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Title: Natural Law in the Spiritual World
Author: Drummond, Henry, 1851-1897
Language: English
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           NATURAL LAW

              IN THE




            NEW YORK:
          122 NASSAU ST.

 24 & 26 WOOSTER ST., N. Y.

Transcriber's Note:

    Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. Greek
    text appears as originally printed, except for two significant
    errors as noted at the end of the text.


 PREFACE,                               5
 INTRODUCTION,                         21
 BIOGENESIS,                           59
 DEGENERATION,                         83
 GROWTH,                               99
 DEATH,                               111
 MORTIFICATION,                       133
 ETERNAL LIFE,                        149
 ENVIRONMENT,                         181
 CONFORMITY TO TYPE,                  203
 SEMI-PARASITISM,                     223
 PARASITISM,                          237
 CLASSIFICATION,                      255


No class of works is received with more suspicion, I had almost said
derision, than those which deal with Science and Religion. Science is
tired of reconciliations between two things which never should have been
contrasted; Religion is offended by the patronage of an ally which it
professes not to need; and the critics have rightly discovered that, in
most cases where Science is either pitted against Religion or fused with
it, there is some fatal misconception to begin with as to the scope and
province of either. But although no initial protest, probably, will save
this work from the unhappy reputation of its class, the thoughtful mind
will perceive that the fact of its subject-matter being Law--a property
peculiar neither to Science nor to Religion--at once places it on a
somewhat different footing.

The real problem I have set myself may be stated in a sentence. Is there
not reason to believe that many of the Laws of the Spiritual World,
hitherto regarded as occupying an entirely separate province, are simply
the Laws of the Natural World? Can we identify the Natural Laws, or any
one of them, in the Spiritual sphere? That vague lines everywhere run
through the Spiritual World is already beginning to be recognized. Is it
possible to link them with those great lines running through the visible
universe which we call the Natural Laws, or are they fundamentally
distinct? In a word, Is the Supernatural natural or unnatural?

I may, perhaps, be allowed to answer these questions in the form in
which they have answered themselves to myself. And I must apologize at
the outset for personal references which, but for the clearness they may
lend to the statement, I would surely avoid.

It has been my privilege for some years to address regularly two very
different audiences on two very different themes. On week days I have
lectured to a class of students on the Natural Sciences, and on Sundays
to an audience consisting for the most part of working men on subjects
of a moral and religious character. I cannot say that this collocation
ever appeared as a difficulty to myself, but to certain of my friends it
was more than a problem. It was solved to me, however, at first, by what
then seemed the necessities of the case--I must keep the two departments
entirely by themselves. They lay at opposite poles of thought; and for a
time I succeeded in keeping the Science and the Religion shut off from
one another in two separate compartments of my mind. But gradually the
wall of partition showed symptoms of giving way. The two fountains of
knowledge also slowly began to overflow, and finally their waters met
and mingled. The great change was in the compartment which held the
Religion. It was not that the well there was dried; still less that the
fermenting waters were washed away by the flood of Science. The actual
contents remained the same. But the crystals of former doctrine were
dissolved; and as they precipitated themselves once more in definite
forms, I observed that the Crystalline System was changed. New channels
also for outward expression opened, and some of the old closed up; and I
found the truth running out to my audience on the Sundays by the
week-day outlets. In other words, the subject-matter Religion had taken
on the method of expression of Science, and I discovered myself
enunciating Spiritual Law in the exact terms of Biology and Physics.

Now this was not simply a scientific coloring given to Religion, the
mere freshening of the theological air with natural facts and
illustrations. It was an entire re-casting of truth. And when I came
seriously to consider what it involved, I saw, or seemed to see, that it
meant essentially the introduction of Natural Law into the Spiritual
World. It was not, I repeat, that new and detailed analogies of
_Phenomena_ rose into view--although material for Parable lies unnoticed
and unused on the field of recent Science in inexhaustible profusion.
But Law has a still grander function to discharge toward Religion than
Parable. There is a deeper unity between the two Kingdoms than the
analogy of their Phenomena--a unity which the poet's vision, more quick
than the theologian's, has already dimly seen:--

    "And verily many thinkers of this age,
    Aye, many Christian teachers, half in heaven,
    Are wrong in just my sense, who understood
    Our natural world too insularly, as if
    No spiritual counterpart completed it,
    Consummating its meaning, rounding all
    To justice and perfection, _line by line,
    Form by form, nothing single nor alone_,
    The great below clenched by the great above."[1]

The function of Parable in religion is to exhibit "form by form." Law
undertakes the profounder task of comparing "line by line." Thus Natural
Phenomena serve mainly an illustrative function in Religion. Natural
Law, on the other hand, could it be traced in the Spiritual World, would
have an important scientific value--it would offer Religion a new
credential. The effect of the introduction of Law among the scattered
Phenomena of Nature has simply been to make Science, to transform
knowledge into eternal truth. The same crystallizing touch is needed in
Religion. Can it be said that the Phenomena of the Spiritual World are
other than scattered? Can we shut our eyes to the fact that the
religious opinions of mankind are in a state of flux? And when we regard
the uncertainty of current beliefs, the war of creeds, the havoc of
inevitable as well as of idle doubt, the reluctant abandonment of early
faith by those who would cherish it longer if they could, is it not
plain that the one thing thinking men are waiting for is the
introduction of Law among the Phenomena of the Spiritual World? When
that comes we shall offer to such men a truly scientific theology. And
the Reign of Law will transform the whole Spiritual World as it has
already transformed the Natural World.

I confess that even when in the first dim vision, the organizing hand of
Law moved among the unordered truths of my Spiritual World, poor and
scantily-furnished as it was, there seemed to come over it the beauty of
a transfiguration. The change was as great as from the old chaotic world
of Pythagoras to the symmetrical and harmonious universe of Newton. My
Spiritual World before was a chaos of facts; my Theology, a Pythagorean
system trying to make the best of Phenomena apart from the idea of Law.
I make no charge against Theology in general. I speak of my own. And I
say that I saw it to be in many essential respects centuries behind
every department of Science I knew. It was the one region still
unpossessed by Law. I saw then why men of Science distrust Theology; why
those who have learned to look upon Law as Authority grow cold to it--it
was the Great Exception.

I have alluded to the genesis of the idea in my own mind partly for
another reason--to show its naturalness. Certainly I never premeditated
anything to myself so objectionable and so unwarrantable in itself, as
either to read Theology into Science or Science into Theology. Nothing
could be more artificial than to attempt this on the speculative side;
and it has been a substantial relief to me throughout that the idea rose
up thus in the course of practical work and shaped itself day by day
unconsciously. It might be charged, nevertheless, that I was all the
time, whether consciously or unconsciously, simply reading my Theology
into my Science. And as this would hopelessly vitiate the conclusions
arrived at, I must acquit myself at least of the intention. Of nothing
have I been more fearful throughout than of making Nature parallel with
my own or with any creed. The only legitimate questions one dare put to
Nature are those which concern universal human good and the Divine
interpretation of things. These I conceive may be there actually studied
at first-hand, and before their purity is soiled by human touch. We have
Truth in Nature as it came from God. And it has to be read with the same
unbiased mind, the same open eye, the same faith, and the same reverence
as all other Revelation. All that is found there, whatever its place in
Theology, whatever its orthodoxy or heterodoxy, whatever its narrowness
or its breadth, we are bound to accept as Doctrine from which on the
lines of Science there is no escape.

When this presented itself to me as a method, I felt it to be due to
it--were it only to secure, so far as that was possible, that no former
bias should interfere with the integrity of the results--to begin again
at the beginning and reconstruct my Spiritual World step by step. The
result of that inquiry, so far as its expression in systematic form is
concerned, I have not given in this book. To reconstruct a Spiritual
Religion, or a department of Spiritual Religion--for this is all the
method can pretend to--on the lines of Nature would be an attempt from
which one better equipped in both directions might well be pardoned if
he shrank. My object at present is the humbler one of venturing a simple
contribution to practical Religion along the lines indicated. What Bacon
predicates of the Natural World, _Natura enim non nisi parendo
vincitur_, is also true, as Christ had already told us, of the Spiritual
World. And I present a few samples of the religious teaching referred to
formerly as having been prepared under the influence of scientific ideas
in the hope that they may be useful first of all in this direction.

I would, however, carefully point out that though their unsystematic
arrangement here may create the impression that these papers are merely
isolated readings in Religion pointed by casual scientific truths, they
are organically connected by a single principle. Nothing could be more
false both to Science and to Religion than attempts to adjust the two
spheres by making out ingenious points of contact in detail. The
solution of this great question of conciliation, if one may still refer
to a problem so gratuitous, must be general rather than particular. The
basis in a common principle--the Continuity of Law--can alone save
specific applications from ranking as mere coincidences, or exempt them
from the reproach of being a hybrid between two things which must be
related by the deepest affinities or remain forever separate.

To the objection that even a basis in Law is no warrant for so great a
trespass as the intrusion into another field of thought of the
principles of Natural Science, I would reply that in this I find I am
following a lead which in other departments has not only been allowed
but has achieved results as rich as they were unexpected. What is the
Physical Politic of Mr. Walter Bagehot but the extension of Natural Law
to the Political World? What is the Biological Sociology of Mr. Herbert
Spencer but the application of Natural Law to the Social World? Will it
be charged that the splendid achievements of such thinkers are hybrids
between things which Nature has meant to remain apart? Nature usually
solves such problems for herself. Inappropriate hybridism is checked by
the Law of Sterility. Judged by this great Law these modern developments
of our knowledge stand uncondemned. Within their own sphere the results
of Mr. Herbert Spencer are far from sterile--the application of Biology
to Political Economy is already revolutionizing the Science. If the
introduction of Natural Law into the Social sphere is no violent
contradiction but a genuine and permanent contribution, shall its
further extension to the Spiritual sphere be counted an extravagance?
Does not the Principle of Continuity demand its application in every
direction? To carry it as a working principle into so lofty a region may
appear impracticable. Difficulties lie on the threshold which may seem,
at first sight, insurmountable. But obstacles to a true method only test
its validity. And he who honestly faces the task may find relief in
feeling that whatever else of crudeness and imperfection mar it, the
attempt is at least in harmony with the thought and movement of his

That these papers were not designed to appear in a collective form, or
indeed to court the more public light at all, needs no disclosure. They
are published out of regard to the wish of known and unknown friends by
whom, when in a fugitive form, they were received with so curious an
interest as to make one feel already that there are minds which such
forms of truth may touch. In making the present selection, partly from
manuscript, and partly from articles already published, I have been
guided less by the wish to constitute the papers a connected series than
to exhibit the application of the principle in various directions. They
will be found, therefore, of unequal interest and value, according to
the standpoint from which they are regarded. Thus some are designed with
a directly practical and popular bearing, others being more expository,
and slightly apologetic in tone. The risk of combining two objects so
very different is somewhat serious. But, for the reason named, having
taken this responsibility, the only compensation I can offer is to
indicate which of the papers incline to the one side or to the other.
"Degeneration," "Growth," "Mortification," "Conformity to Type,"
"Semi-Parasitism," and "Parasitism" belong to the more practical order;
and while one or two are intermediate, "Biogenesis," "Death," and
"Eternal Life" may be offered to those who find the atmosphere of the
former uncongenial. It will not disguise itself, however, that, owing to
the circumstances in which they were prepared, all the papers are more
or less practical in their aim; so that to the merely philosophical
reader there is little to be offered except--and that only with the
greatest diffidence--the Introductory chapter.

In the Introduction, which the general reader may do well to ignore, I
have briefly stated the case for Natural Law in the Spiritual World. The
extension of Analogy to Laws, or rather the extension of the Laws
themselves so far as known to me, is new; and I cannot hope to have
escaped the mistakes and misadventures of a first exploration in an
unsurveyed land. So general has been the survey that I have not even
paused to define specially to what departments of the Spiritual World
exclusively the principle is to be applied. The danger of making a new
principle apply too widely inculcates here the utmost caution. One thing
is certain, and I state it pointedly, the application of Natural Law to
the Spiritual World has decided and necessary limits. And if elsewhere
with undue enthusiasm I seem to magnify the principle at stake, the
exaggeration--like the extreme amplification of the moon's disc when
near the horizon--must be charged to that almost necessary aberration of
light which distorts every new idea while it is yet slowly climbing to
its zenith.

In what follows the Introduction, except in the setting there is nothing
new. I trust there is nothing new. When I began to follow out these
lines, I had no idea where they would lead me. I was prepared,
nevertheless, at least for the time, to be loyal to the method
throughout, and share with nature whatever consequences might ensue. But
in almost every case, after stating what appeared to be the truth in
words gathered directly from the lips of Nature, I was sooner or later
startled by a certain similarity in the general idea to something I had
heard before, and this often developed in a moment, and when I was least
expecting it, into recognition of some familiar article of faith. I was
not watching for this result. I did not begin by tabulating the
doctrines, as I did the Laws of Nature, and then proceed with the
attempt to pair them. The majority of them seemed at first too far
removed from the natural world even to suggest this. Still less did I
begin with doctrines and work downward to find their relations in the
natural sphere. It was the opposite process entirely. I ran up the
Natural Law as far as it would go, and the appropriate doctrine seldom
even loomed in sight till I had reached the top. Then it burst into view
in a single moment.

I can scarcely now say whether in those moments I was more overcome with
thankfulness that Nature was so like Revelation, or more filled with
wonder that Revelation was so like Nature. Nature, it is true, is a part
of Revelation--a much greater part doubtless than is yet believed--and
one could have anticipated nothing but harmony here. But that a derived
Theology, in spite of the venerable verbiage which has gathered round
it, should be at bottom and in all cardinal respects so faithful a
transcript of "the truth as it is in Nature" came as a surprise and to
me at least as a rebuke. How, under the rigid necessity of incorporating
in its system much that seemed nearly unintelligible, and much that was
barely credible, Theology has succeeded so perfectly in adhering through
good report and ill to what in the main are truly the lines of Nature,
awakens a new admiration for those who constructed and kept this faith.
But however nobly it has held its ground, Theology must feel to-day that
the modern world calls for a further proof. Nor will the best Theology
resent this demand; it also demands it. Theology is searching on every
hand for another echo of the Voice of which Revelation also is the echo,
that out of the mouths of two witnesses its truths should be
established. That other echo can only come from Nature. Hitherto its
voice has been muffled. But now that Science has made the world around
articulate, it speaks to Religion with a twofold purpose. In the first
place it offers to corroborate Theology, in the second to purify it.

If the removal of suspicion from Theology is of urgent moment, not less
important is the removal of its adulterations. These suspicions, many of
them at least, are new; in a sense they mark progress. But the
adulterations are the artificial accumulations of centuries of
uncontrolled speculation. They are the necessary result of the old
method and the warrant for its revision--they mark the impossibility of
progress without the guiding and restraining hand of Law. The felt
exhaustion of the former method, the want of corroboration for the old
evidence, the protest of reason against the monstrous overgrowths which
conceal the real lines of truth, these summon us to the search for a
surer and more scientific system. With truths of the theological order,
with dogmas which often depend for their existence on a particular
exegesis, with propositions which rest for their evidence upon a balance
of probabilities, or upon the weight of authority; with doctrines which
every age and nation may make or unmake, which each sect may tamper
with, and which even the individual may modify for himself, a second
court of appeal has become an imperative necessity.

Science, therefore, may yet have to be called upon to arbitrate at some
points between conflicting creeds. And while there are some departments
of Theology where its jurisdiction cannot be sought, there are others in
which Nature may yet have to define the contents as well as the limits
of belief.

What I would desire especially is a thoughtful consideration of the
method. The applications ventured upon here may be successful or
unsuccessful. But they would more than satisfy me if they suggested a
method to others whose less clumsy hands might work it out more
profitably. For I am convinced of the fertility of such a method at the
present time. It is recognized by all that the younger and abler minds
of this age find the most serious difficulty in accepting or retaining
the ordinary forms or belief. Especially is this true of those whose
culture is scientific. And the reason is palpable. No man can study
modern Science without a change coming over his view of truth. What
impresses him about Nature is its solidity. He is there standing upon
actual things, among fixed laws. And the integrity of the scientific
method so seizes him that all other forms of truth begins to appear
comparatively unstable. He did not know before that any form of truth
could so hold him; and the immediate effect is to lessen his interest in
all that stands on other bases. This he feels in spite of himself; he
struggles against it in vain; and he finds perhaps to his alarm that he
is drifting fast into what looks at first like pure Positivism. This is
an inevitable result of the scientific training. It is quite erroneous
to suppose that science ever overthrows Faith, if by that is implied
that any natural truth can oppose successfully any single spiritual
truth. Science cannot overthrow Faith; but it shakes it. Its own
doctrines, grounded in Nature, are so certain, that the truths of
Religion, resting to most men on Authority, are felt to be strangely
insecure. The difficulty, therefore, which men of Science feel about
Religion is real and inevitable, and in so far as Doubt is a
conscientious tribute to the inviolability of Nature it is entitled to

None but those who have passed through it can appreciate the radical
nature of the change wrought by Science in the whole mental attitude of
its disciples. What they really cry out for in Religion is a new
standpoint--a standpoint like their own. The one hope, therefore, for
Science is more Science. Again, to quote Bacon--we shall hear enough
from the moderns by-and-by--"This I dare affirm in knowledge of Nature,
that a little natural philosophy, and the first entrance into it, doth
dispose the opinion to atheism; but, on the other side, much natural
philosophy, and wading deep into it, will bring about men's minds to

The application of _similia similibus curantur_ was never more in point.
If this is a disease, it is the disease of Nature, and the cure is more
Nature. For what is this disquiet in the breasts of men but the loyal
fear that Nature is being violated? Men must oppose with every energy
they possess what seems to them to oppose the eternal course of things.
And the first step in their deliverance must be not to "reconcile"
Nature and Religion, but to exhibit Nature in Religion. Even to convince
them that there is no controversy between Religion and Science is
insufficient. A mere flag of truce, in the nature of the case, is here
impossible; at least, it is only possible so long as neither party is
sincere. No man who knows the splendor of scientific achievement or
cares for it, no man who feels the solidity of its method or works with
it, can remain neutral with regard to Religion. He must either extend
his method into it, or, if that is impossible, oppose it to the knife.
On the other hand, no one who knows the content of Christianity, or
feels the universal need of a Religion, can stand idly by while the
intellect of his age is slowly divorcing itself from it. What is
required, therefore, to draw Science and Religion together again--for
they began the centuries hand in hand--is the disclosure of the
naturalness of the supernatural. Then, and not till then, will men see
how true it is, that to be loyal to all of Nature, they must be loyal to
the part defined as Spiritual. No science contributes to another without
receiving a reciprocal benefit. And even as the contribution of Science
to Religion is the vindication of the naturalness of the Supernatural,
so the gift of Religion to Science is the demonstration of the
supernaturalness of the Natural. Thus, as the Supernatural becomes
slowly Natural, will also the Natural become slowly Supernatural, until
in the impersonal authority of Law men everywhere recognize the
Authority of God.

To those who already find themselves fully nourished on the older forms
of truth, I do not commend these pages. They will find them superfluous.
Nor is there any reason why they should mingle with light which is
already clear the distorting rays of a foreign expression.

But to those who are feeling their way to a Christian life, haunted now
by a sense of instability in the foundation of their faith, now brought
to bay by specific doubt at one point raising, as all doubt does, the
question for the whole, I would hold up a light which has often been
kind to me. There is a sense of solidity about a Law of Nature which
belongs to nothing else in the world. Here, at last, amid all that is
shifting, is one thing sure; one thing outside ourselves, unbiased,
unprejudiced, uninfluenced by like or dislike, by doubt or fear; one
thing that holds on its way to me eternally, incorruptible, and
undefiled. This more than anything else, makes one eager to see the
Reign of Law traced in the Spiritual Sphere. And should this seem to
some to offer only a surer, but not a higher Faith; should the better
ordering of the Spiritual World appear to satisfy the intellect at the
sacrifice of reverence, simplicity, or love; especially should it seem
to substitute a Reign of Law and a Lawgiver for a Kingdom of Grace and a
Personal God, I will say, with Browning,--

                                    "I spoke as I saw.
    I report, as a man may of God's work--_all's love, yet all's Law_.
    Now I lay down the judgeship He lent me. Each faculty tasked,
    To perceive Him, has gained an abyss where a dewdrop was asked."


[1] Aurora Leigh.

[2] "Meditationes Sacræ," x.


    [For the sake of the general reader who may desire to pass at once
    to the practical applications, the following outline of the
    Introduction--devoted rather to general principles--is here



 1. The growth of the Idea of Law.

 2. Its gradual extension throughout every department of Knowledge.

 3. Except one. Religion hitherto the Great Exception. Why so?

 4. Previous attempts to trace analogies between the Natural and
      Spiritual spheres. These have been limited to analogies between
      _Phenomena_; and are useful mainly as illustrations. Analogies of
      _Law_ would also have a Scientific value.

 5. Wherein that value would consist. (1) The Scientific demand of the
      age would be met; (2) Greater clearness would be introduced into
      Religion practically; (3) Theology, instead of resting on
      Authority, would rest equally on Nature.



_A priori_ argument for Natural Law in the spiritual world.

 1. The Law Discovered.

 2.    "    Defined.

 3.    "    Applied.

 4. The objection answered that the _material_ of the Natural and
      Spiritual worlds being different they must be under different

 5. The existence of Laws in the Spiritual world other than the Natural
      Laws (1) improbable, (2) unnecessary, (3) unknown. Qualification.

 6. The Spiritual not the projection upward of the Natural; but the
      Natural the projection downward of the Spiritual.


    "This method turns aside from hypotheses not to be tested by any
    known logical canon familiar to science, whether the hypothesis
    claims support from intuition, aspiration or general plausibility.
    And, again, this method turns aside from ideal standards which avow
    themselves to be lawless, which profess to transcend the field of
    law. We say, life and conduct shall stand for us wholly on a basis
    of law, and must rest entirely in that region of science (not
    physical, but moral and social science), where we are free to use
    our intelligence in the methods known to us as intelligible logic,
    methods which the intellect can analyze. When you confront us with
    hypotheses, however sublime and however affecting, if they cannot be
    stated in terms of the rest of our knowledge, if they are disparate
    to that world of sequence and sensation which to us is the ultimate
    base of all our real knowledge, then we shake our heads and turn
    aside."--_Frederick Harrison._

    "Ethical science is already forever completed, so far as her general
    outline and main principles are concerned, and has been, as it were,
    waiting for physical science to come up with her."--_Paradoxical


Natural Law is a new word. It is the last and the most magnificent
discovery of science. No more telling proof is open to the modern world
of the greatness of the idea than the greatness of the attempts which
have always been made to justify it. In the earlier centuries, before
the birth of science, Phenomena were studied alone. The world then was a
chaos, a collection of single, isolated, and independent facts. Deeper
thinkers saw, indeed, that relations must subsist between these facts,
but the Reign of Law was never more to the ancients than a far-off
vision. Their philosophies, conspicuously those of the Stoics and
Pythagoreans, heroically sought to marshal the discrete materials of the
universe into thinkable form, but from these artificial and fantastic
systems nothing remains to us now but an ancient testimony to the
grandeur of that harmony which they failed to reach.

With Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler the first regular lines of the
universe began to be discerned. When Nature yielded to Newton her great
secret, Gravitation was felt to be not greater as a fact in itself than
as a revelation that Law was fact. And thenceforth the search for
individual Phenomena gave way before the larger study of their
relations. The pursuit of Law became the passion of science.

What that discovery of Law has done for Nature, it is impossible to
estimate. As a mere spectacle the universe to-day discloses a beauty so
transcendent that he who disciplines himself by scientific work finds it
an overwhelming reward simply to behold it. In these Laws one stands
face to face with truth, solid and unchangeable. Each single Law is an
instrument of scientific research, simple in its adjustments, universal
in its application, infallible in its results. And despite the
limitations of its sphere on every side Law is still the largest,
richest, and surest source of human knowledge.

It is not necessary for the present to more than lightly touch on
definitions of Natural Law. The Duke of Argyll[3] indicates five senses
in which the word is used, but we may content ourselves here by taking
it in its most simple and obvious significance. The fundamental
conception of Law is an ascertained working sequence or constant order
among the Phenomena of Nature. This impression of Law as order it is
important to receive in its simplicity, for the idea is often corrupted
by having attached to it erroneous views of cause and effect. In its
true sense Natural Law predicates nothing of causes. The Laws of Nature
are simply statements of the orderly condition of things in Nature, what
is found in Nature by a sufficient number of competent observers. What
these Laws are in themselves is not agreed. That they have any absolute
existence even is far from certain. They are relative to man in his many
limitations, and represent for him the constant expression of what he
may always expect to find in the world around him. But that they have
any causal connection with the things around him is not to be conceived.
The Natural Laws originate nothing, sustain nothing; they are merely
responsible for uniformity in sustaining what has been originated and
what is being sustained. They are modes of operation, therefore, not
operators; processes, not powers. The Law of Gravitation, for instance,
speaks to science only of process. It has no light to offer as to
itself. Newton did not discover Gravity--that is not discovered yet. He
discovered its Law, which is Gravitation, but tells us nothing of its
origin, of its nature or of its cause.

The Natural Laws then are great lines running not only through the
world, but, as we now know, through the universe, reducing it like
parallels of latitude to intelligent order. In themselves, be it once
more repeated, they may have no more absolute existence than parallels
of latitude. But they exist for us. They are drawn for us to understand
the part by some Hand that drew the whole; so drawn, perhaps, that,
understanding the part, we too in time may learn to understand the
whole. Now the inquiry we propose to ourselves resolves itself into the
simple question, Do these lines stop with what we call the Natural
sphere? Is it not possible that they may lead further? Is it probable
that the Hand which ruled them gave up the work where most of all they
were required? Did that Hand divide the world into two, a cosmos and a
chaos, the higher being the chaos? With Nature as the symbol of all of
harmony and beauty that is known to man, must we still talk of the
super-natural, not as a convenient word, but as a different order of
world, an unintelligible world, where the Reign of Mystery supersedes
the Reign of Law?

This question, let it be carefully observed, applies to Laws not to
Phenomena. That the Phenomena of the Spiritual World are in analogy with
the Phenomena of the Natural World requires no restatement. Since Plato
enunciated his doctrine of the Cave or of the twice-divided line; since
Christ spake in parables; since Plotinus wrote of the world as an image;
since the mysticism of Swedenborg; since Bacon and Pascal; since "Sartor
Resartus" and "In Memoriam," it has been all but a commonplace with
thinkers that "the invisible things of God from the creation of the
world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made."
Milton's question--

                              "What if earth
    Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein
    Each to other like more than on earth is thought?"

is now superfluous. "In our doctrine of representations and
correspondences," says Swedenborg, "we shall treat of both these
symbolical and typical resemblances, and of the astonishing things that
occur, I will not say in the living body only, but throughout Nature,
and which correspond so entirely to supreme and spiritual things, that
one would swear that the physical world was purely symbolical of the
spiritual world."[4] And Carlyle: "All visible things are emblems. What
thou seest is not there on its own account; strictly speaking is not
there at all. Matter exists only spiritually, and to represent some idea
and body it forth."[5]

But the analogies of Law are a totally different thing from the
analogies of Phenomena and have a very different value. To say
generally, with Pascal, that--"La nature est une image de la grace," is
merely to be poetical. The function of Hervey's "Meditations in a Flower
Garden," or, Flavel's "Husbandry Spiritualized," is mainly homiletical.
That such works have an interest is not to be denied. The place of
parable in teaching, and especially after the sanction of the greatest
of Teachers, must always be recognized. The very necessities of language
indeed demand this method of presenting truth. The temporal is the husk
and framework of the eternal, and thoughts can be uttered only through

But analogies between Phenomena bear the same relation to analogies of
Law that Phenomena themselves bear to Law. The light of Law on truth, as
we have seen, is an immense advance upon the light of Phenomena. The
discovery of Law is simply the discovery of Science. And if the
analogies of Natural Law can be extended to the Spiritual World, that
whole region at once falls within the domain of science and secures a
basis as well as an illumination in the constitution and course of
Nature. All, therefore, that has been claimed for parable can be
predicated _a fortiori_ of this--with the addition that a proof on the
basis of Law would want no criterion possessed by the most advanced

That the validity of analogy generally has been seriously questioned one
must frankly own. Doubtless there is much difficulty and even liability
to gross error in attempting to establish analogy in specific cases. The
value of the likeness appears differently to different minds, and in
discussing an individual instance questions of relevancy will invariably
crop up. Of course, in the language of John Stuart Mill, "when the
analogy can be proved, the argument founded upon it cannot be
resisted."[7] But so great is the difficulty of proof that many are
compelled to attach the most inferior weight to analogy as a method of
reasoning. "Analogical evidence is generally more successful in
silencing objections than in evincing truth. Though it rarely refutes it
frequently repels refutation; like those weapons which though they
cannot kill the enemy, will ward his blows.... It must be allowed that
analogical evidence is at least but a feeble support, and is hardly ever
honored with the name of proof."[8] Other authorities on the other hand,
such as Sir William Hamilton, admit analogy to a primary place in logic
and regard it as the very basis of induction.

But, fortunately, we are spared all discussion on this worn subject, for
two cogent reasons. For one thing, we do not demand of Nature directly
to prove Religion. That was never its function. Its function is to
interpret. And this, after all, is possibly the most fruitful proof. The
best proof of a thing is that we _see_ it; if we do not see it, perhaps
proof will not convince us of it. It is the want of the discerning
faculty, the clairvoyant power of seeing the eternal in the temporal,
rather than the failure of the reason, that begets the sceptic. But
secondly, and more particularly, a significant circumstance has to be
taken into account, which, though it will appear more clearly afterward,
may be stated here at once. The position we have been led to take up is
not that the Spiritual Laws are analogous to the Natural Laws, but that
_they are the same Laws_. It is not a question of analogy but of
_Identity_. The Natural Laws are not the shadows or images of the
Spiritual in the same sense as autumn is emblematical of Decay, or the
falling leaf of Death. The Natural Laws, as the Law of Continuity might
well warn us, do not stop with the visible and then give place to a new
set of Laws bearing a strong similitude to them. The Laws of the
invisible are the same Laws, projections of the natural not
supernatural. Analogous Phenomena are not the fruit of parallel Laws,
but of the same Laws--Laws which at one end, as it were, may be dealing
with Matter, at the other end with Spirit. As there will be some
inconvenience, however, in dispensing with the word analogy, we shall
continue occasionally to employ it. Those who apprehend the real
relation will mentally substitute the larger term.

Let us now look for a moment at the present state of the question. Can
it be said that the Laws of the Spiritual World are in any sense
considered even to have analogies with the Natural World? Here and there
certainly one finds an attempt, and a successful attempt, to exhibit on
a rational basis one or two of the great Moral Principles of the
Spiritual World. But the Physical World has not been appealed to. Its
magnificent system of Laws remains outside, and its contribution
meanwhile is either silently ignored or purposely set aside. The
Physical, it is said, is too remote from the Spiritual. The Moral World
may afford a basis for religious truth, but even this is often the
baldest concession; while the appeal to the Physical universe is
everywhere dismissed as, on the face of it, irrelevant and unfruitful.
From the scientific side, again, nothing has been done to court a closer
fellowship. Science has taken theology at its own estimate. It is a
thing apart. The Spiritual World is not only a different world, but a
different kind of world, a world arranged on a totally different
principle, under a different governmental scheme.

The Reign of Law has gradually crept into every department of Nature,
transforming knowledge everywhere into Science. The process goes on, and
Nature slowly appears to us as one great unity, until the borders of the
Spiritual World are reached. There the Law of Continuity ceases, and the
harmony breaks down. And men who have learned their elementary lessons
truly from the alphabet of the lower Laws, going on to seek a higher
knowledge, are suddenly confronted with the Great Exception.

Even those who have examined most carefully the relations of the Natural
and the Spiritual, seem to have committed themselves deliberately to a
final separation in matters of Law. It is a surprise to find such a
writer as Horace Bushnell, for instance, describing the Spiritual World
as "another system of nature incommunicably separate from ours," and
further defining it thus: "God has, in fact, erected another and higher
system, that of spiritual being and government for which nature exists;
a system not under the law of cause and effect, but ruled and marshaled
under other kinds of laws."[9] Few men have shown more insight than
Bushnell in illustrating Spiritual truth from the Natural World; but he
has not only failed to perceive the analogy with regard to Law, but
emphatically denies it.

In the recent literature of this whole region there nowhere seems any
advance upon the position of "Nature and the Supernatural." All are
agreed in speaking of Nature _and_ the Supernatural. Nature _in_ the
Supernatural, so far as Laws are concerned, is still an unknown truth.

"The Scientific Basis of Faith" is a suggestive title. The accomplished
author announces that the object of his investigation is to show that
"the world of nature and mind, as made known by science, constitute a
basis and a preparation for that highest moral and spiritual life of
man, which is evoked by the self-revelation of God."[10] On the whole,
Mr. Murphy seems to be more philosophical and more profound in his view
of the relation of science and religion than any writer of modern times.
His conception of religion is broad and lofty, his acquaintance with
science adequate.

He makes constant, admirable, and often original use of analogy; and
yet, in spite of the promise of this quotation, he has failed to find
any analogy in that department of Law where surely, of all others, it
might most reasonably be looked for. In the broad subject even of the
analogies of what he defines as "evangelical religion" with Nature, Mr.
Murphy discovers nothing. Nor can this be traced either to short-sight
or over-sight. The subject occurs to him more than once, and he
deliberately dismisses it--dismisses it not merely as unfruitful, but
with a distinct denial of its relevancy. The memorable paragraph from
Origen which forms the text of Butler's "Analogy," he calls "this
shallow and false saying."[11] He says: "The designation of Butler's
scheme of religious philosophy ought then to be _the analogy of
religion, legal and evangelical, to the constitution of nature_. But
does this give altogether a true meaning? Does this double analogy
really exist? If justice is natural law among beings having a moral
nature, there is the closest analogy between the constitution of nature
and merely legal religion. Legal religion is only the extension of
natural justice into a future life.... But is this true of evangelical
religion? Have the doctrines of Divine grace any similar support in the
analogies of nature? I trow not."[12] And with reference to a specific
question, speaking of immortality, he asserts that "the analogies of
mere nature are opposed to the doctrine of immortality."[13]

With regard to Butler's great work in this department, it is needless at
this time of day to point out that his aims did not lie exactly in this
direction. He did not seek to indicate analogies _between_ religion and
the constitution and course of Nature. His theme was, "The Analogy _of_
Religion _to_ the constitution and course of Nature." And although he
pointed out direct analogies of Phenomena, such as those between the
metamorphoses of insects and the doctrine of a future state; and
although he showed that "the natural and moral constitution and
government of the world are so connected as to make up together but one
scheme,"[14] his real intention was not so much to construct arguments
as to repel objections. His emphasis accordingly was laid upon the
difficulties of the two schemes rather than on their positive lines; and
so thoroughly has he made out this point that as is well known, the
effect upon many has been, not to lead them to accept the Spiritual
World on the ground of the Natural, but to make them despair of both.
Butler lived at a time when defence was more necessary than
construction, when the materials for construction were scarce and
insecure, and when, besides, some of the things to be defended were
quite incapable of defence. Notwithstanding this, his influence over the
whole field since has been unparalleled.

After all, then, the Spiritual World, as it appears at this moment, is
outside Natural Law. Theology continues to be considered, as it has
always been, a thing apart. It remains still a stupendous and splendid
construction, but on lines altogether its own. Nor is Theology to be
blamed for this. Nature has been long in speaking; even yet its voice is
low, sometimes inaudible. Science is the true defaulter, for Theology
had to wait patiently for its development. As the highest of the
sciences, Theology in the order of evolution should be the last to fall
into rank. It is reserved for it to perfect the final harmony. Still, if
it continues longer to remain a thing apart, with increasing reason will
be such protests as this of the "Unseen Universe," when, in speaking of
a view of miracles held by an older Theology, it declares:--"If he
submits to be guided by such interpreters, each intelligent being will
forever continue to be baffled in any attempt to explain these
phenomena, because they are said to have no physical relation to
anything that went before or that followed after; in fine, they are made
to form a universe within a universe, a portion cut off by an
insurmountable barrier from the domain of scientific inquiry."[15]

This is the secret of the present decadence of Religion in the world of
Science. For Science can hear nothing of a Great Exception.
Constructions on unique lines, "portions cut off by an insurmountable
barrier from the domain of scientific inquiry," it dare not recognize.
Nature has taught it this lesson, and Nature is right. It is the
province of Science to vindicate Nature here at any hazard. But in
blaming Theology for its intolerance, it has been betrayed into an
intolerance less excusable. It has pronounced upon it too soon. What if
Religion be yet brought within the sphere of Law? Law is the revelation
of time. One by one slowly through the centuries the Sciences have
crystallized into geometrical form, each form not only perfect in
itself, but perfect in its relation to all other forms. Many forms had
to be perfected before the form of the Spiritual. The Inorganic has to
be worked out before the Organic, the Natural before the Spiritual.
Theology at present has merely an ancient and provisional philosophic
form. By-and-by it will be seen whether it be not susceptible of
another. For Theology must pass through the necessary stages of
progress, like any other science. The method of science-making is now
fully established. In almost all cases the natural history and
development are the same. Take, for example, the case of Geology. A
century ago there was none. Science went out to look for it, and brought
back a Geology which, if Nature were a harmony, had falsehood written
almost on its face. It was the Geology of Catastrophism, a Geology so
out of line with Nature as revealed by the other sciences, that on _a
priori_ grounds a thoughtful mind might have been justified in
dismissing it as a final form of any science. And its fallacy was soon
and thoroughly exposed. The advent of modified uniformitarian principles
all but banished the word catastrophe from science, and marked the birth
of Geology as we know it now. Geology, that is to say, had fallen at
last into the great scheme of Law. Religious doctrines, many of them at
least, have been up to this time all but as _catastrophic_ as the old
Geology. They are not on the lines of Nature as we have learned to
decipher her. If any one feel, as Science complains that it feels, that
the lie of things in the Spiritual World as arranged by Theology is not
in harmony with the world around, is not, in short, scientific, he is
entitled to raise the question whether this be really the final form of
those departments of Theology to which his complaint refers. He is
justified, moreover, in demanding a new investigation with all modern
methods and resources; and Science is bound by its principles not less
than by the lessons of its own past, to suspend judgment till the last
attempt is made. The success of such an attempt will be looked forward
to with hopefulness or fearfulness just in proportion to one's
confidence in Nature--in proportion to one's belief in the divinity of
man and in the divinity of things. If there is any truth in the unity of
Nature, in that supreme principle of Continuity which is growing in
splendor with every discovery of science, the conclusion is foregone. If
there is any foundation for Theology, if the phenomena of the Spiritual
World are real, in the nature of things they ought to come into the
sphere of Law. Such is at once the demand of Science upon Religion and
the prophecy that it can and shall be fulfilled.

The Botany of Linnæus, a purely artificial system, was a splendid
contribution to human knowledge, and did more in its day to enlarge the
view of the vegetable kingdom than all that had gone before. But all
artificial systems must pass away. None knew better than the great
Swedish naturalist himself that his system, being artificial, was but
provisional. Nature must be read in its own light. And as the botanical
field became more luminous, the system of Jussieu and De Candolle slowly
emerged as a native growth, unfolded itself as naturally as the petals
of one of its own flowers, and forcing itself upon men's intelligence as
the very voice of Nature, banished the Linnæan system forever. It were
unjust to say that the present Theology is as artificial as the system
of Linnæus; in many particulars it wants but a fresh expression to make
it in the most modern sense scientific. But if it has a basis in the
constitution and course of Nature, that basis has never been adequately
shown. It has depended on Authority rather than on Law; and a new basis
must be sought and found if it is to be presented to those with whom Law
alone is Authority.

It is not of course to be inferred that the scientific method will ever
abolish the radical distinctions of the Spiritual World. True science
proposes to itself no such general leveling in any department. Within
the unity of the whole there must always be room for the characteristic
differences of the parts, and those tendencies of thought at the present
time which ignore such distinctions, in their zeal for simplicity really
create confusion. As has been well said by Mr. Hutton: "Any attempt to
merge the distinctive characteristic of a higher science in a lower--of
chemical changes in mechanical--of physiological in chemical--above all,
of mental changes in physiological--is a neglect of the radical
assumption of all science, because it is an attempt to deduce
representations--or rather misrepresentations--of one kind of phenomena
from a conception of another kind which does not contain it, and must
have it implicitly and illicitly smuggled in before it can be extracted
out of it. Hence, instead of increasing our means of representing the
universe to ourselves without the detailed examination of particulars,
such a procedure leads to misconstructions of fact on the basis of an
imported theory, and generally ends in forcibly perverting the
least-known science to the type of the better known."[16]

What is wanted is simply a unity of conception, but not such a unity of
conception as should be founded on an absolute identity of phenomena.
This latter might indeed be a unity, but it would be a very tame one.
The perfection of unity is attained where there is infinite variety of
phenomena, infinite complexity of relation, but great simplicity of
Law. Science will be complete when all known phenomena can be arranged
in one vast circle in which a few well known Laws shall form the
radii--these radii at once separating and uniting, separating into
particular groups, yet uniting all to a common center. To show that the
radii for some of the most characteristic phenomena of the Spiritual
World are already drawn within that circle by science is the main object
of the papers which follow. There will be found an attempt to restate a
few of the more elementary facts of the Spiritual Life in terms of
Biology. Any argument for Natural Law in the Spiritual World may be best
tested in the _a posteriori_ form. And although the succeeding pages are
not designed in the first instance to prove a principle, they may yet be
entered here as evidence. The practical test is a severe one, but on
that account all the more satisfactory.

And what will be gained if the point be made out? Not a few things. For
one, as partly indicated already, the scientific demand of the age will
be satisfied. That demand is that all that concerns life and conduct
shall be placed on a scientific basis. The only great attempt to meet
that at present is Positivism.

But what again is a scientific basis? What exactly is this demand of the
age? "By Science I understand," says Huxley, "all knowledge which rests
upon evidence and reasoning of a like character to that which claims our
assent to ordinary scientific propositions; and if any one is able to
make good the assertion that his theology rests upon valid evidence and
sound reasoning, then it appears to me that such theology must take its
place as a part of science." That the assertion has been already made
good is claimed by many who deserve to be heard on questions of
scientific evidence. But if more is wanted by some minds, more not
perhaps of a higher kind but of a different kind, at least the attempt
can be made to gratify them. Mr. Frederick Harrison,[17] in name of the
Positive method of thought, "turns aside from ideal standards which avow
themselves to be _lawless_ [the italics are Mr. Harrison's], which
profess to transcend the field of law. We say, life and conduct shall
stand for us wholly on a basis of law, and must rest entirely in that
region of science (not physical, but moral and social science) where we
are free to use our intelligence, in the methods known to us as
intelligible logic, methods which the intellect can analyze. When you
confront us with hypotheses, however sublime and however affecting, if
they cannot be stated in terms of the rest of our knowledge, if they are
disparate to that world of sequence and sensation which to us is the
ultimate base of all our real knowledge, then we shake our heads and
turn aside." This is a most reasonable demand, and we humbly accept the
challenge. We think religious truth, or at all events certain of the
largest facts of the Spiritual Life, can be stated "in terms of the rest
of our knowledge."

We do not say, as already hinted, that the proposal includes an attempt
to prove the existence of the Spiritual World. Does that need proof? And
if so, what sort of evidence would be considered in court? The facts of
the Spiritual World are as real to thousands as the facts of the Natural
World--and more real to hundreds. But were one asked to prove that the
Spiritual World can be discerned by the appropriate faculties, one would
do it precisely as one would attempt to prove the Natural World to be an
object of recognition to the senses--and with as much or as little
success. In either instance probably the fact would be found incapable
of demonstration, but not more in the one case than in the other. Were
one asked to prove the existence of Spiritual Life, one would also do it
exactly as one would seek to prove Natural Life. And this perhaps might
be attempted with more hope. But this is not on the immediate
programme. Science deals with known facts; and accepting certain known
facts in the Spiritual World we proceed to arrange them, to discover
their Laws, to inquire if they can be stated "in terms of the rest of
our knowledge."

At the same time, although attempting no philosophical proof of the
existence of a Spiritual Life and a Spiritual World, we are not without
hope that the general line of thought here may be useful to some who are
honestly inquiring in these directions. The stumbling-block to most
minds is perhaps less the mere existence of the unseen than the want of
definition, the apparently hopeless vagueness, and not least, the
delight in this vagueness as mere vagueness by some who look upon this
as the mark of quality in Spiritual things. It will be at least
something to tell earnest seekers that the Spiritual World is not a
castle in the air, of an architecture unknown to earth or heaven, but a
fair ordered realm furnished with many familiar things and ruled by
well-remembered Laws.

It is scarcely necessary to emphasize under a second head the gain in
clearness. The Spiritual World as it stands is full of perplexity. One
can escape doubt only by escaping thought. With regard to many important
articles of religion perhaps the best and the worst course at present
open to a doubter is simple credulity. Who is to answer for this state
of things? It comes as a necessary tax for improvement on the age in
which we live. The old ground of faith, Authority, is given up; the new,
Science, has not yet taken its place. Men did not require to _see_ truth
before; they only needed to believe it. Truth, therefore, had not been
put by Theology in a seeing form--which, however, was its original form.
But now they ask to see it. And when it is shown them they start back in
despair. We shall not say what they see. But we shall say what they
might see. If the Natural Laws were run through the Spiritual World,
they might see the great lines of religious truth as clearly and simply
as the broad lines of science. As they gazed into that Natural-Spiritual
World they would say to themselves, "We have seen something like this
before. This order is known to us. It is not arbitrary. This Law here is
that old Law there, and this Phenomenon here, what can it be but that
which stood in precisely the same relation to that Law yonder?" And so
gradually from the new form everything assumes new meaning. So the
Spiritual World becomes slowly Natural; and, what is of all but equal
moment, the Natural World becomes slowly Spiritual. Nature is not a mere
image or emblem of the Spiritual. It is a working model of the
Spiritual. In the Spiritual World the same wheels revolve--but without
the iron. The same figures flit across the stage, the same processes of
growth go on, the same functions are discharged, the same biological
laws prevail--only with a different quality of βιος. Plato's prisoner,
if not out of the Cave, has at least his face to the light.

    "The earth is cram'd with heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God."

How much of the Spiritual World is covered by Natural law we do not
propose at present to inquire. It is certain, at least, that the whole
is not covered. And nothing more lends confidence to the method than
this. For one thing, room is still left for mystery. Had no place
remained for mystery it had proved itself both unscientific and
irreligious. A Science without mystery is unknown; a Religion without
mystery is absurd. This is no attempt to reduce Religion to a question
of mathematics, or demonstrate God in biological formulæ. The
elimination of mystery from the universe is the elimination of Religion.
However far the scientific method may penetrate the Spiritual World,
there will always remain a region to be explored by a scientific faith.
"I shall never rise to the point of view which wishes to 'raise' faith
to knowledge. To me, the way of truth is to come through the knowledge
of my ignorance to the submissiveness of faith, and then, making that
my starting place, to raise my knowledge into faith."[18]

Lest this proclamation of mystery should seem alarming, let us add that
this mystery also is scientific. The one subject on which all scientific
men are agreed, the one theme on which all alike become eloquent, the
one strain of pathos in all their writing and speaking and thinking,
concerns that final uncertainty, that utter blackness of darkness
bounding their work on every side. If the light of Nature is to
illuminate for us the Spiritual Sphere, there may well be a black
Unknown, corresponding, at least at some points, to this zone of
darkness round the Natural World.

But the final gain would appear in the department of Theology. The
establishment of the Spiritual Laws on "the solid ground of Nature," to
which the mind trusts "which builds for aye," would offer a new basis
for certainty in Religion. It has been indicated that the authority of
Authority is waning. This is a plain fact. And it was inevitable.
Authority--man's Authority, that is--is for children. And there
necessarily comes a time when they add to the question, What shall I do?
or, What shall I believe? the adult's interrogation--Why? Now this
question is sacred, and must be answered.

"How truly its central position is impregnable," Herbert Spencer has
well discerned, "religion has never adequately realized. In the
devoutest faith, as we habitually see it, there lies hidden an innermost
core of scepticism; and it is this scepticism which causes that dread of
inquiry displayed by religion when face to face with science."[19]

True indeed; Religion has never realized how impregnable are many of its
positions. It has not yet been placed on that basis which would make
them impregnable. And in a transition period like the present, holding
Authority with one hand, the other feeling all around in the darkness
for some strong new support, Theology is surely to be pitied. Whence
this dread when brought face to face with Science? It cannot be dread of
scientific fact. No single fact in Science has ever discredited a fact
in Religion. The theologian knows that, and admits that he has no fear
of facts. What then has Science done to make Theology tremble? It is its
method. It is its system. It is its Reign of Law. It is its harmony and
continuity. The attack is not specific. No one point is assailed. It is
the whole system which when compared with the other and weighed in its
balance is found wanting. An eye which has looked at the first cannot
look upon this. To do that, and rest in the contemplation, it has first
to uncentury itself.

Herbert Spencer points out further, with how much truth need not now be
discussed, that the purification of Religion has always come from
Science. It is very apparent at all events that an immense debt must
soon be contracted. The shifting of the furnishings will be a work of
time. But it must be accomplished. And not the least result of the
process will be the effect upon Science itself. No department of
knowledge ever contributes to another without receiving its own again
with usury--witness the reciprocal favors of Biology and Sociology. From
the time that Comte defined the analogy between the phenomena exhibited
by aggregations of associated men and those of animal colonies, the
Science of Life and the Science of Society have been so contributing to
one another that their progress since has been all but hand-in-hand. A
conception borrowed by the one has been observed in time finding its way
back, and always in an enlarged form, to further illuminate and enrich
the field it left. So must it be with Science and Religion. If the
purification of Religion comes from Science, the purification of
Science, in a deeper sense, shall come from Religion. The true ministry
of Nature must at last be honored, and Science take its place as the
great expositor. To Men of Science, not less than to Theologians,

                              "Science then
    Shall be a precious visitant; and then,
    And only then, be worthy of her name;
    For then her heart shall kindle, her dull eye,
    Dull and inanimate, no more shall hang
    Chained to its object in brute slavery;
    But taught with patient interest to watch
    The process of things, and serve the cause
    Of order and distinctness, not for this
    Shall it forget that its most noble use,
    Its most illustrious province, must be found
    In furnishing clear guidance, a support,
    Not treacherous, to the mind's _excursive_ power."[20]

But the gift of Science to Theology shall be not less rich. With the
inspiration of Nature to illuminate what the inspiration of Revelation
has left obscure, heresy in certain whole departments shall become
impossible. With the demonstration of the naturalness of the
supernatural, scepticism even may come to be regarded as unscientific.
And those who have wrestled long for a few bare truths to ennoble life
and rest their souls in thinking of the future will not be left in

It is impossible to believe that the amazing succession of revelations
in the domain of Nature during the last few centuries, at which the
world has all but grown tired wondering, are to yield nothing for the
higher life. If the development of doctrine is to have any meaning for
the future, Theology must draw upon the further revelation of the seen
for the further revelation of the unseen. It need, and can, add nothing
to fact; but as the vision of Newton rested on a clearer and richer
world than that of Plato, so, though seeing the same things in the
Spiritual World as our fathers, we may see them clearer and richer. With
the work of the centuries upon it, the mental eye is a finer instrument,
and demands a more ordered world. Had the revelation of Law been given
sooner, it had been unintelligible. Revelation never volunteers anything
that man could discover for himself--on the principle, probably, that it
is only when he is capable of discovering it that he is capable of
appreciating it. Besides, children do not need Laws, except Laws in the
sense of commandments. They repose with simplicity on authority, and ask
no questions. But there comes a time, as the world reaches its manhood,
when they will ask questions, and stake, moreover, everything on the
answers. That time is now. Hence we must exhibit our doctrines, not
lying athwart the lines of the world's thinking, in a place reserved,
and therefore shunned, for the Great Exception; but in their kinship to
all truth and in their Law-relation to the whole of Nature. This is,
indeed, simply following out the system of teaching begun by Christ
Himself. And what is the search for spiritual truth in the Laws of
Nature but an attempt to utter the parables which have been hid so long
in the world around without a preacher, and to tell men at once more
that the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto this and to that?


The Law of Continuity having been referred to already as a prominent
factor in this inquiry, it may not be out of place to sustain the plea
for Natural Law in the Spiritual Sphere by a brief statement and
application of this great principle. The Law of Continuity furnishes an
_a priori_ argument for the position we are attempting to establish of
the most convincing kind--of such a kind, indeed, as to seem to our mind
final. Briefly indicated, the ground taken up is this, that if Nature be
a harmony, Man in all his relations--physical, mental, moral, and
spiritual--falls to be included within its circle. It is altogether
unlikely that man spiritual should be violently separated in all the
conditions of growth, development, and life, from man physical. It is
indeed difficult to conceive that one set of principles should guide the
natural life, and these at a certain period--the very point where they
are needed--suddenly give place to another set of principles altogether
new and unrelated. Nature has never taught us to expect such a
catastrophe. She has nowhere prepared us for it. And Man cannot in the
nature of things, in the nature of thought, in the nature of language,
be separated into two such incoherent halves.

The spiritual man, it is true, is to be studied in a different
department of science from the natural man. But the harmony established
by science is not a harmony within specific departments. It is the
universe that is the harmony, the universe of which these are but parts.
And the harmonies of the parts depend for all their weight and interest
on the harmony of the whole. While, therefore, there are many
harmonies, there is but one harmony. The breaking up of the phenomena of
the universe into carefully guarded groups, and the allocation of
certain prominent Laws to each, it must never be forgotten, and however
much Nature lends herself to it, are artificial. We find an evolution in
Botany, another in Geology, and another in Astronomy, and the effect is
to lead one insensibly to look upon these as three distinct evolutions.
But these sciences, of course, are mere departments created by ourselves
to facilitate knowledge--reductions of Nature to the scale of our own
intelligence. And we must beware of breaking up Nature except for this
purpose. Science has so dissected everything, that it becomes a mental
difficulty to put the puzzle together again; and we must keep ourselves
in practice by constantly thinking of Nature as a whole, if science is
not to be spoiled by its own refinements. Evolution being found in so
many different sciences, the likelihood is that it is a universal
principle. And there is no presumption whatever against this Law and
many others being excluded from the domain of the spiritual life. On the
other hand, there are very convincing reasons why the Natural Laws
should be continuous through the Spiritual Sphere--not changed in any
way to meet the new circumstances, but continuous as they stand.

But to the exposition. One of the most striking generalizations of
recent science is that even Laws have their Law. Phenomena first, in the
progress of knowledge, were grouped together, and Nature shortly
presented the spectacle of a cosmos, the lines of beauty being the great
Natural Laws. So long, however, as these Laws were merely great lines
running through Nature, so long as they remained isolated from one
another, the system of Nature was still incomplete. The principle which
sought Law among phenomena had to go further and seek a Law among the
Laws. Laws themselves accordingly came to be treated as they treated
phenomena, and found themselves finally grouped in a still narrower
circle. That inmost circle is governed by one great Law, the Law of
Continuity. It is the Law for Laws.

It is perhaps significant that few exact definitions of Continuity are
to be found. Even in Sir W. R. Grove's famous paper,[21] the
fountain-head of the modern form of this far from modern truth, there is
no attempt at definition. In point of fact, its sweep is so magnificent,
it appeals so much more to the imagination than to the reason, that men
have preferred to exhibit rather than to define it. Its true greatness
consists in the final impression it leaves on the mind with regard to
the uniformity of Nature. For it was reserved for the Law of Continuity
to put the finishing touch to the harmony of the universe.

Probably the most satisfactory way to secure for one's self a just
appreciation of the Principle of Continuity is to try to conceive the
universe without it. The opposite of a continuous universe would be a
discontinuous universe, an incoherent and irrelevant universe--as
irrelevant in all its ways of doing things as an irrelevant person. In
effect, to withdraw Continuity from the universe would be the same as to
withdraw reason from an individual. The universe would run deranged; the
world would be a mad world.

There used to be a children's book which bore the fascinating title of
"The Chance World." It described a world in which everything happened by
chance. The sun might rise or it might not; or it might appear at any
hour, or the moon might come up instead. When children were born they
might have one head or a dozen heads, and those heads might not be on
their shoulders--there might be no shoulders--but arranged about the
limbs. If one jumped up in the air it was impossible to predict whether
he would ever come down again. That he came down yesterday was no
guarantee that he would do it next time. For every day antecedent and
consequent varied, and gravitation and everything else changed from
hour to hour. To-day a child's body might be so light that it was
impossible for it to descend from its chair to the floor; but to-morrow,
in attempting the experiment again, the impetus might drive it through a
three-story house and dash it to pieces somewhere near the center of the
earth. In this chance world cause and effect were abolished. Law was
annihilated. And the result to the inhabitants of such a world could
only be that reason would be impossible. It would be a lunatic world
with a population of lunatics.

Now this is no more than a real picture of what the world would be
without Law, or the universe without Continuity. And hence we come in
sight of the necessity of some principle of Law according to which Laws
shall be, and be "continuous" throughout the system. Man as a rational
and moral being demands a pledge that if he depends on Nature for any
given result on the ground that Nature has previously led him to expect
such a result, his intellect shall not be insulted, nor his confidence
in her abused. If he is to trust Nature, in short, it must be guaranteed
to him that in doing so he will "never be put to confusion." The authors
of the _Unseen Universe_ conclude their examination of this principle by
saying that "assuming the existence of a supreme Governor of the
universe, the Principle of Continuity may be said to be the definite
expression in words of our trust that He will not put us to permanent
intellectual confusion, and we can easily conceive similar expressions
of trust with reference to the other faculties of man."[22] Or, as it
has been well put elsewhere, Continuity is the expression of "the Divine
Veracity in Nature."[23] The most striking examples of the
continuousness of Law are perhaps those furnished by Astronomy,
especially in connection with the more recent applications of spectrum
analysis. But even in the case of the simpler Laws the demonstration is
complete. There is no reason apart from Continuity to expect that
gravitation for instance should prevail outside our world. But wherever
matter has been detected throughout the entire universe, whether in the
form of star or planet, comet or meteorite, it is found to obey that
Law. "If there were no other indication of unity than this, it would be
almost enough. For the unity which is implied in the mechanism of the
heavens is indeed a unity which is all-embracing and complete. The
structure of our own bodies, with all that depends upon it, is a
structure governed by, and therefore adapted to, the same force of
gravitation which has determined the form and the movements of myriads
of worlds. Every part of the human organism is fitted to conditions
which would all be destroyed in a moment if the forces of gravitation
were to change or fail."[24]

But it is unnecessary to multiply illustrations. Having defined the
principle we may proceed at once to apply it. And the argument may be
summed up in a sentence. As the Natural Laws are continuous through the
universe of matter and of space, so will they be continuous through the
universe of spirit.

If this be denied, what then? Those who deny it must furnish the
disproof. The argument is founded on a principle which is now
acknowledged to be universal; and the _onus_ of disproof must lie with
those who may be bold enough to take up the position that a region
exists where at last the Principle of Continuity fails. To do this one
would first have to overturn Nature, then science, and last, the human

It may seem an obvious objection that many of the Natural Laws have no
connection whatever with the Spiritual World, and as a matter of fact
are not continued through it. Gravitation for instance--what direct
application has that in the Spiritual World? The reply is threefold.
First, there is no proof that it does not hold there. If the spirit be
in any sense material it certainly must hold. In the second place,
gravitation may hold for the Spiritual Sphere although it cannot be
directly proved. The spirit may be armed with powers which enable it to
rise superior to gravity. During the action of these powers gravity need
be no more suspended than in the case of a plant which rises in the air
during the process of growth. It does this in virtue of a higher Law and
in apparent defiance of the lower. Thirdly, if the spiritual be not
material it still cannot be said that gravitation ceases at that point
to be continuous. It is not gravitation that ceases--it is matter.

This point, however, will require development for another reason. In the
case of the plant just referred to, there is a principle of growth or
vitality at work superseding the attraction of gravity. Why is there no
trace of that Law in the Inorganic world? Is not this another instance
of the discontinuousness of Law? If the Law of vitality has so little
connection with the Inorganic kingdom--less even than gravitation with
the Spiritual, what becomes of Continuity? Is it not evident that each
kingdom of Nature has its own set of Laws which continue possibly
untouched for the specific kingdom but never extend beyond it?

It is quite true that when we pass from the Inorganic to the Organic, we
come upon a new set of Laws. But the reason why the lower set do not
seem to act in the higher sphere is not that they are annihilated, but
that they are overruled. And the reason why the higher Laws are not
found operating in the lower is not because they are not continuous
downward, but because there is nothing for them there to act upon. It is
not Law that fails, but opportunity. The biological Laws are continuous
for life. Wherever there is life, that is to say, they will be found
acting, just as gravitation acts wherever there is matter.

We have purposely, in the last paragraph, indulged in a fallacy. We
have said that the biological Laws would certainly be continuous in the
lower or mineral sphere were there anything there for them to act upon.
Now Laws do not act upon anything. It has been stated already, although
apparently it cannot be too abundantly emphasized, that Laws are only
modes of operation, not themselves operators. The accurate statement,
therefore, would be that the biological Laws would be continuous in the
lower sphere were there anything there for them, not to act upon, but to
keep in order. If there is no acting going on, if there is nothing being
kept in order, the responsibility does not lie with Continuity. The Law
will always be at its post, not only when its services are required, but
wherever they are possible.

Attention is drawn to this, for it is a correction one will find one's
self compelled often to make in his thinking. It is so difficult to keep
out of mind the idea of substance in connection with the Natural Laws,
the idea that they are the movers, the essences, the energies, that one
is constantly on the verge of falling into false conclusions. Thus a
hasty glance at the present argument on the part of any one
ill-furnished enough to confound Law with substance or with cause would
probably lead to its immediate rejection. For, to continue the same line
of illustration, it might next be urged that such a Law as Biogenesis,
which, as we hope to show afterward, is the fundamental Law of life for
both the natural and spiritual worlds, can have no application
whatsoever in the latter sphere. The _life_ with which it deals in the
Natural World does not enter at all into the Spiritual World, and
therefore, it might be argued, the Law of Biogenesis cannot be capable
of extension into it. The Law of Continuity seems to be snapped at the
point where the natural passes into the spiritual. The vital principle
of the body is a different thing from the vital principle of the
spiritual life. Biogenesis deals with βιος, with the natural life, with
cells and germs, and as there are no exactly similar cells and germs in
the Spiritual World, the Law cannot therefore apply. All which is as
true as if one were to say that the fifth proposition of the First Book
of Euclid applies when the figures are drawn with chalk upon a
blackboard, but fails with regard to structures of wood or stone.

The proposition is continuous for the whole world, and, doubtless,
likewise for the sun and moon and stars. The same universality may be
predicated likewise for the Law of life. Wherever there is life we may
expect to find it arranged, ordered, governed according to the same Law.
At the beginning of the natural life we find the Law that natural life
can only come from preëxisting natural life; and at the beginning of the
spiritual life we find that the spiritual life can only come from
preëxisting spiritual life. But there are not two Laws; there is
one--Biogenesis. At one end the Law is dealing with matter, at the other
with spirit. The qualitative terms natural and spiritual make no
difference. Biogenesis is the Law for all life and for all kinds of
life, and the particular substance with which it is associated is as
indifferent to Biogenesis as it is to Gravitation. Gravitation will act
whether the substance be suns and stars, or grains of sand, or
raindrops. Biogenesis, in like manner, will act wherever there is life.

The conclusion finally is, that from the nature of Law in general, and
from the scope of the Principle of Continuity in particular, the Laws of
the natural life must be those of the spiritual life. This does not
exclude, observe, the possibility of there being new Laws in addition
within the Spiritual Sphere; nor does it even include the supposition
that the old Laws will be the conspicuous Laws of the Spiritual World,
both which points will be dealt with presently. It simply asserts that
whatever else may be found, these must be found there; that they must be
there though they may not be seen there; and that they must project
beyond there if there be anything beyond there. If the Law of Continuity
is true, the only way to escape the conclusion that the Laws of the
natural life are the Laws, or at least are Laws, of the spiritual life,
is to say that there is no spiritual life. It is really easier to give
up the phenomena than to give up the Law.

Two questions now remain for further consideration--one bearing on the
possibility of new Law in the spiritual; the other, on the assumed
invisibility or inconspicuousness of the old Laws on account of their
subordination to the new.

Let us begin by conceding that there may be new Laws. The argument might
then be advanced that since, in Nature generally, we come upon new Laws
as we pass from lower to higher kingdoms, the old still remaining in
force, the newer Laws which one would expect to meet in the Spiritual
World would so transcend and overwhelm the older as to make the analogy
or identity, even if traced, of no practical use. The new Laws would
represent operations and energies so different, and so much more
elevated, that they would afford the true keys to the Spiritual World.
As Gravitation is practically lost sight of when we pass into the domain
of life, so Biogenesis would be lost sight of as we enter the Spiritual

We must first separate in this statement the old confusion of Law and
energy. Gravitation is not lost sight of in the organic world. Gravity
may be, to a certain extent, but not Gravitation; and gravity only where
a higher power counteracts its action. At the same time it is not to be
denied that the conspicuous thing in Organic Nature is not the great
Inorganic Law.

But the objection turns upon the statement that reasoning from analogy
we should expect, in turn, to lose sight of Biogenesis as we enter the
Spiritual Sphere. One answer to which is that, as a matter of fact, we
do not lose sight of it. So far from being invisible, it lies across the
very threshold of the Spiritual World, and, as we shall see, pervades it
everywhere. What we lose sight of, to a certain extent, is the natural
βιος. In the Spiritual World that is not the conspicuous thing, and it
is obscure there just as gravity becomes obscure in the Organic, because
something higher, more potent, more characteristic of the higher plane,
comes in. That there are higher energies, so to speak, in the Spiritual
World is, of course, to be affirmed alike on the ground of analogy and
of experience; but it does not follow that these necessitate other Laws.
A Law has nothing to do with potency. We may lose sight of a substance,
or of an energy, but it is an abuse of language to talk of losing sight
of Laws.

Are there, then, no other Laws in the Spiritual World except those which
are the projections or extensions of Natural Laws? From the number of
Natural Laws which are found in the higher sphere, from the large
territory actually embraced by them, and from their special prominence
throughout the whole region, it may at least be answered that the margin
left for them is small. But if the objection is pressed that it is
contrary to the analogy, and unreasonable in itself, that there should
not be new Laws for this higher sphere, the reply is obvious. Let these
Laws be produced. If the spiritual nature, in inception, growth, and
development, does not follow natural principles, let the true principles
be stated and explained. We have not denied that there may be new Laws.
One would almost be surprised if there were not. The mass of material
handed over from the natural to the spiritual, continuous, apparently,
from the natural to the spiritual, is so great that till that is worked
out it will be impossible to say what space is still left unembraced by
Laws that are known. At present it is impossible even approximately to
estimate the size of that supposed _terra incognita_. From one point of
view it ought to be vast, from another extremely small. But however
large the region governed by the suspected new Laws may be that cannot
diminish by a hair's-breadth the size of the territory where the old
Laws still prevail. That territory itself, relatively to us though
perhaps not absolutely, must be of great extent. The size of the key
which is to open it, that is, the size of all the Natural Laws which can
be found to apply, is a guarantee that the region of the knowable in the
Spiritual World is at least as wide as these regions of the Natural
World which by the help of these Laws have been explored. No doubt also
there yet remain some Natural Laws to be discovered, and these in time
may have a further light to shed on the spiritual field. Then we may
know all that is? By no means. We may only know all that may be known.
And that may be very little. The Sovereign Will which sways the scepter
of that invisible empire must be granted a right of freedom--that
freedom which by putting it into our wills He surely teaches us to honor
in His. In much of His dealing with us also, in what may be called the
paternal relation, there may seem no special Law--no Law except the
highest of all, that Law of which all other Laws are parts, that Law
which neither Nature can wholly reflect nor the mind begin to
fathom--the Law of Love. He adds nothing to that, however, who loses
sight of all other Laws in that, nor does he take from it who finds
specific Laws everywhere radiating from it.

With regard to the supposed new Laws of the Spiritual World--those Laws,
that is, which are found for the first time in the Spiritual World, and
have no analogies lower down--there is this to be said, that there is
one strong reason against exaggerating either their number or
importance--their importance at least for our immediate needs. The
connection between language and the Law of Continuity has been referred
to incidentally already. It is clear that we can only express the
Spiritual Laws in language borrowed from the visible universe. Being
dependent for our vocabulary on images, if an altogether new and foreign
set of Laws existed in the Spiritual World, they could never take shape
as definite ideas from mere want of words. The hypothetical new Laws
which may remain to be discovered in the domain of Natural or Mental
Science may afford some index of these hypothetical higher Laws, but
this would of course mean that the latter were no longer foreign but in
analogy, or, likelier still, identical. If, on the other hand, the
Natural Laws of the future have nothing to say of these higher Laws,
what can be said of them? Where is the language to come from in which to
frame them? If their disclosure could be of any practical use to us, we
may be sure the clue to them, the revelation of them, in some way would
have been put into Nature. If, on the contrary, they are not to be of
immediate use to man, it is better they should not embarrass him. After
all, then, our knowledge of higher Law must be limited by our knowledge
of the lower. The Natural Laws as at present known, whatever additions
may yet be made to them, give a fair rendering of the facts of Nature.
And their analogies or their projections in the Spiritual sphere may
also be said to offer a fair account of that sphere, or of one or two
conspicuous departments of it. The time has come for that account to be
given. The greatest among the theological Laws are the Laws of Nature in
disguise. It will be the splendid task of the theology of the future to
take off the mask and disclose to a waning scepticism the naturalness of
the supernatural.

It is almost singular that the identification of the Laws of the
Spiritual World with the Laws of Nature should so long have escaped
recognition. For apart from the probability on _a priori_ grounds, it is
involved in the whole structure of Parable. When any two Phenomena in
the two spheres are seen to be analogous, the parallelism must depend
upon the fact that the Laws governing them are not analogous but
identical. And yet this basis for Parable seems to have been overlooked.
Thus Principal Shairp:--"This seeing of Spiritual truths mirrored in the
face of Nature rests not on any fancied, but in a real analogy between
the natural and the spiritual worlds. They are _in some sense which
science has not ascertained_, but which the vital and religious
imagination can perceive, counterparts one of the other."[25] But is not
this the explanation, that parallel Phenomena depend upon identical
Laws? It is a question indeed whether one can speak of Laws at all as
being analogous. Phenomena are parallel, Laws which make them so are
themselves one.

In discussing the relations of the Natural and Spiritual kingdom, it has
been all but implied hitherto that the Spiritual Laws were framed
originally on the plan of the Natural; and the impression one might
receive in studying the two worlds for the first time from the side of
analogy would naturally be that the lower world was formed first, as a
kind of scaffolding on which the higher and Spiritual should be
afterward raised. Now the exact opposite has been the case. The first in
the field was the Spiritual World.

It is not necessary to reproduce here in detail the argument which has
been stated recently with so much force in the "Unseen Universe." The
conclusion of that work remains still unassailed, that the visible
universe has been developed from the unseen. Apart from the general
proof from the Law of Continuity, the more special grounds of such a
conclusion are, first, the fact insisted upon by Herschel and
Clerk-Maxwell that the atoms of which the visible universe is built up
bear distinct marks of being manufactured articles; and, secondly, the
origin in time of the visible universe is implied from known facts with
regard to the dissipation of energy. With the gradual aggregation of
mass the energy of the universe has been slowly disappearing, and this
loss of energy must go on until none remains. There is, therefore, a
point in time when the energy of the universe must come to an end; and
that which has its end in time cannot be infinite, it must also have had
a beginning in time. Hence the unseen existed before the seen.

There is nothing so especially exalted therefore in the Natural Laws in
themselves as to make one anxious to find them blood relations of the
Spiritual. It is not only because these Laws are on the ground, more
accessible therefore to us who are but groundlings; not only, as the
"Unseen Universe" points out in another connection, "because they are at
the bottom of the list--are in fact the simplest and lowest--that they
are capable of being most readily grasped by the finite intelligences of
the universe."[26] But their true significance lies in the fact that
they are on the list at all, and especially in that the list is the same
list. Their dignity is not as Natural Laws, but as Spiritual Laws, Laws
which, as already said, at one end are dealing with Matter, and at the
other with Spirit. "The physical properties of matter form the alphabet
which is put into our hands by God, the study of which, if properly
conducted, will enable us more perfectly to read that great book which
we call the 'Universe.'"[27] But, over and above this, the Natural Laws
will enable us to read that great duplicate which we call the "Unseen
Universe," and to think and live in fuller harmony with it. After all,
the true greatness of Law lies in its vision of the Unseen. Law in the
visible is the Invisible in the visible. And to speak of Laws as Natural
is to define them in their application to a part of the universe, the
sense-part, whereas a wider survey would lead us to regard all Law as
essentially Spiritual. To magnify the Laws of Nature, as Laws of this
small world of ours, is to take a provincial view of the universe. Law
is great not because the phenomenal world is great, but because these
vanishing lines are the avenues into the eternal Order. "It is less
reverent to regard the universe as an illimitable avenue which leads up
to God, than to look upon it as a limited area bounded by an
impenetrable wall, which, if we could only pierce it would admit us at
once into the presence of the Eternal?"[28] Indeed the authors of the
"Unseen Universe" demur even to the expression _material universe_,
since, as they tell us "Matter is (though it may seem paradoxical to say
so) the less important half of the material of the physical
universe."[29] And even Mr. Huxley, though in a different sense, assures
us, with Descartes, "that we know more of mind than we do of body; that
the immaterial world is a firmer reality than the material."[30]

How the priority of the Spiritual improves the strength and meaning of
the whole argument will be seen at once. The lines of the Spiritual
existed first, and it was natural to expect that when the "Intelligence
resident in the 'Unseen'" proceeded to frame the material universe He
should go upon the lines already laid down. He would, in short, simply
project the higher Laws downward, so that the Natural World would become
an incarnation, a visible representation, a working model of the
spiritual. The whole function of the material world lies here. The world
is only a thing that is; it is not. It is a thing that teaches, yet not
even a thing--a show that shows, a teaching shadow. However useless the
demonstration otherwise, philosophy does well in proving that matter is
a non-entity. We work with it as the mathematician with an _x_. The
reality is alone the Spiritual. "It is very well for physicists to speak
of 'matter,' but for men generally to call this 'a material world' is an
absurdity. Should we call it an _x_-world it would mean as much, viz.,
that we do not know what it is."[31] When shall we learn the true
mysticism of one who was yet far from being a mystic--"We look not at
the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the
things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen
are eternal?"[32] The visible is the ladder up to the invisible; the
temporal is but the scaffolding of the eternal. And when the last
immaterial souls have climbed through this material to God, the
scaffolding shall be taken down, and the earth dissolved with fervent
heat--not because it was base, but because its work is done.


[3] "Reign of Law," chap. ii.

[4] "Animal Kingdom."

[5] "Sartor Resartus," 1858 Ed., p. 43.

[6] Even parable, however, has always been considered to have attached
to it a measure of evidential as well as of illustrative value. Thus:
"The parable or other analogy to spiritual truth appropriated from the
world of nature or man, is not merely illustrative, but also in some
sort proof. It is not merely that these analogies assist to make the
truth intelligible or, if intelligible before, present it more vividly
to the mind, which is all that some will allow them. Their power lies
deeper than this, in the harmony unconsciously felt by all men, and
which all deeper minds have delighted to trace, between the natural and
spiritual worlds, so that analogies from the first are felt to be
something more than illustrations happily but yet arbitrarily chosen.
They are arguments, and may be alleged as witnesses; the world of nature
being throughout a witness for the world of spirit, proceeding from the
same hand, growing out of the same root, and being constituted for that
very end."--(Archbishop Trench: "Parables," pp. 12, 13.)

[7] Mill's "Logic," vol. ii. p. 96.

[8] Campbell's "Rhetoric," vol. i. p. 114.

[9] "Nature and the Supernatural," p. 19.

[10] "The Scientific Basis of Faith." By J. J. Murphy, p. 466.

[11] Op. cit., p. 333.

[12] _Ibid._, p. 333.

[13] _Ibid._, p. 331.

[14] "Analogy," chap. vii.

[15] "Unseen Universe," 6th Ed., pp. 89, 90.

[16] "Essays," vol. i. p. 40.

[17] "A Modern Symposium."--_Nineteenth Century_, vol. i. p. 625.

[18] Beck: "Bib. Psychol.," Clark's Tr., Pref., 2d Ed., p. xiii.

[19] "First Principles," p. 161.

[20] Wordsworth's _Excursion_, Book iv.

[21] "The Correlation of Physical Forces," 6th Ed., p. 181 _et seq._

[22] "Unseen Universe," 6th Ed., p. 88.

[23] "Old Faiths in New Light," by Newman Smith. Unwin's English
edition, p. 252.

[24] The Duke of Argyll: _Contemporary Review_, Sept., 1880, p. 358.

[25] "Poetic Interpretation of Nature," p. 115.

[26] 6th edition, p. 235.

[27] _Ibid._, p. 286.

[28] "Unseen Universe," p. 96.

[29] "Unseen Universe," p. 100.

[30] "Science and Culture," p. 259.

[31] Hinton's "Philosophy and Religion," p. 40.

[32] 2 Cor. iv. 18.


    "What we require is no new Revelation, but simply an adequate
    conception of the true essence of Christianity. And I believe that,
    as time goes on, the work of the Holy Spirit will be continuously
    shown in the gradual insight which the human race will attain into
    the true essence of the Christian religion. I am thus of opinion
    that a standing miracle exists, and that it has ever existed--a
    direct and continued influence exerted by the supernatural on the
    natural."--_Paradoxical Philosophy._

    "He that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son of God
    hath not Life."--_John._

    "Omne vivum ex vivo."--_Harvey._

For two hundred years the scientific world has been rent with
discussions upon the Origin of Life. Two great schools have defended
exactly opposite views--one that matter can spontaneously generate life,
the other that life can only come from preëxisting life. The doctrine of
Spontaneous Generation, as the first is called, has been revived within
recent years by Dr. Bastian, after a series of elaborate experiments on
the Beginnings of Life. Stated in his own words, his conclusion is this:
"Both observation and experiment unmistakably testify to the fact that
living matter is constantly being formed _de novo_, in obedience to the
same laws and tendencies which determined all the more simple chemical
combinations."[33] Life, that is to say, is not the Gift of Life. It is
capable of springing into being of itself. It can be Spontaneously

This announcement called into the field a phalanx of observers, and the
highest authorities in biological science engaged themselves afresh
upon the problem. The experiments necessary to test the matter can be
followed or repeated by any one possessing the slightest manipulative
skill. Glass vessels are three-parts filled with infusions of hay or any
organic matter. They are boiled to kill all germs of life, and
hermetically sealed to exclude the outer air. The air inside, having
been exposed to the boiling temperature for many hours, is supposed to
be likewise dead; so that any life which may subsequently appear in the
closed flasks must have sprung into being of itself. In Bastian's
experiments, after every expedient to secure sterility, life did appear
inside in myriad quantity. Therefore, he argued, it was spontaneously

But the phalanx of observers found two errors in this calculation.
Professor Tyndall repeated the same experiment, only with a precaution
to insure absolute sterility suggested by the most recent science--a
discovery of his own. After every care, he conceived there might still
be undestroyed germs in the air inside the flasks. If the air were
absolutely germless and pure, would the myriad-life appear? He
manipulated his experimental vessels in an atmosphere which under the
high test of optical purity--the most delicate known test--was
absolutely germless. Here not a vestige of life appeared. He varied the
experiment in every direction, but matter in the germless air never
yielded life.

The other error was detected by Mr. Dallinger. He found among the lower
forms of life the most surprising and indestructible vitality. Many
animals could survive much higher temperatures than Dr. Bastian had
applied to annihilate them. Some germs almost refused to be
annihilated--they were all but fire-proof.

These experiments have practically closed the question. A decided and
authoritative conclusion has now taken its place in science. So far as
science can settle anything, this question is settled. The attempt to
get the living out of the dead has failed. Spontaneous Generation has
had to be given up. And it is now recognized on every hand that Life can
only come from the touch of Life. Huxley categorically announces that
the doctrine of Biogenesis, or life only from life, is "victorious along
the whole line at the present day."[34] And even while confessing that
he wishes the evidence were the other way, Tyndall is compelled to say,
"I affirm that no shred of trustworthy experimental testimony exists to
prove that life in our day has ever appeared independently of antecedent

For much more than two hundred years a similar discussion has dragged
its length through the religious world. Two great schools here also have
defended exactly opposite views--one that the Spiritual Life in man can
only come from preëxisting Life, the other that it can Spontaneously
Generate itself. Taking its stand upon the initial statement of the
Author of the Spiritual Life, one small school, in the face of derision
and opposition, has persistently maintained the doctrine of Biogenesis.
Another, larger and with greater pretension to philosophic form, has
defended Spontaneous Generation. The weakness of the former school
consists--though this has been much exaggerated--in its more or less
general adherence to the extreme view that religion had nothing to do
with the natural life; the weakness of the latter lay in yielding to the
more fatal extreme that it had nothing to do with anything else. That
man, being a worshiping animal by nature, ought to maintain certain
relations to the Supreme Being, was indeed to some extent conceded by
the naturalistic school, but religion itself we looked upon as a thing
to be spontaneously generated by the evolution of character in the
laboratory of common life.

The difference between the two positions is radical. Translating from
the language of Science into that of Religion, the theory of
Spontaneous Generation is simply that a man may become gradually better
and better until in course of the process he reaches that quantity of
religious nature known as Spiritual Life. This Life is not something
added _ab extra_ to the natural man; it is the normal and appropriate
development of the natural man. Biogenesis opposes to this the whole
doctrine of Regeneration. The Spiritual Life is the gift of the Living
Spirit. The spiritual man is no mere development of the natural man. He
is a New Creation born from Above. As well expect a hay infusion to
become gradually more and more living until in course of the process it
reached Vitality, as expect a man by becoming better and better to
attain the Eternal Life.

The advocates of Biogenesis in Religion have founded their argument
hitherto all but exclusively on Scripture. The relation of the doctrine
to the constitution and course of Nature was not disclosed. Its
importance, therefore, was solely as a dogma; and being directly
concerned with the Supernatural, it was valid for those alone who chose
to accept the Supernatural.

Yet it has been keenly felt by those who attempt to defend this doctrine
of the origin of the Spiritual Life, that they have nothing more to
oppose to the rationalistic view than the _ipse dixit_ of Revelation.
The argument from experience, in the nature of the case, is seldom easy
to apply, and Christianity has always found at this point a genuine
difficulty in meeting the challenge of Natural Religions. The direct
authority of Nature, using Nature in its limited sense, was not here to
be sought for. On such a question its voice was necessarily silent; and
all that the apologist could look for lower down was a distant echo or
analogy. All that is really possible, indeed, is such an analogy; and if
that can now be found in Biogenesis, Christianity in its most central
position secures at length a support and basis in the Laws of Nature.

Up to the present time the analogy required has not been forthcoming.
There was no known parallel in Nature for the spiritual phenomena in
question. But now the case is altered. With the elevation of Biogenesis
to the rank of a scientific fact, all problems concerning the Origin of
Life are placed on a different footing. And it remains to be seen
whether Religion cannot at once reaffirm and re-shape its argument in
the light of this modern truth.

If the doctrine of the Spontaneous Generation of Spiritual Life can be
met on scientific grounds, it will mean the removal of the most serious
enemy Christianity has to deal with, and especially within its own
borders, at the present day. The religion of Jesus has probably always
suffered more from those who have misunderstood than from those who have
opposed it. Of the multitudes who confess Christianity at this hour how
many have clear in their minds the cardinal distinction established by
its Founder between "born of the flesh" and "born of the Spirit?" By how
many teachers of Christianity even is not this fundamental postulate
persistently ignored? A thousand modern pulpits every seventh day are
preaching the doctrine of Spontaneous Generation. The finest and best of
recent poetry is colored with this same error. Spontaneous Generation is
the leading theology of the modern religious or irreligious novel; and
much of the most serious and cultured writing of the day devotes itself
to earnest preaching of this impossible gospel. The current conception
of the Christian religion in short--the conception which is held not
only popularly but by men of culture--is founded upon a view of its
origin which, if it were true, would render the whole scheme abortive.

Let us first place vividly in our imagination the picture of the two
great Kingdoms of Nature, the inorganic and organic, as these now stand
in the light of the Law of Biogenesis. What essentially is involved in
saying that there is no Spontaneous Generation of Life? It is meant that
the passage from the mineral world to the plant or animal world is
hermetically sealed on the mineral side. This inorganic world is staked
off from the living world by barriers which have never yet been crossed
from within. No change of substance, no modification of environment, no
chemistry, no electricity, nor any form of energy, nor any evolution can
endow any single atom of the mineral world with the attribute of Life.
Only by the bending down into this dead world of some living form can
these dead atoms be gifted with the properties of vitality, without this
preliminary contact with Life they remain fixed in the inorganic sphere
forever. It is a very mysterious Law which guards in this way the
portals of the living world. And if there is one thing in Nature more
worth pondering for its strangeness it is the spectacle of this vast
helpless world of the dead cut off from the living by the Law of
Biogenesis and denied forever the possibility of resurrection within
itself. So very strange a thing, indeed, is this broad line in Nature,
that Science has long and urgently sought to obliterate it. Biogenesis
stands in the way of some forms of Evolution with such stern persistency
that the assaults upon this Law for number and thoroughness have been
unparalleled. But, as we have seen, it has stood the test. Nature, to
the modern eye, stands broken in two. The physical Laws may explain the
inorganic world; the biological Laws may account for the development of
the organic. But of the point where they meet, of that strange
borderland between the dead and the living, Science is silent. It is as
if God had placed everything in earth and heaven in the hands of Nature,
but reserved a point at the genesis of Life for His direct appearing.

The power of the analogy, for which we are laying the foundations, to
seize and impress the mind, will largely depend on the vividness with
which one realizes the gulf which Nature places between the living and
the dead.[36] But those who, in contemplating Nature, have found their
attention arrested by this extraordinary dividing-line severing the
visible universe eternally into two; those who in watching the progress
of science have seen barrier after barrier disappear--barrier between
plant and plant, between animal and animal, and even between animal and
plant--but this gulf yawn more hopelessly wide with every advance of
knowledge, will be prepared to attach a significance to the Law of
Biogenesis and its analogies more profound perhaps than to any other
fact or law in Nature. If, as Pascal says, Nature is an image of grace;
if the things that are seen are in any sense the images of the unseen,
there must lie in this great gulf fixed, this most unique and startling
of all natural phenomena, a meaning of peculiar moment.

Where now in the Spiritual spheres shall we meet a companion phenomena
to this? What in the Unseen shall be likened to this deep dividing-line,
or where in human experience is another barrier which never can be

There is such a barrier. In the dim but not inadequate vision of the
Spiritual World presented in the Word of God, the first thing that
strikes the eye is a great gulf fixed. The passage from the Natural
World to the Spiritual World is hermetically sealed on the natural side.
The door from the inorganic to the organic is shut, no mineral can open
it; so the door from the natural to the spiritual is shut, and no man
can open it. This world of natural men is staked off from the Spiritual
World by barriers which have never yet been crossed from within. No
organic change, no modification of environment, no mental energy, no
moral effort, no evolution of character, no progress of civilization can
endow any single human soul with the attribute of Spiritual Life. The
Spiritual World is guarded from the world next in order beneath it by a
law of Biogenesis--_except a man be born again ... except a man be born
of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God_.

It is not said, in this enunciation of the law, that if the condition be
not fulfilled the natural man _will not_ enter the Kingdom of God. The
word is _cannot_. For the exclusion of the spiritually inorganic from
the Kingdom of the spiritually organic is not arbitrary. Nor is the
natural man refused admission on unexplained grounds. His admission is a
scientific impossibility. Except a mineral be born "from above"--from
the Kingdom just _above_ it--it cannot enter the Kingdom just above it.
And except a man be born "from above," by the same law, he cannot enter
the Kingdom just above him. There being no passage from one Kingdom to
another, whether from inorganic to organic, or from organic to
spiritual, the intervention of Life is a scientific necessity if a stone
or a plant or an animal or a man is to pass from a lower to a higher
sphere. The plant stretches down to the dead world beneath it, touches
its minerals and gases with its mystery of Life, and brings them up
ennobled and transformed to the living sphere. The breath of God,
blowing where it listeth, touches with its mystery of Life the dead
souls of men, bears them across the bridgeless gulf between the natural
and the spiritual, between the spiritually inorganic and the spiritually
organic, endows them with its own high qualities, and develops within
them these new and secret faculties, by which those who are born again
are said to _see the Kingdom of God_.

What is the evidence for this great gulf fixed at the portals of the
Spiritual World? Does Science close this gate, or Reason, or Experience,
or Revelation? We reply, all four. The initial statement, it is not to
be denied, reaches us from Revelation. But is not this evidence here in
court? Or shall it be said that any argument deduced from this is a
transparent circle--that after all we simply come back to the
unsubstantiality of the _ipse dixit_? Not altogether, for the analogy
lends an altogether new authority to the _ipse dixit_. How substantial
that argument really is, is seldom realized. We yield the point here
much too easily. The right of the Spiritual World to speak of its own
phenomena is as secure as the right of the Natural World to speak of
itself. What is Science but what the Natural World has said to natural
men? What is Revelation but what the Spiritual World has said to
Spiritual men? Let us at least ask what Revelation has announced with
reference to this Spiritual Law of Biogenesis; afterward we shall
inquire whether Science, while indorsing the verdict, may not also have
some further vindication of its title to be heard.

The words of Scripture which preface this inquiry contain an explicit
and original statement of the Law of Biogenesis for the Spiritual Life.
"He that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son of God
hath not Life." Life, that is to say, depends upon contact with Life. It
cannot spring up of itself. It cannot develop out of anything that is
not Life. There is no Spontaneous Generation in religion any more than
in Nature. Christ is the source of Life in the Spiritual World; and he
that hath the Son hath Life, and he that hath not the Son, whatever else
he may have, hath not Life. Here, in short, is the categorical denial of
Abiogenesis and the establishment in this high field of the classical
formula _Omne vivum ex vivo_--no Life without antecedent Life. In this
mystical theory of the Origin of Life the whole of the New Testament
writers are agreed. And, as we have already seen, Christ Himself founds
Christianity upon Biogenesis stated in its most literal form. "Except a
man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the Kingdom
of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born
of the Spirit is Spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, ye must be
born again."[37] Why did He add _Marvel not_? Did He seek to allay the
fear in the bewildered ruler's mind that there was more in this novel
doctrine than a simple analogy from the first to the second birth?

The attitude of the natural man, again, with reference to the Spiritual,
is a subject on which the New Testament is equally pronounced. Not only
in his relation to the spiritual man, but to the whole Spiritual World,
the natural man is regarded as _dead_. He is as a crystal to an
organism. The natural world is to the Spiritual as the inorganic to the
organic. "To be carnally minded is _Death_."[38] "Thou hast a name to
live, but art _Dead_."[39] "She that liveth in pleasure is _Dead_ while
she liveth."[40] "To you he Hath given Life which were _Dead_ in
trespasses and sins."[41]

It is clear that a remarkable harmony exists here between the Organic
World as arranged by Science and the Spiritual World as arranged by
Scripture. We find one great Law guarding the thresholds of both worlds,
securing that entrance from a lower sphere shall only take place by a
direct regenerating act, and that emanating from the world next in order
above. There are not two laws of Biogenesis, one for the natural, the
other for the Spiritual; one law is for both. Wherever there is Life,
Life of any kind, this same law holds. The analogy, therefore, is only
among the phenomena; between laws there is no analogy--there is
Continuity. In either case, the first step in peopling these worlds
with the appropriate living forms is virtually miracle. Nor in one case
is there less of mystery in the act than in the other. The second birth
is scarcely less perplexing to the theologian than the first to the

A moment's reflection ought now to make it clear why in the Spiritual
World there had to be added to this mystery the further mystery of its
proclamation through the medium of Revelation. This is the point at
which the scientific man is apt to part company with the theologian. He
insists on having all things materialized before his eyes in Nature. If
Nature cannot discuss this with him, there is nothing to discuss. But
Nature can discuss this with him--only she cannot open the discussion or
supply all the material to begin with. If Science averred that she could
do this, the theologian this time must part company with such Science.
For any Science which makes such a demand is false to the doctrines of
Biogenesis. What is this but the demand that a lower world, hermetically
sealed against all communication with a world above it, should have a
mature and intelligent acquaintance with its phenomena and laws? Can the
mineral discourse to me of animal Life? Can it tell me what lies beyond
the narrow boundary of its inert being? Knowing nothing of other than
the chemical and physical laws, what is its criticism worth of the
principles of Biology? And even when some visitor from the upper world,
for example some root from a living tree, penetrating its dark recess,
honors it with a touch, will it presume to define the form and purpose
of its patron, or until the bioplasm has done its gracious work can it
even know that it is being touched? The barrier which separates Kingdoms
from one another restricts mind not less than matter. Any information of
the Kingdoms above it that could come to the mineral world could only
come by a communication from above. An analogy from the lower world
might make such communication intelligible as well as credible, but the
information in the first instance must be vouchsafed as a _revelation_.
Similarly if those in the organic Kingdom are to know anything of the
Spiritual World, that knowledge must at least begin as Revelation. Men
who reject this source of information, by the Law of Biogenesis, can
have no other. It is no spell of ignorance arbitrarily laid upon certain
members of the Organic Kingdom that prevents them reading the secrets of
the Spiritual World. It is a scientific necessity. No exposition of the
case could be more truly scientific than this: "The natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness
unto him: _neither can he know them_, because they are spiritually
discerned."[42] The verb here, it will be again observed, is potential.
This is not a dogma of theology, but a necessity of Science. And
Science, for the most part, has consistently accepted the situation. It
has always proclaimed its ignorance of the Spiritual World. When Mr.
Herbert Spencer affirms, "Regarding Science as a gradually increasing
sphere we may say that every addition to its surface does but bring it
into wider contact with surrounding nescience,"[43] from his standpoint
he is quite correct. The endeavors of well-meaning persons to show that
the Agnostic's position, when he asserts his ignorance of the Spiritual
World, is only a pretence; the attempts to prove that he really knows a
great deal about it if he would only admit it, are quite misplaced. He
really does not know. The verdict that the natural man receiveth not the
things of the Spirit of God, that they are foolishness unto him, that
_neither can he_ know them, is final as a statement of scientific
truth--a statement on which the entire Agnostic literature is simply one
long commentary.

We are now in a better position to follow out the more practical
bearings of Biogenesis. There is an immense region surrounding
Regeneration, a dark and perplexing region where men would be thankful
for any light. It may well be that Biogenesis in its many ramifications
may yet reach down to some of the deeper mysteries of the Spiritual
Life. But meantime there is much to define even on the surface. And for
the present we shall content ourselves by turning its light upon one or
two points of current interest.

It must long ago have appeared how decisive is the answer of Science to
the practical question with which we set out as to the possibility of a
Spontaneous Development of Spiritual Life in the individual soul. The
inquiry into the Origin of Life is the fundamental question alike of
Biology and Christianity. We can afford to enlarge upon it, therefore,
even at the risk of repetition. When men are offering us a Christianity
without a living Spirit, and a personal religion without _conversion_,
no emphasis or reiteration can be extreme. Besides, the clearness as
well as the definiteness of the Testimony of Nature to any Spiritual
truth is of immense importance. Regeneration has not merely been an
outstanding difficulty, but an overwhelming obscurity. Even to earnest
minds the difficulty of grasping the truth at all has always proved
extreme. Philosophically one scarcely sees either the necessity or the
possibility of being born again. Why a virtuous man should not simply
grow better and better until in his own right he enter the Kingdom of
God is what thousands honestly and seriously fail to understand. Now
Philosophy cannot help us here. Her arguments are, if anything, against
us. But Science answers to the appeal at once. If it be simply pointed
out that this is the same absurdity as to ask why a stone should not
grow more and more living till it enters the Organic World, the point is
clear in an instant.

What now, let us ask specifically, distinguishes a Christian man from a
non-Christian man? Is it that he has certain mental characteristics not
possessed by the other? Is it that certain faculties have been trained
in him, that morality assumes special and higher manifestations, and
character a nobler form? Is the Christian merely an ordinary man who
happens from birth to have been surrounded with a peculiar set of ideas?
Is his religion merely that peculiar quality of the moral life defined
by Mr. Matthew Arnold as "morality touched by emotion?" And does the
possession of a high ideal, benevolent sympathies, a reverent spirit,
and a favorable environment account for what men call his Spiritual

The distinction between them is the same as that between the Organic and
the Inorganic, the living and the dead. What is the difference between a
crystal and an organism, a stone and a plant? They have much in common.
Both are made of the same atoms. Both display the same properties of
matter. Both are subject to the Physical Laws. Both may be very
beautiful. But besides possessing all that the crystal has, the plant
possesses something more--a mysterious something called Life. This Life
is not something which existed in the crystal only in a less developed
form. There is nothing at all like it in the crystal. There is nothing
like the first beginning of it in the crystal, not a trace or symptom of
it. This plant is tenanted by something new, an original and unique
possession added over and above all the properties common to both. When
from vegetable Life we rise to animal Life, here again we find something
original and unique--unique at least as compared with the mineral. From
animal Life we ascend again to Spiritual Life. And here also is
something new, something still more unique. He who lives the Spiritual
Life has a distinct kind of Life added to all the other phases of Life
which he manifests--a kind of Life infinitely more distinct than is the
active Life of a plant from the inertia of a stone. The Spiritual man is
more distinct in point of fact than is the plant from the stone. This is
the one possible comparison in Nature, for it is the widest distinction
in Nature; but compared with the difference between the Natural and the
Spiritual the gulf which divides the organic from the inorganic is a
hair's-breadth. The natural man belongs essentially to this present
order of things. He is endowed simply with a high quality of the natural
animal Life. But it is Life of so poor a quality that it is not Life at
all. He that hath not the Son _hath not Life_; but he that hath the Son
hath Life--a new and distinct and supernatural endowment. He is not of
this world. He is of the timeless state, of Eternity. _It doth not yet
appear what he shall be._

The difference between the Spiritual man and the Natural man is not a
difference of development, but of generation. It is a distinction of
quality not of quantity. A man cannot rise by any natural development
from "morality touched by emotion," to "morality touched by Life." Were
we to construct a scientific classification, Science would compel us to
arrange all natural men, moral or immoral, educated or vulgar, as one
family. One might be high in the family group, another low; yet,
practically, they are marked by the same set of characteristics--they
eat, sleep, work, think, live, die. But the Spiritual man is removed
from this family so utterly by the possession of an additional
characteristic that a biologist, fully informed of the whole
circumstances, would not hesitate a moment to classify him elsewhere.
And if he really entered into these circumstances it would not be in
another family but in another Kingdom. It is an old-fashioned theology
which divides the world in this way--which speaks of men as Living and
Dead, Lost and Saved--a stern theology all but fallen into disuse. This
difference between the Living and the Dead in souls is so unproved by
casual observation, so impalpable in itself, so startling as a doctrine,
that schools of culture have ridiculed or denied the grim distinction.
Nevertheless the grim distinction must be retained. It is a scientific
distinction. "He that hath not the Son hath not Life."

Now it is this great Law which finally distinguishes Christianity from
all other religions. It places the religion of Christ upon a footing
altogether unique. There is no analogy between the Christian religion
and, say, Buddhism or the Mohammedan religion. There is no true sense in
which a man can say, He that hath Buddha hath Life. Buddha has nothing
to do with Life. He may have something to do with morality. He may
stimulate, impress, teach, guide, but there is no distinct new thing
added to the souls of those who profess Buddhism. These religions _may_
be developments of the natural, mental, or moral man. But Christianity
professes to be more. It is the mental or moral man _plus_ something
else or some One else. It is the infusion into the Spiritual man of a
New Life, of a quality unlike anything else in Nature. This constitutes
the separate Kingdom of Christ, and gives to Christianity alone of all
the religions of mankind the strange mark of Divinity.

Shall we next inquire more precisely what is this something extra which
constitutes Spiritual Life? What is this strange and new endowment in
its nature and vital essence? And the answer is brief--it is Christ. He
that hath _the Son_ hath Life.

Are we forsaking the lines of Science in saying so? Yes and No. Science
has drawn for us the distinction. It has no voice as to the nature of
the distinction except this--that the new endowment is a something
different from anything else with which it deals. It is not ordinary
Vitality, it is not intellectual, it is not moral, but something beyond.
And Revelation steps in and names what it is--it is Christ. Out of the
multitude of sentences where this announcement is made, these few may be
selected: "Know ye not your own selves how that _Jesus Christ is in
you_?"[44] "Your bodies are the members of Christ."[45] "At that day ye
shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in Me, and I in you."[46] "We
will come unto him and make our abode with him."[47] "I am the Vine, ye
are the branches."[48] "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live,
yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."[49]

Three things are clear from these statements: First, they are not mere
figures of rhetoric. They are explicit declarations. If language means
anything these words announce a literal fact. In some of Christ's own
statements the literalism is if possible still more impressive. For
instance, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His
blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My
blood hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For My
flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My
flesh and drinketh My blood _dwelleth in Me and I in him_."

In the second place, Spiritual Life is not something outside ourselves.
The idea is not that Christ is in heaven and that we can stretch out
some mysterious faculty and deal with Him there. This is the vague form
in which many conceive the truth, but it is contrary to Christ's
teaching and to the analogy of nature. Vegetable Life is not contained
in a reservoir somewhere in the skies, and measured out spasmodically at
certain seasons. The Life is _in_ every plant and tree, inside its own
substance and tissue, and continues there until it dies. This
localization of Life in the individual is precisely the point where
Vitality differs from the other forces of nature, such as magnetism and
electricity. Vitality has much in common with such forces as magnetism
and electricity, but there is one inviolable distinction between
them--that Life is permanently fixed and rooted in the organism. The
doctrines of conservation and transformation of energy, that is to say,
do not hold for Vitality. The electrician can demagnetize a bar of iron,
that is, he can transform its energy of magnetism into something
else--heat, or motion, or light--and then re-form these back into
magnetism. For magnetism has no root, no individuality, no fixed
indwelling. But the biologist cannot devitalize a plant or an animal and
revivify it again.[50] Life is not one of the homeless forces which
promiscuously inhabit space, or which can be gathered like electricity
from the clouds and dissipated back again into space. Life is definite
and resident; and Spiritual Life is not a visit from a force, but a
resident tenant in the soul.

This is, however, to formulate the statement of the third point, that
Spiritual Life is not an ordinary form of energy or force. The analogy
from Nature indorses this, but here Nature stops. It cannot say what
Spiritual Life is. Indeed what natural Life is remains unknown, and the
word Life still wanders through Science without a definition. Nature is
silent, therefore, and must be as to Spiritual Life. But in the absence
of natural light we fall back upon that complementary revelation which
always shines, when truth is necessary and where Nature fails. We ask
with Paul when this Life first visited him on the Damascus road, What is
this? "Who art Thou, Lord?" And we hear, "I am Jesus."[51]

We must expect to find this denied. Besides a proof from Revelation,
this is an argument from experience. And yet we shall still be told that
this Spiritual Life is a force. But let it be remembered what this means
in Science, it means the heresy of confounding Force with Vitality. We
must also expect to be told that this Spiritual Life is simply a
development of ordinary Life--just as Dr. Bastian tells us that natural
Life is formed according to the same laws which determine the more
simple chemical combinations. But remember what this means in Science.
It is the heresy of Spontaneous Generation, a heresy so thoroughly
discredited now that scarcely an authority in Europe will lend his name
to it. Who art Thou, Lord? Unless we are to be allowed to hold
Spontaneous Generation there is no alternative: Life can only come from
Life: "I am Jesus."

A hundred other questions now rush into the mind about this Life: How
does it come? Why does it come? How is it manifested? What faculty does
it employ? Where does it reside? Is it communicable? What are its
conditions? One or two of these questions may be vaguely answered, the
rest bring us face to face with mystery. Let it not be thought that the
scientific treatment of a Spiritual subject has reduced religion to a
problem of physics, or demonstrated God by the laws of biology. A
religion without mystery is an absurdity. Even Science has its
mysteries, none more inscrutable than around this Science of Life. It
taught us sooner or later to expect mystery, and now we enter its
domain. Let it be carefully marked, however, that the cloud does not
fall and cover us till we have ascertained the most momentous truth of
Religion--that Christ is in the Christian.

Not that there is anything new in this. The Churches have always held
that Christ was the source of Life. No spiritual man ever claims that
his spirituality is his own. "I live," he will tell you; "nevertheless
it is not I, but Christ liveth in me." Christ our Life has indeed been
the only doctrine in the Christian Church from Paul to Augustine, from
Calvin to Newman. Yet, when the Spiritual man is cross-examined upon
this confession it is astonishing to find what uncertain hold it has
upon his mind. Doctrinally he states it adequately and holds it
unhesitatingly. But when pressed with the literal question he shrinks
from the answer. We do not really believe that the Living Christ has
touched us, that He makes His abode in us. Spiritual Life is not as
real to us as natural Life. And we cover our retreat into unbelieving
vagueness with a plea of reverence, justified, as we think, by the "Thus
far and no farther" of ancient Scriptures. There is often a great deal
of intellectual sin concealed under this old aphorism. When men do not
really wish to go farther they find it an honorable convenience
sometimes to sit down on the outermost edge of the Holy Ground on the
pretext of taking off their shoes. Yet we must be certain that, making a
virtue of reverence, we are not merely excusing ignorance; or, under the
plea of mystery, evading a truth which has been stated in the New
Testament a hundred times, in the most literal form, and with all but
monotonous repetition. The greatest truths are always the most loosely
held. And not the least of the advantages of taking up this question
from the present standpoint is that we may see how a confused doctrine
can really bear the luminous definition of Science and force itself upon
us with all the weight of Natural Law.

What is mystery to many men, what feeds their worship, and at the same
time spoils it, is that area round all great truth which is really
capable of illumination, and into which every earnest mind is permitted
and commanded to go with a light. We cry mystery long before the region
of mystery comes. True mystery casts no shadows around. It is a sudden
and awful gulf yawning across the field of knowledge; its form is
irregular, but its lips are clean cut and sharp, and the mind can go to
the very verge and look down the precipice into the dim abyss--

          "Where writhing clouds unroll,
    Striving to utter themselves in shapes."

We have gone with a light to the very verge of this truth. We have seen
that the Spiritual Life is an endowment from the Spiritual World, and
that the Living Spirit of Christ dwells in the Christian. But now the
gulf yawns black before us. What more does Science know of life?
Nothing. It knows nothing further about its origin in detail. It knows
nothing about its ultimate nature. It cannot even define it. There is a
helplessness in scientific books here, and a continual confession of it
which to thoughtful minds is almost touching. Science, therefore, has
not eliminated the true mysteries from our faith, but only the false.
And it has done more. It has made true mystery scientific. Religion in
having mystery is in analogy with all around it. Where there is
exceptional mystery in the Spiritual world it will generally be found
that there is a corresponding mystery in the natural world. And, as
Origen centuries ago insisted, the difficulties of Religion are simply
the difficulties of Nature.

One question more we may look at for a moment. What can be gathered on
the surface as to the process of Regeneration in the individual soul?
From the analogies of Biology we should expect three things: First, that
the New Life should dawn suddenly; Second, that it should come "without
observation;" Third, that it should develop gradually. On two of these
points there can be little controversy. The gradualness of growth is a
characteristic which strikes the simplest observer. Long before the word
Evolution was coined Christ applied it in this very connection--"First
the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear." It is well
known also to those who study the parables of Nature that there is an
ascending scale of slowness as we rise in the scale of Life. Growth is
most gradual in the highest forms. Man attains his maturity after a
score of years; the monad completes its humble cycle in a day. What
wonder if development be tardy in the Creature of Eternity? A
Christian's sun has sometimes set, and a critical world has seen as yet
no corn in the ear. As yet? "As yet," in this long Life, has not begun.
Grant him the years proportionate to his place in the scale of Life.
"The time of harvest is _not yet_."

Again, in addition to being slow, the phenomena of growth are secret.
Life is invisible. When the New Life manifests itself it is a surprise.
_Thou canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth._ When the
plant lives whence has the Life come? When it dies whither has it gone?
_Thou canst not tell ... so is every one that is born of the Spirit. For
the kingdom of God cometh without observation._

Yet once more--and this is a point of strange and frivolous
dispute--this Life comes suddenly. This is the only way in which Life
can come. Life cannot come gradually--health can, structure can, but not
Life. A new theology has laughed at the Doctrine of Conversion. Sudden
Conversion especially has been ridiculed as untrue to philosophy and
impossible to human nature. We may not be concerned in buttressing any
theology because it is old. But we find that this old theology is
scientific. There may be cases--they are probably in the majority--where
the moment of contact with the Living Spirit though sudden has been
obscure. But the real moment and the conscious moment are two different
things. Science pronounces nothing as to the conscious moment. If it did
it would probably say that that was seldom the real moment--just as in
the natural Life the conscious moment is not the real moment. The moment
of birth in the natural world is not a conscious moment--we do not know
we are born till long afterward. Yet there are men to whom the Origin of
the New Life in time has been no difficulty. To Paul, for instance,
Christ seems to have come at a definite period of time, the exact moment
and second of which could have been known. And this is certainly, in
theory at least, the normal Origin of Life, according to the principles
of Biology. The line between the living and the dead is a sharp line.
When the dead atoms of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, are seized
upon by Life, the organism at first is very lowly. It possesses few
functions. It has little beauty. Growth is the work of time. But Life is
not. That comes in a moment. At one moment it was dead; the next it
lived. This is conversion, the "passing," as the Bible calls it, "from
Death unto Life." Those who have stood by another's side at the solemn
hour of this dread possession have been conscious sometimes of an
experience which words are not allowed to utter--a something like the
sudden snapping of a chain, the waking from a dream.


[33] "Beginnings of Life." By H. C. Bastian, M.A., M.D., F.R.S.
Macmillan, vol. ii. p. 633.

[34] "Critiques and Addresses." T. H. Huxley. F.R.S., p. 239.

[35] _Nineteenth Century_, 1878, p. 507.

[36] This being the crucial point it may not be inappropriate to
supplement the quotations already given in the text with the

"We are in the presence of the one incommunicable gulf--the gulf of all
gulfs--that gulf which Mr. Huxley's protoplasm is as powerless to efface
as any other material expedient that has ever been suggested since the
eyes of men first looked into it--the mighty gulf between death and
life."--"As Regards Protoplasm." By J. Hutchinson Stirling, LL.D., p.

"The present state of knowledge furnishes us with no link between the
living and the not-living."--Huxley, "Encyclopædia Britannica" (new
Ed.). Art. "Biology."

"Whoever recalls to mind the lamentable failure of all the attempts made
very recently to discover a decided support for the _generatio æquivoca_
in the lower forms of transition from the inorganic to the organic
world, will feel it doubly serious to demand that this theory, so
utterly discredited, should be in any way accepted as the basis of all
our views of life."--Virchow: "The Freedom of Science in the Modern

"All really scientific experience tells us that life can be produced
from a living antecedent only."--"The Unseen Universe," 6th Ed., p. 229.

[37] John iii.

[38] Rom. viii. 6.

[39] Rev. iii. 1.

[40] 1 Tim. v. 6.

[41] Eph. ii. 1, 5.

[42] 1 Cor. ii. 14.

[43] "First Principles," 2d Ed., p. 17.

[44] 2 Cor. xii. 5.

[45] 1 Cor. vi. 15.

[46] John xiv. 20.

[47] John xiv. 21-23.

[48] John xv. 4.

[49] Gal. ii. 20.

[50] One must not be misled by popular statements in this connection,
such as this of Professor Owen's: "There are organisms which we can
devitalize and revitalize--devive and revive--many times." (_Monthly
Microscopical Journal_, May, 1869, p. 294.) The reference is of course
to the extraordinary capacity for _resuscitation_ possessed by many of
the Protozoa and other low forms of life.

[51] Acts ix. 5.


    "I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man
    void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns,
    and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof
    was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well; I looked upon it
    and received instruction."--_Solomon._

    "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"--_Hebrews._

    "We have as possibilities either Balance, or Elaboration, or
    Degeneration."--_E. Ray Lankester._

In one of his best known books, Mr. Darwin brings out a fact which may
be illustrated in some such way as this: Suppose a bird fancier collects
a flock of tame pigeons distinguished by all the infinite ornamentations
of their race. They are of all kinds, of every shade of color, and
adorned with every variety of marking. He takes them to an uninhabited
island and allows them to fly off wild into the woods. They found a
colony there, and after the lapse of many years the owner returns to the
spot. He will find that a remarkable change has taken place in the
interval. The birds, or their descendants rather, have all become
changed into the same color. The black, the white and the dun, the
striped, the spotted, and the ringed, are all metamorphosed into one--a
dark slaty blue. Two plain black bands monotonously repeat themselves
upon the wings of each, and the loins beneath are white; but all the
variety, all the beautiful colors, all the old graces of form it may be,
have disappeared. These improvements were the result of care and nature,
of domestication, of civilization; and now that these influences are
removed, the birds themselves undo the past and lose what they had
gained. The attempt to elevate the race has been mysteriously thwarted.
It is as if the original bird, the far remote ancestor of all doves, had
been blue, and these had been compelled by some strange law to discard
the badges of their civilization and conform to the ruder image of the
first. The natural law by which such a change occurs is called _The
Principle of Reversion to Type_.

It is a proof of the universality of this law that the same thing will
happen with a plant. A garden is planted, let us say, with strawberries
and roses, and for a number of years is left alone. In process of time
it will run to waste. But this does not mean that the plants will really
waste away, but that they will change into something else, and, as it
invariably appears, into something worse; in the one case, namely, into
the small, wild strawberry of the woods, and in the other into the
primitive dog-rose of the hedges.

If we neglect a garden plant, then, a natural principle of deterioration
comes in, and changes it into a worse plant. And if we neglect a bird,
by the same imperious law it will be gradually changed into an uglier
bird. Or if we neglect almost any of the domestic animals, they will
rapidly revert to wild and worthless forms again.

Now the same thing exactly would happen in the case of you or me. Why
should Man be an exception to any of the laws of Nature? Nature knows
him simply as an animal--Sub-kingdom _Vertebrata_, Class _Mammalia_,
Order _Bimana_. And the law of Reversion to Type runs through all
creation. If a man neglect himself for a few years he will change into a
worse man and a lower man. If it is his body that he neglects, he will
deteriorate into a wild and bestial savage--like the de-humanized men
who are discovered sometimes upon desert islands. If it is his mind, it
will degenerate into imbecility and madness--solitary confinement has
the power to unmake men's minds and leave them idiots. If he neglect his
conscience, it will run off into lawlessness and vice. Or, lastly, if
it is his soul, it must inevitably atrophy, drop off in ruin and decay.

We have here, then, a thoroughly natural basis for the question before
us. If we neglect, with this universal principle staring us in the face,
how shall we escape? If we neglect the ordinary means of keeping a
garden in order, how shall it escape running to weeds and waste? Or, if
we neglect the opportunities for cultivating the mind, how shall it
escape ignorance and feebleness? So, if we neglect the soul, how shall
it escape the natural retrograde movement, the inevitable relapse into
barrenness and death?

It is not necessary, surely, to pause for proof that there is such a
retrograde principle in the being of every man. It is demonstrated by
facts, and by the analogy of all Nature. Three possibilities of life,
according to Science, are open to all living organisms--Balance,
Evolution, and Degeneration. The first denotes the precarious
persistence of a life along what looks like a level path, a character
which seems to hold its own alike against the attacks of evil and the
appeals of good. It implies a set of circumstances so balanced by choice
or fortune that they neither influence for better nor for worse. But
except in theory this state of equilibrium, normal in the inorganic
kingdom, is really foreign to the world of life; and what seems inertia
may be a true Evolution unnoticed from its slowness, or likelier still a
movement of Degeneration subtly obliterating as it falls the very traces
of its former height. From this state of apparent Balance, Evolution is
the escape in the upward direction, Degeneration in the lower. But
Degeneration, rather than Balance or Elaboration, is the possibility of
life embraced by the majority of mankind. And the choice is determined
by man's own nature. The life of Balance is difficult. It lies on the
verge of continual temptation, its perpetual adjustments become
fatiguing, its measured virtue is monotonous and uninspiring. More
difficult still, apparently, is the life of ever upward growth. Most men
attempt it for a time, but growth is slow; and despair overtakes them
while the goal is far away. Yet none of these reasons fully explains the
fact that the alternative which remains is adopted by the majority of
men. That Degeneration is easy only half accounts for it. Why is it
easy? Why but that already in each man's very nature this principle is
supreme? He feels within his soul a silent drifting motion impelling him
downward with irresistible force. Instead of aspiring to Conversion to a
higher Type he submits by a law of his nature to Reversion to a lower.
This is Degeneration--that principle by which the organism, failing to
develop itself, failing even to keep what it has got, deteriorates, and
becomes more and more adapted to a degraded form of life.

All men who know themselves are conscious that this tendency,
deep-rooted and active, exists within their nature. Theologically it is
described as a gravitation, a bias toward evil. The Bible view is that
man is conceived in sin and shapen in iniquity. And experience tells him
that he will shape himself into further sin and ever deepening iniquity
without the smallest effort, without in the least intending it, and in
the most natural way in the world if he simply let his life run. It is
on this principle that, completing the conception, the wicked are said
further in the Bible to be lost. They are not really lost as yet, but
they are on the sure way to it. The bias of their lives is in full
action. There is no drag on anywhere. The natural tendencies are having
it all their own way; and although the victims may be quite unconscious
that all this is going on, it is patent to every one who considers even
the natural bearings of the case that "the end of these things is
Death." When we see a man fall from the top of a five-story house, we
say the man is lost. We say that before he has fallen a foot; for the
same principle that made him fall the one foot will undoubtedly make him
complete the descent by falling another eighty or ninety feet. So that
he is a dead man, or a lost man from the very first. The gravitation of
sin in a human soul acts precisely in the same way. Gradually, with
gathering momentum it sinks a man further and further from God and
righteousness, and lands him, by the sheer action of a natural law, in
the hell of a neglected life.

But the lesson is not less clear from analogy. Apart even from the law
of Degeneration, apart from Reversion to Type, there is in every living
organism a law of Death. We are wont to imagine that Nature is full of
Life. In reality it is full of Death. One cannot say it is natural for a
plant to live. Examine its nature fully, and you have to admit that its
natural tendency is to die. It is kept from dying by a mere temporary
endowment which gives it an ephemeral dominion over the elements--gives
it power to utilize for a brief span the rain, the sunshine, and the
air. Withdraw this temporary endowment for a moment and its true nature
is revealed. Instead of overcoming Nature it is overcome. The very
things which appeared to minister to its growth and beauty now turn
against it and make it decay and die. The sun which warmed it, withers
it; the air and rain which nourished it, rot it. It is the very forces
which we associate with life which, when their true nature appears, are
discovered to be really the ministers of death.

This law, which is true for the whole plant-world, is also valid for the
animal and for man. Air is not life, but corruption--so literally
corruption that the only way to keep out corruption, when life has
ebbed, is to keep out air. Life is merely a temporary suspension of
these destructive powers; and this is truly one of the most accurate
definitions of life we have yet received--"the sum total of the
functions which resist death."

Spiritual life, in like manner, is the sum total of the functions which
resist sin. The soul's atmosphere is the daily trial, circumstance, and
temptation of the world. And as it is life alone which gives the plant
power to utilize the elements, and as, without it, they utilize it, so
it is the spiritual life alone which gives the soul power to utilize
temptation and trial; and without it they destroy the soul. How shall we
escape if we refuse to exercise these functions--in other words, if we

This destroying process, observe, goes on quite independently of God's
judgment on sin. God's judgment on sin is another and a more awful fact
of which this may be a part. But it is a distinct fact by itself, which
we can hold and examine separately, that on purely natural principles
the soul that is left to itself unwatched, uncultivated, unredeemed,
must fall away into death by its own nature. The soul that sinneth "it
shall die." It shall die, not necessarily because God passes sentence of
death upon it, but because it cannot help dying. It has neglected "the
functions which resist death" and has always been dying. The punishment
is in its very nature, and the sentence is being gradually carried out
all along the path of life by ordinary processes which enforce the
verdict with the appalling faithfulness of law.

There is an affectation that religious truths lie beyond the sphere of
the comprehension which serves men in ordinary things. This question at
least must be an exception. It lies as near the natural as the
spiritual. If it makes no impression on a man to know that God will
visit his iniquities upon him, he cannot blind himself to the fact that
Nature will. Do we not all know what it is to be punished by Nature for
disobeying her? We have looked round the wards of a hospital, a prison,
or a madhouse, and seen there Nature at work squaring her accounts with
sin. And we knew as we looked that if no Judge sat on the throne of
heaven at all there was a Judgment there, where an inexorable Nature was
crying aloud for justice, and carrying out her heavy sentences for
violated laws.

When God gave Nature the law into her own hands in this way, He seems to
have given her two rules upon which her sentences were to be based. The
one is formally enunciated in this sentence, "WHATSOEVER A MAN SOWETH
THAT SHALL HE ALSO REAP." The other is informally expressed in this, "IF

The first is the positive law, and deals with sins of commission. The
other, which we are now discussing, is the negative, and deals with sins
of omission. It does not say anything about sowing but about not sowing.
It takes up the case of souls which are lying fallow. It does not say,
if we sow corruption we shall reap corruption. Perhaps we would not be
so unwise, so regardless of ourselves, of public opinion, as to sow
corruption. It does not say, if we sow tares we shall reap tares. We
might never do anything so foolish as sow tares. But if we sow nothing,
it says, we shall reap nothing. If we put nothing into the field, we
shall take nothing out. If we neglect to cultivate in summer, how shall
we escape starving in winter?

Now the Bible raises this question, but does not answer it--because it
is too obvious to need answering. How shall we escape if we neglect? The
answer is, we cannot. In the nature of things we cannot. We cannot
escape any more than a man can escape drowning who falls into the sea
and has neglected to learn to swim. In the nature of things he cannot
escape--nor can he escape who has neglected the great salvation.

Now why should such fatal consequences follow a simple process like
neglect? The popular impression is that a man, to be what is called
lost, must be an open and notorious sinner. He must be one who has
abandoned all that is good and pure in life, and sown to the flesh with
all his might and main. But this principle goes further. It says simply,
"If we neglect." Any one may see the reason why a notoriously wicked
person should not escape; but why should not all the rest of us escape?
What is to hinder people who are not notoriously wicked escaping--people
who never sowed anything in particular? Why is it such a sin to sow
nothing in particular?

There must be some hidden and vital relation between these three words,
Salvation, Neglect, and Escape--some reasonable, essential, and
indissoluble connection. Why are these words so linked together as to
weight this clause with all the authority and solemnity of a sentence of

The explanation has partly been given already. It lies still further,
however, in the meaning of the word Salvation. And this, of course, is
not at all Salvation in the ordinary sense of forgiveness of sin. This
is one great meaning of Salvation, the first and the greatest. But this
is spoken to people who are supposed to have had this. It is the broader
word, therefore, and includes not only forgiveness of sin but salvation
or deliverance from the downward bias of the soul. It takes in that
whole process of rescue from the power of sin and selfishness that
should be going on from day to day in every human life. We have seen
that there is a natural principle in man lowering him, deadening him,
pulling him down by inches to the mere animal plane, blinding reason,
searing conscience, paralyzing will. This is the active destroying
principle, or Sin. Now to counteract this, God has discovered to us
another principle which will stop this drifting process in the soul,
steer it round, and make it drift the other way. This is the active
saving principle, or Salvation. If a man find the first of these powers
furiously at work within him, dragging his whole life downward to
destruction, there is only one way to escape his fate--to take resolute
hold of the upward power, and be borne by it to the opposite goal. And
as this second power is the only one in the universe which has the
slightest real effect upon the first, how shall a man escape if he
neglect it? To neglect it is to cut off the only possible chance of
escape. In declining this he is simply abandoning himself with his eyes
open to that other and terrible energy which is already there, and
which, in the natural course of things, is bearing him every moment
further and further from escape.

From the very nature of Salvation, therefore, it is plain that the only
thing necessary to make it of no effect is neglect. Hence the Bible
could not fail to lay strong emphasis on a word so vital. It was not
necessary for it to say, how shall we escape if we trample upon the
great salvation, or doubt, or despise, or reject it. A man who has been
poisoned only need neglect the antidote and he will die. It makes no
difference whether he dashes it on the ground, or pours it out of the
window, or sets it down by his bedside, and stares at it all the time he
is dying. He will die just the same, whether he destroys it in a
passion, or coolly refuses to have anything to do with it. And as a
matter of fact probably most deaths, spiritually, are gradual
dissolutions of the last class rather than rash suicides of the first.

This, then, is the effect of neglecting salvation from the side of
salvation itself; and the conclusion is that from the very nature of
salvation escape is out of the question. Salvation is a definite
process. If a man refuse to submit himself to that process, clearly he
cannot have the benefits of it. _As many as received Him to them gave
He_ power _to become the sons of God._ He does not avail himself of this
power. It may be mere carelessness or apathy. Nevertheless the neglect
is fatal. He cannot escape because he will not.

Turn now to another aspect of the case--to the effect upon the soul
itself. Neglect does more for the soul than make it miss salvation. It
despoils it of its capacity for salvation. Degeneration in the spiritual
sphere involves primarily the impairing of the faculties of salvation
and ultimately the loss of them. It really means that the very soul
itself becomes piecemeal destroyed until the very capacity for God and
righteousness is gone.

The soul, in its highest sense, is a vast capacity for God. It is like a
curious chamber added on to being, and somehow involving being, a
chamber with elastic and contractile walls, which can be expanded, with
God as its guest, illimitably, but which without God shrinks and
shrivels until every vestige of the Divine is gone, and God's image is
left without God's Spirit. One cannot call what is left a soul; it is a
shrunken, useless organ, a capacity sentenced to death by disuse, which
droops as a withered hand by the side, and cumbers nature like a rotted
branch. Nature has her revenge upon neglect as well as upon
extravagance. Misuse, with her, is as mortal a sin as abuse.

There are certain burrowing animals--the mole for instance--which have
taken to spending their lives beneath the surface of the ground. And
Nature has taken her revenge upon them in a thoroughly natural way--she
has closed up their eyes. If they mean to live in darkness, she argues,
eyes are obviously a superfluous function. By neglecting them these
animals made it clear they do not want them. And as one of Nature's
fixed principles is that nothing shall exist in vain, the eyes are
presently taken away, or reduced to a rudimentary state. There are
fishes also which have had to pay the same terrible forfeit for having
made their abode in dark caverns where eyes can never be required. And
in exactly the same way the spiritual eye must die and lose its power by
purely natural law if the soul choose to walk in darkness rather than in

This is the meaning of the favorite paradox of Christ, "From him that
hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath;" "take therefore
the talent from him." The religious faculty is a talent, the most
splendid and sacred talent we possess. Yet it is subject to the natural
conditions and laws. If any man take his talent and hide it in a napkin,
although it is doing him neither harm nor good apparently, God will not
allow him to have it. Although it is lying there rolled up in the
darkness, not conspicuously affecting any one, still God will not allow
him to keep it. He will not allow him to keep it any more than Nature
would allow the fish to keep their eyes. Therefore, He says, "take the
talent from him." And Nature does it.

This man's crime was simply neglect--"thou wicked and _slothful_
servant." It was a wasted life--a life which failed in the holy
stewardship of itself. Such a life is a peril to all who cross its path.
Degeneration compasses Degeneration. It is only a character which is
itself developing that can aid the Evolution of the world and so fulfill
the end of life. For this high usury each of our lives, however small
may seem our capital, was given us by God. And it is just the men whose
capital seems small who need to choose the best investments. It is
significant that it was the man who had only one talent who was guilty
of neglecting it. Men with ten talents, men of large gifts and burning
energies, either direct their powers nobly and usefully, or misdirect
them irretrievably. It is those who belong to the rank and file of life
who need this warning most. Others have an abundant store and sow to the
spirit or the flesh with a lavish hand. But we, with our small gift,
what boots our sowing? Our temptation as ordinary men is to neglect to
sow at all. The interest on our talent would be so small that we excuse
ourselves with the reflection that it is not worth while.

It is no objection to all this to say that we are unconscious of this
neglect or misdirection of our powers. That is the darkest feature in
the case. If there were uneasiness there might be hope. If there were,
somewhere about our soul, a something which was not gone to sleep like
all the rest; if there were a contending force anywhere; if we would let
even that work instead of neglecting it, it would gain strength from
hour to hour, and waken up one at a time each torpid and dishonored
faculty till our whole nature became alive with strivings against self,
and every avenue was open wide for God. But the apathy, the numbness of
the soul, what can be said of such a symptom but that it means the
creeping on of death? There are accidents in which the victims feel no
pain. They are well and strong they think. But they are dying. And if
you ask the surgeon by their side what makes him give this verdict, he
will say it is this numbness over the frame which tells how some of the
parts have lost already the very capacity for life.

Nor is it the least tragic accompaniment of this process that its
effects may even be concealed from others. The soul undergoing
Degeneration, surely by some arrangement with Temptation planned in the
uttermost hell, possesses the power of absolute secrecy. When all within
is festering decay and rottenness, a Judas, without anomaly, may kiss
his Lord. This invisible consumption, like its fell analogue in the
natural world, may even keep its victim beautiful while slowly slaying
it. When one examines the little _Crustacea_ which have inhabited for
centuries the lakes of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky, one is at first
astonished to find these animals apparently endowed with perfect eyes.
The pallor of the head is broken by two black pigment specks,
conspicuous indeed as the only bits of color on the whole blanched body;
and these, even to the casual observer, certainly represent well-defined
organs of vision. But what do they with eyes in these Stygian waters?
There reigns an everlasting night. Is the law for once at fault? A swift
incision with the scalpel, a glance with a lens, and their secret is
betrayed. The eyes are a mockery. Externally they are organs of
vision--the front of the eye is perfect; behind, there is nothing but a
mass of ruins. The optic nerve is a shrunken, atrophied and insensate
thread. These animals have organs of vision, and yet they have no
vision. They have eyes, but they see not.

Exactly what Christ said of men: They had eyes, but no vision. And the
reason is the same. It is the simplest problem of natural history. The
_Crustacea_ of the Mammoth Cave have chosen to abide in darkness.
Therefore they have become fitted for it. By refusing to see they have
waived the right to see. And Nature has grimly humored them. Nature had
to do it by her very constitution. It is her defence against waste that
decay of faculty should immediately follow disuse of function. He that
hath ears to hear, he whose ears have not degenerated, let him hear.

Men tell us sometimes there is no such thing as an atheist. There must
be. There are some men to whom it is true that there is no God. They
cannot see God because they have no eye. They have only an abortive
organ, atrophied by neglect.

All this, it is commonplace again to insist, is not the effect of
neglect when we die, but while we live. The process is in full career
and operation now. It is useless projecting consequences into the future
when the effects may be measured now. We are always practicing these
little deceptions upon ourselves, postponing the consequences of our
misdeeds as if they were to culminate some other day about the time of
death. It makes us sin with a lighter hand to run an account with
retribution, as it were, and delay the reckoning time with God. But
every day is a reckoning day. Every soul is a Book of Judgment and
Nature, as a recording angel, marks there every sin. As all will be
judged by the great Judge some day, all are judged by Nature now. The
sin of yesterday, as part of its penalty, has the sin of to-day. All
follow us in silent retribution on our past, and go with us to the
grave. We cannot cheat Nature. No sleight-of-heart can rob religion of
_a present_, the immortal nature of a _now_. The poet sings--

    "I looked behind to find my past,
    And lo, it had gone before."

But no, not all. The unforgiven sins are not away in keeping somewhere
to be let loose upon us when we die; they are here, within us, now.
To-day brings the resurrection of their past, to-morrow of to-day. And
the powers of sin, to the exact strength that we have developed them,
nearing their dreadful culmination with every breath we draw, are here,
within us, now. The souls of some men are already honey-combed through
and through with the eternal consequences of neglect, so that taking the
natural and rational view of their case _just now_, it is simply
inconceivable that there is any escape _just now_. What a fearful thing
it is to fall into the hands of the living God! A fearful thing even if,
as the philosopher tells us, "the hands of the Living God are the Laws
of Nature."

Whatever hopes of a "heaven" a neglected soul may have, can be shown to
be an ignorant and delusive dream. How is the soul to escape to heaven
if it has neglected for a lifetime the means of escape from the world
and self? And where is the capacity for heaven to come from if it be not
developed on earth? Where, indeed, is even the smallest spiritual
appreciation of God and heaven to come from when so little of
spirituality has ever been known or manifested here? If every Godward
aspiration of the soul has been allowed to become extinct, and every
inlet that was open to heaven to be choked, and every talent for
religious love and trust to have been persistently neglected and
ignored, where are the faculties to come from that would ever find the
faintest relish in such things as God and heaven give?

These three words, Salvation, Escape, and Neglect, then, are not
casually, but organically and necessarily connected. Their doctrine is
scientific, not arbitrary. Escape means nothing more than the gradual
emergence of the higher being from the lower, and nothing less. It means
the gradual putting off of all that cannot enter the higher state, or
heaven, and simultaneously the putting on of Christ. It involves the
slow completing of the soul and the development of the capacity for God.

Should any one object that from this scientific standpoint the opposite
of salvation is annihilation, the answer is at hand. From this
standpoint there is no such word.

If, then, escape is to be open to us, it is not to come to us somehow,
vaguely. We are not to hope for anything startling or mysterious. It is
a definite opening along certain lines which are definitely marked by
God, which begin at the Cross of Christ, and lead direct to Him. Each
man in the silence of his own soul must work out this salvation for
himself with fear and trembling--with fear, realizing the momentous
issues of his task; with trembling, lest before the tardy work be done
the voice of Death should summon him to stop.

What these lines are may, in closing, be indicated in a word. The true
problem of the spiritual life may be said to be, do the opposite of
Neglect. Whatever this is, do it, and you shall escape. It will just
mean that you are so to cultivate the soul that all its powers will open
out to God, and in beholding God be drawn away from sin. The idea really
is to develop among the ruins of the old a new "creature"--a new
creature which, while the old is suffering Degeneration from Neglect, is
gradually to unfold, to escape away and develop on spiritual lines to
spiritual beauty and strength. And as our conception of spiritual being
must be taken simply from natural being, our ideas of the lines along
which the new religious nature is to run must be borrowed from the known
lines of the old.

There is, for example, a Sense of Sight in the religious nature. Neglect
this, leave it undeveloped and you never miss it. You simply see
nothing. But develop it and you see God. And the line along which to
develop it is known to us. Become pure in heart. The pure in heart shall
see God. Here, then, is one opening for soul-culture--the avenue through
purity of heart to the spiritual seeing of God.

Then there is a Sense of Sound. Neglect this, leave it undeveloped, and
you never miss it. You simply hear nothing. Develop it, and you hear
God. And the line along which to develop it is known to us. Obey Christ.
Become one of Christ's flock. "The sheep hear His voice, and He calleth
them by name." Here, then, is another opportunity for the culture of the
soul--a gateway through the Shepherd's fold to hear the Shepherd's

And there is a Sense of Touch to be acquired--such a sense as the woman
had who touched the hem of Christ's garment, that wonderful electric
touch called faith, which moves the very heart of God.

And there is a Sense of Taste--a spiritual hunger after God; a something
within which tastes and sees that He is good. And there is the Talent
for Inspiration. Neglect that, and all the scenery of the spiritual
world is flat and frozen. But cultivate it, and it penetrates the whole
soul with sacred fire, and illuminates creation with God. And last of
all there is the great capacity for Love, even for the love of God--the
expanding capacity for feeling more and more its height and depth, its
length and breadth. Till that is felt no man can really understand that
word, "so great salvation," for what is its measure but that other "so"
of Christ--God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son?
Verily, how shall we escape if we neglect that?[52]


[52] For the scientific basis of this spiritual law the following works
may be consulted:--

"The Origin of Species." By Charles Darwin, F.R.S. London: John Murray.

"Degeneration." By E. Ray Lankester, F.R.S. London: Macmillan. 1880.

"Der Ursprung der Wirbelthiere und das Princip des Functions Wechsels."
Dr. A. Dorhn. Leipzig: 1875.

"Lessons from Nature." By St. George Mivart, F.R.S. London: John Murray.

"The Natural Conditions of Existence as they Affect Animal Life." Karl
Semper. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co. 1881.


    "Is not the evidence of Ease on the very front of all the greatest
    works in existence? Do they not say plainly to us, not 'there has
    been a great _effort_ here,' but 'there has been a great _power_
    here?' It is not the weariness of mortality but the strength of
    divinity, which we have to recognize in all mighty things; and that
    is just what we now never recognize, but think that we are to do
    great things by help of iron bars and perspiration; alas! we shall
    do nothing that way, but lose some pounds of our own

    "Consider the lilies of the field how they grow."--_The Sermon on
    the Mount._

    "Nunquam aliud natura, aliud sapientia dicit."--_Juvenal._

What gives the peculiar point to this object-lesson from the lips of
Jesus is, that He not only made the illustration, but made the lilies.
It is like an inventor describing his own machine. He made the lilies
and He made me--both on the same broad principle. Both together, man and
flower, He planted deep in the Providence of God; but as men are dull at
studying themselves He points to this companion-phenomenon to teach us
how to live a free and natural life, a life which God will unfold for
us, without our anxiety, as He unfolds the flower. For Christ's words
are not a general appeal to consider nature. Men are not to consider the
lilies simply to admire their beauty, to dream over the delicate
strength and grace of stem and leaf. The point they were to consider was
_how they grew_--how without anxiety or care the flower woke into
loveliness, how without weaving these leaves were woven, how without
toiling these complex tissues spun themselves, and how without any
effort or friction the whole slowly came ready-made from the loom of God
in its more than Solomon-like glory. "So," He says, making the
application beyond dispute, "you care-worn, anxious men must grow. You,
too, need take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye
shall drink or what ye shall put on. For if God so clothe the grass of
the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall
He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"

This nature-lesson was a great novelty in its day; but all men now who
have even a "little faith" have learned this Christian secret of a
composed life. Apart even from the parable of the lily, the failures of
the past have taught most of us the folly of disquieting ourselves in
vain, and we have given up the idea that by taking thought we can add a
cubit to our stature.

But no sooner has our life settled down to this calm trust in God than a
new and graver anxiety begins. This time it is not for the body we are
in travail, but for the soul. For the temporal life we have considered
the lilies, but how is the spiritual life to grow. How are we to become
better men? How are we to grow in grace? By what thought shall we add
the cubits to the spiritual stature and reach the fullness of the
Perfect Man? And because we know ill how to do this, the old anxiety
comes back again and our inner life is once more an agony of conflict
and remorse. After all, we have but transferred our anxious thoughts
from the body to the soul. Our efforts after Christian growth seem only
a succession of failures, and instead of rising into the beauty of
holiness our life is a daily heartbreak and humiliation.

Now the reason of this is very plain. We have forgotten the parable of
the lily. Violent efforts to grow are right in earnestness, but wholly
wrong in principle. There is but one principle of growth both for the
natural and spiritual, for animal and plant, for body and soul. For all
growth is an organic thing. And the principle of growing in grace is
once more this, "Consider the lilies _how they grow_."

In seeking to extend the analogy from the body to the soul there are two
things about the lilies' growth, two characteristics of all growth, on
which one must fix attention. These are--

First, Spontaneousness.

Second, Mysteriousness.

I. Spontaneousness. There are three lines along which one may seek for
evidence of the spontaneousness of growth. The first is Science. And the
argument here could not be summed up better than in the words of Jesus.
The lilies grow, He says, of themselves; they toil not, neither do they
spin. They grow, that is, automatically, spontaneously, without trying,
without fretting, without thinking. Applied in any direction, to plant,
to animal, to the body or to the soul this law holds. A boy grows, for
example, without trying. One or two simple conditions are fulfilled, and
the growth goes on. He thinks probably as little about the condition as
about the result; he fulfills the conditions by habit, the result
follows by nature. Both processes go steadily on from year to year apart
from himself and all but in spite of himself. One would never think of
_telling_ a boy to grow. A doctor has no prescription for growth. He can
tell me how growth may be stunted or impaired, but the process itself is
recognized as beyond control--one of the few, and therefore very
significant, things which Nature keeps in her own hands. No physician of
souls, in like manner, has any prescription for spiritual growth. It is
the question he is most often asked and most often answers wrongly. He
may prescribe more earnestness, more prayer, more self-denial, or more
Christian work. These are prescriptions for something, but not for
growth. Not that they may not encourage growth; but the soul grows as
the lily grows, without trying, without fretting, without ever thinking.
Manuals of devotion, with complicated rules for getting on in the
Christian life, would do well sometimes to return to the simplicity of
nature; and earnest souls who are attempting sanctification by struggle
instead of sanctification by faith might be spared much humiliation by
learning the botany of the Sermon on the Mount. There _can_ indeed be no
other principle of growth than this. It is a vital act. And to try to
_make_ a thing grow is as absurd as to help the tide to come in or the
sun rise.

Another argument for the spontaneousness of growth is universal
experience. A boy not only grows without trying, but he cannot grow if
he tries. No man by taking thought has ever added a cubit to his
stature; nor has any man by mere working at his soul ever approached
nearer to the stature of the Lord Jesus. The stature of the Lord Jesus
was not itself reached by work, and he who thinks to approach its
mystical height by anxious effort is really receding from it. Christ's
life unfolded itself from a divine germ, planted centrally in His
nature, which grew as naturally as a flower from a bud. This flower may
be imitated; but one can always tell an artificial flower. The human
form may be copied in wax, yet somehow one never fails to detect the
difference. And this precisely is the difference between a native growth
of Christian principle and the moral copy of it. The one is natural, the
other mechanical. The one is a growth, the other an accretion. Now this,
according to modern biology, is the fundamental distinction between the
living and the not living, between an organism and a crystal. The living
organism grows, the dead crystal increases. The first grows vitally from
within, the last adds new particles from the outside. The whole
difference between the Christian and the moralist lies here. The
Christian works from the center, the moralist from the circumference.
The one is an organism, in the center of which is planted by the living
God a living germ. The other is a crystal, very beautiful it may be; but
only a crystal--it wants the vital principle of growth.

And one sees here also, what is sometimes very difficult to see, why
salvation in the first instance is never connected directly with
morality. The reason is not that salvation does not demand morality, but
that it demands so much of it that the moralist can never reach up to
it. The end of Salvation is perfection, the Christ-like mind, character
and life. Morality is on the way to this perfection; it may go a
considerable distance toward it, but it can never reach it. Only Life
can do that. It requires something with enormous power of movement, of
growth, of overcoming obstacles, to attain the perfect. Therefore the
man who has within himself this great formative agent, Life, is nearer
the end than the man who has morality alone. The latter can never reach
perfection; the former _must_. For the Life must develop out according
to its type; and being a germ of the Christ-life, it must unfold into _a
Christ_. Morality, at the utmost, only develops the character in one or
two directions. It may perfect a single virtue here and there, but it
cannot perfect all. And especially it fails always to give that rounded
harmony of parts, that perfect tune to the whole orchestra, which is the
marked characteristic of life. Perfect life is not merely the possessing
of perfect functions, but of perfect functions perfectly adjusted to
each other and all conspiring to a single result, the perfect working of
the whole organism. It is not said that the character will develop in
all its fullness in this life. That were a time too short for an
Evolution so magnificent. In this world only the cornless ear is seen;
sometimes only the small yet still prophetic blade. The sneer at the
godly man for his imperfections is ill-judged. A blade is a small thing.
At first it grows very near the earth. It is often soiled and crushed
and downtrodden. But it is a living thing. That great dead stone beside
it is more imposing; only it will never be anything else than a stone.
But this small blade--_it doth not yet appear what it shall be_.

Seeing now that Growth can only be synonymous with a living automatic
process, it is all but superfluous to seek a third line of argument from
Scripture. Growth there is always described in the language of
physiology. The regenerate soul is a new creature. The Christian is a
new man in Christ Jesus. He adds the cubits to his stature just as the
old man does. He is rooted and built up in Christ; he abides in the
vine, and so abiding, not toiling or spinning, brings forth fruit. The
Christian in short, like the poet, is born not made; and the fruits of
his character are not manufactured things but living things, things
which have grown from the secret germ, the fruits of the living Spirit.
They are not the produce of this climate, but exotics from a sunnier

II. But, secondly, besides this Spontaneousness there is this other
great characteristic of Growth--Mysteriousness. Upon this quality
depends the fact, probably, that so few men ever fathom its real
character. We are most unspiritual always in dealing with the simplest
spiritual things. A lily grows mysteriously, pushing up its solid weight
of stem and leaf in the teeth of gravity. Shaped into beauty by secret
and invisible fingers, the flower develops we know not how. But we do
not wonder at it. Every day the thing is done; it is Nature, it is God.
We are spiritual enough at least to understand that. But when the soul
rises slowly above the world, pushing up its delicate virtues in the
teeth of sin, shaping itself mysteriously into the image of Christ, we
deny that the power is not of man. A strong will, we say, a high ideal,
the reward of virtue, Christian influence--these will account for it.
Spiritual character is merely the product of anxious work, self-command,
and self-denial. We allow, that is to say, a miracle to the lily, but
none to the man. The lily may grow; the man must fret and toil and spin.

Now grant for a moment that by hard work and self-restraint a man may
attain to a very high character. It is not denied that this can be done.
But what is denied is that this is growth, and that this process is
Christianity. The fact that you can account for it proves that it is not
growth. For growth is mysterious; the peculiarity of it is that you
cannot account for it. Mysteriousness, as Mozley has well observed, is
"the test of spiritual birth." And this was Christ's test. "The wind
bloweth where it listeth. Thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not
tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth, _so is every one that is born
of the Spirit_." The test of spirituality is that you cannot tell whence
it cometh or whither it goeth. If you can tell, if you can account for
it on philosophical principles, on the doctrine of influence, on
strength of will, on a favorable environment, it is not growth. It may
be so far a success, it may be a perfectly honest, even remarkable, and
praiseworthy imitation, but it is not the real thing. The fruits are
wax, the flowers artificial--you can tell whence it cometh and whither
it goeth.

The conclusion is, then, that the Christian is a unique phenomenon. You
cannot account for him. And if you could he would not be a Christian.
Mozley has drawn the two characters for us in graphic words: "Take an
ordinary man of the world--what he thinks and what he does, his whole
standard of duty is taken from the society in which he lives. It is a
borrowed standard: he is as good as other people are; he does, in the
way of duty, what is generally considered proper and becoming among
those with whom his lot is thrown. He reflects established opinion on
such points. He follows its lead. His aims and objects in life again are
taken from the world around him, and from its dictation. What it
considers honorable, worth having, advantageous and good, he thinks so
too and pursues it. His motives all come from a visible quarter. It
would be absurd to say that there is any mystery in such a character as
this, because it is formed from a known external influence--the
influence of social opinion and the voice of the world. 'Whence such a
character cometh' we see; we venture to say that the source and origin
of it is open and palpable, and we know it just as we know the physical
causes of many common facts."

Then there is the other. "There is a certain character and disposition
of mind of which it is true to say that 'thou canst not tell whence it
cometh or whither it goeth.' ... There are those who stand out from
among the crowd, which reflects merely the atmosphere of feeling and
standard of society around it, with an impress upon them which bespeaks
a heavenly birth.... Now, when we see one of those characters, it is a
question which we ask ourselves. How has the person become possessed of
it? Has he caught it from society around him? That cannot be, because it
is wholly different from that of the world around him. Has he caught it
from the inoculation of crowds and masses, as the mere religious zealot
catches his character? That cannot be either, for the type is altogether
different from that which masses of men, under enthusiastic impulses,
exhibit. There is nothing gregarious in this character; it is the
individual's own; it is not borrowed, it is not a reflection of any
fashion or tone of the world outside; it rises up from some fount
within, and it is a creation of which the text says, We know not whence
it cometh."[53]

Now we have all met these two characters--the one eminently respectable,
upright, virtuous, a trifle cold perhaps, and generally, when critically
examined, revealing somehow the mark of the tool; the other with God's
breath still upon it, an inspiration; not more virtuous, but differently
virtuous; not more humble, but different, wearing the meek and quiet
spirit artlessly as to the manner born. The other-worldliness of such a
character is the thing that strikes you; you are not prepared for what
it will do or say or become next, for it moves from a far-off center,
and in spite of its transparency and sweetness that presence fills you
always with awe. A man never feels the discord of his own life, never
hears the jar of the machinery by which he tries to manufacture his own
good points, till he has stood in the stillness of such a presence. Then
he discerns the difference between growth and work. He has considered
the lilies, how they grow.

We have now seen that spiritual growth is a process maintained and
secured by a spontaneous and mysterious inward principle. It is a
spontaneous principle even in its origin, for it bloweth where it
listeth; mysterious in its operation, for we can never tell whence it
cometh; obscure in its destination, for we cannot tell whence it goeth.
The whole process therefore transcends us; we do not work, we are taken
in hand--"it is God which worketh in us, both to will and to do of His
good pleasure." We do not plan--we are "created in Christ Jesus unto
good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

There may be an obvious objection to all this. It takes away all
conflict from the Christian life? It makes man, does it not, mere clay
in the hands of the potter? It crushes the old character to make a new
one, and destroys man's responsibility for his own soul?

Now we are not concerned here in once more striking the time-honored
"balance between faith and works." We are considering how lilies grow,
and in a specific connection, namely, to discover the attitude of mind
which the Christian should preserve regarding his spiritual growth. That
attitude, primarily, is to be free from care. We are not lodging a plea
for inactivity of the spiritual energies, but for the tranquillity of
the spiritual mind. Christ's protest is not against work, but against
anxious thought; and rather, therefore, than complement the lesson by
showing the other side, we take the risk of still further extending the
plea in the original direction.

What is the relation, to recur again to analogy, between growth and work
in a boy? Consciously, there is no relation at all. The boy never thinks
of connecting his work with his growth. Work in fact is one thing and
growth another, and it is so in the spiritual life. If it be asked
therefore, Is the Christian wrong in these ceaseless and agonizing
efforts after growth? the answer is, Yes, he is quite wrong, or at
least, he is quite mistaken. When a boy takes a meal or denies himself
indigestible things, he does not say, "All this will minister to my
growth;" or when he runs a race he does not say, "This will help the
next cubit of my stature." It may or it may not be true that these
things will help his stature, but, if he thinks of this, his idea of
growth is morbid. And this is the point we are dealing with. His anxiety
here is altogether irrelevant and superfluous. Nature is far more
bountiful than we think. When she gives us energy she asks none of it
back to expend on our own growth. She will attend to that. "Give your
work," she says, "and your anxiety to others; trust me to add the cubits
to your stature." If God is adding to our spiritual stature, unfolding
the new nature within us, it is a mistake to keep twitching at the
petals with our coarse fingers. We must seek to let the Creative Hand
alone. "It is God which giveth the increase." Yet we never know how
little we have learned of the fundamental principle of Christianity till
we discover how much we are all bent on supplementing God's free grace.
If God is spending work upon a Christian, let him be still and know that
it is God. And if he wants work, he will find it there--in the being

Not that there is no work for him who would grow, to do. There is work,
and severe work--work so great that the worker deserves to have himself
relieved of all that is superfluous during his task. If the amount of
energy lost in trying to grow were spent in fulfilling rather the
conditions of growth, we should have many more cubits to show for our
stature. It is with these conditions that the personal work of the
Christian is chiefly concerned. Observe for a moment what they are, and
their exact relation. For its growth the plant needs heat, light, air,
and moisture. A man, therefore, must go in search of these, or their
spiritual equivalents, and this is his work? By no means. The
Christian's work is not yet. Does the plant go in search of its
conditions? Nay, the conditions come to the plant. It no more
manufactures the heat, light, air, and moisture, than it manufactures
its own stem. It finds them all around it in Nature. It simply stands
still with its leaves spread out in unconscious prayer, and Nature
lavishes upon it these and all other bounties, bathing it in sunshine,
pouring the nourishing air over and over it, reviving it graciously with
its nightly dew. Grace, too, is as free as the air. The Lord God is a
Sun. He is as the Dew to Israel. A man has no more to manufacture these
than he has to manufacture his own soul. He stands surrounded by them,
bathed in them, beset behind and before by them. He lives and moves and
has his being in them. How then shall he go in search of them? Do not
they rather go in search of him? Does he not feel how they press
themselves upon him? Does he not know how unweariedly they appeal to
him? Has he not heard how they are sorrowful when he will not have them?
His work, therefore, is not yet. The voice still says, "Be still."

The conditions of growth, then, and the inward principle of growth being
both supplied by Nature, the thing man has to do, the little junction
left for him to complete, is to apply the one to the other. He
manufactures nothing; he earns nothing; he need be anxious for nothing;
his one duty is _to be in_ these conditions, to abide in them, to allow
grace to play over him, to be still therein and know that this is God.

The conflict begins and prevails in all its life-long agony the moment a
man forgets this. He struggles to grow himself instead of struggling to
get back again into position. He makes the church into a workshop when
God meant it to be a beautiful garden. And even in his closet, where
only should reign silence--a silence as of the mountains whereon the
lilies grow--is heard the roar and tumult of machinery. True, a man
will often have to wrestle with his God--but not for growth. The
Christian life is a composed life. The Gospel is Peace. Yet the most
anxious people in the world are Christians--Christians who misunderstand
the nature of growth. Life is a perpetual self-condemning because they
are not growing. And the effect is not only the loss of tranquillity to
the individual. The energies which are meant to be spent on the work of
Christ are consumed in the soul's own fever. So long as the Church's
activities are spent on growing there is nothing to spare for the world.
A soldier's time is not spent in earning the money to buy his armor, in
finding food and raiment, in seeking shelter. His king provides these
things that he may be the more at liberty to fight his battles. So, for
the soldier of the Cross all is provided. His Government has planned to
leave him free for the Kingdom's work.

The problem of the Christian life finally is simplified to this--man has
but to preserve the right attitude. To abide in Christ, to be in
position, that is all. Much work is done on board a ship crossing the
Atlantic. Yet none of it is spent on making the ship go. The sailor but
harnesses his vessel to the wind. He puts his sail and rudder in
position, and lo, the miracle is wrought. So everywhere God creates, man
utilizes. All the work of the world is merely a taking advantage of
energies already there.[54] God gives the wind, and the water, and the
heat; man but puts himself in the way of the wind, fixes his water-wheel
in the way of the river, puts his piston in the way of the steam; and so
holding himself in position before God's Spirit, all the energies of
Omnipotence course within his soul. He is like a tree planted by a river
whose leaf is green and whose fruits fail not. Such is the deeper lesson
to be learned from considering the lily. It is the voice of Nature
echoing the whole evangel of Jesus, "Come unto Me, and I will give you


[53] University Sermons, pp. 234-241.

[54] See Bushnell's "New Life."


    "What could be easier than to form a catena of the most
    philosophical defenders of Christianity, who have exhausted language
    in declaring the impotence of the unassisted intellect? Comte has
    not more explicitly enounced the incapacity of man to deal with the
    Absolute and the Infinite than the whole series of orthodox writers.
    Trust your reason, we have been told till we are tired of the
    phrase, and you will become Atheists or Agnostics. We take you at
    your word; we become Agnostics."--_Leslie Stephen._

    "To be carnally minded is Death."--_Paul._

    "I do not wonder at what men suffer, but I wonder often at what they

"Death," wrote Faber, "is an unsurveyed land, an unarranged Science."
Poetry draws near Death only to hover over it for a moment and withdraw
in terror. History knows it simply as a universal fact. Philosophy finds
it among the mysteries of being, the one great mystery of being not. All
contributions to this dead theme are marked by an essential vagueness,
and every avenue of approach seems darkened by impenetrable shadow.

But modern Biology has found it part of its work to push its way into
this silent land, and at last the world is confronted with a scientific
treatment of Death. Not that much is added to the old conception, or
much taken from it. What it is, this certain Death with its uncertain
issues, we know as little as before. But we can define more clearly and
attach a narrower meaning to the momentous symbol.

The interest of the investigation here lies in the fact that Death is
one of the outstanding things in Nature which has an acknowledged
spiritual equivalent. The prominence of the word in the vocabulary of
Revelation cannot be exaggerated. Next to Life the most pregnant symbol
in religion is its antithesis, Death. And from the time that "If thou
eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" was heard in Paradise, this solemn
word has been linked with human interests of eternal moment.

Notwithstanding the unparalleled emphasis upon this term in the
Christian system, there is none more feebly expressive to the ordinary
mind. That mystery which surrounds the word in the natural world shrouds
only too completely its spiritual import. The reluctance which prevents
men from investigating the secrets of the King of Terrors is for a
certain length entitled to respect. But it has left theology with only
the vaguest materials to construct a doctrine which, intelligently
enforced, ought to appeal to all men with convincing power and lend the
most effective argument to Christianity. Whatever may have been its
influence in the past, its threat is gone for the modern world. The word
has grown weak. Ignorance has robbed the Grave of all its terror, and
platitude despoiled Death of its sting. Death itself is ethically dead.
Which of us, for example, enters fully into the meaning of words like
these: "She that liveth in pleasure is _dead_ while she liveth?" Who
allows adequate weight to the metaphor in the Pauline phrase, "To be
carnally minded is _Death_;" or in this, "The wages of sin is _Death_?"
Or what theology has translated into the language of human life the
terrific practical import of "Dead in trespasses and sins?" To seek to
make these phrases once more real and burning; to clothe time-worn
formulæ with living truth; to put the deepest ethical meaning into the
gravest symbol of Nature, and fill up with its full consequence the
darkest threat of Revelation--these are the objects before us now.

What, then, is Death? Is it possible to define it and embody its
essential meaning in an intelligible proposition?

The most recent and the most scientific attempt to investigate Death we
owe to the biological studies of Mr. Herbert Spencer. In his search for
the meaning of Life the word Death crosses his path, and he turns aside
for a moment to define it. Of course what Death is depends upon what
Life is. Mr. Herbert Spencer's definition of Life, it is well known, has
been subjected to serious criticism. While it has shed much light on
many of the phenomena of Life, it cannot be affirmed that it has taken
its place in science as the final solution of the fundamental problem of
biology. No definition of Life, indeed, that has yet appeared can be
said to be even approximately correct. Its mysterious quality evades us;
and we have to be content with outward characteristics and
accompaniments, leaving the thing itself an unsolved riddle. At the same
time Mr. Herbert Spencer's masterly elucidation of the chief phenomena
of Life has placed philosophy and science under many obligations, and in
the paragraphs which follow we shall have to incur a further debt on
behalf of religion.

The meaning of Death depending, as has been said, on the meaning of
Life, we must first set ourselves to grasp the leading characteristics
which distinguish living things. To a physiologist the living organism
is distinguished from the not-living by the performance of certain
functions. These functions are four in number--Assimilation, Waste,
Reproduction, and Growth. Nothing could be a more interesting task than
to point out the co-relatives of these in the spiritual sphere, to show
in what ways the discharge of these functions represent the true
manifestations of spiritual life, and how the failure to perform them
constitutes spiritual Death. But it will bring us more directly to the
specific subject before us if we follow rather the newer biological
lines of Mr. Herbert Spencer. According to his definition, Life is "The
definite combination of heterogeneous changes, both simultaneous and
successive, in correspondence with external co-existences and
sequences,"[55] or more shortly "The continuous adjustment of internal
relations to external relations."[56] An example or two will render
these important statements at once intelligible.

The essential characteristic of a living organism, according to these
definitions, is that it is in vital connection with its general
surroundings. A human being, for instance, is in direct contact with the
earth and air, with all surrounding things, with the warmth of the sun,
with the music of birds, with the countless influences and activities of
nature and of his fellow-men. In biological language he is said thus to
be "in correspondence with his environment." He is, that is to say, in
active and vital connection with them, influencing them possibly, but
especially being influenced by them. Now it is in virtue of this
correspondence that he is entitled to be called alive. So long as he is
in correspondence with any given point of his environment, he lives. To
keep up this correspondence is to keep up life. If his environment
changes he must instantly adjust himself to the change. And he continues
living only as long as he succeeds in adjusting himself to the
"simultaneous and successive changes in his environment" as these occur.
What is meant by a change in his environment may be understood from an
example, which will at the same time define more clearly the intimacy of
the relation between environment and organism. Let us take the case of a
civil-servant whose environment is a district in India. It is a region
subject to occasional and prolonged droughts resulting in periodical
famines. When such a period of scarcity arises, he proceeds immediately
to adjust himself to this external change. Having the power of
locomotion, he may remove himself to a more fertile district, or,
possessing the means of purchase, he may add to his old environment by
importation the "external relations" necessary to continued life. But if
from any cause he fails to adjust himself to the altered circumstances,
his body is thrown out of correspondence with his environment, his
"internal relations" are no longer adjusted to his "external
relations," and his life must cease.

In ordinary circumstances, and in health, the human organism is in
thorough correspondence with its surroundings; but when any part of the
organism by disease or accident is thrown out of correspondence, it is
in that relation dead.

This Death, this want of correspondence, may be either partial or
complete. Part of the organism may be dead to a part of the environment,
or the whole to the whole. Thus the victim of famine may have a certain
number of his correspondences arrested by the change in his environment,
but not all. Luxuries which he once enjoyed no longer enter the country,
animals which once furnished his table are driven from it. These still
exist, but they are beyond the limit of his correspondence. In relation
to these things therefore he is dead. In one sense it might be said that
it was the environment which played him false; in another, that it was
his own organization--that he was unable to adjust himself, or did not.
But, however caused, he pays the penalty with partial Death.

Suppose next the case of a man who is thrown out of correspondence with
a part of his environment by some physical infirmity. Let it be that by
disease or accident he has been deprived of the use of his ears. The
deaf man, in virtue of this imperfection, is thrown out of _rapport_
with a large and well-defined part of the environment, namely, its
sounds. With regard to that "external relation," therefore, he is no
longer living. Part of him may truly be held to be insensible or "Dead."
A man who is also blind is thrown out of correspondence with another
large part of his environment. The beauty of sea and sky, the forms of
cloud and mountain, the features and gestures of friends, are to him as
if they were not. They are there, solid and real, but not to him; he is
still further "Dead." Next, let it be conceived, the subtle finger of
cerebral disease lays hold of him. His whole brain is affected, and the
sensory nerves, the medium of communication with the environment, cease
altogether to acquaint him with what is doing in the outside world. The
outside world is still there, but not to him; he is still further
"Dead." And so the death of parts goes on. He becomes less and less
alive. "Were the animal frame not the complicated machine we have seen
it to be, death might come as a simple and gradual dissolution, the
'sans everything' being the last stage of the successive loss of
fundamental powers."[57] But finally some important part of the mere
animal framework that remains breaks down. The correlation with the
other parts is very intimate, and the stoppage of correspondence with
one means an interference with the work of the rest. Something central
has snapped, and all are thrown out of work. The lungs refuse to
correspond with the air, the heart with the blood. There is now no
correspondence whatever with environment--the thing, for it is now a
thing, is Dead.

This then is Death; "part of the framework breaks down," "something has
snapped"--these phrases by which we describe the phases of death yield
their full meaning. They are different ways of saying that
"correspondence" has ceased. And the scientific meaning of Death now
becomes clearly intelligible. Dying is that breakdown in an organism
which throws it out of correspondence with some necessary part of the
environment. Death is the result produced, the want of correspondence.
We do not say that this is all that is involved. But this is the root
idea of Death--Failure to adjust internal relations to external
relations, failure to repair the broken inward connection sufficiently
to enable it to correspond again with the old surroundings. These
preliminary statements may be fitly closed with the words of Mr. Herbert
Spencer: "Death by natural decay occurs because in old age the
relations between assimilation, oxidation, and genesis of force going
on in the organism gradually fall out of correspondence with the
relations between oxygen and food and absorption of heat by the
environment. Death from disease arises either when the organism is
congenitally defective in its power to balance the ordinary external
actions by the ordinary internal actions, or when there has taken place
some unusual external action to which there was no answering internal
action. Death by accident implies some neighboring mechanical changes of
which the causes are either unnoticed from inattention, or are so
intricate that their results cannot be foreseen, and consequently
certain relations in the organism are not adjusted to the relations in
the environment."[58]

With the help of these plain biological terms we may now proceed to
examine the parallel phenomenon of Death in the spiritual world. The
factors with which we have to deal are two in number as before--Organism
and Environment. The relation between them may once more be denominated
by "correspondence." And the truth to be emphasized resolves itself into
this, that Spiritual Death is a want of correspondence between the
organism and the spiritual environment.

What is the spiritual environment? This term obviously demands some
further definition. For Death is a relative term. And before we can
define Death in the spiritual world we must first apprehend the
particular relation with reference to which the expression is to be
employed. We shall best reach the nature of this relation by considering
for a moment the subject of environment generally. By the natural
environment we mean the entire surroundings of the natural man, the
entire external world in which he lives and moves and has his being. It
is not involved in the idea that either with all or part of the
environment he is in immediate correspondence. Whether he correspond
with it or not, it is there. There is in fact a conscious environment
and an environment of which he is not conscious; and it must be borne in
mind that the conscious environment is not all the environment that is.
All that surrounds him, all that environs him, conscious or unconscious,
is environment. The moon and stars are part of it, though in the daytime
he may not see them. The polar regions are parts of it, though he is
seldom aware of their influence. In its widest sense environment simply
means all else that is.

Now it will next be manifest that different organisms correspond with
this environment in varying degrees of completeness or incompleteness.
At the bottom of the biological scale we find organisms which have only
the most limited correspondence with their surroundings. A tree, for
example, corresponds with the soil about its stem, with the sunlight,
and with the air in contact with its leaves. But it is shut off by its
comparatively low development from a whole world to which higher forms
of life have additional access. The want of locomotion alone
circumscribes most seriously its area of correspondence, so that to a
large part of surrounding nature it may truly be said to be dead. So far
as consciousness is concerned, we should be justified indeed in saying
that it was not alive at all. The murmur of the stream which bathes its
roots affects it not. The marvelous insect-life beneath its shadow
excites in it no wonder. The tender maternity of the bird which has its
nest among its leaves stirs no responsive sympathy. It cannot correspond
with those things. To stream and insect and bird it is insensible,
torpid, dead. For this is Death, this irresponsiveness.

The bird, again, which is higher in the scale of life, corresponds with
a wider environment. The stream is real to it, and the insect. It knows
what lies behind the hill; it listens to the love-song of its mate. And
to much besides beyond the simple world of the tree this higher
organism is alive. The bird we should say is more living than the tree;
it has a correspondence with a larger area of environment. But this
bird-life is not yet the highest life. Even within the immediate
bird-environment there is much to which the bird must still be held to
be dead. Introduce a higher organism, place man himself within this same
environment, and see how much more living he is. A hundred things which
the bird never saw in insect, stream, and tree appeal to him. Each
single sense has something to correspond with. Each faculty finds an
appropriate exercise. Man is a mass of correspondences, and because of
these, because he is alive to countless objects and influences to which
lower organisms are dead, he is the most living of all creatures.

The relativity of Death will now have become sufficiently obvious. Man
being left out of account, all organisms are seen as it were to be
partly living and partly dead. The tree, in correspondence with a narrow
area of environment, is to that extent alive; to all beyond, to the all
but infinite area beyond, it is dead. A still wider portion of this vast
area is the possession of the insect and the bird. Their's also,
nevertheless, is but a little world, and to an immense further area
insect and bird are dead. All organisms likewise are living and
dead--living to all within the circumference of their correspondences,
dead to all beyond. As we rise in the scale of life, however, it will be
observed that the sway of Death is gradually weakened. More and more of
the environment becomes accessible as we ascend, and the domain of life
in this way slowly extends in ever-widening circles. But until man
appears there is no organism to correspond with the whole environment.
Till then the outermost circles have no correspondents. To the
inhabitants of the innermost spheres they are as if they were not.

Now follows a momentous question. Is man in correspondence with the
whole environment? When we reach the highest living organism, is the
final blow dealt to the kingdom of Death? Has the last acre of the
infinite area been taken in by his finite faculties? Is his conscious
environment the whole environment? Or is there, among these outermost
circles, one which with his multitudinous correspondences he fails to
reach? If so, this is Death. The question of Life or Death to him is the
question of the amount of remaining environment he is able to compass.
If there be one circle or one segment of a circle which he yet fails to
reach, to correspond with, to know, to be influenced by, he is, with
regard to that circle or segment, dead.

What then, practically, is the state of the case? Is man in
correspondence with the whole environment or is he not? There is but one
answer. He is not. Of men generally it cannot be said that they are in
living contact with that part of the environment which is called the
spiritual world. In introducing this new term spiritual world, observe,
we are not interpolating a new factor. This is an essential part of the
old idea. We have been following out an ever-widening environment from
point to point, and now we reach the outermost zones. The spiritual
world is simply the outermost segment, circle, or circles of the natural
world. For purposes of convenience we separate the two just as we
separate the animal world from the plant. But the animal world and the
plant world are the same world. They are different parts of one
environment. And the natural and spiritual are likewise one. The inner
circles are called the natural, the outer the spiritual. And we call
them spiritual simply because they are beyond us or beyond a part of us.
What we have correspondence with, that we call natural; what we have
little or no correspondence with, that we call spiritual. But when the
appropriate corresponding organism appears, the organism, that is, which
can freely communicate with these outer circles, the distinction
necessarily disappears. The spiritual to it becomes the outer circle of
the natural.

Now of the great mass of living organisms, of the great mass of men, is
it not to be affirmed that they are out of correspondence with this
outer circle? Suppose, to make the final issue more real, we give this
outermost circle of environment a name. Suppose we call it God. Suppose
also we substitute a word for "correspondence" to express more
intimately the personal relation. Let us call it Communion. We can now
determine accurately the spiritual relation of different sections of
mankind. Those who are in communion with God live, those who are not are

The extent or depth of this communion, the varying degrees of
correspondence in different individuals, and the less or more abundant
life which these result in, need not concern us for the present. The
task we have set ourselves is to investigate the essential nature of
Spiritual Death. And we have found it to consist in a want of communion
with God. The unspiritual man is he who lives in the circumscribed
environment of this present world. "She that liveth in pleasure is Dead
while she liveth." "To be carnally minded is Death." To be carnally
minded, translated into the language of science, is to be limited in
one's correspondences to the environment of the natural man. It is no
necessary part of the conception that the mind should be either
purposely irreligious, or directly vicious. The mind of the flesh,
φρόνημα τῆς σαρκὸς, by its very nature, limited capacity, and time-ward
tendency, is θάνατος, Death. This earthly mind may be of noble caliber,
enriched by culture, high toned, virtuous and pure. But if it know not
God? What though its correspondences reach to the stars of heaven or
grasp the magnitudes of Time and Space? The stars of heaven are not
heaven. Space is not God. This mind certainly, has life, life up to its
level. There is no trace of Death. Possibly, too, it carries its
deprivation lightly, and, up to its level, lies content. We do not
picture the possessor of this carnal mind as in any sense a monster. We
have said he may be high-toned, virtuous, and pure. The plant is not a
monster because it is dead to the voice of the bird; nor is he a monster
who is dead to the voice of God. The contention at present simply is
that he is _Dead_.

We do not need to go to Revelation for the proof of this. That has been
rendered unnecessary by the testimony of the Dead themselves. Thousands
have uttered themselves upon their relation to the Spiritual World, and
from their own lips we have the proclamation of their Death. The
language of theology in describing the state of the natural man is often
regarded as severe. The Pauline anthropology has been challenged as an
insult to human nature. Culture has opposed the doctrine that "The
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are
foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are
spiritually discerned." And even some modern theologies have refused to
accept the most plain of the aphorisms of Jesus, that "Except a man be
born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God." But this stern doctrine of
the spiritual deadness of humanity is no mere dogma of a past theology.
The history of thought during the present century proves that the world
has come round spontaneously to the position of the first. One of the
ablest philosophical schools of the day erects a whole antichristian
system on this very doctrine. Seeking by means of it to sap the
foundation of spiritual religion, it stands unconsciously as the most
significant witness for its truth. What is the creed of the Agnostic,
but the confession of the spiritual numbness of humanity? The negative
doctrine which it reiterates with such sad persistency, what is it but
the echo of the oldest of scientific and religious truths? And what are
all these gloomy and rebellious infidelities, these touching, and too
sincere confessions of universal nescience, but a protest against this
ancient law of Death?

The Christian apologist never further misses the mark than when he
refuses the testimony of the Agnostic to himself. When the Agnostic
tells me he is blind and deaf, dumb, torpid and dead to the spiritual
world, I must believe him. Jesus tells me that. Paul tells me that.
Science tells me that. He knows nothing of this outermost circle; and we
are compelled to trust his sincerity as readily when he deplores it as
if, being a man without an ear, he professed to know nothing of a
musical world, or being without taste, of a world of art. The nescience
of the Agnostic philosophy is the proof from experience that to be
carnally minded is Death. Let the theological value of the concession be
duly recognized. It brings no solace to the unspiritual man to be told
he is mistaken. To say he is self-deceived is neither to compliment him
nor Christianity. He builds in all sincerity who raises his altar to the
_Unknown_ God. He does not know God. With all his marvelous and complex
correspondences, he is still one correspondence short.

It is a point worthy of special note that the proclamation of this truth
has always come from science rather than from religion. Its general
acceptance by thinkers is based upon the universal failure of a
universal experiment. The statement, therefore, that the natural man
discerneth not the things of the spirit, is never to be charged against
the intolerance of theology. There is no point at which theology has
been more modest than here. It has left the preaching of a great
fundamental truth almost entirely to philosophy and science. And so very
moderate has been its tone, so slight has been the emphasis placed upon
the paralysis of the natural with regard to the spiritual, that it may
seem to some to have been intolerant. No harm certainly could come now,
no offence could be given to science, if religion asserted more clearly
its right to the spiritual world. Science has paved the way for the
reception of one of the most revolutionary doctrines of Christianity;
and if Christianity refuses to take advantage of the opening it will
manifest a culpable want of confidence in itself. There never was a time
when its fundamental doctrines could more boldly be proclaimed, or when
they could better secure the respect and arrest the interest of Science.

To all this, and apparently with force, it may, however, be objected
that to every man who truly studies Nature there is a God. Call Him by
whatever name--a Creator, a Supreme Being, a Great First Cause, a Power
that makes for Righteousness--Science has a God; and he who believes in
this, in spite of all protest, possesses a theology. "If we will look at
things, and not merely at words, we shall soon see that the scientific
man has a theology and a God, a most impressive theology, a most awful
and glorious God. I say that man believes in a God who feels himself in
the presence of a Power which is not himself, and is immeasurably above
himself, a Power in the contemplation of which he is absorbed, in the
knowledge of which he finds safety and happiness. And such now is Nature
to the scientific man."[59] Such now, we humbly submit, is Nature to the
very few. Their own confession is against it. That they are "absorbed"
in the contemplation we can well believe. That they might "find safety
and happiness" in the knowledge of Him is also possible--if they had it.
But this is just what they tell us they have not. What they deny is not
a God. It is the correspondence. The very confession of the Unknowable
is itself the dull recognition of an Environment beyond themselves, and
for which they feel they lack the correspondence. It is this want that
makes their God the Unknown God. And it is this that makes them _dead_.

We have not said, or implied, that there is not a God of Nature. We have
not affirmed that there is no Natural Religion. We are assured there is.
We are even assured that without a Religion of Nature Religion is only
half complete; that without a God of Nature the God of Revelation is
only half intelligible and only partially known. God is not confined to
the outermost circle of environment, He lives and moves and has His
being in the whole. Those who only seek Him in the further zone can
only find a part. The Christian who knows not God in Nature, who does
not, that is to say, correspond with the whole environment, most
certainly is partially dead. The author of "Ecce Homo" may be partially
right when he says: "I think a bystander would say that though
Christianity had in it something far higher and deeper and more
ennobling, yet the average scientific man worships just at present a
more awful, and, as it were, a greater Deity than the average Christian.
In so many Christians the idea of God has been degraded by childish and
little-minded teaching; the Eternal and the Infinite and the
All-embracing has been represented as the head of the clerical interest,
as a sort of clergyman, as a sort of schoolmaster, as a sort of
philanthropist. But the scientific man knows Him to be eternal; in
astronomy, in geology, he becomes familiar with the countless
millenniums of His lifetime. The scientific man strains his mind
actually to realize God's infinity. As far off as the fixed stars he
traces Him, 'distance inexpressible by numbers that have name.'
Meanwhile, to the theologian, infinity and eternity are very much of
empty words when applied to the object of his worship. He does not
realize them in actual facts and definite computations."[60] Let us
accept this rebuke. The principle that want of correspondence is Death
applies all round. He who knows not God in Nature only partially lives.
The converse of this, however, is not true; and that is the point we are
insisting on. He who knows God only in Nature lives not. There is no
"correspondence" with an Unknown God, no "continuous adjustment" to a
fixed First Cause. There is no "assimilation" of Natural Law; no growth
in the Image of "the All-embracing." To correspond with the God of
Science assuredly is not to live. "This is Life Eternal, to know Thee,
_the true God_, and _Jesus Christ_ Whom Thou hast sent."

From the service we have tried to make natural science render to our
religion, we might be expected possibly to take up the position that the
absolute contribution of Science to Revelation was very great. On the
contrary, it is very small. The _absolute_ contribution, that is, is
very small. The contribution on the whole is immense, vaster than we
have yet any idea of. But without the aid of the higher Revelation this
many-toned and far-reaching voice had been forever dumb. The light of
Nature, say the most for it, is dim--how dim we ourselves, with the
glare of other Light upon the modern world, can only realize when we
seek among the pagan records of the past for the groupings after truth
of those whose only light was this. Powerfully significant and touching
as these efforts were in their success, they are far more significant
and touching in their failure. For they did fail. It requires no
philosophy now to speculate on the adequacy or inadequacy of the
Religion of Nature. For us who could never weigh it rightly in the
scales of Truth it has been tried in the balance of experience and found
wanting. Theism is the easiest of all religions to get, but the most
difficult to keep. Individuals have kept it, but nations never. Socrates
and Aristotle, Cicero and Epictetus had a theistic religion; Greece and
Rome had none. And even after getting what seems like a firm place in
the minds of men, its unstable equilibrium sooner or later betrays
itself. On the one hand theism has always fallen into the wildest
polytheism, or on the other into the blankest atheism. "It is an
indubitable historical fact that, outside of the sphere of special
revelation, man has never obtained such a knowledge of God as a
responsible and religious being plainly requires. The wisdom of the
heathen world, at its very best, was utterly inadequate to the
accomplishment of such a task as creating a due abhorrence of sin,
controlling the passions, purifying the heart, and ennobling the

What is the inference? That this poor rush-light by itself was never
meant to lend the ray by which man should read the riddle of the
universe. The mystery is too impenetrable and remote for its uncertain
flicker to more than make the darkness deeper. What indeed if this were
not a light at all, but only part of a light--the carbon point, the
fragment of calcium, the reflector in the great Lantern which contains
the Light of the World?

This is one inference. But the most important is that the absence of the
true Light means moral Death. The darkness of the natural world to the
intellect is not all. What history testifies to is, first the partial,
and then the total eclipse of virtue that always follows the abandonment
of belief in a personal God. It is not, as has been pointed out a
hundred times, that morality in the abstract disappears, but the motive
and sanction are gone. There is nothing to raise it from the dead. Man's
attitude to it is left to himself. Grant that morals have their own base
in human life; grant that Nature has a Religion whose creed is Science;
there is yet nothing apart from God to save the world from moral Death.
Morality has the power to dictate but none to move. Nature directs but
cannot control. As was wisely expressed in one of many pregnant
utterances during a recent _Symposium_, "Though the decay of religion
may leave the institutes of morality intact, it drains off their inward
power. The devout faith of men expresses and measures the intensity of
their moral nature, and it cannot be lost without a remission of
enthusiasm, and under this low pressure, the successful reëntrance of
importunate desires and clamorous passions which had been driven back.
To believe in an ever-living and perfect Mind, supreme over the
universe, is to invest moral distinctions with immensity and eternity,
and lift them from the provincial stage of human society to the
imperishable theater of all being. When planted thus in the very
substance of things, they justify and support the ideal estimates of
the conscience; they deepen every guilty shame; they guarantee every
righteous hope; and they help the will with a Divine casting-vote in
every balance of temptation."[62] That morality has a basis in human
society, that Nature has a Religion, surely makes the Death of the soul
when left to itself all the more appalling. It means that, between them,
Nature and morality provide all for virtue--except the Life to live it.

It is at this point accordingly that our subject comes into intimate
contact with Religion. The proposition that "to be carnally minded is
Death" even the moralist will assent to. But when it is further
announced that "the carnal mind is _enmity against God_" we find
ourselves in a different region. And when we find it also stated that
"the wages of _sin_ is Death," we are in the heart of the profoundest
questions of theology. What before was merely "enmity against society"
becomes "enmity against God;" and what was "vice" is "sin." The
conception of a God gives an altogether new color to worldliness and
vice. Worldliness it changes into heathenism, vice into blasphemy. The
carnal mind, the mind which is turned away from God, which will not
correspond with God--this is not moral only but spiritual Death. And
Sin, that which separates from God, which disobeys God, which _can_ not
in that state correspond with God--this is hell.

To the estrangement of the soul from God the best of theology traces the
ultimate cause of sin. Sin is simply apostasy from God, unbelief in God.
"Sin is manifest in its true character when the demand of holiness in
the conscience, presenting itself to the man as one of loving submission
to God, is put from him with aversion. Here sin appears as it really is,
a turning away from God; and while the man's guilt is enhanced, there
ensues a benumbing of the heart resulting from the crushing of those
higher impulses. This is what is meant by the reprobate state of those
who reject Christ and will not believe the Gospel, so often spoken of in
the New Testament; this unbelief is just the closing of the heart
against the highest love."[63] The other view of sin, probably the more
popular at present, that sin consists in selfishness, is merely this
from another aspect. Obviously if the mind turns away from one part of
the environment it will only do so under some temptation to correspond
with another. This temptation, at bottom, can only come from one
source--the love of self. The irreligious man's correspondences are
concentrated upon himself. He worships himself. Self-gratification
rather than self-denial; independence rather than submission--these are
the rules of life. And this is at once the poorest and the commonest
form of idolatry.

But whichever of these views of sin we emphasize, we find both equally
connected with Death. If sin is estrangement from God, this very
estrangement is Death. It is a want of correspondence. If sin is
selfishness, it is conducted at the expense of life. Its wages are
Death--"he that loveth his life," said Christ, "shall lose it."

Yet the paralysis of the moral nature apart from God does not only
depend for its evidence upon theology or even upon history. From the
analogies of Nature one would expect this result as a necessary
consequence. The development of any organism in any direction is
dependent on its environment. A living cell cut off from air will die. A
seed-germ apart from moisture and an appropriate temperature will make
the ground its grave for centuries. Human nature, likewise, is subject
to similar conditions. It can only develop in presence of its
environment. No matter what its possibilities may be, no matter what
seeds of thought or virtue, what germs of genius or of art, lie latent
in its breast, until the appropriate environment present itself the
correspondence is denied, the development discouraged, the most splendid
possibilities of life remain unrealized, and thought and virtue, genius
and art, are dead. The true environment of the moral life is God. Here
conscience wakes. Here kindles love. Duty here becomes heroic; and that
righteousness begins to live which alone is to live forever. But if this
Atmosphere is not, the dwarfed soul must perish for mere want of its
native air. And its Death is a strictly natural Death. It is not an
exceptional judgment upon Atheism. In the same circumstances, in the
same averted relation to their environment, the poet, the musician, the
artist, would alike perish to poetry, to music, and to art. Every
environment is a cause. Its effect upon me is exactly proportionate to
my correspondence with it. If I correspond with part of it, part of
myself is influenced. If I correspond with more, more of myself is
influenced; if with all, all is influenced. If I correspond with the
world, I become worldly; if with God, I become Divine. As without
correspondence of the scientific man with the natural environment there
could be no Science and no action founded on the knowledge of Nature, so
without communion with the spiritual Environment there can be no
Religion. To refuse to cultivate the religious relation is to deny to
the soul its highest right--the right to a further evolution.[64] We
have already admitted that he who knows not God may not be a monster; we
cannot say he will not be a dwarf. This precisely, and on perfectly
natural principles, is what he must be. You can dwarf a soul just as
you can dwarf a plant, by depriving it of a full environment. Such a
soul for a time may have "a name to live." Its character may betray no
sign of atrophy. But its very virtue somehow has the pallor of a flower
that is grown in darkness, or as the herb which has never seen the sun,
no fragrance breathes from its spirit. To morality, possibly, this
organism offers the example of an irreproachable life; but to science it
is an instance of arrested development; and to religion it presents the
spectacle of a corpse--a living Death. With Ruskin, "I do not wonder at
what men suffer, but I wonder often at what they lose."


[55] "Principles of Biology," vol. i, p. 74.

[56] _Ibid._

[57] Foster's "Physiology," p. 642.

[58] Op. cit., pp. 88, 89.

[59] "Natural Religion," p. 19.

[60] "Natural Religion," p. 20.

[61] Prof. Flint, "Theism," p. 805.

[62] Martineau. _Vide_ the whole Symposium on "The Influences upon
Morality of a Decline in Religious Belief."--_Nineteenth Century_, vol.
i. pp. 331, 531.

[63] Müller: "Christian Doctrine of Sin." 2d Ed., vol i. p 131.

[64] It would not be difficult to show, were this the immediate subject,
that it is not only a right but a duty to exercise the spiritual
faculties, a duty demanded not by religion merely, but by science. Upon
biological principles man owes his full development to himself, to
nature, and to his fellow-men. Thus Mr. Herbert Spencer affirms, "The
performance of every function is, in a sense, a moral obligation. It is
usually thought that morality requires us only to restrain such vital
activities as, in our present state, are often pushed to excess, or such
as conflict with average welfare, special or general: but it also
requires us to carry on these vital activities up to their normal
limits. All the animal functions, in common with all the higher
functions, have, as thus understood, their imperativeness."--"The Data
of Ethics," 2d Ed., p. 76.


    "If, by tying its main artery, we stop most of the blood going to a
    limb, then, for as long as the limb performs its functions, those
    parts which are called into play must be wasted faster than they are
    repaired: whence eventual disablement. The relation between due
    receipt of nutritive matters through its arteries, and due discharge
    of its duties by the limb, is a part of the physical order. If
    instead of cutting off the supply to a particular limb, we bleed the
    patient largely, so drafting away the materials needed for repairing
    not one limb but all limbs, and not limbs only but viscera, there
    results both a muscular debility and an enfeeblement of the vital
    functions. Here, again, cause and effect are necessarily related....
    Pass now to those actions more commonly thought of as the occasions
    for rules of conduct."--_Herbert Spencer._

    "Mortify therefore your members which are upon earth."--_Paul._

        "O Star-eyed Science! hast thou wandered there
        To waft us home the message of despair?"--_Campbell._

The definition of Death which science has given us is this: _A falling
out of correspondence with environment._ When, for example, a man loses
the sight of his eyes, his correspondence with the environing world is
curtailed. His life is limited in an important direction; he is less
living than he was before. If, in addition, he loses the senses of touch
and hearing, his correspondences are still further limited; he is
therefore still further dead. And when all possible correspondences have
ceased, when the nerves decline to respond to any stimulus, when the
lungs close their gates against the air, when the heart refuses to
correspond with the blood by so much as another beat, the insensate
corpse is wholly and forever dead. The soul, in like manner, which has
no correspondence with the spiritual environment is spiritually dead. It
may be that it never possessed the spiritual eye or the spiritual ear,
or a heart which throbbed in response to the love of God. If so, having
never lived, it cannot be said to have died. But not to have these
correspondences is to be in the state of Death. To the spiritual world,
to the Divine Environment, it is dead--as a stone which has never lived
is dead to the environment of the organic world.

Having already abundantly illustrated this use of the symbol Death, we
may proceed to deal with another class of expressions where the same
term is employed in an exactly opposite connection. It is a proof of the
radical nature of religion that a word so extreme should have to be used
again and again in Christian teaching, to define in different directions
the true spiritual relations of mankind. Hitherto we have concerned
ourselves with the condition of the natural man with regard to the
spiritual world. We have now to speak of the relations of the spiritual
man with regard to the natural world. Carrying with us the same
essential principle--want of correspondence--underlying the meaning of
Death, we shall find that the relation of the spiritual man to the
natural world, or at least to part of it, is to be that of Death.

When the natural man becomes the spiritual man, the great change is
described by Christ as a passing from Death unto Life. Before the
transition occurred, the practical difficulty was this, how to get into
correspondence with the new Environment? But no sooner is this
correspondence established than the problem is reversed. The question
now is, how to get out of correspondence with the old environment? The
moment the new life is begun there comes a genuine anxiety to break with
the old. For the former environment has now become embarrassing. It
refuses its dismissal from consciousness. It competes doggedly with the
new Environment for a share of the correspondences. And in a hundred
ways the former traditions, the memories and passions of the past, the
fixed associations and habits of the earlier life, now complicate the
new relation. The complex and bewildered soul, in fact, finds itself in
correspondence with two environments, each with urgent but yet
incompatible claims. It is a dual soul living in a double world, a world
whose inhabitants are deadly enemies, and engaged in perpetual

The position of things is perplexing. It is clear that no man can
attempt to live both lives. To walk both in the flesh and in the spirit
is morally impossible. "No man," as Christ so often emphasized, "can
serve two masters." And yet, as matter of fact, here is the new-born
being in communication with both environments? With sin and purity,
light and darkness, time and Eternity, God and Devil, the confused and
undecided soul is now in correspondence. What is to be done in such an
emergency? How can the New Life deliver itself from the still-persistent

A ready solution of the difficulty would be _to die_. Were one to die
organically, to die and "go to heaven," all correspondence with the
lower environment would be arrested at a stroke. For Physical Death of
course simply means the final stoppage of all natural correspondences
with this sinful world.

But this alternative, fortunately or unfortunately, is not open. The
detention here of body and spirit for a given period is determined for
us, and we are morally bound to accept the situation. We must look then
for a further alternative.

Actual Death being denied us, we must ask ourselves if there is nothing
else resembling it--no artificial relation, no imitation or semblance of
Death which would serve our purpose. If we cannot yet die absolutely,
surely the next best thing will be to find a temporary substitute. If we
cannot die altogether, in short, the most we can do is to die as much as
we can. And we now know this is open to us, and how. To die to any
environment is to withdraw correspondence with it, to cut ourselves off,
so far as possible, from all communication with it. So that the solution
of the problem will simply be this, for the spiritual life to reverse
continuously the processes of the natural life. The spiritual man having
passed from Death unto Life, the natural man must next proceed to pass
from Life unto Death. Having opened the new set of correspondences, he
must deliberately close up the old. Regeneration in short must be
accompanied by Degeneration.

Now it is no surprise to find that this is the process everywhere
described and recommended by the founders of the Christian system. Their
proposal to the natural man, or rather to the natural part of the
spiritual man, with regard to a whole series of inimical relations, is
precisely this. If he cannot really die, he must make an adequate
approach to it by "reckoning himself dead." Seeing that, until the cycle
of his organic life is complete he cannot die physically, he must
meantime die morally, reckoning himself morally dead to that environment
which, by competing for his correspondences, has now become an obstacle
to his spiritual life.

The variety of ways in which the New Testament writers insist upon this
somewhat extraordinary method is sufficiently remarkable. And although
the idea involved is essentially the same throughout, it will clearly
illustrate the nature of the act if we examine separately three
different modes of expression employed in the later Scriptures in this
connection. The methods by which the spiritual man is to withdraw
himself from the old environment--or from that part of it which will
directly hinder the spiritual life--are three in number:--

    First, Suicide.
    Second, Mortification.
    Third, Limitation.

It will be found in practice that these different methods are adapted,
respectively, to meet three different forms of temptation; so that we
possess a sufficient warrant for giving a brief separate treatment to

First, Suicide. Stated in undisguised phraseology, the advice of Paul to
the Christian, with regard to a part of his nature, is to commit
suicide. If the Christian is to "live unto God," he must "die unto sin."
If he does not kill sin, sin will inevitably kill him. Recognizing this,
he must set himself to reduce the number of his correspondences--retaining
and developing those which lead to a fuller life, unconditionally
withdrawing those which in any way tend in an opposite direction. This
stoppage of correspondences is a voluntary act, a crucifixion of the
flesh, a suicide.

Now the least experience of life will make it evident that a large class
of sins can only be met, as it were, by Suicide. The peculiar feature of
Death by Suicide is that it is not only self-inflicted but sudden. And
there are many sins which must either be dealt with suddenly or not at
all. Under this category, for instance, are to be included generally all
sins of the appetites and passions. Other sins, from their peculiar
nature, can only be treated by methods less abrupt, but the sudden
operation of the knife is the only successful means of dealing with
fleshly sins. For example, the correspondence of the drunkard with his
wine is a thing which can be broken off by degrees only in the rarest
cases. To attempt it gradually may in an isolated case succeed, but even
then the slightly prolonged gratification is no compensation for the
slow torture of a gradually diminishing indulgence. "If thine appetite
offend thee cut it off," may seem at first but a harsh remedy; but when
we contemplate on the one hand the lingering pain of the gradual
process, on the other its constant peril, we are compelled to admit that
the principle is as kind as it is wise. The expression "total
abstinence" in such a case is a strictly biological formula. It implies
the sudden destruction of a definite portion of environment by the total
withdrawal of all the connecting links. Obviously of course total
abstinence ought thus to be allowed a much wider application than to
cases of "intemperance." It's the only decisive method of dealing with
any sin of the flesh; The very nature of the relations makes it
absolutely imperative that every victim of unlawful appetite, in
whatever direction, shall totally abstain. Hence Christ's apparently
extreme and peremptory language defines the only possible, as well as
the only charitable, expedient: "If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it
out, and cast it from thee. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it
off, and cast it from thee."

The humanity of what is called "sudden conversion" has never been
insisted on as it deserves. In discussing "Biogenesis"[65] it has been
already pointed out that while growth is a slow and gradual process, the
change from Death to Life alike in the natural and spiritual spheres is
the work of a moment. Whatever the conscious hour of the second birth
may be--in the case of an adult it is probably defined by the first real
victory over sin--it is certain that on biological principles the real
turning-point is literally a moment. But on moral and humane grounds
this misunderstood, perverted, and therefore despised doctrine is
equally capable of defence. Were any reformer, with an adequate
knowledge of human life, to sit down and plan a scheme for the salvation
of sinful men, he would probably come to the conclusion that the best
way after all, perhaps indeed the only way, to turn a sinner from the
error of his ways would be to do it suddenly.

Suppose a drunkard were advised to take off one portion from his usual
allowance the first week, another the second, and so on! Or suppose at
first, he only allowed himself to become intoxicated in the evenings,
then every second evening, then only on Saturday nights, and finally
only every Christmas? How would a thief be reformed if he slowly reduced
the number of his burglaries, or a wife-beater by gradually diminishing
the number of his blows? The argument ends with an _ad absurdum_. "Let
him that stole _steal no more_," is the only feasible, the only moral,
and the only humane way. This may not apply to every case, but when any
part of man's sinful life can be dealt with by immediate Suicide, to
make him reach the end, even were it possible, by a lingering death,
would be a monstrous cruelty. And yet it is this very thing in "sudden
conversion," that men object to--the sudden change, the decisive stand,
the uncompromising rupture with the past, the precipitate flight from
sin as of one escaping for his life. Men surely forget that this is an
escaping for one's life. Let the poor prisoner run--madly and blindly if
he like, for the terror of Death is upon him. God knows, when the pause
comes, how the chains will gall him still.

It is a peculiarity of the sinful state, that as a general rule men are
linked to evil mainly by a single correspondence. Few men break the
whole law. Our natures, fortunately, are not large enough to make us
guilty of all, and the restraints of circumstances are usually such as
to leave a loophole in the life of each individual for only a single
habitual sin. But it is very easy to see how this reduction of our
intercourse with evil to a single correspondence blinds us to our true
position. Our correspondences, as a whole, are not with evil, and in our
calculations as to our spiritual condition we emphasize the many
negatives rather than the single positive. One little weakness, we are
apt to fancy, all men must be allowed, and we even claim a certain
indulgence for that apparent necessity of nature which we call our
besetting sin. Yet to break with the lower environment at all, to many,
is to break at this single point. It is the only important point at
which they touch it, circumstances or natural disposition making
habitual contact at other places impossible. The sinful environment, in
short, to them means a small but well-defined area. Now if contact at
this point be not broken off, they are virtually in contact still with
the whole environment. There may be only one avenue between the new life
and the old, it may be but a small and _subterranean passage_, but this
is sufficient to keep the old life in. So long as that remains the
victim is not "dead unto sin," and therefore he cannot "live unto God."
Hence the reasonableness of the words, "Whatsoever shall keep the whole
law, and yet offend at one point, he is guilty of all." In the natural
world it only requires a single vital correspondence of the body to be
out of order to insure Death. It is not necessary to have consumption,
diabetes, and an aneurism to bring the body to the grave if it have
heart-disease. He who is fatally diseased in one organ necessarily pays
the penalty with his life, though all the others be in perfect health.
And such, likewise, are the mysterious unity and correlation of
functions in the spiritual organism that the disease of one member may
involve the ruin of the whole. The reason, therefore, with which Christ
follows up the announcement of His Doctrine of Mutilation, or local
Suicide, finds here at once its justification and interpretation: "If
thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: _for_ it
is profitable for thee that _one_ of thy members should perish, and not
that thy _whole body_ should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand
offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: _for_ it is profitable
for thee that _one_ of thy members should perish, and not that thy
_whole body_ should be cast into hell."

Secondly, Mortification. The warrant for the use of this expression is
found in the well-known phrases of Paul, "If ye through the Spirit do
mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live," and "Mortify therefore
your members which are upon earth." The word mortify here is, literally,
to make to die. It is used, of course, in no specially technical sense;
and to attempt to draw a detailed moral from the pathology of
mortification would be equally fantastic and irrelevant. But without in
any way straining the meaning it is obvious that we have here a slight
addition to our conception of dying to sin. In contrast with Suicide,
Mortification implies a gradual rather than a sudden process. The
contexts in which the passages occur will make this meaning so clear,
and are otherwise so instructive in the general connection, that we may
quote them, from the New Version, at length: "They that are after the
flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the
Spirit the things of the Spirit. For the mind of the flesh is death; but
the mind of the Spirit is life and peace: because the mind of the flesh
is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither
indeed can it be: and they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But
ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of
God dwell in you. But if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is
none of His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin;
but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of
Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwelleth in you, He that raised
up Christ Jesus from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies
through His Spirit that dwelleth in you. So then, brethren, we are
debtors not to the flesh, to live after the flesh: for if ye live after
the flesh ye must die; but if by the Spirit ye mortify the doings
(marg.) of the body, ye shall live."[66]

And again, "If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things
that are above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God. Set
your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon
the earth. For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When
Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with
Him be manifested in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are
upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and
covetousness, the which is idolatry; for which things' sake cometh the
wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience; in the which ye also walked
aforetime, when ye lived in these things. But now put ye also away all
these; anger, wrath, malice, railing, shameful speaking out of your
mouth: lie not one to another; seeing that ye have put off the old man
with his doings, and have put on the new man, which is being renewed
unto knowledge after the image of Him that created him."[67]

From the nature of the case as here stated it is evident that no sudden
process could entirely transfer a man from the old into the new
relation. To break altogether, and at every point, with the old
environment, is a simple impossibility. So long as the regenerate man is
kept in this world, he must find the old environment at many points a
severe temptation. Power over very many of the commonest temptations is
only to be won by degrees, and however anxious one might be to apply the
summary method to every case, he soon finds it impossible in practice.
The difficulty in these cases arises from a peculiar feature of the
temptation. The difference between a sin of drunkenness, and, let us
say, a sin of temper, is that in the former case the victim who would
reform has mainly to deal with the environment, but in the latter with
the correspondence. The drunkard's temptation is a known and definite
quantity. His safety lies in avoiding some external and material
substance. Of course, at bottom, he is really dealing with the
correspondence every time he resists; he is distinctly controlling
appetite. Nevertheless it is less the appetite that absorbs his mind
than the environment. And so long as he can keep himself clear of the
"external relation," to use Mr. Herbert Spencer's phraseology, he has
much less difficulty with the "internal relation." The ill-tempered
person, on the other hand, can make very little of his environment.
However he may attempt to circumscribe it in certain directions, there
will always remain a wide and ever-changing area to stimulate his
irascibility. His environment, in short, is an inconstant quantity, and
his most elaborate calculations and precautions must often and suddenly
fail him.

What he has to deal with, then, mainly is the correspondence, the
temper itself. And that, he well knows, involves a long and humiliating
discipline. The case now is not at all a surgical but a medical one, and
the knife is here of no more use than in a fever. A specific irritant
has poisoned his veins. And the acrid humors that are breaking out all
over the surface of his life are only to be subdued by a gradual
sweetening of the inward spirit. It is now known that the human body
acts toward certain fever-germs as a sort of soil. The man whose blood
is pure has nothing to fear. So he whose spirit is purified and
sweetened becomes proof against these germs of sin. "Anger, wrath,
malice and railing" in such a soil can find no root.

The difference between this and the former method of dealing with sin
may be illustrated by another analogy. The two processes depend upon two
different natural principles. The Mutilation of a member, for instance,
finds its analogue in the horticultural operation of _pruning_, where
the object is to divert life from a useless into a useful channel. A
part of a plant which previously monopolized a large share of the vigor
of the total organism, but without yielding any adequate return, is
suddenly cut off, so that the vital processes may proceed more actively
in some fruitful parts. Christ's use of this figure is well-known:
"Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He purgeth it that it may
bring forth more fruit." The strength of the plant, that is, being given
to the formation of mere wood, a number of useless correspondences have
to be abruptly closed while the useful connections are allowed to
remain. The Mortification of a member, again, is based on the Law of
Degeneration. The useless member here is not cut off, but simply
relieved as much as possible of all exercise. This encourages the
gradual decay of the parts, and as it is more and more neglected it
ceases to be a channel for life at all. So an organism "mortifies" its

Thirdly, Limitation. While a large number of correspondences between man
and his environment can be stopped in these ways, there are many more
which neither can be reduced by a gradual Mortification nor cut short by
sudden Death. One reason for this is that to tamper with these
correspondences might involve injury to closely related vital parts. Or,
again, there are organs which are really essential to the normal life of
the organism, and which therefore the organism cannot afford to lose
even though at times they act prejudicially. Not a few correspondences,
for instance, are not wrong in themselves but only in their extremes. Up
to a certain point they are lawful and necessary; beyond that point they
may become not only unnecessary but sinful. The appropriate treatment in
these and similar cases consists in a process of Limitation. The
performance of this operation, it must be confessed, requires a most
delicate hand. It is an art, moreover, which no one can teach another.
And yet, if it is not learned by all who are trying to lead the
Christian life, it cannot be for want of practice. For, as we shall see,
the Christian is called upon to exercise few things more frequently.

An easy illustration of a correspondence which is only wrong when
carried to an extreme, is the love of money. The love of money up to a
certain point is a necessity; beyond that it may become one of the worst
of sins. Christ said: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." The two
services, at a definite point, become incompatible, and hence
correspondence with one must cease. At what point, however, it must
cease each man has to determine for himself. And in this consists at
once the difficulty and the dignity of Limitation.

There is another class of cases where the adjustments are still more
difficult to determine. Innumerable points exist in our surroundings
with which it is perfectly legitimate to enjoy, and even to cultivate,
correspondence, but which privilege, at the same time, it were better on
the whole that we did not use. Circumstances are occasionally such--the
demands of others upon us, for example, may be so clamant--that we have
voluntarily to reduce the area of legitimate pleasure. Or, instead of
it coming from others, the claim may come from a still higher direction.
Man's spiritual life consists in the number and fullness of his
correspondences with God. In order to develop these he may be
constrained to insulate them, to inclose them from the other
correspondences, to shut himself in with them. In many ways the
limitation of the natural life is the necessary condition of the full
enjoyment of the spiritual life.

In this principle lies the true philosophy of self-denial. No man is
called to a life of self-denial for its own sake. It is in order to a
compensation which, though sometimes difficult to see, is always real
and always proportionate. No truth, perhaps, in practical religion is
more lost sight of. We cherish somehow a lingering rebellion against the
doctrine of self-denial--as if our nature, or our circumstances, or our
conscience, dealt with us severely in loading us with the daily cross.
But is it not plain after all that the life of self-denial is the more
abundant life--more abundant just in proportion to the ampler
crucifixion of the narrower life? Is it not a clear case of exchange--an
exchange however where the advantage is entirely on our side? We give up
a correspondence in which there is a little life to enjoy a
correspondence in which there is an abundant life. What though we
sacrifice a hundred such correspondences? We make but the more room for
the great one that is left. The lesson of self-denial, that is to say of
Limitation, is _concentration_. Do not spoil your life, it says, at the
outset with unworthy and impoverishing correspondences; and if it is
growing truly rich and abundant, be very jealous of ever diluting its
high eternal quality with anything of earth. To concentrate upon a few
great correspondences, to oppose to the death the perpetual petty
larceny of our life by trifles--these are the conditions for the highest
and happiest life. It is only Limitation which can secure the

The penalty of evading self-denial also is just that we get the lesser
instead of the larger good. The punishment of sin is inseparably bound
up with itself. To refuse to deny one's self is just to be left with
the self undenied. When the balance of life is struck, the self will be
found still there. The discipline of life was meant to destroy this
self, but that discipline having been evaded--and we all to some extent
have opportunities, and too often exercise them, of taking the narrow
path by the shortest cuts--its purpose is balked. But the soul is the
loser. In seeking to gain its life it has really lost it. This is what
Christ meant when He said: "He that loveth his life shall lose it, and
he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

Why does Christ say: "Hate Life?" Does He mean that life is a sin? No.
Life is not a sin. Still, He says we must hate it. But we must live. Why
should we hate what we must do? For this reason: Life is not a sin, but
the love of life may be a sin. And the best way not to love life is to
hate it. Is it a sin then to love life? Not a sin exactly, but a
mistake. It is a sin to love some life, a mistake to love the rest.
Because that love is lost. All that is lavished on it is lost. Christ
does not say it is wrong to love life. He simply says it is _loss_. Each
man has only a certain amount of life, of time, of attention--a definite
measurable quantity. If he gives any of it to this life solely it is
wasted. Therefore Christ says, Hate life, limit life, lest you steal
your love for it from something that deserves it more.

Now this does not apply to all life. It is "life in this world" that is
to be hated. For life in this world implies conformity to this world. It
may not mean pursuing worldly pleasures, or mixing with worldly sets;
but a subtler thing than that--a silent deference to worldly opinion; an
almost unconscious lowering of religious tone to the level of the
worldly-religious world around; a subdued resistance to the soul's
delicate promptings to greater consecration, out of deference to
"breadth" or fear of ridicule. These, and such things, are what Christ
tells us we must hate. For these things are of the very essence of
worldliness. "If any man love the world," even in this sense, "the love
of the Father is not in him."

There are two ways of hating life, a true and a false. Some men hate
life because it hates them. They have seen through it, and it has turned
round upon them. They have drunk it, and come to the dregs; therefore
they hate it. This is one of the ways in which the man who loves his
life literally loses it. He loves it till he loses it, then he hates it
because it has fooled him. The other way is the religious. For religious
reasons a man deliberately braces himself to the systematic hating of
his life. "No man can serve two masters, for either he must hate the one
and love the other, or else he must hold to the one and despise the
other." Despising the other--this is hating life, limiting life. It is
not misanthropy, but Christianity.

This principle, as has been said, contains the true philosophy of
self-denial. It also holds the secret by which self-denial may be most
easily borne. A common conception of self-denial is that there are a
multitude of things about life which are to be put down with a high hand
the moment they make their appearance. They are temptations which are
not to be tolerated, but must be instantly crushed out of being with
pang and effort.

So life comes to be a constant and sore cutting off of things which we
love as our right hand. But now suppose one tried boldly to hate these
things? Suppose we deliberately made up our minds as to what things we
were henceforth to allow to become our life? Suppose we selected a given
area of our environment and determined once for all that our
correspondences should go to that alone, fencing in this area all round
with a morally impassable wall? True, to others, we should seem to live
a poorer life; they would see that our environment was circumscribed,
and call us narrow because it was narrow. But, well-chosen, this limited
life would be really the fullest life; it would be rich in the highest
and worthiest, and poor in the smallest and basest correspondences. The
well-defined spiritual life is not only the highest life, but it is also
the most easily lived. The whole cross is more easily carried than the
half. It is the man who tries to make the best of both worlds who makes
nothing of either. And he who seeks to serve two masters misses the
benediction of both. But he who has taken his stand, who has drawn a
boundary line, sharp and deep about his religious life, who has marked
off all beyond as forever forbidden ground to him, finds the yoke easy
and the burden light. For this forbidden environment comes to be as if
it were not. His faculties falling out of correspondence, slowly lose
their sensibilities. And the balm of Death numbing his lower nature
releases him for the scarce disturbed communion of a higher life. So
even here to die is gain.


[65] Page 80.

[66] Rom. viii. 5-13.

[67] Col. iii. 1-10.


    "Supposing that man, in some form, is permitted to remain on the
    earth for a long series of years, we merely lengthen out the period,
    but we cannot escape the final catastrophe. The earth will gradually
    lose its energy of relation, as well as that of revolution round the
    sun. The sun himself will wax dim and become useless as a source of
    energy, until at last the favorable conditions of the present solar
    system will have quite disappeared.

    "But what happens to our system will happen likewise to the whole
    visible universe, which will, if finite, become a lifeless mass, if
    indeed it be not doomed to utter dissolution. In fine, it will
    become old and effete, no less truly than the individual. It is a
    glorious garment, this visible universe, but not an immortal one. We
    must look elsewhere if we are to be clothed with immortality as with
    a garment."--_The Unseen Universe._

    "This is Life Eternal--that they might know Thee, the True God, and
    Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."--_Jesus Christ._

    "Perfect correspondence would be perfect life. Were there no changes
    in the environment but such as the organism had adapted changes to
    meet, and were it never to fail in the efficiency with which it met
    them, there would be eternal existence and eternal
    knowledge."--_Herbert Spencer._

One of the most startling achievements of recent science is a definition
of Eternal Life. To the religious mind this is a contribution of immense
moment. For eighteen hundred years only one definition of Life Eternal
was before the world. Now there are two.

Through all these centuries revealed religion had this doctrine to
itself. Ethics had a voice, as well as Christianity, on the question of
the _summum bonum_; Philosophy ventured to speculate on the Being of a
God. But no source outside Christianity contributed anything to the
doctrine of Eternal Life. Apart from Revelation, this great truth was
unguaranteed. It was the one thing in the Christian system that most
needed verification from without, yet none was forthcoming. And never
has any further light been thrown upon the question why in its very
nature the Christian Life should be Eternal. Christianity itself even
upon this point has been obscure. Its decision upon the bare fact is
authoritative and specific. But as to what there is in the Spiritual
Life necessarily endowing it with the element of Eternity, the maturest
theology is all but silent.

It has been reserved for modern biology at once to defend and illuminate
this central truth of the Christian faith. And hence in the interests of
religion, practical and evidential, this second and scientific
definition of Eternal Life is to be hailed as an announcement of
commanding interest. Why it should not yet have received the recognition
of religious thinkers--for already it has lain some years unnoticed--is
not difficult to understand. The belief in Science as an aid to faith is
not yet ripe enough to warrant men in searching there for witnesses to
the highest Christian truths. The inspiration of Nature, it is thought,
extends to the humbler doctrines alone. And yet the reverent inquirer
who guides his steps in the right direction may find even now in the
still dim twilight of the scientific world much that will illuminate and
intensify his sublimest faith. Here, at least, comes, and comes
unbidden, the opportunity of testing the most vital point of the
Christian system. Hitherto the Christian philosopher has remained
content with the scientific evidence against Annihilation. Or, with
Butler, he has reasoned from the Metamorphoses of Insects to a future
life. Or again, with the authors of "The Unseen Universe," the apologist
has constructed elaborate, and certainly impressive, arguments upon the
Law of Continuity. But now we may draw nearer. For the first time
Science touches Christianity _positively_ on the doctrine of
Immortality. It confronts us with an actual definition of an Eternal
Life, based on a full and rigidly accurate examination of the necessary
conditions. Science does not pretend that it can fulfill these
conditions. Its votaries make no claim to possess the Eternal Life. It
simply postulates the requisite conditions without concerning itself
whether any organism should ever appear, or does now exist, which might
fulfill them. The claim of religion, on the other hand, is that there
are organisms which possess Eternal Life. And the problem for us to
solve is this: Do those who profess to possess Eternal Life fulfill the
conditions required by Science, or are they different conditions? In a
word, Is the Christian conception of Eternal Life scientific?

It may be unnecessary to notice at the outset that the definition of
Eternal Life drawn up by Science was framed without reference to
religion. It must indeed have been the last thought with the thinker to
whom we chiefly owe it, that in unfolding the conception of a Life in
its very nature necessarily eternal, he was contributing to Theology.

Mr. Herbert Spencer--for it is to him we owe it--would be the first to
admit the impartiality of his definition; and from the connection in
which it occurs in his writings, it is obvious that religion was not
even present to his mind. He is analyzing with minute care the relations
between Environment and Life. He unfolds the principle according to
which Life is high or low, long or short. He shows why organisms live
and why they die. And finally he defines a condition of things in which
an organism would never die--in which it would enjoy a perpetual and
perfect Life. This to him is, of course, but a speculation. Life Eternal
is a biological conceit. The conditions necessary to an Eternal Life do
not exist in the natural world. So that the definition is altogether
impartial and independent. A Perfect Life, to Science, is simply a thing
which is theoretically possible--like a Perfect Vacuum.

Before giving, in so many words, the definition of Mr. Herbert Spencer,
it will render it fully intelligible if we gradually lead up to it by a
brief rehearsal of the few and simple biological facts on which it is
based. In considering the subject of Death, we have formerly seen that
there are degrees of Life. By this is meant that some lives have more
and fuller correspondence with Environment than others. The amount of
correspondence, again, is determined by the greater or less complexity
of the organism. Thus a simple organism like the Amoeba is possessed of
very few correspondences. It is a mere sac of transparent structureless
jelly for which organization has done almost nothing, and hence it can
only communicate with the smallest possible area of Environment. An
insect, in virtue of its more complex structure, corresponds with a
wider area. Nature has endowed it with special faculties for reaching
out to the Environment on many sides; it has more life than the Amoeba.
In other words, it is a higher animal. Man again, whose body is still
further differentiated, or broken up into different correspondences,
finds himself _en rapport_ with his surroundings to a further extent.
And therefore he is higher still, more living still. And this law, that
the degree of Life varies with the degree of correspondence, holds to
the minutest detail throughout the entire range of living things. Life
becomes fuller and fuller, richer and richer, more and more sensitive
and responsive to an ever-widening Environment as we arise in the chain
of being.

Now it will speedily appear that a distinct relation exists, and must
exist, between complexity and longevity. Death being brought about by
the failure of an organism to adjust itself to some change in the
Environment, it follows that those organisms which are able to adjust
themselves most readily and successfully will live the longest. They
will continue time after time to effect the appropriate adjustment, and
their power of doing so will be exactly proportionate to their
complexity--that is, to the amount of Environment they can control with
their correspondences. There are, for example, in the Environment of
every animal certain things which are directly or indirectly dangerous
to Life. If its equipment of correspondences is not complete enough to
enable it to avoid these dangers in all possible circumstances, it must
sooner or later succumb. The organism then with the most perfect set of
correspondences, that is, the highest and most complex organism, has an
obvious advantage over less complex forms. It can adjust itself more
perfectly and frequently. But this is just the biological way of saying
that it can live the longest. And hence the relation between complexity
and longevity may be expressed thus--the most complex organisms are the
longest lived.

To state and illustrate the proposition conversely may the point still
further clear. The less highly organized an animal is, the less will be
its chance of remaining in lengthened correspondence with its
Environment. At some time or other in its career circumstances are sure
to occur to which the comparatively immobile organism finds itself
structurally unable to respond. Thus a _Medusa_ tossed ashore by a wave,
finds itself so out of correspondence with its new surroundings that its
life must pay the forfeit. Had it been able by internal change to adapt
itself to external change--to correspond sufficiently with the new
environment, as for example to crawl, as an eel would have done, back
into that environment with which it had completer correspondence--its
life might have been spared. But had this happened it would continue to
live henceforth only so long as it could continue in correspondence with
all the circumstances in which it might find itself. Even if, however,
it became complex enough to resist the ordinary and direct dangers of
its environment, it might still be out of correspondence with others. A
naturalist for instance, might take advantage of its want of
correspondence with particular sights and sounds to capture it for his
cabinet, or the sudden dropping of a yacht's anchor or the turn of a
screw might cause its untimely death.

Again, in the case of a bird, in virtue of its more complex
organization, there is command over a much larger area of environment.
It can take precautions such as the _Medusa_ could not; it has increased
facilities for securing food; its adjustments all round are more
complex; and therefore it ought to be able to maintain its Life for a
longer period. There is still a large area, however, over which it has
no control. Its power of internal change is not complete enough to
afford it perfect correspondence with all external changes, and its
tenure of Life is to that extent insecure. Its correspondence, moreover,
is limited even with regard to those external conditions with which it
has been partially established. Thus a bird in ordinary circumstances
has no difficulty in adapting itself to changes of temperature, but if
these are varied beyond the point at which its capacity of adjustment
begins to fail--for example, during an extreme winter--the organism
being unable to meet the condition must perish. The human organism, on
the other hand, can respond to this external condition, as well as to
countless other vicissitudes under which lower forms would inevitably
succumb. Man's adjustments are to the largest known area of Environment,
and hence he ought to be able furthest to prolong his Life.

It becomes evident, then, that as we ascend in the scale of Life we rise
also in the scale of longevity. The lowest organisms are, as a rule,
short-lived, and the rate of mortality diminishes more or less regularly
as we ascend in the animal scale. So extraordinary indeed is the
mortality among lowly-organized forms that in most cases a compensation
is actually provided, nature endowing them with a marvelously increased
fertility in order to guard against absolute extinction. Almost all
lower forms are furnished not only with great reproductive powers, but
with different methods of propagation, by which, in various
circumstances, and in an incredibly short time, the species can be
indefinitely multiplied. Ehrenberg found that by the repeated
subdivisions of a single _Paramecium_, no fewer than 268,000,000
similar organisms might be produced in one month. This power steadily
decreases as we rise higher in the scale, until forms are reached in
which one, two, or at most three, come into being at a birth. It
decreases, however, because it is no longer needed. These forms have a
much longer lease of Life. And it may be taken as a rule, although it
has exceptions, that complexity in animal organisms is always associated
with longevity.

It may be objected that these illustrations are taken merely from morbid
conditions. But whether the Life be cut short by accident or by disease
the principle is the same. All dissolution is brought about practically
in the same way. A certain condition in the Environment fails to be met
by a corresponding condition in the organism, and this is death. And
conversely the more an organism in virtue of its complexity can adapt
itself to all the parts of its Environment, the longer it will live. "It
is manifest _a priori_," says Mr. Herbert Spencer, "that since changes
in the physical state of the environment, as also those mechanical
actions and those variations of available food which occur in it, are
liable to stop the processes going on in the organism; and since the
adaptive changes in the organism have the effects of directly or
indirectly counterbalancing these changes in the environment, it follows
that the life of the organism will be short or long, low or high,
according to the extent to which changes in the environment are met by
corresponding changes in the organism. Allowing a margin for
perturbations, the life will continue only while the correspondence
continues; the completeness of the life will be proportionate to the
completeness of the correspondence; and the life will be perfect only
when the correspondence is perfect."[68]

We are now all but in sight of our scientific definitions of Eternal
Life. The desideratum is an organism with a correspondence of a very
exceptional kind. It must lie beyond the reach of those "mechanical
actions" and those "variations of available food," which are "liable to
stop the processes going on in the organism." Before we reach an Eternal
Life we must pass beyond that point at which all ordinary
correspondences inevitably cease. We must find an organism so high and
complex, that at some point in its development it shall have added a
correspondence which organic death is powerless to arrest. We must in
short pass beyond that definite region where the correspondences depend
on evanescent and material media, and enter a further region where the
Environment corresponded with is itself Eternal. Such an Environment
exists. The Environment of the Spiritual world is outside the influence
of these "mechanical actions," which sooner or later interrupt the
processes going on in all finite organisms. If then we can find an
organism which has established a correspondence with the spiritual
world, that correspondence will possess the elements of
eternity--provided only one other condition be fulfilled.

That condition is that the Environment be perfect. If it is not perfect,
if it is not the highest, if it is endowed with the finite quality of
change, there can be no guarantee that the Life of its correspondents
will be eternal. Some change might occur in it which the correspondents
had no adaptive changes to meet, and Life would cease. But grant a
spiritual organism in perfect correspondence with a perfect spiritual
Environment, and the conditions necessary to Eternal Life are satisfied.

The exact terms of Mr. Herbert Spencer's definition of Eternal Life may
now be given. And it will be seen that they include essentially the
conditions here laid down. "Perfect correspondence would be perfect
life. Were there no changes in the environment but such as the organism
had adapted changes to meet, and were it never to fail in the efficiency
with which it met them, there would be eternal existence and eternal
knowledge."[69] Reserving the question as to the possible fulfillment of
these conditions, let us turn for a moment to the definition of Eternal
Life laid down by Christ. Let us place it alongside the definition of
Science, and mark the points of contact. Uninterrupted correspondence
with a perfect Environment is Eternal Life according to Science. "This
is Life Eternal," said Christ, "that they may know Thee, the only true
God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent."[70] Life Eternal is to know
God. To know God is to "correspond" with God. To correspond with God is
to correspond with a Perfect Environment. And the organism which attains
to this, in the nature of things must live forever. Here is "eternal
existence and eternal knowledge."

The main point of agreement between the scientific and the religious
definition is that Life consists in a peculiar and personal relation
defined as a "correspondence." This conception, that Life consists in
correspondences, has been so abundantly illustrated already that it is
now unnecessary to discuss it further. All Life indeed consists
essentially in correspondences with various Environments. The artist's
life is a correspondence with art; the musician's with music. To cut
them off from these Environments is in that relation to cut off their
Life. To be cut off from all Environment is death. To find a new
Environment again and cultivate relation with it is to find a new Life.
To live is to correspond, and to correspond is to live. So much is true
in Science. But it is also true in Religion. And it is of great
importance to observe that to Religion also the conception of Life is a
correspondence. No truth of Christianity has been more ignorantly or
willfully travestied than the doctrine of Immortality. The popular idea,
in spite of a hundred protests, is that Eternal Life is to live forever.
A single glance at the _locus classicus_ might have made this error
impossible. There we are told that Life Eternal is not to live. This is
Life Eternal--_to know_. And yet--and it is a notorious instance of the
fact that men who are opposed to Religion will take their conceptions of
its profoundest truths from mere vulgar perversions--this view still
represents to many cultivated men the Scriptural doctrine of Eternal
Life. From time to time the taunt is thrown at Religion, not unseldom
from lips which Science ought to have taught more caution, that the
Future Life of Christianity is simply a prolonged existence, an eternal
monotony, a blind and indefinite continuance of being. The Bible never
could commit itself to any such empty platitudes; nor could Christianity
ever offer to the world a hope so colorless. Not that Eternal Life has
nothing to do with everlastingness. That is part of the conception. And
it is this aspect of the question that first arrests us in the field of
Science. But even Science has more in its definition than longevity. It
has a correspondence and an Environment; and although it cannot fill up
these terms for Religion, it can indicate at least the nature of the
relation, the kind of thing that is meant by Life. Science speaks to us
indeed of much more than numbers of years. It defines degrees of Life.
It explains a widening Environment. It unfolds the relation between a
widening Environment and increasing complexity in organisms. And if it
has no absolute contribution to the content of Religion, its analogies
are not limited to a point. It yields to Immortality, and this is the
most that Science can do in any case, the board framework for a

The further definition, moreover, of this correspondence as _knowing_ is
in the highest degree significant. Is not this the precise quality in an
Eternal correspondence which the analogies of Science would prepare us
to look for? Longevity is associated with complexity. And complexity in
organisms is manifested by the successive addition of correspondences,
each richer and larger than those which have gone before. The
differentiation, therefore, of the spiritual organism ought to be
signalized by the addition of the highest possible correspondence. It is
not essential to the idea that the correspondence should be altogether
novel; it is necessary rather that it should not. An altogether new
correspondence appearing suddenly without shadow or prophecy would be a
violation of continuity. What we should expect would be something new,
and yet something that we were already prepared for. We should look for
a further development in harmony with current developments; the
extension of the last and highest correspondence in a new and higher
direction. And this is exactly what we have. In the world with which
biology deals, Evolution culminates in Knowledge.

At whatever point in the zoological scale this correspondence, or set of
correspondences, begins, it is certain there is nothing higher. In its
stunted infancy merely, when we meet with its rudest beginnings in
animal intelligence, it is a thing so wonderful, as to strike every
thoughtful and reverent observer with awe. Even among the invertebrates
so marvelously are these or kindred powers displayed, that naturalists
do not hesitate now, on the ground of intelligence at least, to classify
some of the humblest creatures next to man himself.[71] Nothing in
nature, indeed, is so unlike the rest of nature, so prophetic of what is
beyond it, so supernatural. And as manifested in Man who crowns creation
with his all-embracing consciousness, there is but one word to describe
his knowledge: it is Divine. If then from this point there is to be any
further Evolution, this surely must be the correspondence in which it
shall take place? This correspondence is great enough to demand
development; and yet it is little enough to need it. The magnificence of
what it has achieved relatively, is the pledge of the possibility of
more; the insignificance of its conquest absolutely involves the
probability of still richer triumphs. If anything, in short, in humanity
is to go on it must be this. Other correspondences may continue
likewise; others, again, we can well afford to leave behind. But this
cannot cease. This correspondence--or this set of correspondences, for
it is very complex--is it not that to which men with one consent would
attach Eternal Life? Is there anything else to which they would attach
it? Is anything better conceivable, anything worthier, fuller, nobler,
anything which would represent a higher form of Evolution or offer a
more perfect ideal for an Eternal Life?

But these are questions of quality; and the moment we pass from quantity
to quality we leave Science behind. In the vocabulary of Science,
Eternity is only the fraction of a word. It means mere everlastingness.
To Religion, on the other hand, Eternity has little to do with time. To
correspond with the God of Science, the Eternal Unknowable, would be
everlasting existence; to correspond with "the true God and Jesus
Christ," is Eternal Life. The quality of the Eternal Life alone makes
the heaven; mere everlastingness might be no boon. Even the brief span
of the temporal life is too long for those who spend its years in
sorrow. Time itself, let alone Eternity, is all but excruciating to
Doubt. And many besides Schopenhauer have secretly regarded
consciousness as the hideous mistake and malady of Nature. Therefore we
must not only have quantity of years, to speak in the language of the
present, but quality of correspondence. When we leave Science behind,
this correspondence also receives a higher name. It becomes communion.
Other names there are for it, religious and theological. It may be
included in a general expression, Faith; or we may call it by a personal
and specific term, Love. For the knowing of a Whole so great involves
the co-operation of many parts.

Communion with God--can it be demonstrated in terms of Science that this
is a correspondence which will never break? We do not appeal to Science
for such a testimony. We have asked for its conception of an Eternal
Life; and we have received for answer that Eternal Life would consist in
a correspondence which should never cease, with an Environment which
should never pass away. And yet what would Science demand of a perfect
correspondence that is not met by this, _the knowing of God_? There is
no other correspondence which could satisfy one at least of the
conditions. Not one could be named which would not bear on the face of
it the mark and pledge of its mortality. But this, to know God, stands
alone. To know God, to be linked with God, to be linked with
Eternity--if this is not the "eternal existence" of biology, what can
more nearly approach it? And yet we are still a great way off--to
establish a communication with the Eternal is not to secure Eternal
Life. It must be assumed that the communication could be sustained. And
to assume this would be to beg the question. So that we have still to
prove Eternal Life. But let it be again repeated, we are not here
seeking proofs. We are seeking light. We are merely reconnoitring from
the furthest promontory of Science if so be that through the haze we may
discern the outline of a distant coast and come to some conclusion as to
the possibility of landing.

But, it may be replied, it is not open to any one handling the question
of Immortality from the side of Science to remain neutral as to the
question of fact. It is not enough to announce that he has no addition
to make to the positive argument. This may be permitted with reference
to other points of contact between Science and Religion, but not with
this. We are told this question is settled--that there is no positive
side. Science meets the entire conception of Immortality with a direct
negative. In the face of a powerful consensus against even the
possibility of a Future Life, to content one's self with saying that
Science pretended to no argument in favor of it would be at once
impertinent and dishonest. We must therefore devote ourselves for a
moment to the question of possibility.

The problem is, with a material body and a mental organization
inseparably connected with it, to bridge the grave. Emotion, volition,
thought itself, are functions of the brain. When the brain is impaired,
they are impaired. When the brain is not, they are not. Everything
ceases with the dissolution of the material fabric; muscular activity
and mental activity perish alike. With the pronounced positive
statements on this point from many departments of modern Science we are
all familiar. The fatal verdict is recorded by a hundred hands and with
scarcely a shadow of qualification. "Unprejudiced philosophy is
compelled to reject the idea of an individual immortality and of a
personal continuance after death. With the decay and dissolution of its
material substratum, through which alone it has acquired a conscious
existence and become a person, and upon which it was dependent, the
spirit must cease to exist."[72] To the same effect Vogt: "Physiology
decides definitely and categorically against individual immortality, as
against any special existence of the soul. The soul does not enter the
fœtus like the evil spirit into persons possessed, but is a product of
the development of the brain, just as muscular activity is a product of
muscular development, and secretion a product of glandular development."
After a careful review of the position of recent Science with regard to
the whole doctrine, Mr. Graham sums up thus: "Such is the argument of
Science, seemingly decisive against a future life. As we listen to her
array of syllogisms, our hearts die within us. The hopes of men, placed
in one scale to be weighed, seem to fly up against the massive weight of
her evidence, placed in the other. It seems as if all our arguments were
vain and unsubstantial, as if our future expectations were the foolish
dreams of children, as if there could not be any other possible verdict
arrived at upon the evidence brought forward."[73]

Can we go on in the teeth of so real an obstruction? Has not our own
weapon turned against us, Science abolishing with authoritative hand the
very truth we are asking it to define?

What the philosopher has to throw into the other scale can be easily
indicated. Generally speaking, he demurs to the dogmatism of the
conclusion. That mind and brain react, that the mental and the
physiological processes are related, and very intimately related, is
beyond controversy. But how they are related, he submits, is still
altogether unknown. The correlation of mind and brain do not involve
their identity. And not a few authorities accordingly have consistently
hesitated to draw any conclusion at all. Even Büchner's statement turns
out, on close examination, to be tentative in the extreme. In prefacing
his chapter on Personal Continuance, after a single sentence on the
dependence of the soul and its manifestations upon a material
substratum, he remarks, "Though we are unable to form a definite idea as
to the _how_ of this connection, we are still by these facts justified
in asserting, that the mode of this connection renders it _apparently_
impossible that they should continue to exist separately."[74] There is,
therefore, a flaw at this point in the argument for materialism. It may
not help the spiritualist in the least degree positively. He may be as
far as ever from a theory of how consciousness could continue without
the material tissue. But his contention secures for him the right of
speculation. The path beyond may lie in hopeless gloom; but it is not
barred. He may bring forward his theory if he will. And this is
something. For a permission to go on is often the most that Science can
grant to Religion.

Men have taken advantage of this loophole in various ways. And though
it cannot be said that these speculations offer us more than a
probability, this is still enough to combine with the deep-seated
expectation in the bosom of mankind and give fresh luster to the hope of
a future life. Whether we find relief in the theory of a simple dualism;
whether with Ulrici we further define the soul as an invisible
enswathement of the body, material yet non-atomic; whether, with the
"Unseen Universe," we are helped by the spectacle of known forms of
matter shading off into an ever-growing subtilty, mobility, and
immateriality; or whether, with Wundt, we regard the soul as "the
ordered unity of many elements," it is certain that shapes can be given
to the conception of a correspondence which shall bridge the grave such
as to satisfy minds too much accustomed to weigh evidence to put
themselves off with fancies.

But whether the possibilities of physiology or the theories of
philosophy do or do not substantially assist us in realizing
Immortality, is to Religion, to Religion at least regarded from the
present point of view, of inferior moment. The fact of Immortality rests
for us on a different basis. Probably, indeed, after all the Christian
philosopher never engaged himself in a more superfluous task than in
seeking along physiological lines to find room for a soul. The theory of
Christianity has only to be fairly stated to make manifest its thorough
independence of all the usual speculations on Immortality. The theory is
not that thought, volition, or emotion, as such are to survive the
grave. The difficulty of holding a doctrine in this form, in spite of
what has been advanced to the contrary, in spite of the hopes and wishes
of mankind, in spite of all the scientific and philosophical attempts to
make it tenable, is still profound. No secular theory of personal
continuance, as even Butler acknowledged, does not equally demand the
eternity of the brute. No secular theory defines the point in the chain
of Evolution at which organisms became endowed with Immortality. No
secular theory explains the condition of the endowment, nor indicates
its goal. And if we have nothing more to fan hope than the unexplored
mystery of the whole region, or the unknown remainders among the
potencies of Life, then, as those who have "hope only in this world," we
are "of all men the most miserable."

When we turn, on the other hand, to the doctrine as it came from the
lips of Christ, we find ourselves in an entirely different region. He
makes no attempt to project the material into the immaterial. The old
elements, however refined and subtle as to their matter, are not in
themselves to inherit the Kingdom of God. That which is flesh is flesh.
Instead of attaching Immortality to the natural organism, He introduces
a new and original factor which none of the secular, and few even of the
theological theories, seem to take sufficiently into account. To
Christianity, "he that hath the Son of God hath Life, and he that hath
not the Son hath not Life." This, as we take it, defines the
correspondence which is to bridge the grave. This is the clue to the
nature of the Life that lies at the back of the spiritual organism. And
this is the true solution of the mystery of Eternal Life.

There lies a something at the back of the correspondences of the
spiritual organism--just as there lies a something at the back of the
natural correspondences. To say that Life is a correspondence is only to
express the partial truth. There is something behind. Life manifests
itself in correspondences. But what determines them? The organism
exhibits a variety of correspondences. What organizes them? As in the
natural, so in the spiritual, there is a Principle of Life. We cannot
get rid of that term. However clumsy, however provisional, however much
a mere cloak for ignorance, Science as yet is unable to dispense with
the idea of a Principle of Life. We must work with the word till we get
a better. Now that which determines the correspondence of the spiritual
organism is a Principle of Spiritual Life. It is a new and Divine
Possession. He that hath the Son hath Life; conversely, he that hath
Life hath the Son. And this indicates at once the quality and the
quantity of the correspondence which is to bridge the grave. He that
hath Life hath _the Son_. He possesses the Spirit of a Son. That spirit
is, so to speak, organized within him by the Son. It is the
manifestation of the new nature--of which more anon. The fact to note at
present is that this is not an organic correspondence, but a spiritual
correspondence. It comes not from generation, but from regeneration. The
relation between the spiritual man and his Environment is, in
theological language, a filial relation. With the new Spirit, the filial
correspondence, he knows the Father--and this is Life Eternal. This is
not only the real relation, but the only possible relation: "Neither
knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son
will reveal Him." And this on purely natural grounds. It takes the
Divine to know the Divine--but in no more mysterious sense than it takes
the human to understand the human. The analogy, indeed, for the whole
field here has been finely expressed already by Paul: "What man," he
asks, "knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in
him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which
is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of

It were idle, such being the quality of the new relation, to add that
this also contains the guarantee of its eternity. Here at last is a
correspondence which will never cease. Its powers in bridging the grave
have been tried. The correspondence of the spiritual man possesses the
supernatural virtues of the Resurrection and the Life. It is known by
former experiment to have survived the "changes in the physical state of
the environment," and those "mechanical actions" and "variations of
available food," which Mr. Herbert Spencer tells us are "liable to stop
the processes going on in the organism." In short, this is a
correspondence which at once satisfies the demands of Science and
Religion. In mere quantity it is different from every other
correspondence known. Setting aside everything else in Religion,
everything adventitious, local, and provisional; dissecting in to the
bone and marrow we find this--a correspondence which can never break
with an Environment which can never change. Here is a relation
established with Eternity. The passing years lay no limiting hand on it.
Corruption injures it not. It survives Death. It, and it only, will
stretch beyond the grave and be found inviolate--

    "When the moon is old,
    And the stars are cold,
    And the books of the Judgment-day unfold."

The misgiving which will creep sometimes over the brightest faith has
already received its expression and its rebuke: "Who shall separate us
from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" Shall these "changes in
the physical state of the environment" which threaten death to the
natural man destroy the spiritual? Shall death, or life, or angels, or
principalities, or powers, arrest or tamper with his eternal
correspondences? "Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors
through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor
life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present,
nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall
be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus
our Lord."[76]

It may seem an objection to some that the "perfect correspondence"
should come to man in so extraordinary a way. The earlier stages in the
doctrine are promising enough; they are entirely in line with Nature.
And if Nature had also furnished the "perfect correspondence" demanded
for an Eternal Life the position might be unassailable. But this sudden
reference to a something outside the natural Environment destroys the
continuity, and discovers a permanent weakness in the whole theory?

To which there is a twofold reply. In the first place, to go outside
what we call Nature is not to go outside Environment. Nature, the
natural Environment, is only a part of Environment. There is another
large part which, though some profess to have no correspondence with it,
is not on that account unreal, or even unnatural. The mental and moral
world is unknown to the plant. But it is real. It cannot be affirmed
either that it is unnatural to the plant; although it might be said that
from the point of view of the Vegetable Kingdom it was _supernatural_.
Things are natural or supernatural simply according to where one stands.
Man is supernatural to the mineral; God is supernatural to the man. When
a mineral is seized upon by the living plant and elevated to the organic
kingdom, no trespass against Nature is committed. It merely enters a
larger Environment, which before was supernatural to it, but which now
is entirely natural. When the heart of a man, again, is seized upon by
the quickening Spirit of God, no further violence is done to natural
law. It is another case of the inorganic, so to speak, passing into the

But in the second place, it is complained as if it were an enormity in
itself that the spiritual correspondence should be furnished from the
spiritual world. And to this the answer lies in the same direction.
Correspondence in any case is the gift of Environment. The natural
Environment gives men their natural faculties; the spiritual affords
them their spiritual faculties. It is natural for the spiritual
Environment to supply the spiritual faculties; it would be quite
unnatural for the natural Environment to do it. The natural law of
Biogenesis forbids it; the moral fact that the finite cannot comprehend
the Infinite is against it; the spiritual principle that flesh and
blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God renders it absurd. Not, however,
that the spiritual faculties are, as it were, manufactured in the
spiritual world and supplied ready-made to the spiritual
organism--forced upon it as an external equipment. This certainly is not
involved in saying that the spiritual faculties are furnished by the
spiritual world. Organisms are not added to by accretion, as in the case
of minerals, but by growth. And the spiritual faculties are organized in
the spiritual protoplasm of the soul, just as other faculties are
organized in the protoplasm of the body. The plant is made of materials
which have once been inorganic. An organizing principle not belonging to
their kingdom lays hold of them and elaborates them until they have
correspondences with the kingdom to which the organizing principle
belonged. Their original organizing principle, if it can be called by
this name, was Crystallization; so that we have now a distinctly foreign
power organizing in totally new and higher directions. In the spiritual
world, similarly, we find an organizing principle at work among the
materials of the organic kingdom, performing a further miracle, but not
a different kind of miracle, producing organizations of a novel kind,
but not by a novel method. The second process, in fact, is simply what
an enlightened evolutionist would have expected from the first. It marks
the natural and legitimate progress of the development. And this in the
line of the true Evolution--not the _linear_ Evolution, which would look
for the development of the natural man through powers already inherent,
as if one were to look to Crystallization to accomplish the development
of the mineral into the plant--but that larger form of Evolution which
includes among its factors the double Law of Biogenesis and the immense
further truth that this involves.

What is further included in this complex correspondence we shall have
opportunity to illustrate afterward.[77] Meantime let it be noted on
what the Christian argument for Immortality really rests. It stands upon
the pedestal on which the theologian rests the whole of historical
Christianity--the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

It ought to be placed in the forefront of all Christian teaching that
Christ's mission on earth was to give men Life. "I am come," He said,
"that ye might have Life, and that ye might have it more abundantly."
And that He meant literal Life, literal spiritual and Eternal Life, is
clear from the whole course of His teaching and acting. To impose a
metaphorical meaning on the commonest word of the New Testament is to
violate every canon of interpretation, and at the same time to charge
the greatest of teachers with persistently mystifying His hearers by an
unusual use of so exact a vehicle for expressing definite thought as the
Greek language, and that on the most momentous subject of which He ever
spoke to men. It is a canon of interpretation, according to Alford, that
"a figurative sense of words is never admissible except when required by
the context." The context, in most cases, is not only directly
unfavorable to a figurative meaning, but in innumerable instances in
Christ's teaching Life is broadly contrasted with Death. In the teaching
of the apostles, again, we find that, without exception, they accepted
the term in its simple literal sense. Reuss defines the apostolic belief
with his usual impartiality when--and the quotation is doubly pertinent
here--he discovers in the apostle's conception of Life, first, "the idea
of a real existence, an existence such as is proper to God and to the
Word; an imperishable existence--that is to say, not subject to the
vicissitudes and imperfections of the finite world. This primary idea is
repeatedly expressed, at least in a negative form; it leads to a
doctrine of immortality, or, to speak more correctly, of life, far
surpassing any that had been expressed in the formulas of the current
philosophy or theology, and resting upon premises and conceptions
altogether different. In fact, it can dispense both with the
philosophical thesis of the immateriality or indestructibility of the
human soul, and with the theological thesis of a miraculous corporeal
reconstruction of our person; theses, the first of which is altogether
foreign to the religion of the Bible, and the second absolutely opposed
to reason." Second, "the idea of life, as it is conceived in this
system, implies the idea of a power, an operation, a communication,
since this life no longer remains, so to speak, latent or passive in God
and in the Word, but through them reaches the believer. It is not a
mental somnolent thing; it is not a plant without fruit; it is a germ
which is to find fullest development."[78]

If we are asked to define more clearly what is meant by this mysterious
endowment of Life, we again hand over the difficulty to Science. When
Science can define the Natural Life and the Physical Force we may hope
for further clearness on the nature and action of the Spiritual Powers.
The effort to detect the living Spirit must be at least as idle as the
attempt to subject protoplasm to microscopic examination in the hope of
discovering Life. We are warned, also, not to expect too much. "Thou
canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth." This being its
quality, when the Spiritual Life is discovered in the laboratory it will
possibly be time to give it up altogether. It may say, as Socrates of
his soul, "You may bury me--if you can catch me."

Science never corroborates a spiritual truth without illuminating it.
The threshold of Eternity is a place where many shadows meet. And the
light of Science here, where everything is so dark, is welcome a
thousand times. Many men would be religious if they knew where to begin;
many would be more religious if they were sure where it would end. It is
not indifference that keeps some men from God, but ignorance. "Good
Master, what must I do to inherit Eternal Life?" is still the deepest
question of the age. What is Religion? What am I to believe? What seek
with all my heart and soul and mind?--this is the imperious question
sent up to consciousness from the depths of being in all earnest hours;
sent down again, alas, with many of us, time after time, unanswered.
Into all our thought and work and reading this question pursues us. But
the theories are rejected one by one; the great books are returned sadly
to their shelves, the years pass, and the problem remains unsolved. The
confusion of tongues here is terrible. Every day a new authority
announces himself. Poets, philosophers, preachers try their hand on us
in turn. New prophets arise, and beseech us for our soul's sake to give
ear to them--at last in an hour of inspiration they have discovered the
final truth. Yet the doctrine of yesterday is challenged by a fresh
philosophy to-day: and the creed of to-day will fall in turn before the
criticism of to-morrow. Increase of knowledge increaseth sorrow. And at
length the conflicting truths, like the beams of light in the laboratory
experiment, combine in the mind to make total darkness.

But here are two outstanding authorities agreed--not men, not
philosophers, not creeds. Here is the voice of God and the voice of
Nature. I cannot be wrong if I listen to them. Sometimes when uncertain
of a voice from its very loudness, we catch the missing syllable in the
echo. In God and Nature we have Voice and Echo. When I hear both, I am
assured. My sense of hearing does not betray me twice. I recognize the
Voice in the Echo, the Echo makes me certain of the Voice; I listen and
I know. The question of a Future Life is a biological question. Nature
may be silent on other problems of Religion; but here she has a right to
speak. The whole confusion around the doctrine of Eternal Life has
arisen from making it a question of Philosophy. We shall do ill to
refuse a hearing to any speculation of Philosophy; the ethical relations
here especially are intimate and real. But in the first instance
Eternal Life, as a question of _Life_, is a problem for Biology. The
soul is a living organism. And for any question as to the soul's Life we
must appeal to Life-science. And what does the Life-science teach? That
if I am to inherit Eternal Life, I must cultivate a correspondence with
the Eternal. This is a simple proposition, for Nature is always simple.
I take this proposition, and, leaving Nature, proceed to fill it in. I
search everywhere for a clue to the Eternal. I ransack literature for a
definition of a correspondence between man and God. Obviously that can
only come from one source. And the analogies of Science permits us to
apply to it. All knowledge lies in Environment. When I want to know
about minerals I go to minerals. When I want to know about flowers I go
to flowers. And they tell me. In their own way they speak to me, each in
its own way, and each for itself--not the mineral for the flower, which
is impossible, nor the flower for the mineral, which is also impossible.
So if I want to know about Man, I go to his part of the Environment. And
he tells me about himself, not as the plant or the mineral, for he is
neither, but in his own way. And if I want to know about God, I go to
His part of the Environment. And He tells me about Himself, not as a
Man, for He is not Man, but in His own way. And just as naturally as the
flower and the mineral and the Man, each in their own way, tell me about
themselves, He tells me about Himself. He very strangely condescends
indeed in making things plain to me, actually assuming for a time the
Form of a Man that I at my poor level may better see Him. This is my
opportunity to know Him. This incarnation is God making Himself
accessible to human thought--God opening to man the possibility of
correspondence through Jesus Christ. And this correspondence and this
Environment are those I seek. He Himself assures me, "This is Life
Eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ
whom Thou hast sent."

Do I not now discern the deeper meaning in "_Jesus Christ whom Thou hast
sent_?" Do I not better understand with what vision and rapture the
profoundest of the disciples exclaims, "The Son of God is come, and hath
given us an understanding that we might know Him that is True?"[79]

Having opened correspondence with the Eternal Environment, the
subsequent stages are in the line of all other normal development. We
have but to continue, to deepen, to extend, and to enrich the
correspondence that has been begun. And we shall soon find to our
surprise that this is accompanied by another and parallel process. The
action is not all upon our side. The Environment also will be found to
correspond. The influence of Environment is one of the greatest and most
substantial of modern biological doctrines. Of the power of Environment
to form or transform organisms, of its ability to develop or suppress
function, of its potency in determining growth, and generally of its
immense influence in Evolution, there is no need now to speak. But
Environment is now acknowledged to be one of the most potent factors in
the Evolution of Life. The influence of Environment too seems to
increase rather than diminish as we approach the higher forms of being.
The highest forms are the most mobile; their capacity of change is the
greatest; they are, in short, most easily acted on by Environment. And
not only are the highest organisms the most mobile, but the highest part
of the highest organisms are more mobile than the lower. Environment can
do little, comparatively, in the direction of inducing variation in the
body of a child: but how plastic is its mind! How infinitely sensitive
is its soul! How infallibly can it be turned to music or to dissonance
by the moral harmony or discord of its outward lot! How decisively
indeed are we not all formed and moulded, made or unmade, by external
circumstance! Might we not all confess with Ulysses--

    "I am a part of all that I have met."

Much more, then, shall we look for the influence of Environment on the
spiritual nature of him who has opened correspondence with God. Reaching
out his eager and quickened faculties to the spiritual world around him,
shall he not become spiritual? In vital contact with Holiness, shall he
not become holy? Breathing now an atmosphere of ineffable Purity, shall
he miss becoming pure? Walking with God from day to day, shall he fail
to be taught of God?

Growth in grace is sometimes described as a strange, mystical, and
unintelligible process. It is mystical, but neither strange nor
unintelligible. It proceeds according to Natural Law, and the leading
factor in sanctification is Influence of Environment. The possibility of
it depends upon the mobility of the organism; the result, on the extent
and frequency of certain correspondences. These facts insensibly lead on
to a further suggestion. Is it not possible that these biological truths
may carry with them the clue to still profounder philosophy--even that
of Regeneration?

Evolutionists tell us that by the influence of environment certain
aquatic animals have become adapted to a terrestrial mode of life.
Breathing normally by gills, as the result and reward of a continued
effort carried on from generation to generation to inspire the air of
heaven direct, they have slowly acquired the lung-function. In the young
organism, true to the ancestral type, the gill still persists--as in the
tadpole of the common frog. But as maturity approaches the true lung
appears; the gill gradually transfers its task to the higher organ. It
then becomes atrophied and disappears, and finally respiration in the
adult is conducted by lungs alone.[80] We may be far, in the meantime,
from saying that this is proved. It is for those who accept it to deny
the justice of the spiritual analogy. Is religion to them unscientific
in its doctrine of Regeneration? Will the evolutionist who admits the
regeneration of the frog under the modifying influence of a continued
correspondence with a new environment, care to question the possibility
of the soul acquiring such a faculty as that of Prayer, the marvelous
breathing-function of the new creature, when in contact with the
atmosphere of a besetting God? Is the change from the earthly to the
heavenly more mysterious than the change from the aquatic to the
terrestrial mode of life? Is Evolution to stop with the organic? If it
be objected that it has taken ages to perfect the function in the
batrachian, the reply is, that it will take ages to perfect the function
in the Christian. For every thousand years the natural evolution will
allow for the development of its organism, the Higher Biology will grant
its product millions. We have indeed spoken of the spiritual
correspondence as already perfect--but it is perfect only as the bud is
perfect. "It doth not yet appear what it shall be," any more than it
appeared a million years ago what the evolving batrachian would be.

But to return. We have been dealing with the scientific aspects of
communion with God. Insensibly, from quantity we have been led to speak
of quality. And enough has now been advanced to indicate generally the
nature of that correspondence with which is necessarily associated
Eternal Life. There remain but one or two details to which we must
lastly, and very briefly, address ourselves.

The quality of everlastingness belongs, as we have seen, to a single
correspondence, or rather to a single set of correspondences. But it is
apparent that before this correspondence can take full and final effect
a further process is necessary. By some means it must be separated from
all the other correspondences of the organism which do not share its
peculiar quality. In this life it is restrained by these other
correspondences. They may contribute to it, or hinder it; but they are
essentially of a different order. They belong not to Eternity but to
Time, and to this present world; and, unless some provision is made for
dealing with them, they will detain the aspiring organism in this
present world till Time is ended. Of course, in a sense, all that
belongs to Time belongs also to Eternity; but these lower
correspondences are in their nature unfitted for an Eternal Life. Even
if they were perfect in their relation to their Environment, they would
still not be Eternal. However opposed, apparently, to the scientific
definition of Eternal Life, it is yet true that perfect correspondence
with Environment is not Eternal Life. A very important word in the
complete definition is, in this sentence, omitted. On that word it has
not been necessary hitherto, and for obvious reasons, to place any
emphasis, but when we come to deal with false pretenders to Immortality
we must return to it. Were the definition complete as it stands, it
might, with the permission of the psycho-physiologist, guarantee the
Immortality of every living thing. In the dog, for instance, the
material framework giving way at death might leave the released canine
spirit still free to inhabit the old Environment. And so with every
creature which had ever established a conscious relation with
surrounding things. Now the difficulty in framing a theory of Eternal
Life has been to construct one which will exclude the brute creation,
drawing the line rigidly at man, or at least, somewhere within the human
race. Not that we need object to the Immortality of the dog, or of the
whole inferior creation. Nor that we need refuse a place to any
intelligible speculation which would people the earth to-day with the
invisible forms of all things that have ever lived. Only we still insist
that this is not Eternal Life. And why? Because their Environment is not
Eternal. Their correspondence, however firmly established, is
established with that which shall pass away. An Eternal Life demands an
Eternal Environment.

The demand for a perfect Environment as well as for a perfect
correspondence is less clear in Mr. Herbert Spencer's definition than it
might be. But it is an essential factor. An organism might remain true
to its Environment, but what if the Environment played it false? If the
organism possessed the power to change, it could adapt itself to
successive changes in the Environment. And if this were guaranteed we
should also have the conditions for Eternal Life fulfilled. But what if
the Environment passed away altogether? What if the earth swept suddenly
into the sun? This is a change of Environment against which there could
be no precaution and for which there could be as little provision. With
a changing Environment even, there must always remain the dread and
possibility of a falling out of correspondence. At the best, Life would
be uncertain. But with a changeless Environment--such as that possessed
by the spiritual organism--the perpetuity of the correspondence, so far
as the external relation is concerned, is guaranteed. This quality of
permanence in the Environment distinguishes the religious relation from
every other. Why should not the musician's life be an Eternal Life?
Because, for one thing, the musical world, the Environment with which he
corresponds, is not eternal. Even if his correspondence in itself could
last, eternally, the environing material things with which he
corresponds must pass away. His soul might last forever--but not his
violin. So the man of the world might last forever--but not the world.
His Environment is not eternal; nor are even his correspondences--the
world passeth away _and the lust thereof_.

We find then that man, or the spiritual man, is equipped with two sets
of correspondences. One set possesses the quality of everlastingness,
the other is temporal. But unless these are separated by some means the
temporal will continue to impair and hinder the eternal. The final
preparation, therefore, for the inheriting of Eternal Life must consist
in the abandonment of the non-eternal elements. These must be unloosed
and dissociated from the higher elements. And this is effected by a
closing catastrophe--Death.

Death ensues because certain relations in the organism are not adjusted
to certain relations in the Environment. There will come a time in each
history when the imperfect correspondences of the organism will betray
themselves by a failure to compass some necessary adjustment. This is
why Death is associated with Imperfection. Death is the necessary result
of Imperfection, and the necessary end of it. Imperfect correspondence
gives imperfect and uncertain Life. "Perfect correspondence," on the
other hand, according to Mr. Herbert Spencer, would be "perfect Life."
To abolish Death, therefore, all that would be necessary would be to
abolish Imperfection. But it is the claim of Christianity that it can
abolish Death. And it is significant to notice that it does so by
meeting this very demand of Science--it abolishes Imperfection.

The part of the organism which begins to get out of correspondence with
the Organic Environment is the only part which is in vital
correspondence with it. Though a fatal disadvantage to the natural man
to be thrown out of correspondence with this Environment, it is of
inestimable importance to the spiritual man. For so long as it is
maintained the way is barred for a further Evolution. And hence the
condition necessary for the further Evolution is that the spiritual be
released from the natural. That is to say, the condition of the further
Evolution is Death. _Mors janua Vitæ_, therefore, becomes a scientific
formula. Death, being the final shifting of all the correspondences, is
the indispensable factor of the higher Life. In the language of Science,
not less than of Scripture, "To die is gain."

The shifting of the correspondences is done by Nature. This is its last
and greatest contribution to mankind. Over the mouth of the grave the
perfect and the imperfect submit to their final separation. Each goes to
its own--earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, Spirit to Spirit.
"The dust shall return to the earth as it was; and the Spirit shall
return unto God who gave it."


[68] "Principles of Biology," p. 82.

[69] "Principles of Biology," p. 88.

[70] John xvii.

[71] _Vide_ Sir John Lubbock's "Ants, Bees, and Wasps," pp. 1-181.

[72] Büchner: "Force and Matter," 3d Ed., p. 232.

[73] "The Creed of Science," p. 169.

[74] "Force and Matter," p. 231.

[75] 1 Cor. ii. 11, 12.

[76] Rom. viii. 35-39.

[77] _Vide_ "Conformity to Type," page 287.

[78] "History of Christian Theology in the Apostolic Age," vol. ii. p.

[79] 1 John v. 20.

[80] _Vide_ also the remarkable experiments of Fräulein v. Chauvin on
the Transformation of the Mexican Axolotl into Amblystoma.--Weismann's
"Studies in the Theory of Descent," vol. ii. pt. iii.


    "When I talked with an ardent missionary and pointed out to him that
    his creed found no support in my experience, he replied: 'It is not
    so in your experience, but is so in the other world.' I answered:
    'Other world! There is no other world. God is one and omnipresent;
    here or nowhere is the whole fact.'"--_Emerson._

    "Ye are complete in Him."--_Paul._

    "Whatever amount of power an organism expends in any shape is the
    correlate and equivalent of a power that was taken into it from
    without."--_Herbert Spencer._

Students of Biography will observe that in all well-written Lives
attention is concentrated for the first few chapters upon two points. We
are first introduced to the family to which the subject of memoir
belonged. The grandparents, or even the more remote ancestors, are
briefly sketched and their chief characteristics brought prominently
into view. Then the parents themselves are photographed in detail. Their
appearance and physique, their character, their disposition, their
mental qualities, are set before us in a critical analysis. And finally
we are asked to observe how much the father and the mother respectively
have transmitted of their peculiar nature to their offspring. How
faithfully the ancestral lines have met in the latest product, how
mysteriously the joint characteristics of body and mind have blended,
and how unexpected yet how entirely natural a recombination is the
result--these points are elaborated with cumulative effect until we
realize at last how little we are dealing with an independent unit, how
much with a survival and reorganization of what seemed buried in the

In the second place, we are invited to consider more external
influences--schools and schoolmasters, neighbors, home, pecuniary
circumstances, scenery, and, by-and-by, the religious and political
atmosphere of the time. These also we are assured have played their part
in making the individual what he is. We can estimate these early
influences in any particular case with but small imagination if we fail
to see how powerfully they also have moulded mind and character, and in
what subtle ways they have determined the course of the future life.

This twofold relation of the individual, first, to his parents, and
second, to his circumstances, is not peculiar to human beings. These two
factors are responsible for making all living organisms what they are.
When a naturalist attempts to unfold the life-history of any animal, he
proceeds precisely on these same lines. Biography is really a branch of
Natural History; and the biographer who discusses his hero as the
resultant of these two tendencies, follows the scientific method as
rigidly as Mr. Darwin in studying "Animals and Plants under

Mr. Darwin, following Weismann, long ago pointed out that there are two
main factors in all Evolution--the nature of the organism and the nature
of the conditions. We have chosen our illustration from the highest or
human species in order to define the meaning of these factors in the
clearest way; but it must be remembered that the development of man
under these directive influences is essentially the same as that of any
other organism in the hands of Nature. We are dealing therefore with
universal Law. It will still further serve to complete the conception of
the general principle if we now substitute for the casual phrases by
which the factors have been described the more accurate terminology of
Science. Thus what Biography describes as parental influences, Biology
would speak of as Heredity; and all that is involved in the second
factor--the action of external circumstances and surroundings--the
naturalist would include under the single term Environment. These two,
Heredity and Environment, are the master-influences of the organic
world. These have made all of us what we are. These forces are still
ceaselessly playing upon all our lives. And he who truly understands
these influences; he who has decided how much to allow to each; he who
can regulate new forces as they arise, or adjust them to the old, so
directing them as at one moment to make them coöperate, at another to
counteract one another, understands the rationale of personal
development. To seize continuously the opportunity of more and more
perfect adjustment to better and higher conditions, to balance some
inward evil with some purer influence acting from without, in a word to
make our Environment at the same time that it is making us--these are
the secrets of a well-ordered and successful life.

In the spiritual world, also, the subtle influences which form and
transform the soul are Heredity and Environment. And here especially
where all is invisible, where much that we feel to be real is yet so
ill-defined, it becomes of vital practical moment to clarify the
atmosphere as far as possible with conceptions borrowed from the natural
life. Few things are less understood than the conditions of the
spiritual life. The distressing incompetence of which most of us are
conscious in trying to work out our spiritual experience is due perhaps
less to the diseased will which we commonly blame for it than to
imperfect knowledge of the right conditions. It does not occur to us how
natural the spiritual is. We still strive for some strange transcendent
thing; we seek to promote life by methods as unnatural as they prove
unsuccessful; and only the utter incomprehensibility of the whole region
prevents us seeing fully--what we already half-suspect--how completely
we are missing the road. Living in the spiritual world, nevertheless, is
just as simple as living in the natural world; and it is the same kind
of simplicity. It is the same kind of simplicity for it is the same kind
of world--there are not two kinds of worlds. The conditions of life in
the one are the conditions of life in the other. And till these
conditions are sensibly grasped, as the conditions of all life, it is
impossible that the personal effort after the highest life should be
other than a blind struggle carried on in fruitless sorrow and

Of these two universal factors, Heredity and Environment, it is
unnecessary to balance the relative importance here. The main influence,
unquestionably, must be assigned to the former. In practice, however,
and for an obvious reason, we are chiefly concerned with the latter.
What Heredity has to do for us is determined outside ourselves. No man
can select his own parents. But every man to some extent can choose his
own Environment. His relation to it, however largely determined by
Heredity in the first instance, is always open to alteration. And so
great is his control over Environment and so radical its influence over
him, that he can so direct it as either to undo, modify, perpetuate or
intensify the earlier hereditary influence within certain limits. But
the aspects of Environment which we have now to consider do not involve
us in questions of such complexity. In what high and mystical sense,
also, Heredity applies to the spiritual organism we need not just now
inquire. In the simpler relations of the more external factor we shall
find a large and fruitful field for study.

The influence of Environment may be investigated in two main aspects.
First, one might discuss the modern and very interesting question as to
the power of Environment to induce what is known to recent science as
Variation. A change in the surroundings of any animal, it is now
well-known, can so react upon it as to cause it to change. By the
attempt, conscious or unconscious, to adjust itself to the new
conditions, a true physiological change is gradually wrought within the
organism. Hunter, for example, in a classical experiment, so changed the
Environment of a sea-gull by keeping it in captivity that it could only
secure a grain diet. The effect was to modify the stomach of the bird,
normally adapted to a fish diet, until in time it came to resemble in
structure the gizzard of an ordinary grain-feeder such as the pigeon.
Holmgrén again reversed this experiment by feeding pigeons for a
lengthened period on a meat-diet, with the result that the gizzard
became transformed into the carnivorous stomach. Mr. Alfred Russel
Wallace mentions the case of a Brazilian parrot which changes its color
from green to red or yellow when fed on the fat of certain fishes. Not
only changes of food, however, but changes of climate and of
temperature, changes in surrounding organisms, in the case of marine
animals even changes of pressure, of ocean currents, of light, and of
many other circumstances, are known to exert a powerful modifying
influence upon living organisms. These relations are still being worked
out in many directions, but the influence of Environment as a prime
factor in Variation is now a recognized doctrine of science.[81]

Even the popular mind has been struck with the curious adaptation of
nearly all animals to their _habitat_, for example in the matter of
color. The sandy hue of the sole and flounder, the white of the polar
bear with its suggestion of Arctic snows, the stripes of the Bengal
tiger--as if the actual reeds of its native jungle had nature-printed
themselves on its hide;--these, and a hundred others which will occur to
every one, are marked instances of adaptation to Environment, induced by
Natural Selection or otherwise, for the purpose, obviously in these
cases at least, of protection.

To continue the investigation of the modifying action of Environment
into the moral and spiritual spheres, would be to open a fascinating and
suggestive inquiry. One might show how the moral man is acted upon and
changed continuously by the influences, secret and open, of his
surroundings, by the tone of society, by the company he keeps, by his
occupation, by the books he reads, by Nature, by all, in short, that
constitutes the habitual atmosphere of his thoughts and the little world
of his daily choice. Or one might go deeper still and prove how the
spiritual life also is modified from outside sources--its health or
disease, its growth or decay, all its changes for better or for worse
being determined by the varying and successive circumstances in which
the religious habits are cultivated. But we must rather transfer our
attention to a second aspect of Environment, not perhaps so fascinating
but yet more important.

So much of the modern discussion of Environment revolves round the mere
question of Variation that one is apt to overlook a previous question.
Environment as a factor in life is not exhausted when we have realized
its modifying influence. Its significance is scarcely touched. The great
function of Environment is not to modify but to _sustain_. In sustaining
life, it is true, it modifies. But the latter influence is incidental,
the former essential. Our Environment is that in which we live and move
and have our being. Without it we should neither live or move nor have
any being. In the organism lies the principle of life; in the
Environment are the conditions of life. Without the fulfillment of these
conditions, which are wholly supplied by Environment, there can be no
life. An organism in itself is but a part; Nature is its complement.
Alone, cut off from its surroundings, it is not. Alone, cut off from my
surroundings, I am not--physically I am not. I am, only as I am
sustained. I continue only as I receive. My Environment may modify me,
but it has first to keep me. And all the time its secret transforming
power is indirectly moulding body and mind it is directly active in the
more open task of ministering to my myriad wants and from hour to hour
sustaining life itself.

To understand the sustaining influence of Environment in the animal
world, one has only to recall what the biologist terms the extrinsic or
subsidiary conditions of vitality. Every living thing normally requires
for its development an Environment containing air, light, heat, and
water. In addition to these, if vitality is to be prolonged for any
length of time, and if it is to be accompanied with growth and the
expenditure of energy, there must be a constant supply of food. When we
simply remember how indispensable food is to growth and work, and when
we further bear in mind that the food-supply is solely contributed by
the Environment, we shall realize at once the meaning and the truth of
the proposition that without Environment there can be no life. Seventy
per cent. at least of the human body is made of pure water, the rest of
gases and earth. These have all come from Environment. Through the
secret pores of the skin two pounds of water are exhaled daily from
every healthy adult. The supply is kept up by Environment. The
Environment is really an unappropriated part of ourselves. Definite
portions are continuously abstracted from it and added to the organism.
And so long as the organism continues to grow, act, think, speak, work,
or perform any other function demanding a supply of energy, there is a
constant, simultaneous, and proportionate drain upon its surroundings.

This is a truth in the physical, and therefore in the spiritual, world
of so great importance that we shall not mis-spend time if we follow it,
for further confirmation, into another department of nature. Its
significance in Biology is self-evident; let us appeal to Chemistry.

When a piece of coal is thrown on the fire, we say that it will radiate
into the room a certain quantity of heat. This heat, in the popular
conception, is supposed to reside in the coal and to be set free during
the process of combustion. In reality, however, the heat energy is only
in part contained in the coal. It is contained just as truly in the
coal's Environment--that is to say, in the oxygen of the air. The atoms
of carbon which compose the coal have a powerful affinity for the oxygen
of the air. Whenever they are made to approach within a certain
distance of one another, by the initial application of heat, they rush
together with inconceivable velocity. The heat which appears at this
moment, comes neither from the carbon alone, nor from the oxygen alone.
These two substances are really inconsumable, and continue to exist,
after they meet in a combined form, as carbonic acid gas. The heat is
due to the energy developed by the chemical embrace, the precipitate
rushing together of the molecules of carbon and the molecules of oxygen.
It comes, therefore, partly from the coal and partly from the
Environment. Coal alone never could produce heat, neither alone could
Environment. The two are mutually dependent. And although in nearly all
the arts we credit everything to the substance which we can weigh and
handle, it is certain that in the most cases the larger debt is due to
an invisible Environment.

This is one of those great commonplaces which slip out of general
reckoning by reason of their very largeness and simplicity. How
profound, nevertheless, are the issues which hang on this elementary
truth, we shall discover immediately. Nothing in this age is more needed
in every department of knowledge than the rejuvenescence of the
commonplace. In the spiritual world especially, he will be wise who
courts acquaintance with the most ordinary and transparent facts of
Nature; and in laying the foundations for a religious life he will make
no unworthy beginning who carries with him an impressive sense of so
obvious a truth as that without Environment there can be no life.

For what does this amount to in the spiritual world? Is it not merely
the scientific re-statement of the reiterated aphorism of Christ,
"Without Me ye can do nothing?" There is in the spiritual organism a
principle of life; but that is not self-existent. It requires a second
factor, a something in which to live and move and have its being, an
Environment. Without this it cannot live or move or have any being.
Without Environment the soul is as the carbon without the oxygen, as
the fish without the water, as the animal frame without the extrinsic
conditions of vitality.

And what is the spiritual Environment? It is God. Without this,
therefore, there is no life, no thought, no energy, nothing--"without Me
ye can do nothing."

The cardinal error in the religious life is to attempt to live without
an Environment. Spiritual experience occupies itself, not too much, but
too exclusively, with one factor--the soul. We delight in dissecting
this much tortured faculty, from time to time, in search of a certain
something which we call our faith--forgetting that faith is but an
attitude, an empty hand for grasping an environing Presence. And when we
feel the need of a power by which to overcome the world, how often do we
not seek to generate it within ourselves by some forced process, some
fresh girding of the will, some strained activity which only leaves the
soul in further exhaustion? To examine ourselves is good; but useless
unless we also examine Environment. To bewail our weakness is right, but
not remedial. The cause must be investigated as well as the result. And
yet, because we never see the other half of the problem, our failures
even fail to instruct us. After each new collapse we begin our life
anew, but on the old conditions; and the attempt ends as usual in the
repetition--in the circumstances the inevitable repetition--of the old
disaster. Not that at times we do not obtain glimpses of the true state
of the case. After seasons of much discouragement, with the sore sense
upon us of our abject feebleness, we do confer with ourselves, insisting
for the thousandth time, "My soul, wait thou only upon God." But the
lesson is soon forgotten. The strength supplied we speedily credit to
our own achievement; and even the temporary success is mistaken for a
symptom of improved inward vitality. Once more we become self-existent.
Once more we go on living without an Environment. And once more, after
days of wasting without repairing, of spending without replenishing, we
begin to perish with hunger, only returning to God again, as a last
resort, when we have reached starvation point.

Now why do we do this? Why do we seek to breathe without an atmosphere,
to drink without a well? Why this unscientific attempt to sustain life
for weeks at a time without an Environment? It is because we have never
truly seen the necessity for an Environment. We have not been working
with a principle. We are told to "wait only upon God," but we do not
know why. It has never been as clear to us that without God the soul
will die as that without food the body will perish. In short, we have
never comprehended the doctrine of the Persistence of Force. Instead of
being content to transform energy we have tried to create it.

The Law of Nature here is as clear as Science can make it. In the words
of Mr. Herbert Spencer, "It is a corollary from that primordial truth
which, as we have seen, underlies all other truths, that whatever amount
of power an organism expends in any shape is the correlate and
equivalent of a power that was taken into it from without,"[82] We are
dealing here with a simple question of dynamics. Whatever energy the
soul expends must first be "taken into it from without." We are not
Creators, but creatures; God is our refuge _and strength_. Communion
with God, therefore, is a scientific necessity; and nothing will more
help the defeated spirit which is struggling in the wreck of its
religious life than a common-sense hold of this plain biological
principle that without Environment he can do nothing. What he wants is
not an occasional view, but a principle--a basal principle like this,
broad as the universe, solid as nature. In the natural world we act upon
this law unconsciously. We absorb heat, breathe air, draw on Environment
all but automatically for meat and drink, for the nourishment of the
senses, for mental stimulus, for all that, penetrating us from without,
can prolong, enrich, and elevate life. But in the spiritual world we
have all this to learn. We are new creatures, and even the bare living
has to be acquired.

Now the great point in learning to live is to live naturally. As closely
as possible we must follow the broad, clear lines of the natural life.
And there are three things especially which it is necessary for us to
keep continually in view. The first is that the organism contains within
itself only one-half of what is essential to life; the second is that
the other half is contained in the Environment; the third, that the
condition of receptivity is simple union between the organism and the

Translated into the language of religion these propositions yield, and
place on a scientific basis, truths of immense practical interest. To
say, first, that the organism contains within itself only one-half of
what is essential to life, is to repeat the evangelical confession, so
worn and yet so true to universal experience, of the utter helplessness
of man. Who has not come to the conclusion that he is but a part, a
fraction of some larger whole? Who does not miss at every turn of his
life an absent God? That man is but a part, he knows, for there is room
in him for more. That God is the other part, he feels, because at times
He satisfies his need. Who does not tremble often under that sicklier
symptom of his incompleteness, his want of spiritual energy, his
helplessness with sin? But now he understands both--the void in his
life, the powerlessness of his will. He understands that, like all other
energy, spiritual power is contained in Environment. He finds here at
last the true root of all human frailty, emptiness, nothingness, sin.
This is why "without Me ye can do nothing." Powerlessness is the normal
state not only of this but of every organism--of every organism apart
from its Environment.

The entire dependence of the soul upon God is not an exceptional
mystery, nor is man's helplessness an arbitrary and unprecedented
phenomenon. It is the law of all Nature. The spiritual man is not taxed
beyond the natural. He is not purposely handicapped by singular
limitations or unusual incapacities. God has not designedly made the
religious life as hard as possible. The arrangements for the spiritual
life are the same as for the natural life. When in their hours of
unbelief men challenge their Creator for placing the obstacle of human
frailty in the way of their highest development, their protest is
against the order of nature. They object to the sun for being the source
of energy and not the engine, to the carbonic acid being in the air and
not in the plant. They would equip each organism with a personal
atmosphere, each brain with a private store of energy; they would grow
corn in the interior of the body, and make bread by a special apparatus
in the digestive organs. They must, in short, have the creature
transformed into a Creator. The organism must either depend on his
environment, or be self-sufficient. But who will not rather approve the
arrangement by which man in his creatural life may have unbroken access
to an Infinite Power? What soul will seek to remain self-luminous when
it knows that "The Lord God is a _Sun_?" Who will not willingly exchange
his shallow vessel for Christ's well of living water? Even if the
organism, launched into being like a ship putting out to sea, possessed
a full equipment, its little store must soon come to an end. But in
contact with a large and bounteous Environment its supply is limitless.
In every direction its resources are infinite.

There is a modern school which protests against the doctrine of man's
inability as the heartless fiction of a past theology. While some forms
of that dogma, to any one who knows man, are incapable of defence, there
are others which, to any one who knows Nature, are incapable of denial.
Those who oppose it, in their jealousy for humanity, credit the organism
with the properties of Environment. All true theology, on the other
hand, has remained loyal to at least the root-idea in this truth. The
New Testament is nowhere more impressive than where it insists on the
fact of man's dependence. In its view the first step in religion is for
man to feel his helplessness. Christ's first beatitude is to the poor in
spirit. The condition of entrance into the spiritual kingdom is to
possess the child-spirit--that state of mind combining at once the
profoundest helplessness with the most artless feeling of dependence.
Substantially the same idea underlies the countless passages in which
Christ affirms that He has not come to call the righteous, but sinners
to repentance. And in that farewell discourse into which the Great
Teacher poured the most burning convictions of His life, He gives to
this doctrine an ever increasing emphasis. No words could be more solemn
or arresting than the sentence in the last great allegory devoted to
this theme, "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself except it abide
in the vine, no more can ye except ye abide in Me." The word here, it
will be observed again, is _cannot_. It is the imperative of natural
law. Fruit-bearing without Christ is not an improbability, but an
impossibility. As well expect the natural fruit to flourish without air
and heat, without soil and sunshine. How thoroughly also Paul grasped
this truth is apparent from a hundred pregnant passages in which he
echoes his Master's teaching. To him life was hid with Christ in God.
And that he embraced this not as a theory but as an experimental truth
we gather from his constant confession, "When I am weak, then am I

This leads by a natural transition to the second of the three points we
are seeking to illustrate. We have seen that the organism contains
within itself only one half of what is essential to life. We have next
to observe, as the complement of this, how the second half is contained
in the Environment.

One result of the due apprehension of our personal helplessness will be
that we shall no longer waste our time over the impossible task of
manufacturing energy for ourselves. Our science will bring to an abrupt
end the long series of severe experiments in which we have indulged in
the hope of finding a perpetual motion. And having decided upon this
once for all, our first step in seeking a more satisfactory state of
things must be to find a new source of energy. Following Nature, only
one course is open to us. We must refer to Environment. The natural life
owes all to Environment, so must the spiritual. Now the Environment of
the spiritual life is God. As Nature therefore forms the complement of
the natural life, God is the complement of the spiritual.

The proof of this? That Nature is not more natural to my body than God
is to my soul. Every animal and plant has its own Environment. And the
further one inquires into the relations of the one to the other, the
more one sees the marvelous intricacy and beauty of the adjustments.
These wonderful adaptations of each organism to its surroundings--of the
fish to the water, of the eagle to the air, of the insect to the forest
bed; and of each part of every organism--the fish's swim-bladder, the
eagle's eye, the insect's breathing tubes--which the old argument from
design brought home to us with such enthusiasm, inspire us still with a
sense of the boundless resources and skill of Nature in perfecting her
arrangements for each single life. Down to the last detail the world is
made for what is in it; and by whatever process things are as they are,
all organisms find in surrounding Nature the ample complement of
themselves. Man, too, finds in his Environment provision for all
capacities, scope for the exercise of every faculty, room for the
indulgence of each appetite, a just supply for every want. So the
spiritual man at the apex of the pyramid of life finds in the vaster
range of his Environment a provision, as much higher, it is true, as he
is higher, but as delicately adjusted to his varying needs. And all
this is supplied to him just as the lower organisms are ministered to by
the lower environment, in the same simple ways, in the same constant
sequence, as appropriately and as lavishly. We fail to praise the
ceaseless ministry of the great inanimate world around us only because
its kindness is unobtrusive. Nature is always noiseless. All her
greatest gifts are given in secret. And we forget how truly every good
and perfect gift comes from without, and from above, because no pause in
her changeless beneficence teaches us the sad lesson of deprivation.

It is not a strange thing, then, for the soul to find its life in God.
This is its native air. God as the Environment of the soul has been from
the remotest age the doctrine of all the deepest thinkers in religion.
How profoundly Hebrew poetry is saturated with this high thought will
appear when we try to conceive of it with this left out. True poetry is
only science in another form. And long before it was possible for
religion to give scientific expression to its greatest truths, men of
insight uttered themselves in psalms which could not have been truer to
Nature had the most modern light controlled the inspiration. "As the
hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O
God." What fine sense of the analogy of the natural and the spiritual
does not underlie these words. As the hart after its Environment, so man
after his; as the water-brooks are fitly designed to meet the natural
wants, so fitly does God implement the spiritual need of man. It will be
noticed that in the Hebrew poets the longing for God never strikes one
as morbid, or unnatural to the men who utter it. It is as natural to
them to long for God as for the swallow to seek her nest. Throughout all
their images no suspicion rises within us that they are exaggerating. We
feel how truly they are reading themselves, their deepest selves. No
false note occurs in all their aspiration. There is no weariness even in
their ceaseless sighing, except the lover's weariness for the
absent--if they would fly away, it is only to be at rest. Men who have
no soul can only wonder at this. Men who have a soul, but with little
faith, can only envy it. How joyous a thing it was to the Hebrews to
seek their God! How artlessly they call upon Him to entertain them in
His pavilion, to cover them with His feathers, to hide them in His
secret place, to hold them in the hollow of His hand or stretch around
them the everlasting arms! These men were true children of Nature. As
the humming-bird among its own palm-trees, as the ephemera in the
sunshine of a summer evening, so they lived their joyous lives. And even
the full share of the sadder experience of life which came to all of
them but drove them the further into the Secret Place, and led them with
more consecration to make, as they expressed it, "the Lord their
portion." All that has been said since from Marcus Aurelius to
Swedenborg, from Augustine to Schleiermacher of a besetting God as the
final complement of humanity is but a repetition of the Hebrew poets'
faith. And even the New Testament has nothing higher to offer man than
this. The psalmist's "God is our refuge and strength" is only the
earlier form, less defined, less practicable, but not less noble, of
Christ's "Come unto Me, and I will give you rest."

There is a brief phrase of Paul's which defines the relation with almost
scientific accuracy--"Ye are complete in Him." In this is summed up the
whole of the Bible anthropology--the completeness of man in God, his
incompleteness apart from God.

If it be asked, In what is man incomplete, or, In what does God complete
him? the question is a wide one. But it may serve to show at least the
direction in which the Divine Environment forms the complement of human
life if we ask ourselves once more what it is in life that needs
complementing. And to this question we receive the significant answer
that it is in the higher departments alone, or mainly, that the
incompleteness of our life appears. The lower departments of Nature are
already complete enough. The world itself is about as good a world as
might be. It has been long in the making, its furniture is all in, its
laws are in perfect working order; and although wise men at various
times have suggested improvements, there is on the whole a tolerably
unanimous vote of confidence in things as they exist. The Divine
Environment has little more to do for this planet so far as we can see,
and so far as the existing generation is concerned. Then the lower
organic life of the world is also so far complete. God, through
Evolution or otherwise, may still have finishing touches to add here and
there, but already it is "all very good." It is difficult to conceive
anything better of its kind than a lily or a cedar, an ant or an
ant-eater. These organisms, so far as we can judge, lack nothing. It
might be said of them, "they are complete in Nature." Of man also, of
man the animal, it may be affirmed that his Environment satisfies him.
He has food and drink, and good food and good drink. And there is in him
no purely animal want which is not really provided for, and that
apparently in the happiest possible way.

But the moment we pass beyond the mere animal life we begin to come upon
an incompleteness. The symptoms at first are slight, and betray
themselves only by an unexplained restlessness or a dull sense of want.
Then the feverishness increases, becomes more defined, and passes slowly
into abiding pain. To some come darker moments when the unrest deepens
into a mental agony of which all the other woes of earth are
mockeries--moments when the forsaken soul can only cry in terror for the
Living God. Up to a point the natural Environment supplies man's wants,
beyond that it only derides him. How much in man lies beyond that point?
Very much--almost all, all that makes man man. The first suspicion of
the terrible truth--so for the time let us call it--wakens with the
dawn of the intellectual life. It is a solemn moment when the
slow-moving mind reaches at length the verge of its mental horizon, and,
looking over, sees nothing more. Its straining makes the abyss but more
profound. Its cry comes back without an echo. Where is the Environment
to complete this rational soul? Men either find one--_One_--or spend the
rest of their days in trying to shut their eyes. The alternatives of the
intellectual life are Christianity or Agnosticism. The Agnostic is right
when he trumpets his incompleteness. He who is not complete in Him must
be forever incomplete. Still more grave becomes man's case when he
begins further to explore his moral and social nature. The problems of
the heart and conscience are infinitely more perplexing than those of
the intellect. Has love no future? Has right no triumph? Is the
unfinished self to remain unfinished? Again, the alternatives are two,
Christianity or Pessimism. But when we ascend the further height of the
religious nature, the crisis comes. There, without Environment, the
darkness is unutterable. So maddening now becomes the mystery that men
are compelled to construct an Environment for themselves. No Environment
here is unthinkable. An altar of some sort men must have--God, or
Nature, or Law. But the anguish of Atheism is only a negative proof of
man's incompleteness. A witness more overwhelming is the prayer of the
Christian. What a very strange thing, is it not, for man to pray? It is
the symbol at once of his littleness and of his greatness. Here the
sense of imperfection, controlled and silenced in the narrower reaches
of his being, becomes audible. Now he must utter himself. The sense of
need is so real, and the sense of Environment, that he calls out to it,
addressing it articulately, and imploring it to satisfy his need. Surely
there is nothing more touching in Nature than this? Man could never so
expose himself, so break through all constraint, except from a dire
necessity. It is the suddenness and unpremeditatedness of Prayer that
gives it a unique value as an apologetic.

Man has three questions to put to his Environment, three symbols of his
incompleteness. They come from three different centers of his being. The
first is the question of the intellect, What is Truth? The natural
Environment answers, "Increase of Knowledge increaseth Sorrow," and
"much study is a Weariness." Christ replies, "Learn of Me, and ye shall
find Rest." Contrast the world's word "Weariness" with Christ's word
"Rest." No other teacher since the world began has ever associated
"learn" with "Rest." Learn of me, says the philosopher, and you shall
find Restlessness. Learn of Me, says Christ, and ye shall find Rest.
Thought, which the godless man has cursed, that eternally starved yet
ever living specter, finds at last its imperishable glory; Thought is
complete in Him. The second question is sent up from the moral nature,
Who will show us any good? And again we have a contrast: the world's
verdict, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one;" and Christ's,
"There is none good but God only." And finally, there is the lonely cry
of the spirit, most pathetic and most deep of all, Where is he whom my
soul seeketh? And the yearning is met as before, "I looked on my right
hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me; refuge failed
me; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto Thee, O Lord: I said, Thou
are my refuge and my portion in the land of the living."[83]

Are these the directions in which men in these days are seeking to
complete their lives? The completion of Life is just now a supreme
question. It is important to observe how it is being answered. If we ask
Science or Philosophy they will refer us to Evolution. The struggle for
Life, they assure us, is steadily eliminating imperfect forms, and as
the fittest continue to survive we shall have a gradual perfecting of
being. That is to say, that completeness is to be sought for in the
organism--we are to be complete in Nature and in ourselves. To
Evolution, certainly, all men will look for a further perfecting of
Life. But it must be an Evolution which includes all the factors.
Civilization, it may be said, will deal with the second factor. It will
improve the Environment step by step as it improves the organism, or the
organism as it improves the Environment. This is well, and it will
perfect Life up to a point. But beyond that it cannot carry us. As the
possibilities of the natural Life become more defined, its
impossibilities will become the more appalling. The most perfect
civilization would leave the best part of us still incomplete. Men will
have to give up the experiment of attempting to live in half an
Environment. Half an Environment will give but half a Life. Half an
Environment? He whose correspondences are with this world alone has only
a thousandth part, a fraction, the mere rim and shade of an Environment,
and only the fraction of a Life. How long will it take Science to
believe its own creed, that the material universe we see around us is
only a fragment of the universe we do not see? The very retention of the
phrase "Material Universe," we are told, is the confession of our
unbelief and ignorance; since "matter is the less important half of the
material of the physical universe."[84]

The thing to be aimed at is not an organism self-contained and
self-sufficient, however high in the scale of being, but an organism
complete in the whole Environment. It is open to any one to aim at a
self-sufficient Life, but he will find no encouragement in Nature. The
Life of the body may complete itself in the physical world; that is its
legitimate Environment. The Life of the senses, high and low, may
perfect itself in Nature. Even the Life of thought may find a large
complement in surrounding things. But the higher thought, and the
conscience, and the religious Life, can only perfect themselves in God.
To make the influence of Environment stop with the natural world is to
doom the spiritual nature to death. For the soul, like the body, can
never perfect itself in isolation. The law for both is to be complete in
the appropriate Environment. And the perfection to be sought in the
spiritual world is a perfection of relation, a perfect adjustment of
that which is becoming perfect to that which is perfect.

The third problem, now simplified to a point, finally presents itself.
Where do organism and Environment meet? How does that which is becoming
perfect avail itself of its perfecting Environment? And the answer is,
just as in Nature. The condition is simple receptivity. And yet this is
perhaps the least simple of all conditions. It is so simple that we will
not act upon it. But there is no other condition. Christ has condensed
the whole truth into one memorable sentence, "As the branch cannot bear
fruit of itself except it abide in the vine, no more can ye except ye
abide in Me." And on the positive side, "He that abideth in Me the same
bringeth forth much fruit."


[81] _Vide_ Karl Semper's "The Natural Conditions of Existence as they
affect Animal Life;" Wallace's "Tropical Nature;" Weismann's "Studies in
the Theory of Descent;" Darwin's "Animals and Plants under

[82] "Principles of Biology," p. 57.

[83] Ps. cxlii. 4, 5.

[84] The "Unseen Universe," 6th Ed., p. 100.


        "'So careful of the type?' but no.
          From scarpèd cliff and quarried stone
          She cries, 'A thousand types are gone:
        I care for nothing, all shall go.

        'Thou makest thine appeal to me;
          I bring to life, I bring to death:
          The spirit does but mean thy breath:
        I know no more.' And he, shall he,

        Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
          Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
          Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
        Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,

        Who trusted God was love indeed
          And love Creation's final law--
          Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
        With ravine, shriek'd against his creed--

        Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills,
          Who battled for the True, the Just,
          Be blown about the desert dust
        Or seal'd within the iron hills?"
                                                --_In Memoriam._

    "Until Christ be formed in you."--_Paul._

    "The one end to which, in all living beings, the formative impulse
    is tending--the one scheme which the Archæus of the old speculators
    strives to carry out, seems to be to mould the offspring into the
    likeness of the parent. It is the first great law of reproduction,
    that the offspring tends to resemble its parent or parents more
    closely than anything else."--_Huxley._

If a botanist be asked the difference between an oak, a palm-tree and a
lichen, he will declare that they are separated from one another by the
broadest line known to classification. Without taking into account the
outward differences of size and form, the variety of flower and fruit,
the peculiarities of leaf and branch, he sees even in their general
architecture types of structure as distinct as Norman, Gothic and
Egyptian. But if the first young germs of these three plants are placed
before him and he is called upon to define the difference, he finds it
impossible. He cannot even say which is which. Examined under the
highest powers of the microscope they yield no clue. Analyzed by the
chemist with all the appliances of his laboratory they keep their

The same experiment can be tried with the embryos of animals. Take the
ovule of the worm, the eagle, the elephant, and of man himself. Let the
most skilled observer apply the most searching tests to distinguish one
from the other and he will fail. But there is something more surprising
still. Compare next the two sets of germs, the vegetable and the animal.
And there is still no shade of difference. Oak and palm, worm and man
all start in life together. No matter into what strangely different
forms they may afterward develop, no matter whether they are to live on
sea or land, creep or fly, swim or walk, think or vegetate, in the
embryo as it first meets the eye of Science they are indistinguishable.
The apple which fell in Newton's garden, Newton's dog Diamond, and
Newton himself, began life at the same point.[85]

If we analyze this material point at which all life starts, we shall
find it to consist of a clear structureless jelly-like substance
resembling albumen or white of egg. It is made of Carbon, Hydrogen,
Oxygen and Nitrogen. Its name is protoplasm. And it is not only the
structural unit with which all living bodies start in life, but with
which they are subsequently built up. "Protoplasm," says Huxley, "simple
or nucleated, is the formal basis of all life. It is the clay of the
Potter." "Beast and fowl, reptile and fish, mollusk, worm and polype are
all composed of structural units of the same character, namely, masses
of protoplasm with a nucleus."[86]

What then determines the difference between different animals? What
makes one little speck of protoplasm grow into Newton's dog Diamond, and
another, exactly the same, into Newton himself? It is a mysterious
something which has entered into this protoplasm. No eye can see it. No
science can define it. There is a different something for Newton's dog
and a different something for Newton; so that though both use the same
matter they build it up in these widely different ways. Protoplasm being
the clay, this something is the Potter. And as there is only one clay
and yet all these curious forms are developed out of it, it follows
necessarily that the difference lies in the potters. There must in short
be as many potters as there are forms. There is the potter who segments
the worm, and the potter who builds up the form of the dog, and the
potter who moulds the man. To understand unmistakably that it is really
the potter who does the work, let us follow for a moment a description
of the process by a trained eye-witness. The observer is Mr. Huxley.
Through the tube of his microscope he is watching the development, out
of a speck of protoplasm, of one of the commonest animals: "Strange
possibilities," he says, "lie dormant in that semi-fluid globule. Let a
moderate supply of warmth reach its watery cradle and the plastic matter
undergoes changes so rapid and yet so steady and purposelike in their
succession that one can only compare them to those operated by a skilled
modeler upon a formless lump of clay. As with an invisible trowel the
mass is divided and subdivided into smaller and smaller portions, until
it is reduced to an aggregation of granules not too large to build
withal the finest fabrics of the nascent organism. And, then, it is as
if a delicate finger traced out the line to be occupied by the spinal
column, and moulded the contour of the body; pinching up the head at one
end, the tail at the other, and fashioning flank and limb into due
proportions in so artistic a way, that, after watching the process hour
by hour, one is almost involuntarily possessed by the notion, that some
more subtle aid to vision than an achromatic would show the hidden
artist, with his plan before him, striving with skillful manipulation to
perfect his work."[87]

Besides the fact, so luminously brought out here, that the artist is
distinct from the "semi-fluid globule" of protoplasm in which he works,
there is this other essential point to notice, that in all his "skillful
manipulation" the artist is not working at random, but according to law.
He has "his plan before him." In the zoological laboratory of Nature it
is not as in a workshop where a skilled artisan can turn his hand to
anything--where the same potter one day moulds a dog, the next a bird,
and the next a man. In Nature one potter is set apart to make each. It
is a more complete system of division of labor. One artist makes all the
dogs, another makes all the birds, a third makes all the men. Moreover,
each artist confines himself exclusively to working out his own plan. He
appears to have his own plan somehow stamped upon himself, and his work
is rigidly to reproduce himself.

The Scientific Law by which this takes place is the Law of Conformity to
Type. It is contained, to a large extent, in the ordinary Law of
Inheritance; or it may be considered as simply another way of stating
what Darwin calls the Laws of Unity of Type. Darwin defines it thus: "By
Unity of Type is meant that fundamental agreement in structure which we
see in organic beings of the same class, and which is quite independent
of their habits of life."[88] According to this law every living thing
that comes into the world is compelled to stamp upon its offspring the
image of itself. The dog, according to its type, produces a dog; the
bird a bird.

The artist who operates upon matter in this subtle way and carries out
this law is Life. There are a great many different kinds of Life. If one
might give the broader meaning to the words of the apostle: "All life is
not the same life. There is one kind of life of men, another life of
beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds." There is the Life, or
the Artist, or the Potter who segments the worm, the potter who forms
the dog, the potter who moulds the man.[89]

What goes on then in the animal kingdom is this--the Bird-Life seizes
upon the bird-germ and builds it up into a bird, the image of itself.
The Reptile Life seizes upon another germinal speck, assimilates
surrounding matter, and fashions it into a reptile. The Reptile-Life
thus simply makes an incarnation of itself. The visible bird is simply
an incarnation of the invisible Bird-Life.

Now we are nearing the point where the spiritual analogy appears. It is
a very wonderful analogy, so wonderful that one almost hesitates to put
it into words. Yet Nature is reverent; and it is her voice to which we
listen. These lower phenomena of life, she says, are but an allegory.
There is another kind of Life of which Science as yet has taken little
cognizance. It obeys the same laws. It builds up an organism into its
own form. It is the Christ-Life. As the Bird-Life builds up a bird, the
image of itself, so the Christ-Life builds up a Christ, the image of
Himself, in the inward nature of man. When a man becomes a Christian the
natural process is this: The Living Christ enters into his soul.
Development begins. The quickening Life seizes upon the soul,
assimilates surrounding elements, and begins to fashion it. According to
the great Law of Conformity to Type this fashioning takes a specific
form. It is that of the Artist who fashions. And all through Life this
wonderful, mystical, glorious, yet perfectly definite process, goes on
"until Christ be formed" in it.

The Christian Life is not a vague effort after righteousness--an
ill-defined pointless struggle for an ill-defined pointless end.
Religion is no dishevelled mass of aspiration, prayer, and faith. There
is no more mystery in Religion as to its processes than in Biology.
There is much mystery in Biology. We know all but nothing of Life yet,
nothing of development. There is the same mystery in the spiritual Life.
But the great lines are the same, as decided, as luminous; and the laws
of natural and spiritual are the same, as unerring, as simple. Will
everything else in the natural world unfold its order, and yield to
Science more and more a vision of harmony, and Religion, which should
complement and perfect all, remain a chaos? From the standpoint of
Revelation no truth is more obscure than Conformity to Type. If Science
can furnish a companion phenomenon from an every-day process of the
natural life, it may at least throw this most mystical doctrine of
Christianity into thinkable form. Is there any fallacy in speaking of
the Embryology of the New Life? Is the analogy invalid? Are there not
vital processes in the Spiritual as well as in the Natural world? The
Bird being an incarnation of the Bird-Life, may not the Christian be a
spiritual incarnation of the Christ-Life? And is here not a real
justification in the processes of the New-Birth for such a parallel?

Let us appeal to the record of these processes.

In what terms does the New Testament describe them? The answer is
sufficiently striking. It uses everywhere the language of Biology. It is
impossible that the New Testament writers should have been familiar with
these biological facts. It is impossible that their views of this great
truth should have been as clear as Science can make them now. But they
had no alternative. There was no other way of expressing this truth. It
was a biological question. So they struck out unhesitatingly into the
new fields of words, and, with an originality which commands both
reverence and surprise, stated their truth with such light, or darkness,
as they had. They did not mean to be scientific, only to be accurate,
and their fearless accuracy has made them scientific.

What could be more original, for instance, than the Apostle's
reiteration that the Christian was a new creature, a new man, a
babe?[90] Or that this new man was "begotten of God," God's
workmanship?[91] And what could be a more accurate expression of the law
of Conformity to Type than this: "Put on the new man, which is renewed
in knowledge after the image of Him that created him?"[92] Or this, "We
are changed into the same image from glory to glory?"[93] And elsewhere
we are expressly told by the same writer that this Conformity is the end
and goal of the Christian life. To work this Type in us is the whole
purpose of God for man. "Whom He did foreknow He also did predestinate
to be conformed to the image of His Son."[94]

One must confess that the originality of this entire New Testament
conception is most startling. Even for the nineteenth century it is the
most startling. But when one remembers that such an idea took form in
the first, one cannot fail to be impressed with a deepening wonder at
the system which begat and cherished it. Men seek the origin of
Christianity among philosophies of that age. Scholars contrast it still
with these philosophies, and scheme to fit it in to those of later
growth. Has it never occurred to them how much more it is than a
philosophy, that it includes a science, a Biology pure and simple? As
well might naturalists contrast zoology with chemistry, or seek to
incorporate geology with botany--the living with the dead--as try to
explain the spiritual life in terms of mind alone. When will it be seen
that the characteristic of the Christian Religion is its Life, that a
true theology must begin with a Biology? Theology is the Science of God.
Why will men treat God as inorganic?

If this analogy is capable of being worked out, we should expect answers
to at least three questions.

First: What corresponds to the protoplasm in the spiritual sphere?

Second: What is the Life, the Hidden Artist who fashions it?

Third: What do we know of the process and the plan?

First: The Protoplasm.

We should be forsaking the lines of nature were we to imagine for a
moment that the new creature was to be found out of nothing. _Ex nihilo
nihil_--nothing can be made out of nothing. Matter is uncreatable and
indestructible; Nature and man can only form and transform. Hence when a
new animal is made, no new clay is made. Life merely enters into already
existing matter, assimilates more of the same sort and re-builds it. The
spiritual Artist works in the same way. He must have a peculiar kind of
protoplasm, a basis of life, and that must be already existing.

Now we find this in the materials of character with which the natural
man is previously provided. Mind and character, the will and the
affections, the moral nature--these form the bases of spiritual life. To
look in this direction for the protoplasm of the spiritual life is
consistent with all analogy. The lowest or mineral world mainly supplies
the material--and this is true even for insectivorous species--for the
vegetable kingdom. The vegetable supplies the material for the animal.
Next in turn, the animal furnishes material for the mental, and lastly
the mental for the spiritual. Each member of the series is complete only
when the steps below it are complete; the highest demands all. It is not
necessary for the immediate purpose to go so far into the psychology
either of the new creature or of the old as to define more clearly what
these moral bases are. It is enough to discover that in this womb the
new creature is to be born, fashioned out of the mental and moral parts,
substance, or essence of the natural man. The only thing to be insisted
upon is that in the natural man this mental and moral substance or basis
is spiritually lifeless. However active the intellectual or moral life
may be, from the point of view of this other Life it is dead. That which
is flesh is flesh. It wants, that is to say, the kind of Life which
constitutes the difference between the Christian and the
not-a-Christian. It has not yet been "born of the Spirit."

To show further that this protoplasm possesses the necessary properties
of a normal protoplasm it will be necessary to examine in passing what
these properties are. They are two in number, the capacity for life and
plasticity. Consider first the capacity for life. It is not enough to
find an adequate supply of material. That must be of the right kind. For
all kinds of matter have not the power to be the vehicle of life--all
kinds of matter are not even fitted to be the vehicle of electricity.
What peculiarity there is in Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Nitrogen,
when combined in a certain way, to receive life, we cannot tell. We only
know that life is always associated in Nature with this particular
physical basis and never with any other. But we are not in the same
darkness with regard to the moral protoplasm. When we look at this
complex combination which we have predicted as the basis of spiritual
life, we do find something which gives it a peculiar qualification for
being the protoplasm of the Christ-Life. We discover one strong reason
at least, not only why this kind of life should be associated with this
kind of protoplasm, but why it should never be associated with other
kinds which seem to resemble it--why, for instance, this spiritual life
should not be engrafted upon the intelligence of a dog or the instincts
of an ant.

The protoplasm in man has a something in addition to its instincts or
its habits. It has a capacity for God. In this capacity for God lies its
receptivity; it is the very protoplasm that was necessary. The chamber
is not only ready to receive the new Life, but the Guest is expected,
and, till He comes, is missed. Till then the soul longs and yearns,
wastes and pines, waving its tentacles piteously in the empty air,
feeling after God if so be that it may find Him. This is not peculiar to
the protoplasm of the Christian's soul. In every land and in every age
there have been altars to the Known or Unknown God. It is now agreed as
a mere question of anthropology that the universal language of the human
soul has always been "I perish with hunger." This is what fits it for
Christ. There is a grandeur in this cry from the depths which makes its
very unhappiness sublime.

The other quality we are to look for in the soul is mouldableness,
plasticity. Conformity demands conformability. Now plasticity is not
only a marked characteristic of all forms of life, but in a special
sense of the highest forms. It increases steadily as we rise in the
scale. The inorganic world, to begin with, is rigid. A crystal of silica
dissolved and redissolved a thousand times will never assume any other
form than the hexagonal. The plant next, though plastic in its elements,
is comparatively insusceptible of change. The very fixity of its sphere,
the imprisonment for life in a single spot of earth, is the symbol of a
certain degradation. The animal in all parts is mobile, sensitive, free;
the highest animal, man, is the most mobile, the most at leisure from
routine, the most impressionable, the most open for change. And when we
reach the mind and soul, this mobility is found in its most developed
form. Whether we regard its susceptibility to impressions, its
lightning-like response even to influences the most impalpable and
subtle, its power of instantaneous adjustment, or whether we regard the
delicacy and variety of its moods, or its vast powers of growth, we are
forced to recognize in this the most perfect capacity for change. This
marvellous plasticity of mind contains at once the possibility and
prophecy of its transformation. The soul, in a word, is made to be

Second: The Life.

The main reason for giving the Life, the agent of this change, a
separate treatment, is to emphasize the distinction between it and the
natural man on the one hand, and the spiritual man on the other. The
natural man is its basis, the spiritual man is its product, the Life
itself is something different. Just as in an organism we have these
three things--formative matter, formed matter, and the forming principle
or life; so in the soul we have the old nature, the renewed nature, and
the transforming Life.

This being made evident, little remains here to be added. No man has
ever seen this Life. It cannot be analyzed, or weighed, or traced in its
essential nature. But this is just what we expected. This invisibility
is the same property which we found to be peculiar to the natural life.
We saw no life in the first embryos, in oak, in palm, or in bird. In the
adult it likewise escapes us. We shall not wonder if we cannot see it in
the Christian. We shall not expect to see it. _A fortiori_ we shall not
expect to see it, for we are further removed from the coarser
matter--moving now among ethereal and spiritual things. It is because it
conforms to the law of this analogy so well that men, not seeing it,
have denied its being. Is it hopeless to point out that one of the most
recognizable characteristics of life is its unrecognizableness, and that
the very token of its spiritual nature lies in its being beyond the
grossness of our eyes?

We do not pretend that Science can define this Life to be Christ. It has
no definition to give even of its own life, much less of this. But there
are converging lines which point, at least, in the direction that it is
Christ. There was One whom history acknowledges to have been the Truth.
One of His claims was this, "I am the Life." According to the doctrine
of Biogenesis, life can only come from life. It was His additional claim
that His function in the world was to give men Life. "I am come that ye
might have Life, and that ye might have it more abundantly." This could
not refer to the natural life, for men had that already. He that hath
the Son hath another Life. "Know ye not your own selves how that Jesus
Christ is in you."

Again, there are men whose characters assume a strange resemblance to
Him who was the Life. When we see the bird-character appear in an
organism we assume that the Bird-Life has been there at work. And when
we behold Conformity to Type in a Christian, and know moreover that the
type-organization can be produced by the type-life alone does this not
lend support to the hypothesis that the Type-Life also has been here at
work? If every effect demands a cause, what other cause is there for the
Christian? When we have a cause, and an adequate cause, and no other
adequate cause; when we have the express statement of that Cause that he
is that cause, what more is possible? Let not Science, knowing nothing
of its own life, go further than to say it knows nothing of this Life.
We shall not dissent from its silence. But till it tells us what it is,
we wait for evidence that it is not this.

Third: The Process.

It is impossible to enter at length into any details of the great
miracle by which this protoplasm is to be conformed to the Image of the
Son. We enter that province now only so far as this Law of Conformity
compels us. Nor is it so much the nature of the process we have to
consider as its general direction and results. We are dealing with a
question of morphology rather than of physiology.

It must occur to one on reaching this point, that a new element here
comes in which compels us, for the moment, to part company with zoology.
That element is the conscious power of choice. The animal in following
the type is blind. It does not only follow the type involuntarily and
compulsorily, but does not know that it is following it. We might
certainly have been made to conform to the Type in the higher sphere
with no more knowledge or power of choice than animals or automata. But
then we should not have been men. It is a possible case, but not
possible to the kind of protoplasm with which men are furnished. Owing
to the peculiar characteristics of this protoplasm an additional and
exceptional provision is essential.

The first demand is that being conscious and having this power of
choice, the mind should have an adequate knowledge of what it is to
choose. Some revelation of the Type, that is to say, is necessary. And
as that revelation can only come from the Type, we must look there for

We are confronted at once with the Incarnation. There we find how the
Christ-Life has clothed Himself with matter, taken literal flesh, and
dwelt among us. The Incarnation is the Life revealing the Type. Men are
long since agreed that this is the end of the Incarnation--the revealing
of God. But why should God be revealed? Why, indeed, but for man? Why
but that "beholding as in a glass the glory of the only begotten we
should be changed into the same image?"

To meet the power of choice, however, something more was necessary than
the mere revelation of the Type--it was necessary that the Type should
be the highest conceivable Type. In other words, the Type must be an
Ideal. For all true human growth, effort, and achievement, an ideal is
acknowledged to be indispensable. And all men accordingly whose lives
are based on principle, have set themselves an ideal, more or less
perfect. It is this which first deflects the will from what is based,
and turns the wayward life to what is holy. So much is true as mere
philosophy. But philosophy failed to present men with their ideal. It
has never been suggested that Christianity has failed. Believers and
unbelievers have been compelled to acknowledge that Christianity holds
up to the world the missing Type, the Perfect Man.

The recognition of the Ideal is the first step in the direction of
Conformity. But let it be clearly observed that it is but a step. There
is no vital connection between merely seeing the Ideal and being
conformed to it. Thousands admire Christ who never become Christians.

But the great question still remains, How is the Christian to be
conformed to the Type, or as we should now say, dealing with
consciousness, to the Ideal? The mere knowledge of the Ideal is no more
than a motive. How is the process to be practically accomplished? Who is
to do it? Where, when, how? This is the test question of Christianity.
It is here that all theories of Christianity, all attempts to explain it
on natural principles, all reductions of it to philosophy, inevitably
break down. It is here that all imitations of Christianity perish. It is
here, also, that personal religion finds its most fatal obstacle. Men
are all quite clear about the Ideal. We are all convinced of the duty of
mankind regarding it. But how to secure that willing men shall attain
it--that is the problem of religion. It is the failure to understand the
dynamics of Christianity that has most seriously and most pitifully
hindered its growth both in the individual and in the race.

From the standpoint of biology this practical difficulty vanishes in a
moment. It is probably the very simplicity of the law regarding it that
has made men stumble. For nothing is so invisible to most men as
transparency. The law here is the same biological law that exists in the
natural world. For centuries men have striven to find out ways and means
to conform themselves to this type. Impressive motives have been
pictured, the proper circumstances arranged, the direction of effort
defined, and men have toiled, struggled, and agonized to conform
themselves to the Image of the Son. Can the protoplasm _conform itself_
to its type? Can the embryo _fashion itself_? Is Conformity to Type
produced by the matter _or by the life_, by the protoplasm or by the
Type? Is organization the cause of life or the effect of it? It is the
effect of it. Conformity to Type, therefore, is secured by the type.
Christ makes the Christian.

Men need only reflect on the automatic processes of their natural body
to discover that this is the universal law of Life. What does any man
consciously do, for instance, in the matter of breathing? What part does
he take in circulating the blood, in keeping up the rhythm of his heart?
What control has he over growth? What man by taking thought can add a
cubit to his stature? What part voluntarily does man take in secretion,
in digestion, in the reflex actions? In point of fact is he not after
all the veriest automaton, every organ of his body given him, every
function arranged for him, brain and nerve, thought and sensation, will
and conscience, all provided for him ready made? And yet he turns upon
his soul and wishes to organize that himself! O preposterous and vain
man, thou who couldest not make a finger-nail of thy body, thinkest thou
to fashion this wonderful, mysterious, subtle soul of thine after the
ineffable Image? Wilt thou ever permit thyself _to be_ conformed to the
Image of the Son? Wilt thou, who canst not add a cubit to thy stature,
submit _to be_ raised by the Type-Life within thee to the perfect
stature of Christ?

This is a humbling conclusion. And therefore men will resent it. Men
will still experiment "by works of righteousness which they have done"
to earn the Ideal life. The doctrine of Human Inability, as the Church
calls it, has always been objectionable to men who do not know
themselves. The doctrine itself, perhaps, has been partly to blame.
While it has been often affirmed in such language as rightly to humble
men, it has also been stated and cast in their teeth with words which
could only insult them. Merely to assert dogmatically that man has no
power to move hand or foot to help himself toward Christ, carries no
real conviction. The weight of human authority is always powerless, and
ought to be, where the intelligence is denied a rationale. In the light
of modern science when men seek a reason for every thought of God or
man, this old doctrine with its severe and almost inhuman aspect--till
rightly understood--must presently have succumbed. But to the biologist
it cannot die. It stands to him on the solid ground of Nature. It has a
reason in the laws of life which must resuscitate it and give it another
lease of years. Bird-Life makes the Bird. Christ-Life makes the
Christian. No man by taking thought can add a cubit to his stature.

So much for the scientific evidence. Here is the corresponding statement
of the truth from Scripture. Observe the passive voice in these
sentences: "_Begotten_ of God;" "The new man which _is renewed_ in
knowledge after the Image of Him that created him;" or this, "We _are
changed_ into the same Image;" or this, "Predestinate _to be conformed_
to the Image of His Son;" or again, "Until Christ _be formed_ in you;"
or "Except a man _be born again_ he cannot see the Kingdom of God;"
"Except a man _be born_ of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the
Kingdom of God." There is one outstanding verse which seems at first
sight on the other side: "Work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling;" but as one reads on he finds, as if the writer dreaded the
very misconception, the complement, "For it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do of His good pleasure."

It will be noticed in these passages, and in others which might be
named, that the process of transformation is referred indifferently to
the agency of each Person of the Trinity in turn. We are not concerned
to take up this question of detail. It is sufficient that the
transformation is wrought. Theologians, however, distinguish thus: the
indirect agent is Christ, the direct influence is the Holy Spirit. In
other words, Christ by his Spirit renews the souls of men.

Is man, then, out of the arena altogether? Is he mere clay in the hands
of the potter, a machine, a tool, an automaton? Yes and No. If he were a
tool he would not be a man. If he were a man he would have something to
do. One need not seek to balance what God does here, and what man does.
But we shall attain to a sufficient measure of truth on a most delicate
problem if we make a final appeal to the natural life. We find that in
maintaining this natural life Nature has a share and man has a share. By
far the larger part is done for us--the breathing, the secreting, the
circulating of the blood, the building up of the organism. And although
the part which man plays is a minor part, yet, strange to say, it is not
less essential to the well being, and even to the being, of the whole.
For instance, man has to take food. He has nothing to do with it after
he has once taken it, for the moment it passes his lips it is taken in
hand by reflex actions and handed on from one organ to another, his
control over it, in the natural course of things, being completely lost.
But the initial act was his. And without that nothing could have been
done. Now whether there be an exact analogy between the voluntary and
involuntary functions in the body, and the corresponding processes in
the soul, we do not at present inquire. But this will indicate, at
least, that man has his own part to play. Let him choose Life; let him
daily nourish his soul; let him forever starve the old life; let him
abide continuously as a living branch in the Vine, and the True-Vine
Life will flow into his soul, assimilating, renewing, conforming to
Type, till Christ, pledged by His own law, be formed in him.

We have been dealing with Christianity at its most mystical point. Mark
here once more its absolute naturalness. The pursuit of the Type is just
what all Nature is engaged in. Plant and insect, fish and reptile, bird
and mammal--these in their several spheres are striving after the Type.
To prevent its extinction, to ennoble it, to people earth and sea and
sky with it; this is the meaning of the Struggle for Life. And this is
our life--to pursue the Type, to populate the world with it.

Our religion is not all a mistake. We are not visionaries. We are not
"unpractical," as men pronounce us, when we worship. To try to follow
Christ is not to be "righteous overmuch." True men are not rhapsodizing
when they preach; nor do those waste their lives who waste themselves in
striving to extend the Kingdom of God on earth. This is what life is
for. The Christian in his life-aim is in strict line with Nature. What
men call his supernatural is quite natural.

Mark well also the splendor of this idea of salvation. It is not merely
final "safety," to be forgiven sin, to evade the curse. It is not,
vaguely, "to get to heaven." It is to be conformed to the Image of the
Son. It is for these poor elements to attain to the Supreme Beauty. The
organizing Life being Eternal, so must this Beauty be immortal. Its
progress toward the Immaculate is already guaranteed. And more than all
there is here fulfilled the sublimest of all prophecies; not Beauty
alone but Unity is secured by the Type--Unity of man and man, God and
man, God and Christ and man till "all shall be one."

Could Science in its most brilliant anticipations for the future of its
highest organism ever have foreshadowed a development like this? Now
that the revelation is made to it, it surely recognizes it as the
missing point in Evolution, the climax to which all Creation tends.
Hitherto Evolution had no future. It was a pillar with marvelous
carving, growing richer and finer toward the top, but without a capital;
a pyramid, the vast base buried in the inorganic, towering higher and
higher, tier above tier, life above life, mind above mind, ever more
perfect in its workmanship, more noble in its symmetry, and yet withal
so much the more mysterious in its aspiration. The most curious eye,
following it upward, saw nothing. The cloud fell and covered it. Just
what men wanted to see was hid. The work of the ages had no apex. But
the work begun by Nature is finished by the Supernatural--as we are wont
to call the higher natural. And as the veil is lifted by Christianity it
strikes men dumb with wonder. For the goal of Evolution is Jesus Christ.

The Christian life is the only life that will ever be completed. Apart
from Christ the life of man is a broken pillar, the race of men an
unfinished pyramid. One by one in sight of Eternity all human Ideals
fall short, one by one before the open grave all human hopes dissolve.
The Laureate sees a moment's light in Nature's jealousy for the Type;
but that too vanishes.

    "'So careful of the type?' but no.
      From scarpèd cliff and quarried stone
      She cries, 'A thousand types are gone:
    I care for nothing, all shall go.'"

All shall go? No, one Type remains. "Whom He did foreknow He also did
predestinate to be conformed to the Image of His Son." And "when Christ
who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in


[85] "There is, indeed, a period in the development of every tissue and
every living thing known to us when there are actually no _structural_
peculiarities whatever--when the whole organism consists of transparent,
structureless, semi-fluid living bioplasm--when it would not be possible
to distinguish the growing moving matter which was to evolve the oak
from that which was the germ of a vertebrate animal. Nor can any
difference be discerned between the bioplasm matter of the lowest,
simplest, epithelial scale of man's organism and that from which the
nerve cells of his brain are to be evolved. Neither by studying bioplasm
under the microscope nor by any kind of physical or chemical
investigation known, can we form any notion of the nature of the
substance which is to be formed by the bioplasm, or what will be the
ordinary results of the living."--"Bioplasm," Lionel S. Beale, F.R.S.,
pp. 17, 18.

[86] Huxley: "Lay Sermons," 6th Ed., pp. 127, 129.

[87] Huxley: "Lay Sermons," 6th Ed., p. 261.

[88] "Origin of Species," p. 166.

[89] There is no intention here to countenance the old doctrine of the
permanence of species. Whether the word species represent a fixed
quantity or the reverse does not affect the question. The facts as
stated are true in contemporary zoology if not in palæontology. It may
also be added that the general conception of a definite Vital Principle
is used here simply as a working hypothesis. Science may yet have to
give up what the Germans call the "ontogenetic directive Force." But in
the absence of any proof to the contrary, and especially of any
satisfactory alternative, we are justified in working still with the old

[90] 2 Cor. v. 17.

[91] 1 John v. 18; 1 Pet. i. 3.

[92] Col. iii. 9, 10.

[93] 2 Cor. iii. 18.

[94] Rom. viii. 29.


    "The Situation that has not its Duty, its Ideal, was never yet
    occupied by man. Yes, here, in this poor, miserable, hampered,
    despicable Actual, wherein thou even now standest, here or nowhere
    is thy Ideal: work it out therefrom; and working, believe, live, be

    "Work out your own salvation."--_Paul._

    "Any new set of conditions occurring to an animal which render its
    food and safety very easily attained, seem to lead as a rule to
    degeneration."--_E. Ray Lankester._

Parasites are the paupers of Nature. They are forms of life which will
not take the trouble to find their own food, but borrow or steal it from
the more industrious. So deep-rooted is this tendency in Nature, that
plants may become parasitic--it is an acquired habit--as well as
animals; and both are found in every state of beggary, some doing a
little for themselves, while others, more abject, refuse even to prepare
their own food.

There are certain plants--the Dodder, for instance--which begin life
with the best intentions, strike true roots into the soil, and really
appear as if they meant to be independent for life. But after supporting
themselves for a brief period they fix curious sucking discs into the
stem and branches of adjacent plants. And after a little experimenting,
the epiphyte finally ceases to do anything for its own support,
thenceforth drawing all its supplies ready-made from the sap of its
host. In this parasitic state it has no need for organs of nutrition of
its own, and Nature therefore takes them away. Henceforth, to the
botanist, the adult Dodder presents the degraded spectacle of a plant
without a root, without a twig, without a leaf, and having a stem so
useless as to be inadequate to bear its own weight.

In the Mistletoe the parasitic habit has reached a stage in some
respects lower still. It has persisted in the downward course for so
many generations that the young forms even have acquired the habit and
usually begin life at once as parasites. The Mistletoe berries, which
contain the seed of the future plant, are developed especially to
minister to this degeneracy, for they glue themselves to the branches of
some neighboring oak or apple, and there the young Mistletoe starts as a
dependent from the first.

Among animals these _lazzaroni_ are more largely represented still.
Almost every animal is a living poor-house, and harbors one or more
species of _epizoa_ or _entozoa_, supplying them gratis, not only with a
permanent home, but with all the necessaries and luxuries of life.

Why does the naturalist think hardly of the parasites? Why does he speak
of them as degraded, and despise them as the most ignoble creatures in
Nature? What more can an animal do than eat, drink, and die to-morrow?
If under the fostering care and protection of a higher organism it can
eat better, drink more easily, live more merrily, and die, perhaps, not
till the day after, why should it not do so? Is parasitism, after all,
not a somewhat clever _ruse_? Is it not an ingenious way of securing the
benefits of life while evading its responsibilities? And although this
mode of livelihood is selfish, and possibly undignified, can it be said
that it is immoral?

The naturalist's reply to this is brief. Parasitism, he will say, is one
of the gravest crimes in Nature. It is a breach of the law of Evolution.
Thou shalt evolve, thou shalt develop all thy faculties to the full,
thou shalt attain to the highest conceivable perfection of thy race--and
so perfect thy race--this is the first and greatest commandment of
nature. But the parasite has no thought for its race, or for perfection
in any shape or form. It wants two things--food and shelter. How it gets
them is of no moment. Each member lives exclusively on its own account,
an isolated, indolent, selfish, and backsliding life.

The remarkable thing is that Nature permits the community to be taxed in
this way apparently without protest. For the parasite is a consumer pure
and simple. And the "Perfect Economy of Nature" is surely for once at
fault when it encourages species numbered by thousands which produce
nothing for their own or for the general good, but live, and live
luxuriously, at the expense of others?

Now when we look into the matter, we very soon perceive that instead of
secretly countenancing this ingenious device by which parasitic animals
and plants evade the great law of the Struggle for Life, Nature sets her
face most sternly against it. And, instead of allowing the transgressors
to slip through her fingers, as one might at first suppose, she visits
upon them the most severe and terrible penalties. The parasite, she
argues, not only injures itself, but wrongs others. It disobeys the
fundamental law of its own being, and taxes the innocent to contribute
to its disgrace. So that if Nature is just, if Nature has an avenging
hand, if she holds one vial of wrath more full and bitter than another,
it shall surely be poured out upon those who are guilty of this double
sin. Let us see what form this punishment takes.

Observant visitors to the sea-side, or let us say to an aquarium, are
familiar with those curious little creatures known as Hermit-crabs. The
peculiarity of the Hermits is that they take up their abode in the
cast-off shell of some other animal, not unusually the whelk; and here,
like Diogenes in his tub, the creature lives a solitary, but by no means
an inactive life.

The _Pagurus_, however, is not a parasite. And yet although in no sense
of the word a parasite, this way of inhabiting throughout life a house
built by another animal approaches so closely the parasitic habit, that
we shall find it instructive as a preliminary illustration, to consider
the effect of this free-house policy on the occupant. There is no
doubt, to begin with, that, as has been already indicated, the habit is
an acquired one. In its general anatomy the Hermit is essentially a
crab. Now the crab is an animal which, from the nature of its
environment, has to lead a somewhat rough and perilous life. Its days
are spent among jagged rocks and boulders. Dashed about by every wave,
attacked on every side by monsters of the deep, the crustacean has to
protect itself by developing a strong and serviceable coat of mail.

How best to protect themselves has been the problem to which the whole
crab family have addressed themselves; and, in considering the matter,
the ancestors of the Hermit-crab hit on the happy device of re-utilizing
the habitations of the molluscs which lay around them in plenty,
well-built, and ready for immediate occupation. For generations and
generations accordingly, the Hermit-crab has ceased to exercise itself
upon questions of safety, and dwells in its little shell as proudly and
securely as if its second-hand house were a fortress erected especially
for its private use.

Wherein, then, has the Hermit suffered for this cheap, but real solution
of a practical difficulty? Whether its laziness costs it any moral
qualms, or whether its cleverness becomes to it a source of
congratulation, we do not know; but judged from the appearance the
animal makes under the searching gaze of the zoologist, its expedient is
certainly not one to be commended. To the eye of Science its sin is
written in the plainest characters on its very organization. It has
suffered in its own anatomical structure just by as much as it has
borrowed from an external source. Instead of being a perfect crustacean
it has allowed certain important parts of its body to deteriorate. And
several vital organs are partially or wholly atrophied.

Its sphere of life also is now seriously limited; and by a cheap
expedient to secure safety, it has fatally lost its independence. It is
plain from its anatomy that the Hermit-crab was not always a
Hermit-crab. It was meant for higher things. Its ancestors doubtless
were more or less perfect crustaceans, though what exact stage of
development was reached before the hermit habit became fixed in the
species we cannot tell. But from the moment the creature took to relying
on an external source, it began to fall. It slowly lost in its own
person all that it now draws from external aid.

As an important item in the day's work, namely, the securing of safety
and shelter, was now guaranteed to it, one of the chief inducements to a
life of high and vigilant effort was at the same time withdrawn. A
number of functions, in fact, struck work. The whole of the parts,
therefore, of the complex organism which ministered to these functions,
from lack of exercise, or total disuse, became gradually feeble; and
ultimately, by the stern law that an unused organ must suffer a slow but
inevitable atrophy, the creature not only lost all power of motion in
these parts, but lost the parts themselves, and otherwise sank into a
relatively degenerate condition.

Every normal crustacean, on the other hand, has the abdominal region of
the body covered by a thick chitinous shell. In the Hermits this is
represented only by a thin and delicate membrane--of which the sorry
figure the creature cuts when drawn from its foreign hiding-place is
sufficient evidence. Any one who now examines further this half-naked
and woe-begone object, will perceive also that the fourth and fifth pair
of limbs are either so small and wasted as to be quite useless or
altogether rudimentary; and, although certainly the additional
development of the extremity of the tail into an organ for holding on to
its extemporized retreat may be regarded as a slight compensation, it is
clear from the whole structure of the animal that it has allowed itself
to undergo severe Degeneration.

In dealing with the Hermit-crab, in short, we are dealing with a case of
physiological backsliding. That the creature has lost anything by this
process from a practical point of view is not now argued. It might
fairly be shown, as already indicated, that its freedom is impaired by
its cumbrous exoskeleton, and that, in contrast with other crabs, who
lead a free and roving life, its independence generally is greatly
limited. But from the physiological standpoint, there is no question
that the Hermit tribe have neither discharged their responsibilities to
Nature nor to themselves. If the end of life is merely to escape death,
and serve themselves, possibly they have done well; but if it is to
attain an ever increasing perfection, then are they backsliders indeed.

A zoologist's verdict would be that by this act they have forfeited to
some extent their place in the animal scale. An animal is classed as a
low or high according as it is adapted to less or more complex
conditions of life. This is the true standpoint from which to judge all
living organisms. Were perfection merely a matter of continual eating
and drinking, the Amœba--the lowest known organism--might take rank with
the highest, Man, for the one nourishes itself and saves its skin almost
as completely as the other. But judged by the higher standard of
Complexity, that is, by greater or lesser adaption to more or less
complex conditions, the gulf between them is infinite.

We have now received a preliminary idea, although not from the study of
a true parasite, of the essential principles involved in parasitism. And
we may proceed to point out the correlative in the moral and spiritual
spheres. We confine ourselves for the present to one point. The
difference between the Hermit-crab and a true parasite is, that the
former has acquired a semi-parasitic habit only with reference to
_safety_. It may be that the Hermit devours as a preliminary the
accommodating mollusc whose tenement it covets; but it would become a
real parasite only on the supposition that the whelk was of such size as
to keep providing for it throughout life, and that the external and
internal organs of the crab should disappear, while it lived henceforth,
by simple imbibition, upon the elaborated juices of its host. All the
mollusc provides, however, for the crustacean in this instance is
safety, and, accordingly in the meantime we limit our application to
this. The true parasite presents us with an organism so much more
degraded in all its parts, that its lessons may well be reserved until
we have paved the way to understand the deeper bearings of the subject.

The spiritual principle to be illustrated in the meantime stands thus:
_Any principle which secures the safety of the individual without
personal effort or the vital exercise of faculty is disastrous to moral
character._ We do not begin by attempting to define words. Were we to
define truly what is meant by safety or salvation, we should be spared
further elaboration, and the law would stand out as a sententious
common-place. But we have to deal with the ideas of safety as these are
popularly held, and the chief purpose at this stage is to expose what
may be called the Parasitic Doctrine of Salvation. The phases of
religious experience about to be described may be unknown to many. It
remains for those who are familiar with the religious conceptions of the
masses to determine whether or not we are wasting words.

What is meant by the Parasitic Doctrine of Salvation one may, perhaps,
best explain by sketching two of its leading types. The first is the
doctrine of the Church of Rome; the second, that represented by the
narrower Evangelical Religion. We take these religions, however, not in
their ideal form, with which possibly we should have little quarrel, but
in their practical working, or in the form in which they are held
especially by the rank and file of those who belong respectively to
these communions. For the strength or weakness of any religious system
is best judged from the form in which it presents itself to, and
influences the common mind.

No more perfect or more sad example of semi-parasitism exists than in
the case of those illiterate thousands who, scattered everywhere
throughout the habitable globe, swell the lower ranks of the Church of
Rome. Had an organization been specially designed, indeed, to induce the
parasitic habit in the souls of men, nothing better fitted to its
disastrous end could be established than the system of Roman
Catholicism. Roman Catholicism offers to the masses a molluscan shell.
They have simply to shelter themselves within its pale, and they are
"safe." But what is this "safe?" It is an external safety--the safety of
an institution. It is a salvation recommended to men by all that appeals
to the motives in most common use with the vulgar and the superstitious,
but which has as little vital connection with the individual soul as the
dead whelk's shell with the living Hermit. Salvation is a relation at
once vital, personal, and spiritual. This is mechanical and purely
external. And this is of course the final secret of its marvelous
success and world-wide power. A cheap religion is the desideratum of the
human heart; and an assurance of salvation at the smallest possible cost
forms the tempting bait held out to a conscience-stricken world by the
Romish Church. Thousands, therefore, who have never been taught to use
their faculties in "working out their own salvation," thousands who will
not exercise themselves religiously, and who yet cannot be without the
exercise of religion, intrust themselves in idle faith to that venerable
house of refuge which for centuries has stood between God and man. A
Church which has harbored generations of the elect, whose archives
enshrine the names of saints whose foundations are consecrated with
martyrs' blood--shall it not afford a sure asylum still for any soul
which would make its peace with God? So, as the Hermit into the
molluscan shell, creeps the poor soul within the pale of Rome, seeking,
like Adam in the garden, to hide its nakedness from God.

Why does the true lover of men restrain not his lips in warning his
fellows against this and all other priestly religions? It is not because
he fails to see the prodigious energy of the Papal See, or to appreciate
the many noble types of Christian manhood nurtured within its pale. Nor
is it because its teachers are often corrupt and its system of doctrine
inadequate as a representation of the Truth--charges which have to be
made more or less against all religions. But it is because it ministers
falsely to the deepest need of man, reduces the end of religion to
selfishness, and offers safety without spirituality. That these,
theoretically, are its pretensions, we do not affirm; but that its
practical working is to induce in man, and in its worst forms, the
parasitic habit, is testified by results. No one who has studied the
religion of the Continent upon the spot, has failed to be impressed with
the appalling spectacle of tens of thousands of unregenerated men
sheltering themselves, as they conceive it for Eternity, behind the
Sacraments of Rome.

There is no stronger evidence of the inborn parasitic tendency in man in
things religious than the absolute complacency with which even cultured
men will hand over their eternal interests to the care of a Church. We
can never dismiss from memory the sadness with which we once listened to
the confession of a certain foreign professor: "I used to be concerned
about religion," he said in substance, "but religion is a great subject.
I was very busy; there was little time to settle it for myself. A
protestant, my attention was called to the Roman Catholic religion. It
suited my case. And instead of dabbling in religion for myself I put
myself in its hands. Once a year," he concluded, "I go to mass." These
were the words of one whose work will live in the history of his
country, one, too, who knew all about parasitism. Yet, though he thought
it not, this is parasitism in its worst and most degrading form. Nor, in
spite of its intellectual, not to say moral sin, is this an extreme or
exceptional case. It is a case, which is being duplicated every day in
our own country, only here the confessing is expressed with a candor
which is rare in company with actions betraying so signally the want of

The form of parasitism exhibited by a certain section of the narrower
Evangelical school is altogether different from that of the Church of
Rome. The parasite in this case seeks its shelter, not in a Church, but
in a Doctrine or a Creed. Let it be observed again that we are not
dealing with the Evangelical Religion, but only with one of its
parasitic forms--a form which will at once be recognized by all who know
the popular Protestantism of this country. We confine ourselves also at
present to that form which finds its encouragement in a single doctrine,
that doctrine being the Doctrine of the Atonement--let us say, rather, a
perverted form of this central truth.

The perverted Doctrine of the Atonement, which tends to beget the
parasitic habit, may be defined in a single sentence--it is very much
because it can be defined in a single sentence that it is a perversion.
Let us state it in a concrete form. It is put to the individual in the
following syllogism: "You believe Christ died for sinners; you are a
sinner; therefore Christ died for you; _and hence you are saved_." Now
what is this but another species of molluscan shell? Could any trap for
a benighted soul be more ingeniously planned? It is not superstition
that is appealed to this time; it is reason. The agitated soul is
invited to creep into the convolutions of a syllogism, and entrench
itself behind a Doctrine more venerable even than the Church. But words
are mere chitin. Doctrines may have no more vital contact with the soul
than priest or sacrament, no further influence on life and character
than stone and lime. And yet the apostles of parasitism pick a
blackguard from the streets, pass him through this plausible formula,
and turn him out a convert in the space of as many minutes as it takes
to tell it.

The zeal of these men, assuredly, is not to be questioned: their
instincts are right, and their work is often not in vain. It is
possible, too, up to a certain point, to defend this Salvation by
Formula. Are these not the very words of Scripture? Did not Christ
Himself say, "It is finished?" And is it not written, "By grace are ye
saved through faith," "Not of works, lest any man should boast," and "He
that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life?" To which, however,
one might also answer in the words of Scripture, "The Devils also
believe," and "Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of
God." But without seeming to make text refute text, let us ask rather
what the supposed convert possesses at the end of the process. That
Christ saves sinners, even blackguards from the streets, is a great
fact; and that the simple words of the street evangelist do sometimes
bring this home to man with convincing power is also a fact. But in
ordinary circumstances, when the inquirer's mind is rapidly urged
through the various stages of the above piece of logic, he is left to
face the future and blot out the past with a formula of words.

To be sure these words may already convey a germ of truth, they may yet
be filled in with a wealth of meaning and become a life-long power. But
we would state the case against Salvation by Formula with ignorant and
unwarranted clemency did we for a moment convey the idea that this is
always the actual result. The doctrine plays too well into the hands of
the parasitic tendency to make it possible that in more than a minority
of cases the result is anything but disastrous. And it is disastrous not
in that, sooner or later, after losing half their lives, those who rely
on the naked syllogism come to see their mistake, but in that thousands
never come to see it all. Are there not men who can prove to you and to
the world, by the irresistible logic of texts, that they are saved, whom
you know to be not only unworthy of the Kingdom of God--which we all
are--but absolutely incapable of entering it? The condition of
membership in the Kingdom of God is well known; who fulfill this
condition and who do not, is not well known. And yet the moral test, in
spite of the difficulty of its applications, will always, and rightly,
be preferred by the world to the theological. Nevertheless, in spite of
the world's verdict, the parasite is content. He is "safe." Years ago
his mind worked through a certain chain of phrases in which the words
"believe" and "saved" were the conspicuous terms. And from that moment,
by all Scriptures, by all logic, and by all theology, his future was
guaranteed. He took out, in short, an insurance policy, by which he was
infallibly secured eternal life at death. This is not a matter to make
light of. We wish we were caricaturing instead of representing things as
they are. But we carry with us all who intimately know the spiritual
condition of the Narrow Church in asserting that in some cases at least
its members have nothing more to show for their religion than a formula,
a syllogism, a cant phrase or an experience of some kind which happened
long ago, and which men told them at the time was called Salvation. Need
we proceed to formulate objections to the parasitism of Evangelicism?
Between it and the Religion of the Church of Rome there is an affinity
as real as it is unsuspected. For one thing these religions are
spiritually disastrous as well as theologically erroneous in propagating
a false conception of Christianity. The fundamental idea alike of the
extreme Roman Catholic and extreme Evangelical Religions is Escape.
Man's chief end is to "get off." And all factors in religion, the
highest and most sacred, are degraded to this level. God, for example,
is a Great Lawyer. Or He is the Almighty Enemy; it is from Him we have
to "get off." Jesus Christ is the One who gets us off--a theological
figure who contrives so to adjust matters federally that the way is
clear. The Church in the one instance is a kind of conveyancing office
where the transaction is duly concluded, each party accepting the
others' terms; in the other case, a species of sheep-pen where the flock
awaits impatiently and indolently the final consummation. Generally, the
means are mistaken for the end, and the opening-up of the possibility of
spiritual growth becomes the signal to stop growing.

Second, these being cheap religions, are inevitably accompanied by a
cheap life. Safety being guaranteed from the first, there remains
nothing else to be done. The mechanical way in which the transaction is
effected, leaves the soul without stimulus, and the character remains
untouched by the moral aspects of the sacrifice of Christ. He who is
unjust is unjust still; he who is unholy is unholy still. Thus the whole
scheme ministers to the Degeneration of Organs. For here, again, by just
as much as the organism borrows mechanically from an external source, by
so much exactly does it lose in its own organization. Whatever rest is
provided by Christianity for the children of God, it is certainly never
contemplated that it should supersede personal effort. And any rest
which ministers to indifference is immoral and unreal--it makes
parasites and not men. Just because God worketh in him, as the evidence
and triumph of it, the true child of God works out his own
salvation--works it out having really received it--not as a light thing,
a superfluous labor, but with fear and trembling as a reasonable and
indispensable service.

If it be asked, then, shall the parasite be saved or shall he not, the
answer is that the idea of salvation conveyed by the question makes a
reply all but hopeless. But if by salvation is meant, a trusting in
Christ _in order to likeness to Christ_, in order to that _holiness_
without which no man shall see the Lord, the reply is that the
parasite's hope is absolutely vain. So far from ministering to growth,
parasitism ministers to decay. So far from ministering to holiness, that
is to _wholeness_, parasitism ministers to exactly the opposite. One by
one the spiritual faculties droop and die, one by one from lack of
exercise the muscles of the soul grow weak and flaccid, one by one the
moral activities cease. So from him that hath not, is taken away that
which he hath, and after a few years of parasitism there is nothing left
to save.

If our meaning up to this point has been sufficiently obscure to make
the objection now possible that this protest against Parasitism is
opposed to the doctrines of Free Grace, we cannot hope in a closing
sentence to free the argument from a suspicion so ill-judged. The
adjustment between Faith and Works does not fall within our province
now. Salvation truly is the free gift of God, but he who really knows
how much this means knows--and just because it means so much--how much
of consequent action it involves. With the central doctrines of grace
the whole scientific argument is in too wonderful harmony to be found
wanting here. The natural life, not less than the eternal, is the gift
of God. But life in either case is the beginning of growth and not the
end of grace. To pause where we should begin, to retrograde where we
should advance, to seek a mechanical security that we may cover inertia
and find a wholesale salvation in which there is no personal
sanctification--this is Parasitism.


                      "And so I live, you see,
        Go through the world, try, prove, reject,
        Prefer, still struggling to effect
        My warfare; happy that I can
        Be crossed and thwarted as a man,
        Not left in God's contempt apart,
        With ghastly smooth life, dead at heart,
        Tame in earth's paddock as her prize.
        ...     ...     ...     ...     ...
        Thank God, no paradise stands barred
        To entry, and I find it hard
        To be a Christian, as I said."--_Browning._

    "Work out your own salvation."--_Paul._

    "Be no longer a chaos, but a World, or even Worldkin. Produce!
    Produce! Were it but the pitifullest infinitesimal fraction of a
    Product, produce it, in God's name!"--_Carlyle._

From a study of the habits and organization of the family of
Hermit-crabs we have already gained some insight into the nature and
effects of parasitism. But the Hermit-crab, be it remembered, is in no
real sense a parasite. And before we can apply the general principle
further we must address ourselves briefly to the examination of a true
case of parasitism.

We have not far to seek. Within the body of the Hermit-crab a minute
organism may frequently be discovered resembling, when magnified, a
miniature kidney-bean. A bunch of root-like processes hangs from one
side, and the extremities of these are seen to ramify in delicate films
through the living tissues of the crab. This simple organism is known to
the naturalist as a Sacculina; and though a full-grown animal, it
consists of no more parts than those just named. Not a trace of
structure is to be detected within this rude and all but inanimate
frame; it possesses neither legs, nor eyes, nor mouth, nor throat, nor
stomach, nor any other organs, external or internal. This Sacculina is a
typical parasite. By means of its twining and theftuous roots it imbibes
automatically its nourishment ready-prepared from the body of the crab.
It boards indeed entirely at the expense of its host, who supplies it
liberally with food and shelter and everything else it wants. So far as
the result to itself is concerned this arrangement may seem at first
sight satisfactory enough; but when we inquire into the life history of
this small creature we unearth a career of degeneracy all but
unparalleled in nature.

The most certain clue to what nature meant any animal to become is to be
learned from its embryology. Let us, therefore, examine for a moment the
earliest positive stage in the development of the Sacculina. When the
embryo first makes its appearance it bears not the remotest resemblance
to the adult animal. A different name even is given to it by the
biologist, who knows it at this period as a Nauplius. This minute
organism has an oval body, supplied with six well-jointed feet by means
of which it paddles briskly through the water. For a time it leads an
active and independent life, industriously securing its own food and
escaping enemies by its own gallantry. But soon a change takes place.
The hereditary taint of parasitism is in its blood, and it proceeds to
adapt itself to the pauper habits of its race. The tiny body first
doubles in upon itself, and from the two front limbs elongated filaments
protrude. Its four hind limbs entirely disappear, and twelve
short-forked swimming organs temporarily take their place. Thus
strangely metamorphosed the Sacculina sets out in search of a suitable
host, and in an evil hour, by that fate which is always ready to
accommodate the transgressor, is thrown into the company of the
Hermit-crab. With its two filamentary processes--which afterward develop
into the root-like organs--it penetrates the body; the sac-like form is
gradually assumed; the whole of the swimming feet drop off--they will
never be needed again--and the animal settles down for the rest of its
life as a parasite.

One reason which makes a zoologist certain that the Sacculina is a
degenerate type is, that in almost all other instances of animals which
begin life in the Nauplius-form--and there are several--the Nauplius
develops through higher and higher stages, and arrives finally at the
high perfection displayed by the shrimp, lobster, crab, and other
crustaceans. But instead of rising to its opportunities, the sacculine
Nauplius having reached a certain point turned back. It shrunk from the
struggle for life, and beginning probably by seeking shelter from its
host went on to demand its food; and so falling from bad to worse,
became in time an entire dependant.

In the eyes of Nature this was a twofold crime. It was first a disregard
of evolution, and second, which is practically the same thing, an
evasion of the great law of work. And the revenge of Nature was
therefore necessary. It could not help punishing the Sacculina for
violated law, and the punishment, according to the strange and
noteworthy way in which Nature usually punishes, was meted but by
natural processes, carried on within its own organization. Its
punishment was simply that it was a Sacculina--that it was a Sacculina
when it might have been a Crustacean. Instead of being a free and
independent organism high in structure, original in action, vital with
energy, it deteriorated into a torpid and all but amorphous sac confined
to perpetual imprisonment and doomed to a living death. "Any new set of
conditions," says Ray Lankester, "occurring to an animal which render
its food and safety very easily attained, seem to lead as a rule to
degeneration; just as an active healthy man sometimes degenerates when
he becomes suddenly possessed of a fortune; or as Rome degenerated when
possessed of the riches of the ancient world. The habit of parasitism
clearly acts upon animal organization in this way. Let the parasitic
life once be secured, and away go legs, jaws, eyes, and ears; the
active, highly-gifted crab, insect or annelid may become a mere sac,
absorbing nourishment and laying eggs."[95]

There could be no more impressive illustration than this of what with
entire appropriateness one might call "the physiology of backsliding."
We fail to appreciate the meaning of spiritual degeneration or detect
the terrible nature of the consequences only because they evade the eye
of sense. But could we investigate the spirit as a living organism, or
study the soul of the backslider on principles of comparative anatomy,
we should have a revelation of the organic effects of sin, even of the
mere sin of carelessness as to growth and work, which must revolutionize
our ideas of practical religion. There is no room for the doubt even
that what goes on in the body does not with equal certainty take place
in the spirit under the corresponding conditions.

The penalty of backsliding is not something unreal and vague, some
unknown quantity which may be measured out to us disproportionately, or
which perchance, since God is good, we may altogether evade. The
consequences are already marked within the structure of the soul. So to
speak, they are physiological. The thing affected by our indifference or
by our indulgence is not the book of final judgment but the present
fabric of the soul. The punishment of degeneration is simply
degeneration--the loss of functions, the decay of organs, the atrophy of
the spiritual nature. It is well known that the recovery of the
backslider is one of the hardest problems in spiritual work. To
reinvigorate an old organ seems more difficult and hopeless than to
develop a new one; and the backslider's terrible lot is to have to
retrace with enfeebled feet each step of the way along which he strayed;
to make up inch by inch the lee-way he has lost, carrying with him a
dead-weight of acquired reluctance, and scarce knowing whether to be
stimulated or discouraged by the oppressive memory of the previous fall.

We are not, however, to discuss at present the physiology of
backsliding. Nor need we point out at greater length that parasitism is
always and indissolubly accompanied by degeneration. We wish rather to
examine one or two leading tendencies of the modern religious life which
directly or indirectly induce the parasitic habit and bring upon
thousands of unsuspecting victims such secret and appalling penalties as
have been named.

Two main causes are known to the biologist as tending to induce the
parasitic habit. These are, first, the temptation to secure safety
without the vital exercise of faculties, and, second, the disposition to
find food without earning it. The first, which we have formally
considered, is probably the preliminary stage in most cases. The animal,
seeking shelter, finds unexpectedly that it can also thereby gain a
certain measure of food. Compelled in the first instance, perhaps by
stress of circumstances, to rob its host of a meal or perish, it
gradually acquires the habit of drawing all its supplies from the same
source, and thus becomes in time a confirmed parasite. Whatever be its
origin, however, it is certain that the main evil of parasitism is
connected with the further question of food. Mere safety with Nature is
a secondary, though by no means an insignificant, consideration. And
while the organism forfeits a part of its organization by any method of
evading enemies which demands no personal effort, the most entire
degeneration of the whole system follows the neglect or abuse of the
functions of nutrition.

The direction in which we have to seek the wider application of the
subject will now appear. We have to look into those cases in the moral
and spiritual sphere in which the functions of nutrition are either
neglected or abused. To sustain life, physical, mental, moral, or
spiritual, some sort of food is essential. To secure an adequate supply
each organism also is provided with special and appropriate faculties.
But the final gain to the organism does not depend so much on the
actual amount of food procured as on the exercise required to obtain it.
In one sense the exercise is only a means to an end, namely, the finding
food; but in another and equally real sense, the exercise is the end,
the food the means to attain that. Neither is of permanent use without
the other, but the correlation between them is so intimate that it were
idle to say that one is more necessary than the other. Without food
exercise is impossible, but without exercise food is useless.

Thus exercise is in order to food, and food is in order to exercise--in
order especially to that further progress and maturity which only
ceaseless activity can promote. Now food too easily acquired means food
without that accompaniment of discipline which is infinitely more
valuable than the food itself. It means the possibility of a life which
is a mere existence. It leaves the organism _in statu quo_, undeveloped,
immature, low in the scale of organization and with a growing tendency
to pass from the state of equilibrium to that of increasing
degeneration. What an organism is depends upon what it does; its
activities make it. And if the stimulus to the exercise of all the
innumerable faculties concerned in nutrition be withdrawn by the
conditions and circumstances of life becoming, or being made to become,
too easy, there is first an arrest of development, and finally a loss of
the parts themselves. If, in short, an organism does nothing, in that
relation it is nothing.

We may, therefore, formulate the general principle thus: _Any principle
which secures food to the individual without the expenditure of work is
injurious, and accompanied by the degeneration and loss of parts._

The social and political analogies of this law, which have been casually
referred to already, are sufficiently familiar to render any further
development in these directions superfluous. After the eloquent
preaching of the Gospel of Work by Thomas Carlyle, this century at least
can never plead that one of the most important moral bearings of the
subject has not been duly impressed upon it. All that can be said of
idleness generally might be fitly urged in support of this great
practical truth. All nations which have prematurely passed away, buried
in graves dug by their own effeminacy; all those individuals who have
secured a hasty wealth by the chances of speculation; all children of
fortune; all victims of inheritance; all social sponges; all satellites
of the court; all beggars of the market-place--all these are living and
unlying witness to the unalterable retributions of the law of
parasitism. But it is when we come to study the working of the principle
in the religious sphere there we discover the full extent of the ravages
which the parasitic habit can make on the souls of men. We can only hope
to indicate here one or two of the things in modern Christianity which
minister most subtly and widely to this as yet all but unnamed sin.

We begin in what may seem a somewhat unlooked-for quarter. One of the
things in the religious world which tends most strongly to induce the
parasitic habit is _Going to Church_. Church-going itself every
Christian will rightly consider an invaluable aid to the ripe
development of the spiritual life. Public worship has a place in the
national religious life so firmly established that nothing is ever
likely to shake its influence. So supreme indeed, is the ecclesiastical
system in all Christian countries that with thousands the religion of
the Church and the religion of the individual are one. But just because
of its high and unique place in religious regard, does it become men
from time to time to inquire how far the Church is really ministering to
the spiritual health of the immense religious community which looks to
it as its foster-mother. And if it falls to us here reluctantly to
expose some secret abuses of this venerable system, let it be well
understood that these are abuses, and not that the sacred institution
itself is being violated by the attack of an impious hand.

The danger of church-going largely depends on the form of worship, but
it may be affirmed that even the most perfect Church affords to all
worshipers a greater or less temptation to parasitism. It consists
essentially in the deputy-work or deputy-worship inseparable from the
church or chapel ministrations. One man is set apart to prepare a
certain amount of spiritual truth for the rest. He, if he is a true man,
gets all the benefits of original work. He finds the truth, digests it,
is nourished and enriched by it before he offers it to his flock. To a
large extent it will nourish and enrich in turn a number of his hearers.
But still they will lack something. The faculty of selecting truth at
first hand and appropriating it for one's self is a lawful possession to
every Christian. Rightly exercised it conveys to him truth in its
freshest form; it offers him the opportunity of verifying doctrines for
himself; it makes religion personal; it deepens and intensifies the only
convictions that are worth deepening, those, namely, which are honest;
and it supplies the mind with a basis of certainty in religion. But if
all one's truth is derived by imbibition from the Church, the faculties
for receiving truth are not only undeveloped but one's whole view of
truth becomes distorted. He who abandons the personal search for truth,
under whatever pretext, abandons truth. The very word truth, by becoming
the limited possession of a guild, ceases to have any meaning; and
faith, which can only be founded on truth, gives way to credulity,
resting on mere opinion.

In those churches especially where all parts of the worship are
subordinated to the sermon, this species of parasitism is peculiarly
encouraged. What is meant to be a stimulus to thought becomes the
substitute for it. The hearer never really learns, he only listens. And
while truth and knowledge seem to increase, life and character are left
in arrear. Such truth, of course, and such knowledge, are a mere
seeming. Having cost nothing, they come to nothing. The organism
acquires a growing immobility, and finally exists in a state of entire
intellectual helplessness and inertia. So the parasitic Church-member,
the literal "adherent," comes not merely to live only within the circle
of ideas of his minister, but to be content that his minister has these
ideas--like the literary parasite who fancies he knows everything
because he has a good library.

Where the worship, again, is largely liturgical the danger assumes an
even more serious form, and it acts in some such way as this. Every
sincere man who sets out in the Christian race begins by attempting to
exercise the spiritual faculties for himself. The young life throbs in
his veins, and he sets himself to the further progress with earnest
purpose and resolute will. For a time he bids fair to attain a high and
original development. But the temptation to relax the always difficult
effort at spirituality is greater than he knows. The "carnal mind"
itself is "enmity against God," and the antipathy, or the deadlier
apathy within, is unexpectedly encouraged from that very outside source
from which he anticipates the greatest help. Connecting himself with a
Church he is no less interested than surprised to find how rich is the
provision there for every part of his spiritual nature. Each service
satisfies or surfeits. Twice, or even three times a week, this feast is
spread for him. The thoughts are deeper than his own, the faith keener,
the worship loftier, the whole ritual more reverent and splendid. What
more natural than that he should gradually exchange his personal
religion for that of the congregation? What more likely than that a
public religion should by insensible stages supplant his individual
faith? What more simple than to content himself with the warmth of
another's soul. What more tempting than to give up private prayer for
the easier worship of the liturgy or of the church? What, in short, more
natural than for the independent, free-moving, growing Sacculina to
degenerate into the listless, useless, pampered parasite of the pew? The
very means he takes to nurse his personal religion often come in time
to wean him from it. Hanging admiringly, or even enthusiastically, on
the lips of eloquence, his senses now stirred by ceremony, now soothed
by music, the parasite of the pew enjoys his weekly worship--his
character untouched, his will unbraced, his crude soul unquickened and
unimproved. Thus, instead of ministering to the growth of individual
members, and very often just in proportion to the superior excellence of
the provision made for them by another, does this gigantic system of
deputy-nutrition tend to destroy development and arrest the genuine
culture of the soul. Our churches overflow with members who are mere
consumers. Their interest in religion is purely parasitic. Their only
spiritual exercise is the automatic one of imbibition, the clergyman
being the faithful Hermit-crab who is to be depended on every Sunday for
at least a week's supply.

A physiologist would describe the organism resulting from such a
progress as a case of "arrested development." Instead of having learned
to pray, the ecclesiastical parasite becomes satisfied with being prayed
for. His transactions with the Eternal are effected by commission. His
work for Christ is done by a paid deputy. His whole life is a prolonged
indulgence in the bounties of the Church; and surely--in some cases at
least the crowning irony--he sends for the minister when he lies down to

Other signs and consequences of this species of parasitism soon become
very apparent. The first symptom is idleness. When a Church is off its
true diet it is off its true work. Hence one explanation of the hundreds
of large and influential congregations ministered to from week to week
by men of eminent learning and earnestness, which yet do little or
nothing in the line of these special activities for which all churches
exist. An outstanding man at the head of a huge, useless and torpid
congregation is always a puzzle. But is the reason not this, that the
congregation gets too good food too cheap? Providence has mercifully
delivered the Church from too many great men in her pulpits, but there
are enough in every country-side to play the host disastrously to a
large circle of otherwise able-bodied Christian people, who, thrown on
their own resources, might fatten themselves and help others. There are
compensations to a flock for a poor minister after all. Where the fare
is indifferent those who are really hungry will exert themselves to
procure their own supply.

That the Church has indispensable functions to discharge to the
individual is not denied; but taking into consideration the universal
tendency to parasitism in the human soul it is a grave question whether
in some cases it does not really effect more harm than good. A dead
church certainly, a church having no reaction on the community, a church
without propagative power in the world, cannot be other than a calamity
to all within its borders. Such a church is an institution, first for
making, then for screening parasites; and instead of representing to the
world the Kingdom of God on earth, it is despised alike by godly and by
godless men as the refuge for fear and formalism and the nursery of

And this suggests a second and not less practical evil of a parasitic
piety--that it presents to the world a false conception of the religion
of Christ. One notices with a frequency which may well excite alarm that
the children of church-going parents often break away as they grow in
intelligence, not only from church-connection but from the whole system
of family religion. In some cases this is doubtless due to natural
perversity, but in others it certainly arises from the hollowness of the
outward forms which pass current in society and at home for vital
Christianity. These spurious forms, fortunately or unfortunately, soon
betray themselves. How little there is in them becomes gradually
apparent. And rather than indulge in a sham the budding sceptic, as the
first step, parts with the form and in nine cases out of ten concerns
himself no further to find a substitute. Quite deliberately, quite
honestly, sometimes with real regret and even at personal sacrifice he
takes up his position, and to his parent's sorrow and his church's
dishonor forsakes forever the faith and religion of his fathers. Who
will deny that this is a true account of the natural history of much
modern scepticism? A formal religion can never hold its own in the
nineteenth century. It is better that it should not. We must either be
real or cease to be. We must either give up our Parasitism or our sons.

Any one who will take the trouble to investigate a number of cases where
whole families of outwardly godly parents have gone astray, will
probably find that the household religion had either some palpable
defect, or belonged essentially to the parasitic order. The popular
belief that the sons of clergymen turn out worse than those of the laity
is, of course, without foundation; but it may also probably be verified
that in the instances where clergymen's sons notoriously discredit their
father's ministry, that ministry in a majority of cases, will be found
to be professional and theological rather than human and spiritual.
Sequences in the moral and spiritual world follow more closely than we
yet discern the great law of Heredity. The Parasite begets the
Parasite--only in the second generation the offspring are sometimes
sufficiently wise to make the discovery, and honest enough to proclaim

We now pass on to the consideration of another form of Parasitism which
though closely related to that just discussed, is of sufficient
importance to justify a separate reference. Appealing to a somewhat
smaller circle, but affecting it not less disastrously, is the
Parasitism induced by certain abuses of _Systems of Theology_.

In its own place, of course, Theology is no more to be dispensed with
than the Church. In every perfect religious system three great
departments must always be represented--criticism, dogmatism, and
evangelism. Without the first there is no guarantee of truth, without
the second no defence of truth, and without the third no propagation of
truth. But when these departments become mixed up, when their separate
functions are forgotten, when one is made to do duty for another, or
where either is developed by the church or the individual at the expense
of the rest, the result is fatal. The particular abuse, however, of
which we have now to speak, concerns the tendency in orthodox
communities, first to exalt orthodoxy above all other elements in
religion, and secondly to make the possession of sound beliefs
equivalent to the possession of truth.

Doctrinal preaching, fortunately, as a constant practice is less in
vogue than in a former age, but there are still large numbers whose only
contact with religion is through theological forms. The method is
supported by a plausible defence. What is doctrine but a compressed form
of truth, systematized by able and pious men, and sanctioned by the
imprimatur of the Church? If the greatest minds of the Church's past,
having exercised themselves profoundly upon the problems of religion,
formulated as with one voice a system of doctrine, why should the humble
inquirer not gratefully accept it? Why go over the ground again? Why
with his dim light should he betake himself afresh to Bible study and
with so great a body of divinity already compiled, presume himself to be
still a seeker after truth? Does not Theology give him Bible truth in
reliable, convenient, and moreover, in logical propositions? There it
lies extended to the last detail in the tomes of the Fathers, or
abridged in a hundred modern compendia, ready-made to his hand, all cut
and dry, guaranteed sound and wholesome, why not use it?

Just because it is all cut and dry. Just because it is ready-made. Just
because it lies there in reliable, convenient and logical propositions.
The moment you appropriate truth in such a shape you appropriate a
form. You cannot cut and dry truth. You cannot accept truth ready-made
without it ceasing to nourish the soul as the truth. You cannot live on
theological forms without becoming a Parasite and ceasing to be a man.

There is no worse enemy to a living Church than a propositional
theology, with the latter controlling the former by traditional
authority. For one does not then receive the truth for himself, he
accepts it bodily. He begins the Christian life set up by his Church
with a stock-in-trade which has cost him nothing, and which, though it
may serve him all his life, is just exactly worth as much his belief in
his Church. This possession of truth, moreover, thus lightly won, is
given to him as infallible. It is a system. There is nothing to add to
it. At his peril let him question or take from it. To start a convert in
life with such a principle is unspeakably degrading. All through life
instead of working toward truth he must work from it. An infallible
standard is a temptation to a mechanical faith. Infallibility always
paralyzes. It gives rest; but it is the rest of stagnation. Men perform
one great act of faith at the beginning of their life, then have done
with it forever. All moral, intellectual and spiritual effort is over;
and a cheap theology ends in a cheap life.

The same thing that makes men take refuge in the Church of Rome makes
them take refuge in a set of dogmas. Infallibility meets the deepest
desire of man, but meets it in the most fatal form. Men deal with the
hunger after truth in two ways. First by Unbelief--which crushes it by
blind force; or, secondly, by resorting to some external source credited
with Infallibility--which lulls it to sleep by blind faith. The effect
of a doctrinal theology is the effect of Infallibility. And the
wholesale belief in such a system, however accurate it may be--grant
even that it were infallible--is not Faith though it always gets that
name. It is mere Credulity. It is a complacent and idle rest upon
authority, not a hard-earned, self-obtained, personal possession. The
moral responsibility here, besides, is reduced to nothing. Those who
framed the Thirty-nine Articles or the Westminster Confession are
responsible. And anything which destroys responsibility, or transfers
it, cannot be other than injurious in its moral tendency and useless in

It may be objected perhaps that this statement of the paralysis
spiritual and mental induced by Infallibility applies also to the Bible.
The answer is that though the Bible is infallible, the Infallibility is
not in such a form as to become a temptation. There is the widest
possible difference between the form of truth in the Bible and the form
in theology.

In theology truth is propositional--tied up in neat parcels,
systematized, and arranged in logical order. The Trinity is an intricate
doctrinal problem. The Supreme Being is discussed in terms of
philosophy. The Atonement is a formula which is to be demonstrated like
a proposition in Euclid. And Justification is to be worked out as a
question of jurisprudence. There is no necessary connection between
these doctrines and the life of him who holds them. They make him
orthodox, not necessarily righteous. They satisfy the intellect but need
not touch the heart. It does not, in short, take a religious man to be a
theologian. It simply takes a man with fair reasoning powers. This man
happens to apply these powers to theological subjects--but in no other
sense than he might apply them to astronomy or physics. But truth in the
Bible is a fountain. It is a diffused nutriment, so diffused that no one
can put himself off with the form. It is reached not by thinking, but by
doing. It is seen, discerned, not demonstrated. It cannot be bolted
whole, but must be slowly absorbed into the system. Its vagueness to the
mere intellect, its refusal to be packed into portable phrases, its
satisfying unsatisfyingness, its vast atmosphere, its finding of us,
its mystical hold of us, these are the tokens of its infinity.

Nature never provides for man's wants in any direction, bodily, mental,
or spiritual, in such a form as that he can simply accept her gifts
automatically. She puts all the mechanical powers at his disposal--but
he must make his lever. She gives him corn, but he must grind it. She
elaborates coal, but he must dig for it. Corn is perfect, all the
products of Nature are perfect, but he has everything to do to them
before he can use them. So with truth; it is perfect, infallible. But he
cannot use it as it stands. He must work, think, separate, dissolve,
absorb, digest; and most of these he must do for himself and within
himself. If it be replied that this is exactly what theology does, we
answer it is exactly what it does not. It simply does what the
green-grocer does when he arranges his apples and plums in his shop
window. He may tell me a magnum bonum from a Victoria, or a Baldwin from
a Newtown Pippin. But he does not help me to eat it. His information is
useful, and for scientific horticulture essential. Should a sceptical
pomologist deny that there was such a thing as a Baldwin, or mistake it
for a Newtown Pippin, we should be glad to refer to him; but if we were
hungry, and an orchard were handy, we should not trouble him. Truth in
the Bible is an orchard rather than a museum. Dogmatism will be very
valuable to us when scientific necessity makes us go to the museum.
Criticism will be very useful in seeing that only fruit-bearers grow in
the orchard. But truth in the doctrinal form is not natural, proper,
assimilable food for the soul of man.

Is this a plea then for doubt? Yes, for that philosophic doubt which is
the evidence of a faculty doing its own work. It is more necessary for
us to be active than to be orthodox. To be orthodox is what we wish to
be, but we can only truly reach it by being honest, by being original,
by seeing with our own eyes, by believing with our own heart. "An idle
life," says Goethe, "is death anticipated." Better far be burned at the
stake of Public Opinion than die the living death of Parasitism. Better
an aberrant theology than a suppressed organization. Better a little
faith dearly won, better launched alone on the infinite bewilderment of
Truth, than perish on the splendid plenty of the richest creeds. Such
Doubt is no self-willed presumption. Nor, truly exercised, will it prove
itself, as much doubt does, the synonym for sorrow. It aims at a
life-long learning, prepared for any sacrifice of will yet for none of
independence; at that high progressive education which yields rest in
work and work in rest, and the development of immortal faculties in
both; at that deeper faith which believes in the vastness and variety of
the revelations of God, and their accessibility to all obedient


[95] "Degeneration," by E. Ray Lankester, p. 33.


    "I judge of the order of the world, although I know not its end,
    because to judge of this order I only need mutually to compare the
    parts, to study their functions, their relations, and to remark
    their concert. I know not why the universe exists, but I do not
    desist from seeing how it is modified; I do not cease to see the
    intimate agreement by which the beings that compose it render a
    mutual help. I am like a man who should see for the first time an
    open watch, who should not cease to admire the workmanship of it,
    although he knows not the use of the machine, and had never seen
    dials. I do not know, he would say, what all this is for, but I see
    that each piece is made for the others; I admire the worker in the
    detail of his work, and I am very sure that all these wheelworks
    only go thus in concert for a common end which I cannot

    "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of
    the Spirit is spirit."--_Christ._

    "In early attempts to arrange organic beings in some systematic
    manner, we see at first a guidance by conspicuous and simple
    characters, and a tendency toward arrangement in linear order. In
    successively later attempts, we see more regard paid to combinations
    of character which are essential but often inconspicuous; and a
    gradual abandonment of a linear arrangement."--_Herbert Spencer._

On one of the shelves in a certain museum lie two small boxes filled
with earth. A low mountain in Arran has furnished the first; the
contents of the second came from the Island of Barbadoes. When examined
with a pocket lens, the Arran earth is found to be full of small
objects, clear as crystal, fashioned by some mysterious geometry into
forms of exquisite symmetry. The substance is silica, a natural glass;
and the prevailing shape is a six-sided prism capped at either end by
little pyramids modeled with consummate grace.

When the second specimen is examined, the revelation is, if possible,
more surprising. Here, also, is a vast assemblage of small glassy or
porcelaneous objects built up into curious forms. The material,
chemically, remains the same, but the angles of pyramid and prism have
given place to curved lines, so that the contour is entirely different.
The appearance is that of a vast collection of microscopic urns,
goblets, and vases, each richly ornamented with small sculptured discs
or perforations which are disposed over the pure white surface in
regular belts and rows. Each tiny urn is chiseled into the most
faultless proportion, and the whole presents a vision of magic beauty.

Judged by the standard of their loveliness there is little to choose
between these two sets of objects. Yet there is one cardinal difference
between them. They belong to different worlds. The last belong to the
living world, the former to the dead. The first are crystals, the last
are shells.

No power on earth can make these little urns of the _Polycystina_ except
Life. We can melt them down in the laboratory, but no ingenuity of
chemistry can reproduce their sculptured forms. We are sure that Life
has formed them, however, for tiny creatures allied to those which made
the Barbadoes' earth are living still, fashioning their fairy palaces of
flint in the same mysterious way. On the other hand, chemistry has no
difficulty in making these crystals. We can melt down this Arran earth
and reproduce the pyramids and prisms in endless numbers. Nay, if we do
melt it down, we cannot help reproducing the pyramid and the prism.
There is a six-sidedness, as it were, in the very nature of this
substance which will infallibly manifest itself if the crystallizing
substance only be allowed fair play. This six-sided tendency is its Law
of Crystallization--a law of its nature which it cannot resist. But in
the crystal there is nothing at all corresponding to Life. There is
simply an inherent force which can be called into action at any moment,
and which cannot be separated from the particles in which it resides.
The crystal may be ground to pieces, but this force remains intact. And
even after being reduced to powder, and running the gauntlet of every
process in the chemical laboratory, the moment the substance is left to
itself under possible conditions it will proceed to recrystallize anew.
But if the Polycystine urn be broken, no inorganic agency can build it
up again. So far as any inherent urn-building power, analogous to the
crystalline force, is concerned, it might lie there in a shapeless mass
forever. That which modeled it at first is gone from it. It was Vital;
while the force which built the crystal was only Molecular.

From an artistic point of view this distinction is of small importance.
Æsthetically, the Law of Crystallization is probably as useful in
ministering to natural beauty as Vitality. What are more beautiful than
the crystals of a snowflake? Or what frond of fern or feather of bird
can vie with the tracery of the frost upon a window-pane? Can it be said
that the lichen is more lovely than the striated crystals of the granite
on which it grows, or the moss on the mountain side more satisfying than
the hidden amethyst and cairngorm in the rock beneath? Or is the
botanist more astonished when his microscope reveals the architecture of
spiral tissue in the stem of a plant, or the mineralogist who beholds
for the first time the chaos of beauty in the sliced specimen of some
common stone? So far as beauty goes the organic world and the inorganic
are one.

To the man of science, however, this identity of beauty signifies
nothing. His concern, in the first instance, is not with the forms but
with the natures of things. It is no valid answer to him, when he asks
the difference between the moss and the cairngorm, the frost-work and
the fern, to be assured that both are beautiful. For no fundamental
distinction in Science depends upon beauty. He wants an answer in terms
of chemistry, are they organic or inorganic? or in terms of biology, are
they living or dead? But when he is told that the one is living and the
other dead, he is in possession of a characteristic and fundamental
scientific distinction. From this point of view, however much they may
possess in common of material substance and beauty, they are separated
from one another by a wide and unbridged gulf. The classification of
these forms, therefore, depends upon the standpoint, and we should
pronounce them like or unlike, related or unrelated, according as we
judged them from the point of view of Art or of Science.

The drift of these introductory paragraphs must already be apparent. We
propose to inquire whether among men, clothed apparently with a common
beauty of character, there may not yet be distinctions as radical as
between the crystal and the shell; and, further, whether the current
classification of men, based upon Moral Beauty, is wholly satisfactory
either from the standpoint of Science or of Christianity. Here, for
example, are two characters, pure and elevated, adorned with conspicuous
virtues, stirred by lofty impulses, and commanding a spontaneous
admiration from all who look on them--may not this similarity of outward
form be accompanied by a total dissimilarity of inward nature? Is the
external appearance the truest criterion of the ultimate nature? Or, as
in the crystal and the shell, may there not exist distinctions more
profound and basal? The distinctions drawn between men, in short, are
commonly based on the outward appearance of goodness or badness, on the
ground of moral beauty or moral deformity--is this classification
scientific? Or is there a deeper distinction between the Christian and
the not-a-Christian as fundamental as that between the organic and the

There can be little doubt, to begin with, that with the great majority
of people religion is regarded as essentially one with morality. Whole
schools of philosophy have treated the Christian Religion as a question
of beauty, and discussed its place among other systems of ethics. Even
those systems of theology which profess to draw a deeper distinction
have rarely succeeded in establishing it upon any valid basis, or seem
even to have made that distinction perceptible to others. So little,
indeed, has the rationale of the science of religion been understood
that there is still no more unsatisfactory province in theology than
where morality and religion are contrasted, and the adjustment attempted
between moral philosophy and what are known as the doctrines of grace.

Examples of this confusion are so numerous that if one were to proceed
to proof he would have to cite almost the entire European philosophy of
the last three hundred years. From Spinoza downward through the whole
naturalistic school, Moral Beauty is persistently regarded as synonymous
with religion and the spiritual life. The most earnest thinking of the
present day is steeped in the same confusion. We have even the
remarkable spectacle presented to us just now of a sublime
Morality-Religion divorced from Christianity altogether, and wedded to
the baldest form of materialism. It is claimed, moreover, that the moral
scheme of this high atheism is loftier and more perfect than that of
Christianity, and men are asked to take their choice as if the morality
were everything, the Christianity or the atheism which nourished it
being neither here nor there. Others, again, studying this moral beauty
carefully, have detected a something in its Christian forms which has
compelled them to declare that a distinction certainly exists. But in
scarcely a single instance is the gravity of the distinction more than
dimly apprehended. Few conceive of it as other than a difference of
degree, or could give a more definite account of it than Mr. Matthew
Arnold's "Religion is morality touched by Emotion"--an utterance
significant mainly as the testimony of an acute mind that a distinction
of some kind does exist. In a recent Symposium, where the question as to
"The influence upon Morality of a decline in Religious Belief," was
discussed at length by writers of whom this century is justly proud,
there appears scarcely so much as a recognition of the fathomless chasm
separating the leading terms of debate.

If beauty is the criterion of religion, this view of the relation of
religion to morality is justified. But what if there be the same
difference in the beauty of two separate characters that there is
between the mineral and the shell? What if there be a moral beauty and a
spiritual beauty? What answer shall we get if we demand a more
scientific distinction between characters than that based on mere
outward form? It is not enough from the standpoint of biological
religion to say of two characters that both are beautiful. For, again,
no fundamental distinction in Science depends upon beauty. We ask an
answer in terms of biology, are they flesh or spirit; are they living or

If this is really a scientific question, if it is a question not of
moral philosophy only, but of biology, we are compelled to repudiate
beauty as the criterion of spirituality. It is not, of course, meant by
this that spirituality is not morally beautiful. Spirituality must be
morally very beautiful--so much so that popularly one is justified in
judging of religion by its beauty. Nor is it meant that morality is not
_a_ criterion. All that is contended for is that, from the scientific
standpoint, it is not _the_ criterion. We can judge of the crystal and
the shell from many other standpoints besides those named, each
classification having an importance in its own sphere. Thus we might
class them according to their size and weight, their percentage of
silica, their use in the arts, or their commercial value. Each science
or art is entitled to regard them from its own point of view; and when
the biologist announces his classification he does not interfere with
those based on other grounds. Only, having chosen his standpoint, he is
bound to frame his classification in terms of it.

It may be well to state emphatically, that in proposing a new
classification--or rather, in reviving the primitive one--in the
spiritual sphere we leave untouched, as of supreme value in its own
province, the test of morality. Morality is certainly a test of
religion--for most practical purposes the very best test. And so far
from tending to depreciate morality, the bringing into prominence of the
true basis is entirely in its interests--in the interests of a moral
beauty, indeed, infinitely surpassing the highest attainable perfection
on merely natural lines.

The warrant for seeking a further classification is twofold. It is a
principle in science that classification should rest on the most basal
characteristics. To determine what these are may not always be easy, but
it is at least evident that a classification framed on the ultimate
nature of organisms must be more distinctive than one based on external
characters. Before the principles of classification were understood,
organisms were invariably arranged according to some merely external
resemblance. Thus plants were classed according to size as Herbs,
Shrubs, and Trees; and animals according to their appearance as Birds,
Beasts, and Fishes. The Bat upon this principle was a bird, the Whale a
fish; and so thoroughly artificial were these early systems that animals
were often tabulated among the plants, and plants among the animals. "In
early attempts," says Herbert Spencer, "to arrange organic beings in
some systematic matter, we see at first a guidance by conspicuous and
simple characters, and a tendency toward arrangement in linear order. In
successively later attempts, we see more regard paid to combinations of
characters which are essential but often inconspicuous; and a gradual
abandonment of a linear arrangement for an arrangement in divergent
groups and re-divergent sub-groups."[96] Almost all the natural sciences
have already passed through these stages; and one or two which rested
entirely on external characters have all but ceased to exist--Conchology,
for example, which has yielded its place to Malacology. Following in the
wake of the other sciences, the classifications of Theology may have to
be remodeled in the same way. The popular classification, whatever its
merits from a practical point of view, is essentially a classification
based on Morphology. The whole tendency of science now is to include
along with morphological considerations the profounder generalizations
of Physiology and Embryology. And the contribution of the latter science
especially has been found so important that biology henceforth must look
for its classification largely to Embryological characters.

But apart from the demand of modern scientific culture it is palpably
foreign to Christianity, not merely as a Philosophy but as a Biology, to
classify men only in terms of the former. And it is somewhat remarkable
that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments seem to have
recognized the deeper basis. The favorite classification of the Old
Testament was into "the nations which knew God" and "the nations which
knew not God"--a distinction which we have formerly seen to be, at
bottom, biological. In the New Testament again the ethical characters
are more prominent, but the cardinal distinctions based on regeneration,
if not always actually referred to, are throughout kept in view, both in
the sayings of Christ and in the Epistles.

What then is the deeper distinction drawn by Christianity? What is the
essential difference between the Christian and the not-a-Christian,
between the spiritual beauty and the moral beauty? It is the distinction
between the Organic and the Inorganic. Moral beauty is the product of
the natural man, spiritual beauty of the spiritual man. And these two,
according to the law of Biogenesis, are separated from one another by
the deepest line known to Science. This Law is at once the foundation of
Biology and of Spiritual religion. And the whole fabric of Christianity
falls into confusion if we attempt to ignore it. The Law of Biogenesis,
in fact, is to be regarded as the equivalent in biology of the First Law
of motion in physics: _Every body continues in its state of rest or of
uniform motion in a straight line, except in so far as it is compelled
by force to change that state._ The first Law of biology is: That which
is Mineral is Mineral; that which is Flesh is Flesh; that which is
Spirit is Spirit. The mineral remains in the inorganic world until it
is seized upon by a something called Life outside the inorganic world;
the natural man remains the natural man, until a Spiritual Life from
without the natural life seizes upon him, regenerates him, changes him
into a spiritual man. The peril of the illustration from the law of
motion will not be felt at least by those who appreciate the distinction
between Physics and biology, between Energy and Life. The change of
state here is not as in physics a mere change of direction, the
affections directed to a new object, the will into a new channel. The
change involves all this, but is something deeper. It is a change of
nature, a regeneration, a passing from death into life. Hence relatively
to this higher life the natural life is no longer Life, but Death, and
the natural man from the standpoint of Christianity is dead. Whatever
assent the mind may give to this proposition, however much it has been
overlooked in the past, however it compares with casual observation, it
is certain that the Founder of the Christian religion intended this to
be the keystone of Christianity. In the proposition _That which is flesh
is flesh, and that which is spirit is spirit_, Christ formulates the
first law of biological religion, and lays the basis for a final
classification. He divides men into two classes, the living and the
not-living. And Paul afterward carries out the classification
consistently, making his entire system depend on it, and throughout
arranging men, on the one hand as πνευματικός--spiritual, on the other
as ψυχικός--carnal, in terms of Christ's distinction.

Suppose now it be granted for a moment that the character of the
not-a-Christian is as beautiful as that of the Christian. This is simply
to say that the crystal is as beautiful as the organism. One is quite
entitled to hold this; but what he is not entitled to hold is that both
in the same sense are living. _He that hath the Son hath Life, and he
that hath not the Son of God hath not Life._ And in the face of this
law, no other conclusion is possible than that that which is flesh
remains flesh. No matter how great the development of beauty, that
which is flesh is withal flesh. The elaborateness or the perfection of
the moral development in any given instance can do nothing to break down
this distinction. Man is a moral animal, and can, and ought to, arrive
at great natural beauty of character. But this is simply to obey the law
of his nature--the law of his flesh; and no progress along that line can
project him into the spiritual sphere. If any one choose to claim that
the mineral beauty, the fleshly beauty, the natural moral beauty, is all
he covets, he is entitled to his claim. To be good and true, pure and
benevolent in the moral sphere, are high and, so far, legitimate objects
of life. If he deliberately stop here, he is at liberty to do so. But
what he is not entitled to do is to call himself a Christian, or to
claim to discharge the functions peculiar to the Christian life. His
morality is mere crystallization, the crystallizing forces having had
fair play in his development. But these forces have no more touched the
sphere of Christianity than the frost on the window-pane can do more
than simulate the external forms of life. And if he considers that the
high development to which he has reached may pass by an insensible
transition into spirituality, or that his moral nature of itself may
flash into the flame of regenerate Life, he has to be reminded that in
spite of the apparent connection of these things from one standpoint,
from another there is none at all, or none discoverable by us. On the
one hand, there being no such thing as Spontaneous Generation, his moral
nature, however it may encourage it, cannot generate Life; while, on the
other, his high organization can never in itself result in Life, Life
being always the cause of organization and never the effect of it.

The practical question may now be asked, is this distinction palpable?
Is it a mere conceit of Science, or what human interests attach to it?
If it cannot be proved that the resulting moral or spiritual beauty is
higher in the one case than in the other, the biological distinction is
useless. And if the objection is pressed that the spiritual man has
nothing further to effect in the direction of morality, seeing that the
natural man can successfully compete with him, the questions thus raised
become of serious significance. That objection would certainly be fatal
which could show that the spiritual world was not as high in its demand
for a lofty morality as the natural; and that biology would be equally
false and dangerous which should in the least encourage the view that
"without holiness" a man could "see the Lord." These questions
accordingly we must briefly consider. It is necessary to premise,
however, that the difficulty is not peculiar to the present position.
This is simply the old difficulty of distinguishing spirituality and

In seeking whatever light Science may have to offer as to the difference
between the natural and the spiritual man, we first submit the question
to Embryology. And if its actual contribution is small, we shall at
least be indebted to it for an important reason why the difficulty
should exist at all. That there is grave difficulty in deciding between
two given characters, the one natural, the other spiritual, is conceded.
But if we can find a sufficient justification for so perplexing a
circumstance, the fact loses weight as an objection, and the whole
problem is placed on a different footing.

The difference on the score of beauty between the crystal and the shell,
let us say once more, is imperceptible. But fix attention for a moment,
not upon their appearance, but upon their possibilities, upon their
relation to the future, and upon their place in evolution. The crystal
has reached its ultimate stage of development. It can never be more
beautiful than it is now. Take it to pieces and give it the opportunity
to beautify itself afresh, and it will just do the same thing over
again. It will form itself into a six-sided pyramid, and go on repeating
this same form _ad infinitum_ as often as it is dissolved and without
ever improving by a hair's breadth. Its law of crystallization allows it
to reach this limit, and nothing else within its kingdom can do any more
for it. In dealing with the crystal, in short, we are dealing with the
maximum beauty of the inorganic world. But in dealing with the shell, we
are not dealing with the maximum achievement of the organic world. In
itself it is one of the humblest forms of the invertebrate sub-kingdom
of the organic world; and there are other forms within this kingdom so
different from the shell in a hundred respects that to mistake them
would simply be impossible.

In dealing with a man of fine moral character, again, we are dealing
with the highest achievement of the organic kingdom. But in dealing with
a spiritual man we are dealing with _the lowest form of life in the
spiritual world_. To contrast the two, therefore, and marvel that the
one is apparently so little better than the other, is unscientific and
unjust. The spiritual man is a mere unformed embryo, hidden as yet in
his earthly chrysalis-case, while the natural man has the breeding and
evolution of ages represented in his character. But what are the
possibilities of this spiritual organism? What is yet to emerge from
this chrysalis-case? The natural character finds its limits within the
organic sphere. But who is to define the limits of the spiritual? Even
now it is very beautiful. Even as an embryo it contains some prophecy of
its future glory. But the point to mark is, that _it doth not yet appear
what it shall be_.

The want of organization, thus, does not surprise us. All life begins at
the Amœboid stage. Evolution is from the simple to the complex; and in
every case it is some time before organization is advanced enough to
admit of exact classification. A naturalist's only serious difficulty in
classification is when he comes to deal with low or embryonic forms. It
is impossible, for instance, to mistake an oak for an elephant; but at
the bottom of the vegetable series, and at the bottom of the animal
series, there are organisms of so doubtful a character that it is
equally impossible to distinguish them. So formidable, indeed, has been
this difficulty that Hæckel has had to propose an intermediate _regnum
protisticum_ to contain those forms the rudimentary character of which
makes it impossible to apply to the determining tests.

We mention this merely to show the difficulty of classification and not
for analogy; for the proper analogy is not between vegetal and animal
forms, whether high or low, but between the living and the dead. And
here the difficulty is certainly not so great. By suitable tests it is
generally possible to distinguish the organic from the inorganic. The
ordinary eye may fail to detect the difference, and innumerable forms
are assigned by the popular judgment to the inorganic world which are
nevertheless undoubtedly alive. And it is the same in the spiritual
world. To a cursory glance these rudimentary spiritual forms may not
seem to exhibit the phenomena of Life, and therefore the living and the
dead may be often classed as one. But let the appropriate scientific
tests be applied. In the almost amorphous organism, the physiologist
ought already to be able to detect the symptoms of a dawning life. And
further research might even bring to light some faint indication of the
lines along which the future development was to proceed. Now it is not
impossible that among the tests for Life there may be some which may
fitly be applied to the spiritual organism. We may therefore at this
point hand over the problem to Physiology.

The tests for Life are of two kinds. It is remarkable that one of them
was proposed, in the spiritual sphere, by Christ. Foreseeing the
difficulty of determining the characters and functions of rudimentary
organisms, He suggested that the point be decided by a further
evolution. Time for development was to be allowed, during which the
marks of Life, if any, would become more pronounced, while in the
meantime judgment was to be suspended. "Let both grow together," He
said, "until the harvest." This is a thoroughly scientific test.
Obviously, however, it cannot assist us for the present--except in the
way of enforcing extreme caution in attempting any classification at

The second test is at least not so manifestly impracticable. It is to
apply the ordinary methods by which biology attempts to distinguish the
organic from the inorganic. The characteristics of Life, according to
Physiology, are four in number--Assimilation, Waste, Reproduction, and
Spontaneous Action. If an organism is found to exercise these functions,
it is said to be alive. Now these tests, in a spiritual sense, might
fairly be applied to the spiritual man. The experiment would be a
delicate one. It might not be open to every one to attempt it. This is a
scientific question; and the experiment would have to be conducted under
proper conditions and by competent persons. But even on the first
statement it will be plain to all who are familiar with spiritual
diagnosis that the experiment could be made, and especially on one's
self, with some hope of success. Biological considerations, however,
would warn us not to expect too much. Whatever be the inadequacy of
Morphology, Physiology can never be studied apart from it; and the
investigation of function merely as function is a task of extreme
difficulty. Mr. Herbert Spencer affirms, "We have next to no power of
tracing up the genesis of a function considered purely as a function--no
opportunity of observing the progressively-increasing quantities of a
given action that have arisen in any order of organisms. In nearly all
cases we are able only to establish the greater growth of the part which
we have found performs the action, and to infer that greater action of
the part has accompanied greater growth of it."[97] Such being the case,
it would serve no purpose to indicate the details of a barely possible
experiment. We are merely showing, at the moment, that the question
"How do I know that I am alive" is not, in the spiritual sphere,
incapable of solution. One might, nevertheless, single out some
distinctively spiritual function and ask himself if he consciously
discharged it. The discharging of that function is, upon biological
principles, equivalent to being alive, and therefore the subject of the
experiment could certainly come to some conclusion as to his place on a
biological scale. The real significance of his actions on the moral
scale might be less easy to determine, but he could at least tell where
he stood as tested by the standard of life--he would know whether he
were living or dead. After all, the best test for Life is just _living_.
And living consists, as we have formerly seen, in corresponding with
Environment. Those therefore who find within themselves, and regularly
exercise, the faculties for corresponding with the Divine Environment,
may be said to live the Spiritual Life.

That this Life also, even in the embryonic organism, ought already to
betray itself to others, is certainly what one would expect. Every
organism has its own reaction upon Nature, and the reaction of the
spiritual organism upon the community must be looked for. In the absence
of any such reactions in the absence of any token that it lived for a
higher purpose, or that its real interests were those of the Kingdom to
which it professed to belong, we should be entitled to question its
being in that Kingdom. It is obvious that each Kingdom has its own ends
and interests, its own functions to discharge in Nature. It is also a
law that every organism lives for its Kingdom. And man's place in
Nature, or his position among the Kingdoms, is to be decided by the
characteristic functions habitually discharged by him. Now when the
habits of certain individuals are closely observed, when the total
effect of their life and work, with regard to the community, is
gauged--as carefully observed and gauged as the influence of certain
individuals in a colony of ants might be observed and gauged by Sir
John Lubbock--there ought to be no difficulty in deciding whether they
are living for the Organic or for the Spiritual; in plainer language,
for the world or for God. The question of Kingdoms, at least, would be
settled without mistake. The place of any given individual in his own
Kingdom is a different matter. That is a question possibly for ethics.
But from the biological standpoint, if a man is living for the world it
is immaterial how well he lives for it. He ought to live well for it.
However important it is for his own Kingdom, it does not affect his
biological relation to the other Kingdom whether his character is
perfect or imperfect. He may even to some extent assume the outward form
of organisms belonging to the higher Kingdom; but so long as his
reaction upon the world is the reaction of his species, he is to be
classed with his species, so long as the bent of his life is in the
direction of the world, he remains a worldling.

Recent botanical and entomological researches have made Science familiar
with what is termed _Mimicry_. Certain organisms in one Kingdom assume,
for purposes of their own, the outward form of organisms belonging to
another. This curious hypocrisy is practiced both by plants and animals,
the object being to secure some personal advantage, usually safety,
which would be denied were the organism always to play its part in
Nature _in propria persona_. Thus the _Ceroxylus laceratus_ of Borneo
has assumed so perfectly the disguise of a moss-covered branch as to
evade the attack of insectivorous birds; and others of the walking-stick
insects and leaf-butterflies practice similar deceptions with great
effrontery and success. It is a startling result of the indirect
influence of Christianity or of a spurious Christianity, that the
religious world has come to be populated--how largely one can scarce
venture to think--with mimetic species. In few cases, probably, is this
a conscious deception. In many doubtless it is induced, as in
_Ceroxylus_, by the desire for _safety_. But in a majority of instances
it is the natural effect of the prestige of a great system upon those
who, coveting its benedictions, yet fail to understand its true nature,
or decline to bear its profounder responsibilities. It is here that the
test of Life becomes of supreme importance. No classification on the
ground of form can exclude mimetic species, or discover them to
themselves. But if man's place among the Kingdoms is determined by his
functions, a careful estimate of his life in itself and in its reaction
upon surrounding lives, ought at once to betray his real position. No
matter what may be the moral uprightness of his life, the honorableness
of his career, or the orthodoxy of his creed, if he exercises the
function of loving the world, that defines his world--he belongs to the
Organic Kingdom. He cannot in that case belong to the higher Kingdom.
"If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." After
all, it is by the general bent of a man's life, by his heart-impulses
and secret desires, his spontaneous actions and abiding motives, that
his generation is declared.

The exclusiveness of Christianity, separation from the world,
uncompromising allegiance to the Kingdom of God, entire surrender of
body, soul, and spirit to Christ--these are truths which rise into
prominence from time to time, become the watch-words of insignificant
parties, rouse the church to attention and the world to opposition, and
die down ultimately for want of lives to live them. The few enthusiasts
who distinguish in these requirements the essential conditions of
entrance into the Kingdom of Christ are overpowered by the weight of
numbers, who see nothing more in Christianity than a mild religiousness,
and who demand nothing more in themselves or in their fellow-Christians
than the participation in a conventional worship, the acceptance of
traditional beliefs, and the living of an honest life. Yet nothing is
more certain than that the enthusiasts are right. Any impartial
survey--such as the unique analysis in "Ecce Homo"--of the claims of
Christ and of the nature of His society, will convince any one who
cares to make the inquiry of the outstanding difference between the
system of Christianity in the original contemplation and its
representations in modern life. Christianity marks the advent of what is
simply a new Kingdom. Its distinctions from the Kingdom below it are
fundamental. It demands from its members activities and responses of an
altogether novel order. It is, in the conception of its Founder, a
Kingdom for which all its adherents must henceforth exclusively live and
work, and which opens its gates alone upon those who, having counted the
cost, are prepared to follow it if need be to the death. The surrender
Christ demanded was absolute. Every aspirant for membership must seek
_first_ the Kingdom of God. And in order to enforce the demand of
allegiance, or rather with an unconsciousness which contains the finest
evidence for its justice, He even assumed the title of King--a claim
which in other circumstances, and were these not the symbols of a higher
royalty, seems so strangely foreign to one who is meek and lowly in

But this imperious claim of a Kingdom upon its members is not peculiar
to Christianity. It is the law in all departments of Nature that every
organism must live for its Kingdom. And in defining living _for_ the
higher Kingdom as the condition of living in it, Christ enunciates a
principle which all Nature has prepared us to expect. Every province has
its peculiar exactions, every Kingdom levies upon its subjects the tax
of an exclusive obedience, and punishes disloyalty always with death. It
was the neglect of this principle--that every organism must live for its
Kingdom if it is to live in it--which first slowly depopulated the
spiritual world. The example of its Founder ceased to find imitators,
and the consecration of His early followers came to be regarded as a
superfluous enthusiasm. And it is this same misconception of the
fundamental principle of all Kingdoms that has deprived modern
Christianity of its vitality. The failure to regard the exclusive claims
of Christ as more than accidental, rhetorical, or ideal; the failure to
discern the essential difference between His Kingdom and all other
systems based on the lines of natural religion, and therefore merely
Organic; in a word, the general neglect of the claims of Christ as the
Founder of a new and higher Kingdom--these have taken the very heart
from the religion of Christ and left its evangel without power to
impress or bless the world. Until even religious men see the uniqueness
of Christ's society, until they acknowledge to the full extent its claim
to be nothing less than a new Kingdom, they will continue the hopeless
attempt to live for two Kingdoms at once. And hence the value of a more
explicit Classification. For probably the most of the difficulties of
trying to live the Christian life arise from attempting to half-live it.

As a merely verbal matter, this identification of the Spiritual World
with what are known to Science as Kingdoms, necessitates an explanation.
The suggested relation of the Kingdom of Christ to the Mineral and
Animal Kingdoms does not, of course, depend upon the accident that the
Spiritual World is named in the sacred writings by the same word. This
certainly lends an appearance of fancy to the generalization; and one
feels tempted at first to dismiss it with a smile. But, in truth, it is
no mere play on the word _Kingdom_. Science demands the classification
of every organism. And here is an organism of a unique kind, a living
energetic spirit, a new creature which, by an act of generation, has
been begotten of God. Starting from the point that the spiritual life is
to be studied biologically, we must at once proceed, as the first step
in the scientific examination of this organism, to enter it in its
appropriate class. Now two Kingdoms, at the present time, are known to
Science--the Inorganic and the Organic. It does not belong to the
Inorganic Kingdom, because it lives. It does not belong to the Organic
Kingdom, because it is endowed with a kind of Life infinitely removed
from either the vegetal or animal. Where then shall it be classed? We
are left without an alternative. There being no Kingdom known to
Science which can contain it, we must construct one. Or rather we must
include in the programme of Science a Kingdom already constructed but
the place of which in science has not yet been recognized. That Kingdom
is the _Kingdom of God_.

Taking now this larger view of the content of science, we may leave the
case of the individual and pass on to outline the scheme of nature as a
whole. The general conception will be as follows:

First, we find at the bottom of everything the Mineral or Inorganic
Kingdom. Its characteristics are, first, that so far as the sphere above
it is concerned it is dead; second, that although dead it furnishes the
physical basis of life to the Kingdom next in order. It is thus
absolutely essential to the Kingdom above it. And the more minutely the
detailed structure and ordering of the whole fabric are investigated it
becomes increasingly apparent that the Inorganic Kingdom is the
preparation for, and the prophecy of, the Organic.

Second, we come to the world next in order, the world containing plant,
and animal, and man, the Organic Kingdom. Its characteristics are,
first, that so far as the sphere above it is concerned it is dead; and,
second, although dead it supplies in turn the basis of life to the
Kingdom next in order. And the more minutely the detailed structure and
ordering of the whole fabric are investigated, it is obvious, in turn,
that the Organic Kingdom is the preparation for, and the prophecy of the

Third, and highest, we reach the Spiritual Kingdom, or the Kingdom of
Heaven. What its characteristics are, relatively to any hypothetical
higher Kingdom, necessarily remain unknown. That the Spiritual, in turn,
may be the preparation for, and the prophecy of, something still higher
is not impossible. But the very conception of a Fourth Kingdom
transcends us, and if it exists, the Spiritual organism, by the analogy,
must remain at present wholly dead to it.

The warrant for adding this Third Kingdom consists, as just stated, in
the fact that there are organisms which from their peculiar origin,
nature, and destiny cannot be fitly entered in either of the two
Kingdoms now known to science. The Second Kingdom is proclaimed by the
advent upon the stage of the First, of _once-born_ organisms. The Third
is ushered in by the appearance, among these once-born organisms, of
forms of life which have been born again--_twice-born_ organisms. The
classification, therefore, is based, from the scientific side on certain
facts of embryology and on the Law of Biogenesis; and from the
theological side on certain facts of experience and on the doctrine of
Regeneration. To those who hold either to Biogenesis or to Regeneration,
there is no escape from a Third Kingdom.[98]

There is in this conception of a high and spiritual organism rising out
of the highest point of the Organic Kingdom, in the hypothesis of the
Spiritual Kingdom itself, a Third Kingdom following the Second in
sequence as orderly as the Second follows the First, a Kingdom utilizing
the materials of both the Kingdoms beneath it, continuing their laws,
and, above all, accounting for these lower Kingdoms in a legitimate way
and complementing them in the only known way--there is in all this a
suggestion of the greatest of modern scientific doctrines, the Evolution
hypothesis, too impressive to pass unnoticed. The strength of the
doctrine of Evolution, at least in its broader outlines, is now such
that its verdict on any biological question is a consideration of
moment. And if any further defence is needed for the idea of a Third
Kingdom it may be found in the singular harmony of the whole conception
with this great modern truth. It might even be asked whether a complete
and consistent theory of Evolution does not really demand such a
conception? Why should Evolution stop with the Organic? It is surely
obvious that the complement of Evolution is Advolution, and the inquiry,
Whence has all this system of things come, is, after all, of minor
importance compared with the question, Whither does all this tend?
Science, as such, may have little to say on such a question. And it is
perhaps impossible, with such faculties as we now possess, to imagine an
Evolution with a future as great as its past. So stupendous is the
development from the atom to the man that no point can be fixed in the
future as distant from what man is now as he is from the atom. But it
has been given to Christianity to disclose the lines of a further
Evolution. And if Science also professes to offer a further Evolution,
not the most sanguine evolutionist will venture to contrast it, either
as regards the dignity of its methods, the magnificence of its aims, or
the certainty of its hopes, with the prospects of the Spiritual Kingdom.
That Science has a prospect of some sort to hold out to man, is not
denied. But its limits are already marked. Mr. Herbert Spencer, after
investigating its possibilities fully, tells us, "Evolution has an
impassable limit."[99] It is the distinct claim of the Third Kingdom
that this limit is not final. Christianity opens a way to a further
development--a development apart from which the magnificent past of
Nature has been in vain, and without which Organic Evolution, in spite
of the elaborateness of its processes and the vastness of its
achievements, is simply a stupendous _cul de sac_. Far as nature carries
on the task, vast as is the distance between the atom and the man, she
has to lay down her tools when the work is just begun. Man, her most
rich and finished product, marvelous in his complexity, all but Divine
in sensibility, is to the Third Kingdom not even a shapeless embryo. The
old chain of processes must begin again on the higher plane if there is
to be a further Evolution. The highest organism of the Second
Kingdom--simple, immobile, dead as the inorganic crystal, toward the
sphere above--must be vitalized afresh. Then from a mass of all but
homogeneous "protoplasm" the organism must pass through all the stages
of differentiation and integration, growing in perfectness and beauty
under the unfolding of the higher Evolution, until it reaches the
Infinite Complexity, the Infinite Sensibility, God. So the spiritual
carries on the marvelous process to which all lower Nature ministers,
and perfects it when the ministry of lower Nature fails.

This conception of a further Evolution carries with it the final answer
to the charge that, as regards morality, the Spiritual world has nothing
to offer man that is not already within his reach. Will it be contended
that a perfect morality is already within the reach of the natural man?
What product of the organic creation has ever attained to the fullness
of the stature of Him who is the Founder and Type of the Spiritual
Kingdom? What do men know of the qualities enjoined in His Beatitudes,
or at what value do they estimate them? Proved by results, it is surely
already decided that on merely natural lines moral perfection is
unattainable. And even Science is beginning to awaken to the momentous
truth that Man, the highest product of the Organic Kingdom, is a
disappointment. But even were it otherwise, if even in prospect the
hopes of the Organic Kingdom could be justified, its standard of beauty
is not so high, nor, in spite of the dreams of Evolution, is its
guarantee so certain. The goal of the organisms of the Spiritual World
is nothing less than this--to be "holy as He is holy, and pure as He is
pure." And by the Law of Conformity to Type, their final perfection is
secured. The inward nature must develop out according to its Type, until
the consummation of oneness with God is reached.

These proposals of the Spiritual Kingdom in the direction of Evolution
are at least entitled to be carefully considered by Science.
Christianity defines the highest conceivable future for mankind. It
satisfies the Law of Continuity. It guarantees the necessary conditions
for carrying on the organism successfully, from stage to stage. It
provides against the tendency to Degeneration. And finally, instead of
limiting the yearning hope of final perfection to the organisms of a
future age--an age so remote that the hope for thousands of years must
still be hopeless--instead of inflicting this cruelty on intelligences
mature enough to know perfection and earnest enough to wish it,
Christianity puts the prize within immediate reach of man.

This attempt to incorporate the Spiritual Kingdom in the scheme of
Evolution, may be met by what seems at first sight a fatal objection. So
far from the idea of a Spiritual Kingdom being in harmony with the
doctrine of Evolution, it may be said that it is violently opposed to
it. It announces a new Kingdom starting off suddenly on a different
plane and in direct violation of the primary principle of development.
Instead of carrying the organic evolution further on its own lines,
theology at a given point interposes a sudden and hopeless barrier--the
barrier between the natural and the spiritual--and insists that the
evolutionary process must begin again at the beginning. At this point,
in fact, Nature acts _per saltum_. This is no Evolution, but a
Catastrophe--such a Catastrophe as must be fatal to any consistent
development hypothesis.

On the surface this objection seems final--but it is only on the
surface. It arises from taking a too narrow view of what Evolution is.
It takes evolution in zoology for Evolution as a whole. Evolution
began, let us say, with some primeval nebulous mass in which lay
potentially all future worlds. Under the evolutionary hand, the
amorphous cloud broke up, condensed, took definite shape, and in the
line of true development assumed a gradually increasing complexity.
Finally there emerged the cooled and finished earth, highly
differentiated, so to speak, complete and fully equipped. And what
followed? Let it be well observed--a Catastrophe. Instead of carrying
the process further, the Evolution, if this is Evolution, here also
abruptly stops. A sudden and hopeless barrier--the barrier between the
Inorganic and the Organic--interposes, and the process has to begin
again at the beginning with the creation of Life. Here then is a barrier
placed by Science at the close of the Inorganic similar to the barrier
placed by Theology at the close of the Organic. Science has used every
effort to abolish this first barrier, but there it still stands
challenging the attention of the modern world, and no consistent theory
of Evolution can fail to reckon with it. Any objection, then, to the
Catastrophe introduced by Christianity between the Natural and Spiritual
Kingdoms applies with equal force against the barrier which Science
places between the Inorganic and the Organic. The reserve of Life in
either case is a fact, and a fact of exceptional significance.

What then becomes of Evolution? Do these two great barriers destroy it?
By no means. But they make it necessary to frame a larger doctrine. And
the doctrine gains immeasurably by such an enlargement. For now the case
stands thus: Evolution, in harmony with its own law that progress is
from the simple to the complex, begins itself to pass toward the
complex. The materialistic Evolution, so to speak, is a straight line.
Making all else complex, it alone remains simple--unscientifically
simple. But, as Evolution unfolds everything else, it is now seen to be
itself slowly unfolding. The straight line is coming out gradually in
curves. At a given point a new force appears deflecting it; and at
another given point a new force appears deflecting that. These points
are not unrelated points; these forces are not unrelated forces. The
arrangement is still harmonious, and the development throughout obeys
the evolutionary law in being from the general to the special, from the
lower to the higher. What we are reaching, in short, is nothing less
than the _evolution of Evolution_.

Now to both Science and Christianity, and especially to Science, this
enrichment of Evolution is important. And, on the part of Christianity,
the contribution to the system of Nature of a second barrier is of real
scientific value. At first it may seem merely to increase the
difficulty. But in reality it abolishes it. However paradoxical it
seems, it is nevertheless the case that two barriers are more easy to
understand than one--two mysteries are less mysterious than a single
mystery. For it requires two to constitute a harmony. One by itself is a
Catastrophe. But, just as the recurrence of an eclipse at different
periods makes an eclipse no breach of Continuity; just as the fact that
the astronomical conditions necessary to cause a Glacial Period will in
the remote future again be fulfilled constitutes the Great Ice Age a
normal phenomenon; so the recurrence of two periods associated with
special phenomena of Life, the second higher, and by the law necessarily
higher, is no violation of the principle of Evolution. Thus even in the
matter of adding a second to the one barrier of Nature, the Third
Kingdom may already claim to complement the Science of the Second. The
overthrow of Spontaneous Generation has left a break in Continuity which
continues to put Science to confusion. Alone, it is as abnormal and
perplexing to the intellect as the first eclipse. But if the Spiritual
Kingdom can supply Science with a companion-phenomenon, the most
exceptional thing in the scientific sphere falls within the domain of
Law. This, however, is no more than might be expected from a Third
Kingdom. True to its place as the highest of the Kingdoms, it ought to
embrace all that lies beneath and give to the First and Second their
final explanation.

How much more in the under-Kingdoms might be explained or illuminated
upon this principle, however tempting might be the inquiry, we cannot
turn aside to ask. But the rank of the Third Kingdom in the order of
Evolution implies that it holds the key to much that is obscure in the
world around--much that, apart from it, must always remain obscure. A
single obvious instance will serve to illustrate the fertility of the
method. What has this Kingdom to contribute to Science with regard to
the Problem of the origin of Life itself? Taking this as an isolated
phenomenon, neither the Second Kingdom, nor the Third apart from
revelation, has anything to pronounce. But when we observe the
companion-phenomenon in the higher Kingdom, the question is simplified.
It will be disputed by none that the source of Life in the Spiritual
World is God. And as the same Law of Biogenesis prevails in both
spheres, we may reason from the higher to the lower and affirm it to be
at least likely that the origin of life there has been the same.

There remains yet one other objection of a somewhat different order, and
which is only referred to because it is certain to be raised by those
who fail to appreciate the distinctions of Biology. Those whose
sympathies are rather with Philosophy than with Science may incline to
dispute the allocation of so high an organism as man to the merely
vegetal and animal Kingdom. Recognizing the immense moral and
intellectual distinctions between him and even the highest animal, they
would introduce a third barrier between man and animal--a barrier even
greater than that between the Inorganic and the Organic. Now, no science
can be blind to these distinctions. The only question is whether they
are of such a kind as to make it necessary to classify man in a separate
Kingdom. And to this the answer of Science is in the negative. Modern
Science knows only two Kingdoms--the Inorganic and the Organic. A
barrier between man and animal there may be, but it is a different
barrier from that which separates Inorganic from Organic. But even were
this to be denied, and in spite of all science it will be denied, it
would make no difference as regards the general question. It would
merely interpose another Kingdom between the Organic and the Spiritual,
the other relations remaining as before. Any one, therefore, with a
theory to support as to the exceptional creation of the Human Race will
find the present classification elastic enough for his purpose.
Philosophy, of course, may propose another arrangement of the Kingdoms
if it chooses. It is only contended that this is the order demanded by
Biology. To add another Kingdom mid-way between the Organic and the
Spiritual, could that be justified at any future time on scientific
grounds, would be a mere question of further detail.

Studies in Classification, beginning with considerations of quality,
usually end with a reference to quantity. And though one would willingly
terminate the inquiry on the threshold of such a subject, the example of
Revelation not less than the analogies of Nature press for at least a
general statement.

The broad impression gathered from the utterances of the Founder of the
Spiritual Kingdom is that the number of organisms to be included in it
is to be comparatively small. The outstanding characteristic of the new
Society is to be its selectness. "Many are called," said Christ, "but
few are chosen." And when one recalls, on the one hand, the conditions
of membership, and, on the other, observes the lives and aspirations of
average men, the force of the verdict becomes apparent. In its bearing
upon the general question, such a conclusion is not without
suggestiveness. Here again is another evidence of the radical nature of
Christianity. That "few are chosen" indicates a deeper view of the
relation of Christ's Kingdom to the world, and stricter qualifications
of membership, than lie on the surface or are allowed for in the
ordinary practice of religion.

The analogy of Nature upon this point is not less striking--it may be
added, not less solemn. It is an open secret, to be read in a hundred
analogies from the world around, that of the millions of possible
entrants for advancement in any department of Nature the number
ultimately selected for preferment is small. Here also "many are called
and few are chosen." The analogies from the waste of seed, of pollen, of
human lives, are too familiar to be quoted. In certain details,
possibly, these comparisons are inappropriate. But there are other
analogies, wider and more just, which strike deeper into the system of
Nature. A comprehensive view of the whole field of Nature discloses the
fact that the circle of the chosen slowly contracts as we rise in the
scale of being. Some mineral, but not all, becomes vegetable; some
vegetable, but not all, becomes animal; some animal, but not all,
becomes human; some human, but not all, becomes Divine. Thus the area
narrows. At the base is the mineral, most broad and simple; the
spiritual at the apex, smallest, but most highly differentiated. So form
rises above form, Kingdom above Kingdom. _Quantity decreases as quality

The gravitation of the whole system of nature toward quality is surely a
phenomenon of commanding interest. And if among the more recent
revelations of Nature there is one thing more significant for religion
than another, it is the majestic spectacle of the rise of Kingdoms
toward scarcer yet nobler forms, and simpler yet diviner ends. Of the
early stage, the first development of the earth from the nebulous matrix
of space, Science speaks with reserve. The second, the evolution of each
individual from the simple protoplasmic cell to the formed adult, is
proved. The still wider evolution, not of solitary individuals, but of
all the individuals within each province--in the vegetal world from the
unicellular cryptogam to the highest phanerogam, in the animal world
from the amorphous amœba to Man--is at least suspected, the gradual rise
of types being at all events a fact. But now, at last, we see the
Kingdoms themselves evolving. And that supreme law which has guided the
development from simple to complex in matter, in individual, in
sub-Kingdom, and in Kingdom, until only two or three great Kingdoms
remain, now begins at the beginning again, directing the evolution of
these million-peopled worlds as if they were simple cells or organisms.
Thus, what applies to the individual applies to the family, what applies
to the family applies to the Kingdom, what applies to the Kingdom
applies to the Kingdoms. And so, out of the infinite complexity there
rises an infinite simplicity, the foreshadowing of a final unity, of

    "One God, one law, one element,
      And one far-off divine event,
    To which the whole creation moves."[100]

This is the final triumph of Continuity, the heart secret of Creation,
the unspoken prophecy of Christianity. To Science, defining it as a
working principle, this mighty process of amelioration is simply
_Evolution_. To Christianity, discerning the end through the means, it
is _Redemption_. These silent and patient processes, elaborating,
eliminating, developing all from the first of time, conducting the
evolution from millennium to millennium with unaltering purpose and
unfaltering power, are the early stages in the redemptive work--the
unseen approach of that Kingdom whose strange mark is that it "cometh
without observation." And these Kingdoms rising tier above tier in ever
increasing sublimity and beauty, their foundations visibly fixed in the
past, their progress, and the direction of their progress, being facts
in Nature still, are the signs which, since the Magi saw His star in the
East, have never been wanting from the firmament of truth, and which in
every age with growing clearness to the wise, and with ever-gathering
mystery to the uninitiated, proclaim that "the Kingdom of God is at



[96] "Principles of Biology," p. 294.

[97] "Principles of Biology," vol. ii. pp. 222, 223.

[98] Philosophical classifications in this direction (see for instance
Godet's "Old Testament Studies," pp. 2-40), owing to their neglect of
the facts of Biogenesis can never satisfy the biologist--any more than
the above will wholly satisfy the philosopher. Both are needed. Rothe,
in his "Aphorisms," strikingly notes one point: "Es ist beachtenswerth,
wie in der Schöpfung immer aus der Auflösung der nächst neideren Stufe
die nächst höhere hervorgeht, so dass jene immer das Substrat zur
Erzeugung dieser Kraft der schöpferischen Einwirkung bildet. (Wie es
denn nicht anders sein kann bei einer Entwicklung der Kreatur aus sich
selbst.) Aus den zersetzten Elementen erheben sich das Mineral, aus dem
verwitterten Material die Pflanze, aus der verwesten Pflanze das Thier.
So erhebt sich auch aus dem in die Elemente zurücksinkenden Materiellen
Menschen der Geist, das geistige Geschöpf."--"Stille Stunden," p. 64.

[99] "First Principles," p. 440.

[100] "In Memoriam."

Transcriber's Endnote:

    Two significant typographical errors have been corrected in the
    Greek text on Page 263. The sentence originally read:

        "And Paul afterward carries out the classification consistently,
        making his entire system depend on it, and throughout arranging
        men, on the one hand as πυενματικός--spiritual, on the other as
        φυχικός--carnal, in terms of Christ's distinction."

    The amended text replaces πυενματικός with πνευματικός, whilst
    φυχικός now reads as ψυχικός.

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