellectual thought, which are tested, NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 93 enlarged, and modified by the practice of successive generations. We accept them confidently, not from any internal convic- tion of their being necessarily true, but from an inference of another kind, that if untrue they would have been disproved." New- man missed the significance of the fact that we as single persons, one by one, cannot assign reasons for many of our beliefs, be- cause he has limited his attention to the individual person and not dwelt on the psychological connections between the mind of the single person and what we may call the general mind of the race. Froude's reply brings out the bearing of these con- nections on the matter of belief. We know that the individual life is part of a wider social life which has a solidarity and con- tinuity of its own. The vast majority of a man's beliefs, of every kind, do not rest on his consciously reasoned assent ; they are generated in his mind through all the in- numerable ways in which his social surround- ings act on him. So that there is a multi- tude of beliefs in trusting which a man is trusting the experience of his age and his 94 NEWMAN'S c GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' race ; he is not merely trusting to the dead- weight of a conviction which has somehow come to be fixed in his own mind. Take the case of the "laws of thought" ; let us consider how these acquire certitude. There are certain principles which are post- ulates of knowledge, in the sense that with- out them even science cannot begin to work. If they are false, every fabric of knowledge falls to pieces, for they are the general bonds of connection which hold it together, and only through them has our knowledge even the small extent of coherence which it now possesses. Such postulates are, the exist- ence of oneself as a rational or thinking being ; the existence of a world beyond one's personal consciousness, which is relatively permanent and independent, and to which other similar rational beings are similarly related ; and the trustworthiness of those logical principles which lie at the basis of scientific reasoning. Traditionally these are called " laws of thought " or " necessities of thought " ; but we can find a more preg- nant designation when we compare the general activity of thought to the activity NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 95 of a living organic body. Then the intel- lectual postulates appear as the vital pro- cesses or functions e.g., digestion, circula- tion, respiration by which the life of the organism is preserved and its growth effected ; they are the vital functions of thought. If it is true, on the one hand, that they are products of the very structure of our in- telligence, and on the other hand, that the known world is always found to conform to them, or that it is always possible to inter- pret our physical experience by their means, then we should expect beforehand that both the individual and the social mind would be so framed as to accept them with perfect readiness, so that what we might call the mental line of least resistance, or least fric- tion, would lie in the direction of their adoption as principles trustworthy to think by and reliable to act upon. We should expect to find them handed down by social inheritance i.e., embedded in those social forces of spoken and written language, tra- dition, education, and so forth, by which the mental furniture of the individual mind is largely organised. Above all, there is the 96 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' fact that the most fundamental of the in- tellectual postulates are of such a character that without them not only the activity of intelligence, but even the existence of men in any organised social communities, would be impossible. Such considerations explain how, when these postulates are stated in the form of definite propositions, the mind at once accepts them as "self -evident truths," whose " opposite is inconceivable," or as " ultimate certainties," according to the current modes of description. This we may call practical certainty; the whole mind, as at once intellectual, emotional, and active, is so framed that all men with the utmost readiness accept and act upon certain general propositions ; and this is " common sense." In the same way a great number of beliefs of a less general kind come to be " practical certainties," and form part of our common intellectual instincts. This kind of " practical certainty " is New- man's only test of truth. The settled con- viction that we have hold of the truth and can give some reasons for it is sufficient evidence that we have hold of it in reality. NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 97 The test of firm belief, that we cannot think the opposite, he takes as the test of truth. And since what is once true is always true, this view involves the assumption that certi- tude is " indefectible," hence Newman is compelled to attempt a proof of this. Take once more the case of the " laws of thought." The certitude with which we hold them is indefectible ; this may be granted. But this alone is no rational evidence of their truth. Their real trust- worthiness, as a means of interpreting our sense - experience and thereby obtaining scientific knowledge, can only arise from the fact that they belong to the framework of our intelligence, and therefore are postu- lates which must be granted if science is to exist and knowledge be possible. If they do not thus rest upon the nature of in- telligence, sharing in the general authority of Reason, their " practical certainty " affords the strongest support for total scepticism ; this is demonstrated with perfect clearness in Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. If these habits of belief are not a deposit from experiences that have been moulded G 98 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' by the structure of Reason, they are simply the product of non- rational forces, the in- fluence of social custom and " authority." This is Hume's conclusion. The true philos- opher yields gracefully to impressions and maxims which he finds as a matter of fact have most sway over himself. " I may- nay, I must yield to the current of nature in submitting to my senses and under- standing, and in this blind submission I show most perfectly my sceptical principles;" for, after all, " if we believe that fire warms or that water refreshes, 'tis only because it costs us too much pains to think otherwise." If, on the other hand, reason has a structure of its own, and our habits of belief are a deposit moulded by its informing activity, then the best inquiry into the foundations of Belief will be to investigate that structure as thoroughly as possible. The coercive force of the "habits of belief" and "certi- tudes " will be irrelevant, we need not appeal to their practical necessity. With regard to the " certitudes " of a less general character which we are constantly forming, Newman is seriously embarrassed NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 99 in his attempt to prove their indefecti- bility. 1 The candour of the discussion is beyond praise, and the skill with which it is conducted is as great as the candour ; but the reader feels that the attempt is hopeless. A belief may be so firmly estab- lished that we cannot think the opposite, for a time ; but new discoveries, new ex- periences, new points of view may arise, which are capable of changing even such a belief. And there is a deeper irresistible agency which transforms or destroys beliefs so gradually that it may easily be over- looked. This is the Zeitgeist or spirit of the age, producing a certain psychological "atmosphere" or "climate," favourable to the life of certain modes of belief, unfavourable and even fatal to the life of others. No " certitude " can stand for long against this transforming force. This is why some ot the doctrines and methods of Cardinal New- man's own Church are impossible to-day : the modern mind refuses even to discuss them. In dealing with the " iridefectibility of certitude " Newman dwells on the special 1 Ch. vii. 2. 100 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' marks of that feeling to such an extent as to be almost compelled to conclude that most of us cannot tell which of our beliefs are permanent certitudes, and therefore true, and which are not. Although the spon- taneous rejection of the opposite is a fair psychological test of the firmest sort of belief, to make this a test of truth is to shut our eyes to any further evidence that may be forthcoming. Froude justly observes, " the reasonable person would say that in- stead of rejecting suggestions incompatible with such prepossessions, one is bound to welcome them and look for them with the most scrupulous impartiality." In the end Newman is driven to appeal to a test out- side that of mere felt conviction ; minds which are highly cultivated all round, are the only reliable guides in discovering the certitudes in which we ought to rest. This is an appeal to those who are wisest and best ; their firm convictions are true ! With this test of truth we need have no serious quarrel. But it would require to be stated in quite a different form ; those convictions are truest which best serve man's highest life. NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 101 It is easy to see the spirit of Newman's argument how he was led to his conclusion. Thus (l) he points out that what is once true is always true : hence true knowledge must be permanent knowledge. (2) In view of his theistic presupposition he assumes that the human mind is made for truth, and so rests in truth as it cannot rest in falsehood. (3) When, therefore, we find that the mind can form beliefs which after investigation has confirmed their probability become irreversible and are accompanied by a specific sense of intellectual satisfaction and repose, what is more natural than to suppose that those beliefs in which the mind can rest must be true, and since it is possible to rest in them unconditionally, must be absolutely true? Yet the test fails, as we have seen. It is natural for us to form firm and solid beliefs ; but this is not to have certainty in the intellectual interpretation of them. New- man showed, as we saw, that however wisely we interpret the grounds of our belief, we fall short of finding conclusive reasons for it ; and this same law holds good of the belief itself. The fact is that the principles from 102 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' which he started are erroneously conceived. We grant that the human mind is madeybr truth : this follows equally from Newman's theistic presupposition and from our postulate of the Rationality of the World. But this does not show that we are made for the attainment of absolute or perfect truth. Again, we are made for feeling and action as well as for knowing truth ; and usually we may be conscious of a principle quite clearly enough to act upon it safely, while we are in doubt or confusion when we try to state it in the intellectual form of a truth. We grant also that what is once true must be always true, with the reservation that truth from its nature as a work of thought must grow ; and its growth is not a process in which old absolute truths remain with new ones added on to them ; it is a process in which old truth becomes organically modified and trans- formed and taken up into a new and wider truth : there can be no growth without the operation of a negative and critical element. That is why old forms of truth which survive unchanged hinder true development. That NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 103 is why Catholicism cannot be a true develop- ment of Christianity. The motive of Newman's argument is of course to show how, while we cannot prove that the Catholic Church, or any other institution, is an infallible authority, we may yet feel certain that it is, and rest in that certainty, if we can only find some probable reasons in its favour. But this is possible only when we shut our eyes to the multitude of probable reasons against it. He has not given us a complete systematic statement of all the probabilities in its favour ; but one of the most important is this : the early spread of Christianity, and the bravery and endur- ance of primitive Christians, are inexplicable apart from the assumption that a miraculous power was at work. This would be main- tained by many who would with us entirely reject Newman's view that Catholicism is identical with Christianity. We saw that the state of the ancient world was such that the spread of Chris- tianity was no mystery ; positive constructive ideas were needed, of a universal kind, that 104 NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' is, appreciable by all. Moral reconstruction was needed too ; and this latter point has been explained with admirable clearness by Froude : " We mean by Christianity the principles taught by Christ upon the Mount, and which, as the type of human perfection, he illus- trated in his character ; we mean by the power which enabled it to grow, a spiritual influence working from mind to mind rather than an external supernatural force. In so far as the Church has adhered to the original pattern, in so far as it has aimed at making men good rather than furnishing their intel- lects with orthodox formulas, it has fulfilled its part in regenerating mankind." To a great extent the Church has lost both the form and the spirit of primitive Christianity ; but, as Froude says, so far as it has been true to the original pattern, " the spread of it ceases to be a mystery." "The Roman world was sunk in lies, insincere idolatry, and the coarsest and most revolting profligacy. There is something in human nature, in all times and countries, which revolts against such things ; something which NEWMAN'S 'GRAMMAR OF ASSENT.' 105 says that lies are to be abhorred, and that purity is better than bestiality ; and when the bad side of things is at its worst, the nobler sort of men refuse to put up with it longer. The Roman Government offered to the devotion of the Empire a Divus Nero or a Diwis Domitianus. The image of a peasant of Palestine, a being of stainless integrity, appeared simultaneously, pointing to a Father in heaven, and requiring men in his name to lead pure and self-sacrificing lives. And if it be true that man is more than a beast, and that moral insight and self- consciousness are a part of his natural endowment, we require no miracles to explain why millions of men and women, with such alternatives before them, were found to choose the better part." 106 CHAPTER IV. JAMES MARTINEAU. SUMMARY. RECALLING the essence of Newman's view of religion, and of the one which we have contrasted with it, we find that Martineau starts from the same position as Newman, but works in the opposite direction. He regards the existing dogmatic systems only as an accumulation of errors, to he cast aside. The way to truth is to rely solely on the Conscience and Reason of the individual man. Belief in God is based by Martineau on three lines of argument. The first is, that the existence of the world implies a creative and designing (i.e., intelligent) cause. We may mention some of the many thinkers who give this argument their support. But it requires to be thoroughly modified. In the first place, our experience of active power in willing does not warrant the assump- tion of a divine or creative will ; for our wills are very limited in range and are in no sense " creative." And, in the second place, the argument from Design cannot be maintained, in its original form, in the face of modern scientific doctrines. To-day it has become the problem of interpreting natural Evolution. We may point out, JAMES MARTINEAU. 10*7 with illustrations from recent thought, the ways in which Evolution may he understood. The second line of thought starts with the fact of moral obligation, and infers a divine Lawgiver. We notice various groups of thinkers who maintain " Ethical Theism," so understood. But is the passage from man's Conscience to God as Lawgiver a mere inference ? If so, God and man are separate beings, and the inference breaks down, for the moral consciousness, separated from God, might exist if there were no God. We find that this separation leads to " Ethical Deism," and individual- ism in an extreme form. Each individual is supposed to have power to work out his own moral salvation unaided. This involves an exaggeration of the power of the indi- vidual will, an inadequate view of moral evil, and a denial of the social solidarity of men. We may notice how this individualism bears on the case between the Unitarian and the Evangelical. We find in Dr Mar- tineau a truer view of the unity of the social life of men, which provides for " mediation " between the individual and God. WE have suggested the view that Religion is the interpretation of an experience. This idea will have to be more fully worked out before its value can be estimated. We saw that with Newman, the " experi- ence " is restricted to the one fact of Moral Authority or Obligation, as given to us in Conscience. The central or vital part of Religion he takes to be the vast system of precept and dogma which, with him, corre- 108 JAMES MARTINEAtJ. spends to what we have called the " interpre- tation " of the experience. It is obvious that the simple fact of Conscience will not hear the weight of this system, hence an external authority must be found ; and this authority must be infallible, because the doctrines must be absolutely true. To this we have opposed the view that the centre of gravity in real Religion is the " experience." The " inter- pretation " may express, with varying degrees of fulness, what the experience means ; but it remains a partial expression at the best. Hence our central question is always this, What is the experience which, with its in- terpretation, makes Religion ? We now pro- ceed to consider Dr Martineau's answer to this question. Dr Martineau is at one with Cardinal Newman in his view of Conscience as the natural basis of Theism, although he finds another fundamental basis which he regards as of equal importance. His contrast to Newman consists of course in his giving up the principle of absolute or infallible dogma, so that no authority outside the soul seems to be needed. But he rejects the dogmatic JAMES MARTINEAU. 109 principle, not in favour of our principle that doctrines are imperfect expressions of re- ligious realities. He rejects the historical forms of doctrine, because he believes that criticism has shown them to be a baseless fabric of human invention : Christianity, as defined or understood in all the Churches which formulate it, has been mainly evolved from what is transient and perishable in its sources, from what is unhistorical in its traditions, mythological in its pre- conceptions, and misapprehended in the oracles of its prophets. From the fable of Eden to the imagination of the last trumpet, the whole story of the Divine order of the world has been dislocated and deformed. The blight of birth -sin with its involuntary perdition; the scheme of expiatory redemption with its vicarious salva- tion ; the Incarnation with its low postulates of the relation between God and Man, and its unworkable doc- trine of two natures in one person ; the official trans- mission of grace through material elements in the keeping of a consecrated corporation ; the second coming of Christ to summon the dead and part the sheep from the goats at the general judgment, all are the growth of a mythical literature, or Messianic dreams, or Pharisaic theology, or sacramental superstition, or popular apotheosis. 1 Is not this an embarrassing conclusion for a thinker who believes in the infallible con- science of man and the all-wise Providence of God ? Surely the judgment is too severe. 1 Seat of Authority, p. 650. 110 JAMES MARTINEAU. It is possible if we admit that there may be degrees of truth to find ethical and re- ligious truths implicit in every fundamental dogma of the Christian system : Divine Judgment, Justification by Faith, Mediation, Divine Mercy and Forgiveness, Atonement, Vicarious Suffering, and above all in that grand achievement of Christian thought, the doctrine of the Incarnation of God in Man. Passing from these preliminary thoughts, we observe that in Dr Marti neau's Theism there are three lines of thought in combina- tion, each one of which has been taken by various groups of writers as the basal prin- ciple of religious belief. Dr Martineau has not welded them together into a consistent whole ; but this is a common characteristic of the work of the greatest thinkers. We will consider first the time-honoured Argument from Cause and Design. Put in one sentence, it is an argument from the creation to a Creator. It must be remem- bered that the truth and importance of this mode of inference are affirmed in the official tradition of the Church of Rome. Thus, the JAMES MARTINEAU. Ill Vatican Council of 1870 declared, Sancta Mater Ecclesia tenet et docet Deum . . . naturali humance rationis lumine e rebus creatis certo cognosci posse; the existence of God may be known with certainty, by the unaided reason of man, from the works which He has created. l If so, belief in God may be securely reached by a merely logical road. This idea is by no means peculiar to Roman Catholic theologians. Locke ex- pounds it vigorously in his Essay concerning Human Understanding, Paley, in his Natural TJieology (1803), and Chalmers, in his "Bridg- water Treatise " on TJie Adaptation of Ex- ternal Nature to the Intellectual and Moral Constitution of Man (1834). Among more recent writers, the same argument is placed in the forefront of theistic " proofs " by Tulloch, in his Burnett Essay on Theism (1855), and by Mozley, Bampton Lectures (1865), and by Flint, Theism (1876). The argument is made one of the main pillars on which the structure of Theism rests, in Martineau's great work, A Study of Religion 1 It is evident that Newman departed far from the official tradition of his Church. 112 JAMES MARTINEAU. (1887). This attempt to pass "from Nature up to Nature's God" consists of a twofold argument, the world needs a Creator, and the traces of design in Nature imply a Designer. In the hands of Paley and Locke, both arguments are made to rest on the deistic view of Nature as a vast machine, of which the Deity is the maker and contriver ; and traces of this assumption cling to the arguments in every statement of them, even in that of Dr Martineau. And they were originally elaborated long before the idea of Evolution had been applied, as now it has been, in every sphere of exist- ence, animal life, mind, society, civilisation, morality, art, and religion. This moving, living, growing world, this world that is not yet made, is very different from the world from which the old arguments set out to find a " wise Architect." To - day they must change their form, and change it funda- mentally, or be relegated to the various " refuges of the obsolete " which still survive. Dr Martineau's version of the argument from Causality is simple and clear ; but it will not prove what is desired. He insists JAMES MARTINEAU. 113 that the only causes which we know are our wills ; we are " real causes," for we are the causes of our own actions. This assumption is a natural one, and it is made and defended by some of the foremost psychologists of the day. 1 But Dr Martineau goes on to say that the world needs a Cause, and since Will alone is cause there must be a Divine Will. Now, this passage from the human will as cause to the Divine Will as creative cause does not seem to be logically possible. My will certainly moves my arm ; but I may will all day without being able to move anything beyond the reach of my arm ; and surely this essential difference between the human will and the assumed Divine or Creative Will cannot be treated as un- important. It may well be true that "causality" is a conception arising in con- nection with our own activity and trans- ferred to Nature ; but, when so transferred, it gives us no Divine Cause. It only warrants us in seeking to explain natural events as "causes" one of another. 1 See "Ward, Naturalism and Agnosticism (Gifford Lectures), vol. ii. p. 130 ff. H 114 JAMES MARTINEAU. What can we say of the " design argu- ment " to-day ? It is now merely an obsolete way of raising the question, What is the meaning of natural evolution? 1 We may use the word " growth," as it is equally suitable. First of all, "growth " means the continual appearance of something new. In considering the meaning of the word, we may always keep in mind the growth of a living body. The thing which grows does not merely go on, like a rolling stone which gathers no moss ; it comes to be something new something better or worse than it was before. Dr Martineau has expressed this as follows, referring to what we may call " upward " evolution : Evolution consists in the perpetual emergence of some- thing new, which is an increment of being on its prior term, and therefore more than its equivalent, and entitled to equal confidence and higher rank. This, however, though holding good throughout, has an exceptionally forcible validity at certain stages of the evolution. Though all the differences evolved are something new, and may fall upon an observer's mere perception as equally unexpected, yet, when scrutinised by reason, 1 "Evolution" and "Natural Selection" are two very different things. The latter is thought to be one of the natural causes which brought about Evolution. JAMES MARTINEAU. 115 some may retain their character of absolute surprise, for which there was and could be nothing to prepare us ; while others may prove to be, like an unsuspected pro- perty of a geometrical figure, only a new grouping of data and relations already in hand. 1 There are three different conceptions of growth current in our own day : they are not always distinguished, and when not distin- guished lead to much confusion of thought. They arise from different views of the con- nection between the old and the new in evolution; this is the "explanation" of the process. We may be content to trace out only the order of succession in which the various new forms emerge : we may deal only with their history in time. For example, in the evolu- tion of the material world, we may set up, as the utmost possible in the way of explan- ation, an account of the successive phases of the world's appearance as it cooled and assumed the form of a solid mass ; we may then mark the time when the first germs of life appeared, then the extending variety of living forms as new races and species 1 Types of Ethical Theory, vol. ii. p. 393 (3rd ed.) 116 JAMES MARTINEAU. emerged, and so on. Similarly in the evolution of mind, we may distinguish the successively more complex or " higher " forms of consciousness, and mark the order in which they come out. All through we should only be answering the question which may be colloquially expressed as " which comes after which ? " But the natural inclination to " explain " the evolution of things or rather, as it is at present, to make evolution explain things- leads us beyond this impartially historical view of Development ; and in two different directions, according to the two divergent methods of seeking for inner connections in the various stages of evolution. One view regards the earlier stages as manufacturing and thus explaining the later. Dr Mar- tineau, in the passage which I quoted above, observed that there are many cases in which the " increments of being," the new differ- ences which emerge, may be explained as a " new grouping of data and relations already in hand," " not spontaneous, from the isolated thing, but due to changed conditions in the scene of its existence, modifying its external JAMES MARTINEAU. 117 relations and through these its internal nature." Here there is nothing really new we have only a rearrangement of the old. The view of which I am speaking considers that all advances in evolution are of this type. Thus organic life would be only a new complication of matter and motion ; and the higher stages of conscious life only a new complication of physical sensations. This conception of evolution is seriously main- tained by Spencer, among others : his clear statement of it may be quoted : The law which " unifies the successive changes through which sensible existences separately and together pas's," is a law of " the redistribution of matter and motion." " Whatever aspect of it we are for the moment consider- ing, evolution is always to be regarded as fundamentally an integration of matter and dissipation of motion, which may be and usually is accompanied by other transforma- tions of matter and motion. The primary redistribution ends by forming aggregates which are ' simple ' where it is rapid, but which become ' compound ' in proportion as its slowness allows the effects of secondary redistributions to accumulate." " Organic aggregates differ from other aggregates alike in the quantity of motion which they contain and the amount of rearrangement of parts which accompanies their progressive integration." l 1 For exposition of this view see First Principles, Part II., ch. xii., xiii. 118 JAMES MARTINEAU. The ideal of this mode of explanation usually known as Naturalism is to make our knowledge of the whole history of the universe into one continuous chain in which our reason could pass from link to link, seeing at each step how the earlier ones made the later. "Explanation by beginning" is the watchword of this method. But this ideal is now generally admitted to be by the nature of things impossible. There are, as Dr Martineau says, differences evolved, " which, when scrutinised by reason, retain their character of absolute surprise, for which there was and could be nothing to prepare us " in the previous conditions. Dr Martineau has pointed out two of these "hitches in the evolutionary deduction": the appearance of sentience and the appearance of conscious rationality and freedom. No combination of modes of motion could produce a sensation, and no complication of sensations could produce rational thought. Few would contradict this at present ; we might say none, for those who profess to show the evol- ution of consciousness from matter-in-motion endow the matter with sentience first ; and JAMES MARTINEAU. 119 similarly in the'" evolution" of thought from sensations, the latter are first endowed with thought. The German physiologist, Dubois Reymond, insists that there are seven " world- riddles " which science can never solve. These are : (l) the origin of matter and force ; (2) the origin of motion in matter ; (3) the origin of life ; (4) the origin of the adaptations (of means to end) in Nature ; (5) the origin of sentient consciousness ; (6) the origin of language (that is, of Reason) ; (7) the origin of freedom and responsibility. We may go further than Dr Martineau and say that not one of these could be evolved from a previous state of things in which it simply was not : the earlier stages of evolution do not manu- facture the later. One crucial case of this supposed " manufacture" is the evolution of the sense of moral authority " out of" the experience of social utility, as maintained by Spencer and others. The impossibility of it in this case has been trenchantly stated by Dr Martineau: I can understand how society, taking the individual in hand, can create a must for him, but not how it can create an ourjlit ; and as self-interest, by which alone it 120 JAMES MARTINEAU. works, does not begin to be anything else by length of days, but only becomes a swifter thought and an easier habit of the same type, it is useless to borrow millenniums in order to turn it into duty. " Explanation by beginning" is no explan- ation at all ; and the attempt to carry it through is now played out. The other way of explaining evolution takes as its motto, " explanation by end." This is the conception which seems likely to rule the future. A quotation from Pro- fessor Seth Pringle-Pattison will show how a representative philosophic thinker of to- day expresses this thought : I cannot for a moment accept the view of evolution which makes it consist in a cunning manufacture of some- thing out of nothing. Man certainly does develop these moral qualities, and he develops them himself, for only what is self-acquired can be a moral acquisition at all. But in his own strength he can do nothing. It is to misread the whole nature of development to suppose that man, as an isolated finite creature, could take a single step in advance. Such a being, supposing it possible for such a being to exist, would remain eternally fixed in a dead sameness of being. What it was, it would remain. Development or progress is not the making of something out of nothing, but the unfolding or mani- festation of that which in another aspect eternally is. It is possible, therefore, only to a being who forms part of a divinely guided process, and who draws in consequence JAMES MARTINEAU. 121 from a fount of eternal fulness. Just as it is impossible, therefore, to believe that there is no knowledge in the universe greater than that of man or beings like him, so it is incredible that there should be no Eternal Goodness, as the source of those ideals of which we are conscious as the guiding star of all our progress, but which we our- selves so palpably fail to realise. ... All explanation of the higher by the lower, such as the naturalistic theories attempt, is a precise inversion of the true account. The antecedents assigned are not the causes of the conse- quents : for by antecedents the naturalistic theories mean the antecedents (matter and energy, for example) in abstraction from their consequents, the antecedents as we might suppose them to be if no such consequents had ever issued from them. So conceived, however, the antecedents have no real existence, they are mere ab- stract aspects of the one concrete fact which we call the universe. The true nature of the antecedents is only learned by reference to the consequents which follow; the true nature of the cause becomes apparent only in the effect. All ultimate or philosophical explanation must look to the end. Hence the futility of all attempts to explain human life in terms of the merely animal, to explain life in terms of the inorganic, and ultimately to find a sufficient formula for the cosmic process in terms of the redistribution of matter and motion. Thus, to say that the lower (e.g., expe- rience of social utility) was the cause of the higher (e.g., our consciousness of the moral worth of altruism) means only that the lower consciousness was a condition of the appear- ance of the higher ; the former directly pre- 122 JAMES MARTINEAU. pared the way for the latter, and so indirectly helped it, prepared "the fulness of the time " l in which it was to come. Similarly, to trace the historical evolution of religion means really to find the order in which the various forms of religion appeared, and the way in which the earlier ones prepared the way for the later, how the human spirit was training itself to appreciate the new and higher phases of truth which succeeded. It is therefore unhistorical and contrary to evolutional principles to suppose that there is no more in the later form than in the earlier. This would be the case if the earlier, considered merely as so many events in time, produced the later ; for the effect cannot contain more than the cause which produced it. To take an example : it is contrary to evolutional principles to suppose that the primitive forms of religion respect for an- cestors, and animistic views of Nature simply produced the later ones. If it were so, then all religion as we have it now would be a psychological illusion ; for it would appear to be something quite other and 1 Galatians iv. 4. JAMES MARTINEAU. 123 better than it really is. That this has been proved is more or less consciously believed by many ; but we must insist that it rests on a complete misunderstanding of what scientific evolution means. Some confusion might be avoided if it were customary to distinguish between origins and beginnings. The first aim of any theory of evolution is to find beginnings and trace them on to ends or results, recognising that the end throws more light on the origin of the principle whose evolution is being traced, than the beginning. It is interesting to find that the view of Evolution expressed in the above quotation has been adopted by a very able inquirer who began by studying the subject on the lines of Mr H. Spencer : Professor Fiske, of Harvard. His Cosmic Philosophy (1874) represents Spencer's attitude ; but when he realised the meaning of man's position as the highest product of natural Evolution, he found in human nature the key to all Nature and the true foundation of theistic belief And this point of view he has expressed in a series of brief but valuable works : Man's 124 JAMES MARTINEAU. Destiny (1881), The Idea of God (1885), and Through Nature to God (1899). The simplest statement of this transformed ver- sion of the old argument may be given thus. 1 Here, outside of us, enclosing us, is an infinite Power, a Power that was here before we were, that will be here after we have gone away, a Power that persists through all the countless changes of its manifestation, a Power of whose existence we are certain. This Power is the cause of Evolution of all that Evolution has brought forth. What have we a right to think about this Power ? We may take our stand upon the principle that no effect can contain more than the cause which produced it ; and we may judge the great world-power by what it has accomplished. It has produced world- wide order, harmony, and beauty ; but far more than this it has produced life, con- sciousness, thought, love. Thought is; the power, then, of which Thought is a mani- festation is not less than Thought. That which is the cause of Thought in the whole 1 See, for example, Mr M. J. Savage's vigorous booklet, Four Great Questions. JAMES MARTINEAU. 125 human race must be at least equal to Thought, however it may transcend it beyond the farthest reach of our imagination. Love is ; and that out of which it came cannot be something less, something poorer, something with no element of self-sacrifice in it. These brief suggestions may suffice to show the general character of the argument from Nature to God, in the only form in which that argument has any force at the present day. We have said the Argument from Cause and Design, in its old form, if taken as the main approach to belief in God, belongs to an obsolete type of thought. Even if we suppose the argument to have a conclusive- ness which it does not possess, it is still incapable of producing a satisfying con- viction, a " real belief " ; and the God whose existence is "proved" is only a Mighty Designer. The object of religious belief and worship must be something more than this : he is not required only to account for the creation of the world. Hence, while the arguments of the eighteenth century 126 JAMES MARTINEAU. have survived, with fairly vigorous life, through the nineteenth century, there has been a rapid increase in the number of those on whose minds these arguments made little impression. Other foundations were needed to satisfy the expansive power of the poetic imagination in a Wordsworth, a Coleridge, and a Carlyle ; l to find the divine meaning of Beauty as Shelley and Keats sought for it ; and to satisfy the ethical impulses of an age which quickly accomplished the Abolition of Slavery, Reform of the Criminal Code, Catholic Emancipation, and Freedom of Trade. Other foundations have been sought for ; and the most deeply significant appeal for a new source of belief rests in the words of a modern thinker on " a conviction of the absolute value of the ethical life." Our conception of God must be based on what we can discern in the moral nature of man, which lies at the basis of religion, arid 1 The reader will remember Carlyle's attack on the notion of " proof of a God," " a probable God," and his constant polemic against " the mechanical system of thought " to which such ideas belong. JAMES MARTINEAU. 127 beneath all forms of its best expressions. But if this attitude of mind is to have any meaning for us, we must understand that it rests upon a conviction which the intellect alone, exerted to its uttermost power, could never establish. I will express this con- viction in the words of Frederick Robertson of Brighton. " In the darkest hour through which a human soul can pass, whatever else is doubtful, this, at least, is certain : if there be no God and no future state, yet even then it is better to be generous than to be selfish, better to be chaste than licen- tious, better to be true than false, better to be brave than to be a coward. Blessed, beyond all earthly blessedness, is the man who in the tempestuous darkness of the soul has dared to hold fast to these vener- able landmarks. Thrice blessed is he who, when all is drear and cheerless within and without, when his teachers terrify him and his friends shrink from him, has obstinately clung to moral good. Thrice blessed, be- cause his night shall pass into clear bright day." This conviction, that moral goodness is not a mere utilitarian convenience or a 128 JAMES MARTINEAU. disguised prudence but an independent reality, is the basis of the Argument from Moral Obligation. This argument was stated in an impress- ive form by Butler in his Sermons (1726) and Analogy of Religion (1736). In thus taking his stand on " the absolute value of the ethical life," in an age of Scepticism and Deism, his insight was both original and profound ; but the necessities of con- troversy made his work rather a series of "splendid fragments" than a systematic exposition. Butler's position, as regards the Ethical factor in religious belief, is a striking anticipation of that of Kant, whose resort to ethical experience for the mainstay of belief has been described as " the most important contribution of modern philosophy towards a vital Theism." Among recent philosophical writers, this view is taken by Professor Fraser in his Gifford Lectures (1896), by Professor A. Seth Pringle r Pat- tison in Tivo Lectures on Theism and Man's Place in the Cosmos (1897), and by Pro- fessor G. H. Howison in The Conception of God (1898). These all follow the path JAMES MARTINEAU. 129 marked out by the Ethical Theism of Kant, while seeking to avoid certain defects in Kant's treatment to which we shall have to refer in the sequel. In Dr Temple's Bampton Lectures (1884) the moral argu- ment is made of primary importance. The value of a combination of the two lines of thought the argument from Cause and Design, and the argument from Moral Obligation had long before been shown by Hooker as a theologian and Berkeley as a philosopher ; and in recent times they have frequently been treated together. In his Study of Religion Dr Martineau sets the two arguments side by side as together constituting a sufficient basis for rational Theism. We have seen the modification that is required in the first of these two arguments. Our question now is In what form may the Argument from Moral Obliga- tion be stated ? Dr Martineau bases it on the fundamental ethical fact of Obligation. In a conflict of springs of action, where we recognise a higher and a lower course, we have no right to dispose of ourselves as we please : we I 130 JAMES MARTINEATJ. are bidden to follow the higher, by a law over us not of our own making, a command not to be canvassed but obeyed. What is Dr Martineau's interpretation of this great fact ? If the sense of authority means anything at all, it means the discernment of something higher than we, having claims on our self, therefore no mere part of it; hovering over and transcending our personality, though also mingling with our consciousness and mani- fested in its intimations. If I rightly interpret this sentiment, I cannot therefore stop within my own limits, but am irresistibly carried on to the recognition of another than I. Nor does that other remain without further witness : the predicate " higher than I " takes me yet a step beyond ; for what am I ? A person : higher than whom no " thing " assuredly, no mere phenomenon, can be ; but only another Person, greater and higher, and of deeper insight. 1 It is claimed, then, that we may pass by a process of inference from man's conscience to God. On this point we must concentrate our attention. Let us take a case in which this inference is not made and it is not usually made by men in their ordinary life the consciousness of moral authority is there all the same. But does it apart from the inference contain any sort of direct appre- 1 Types of Ethical Theory (2nd edition), vol. ii. p. 104. The italics are in the original. JAMES MARTINEAU. 131 hension or experience of the Divine *? If it does not, then our moral consciousness is complete in itself, and there seems no ground for a logical passage to a divine cause outside it. Dr Martineau asks " whether an insulated nature can be a seat of authority at all." It is indeed hard to understand how a being, who is conceived to exist as Dr Martineau in this argument conceives man to exist, could ever be conscious of imperfection and an obligation to be better. For God and Man are conceived to be separate beings, just as we are separate from each other ; and if God, the Infinite Person, is strictly other than man, the finite person, then the latter must be capable of existing as a self- sufficient being, even if there were no God. One might well ask, how could such a being be conscious of himself as imperfect, and, as it were, "rise above himself" as he does in comparing himself with others and passing judgment on himself. But the difficulty is not in the least solved by assuming that " another Person " is perfect. We have God and man confronting each other as separate beings, divided in their existence ; and man 132 JAMES MARTINEAU. is really a seat of authority to himself, except when his reflective faculty wakes up suffici- ently to make the inference to God ; and the inference appears to be simply groundless. Cardinal Newman has an interesting pass- age which, as he uses it, to enforce the need of reliance on the Church of Rome, contains a subtle petitio principii, but which will serve to illustrate our point. He sup- poses the case of a man thinking himself out from Catholicism to Atheism. " First, he would protest against the sacrifice of the Mass ; next, he gave up baptismal regen- eration and the sacramental principle ; then he asked himself whether dogmas were not a restraint on Christian liberty as well as sacraments ; then came the question, What, after all, was the use of teachers of religion ? Why should any one stand between him and his Maker ? After a time it struck him that this obvious question had to be answered by the Apostles as well as by the Anglican clergy ; so he came to the conclusion that the true and only revelation of God to Man is that which is written in the heart. This did for a time, and he remained a JAMES MARTINEAU. 133 Deist. But then it occurred to him that this inward moral law was there within the breast, whether there were a God or not, and that it was a roundabout way of enforc- ing that law to say that it came from God, and simply unnecessary, seeing that it carried with it its own sacred and sovereign author- ity, as our feelings instinctively testified ; and when he turned to look at the physical world around him, he really did not see what scientific proof there was of the Being of God at all ; and it seemed to him that all things would go on quite as well as at present, without that hypothesis as with it." l If the soul of man is separate in existence from God, and is yet capable of having a moral consciousness as its crown and completion, man would be capable of having the moral consciousness if there were nothing divine outside himself. Hence it would seem that if there can only be a logical passage from man to God, if the knowledge of God is nothing more than an hypothesis to account for facts of con- sciousness with which He is in no real or 1 Grammar of Assent, ch. vii. 2. 134 JAMES MARTINEAU. vital connection, then the logical passage and the hypothesis break down. The in- terpretation of our moral consciousness which is needed must proceed by another way ; and this way is shown by Dr Martineau himself. Before we proceed to consider this third line of thought, we must look further at some of the bearings of the inadequate in- terpretation of conscience which we have just examined. The idea of God's moral relations to Man, which is involved in it, is of great historical importance. It was worked out consistently by Kant, and, in the form which he gave it, is known as Ethical Deism. With Kant the mere bind- ing force of the " categorical imperative " is made the basis on which rests belief in God, in His moral government of the world, in a future life, and in human freedom. All these are inferential postulates from our moral nature, which taken in itself is conceived as so absolutely self-sufficient as to have no need of any interaction with God. In this case, the view taken of Redemption naturally identifies it with individual moral progress, a "salvation" which is worked out by the JAMES MARTINEAU. 135 natural activity of the individual mind, and which implies nothing more on the divine side than the original creation of man and his endowment with Reason and free-will. Kant's own statement has special features which we need not enter into ; but his mean- ing is at one with the results of what we have called Dr Martineau's second line of thought, which may be thus summed up : " God's part is done when, having made us free, he shows to us our best ; ours now remains to pass from illumination of con- science to surrender of will." l The great mistake of the Kantian con- ception lies in its ethical individualism, which leads to an inadequate view of human life, and especially of moral evil and its remedies. This defect is deeply rooted in much of modern Unitarian Thought. I owe much to Unitarian thinkers, and feel it a privilege to have been under Unitarian influences, and to serve the group of Churches called by this name ; but none the less do I believe that there is a serious weakness in the current Unitarian presentation of re- 1 Martineau, Seat of Authority in Religion, p. 106. 136 JAMES MARTINEAU. ligion, which may be detected in Dr Mar- tineau's writings whenever he is on the line of Ethical Deism. The idea is that each man, as a moral personality, rests entirely on himself, on his own Reason and personal freedom, and may make moral advance independently of the influences of Nature and human society. The human race consists of a vast number of spiritual " atoms " ; and between them there is no moral "reciprocity" or "solidarity," such as makes possible a common spirit capable of being divinely educated. Hence Dr Martineau, seeking for the Seat of Authority, makes no appeal to the history of mankind, or to the past or present ex- perience of our race. There can be no " degrees of truth " ; the true can be separated from the false ; and for this, the reason and conscience of the individual man are sufficient : If the sacred leaven diffuses itself through the mass of our humanity, and in quickening our nature is dis- solved into it, there remains no rule for separating what is divine and authoritative except the tests by which in moral and spiritual things we know the true from JAMES MARTINEAU. 137 the false, the holy from the unholy. . . . Eeason for the rational, conscience for the right these are the sole organs for appreciating the last claims upon us, the courts of ultimate appeal, whose verdict it is not only weakness but treason to resist. 1 Hence Dr Martineau will not hear of any " legislative function vested in the general assembly of dead and unborn men, together with the miscellany of living populations," and in speaking of a supposed manufacture of " Right by social vote," he pours scorn on public opinion as a moral influence. Men are separate units, created alike ; each one is a type of human nature. Thus, without asking a question of our fellowmen, we know that the revelation of authority to one mind is valid for all. This is not Dr Martineau's last word, as we shall see ; and it is a view which has died out of the higher thought of the time ; but it survives by the mere dead weight of inherited prejudice, in much of the popular political and religious thinking of the day. This view of life weakens the Unitarian 1 Seat of Authority, p. 169. 138 JAMES MARTINEAU. doctrine and strengthens the adverse doctrine. It weakens Unitarian doctrine because it leads to a non-recognition of the truth contained in the ancient dogmas of inherited evil and man's moral incapacity. There is a special reason for this with men like Kant and Martineau. There are among us some who, by their very purity of heart and stainless integrity of character, tend to under-estimate the weakness of ordinary humanity and exaggerate the power of moral freedom. Hence they may fail to understand the full meaning of Sin : that it is more than any act or series of acts, that it comes to be a corruption of character which is not cured by ceasing to disobey. They miss seeing the hold which evil may have on human nature. The following passage from Martineau reveals the writer to us : Whoever is faithful to a first grace that opens on him shall receive another in advance of it ; and, if still he follows the messenger of God, angels ever brighter shall go before his way. Every duty done leaves the eye more clear, and enables gentler whispers to reach the ear ; every brave sacrifice incurred lightens the weight of the clinging self which holds us back ; every storm of JAMES MARTINEAU. 139 passion swept away leaves the air of the mind transparent for more distant visions, and thus by a happy concord of spiritual attractions, the helping graces of heaven descend and meet the soul intent to rise. 1 Is this steady progress towards moral perfection always possible for the individual man ? Is it true that however far a man has let himself go on the downward way he can at any time turn and begin a gradual process of ascent ? This is an ideal theory that does not accord with the facts of life. If the physical instincts of the body, or avarice or any of the passions which delight to feed alone in solitary selfishness, are in- dulged for long, there is a growing atrophy of those powers in the man which are dis- tinctively human and potentially divine ; conscience and reason are quenched, self- consciousness and self- command withered, all the finer qualities of our nature are de- stroyed one by one, there is the loss of all the higher self, which is the true loss of the soul. And without dwelling on such disasters 1 Seat of Authority, p. 107. Elsewhere (p. 55) Dr Mar- tineau speaks as if moral evil means only that, with disuse and rejection, the higher springs of action retire and vanish out of sight. 140 JAMES MARTINEAU. of the soul as this, surely it is not true that the effects of indulging our lower desires I mean the real effects on self and character can be obliterated simply by effort and change of will. The effects may indeed pass out of range of our self-consciousness and be forgotten ; but they work in secret still. One great means by which evil tendencies come to be so deeply rooted in man's nature is through effects of environment and social and physical inheritance. We know that the sins of the fathers are visited on the children and in them ; we know that there are forms of companionship and association which draw out the bad and foster it, and repress the good in those who are subject to them ; we know that there are conditions of life which make it almost impossible that those who share in them can grow to be other than morally stunted, degraded beings, full of anti - social and criminal impulses. What avails individual effort here for turning to the path towards a perfect human life ? This it is which gives force to the ordinary evangelical doctrine that, for salvation from JAMES MARTINEAU. 141 sin and the inheritance of goodness and bless- edness, we need a supernatural force. We must not suppose that evangelicalism can be simply identified with the crude notion that Christ's righteousness is imputed to sinful men, and his sufferings taken as a substitute for what they deserve, as in the line Jesus did it, did it all, long, long ago. The more thoughtful evangelical says that we must " do it," and do it all ; but adds that we cannot " of ourselves." This is the burden of his preaching : "I cannot do it, you cannot, nobody can" i.e., do what is really God's will, involving progress towards moral perfection. What does this imply ? Surely a consciousness that self as an isol- ated unit which according to the current conception it is cannot "do it," or do any- thing worth doing : and so far the evangelical is quite right. But he then appeals to an external superhuman force, connected with Christ. Now to employ philosophical term- inology - - this is to correct one abstract view by another abstraction. What do I mean by an abstract view ? It is one which 142 JAMES MARTINEAU. takes a fragment of truth about something and then treats it as the whole truth about that thing. Thus, it is true that each man has a life of his own, which no other can live for him, which is not made by its surround- ings ; this is part of the truth. Abstract thought takes this and supposes it to be the whole truth about man supposes that he is by nature an isolated being, a detached per- sonality, and that he can live a proper moral and spiritual life without help from Nature, human society, or God. The evangelical sees that a soul, in this state of detachment, could do nothing ; so he corrects this view by the opposite abstraction, derived from another fragment of truth. It is true that, while each of us is in vital union with Nature, humanity, and God, and draws all his in- spiration from these sources, their life is in a sense " outside " of ours, or beyond us : this again is part of the truth. This the evangelical takes to be the whole truth, and supposes that the Divine Life is merely out- side of us ; as though God and God's work in Christ were forces entirely separate from the soul and could come to help it only by JAMES MARTINEAU. 143 way of supernatural interference from with- out. In protesting against this, the Unitarian harks back to the first abstraction ; he de- nounces the doctrine of " a broken will, in- competence or inability to fulfil God's law " ; he appeals everywhere to " man, as a grand, thinking, willing being, able to see and do what is right " ; he appeals to Jesus, who, he thinks, " places man, competent in brain, competent in will-power, places him, with- out any sacrifice, any mediation of any kind, any vicarious atonement, any substituted Saviour, places him face to face with his Father, his God ; and tells him to deal directly with Him, to become reconciled with Him." To give up one abstraction in order to fall back on the opposite one is a poor kind of " reform." The true solution of the difficulty signalised by the evangelical is to recognise that even the natural connection of the individual with the race provides for "mediation" on every hand between him as a single finite person and God. This also explains the inheritance of evil, and affords an inexhaustible fount of 144 JAMES MARTINEAU. hope in providing for the inheritance of good. To say nothing- of what Reason itself does, there are social feelings and impulses which from the beginning bind each one instinct- ively to the community. It remains true that of our own selves we do nothing ; all that is best in each single life is vitally de- pendent on the general life of humanity, and ultimately on the Divine Life. This is the view of " man's relation to the community" which is likely to hold the future ; and Dr Martineau himself has given it eloquent ex- pression : The process of social evolution so implicates together the individual agent and his fellows that we can scarce divide the causal factors into individual and social, inner and outer. Bodily, no doubt, each man stands there by himself, while his family are grouped separately around him ; but spiritually he is not himself without them, and the major part of his individuality is relative to them, as theirs is relative to him. He has no self which is not reflected in them and of which they are not reflections ; and this reveals itself by a kind of moral amputation, if death should snatch them away and put his selfhood to the test of loneliness. It is the same with the larger groups which enclose him in their sympathetic embrace. His country, with its history and its institutions, and all that these imply, is not external to himself : its life-blood courses through his veins, inseparably mingled with his own. The social union is most inadequately represented JAMES MARTINEATJ. 145 as a compact or tacit bargain, subsisting among separate units, agreeing to combine for specific purposes and for limited times, and then disbanding again to their several isolations. It is no such forensic abstraction, devised as a cement for mechanically conceived components ; but a concrete though spiritual form of life, penetrating and partly constituting all persons belonging to it. ... What we call a conflict between a private and a public interest, and treat as a dissension between a man's inner self and an outward society, is not really a wrestling-match be- tween two independent organisms or personalities, un- less it comes to physical rebellion and war. The inner man is himself the scene of the living strife; the public interest that pleads Avith him is his interest, too ; the society that withstands him is his society ; it is no foreign and intrusive power that confronts and stops his calculating prudence, or the madness of his pleasure or his passion, but his own share of an altruistic reason and love that live and throb in other hearts and minds as well. 1 1 Types of Ethical Theory, vol. ii., " Hedonism with Evolu- tion," 7. 146 CHAPTER V. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? SUMMARY. THERE is reason to believe that all Eeligion, of the deeper and more vital sort, rests at bottom not on any process of argument, but on a direct experience which it tries to interpret. Thus, modern Poetry has shown how we may feel through Nature the reality of a Life, richer and fuller far than ours, but in vital kinship with it not a separate existence as of " another Person." And in our Ideals, when the presence of the true, the beauti- ful, or the good lifts us above ourselves, the Ideal itself becomes no longer a dream of future possibility, but an experience of a present Reality ; it becomes an appre- hension of the indwelling God. Even in sorrow of the most hopeless sort, God's relation to us is felt to be at once personal and far more richer, fuller, and more comforting than any human personal relations can be. This is Symbolism ; any portion of human experience may become a direct revelation of the Divine. But there are degrees of Truth and Worth in our experi- ences : and the highest is the Ethical. This brings us to the third line of thought in Dr Martineau's system. Our ethical knowledge of God is WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 147 not an inference from the moral consciousness, but a deeper insight into what the moral consciousness verily is. This is achieved when the sentiment of moral authority is transformed into Reverence. Reverence is the regard for a goodness which not only ought to be but already is real, though not yet in our own self. Of this there are two stages. The first is Reverence for a Goodness higher than our own, objectively realised in some other person's character. But what we attribute to him can be known to us only by some faint gleams and movements of it within ourselves ; we have there- fore a direct experience (however vague) of it. Thus, in the second stage of Reverence, the manifestation of a real higher goodness without wakens Reverence for a real higher goodness manifested within. This becomes noth- ing less than an apprehension of the indwelling God. The preceding considerations enable us to determine the meaning of Revelation. The extreme deistic view is, that creation is left to itself save for occasional divine interferences ; revelation is thus a particular historical event. This conception, both in its extreme and in its modified forms, must be discarded. Our view makes Revelation not a historical event but a process continually proceeding and growing. The argument which attempts to show that there must have been a miraculous revelation, would (if it were true) prove too much. It is not hard to see the motives which led to the limitation of revelation to events in the past ; they arose from confusing the moral and spiritual principles of a Prophet's teaching with the particular forms in which he expressed it, and which were peculiar to his own age and race. A FAVOURITE doctrine of many religious thinkers may perhaps be expressed as fol- 148 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? lows. It is only possible for us to know, or even to think of, the existence of God, because the Divine Life is present to us or in us directly and immediately ; on the basis of this direct experience our intelligence works as it were by a reconstructive vision, interpreting it, and so producing ideas, questions, and theories about God and about things divine. To the present writer this doctrine seems to be profoundly true and important ; but the difficulties which it presents to many minds are very great, and a discussion of some of these may be of service. Let us first expand and explain the main thought. Whenever we have a vivid con- sciousness of the worth of some human Ideal, we have also in however vague or germinal a form a direct consciousness of the Divine Life as a present Reality, sus- taining the Ideal. No one is entirely with- out this God-consciousness ; but, like all our consciousness, it is the interpretation of an experience ; so that the experience may be expressed in a more true or a more mistaken form, and also may itself vary in extent, WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 149 depth, or worth. Thus it is possible to be a fellow -worker with the Divine Life and Labour, and to feel it and know it also ; it is possible to feel as well as know that the Eternal is our resting-place and under- neath us are the everlasting arms that the Power Divine is quickening the spirit and inspiring strength within. The moments when such experiences are vividly felt and clearly interpreted are indeed rare ; one aspect or the other, the strength of the experience or the interpretation of it, only too often fails. But only wilful blindness can deny its reality for some and its possi- bility for all ; and this, when it really happens, is the highest moment in worship, the most precious moment in our whole life. Some of the ways in which it comes to pass may be spoken of in particular. We may feel and know the Eternal Love of God shining to us, as it were, through the beauty and glory of the world in which we live. This thought, which has been the special inspiration of modern poetry in the Western world, need not be dwelt on here. But sometimes Divine peace and strength 150 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? rise on our hearts, uncalled for by the out- ward world. In sorrow and suffering there is "a deeper voice across the storm " ; a voice, still and small, yet stronger than the tumult of our grief, saying, " It is I be not afraid." I will mention two expressions of this, which have reached me. One says : " This [the feeling of God's sustaining pres- ence] only came to me after great trouble very depths of trouble ; and the realisa- tion of God which it brought seemed to make all the trouble worth while. But I cannot put it properly into words, and I do not like to try." Another : " My experience tells me that it is in and after sorrow of the most hopeless sort as in the death of one we love that God's relation to us is felt to be at once personal and fuller, richer and more comforting than any human personal relations can be." Many could bear witness to this, if they were willing or able to speak. A similar experience arises at times when the presence of something true or beautiful or good uplifts us above ourselves. He who is working for some noble or precious cause be it the cause of Truth, scientific thought WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 151 and discovery or the cause of Beauty, to which the artist gives his heart or, highest of all, steadfast faithful work in the cause of duty and human welfare, in the great world, the city, or the home when one gives himself up to such a cause, he some- times finds that he is not alone, even if others give no sympathy, no help ; he seems to rest upon an Almighty strength that flows into him and, as we said, uplifts him above himself. And so he becomes possessed of a power which is more than the power of his single self. The very strength of God has revealed itself within him. There are many who will be ready to say, " But nothing of this kind ever comes to me." In reality it may come and we may scarcely recognise it. There are psycho- logical laws which explain how this may be. We must remember first that every one's soul or real self call it what you will is not something with a substantially fixed constitution, and which is self-contained, like a sphere a sort of " mighty atom," a thing with definite limits, which grows only by adding on new habits or new pieces of know- 152 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE ? ledge. The real self is a thing which is always growing by putting forth native powers, assimilating its experiences, and organising them according to laws of its own. In the next place, the limits of the self are not at all clearly defined : they cer- tainly are not the same as the limits of clear consciousness. That part of our ex- periences and inner thoughts and feelings of which we are clearly conscious (i.e., which we fully know that we have) is only a small part of what we really experience and think and feel all the time. The deeper currents of feeling, for the person himself who feels them, are the easiest to overlook ; but they are none the less really stirring within him, and perhaps producing their effects among the feelings of which he is clearly conscious ; and so it is with thought and with desire. In a word- self-knowledge has degrees of truth; at one time it may be more, at another less ; and we never " know " or consciously take in with perfect accuracy the whole of what is stirring within us. Hence while no one can truly say that he simply has WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 153 no such experience, no one can say that his own interpretation of the experience has absolute accuracy or truth. If then our real self is not a self- con- tained thing, there is nothing contradictory in supposing that it is rooted in an Infinite Being, in whom every human spirit has its roots, and who is the source of life and strength to all. And if our distinct or clear consciousness of ourselves always has different degrees of truth, then in many cases it may not extend far enough to take in the " roots " of our being ; we may not recognise our connection with or de- pendence upon the Infinite and Universal. Or, again, there may be a vague sense of dependence, a " longing," which- may have to satisfy itself as best it can among the opportunities afforded by the interests and duties of life outside the individual. Or, once more, this vague " divine discontent " may rise to a consciousness of our depend- ence on the Divine Life, and of God's sus- taining help. Those who adopt this view of the founda- tions of Religion may be aptly described as 154 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? Symbolists. In their thought every visible and invisible creature may become to us an appearance of God. There is no part of human experience, in the widest sense of the word experience, which may not come to be both felt and known as a direct manifesta- tion of the Divine Life. I say " felt and known " ; for our experiences may become a manifestation of God not merely as a matter of inference, or of speculative thought, but of feeling, this being the least unsatisfactory term which our lang- uage provides. Any experience may be- come a religious experience. This is not to say that all experiences are of equal value for this purpose ; "to assert that one, on the whole, is worth no more than another, is fundamentally vicious," as Mr F. H. Bradley curtly says in this connection. The presence of God may be discerned in the manifold experiences of life, in different degrees and with diverse values ; and the highest value as a Divine manifestation belongs to the Ideals which humanity forms, in advance of all its past experience and attainment. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 155 The varying degrees of truth in self-know- ledge are well known ; hence as I have ventured to express it in another place, " nothing follows from the mere fact that this or that man, or most men, do not recog- nise in their Ideals anything which they are inclined to call the presence and self-revela- tion of the Divine. It is fatal blindness to deny that in such Ideals there is an experi- ence which can only so be described. There is a conscious self-surrender in man's earnest scientific work, in his sincerest and pro- foundest philosophic thinking, in his devo- tion to that which has real and abiding beauty, above all, in his yielding to the promptings of humanity and love. Herein he is not merely realising himself in the light of an idea of what is highest and best ; he is also consciously surrendering himself to what is the Everlasting Real. The human race is constantly beset by such experience ; aroused, it may be, by thinking over the achievements of intellectual, moral, and spiritual genius, or by the personal appeals of such, or by the mysterious yet very real 156 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? influences of the beautiful and sublime in Nature or in human life." l Hence the Symbolist need not be, and ought not to be, an " individualist " in religion. He can tell us what he has experienced, and .how he has tried to interpret his experience, of the everlasting realities of God ; and his witness may be valid for other men, because the sources of his experience lie in the universal characteristics of humanity, whose deeper meaning all men are capable of feeling and knowing as he feels and knows them. From Symbolism we must carefully dis- tinguish Mysticism, although both have been called by the same name. Mysticism has always supposed that the experience of God can only be reached by means which are independent of the ordinary experiences of life. In its extreme form this attitude of mind takes the whole world the world of sensible objects and of human interests to be a barrier placed between the Soul and God ; the way of perfection consists in 1 See Philosophical Criticism and Construction, ch. vii. 4, where this conception is discussed from the specially philo- sophical point of view. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 157 escaping from all these things until the im- passioned soul in its upward flight loses itself in the formless and viewless light 01 God. The secrets of such a life are all within. The beauty of Nature has no ministry for it ; and it regards the witness of man's moral and aifectional life and its daily multiplied grace with indifference. There is a touch of this feeling in Cole- ridge's lines : " It were a vain endeavour That I should gaze for ever On that green light that lingers in the West ; I may not hope from outward forms to win The passion and the life whose fountains are within." There is a touch of the same pure Mys- ticism in many a sincere religious soul who is ready to say that the realisation of God " will come if you try to have it." We can- not sincerely try to have a sense of God's presence ; for the very attempt makes the thought of self so prominent as to obscure not only the divine relation which we seek, but even our relation to the ordinary in- terests of life. Mr W. R. Inge, in his valuable and sug- 158 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? gestive Bampton Lectures on Christian Mysticism, has shown the dangers of this method of belief, if such it may be called, which is not limited to Christendom or even to the Western World. It encourages, of necessity, the via negativa both in thought and action. It leaves the mind with a thought of God which is simply the nega- tion of all positive meaning. " Nearly all that repels us," says Mr Inge, " in medieval mysticism its ' other- worldliness ' and pass- ive hostility to civilisation, the emptiness of its ideal life, its maltreatment of the body, its disparagement of family life, the respect which it paid to indolent contemplation- springs from this one root." But Symbolism teaches that the experi- ence of God's real existence is not some- thing apart from all the human interests and natural experiences of life. It can come only through these natural experi- ences by deepening them. The roots that join man to God are the same as those that join men to one another and to Nature ; only they go deeper. Hence if we seek the realisation of God, it will not come by " try- WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 159 ing," but only by merging the thought of self in reverence for life and its duties. Un- less we lose our lower self in enthusiasm for some worthy cause in love, in work, or in trouble, it may be we can never reach that realisation of our higher self which leads to a consciousness of God. Confusion is often thrown around this profoundly important question, when an experience is misinterpreted, and the mis- taken interpretation regarded as of equal worth and importance with the experience itself. Thus, suppose some one is convinced that he realises the presence of a Personal Being "outside himself" who cares for him. His statement is a pure contradiction in terms, if "outside" means "apart from." One cannot have a direct apprehension, by way of feeling, of something from which oneself is detached. That which is directly present to us in experience is that from which ex vi termini we are not detached- it is that whose Life we share. All that the expression " outside oneself" can mean here, is that the Power whose inner presence is felt and known is a Power on which one's 160 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? own small struggling self is dependent, and which is far more than oneself deeper, stronger, more abiding. Religious experience, when reasonably in- terpreted, does not seem even to suggest the mechanical view of the Infinite and the finite as two separate beings confronting one another. What is felt or experienced, in the proper sense, comes to us as an en- largement of our higher self. It comes, indeed, at the expense of the lower self it comes only as the lower is subdued ; but we lose our life to gain it. The higher aspects of our personal life are deepened and inten- sified, and we begin to know the unexplored heights and depths of the soul itself. We come in touch with the vital bonds that unite us to the Infinite. It is at once an enlargement of our higher life and self- revelation of the divine life. Expounders of Dr Martineau's ethical and religious teaching usually represent him as holding that our knowledge of God through Conscience is nothing but an inference from the fact of moral authority as experienced. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 161 There is no real or vital union between God and the soul ; we merely infer the existence of God, which thus becomes a theory to explain certain facts. There is no doubt that numerous passages might be quoted from Dr Martineau's writings in support of the opinion that this was his complete and final view. It is certain, however, that there are other passages which suggest an im- portant modification of this view, constit- uting in fact a third line of thought which will prove to be identical with what we have called Symbolism. Dr Martineau, in a passage which we have already quoted, speaks of the Divine as " mingling" with our Conscience, and " mani- fested" in its intimations. We come to the root of the matter when we ask, " Manifested, how ? By a process of inference only, or by that and something more f " This is the great Enigma of the Spiritual Life. We may refrain from the attempt to form any idea of the present relation between God and the human personality ; but if we do not refrain from it, we must either regard man as a detached and "insulated" being, or re- 162 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? gard him as organically united to God. This means not only that the life of God flows into man's deepest life ; it means that man's deepest life is part of the life of God. The finite person is in as close union with, and draws energy as continually from, the Divine Life, as a member of a living body does from the life of the whole. From this point of view, Dr Martineau's statement that an insulated nature cannot be a seat of authority at all, appears in a new light. To be conscious of moral authority is to be conscious of imperfection, and we could not be this unless we had within us an absolute standard by which we judge our- selves. This suggests that we are not insul- ated or detached personalities, because the obligatory Ideal of which we are dimly con- scious is the very presence of the Divine in us. Now there are passages where Dr Mar- tineau does more than suggest this view. Thus he speaks of the relation between " the moral consciousness and the Divine author- ity " as being " one, not so much of inference, as of identification ; the ideas overlapping and being entwined together as functions of WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 163 the same conception." 1 Again : " This revela- tion of authority, this knowledge of the better, this inward conscience, this moral ideality call it what you will is the pres- ence of God in man." 2 Still more explicitly, he speaks of our ethical knowledge of God as, not an inference from the moral con- sciousness, but a truer insight into what the moral consciousness verily is : When conscience was found to be inseparably blended with the Holy Spirit, . . . the cold obedience to a mysterious necessity was exchanged for the allegiance of personal affection. And this is the true emergence from the darkness of ethical law to the tender light of the life divine. The veil falls from the shadowed face of moral authority, and the directing love of the all-holy God shines forth. 3 But the root of the matter is reached in understanding that what we call " the recog- nition of conscience as the voice of God " is really the transformation of the sense of moral authority into Reverence. Dr Mar- tineau's profoundly suggestive account of this change is so striking that I do not resist the temptation to quote it in full. 1 Types of Ethical Theory, vol. ii. p. 235 (2nd edition). J Seat of Authority, p. 105. s Ibid., p. 75. 164 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? The essence of the change is that in our consciousness of moral authority we are aware of the moral Ideal simply as something which ought to be but is not ; we reverence it when we are aware of it as actually real- ised and then it comes home to us with a personal claim far superior in vividness and effect to any " categorical imperative " or any moral doctrine. The first stage of Reverence arises when we see a higher goodness realised in another human life. Dr Martineau says : The posture of mind which I describe as Reverence cares for right actions not simply as good phenomena, but as functions of pure, of faithful, of self-devoted, of lofty character. Not content to rest with the fruits, it presses on to the lovely or stately nature that bore them. And in thus passing from them to their producing source, the feeling itself undergoes a change. In place of an appro- bation which looks with complacency down, it becomes a homage which looks reverently up, and finds itself in presence, not of a definite thing done, but of a living doer, the cause of it and of indefinite other possibilities of nobleness ; and so it is transferred from the level of ethical satisfaction to the plane of personal affection and aspiration. Till this change takes place, there is hardly any sacred element in the ideas of right. The moralities of conduct occupy the human and civic platform; but even in our relations with each other, some other light call it poetic or call it divine dawns upon the heart, when the revelations of some pathetic experience, or the WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 165 disclosures of some rare biography, have opened to us the interior of a tender and strenuous soul, and kindled the heights above us with a fresh glory. I have spoken thus far of Reverence in its direction upon persons ; distinguishing it from simple approbation in this that in approbation we look to the particular act, with praise of its inward spring as compared with its tempting rival ; while Eeverence looks through and past the act to the type of character which it expresses, as compared with the relative weakness of our own. In order to take this outward direction upon objective good- ness, the sentiment must, however, have had a prior stage of experience. For that inward disposition and character in another, upon which it now fixes, is nothing that can be seen or heard or touched ; its presence before us is learnt by suggestion, by outward signs, of language, look, and act, which, we are aware, have but one interpretation. We read him by the key of sympathy, and what we attribute to him is known to us by its gleams and movements within ourselves. There it is that we have learnt the feeling that is due to it ; that it has looked upon us from above ; that it has spoken to us in tones that lift us towards it. ... The call at once carries our eye up ; thence the authority descends ; and instead of passing like coins of exchange, between men that make them and men that take them, it lies upon each, it lies upon all ; it has the grasp of a moral unity, the range of a moral universality ; it is the overflow of Infinite Perfection into the finite mind. This, says Dr Martineau, is the final revelation of conscience, the issue of its full development ; and he proceeds : Thus, within our own consciousness, we find the same 166 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? difference which was observable in the appreciation of others, between simply moral approbation and the feeling of Keverence. The latter cannot express itself without resorting, in the notice of affection and character, to language more than ethical, and plainly crossing the boundary into the field of Religion. It lives in the presence of souls that are holy, of dispositions that are heavenly, of tempers that are saintly, of Love that is Divine. 1 It is, therefore, not enough to say that " over a free and living person nothing short of a free and living person can have authority." What has authority must be more than the dictate of a free and living person ; it must be a principle of life which is more than merely due to his personality, but is revealed by him because it is realised in his character. Through being his Real, it becomes revealed to us if we fall short of it as our Ideal. This intervening position alone it is which renders the function of a Mediator, Uplifter, Inspirer, possible ; and that not instead of immediate revelation, but simply as making us more aware of it and helping us to inter- pret it. For in the very constitution of the human soul there is provision for an immediate apprehension of God. But often in the transient lights and shades of conscience we pass on and " know not who it is " ; and not till we Types of Ethical Theory, vol. ii. p. 223 ff. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 167 see in another the victory that shames our own defeat, and are caught up by an enthusiasm for some realised heroism or sanctity, the authority of right and the beauty of holiness come home to us as an appeal literally Divine. 1 Thus it is that other souls, going beyond our attainments, but not beyond our possibilities, first call Reverence into life. But they do so because the manifestation of realised goodness without awakens Reverence for the absolute, universal goodness which is or may be revealed within. When this happens, Reverence is passing into its highest stage, where when Reason has grown deep enough to interpret it it becomes nothing less than an apprehension of the indwelling God. This highest stage is reached when, " independ- ently of actual or visible heroes or saints on whom Reverence may fix when they are present, it finds for itself the means of exercise ; it goes forth in faith upon in- visible objects, and discerns, behind the veil of the actual, a better and a higher before which it humbles itself with cries of depend- ence and adoration." When this happens, our aspiration after goodness which ought to 1 Seat of Authority, p. 652. 168 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? be, becomes the inspiration of Goodness which already is, in the deepest sense of the word ; a Divine Life of Goodness, which is real all through our life of change, struggle, and growth ; a Life on which our personal life is vitally dependent, and which is waiting, with all the might of its Reality, to flow gently into the wavering will and uplift the drooping resolves to the heights of a nobler constancy. In one of his finest passages Dr Mar- tineau has expressed the final meaning of the Symbolist view : Amid all the sickly talk about Ideals, which has become the commonplace of our age, it is well to re- member that so long as they are dreams of future possibility, and not faiths in present reality, so long as they are a mere self-painting of the yearning spirit, and not its personal surrender to immediate communion with Infinite Perfection, they have no more solidity or steadiness than floating air-bubbles glittering in the sun- shine and broken by the passing wind. . . . The very gate of entrance to Religion, the moment of new birth, is the discovery that your gleaming Ideal is the ever- lasting Real no transient brush of a fancied angel's wing, but the abiding presence and persuasion of the Soul of souls. We may not often pass with clear con- sciousness into this stage of Reverence ; but WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 169 the great variations in self-knowledge are familiar to all, and what is a matter of the most intimate experience is often far from being a matter of clear discernment. This is why we need the Mediator, revealing through his life higher objects for our rev- erence. Hence the vast importance of social life as a means of Divine revelation ; not merely the organised institutions of civilisation, but "society" as a common life of thought and feeling animating its mem- bers and affording them insight into one another's real being. From the point of view which we have now reached, we may see what meaning can be given to Divine Revelation. The traditional view or at least one of the traditional views of revelation may be expressed somewhat as follows. God, having created the world and the human race, leaves the whole to itself; remains silent and inac- tive as far as the world is concerned, except at certain times when he " intervenes " to communicate new truth, which the " un- 170 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? aided reason " of man would never discover ; and to authenticate it by the performance of miracles, events which by no natural means could ever be accounted for. It will be seen that the essence of this view, its fundamental presupposition, is an extremely deistic view of God's relation to Creation : hence all His "interventions" in the natural or created order are supernatural or rather anti-natural in the strictest sense. Necessary develop- ments of this are such ideas as the following : special and peculiar inspiration of certain books, special miracles occurring at certain periods of the earth's history, events pro- duced by causes unlike and beyond all natural causes, a specially miraculous teaching given through some chosen indi- viduals at that period. The gradual disappearance of these beliefs at the present day is very evident at least in their old rigid form ; but this is only a consequence of the disappearance of the old mechanical and deistic views of God. If the whole course of Nature and human life re- quires the incessant sustaining activity of God, then it is plain that no events can WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 171 be absolutely extra-natural in the old sense ; for the daily sunrise and sunset are as di- rectly works of God as would be such an event as the one recorded in the book of Joshua. Notwithstanding this, the old view of rev- elation survives in a modified form, not bound up with the notion that God has nothing to do with the " natural " course of events. It is claimed that we may reason- ably believe in a revelation which consists in the communication of Truth, Truth of vital importance for man's moral welfare to know, but which man's reason would never have discovered without the special divine act to aid it, and which, when communicated, his reason can only in part comprehend. But the revelation or communication is still re- garded as a special historical event, it is limited in time and place. The view to which we have been led is this. Man's nature cannot be understood save as sharing in the wider, universal life which is divine, on which all our rational life depends. Revelation is then a name for the constant relation between the indwelling 172 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? God and the spirits of men ; and history is a genuine unfolding of the divine purpose. We are continually judging ourselves and our deeds, in the light of our standards of Truth, Beauty, Goodness ; in so doing we are realising the revelation, assimilating it to ourselves. The vital union of God and Man is never dissolved : that is only another way of say- ing that the revelation and inspiration are never withdrawn ; but at certain times it- takes a special form, and the extent and depth of its effects are more clearly dis- cerned and the presence of the divine is more nearly felt. These are the occasions round which traditions gather, and to which the name of revelation tends to be restricted. These occasions are so important practically, that the restriction would be admissible if it were not too rigidly conceived ; if it were remembered that in these so-called special revelations there is the same kind of relation between God and man, inner and outer, per- sonal and social, new and traditional, which there is in the general course of history : the difference is only one of form and degree. WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 173 From this point of view no truth, if we go to the bottom of it, could be discovered with- out divine aid, and no goodness or beauty realised. Thus if we prefer, we may say that man's " unaided reason " could not have discovered it ; but this is only because no man's reason ever is " unaided " in the sense of being without any share in the wider life of the universal Reason. In this sense revelation is not a particular historical event, but something continually going on. The real danger of the notion that revelations are before all else historical events is, its tendency to fall back into the old deist ic view which says, there is and has been no revelation whatever but the one which happened at this or that particular time and place. Why should we accept this restriction as reasonable or " antecedently probable " ? Cardinal Newman says (Apol- ogia) : "I look out of myself into the world, and there I see a sight which fills me with unspeakable distress. The world seems simply to give the lie to that great truth of which my whole being is full [the revelation of God through conscience]." 174 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? And in a passage of moving eloquence he endeavours to compel the conclusion that " either there is no Creator or this living society of men is in a true sense dis- carded from his presence ... if there be a God, since there be a God, the human race is implicated in some terrible aboriginal calamity ; it is out of joint with the pur- poses of its Creator." If, then, it were the merciful will of the Creator to interfere, what methods would be naturally involved in his purpose ? Since the world is in so abnormally evil, so anarchical a state, it ^vould be no surprise if the interposition were equally extraordinary, or what is called " miraculous." We need not pursue the argument further as Newman presents it. It has already proved too much. Surely if Newman's view of the world were all the truth, then no man's conscience could be trusted in its verdict that there is an almighty and loving Will that rules. This is only an example of a whole class of arguments which attempt to show the need of a supernatural revelation from the fact of human ignorance and evil. The WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 175 argument if true proves too much. It gives no probability of a Revelation ; it gives much improbability that there is a Re- vealer. And, in a still more embarrassing way, they prove too much. The facts of evil, ignorance, and sin show that the super- natural revelation, if it has happened, has failed to do its work, the work which might reasonably be expected of a miraculous agency. If human progress is the slow growth of man's powers, wisdom, and goodness, edu- cated by a gradual progressive Divine in- spiration, then we should expect to find in the world all the signs of small beginnings and slow struggling achievements ; but we should not expect this of the direct inter- positions of an almighty providence. If there has been a supernatural intervention to save men, experience shows that it must have been contending with obstacles almost as strong as itself. The force and capacity of the revelation itself cannot have been supernatural. If we want to consider what human sin and failure imply, we must consider their 176 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? place in human experience as a whole. We must consider human capacities altogether. And the most striking and deeply significant of man's capacities is this that he is always rising above all his past experiences and past achievements or failures, and judging them, or reading their worth in the light of some- thing better. Psychology and history unite to tell us that this could never be, were there not a constant self- communication of the divine Life to man, and self -revelation of the eternal reason. We can understand in a general way the motives which lead to a limitation of revelation to one time and place. A great Prophet a moral and spiritual genius is one in whom the immanent Divine Life is stirring, expressing itself in new sources and streams of feeling which he seeks to inter- pret or express in new thoughts, which are really new insights into the meaning of human life and its relation to the life of God. Thus his teaching is at once the work of " his own reason " or rather his own conscious feelings and convictions and the work of Divine Revelation ; and it appears WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 177 as a revelation to his contemporaries because it is a new and higher stage of man's inter- preting insight into the meaning of things. What happens then ? Mr Upton, in his Hibbert Lectures, has explained the process most thoroughly and clearly. It is a par- ticular case of the contrast and confusion between a real belief or experience and its temporary intellectual expression. " Whenever a new and vivifying central belief takes possession of a great soul, it immediately tends to modify and partly re- construct the prophet's general conception of the World. With the new belief as a living principle, the religious reformer constructs out of the scientific ideas, or metaphysical theories, conscious or unconscious, and the recognised social relations which he shares with his contemporaries the highest and most satisfactory account which he can form of God and His present and future dealings with humanity. The reverent but uncritical disciple recognises, in virtue of his own moral and spiritual insight, that the Refor- mer is giving utterance to ideas of a most inspiring and elevating character, ideas M 178 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? which the hearer, though he is vividly con- scious of their truth and worth, feels that he himself could not have originated. They seem to him to be as in truth they are divinely inspired ; but to the disciple, at his lower level of spiritual awakenment, the in- spiration appears wholly to transcend the possibilities of mere humanity. The master thus becomes invested with a certain super- human character ; and the disciples come to ascribe to every feature of the prophet's teaching that absolute certainty which only belongs to the vital and essential principle in it. This confusion between the essential spirit of the prophet's teaching and the acci- dents of its intellectual embodiment is still further extended when as in the case of Christianity the same absolute worth is ascribed to the recorded religious utterances of his earliest followers. Thus the eternal principles which dogmatic religions enshrine, and which are the sources of their mighty power for good, become associated on equal terms with a set of doctrines and ideas which have no universal validity, which belong to a particular stage of social usage or culture, WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE"? 179 of scientific knowledge or philosophical specu- lation ; and all alike are represented in the articles of dogmatic religion as infallible truth, which cannot be called in question save at the risk of ecclesiastical excommuni- cation and exclusion from the heaven of God's approving sympathy." In " revela- tion " there is always a vital principle which is itself progressive, embodied in various transitory forms. To limit revelation to some mere event of history, is to limit it to some one embodiment, which in the course of time and human progress will come into direct conflict with scientific knowledge and philosophic thought and sometimes even with moral insight : and thus the very essence of religion is discredited. It has been said that this view of revelation identifies it with " subjective inspiration," and abolishes its "objective side," that is, the instrumentality of infallible persons or books. But the objection is pointless unless " sub- jective" means undivine, which throws us back on the old Deism ; and it may be asked, if this is so, how is the divinity of the so-called "objective" revelation to be 180 WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? proved ? The truth revealed has to be " subjectively " recognised and assimilated by man ; but truth cannot be revealed to incapacity. If the human mind is naturally undivine, it could not grasp divine truth, or would have no apprehension of its value and significance. Could we, in such a case, fall back on " external criteria," such as the working of miracles, mere exhibitions of anti-rational and anti-natural power ? There seems really to be no conceivable connection between the possession of such power even if it were historically proved and the pos- session of divine truth. The two things have nothing in common. As Dr Mar- tineau trenchantly observes, " external cri- teria i.e., unmoral rules for finding moral things, physical rules for finding spiritual things there can be none." If " subjective " means created, imagined, or thought merely by the finite mind, as such, then our view of revelation expressly excludes its " subjectivity." The most char- acteristic facts of human nature would be inexplicable if man were merely a finite or self-contained being. Every man is in vital WHAT IS RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE? 181 union with Humanity and with God, even though the Divine Image and Superscription there have been all but effaced. The solid- arity of the race accounts for the diverse degrees and manners of revelation and media- tion ; and it is the train of human souls, in their several degrees of nobleness, who are for us the angels that ascend and descend on the ladder that leads from Earth to Heaven. 182 CHAPTER VI. FORMS OF AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. SUMMARY. IT is evident that belief in God as an Infinite Man, superintending the course of events for our benefit (the old idea of Providence), is dying out of the modern mind. Dissatisfaction with this conception is the root of much of the prevalent " unbelief," as is evident from the confessions of Richard Jefferies, Olive Schreiner, and William Watson, among many others. Such con- fessions do not imply that the spiritual roots of religious faith are dead. What is known as Positivism is descended from David Hume, and (when consistently carried out) means com- plete intellectual scepticism. The Positivists, however, stop half-way, saving scientific and rejecting theological beliefs. The peculiarity of Comte's Positivism is that it regards Religion as a necessary part of human nature. Comte gives a true analysis of the ' three factors that constitute Religion ; but his " Religion of Humanity " fails to satisfy what is required by his own analysis. He holds a decided view (maintained also by Huxley) as to the opposition between human morality and the course of physical Nature. The natural conclusion is AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 183 that physical Nature has not produced the whole of human nature ; that human morality and human ideals have a deeper root. Even in physical Nature we find what may be called anticipations of human morality. WE have now reviewed two types of thought which start from the same position and move in directions exactly opposite to one another. The common starting-point was the convic- tion that in our sense of moral authority we have an intimation that there is a personal moral Governor of the world, everywhere present and active ; or, as Dr Martineau expresses it in the Preface to his Study of Religion, " an ever-living God, a Divine Mind and Will ruling the Universe and holding moral relations with mankind." 1 Cardinal Newman, going in search of a system of dogmas expressing the dealings of the moral Governor with man dogmas which must be absolutely true rests on the Infallibility of the Church ; an authority merely external. Dr Martineau and Francis W. Newman, destructively criticising the 1 I am now speaking only of those lines of thought in Dr Martineau which converge into ethical deism and individualism. 184 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. authority of the Bible and the Church, rest on the Infallibility of Conscience as expressing God's relation to man ; an au- thority merely internal. We found in Dr Martineau's writings lines of thought which converge in another view, a view which seemed to go beyond either of these two opposites, and embrace the truth in each ; to this view we shall have to return. But first we may adduce evidence to show that the deistic conception of God as an external Ruler and Judge is directly responsible for most of the " indifference to religion " and " unbelief " of which we hear so much to-day. The metaphor of government or kingship admirably adapts itself to the deistic view, suggesting as it does externality (to man and the world) and mere power (over man and the world) ; the ruler is a distinct being from the ruled, and has power to impress his will upon the ruled. This is precisely the idea of God which is dying out of the modern mind ; and it does not appear that any truer conception has yet found general acceptance. AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 185 We are asked to accept the notion of an Infinite Man, superintending the course of events in the world. To speak of " Infinite Mind and Will," and repudiate the expres- sion " Infinite Man/' is to make only a verbal change. Man is mind and will ; and an Infinite Man is what God has been taken to be : this conception has dominated the piety of Christendom its hymns and its prayers for centuries. In order to illus- trate our meaning, let us notice some of the characteristics of the selection of hymns in Dr Martineau's two hymn - books. These hymns are typical, as a passage! in the Pre- face to the latter selection shows : " The religious conditions under which this book is produced have determined the literary principles followed in its compilation. It is offered to a Nonconformist Broad Church by an Editor whose prevailing feeling carries him less to Broad Church sources than to other springs, Catholic, Mystical, Semi- puritan, Lutheran, Wesleyan, and gives him therefore what he most loves, and what speaks most truly for him, mingled with much which neither he nor his readers can 186 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. believe. May he drop this impossible ele- ment, and save the rest ? Or is he bound to forego the whole, and accept his silent exile from a chorus in which he longs to join, and which gives him a voice infinitely better than his own ? The common-sense of Christendom has rightly recognised a rule between these two extremes." Hence there is a large circle of hymns which have to be simply put aside ; others are acceptable with an omission or alteration ; others are taken without change. " In the recent Anglican hymnals, exaggerated emphasis is laid on objective and mythological elements which have found their way into the faith of Christendom " ; here simple exclusion is necessary, almost without exception. The same is true of hymns reciting Biblical in- cidents which are certainly unhistorical, and hymns which dwell on apocalyptic represen- tations of the future. Dr Martineau pro- ceeds to observe that " the whole hope of any gathering together of Christians in a comprehensive ' City of God ' depends on a gradual fatting away of transitory from per- manent elements in the sacra transmitted AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 187 from the past." Let us notice the result, as far as the idea of God is concerned. In the earlier compilation, Hymns for the Christian Church and Home, various aspects of the Divine Being are dwelt upon. God is, first, " the object of praise and homage " ; here the tone of the hymns is modelled on that of the laudatory passages in the Hebrew Psalms : he is also " glorious in his works," in the created world, with its signs of wis- dom and power. Again, God is " excellent in his providence," in the seasons and order of the created world, the gifts of nature, the general disposition of events, and the paternal government of man. Once more, God is " venerable in himself," and " for particular attributes," i.e., in his relations to men : here we have a recital of metaphysical attri- butes, immensity, inscrutableness, eternity, power, omnipresence, omniscience, wisdom, righteousness, and love, which is identified with mere beneficence. These are general types of the ideas which we have in view when we say that God is regarded as an Infinite Man. What view of human life is taken in connection with these 188 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. ideas ? Life is represented as consisting of " allotments " and " trials," divinely sent ; its brevity and nothingness are dwelt on, compared with the " duration of God " and of the soul. The consciousness of imperfec- tion, failure, and sin, is rightly treated as a " feeling after God," and the aspect of life as a warfare is rightly emphasised ; but the "practice of holiness"- that is, of duty re- garded as obedience to God's will appears simply as the cultivation of " personal excel- lences" and "duties to others." These general views of God and of man remain the same in the later compilation, Hymns of Praise and Prayer, with two important additional sections which intro- duce the idea of God revealing himself posi- tively in the individual soul and in the constitution and history of humanity. But the range given to these ideas is extremely narrow. There is no recognition of Humanity as a concrete spiritual form of life, and of man's social nature ; there is no recognition of any inborn tendencies in men to good or evil. Man is treated as being so inde- pendent of his fellow-creatures, so "master AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 189 of himself," as to exclude any real spiritual influence of one or another, for good or evil ; and there is much celebration of the awful- ness of his individual responsibility, but no hint of any collective responsibility of Society for its members. Thus, on the whole, it would seem that the future gathering together of Christians into a "city of God" cannot be on the basis of the religious principles here suggested. " Orthodox " Christianity of course takes the same abstract view of God ; but it has the great advantage of being able to hold up the concrete historical personality of Christ as a source of divine power. Hence it can make a far more effective appeal to the feelings and imagination, and so to conduct and char- acter, than is possible through dwelling on an abstract God who can be described only by metaphysical attributes, or known only as an object to be " praised." Even the great doctrine of divine Fatherhood is in danger of becoming an ineffective abstrac- tion or a mere sentiment, if taken apart from Chmst ; for its historical meaning in Christendom surely arose from the fact that 190 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. God was regarded as the Father of CJirist that is, as a Fount of Goodness adequate to produce and sustain a life like Christ's. Apart from this relation, the Fatherhood of God is only a sentimental expression for the old doctrine of Providence. It seems to be true that the belief in such a Providence, that is, in an Infinite Person outside ourselves who physically provides, is dying out of the modern mind, and at least in its old form will never live again. Some- times we seem to hear the spirit of man rise up to reject it, not in bitterness but grief that " the Great Companion is dead." But the many rest in utter indifference to the meaning of religion, through the feeling that there is no truth in it ; the few, feeling that " Man is the only Providence," devote them- selves to working while it is day, saying with Clifford, " Let us join hands and help, for to-day we are alive together." Sometimes a sense of " the unfathomable injustice of the nature of things" comes upon the mind with such force that we can scarcely think of anything else. Thus, AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 191 Richard Jefferies exclaims, in his Story of my Heart: How can I adequately express my contempt for the assertion that all things occur for the best, for a wise and beneficent end, and are ordered by a humane intelli- gence? It is the most utter falsehood, and a crime against the human race. . . . Human suffering is so great, so endless, so awful, that I can hardly write of it. I could not go into hospitals and face it, as some do, lest my mind should be temporarily overcome. The whole and the worst the Pessimist can say is far beneath the least particle of the truth, so immense is the misery of man. It is the duty of all rational beings to acknow- ledge the truth. There is not the least trace of directing intelligence in human affairs. . . . Any one who will con- sider the affairs of the world at large, and of the indi- vidual, will see that they do not proceed in the manner they would do for our happiness if a man of humane breadth of view were placed at their head, with unlimited power, such as is credited to the intelligence which does not exist. A man of intellect and humanity could cause everything to happen in an infinitely superior manner. The same bitter repudiation of the old con- ception of a " beneficent " Providence is found in Olive Schreiner's two powerful and moving books, The Story of an African Farm and Trooper Peter Halket of Ma- shonaland. In the former, with unflinch- ing courage she exposes the shallowness of 192 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. the conventional ideas of God's government. And in her later book she shows us the pic- ture of a Company, stronger even than the companies where " liability " in gold is " limited," the oldest Company on earth, consisting of those who have spent them- selves for the good of their kind : this Company is the Providence of the world. From another point of view, the spirit of antagonism to the Hebrew conception of God has found expression in a well-known poem by William Watson, from which I quote some verses : When, overarched by gorgeous night, I wave my trivial self away ; When all I was to all men's sight Shares the erasure of the day ; Then do I cast my cumbering load, Then do I gain a sense of God. Not him that with fantastic boasts A sombre people dreamt they knew ; The mere barbaric God of Hosts That edged their sword and braced their thew ; A God they pitted 'gainst a swarm Of neighbour Gods less vast of arm. A God like some imperious King, Wroth, were his realm not duly awed ; AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 193 A God for ever hearkening Unto his self -commanded laud ; A God for ever jealous grown Of carven wood and graven stone. A God whose ghost, in arch and aisle, Yet haunts his temple and his tomb ; Man's giant shadow, hailed divine. He proceeds to expand the idea that the God whom we do dimly know or feel has no moral interest in man : The work of heaven ! 'Tis waiting still The sanction of the heavenly will. Here there comes out the feeling that the disappearance of this belief is not all loss ; it is the disappearance of a form of expression for the Divine Life, which like the idea of Heaven as a "place" where people "go" may be pleasing to the imaginative emotions, yet in a manner lowers the object which we endeavour to express by it. Even Watts' well-known hymn, beginning " Be- fore Jehovah's awful throne," fine as it is, considered as poetry, jars upon us by dwell- ing almost entirely on Majestic Power as the essence of the Divine Nature. What is there in Power that claims our adoration N 194 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. or gratitude, or our " praise," even if " without our aid " it " formed us of clay, and made us men " ? All the revived Hebrew piety of Christendom celebrates God as mere external Power, and His Pro- vidence as mere external beneficence ; and it is impossible for any one imbued with the modern spirit to enter into either of these sentiments, because he will feel that the Power is not adorable and there are no traces of the Providence. The truth is that this idea of a Providence, acting in general and in particular, has made the problem of evil an utterly insuperable ob- stacle to faith in modern times. We are required to believe in an Infinite Man all- powerful in virtue of his infinity regu- lating events both in the mass and in their details. Hence the vast range of evil, which cannot be brought home to human freedom, must appear as comparable to what in a human governor we should call blundering or mismanagement. The apologist can only fall back on the ancient commonplace, " The ways of Providence are inscrutable " : to which men reply, "Is an inscrutable Pro- AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 195 vidence a Providence at all ? " Or, like Carlyle, he can indulge in a vilification of man, with the idea of showing that most of what happens to him is well deserved. Yet still, the question which the child asks at its mother's knee "Why did God let it hap- pen?"- is the question which is wearing away the belief in an almighty external Governor to - day. All the attributes which the old theology assigned to God are recognised as belonging to the Power which sustains the Universe all but two : Immensity, Eternity, Omnipresence, Omnipotence, Inscrutableness are there, but not Wisdom and Love. The extent to which the Churches them- selves to-day are honeycombed with agnosti- cism would, if accurately estimated, probably be a most startling revelation. Clergymen and ministers fondly imagine that bodily presence in their buildings even at their most sacred ordinances, such as the Lord's Supper signifies that the heart of faith is there also. They forget the many forces which induce participation in the forms and ceremonies of public worship long after all faith has died away. The influence of what 196 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. is socially correct and becoming the stronger influences of friends and relatives a general unwillingness to break with the past for the sake of gaining nothing better even the mere inertia of habit and custom, all help to keep up the outward, apparent strength of many religious institutions which cling most firmly to the forms of the past. Let us notice carefully what this " agnos- ticism" has done. It has rejected and with a true instinct an ancient symbolical ex- pression for God's relation to the world of men and things, which represents Him as Creator, Contriver, and beneficent Governor ; and, knowing of no better expression, it has lost all belief in any wisdom or love but that which springs from the brains and hearts of men. Of course it has many varying forms, it is crude and ignorant, it is hard and dog- matic, it is reasoned and thoughtful, it is sympathetic and reverent. To suppose that all "unbelief" arises because it is blind to goodness and so " scan's God's work in vain," as Cowper seems to imply in his well-known hymn, or to suppose that it arises from a lack of deep feeling, would AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 197 be only a shallow impertinence. It is just because of their depth of feeling that many minds, at the present time, reject the old conventional form of Theism. Among so- called Agnostics are some of the finest spirits of our day, who from sheer veracity and reverence will not speak of " God," but only of the " Force that informs all things." But the instincts of faith often outlast its out- ward forms or intellectual expressions ; and agnosticism is often only a place of refuge where faith hides while she is changing. I proceed to consider more carefully two types of systematic Agnosticism : one, that which goes by the name of Positivism ; the other, represented in the works of Herbert Spencer. I cannot hope to do more than dwell on some of the most important aspects of these modes of thought. A full critical discussion of all their grounds and impli- cations would involve a philosophical treat- ise on the Theory of the basis and limits of Knowledge. The word Positivism has become associated with the general views of the French thinker 198 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. Auguste Comte ; but this provides for a double use of the term. First, it signifies Comte's view of the limits of knowledge : in this sense, Positivism is an important and characteristically English mode of thought, which he adopted. But it also signifies Comte's " Religion of Humanity," which he offers as a substitute for what has hitherto been called religion. We shall have to consider both branches of his doctrine, for in both it may be very instructively contrasted with Herbert Spencer's. But we must first make a passing reference to the father of the Positivist theory of knowledge, David Hume. Locke had taught that all our sound know- ledge depends on " experience," that is, is derived from the " facts " which our senses show us, and from reflection on these facts. Experience is thus limited to the physical senses, and consists of sensations produced in us by the external world. Hume replied that ideas acquired by this means do not constitute real knowledge that is, know- ledge of anything beyond these particular facts of experience themselves. His most important illustration of this is the idea of AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 199 cause. Experience whether we mean by this word the order of our own thoughts and feelings or the order of things in space shows us only regular orders of succession among the various facts which make it up. We cannot conclude that there is an inner bond of connexion still less a necessary bond between two things, because in ex- perience they always come in a certain order ; and we cannot conclude that there is a general absolute law of cause and effect that everything must have a cause- simply on the ground that we have grown accustomed to seeing one thing come regu- larly after another, during the short span of experience which makes up our life. Thus Hume denies that there is any real connec- tion between particular facts. Experience, he says, shows none. Experience only shows us particular facts coming after and before one another, existing side by side with each other, and being like and unlike each other. These are the limits of our knowledge. Now notice the consequences of this breakdown of the principle of causality. We have no right to pass from the particular facts which our 200 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. senses give us, to real or material things which cause the sensations ; we have no right to argue from "the world" i.e., our experience as a whole to a God as its original cause ; we have no right to pass from our particular ideas and feelings to a real self or soul which "has" them, and makes them a unity. In each case we should be attempting to make out a real connection between facts of experience and some supposed thing which is not a part of experience at all. Hume says that ex- perience, by force of custom acting on our feeling and imagination, is able to produce a number of beliefs in us which are groundless e.g., that one real thing acts on another, when in truth we only perceive one change followed by another. Thus, " if we believe that fire warms and water refreshes, it is only because it costs us too much pains to think otherwise ! " In the main Comte adopts this theory of knowledge or no-knowledge ; he considers it a very convenient weapon for getting rid of Theology, and for putting scientific knowledge on a sure foundation ; the AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 201 latter is certainly a curious turn to give to a doctrine which is accurately summed up in the remark which we have just quoted from Hume. Most English Positivists follow Comte in stopping half way in their Scepticism, and, like J. S. Mill and G. H. Lewes, insist that a scientific knowledge of phenomena is pos- sible, but no other knowledge. We have no means of telling whether anything beyond phenomena exists, much less of knowing about it if it does exist. Comte, however, regards theology as springing from real needs of our nature, needs which ought to be satisfied ; and the characteristic of his Posi- tivism is the attempt to give them a new and better satisfaction. He would say " new and better," because he had formed a very strict and narrow idea of what " theology " meant and taught. For him, theology means a rigid deistic monotheism with its corollary of ethical individualism. This con- ception he attacks with much bitterness, dwelling especially on its anti - social ten- dencies ; and, as we have seen, it is open to attack on every side. He considers that the 202 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. essence of Christianity consists in the same deistic individualism. He admits indeed that this central conception was modified by subsequent doctrines, such as those de- veloped in the Pauline and Johannine writings, which bring God nearer to man and men nearer to one another ; but with strange disregard for history he regards these doctrines as external accretions, or even as the conscious inventions of particular men with the object of making Christianity socially more workable. Certainly if his view of what " theology " must be were a true one, we should have to grant to him that a quite new presentation of religion is necessary for the needs of the present and the coming time. Still, Comte's mistaken attitude to the past does not detract from the merit of his recognition that in humanity there are vital needs which the mere know- ledge of " phenomena " is unable to satisfy. How does he propose to satisfy them ? He explains carefully the elements of which a Religion must consist. When we have a coherent self-consistent thought of an object which is more than our finite selves ; and if AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 203 also it is one in which our affections can rest, as being our highest good, and which we can take as the aim of all living, then we have religion. Religion is necessary to give unity to life ; without it, we are tossed to and fro not only by " every wind of doctrine " but by every transient impulse. Cointe is most emphatic in asserting that a religious view of life is necessary to give it harmony, both in the case of the single person and of society. The three elements of religion are as we have said submission to a Power which is more than we ; love or reverence for that Power as being the direct source of all our good ; and co-operation with it as one that needs our help, one with whom in St Paul's words we may be " fellow - workers," and with regard to whom we have therefore a certain degree of independence. The first of these elements, without the second and third, yields only resignation to a resistless Force outside ourselves. The first and second, without the third, yield only the passive contemplative acquiescence of mysticism ; the Divine tends to appear as an all-absorb- ing sea which leaves no room for the ex- 204 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. istence of the finite. But when the supreme Object is thought of, not only as Mighty Power and as eternally-complete quiescent Perfection, but also as a self-realising Power of Goodness, which like a "Man of War" demands our efforts to help it, then we have the main factors in a vital religion. That Comte's analysis of which I have here given a free reproduction is profoundly true, we cannot doubt. In particular, the old abstract idea of Divine " omnipotence " has no moral or religious value whatever. It makes im- possible the deeply suggestive thought ex- pressed by St Paul, " We are fellow-labourers with God," and compels us to think of all conflict as falling entirely outside the Divine Being. But when we think of God as " a Man of War," not because He has to con- tend with foreign powers, but because the realisation of His own Purposes requires, within the evolution of each, a process of antagonism, strife, and transforming victory ; and when we think of ourselves as intimately involved in this process, which is an antag- onism not between good and bad but between partial evils having a " soul of goodness,"- AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 205 then we may think of ourselves as, in a most intimate sense, charged with a Divine mis- sion here, of which our often hard and pain- ful struggles and conflicts are an essential condition. Where does Comte look for this Object of Religion ? By reason of his " positive " theory of knowledge he holds that the Power which lies behind phenomena as their bearer, or which controls them, is wholly beyond our ken ; our thought and feeling are alike without access to it ; for us it does not exist. Its work, in the pheno- menal order of the natural world, appears only as a blind fatality, indifferent to man's weal or woe. To find the Object of Religion, Comte turns from Nature to Man. In his Catechism of the Positive Religion he says : " We have the idea of a single vast and eternal Being, Humanity, destined by socio- logical laws [i.e., by laws belonging to its own nature] to constant development under the preponderating influence of biological and cosmological necessities." Thus as he ex- presses it elsewhere "towards Humanity, who is for us the only true Grand Eire, we, 206 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. the conscious elements of whom she is com- posed, shall henceforth direct every aspect of our life, individual or collective. Our thoughts will be devoted to the knowledge of Humanity, our affections to her love, our actions to her service." Comte and his fol- lowers stretch realistic metaphors to the utmost in describing this Supreme Being. Here we see the remarkable contrast be- tween his Positivism and the Positivism which grew up in the school of Locke and Hume. Comte, as we saw, accepts the main ideas of this school as regards know- ledge, that knowledge consists of the isolated impressions of sense. This doc- trine has been usually combined with an individualistic theory of society, that, as there are no rational bonds of connection among the impressions which make up any one's experience, so there are none among individual men in society. The latter theory Comte rejects with all his might. Of course conventional theology has a short way with Comte's view of Humanity. It replies that Humanity is an abstraction, hav- ing no existence outside our own thoughts ; AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 207 it is a mere idea of the qualities which dis- tinguish man from the animals beneath him. Here conventional theology is at one with many followers of the English school of Positivism, and especially with the French atheists of the time of Diderot and d'Hol- bach, who developed Locke's ethical indi- vidualism to extremes, regarding man as " by nature " either unsocial, or at least as not depending upon his fellow - men for any of his intellectual, ethical, and spiritual resources. From this point of view " Humanity " is nothing but a word, merely an abstract term ; and " Society " is only a name for the collection of units which are individual men. This idea, no doubt, is still deeply rooted in popular theological and political thinking; but it is abandoned by nearly all reflecting minds to-day, who recognise that Comte's meta- phorical language concerning " Humanity " expresses a truth of deep importance. It is not only that the single life cannot be lived unless in some kind of harmony with other lives, a harmony worked out both in reason and in feeling ; but in reason and feeling 208 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. alike each man is carried beyond himself and draws vital spiritual nourishment from the reason and feeling of others. It is literally true, as St Paul says, that men are " mem- bers one of another." Humanity is, in short, a real organic life penetrating its members and partly constituting or making each of them what he is. But of all the types of Humanity, which are we to take as the object of religion ? Comte observes that " Humanity is not composed of all individuals or groups of men, past, present, and future, taken in- discriminately." The Humanity which is to be reverenced consists of the best, those who have been greatest intellectually, ethic- ally, and spiritually. " The new Grand Eire is formed by the co-operation only of such existences as are of a kindred nature with itself; excluding such as have proved only a burden to the human race." It is quite true that all the nobly great, all the best, are working out a spiritual kingdom of Humanity within the general life of the race ; but we must carefully consider in what way from Comte's point of view AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 209 this kingdom can be said to exist. This Supreme Being is indeed much more than a name or an idea in our heads ; but it is a name only for the present accumulated inheritance of humanity's spiritual pro- gress. Does it then satisfy Comte's ac- count of what is necessary for religion ? No ; it is not a Real Power which is more than ourselves. It satisfies the other condi- tions : it is an object which we can rever- ence, and on which our affections can rest, and in whose realisation we can take part ; for it is a real growth, in which the achieve- ments of the past survive through their effects in the present. But this is the only way in which the past exists ; in what other way could it be real ? Thus in this sense only is Humanity a Real Power that we are moved by our thoughts of the past and by all its conscious and unconscious effects in our own selves. Comte is not even en- titled to say that Humanity is the source of our ideals and our various kinds of human good ; it simply consists of these ideals and these forms of good, so far as they have attained realisation and perpetuated them- o 210 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. selves, and so far as they are sources of inspiration. If there is an absolute Being who is the source of all our good, we are rationally com- pelled to identify it with the Power which sus- tains the phenomena of Nature. Otherwise, the so-called Being only exists so far as we have realised it : even its further realisation is as yet only a possibility, set before us as an ideal. But whence comes this imperious, persuasive Ideal ? Dr Edward Caird in his excellent little work on TJie Social Philosophy and Religion of Comte points out that the same arguments which break down the divi- sion between man and man, break down the division between man and Nature : " the only philosophical difficulty is to conceive how man can transcend his private or par- ticular individuality at all ; and, if that is shown to be for him possible, there is no reason whatever for denying that he can and must rise to the knowledge of God, the absolute or objective unity of the world " ; and this unity, regarded in its intellectual aspect, is simply the goal of science. Comte dwells on the indifference to all AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 211 human aims which characterises natural laws and forces. This world-old problem stands in the way of our identifying the Source of our ideals with the Source of natural law ; or as Huxley would have said - - prevents us from regarding the "ethical process" of 'humanity as having anything in common with the " cosmic pro- cess" of the universe. Yet at the same time the existence of this problem is the very fact which prompts us to make the identification which may seem a paradox. Consider what our relation to Nature really is. Man is formed out of the dust of the earth ; physically, we are made of the same stuff as the plants and stones. We are bound by countless ties to the world on which we live ; w r e are earth of its earth, it is flesh of our flesh. We are enclosed by a network of laws that never fail ; we are like prisoners bound on every side by a million unfelt bonds which never give way, like " a magic web woven through and through us, . . . penetrating us with a net- work subtler than our subtlest nerves, yet bearing in it the central forces of the world." 212 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. The aspect under which the physical uni- verse first presents itself to us is that of a vast system of forces acting by laws which never vary ; and this is what has " beset us behind and before" and "laid its hand upon us." How are we profited if a being, un- related to these forces, has inspired us to search after truth and goodness, if for any- thing we knew to the contrary the nature of the universe, by whose life ours is en- folded, may render it impossible that truth and goodness should ever be effectively real- ised ? We may be willing to trust in the highest desires and aspirations to which man's nature rises ; but what avails it, if we do not know their relation to the world around us ? Professor Huxley, in his Lecture on Evolu- tion and Ethics, has given us a most forcible and eloquent statement of the opposition be- tween Nature and human morality, and has shown how for ages past mankind has found itself face to face with the same dread prob- lem of evil ; and how in seeking to know " whether there is or is not a sanction for morality in the ways of the cosmos," it has learnt at last that " cosmic nature is no AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 213 school of virtue, but the headquarters of the enemy of ethical nature." To this Cornte would have heartily assented ; and indeed the difference between the ethical and the cosmic process is not to be denied, though it is sometimes exaggerated. But when we consider the fact on which we have been dwelling, that so large a part of our life is actually bound up with the cosmic pro- cess itself, what are we to make of this opposition between the same cosmic process and that higher part of ourselves which pro- duces ideal morality? It suggests to us that what Huxley calls the " cosmic process " has not produced all the contents of man's soul ; that our distinctively human qualities and powers are not the product of mere phys- ical evolution. The fatalistic machinery of Nature - - her forces and her laws, which prevail all through and indeed constitute the "material universe" -must somehow be subordinate to a deeper reality, whose laws are related to, and expressed in, human ideals of goodness. Only if we can hold this, can we allow the absolute authority which Comte and Huxley in different ways - claim for the ethical life. 214 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. It is going too far to say with Huxley and Comte that the cosmic process bears no sort of relation to the ethical : this is not true, even if we only look at Nature "phenomen- ally." The most important illustration is mentioned by Comte himself. The merely physical conditions of existence require the partial suppression of that natural animal egoism which at first is man's strongest im- pulse. Subsequently, prudence consciously ratifies this suppression, and recognises further positive advantages which accrue from exchange of services and even from unrequited helpfulness ; and self-restraint, thus becoming voluntary, makes room for the emergence and control of the unselfish impulses. Huxley reminds us of this too, and remarks that even in animal life there is a foreshadowing of human morality : Of course, strictly speaking, social life and the ethical process, in virtue of which it advances towards perfec- tion, are part and parcel of the general process of evolu- tion, just as the gregarious habit of innumerable plants and animals, which has been of immense advantage to them, is so. A hive of bees is an organic polity, a society in which the part played by each member is determined by organic necessities. . . . Among birds and mammals, AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 215 societies are formed, of which the bond in many cases seems to be purely psychological ; that is to say, it appears to depend upon the liking of the individuals for each other's company. The tendency of individ- uals to over self-assertion is kept down by fighting. Even in these rudimentary forms of society, love and fear come into play, and enforce a greater or less renunciation of self-will. To this extent the general cosmic process begins to be checked by a rudimentary ethical process which is, strictly speaking, part of the former. That the mere cosmic process itself should thus prepare the way for the ethical, is surely a fact of deep significance. It is one of those suggestions which Nature gives us sugges- tions silently made and easy to overlook that beneath the " cosmic process " of relent- less blind force, of seemingly aimless evolu- tion and dissolution, of life, growth, and struggle, pain, decay, and death, beneath this there is a deeper cosmic process which is verily related to man, and what is most fundamental in Nature is not foreign to human goodness and human ideals. If we are obliged to say of nature, regarded as " phenomenon," " We are earth of its earth, it is flesh of our flesh," this is not the last word ; our reason goes behind the pheno- 216 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. mena to their Ground arid Source, and there it finds that of which it can say " We are heart of Thy Heart, Thou art Soul of our soul ! " But we must not miss the truth which Comte's conception of a Divine Humanity expresses. I will venture to affirm that all the best religious thinking of modern times has this in common, to regard God as re- vealed through or manifested in the human race : either in the whole history and achieve- ments and ideals of humanity, or specially in one man, Christ, whose personal life is pic- torially or symbolically taken as the type of Humanity at its best, as embodying the human Ideal. Comte's deification of human- ity is a partial recognition of this great truth that God is revealed through man. George Eliot who was a convinced Positivist en- deavoured to give in her books a pictorial ex- pression of this partial truth, and even states it herself as clearly as could be wished : My books have for their main bearing a conclusion, without which I could not have cared to write any re- presentation of human life namely, that the fellowship between man and man, which has been the principle of AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. 217 development, social and moral, is not dependent on con- ceptions of what is not man ; and that the idea of God, so far as it has been a high spiritual influence, is the idea of a goodness entirely human i.e., an exaltation of the human. Far be it from me to deny the truth of any part of the principle here expressed ; but it must be supplemented. We may affirm with confidence that the idea of an exalted human goodness could never have been a high spir- itual influence, if men had actually thought of it as only an aspiration of their own hearts. They find a goodness, above their own, realised in their brethren, and how- ever moving is the reverence it excites, this is not enough. "Their imperfections, the mingling in them of littleness and greatness, the alternations of sweetest affection with peevish jealousy, of sublime intelligence and trifling vanity, bring to us some of our saddest experiences, and dash our highest enthusiasms with humiliation. In the very moments of purest homage they extort from us the sigh for a perfect spirit, where our trust and love may be for ever safe." Thus we are led to the idea of God, not as mean- 218 AGNOSTICISM AND POSITIVISM. ing only the highest achievements of our race in the past and our loftiest idea of its possibilities in the future, but as represent- ing the deepest of realities, the everlasting foundation of all existence, which reveals itself in the inspiring power of our highest rational ideals. It is not a thing which is " not man," but is an abiding reality im- manent in humanity, and revealed through humanity. The best deeds of the human race are only broken lights of the Life Divine ; but though broken, they are lights, lights proceeding from the one perfect Light. 219 CHAPTER VII. THE AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. SUMMARY. SPENCER seeks for Truth by dropping all the points in which the various conflicting beliefs differ : a process which leads to nothing. His rejection of the Positivist doctrine, that the Ab- solute Power behind phenomena does not exist for us, is justified ; but his own doctrine, that this Power exists but is unknowable, is palpably inconsistent. Our view of what is knowable depends on our conception of the " laws of thought." Spencer's doctrine originates in a definition of the Infinite which is taken as an axiom or " law of thought," that it excludes the finite from it- self : a definition which is mistaken and groundless. His test of truth the " inconceivability of the oppo- site " does not distinguish between conceiving and im- agining, and in effect is equivalent to Newman's test by the mere invincible Reeling of certainty. Spencer's view of the permanent and true element in religion takes it to be " awe of the Unknowable " ; but it does not appear that any feeling is possible towards what is strictly unknowable. We arrive at a know- ledge of " the Absolute " by seeking for the origin of 220 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. our Ideals, and most chiefly of that " ethical process " which Huxley showed to be so different in tendency from the " cosmic process " (the phenomenal or physical order of Nature). Hence we see that the strength of Comte's Religion of Humanity lies in its teaching that our highest conception of the Divine must he directly based on our conception of what is highest in the human. Comte offers for our worship a Goodness not rooted in any reality higher than mankind ; Spencer offers for our worship a Reality or Power unrelated to anything human : two opposite extremes. Our view seems to save the truth in both. WE found that Comte started with the con- ception that our knowledge never extends beyond " phenomena," that is to say, our sound and reliable knowledge ; and we found that he held up for our religious inspiration a moral ideal, truly conceived to embrace the development of all that is best in Humanity, but with no Real Power- as its source and sustainer. Spencer starts with the same conception, that the know- ledge which science and common life give us is limited to phenomena. But he finds the only true element in religion to be a vague feeling directed towards the Power under- neath phenomena, which is the most real of AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 221 all things, but has no sort of relation to humanity and its ideals. He begins by reminding us that as there is a soul of goodness in things which are evil, so there is a soul of truth in beliefs which are mistaken : A candid acceptance of this general principle, and an adoption of the course it indicates, will greatly aid us in dealing with those chronic antagonisms by which men are divided. Applying it not only to current ideas with which we are personally unconcerned, but also to our own ideas and those of our opponents, we shall be led to form far more correct judgments. We shall be ever ready to suspect that the convictions we entertain are not wholly right, and that the adverse convictions are not wholly wrong. On the one hand, we shall not, in common with the great mass of the unthinking, let our beliefs be determined by the mere accident of birth in a particular age on a particular part of the earth's surface ; and on the other hand, we shall be saved from that error of entire and contemptuous negation which is fallen into by most who take up an attitude of independent criticism. This is a truth whose consequences reach far, and which we have already illustrated in several ways. But Spencer proceeds to make a use of it very different from that which we have had in view. He shows, in- deed, how religious beliefs are ail-but uni- 222 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. versally diffused, how they have always had a deep controlling influence all through human history, and how they have been able to hold their ground notwithstanding the attacks of science. Such facts afford almost certain proof that religion involves or rests upon some important truth. But science, which stands in unceasing conflict with religious dogmas, is one and impreg- nable, while religions are various and are in conflict among themselves also. Hence the underlying truth can only be found by dropping everything that distinguishes the particular religions, first from one another, and then from science. When this is done, we arrive at the conception of a universal Power or Energy, sustaining all things, and unknowable by us. The reader will remember how we saw that the conflict between different beliefs, when each was true in some degree, often suggested a way of arriving at a better truth. This was by finding a middle way between the opposite assertions. But the middle way consisted in finding a principle which included what truth there was in the AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 223 two extremes, embracing both in a deeper truth. By simply dropping the different factors which oppose one another, we are led to a principle which has less truth than either of the extremes ; and if this process is carried on far enough, we shall be led at length to conclude that every " First Prin- ciple" is a bottom unthinkable or unknow- able. This is just what Spencer does, ac- cording to his own statement of the right way of finding the truth in mistaken be- liefs : To compare all opinions of the same genus ; to set aside as more or less discrediting one another those various special and concrete elements in which such opinions disagree ; to observe what remains after the discordant constituents have been eliminated ; and to find for this remaining constituent that abstract expres- sion which holds true throughout its divergent modifi- cations. We must observe that to contrast science and religion in this way shows a funda- mental misconception of their respective objects. Spencer observes that " every re- ligious creed," from the most primitive fancies to the most fully developed theol- ogy, " is definable as a theory of original 224 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. causation," " an hypothesis which is sup- posed to render the universe intelligible." Now the best authorities on the History of Religion are agreed that when religions are classified " morphologically," that is, accord- ing to the manner in which the constituent factors of each are related to one another, they form as it were an elliptic area, whose two foci are " nature religion " and " ethical religion." l Spencer's observation is sub- stantially true of nature religions : the gods and spirits with which they deal are before all things " theories of original causation," ways of explaining the world ; and, as they develop, their idea of God's relation to man is a resultant of their ideas of his relation to the world, as in the ancient Vedic religion, and the Hellenic and Greco-Roman. But even in nature religions their development brings to light a fact which Spencer at least when he is contrasting scientific and religious causation appears to overlook. The causes which religion has in view are different in kind from those which science has in view. The objects with which science 1 These terms are preferred by Professor Tiele. AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 225 deals meet us in the course of outward ex- perience ; its facts and its causes are all in space and time ; and all scientific theories of causation must be verifiable by reference to events in space and time. But the objects of religion are not mere events, they are theories of the Ground and Meaning of events ; hence the constant use of such terms as Infinite, Absolute, First Cause, Ultimate Cause, &c. In ethical religions the direct moral relation of the gods to men is the centre of all ideas and beliefs. Many theories of creation and world -government may be formed, but the motive of it all is the moral interaction between God and Man. God's relation to the world is so conceived as to develop and explain and justify his rela- tion to man. Of this, the Hebrew religion is the best example. Hence science,- which tries to understand physical nature, cannot touch the predominant motive in ethical re- ligions which is based on man's moral nature. The two can only conflict if there has been an illegitimate extension given to theory on one side or the other. As every one knows, this has largely taken place ; P 226 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. science has claimed to include man in its physical explanations of the world, and re- ligion has insisted on retaining an obsolete theory of Nature. Hence " Man's place in Nature " has been the scientific, philosophic, and religious cause celebre during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Analysing in detail Spencer's difference from Comte, we come first to his protest against the extreme " phenomenalist " doc- trine, that an Absolute Power beneath phe- nomena does not exist, for us. Dr Martineau l has observed that " Spen- cer's testimony against the merely phe- nomenal doctrine is of high value ; ... it betrays his appreciation of that outlook beyond the region of phenomena for the con- ditions of religion, which cannot, eventually, be content to gaze into an abyss without reply." Spencer insists that the very con- ception of experience implies something of which there is experience ; and that " it is rigorously impossible to conceive that our 1 Dr Martineau's discussions of the systematic doctrine of Agnosticism, in his Essays on Mansel and Spencer, and in his Study of Religion, are among his most brilliant philo- sophical achievements. AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 227 knowledge is a knowledge of appearances only, without at the same time conceiving a reality of which they are appearances ; for appearance without reality is unthinkable." * There is no difficulty in granting that we are in the presence of a universal Power on which we and all things depend, but which is "absolute" i.e., dependent on nothing beyond itself. Our difficulties all begin when we attempt to define this Power. Spencer's famous doctrine of the Unknow- able may be briefly but accurately expressed thus : we can know that the Absolute Power is, but not what it is. Now observe that if this doctrine is understood strictly, it is self- contradictory, for it forbids us to think what it is whose existence we affirm. If we can know that the Absolute exists, we can know it by thought only ; and how can there be a thought with nothing thinkable a thought of what is unthinkable ? Dr Martineau truly says : By calling this existence a Power, Spencer surely removes it by one mark from the Unknown ; but besides 1 First Principles, Part I. ch. iv. 26 (3rd edition). 228 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. this, we are obliged, he says, to regard that Power as omnipresent, as eternal, as One, as Cause manifested in all phenomena : a list of predicates scanty indeed when measured by the requisites of religion, but too copious for the plea of nescience. Too copious, in truth : as when, in an article published in the Nineteenth Century, 1 Spencer indulges in a destructive analysis of the idea of God as a personal i.e., conscious and self-conscious Being, and then proceeds to say : Among the mysteries which become the more mys- terious the more they are thought about, there will remain the one absolute certainty, that we are over in presence of an Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed. If we can know all this, surely we can know something more ; and the declaration that Reality is unknowable must be given up. What can have led one who is after all a capable thinker, to such a palpably self- contradictory conclusion ? The answer is that all such conclusions depend on the view taken of the structure of Thought or Intel- ligence. When we are " thinking," in the proper sense going through a process of 1 January 1884. AGNOSTICISM OP HERBERT SPENCER. 229 thought in order to arrive at a piece of knowledge about something we are using our intelligence ; and our intelligence is a real power or function, which for the moment we may, by a rough metaphor, compare to a tool. A tool of construction almost in- finite in its complexity ; in fact, its com- plexity is such that it can partly take itself to pieces, and can manufacture itself, for the more it works the more complex it becomes ! There are many kinds of ordinary work which this marvellous tool will do easily ; we all have to learn how to use it for these, and our use of it becomes almost an instinct, so that we never need to think about the construction of the tool. But when we want to know all the kinds of work which it will do, and to find whether there is any limit to its powers, then surely we must understand how it is made and learn the laws of its own structure. No one has any right to say positively what it will not do, unless he explains that part of its structure which prevents it doing this work. That is to say, there may be an agnosticism which is mere dogmatism, resting on an unwilling- 230 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. ness or an incapacity to examine the laws of our intelligence. But, given the willingness and capacity to inquire into the laws of our intellectual machinery, we must remember how these laws are so complex that different results may be arrived at in different cases ; and the limits assigned to what is thinkable and knowable depend entirely on the view taken of the structure and laws of thought. According to Spencer's view of these laws, we are compelled to divide the universe into two parts. One is the part where knowledge is possible : the sphere of the "relative," the "conditioned," the "finite," so called because things in it are related to one another, because the state of one depends on the states of others, and hence is said to be " conditioned " by them, and because they are all finite existences. This is the region of " phenomena," as ordinary Positivism understands the word. The other region is that of the Absolute, the Unconditioned, the Infinite ; this is the so-called Unknowable, about which, as we have seen, a good deal is known after all. Yet it is supposed to be unthinkable : AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 231 why ? Because if the Infinite were think- able, this would mean that it could be an object of thought for some thinker ; and then it would not be Infinite, Absolute, or Un- conditioned. Not Infinite ; for he, the thinker, would be beyond it, thinking about it ; not Absolute, for it would be related to him, to his consciousness ; not Uncon- ditioned, for in so far as he knew it, it would be dependent upon him. In becom- ing an object of his thought, it would be- come finite, relative, conditioned. Such is the view of Thought which Spencer adopts from Sir W. Hamilton and Dean Mansel. When we consider Spencer's argument carefully, we see that its root fallacy is this : the assumption that the Infinite of necessity wholly excludes the finite from itself, and hence lies altogether outside the range of any finite thinker's thought. But such an Infinite is the emptiest fiction of a mistaken logic. To assign supreme reality to such an abstraction is the counterpart of the error which we spoke of at the begin- ning, the error of supposing that Truth is attained simply by leaving out opposites. 232 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. If it were so, the most true would be the most abstract, the most empty, the furthest away from the concrete contents of our thought. So here, the most real existence is taken to be that which has least in com- mon with the concrete facts of experience, and which therefore excludes from itself things finite which differ from one another. But what if it be a law of thought that every real unity is like a living soul in being unity of many different and indeed opposite qualities ? What if the Infinite the most real unity of all be that which embraces everything finite while it transcends all ? What if the Infinite, so far from excluding the finite, is necessarily related to the finite ? In this case finite beings can only know one another and act upon one another in virtue of their relation to the Infinite, while in their turn they do not limit the Infinite but realise it. And then the Absolute is revealed in and through its appearances. That is the real meaning of the principle on which Spencer himself insists, that the appearance cannot be without the reality, for it is the appearance of the reality. AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 233 We must observe here that several of Spencer's arguments in Part I. of the First Principles seem to rest on the assumption that we are obliged to ask a cause for existence as such. Surely this is a fallacy also. We ask after causes for changes, and for beginnings, in time for events, in a word. Hence it is quite pointless to say, " If we admit that there can be something itself uncaused [e.g., a Divine Cause], there is no reason to assume a cause for anything." 1 Experience shows us the world as a vast system of changes and new beginnings ; and science and philosophy are one prolonged search for causes, one persistent endeavour to connect these events causally with one another, and to penetrate beneath them to deeper causes. The deepest cause of all would be what Spencer calls " uncaused," for it would be the Source and Ground of all. We notice that in his First Principles and elsewhere Spencer works great execu- tion by applying to the objects of religious and other beliefs the test of what is " con- 1 Chapter ii. 12, p. 37 (3rd edition). 234 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. ceivable." The reader will remember that we had to distinguish between real thinking and picture-thinking, thought and imagina- tion. Sometimes more especially in the chapter on "Ultimate Religious Ideas "- Spencer uses "conceivable" in one sense, sometimes in the other. It is evident that the conceivable and the imaginable are dif- ferent mental products : thus even a pleasure or pain, considered as mere feeling, is not a thing of which we can form any kind of mental picture ; but we can conceive it, for we know what the term means. In his Principles of Psychology Spencer lays down a test of truth, which he calls " the Universal Postulate," whose application if it were re- liable would be frustrated by the confusion between thinking and imagining, a con- fusion which it is very easy to fall into, in spite of great care taken to avoid it. He says that an ultimate truth is that whose " opposite " is " inconceivable." Now all argu- ments depending on the mere psychological experiment of trying whether something is " conceivable " or not, are most untrust- worthy, mainly through the confusion just AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 235 mentioned ; yet Spencer makes these argu- ments the bases of his system. Apart from this difficulty, the " Universal Postulate " is no reliable test of truth. Among the various statements of it which Spencer has given, the following is one of the most precise : An abortive effort to conceive the negation of a pro- position shows that the cognition expressed is one of which the predicate invariably exists along with its subject ; and the discovery that the predicate always exists along with its subject, is the discovery that this cognition is one which we are compelled to accept. One of our ablest living psychologists, commenting on this passage, has well said that this is no test of truth ; it is only a test of belief : It may always happen that what is found to be unthinkable at one time may become thinkable at another, and vice versa. New data and new points of view are always capable of working a change ; to fall back on the unthinkableness of the opposite as a test of truth is simply to shut our eyes to further evidence; logically, Mr Spencer's position is identical with that attributed to ladies it simply amounts to saying that "a thing is because it is." It makes the mere existence of a belief, or at any rate of a full assurance, the evidence of its truth. 1 1 G. F. Stout, Analytic Psychology, vol. ii. p. 241. 236 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. It is almost startling to find that Spencer's position here is the same as that of Cardinal Newman, who makes " indefectibility of cer- titude" the test of truth. The "indefecti- bility " is equivalent to " inconceivability of the opposite." And as we saw, it amounts to no more than a very strong mental im- pulse to hold certain beliefs : to find in this impulse, as a mere fact, a reason for the belief, is to say that there are no reasons only feelings, impulses, and psychological causes. In any case Spencer seems to make a rather arbitrary selection among the " firm assurances" of consciousness. One of the firmest is the conviction of every one that "himself" is more than the mere succession of his thoughts and feelings : this Spencer rejects as illusion. Another is the con- viction that in experience we have a direct hold upon reality in many of its details, and not merely upon a substitute coming be- tween us and things as they are ; but Spencer affirms that we know only appear- ance, not reality. The view which we have advanced is that the reality is known through the phenomenon ; the knowledge AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 237 may be very partial and very fragmentary, but it is none the less true of reality, until it is corrected by fuller truth. The second great difference between Spencer and Comte is in their respective views of the surviving element in religion. Spencer thinks it is only the feeling of awe in the presence of an Infinite Mystery ; this, he says, is " the truly religious ele- ment in religion," which " has always been good." " The consciousness of an inscrutable power manifested to us through all phe- nomena," a power " whose nature transcends intuition and is beyond imagination," " gives the religious sentiment the widest possible sphere of action." The chapter in which Spencer expounds this conclusion is one which can hardly fail to make a deep im- pression on the reader. I must quote in full its most important passage : Those who espouse the alternative position [to agnos- ticism, i.e., Theism] make the erroneous assumption that the choice is between personality and something lower than personality ; whereas the choice is rather between personality and something higher. Is it not possible that there is a mode of Being as much transcending 238 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. intelligence and will as these transcend mechanical motion 1 It is true that we are totally unable to con- ceive any such higher mode of being. But this is not a reason for questioning its existence ; it is rather the reverse. Have we not seen how utterly incompetent our minds are to form even an approach to a conception of that which underlies phenomena? Is it not proved that this incornpetency is the incompetency of the Con- ditioned to grasp the Unconditioned? Does it not follow that the Ultimate Cause cannot in any respect be conceived by us because it is in every respect greater than can be conceived? And may we not, therefore, rightly refrain from assigning to it any attributes what- ever, on the ground that such attributes, derived as they must be from our own natures, are not elevations but degradations ? Indeed it seems somewhat strange that men should suppose the highest worship to lie in assimilating the object of their worship to themselves. Not in asserting a transcendent difference, but in asserting a transcendent likeness, consists the element of their creed which they think essential. It is true that from the time when the rudest savages imagined the causes of all things to be creatures of flesh and blood like themselves, down to our own time, the degree of assumed likeness has been diminishing. But though a bodily form and substance, similar to that of man, has long since ceased among cultivated races to be a literally conceived attribute of the Ultimate Cause though the grosser human desires have also been rejected as unfit elements of the con- ception though there is some hesitation in ascribing even the higher human feelings, save in greatly idealised shapes, yet it is still thought not only proper, but im- perative, to ascribe the most abstract qualities of our nature. To think of the Creative Power as in all AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 239 respects anthropomorphous, is now considered impious by men who yet hold themselves bound to think of the Creative Power as in some respects anthropomorphous ; and who do not see that the one proceeding is but an evanescent form of the other. It is alike our highest wisdom and our highest duty to regard that through which all things exist as The Unknowable. This passage seems to combine important truths with serious errors. First, we must ask, what sort of "religion" is this? The doctrine that " we cannot form even an approach to a conception of that which underlies phenomena " means, as we saw, that the absolute has nothing in common with the finite, God has nothing in common with man, nor man with God. The best qualities of our nature may develop to the uttermost, but by this we come to have less in common with the Absolute, less re- semblance to it, than the formless life of feeling in which consciousness began ; and our knowledge may grow to any extent without coming any nearer to a knowledge of the Absolute. But if so, surely the very existence of the Absolute is best forgotten, and our energies turned to the many in- terests arising out of the region which can 240 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. be known. Suppose we were gazing into the dead face of a sphinx, a face without motion, expression, or life, would it not be mere imbecility to indulge a feeling of awe and reverence ? Even so would it be to reverence " the unknowable Energy from which all things proceed," if it is utterly unknowable. We should have to recognise that what Spencer calls " the truly religious element in religion " would be little more than a form of mental disease. If we try to exalt the Absolute into a region beyond thought and beyond expression, we shall have to return to the view of Gomte and Hume, that the Absolute does not exist for us : we could no more indulge feelings to- wards it than we could indulge them in the questions at issue in " lunar politics." Pro- fessor Huxley expressed the legitimate con- clusion when he said : If a man asks me what the politics of the inhabitants of the moon are, and I reply that I do not know ; that neither I, nor any one else, have any means of knowing ; and that, under these circumstances, I decline to trouble myself about the subject at all, I do not think he has any right to call me a sceptic. On the contrary, in replying thus, I conceive that I am simply honest and AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 241 truthful, and show a proper regard for the economy of time. So Hume's strong and subtle intellect takes up a great many problems about which we are naturally curious, and shows us that they are essentially questions of lunar politics, in their essence incapable of being answered, and therefore not worth the attention of men who have work to do in the world. And he thus ends one of his Essays : " If we take in hand any volume of divinity, or school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number 1 ? No. Does it con- tain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion." But Spencer, notwithstanding the incon- sistency, is driven to recognise the reality of an infinite Power, everywhere present and active ; and Huxley, notwithstanding these brave words, finds that if we stay by the positivist view of Nature, knowing nothing but her outward events, we have an inex- plicable mystery on our hands. The great value of his Romanes Lecture on Evolution and Ethics lies in its forcible assertion of the divergence between the " ethical process " which the human spirit has created, and the phenomenal cosmic process. Whence comes this imperious tendency in man's Q 242 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. nature to construct a kingdom of his own, independently of the outwardly unmoral and inhuman forces of Nature, and sometimes in direct opposition to them ? Nay, set aside all other forms of the human ideal, and consider the realisation of knowledge only. How is it that the human race never falls into lasting intellectual despair, but attacks its problems with renewed energy again, and ever again, with irresistible un- dying confidence in its power of reaching real knowledge at last ? Positivism itself does homage to this tendency, and practically recognises its ideal as supreme ; and the question, What is its meaning, whence comes it ? presses for an answer. Accord- ing to the religious view of the world, it is the " Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all things proceed," seeking to express and realise itself through a human ideal. So, too, we regard our ideals of Love and Goodness, and of Beauty, as affording inter- pretative insight into the Nature of the Absolute. This is not an evanescent form of the " anthropomorphism " of savages ; it is an "anthropomorphism" which is capable AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 243 of growing in depth and critical power with the growth of human nature. This brings us once more to see the strength of Comte's view, that the object of religion is Humanity. It is true that he missed an essential factor when he re- fused to allow that this object is an abiding and complete reality. The Religion of Humanity confines the divine life to the short process of human history ; and the tendency of this limitation is to undermine the very sentiment of reverence which prompted it, and to deaden our sense of the infinite greatness and infinite mystery of the world. But none the less it is pro- foundly true that our highest conception of the Divine must be a conception derived directly from what is best in the human. This gives us a deeper and a truer "rela- tivity of knowledge " than the one which Spencer has in view ; one which the author of an ancient book expressed thus : " How shall we have strength to glorify Him? For he is himself greater than all his works. Many things greater than these are yet to be revealed ; for we have seen but 244 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBE11T SPENCER. a few of his works. Who hath seen Him, that he may declare him ? And who shall magnify him as he is ? We may say many things, yet we shall not attain ; and the sum of our words is, He is all. When there- fore ye glorify the Lord, exalt him as much as ye can ; for even yet will he exceed : and when ye exalt him, put forth your full strength, be not weary ; for ye will never attain." 1 " Be not weary ; for ye will never attain!" If we are able to grasp the idea of an Infinite which does not exclude the finite from itself, but embraces it and of a finite that does not limit the Infinite, but realises it, then we see that the experience of the finite may be a direct revelation of the Infinite, which is not "degraded" by predicates derived from that experience. It is true that any such predicate falls far short of the Reality, and in this sense " the Ultimate Cause is in every respect greater than can be conceived." But this does not mean that it is " unknow- able," as the late Principal Caird of Glasgow has eloquently and forcibly shown. "It is 1 Ecclesiasticus xliii. 27 ff. AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 245 because we conceive of the Unknown not as ' a mystery absolutely and for ever be- yond our comprehension/ but as containing more of what is admirable to us than we can grasp, because our intelligence is con- fronted by an object which is immeasurably above it in its own line, that there is awak- ened within us a sense of our own littleness in contrast with its greatness. In the pres- ence even of finite excellence of human genius and learning we may be conscious of feelings of deep humility and silent re- spectful admiration ; and this, too, may be reverence for the unknown. But that which makes this reverence a possible and whole- some feeling is that it is reverence not for a mere blank inscrutability, but for what I can think of as an intelligence essentially the same as my own, though far exceeding mine in its range and power. ... In like manner, the grandeur which surrounds the thought of the Absolute, the Infinite Reality beyond the finite, can only arise from this, not that it is something utterly inconceiv- able and unthinkable, but that it is the realisation of our highest ideal of spiritual 246 AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. excellence. The homage rendered to it is that which is felt for a being ' in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and know- ledge/ all the inexhaustible wealth of that boundless realm of truth in which thought finds ever increasing stimulus to aspiration, ever growing food for wonder or delight." There remains a question which may already have occurred to the reader. If our highest and truest conceptions of the Absolute can only be fragmentary repre- sentations of the real truth, how is this related to the view that the Absolute is organically united to the finite the union being so intimate as to be sometimes a matter of direct experience ? The one prin- ciple explains the other. The value of this experience depends entirely on the way in which it is interpreted ; and the interpre- tation itself has as many different degrees of truth as there are in the conceptions of God. The mode of conception which we have been defending may be expressed thus : God is the Truth in all that is true, the Beauty in all that is beautiful, the Goodness in all that is good. This is not a formula AGNOSTICISM OF HERBERT SPENCER. 247 which can be simply accepted or simply rejected : it is one whose significance is sug- gested as a fruitful subject for reflection. Its necessary consequence is that the ap- prehension of God is always at bottom a direct experience. 248 CHAPTER VIII. ROBERT BROWNING. SUMMARY. IF Religion is an experience (of the absolute worth and reality of our Ideals) together with the intellectual in- terpretation of that experience, then the worth of Religion depends on the range and depth of the experience as well as on the thoroughness of its intellectual interpretation. The great lesson of Browning's poetry is the value of Work (effort, energy of spirit) in deepening experience and so affording new data for knowledge. His appeal is to the completest possible human experience tested and interpreted by Work ; and he goes forth to survey human nature in all its degrees of greatness and vileness. His general conclusion is that " this world's no blot for us, nor blank ; it means intensely, and means good " (Fra Lippo Lippi) ; " earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure " (R. Ben Ezra) ; " all's love yet all's law " (Saul). Some personal characteristics account for his peculiarities of style. His central problem is the reconciliation of universal Power and Law with Love (Reverie). His faith is that they are at bottom one (see The Pope, 1362-1383). The strenuous mood of mind will find that experience verifies ROBERT BROWNING. 249 this. Reason cannot verify it, because Reason, for Browning, is only a critical and not a constructive power; it can only observe and criticise experience. Hence active productive energy of spirit is the only way to the meaning of things. Work, for Browning, means work out; by working things out we arrive at the truth and goodness in them. (1) By thinking out an intellectual theory to the end, we find the errors in it ; what is not true cannot be thought out consistently. Thus we may " wring knowledge from ignorance " (Rephari). (2) By working out evil its true character is betrayed and it fails; hence strenuousness in wrong-doing is better than a compromise of wicked- ness and prudence (see The Statue and the Bust, and Fifine, 128, 129). This doctrine is apparently immoral, but not really so ; he considers the effect of the energy on the soul of the worker, and is prompted by a hatred of the spirit of half-heartedness (Revelation iii. 15, com- pared with Ecclesiastes vii. 16, 17). Further, stren- uousness in evil, leading as it must do to failure, may awaken to life the germs of good in the soul (see The Pope, 1001-1003). (3) On the other hand, stren- uousness in working out what is good is the way to make the soul grow, so that it can find things in reality working together for good. This is what is meant by the " Will to Believe." See M. Ben Ezra, " welcome each rebuff"; Fifine, 55; and Bishop Blougram, "when the fight begins within himself." Rephan is the story of a " perfect " world, where no effort was needed, and which proved inferior to the present world. Some of the consequences of growth in the case of the soul are that man's perfection cannot be a state of absolute knowledge and goodness, which in us would mean stagnation (see A Death in the Desert], and that the range of man's desires is a sign of his greatness, of 250 ROBERT BROWNING. what he may become (R. Ben Ezra, vii. ; Saul, xviii., &c.) The object of the growth is to learn the power and reality of Love (.4 Death in the Desert). Brown- ing's view of the highest Love is the same as in 1 John ch. iv. There are Degrees of Worth in Love, for Love is the feeling that any creature has for what it takes to be its good. Signs that Love is Power are its necessity for any fruitful work among men (hence Paracelsus failed) and its "faint beginnings" in Nature. .The Power which has produced the world has produced us and the standard by which we condemn the world ; if that Power is the source of the evil in the world it is also the source of the human Love which spends itself in overcoming the evil (see Saul, and R. Ben Ezra, "re- joice we are allied"). Browning's view of the problem of evil is important. Evil is " stuff for transmuting " ; it exists to be trans- formed by the victorious progress of good. The living Love which is divine, the Love which must be ever bear- ing, believing, hoping, enduring, rejoicing not in iniquity but rejoicing in the truth, could never come to be but for the sufferings, sins, mistakes, and conflicts of life ; which it still overcomes and in some measure turns to good. THE proposition with which we began was, that religion is the interpretation of an ex- perience. We now see that this may be expanded as follows. The intellectual inter- pretation gives religious doctrine or theory. The experience is the basal element in re- ligion. This experience is not merely a part of the finite individual ; it involves ROBERT BROWNING. 251 an inflowing of the Divine Life ; and it concentrates itself or comes to a head in our consciousness of the authoritative Ideals, -Truth, Beauty, goodness, which disturb us with a moving claim to be realised and embodied in the work of life. In our con- sciousness of these as our Ideals, and yet as real far beyond what we are, there lies the germ of an immediate consciousness of God as their Source and Sustainer. The interpretation, doctrine, theory, or explanation, may indicate the meaning of the experience with a greater or less degree of Truth ; upon this its value depends, and in the end it must always be tested by the experience. But the experience itself may vary in depth and power and meaning ; how then is the experience itself to be tested ? Are we to be content to take it simply for what it is, as if to say, " Thus and thus are the limits of my experience, my range of fact, and to anything beyond this I will pay no attention " ? Evidently such an attitude is quite irrational. The experience of a man depends partly upon what lie is. His own interpretation of it 252 ROBERT BROWNING. tends to become established as a real belief and part of himself, and thus reacts on the experience which it interprets. And his activity is not all taken up in thinking, the production of ideas, the interpreting function of thought ; its central power lies in what Schopenhauer called Will ; and by Will that is, by energy of spirit more than by anything else, human ex perience is moulded and made. Thus, when we consider the two facts on which Belief depends Experience and its Interpretation we cannot wonder at the resulting variety and conflict. We hear of the " duty to doubt " ; but there are different kinds of doubt ; and to relapse into the passive or negative attitude of unproductive doubt is so far from being a " duty," that we might almost call it a disease ; it is to turn clean away from the possibility of knowing anything of the grounds of Belief. We shall find good reasons for thinking that Belief can never be given to a man merely from without, whether by argument or any other means ; and to " doubt " in this fashion is equivalent ROBERT BROWNING. 253 to a passive waiting for Belief to come. It would be just as unreasonable if the scientific investigator were to wait passively for knowledge to come to him ; while in fact results of value are only possible when a prepared mind, trained by previous ex- perience, thought, and research, comes to Nature full of guesses and theories to be tested, not by mere observation, but by care- fully devised experiments. This was what Tyndall meant by saying that " with ac- curate experiment and observation to work upon, imagination becomes the architect of physical science." l In scientific research it may be truly said that we make the experience which we interpret. And in practical volition, in an even more real and intimate sense, we make our experience. As regards the social welfare of our race, and the possibilities of spiritual personality, we must will right, before the truth can be known, there must be a will in order to believe ; and then there is positive material 1 Tyndall, Fragments of Science, Essay on " The Scientific use of the Imagination." Cf. Life and Letters of Charles Danrin, vol. i. p. 126. 254 ROBERT BROWNING for our thought to interpret. We may or may not interpret the material adequately ; but the foundation and possibility of the interpretation are there. In leading up to this statement of the problem of Belief, I have led up to the great lesson of Browning's poetry, which so many of his interpreters have failed to bring out. Belief arises from an experience together with its intellectual interpretation ; hence the worth of the belief depends on the range and depth of the experience as well as on the thoroughness of the interpre- tation. Browning's main thought is, the value of work that is, effort and energy of spirit in deepening experience and so affording new data for knowledge. His appeal is to the completest possible human experience tested and interpreted by Work, active productive energy of spirit is the way to the meaning of things. Many of the peculiarities attaching to his statement of this view arise from the limitation of Reason which he emphatically asserts ; but the fundamental truth of the view in question is not bound up with the truth or error of his view of Reason, In ROBERT BROWNING. 255 his later and more reflective poems, such as La Saisiaz and Ferishtatis Fancies, he seems to have settled into a scepticism with regard to the power of our intelligence almost as complete as that of Hume. It is of course impossible to maintain the ex- treme sceptical position, and Browning con- tradicts it every time he utters a thought. But it is possible to maintain that Reasoning can produce no new truth from itself, that it is only critical and cannot be constructive, that by Reasoning there is no road to fresh positive truth in things human or divine ; and by this position Browning con- sistently abides. His opinion of Reason resembles that which William Law laid down in his Way to Divine Knowledge: Reason has only its one, work or power, which it can- not alter or exceed ; and that one work is, to he a bare observer and comparer of things that manifest themselves by the senses. When, therefore, Eeason takes upon it to determine things not manifested to it by the senses, as to judge about a divine JS"ew Birth, a divine Faith, or how the soul wants or does not want God, it is then as much out of its place or office as the eye that takes upon it to smell. Browning, however, believed that Reason could also observe and interpret the facts presented to it by man's moral and spiritual 256 ROBERT BROWNING. nature ; and he believed this too thoroughly even to speak of it. He is riot aware that he is really appealing to the rational inter- pretation of experience in the ethical and religious sphere. Approaching the question from this point of view, and granting that what Browning calls Reason is incompetent by its own powers to reach the real meaning of life, the next question is : By what means, then, can we reach it ? And the answer can only be : By the help of the other sides of our complex nature, by such facts as come to us in the way of direct experience, by in- tuitions and perceptions, by the creative imagination, by the nobler and deeper emotions ; but, by these when they are submitted to the test of action. In a word, Browning's appeal is to the completest pos- sible human experience, deepened by work and interpreted by thought. His object is to meet the need to which we have referred elsewhere, the demand of this age : " Show us the Father in human life." l He goes forth to see all human life, 1 Cf. John xiv. 8. ROBERT BROWNING. 257 from its brightest and noblest to its dark- est and meanest side ; he examines the possible greatness and the possible vileness of man ; and from this universal survey he conies back with a great conviction of hope : All that is, at all, Lasts ever, past recall ; Earth changes, but thy soul and God stand sure. 1 The evil in the world in the end only ministers to the growth of good : This world's no blot for us Nor blank ; it means intensely and means good ; To find its meaning is my meat and drink. Thus, one of his characters, David, says : I have gone the whole round of creation ; I saw and I spoke ; I, a work of God's hand for that purpose, received in my brain And pronounced on the rest of his handwork, returned him again His creation's approval or censure ; I spoke as I saw ; I report as a man may of God's work, all's love yet all's law. Others have taken the same survey of all human life and work, and have brought back 1 Rabbi Ben Ezra, xxvii. R 258 ROBERT BROWNING. a very different verdict. Shakespeare did so ; and his last word was this : These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits, and Are melted into air, into thin air : And like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep. The philosophical and poetical expressions of this thought or mood, rather have been many and various in every age. To fall into this mood is no peculiarity of over-reflective minds. The so-called "practical" man, or the "man of the world," has sometimes a momentary pause in his blind rush after he knows not what, when there comes over him a great longing for a peace and rest which would annihilate the struggle for existence. There is no one who does not sometimes feel the strange attractiveness of that idea of the Divine Life which makes it to be absolute quietness, perfect inaction : no one who does not sometimes feel that a ROBERT BROWNING. 259 state of utter stillness would be the most blessed life of all. Shelley felt this when in the Adonais he wrote : The one remains, the many change and pass ; Heaven's light for ever shines, earth's shadows fly ; Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of eternity, Until Death tramples it to fragments. Die, If thou wouldst be with that which thou dost seek ! Follow where all is fled ! Elizabeth Browning came near to expressing the same thought, in a few fine stanzas 1 which I proceed to quote : What would we give to our beloved ? The hero's heart, to be unmoved, The poet's star-tuned harp, to sweep, The patriot's voice, to teach and rouse, The monarch's crown, to light the brows ? He giveth His beloved sleep. What do we give to our beloved ? A little faith, all undisproved ; A little dust, to overweep ; And bitter memories, to make The whole earth blasted for our sake. He giveth His beloved sleep. " Sleep soft, beloved," we sometimes say, But have no tune to charm away 1 From a poem on the words " He giveth His beloved sleep" (Psalm cxxvii. 2). 260 ROBERT BROWNING. Sad dreams, that through the eyelids creep ; But never mournful dream again Shall break the peaceful slumber, when He giveth His beloved sleep. earth, so full of dreary noises ! men, with wailing in your voices ! delved gold, the wailers heap ! strife, curse that o'er it fall ! God strikes a silence through you all, And giveth His beloved sleep. Cardinal Newman, too, felt the weariness which comes from the constant strife in- volved in the never-ending torrent of ex- istence ; and, in his Apologia, he gives voice to it thus : To consider the world in its length and breadth, its various history, the many races of men, their starts, their fortunes, their mutual alienation, their conflicts; and then their ways, habits, governments, forms of worship, their enterprises, their aimless courses, their random achievements and acquirements ; the impotent con- clusion of long-standing facts, the tokens so faint and broken of a superintending design, the blind evolution of what turn out to be great powers or truths, the progress of things as if from unreasoning elements and not towards final causes ; the greatness and littleness of man, his far-reaching aims, his short duration, the curtain hung over his futurity ; the disappointments of life, the defeat of good, the success of evil, physical pain, mental anguish ; the prevalence and intensity of sin, the per- vading idolatries, corruptions, the dreary hopeless irre- ROBERT BROWNING. 261 ligion, that condition of the whole race, so fearfully yet exactly described in the Apostle's words, " having no hope, and without God in the world," all this is a vision to dizzy and appal, and inflicts on the mind the sense of a profound mystery which is absolutely beyond human solution. Thoughts like these have driven many to take refuge in the belief that such a life is only "vanity and a striving after wind"; and that the most blessed life is one where everything which makes our life here has ceased to be. Buddhism in ancient times, and the pessimism of Schopenhauer in our own day, have drawn the last conclusion from this feeling that " we are such stuff as dreams are made on." It is impossible not to feel the pathetic beauty and power of the thoughts which we have heard our witnesses utter ; it is im- possible not to recognise their force. But to speak of happiness, peace, freedom, as realised in a state of still stagnation that cannot be distinguished from absolute nothing- ness, is to empty these words of all their meaning. Now this was Robert Browning's deep conviction. His mood is always the opposite 262 ROBERT BROWNING. of the one which we have been describing. Life for him is no dream ; it is intensely real. This conviction even marked his per- sonal characteristics : he was fond of life on all its sides its lighter aspects, fashion, amusement, things outwardly attractive, not fond only of the deeper aspects which he well knew. Here he represents the tendencies of the present time, which are to make life no dream. Another characteristic, specially marking his thought, also makes him a re- presentative of the Present. He is over- whelmed by a flood of ideas suggestions, speculations, possibilities -- concerning the deep problems of human life and destiny. The problems brood over Browning, rather than he over them. This accounts for many of the peculiarities of his poetical work. His interest in such problems is so intense that he often forces metrical forms to ex- press thoughts for which they are not suited ; and this results in a style very often crabbed and harsh, sometimes con- fused, sometimes utterly unintelligible. There are many passages in his writing which show what a lyric poet he might ROBERT BROWNING. 263 have been. It has been said with some truth that many of his longer pieces should have been written in prose, when the ar- gumentation, of which they are full, would not have been trammelled by any necessities of poetic form. Our purpose here, however, will not allow us to speak further of Brown- ing's personality or of his artistic work. What is the central problem which in Browning's view is to be solved by the interpretation of experience through Work ? It is this. There is a jGrreat Power behind the varying phenomena of Nature a Power which acts according to Law ; and the Laws form one harmonious system. This is evi- dent, however brief a " surview of things " we take. Many emphatic expressions of it might be selected ; the following, from the Reverie, is fairly typical : Thus much is clear, Doubt annulled thus much : I know. All is effect of cause ; As it would has willed and done Power ; and my mind's applause Goes, passing laws each one, To Omnipotence, Lord of laws. But what kind of omnipotence is it ? Is 264 ROBERT BROWNING. it the embodiment and realisation of our highest needs and highest good ; or is it the unknowable, of which 110 qualities cog- nisable by the human mind can be predi- cated ? This is the question which touches the very core of our modern doubt. 1 Browning expresses it as the relation of Power to Love. These are the two factors of which we found Spencer laying exclusive stress on one, and Comte on the other ; in Professor Huxley's language, they are the "cosmic process" and the "ethical process." Power is all about us, besetting us behind and before ; we come from it, we are in its grasp, and it is more and mightier than we. Love belongs to us, and inspires all that is best in Humanity ; yet Power seems on the surface to disregard it utterly. In spite of this mysterious opposition, Browning has an enthusiastic faith that at bottom Power and Love are one. This faith he is always trying to verify by all the countless different aspects of human experience ; he is always trying to " show us the Father," the mighty spirit of good working through all things. 1 See William Watson's Rope of the World. ROBERT BROWNING. 265 It is a restless faith. Here again he partly represents the Present ; for even the most genuine faith to-day is very restless, al- ways trying to verify itself, and seeking better intellectual expression. Browning's last word on the problem is this : From the first, Power was, I knew. Life has made clear to me That, strive but for closer view, Love were as plain to see. 1 Work is of supreme importance for Brown- ing because it is the only means of finding what life or experience is, the only way of solving the great problem which we have stated. Work is for life what tillage is for the earth ; for without it life is barren of goodness and of truth. Work, with Browning, means work out; he urges this as the great test, because the laws of life are such that what is simply bad cannot be worked out. He claims to have proved this by his dramatic pictures of human experience, and to have shown that by working things out we arrive at the truth and goodness in them. 1 Reverie (Asolando). Cf. The Pope, 1362-1383. 266 ROBERT BROWNING. We first see that errors may be tested thus. This intellectual aspect of the quest- ion is not developed by Browning. But it is in this sphere that the operation of the law is most clearly seen, the law that evil cannot be worked out without destroy- ing itself. Evil in the realm of intelligence is simply error ; hence the law is that error cannot be worked out consistently. If a thorough attempt is made to think it out in all its implications, the error betrays itself by becoming incoherent and self- contra- dictory. Like a building whose axis is inclined to the plane of its foundation, it can be built up to a certain stage, but if persisted in, it falls in ruins. This result is possible because propositions or pieces of knowledge are not like blocks which can never grow, and which can be set side by side without having any effect on one another. Any piece of knowledge, when thought about, comes to be developed so that its bearings are seen ; and indeed it may then be seen to have an effect on every other piece of knowledge which we possess ; while at the same time its true nature be- ROBERT BROWNING. 267 comes apparent, as in the case of a growing plant. Error, when thus thought out, be- trays itself at length. To go through this strenuous " thinking out " requires an in- telligence of more than ordinary power. As a rule we are so far from doing it, that each one's various opinions, if developed, would end in an intellectual chaos. The law shows that neither the human mind nor the world is made so as to allow men to rest in error with lasting success ; error, persisted in, at length will not work. Experience shows how men have thus " wrung knowledge from ignor- ance" (Repliaii). We see in the next place that a corre- sponding law holds in the ethical sphere. Evil, persisted in, sooner or later will not work, it betrays itself as contrary to the nature of things. This is the most in- sistent thought in Browning's teaching. 1 If a man will work out his wickedness and hate to the bitter end, and so "try con- 1 The well-known passage from The Statue and the Butt may be referred to : " Let a man contend to the utter- most . . . " ; also Fifine, lv., cxxviii., cxxix. ; &c. 268 ROBERT BROWNING. elusions with the world," he will find that he is subject To the reign Of other quite as real a nature, that saw fit To have its way with man, not man his way with it. This doctrine may seem to be immoral ; and so far as the morality of a man's action depends on its consequences to others, it certainly is so. But from Browning's point of view it is not so ; for when he says " work," " work out," he is always thinking of the effect of the work on the worker himself. Hence he teaches that, when we look deeply enough, we see how strenuousness in evil is better than half- hearted wickedness, which abstains only through weakness from acting out its real nature. It is true that he who is too cowardly or too stupid to be thoroughly wicked may thereby cause less pain and suffering to others ; but his evil disposition does not become a good one by the addition of stupidity or cowardice ; and in the end his endeavour to avoid trying conclusions with the world, only makes its judgment on him the more terrible. Hesitancy, sloth, ROBERT BROWNING. 269 indolence, are things wholly pernicious. Equally objectionable is the spirit of com- promise, which hesitates to be either good or bad with decision, the spirit which " prompts while pulling back, refuses yet concedes," - - which prompted the too wise advice given by the Preacher : "Be not righteous over much, neither make thyself over wise : why shouldest thou destroy thy- self? Be not over much wicked, neither be thou foolish : why shouldest thou die before thy time ? " l Here Browning would say Thickheads might recognise The Devil, that old stager, at his trick Of " general utility," who leads Downward, perhaps, but fiddles all the way. Such appreciation of strenuousness in evil does not mean that any man is to be allowed to work out his wickedness, unchecked by the better will of others consciously striving against him ; only let the check be given with no feeble hand and heart, but with all your might. Then the conscious striv- ing against him becomes part of the great 1 Ecclesiastes vii. 16, 17 ; cf. Revelation iii. 15. 270 ROBERT BROWNING. conspiracy of the world to transform evil into good, the reality of which he has to learn. Vigour and intensity in evil makes experience teach him who thus preys upon his kind, that the world has another destiny than to be the instrument of such deeds. Even more than this may be effected by such experiences. They may even kindle in the soul of the wrong- doer some gleams of good, of that Good Which in the absolutest drench of dark Ne'er wants a witness, some stray beauty-beam, To the despair of hell. The career of Guido is Browning's greatest study in the progress of evil. This creature has been called " the subtlest and most powerful compound of vice in our literature;" he is put among companions congenial to his nature, mother, mistress, brothers, himself The midmost blotch of black Discernible in the group of clustered crimes they call Their palace. The poet's genius has given us in one word an illustration of how in the vilest there still ROBERT BROWNING. 271 remains the possibility of reverence for truth and reality, how man may be "by hate taught love." The one word is Guido's last O word, when cruelty, lies, deception of self and others, avail no more, and the end comes in the shape of the grim reality of being led away to the scaffold. Then he calls on the earthly powers who have been wellnigh his accomplices, and upon the sup- posed heavenly ones who have exacted his lip - service before. But even as he utters the names, familiar as the objects of his hypocritical invocation, so instinctively, in this extremity, he knows that these are but creatures of fancy ; so instinctively he knows that in human love and faithfulness and heroism, realised in man or woman, there lies more of Divine Power than in all the empty phrases of churchly convention ; he knows that these have been realised in the object of all his hate and his vile designs, and with his latest breath he calls upon her ; he turns from the phantoms to the reality at last : Abate Cardinal Christ Maria God ! Pompilia ! Will you let them murder me ? 272 ROBERT BROWNING. We have been speaking of the necessity of strenuousness even in evil : so long as we consider the moral agent alone, vigour in wrong-doing is better than weakness. It may be imagined that the thinker who has dared to teach this will have a good under- standing of the worth of strenuousness in the way that is right. The man who is full of this spirit will learn by experience that he is in touch with the heart of things, and that goodness is in harmony with what is deepest and strongest in man and the world. Let him wait God's instant men call years ; Meanwhile hold hard by truth and his great soul, Do out the duty ! Through such souls alone God stooping shows sufficient of his light For us in the dark to rise by. 1 There are few more beautiful passages in English literature than some of those in which Browning has expressed this thought, that only when the strenuous mood comes in play and the power of the spirit begins to grow, can we find things working to- 1 Pompilia, 1841-1845. EGBERT BROWNING. 273 gether for good. Bishop Blougram says, in his own half-cynical way : When the fight begins within himself A man's worth something. God stoops o'er his head, Satan looks up beneath his feet, both tug, He's left, himself, in the middle : the soul wakes And grows. Prolong that battle through his life. 1 It is this application of Browning's general principle which invites comparison with the process which Professor James calls " willing to believe," and the comparison will throw light on Browning's meaning. Professor James says : " We have a con- ception which, being opposed by another, is only probable. But we feel that it is so good that it is Jit to be true ; it ought to be true ; it must be true. And then we say, ' it shall be true for me ; it is true.' " That this is a psychologically true account of a frequent process of experience would not, I suppose, be disputed in any quarter ; or at any rate, the only dispute would be as to the best way of expressing the facts. Pro- fessor James affirms that the process is also ethically justifiable ; we may believe certain 1 Cf. Fiftne, Iv. S 274 ROBERT BROWNING. things for the simple reason that it is good for our moral nature to believe them. 1 But as long as man is rational and rational with the Reason which is more than a cal- culating mechanism we cannot be perman- ently satisfied with this answer. If our only choice is between these two things, on the one side, indifference to the larger needs of the ethical and spiritual life, in the interest of mere intellectual accuracy ; and on the other side, indifference to the larger demands of reason, in the interest of mere ethical edification, then it is hard to tell which is the worse alternative. The question which Reason puts with regard to any belief . is this : Is it true of that mysterious Reality on which we and all things depend, which has brought us forth, which holds us in its grasp, and to which we shall return in the end ? I have already implied that cases, in Browning's pictures of life, might be adduced to show that he too rested in this " ethical subjectivism," as it may be called ; 2 but surely this is not his deeper view. Brown - 1 See Prof. W. James' brilliant Essay, The Will to Believe. 2 Of. La Saisiaz. ROBERT BROWNING. 275 ing's teaching is this : the process as de- scribed by Professor James is ethically justifiable, because, in thus "willing to be- lieve" the conception at issue, we initiate activities which have the effect of making new forms of experience ; and from these, if we are able adequately to interpret them, we may learn what degree of truth is in- volved in the conception which we believe. And Browning applies this doctrine, as we have seen, to the case of believing that what is good is true, and acting it out. Truth of belief, he teaches, dawns upon the world in consequence of " right action." In the experience which is thus made, when it is adequately interpreted, we find evidence that " all things work together for good," i.e., that the Absolute Good will realise itself, even through the conflicts and antag- onisms of human life. This conviction was Browning's ; and to illustrate it, he drama- tises these " conflicts and antagonisms," in some- of their grandest and some of their meanest forms, as modes of experience made by the energy of the human spirit. Browning's conception of " strenuousness in evil" is a case of the same kind as that 276 ROBERT BROWNING. which we have been considering, but with an opposite object. In its ultimate form the conception would be like that of Milton, in his picture of Satan summing up the en- deavour of his titanic energy henceforth : " Evil, be thou my good ! " That evil be wrought, is the concentrated purpose of his whole being at every moment of time. He who thus, when willing some evil action, believes in it, is never hypocritical, never offers any " unconscious homage to virtue." And in this spirit he finds experience show the self- destructive character of the evil which is done. This is the very point of Browning's contrast between strenuous and half-hearted wickedness ; the latter does not believe in itself, or is half afraid of itself. Though it may do less mischief, it is further away from learning the truth ; while the career of a Caesar Borgia teaches its lesson, as Kenan says, comme une aMme, comme une tempete. The mystery of moral growth i.e., the growth of what is distinctively human is that it can only be through positive con- flict that is, through Work : ROBERT BROWNING. 277 Then, welcome each rebuff That turns earth's smoothness rough, Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand, but go ! Be our joy three parts pain ! Strive and hold cheap the strain; Learn, nor account the pang ; dare, never grudge the throe. He tells us of a spirit who had tried a world where there was no rebuff, no sting or pain, no strain or throe. The Star " Rephan " was a perfect world : No want whatever should be, is now ; No growth that's change ; and change comes how To royalty born with crown on brow 1 Nothing begins so needs to end ; Where fell it short at first 1 Extend Only the same ; no change can mend. In this world the spirit lives, a world where there is neither rosebud nor faded rose, but all are full-blown roses, neither fading nor opening. Here, since perfection must needs be independent of service, there is no call for service or work or effort of any kind ; there is neither hope nor fear, neither advance nor retreat. But, some- how, this perfection irks the spirit, and it grows to long for a difference in thing and thing 278 ROBERT BROWNING. That should shock ray sense With a want of worth in them all, and thence Startle me up by an Infinite Discovered above and below. . . . A voice said, " So wouldst thou strive, not rest, Burn and not smoulder, win by worth, Not rest content with a wealth that's dearth ? Thou art past Eephan, thy place be Earth ! " Thus work, overcoming and transforming obstacles which are only " stuff for trans- muting " 1 is the great means of making our nature grow. Browning does not directly teach that only by ourselves work- ing can we find the Divine Life at work in our experience ; but it is a necessary consequence of what he does teach, for work is necessary for our growth, and whatever knowledge of the Divine Life is possible to us is a result of our growth. The mind which grows is not a mind which starts with a fixed set of faculties remaining the same, and whose progress consists in the addition of new pieces of knowledge, etc., on to it. The thing which grows is constantly becoming something new, according to inner laws of its own : 1 Fifine, Iv. ROBERT BROWNING. 279 like the earth, it " bringeth forth fruit of itself," in its proper stages, " first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear " ; l the most we can do is to help it to grow. And it is either growing or decaying. Thus any mental power, im- agination, intelligence, or some particular kind of memory or will, must be either growing through use or tending to die out. Hence it was said, "To him that hath, shall be given ; but from him that hath not, shall be taken even that which he hath." 2 The apparent contradiction arises because it is not true that we can either simply have any mental acquirement or power, or simply have it not; just as it is not true that we can either simply be something be good, for example, or simply be not good. We are either coming to have or to be it, or we are losing it ; in the one case more power will be given in the other, the dying power will soon be dead. Other very important results flow from the fact that the mind is always growing. We can never have the Absolute Truth 1 Mark iv. 26-28. 2 Cf. Mark iv. 24, 25. 280 ROBERT BROWNING. or perfect Knowledge clearly before us ; for that would mean that our intellectual growth had come to an end : Man is not God but hath God's end to serve, A master to obey, a course to take, Somewhat to cast off, somewhat to become. Grant this, then man must pass from old to new, From vain to real, from mistake to fact, From what once seemed good, to what now proves best. 1 Again, because man grows, his period of progress, and therefore of work, must be indefinitely long ; for the lower the want, the sooner satisfied : The body sprang At once to the height, and stayed : but the soul no ! Duly, daily, needs provision be For keeping the soul's progress possible, Building new barriers as the old decay, Saving us from evasion of life's proof. 2 Once more, because man grows, it is right to judge him by his best moments, even if they fail : What I aspired to be, And was not, comforts me. 3 1 A Death in the Desert. 2 Ibid. 3 Rabbi Ben Ezra, vii. ROBERT BROWNING. 281 Man is exalted rather by what he Would do than by what he Does. 1 This thought occurs in many passages in Paracelsus, Fifine, and others among the longer poems ; and in Christina, By the Fireside, Dis Aliter Visum, and many more among the shorter ones. It is no paradox, because what man Would Do is a sign of what he may Become or grow to Be. If we ask, what is the object of the growth, the aim of all living, the answers are of this kind : Life, with all it yields of joy and woe, And hope and fear, believe the aged friend, Is just our chance of the prize of learning love, How Love might be, hath been indeed, and is. 2 What, then, is Browning's conception of Love ? Love is the vital principle, the source or origin, of all the highest human goodness ; again, Love is one with the Power which wields the world, and makes that power Divine, so that it may be called by the traditional name of God. Love is thus the principle of union between man and God ; in growing in Love, we grow 1 Cf. Saul, xviii. 2 A Death in tJie Desert. 282 ROBERT BROWNING. into closer union with God ; but man's Love is God's Love too. Browning's teaching is distinctly that of the Johannine writings in the New Testament : " God is Love ; and he that dwelleth in Love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." l The word Love is often used very vaguely ; and any general definition of it is hard to find. But by Browning, as Professor Royce has observed, the word is used, in his reflective passages, " in a very pregnant and at the same time a very inclusive sense, almost, one might say, as a technical term." It " includes the tenderer affections, but is in no wise limited to them ; it means the affection which any being has towards what that being takes to be his highest good." This observation seems very just ; and it provides for Browning's illustrations of the various kinds and degrees of Love, as well as for his insistence on the need of strenuous activity for human growth. For the creature will endeavour to realise, by effort, what it takes to be its. own good ; and this realisation will mean the expan- 1 See especially 1 John iv. 12, 16, 18, 20. ROBERT BROWNING. 283 sion of its own nature, putting forth new powers and assimilating new experiences. The worth of Love depends on how far the good, which it strives for, includes or ex- cludes the good of others. Browning fre- quently limits Love to affection for the higher kinds of good, " true good," as we say. The lower kinds of good are then Love's " faint beginnings," springing partly from imperfect ideas of what good is. The story of Paracelsus is Browning's grandest illustration of how needful Love is for any fruitful human work. Paracelsus failed, be- cause in his passionate pursuit of knowledge he grew indifferent to the real needs of men. He thought only of the power which know- ledge gave him ; he would help men only as it were from an eminence, doling down to them fragments of his own great ideas : " In my own heart love had not been made wise To trace love's faint beginnings in mankind." Browning's faith that God the universal Power is Love is a summary conclusion from his experience and observation of life. This faith he tried to illustrate, rather than 284 ROBERT BROWNING. to defend by argument ; for in the end our understanding of it and belief in it depends just on the extent of our experience. He illustrates his conviction that Love is Power in several definite directions : by showing the necessity of Love for the accomplishment of any real good among men ; by dwelling on its sublimity in man, even to the extent of saying A loving worm, within its clod, Were diviner than a loveless God Amid his worlds. He illustrates it by showing the faint be- ginnings of Love in the natural world, among the animals, and by dwelling on the beauty and sublimity of Nature ; l again, by show- ing how the process of natural evolution finds its consummation in man, while " in completed man begins anew a tendency to God." In a more directly argumentative mood, Browning occasionally faces the pro- blem of the evil in the world, which we 1 This is much more in the background in Browning than in other modern poets, because of his supreme interest in human nature; but see the noble nature-pieces in Paracelsus and Pauline. ROBERT BROWNING. 285 condemn when judged by the standard of human love and goodness ; and in effect he says : " The Power which has produced the world has also produced us and the standard by which we condemn the world ; if that Power is the source of the evil in the world it is also the source of the human love which spends itself in overcoming the evil." In Saul an impressive form is given to this argument : Do I find Love so full in my nature, God's ultimate gift, That I doubt His own love can compete with it ? Here, the parts shift 1 ? Here, the creature surpass the Creator, the end, what Began ? Would I fain in my impotent yearning do all for this man, And dare doubt He alone shall not help him, who yet alone can? Would I suffer for him that I love ? so wouldst Thou so wilt Thou ! So shall crown Thee the topmost, ineffablest, uttermost crown, And Thy Love fill infinitude wholly ! " He who did most, must bear most ; " and we, who share in that doing, must share in the bearing. We must share in the eternal sacrifice and pain of creation, we must 286 ROBERT BROWNING. share in its eternal labouring and giving, else we shall be excluded likewise from its eternal joy : Rejoice we are allied To That which doth provide And not partake, effect and not receive ! A spark disturbs our clod ; Nearer we hold of God Who gives, than of His tribes that take, I must believe. This reminds us of what James Hinton finely said : Herein lies the mystery of pain ; that in association with love it ceases to be an evil. The pains of martyrs or the losses of self-sacrificing devotion are never classed among the evil things of the world. They are its bright places rather, the culminating points at which humanity has displayed its true glory and reached its perfect level. An irrepressible pride and gladness are the feelings they elicit: a pride which no regret can drown, a gladness which no indignation can overpower. . . . Doubtless we are right to loathe and repudiate pain and count its endurance an evil ; . . . but the question is, what is the happiness for which human nature is fitted, to which it should aspire ? . . . Should pain be merely absent, or swallowed up in Love and turned to joy 1 l This brings us to Browning's most original and profound thought in the everlasting problem of reconciling Power and Love. 1 Mystery of Pain, pp. 12-38. ROBERT BROWNING. 287 The growth of goodness is positively im- possible without conflict with evil. Evil is "stuff for transmuting"; it exists in order that goodness may grow in strength by the exercise of overcoming and trans- forming the evil. This is the idea which Comte hinted at, that the Good is a power which can realise itself only through actual conflicts and oppositions among partial and imperfect goods. To justify this view, Browning analyses the manifold forms of evil, even the very worst, searching them through and through to find their meaning and whither they tend to go ; and he con- cludes that there is no failure or misery or corruption which does not have right in it a germ of goodness. Hence he can say, in La Saisiaz : I see the good of evil, why our world began at worst : Since time means amelioration, tardily enough displayed, Yet a mainly onward moving, never wholly retrograde. We know more though we know little, we grow stronger, though still weak ; Partly see though all too purblind, stammer though we cannot speak. And of human progress in general, Para- celsus says : 288 ROBERT BROWNING. All with a touch of nobleness, despite Their error, upward tending all though weak ; Like plants in mines which never saw the sun, But dream of him, and guess where he may be, And do their best to climb and get to him. Hence the victory of goodness comes through its work in transforming evil, not anni- hilating it, but rearranging the material and turning it to good purposes, " unmaking to remake." The same law holds of good- ness as of truth : truth is a transforming power which can be realised only through the conflict of partial truths : so it is with goodness. This is why it is possible for life to " succeed, in that it seems to fail." l Man, who is liable to err, thereby proves himself higher than the star-fish ; it is whole in body and soul, but What's whole can increase no more, Is dwarfed and dies, since here's its sphere. Abt Vogler asks, What is our failure here but a triumph's evidence For the fulness of the days'? Have we withered or agonised 1 1 Rabbi Ben ROBERT BROWNING. 289 Why else was the pause prolonged but that singing might issue thence ? Why rushed the discords in but that harmony should be prized 1 Rabbi Ben Ezra turns with contempt from the " finished and finite clods, untroubled by a spark," who have nothing further to attain to. For himself, the imperfections of his nature are comforts, warning him how much he has yet to learn and to be ; he sees It was better, youth Should strive, through acts uncouth, Toward making, than repose on aught found made. Iii the little poem Life in a Love, we see how living Love consists in a succession of failures, which, though failures, yet bring one nearer the beloved. In The Last Ride there is an actual pleasure in the thought of imper- fection, since it promises something more : Who knows what's fit for us ? Had Fate Proposed bliss here should sublimate My being had I signed the bond Still one must lead some life beyond, Have a bliss to die with, dim-descried. This foot once planted on the goal, This glory-garland round my soul, Could I descry such ? Try and test ! T 290 ROBERT BROWNING. I shrink back shuddering from the quest. Earth being so good, would heaven seem best ? Now heaven and she are beyond this ride. Closely related is the thought, expressed for example in Old Pictures in Florence and Andria del Sarto, that " what's conie to perfection perishes." If we try to conceive of absolute perfection, the utter completion of all our powers, we fail altogether, or else we arrive at the idea of something which as in Rephan is only too plainly inferior to the present world. Not that Perfection is inconceivable ; it is beyond us but on our own line. Thus, the living Love which is Divine, the Love which is ever bearing, believing, hoping, enduring, rejoicing not in iniquity but rejoicing in the truth the Love which not only can do this but must needs do it, could never come to be but for the sufferings, sins, mistakes, and conflicts of life : which it still overcomes and turns to good. Rising then, as we may, from the thought of what is highest in man to the thought of God, we think of the All-perfect as living no life of stagnant " omnipotence " : we think of Him SUMMARY. 291 as thinking most, loving most, doing most, and therefore as bearing most, but with a labour and sacrifice which are perpetually merged in the joy of victorious attainment, and all for the redemption of the creatures of his Love. The life of Love, the life of labour and sacrifice, the life of God, are the same : in that life it is our highest privilege to share. SUMMARY. We may now bring together and sum- marise our main results. Our object all through has been to arrive at some satisfy- ing conception of the source and meaning of belief in the Divine Being. The thinkers whom we have examined have borne witness " in divers manners " to a fundamental point of view, which gives a new and wider and deeper meaning to the old idea, that the truth of Religion is based directly on our actual experience. What is " experience " ? In ordinary 292 SUMMARY. thought and language there is a close con- nection between experience and reality ; the main feature of " experience " is that in it something real comes home to us. But the word is constantly used in some limited sense or other, in the interest of some narrow system of thought. The most unfortunate and unjustifiable of these limitations is to make it mean only the facts which our bodily senses appear to give us. Yet it is from this arbitrary limitation that Positivism derives all its prestige from appearing to have a monopoly of " experience " and of the real, solid foundation of knowledge \vhich the word suggests. Experience, far from being a fixed, finite thing, is a seed, a germ, a potency ; it may be almost infinitely magni- fied in capacity and character, in intensity and scope. Whatever enters into our living experi- ence is real ; this is true throughout the many different forms which such experience may take. Thus, in simple sense-experience, such as the perception of a sound or colour, in intelligent " observation," as of some- thing that arouses our interest, in the SUMMARY. 293 " instinctive " verdicts of conscience, and the social and sympathetic feelings, in these and all other types of experience there is the actual -presence of something real, something that we "get at" directly. The kinds and degrees of experience are infinite, for they comprise all the infinite variety of realised objects of human thought and action. Hence the type of experience which a man will have, depends first of all on the direction which his own activities take on his " work," in Browning's sense of the word ; but it de- pends also on the intensity with which he puts forth the native energies of his spirit into those activities. By this effort and energy his very personality will grow in power as his experience grows in depth of meaning. This is Browning's great con- tribution to the problem. Again, whatever an experience may be, before it can teach us any lesson it must be thought about ; and as human intelligence has in itself infinite varieties of maturity and power, this adds a new set of variations to experience. These things are true of whole ages and races of men as well as of individuals ; and the his- 294 SUMMARY. torical forms of belief depend on these two " variables" degrees of intensity and scope in experience, and degrees of truth in its interpretation. Amid all this boundless complexity and manifoldness of experience, where can the Idea of the Divine Being have its source ? In all kinds of experience, something real comes home to us ; in what kind of experi- ence does the " something real " appear as the very presence of the Divine ? Speaking, at the close of his Gifford Lectures, of a possible experience of the heavenly life, the late Principal Caird said : " Even here, in this earthly life of ours, there are moments, few and far between, when the infinitude of the spiritual nature reveals itself, when the gross vesture of carnality seems to fall away, and a latent splendour of spiritual nobleness, nothing less than divine, to be disclosed. When thought comes with a rush of inspira- tion on the mind of the man of genius, when in the experience of very holy and saintly men infinite hopes and aspirations flow in upon the soul, raising it above the littleness and narrowness of life, quelling every ignoble SUMMARY. 295 thought, silencing every baser passion ; or when the call for some great act of self- sacrifice has arisen, and the sense of duty triumphs over all lower impulses, and the deed of heroism and self-devotion is done, in these and like experiences there are pre- monitions of a larger, diviner life within this nature of ours." Yet when viewed in the light of our conception of experience and its interpretation even these rarest and highest spiritual experiences of the best and noblest of men are seen to be only a specially intense form of an experience which is shared by all who endeavour to realise their ideals. Human ideals, embodied in the work of life, become symbols of the Divine Being. Whether it is truth that is sought, or beauty, or righteous- ness, or human love, if we seek to possess and be possessed by any of these things, we shall find in them traces and motions of a strength that is not of our making and yet becomes ours as we work. Or if we think that ire have no experience which can be thus interpreted, none, even in our moments of sincerest work, none, even when we have lost all thought of self in " doing out the 296 SUMMARY. duty " and living out the love that is claimed from us, then it remains for us to accept as true the insight of others who, working out the same ideals, find in them "gleams of the Everlasting Real," even a strength rooted in the " deep things of God." We share the same experience with them ; but for us the, light of its meaning may be closed, while for them the light begins to break forth. Let us understand, once for all, how great are the variations which an experience of the same kind or type may have for different beings, and how many are the motives leading to divergent interpretations of what is experi- enced : and then we can understand that the germs of the experience of God are uni- versal. The consciousness of weakness and dependence, the restlessness that issues in " divine discontent," the unwillingness to be satisfied with any merely temporary good, these are some of the first beginnings of what in its intenser, clearer form becomes a recognition of God in the ideals of man. If this is the Source of belief in the Divine Being, we know what we mean when we speak of God ; the Eternal Perfection, the SUMMARY. 297 Absolute Goodness, Truth, and Beauty, whose Light " guides the nations, groping on their way, Stumbling and falling in disastrous night, Yet hoping ever for the Perfect Day." In this Perfect Life, all that our strug- gling Ideals point to is for ever realised ; and every Ideal of ours partial, fragment- ary, and imperfect though it be is a direct revelation of some aspect of the Absolute Perfection, in whom all Ideals are consum- mated. Thus do all the paths of human goodness begin and end in God, although men may not always see this, and may not always know Who goes with them and guides their footsteps when with earnest effort they keep to the upward path. The only possible "proof" that the ap- peals, which Truth and Love make to us, are literally Divine, is found in living up to them as far as we are able. This is the final meaning of Browning's message to the age. If Duty, for instance, is Divine, there can be no way of "proving" it but through an experience which can be attained only by living the life of Duty. Doubt is indeed 298 SUMMARY. possible : but that is true of all such doubts, which we were told long ago : they can be " ended by action alone." " Truth must be ground for every man by himself out of its husk, with such help as he can get, indeed, but not without stern labour of his own : " and the deepest truth of life the Divine meaning of life's duties and ideals can be won only in the work of life. Yet it may be won by all ; it may be hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes ; it is the truth of which the Master said, " Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." INDEX OF NAMES. When a name is the subject of a passing allusion only, the reference is marked r. PACJB Aristotle, Ethics, r . . . . 26, 29 , on the Middle Way . . . .35 Balfour, A. J., r . . . . . .62 Bradley, F. H., r . . . . .154 Browning, E. B., r . . . . 259 Browning, Robert, his Teaching . 250 ff., 293, 297 , on Indifferentism .... 7 , on Thought and Language ... 9 Butler, J., r . . . . 87, 128 Caird, E., on Comte . . . . .210 Caird, J., on Agnosticism .... 245 , on Inspiration . . . . 294 Carlyle, on Deism . . . 43, 44, 126 Chalmers, Thomas, r . . . .111 Clifford, W. K, r . . . . . 190 Coleridge, on Inspiration of the Bible . . .64 , r . . . . .44, 126, 157 Comte, his Positivism ..... 200 ff. , r 45, 264 Diderot, r ..... 207 300 INDEX OF NAMES. Eliot, George, on Positivism . . . .216 Emerson, r . . . . .41 Fiske, J., on Evolution .... 123, 124 Flint, R.,r Ill Fraser, A. C., r . . . . . .128 Fripp, E. I., on Dogma in Eeligion . . .53 Froude, J. A., on Practical Certainty . . 92, 100 , on Influence of early Christian Morality . 104 Hamilton, Sir W., r . . . .231 Hinton, J., Mystery of Pain . . . .286 d'Holbach, r 207 Howison, G. H. _. . . . . 128 Hume, Scepticism, r ". . . .97, 98, 198 ff. Huxley, on Nature and Morality . 211 ff., 241, 264 , on Insoluble Problems .... 241 Inge, W. E., on Mysticism . . . .158 James, W., on the Will to Believe . . 273, 274 Jeffreys, E., on Providence . . . .191 Kant, r . . . . . . 129, 134 Keats, r ...... 126 Law, W., on Eeason in Eeligion . . . 255 Lewes, G. H., r . . . . . .201 Locke, r 41, 42, 111, 112, 198 Mansel, H. L., r . . . . . 231 Martineau, J., on the Argument from Cause and Design 11 1 ff. , on Evolution . . . . . 114ff. , on the Argument from Moral Obligation . 126 ff. , his Ethical Individualism . . 135 ff., 183 , on Social Unity . . . . .144 , on Union of Man and God . . 161 ff., 184 INDEX OF NAMES. 301 Martineau, J., on the Place of Reverence in Religion . 164 ff. , on Revelation . . . . . 170 ff, , Theology of his Hymn-books . . . 185 ff. , on Agnosticism .... 226, 227 , r 45, 69, 71, 81 Maurice, F. D., r . . . . .44 Mill, J. S., r 201 Milton, r . . . . . . .276 Mozley, H., r Ill Newman, F. W., r . . . . 81, 183 Newman, J. H., on Real Belief . . .14 , on Notional Assent . . . .17 , on Romanticism . . . . .43 , Reaction in the Church of England . . 47 ff. , Reverence for Antiquity . . . . 50 ff. , on Necessity of Dogma . . . . 52 ff. , Doctrine of Belief ( University Sermons) . 57 ff, 91, 92 , on Development of Doctrine . . . 62 ff. , Grammar of Assent . . . 62, 76 ff. , on Witness of Conscience to God . 81, 107, 132 , on Revelation . . . . .173 , Outlook on Life ..... 260 , and Spencer ..... 236 Paley, r . . . . . 41, 42, 111, 112 Pfleiderer, O., on Truth in History . 33 , r 62 Plato, Ethics, r . . . . . 26, 29, 31 Pringle-Pattison, A. S., on Evolution . . . 120 , r . . . . . . .128 Renan, E., on the Revolution . . . .19 , on Regard for Antiquity . . . .50 Reymond, Dubois, on Evolution . . .119 Robertson, F. W., on Moral Obligation . .127 Royce, J., on Browning .... 282 302 INDEX OF NAMES. Schopenhauer, r Schreiner, Olive, on Providence , r . 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