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Title: Preaching and Paganism
Author: Fitch, Albert Parker
Language: English
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The present volume is the fourth work published by the Yale University
Press on the James Wesley Cooper Memorial Publication Fund. This
Foundation was established March 30, 1918, by a gift to Yale
University from Mrs. Ellen H. Cooper in memory of her husband, Rev.
James Wesley Cooper, D.D., who died in New York City, March 16, 1916.
Dr. Cooper was a member of the Class of 1865, Yale College, and for
twenty-five years pastor of the South Congregational Church of New
Britain, Connecticut. For thirty years he was a corporate member of
the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions and from 1885
until the time of his death was a Fellow of Yale University, serving
on the Corporation as one of the Successors of the Original Trustees.



The chief, perhaps the only, commendation of these chapters is that
they pretend to no final solution of the problem which they discuss.
How to assert the eternal and objective reality of that Presence, the
consciousness of Whom is alike the beginning and the end, the motive
and the reward, of the religious experience, is not altogether clear
in an age that, for over two centuries, has more and more rejected the
transcendental ideas of the human understanding. Yet the consequences
of that rejection, in the increasing individualism of conduct which
has kept pace with the growing subjectivism of thought, are now
sufficiently apparent and the present plight of our civilization
is already leading its more characteristic members, the political
scientists and the economists, to reëxamine and reappraise the
concepts upon which it is founded. It is a similar attempt to
scrutinize and evaluate the significant aspects of the interdependent
thought and conduct of our day from the standpoint of religion which
is here attempted. Its sole and modest purpose is to endeavor to
restore some neglected emphases, to recall to spiritually minded men
and women certain half-forgotten values in the religious experience
and to add such observations regarding them as may, by good fortune,
contribute something to that future reconciling of the thought
currents and value judgments of our day to these central and precious
facts of the religious life.

Many men and minds have contributed to these pages. Such sources of
suggestion and insight have been indicated wherever they could be
identified. In especial I must record my grateful sense of obligation
to Professor Irving Babbitt's _Rousseau and Romanticism_. The chapter
on Naturalism owes much to its brilliant and provocative discussions.



  Preface      11

  I. The Learner, the Doer and the Seer       15

  II. The Children of Zion and the Sons of Greece       40

  III. Eating, Drinking and Being Merry        72

  IV. The Unmeasured Gulf       102

  V. Grace, Knowledge, Virtue       131

  VI. The Almighty and Everlasting God       157

  VII. Worship as the Chief Approach to Transcendence      184

  VIII. Worship and the Discipline of Doctrine      209



The first difficulty which confronts the incumbent of the Lyman
Beecher Foundation, after he has accepted the appalling fact that he
must hitch his modest wagon, not merely to a star, but rather to an
entire constellation, is the delimitation of his subject. There are
many inquiries, none of them without significance, with which he might
appropriately concern himself. For not only is the profession of the
Christian ministry a many-sided one, but scales of value change
and emphases shift, within the calling itself, with our changing
civilization. The mediaeval world brought forth, out of its need, the
robed and mitered ecclesiastic; a more recent world, pursuant to its
genius, demanded the ethical idealist. Drink-sodden Georgian England
responded to the open-air evangelism of Whitefield and Wesley; the
next century found the Established Church divided against itself
by the learning and culture of the Oxford Movement. Sometimes
a philosopher and theologian, like Edwards, initiates the Great
Awakening; sometimes an emotional mystic like Bernard can arouse
all Europe and carry men, tens of thousands strong, over the Danube
and over the Hellespont to die for the Cross upon the burning sands
of Syria; sometimes it is the George Herberts, in a hundred rural
parishes, who make grace to abound through the intimate and precious
ministrations of the country parson. Let us, therefore, devote this
chapter to a review of the several aspects of the Christian ministry,
in order to set in its just perspective the one which we have chosen
for these discussions and to see why it seems to stand, for the
moment, in the forefront of importance. Our immediate question is,
Who, on the whole, is the most needed figure in the ministry today?
Is it the professional ecclesiastic, backed with the authority and
prestige of a venerable organization? Is it the curate of souls,
patient shepherd of the silly sheep? Is it the theologian, the
administrator, the prophet--who?

One might think profitably on that first question in these very
informal days. We are witnessing a breakdown of all external forms of
authority which, while salutary and necessary, is also perilous. Not
many of us err, just now, by overmagnifying our official status.
Many of us instead are terribly at ease in Zion and might become less
assured and more significant by undertaking the subjective task of
a study in ministerial personality. "What we are," to paraphrase
Emerson, "speaks so loud that men cannot hear what we say." Every
great calling has its characteristic mental attitude, the unwritten
code of honor of the group, without a knowledge of which one could
scarcely be an efficient or honorable practitioner within it. One of
the perplexing and irritating problems of the personal life of the
preacher today has to do with the collision between the secular
standards of his time, this traditional code of his class, and
the requirements of his faith. Shall he acquiesce in the smug
conformities, the externalized procedures of average society, somewhat
pietized, and join that large company of good and ordinary people,
of whom Samuel Butler remarks, in _The Way of All Flesh_, that they
would be "equally horrified at hearing the Christian religion doubted,
or at seeing it practised?" There are ministers who do thus content
themselves with being merely superrespectable. Shall he exalt the
standards of his calling, accentuate the speech and dress, the code
and manners of his group, the historic statements of his faith, at the
risk of becoming an official, a "professional"? Or does he possess the
insight, and can he acquire the courage, to follow men like Francis
of Assisi or Father Damien and adopt the Christian ethic and thus join
that company of the apostles and martyrs whose blood is the seed of
the church? A good deal might be said today on the need of this sort
of personal culture in the ministerial candidate. But, provocative and
significant though the question is, it is too limited in scope, too
purely subjective in nature, to suit the character and the urgency of
the needs of this moment.

Again, every profession has the prized inheritance of its own
particular and gradually perfected human skill. An interesting study,
then, would be the analysis of that rich content of human insights,
the result of generations of pastoral experience, which form the
background of all great preaching. No man, whether learned or pious,
or both, is equipped for the pulpit without the addition of that
intuitive discernment, that quick and varied appreciation, that sane
and tolerant knowledge of life and the world, which is the reward
given to the friends and lovers of mankind. For the preacher deals not
with the shallows but the depths of life. Like his Master he must be a
great humanist. To make real sermons he has to look, without dismay or
evasion, far into the heart's impenetrable recesses. He must have had
some experience with the absolutism of both good and evil. I think
preachers who regard sermons on salvation as superfluous have not had
much experience with either. They belong to that large world of the
intermediates, neither positively good nor bad, who compose the mass
of the prosperous and respectable in our genteel civilization. Since
they belong to it they cannot lead it. And certainly they who do
not know the absolutism of evil cannot very well understand sinners.
Genuine satans, as Milton knew, are not weaklings and traitors who
have declined from the standards of a respectable civilization. They
are positive and impressive figures pursuing and acting up to their
own ideal of conduct, not fleeing from self-accepted retribution or
falling away from a confessed morality of ours. Evil is a force even
more than a folly; it is a positive agent busily building away at the
City of Dreadful Night, constructing its insolent and scoffing society
within the very precincts of the City of God.

He must know, then, that evil and suffering are not temporary elements
of man's evolution, just about to be eliminated by the new reform,
the last formula, the fresh panacea. To those who have tasted grief
and smelt the fire such easy preaching and such confident solutions
are a grave offense. They know that evil is an integral part of our
universe; suffering an enduring element of the whole. So he must
preach upon the chances and changes of this mortal world, or go to
the house of shame or the place of mourning, knowing that there is
something past finding out in evil, something incommunicable about
true sorrow. They are not external things, alien to our natures, that
happen one day from without, and may perhaps be avoided, and by and
by are gone. No; that which makes sorrow, sorrow, and evil, evil, is
their naturalness; they well up from within, part of the very texture
of our consciousness. He knows you can never express them, for truly
to do that you would have to express and explain the entire world.
It is not easy then to interpret the evil and suffering which are not
external and temporary, but enduring and a part of the whole.

So the preacher is never dealing with plain or uncomplicated matters.
It is his business to perceive the mystery of iniquity in the saint
and to recognize the mystery of godliness in the sinner. It is his
business to revere the child and yet watch him that he may make a
man of him. He must say, so as to be understood, to those who balk at
discipline, and rail at self-repression, and resent pain: you have
not yet begun to live nor made the first step toward understanding the
universe and yourselves. To avoid discipline and to blench at pain is
to evade life. There are limitations, occasioned by the evil and the
suffering of the world, in whose repressions men find fulfillment.
When you are honest with yourself you will know what Dante meant when
he said:

  "And thou shalt see those who
  Contented are within the fire;
  Because they hope to come,
  When e'er it may be, to the blessed people."[1]

It is his business, also, to be the comrade of his peers, and yet
speak to them the truth in love; his task to understand the bitterness
and assuage the sorrows of old age. I suppose the greatest influence
a preacher ever exercises, and a chief source of the material and
insight of his preaching, is found in this intimate contact with
living and suffering, divided and distracted men and women. When
strong men blench with pain and exquisite grief stirs within us at
the sight and we can endure naught else but to suffer with them, when
youth is blurred with sin, and gray heads are sick with shame and we,
then, want to die and cry, O God! forgive and save them or else blot
me out of Thy book of life--for who could bear to live in a world
where such things are the end!--then, through the society of sorrow,
and the holy comradeship in shame, we begin to find the Lord and to
understand both the kindness and the justice of His world. In the
moment when sympathy takes the bitterness out of another's sorrow and
my suffering breaks the captivity of my neighbor's sin--then, when
because "together," with sinner and sufferer, we come out into the
quiet land of freedom and of peace, we perceive how the very heart of
God, upon which there we know we rest, may be found in the vicarious
suffering and sacrifice called forth by the sorrow and the evil
of mankind. Then we can preach the Gospel. Because then we dimly
understand why men have hung their God upon the Cross of Christ!

[Footnote 1: _The Divine Comedy: Hell_; canto I.]

Is it not ludicrous, then, to suppose that a man merely equipped with
professional scholarship, or contented with moral conformities, can
minister to the sorrow and the mystery, the mingled shame and glory of
a human being? This is why the average theologue, in his first parish,
is like the well-meaning but meddling engineer endeavoring with clumsy
tools and insensitive fingers to adjust the delicate and complicated
mechanism of a Genevan watch. And here is one of the real reasons why
we deprecate men entering our calling, without both the culture of
a liberal education and the learning of a graduate school. Clearly,
therefore, one real task of such schools and their lectureships is to
offer men wide and gracious training in the art of human contacts,
so that their lives may be lifted above Pharisaism and moral
self-consciousness, made acquainted with the higher and comprehensive
interpretations of the heart and mind of our race. For only thus can
they approach life reverently and humbly. Only thus will they revere
the integrity of the human spirit; only thus can they regard it with
a magnanimous and catholic understanding and measure it not by the
standards of temperamental or sectarian convictions, but by what
is best and highest, deepest and holiest in the race. No one needs
more than the young preacher to be drawn out of the range of narrow
judgments, of exclusive standards and ecclesiastical traditions and to
be flung out among free and sensitive spirits, that he may watch their
workings, master their perceptions, catch their scale of values.

A discussion, then, dealing with this aspect of our problem, would
raise many and genuine questions for us. There is the more room for it
in this time of increasing emphasis upon machinery when even ministers
are being measured in the terms of power, speed and utility. These are
not real ends of life; real ends are unity, repose, the imaginative
and spiritual values which make for the release of self, with its
by-product of happiness. In such days, then, when the old-time
pastor-preacher is becoming as rare as the former general
practitioner; when the lines of division between speaker, educator,
expert in social hygiene, are being sharply drawn--as though new
methods insured of themselves fresh inspiration, and technical
knowledge was identical with spiritual understanding--it would be
worth while to dwell upon the culture of the pastoral office and to
show that ingenuity is not yet synonymous with insight, and that, in
our profession at least, card-catalogues cannot take the place of
the personal study of the human heart. But many discussions on this
Foundation, and recently those of Dr. Jowett, have already dealt with
this sort of analysis. Besides, today, when not merely the preacher,
but the very view of the world that produced him, is being threatened
with temporary extinction, such a theme, poetic and rewarding though
it is, becomes irrelevant and parochial.

Or we might turn to the problem of technique, that professional
equipment for his task as a sermonizer and public speaker which is
partly a native endowment and partly a laborious acquisition on the
preacher's part. Such was President Tucker's course on _The Making
and Unmaking of the Preacher_. Certainly observations on professional
technique, especially if they should include, like his, acute
discussion of the speaker's obligation to honesty of thinking, no less
than integrity of conduct; of the immorality of the pragmatic standard
of mere effectiveness or immediate efficiency in the selection of
material; of the aesthetic folly and ethical dubiety of simulated
extempore speaking and genuinely impromptu prayers, would not be
superfluous. But, on the other hand, we may hope to accomplish
much of this indirectly today. Because there is no way of handling
specifically either the content of the Christian message or the
problem of the immediate needs and temper of those to whom it is to
be addressed, without reference to the kind of personality, and the
nature of the tools at his disposal, which is best suited to commend
the one and to interpret the other.

Hence such a discussion as this ought, by its very scale of values--by
the motives that inform it and the ends that determine it--to condemn
thereby the insincere and artificial speaker, or that pseudo-sermon
which is neither as exposition, an argument nor a meditation but a
mosaic, a compilation of other men's thoughts, eked out by impossibly
impressive or piously sentimental anecdotes, the whole glued together
by platitudes of the Martin Tupper or Samuel Smiles variety. It is
certainly an obvious but greatly neglected truth that simplicity
and candor in public speaking, largeness of mental movement, what
Phillips Brooks called direct utterance of comprehensive truths, are
indispensable prerequisites for any significant ethical or spiritual
leadership. But, taken as a main theme, this third topic, like the
others, seems to me insufficiently inclusive to meet our present
exigencies. It deals more with the externals than with the heart of
our subject.

Again we might address ourselves to the ethical and practical
aspects of preaching and the ministry. Taking largely for granted
our understanding of the Gospel, we might concern ourselves with its
relations to society, the detailed implications for the moral and
economic problems of our social and industrial order. Dean Brown, in
_The Social Message of the Modern Pulpit_, and Dr. Coffin in _In a
Day of Social Rebuilding_, have so enriched this Foundation. Moreover,
this is, at the moment, an almost universally popular treatment of
the preacher's opportunity and obligation. One reason, therefore,
for not choosing this approach to our task is that the preacher's
attention, partly because of the excellence of these and other
books and lectures, and partly because of the acuteness of the
political-industrial crisis which is now upon us, is already focused
upon it.

Besides, our present moment is changing with an ominous rapidity. And
one is not sure whether the immediate situation, as distinguished from
that of even a few years ago, calls us to be concerned chiefly with
the practical and ethical aspects of our mission, urgent though the
need and critical the pass, to which the abuses of the capitalistic
system have brought both European and American society. In this day of
those shifting standards which mark the gradual transference of power
from one group to another in the community, and the merging of a
spent epoch in a new order, neither the chief opportunity nor the most
serious peril of religious leadership is met by fresh and energetic
programs of religion in action. In such days, our chief gift to the
world cannot be the support of any particular reforms or the alliance
with any immediate ethical or economic movement. For these things at
best would be merely the effects of religion. And it is not religion
in its relations, nor even in its expression in character--it is the
thing in itself that this age most needs. What men are chiefly asking
of life at this moment is not, What ought we to do? but the deeper
question, What is there we can believe? For they know that the answer
to this question would show us what we ought to do.

Nor do our reform alliances and successive programs and crusades
always seem to me to proceed from any careful estimate of the
situation as a whole or to be conceived in the light of comprehensive
Christian principle. Instead, they sometimes seem to draw their
inspiration more from the sense of the urgent need of presenting to an
indifferent or disillusioned world some quick and tangible evidence
of a continuing moral vigor and spiritual passion to which the deeper
and more potent witnesses are absent. It is as though we thought the
machinery of the church would revolve with more energy if geared into
the wheels of the working world. But that world and we do not draw
our power from the same dynamo. And surely in a day of profound
and widespread mental ferment and moral restlessness, some more
fundamental gift than this is asked of us.

If, therefore, these chapters pay only an incidental attention
to the church's social and ethical message, it is partly because
our attention is, at this very moment, largely centered upon this
important, yet secondary matter, and more because there lies beneath
it a yet more urgent and inclusive task which confronts the spokesman
of organized religion.

You will expect me then to say that we are to turn to some speculative
and philosophic study, such as the analysis of the Christian idea in
its world relationships, some fresh statement of the Gospel, either by
way of apologia for inherited concepts, or as attempting to make a new
receptacle for the living wine, which has indeed burst the most of
its ancient bottles. Such was Principal Fairbairn's monumental task in
_The Place of Christ in Modern Theology_ and also Dr. Gordon's in his
distinguished discussions in _The Ultimate Conceptions of Faith_.

Here, certainly, is an endeavor which is always of primary importance.
There is an abiding peril, forever crouching at the door of ancient
organizations, that they shall seek refuge from the difficulties of
thought in the opportunities of action. They need to be continually
reminded that reforms begin in the same place where abuses do,
namely, in the notion of things; that only just ideas can, in the
long run, purify conduct; that clear thinking is the source of
all high and sustained feeling. I wish that we might essay the
philosopher-theologian's task. This generation is hungry for
understanding; it perishes for lack of knowledge. One reason for
the indubitable decline of the preacher's power is that we have been
culpably indifferent in maintaining close and friendly alliances
between the science and the art, the teachers and the practitioners of
religion. Few things would be more ominous than to permit any further
widening of the gulf which already exists between these two. Never
more than now does the preacher need to be reminded of what Marcus
Aurelius said: "Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also shall be
thyself; for the soul is dyed by its thoughts."

But such an undertaking, calling for wide and exact scholarship, large
reserves of extra-professional learning, does not primarily belong
to a discussion within the department of practical theology. Besides
which there is a task, closely allied to it, but creative rather than
critical, prophetic rather than philosophic, which does fall within
the precise area of this field. I mean the endeavor to describe
the mind and heart of our generation, appraise the significant
thought-currents of our time. This would be an attempt to give some
description of the chief impulses fermenting in contemporary society,
to ask what relation they hold to the Christian principle, and to
inquire what attitude toward them our preaching should adopt. If it be
true that what is most revealing in any age is its regulative ideas,
then what is more valuable for the preacher than to attempt the
understanding of his generation through the defining of its ruling
concepts? And it is this audacious task which, for two reasons, we
shall presume to undertake.

The first reason is that it is appropriate both to the temperament
and the training of the preacher. There are three grand divisions,
or rather determining emphases, by which men may be separated into
vocational groups. To begin with, there is the man of the scientific
or intellectual type. He has a passion for facts and a strong sense of
their reality. He moves with natural ease among abstract propositions,
is both critical of, and fertile in, theories; indicates his essential
distinction in his love of the truth for the truth's sake. He looks
first to the intrinsic reasonableness of any proposition; tends to
judge both men and movements not by traditional or personal values,
but by a detached and disinterested appraisal of their inherent worth.
He is often a dogmatist, but this fault is not peculiar to him, he
shares it with the rest of mankind. He is sometimes a literalist and
sometimes a slave to logic, more concerned with combating the crude
or untenable form of a proposition than inquiring with sympathetic
insight into the worth of its substance. But these things are
perversions of his excellencies, defects of his virtues. His
characteristic qualities are mental integrity, accuracy of statement,
sanity of judgment, capacity for sustained intellectual toil. Such
men are investigators, scholars; when properly blended with the
imaginative type they become inventors and teachers. They make good
theologians and bad preachers.

Then there are the practical men, beloved of our American life. Both
their feet are firmly fixed upon the solid ground. They generally
know just where they are, which is not surprising, for they do not,
for the most part, either in the world of mind or spirit, frequent
unusual places. The finespun speculations of the philosophers and the
impractical dreams of the artist make small appeal to them; the world
they live in is a sharply defined and clearly lighted and rather
limited place. They like to say to this man come and he cometh, and to
that man go and he goeth. They are enamored of offices, typewriters,
telegrams, long-distance messages, secretaries, programs, conferences
and drives. Getting results is their goal; everything is judged by the
criterion of effective action; they are instinctive and unconscious
pragmatists. They make good cheer leaders at football games in their
youth and impressive captains of industry in their old age. Their
virtues are wholesome, if obvious; they are good mixers, have shrewd
judgment, immense physical and volitional energy. They understand that
two and two make four. They are rarely saints but, unlike many of
us who once had the capacity for sainthood, they are not dreadful
sinners. They are the tribe of which politicians are born but, when
they are blended with imaginative and spiritual gifts, they become
philanthropists and statesmen, practical servants of mankind. They
make good, if conservative, citizens; kind, if uninspiring, husbands
and deplorable preachers.

Then there are those fascinating men of feeling and imagination, those
who look into their own hearts and write, those to whom the inner
dominions which the spirit conquers for itself become a thousand-fold
more real than the earth whereon they stamp their feet. These are the
literary or the creative folk. Their passion is not so much to know
life as to enjoy it; not to direct it, but to experience it; not even
to make understanding of it an end, but only a means to interpreting
it. They do not, as a rule, thirst for erudition, and they are
indifferent to those manipulations of the externals of life which
are dear to the lovers of executive power. They know less but they
understand more than their scholastic brethren. As a class they are
sometimes disreputable but nearly always unworldly; more distinguished
by an intuitive and childlike than by an ingenious or sophisticated
quality of mind. Ideas and facts are perceived by them not abstractly
nor practically, but in their typical or symbolic, hence their
pictorial and transmissible, aspects. They read dogma, whether
theological or other, in the terms of a living process, unconsciously
translating it, as they go along, out of its cold propositions into
its appropriate forms of feeling and needs and satisfactions.

The scientist, then, is a critic, a learner who wants to analyze and
dissect; the man of affairs is a director and builder and wants to
command and construct; the man of this group is a seer. He is a lover
and a dreamer; he watches and broods over life, profoundly feeling it,
enamored both of its shame and of its glory. The intolerable poignancy
of existence is bittersweet to his mouth; he craves to incarnate,
to interpret its entire human process, always striving to pierce to
its center, to capture and express its inexpressible ultimate. He
is an egotist but a valuable one, acutely aware of the depths and
immensities of his own spirit and of its significant relations to
this seething world without. Thus it is both himself and a new vision
of life, in terms of himself, that he desires to project for his

The form of that vision will vary according to the nature of the
tools, the selection of material, the particular sort of native
endowment which are given to him. Some such men reveal their
understanding of the soul and the world in the detached serenity,
the too well-defined harmonies of a Parthenon; others in the dim
and intricate richness, the confused and tortured aspiration of the
long-limbed saints and grotesque devils of a Gothic cathedral. Others
incarnate it in gleaming bronze; or spread it in subtle play of light
and shade and tones of color on a canvas; or write it in great plays
which open the dark chambers of the soul and make the heart stand
still; or sing it in sweet and terrible verse, full-throated utterance
of man's pride and hope and passion. Some act it before the altar or
beneath the proscenium arch; some speak it, now in Cassandra-tones,
now comfortably like shepherds of frail sheep. These folk are the
brothers-in-blood, the fellow craftsmen of the preacher. By a silly
convention, he is almost forbidden to consult with them, and to betake
himself to the learned, the respectable and the dull. But it is with
these that naturally he sees eye to eye.

In short, in calling the preacher a prophet we mean that preaching
is an art and the preacher is an artist; for all great art has the
prophetic quality. Many men object to this definition of the preacher
as being profane. It appears to make secular or mechanicalize their
profession, to rob preaching of its sacrosanctity, leave it less
authority by making it more intelligible, remove it from the realm
of the mystical and unique. This objection seems to me sometimes
an expression of spiritual arrogance and sometimes a subtle form of
skepticism. It assumes a special privilege for our profession or a
not-get-at-able defense and sanction by insisting that it differs in
origin and hence in kind from similar expressions of the human spirit.
It hesitates to rely on the normal and the intelligible sources of
ministerial power, to confess the relatively definable origin and
understandable methods of our work. It fears to trust to these alone.

But all these must be trusted. We may safely assert that the preacher
deals with absolute values, for all art does that. But we may not
assert that he is the only person that does so or that his is the only
or the unapproachable way. No; he, too, is an artist. Hence, a sermon
is not a contribution to, but an interpretation of, knowledge, made
in terms of the religious experience. It is taking truth out of its
compressed and abstract form, its impersonal and scientific language,
and returning it to life in the terms of the ethical and spiritual
experience of mankind, thus giving it such concrete and pictorial
expression that it stimulates the imagination and moves the will.

It will be clear then why I have said that the task of appraising the
heart and mind of our generation, to which we address ourselves, is
appropriate to the preaching genius. For only they could attempt
such a task who possess an informed and disciplined yet essentially
intuitive spirit with its scale of values; who by instinct can see
their age as a whole and indicate its chief emphases, its controlling
tendencies, its significant expressions. It is not the scientist but
the seer who thus attempts the precious but perilous task of making
the great generalizations. This is what Aristotle means when he says,
"The poet ranks higher than the historian because he achieves a more
general truth." This is, I suppose, what Houston Stewart Chamberlain
means when he says, in the introduction to the _Foundations of the
Nineteenth Century_: "our modern world represents an immeasurable
array of facts. The mastery of such a task as recording and
interpreting them scientifically is impossible. It is only the genius
of the artist, which feels the secret parallels that exist between
the world of vision and of thought, that can, if fortune be favorable,
reveal the unity beneath the immeasurable complexities and diversities
of the present order." Or as Professor Hocking says: "The prophet must
find in the current of history a unity corresponding to the unity of
the physical universe, or else he must create it. It is this conscious
unification of history that the religious will spontaneously tends to
bring about."[2]

[Footnote 2: _The Meaning of God in Human Experience_, p. 518.]

It is then precisely the preacher's task, his peculiar office, to
attempt these vast and perilous summations. What he is set here for
is to bring the immeasurable within the scope of vision. He deals with
the far-flung outposts, no man knows how distant, and the boundless
interspaces of human consciousness; he deals with the beginning, the
middle, the end--the origin, the meaning and the destiny--of human
life. How can anyone give unity to such a prospect? Like any other
artist he gives it the only unity possible, the unity revealed in
his own personality. The theologian should not attempt to evaluate
his age; the preacher may. Because the theologian, like any other
scientist, analyzes and dissects; he breaks up the world. The preacher
in his disciplined imagination, his spiritual intuitiveness,--what we
call the "religious temperament,"--unites it again and makes men see
it whole. This quality of purified and enlightened imagination is of
the very essence of the preacher's power and art. Hence he may attempt
to set forth a just understanding of his generation.

This brings us to the second reason for our topic namely, its
timeliness. All religious values are not at all times equal in
importance. As generations come and go, first one, then another looms
in the foreground. But I sincerely believe that the most fateful
undertaking for the preacher at this moment is that of analyzing his
own generation. Because he has been flung into one of the world's
transition epochs, he speaks in an hour which is radical in changes,
perplexing in its multifarious cross-currents, prolific of new
forms and expressions. What the world most needs at such a moment of
expansion and rebellion, is a redefining of its ideals. It needs to
have some eternal scale of values set before it once more. It needs
to stop long enough to find out just what and where it is, and toward
what it is going. It needs another Sheridan to write a new _School for
Scandal_, another Swift, with his _Gulliver's Travels_, a continuing
Shaw with his satiric comedies, a Mrs. Wharton with her _House of
Mirth_, a Thorstein Veblen with his _Higher Learning in America_, a
Savonarola with his call to repentance and indictment of worldly and
unfaithful living. It is a difficult and dangerous office, this of
the prophet; it calls for a considerate and honest mind as well as a
flashing insight and an eager heart. The false prophet exposes that he
may exploit his age; the true prophet portrays that he may purge it.
Like Jeremiah we may well dread to undertake the task, yet its day and
hour are upon us!

I have already spoken to this point at length, in a little book
recently published. I merely add here that in a day of obvious
political disillusionment and industrial revolt, of intellectual
rebellion against an outworn order of ideas and of moral restlessness
and doubt, an indispensable duty for the preacher is this
comprehensive study and understanding of his own epoch. Else, without
realizing it,--and how true this often is,--he proclaims a universal
truth in the unintelligible language of a forgotten order, and applies
a timeless experience to the faded conditions of yesterday.

Indeed, I am convinced that a chief reason why preaching is
temporarily obscured in power, is because most of our expertness in it
is in terms of local problems, of partial significances, rather
than in the wider tendencies that produce and carry them, or in the
ultimate laws of conduct which should govern them. We ought to be
troubled, I think, in our present ecclesiastical situation, with its
taint of an almost frantic immediacy. Not only are we not sufficiently
dealing with the Gospel as a universal code, but, as both cause and
effect of this, we are not applying it to the inclusive life of our
generation. We are tinkering here and patching there, but attempting
no grand evaluation. We have already granted that sweeping
generalizations, inclusive estimates, are as difficult as they are
audacious. Yet we have also seen that these grand evaluations are
of the very essence of religion and hence are characteristic of the
preacher's task. And, finally, it appears that ours is an age which
calls for such redefining of its values, some fresh and inclusive
moral and religious estimates. Hence we undertake the task.

There remains but one thing more to be accomplished in this chapter.
The problem of the selection and arrangement of the material for such
a summary is not an easy one. Out of several possible devices I
have taken as the framework on which to hang these discussions three
familiar divisions of thought and feeling, with their accompanying
laws of conduct, and value judgments. They are the humanistic
or classic; the naturalistic or primitive; and the religious or
transcendent interpretation of the world and life. One sets up a
social, one an individual, and one a universal standard. Under the
movements which these headings represent we can most easily and
clearly order and appraise the chief influences of the Protestant
centuries. The first two are largely preëmpting between them, at this
moment, the field of human thought and conduct and a brief analysis
of them, contrasting their general attitudes, may serve as a fit
introduction to the ensuing chapter.

We begin, then, with the humanist. He is the man who ignores, as
unnecessary, any direct reference to, or connection with, ultimate or
supernatural values. He lives in a high but self-contained world. His
is man's universe. His law is the law of reasonable self-discipline,
founded on observation of nature and a respect for social values,
and buttressed by high human pride. He accepts the authority of the
collective experience of his generation or his race. He believes,
centrally, in the trustworthiness of human nature, in its group
capacity. Men, as a race, have intelligently observed and experimented
with both themselves and the world about them. Out of centuries of
critical reflection and sad and wise endeavor, they have evolved
certain criteria of experience. These summations could hardly be
called eternal laws but they are standards; they are the permits and
prohibitions for human life. Some of them affect personal conduct
and are moral standards; some of them affect civil government and are
political axioms; some of them affect production and distribution and
are economic laws; some of them affect social relationships. But in
every case the humanist has what is, in a sense, an objective because
a formal standard; he looks without himself as an individual, yet to
himself as a part of the composite experience and wisdom of his race,
for understanding and for guides. Thus the individual conforms to the
needs and wisdom of the group. Humanism, at its best, has something
heroic, unselfish, noble about it. Its votaries do not eat to their
liking nor drink to their thirst. They learn deep lessons almost
unconsciously; to conquer their desires, to make light of toil and
pain and discomfort; the true humanist is well aware that Spartan
discipline is incomparably superior to Greek accidence. This is what
one of the greatest of them, Goethe, meant when he said: "Anything
which emancipates the spirit without a corresponding growth in
self-mastery is pernicious."

All humanists then have two characteristics in common: first,
they assume that man is his own arbiter, has both the requisite
intelligence and the moral ability to control his own destiny;
secondly, they place the source and criterion of this power in
collective wisdom, not in individual vagary and not in divine
revelation. They assert, therefore, that the law of the group, the
perfected and wrought out code of human experience, is all that is
binding and all that is essential. To be sure, and most significantly,
this authority is not rigid, complete, fixed. There is nothing
complete in the humanist's world. Experience accumulates and man's
knowledge grows; the expectation and joy in progress is a part of it;
man's code changes, emends, expands with his onward marching. But the
humanistic point of view assumes something relatively stable in life.
Hence our phrase that humanism gives us a classic, that is to say, a
simple and established standard.

It is to be observed that there is nothing in humanism thus defined
which need be incompatible with religion. It is not with its content
but its incompleteness that we quarrel. Indeed, in its assertion of
the trustworthiness of human experience, its faith in the dignity and
significance of man, its respect for the interests of the group, and
its conviction that man finds his true self only outside his immediate
physical person, beyond his material wants and desires, it is quite
genuinely a part of the religious understanding. But we shall have
occasion to observe that while much of this may be religious this is
not the whole of religion. For the note of universality is absent.
Humanism is essentially aristocratic. It is for a selected group that
it is practicable and it is a selected experience upon which it rests.
Its standards are esoteric rather than democratic. Yet it is hardly
necessary to point out the immense part which humanism, as thus
defined, is playing in present life.

But there is another law which, from remotest times, man has
followed whenever he dared. It is not the law of the group but of
the individual, not the law of civilization but of the jungle. "Most
men," says Aristotle, "would rather live in a disorderly than a sober
manner." He means that most men would rather consult and gratify their
immediate will, their nearest choices, their instantaneous desires,
than conform the moment to some regulated and considerate, some
comprehensive scheme of life and action. The life of unreason is their
desire; the experience whose bent is determined by every whim, the
expression which has no rational connection with the past and no
serious consideration for the future. This is of the very essence of
lawlessness because it is revolt against the normal sequence of law
and effect, in mind and conduct, in favor of untrammeled adventure.

Now this is naturalism or paganism as we often call it. Naturalism
is a perversion of that high instinct in mankind which issues in the
old concept of supernaturalism. The supernaturalist, of a former and
discredited type, believed that God violates the order of nature
for sublime ends; that He "breaks into" His own world, so to speak,
"revealing" Himself in prodigious, inexplicable, arbitrary ways. By a
sort of degradation of this notion, a perversion of this instinct, the
naturalist assumes that he can violate both the human and the divine
law for personal ends, and express himself in fantastic or indecent
or impious ways. The older supernaturalism exalts the individualism
of the Creator; naturalism the egotism of the creature. I make the
contrast not merely to excoriate naturalism, but to point out the
interdependence between man's apparently far-separated expressions
of his spirit, and how subtly misleading are our highly prized
distinctions, how dangerous sometimes that secondary mental power
which multiplies them. It sobers and clarifies human thinking a
little, perhaps, to reflect on how thin a line separates the sublime
and the ridiculous, the saint and the sensualist, the martyr and the
fool, the genius and the freak.

Now, with this selfish individualism which we call naturalism we shall
have much to do, for it plays an increasing rôle in the modern
world; it is the neo-paganism which we may see spreading about us.
Sophistries of all kinds become the powerful allies of this sort of
moral and aesthetic anarchy. Its votaries are those sorts of
rebels who invariably make their minds not their friends but their
accomplices. They are ingenious in the art of letting themselves go
and at the same time thinking themselves controlled and praiseworthy.
The naturalist, then, ignores the group; he flaunts impartially
both the classic and the religious law. He is equally unwilling to
submit to a power imposed from above and without, or to accept those
restrictions of society, self-imposed by man's own codified and
corrected observations of the natural world and his own impulses. He
jeers at the one as hypocrisy and superstition and at the other as
mere "middle-class respectability." He himself is the perpetual Ajax
standing defiant upon the headland of his own inflamed desires,
and scoffing at the lightnings either of heaven or society. Neither
devoutness nor progress but mere personal expansion is his goal. The
humanist curbs both the flesh and the imagination by a high doctrine
of expediency. Natural values are always critically appraised in the
light of humane values, which is nearly, if not quite, the same as
saying that the individual desires and delights must be conformed
to the standards of the group. There can be no anarchy of the
imagination, no license of the mind, no unbridled will. Humanism,
no less than religion, is nobly, though not so deeply, traditional.
But there is no tradition to the naturalist; not the normal and
representative, but the unique and spectacular is his goal. Novelty
and expansion, not form and proportion, are his goddesses. Not truth
and duty, but instinct and appetite, are in the saddle. He will try
any horrid experiment from which he may derive a new sensation.

Over against them both stands the man of religion with his vision of
the whole and his consequent law of proud humility. The next three
chapters will try to discuss in detail these several attitudes toward
life and their respective manifestations in contemporary society.



We are not using the term "humanism" in this chapter in its strictly
technical sense. Because we are not concerned with the history of
thought merely, but also with its practical embodiments in various
social organizations as well. So we mean by "humanism" not only those
modes and systems of thought in which human interests predominate but
also the present economic, political and ecclesiastical institutions
which more or less consistently express them. Hence, the term as
used will include concepts not always agreeing with each other, and
sometimes only semi-related to the main stream of the movement. This
need not trouble us. Strict intellectual consistency is a fascinating
and impossible goal of probably dubious value. Moreover, it is
this whole expression of the time spirit which bathes the sensitive
personality of the preacher, persuading and moulding him quite as much
by its derived and concrete manifestations in contemporary society as
by its essential and abstract principles.

There are then two sets of media through which humanism has affected
preaching. The first are philosophical and find their expression in a
large body of literature which has been moulding thought and feeling
for nearly four centuries. Humanism begins with the general abstract
assumption that all which men can know, or need to know, are "natural"
and human values; that they have no means of getting outside the
inexorable circle of their own experience.

Much, of course, depends here upon the sense in which the word
"experience" is used. The assumption need not necessarily be
challenged except where, as is very often the case, an arbitrarily
limited definition of experience is intended. From this general
assumption flows the subjective theory of morals; from it is derived
the conviction that the rationalistic values in religion are the only
real, or at least demonstrable, ones; and hence from this comes the
shifting of the seat of religious authority from "revelation" to
experience. In so far as this is a correction of emphasis only, or the
abandonment of a misleading term rather than the denial of one of the
areas and modes of understanding, again we have no quarrel with it.
But if it means an exclusion of the supersensuous sources of knowledge
or the denial of the existence of absolute values as the source of our
relative and subjective understanding, then it strikes at the heart
of religion. Because the religious life is built on those factors of
experience that lie above the strictly rational realm of consciousness
just as the pagan view rests on primitive instincts that lie beneath
it. Of course, in asserting the importance of these "supersensuous"
values the religionist does not mean that they are beyond the reach
of human appraisal or unrelated by their nature to the rest of our
understanding. By the intuitive he does not mean the uncritical nor by
the supersensuous the supernatural in the old and discredited sense of
an arbitrary and miraculous revelation. Mysticism is not superstition,
nor are the insights of the poet the whimsies of the mere
impressionist. But he insists that the humanist, in his ordinary
definition of experience, ignores or denies these superrational
values. In opposition to him he rests his faith on that definition of
experience which underlies Aristotle's statement that "the intellect
is dependent upon intuition for knowledge both of what is below and
what is above itself."

Now it is this first set of factors which are the more important.
For the cause, as distinguished from the occasions, of our present
religious scale of values is, like all major causes, not practical but
ideal, and its roots are found far beneath the soil of the present
in the beginnings of the modern age in the fourteenth century. It was
then that our world was born; it is of the essence of that world that
it arose out of indifference toward speculative thinking and unfaith
in those concepts regarding the origin and destiny of mankind which
speculative philosophy tried to express and prove.

From the first, then, humanistic leaders have not only frankly
rejected the scholastic theologies, which had been the traditional
expression of those absolute values with which the religious
experience is chiefly concerned, but also ignored or rejected the
existence of those values themselves. Thus Petrarch is generally
considered the first of modern humanists. He not only speaks of
Rome--meaning the whole semi-political, semi-ecclesiastical structure
of dogmatic supernaturalism--as that "profane Babylon" but also
reveals his rejection of the distinctively religious experience itself
by characterizing as "an impudent wench" the Christian church. The
attack is partly therefore on the faith in transcendent values which
fixes man's relative position by projecting him upon the screen of an
infinite existence and which asserts that he has an absolute, that is,
an other-than-human guide. Again Erasmus, in his _Praise of Folly_,
denounces indiscriminately churches, priesthoods, dogmas, ethical
values, the whole structure of organized religion, calling it those
"foul smelling weeds of theology." It was inevitable that such men as
Erasmus and Thomas More should hold aloof from the Reformation, not,
as has been sometimes asserted, from any lack of moral courage but
because of intellectual conviction. They saw little to choose between
Lutheran, Calvinistic and Romish dogmatism. They had rejected not only
mediaeval ecclesiasticism but also that view of the world founded on
supersensuous values, whose persistent intimations had produced the
speculative and scholastic theologies. To them, in a quite literal
sense, the proper study of mankind was man.

It is hardly necessary to speak here of the attitude towards the old
"supernatural" religion taken by the English Deists of the last half
of the seventeenth and first half of the eighteenth century. Here
was the first definite struggle of the English church with a group
of thinkers who, under the leadership of Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke
and others, attempted to adapt humanistic philosophy to theological
speculation, to establish the sufficiency of natural religion as
opposed to revelation, and to deny the unique significance of the
Old and New Testament Scriptures. The English Deists were not deep
or comprehensive thinkers, but they were typically humanistic in that
their interests were not mainly theological or religious but rather
those of a general culture. They were inconsistent with their humanism
in their doctrine of a personal God who was not only remote but
separated from his universe, a _deus ex machina_ who excluded the idea
of immanence. While less influential in England, they had a powerful
effect upon French and German thinking. Both Voltaire and Rousseau
were rationalists and Deists to the end of their days and both were
unwearied foes of any other-than-natural sources for our spiritual
knowledge and religious values.

In Germany the humanistic movement continued under Herder and his
younger contemporaries, Schiller and Goethe. Its historical horizon,
racial and literary sympathies, broadened under their direction,
moving farther and farther beyond the sources and areas of accepted
religious ideas and practices. They led the revival of study of the
Aryan languages and cultures; especially those of the Hellenes and the
inhabitants of the Indian peninsula. They originated that critical
and rather hostile scrutiny of Semitic ideas and values in present
civilization, which plays no small part in the dilettante naturalism
of the moment. Thus the nature and place of _man_, under the influence
of these "uninspired" literatures and cultures, became more and more
important as both his person and his position in the cosmos ceased
to be interpreted either in those terms of the moral transcendence
of deity, or of the helplessness and insignificance of his creatures,
which inform both the Jewish-Christian Scriptures and the philosophic
absolutism of the Catholic theologies.

But the humanism of the eighteenth century comes most closely to grips
with the classic statements and concepts of religion in the critical
philosophy of Kant. It is the intellectual current which rises in
him which is finding its last multifarious and minute rivulets in the
various doctrines of relativity, in pragmatism, the subjectivism of
the neo-realists, and in the superior place generally ascribed by
present thinking to value judgments as against existential ones. His
central insistence is upon the impossibility of any knowledge of God
as an objective reality. Speculative reason does indeed give us the
idea of God but he denies that we have in the idea itself any ground
for thinking that there is an objective reality corresponding to it.
The idea he admits as necessitated by "the very nature of reason" but
it serves a purely harmonizing office. It is here to give coherence
and unity to the objects of the understanding, "to finish and crown
the whole of human knowledge."[3] Experience of transcendence thus
becomes impossible. As Professor McGiffert in _The Modern Ideas of
God_ says: "Subjectively considered, religion is the recognition of
our duties as commands of God. When we do our duty we are virtuous;
when we recognize it as commanded by God we are religious. The notion
that there is anything we can do to please God except to live rightly
is superstition. Moreover, to think that we can distinguish works
of grace from works of nature, which is the essence of historic
Christianity, or that we can detect the activity of heavenly
influences is also superstition. All such supernaturalism lies beyond
our ken. There are three common forms of superstition, all promoted
by positive religion: the belief in miracles, the belief in mysteries,
and the belief in the means of grace."[4] So prayer is a confession of
weakness, not a source of strength.

[Footnote 3: See _The Critique of Pure Reason_ (Müller, tr.), pp. 575

[Footnote 4: _Harvard Theo. Rev._, vol. I, no. 1, p. 16.]

Kant is more than once profoundly inconsistent with the extreme
subjectivism of his theory of ideas as when he says in the _Practical
Reason_: "Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing
admiration and awe the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on
them: the starry heavens above and the moral law within."[5] Again he
remarks, "The belief in a great and wise Author of the world has been
supported entirely by the wonderful beauty, order and providence,
everywhere displayed in nature."[6] Here the objective reality both of
what is presented to our senses and what is conceived of in the mind,
is, as though unconsciously, taken for granted. Thus while he contends
for a practical theism, the very basis of his interest still rests in
the conviction of a Being external to us and existing independent of
our thought.

[Footnote 5: _The Critique of Practical Reason_ (tr. T.K. Abbott), p.

[Footnote 6: _The Critique of Pure Reason_, p. 702.]

But his intention of making right conduct the essence of religion
is typical of the limits of humanistic interests and perceptions. In
making his division of reason into the theoretical and the practical,
it is to the latter realm that he assigns morality and religion.
Clearly this is genuine rationalism. I am not forgetting Kant's great
religious contribution. He was the son of devout German pietists and
saturated in the literature of the Old Testament. It is to Amos, who
may justly be called his spiritual father, that he owes the moral
absoluteness of his categorical imperative, the reading of history
as a moral order. He was following Amos when he took God out of the
physical and put Him into the moral sphere and interpreted Him in
the terms of purpose. But the doctrine of _The Critique of Practical
Reason_ is intended to negate those transcendent elements generally
believed to be the distinctive portions of religion. God is not known
to us as an objective being, an entity without ourselves. He is an
idea, a belief, which gives meaning to our ethical life, a subjective
necessity. He is a postulate of the moral will. To quote Professor
McGiffert again: "We do not get God from the universe, we give Him
to the universe. We read significance and moral purpose into it. We
assume God, not to account for the world, but for the subjective
need of realizing our highest good.... Religion becomes a creative
act of the moral will just as knowledge is a creative act of the
understanding."[7] Thus there are no ultimate values; at least we can
know nothing of them; we have nothing to look to which is objective
and changeless. The absolutism of the Categorical Imperative is
a subjective one, bounded by ourselves, formed of our substance.
Religion is not discovered, but self-created, a sort of sublime
expediency. It can carry, then, no confident assertion as to the
meaning and destiny of the universe as a whole.

[Footnote 7: _H.T.R._, vol. I, no. 1, p. 18.]

Here, then, the nature of morality, the inspiration for character,
the solution of human destiny, are not sought outside in some sort
of cosmic relationship, but within, either in the experience of the
superman, the genius or the hero, or, as later, in the collective
experience and consciousness of the group. Thus this, too, throws man
back upon himself, makes a new exaltation of personality in sharpest
contrast to the scholastic doctrine of the futility and depravity of
human nature. It produces the assertion of the sacred character of the
individual human being. The conviction of the immeasurable worth of
man is, of course, a characteristic teaching of Jesus; what it is
important for the preacher to remember in humanism is the source, not
the fact, of its estimate. With Jesus man's is a derived greatness
found in him as the child of the Eternal; in humanism, it is, so to
speak, self-originated, born of present worth, not of sublime origin
or shining destiny.

So man in the humanistic movement moves into the center of his own
world, becomes himself the measuring rod about whom all other values
are grouped. In the place of inspiration, or prophetic understanding,
which carries the implications of a transcendent source of truth and
goodness, we have a sharply limited, subjective wisdom and insight.
The "thus saith the Lord" of the Hebrew prophet means nothing here.
The humanist is, of course, confronted with the eternal question of
origins, of the thing-in-itself, the question whose insistence makes
the continuing worth of the absolutist speculations. He begs the
question by answering it with an assertion, not an explanation. He
meets it by an exaltation of human genius. Genius explains all sublime
achievements and genius is, so to speak, its own _fons et origo_. Thus
Diderot says: "Genius is the higher activity of the soul." "Genius,"
remarks Rousseau in a letter, "makes knowledge unnecessary." And
Kant defines genius as "the talent to discover that which cannot be
taught or learned."[8] This appears to be more of an evasion than
a definition! But the intent here is to refer all that seems to
transcend mundane categories, man's highest, his widest, his sublimest
intuitions and achievements, back to himself; he is his own source of
light and power.

[Footnote 8: _Anthropologie_, para. 87 c.]

Such an anthropocentric view of life and destiny in exalting man,
of course, thereby liberated him, not merely from ecclesiastical
domination, but also from those illusive fears and questionings, those
remote and imaginative estimates of his own intended worth and those
consequent exacting demands upon himself which are a part of the
religious interpretation of life. Humanistic writing is full of the
exulting sense of this emancipation. These superconsiderations do not
belong in the world of experience as the humanist ordinarily conceives
of it. Hence, man lives in an immensely contracted, but a very real
and tangible world and within the small experimental circumference of
it, he holds a far larger place (from one viewpoint, a far smaller one
from another) than that of a finite creature caught in the snare of
this world and yet a child of the Eternal, having infinite destinies.
The humanist sees man as freed from the tyranny of this supernatural
revelation and laws. He rejoices over man because now he stands,

        "self-poised on manhood's solid earth
  Not forced to frame excuses for his birth,
  Fed from within with all the strength he needs."

It is this sense of independence which arouses in Goethe a perennial
enthusiasm. It is the greatest bliss, he says, that the humanist won
back for us. Henceforth, we must strive with all our power to keep it.

We have attempted this brief sketch of one of the chief sources of the
contemporary thought movement, that we may realize the pit whence we
were digged, the quarry from which many corner stones in the present
edifice of civilization were dug. The preacher tends to underestimate
the comprehensive character of the pervasive ideas, worked into many
institutions and practices, which are continually impinging upon him
and his message. They form a perpetual attrition, working silently and
ceaselessly day and night, wearing away the distinctively religious
conceptions of the community. Much of the vagueness and sentimentalism
of present preaching, its uncritical impressionism, is due to the
influence of the non-religious or, at least, the insufficiently
religious character of the ruling ideas and motives outside the church
which are impinging upon it, and upon the rest of the thinking of the

Now, this _abstract_ humanism of the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries had a considerable influence upon early American preaching.
The latter part of the eighteenth century marked a breaking away from
the Protestant scholasticism of the Reformation theology. The French
Revolution accented and made operative, even across the Atlantic, the
typical humanistic concepts of the rights of man and the sovereignty
of the individual person. Skepticism and even atheism became a fashion
in our infant republic. It was a mark of sophistication with
many educated men to regard Christianity as not worthy of serious
consideration. College students modestly admitted that they were
infidels and with a delicious naïveté assumed the names of Voltaire,
Thomas Paine and even of that notorious and notable egotist
Rousseau. It is said that in 1795, on the first Sunday of President
administration in Yale College, only three undergraduates remained
after service to take the sacrament. The reasons were partly
political, probably, but these themselves were grounded in the new
philosophical, anti-religious attitude.

Of course, this affected the churches. There was a reaction from
Protestant scholasticism within them which, later on, culminated in
Unitarianism, Universalism and Arminianism. The most significant thing
in the Unitarian movement was not its rejection of the Trinitarian
speculation, but its positive contribution to the reassertion of
Jesus' doctrine of the worth and dignity of human nature. But it
recovered that doctrine much more by the way of humanistic philosophy
than by way of the teaching of the New Testament. I suppose the
thing which has made the weakness of the Unitarian movement, its
acknowledged lack of religious warmth and feeling, is due not to the
place where it stands, but to the road by which it got there.

Yet, take it for all in all, the effect upon the preaching of the
supernatural and speculative doctrines and insights of Christianity,
was not in America as great as might be expected. Kant died in 1804,
and Goethe in 1832, but only in the last sixty years has the preaching
of the "evangelical" churches been fundamentally affected by the
prevailing intellectual currents of the day. This is due, I think,
to two causes. One was the nature of the German Reformation. It
found preaching at a low ebb. Every great force, scholastic, popular,
mystical, which had contributed to the splendor of the mediaeval
pulpit had fallen into decay, and the widespread moral laxity of the
clergy precluded spiritual insight. The Reformation, with its ethical
and political interests, revived preaching and by the nature of these
same interests fixed the limits and determined the direction within
which it should develop. It is important to remember that Luther did
not break with the old theological system. He continued his belief
in an authority and revelation anterior, exterior and superior to
man, merely shifting the locus of that authority from the Church
to the Book. Thus he paved the way for Zwingli and the Protestant
scholasticism which became more rigid and sterile than the Catholic
which it succeeded. We usually regard the Reformation as a part of the
Renaissance and hence included in the humanistic movement. Politically
and religiously, it undoubtedly should be so regarded, for it was
a chief factor in the renewal of German nationalism and its central
doctrines of justification by faith, and the right of each separate
believer to an unmediated access to the Highest, exalted the integrity
and dignity of the individual. Inconsistently, however, it continued
the old theological tradition. In the Lutheran system, says Paul de
Lagarde, we see the Catholic scholastic structure standing
untouched with the exception of a few loci. And Harnack, in the
_Dogmengeschichte_ calls it "a miserable duplication of the Catholic

Now, New England preaching, it is true, found its chief roots in
Calvinism; Calvin, rather than Luther, was the religious leader of
the Reformation outside Germany. But his system, also, is only
the continuation of the ancient philosophy of the Christian faith
originating with Augustine. He reduced it to order, expounded it with
energy and consistency, but one has only to recall its major doctrines
of the depravity of man, the atonement for sin, the irresistible grace
of the Holy Spirit, to see how untouched it was by the characteristic
postulates of the new humanism. And it was on his theology that New
England preaching was founded. It was Calvin who, through Jonathan
Edwards, the elder and the younger, Joseph Bellamy, Samuel Hopkins,
Nathaniel Emmons, Nathaniel N. Taylor, determined the course of the
New England pulpit.

The other reason for our relative immunity from humanistic influence
is accidental and complementary merely. It is the mere fact of our
physical isolation, which, until the last seventy-five years, quite
largely shut off thinkers here from continental and English currents
of thought and contributed to the brilliant, if sterile, provincialism
of the New England theology.

It is, therefore, to the second set of media, which may be generally
characterized as scientific and practical, that we now turn. These are
the forces which apparently are most affecting Christian preaching
at this moment. But it is important to remember that a large part
of their influence is to be traced to the philosophic and ethical
tendencies of the earlier humanistic movement which had set the scene
for them, to which they are so sympathetic that we may assert that
it is in them that their practical interests are grounded and by them
that their scientific methods are reinforced. I divide this second
group of media, for clearness, under three heads.

First comes the rise of the natural sciences. In 1859, Darwin
published the _Origin of Species_ and gave to the world the
evolutionary hypothesis, foreshadowed by Goethe and other
eighteenth-century thinkers, simultaneously formulated by Wallace
and himself. Here is a theory, open to objections certainly, not yet
conclusively demonstrated, but the most probable one which we yet
possess, as to the method of the appearance and the continuance of
life upon the planet. It conceives of creation as an unimaginably
long and intricate development from the inorganic to the organic, from
simple to complex forms of life. Like Kantianism and the humanistic
movement generally, the evolutionary hypothesis springs from reasoned
observation of man and nature, not from any _a priori_ or speculative
process. With this theory, long a regulative idea of our world,
preaching was forced to come to some sort of an understanding. It
strikes a powerful blow at the scholastic notion of a dichotomized
universe divided between nature and supernature, divine and human.
It reinforced humanism by minimizing, if not making unnecessary,
the objective and external source and external interpretations of
religions. It pushes back the initial creative _act_ until it is lost
in the mists and chaos of an unimaginably remote past. Meanwhile,
creative _energy_, the very essence of transcendent life, is, as we
know it, not transcendent at all, but working outward from within,
a part of the process, not above and beyond it. The inevitable
implication here is that God is sufficiently, if not exclusively,
known through natural and human media. Science recognizes Him in the
terms of its own categories as in and of His world, a part of all its
ongoings and developments. But His creative life is indistinguishable
from, if not identical with, its expressions. Here, then, is a
practical obliteration of the line once so sharply drawn between the
natural and the supernatural. Hence the demarcation between the divine
and human into mutually exclusive states has disappeared.

This would seem, then, to wipe out also any knowledge of absolute
values. Christian theism has interpreted God largely in static, final
terms. The craving for the absolute in the human mind, as witnessed by
the long course of the history of thought, as pathetically witnessed
to in the mixture of chicanery, fanaticism and insight of the modern
mystical and occult healing sects, is central and immeasurable. But
God, found, if at all, in the terms of a present process, is not
static and absolute, but dynamic and relative; indefinite, incomplete,
not final. And man's immense difference from Him, that sense of
the immeasurable space between creator and created, is strangely
contracted. The gulf between holiness and guiltiness tends also to
disappear. For our life would appear to be plastic and indefinite,
a process rather than a state, not open then to conclusive moral
estimates; incomplete, not fallen; life an orderly process, hence not
perverse but defensible; without known breaks or infringements, hence
relatively normal and sufficiently intelligible.

A second factor was the rise of the humane sciences. In the seventh
and eighth decades of the last century men were absorbed in the
discovery of the nature and extent of the material universe. But
beginning about 1890, interest swerved again toward man as its
most revealing study and most significant inhabitant. Anthropology,
ethnology, sociology, physical and functional psychology, came to
the front. Especially the humane studies of political science and
industrial economics were magnified because of the new and urgent
problems born of an industrial civilization and a capitalistic state.
The invention and perfection of the industrial machine had by now
thoroughly dislocated former social groupings, made its own ethical
standards and human problems. In the early days of the labor movement
William Morris wrote, "we have become slaves of the monster to which
invention has given birth." In 1853, shortly after the introduction of
the cotton gin into India, the Viceroy wrote: "The misery is scarcely
paralleled in the history of trade." (A large statement that!) "The
bones of the cotton workers whiten the plains of India."

But the temporary suffering caused by the immediate crowding out
of cottage industry and the abrupt increase in production was
insignificant beside the deeper influence, physical, moral, mental,
of the machine in changing the permanent habitat and the entire mode
of living for millions of human beings. It removed them from those
healthy rural surroundings which preserve the half-primitive,
half-poetic insight into the nature of things which comes from
relative isolation and close contact with the soil, to the nervous
tension, the amoral conditions, the airless, lightless ugliness of
the early factory settlements. Here living conditions were not merely
beastly; they were often bestial. The economic helplessness of the
factory hands reduced them to essential slavery. They must live where
the factory was, and could work only in one factory, for they could
not afford to move. Hence they must obey their industrial master in
every particular, since the raw material, the plant, the tools, the
very roof that covered them, were all his! In this new human condition
was a powerful reinforcement, from another angle of approach, of
the humanistic impulse. Man's interest in himself, which had been
sometimes that of the dilettante, largely imaginative and even
sentimental, was reinforced by man's new distress and became concrete
and scientific.

Thus man regarded himself and his own world with a new and urgent
attention. The methods and secondary causes of his intellectual,
emotional and volitional life began to be laid bare. The new situation
revealed the immense part played in shaping the personality and
the fate of the individual by inheritance and environment. The
Freudian doctrine, which traces conduct and habit back to early
or prenatal repressions, strengthens the interest in the physical
and materialistic sources of character and conduct in human life.
Behavioristic psychology, interpreting human nature in terms of
observation and action, rather than analysis and value judgments,
does the same. It tends to put the same emphasis upon the external and
sensationalistic aspects of human experience.

That, then, which is a central force in religion, the sense of the
inscrutability of human nature, the feeling of awe before the natural
processes, what Paul called the mystery of iniquity and the mystery of
godliness, tends to disappear. Wonder and confident curiosity succeed
humility and awe. That which is of the essence of religion, the sense
of helplessness coupled with the sense of responsibility, is stifled.
Whatever else the humane sciences have done, they have deepened man's
fascinated and narrowing absorption in himself and given him apparent
reason to believe that by analyzing the iron chain of cause and effect
which binds the process and admitting that it permits no deflection
or variation, he is making the further questions as to the origin,
meaning and destiny of that process either futile or superfluous. So
that, in brief, the check to speculative thinking and the repudiation
of central metaphysical concepts, which the earlier movement brought
about, has been accentuated and sealed by the humane sciences and the
new and living problems offered them for practical solution. Thus the
generation now ending has been carried beyond the point of combating
ancient doctrines of God and man, to the place where it has become
comparatively indifferent, rather than hostile, to any doctrine of
God, so absorbed is it in the physical functions, the temporal needs
and the material manifestations of human personality.

Finally, as the natural and humane sciences mark new steps in the
expanding humanistic movement, so in these last days, critical
scholarship, itself largely a product of the humanistic viewpoint, has
added another factor to the group. The new methods of historical and
literary criticism, of comparative investigation in religion and the
other arts, have exerted a vast influence upon contemporary religious
thought. They have not merely completed the breakdown of an arbitrary
and fixed external authority and rendered finally invalid the notion
of equal or verbal inspiration in sacred writings, but the present
tendency, especially in comparative religion, is to seek the source
of all so-called religious experience within the human consciousness;
particularly to derive it all from group experience. Here, then, is
a theory of religious origins which once more turns the spirit of man
back upon itself. Robertson Smith, Jane Harrison, Durkheim, rejecting
an earlier animistic theory, find the origin of religion not in
contemplation of the natural world and in the intuitive perception
of something more-than-world which lies behind it, but in the group
experience whose heightened emotional intensity and nervous energy
imparts to the one the exaltation of the many. Smith, in the _Religion
of the Semites_,[9] emphasizes, as the fundamental conception of
ancient religion, "the solidarity of the gods and their worshipers as
part of an organic society." Durkheim goes beyond this. There are
not at the beginning men and gods, but only the social group and the
collective emotions and representations which are generated through
membership in the group.

[Footnote 9: P. 32.]

Here, then, is humanism again carried to the very heart of the
citadel. Religion at its source contains no real perceptions of any
extra-human force or person. What seemed to be such perceptions
were only the felt participation of the individual in a collective
consciousness which is superindividual, but not superhuman and always
continuous with the individual consciousness. So that, whatever may or
may not be true later, the beginning of man's metaphysical interests,
his cosmic consciousness, his more-than-human contacts, is simply his
social experience, his collective emotions and representations. Thus
Durkheim: "We are able to say, in sum, that the religious individual
does not deceive himself when he believes in the existence of a moral
power upon which he depends and from which he holds the larger portion
of himself. That power exists; it is society. When the Australian
feels within himself the surging of a life whose intensity surprises
him, he is the dupe of no illusion; that exaltation is real, and it
is really the product of forces that are external and superior to the
individual."[10] Yes, but identical in kind and genesis with himself
and his own race. To Leuba, in his _Psychological Study of Religion_,
this has already become the accepted viewpoint. Whatever is enduring
and significant in religion is merely an expression of man's social
consciousness and experience, his sense of participation in a common
life. "Humanity, idealized and conceived as a manifestation of
creative energy, possesses surprising qualifications for a source
of religious inspiration." Professor Overstreet, in "The Democratic
Conception of God," _Hibbert Journal_, volume XI, page 409, says: "It
is this large figure, not simply of human but of cosmic society which
is to yield our God of the future. There is no place in the future for
an eternally perfect being and no need--society, democratic from end
to end, can brook no such radical class distinction as that between a
supreme being, favored with eternal and absolute perfection, and the
mass of beings doomed to the lower ways of imperfect struggle."

[Footnote 10: _Les Formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse_, p. 322.]

There is certainly a striking immediacy in such language. We leave for
later treatment the question as to the historical validity of such
an attitude. It certainly ignores some of the most distinguished and
fruitful concepts of trained minds; it rules out of court what are
to the majority of men real and precious factors in the religious
experience. It would appear to be another instance, among the many, of
the fallacy of identifying the part with the whole. But the effect
of such pervasive thought currents, the more subtle and unfightable
because indirect and disguised in popular appearance and influence,
upon the ethical and spiritual temper of religious leaders, the
very audacity of whose tasks puts them on the defensive, is vast
and incalculable. At the worst, it drives man into a mechanicalized
universe, with a resulting materialism of thought and life; at the
best, it makes him a pragmatist with amiable but immediate objectives,
just practical "results" as his guide and goal. Morality as, in
Antigone's noble phrase, "the unwritten law of heaven" sinks down and
disappears. There is no room here for the Job who abhors himself and
repents in dust and ashes nor for Plato's _One behind the Many_; no
perceptible room, in such a world, for any of the absolute values, the
transcendent interests, the ethics of idealism, any eschatology, or
for Christian theodicy. That which has been the typical contribution
of the religious perceptions in the past, namely, the comprehensive
vision of life and the world and time _sub specie aeternitatis_ is
here abandoned. Eternity is unreal or empty; we never heard the music
of the spheres. We are facing at this moment a disintegrating age.
Here is a prime reason for it. The spiritual solidarity of mankind
under the humanistic interpretation of life and destiny is dissolving
and breaking down. Humanism is ingenious and reasonable and clever but
it is too limited; it doesn't answer enough questions.

Before going on, in a future chapter, to discuss the question as to
what kind of preaching such a world-view, seen from the Christian
standpoint, needs, we are now to inquire what the effect of this
humanistic movement upon Christian preaching has already been.
That our preaching should have been profoundly influenced by it is
inevitable. Religion is not apart from the rest of life. The very
temperament of the speaker makes him peculiarly susceptible to the
intellectual and spiritual movements about him. What, then, has
humanism done to preaching? Has it worked to clarify and solidify
the essence of the religious position? Or has preaching declined and
become neutralized in religious quality under it?

First: it has profoundly affected Christian preaching about God.
The contemporary sermon on Deity minimizes or leaves out divine
transcendence; thus it starves one fundamental impulse in man--the
need and desire to look up. Instead of this transcendence modern
preaching emphasizes immanence, often to a naïve and ludicrous degree.
God is the being who is like us. Under the influence of that monistic
idealism, which is a derived philosophy of the humanistic impulse,
preaching lays all the emphasis upon divine immanence in sharpest
contrast either to the deistic transcendence of the eighteenth century
or the separateness and aloofness of the God of the Hebrew Scriptures,
or of the classic Greek theologies of Christianity. God is, of course;
that is, He is the informing principle in the natural and human
universe and essentially one with it. Present preaching does not
confess this identification but it evades rather than meets the
logical pantheistic conclusion. So our preaching has to do with God
in the common round of daily tasks; with sweeping a room to His glory;
with adoration of His presence in a sunset and worship of Him in a
star. Every bush's aflame with Him; there are sermons in stones and
poems in running brooks. Before us, even as behind, God is and all is
well. We are filled with a sort of intoxication with this intimate and
protective company of the Infinite; we are magnificently unabashed as
we familiarly approach Him. "Closer is He than breathing; nearer than
hands or feet." Not then by denying or condemning or distrusting the
world in which we live, not by asserting the differences between God
and humanity do we understand Him. But by closest touch with nature
do we find Him. By a superb paradox, not without value, yet equally
ineffable in sentimentality and sublime in its impiety we say,
beholding man, "that which is most human is most divine!"

That there is truth in such comfortable and affable preaching is
obvious; that there is not much truth in it is obvious, too. To
what extent, and in what ways, nature, red with tooth and claw,
indifferent, ruthless, whimsical, can be called the expression of the
Christian God, is not usually specifically stated. In what way man,
just emerging from the horror, the shame, the futility of his last and
greatest debauch of bloody self-destruction, can be called the chief
medium of truth, holiness and beauty, the matrix of divinity, is not
entirely manifest. But the fatal defect of such preaching is not that
there is not, of course, a real identity between the world and its
Maker, the soul and its Creator, but that the aspect of reality which
this truth expresses is the one which has least religious value, is
least distinctive in the spiritual experience. The religious nature is
satisfied, and the springs of moral action are refreshed by dwelling
on the "specialness" of God; men are brought back to themselves, not
among their fellows and by identifying them with their fellows, but
by lifting them to the secret place of the Most High. They need
religiously not thousand-tongued nature, but to be kept secretly in
His pavilion from the strife of tongues. It is the difference between
God and men which makes men who know themselves trust Him. It is the
"otherness," not the sameness, which makes Him desirable and potent in
the daily round of life. A purely ethical interest in God ceases to be
ethical and becomes complacent; when we rule out the supraphenomenal
we have shut the door on the chief strength of the higher life.

Second: modern preaching, under this same influence and to a yet
greater degree, emphasizes the principle of identity, where we need
that of difference, in its preaching about Jesus. He is still the most
moving theme for the popular presentation of religion. But that
is because He offers the most intelligible approach to that very
"otherness" in the person of the godhead. His healing and reconciling
influence over the heart of man--the way the human spirit expands and
blossoms in His presence--is moving beyond expression to any observer,
religious or irreligious. Each new crusade in the long strife for
human betterment looks in sublime confidence to Him as its forerunner
and defense. To what planes of common service, faith, magnanimous
solicitude could He not lift the embittered, worldlyized men and women
of this torn and distracted age, which is so desperately seeking its
own life and thereby so inexorably losing it! But why is the heart
subdued, the mind elevated, the will made tractable by Him? Why,
because He is enough like us so that we know that He understands, has
utter comprehension; and He is enough different from us so that we are
willing to trust Him. In what lies the essence of the leadership of
Jesus? He is not like us: therefore, we are willing to relinquish
ourselves into His hands.

Now, that is only half the truth. But if I may use a paradox, it is
the important half, the primary half. And it is just that essential
element in the Christian experience of Jesus that modern preaching,
under the humanistic impulse, is neglecting. Indeed, liberal preachers
have largely ceased to sermonize about Him, just because it has become
so easy! Humanism has made Jesus obvious, hence, relatively impotent.
With its unified cosmos, its immanent God, its exalted humanity, the
whole Christological problem has become trivial. It drops the cosmic
approach to the person of Jesus in favor of the ethical. It does not
approach Him from the side of God; we approach nothing from that
side now; but from the side of man. Thus He is not so much a divine
revelation as He is a human achievement. Humanity and divinity are
one in essence. The Creator is distinguished from His creatures in
multifarious differences of degree but not in kind. We do not see,
then, in Christ, a perfect isolated God, joined to a perfect isolated
man, in what were indeed the incredible terms of the older and
superseded Christologies. But rather, He is the perfect revelation of
the moral being, the character of God, in all those ways capable of
expression or comprehension in human life, just because he is the
highest manifestation of a humanity through which God has been forever
expressing Himself in the world. For man is, so to speak, his own
cosmic center; the greatest divine manifestation which we know.
Granted, then, an ideal man, a complete moral being, and _ipso facto_
we have our supreme revelation of God.

So runs the thrice familiar argument. Of course, we have gained
something by it. We may drop gladly the old dualistic philosophy, and
we must drop it, though I doubt if it is so easy to drop the dualistic
experience which created it. But I beg to point out that, on the
whole, we have lost more religiously than we have gained. For we have
made Jesus easy to understand, not as He brings us up to His level,
but as we have reduced Him to ours. Can we afford to do that?
Bernard's mystical line, "The love of Jesus, what it is, none but His
loved ones know," has small meaning here. The argument is very good
humanism but it drops the word "Saviour" out of the vocabulary
of faith. Oh, how many sermons since, let us say, 1890, have been
preached on the text, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."
And how uniformly the sermons have explained that the text means
not that Jesus is like God, but that God is like Jesus--and we have
already seen that Jesus is like us! One only has to state it all to
see beneath its superficial reasonableness its appalling profanity!

Third: we may see the influence of humanism upon our preaching in the
relinquishment of the goal of conversion. We are preaching to educate,
not to save; to instruct, not to transform. Conversion may be gradual
and half-unconscious, a long and normal process under favorable
inheritance and with the culture of a Christian environment. Or it
may be sudden and catastrophic, a violent change of emotional and
volitional activity. When a man whose feeling has been repressed by
sin and crusted over by deception, whose inner restlessness has been
accumulating under the misery and impotence of a divided life, is
brought into contact with Christian truth, he can only accept it
through a volitional crisis, with its cleansing flood of penitence and
confession and its blessed reward of the sense of pardon and peace and
the relinquishment of the self into the divine hands. But one thing is
true of either process in the Christian doctrine of conversion. It is
not merely an achievement, although it is that; it is also a rescue.
It cannot come about without faith, the "will to believe"; neither can
it come about by that alone. Conversion is something we do; it is also
something else, working within us, if we will let it, helping us to
do; hence it is something done for us.

Now, this experience of conversion is passing out of Christian
life and preaching under humanistic influence. We are accepting
the Socratic dictum that knowledge is virtue. Hence we blur the
distinction between the Christian and the non-Christian. Education
supplants salvation. We bring the boys and girls into the church
because they are safer there than outside it; and on the whole it is
a good thing to do and really they belong there anyway. The church
member is a man of the world, softened by Christian feeling. He is
a kindly and amiable citizen and an honorable man; he has not been
saved. But he knows the unwisdom of evil; if you know what is right
you will do it. Intelligence needs no support from grace. It is
strange that the church does not see that with this relinquishment
of her insistence upon something that religion can do for a man that
nothing else can attempt, she has thereby given up her real excuse for
being, and that her peculiar and distinctive mission has gone. It is
strange that she does not see that the humanism which, since it is
at home in the world, can sometimes make there a classic hero,
degenerates dreadfully and becomes unreal in a church where unskilled
hands use it to make it a substitute for a Christian saint! But
for how many efficient parish administrators, Y.M.C.A. secretaries,
up-to-date preachers, character is conceived of as coming not by
discipline but by expansion, not by salvation, but by activity. Social
service solves everything without any reference to the troublesome
fact that the value of the service will depend upon the quality of the
servant. Salvation is a combination of intelligence and machinery. Sin
is pure ignorance or just maladjustment to environment. All we need is
to know what is right and wrong; the humane sciences will take care of
that; and, then, have an advertising agent, a gymnasium, a committee
on spiritual resources, a program, a conference, a drive for money,
and behold, the Kingdom of God is among us!

Fourth, and most significant: it is to the humanistic impulse and
its derived philosophies that we owe the individualistic ethics, the
relative absence of the sense of moral responsibility for the social
order which has, from the beginning, maimed and distorted Protestant
Christianity. It was, perhaps, a consequence of the speculative
and absolute philosophies of the mediaeval church that, since they
endeavored to relate religion to the whole of the cosmos, its
remotest and ultimate issues, so they conceived of its absoluteness as
concerned with the whole of human experience, with every relation of
organized society. Under their regulative ideas all human beings, not
a selected number, had, not in themselves but because of the Divine
Sacrifice, divine significance; reverence was had, not for supermen or
captains of industry, but for every one of those for whom Christ died.
There were no human institutions which were ends in themselves or
more important than the men which created and served them. The Holy
Catholic Church was the only institution which was so conceived; all
others, social, political, economic, were means toward the end of the
preservation and expression of human personality. Hence, the interest
of the mediaeval church in social ethics and corporate values; hence,
the axiom of the church's control of, the believers' responsibility
for, the economic relations of society. An unjust distribution of
goods, the withholding from the producer of his fair share of the
wealth which he creates, profiteering, predatory riches--these were
ranked under one term as avarice, and they were counted not among
the venial offenses, like aberrations of the flesh, but avarice was
considered one of the seven deadly sins of the spirit. The application
of the ethics of Jesus to social control began to die out as
humanism individualized Christian morals and as, under its influence,
nationalism tended to supplant the international ecclesiastical order.
The cynical and sordid maxim that business is business; that, in the
economic sphere, the standards of the church are not operative and the
responsibility of the church is not recognized--notions which are
a chief heresy and an outstanding disgrace of nineteenth-century
religion, from which we are only now painfully and slowly
reacting--these may be traced back to the influence of humanism upon
Christian thought and conduct.

In general, then, it seems to me abundantly clear that the humanistic
movement has both limited and secularized Christian preaching. It
dogmatically ignores supersensuous values; hence it has rationalized
preaching hence it has made provincial its intellectual approach and
treatment, narrowed and made mechanical its content. It has turned
preaching away from speculative to practical themes. It was,
perhaps, this mental and spiritual decline of the ministry to which a
distinguished educator referred when he told a body of Congregational
preachers that their sermons were marked by "intellectual frugality."
It is this which a great New England theologian-preacher, Dr. Gordon,
means when he says "an indescribable pettiness, a mean kind of retail
trade has taken possession of the preachers; they have substituted the
mill-round for the sun-path."

The whole world today tends toward a monstrous egotism. Man's
attention is centered on himself, his temporal salvation, his external
prosperity. Preaching, yielding partly to the intellectual and partly
to the practical environment, has tended to adopt the same secular
scale of values, somewhat pietized and intensified, and to move within
the same area of operation. That is why most preaching today deals
with relations of men with men, not of men with God. Yet human
relationships can only be determined in the light of ultimate ones.
Most preaching instinctively avoids the definitely religious themes;
deals with the ethical aspects of devotion; with conduct rather than
with worship; with the effects, not the causes, the expression, not
the essence of the religious life. Most college preaching chiefly
amounts to informal talks on conduct; somewhat idealized discussions
of public questions; exhortations to social service. When sermons do
deal with ultimate sanctions they can hardly be called Christian. They
are often stoical; self-control is exalted as an heroic achievement,
as being self-authenticating, carrying its own reward. Or they are
utilitarian, giving a sentimentalized or frankly shrewd doctrine of
expediencies, the appeal to an exaggerated self-respect, enlightened
self-interest, social responsibility. These are typical humanistic
values; they are real and potent and legitimate. But they are not
religious and they do not touch religious motives. The very difference
between the humanist and the Christian lies here. To obey a principle
is moral and admirable; to do good and be good because it pays is
sensible; but to act from love of a person is a joyous ecstasy, a
liberation of power; it alone transforms life with an ultimate and
enduring goodness. Genuine Christian preaching makes its final appeal,
not to fear, not to hope, not to future rewards and punishments, not
to reason or prudence or benevolence. It makes its appeal to love,
and that means that it calls men to devotion to a living Being, a
Transcendence beyond and without us. For you cannot love a principle,
or relinquish yourself to an idea. You must love another living
Being. Which amounts to saying that humanism just because it is
self-contained is self-condemned. It minimizes or ignores the living
God, in His world, but not to be identified with it; beyond it and
above it; loving it because it needs to be loved; blessing it because
saving it. In so doing, it lays the axe at the very root of the tree
of religion. Francis Xavier, in his greatest of all hymns, has stated
once for all the essence of the Christian motive and the religious

  "O Deus, ego amo te
  Nec amo te ut salves me
  Aut quia non amantes te
  Aeternis punis igne.

  "Nee praemii illius spe
  Sed sicut tu amasti me
  Sic amo et amabo te
  Solem, quia Rex meus est."

What, then, has been the final effect of humanism upon preaching? It
has tempted the preacher to depersonalize religion. And since love is
the essence of personality, it has thereby stripped preaching of the
emotional energy, of the universal human interests and the
prophetic insight which only love can bestow. Over against this
depersonalization, we must find some way to return to expressing the
religious view and utilizing the religious power of the human spirit.



We ventured to say in the preceding chapter that, under the influences
of more than three centuries of humanism, the spiritual solidarity of
mankind is breaking down. For humanism makes an inhuman demand upon
the will; it minimizes the force of the subrational and it largely
ignores the superrational elements in human experience; it does not
answer enough questions. Indeed, it is frankly confessed, particularly
by students of the political and economic forces now working in
society, that the new freedom born in the Renaissance is, in some
grave sense, a failure. It destroyed what had been the common moral
authority of European civilization in its denial of the rule of the
church. But for nearly four centuries it has become increasingly clear
that it offered no adequate substitute for the supernatural moral and
religious order which it supplanted. John Morley was certainly one of
the most enlightened and humane positivists of the last generation.
In his _Recollections_, published three years ago, there is a final
paragraph which runs as follows: "A painful interrogatory, I must
confess, emerges. Has not your school held the civilized world,
both old and new alike, in the hollow of their hand for two long
generations past? Is it quite clear that their influence has been
so much more potent than the gospel of the various churches?
_Circumspice_. Is not diplomacy, unkindly called by Voltaire the field
of lies, as able as ever it was to dupe governments and governed by
grand abstract catchwords veiling obscure and inexplicable purposes,
and turning the whole world over with blood and tears, to a strange
Witch's Sabbath?"[11] This is his conclusion of the whole matter.

[Footnote 11: _Recollections_: II, p. 366 ff.]

But while the reasons for the failure are not far to seek, it is worth
while for the preacher to dwell on them for a moment. In strongly
centered souls like a Morley or an Erasmus, humanism produces a
stoical endurance and a sublime self-confidence. But it tends, in
lesser spirits, to a restless arrogance. Hence, both those lower
elements in human nature, the nature and extent of whose force it
either cloaks or minimizes, and those imponderable and supersensuous
values which it tends to ignore and which are not ordinarily included
in its definition of experience, return to vex and plague it. Indeed
the worst foe of humanism has never been the religious view of the
world upon whose stored-up moral reserves of uncompromising doctrine
it has often half-consciously subsisted. Humanism has long profited
from the admitted truth that the moral restraints of an age that
possesses an authoritative and absolute belief survive for some time
after the doctrine itself has been rejected. What has revealed the
incompleteness of the humanistic position has been its constant
tendency to decline into naturalism; a tendency markedly accelerated
today. Hence, we find ourselves in a disintegrating and distracted
epoch. In 1912 Rudolph Eucken wrote: "The moral solidarity of mankind
is dissolved. Sects and parties are increasing; common estimates and
ideals keep slipping away from us; we understand one another less
and less. Even voluntary associations, that form of unity peculiar to
modern times, unite more in achievement than in disposition, bring men
together outwardly rather than inwardly. The danger is imminent that
the end may be _bellum omnium contra omnes_, a war of all against

[Footnote 12: _Harvard Theo. Rev._, vol. V, no. 3, p. 277.]

That disintegration is sufficiently advanced so that we can see the
direction it is taking and the principle that inspires it. Humanism
has at least the value of an objective standard in the sense that it
sets up criteria which are without the individual; it substitutes a
collective subjectivism, if we may use the term, for personal whim
and impulse. Thus it proclaims a classic standard of moderation in all
things, the golden mean of the Greeks, Confucius' and Gautama's law
of measure. It proposes to bring the primitive and sensual element in
man under critical control; to accomplish this it relies chiefly upon
its amiable exaggeration of the reasonableness of human nature. But
the Socratic dictum that knowledge is virtue was the product of a
personality distinguished, if we accept the dialogues of Plato, by
a perfect harmony of thought and feeling. Probably it is not wise to
build so important a rule upon so distinguished an exception!

But the positive defect of humanism is more serious. It likewise
proposes to rationalize those supersensuous needs and convictions
which lie in the imaginative, the intuitive ranges of experience.
The very proposal carries a denial of their value-in-themselves.
Its inevitable result in the humanist is their virtual ignoring. The
greatest of all the humanists of the Orient was Confucius. "I venture
to ask about death," said a disciple to the sage. "While you do not
know life," replied he, "how can you know about death?"[13] Even more
typical of the humanistic attitude towards the distinctively religious
elements of experience are other sayings of Confucius, such as: "To
give oneself earnestly to the duties due to men, and while respecting
spiritual beings, to keep aloof from them may be called wisdom."[13]
The precise area of humanistic interests is indicated in another
observation. "The subjects on which the Master did not talk were
... disorder and spiritual beings."[13] For the very elements of
experience which humanism belittles or avoids are found in the world
where pagans like Rabelais robustly jest or the high spaces where
souls like Newman meditate and pray. The humanist appears to be
frightened by the one and repelled by the other; will not or cannot
see life steadily and whole. That a powerful primitivistic faith,
like Taoism, a sort of religious bohemianism, should flourish beside
such pragmatic and passionless moderation as classic Confucianism is
inevitable; that the worship of Amida Buddha, the Buddha of redemption
and a future heaven, of a positive and eternal bliss, should be the
Chinese form of the Indian faith is equally intelligible. After a like
manner it is the humanism of our Protestant preaching today from which
men are defecting into utter worldliness and indifference on the one
hand and returning to mediaeval and Catholic forms of supernaturalism
on the other.

[Footnote 13: _Analects_, XI, CXI; VI, CXX.]

For the primitive in man is a beast whom it is hard to chain nor does
humanism with its semi-scientific, semi-sentimental laudation of all
natural values produce that exacting mood of inward scrutiny in which
self-control has most chance of succeeding. Hence here, as elsewhere
on the continent, and formerly in China, in Greece and in Rome, a sort
of neo-paganism has been steadily supplanting it.

To the study of this neo-paganism we now address ourselves. It is
the third and lowest of those levels of human experience to which we
referred in the first lecture. The naturalist, you may remember,
is that incorrigible individual who imagines that he is a law unto
himself, that he may erect his person into a sovereign over the whole
universe. He perversely identifies discipline with repression and
makes the unlimited the goal both of imagination and conduct. Oscar
Wilde's epigrams, and more particularly his fables, are examples of
a thoroughgoing naturalist's insolent indifference to any form of
restraint. All things, whether holy or bestial, were material for his
topsy-turvy wit, his literally unbridled imagination. No humanistic
law of decency, that is to say, a proper respect for the opinions of
mankind, and no divine law of reverence and humility, acted for him
as a restraining force or a selective principle. An immediate and
significant example of this naturalistic riot of feeling, with its
consequent false and anarchic scale of values, is found in the
film dramas of the moving picture houses. Unreal extravagance of
imagination, accompanied by the debauch of the aesthetic and moral
judgment, frequently distinguishes them. In screenland, it is the
vampire, the villain, the superman, the saccharine angel child,
who reign almost undisputed. Noble convicts, virtuous courtesans,
attractive murderers, good bad men, and ridiculous good men, flit
across the canvas haloed with cheap sentimentality. Opposed to them,
in an ever losing struggle, are those conventional figures who stand
for the sober realities of an orderly and disciplined world; the
judge, the policeman, the mere husband. These pitiable and laughable
figures are always outwitted; they receive the fate which indeed, in
any primitive society, they so richly deserve!

How deeply sunk in the modern world are the roots of this naturalism
is shown by its long course in history, paralleling humanism. It has
seeped down through the Protestant centuries in two streams. One is
a sort of scientific naturalism. It exalts material phenomena and the
external order, issues in a glorification of elemental impulses, an
attempted return to childlike spontaneous living, the identifying of
man's values with those of primitive nature. The other is an emotional
naturalism, of which Maeterlinck is at the moment a brilliant and
lamentable example. This exchanges the world of sober conduct,
intelligible and straightforward thinking for an unfettered dreamland,
compounded of fairy beauty, flashes of mystical and intuitive
understanding intermixed with claptrap magic, a high-flown
commercialism and an etherealized sensuality.

Rousseau represents both these streams in his own person. His
sentimentalized egotism and bland sensuality pass belief. His
sensitive spirit dissolves in tears over the death of his dog but he
bravely consigns his illegitimate children to the foundling asylum
without one tremor. In his justly famous and justly infamous
_Confessions_, he presents himself Satan-wise before the Almighty at
the last Judgment, these _Confessions_ in his hand, a challenge to the
remainder of the human race upon his lips. "Let a single one assert
to Thee, if he dare: I am better than that man." But his preachment
of natural and spontaneous values, return to primitive conditions,
was equally aggressive. If anyone wants to inspect the pit whence the
Montessori system of education was digged, let him read Rousseau, who
declared that the only habit a child should have is the habit of not
having a habit, or his contemporary disciple, George Moore, who says
that one should be ashamed of nothing except of being ashamed.
There are admirable features in the schooling-made-easy system. It
recognizes the fitness of different minds for different work; that
the process of education need not and should not be forbidding; that
natural science has been subordinated overmuch to the humanities; that
the imagination and the hand should be trained with the intellect.
But the method which proposes to give children an education along
the lines of least resistance is, like all other naturalism, a
contradiction in terms, sometimes a _reductio ad absurdum_, sometimes
_ad nauseam_. As long ago as 1893, when Huxley wrote his Romanes
lecture on _Evolution and Ethics_, this identity of natural and human
values was explicitly denied. Teachers do not exist for the amusement
of children, nor for the repression of children; they exist for
the discipline of children. The new education is consistently
primitivistic in the latitude which it allows to whim and in its
indulgence of indolence. There is only one way to make a man out of
a child; to teach him that happiness is a by-product of achievement;
that pleasure is an accompaniment of labor; that the foundation of
self-respect is drudgery well done; that there is no power in any
system of philosophy, any view of the world, no view of the world,
which can release him from the unchanging necessity of personal
struggle, personal consecration, personal holiness in human life.
"That wherein a man cannot be equaled," says Confucius, "is his work
which other men cannot see."[14] The humanist, at least, does not
blink the fact that we are caught in a serious and difficult world. To
rail at it, to deny it, to run hither and thither like scurrying rats
to evade it, will not alter one jot or one tittle of its inexorable

[Footnote 14: _Doctrine of the Mean_, ch. xxxiii, v. 2.]

Following Rousseau and Chateaubriand come a striking group of
Frenchmen who passed on this torch of ethical and aesthetic rebellion.
Some of them are wildly romantic like Dumas and Hugo; some of them
perversely realistic like Balzac, Flaubert, Gautier, Zola. Paul
Verlaine, a near contemporary of ours, is of this first number; writer
of some of the most exquisite lyrics in the French language, yet a man
who floated all his life in typical romantic fashion from passion
to repentance, "passing from lust of the flesh to sorrow for sin in
perpetual alternation." Guy de Maupassant again is a naturalist of
the second sort, a brutal realist; de Maupassant, who died a suicide,
crying out to his valet from his hacked throat "_Encore l'homme au
rancart_!"--another carcass to the dustheap!

In English letters Wordsworth in his earlier verse illustrated the
same sentimental primitivism. It would be unfair to quote _Peter
Bell_, for that is Wordsworth at his dreadful worst, but even in
_Tinlern Abbey_, which has passages of incomparable majesty and
beauty, there are lines in which he declares himself:

  "... well pleased to recognize
  In nature, and the language of the sense
  The anchor of my purest thought, the nurse,
  The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
  Of all my moral being."

Byron's innate sophistication saves him from the ludicrous depths to
which Wordsworth sometimes fell, but he, too, is Rousseau's disciple,
a moral rebel, a highly personal and subjective poet of whom Goethe
said that he respected no law, human or divine, except that of the
three unities. Byron's verse is fascinating; it overflows with a sort
of desperate and fiery sincerity; but, as he himself says, his life
was one long strife of "passion with eternal law." He combines both
the romantic and the realistic elements of naturalism, both flames
with elemental passion and parades his cynicism, is forever snapping
his mood in _Don Juan_, alternating extravagant and romantic feeling
with lines of sardonic and purposely prosaic realism. Shelley is a
naturalist, too, not in the realm of sordid values but of Arcadian
fancy. The pre-Raphaelites belong here, together with a group of young
Englishmen who flourished between 1890 and 1914, of whom John Davidson
and Richard Middleton, both suicides, are striking examples. Poor
Middleton turned from naturalism to religion at the last. When he had
resolved on death, he wrote a message telling what he was about to do,
parting from his friend with brave assumption of serenity. But he did
not send the postcard, and in the last hour of that hired bedroom in
Brussels, with the bottle of chloroform before him, he traced across
the card's surface "a broken and a contrite spirit thou wilt not
despise." So there was humility at the last. One remembers rather
grimly what the clown says in _Twelfth Night_,

  "Pleasure will be paid some time or other."

This same revolt against the decencies and conventions of our humanist
civilization occupies a great part of present literature. How far
removed from the clean and virile stoicism of George Meredith or the
honest pessimism of Thomas Hardy is Arnold Bennett's _The Pretty Lady_
or Galsworthy's _The Dark Flower_. Finally, in this country we need
only mention, if we may descend so far, such naturalists in literature
as Jack London, Robert Chambers and Gouverneur Morris. One's only
excuse for referring to them is that they are vastly popular with the
people whom you and I try to interest in sermons, to whom we talk on

Of course, this naturalism in letters has its accompanying and
interdependent philosophic theory, its intellectual interpretation
and defense. As Kant is the noblest of the moralists, so I suppose
William James and, still later, Henri Bergson and Croce are the chief
protagonists of unrestrained feeling and naturalistic values in the
world of thought. To the neo-realists "the thing given" is alone
reality. James' pragmatism frankly relinquishes any absolute standard
in favor of relativity. In _the Varieties of Religious Experience_,
which Professor Babbitt tells us someone in Cambridge suggested should
have had for a subtitle "Wild Religions I Have Known," he is plainly
more interested in the intensity than in the normality, in the
excesses than in the essence of the religious life. Indeed, Professor
Babbitt quotes him as saying in a letter to Charles Eliot Norton,
"mere sanity is the most Philistine and at the bottom most unessential
of a man's attributes."[15] In the same way Bergson, consistently
anti-Socratic and discrediting analytical intellect, insists that
whatever unity may be had must come through instinct, not analysis.
He refuses to recognize Plato's _One in the Many_, sees the whole
universe as "a perpetual gushing forth of novelties," a universal and
meaningless flux. Surrender to this eternal flux, he appears to say,
and then we shall gain reality. So he relies on impulse, instinct, his
_elan vital_, which means, I take it, on man's subrational emotions.
We call it Intuitionism, but such philosophy in plain and bitter
English is the intellectual defense and solemn glorification of
impulse. "Time," says Bergson, "is a continuous stream, a present that
endures."[16] Time apparently is all. "Life can have no purpose in the
human sense of the word."[17] Essentially, then, James, Bergson and
Croce appeal from intellect to feeling. They return to primitivism.

[Footnote 15: Letter to C.E. Norton, June 30, 1904.]

[Footnote 16: _Le Perception de Changement_, 30.]

[Footnote 17: _L'evolution creatrice_, 55.]

Here is a philosophy which obviously may be both as antihumanistic and
as irreligious as any which could well be conceived. Here is license
in conduct and romanticism in expression going hand in hand with
this all but exclusive emphasis upon relativity in thought. Here is
disorder, erected as a universal concept; the world conceived of as
a vast and impenetrable veil which is hiding nothing; an intricacy
without pattern. Obviously so ungoverned and fluid a universe
justifies uncritical and irresponsible thinking and living.

We have tried thus to sketch that declension into paganism on the
part of much of the present world, of which we spoke earlier in the
chapter. It denies or ignores the humanistic law with its exacting
moral and aesthetic standards; it openly flouts the attitude of
obedience and humility before religious mandates, and, so far as
opportunity offers or prudence permits, goes its own insolently wanton
way. Our world is full of dilettanti in the colleges, anarchists in
the state, atheists in the church, bohemians in art, sybarites in
conduct and ineffably silly women in society, who have felt, and
occasionally studied the scientific and naturalistic movement just far
enough and superficially enough to grasp the idea of relativity and
to exalt it as sufficient and complete in itself. Many of them are
incapable of realizing the implications for conduct and belief which
it entails. Others of them, who are of the lesser sort, pulled by
the imperious hungers of the flesh, the untutored instincts of a
restless spirit, hating Hellenic discipline no less than Christian
renunciation, having no stomach either for self-control or
self-surrender, look out on the mass of endlessly opposing
complexities of the modern world and gladly use that vision as an
excuse for abandoning what is indeed the ever failing but also the
ever necessary struggle to achieve order, unity, yes, even perfection.

To them, therefore, the only way to conquer a temptation is to yield
to it. They rail nonsensically at all repression, forgetting that man
cannot express the full circle of his mutually exclusive instincts,
and that when he gives rein to one he thereby negates another;
that choice, therefore, is inevitable and that the more exacting
and critical the choice, the more valuable and comprehensive the
expression. So they frankly assert their choices along the lines of
least resistance and abandon themselves, at least in principle, to
emotional chaos and moral sentimentalism. Very often they are of all
men the most meticulously mannered. But their manners are not the
decorum of the humanist, they are the etiquette of the worldling.
Chesterfield had these folk in mind when he spoke with an intolerable,
if incisive, cynicism of those who know the art of combining the
useful appearances of virtue with the solid satisfactions of vice.

Such naturalism is sometimes tolerated by those who aspire to urbane
and liberal judgments because they think it can be defended on
humanistic grounds. But, as a matter of fact, it is as offensive to
the thoroughgoing humanist as it is to the sincere religionist.
They have a common quarrel with it. Take, for example, the notorious
naturalistic doctrine of art for art's sake, the defiant divorcing of
ethical and aesthetic values. Civilization no less than religion
must fight this. For it is as false in experience and as unclear in
thinking as could well be imagined. Its defense, so far as it has
any, is based upon the confusion in the pagan mind of morality with
moralizing, a confusion that no good humanist would ever permit
himself. Of course, the end of art is neither preaching nor teaching
but delighting. For that very reason, however, art, too, must
conform--hateful word!--conform to fixed standards. For the sense of
proportion, the instinct for elimination, is integral to art and this,
as Professor Babbitt points out, is attained only with the aid of
the ethical imagination.[18] Because without the ethical restraint,
the creative spirit roams among unbridled emotions; art becomes
impressionism. What it then produces may indeed be picturesque,
melodramatic, sensual, but it will not be beautiful because there
will be no imaginative wholeness in it. In other words, the artist
who divorces aesthetics from ethics does gain creative license, but
he gains it at the expense of a balanced and harmonious expression.
If you do not believe it, compare the Venus de Milo with the Venus de
Medici or a Rubens fleshy, spilling-out-of-her-clothes Magdalen with
a Donatello Madonna. When ethical restraint disappears, art tends to
caricature, it becomes depersonalized. The Venus de Milo is a living
being, a great personage; indeed, a genuine and gracious goddess. The
Venus de Medici has scarcely any personality at all; she is chiefly
objectified desire! The essence of art is not spontaneous expression
nor naked passion; the essence of art is critical expression,
restrained passion.

[Footnote 18: _Rousseau and Romanticism_, p. 206.]

Now, such extreme naturalism has been the continuing peril and the
arch foe of every successive civilization. It is the "reversion to
type" of the scientist, the "natural depravity" of the older theology,
the scoffing devil, with his eternal no! in Goethe's _Faust_. It tends
to accept all powerful impulses as thereby justified, all vital and
novel interests as _ipso facto_ beautiful and good. Nothing desirable
is ugly or evil. It pays no attention, except to ridicule them, to
the problems that vex high and serious souls: What is right and wrong?
What is ugly and beautiful? What is holy and what is profane? It
either refuses to admit the existence of these questions or else
asserts that, as insoluble, they are also negligible problems. To all
such stupid moralizing it prefers the click of the castanets! The
law, then, of this naturalism always and everywhere is the law of
rebellion, of ruthless self-assertion, of whim and impulse, of cunning
and of might.

You may wonder why we, being preachers, have spent so much time
talking about it. Folk of this sort do not ordinarily flock to the
stenciled walls and carpeted floors of our comfortable, middle-class
Protestant meeting-houses. They are not attracted by Tiffany glass
windows, nor the vanilla-flavored music of a mixed quartet, nor the
oddly assorted "enrichments" we have dovetailed into a once puritan
order of worship. That is true, but it is also true that these are
they who need the Gospel; also that these folk do influence the
time-current that enfolds us and pervades the very air we breathe and
that they and their standards are profoundly influencing the youth of
this generation. You need only attend a few college dances to be sure
of that! One of the sad things about the Protestant preacher is his
usual willingness to move in a strictly professional society and
activity, his lack of extra-ecclesiastical interests, hence his narrow
and unskillful observations and perceptions outside his own parish and
his own field.

Moreover, there are other forms in which naturalism is dominating
modern society. It began, like all movements, in literature and
philosophy and individual bohemianism; but it soon worked its way
into social and political and economic organizations. Now, when we are
dealing with them we are dealing with the world of the middle class;
this is our world. And here we find naturalism today in its most
brutal and entrenched expressions. Here it confronts every preacher
on the middle aisle of his Sunday morning congregation. We are
continually forgetting this because it is a common fallacy of our
hard-headed and prosperous parishioners to suppose that the vagaries
of philosophers and the maunderings of poets have only the slightest
practical significance. But few things could be further from the
truth. It is abstract thought and pure feeling which are perpetually
moulding the life of office and market and street. It has sometimes
been the dire mistake of preaching that it took only an indifferent
and contemptuous interest in such contemporary movements in literature
and art. Its attitude toward them has been determined by temperamental
indifference to their appeal. It forgets the significance of their
intellectual and emotional sources. This is, then, provincialism and
obtuseness and nowhere are they by their very nature more indefensible
or more disastrous than in the preacher of religion.

Let us turn, then, to those organized expressions of society where
our own civilization is strained the most, where it is nearest to the
breaking point, namely, to our industrial and political order. Let us
ask ourselves if we do not find this naturalistic philosophy regnant
there. That we are surrounded by widespread industrial revolt, that we
see obvious political decadence on the one hand, and a determination
to experiment with fresh governmental processes on the other, few
would deny. It would appear to me that in both cases the revolt and
the decadence are due to that fierce, short creed of rebellion against
humane no less than religious standards, which has more and more
governed our national economic systems and our international political
intercourse. Let me begin with business and industry as they existed
before the war. I paint a general picture; there are many and notable
exceptions to it, human idealism there is in plenty, but it and they
only prove the rule. And as I paint the picture, ask yourselves the
two questions which should interest us as preachers regarding it.
First, by which of these three laws of human development, religious,
humanistic, naturalistic, has it been largely governed? Secondly, by
what law are men now attempting to solve its present difficulties?

The present industrial situation is the product of two causes. One
of them was the invention of machinery and the discovery of steam
transit. These multiplied production. They made accessible unexploited
sources of raw material and new markets for finished goods. The
opportunities for lucrative trading and the profitableness of
overproduction which they made possible became almost immeasurable.
Before these discoveries western society was generally agricultural,
accompanied by cottage industries and guild trades. It was largely
made up of direct contacts and controlled by local interests. After
them it became a huge industrial empire of ramified international

The second factor in the situation was the intellectual and spiritual
nature of the society which these inventions entered. It was, as we
have seen, essentially humanistic. It believed much in the natural
rights of man. The individual was justified, by the natural order, in
seeking his separate good. If he only sought it hard enough and well
enough the result would be for the general welfare of society. Thus at
the moment when mechanical invention offered unheard-of opportunities
for material expansion and lucrative business, the thought and feeling
of the community pretty generally sanctioned an individualistic
philosophy of life. The result was tragic if inevitable. The new
industrial order offered both the practical incentive and the
theoretical justification for institutional declension from humane
to primitive standards. It is not to be supposed that men slipped
deliberately into paganism; the human mind is not so sinister as it
is stupid nor so cruel as it is unimaginative nor so brutal as it
is complacent. For the most part we do not really understand, in
our daily lives, what we are about. Hence society degenerated, as
it always does, in the confident and stubborn belief that it was
improving the time and doing God's service. But He that sitteth in the
heavens must have laughed, He must have had us in derision!

For upon what law, natural, human, divine, has this new empire been
founded? That it has produced great humanists is gratefully
conceded; that real spiritual progress has issued from its incidental
cosmopolitanism is manifest; but which way has it fronted, what have
been its characteristic emphases and its controlling tendencies?
Let its own works testify. It has created a world of new and extreme
inequality, both in the distribution of material, of intellectual
and of spiritual goods. Here is a small group who own the land, the
houses, the factories, machinery and the tools. Here is a very large
group, without houses, without tools, without land or goods. At this
moment only 7 per cent of our 110,000,000 of American people have an
income of $3,000 or more; only 1¼ per cent have an income of $5,000
or more! What law produced and justifies such a society? The unwritten
law of heaven? No. The law of humanism, of Confucius and Buddha and
Epictetus and Aurelius? No. The law of naked individualism; of might;
force; cunning? Yes.

Here in our American cities are the overwealthy and the insolently
worldly people. They have their palatial town house, their broad
inland acres; some of them have their seaside homes, their fish and
game preserves as well. Here in our American cities are the alien, the
ignorant, the helpless, crowded into unclean and indecent tenements,
sometimes 1,000 human beings to the acre. What justifies a
pseudo-civilization which permits such tragic inequality of fortune?
Inequality of endowment? No. First, because there is no natural
inequality so extreme as that; secondly, because no one would dare
assert that these cleavages in the industrial state even remotely
parallel the corresponding cleavages in the distribution of ability
among mankind. What justifies it, then? The unwritten law of heaven?
No. The law of humanism? No. The law of the jungle? Yes.

Now for our second question. By what law, admitting many exceptions,
are men on the whole trying to change this situation at once indecent
and impious? This is a yet more important query. Our world has
obviously awakened to the rottenness in Denmark. But where are we
turning for our remedy? Is it to the penitence and confession, the
public-mindedness, the identification of the fate of the individual
with the fate of the whole group which is the religious impulse? Is it
to a disinterested and even-handed justice, the high legalism of the
Golden Rule, which would be the humanist's way? Or is it to the old
law of aggression and might transferring the gain thereof from the
present exploiters to the recently exploited?

It would appear to be generally true that society at this moment is
not chiefly concerned with either love or justice, renunciation
or discipline, not with the supplanting of the old order, but
with perpetuating the naturalistic principle by means of a partial
redivision of the spoils, a series of compromises, designed to make it
more tolerable for one class of its former victims. Thus in capital we
have the autocratic corporation, atoning for past outrages on humanity
by a well-advertised benevolent paternalism, calculated to make men
comfortable so that they may not struggle to be free, or by huge gifts
to education, to philanthropy, to religion. In labor we see men rising
in brute fury against both employer and society. They deny the basic
necessities of life to their fellow citizens; they bring the bludgeon
of the picket down upon the head of the scab; by means of the closed
shop they refuse the right to work to their brother craftsmen; they
level the incapable men up and the capable men down by insisting upon
uniformity of production and wage. Thus they replace the artificial
inequality of the aristocrat with the artificial equality of the
proletariat, striving to organize a new tyranny for the old. It is
significant that our society believes that this is the only way by
which it can gain its rights. That betrays our real infidelity. For
between the two, associated capital and associated labor, what is
there to choose today? By what law, depending upon what sort of power,
is each seeking its respective ends? By the unwritten law of heaven?
No. By the humane law, some objective standard of common rights and
inclusive justice? No! By the ancient law that the only effectual
appeal is to might and that opportunity therefore justifies the deed?
On the whole it is to this question that we must answer, yes!

Turn away now from national economics and industry to international
politics. Does not its _real politik_ make the philosophical
naturalism of Spencer and Haeckel seem like child's play? For long
there has been one code of ethics for the peaceful penetration of
commercially desirable lands, for punitive expeditions against peoples
possessed of raw materials, for international banking and finance
and diplomatic intercourse, and another code for private honor and
personal morality. There has been one moral scale of values for the
father of his family and another for the same man as ward or state or
federal politician; one code to govern internal disputes within the
nation; another code to govern external disputes between nations.
And what is this code that produced the Prussian autocracy, that long
insisted on the opium trade between India and China, that permitted
the atrocities in the Belgian Congo, that sent first Russia and then
Japan into Port Arthur and first Germany and then Japan into Shantung,
that insists upon retaining the Turk in Constantinople, that produced
the already discredited treaty of Versailles? What is the code that
made the deadly rivalry of mounting armaments between army and army,
navy and navy, of the Europe before 1914? The code, to be sure, of
cunning, of greed, of might; the materialism of the philosopher and
the naturalism of the sensualist, clothed in grandiose forms and
covered with the insufferable hypocrisy of solemn phrases. There are
no conceivable ethical or religious interests and no humane goals
or values that justify these things. International diplomacy and
politics, economic imperialism, using political machinery and power to
half-cloak, half-champion its ends, has no law of Christian sacrifice
and no law of Greek moderation behind it. On the contrary, what
should interest the Christian preacher, as he regards it, is its sheer
anarchy, its unashamed and naked paganism. Its law is that of the
unscrupulous and the daring, not that of the compassionate or the
just. In what does scientific and emotional naturalism issue, then? In
this; a man, if he be a man, will stand above divine or human law and
make it operative only for the weaklings beneath. Wherever opportunity
offers he will consult his own will and gratify it to the full. To
have, to get, to buy, to sell, to exploit the world for power, to
exploit one's self for pleasure, this is to live. The only law is
the old primitive snarl; each man for himself, let the devil take the

There is only one end to such naturalism and that is increasing
anarchy. It means my will against your will; my appetite for gold, for
land, for women, for luxury and beauty against your appetite; until
at length it culminates in the open madness of physical violence,
physical destruction, physical death and despair. There can be no
other end to it. If men dare not risk being the lovers of their kind,
then they must choose between being the slaves of duty or the slaves
of force. What are we reading in the public prints and hearing from
platform and stage? The unending wail for "rights"; the assertion of
the individual. Ceased is the chant of duty, forgotten the sacrifice
of love!

The events which have transformed the world since 1914 are an awful
commentary upon such naturalism and a dreadful confirmation of our
indictment. Before the spectacle that many of us saw on those sodden
fields of Flanders, both humanist and religionist should be alike
aghast. How childish not to perceive that its causes, as distinguished
from its occasions, were common to our whole civilization. How
perverse not to confess that beneath all our modern life, as its
dominating motive, has lain that ruthless and pagan philosophy, which
creates alike the sybarite, the tyrant and the anarch; the philosophy
in which lust goes hand in hand with cruelty and unrestrained will to
power is accompanied by unmeasured and unscrupulous force.

It is incredible to me how men can take this delirium of
self-destruction, this plunging of the sword into our own heart in
a final frenzy of competing anarchy and deck it out with heroic and
poetic values, fling over it the seamless robe of Christ, unfurl above
it the banner of the Cross! The only contribution the World War
has made to religion has been to throw into intolerable relief the
essentially irreligious and inhumane character of our civilization.

Of course, the men and the ideals who actually fought the contest
as distinguished from the men and ideals which precipitated it and
determined its movements, fill gallant pages with their heroism and
holy sacrifice. For wars are fought by the young at the dictation of
the old, and youth is everywhere humane and poetic. Thus, if I may be
permitted to quote from a book of mine recently published:

"Our sons were bade to enter it as a 'war to end war,' a final
struggle which should abolish the intolerable burdens of armaments and
conscription. They were taught to exalt it as a strife for oppressed
and helpless peoples; the prelude to a new brotherhood and cooperation
among the nations, and to that reign of justice which is the
antecedent condition of peace.

"They did their part. With adventurous faith they glorified their
cause and offered their fresh lives to make it good. Their sacrifice,
the idealism which lay behind it in their respective communities--the
unofficial perceptions that they, the fathers and mothers and the
boys, were fighting to vindicate the supremacy of the moral over the
material factors of life--this has made an imperishable gift to the
new world and our children's lives. When an entire commuity rises to
something of magnanimity, and a nation identifies its fate with
the lot of weaker states, then even mutilation and death may be
gift-bringers to mankind.

"But it is more significant to our purpose to note that the blood of
youth had hardly ceased to run before the officials began to dicker
for the material fruits of conquest. Not how to obtain peace but how
to exploit victory--to wrest each for himself the larger tribute from
the fallen foe--became their primary concern. So the youth appear to
have died for a tariff, perished for trade routes and harbors, for
the furthering of the commercial advantages of this nation as against
that, for the seizing of the markets of the world. They supposed they
fought 'to end business of that sort' but they returned to find their
accredited representatives contemplating universal military service
in frank expectation of 'the next war.' They strove for the
'self-determination of peoples' but find that it was for some people,
but not all. And as for the cooperation among nations, Judge Gary has
recently told us that, as a result of the war, we should prepare for
'the fiercest commercial struggle in the history of mankind!'"[19]

[Footnote 19: _Can the Church Survive_? pp. 14 ff.]

Is it not clear, then, today that behind the determining as
distinguished from the fighting forces of the war there lay a
commercial and financial imperialism, directed by small and powerful
minorities, largely supported by a sympathetic press which used the
machinery of representative democracy to overthrow a more naked and
brutal imperialism whose machinery was that of a military autocracy?
Motives, scales of value, methods and desired ends, were much the same
for all these small governing groups as they operated from behind the
various shibboleths whose magic they used to nerve the arms of the
contending forces. The conclusion of the war has revealed the common
springs of action of the professional soldier, statesman, banker,
ecclesiastic, in our present civilization. On the whole they accept
the rule of physical might as the ultimate justification of conduct.
They are the leaders and spokesmen in an economic, social and
political establishment which, pretending to civilization, always
turns when strained or imperiled by foreign or domestic dangers to
physical force as the final arbiter.

It is truly ominous to see the gradual extension of this naturalistic
principle still going on in the state. The coal strike was settled,
not by arbitration, but by conference, and "conferences" appear to
be replacing disinterested arbitration. This means that decisions are
being made on the principle of compromise, dictated by the expediency
of the moment, not by reference to any third party, or to some fixed
and mutually recognized standards. This is as old as Pythagoras and
as new as Bergson and Croce; it assumes that the concept of justice
is man-made, produced and to be altered by expediences and
practicalities, always in flux. But the essence of a civilization is
the humanistic conviction that there is something fixed and abiding
around which life may order and maintain itself.

Progress rests on the Platonic theory that laws are not made by man
but discovered by him; that they exist as eternal distinctions
beyond the reach of his alteration. Again, an unashamed and rampant
naturalism has just been sweeping this country in the wave of mean
and cruel intolerance which insists upon the continued imprisonment
of political heretics, which would prohibit freedom of speech by
governmental decree and oppose new or distasteful ideas by the
physical suppression of the thinker. The several and notorious
attempts beginning with deportations and ending with the unseating of
the New York assemblymen, to combat radical thinking by physical
or political persecution--attempts uniformly mean and universally
impotent in history--are as sinister as they are stupid. The only
law which justifies the persecution and imprisonment of religious and
political heretics is neither the law of reason nor the law of
love, but the law of fear, hence of tyranny and force. When a
twentieth-century nation begins to raise the ancient cry, "Come now
and let us kill this dreamer and we shall see what will become of his
dreams," that nation is declining to the naturalistic level. For
this clearly indicates that the humane and religious resources of
civilization, of which the church is among the chief confessed and
appointed guardians, are utterly inadequate to the strain imposed
upon them. Hence force, not justice, though they may sometimes have
happened to coincide, and power, not reason or faith, are becoming the
embodiment of the state today.

We come now to the final question of our chapter. How has this renewal
of naturalism affected the church and Christian preaching? On the
whole today, the Protestant church is accepting this naturalistic
attitude. In a signed editorial in the _New Republic_ for the last
week of December, 1919, Herbert Croly said, under the significant
title of "Disordered Christianity": "Both politicians and property
owners consider themselves entitled to ignore Christian guidance in
exercising political and economic power, to expect or to compel the
clergy to agree with them and if necessary to treat disagreement as
negligible. The Christian church, as a whole, or in part, does not
protest against the practically complete secularization of political,
economic and social life."

You may say such extra-ecclesiastical strictures are unsympathetic and
ill informed. But here is what Washington Gladden wrote in January,
1918: "If after the war the church keeps on with the same old
religion, there will be the same old hell on earth that religious
leaders have been preparing for centuries, the full fruit of which we
are gathering now. The church must cease to sanction those principles
of militaristic and atheistic nationalism by which the rulers of the
earth have so long kept the earth at war."[20] Thus from within the
sanctuary is the same indictment of our naturalism.

[Footnote 20: The _Pacific_, January 17, 1918.]

But you may say Dr. Gladden was an old man and a little extreme in
some of his positions and he belonged to a past generation. But there
are many signs at the present moment of the increasing secularizing
of our churches. The individualism of our services, their casual
character, their romantic and sentimental music, their minimizing of
the offices of prayer and devotion, their increasing turning of the
pulpit into a forum for political discussion and a place of common
entertainment all indicate it. There is an accepted secularity today
about the organization. Church and preacher have, to a large degree,
relinquished their essential message, dropped their religious values.
We are pretty largely today playing our game the world's way. We are
adopting the methods and accepting the standards of the market. In
an issue last month of the _Inter-Church Bulletin_ was the following
headline: "Christianity Hand in Hand with Business," and underneath
the following:

"George W. Wickersham, formerly United States attorney-general,
says in an interview that there is nothing incompatible between
Christianity and modern business methods. A leading lay official of
the Episcopal Church declares that what the churches need more than
anything else is a strong injection of business method into their
management. 'Some latter-day Henry Drummond,' he said, 'should write a
book on Business Law in the Spiritual World.'"

In this same paper, in the issue of March 27, 1920, there was
an article commending Christian missions. The first caption ran:
"Commercial Progress Follows Work of Protestant Missions," and its
subtitle was "How Missionaries Aid Commerce." Here is Business Law in
the Spiritual World! Here is the church commended to the heathen and
the sinner as an advertising agent, an advance guard of commercial
prosperity, a hawker of wares! If the _Bulletin_ ever penetrates to
those benighted lands of the Orient upon which we are thus anxious
to bestow the so apparent benefits of our present civilization it is
conceivable that even the untutored savage, to say nothing of Chinamen
and Japanese, might read it with his tongue in his cheek.

Such naïve opportunism and frantic immediacy would seem to me
conclusive proof of the disintegration and anarchy of the spirit
within the sanctuary. It is a part of it all that everyone has today
what he is pleased to call "his own religion." And nearly everyone
made it himself, or thinks he did. Conscience has ceased to be a check
upon personal impulse, the "thou shalt not" of the soul addressed to
untutored desires, and become an amiable instinct for doing good to
others. The Christian is an effusive creature, loving everything and
everybody; exalting others in terms of himself. We abhor religious
conventions; in particular we hasten to proclaim that we are free from
the stigma of orthodoxy. We do not go to church to learn, to meditate,
to repent and to pray; we go to be happy, to learn how to keep young
and prosperous; it is good business; it pays. We have a new and most
detestable cant; someone has justly said that the natural man in us
has been masquerading as the spiritual man by endlessly prating
of "courage," "patriotism"--what crimes have been committed in
its name!--"development of backward people," "brotherhood of man,"
"service of those less fortunate than ourselves," "natural ethical
idealism," "the common destinies of nations"--and now he rises up and
glares at us with stained fingers and bloodshot eyes![21] In so far
as we have succumbed to naturalism, we have become cold and shrewd and
flexible; shallow and noisy and effusive; have been rather proud to
believe anything in general and almost nothing in particular; become
a sort of religious jelly fish, bumping blindly about in seas of
sentiment and labeling that peace and brotherhood and religion!

[Footnote 21: _Rousseau and Romanticism_, p. 376.]

Here, then, is the state of organized religion today in our churches.
They are voluntary groups of men and women, long since emancipated
from the control of the church as such, or of the minister as an
official, set free also from allegiance to historic statements,
traditional, intellectual sanctions of our faith; moulded by the
time spirit which enfolds them to a half-unconscious ignoring or
depreciation of what must always be the fundamental problem of
religion--the relationship of the soul, not to its neighbor, but to
God. Hence the almost total absence of doctrinal preaching--indeed,
how dare we preach Christian doctrine to the industry and politics and
conduct of this age? Hence the humiliating striving to keep up
with popular movements, to conform to the moment. Hence the placid
acceptance of military propaganda and even of vindictive exhortation.

Is it any wonder then that we cannot compete with the state or the
world for the loyalty of men and women? We have no substitute to
offer. Who need be surprised at the restlessness, the fluidity, the
elusiveness of the Protestant laity? And who need wonder that at this
moment we are depending upon the externals of machinery, publicity and
money to reinstate ourselves as a spiritual society in the community?
A well-known official of our communion, speaking before a meeting of
ministers in New York City on Tuesday, March 23, was quoted in the
_Springfield Republican_ of the next day as saying: "The church holds
the only cure for the possible anarchy of the future and offers the
only preventative for the hell which we have had for the last five
years. But to meet this challenge the church can only go as far--as
the money permits."

Has not the time arrived when, if we are to find ourselves again in
the world, we should ask, What is this religion in which we believe?
What is the real nature of its resources? What the real nature of its
remedies? Do we dare define it? And, if we do, would we dare to assert
it, come out from the world and live for it, in the midst of the
paganism of this moment? Is it true that without the loaves and the
fishes we can do nothing? If so, then we, too, have succumbed to
naturalism indeed!



You may remember that when Daniel Webster made his reply to Hayne
in the Senate he began the argument by a return to first principles.
"When the mariner," said he, "has been tossed for many days in thick
weather and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the
first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his
latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his
true course. Let us imitate this prudence and before we float
further on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we
departed." He then asked for the reading of the resolution.

It is to some such rehearsing of our original message, a restatement
of the thesis which we, as preachers, are set to commend, that we turn
ourselves in these pages. The brutal dislocations of the war, and the
long and confused course of disintegrating life that lay behind it,
have driven civilization from its true course and deflected the church
from her normal path, her natural undertakings. Let us try, then, to
get back to our charter; define once more what we really stand for;
view our human life, not as captain of industry, or international
politician, or pagan worldling, or even classic hero, would regard
it, but see it through the eyes of a Paul, an Augustine, a Bernard,
a Luther, the Lord Jesus. We have already remarked how timely and
necessary is this redefining of our religious values. If, as Lessing
said, it is the end of education to make men to see things that are
large as large and things that are small as small, it is even more
truly the end of Christian preaching. What we are most in need of
today is a corrected perspective of our faith; without it we darken
counsel as we talk in confusion. So, while we may not attempt here a
detailed and reasoned statement of religious belief, we may try to say
what is the fundamental attitude, both toward nature and toward man,
that lies underneath the religious experience. We have seen that we
are not stating that attitude very clearly nowadays in our pulpits;
hence we are often dealing there with sentimental or stereotyped or
humane or even pagan interpretations. Yet nothing is more fatal for
us; if we peddle other men's wares they will be very sure that we
despise our own.

We approach, then, the third and final level of experience to which we
referred in the first lecture. We have seen that the humanist accepts
the law of measure; he rests back upon the selected and certified
experience of his race; from within himself, as the noblest inhabitant
of the planet, and by the further critical observation of nature he
proposes to interpret and guide his life. He is convinced that this
combined authority of reason and observation will lead to the _summum
bonum_ of the golden mean in which unbridled self-expression will be
seen as equally unwise and indecent and ascetic repression as both
unworthy and unnecessary. It is important to again remind ourselves
that confidence in the human spirit as the master of its own fate,
and in reason and natural observation as offering it the means of this
self-control and understanding, are essential humanistic principles.
The humanist world is rational, social, ethical.

Over against this reasonable and disciplined view of man and of
his world stands naturalism. It exploits the defects of the classic
"virtue"; it is, so to speak, humanism run to seed. Just as religion
so often sinks into bigotry, cruelty and superstitition, so humanism,
in lesser souls, declines to egotism, license and sentimentality.
Naturalism, either by a shallow and insincere use of the materialistic
view of the universe, or by the exalting of wanton feeling and
whimsical fancy as ends in themselves, attempts the identification of
man with the natural order, permits him to conceive of each desire,
instinct, impulse, as, being natural, thereby defensible and
valuable. Hence it permits him to disregard the imposed laws of
civilization--those fixed points of a humane order--and to return
in principle, and so far as he dares in action, to the unlimited and
irresponsible individualism of the horde. Inevitably the law of the
jungle is deliberately exalted, or unconsciously adopted, over against
the humanist law of moderation and discipline.

The humanist, then, critically studies nature and mankind, finding in
her matrix and in his own spirit data for the guidance of the race,
improving upon it by a cultivated and collective experience. The
naturalist uncritically exalts nature, seeks identification with it so
that he may freely exploit both himself and it. The faith of the one
is in the self-sufficiency of the disciplined spirit of mankind; the
unfaith of the other is in its glorification of the natural world and
in its allegiance to the momentary devices and desires of the separate
heart. It will be borne in mind that these definitions are too
clear-cut; that these divisions appear in the complexities of human
experience, blurred and modified by the welter of cross currents,
subsidiary conflicting movements, which obscure all human problems.
They represent genuine and significant divisions of thought and
conduct. But they appear in actual experience as controlling emphases
rather than mutually exclusive territories.

Now, the clearest way to get before us the religious view of the world
and the law which issues from it is to contrast it with the other two.
In the first place, the religious temperament takes a very different
view of nature than either romantic, or to a less degree
scientific, naturalism. Naturalism is subrational on the one hand or
non-imaginative on the other, in that it emphasizes the _continuity_
between man and the physical universe. The religious man is
superrational and nobly imaginative as he emphasizes the _difference_
between man and nature. He does not forget man's biological kinship to
the brute, his intimate structural and even psychological relation to
the primates, but he is aware that it is not in dwelling upon these
facts that his spirit discovers what is distinctive to man as man.
That he believes will be found by accenting the _chasm_ between man
and nature. He does not know how to conceive of a personal being
except by thinking of him as proceeding by other, though not
conflicting, laws and by moving toward different secondary ends from
those laws and ends which govern the impersonal external world. This
sense of the difference between man and nature he shares with the
humanist, only the humanist does not carry it as far as he does and
hence may not draw from it his ultimate conclusions.

The religious view, then, begins with the perception of man's
isolation in the natural order; his difference from his surroundings.
That sense of separateness is fundamental to the religious nature. The
false sentiment and partial science of the pagan which stresses the
identification of man and beast is the first quarrel that religionist
and humanist alike have with him. Neither of them sanctions
this perversion of thought and feeling which either projects the
impressionistic self so absurdly and perilously into the natural
order, or else minimizes man's imaginative and intellectual power,
leveling him down to the amoral instinct of the brute. "How much
more," said Jesus, "is a man better than a sheep!" One of the greatest
of English humanists was Matthew Arnold. You remember his sonnet,
entitled, alas! "To a Preacher," which runs as follows:

  "In harmony with Nature? Restless fool,
  Who with such heat doth preach what were to thee,
  When true, the last impossibility--
  To be like Nature strong, like Nature cool!
  Know, man hath all which Nature hath, but more,
  And in that more lie all his hopes of good,
  Nature is cruel, man is sick of blood;
  Nature is stubborn, man would fain adore;
  Nature is fickle, man hath need of rest;
  Nature forgives no debt and fears no grave;
  Man would be mild, and with safe conscience blest.
  Man must begin; know this, where Nature ends;
  Nature and man can never be fast friends.
  Fool, if thou canst not pass her, rest her slave!"

Religionist and humanist alike share this clear sense of separateness.
Literature is full of the expression of it. Religion, in especial,
has little to do with the natural world as such. It is that other and
inner one, which can make a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell, with
which it is chiefly concerned. Who can forget Othello's soliloquy as
he prepares to darken his marriage chamber before the murder of his

  "Put out the light, and then put out the light.
  If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
  I can again thy former light restore,
  Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,
  Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
  I know not where is that Promethean heat,
  That can thy light relume. When I have pluck'd the rose
  I cannot give it vital growth again,
  It needs must wither."

Indeed, how vivid to us all is this difference between man and nature.
"I would to heaven," Byron traced on the back of the manuscript of
_Don Juan_,

  "I would to heaven that I were so much clay,
  As I am bone, blood, marrow, passion, feeling."

Ah me! So at many times would most of us. And in that sense that we
are not is where the religious consciousness takes its beginning.

Here is the sense of the gap between man and the natural world felt
because man has no power over it. He cannot swerve nor modify its
laws, nor do his laws acknowledge its ascendency over them. But
what makes the gulf deeper is the sense of the immeasurable moral
difference between a thinking, feeling, self-estimating being and all
this unheeding world about him. Whatever it is that looks out from the
windows of our eyes something not merely of wonder and desire but also
of fear and repulsion must be there as it gazes into so cruel as well
as so alien an environment. For a moral being to glorify nature as
such is pure folly or sheer sentimentality. For he knows that her
apparent repose and beauty is built up on the ruthless and unending
warfare of matched forces, it represents a dreadful equilibrium of
pain. He knows, too, that that in him which allies him with
this natural world is his baser, not his better part. This nobly
pessimistic attitude toward the natural universe and toward man so far
as he shares in its characteristics, is found in all classic systems
of theology and has dominated the greater part of Christian
thinking. If it is ignored today by the pseudo-religionists and
the sentimentalists; it is clearly enough perceived by contemporary
science and contemporary art. The biologist understands it. "I know of
no study," wrote Thomas Huxley, "which is so unutterably saddening
as that of the evolution of humanity as set forth in the annals of
history. Out of the darkness of prehistoric ages man emerges with the
marks of his lowly origin strong upon him. He is a brute, only more
intelligent than the other brutes; a blind prey to impulses which as
often as not lead him to destruction; a victim to endless illusions
which make his mental existence a terror and a burden, and fill his
physical life with barren toil and battle. He attains a certain degree
of comfort, and develops a more or less workable theory of life in
such favorable situations as the plains of Mesopotamia or of Egypt,
and then, for thousands and thousands of years struggles with various
fortunes, attended by infinite wickedness, bloodshed and misery, to
maintain himself at this point against the greed and ambition of his
fellow men. He makes a point of killing and otherwise persecuting all
those who first try to get him to move on; and when he has moved
a step farther he foolishly confers post-mortem deification on his
victims. He exactly repeats the process with all who want to move a
step yet farther."[22]

[Footnote 22: "Agnosticism," the _Nineteenth Century_, February,

And no less does the artist, the man of high and correct feeling,
perceive the immeasurable distance between uncaring nature and
suffering men and women. There is, for instance, the passage in _The
Education of Henry Adams_, in which Adams speaks of the death of
his sister at Bagni di Lucca. "In the singular color of the Tuscan
atmosphere, the hills and vineyards of the Apennines seemed bursting
with midsummer blood. The sick room itself glowed with the Italian joy
of life; friends filled it; no harsh northern lights pierced the soft
shadows; even the dying woman shared the sense of the Italian summer,
the soft velvet air, the humor, the courage, the sensual fullness of
Nature and man. She faced death, as women mostly do, bravely and even
gayly, racked slowly to unconsciousness but yielding only to violence,
as a soldier sabred in battle. For many thousands of years, on these
hills and plains, Nature had gone on sabring men and women with the
same air of sensual pleasure.

"Impressions like these are not reasoned or catalogued in the mind;
they are felt as a part of violent emotion; and the mind that feels
them is a different one from that which reasons; it is thought
of a different power and a different person. The first serious
consciousness of Nature's gesture--her attitude toward life--took form
then as a phantasm, a nightmare, an insanity of force. For the first
time the stage scenery of the senses collapsed; the human mind felt
itself stripped naked, vibrating in a void of shapeless energies,
with resistless mass, colliding, crushing, wasting and destroying what
these same energies had created and labored from eternity to perfect."

Here is a vivid interpretation of a universal human experience.
Might not any one of us who had endured it turn upon the pagan and
sentimentalist, crying in the mood of a Swift or a Voltaire, "_Ca vous
amuse, la vie_"? The abstract natural rights of the eighteenth century
smack of academic complacency before this. The indignation we feel
against the insolent individualism of a Louis XIV who cried "_L'état
c'est moi_!" or against the industrial overlord who spills the tears
of women for his ambition, the sweat of the children for his greed,
is as nothing beside the indignation with the natural order which any
biological study would arouse except as the scientist perceives that
indignation is, for him, beside the point and the religionist believes
that it proceeds from not seeing far enough into the process. This
is why there is an essential absurdity in any naturalistic system of
ethics. Even the clown can say,

  "Here's a night that pities
  Neither wise men nor fools."

This common attitude of the religionist toward nature as a remote
and cruel world, alien to our spirits, is abundantly reflected in
literature. It finds a sort of final consummation in the intuitive
insight, the bright understanding of the creative spirits of our race.
What Aristotle defines as the tragic emotions, the sense of the terror
and the pity of human life, arise partly from this perception of the
isolation always and keenly felt by dramatist and prophet and poet.
They know well that Nature does not exist by our law; that we neither
control nor understand it; is it not our friend?

There is, then, the law of identity between man and nature, found in
their common physical origin; there is also the law of difference. It
is on that aspect of reality that religion places its emphasis. It
is with this approach to understanding ourselves that preachers, as
distinguished from scientists, deal. Our present society is traveling
farther and farther away from reality in so far as it turns either to
the outside world of fact, or to the domain of natural law, expecting
to find in these the elements of insight for the fresh guidance of
the human spirit. Not there resides the secret of the beings of whom
Shelley said,

  "We look before and after
  And pine for what is not,
  Our sincerest laughter
  With some pain is fraught."

Instinct is a base, a prime factor, part of the matrix of personality.
But personality is not instinct; it is instinct plus a different
force; instinct transformed by spiritual insight and controlled by
moral discipline. The man of religion, therefore, finds himself not
in one but two worlds, not indeed mutually exclusive, having a common
origin, but nevertheless significantly distinct. Each is incomplete
without the other, each in a true sense non-existent without the
other. But that which is most vital to man's world is unknown in the
domain of nature. Already the perception of a dualism is here.

But now a third element comes into it. There is something spiritually
common to nature and man behind the one, within the other. This
Something is the origin, the responsible agent for man's and nature's
physical identity. This Something binds the separates into a sort of
whole. This, I suppose, is what Professor Hocking refers to when he
says, "the original source of the knowledge of God is an experience
which might be described as of _not being alone in knowing the world_,
and especially the world of nature."[23] Thus the religious man
recognizes beyond the gulf, behind the chasm, something more like
himself than it. When he contemplates nature, he sees something other
than nature; not a world which is what it seems to be, but a world
whose chief significance is that it is more than it seems to be. It is
a world where appearance and reality are inextricably mingled and yet
sublimely and significantly separate. In short, the naturalist, the
pagan, takes the world as it stands; it is just what it appears; the
essence of his irreligion is that he perceives nothing in it that
needs to be explained. But the religionist knows that the world
which lies before our mortal vision so splendid and so ruthless, so
beautiful and so dreadful, does really gain both its substance and
significance from immaterial and unseen powers. It is significant
not in itself but because it hides the truth. It points forever to a
beyond. It is the vague and insubstantial pageant of a dream. Behind
it, within the impenetrable shadows, stands the Infinite Watcher of
the sons of men.

[Footnote 23: _The Meaning of God in Human Experience_, p. 236.]

In every age religious souls have voiced this unearthliness of
reality, the noble other-worldliness of the goals of the natural
order. "Heard melodies are sweet, but unheard melodies are sweeter."
Poet, philosopher and mystic have sung their song or proclaimed their
message knowing that they were moving about in worlds not realized,
clearly perceiving the incompleteness of the phenomenal world and the
delusive nature of sense perceptions. They have known a Reality which
they could not comprehend; felt a Presence which they could not grasp.
They have found strength for the battle and peace for the pain by
regarding nature as a dim projection, a tantalizing intimation of that
other, conscious and creative life, that originating and directive
force, which is not nature any more than the copper wire is the
electric fluid which it carries--a force which was before it, which
moves within it, which shall be after it.

So poet and believer and mystic find the key to nature, the
interpretation of that alien and cruel world, not by sinking to its
indifferent level, not by sentimental exaltation of its specious
peace, its amoral cruelty and beauty, but by regarding it as the
expression, the intimation rather, of a purposive Intelligence, a
silent and infinite Force, beyond it all. So the pagan effuses over
nature, gilding with his sentimentality the puddles that the beasts
would cough at. And the scientist is interested in efficient causes,
seeing nature as an unbroken sequence, an endless uniformity of cause
and effect, against whose iron chain the spirit of mankind wages a
foredoomed but never ending revolt. But the religionist, confessing
the ruthless indifference, the amorality which he distrusts and
fears, and not denying the majestic uniformity of order, nevertheless
declares that these are not self-made, that the amorality is but
one half and that the confusing half of the tale. The whole creation
indeed groaneth and travaileth in pain, but for a final cause, which
alone interprets or justifies it, and which eventually shall set it
free. As a matter of fact, nearly all poets and artists thus view
nature in the light of final causes, though often instinctively and
unconsciously so. For what they sing or paint or mould is not the
landscape that we see, the flesh we touch, but the life behind it,
the light that never was on land or sea. What they give us is not
a photograph or an inventory--it is worlds away from such naïve and
lying realism. But they hint at the inexpressible behind expression;
paint the beauty which is indistinguishable from nature but not
identical with Nature. They make us see that not she, red in tooth and
claw, but that intangible and supernal something-more, is what gives
her the cleansing bath of loveliness. No reflective or imaginative
person needs to be greatly troubled, therefore, by any purely
mechanical or materialistic conception of the universe. They who
would commend that view of the cosmos have not only to reckon with
philosophical and religious idealism, but also with all the bright
band of poets and artists and seers. Such an issue once resolutely
forced would therewith collapse, for it would pit the qualitative
standards against the quantitative, the imagination against
literalism, the creative spirit in man against the machine in him.

Here, then, is the difference between the naturalist's and the
religionist's attitude toward Nature. The believer judges Nature, well
aware of the gulf between himself and her, hating with inexpressible
depth of indignation and repudiating with profound contempt the
sybarite's identification of human and natural law. But also he comes
back to her, not to accept in wonder her variable outward form, but to
worship in awe before her invariable inner meaning. Sometimes, like
so many of the humanists, he rises only to a vague sense of the mystic
unity that fills up the interspaces of the world, and cries with

  "... And I have felt
  A presence that disturbs me with the joy
  Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
  Of something far more deeply interfused,
  Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
  And the round ocean and the living air,
  And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
  A motion and a spirit, that impels
  All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
  And rolls through all things."[24]

Sometimes he dares to personalize this ultimate and then ascends to
the supreme poetry of the religious experience and feels the cosmic
consciousness, the eternal "I" of this strange world, which fills it
with observant majesty. And then he chants,

  "The heavens declare the glory of God,
  The firmament showeth his handiwork."

Or he whispers,

  "Whither shall I go from Thy spirit,
  Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?
  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there,
  If I make my bed in hell, behold Thou art there,
  If I take the wings of the morning
  And dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth,
  Even there shall Thy hand lead me
  And Thy right hand shall hold me."[25]

Indeed, the devout religionist almost never thinks of nature as such.
She is always the bush which flames and is not consumed. Therefore he
walks softly all his days, conscious that God is near.

  "Of old," he says, "Thou hast laid the foundations of the earth;
  And the heavens are the work of Thy hands.
  They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure;
  Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment;
  As a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed;
  But Thou art the same,
  And Thy years shall have no end."[26]

To him nature is the glass through which he sees darkly and often with
a darkling mind, the all-pervasive Presence; it is the veil--the veil
that covers the face of God.

[Footnote 24: _Lines composed a few miles above Tintern Abbey_, stanza
3, ll. 36-45.]

[Footnote 25: Psalm cxxxix. 7-9.]

[Footnote 26: Psalm cii. 25-27.]

Here, then, we have the contrasting attitude of worldling and believer
toward nature, the outward universe. Now we come to the contrasting
attitude of humanist and believer toward man, the world within. For
why are we so sure, first, of the chasm between ourselves and
Nature and, second, that we can bridge that chasm by reaching out to
something behind and beyond her which is more like us than her?
What gives us the key to her dualism? Why do we think that there is
Something which perpetually beckons to us through her, makes awful
signs of an intimate and significant relationship? Because we feel
a similar chasm, an equal cleft in our own hearts, a division in the
moral nature of mankind. We know that gulf between us and the outward
world because we know the greater gulf between flesh and spirit,
between the natural man and the real man, between the "I" and the
"other I."

Here is where the humanist bids us good-by and we must go forward on
our road alone. For he will not acknowledge that there is anything
essential or permanent in that divided inner world; he would minimize
it or explain it away. But we know it is there and the reason we know
there is Something without which can bridge the outer chasm is because
we also know there is Something-Else within which might bridge this
one. For we who are religious know that within the depths and the
immensities of this inner world, where there is no space but where
there is infinite largeness, where there is no time but where there is
perpetual strife, there is Something-Else as well as the "I" and the
"other I," and it is that He who is the Something-Else who alone can
close the gap in that divided kingdom and make us one with ourselves,
hence with Himself and hence with His world.

You ask how we can say, "He's there; He knows." We answer that this
"other," this "He" is a constant figure in the experience; always
in the vision; an integral part of the perception. What is He like?
"He" is purity and compassion and inexorableness. Something
fixed, immutable, not to be tricked, not to be evaded and oh!
all-comprehending. He sees, his eyes run to and fro in all the dark
and wide, the light and high dominions of the soul. If we will not
come to terms with "Him," that eternal and changeless life will be the
cliff against which the tumultuous waves of the divided spirit shall
shatter and dissipate into soundless foam; if we will come to terms,
relinquish, accept, surrender, then that purity and that compassion
will be the cleansing tide, the healing and restoring flood in which
we sink in the ecstasy of self-loss to arise refreshed, radiant, and
made whole.

So we reckon from within out. The religious view of the world is based
upon the religious experience of the soul. We have no other means of
getting at reality. I know that there is Something-more than me and
Something-more than the nature outside of me, because we know that
there is Something which is not me and is not nature, inside of me. So
the man of religion, like any other poet, artist, seer, looks in his
own heart and writes. What he finds there is real, or else, as far
as he is concerned, there is no reality. He does not assert that
this reality is the final and utter truth. But he knows it is his
trustworthy mediator of that truth.

Here, then, is an immense separation between religionist and both
humanist and naturalist; a separation so complete as to come full
circle. We are convinced of the secondary value, both of natural
appearances and of the mortal, temporal consciousness. So we
substitute for impertinent familiarity with Nature, a reverent regard
for what she half reveals, half hides. We interpret her by ourselves.
We are the same compound of identity and difference. We acknowledge
our continuity with the natural world, our intimate and tragic
alliance with the dust, but we also know that we, within ourselves,
are Something-Else as well. And it is that Something-Else in us which
makes the significant part of us, which sets our value and place in
the scale of being.

In short, the dualism of nature is revealed in the dualism of the
soul. There is a gulf within, and if only man can span the inner
chasm, he will know how to bridge the outer. He must begin by finding
God within himself, or he will never find Him anywhere. Now, it is out
of this sense of a separation within himself, from himself and
from the Author of himself, that there arises that awful sense of
helplessness, of dependence, of bewilderment, which is the second
great element in the religious life. Man is alone in the world; man
is helpless in the world; man ought not to be alone in the world;
man is therefore under scrutiny and condemnation; he must find
reconciliation, harmony, companionship, somehow, somewhere. Hence
the religious man is not arrogant like the pagan, nor proud like the
humanist; he is humble. It is Burke, I think, who says that the whole
ethical life of man has its roots in this humility.[27] The religious
man cannot help but be humble. He has an awful pride in his kinship
with heaven, but, standing before the Lord of heaven, he feels human
nature's proper place, its confusion and division and helplessness;
its dependence upon the higher Power.

[Footnote 27: _Correspondence_, III, p. 213.]

It is at this point that humanism and religion definitely part
company. The former does not feel this absolute and judging Presence,
hence cannot understand the spiritual solicitude of the latter. St.
Paul was not quite at home on Mars Hill; it was hard to make those who
were always hearing and seeing some new thing understand; the shame
and humility of the cross were an unnecessary foolishness to them. So
they have always been. The humanist cannot take seriously this sense
of a transcendent reality. When Cicero, to escape the vengeance of
Clodius, withdrew from Rome, he passed over into Greece and dwelt for
a while in Thessalonica. One day he saw Mount Olympus, the lofty and
eternal home of the deities of ancient Greece. "But I," said the bland
eclectic philosopher, "saw nothing but snow and ice."

How inadequate, then, as a substitute for religion, is even the
noblest humanism. True and fine as far as it goes, it does not go far
enough for us. It takes too little account of the divided life. It
appears not to understand it. On the whole it refuses to acknowledge
that it really exists, or, if it does, it is convinced of man's
unaided ability to efface it. It isn't something inevitable. Hence the
pride which is an essential quality of the humanistic attitude.

But the religious man knows that it does exist and that while he is
not wholly responsible for it, yet he is essentially so and that,
alas, in spite of that fact, he alone cannot bridge it. So he cries,
"Wretched man that I am, what shall I do to be saved?" Here is the
feeling of uneasiness, the sense of something being wrong about us
as we naturally stand, of which James speaks. In that sense of
responsibility is the confession of sin and in the confession of sin
is the acknowledgment of the impotence of the sinner.

  "The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on
  Nor all your wit nor all your tears, can wash a line of it."

Man cannot, unaided, make his connection with this higher power. The
world is at fault, yes, but we are at fault, something both within and
without dreadfully needs explaining. So man is subdued and troubled by
the infinite mystery; and he cannot accept the place in which he finds
himself in that mystery; he is ashamed of it.

Vivid, then, is his sense of helplessness! It makes him resent the
humanist, who bids him, unaided, solve his fate and be a man. That is
giving him stones when he asks for bread. He knows that advice makes
an inhuman demand upon the will; it assumes a reasonableness, an
insight and a moral power, which for him do not exist; it ignores
or it denies the reality and the meaning of this inner gulf. It is
important to note that even as philosophy and art and literature soon
parted company with the naturalist, so, to a large degree, they part
company with the humanist, too. They do not know very much of an
harmonious and triumphant universe. Few of the world's creative
spirits have ever denied that inner chasm or minimized its tragic
consequences to mankind. Isaiah and Paul and John and Augustine and
Luther are wrung with the consciousness of it. Indeed, the antithesis
between flesh and spirit is too familiar in religious literature to
need any recounting. It is more vividly brought home to us from
the nonprofessional, the disinterested and involuntary testimony of
secular writing. Was there ever such a cry of revolt on the part of
the trapped spirit against the net and slough of natural values and
natural desires as runs through the sonnets of William Shakespeare? We
remember the 104th:

  "Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth,
  Foiled by these rebel powers that thee array,
  Why dost thou pine within, and suffer dearth,
  Painting thine outward walls so costly gay?
  Why so large cost, having so short a lease,
  Dost thou upon thy fading mansion spend?
  Shall worms, inheritors of this excess,
  Eat up thy charge? Is this thy body's end?
  Then soul, live thou upon thy servant's loss
  And let that pine to aggravate thy store,
  Buy terms divine in selling hours of dross
  Within be fed, without be rich no more--"

Or turn to our contemporary poet, James Stephens:

  "Good and bad are in my heart
  But I cannot tell to you
  For they never are apart
  Which is the better of the two.

  I am this: I am the other
  And the devil is my brother
  And my father he is God
  And my mother is the sod,
  Therefore I am safe, you see
  Owing to my pedigree.

  So I cherish love and hate
  Like twin brothers in a nest
  Lest I find when it's too late
  That the other was the best."[28]

Here, then, we find the next thing which grows out of man's sense
of separation both from nature and from his own best self. It is his
moral judgment on himself as well as on the world outside, and that
power to judge shows that he is greater than either. As Dr. Gordon
says, "Every honest man lives under the shadow of his own rebuke." We
can go far with the humanist in acknowledging the failures that are
due to environment, to incompleteness, to ignorance; we do not forget
the helpless multitude who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death;
and we agree with the scientist that their helplessness foredooms
them and that their fate cannot be laid to their charge. But we go far
beyond where scientist and humanist stop. For we know that the deepest
cause of human misery is not inheritance, is not environment, is not
ignorance, is not incompleteness; it is the informed but the perverse
human will. Just as unhappiness is the consciousness of the divided
mind, so guilt is this sense of the deliberately divided will.
Jonathan Swift knew that; on every yearly recurrence of the hour in
which he came into the world, he cried lamentably, "Let the day perish
wherein I was born."

[Footnote 28: _Songs from the Clay_, p. 40.]

The Lord Jesus knew it, too. His teaching, unlike that of Paul, does
not throw into the foreground the divided will and its accompanying
sense of sin and guilt. But he does not ignore it. He brought it out
with infinite tenderness but inexorable clearness in the parables of
the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost boy. The sheep were but
young and silly, they did not wish to be lost on the mountain-side;
they knew no better; inexperience, ignorance were theirs, and
for their sad estate they were not held responsible. For them the
compassionate shepherd sought until he found them in the wilds, took
them, involuntary burdens, on his heart, brought them back to safety
and the fold. The coin had no native affinity with the dirt and grime
of the careless woman's house. It was only a coin, attached to anklet
or bracelet, having no power, no independence of its own; where it
fell, there must it lie. So with the lives set by fate in the refuse
and grime of our industrial civilization, the pure minted gold
effectually concealed by the obscurity and filth around. For such
lives, victims of environment, the Father will search, too, until they
are found, taken up, and somewhere, in this world or another, restored
to their native worth. But the chief of the parables, and the one that
has captured the imagination and subdued the heart of mankind, because
it so true to the greater part of life, is the story of the lost boy.
For he was the real sinner and he was such because, knowing what
he was about and able to choose, he desired to do wrong. It was not
ignorance, nor environment, nor inheritance, that led him into the far
country. It was its alien delights and their alien nature, for which
as such he craved. How subtle and certain is the word of Jesus here.
No shepherd seeks this wandering sheep; no householder searches for
this lost coin. The boy who willed to do wrong must stay with the
swine among the husks until he wills to do right. Then, when
he desires to return, return is made possible and easy, but the
responsibility is forever his. The source of his misery is his own

So the disposition of mankind is at the bottom of the suffering and
the division. There is rebellion and perverseness mingled with the
helplessness and ignorance and sorrow. No man ever understands or can
speak to the religious life unless he has the consciousness of this
inner moral cleft. No man will ever be able to preach with power about
God unless he does it chiefly in terms of God's difference from man
and man's perilous estate and desperate need of Him. Indeed, God is
not like us, not like this inner life of ours; this is what we want
to hear. God is different; that is why we want to be able to love Him.
And being thus different, we are separated from Him, both by the inner
chasm of the divided soul and the outer chasm of remote and hostile
nature. Then comes the final question: How are we, being helpless, to
reach Him? How are we, being guilty, to find Him?

When men deal with these queries, with this range of experience, this
set of inward perceptions, then they are preaching religiously. And
then, I venture to say, they do not fail either of hearers or of
followers. Then there is what Catherine Booth used to call "liberty
of speech"; then there is power because then we talk of realities.
For what is it that looks out from the eyes of religious humanity?
Rebellion, pride? no! Humility, loneliness, something of a just and
deserved fear; but most of all, desire, insatiable, unwavering, an
intense desire. This passion of the race, its never satisfied hunger,
its incredible intensity and persistency of striving and longing,
is at once the tragedy and glory, the witness to the helplessness,
the revelation of the capacity of the race. The mainspring of human
activity, the creative impulse from which in devious ways all the
thousand-hued motives of our lives arise, is revealed in the ancient
cry, "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God!" That unquenched
thirst for Him underlies all human life, as the solemn stillness of
the ocean underlies the restless upper waves. The dynamic of the world
is the sense of the divine reality. The woe of the world is man's
inability to discover and appropriate that reality. Who that has
entered truly into life does not perceive beneath all the glitter of
its brilliance, the roar of its energy and achievement, the note of
melancholy? The great undertone of life is solemn in its pathetic
uniformity. The poets and prophets of the world have seized unerringly
upon that melancholy undertone. Who ever better understood the
futility and helplessness of unaided man, the certain doom that tracks
down his pride of insolence, or his sin, than the Greek tragedians?
Sophocles, divided spirit that he was, heard that note of melancholy
long ago by the Ægean, wrote it into his somber dramas, with their
turbid ebb and flow of human misery. Sometimes the voices of our
humanity as they rise blend and compose into one great cry that is
lifted, shivering and tingling, to the stars, "Oh, that I knew where I
might find Him!" Sometimes and more often they sink into a subdued and
minor plaint, infinitely touching in its human solicitude, perplexity
and pain. Again, James Stephens has phrased it for us in his verse
_The Nodding Stars_.[29]

[Footnote 29: _Songs from the Clay_, p. 68.]

  "Brothers, what is it ye mean,
  What is it ye try to say
  That so earnestly ye lean
  From the spirit to the clay.

  "There are weary gulfs between
  Here and sunny Paradise,
  Brothers! What is it ye mean
  That ye search with burning eyes,

  "Down for me whose fire is clogged,
  Clamped in sullen, earthy mould,
  Battened down and fogged and bogged,
  Where the clay is seven-fold."

Now we understand the tragic aspect of nature and of the human soul
caught in this cosmic dualism without which corresponds to the ethical
dualism within. This perception of the One behind the many in nature,
of the thing-in-itself, as distinguished from the many expressions of
that thing, is the chief theme for preaching. This is what brings men
to themselves. Herein, as Dr. Newman Smyth has pointed out, appears
the unique marvel of personality. "It becomes conscious of itself as
individual and it individualizes the world; it is the one discovering
itself among the many. In the midst of uniformities of nature, moving
at will on the plane of natural necessities, weaving the pattern of
its ideas through the warp of natural laws, runs the personal life.
On the same plane and amid these uniformities, yet itself a sphere of
being of another order; in it, yet disentangled from it, and having
its center in itself, it lives and moves and has its being, breaking
no thread of nature's weaving, subject to its own law, and manifesting
a dynamic of its own."[30]

[Footnote 30: _The Meaning of the Personal Life_, p. 173.]

The source, then, as we see it, of all human hopes and human dignity,
the urge that lies behind all metaphysics and much of literature and
art, the thing that makes men eager to live, yet nobly curious to die,
is this conviction that One like unto ourselves but from whom we have
made ourselves unlike, akin to our real, if buried, person, walketh
with us in the fiery furnace of our life. There is a Spirit in man
and the breath of the Almighty giveth him understanding. Starting from
this interpretation, we can begin to order the baffling and teasing
aspects, the illusive nature of the world. Why this ever failing, but
never ending struggle against unseen odds to grasp and understand
and live with the Divine? Why, between the two, the absolute and the
changeless spirit, unseen but felt, and the hesitant and timid spirit
of a man, would there seem to be a great gulf fixed? Because we are
wrong. Because man finds the gulf within himself. He chafes at the
limitations of time and space? Yes; but he chafes more at the mystery
and weakness, the mingled deceitfulness and cunning and splendor of
the human heart. Because there is no one of us who can say, I have
made my life pure, I am free from my sin. He knows that the gulf is
there between the fallible and human, and the more than human; he does
not know how to cross it; he says,

  "I would think until I found
  Something I can never find
  Something lying on the ground
  In the bottom of my mind."

Here, then, can we not understand that mingling of mystic dignity
and profound humility, of awe-struck pride and utter self-abnegation,
wherewith the man of religion regards his race and himself? He is the
child of the Eternal; he, being man, alone knows that God is. "When I
consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars
which Thou hast ordained, what is man that Thou art mindful of him,
or the son of man that Thou visitest him?" Here is the humility: "Why
so hot, little man!" Then comes the awe-struck pride: "Yet Thou hast
made him a little lower than the angels and crowned him with glory and
honor." "Alone with the gods, alone!" God is the high and lofty one
which inhabiteth eternity, but He is also nigh unto them who are of a
broken and a contrite heart.

Here we are come to the very heart of religion. Man's proud
separateness in the universe; yet man's moral defection and his
responsibility for it which makes him know that separateness; man's
shame and helplessness under it. Over against the denial or evasion
of moral values by the naturalist and the dullness to the sense
of moral helplessness by the humanist, there stands the sense of
moral difference, the sense of sin, of penitence and confession. No
preaching not founded on these things can ever be called religious or
can ever stir those ranges of the human life for which alone preaching
is supposed to exist.

What is the religious law, then? It is the law of humility. And what
is the religious consciousness? The sense of man's difference from
nature and from God. The sense of his difference from himself within
himself and the longing for an inner harmony which shall unite him
with himself and with the beauty and the spirit without. So what
is the religious passion? Is it to exalt human nature? It would
be more true to say it is to lose it. What is the end for us? Not
identification with nature and the natural self, but pursuit of the
other than nature, the more than natural self. Our humility is not
like that of Uriah Heep, a mean opinion of ourselves in comparison
with other men. It is the profound consciousness of the weakness and
the nothingness of our kind, and of the poor ends human nature sets
its heart upon, in comparison with that Other One above and beyond and
without us, to whom we are kin, from whom we are different, to whom we
aspire, to reach whom we know not how.

This, then, is what we mean when we turn back from the language of
experience to the vocabulary of philosophy and theology and talk about
the absolute values of religion. We mean by "absolute values" that
behind the multifarious and ever changing nature, is a single and a
steadfast cause--a great rock in a weary land. We have lost the old
absolute philosophies and dogmatic theologies and that is good and
right, for they were outworn. But we are never going to lose the
central experience that produced them, and our task is to find a
new philosophy to express these inner things for which the words
"supernatural," "absolute," are no longer intelligible. For we still
know that behind man's partial and relative knowledge, feeling,
willing, is an utter knowledge, a perfect feeling, a serene and
unswerving will; that beneath man's moral anarchy there is moral
sovereignty; that behind his helplessness there is abundant power
to save. Perhaps this Other is always changing, but, if so, it is a
Oneness which is changing. In short, the thing that is characteristic
of religion is that it dwells, not on man's likenesses, but on his
awful differences from nature and from God; sees him not as little
counterparts of deity, but as broken fragments only to be made whole
within the perfect life. It sees relativity as the law of our being,
yes, but relativity, not of the sort that excludes, but is included
in, a higher absolute, even as the planet swings in infinite space.

The trouble with much preaching is that it lacks the essentially
religious insight; in dwelling on man's identities it confuses or
drugs, not clarifies and purges, the spirit. Thus, it obscures the
gulf. Sometimes it evades it, or bridges it by minimizing it, and
genuinely religious people, and those who want to be religious, and
those who might be, know that such preaching is not real and that it
does not move them and, worst of all, the hungry sheep look up and
are not fed. For in such preaching there is no call to humility, no
plea for grace, no sense that the achievement of self-unity is as
much a rescue as it is a reformation. But this sense of the need of
salvation is integral to religion; this is where it has parted company
with humanism. Humanism makes no organic relations between man and
the Eternal. It is as though it thought these would take care of
themselves! In the place of grace it puts pride; pride of caste, of
family, of character, of intellect. But high self-discipline and
pride in the human spirit are not the deepest or the highest notes man
strikes. The cry, not of pride in self, but for fellowship with the
Infinite, is the superlative expression of man. Augustine sounded the
highest note of feeling when he wrote, "O God, Thou hast made us for
Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee." The
words of the Lord Jesus gave the clearest insight of the human mind
when He said, "And when he came to himself, he said, I will arise and
go to my Father."



I hope the concluding paragraphs of the last chapter brought us back
into the atmosphere of religion, into that sort of mood in which the
reality of the struggle for character, the craving of the human spirit
to give and to receive compassion, the cry of the lonely soul for the
love of God, were made manifest. These are the real goods of life to
religious natures; they need this meat which the world knoweth not of;
there is a continuing resolve in them to say, "Good-by, proud world,
I'm going home!" The genuinely religious man must, and should indeed,
live in this world, but he cannot live of it.

Merely to create such an atmosphere then, to induce this sort of mood,
to shift for men their perspectives, until these needs and values rise
once more compelling before their eyes, is a chief end of preaching.
Its object is not so much moralizing or instructing as it is
interpreting and revealing; not the plotting out of the landscape
at our feet, but the lifting of our eyes to the hills, to the fixed
stars. Then we really do see things that are large as large and things
that are small as small. We need that vision today from religious
leaders more than we need any other one thing.

For humanism and naturalism between them have brought us to an almost
complete secularization of preaching, in which its characteristic
elements, its distinctive contribution, have largely faded from
liberal speaking and from the consciousness of its hearers. We have
emphasized man's kinship with nature until now we can see him again
declining to the brute; we have proclaimed the divine Immanence
until we think to compass the Eternal within a facile and finite
comprehension. By thus dwelling on the physical and rational elements
of human experience, religion has come to concern itself to an
extraordinary degree with the local and temporal reaches of faith.
We have lost the sense of communion with Absolute Being and of the
obligation to standards higher than those of the world, which that
communion brings. Out of this identification of man with nature has
come the preaching which ignores the fact of sin; which reduces free
will and the moral responsibility of the individual to the vanishing
point; which stresses the control of the forces of inheritance and
environment to the edge of fatalistic determinism; which leads man
to regard himself as unfortunate rather than reprehensible when moral
disaster overtakes him; which induces that condoning of the moral
rebel which is born not of love for the sinner but of indifference to
his sin; which issues in that last degeneration of self-pity in
which individuals and societies alike indulge; and in that repellent
sentimentality over vice and crime which beflowers the murderer while
it forgets its victim, which turns to ouija boards and levitated
tables to obscure the solemn finality of death and to gloze over the
guilty secrets of the battlefield.

Thus it has come about that we preach of God in terms of the
drawing-room, as though he were some vast St. Nicholas, sitting up
there in the sky or amiably informing our present world, regarding
with easy benevolence His minute and multifarious creations, winking
at our pride, our cruelty, our self-love, our lust, not greatly
caring if we break His laws, tossing out His indiscriminate gifts,
and vaguely trusting in our automatic arrival at virtue. Even as in
philosophy, it is psychologists, experts in empirical science and
methods, and sociologists, experts in practical ethics, who may be
found, while the historian and the metaphysician are increasingly
rare, so in preaching we are amiable and pious and ethical and
practical and informative, but the vision and the absolutism of
religion are a departing glory.

What complicates the danger and difficulty of such a position, with
its confusion of natural and human values, and its rationalizing
and secularizing of theistic thinking, is that it has its measure of
reality. All these observations of naturalist and humanist are half
truths, and for that very reason more perilous than utter falsehoods.
For the mind tends to rest contented within their areas, and so the
partial becomes the worst enemy of the whole. What we have been doing
is stressing the indubitable identity between man and nature and
between the Creator and His creatures to the point of unreality,
forgetting the equally important fact of the difference, the
distinction between the two. But sound knowledge and normal feeling
rest upon observing and reckoning with both aspects of this law of
kinship and contrast. All human experience becomes known to us through
the interplay of what appear to be contradictory needs and opposing
truths within our being. Thus, man is a social animal and can only
find himself in a series of relationships as producer, lover, husband,
father and friend. He is a part of and like unto his kind, his spirit
immanent in his race. But man is also a solitary creature, and in that
very solitariness, which he knows as he contrasts it with his social
interests, he finds identity of self, the something which makes us
"us," which separates us from all others in the world. A Crusoe,
marooned on a South Sea island, without even a black man Friday for
companionship, would soon cease to be a man; personality would forsake
him. But the same Crusoe is equally in need of solitude. The hell of
the barracks, no matter how well conducted, is their hideous lack of
privacy; men condemned by shipwreck or imprisonment to an unbroken and
intimate companionship kill their comrade or themselves. We are all
alike and hence gregarious; we are all different and hence flee as a
bird to the mountain. The reality of human personality lies in neither
one aspect of the truth nor the other, but in both. The truth is found
as we hold the balance between identity and difference. Hence we are
not able to think of personality in the Godhead unless we conceive of
God as being, within Himself, a social no less than a solitary Being.

Again, this law that the truth is found in the balance of the
antinomies appears in man's equal passion for continuity and
permanency and for variety and change. The book of Revelation tells
us that the redeemed, before the great white throne, standing upon the
sea of glass, sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. What has the one
to do with the other? Here is the savage, triumphant chant of the far
dawn of Israel's history, joined with the furthest and latest possible
events and words. Well, it at least suggests the continuity of the
ageless struggle of mankind, showing that the past has its place
in the present, relieving man's horror of the impermanence, the
disjointed character of existence. He wants something orderly and
static. But, like the jet of water in the fountain, his life is
forever collapsing and collapsing, falling in upon itself, its
apparent permanence nothing but a rapid and glittering succession of
impermanences. The dread of growing old is chiefly that, as years
come on, life changes more and faster, becomes a continual process of
readjustment. Therefore we want something fixed; like the sailor with
his compass, we must have some needle, even if a tremulous one, always
pointing toward a changeless star. Yet this is but one half of the
picture. Does man desire continuity?--quite as much does he wish for
variety, cessation of old ways, change and fresh beginnings. The
most terrible figure which the subtle imagination of the Middle Ages
conjured up was that of the Wandering Jew, the man who could not die!
Here, then, we arrive at knowledge, the genuine values of experience,
by this same balancing of opposites. Continuity alone kills; perpetual
change strips life of significance; man must have both.

Now, it is in the religious field that this interests us most. We have
seen that what we have been doing there of late has been to ignore the
fact that reality is found only through this balancing of the law of
difference and identity, contrast and likeness. We have been absorbed
in one half of reality, identifying man with nature, prating of his
self-sufficiency, seeing divinity almost exclusively as immanent in
the phenomenal world. Thus we have not merely been dealing with only
one half of the truth, but that, to use a solecism, the lesser half.

For doubtless men do desire in religion a recognition of the real
values of their physical nature. And they want rules of conduct, a
guide for practical affairs, a scale of values for this world. This
satisfies the craving for temporal adjustment, the sense of the
goodness and worth of what our instinct transmits to us. But it does
nothing to meet that profound dissatisfaction with this world and that
sense of the encumbrances of the flesh which is also a part of reality
and, to the religious man, perhaps the greater part. He wants to turn
away from all these present things and be kept secretly in a pavilion
from the strife of tongues. Here he has no continuing city. Always
while we dwell here we have a dim and restless sense that we are in an
unreal country and we know, in our still moments, that we shall only
come to ourselves when we return to the house of our Father. Hence
men have never been satisfied with religious leaders who chiefly
interpreted this world to them.

And indeed, since July, 1914, and down to and including this very
hour, this idealizing of time, which we had almost accepted as our
office, has had a ghastly exposure. Because there has come upon us all
one of these irrevocable and irremediable disasters, for which time
has no word of hope, to which Nature is totally indifferent, for which
the God of the outgoings and incomings of the morning is too small.
For millions of living and suffering men and women all temporal
and mortal values have been wiped out. They have been caught in a
catastrophe so ruthless and dreadful that it has strewed their bodies
in heaps over the fields and valleys of many nations. Today central
and south and northeastern Europe and western Asia are filled with
idle and hungry and desperate men and women. They have been deprived
of peace, of security, of bread, of enlightenment alike. Something
more than temporal salvation and human words of hope are needed
here. Something more than ethical reform and social readjustment and
economic alleviation, admirable though these are! Something there must
be in human nature that eclipses human nature, if it is to endure so
much! What has the God of this world to give for youth, deprived of
their physical immortality and all their sweet and inalienable human
rights, who are lying now beneath the acre upon acre of tottering
wooden crosses in their soldier's graves? Is there anything in this
world sufficient now for the widow, the orphan, the cripple, the
starving, the disillusioned and the desperate? What Europe wants to
know is why and for what purpose this holocaust--is there anything
beyond, was there anything before it? A civilization dedicated to
speed and power and utility and mere intelligence cannot answer these
questions. Neither can a religion resolved into naught but the ethics
of Jesus answer them. "If in this world only," cries today the voice
of our humanity, "we have hope, then we are of all men the most
miserable!" When one sees our American society of this moment
returning so easily to the physical and the obvious and the practical
things of life; when one sees the church immersed in programs, and
moralizing, and hospitals, and campaigns, and membership drives, and
statistics, and money getting, one is constrained to ask, "What shall
be said of the human spirit that it can forget so soon?"

Is it not obvious, then, that our task for a pagan society and a
self-contained humanity is to restore the balance of the religious
consciousness and to dwell, not on man's identity with Nature, but
on his far-flung difference; not on his self-sufficiency, but on his
tragic helplessness; not on the God of the market place, the office
and the street, an immanent and relative deity, but on the Absolute,
that high and lofty One who inhabiteth eternity? Indeed, we are being
solemnly reminded today that the other-worldliness of religion, its
concern with future, supertemporal things, is its characteristic and
most precious contribution to the world. We are seeing how every human
problem when pressed to its ultimate issue becomes theological. Here
is where the fertile field for contemporary preaching lies. It
is found, not in remaining with those elements in the religious
consciousness which it shares in common with naturalism and humanism,
but in passing over to those which are distinctive to itself alone. It
has always been true, but it is especially true at this moment, that
effective preaching has to do chiefly with transcendent values.

Our task is to assert, first, then, the "otherness" of man, his
difference from Nature, to point out the illusoriness of her phenomena
for him, the derived reality and secondary value of her facts.
These are things that need religious elucidation. The phrase
"other-worldliness" has come, not without reason, to have an evil
connotation among us, but there is nevertheless a genuine disdain
of this world, a sense of high superiority to it and profound
indifference toward it, which is of the essence of the religious
attitude. He who knows that here he is a stranger, sojourning in
tabernacles; that he belongs by his nature, not to this world, but
that he seeks a better, that is to say, a heavenly country, will for
the joy that is set before him, endure a cross and will despise
the shame. He will have a conscious superiority to hostile facts of
whatever sort or magnitude, for he knows that they deceive in so
far as they pretend to finality. When religion has thus acquired a
clear-sighted and thoroughgoing indifference to the natural order,
then, and then only, it begins to be potent within that order. Then,
as Professor Hocking says, it rises superior to the world of facts and
becomes irresistible.[31]

[Footnote 31: _The Meaning of God in Human Experience_, p. 518.]

The time is ripe, then, first, for the preacher to emphasize the
inward and essential difference between man and nature which exists
under the outward likeness, to remind him of this more-than-nature,
this "otherness" of man, without which he would lose his most precious
possession, the sense of personality. Faith begins by recognizing this
transcendent element in man and the acceptance of it is the foundation
of religious preaching. What was the worst thing about the war? Not
its destruction nor its horrors nor its futilities, but its shames;
the dreadful indignities which it inflicted upon man; it treated men
as though they were not souls! No such moral catastrophe could have
overwhelmed us if we had not for long let the brute lie too near the
values and practices of our lives, depersonalizing thus, in politics
and industry and morals and religion, our civilization. It all
proceeded from the irreligious interpretation of human existence, and
the fruits of that interpretation are before us.

The first task of the preacher, then, is to combat the naturalistic
interpretation of humanity with every insight and every conviction
that is within his power. If we are to restore religious values,
rebuild a world of transcendent ends and more-than-natural beauty, we
must begin here with man. In the popular understanding of the phrase
all life is not essentially one in kind; physical self-preservation
and reproduction are not the be-all and the end-all of existence.
There is something more to be expressed in man without which these are
but dust and ashes in the mouth. There is another kind of life mixed
in with this, the obvious. If we cannot express the other world, we
shall not long tolerate this one. To think that this world is all,
leans toward madness; such a picture of man is a travesty, not a
portrait of his nature. Only on some such basic truths as these can
we build character in our young people. Paganism tells them that it
is neither natural nor possible to keep themselves unspotted from the
world. Over against it we must reiterate, You can and you must! for
the man that sinneth wrongeth his own soul. You are something more
than physical hunger and reproductive instinct; you are of spirit no
less than dust. How, then, can you do this great sin against God!

How abundant here are the data with which religious preaching may
deal. Indeed, as Huxley and scores of others have pointed out, it is
only the religious view of man that builds up civilization. A great
community is the record of man's supernaturalism, his uniqueness. It
is built on the "higher-than-self" principle which is involved in the
moral sense itself. And this higher-than-self is not just a collective
naturalism, a social consciousness, as Durkheim and Overstreet and
Miss Harrison would say. The simplest introspective act will prove
that. For a man cannot ignore self-condemnation as if it were only a
natural difficulty, nor disparage it as though it were merely humanly
imposed. We think it comes from that which is above and without,
because it speaks to the solitary and the unique, not the social
and the common part of us. Hence conscience is not chiefly a tribal
product, for it is what separates us from the group and in our
isolation unites us with something other than the group. "Against
Thee, Thee only, have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight." So
religious preaching perpetually holds us up above our natural selves
and the natural order.

Thus man must live by an other-than-natural law if he is to preserve
the family, which is the social unit of civilization. Its very
existence depends upon modifying and transforming natural hunger by a
diviner instinct, by making voluntary repressions, willing sacrifices
of the lower to the higher, the subordinating of the law of self and
might to the law of sacrifice and love--this is what preserves family
life. Animals indeed rear and cherish their young and for the mating
season remain true to one another, but no animality _per se_ ever yet
built a home. There must be a more-than-natural law in the state. Our
national life and honor rest upon the stability of the democracy and
we can only maintain that by walking a very straight and narrow path.
For the peace of freedom as distinguished from precarious license is
a more-than-natural attainment, born of self-repression and social
discipline, the voluntary relinquishment of lesser rights for higher
rights, of personal privileges for the sake of the common good.
Government by the broad and easy path, following the lines of least
resistance, like the natural order, saying might is right, means
either tyranny or anarchy. _Circumspice_! One of the glories of
western civilization is its hospitals. They stand for the supernatural
doctrine of the survival of the unfit, the conviction of the community
that, to take the easy path of casting out the aged and infirm,
the sick and the suffering, would mean incalculable degeneration
of national character, and that the difficult and costly path of
protection and ministering service is both necessary and right. And
why is the reformatory replacing the prison? Because we have learned
that the obvious, natural way of dealing with the criminal certainly
destroys him and threatens to destroy us; and that the hard, difficult
path of reeducating and reforming a vicious life is the one which the
state for her own safety must follow.

Genuine preaching, then, first of all, calls men to repentance, bids
them turn away from their natural selves, and, to find that other and
realer self, enter the straight and narrow gate. The call is not an
arbitrary command, born of a negative and repressive spirit. It is a
profound exhortation based upon a fundamental law of human progress,
having behind it the inviolable sanction of the truth. Such preaching
would have the authentic note. It is self-verifying. It stirs to
answer that quality--both moral and imaginative--in the spirit of man
which craves the pain and difficulty and satisfaction of separation
from the natural order. It appeals to a timeless worth in man which
transcends any values of mere intelligence which vary with the ages,
or any material prosperity which perishes with the using, or any
volitional activity that dies in its own expenditure. Much of the
philosophy of Socrates was long ago outmoded, but Socrates himself, as
depicted in the Phaedo, confronting death with the cup of hemlock in
his hand, saying with a smile, "There is no evil which can happen to
a good man living or dead," has a more-than-natural, an enduring and
transcendent quality. Whenever we preach to the element in mankind
which produces such attitudes toward life and bid it assert itself,
then we are doing religious preaching, and then we speak with power.
Jesus lived within the inexorable circle of the ideas of His time;
He staked much on the coming of the new kingdom which did not appear
either when or as He had first expected it. He had to adjust, as do we
all, His life to His experience, His destiny to His fate. But when He
was hanging on His cross, forgotten of men and apparently deserted by
His God, something in Him that had nothing to do with nature or the
brute rose to a final expression and by its more-than-natural reality,
sealed and authenticated His life. Looking down upon His torturers,
understanding them far better than they understood themselves, He
cried, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." That
cry has no place in nature; it has no application and no meaning
outside the human heart and that which is above, not beneath, the
human heart, from which it is derived. There, then, again was the
supernatural law; there was the more-than-nature in man which makes
nature into human nature; and there is the thing to whose discovery,
cultivation, expression, real preaching is addressed. Every time a man
truly preaches he so portrays what men ought to be, must be, and can
be if they will, that they know there is something here

          "that leaps life's narrow bars
  To claim its birthright with the hosts of heaven!
    A seed of sunshine that doth leaven
  Our earthly dullness with the beams of stars,
    And glorify our clay
  With light from fountains elder than the Day."[32]

[Footnote 32: J.R. Lowell, _Commemoration Ode_, stanza IV, ll. 30-35.]

Such preaching is a perpetual refutation of and rebuke to the
naturalism and imperialism of our present society. It is the call
to the absolute in man, to a clear issue with evil. It would not cry
peace, peace, when there is no peace. It would be living and active,
and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing of
both joints and marrow, quick to discern the thoughts and intents of
the heart.

Following this insistence upon the difference from nature, the
more-than-natural in man, the second thing in religious preaching
will have to be, obviously, the message of salvation. That is to say,
reducing the statement to its lowest terms, if man is to live by such
a law, the law of more-than-nature, then he must have something also
more-than-human to help him in his task. He will need strength from
outside. Indeed, because religion declares that there is such divine
assistance, and that faith can command it, is the chief cause and
reason for our existence. When we cease to preach salvation in some
form or other, we deny our own selves; we efface our own existence.
For no one can preach the more-than-human in mankind without
emphasizing those elements of free will, moral responsibility, the
need and capacity for struggle and holiness in human life which it
indicates, and which in every age have been a part of the message of
Him who said, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is
in heaven, is perfect."

Therefore, as we have previously corrected the half truth of the
naturalist who makes a caricature, not a portrait of man, we must now
in the same way turn to the correcting of the humanist's emphasis upon
man's native capacity and insist upon the complementary truth which
fulfills this moral heroism of mankind, namely, the divine rescue
which answers to its inadequacy. Man must struggle for his victory; he
can win; he cannot win alone. We must then insist upon the doctrine
of salvation, turning ourselves to the other side of the humanist's
picture. Man cannot live by this more-than-natural law unaided. For
not only has he the power to rise above Nature; the same thing gives
him equal capacity to sink beneath her, and, when left to himself, he
generally does so. The preacher does not dare deny the sovereignty
of sin. Humanism hates the very name of sin; it has never made
any serious attempt to explain the consciousness of guilt. Neither
naturalist nor humanist can afford to admit sin, for sin takes man, as
holiness does, outside the iron chain of cause and effect; it breaks
the law; it is not strictly natural. It makes clear enough that man
is outside the natural order in two ways. He is both inferior and
superior to it. He falls beneath, he rises above it. When he acts like
a beast, he is not clean and beastly, but unclean and bestial. When he
lifts his head in moral anguish, bathes all his spirit in the flood
of awe and repentance, is transfigured with the glorious madness of
self-sacrifice, he is so many worlds higher than the beast that their
relationship becomes irrelevant. So we must deal more completely
than humanists do with the central mystery of our experience; man's
impotent idealism, his insight not matched with consummation; the fact
that what he dares to dream of he is not able alone to do.

For the humanist exalts man, which is good; but then he makes him
self-sufficient for the struggle which such exaltation demands, which
is bad. In that partial understanding he departs from truth. And what
is it that makes the futility of so much present preaching? It is the
acceptance of this doctrine of man's moral adequacy and consequently
the almost total lack either of the assurance of grace or of the
appeal to the will. No wonder such exhortations cannot stem the tide
of an ever increasing worldliness. Such preaching stimulates the mind;
in both the better and the worse preachers, it moves the emotions but
it gives men little power to act on what they hear and feel to the
transformation of their daily existence. Thus the humanistic sense of
man's sufficiency, coupled with the inherent distrust of any notion of
help from beyond and above, any belief in a reinforcing power which a
critical rationalism cannot dissect and explain, has gradually ruled
out of court the doctrine of salvation until the preacher's power,
both to experience and to transmit it, has atrophied through disuse.

Who can doubt that one large reason why crude and indefensible
concepts of the Christian faith have such a disconcerting vitality
today is because they carry, in their outmoded, unethical, discredited
forms, the truth of man's insufficiency in himself and the confident
assurance of that something coming from without which will abundantly
complete the struggling life within? They offer the assurance of that
peace and moral victory which man so ardently desires, because they
declare that it is both a discovery and a revelation, an achievement
and a rescue. There are vigorous and rapidly growing popular movements
of the day which rest their summation of faith on the quadrilateral of
an inerrant and verbally inspired Scripture, the full deity of Jesus
Christ, the efficacy of His substitutionary atonement, the speedy
second coming of the Lord. No sane person can suppose that these cults
succeed because of the ethical insight, the spiritual sensitiveness,
the intellectual integrity of such a message. It does not possess
these things. They succeed, in spite of their obscurantism, because
they do confess and meet man's central need, his need to be saved.
The power of that fact is what is able to carry so narrow and so
indefensible a doctrine.

So the second problem of the preacher is clear. Man asserts his
potential independence of the natural law. But to realize that, he
must bridge the gulf between himself and the supernatural lawgiver
to whose dictates he confesses he is subject. He is not free from the
bondage of the lower, except through the bondage to the higher. Nor
can he live by that higher law unaided and alone. Here we strike at
the root of humanism. Its kindly tolerance of the church is built
up on the proud conviction that we, with our distinctive doctrine of
salvation, are superfluous, hence sometimes disingenuous and always
negligible. The humanist believes that understanding takes the place
of faith. What men need is not to be redeemed from their sins, but to
be educated out of their follies.

But does right knowing in itself suffice to insure right doing?
Socrates and Plato, with their indentification of knowledge and
virtue, would appear to think so; the church has gone a long way,
under humanistic pressure, in tacit acquiescence with their doctrine.
Yet most of us, judging alike from internal and personal evidence
and from external and social observation, would say that there was no
sadder or more universal experience than that of the failure of right
knowledge to secure right performance. Right knowledge is not in
itself right living. We have striking testimony on that point from one
of the greatest of all humanists, no less a person than Confucius.
"At seventy," he says, "I could follow what my heart desired without
transgressing the law of measure."[33] The implication of such
testimony makes no very good humanistic apologetic! Most of us, when
desire has failed, can manage to attain, unaided, the identification
of understanding and conduct, can climb to the poor heights of a
worn-out and withered continence. But one wonders a little whether,
then, the climbing seems to be worth while.

[Footnote 33: _Analects_, II, civ.]

But the doctrine usually begins by minimizing the free agency of
the individual, playing up the factors of compulsion, either of
circumstance or inheritance or of ignorance, as being in themselves
chiefly responsible for blameful acts. These are therefore considered
involuntary and certain to be reformed when man knows better and has
the corresponding strength of his knowledge. But Aristotle, who deals
with this Socratic doctrine in the third book of the _Ethics_, very
sensibly remarks, "It is ridiculous to lay the blame of our wrong
actions upon external causes rather than upon the facility with which
we ourselves are caught by such causes, and, while we take credit for
our noble actions to ourselves, lay the blame of our shameful actions
upon pleasure."[34] "The facility with which we are caught"--there
is the religious understanding there is that perversion of will which
conspires with the perils and chances of the world so that together
they may undo the soul.

[Footnote 34: _Ethics_, Book III, ch. ii, p. 61.]

Of course, as Aristotle admits, there is this half truth lying at the
root of the Socratic identification of virtue and knowledge that every
vicious person is ignorant of what he ought to do and what he ought to
abstain from doing in the sense that what he is about to do could
not be defended upon any ground of enlightened self-interest. And
so, while he finds sin sweet and evil pleasant, these are delusive
experiences, which, if he saw life steadily and whole, he would know
as such. But one reason for this ignorance is unwillingness to know.
Good men do evil, and understanding men sin, partly because they are
misled by false ideas, partly, also, because, knowing them false,
they cannot or will not give them up. This is what Goethe very well
understood when he said, "Most men prefer error to truth, because
truth imposes limitations and error does not."

And another reason is that when men do know, they find a deadly and
mysterious, a sort of perverted joy--a sweet and terrible and secret
delight,--in denying their own understanding. Thus right living calls
for a repeated and difficult exercise of the will, what Professor
Babbitt calls "a pulling back of the impulse to the track that
knowledge indicates." Such moral mastery is not identical with moral
perception and most frequently is not its accompaniment, unless
observation and experience are alike fallacious. Thus the whole
argument falls to the ground when we confess that possession of
knowledge does not guarantee the application of it. Therefore the two
things, knowledge and virtue, according to universal experience, are
not identical. Humanists indeed use the word "knowledge" for the most
part in an esoteric sense. Knowledge is virtue in the sense that it
enables us to see virtue as excellent and desirable; it is not virtue
in the sense that it alone enables us to acquire it.

Who, indeed, that has ever lived in the far country does not know
that one factor in its fascination was a bittersweet awareness of the
folly, the inevitable disaster, of such alien surroundings. Who
also does not know that often when the whole will is set to identify
conduct with conviction, it may be, for all its passionate and bitter
sincerity, set in vain. In every hour of every day there are hundreds
of lives that battle honestly, but with decreasing spiritual forces,
with passion and temptation. Sometimes a life is driven by the fierce
gales of enticement, the swift currents of desire, right upon the
jagged rock of some great sin. Lives that have seemed strong and fair
go down every day, do they not, and shock us for a moment with their
irremediable catastrophe? And we must not forget that before they went
down, for many a month or even year they have been hard beset lives.
Before that final and complete ruin, they have been drifting and
struggling, driven and fighting, sin drawing nearer and nearer, their
fated lives urged on, the mind growing darker, the stars in their
souls going out, the steering of their own lives taken from their
hands. Then there has been the sense of the coming danger, the dark
presentiment of how it all must end when the "powers that tend the
soul to help it from the death that cannot die, and save it even in
extremes, begin to vex and plague it." There has been the dreadful
sense of life drifting toward a great crash, nearer and nearer to what
must be the wreck of all things. What does the humanist have to offer
to these men and women who know perfectly well where they are, and
what they are about, and where they would like to be, but who can't
get there and who are, today and every day, putting forth their last
and somber efforts, trying in vain to just keep clear of ruin until
the darkness and the helplessness shall lift and something or someone
shall give them peace!

Now, it is this defect in the will which automatically limits the
power of the intellect. It is this which the Socratic identification
ignores. So while we might readily grant that it is in the essential
nature of things that virtue and truth, wisdom and character,
understanding and goodness, are but two aspects of one thing, is it
not trifling with one of the most serious facts of human destiny
to interpret the truism to mean that, when a man knows that a
contemplated act is wrong or foolish or ugly, he is thereby restrained
from accomplishing it? Knowledge is not virtue in the sense that
mere reason or mere perception can control the will. And this is the
conclusion that Aristotle also comes to when he says: "Some people
say that incontinence is impossible, if one has knowledge. It seems
to them strange, as it did to Socrates, that where knowledge exists in
man, something else should master it and drag it about like a slave.
Socrates was wholly opposed to this idea; he denied the existence of
incontinence, arguing that nobody with a conception of what was best
could act against it, and therefore, if he did so act, his action
must be due to ignorance." And then Aristotle adds, "The theory is
evidently at variance with the facts of experience."[35] Plato himself
exposes the theoretical nature of the assertion, its inhuman demand
upon the will, the superreasonableness which it expects but offers no
way of obtaining, when he says, "Every one will admit that a nature
having in perfection all the qualities which are required in a
philosopher is a rare plant seldom seen among men."[36]

[Footnote 35: _Ethics_, Book VII, ch. iii, pp. 206-207.]

[Footnote 36: _Republic_, VI, 491.]

It would be well if those people who are going about the world today
teaching social hygiene to adolescents (on the whole an admirable
thing to do) but proceeding on the assumption that when youth knows
what is right and what is wrong, and why it is right and why it is
wrong, and what are the consequences of right and wrong, that then,
_ipso facto_, youth will become chaste,--well if they would acquaint
themselves either with the ethics of Aristotle or with the Christian
doctrine of salvation. For if men think that knowledge by itself ever
yet produced virtue in eager and unsated lives, they are either knaves
or fools. They will find that knowledge uncontrolled by a purified
spirit and a reinforced will is already teaching men not how to
be good, but how to sin the more boldly with the better chance of
physical impunity. "Philosophy," says Black, "is a feeble antagonist
before passion, because it does not supply an adequate motive for the
conflict."[37] There were few men in the nineteenth century in whom
knowledge and virtue were more profoundly and completely joined than
in John Henry Newman. But did that subtle intellect suffice? could it
make the scholar into the saint? Hear his own words:

  "O Holy Lord, who with the children three
    Didst walk the piercing flame;
  Help, in those trial hours which, save to Thee,
    I dare not name;
  Nor let these quivering eyes and sickening heart
    Crumble to dust beneath the tempter's dart.

  "Thou who didst once Thy life from Mary's breast
    Renew from day to day;
  O might her smile, severely sweet, but rest
    On this frail clay!
  Till I am Thine with my whole soul, and fear
    Not feel, a secret joy, that Hell is near."

So, only when we include in the term "knowledge" understanding plus
good will, is the humanist position true, and this, I suppose, is
what Aristotle meant when he finally says, "Vice is consistent with
knowledge of some kind, but it excludes knowledge in the full and
proper sense of the word."[38]

[Footnote 37: _Culture and Restraint_, p. 104.]

[Footnote 38: _Ethics_, Book VII, ch. v, p. 215.]

Now, so finespun a discussion of intricate and psychological
subtleties is mildly interesting presumably to middle-aged scholars,
but I submit that a half truth that needs so much explanation and
so many admissions before it can be made safe or actual, is a rather
dangerous thing to offer to adolescence or to a congregation of
average men and women. It cannot sound to them very much like the good
news of Jesus. Culture is a precious thing, but no culture, without
the help of divine grace and the responsive affection on our part
which that grace induces, will ever knit men together in a kingdom
of God, a spiritual society. As long ago as the second century Celsus
understood that. He says in his polemic against Christianity, as
quoted by Origen, "If any one suppose that it is possible that the
people of Asia and Europe and Africa, Greeks and barbarians, should
agree to follow one law, he is hopelessly ignorant."[39] Now, Celsus
was proceeding on the assumption that Christianity was only another
philosophy, a new intellectual system, and he was merely exposing the
futility of all such unaided intellectualism.

[Footnote 39: _Origen, contra Celsum_, VIII, p. 72.]

It is, therefore, of prime importance for the preacher to remember
that humanism, or any other doctrine which approaches the problem of
life and conduct other than by moral and spiritual means, can never
take the place of the religious appeal, because it does not touch the
springs of action where motives are born and from which convictions
arise. You do not make a man moral by enlightening him; it is nearer
the truth to say that you enlighten him when you make him moral.
"Blessed are the pure in heart," said Jesus, "for they shall see
God. If any man wills to do the will, he shall know the doctrine."
Education does not wipe out crime nor an understanding mind make a
holy will. The last half of the nineteenth century made it terribly
clear that the learning and science of mankind, where they are
divorced from piety, unconsecrated by a spiritual passion, and largely
directed by selfish motives, can neither benefit nor redeem the race.
Consider for a moment the enormous expansion of knowledge which the
world has witnessed since the year 1859. What prodigious accessions
to the sum of our common understanding have we seen in the natural and
the humane sciences; and what marvelous uses of scientific knowledge
for practical purposes have we discovered! We have mastered in these
latter days a thousand secrets of nature. We have freed the mind from
old ignorance and ancient superstition. We have penetrated the secrets
of the body, and can almost conquer death and indefinitely prolong
the span of human days. We face the facts and know the world as our
fathers could never do. We understand the past and foresee the future.
But the most significant thing about our present situation is this:
how little has this wisdom, in and of itself, done for us! It has made
men more cunning rather than more noble. Still the body is ravaged and
consumed by passion. Still men toil for others against their will,
and the strong spill the blood of the weak for their ambition and the
sweat of the children for their greed. Never was learning so diffused
nor the content of scholarship so large as now. Yet the great cities
are as Babylon and Rome of old, where human wreckage multiplies, and
hideous vices flourish, and men toil without expectancy, and live
without hope, and millions exist--not live at all--from hand to mouth.
As we survey the universal unrest of the world today and see the
horrors of war between nation and nation, and between class and class,
it would not be difficult to make out a case for the thesis that the
scientific and intellectual advances of the nineteenth century
have largely worked to make men keener and more capacious in their
suffering. And at least this is true; just so far as the achievement
of the mind has been divorced from the consecration of the spirit,
in just so far knowledge has had no beneficent potency for the human

Is it not clear, then, that preaching must deal again, never more
indeed than now, with the religion which offers a redemption from sin?
This is still foolishness to the Greeks, but to those who believe it
is still the power of God unto salvation. Culture is not religion.
When the preacher substitutes the one for the other, he gives stones
for bread, and the hungry sheep go elsewhere or are not fed. It is
this emasculated preaching, mulcted of its spiritual forces, which
awakes the bitterest distrust and deepest indignation that human
beings know. They are fighting the foes of the flesh and the enemies
of the spirit, enduring the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
standing by the open graves of their friends and kindred, saying
there, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." And then,
with all this mystery and oppression of life upon them they enter the
doors of the house of God and listen to a polite essay, are told of
the consolations of art, reminded of the stupidity of evil, assured of
the unreality of sin, offered the subtle satisfactions of a cultivated
intelligence. In just so far as they are genuine men and women, they
resent such preaching as an insult, a mockery and an offense. No, no;
something more is needed than the humanist can offer for those who are
hard-pressed participants in the stricken fields of life.

Religious preaching, then, begins with these two things: man's
solitary place in nature, man's inability to hold that place alone.
Hence two more things are necessary as essentials of great preaching
in a pagan day. The clear proclamation of the superhuman God, the
transcendent spirit who is able to control and reinforce the spirit of
man, and the setting forth of some way or some mediator, through whom
man may meet and touch that Spirit so far removed yet so infinitely
near and dear to him. It is with these matters that we shall be
occupied in the next chapter.



If the transcendent element in man which endows him with the proud if
tragic sense of personality is the first message of the preacher to
a chattering and volatile world, and the second is the setting forth
of what this endowment demands and how pitiably man fails to meet it,
then the third message is of the Rock that is higher than he, even
inclusive of his all, in whose composed and comprehensive Being his
baffled and divided person may be gathered up, brought to its own
consummation of self. The rivers that pour tumultuously to their ocean
bed, the ascending fire ever falling backward but leaping upward to
the sun, are poor figures to express the depth and irresistible urge
of the passion in man for completeness, for repose, for power, for
self-perception in self-expression, for victory and the attainment
of the end. Conscious and divided spirit that he is, man turns away,
sooner or later, with utter weariness and self-disgust from the nature
which pleases him by betraying him, which maims his person that he
may enjoy his senses, and reaches out after the other-worldly, the
supernatural, the invisible and eternal Hope and Home of the Soul.

Humanism which bids men sufficiently find God within themselves, if
they think they need to find Him at all, seems not to comprehend this
passion of pride and humility, this inner perception of the futility
and the blunder of the self-contained life. Life is so obviously
not worth its brevity, its suffering, its withheld conclusions, its
relative insignificance, if it must thus stand alone. All that can
save it, preserve to it worth and dignity, maintain its self-respect
and mastery, is to find that abundant power without which confesses,
certifies and seals the divinity within.

How foredoomed to failure, then, especially in an age when men are
surmounting life by placating it, enjoying it by being easy with
themselves--how foredoomed to failure is the preaching which continues
in the world of religion this exaltation of human sufficiency and
natural values, domesticating them within the church. It is to laugh
to see them there! It means so transparent a surrender, so pitiable a
confession of defeat. If anything can bring the natural man into the
sanctuary it is that there he has to bring his naturalness to the bar
of a more-than-natural standard. If he comes at all, it will not
be for entertainment and expansion but because there we insist on
reverence and restraint. If church and preacher offer only a pietized
and decorous naturalism, when he can get the real thing in naked and
unashamed brutality without; if they offer him only another form of
humanistic living, he will stay away. Such preaching is as boresome
as it is unnecessary. Such exercise of devotion is essentially
superfluous and a rather humorous imposition upon the world. The only
thing that will ever bring the natural man to listen to preaching is
when it insists upon something more-than-the-natural and calls him to
account regarding it; when it speaks of something different and better
for him than this world and what it can offer. "Take my _yoke_ upon
you" is the attractive invitation, "make inner obeisance and outward
obedience to something higher than thy poor self."

It is clear, then, that these observations have a bearing upon our
preaching of the doctrine of God. There is a certain illogicality,
something humorous, in going into a church, of all places in the
world, to be told how like we are to Him. The dull and average
personality, the ordinary and not very valuable man, can probably
listen indifferently and with a slow-growing hardness and dim
resentment to that sort of preaching for a number of years. But the
valuable, the highly personalized people, the saints and the sinners,
the great rebels and the great disciples, who are the very folk for
whom the church exists, would hate it, and they would know the final
bitterness of despair if they thought that this was so. Either saint
or sinner would consider it the supreme insult, the last pitch of
insolence, for the church to be telling them that it is true.

For they know within themselves that it is a lie. Their one hope hangs
on God because His thoughts are not their thoughts, nor His ways their
ways; because He seeth the end from the beginning; because in Him
there is no variableness, neither shadow that is caused by turning;
because no man shall see His face and live. They, the sinners and the
saints, do not want to be told that they, within themselves, can heal
themselves and that sin has no real sinfulness. That is tempting them
to the final denial, the last depth of betrayal, the blurring of moral
values, the calling of evil good and the saying that good is evil.
They know that this is the unpardonable madness. In the hours when
they, the saints and sinners, wipe their mouths and say, "We have done
no harm"; in the days when what they love is ugliness because it is
ugly and shameless, and reckless expression because it is so terrible,
so secretly appalling, so bittersweet with the sweetness of death,
they know that it is the last affront to have the church--the one
place where men expect they will be made to face the facts--bow these
facts out of doors.

No, we readily grant that the religious approach to the whole truth
and to final reality is like any other one, either scientific,
economic, political, a partial approach. It sets forth for the most
part only a group of facts. When it does not emphasize other facts,
it does not thereby deny them. But it insists that the truth of man's
differences, man's helplessness which the differences reveal, and
man's fate hanging therefore upon a transcendent God, are the key
truths for the religious life. It is with that aspect of life the
preacher deals, and if he fails to grapple with these problems and
considerations, ignores these facts, his candlestick has been removed.

The argument for a God, then, within His world, but also distinct
from it, above its evil custom and in some sense untouched by
its all-leveling life, is essential to the preservation of human
personality, and personality is essential to dignity, to decency, to
hope. The clearest and simplest thing to be said about the Hebrew God,
lofty and inaccessible Being, with whom nevertheless His purified and
obedient children might have relationships, or about the "living
God" of Greek theology, far removed from us but with whose deathless
goodness, beauty and truth our mortality by some mediator may be
endowed, is that the argument that supports such transcendence is
the argument from necessity. It is the facts of experience, the very
stuff of human life, coming down alike from Hebraic and Hellenic
civilization, which demand Him. Immanence and transcendence are merely
theistic terms for identity and difference. Through them is revealed
and discovered personality, the "I" which is the ultimate fact of
my consciousness. I can but reckon from the known to the unknown.
The world which produced me is also, then, a cosmic identity and
difference. In that double fact is found divine personality. But
that aspect of His Person, that portion of the fact which feeds
the imaginative and volitional life, is the glorious and saving
unlikeness of God--His unthinkable and inexpressible glory; His utter
comprehension and unbelievable compassion; His justice which knows no
flaw and brooks no evasion and cannot be swerved; His power which
may not be withstood and hence is a sure and certain tenderness; His
hatred of sin, terrible and flaming, a hatred which will send sinful
men through a thousand hells, if they will have them, and can only be
saved thereby; His love for men, which is what makes Him hate their
sin and leads Him by His very nature as God to walk into hell with the
sinner, suffering with him a thousand times more than the sinner is
able to understand or know,--like the Paul who could not wish himself,
for himself, in hell, but who did wish himself accursed of God for
his brethren's sake; like Jesus, who, in Gethsemane, would for Himself
avoid His cross, but who accepted it and was willing to hang, forsaken
of God, upon it, for the lives of men, identifying Himself to the
uttermost with their fate. Yes; it is such a supernal God--that God
who is apart, incredible, awful--that the soul of humanity craves and

Of course, here again, as throughout these discussions, we are
returning to a form of the old dualism. We cannot seem to help it. We
may construct philosophies like Hegel's in which thesis and antithesis
merge in a higher synthesis; we may use the dual view of the world as
representing only a stage, a present achievement in cosmic progress or
human understanding. But that does not alter the incontestable witness
of present experience that the religious consciousness is based upon,
interwoven with, the sense of the cosmic division without, and the
unresolved moral dualism within the individual life. It is important
enough to remember, however, that we have rejected, at least for this
generation, the old scholastic theologies founded on this general
experience. Fashions of thought change with significant facility;
there is not much of the Absolute about them! Nevertheless we cannot
think with forgotten terms. Therefore ours is no mechanically divided
world where man and God, nature and supernature, soul and body, belong
to mutually exclusive territories. We do not deny the principle of
identity. Hence we have discarded that old view of the world and all
the elder doctrines of an absentee creator, a worthless and totally
depraved humanity, a legalistic or substitutionary atonement, a
magical and non-understandable Incarnation which flowed from it. But
we are not discarding with them that other aspect of the truth, the
principle of separateness, nor those value judgments, that perpetual
vision of another nature, behind and beneath phenomena, from which
the old dualism took its rise. It is the form which it assumed, the
interpretation of experience which it gave, not the facts themselves,
obscure but stubborn as they are, which it confessed, that we have
dropped. Identity and difference are still here; man is a part of his
world, but he is also apart from it. God is in nature and in us; God
is without and other than nature and most awfully something other than

Indeed, the precise problem of the preacher today is to keep the old
supernatural values and drop the old vocabulary with the philosophy
which induced it. We must acknowledge the universe as one, and yet be
able to show that the He or the It, beyond and without the world, is
its only conceivable beginning, its only conceivable end, the chief
hope of its brevity, the only stay of its idealism. It was the
arbitrary and mechanical completeness of the old division, not the
reality that underlay the distinction itself, which parted company
with truth and hence lost the allegiance of the mind. It was that the
old dualism tried to lock up this, the most baffling of all realities,
in a formula,--that was what undid it. But we shall be equally foolish
if now, in the interests of a new artificial clearness, we deny
another portion of experience just as our fathers ignored certain
other facts in the interests of their too well-defined systems. We
cannot hold to the old world view which would bend the modern mind to
the support of an inherited interpretation of experience and therefore
would not any longer really explain or confirm it. Neither can we hold
new views which mutilate the experience and leave out some of the most
precious elements in it, even if in so doing we should simplify the
problem for the mind. It would be an unreal simplification; it would
darken, not illumine, the understanding; we should never rest in it.
Nor do we need to be concerned if the intellect cannot perfectly
order or easily demonstrate the whole of the religious life, fit each
element with a self-verifying defense and explanation. No man of the
world, to say nothing of a man of faith or imagination, has ever yet
trusted to a purely intellectual judgment.

So we reject the old dualism, its dichotomized universe, its two sorts
of authority, its prodigious and arbitrary supernaturalism. But we do
not reject what lay behind it. Still we wrestle with the angel, lamed
though we are by the contest, and we cannot let him go until the day
breaks and the shadows flee away. It would be easier perhaps to give
up the religious point of view, but for that ease we should pay with
our life. For that swift answer, achieved by leaving out prime factors
in the problem, we should be betraying the self for whose sake alone
any answer is valuable. It does not pay to cut such Gordian knots! Our
task, then, is to preach transcendence again, not in terms of the old
absolutist philosophy, but in terms of the perceptions, the needs, the
experience of the human heart and mind and will which produced that

Nor is this so hard to do. Now, as always for the genuinely religious
temperament, there are abundant riches of material lying ready to its
hand. It is not difficult to make transcendence real and to reveal to
men their consummate need of it when we speak of it in the language
of experience and perception. What preaching should avoid is
the abstractions of an archaic system of thought with all their
provocative and contentious elements, the mingled dogmatism and
incompleteness which any worked-out system contains. It is so foolish
in the preacher to turn himself into a lay philosopher. Let him keep
his insight clear, through moral discipline keep his intuitions high,
his spirit pure, and then he can furnish the materials for philosophy.

Thus an almost universal trait of the religious temperament is in
its delight in beauty. Sometimes it is repressed by an irreligious
asceticism or narrowed and stunted by a literal and external faith.
But when the religious man is left free, it is appropriate to his
genius that he finds the world full of a high pleasure crowded with
sound, color, fragrance, form, in which he takes exquisite delight.
There is, in short, a serene and poetic naturalism, loosely called
"nature-worship," which is keenly felt by both saints and sinners.
All it needs for its consecration and perfection is to help men to
see that this naturalism is vital and precious because, as a matter
of fact, it is something more than naturalism, and more than pleasure

Recall, for instance, the splendors of the external world and that
best season of our climate, the long, slow-breathing autumn. What
high pleasure we take in those hushed days of mid-November in the
soft brown turf of the uplands, the fragrant smell of mellow earth and
burning leaves, the purple haze that dims and magnifies the quiescent
hills. Who is not strangely moved by that profound and brooding peace
into which Nature then gathers up the multitudinous strivings, the
myriad activities of her life? Who does not love to lie, in those
slow-waning days upon the sands which hold within their golden cup the
murmuring and dreaming sea? The very amplitude of the natural world,
its far-flung grace and loveliness, spread out in rolling moor and
winding stream and stately forest marching up the mountain-side,
subdues and elevates the spirit of a man.

Now, so it has always been and so men have always longed to be the
worshipers of beauty. Therefore they have believed in a conscious and
eternal Spirit behind it. Because again we know that personality is
the only thing we have of absolute worth. A man cannot, therefore,
worship beauty, wholly relinquish himself to its high delights, if he
conceives of this majestic grace as impersonal and inanimate. For that
which we worship must be greater than we. Behind it, therefore, just
because it seems to us so beautiful, must be something that calls to
the hidden deeps of the soul, something intimately akin to our own
spirits. So man worships not nature, but the God of nature; senses an
Eternal Presence behind all gracious form. For that interprets beauty
and consecrates the spell of beauty over us. This gives a final
meaning to what the soul perceives is an utter loveliness. This gives
to beauty an eternal and cosmic significance commensurate to its charm
and power. As long as men's hearts surge, too, when the tide yearns
up the beach; as long as their souls become articulate when the birds
sing in the dawn, and the flowers lift themselves to the sun; so long
will men believe that only from a supreme and conscious Loveliness,
a joyous and a gracious Spirit could have come the beauty which is so
intimately related to the spirit of a man.

But not all saints and sinners are endowed with this joy and insight,
this quick sensitiveness to beauty. Some of them cannot find the
eternal and transcendent God in a loveliness which, by temperament,
they either underrate or do not really see. There are a great many
good people who cannot take beauty seriously. They become wooden and
suspicious and uncomfortable whenever they are asked to perceive or
enjoy a lovely object. Incredible though it seems, it appears to them
to be unworthy of any final allegiance, any complete surrender, any
unquestioning joy. But there are other ways in which they, too, may
come to this sense of transcendence, other aspects of experience which
also demand it. Most often it is just such folk who cannot perceive
beauty, because they are practical or scientific or condemned to mean
surroundings, who do feel to the full the grim force and terror of
the external world. Prudence, caution, hard sense are to the fore with
them! Very well; there, too, in these perceptions is an open door for
the human spirit to transcend its environment, get out of its physical
shell. The postulate of the absolute worth of beauty may be an
argument for God drawn from subjective necessity. But the postulate of
sovereign moral Being behind the tyranny and brutality of nature is
an argument of objective necessity as well; here we all need God to
explain the world.

For we deal with what certainly appear to be objective aspects of the
truth, when we regard ourselves in our relation to the might of the
physical universe. For even as men feed upon its beauty, so they have
found it necessary to discover something which should enable them to
live above and unafraid of its material and gigantic power. We have
already seen how there appears to be a cosmic hostility to human life
which sobers indeed those who are intelligent enough to perceive
it. It is only the fool or the brute or the sentimentalist who is
unterrified by nature. The man of reflection and imagination sees his
race crawling ant-like over its tiny speck of slowly cooling earth and
surrounded by titanic and ruthless forces which threaten at any moment
to engulf it. The religious man knows that he is infinitely greater
than the beasts of the field or the clods of the highway. Yet Vesuvius
belches forth its liquid fire and in one day of stark terror the great
city which was full of men is become mute and desolate. The proud
liner scrapes along the surface of the frozen berg and crumples like
a ship of cards. There is a splash, a cry, a white face, a lifted
arm, and then all the pride and splendor, all the hopes and fears, the
gorgeous dreams, the daring thoughts are gone. But the ice floats on
unscarred and undeterred and the ocean tosses and heaves just as it
did before.

Now, if this is all, if there is for us only the physical might of
nature and the world is only what it seems to be; if there is no other
God except such as can be found within this sort of cosmic process,
then human life is a sardonic mockery, and self-respect a silly
farce, and all the heroism of the heart and the valor of the mind the
unmeaning activities of an insignificant atom. The very men who will
naturally enter your churches are the ones who have always found that
theory of life intolerable. It doesn't take in all the facts. They
could not live by it and the soul of the race, looking out upon this
universe of immeasurable material bulk, has challenged it and dared to
assert its own superiority.

So by this road these men come back to the transcendent God without
whom they cannot guard that integrity of personality which we are all
set to keep. For here there is no way of believing in oneself, no
way of enduring this world or our place in it and no tolerable way of
understanding it except we look beneath this cosmic hostility and
find our self-respect and a satisfying cosmic meaning in perceiving
spiritual force, a conscious ethical purpose, which interpenetrates
the thunder and the lightning, which lies behind the stars as they
move in their perpetual courses. "Through it the most ancient heavens
are fresh and strong." Integrity of personality in such a world as
this, belief in self, without which life is dust and ashes in the
mouth, rest on the sublime assumption that suffusing material force
is ethical spirit, more like unto us than it, controlling force in the
interest of moral and eternal purposes. In these purposes living, not
mechanical, forces play a major part.

Of course, to all such reasoning the Kantians and humanists reply that
these notions of an objective and eternal beauty, of a transcendent
and actual Cosmic Being exist within the mind. They are purely
subjective ideas, they are bounded by the inexorable circle of our
experience, hence they offer no proof of any objective reality which
may in greater or less degree correspond to them.

However, there must be a "source" of these ideas. To which the
philosophers reply, Yes, they are "primitive and necessary," produced
by reason only, without borrowing anything from the senses or the
understanding. Yet there is no sufficient evidence that the idea of
God is thus produced by any faculty of mind acting in entire freedom
from external influence. On the contrary, the idea appears to owe much
to the operation of external things upon the mind; it is not then the
wholly unaffected product of reason. It is a response no less than
an intuition. Like all knowledge a discovery, but the discovery of
something there which could be discovered, hence, in that sense, a

It is not necessary, then, for men to meet their situation in the
cosmos by saying with Kant: We will act as though there were a God,
although we are always conscious that we have no real knowledge of
Him as an external being. In the light of the tragic circumstances of
humanity, this is demanding the impossible. No sane body of men will
ever get sufficient inspiration for life or find an adequate solution
for the problem of life by resting upon mere value judgments which
they propose, by an effort of will, to put in the place of genuine
reality judgments. Indeed, there is a truly scholastic naïveté, a
sort of solemn and unconscious humor, in seriously proposing that
men should vitalize and consecrate their deepest purposes and most
difficult experiences by hypothesizing mere appearances and illusions.

Nor are we willing either to say with Santayana that all our sense of
the beauty of the world is merely pleasure objectified and that we can
infer no eternal Beauty from it. We are aware that there cannot be an
immediate knowledge of a reality distinct from ourselves, that all
our knowledge must be, in the nature of the case, an idea, a mental
representation, that we can never know the Thing Itself. But if we
believe, as we logically and reasonably may, that our subjective ideas
are formed under the influence of objects unknown but without us,
produced by stimuli, real, if not perceived apart from our own
consciousness, then we may say that what we have is a mediate or
representative knowledge not only of an Eternal Being but formed under
the influence of that Being. Nor does the believer ask for more. He
does not expect to see the King in His beauty; he only needs to know
that He is, that He is there.

How self-verifying and moving, then, are the appeals ready to our
hands. As long as man with the power to question, to strive, to
aspire, to endure, to suffer, lives in a universe of ruthless and
overwhelming might, so long, if he is to understand it or maintain
his reason and his dignity, he will believe it to be controlled by a
Spirit beyond no less than within, from whom his spirit is derived. It
is out of the struggle to revere and conserve human personality, out
of the belief in the indefectible worth and honor of selfhood that
our race has fronted a universe in arms, and pitting its soul against
nature has cried, "God is my refuge: underneath me, at the very moment
when I am engulfed in earthquake shock or shattered in the battle's
roar, there are everlasting arms!" There is something which is too
deep for tears in the unconquerable idealism, the utter magnanimity
of the faith of the human spirit in that which will answer to itself,
as evidenced in this forlorn and glorious adventure of the soul.
Sometimes we are constrained to ask ourselves, How can the heart of
man go so undismayed through the waste places of the world?

But, of course, the preacher's main task is to interpret man's moral
experience, which drives him out to search for the eternal in
the terms of the "other" and redeeming God. We have spoken of the
depersonalizing of religion which paganism and humanism alike have
brought upon the world. One evidence of that has been the way in
which we have confounded the social expressions of religion with its
individual source. We are so concerned with the effect of our religion
upon the community that we have forgotten that the heart of religion
is found in the solitary soul. All of which means that we have here
again yielded to the time spirit that enfolds us and have come to
think of man as religious if he be humane. But that is not true. No
man is ever religious until he becomes devout. And indeed no man of
our sort--the saint and sinner sort--is ever long and truly humane
unless the springs of his tenderness for men are found in his ever
widening and deepening gratitude to God! Hence no man was ever yet
able to preach the living God until he understood that the central
need in human life is to reconcile the individual conscience to
itself, compose the anarchy of the spiritual life. Men want to be
happy and be fed; but men must have inward peace.

We swing back, therefore, to the native ground of preaching, approach
the religious problem, now, not from the aesthetic or the scientific,
but from the moral angle. Here we are dealing with the most poignant
of all human experiences. For it is in this intensely personal world
of moral failure and divided will that men are most acutely aware of
themselves and hence of their need of that other-than-self beyond.
The sentimental idealizing of contemporary life, the declension of the
humanist's optimism into that superficial complacency which will not
see what it does not like or what it is not expedient to see, makes
one's mind to chuckle while one's heart doth ache. There is a brief
heyday, its continuance dependent upon the uncontrollable factors
of outward prosperity, physical and nervous vigor, capacity for
preoccupation with the successive novelties of a diversified and
complicated civilization, in which even men of religious temperament
can minimize or ignore, perhaps sincerely disbelieve in, their divided
life. Sometimes we think we may sin and be done with it. But always in
the end man must come back to this moral tragedy of the soul. Because
sin will not be done with us when we are done with it. Every evil
is evil to him that does it and sooner or later we are compelled
to understand that to be a sinner is the sorest and most certain
punishment for sinning.

Then the awakening begins. Then can preaching stir the heart until
deep answereth unto deep. It can talk of the struggle with moral
temptation and weakness; of the unstable temperament which oscillates
between the gutter and the stars; of the perversion or abuse of
impulses good in themselves; of the dreadful dualism of the soul. For
these are inheritances which have made life tragic in every generation
for innumerable human beings. Whoever needed to explain to a company
of grown men and women what the cry of the soul for its release from
passion is? Every generation has its secret pessimists, brooding over
the anarchy of the spirit, the issues of a distracted life. We need
not ask with Faust, "Where is that place which men call 'Hell'?" nor
wait for Mephistopheles to answer,

  "Hell is in no set place, nor is it circumscribed,
  For where we are--is Hell!"

Now, it is from such central and poignant experiences as these that
men have been constrained to look outward for a God. For these mark
the very disintegration of personality, the utter dissipation of
selfhood. That is the inescapable horror of sin. That is what we mean
when we say sinners are lost; so they are, they are lost to their own
selves. With what discriminating truth the father in the parable of
the lost boy speaks. "This, my son," he says, "was dead though he is
alive again." So it is with us; being is the price we pay for sinning.
The more we do wrong the less we are. How then shall we become alive

It is out of the shame and passion, the utter need of the human heart,
which such considerations show to be real that men have built up their
redemptive faiths. For all moral victory is conditioned upon help from
without. To be sure each will and soul must strive desperately, even
unto death, yet all that strife shall be in vain unless One stoops
down from above and wrestles with us in the conflict. For the sinner
must have two things, both of them beyond his unaided getting, or he
will die. He must be released from his captivity. Who does not know
the terrible restlessness, that grows and feeds upon itself and then
does grow some more, of the man bound by evil and wanting to get out?
The torture of sin is that it deprives us of the power to express
ourselves. The cry of moral misery, therefore, is always the groaning
of the prisoner. Oh, for help to break the bars of my intolerable
and delicious sin that I may be myself once more! Oh, for some power
greater than I which, being greater, can set me free!

But more than the sinner wants to be free does he want to be kept.
Along with the passion for liberty is the desire for surrender. Again,
then, he wants something outside himself, some Being so far above the
world he lives in that it can take him, the whole of him, break his
life, shake it to its foundations, then pacify, compose it, make it
anew. He is so tired of his sin; he is so weary with striving; he
wants to relinquish it all; get far away from what he is; flee like
a bird to the mountain; lay down his life before the One like whom he
would be. So he wants power, he wants peace. He would be himself, he
would lose himself. He prays for freedom, he longs for captivity.

Now, out of these depths of human life, these vast antinomies of the
spirit, has arisen man's belief in a Saviour-God. Sublime and awful
are the sanctions upon which it rests. Out of the extremity and
definiteness of our need we know that He must be and we know what He
must be like. He is the One to whom all hearts are open, all desires
known, from whom no secrets are hid. Who could state the mingling of
desire and dread with which men strive after, and hide from, such
a God? We want Him, yet until we have Him how we fear Him. For that
inclusive knowledge of us which is God, if only we can bear to come to
it, endows us with freedom. For then all the barriers are down, there
is nothing to conceal, nothing to explain, nothing to hold back. Then
reality and appearance coincide, character and condition correspond.
I am what I am before Him. Supreme reality from without answers and
completes my own, and makes me real, and my reality makes me free.

But if He thus knows me, and through that knowledge every inner
inhibition melts in His presence and every damning secret's out, and
all my life is spread like an open palm before His gaze, and I am come
at last, through many weary roads, unto my very self, why then I can
let go, I can relinquish myself. The dreadful tension's gone and in
utter surrender the soul is poured out, until, spent and expressed,
rest and peace flood back into the satisfied life. So the life is
free; so the life is bound. So a man stands upon his feet; so he
clings to the Rock that is higher than he. So the life is cleansed in
burning light; so the soul is hid in the secret of God's presence. So
men come to themselves; so men lose themselves in the Eternal. There
is perfect freedom at last because we have attained to complete
captivity. There is power accompanied by peace. That is the gift which
the vision of a God, morally separate from, morally other than we,
brings to the inward strife, the spiritual agony of the world. This
is the need which that faith satisfies. It is, I suppose, in this
exulting experience of moral freedom and spiritual peace which comes
to those men who make the experiment of faith that they, for the most
part, find their sufficient proof of the divine reality. Who ever
doubted His existence who could cry with all that innumerable company
of many kindreds and peoples and tongues:

  "He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay;
  And he set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.
  And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God."

Here, then, is the preaching which is religious. How foolish are we
not to preach it more! How trivial and impertinent it is to question
the permanence of the religious interpretation of the world! What
a revelation of personal insignificance it is to fail to revere the
majesty of the devout and aspiring life! That which a starved and
restless and giddy world has lost is this pool of quietness, this
tower of strength, this cleansing grace of salvation, this haven of
the Spirit. Belief in a transcendent deity is as natural as hunger
and thirst, as necessary as sleep and breathing. It was the inner and
essential needs of our fathers' lives which drove them out to search
for Him. It will be the inner and essential needs of the lives of our
children that shall bring them to the altar where their fathers and
their fathers' fathers bowed down before them. Are we going to be
afraid to keep its fires burning?

And so we come to our final and most difficult aspect of this
transcendent problem. We have talked of the man who is separate from
nature, and who knows himself as man because behind nature he sees
the God from whom he is separate, too. We have seen how he needs
that "otherness" in God to maintain his personality and how the gulf
between him and that God induces that sense of helplessness which
makes the humility and penitence of the religious life. We must come
now to our final question. How is he to bridge the gulf? By what power
can he go through with this experience we have just been relating and
find his whole self in a whole world? How can he dare to try it? How
can he gain power to achieve it?

Perhaps this is the central difficulty of all religion. It is
certainly the one which the old Greeks felt. Plato, the father of
Christian theology, and all neo-platonists, knew that the gulf is
here between man and God and they knew that something or someone must
bridge it for us. They perceived that man, unaided, cannot leap it at
a stride. We proceed, driven by the facts of life, to the point where
the soul looks up to the Eternal and confesses the kinship, and knows
that only in His light shall it see light, and that it only shall be
satisfied when it awakes in His likeness. But how shall the connection
be made? What shall enable us to do that mystic thing, come back
to God? We have frightful handicaps in the attempt. How shall the
distrust that sin creates, the hardness that sin forms, the despair
and helplessness that sin induces, the dreadful indifference which
is its expression,--how shall they be removed? How shall the unfaith
which the mystery, the suffering, the evil of the world induce be
overcome? Being a sinner I do not dare, and being ignorant I do not
believe, to come. God is there and God wants us; like as a father
pitieth his children so He pitieth us. He knoweth our frame, He
remembereth that we are dust. We know that is true; again we do not
know it is true. All the sin that is in us and all which that sin
has done to us insists and insists that it is not true. And the mind
wonders--and wonders. What shall break that distrust; and melt away
the hardness so that we have an open mind; and send hope into despair,
hope with its accompanying confidence to act; change unfaith to
belief, until, in having faith, we thereby have that which faith
believes in? How amazing is life! We look out into the heavenly
country, we long to walk therein, we have so little power to stir hand
or foot to gain our entrance. We know it is there but all the facts of
our rebellious or self-centered life, individual and associated alike,
are against it and therefore we do not know that it is there.

Philosophy and reason and proofs of logic cannot greatly help us here.
No man was ever yet argued into the kingdom of God. We cannot convince
ourselves of our souls. For we are creatures, not minds; lives, not
ideas. Only life can convince life; only a Person but, of course,
a transcendent person that is more like Him than like us, can make
that Other-who-lives certain and sure for us. This necessity for some
intermediary who shall be a human yet more-than-human proof that
God is and that man may be one with Him; this reinforcing of the old
argument from subjective necessity by its verification in the actual
stuff of objective life, has been everywhere sought by men.

Saviours, redeemers, mediators, then, are not theological manikins.
They are not superfluous figures born of a mistaken notion of
the universe. They are not secondary gods, concessions to our
childishness. They, too, are called for in the nature of things. But
to really mediate they must have the qualities of both that which they
transmit and of those who receive the transmission. Most of all they
must have that "other" quality, so triumphant and self-verifying that
seeing it constrains belief. A mediator wholly unlike ourselves would
be a meaningless and mocking figure. But a mediator who was chiefly
like ourselves would be a contradiction in terms!

So we come back again to the old problem. Man needs some proof that he
who knows that he is more than dust can meet with that other life from
whose star his speck has been derived. Something has got to give him
powerful reinforcement for this supreme effort of will, of faith. If
only he could know that he and it ever have met in the fields of time
and space, then he would be saved. For that would give him the will to
believe; that would prove the ultimate; give him the blessed assurance
which heals the wounds of the heart. Then he would have power to
surrender. Then he would no longer fear the gulf, he would walk out
onto it and know that as he walked he was with God.

Some such reasoning as this ought to make clear the place that Jesus
holds in Christian preaching and why we call Him Saviour and why
salvation comes for us who are of His spiritual lineage, through Him.
Of course it is true that Jesus shows to all discerning eyes what man
may be. But that is not the chief secret of His power; that is not
why churches are built to Him and His cross still fronts, defeated
but unconquerable, our pagan world. Jesus was more-than-nature and
more-than-human. It is this "other" quality, operative and objectified
in His experience within our world, which gives Him the absoluteness
which makes Him indispensable and precious. The mystery is deepest
here. For here we transfer the antinomy from thought to conduct; from
inner perception to one Being's actual experience. Here, in Him, we
say we see it resolved into its higher synthesis in actual operation.

Here, then, we can almost look into it. Yet when we do gaze, our eyes
dazzle, our minds swerve, it is too much. It is not easy, indeed, at
the present time it seems to be impossible to reconcile the Christ
of history with the Christ of experience. Yet there would be neither
right nor reason in saying that the former was more of a reality
than the latter. And all the time the heart from which great thoughts
arise, "the heart which has its reasons of which the mind knows
nothing," says, Here in Him is the consummate quality, the absolute
note of life. Here the impossible has been accomplished. Here the
opposites meet and the contradictions blend. Here is something so
incredible that it is true.

Of course, Jesus is of us and He is ours. That is true and it is
inexpressibly sweet to remember it. Again, to use our old solecism,
that is the lesser part of the truth; the greater part, for men of
religion, is that Jesus is of God, that He belongs to Him. His chief
office for our world has not been to show us what men can be like; it
has been to give us the vision of the Eternal in a human face. For if
He does reveal God to man then He must hold, as President Tucker says,
the quality and substance of the life which He reveals.

Here is where He differs immeasurably from even a Socrates. What men
want most to believe about Jesus is this, that when we commune with
Him, we are with the infinite; that man's just perception of the
Eternal Spirit, his desire to escape from time into reality, may be
fulfilled in Jesus. That is the Gospel: Come unto Him, all ye that
labor and are heavy laden, for He will give you rest. Whosoever
drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosoever drinketh of
the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that
I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into
everlasting life. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall
be free indeed.

Now, if all this is true, what is the religious preaching of Jesus,
what aspect of His person meets the spiritual need? Clearly, it is His
transcendence. It is not worthy of us to evade it because we cannot
explain it. Surely what has hastened our present paganism has been the
removal from the forefront of our consciousness of Jesus the Saviour,
the divine Redeemer, the absolute Meeter of an absolute need. Of such
preaching of Jesus we have today very little. The pendulum has swung
far to the left, to the other exclusive emphasis, too obviously
influenced by the currents of the day. It was perhaps inevitable
that He should for a time drop out of His former place in Christian
preaching under this combined humanistic and naturalistic movement.
But it means that again we have relinquished those values which have
made Jesus the heart of humanity.

Of course, He was a perfected human character inspired above all
men by the spirit of God, showing the capacity of humanity to hold
Divinity. This is what Mary celebrates in her paean, "He that is
mighty has magnified me and holy is his name." But is this what men
have passionately adored in Jesus? Has love of Him been self-love? Is
this why He has become the sanctuary of humanity? I think not. We have
for the moment no good language for the other conception of Him. He
is indeed the pledge of what we may be, but how many of us would ever
believe that pledge unless there was something else in Him, more than
we, that guaranteed it? What, as President Tucker asks, is this power
which shall make "maybe" into "is" for us? "Without doubt the trend of
modern thought and faith is toward the more perfect identification
of Christ with humanity. We cannot overestimate the advantage to
Christianity of this tendency. The world must know and feel the
humanity of Jesus. But it makes the greatest difference in result
whether the ground of the common humanity is in Him or in us. To
borrow the expressive language of Paul, was He 'created' in us? Or are
we 'created' in Him? Grant the right of the affirmation that 'there
is no difference in kind between the divine and the human'; allow the
interchange of terms so that one may speak of the humanity of God
and the divinity of man; appropriate the motive which lies in these
attempts to bring God and man together and thus to explain the
personality of Jesus Christ, it is still a matter of infinite concern
whether His home is in the higher or the lower regions of divinity.
After all, very little is gained by the transfer of terms. Humanity
is in no way satisfied with its degree of divinity. We are still as
anxious as ever to rise above ourselves and in this anxiety we want to
know concerning our great helper, whether He has in Himself anything
more than the possible increase of a common humanity. What is His
power to lift and how long may it last? Shall we ever reach His level,
become as divine as He, or does He have part in the absolute and
infinite? This question may seem remote in result but it is everything
in principle. The immanence of Christ has its present meaning and
value because of His transcendence."[40]

[Footnote 40: "The Satisfaction of Humanity in Jesus Christ," _Andover
Review_, January, 1893.]

Preaching today is not moving on the level of this discussion, is
neither asking nor attempting to answer its questions. Great preaching
in some way makes men see the end of the road, not merely the
direction in which it travels. The power to do that we have lost if we
have lost the more-than-us in Jesus. Humanity, unaided, cannot look
to that end which shall explain the beginning. And does Jesus mean
very much to us if He is only "Jesus"? Why do we answer the great
invitation, "Come unto me"? Because He is something other than us?
Because He calls us away from ourselves? back to home? Most of us
no longer know how to preach on that plane of experience or from the
point of view where such questions are serious and real. Our fathers
had a world view and a philosophy which made such preaching easy. But
their power did not lie in that world view; it lay in this vision of
Jesus which produced the view. Is not this the vision which we need?



Whatever becomes the inward and the invisible grace of the Christian
community such will be its outward and visible form. Those regulative
ideas and characteristic emotions which determine in any age the
quality of its religious experience will be certain to shape the
nature and conduct of its ecclesiastical assemblies. Their influence
will show, both in the liturgical and homiletical portions of public
worship. If anything further were needed, therefore, to indicate
the secularity of this age, its substitutes for worship and its
characteristic type of preaching would, in themselves, reveal the
situation. So we venture to devote these closing discussions to some
observations on the present state of Protestant public worship and the
prevailing type of Protestant preaching. For we may thus ascertain
how far those ideas and perceptions which an age like ours needs
are beginning to find an expression and what means may be taken to
increase their influence through church services in the community.

We begin, then, in this chapter, not with preaching, but with worship.
It seems to me clear that the chief office of the church is liturgical
rather than homiletical. Or, if that is too technical a statement,
it may be said that the church exists to set forth and foster the
religious life and that, because of the nature of that life, it finds
its chief opportunity for so doing in the imaginative rather than the
rationalizing or practical areas of human expression. Even as Michael
Angelo, at the risk of his life, purloined dead bodies that he
might dissect them and learn anatomy, so all disciples of the art of
religion need the discipline of intellectual analysis and of knowledge
of the facts of the religious experience if they are to be leaders in
faith. There is a toughness of fiber needed in religious people that
can only come through such mental discipline. But anatomists are not
sculptors. Michael Angelo was the genius, the creative artist, not
because he understood anatomy, but chiefly because of those as yet
indefinable and secret processes of feeling and intuition in man,
which made him feel rather than understand the pity and the terror,
the majesty and the pathos of the human spirit and reveal them in
significant and expressive line. Knowledge supported rather than
rivaled insight. In the same way, both saint and sinner need religious
instruction. Nevertheless they are what they are because they are
first perceptive rather than reasoning beings. They both owe, the one
his salvation, the other his despair, to the fact that they have seen
the vision of the holy universe. Both are seers; the saint has given
his allegiance to the heavenly vision. The sinner has resolved to be
disobedient unto it. Both find their first and more natural approach
to religious truth, therefore, through the creative rather than the
critical processes, the emotional rather than the informative powers.

There are, of course, many in our churches who would dissent from
this opinion. It is characteristic of Protestantism, as of humanism in
general, that it lays its chief emphasis upon the intelligence. If we
go to church to practice the presence of God, must we not first know
who and what this God is whose presence with us we are there asked
to realize? So most Protestant services are more informative than
inspirational. Their attendants are assembled to hear about God rather
to taste and see that the Lord is good. They analyze the religious
experience rather than enjoy it; insensibly they come to regard
the spiritual life as a proposition to be proved, not a power to
be appropriated. Hence our services generally consist of some
"preliminary exercises," as we ourselves call them, leading up to the
climax--when it is a climax--of the sermon.

Here is a major cause for the declension of the influence of
Protestant church services. They go too much on the assumption that
men already possess religion and that they come to church to discuss
it rather than to have it provided. They call men to be listeners
rather than participants in their temples. Of course, one may find
God through the mind. The great scholar, the mathematician or the
astronomer may cry with Kepler, "Behold, I think the thoughts of God
after him!" Yet a service which places its chief emphasis upon the
appeal to the will through instruction has declined from that realm
of the absolutes where religion in its purest form belongs. For since
preaching makes its appeal chiefly through reason, it thereby attempts
to produce only a partial and relative experience in the life of the
listener. It impinges upon the will by a slow process. Sometimes one
gets so deadly weary of preaching because, in a world like ours, the
reasonable process is so unreasonable. That's a half truth, of course,
but one that the modern world needs to learn.

Others would dissent from our position by saying that service, the
life of good will, is a sufficient worship. The highest adoration is
to visit the widows and the fatherless in their affliction. _Laborare
est orare_. What we do speaks so loud God does not care for what
we say. True: but the value of what we do for God depends upon the
godliness of the doer and where shall he find that godliness save in
the secret place of the Most High? And the greatest gift we can give
our fellows is to bring them into the divine presence. "There is,"
says Dr. William Adams Brown, "a service that is directed to the
satisfaction of needs already in existence, and there is a service
that is itself the creator of new needs which enlarge the capacity of
the man to whom it would minister. To this larger service religion
is committed, and the measure of a man's fitness to render it is his
capacity for worship." But no one can give more than he has. If we are
to offer such gifts we must ourselves go before and lead. To create
the atmosphere in which the things of righteousness and holiness
seem to be naturally exalted above the physical, the commercial, the
domestic affairs of men; to lift the level of thought and feeling
to that high place where the spiritual consciousness contributes its
insights and finds a magnanimous utterance--is there anything that our
world needs more? There are noble and necessary ministries to the body
and the mind, but most needed, and least often offered, there is a
ministry to the human spirit. This is the gift which the worshiper can
bring. Knowledge of God may not be merely or even chiefly comprehended
in a concept of the intelligence; knowledge of Him is that vitalizing
consciousness of the Presence felt in the heart, which opens our eyes
that we may see that the mountain is full of horses and chariots of
fire round about us and that they who fight with us are more than
they who fight with them. This is the true and central knowledge that
private devotion and public worship alone can give; preaching can
but conserve and transmit this religious experience through the mind,
worship creates it in the heart. Edwards understood that neither
thought nor conduct can take its place. "The sober performance of
moral duty," said he, "is no substitute for passionate devotion to a
Being with its occasional moments of joy and exaltation."

We should then begin with worship. A church which does not emphasize
it before everything else is trying to build the structure of a
spiritual society with the corner stone left out. Let us try,
first of all, to define it. An old and popular definition of the
descriptive sort says that "worship is the response of the soul to
the consciousness of being in the presence of God." A more modern
definition, analyzing the psychology of worship, defines it as "the
unification of consciousness around the central controlling idea of
God, the prevailing emotional tone being that of adoration." Evidently
we mean, then, by worship the appeal to the religious will through
feeling and the imagination. Worship is therefore essentially
creative. Every act of worship seeks to bring forth then and there
a direct experience of God through high and concentrated emotion.
It fixes the attention upon Him as an object in Himself supremely
desirable. The result of this unified consciousness is peace and the
result of this peace and harmony is a new sense of power. Worship,
then, is the attainment of that inward wholeness for which in one form
or another all religion strives by means of contemplation. So by its
very nature it belongs to the class of the absolutes.

Many psychologies of religion define this contemplation as aesthetic,
and make worship a higher form of delight. This appears to me a quite
typical non-religious interpretation of a religious experience. There
are four words which need explaining when we talk of worship. They
are: wonder, admiration, awe, reverence. Wonder springs from the
recognition of the limitations of our knowledge; it is an experience
of the mind. Admiration is the response of a growing intelligence to
beauty, partly an aesthetic, partly an intellectual experience. These
distinctions Coleridge had in mind in his well-known sentence "In
wonder all philosophy began; in wonder it ends; and admiration fills
up the interspace. But the first wonder is the offspring of ignorance;
the last is the parent of adoration." Awe is the sense-perception
of the stupendous power and magnitude of the universe; it is, quite
literally, a godly fear. But it is not ignoble nor cringing, it
is just and reasonable, the attitude, toward the Whole, of a
comprehensive sanity.

Thus "I would love Thee, O God, if there were no heaven, _and if there
were no hell, I would fear Thee no less_." Reverence is devotion to
goodness, sense of awe-struck loyalty to a Being manifestly under the
influence of principles higher than our own.[41] Now it is with these
last two, awe and reverence, rather than wonder and admiration, that
worship has to do.

[Footnote 41: For a discussion of these four words see Allen,
_Reverence as the Heart of Christianity_, pp. 253 ff.]

Hence the essence of worship is not aesthetic contemplation. Without
doubt worship does gratify the aesthetic instinct and most properly
so. There is no normal expression of man's nature which has not its
accompanying delight. The higher and more inclusive the expression
the more exquisite, of course, the delight. But that pleasure is the
by-product, not the object, of worship. It itself springs partly from
the awe of the infinite and eternal majesty which induces the desire
to prostrate oneself before the Lord our Maker. "I have heard of Thee
by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I
abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." It also springs partly
from passionate devotion of a loyal will to a holy Being. "Behold, as
the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters and as the
eyes of a maid unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon
the Lord." Thus reverence is the high and awe-struck hunger for
spiritual communion. "My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?"

There is a noble illustration of the nature and the uses of worship
in the Journals of Jonathan Edwards, distinguished alumnus of Yale
College, and the greatest mind this hemisphere has produced. You
remember what he wrote in them, as a youth, about the young woman who
later became his wife: "They say there is a young lady in New Haven
who is beloved of that great Being who made and rules the world, and
that there are certain seasons in which this great Being in some way
or other invisible comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding
sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything except to
meditate on Him. Therefore if you present all the world before her,
with the richest of its treasures, she disregards and cares not for
it and is unmindful of any pain or affliction. She has a strange
sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections, is most
just and conscientious in all her conduct, and you could not persuade
her to do anything wrong or sinful if you would give her all the
world, lest she should offend this great Being. She is of wonderful
calmness and universal benevolence of mind, especially after this
great God has manifested Himself to her mind. She will sometimes go
about from place to place singing sweetly and seems to be always full
of joy and pleasure, and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone,
walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible
always conversing with her."

Almost every element of worship is contained in this description.
First, we have a young human being emotionally conscious of the
presence of God, who in some way or other directly but invisibly comes
to her. Secondly, we have her attention so fixed on the adoration of
God that she hardly cares for anything except to meditate upon Him.
Thirdly, as the result of this worshipful approach to religious
reality, we have the profound peace and harmony, the _summum bonum_
of existence, coupled with strong moral purpose which characterize
her life. Here, then, is evidently the unification of consciousness in
happy awe and the control of destiny through meditation upon infinite
matters, that is, through reverent contemplation of God. Is it not
one of those ironies of history wherewith fate is forever mocking
and teasing the human spirit, that the grandson of this lady and of
Jonathan Edwards should have been Aaron Burr?

Clearly, then, the end of worship is to present to the mind, through
the imagination, one idea, majestic and inclusive. So it presents it
chiefly through high and sustained feeling. Worship proceeds on the
understanding that one idea, remaining almost unchanged and holding
the attention for a considerable length of time, so directs the
emotional processes that thought and action are harmonized with it.
If one reads the great prayers of the centuries they indicate, for the
most part, an unconscious understanding of this psychology of worship.
Take, for instance, this noble prayer of Pusey's.

"Let me not seek out of Thee what I can find only in Thee, O Lord,
peace and rest and joy and bliss, which abide only in thine abiding
joy. Lift up my soul above the weary round of harassing thoughts, to
Thy eternal presence. Lift up my soul to the pure, bright, serene,
radiant atmosphere of Thy presence, that there I may breathe freely,
there repose in Thy love, there be at rest from myself and from all
things that weary me, and thence return arrayed with Thy peace, to do
and bear what shall please Thee."

This prayer expresses the essence of worship which is the seeking,
through the fixation of attention, not the delight but rather the
peace and purity which can only be found in the consciousness of God.
This peace is the necessary outcome of the indwelling presence. It
ensues when man experiences the radiant atmosphere of the divine

The same clear expression of worship is found in another familiar and
noble prayer, that of Johann Arndt. Here, too, are phrases descriptive
of a unified consciousness induced by reverent loyalty.

"Ah, Lord, to whom all hearts are open, Thou canst govern the vessel
of my soul far better than can I. Arise, O Lord, and command the
stormy wind and the troubled sea of my heart to be still, and at peace
in Thee, that I may look up to Thee undisturbed and abide in union
with Thee, my Lord. Let me not be carried hither and thither by
wandering thoughts, but forgetting all else let me see and hear Thee.
Renew my spirit, kindle in me Thy light that it may shine within me,
and my heart burn in love and adoration for Thee. Let Thy Holy Spirit
dwell in me continually, and make me Thy temple and sanctuary, and
fill me with divine love and life and light, with devout and heavenly
thoughts, with comfort and strength, with joy and peace."

Thus here one sees in the high contemplation of a transcendent God
the subduing and elevating of the human will, the restoration and
composure of the moral life. Finally, in a prayer of St. Anselm's
there is a sort of analysis of the process of worship.

"O God, Thou _art_ life, wisdom, truth, bounty and blessedness, the
eternal, the only true Good. My God and my Lord, Thou art my hope and
my heart's joy. I confess with thanksgiving that Thou hast made me in
Thine image, that I may direct all my thoughts to Thee and love Thee.
Lord, make me to know Thee aright that I may more and more love and
enjoy and possess Thee."

One cannot conclude these examples of worshipful expression without
quoting a prayer of Augustine, which is, I suppose, the most perfect
brief petition in all the Christian literature of devotion and which
gives the great psychologist's perception of the various steps in
the unification of the soul with the eternal Spirit through sublime

"Grant, O God, that we may desire Thee, and desiring Thee, seek Thee,
and seeking Thee, find Thee, and finding Thee, be satisfied with Thee

I think one may see, then, why worship as distinct from preaching,
or the hearing of preaching, is the first necessity of the religious
life. It unites us as nothing else can do with God the whole and God
the transcendent. The conception of God is the sum total of human
needs and desires harmonized, unified, concretely expressed. It is the
faith of the worshiper that this concept is derived from a real and
objective Being in some way corresponding to it. No one can measure
the influence of such an idea when it dominates the consciousness of
any given period. It can create and set going new desires and habits,
it can minish and repress old ones, because this idea carries, with
its transcendent conception, the dynamic quality which belongs to
the idea of perfect power. But this transcendent conception, being
essentially of something beyond, without and above ourselves can only
be "realized" through the feeling and the imagination, whose province
it is to deal with the supersensuous values, with the fringes of
understanding, with the farthest bounds of knowledge. These make the
springboard, so to speak, from which man dares to launch himself into
that sea of the infinite, which we can neither understand nor measure,
but which nevertheless we may perceive and feel, which in some sense
we know to be there.

So, if we deal first with worship, we are merely beginning at the
beginning and starting at the bottom. And, in the light of this
observation, it is appalling to survey the non-liturgical churches
today and see the place that public devotion holds in them. It is not
too much, I think, to speak of the collapse of worship in Protestant
communities. No better evidence of this need be sought than in the
nature of the present attempts to reinstate it. They have a naïveté,
an incongruity, that can only be explained on the assumption of their
impoverished background.

This situation shows first in the heterogeneous character of our
experiments. We are continually printing on our churches' calendars
what we usually call "programs," but which are meant to be orders
of worship. We are also forever changing them. There is nothing
inevitable about their order; they have no intelligible,
self-verifying procedure. Anthems are inserted here and there without
any sense of the progression or of the psychology of worship. Glorias
are sung sometimes with the congregation standing up and sometimes
while they are sitting down. There is no lectionary to determine a
comprehensive and orderly reading of Scripture, not much sequence of
thought or progress of devotion either in the read or the extempore
prayers. There is no uniformity of posture. There are two historic
attitudes of reverence when men are addressing the Almighty. They are
the standing upon one's feet or the falling upon one's knees. For
the most part we neither stand nor kneel; we usually loll. Some of us
compromise by bending forward to the limiting of our breath and the
discomfort of our digestion. It is too little inducive to physical
ease or perhaps too derogatory to our dignity to kneel before the Lord
our Maker. All this seems too much like the efforts of those who have
forgotten what worship really is and are trying to find for it some
comfortable or attractive substitute.

Second: we show our inexperience by betraying the confusion
of aesthetic and ethical values as we strive for variety and
entertainment in church services; we build them around wonder and
admiration, not around reverence and awe. But we are mistaken if
we suppose that men chiefly desire to be pleasantly entertained or
extraordinarily delighted when they go into a church. They go there
because they desire to enter a Holy Presence; they want to approach
One before whom they can be still and know that He is God. All
"enrichments" of a service injected into it here and there, designed
to make it more attractive, to add color and variety, to arrest
the attention of the senses are, as ends, beside the point, and our
dependence upon them indicates the unhappy state of worship in our
day. That we do thus make our professional music an end in itself is
evident from our blatant way of advertising it. In the same way we
advertise sermon themes, usually intended to startle the pious and
provoke the ungodly. We want to arouse curiosity, social or political
interest, to achieve some secular reaction. We don't advertise that
tomorrow in our church there is to be a public worship of God, and
that everything that we are going to do will be in the awe-struck
sense that He is there. We are afraid that nobody would come if we
merely did that!

What infidels we are! Why are we surprised that the world is passing
us by? We say and we sing a great many things which it is incredible
to suppose we would address to God if we really thought He were
present. Yet anthems and congregational singing are either a sacrifice
solemnly and joyously offered to God or else all the singing is less,
and worse, than nothing in a church service. But how often sentimental
and restless music, making not for restraint and reverence, not
for the subduing of mind and heart but for the expression of those
expansive and egotistical moods which are of the essence of romantic
singing, is what we employ. There is a great deal of truly religious
music, austere in tone, breathing restraint and reverence, quietly
written. The anthems of Palestrina, Anerio, Viadana, Vittoria among
the Italians; of Bach, Haydn, Handel, Mozart among the Germans; and
of Tallis, Gibbons and Purcell among the English, are all of the truly
devout order. Yet how seldom are the works of such men heard in our
churches, even where they employ professional singers at substantial
salaries. We are everywhere now trying to give our churches splendid
and impressive physical accessories, making the architecture more and
more stately and the pews more and more comfortable! Thus we attempt
an amalgam of a mediaeval house of worship with an American domestic
interior, adoring God at our ease, worshiping Him in armchairs,
offering prostration of the spirit, so far as it can be achieved along
with indolence of the body.

So we advertise and concertize and have silver vases and costly
flowers and conventional ecclesiastical furniture. But we still hold a
"small-and-early" in the vestibule before service and a "five o'clock"
in the chapel afterward. Sunday morning church is a this-world
function with a pietized gossip and a decorous sort of sociable with
an intellectual fillip thrown in. Thus we try to make our services
attractive to the secular instincts, the non-religious things, in
man's nature. We try to get him into the church by saying, "You will
find here what you find elsewhere." It's rather illogical. The church
stands for something different. We say, "You will like to come and be
one of us because we are not different." The answer is, "I can get the
things of this world better in the world, where they belong, than with
you." Thus we have naturalized our very offices of devotion! Hence
the attempts to revive worship are incongruous and inconsistent. Hence
they have that sentimental and accidental character which is the
sign of the amateur. They do not bring us very near to the heavenly
country. It might be well to remember that the servant of Jahweh doth
not cry nor lift up his voice nor cause it to be heard in the streets.

Now, there are many reasons for this anomalous situation. One of them
is our inheritance of a deep-rooted Puritan distrust of a liturgical
service. That distrust is today a fetish and therefore much more
potent that it was when it was a reason. Puritanism was born in the
Reformation; it came out from the Roman church, where worship was
regarded as an end in itself. To Catholic believers worship is a
contribution to God, pleasing to Him apart from any effect it may have
on the worshiper. Such a theory of it is, of course, open to grave
abuse. Sometimes it led to indifference as to the effect of the
worship upon the moral character of the communicant, so that worship
could be used, not to conquer evil, but to make up for it, and thus
sin became as safe as it was easy. Inevitably also such a theory
of worship often degenerated into an utter formalism which made
hyprocrisy and unreality patent, until the _hoc est corpus_ of the
mass became the hocus-pocus of the scoffer.

Here is a reason, once valid because moral, for our present situation.
Yet it must be confessed that again, as so often, we are doing what
the Germans call "throwing out the baby with the bath," namely,
repudiating a defect or the perversion of an excellence and, in so
doing, throwing away that excellence itself. It is clear that no
Protestant is ever tempted today to consider worship as its own reason
and its own end. We are, in a sense, utilitarian ritualists. Worship
to us is as valuable as it is valid because it is the chief avenue
of spiritual insight, a chief means of awakening penitence, obtaining
forgiveness, growing in grace and love. These are the ultimates; these
are pleasing to God.

A second reason, however, for our situation is not ethical and
essential, but economic and accidental. Our fathers' communities were
a slender chain of frontier settlements, separated from an ancient
civilization by an unknown and dangerous sea on the one hand, menaced
by all the perils of a virgin wilderness upon the other. All their
life was simple to the point of bareness; austere, reduced to the
most elemental necessities. Inevitably the order of their worship
corresponded to the order of their society. It is certain, I think,
that the white meeting-house with its naked dignity, the old service
with its heroic simplicity, conveyed to the primitive society which
produced them elements both of high formality and conscious reverence
which they could not possibly offer to our luxurious, sophisticated
and wealthy age.

Is it not a dangerous thing to have brought an ever increasing
formality and recognition of a developed and sophisticated community
into our social and intellectual life but to have allowed our
religious expression to remain so anachronistic? Largely for social
and economic reasons we send most of our young men and young women
to college. There we deliberately cultivate in them the perception
of beauty, the sense of form, various expressions of the imaginative
life. But how much has our average non-liturgical service to offer
to their critically trained perceptions? Our church habits are pretty
largely the transfer into the sanctuary of the hearty conventions of
middle-class family life. The relations in life which are precious
to such youth, the intimate, the mystical and subtle ones, get small
recognition or expression. A hundred agencies outside the church are
stimulating in the best boys and girls of the present generation fine
sensibilities, critical standards, the higher hungers. Our services,
chiefly instructive and didactic, informal and easy in character,
irritate them and make them feel like truculent or uncomfortable

A third reason for the lack of corporate or public offices of devotion
in our services lies in the intellectual character of the Protestant
centuries. We have seen how they have been centuries of individualism.
Character has been conceived of as largely a personal affair expressed
in personal relationships. The believer was like Christian in Bunyan's
_Pilgrim's Progress_. He started for the Heavenly Country because
he was determined to save his own soul. When he realized that he was
living in the City of Destruction it did not occur to him that, as
a good man, he must identify his fate with it. On the contrary, he
deserted wife and children with all possible expedition and got him
out and went along through the Slough of Despond, up to the narrow
gate, to start on the way of life. It was a chief glory of mediaeval
society that it was based upon corporate relationships. Its cathedrals
were possible because they were the common house of God for every
element of the community. Family and class and state were dominant
factors then. But we have seen how, in the Renaissance and the
Romantic Movement, individualism supplanted these values. Now,
Protestantism was contemporary with that new movement, indeed, a part
of it. Its growing egotism and the colossal egotism of the modern
world form a prime cause for the impoverishment of worship in
Protestant churches.

And so this brings us, then, to the real reason for our devotional
impotence, the one to which we referred in the opening sentences of
the chapter. It is essentially due to the character of the regulative
ideas of our age. It lies in that world view whose expressions in
literature, philosophy and social organizations we have been
reviewing in these pages. The partial notion of God which our age has
unconsciously made the substitute for a comprehensive understanding of
Him is essentially to blame. For since the contemporary doctrine is
of His immanence, it therefore follows that it is chiefly through
observation of the natural world and by interpretation of contemporary
events that men will approach Him if they come to Him at all.
Moreover, our humanism, in emphasizing the individual and exalting his
self-sufficiency, has so far made the mood of worship alien and the
need of it superfluous. The overemphasis upon preaching, the general
passion of this generation for talk and then more talk, and then
endless talk, is perfectly intelligible in view of the regulative
ideas of this generation. It seeks its understanding of the world
chiefly in terms of natural and tangible phenomena and chiefly by
means either of critical observation or of analytic reasoning. Hence
preaching, especially that sort which looks for the divine principle
in contemporary events, has been to the fore. But worship, which finds
the divine principle in something more and other than contemporary
events--which indeed does not look outward to "events" at all--has
been thrown into the background.

It seems to me clear, then, that if we are to emphasize the
transcendent elements in religion; if they represent, as we have been
contending, the central elements of the religious experience, its
creative factors, then the revival of worship will be a prime step
in creating a more truly spiritual society. I am convinced that a
homilizing church belongs to a secularizing age. One cannot forget
that the ultimate, I do not say the only, reason for the founding
of the non-liturgical churches was the rise of humanism. One
cannot fail to see the connection between humanistic doctrine and
moralistic preaching, or between the naturalism of the moment and
the mechanicalizing of the church. "The Christian congregation,"
said Luther, child of the humanistic movement, "should never assemble
except the word of God be preached." "In other countries," says old
Isaac Taylor, "the bell calls people to worship; in Scotland it
calls them to a preachment." And one remembers the justice of Charles
Kingsley's fling at the Dissenters that they were "creatures who
went to church to hear sermons!" It would seem evident, then, that a
renewal of worship would be the logical accompaniment of a return to
distinctly religious values in society and church.

What can we do, then, better for an age of paganism than to cultivate
this transcendent consciousness? Direct men away from God the
universal and impersonal to God the particular and intimate. Nothing
is more needed for our age than to insist upon the truth that there
are both common and uncommon, both secular and sacred worlds; that
these are not contradictory; that they are complementary; that they
are not identical. It is the church's business to insist that men
must live in the world of the sacred, the uncommon, the particular,
in order to be able to surmount and endure the secular, the common and
the universal. It is her business to insist that through worship
all this can be accomplished. But can worship be taught? Is not the
devotee, like the poet or the lover or any other genius, born and
not made? Well, whether it can be taught or not, it at least can be
cultivated and developed, and there are three very practical ways in
which this cultivation can be brought about.

One of them is by paying intelligent attention to the physical
surroundings of the worshiper. The assembly room for worship obviously
should not be used for other purposes; all its suggestions and
associations should be of one sort and that sort the highest. Quite
aside from the question of taste, it is psychologically indefensible
to use the same building, and especially the same room in the
building, for concerts, for picture shows, for worship. Here we at
once create a distracted consciousness; we dissipate attention; we
deliberately make it harder for men and women to focus upon one, and
that the most difficult, if the most precious, mood.

For the same reason, the physical form of the room should be one
that does not suggest either the concert hall or the playhouse, but
suggests rather a long and unbroken ecclesiastical tradition. Until
the cinema was introduced into worship, we were vastly improving in
these respects, but now we are turning the morning temple into an
evening showhouse. I think we evince a most impertinent familiarity
with the house of God! And too often the church is planned so that
it has no privacies or recesses, but a hideous publicity pervades its
every part. We adorn it with stenciled frescoes of the same patterns
which we see in hotel lobbies and clubs; we hang up maps behind the
reading desk; we clutter up its platform with grand pianos.

It is a mere matter of good taste and good psychology to begin our
preparation for a ministry of worship by changing all this. There
should be nothing in color or ornament which arouses the restless mood
or distracts the eye. Severe and simple walls, restrained and devout
figures in glass windows, are only to be tolerated. Descriptive
windows, attempting in a most untractable medium a sort of naïve
realism, are equally an aesthetic and an ecclesiastical offense.
Figures of saints or great religious personages should be typical,
impersonal, symbolic, not too much like this world and the things of
it. There is a whole school of modern window glass distinguished by
its opulence and its realism. It ought to be banished from houses of
worship. Since it is the object of worship to fix the attention upon
one thing and that thing the highest, the room where worship is held
should have its own central object. It may be the Bible, idealized as
the word of God; it may be the altar on which stands the Cross of the
eternal sacrifice. But no church ought to be without one fixed point
to which the eye of the body is insensibly drawn, thereby making it
easier to follow it with the attention of the mind and the wishes of
the heart. At the best, our Protestant ecclesiastical buildings are
all empty! There are meeting-houses, not temples assembly rooms,
not shrines. There is apparently no sense in which we are willing
to acknowledge that the Presence is on their altar. But at least the
attention of the worshiper within them may focus around some symbol of
that Presence, may be fixed on some outward sign which will help the
inward grace.

But second: our chief concern naturally must be with the content of
the service of worship itself, not with its physical surroundings. And
here then are two things which may be said. First, any formal order of
worship should be historic; it should have its roots deep in the past;
whatever else is true of a service of worship it ought not to suggest
that it has been uncoupled from the rest of time and allowed to run
wild. Now, this means that an order of worship, basing itself on the
devotion of the ages, will use to some extent their forms. I do not
see how anyone would wish to undertake to lead the same company of
people week by week in divine worship without availing himself of the
help of written prayers, great litanies, to strengthen and complement
the spontaneous offices of devotion. There is something almost
incredible to me in the assumption that one man can, supposedly
unaided, lead a congregation in the emotional expression of its
deepest life and desires without any assistance from the great
sacramentaries and liturgies of the past. Christian literature is rich
with a great body of collects, thanksgivings, confessions, various
special petitions, which gather up the love and tears, the vision
and the anguish of many generations. These, with their phrases made
unspeakably precious with immemorial association, with their subtle
fitting of phrase to insight, of expression to need, born of long
centuries of experiment and aspiration, can do for a congregation what
no man alone can ever hope to accomplish. The well of human needs and
desires is so deep that, without these aids, we have not much to draw
with, no plummet wherewith to sound its dark and hidden depths.

I doubt if we can overestimate the importance of giving this sense of
continuity in petitions, of linking up the prayer of the moment and
the worship of the day with the whole ageless process so that it seems
a part of that volume of human life forever ascending unto the eternal
spirit, just as the gray plume of smoke from the sacrifice ever curled
upward morning by morning and night by night from the altar of the
temple under the blue Syrian sky. We cannot easily give this sense of
continuity, this prestige of antiquity, this resting back on a great
body of experience, unless we know and use the language and the
phrases of our fathers. It is to the God who hath been our dwelling
place in all generations, that we pray; to Him who in days of old
was a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night to His faithful
children; to the One who is the Ancient of Days, Infinite Watcher of
the sons of men. Only by acquaintance with the phrases, the petitions
of the past, and only by a liberal use of them can we give background
and dignity, or anything approaching variety and completeness, to our
own public expression and interpretation of the devotional life. If
anyone objects to this use of formal prayers on the ground of their
formality, let him remember that we, too, are formal, only we, alas,
have made a cult of formlessness. It would surprise the average
minister to know the well-worn road which his supposedly spontaneous
and extempore devotions follow. Phrase after phrase following in the
same order of ideas, and with the same pitiably limited vocabulary,
appear week by week in them. How much better to enrich this painfully
individualistic formalism with something of the corporate glories of
the whole body of Christian believers.

But, second: there should be also the principle of immediacy in the
service, room for the expression of individual needs and desires
and for reference to the immediate and local circumstances of the
believer. A church in which there is no spontaneous and extempore
prayer, which only harked backward to the past, might build the tombs
of the prophets but it might also stifle new voices for a new age.
But extempore prayer should not be impromptu prayer. It should have
coherence, dignity, progression. The spirit should have been humbly
and painstakingly prepared for it so that sincere and ardent feeling
may wing and vitalize its words. The great prayers of the ages, known
of all the worshipers, perhaps repeated by them all together, tie in
the individual soul to the great mass of humanity and it moves on,
with its fellows, toward salvation as majestically and steadily as
great rivers flow. The extempore and silent prayer, not unpremeditated
but still the unformed outpouring of the individual heart, gives each
man the consciousness of standing naked and alone before his God. Both
these, the corporate and the separate elements of worships are vital;
there should be a place for each in every true order of worship.

But, of course, the final thing to say is the first thing. Whatever
may be the means that worship employs, its purpose must be to make and
keep the church a place of repose, to induce constantly the life of
relinquishment to God, of reverence and meditation. And this it will
do as it seeks to draw men up to the "otherness," the majesty, the
aloofness, the transcendence of the Almighty. To this end I would use
whatever outward aids time and experience have shown will strengthen
and deepen the spiritual understanding. I should not fear to use
the cross, the sacraments, the kneeling posture, the great picture,
the carving, the recitation of prayers and hymns, not alone to
intensify this sense in the believer but equally to create it in the
non-believer. The external world moulds the internal, even as the
internal makes the external. If these things mean little in the
beginning, there is still truth in the assertion of the devotee that
if you practice them they will begin to mean something to you. This is
not merely that a meaning will be self-induced. It is more than that.
They will put us in the volitional attitude, the emotional mood, where
the meaning is able to penetrate. Just as all the world acknowledges
that there is an essential connection between good manners and good
morals, between military discipline and physical courage, so there
is a connection between a devotional service and the gifts of the
spiritual life. Such a service not merely strengthens belief in
the High and Holy One, it has a real office in creating, in making
possible, that belief itself.

We shall sum it all up if we say in one word that the offices of
devotion emphasize the cosmic character of religion. They take us out
of the world of moral theism into the world of a universal theism.
They draw us away from religion in action to religion in itself;
they give us, not the God of this world, but the God who is from
everlasting to everlasting, to whom a thousand years are but as
yesterday when it is past and as a watch in the night. Thus they help
us to make for ourselves an interior refuge into whose precincts
no eye may look, into whose life no other soul may venture. In that
refuge we can be still and know that He is God. There we can eat the
meat which the world knoweth not of, there have peace with Him. It
is in these central solitudes, induced by worship, that the vision
is clarified, the perspective corrected, the vital forces recharged.
Those who possess them are transmitters of such heavenly messages;
they issue from them as rivers pour from undiminished mountain
streams. Does the world's sin and pain and weakness come and empty
itself into the broad current of these devout lives? Then their
fearless onsweeping forces gather it all up, carry it on, cleanse and
purify it in the process. Over such lives the things of this world
have no power. They are kept secretly from them all in His pavilion
where there is no strife of tongues.



If one were to ask any sermon-taster of our generation what is the
prevailing type of discourse among the better-known preachers of the
day, he would probably answer, "The expository." Expository preaching
has had a notable revival in the last three decades, especially
among liberal preachers; that is, among those who like ourselves have
discarded scholastic theologies, turned to the ethical aspects of
religion for our chief interests and accepted the modern view of the
Bible. To be sure, it is not the same sort of expository preaching
which made the Scottish pulpit of the nineteenth century famous. It
is not the detailed exposition of each word and clause, almost of each
comma, which marks the mingled insight and literalism of a Chalmers,
an Alexander Maclaren, a Taylor of the Broadway Tabernacle. For that
assumed a verbally inspired and hence an inerrant Scripture; it dealt
with the literature of the Old and New Testaments as being divine
revelations. The new expository preaching proceeds from almost an
opposite point of view. It deals with this literature as being a
transcript of human experience. Its method is direct and simple and,
within sharp limits, very effective. The introduction to one of these
modern expository sermons would run about as follows:

"I suppose that what has given to the Old and New Testament Scriptures
their enduring hold over the minds and consciences of men has been
their extraordinary humanity. They contain so many vivid and accurate
recitals of typical human experience, portrayed with self-verifying
insight and interpreted with consummate understanding of the issues of
the heart. And since it is true, as Goethe said, 'That while mankind
is always progressing man himself remains ever the same,' and we
are not essentially different from the folk who lived a hundred
generations ago under the sunny Palestinian sky, we read these ancient
tales and find in them a mirror which reflects the lineaments of our
own time. For instance,..."

Then the sermonizer proceeds to relate some famous Bible story,
resolving its naïve Semitic theophanies, its pictorial narration,
its primitive morality, into the terms of contemporary ethical or
political or economic principles. Take, for instance, the account of
the miracle of Moses and the Burning Bush. The preacher will point
out that Moses saw a bush that burned and burned and that, unlike most
furze bushes of those upland pastures which were ignited by the hot
Syrian sun, was not consumed. It was this enduring quality of the bush
that interested him. Thus Moses showed the first characteristic of
genius, namely, capacity for accurate and discriminating observation.
And he coupled this with the scientific habit of mind. For he said,
"I will now turn aside and see why!" Thus did he propose to pierce
behind the event to the cause of the event, behind the movement to the
principle of the movement. What a modern man this Moses was! It seems
almost too good to be true!

But as yet we have merely scratched the surface of the story. For
he took his shoes from off his feet when he inspected this new
phenomenon, feeling instinctively that he was on holy ground. Thus
there mingled with his scientific curiosity the second great quality
of genius, which is reverence. There was no complacency here but an
approach to life at once eager and humble; keen yet teachable and
mild. And now behold what happens! As a result of this combination of
qualities there came to Moses the vision of what he might do to lead
his oppressed countrymen out of their industrial bondage. Whereupon
he displayed the typical human reaction and cried, "Who am I, that I
should go unto Pharoah or that I should lead the children of Israel
out of Egypt!" My brother Aaron, who is an eloquent person--and as it
turned out later also a specious one--is far better suited for this
undertaking. Thus he endeavored to evade the task and cried, "Let
someone else do it!" Having thus expounded the word of God (!) the
sermon proceeds to its final division in the application of this
shrewd and practical wisdom to some current event or parochial

Now, such preaching is indubitably effective and not wholly
illegitimate. Its technique is easily acquired. It makes us realize
that the early Church Fathers, who displayed a truly appalling
ingenuity in allegorizing the Old Testament and who found "types" of
Christ and His Church in frankly sensual Oriental wedding songs, have
many sturdy descendants among us to this very hour! Such preaching
gives picturesqueness and color, it provides the necessary sugar
coating to the large pill of practical and ethical exhortation. To
be sure, it does not sound like the preaching of our fathers. The old
sermon titles--"Suffering with Christ that we may be also glorified
with Him," for instance--seem very far away from it. Nor is it to be
supposed that this is what its author intended the story we have been
using to convey nor that these were the reactions that it aroused
in the breasts of its original hearers. But as the sermonizer would
doubtless go on to remark, there is a certain universal quality in all
great literature, and genius builds better than it knows, and so each
man can draw his own water of refreshment from these great wells of
the past. And indeed nothing is more amazing or disconcerting than the
mutually exclusive notions, the apparently opposing truths, which can
be educed by this method, from one and the same passage of Scripture!
There is scarcely a chapter in all the Old Testament, and to a
less degree in the New Testament, which may not be thus ingeniously
transmogrified to meet almost any homiletical emergency.

Now, I may as well confess that I have preached this kind of sermon
lo! these many years _ad infinitum_ and I doubt not _ad nauseam_. We
have all used in this way the flaming rhetoric of the Hebrew prophets
until we think of them chiefly as indicters of a social order. They
were not chiefly this but something quite different and more valuable,
namely, religious geniuses. First-rate preaching would deal with Amos
as the pioneer in ethical monotheism, with Hosea as the first poet of
the divine grace, with Jeremiah as the herald of the possibility of
each man's separate and personal communion with the living God. But,
of course, such religious preaching, dealing with great doctrines of
faith, would have a kind of large remoteness about it; it would pay
very little attention to the incidents of the story, and indeed,
would tend to be hardly expository at all, but rather speculative and

And that brings us to the theme of this final discussion. For I am one
of those who believe that great preaching is doctrinal preaching and
that it is particularly needed at this hour. The comparative neglect
of the New Testament in favor of the Old in contemporary preaching;
the use and nature of the expository method--no less than the
unworshipful character of our services--appear to me to offer a final
and conclusive proof of the unreligious overhumanistic emphases of our
interpretation of religion. And if we are to have a religious revival,
then it seems to me worshipful services must be accompanied by
speculative preaching and I doubt if the one can be nobly maintained
without the other. For we saw that worship is the direct experience
of the Absolute through high and concentrated feeling. Even so
speculative and, in general, doctrinal preaching is the same return
to first principles and to ultimate values in the realm of ideas.
It turns away from the immediate, the practical, the relative to the
final and absolute in the domain of thought.

Now, obviously, then, devout services and doctrinal preaching should
go together. No high and persistent emotions can be maintained without
clear thinking to nourish and steady them. There is in doctrinal
preaching a certain indifference to immediate issues; to detailed
applications. It deals, by its nature, with comprehensive and abstract
rather than local and concrete thinking; with inclusive feeling,
transcendent aspiration. It does not try to pietize the ordinary,
commercial and domestic affairs of men. Instead it deals with the
highest questions and perceptions of human life; argues from those
sublime hypotheses which are the very subsoil of the religious
temperament and understanding. It deals with those aspects of human
life which indeed include, but include because they transcend, the
commercial and domestic, the professional and political affairs of
daily living. We have been insisting in these chapters that it is that
portion of human need and experience which lies between the knowable
and the unknowable with which it is the preacher's chief province to
deal. Doctrinal preaching endeavors to give form and relations to its
intuitions and high desires, its unattainable longings and insights.
There is a native alliance between the doctrine of Immanence and
expository preaching. For the office of both is to give us the God of
this world in the affairs of the moment. There is a native alliance
between expository preaching and humanism which very largely accounts
for the latter's popularity. For expository preaching, as at present
practiced, deals mostly with ethical and practical issues, with the
setting of the house of this world in order. There is also a native
and majestic alliance between the idea of transcendence and doctrinal
preaching and between the facts of the religious experience and the
content of speculative philosophy. Not pragmatism but pure metaphysics
is the native language of the mind when it moves in the spiritual

But I am aware that already I have lost my reader's sympathy. You do
not desire to preach doctrinal sermons and while you may read with
amiable patience and faintly smiling complacency this discussion,
you have no intention of following its advice. We tend to think that
doctrinal sermons are outmoded--old-fashioned and unpopular--and we
dread as we dread few other things, not being up to date. Besides,
doctrinal preaching offers little of that opportunity which is found
in expository and yet more in topical preaching for exploiting our
own personalities. Some of us are young. It is merely a polite way of
saying that we are egotistical. We know in our secret heart of hearts
that the main thing that we have to give the world is our own new,
fresh selves with their corrected and arresting understanding of the
world. We are modestly yet eagerly ready to bestow that gift of ours
upon the waiting congregation. One of the few compensations of growing
old is that, as the hot inner fires burn lower, this self-absorption
lessens and we become disinterested and judicial observers of life and
find so much pleasure in other people's successes and so much wisdom
in other folk's ideas. But not so for youth; it isn't what the past or
the collective mind and heart have formulated: it's what you've got
to say that interests you. Hence it is probably true that doctrinal
preaching, in the very nature of things, makes no strong appeal to men
who are beginning the ministry.

But there are other objections which are more serious, because
inherent in the very genius of doctrinal preaching itself. First:
such preaching is more or less remote from contemporary and practical
issues. It deals with thought, not actions; understanding rather than
efficiency; principles rather than applications. It moves among the
basic concepts of the religious life; deals with matters beyond and
above and without the tumultuous issues of the moment. So it follows
that doctrinal preaching has an air of detachment, almost of seclusion
from the world; the preacher brings his message from some pale world
of ideas to this quick world of action. And we are afraid of this
detachment, the abstract and theoretical nature of the thinker's

I think the fear is not well grounded. What is the use of preaching
social service to the almost total neglect of setting forth the
intellectual and emotional concept of the servant? It is the quality
of the doer which determines the value of the deed. Why keep on
insisting upon being good if our hearers have never been carefully
instructed in the nature and the sanctions of goodness? Has not the
trouble with most of our political and moral reform been that we have
had a passion for it but very little science of it? How can we know
the ways of godliness if we take God Himself for granted? No: our
chief business, as preachers, is to preach the content rather than the
application of the truth. Not many people are interested in trying
to find the substance of the truth. It is hated as impractical by
the multitude of the impatient, and despised as old-fashioned by
the get-saved-quick reformers. Nevertheless we must find out the
distinctions between divine and human, right and wrong, and why they
are what they are, and what is the good of it all. There is no more
valuable service which the preacher can render his community than to
deliberately seclude himself from continual contact with immediate
issues and dwell on the eternal verities. When Darwin published _The
Descent of Man_ at the end of the Franco-Prussian War, the _London
Times_ took him severely to task for his absorption in purely
scientific interests and hypothetical issues. "When the foundations
of property and the established order were threatened with the fires
of the Paris Commune; when the Tuileries were burning--how could a
British subject be occupying himself with speculations in natural
science in no wise calculated to bring aid or comfort to those who
had a stake in the country!" Well, few of us imagine today that
Darwin would have been wise to have exchanged the seclusion and the
impractical hours of the study for the office or the camp, the market
or the street.

Yet the same fear of occupying ourselves with central and abstract
matters still obsesses us. At the Quadrennial Conference of the
Methodist Episcopal Church held recently at Des Moines, thirty-four
bishops submitted an address in which they said among other things:
"Of course, the church must stand in unflinching, uncompromising
denunciation of all violations of laws, against all murderous child
labor, all foul sweat shops, all unsafe mines, all deadly tenements,
all excessive hours for those who toil, all profligate luxuries, all
standards of wage and life below the living standard, all unfairness
and harshness of conditions, all brutal exactions, whether of the
employer or union, all overlordships, whether of capital or labor,
all godless profiteering, whether in food, clothing, profits or wages,
against all inhumanity, injustice and blighting inequality, against
all class-minded men who demand special privileges or exceptions on
behalf of their class."

These are all vital matters, yet I cannot believe that it is the
church's chief business thus to turn her energies to the problems
of the material world. This would be a stupendous program, even
if complete in itself; as an item in a program it becomes almost a
_reductio ad absurdum_. The _Springfield Republican_ in an editorial
comment upon it said: "It fairly invites the question whether the
church is not in some danger of trying to do too much. The fund of
energy available for any human undertaking is not unlimited; energy
turned in one direction must of necessity be withdrawn from another
and energy diffused in many directions cannot be concentrated. Count
the adjectives--'murderous,' 'foul,' 'unsafe,' 'deadly,' 'excessive,'
'profligate,' 'brutal,' 'godless,' 'blighting'--does not each involve
research, investigation, comparison, analysis, deliberation, a heavy
tax upon the intellectual resources of the church if any result worth
having is to be obtained? Can this energy be found without subtracting
energy from some other sphere?"

The gravest problems of the world are not found here. They are
found in the decline of spiritual understanding, the decay of moral
standards, the growth of the vindictive and unforgiving spirit, the
lapse from charity, the overweening pride of the human heart. With
these matters the church must chiefly deal; to their spiritual
infidelity she must bring a spiritual message; to their poor thinking
she must bring the wisdom of the eternal. This task, preventive not
remedial, is her characteristic one. Is it not worth while to remember
that the great religious leaders have generally ignored contemporary
social problems? So have the great artists who are closely allied
to them. Neither William Shakespeare nor Leonardo da Vinci were
reformers; neither Gautama nor the Lord Jesus had much to say about
the actual international economic and political readjustments which
were as pressing in their day as ours. They were content to preach the
truth, sure that it, once understood, would set men free.

But a second reason why we dislike doctrinal preaching is because we
confound it with dogmatic preaching. Doctrinal sermons are those which
deal with the philosophy of religion. They expound or defend or relate
the intellectual statements, the formulae of religion. Such discourses
differ essentially from dogmatic sermonizing. For what is a doctrine?
A doctrine is an intellectual formulation of an experience. Suppose
a man receives a new influx of moral energy and spiritual insight,
through reading the Bible, through trying to pray, through loving and
meditating upon the Lord Jesus. That experience isn't a speculative
proposition, it isn't a faith or an hypothesis; it's a fact. Like the
man in the Johannine record the believer says, "Whether he be a sinner
I know not: but one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I

Now, let this new experience of moral power and spiritual insight
express itself, as it normally will, in a more holy and more
useful life, in the appropriate terms of action. There you get that
confession of experience which we call character. Or let it express
itself in the appropriate emotions of joy and awe and reverence so
that, like Ray Palmer, the convert writes an immortal hymn, or a body
of converts like the early church produces the _Te Deum_. There is the
confession of experience in worship. Or let a man filled with this new
life desire to understand it; see what its implications are regarding
the nature of God, the nature of man, the place of Christ in the scale
of created or uncreated Being. Let him desire to thus conserve and
interpret that he may transmit this new experience. Then he will begin
to define it and to reduce it, for brevity and clearness, to some
abstract and compact formula. Thus he will make a confession of
experience in doctrine.

Doctrines, then, are not arbitrary but natural, not accidental but
essential. They are the hypotheses regarding the eternal nature of
things drawn from the data of our moral and spiritual experience. They
are to religion just what the science of electricity is to a trolley
car, or what the formula of evolution is to natural science, or what
the doctrine of the conservation of energy is, or was, to physics.
Doctrines are signposts; they are placards, index fingers, notices
summing up and commending the proved essences of religious experience.
Two things are always true of sound doctrine. First: it is not
considered to have primary value; its worth is in the experience
to which it witnesses. Second: it is not fixed but flexible and
progressive. Someone has railed at theology, defining it as the
history of discarded errors. That is a truth and a great compliment
and the definition holds good of the record of any other science.

Now, if doctrines are signposts, dogmas are old and now misleading
milestones. For what is a dogma? It may be one of two things. Usually
it is a doctrine that has forgotten that it ever had a history;
a formula which once had authority because it was a genuine
interpretation of experience but which now is so outmoded in fashion
of thought, or so maladjusted to our present scale of values, as to
be no longer clearly related to experience and is therefore accepted
merely on command, or on the prestige of its antiquity. Or it may be
a doctrine promulgated _ex cathedra_, not because religious experience
produced it, but because ecclesiastical expediencies demand it. Thus,
to illustrate the first sort of dogma, there was once a doctrine of
the Virgin Birth. Men found, as they still do, both God and man in
Jesus; they discovered when they followed Him their own real humanity
and true divinity. They tried to explain and formalize the experience
and made a doctrine which, for the circle of ideas and the extent
of the factual knowledge of the times, was both reasonable and
valuable. The experience still remains, but the doctrine is no
longer psychologically or biologically credible. It no longer
offers a tenable explanation; it is not a valuable or illuminating
interpretation. Hence if we hold it at all today, it is either for
sentiment or for the sake of mere tradition, namely, for reasons other
than its intellectual usefulness or its inherent intelligibility. So
held it passes over from doctrine into dogma. Or take, as an
example of the second sort, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception,
promulgated by Pius IX in the year 1854, and designed to strengthen
the prestige of the Papal See among the Catholic powers of Europe and
to prolong its hold upon its temporal possessions. De Cesare describes
the promulgation of the dogma as follows:

"The festival on that day, December 8, 1854, sacred to the Virgin, was
magnificent. After chanting the Gospel, first in Latin, then in Greek,
Cardinal Macchi, deacon of the Sacred College, together with the
senior archbishops and bishops present, all approached the Papal
throne, pronouncing these words in Latin, 'Deign, most Holy Father,
to lift your Apostolic voice and pronounce the dogmatic Decree of the
Immaculate Conception, on account of which there will be praise in
heaven and rejoicings on earth.' The Pope replying, stated that he
welcomed the wish of the Sacred College, the episcopate, the clergy,
and declared it was essential first of all to invoke the help of the
Holy Spirit. So saying he intoned _in Veni Creator_, chanted in chorus
by all present. The chant concluded, amid a solemn silence Pius IX's
finely modulated voice read the following Decree:

"'It shall be Dogma, that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first
instant of the Conception, by singular privilege and grace of God,
in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of mankind, was
preserved from all stain of original sin.' The senior cardinal then
prayed the Pope to make this Decree public, and, amid the roar of
cannon from Fort St. Angelo and the festive ringing of church bells,
the solemn act was accomplished.'"[42] Here is an assertion regarding
Mary's Conception which has only the most tenuous connection with
religious experience and which was pronounced for ecclesiastical and
political reasons. Here we have dogma at its worst. Here, indeed, it
is so bad as to resemble many of the current political and economic

[Footnote 42: _The Last Days of Papal Rome_, pp. 127 ff.]

Now, nobody wants dogmatic preaching, but there is nothing that we
need more than we do doctrinal preaching and nothing which is more
interesting. The specialization of knowledge has assigned to the
preacher of religion a definite sphere. No amount of secondary
expertness in politics or economics or social reform or even morals
can atone for the abandonment of our own province. We are set to think
about and expound religion and if we give that up we give up our place
in a learned profession. Moreover, the new conditions of the modern
world make doctrine imperative. That world is distinguished by
its free inquiry, its cultivation of the scientific method, its
abandonment of obscuranticisms and ambiguities. It demands, then,
devout and holy thinking from us. Who would deny that the revival
of intellectual authority and leadership in matters of religion
is terribly needed in our day? Sabatier is right in saying that a
religion without doctrine is a self-contradictory idea. Harnack is not
wrong in saying that a Christianity without it is inconceivable.

And now I know you are thinking in your hearts, Well, what
inconsistency this man shows! For a whole book he has been insisting
on the prime values of imagination and feeling in religion and now he
concludes with a plea for the thinker. But it is not so inconsistent
as it appears. It is just because we do believe that the discovery,
the expression and the rewards of religion lie chiefly in the
superrational and poetic realms that therefore we want this
intellectual content to accompany it, not supersede it, as a balancing
influence, a steadying force. There are grave perils in worshipful
services corresponding to their supreme values. Mystical preaching
has the defects of its virtues and too often sinks into that vague
sentimentalism which is the perversion of its excellence. How
insensibly sometimes does high and precious feeling degenerate into
a sort of religious hysteria! It needs then to be always tested and
corrected by clear thinking.

But we in no way alter our original insistence that in our realm as
preachers, unlike the scientist's realm of the theologians, thought
is the handmaid, not the mistress. Our great plea, then, for doctrinal
preaching is that by intellectual grappling with the final and
speculative problems of religion we do not supersede but feed the
emotional life and do not diminish but focus and steady it. It is
that you and I may have reserves of feeling--indispensable to great
preaching--sincerity and intensity of emotion, that disciplined
imagination which is genius, that restrained passion which is art,
and that our congregations may have the same, that we must strive for
intellectual power, must do the preaching that gives people something
to think about. These are the religious and devout reasons why
we value intellectual honesty, precision of utterance, reserve of
statement, logical and coherent thinking.

We are come, then, to the conclusion of our discussions. They have
been intended to restore a neglected emphasis upon the imaginative and
transcendent as distinguished from the ethical and humanistic aspects
of the religious life. They have tried to show that the reaching out
by worship to this "otherness" of God and to the ultimate in life is
man's deepest hunger and the one we are chiefly set to feed. I am sure
that the chief ally of the experience of the transcendence of God and
the cultivation of the worshipful faculties in man is to be found in
severe and speculative thinking. I believe our almost unmixed passion
for piety, for action, for practical efficiency, betrays us. It
indicates that we are trying to manufacture effects to conceal the
absence of causes. We may look for a religious revival when men have
so meditated upon and struggled with the fundamental ideas of religion
that they feel profoundly its eternal mysteries.

And finally, we have the best historical grounds for our position.
Sometimes great religious movements have been begun by unlearned and
uncritical men like Peter the hermit or John Bunyan or Moody. But we
must not infer from this that religious insight is naturally repressed
by clear thinking or fostered by ignorance. Dr. Francis Greenwood
Peabody has pointed out that the great religious epochs in Christian
history are also epochs in the history of theology. The Pauline
epistles, the _Confessions of Augustine_, the _Meditations_ of Anselm,
the _Simple Method of How to Pray_ of Luther, the _Regula_ of Loyola,
the _Monologen_ of Schleiermacher, these are all manuals of the
devout life, they belong in the distinctively religious world of
supersensuous and the transcendent, and one thing which accounts for
them is that the men who produced them were religious geniuses because
they were also theologians.[43]

[Footnote 43: See the "Call to Theology," _Har. Theo. Rev._, vol. I,
no. 1, pp. 1 ff.]

It is to be remembered that we are not saying that the theologian
makes the saint. I do not believe that. Devils can believe and
tremble; Abelard was no saint. But we are contending that the
great saint is extremely likely to be a theologian. Protestantism,
Methodism, Tractarianism, were chiefly religious movements, interested
in the kind of questions and moved by the sorts of motives which
we have been talking about. They all began within the precincts
of universities. Moreover, the Lord Jesus, consummate mystic,
incomparable artist, was such partly because He was a great theologian
as well. His dealings with scribe and Pharisee furnish some of
the world's best examples of acute and courageous dialectics. His
theological method differed markedly from the academicians of His
day. Nevertheless it was noted that He spoke with an extraordinary
authority. "He gave," as Dr. Peabody also points out, "new scope
and significance to the thought of God, to the nature of man, to the
destiny of the soul, to the meaning of the world. He would have been
reckoned among the world's great theologians if other endowments had
not given Him a higher title."[44]

[Footnote 44: "Call to Theology," _Har. Theo. Rev._, vol. I, no. 1, p.

It is a higher title to have been the supreme mystic, the perfect
seer. All I have been trying to say is that it is to these sorts
of excellencies that the preacher aspires. But the life of Jesus
supremely sanctions the conviction that preaching upon high and
abstract and even speculative themes and a rigorous intellectual
discipline are chief accompaniments, appropriate and indispensable
aids, to religious insight and to the cultivating of worshipful
feeling. So we close our discussions with the supreme name upon
our lips, leaving the most fragrant memory, the clearest picture,
remembering Him who struck the highest note. It is to His life and
teaching that we humbly turn to find the final sanction for the
distinctively religious values. Who else, indeed, has the words of
Eternal Life?

       *       *       *       *       *



  1871-72 Beecher, H.W., Yale Lectures on Preaching, first series.
          New York, 1872.

  1872-73 Beecher, H.W., Yale Lectures on Preaching, second series.
          New York, 1873.

  1873-74 Beecher, H.W., Yale Lectures on Preaching, third series.
          New York, 1874.

  1874-75 Hall, John, God's Word through Preaching. New York, 1875.

  1875-76 Taylor, William M., The Ministry of the Word. New York,

  1876-77 Brooks, P., Lectures on Preaching. New York, 1877.

  1877-78 Dale, R.W., Nine Lectures on Preaching. New York, 1878.

  1878-79 Simpson, M., Lectures on Preaching. New York, 1879.

  1879-80 Crosby, H., The Christian Preacher. New York, 1880.

  1880-81 Duryea, J.T., and others (not published).

  1881-82 Robinson, E.G., Lectures on Preaching. New York, 1883.

  1882-83 (No lectures.)

  1883-84 Burton, N.J., Yale Lectures on Preaching, and other
          writings. New York, 1888.*

  1884-85 Storrs, H.M., The American Preacher (not published).

  1885-86 Taylor, W.M., The Scottish Pulpit. New York, 1887.

  1886-87 Gladden, W., Tools and the Man. Boston, 1893.

  1887-88 Trumbull. H.C., The Sunday School. Philadelphia, 1888.

  1888-89 Broadus, J.A., Preaching and the Ministerial Life (not

  1889-90 Behrends, A.J.F., The Philosophy of Preaching. New York,

  1890-91 Stalker, J., The Preacher and His Models. New York, 1891.

  1891-92 Fairbarn, A.M., The Place of Christ in Modern Theology.
          New York, 1893.

  1892-93 Horton, R.F., Verbum Dei. New York, 1893.*

  1893-94 (No lectures.)

  1894-95 Greer, D.H., The Preacher and His Place. New York, 1895.

  1895-96 Van Dyke, H., The Gospel for an Age of Doubt. New York,

  1896-97 Watson, J., The Cure of Souls. New York, 1896.

  1897-98 Tucker, W.J., The Making and the Unmaking of the Preacher.
          Boston, 1898.

  1898-99 Smith, G.A., Modern Criticism and the Old Testament. New
          York, 1901.

  1899-00 Brown, J., Puritan Preaching in England. New York, 1900.

  1900-01 (No lectures.)

  1901-02 Gladden, W., Social Salvation. New York, 1902.

  1902-03 Gordon, G.A., Ultimate Conceptions of Faith. New York, 1903.

  1903-04 Abbott, L., The Christian Ministry. Boston, 1905.

  1904-05 Peabody, F.G., Jesus Christ and the Christian Character.
          New York, 1905.*

  1905-06 Brown, C.R., The Social Message of the Modern Pulpit. New
          York, 1906.

  1906-07 Forsyth, P.T., Positive Preaching and Modern Mind. New
          York, 1908.*

  1907-08 Faunce, W.H.P., The Educational Ideal in the Ministry. New
          York, 1908.

  1908-09 Henson, H.H., The Liberty of Prophesying. New Haven, 1910.*

  1909-10 Jefferson, C.E., The Building of the Church. New York, 1910.

  1910-11 Gunsaulus, F.W., The Minister and the Spiritual Life. New
          York, Chicago, 1911.

  1911-12 Jowett, J.H., The Preacher; His Life and Work. New York,

  1912-13 Parkhurst, C.H., The Pulpit and the Pew. New Haven. 1913.*

  1913-14 Home, C. Silvester, The Romance of Preaching. New York,
          Chicago, 1914.

  1914-15 Pepper, George Wharton, A Voice from the Crowd. New Haven,

  1915-16 Hyde, William DeWitt, The Gospel of Good Will as Revealed
          in Contemporary Scriptures. New York, 1916.

  1916-17 McDowell, William Fraser, Good Ministers of Jesus Christ.
          New York and Cincinnati, 1917.

  1917-18 Coffin, Henry Sloane, In a Day of Social Rebuilding. New

  1918-19 Kelman, John, The War and Preaching, New Haven.*

  1919-20 Fitch, Albert Parker, Preaching and Paganism. New Haven.*

*Also published in London.


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