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In the opening words of a Lecture moreover, the recent work of Principal i delivered in this city four years ago, I Caird* is highly characteristic of the tenspoke of the desire and tendency of the dencies of the age. He has no words of present age to connect itself organically vituperation for the older phases of faith. with preceding ages. The expression of Throughout the ages he discerns a purthis desire is not limited to the connec- pose and a growth, wherein the earlier: tion of the material organisms of to-day and more imperfect religions constitute with those of the geologic past.
It is the natural and necessary precursors of equally manifested in the domain of the later and more perfect ones. Even mind. To this source, for example, may in the slough of ancient paganism, Prinbe traced the philosophical writings of cipal Caird detects a power ever tendMr. Herbert Spencer. To it we are in- ing toward amelioration, ever working debted for the series of learned works on toward the advent of a better state, and “ The Sources of Christianity," by M. finally emerging in the purer life of Renan. To it we owe the researches of Christianity. F Professor Max Müller in comparative These changes in religious conceptions philology and mythology and the en- and practices correspond to the changes deavor to found on these researches a science of religion.” In this relation,
* “ Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion.”
+ In Professor Max Müller's “Introduction to * Presidential Address to the Glasgow Sun the Science of Religion'some excellent passages. day Society, delivered in St. Andrew's Hall, occur, embodying the above view of the conOctober 25, 1880.
tinuity of religious development. New SERIES.-Vol. XXXIII., No 1.
wrought by augmented experience in the first question is, not how they feel, but texture and contents: of the human what they think and believe; not mind. Acquainted as we now are with whether their religion manifests itself in this immeasurable, universe, and with the emotions more or less vehement or enenergies operant therein, the guises un- thusiastic, but what are the conceptions der which the sages of old presented the of God and divine things by which these Maker and. Builder thereof seem to us emotions are called forth ?" These to belong to she utter infancy of things. conceptions" of God and divine things' To point to illustrations drawn from the were, it is admitted, once “ materialistic heathen-world would be superfluous. and figurative," and therefore objectiveWę, may mount higher, and still find ly untrue. Nor is their purer essence quitåssertion true. When, for example, yet distilled ; for the religious education Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, of the world still " advances," and is, and seventy Elders of Israel are repre- therefore, incomplete. Hence
the 'sented as climbing Mount Sinai, and essentially fuzional character of that actually seeing there the God of Israel, objective counterpart to religious emowe listen to language to which we can tion to which Principal Caird attaches attach no significance. "There is in all most importance. He, moreover, asthis," says Principal Caird, "much
Caird, “much sumes that the emotion is called forth which, even when religious feeling is by the conception. We have doubtless absorbing the latent nutriment contained action and reaction here ; but it may be in it, is perceived [by the philosophic questioned whether the conception Christian of to-day] io belong to the which is a construction of the human domain of materialistic and figurative understanding, could be at all put toconception." The children of Israel gether without materials drawn from the received without idealization the state- experience of the human heart.* ments of their great law-giver. To The changes of conception here adthem the tables of the law were true tab- verted to have not always been peacelets of stone, prepared, engraved, broken, fully brought about. The "transmutaand re-engraved, while the graving tool tion" of the old beliefs was often accomwhich inscribed the law was held un- panied by conflict and suffering. It was doubtingly to be the finger of God. To conspicuously so during the passage us such conceptions are impossible. from paganism to Christianity. In his We may by habit use the words, but we work entitled “L'Eglise Chrétienne': attach to them no definite meaning. Renan describes the sufferings of a “As the religious education of the group of Christians at Smyrna which world advances," says Principal Caird, may be taken as typical. The victims * it becomes impossible to attach any were cut up by the lash till the inner literal meaning to those representations tissues of their bodies were laid bare. of God, and his relations to mankind, They were dragged naked over pointed which ascribe to Him human senses, shells. They were torn by lions; and appetites, passions, and the actions and finally, while still alive, were committed experiences proper to man's lower and to the flames. But all these tortures finite nature.
failed to extort from them a murmur or Principal Caird, nevertheless, ascribes a cry. The fortitude of the early Christo this imaging of the Unseen a special tians gained many converts to their value and significance, regarding it as cause ; still, when the evidential value furnishing an objective counterpart to of fortitude is considered, it must not religious emotion, permanent but plastic be forgotten that almost every faith can -capable of indefinite change and purification in response to the changing Caird I was reminded more than once of the
* While reading the volume of Principal moods and aspirations of mankind. It
following passage in Renan's “Antéchrist :" s solely on this mutable element that he “ Et d'ailleurs, quel est l'homme vraiment fixes his attention in estimating the relig- religieux qui répudie complètement l'enseigne. ious character of individuals or nations. ment traditionnel à l'ombre duquel il sentit “Here,'' he says, “ the fundamental in- d'abord l'idéal, qui ne cherche pas les conciliaquiry is as to the objective character of tions, souvent iinpossibles, entre sa vieille foi
et celle à laquelle il est arrivé par le progrès their religious ideas or beliefs. The de sa pensée ?"