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experience of life, craves for a religion-never have been content to abandon the Christian religion, often without real inquiry, sometimes with a light heart. Nor would men now-by far the unkindest cut of all-leave it, after eighteen hundred years of a splendid and yet precarious history, a prey to authorities and dogmas which I dare not give rein for indignation to describe. It is, in fact, doing but simple justice to the sceptical spirit to seek for a moral as well as an intellectual basis for all its difficulties, and to discern--and, if we can, answer—that spiritual, nay that religious, scrupulousness, which gives to purely philosophical objections their vitality and persistency. ... This brings us, then, to the difficulty which I have connected with Lessing's few and suggestive hints quoted above. Like all statements of that which is a current of moral feeling rather than a principle of intellectual truth, these hints were merely germs of thoughts that time would ripen and confirm, and in the light of later experience we see plainly what they mean and whither they tend. “No fact CAN, AS SUCH, BE A PROPER FOUNDATION FOR RELIGIOUS BELIEF '--this is what men are saying, still more are thinking without saying, all around us. This, too, is what liberal theology-more remarkable for depth of feeling than for lucidity of thinking—has discerned and tried to meet too often by surrendering or minimising the facts. Let us try and put it into words.
• I assume,' we may imagine the sceptical spirit to say, 'that you regard the Christian religion as a revelation based upon the life of Jesus Christ in history, and we will agree to consider His resurrection as the corner-stone of the Christian creed. Now this particular event may be true, or it may not; it may possibly be more likely to be true than not; I am willing even to admit that it would be a good thing for us all if it could be proved to have occurred. But what I say is that any decision about it appeals in no way to our moral sense, is independent of moral considerations, does not of necessity make us better or worse, above all affords no criterion whether we are morally right or wrong. We are told that it is a matter of evidence, that we should weigh the evidence on both sides, and that, if fairly done, we shall be sure to embrace the Christian faith. Be it so. But when all this is done, what of spiritual or moral religion is there in such an operation? What is there more than a fairly honest man does every day of his life when, say as a juryman, he decides in one way, his equally conscientious neighbour in another, and neither is the worse man for it?' (Hence all the not uncommon taunts about trying the truth of the Christian religion before an Old Bailey jury.) “In a matter of this sort one man, trained under one set of influences, is nearly sure to come to one conclusion ; another, differently trained, to the opposite; while the same man may pass at a leap from the extreme of scepticism to the extreme of faith, or vice versd, without undergoing any very serious moral alteration that we can discern. Hence the test is, by the nature of the case, an unfair one --a conclusion to which we should hold
whatever might be our own personal decision. And thus we arrive at the root of the dilemma which embarrasses all attempts at deciding upon the claims of the Christian religion. To be of any positive value in the eyes of science, religion must rest upon fact. But fact can never have the moral value or significance necessary for recommending religion to the aspirations of mankind, who certainly have a right to demand of any system of religious belief that it should contribute directly, and in its essential meaning, to their improvement in morals. Hence our attitude not so much of disbelief as of indiffer
We do not think that your facts are true. We hardly take the trouble to assert that they are false, because, true or false, they do not fulfil the conditions required of that which claims to afford a moral criterion of human belief.'
That this account of the matter is the true one may be proved by this one fact. It explains the otherwise almost inexplicable mystery why modern scientific thought remains so strangely indifferent as to whether men continue to receive or not the Christian revelation-an indifference to truth that upon any other supposition would appear, in my judgment, absolutely shameless. But fortunately I have other proof as well. Since writing the above I have had sent to me by a friend a discourse on faith printed anonymously and for private circulation, but written evidently by some master hand, from which, at the risk of setting up a comparison by no means favourable to myself, I extract the following beautifully written passage:
On the one hand we are called upon to regard faith as the condition of our attaining the highest spiritual life-as that which makes the difference between the man who is as God would have him to be, and the man who is not. But, on the other hand, the object of faith is declared to be the work of Christ, consisting specially in the incarnation by which He took on Him our nature, in the death by which He purchased the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection by which He opened unto us the gate of everlasting life. Faith accordingly, as having the work of Christ for its object, is regarded as necessarily involving the belief that propositions asserting the actual occurrence of these events are true. . . .
The faith, then, which is supposed to be demanded of us as Christians, involves two elements which, to say the least, are wholly different-on the one side, a certain intellectual assent of a kind which, if the propositions assented to concerned any other events than those purporting to convey a divine revelation, we should say, could make no difference to the heart, or spirit, or character (call it what we will), which is alone of absolute value in a man; on the other side, a certain attitude or disposition which belongs distinctively to this “inner man,' and gives us our worth as moral or spiritual beings. The deepening of the conception of faith in the Lutheran theology only brings this discrepancy into clearer relief. The more strongly we insist that faith is a personal and conscious relation of the man to God, forming the principle of a new life, not perhaps observable by others, but which the man's own conscience recognises, the more awkward becomes its dependence on events believed to have happened in the past. The evidence for their haring happened may be exceedingly cogent, but at any rate the appreciation of it depends on processes of reasoning which it would be a moral paradox to deny that a man may perform correctly without being the better, or incorrectly without being the worse. . . . It is not on any estimate of evidence, correct or incorrect, that our true holiness can depend. Neither, if we believe certain documents to be genuine and authentic, can we be the better, nor, if the believe it not, the worse. There is thus an inner contradiction in that conception of faith which makes it a state of mind involving peace with God and love towards all men, and at the same time makes its object that historical work of Christ, of which our knowledge depends on evidence of uncertain origin and value.
I cannot transcribe this description of the bases of modern doubt without congratulating myself that I had succeeded in doing justice to the difficulty I am now to deal with. No doubt it would be easy to find answers of a certain sort. We might, for instance, from the standpoint of positive thought, take serious, if not fatal, objection to the alternative position which the author is compelled to adopt, or we might not unreasonably ask whether it does not savour of paradox to deny that the inner man is changed, whether for better or worse, according as we believe that, say, the Gospel of St. John is a faithful record of works and discourses, or an elaborate forgery by one of those Asiatic Gnostics whom Mr. J. S. Mill thought capable of writing it. But it is not thus that serious objections can be usefully answered. Let me then summon once more the good genius of evolution to my aid for one final grapple with an objection, to which if no better answer be made than is made, the fortunes of the Christian religion will, so far as philosophy is concerned, continue to languish in weakness and sore peril.
At the outset I desire to avail myself of the truth that all right belief is accompanied by a feeling of profound inward satisfaction. Different schools of thought would regard this feeling from very different points of view, but of its existence no one doubts. The utilitarian would call it the pleasure which recommends or even dictates our beliefs. The idealist would see in it a spiritual happiness contributed by the mind itself, and necessarily associated with truth by the Divine will. To a moralist it is the satisfaction of thinking that we have hit the mark; to the Christian it is the joy and peace in believing. I use it in any sense the reader pleases, and not even then as an integral part of the argument, but as a convenient means of stating it more concisely and yet distinctly.
The two forms common to all human thought are space and time, and in gravitation and evolution respectively we have the last and most complete generalisation that science pronounces concerning them. By the former every atom in nature is correlated with every other atom in space : thus the stone that is at this moment rolling down a gorge in the Rocky Mountains is related by an interminable series of gravitations to the wave that is beating upon the shore of the Victoria Nyanza. By the latter every atom in the world is correlated with every other atom in time; the nebulous matter of the præ-chaotic ages with the-shall I call it ?-nebulous thought now proceeding from the mind of the present writer. But, nebulous or not, I know how great an effort of the scientific imagination it requires to take VOL. X.-No. 55.
in the thought that, in space and time, by gravitation and evolution everything is correlated with everything else, and makes up a cosmic whole, a unit, an individuality, whose animating principle we may term the will of God.
But, once grasped or even dimly imagined, we begin to discern the effects of this overwhelming truth upon the question we are considering. Truth (objective) is the facts as they have occurred or are existing. Truth (subjective) is the inward personal recognition of the outward facts. And because of this infinite (in space) and eternal (in time) correlation there is a natural tendency in the real facts to produce real pleasure in the mind of the recipient. We must have a desire to discover and an inclination to believe the truth, because we are, so to speak, part of it; it has entered into us and gone to make us what we are. Knowledge, or progress, or civilisation, by whatever name we call the march of human history, is the successful attempt to readjust the self-conscious personality to the realities of the universe from which it has sprung. To be of a truthful disposition, in religious language to be of God, is to have a mind tuned to recognise the true correlation of external things with ourselves—to feel, that is, true pleasure in believing. Religion and science may both claim to perform the office of so tuning the character as to enable it to give back an accurate note when propositions are presented to it. And finally all knowledge is ultimately self-knowledge in a sense of which he never dreamt who wrote: “E cælo descendit yvôli ceavtóv.?
Before proceeding to apply this general principle to the special case before us, it may be well to give an illustration of its operation in a field of truth as far remote as possible from the religious. Why, for instance, does a 'child accept geometrical truths when they are presented to him? Why does he recognise them with a pleasurable alacrity proportionate to the strength and clearness of his understanding? It can only be because the essential elements of geometrical truth exist in him; they are forms of his intelligence; they were the conditions under which nature was constituted before he himself was evolved from it. It is simply a case of the old saying, so quaintly and unexpectedly true, that like loves like.' His pleasure in accepting the formulas that express the laws of space is analogous to his pleasure in accepting bodily nourishment. To understand their meaning is practically to learn something about oneself, and the pleasure of self-knowledge is inherent in the very nature of a self-conscious personality—that is, of a spiritual being.
Now let us see what light this throws upon the nature of faith in an historical revelation.
At the present moment two theories are striving for the mastery, and man is pronounced to be the product of one of two causes. The world, of which he forms the last result in the process of evolution, is the work either of a power which is unable or unwilling to enter into personal relations with him, or of a Creator who wills that men should regard Him as the Father of the
Lord Jesus Christ. And it is his only, his real, his specific happiness (to say nothing of duty) to know the truth about himself. Nothing can be more unfortunate than to appeal, as is so commonly done, to the necessities of human suffering, or the cravings of the heart after consolation, as a proof that the Christian view of things is the right
This may be a strong and useful argument to confirm a belief already formed, but it is no answer at all to the non-believer. Forin the light of evolution we perceive that that alone confers true happiness which is part of the facts of the case, with which the spirit of man is correlated, out of which it sprang into being. If it be true that the author or cause of the world be a being or a power that does not hold, and never has held, personal relations with man, then the sooner metaphysical theologians discover that to be the case, the better for their own happiness and the improvement of mankind. Once the true state of the case was ascertained, men would contrive to adjust their moral and social ideas so as to make the best of it. And, on the other hand, if the contrary be true, the sooner the scientific and non-believing world discovers it, the better for them and for the truths which they have most at heart. The latter alternative must be particularly insisted on. If the Christian history be true, then am I part of an evolution in which God is revealed by the most decisive personal actions as a personal Creator (not that the word 'person’ describes His essential being, but that it represents that a:pect of His being by virtue of which He enters into relations with His creature man), as the Father of Jesus Christ, as sustaining, enlightening, guiding, from eternity to eternity, the course of nature, and the direction of history. And in particular if the life of Jesus Christ be true, then do I belong to an evolution which has part of its source in His human life. For that life, more especially in its origin, then belongs to that part of God's created universe which is what I have defined as supernatural-that is, independent of natural causation, prior to any development of evolution in time, lying beyond the limits of the knowable, and yet an original source of fresh power to the world to which it was given. And I am what I am because Christ has lived—it is surely a truism to say that there would bave been no such person as I, if there had been no such person as He. We must remember that, since the dawn of self-conscious life, evolution implies the reflex action of spirit upon matter as much as of matter upon spirit ; hence it is that I, my body and history, my muscles, bones, and sinews, the very hand that traces these words-in short, that agglomerate of atoms and faculties that makes up myself— am due to causes over which the life of Christ has exercised a profound and decisive influence. And therefore to know this (upon the hypothesis of its being true) constitutes my most real and lasting pleasure; or—to put the same idea in another form-to believe this is natural to me, and morally is my duty.
my duty. Moreover, to learn to accept