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´╗┐Title: Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature
Author: James, William, 1842-1910
Language: English
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A Study in Human Nature






Introduction: the course is not anthropological, but deals with
personal documents-- Questions of fact and questions of value-- In
point of fact, the religious are often neurotic-- Criticism of medical
materialism, which condemns religion on that account-- Theory that
religion has a sexual origin refuted-- All states of mind are neurally
conditioned-- Their significance must be tested not by their origin but
by the value of their fruits-- Three criteria of value; origin useless
as a criterion-- Advantages of the psychopathic temperament when a
superior intellect goes with it--especially for the religious life.



Futility of simple definitions of religion-- No one specific "religious
sentiment"-- Institutional and personal religion-- We confine ourselves
to the personal branch-- Definition of religion for the purpose of
these lectures-- Meaning of the term "divine"-- The divine is what
prompts SOLEMN reactions-- Impossible to make our definitions sharp--
We must study the more extreme cases-- Two ways of accepting the
universe-- Religion is more enthusiastic than philosophy-- Its
characteristic is enthusiasm in solemn emotion-- Its ability to
overcome unhappiness-- Need of such a faculty from the biological point
of view.



Percepts versus abstract concepts-- Influence of the latter on belief--
Kant's theological Ideas-- We have a sense of reality other than that
given by the special senses-- Examples of "sense of presence"-- The
feeling of unreality-- Sense of a divine presence: examples-- Mystical
experiences: examples-- Other cases of sense of God's presence--
Convincingness of unreasoned experience-- Inferiority of rationalism in
establishing belief-- Either enthusiasm or solemnity may preponderate
in the religious attitude of individuals.



Happiness is man's chief concern-- "Once-born" and "twice-born"
characters-- Walt Whitman-- Mixed nature of Greek feeling-- Systematic
healthy-mindedness-- Its reasonableness-- Liberal Christianity shows
it-- Optimism as encouraged by Popular Science-- The "Mind-cure"
movement-- Its creed-- Cases-- Its doctrine of evil-- Its analogy to
Lutheran theology-- Salvation by relaxation-- Its methods: suggestion--
meditation-- "recollection"-- verification-- Diversity of possible
schemes of adaptation to the universe-- APPENDIX: TWO mind-cure cases.



Healthy-mindedness and repentance-- Essential pluralism of the
healthy-minded philosophy-- Morbid-mindedness: its two degrees--The
pain-threshold varies in individuals-- Insecurity of natural goods--
Failure, or vain success of every life-- Pessimism of all pure
naturalism-- Hopelessness of Greek and Roman view-- Pathological
unhappiness-- "Anhedonia"-- Querulous melancholy-- Vital zest is a pure
gift-- Loss of it makes physical world look different-- Tolstoy--
Bunyan-- Alline-- Morbid fear-- Such cases need a supernatural religion
for relief-- Antagonism of healthy-mindedness and morbidness-- The
problem of evil cannot be escaped.



Heterogeneous personality--Character gradually attains unity--Examples
of divided self--The unity attained need not be religious--"Counter
conversion" cases--Other cases--Gradual and sudden
unification--Tolstoy's recovery--Bunyan's.



Case of Stephen Bradley--The psychology of character-changes--
Emotional excitements make new centres of personal energy-- Schematic
ways of representing this-- Starbuck likens conversion to normal moral
ripening-- Leuba's ideas-- Seemingly unconvertible persons-- Two types
of conversion-- Subconscious incubation of motives-- Self-surrender--
Its importance in religious history-- Cases.



Cases of sudden conversion-- Is suddenness essential?-- No, it depends
on psychological idiosyncrasy-- Proved existence of transmarginal, or
subliminal, consciousness-- "Automatisms"-- Instantaneous conversions
seem due to the possession of an active subconscious self by the
subject-- The value of conversion depends not on the process, but on
the fruits-- These are not superior in sudden conversion-- Professor
Coe's views-- Sanctification as a result-- Our psychological account
does not exclude direct presence of the Deity-- Sense of higher
control-- Relations of the emotional "faith-state" to intellectual
beliefs-- Leuba quoted-- Characteristics of the faith-state: sense of
truth; the world appears new-- Sensory and motor automatisms--
Permanency of conversions.



Sainte-Beuve on the State of Grace-- Types of character as due to the
balance of impulses and inhibitions-- Sovereign excitements--
Irascibility-- Effects of higher excitement in general-- The saintly
life is ruled by spiritual excitement-- This may annul sensual impulses
permanently-- Probable subconscious influences involved-- Mechanical
scheme for representing permanent alteration in character--
Characteristics of saintliness-- Sense of reality of a higher power--
Peace of mind, charity-- Equanimity, fortitude, etc.-- Connection of
this with relaxation-- Purity of life-- Asceticism-- Obedience--
Poverty-- The sentiments of democracy and of humanity-- General effects
of higher excitements.



It must be tested by the human value of its fruits-- The reality of the
God must, however, also be judged-- "Unfit" religions get eliminated by
"experience"-- Empiricism is not skepticism-- Individual and tribal
religion-- Loneliness of religious originators-- Corruption follows
success-- Extravagances-- Excessive devoutness, as fanaticism-- As
theopathic absorption-- Excessive purity-- Excessive charity-- The
perfect man is adapted only to the perfect environment-- Saints are
leavens-- Excesses of asceticism-- Asceticism symbolically stands for
the heroic life-- Militarism and voluntary poverty as possible
equivalents-- Pros and cons of the saintly character-- Saints versus
"strong" men-- Their social function must be considered-- Abstractly
the saint is the highest type, but in the present environment it may
fail, so we make ourselves saints at our peril-- The question of
theological truth.



Mysticism defined-- Four marks of mystic states-- They form a distinct
region of consciousness-- Examples of their lower grades-- Mysticism
and alcohol-- "The anaesthetic revelation"-- Religious mysticism--
Aspects of Nature-- Consciousness of God-- "Cosmic consciousness"--
Yoga-- Buddhistic mysticism-- Sufism-- Christian mystics-- Their sense
of revelation-- Tonic effects of mystic states-- They describe by
negatives-- Sense of union with the Absolute-- Mysticism and music--
Three conclusions-- (1) Mystical states carry authority for him who has
them-- (2) But for no one else-- (3) Nevertheless, they break down the
exclusive authority of rationalistic states-- They strengthen monistic
and optimistic hypotheses.



Primacy of feeling in religion, philosophy being a secondary function--
Intellectualism professes to escape objective standards in her
theological constructions-- "Dogmatic theology"-- Criticism of its
account of God's attributes-- "Pragmatism" as a test of the value of
conceptions-- God's metaphysical attributes have no practical
significance-- His moral attributes are proved by bad arguments;
collapse of systematic theology-- Does transcendental idealism fare
better?  Its principles-- Quotations from John Caird-- They are good as
restatements of religious experience, but uncoercive as reasoned
proof-- What philosophy CAN do for religion by transforming herself
into "science of religions."



Aesthetic elements in religion--Contrast of Catholicism and
Protestantism-- Sacrifice and Confession-- Prayer-- Religion holds that
spiritual work is really effected in prayer-- Three degrees of opinion
as to what is effected-- First degree-- Second degree--  Third degree--
Automatisms, their frequency among religious leaders-- Jewish cases--
Mohammed-- Joseph Smith-- Religion and the subconscious region in



Summary of religious characteristics-- Men's religions need not be
identical-- "The science of religions" can only suggest, not proclaims
a religious creed-- Is religion a "survival" of primitive thought?--
Modern science rules out the concept of personality-- Anthropomorphism
and belief in the personal characterized pre-scientific thought--
Personal forces are real, in spite of this-- Scientific objects are
abstractions, only individualized experiences are concrete-- Religion
holds by the concrete-- Primarily religion is a biological reaction--
Its simplest terms are an uneasiness and a deliverance; description of
the deliverance-- Question of the reality of the higher power-- The
author's hypotheses: 1. The subconscious self as intermediating between
nature and the higher region-- 2. The higher region, or "God"-- 3. He
produces real effects in nature.


Philosophic position of the present work defined as piecemeal
supernaturalism-- Criticism of universalistic supernaturalism--
Different principles must occasion differences in fact-- What
differences in fact can God's existence occasion?-- The question of
immortality-- Question of God's uniqueness and infinity: religious
experience does not settle this question in the affirmative-- The
pluralistic hypothesis is more conformed to common sense.


This book would never have been written had I not been honored with an
appointment as Gifford Lecturer on Natural Religion at the University
of Edinburgh.  In casting about me for subjects of the two courses of
ten lectures each for which I thus became responsible, it seemed to me
that the first course might well be a descriptive one on "Man's
Religious Appetites," and the second a metaphysical one on "Their
Satisfaction through Philosophy." But the unexpected growth of the
psychological matter as I came to write it out has resulted in the
second subject being postponed entirely, and the description of man's
religious constitution now fills the twenty lectures.  In Lecture XX I
have suggested rather than stated my own philosophic conclusions, and
the reader who desires immediately to know them should turn to pages
501-509, and to the "Postscript" of the book. I hope to be able at some
later day to express them in more explicit form.

In my belief that a large acquaintance with particulars often makes us
wiser than the possession of abstract formulas, however deep, I have
loaded the lectures with concrete examples, and I have chosen these
among the extremer expressions of the religious temperament.  To some
readers I may consequently seem, before they get beyond the middle of
the book, to offer a caricature of the subject.  Such convulsions of
piety, they will say, are not sane.  If, however, they will have the
patience to read to the end, I believe that this unfavorable impression
will disappear; for I there combine the religious impulses with other
principles of common sense which serve as correctives of exaggeration,
and allow the individual reader to draw as moderate conclusions as he

My thanks for help in writing these lectures are due to Edwin D.
Starbuck, of Stanford University, who made over to me his large
collection of manuscript material; to Henry W. Rankin, of East
Northfield, a friend unseen but proved, to whom I owe precious
information; to Theodore Flournoy, of Geneva, to Canning Schiller of
Oxford, and to my colleague Benjamin Rand, for documents; to my
colleague Dickinson S. Miller, and to my friends, Thomas Wren Ward, of
New York, and Wincenty Lutoslawski, late of Cracow, for important
suggestions and advice.  Finally, to conversations with the lamented
Thomas Davidson and to the use of his books, at Glenmore, above Keene
Valley, I owe more obligations than I can well express.

Harvard University,
  March, 1902.


Lecture I


It is with no small amount of trepidation that I take my place behind
this desk, and face this learned audience.  To us Americans, the
experience of receiving instruction from the living voice, as well as
from the books, of European scholars, is very familiar.  At my own
University of Harvard, not a winter passes without its harvest, large
or small, of lectures from Scottish, English, French, or German
representatives of the science or literature of their respective
countries whom we have either induced to cross the ocean to address us,
or captured on the wing as they were visiting our land.  It seems the
natural thing for us to listen whilst the Europeans talk.  The contrary
habit, of talking whilst the Europeans listen, we have not yet
acquired; and in him who first makes the adventure it begets a certain
sense of apology being due for so presumptuous an act.  Particularly
must this be the case on a soil as sacred to the American imagination
as that of Edinburgh.  The glories of the philosophic chair of this
university were deeply impressed on my imagination in boyhood.
Professor Fraser's Essays in Philosophy, then just published, was the
first philosophic book I ever looked into, and I well remember the
awestruck feeling I received from the account of Sir William Hamilton's
classroom therein contained.  Hamilton's own lectures were the first
philosophic writings I ever forced myself to study, and after that I
was immersed in Dugald Stewart and Thomas Brown.  Such juvenile
emotions of reverence never get outgrown; and I confess that to find my
humble self promoted from my native wilderness to be actually for the
time an official here, and transmuted into a colleague of these
illustrious names, carries with it a sense of dreamland quite as much
as of reality.

But since I have received the honor of this appointment I have felt
that it would never do to decline.  The academic career also has its
heroic obligations, so I stand here without further deprecatory words.
Let me say only this, that now that the current, here and at Aberdeen,
has begun to run from west to east, I hope it may continue to do so.
As the years go by, I hope that many of my countrymen may be asked to
lecture in the Scottish universities, changing places with Scotsmen
lecturing in the United States; I hope that our people may become in
all these higher matters even as one people; and that the peculiar
philosophic temperament, as well as the peculiar political temperament,
that goes with our English speech may more and more pervade and
influence the world.

As regards the manner in which I shall have to administer this
lectureship, I am neither a theologian, nor a scholar learned in the
history of religions, nor an anthropologist.  Psychology is the only
branch of learning in which I am particularly versed.  To the
psychologist the religious propensities of man must be at least as
interesting as any other of the facts pertaining to his mental
constitution.  It would seem, therefore, that, as a psychologist, the
natural thing for me would be to invite you to a descriptive survey of
those religious propensities.

If the inquiry be psychological, not religious institutions, but rather
religious feelings and religious impulses must be its subject, and I
must confine myself to those more developed subjective phenomena
recorded in literature produced by articulate and fully self-conscious
men, in works of piety and autobiography.  Interesting as the origins
and early stages of a subject always are, yet when one seeks earnestly
for its full significance, one must always look to its more completely
evolved and perfect forms.  It follows from this that the documents
that will most concern us will be those of the men who were most
accomplished in the religious life and best able to give an
intelligible account of their ideas and motives.  These men, of course,
are either comparatively modern writers, or else such earlier ones as
have become religious classics.  The documents humains which we shall
find most instructive need not then be sought for in the haunts of
special erudition--they lie along the beaten highway; and this
circumstance, which flows so naturally from the character of our
problem, suits admirably also your lecturer's lack of special
theological learning. I may take my citations, my sentences and
paragraphs of personal confession, from books that most of you at some
time will have had already in your hands, and yet this will be no
detriment to the value of my conclusions.  It is true that some more
adventurous reader and investigator, lecturing here in future, may
unearth from the shelves of libraries documents that will make a more
delectable and curious entertainment to listen to than mine.  Yet I
doubt whether he will necessarily, by his control of so much more
out-of-the-way material, get much closer to the essence of the matter
in hand.

The question, What are the religious propensities?  and the question,
What is their philosophic significance?  are two entirely different
orders of question from the logical point of view; and, as a failure to
recognize this fact distinctly may breed confusion, I wish to insist
upon the point a little before we enter into the documents and
materials to which I have referred.

In recent books on logic, distinction is made between two orders of
inquiry concerning anything.  First, what is the nature of it?  how did
it come about?  what is its constitution, origin, and history?  And
second, What is its importance, meaning, or significance, now that it
is once here? The answer to the one question is given in an existential
judgment or proposition.  The answer to the other is a proposition of
value, what the Germans call a Werthurtheil, or what we may, if we
like, denominate a spiritual judgment.  Neither judgment can be deduced
immediately from the other.  They proceed from diverse intellectual
preoccupations, and the mind combines them only by making them first
separately, and then adding them together.

In the matter of religions it is particularly easy to distinguish the
two orders of question.  Every religious phenomenon has its history and
its derivation from natural antecedents.  What is nowadays called the
higher criticism of the Bible is only a study of the Bible from this
existential point of view, neglected too much by the earlier church.
Under just what biographic conditions did the sacred writers bring
forth their various contributions to the holy volume?  And what had
they exactly in their several individual minds, when they delivered
their utterances?  These are manifestly questions of historical fact,
and one does not see how the answer to them can decide offhand the
still further question: of what use should such a volume, with its
manner of coming into existence so defined, be to us as a guide to life
and a revelation?  To answer this other question we must have already
in our mind some sort of a general theory as to what the peculiarities
in a thing should be which give it value for purposes of revelation;
and this theory itself would be what I just called a spiritual
judgment.  Combining it with our existential judgment, we might indeed
deduce another spiritual judgment as to the Bible's worth.  Thus if our
theory of revelation-value were to affirm that any book, to possess it,
must have been composed automatically or not by the free caprice of the
writer, or that it must exhibit no scientific and historic errors and
express no local or personal passions, the Bible would probably fare
ill at our hands.  But if, on the other hand, our theory should allow
that a book may well be a revelation in spite of errors and passions
and deliberate human composition, if only it be a true record of the
inner experiences of great-souled persons wrestling with the crises of
their fate, then the verdict would be much more favorable.  You see
that the existential facts by themselves are insufficient for
determining the value; and the best adepts of the higher criticism
accordingly never confound the existential with the spiritual problem.
With the same conclusions of fact before them, some take one view, and
some another, of the Bible's value as a revelation, according as their
spiritual judgment as to the foundation of values differs.

I make these general remarks about the two sorts of judgment, because
there are many religious persons--some of you now present, possibly,
are among them--who do not yet make a working use of the distinction,
and who may therefore feel first a little startled at the purely
existential point of view from which in the following lectures the
phenomena of religious experience must be considered.  When I handle
them biologically and psychologically as if they were mere curious
facts of individual history, some of you may think it a degradation of
so sublime a subject, and may even suspect me, until my purpose gets
more fully expressed, of deliberately seeking to discredit the
religious side of life.

Such a result is of course absolutely alien to my intention; and since
such a prejudice on your part would seriously obstruct the due effect
of much of what I have to relate, I will devote a few more words to the

There can be no doubt that as a matter of fact a religious life,
exclusively pursued, does tend to make the person exceptional and
eccentric.  I speak not now of your ordinary religious believer, who
follows the conventional observances of his country, whether it be
Buddhist, Christian, or Mohammedan.  His religion has been made for him
by others, communicated to him by tradition, determined to fixed forms
by imitation, and retained by habit.  It would profit us little to
study this second-hand religious life.  We must make search rather for
the original experiences which were the pattern-setters to all this
mass of suggested feeling and imitated conduct.  These experiences we
can only find in individuals for whom religion exists not as a dull
habit, but as an acute fever rather.  But such individuals are
"geniuses" in the religious line; and like many other geniuses who have
brought forth fruits effective enough for commemoration in the pages of
biography, such religious geniuses have often shown symptoms of nervous
instability.  Even more perhaps than other kinds of genius, religious
leaders have been subject to abnormal psychical visitations.
Invariably they have been creatures of exalted emotional sensibility.
Often they have led a discordant inner life, and had melancholy during
a part of their career.  They have known no measure, been liable to
obsessions and fixed ideas; and frequently they have fallen into
trances, heard voices, seen visions, and presented all sorts of
peculiarities which are ordinarily classed as pathological.  Often,
moreover, these pathological features in their career have helped to
give them their religious authority and influence.

If you ask for a concrete example, there can be no better one than is
furnished by the person of George Fox.  The Quaker religion which he
founded is something which it is impossible to overpraise.  In a day of
shams, it was a religion of veracity rooted in spiritual inwardness,
and a return to something more like the original gospel truth than men
had ever known in England.  So far as our Christian sects today are
evolving into liberality, they are simply reverting in essence to the
position which Fox and the early Quakers so long ago assumed.  No one
can pretend for a moment that in point of spiritual sagacity and
capacity, Fox's mind was unsound.  Everyone who confronted him
personally, from Oliver Cromwell down to county magistrates and
jailers, seems to have acknowledged his superior power.  Yet from the
point of view of his nervous constitution, Fox was a psychopath or
detraque of the deepest dye.  His Journal abounds in entries of this

"As I was walking with several friends, I lifted up my head and saw
three steeple-house spires, and they struck at my life.  I asked them
what place that was?  They said, Lichfield.  Immediately the word of
the Lord came to me, that I must go thither.  Being come to the house
we were going to, I wished the friends to walk into the house, saying
nothing to them of whither I was to go.  As soon as they were gone I
stept away, and went by my eye over hedge and ditch till I came within
a mile of Lichfield where, in a great field, shepherds were keeping
their sheep.  Then was I commanded by the Lord to pull off my shoes.  I
stood still, for it was winter: but the word of the Lord was like a
fire in me.  So I put off my shoes and left them with the shepherds;
and the poor shepherds trembled, and were astonished.  Then I walked on
about a mile, and as soon as I was got within the city, the word of the
Lord came to me again, saying: Cry, 'Wo to the bloody city of
Lichfield!' So I went up and down the streets, crying with a loud
voice, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!  It being market day, I went
into the market-place, and to and fro in the several parts of it, and
made stands, crying as before, Wo to the bloody city of Lichfield!  And
no one laid hands on me.  As I went thus crying through the streets,
there seemed to me to be a channel of blood running down the streets,
and the market-place appeared like a pool of blood. When I had declared
what was upon me, and felt myself clear, I went out of the town in
peace; and returning to the shepherds gave them some money, and took my
shoes of them again.  But the fire of the Lord was so on my feet, and
all over me, that I did not matter to put on my shoes again, and was at
a stand whether I should or no, till I felt freedom from the Lord so to
do: then, after I had washed my feet, I put on my shoes again. After
this a deep consideration came upon me, for what reason I should be
sent to cry against that city, and call it The bloody city!  For though
the parliament had the minister one while, and the king another, and
much blood had been shed in the town during the wars between them, yet
there was no more than had befallen many other places.  But afterwards
I came to understand, that in the Emperor Diocletian's time a thousand
Christians were martyr'd in Lichfield.  So I was to go, without my
shoes, through the channel of their blood, and into the pool of their
blood in the market-place, that I might raise up the memorial of the
blood of those martyrs, which had been shed above a thousand years
before, and lay cold in their streets.  So the sense of this blood was
upon me, and I obeyed the word of the Lord."

Bent as we are on studying religion's existential conditions, we cannot
possibly ignore these pathological aspects of the subject.

We must describe and name them just as if they occurred in
non-religious men.  It is true that we instinctively recoil from seeing
an object to which our emotions and affections are committed handled by
the intellect as any other object is handled.  The first thing the
intellect does with an object is to class it along with something else.
But any object that is infinitely important to us and awakens our
devotion feels to us also as if it must be sui generis and unique.
Probably a crab would be filled with a sense of personal outrage if it
could hear us class it without ado or apology as a crustacean, and thus
dispose of it.  "I am no such thing, it would say; I am MYSELF, MYSELF

The next thing the intellect does is to lay bare the causes in which
the thing originates.  Spinoza says: "I will analyze the actions and
appetites of men as if it were a question of lines, of planes, and of
solids."  And elsewhere he remarks that he will consider our passions
and their properties with the same eye with which he looks on all other
natural things, since the consequences of our affections flow from
their nature with the same necessity as it results from the nature of a
triangle that its three angles should be equal to two right angles.
Similarly M. Taine, in the introduction to his history of English
literature, has written: "Whether facts be moral or physical, it makes
no matter.  They always have their causes.  There are causes for
ambition, courage, veracity, just as there are for digestion, muscular
movement, animal heat.  Vice and virtue are products like vitriol and
sugar."  When we read such proclamations of the intellect bent on
showing the existential conditions of absolutely everything, we
feel--quite apart from our legitimate impatience at the somewhat
ridiculous swagger of the program, in view of what the authors are
actually able to perform--menaced and negated in the springs of our
innermost life.  Such cold-blooded assimilations threaten, we think, to
undo our soul's vital secrets, as if the same breath which should
succeed in explaining their origin would simultaneously explain away
their significance, and make them appear of no more preciousness,
either, than the useful groceries of which M. Taine speaks.

Perhaps the commonest expression of this assumption that spiritual
value is undone if lowly origin be asserted is seen in those comments
which unsentimental people so often pass on their more sentimental
acquaintances.  Alfred believes in immortality so strongly because his
temperament is so emotional.  Fanny's extraordinary conscientiousness
is merely a matter of overinstigated nerves.  William's melancholy
about the universe is due to bad digestion--probably his liver is
torpid.  Eliza's delight in her church is a symptom of her hysterical
constitution.  Peter would be less troubled about his soul if he would
take more exercise in the open air, etc.  A more fully developed
example of the same kind of reasoning is the fashion, quite common
nowadays among certain writers, of criticizing the religious emotions
by showing a connection between them and the sexual life.  Conversion
is a crisis of puberty and adolescence.  The macerations of saints, and
the devotion of missionaries, are only instances of the parental
instinct of self-sacrifice gone astray.  For the hysterical nun,
starving for natural life, Christ is but an imaginary substitute for a
more earthly object of affection. And the like.[1]

[1]  As with many ideas that float in the air of one's time, this
notion shrinks from dogmatic general statement and expresses itself
only partially and by innuendo.  It seems to me that few conceptions
are less instructive than this re-interpretation of religion as
perverted sexuality.  It reminds one, so crudely is it often employed,
of the famous Catholic taunt, that the Reformation may be best
understood by remembering that its fons et origo was Luther's wish to
marry a nun:--the effects are infinitely wider than the alleged causes,
and for the most part opposite in nature.  It is true that in the vast
collection of religious phenomena, some are undisguisedly
amatory--e.g., sex-deities and obscene rites in polytheism, and
ecstatic feelings of union with the Savior in a few Christian mystics.
But then why not equally call religion an aberration of the digestive
function, and prove one's point by the worship of Bacchus and Ceres, or
by the ecstatic feelings of some other saints about the Eucharist?
Religious language clothes itself in such poor symbols as our life
affords, and the whole organism gives overtones of comment whenever the
mind is strongly stirred to expression.  Language drawn from eating and
drinking is probably as common in religious literature as is language
drawn from the sexual life.  We "hunger and thirst" after
righteousness; we "find the Lord a sweet savor;" we "taste and see that
he is good."  "Spiritual milk for American babes, drawn from the
breasts of both testaments," is a sub-title of the once famous New
England Primer, and Christian devotional literature indeed quite floats
in milk, thought of from the point of view, not of the mother, but of
the greedy babe.

Saint Francois de Sales, for instance, thus describes the "orison of
quietude":  "In this state the soul is like a little child still at the
breast, whose mother to caress him whilst he is still in her arms makes
her milk distill into his mouth without his even moving his lips.  So
it is here.... Our Lord desires that our will should be satisfied with
sucking the milk which His Majesty pours into our mouth, and that we
should relish the sweetness without even knowing that it cometh from
the Lord." And again:  "Consider the little infants, united and joined
to the breasts of their nursing mothers you will see that from time to
time they press themselves closer by little starts to which the
pleasure of sucking prompts them.  Even so, during its orison, the
heart united to its God oftentimes makes attempts at closer union by
movements during which it presses closer upon the divine sweetness."
Chemin de la Perfection, ch. xxxi.; Amour de Dieu, vii. ch. i.

In fact, one might almost as well interpret religion as a perversion of
the respiratory function.  The Bible is full of the language of
respiratory oppression:  "Hide not thine ear at my breathing; my
groaning is not hid from thee; my heart panteth, my strength faileth
me; my bones are hot with my roaring all the night long; as the hart
panteth after the water-brooks, so my soul panteth after thee, O my
God:"  God's Breath in Man is the title of the chief work of our best
known American mystic (Thomas Lake Harris), and in certain
non-Christian countries the foundation of all religious discipline
consists in regulation of the inspiration and expiration.

These arguments are as good as much of the reasoning one hears in favor
of the sexual theory.  But the champions of the latter will then say
that their chief argument has no analogue elsewhere.  The two main
phenomena of religion, namely, melancholy and conversion, they will
say, are essentially phenomena of adolescence, and therefore
synchronous with the development of sexual life.  To which the retort
again is easy.  Even were the asserted synchrony unrestrictedly true as
a fact (which it is not), it is not only the sexual life, but the
entire higher mental life which awakens during adolescence.  One might
then as well set up the thesis that the interest in mechanics, physics,
chemistry, logic, philosophy, and sociology, which springs up during
adolescent years along with that in poetry and religion, is also a
perversion of the sexual instinct:--but that would be too absurd.
Moreover, if the argument from synchrony is to decide, what is to be
done with the fact that the religious age par excellence would seem to
be old age, when the uproar of the sexual life is past?

The plain truth is that to interpret religion one must in the end look
at the immediate content of the religious consciousness.  The moment
one does this, one sees how wholly disconnected it is in the main from
the content of the sexual consciousness.  Everything about the two
things differs, objects, moods, faculties concerned, and acts impelled
to.  Any GENERAL assimilation is simply impossible: what we find most
often is complete hostility and contrast.  If now the defenders of the
sex-theory say that this makes no difference to their thesis; that
without the chemical contributions which the sex-organs make to the
blood, the brain would not be nourished so as to carry on religious
activities, this final proposition may be true or not true; but at any
rate it has become profoundly uninstructive: we can deduce no
consequences from it which help us to interpret religion's meaning or
value.  In this sense the religious life depends just as much upon the
spleen, the pancreas, and the kidneys as on the sexual apparatus, and
the whole theory has lost its point in evaporating into a vague general
assertion of the dependence, SOMEHOW, of the mind upon the body.

We are surely all familiar in a general way with this method of
discrediting states of mind for which we have an antipathy.  We all use
it to some degree in criticizing persons whose states of mind we regard
as overstrained.  But when other people criticize our own more exalted
soul-flights by calling them 'nothing but' expressions of our organic
disposition, we feel outraged and hurt, for we know that, whatever be
our organism's peculiarities, our mental states have their substantive
value as revelations of the living truth; and we wish that all this
medical materialism could be made to hold its tongue.

Medical materialism seems indeed a good appellation for the too
simple-minded system of thought which we are considering.  Medical
materialism finishes up Saint Paul by calling his vision on the road to
Damascus a discharging lesion of the occipital cortex, he being an
epileptic.  It snuffs out Saint Teresa as an hysteric, Saint Francis of
Assisi as an hereditary degenerate.  George Fox's discontent with the
shams of his age, and his pining for spiritual veracity, it treats as a
symptom of a disordered colon.  Carlyle's organ-tones of misery it
accounts for by a gastro-duodenal catarrh.  All such mental
overtensions, it says, are, when you come to the bottom of the matter,
mere affairs of diathesis (auto-intoxications most probably), due to
the perverted action of various glands which physiology will yet
discover.  And medical materialism then thinks that the spiritual
authority of all such personages is successfully undermined.[2]

[2]  For a first-rate example of medical-materialist reasoning, see an
article on "les varietes du Type devot," by Dr. Binet-Sangle, in the
Revue de l'Hypnotisme, xiv. 161.

Let us ourselves look at the matter in the largest possible way.
Modern psychology, finding definite psycho-physical connections to hold
good, assumes as a convenient hypothesis that the dependence of mental
states upon bodily conditions must be thoroughgoing and complete.  If
we adopt the assumption, then of course what medical materialism
insists on must be true in a general way, if not in every detail:
Saint Paul certainly had once an epileptoid, if not an epileptic
seizure; George Fox was an hereditary degenerate; Carlyle was
undoubtedly auto-intoxicated by some organ or other, no matter
which--and the rest.  But now, I ask you, how can such an existential
account of facts of mental history decide in one way or another upon
their spiritual significance?  According to the general postulate of
psychology just referred to, there is not a single one of our states of
mind, high or low, healthy or morbid, that has not some organic process
as its condition.  Scientific theories are organically conditioned just
as much as religious emotions are; and if we only knew the facts
intimately enough, we should doubtless see "the liver" determining the
dicta of the sturdy atheist as decisively as it does those of the
Methodist under conviction anxious about his soul.  When it alters in
one way the blood that percolates it, we get the methodist, when in
another way, we get the atheist form of mind.  So of all our raptures
and our drynesses, our longings and pantings, our questions and
beliefs.  They are equally organically founded, be they religious or of
non-religious content.

To plead the organic causation of a religious state of  mind, then, in
refutation of its claim to possess superior spiritual value, is quite
illogical and arbitrary, unless one has already worked out in advance
some psycho-physical theory connecting spiritual values in general with
determinate sorts of physiological change.  Otherwise none of our
thoughts and feelings, not even our scientific doctrines, not even our
DIS-beliefs, could retain any value as revelations of the truth, for
every one of them without exception flows from the state of its
possessor's body at the time.

It is needless to say that medical materialism draws in point of fact
no such sweeping skeptical conclusion.  It is sure, just as every
simple man is sure, that some states of mind are inwardly superior to
others, and reveal to us more truth, and in this it simply makes use of
an ordinary spiritual judgment.  It has no physiological theory of the
production of these its favorite states, by which it may accredit them;
and its attempt to discredit the states which it dislikes, by vaguely
associating them with nerves and liver, and connecting them with names
connoting bodily affliction, is altogether illogical and inconsistent.

Let us play fair in this whole matter, and be quite candid with
ourselves and with the facts.  When we think certain states of mind
superior to others, is it ever because of what we know concerning their
organic antecedents?  No! it is always for two entirely different
reasons.  It is either because we take an immediate delight in them; or
else it is because we believe them to bring us good consequential
fruits for life.  When we speak disparagingly of "feverish fancies,"
surely the fever-process as such is not the ground of our
disesteem--for aught we know to the contrary, 103 degrees or 104
degrees Fahrenheit might be a much more favorable temperature for
truths to germinate and sprout in, than the more ordinary blood-heat of
97 or 98 degrees.  It is either the disagreeableness itself of the
fancies, or their inability to bear the criticisms of the convalescent
hour.  When we praise the thoughts which health brings, health's
peculiar chemical metabolisms have nothing to do with determining our
judgment.  We know in fact almost nothing about these metabolisms.  It
is the character of inner happiness in the thoughts which stamps them
as good, or else their consistency with our other opinions and their
serviceability for our needs, which make them pass for true in our

Now the more intrinsic and the more remote of these criteria do not
always hang together.  Inner happiness and serviceability do not always
agree.  What immediately feels most "good" is not always most "true,"
when measured by the verdict of the rest of experience.  The difference
between Philip drunk and Philip sober is the classic instance in
corroboration.  If merely "feeling good" could decide, drunkenness
would be the supremely valid human experience.  But its revelations,
however acutely satisfying at the moment, are inserted into an
environment which refuses to bear them out for any length of time.  The
consequence of this discrepancy of the two criteria is the uncertainty
which still prevails over so many of our spiritual judgments.  There
are moments of sentimental and mystical experience--we shall hereafter
hear much of them--that carry an enormous sense of inner authority and
illumination with them when they come.  But they come seldom, and they
do not come to everyone; and the rest of life makes either no
connection with them, or tends to contradict them more than it confirms
them.  Some persons follow more the voice of the moment in these cases,
some prefer to be guided by the average results.  Hence the sad
discordancy of so many of the spiritual judgments of human beings; a
discordancy which will be brought home to us acutely enough before
these lectures end.

It is, however, a discordancy that can never be resolved by any merely
medical test.  A good example of the impossibility of holding strictly
to the medical tests is seen in the theory of the pathological
causation of genius promulgated by recent authors.  "Genius," said Dr.
Moreau, "is but one of the many branches of the neuropathic tree."
"Genius," says Dr. Lombroso, "is a symptom of hereditary degeneration
of the epileptoid variety, and is allied to moral insanity."
"Whenever a man's life," writes Mr. Nisbet, "is at once sufficiently
illustrious and recorded with sufficient fullness to be a subject of
profitable study, he inevitably falls into the morbid category....  And
it is worthy of remark that, as a rule, the greater the genius, the
greater the unsoundness."[3]

[3]  J. F. Nisbet:  The Insanity of Genius, 3d ed., London, 1893, pp.
xvi., xxiv.

Now do these authors, after having succeeded in establishing to their
own satisfaction that the works of genius are fruits of disease,
consistently proceed thereupon to impugn the VALUE of the fruits?  Do
they deduce a new spiritual judgment from their new doctrine of
existential conditions? Do they frankly forbid us to admire the
productions of genius from now onwards?  and say outright that no
neuropath can ever be a revealer of new truth?

No! their immediate spiritual instincts are too strong for them here,
and hold their own against inferences which, in mere love of logical
consistency, medical materialism ought to be only too glad to draw.
One disciple of the school, indeed, has striven to impugn the value of
works of genius in a wholesale way (such works of contemporary art,
namely, as he himself is unable to enjoy, and they are many) by using
medical arguments.[4]  But for the most part the masterpieces are left
unchallenged; and the medical line of attack either confines itself to
such secular productions as everyone admits to be intrinsically
eccentric, or else addresses itself exclusively to religious
manifestations.  And then it is because the religious manifestations
have been already condemned because the critic dislikes them on
internal or spiritual grounds.

[4]  Max Nordau, in his bulky book entitled Degeneration.

In the natural sciences and industrial arts it never occurs to anyone
to try to refute opinions by showing up their author's neurotic
constitution.  Opinions here are invariably tested by logic and by
experiment, no matter what may be their author's neurological type.  It
should be no otherwise with religious opinions.  Their value can only
be ascertained by spiritual judgments directly passed upon them,
judgments based on our own immediate feeling primarily; and secondarily
on what we can ascertain of their experiential relations to our moral
needs and to the rest of what we hold as true.

Immediate luminousness, in short, philosophical reasonableness, and
moral helpfulness are the only available criteria. Saint Teresa might
have had the nervous system of the placidest cow, and it would not now
save her theology, if the trial of the theology by these other tests
should show it to be contemptible.  And conversely if her theology can
stand these other tests, it will make no difference how hysterical or
nervously off her balance Saint Teresa may have been when she was with
us here below.

You see that at bottom we are thrown back upon the general principles
by which the empirical philosophy has always contended that we must be
guided in our search for truth.  Dogmatic philosophies have sought for
tests for truth which might dispense us from appealing to the future.
Some direct mark, by noting which we can be protected immediately and
absolutely, now and forever, against all mistake--such has been the
darling dream of philosophic dogmatists.  It is clear that the ORIGIN
of the truth would be an admirable criterion of this sort, if only the
various origins could be discriminated from one another from this point
of view, and the history of dogmatic opinion shows that origin has
always been a favorite test.  Origin in immediate intuition; origin in
pontifical authority; origin in supernatural revelation, as by vision,
hearing, or unaccountable impression; origin in direct possession by a
higher spirit, expressing itself in prophecy and warning; origin in
automatic utterance generally--these origins have been stock warrants
for the truth of one opinion after another which we find represented in
religious history.  The medical materialists are therefore only so many
belated dogmatists, neatly turning the tables on their predecessors by
using the criterion of origin in a destructive instead of an
accreditive way.

They are effective with their talk of pathological origin only so long
as supernatural origin is pleaded by the other side, and nothing but
the argument from origin is under discussion.  But the argument from
origin has seldom been used alone, for it is too obviously
insufficient.  Dr. Maudsley is perhaps the cleverest of the rebutters
of supernatural religion on grounds of origin.  Yet he finds himself
forced to write:--

"What right have we to believe Nature under any obligation to do her
work by means of complete minds only?  She may find an incomplete mind
a more suitable instrument for a particular purpose.  It is the work
that is done, and the quality in the worker by which it was done, that
is alone of moment; and it may be no great matter from a cosmical
standpoint, if in other qualities of character he was singularly
defective--if indeed he were hypocrite, adulterer, eccentric, or
lunatic....  Home we come again, then, to the old and last resort of
certitude--namely the common assent of mankind, or of the competent by
instruction and training among mankind."[5]

[5]  H. Maudsley:  Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings, 1886, pp.
256, 257.

In other words, not its origin, but THE WAY IN WHICH IT WORKS ON THE
WHOLE, is Dr. Maudsley's final test of a belief.  This is our own
empiricist criterion; and this criterion the stoutest insisters on
supernatural origin have also been forced to use in the end.  Among the
visions and messages some have always been too patently silly, among
the trances and convulsive seizures some have been too fruitless for
conduct and character, to pass themselves off as significant, still
less as divine.  In the history of Christian mysticism the problem how
to discriminate between such messages and experiences as were really
divine miracles, and such others as the demon in his malice was able to
counterfeit, thus making the religious person twofold more the child of
hell he was before, has always been a difficult one to solve, needing
all the sagacity and experience of the best directors of conscience.
In the end it had to come to our empiricist criterion:  By their fruits
ye shall know them, not by their roots.  Jonathan Edwards's Treatise on
Religious Affections is an elaborate working out of this thesis.  The
ROOTS of a man's virtue are inaccessible to us.  No appearances
whatever are infallible proofs of grace.  Our practice is the only sure
evidence, even to ourselves, that we are genuinely Christians.

"In forming a judgment of ourselves now," Edwards writes, we should
certainly adopt that evidence which our supreme Judge will chiefly make
use of when we come to stand before him at the last day....  There is
not one grace of the Spirit of God, of the existence of which, in any
professor of religion, Christian practice is not the most decisive
evidence....  The degree in which our experience is productive of
practice shows the degree in which our experience is spiritual and

Catholic writers are equally emphatic.  The good dispositions which a
vision, or voice, or other apparent heavenly favor leave behind them
are the only marks by which we {22} may be sure they are not possible
deceptions of the tempter.  Says Saint Teresa:--

"Like imperfect sleep which, instead of giving more strength to the
head, doth but leave it the more exhausted, the result of mere
operations of the imagination is but to weaken the soul.  Instead of
nourishment and energy she reaps only lassitude and disgust:  whereas a
genuine heavenly vision yields to her a harvest of ineffable spiritual
riches, and an admirable renewal of bodily strength.  I alleged these
reasons to those who so often accused my visions of being the work of
the enemy of mankind and the sport of my imagination....  I showed them
the jewels which the divine hand had left with me:--they were my actual
dispositions.  All those who knew me saw that I was changed; my
confessor bore witness to the fact; this improvement, palpable in all
respects, far from being hidden, was brilliantly evident to all men.
As for myself, it was impossible to believe that if the demon were its
author, he could have used, in order to lose me and lead me to hell, an
expedient so contrary to his own interests as that of uprooting my
vices, and filling me with masculine courage and other virtues instead,
for I saw clearly that a single one of these visions was enough to
enrich me with all that wealth."[6]

[6]  Autobiography, ch. xxviii.

I fear I may have made a longer excursus than was necessary, and that
fewer words would have dispelled the uneasiness which may have arisen
among some of you as I announced my pathological programme.  At any
rate you must all be ready now to judge the religious life by its
results exclusively, and I shall assume that the bugaboo of morbid
origin will scandalize your piety no more.

Still, you may ask me, if its results are to be the ground of our final
spiritual estimate of a religious phenomenon, why threaten us at all
with so much existential study of its conditions?  Why not simply leave
pathological questions out?

To this I reply in two ways.  First, I say, irrepressible curiosity
imperiously leads one on; and I say, secondly, that it always leads to
a better understanding of a thing's significance to consider its
exaggerations and perversions its equivalents and substitutes and
nearest relatives elsewhere.  Not that we may thereby swamp the thing
in the wholesale condemnation which we pass on its inferior congeners,
but rather that we may by contrast ascertain the more precisely in what
its merits consist, by learning at the same time to what particular
dangers of corruption it may also be exposed.

Insane conditions have this advantage, that they isolate special
factors of the mental life, and enable us to inspect them unmasked by
their more usual surroundings.  They play the part in mental anatomy
which the scalpel and the microscope play in the anatomy of the body.
To understand a thing rightly we need to see it both out of its
environment and in it, and to have acquaintance with the whole range of
its variations.  The study of hallucinations has in this way been for
psychologists the key to their comprehension of normal sensation, that
of illusions has been the key to the right comprehension of perception.
Morbid impulses and imperative conceptions, "fixed ideas," so called,
have thrown a flood of light on the psychology of the normal will; and
obsessions and delusions have performed the same service for that of
the normal faculty of belief.

Similarly, the nature of genius has been illuminated by the attempts,
of which I already made mention, to class it with psychopathical
phenomena.  Borderland insanity, crankiness, insane temperament, loss
of mental balance, psychopathic degeneration (to use a few of the many
synonyms by which it has been called), has certain peculiarities and
liabilities which, when combined with a superior quality of intellect
in an individual, make it more probable that he will make his mark and
affect his age, than if his temperament were less neurotic.  There is
of course no special affinity between crankiness as such and superior
intellect,[7] for most psychopaths have feeble intellects, and superior
intellects more commonly have normal nervous systems. But the
psychopathic temperament, whatever be the intellect with which it finds
itself paired, often brings with it ardor and excitability of
character.  The cranky person has extraordinary emotional
susceptibility.  He is liable to fixed ideas and obsessions.  His
conceptions tend to pass immediately into belief and action; and when
he gets a new idea, he has no rest till he proclaims it, or in some way
"works it off."  "What shall I think of it?" a common person says to
himself about a vexed question; but in a "cranky" mind "What must I do
about it?" is the form the question tends to take.  In the
autobiography of that high-souled woman, Mrs. Annie Besant, I read the
following passage:  "Plenty of people wish well to any good cause, but
very few care to exert themselves to help it, and still fewer will risk
anything in its support.  'Someone ought to do it, but why should I?'
is the ever reechoed phrase of weak-kneed amiability. 'Someone ought to
do it, so why not I?' is the cry of some earnest servant of man,
eagerly forward springing to face some perilous duty.  Between these
two sentences lie whole centuries of moral evolution."  True enough!
and between these two sentences lie also the different destinies of the
ordinary sluggard and the psychopathic man.  Thus, when a superior
intellect and a psychopathic temperament coalesce--as in the endless
permutations and combinations of human faculty, they are bound to
coalesce often enough--in the same individual, we have the best
possible condition for the kind of effective genius that gets into the
{25} biographical dictionaries.  Such men do not remain mere critics
and understanders with their intellect.  Their ideas possess them, they
inflict them, for better or worse, upon their companions or their age.
It is they who get counted when Messrs. Lombroso, Nisbet, and others
invoke statistics to defend their paradox.

[7]  Superior intellect, as Professor Bain has admirably shown, seems
to consist in nothing so much as in a large development of the faculty
of association by similarity.

To pass now to religious phenomena, take the melancholy which, as we
shall see, constitutes an essential moment in every complete religious
evolution.  Take the happiness which achieved religious belief confers.
Take the trancelike states of insight into truth which all religious
mystics report.[8]  These are each and all of them special cases of
kinds of human experience of much wider scope.  Religious melancholy,
whatever peculiarities it may have qua religious, is at any rate
melancholy.  Religious happiness is happiness. Religious trance is
trance.  And the moment we renounce the absurd notion that a thing is
exploded away as soon as it is classed with others, or its origin is
shown; the moment we agree to stand by experimental results and inner
quality, in judging of values--who does not see that we are likely to
ascertain the distinctive significance of religious melancholy and
happiness, or of religious trances, far better by comparing them as
conscientiously as we can with other varieties of melancholy,
happiness, and trance, than by refusing to consider their place in any
more general series, and treating them as if they were outside of
nature's order altogether?

I hope that the course of these lectures will confirm us in this
supposition.  As regards the psychopathic origin of so many religious
phenomena, that would not be in the least surprising or disconcerting,
even were such phenomena certified from on high to be the most precious
of human experiences.  No one organism can possibly yield to its owner
the whole body of truth.  Few of us are not in some way infirm, or even
diseased; and our very infirmities help us unexpectedly.  In the
psychopathic temperament we have the emotionality which is the sine qua
non of moral perception; we have the intensity and tendency to emphasis
which are the essence of practical moral vigor; and we have the love of
metaphysics and mysticism which carry one's interests beyond the
surface of the sensible world. What, then, is more natural than that
this temperament should introduce one to regions of religious truth, to
corners of the universe, which your robust Philistine type of nervous
system, forever offering its biceps to be felt, thumping its breast,
and thanking Heaven that it hasn't a single morbid fiber in its
composition, would be sure to hide forever from its self-satisfied

[8]  I may refer to a criticism of the insanity theory of genius in the
Psychological Review, ii. 287 (1895).

If there were such a thing as inspiration from a higher realm, it might
well be that the neurotic temperament would furnish the chief condition
of the requisite receptivity. And having said thus much, I think that I
may let the matter of religion and neuroticism drop.

The mass of collateral phenomena, morbid or healthy, with which the
various religious phenomena must be compared in order to understand
them better, forms what in the slang of pedagogics is termed "the
apperceiving mass" by which we comprehend them.  The only novelty that
I can imagine this course of lectures to possess lies in the breadth of
the apperceiving mass.  I may succeed in discussing religious
experiences in a wider context than has been usual in university

Lecture II


Most books on the philosophy of religion try to begin with a precise
definition of what its essence consists of.  Some of these would-be
definitions may possibly come before us in later portions of this
course, and I shall not be pedantic enough to enumerate any of them to
you now. Meanwhile the very fact that they are so many and so different
from one another is enough to prove that the word "religion" cannot
stand for any single principle or essence, but is rather a collective
name.  The theorizing mind tends always to the oversimplification of
its materials.  This is the root of all that absolutism and one-sided
dogmatism by which both philosophy and religion have been infested.
Let us not fall immediately into a one-sided view of our subject, but
let us rather admit freely at the outset that we may very likely find
no one essence, but many characters which may alternately be equally
important to religion.  If we should inquire for the essence of
"government," for example, one man might tell us it was authority,
another submission, an other police, another an army, another an
assembly, an other a system of laws; yet all the while it would be true
that no concrete government can exist without all these things, one of
which is more important at one moment and others at another.  The man
who knows governments most completely is he who troubles himself least
about a definition which shall give their essence.  Enjoying an
intimate acquaintance with all their particularities in turn, he would
naturally regard an abstract conception in which these were unified as
a thing more misleading than enlightening.  And why may not religion be
a conception equally complex?[9]

[9]  I can do no better here than refer my readers to the extended and
admirable remarks on the futility of all these definitions of religion,
in an article by Professor Leuba, published in the Monist for January,
1901, after my own text was written.

Consider also the "religious sentiment" which we see referred to in so
many books, as if it were a single sort of mental entity.  In the
psychologies and in the philosophies of religion, we find the authors
attempting to specify just what entity it is.  One man allies it to the
feeling of dependence; one makes it a derivative from fear; others
connect it with the sexual life; others still identify it with the
feeling of the infinite; and so on.  Such different ways of conceiving
it ought of themselves to arouse doubt as to whether it possibly can be
one specific thing; and the moment we are willing to treat the term
"religious sentiment" as a collective name for the many sentiments
which religious objects may arouse in alternation, we see that it
probably contains nothing whatever of a psychologically specific
nature. There is religious fear, religious love, religious awe,
religious joy, and so forth.  But religious love is only man's natural
emotion of love directed to a religious object; religious fear is only
the ordinary fear of commerce, so to speak, the common quaking of the
human breast, in so far as the notion of divine retribution may arouse
it; religious awe is the same organic thrill which we feel in a forest
at twilight, or in a mountain gorge; only this time it comes over us at
the thought of our supernatural relations; and similarly of all the
various sentiments which may be called into play in the lives of
religious persons.  As concrete states of mind, made up of a feeling
PLUS a specific sort of object, religious emotions of course are
psychic entities distinguishable from other concrete emotions; but
there is no ground for assuming a simple abstract "religious emotion"
to exist as a distinct elementary mental affection by itself, present
in every religious experience without exception.

As there thus seems to be no one elementary religious emotion, but only
a common storehouse of emotions upon which religious objects may draw,
so there might conceivably also prove to he no one specific and
essential kind of religious object, and no one specific and essential
kind of religious act.

The field of religion being as wide as this, it is manifestly
impossible that I should pretend to cover it.  My lectures must be
limited to a fraction of the subject.  And, although it would indeed be
foolish to set up an abstract definition of religion's essence, and
then proceed to defend that definition against all comers, yet this
need not prevent me from taking my own narrow view of what religion
shall consist in FOR THE PURPOSE OF THESE LECTURES, or, out of the many
meanings of the word, from choosing the one meaning in which I wish to
interest you particularly, and proclaiming arbitrarily that when I say
"religion" I mean THAT.  This, in fact, is what I must do, and I will
now preliminarily seek to mark out the field I choose.

One way to mark it out easily is to say what aspects of the subject we
leave out.  At the outset we are struck by one great partition which
divides the religious field.  On the one side of it lies institutional,
on the other personal religion. As M. P.  Sabatier says, one branch of
religion keeps the divinity, another keeps man most in view.  Worship
and sacrifice, procedures for working on the dispositions of the deity,
theology and ceremony and ecclesiastical organization, are the
essentials of religion in the institutional branch. Were we to limit
our view to it, we should have to define religion as an external art,
the art of winning the favor of the gods.  In the more personal branch
of religion it is on the contrary the inner dispositions of man himself
which form the center of interest, his conscience, his deserts, his
helplessness, his incompleteness.  And although the favor of the God,
as forfeited or gained, is still an essential feature of the story, and
theology plays a vital part therein, yet the acts to which this sort of
religion prompts are personal not ritual acts, the individual transacts
the business by himself alone, and the ecclesiastical organization,
with its priests and sacraments and other go-betweens, sinks to an
altogether secondary place.  The relation goes direct from heart to
heart, from soul to soul, between man and his maker.

Now in these lectures I propose to ignore the institutional branch
entirely, to say nothing of the ecclesiastical organization, to
consider as little as possible the systematic theology and the ideas
about the gods themselves, and to confine myself as far as I can to
personal religion pure and simple.  To some of you personal religion,
thus nakedly considered, will no doubt seem too incomplete a thing to
wear the general name.  "It is a part of religion," you will say, "but
only its unorganized rudiment; if we are to name it by itself, we had
better call it man's conscience or morality than his religion.  The
name 'religion' should be reserved for the fully organized system of
feeling, thought, and institution, for the Church, in short, of which
this personal religion, so called, is but a fractional element."

But if you say this, it will only show the more plainly how much the
question of definition tends to become a dispute about names.

Rather than prolong such a dispute, I am willing to accept almost any
name for the personal religion of which I propose to treat.  Call it
conscience or morality, if you yourselves prefer, and not
religion--under either name it will be equally worthy of our study.  As
for myself, I think it will prove to contain some elements which
morality pure and simple does not contain, and these elements I shall
soon seek to point out; so I will myself continue to apply the word
"religion" to it; and in the last lecture of all, I will bring in the
theologies and the ecclesiasticisms, and say something of its relation
to them.

In one sense at least the personal religion will prove itself more
fundamental than either theology or ecclesiasticism.  Churches, when
once established, live at second-hand upon tradition; but the FOUNDERS
of every church owed their power originally to the fact of their direct
personal communion with the divine.  Not only the superhuman founders,
the Christ, the Buddha, Mahomet, but all the originators of Christian
sects have been in this case;--so personal religion should still seem
the primordial thing, even to those who continue to esteem it

There are, it is true, other things in religion chronologically more
primordial than personal devoutness in the moral sense.  Fetishism and
magic seem to have preceded inward piety historically--at least our
records of inward piety do not reach back so far.  And if fetishism and
magic be regarded as stages of religion, one may say that personal
religion in the inward sense and the genuinely spiritual
ecclesiasticisms which it founds are phenomena of secondary or even
tertiary order.  But, quite apart from the fact that many
anthropologists--for instance, Jevons and Frazer --expressly oppose
"religion" and "magic" to each other, it is certain that the whole
system of thought which leads to magic, fetishism, and the lower
superstitions may just as well be called primitive science as called
primitive religion. The question thus becomes a verbal one again; and
our knowledge of all these early stages of thought and feeling is in
any case so conjectural and imperfect that farther discussion would not
be worth while.

Religion, therefore, as I now ask you arbitrarily to take it, shall
may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident that out of
religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies, philosophies,
and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow.  In these
lectures, however, as I have already said, the immediate personal
experiences will amply fill our time, and we shall hardly consider
theology or ecclesiasticism at all.

We escape much controversial matter by this arbitrary definition of our
field.  But, still, a chance of controversy comes up over the word
"divine," if we take the definition in too narrow a sense.  There are
systems of thought which the world usually calls religious, and yet
which do not positively assume a God.  Buddhism is in this case.
Popularly, of course, the Buddha himself stands in place of a God; but
in strictness the Buddhistic system is atheistic.  Modern
transcendental idealism, Emersonianism, for instance, also seems to let
God evaporate into abstract Ideality.  Not a deity in concreto, not a
superhuman person, but the immanent divinity in things, the essentially
spiritual structure of the universe, is the object of the
transcendentalist cult.  In that address to the graduating class at
Divinity College in 1838 which made Emerson famous, the frank
expression of this worship of mere abstract laws was what made the
scandal of the performance.

"These laws," said the speaker, "execute themselves.  They are out of
time, out of space, and not subject to circumstance: Thus, in the soul
of man there is a justice whose retributions are instant and entire.
He who does a good deed is instantly ennobled.  He who does a mean deed
is by the action itself contracted.  He who puts off impurity thereby
puts on purity.  If a man is at heart just, then in so far is he God;
the safety of God, the immortality of God, the majesty of God, do enter
into that man with justice.  If a man dissemble, deceive, he deceives
himself, and goes out of acquaintance with his own being.  Character is
always known.  Thefts never enrich; alms never impoverish; murder will
speak out of stone walls.  The least admixture of a lie--for example,
the taint of vanity, any attempt to make a good impression, a favorable
appearance--will instantly vitiate the effect.  But speak the truth,
and all things alive or brute are vouchers, and the very roots of the
grass underground there do seem to stir and move to bear your witness.
For all things proceed out of the same spirit, which is differently
named love, justice, temperance, in its different applications, just as
the ocean receives different names on the several shores which it
washes.  In so far as he roves from these ends, a man bereaves himself
of power, of auxiliaries.  His being shrinks .  .. he becomes less and
less, a mote, a point, until absolute badness is absolute death.  The
perception of this law awakens in the mind a sentiment which we call
the religious sentiment, and which makes our highest happiness.
Wonderful is its power to charm and to command.  It is a mountain air.
It is the embalmer of the world.

It makes the sky and the hills sublime, and the silent song of the
stars is it.  It is the beatitude of man.  It makes him illimitable.
When he says 'I ought'; when love warns him; when he chooses, warned
from on high, the good and great deed; then, deep melodies wander
through his soul from supreme wisdom.  Then he can worship, and be
enlarged by his worship; for he can never go behind this sentiment.
All the expressions of this sentiment are sacred and permanent in
proportion to their purity.  [They] affect us more than all other
compositions. The sentences of the olden time, which ejaculate this
piety, are still fresh and fragrant.  And the unique impression of
Jesus upon mankind, whose name is not so much written as ploughed into
the history of this world, is proof of the subtle virtue of this

[10] Miscellanies, 1868, p. 120 (abridged).

Such is the Emersonian religion.  The universe has a divine soul of
order, which soul is moral, being also the soul within the soul of man.
But whether this soul of the universe be a mere quality like the eye's
brilliancy or the skin's softness, or whether it be a self-conscious
life like the eye's seeing or the skin's feeling, is a decision that
never unmistakably appears in Emerson's pages.  It quivers on the
boundary of these things, sometimes leaning one way sometimes the
other, to suit the literary rather than the philosophic need.  Whatever
it is, though, it is active.  As much as if it were a God, we can trust
it to protect all ideal interests and keep the world's balance
straight.  The sentences in which Emerson, to the very end, gave
utterance to this faith are as fine as anything in literature: "If you
love and serve men, you cannot by any hiding or stratagem escape the
remuneration.  Secret retributions are always restoring the level, when
disturbed, of the divine justice.  It is impossible to tilt the beam.
All the tyrants and proprietors and monopolists of the world in vain
set their shoulders to heave the bar.  Settles forevermore the
ponderous equator to its line, and man and mote, and star and sun, must
range to it, or be pulverized by the recoil."[11]

[11] Lectures and Biographical Sketches, 1868, p. 186.

Now it would be too absurd to say that the inner experiences that
underlie such expressions of faith as this and impel the writer to
their utterance are quite unworthy to be called religious experiences.
The sort of appeal that Emersonian optimism, on the one hand, and
Buddhistic pessimism, on the other, make to the individual and the son
of response which he makes to them in his life are in fact
indistinguishable from, and in many respects identical with, the best
Christian appeal and response.  We must therefore, from the
experiential point of view, call these godless or quasi-godless creeds
"religions"; and accordingly when in our definition of religion we
speak of the individual's relation to "what he considers the divine,"
we must interpret the term "divine" very broadly, as denoting any
object that is god- LIKE, whether it be a concrete deity or not.  But
the term "godlike," if thus treated as a floating general quality,
becomes exceedingly vague, for many gods have flourished in religious
history, and their attributes have been discrepant enough.  What then
is that essentially godlike quality--be it embodied in a concrete deity
or not--our relation to which determines our character as religious
men?  It will repay us to seek some answer to this question before we
proceed farther.

For one thing, gods are conceived to be first things in the way of
being and power.  They overarch and envelop, and from them there is no
escape.  What relates to them is the first and last word in the way of
truth.  Whatever then were most primal and enveloping and deeply true
might at this rate be treated as godlike, and a man's religion might
thus be identified with his attitude, whatever it might be, toward what
he felt to be the primal truth.

Such a definition as this would in a way be defensible. Religion,
whatever it is, is a man's total reaction upon life, so why not say
that any total reaction upon life is a religion? Total reactions are
different from casual reactions, and total attitudes are different from
usual or professional attitudes.  To get at them you must go behind the
foreground of existence and reach down to that curious sense of the
whole residual cosmos as an everlasting presence, intimate or alien,
terrible or amusing, lovable or odious, which in some degree everyone
possesses.  This sense of the world's presence, appealing as it does to
our peculiar individual temperament, makes us either strenuous or
careless, devout or blasphemous, gloomy or exultant, about life at
large; and our reaction, involuntary and inarticulate and often half
unconscious as it is, is the completest of all our answers to the
question, "What is the character of this universe in which we dwell?"
It expresses our individual sense of it in the most definite way.  Why
then not call these reactions our religion, no matter what specific
character they may have?  Non-religious as some of these reactions may
be, in one sense of the word "religious," they yet belong to THE
GENERAL SPHERE OF THE RELIGIOUS LIFE, and so should generically be
classed as religious reactions.  "He believes in No-God, and he
worships him," said a colleague of mine of a student who was
manifesting a fine atheistic ardor; and the more fervent opponents of
Christian doctrine have often enough shown a temper which,
psychologically considered, is indistinguishable from religious zeal.

But so very broad a use of the word "religion" would be inconvenient,
however defensible it might remain on logical grounds.  There are
trifling, sneering attitudes even toward the whole of life; and in some
men these attitudes are final and systematic.  It would strain the
ordinary use of language too much to call such attitudes religious,
even though, from the point of view of an unbiased critical philosophy,
they might conceivably be perfectly reasonable ways of looking upon
life.  Voltaire, for example, writes thus to a friend, at the age of
seventy-three:  "As for myself," he says, "weak as I am, I carry on the
war to the last moment, I get a hundred pike-thrusts, I return two
hundred, and I laugh.  I see near my door Geneva on fire with quarrels
over nothing, and I laugh again; and, thank God, I can look upon the
world as a farce even when it becomes as tragic as it sometimes does.
All comes out even at the end of the day, and all comes out still more
even when all the days are over."

Much as we may admire such a robust old gamecock spirit in a
valetudinarian, to call it a religious spirit would be odd.  Yet it is
for the moment Voltaire's reaction on the whole of life.  Je me'n fiche
is the vulgar French equivalent for our English ejaculation "Who
cares?"   And the happy term je me'n fichisme recently has been
invented to designate the systematic determination not to take anything
in {37} life too solemnly.  "All is vanity" is the relieving word in
all difficult crises for this mode of thought, which that exquisite
literary genius Renan took pleasure, in his later days of sweet decay,
in putting into coquettishly sacrilegious forms which remain to us as
excellent expressions of the "all is vanity" state of mind.  Take the
following passage, for example--we must hold to duty, even against the
evidence, Renan says--but he then goes on:--

"There are many chances that the world may be nothing but a fairy
pantomime of which no God has care.  We must therefore arrange
ourselves so that on neither hypothesis we shall be completely wrong.
We must listen to the superior voices, but in such a way that if the
second hypothesis were true we should not have been too completely
duped.  If in effect the world be not a serious thing, it is the
dogmatic people who will be the shallow ones, and the worldly minded
whom the theologians now call frivolous will be those who are really

"In utrumque paratus, then.  Be ready for anything--that perhaps is
wisdom.  Give ourselves up, according to the hour, to confidence, to
skepticism, to optimism, to irony and we may be sure that at certain
moments at least we shall be with the truth....  Good-humor is a
philosophic state of mind; it seems to say to Nature that we take her
no more seriously than she takes us.  I maintain that one should always
talk of philosophy with a smile.  We owe it to the Eternal to be
virtuous but we have the right to add to this tribute our irony as a
sort of personal reprisal.  In this way we return to the right quarter
jest for jest; we play the trick that has been played on us. Saint
Augustine's phrase:  Lord, if we arc deceived, it is by thee!  remains
a fine one, well suited to our modern feeling.  Only we wish the
Eternal to know that if we accept the fraud, we accept it knowingly and
willingly.  We are resigned in advance to losing the interest on our
investments of virtue, but we wish not to appear ridiculous by having
counted on them too securely."[12]

[12] Feuilles detachees, pp. 394-398 (abridged).

Surely all the usual associations of the word "religion" would have to
be stripped away if such a systematic parti pris of irony were also to
be denoted by the name.  For common men "religion," whatever more
special meanings it may have, signifies always a SERIOUS state of mind.
If any one phrase could gather its universal message, that phrase would
be, "All is not vanity in this Universe, whatever the appearances may
suggest."  If it can stop anything, religion as commonly apprehended
can stop just such chaffing talk as Renan's.  It favors gravity, not
pertness; it says "hush" to all vain chatter and smart wit.

But if hostile to light irony, religion is equally hostile to heavy
grumbling and complaint.  The world appears tragic enough in some
religions, but the tragedy is realized as purging, and a way of
deliverance is held to exist. We shall see enough of the religious
melancholy in a future lecture; but melancholy, according to our
ordinary use of language, forfeits all title to be called religious
when, in Marcus Aurelius's racy words, the sufferer simply lies kicking
and screaming after the fashion of a sacrificed pig.  The mood of a
Schopenhauer or a Nietzsche--and in a less degree one may sometimes say
the same of our own sad Carlyle--though often an ennobling sadness, is
almost as often only peevishness running away with the bit between its
teeth.  The sallies of the two German authors remind one, half the
time, of the sick shriekings of two dying rats.  They lack the
purgatorial note which religious sadness gives forth.

There must be something solemn, serious, and tender about any attitude
which we denominate religious.  If glad, it must not grin or snicker;
if sad, it must not scream or curse.  It is precisely as being SOLEMN
experiences that I wish to interest you in religious experiences.  So I
propose--arbitrarily again, if you please--to narrow our definition
once more by saying that the word "divine," as employed therein, shall
mean for us not merely the primal and enveloping and real, for that
meaning if taken without restriction might prove too broad.  The divine
shall mean for us only such a primal reality as the individual feels
impelled to respond to solemnly and gravely, and neither by a curse nor
a jest.

But solemnity, and gravity, and all such emotional attributes, admit of
various shades; and, do what we will with our defining, the truth must
at last be confronted that we are dealing with a field of experience
where there is not a single conception that can be sharply drawn.  The
pretension, under such conditions, to be rigorously "scientific" or
"exact" in our terms would only stamp us as lacking in understanding of
our task.  Things are more or less divine, states of mind are more or
less religious, reactions are more or less total, but the boundaries
are always misty, and it is everywhere a question of amount and degree.
Nevertheless, at their extreme of development, there can never be any
question as to what experiences are religious.  The divinity of the
object and the solemnity of the reaction are too well marked for doubt.
Hesitation as to whether a state of mind is "religious," or
"irreligious," or "moral," or "philosophical," is only likely to arise
when the state of mind is weakly characterized, but in that case it
will be hardly worthy of our study at all.  With states that can only
by courtesy be called religious we need have nothing to do, our only
profitable business being with what nobody can possibly feel tempted to
call anything else.  I said in my former lecture that we learn most
about a thing when we view it under a microscope, as it were, or in its
most exaggerated form.  This is as true of religious phenomena as of
any other kind of fact.  The only cases likely to be profitable enough
to repay our attention will therefore be cases where the religious
spirit is unmistakable and extreme.  Its fainter manifestations we may
tranquilly pass by.  Here, for example, is the total reaction upon life
of Frederick Locker Lampson, whose autobiography, entitled
"Confidences," proves him to have been a most amiable man.

"I am so far resigned to my lot that I feel small pain at the thought
of having to part from what has been called the pleasant habit of
existence, the sweet fable of life.  I would not care to live my wasted
life over again, and so to prolong my span.  Strange to say, I have but
little wish to be younger.  I submit with a chill at my heart.  I
humbly submit because it is the Divine Will, and my appointed destiny.
I dread the increase of infirmities that will make me a burden to those
around me, those dear to me.  No! let me slip away as quietly and
comfortably as I can.  Let the end come, if peace come with it.

"I do not know that there is a great deal to be said for this world, or
our sojourn here upon it; but it has pleased God so to place us, and it
must please me also.  I ask you, what is human life?  Is not it a
maimed happiness--care and weariness, weariness and care, with the
baseless expectation, the strange cozenage of a brighter to-morrow?  At
best it is but a froward child, that must be played with and humored,
to keep it quiet till it falls asleep, and then the care is over."[13]

[13] Op. cit., pp. 314, 313.

This is a complex, a tender, a submissive, and a graceful state of
mind.  For myself, I should have no objection to calling it on the
whole a religious state of mind, although I dare say that to many of
you it may seem too listless and half-hearted to merit so good a name.
But what matters it in the end whether we call such a state of mind
religious or not?  It is too insignificant for our instruction in any
case; and its very possessor wrote it down in terms which he would not
have used unless he had been thinking of more energetically religious
moods in others, with which he found himself unable to compete.  It is
with these more energetic states that our sole business lies, and we
can perfectly well afford to let the minor notes and the uncertain
border go.  It was the extremer cases that I had in mind a little while
ago when I said that personal religion, even without theology or
ritual, would prove to embody some elements that morality pure and
simple does not contain.  You may remember that I promised shortly to
point out what those elements were.  In a general way I can now say
what I had in mind.

"I accept the universe" is reported to have been a favorite utterance
of our New England transcendentalist, Margaret Fuller; and when some
one repeated this phrase to Thomas Carlyle, his sardonic comment is
said to have been:  "Gad! she'd better!"  At bottom the whole concern
of both morality and religion is with the manner of our acceptance of
the universe.  Do we accept it only in part and grudgingly, or heartily
and altogether?  Shall our protests against certain things in it be
radical and unforgiving, or shall we think that, even with evil, there
are ways of living that must lead to good?  If we accept the whole,
shall we do so as if stunned into submission--as Carlyle would have
us--"Gad! we'd better!"--or shall we do so with enthusiastic assent?
Morality pure and simple accepts the law of the whole which it finds
reigning, so far as to acknowledge and obey it, but it may obey it with
the heaviest and coldest heart, and never cease to feel it as a yoke.
But for religion, in its strong and fully developed manifestations, the
service of the highest never is felt as a yoke.  Dull submission is
left far behind, and a mood of welcome, which may fill any place on the
scale between cheerful serenity and enthusiastic gladness, has taken
its place.

It makes a tremendous emotional and practical difference to one whether
one accept the universe in the drab discolored way of stoic resignation
to necessity, or with the passionate happiness of Christian saints.
The difference is as great as that between passivity and activity, as
that between the defensive and the aggressive mood.  Gradual as are the
steps by which an individual may grow from one state into the other,
many as are the intermediate stages which different individuals
represent, yet when you place the typical extremes beside each other
for comparison, you feel that two discontinuous psychological universes
confront you, and that in passing from one to the other a "critical
point" has been overcome.

If we compare stoic with Christian ejaculations we see much more than a
difference of doctrine; rather is it a difference of emotional mood
that parts them.  When Marcus Aurelius reflects on the eternal reason
that has ordered things, there is a frosty chill about his words which
you rarely find in a Jewish, and never in a Christian piece of
religious writing.  The universe is "accepted" by all these writers;
but how devoid of passion or exultation the spirit of the Roman Emperor
is!  Compare his fine sentence:  "If gods care not for me or my
children, here is a reason for it," with Job's cry:  "Though he slay
me, yet will I trust in him!" and you immediately see the difference I
mean.  The anima mundi, to whose disposal of his own personal destiny
the Stoic consents, is there to be respected and submitted to, but the
Christian God is there to be loved; and the difference of emotional
atmosphere is like that between an arctic climate and the tropics,
though the outcome in the way of accepting actual conditions
uncomplainingly may seem in abstract terms to be much the same.

"It is a man's duty," says Marcus Aurelius, "to comfort himself and
wait for the natural dissolution, and not to be vexed, but to find
refreshment solely in these thoughts--first that nothing will happen to
me which is not conformable to the nature of the universe; and secondly
that I need do nothing contrary to the God and deity within me; for
there is no man who can compel me to transgress.  He is an abscess on
the universe who withdraws and separates himself from the reason of our
common nature, through being displeased with the things which happen.
For the same nature produces these, and has produced thee too.  And so
accept everything which happens, even if it seem disagreeable, because
it leads to this, the health of the universe and to the prosperity and
felicity of Zeus.  For he would not have brought on any man what he has
brought if it were not useful for the whole.  The integrity of the
whole is mutilated if thou cuttest off anything.  And thou dost cut
off, as far as it is in thy power, when thou art dissatisfied, and in a
manner triest to put anything out of the way."[14]

[14] Book V., ch. ix. (abridged).

Compare now this mood with that of the old Christian author of the
Theologia Germanica:--

"Where men are enlightened with the true light, they renounce all
desire and choice, and commit and commend themselves and all things to
the eternal Goodness, so that every enlightened man could say:  'I
would fain be to the Eternal Goodness what his own hand is to a man.'
Such men are in a state of freedom, because they have lost the fear of
pain or hell, and the hope of reward or heaven, and are living in pure
submission to the eternal Goodness, in the perfect freedom of fervent
love.  When a man truly perceiveth and considereth himself, who and
what he is, and findeth himself utterly vile and wicked and unworthy,
he falleth into such a deep abasement that it seemeth to him reasonable
that all creatures in heaven and earth should rise up against him.  And
therefore he will not and dare not desire any consolation and release;
but he is willing to be unconsoled and unreleased; and he doth not
grieve over his sufferings, for they are right in his eyes, and he hath
nothing to say against them.  This is what is meant by true repentance
for sin; and he who in this present time entereth into this hell, none
may console him.  Now God hath not forsaken a man in this hell, but He
is laying his hand upon him, that the man may not desire nor regard
anything but the eternal Good only.  And then, when the man neither
careth for nor desireth anything but the eternal Good alone, and
seeketh not himself nor his own things, but the honour of God only, he
is made a partaker of all manner of joy, bliss, peace, rest, and
consolation, and so the man is henceforth in the kingdom of heaven.
This hell and this heaven are two good safe ways for a man, and happy
is he who truly findeth them."[15]

[15] Chaps. x., xi.  (abridged):  Winkworth's translation.

How much more active and positive the impulse of the Christian writer
to accept his place in the universe is! Marcus Aurelius agrees TO the
scheme--the German theologian agrees WITH it.  He literally ABOUNDS in
agreement, he runs out to embrace the divine decrees.

Occasionally, it is true, the stoic rises to something like a Christian
warmth of sentiment, as in the often quoted passage of Marcus

"Everything harmonizes with me which is harmonious to thee, O Universe.
Nothing for me is too early nor too late, which is in due time for
thee.  Everything is fruit to me which thy seasons bring, O Nature:
from thee are all things, in thee are all things, to thee all things
return.  The poet says, Dear City of Cecrops; and wilt thou not say,
Dear City of Zeus?"[16]

[16] Book IV., 523

But compare even as devout a passage as this with a genuine Christian
outpouring, and it seems a little cold. Turn, for instance, to the
Imitation of Christ:--

"Lord, thou knowest what is best; let this or that be according as thou
wilt.  Give what thou wilt, so much as thou wilt, when thou wilt.  Do
with me as thou knowest best, and as shall be most to thine honour.
Place me where thou wilt, and freely work thy will with me in all
things....  When could it be evil when thou wert near?  I had rather be
poor for thy sake than rich without thee.  I choose rather to be a
pilgrim upon the earth with thee, than without thee to possess heaven.
Where thou art, there is heaven; and where thou art not, behold there
death and hell."[17]

[17] Benham's translation:  Book III., chaps.  xv., lix.  Compare Mary
Moody Emerson:  "Let me be a blot on this fair world, the obscurest the
loneliest sufferer, with one proviso--that I know it is His agency.  I
will love Him though He shed frost and darkness on every way of mine."
R. W. Emerson:  Lectures and Biographical Sketches, p. 188.

It is a good rule in physiology, when we are studying the meaning of an
organ, to ask after its most peculiar and characteristic sort of
performance, and to seek its office in that one of its functions which
no other organ can possibly exert.  Surely the same maxim holds good in
our present quest.  The essence of religious experiences, the thing by
which we finally must judge them, must be that element or quality in
them which we can meet nowhere else.  And such a quality will be of
course most prominent and easy to notice in those religious experiences
which are most one-sided, exaggerated, and intense.

Now when we compare these intenser experiences with the experiences of
tamer minds, so cool and reasonable that we are tempted to call them
philosophical rather than religious, we find a character that is
perfectly distinct.  That character, it seems to me, should be regarded
as the practically important differentia of religion for our purpose;
and just what it is can easily be brought out by comparing the mind of
an abstractly conceived Christian with that of a moralist similarly

A life is manly, stoical, moral, or philosophical, we say, in
proportion as it is less swayed by paltry personal considerations and
more by objective ends that call for energy, even though that energy
bring personal loss and pain.  This is the good side of war, in so far
as it calls for "volunteers."  And for morality life is a war, and the
service of the highest is a sort of cosmic patriotism which also calls
for volunteers.  Even a sick man, unable to be militant outwardly, can
carry on the moral warfare.  He can willfully turn his attention away
from his own future, whether in this world or the next.  He can train
himself to indifference to his present drawbacks and immerse himself in
whatever objective interests still remain accessible.  He can follow
public news, and sympathize with other people's affairs.  He can
cultivate cheerful manners, and be silent about his miseries. He can
contemplate whatever ideal aspects of existence his philosophy is able
to present to him, and practice whatever duties, such as patience,
resignation, trust, his ethical system requires.  Such a man lives on
his loftiest, largest plane.  He is a high-hearted freeman and no
pining slave.  And yet he lacks something which the Christian par
excellence, the mystic and ascetic saint, for example, has in abundant
measure, and which makes of him a human being of an altogether
different denomination.

The Christian also spurns the pinched and mumping sick-room attitude,
and the lives of saints are full of a kind of callousness to diseased
conditions of body which probably no other human records show.  But
whereas the merely moralistic spurning takes an effort of volition, the
Christian spurning is the result of the excitement of a higher kind of
emotion, in the presence of which no exertion of volition is required.
The moralist must hold his breath and keep his muscles tense; and so
long as this athletic attitude is possible all goes well--morality
suffices.  But the athletic attitude tends ever to break down, and it
inevitably does break down even in the most stalwart when the organism
begins to decay, or when morbid fears invade the mind.  To suggest
personal will and effort to one all sicklied o'er with the sense of
irremediable impotence is to suggest the most impossible of things.
What he craves is to be consoled in his very powerlessness, to feel
that the spirit of the universe {47} recognizes and secures him, all
decaying and failing as he is.  Well, we are all such helpless failures
in the last resort.  The sanest and best of us are of one clay with
lunatics and prison inmates, and death finally runs the robustest of us
down.  And whenever we feel this, such a sense of the vanity and
provisionality of our voluntary career comes over us that all our
morality appears but as a plaster hiding a sore it can never cure, and
all our well-doing as the hollowest substitute for that well-BEING that
our lives ought to be grounded in, but, alas! are not.

And here religion comes to our rescue and takes our fate into her
hands.  There is a state of mind, known to religious men, but to no
others, in which the will to assert ourselves and hold our own has been
displaced by a willingness to close our mouths and be as nothing in the
floods and waterspouts of God.  In this state of mind, what we most
dreaded has become the habitation of our safety, and the hour of our
moral death has turned into our spiritual birthday.  The time for
tension in our soul is over, and that of happy relaxation, of calm deep
breathing, of an eternal present, with no discordant future to be
anxious about, has arrived.  Fear is not held in abeyance as it is by
mere morality, it is positively expunged and washed away.

We shall see abundant examples of this happy state of mind in later
lectures of this course.  We shall see how infinitely passionate a
thing religion at its highest flights can be.  Like love, like wrath,
like hope, ambition, jealousy, like every other instinctive eagerness
and impulse, it adds to life an enchantment which is not rationally or
logically deducible from anything else.  This enchantment, coming as a
gift when it does come--a gift of our organism, the physiologists will
tell us, a gift of God's grace, the theologians say --is either there
or not there for us, and there are persons who can no more become
possessed by it than they can fall in love with a given woman by mere
word of command.  Religious feeling is thus an absolute addition to the
Subject's range of life.  It gives him a new sphere of power.  When the
outward battle is lost, and the outer world disowns him, it redeems and
vivifies an interior world which otherwise would be an empty waste.

If religion is to mean anything definite for us, it seems to me that we
ought to take it as meaning this added dimension of emotion, this
enthusiastic temper of espousal, in regions where morality strictly so
called can at best but bow its head and acquiesce.  It ought to mean
nothing short of this new reach of freedom for us, with the struggle
over, the keynote of the universe sounding in our ears, and everlasting
possession spread before our eyes.[18]

[18] Once more, there are plenty of men, constitutionally sombre men,
in whose religious life this rapturousness is lacking.  They are
religious in the wider sense, yet in this acutest of all senses they
are not so, and it is religion in the acutest sense that I wish,
without disputing about words, to study first, so as to get at its
typical differentia.

This sort of happiness in the absolute and everlasting is what we find
nowhere but in religion.  It is parted off from all mere animal
happiness, all mere enjoyment of the present, by that element of
solemnity of which I have already made so much account.  Solemnity is a
hard thing to define abstractly, but certain of its marks are patent
enough. A solemn state of mind is never crude or simple--it seems to
contain a certain measure of its own opposite in solution. A solemn joy
preserves a sort of bitter in its sweetness; a solemn sorrow is one to
which we intimately consent.  But there are writers who, realizing that
happiness of a supreme sort is the prerogative of religion, forget this
complication, and call all happiness, as such, religious.  Mr. Havelock
Ellis, for example, identifies religion with the entire field of the
soul's liberation from oppressive moods.

"The simplest functions of physiological life," he writes may be its
ministers.  Every one who is at all acquainted with the Persian mystics
knows how wine may be regarded as an instrument of religion.  Indeed,
in all countries and in all ages some form of physical
enlargement--singing, dancing, drinking, sexual excitement--has been
intimately associated with worship. Even the momentary expansion of the
soul in laughter is, to however slight an extent, a religious
exercise.... Whenever an impulse from the world strikes against the
organism, and the resultant is not discomfort or pain, not even the
muscular contraction of strenuous manhood, but a joyous expansion or
aspiration of the whole soul--there is religion. It is the infinite for
which we hunger, and we ride gladly on every little wave that promises
to bear us towards it."[19]

[19] The New Spirit, p. 232.

But such a straight identification of religion with any and every form
of happiness leaves the essential peculiarity of religious happiness
out.  The more commonplace happinesses which we get are "reliefs,"
occasioned by our momentary escapes from evils either experienced or
threatened. But in its most characteristic embodiments, religious
happiness is no mere feeling of escape.  It cares no longer to escape.
It consents to the evil outwardly as a form of sacrifice--inwardly it
knows it to be permanently overcome. If you ask HOW religion thus falls
on the thorns and faces death, and in the very act annuls annihilation,
I cannot explain the matter, for it is religion's secret, and to
understand it you must yourself have been a religious man of the
extremer type.  In our future examples, even of the simplest and
healthiest-minded type of religious consciousness, we shall find this
complex sacrificial constitution, in which a higher happiness holds a
lower unhappiness in check.  In the Louvre there is a picture, by Guido
Reni, of St. Michael with his foot on Satan's neck.  The richness of
the picture is in large part due to the fiend's figure being there.
The richness of its allegorical meaning also is due to his being
there--that is, the world is all the richer for having a devil in it,
consciousness, that is just the position in which the fiend, the
negative or tragic principle, is found; and for that very reason the
religious consciousness is so rich from the emotional point of
view.[20]  We shall see how in certain men and women it takes on a
monstrously ascetic form.  There are saints who have literally fed on
the negative principle, on humiliation and privation, and the thought
of suffering and death--their souls growing in happiness just in
proportion as their outward state grew more intolerable.  No other
emotion than religious emotion can bring a man to this peculiar pass.
And it is for that reason that when we ask our question about the value
of religion for human life, I think we ought to look for the answer
among these violenter examples rather than among those of a more
moderate hue.

[20] I owe this allegorical illustration to my lamented colleague and
Friend, Charles Carroll Everett.

Having the phenomenon of our study in its acutest possible form to
start with, we can shade down as much as we please later.  And if in
these cases, repulsive as they are to our ordinary worldly way of
judging, we find ourselves compelled to acknowledge religion's value
and treat it with respect, it will have proved in some way its value
for life at large.  By subtracting and toning down extravagances we may
thereupon proceed to trace the boundaries of its legitimate sway.

To be sure, it makes our task difficult to have to deal so muck with
eccentricities and extremes.  "How CAN religion on the whole be the
most important of all human functions," you may ask, "if every several
manifestation of it in turn have to be corrected and sobered down and
pruned away?"

Such a thesis seems a paradox impossible to sustain reasonably--yet I
believe that something like it will have to be our final contention.
That personal attitude which the individual finds himself impelled to
take up towards what he apprehends to be the divine--and you will
remember that this was our definition--will prove to be both a helpless
and a sacrificial attitude.  That is, we shall have to confess to at
least some amount of dependence on sheer mercy, and to practice some
amount of renunciation, great or small, to save our souls alive.  The
constitution of the world we live in requires it:--

          "Entbehren sollst du! sollst entbehren!
           Das ist der ewige Gesang
           Der jedem an die Ohren klingt,
           Den, unser ganzes Leben lang
           Uns heiser jede Stunde singt."

For when all is said and done, we are in the end absolutely dependent
on the universe; and into sacrifices and surrenders of some sort,
deliberately looked at and accepted, we are drawn and pressed as into
our only permanent positions of repose.  Now in those states of mind
which fall short of religion, the surrender is submitted to as an
imposition of necessity, and the sacrifice is undergone at the very
best without complaint.  In the religious life, on the contrary,
surrender and sacrifice are positively espoused:  even unnecessary
givings-up are added in order that the happiness may increase.
Religion thus makes easy and felicitous what in any case is necessary;
and if it be the only agency that can accomplish this result, its vital
importance as a human faculty stands vindicated beyond dispute.  It
becomes an essential organ of our life, performing a function which no
other portion of our nature can so successfully fulfill.  From the
merely biological point of view, so to call it, this is a conclusion to
which, so far as I can now see, we shall inevitably be led, and led
moreover by following the purely empirical method of demonstration
which I sketched to you in the first lecture.  Of the farther office of
religion as a metaphysical revelation I will say nothing now.

But to foreshadow the terminus of one's investigations is one thing,
and to arrive there safely is another.  In the next lecture, abandoning
the extreme generalities which have engrossed us hitherto, I propose
that we begin our actual journey by addressing ourselves directly to
the concrete facts.

Lecture III


Were one asked to characterize the life of religion in the broadest and
most general terms possible, one might say that it consists of the
belief that there is an unseen order, and that our supreme good lies in
harmoniously adjusting ourselves thereto.  This belief and this
adjustment are the religious attitude in the soul.  I wish during this
hour to call your attention to some of the psychological peculiarities
of such an attitude as this, or belief in an object which we cannot
see.  All our attitudes, moral, practical, or emotional, as well as
religious, are due to the "objects" of our consciousness, the things
which we believe to exist, whether really or ideally, along with
ourselves.  Such objects may be present to our senses, or they may be
present only to our thought.  In either case they elicit from us a
REACTION; and the reaction due to things of thought is notoriously in
many cases as strong as that due to sensible presences.  It may be even
stronger.  The memory of an insult may make us angrier than the insult
did when we received it.  We are frequently more ashamed of our
blunders afterwards than we were at the moment of making them; and in
general our whole higher prudential and moral life is based on the fact
that material sensations actually present may have a weaker influence
on our action than ideas of remoter facts.

The more concrete objects of most men's religion, the deities whom they
worship, are known to them only in idea.  It has been vouchsafed, for
example, to very few Christian believers to have had a sensible vision
of their Saviour; though enough appearances of this sort are on record,
by way of miraculous exception, to merit our attention later.  The
whole force of the Christian religion, therefore, so far as belief in
the divine personages determines the prevalent attitude of the
believer, is in general exerted by the instrumentality of pure ideas,
of which nothing in the individual's past experience directly serves as
a model.

But in addition to these ideas of the more concrete religious objects,
religion is full of abstract objects which prove to have an equal
power.  God's attributes as such, his holiness, his justice, his mercy,
his absoluteness, his infinity, his omniscience, his tri-unity, the
various mysteries of the redemptive process, the operation of the
sacraments, etc., have proved fertile wells of inspiring meditation for
Christian believers.[21] We shall see later that the absence of
definite sensible images is positively insisted on by the mystical
authorities in all religions as the sine qua non of a successful
orison, or contemplation of the higher divine truths. Such
contemplations are expected (and abundantly verify the expectation, as
we shall also see) to influence the believer's subsequent attitude very
powerfully for good.

[21] Example:  "I have had much comfort lately in meditating on the
passages which show the personality of the Holy Ghost, and his
distinctness from the Father and the Son.  It is a subject that
requires searching into to find out, but, when realized, gives one so
much more true and lively a sense of the fullness of the Godhead, and
its work in us and to us, than when only thinking of the Spirit in its
effect on us."  Augustus Hare: Memorials, i. 244, Maria Hare to Lucy H.

Immanuel Kant held a curious doctrine about such objects of belief as
God, the design of creation, the soul, its freedom, and the life
hereafter.  These things, he said, are properly not objects of
knowledge at all.  Our conceptions always require a sense-content to
work with, and as the words soul,"  "God," "immortality," cover no
distinctive sense-content whatever, it follows that theoretically
speaking they are words devoid of any significance.  Yet strangely
enough they have a definite meaning FOR OUR PRACTICE.  We can act AS IF
there were a God; feel AS IF we were free; consider Nature AS IF she
were full of special designs; lay plans AS IF we were to be immortal;
and we find then that these words do make a genuine difference in our
moral life.  Our faith THAT these unintelligible objects actually exist
proves thus to be a full equivalent in praktischer Hinsicht, as Kant
calls it, or from the point of view of our action, for a knowledge of
WHAT they might be, in case we were permitted positively to conceive
them.  So we have the strange phenomenon, as Kant assures us, of a mind
believing with all its strength in the real presence of a set of things
of no one of which it can form any notion whatsoever.

My object in thus recalling Kant's doctrine to your mind is not to
express any opinion as to the accuracy of this particularly uncouth
part of his philosophy, but only to illustrate the characteristic of
human nature which we are considering, by an example so classical in
its exaggeration.  The sentiment of reality can indeed attach itself so
strongly to our object of belief that our whole life is polarized
through and through, so to speak, by its sense of the existence of the
thing believed in, and yet that thing, for purpose of definite
description, can hardly be said to be present to our mind at all.  It
is as if a bar of iron, without touch or sight, with no representative
faculty whatever, might nevertheless be strongly endowed with an inner
capacity for magnetic feeling; and as if, through the various arousals
of its magnetism by magnets coming and going in its neighborhood, it
might be consciously determined to different attitudes and tendencies.
Such a bar of iron could never give you an outward description of the
agencies that had the power of stirring it so strongly; yet of their
presence, and of their significance for its life, it would be intensely
aware through every fibre of its being.

It is not only the Ideas of pure Reason as Kant styled them, that have
this power of making us vitally feel presences that we are impotent
articulately to describe.  All sorts of higher abstractions bring with
them the same kind of impalpable appeal.  Remember those passages from
Emerson which I read at my last lecture.  The whole universe of
concrete objects, as we know them, swims, not only for such a
transcendentalist writer, but for all of us, in a wider and higher
universe of abstract ideas, that lend it its significance.  As time,
space, and the ether soak through all things so (we feel) do abstract
and essential goodness, beauty, strength, significance, justice, soak
through all things good, strong, significant, and just.

Such ideas, and others equally abstract, form the background for all
our facts, the fountain-head of all the possibilities we conceive of.
They give its "nature," as we call it, to every special thing.
Everything we know is "what" it is by sharing in the nature of one of
these abstractions.  We can never look directly at them, for they are
bodiless and featureless and footless, but we grasp all other things by
their means, and in handling the real world we should be stricken with
helplessness in just so far forth as we might lose these mental
objects, these adjectives and adverbs and predicates and heads of
classification and conception.

This absolute determinability of our mind by abstractions is one of the
cardinal facts in our human constitution. Polarizing and magnetizing us
as they do, we turn towards them and from them, we seek them, hold
them, hate them, bless them, just as if they were so many concrete
beings. And beings they are, beings as real in the realm which they
inhabit as the changing things of sense are in the realm of space.

Plato gave so brilliant and impressive a defense of this common human
feeling, that the doctrine of the reality of abstract objects has been
known as the platonic theory of ideas ever since.  Abstract Beauty, for
example, is for Plato a perfectly definite individual being, of which
the intellect is aware as of something additional to all the perishing
beauties of the earth.  "The true order of going," he says, in the
often quoted passage in his "Banquet," "is to use the beauties of earth
as steps along which one mounts upwards for the sake of that other
Beauty, going from one to two, and from two to all fair forms, and from
fair forms to fair actions, and from fair actions to fair notions,
until from fair notions, he arrives at the notion of absolute Beauty,
and at last knows what the essence of Beauty is."[22]  In our last
lecture we had a glimpse of the way in which a platonizing writer like
Emerson may treat the abstract divineness of things, the moral
structure of the universe, as a fact worthy of worship.  In those
various churches without a God which to-day are spreading through the
world under the name of ethical societies, we have a similar worship of
the abstract divine, the moral law believed in as an ultimate object.
"Science" in many minds is genuinely taking the place of a religion.
Where this is so, the scientist treats the "Laws of Nature" as
objective facts to be revered.  A brilliant school of interpretation of
Greek mythology would have it that in their origin the Greek gods were
only half-metaphoric personifications of those great spheres of
abstract law and order into which the natural world falls apart--the
sky-sphere, the ocean-sphere, the earth-sphere, and the like; just as
even now we may speak of the smile of the morning, the kiss of the
breeze, or the bite of the cold, without really meaning that these
phenomena of nature actually wear a human face.[23]

[22] Symposium, Jowett, 1871, i.  527.

[23] Example:  "Nature is always so interesting, under whatever aspect
she shows herself, that when it rains, I seem to see a beautiful woman
weeping.  She appears the more beautiful, the more afflicted she is."
B. de St. Pierre.

As regards the origin of the Greek gods, we need not at present seek an
opinion.  But the whole array of our instances leads to a conclusion
something like this:  It is as if there were in the human consciousness
a sense of reality, a feeling of objective presence, a perception of
what we may call "something there," more deep and more general than any
of the special and particular "senses" by which the current psychology
supposes existent realities to be originally revealed.  If this were
so, we might suppose the senses to waken our attitudes and conduct as
they so habitually do, by first exciting this sense of reality; but
anything else, any idea, for example, that might similarly excite it,
would have that same prerogative of appearing real which objects of
sense normally possess.  So far as religious conceptions were able to
touch this reality-feeling, they would be believed in in spite of
criticism, even though they might be so vague and remote as to be
almost unimaginable, even though they might be such non-entities in
point of WHATNESS, as Kant makes the objects of his moral theology to

The most curious proofs of the existence of such an undifferentiated
sense of reality as this are found in experiences of hallucination.  It
often happens that an hallucination is imperfectly developed:  the
person affected will feel a "presence" in the room, definitely
localized, facing in one particular way, real in the most emphatic
sense of the word, often coming suddenly, and as suddenly gone; and yet
neither seen, heard, touched, nor cognized in any of the usual
"sensible" ways.  Let me give you an example of this, before I pass to
the objects with whose presence religion is more peculiarly concerned.

An intimate friend of mine, one of the keenest intellects I know, has
had several experiences of this sort.  He writes as follows in response
to my inquiries:--{59}

"I have several times within the past few years felt the so- called
'consciousness of a presence.'  The experiences which I have in mind
are clearly distinguishable from another kind of experience which I
have had very frequently, and which I fancy many persons would also
call the 'consciousness of a presence.' But the difference for me
between the two sets of experience is as great as the difference
between feeling a slight warmth originating I know not where, and
standing in the midst of a conflagration with all the ordinary senses

"It was about September, 1884, when I had the first experience.  On the
previous night I had had, after getting into bed at my rooms in
College, a vivid tactile hallucination of being grasped by the arm,
which made me get up and search the room for an intruder; but the sense
of presence properly so called came on the next night.  After I had got
into bed and blown out the candle, I lay awake awhile thinking on the
previous night's experience, when suddenly I FELT something come into
the room and stay close to my bed.  It remained only a minute or two.
I did not recognize it by any ordinary sense and yet there was a
horribly unpleasant 'sensation' connected with it.  It stirred
something more at the roots of my being than any ordinary perception.
The feeling had something of the quality of a very large tearing vital
pain spreading chiefly over the chest, but within the organism--and yet
the feeling was not PAIN so much as ABHORRENCE.  At all events,
something was present with me, and I knew its presence far more surely
than I have ever known the presence of any fleshly living creature.  I
was conscious of its departure as of its coming:  an almost
instantaneously swift going through the door, and the 'horrible
sensation' disappeared.

"On the third night when I retired my mind was absorbed in some
lectures which I was preparing, and I was still absorbed in these when
I became aware of the actual presence (though not of the COMING) of the
thing that was there the night before, and of the 'horrible sensation.'
I then mentally concentrated all my effort to charge this 'thing,' if
it was evil to depart, if it was NOT evil, to tell me who or what it
was, and if it could not explain itself, to go, and that I would compel
it {60} to go.  It went as on the previous night, and my body quickly
recovered its normal state.

"On two other occasions in my life I have had precisely the same
'horrible sensation.'  Once it lasted a full quarter of an hour.  In
all three instances the certainty that there in outward space there
stood SOMETHING was indescribably STRONGER than the ordinary certainty
of companionship when we are in the close presence of ordinary living
people.  The something seemed close to me, and intensely more real than
any ordinary perception.  Although I felt it to be like unto myself so
to speak, or finite, small, and distressful, as it were, I didn't
recognize it as any individual being or person."

Of course such an experience as this does not connect itself with the
religious sphere.  Yet it may upon occasion do so; and the same
correspondent informs me that at more than one other conjuncture he had
the sense of presence developed with equal intensity and abruptness,
only then it was filled with a quality of joy.

"There was not a mere consciousness of something there, but fused in
the central happiness of it, a startling awareness of some ineffable
good.  Not vague either, not like the emotional effect of some poem, or
scene, or blossom, of music, but the sure knowledge of the close
presence of a sort of mighty person, and after it went, the memory
persisted as the one perception of reality.  Everything else might be a
dream, but not that."

My friend, as it oddly happens, does not interpret these latter
experiences theistically, as signifying the presence of God.  But it
would clearly not have been unnatural to interpret them as a revelation
of the deity's existence.  When we reach the subject of mysticism, we
shall have much more to say upon this head.

Lest the oddity of these phenomena should disconcert you, I will
venture to read you a couple of similar narratives, much shorter,
merely to show that we are dealing with a well-marked natural kind of
fact.  In the first case, which I {61} take from the Journal of the
Society for Psychical Research, the sense of presence developed in a
few moments into a distinctly visualized hallucination--but I leave
that part of the story out.

"I had read," the narrator says, "some twenty minutes or so, was
thoroughly absorbed in the book, my mind was perfectly quiet, and for
the time being my friends were quite forgotten, when suddenly without a
moment's warning my whole being seemed roused to the highest state of
tension or aliveness, and I was aware, with an intenseness not easily
imagined by those who had never experienced it, that another being or
presence was not only in the room, but quite close to me.  I put my
book down, and although my excitement was great, I felt quite
collected, and not conscious of any sense of fear.  Without changing my
position, and looking straight at the fire, I knew somehow that my
friend A. H. was standing at my left elbow but so far behind me as to
be hidden by the armchair in which I was leaning back.  Moving my eyes
round slightly without otherwise changing my position, the lower
portion of one leg became visible, and I instantly recognized the
gray-blue material of trousers he often wore, but the stuff appeared
semitransparent, reminding me of tobacco smoke in consistency,"[24]--
and hereupon the visual hallucination came.

[24] Journal of the S. P. R., February, 1895, p. 26.

Another informant writes:--

"Quite early in the night I was awakened.... I felt as if I had been
aroused intentionally, and at first thought some one was breaking into
the house.... I then turned on my side to go to sleep again, and
immediately felt a consciousness of a presence in the room, and
singular to state, it was not the consciousness of a live person, but
of a spiritual presence.  This may provoke a smile, but I can only tell
you the facts as they occurred to me.  I do not know how to better
describe my sensations than by simply stating that I felt a
consciousness of a spiritual presence....  I felt also at the same time
a strong feeling of superstitious dread, as if something strange and
fearful were about to happen."[25]

[25] E. Gurney:  Phantasms of the Living, i. 384.

Professor Flournoy of Geneva gives me the following testimony of a
friend of his, a lady, who has the gift of automatic or involuntary

"Whenever I practice automatic writing, what makes me feel that it is
not due to a subconscious self is the feeling I always have of a
foreign presence, external to my body.  It is sometimes so definitely
characterized that I could point to its exact position.  This
impression of presence is impossible to describe.  It varies in
intensity and clearness according to the personality from whom the
writing professes to come.  If it is some one whom I love, I feel it
immediately, before any writing has come.  My heart seems to recognize

In an earlier book of mine I have cited at full length a curious case
of presence felt by a blind man.  The presence was that of the figure
of a gray-bearded man dressed in a pepper and salt suit, squeezing
himself under the crack of the door and moving across the floor of the
room towards a sofa.  The blind subject of this quasi-hallucination is
an exceptionally intelligent reporter.  He is entirely without internal
visual imagery and cannot represent light or colors to himself, and is
positive that his other senses, hearing, etc., were not involved in
this false perception.  It seems to have been an abstract conception
rather, with the feelings of reality and spatial outwardness directly
attached to it--in other words, a fully objectified and exteriorized

Such cases, taken along with others which would be too tedious for
quotation, seem sufficiently to prove the existence in our mental
machinery of a sense of present reality more diffused and general than
that which our special senses yield.  For the psychologists the tracing
of the organic seat of such a feeling would form a pretty
problem--nothing could be more natural than to connect it with the
muscular sense, with the feeling that our muscles were innervating
themselves for action.  Whatsoever thus innervated our activity, or
"made our flesh creep"--our senses are what do so oftenest--might then
appear real and present, even though it were but an abstract idea.  But
with such vague conjectures we have no concern at present, for our
interest lies with the faculty rather than with its organic seat.

Like all positive affections of consciousness, the sense of reality has
its negative counterpart in the shape of a feeling of unreality by
which persons may be haunted, and of which one sometimes hears

"When I reflect on the fact that I have made my appearance by accident
upon a globe itself whirled through space as the sport of the
catastrophes of the heavens," says Madame Ackermann; "when I see myself
surrounded by beings as ephemeral and incomprehensible as I am myself,
and all excitedly pursuing pure chimeras, I experience a strange
feeling of being in a dream.  It seems to me as if I have loved and
suffered and that erelong I shall die, in a dream.  My last word will
be, 'I have been dreaming.'"[26]

[26] Pensees d'un Solitaire, p. 66.

In another lecture we shall see how in morbid melancholy this sense of
the unreality of things may become a carking pain, and even lead to

We may now lay it down as certain that in the distinctively religious
sphere of experience, many persons (how many we cannot tell) possess
the objects of their belief, not in the form of mere conceptions which
their intellect accepts as true, but rather in the form of
quasi-sensible realities directly apprehended.  As his sense of the
real presence of these objects fluctuates, so the believer alternates
between warmth and coldness in his faith.  Other examples will bring
this home to one better than abstract description, so I proceed
immediately to cite some.  The first example is a negative one,
deploring the loss of the sense in question.  I have extracted it from
an account given me by a scientific man of my acquaintance, of his
religious life.  It seems to me to show clearly that the feeling of
reality may be something more like a sensation than an intellectual
operation properly so-called.

"Between twenty and thirty I gradually became more and more agnostic
and irreligious, yet I cannot say that I ever lost that 'indefinite
consciousness' which Herbert Spencer describes so well, of an Absolute
Reality behind phenomena.  For me this Reality was not the pure
Unknowable of Spencer's philosophy, for although I had ceased my
childish prayers to God, and never prayed to IT in a formal manner, yet
my more recent experience shows me to have been in a relation to IT
which practically was the same thing as prayer.  Whenever I had any
trouble, especially when I had conflict with other people, either
domestically or in the way of business, or when I was depressed in
spirits or anxious about affairs, I now recognize that I used to fall
back for support upon this curious relation I felt myself to be in to
this fundamental cosmical IT.  It was on my side, or I was on Its side,
however you please to term it, in the particular trouble, and it always
strengthened me and seemed to give me endless vitality to feel its
underlying and supporting presence.  In fact, it was an unfailing
fountain of living justice, truth, and strength, to which I
instinctively turned at times of weakness, and it always brought me
out.  I know now that it was a personal relation I was in to it,
because of late years the power of communicating with it has left me,
and I am conscious of a perfectly definite loss.  I used never to fail
to find it when I turned to it.  Then came a set of years when
sometimes I found it, and then again I would be wholly unable to make
connection with it.  I remember many occasions on which at night in
bed, I would be unable to get to sleep on account of worry.  I turned
this way and that in the darkness, and groped mentally for the familiar
sense of that higher mind of my mind which had always seemed to be
close at hand as it were, closing the passage, and yielding support,
but there was no electric current.  A blank was there instead of IT:  I
couldn't find anything.  Now, at the age of nearly fifty, my power of
getting into connection with it has entirely left me; and I have to
confess that a great help has gone out of my life.  Life has become
curiously dead and {65} indifferent; and I can now see that my old
experience was probably exactly the same thing as the prayers of the
orthodox, only I did not call them by that name.  What I have spoken of
as 'It' was practically not Spencer's Unknowable, but just my own
instinctive and individual God, whom I relied upon for higher sympathy,
but whom somehow I have lost."

Nothing is more common in the pages of religious biography than the way
in which seasons of lively and of difficult faith are described as
alternating.  Probably every religious person has the recollection of
particular crisis in which a directer vision of the truth, a direct
perception, perhaps, of a living God's existence, swept in and
overwhelmed the languor of the more ordinary belief.  In James Russell
Lowell's correspondence there is a brief memorandum of an experience of
this kind:--

"I had a revelation last Friday evening.  I was at Mary's, and
happening to say something of the presence of spirits (of whom, I said,
I was often dimly aware), Mr. Putnam entered into an argument with me
on spiritual matters.  As I was speaking, the whole system rose up
before me like a vague destiny looming from the Abyss.  I never before
so clearly felt the Spirit of God in me and around rue.  The whole room
seemed to me full of God.  The air seemed to waver to and fro with the
presence of Something I knew not what.  I spoke with the calmness and
clearness of a prophet.  I cannot tell you what this revelation was.  I
have not yet studied it enough.  But I shall perfect it one day, and
then you shall hear it and acknowledge its grandeur."[27]

[27] Letters of Lowell, i. 75.

{66} Here is a longer and more developed experience from a manuscript
communication by a clergyman--I take it from Starbuck's manuscript

"I remember the night, and almost the very spot on the hill-top, where
my soul opened out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was a
rushing together of the two worlds, the inner and the outer.  It was
deep calling unto deep--the deep that my own struggle had opened up
within being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond
the stars.  I stood alone with Him who had made me, and all the beauty
of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even temptation.  I did not
seek Him, but felt the perfect unison of my spirit with His.  The
ordinary sense of things around me faded.  For the moment nothing but
an ineffable joy and exultation remained.  It is impossible fully to
describe the experience.  It was like the effect of some great
orchestra when all the separate notes have melted into one swelling
harmony that leaves the listener conscious of nothing save that his
soul is being wafted upwards, and almost bursting with its own emotion.
The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by a more solemn
silence.  The darkness held a presence that was all the more felt
because it was not seen.  I could not any more have doubted that HE was
there than that I was.  Indeed, I felt myself to be, if possible, the
less real of the two.

"My highest faith in God and truest idea of him were then born in me.
I have stood upon the Mount of Vision since, and felt the Eternal round
about me.  But never since has there come quite the same stirring of
the heart.  Then, if ever, I believe, I stood face to face with God,
and was born anew of his spirit. There was, as I recall it, no sudden
change of thought or of belief, except that my early crude conception,
had, as it were burst into flower.  There was no destruction of the
old, but a rapid, wonderful unfolding.  Since that time no discussion
that I have heard of the proofs of God's existence has been able to
shake my faith.  Having once felt the presence of God's spirit, I have
never lost it again for long.  My most assuring evidence of his
existence is deeply rooted in that hour of vision in the memory of that
supreme experience, and in the conviction, gained from reading and
reflection, that something the same has come to all who have found God.
I am aware that it may justly be called mystical.  I am not enough
acquainted with philosophy to defend it from that or any other charge.
I feel that in writing of it I have overlaid it with words rather than
put it clearly to your thought.  But, such as it is, I have described
it as carefully as I now am able to do."

Here is another document, even more definite in character, which, the
writer being a Swiss, I translate from the French original.[28]

[28] I borrow it, with Professor Flournoy's permission, from his rich
collection of psychological documents.

"I was in perfect health:  we were on our sixth day of tramping, and in
good training.  We had come the day before from Sixt to Trient by Buet.
I felt neither fatigue, hunger, nor thirst, and my state of mind was
equally healthy.  I had had at Forlaz good news from home; I was
subject to no anxiety, either near or remote, for we had a good guide,
and there was not a shadow of uncertainty about the road we should
follow.  I can best describe the condition in which I was by calling it
a state of equilibrium.  When all at once I experienced a feeling of
being raised above myself, I felt the presence of God--I tell of the
thing just as I was conscious of it--as if his goodness and his power
were penetrating me altogether.  The throb of emotion was so violent
that I could barely tell the boys to pass on and not wait for me.  I
then sat down on a stone, unable to stand any longer, and my eyes
overflowed with tears.  I thanked God that in the course of my life he
had taught me to know him, that he sustained my life and took pity both
on the insignificant creature and on the sinner that I was.  I begged
him ardently that my life might be consecrated to the doing of his
will.  I felt his reply, which was that I should do his will from day
to day in humility and poverty, leaving him, the Almighty God, to be
judge of whether I should some time be called to bear witness more
conspicuously.  Then, slowly, the ecstasy left my heart; that is, I
felt that God had withdrawn the communion which he had granted, and I
was able to walk on, but very slowly, so strongly was I still possessed
by the interior emotion. Besides, I had wept uninterruptedly for
several minutes, my eyes were swollen, and I did not wish my companions
to see me.  The state of ecstasy may have lasted four or five minutes,
although it seemed at the time to last much longer.  My comrades waited
for me ten minutes at the cross of Barine, but I took about twenty-five
or thirty minutes to join them, for as well as I can remember, they
said that I had kept them back for about half an hour.  The impression
had been so profound that in climbing slowly the slope I asked myself
if it were possible that Moses on Sinai could have had a more intimate
communication with God.  I think it well to add that in this ecstasy of
mine God had neither form, color, odor, nor taste; moreover, that the
feeling of his presence was accompanied with no determinate
localization. It was rather as if my personality had been transformed
by the presence of a SPIRITUAL SPIRIT.  But the more I seek words to
express this intimate intercourse, the more I feel the impossibility of
describing the thing by any of our usual images.  At bottom the
expression most apt to render what I felt is this:  God was present,
though invisible; he fell under no one of my senses, yet my
consciousness perceived him."

The adjective "mystical" is technically applied, most often. to states
that are of brief duration.  Of course such hours of rapture as the
last two persons describe are mystical experiences, of which in a later
lecture I shall have much to say.  Meanwhile here is the abridged
record of another mystical or semi-mystical experience, in a mind
evidently framed by nature for ardent piety.  I owe it to Starbuck's
collection.  The lady who gives the account is the daughter of a man
well known in his time as a writer against Christianity.  The
suddenness of her conversion shows well how native the sense of God's
presence must be to certain minds.  She relates that she was brought up
in entire ignorance of Christian doctrine, but, when in Germany, after
being talked to by Christian friends, she read the Bible and prayed,
and finally the plan of salvation flashed upon her like a stream of

{69} "To this day," she writes, "I cannot understand dallying with
religion and the commands of God.  The very instant I heard my Father's
cry calling unto me, my heart bounded in recognition.

I ran, I stretched forth my arms, I cried aloud, 'Here, here I am, my
Father.' Oh, happy child, what should I do?  'Love me,' answered my
God.  'I do, I do,' I cried passionately. 'Come unto me,' called my
Father.  'I will,' my heart panted.  Did I stop to ask a single
question?  Not one.  It never occurred to me to ask whether I was good
enough, or to hesitate over my unfitness, or to find out what I thought
of his church, or ... to wait until I should be satisfied.  Satisfied!
I was satisfied.  Had I not found my God and my Father?  Did he not
love me?  Had he not called me?  Was there not a Church into which I
might enter? ...  Since then I have had direct answers to prayer--so
significant as to be almost like talking with God and hearing his
answer.  The idea of God's reality has never left me for one moment."

Here is still another case, the writer being a man aged twenty-seven,
in which the experience, probably almost as characteristic, is less
vividly described:--

"I have on a number of occasions felt that I had enjoyed a period of
intimate communion with the divine.  These meetings came unasked and
unexpected, and seemed to consist merely in the temporary obliteration
of the conventionalities which usually surround and cover my life....
Once it was when from the summit of a high mountain I looked over a
gashed and corrugated landscape extending to a long convex of ocean
that ascended to the horizon, and again from the same point when I
could see nothing beneath me but a boundless expanse of white cloud, on
the blown surface of which a few high peaks, including the one I was
on, seemed plunging about as if they were dragging their anchors.

What I felt on these occasions was a temporary loss of my own identity,
accompanied by an illumination which revealed to me a deeper
significance than I had been wont to attach to life.  It is in this
that I find my justification for saying that I have enjoyed
communication with God.  Of course the absence of such a being as this
would be chaos. I cannot conceive of life without its presence."

Of the more habitual and so to speak chronic sense of God's presence
the following sample from Professor Starbuck's manuscript collection
may serve to give an idea.  It is from a man aged forty-nine--probably
thousands of unpretending Christians would write an almost identical

"God is more real to me than any thought or thing or person.  I feel
his presence positively, and the more as I live in closer harmony with
his laws as written in my body and mind.  I feel him in the sunshine or
rain; and awe mingled with a delicious restfulness most nearly
describes my feelings.  I talk to him as to a companion in prayer and
praise, and our communion is delightful.  He answers me again and
again, often in words so clearly spoken that it seems my outer ear must
have carried the tone, but generally in strong mental impressions.
Usually a text of Scripture, unfolding some new view of him and his
love for me, and care for my safety.  I could give hundreds of
instances, in school matters, social problems, financial difficulties,
etc.  That he is mine and I am his never leaves me, it is an abiding
joy.  Without it life would be a blank, a desert, a shoreless,
trackless waste."

I subjoin some more examples from writers of different ages and sexes.
They are also from Professor Starbuck's collection, and their number
might be greatly multiplied.  The first is from a man twenty-seven
years old:--

"God is quite real to me.  I talk to him and often get answers.
Thoughts sudden and distinct from any I have been entertaining come to
my mind after asking God for his direction.  Something over a year ago
I was for some weeks in the direst perplexity.  When the trouble first
appeared before me I was dazed, but before long (two or three hours) I
could hear distinctly a passage of Scripture:  'My grace is sufficient
for thee.'  Every time my thoughts turned to the trouble I could hear
this quotation.  I don't think I ever doubted the existence of God, or
had him drop out of my consciousness.  God has frequently stepped into
my affairs very perceptibly, and I feel that he directs many little
details all the time.  But on two or three occasions he has ordered
ways for me very contrary to my ambitions and plans."

Another statement (none the less valuable psychologically for being so
decidedly childish) is that of a boy of seventeen:--

"Sometimes as I go to church, I sit down, join in the service, and
before I go out I feel as if God was with me, right side of me, singing
and reading the Psalms with me.... And then again I feel as if I could
sit beside him, and put my arms around him, kiss him, etc.  When I am
taking Holy Communion at the altar, I try to get with him and generally
feel his presence."

I let a few other cases follow at random:--

"God surrounds me like the physical atmosphere.  He is closer to me
than my own breath.  In him literally I live and move and have my

"There are times when I seem to stand in his very presence, to talk
with him.  Answers to prayer have come, sometimes direct and
overwhelming in their revelation of his presence and powers.  There are
times when God seems far off, but this is always my own fault."--

"I have the sense of a presence, strong, and at the same time soothing,
which hovers over me.  Sometimes it seems to enwrap me with sustaining

Such is the human ontological imagination, and such is the
convincingness of what it brings to birth.  Unpicturable beings are
realized, and realized with an intensity almost like that of an
hallucination.  They determine our vital attitude as decisively as the
vital attitude of lovers is determined by the habitual sense, by which
each is haunted, of the other being in the world.  A lover has
notoriously this sense of the continuous being of his idol, even when
his attention is addressed to other matters and he no longer represents
her features.  He cannot forget her; she uninterruptedly affects him
through and through.  I spoke of the convincingness of these feelings
of reality, and I must dwell a moment longer on that point.  They are
as convincing to those who have them as any direct sensible experiences
can be, and they are, as a rule, much more convincing than results
established by mere logic ever are.  One may indeed be entirely without
them; probably more than one of you here present is without them in any
marked degree; but if you do have them, and have them at all strongly,
the probability is that you cannot help regarding them as genuine
perceptions of truth, as revelations of a kind of reality which no
adverse argument, however unanswerable by you in words, can expel from
your belief.

The opinion opposed to mysticism in philosophy is sometimes spoken of
as RATIONALISM.  Rationalism insists that all our beliefs ought
ultimately to find for themselves articulate grounds.  Such grounds,
for rationalism, must consist of four things:  (1) definitely statable
abstract principles; (2) definite facts of sensation; (3) definite
hypotheses based on such facts; and (4) definite inferences logically
drawn.  Vague impressions of something indefinable have no place in the
rationalistic system, which on its positive side is surely a splendid
intellectual tendency, for not only are all our philosophies fruits of
it, but physical science (amongst other good things) is its result.

Nevertheless, if we look on man's whole mental life as it exists, on
the life of men that lies in them apart from their learning and
science, and that they inwardly and privately follow, we have to
confess that the part of it of which rationalism can give an account is
relatively superficial.  It is the part that has the prestige
undoubtedly, for it has the loquacity, it can challenge you for proofs,
and chop logic, and put you down with words.  But it will fail to
convince or convert you all the same, if your dumb intuitions are
opposed to its conclusions.  If you have intuitions at all, they come
from a deeper level of your nature than the loquacious level which
rationalism inhabits.  Your whole subconscious life, your impulses,
your faiths, your needs, your divinations, have prepared the premises,
of which your consciousness now feels the weight of the result; and
something in you absolutely KNOWS that that result must be truer than
any logic-chopping rationalistic talk, however clever, that may
contradict it.  This inferiority of the rationalistic level in founding
belief is just as manifest when rationalism argues for religion as when
it argues against it.  That vast literature of proofs of God's
existence drawn from the order of nature, which a century ago seemed so
overwhelmingly convincing, to-day does little more than gather dust in
libraries, for the simple reason that our generation has ceased to
believe in the kind of God it argued for.  Whatever sort of a being God
may be, we KNOW to-day that he is nevermore that mere external inventor
of "contrivances" intended to make manifest his "glory" in which our
great-grandfathers took such satisfaction, though just how we know this
we cannot possibly make clear by words either to others or to
ourselves.  I defy any of you here fully to account for your persuasion
that if a God exist he must be a more cosmic and tragic personage than
that Being.

The truth is that in the metaphysical and religious sphere, articulate
reasons are cogent for us only when our inarticulate feelings of
reality have already been impressed in favor of the same conclusion.
Then, indeed, our intuitions and our reason work together, and great
world-ruling systems, like that of the Buddhist or of the Catholic
philosophy, may grow up. Our impulsive belief is here always what sets
up the original body of truth, and our articulately verbalized
philosophy is but its showy translation into formulas.  The unreasoned
and immediate assurance is the deep thing in us, the reasoned argument
is but a surface exhibition.  Instinct leads, intelligence does but
follow.  If a person feels the presence of a living God after the
fashion shown by my quotations, your critical arguments, be they never
so superior, will vainly set themselves to change his faith.

Please observe, however, that I do not yet say that it is BETTER that
the subconscious and non-rational should thus hold primacy in the
religious realm.  I confine myself to simply pointing out that they do
so hold it as a matter of fact.

So much for our sense of the reality of the religious objects.  Let me
now say a brief word more about the attitudes they characteristically

We have already agreed that they are SOLEMN; and we have seen reason to
think that the most distinctive of them is the sort of joy which may
result in extreme cases from absolute self-surrender.  The sense of the
kind of object to which the surrender is made has much to do with
determining the precise complexion of the joy; and the whole phenomenon
is more complex than any simple formula allows.  In the literature of
the subject, sadness and gladness have each been emphasized in turn.
The ancient saying that the first maker of the Gods was fear receives
voluminous corroboration from every age of religious history; but none
the less does religious history show the part which joy has evermore
tended to play.  Sometimes the joy has been primary; sometimes
secondary, being the gladness of deliverance from the fear. This latter
state of things, being the more complex, is also the more complete; and
as we proceed, I think we shall have abundant reason for refusing to
leave out either the sadness or the gladness, if we look at religion
with the breadth of view which it demands.  Stated in the completest
possible terms, a man's religion involves both moods of contraction and
moods of expansion of his being.  But the quantitative mixture and
order of these moods vary so much from one age of the world, from one
system of thought, and from one individual to another, that you may
insist either on the dread and the submission, or on the peace and the
freedom as the essence of the matter, and still remain materially
within the limits of the truth.  The constitutionally sombre and the
constitutionally sanguine onlooker are bound to emphasize opposite
aspects of what lies before their eyes.

The constitutionally sombre religious person makes even of his
religious peace a very sober thing.  Danger still hovers in the air
about it.  Flexion and contraction are not wholly checked.  It were
sparrowlike and childish after our deliverance to explode into
twittering laughter and caper-cutting, and utterly to forget the
imminent hawk on bough.  Lie low, rather, lie low; for you are in the
hands of a living God.  In the Book of Job, for example, the impotence
of man and the omnipotence of God is the exclusive burden of its
author's mind.  "It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?--deeper
than hell; what canst thou know?" There is an astringent relish about
the truth of this conviction which some men can feel, and which for
them is as near an approach as can be made to the feeling of religious

"In Job," says that coldly truthful writer, the author of Mark
Rutherford, "God reminds us that man is not the measure of his
creation.  The world is immense, constructed on no plan or theory which
the intellect of man can grasp. It is TRANSCENDENT everywhere.  This is
the burden of every verse, and is the secret if there be one, of the
poem.  Sufficient or insufficient, there is nothing more....  God is
great, we know not his ways.  He takes from us all we have, but yet if
we possess our souls in patience, we MAY pass the valley of the shadow,
and come out in sunlight again.  We may or we may not! ... What more
have we to say now than God said from the whirlwind over two thousand
five hundred years ago?"[29]

[29] Mark Rutherford's Deliverance, London, 1885, pp. 196, 198.

If we turn to the sanguine onlooker, on the other hand, we find that
deliverance is felt as incomplete unless the burden be altogether
overcome and the danger forgotten.  Such onlookers give us definitions
that seem to the sombre minds of whom we have just been speaking to
leave out all the solemnity that makes religious peace so different
from merely animal joys.  In the opinion of some writers an attitude
might be called religious, though no touch were left in it of sacrifice
or submission, no tendency to flexion, no bowing of the head.  Any
"habitual and regulated admiration," says Professor J. R. Seeley,[30]
"is worthy to be called a religion"; and accordingly he thinks that our
Music, our Science, and our so-called "Civilization," as these things
are now organized and admiringly believed in, form the more genuine
religions of our time.  Certainly the unhesitating and unreasoning way
in which we feel that we must inflict our civilization upon "lower"
races, by means of Hotchkiss guns, etc., reminds one of nothing so much
as of the early spirit of Islam spreading its religion by the sword.

[30] In his book (too little read, I fear), Natural Religion, 3d
edition, Boston, 1886, pp. 91, 122.

In my last lecture I quoted to you the ultra-radical opinion of Mr.
Havelock Ellis, that laughter of any sort may be considered a religious
exercise, for it bears witness to the soul's emancipation.  I quoted
this opinion in order to deny its adequacy.  But we must now settle our
scores more carefully with this whole optimistic way of thinking.  It
is far too complex to be decided off-hand.  I propose accordingly that
we make of religious optimism the theme of the next two lectures.

Lectures IV and V


If we were to ask the question:  "What is human life's chief concern?"
one of the answers we should receive would be:  "It is happiness."  How
to gain, how to keep, how to recover happiness, is in fact for most men
at all times the secret motive of all they do, and of all they are
willing to endure.  The hedonistic school in ethics deduces the moral
life wholly from the experiences of happiness and unhappiness which
different kinds of conduct bring; and, even more in the religious life
than in the moral life, happiness and unhappiness seem to be the poles
round which the interest revolves. We need not go so far as to say with
the author whom I lately quoted that any persistent enthusiasm is, as
such, religion, nor need we call mere laughter a religious exercise;
but we must admit that any persistent enjoyment may PRODUCE the sort of
religion which consists in a grateful admiration of the gift of so
happy an existence; and we must also acknowledge that the more complex
ways of experiencing religion are new manners of producing happiness,
wonderful inner paths to a supernatural kind of happiness, when the
first gift of natural existence is unhappy, as it so often proves
itself to be.

With such relations between religion and happiness, it is perhaps not
surprising that men come to regard the happiness which a religious
belief affords as a proof of its truth.  If a creed makes a man feel
happy, he almost inevitably adopts it.  Such a belief ought to be true;
therefore it is true--such, rightly or wrongly, is one of the
"immediate inferences" of the religious logic used by ordinary men.

"The near presence of God's spirit," says a German writer,[31] "may be
experienced in its reality--indeed ONLY experienced. And the mark by
which the spirit's existence and nearness are made irrefutably clear to
those who have ever had the experience is the utterly incomparable
FEELING OF HAPPINESS which is connected with the nearness, and which is
therefore not only a possible and altogether proper feeling for us to
have here below, but is the best and most indispensable proof of God's
reality.  No other proof is equally convincing, and therefore happiness
is the point from which every efficacious new theology should start."

[31] C. Hilty: Gluck, dritter Theil, 1900, p. 18.

In the hour immediately before us, I shall invite you to consider the
simpler kinds of religious happiness, leaving the more complex sorts to
be treated on a later day.

In many persons, happiness is congenital and irreclaimable.  "Cosmic
emotion" inevitably takes in them the form of enthusiasm and freedom.
I speak not only of those who are animally happy.  I mean those who,
when unhappiness is offered or proposed to them, positively refuse to
feel it, as if it were something mean and wrong.  We find such persons
in every age, passionately flinging themselves upon their sense of the
goodness of life, in spite of the hardships of their own condition, and
in spite of the sinister theologies into which they may he born.  From
the outset their religion is one of union with the divine.  The
heretics who went before the reformation are lavishly accused by the
church writers of antinomian practices, just as the first Christians
were accused of indulgence in orgies by the Romans.  It is probable
that there never has been a century in which the deliberate refusal to
think ill of life has not been idealized by a sufficient number of
persons to form sects, open or secret, who claimed all natural things
to be permitted.  Saint Augustine's maxim, Dilige et quod vis fac--if
you but love [God], you may do as you incline--is morally one of the
profoundest of observations, yet it is pregnant, for such persons, with
passports beyond the bounds of conventional morality.  According to
their characters they have been refined or gross; but their belief has
been at all times systematic enough to constitute a definite religious
attitude.  God was for them a giver of freedom, and the sting of evil
was overcome.  Saint Francis and his immediate disciples were, on the
whole, of this company of spirits, of which there are of course
infinite varieties.  Rousseau in the earlier years of his writing,
Diderot, B. de Saint Pierre, and many of the leaders of the eighteenth
century anti-Christian movement were of this optimistic type. They owed
their influence to a certain authoritativeness in their feeling that
Nature, if you will only trust her sufficiently, is absolutely good.

It is to be hoped that we all have some friend, perhaps more often
feminine than masculine, and young than old, whose soul is of this
sky-blue tint, whose affinities are rather with flowers and birds and
all enchanting innocencies than with dark human passions, who can think
no ill of man or God, and in whom religious gladness, being in
possession from the outset, needs no deliverance from any antecedent

"God has two families of children on this earth," says Francis W.
Newman,[32] "the once-born and the twice-born," and the once-born he
describes as follows:  "They see God, not as a strict Judge, not as a
Glorious Potentate; but as the animating Spirit of a beautiful
harmonious world, Beneficent and Kind, Merciful as well as Pure.  The
same characters generally have no metaphysical tendencies:  they do not
look back into themselves. Hence they are not distressed by their own
imperfections:  yet it would be absurd to call them self-righteous; for
they hardly think of themselves AT ALL.  This childlike quality of
their nature makes the opening of religion very happy to them:  for
they no more shrink from God, than a child from an emperor, before whom
the parent trembles:  in fact, they have no vivid conception of ANY of
the qualities in which the severer Majesty of God consists.[33] He is
to them the impersonation of Kindness and Beauty.  They read his
character, not in the disordered world of man, but in romantic and
harmonious nature. Of human sin they know perhaps little in their own
hearts and not very much in the world; and human suffering does but
melt them to tenderness.  Thus, when they approach God, no inward
disturbance ensues; and without being as yet spiritual, they have a
certain complacency and perhaps romantic sense of excitement in their
simple worship."

[32] The Soul; its Sorrows and its Aspirations, 3d edition, 1852, pp.
89, 91.

[33] I once heard a lady describe the pleasure it gave her to think
that she "could always cuddle up to God."

In the Romish Church such characters find a more congenial soil to grow
in than in Protestantism, whose fashions of feeling have been set by
minds of a decidedly pessimistic order.  But even in Protestantism they
have been abundant enough; and in its recent "liberal" developments of
Unitarianism and latitudinarianism generally, minds of this order have
played and still are playing leading and constructive parts.  Emerson
himself is an admirable example.  Theodore Parker is another--here are
a couple of characteristic passages from Parker's correspondence.[34]

[34] John Weiss:  Life of Theodore Parker, i. 152, 32.

"Orthodox scholars say:  'In the heathen classics you find no
consciousness of sin.' It is very true--God be thanked for it.  They
were conscious of wrath, of cruelty, avarice, drunkenness, lust, sloth,
cowardice, and other actual vices, and struggled and got rid of the
deformities, but they were not conscious of 'enmity against God,' and
didn't sit down and whine and groan against non-existent evil.  I have
done wrong things enough in my life, and do them now; I miss the mark,
draw bow, and try again.  But I am not conscious of hating God, or man,
or right, or love, and I know there is much 'health in me', and in my
body, even now, there dwelleth many a good thing, spite of consumption
and Saint Paul."  In another letter Parker writes:  "I have swum in
clear sweet waters all my days; and if sometimes they were a little
cold, and the stream ran adverse and something rough, it was never too
strong to be breasted and swum through.  From the days of earliest
boyhood, when I went stumbling through the grass, ... up to the
gray-bearded manhood of this time, there is none but has left me honey
in the hive of memory that I now feed on for present delight. When I
recall the years ... I am filled with a sense of sweetness and wonder
that such little things can make a mortal so exceedingly rich.  But I
must confess that the chiefest of all my delights is still the

Another good expression of the "once-born" type of consciousness,
developing straight and natural, with no element of morbid compunction
or crisis, is contained in the answer of Dr. Edward Everett Hale, the
eminent Unitarian preacher and writer, to one of Dr. Starbuck's
circulars.  I quote a part of it:--

"I observe, with profound regret, the religious struggles which come
into many biographies, as if almost essential to the formation of the
hero.  I ought to speak of these, to say that any man has an advantage,
not to be estimated, who is born, as I was, into a family where the
religion is simple and rational; who is trained in the theory of such a
religion, so that he never knows, for an hour, what these religious or
irreligious struggles are.  I always knew God loved me, and I was
always grateful to him for the world he placed me in.  I always liked
to tell him so, and was always glad to receive his suggestions to
me.... I can remember perfectly that when I was coming to manhood, the
half-philosophical novels of the time had a deal to say about the young
men and maidens who were facing the 'problem of life.' I had no idea
whatever what the problem of life was.  To live with all my might
seemed to me easy; to learn where there was so much to learn seemed
pleasant and almost of course; to lend a hand, if one had a chance,
natural; and if one did this, why, he enjoyed life because he could not
help it, and without proving to himself that he ought to enjoy it.... A
child who is early taught that he is God's child, that he may live and
move and have his being in God, and that he has, therefore, infinite
strength at hand for the conquering of any difficulty, will take life
more easily, and probably will make more of it, than one who is told
that he is born the child of wrath and wholly incapable of good."[35]

[35] Starbuck:  Psychology of Religion, pp. 305, 306.

One can but recognize in such writers as these the presence of a
temperament organically weighted on the side of cheer and fatally
forbidden to linger, as those of opposite temperament linger, over the
darker aspects of the universe. In some individuals optimism may become
quasi-pathological. The capacity for even a transient sadness or a
momentary humility seems cut off from them as by a kind of congenital

[36] "I know not to what physical laws philosophers will some day refer
the feelings of melancholy.  For myself, I find that they are the most
voluptuous of all sensations," writes Saint Pierre, and accordingly he
devotes a series of sections of his work on Nature to the Plaisirs de
la Ruine, Plaisirs des Tombeaux, Ruines de la Nature, Plaisirs de la
Solitude--each of them more optimistic than the last.

This finding of a luxury in woe is very common during adolescence. The
truth-telling Marie Bashkirtseff expresses it well:--

"In his depression and dreadful uninterrupted suffering, I don't
condemn life.  On the contrary, I like it and find it good.  Can you
believe it?  I find everything good and pleasant, even my tears, my
grief.  I enjoy weeping, I enjoy my despair.  I enjoy being exasperated
and sad.  I feel as if these were so many diversions, and I love life
in spite of them all.  I want to live on.  It would be cruel to have me
die when I am so accommodating.

I cry, I grieve, and at the same time I am pleased--no, not exactly
that--I know not how to express it.  But everything in life pleases me.
I find everything agreeable, and in the very midst of my prayers for
happiness, I find myself happy at being miserable.  It is not I who
undergo all this--my body weeps and cries; but something inside of me
which is above me is glad of it all." [37]

[37] Journal de Marie Bashkirtseff, i. 67.

The supreme contemporary example of such an inability to feel evil is
of course Walt Whitman.

"His favorite occupation," writes his disciple, Dr. Bucke "seemed to be
strolling or sauntering about outdoors by himself, looking at the
grass, the trees, the flowers, the vistas of light, the varying aspects
of the sky, and listening to the birds, the crickets, the tree frogs,
and all the hundreds of natural sounds.

It was evident that these things gave him a pleasure far beyond what
they give to ordinary people.  Until I knew the man," continues Dr.
Bucke, "it had not occurred to me that any one could derive so much
absolute happiness from these things as he did.  He was very fond of
flowers, either wild or cultivated; liked all sorts.  I think he
admired lilacs and sunflowers just as much as roses.  Perhaps, indeed,
no man who ever lived liked so many things and disliked so few as Walt
Whitman.  All natural objects seemed to have a charm for him.  All
sights and sounds seemed to please him.  He appeared to like (and I
believe he did like) all the men, women, and children he saw (though I
never knew him to say that he liked any one), but each who knew him
felt that he liked him or her, and that he liked others also.  I never
knew him to argue or dispute, and he never spoke about money.  He
always justified, sometimes playfully, sometimes quite seriously, those
who spoke harshly of himself or his writings, and I often thought he
even took pleasure in the opposition of enemies.  When I first knew
[him], I used to think that he watched himself, and would not allow his
tongue to give expression to fretfulness, antipathy, complaint, and
remonstrance.  It did not occur to me as possible that these mental
states could be absent in him.  After long observation, however, I
satisfied myself that such absence or unconsciousness was entirely
real.  He never spoke deprecatingly of any nationality or class of men,
or time in the world's history, or against any trades or
occupations--not even against any animals, insects, or inanimate
things, nor any of the laws of nature, nor any of the results of those
laws, such as illness, deformity, and death.  He never complained or
grumbled either at the weather, pain, illness, or anything else.  He
never swore.  He could not very well, since he never spoke in anger and
apparently never was angry.  He never exhibited fear, and I do not
believe he ever felt it."[38]

[38] R. M. Bucke:  Cosmic consciousness, pp. 182-186, abridged.

Walt Whitman owes his importance in literature to the systematic
expulsion from his writings of all contractile elements.  The only
sentiments he allowed himself to express were of the expansive order;
and he expressed these in the first person, not as your mere
monstrously conceited individual might so express them, but vicariously
for all men, so that a passionate and mystic ontological emotion
suffuses his words, and ends by persuading the reader that men and
women, life and death, and all things are divinely good.

Thus it has come about that many persons to-day regard Walt Whitman as
the restorer of the eternal natural religion. He has infected them with
his own love of comrades, with his own gladness that he and they exist.
Societies are actually formed for his cult; a periodical organ exists
for its propagation, in which the lines of orthodoxy and heterodoxy are
already beginning to be drawn;[39] hymns are written by others in his
peculiar prosody; and he is even explicitly compared with the founder
of the Christian religion, not altogether to the advantage of the

[39] I refer to The Conservator, edited by Horace Traubel, and
published monthly at Philadelphia.

Whitman is often spoken of as a "pagan."  The word nowadays means
sometimes the mere natural animal man without a sense of sin; sometimes
it means a Greek or Roman with his own peculiar religious
consciousness.  In neither of these senses does it fitly define this
poet.  He is more than your mere animal man who has not tasted of the
tree of good and evil.  He is aware enough of sin for a swagger to be
present in his indifference towards it, a conscious pride in his
freedom from flexions and contractions, which your genuine pagan in the
first sense of the word would never show.

  "I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and
  I stand and look at them long and long;
  They do not sweat and whine about their condition.
  They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.
  Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of
      owning things,
  Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands
      of years ago,
  Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth."[40]

[40] Song of Myself, 32.

No natural pagan could have written these well-known lines.  But on the
other hand Whitman is less than a Greek or Roman; for their
consciousness, even in Homeric times, was full to the brim of the sad
mortality of this sunlit world, and such a consciousness Walt Whitman
resolutely refuses to adopt.  When, for example, Achilles, about to
slay Lycaon, Priam's young son, hears him sue for mercy, he stops to

"Ah, friend, thou too must die:  why thus lamentest thou?  Patroclos
too is dead, who was better far than thou.... Over me too hang death
and forceful fate.  There cometh morn or eve or some noonday when my
life too some man shall take in battle, whether with spear he smite, or
arrow from the string."[41]

[41] Iliad, XXI., E. Myers's translation.

Then Achilles savagely severs the poor boy's neck with his sword,
heaves him by the foot into the Scamander, and calls to the fishes of
the river to eat the white fat of Lycaon.  Just as here the cruelty and
the sympathy each ring true, and do not mix or interfere with one
another, so did the Greeks and Romans keep all their sadnesses and
gladnesses unmingled and entire.  Instinctive good they did not reckon
sin; nor had they any such desire to save the credit of the universe as
to make them insist, as so many of US insist, that what immediately
appears as evil must be "good in the making," or something equally
ingenious.  Good was good, and bad just bad, for the earlier Greeks.
They neither denied the ills of nature--Walt Whitman's verse, "What is
called good is perfect and what is called bad is just as perfect,"
would have been mere silliness to them--nor did they, in order to
escape from those ills, invent "another and a better world" of the
imagination, in which, along with the ills, the innocent goods of sense
would also find no place.  This integrity of the instinctive reactions,
this freedom from all moral sophistry and strain, gives a pathetic
dignity to ancient pagan feeling. And this quality Whitman's
outpourings have not got. His optimism is too voluntary and defiant;
his gospel has a touch of bravado and an affected twist,[42] and this
diminishes its effect on many readers who yet are well disposed towards
optimism, and on the whole quite willing to admit that in important
respects Whitman is of the genuine lineage of the prophets.

[42] "God is afraid of me!" remarked such a titanic-optimistic friend
in my presence one morning when he was feeling particularly hearty and
cannibalistic.  The defiance of the phrase showed that a Christian
education in humility still rankled in his breast.

If, then, we give the name of healthy-mindedness to the tendency which
looks on all things and sees that they are good, we find that we must
distinguish between a more involuntary and a more voluntary or
systematic way of being healthy-minded.  In its involuntary variety,
healthy-mindedness is a way of feeling happy about things immediately.
In its systematical variety, it is an abstract way of conceiving things
as good.  Every abstract way of conceiving things selects some one
aspect of them as their essence for the time being, and disregards the
other aspects.  Systematic healthy-mindedness, conceiving good as the
essential and universal aspect of being, deliberately excludes evil
from its field of vision; and although, when thus nakedly stated, this
might seem a difficult feat to perform for one who is intellectually
sincere with himself and honest about facts, a little reflection shows
that the situation is too complex to lie open to so simple a criticism.

In the first place, happiness, like every other emotional state, has
blindness and insensibility to opposing facts given it as its
instinctive weapon for self-protection against disturbance. When
happiness is actually in possession, the thought of evil can no more
acquire the feeling of reality than the thought of good can gain
reality when melancholy rules.  To the man actively happy, from
whatever cause, evil simply cannot then and there be believed in.  He
must ignore it; and to the bystander he may then seem perversely to
shut his eyes to it and hush it up.

But more than this:  the hushing of it up may, in a perfectly candid
and honest mind, grow into a deliberate religious policy, or parti
pris.  Much of what we call evil is due entirely to the way men take
the phenomenon.  It can so often be converted into a bracing and tonic
good by a simple change of the sufferer's inner attitude from one of
fear to one of fight; its sting so often departs and turns into a
relish when, after vainly seeking to shun it, we agree to face about
and bear it cheerfully, that a man is simply bound in honor, with
reference to many of the facts that seem at first to disconcert his
peace, to adopt this way of escape.  Refuse to admit their badness;
despise their power; ignore their presence; turn your attention the
other way; and so far as you yourself are concerned at any rate, though
the facts may still exist, their evil character exists no longer.
Since you make them evil or good by your own thoughts about them, it is
the ruling of your thoughts which proves to be your principal concern.

The deliberate adoption of an optimistic turn of mind thus makes its
entrance into philosophy.  And once in, it is hard to trace its lawful
bounds.  Not only does the human instinct for happiness, bent on
self-protection by ignoring, keep working in its favor, but higher
inner ideals have weighty words to say.  The attitude of unhappiness is
not only painful, it is mean and ugly.  What can be more base and
unworthy than the pining, puling, mumping mood, no matter by what
outward ills it may have been engendered? What is more injurious to
others?  What less helpful as a way out of the difficulty?  It but
fastens and perpetuates the trouble which occasioned it, and increases
the total evil of the situation.  At all costs, then, we ought to
reduce the sway of that mood; we ought to scout it in ourselves and
others, and never show it tolerance.  But it is impossible to carry on
this discipline in the subjective sphere without zealously emphasizing
the brighter and minimizing the darker aspects of the objective sphere
of things at the same time.  And thus our resolution not to indulge in
misery, beginning at a comparatively small point within ourselves, may
not stop until it has brought the entire frame of reality under a
systematic conception optimistic enough to be congenial with its needs.

In all this I say nothing of any mystical insight or persuasion that
the total frame of things absolutely must be good.  Such mystical
persuasion plays an enormous part in the history of the religious
consciousness, and we must look at it later with some care.  But we
need not go so far at present. More ordinary non-mystical conditions of
rapture suffice for my immediate contention.  All invasive moral states
and passionate enthusiasms make one feelingless to evil in some
direction. The common penalties cease to deter the patriot, the usual
prudences are flung by the lover to the winds.  When the passion is
extreme, suffering may actually be gloried in, provided it be for the
ideal cause, death may lose its sting, the grave its victory.  In these
states, the ordinary contrast of good and ill seems to be swallowed up
in a higher denomination, an omnipotent excitement which engulfs the
evil, and which the human being welcomes as the crowning experience of
his life.  This, he says, is truly to live, and I exult in the heroic
opportunity and adventure.

The systematic cultivation of healthy-mindedness as a religious
attitude is therefore consonant with important currents in human
nature, and is anything but absurd.  In fact. we all do cultivate it
more or less, even when our professed theology should in consistency
forbid it.  We divert our attention from disease and death as much as
we can; and the slaughter-houses and indecencies without end on which
our life is founded are huddled out of sight and never mentioned, so
that the world we recognize officially in literature and in society is
a poetic fiction far handsomer and cleaner and better than the world
that really is.[43]

[43] "As I go on in this life, day by day, I become more of a
bewildered child; I cannot get used to this world, to procreation, to
heredity, to sight, to hearing, the commonest things are a burthen. The
prim, obliterated, polite surface of life, and the broad, bawdy and
orgiastic--or maenadic--foundations, form a spectacle to which no habit
reconciles me.  R. L. Stevenson:  Letters, ii. 355.

The advance of liberalism, so-called, in Christianity, during the past
fifty years, may fairly be called a victory of healthy-mindedness
within the church over the morbidness with which the old hell-fire
theology was more harmoniously related.  We have now whole
congregations whose preachers, far from magnifying our consciousness of
sin, seem devoted rather to making little of it.  They ignore, or even
deny, eternal punishment, and insist on the dignity rather than on the
depravity of man.  They look at the continual preoccupation of the
old-fashioned Christian with the salvation of his soul as something
sickly and reprehensible rather than admirable; and a sanguine and
"muscular" attitude. which to our forefathers would have seemed purely
heathen, has become in their eyes an ideal element of Christian
character. I am not asking whether or not they are right, I am only
pointing out the change.  The persons to whom I refer have still
retained for the most part their nominal connection with Christianity,
in spite of their discarding of its more pessimistic theological
elements.  But in that "theory of evolution" which, gathering momentum
for a century, has within the past twenty-five years swept so rapidly
over Europe and America, we see the ground laid for a new sort of
religion of Nature, which has entirely displaced Christianity from the
thought of a large part of our generation.  The idea of a universal
evolution lends itself to a doctrine of general meliorism and progress
which fits the religious needs of the healthy-minded so well that it
seems almost as if it might have been created for their use.
Accordingly we find "evolutionism" interpreted thus optimistically and
embraced as a substitute for the religion they were born in, by a
multitude of our contemporaries who have either been trained
scientifically, or been fond of reading popular science, and who had
already begun to be inwardly dissatisfied with what seemed to them the
harshness and irrationality of the orthodox Christian scheme.  As
examples are better than descriptions, I will quote a document received
in answer to Professor Starbuck's circular of questions.

The writer's state of mind may by courtesy be called a religion, for it
is his reaction on the whole nature of things, it is systematic and
reflective and it loyally binds him to certain inner ideals.  I think
you will recognize in him, coarse-meated and incapable of wounded
spirit as he is, a sufficiently familiar contemporary type.

Q.  What does Religion mean to you?

A.  It means nothing; and it seems, so far as I can observe useless to
others.  I am sixty-seven years of age and have resided in X fifty
years, and have been in business forty-five, consequently I have some
little experience of life and men, and some women too, and I find that
the most religious and pious people are as a rule those most lacking in
uprightness and morality.

The men who do not go to church or have any religious convictions are
the best.  Praying, singing of hymns, and sermonizing are
pernicious--they teach us to rely on some supernatural power, when we
ought to rely on ourselves.  I TEEtotally disbelieve in a God.  The
God-idea was begotten in ignorance, fear, and a general lack of any
knowledge of Nature.  If I were to die now, being in a healthy
condition for my age, both mentally and physically, I would just as
lief, yes, rather, die with a hearty enjoyment of music, sport, or any
other rational pastime. As a timepiece stops, we die--there being no
immortality in either case.

Q.  What comes before your mind corresponding to the words God, Heaven,
Angels, etc?

A.  Nothing whatever.  I am a man without a religion.  These words mean
so much mythic bosh.

Q.  Have you had any experiences which appeared providential?

A.  None whatever.  There is no agency of the superintending kind.  A
little judicious observation as well as knowledge of scientific law
will convince any one of this fact.

Q.  What things work most strongly on your emotions?

A.  Lively songs and music; Pinafore instead of an Oratorio. I like
Scott, Burns, Byron, Longfellow, especially Shakespeare, etc., etc.  Of
songs, the Star-Spangled Banner, America, Marseillaise, and all moral
and soul-stirring songs, but wishy-washy hymns are my detestation.  I
greatly enjoy nature, especially fine weather, and until within a few
years used to walk Sundays into the country, twelve miles often, with
no fatigue, and bicycle forty or fifty.  I have dropped the bicycle.

I never go to church, but attend lectures when there are any good ones.
All of my thoughts and cogitations have been of a healthy and cheerful
kind, for instead of doubts and fears I see things as they are, for I
endeavor to adjust myself to my environment.  This I regard as the
deepest law.  Mankind is a progressive animal.  I am satisfied he will
have made a great advance over his present status a thousand years

Q.  What is your notion of sin?

A.  It seems to me that sin is a condition, a disease, incidental to
man's development not being yet advanced enough.  Morbidness over it
increases the disease.  We should think that a million of years hence
equity, justice, and mental and physical good order will be so fixed
and organized that no one will have any idea of evil or sin.

Q.  What is your temperament?

A.  Nervous, active, wide-awake, mentally and physically. Sorry that
Nature compels us to sleep at all.

If we are in search of a broken and a contrite heart, clearly we need
not look to this brother.  His contentment with the finite incases him
like a lobster-shell and shields him from all morbid repining at his
distance from the infinite.  We have in him an excellent example of the
optimism which may be encouraged by popular science.

To my mind a current far more important and interesting religiously
than that which sets in from natural science towards healthy-mindedness
is that which has recently poured over America and seems to be
gathering force every day--I am ignorant what foothold it may yet have
acquired in Great Britain--and to which, for the sake of having a brief
designation, I will give the title of the "Mind-cure movement."  There
are various sects of this "New Thought," to use another of the names by
which it calls itself; but their agreements are so profound that their
differences may be neglected for my present purpose, and I will treat
the movement, without apology, as if it were a simple thing.

It is a deliberately optimistic scheme of life, with both a speculative
and a practical side.  In its gradual development during the last
quarter of a century, it has taken up into itself a number of
contributory elements, and it must now be reckoned with as a genuine
religious power.  It has reached the stage, for example, when the
demand for its literature is great enough for insincere stuff,
mechanically produced for the market, to be to a certain extent
supplied by publishers--a phenomenon never observed, I imagine, until a
religion has got well past its earliest insecure beginnings.

One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another
is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another is
Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its messages of "law"
and "progress" and "development"; another the optimistic popular
science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally,
Hinduism has contributed a strain.  But the most characteristic feature
of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct.  The
leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving
power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy
of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt,
fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind.[44] Their
belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical
experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass
imposing in amount.

[44] "Cautionary Verses for Children":  this title of a much used work,
published early in the nineteenth century, shows how far the muse of
evangelical protestantism in England, with her mind fixed on the idea
of danger, had at last drifted away from the original gospel freedom.
Mind-cure might be briefly called a reaction against all that religion
of chronic anxiety which marked the earlier part of our century in the
evangelical circles of England and America.

The blind have been made to see, the halt to walk; life-long invalids
have had their health restored.  The moral fruits have been no less
remarkable.  The deliberate adoption of a healthy-minded attitude has
proved possible to many who never supposed they had it in them;
regeneration of character has gone on on an extensive scale; and
cheerfulness has been restored to countless homes.  The indirect
influence of this has been great.  The mind-cure principles are
beginning so to pervade the air that one catches their spirit at
second-hand.  One hears of the "Gospel of Relaxation," of the "Don't
Worry Movement," of people who repeat to themselves, "Youth, health,
vigor!" when dressing in the morning, as their motto for the day.

Complaints of the weather are getting to be forbidden in many
households; and more and more people are recognizing it to be bad form
to speak of disagreeable sensations, or to make much of the ordinary
inconveniences and ailments of life.  These general tonic effects on
public opinion would be good even if the more striking results were
non-existent.  But the latter abound so that we can afford to overlook
the innumerable failures and self-deceptions that are mixed in with
them (for in everything human failure is a matter of course), and we
can also overlook the verbiage of a good deal of the mind-cure
literature, some of which is so moonstruck with optimism and so vaguely
expressed that an academically trained intellect finds it almost
impossible to read it at all.

The plain fact remains that the spread of the movement has been due to
practical fruits, and the extremely practical turn of character of the
American people has never been better shown than by the fact that this,
their only decidedly original contribution to the systematic philosophy
of life, should be so intimately knit up with concrete therapeutics.
To the importance of mind-cure the medical and clerical professions in
the United States are beginning, though with much recalcitrancy and
protesting, to open their eyes.  It is evidently bound to develop still
farther, both speculatively and practically, and its latest writers are
far and away the ablest of the group.[45] It matters nothing that, just
as there are hosts of persons who cannot pray, so there are greater
hosts who cannot by any possibility be influenced by the mind-curers'
ideas.  For our immediate purpose, the important point is that so large
a number should exist who CAN be so influenced.  They form a psychic
type to be studied with respect.[46]

[45] I refer to Mr. Horatio W. Dresser and Mr. Henry Wood, especially
the former.  Mr. Dresser's works are published by G.  P. Putnam's Sons,
New York and London; Mr. Wood's by Lee & Shepard Boston.

[46] Lest my own testimony be suspected, I will quote another reporter,
Dr. H. H. Goddard, of Clark University, whose thesis on "the Effects of
Mind on Body as evidenced by Faith Cures" is published in the American
Journal of Psychology for 1899 (vol.  x.).  This critic, after a wide
study of the facts, concludes that the cures by mind-cure exist, but
are in no respect different from those now officially recognized in
medicine as cures by suggestion; and the end of his essay contains an
interesting physiological speculation as to the way in which the
suggestive ideas may work (p. 67 of the reprint).  As regards the
general phenomenon of mental cure itself, Dr. Goddard writes: "In spite
of the severe criticism we have made of reports of cure, there still
remains a vast amount of material, showing a powerful influence of the
mind in disease.  Many cases are of diseases that have been diagnosed
and treated by the best physicians of the country, or which prominent
hospitals have tried their hand at curing, but without success.  People
of culture and education have been treated by this method with
satisfactory results.  Diseases of long standing have been ameliorated,
and even cured.... We have traced the mental element through primitive
medicine and folk-medicine of to-day, patent medicine, and witchcraft.
We are convinced that it is impossible to account for the existence of
these practices, if they did not cure disease, and that if they cured
disease, it must have been the mental element that was effective.  The
same argument applies to those modern schools of mental therapeutics--
Divine Healing and Christian Science.  It is hardly conceivable that
the large body of intelligent people who comprise the body known
distinctively as Mental Scientists should continue to exist if the
whole thing were a delusion.  It is not a thing of a day; it is not
confined to a few; it is not local.  It is true that many failures are
recorded, but that only adds to the argument.  There must be many and
striking successes to counterbalance the failures, otherwise the
failures would have ended the delusion....  Christian Science, Divine
Healing, or Mental Science do not, and never can in the very nature of
things, cure all diseases; nevertheless, the practical applications of
the general principles of the broadest mental science will tend to
prevent disease.... We do find sufficient evidence to convince us that
the proper reform in mental attitude would relieve many a sufferer of
ills that the ordinary physician cannot touch; would even delay the
approach of death to many a victim beyond the power of absolute cure,
and the faithful adherence to a truer philosophy of life will keep many
a man well, and give the doctor time to devote to alleviating ills that
are unpreventable" (pp.  33, 34 of reprint).

To come now to a little closer quarters with their creed.  The
fundamental pillar on which it rests is nothing more than the general
basis of all religious experience, the fact that man has a dual nature,
and is connected with two spheres of thought, a shallower and a
profounder sphere, in either of which he may learn to live more
habitually.  The shallower and lower sphere is that of the fleshly
sensations, instincts, and desires, of egotism, doubt, and the lower
personal interests.  But whereas Christian theology has always
considered FROWARDNESS to be the essential vice of this part of human
nature, the mind-curers say that the mark of the beast in it is FEAR;
and this is what gives such an entirely new religious turn to their

"Fear," to quote a writer of the school, "has had its uses in the
evolutionary process, and seems to constitute the whole of forethought
in most animals; but that it should remain any part of the mental
equipment of human civilized life is an absurdity.  I find that the
fear clement of forethought is not stimulating to those more civilized
persons to whom duty and attraction are the natural motives, but is
weakening and deterrent.  As soon as it becomes unnecessary, fear
becomes a positive deterrent, and should be entirely removed, as dead
flesh is removed from living tissue.  To assist in the analysis of fear
and in the denunciation of its expressions, I have coined the word
fearthought to stand for the unprofitable element of forethought, and
have defined the word 'worry' as fearthought in contradistinction to
forethought.  I have also defined fearthought as the self-imposed or
self-permitted suggestion of inferiority, in order to place it where it
really belongs, in the category of harmful, unnecessary, and therefore
not respectable things."[47]

[47] Horace Fletcher:  Happiness as found in Forethought Minus
Fearthought, Menticulture Series, ii.  Chicago and New York, Stone.
1897, pp. 21-25, abridged.

The "misery-habit," the "martyr-habit," engendered by the prevalent
"fearthought," get pungent criticism from the mind-cure writers:--

"Consider for a moment the habits of life into which we are born.

There are certain social conventions or customs and alleged
requirements, there is a theological bias, a general view of the world.
There are conservative ideas in regard to our early training, our
education, marriage, and occupation in life.  Following close upon
this, there is a long series of anticipations, namely, that we shall
suffer certain children's diseases, diseases of middle life, and of old
age; the thought that we shall grow old, lose our faculties, and again
become childlike; while crowning all is the fear of death.  Then there
is a long line of particular tears and trouble-bearing expectations,
such, for example, as ideas associated with certain articles of food,
the dread of the east wind, the terrors of hot weather, the aches and
pains associated with cold weather, the fear of catching cold if one
sits in a draught, the coming of hay-fever upon the 14th of August in
the middle of the day, and so on through a long list of fears, dreads,
worriments, anxieties, anticipations, expectations, pessimisms,
morbidities, and the whole ghostly train of fateful shapes which our
fellow-men, and especially physicians, are ready to help us conjure up,
an array worthy to rank with Bradley's 'unearthly ballet of bloodless

"Yet this is not all.  This vast array is swelled by innumerable
volunteers from daily life--the fear of accident, the possibility of
calamity, the loss of property, the chance of robbery, of fire, or the
outbreak of war.  And it is not deemed sufficient to fear for
ourselves.  When a friend is taken ill, we must forth with fear the
worst and apprehend death.  If one meets with sorrow ... sympathy means
to enter into and increase the suffering."[48]

[48] H. W. Dresser:  Voices of Freedom, New York, 1899, p. 38.

"Man," to quote another writer, "often has fear stamped upon him before
his entrance into the outer world; he is reared in fear; all his life
is passed in bondage to fear of disease and death, and thus his whole
mentality becomes cramped, limited, and depressed, and his body follows
its shrunken pattern and specification ... Think of the millions of
sensitive and responsive souls among our ancestors who have been under
the dominion of such a perpetual nightmare! Is it not surprising that
health exists at all?  Nothing but the boundless divine love?
exuberance, and vitality, constantly poured in, even though
unconsciously to us, could in some degree neutralize such an ocean of

[49] Henry Wood:  Ideal Suggestion through Mental Photography.  Boston,
1899, p. 54.

Although the disciples of the mind-cure often use Christian
terminology, one sees from such quotations how widely their notion of
the fall of man diverges from that of ordinary Christians.[50]

[50] Whether it differs so much from Christ's own notion is for the
exegetists to decide.  According to Harnack, Jesus felt about evil and
disease much as our mind-curers do.  "What is the answer which Jesus
sends to John the Baptist?" asks Harnack, and says it is this:  "'The
blind see, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf
hear, the dead rise up, and the gospel is preached to the poor.'  That
is the 'coming of the kingdom,' or rather in these saving works the
kingdom is already there.  By the overcoming and removal of misery, of
need, of sickness, by these actual effects John is to see that the new
time has arrived.  The casting out of devils is only a part of this
work of redemption, but Jesus points to that as the sense and seal of
his mission.  Thus to the wretched, sick, and poor did he address
himself, but not as a moralist, and without a trace of sentimentalism.
He never makes groups and departments of the ills, he never spends time
in asking whether the sick one 'deserves' to be cured; and it never
occurs to him to sympathize with the pain or the death.  He nowhere
says that sickness is a beneficent infliction, and that evil has a
healthy use.  No, he calls sickness sickness and health health.  All
evil, all wretchedness, is for him something dreadful; it is of the
great kingdom of Satan; but he feels the power of the saviour within
him.  He knows that advance is possible only when weakness is overcome,
when sickness is made well."  Das Wesen des Christenthums, 1900, p. 39.

Their notion of man's higher nature is hardly less divergent, being
decidedly pantheistic.  The spiritual in man appears in the mind-cure
philosophy as partly conscious, but chiefly subconscious; and through
the subconscious part of it we are already one with the Divine without
any miracle of grace, or abrupt creation of a new inner man.  As this
view is variously expressed by different writers, we find in it traces
of Christian mysticism, of transcendental idealism, of vedantism, and
of the modern psychology of the subliminal self.  A quotation or two
will put us at the central point of view:--

"The great central fact of the universe is that spirit of infinite life
and power that is back of all, that manifests itself in and through
all.  This spirit of infinite life and power that is back of all is
what I call God.  I care not what term you may use, be it Kindly Light,
Providence, the Over-Soul, Omnipotence, or whatever term may be most
convenient, so long as we are agreed in regard to the great central
fact itself.  God then fills the universe alone, so that all is from
Him and in Him, and there is nothing that is outside.  He is the life
of our life our very life itself.  We are partakers of the life of God;
and though we differ from Him in that we are individualized spirits,
while He is the Infinite Spirit, including us, as well as all else
beside, yet in essence the life of God and the life of man are
identically the same, and so are one.  They differ not in essence or
quality; they differ in degree.

"The great central fact in human life is the coming into a conscious
vital realization of our oneness with this Infinite Life and the
opening of ourselves fully to this divine inflow.  In just the degree
that we come into a conscious realization of our oneness with the
Infinite Life, and open ourselves to this divine inflow, do we
actualize in ourselves the qualities and powers of the Infinite Life,
do we make ourselves channels through which the Infinite Intelligence
and Power can work.  In just the degree in which you realize your
oneness with the Infinite Spirit, you will exchange dis-ease for ease,
inharmony for harmony, suffering and pain for abounding health and
strength.  To recognize our own divinity, and our intimate relation to
the Universal, is to attach the belts of our machinery to the
powerhouse of the Universe.  One need remain in hell no longer than one
chooses to; we can rise to any heaven we ourselves choose; and when we
choose so to rise, all the higher powers of the Universe combine to
help us heavenward."[51]

[51] R. W. Trine:  In Tune with the Infinite, 26th thousand, N.Y.
1899.  I have strung scattered passages together.

Let me now pass from these abstracter statements to some more concrete
accounts of experience with the mind-cure religion.  I have many
answers from correspondents--the only difficulty is to choose.  The
first two whom I shall quote are my personal friends.  One of them, a
woman, writing as follows, expresses well the feeling of continuity
with the Infinite Power, by which all mind-cure disciples are inspired.

"The first underlying cause of all sickness, weakness, or depression is
the human sense of separateness from that Divine Energy which we call
God.  The soul which can feel and affirm in serene but jubilant
confidence, as did the Nazarene:  'I and my Father are one,' has no
further need of healer, or of healing.  This is the whole truth in a
nutshell, and other foundation for wholeness can no man lay than this
fact of impregnable divine union.  Disease can no longer attack one
whose feet are planted on this rock, who feels hourly, momently, the
influx of the Deific Breath.  If one with Omnipotence, how can
weariness enter the consciousness, how illness assail that indomitable

"This possibility of annulling forever the law of fatigue has been
abundantly proven in my own case; for my earlier life bears a record of
many, many years of bedridden invalidism, with spine and lower limbs
paralyzed.  My thoughts were no more impure than they are to-day,
although my belief in the necessity of illness was dense and
unenlightened; but since my resurrection in the flesh, I have worked as
a healer unceasingly for fourteen years without a vacation, and can
truthfully assert that I have never known a moment of fatigue or pain,
although coming in touch constantly with excessive weakness, illness,
and disease of all kinds.  For how can a conscious part of Deity be
sick?--since 'Greater is he that is with us than all that can strive
against us.'"

My second correspondent, also a woman, sends me the following

"Life seemed difficult to me at one time.  I was always breaking down,
and had several attacks of what is called nervous prostration, with
terrible insomnia, being on the verge of insanity; besides having many
other troubles, especially of the digestive organs.  I had been sent
away from home in charge of doctors, had taken all the narcotics,
stopped all work, been fed up, and in fact knew all the doctors within
reach.  But I never recovered permanently till this New Thought took
possession of me.

"I think that the one thing which impressed me most was learning the
fact that we must be in absolutely constant relation or mental touch
(this word is to me very expressive) with that essence of life which
permeates all and which we call God. This is almost unrecognizable
unless we live it into ourselves ACTUALLY, that is, by a constant
turning to the very innermost, deepest consciousness of our real selves
or of God in us, for illumination from within, just as we turn to the
sun for light, warmth, and invigoration without.  When you do this
consciously, realizing that to turn inward to the light within you is
to live in the presence of God or your divine self, you soon discover
the unreality of the objects to which you have hitherto been turning
and which have engrossed you without.

"I have come to disregard the meaning of this attitude for bodily
health AS SUCH, because that comes of itself, as an incidental result,
and cannot be found by any special mental act or desire to have it,
beyond that general attitude of mind I have referred to above.  That
which we usually make the object of life, those outer things we are all
so wildly seeking, which we so often live and die for, but which then
do not give us peace and happiness, they should all come of themselves
as accessory, and as the mere outcome or natural result of a far higher
life sunk deep in the bosom of the spirit.  This life is the real
seeking of the kingdom of God, the desire for his supremacy in our
hearts, so that all else comes as that which shall be 'added unto
you'--as quite incidental and as a surprise to us, perhaps; and yet it
is the proof of the reality of the perfect poise in the very centre of
our being.

"When I say that we commonly make the object of our life that which we
should not work for primarily, I mean many things which the world
considers praiseworthy and excellent, such as success in business, fame
as author or artist, physician or lawyer, or renown in philanthropic
undertakings.  Such things should be results, not objects.  I would
also include pleasures of many kinds which seem harmless and good at
the time, and are pursued because many accept them--I mean
conventionalities, sociabilities, and fashions in their various
development, these being mostly approved by the masses, although they
may be unreal, and even unhealthy superfluities."

Here is another case, more concrete, also that of a woman. I read you
these cases without comment--they express so many varieties of the
state of mind we are studying.

"I had been a sufferer from my childhood till my fortieth year.
[Details of ill-health are given which I omit.] I had been in Vermont
several months hoping for good from the change of air, but steadily
growing weaker, when one day during the latter part of October, while
resting in the afternoon, I suddenly heard as it were these words:
'You will be healed and do a work you never dreamed of.'  These words
were impressed upon my mind with such power I said at once that only
God could have put them there.  I believed them in spite of myself and
of my suffering and weakness, which continued until Christmas, when I
returned to Boston.  Within two days a young friend offered to take me
to a mental healer (this was January 7, 1881).  The healer said: 'There
is nothing but Mind; we are expressions of the One Mind; body is only a
mortal belief; as a man thinketh so is he.' I could not accept all she
said, but I translated all that was there for ME in this way:  'There
is nothing but God; I am created by Him, and am absolutely dependent
upon Him; mind is given me to use; and by just so much of it as I will
put upon the thought of right action in body I  shall be lifted out of
bondage to my ignorance and fear and past experience.'  That day I
commenced accordingly to take a little of every food provided for the
family, constantly saying to myself:  'The Power that created the
stomach must take care of what I have eaten.'  By holding these
suggestions through the evening I went to bed and fell asleep, saying:
'I am soul, spirit, just one with God's Thought of me,' and slept all
night without waking, for the first time in several years [the
distress-turns had usually recurred about two o'clock in the night].  I
felt the next day like an escaped prisoner, and believed I had found
the secret that would in time give me perfect health.  Within ten days
I was able to eat anything provided for others, and after two weeks I
began to have my own positive mental suggestions of Truth, which were
to me like stepping-stones.  I will note a few of them, they came about
two weeks apart.

"1st.  I am Soul, therefore it is well with me.

"2d.  I am Soul, therefore I am well.

"3d.  A sort of inner vision of myself as a four-footed beast with a
protuberance on every part of my body where I had suffering, with my
own face, begging me to acknowledge it as myself.  I resolutely fixed
my attention on being well, and refused to even look at my old self in
this form.

"4th.  Again the vision of the beast far in the background, with faint
voice.  Again refusal to acknowledge.

"5th.  Once more the vision, but only of my eyes with the longing look;
and again the refusal.  Then came the conviction, the inner
consciousness, that I was perfectly well and always had been, for I was
Soul, an expression of God's Perfect Thought.  That was to me the
perfect and completed separation between what I was and what I appeared
to be.  I succeeded in never losing sight after this of my real being,
by constantly affirming this truth, and by degrees (though it took me
two years of hard work to get there) I expressed health continuously
throughout my whole body.

"In my subsequent nineteen years' experience I have never known this
Truth to fail when I applied it, though in my ignorance I have often
failed to apply it, but through my failures I have learned the
simplicity and trustfulness of the little child."

But I fear that I risk tiring you by so many examples, and I must lead
you back to philosophic generalities again.  You see already by such
records of experience how impossible it is not to class mind-cure as
primarily a religious movement.  Its doctrine of the oneness of our
life with God's life is in fact quite indistinguishable from an
interpretation of Christ's message which in these very Gifford lectures
has been defended by some of your very ablest Scottish religious

[52] The Cairds, for example.  In Edward Caird's Glasgow Lectures of
1890-92 passages like this abound:--

"The declaration made in the beginning of the ministry of Jesus that
'the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand,' passes
with scarce a break into the announcement that 'the kingdom of God is
among you'; and the importance of this announcement is asserted to be
such that it makes, so to speak, a difference IN KIND between the
greatest saints and prophets who lived under the previous reign of
division, and 'the least in the kingdom of heaven.'  The highest ideal
is brought close to men and declared to be within their reach, they are
called on to be 'perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect.'  The
sense of alienation and distance from God which had grown upon the
pious in Israel just in proportion as they had learned to look upon Him
as no mere national divinity, but as a God of justice who would punish
Israel for its sin as certainly as Edom or Moab, is declared to be no
longer in place; and the typical form of Christian prayer points to the
abolition of the contrast between this world and the next which through
all the history of the Jews had continually been growing wider:  'As in
heaven, so on earth.' The sense of the division of man from God, as a
finite being from the Infinite, as weak and sinful from the Omnipotent
Goodness, is not indeed lost; but it can no longer overpower the
consciousness of oneness.  The terms 'Son' and 'Father' at once state
the opposition and mark its limit.  They show that it is not an
absolute opposition, but one which presupposes an indestructible
principle of unity, that can and must become a principle of
reconciliation." The Evolution of Religion, ii.  pp. 146, 147.

But philosophers usually profess to give a quasi-logical explanation of
the existence of evil, whereas of the general fact of evil in the
world, the existence of the selfish, suffering, timorous finite
consciousness, the mind-curers, so far as I am acquainted with them,
profess to give no speculative explanation Evil is empirically there
for them as it is for everybody, but the practical point of view
predominates, and it would ill agree with the spirit of their system to
spend time in worrying over it as a "mystery" or "problem," or in
"laying to heart" the lesson of its experience, after the manner of the
Evangelicals.  Don't reason about it, as Dante says, but give a glance
and pass beyond!  It is Avidhya, ignorance! something merely to be
outgrown and left be hind, transcended and forgotten.  Christian
Science so-called, the sect of Mrs. Eddy, is the most radical branch of
mind-cure in its dealings with evil.  For it evil is simply a LIE, and
any one who mentions it is a liar.  The optimistic ideal of duty
forbids us to pay it the compliment even of explicit attention.  Of
course, as our next lectures will show us, this is a bad speculative
omission, but it is intimately linked with the practical merits of the
system we are examining.  Why regret a philosophy of evil, a mind-curer
would ask us, if I can put you in possession of a life of good?

After all, it is the life that tells; and mind-cure has developed a
living system of mental hygiene which may well claim to have thrown all
previous literature of the Diatetit der Seele into the shade.  This
system is wholly and exclusively compacted of optimism:  "Pessimism
leads to weakness. Optimism leads to power."    "Thoughts are things,"
as one of the most vigorous mind-cure writers prints in bold type at
the bottom of each of his pages; and if your thoughts are of health,
youth, vigor, and success, before you know it these things will also be
your outward portion.  No one can fail of the regenerative influence of
optimistic thinking, pertinaciously pursued.  Every man owns
indefeasibly this inlet to the divine.  Fear, on the contrary, and all
the contracted and egoistic modes of thought, are inlets to
destruction.  Most mind-curers here bring in a doctrine that thoughts
are "forces," and that, by virtue of a law that like attracts like, one
man's thoughts draw to themselves as allies all the thoughts of the
same character that exist the world over.  Thus one gets, by one's
thinking, reinforcements from elsewhere for the realization of one's
desires; and the great point in the conduct of life is to get the
heavenly forces on one's side by opening one's own mind to their influx.

On the whole, one is struck by a psychological similarity between the
mind-cure movement and the Lutheran and Wesleyan movements.  To the
believer in moralism and works, with his anxious query, "What shall I
do to be saved?"  Luther and Wesley replied:  "You are saved now, if
you would but believe it."  And the mind-curers come with precisely
similar words of emancipation.  They speak, it is true, to persons for
whom the conception of salvation has lost its ancient theological
meaning, but who labor nevertheless with the same eternal human
difficulty.  THINGS ARE WRONG WITH THEM; and "What shall I do to be
clear, right, sound, whole, well?" is the form of their question.  And
the answer is:  "You ARE well, sound, and clear already, if you did but
know it." "The whole matter may be summed up in one sentence," says one
of the authors whom I have already quoted, "GOD IS WELL, AND SO ARE
YOU.  You must awaken to the knowledge of your real being."

The adequacy of their message to the mental needs of a large fraction
of mankind is what gave force to those earlier gospels.  Exactly the
same adequacy holds in the case of the mind-cure message, foolish as it
may sound upon its surface; and seeing its rapid growth in influence,
and its therapeutic triumphs, one is tempted to ask whether it may not
be destined (probably by very reason of the crudity and extravagance of
many of its manifestations[53]) to play a part almost  as great in the
evolution of the popular religion of the future as did those earlier
movements in their day.

[53] It remains to be seen whether the school of Mr. Dresser, which
assumes more and more the form of mind-cure experience and academic
philosophy mutually impregnating each other, will score the practical
triumphs of the less critical and rational sects.

But I here fear that I may begin to "jar upon the nerves" of some of
the members of this academic audience.  Such contemporary vagaries, you
may think, should hardly take so large a place in dignified Gifford
lectures.  I can only beseech you to have patience.  The whole outcome
of these lectures will, I imagine, be the emphasizing to your mind of
the enormous diversities which the spiritual lives of different men
exhibit.  Their wants, their susceptibilities, and their capacities all
vary and must be classed under different heads.  The result is that we
have really different types of religious experience; and, seeking in
these lectures closer acquaintance with the healthy-minded type, we
must take it where we find it in most radical form.  The psychology of
individual types of character has hardly begun even to be sketched as
yet--our lectures may possibly serve as a crumb-like contribution to
the structure.  The first thing to bear in mind (especially if we
ourselves belong to the clerico-academic-scientific type, the
officially and conventionally "correct" type, "the deadly respectable"
type, for which to ignore others is a besetting temptation) is that
nothing can be more stupid than to bar out phenomena from our notice,
merely because we are incapable of taking part in anything like them

Now the history of Lutheran salvation by faith, of methodistic
conversions, and of what I call the mind-cure movement seems to prove
the existence of numerous persons in whom--at any rate at a certain
stage in their development--a change of character for the better, so
far from being facilitated by the rules laid down by official
moralists, will take place all the more successfully if those rules be
exactly reversed.  Official moralists advise us never to relax our
strenuousness.  "Be vigilant, day and night," they adjure us; "hold
your passive tendencies in check; shrink from no effort; keep your will
like a bow always bent."  But the persons I speak of find that all this
conscious effort leads to nothing but failure and vexation in their
hands, and only makes them twofold more the children of hell they were
before.  The tense and voluntary attitude becomes in them an impossible
fever and torment.  Their machinery refuses to run at all when the
bearings are made so hot and the belts so tight.

Under these circumstances the way to success, as vouched for by
innumerable authentic personal narrations, is by an anti-moralistic
method, by the "surrender" of which I spoke in my second lecture.
Passivity, not activity; relaxation, not intentness, should be now the
rule.  Give up the feeling of responsibility, let go your hold, resign
the care of your destiny to higher powers, be genuinely indifferent as
to what becomes of it all, and you will find not only that you gain a
perfect inward relief, but often also, in addition, the particular
goods you sincerely thought you were renouncing. This is the salvation
through self-despair, the dying to be truly born, of Lutheran theology,
the passage into NOTHING of which Jacob Behmen writes.  To get to it, a
critical point must usually be passed, a corner turned within one.
Something must give way, a native hardness must break down and liquefy;
and this event (as we shall abundantly see hereafter) is frequently
sudden and automatic, and leaves on the Subject an impression that he
has been wrought on by an external power.

Whatever its ultimate significance may prove to be, this is certainly
one fundamental form of human experience. Some say that the capacity or
incapacity for it is what divides the religious from the merely
moralistic character. With those who undergo it in its fullness, no
criticism avails to cast doubt on its reality.  They KNOW; for they
have actually FELT the higher powers, in giving up the tension of their
personal will.

A story which revivalist preachers often tell is that of a man who
found himself at night slipping down the side of a precipice.

At last he caught a branch which stopped his fall, and remained
clinging to it in misery for hours.  But finally his fingers had to
loose their hold, and with a despairing farewell to life, he let
himself drop.  He fell just six inches.  If he had given up the
struggle earlier, his agony would have been spared.  As the mother
earth received him, so, the preachers tell us, will the everlasting
arms receive us if we confide absolutely in them, and give up the
hereditary habit of relying on our personal strength, with its
precautions that cannot shelter and safeguards that never save.

The mind-curers have given the widest scope to this sort of experience.
They have demonstrated that a form of regeneration by relaxing, by
letting go, psychologically indistinguishable from the Lutheran
justification by faith and the Wesleyan acceptance of free grace, is
within the reach of persons who have no conviction of sin and care
nothing for the Lutheran theology.  It is but giving your little
private convulsive self a rest, and finding that a greater Self is
there.  The results, slow or sudden, or great or small, of the combined
optimism and expectancy, the regenerative phenomena which ensue on the
abandonment of effort, remain firm facts of human nature, no matter
whether we adopt a theistic, a pantheistic-idealistic, or a
medical-materialistic view of their ultimate causal explanation.[54]

[54] The theistic explanation is by divine grace, which creates a new
nature within one the moment the old nature is sincerely given up.  The
pantheistic explanation (which is that of most mind-curers) is by the
merging of the narrower private self into the wider or greater self,
the spirit of the universe (which is your own "subconscious" self), the
moment the isolating barriers of mistrust and anxiety are removed.  The
medico-materialistic explanation is that simpler cerebral processes act
more freely where they are left to act automatically by the
shunting-out of physiologically (though in this instance not
spiritually) "higher" ones which, seeking to regulate, only succeed in
inhibiting results.--Whether this third explanation might, in a
psycho-physical account of the universe, be combined with either of the
others may be left an open question here.

When we take up the phenomena of revivalistic conversion, we shall
learn something more about all this.  Meanwhile I will say a brief word
about the mind-curer's METHODS.

They are of course largely suggestive.  The suggestive influence of
environment plays an enormous part in all spiritual education.

But the word "suggestion," having acquired official status, is
unfortunately already beginning to play in many quarters the part of a
wet blanket upon investigation, being used to fend off all inquiry into
the varying susceptibilities of individual cases.  "Suggestion" is only
another name for the power of ideas, SO FAR AS THEY PROVE EFFICACIOUS
OVER BELIEF AND CONDUCT.  Ideas efficacious over some people prove
inefficacious over others.  Ideas efficacious at some times and in some
human surroundings are not so at other times and elsewhere.  The ideas
of Christian churches are not efficacious in the therapeutic direction
to-day, whatever they may have been in earlier centuries; and when the
whole question is as to why the salt has lost its savor here or gained
it there, the mere blank waving of the word "suggestion" as if it were
a banner gives no light.  Dr. Goddard, whose candid psychological essay
on Faith Cures ascribes them to nothing but ordinary suggestion,
concludes by saying that "Religion [and by this he seems to mean our
popular Christianity] has in it all there is in mental therapeutics,
and has it in its best form.  Living up to [our religious] ideas will
do anything for us that can be done."  And this in spite of the actual
fact that the popular Christianity does absolutely NOTHING, or did
nothing until mind-cure came to the rescue.[55]

[55] Within the churches a disposition has always prevailed to regard
sickness as a visitation; something sent by God for our good, either as
chastisement, as warning, or as opportunity for exercising virtue, and,
in the Catholic Church, of earning "merit."  "Illness," says a good
Catholic writer P. Lejeune: (Introd. a la Vie Mystique, 1899, p. 218),
"is the most excellent corporeal mortifications, the mortification
which one has not one's self chosen, which is imposed directly by God,
and is the direct expression of his will.  'If other mortifications are
of silver,'  Mgr. Gay says, 'this one is of gold; since although it
comes of ourselves, coming as it does of original sin, still on its
greater side, as coming (like all that happens) from the providence of
God, it is of divine manufacture.  And how just are its blows!  And how
efficacious it is! ... I do not hesitate to say that patience in a long
illness is mortification's very masterpiece, and consequently the
triumph of mortified souls.'" According to this view, disease should in
any case be submissively accepted, and it might under certain
circumstances even be blasphemous to wish it away.

Of course there have been exceptions to this, and cures by special
miracle have at all times been recognized within the church's pale,
almost all the great saints having more or less performed them.  It was
one of the heresies of Edward Irving, to maintain them still to be
possible.  An extremely pure faculty of healing after confession and
conversion on the patient's part, and prayer on the priest's, was quite
spontaneously developed in the German pastor, Joh. Christoph Blumhardt,
in the early forties and exerted during nearly thirty years.
Blumhardt's Life by Zundel (5th edition, Zurich, 1887) gives in
chapters ix., x., xi., and xvii.  a pretty full account of his healing
activity, which he invariably ascribed to direct divine interposition.
Blumhardt was a singularly pure, simple, and non-fanatical character,
and in this part of his work followed no previous model.  In Chicago
to-day we have the case of Dr. J. A. Dowie, a Scottish Baptist
preacher, whose weekly "Leaves of Healing" were in the year of grace
1900 in their sixth volume, and who, although he denounces the cures
wrought in other sects as "diabolical counterfeits" of his own
exclusively "Divine Healing," must on the whole be counted into the
mind-cure movement.  In mind-cure circles the fundamental article of
faith is that disease should never be accepted. It is wholly of the
pit.  God wants us to be absolutely healthy, and we should not tolerate
ourselves on any lower terms.

An idea, to be suggestive, must come to the individual with the force
of a revelation.  The mind-cure with its gospel of healthy-mindedness
has come as a revelation to many whose hearts the church Christianity
had left hardened.  It has let loose their springs of higher life.  In
what can the originality of any religious movement consist, save in
finding a channel, until then sealed up, through which those springs
may be set free in some group of human beings?

The force of personal faith, enthusiasm, and example, and above all the
force of novelty, are always the prime suggestive agency in this kind
of success.  If mind-cure should ever become official, respectable, and
intrenched, these elements of suggestive efficacy will be lost.  In its
acuter stages every religion must be a homeless Arab of the desert.
The church knows this well enough, with its everlasting inner struggle
of the acute religion of the few against the chronic religion of the
many, indurated into an obstructiveness worse than that which
irreligion opposes to the movings of the Spirit.  "We may pray," says
Jonathan Edwards, "concerning all those saints that are not lively
Christians, that they may either be enlivened, or taken away; if that
be true that is often said by some at this day, that these cold dead
saints do more hurt than natural men, and lead more souls to hell, and
that it would be well for mankind if they were all dead."[56]

[56] Edwards, from whose book on the Revival in New England I quote
these words, dissuades from such a use of prayer, but it is easy to see
that he enjoys making his thrust at the cold dead church members.

The next condition of success is the apparent existence, in large
numbers, of minds who unite healthy-mindedness with readiness for
regeneration by letting go.  Protestantism has been too pessimistic as
regards the natural man, Catholicism has been too legalistic and
moralistic, for either the one or the other to appeal in any generous
way to the type of character formed of this peculiar mingling of
elements. However few of us here present may belong to such a type, it
is now evident that it forms a specific moral combination, well
represented in the world.

Finally, mind-cure has made what in our protestant countries is an
unprecedentedly great use of the subconscious life.  To their reasoned
advice and dogmatic assertion, its founders have added systematic
exercise in passive relaxation, concentration, and meditation, and have
even invoked something like hypnotic practice.  I quote some passages
at random:--

"The value, the potency of ideals is the great practical truth on which
the New Thought most strongly insists--the development namely from
within outward, from small to great.[57] Consequently one's thought
should be centred on the ideal outcome, even though this trust be
literally like a step in the dark.[58] To attain the ability thus
effectively to direct the mind, the New Thought advises the practice of
concentration, or in other words, the attainment of self-control.  One
is to learn to marshal the tendencies of the mind, so that they may be
held together as a unit by the chosen ideal.  To this end, one should
set apart times for silent meditation, by one's self, preferably in a
room where the surroundings are favorable to spiritual thought.  In New
Thought terms, this is called 'entering the silence.'"[59]

[57] H. W. DRESSER:  Voices of Freedom, 46.

[58] Dresser:  Living by the spirit, 58.

[59] Dresser:  Voices of Freedom, 33.

"The time will come when in the busy office or on the noisy street you
can enter into the silence by simply drawing the mantle of your own
thoughts about you and realizing that there and everywhere the Spirit
of Infinite Life, Love, Wisdom, Peace, Power, and Plenty is guiding,
keeping, protecting, leading you.  This is the spirit of continual
prayer.[60] One of the most intuitive men we ever met had a desk at a
city office where several other gentlemen were doing business
constantly, and often talking loudly.  Entirely undisturbed by the many
various sounds about him, this self-centred faithful man would, in any
moment of perplexity, draw the curtains of privacy so completely about
him that he would be as fully inclosed in his own psychic aura, and
thereby as effectually removed from all distractions, as though he were
alone in some primeval wood.  Taking his difficulty with him into the
mystic silence in the form of a direct question, to which he expected a
certain answer, he would remain utterly passive until the reply came,
and never once through many years' experience did he find himself
disappointed or misled."[61]

[60] Trine:  In Tune with the Infinite, p. 214

[61] Trine:  p. 117.

Wherein, I should like to know, does this INTRINSICALLY differ from the
practice of "recollection" which plays so great a part in Catholic
discipline?  Otherwise called the practice of the presence of God (and
so known among ourselves, as for instance in Jeremy Taylor), it is thus
defined by the eminent teacher Alvarez de Paz in his work on

"It is the recollection of God, the thought of God, which in all places
and circumstances makes us see him present, lets us commune
respectfully and lovingly with him, and fills us with desire and
affection for him....  Would you escape from every ill?  Never lose
this recollection of God, neither in prosperity nor in adversity, nor
on any occasion whichsoever it be. Invoke not, to excuse yourself from
this duty, either the difficulty or the importance of your business,
for you can always remember that God sees you, that you are under his
eye.  If a thousand times an hour you forget him, reanimate a thousand
times the recollection.

If you cannot practice this exercise continuously, at least make
yourself as familiar with it as possible; and, like unto those who in a
rigorous winter draw near the fire as often as they can, go as often as
you can to that ardent fire which will warm your soul."[62]

[62] Quoted by Lejeune:  Introd. a la vie Mystique, 1899, p. 66.

All the external associations of the Catholic discipline are of course
unlike anything in mind-cure thought, but the purely spiritual part of
the exercise is identical in both communions, and in both communions
those who urge it write with authority, for they have evidently
experienced in their own persons that whereof they tell.  Compare again
some mind-cure utterances:--

"High, healthful, pure thinking can be encouraged, promoted, and
strengthened.  Its current can be turned upon grand ideals until it
forms a habit and wears a channel.  By means of such discipline the
mental horizon can be flooded with the sunshine of beauty, wholeness,
and harmony.  To inaugurate pure and lofty thinking may at first seem
difficult, even almost mechanical, but perseverance will at length
render it easy, then pleasant, and finally delightful.

"The soul's real world is that which it has built of its thoughts,
mental states, and imaginations.  If we WILL, we can turn our backs
upon the lower and sensuous plane, and lift ourselves into the realm of
the spiritual and Real, and there gain a residence.  The assumption of
states of expectancy and receptivity will attract spiritual sunshine,
and it will flow in as naturally as air inclines to a vacuum....
Whenever the though; is not occupied with one's daily duty or
profession, it should he sent aloft into the spiritual atmosphere.
There are quiet leisure moments by day, and wakeful hours at night,
when this wholesome and delightful exercise may be engaged in to great
advantage.  If one who has never made any systematic effort to lift and
control the thought-forces will, for a single month, earnestly pursue
the course here suggested, he will be surprised and delighted at the
result, and nothing will induce him to go back to careless, aimless,
and superficial thinking.  At such favorable seasons the outside world,
with all its current of daily events, is barred out, and one goes into
the silent sanctuary of the inner temple of soul to commune and aspire.
The spiritual hearing becomes delicately sensitive, so that the 'still,
small voice' is audible, the tumultuous waves of external sense are
hushed, and there is a great calm.  The ego gradually becomes conscious
that it is face to face with the Divine Presence; that mighty, healing,
loving, Fatherly life which is nearer to us than we are to ourselves.
There is soul contact with the Parent- Soul, and an influx of life,
love, virtue, health, and happiness from the Inexhaustible

[63] HENRY Wood:  Ideal suggestion through Mental Photography, pp. 51,
70 (abridged).

When we reach the subject of mysticism, you will undergo so deep an
immersion into these exalted states of consciousness as to be wet all
over, if I may so express myself; and the cold shiver of doubt with
which this little sprinkling may affect you will have long since passed
away-- doubt, I mean, as to whether all such writing be not mere
abstract talk and rhetoric set down pour encourager les autres.  You
will then be convinced, I trust, that these states of consciousness of
"union" form a perfectly definite class of experiences, of which the
soul may occasionally partake, and which certain persons may live by in
a deeper sense than they live by anything else with which they have
acquaintance.  This brings me to a general philosophical reflection
with which I should like to pass from the subject of
healthy-mindedness, and close a topic which I fear is already only too
long drawn out.  It concerns the relation of all this systematized
healthy-mindedness and mind-cure religion to scientific method and the
scientific life.

In a later lecture I shall have to treat explicitly of the relation of
religion to science on the one hand, and to primeval savage thought on
the other.  There are plenty of persons to-day--"scientists" or
"positivists," they are fond of calling themselves--who will tell you
that religious thought is a mere survival, an atavistic reversion to a
type of consciousness which humanity in its more enlightened examples
has long since left behind and out-grown.  If you ask them to explain
themselves more fully, they will probably say that for primitive
thought everything is conceived of under the form of personality.  The
savage thinks that things operate by personal forces, and for the sake
of individual ends.  For him, even external nature obeys individual
needs and claims, just as if these were so many elementary powers.  Now
science, on the other hand, these positivists say, has proved that
personality, so far from being an elementary force in nature, is but a
passive resultant of the really elementary forces, physical, chemical,
physiological, and psycho-physical, which are all impersonal and
general in character.  Nothing individual accomplishes anything in the
universe save in so far as it obeys and exemplifies some universal law.
Should you then inquire of them by what means science has thus
supplanted primitive thought, and discredited its personal way of
looking at things, they would undoubtedly say it has been by the strict
use of the method of experimental verification.  Follow out science's
conceptions practically, they will say, the conceptions that ignore
personality altogether, and you will always be corroborated.  The world
is so made that all your expectations will be experientially verified
so long, and only so long, as you keep the terms from which you infer
them impersonal and universal.

But here we have mind-cure, with her diametrically opposite philosophy,
setting up an exactly identical claim.  Live as if I were true, she
says, and every day will practically prove you right.  That the
controlling energies of nature are personal, that your own personal
thoughts are forces, that the powers of the universe will directly
respond to your individual appeals and needs, are propositions which
your whole bodily and mental experience will verify.  And that
experience does largely verify these primeval religious ideas is proved
by the fact that the mind-cure movement spreads as it does, not by
proclamation and assertion simply, but by palpable experiential
results.  Here, in the very heyday of science's authority, it carries
on an aggressive warfare against the scientific philosophy, and
succeeds by using science's own peculiar methods and weapons.
Believing that a higher power will take care of us in certain ways
better than we can take care of ourselves, if we only genuinely throw
ourselves upon it and consent to use it, it finds the belief, not only
not impugned, but corroborated by its observation.

How conversions are thus made, and converts confirmed, is evident
enough from the narratives which I have quoted. I will quote yet
another couple of shorter ones to give the matter a perfectly concrete
turn.  Here is one:--

"One of my first experiences in applying my teaching was two months
after I first saw the healer.  I fell, spraining my right ankle, which
I had done once four years before, having then had to use a crutch and
elastic anklet for some months, and carefully guarding it ever since.
As soon as I was on my feet I made the positive suggestion (and felt it
through all my being):  'There is nothing but God, and all life comes
from him perfectly.  I cannot be sprained or hurt, I will let him take
care of it.' Well, I never had a sensation in it, and I walked two
miles that day."

The next case not only illustrates experiment and verification, but
also the element of passivity and surrender of which awhile ago I made
such account.

"I went into town to do some shopping one morning, and I had not been
gone long before I began to feel ill.  The ill feeling increased
rapidly, until I had pains in all my bones, nausea and faintness,
headache, all the symptoms in short that precede an attack of
influenza.  I thought that I was going to have the grippe, epidemic
then in Boston, or something worse.  The mind-cure teachings that I had
been listening to all the winter thereupon came into my mind, and I
thought that here was an opportunity to test myself.  On my way home I
met a friend, I refrained with some effort from telling her how I felt.
That was the first step gained.  I went to bed immediately, and my
husband wished to send for the doctor.  But I told him that I would
rather wait until morning and see how I felt.  Then followed one of the
most beautiful experiences of my life.

"I cannot express it in any other way than to say that I did 'lie down
in the stream of life and let it flow over me.'  I gave up all fear of
any impending disease; I was perfectly willing and obedient.  There was
no intellectual effort, or train of thought.

My dominant idea was:  'Behold the handmaid of the Lord:  be it unto me
even as thou wilt,' and a perfect confidence that all would be well,
that all WAS well.  The creative life was flowing into me every
instant, and I felt myself allied with the Infinite, in harmony, and
full of the peace that passeth understanding.  There was no place in my
mind for a jarring body.  I had no consciousness of time or space or
persons; but only of love and happiness and faith.

"I do not know how long this state lasted, nor when I fell asleep; but
when I woke up in the morning, I WAS WELL."

These are exceedingly trivial instances,[64] but in them, if we have
anything at all, we have the method of experiment and verification.
For the point I am driving at now, it makes no difference whether you
consider the patients to be deluded victims of their imagination or
not.  That they seemed to THEMSELVES to have been cured by the
experiments tried was enough to make them converts to the system.  And
although it is evident that one must be of a certain mental mould to
get such results (for not every one can get thus cured to his own
satisfaction any more than every one can be cured by the first regular
practitioner whom he calls in), yet it would surely be pedantic and
over-scrupulous for those who CAN get their savage and primitive
philosophy of mental healing verified in such experimental ways as
this, to give them up at word of command for more scientific

What are we to think of all this?  Has science made too wide a claim?

[64] See Appendix to this lecture for two other cases furnished me by

I believe that the claims of the sectarian scientist are, to say the
least, premature.  The experiences which we have been studying during
this hour (and a great many other kinds of religious experiences are
like them) plainly show the universe to be a more many-sided affair
than any sect, even the scientific sect, allows for.  What, in the end,
are all our verifications but experiences that agree with more or less
isolated systems of ideas (conceptual systems) that our minds have
framed?  But why in the name of common sense need we assume that only
one such system of ideas can be true?  The obvious outcome of our total
experience is that the world can be handled according to many systems
of ideas, and is so handled by different men, and will each time give
some characteristic kind of profit, for which he cares, to the handler,
while at the same time some other kind of profit has to be omitted or
postponed.  Science gives to all of us telegraphy, electric lighting,
and diagnosis, and succeeds in preventing and curing a certain amount
of disease. Religion in the shape of mind-cure gives to some of us
serenity, moral poise, and happiness, and prevents certain forms of
disease as well as science does, or even better in a certain class of
persons.  Evidently, then, the science and the religion are both of
them genuine keys for unlocking the world's treasure-house to him who
can use either of them practically.  Just as evidently neither is
exhaustive or exclusive of the other's simultaneous use.  And why,
after all, may not the world be so complex as to consist of many
interpenetrating spheres of reality, which we can thus approach in
alternation by using different conceptions and assuming different
attitudes, just as mathematicians handle the same numerical and spatial
facts by geometry, by analytical geometry, by algebra, by the calculus,
or by quaternions, and each time come out right?  On this view religion
and science, each verified in its own way from hour to hour and from
life to life, would be co-eternal.  Primitive thought, with its belief
in individualized personal forces, seems at any rate as far as ever
from being driven by science from the field to-day.  Numbers of
educated people still find it the directest experimental channel by
which to carry on their intercourse with reality.[65]

[65] Whether the various spheres or systems are ever to fuse integrally
into one absolute conception, as most philosophers assume that they
must, and how, if so, that conception may best be reached, are
questions that only the future can answer.  What is certain now is the
fact of lines of disparate conception, each corresponding to some part
of the world's truth, each verified in some degree, each leaving out
some part of real experience.

The case of mind-cure lay so ready to my hand that I could not resist
the temptation of using it to bring these last truths home to your
attention, but I must content myself to-day with this very brief
indication.  In a later lecture the relations of religion both to
science and to primitive thought will have to receive much more
explicit attention.



(See note [64].)

CASE I.  "My own experience is this:  I had long been ill, and one of
the first results of my illness, a dozen years before, had been a
diplopia which deprived me of the use of my eyes for reading and
writing almost entirely, while a later one had been to shut me out from
exercise of any kind under penalty of immediate and great exhaustion.
I had been under the care of doctors of the highest standing both in
Europe and America, men in whose power to help me I had had great
faith, with no or ill result.  Then, at a time when I seemed to be
rather rapidly losing ground, I heard some things that gave me interest
enough in mental healing to make me try it; I had no great hope of
getting any good from it--it was a CHANCE I tried, partly because my
thought was interested by the new possibility it seemed to open, partly
because it was the only chance I then could see. I went to X in Boston,
from whom some friends of mine had got, or thought they had got, great
help; the treatment was a silent one; little was said, and that little
carried no conviction to my mind, whatever influence was exerted was
that of another person's thought or feeling silently projected on to my
unconscious mind, into my nervous system as it were, as we sat still
together.  I believed from the start in the POSSIBILITY of such action,
for I knew the power of the mind to shape, helping or hindering, the
body's nerve-activities, and I thought telepathy probable, although
unproved, but I had no belief in it as more than a possibility, and no
strong conviction nor any mystic or religious faith connected with my
thought of it that might have brought imagination strongly into play.

"I sat quietly with the healer for half an hour each day, at first with
no result; then, after ten days or so, I became quite suddenly and
swiftly conscious of a tide of new energy rising within me, a sense of
power to pass beyond old halting-places, of power to break the bounds
that, though often tried before, had long been veritable walls about my
life, too high to climb.  I began to read and walk as I had not done
for years, and the change was sudden, marked, and unmistakable.  This
tide seemed to mount for some weeks, three or four perhaps, when,
summer having come, I came away, taking the treatment up again a few
months later.  The lift I got proved permanent, and left me slowly
gaining ground instead of losing, it but with this lift the influence
seemed in a way to have spent itself, and, though my confidence in the
reality of the power had gained immensely from this first experience,
and should have helped me to make further gain in health and strength
if my belief in it had been the potent factor there, I never after this
got any result at all as striking or as clearly marked as this which
came when I made trial of it first, with little faith and doubtful
expectation.  It is difficult to put all the evidence in such a matter
into words, to gather up into a distinct statement all that one bases
one's conclusions on, but I have always felt that I had abundant
evidence to justify (to myself, at least) the conclusion that I came to
then, and since have held to, that the physical change which came at
that time was, first, the result of a change wrought within me by a
change of mental state; and secondly, that that change of mental state
was not, save in a very secondary way, brought about through the
influence of an excited imagination, or a CONSCIOUSLY received
suggestion of an hypnotic sort.  Lastly, I believe that this change was
the result of my receiving telephathically, and upon a mental stratum
quite below the level of immediate consciousness, a healthier and more
energetic attitude, receiving it from another person whose thought was
directed upon me with the intention of impressing the idea of this
attitude upon me.  In my case the disease was distinctly what would be
classed as nervous, not organic; but from such opportunities as I have
had of observing, I have come to the conclusion that the dividing line
that has been drawn is an arbitrary one, the nerves controlling the
internal activities and the nutrition of the body throughout; and I
believe that the central nervous system, by starting and inhibiting
local centres, can exercise a vast influence upon disease of any kind,
if it can be brought to bear.  In my judgment the question is simply
how to bring it to bear, and I think that the uncertainty and
remarkable differences in the results obtained through mental healing
do but show how ignorant we are as yet of the forces at work and of the
means we should take to make them effective.  That these results are
not due to chance coincidences my observation of myself and others
makes me sure; that the conscious mind, the imagination, enters into
them as a factor in many cases is doubtless true, but in many others,
and sometimes very extraordinary ones, it hardly seems to enter in at
all.  On the whole I am inclined to think that as the healing action,
like the morbid one, springs from the plane of the normally UNconscious
mind, so the strongest and most effective impressions are those which
IT receives, in some as yet unknown subtle way, DIRECTLY from a
healthier mind whose state, through a hidden law of sympathy, it

CASE II.  "At the urgent request of friends, and with no faith and
hardly any hope (possibly owing to a previous unsuccessful experience
with a Christian Scientist), our little daughter was placed under the
care of a healer, and cured of a trouble about which the physician had
been very discouraging in his diagnosis.  This interested me, and I
began studying earnestly the method and philosophy of this method of
healing.  Gradually an inner peace and tranquillity came to me in so
positive a way that my manner changed greatly.  My children and friends
noticed the change and commented upon it.  All feelings of irritability
disappeared.  Even the expression of my face changed noticeably.

"I had been bigoted, aggressive, and intolerant in discussion, both in
public and private.  I grew broadly tolerant and receptive toward the
views of others.  I had been nervous and irritable, coming home two or
three times a week with a sick headache induced, as I then supposed, by
dyspepsia and catarrh.  I grew serene and gentle, and the physical
troubles entirely disappeared.  I had been in the habit of approaching
every business interview with an almost morbid dread.  I now meet every
one with confidence and inner calm.

"I may say that the growth has all been toward the elimination of
selfishness.  I do not mean simply the grosser, more sensual forms, but
those subtler and generally unrecognized kinds, such as express
themselves in sorrow, grief, regret, envy, etc. It has been in the
direction of a practical, working realization of the immanence of God
and the Divinity of man's true, inner self.

Lectures VI and VII


At our last meeting, we considered the healthy-minded temperament, the
temperament which has a constitutional incapacity for prolonged
suffering, and in which the tendency to see things optimistically is
like a water of crystallization in which the individual's character is
set.  We saw how this temperament may become the basis for a peculiar
type of religion, a religion in which good, even the good of this
world's life, is regarded as the essential thing for a rational being
to attend to.  This religion directs him to settle his scores with the
more evil aspects of the universe by systematically declining to lay
them to heart or make much of them, by ignoring them in his reflective
calculations, or even, on occasion, by denying outright that they
exist.  Evil is a disease; and worry over disease is itself an
additional form of disease, which only adds to the original complaint.
Even repentance and remorse, affections which come in the character of
ministers of good, may be but sickly and relaxing impulses.  The best
repentance is to up and act for righteousness, and forget that you ever
had relations with sin.

Spinoza's philosophy has this sort of healthy-mindedness woven into the
heart of it, and this has been one secret of its fascination.  He whom
Reason leads, according to Spinoza, is led altogether by the influence
over his mind of good.  Knowledge of evil is an "inadequate" knowledge,
fit only for slavish minds.  So Spinoza categorically condemns
repentance.  When men make mistakes, he says--

"One might perhaps expect gnawings of conscience and repentance to help
to bring them on the right path, and might thereupon conclude (as every
one does conclude) that these affections are good things.  Yet when we
look at the matter closely, we shall find that not only are they not
good, but on the contrary deleterious and evil passions.  For it is
manifest that we can always get along better by reason and love of
truth than by worry of conscience and remorse.  Harmful are these and
evil, inasmuch as they form a particular kind of sadness; and the
disadvantages of sadness," he continues, "I have already proved, and
shown that we should strive to keep it from our life.  Just so we
should endeavor, since uneasiness of conscience and remorse are of this
kind of complexion, to flee and shun these states of mind."[66]

[66] Tract on God, Man, and Happiness, Book ii. ch. x.

Within the Christian body, for which repentance of sins has from the
beginning been the critical religious act, healthy-mindedness has
always come forward with its milder interpretation.  Repentance
according to such healthy- minded Christians means GETTING AWAY FROM
the sin, not groaning and writhing over its commission.  The Catholic
practice of confession and absolution is in one of its aspects little
more than a systematic method of keeping healthy- mindedness on top.
By it a man's accounts with evil are periodically squared and audited,
so that he may start the clean page with no old debts inscribed.  Any
Catholic will tell us how clean and fresh and free he feels after the
purging operation.  Martin Luther by no means belonged to the
healthy-minded type in the radical sense in which we have discussed it,
and he repudiated priestly absolution for sin. Yet in this matter of
repentance he had some very healthy- minded ideas, due in the main to
the largeness of his conception of God.

"When I was a monk," he says "I thought that I was utterly cast away,
if at any time I felt the lust of the flesh:  that is to say, if I felt
any evil motion, fleshly lust, wrath, hatred, or envy against any
brother.  I assayed many ways to help to quiet my conscience, but It
would not be; for the concupiscence and lust of my flesh did always
return, so that I could not rest, but was continually vexed with these
thoughts:  This or that sin thou hast committed:  thou art infected
with envy, with impatiency, and such other sins:  therefore thou art
entered into this holy order in vain, and all thy good works are
unprofitable.  But if then I had rightly understood these sentences of
Paul:  'The flesh lusteth contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit
contrary to the flesh; and these two are one against another, so that
ye cannot do the things that ye would do,' I should not have so
miserably tormented myself, but should have thought and said to myself,
as now commonly I do, 'Martin, thou shalt not utterly be without sin,
for thou hast flesh; thou shalt therefore feel the battle thereof.'  I
remember that Staupitz was wont to say, 'I have vowed unto God above a
thousand times that I would become a better man:  but I never performed
that which I vowed.  Hereafter I will make no such vow:  for I have now
learned by experience that I am not able to perform it.  Unless,
therefore, God be favorable and merciful unto me for Christ's sake, I
shall not be able, with all my vows and all my good deeds, to stand
before him.' This (of Staupitz's) was not only a true, but also a godly
and a holy desperation; and this must they all confess, both with mouth
and heart, who will be saved.  For the godly trust not to their own
righteousness.  They look unto Christ their reconciler who gave his
life for their sins.  Moreover, they know that the remnant of sin which
is in their flesh is not laid to their charge, but freely pardoned.
Notwithstanding, in the mean while they fight in spirit against the
flesh, lest they should FULFILL the lusts thereof; and although they
feel the flesh to rage and rebel, and themselves also do fall sometimes
into sin through infirmity, yet are they not discouraged, nor think
therefore that their state and kind of life, and the works which are
done according to their calling, displease God; but they raise up
themselves by faith."[67]

[67] Commentary on Galatians, Philadelphia, 1891, pp. 510-514

One of the heresies for which the Jesuits got that spiritual genius,
Molinos, the founder of Quietism, so abominably condemned was his
healthy-minded opinion of repentance:--

"When thou fallest into a fault, in what matter soever it be do not
trouble nor afflict thyself for it.  For they are effects of our frail
Nature, stained by Original Sin.  The common enemy will make thee
believe, as soon as thou fallest into any fault, that thou walkest in
error, and therefore art out of God and his favor, and herewith would
he make thee distrust of the divine Grace, telling thee of thy misery,
and making a giant of it; and putting it into thy head that every day
thy soul grows worse instead of better, whilst it so often repeats
these failings.  O blessed Soul, open thine eyes; and shut the gate
against these diabolical suggestions, knowing thy misery, and trusting
in the mercy divine.  Would not he be a mere fool who, running at
tournament with others, and falling in the best of the career, should
lie weeping on the ground and afflicting himself with discourses upon
his fall?  Man (they would tell him), lose no time, get up and take the
course again, for he that rises again quickly and continues his race is
as if he had never fallen.  If thou seest thyself fallen once and a
thousand times, thou oughtest to make use of the remedy which I have
given thee, that is, a loving confidence in the divine mercy.  These
are the weapons with which thou must fight and conquer cowardice and
vain thoughts.  This is the means thou oughtest to use--not to lose
time, not to disturb thyself, and reap no good."[68]

[68] Molinos:  Spiritual Guide, Book II., chaps. xvii., xviii.

Now in contrast with such healthy-minded views as these, if we treat
them as a way of deliberately minimizing evil, stands a radically
opposite view, a way of maximizing evil, if you please so to call it,
based on the persuasion that the evil aspects of our life are of its
very essence, and that the world's meaning most comes home to us when
we lay them most to heart.  We have now to address ourselves to this
{129} more morbid way of looking at the situation.  But as I closed our
last hour with a general philosophical reflection on the healthy-minded
way of taking life, I should like at this point to make another
philosophical reflection upon it before turning to that heavier task.
You will excuse the brief delay.

If we admit that evil is an essential part of our being and the key to
the interpretation of our life, we load ourselves down with a
difficulty that has always proved burdensome in philosophies of
religion.  Theism, whenever it has erected itself into a systematic
philosophy of the universe, has shown a reluctance to let God be
anything less than All-in-All.  In other words, philosophic theism has
always shown a tendency to become pantheistic and monistic, and to
consider the world as one unit of absolute fact; and this has been at
variance with popular or practical theism, which latter has ever been
more or less frankly pluralistic, not to say polytheistic, and shown
itself perfectly well satisfied with a universe composed of many
original principles, provided we be only allowed to believe that the
divine principle remains supreme, and that the others are subordinate.
In this latter case God is not necessarily responsible for the
existence of evil; he would only be responsible if it were not finally
overcome.  But on the monistic or pantheistic view, evil, like
everything else, must have its foundation in God; and the difficulty is
to see how this can possibly be the case if God be absolutely good.
This difficulty faces us in every form of philosophy in which the world
appears as one flawless unit of fact.  Such a unit is an INDIVIDUAL,
and in it the worst parts must be as essential as the best, must be as
necessary to make the individual what he is; since if any part whatever
in an individual were to vanish or alter, it would no longer be THAT
individual at all.  The philosophy of absolute idealism, so vigorously
represented both in Scotland and America to-day, has to struggle with
this difficulty quite as {130} much as scholastic theism struggled in
its time; and although it would be premature to say that there is no
speculative issue whatever from the puzzle, it is perfectly fair to say
that there is no clear or easy issue, and that the only OBVIOUS escape
from paradox here is to cut loose from the monistic assumption
altogether, and to allow the world to have existed from its origin in
pluralistic form, as an aggregate or collection of higher and lower
things and principles, rather than an absolutely unitary fact.  For
then evil would not need to be essential; it might be, and may always
have been, an independent portion that had no rational or absolute
right to live with the rest, and which we might conceivably hope to see
got rid of at last.

Now the gospel of healthy-mindedness, as we have described it, casts
its vote distinctly for this pluralistic view. Whereas the monistic
philosopher finds himself more or less bound to say, as Hegel said,
that everything actual is rational, and that evil, as an element
dialectically required, must be pinned in and kept and consecrated and
have a function awarded to it in the final system of truth,
healthy-mindedness refuses to say anything of the sort.[69] Evil, it
says, is emphatically irrational, and NOT to be pinned in, or
preserved, or consecrated in any final system of truth.  It is a pure
abomination to the Lord, an alien unreality, a waste element, to be
sloughed off and negated, and the very memory of it, if possible, wiped
out and forgotten.  The ideal, so far from being co-extensive with the
whole actual, is a mere EXTRACT from the actual, marked by its
deliverance from all contact with this diseased, inferior, and
excrementitious stuff.

[69] I say this in spite of the monistic utterances of many mind-cure
writers; for these utterances are really inconsistent with their
attitude towards disease, and can easily be shown not to be logically
involved in the experiences of union with a higher Presence with which
they connect themselves.  The higher Presence, namely, need not be the
absolute whole of things, it is quite sufficient for the life of
religious experience to regard it as a part, if only it be the most
ideal part.

Here we have the interesting notion fairly and squarely presented to
us, of there being elements of the universe which may make no rational
whole in conjunction with the other elements, and which, from the point
of view of any system which those other elements make up, can only be
considered so much irrelevance and accident--so much "dirt," as it
were, and matter out of place.  I ask you now not to forget this
notion; for although most philosophers seem either to forget it or to
disdain it too much ever to mention it, I believe that we shall have to
admit it ourselves in the end as containing an element of truth.  The
mind-cure gospel thus once more appears to us as having dignity and
importance.  We have seen it to be a genuine religion, and no mere
silly appeal to imagination to cure disease; we have seen its method of
experimental verification to be not unlike the method of all science;
and now here we find mind- cure as the champion of a perfectly definite
conception of the metaphysical structure of the world.  I hope that, in
view of all this, you will not regret my having pressed it upon your
attention at such length.

Let us now say good-by for a while to all this way of thinking, and
turn towards those persons who cannot so swiftly throw off the burden
of the consciousness of evil, but are congenitally fated to suffer from
its presence.  Just as we saw that in healthy-mindedness there are
shallower and profounder levels, happiness like that of the mere
animal, and more regenerate sorts of happiness, so also are there
different levels of the morbid mind, and the one is much more
formidable than the other.  There are people for whom evil means only a
mal-adjustment with THINGS, a wrong correspondence of one's life with
the environment. Such evil as this is curable, in principle at least,
upon the natural plane, for merely by modifying either the self or the
things, or both at once, the two terms may be made to fit, and all go
merry as a marriage bell again.  But there are others for whom evil is
no mere relation of the subject to particular outer things, but
something more radical and general, a wrongness or vice in his
essential nature, which no alteration of the environment, or any
superficial rearrangement of the inner self, can cure, and which
requires a supernatural remedy.  On the whole, the Latin races have
leaned more towards the former way of looking upon evil, as made up of
ills and sins in the plural, removable in detail; while the Germanic
races have tended rather to think of Sin in the singular, and with a
capital S, as of something ineradicably ingrained in our natural
subjectivity, and never to be removed by any superficial piecemeal
operations.[70] These comparisons of races are always open to
exception, but undoubtedly the northern tone in religion has inclined
to the more intimately pessimistic persuasion, and this way of feeling,
being the more extreme, we shall find by far the more instructive for
our study.

[70] Cf. J. Milsand:  Luther et le Serf-Arbitre, 1884, passim.

Recent psychology has found great use for the word "threshold" as a
symbolic designation for the point at which one state of mind passes
into another.  Thus we speak of the threshold of a man's consciousness
in general, to indicate the amount of noise, pressure, or other outer
stimulus which it takes to arouse his attention at all.  One with a
high threshold will doze through an amount of racket by which one with
a low threshold would be immediately waked.  Similarly, when one is
sensitive to small differences in any order of sensation, we say he has
a low "difference- threshold"--his mind easily steps over it into the
consciousness of the differences in question.  And just so we might
speak of a "pain-threshold," a "fear-threshold," a "misery-threshold,"
and find it quickly overpassed by the consciousness of some
individuals, but lying too high in others to be often reached by their
consciousness.  The sanguine and healthy-minded live habitually on the
sunny side of their misery-line, the depressed and melancholy live
beyond it, in darkness and apprehension.  There are men who seem to
have started in life with a bottle or two of champagne inscribed to
their credit; whilst others seem to have been born close to the
pain-threshold, which the slightest irritants fatally send them over.

Does it not appear as if one who lived more habitually on one side of
the pain-threshold might need a different sort of religion from one who
habitually lived on the other?  This question, of the relativity of
different types of religion to different types of need, arises
naturally at this point, and will became a serious problem ere we have
done.  But before we confront it in general terms, we must address
ourselves to the unpleasant task of hearing what the sick souls, as we
may call them in contrast to the healthy-minded, have to say of the
secrets of their prison-house, their own peculiar form of
consciousness.  Let us then resolutely turn our backs on the once-born
and their sky-blue optimistic gospel; let us not simply cry out, in
spite of all appearances, "Hurrah for the Universe!--God's in his
Heaven, all's right with the world." Let us see rather whether pity,
pain, and fear, and the sentiment of human helplessness may not open a
profounder view and put into our hands a more complicated key to the
meaning of the situation.

To begin with, how CAN things so insecure as the successful experiences
of this world afford a stable anchorage?  A chain is no stronger than
its weakest link, and life is after all a chain.

In the healthiest and most prosperous existence, how many links of
illness, danger, and disaster are always interposed?  Unsuspectedly
from the bottom of every fountain of pleasure, as the old poet said,
something bitter rises up:  a touch of nausea, a falling dead of the
delight, a whiff of melancholy, things that sound a knell, for fugitive
as they may be, they bring a feeling of coming from a deeper region and
often have an appalling convincingness.  The buzz of life ceases at
their touch as a piano-string stops sounding when the damper falls upon

Of course the music can commence again;--and again and again--at
intervals.  But with this the healthy-minded consciousness is left with
an irremediable sense of precariousness.  It is a bell with a crack; it
draws its breath on sufferance and by an accident.

Even if we suppose a man so packed with healthy-mindedness as never to
have experienced in his own person any of these sobering intervals,
still, if he is a reflecting being, he must generalize and class his
own lot with that of others; and, doing so, he must see that his escape
is just a lucky chance and no essential difference.  He might just as
well have been born to an entirely different fortune.  And then indeed
the hollow security! What kind of a frame of things is it of which the
best you can say is, "Thank God, it has let me off clear this time!"
Is not its blessedness a fragile fiction?  Is not your joy in it a very
vulgar glee, not much unlike the snicker of any rogue at his success?
If indeed it were all success, even on such terms as that! But take the
happiest man, the one most envied by the world, and in nine cases out
of ten his inmost consciousness is one of failure.  Either his ideals
in the line of his achievements are pitched far higher than the
achievements themselves, or else he has secret ideals of which the
world knows nothing, and in regard to which he inwardly knows himself
to be found wanting.

When such a conquering optimist as Goethe can express himself in this
wise, how must it be with less successful men? {135}

"I will say nothing," writes Goethe in 1824, "against the course of my
existence.  But at bottom it has been nothing but pain and burden, and
I can affirm that during the whole of my 75 years, I have not had four
weeks of genuine well-being.  It is but the perpetual rolling of a rock
that must be raised up again forever."

What single-handed man was ever on the whole as successful as Luther?
Yet when he had grown old, he looked back on his life as if it were an
absolute failure.

"I am utterly weary of life.  I pray the Lord will come forthwith and
carry me hence.  Let him come, above all, with his last Judgment:  I
will stretch out my neck, the thunder will burst forth, and I shall be
at rest."--And having a necklace of white agates in his hand at the
time he added:  "O God, grant that it may come without delay.  I would
readily eat up this necklace to-day, for the Judgment to come
to-morrow."--The Electress Dowager, one day when Luther was dining with
her, said to him: "Doctor, I wish you may live forty years to come."
"Madam," replied he, "rather than live forty years more, I would give
up my chance of Paradise."

Failure, then, failure! so the world stamps us at every turn.  We strew
it with our blunders, our misdeeds, our lost opportunities, with all
the memorials of our inadequacy to our vocation.  And with what a
damning emphasis does it then blot us out!  No easy fine, no mere
apology or formal expiation, will satisfy the world's demands, but
every pound of flesh exacted is soaked with all its blood.  The
subtlest forms of suffering known to man are connected with the
poisonous humiliations incidental to these results.

And they are pivotal human experiences.  A process so ubiquitous and
everlasting is evidently an integral part of life.  "There is indeed
one element in human destiny," Robert Louis Stevenson writes, "that not
blindness itself can controvert.  Whatever else we are intended to do,
we are not  intended to succeed; failure is the fate allotted."[71] And
our nature being thus rooted in failure, is it any wonder that
theologians should have held it to be essential, and thought that only
through the personal experience of humiliation which it engenders the
deeper sense of life's significance is reached?[72]

[71] He adds with characteristic healthy-mindedness:  "Our business is
to continue to fail in good spirits."

[72] The God of many men is little more than their court of appeal
against the damnatory judgment passed on their failures by the opinion
of this world.  To our own consciousness there is usually a residuum of
worth left over after our sins and errors have been told off--our
capacity of acknowledging and regretting them is the germ of a better
self in posse at least.  But the world deals with us in actu and not in
posse:  and of this hidden germ, not to be guessed at from without, it
never takes account.  Then we turn to the All-knower, who knows our
bad, but knows this good in us also, and who is just.  We cast
ourselves with our repentance on his mercy only by an All-knower can we
finally be judged.  So the need of a God very definitely emerges from
this sort of experience of life.

But this is only the first stage of the world-sickness.  Make the human
being's sensitiveness a little greater, carry him a little farther over
the misery-threshold, and the good quality of the successful moments
themselves when they occur is spoiled and vitiated.  All natural goods
perish.  Riches take wings; fame is a breath; love is a cheat; youth
and health and pleasure vanish.  Can things whose end is always dust
and disappointment be the real goods which our souls require? Back of
everything is the great spectre of universal death, the
all-encompassing blackness:--

"What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the
Sun?  I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and behold,
all was vanity and vexation of spirit.  For that which befalleth the
sons of men befalleth beasts; as the one dieth, so dieth the other, all
are of the dust, and all turn to dust again....  The dead know not
anything, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them
is forgotten.  Also their love and their hatred and their envy is now
perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything
that is done under the Sun.... Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant
thing it is for the eyes to behold the Sun:  but if a man live many
years and rejoice in them all, yet let him remember the days of
darkness; for they shall be many."

In short, life and its negation are beaten up inextricably together.
But if the life be good, the negation of it must be bad.  Yet the two
are equally essential facts of existence; and all natural happiness
thus seems infected with a contradiction.  The breath of the sepulchre
surrounds it.

To a mind attentive to this state of things and rightly subject to the
joy-destroying chill which such a contemplation engenders, the only
relief that healthy-mindedness can give is by saying: "Stuff and
nonsense, get out into the open air!" or "Cheer up, old fellow, you'll
be all right erelong, if you will only drop your morbidness!"  But in
all seriousness, can such bald animal talk as that be treated as a
rational answer?  To ascribe religious value to mere happy-go-lucky
contentment with one's brief chance at natural good is but the very
consecration of forgetfulness and superficiality.  Our troubles lie
indeed too deep for THAT cure.  The fact that we CAN die, that we CAN
be ill at all, is what perplexes us; the fact that we now for a moment
live and are well is irrelevant to that perplexity.  We need a life not
correlated with death, a health not liable to illness, a kind of good
that will not perish, a good in fact that flies beyond the Goods of

It all depends on how sensitive the soul may become to discords.  "The
trouble with me is that I believe too much in common happiness and
goodness," said a friend of mine whose consciousness was of this sort,
"and nothing can console me for their transiency.  I am appalled and
disconcerted at its being possible."    And so with most of us:  a
little cooling down of animal excitability and instinct, a little loss
of animal toughness, a little irritable weakness and descent of the
pain-threshold, will bring the worm at the core of all our usual
springs of delight into full view, and turn us into melancholy
metaphysicians.  The pride of life and glory of the world will shrivel.
It is after all but the standing quarrel of hot youth and hoary eld.
Old age has the last word:  the purely naturalistic look at life,
however enthusiastically it may begin, is sure to end in sadness.

This sadness lies at the heart of every merely positivistic, agnostic,
or naturalistic scheme of philosophy.  Let sanguine healthy-mindedness
do its best with its strange power of living in the moment and ignoring
and forgetting, still the evil background is really there to be thought
of, and the skull will grin in at the banquet.  In the practical life
of the individual, we know how his whole gloom or glee about any
present fact depends on the remoter schemes and hopes with which it
stands related.  Its significance and framing give it the chief part of
its value.  Let it be known to lead nowhere, and however agreeable it
may be in its immediacy, its glow and gilding vanish.  The old man,
sick with an insidious internal disease, may laugh and quaff his wine
at first as well as ever, but he knows his fate now, for the doctors
have revealed it; and the knowledge knocks the satisfaction out of all
these functions.  They are partners of death and the worm is their
brother, and they turn to a mere flatness.

The lustre of the present hour is always borrowed from the background
of possibilities it goes with.  Let our common experiences be enveloped
in an eternal moral order; let our suffering have an immortal
significance; let Heaven smile upon the earth, and deities pay their
visits; let faith and hope be the atmosphere which man breathes
in;--and his days pass by with zest; they stir with prospects, they
thrill with remoter values.  Place round them on the contrary the
curdling cold and gloom and absence of all permanent meaning which for
pure naturalism and the popular science evolutionism of our time are
all that is visible ultimately, and the thrill stops short, or turns
rather to an anxious trembling.

For naturalism, fed on recent cosmological speculations, mankind is in
a position similar to that of a set of people living on a frozen lake,
surrounded by cliffs over which there is no escape, yet knowing that
little by little the ice is melting, and the inevitable day drawing
near when the last film of it will disappear, and to be drowned
ignominiously will be the human creature's portion.  The merrier the
skating, the warmer and more sparkling the sun by day, and the ruddier
the bonfires at night, the more poignant the sadness with which one
must take in the meaning of the total situation.

The early Greeks are continually held up to us in literary works as
models of the healthy-minded joyousness which the religion of nature
may engender.  There was indeed much joyousness among the
Greeks--Homer's flow of enthusiasm for most things that the sun shines
upon is steady.  But even in Homer the reflective passages are
cheerless,[73] and the moment the Greeks grew systematically pensive
and thought of ultimates, they became unmitigated pessimists.[74] The
jealousy of the gods, the nemesis that follows  too much happiness, the
all-encompassing death, fate's dark opacity, the ultimate and
unintelligible cruelty, were the fixed background of their imagination.
The beautiful joyousness of their polytheism is only a poetic modern
fiction.  They knew no joys comparable in quality of preciousness to
those which we shall erelong see that Ilrahmans, Buddhists, Christians,
Mohammedans, twice-born people whose religion is non-naturalistic, get
from their several creeds of mysticism and renunciation.

[73] E.g., Iliad XVII. 446:  "Nothing then is more wretched anywhere
than man of all that breathes and creeps upon this earth."

[74] E.g., Theognis, 425-428:  "Best of all for all things upon earth
is it not to be born nor to behold the splendors of the sun; next best
to traverse as soon as possible the gates of Hades."  See also the
almost identical passage in Oedipus in Colonus, 1225.--The Anthology is
full of pessimistic utterances: "Naked came I upon the earth, naked I
go below the ground--why then do I vainly toil when I see the end naked
before me?"--"How did I come to be? Whence am l?  Wherefore did I come?
To pass away.  How can I learn aught when naught I know?  Being naught
I came to life:  once more shall I be what I was.  Nothing and
nothingness is the whole race of mortals."--"For death we are all
cherished and fattened like a herd of hogs that is wantonly butchered."

The difference between Greek pessimism and the oriental and modern
variety is that the Greeks had not made the discovery that the pathetic
mood may be idealized, and figure as a higher form of sensibility.
Their spirit was still too essentially masculine for pessimism to be
elaborated or lengthily dwelt on in their classic literature.  They
would have despised a life set wholly in a minor key, and summoned it
to keep within the proper bounds of lachrymosity. The discovery that
the enduring emphasis, so far as this world goes, may be laid on its
pain and failure, was reserved for races more complex, and (so to
speak) more feminine than the Hellenes had attained to being in the
classic period.  But all the same was the outlook of those Hellenes
blackly pessimistic.

Stoic insensibility and Epicurean resignation were the farthest advance
which the Greek mind made in that direction. The Epicurean said:  "Seek
not to be happy, but rather to escape unhappiness; strong happiness is
always linked with pain; therefore hug the safe shore, and do not tempt
the deeper raptures.  Avoid disappointment by expecting little, and by
aiming low; and above all do not fret."  The Stoic said:  "The only
genuine good that life can yield a man is the free possession of his
own soul; all other goods are lies."  Each of these philosophies is in
its degree a philosophy of despair in nature's boons.  Trustful
self-abandonment to the joys that freely offer has entirely departed
from both Epicurean and Stoic; and what each proposes is a way of
rescue from the resultant dust-and-ashes state of mind.  The Epicurean
still awaits results from economy of indulgence and damping of desire.
The Stoic hopes for no results, and gives up natural good altogether.
There is dignity in both these forms of resignation.  They represent
distinct stages in the sobering process which man's primitive
intoxication with sense-happiness is sure to undergo.  In the one the
hot blood has grown cool, in the other it has become quite cold; and
although I have spoken of them in the past tense, as if they were
merely historic, yet Stoicism and Epicureanism will probably be to all
time typical attitudes, marking a certain definite stage accomplished
in the evolution of the world-sick soul.[75] They mark the conclusion
of what we call the once-born period, and represent the highest flights
of what twice-born religion would call the purely natural man
--Epicureanism, which can only by great courtesy be called a religion,
showing his refinement, and Stoicism exhibiting his moral will.  They
leave the world in the shape of an unreconciled contradiction, and seek
no higher unity.  Compared with the complex ecstasies which the
supernaturally regenerated Christian may enjoy, or the oriental
pantheist indulge in, their receipts for equanimity are expedients
which seem almost crude in their simplicity.

[75] For instance, on the very day on which I write this page, the post
brings me some aphorisms from a worldly-wise old friend in Heidelberg
which may serve as a good contemporaneous expression of Epicureanism:
"By the word 'happiness' every human being understands something
different.  It is a phantom pursued only by weaker minds.  The wise man
is satisfied with the more modest but much more definite term
CONTENTMENT.  What education should chiefly aim at is to save us from a
discontented life.  Health is one favoring condition, but by no means
an indispensable one, of contentment.  Woman's heart and love are a
shrewd device of Nature, a trap which she sets for the average man, to
force him into working.  But the wise man will always prefer work
chosen by himself."

Please observe, however, that I am not yet pretending finally to JUDGE
any of these attitudes.  I am only describing their variety.  The
securest way to the rapturous sorts of happiness of which the
twice-born make report has as an historic matter of fact been through a
more radical pessimism than anything that we have yet considered.  We
have seen how the lustre and enchantment may be rubbed off from the
goods of nature.  But there is a pitch of unhappiness so great that the
goods of nature may be entirely forgotten, and all sentiment of their
existence vanish from the mental field.  For this extremity of
pessimism to be reached, something more is needed than observation of
life and reflection upon death.  The individual must in his own person
become the prey of a pathological melancholy.  As the healthy-minded
enthusiast succeeds in ignoring evil's very existence, so the subject
of melancholy is forced in spite of himself to ignore that of all good
whatever:  for him it may no longer have the least reality.  Such
sensitiveness and susceptibility to mental pain is a rare occurrence
where the nervous constitution is entirely normal; one seldom finds it
in a healthy subject even where he is the victim of the most atrocious
cruelties of outward fortune.  So we note here the neurotic
constitution, of which I said so much in my first lecture, making its
active entrance on our scene, and destined to play a part in much that
follows.  Since these experiences of melancholy are in the first
instance absolutely private and individual, I can now help myself out
with personal documents.  Painful indeed they will be to listen to, and
there is almost an indecency in handling them in public.  Yet they lie
right in the middle of our path; and if we are to touch the psychology
of religion at all seriously, we must be willing to forget
conventionalities, and dive below the smooth and lying official
conversational surface.

One can distinguish many kinds of pathological depression.  Sometimes
it is mere passive joylessness and dreariness.  discouragement,
dejection, lack of taste and zest and spring.  {143} Professor Ribot
has proposed the name anhedonia to designate this condition.

"The state of anhedonia, if I may coin a new word to pair off with
analgesia," he writes, "has been very little studied, but it exists.  A
young girl was smitten with a liver disease which for some time altered
her constitution.  She felt no longer any affection for her father and
mother.  She would have played with her doll, but it was impossible to
find the least pleasure in the act. The same things which formerly
convulsed her with laughter entirely failed to interest her now.
Esquirol observed the case of a very intelligent magistrate who was
also a prey to hepatic disease.  Every emotion appeared dead within
him.  He manifested neither perversion nor violence, but complete
absence of emotional reaction.  If he went to the theatre, which he did
out of habit, he could find no pleasure there.  The thought of his
house of his home, of his wife, and of his absent children moved him as
little, he said, as a theorem of Euclid."[76]

[76] Ribot:  Psychologie des sentiments, p. 54.

Prolonged seasickness will in most persons produce a temporary
condition of anhedonia.  Every good, terrestrial or celestial, is
imagined only to be turned from with disgust. A temporary condition of
this sort, connected with the religious evolution of a singularly lofty
character, both intellectual and moral, is well described by the
Catholic philosopher, Father Gratry, in his autobiographical
recollections. In consequence of mental isolation and excessive study
at the Polytechnic school, young Gratry fell into a state of nervous
exhaustion with symptoms which he thus describes:--

"I had such a universal terror that I woke at night with a start,
thinking that the Pantheon was tumbling on the Polytechnic school, or
that the school was in flames, or that the Seine was pouring into the
Catacombs, and that Paris was being swallowed up.  And when these
impressions were past, all day long without respite I suffered an
incurable and intolerable desolation, verging on despair.  I thought
myself, in fact, rejected by God, lost, damned! I felt something like
the suffering of hell. Before that I had never even thought of hell.
My mind had never turned in that direction.  Neither discourses nor
reflections had impressed me in that way.  I took no account of hell.
Now, and all at once, I suffered in a measure what is suffered there.

"But what was perhaps still more dreadful is that every idea of heaven
was taken away from me:  I could no longer conceive of anything of the
sort.  Heaven did not seem to me worth going to.  It was like a vacuum;
a mythological elysium, an abode of shadows less real than the earth.
I could conceive no joy, no pleasure in inhabiting it.  Happiness, joy,
light, affection, love-- all these words were now devoid of sense.
Without doubt I could still have talked of all these things, but I had
become incapable of feeling anything in them, of understanding anything
about them, of hoping anything from them, or of believing them to
exist.  There was my great and inconsolable grief! I neither perceived
nor conceived any longer the existence of happiness or perfection.  An
abstract heaven over a naked rock.  Such was my present abode for

[77] A. Gratry:  Souvenirs de ma jeunesse, 1880, pp. 119-121, abridged.
Some persons are affected with anhedonia permanently, or at any rate
with a loss of the usual appetite for life.  The annals of suicide
supply such examples as the following:--

An uneducated domestic servant, aged nineteen, poisons herself, and
leaves two letters expressing her motive for the act.  To her parents
she writes:--

"Life is sweet perhaps to some, but I prefer what is sweeter than life,
and that is death.  So good-by forever, my dear parents.  It is
nobody's fault, but a strong desire of my own which I have longed to
fulfill for three or four years.  I have always had a hope that some
day I might have an opportunity of fulfilling it, and now it has
come.... It is a wonder I have put this off so long, but I thought
perhaps I should cheer up a bit and put all thought out of my head."
To her brother she writes:  "Good-by forever, my own dearest brother.
By the time you get this I shall be gone forever.  I know, dear love,
there is no forgiveness for what I am going to do.... I am tired of
living, so am willing to die....  Life may be sweet to some, but death
to me is sweeter."  S. A. K. Strahan:  Suicide and Insanity, 2d
edition, London, 1894, p. 131.

So much for melancholy in the sense of incapacity for joyous feeling.
A much worse form of it is positive and active anguish, a sort of
psychical neuralgia wholly unknown to healthy life.  Such anguish may
partake of various characters, having sometimes more the quality of
loathing; sometimes that of irritation and exasperation; or again of
self-mistrust and self-despair; or of suspicion, anxiety, trepidation,
fear.  The patient may rebel or submit; may accuse himself, or accuse
outside powers; and he may or he may not be tormented by the
theoretical mystery of why he should so have to suffer.  Most cases are
mixed cases, and we should not treat our classifications with too much
respect.  Moreover, it is only a relatively small proportion of cases
that connect themselves with the religious sphere of experience at all.
Exasperated cases, for instance, as a rule do not.  I quote now
literally from the first case of melancholy on which I lay my hand.  It
is a letter from a patient in a French asylum.

"I suffer too much in this hospital, both physically and morally.
Besides the burnings and the sleeplessness (for I no longer sleep since
I am shut up here, and the little rest I get is broken by bad dreams,
and I am waked with a jump by night mares dreadful visions, lightning,
thunder, and the rest), fear, atrocious fear, presses me down, holds me
without respite, never lets me go.  Where is the justice in it all!
What have I done to deserve this excess of severity?  Under what form
will this fear crush me?  What would I not owe to any one who would rid
me of my life! Eat, drink, lie awake all night, suffer without
interruption--such is the fine legacy I have received from my mother!
What I fail to understand is this abuse of power.  There are limits to
everything, there is a middle way.  But God knows neither middle way
nor limits.  I say God, but why?  All I have known so far has been the
devil.  After all, I am afraid of God as much as of the devil, so I
drift along, thinking of nothing but suicide, but with neither courage
nor means here to execute the act.  As you read this, it will easily
prove to you my insanity.  The style and the ideas are incoherent
enough--I can see that myself.  But I cannot keep myself from being
either crazy or an idiot; and, as things are, from whom should I ask
pity?  I am defenseless against the invisible enemy who is tightening
his coils around me.  I should be no better armed against him even if I
saw him, or had seen him.  Oh, if he would but kill me, devil take him!
Death, death, once for all! But I stop. I have raved to you long
enough.  I say raved, for I can write no otherwise, having neither
brain nor thoughts left.  O God! what a misfortune to be born!  Born
like a mushroom, doubtless between an evening and a morning; and how
true and right I was when in our philosophy-year in college I chewed
the cud of bitterness with the pessimists.  Yes, indeed, there is more
pain in life than gladness--it is one long agony until the grave.
Think how gay it makes me to remember that this horrible misery of
mine, coupled with this unspeakable fear, may last fifty, one hundred,
who knows how many more years!"[78]

[78] Roubinovitch et Toulouse:  La Melancolie, 1897, p. 170, abridged.

This letter shows two things.  First, you see how the entire
consciousness of the poor man is so choked with the feeling of evil
that the sense of there being any good in the world is lost for him
altogether.  His attention excludes it, cannot admit it: the sun has
left his heaven.  And secondly you see how the querulous temper of his
misery keeps his mind from taking a religious direction.  Querulousness
of mind tends in fact rather towards irreligion; and it has played, so
far as I know, no part whatever in the construction of religious

Religious melancholy must be cast in a more melting mood.  Tolstoy has
left us, in his book called My Confession, a wonderful account of the
attack of melancholy which led him to his own religious conclusions.
The latter in some respects are peculiar; but the melancholy presents
two characters which make it a typical document for our present
purpose.  First it is a well-marked case of anhedonia, of passive loss
of appetite for all life's values; and second, it shows how the altered
and estranged aspect which the world assumed in consequence of this
stimulated Tolstoy's intellect to a gnawing, carking questioning and
effort for philosophic relief.  I mean to quote Tolstoy at some length;
but before doing so, I will make a general remark on each of these two

First on our spiritual judgments and the sense of value in general.

It is notorious that facts are compatible with opposite emotional
comments, since the same fact will inspire entirely different feelings
in different persons, and at different times in the same person; and
there is no rationally deducible connection between any outer fact and
the sentiments it may happen to provoke.  These have their source in
another sphere of existence altogether, in the animal and spiritual
region of the subject's being.  Conceive yourself, if possible,
suddenly stripped of all the emotion with which your world now inspires
you, and try to imagine it AS IT EXISTS, purely by itself, without your
favorable or unfavorable, hopeful or apprehensive comment.  It will be
almost impossible for you to realize such a condition of negativity and
deadness.  No one portion of the universe would then have importance
beyond another; and the whole collection of its things and series of
its events would be without significance, character, expression, or
perspective.  Whatever of value, interest, or meaning our respective
worlds may appear endued with are thus pure gifts of the spectator's
mind.  The passion of love is the most familiar and extreme example of
this fact.  If it comes, it comes; if it does not {148} come, no
process of reasoning can force it.  Yet it transforms the value of the
creature loved as utterly as the sunrise transforms Mont Blanc from a
corpse-like gray to a rosy enchantment; and it sets the whole world to
a new tune for the lover and gives a new issue to his life.  So with
fear, with indignation, jealousy, ambition, worship.  If they are
there, life changes.  And whether they shall be there or not depends
almost always upon non-logical, often on organic conditions.  And as
the excited interest which these passions put into the world is our
gift to the world, just so are the passions themselves GIFTS--gifts to
us, from sources sometimes low and sometimes high; but almost always
nonlogical and beyond our control.  How can the moribund old man reason
back to himself the romance, the mystery, the imminence of great things
with which our old earth tingled for him in the days when he was young
and well?  Gifts, either of the flesh or of the spirit; and the spirit
bloweth where it listeth; and the world's materials lend their surface
passively to all the gifts alike, as the stage-setting receives
indifferently whatever alternating colored lights may be shed upon it
from the optical apparatus in the gallery.

Meanwhile the practically real world for each one of us, the effective
world of the individual, is the compound world, the physical facts and
emotional values in indistinguishable combination.  Withdraw or pervert
either factor of this complex resultant, and the kind of experience we
call pathological ensues.

In Tolstoy's case the sense that life had any meaning whatever was for
a time wholly withdrawn.  The result was a transformation in the whole
expression of reality.  When we come to study the phenomenon of
conversion or religious regeneration, we shall see that a not
infrequent consequence of the change operated in the subject is a
transfiguration of the face of nature in his eyes.  A new heaven seems
to shine upon a new earth.  In melancholiacs there is usually a similar
change, only it is in the reverse direction. The world now looks
remote, strange, sinister, uncanny. Its color is gone, its breath is
cold, there is no speculation in the eyes it glares with.  "It is as if
I lived in another century," says one asylum patient.--"I see
everything through a cloud," says another, "things are not as they
were, and I am changed."--"I see," says a third, "I touch, but the
things do not come near me, a thick veil alters the hue and look of
everything."--"Persons move like shadows, and sounds seem to come from
a distant world."--"There is no longer any past for me; people appear
so strange; it is as if I could not see any reality, as if I were in a
theatre; as if people were actors, and everything were scenery; I can
no longer find myself; I walk, but why?  Everything floats before my
eyes, but leaves no impression."--"I weep false tears, I have unreal
hands:  the things I see are not real things."--Such are expressions
that naturally rise to the lips of melancholy subjects describing their
changed state.[79]

[79] I cull these examples from the work of G. Dumas:  La Tristesse et
la Joie, 1900.

Now there are some subjects whom all this leaves a prey to the
profoundest astonishment.  The strangeness is wrong.  The unreality
cannot be.  A mystery is concealed, and a metaphysical solution must
exist.  If the natural world is so double-faced and unhomelike, what
world, what thing is real?  An urgent wondering and questioning is set
up, a poring theoretic activity, and in the desperate effort to get
into right relations with the matter, the sufferer is often led to what
becomes for him a satisfying religious solution.

At about the age of fifty, Tolstoy relates that he began to have
moments of perplexity, of what he calls arrest, as if he knew not "how
to live," or what to do.  It is obvious that these were moments in
which the excitement and interest which our functions naturally bring
had ceased.  Life had been enchanting, it was now flat sober, more than
{150} sober, dead.  Things were meaningless whose meaning had always
been self-evident.  The questions "Why?" and "What next?" began to
beset him more and more frequently.  At first it seemed as if such
questions must be answerable, and as if he could easily find the
answers if he would take the time; but as they ever became more urgent,
he perceived that it was like those first discomforts of a sick man, to
which he pays but little attention till they run into one continuous
suffering, and then he realizes that what he took for a passing
disorder means the most momentous thing in the world for him, means his

These questions "Why?" "Wherefore?" "What for?" found no response.

"I felt," says Tolstoy, "that something had broken within me on which
my life had always rested, that I had nothing left to hold on to, and
that morally my life had stopped.  An invincible force impelled me to
get rid of my existence, in one way or another. It cannot be said
exactly that I WISHED to kill myself, for the force which drew me away
from life was fuller, more powerful, more general than any mere desire.
It was a force like my old aspiration to live, only it impelled me in
the opposite direction. It was an aspiration of my whole being to get
out of life.

"Behold me then, a man happy and in good health, hiding the rope in
order not to hang myself to the rafters of the room where every night I
went to sleep alone; behold me no longer going shooting, lest I should
yield to the too easy temptation of putting an end to myself with my

"I did not know what I wanted.  I was afraid of life; I was driven to
leave it; and in spite of that I still hoped something from it.

"All this took place at a time when so far as all my outer
circumstances went, I ought to have been completely happy.  I had a
good wife who loved me and whom I loved; good children and a large
property which was increasing with no pains taken on my part.  I was
more respected by my kinsfolk and acquaintance than I had ever been; I
was loaded with praise by strangers; and without exaggeration I could
believe my name already famous.  Moreover I was neither insane nor ill.
On the contrary, I possessed a physical and mental strength which I
have rarely met in persons of my age.  I could mow as well as the
peasants, I could work with my brain eight hours uninterruptedly and
feel no bad effects.

"And yet I could give no reasonable meaning to any actions of my life.
And I was surprised that I had not understood this from the very
beginning.  My state of mind was as if some wicked and stupid jest was
being played upon me by some one.  One can live only so long as one is
intoxicated, drunk with life; but when one grows sober one cannot fail
to see that it is all a stupid cheat.

What is truest about it is that there is nothing even funny or silly in
it; it is cruel and stupid, purely and simply.

"The oriental fable of the traveler surprised in the desert by a wild
beast is very old.

"Seeking to save himself from the fierce animal, the traveler jumps
into a well with no water in it; but at the bottom of this well he sees
a dragon waiting with open mouth to devour him. And the unhappy man,
not daring to go out lest he should be the prey of the beast, not
daring to jump to the bottom lest he should be devoured by the dragon,
clings to the branches of a wild bush which grows out of one of the
cracks of the well.  His hands weaken, and he feels that he must soon
give way to certain fate; but still he clings, and see two mice, one
white, the other black, evenly moving round the bush to which he hangs,
and gnawing off its roots

"The traveler sees this and knows that he must inevitably perish; but
while thus hanging he looks about him and finds on the leaves of the
bush some drops of honey.  These he reaches with his tongue and licks
them off with rapture.

"Thus I hang upon the boughs of life, knowing that the inevitable
dragon of death is waiting ready to tear me, and I cannot comprehend
why I am thus made a martyr.  I try to suck the honey which formerly
consoled me; but the honey pleases me no longer, and day and night the
white mouse and the black mouse gnaw the branch to which I cling.  I
can see but one thing:  the inevitable dragon and the mice--I cannot
turn my gaze away from them.

"This is no fable, but the literal incontestable truth which every one
may understand.  What will be the outcome of what I do to-day?  Of what
I shall do to-morrow?  What will be the outcome of all my life?  Why
should I live?  Why should I do anything?  Is there in life any purpose
which the inevitable death which awaits me does not undo and destroy?

"These questions are the simplest in the world.  From the stupid child
to the wisest old man, they are in the soul of every human being.
Without an answer to them, it is impossible, as I experienced, for life
to go on.

"'But perhaps,' I often said to myself, 'there may be something I have
failed to notice or to comprehend.  It is not possible that this
condition of despair should be natural to mankind.' And I sought for an
explanation in all the branches of knowledge acquired by men.  I
questioned painfully and protractedly and with no idle curiosity.  I
sought, not with indolence, but laboriously and obstinately for days
and nights together.  I sought like a man who is lost and seeks to save
himself--and I found nothing.  I became convinced, moreover, that all
those who before me had sought for an answer in the sciences have also
found nothing.  And not only this, but that they have recognized that
the very thing which was leading me to despair--the meaningless
absurdity of life--is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to

To prove this point, Tolstoy quotes the Buddha, Solomon, and
Schopenhauer.  And he finds only four ways in which men of his own
class and society are accustomed to meet the situation.  Either mere
animal blindness, sucking the honey without seeing the dragon or the
mice--"and from such a way," he says, "I can learn nothing, after what
I now know;" or reflective epicureanism, snatching what it can while
the day lasts--which is only a more deliberate sort of stupefaction
than the first; or manly suicide; or seeing the mice and dragon and yet
weakly and plaintively clinging to the bush of life.  Suicide was
naturally the consistent course dictated by the logical intellect.

"Yet," says Tolstoy, "whilst my intellect was working, something else
in me was working too, and kept me from the deed--a consciousness of
life, as I may call it, which was like a force that obliged my mind to
fix itself in another direction and draw me out of my situation of
despair.... During the whole course of this year, when I almost
unceasingly kept asking myself how to end the business, whether by the
rope or by the bullet, during all that time, alongside of all those
movements of my ideas and observations, my heart kept languishing with
another pining emotion.  I can call this by no other name than that of
a thirst for God.  This craving for God had nothing to do with the
movement of my ideas--in fact, it was the direct contrary of that
movement--but it came from my heart.  It was like a feeling of dread
that made me seem like an orphan and isolated in the midst of all these
things that were so foreign.  And this feeling of dread was mitigated
by the hope of finding the assistance of some one."[80]

[80] My extracts are from the French translation by "Zonia." In
abridging I have taken the liberty of transposing one passage.

Of the process, intellectual as well as emotional, which, starting from
this idea of God, led to Tolstoy's recovery, I will say nothing in this
lecture, reserving it for a later hour. The only thing that need
interest us now is the phenomenon of his absolute disenchantment with
ordinary life, and the fact that the whole range of habitual values
may, to a man as powerful and full of faculty as he was, come to appear
so ghastly a mockery.

When disillusionment has gone as far as this, there is seldom a
restitutio ad integrum.  One has tasted of the fruit of the tree, and
the happiness of Eden never comes again. The happiness that comes, when
any does come--and often enough it fails to return in an acute form,
though its form is sometimes very acute--is not the simple, ignorance
of ill, but something vastly more complex, including natural evil as
one of its elements, but finding natural evil no such stumbling-block
and terror because it now sees it swallowed up in supernatural good.
The process is one of redemption, not of mere reversion to natural
health, and the sufferer, when saved, is saved by what seems to him a
second birth, a deeper kind of conscious being than he could enjoy

We find a somewhat different type of religious melancholy enshrined in
literature in John Bunyan's autobiography. Tolstoy's preoccupations
were largely objective, for the purpose and meaning of life in general
was what so troubled him; but poor Bunyan's troubles were over the
condition of his own personal self.  He was a typical case of the
psychopathic temperament, sensitive of conscience to a diseased degree,
beset by doubts, fears and insistent ideas, and a victim of verbal
automatisms, both motor and sensory. These were usually texts of
Scripture which, sometimes damnatory and sometimes favorable, would
come in a half- hallucinatory form as if they were voices, and fasten
on his mind and buffet it between them like a shuttlecock.  Added to
this were a fearful melancholy self-contempt and despair.

"Nay, thought I, now I grow worse and worse, now I am farther from
conversion than ever I was before.  If now I should have burned at the
stake, I could not believe that Christ had love for me; alas, I could
neither hear him, nor see him, nor feel him, nor savor any of his
things.  Sometimes I would tell my condition to the people of God,
which, when they heard, they would pity me, and would tell of the
Promises.  But they had as good have told me that I must reach the Sun
with my finger as have bidden me receive or rely upon the Promise.
[Yet] all this while as to the act of sinning, I never was more tender
than now; I durst not take a pin or stick, though but so big as a
straw, for my conscience now was sore, and would smart at every touch;
I could not tell how to speak my words, for fear I should misplace
them.  Oh, how gingerly did I then go, in all I did or said! I found
myself as on a miry bog that shook if I did but stir; and was as there
left both by God and Christ, and the spirit, and all good things.

"But my original and inward pollution, that was my plague and my
affliction.  By reason of that, I was more loathsome in my own eyes
than was a toad; and I thought I was so in God's eyes too.  Sin and
corruption, I said, would as naturally bubble out of my heart as water
would bubble out of a fountain.  I could have changed heart with
anybody.  I thought none but the Devil himself could equal me for
inward wickedness and pollution of mind.  Sure, thought I, I am
forsaken of God; and thus I continued a long while, even for some years

"And now I was sorry that God had made me a man.  The beasts, birds,
fishes, etc., I blessed their condition, for they had not a sinful
nature; they were not obnoxious to the wrath of God; they were not to
go to hell-fire after death.  I could therefore have rejoiced, had my
condition been as any of theirs.  Now I blessed the condition of the
dog and toad, yea, gladly would I have been in the condition of the dog
or horse, for I knew they had no soul to perish under the everlasting
weight of Hell or Sin, as mine was like to do.  Nay, and though I saw
this, felt this, and was broken to pieces with it, yet that which added
to my sorrow was, that I could not find with all my soul that I did
desire deliverance.  My heart was at times exceedingly hard.  If I
would have given a thousand pounds for a tear, I could not shed one;
no, nor sometimes scarce desire to shed one.

"I was both a burthen and a terror to myself; nor did I ever so know,
as now, what it was to be weary of my life, and yet afraid to die.  How
gladly would I have been anything but myself!  Anything but a man! and
in any condition but my own."[81]

[81] Grace abounding to the Chief of Sinners:  I have printed a number
of detached passages continuously.

Poor patient Bunyan, like Tolstoy, saw the light again, but we must
also postpone that part of his story to another hour.  In a later
lecture I will also give the end of the experience of Henry Alline, a
devoted evangelist who worked in Nova Scotia a hundred years ago, and
who thus vividly describes the high-water mark of the religious
melancholy which formed its beginning.  The type was not unlike

"Everything I saw seemed to be a burden to me; the earth seemed
accursed for my sake:  all trees, plants, rocks, hills, and vales
seemed to be dressed in mourning and groaning, under the weight of the
curse, and everything around me seemed to be conspiring my ruin.  My
sins seemed to be laid open; so that I thought that every one I saw
knew them, and sometimes I was almost ready to acknowledge many things,
which I thought they knew:  yea sometimes it seemed to me as if every
one was pointing me out as the most guilty wretch upon earth.  I had
now so great a sense of the vanity and emptiness of all things here
below, that I knew the whole world could not possibly make me happy,
no, nor the whole system of creation.  When I waked in the morning, the
first thought would be, Oh, my wretched soul, what shall I do, where
shall I go?  And when I laid down, would say, I shall be perhaps in
hell before morning. I would many times look on the beasts with envy,
wishing with all my heart I was in their place, that I might have no
soul to lose; and when I have seen birds flying over my head, have
often thought within myself, Oh, that I could fly away from my danger
and distress! Oh, how happy should I be, if I were in their place!"[82]

[82] The Life and Journal of the Rev. Mr. Henry Alline, Boston 1806,
pp. 25, 26.  I owe my acquaintance with this book to my colleague, Dr.
Benjamin Rand.

Envy of the placid beasts seems to be a very widespread affection in
this type of sadness.

The worst kind of melancholy is that which takes the form of panic
fear.  Here is an excellent example, for permission to print which I
have to thank the sufferer.  The original is in French, and though the
subject was evidently in a bad nervous condition at the time of which
he writes, his case has otherwise the merit of extreme simplicity.  I
translate freely.

"Whilst in this state of philosophic pessimism and general depression
of spirits about my prospects, I went one evening into a dressing-room
in the twilight to procure some article that was there; when suddenly
there fell upon me without any warning, just as if it came out of the
darkness, a horrible fear of my own existence.  Simultaneously there
arose in my mind the image of an epileptic patient whom I had seen in
the asylum, a black-haired youth with greenish skin, entirely idiotic,
who used to sit all day on one of the benches, or rather shelves
against the wall, with his knees drawn up against his chin, and the
coarse gray undershirt, which was his only garment, drawn over them
inclosing his entire figure.  He sat there like a sort of sculptured
Egyptian cat or Peruvian mummy, moving nothing but his black eyes and
looking absolutely non-human.  This image and my fear entered into a
species of combination with each other THAT SHAPE AM I, I felt,
potentially.  Nothing that I possess can defend me against that fate,
if the hour for it should strike for me as it struck for him.  There
was such a horror of him, and such a perception of my own merely
momentary discrepancy from him, that it was as if something hitherto
solid within my breast gave way entirely, and I became a mass of
quivering fear. After this the universe was changed for me altogether.
I awoke morning after morning with a horrible dread at the pit of my
stomach, and with a sense of the insecurity of life that I never knew
before, and that I have never felt since.[83] It was like a revelation;
and although the immediate feelings passed away, the experience has
made me sympathetic with the morbid feelings of others ever since.  It
gradually faded, but for months I was unable to go out into the dark

[83] Compare Bunyan.  "There was I struck into a very great trembling,
insomuch that at some times I could, for days together, feel my very
body, as well as my mind, to shake and totter under the sense of the
dreadful judgment of God, that should fall on those that have sinned
that most fearful and unpardonable sin.  I felt also such clogging and
heat at my stomach, by reason of this my terror, that I was, especially
at some times, as if my breast-bone would have split asunder....  Thus
did I wind, and twine, and shrink, under the burden that was upon me;
which burden also did so oppress me that I could neither stand, nor go,
nor lie, either at rest or quiet."

"In general I dreaded to be left alone.  I remember wondering how other
people could live, how I myself had ever lived, so unconscious of that
pit of insecurity beneath the surface of life.  My mother in
particular, a very cheerful person, seemed to me a perfect paradox in
her unconsciousness of danger, which you may well believe I was very
careful not to disturb by revelations of my own state of mind (I have
always thought that this experience of melancholia of mine had a
religious bearing."

On asking this correspondent to explain more fully what he meant by
these last words, the answer he wrote was this:--

"I mean that the fear was so invasive and powerful that if I had not
clung to scripture-texts like 'The eternal God is my refuge,' etc.,
'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy-laden,' etc., 'I am the
resurrection and the life,' etc., I think I should have grown really

[84] For another case of fear equally sudden, see Henry James: Society
the Redeemed Form of Man, Boston, 1879, pp. 43 ff.

There is no need of more examples.  The cases we have looked at are
enough.  One of them gives us the vanity of mortal things; another the
sense of sin; and the remaining one describes the fear of the
universe;--and in one or other of these three ways it always is that
man's original optimism and self-satisfaction get leveled with the dust.

In none of these cases was there any intellectual insanity or delusion
about matters of fact; but were we disposed to open the chapter of
really insane melancholia, with its {159} hallucinations and delusions,
it would be a worse story still--desperation absolute and complete, the
whole universe coagulating about the sufferer into a material of
overwhelming horror, surrounding him without opening or end.  Not the
conception or intellectual perception of evil, but the grisly
blood-freezing heart-palsying sensation of it close upon one, and no
other conception or sensation able to live for a moment in its
presence.  How irrelevantly remote seem all our usual refined optimisms
and intellectual and moral consolations in presence of a need of help
like this!  Here is the real core of the religious problem:  Help!
help!  No prophet can claim to bring a final message unless he says
things that will have a sound of reality in the ears of victims such as
these.  But the deliverance must come in as strong a form as the
complaint, if it is to take effect; and that seems a reason why the
coarser religions, revivalistic, orgiastic, with blood and miracles and
supernatural operations, may possibly never be displaced.  Some
constitutions need them too much.

Arrived at this point, we can see how great an antagonism may naturally
arise between the healthy-minded way of viewing life and the way that
takes all this experience of evil as something essential.  To this
latter way, the morbid-minded way, as we might call it,
healthy-mindedness pure and simple seems unspeakably blind and shallow.
To the healthy-minded way, on the other hand, the way of the sick soul
seems unmanly and diseased.  With their grubbing in rat-holes instead
of living in the light; with their manufacture of fears, and
preoccupation with every unwholesome kind of misery, there is something
almost obscene about these children of wrath and cravers of a second
birth.  If religious intolerance and hanging and burning could again
become the order of the day, there is little doubt that, however it may
have been in the past, the healthy-minded would {160} at present show
themselves the less indulgent party of the two.

In our own attitude, not yet abandoned, of impartial onlookers, what
are we to say of this quarrel?  It seems to me that we are bound to say
that morbid-mindedness ranges over the wider scale of experience, and
that its survey is the one that overlaps.  The method of averting one's
attention from evil, and living simply in the light of good is splendid
as long as it will work.  It will work with many persons; it will work
far more generally than most of us are ready to suppose; and within the
sphere of its successful operation there is nothing to be said against
it as a religious solution. But it breaks down impotently as soon as
melancholy comes; and even though one be quite free from melancholy
one's self, there is no doubt that healthy-mindedness is inadequate as
a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it refuses
positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and they
may after all be the best key to life's significance, and possibly the
only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth.

The normal process of life contains moments as bad as any of those
which insane melancholy is filled with, moments in which radical evil
gets its innings and takes its solid turn.  The lunatic's visions of
horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact.  Our civilization
is founded on the shambles, and every individual existence goes out in
a lonely spasm of helpless agony.  If you protest, my friend, wait till
you arrive there yourself!  To believe in the carnivorous reptiles of
geologic times is hard for our imagination--they seem too much like
mere museum specimens.  Yet there is no tooth in any one of those
museum-skulls that did not daily through long years of the foretime
hold fast to the body struggling in despair of some fated living
victim.  Forms of horror just as dreadful to the victims, if on a
smaller spatial scale, fill the world about us to-day.  Here on our
very {161} hearths and in our gardens the infernal cat plays with the
panting mouse, or holds the hot bird fluttering in her jaws. Crocodiles
and rattlesnakes and pythons are at this moment vessels of life as real
as we are; their loathsome existence fills every minute of every day
that drags its length along; and whenever they or other wild beasts
clutch their living prey, the deadly horror which an agitated
melancholiac feels is the literally right reaction on the situation.[85]

[85] Example:  "It was about eleven o'clock at night ... but I strolled
on still with the people.... Suddenly upon the left side of our road, a
crackling was heard among the bushes; all of us were alarmed, and in an
instant a tiger, rushing out of the jungle, pounced upon the one of the
party that was foremost, and carried him off in the twinkling of an
eye.  The rush of the animal, and the crush of the poor victim's bones
in his mouth, and his last cry of distress, 'Ho hai!' involuntarily
reechoed by all of us, was over in three seconds; and then I know not
what happened till I returned to my senses, when I found myself and
companions lying down on the ground as if prepared to be devoured by
our enemy the sovereign of the forest.  I find my pen incapable of
describing the terror of that dreadful moment.  Our limbs stiffened,
our power of speech ceased, and our hearts beat violently, and only a
whisper of the same 'Ho hai!' was heard from us.  In this state we
crept on all fours for some distance back, and then ran for life with
the speed of an Arab horse for about half an hour, and fortunately
happened to come to a small village.... After this every one of us was
attacked with fever, attended with shivering, in which deplorable state
we remained till morning."--Autobiography of Lutullah a Mohammedan
Gentleman, Leipzig, 1857, p. 112.

It may indeed be that no religious reconciliation with the absolute
totality of things is possible.  Some evils, indeed, are ministerial to
higher forms of good; but it may be that there are forms of evil so
extreme as to enter into no good system whatsoever, and that, in
respect of such evil, dumb submission or neglect to notice is the only
practical resource.  This question must confront us on a later day.
But provisionally, and as a mere matter of program and method, since
the evil facts are as genuine parts of nature as the good ones, the
philosophic presumption should be that they have some rational
significance, and that systematic healthy-mindedness, failing as it
does to accord to sorrow, pain, and death any positive and active
attention whatever, is formally less complete than systems that try at
least to include these elements in their scope.

The completest religions would therefore seem to be those in which the
pessimistic elements are best developed.  Buddhism, of course, and
Christianity are the best known to us of these.  They are essentially
religions of deliverance:  the man must die to an unreal life before he
can be born into the real life.  In my next lecture, I will try to
discuss some of the psychological conditions of this second birth.
Fortunately from now onward we shall have to deal with more cheerful
subjects than those which we have recently been dwelling on.

Lecture VIII


The last lecture was a painful one, dealing as it did with evil as a
pervasive element of the world we live in.  At the close of it we were
brought into full view of the contrast between the two ways of looking
at life which are characteristic respectively of what we called the
healthy-minded, who need to be born only once, and of the sick souls,
who must be twice-born in order to be happy.  The result is two
different conceptions of the universe of our experience.  In the
religion of the once-born the world is a sort of rectilinear or
one-storied affair, whose accounts are kept in one denomination, whose
parts have just the values which naturally they appear to have, and of
which a simple algebraic sum of pluses and minuses will give the total
worth.  Happiness and religious peace consist in living on the plus
side of the account. In the religion of the twice-born, on the other
hand, the world is a double-storied mystery.  Peace cannot be reached
by the simple addition of pluses and elimination of minuses from life.
Natural good is not simply insufficient in amount and transient, there
lurks a falsity in its very being. Cancelled as it all is by death if
not by earlier enemies, it gives no final balance, and can never be the
thing intended for our lasting worship. It keeps us from our real good,
rather; and renunciation and despair of it are our first step in the
direction of the truth.  There are two lives, the natural and the
spiritual, and we must lose the one before we can participate in the

In their extreme forms, of pure naturalism and pure salvationism, the
two types are violently contrasted; though here as in most other
current classifications, the radical extremes are somewhat ideal
abstractions, and the concrete human beings whom we oftenest meet are
intermediate varieties and mixtures.  Practically, however, you all
recognize the difference:  you understand, for example, the disdain of
the methodist convert for the mere sky-blue healthy-minded moralist;
and you likewise enter into the aversion of the latter to what seems to
him the diseased subjectivism of the Methodist, dying to live, as he
calls it, and making of paradox and the inversion of natural
appearances the essence of God's truth.[86]

[86] E.g., "Our young people are diseased with the theological problems
of original sin, origin of evil, predestination, and the like. These
never presented a practical difficulty to any man--never darkened
across any man's road, who did not go out of his way to seek them.
These are the soul's mumps, and measles, and whooping-coughs, etc.
Emerson:  Spiritual Laws.

The psychological basis of the twice-born character seems to be a
certain discordancy or heterogeneity in the native temperament of the
subject, an incompletely unified moral and intellectual constitution.

"Homo duplex, homo duplex!" writes Alphonse Daudet. "The first time
that I perceived that I was two was at the death of my brother Henri,
when my father cried out so dramatically, 'He is dead, he is dead!'
While my first self wept, my second self thought, 'How truly given was
that cry, how fine it would be at the theatre.'  I was then fourteen
years old.

"This horrible duality has often given me matter for reflection.  Oh,
this terrible second me, always seated whilst the other is on foot,
acting, living, suffering, bestirring itself.  This second me that I
have never been able to intoxicate, to make shed tears, or put to
sleep. And how it sees into things, and how it mocks!"[87]

[87] Notes sur la Vie, p. 1.

Recent works on the psychology of character have had much to say upon
this point.[88] Some persons are born with an inner constitution which
is harmonious and well balanced from the outset.  Their impulses are
consistent with one another, their will follows without trouble the
guidance of their intellect, their passions are not excessive, and
their lives are little haunted by regrets.  Others are oppositely
constituted; and are so in degrees which may vary from something so
slight as to result in a merely odd or whimsical inconsistency, to a
discordancy of which the consequences may be inconvenient in the
extreme.  Of the more innocent kinds of heterogeneity I find a good
example in Mrs. Annie Besant's autobiography.

[88] See, for example, F. Paulhan, in his book Les Caracteres, 1894,
who contrasts les Equilibres, les Unifies, with les Inquiets, les
Contrariants, les Incoherents, les Emiettes, as so many diverse psychic

"I have ever been the queerest mixture of weakness and strength, and
have paid heavily for the weakness.  As a child I used to suffer
tortures of shyness, and if my shoe-lace was untied would feel
shamefacedly that every eye was fixed on the unlucky string; as a girl
I would shrink away from strangers and think myself unwanted and
unliked, so that I was full of eager gratitude to any one who noticed
me kindly, as the young mistress of a house I was afraid of my
servants, and would let careless work pass rather than bear the pain of
reproving the ill-doer; when I have been lecturing and debating with no
lack of spirit on the platform, I have preferred to go without what I
wanted at the hotel rather than to ring and make the waiter fetch it.
Combative on the platform in defense of any cause I cared for, I shrink
from quarrel or disapproval in the house, and am a coward at heart in
private while a good fighter in public.  How often have I passed
unhappy quarters of an hour screwing up my courage to find fault with
some subordinate whom my duty compelled me to reprove, and how often
have I jeered myself for a fraud as the doughty platform combatant,
when shrinking from blaming some lad or lass for doing their work
badly.  An unkind look or word has availed to make me shrink into
myself as a snail into its shell, while, on the platform, opposition
makes me speak my best."[89]

[89] Annie Besant:  an Autobiography, p. 82.

This amount of inconsistency will only count as amiable weakness; but a
stronger degree of heterogeneity may make havoc of the subject's life.
There are persons whose existence is little more than a series of
zig-zags, as now one tendency and now another gets the upper hand.
Their spirit wars with their flesh, they wish for incompatibles,
wayward impulses interrupt their most deliberate plans, and their lives
are one long drama of repentance and of effort to repair misdemeanors
and mistakes.

Heterogeneous personality has been explained as the result of
inheritance--the traits of character of incompatible and antagonistic
ancestors are supposed to be preserved alongside of each other.[90]
This explanation may pass for what it is worth--it certainly needs
corroboration.  But whatever the cause of heterogeneous personality may
be, we find the extreme examples of it in the psychopathic temperament,
of which I spoke in my first lecture.  All writers about that
temperament make the inner heterogeneity prominent in their
descriptions.  Frequently, indeed, it is only this trait that leads us
to ascribe that temperament to a man at all.  A "degenere superieur" is
simply a man of sensibility in many directions, who finds more
difficulty than is common in keeping {167} his spiritual house in order
and running his furrow straight, because his feelings and impulses are
too keen and too discrepant mutually.  In the haunting and insistent
ideas, in the irrational impulses, the morbid scruples, dreads, and
inhibitions which beset the psychopathic temperament when it is
thoroughly pronounced, we have exquisite examples of heterogeneous
personality.  Bunyan had an obsession of the words, "Sell Christ for
this, sell him for that, sell him, sell him!" which would run through
his mind a hundred times together, until one day out of breath with
retorting, "I will not, I will not," he impulsively said, "Let him go
if he will," and this loss of the battle kept him in despair for over a
year.  The lives of the saints are full of such blasphemous obsessions,
ascribed invariably to the direct agency of Satan.  The phenomenon
connects itself with the life of the subconscious self, so-called, of
which we must erelong speak more directly.

[90] Smith Baker, in Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, September,

Now in all of us, however constituted, but to a degree the greater in
proportion as we are intense and sensitive and subject to diversified
temptations, and to the greatest possible degree if we are decidedly
psychopathic, does the normal evolution of character chiefly consist in
the straightening out and unifying of the inner self.  The higher and
the lower feelings, the useful and the erring impulses, begin by being
a comparative chaos within us--they must end by forming a stable system
of functions in right subordination.  Unhappiness is apt to
characterize the period of order-making and struggle.  If the
individual be of tender conscience and religiously quickened, the
unhappiness will take the form of moral remorse and compunction, of
feeling inwardly vile and wrong, and of standing in false relations to
the author of one's being and appointer of one's spiritual fate.  This
is the religious melancholy and "conviction of sin" that have played so
large a part in the history of Protestant Christianity.  The man's
interior is a battle-ground for what he feels to be two deadly hostile
selves, one actual, the other ideal.  As Victor Hugo makes his Mahomet

     "Je suis le champ vil des sublimes combats:
     Tantot l'homme d'en haut, et tantot l'homme d'en bas;
     Et le mal dans ma bouche avec le bien alterne,
     Comme dans le desert le sable et la citerne."

Wrong living, impotent aspirations; "What I would, that do I not; but
what I hate, that do I," as Saint Paul says; self-loathing,
self-despair; an unintelligible and intolerable burden to which one is
mysteriously the heir.

Let me quote from some typical cases of discordant personality, with
melancholy in the form of self-condemnation and sense of sin.  Saint
Augustine's case is a classic example.  You all remember his
half-pagan, half-Christian bringing up at Carthage, his emigration to
Rome and Milan, his adoption of Manicheism and subsequent skepticism,
and his restless search for truth and purity of life; and finally how,
distracted by the struggle between the two souls in his breast and
ashamed of his own weakness of will, when so many others whom he knew
and knew of had thrown off the shackles of sensuality and dedicated
themselves to chastity and the higher life, he heard a voice in the
garden say, "Sume, lege" (take and read), and opening the Bible at
random, saw the text, "not in chambering and wantonness," etc., which
seemed directly sent to his address, and laid the inner storm to rest
forever.[91] Augustine's psychological genius has given an account of
the trouble of having a divided self which has never been surpassed.

[91] Louis Gourdon (Essai sur la Conversion de Saint Augustine, Paris,
Fischbacher, 1900) has shown by an analysis of Augustine's writings
immediately after the date of his conversion (A. D. 386) that the
account he gives in the Confessions is premature.  The crisis in the
garden marked a definitive conversion from his former life, but it was
to the neo-platonic spiritualism and only a halfway stage toward
Christianity.  The latter he appears not fully and radically to have
embraced until four years more had passed.

"The new will which I began to have was not yet strong enough to
overcome that other will, strengthened by long indulgence. So these two
wills, one old, one new, one carnal, the other spiritual, contended
with each other and disturbed my soul.  I understood by my own
experience what I had read, 'flesh lusteth against spirit, and spirit
against flesh.' It was myself indeed in both the wills, yet more myself
in that which I approved in myself than in that which I disapproved in
myself.  Yet it was through myself that habit had attained so fierce a
mastery over me, because I had willingly come whither I willed not.
Still bound to earth, I refused, O God, to fight on thy side, as much
afraid to be freed from all bonds, as I ought to have feared being
trammeled by them.

"Thus the thoughts by which I meditated upon thee were like the efforts
of one who would awake, but being overpowered with sleepiness is soon
asleep again.  Often does a man when heavy sleepiness is on his limbs
defer to shake it off, and though not approving it, encourage it; even
so I was sure it was better to surrender to thy love than to yield to
my own lusts, yet though the former course convinced me, the latter
pleased and held me bound.  There was naught in me to answer thy call
'Awake, thou sleeper,' but only drawling, drowsy words, 'Presently;
yes, presently; wait a little while.'  But the 'presently' had no
'present,' and the 'little while' grew long....  For I was afraid thou
wouldst hear me too soon, and heal me at once of my disease of lust,
which I wished to satiate rather than to see extinguished.  With what
lashes of words did I not scourge my own soul.  Yet it shrank back; it
refused, though it had no excuse to offer.... I said within myself:
'Come, let it be done now,' and as I said it, I was on the point of the
resolve.  I all but did it, yet I did not do it.  And I made another
effort, and almost succeeded, yet I did not reach it, and did not grasp
it, hesitating to die to death, and live to life, and the evil to which
I was so wonted held me more than the better life I had not tried."[92]

[92] Confessions, Book VIII., Chaps. v., vii., xi., abridged.

There could be no more perfect description of the divided will, when
the higher wishes lack just that last acuteness, that touch of
explosive intensity, of dynamogenic quality (to use the slang of the
psychologists), that enables them to burst their shell, and make
irruption efficaciously into life and quell the lower tendencies
forever.  In a later lecture we shall have much to say about this
higher excitability.

I find another good description of the divided will in the
autobiography of Henry Alline, the Nova Scotian evangelist, of whose
melancholy I read a brief account in my last lecture.  The poor youth's
sins were, as you will see, of the most harmless order, yet they
interfered with what proved to be his truest vocation, so they gave him
great distress.

"I was now very moral in my life, but found no rest of conscience.  I
now began to be esteemed in young company, who knew nothing of my mind
all this while, and their esteem began to be a snare to my soul, for I
soon began to be fond of carnal mirth, though I still flattered myself
that if I did not get drunk, nor curse, nor swear, there would be no
sin in frolicking and carnal mirth, and I thought God would indulge
young people with some (what I called simple or civil) recreation.  I
still kept a round of duties, and would not suffer myself to run into
any open vices, and so got along very well in time of health and
prosperity, but when I was distressed or threatened by sickness, death,
or heavy storms of thunder, my religion would not do, and I found there
was something wanting, and would begin to repent my going so much to
frolics, but when the distress was over, the devil and my own wicked
heart, with the solicitations of my associates, and my fondness for
young company, were such strong allurements, I would again give way,
and thus I got to be very wild and rude, at the same time kept up my
rounds of secret prayer and reading; but God, not willing I should
destroy myself, still followed me with his calls, and moved with such
power upon my conscience, that I could not satisfy myself with my
diversions, and in the midst of my mirth sometimes would have such a
sense of my lost and undone condition, that I would wish myself from
the company, and after it was over, when I went home, would make many
promises that I would attend no more on these frolics, and would beg
forgiveness for hours and hours; but when I came to have the temptation
again, I would give way:  no sooner would I hear the music and drink a
glass of wine, but I would find my mind elevated and soon proceed to
any sort of merriment or diversion, that I thought was not debauched or
openly vicious; but when I returned from my carnal mirth I felt as
guilty as ever, and could sometimes not close my eyes for some hours
after I had gone to my bed.  I was one of the most unhappy creatures on

"Sometimes I would leave the company (often speaking to the fiddler to
cease from playing, as if I was tired), and go out and walk about
crying and praying, as if my very heart would break, and beseeching God
that he would not cut me off, nor give me up to hardness of heart.  Oh,
what unhappy hours and nights I thus wore away!  When I met sometimes
with merry companions, and my heart was ready to sink, I would labor to
put on as cheerful a countenance as possible, that they might not
distrust anything, and sometimes would begin some discourse with young
men or young women on purpose, or propose a merry song, lest the
distress of my soul would be discovered, or mistrusted, when at the
same time I would then rather have been in a wilderness in exile, than
with them or any of their pleasures or enjoyments.  Thus for many
months when I was in company?  I would act the hypocrite and feign a
merry heart but at the same time would endeavor as much as I could to
shun their company, oh wretched and unhappy mortal that I was!
Everything I did, and wherever I went, I was still in a storm and yet I
continued to be the chief contriver and ringleader of the frolics for
many months after; though it was a toil and torment to attend them; but
the devil and my own wicked heart drove me about like a slave, telling
me that I must do this and do that, and bear this and bear that, and
turn here and turn there, to keep my credit up, and retain the esteem
of my associates:  and all this while I continued as strict as possible
in my duties, and left no stone unturned to pacify my conscience,
watching even against my thoughts, and praying continually wherever I
went:  for I did not think there was any sin in my conduct, when I was
among carnal company, because I did not take any satisfaction there,
but only followed it, I thought, for sufficient reasons.

"But still, all that I did or could do, conscience would roar night and

Saint Augustine and Alline both emerged into the smooth waters of inner
unity and peace, and I shall next ask you to consider more closely some
of the peculiarities of the process of unification, when it occurs.  It
may come gradually, or it may occur abruptly; it may come through
altered feelings, or through altered powers of action; or it may come
through new intellectual insights, or through experiences which we
shall later have to designate as 'mystical.'  However it come, it
brings a characteristic sort of relief; and never such extreme relief
as when it is cast into the religious mould.  Happiness! happiness!
religion is only one of the ways in which men gain that gift.  Easily,
permanently, and successfully, it often transforms the most intolerable
misery into the profoundest and most enduring happiness.

But to find religion is only one out of many ways of reaching unity;
and the process of remedying inner incompleteness and reducing inner
discord is a general psychological process, which may take place with
any sort of mental material, and need not necessarily assume the
religious form.  In judging of the religious types of regeneration
which we are about to study, it is important to recognize that they are
only one species of a genus that contains other types as well.  For
example, the new birth may be away from religion into incredulity; or
it may be from moral scrupulosity into freedom and license; or it may
be produced by the irruption into the individual's life of some new
stimulus or passion, such as love, ambition, cupidity, revenge, or
patriotic devotion.  In all these instances we have precisely the same
psychological form of event,--a firmness, stability, and equilibrium
{173} succeeding a period of storm and stress and inconsistency.  In
these non-religious cases the new man may also be born either gradually
or suddenly.

The French philosopher Jouffroy has left an eloquent memorial of his
own "counter-conversion," as the transition from orthodoxy to
infidelity has been well styled by Mr. Starbuck.  Jouffroy's doubts had
long harassed him; but he dates his final crisis from a certain night
when his disbelief grew fixed and stable, and where the immediate
result was sadness at the illusions he had lost.

"I shall never forget that night of December," writes Jouffroy, "in
which the veil that concealed from me my own incredulity was torn.  I
hear again my steps in that narrow naked chamber where long after the
hour of sleep had come I had the habit of walking up and down.  I see
again that moon, half-veiled by clouds, which now and again illuminated
the frigid window-panes.  The hours of the night flowed on and I did
not note their passage.  Anxiously I followed my thoughts, as from
layer to layer they descended towards the foundation of my
consciousness, and, scattering one by one all the illusions which until
then had screened its windings from my view, made them every moment
more clearly visible.

"Vainly I clung to these last beliefs as a shipwrecked sailor clings to
the fragments of his vessel; vainly, frightened at the unknown void in
which I was about to float, I turned with them towards my childhood, my
family, my country, all that was dear and sacred to me:  the inflexible
current of my thought was too strong--parents, family, memory, beliefs,
it forced me to let go of everything.  The investigation went on more
obstinate and more severe as it drew near its term, and did not stop
until the end was reached.  I knew then that in the depth of my mind
nothing was left that stood erect.

"This moment was a frightful one; and when towards morning I threw
myself exhausted on my bed, I seemed to feel my earlier life, so
smiling and so full, go out like a fire, and before me another life
opened, sombre and unpeopled, where in future I must live alone, alone
with my fatal thought which had exiled me thither, and which I was
tempted to curse.  The days which followed this discovery were the
saddest of my life."[93]

[93] Th. Jouffroy:  Nouveaux Melanges philosophiques, 2me edition, p.
83.  I add two other cases of counter-conversion dating from a certain
moment.  The first is from Professor Starbuck's manuscript collection,
and the narrator is a woman.

"Away down in the bottom of my heart, I believe I was always more or
less skeptical about 'God;' skepticism grew as an undercurrent, all
through my early youth, but it was controlled and covered by the
emotional elements in my religious growth.  When I was sixteen I joined
the church and was asked if I loved God.  I replied 'Yes,' as was
customary and expected.  But instantly with a flash something spoke
within me, 'No, you do not.'  I was haunted for a long time with shame
and remorse for my falsehood and for my wickedness in not loving God,
mingled with fear that there might be an avenging God who would punish
me in some terrible way.... At nineteen, I had an attack of tonsilitis.
Before I had quite recovered, I heard told a story of a brute who had
kicked his wife down-stairs, and then continued the operation until she
became insensible.  I felt the horror of the thing keenly.  Instantly
this thought flashed through my mind:  'I have no use for a God who
permits such things.'  This experience was followed by months of
stoical indifference to the God of my previous life, mingled with
feelings of positive dislike and a somewhat proud defiance of him.  I
still thought there might be a God.  If so he would probably damn me,
but I should have to stand it.  I felt very little fear and no desire
to propitiate him.  I have never had any personal relations with him
since this painful experience."

The second case exemplifies how small an additional stimulus will
overthrow the mind into a new state of equilibrium when the process of
preparation and incubation has proceeded far enough.  It is like the
proverbial last straw added to the camel's burden, or that touch of a
needle which makes the salt in a supersaturated fluid suddenly begin to
crystallize out.

Tolstoy writes:  "S., a frank and intelligent man, told me as follows
how he ceased to believe:--

"He was twenty-six years old when one day on a hunting expedition, the
time for sleep having come, he set himself to pray according to the
custom he had held from childhood.

"His brother, who was hunting with him, lay upon the hay and looked at
him.  When S. had finished his prayer and was turning to sleep, the
brother said, 'Do you still keep up that thing?' Nothing more was said.
But since that day, now more than thirty years ago, S.  has never
prayed again; he never takes communion, and does not go to church.  All
this, not because he became acquainted with convictions of his brother
which he then and there adopted; not because he made any new resolution
in his soul, but merely because the words spoken by his brother were
like the light push of a finger against a leaning wall already about to
tumble by its own weight.  These words but showed him that the place
wherein he supposed religion dwelt in him had long been empty, and that
the sentences he uttered, the crosses and bows which he made during his
prayer, were actions with no inner sense.  Having once seized their
absurdity, he could no longer keep them up."    Ma Confession, p. 8.

I subjoin an additional document which has come into my possession, and
which represents in a vivid way what is probably a very frequent sort
of conversion, if the opposite of 'falling in love,' falling out of
love, may be so termed.  Falling in love also conforms frequently to
this type, a latent process of unconscious preparation often preceding
a sudden awakening to the fact that the mischief is irretrievably done.
The free and easy tone in this narrative gives it a sincerity that
speaks for itself.

"For two years of this time I went through a very bad experience, which
almost drove me mad.  I had fallen violently in love with a girl who,
young as she was, had a spirit of coquetry like a cat.  As I look back
on her now, I hate her, and wonder how I could ever have fallen so low
as to be worked upon to such an extent by her attractions.
Nevertheless, I fell into a regular fever, could think of nothing else;
whenever I was alone, I pictured her attractions, and spent most of the
time when I should have been working, in recalling our previous
interviews, and imagining future conversations.  She was very pretty,
good humored, and jolly to the last degree, and intensely pleased with
my admiration.  Would give me no decided answer yes or no and the queer
thing about it was that whilst pursuing her for her hand, I secretly
knew all along that she was unfit to be a wife for me, and that she
never would say yes.  Although for a year we took our meals at the same
boarding-house, so that I saw her continually and familiarly, our
closer relations had to be largely on the sly, and this fact, together
with my jealousy of another one of her male admirers and my own
conscience despising me for my uncontrollable weakness, made me so
nervous and sleepless that I really thought I should become insane.  I
understand well those young men murdering their sweethearts, which
appear so often in the papers.  Nevertheless I did love her
passionately, and in some ways she did deserve it.

"The queer thing was the sudden and unexpected way in which it all
stopped.  I was going to my work after breakfast one morning, thinking
as usual of her and of my misery, when, just as if some outside power
laid hold of me, I found myself turning round and almost running to my
room, where I immediately got out all the relics of her which I
possessed, including some hair, all her notes and letters and
ambrotypes on glass.  The former I made a fire of, the latter I
actually crushed beneath my heel, in a sort of fierce joy of revenge
and punishment.  I now loathed and despised her altogether, and as for
myself I felt as if a load of disease had suddenly been removed from
me.  That was the end.  I never spoke to her or wrote to her again in
all the subsequent years, and I have never had a single moment of
loving thought towards one for so many months entirely filled my heart.
In fact, I have always rather hated her memory, though now I can see
that I had gone unnecessarily far in that direction.  At any rate, from
that happy morning onward I regained possession of my own proper soul,
and have never since fallen into any similar trap."

This seems to me an unusually clear example of two different levels of
personality, inconsistent in their dictates, yet so well balanced
against each other as for a long time to fill the life with discord and
dissatisfaction.  At last, not gradually, but in a sudden crisis, the
unstable equilibrium is resolved, and this happens so unexpectedly that
it is as if, to use the writer's words, "some outside power laid hold."

Professor Starbuck gives an analogous case, and a converse case of
hatred suddenly turning into love, in his Psychology of Religion, p.
141.  Compare the other highly curious instances which he gives on pp.
137-144, of sudden non-religious alterations of habit or character. He
seems right in conceiving all such sudden changes as results of special
cerebral functions unconsciously developing until they are ready to
play a controlling part when they make irruption into the conscious
life.  When we treat of sudden 'conversion,' I shall make as much use
as I can of this hypothesis of subconscious incubation.

{175} In John Foster's Essay on Decision of Character, there is an
account of a case of sudden conversion to avarice, which is
illustrative enough to quote:--

A young man, it appears, "wasted, in two or three years, a large
patrimony in profligate revels with a number of worthless associates
who called themselves his friends, and who, when his last means were
exhausted, treated him of course with neglect or contempt.  Reduced to
absolute want, he one day went out of the house with an intention to
put an end to his life, but wandering awhile almost unconsciously, he
came to the brow of an eminence which overlooked what were lately his
estates.  Here he sat down, and remained fixed in thought a number of
hours, at the end of which he sprang from the ground with a vehement,
exulting emotion.  He had formed his resolution, which was, that all
these estates should be his again; he had formed his plan, too, which
he instantly began to execute.  He walked hastily forward, determined
to seize the first opportunity, of however humble a kind, to gain any
money, though it were ever so despicable a trifle, and resolved
absolutely not to spend, if he could help it, a farthing of whatever he
might obtain.  The first thing that drew his attention was a heap of
coals shot out of carts on the pavement before a house.  He offered
himself to shovel or wheel them into the place where they were to be
laid, and was employed.

He received a few pence for the labor; and then, in pursuance of the
saving part of his plan requested some small gratuity of meat and
drink, which was given {176} him.  He then looked out for the next
thing that might chance; and went, with indefatigable industry, through
a succession of servile employments in different places, of longer and
shorter duration, still scrupulous in avoiding, as far as possible, the
expense of a penny.  He promptly seized every opportunity which could
advance his design, without regarding the meanness of occupation or
appearance.  By this method he had gained, after a considerable time,
money enough to purchase in order to sell again a few cattle, of which
he had taken pains to understand the value.  He speedily but cautiously
turned his first gains into second advantages; retained without a
single deviation his extreme parsimony; and thus advanced by degrees
into larger transactions and incipient wealth.  I did not hear, or have
forgotten, the continued course of his life, but the final result was,
that he more than recovered his lost possessions, and died an
inveterate miser, worth L60,000."[94]

[94] Op. cit., Letter III., abridged.

Let me turn now to the kind of case, the religious case, namely, that
immediately concerns us.  Here is one of the simplest possible type, an
account of the conversion to the systematic religion of
healthy-mindedness of a man who must already have been naturally of the
healthy-minded type.  It shows how, when the fruit is ripe, a touch
will make it fall.

Mr. Horace Fletcher, in his little book called Menticulture, relates
that a friend with whom he was talking of the self-control attained by
the Japanese through their practice of the Buddhist discipline said:--

"'You must first get rid of anger and worry.'  'But,' said I, 'is that
possible?'  'Yes,' replied he; 'it is possible to the Japanese, and
ought to be possible to us.'

"On my way back I could think of nothing else but the words get rid,
get rid'; and the idea must have continued to possess me during my
sleeping hours, for the first consciousness in the morning brought back
the same thought, with the revelation of a discovery, which framed
itself into the reasoning, 'If it is possible to get rid of anger and
worry, why is it necessary to have them at all?'  I felt the strength
of the argument, and at once accepted the reasoning.  The baby had
discovered that it could walk.  It would scorn to creep any longer.

"From the instant I realized that these cancer spots of worry and anger
were removable, they left me.  With the discovery of their weakness
they were exorcised.  From that time life has had an entirely different

"Although from that moment the possibility and desirability of freedom
from the depressing passions has been a reality to me, it took me some
months to feel absolute security in my new position; but, as the usual
occasions for worry and anger have presented themselves over and over
again, and I have been unable to feel them in the slightest degree, I
no longer dread or guard against them, and I am amazed at my increased
energy and vigor of mind, at my strength to meet situations of all
kinds and at my disposition to love and appreciate everything.

"I have had occasion to travel more than ten thousand miles by rail
since that morning.  The same Pullman porter, conductor, hotel-waiter,
peddler, book-agent, cabman, and others who were formerly a source of
annoyance and irritation have been met, but I am not conscious of a
single incivility.  All at once the whole world has turned good to me.
I have become, as it were, sensitive only to the rays of good.

"I could recount many experiences which prove a brand-new condition of
mind, but one will be sufficient.  Without the slightest feeling of
annoyance or impatience, I have seen a train that I had planned to take
with a good deal of interested and pleasurable anticipation move out of
the station without me, because my baggage did not arrive.  The porter
from the hotel came running and panting into the station just as the
train pulled out of sight.  When he saw me, he looked as if he feared a
scolding. and began to tell of being blocked in a crowded street and
unable to get out.  When he had finished, I said to him:  'It doesn't
matter at all, you couldn't help it, so we will try again to-morrow.
Here is your fee, I am sorry you had all this trouble in earning it.'
The look of surprise that came over his face was so filled with
pleasure that I was repaid on the spot for the delay in my departure.
Next day he would not accept a cent for the service, and he and I are
friends for life.

"During the first weeks of my experience I was on guard only against
worry and anger; but, in the mean time, having noticed the absence of
the other depressing and dwarfing passions, I began to trace a
relationship, until I was convinced that they are all growths from the
two roots I have specified.  I have felt the freedom now for so long a
time that I am sure of my relation toward it; and I could no more
harbor any of the thieving and depressing influences that once I nursed
as a heritage of humanity than a fop would voluntarily wallow in a
filthy gutter.

"There is no doubt in my mind that pure Christianity and pure Buddhism,
and the Mental Sciences and all Religions fundamentally teach what has
been a discovery to me; but none of them have presented it in the light
of a simple and easy process of elimination.  At one time I wondered if
the elimination would not yield to indifference and sloth.  In my
experience, the contrary is the result.  I feel such an increased
desire to do something useful that it seems as if I were a boy again
and the energy for play had returned.  I could fight as readily as (and
better than) ever, if there were occasion for it.  It does not make one
a coward.  It can't, since fear is one of the things eliminated.  I
notice the absence of timidity in the presence of any audience.  When a
boy, I was standing under a tree which was struck by lightning, and
received a shock from the effects of which I never knew exemption until
I had dissolved partnership with worry.  Since then, lightning and
thunder have been encountered under conditions which would formerly
have caused great depression and discomfort, without [my] experiencing
a trace of either.  Surprise is also greatly modified, and one is less
liable to become startled by unexpected sights or noises.

"As far as I am individually concerned, I am not bothering myself at
present as to what the results of this emancipated condition may be.  I
have no doubt that the perfect health aimed at by Christian Science may
be one of the possibilities, for I note a marked improvement in the way
my stomach does its duty in assimilating the food I give it to handle,
and I am sure it works better to the sound of a song than under the
friction of a frown.  Neither am I wasting any of this precious time
formulating an idea of a future existence or a future Heaven.  The
Heaven that I have within myself is as attractive as any that has been
promised or that I can imagine; and I am willing to let the growth lead
where it will, as long as the anger and their brood have no part in
misguiding it."[95]

[95] H. Fletcher:  Menticulture, or the A-B-C of True Living, New York
and Chicago, 1899, pp. 26, 36, abridged.

The older medicine used to speak of two ways, lysis and crisis, one
gradual, the other abrupt, in which one might recover from a bodily
disease.  In the spiritual realm there are also two ways, one gradual,
the other sudden, in which inner unification may occur.  Tolstoy and
Bunyan may again serve us as examples, examples, as it happens, of the
gradual way, though it must be confessed at the outset that it is hard
to follow these windings of the hearts of others, and one feels that
their words do not reveal their total secret.

Howe'er this be, Tolstoy, pursuing his unending questioning, {181}
seemed to come to one insight after another.  First he perceived that
his conviction that life was meaningless took only this finite life
into account.  He was looking for the value of one finite term in that
of another, and the whole result could only be one of those
indeterminate equations in mathematics which end with infinity.  Yet
this is as far as the reasoning intellect by itself can go, unless
irrational sentiment or faith brings in the infinite.  Believe in the
infinite as common people do, and life grows possible again.

"Since mankind has existed, wherever life has been, there also has been
the faith that gave the possibility of living.  Faith is the sense of
life, that sense by virtue of which man does not destroy himself, but
continues to live on.  It is the force whereby we live. If Man did not
believe that he must live for something, he would not live at all.  The
idea of an infinite God, of the divinity of the soul, of the union of
men's actions with God--these are ideas elaborated in the infinite
secret depths of human thought.  They are ideas without which there
would be no life, without which I myself," said Tolstoy, "would not
exist.  I began to see that I had no right to rely on my individual
reasoning and neglect these answers given by faith, for they are the
only answers to the question."

Yet how believe as the common people believe, steeped as they are in
grossest superstition?  It is impossible--but yet their life!  their
life! It is normal.  It is happy!  It is an answer to the question!

Little by little, Tolstoy came to the settled conviction--he says it
took him two years to arrive there--that his trouble had not been with
life in general, not with the common life of common men, but with the
life of the upper, intellectual, artistic classes, the life which he
had personally always led, the cerebral life, the life of
conventionality, artificiality, and personal ambition.  He had been
living wrongly and must change.  To work for animal needs, to abjure
lies and vanities, to relieve common wants, to be simple, to believe in
God, therein lay happiness again.

"I remember," he says, "one day in early spring, I was alone in the
forest, lending my ear to its mysterious noises.  I listened, and my
thought went back to what for these three years it always was busy
with--the quest of God.  But the idea of him, I said, how did I ever
come by the idea?

"And again there arose in me, with this thought, glad aspirations
towards life.  Everything in me awoke and received a meaning....  Why
do I look farther?  a voice within me asked.  He is there: he, without
whom one cannot live.  To acknowledge God and to live are one and the
same thing.  God is what life is.  Well, then!  live, seek God, and
there will be no life without him....

"After this, things cleared up within me and about me better than ever,
and the light has never wholly died away.  I was saved from suicide.
Just how or when the change took place I cannot tell.  But as
insensibly and gradually as the force of life had been annulled within
me, and I had reached my moral death-bed, just as gradually and
imperceptibly did the energy of life come back.  And what was strange
was that this energy that came back was nothing new.  It was my ancient
juvenile force of faith, the belief that the sole purpose of my life
was to be BETTER.   I gave up the life of the conventional world,
recognizing it to be no life, but a parody on life, which its
superfluities simply keep us from comprehending,"--and Tolstoy
thereupon embraced the life of the peasants, and has felt right and
happy, or at least relatively so, ever since.[96]

[96] I have considerably abridged Tolstoy's words in my translation.

As I interpret his melancholy, then, it was not merely an accidental
vitiation of his humors, though it was doubtless also that.  It was
logically called for by the clash between his inner character and his
outer activities and aims.  Although a literary artist, Tolstoy was one
of those primitive oaks of men to whom the superfluities and
insincerities, the cupidities, complications, and cruelties of our
polite civilization are profoundly unsatisfying, and for whom the
eternal veracities lie with more natural and animal things.  His crisis
was the getting of his soul in order, the discovery of its genuine
habitat and vocation, the escape from falsehoods into what for him were
ways of truth.  It was a case of heterogeneous personality tardily and
slowly finding its unity and level. And though not many of us can
imitate Tolstoy, not having enough, perhaps, of the aboriginal human
marrow in our bones, most of us may at least feel as if it might be
better for us if we could.

Bunyan's recovery seems to have been even slower.  For years together
he was alternately haunted with texts of Scripture, now up and now
down, but at last with an ever growing relief in his salvation through
the blood of Christ.

"My peace would be in and out twenty times a day; comfort now and
trouble presently; peace now and before I could go a furlong as full of
guilt and fear as ever heart could hold."  When a good text comes home
to him, "This," he writes, "gave me good encouragement for the space of
two or three hours"; or "This was a good day to me, I hope I shall not
forget it", or "The glory of these words was then so weighty on me that
I was ready to swoon as I sat; yet, not with grief and trouble, but
with solid joy and peace"; or "This made a strange seizure on my
spirit; it brought light with it, and commanded a silence in my heart
of all those tumultuous thoughts that before did use, like masterless
hell-hounds, to roar and bellow and make a hideous noise within me.  It
showed me that Jesus Christ had not quite forsaken and cast off my

Such periods accumulate until he can write:  "And now remained only the
hinder part of the tempest, for the thunder was gone beyond me, only
some drops would still remain, that now and then would fall upon
me";--and at last:  "Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed; I was
loosed from my afflictions and irons; my temptations also fled away; so
that from that time, those dreadful Scriptures of God left off to
trouble me; now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of
God.... Now could I see myself in Heaven and Earth at once; in Heaven
by my Christ, by my Head, by my Righteousness and Life, though on Earth
by my body or person....  Christ was a precious Christ to my soul that
night; I could scarce lie in my bed for joy and peace and triumph
through Christ."

Bunyan became a minister of the gospel, and in spite of his neurotic
constitution, and of the twelve years he lay in prison for his
non-conformity, his life was turned to active use.  He was a peacemaker
and doer of good, and the immortal Allegory which he wrote has brought
the very spirit of religious patience home to English hearts.

But neither Bunyan nor Tolstoy could become what we have called
healthy-minded.  They had drunk too deeply of the cup of bitterness
ever to forget its taste, and their redemption is into a universe two
stories deep.  Each of them realized a good which broke the effective
edge of his sadness; yet the sadness was preserved as a minor
ingredient in the heart of the faith by which it was overcome.  The
fact of interest for us is that as a matter of fact they could and did
find SOMETHING welling up in the inner reaches of their consciousness,
by which such extreme sadness could be overcome.  Tolstoy does well to
talk of it as THAT BY WHICH MEN LIVE; for that is exactly what it is, a
stimulus, an excitement, a faith, a force that re-infuses the positive
willingness to live, even in full presence of the evil perceptions that
erewhile made life seem unbearable.  For Tolstoy's perceptions of evil
appear within their sphere to have remained unmodified.  His later
works show him implacable to the whole system of official values:  the
ignobility of fashionable life; the infamies of empire; the
spuriousness of the church, the vain conceit of the professions; the
meannesses and cruelties that go with great success; and every other
pompous crime and lying institution of this world.  To all patience
with such things his experience has been for him a perroanent ministry
of death.

Bunyan also leaves this world to the enemy.

"I must first pass a sentence of death," he says, "upon everything that
can properly be called a thing of this life, even to reckon myself, my
wife, my children, my health, my enjoyments, and all, as dead to me,
and myself as dead to them; to trust in God through Christ, as touching
the world to come, and as touching this world, to count the grave my
house, to make my bed in darkness, and to say to corruption, Thou art
my father and to the worm, Thou art my mother and sister....  The
parting with my wife and my poor children hath often been to me as the
pulling of my flesh from my bones, especially my poor blind child who
lay nearer my heart than all I had besides.  Poor child, thought I,
what sorrow art thou like to have for thy portion in this world!  Thou
must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a
thousand calamities, though I cannot now endure that the wind should
blow upon thee.  But yet I must venture you all with God, though it
goeth to the quick to leave you."[97]

[97] In my quotations from Bunyan I have omitted certain intervening
portions of the text.

The "hue of resolution" is there, but the full flood of ecstatic
liberation seems never to have poured over poor John Bunyan's soul.

These examples may suffice to acquaint us in a general way with the
phenomenon technically called "Conversion."  In the next lecture I
shall invite you to study its peculiarities and concomitants in some

Lecture IX


To be converted, to be regenerated, to receive grace, to experience
religion, to gain an assurance, are so many phrases which denote the
process, gradual or sudden, by which a self hitherto divided, and
consciously wrong inferior and unhappy, becomes unified and consciously
right superior and happy, in consequence of its firmer hold upon
religious realities.  This at least is what conversion signifies in
general terms, whether or not we believe that a direct divine operation
is needed to bring such a moral change about.

Before entering upon a minuter study of the process, let me enliven our
understanding of the definition by a concrete example.  I choose the
quaint case of an unlettered man, Stephen H. Bradley, whose experience
is related in a scarce American pamphlet.[98]

[98] A sketch of the life of Stephen H. Bradley, from the age of five
to twenty four years, including his remarkable experience of the power
of the Holy Spirit on the second evening of November, 1829. Madison,
Connecticut, 1830.

I select this case because it shows how in these inner alterations one
may find one unsuspected depth below another, as if the possibilities
of character lay disposed in a series of layers or shells, of whose
existence we have no premonitory knowledge.

Bradley thought that he had been already fully converted at the age of

"I thought I saw the Saviour, by faith, in human shape, for about one
second in the room, with arms extended, appearing to say to me, Come.
The next day I rejoiced with trembling; soon after, my happiness was so
great that I said that I wanted to die; this world had no place in my
affections, as I knew of, and every day appeared as solemn to me as the
Sabbath.  I had an ardent desire that all mankind might feel as I did;
I wanted to have them all love God supremely.  Previous to this time I
was very selfish and self-righteous; but now I desired the welfare of
all mankind, and could with a feeling heart forgive my worst enemies,
and I felt as if I should be willing to bear the scoffs and sneers of
any person, and suffer anything for His sake, if I could be the means
in the hands of God, of the conversion of one soul."

Nine years later, in 1829, Mr. Bradley heard of a revival of religion
that had begun in his neighborhood.  "Many of the young converts," he
says, "would come to me when in meeting and ask me if I had religion,
and my reply generally was, I hope I have.  This did not appear to
satisfy them; they said they KNEW THEY had it.  I requested them to
pray for me, thinking with myself, that if I had not got religion now,
after so long a time professing to be a Christian, that it was time I
had, and hoped their prayers would be answered in my behalf.

"One Sabbath, I went to hear the Methodist at the Academy. He spoke of
the ushering in of the day of general judgment; and he set it forth in
such a solemn and terrible manner as I never heard before.  The scene
of that day appeared to be taking place, and so awakened were all the
powers of my mind that, like Felix, I trembled involuntarily on the
bench where I was sitting, though I felt nothing at heart.  The next
day evening I went to hear him again.  He took his text from
Revelation:  'And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God.'
And he represented the terrors of that day in such a manner that it
appeared as if it would melt the heart of stone.  When he finished his
discourse, an old gentleman turned to me and said 'This is what I call
preaching.'  I thought the same, but my feelings were still unmoved by
what he said, and I did not enjoy religion, but I believe he did.

"I will now relate my experience of the power of the Holy Spirit which
took place on the same night.  Had any person told me previous to this
that I could have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit in the
manner which I did, I could not have believed it, and should have
thought the person deluded that told me so.  I went directly home after
the meeting, and when I got home I wondered what made me feel so
stupid.  I retired to rest soon after I got home, and felt indifferent
to the things of religion until I began to be exercised by the Holy
Spirit, which began in about five minutes after, in the following

"At first, I began to feel my heart beat very quick all on a sudden,
which made me at first think that perhaps something is going to ail me,
though I was not alarmed, for I felt no pain.  My heart increased in
its beating, which soon convinced me that it was the Holy Spirit from
the effect it had on me.  I began to feel exceedingly happy and humble,
and such a sense of unworthiness as I never felt before.  I could not
very well help speaking out, which I did, and said, Lord, I do not
deserve this happiness, or words to that effect, while there was a
stream (resembling air in feeling) came into my mouth and heart in a
more sensible manner than that of drinking anything, which continued,
as near as I could judge, five minutes or more, which appeared to be
the cause of such a palpitation of my heart.  It took complete
possession of my soul, and I am certain that I desired the Lord, while
in the midst of it, not to give me any more happiness, for it seemed as
if I could not contain what I had got.  My heart seemed as if it would
burst, but it did not stop until I felt as if I was unutterably full of
the love and grace of God.  In the mean time while thus exercised, a
thought arose in my mind, what can it mean?  and all at once, as if to
answer it, my memory became exceedingly clear, and it appeared to me
just as if the New Testament was placed open before me, eighth chapter
of Romans, and as light as if some candle lighted was held for me to
read the 26th and 27th verses of that chapter, and I read these words:
'The Spirit helpeth our infirmities with groanings which cannot be
uttered.'  And all the time that my heart was a-beating, it made me
groan like a person in distress, which was not very easy to stop,
though I was in no pain at all, and my brother being in bed in another
room came and opened the door, and asked me if I had got the toothache.
I told him no, and that he might get to sleep. I tried to stop.  I felt
unwilling to go to sleep myself, I was so happy, fearing I should lose
it--thinking within myself

          'My willing soul would stay
           In such a frame as this.'

And while I lay reflecting, after my heart stopped beating, feeling as
if my soul was full of the Holy Spirit, I thought that perhaps there
might be angels hovering round my bed.  I felt just as if I wanted to
converse with them, and finally I spoke, saying 'O ye affectionate
angels! how is it that ye can take so much interest in our welfare, and
we take so little interest in our own.'  After this, with difficulty I
got to sleep; and when I awoke in the morning my first thoughts were:
What has become of my happiness?  and, feeling a degree of it in my
heart, I asked for more, which was given to me as quick as thought.  I
then got up to dress myself, and found to my surprise that I could but
just stand.  It appeared to me as if it was a little heaven upon earth.
My soul felt as completely raised above the fears of death as of going
to sleep; and like a bird in a cage, I had a desire, if it was the will
of God, to get released from my body and to dwell with Christ, though
willing to live to do good to others, and to warn sinners to repent.  I
went downstairs feeling as solemn as if I had lost all my friends, and
thinking with myself, that I would not let my parents know it until I
had first looked into the Testament.  I went directly to the shelf and
looked into it, at the eighth of Romans, and every verse seemed to
almost speak and to confirm it to be truly the Word of God, and as if
my feelings corresponded with the meaning of the word.  I then told my
parents of it, and told them that I thought that they must see that
when I spoke, that it was not my own voice, for it appeared so to me.
My speech seemed entirely under the control of the Spirit within me; I
do not mean that the words which I spoke were not my own, for they
were.  I thought that I was influenced similar to the Apostles on the
day of Pentecost (with the exception of having power to give it to
others, and doing what they did).  After breakfast I went round to
converse with my neighbors on religion, which I could not have been
hired to have done before this, and at their request I prayed with
them, though I had never prayed in public before.

"I now feel as if I had discharged my duty by telling the truth, and
hope by the blessing of God, it may do some good to all who shall read
it.  He has fulfilled his promise in sending the Holy Spirit down into
our hearts, or mine at least, and I now defy all the Deists and
Atheists in the world to shake my faith in Christ."

So much for Mr. Bradley and his conversion, of the effect of which upon
his later life we gain no information.  Now for a minuter survey of the
constituent elements of the conversion process.

If you open the chapter on Association, of any treatise on Psychology,
you will read that a man's ideas, aims, and objects form diverse
internal groups and systems, relatively independent of one another.
Each 'aim' which he follows awakens a certain specific kind of
interested excitement, and gathers a certain group of ideas together in
subordination to it as its associates; and if the aims and excitements
are distinct in kind, their groups of ideas may have little in common.
When one group is present and engrosses the interest, all the ideas
connected with other groups may be excluded from the mental field.  The
President of the United States when, with paddle, gun, and fishing-rod,
he goes camping in the wilderness for a vacation, changes his system of
ideas from top to bottom.  The presidential anxieties have lapsed into
the background entirely; the official habits are replaced by the habits
of a son of nature, and those who knew the man only as the strenuous
magistrate would not "know him for the same person" if they saw him as
the camper.

If now he should never go back, and never again suffer political
interests to gain dominion over him, he would be for practical intents
and purposes a permanently transformed being.  Our ordinary alterations
of character, as we pass from one of our aims to another, are not
commonly called transformations, because each of them is so rapidly
succeeded by another in the reverse direction; but whenever one aim
grows so stable as to expel definitively its previous rivals from the
individual's life, we tend to speak of the phenomenon, and perhaps to
wonder at it, as a "transformation."

These alternations are the completest of the ways in which a self may
be divided.  A less complete way is the simultaneous coexistence of two
or more different groups of aims, of which one practically holds the
right of way and instigates activity, whilst the others are only pious
wishes, and never practically come to anything.  Saint Augustine's
aspirations to a purer life, in our last lecture, were for a while an
example.  Another would be the President in his full pride of office,
wondering whether it were not all vanity, and whether the life of a
wood-chopper were not the wholesomer destiny.  Such fleeting
aspirations are mere velleitates, whimsies.  They exist on the remoter
outskirts of the mind, and the real self of the man, the centre of his
energies, is occupied with an entirely different system.  As life goes
on, there is a constant change of our interests, and a consequent
change of place in our systems of ideas, from more central to more
peripheral, and from more peripheral to more central parts of
consciousness.  I remember, for instance, that one evening when I was a
youth, my father read aloud from a Boston newspaper that part of Lord
Gifford's will which founded these four lectureships.  At that time I
did not think of being a teacher of philosophy, and what I listened to
was as remote from my own life as if it related to the planet Mars.
Yet here I am, with the Gifford system part and parcel of my very self,
and all my energies, for the time being, devoted to successfully
identifying myself with it.  My soul stands now planted in what once
was for it a practically unreal object, and speaks from it as from its
proper habitat and centre.

When I say "Soul," you need not take me in the ontological sense unless
you prefer to; for although ontological language is instinctive in such
matters, yet Buddhists or Humians can perfectly well describe the facts
in the phenomenal terms which are their favorites.  For them the soul
is only a succession of fields of consciousness:  yet there is found in
each field a part, or sub-field, which figures as focal and contains
the excitement, and from which, as from a centre, the aim seems to be
taken.  Talking of this part, we involuntarily apply words of
perspective to distinguish it from the rest, words like "here," "this,"
"now," "mine," or "me"; and we ascribe to the other parts the positions
"there," "then," "that," "his" or "thine," "it," "not me."  But a
"here" can change to a "there," and a "there" become a "here," and what
was "mine" and what was "not mine" change their places.

What brings such changes about is the way in which emotional excitement
alters.  Things hot and vital to us to-day are cold to-morrow.  It is
as if seen from the hot parts of the field that the other parts appear
to us, and from these hot parts personal desire and volition make their
sallies.  They are in short the centres of our dynamic energy, whereas
the cold parts leave us indifferent and passive in proportion to their

Whether such language be rigorously exact is for the present of no
importance.  It is exact enough, if you recognize from your own
experience the facts which I seek to designate by it.

Now there may be great oscillation in the emotional interest, and the
hot places may shift before one almost as rapidly as the sparks that
run through burnt-up paper.  Then we have the wavering and divided self
we heard so much of in the previous lecture.  Or the focus of
excitement and heat, the point of view from which the aim is taken, may
come to lie permanently within a certain system; and then, if the
change be a religious one, we call it a CONVERSION, especially if it be
by crisis, or sudden.

Let us hereafter, in speaking of the hot place in a man's
consciousness, the group of ideas to which he devotes himself, and from
makes a great difference to a man whether one set of his ideas, or
another, be the centre of his energy; and it makes a great difference,
as regards any set of ideas which he may possess, whether they become
central or remain peripheral in him.  To say that a man is "converted"
means, in these terms, that religious ideas, previously peripheral in
his consciousness, now take a central place, and that religious aims
form the habitual centre of his energy.

Now if you ask of psychology just HOW the excitement shifts in a man's
mental system, and WHY aims that were peripheral become at a certain
moment central, psychology has to reply that although she can give a
general description of what happens, she is unable in a given case to
account accurately for all the single forces at work.  Neither an
outside observer nor the Subject who undergoes the process can explain
fully how particular experiences are able to change one's centre of
energy so decisively, or why they so often have to bide their hour to
do so.  We have a thought, or we perform an act, repeatedly, but on a
certain day the real meaning of the thought peals through us for the
first time, or the act has suddenly turned into a moral impossibility.
All we know is that there are dead feelings, dead ideas, and cold
beliefs, and there are hot and live ones; and when one grows hot and
alive within us, everything has to re-crystallize about it.  We may say
that the heat and liveliness mean only the "motor efficacy," long
deferred but now operative, of the idea; but such talk itself is only
circumlocution, for whence the sudden motor efficacy?  And our
explanations then get so vague and general that one realizes all the
more the intense individuality of the whole phenomenon.

In the end we fall back on the hackneyed symbolism of a mechanical
equilibrium.  A mind is a system of ideas, each with the excitement it
arouses, and with tendencies impulsive and inhibitive, which mutually
check or reinforce one another.  The collection of ideas alters by
subtraction or by addition in the course of experience, and the
tendencies alter as the organism gets more aged.  A mental system may
be undermined or weakened by this interstitial alteration just as a
building is, and yet for a time keep upright by dead habit.  But a new
perception, a sudden emotional shock, or an occasion which lays bare
the organic alteration, will make the whole fabric fall together; and
then the centre of gravity sinks into an attitude more stable, for the
new ideas that reach the centre in the rearrangement seem now to be
locked there, and the new structure remains permanent.

Formed associations of ideas and habits are usually factors of
retardation in such changes of equilibrium.  New information, however
acquired, plays an accelerating part in the changes; and the slow
mutation of our instincts and propensities, under the "unimaginable
touch of time" has an enormous influence.  Moreover, all these
influences may work subconsciously or half unconsciously.[99] And when
you get a Subject in whom the subconscious life--of which I must speak
more fully soon--is largely developed, and in whom motives habitually
ripen in silence, you get a case of which you can never give a full
account, and in which, both to the Subject and the onlookers, there may
appear an element of marvel.  Emotional occasions, especially violent
ones, are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements.  The
sudden and explosive ways in which love, jealousy, guilt, fear,
remorse, or anger can seize upon one are known to everybody.[100]
Hope, happiness, security, resolve, emotions characteristic of
conversion, can be equally explosive.  And emotions that come in this
explosive way seldom leave things as they found them.

[99] Jouffroy is an example:  "Down this slope it was that my
intelligence had glided, and little by little it had got far from its
first faith.  But this melancholy revolution had not taken place in the
broad daylight of my consciousness; too many scruples, too many guides
and sacred affections had made it dreadful to me, so that I was far
from avowing to myself the progress it had made.  It had gone on in
silence, by an involuntary elaboration of which I was not the
accomplice; and although I had in reality long ceased to be a
Christian, yet, in the innocence of my intention, I should have
shuddered to suspect it, and thought it calumny had I been accused of
such a falling away."  Then follows Jouffroy's account of his
counter-conversion, quoted above on p. 173.

[100] One hardly needs examples; but for love, see p. 176, note, for
fear, p. 161 ; for remorse, see Othello after the murder; for anger see
Lear after Cordelia's first speech to him; for resolve, see p. 175 (J.
Foster case).  Here is a pathological case in which GUILT was the
feeling that suddenly exploded:  "One night I was seized on entering
bed with a rigor, such as Swedenborg describes as coming over him with
a sense of holiness, but over me with a sense of GUILT. During that
whole night I lay under the influence of the rigor, and from its
inception I felt that I was under the curse of God.  I have never done
one act of duty in my life--sins against God and man beginning as far
as my memory goes back--a wildcat in human shape."

In his recent work on the Psychology of Religion, Professor Starbuck of
California has shown by a statistical inquiry how closely parallel in
its manifestations the ordinary "conversion" which occurs in young
people brought up in evangelical circles is to that growth into a
larger spiritual life which is a normal phase of adolescence in every
class of human beings.  The age is the same, falling usually between
fourteen and seventeen.  The symptoms are the same,--sense of
incompleteness and imperfection; brooding, depression, morbid
introspection, and sense of sin; anxiety about the hereafter; distress
over doubts, and the like.  And the result is the same--a happy relief
and objectivity, as the confidence in self gets greater through the
adjustment of the faculties to the wider outlook.  In spontaneous
religious awakening, apart from revivalistic examples, and in the
ordinary storm and stress and moulting-time of adolescence, we also may
meet with mystical experiences, astonishing the subjects by their
suddenness, just as in revivalistic conversion.  The analogy, in fact,
is complete; and Starbuck's conclusion as to these ordinary youthful
conversions would seem to be the only sound one: Conversion is in its
essence a normal adolescent phenomenon, incidental to the passage from
the child's small universe to the wider intellectual and spiritual life
of maturity.

"Theology," says Dr. Starbuck, "takes the adolescent tendencies and
builds upon them; it sees that the essential thing in adolescent growth
is bringing the person out of childhood into the new life of maturity
and personal insight.  It accordingly brings those means to bear which
will intensify the normal tendencies.  It shortens up the period of
duration of storm and stress."  The conversion phenomena of "conviction
of sin" last, by this investigator's statistics, about one fifth as
long as the periods of adolescent storm and stress phenomena of which
he also got statistics, but they are very much more intense.  Bodily
accompaniments, loss of sleep and appetite, for example, are much more
frequent in them.  "The essential distinction appears to be that
conversion intensifies but shortens the period by bringing the person
to a definite crisis."[101]

[101] E. D. Starbuck:  The Psychology of Religion, pp. 224, 262.

The conversions which Dr. Starbuck here has in mind are of course
mainly those of very commonplace persons, kept true to a pre-appointed
type by instruction, appeal, and example. The particular form which
they affect is the result of suggestion and imitation.[102] If they
went through their growth-crisis in other faiths and other countries,
although the essence of the change would be the same (since it is one
in the main so inevitable), its accidents would be different. In
Catholic lands, for example, and in our own Episcopalian sects, no such
anxiety and conviction of sin is usual as in sects that encourage
revivals.  The sacraments being more relied on in these more strictly
ecclesiastical bodies, the individual's personal acceptance of
salvation needs less to be accentuated and led up to.

[102] No one understands this better than Jonathan Edwards understood
it already.  Conversion narratives of the more commonplace sort must
always be taken with the allowances which he suggests:

"A rule received and established by common consent has a very great,
though to many persons an insensible influence in forming their notions
of the process of their own experience.  I know very well how they
proceed as to this matter, for I have had frequent opportunities of
observing their conduct.  Very often their experience at first appears
like a confused chaos, but then those parts are selected which bear the
nearest resemblance to such particular steps as are insisted on; and
these are dwelt upon in their thoughts, and spoken of from time to
time, till they grow more and more conspicuous in their view, and other
parts which are neglected grow more and more obscure.  Thus what they
have experienced is insensibly strained, so as to bring it to an exact
conformity to the scheme already established in their minds.  And it
becomes natural also for ministers, who have to deal with those who
insist upon distinctness and clearness of method, to do so too."
Treatise on Religious Affections.

But every imitative phenomenon must once have had its original, and I
propose that for the future we keep as close as may be to the more
first-hand and original forms of experience.  These are more likely to
be found in sporadic adult cases.

Professor Leuba, in a valuable article on the psychology of
conversion,[103] subordinates the theological aspect of the religious
life almost entirely to its moral aspect.  The religious sense he
defines as "the feeling of unwholeness, of moral imperfection, of sin,
to use the technical word, accompanied by the yearning after the peace
of unity."  "The word 'religion,'" he says, "is getting more and more
to signify the conglomerate of desires and emotions springing from the
sense of sin and its release"; and he gives a large number of examples,
in which the sin ranges from drunkenness to spiritual pride, to show
that the sense of it may beset one and crave relief as urgently as does
the anguish of the sickened flesh or any form of physical misery.

[103] Studies in the Psychology of Religious Phenomena, American
Journal of Psychology, vii. 309 (1896).

Undoubtedly this conception covers an immense number of cases.  A good
one to use as an example is that of Mr. S. H. Hadley, who after his
conversion became an active and useful rescuer of drunkards in New
York.  His experience runs as follows:--

"One Tuesday evening I sat in a saloon in Harlem, a homeless,
friendless, dying drunkard.  I had pawned or sold everything that would
bring a drink.  I could not sleep unless I was dead drunk.  I had not
eaten for days, and for four nights preceding I had suffered with
delirium tremens, or the horrors, from midnight till morning.  I had
often said, 'I will never be a tramp.  I will never be cornered, for
when that time comes, if ever it comes, I will find a home in the
bottom of the river.'  But the Lord so ordered it that when that time
did come I was not able to walk one quarter of the way to the river.
As I sat there thinking, I seemed to feel some great and mighty
presence.  I did not know then what it was.  I did learn afterwards
that it was Jesus, the sinner's friend.  I walked up to the bar and
pounded it with my fist till I made the glasses rattle.  Those who
stood by drinking looked on with scornful curiosity.  I said I would
never take another drink, if I died on the street, and really I felt as
though that would happen before morning.  Something said, 'If you want
to keep this promise, go and have yourself locked up.'  I went to the
nearest station-house and had myself locked up.

"I was placed in a narrow cell, and it seemed as though all the demons
that could find room came in that place with me.  This was not all the
company I had, either.  No, praise the Lord:  that dear Spirit that
came to me in the saloon was present, and said, Pray.  I did pray, and
though I did not feel any great help, I kept on praying.  As soon as I
was able to leave my cell I was taken to the police court and remanded
back to the cell.  I was finally released, and found my way to my
brother's house, where every care was given me.  While lying in bed the
admonishing Spirit never left me, and when I arose the following
Sabbath morning I felt that day would decide my fate, and toward
evening it came into my head to go to Jerry M'Auley's Mission.  I went.
The house was packed, and with great difficulty I made my way to the
space near the platform.  There I saw the apostle to the drunkard and
the outcast--that man of God, Jerry M'Auley.  He rose, and amid deep
silence told his experience.  There was a sincerity about this man that
carried conviction with it, and I found myself saying, 'I wonder if God
can save me?'  I listened to the testimony of twenty-five or thirty
persons, every one of whom had been saved from rum, and I made up my
mind that I would be saved or die right there.  When the invitation was
given, I knelt down with a crowd of drunkards.  Jerry made the first
prayer.  Then Mrs. M'Auley prayed fervently for us.  Oh, what a
conflict was going on for my poor soul!  A blessed whisper said,
'Come'; the devil said, 'Be careful.'  I halted but a moment, and then,
with a breaking heart, I said, 'Dear Jesus, can you help me?'  Never
with mortal tongue can I describe that moment.  Although up to that
moment my soul had been filled with indescribable gloom, I felt the
glorious brightness of the noonday sun shine into my heart.  I felt I
was a free man.  Oh, the precious feeling of safety, of freedom, of
resting on Jesus!  I felt that Christ with all his brightness and power
had come into my life; that, indeed, old things had passed away and all
things had become new.

"From that moment till now I have never wanted a drink of whiskey, and
I have never seen money enough to make me take one.  I promised God
that night that if he would take away the appetite for strong drink, I
would work for him all my life.  He has done his part, and I have been
trying to do mine."[104]

[104] I have abridged Mr. Hadley's account.  For other conversions of
drunkards, see his pamphlet, Rescue Mission Work, published at the Old
Jerry M'Auley Water Street Mission, New York City.  A striking
collection of cases also appears in the appendix to Professor Leuba's

{200} Dr. Leuba rightly remarks that there is little doctrinal theology
in such an experience, which starts with the absolute need of a higher
helper, and ends with the sense that he has helped us.  He gives other
cases of drunkards' conversions which are purely ethical, containing,
as recorded, no theological beliefs whatever.  John B. Gough's case,
for instance, is practically, says Dr. Leuba, the conversion of an
atheist--neither God nor Jesus being mentioned.[105] But in spite of
the importance of this type of regeneration, with little or no
intellectual readjustment, this writer surely makes it too exclusive.
It corresponds to the subjectively centered form of morbid melancholy,
of which Bunyan and Alline were examples.  But we saw in our seventh
lecture that there are objective forms of melancholy also, in which the
lack of rational meaning of the universe, and of life anyhow, is the
burden that weighs upon one--you remember Tolstoy's case.[106] So there
are distinct elements in conversion, and their relations to individual
lives deserve to be discriminated.[107]

[105] A restaurant waiter served provisionally as Gough's 'Saviour.'
General Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, considers that the
first vital step in saving outcasts consists in making them feel that
some decent human being cares enough for them to take an interest in
the question whether they are to rise or sink.

[106] The crisis of apathetic melancholy--no use in life--into which J.
S. Mill records that he fell, from which he emerged by the reading of
Marmontel's Memoirs (Heaven save the mark!) and Wordsworth's poetry, is
another intellectual and general metaphysical case. See Mill's
Autobiography, New York, 1873, pp.  141, 148.

[107] Starbuck, in addition to "escape from sin," discriminates
"spiritual illumination" as a distinct type of conversion experience.
Psychology of Religion, p. 85.

Some persons, for instance, never are, and possibly never under any
circumstances could be, converted.  Religious ideas cannot become the
centre of their spiritual energy.  They may be excellent persons,
servants of God in practical ways, but they are not children of his
kingdom.  They are either incapable of imagining the invisible; or
else, in the language of devotion, they are life-long subjects of
"barrenness" and "dryness." Such inaptitude for religious faith may in
some cases be intellectual in its origin.  Their religious faculties
may be checked in their natural tendency to expand, by beliefs about
the world that are inhibitive, the pessimistic and materialistic
beliefs, for example, within which so many good souls, who in former
times would have freely indulged their religious propensities, find
themselves nowadays, as it were, frozen; or the agnostic vetoes upon
faith as something weak and shameful, under which so many of us today
lie cowering, afraid to use our instincts.  In many persons such
inhibitions are never overcome.  To the end of their days they refuse
to believe, their personal energy never gets to its religious centre,
and the latter remains inactive in perpetuity.

In other persons the trouble is profounder.  There are men anaesthetic
on the religious side, deficient in that category of sensibility.  Just
as a bloodless organism can never, in spite of all its goodwill, attain
to the reckless "animal spirits" enjoyed by those of sanguine
temperament; so the nature which is spiritually barren may admire and
envy faith in others, but can never compass the enthusiasm and peace
which those who are temperamentally qualified for faith enjoy.  All
this may, however, turn out eventually to have been a matter of
temporary inhibition.  Even late in life some thaw, some release may
take place, some bolt be shot back in the barrenest breast, and the
man's hard heart may soften and break into religious feeling.  Such
cases more than any others suggest the idea that sudden conversion is
by miracle.  So long as they exist, we must not imagine ourselves to
deal with irretrievably fixed classes.  Now there are two forms of
mental occurrence in human beings, which lead to a striking difference
in the conversion process, a difference to which Professor Starbuck has
called attention.  You know how it is when you try to recollect a
forgotten name.  Usually you help the recall by working for it, by
mentally running over the places, persons, and things with which the
word was connected.  But sometimes this effort fails:  you feel then as
if the harder you tried the less hope there would be, as though the
name were JAMMED, and pressure in its direction only kept it all the
more from rising. And then the opposite expedient often succeeds.  Give
up the effort entirely; think of something altogether different, and in
half an hour the lost name comes sauntering into your mind, as Emerson
says, as carelessly as if it had never been invited.  Some hidden
process was started in you by the effort, which went on after the
effort ceased, and made the result come as if it came spontaneously.  A
certain music teacher, says Dr. Starbuck, says to her pupils after the
thing to be done has been clearly pointed out, and unsuccessfully
attempted:  "Stop trying and it will do itself!"[108]

[108] Psychology of Religion, p. 117.

There is thus a conscious and voluntary way and an involuntary and
unconscious way in which mental results may get accomplished; and we
find both ways exemplified in the history of conversion, giving us two
types, which Starbuck calls the volitional type and the type by
self-surrender respectively.

In the volitional type the regenerative change is usually gradual, and
consists in the building up, piece by piece, of a new set of moral and
spiritual habits.  But there are always critical points here at which
the movement forward seems much more rapid.  This psychological fact is
abundantly illustrated by Dr. Starbuck.  Our education in any practical
accomplishment proceeds apparently by jerks and starts just as the
growth of our physical bodies does.

"An athlete ... sometimes awakens suddenly to an understanding of the
fine points of the game and to a real enjoyment of it, just as the
convert awakens to an appreciation of religion. If he keeps on engaging
in the sport, there may come a day when all at once the game plays
itself through him--when he loses himself in some great contest.  In
the same way, a musician may suddenly reach a point at which pleasure
in the technique of the art entirely falls away, and in some moment of
inspiration he becomes the instrument through which music flows. The
writer has chanced to hear two different married persons, both of whose
wedded lives had been beautiful from the beginning, relate that not
until a year or more after marriage did they awake to the full
blessedness of married life.  So it is with the religious experience of
these persons we are studying."[109]

[109] Psychology of Religion, p. 385.  Compare, also, pp. 137-144 and

We shall erelong hear still more remarkable illustrations of
subconsciously maturing processes eventuating in results of which we
suddenly grow conscious.  Sir William Hamilton and Professor Laycock of
Edinburgh were among the first to call attention to this class of
effects; but Dr. Carpenter first, unless I am mistaken, introduced the
term "unconscious cerebration," which has since then been a popular
phrase of explanation.  The facts are now known to us far more
extensively than he could know them, and the adjective "unconscious,"
being for many of them almost certainly a misnomer, is better replaced
by the vaguer term "subconscious" or "subliminal."

Of the volitional type of conversion it would be easy to give
examples,[110] but they are as a rule less interesting than those of
the self-surrender type, in which the subconscious effects are more
abundant and often startling.  I will therefore hurry to the latter,
the more so because the difference between the two types is after all
not radical.  Even in the most voluntarily built-up sort of
regeneration there are passages of partial self-surrender interposed;
and in the great majority of all cases, when the will had done its
uttermost towards bringing one close to the complete unification
aspired after, it seems that the very last step must be left to other
forces and performed without the help of its activity.  In other words,
self-surrender becomes then indispensable.  "The personal will," says
Dr. Starbuck, "must be given up.  In many cases relief persistently
refuses to come until the person ceases to resist, or to make an effort
in the direction he desires to go."

[110] For instance, C. G. Finney italicizes the volitional element:
"Just at this point the whole question of Gospel salvation opened to my
mind in a manner most marvelous to me at the time.  I think I then saw,
as clearly as I ever have in my life, the reality and fullness of the
atonement of Christ.  Gospel salvation seemed to me to be an offer of
something to be accepted, and all that was necessary on my part to get
my own consent to give up my sins and accept Christ.  After this
distinct revelation had stood for some little time before my mind, the
question seemed to be put, 'will you accept it now, to-day?' I replied,
'Yes; I will accept it to-day, or I will die in the attempt!'"  He then
went into the woods, where he describes his struggles.  He could not
pray, his heart was hardened in its pride.  "I then reproached myself
for having promised to give my heart to God before I left the woods.
When I came to try, I found I could not....  My inward soul hung back,
and there was no going out of my heart to God.  The thought was
pressing me, of the rashness of my promise that I would give my heart
to God that day, or die in the attempt.  It seemed to me as if that was
binding on my soul; and yet I was going to break my vow.  A great
sinking and discouragement came over me, and I felt almost too weak to
stand upon my knees.  Just at this moment I again thought I heard some
one approach me, and I opened my eyes to see whether it were so.  But
right there the revelation of my pride of heart, as the great
difficulty that stood in the way, was distinctly shown to me.  An
overwhelming sense of my wickedness in being ashamed to have a human
being see me on my knees before God took such powerful possession of
me, that I cried at the top of my voice, and exclaimed that I would not
leave that place if all the men on earth and all the devils in hell
surrounded me.  'What!' I said, 'such a degraded sinner as I am, on my
knees confessing my sins to the great and holy God; and ashamed to have
any human being, and a sinner like myself, find me on my knees
endeavoring to make my peace with my offended God!'  The sin appeared
awful, infinite.  It broke me down before the Lord."  Memoirs, pp.
14-16, abridged.

"I had said I would not give up; but when my will was broken, it was
all over," writes one of Starbuck's correspondents.-- Another says:  "I
simply said:  'Lord, I have done all I can; I leave the whole matter
with Thee,' and immediately there came to me a great peace."--Another:
"All at once it occurred to me that I might be saved, too, if I would
stop trying to do it all myself, and follow Jesus:  somehow I lost my
load."--Another:  "I finally ceased to resist, and gave myself up,
though it was a hard struggle.  Gradually the feeling came over me that
I had done my part, and God was willing to do his."[111]--"Lord Thy
will be done; damn or save!" cries John Nelson,[112] exhausted with the
anxious struggle to escape damnation; and at that moment his soul was
filled with peace.

[111] Starbuck:  Op. cit., pp. 91, 114.

[112] Extracts from the Journal of Mr. John Nelson, London, no date, p.

Dr. Starbuck gives an interesting, and it seems to me a true,
account--so far as conceptions so schematic can claim truth at all--of
the reasons why self-surrender at the last moment should be so
indispensable.  To begin with, there are two things in the mind of the
candidate for conversion:  first, the present incompleteness or
wrongness, the "sin" which he is eager to escape from; and, second, the
positive ideal which he longs to compass.  Now with most of us the
sense of our present wrongness is a far more distinct piece of our
consciousness than is the imagination of any positive ideal we can aim
at.  In a majority of cases, indeed, the "sin" almost exclusively
engrosses the attention, so that conversion is "a process of struggling
away from sin rather than of striving towards righteousness."[113] A
man's conscious wit and will, so far as they strain towards the ideal,
are aiming at something only dimly and inaccurately imagined. Yet all
the while the forces of mere organic ripening within him are going on
towards their own prefigured result, and his conscious strainings are
letting loose subconscious allies behind the scenes, which in their way
work towards rearrangement; and the rearrangement towards which all
these deeper forces tend is pretty surely definite, and definitely
different from what he consciously conceives and determines.  It may
consequently be actually interfered with (JAMMED, as it were, like the
lost word when we seek too energetically to recall it), by his
voluntary efforts slanting from the true direction.

[113] Starbuck, p. 64.

Starbuck seems to put his finger on the root of the matter when he says
that to exercise the personal will is still to live in the region where
the imperfect self is the thing most emphasized.  Where, on the
contrary, the subconscious forces take the lead, it is more probably
the better self in posse which directs the operation.  Instead of being
clumsily and vaguely aimed at from without, it is then itself the
organizing centre.  What then must the person do?  "He must relax,"
says Dr. Starbuck--"that is, he must fall back on the larger Power that
makes for righteousness, which has been welling up in his own being,
and let it finish in its own way the work it has begun....  The act of
yielding, in this point of view, is giving one's self over to the new
life, making it the centre of a new personality, and living, from
within, the truth of it which had before been viewed objectively."[114]

[114] Starbuck, p. 115.

"Man's extremity is God's opportunity" is the theological way of
putting this fact of the need of self-surrender; whilst the
physiological way of stating it would be, "Let one do all in one's
power, and one's nervous system will do the rest."  Both statements
acknowledge the same fact.[115]

[115] Starbuck, p. 113.

To state it in terms of our own symbolism:  When the new centre of
personal energy has been subconsciously incubated so long as to be just
ready to open into flower, "hands off" is the only word for us, it must
burst forth unaided!

We have used the vague and abstract language of psychology. But since,
in any terms, the crisis described is the throwing of our conscious
selves upon the mercy of powers which, whatever they may be, are more
ideal than we are actually, and make for our redemption, you see why
self-surrender has been and always must be regarded as the vital
turning-point of the religious life, so far as the religious life is
spiritual and no affair of outer works and ritual and sacraments.  One
may say that the whole development of Christianity in inwardness has
consisted in little more than the greater and greater emphasis attached
to this crisis of self-surrender.  From Catholicism to Lutheranism, and
then to Calvinism; from that to Wesleyanism; and from this, outside of
technical Christianity altogether, to pure "liberalism" or
transcendental idealism, whether or not of the mind-cure type, taking
in the mediaeval mystics, the quietists, the pietists, and quakers by
the way, we can trace the stages of progress towards the idea of an
immediate spiritual help, experienced by the individual in his
forlornness and standing in no essential need of doctrinal apparatus or
propitiatory machinery.

Psychology and religion are thus in perfect harmony up to this point,
since both admit that there are forces seemingly outside of the
conscious individual that bring redemption to his life.  Nevertheless
psychology, defining these forces as "subconscious," and speaking of
their effects, as due to "incubation," or "cerebration," implies that
they do not transcend the individual's personality; and herein she
diverges from Christian theology, which insists that they are direct
supernatural operations of the Deity.  I propose to you that we do not
yet consider this divergence final, but leave the question for a while
in abeyance--continued inquiry may enable us to get rid of some of the
apparent discord.

Revert, then, for a moment more to the psychology of self-surrender.

When you find a man living on the ragged edge of his consciousness,
pent in to his sin and want and incompleteness, and consequently
inconsolable, and then simply tell him that all is well with him, that
he must stop his worry, break with his discontent, and give up his
anxiety, you seem to him to come with pure absurdities.  The only
positive consciousness he has tells him that all is NOT well, and the
better way you offer sounds simply as if you proposed to him to assert
cold-blooded falsehoods.  "The will to believe" cannot be stretched as
far as that.  We can make ourselves more faithful to a belief of which
we have the rudiments, but we cannot create a belief out of whole cloth
when our perception actively assures us of its opposite.  The better
mind proposed to us comes in that case in the form of a pure negation
of the only mind we have, and we cannot actively will a pure negation.

There are only two ways in which it is possible to get rid of anger,
worry, fear, despair, or other undesirable affections.  One is that an
opposite affection should overpoweringly break over us, and the other
is by getting so exhausted with the struggle that we have to stop--so
we drop down, give up, and DON'T CARE any longer.  Our emotional
brain-centres strike work, and we lapse into a temporary apathy. Now
there is documentary proof that this state of temporary exhaustion not
infrequently forms part of the conversion crisis.  So long as the
egoistic worry of the sick soul guards the door, the expansive
confidence of the soul of faith gains no presence.  But let the former
faint away, even but for a moment, and the latter can profit by the
opportunity, and, having once acquired possession, may retain it.

Carlyle's Teufelsdrockh passes from the everlasting No to the
everlasting Yes through a "Centre of Indifference."

Let me give you a good illustration of this feature in the conversion
process.  That genuine saint, David Brainerd, describes his own crisis
in the following words:--

"One morning, while I was walking in a solitary place as usual, I at
once saw that all my contrivances and projects to effect or procure
deliverance and salvation for myself were utterly in vain; I was
brought quite to a stand, as finding myself totally lost.  I saw that
it was forever impossible for me to do anything towards helping or
delivering myself, that I had made all the pleas I ever could have made
to all eternity; and that all my pleas were vain, for I saw that
self-interest had led me to pray, and that I had never once prayed from
any respect to the glory of God.  I saw that there was no necessary
connection between my prayers and the bestowment of divine mercy, that
they laid not the least obligation upon God to bestow his grace upon
me; and that there was no more virtue or goodness in them than there
would be in my paddling with my hand in the water.  I saw that I had
been heaping up my devotions before God, fasting, praying, etc.,
pretending, and indeed really thinking sometimes that I was aiming at
the glory of God; whereas I never once truly intended it, but only my
own happiness.  I saw that as I had never done anything for God, I had
no claim on anything from him but perdition, on account of my hypocrisy
and mockery.  When I saw evidently that I had regard to nothing but
self-interest, then my duties appeared a vile mockery and a continual
course of lies, for the whole was nothing but self-worship, and an
horrid abuse of God.

"I continued, as I remember, in this state of mind, from Friday morning
till the Sabbath evening following (July 12, 1739), when I was walking
again in the same solitary place.  Here, in a mournful melancholy state
I was attempting to pray; but found no heart to engage in that or any
other duty; my former concern, exercise, and religious affections were
now gone. I thought that the Spirit of God had quite left me; but still
was NOT DISTRESSED; yet disconsolate, as if there was nothing in heaven
or earth could make me happy.  Having been thus endeavoring to
pray--though, as I thought, very stupid and senseless--for near half an
hour; then, as I was walking in a thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed
to open to the apprehension of my soul.  I do not mean any external
brightness, nor any imagination of a body of light, but it was a new
inward apprehension or view that I had of God, such as I never had
before, nor anything which had the least resemblance to it.  I had no
particular apprehension of any one person in the Trinity, either the
Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost; but it appeared to be Divine glory.
My soul rejoiced with joy unspeakable, to see such a God, such a
glorious Divine Being; and I was inwardly pleased and satisfied that he
should be God over all for ever and ever.  My soul was so captivated
and delighted with the excellency of God that I was even swallowed up
in him, at least to that degree that I had no thought about my own
salvation, and scarce reflected that there was such a creature as
myself.  I continued in this state of inward joy, peace, and
astonishing, till near dark without any sensible abatement; and then
began to think and examine what I had seen; and felt sweetly composed
in my mind all the evening following.  I felt myself in a new world,
and everything about me appeared with a different aspect from what it
was wont to do.  At this time, the way of salvation opened to me with
such infinite wisdom, suitableness, and excellency, that I wondered I
should ever think of any other way of salvation; was amazed that I had
not dropped my own contrivances, and complied with this lovely,
blessed, and excellent way before.  If I could have been saved by my
own duties or any other way that I had formerly contrived, my whole
soul would now have refused it.  I wondered that all the world did not
see and comply with this way of salvation, entirely by the
righteousness of Christ."[116]

[116] Edward's and Dwight's Life of Brainerd, New Haven, 1822, pp.
45-47, abridged.

I have italicized the passage which records the exhaustion of the
anxious emotion hitherto habitual.  In a large proportion, perhaps the
majority, of reports, the writers speak as if the exhaustion of the
lower and the entrance of the higher emotion were simultaneous,[117]
yet often again they speak as if the higher actively drove the lower
out.  This is undoubtedly true in a great many instances, as we shall
presently see.  But often there seems little doubt that both
conditions--subconscious ripening of the one affection and exhaustion
of the other--must simultaneously have conspired, in order to produce
the result.

[117] Describing the whole phenomenon as a change of equilibrium, we
might say that the movement of new psychic energies towards the
personal centre and the recession of old ones towards the margin (or
the rising of some objects above, and the sinking of others below the
conscious threshold) were only two ways of describing an indivisible
event.  Doubtless this is often absolutely true, and Starbuck is right
when he says that "self-surrender" and "new determination," though
seeming at first sight to be such different experiences, are "really
the same thing.  Self-surrender sees the change in terms of the old
self, determination sees it in terms of the new."  Op. cit., p. 160.

T. W. B., a convert of Nettleton's, being brought to an acute paroxysm
of conviction of sin, ate nothing all day, locked himself in his room
in the evening in complete despair, crying aloud, "How long, O Lord,
how long?"  "After repeating this and similar language," he says,
"several times, I seemed to sink away into a state of insensibility.
When I came to myself again I was on my knees, praying not for myself
but for others.  I felt submission to the will of God, willing that he
should do with me as should seem good in his sight.  My concern seemed
all lost in concern for others."[118]

[118] A. A. Bonar:  Nettleton and his Labors, Edinburgh, 1854, p.  261.

Our great American revivalist Finney writes:  "I said to myself: 'What
is this?  I must have grieved the Holy Ghost entirely away.

I have lost all my conviction.  I have not a particle of concern about
my soul; and it must be that the Spirit has left me.' 'Why!' thought I,
'I never was so far from being concerned about my own salvation in my
life.' ... I tried to recall my convictions, to get back again the load
of sin under which I had been laboring.  I tried in vain to make myself
anxious.  I was so quiet and peaceful that I tried to feel concerned
about that, lest it should be the result of my having grieved the
Spirit away."[119]

[119] Charles G. Finney:  Memoirs written by Himself, 1876, pp.  17, 18.

But beyond all question there are persons in whom, quite independently
of any exhaustion in the Subject's capacity for feeling, or even in the
absence of any acute previous feeling, the higher condition, having
reached the due degree of energy, bursts through all barriers and
sweeps in like a sudden flood.  These are the most striking and
memorable cases, the cases of instantaneous conversion to which the
conception of divine grace has been most peculiarly attached. I have
given one of them at length--the case of Mr. Bradley.  But I had better
reserve the other cases and my comments on the rest of the subject for
the following lecture.

Lecture X


In this lecture we have to finish the subject of Conversion,
considering at first those striking instantaneous instances of which
Saint Paul's is the most eminent, and in which, often amid tremendous
emotional excitement or perturbation of the senses, a complete division
is established in the twinkling of an eye between the old life and the
new.  Conversion of this type is an important phase of religious
experience, owing to the part which it has played in Protestant
theology, and it behooves us to study it conscientiously on that

I think I had better cite two or three of these cases before proceeding
to a more generalized account.  One must know concrete instances first;
for, as Professor Agassiz used to say, one can see no farther into a
generalization than just so far as one's previous acquaintance with
particulars enables one to take it in.

I will go back, then, to the case of our friend Henry Alline, and quote
his report of the 26th of March, 1775, on which his poor divided mind
became unified for good.

"As I was about sunset wandering in the fields lamenting my miserable
lost and undone condition, and almost ready to sink under my burden, I
thought I was in such a miserable case as never any man was before.  I
returned to the house, and when I got to the door, just as I was
stepping off the threshold, the following impressions came into my mind
like a powerful but small still voice.  You have been seeking, praying,
reforming, laboring, reading, hearing, and meditating, and what have
you done by it towards your salvation?  Are you any nearer to
conversion now than when you first began?  Are you any more prepared
for heaven, or fitter to appear before the impartial bar of God, than
when you first began to seek?

"It brought such conviction on me that I was obliged to say that I did
not think I was one step nearer than at first, but as much condemned,
as much exposed, and as miserable as before. I cried out within myself,
O Lord God, I am lost, and if thou, O Lord, dost not find out some new
way, I know nothing of, I shall never be saved, for the ways and
methods I have prescribed to myself have all failed me, and I am
willing they should fail. O Lord, have mercy! O Lord, have mercy!

"These discoveries continued until I went into the house and sat down.
After I sat down, being all in confusion, like a drowning man that was
just giving up to sink, and almost in an agony, I turned very suddenly
round in my chair, and seeing part of an old Bible lying in one of the
chairs, I caught hold of it in great haste; and opening it without any
premeditation, cast my eyes on the 38th Psalm, which was the first time
I ever saw the word of God:  it took hold of me with such power that it
seemed to go through my whole soul, so that it seemed as if God was
praying in, with, and for me.  About this time my father called the
family to attend prayers; I attended, but paid no regard to what he
said in his prayer, but continued praying in those words of the Psalm.
Oh, help me, help me! cried I, thou Redeemer of souls, and save me, or
I am gone forever; thou canst this night, if thou pleasest, with one
drop of thy blood atone for my sins, and appease the wrath of an angry
God.  At that instant of time when I gave all up to him to do with me
as he pleased, and was willing that God should rule over me at his
pleasure, redeeming love broke into my soul with repeated scriptures,
with such power that my whole soul seemed to be melted down with love,
the burden of guilt and condemnation was gone, darkness was expelled,
my heart humbled and filled with gratitude, and my whole soul, that was
a few minutes ago groaning under mountains of death, and crying to an
unknown God for help, was now filled with immortal love, soaring on the
wings of faith,{215} freed from the chains of death and darkness, and
crying out, My Lord and my God; thou art my rock and my fortress, my
shield and my high tower, my life, my joy, my present and my
everlasting portion.  Looking up, I thought I saw that same light [he
had on more than one previous occasion seen subjectively a bright blaze
of light], though it appeared different; and as soon as I saw it, the
design was opened to me, according to his promise, and I was obliged to
cry out:  Enough, enough, O blessed God! The work of conversion, the
change, and the manifestations of it are no more disputable than that
light which I see, or anything that ever I saw.

"In the midst of all my joys, in less than half an hour after my soul
was set at liberty, the Lord discovered to me my labor in the ministry
and call to preach the gospel.  I cried out, Amen, Lord, I'll go; send
me, send me.  I spent the greatest part of the night in ecstasies of
joy, praising and adoring the Ancient of Days for his free and
unbounded grace.  After I had been so long in this transport and
heavenly frame that my nature seemed to require sleep, I thought to
close my eyes for a few moments; then the devil stepped in, and told me
that if I went to sleep, I should lose it all, and when I should awake
in the morning I would find it to be nothing but a fancy and delusion.
I immediately cried out, O Lord God, if I am deceived, undeceive me.

"I then closed my eyes for a few minutes, and seemed to be refreshed
with sleep; and when I awoke, the first inquiry was, Where is my God?
And in an instant of time, my soul seemed awake in and with God, and
surrounded by the arms of everlasting love.  About sunrise I arose with
joy to relate to my parents what God had done for my soul, and declared
to them the miracle of God's unbounded grace.  I took a Bible to show
them the words that were impressed by God on my soul the evening
before; but when I came to open the Bible, it appeared all new to me.

"I so longed to be useful in the cause of Christ, in preaching the
gospel, that it seemed as if I could not rest any longer, but go I must
and tell the wonders of redeeming love.  I lost all taste for carnal
pleasures, and carnal company, and was enabled to forsake them."[120]

[120] Life and Journals, Boston, 1806, pp. 31-40, abridged.

Young Mr. Alline, after the briefest of delays, and with no
book-learning but his Bible, and no teaching save that of his own
experience, became a Christian minister, and thenceforward his life was
fit to rank, for its austerity and single-mindedness, with that of the
most devoted saints.  But happy as he became in his strenuous way, he
never got his taste for even the most innocent carnal pleasures back.
We must class him, like Bunyan and Tolstoy, amongst those upon whose
soul the iron of melancholy left a permanent imprint.  His redemption
was into another universe than this mere natural world, and life
remained for him a sad and patient trial.  Years later we can find him
making such an entry as this in his diary:  "On Wednesday the 12th I
preached at a wedding, and had the happiness thereby to be the means of
excluding carnal mirth."

The next case I will give is that of a correspondent of Professor
Leuba, printed in the latter's article, already cited, in vol.  vi.  of
the American Journal of Psychology.  This subject was an Oxford
graduate, the son of a clergyman, and the story resembles in many
points the classic case of Colonel Gardiner, which everybody may be
supposed to know. Here it is, somewhat abridged:--

"Between the period of leaving Oxford and my conversion I never
darkened the door of my father's church, although I lived with him for
eight years, making what money I wanted by journalism, and spending it
in high carousal with any one who would sit with me and drink it away.
So I lived, sometimes drunk for a week together, and then a terrible
repentance, and would not touch a drop for a whole month.

"In all this period, that is, up to thirty-three years of age, I never
had a desire to reform on religious grounds.  But all my pangs were due
to some terrible remorse I used to feel after a heavy carousal, the
remorse taking the shape of regret after my folly in wasting my life in
such a way--a man of superior talents and education.  This terrible
remorse turned me gray in one night, and whenever it came upon me I was
perceptibly grayer the next morning.  What I suffered in this way is
beyond the expression of words.  It was hell-fire in all its most
dreadful tortures.  Often did I vow that if I got over 'this time' I
would reform.  Alas, in about three days I fully recovered, and was as
happy as ever.  So it went on for years, but, with a physique like a
rhinoceros, I always recovered, and as long as I let drink alone, no
man was as capable of enjoying life as I was.

"I was converted in my own bedroom in my father's rectory house at
precisely three o'clock in the afternoon of a hot July day (July 13,
1886).  I was in perfect health, having been off from the drink for
nearly a month.  I was in no way troubled about my soul.  In fact, God
was not in my thoughts that day.  A young lady friend sent me a copy of
Professor Drummond's Natural Law in the Spiritual World, asking me my
opinion of it as a literary work only.  Being proud of my critical
talents and wishing to enhance myself in my new friend's esteem, I took
the book to my bedroom for quiet, intending to give it a thorough
study, and then write her what I thought of it.  It was here that God
met me face to face, and I shall never forget the meeting.  'He that
hath the Son hath life eternal, he that hath not the Son hath not
life.'  I had read this scores of times before, but this made all the
difference.  I was now in God's presence and my attention was
absolutely 'soldered' on to this verse, and I was not allowed to
proceed with the book till I had fairly considered what these words
really involved.  Only then was I allowed to proceed, feeling all the
while that there was another being in my bedroom, though not seen by
me.  The stillness was very marvelous, and I felt supremely happy.  It
was most unquestionably shown me, in one second of time, that I had
never touched the Eternal:  and that if I died then, I must inevitably
be lost. I was undone.  I knew it as well as I now know I am saved.
The Spirit of God showed it me in ineffable love; there was no terror
in it; I felt God's love so powerfully upon me that only a mighty
sorrow crept over me that I had lost all through my own folly; and what
was I to do?  What could I do?  I did not repent even; God never asked
me to repent.  All I felt was 'I am undone,' and God cannot help it,
although he loves me.  No fault on the part of the Almighty.  All the
time I was supremely happy:  I felt like a little child before his
father.  I had done wrong, but my Father did not scold me, but loved me
most wondrously.  Still my doom was sealed.  I was lost to a certainty,
and being naturally of a brave disposition I did not quail under it,
but deep sorrow for the past, mixed with regret for what I had lost,
took hold upon me, and my soul thrilled within me to think it was all
over.  Then there crept in upon me so gently, so lovingly, so
unmistakably, a way of escape, and what was it after all?  The old, old
story over again, told in the simplest way:  'There is no name under
heaven whereby ye can be saved except that of the Lord Jesus Christ.'
No words were spoken to me; my soul seemed to see my Saviour in the
spirit, and from that hour to this, nearly nine years now, there has
never been in my life one doubt that the Lord Jesus Christ and God the
Father both worked upon me that afternoon in July, both differently,
and both in the most perfect love conceivable, and I rejoiced there and
then in a conversion so astounding that the whole village heard of it
in less than twenty-four hours.

"But a time of trouble was yet to come.  The day after my conversion I
went into the hay-field to lend a hand with the harvest, and not having
made any promise to God to abstain or drink in moderation only, I took
too much and came home drunk.  My poor sister was heart-broken; and I
felt ashamed of myself and got to my bedroom at once, where she
followed me weeping copiously.  She said I had been converted and
fallen away instantly.  But although I was quite full of drink (not
muddled, however), I knew that God's work begun in me was not going to
be wasted.  About midday I made on my knees the first prayer before God
for twenty years.  I did not ask to be forgiven; I felt that was no
good, for I would be sure to fall again.  Well, what did I do?  I
committed myself to him in the profoundest belief that my individuality
was going to be destroyed, that he would take all from me, and I was
willing.  In such a {219} surrender lies the secret of a holy life.
From that hour drink has had no terrors for me:  I never touch it,
never want it.  The same thing occurred with my pipe:  after being a
regular smoker from my twelfth year the desire for it went at once, and
has never returned.  So with every known sin, the deliverance in each
case being permanent and complete.  I have had no temptation since
conversion, God seemingly having shut out Satan from that course with
me.  He gets a free hand in other ways, but never on sins of the flesh.
Since I gave up to God all ownership in my own life, he has guided me
in a thousand ways, and has opened my path in a way almost incredible
to those who do not enjoy the blessing of a truly surrendered life."

So much for our graduate of Oxford, in whom you notice the complete
abolition of an ancient appetite as one of the conversion's fruits.

The most curious record of sudden conversion with which I am acquainted
is that of M. Alphonse Ratisbonne, a free-thinking French Jew, to
Catholicism, at Rome in 1842.  In a letter to a clerical friend,
written a few months later, the convert gives a palpitating account of
the circumstances.[121] The predisposing conditions appear to have been
slight.  He had an elder brother who had been converted and was a
Catholic priest.  He was himself irreligious, and nourished an
antipathy to the apostate brother and generally to his "cloth."
Finding himself at Rome in his twenty-ninth year, he fell in with a
French gentleman who tried to make a proselyte of him, but who
succeeded no farther after two or three conversations than to get him
to hang (half jocosely) a religious medal round his neck, and to accept
and read a copy of a short prayer to the Virgin.  M. Ratisbonne
represents his own part in the conversations as having been of a light
and chaffing order; but he notes the fact that for some days he was
unable to banish the words of the prayer from his mind, and that the
night before the crisis he had a sort of nightmare, in the imagery of
which a black cross with no Christ upon it figured.  Nevertheless,
until noon of the next day he was free in mind and spent the time in
trivial conversations.  I now give his own words.

[121] My quotations are made from an Italian translation of this letter
in the Biografia del sig. M. A. Ratisbonne, Ferrara, 1843, which I have
to thank Monsignore D. O'Connell of Rome for bringing to my notice.  I
abridge the original.

"If at this time any one had accosted me, saying:  'Alphonse, in a
quarter of an hour you shall be adoring Jesus Christ as your God and
Saviour; you shall lie prostrate with your face upon the ground in a
humble church; you shall be smiting your breast at the foot of a
priest; you shall pass the carnival in a college of Jesuits to prepare
yourself to receive baptism, ready to give your life for the Catholic
faith; you shall renounce the world and its pomps and pleasures;
renounce your fortune, your hopes, and if need be, your betrothed; the
affections of your family, the esteem of your friends, and your
attachment to the Jewish people; you shall have no other aspiration
than to follow Christ and bear his cross till death;'--if, I say, a
prophet had come to me with such a prediction, I should have judged
that only one person could be more mad than he--whosoever, namely,
might believe in the possibility of such senseless folly becoming true.

And yet that folly is at present my only wisdom, my sole happiness.

"Coming out of the cafe I met the carriage of Monsieur B. [the
proselyting friend].  He stopped and invited me in for a drive, but
first asked me to wait for a few minutes whilst he attended to some
duty at the church of San Andrea delle Fratte.  Instead of waiting in
the carriage, I entered the church myself to look at it.  The church of
San Andrea was poor, small, and empty; I believe that I found myself
there almost alone.  No work of art attracted my attention; and I
passed my eyes mechanically over its interior without being arrested by
any particular thought.  I can only remember an entirely black dog
which went trotting and turning before me as I mused.  In an instant
the dog had disappeared, the whole church had vanished, I no longer saw
anything, ... or more truly I saw, O my God, one thing alone.
"Heavens, how can I speak of it?  Oh no! human words cannot attain to
expressing the inexpressible.  Any description, however sublime it
might be, could be but a profanation of the unspeakable truth.

"I was there prostrate on the ground, bathed in my tears, with my heart
beside itself, when M. B. called me back to life.  I could not reply to
the questions which followed from him one upon the other.  But finally
I took the medal which I had on my breast, and with all the effusion of
my soul I kissed the image of the Virgin, radiant with grace, which it
bore.  Oh, indeed, it was She! It was indeed She! [What he had seen had
been a vision of the Virgin.]

"I did not know where I was:  I did not know whether I was Alphonse or
another.  I only felt myself changed and believed myself another me; I
looked for myself in myself and did not find myself.  In the bottom of
my soul I felt an explosion of the most ardent joy; I could not speak;
I had no wish to reveal what had happened.  But I felt something solemn
and sacred within me which made me ask for a priest.  I was led to one;
and there alone, after he had given me the positive order, I spoke as
best I could, kneeling, and with my heart still trembling.  I could
give no account to myself of the truth of which I had acquired a
knowledge and a faith.  All that I can say is that in an instant the
bandage had fallen from my eyes, and not one bandage only, but the
whole manifold of bandages in which I had been brought up.  One after
another they rapidly disappeared, even as the mud and ice disappear
under the rays of the burning sun.

"I came out as from a sepulchre, from an abyss of darkness; and I was
living, perfectly living.  But I wept, for at the bottom of that gulf I
saw the extreme of misery from which I had been saved by an infinite
mercy; and I shuddered at the sight of my iniquities, stupefied,
melted, overwhelmed with wonder and with gratitude.  You may ask me how
I came to this new insight, for truly I had never opened a book of
religion nor even read a single page of the Bible, and the dogma of
original sin is either entirely denied or forgotten by the Hebrews of
to-day, so that I had thought so little about it that I doubt whether I
ever knew its name.  But how came I, then, to this perception of it?  I
can {222} answer nothing save this, that on entering that church I was
in darkness altogether, and on coming out of it I saw the fullness of
the light.  I can explain the change no better than by the simile of a
profound sleep or the analogy of one born blind who should suddenly
open his eyes to the day.  He sees, but cannot define the light which
bathes him and by means of which he sees the objects which excite his
wonder.  If we cannot explain physical light, how can we explain the
light which is the truth itself?  And I think I remain within the
limits of veracity when I say that without having any knowledge of the
letter of religious doctrine, I now intuitively perceived its sense and
spirit. Better than if I saw them, I FELT those hidden things; I felt
them by the inexplicable effects they produced in me.  It all happened
in my interior mind, and those impressions, more rapid than thought
shook my soul, revolved and turned it, as it were, in another
direction, towards other aims, by other paths.  I express myself badly.
But do you wish, Lord, that I should inclose in poor and barren words
sentiments which the heart alone can understand?"

I might multiply cases almost indefinitely, but these will suffice to
show you how real, definite, and memorable an event a sudden conversion
may be to him who has the experience.  Throughout the height of it he
undoubtedly seems to himself a passive spectator or undergoer of an
astounding process performed upon him from above.  There is too much
evidence of this for any doubt of it to be possible.  Theology,
combining this fact with the doctrines of election and grace, has
concluded that the spirit of God is with us at these dramatic moments
in a peculiarly miraculous way, unlike what happens at any other
juncture of our lives.  At that moment, it believes, an absolutely new
nature is breathed into us, and we become partakers of the very
substance of the Deity.

That the conversion should be instantaneous seems called for on this
view, and the Moravian Protestants appear to have been the first to see
this logical consequence.  The Methodists soon followed suit,
practically if not dogmatically, and a short time ere his death, John
Wesley wrote:--

"In London alone I found 652 members of our Society who were exceeding
clear in their experience, and whose testimony I could see no reason to
doubt.  And every one of these (without a single exception) has
declared that his deliverance from sin was instantaneous; that the
change was wrought in a moment.  Had half of these, or one third, or
one in twenty, declared it was GRADUALLY wrought in THEM, I should have
believed this, with regard to THEM, and thought that SOME were
gradually sanctified and some instantaneously.  But as I have not
found, in so long a space of time, a single person speaking thus, I
cannot but believe that sanctification is commonly, if not always, an
instantaneous work."[122]

[122] Tyerman's Life of Wesley, i. 463.

All this while the more usual sects of Protestantism have set no such
store by instantaneous conversion.  For them as for the Catholic
Church, Christ's blood, the sacraments, and the individual's ordinary
religious duties are practically supposed to suffice to his salvation,
even though no acute crisis of self-despair and surrender followed by
relief should be experienced.  For Methodism, on the contrary, unless
there have been a crisis of this sort, salvation is only offered, not
effectively received, and Christ's sacrifice in so far forth is
incomplete.  Methodism surely here follows, if not the healthier-
minded, yet on the whole the profounder spiritual instinct. The
individual models which it has set up as typical and worthy of
imitation are not only the more interesting dramatically, but
psychologically they have been the more complete.

In the fully evolved Revivalism of Great Britain and America we have,
so to speak, the codified and stereotyped procedure to which this way
of thinking has led.  In spite of the unquestionable fact that saints
of the once-born type exist, that there may be a gradual growth in
holiness without a cataclysm; in spite of the obvious leakage (as one
may say) of much mere natural goodness into the scheme of salvation;
revivalism has always assumed that only its own type of religious
experience can be perfect; you must first be nailed on the cross of
natural despair and agony, and then in the twinkling of an eye be
miraculously released.

It is natural that those who personally have traversed such an
experience should carry away a feeling of its being a miracle rather
than a natural process.  Voices are often heard, lights seen, or
visions witnessed; automatic motor phenomena occur; and it always
seems, after the surrender of the personal will, as if an extraneous
higher power had flooded in and taken possession.  Moreover the sense
of renovation, safety, cleanness, rightness, can be so marvelous and
jubilant as well to warrant one's belief in a radically new substantial

"Conversion," writes the New England Puritan, Joseph Alleine, "is not
the putting in a patch of holiness; but with the true convert holiness
is woven into all his powers, principles, and practice.  The sincere
Christian is quite a new fabric, from the foundation to the top-stone.
He is a new man, a new creature."

And Jonathan Edwards says in the same strain:  "Those gracious
influences which are the effects of the Spirit of God are altogether
supernatural--are quite different from anything that unregenerate men
experience.  They are what no improvement, or composition of natural
qualifications or principles will ever produce; because they not only
differ from what is natural, and from everything that natural men
experience in degree and circumstances, but also in kind, and are of a
nature far more excellent. From hence it follows that in gracious
affections there are [also] new perceptions and sensations entirely
different in their nature and kind from anything experienced by the
[same] saints before they were sanctified....  The conceptions which
the saints have of the loveliness of God, and that kind of delight
which they experience in it, are quite peculiar, and entirely different
from anything which a natural man can possess, or of which he can form
any proper notion."

And that such a glorious transformation as this ought of necessity to
be preceded by despair is shown by Edwards in another passage.

"Surely it cannot be unreasonable," he says, "that before God delivers
us from a state of sin and liability to everlasting woe, he should give
us some considerable sense of the evil from which he delivers us, in
order that we may know and feel the importance of salvation, and be
enabled to appreciate the value of what God is pleased to do for us.
As those who are saved are successively in two extremely different
states--first in a state of condemnation and then in a state of
justification and blessedness--and as God, in the salvation of men,
deals with them as rational and intelligent creatures, it appears
agreeable to this wisdom, that those who are saved should be made
sensible of their Being, in those two different states.  In the first
place, that they should be made sensible of their state of
condemnation; and afterwards, of their state of deliverance and

Such quotations express sufficiently well for our purpose the doctrinal
interpretation of these changes.  Whatever part suggestion and
imitation may have played in producing them in men and women in excited
assemblies, they have at any rate been in countless individual
instances an original and unborrowed experience.  Were we writing the
story of the mind from the purely natural-history point of view, with
no religious interest whatever, we should still have to write down
man's liability to sudden and complete conversion as one of his most
curious peculiarities.

What, now, must we ourselves think of this question?  Is an
instantaneous conversion a miracle in which God is present as he is
present in no change of heart less strikingly abrupt? Are there two
classes of human beings, even among the apparently regenerate, of which
the one class really partakes of Christ's nature while the other merely
seems to do so?  Or, on the contrary, may the whole phenomenon of
regeneration, even in these startling instantaneous examples, possibly
be a strictly natural process, divine in its fruits, of course, but in
one case more and in another less so, and neither more nor less divine
in its mere causation and mechanism than any other process, high or
low, of man's interior life?

Before proceeding to answer this question, I must ask you to listen to
some more psychological remarks.  At our last lecture, I explained the
shifting of men's centres of personal energy within them and the
lighting up of new crises of emotion.  I explained the phenomena as
partly due to explicitly conscious processes of thought and will, but
as due largely also to the subconscious incubation and maturing of
motives deposited by the experiences of life.  When ripe, the results
hatch out, or burst into flower.  I have now to speak of the
subconscious region, in which such processes of flowering may occur, in
a somewhat less vague way.  I only regret that my limits of time here
force me to be so short.

The expression "field of consciousness" has but recently come into
vogue in the psychology books.  Until quite lately the unit of mental
life which figured most was the single "idea," supposed to be a
definitely outlined thing.  But at present psychologists are tending,
first, to admit that the actual unit is more probably the total mental
state, the entire wave of consciousness or field of objects present to
the thought at any time; and, second, to see that it is impossible to
outline this wave, this field, with any definiteness.

As our mental fields succeed one another, each has its centre of
interest, around which the objects of which we are less and less
attentively conscious fade to a margin so faint that its limits are
unassignable.  Some fields are narrow fields and some are wide fields.
Usually when we have a wide field we rejoice, for we then see masses of
truth together, and often get glimpses of relations which we divine
rather than see, for they shoot beyond the field into still remoter
regions of objectivity, regions which we seem rather to be about to
perceive than to perceive actually.  At other times, of drowsiness,
illness, or fatigue, our fields may narrow almost to a point, and we
find ourselves correspondingly oppressed and contracted.

Different individuals present constitutional differences in this matter
of width of field.  Your great organizing geniuses are men with
habitually vast fields of mental vision, in which a whole programme of
future operations will appear dotted out at once, the rays shooting far
ahead into definite directions of advance.  In common people there is
never this magnificent inclusive view of a topic.  They stumble along,
feeling their way, as it were, from point to point, and often stop
entirely.  In certain diseased conditions consciousness is a mere
spark, without memory of the past or thought of the future, and with
the present narrowed down to some one simple emotion or sensation of
the body.

The important fact which this "field" formula commemorates is the
indetermination of the margin.  Inattentively realized as is the matter
which the margin contains, it is nevertheless there, and helps both to
guide our behavior and to determine the next movement of our attention.
It lies around us like a "magnetic field," inside of which our centre
of energy turns like a compass-needle, as the present phase of
consciousness alters into its successor.  Our whole past store of
memories floats beyond this margin, ready at a touch to come in; and
the entire mass of residual powers, impulses, and knowledges that
constitute our empirical self stretches continuously beyond it.  So
vaguely drawn are the outlines between what is actual and what is only
potential at any moment of our conscious life, that it is always hard
to say of certain mental elements whether we are conscious of them or

The ordinary psychology, admitting fully the difficulty of tracing the
marginal outline, has nevertheless taken for {228} granted, first, that
all the consciousness the person now has, be the same focal or
marginal, inattentive or attentive, is there in the "field" of the
moment, all dim and impossible to assign as the latter's outline may
be; and, second, that what is absolutely extra-marginal is absolutely
non-existent. and cannot be a fact of consciousness at all.

And having reached this point, I must now ask you to recall what I said
in my last lecture about the subconscious life.  I said, as you may
recollect, that those who first laid stress upon these phenomena could
not know the facts as we now know them.  My first duty now is to tell
you what I meant by such a statement.

I cannot but think that the most important step forward that has
occurred in psychology since I have been a student of that science is
the discovery, first made in 1886, that, in certain subjects at least,
there is not only the consciousness of the ordinary field, with its
usual centre and margin, but an addition thereto in the shape of a set
of memories, thoughts, and feelings which are extra-marginal and
outside of the primary consciousness altogether, but yet must be
classed as conscious facts of some sort, able to reveal their presence
by unmistakable signs.  I call this the most important step forward
because, unlike the other advances which psychology has made, this
discovery has revealed to us an entirely unsuspected peculiarity in the
constitution of human nature.  No other step forward which psychology
has made can proffer any such claim as this.

In particular this discovery of a consciousness existing beyond the
field, or subliminally as Mr. Myers terms it, casts light on many
phenomena of religious biography.  That is why I have to advert to it
now, although it is naturally impossible for me in this place to give
you any account of the evidence on which the admission of such a
consciousness is based.  You will find it set forth in many recent
books, Binet's Alterations of Personality[123] being perhaps as good a
one as any to recommend.

[123] Published in the International Scientific Series.

The human material on which the demonstration has been made has so far
been rather limited and, in part at least, eccentric, consisting of
unusually suggestible hypnotic subjects, and of hysteric patients.  Yet
the elementary mechanisms of our life are presumably so uniform that
what is shown to be true in a marked degree of some persons is probably
true in some degree of all, and may in a few be true in an
extraordinarily high degree.

The most important consequence of having a strongly developed
ultra-marginal life of this sort is that one's ordinary fields of
consciousness are liable to incursions from it of which the subject
does not guess the source, and which, therefore, take for him the form
of unaccountable impulses to act, or inhibitions of action, of
obsessive ideas, or even of hallucinations of sight or hearing.  The
impulses may take the direction of automatic speech or writing, the
meaning of which the subject himself may not understand even while he
utters it; and generalizing this phenomenon, Mr. Myers has given the
name of automatism, sensory or motor, emotional or intellectual, to
this whole sphere of effects, due to "up-rushes" into the ordinary
consciousness of energies originating in the subliminal parts of the

The simplest instance of an automatism is the phenomenon of
post-hypnotic suggestion, so-called.  You give to a hypnotized subject,
adequately susceptible, an order to perform some designated act--usual
or eccentric, it makes no difference-- after he wakes from his hypnotic
sleep. Punctually, when the signal comes or the time elapses upon which
you have told him that the act must ensue, he performs it;--but in so
doing he has no recollection of your suggestion, and he always trumps
up an improvised pretext for his behavior if the act be of an eccentric
kind.  It may even be suggested to a subject to have a vision or to
hear a voice at a certain interval after waking, and when the time
comes the vision is seen or the voice heard, with no inkling on the
subject's part of its source.

In the wonderful explorations by Binet, Janet, Breuer, Freud, Mason,
Prince, and others, of the subliminal consciousness of patients with
hysteria, we have revealed to us whole systems of underground life, in
the shape of memories of a painful sort which lead a parasitic
existence, buried outside of the primary fields of consciousness, and
making irruptions thereinto with hallucinations, pains, convulsions,
paralyses of feeling and of motion, and the whole procession of
symptoms of hysteric disease of body and of mind.  Alter or abolish by
suggestion these subconscious memories, and the patient immediately
gets well.  His symptoms were automatisms, in Mr. Myers's sense of the
word.  These clinical records sound like fairy-tales when one first
reads them, yet it is impossible to doubt their accuracy; and, the path
having been once opened by these first observers, similar observations
have been made elsewhere.  They throw, as I said, a wholly new light
upon our natural constitution.

And it seems to me that they make a farther step inevitable.
Interpreting the unknown after the analogy of the known, it seems to me
that hereafter, wherever we meet with a phenomenon of automatism, be it
motor impulses, or obsessive idea, or unaccountable caprice, or
delusion, or hallucination, we are bound first of all to make search
whether it be not an explosion, into the fields of ordinary
consciousness, of ideas elaborated outside of those fields in
subliminal regions of the mind.  We should look, therefore, for its
source in the Subject's subconscious life.  In the hypnotic cases, we
ourselves create the source by our suggestion, so we know it directly.
In the hysteric cases, the lost memories which are the source have to
be extracted from the patient's Subliminal by a number of ingenious
methods, for an account of which you must consult the books.  In other
pathological cases, insane delusions, for example, or psychopathic
obsessions, the source is yet to seek, but by analogy it also should be
in subliminal regions which improvements in our methods may yet
conceivably put on tap. There lies the mechanism logically to be
assumed--but the assumption involves a vast program of work to be done
in the way of verification, in which the religious experiences of man
must play their part.[124]

[124] The reader will here please notice that in my exclusive reliance
in the last lecture on the subconscious "incubation" of motives
deposited by a growing experience, I followed the method of employing
accepted principles of explanation as far as one can.  The subliminal
region, whatever else it may be, is at any rate a place now admitted by
psychologists to exist for the accumulation of vestiges of sensible
experience (whether inattentively or attentively registered), and for
their elaboration according to ordinary psychological or logical laws
into results that end by attaining such a "tension"that they may at
times enter consciousness with something like a burst.  It thus is
"scientific" to interpret all otherwise unaccountable invasive
alterations of consciousness as results of the tension of subliminal
memories reaching the bursting-point.  But candor obliges me to confess
that there are occasional bursts into consciousness of results of which
it is not easy to demonstrate any prolonged subconscious incubation.
Some of the cases I used to illustrate the sense of presence of the
unseen in Lecture III were of this order (compare pages 59, 60, 61,
66); and we shall see other experiences of the kind when we come to the
subject of mysticism.  The case of Mr. Bradley, that of M.  Ratisbonne,
possibly that of Colonel Gardiner, possibly that of saint Paul, might
not be so easily explained in this simple way.  The result, then, would
have to be ascribed either to a merely physiological nerve storm, a
"discharging lesion" like that of epilepsy; or, in case it were useful
and rational, as in the two latter cases named, to some more mystical
or theological hypothesis. I make this remark in order that the reader
may realize that the subject is really complex.  But I shall keep
myself as far as possible at present to the more "scientific" view; and
only as the plot thickens in subsequent lectures shall I consider the
question of its absolute sufficiency as an explanation of all the
facts.  That subconscious incubation explains a great number of them,
there can be no doubt.

And thus I return to our own specific subject of instantaneous
conversions.  You remember the cases of Alline, Bradley, Brainerd, and
the graduate of Oxford converted at three in the afternoon.  Similar
occurrences abound, some with and some without luminous visions, all
with a sense of astonished happiness, and of being wrought on by a
higher control.  If, abstracting altogether from the question of their
value for the future spiritual life of the individual, we take them on
their psychological side exclusively, so many peculiarities in them
remind us of what we find outside of conversion that we are tempted to
class them along with other automatisms, and to suspect that what makes
the difference between a sudden and a gradual convert is not
necessarily the presence of divine miracle in the case of one and of
something less divine in that of the other, but rather a simple
psychological peculiarity, the fact, namely, that in the recipient of
the more instantaneous grace we have one of those Subjects who are in
possession of a large region in which mental work can go on
subliminally, and from which invasive experiences, abruptly upsetting
the equilibrium of the primary consciousness, may come.

I do not see why Methodists need object to such a view. Pray go back
and recollect one of the conclusions to which I sought to lead you in
my very first lecture.  You may remember how I there argued against the
notion that the worth of a thing can be decided by its origin.  Our
spiritual judgment, I said, our opinion of the significance and value
of a human event or condition, must be decided on empirical grounds
exclusively.  If the fruits for life of the state of conversion are
good, we ought to idealize and venerate it, even though it be a piece
of natural psychology; if not, we ought to make short work with it, no
matter what supernatural being may have infused it.

Well, how is it with these fruits?  If we except the class of
preeminent saints of whom the names illumine history, and consider only
the usual run of "saints," the shopkeeping church-members and ordinary
youthful or middle-aged recipients of instantaneous conversion, whether
at revivals or in the spontaneous course of methodistic growth, you
will probably agree that no splendor worthy of a wholly supernatural
creature fulgurates from them, or sets them apart from the mortals who
have never experienced that favor. Were it true that a suddenly
converted man as such is, as Edwards says,[125] of an entirely
different kind from a natural man, partaking as he does directly of
Christ's substance, there surely ought to be some exquisite class-mark,
some distinctive radiance attaching even to the lowliest specimen of
this genus, to which no one of us could remain insensible, and which,
so far as it went, would prove him more excellent than ever the most
highly gifted among mere natural men.  But notoriously there is no such
radiance.  Converted men as a class are indistinguishable from natural
men; some natural men even excel some converted men in their fruits;
and no one ignorant of doctrinal theology could guess by mere every-day
inspection of the "accidents" of the two groups of persons before him,
that their substance differed as much as divine differs from human

[125] Edwards says elsewhere:  "I am bold to say that the work of God
in the conversion of one soul, considered together with the source
foundation, and purchase of it, and also the benefit, end, and eternal
issue of it, is a more glorious work of God than the creation of the
whole material universe."

The believers in the non-natural character of sudden conversion have
had practically to admit that there is no unmistakable class-mark
distinctive of all true converts.  The super-normal incidents, such as
voices and visions and overpowering impressions of the meaning of
suddenly presented scripture texts, the melting emotions and tumultuous
affections connected with the crisis of change, may all come by way of
nature, or worse still, be counterfeited by Satan.  The real witness of
the spirit to the second birth is to be found only in the disposition
of the genuine child of God, the permanently patient heart, the love of
self eradicated.  And this, it has to be admitted, is also found in
those who pass no crisis, and may even be found outside of Christianity

Throughout Jonathan Edwards's admirably rich and delicate description
of the supernaturally infused condition, in his Treatise on Religious
Affections, there is not one decisive trait, not one mark, that
unmistakably parts it off from what may possibly be only an
exceptionally high degree of natural goodness.  In fact, one could
hardly read a clearer argument than this book unwittingly offers in
favor of the thesis that no chasm exists between the orders of human
excellence, but that here as elsewhere, nature shows continuous
differences, and generation and regeneration are matters of degree.

All which denial of two objective classes of human beings separated by
a chasm must not leave us blind to the extraordinary momentousness of
the fact of his conversion to the individual himself who gets
converted.  There are higher and lower limits of possibility set to
each personal life.  If a flood but goes above one's head, its absolute
elevation becomes a matter of small importance; and when we touch our
own upper limit and live in our own highest centre of energy, we may
call ourselves saved, no matter how much higher some one else's centre
may be.  A small man's salvation will always be a great salvation and
the greatest of all facts FOR HIM, and we should remember this when the
fruits of our ordinary evangelicism look discouraging.  Who knows how
much less ideal still the lives of these spiritual grubs and
earthworms, these Crumps and Stigginses, might have been, if such poor
grace as they have received had never touched them at all?[126]

[126] Emerson writes:  "When we see a soul whose acts are regal,
graceful and pleasant as roses, we must thank God that such things can
be and are, and not turn sourly on the angel and say: Crump is a better
man, with his grunting resistance to all his native devils."  True
enough.  Yet Crump may really be the better CRUMP, for his inner
discords and second birth; and your once-born "regal" character though
indeed always better than poor Crump, may fall far short of what he
individually might be had he only some Crump-like capacity for
compunction over his own peculiar diabolisms, graceful and pleasant and
invariably gentlemanly as these may be.

{235} If we roughly arrange human beings in classes, each class
standing for a grade of spiritual excellence, I believe we shall find
natural men and converts both sudden and gradual in all the classes.
The forms which regenerative change effects have, then, no general
spiritual significance, but only a psychological significance.  We have
seen how Starbuck's laborious statistical studies tend to assimilate
conversion to ordinary spiritual growth.  Another American
psychologist, Prof. George A. Coe,[127] has analyzed the cases of
seventy-seven converts or ex-candidates for conversion, known to him,
and the results strikingly confirm the view that sudden conversion is
connected with the possession of an active subliminal self.  Examining
his subjects with reference to their hypnotic sensibility and to such
automatisms as hypnagogic hallucinations, odd impulses, religious
dreams about the time of their conversion, etc., he found these
relatively much more frequent in the group of converts whose
transformation had been "striking," "striking" transformation being
defined as a change which, though not necessarily instantaneous, seems
to the subject of it to be distinctly different from a process of
growth, however rapid."[128] Candidates for conversion at revivals are,
as you know, often disappointed:  they experience nothing striking.
Professor Coe had a number of persons of this class among his
seventy-seven subjects, and they almost all, when tested by hypnotism,
proved to belong to a subclass which he calls "spontaneous," that is,
fertile in self-suggestions, as distinguished from a "passive"
subclass, to which most of the subjects of striking transformation
belonged.  His inference is that self-suggestion of impossibility had
prevented the influence upon these persons of an environment which, on
the more "passive" subjects, had easily brought forth the effects they
looked for.  Sharp distinctions are difficult in these regions, and
Professor Coe's numbers are small.  But his methods were careful, and
the results tally with what one might expect; and they seem, on the
whole, to justify his practical conclusion, which is that if you should
expose to a converting influence a subject in whom three factors unite:
first, pronounced emotional sensibility; second, tendency to
automatisms; and third, suggestibility of the passive type; you might
then safely predict the result:  there would be a sudden conversion, a
transformation of the striking kind.

[127] In his book, The Spiritual Life, New York, 1900.

[128] Op. cit., p. 112.

Does this temperamental origin diminish the significance of the sudden
conversion when it has occurred?  Not in the least, as Professor Coe
well says; for "the ultimate test of religious values is nothing
psychological, nothing definable in terms of HOW IT HAPPENS, but
something ethical, definable only in terms of WHAT IS ATTAINED."[129]

[129] Op. cit., p. 144

As we proceed farther in our inquiry we shall see that what is attained
is often an altogether new level of spiritual vitality, a relatively
heroic level, in which impossible things have become possible, and new
energies and endurances are shown.  The personality is changed, the man
is born anew, whether or not his psychological idiosyncrasies are what
give the particular shape to his metamorphosis.  "Sanctification" is
the technical name of this result; and erelong examples of it shall be
brought before you.  In this lecture I have still only to add a few
remarks on the assurance and peace which fill the hour of change itself.

One word more, though, before proceeding to that point, lest the final
purpose of my explanation of suddenness by subliminal activity be
misunderstood.  I do indeed believe that if the Subject have no
liability to such subconscious activity, or if his conscious fields
have a hard rind of a margin that resists incursions from beyond it,
his conversion must he gradual if it occur, and must resemble any
simple growth into new habits.  His possession of a developed
subliminal self, and of a leaky or pervious margin, is thus a conditio
sine qua non of the Subject's becoming converted in the instantaneous
way.  But if you, being orthodox Christians, ask me as a psychologist
whether the reference of a phenomenon to a subliminal self does not
exclude the notion of the direct presence of the Deity altogether, I
have to say frankly that as a psychologist I do not see why it
necessarily should.  The lower manifestations of the Subliminal,
indeed, fall within the resources of the personal subject:  his
ordinary sense-material, inattentively taken in and subconsciously
remembered and combined, will account for all his usual automatisms.
But just as our primary wide-awake consciousness throws open our senses
to the touch of things material so it is logically conceivable that IF
THERE BE higher spiritual agencies that can directly touch us, the
psychological condition of their doing so MIGHT BE our possession of a
subconscious region which alone should yield access to them.  The
hubbub of the waking life might close a door which in the dreamy
Subliminal might remain ajar or open.

Thus that perception of external control which is so essential a
feature in conversion might, in some cases at any rate, be interpreted
as the orthodox interpret it:  forces transcending the finite
individual might impress him, on condition of his being what we may
call a subliminal human specimen.  But in any case the VALUE of these
forces would have to be determined by their effects, and the mere fact
of their transcendency would of itself establish no presumption that
they were more divine than diabolical.

I confess that this is the way in which I should rather see the topic
left lying in your minds until I come to a much later lecture, when I
hope once more to gather these dropped threads together into more
definitive conclusions.  The notion of a subconscious self certainly
ought not at this point of our inquiry to be held to EXCLUDE all notion
of a higher penetration.

If there be higher powers able to impress us, they may get access to us
only through the subliminal door. (See below, p. 506 ff.)

Let us turn now to the feelings which immediately fill the hour of the
conversion experience.  The first one to be noted is just this sense of
higher control.  It is not always, but it is very often present.  We
saw examples of it in Alline, Bradley, Brainerd, and elsewhere.  The
need of such a higher controlling agency is well expressed in the short
reference which the eminent French Protestant Adolphe Monod makes to
the crisis of his own conversion.  It was at Naples in his early
manhood, in the summer of 1827.

"My sadness," he says, "was without limit, and having got entire
possession of me, it filled my life from the most indifferent external
acts to the most secret thoughts, and corrupted at their source my
feelings, my judgment, and my happiness.  It was then that I saw that
to expect to put a stop to this disorder by my reason and my will,
which were themselves diseased, would be to act like a blind man who
should pretend to correct one of his eyes by the aid of the other
equally blind one.  I had then no resource save in some INFLUENCE FROM
WITHOUT.  I remembered the promise of the Holy Ghost; and what the
positive declarations of the Gospel had never succeeded in bringing
home to me, I learned at last from necessity, and believed, for the
first time in my life, in this promise, in the only sense in which it
answered the needs of my soul, in that, namely, of a real external
supernatural action, capable of giving me thoughts, and taking them
away from me, and exerted on me by a God as truly master of my heart as
he is of the rest of nature. Renouncing then all merit, all strength,
abandoning all my personal resources, and acknowledging no other title
to his mercy than my own utter misery, I went home and threw myself on
my knees and prayed as I never yet prayed in my life.  From this day
onwards a new interior life began for me:  not that my melancholy had
disappeared, but it had lost its sting.  Hope had entered into my
heart, and once entered on the path, the God of Jesus Christ, to whom I
then had learned to give myself up, little by little did the rest."[130]

[130] I piece together a quotation made by W. Monod, in his book la
Vie, and a letter printed in the work:  Adolphe Monod:  I,.  Souvenirs
de sa Vie, 1885, p. 433.

It is needless to remind you once more of the admirable congruity of
Protestant theology with the structure of the mind as shown in such
experiences.  In the extreme of melancholy the self that consciously is
can do absolutely nothing. It is completely bankrupt and without
resource, and no works it can accomplish will avail.  Redemption from
such subjective conditions must be a free gift or nothing, and grace
through Christ's accomplished sacrifice is such a gift.

"God," says Luther, "is the God of the humble, the miserable, the
oppressed, and the desperate, and of those that are brought even to
nothing; and his nature is to give sight to the blind, to comfort the
broken-hearted, to justify sinners, to save the very desperate and
damned.  Now that pernicious and pestilent opinion of man's own
righteousness, which will not be a sinner, unclean, miserable, and
damnable, but righteous and holy, suffereth not God to come to his own
natural and proper work.  Therefore God must take this maul in hand
(the law, I mean) to beat in pieces and bring to nothing this beast
with her vain confidence, that she may so learn at length by her own
misery that she is utterly forlorn and damned.  But here lieth the
difficulty, that when a man is terrified and cast down, he is so little
able to raise himself up again and say, 'Now I am bruised and afflicted
enough; now is the time of grace; now is the time to hear Christ.'  The
foolishness of man's heart is so great that then he rather seeketh to
himself more laws to satisfy his conscience.  'If I live,' saith he, 'I
will amend my life:  I will do this, I will do that.'  But here, except
thou do the quite contrary, except thou send Moses away with his law,
and in these terrors and this anguish lay hold upon Christ who died for
thy sins, look for no salvation.  Thy cowl, thy shaven crown, thy
chastity, thy obedience, thy poverty, thy works, thy merits?  what
shall all these do?  what shall the law of Moses avail?  If I, wretched
and damnable sinner, through works or merits could have loved the Son
of God, and so come to him, what needed he to deliver himself for me?
If I, being a wretch and damned sinner, could be redeemed by any other
price, what needed the Son of God to be given?  But because there was
no other price, therefore he delivered neither sheep, ox, gold, nor
silver, but even God himself, entirely and wholly 'for me,' even 'for
me,' I say, a miserable, wretched sinner.  Now, therefore, I take
comfort and apply this to MYSELF.

And this manner of applying is the very true force and power of faith.
For he died NOT to justify the righteous, but the UN-righteous, and to
make THEM the children of God."[131]

[131] Commentary on Galatians, ch. iii. verse 19, and ch. ii.  verse
20, abridged.

That is, the more literally lost you are, the more literally you are
the very being whom Christ's sacrifice has already saved.  Nothing in
Catholic theology, I imagine, has ever spoken to sick souls as straight
as this message from Luther's personal experience.  As Protestants are
not all sick souls, of course reliance on what Luther exults in calling
the dung of one's merits, the filthy puddle of one's own righteousness,
has come to the front again in their religion; but the adequacy of his
view of Christianity to the deeper parts of our human mental structure
is shown by its wildfire contagiousness when it was a new and
quickening thing.

Faith that Christ has genuinely done his work was part of what Luther
meant by faith, which so far is faith in a fact intellectually
conceived of.  But this is only one part of Luther's faith, the other
part being far more vital.  This other part is something not
intellectual but immediate and intuitive, the assurance, namely, that
I, this individual I, just as I stand, without one plea, etc., am saved
now and forever. [132] Professor Leuba is undoubtedly right in
contending that the conceptual belief about Christ's work, although so
often efficacious and antecedent, is really accessory and
non-essential, and that the "joyous conviction" can also come by far
other channels than this conception.  It is to the joyous conviction
itself, the assurance that all is well with one, that he would give the
name of faith par excellence.  "When the sense of estrangement," he
writes, "fencing man about in a narrowly limited ego, breaks down, the
individual finds himself 'at one with all creation.' He lives in the
universal life; he and man, he and nature, he and God, are one.  That
state of confidence, trust, union with all things, following upon the
achievement of moral unity, is the Faith-state.  Various dogmatic
beliefs suddenly, on the advent of the faith-state, acquire a character
of certainty, assume a new reality, become an object of faith.  As the
ground of assurance here is not rational, argumentation is irrelevant.
But such conviction being a mere casual offshoot of the faith-state, it
is a gross error to imagine that the chief practical value of the
faith-state is its power to stamp with the seal of reality certain
particular theological conceptions.[133] On the contrary, its value
lies solely in the fact that it is the psychic correlate of a
biological growth reducing contending desires to one direction; a
growth which expresses itself in new affective states and new
reactions; in larger, nobler, more Christ-like activities.  The ground
of the specific assurance in religious dogmas is then an affective
experience.  The objects of faith may even be preposterous; the
affective stream will float them along, and invest them with unshakable
certitude.  The more startling the affective experience, the less
explicable it seems, the easier it is to make it the carrier of
unsubstantiated notions."[134]

[132] In some conversions, both steps are distinct; in this one, for

"Whilst I was reading the evangelical treatise, I was soon struck by an
expression:  'the finished work of Christ.' 'Why,' I asked of myself,
'does the author use these terms?  Why does he not say "the atoning
work"?' Then these words, 'It is finished,' presented themselves to my
mind.  'What is it that is finished?' I asked, and in an instant my
mind replied:  'A perfect expiation for sin; entire satisfaction has
been given; the debt has been paid by the Substitute. Christ has died
for our sins; not for ours only, but for those of all men.  If, then,
the entire work is finished, all the debt paid, what remains for me to
do?' In another instant the light was shed through my mind by the Holy
Ghost, and the joyous conviction was given me that nothing more was to
be done, save to fall on my knees, to accept this Saviour and his love,
to praise God forever."  Autobiography of Hudson Taylor.  I translate
back into English from the French translation of Challand (Geneva, no
date), the original not being accessible.

[133] Tolstoy's case was a good comment on those words.  There was
almost no theology in his conversion.  His faith-state was the sense
come back that life was infinite in its moral significance.

[134] American Journal of Psychology, vii. 345-347, abridged.

The characteristics of the affective experience which, to avoid
ambiguity, should, I think, be called the state of assurance rather
than the faith-state, can be easily enumerated, though it is probably
difficult to realize their intensity, unless one has been through the
experience one's self.

The central one is the loss of all the worry, the sense that all is
ultimately well with one, the peace, the harmony, the WILLINGNESS TO
BE, even though the outer conditions should remain the same.  The
certainty of God's "grace," of "justification," "salvation," is an
objective belief that usually accompanies the change in Christians; but
this may be entirely lacking and yet the affective peace remain the
same--you will recollect the case of the Oxford graduate:  and many
might be given where the assurance of personal salvation {243} was only
a later result.  A passion of willingness, of acquiescence, of
admiration, is the glowing centre of this state of mind.

The second feature is the sense of perceiving truths not known before.
The mysteries of life become lucid, as Professor Leuba says; and often,
nay usually, the solution is more or less unutterable in words.  But
these more intellectual phenomena may be postponed until we treat of

A third peculiarity of the assurance state is the objective change
which the world often appears to undergo.  "An appearance of newness
beautifies every object," the precise opposite of that other sort of
newness, that dreadful unreality and strangeness in the appearance of
the world, which is experienced by melancholy patients, and of which
you may recall my relating some examples.[135] This sense of clean and
beautiful newness within and without is one of the commonest entries in
conversion records. Jonathan Edwards thus describes it in himself:--

[135] Above, p. 150.

"After this my sense of divine things gradually increased, and became
more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweetness.  The
appearance of everything was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a
calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost everything.
God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in
everything; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds and blue sky; in
the grass, flowers, and trees; in the water and all nature; which used
greatly to fix my mind.  And scarce anything, among all the works of
nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; formerly nothing
had been so terrible to me.  Before, I used to be uncommonly terrified
with thunder, and to be struck with terror when I saw a thunderstorm
rising; but now, on the contrary, it rejoices me."[136]

[136] Dwight:  Life of Edwards, New York, 1830, p. 61, abridged.

{244} Billy Bray, an excellent little illiterate English evangelist,
records his sense of newness thus:--

"I said to the Lord:  'Thou hast said, they that ask shall receive,
they that seek shall find, and to them that knock the door shall be
opened, and I have faith to believe it.' In an instant the Lord made me
so happy that I cannot express what I felt.  I shouted for joy.  I
praised God with my whole heart....  I think this was in November,
1823, but what day of the month I do not know.  I remember this, that
everything looked new to me, the people, the fields, the cattle, the
trees.  I was like a new man in a new world.  I spent the greater part
of my time in praising the Lord."[137]

[137] W. F. Bourne:  The King's Son, a Memoir of Billy Bray, London,
Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1887, p. 9.

Starbuck and Leuba both illustrate this sense of newness by quotations.
I take the two following from Starbuck's manuscript collection.  One, a
woman, says:--

"I was taken to a camp-meeting, mother and religious friends seeking
and praying for my conversion.  My emotional nature was stirred to its
depths; confessions of depravity and pleading with God for salvation
from sin made me oblivious of all surroundings.  I plead for mercy, and
had a vivid realization of forgiveness and renewal of my nature.  When
rising from my knees I exclaimed, 'Old things have passed away, all
things have become new.' It was like entering another world, a new
state of existence.  Natural objects were glorified, my spiritual
vision was so clarified that I saw beauty in every material object in
the universe, the woods were vocal with heavenly music; my soul exulted
in the love of God, and I wanted everybody to share in my joy."

The next case is that of a man:--

"I know not how I got back into the encampment, but found myself
staggering up to Rev. ----'s Holiness tent--and as it was full of
seekers and a terrible noise inside, some groaning, some laughing, and
some shouting, and by a large oak, ten feet from the tent, I fell on my
face by a bench, and tried to pray, and every time I would call on God,
something like a man's hand would strangle me by choking.  I don't know
whether there were any one around or near me or not.  I thought I
should surely die if I did not get help, but just as often as I would
pray, that unseen hand was felt on my throat and my breath squeezed
off. Finally something said:  'Venture on the atonement, for you will
die anyway if you don't.'  So I made one final struggle to call on God
for mercy, with the same choking and strangling, determined to finish
the sentence of prayer for Mercy, if I did strangle and die, and the
last I remember that time was falling back on the ground with the same
unseen hand on my throat.  I don't know how long I lay there or what
was going on.  None of my folks were present.  When I came to myself,
there were a crowd around me praising God.  The very heavens seemed to
open and pour down rays of light and glory.  Not for a moment only, but
all day and night, floods of light and glory seemed to pour through my
soul, and oh, how I was changed, and everything became new.  My horses
and hogs and even everybody seemed changed."

This man's case introduces the feature of automatisms, which in
suggestible subjects have been so startling a feature at revivals
since, in Edwards's, Wesley's and Whitfield's time, these became a
regular means of gospel-propagation.  They were at first supposed to be
semi-miraculous proofs of "power" on the part of the Holy Ghost; but
great divergence of opinion quickly arose concerning them.  Edwards, in
his Thoughts on the Revival of Religion in New England, has to defend
them against their critics; and their value has long been matter of
debate even within the revivalistic denominations.[138] They
undoubtedly have no essential spiritual significance, and although
their presence makes his conversion more memorable to the convert, it
has never been proved that converts who show them are more persevering
or fertile in good fruits than those whose change of heart has had less
violent accompaniments.  On the whole, unconsciousness, convulsions,
visions, involuntary vocal utterances, and suffocation, must be simply
ascribed to the subject's having a large subliminal region, involving
nervous instability. This is often the subject's own view of the matter
afterwards.  One of Starbuck's correspondents writes, for instance:--

[138] Consult William B. Sprague:  Lectures on Revivals of Religion,
New York, 1832, in the long Appendix to which the opinions of a large
number of ministers are given.

"I have been through the experience which is known as conversion.  My
explanation of it is this:  the subject works his emotions up to the
breaking point, at the same time resisting their physical
manifestations, such as quickened pulse, etc., and then suddenly lets
them have their full sway over his body.  The relief is something
wonderful, and the pleasurable effects of the emotions are experienced
to the highest degree."

There is one form of sensory automatism which possibly deserves special
notice on account of its frequency.  I refer to hallucinatory or
pseudo-hallucinatory luminous phenomena, photisms, to use the term of
the psychologists.  Saint Paul's blinding heavenly vision seems to have
been a phenomenon of this sort; so does Constantine's cross in the sky.
The last case but one which I quoted mentions floods of light and
glory.  Henry Alline mentions a light, about whose externality he seems
uncertain.  Colonel Gardiner sees a blazing light.  President Finney

"All at once the glory of God shone upon and round about me in a manner
almost marvelous.... A light perfectly ineffable shone in my soul, that
almost prostrated me on the ground.... This light seemed like the
brightness of the sun in every direction.  It was too intense for the
eyes.... I think I knew something then, by actual experience, of that
light that prostrated Paul on the way to Damascus.  It was surely a
light such as I could not have endured long."[139]

[139] Memoirs, p. 34

Such reports of photisms are indeed far from uncommon. Here is another
from Starbuck's collection, where the light appeared evidently

"I had attended a series of revival services for about two weeks off
and on.  Had been invited to the altar several times, all the time
becoming more deeply impressed, when finally I decided I must do this,
or I should be lost.  Realization of conversion was very vivid, like a
ton's weight being lifted from my heart; a strange light which seemed
to light up the whole room (for it was dark); a conscious supreme bliss
which caused me to repeat 'Glory to God' for a long time.  Decided to
be God's child for life, and to give up my pet ambition, wealth and
social position.  My former habits of life hindered my growth somewhat,
but I set about overcoming these systematically, and in one year my
whole nature was changed, i. e., my ambitions were of a different

Here is another one of Starbuck's cases, involving a luminous element:--

"I had been clearly converted twenty-three years before, or rather
reclaimed.  My experience in regeneration was then clear and spiritual,
and I had not backslidden.  But I experienced entire sanctification on
the 15th day of March, 1893, about eleven o'clock in the morning.  The
particular accompaniments of the experience were entirely unexpected.
I was quietly sitting at home singing selections out of Pentecostal
Hymns.  Suddenly there seemed to be a something sweeping into me and
inflating my entire being--such a sensation as I had never experienced

When this experience came, I seemed to be conducted around a large,
capacious, well-lighted room.  As I walked with my invisible conductor
and looked around, a clear thought was coined in my mind, 'They are not
here, they are gone.'  As soon as the thought was definitely formed in
my mind, though no word was spoken, the Holy Spirit impressed me that I
was surveying my own soul.  Then, for the first time in all my life,
did I know that I was cleansed from all sin, and filled with the
fullness of God."

Leuba quotes the case of a Mr. Peek, where the luminous affection
reminds one of the chromatic hallucinations produced by the intoxicant
cactus buds called mescal by the Mexicans:--

"When I went in the morning into the fields to work, the glory of God
appeared in all his visible creation.  I well remember we reaped oats,
and how every straw and head of the oats seemed, as it were, arrayed in
a kind of rainbow glory, or to glow, if I may so express it, in the
glory of God."[140]

[140] These reports of sensorial photism shade off into what are
evidently only metaphorical accounts of the sense of new spiritual
illumination, as, for instance, in Brainerd's statement:  "As I was
walking in a thick grove, unspeakable glory seemed to open to the
apprehension of my soul.  I do not mean any external brightness, for I
saw no such thing, nor any imagination of a body of light in the third
heavens, or anything of that nature, but it was a new inward
apprehension or view that I had of God."

In a case like this next one from Starbuck's manuscript collection the
lighting up of the darkness is probably also metaphorical:--

"One Sunday night, I resolved that when I got home to the ranch where I
was working, I would offer myself with my faculties and all to God to
be used only by and for him....  It was raining and the roads were
muddy; but this desire grew so strong that I kneeled down by the side
of the road and told God all about it, intending then to get up and go
on.  Such a thing as any special answer to my prayer never entered my
mind, having been converted by faith, but still being most undoubtedly
saved.  Well, while I was praying, I remember holding out my hands to
God and telling him they should work for him, my feet walk for him, my
tongue speak for him, etc., etc., if he would only use me as his
instrument and give me a satisfying experience--when suddenly the
darkness of the night seemed lit up--I felt, realized, knew, that God
heard and answered my prayer. Deep happiness came over me; I felt I was
accepted into the inner circle of God's loved ones."

In the following case also the flash of light is metaphorical:--

"A prayer meeting had been called for at close of evening service. The
minister supposed me impressed by his discourse (a mistake--he was
dull).  He came and, placing his hand upon my shoulder, said:  'Do you
not want to give your heart to God?'  I replied in the affirmative.
Then said he, 'Come to the front seat.'  They sang and prayed and
talked with me.  I experienced nothing but unaccountable wretchedness.
They declared that the reason why I did not 'obtain peace' was because
I was not willing to give up all to God.  After about two hours the
minister said we would go home.  As usual, on retiring, I prayed.  In
great distress, I at this time simply said, 'Lord, I have done all I
can, I leave the whole matter with thee.'  Immediately, like a flash of
light, there came to me a great peace, and I arose and went into my
parents' bedroom and said, 'I do feel so wonderfully happy.'  This I
regard as the hour of conversion.  It was the hour in which I became
assured of divine acceptance and favor.  So far as my life was
concerned, it made little immediate change."

The most characteristic of all the elements of the conversion crisis,
and the last one of which I shall speak, is the ecstasy of happiness
produced.  We have already heard several accounts of it, but I will add
a couple more.  President Finney's is so vivid that I give it at

"All my feelings seemed to rise and flow out; and the utterance of my
heart was, 'I want to pour my whole soul out to God.' The rising of my
soul was so great that I rushed into the back room of the front office,
to pray.  There was no fire and no light in the room; nevertheless it
appeared to me as if it were perfectly light.  As I went in and shut
the door after me, it seemed as if I met the Lord Jesus Christ face to
face.  It did not occur to me then, nor did it for some time
afterwards, that it was wholly a mental state.  On the contrary, it
seemed to me that I saw him as I would see any other man.  He said
nothing but looked at me in such a manner as to break me right down at
his feet.  I have always since regarded this as a most remarkable state
of mind; for it seemed to me a reality that he stood before me, and I
fell down at his feet and poured out my soul to him.  I wept aloud like
a child, and made such confessions as I could with my choked utterance.
It seemed to me that I bathed his feet with my tears; and yet I had no
distinct impression that I touched him, that I recollect.  I must have
continued in this state for a good while, but my mind was too absorbed
with the interview to recollect anything that I said.  But I know, as
soon as my mind became calm enough to break off from the interview, I
returned to the front office, and found that the fire that I had made
of large wood was nearly burned out.  But as I turned and was about to
take a seat by the fire, I received a mighty baptism of the Holy Ghost.
Without any expectation of it, without ever having the thought in my
mind that there was any such thing for me, without any recollection
that I had ever heard the thing mentioned by any person in the world,
the Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through
me, body and soul.  I could feel the impression, like a wave of
electricity, going through and through me.  Indeed, it seemed to come
in waves and waves of liquid love; for I could not express it in any
other way.  It seemed like the very breath of God.  I can recollect
distinctly that it seemed to fan me, like immense wings.

"No words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my
heart.  I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should
say I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart.
These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after the
other, until I recollect I cried out, 'I shall die if these waves
continue to pass over me.'  I said, 'Lord, I cannot bear any more;' yet
I had no fear of death.

"How long I continued in this state, with this baptism continuing to
roll over me and go through me, I do not know.  But I know it was late
in the evening when a member of my choir --for I was the leader of the
choir--came into the office to see me.  He was a member of the church.
He found me in this state of loud weeping, and said to me, 'Mr. Finney,
what ails you?'  I could make him no answer for some time.  He then
said, 'Are you in pain?' I gathered myself up as best I could, and
replied, 'No, but so happy that I cannot live.'"

I just now quoted Billy Bray; I cannot do better than give his own
brief account of his post-conversion feelings:--

"I can't help praising the Lord.  As I go along the street, I lift up
one foot, and it seems to say 'Glory'; and I lift up the other, and it
seems to say 'Amen'; and so they keep up like that all the time I am

[141] I add in a note a few more records:--

"One morning, being in deep distress, fearing every moment I should
drop into hell, I was constrained to cry in earnest for mercy, and the
Lord came to my relief, and delivered my soul from the burden and guilt
of sin.  My whole frame was in a tremor from head to foot, and my soul
enjoyed sweet peace.  The pleasure I then felt was indescribable.  The
happiness lasted about three days, during which time I never spoke to
any person about my feelings."  Autobiography of Dan Young, edited by
W. P.  Strickland, New York, 1860.

"In an instant there rose up in me such a sense of God's taking care of
those who put their trust in him that for an hour all the world was
crystalline, the heavens were lucid, and I sprang to my feet and began
to cry and laugh."  H. W. Beecher, quoted by Leuba.

"My tears of sorrow changed to joy, and I lay there praising God in
such ecstasy of joy as only the soul who experiences it can realize."
--"I cannot express how I felt.  It was as if I had been in a dark
dungeon and lifted into the light of the sun.  I shouted and I sang
praise unto him who loved me and washed me from my sins.  I was forced
to retire into a secret place, for the tears did flow, and I did not
wish my shopmates to see me, and yet I could not keep it a secret."--"I
experienced joy almost to weeping."--"I felt my face must have shone
like that of Moses.

I had a general feeling of buoyancy.  It was the greatest joy it was
ever my lot to experience."--"I wept and laughed alternately.

I was as light as if walking on air.  I felt as if I had gained greater
peace and happiness than I had ever expected to experience." Starbuck's

One word, before I close this lecture, on the question of the
transiency or permanence of these abrupt conversions. Some of you, I
feel sure, knowing that numerous backslidings and relapses take place,
make of these their apperceiving mass for interpreting the whole
subject, and dismiss it with a pitying smile at so much "hysterics."
Psychologically, as well as religiously, however, this is shallow.  It
misses the point of serious interest, which is not so much the duration
as the nature and quality of these shiftings of character to higher
levels.  Men lapse from every level--we need no statistics to tell us
that.  Love is, for instance, well known not to be irrevocable, yet,
constant or inconstant, it reveals new flights and reaches of ideality
while it lasts.  These revelations form its significance to men and
women, whatever be its duration.  So with the conversion experience:
that it should for even a short time show a human being what the high-
water mark of his spiritual capacity is, this is what constitutes its
importance--an importance which backsliding cannot diminish, although
persistence might increase it.  As a matter of fact, all the more
striking instances of conversion, all those, for instance, which I have
quoted, HAVE been permanent.  The case of which there might be most
doubt, on account of its suggesting so strongly an epileptoid seizure,
was the case of M. Ratisbonne.  Yet I am informed that Ratisbonne's
whole future was shaped by those few minutes. He gave up his project of
marriage, became a priest, founded at Jerusalem, where he went to
dwell, a mission of nuns for the conversion of the Jews, showed no
tendency to use for egotistic purposes the notoriety given him by the
peculiar circumstances of his conversion--which, for the rest, he could
seldom refer to without tears--and in short remained an exemplary son
of the Church until he died, late in the 80's, if I remember rightly.

The only statistics I know of, on the subject of the duration of
conversions, are those collected for Professor Starbuck by Miss
Johnston.  They embrace only a hundred persons, evangelical
church-members, more than half being Methodists.  According to the
statement of the subjects themselves, there had been backsliding of
some sort in nearly all the cases, 93 per cent. of the women, 77 per
cent. of the men.  Discussing the returns more minutely, Starbuck finds
that only 6 per cent. are relapses from the religious faith which the
conversion confirmed, and that the backsliding complained of is in most
only a fluctuation in the ardor of sentiment.  Only six of the hundred
cases report a change of faith.  Starbuck's conclusion is that the
effect of conversion is to bring with it "a changed attitude towards
life, which is fairly constant and permanent, although the feelings
fluctuate.... In other words, the persons who have passed through
conversion, having once taken a stand for the religious life, tend to
feel themselves identified with it, no matter how much their religious
enthusiasm declines."[142]

[142] Psychology of Religion, pp. 360, 357.

Lectures XI, XII, and XIII


The last lecture left us in a state of expectancy.  What may the
practical fruits for life have been, of such movingly happy conversions
as those we heard of?  With this question the really important part of
our task opens, for you remember that we began all this empirical
inquiry not merely to open a curious chapter in the natural history of
human consciousness, but rather to attain a spiritual judgment as to
the total value and positive meaning of all the religious trouble and
happiness which we have seen.  We must, therefore, first describe the
fruits of the religious life, and then we must judge them.  This
divides our inquiry into two distinct parts.  Let us without further
preamble proceed to the descriptive task.

It ought to be the pleasantest portion of our business in these
lectures.  Some small pieces of it, it is true, may be painful, or may
show human nature in a pathetic light, but it will be mainly pleasant,
because the best fruits of religious experience are the best things
that history has to show.  They have always been esteemed so; here if
anywhere is the genuinely strenuous life; and to call to mind a
succession of such examples as I have lately had to wander through,
though it has been only in the reading of them, is to feel encouraged
and uplifted and washed in better moral air.

The highest flights of charity, devotion, trust, patience, bravery to
which the wings of human nature have spread themselves have been flown
for religious ideals.  I can do no better than quote, as to this, some
remarks which Sainte-Beuve in his History of Port-Royal makes on the
results of conversion or the state of grace.

"Even from the purely human point of view," Sainte-Beuve says, "the
phenomenon of grace must still appear sufficiently extraordinary,
eminent, and rare, both in its nature and in its effects, to deserve a
closer study.  For the soul arrives thereby at a certain fixed and
invincible state, a state which is genuinely heroic, and from out of
which the greatest deeds which it ever performs are executed.  Through
all the different forms of communion, and all the diversity of the
means which help to produce this state, whether it be reached by a
jubilee, by a general confession, by a solitary prayer and effusion,
whatever in short to be the place and the occasion, it is easy to
recognize that it is fundamentally one state in spirit and fruits.
Penetrate a little beneath the diversity of circumstances, and it
becomes evident that in Christians of different epochs it is always one
and the same modification by which they are affected:  there is
veritably a single fundamental and identical spirit of piety and
charity, common to those who have received grace; an inner state which
before all things is one of love and humility, of infinite confidence
in God, and of severity for one's self, accompanied with tenderness for
others.  The fruits peculiar to this condition of the soul have the
same savor in all, under distant suns and in different surroundings, in
Saint Teresa of Avila just as in any Moravian brother of Herrnhut."[143]

[143] Sainte-Beuve:  Port-Royal, vol. i. pp. 95 and 106, abridged.

Sainte-Beuve has here only the more eminent instances of regeneration
in mind, and these are of course the instructive ones for us also to
consider.  These devotees have often laid their course so differently
from other men that, judging them by worldly law, we might be tempted
to call them monstrous aberrations from the path of nature.  I begin
therefore by asking a general psychological question as to what the
inner conditions are which may make one human character differ so
extremely from another.

I reply at once that where the character, as something distinguished
from the intellect, is concerned, the causes of human diversity lie
chiefly in our differing susceptibilities of emotional excitement, and
in the different impulses and inhibitions which these bring in their
train.  Let me make this more clear.

Speaking generally, our moral and practical attitude, at any given
time, is always a resultant of two sets of forces within us, impulses
pushing us one way and obstructions and inhibitions holding us back.
"Yes! yes!" say the impulses; "No! no!" say the inhibitions.  Few
people who have not expressly reflected on the matter realize how
constantly this factor of inhibition is upon us, how it contains and
moulds us by its restrictive pressure almost as if we were fluids pent
within the cavity of a jar.  The influence is so incessant that it
becomes subconscious.  All of you, for example, sit here with a certain
constraint at this moment, and entirely without express consciousness
of the fact, because of the influence of the occasion.  If left alone
in the room, each of you would probably involuntarily rearrange
himself, and make his attitude more "free and easy."  But proprieties
and their inhibitions snap like cobwebs if any great emotional
excitement supervenes.  I have seen a dandy appear in the street with
his face covered with shaving-lather because a house across the way was
on fire; and a woman will run among strangers in her nightgown if it be
a question of saving her baby's life or her own.  Take a self-indulgent
woman's life in general.  She will yield to every inhibition set by her
disagreeable sensations, lie late in bed, live upon tea or bromides,
keep indoors from the cold.  Every difficulty finds her obedient to its
"no."  But make a mother of her, and what have you?  Possessed by
maternal excitement, she now confronts wakefulness, weariness, and toil
without an instant of hesitation or a word of complaint. The inhibitive
power of pain over her is extinguished wherever the baby's interests
are at stake.  The inconveniences which this creature occasions have
become, as James Hinton says, the glowing heart of a great joy, and
indeed are now the very conditions whereby the joy becomes most deep.

This is an example of what you have already heard of as the "expulsive
power of a higher affection."  But be the affection high or low, it
makes no difference, so long as the excitement it brings be strong
enough.  In one of Henry Drummond's discourses he tells of an
inundation in India where an eminence with a bungalow upon it remained
unsubmerged, and became the refuge of a number of wild animals and
reptiles in addition to the human beings who were there.  At a certain
moment a royal Bengal tiger appeared swimming towards it, reached it,
and lay panting like a dog upon the ground in the midst of the people,
still possessed by such an agony of terror that one of the Englishmen
could calmly step up with a rifle and blow out its brains.  The tiger's
habitual ferocity was temporarily quelled by the emotion of fear, which
became sovereign, and formed a new centre for his character.

Sometimes no emotional state is sovereign, but many contrary ones are
mixed together.  In that case one hears both "yeses" and "noes," and
the "will" is called on then to solve the conflict.  Take a soldier,
for example, with his dread of cowardice impelling him to advance, his
fears impelling him to run, and his propensities to imitation pushing
him towards various courses if his comrades offer various examples.
His person becomes the seat of a mass of interferences; and he may for
a time simply waver, because no one emotion prevails.  There is a pitch
of intensity, though, which, if any emotion reach it, enthrones that
one as alone effective and sweeps its antagonists and all their
inhibitions away.  The fury of his comrades' charge, once entered on,
will give this pitch of courage to the soldier; the panic of their rout
will give this pitch of fear.  In these sovereign excitements, things
ordinarily impossible grow natural because the inhibitions are
annulled.  Their "no! no!" not only is not heard, it does not exist.
Obstacles are then like tissue-paper hoops to the circus rider--no
impediment; the flood is higher than the dam they make.

"Lass sie betteln gehn wenn sie hungrig sind!" cries the grenadier,
frantic over his Emperor's capture, when his wife and babes are
suggested; and men pent into a burning theatre have been known to cut
their way through the crowd with knives.[144]

[144] "'Love would not be love,' says Bourget, 'unless it could carry
one to crime.'  And so one may say that no passion would be a veritable
passion unless it could carry one to crime." (Sighele:  Psychollogie
des sectes, p. 136.) In other words, great passions annul the ordinary
inhibitions set by "conscience."  And conversely, of all the criminal
human beings, the false, cowardly, sensual, or cruel persons who
actually live, there is perhaps not one whose criminal impulse may not
be at some moment overpowered by the presence of some other emotion to
which his character is also potentially liable, provided that other
emotion be only made intense enough.  Fear is usually the most
available emotion for this result in this particular class of persons.
It stands for conscience, and may here be classed appropriately as a
"higher affection."  If we are soon to die, or if we believe a day of
judgment to be near at hand, how quickly do we put our moral house in
order--we do not see how sin can evermore exert temptation over us!
Old-fashioned hell-fire Christianity well knew how to extract from fear
its full equivalent in the way of fruits for repentance, and its full
conversion value.

One mode of emotional excitability is exceedingly important in the
composition of the energetic character, from its peculiarly destructive
power over inhibitions.  I mean what in its lower form is mere
irascibility, susceptibility to wrath, the fighting temper; and what in
subtler ways manifests itself as impatience, grimness, earnestness,
severity of character. Earnestness means willingness to live with
energy, though energy bring pain.  The pain may be pain to other people
or pain to one's self--it makes little difference; for when the
strenuous mood is on one, the aim is to break something, no matter
whose or what.  Nothing annihilates an inhibition as irresistibly as
anger does it; for, as Moltke says of war, destruction pure and simple
is its essence.  This is what makes it so invaluable an ally of every
other passion.  The sweetest delights are trampled on with a ferocious
pleasure the moment they offer themselves as checks to a cause by which
our higher indignations are elicited.  It costs then nothing to drop
friendships, to renounce long-rooted privileges and possessions, to
break with social ties.  Rather do we take a stern joy in the
astringency and desolation; and what is called weakness of character
seems in most cases to consist in the inaptitude for these sacrificial
moods, of which one's own inferior self and its pet softnesses must
often be the targets and the victims.[145]

[145] Example:  Benjamin Constant was often marveled at as an
extraordinary instance of superior intelligence with inferior
character.  He writes (Journal, Paris, 1895, p. 56), "I am tossed and
dragged about by my miserable weakness.  Never was anything so
ridiculous as my indecision.  Now marriage, now solitude; now Germany,
now France hesitation upon hesitation, and all because at bottom I am
UNABLE TO GIVE UP ANYTHING."  He can't "get mad" at any of his
alternatives; and the career of a man beset by such an all-round
amiability is hopeless.

So far I have spoken of temporary alterations produced by shifting
excitements in the same person.  But the relatively fixed differences
of character of different persons are explained in a precisely similar
way.  In a man with a liability to a special sort of emotion, whole
ranges of inhibition habitually vanish, which in other men remain
effective, and other sorts of inhibition take their place.  When a
person has an inborn genius for certain emotions, his life differs
strangely from that of ordinary people, for none of their usual
deterrents check him.  Your mere aspirant to a type of character, on
the contrary, only shows, when your natural lover, fighter, or
reformer, with whom the passion is a gift of nature, comes along, the
hopeless inferiority of voluntary to instinctive action.  He has
deliberately to overcome his inhibitions; the genius with the inborn
passion seems not to feel them at all; he is free of all that inner
friction and nervous waste.  To a Fox, a Garibaldi, a General Booth, a
John Brown, a Louise Michel, a Bradlaugh, the obstacles omnipotent over
those around them are as if non-existent.  Should the rest of us so
disregard them, there might be many such heroes, for many have the wish
to live for similar ideals, and only the adequate degree of
inhibition-quenching fury is lacking.[146]

[146] The great thing which the higher excitabilities give is COURAGE;
and the addition or subtraction of a certain amount of this quality
makes a different man, a different life.  Various excitements let the
courage loose.  Trustful hope will do it; inspiring example will do it;
love will do it, wrath will do it.  In some people it is natively so
high that the mere touch of danger does it, though danger is for most
men the great inhibitor of action.  "Love of adventure" becomes in such
persons a ruling passion.  "I believe," says General Skobeleff, "that
my bravery is simply the passion and at the same time the contempt of
danger.  The risk of life fills me with an exaggerated rapture.  The
fewer there are to share it, the more I like it.  The participation of
my body in the event is required to furnish me an adequate excitement.
Everything intellectual appears to me to be reflex; but a meeting of
man to man, a duel, a danger into which I can throw myself
headforemost, attracts me, moves me, intoxicates me.  I am crazy for
it, I love it, I adore it.  I run after danger as one runs after women;
I wish it never to stop.  Were it always the same, it would always
bring me a new pleasure.

When I throw myself into an adventure in which I hope to find it, my
heart palpitates with the uncertainty; I could wish at once to have it
appear and yet to delay.  A sort of painful and delicious shiver shakes
me; my entire nature runs to meet the peril with an impetus that my
will would in vain try to resist. (Juliette Adam: Le General Skobeleff,
Nouvelle Revue, 1886, abridged.) Skobeleff seems to have been a cruel
egoist; but the disinterested Garibaldi, if one may judge by his
"Memorie," lived in an unflagging emotion of similar danger-seeking

The difference between willing and merely wishing, between having
ideals that are creative and ideals that are but pinings and regrets,
thus depends solely either on the amount of steam-pressure chronically
driving the character in the ideal direction, or on the amount of ideal
excitement transiently acquired.  Given a certain amount of love,
indignation, generosity, magnanimity, admiration, loyalty, or
enthusiasm of self-surrender, the result is always the same.  That
whole raft of cowardly obstructions, which in tame persons and dull
moods are sovereign impediments to action, sinks away at once.  Our
conventionality,[147] our shyness, laziness, and stinginess, our
demands for precedent and permission, for guarantee and surety, our
small suspicions, timidities, despairs, where are they now?  Severed
like cobwebs, broken like bubbles in the sun--

     "Wo sind die Sorge nun und Noth
      Die mich noch gestern wollt' erschlaffen?
      Ich scham' mich dess' im Morgenroth."

The flood we are borne on rolls them so lightly under that their very
contact is unfelt.  Set free of them, we float and soar and sing.  This
auroral openness and uplift gives to all creative ideal levels a bright
and caroling quality, which is nowhere more marked than where the
controlling emotion is religious.  "The true monk," writes an Italian
mystic, "takes nothing with him but his lyre."

[147] See the case on p. 69, above, where the writer describes his
experiences of communion with the Divine as consisting "merely in the

We may now turn from these psychological generalities to those fruits
of the religious state which form the special subject of our present
lecture.  The man who lives in his religious centre of personal energy,
and is actuated by spiritual enthusiasms, differs from his previous
carnal self in perfectly definite ways.

The new ardor which burns in his breast consumes in its glow the lower
"noes" which formerly beset him, and keeps him immune against infection
from the entire groveling portion of his nature.  Magnanimities once
impossible are now easy; paltry conventionalities and mean incentives
once tyrannical hold no sway.  The stone wall inside of him has fallen,
the hardness in his heart has broken down.  The rest of us can, I
think, imagine this by recalling our state of feeling in those
temporary "melting moods" into which either the trials of real life, or
the theatre, or a novel sometimes throws us.  Especially if we weep!
For it is then as if our tears broke through an inveterate inner dam,
and let all sorts of ancient peccancies and moral stagnancies drain
away, leaving us now washed and soft of heart and open to every nobler
leading.  With most of us the customary hardness quickly returns, but
not so with saintly persons.  Many saints, even as energetic ones as
Teresa and Loyola, have possessed what the church traditionally reveres
as a special grace, the so-called gift of tears.  In these persons the
melting mood seems to have held almost uninterrupted control.  And as
it is with tears and melting moods, so it is with other exalted
affections.  Their reign may come by gradual growth or by a crisis; but
in either case it may have "come to stay."

At the end of the last lecture we saw this permanence to be true of the
general paramountcy of the higher insight, even though in the ebbs of
emotional excitement meaner motives might temporarily prevail and
backsliding might occur.  But that lower temptations may remain
completely annulled, apart from transient emotion and as if by
alteration of the man's habitual nature, is also proved by documentary
evidence in certain cases.  Before embarking on the general natural
history of the regenerate character, let me convince you of this
curious fact by one or two examples. The most numerous are those of
reformed drunkards.  You recollect the case of Mr. Hadley in the last
lecture; the Jerry McAuley Water Street Mission abounds in similar
instances.[148]  You also remember the graduate of Oxford, converted at
three in the afternoon, and getting drunk in the hay-field the next
day, but after that permanently cured of his appetite.  "From that hour
drink has had no terrors for me:  I never touch it, never want it.  The
same thing occurred with my pipe.... the desire for it went at once and
has never returned.  So with every known sin, the deliverance in each
case being permanent and complete.  I have had no temptations since

[148] Above, p. 200.  "The only radical remedy I know for dipsomania is
religiomania," is a saying I have heard quoted from some medical man.

Here is an analogous case from Starbuck's manuscript collection:--

"I went into the old Adelphi Theatre, where there was a Holiness
meeting, ... and I began saying, 'Lord, Lord, I must have this
blessing.'  Then what was to me an audible voice said:  'Are you
willing to give up everything to the Lord?' and question after question
kept coming up, to all of which I said:  'Yes, Lord; yes, Lord!' until
this came:  'Why do you not accept it NOW?' and I said:  'I do,
Lord.'--I felt no particular joy, only a trust.  Just then the meeting
closed, and, as I went out on the street, I met a gentleman smoking a
fine cigar, and a cloud of smoke came into my face, and I took a long,
deep breath of it, and praise the Lord, all my appetite for it was
gone.  Then as I walked along the street, passing saloons where the
fumes of liquor came out, I found that all my taste and longing for
that accursed stuff was gone.  Glory to God! ... [But] for ten or
eleven long years [after that] I was in the wilderness with its ups and
downs.  My appetite for liquor never came back."

The classic case of Colonel Gardiner is that of a man cured of sexual
temptation in a single hour.  To Mr. Spears the colonel said, "I was
effectually cured of all inclination to that sin I was so strongly
addicted to that I thought nothing but shooting me through the head
could have cured me of it; and all desire and inclination to it was
removed, as entirely as if I had been a sucking child; nor did the
temptation return to this day."  Mr. Webster's words on the same
subject are these:  "One thing I have heard the colonel frequently say,
that he was much addicted to impurity before his acquaintance with
religion; but that, so soon as he was enlightened from above, he felt
the power of the Holy Ghost changing his nature so wonderfully that his
sanctification in this respect seemed more remarkable than in any

[149] Doddridge's Life of Colonel James Gardiner, London Religious
Tract Society, pp. 23-32.

Such rapid abolition of ancient impulses and propensities reminds us so
strongly of what has been observed as the result of hypnotic suggestion
that it is difficult not to believe that subliminal influences play the
decisive part in these abrupt changes of heart, just as they do in
hypnotism.[150] Suggestive therapeutics abound in records of cure,
after a few sittings, of inveterate bad habits with which the patient,
left to ordinary moral and physical influences, had struggled in vain.
Both drunkenness and sexual vice have been cured in this way, action
through the subliminal seeming thus in many individuals to have the
prerogative of inducing relatively stable change.  If the grace of God
miraculously operates, it probably operates through the subliminal
door, then.  But just HOW anything operates in this region is still
unexplained, and we shall do well now to say good-by to the PROCESS of
transformation altogether--leaving it, if you like, a good deal of a
psychological or theological mystery--and to turn our attention to the
fruits of the religious condition, no matter in what way they may have
been produced.[151]

[150] Here, for example, is a case, from Starbuck's book, in which a
"sensory automatism" brought about quickly what prayers and resolves
had been unable to effect.  The subject is a woman.  She writes:--

"When I was about forty I tried to quit smoking, but the desire was on
me, and had me in its power.  I cried and prayed and promised God to
quit, but could not.  I had smoked for fifteen years.  When I was
fifty-three, as I sat by the fire one day smoking, a voice came to me.
I did not hear it with my ears, but more as a dream or sort of double
think.  It said, 'Louisa, lay down smoking.'  At once I replied. 'Will
you take the desire away?' But it only kept saying:  'Louisa, lay down
smoking.' Then I got up, laid my pipe on the mantel-shelf, and never
smoked again or had any desire to.  The desire was gone as though I had
never known it or touched tobacco.  The sight of others smoking and the
smell of smoke never gave me the least wish to touch it again."    The
Psychology of Religion, p. 142.

[151] Professor Starbuck expresses the radical destruction of old
influences physiologically, as a cutting off of the connection between
higher and lower cerebral centres.  "This condition," he says, "in
which the association-centres connected with the spiritual life are cut
off from the lower, is often reflected in the way correspondents
describe their experiences....  For example:  'Temptations from without
still assail me, but there is nothing WITHIN to respond to them.' The
ego [here] is wholly identified with the higher centres whose quality
of feeling is that of withinness.  Another of the respondents says:
'Since then, although Satan tempts me, there is as it were a wall of
brass around me, so that his darts cannot touch me.'" --Unquestionably,
functional exclusions of this sort must occur in the cerebral organ.
But on the side accessible to introspection, their causal condition is
nothing but the degree of spiritual excitement, getting at last so high
and strong as to be sovereign, and it must be frankly confessed that we
do not know just why or how such sovereignty comes about in one person
and not in another.  We can only give our imagination a certain
delusive help by mechanical analogies.

If we should conceive, for example, that the human mind, with its
different possibilities of equilibrium, might be like a many-sided
solid with different surfaces on which it could lie flat, we might
liken mental revolutions to the spatial revolutions of such a body.  As
it is pried up, say by a lever, from a position in which it lies on
surface A, for instance, it will linger for a time unstably halfway up,
and if the lever cease to urge it, it will tumble back or "relapse"
under the continued pull of gravity.  But if at last it rotate far
enough for its centre of gravity to pass beyond surface A altogether,
the body will fall over, on surface B, say, and abide there
permanently.  The pulls of gravity towards A have vanished, and may now
be disregarded. The polyhedron has become immune against farther
attraction from their direction.

In this figure of speech the lever may correspond to the emotional
influences making for a new life, and the initial pull of gravity to
the ancient drawbacks and inhibitions.  So long as the emotional
influence fails to reach a certain pitch of efficacy, the changes it
produces are unstable, and the man relapses into his original attitude.
But when a certain intensity is attained by the new emotion, a critical
point is passed, and there then ensues an irreversible revolution,
equivalent to the production of a new nature.

The collective name for the ripe fruits of religion in a character is
Saintliness.[152] The saintly character is the character for which
spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personal energy; and
there is a certain composite photograph of universal saintliness, the
same in all religions, of which the features can easily be traced.[153]

[152] I use this word in spite of a certain flavor of
"sanctimoniousness" which sometimes clings to it, because no other word
suggests as well the exact combination of affections which the text
goes on to describe.

[153] "It will be found," says Dr. W. R. Inge (in his lectures on
Christian Mysticism, London, 1899, p. 326), "that men of preeminent
saintliness agree very closely in what they tell us.  They tell us that
they have arrived at an unshakable conviction, not based on inference
but on immediate experience, that God is a spirit with whom the human
spirit can hold intercourse; that in him meet all that they can imagine
of goodness, truth, and beauty; that they can see his footprints
everywhere in nature, and feel his presence within them as the very
life of their life, so that in proportion as they come to themselves
they come to him.  They tell us what separates us from him and from
happiness is, first, self-seeking in all its forms; and secondly,
sensuality in all its forms; that these are the ways of darkness and
death, which hide from us the face of God; while the path of the just
is like a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect

They are these:--

1.  A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world's
selfish little interests; and a conviction, not merely intellectual,
but as it were sensible, of the existence of an Ideal Power.  In
Christian saintliness this power is always personified as God; but
abstract moral ideals, civic or patriotic utopias, or inner versions of
holiness or right may also be felt as the true lords and enlargers of
our life, in ways which I described in the lecture on the Reality of
the Unseen.[154]

[154] The "enthusiasm of humanity" may lead to a life which coalesces
in many respects with that of Christian saintliness.  Take the
following rules proposed to members of the Union pour l'Action morale,
in the Bulletin de l'Union, April 1-15, 1894.  See, also, Revue Bleue,
August 13, 1892.

"We would make known in our own persons the usefulness of rule, of
discipline, of resignation and renunciation; we would teach the
necessary perpetuity of suffering, and explain the creative part which
it plays.  We would wage war upon false optimism; on the base hope of
happiness coming to us ready made; on the notion of a salvation by
knowledge alone, or by material civilization alone, vain symbol as this
is of civilization, precarious external arrangement ill-fitted to
replace the intimate union and consent of souls.  We would wage war
also on bad morals, whether in public or in private life; on luxury,
fastidiousness, and over-refinement, on all that tends to increase the
painful, immoral, and anti-social multiplications of our wants; on all
that excites envy and dislike in the soul of the common people, and
confirms the notion that the chief end of life is freedom to enjoy.  We
would preach by our example the respect of superiors and equals, the
respect of all men; affectionate simplicity in our relations with
inferiors and insignificant persons; indulgence where our own claims
only are concerned, but firmness in our demands where they relate to
duties towards others or towards the public.

"For the common people are what we help them to become; their vices are
our vices, gazed upon, envied, and imitated; and if they come back with
all their weight upon us, it is but just.

2.  A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our own
life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.

3.  An immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the confining
selfhood melt down.

4.  A shifting of the emotional centre towards loving and harmonious
affections, towards "yes, yes," and away from "no," where the claims of
the non-ego are concerned. These fundamental inner conditions have
characteristic practical consequences, as follows:--

a.  Asceticism.--The self-surrender may become so passionate as to turn
into self-immolation.  It may then so over-rule the ordinary
inhibitions of the flesh that the saint finds positive pleasure in
sacrifice and asceticism, measuring and expressing as they do the
degree of his loyalty to the higher power.

b.  Strength of Soul.--The sense of enlargement of life may be so
uplifting that personal motives and inhibitions, commonly omnipotent,
become too insignificant for notice, and new reaches of patience and
fortitude open out.  Fears and anxieties go, and blissful equanimity
takes their place. Come heaven, come hell, it makes no difference now!

"We forbid ourselves all seeking after popularity, all ambition to
appear important.  We pledge ourselves to abstain from falsehood, in
all its degrees.  We promise not to create or encourage illusions as to
what is possible, by what we say or write. We promise to one another
active sincerity, which strives to see truth clearly, and which never
fears to declare what it sees.

"We promise deliberate resistance to the tidal waves of fashion, to the
'booms' and panics of the public mind, to all the forms of weakness and
of fear.

"We forbid ourselves the use of sarcasm.  Of serious things we will
speak seriously and unsmilingly, without banter and without the
appearance of banter;--and even so of all things, for there are serious
ways of being light of heart.

"We will put ourselves forward always for what we are, simply and
without false humility, as well as without pedantry, affectation, or

c.  Purity.--The shifting of the emotional centre brings with it,
first, increase of purity.  The sensitiveness to spiritual discords is
enhanced, and the cleansing of existence from brutal and sensual
elements becomes imperative.  Occasions of contact with such elements
are avoided:  the saintly life must deepen its spiritual consistency
and keep unspotted from the world.  In some temperaments this need of
purity of spirit takes an ascetic turn, and weaknesses of the flesh are
treated with relentless severity.

d.  Charity.--The shifting of the emotional centre brings, secondly,
increase of charity, tenderness for fellow-creatures.  The ordinary
motives to antipathy, which usually set such close bounds to tenderness
among human beings, are inhibited. The saint loves his enemies, and
treats loathsome beggars as his brothers.

I now have to give some concrete illustrations of these fruits of the
spiritual tree.  The only difficulty is to choose, for they are so

Since the sense of Presence of a higher and friendly power seems to be
the fundamental feature in the spiritual life, I will begin with that.

In our narratives of conversion we saw how the world might look shining
and transfigured to the convert,[155] and, apart from anything acutely
religious, we all have moments when the universal life seems to wrap us
round with friendliness. In youth and health, in summer, in the woods
or on the mountains, there come days when the weather seems all
whispering with peace, hours when the goodness and beauty of existence
enfold us like a dry warm climate, or chime through us as if our inner
ears were subtly ringing with the world's security.  Thoreau writes:--

[155] Above, pp. 243 ff.

"Once, a few weeks after I came to the woods, for an hour I doubted
whether the near neighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and
healthy life.  To be alone was somewhat unpleasant.  But, in the midst
of a gentle rain, while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly
sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very
pattering of the drops, and in {270} every sight and sound around my
house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once, like an
atmosphere, sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human
neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since.
Every little pine-needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and
befriended me.  I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of
something kindred to me, that I thought no place could ever be strange
to me again."[156]

[156] H. Thoreau:  Walden, Riverside edition, p. 206, abridged.

In the Christian consciousness this sense of the enveloping
friendliness becomes most personal and definite.  "The compensation,"
writes a German author,--"for the loss of that sense of personal
independence which man so unwillingly gives up, is the disappearance of
all FEAR from one's life, the quite indescribable and inexplicable
feeling of an inner SECURITY, which one can only experience, but which,
once it has been experienced, one can never forget."[157]

[157] C. H. Hilty:  Gluck, vol. i. p. 85.

I find an excellent description of this state of mind in a sermon by
Mr. Voysey:--

"It is the experience of myriads of trustful souls, that this sense of
God's unfailing presence with them in their going out and in their
coming in, and by night and day, is a source of absolute repose and
confident calmness.  It drives away all fear of what may befall them.
That nearness of God is a constant security against terror and anxiety.
It is not that they are at all assured of physical safety, or deem
themselves protected by a love which is denied to others, but that they
are in a state of mind equally ready to be safe or to meet with injury.
If injury befall them, they will be content to bear it because the Lord
is their keeper, and nothing can befall them without his will.  If it
be his will, then injury is for them a blessing and no calamity at all.
Thus and thus only is the trustful man protected and shielded from
harm.  And I for one--by no means a thick-skinned or hard-nerved man-am
absolutely satisfied with this arrangement, and do not wish for any
other kind of immunity from danger and catastrophe.  Quite as sensitive
to pain as the most highly strung organism, I yet feel that the worst
of it is conquered, and the sting taken out of it altogether, by the
thought that God is our loving and sleepless keeper, and that nothing
can hurt us without his will."[158]

[158] The Mystery of Pain and Death, London, 1892, p. 258.

More excited expressions of this condition are abundant in religious
literature.  I could easily weary you with their monotony. Here is an
account from Mrs. Jonathan Edwards:--

"Last night," Mrs. Edwards writes, "was the sweetest night I ever had
in my life.  I never before, for so long a time together, enjoyed so
much of the light and rest and sweetness of heaven in my soul, but
without the least agitation of body during the whole time.  Part of the
night I lay awake, sometimes asleep, and sometimes between sleeping and
waking.  But all night I continued in a constant, clear, and lively
sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ's excellent love, of his
nearness to me, and of my dearness to him; with an inexpressibly sweet
calmness of soul in an entire rest in him.  I seemed to myself to
perceive a glow of divine love come down from the heart of Christ in
heaven into my heart in a constant stream, like a stream or pencil of
sweet light.  At the same time my heart and soul all flowed out in love
to Christ, so that there seemed to be a constant flowing and reflowing
of heavenly love, and I appeared to myself to float or swim, in these
bright, sweet beams, like the motes swimming in the beams of the sun,
or the streams of his light which come in at the window.  I think that
what I felt each minute was worth more than all the outward comfort and
pleasure which I had enjoyed in my whole life put together.  It was
pleasure, without the least sting, or any interruption.  It was a
sweetness, which my soul was lost in; it seemed to be all that my
feeble frame could sustain.  There was but little difference, whether I
was asleep or awake, but if there was any difference, the sweetness was
greatest while I was asleep.[159]  As I awoke early the next morning,
it seemed to me that I had entirely done with myself.  I felt that the
opinions of the world concerning me were nothing, and that I had no
more to do with any outward interest of my own than with that of a
person whom I never saw. The glory of God seemed to swallow up every
wish and desire of my heart....  After retiring to rest and sleeping a
little while, I awoke, and was led to reflect on God's mercy to me, in
giving me, for many years, a willingness to die; and after that, in
making me willing to live, that I might do and suffer whatever he
called me to here.  I also thought how God had graciously given me an
entire resignation to his will, with respect to the kind and manner of
death that I should die; having been made willing to die on the rack,
or at the stake, and if it were God's will, to die in darkness.  But
now it occurred to me, I used to think of living no longer than to the
ordinary age of man.  Upon this I was led to ask myself, whether I was
not willing to be kept out of heaven even longer; and my whole heart
seemed immediately to reply: Yes, a thousand years, and a thousand in
horror, if it be most for the honor of God, the torment of my body
being so great, awful, and overwhelming that none could bear to live in
the country where the spectacle was seen, and the torment of my mind
being vastly greater.  And it seemed to me that I found a perfect
willingness, quietness, and alacrity of soul in consenting that it
should be so, if it were most for the glory of God, so that there was
no hesitation, doubt, or darkness in my mind.  The glory of God seemed
to overcome me and swallow me up, and every conceivable suffering, and
everything that was terrible to my nature, seemed to shrink to nothing
before it.  This resignation continued in its clearness and brightness
the rest of the night, and all the next day, and the night following,
and on Monday in the forenoon, without interruption or abatement."[160]

[159] Compare Madame Guyon:  "It was my practice to arise at midnight
for purposes of devotion.... It seemed to me that God came at the
precise time and woke me from sleep in order that I might enjoy him.
When I was out of health or greatly fatigued, he did not awake me, but
at such times I felt, even in my sleep, a singular possession of God.
He loved me so much that he seemed to pervade my being, at a time when
I could be only imperfectly conscious of his presence.  My sleep is
sometimes broken--a sort of half sleep; but my soul seems to be awake
enough to know God, when it is hardly capable of knowing anything
else."  T. C.  Upham:  The Life and Religious Experiences of Madame de
la Mothe Guyon, New York, 1877, vol. i. p. 260.

[160] I have considerably abridged the words of the original, which is
given in Edwards's Narrative of the Revival in New England.

The annals of Catholic saintship abound in records as ecstatic or more
ecstatic than this.  "Often the assaults of the divine love," it is
said of the Sister Seraphique de la Martiniere, "reduced her almost to
the point of death.  She used tenderly to complain of this to God.  'I
cannot support it,' she used to say.

'Bear gently with my weakness, or I shall expire under the violence of
your love.'"[161]

[161] Bougaud:  Hist. de la Bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, 1894, p. 125.

Let me pass next to the Charity and Brotherly Love which are a usual
fruit of saintliness, and have always been reckoned essential
theological virtues, however limited may have been the kinds of service
which the particular theology enjoined.  Brotherly love would follow
logically from the assurance of God's friendly presence, the notion of
our brotherhood as men being an immediate inference from that of God's
fatherhood of us all.  When Christ utters the precepts:  "Love your
enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and
pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you," he gives
for a reason:  "That ye may be the children of your Father which is in
heaven:  for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and
sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust."  One might therefore be
tempted to explain both the humility as to one's self and the charity
towards others which characterize spiritual excitement, as results of
the all-leveling character of theistic belief.  But these affections
are certainly not mere derivatives of theism.  We find them in
Stoicism, in Hinduism, and in Buddhism in the highest possible degree.
They HARMONIZE with paternal theism beautifully; but they harmonize
with all reflection whatever upon the dependence of mankind on general
causes; and we must, I think, consider them not subordinate but
coordinate parts of that great complex excitement in the study of which
we are engaged. Religious rapture, moral enthusiasm, ontological
wonder, cosmic emotion, are all unifying states of mind, in which the
sand and grit of the selfhood incline to disappear, and tenderness to
rule.  The best thing is to describe the condition integrally as a
characteristic affection to which our nature is liable, a region in
which we find ourselves at home, a sea in which we swim; but not to
pretend to explain its parts by deriving them too cleverly from one
another.  Like love or fear, the faith-state is a natural psychic
complex, and carries charity with it by organic consequence.
Jubilation is an expansive affection, and all expansive affections are
self-forgetful and kindly so long as they endure.

We find this the case even when they are pathological in origin.  In
his instructive work, la Tristesse et la Joie,[162] M. Georges Dumas
compares together the melancholy and the joyous phase of circular
insanity, and shows that, while selfishness characterizes the one, the
other is marked by altruistic impulses.  No human being so stingy and
useless as was Marie in her melancholy period!  But the moment the
happy period begins, "sympathy and kindness become her characteristic
sentiments.  She displays a universal goodwill, not only of intention,
but in act....  She becomes solicitous of the health of other patients,
interested in getting them out, desirous to procure wool to knit socks
for some of them. Never since she has been under my observation have I
heard her in her joyous period utter any but charitable opinions."[163]
And later, Dr. Dumas says of all such joyous conditions that "unselfish
sentiments and tender emotions are the only affective states to be
found in them.  The subject's mind is closed against envy, hatred, and
vindictiveness, and wholly transformed into benevolence, indulgence,
and mercy."[164]

[162] Paris, 1900.

[163] Page 130.

[164] Page 167.

There is thus an organic affinity between joyousness and tenderness,
and their companionship in the saintly life need in no way occasion
surprise.  Along with the happiness, this increase of tenderness is
often noted in narratives of conversion. "I began to work for
others";--"I had more tender feeling for my family and friends";--"I
spoke at once to a person with whom I had been angry";--"I felt for
every one, and loved my friends better";--"I felt every one to be my
friend";--these are so many expressions from the records collected by
Professor Starbuck.[165]

[165] Op. cit., p. 127.

"When," says Mrs. Edwards, continuing the narrative from which I made
quotation a moment ago, "I arose on the morning of the Sabbath, I felt
a love to all mankind, wholly peculiar in its strength and sweetness,
far beyond all that I had ever felt before.  The power of that love
seemed inexpressible.  I thought, if I were surrounded by enemies, who
were venting their malice and cruelty upon me, in tormenting me, it
would still be impossible that I should cherish any feelings towards
them but those of love, and pity, and ardent desires for their
happiness.  I never before felt so far from a disposition to judge and
censure others, as I did that morning.  I realized also, in an unusual
and very lively manner, how great a part of Christianity lies in the
performance of our social and relative duties to one another.  The same
joyful sense continued throughout the day--a sweet love to God and all

Whatever be the explanation of the charity, it may efface all usual
human barriers.[166]

[166] The barrier between men and animals also.  We read of Towianski,
an eminent Polish patriot and mystic, that "one day one of his friends
met him in the rain, caressing a big dog which was jumping upon him and
covering him horribly with mud.  On being asked why he permitted the
animal thus to dirty his clothes, Towianski replied:  'This dog, whom I
am now meeting for the first time, has shown a great fellow-feeling for
me, and a great joy in my recognition and acceptance of his greetings.
Were I to drive him off, I should wound his feelings and do him a moral
injury.  It would be an offense not only to him, but to all the spirits
of the other world who are on the same level with him.  The damage
which he does to my coat is as nothing in comparison with the wrong
which I should inflict upon him, in case I were to remain indifferent
to the manifestations of his friendship.  We ought,' he added, 'both to
lighten the condition of animals, whenever we can, and at the same time
to facilitate in ourselves that union of the world of all spirits,
which the sacrifice of Christ has made possible.'" Andre Towianski,
Traduction de l'Italien, Turin, 1897 (privately printed).  I owe my
knowledge of this book and of Towianski to my friend Professor W.
Lutoslawski, author of "Plato's Logic."

Here, for instance, is an example of Christian non-resistance from
Richard Weaver's autobiography.  Weaver was a collier, a
semi-professional pugilist in his younger days, who became a much
beloved evangelist.  Fighting, after drinking, seems to have been the
sin to which he originally felt his flesh most perversely inclined.
After his first conversion he had a backsliding, which consisted in
pounding a man who had insulted a girl.  Feeling that, having once
fallen, he might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb, he got
drunk and went and broke the jaw of another man who had lately
challenged him to fight and taunted him with cowardice for refusing as
a Christian man;--I mention these incidents to show how genuine a
change of heart is implied in the later conduct which he describes as

"I went down the drift and found the boy crying because a
fellow-workman was trying to take the wagon from him by force.  I said
to him:--

"'Tom, you mustn't take that wagon.'

"He swore at me, and called me a Methodist devil.  I told him that God
did not tell me to let him rob me.  He cursed again, and said he would
push the wagon over me.

"'Well,' I said, 'let us see whether the devil and thee are stronger
than the Lord and me.'

"And the Lord and I proving stronger than the devil and he, he had to
get out of the way, or the wagon would have gone over him.

So I gave the wagon to the boy.  Then said Tom:--

"'I've a good mind to smack thee on the face.'

"'Well,' I said, 'if that will do thee any good, thou canst do it.' So
he struck me on the face.

"I turned the other cheek to him, and said, 'Strike again.'

"He struck again and again, till he had struck me five times. I turned
my cheek for the sixth stroke; but he turned away cursing.

I shouted after him:  'The Lord forgive thee, for I do, and the Lord
save thee.'

"This was on a Saturday; and when I went home from the coal-pit my wife
saw my face was swollen, and asked what was the matter with it.  I
said:  'I've been fighting, and I've given a man a good thrashing.'

"She burst out weeping, and said, 'O Richard, what made you fight?'
Then I told her all about it; and she thanked the Lord I had not struck

"But the Lord had struck, and his blows have more effect than man's.
Monday came.  The devil began to tempt me, saying:  'The other men will
laugh at thee for allowing Tom to treat thee as he did on Saturday.' I
cried, 'Get thee behind me, Satan;'--and went on my way to the coal-pit.

"Tom was the first man I saw.  I said 'Good-morning,' but got no reply.

"He went down first.  When I got down, I was surprised to see him
sitting on the wagon-road waiting for me.  When I came to him he burst
into tears and said:  'Richard, will you forgive me for striking you?'

"'I have forgiven thee,' said I; 'ask God to forgive thee.  The Lord
bless thee.' I gave him my hand, and we went each to his work."[167]

[167] J. Patterson's Life of Richard Weaver, pp. 66-68, abridged.

"Love your enemies!"  Mark you, not simply those who happen not to be
your friends, but your ENEMIES, your positive and active enemies.
Either this is a mere Oriental hyperbole, a bit of verbal extravagance,
meaning only that we should, as far as we can, abate our animosities,
or else it is sincere and literal.  Outside of certain cases of
intimate individual relation, it seldom has been taken literally.  Yet
it makes one ask the question:  Can there in general be a level of
emotion so unifying, so obliterative of differences between man and
man, that even enmity may come to be an irrelevant circumstance and
fail to inhibit the friendlier interests aroused?  If positive
well-wishing could attain so supreme a degree of excitement, those who
were swayed by it might well seem superhuman beings.  Their life would
be morally discrete from the life of other men, and there is no saying,
in the absence of positive experience of an authentic kind--for there
are few active examples in our scriptures, and the Buddhistic examples
are legendary,[168]--what the effects might be:  they might conceivably
transform the world.

[168] As where the future Buddha, incarnated as a hare, jumps into the
fire to cook himself for a meal for a beggar--having previously shaken
himself three times, so that none of the insects in his fur should
perish with him.

Psychologically and in principle, the precept "Love your enemies" is
not self-contradictory.  It is merely the extreme limit of a kind of
magnanimity with which, in the shape of pitying tolerance of our
oppressors, we are fairly familiar. Yet if radically followed, it would
involve such a breach with our instinctive springs of action as a
whole, and with the present world's arrangements, that a critical point
would practically be passed, and we should be born into another kingdom
of being.  Religious emotion makes us feel that other kingdom to be
close at hand, within our reach.

The inhibition of instinctive repugnance is proved not only by the
showing of love to enemies, but by the showing of it to any one who is
personally loathsome.  In the annals of saintliness we find a curious
mixture of motives impelling in this direction.  Asceticism plays its
part; and along with charity pure and simple, we find humility or the
desire to disclaim distinction and to grovel on the common level before
God.  Certainly all three principles were at work when Francis of
Assisi and Ignatius Loyola exchanged their garments with those of
filthy beggars.  All three are at work when religious persons
consecrate their lives to the care of leprosy or other peculiarly
unpleasant diseases.  The nursing of the sick is a function to which
the religious seem strongly drawn, even apart from the fact that church
traditions set that way.  But in the annals of this sort of charity we
find fantastic excesses of devotion recorded which are only explicable
by the frenzy of self-immolation simultaneously aroused.  Francis of
Assisi kisses his lepers; Margaret Mary Alacoque, Francis Xavier, St.
John of God, and others are said to have cleansed the sores and ulcers
of their patients with their respective tongues; and the lives of such
saints as Elizabeth of Hungary and Madame de Chantal are full of a sort
of reveling in hospital purulence, disagreeable to read of, and which
makes us admire and shudder at the same time.

So much for the human love aroused by the faith-state. Let me next
speak of the Equanimity, Resignation, Fortitude, and Patience which it

"A paradise of inward tranquillity" seems to be faith's usual result;
and it is easy, even without being religious one's self, to understand
this.  A moment back, in treating of the sense of God's presence, I
spoke of the unaccountable feeling of safety which one may then have.
And, indeed, how can it possibly fail to steady the nerves, to cool the
fever, and appease the fret, if one be sensibly conscious that, no
matter what one's difficulties for the moment may appear to be, one's
life as a whole is in the keeping of a power whom one can absolutely
trust?  In deeply religious men the abandonment of self to this power
is passionate.  Whoever not only says, but FEELS, "God's will be done,"
is mailed against every weakness; and the whole historic array of
martyrs, missionaries, and religious reformers is there to prove the
tranquil-mindedness, under naturally agitating or distressing
circumstances, which self-surrender brings.

The temper of the tranquil-mindedness differs, of course, according as
the person is of a constitutionally sombre or of a constitutionally
cheerful cast of mind.  In the sombre it partakes more of resignation
and submission; in the cheerful it is a joyous consent.  As an example
of the former temper, I quote part of a letter from Professor Lagneau,
a venerated teacher of philosophy who lately died, a great invalid, at

"My life, for the success of which you send good wishes, will be what
it is able to be.  I ask nothing from it, I expect nothing from it.
For long years now I exist, think, and act, and am worth what I am
worth, only through the despair which is my sole strength and my sole
foundation.  May it preserve for me, even in these last trials to which
I am coming, the courage to do without the desire of deliverance.  I
ask nothing more from the Source whence all strength cometh, and if
that is granted, your wishes will have been accomplished."[169]

[169] Bulletin de l'Union pour l'Action Morale, September, 1894.

There is something pathetic and fatalistic about this, but the power of
such a tone as a protection against outward shocks is manifest.  Pascal
is another Frenchman of pessimistic  {281} natural temperament.  He
expresses still more amply the temper of self-surrendering

"Deliver me, Lord," he writes in his prayers, "from the sadness at my
proper suffering which self-love might give, but put into me a sadness
like your own.  Let my sufferings appease your choler.  Make them an
occasion for my conversion and salvation. I ask you neither for health
nor for sickness, for life nor for death; but that you may dispose of
my health and my sickness, my life and my death, for your glory, for my
salvation, and for the use of the Church and of your saints, of whom I
would by your grace be one.  You alone know what is expedient for me;
you are the sovereign master; do with me according to your will.  Give
to me, or take away from me, only conform my will to yours.  I know but
one thing, Lord, that it is good to follow you, and bad to offend you.
Apart from that, I know not what is good or bad in anything.  I know
not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or
poverty, nor anything else in the world.  That discernment is beyond
the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your
Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom."[170]

[170] B. Pascal:  Prieres pour les Maladies, Sections xiii., xiv.,

When we reach more optimistic temperaments, the resignation grows less
passive.  Examples are sown so broadcast throughout history that I
might well pass on without citation.  As it is, I snatch at the first
that occurs to my mind.  Madame Guyon, a frail creature physically, was
yet of a happy native disposition.  She went through many perils with
admirable serenity of soul.  After being sent to prison for heresy--

"Some of my friends," she writes, "wept bitterly at the hearing of it,
but such was my state of acquiescence and resignation that it failed to
draw any tears from me.... There appeared to be in me then, as I find
it to be in me now, such an entire loss of what regards myself, that
any of my own interests gave me little pain or pleasure; ever wanting
to will or wish for myself only the very thing which God does."  In
another place she writes: "We all of us came near perishing in a river
which we found it necessary to pass.  The carriage sank in the
quicksand. Others who were with us threw themselves out in excessive
fright.  But I found my thoughts so much taken up with God that I had
no distinct sense of danger.  It is true that the thought of being
drowned passed across my mind, but it cost no other sensation or
reflection in me than this--that I felt quite contented and willing it
were so, if it were my heavenly Father's choice." Sailing from Nice to
Genoa, a storm keeps her eleven days at sea.

"As the irritated waves dashed round us," she writes, "I could not help
experiencing a certain degree of satisfaction in my mind.  I pleased
myself with thinking that those mutinous billows, under the command of
Him who does all things rightly, might probably furnish me with a
watery grave.  Perhaps I carried the point too far, in the pleasure
which I took in thus seeing myself beaten and bandied by the swelling
waters. Those who were with me took notice of my intrepidity."[171]

[171] From Thomas C. Upham's Life and Religious Opinions and
Experiences of Madame de la Mothe Guyon, New York, 1877, ii. 48, i.
141, 413, abridged.

The contempt of danger which religious enthusiasm produces may be even
more buoyant still.  I take an example from that charming recent
autobiography, "With Christ at Sea," by Frank Bullen.  A couple of days
after he went through the conversion on shipboard of which he there
gives an account--

"It was blowing stiffly," he writes, "and we were carrying a press of
canvas to get north out of the bad weather.  Shortly after four bells
we hauled down the flying-jib, and I sprang out astride the boom to
furl it.  I was sitting astride the boom when suddenly it gave way with
me.  The sail slipped through my fingers, and I fell backwards, hanging
head downwards over the seething tumult of shining foam under the
ship's bows, suspended by one foot.  But I felt only high exultation in
my certainty of eternal life.  Although death was divided from me by a
hair's breadth, and I was acutely conscious of the fact, it gave me no
sensation but joy.  I suppose I could have hung there no longer than
five seconds, but in that time I lived a whole age of delight.  But my
body asserted itself, and with a desperate gymnastic effort I regained
the boom.  How I furled the sail I don't know, but I sang at the utmost
pitch of my voice praises to God that went pealing out over the dark
waste of waters."[172]

[172] Op. cit., London, 1901, p. 230.

The annals of martyrdom are of course the signal field of triumph for
religious imperturbability.  Let me cite as an example the statement of
a humble sufferer, persecuted as a Huguenot under Louis XIV:--

"They shut all the doors," Blanche Gamond writes, "and I saw six women,
each with a bunch of willow rods as thick as the hand could hold, and a
yard long.  He gave me the order, 'Undress yourself,' which I did.  He
said, 'You are leaving on your shift; you must take it off.'  They had
so little patience that they took it off themselves, and I was naked
from the waist up. They brought a cord with which they tied me to a
beam in the kitchen.  They drew the cord tight with all their strength
and asked me, 'Does it hurt you?' and then they discharged their fury
upon me, exclaiming as they struck me, 'Pray now to your God.'  It was
the Roulette woman who held this language.  But at this moment I
received the greatest consolation that I can ever receive in my life,
since I had the honor of being whipped for the name of Christ, and in
addition of being crowned with his mercy and his consolations.  Why can
I not write down the inconceivable influences, consolations, and peace
which I felt interiorly?  To understand them one must have passed by
the same trial; they were so great that I was ravished, for there where
afflictions abound grace is given superabundantly.  In vain the women
cried, 'We must double our blows; she does not feel them, for she
neither speaks nor cries.'  And how should I have cried, since I was
swooning with happiness within?"[173]

[173] Claparede et Goty:  Deux Heroines de la Foi, Paris, 1880, p. 112.

The transition from tenseness, self-responsibility, and worry, to
equanimity, receptivity, and peace, is the most wonderful of all those
shiftings of inner equilibrium, those changes of the personal centre of
energy, which I have analyzed so often; and the chief wonder of it is
that it so often comes about, not by doing, but by simply relaxing and
throwing the burden down.  This abandonment of self-responsibility
seems to be the fundamental act in specifically religious, as
distinguished from moral practice.  It antedates theologies and is
independent of philosophies.  Mind-cure, theosophy, stoicism, ordinary
neurological hygiene, insist on it as emphatically as Christianity
does, and it is capable of entering into closest marriage with every
speculative creed.[174]  Christians who have it strongly live in what
is called "recollection," and are never anxious about the future, nor
worry over the outcome of the day.  Of Saint Catharine of Genoa it is
said that "she took cognizance of things, only as they were presented
to her in succession, MOMENT BY MOMENT."  To her holy soul, "the divine
moment was the present moment, ... and when the present moment was
estimated in itself and in its relations, and when the duty that was
involved in it was accomplished, it was permitted to pass away as if it
had never been, and to give way to the facts and duties of the moment
which came after."[175]  Hinduism, mind-cure, and theosophy all lay
great emphasis upon this concentration of the consciousness upon the
moment at hand.

[174] Compare these three different statements of it:  A. P.  Call:  As
a Matter of Course, Boston, 1894; H. W. Dresser: Living by the Spirit,
New York and London, 1900; H. W. Smith: The Christian's Secret of a
Happy Life, published by the Willard Tract Repository, and now in
thousands of hands.

[175] T. C. Upham:  Life of Madame Catharine Adorna, 3d ed., New York,
1864, pp. 158, 172-74.

The next religious symptom which I will note is what have called Purity
of Life.  The saintly person becomes exceedingly sensitive to inner
inconsistency or discord, and mixture and confusion grow intolerable.
All the mind's objects and occupations must be ordered with reference
to the special spiritual excitement which is now its keynote.  Whatever
is unspiritual taints the pure water of the soul and is repugnant.
Mixed with this exaltation of the moral sensibilities there is also an
ardor of sacrifice, for the beloved deity's sake, of everything
unworthy of him.  Sometimes the spiritual ardor is so sovereign that
purity is achieved at a stroke --we have seen examples.  Usually it is
a more gradual conquest.  Billy Bray's account of his abandonment of
tobacco is a good example of the latter form of achievement.

"I had been a smoker as well as a drunkard, and I used to love my
tobacco as much as I loved my meat, and I would rather go down into the
mine without my dinner than without my pipe.  In the days of old, the
Lord spoke by the mouths of his servants, the prophets; now he speaks
to us by the spirit of his Son.  I had not only the feeling part of
religion, but I could hear the small, still voice within speaking to
me.  When I took the pipe to smoke, it would be applied within, 'It is
an idol, a lust; worship the Lord with clean lips.'  So, I felt it was
not right to smoke.  The Lord also sent a woman to convince me.  I was
one day in a house, and I took out my pipe to light it at the fire, and
Mary Hawke--for that was the woman's name--said, 'Do you not feel it is
wrong to smoke?'  I said that I felt something inside telling me that
it was an idol, a lust, and she said that was the Lord.  Then I said,
'Now, I must give it up, for the Lord is telling me of it inside, and
the woman outside, so the tobacco must go, love it as I may.'  There
and then I took the tobacco out of my pocket, and threw it into the
fire, and put the pipe under my foot, 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust.'
And I have not smoked since.  I found it hard to break off old habits,
but I cried to the Lord for help, and he gave me strength, for he has
said, 'Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee.'
The day after I gave up smoking I had the toothache so bad that I did
not know what to do.  I thought this was owing to giving up the pipe,
but I said I would never smoke again, if I lost every tooth in my head.
I said, 'Lord, thou hast told us My yoke is easy and my burden is
light,' and when I said that, all the pain left me.  Sometimes the
thought of the pipe would come back to me very strong; but the Lord
strengthened me against the habit, and, bless his name, I have not
smoked since."

Bray's biographer writes that after he had given up smoking, he thought
that he would chew a little, but he conquered this dirty habit, too.
"On one occasion," Bray said, "when at a prayer- meeting at Hicks Mill,
I heard the Lord say to me, 'Worship me with clean lips.'  So, when we
got up from our knees, I took the quid out of my mouth and 'whipped
'en' [threw it] under the form.

But, when we got on our knees again, I put another quid into my mouth.
Then the Lord said to me again, 'Worship me with clean lips.'  So I
took the quid out of my mouth, and whipped 'en under the form again,
and said, 'Yes, Lord, I will.'  From that time I gave up chewing as
well as smoking, and have been a free man."

The ascetic forms which the impulse for veracity and purity of life may
take are often pathetic enough.  The early Quakers, for example, had
hard battles to wage against the worldliness and insincerity of the
ecclesiastical Christianity of their time.  Yet the battle that cost
them most wounds was probably that which they fought in defense of
their own right to social veracity and sincerity in their thee-ing and
thou-ing, in not doffing the hat or giving titles of respect. It was
laid on George Fox that these conventional customs were a lie and a
sham, and the whole body of his followers thereupon renounced them, as
a sacrifice to truth, and so that their acts and the spirit they
professed might be more in accord.

"When the Lord sent me into the world," says Fox in his Journal, "he
forbade me to put off my hat to any, high or low: and I was required to
'thee' and 'thou' all men and women, without any respect to rich or
poor, great or small.  And as I traveled up and down, I was not to bid
people Good-morning or Good-evening, neither might I bow or scrape with
my leg to any one.  This made the sects and professions rage.  Oh! the
rage that was in the priests, magistrates, professors, and people of
all sorts:  and especially in priests and professors:  for though
'thou' to a single person was according to their accidence and grammar
rules, and according to the Bible, yet they could not bear to hear it:
and because I could not put off my hat to them, it set them all into a
rage.... Oh! the scorn, heat, and fury that arose!  Oh!  the blows,
punchings, beatings, and imprisonments that we underwent for not
putting off our hats to men!  Some had their hats violently plucked off
and thrown away, so that they quite lost them.  The bad language and
evil usage we received on this account is hard to be expressed, besides
the danger we were sometimes in of losing our lives for this matter,
and that by the great professors of Christianity, who thereby
discovered they were not true believers.  And though it was but a small
thing in the eye of man, yet a wonderful confusion it brought among all
professors and priests:  but, blessed be the Lord, many came to see the
vanity of that custom of putting off hats to men, and felt the weight
of Truth's testimony against it."

In the autobiography of Thomas Elwood, an early Quaker, who at one time
was secretary to John Milton, we find an exquisitely quaint and candid
account of the trials he underwent both at home and abroad, in
following Fox's canons of sincerity.  The anecdotes are too lengthy for
citation; but Elwood sets down his manner of feeling about these things
in a shorter passage, which I will quote as a characteristic utterance
of spiritual sensibility:--

"By this divine light, then," says Elwood, "I saw that though I had not
the evil of the common uncleanliness, debauchery, profaneness, and
pollutions of the world to put away, because I had, through the great
goodness of God and a civil education, been preserved out of those
grosser evils, yet I had many other evils to put away and to cease
from; some of which were not by the world, which lies in wickedness (I
John v. 19), accounted evils, but by the light of Christ were made
manifest to me to be evils, and as such condemned in me.

"As particularly those fruits and effects of pride that discover
themselves in the vanity and superfluity of apparel; which I took too
much delight in.  This evil of my doings I was required to put away and
cease from; and judgment lay upon me till I did so.

"I took off from my apparel those unnecessary trimmings of lace,
ribbons, and useless buttons, which had no real service, but were set
on only for that which was by mistake called ornament; and I ceased to
wear rings.

"Again, the giving of flattering titles to men between whom and me
there was not any relation to which such titles could be pretended to
belong.  This was an evil I had been much addicted to, and was
accounted a ready artist in; therefore this evil also was I required to
put away and cease from.  So that thenceforward I durst not say, Sir,
Master, My Lord, Madam (or My Dame); or say Your Servant to any one to
whom I did not stand in the real relation of a servant, which I had
never done to any.

"Again, respect of persons, in uncovering the head and bowing the knee
or body in salutation, was a practice I had been much in the use of;
and this, being one of the vain customs of the world, introduced by the
spirit of the world, instead of the true honor which this is a false
representation of, and used in deceit as a token of respect by persons
one to another, who bear no real respect one to another; and besides
this, being a type and a proper emblem of that divine honor which all
ought to pay to Almighty God, and which all of all sorts, who take upon
them the Christian name, appear in when they offer their prayers to
him, and therefore should not be given to men;--I found this to be one
of those evils which I had been too long doing; therefore I was now
required to put it away and cease from it.

"Again, the corrupt and unsound form of speaking in the plural number
to a single person, YOU to one, instead of THOU, contrary to the pure,
plain, and single language of truth, THOU to one, and YOU to more than
one, which had always been used by God to men, and men to God, as well
as one to another, from the oldest record of time till corrupt men, for
corrupt ends, in later and corrupt times, to flatter, fawn, and work
upon the corrupt nature in men, brought in that false and senseless way
of speaking you to one, which has since corrupted the modern languages,
and hath greatly debased the spirits and depraved the manners of
men;--this evil custom I had been as forward in as others, and this I
was now called out of and required to cease from.

"These and many more evil customs which had sprung up in the night of
darkness and general apostasy from the truth and true religion were
now, by the inshining of this pure ray of divine light in my
conscience, gradually discovered to me to be what I ought to cease
from, shun, and stand a witness against."[176]

[176] The History of Thomas Elwood, written by Himself, London, 1885,
pp. 32-34

These early Quakers were Puritans indeed.  The slightest inconsistency
between profession and deed jarred some of them to active protest.
John Woolman writes in his diary:--

"In these journeys I have been where much cloth hath been dyed; and
have at sundry times walked over ground where much of their dyestuffs
has drained away.  This hath produced a longing in my mind that people
might come into cleanness of spirit, cleanness of person, and cleanness
about their houses and garments.  Dyes being invented partly to please
the eye, and partly to hide dirt, I have felt in this weak state, when
traveling in dirtiness, and affected with unwholesome scents, a strong
desire that the nature of dyeing cloth to hide dirt may be more fully

"Washing our garments to keep them sweet is cleanly, but it is the
opposite to real cleanliness to hide dirt in them.  Through giving way
to hiding dirt in our garments a spirit which would conceal that which
is disagreeable is strengthened.  Real cleanliness becometh a holy
people; but hiding that which is not clean by coloring our garments
seems contrary to the sweetness of sincerity.  Through some sorts of
dyes cloth is rendered less useful. And if the value of dyestuffs, and
expense of dyeing, and the damage done to cloth, were all added
together, and that cost applied to keeping all sweet and clean, how
much more would real cleanliness prevail.

"Thinking often on these things, the use of hats and garments dyed with
a dye hurtful to them, and wearing more clothes in summer than are
useful, grew more uneasy to me; believing them to be customs which have
not their foundation in pure wisdom.  The apprehension of being
singular from my beloved friends was a strait upon me; and thus I
continued in the use of some things, contrary to my judgment, about
nine months.  Then I thought of getting a hat the natural color of the
fur, but the apprehension of being looked upon as one affecting
singularity felt uneasy to me.  On this account I was under close
exercise of mind in the time of our general spring meeting in 1762,
greatly desiring to be rightly directed; when, being deeply bowed in
spirit before the Lord, I was made willing to submit to what I
apprehended was required of me; and when I returned home, got a hat of
the natural color of the fur.

"In attending meetings, this singularity was a trial to me, and more
especially at this time, as white hats were used by some who were fond
of following the changeable modes of dress, and as some friends, who
knew not from what motives I wore it, grew shy of me, I felt my way for
a time shut up in the exercise of the ministry.  Some friends were
apprehensive that my wearing such a hat savored of an affected
singularity:  those who spoke with me in a friendly way, I generally
informed in a few words, that I believed my wearing it was not in my
own will."

When the craving for moral consistency and purity is developed to this
degree, the subject may well find the outer world too full of shocks to
dwell in, and can unify his life and keep his soul unspotted only by
withdrawing from it. That law which impels the artist to achieve
harmony in his composition by simply dropping out whatever jars, or
suggests a discord, rules also in the spiritual life.  To omit, says
Stevenson, is the one art in literature:  "If I knew how to omit, I
should ask no other knowledge."  And life, when full of disorder and
slackness and vague superfluity, can no more have what we call
character than literature can have it under similar conditions.  So
monasteries and communities of sympathetic devotees open their doors,
and in their changeless order, characterized by omissions quite as much
as constituted of actions, the holy-minded person finds that inner
smoothness and cleanness which it is torture to him to feel violated at
every turn by the discordancy and brutality of secular existence.

That the scrupulosity of purity may be carried to a fantastic extreme
must be admitted.  In this it resembles Asceticism, to which further
symptom of saintliness we had better turn next.  The adjective
"ascetic" is applied to conduct originating on diverse psychological
levels, which I might as well begin by distinguishing from one another.

1.  Asceticism may be a mere expression of organic hardihood, disgusted
with too much ease.

2.  Temperance in meat and drink, simplicity of apparel, chastity, and
non-pampering of the body generally, may be fruits of the love of
purity, shocked by whatever savors of the sensual.

3.  They may also be fruits of love, that is, they may appeal to the
subject in the light of sacrifices which he is happy in making to the
Deity whom he acknowledges.

4.  Again, ascetic mortifications and torments may be due to
pessimistic feelings about the self, combined with theological beliefs
concerning expiation.  The devotee may feel that he is buying himself
free, or escaping worse sufferings hereafter, by doing penance now.

5.  In psychopathic persons, mortifications may be entered on
irrationally, by a sort of obsession or fixed idea which comes as a
challenge and must be worked off, because only thus does the subject
get his interior consciousness feeling right again.

6.  Finally, ascetic exercises may in rarer instances be prompted by
genuine perversions of the bodily sensibility, in consequence of which
normally pain-giving stimuli are actually felt as pleasures.

I will try to give an instance under each of these heads in turn; but
it is not easy to get them pure, for in cases pronounced enough to be
immediately classed as ascetic, several of the assigned motives usually
work together.  Moreover, before citing any examples at all, I must
invite you to some general psychological considerations which apply to
all of them alike.

A strange moral transformation has within the past century swept over
our Western world.  We no longer think that we are called on to face
physical pain with equanimity. It is not expected of a man that he
should either endure it or inflict much of it, and to listen to the
recital of cases of it makes our flesh creep morally as well as
physically.  The way in which our ancestors looked upon pain as an
eternal ingredient of the world's order, and both caused and suffered
it as a matter-of-course portion of their day's work, fills us with
amazement.  We wonder that any human beings could have been so callous.
The result of this historic alteration is that even in the Mother
Church herself, where ascetic discipline has such a fixed traditional
prestige as a factor of merit, it has largely come into desuetude, if
not discredit.  A believer who flagellates or "macerates" himself today
arouses more wonder and fear than emulation.  Many Catholic writers who
admit that the times have changed in this respect do so resignedly; and
even add that perhaps it is as well not to waste feelings in regretting
the matter, for to return to the heroic corporeal discipline of ancient
days might be an extravagance.

Where to seek the easy and the pleasant seems instinctive --and
instinctive it appears to be in man; any deliberate tendency to pursue
the hard and painful as such and for their own sakes might well strike
one as purely abnormal.  Nevertheless, in moderate degrees it is
natural and even usual to human nature to court the arduous.  It is
only the extreme manifestations of the tendency that can be regarded as
a paradox.

The psychological reasons for this lie near the surface. When we drop
abstractions and take what we call our will in the act, we see that it
is a very complex function.  It involves both stimulations and
inhibitions; it follows generalized habits; it is escorted by
reflective criticisms; and it leaves a good or a bad taste of itself
behind, according to the manner of the performance.  The result is
that, quite apart from the immediate pleasure which any sensible
experience may give us, our own general moral attitude in procuring or
undergoing the experience brings with it a secondary satisfaction or
distaste.  Some men and women, indeed, there are who can live on smiles
and the word "yes" forever.  But for others (indeed for most), this is
too tepid and relaxed a moral climate.  Passive happiness is slack and
insipid, and soon grows mawkish and intolerable.  Some austerity and
wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort, some
"no! no!" must be mixed in, to produce the sense of an existence with
character and texture and power.  The range of individual differences
in this respect is enormous; but whatever the mixture of yeses and noes
may be, the person is infallibly aware when he has struck it in the
right proportion FOR HIM.  This, he feels, is  my proper vocation, this
is the OPTIMUM, the law, the life for me to live.  Here I find the
degree of equilibrium, safety, calm, and leisure which I need, or here
I find the challenge, passion, fight, and hardship without which my
soul's energy expires.

Every individual soul, in short, like every individual machine or
organism, has its own best conditions of efficiency. A given machine
will run best under a certain steam-pressure, a certain amperage; an
organism under a certain diet, weight, or exercise.  You seem to do
best, I heard a doctor say to a patient, at about 140 millimeters of
arterial tension.  And it is just so with our sundry souls:  some are
happiest in calm weather; some need the sense of tension, of strong
volition, to make them feel alive and well.  For these latter souls,
whatever is gained from day to day must be paid for by sacrifice and
inhibition, or else it comes too cheap and has no zest.

Now when characters of this latter sort become religious, they are apt
to turn the edge of their need of effort and negativity against their
natural self; and the ascetic life gets evolved as a consequence.

When Professor Tyndall in one of his lectures tells us that Thomas
Carlyle put him into his bath-tub every morning of a freezing Berlin
winter, he proclaimed one of the lowest grades of asceticism.  Even
without Carlyle, most of us find it necessary to our soul's health to
start the day with a rather cool immersion.  A little farther along the
scale we get such statements as this, from one of my correspondents, an

"Often at night in my warm bed I would feel ashamed to depend so on the
warmth, and whenever the thought would come over me I would have to get
up, no matter what time of night it was, and stand for a minute in the
cold, just so as to prove my manhood."

Such cases as these belong simply to our head 1.  In the next case we
probably have a mixture of heads 2 and 3-- the asceticism becomes far
more systematic and pronounced.  The writer is a Protestant, whose
sense of moral energy could doubtless be gratified on no lower terms,
and I take his case from Starbuck's manuscript collection.

"I practiced fasting and mortification of the flesh.  I secretly made
burlap shirts, and put the burrs next the skin, and wore pebbles in my
shoes.  I would spend nights flat on my back on the floor without any

The Roman Church has organized and codified all this sort of thing, and
given it a market-value in the shape of "merit." But we see the
cultivation of hardship cropping out under every sky and in every
faith, as a spontaneous need of character.  Thus we read of Channing,
when first settled as a Unitarian minister, that--

"He was now more simple than ever, and seemed to have become incapable
of any form of self-indulgence.  He took the smallest room in the house
for his study, though he might easily have commanded one more light,
airy, and in every way more suitable; and chose for his sleeping
chamber an attic which he shared with a younger brother.  The furniture
of the latter might have answered for the cell of an anchorite, and
consisted of a hard mattress on a cot-bedstead, plain wooden chairs and
table, with matting on the floor.  It was without fire, and to cold he
was throughout life extremely sensitive; but he never complained or
appeared in any way to be conscious of inconvenience.  'I recollect,'
says his brother, 'after one most severe night, that in the morning he
sportively thus alluded to his suffering:  "If my bed were my country,
I should be somewhat like Bonaparte:  I have no control except over the
part which I occupy, the instant I move, frost takes possession."'  In
sickness only would he change for the time his apartment and accept a
few comforts. The dress too that he habitually adopted was of most
inferior quality; and garments were constantly worn which the world
would call mean, though an almost feminine neatness preserved him from
the least appearance of neglect."[177]

[177] Memoirs of W. E. Channing, Boston, 1840, i. 196.

Channing's asceticism, such as it was, was evidently a compound of
hardihood and love of purity.  The democracy which is an offshoot of
the enthusiasm of humanity, and of which I will speak later under the
head of the cult of poverty, doubtless bore also a share.  Certainly
there was no pessimistic element in his case.

In the next case we have a strongly pessimistic element, so that it
belongs under head 4.  John Cennick was Methodism's first lay preacher.
In 1735 he was convicted of sin, while walking in Cheapside--

"And at once left off sing-singing, card-playing, and attending
theatres.  Sometimes he wished to go to a popish monastery, to spend
his life in devout retirement.  At other times he longed to live in a
cave, sleeping on fallen leaves, and feeding on forest fruits.  He
fasted long and often, and prayed nine times a day....  Fancying dry
bread too great an indulgence for so great a sinner as himself, he
began to feed on potatoes, acorns, crabs, and grass; and often wished
that he could live on roots and herbs.  At length, in 1737, he found
peace with God, and went on his way rejoicing."[178]

[178] L. Tyerman:  The Life and Times of the Rev. John Wesley, i.  274.

In this poor man we have morbid melancholy and fear, and the sacrifices
made are to purge out sin, and to buy safety.  The hopelessness of
Christian theology in respect of the flesh and the natural man
generally has, in systematizing fear, made of it one tremendous
incentive to self-mortification.  It would be quite unfair, however, in
spite of the fact that this incentive has often been worked in a
mercenary way for hortatory purposes, to call it a mercenary incentive.
The impulse to expiate and do penance is, in its first intention, far
too immediate and spontaneous an expression of self-despair and anxiety
to be obnoxious to any such reproach.  In the form of loving sacrifice,
of spending all we have to show our devotion, ascetic discipline of the
severest sort may be the fruit of highly optimistic religious feeling.

M. Vianney, the cure of Ars, was a French country priest, whose
holiness was exemplary.  We read in his life the following account of
his inner need of sacrifice:--

"'On this path,' M. Vianney said, "it is only the first step that
costs.  There is in mortification a balm and a savor without which one
cannot live when once one has made their acquaintance.  There is but
one way in which to give one's self to God-- that is, to give one's
self entirely, and to keep nothing for one's self.  The little that one
keeps is only good to trouble one and make one suffer.'  Accordingly he
imposed it on himself that he should never smell a flower, never drink
when parched with thirst, never drive away a fly, never show disgust
before a repugnant object, never complain of anything that had to do
with his personal comfort, never sit down, never lean upon his elbows
when he was kneeling.  The Cure of Ars was very sensitive to cold, but
he would never take means to protect himself against it.  During a very
severe winter, one of his missionaries contrived a false floor to his
confessional and placed a metal case of hot water beneath.  The trick
succeeded, and the Saint was deceived:  'God is very good,' he said
with emotion.  'This year, through all the cold, my feet have always
been warm.' "[179]

[179] A. Mounin:  Le Cure d'Ars, vie de M. J. B. M. Vianney, 1864, p.
545, abridged.

In this case the spontaneous impulse to make sacrifices for the pure
love of God was probably the uppermost conscious motive.  We may class
it, then, under our head 3.  Some authors think that the impulse to
sacrifice is the main religious phenomenon.  It is a prominent, a
universal phenomenon certainly, and lies deeper than any special creed.
Here, for instance, is what seems to be a spontaneous example of it,
simply expressing what seemed right at the time between the individual
and his Maker.  Cotton Mather, the New England Puritan divine, is
generally reputed a rather grotesque pedant; yet what is more
touchingly simple than his relation of what happened when his wife came
to die?

"When I saw to what a point of resignation I was now called of the
Lord," he says, "I resolved, with his help, therein to glorify him.
So, two hours before my lovely consort expired, I kneeled by her
bedside, and I took into my two hands a dear hand, the dearest in the
world.  With her thus in my hands, I solemnly and sincerely gave her up
unto the Lord:  and in token of my real RESIGNATION, I gently put her
out of my hands, and laid away a most lovely hand, resolving that I
would never touch it more.  This was the hardest, and perhaps the
bravest action that ever I did.  She ... told me that she signed and
sealed my act of resignation.  And though before that she called for me
continually, she after this never asked for me any more."[180]

[180] B. Wendell:  Cotton Mather, New York, no date, p. 198.

Father Vianney's asceticism taken in its totality was simply the result
of a permanent flood of high spiritual enthusiasm, longing to make
proof of itself.  The Roman Church has, in its incomparable fashion,
collected all the motives towards asceticism together, and so codified
them that any one wishing to pursue Christian perfection may find a
practical system mapped out for him in any one of a number of
ready-made manuals.[181] The dominant Church notion of perfection is of
course the negative one of avoidance of sin.  Sin proceeds from
concupiscence, and concupiscence from our carnal passions and
temptations, chief of which are pride, sensuality in all its forms, and
the loves of worldly excitement and possession.  All these sources of
sin must be resisted; and discipline and austerities are a most
efficacious mode of meeting them.  Hence there are always in these
books chapters on self-mortification.  But whenever a procedure is
codified, the more delicate spirit of it evaporates, and if we wish the
undiluted ascetic spirit--the passion of self-contempt wreaking itself
on the poor flesh, the divine irrationality of devotion making a
sacrificial gift of all it has (its sensibilities, namely) to the
object of its adoration--we must go to autobiographies, or other
individual documents.

[181] That of the earlier Jesuit, Rodriguez, which has been translated
into all languages, is one of the best known.  A convenient modern
manual, very well put together, is L'Ascetique Chretienne, by M. J.
Ribet, Paris, Poussielgue, nouvelle edition, 1898.

Saint John of the Cross, a Spanish mystic who flourished--or rather who
existed, for there was little that suggested flourishing about him--in
the sixteenth century, will supply a passage suitable for our purpose.

"First of all, carefully excite in yourself an habitual affectionate
will in all things to imitate Jesus Christ.  If anything agreeable
offers itself to your senses, yet does not at the same time tend purely
to the honor and glory of God, renounce it and separate yourself from
it for the love of Christ, who all his life long had no other taste or
wish than to do the will of his Father whom he called his meat and
nourishment.  For example, you take satisfaction in HEARING of things
in which the glory of God bears no part.  Deny yourself this
satisfaction, mortify your wish to listen.  You take pleasure in SEEING
objects which do not raise your mind to God:  refuse yourself this
pleasure, and turn away your eyes.  The same with conversations and all
other things. Act similarly, so far as you are able, with all the
operations of the senses, striving to make yourself free from their

"The radical remedy lies in the mortification of the four great natural
passions, joy, hope, fear, and grief.  You must seek to deprive these
of every satisfaction and leave them as it were in darkness and the
void.  Let your soul therefore turn always:

"Not to what is most easy, but to what is hardest;

"Not to what tastes best, but to what is most distasteful;

"Not to what most pleases, but to what disgusts;

"Not to matter of consolation, but to matter for desolation rather;

"Not to rest, but to labor;

"Not to desire the more, but the less;

"Not to aspire to what is highest and most precious, but to what is
lowest and most contemptible;

"Not to will anything, but to will nothing;

"Not to seek the best in everything, but to seek the worst, so that you
may enter for the love of Christ into a complete destitution, a perfect
poverty of spirit, and an absolute renunciation of everything in this

"Embrace these practices with all the energy of your soul and you will
find in a short time great delights and unspeakable consolations.

"Despise yourself, and wish that others should despise you;

"Speak to your own disadvantage, and desire others to do the same;

"Conceive a low opinion of yourself, and find it good when others hold
the same;

"To enjoy the taste of all things, have no taste for anything.

"To know all things, learn to know nothing.

"To possess all things, resolve to possess nothing.

"To be all things, be willing to be nothing.

"To get to where you have no taste for anything, go through whatever
experiences you have no taste for.

"To learn to know nothing, go whither you are ignorant.

"To reach what you possess not, go whithersoever you own nothing.

"To be what you are not, experience what you are not."

These later verses play with that vertigo of self-contradiction which
is so dear to mysticism.  Those that come next are completely mystical,
for in them Saint John passes from God to the more metaphysical notion
of the All.

"When you stop at one thing, you cease to open yourself to the All.

"For to come to the All you must give up the All.

"And if you should attain to owning the All, you must own it, desiring

"In this spoliation, the soul finds its tranquillity and rest.
Profoundly established in the centre of its own nothingness, it can be
assailed by naught that comes from below; and since it no longer
desires anything, what comes from above cannot depress it; for its
desires alone are the causes of its woes."[182]

[182] Saint Jean de la Croix, vie et Oeuvres, Paris, 1893, ii.  94, 99,

And now, as a more concrete example of heads 4 and 5, in fact of all
our heads together, and of the irrational extreme to which a
psychopathic individual may go in the line of bodily austerity, I will
quote the sincere Suso's account of his own self-tortures.  Suso, you
will remember, was one of the fourteenth century German mystics; his
autobiography, written in the third person, is a classic religious

"He was in his youth of a temperament full of fire and life; and when
this began to make itself felt, it was very grievous to him; and he
sought by many devices how he might bring his body into subjection.  He
wore for a long time a hair shirt and an iron chain, until the blood
ran from him, so that he was obliged to leave them off.  He secretly
caused an undergarment to be made for him; and in the undergarment he
had strips of leather fixed, into which a hundred and fifty brass
nails, pointed and filed sharp, were driven, and the points of the
nails were always turned towards the flesh.  He had this garment made
very tight, and so arranged as to go round him and fasten in front in
order that it might fit the closer to his body, and the pointed nails
might be driven into his flesh; and it was high enough to reach upwards
to his navel.  In this he used to sleep at night. Now in summer, when
it was hot, and he was very tired and ill from his journeyings, or when
he held the office of lecturer, he would sometimes, as he lay thus in
bonds, and oppressed with toil, and tormented also by noxious insects,
cry aloud and give way to fretfulness, and twist round and round in
agony, as a worm does when run through with a pointed needle.  It often
seemed to him as if he were lying upon an ant-hill, from the torture
caused by the insects; for if he wished to sleep, or when he had fallen
asleep, they vied with one another.[183] Sometimes he cried to Almighty
God in the fullness of his heart:  Alas! Gentle God, what a dying is
this!  When a man is killed by murderers or strong beasts of prey it is
soon over; but I lie dying here under the cruel insects, and yet cannot
die.  The nights in winter were never so long, nor was the summer so
hot, as to make him leave off this exercise.  On the contrary, he
devised something farther --two leathern loops into which he put his
hands, and fastened one on each side his throat, and made the
fastenings so secure that even if his cell had been on fire about him,
he could not have helped himself.  This he continued until his hands
and arms had become almost tremulous with the strain, and then he
devised something else:  two leather gloves; and he caused a brazier to
fit them all over with sharp-pointed brass tacks, and he used to put
them on at night, in order that if he should try while asleep to throw
off the hair undergarment, or relieve himself from the gnawings of the
vile insects, the tacks might then stick into his body.  And so it came
to pass.  If ever he sought to help himself with his hands in his
sleep, he drove the sharp tacks into his breast, and tore himself, so
that his flesh festered. When after many weeks the wounds had healed,
he tore himself again and made fresh wounds.

[183] "Insects," i.e. lice, were an unfailing token of mediaeval
sainthood. We read of Francis of Assisi's sheepskin that "often a
companion of the saint would take it to the fire to clean and
dispediculate it, doing so, as he said, because the seraphic father
himself was no enemy of pedocchi, but on the contrary kept them on him
(le portava adosso) and held it for an honor and a glory to wear these
celestial pearls in his habit.  Quoted by P.  Sabatier:  Speculum
Perfectionis, etc., Paris, 1898, p. 231, note.

"He continued this tormenting exercise for about sixteen years.  At the
end of this time, when his blood was now chilled, and the fire of his
temperament destroyed, there appeared to him in a vision on Whitsunday,
a messenger from heaven, who told him that God required this of him no
longer.  Whereupon he discontinued it, and threw all these things away
into a running stream."

Suso then tells how, to emulate the sorrows of his crucified Lord, he
made himself a cross with thirty protruding iron needles and nails.
This he bore on his bare back between his shoulders day and night.
"The first time that he stretched out this cross upon his back his
tender frame was struck with terror at it, and blunted the sharp nails
slightly against a stone.  But soon, repenting of this womanly
cowardice, he pointed them all again with a file, and placed once more
the cross upon him.  It made his back, where the bones are, bloody and
seared.  Whenever he sat down or stood up, it was as if a hedgehog-skin
were on him.  If any one touched him unawares, or pushed against his
clothes, it tore him."

Suso next tells of his penitences by means of striking this cross and
forcing the nails deeper into the flesh, and likewise of his
self-scourgings--a dreadful story--and then goes on as follows: "At
this same period the Servitor procured an old castaway door, and he
used to lie upon it at night without any bedclothes to make him
comfortable, except that he took off his shoes and wrapped a thick
cloak round him.  He thus secured for himself a most miserable bed; for
hard pea-stalks lay in humps under his head, the cross with the sharp
nails stuck into his back, his arms were locked fast in bonds, the
horsehair undergarment was round his loins, and the cloak too was heavy
and the door hard.  Thus he lay in wretchedness, afraid to stir, just
like a log, and he would send up many a sigh to God.

"In winter he suffered very much from the frost.  If he stretched out
his feet they lay bare on the floor and froze, if he gathered them up
the blood became all on fire in his legs, and this was great pain.  His
feet were full of sores, his legs dropsical, his knees bloody and
seared, his loins covered with scars from the horsehair, his body
wasted, his mouth parched with intense thirst, and his hands tremulous
from weakness.  Amid these torments he spent his nights and days; and
he endured them all out of the greatness of the love which he bore in
his heart to the Divine and Eternal Wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ,
whose agonizing sufferings he sought to imitate.  After a time he gave
up this penitential exercise of the door, and instead of it he took up
his abode in a very small cell, and used the bench, which was so narrow
and short that he could not stretch himself upon it, as his bed.  In
this hole, or upon the door, he lay at night in his usual bonds, for
about eight years.  It was also his custom, during the space of
twenty-five years, provided he was staying in the convent, never to go
after compline in winter into any warm room, or to the convent stove to
warm himself, no matter how cold it might be, unless he was obliged to
do so for other reasons.  Throughout all these years he never took a
bath, either a water or a sweating bath; and this he did in order to
mortify his comfort-seeking body.  He practiced during a long time such
rigid poverty that he would neither receive nor touch a penny, either
with leave or without it.  For a considerable time he strove to attain
such a high degree of purity that he would neither scratch nor touch
any part of his body, save only his hands and feet."[184]

[184] The Life of the Blessed Henry Suso, by Himself, translated by T.
F. Knox, London, 1865, pp. 56-80, abridged.

I spare you the recital of poor Suso's self-inflicted tortures from
thirst.  It is pleasant to know that after his fortieth year, God
showed him by a series of visions that he had sufficiently broken down
the natural man, and that he might leave these exercises off.  His case
is distinctly pathological, but he does not seem to have had the
alleviation, which some ascetics have enjoyed, of an alteration of
sensibility capable of actually turning torment into a perverse kind of
pleasure.  Of the founder of the Sacred Heart order, for example, we
read that

"Her love of pain and suffering was insatiable....  She said that she
could cheerfully live till the day of judgment, provided she might
always have matter for suffering for God; but that to live a single day
without suffering would be intolerable. She said again that she was
devoured with two unassuageable fevers, one for the holy communion, the
other for suffering, humiliation, and annihilation.  'Nothing but
pain,' she continually said in her letters, 'makes my life

[185] Bougaud:  Hist de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, Paris, 1894,
pp. 265, 171.  Compare, also, pp. 386, 387.

So much for the phenomena to which the ascetic impulse will in certain
persons give rise.  In the ecclesiastically consecrated character three
minor branches of self-mortification have been recognized as
indispensable pathways to perfection. I refer to the chastity,
obedience, and poverty which the monk vows to observe; and upon the
heads of obedience and poverty I will make a few remarks.

First, of Obedience.  The secular life of our twentieth century opens
with this virtue held in no high esteem.  The duty of the individual to
determine his own conduct and profit or suffer by the consequences
seems, on the contrary, to be one of our best rooted contemporary
Protestant social ideals. So much so that it is difficult even
imaginatively to comprehend how men possessed of an inner life of their
own could ever have come to think the subjection of its will to that of
other finite creatures recommendable.  I confess that to myself it
seems something of a mystery.  Yet it evidently corresponds to a
profound interior need of many persons, and we must do our best to
understand it.

On the lowest possible plane, one sees how the expediency of obedience
in a firm ecclesiastical organization must have led to its being viewed
as meritorious.  Next, experience shows that there are times in every
one's life when one can be better counseled by others than by one's
self.  Inability to decide is one of the commonest symptoms of fatigued
nerves; friends who see our troubles more broadly, often see them more
wisely than we do; so it is frequently an act of excellent virtue to
consult and obey a doctor, a partner, or a wife.  But, leaving these
lower prudential regions, we find, in the nature of some of the
spiritual excitements which we have been studying, good reasons for
idealizing obedience. Obedience may spring from the general religious
phenomenon of inner softening and self-surrender and throwing one's
self on higher powers.  So saving are these attitudes felt to be that
in themselves, apart from utility, they become ideally consecrated; and
in obeying a man whose fallibility we see through thoroughly, we,
nevertheless, may feel much as we do when we resign our will to that of
infinite wisdom.  Add self-despair and the passion of self-crucifixion
to this, and obedience becomes an ascetic sacrifice, agreeable quite
irrespective of whatever prudential uses it might have.

It is as a sacrifice, a mode of "mortification," that obedience is
primarily conceived by Catholic writers, a "sacrifice which man offers
to God, and of which he is himself both the priest and the victim.  By
poverty he immolates his exterior possessions; by chastity he immolates
his body; by obedience he completes the sacrifice, and gives to God all
that he yet holds as his own, his two most precious goods, his
intellect and his will.  The sacrifice is then complete and unreserved,
a genuine holocaust, for the entire victim is now consumed for the
honor of God."[186] Accordingly, in Catholic discipline, we obey our
superior not as mere man, but as the representative of Christ.  Obeying
God in him by our intention, obedience is easy.  But when the text-book
theologians marshal collectively all their reasons for recommending it,
the mixture sounds to our ears rather odd.

[186] Lejuene:  Introduction a la Vie Mystique, 1899, p. 277.  The
holocaust simile goes back at least as far as Ignatius Loyola.

"One of the great consolations of the monastic life," says a Jesuit
authority, "is the assurance we have that in obeying we can commit no
fault.  The Superior may commit a fault in commanding you to do this
thing or that, but you are certain that you commit no fault so long as
you obey, because God will only ask you if you have duly performed what
orders you received, and if you can furnish a clear account in that
respect, you are absolved entirely.  Whether the things you did were
opportune, or whether there were not something better that might have
been done, these are questions not asked of you, but rather of your
Superior.  The moment what you did was done obediently, God wipes it
out of your account, and charges it to the Superior. So that Saint
Jerome well exclaimed, in celebrating the advantages of obedience, 'Oh,
sovereign liberty! Oh, holy and blessed security by which one become
almost impeccable!'

"Saint John Climachus is of the same sentiment when he calls obedience
an excuse before God.  In fact, when God asks why you have done this or
that, and you reply, it is because I was so ordered by my Superiors,
God will ask for no other excuse.  As a passenger in a good vessel with
a good pilot need give himself no farther concern, but may go to sleep
in peace, because the pilot has charge over all, and 'watches for him';
so a religious person who lives under the yoke of obedience goes to
heaven as if while sleeping, that is, while leaning entirely on the
conduct of his Superiors, who are the pilots of his vessel, and keep
watch for him continually.  It is no small thing, of a truth, to be
able to cross the stormy sea of life on the shoulders and in the arms
of another, yet that is just the grace which God accords to those who
live under the yoke of obedience.  Their Superior bears all their
burdens.... A certain grave doctor said that he would rather spend his
life in picking up straws by obedience, than by his own responsible
choice busy himself with the loftiest works of charity, because one is
certain of following the will of God in whatever one may do from
obedience, but never certain in the same degree of anything which we
may do of our own proper movement."[187]

[187] Alfonso Rodriguez, S. J.:  Pratique de la Perfection Chretienne,
Part iii., Treatise v., ch. x.

One should read the letters in which Ignatius Loyola recommends
obedience as the backbone of his order, if one would gain insight into
the full spirit of its cult.[188] They are too long to quote; but
Ignatius's belief is so vividly expressed in a couple of sayings
reported by companions that, though they have been so often cited, I
will ask your permission to copy them once more:--

[188] Letters li. and cxx.  of the collection translated into French by
Bouix, Paris, 1870.

"I ought," an early biographer reports him as saying, "on entering
religion, and thereafter, to place myself entirely in the hands of God,
and of him who takes His place by His authority. I ought to desire that
my Superior should oblige me to give up my own judgment, and conquer my
own mind.  I ought to set up no difference between one Superior and
another, ... but recognize them all as equal before God, whose place
they fill.  For if I distinguish persons, I weaken the spirit of
obedience.  In the hands of my Superior, I must be a soft wax, a thing,
from which he is to require whatever pleases him, be it to write or
receive letters, to speak or not to speak to such a person, or the
like; and I must put all my fervor in executing zealously and exactly
what I am ordered.  I must consider myself as a corpse which has
neither intelligence nor will; be like a mass of matter which without
resistance lets itself be placed wherever it may please any one; like a
stick in the hand of an old man, who uses it according to his needs and
places it where it suits him.  So must I be under the hands of the
Order, to serve it in the way it judges most useful.

"I must never ask of the Superior to be sent to a particular place, to
be employed in a particular duty.... I must consider nothing as
belonging to me personally, and as regards the things I use, be like a
statue which lets itself be stripped and never opposes resistance."[189]

[189] Bartoli-Michel, ii. 13

The other saying is reported by Rodriguez in the chapter from which I a
moment ago made quotations.  When speaking of the Pope's authority,
Rodriguez writes:--

"Saint Ignatius said, when general of his company, that if the Holy
Father were to order him to set sail in the first bark which he might
find in the port of Ostia, near Rome, and to abandon himself to the
sea, without a mast, without sails, without oars or rudder or any of
the things that are needful for navigation or subsistence, he would
obey not only with alacrity, but without anxiety or repugnance, and
even with a great internal satisfaction."[190]

[190] Rodriguez:  Op. cit., Part iii., Treatise v., ch. vi.

With a solitary concrete example of the extravagance to which the
virtue we are considering has been carried, I will pass to the topic
next in order.

"Sister Marie Claire [of Port Royal] had been greatly imbued with the
holiness and excellence of M.  de Langres.  This prelate, soon after he
came to Port Royal, said to her one day, seeing her so tenderly
attached to Mother Angelique, that it would perhaps be better not to
speak to her again.  Marie Claire, greedy of obedience, took this
inconsiderate word for an oracle of God, and from that day forward
remained for several years without once speaking to her sister."[191]

[191] Sainte-Beuve:  Histoire de Port Royal, i. 346.

Our next topic shall be Poverty, felt at all times and under all creeds
as one adornment of a saintly life.  Since the instinct of ownership is
fundamental in man's nature, this is one more example of the ascetic
paradox.  Yet it appears no paradox at all, but perfectly reasonable,
the moment one recollects how easily higher excitements hold lower
cupidities in check.  Having just quoted the Jesuit Rodriguez on the
subject of obedience, I will, to give immediately a concrete turn to
our discussion of poverty, also read you a page from his chapter on
this latter virtue.  You must remember that he is writing instructions
for monks of his own order, and bases them all on the text, "Blessed
are the poor in spirit."

"If any one of you," he says, "will know whether or not he is really
poor in spirit, let him consider whether he loves the ordinary
consequences and effects of poverty, which are hunger, thirst, cold,
fatigue, and the denudation of all conveniences.  See if you are glad
to wear a worn-out habit full of patches.  See if you are glad when
something is lacking to your meal, when you are passed by in serving
it, when what you receive is distasteful to you, when your cell is out
of repair.  If you are not glad of these things, if instead of loving
them you avoid them, then there is proof that you have not attained the
perfection of poverty of spirit."  Rodriguez then goes on to describe
the practice of poverty in more detail.  "The first point is that which
Saint Ignatius proposes in his constitutions, when he says, 'Let no one
use anything as if it were his private possession.' 'A religious
person,' he says, 'ought in respect to all the things that he uses, to
be like a statue which one may drape with clothing, but which feels no
grief and makes no resistance when one strips it again.  It is in this
way that you should feel towards your clothes, your books, your cell,
and everything else that you make use of; if ordered to quit them, or
to exchange them for others, have no more sorrow than if you were a
statue being uncovered. In this way you will avoid using them as if
they were your private possession.  But if, when you give up your cell,
or yield possession of this or that object or exchange it for another,
you feel repugnance and are not like a statue, that shows that you view
these things as if they were your private property.'

"And this is why our holy founder wished the superiors to test their
monks somewhat as God tested Abraham, and to put their poverty and
their obedience to trial, that by this means they may become acquainted
with the degree of their virtue, and gain a chance to make ever farther
progress in perfection, ... making the one move out of his room when he
finds it comfortable and is attached to it; taking away from another a
book of which he is fond; or obliging a third to exchange his garment
for a worse one.  Otherwise we should end by acquiring a species of
property in all these several objects, and little by little the wall of
poverty that surrounds us and constitutes our principal defense would
be thrown down.  The ancient fathers of the desert used often thus to
treat their companions.... Saint Dositheus, being sick-nurse, desired a
certain knife, and asked Saint Dorotheus for it, not for his private
use, but for employment in the infirmary of which he had charge.
Whereupon Saint Dorotheus answered him:  'Ha! Dositheus, so that knife
pleases you so much!  Will you be the slave of a knife or the slave of
Jesus Christ! Do you not blush with shame at wishing that a knife
should be your master?  I will not let you touch it.' Which reproach
and refusal had such an effect upon the holy disciple that since that
time he never touched the knife again.' .  .  .

"Therefore, in our rooms," Father Rodriguez continues, "there must be
no other furniture than a bed, a table, a bench, and a candlestick,
things purely necessary, and nothing more.  It is not allowed among us
that our cells should be ornamented with pictures or aught else,
neither armchairs, carpets, curtains, nor any sort of cabinet or bureau
of any elegance.  Neither is it allowed us to keep anything to eat,
either for ourselves or for those who may come to visit us.  We must
ask permission to go to the refectory even for a glass of water; and
finally we may not keep a book in which we can write a line, or which
we may take away with us.  One cannot deny that thus we are in great

But this poverty is at the same time a great repose and a great
perfection.  For it would be inevitable, in case a religious person
were allowed to own supernuous possessions, that these things would
greatly occupy his mind, be it to acquire them, to preserve them, or to
increase them; so that in not permitting us at all to own them, all
these inconveniences are remedied. Among the various good reasons why
the company forbids secular persons to enter our cells, the principal
one is that thus we may the easier be kept in poverty.  After all, we
are all men, and if we were to receive people of the world into our
rooms, we should not have the strength to remain within the bounds
prescribed, but should at least wish to adorn them with some books to
give the visitors a better opinion of our scholarship."[192]

[192] Rodriguez:  Op. cit., Part iii, Treatise iii., chaps. vi., vii.

Since Hindu fakirs, Buddhist monks, and Mohammedan dervishes unite with
Jesuits and Franciscans in idealizing poverty as the loftiest
individual state, it is worth while to examine into the spiritual
grounds for such a seemingly unnatural opinion.  And first, of those
which lie closest to common human nature.

The opposition between the men who HAVE and the men who ARE is
immemorial.  Though the gentleman, in the old- fashioned sense of the
man who is well born, has usually in point of fact been predaceous and
reveled in lands and goods, yet he has never identified his essence
with these possessions, but rather with the personal superiorities, the
courage, generosity, and pride supposed to be his birthright.  To
certain huckstering kinds of consideration he thanked God he was
forever inaccessible, and if in life's vicissitudes he should become
destitute through their lack, he was glad to think that with his sheer
valor he was all the freer to work out his salvation.  "Wer nur selbst
was hatte," says Lessing's Tempelherr, in Nathan the Wise, "mein Gott,
mein Gott, ich habe nichts!"  This ideal of the well-born man without
possessions was embodied in knight-errantry and templardom; and,
hideously corrupted as it has always been, it still dominates
sentimentally, if not practically, the military and aristocratic view
of life.  We glorify the soldier as the man absolutely unincumbered.
Owning nothing but his bare life, and willing to toss that up at any
moment when the cause commands him, he is the representative of
unhampered freedom in ideal directions.  The laborer who pays with his
person day by day, and has no rights invested in the future, offers
also much of this ideal detachment.  Like the savage, he may make his
bed wherever his right arm can support him, and from his simple and
athletic attitude of observation, the property-owner seems buried and
smothered in ignoble externalities and trammels, "wading in straw and
rubbish to his knees."  The claims which THINGS make are corrupters of
manhood, mortgages on the soul, and a drag anchor on our progress
towards the empyrean.

"Everything I meet with," writes Whitefield, "seems to carry this voice
with it--'Go thou and preach the Gospel; be a pilgrim on earth; have no
party or certain dwelling place.' My heart echoes back, 'Lord Jesus,
help me to do or suffer thy will. When thou seest me in danger of
NESTLING--in pity--in tender pity--put a THORN in my nest to prevent me
from it.'"[193]

[193] R. Philip:  The Life and Times of George Whitefield, London,
1842, p. 366.

The loathing of "capital" with which our laboring classes today are
growing more and more infected seems largely composed of this sound
sentiment of antipathy for lives based on mere having.  As an anarchist
poet writes:--

"Not by accumulating riches, but by giving away that which you have,

"Shall you become beautiful;

"You must undo the wrappings, not case yourself in fresh ones;

"Not by multiplying clothes shall you make your body sound and healthy,
but rather by discarding them .  .  .

"For a soldier who is going on a campaign does not seek what fresh
furniture he can carry on his back, but rather what he can leave behind;

"Knowing well that every additional thing which he cannot freely use
and handle is an impediment."[194]

[194] Edward Carpenter:  Towards Democracy, p. 362, abridged.

In short, lives based on having are less free than lives based either
on doing or on being, and in the interest of action people subject to
spiritual excitement throw away possessions as so many clogs.  Only
those who have no private interests can follow an ideal straight away.
Sloth and cowardice creep in with every dollar or guinea we have to
guard.  When a brother novice came to Saint Francis, saying:  "Father,
it would be a great consolation to me to own a psalter, but even
supposing that our general should concede to me this indulgence, still
I should like also to have your consent," Francis put him off with the
examples of Charlemagne, Roland, and Oliver, pursuing the infidels in
sweat and labor, and finally dying on the field of battle.  "So care
not," he said, "for owning books and knowledge, but care rather for
works of goodness."  And when some weeks later the novice came again to
talk of his craving for the psalter, Francis said: "After you have got
your psalter you will crave a breviary; and after you have got your
breviary you will sit in your stall like a grand prelate, and will say
to your brother:  "Hand me my breviary.".  .  . And thenceforward he
denied all such requests, saying:  A man possesses of learning only so
much as comes out of him in action, and a monk is a good preacher only
so far as his deeds proclaim him such, for every tree is known by its

[195] Speculum Perfectionis, ed.  P. Sabatier, Paris, 1898, pp.  10, 13.

But beyond this more worthily athletic attitude involved in doing and
being, there is, in the desire of not having, something profounder
still, something related to that fundamental mystery of religious
experience, the satisfaction found in absolute surrender to the larger
power.  So long as any secular safeguard is retained, so long as any
residual prudential guarantee is clung to, so long the surrender is
incomplete, the vital crisis is not passed, fear still stands sentinel,
and mistrust of the divine obtains:  we hold by two anchors, looking to
God, it is true, after a fashion, but also holding by our proper
machinations.  In certain medical experiences we have the same critical
point to overcome.  A drunkard, or a morphine or cocaine maniac, offers
himself to be cured.  He appeals to the doctor to wean him from his
enemy, but he dares not face blank abstinence.  The tyrannical drug is
still an anchor to windward:  he hides supplies of it among his
clothing; arranges secretly to have it smuggled in in case of need.
Even so an incompletely regenerate man still trusts in his own
expedients.  His money is like the sleeping potion which the
chronically wakeful patient keeps beside his bed; he throws himself on
God, but IF he should need the other help, there it will be also.
Every one knows cases of this incomplete and ineffective desire for
reform-drunkards whom, with all their self-reproaches and resolves, one
perceives to be quite unwilling seriously to contemplate NEVER being
drunk again!  Really to give up anything on which we have relied, to
give it up definitely, "for good and all" and forever, signifies one of
those radical alterations of character which came under our notice in
the lectures on conversion. In it the inner man rolls over into an
entirely different position of equilibrium, lives in a new centre of
energy from this time on, and the turning-point and hinge of all such
operations seems usually to involve the sincere acceptance of certain
nakednesses and destitutions.

Accordingly, throughout the annals of the saintly life, we find this
ever-recurring note:  Fling yourself upon God's providence without
making any reserve whatever--take no thought for the morrow--sell all
you have and give it to the poor--only when the sacrifice is ruthless
and reckless will the higher safety really arrive.  As a concrete
example let me read a page from the biography of Antoinette Bourignon,
a good woman, much persecuted in her day by both Protestants and
Catholics, because she would not take her religion at second hand.
When a young girl, in her father's house--

"She spent whole nights in prayer, oft repeating:  Lord, what wilt thou
have me to do?  And being one night in a most profound penitence, she
said from the bottom of her heart:  'O my Lord!  What must I do to
please thee?  For I have nobody to teach me.  Speak to my soul and it
will hear thee.' At that instant she heard, as if another had spoke
within her:  Forsake all earthly things.  Separate thyself from the
love of the creatures. Deny thyself.  She was quite astonished, not
understanding this language, and mused long on these three points,
thinking how she could fulfill them.  She thought she could not live
without earthly things, nor without loving the creatures, nor without
loving herself.  Yet she said, 'By thy Grace I will do it, Lord!' But
when she would perform her promise, she knew not where to begin.
Having thought on the religious in monasteries, that they forsook all
earthly things by being shut up in a cloister, and the love of
themselves by subjecting of their wills, she asked leave of her father
to enter into a cloister of the barefoot Carmelites, but he would not
permit it, saying he would rather see her laid in her grave.  This
seemed to her a great cruelty, for she thought to find in the cloister
the true Christians she had been seeking, but she found afterwards that
he knew the cloisters better than she, for after he had forbidden her,
and told her he would never permit her to be a religious, nor give her
any money to enter there, yet she went to Father Laurens, the Director,
and offered to serve in the monastery and work hard for her bread, and
be content with little, if he would receive her.  At which he smiled
and said:  That cannot be.  We must have money to build; we take no
maids without money; you must find the way to get it, else there is no
entry here.

"This astonished her greatly, and she was thereby undeceived as to the
cloisters, resolving to forsake all company and live alone till it
should please God to show her what she ought to do and whither to go.
She asked always earnestly, 'When shall I be perfectly thine, O my
God?' And she thought he still answered her, When thou shalt no longer
possess anything, and shalt die to thyself.  'And where shall I do
that, Lord?' He answered her, In the desert.  This made so strong an
impression on her soul that she aspired after this; but being a maid of
eighteen years only, she was afraid of unlucky chances, and was never
used to travel, and knew no way.  She laid aside all these doubts and
said, 'Lord, thou wilt guide me how and where it shall please thee.  It
is for thee that I do it.  I will lay aside my habit of a maid, and
will take that of a hermit that I may pass unknown.' Having then
secretly made ready this habit, while her parents thought to have
married her, her father having promised her to a rich French merchant,
she prevented the time, and on Easter evening, having cut her hair, put
on the habit, and slept a little, she went out of her chamber about
four in the morning, taking nothing but one penny to buy bread for that
day.  And it being said to her in going out, Where is thy faith?  in a
penny?  she threw it away, begging pardon of God for her fault, and
saying, 'No, Lord, my faith is not in a penny, but in thee alone.'
Thus she went away wholly delivered from the heavy burthen of the cares
and good things of this world, and found her soul so satisfied that she
no longer wished for anything upon earth, resting entirely upon God,
with this only fear lest she should be discovered and be obliged to
return home; for she felt already more content in this poverty than she
had done for all her life in all the delights of the world."[196]

[196] An Apology for M. Antonia Bourignon, London, 1699, pp. 269, 270,

Another example from Starbuck's MS. collection:--

"At a meeting held at six the next morning, I heard a man relate his
experience.  He said:  The Lord asked him if he would confess Christ
among the quarrymen with whom he worked, and he said he would.  Then he
asked him if he would give up to be used of the Lord the four hundred
dollars he had laid up, and he said he would and thus the Lord saved
him.  The thought came to me at once that I had never made a real
consecration either of myself or of my property to the Lord, but had
always tried to serve the Lord in my way.  Now the Lord asked me if I
would serve him in HIS way, and go out alone and penniless if he so
ordered.  The question was pressed home, and I must decide:  To forsake
all and have him, or have all and lose him!  I soon decided to take
him; and the blessed assurance came, that he had taken me for his own,
and my joy was full.  I returned home from the meeting with feelings as
simple as a child.  I thought all would be glad to hear of the joy of
the Lord that possessed me, and so I began to tell the simple story.
But to my great surprise, the pastors (for I attended meetings in three
churches) opposed the experience and said it was fanaticism, and one
told the members of his church to shun those that professed it, and I
soon found that my foes were those of my own household."

The penny was a small financial safeguard, but an effective spiritual
obstacle.  Not till it was thrown away could the character settle into
the new equilibrium completely.

Over and above the mystery of self-surrender, there are in the cult of
poverty other religious mysteries.  There is the mystery of veracity:
"Naked came I into the world," etc.-- whoever first said that,
possessed this mystery.  My own bare entity must fight the
battle--shams cannot save me.  There is also the mystery of democracy,
or sentiment of the equality before God of all his creatures.  This
sentiment (which seems in general to have been more widespread in
Mohammedan than in Christian lands) tends to nullify man's usual
acquisitiveness.  Those who have it spurn dignities and honors,
privileges and advantages, preferring, as I said in a former lecture,
to grovel on the common level before the face of God.  It is not
exactly the sentiment of humility, though it comes so close to it in
practice.  It is HUMANITY, rather, refusing to enjoy anything that
others do not share. A profound moralist, writing of Christ's saying,
"Sell all thou hast and follow me," proceeds as follows:--

"Christ may have meant:  If you love mankind absolutely you will as a
result not care for any possessions whatever, and this seems a very
likely proposition.  But it is one thing to believe that a proposition
is probably true; it is another thing to see it as a fact.  If you
loved mankind as Christ loved them, you would see his conclusion as a
fact.  It would be obvious.  You would sell your goods, and they would
be no loss to you.  These truths, while literal to Christ, and to any
mind that has Christ's love for mankind, become parables to lesser
natures.  There are in every generation people who, beginning
innocently, with no predetermined intention of becoming saints, find
themselves drawn into the vortex by their interest in helping mankind,
and by the understanding that comes from actually doing it.  The
abandonment of their old mode of life is like dust in the balance.  It
is done gradually, incidentally, imperceptibly.  Thus the whole
question of the abandonment of luxury is no question at all, but a mere
incident to another question, namely, the degree to which we abandon
ourselves to the remorseless logic of our love for others."[197]

[197] J. J. Chapman, in the Political Nursery, vol. iv. p. 4, April,
1900, abridged.

But in all these matters of sentiment one must have "been there" one's
self in order to understand them.  No American can ever attain to
understanding the loyalty of a Briton towards his king, of a German
towards his emperor; nor can a Briton or German ever understand the
peace of heart of an American in having no king, no Kaiser, no spurious
nonsense, between him and the common God of all.  If sentiments as
simple as these are mysteries which one must receive as gifts of birth,
how much more is this the case with those subtler religious sentiments
which we have been considering!  One can never fathom an emotion or
divine its dictates by standing outside of it.  In the glowing hour of
excitement, however, all incomprehensibilities are solved, and what was
so enigmatical from without becomes transparently obvious.  Each
emotion obeys a logic of its own, and makes deductions which no other
logic can draw.  Piety and charity live in a different universe from
worldly lusts and fears, and form another centre of energy altogether.
As in a supreme sorrow lesser vexations may become a consolation; as a
supreme love may turn minor sacrifices into gain; so a supreme trust
may render common safeguards odious, and in certain glows of generous
excitement it may appear unspeakably mean to retain one's hold of
personal possessions.  The only sound plan, if we are ourselves outside
the pale of such emotions, is to observe as well as we are able those
who feel them, and to record faithfully what we observe; and this, I
need hardly say, is what I have striven to do in these last two
descriptive lectures, which I now hope will have covered the ground
sufficiently for our present needs.

Lectures XIV and XV


We have now passed in review the more important of the phenomena which
are regarded as fruits of genuine religion and characteristics of men
who are devout.  Today we have to change our attitude from that of
description to that of appreciation; we have to ask whether the fruits
in question can help us to judge the absolute value of what religion
adds to human life.  Were I to parody Kant, I should say that a
"Critique of pure Saintliness" must be our theme.

If, in turning to this theme, we could descend upon our subject from
above like Catholic theologians, with our fixed definitions of man and
man's perfection and our positive dogmas about God, we should have an
easy time of it.  Man's perfection would be the fulfillment of his end;
and his end would be union with his Maker.  That union could be pursued
by him along three paths, active, purgative, and contemplative,
respectively; and progress along either path would be a simple matter
to measure by the application of a limited number of theological and
moral conceptions and definitions.  The absolute significance and value
of any bit of religious experience we might hear of would thus be given
almost mathematically into our hands.

If convenience were everything, we ought now to grieve at finding
ourselves cut off from so admirably convenient a method as this.  But
we did cut ourselves off from it deliberately in those remarks which
you remember we made, in our first lecture, about the empirical method;
and it must be {321} confessed that after that act of renunciation we
can never hope for clean-cut and scholastic results.  WE cannot divide
man sharply into an animal and a rational part.  WE cannot distinguish
natural from supernatural effects; nor among the latter know which are
favors of God, and which are counterfeit operations of the demon.  WE
have merely to collect things together without any special a priori
theological system, and out of an aggregate of piecemeal judgments as
to the value of this and that experience--judgments in which our
general philosophic prejudices, our instincts, and our common sense are
our only guides--decide that ON THE WHOLE one type of religion is
approved by its fruits, and another type condemned.  "On the whole"--I
fear we shall never escape complicity with that qualification, so dear
to your practical man, so repugnant to your systematizer!

I also fear that as I make this frank confession, I may seem to some of
you to throw our compass overboard, and to adopt caprice as our pilot.
Skepticism or wayward choice, you may think, can be the only results of
such a formless method as I have taken up.  A few remarks in
deprecation of such an opinion, and in farther explanation of the
empiricist principles which I profess, may therefore appear at this
point to be in place.

Abstractly, it would seem illogical to try to measure the worth of a
religion's fruits in merely human terms of value. How CAN you measure
their worth without considering whether the God really exists who is
supposed to inspire them?  If he really exists, then all the conduct
instituted by men to meet his wants must necessarily be a reasonable
fruit of his religion--it would be unreasonable only in case he did not
exist.  If, for instance, you were to condemn a religion of human or
animal sacrifices by virtue of your subjective sentiments, and if all
the while a deity were really there demanding such sacrifices, you
would be making a theoretical mistake by tacitly assuming that the
deity must be non-existent; you would be setting up a theology of your
own as much as if you were a scholastic philosopher.

To this extent, to the extent of disbelieving peremptorily in certain
types of deity, I frankly confess that we must be theologians.  If
disbeliefs can be said to constitute a theology, then the prejudices,
instincts, and common sense which I chose as our guides make
theological partisans of us whenever they make certain beliefs

But such common-sense prejudices and instincts are themselves the fruit
of an empirical evolution.  Nothing is more striking than the secular
alteration that goes on in the moral and religious tone of men, as
their insight into nature and their social arrangements progressively
develop.  After an interval of a few generations the mental climate
proves unfavorable to notions of the deity which at an earlier date
were perfectly satisfactory: the older gods have fallen below the
common secular level, and can no longer be believed in.  Today a deity
who should require bleeding sacrifices to placate him would be too
sanguinary to be taken seriously.  Even if powerful historical
credentials were put forward in his favor, we would not look at them.
Once, on the contrary, his cruel appetites were of themselves

They positively recommended him to men's imaginations in ages when such
coarse signs of power were respected and no others could be understood.
Such deities then were worshiped because such fruits were relished.

Doubtless historic accidents always played some later part, but the
original factor in fixing the figure of the gods must always have been
psychological.  The deity to whom the prophets, seers, and devotees who
founded the particular cult bore witness was worth something to them
personally. They could use him.  He guided their imagination, warranted
their hopes, and controlled their will--or else they required him as a
safeguard against the demon and a curber of other people's crimes.  In
any case, they chose him for the value of the fruits he seemed to them
to yield.

So soon as the fruits began to seem quite worthless; so soon as they
conflicted with indispensable human ideals, or thwarted too extensively
other values; so soon as they appeared childish, contemptible, or
immoral when reflected on, the deity grew discredited, and was erelong
neglected and forgotten.  It was in this way that the Greek and Roman
gods ceased to be believed in by educated pagans; it is thus that we
ourselves judge of the Hindu, Buddhist, and Mohammedan theologies;
Protestants have so dealt with the Catholic notions of deity, and
liberal Protestants with older Protestant notions; it is thus that
Chinamen judge of us, and that all of us now living will be judged by
our descendants.  When we cease to admire or approve what the
definition of a deity implies, we end by deeming that deity incredible.

Few historic changes are more curious than these mutations of
theological opinion.  The monarchical type of sovereignty was, for
example, so ineradicably planted in the mind of our own forefathers
that a dose of cruelty and arbitrariness in their deity seems
positively to have been required by their imagination.  They called the
cruelty "retributive justice," and a God without it would certainly
have struck them as not "sovereign" enough.  But today we abhor the
very notion of eternal suffering inflicted; and that arbitrary
dealing-out of salvation and damnation to selected individuals, of
which Jonathan Edwards could persuade himself that he had not only a
conviction, but a "delightful conviction," as of a doctrine "exceeding
pleasant, bright, and sweet," appears to us, if sovereignly anything,
sovereignly irrational and mean.  Not only the cruelty, but the
paltriness of character of the gods believed in by earlier centuries
also strikes later centuries with surprise.  We shall see examples of
it from the annals of Catholic saintship which makes us rub our
Protestant eyes.  Ritual worship in general appears to the modern
transcendentalist, as well as to the ultra-puritanic type of mind, as
if addressed to a deity of an almost absurdly childish character,
taking delight in toy-shop furniture, tapers and tinsel, costume and
mumbling and mummery, and finding his "glory" incomprehensibly enhanced
thereby:--just as on the other hand the formless spaciousness of
pantheism appears quite empty to ritualistic natures, and the gaunt
theism of evangelical sects seems intolerably bald and chalky and bleak.

Luther, says Emerson, would have cut off his right hand rather than
nail his theses to the door at Wittenberg, if he had supposed that they
were destined to lead to the pale negations of Boston Unitarianism.

So far, then, although we are compelled, whatever may be our
pretensions to empiricism, to employ some sort of a standard of
theological probability of our own whenever we assume to estimate the
fruits of other men's religion, yet this very standard has been
begotten out of the drift of common life.  It is the voice of human
experience within us, judging and condemning all gods that stand
athwart the pathway along which it feels itself to be advancing.
Experience, if we take it in the largest sense, is thus the parent of
those disbeliefs which, it was charged, were inconsistent with the
experiential method.  The inconsistency, you see, is immaterial, and
the charge may be neglected.

If we pass from disbeliefs to positive beliefs, it seems to me that
there is not even a formal inconsistency to be laid against our method.
The gods we stand by are the gods we need and can use, the gods whose
demands on us are reinforcements of our demands on ourselves and on one
another. What I then propose to do is, briefly stated, to test
saintliness by common sense, to use human standards to help us decide
how far the religious life commends itself as an ideal kind of human
activity.  If it commends itself, then any theological beliefs that may
inspire it, in so far forth will stand accredited.  If not, then they
will be discredited, and all without reference to anything but human
working principles.  It is but the elimination of the humanly unfit,
and the survival of the humanly fittest, applied to religious beliefs;
and if we look at history candidly and without prejudice, we have to
admit that no religion has ever in the long run established or proved
itself in any other way.  Religions have APPROVED themselves; they have
ministered to sundry vital needs which they found reigning.  When they
violated other needs too strongly, or when other faiths came which
served the same needs better, the first religions were supplanted.

The needs were always many, and the tests were never sharp.  So the
reproach of vagueness and subjectivity and "on the whole"-ness, which
can with perfect legitimacy be addressed to the empirical method as we
are forced to use it, is after all a reproach to which the entire life
of man in dealing with these matters is obnoxious.  No religion has
ever yet owed its prevalence to "apodictic certainty."    In a later
lecture I will ask whether objective certainty can ever be added by
theological reasoning to a religion that already empirically prevails.

One word, also, about the reproach that in following this sort of an
empirical method we are handing ourselves over to systematic skepticism.

Since it is impossible to deny secular alterations in our sentiments
and needs, it would be absurd to affirm that one's own age of the world
can be beyond correction by the next age.  Skepticism cannot,
therefore, be ruled out by any set of thinkers as a possibility against
which their conclusions are secure; and no empiricist ought to claim
exemption from this universal liability.  But to admit one's liability
to correction is one thing, and to embark upon a sea of wanton doubt is
another.  Of willfully playing into the hands of skepticism we cannot
be accused.  He who acknowledges the imperfectness of his instrument,
and makes allowance {326} for it in discussing his observations, is in
a much better position for gaining truth than if he claimed his
instrument to be infallible.  Or is dogmatic or scholastic theology
less doubted in point of fact for claiming, as it does, to be in point
of right undoubtable?  And if not, what command over truth would this
kind of theology really lose if, instead of absolute certainty, she
only claimed reasonable probability for her conclusions?  If WE claim
only reasonable probability, it will be as much as men who love the
truth can ever at any given moment hope to have within their grasp.
Pretty surely it will be more than we could have had, if we were
unconscious of our liability to err.

Nevertheless, dogmatism will doubtless continue to condemn us for this
confession.  The mere outward form of inalterable certainty is so
precious to some minds that to renounce it explicitly is for them out
of the question.  They will claim it even where the facts most patently
pronounce its folly.  But the safe thing is surely to recognize that
all the insights of creatures of a day like ourselves must be
provisional. The wisest of critics is an altering being, subject to the
better insight of the morrow, and right at any moment, only "up to
date" and "on the whole." When larger ranges of truth open, it is
surely best to be able to open ourselves to their reception, unfettered
by our previous pretensions. "Heartily know, when half-gods go, the
gods arrive."

The fact of diverse judgments about religious phenomena is therefore
entirely unescapable, whatever may be one's own desire to attain the
irreversible.  But apart from that fact, a more fundamental question
awaits us, the question whether men's opinions ought to be expected to
be absolutely uniform in this field.  Ought all men to have the same
religion? Ought they to approve the same fruits and follow the same
leadings?  Are they so like in their inner needs that, for hard and
soft, for proud and humble, for strenuous and lazy, for healthy-minded
and despairing, exactly the same religious incentives are required?  Or
are different functions in the organism of humanity allotted to
different types of man, so that some may really be the better for a
religion of consolation and reassurance, whilst others are better for
one of terror and reproof?  It might conceivably be so; and we shall, I
think, more and more suspect it to be so as we go on. And if it be so,
how can any possible judge or critic help being biased in favor of the
religion by which his own needs are best met?  He aspires to
impartiality; but he is too close to the struggle not to be to some
degree a participant, and he is sure to approve most warmly those
fruits of piety in others which taste most good and prove most
nourishing to HIM.

I am well aware of how anarchic much of what I say may sound.
Expressing myself thus abstractly and briefly, I may seem to despair of
the very notion of truth.  But I beseech you to reserve your judgment
until we see it applied to the details which lie before us.  I do
indeed disbelieve that we or any other mortal men can attain on a given
day to absolutely incorrigible and unimprovable truth about such
matters of fact as those with which religions deal.  But I reject this
dogmatic ideal not out of a perverse delight in intellectual
instability.  I am no lover of disorder and doubt as such.  Rather do I
fear to lose truth by this pretension to possess it already wholly.
That we can gain more and more of it by moving always in the right
direction, I believe as much as any one, and I hope to bring you all to
my way of thinking before the termination of these lectures.  Till
then, do not, I pray you, harden your minds irrevocably against the
empiricism which I profess.

I will waste no more words, then, in abstract justification of my
method, but seek immediately to use it upon the facts.

In critically judging of the value of religious phenomena, it is very
important to insist on the distinction between religion as an
individual personal function, and religion as an institutional,
corporate, or tribal product.  I drew this distinction, you may
remember, in my second lecture.  The word "religion," as ordinarily
used, is equivocal.  A survey of history shows us that, as a rule,
religious geniuses attract disciples, and produce groups of
sympathizers.  When these groups get strong enough to "organize"
themselves, they become ecclesiastical institutions with corporate
ambitions of their own.  The spirit of politics and the lust of
dogmatic rule are then apt to enter and to contaminate the originally
innocent thing; so that when we hear the word "religion" nowadays, we
think inevitably of some "church" or other; and to some persons the
word "church" suggests so much hypocrisy and tyranny and meanness and
tenacity of superstition that in a wholesale undiscerning way they
glory in saying that they are "down" on religion altogether.  Even we
who belong to churches do not exempt other churches than our own from
the general condemnation.

But in this course of lectures ecclesiastical institutions hardly
concern us at all.  The religious experience which we are studying is
that which lives itself out within the private breast.  First-hand
individual experience of this kind has always appeared as a heretical
sort of innovation to those who witnessed its birth.  Naked comes it
into the world and lonely; and it has always, for a time at least,
driven him who had it into the wilderness, often into the literal
wilderness out of doors, where the Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, St.
Francis, George Fox, and so many others had to go.  George Fox
expresses well this isolation; and I can do no better at this point
than read to you a page from his Journal, referring to the period of
his youth when religion began to ferment within him seriously.

"I fasted much," Fox says, "walked abroad in solitary places many days,
and often took my Bible, and sat in hollow trees and lonesome places
until night came on; and frequently in the night walked mournfully
about by myself; for I was a man of sorrows in the time of the first
workings of the Lord in me.

"During all this time I was never joined in profession of religion with
any, but gave up myself to the Lord, having forsaken all evil company,
taking leave of father and mother, and all other relations, and
traveled up and down as a stranger on the earth, which way the Lord
inclined my heart; taking a chamber to myself in the town where I came,
and tarrying sometimes more, sometimes less in a place:  for I durst
not stay long in a place, being afraid both of professor and profane,
lest, being a tender young man, I should be hurt by conversing much
with either.  For which reason I kept much as a stranger, seeking
heavenly wisdom and getting knowledge from the Lord; and was brought
off from outward things, to rely on the Lord alone.  As I had forsaken
the priests, so I left the separate preachers also, and those called
the most experienced people; for I saw there was none among them all
that could speak to my condition.  And when all my hopes in them and in
all men were gone so that I had nothing outwardly to help me, nor could
tell what to do; then, oh then, I heard a voice which said, 'There is
one, even Jesus Christ, that can speak to thy condition.'  When I heard
it, my heart did leap for joy.  Then the Lord let me see why there was
none upon the earth that could speak to my condition. I had not
fellowship with any people, priests, nor professors, nor any sort of
separated people.  I was afraid of all carnal talk and talkers, for I
could see nothing but corruptions.  When I was in the deep, under all
shut up, I could not believe that I should ever overcome; my troubles,
my sorrows, and my temptations were so great that I often thought I
should have despaired, I was so tempted.  But when Christ opened to me
how he was tempted by the same devil, and had overcome him, and had
bruised his head; and that through him and his power, life, grace, and
spirit, I should overcome also, I had confidence in him.  If I had had
a king's diet, palace, and attendance, all would have been as nothing,
for nothing gave me comfort but the Lord by his power.  I saw
professors, priests, and people were whole and at ease in that
condition which was my misery, and they loved that which I would have
been rid of.  But the Lord did stay my desires upon himself, and my
care was cast upon him alone."[198]

[198] George Fox:  Journal, Philadelphia, 1800, pp. 59-61, abridged.

A genuine first-hand religious experience like this is bound to be a
heterodoxy to its witnesses, the prophet appearing as a mere lonely
madman.  If his doctrine prove contagious enough to spread to any
others, it becomes a definite and labeled heresy.  But if it then still
prove contagious enough to triumph over persecution, it becomes itself
an orthodoxy; and when a religion has become an orthodoxy, its day of
inwardness is over:  the spring is dry; the faithful live at second
hand exclusively and stone the prophets in their turn.  The new church,
in spite of whatever human goodness it may foster, can be henceforth
counted on as a staunch ally in every attempt to stifle the spontaneous
religious spirit, and to stop all later bubblings of the fountain from
which in purer days it drew its own supply of inspiration.  Unless,
indeed, by adopting new movements of the spirit it can make capital out
of them and use them for its selfish corporate designs! Of protective
action of this politic sort, promptly or tardily decided on, the
dealings of the Roman ecclesiasticism with many individual saints and
prophets yield examples enough for our instruction.

The plain fact is that men's minds are built, as has been often said,
in water-tight compartments.  Religious after a fashion, they yet have
many other things in them beside their religion, and unholy
entanglements and associations inevitably obtain.  The basenesses so
commonly charged to religion's account are thus, almost all of them,
not chargeable at all to religion proper, but rather to religion's
wicked practical partner, the spirit of corporate dominion.  And the
bigotries are most of them in their turn chargeable to religion's
wicked intellectual partner, the spirit of dogmatic dominion, the
passion for laying down the law in the form of an absolutely closed-in
theoretic system.  The ecclesiastical spirit in general is the sum of
these two spirits of dominion; and I beseech you never to confound the
phenomena of mere tribal or corporate psychology which it presents with
those manifestations of the purely interior life which are the
exclusive object of our study.  The baiting of Jews, the hunting of
Albigenses and Waldenses, the stoning of Quakers and ducking of
Methodists, the murdering of Mormons and the massacring of Armenians,
express much rather that aboriginal human neophobia, that pugnacity of
which we all share the vestiges, and that inborn hatred of the alien
and of eccentric and non-conforming men as aliens, than they express
the positive piety of the various perpetrators.  Piety is the mask, the
inner force is tribal instinct.  You believe as little as I do, in
spite of the Christian unction with which the German emperor addressed
his troops upon their way to China, that the conduct which he
suggested, and in which other Christian armies went beyond them, had
anything whatever to do with the interior religious life of those
concerned in the performance.

Well, no more for past atrocities than for this atrocity should we make
piety responsible.  At most we may blame piety for not availing to
check our natural passions, and sometimes for supplying them with
hypocritical pretexts. But hypocrisy also imposes obligations, and with
the pretext usually couples some restriction; and when the passion gust
is over, the piety may bring a reaction of repentance which the
irreligious natural man would not have shown.

For many of the historic aberrations which have been laid to her
charge, religion as such, then, is not to blame.  Yet of the charge
that over-zealousness or fanaticism is one of her liabilities we cannot
wholly acquit her, so I will next make a remark upon that point.  But I
will preface it by a preliminary remark which connects itself with much
that follows.

Our survey of the phenomena of saintliness has unquestionably produced
in your minds an impression of extravagance. Is it necessary, some of
you have asked, as one example after another came before us, to be
quite so fantastically good as that?  We who have no vocation for the
extremer ranges of sanctity will surely be let off at the last day if
our humility, asceticism, and devoutness prove of a less convulsive
sort.  This practically amounts to saying that much that it is
legitimate to admire in this field need nevertheless not be imitated,
and that religious phenomena, like all other human phenomena, are
subject to the law of the golden mean.  Political reformers accomplish
their successive tasks in the history of nations by being blind for the
time to other causes.  Great schools of art work out the effects which
it is their mission to reveal, at the cost of a one-sidedness for which
other schools must make amends.  We accept a John Howard, a Mazzini, a
Botticelli, a Michael Angelo, with a kind of indulgence.  We are glad
they existed to show us that way, but we are glad there are also other
ways of seeing and taking life.  So of many of the saints whom we have
looked at.  We are proud of a human nature that could be so
passionately extreme, but we shrink from advising others to follow the
example.  The conduct we blame ourselves for not following lies nearer
to the middle line of human effort. It is less dependent on particular
beliefs and doctrines.  It is such as wears well in different ages,
such as under different skies all judges are able to commend.

The fruits of religion, in other words, are, like all human products,
liable to corruption by excess.  Common sense must judge them.  It need
not blame the votary; but it may be able to praise him only
conditionally, as one who acts faithfully according to his lights.  He
shows us heroism in one way, but the unconditionally good way is that
for which no indulgence need be asked.

We find that error by excess is exemplified by every saintly virtue.
Excess, in human faculties, means usually one-sidedness or want of
balance; for it is hard to imagine an essential faculty too strong, if
only other faculties equally strong be there to cooperate with it in
action.  Strong affections need a strong will; strong active powers
need a strong intellect; strong intellect needs strong sympathies, to
keep life steady.  If the balance exist, no one faculty can possibly be
too strong--we only get the stronger all-round character.  In the life
of saints, technically so called, the spiritual faculties are strong,
but what gives the impression of extravagance proves usually on
examination to be a relative deficiency of intellect.  Spiritual
excitement takes pathological forms whenever other interests are too
few and the intellect too narrow.  We find this exemplified by all the
saintly attributes in turn--devout love of God, purity, charity,
asceticism, all may lead astray.  I will run over these virtues in

First of all let us take Devoutness.  When unbalanced, one of its vices
is called Fanaticism.  Fanaticism (when not a mere expression of
ecclesiastical ambition) is only loyalty carried to a convulsive
extreme.  When an intensely loyal and narrow mind is once grasped by
the feeling that a certain superhuman person is worthy of its exclusive
devotion, one of the first things that happens is that it idealizes the
devotion itself.  To adequately realize the merits of the idol gets to
be considered the one great merit of the worshiper; and the sacrifices
and servilities by which savage tribesmen have from time immemorial
exhibited their faithfulness to chieftains are now outbid in favor of
the deity.  Vocabularies are exhausted and languages altered in the
attempt to praise him enough; death is looked on as gain if it attract
his grateful notice; and the personal attitude of being his devotee
becomes what one might almost call a new and exalted kind of
professional specialty within the tribe.[199] The legends that gather
round the lives of holy persons are fruits of this impulse to celebrate
and glorify.  The Buddha[200] and Mohammed[201] and their companions
and many Christian saints are incrusted with a heavy jewelry of
anecdotes which are meant to be honorific, but are simply abgeschmackt
and silly, and form a touching expression of man's misguided propensity
to praise.

[199] Christian saints have had their specialties of devotion, Saint
Francis to Christ's wounds; Saint Anthony of Padua to Christ's
childhood; Saint Bernard to his humanity; Saint Teresa to Saint Joseph,
etc.  The Shi-ite Mohammedans venerate Ali, the Prophet's son-in-law,
instead of Abu-bekr, his brother-in-law.  Vambery describes a dervish
whom he met in Persia, "who had solemnly vowed, thirty years before,
that he would never employ his organs of speech otherwise but in
uttering, everlastingly, the name of his favorite, Ali, Ali.  He thus
wished to signify to the world that he was the most devoted partisan of
that Ali who had been dead a thousand years.  In his own home, speaking
with his wife, children, and friends, no other word but 'Ali!' ever
passed his lips.  If he wanted food or drink or anything else, he
expressed his wants still by repeating 'Ali!'  Begging or buying at the
bazaar, it was always 'Ali!'  Treated ill or generously, he would still
harp on his monotonous 'Ali!'  Latterly his zeal assumed such
tremendous proportions that, like a madman, he would race, the whole
day, up and down the streets of the town, throwing his stick high up
into the air, and shriek our, all the while, at the top of his voice,
'Ali!'  This dervish was venerated by everybody as a saint, and
received everywhere with the greatest distinction."  Arminius Vambery,
his Life and Adventures, written by Himself, London, 1889, p. 69.  On
the anniversary of the death of Hussein, Ali's son, the Shi-ite Moslems
still make the air resound with cries of his name and Ali's.

[200] Compare H. C. Warren:  Buddhism in Translation, Cambridge, U.S.,
1898, passim.

[201] Compare J. L. Merrick:  The Life and Religion of Mohammed, as
contained in the Sheeah traditions of the Hyat-ul-Kuloob, Boston. 1850,

An immediate consequence of this condition of mind is jealousy for the
deity's honor.  How can the devotee show his loyalty better than by
sensitiveness in this regard?  The slightest affront or neglect must be
resented, the deity's enemies must be put to shame.  In exceedingly
narrow minds and active wills, such a care may become an engrossing
preoccupation; and crusades have been preached and massacres instigated
for no other reason than to remove a fancied slight upon the God.
Theologies representing the gods as mindful of their glory, and
churches with imperialistic policies, have conspired to fan this temper
to a glow, so that intolerance and persecution have come to be vices
associated by some of us inseparably with the saintly mind. They are
unquestionably its besetting sins.  The saintly temper is a moral
temper, and a moral temper has often to be cruel.  It is a partisan
temper, and that is cruel.  Between his own and Jehovah's enemies a
David knows no difference; a Catherine of Siena, panting to stop the
warfare among Christians which was the scandal of her epoch, can think
of no better method of union among them than a crusade to massacre the
Turks; Luther finds no word of protest or regret over the atrocious
tortures with which the Anabaptist leaders were put to death; and a
Cromwell praises the Lord for delivering his enemies into his hands for
"execution."  Politics come in in all such cases; but piety finds the
partnership not quite unnatural.  So, when "freethinkers" tell us that
religion and fanaticism are twins, we cannot make an unqualified denial
of the charge.

Fanaticism must then be inscribed on the wrong side of religion's
account, so long as the religious person's intellect is on the stage
which the despotic kind of God satisfies.  But as soon as the God is
represented as less intent on his own honor and glory, it ceases to be
a danger.

Fanaticism is found only where the character is masterful and
aggressive.  In gentle characters, where devoutness is intense and the
intellect feeble, we have an imaginative absorption in the love of God
to the exclusion of all practical human interests, which, though
innocent enough, is too one-sided to be admirable.  A mind too narrow
has room but for one kind of affection.  When the love of God takes
possession of such a mind, it expels all human loves and human uses.
There is no English name for such a sweet excess of devotion, so I will
refer to it as a theopathic condition.

The blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque may serve as an example.

"To be loved here upon the earth," her recent biographer exclaims:  "to
be loved by a noble, elevated, distinguished being; to be loved with
fidelity, with devotion--what enchantment! But to be loved by God! and
loved by him to distraction [aime jusqu'a la folie]!--Margaret melted
away with love at the thought of such a thing.  Like Saint Philip of
Neri in former times, or like Saint Francis Xavier, she said to God:
'Hold back, O my God, these torrents which overwhelm me, or else
enlarge my capacity for their reception."[202]

[202] Bougaud:  Hist. de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, Paris, 1894,
p. 145.

The most signal proofs of God's love which Margaret Mary received were
her hallucinations of sight, touch, and hearing, and the most signal in
turn of these were the revelations of Christ's sacred heart,
"surrounded with rays more brilliant than the Sun, and transparent like
a crystal.  The wound which he received on the cross visibly appeared
upon it.  There was a crown of thorns round about this divine Heart,
and a cross above it."  At the same time Christ's voice told her that,
unable longer to contain the flames of his love for mankind, he had
chosen her by a miracle to spread the knowledge of them.  He thereupon
took out her mortal heart, placed it inside of his own and inflamed it,
and then replaced it in her breast, adding:  "Hitherto thou hast taken
the name of my slave, hereafter thou shalt be called the well-beloved
disciple of my Sacred Heart."

In a later vision the Saviour revealed to her in detail the "great
design" which he wished to establish through her instrumentality.  "I
ask of thee to bring it about that every first Friday after the week of
holy Sacrament shall be made into a special holy day for honoring my
Heart by a general communion and by services intended to make honorable
amends for the indignities which it has received.  And I promise thee
that my Heart will dilate to shed with abundance the influences of its
love upon all those who pay to it these honors, or who bring it about
that others do the same."

"This revelation," says Mgr. Bougaud, "is unquestionably the most
important of all the revelations which have illumined the Church since
that of the Incarnation and of the Lord's Supper....  After the
Eucharist, the supreme effort of the Sacred Heart."[203]  Well, what
were its good fruits for Margaret Mary's life?  Apparently little else
but sufferings and prayers and absences of mind and swoons and
ecstasies.  She became increasingly useless about the convent, her
absorption in Christ's love--

"which grew upon her daily, rendering her more and more incapable of
attending to external duties.  They tried her in the infirmary, but
without much success, although her kindness, zeal, and devotion were
without bounds, and her charity rose to acts of such a heroism that our
readers would not bear the recital of them.  They tried her in the
kitchen, but were forced to give it up as hopeless--everything dropped
out of her hands.  The admirable humility with which she made amends
for her clumsiness could not prevent this from being prejudicial to the
order and regularity which must always reign in a community. They put
her in the school, where the little girls cherished her, and cut pieces
out of her clothes [for relics] as if she were already a saint, but
where she was too absorbed inwardly to pay the necessary attention.
Poor dear sister, even less after her visions than before them was she
a denizen of earth, and they had to leave her in her heaven."[204]

[203] Bougaud:  Hist. de la bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, Paris, 1894,
pp. 365, 241.

[204] Bougaud:  Op. cit., p. 267.

Poor dear sister, indeed! Amiable and good, but so feeble of
intellectual outlook that it would be too much to ask of us, with our
Protestant and modern education, to feel anything but indulgent pity
for the kind of saintship which she embodies.  A lower example still of
theopathic saintliness is that of Saint Gertrude, a Benedictine nun of
the thirteenth century, whose "Revelations," a well-known mystical
authority, consist mainly of proofs of Christ's partiality for her
undeserving person.  Assurances of his love, intimacies and caresses
and compliments of the most absurd and puerile sort, addressed by
Christ to Gertrude as an individual, form the tissue of this
paltry-minded recital.[205] In reading such a narrative, we realize the
gap between the thirteenth and the twentieth century, and we feel that
saintliness of character may yield almost absolutely worthless fruits
if it be associated with such inferior intellectual sympathies.  What
with science, idealism, and democracy, our own imagination has grown to
need a God of an entirely different temperament from that Being
interested exclusively in dealing out personal favors, with whom our
ancestors were so contented.  Smitten as we are with the vision of
social righteousness, a God indifferent to everything but adulation,
and full of partiality for his individual favorites, lacks an essential
element of largeness; and even the best professional sainthood of
former centuries, pent in as it is to such a conception, seems to us
curiously shallow and unedifying.

[205] Examples:  "Suffering from a headache, she sought, for the glory
of God, to relieve herself by holding certain odoriferous substances in
her mouth, when the Lord appeared to her to lean over towards her
lovingly, and to find comfort Himself in these odors.  After having
gently breathed them in, He arose, and said with a gratified air to the
Saints, as if contented with what He had done: 'see the new present
which my betrothed has given Me!'

"One day, at chapel, she heard supernaturally sung the words 'Sanctus,
Sanctus, Sanctus.' The son of God leaning towards her like a sweet
lover, and giving to her soul the softest kiss, said to her at the
second Sanctus:  'In this Sanctus addressed to my person, receive with
this kiss all the sanctity of my divinity and of my humanity, and let
it be to thee a sufficient preparation for approaching the communion
table.' And the next following Sunday, while she was thanking God for
this favor, behold the Son of God, more beauteous than thousands of
angels, takes her in His arms as if He were proud of her and presents
her to God the Father, in that perfection of sanctity with which He had
dowered her.  And the Father took such delight in this soul thus
presented by His only son, that, as if unable longer to restrain
Himself, He gave her, and the Holy Ghost gave her also, the sanctity
attributed to each by His own Sanctus--and thus she remained endowed
with the plenary fullness of the blessing of Sanctity, bestowed on her
by Omnipotence, by Wisdom, and by Love."  Revelations de Sainte
Gertrude, Paris, 1898, i. 44, 186.

Take Saint Teresa, for example, one of the ablest women, in many
respects, of whose life we have the record.  She had a powerful
intellect of the practical order.  She wrote admirable descriptive
psychology, possessed a will equal to any emergency, great talent for
politics and business, a buoyant disposition, and a first-rate literary
style.  She was tenaciously aspiring, and put her whole life at the
service of her religious ideals.  Yet so paltry were these, according
to our present way of thinking, that (although I know that others have
been moved differently) I confess that my only feeling in reading her
has been pity that so much vitality of soul should have found such poor

In spite of the sufferings which she endured, there is a curious flavor
of superficiality about her genius.  A Birmingham anthropologist, Dr.
Jordan, has divided the human race into two types, whom he calls
"shrews" and "nonshrews" respectively.[206] The shrew-type is defined
as possessing an "active unimpassioned temperament."  In other words,
shrews are the "motors," rather than the "sensories,"[207] and their
expressions are as a rule more energetic than the feelings which appear
to prompt them.  Saint Teresa, paradoxical as such a judgment may
sound, was a typical shrew, in this sense of the term.  The bustle of
her style, as well as of her life, proves it.  Not only must she
receive unheard-of personal favors and spiritual graces from her
Saviour, but she must immediately write about them and exploiter them
professionally, and use her expertness to give instruction to those
less privileged.  Her voluble egotism; her sense, not of radical bad
being, as the really contrite have it, but of her "faults" and
"imperfections" in the plural; her stereotyped humility and return upon
herself, as covered with "confusion" at each new manifestation of God's
singular partiality for a person so unworthy, are typical of shrewdom:
a paramountly feeling nature would be objectively lost in gratitude,
and silent.  She had some public instincts, it is true; she hated the
Lutherans, and longed for the church's triumph over them; but in the
main her idea of religion seems to have been that of an endless amatory
flirtation--if one may say so without irreverence-- between the devotee
and the deity; and apart from helping younger nuns to go in this
direction by the inspiration of her example and instruction, there is
absolutely no human use in her, or sign of any general human interest.
Yet the spirit of her age, far from rebuking her, exalted her as

[206]  Furneaux Jordan:  Character in Birth and Parentage, first
edition. Later editions change the nomenclature.

[207] As to this distinction, see the admirably practical account in J.
M. Baldwin's little book, The Story of the Mind, 1898.

We have to pass a similar judgment on the whole notion of saintship
based on merits.  Any God who, on the one hand, can care to keep a
pedantically minute account of individual shortcomings, and on the
other can feel such partialities, and load particular creatures with
such insipid marks of favor, is too small-minded a God for our
credence.  When Luther, in his immense manly way, swept off by a stroke
of his hand the very notion of a debit and credit account kept with
individuals by the Almighty, he stretched the soul's imagination and
saved theology from puerility.

So much for mere devotion, divorced from the intellectual conceptions
which might guide it towards bearing useful human fruit.

The next saintly virtue in which we find excess is Purity.  In
theopathic characters, like those whom we have just considered, the
love of God must not be mixed with any other love.  Father and mother,
sisters, brothers, and friends are felt as interfering distractions;
for sensitiveness and narrowness, when they occur together, as they
often do, require above all things a simplified world to dwell in.
Variety and confusion are too much for their powers of comfortable
adaptation.  But whereas your aggressive pietist reaches his unity
objectively, by forcibly stamping disorder and divergence out, your
retiring pietist reaches his subjectively, leaving disorder in the
world at large, but making a smaller world in which he dwells himself
and from which he eliminates it altogether.  Thus, alongside of the
church militant with its prisons, dragonnades, and inquisition methods,
we have the church fugient, as one might call it, with its hermitages,
monasteries, and sectarian organizations, both churches pursuing the
same object--to unify the life,[208] and simplify the spectacle
presented to the soul.  A mind extremely sensitive to inner discords
will drop one external relation after another, as interfering with the
absorption of consciousness in spiritual things.  Amusements must go
first, then conventional "society," then business, then family duties,
until at last seclusion, with a subdivision of the day into hours for
stated religious acts, is the only thing that can be borne.  The lives
of saints are a history of successive renunciations of complication,
one form of contact with the outer life being dropped after another, to
save the purity of inner tone.[209] "Is it not better," a young sister
asks her Superior, "that I should not speak at all during the hour of
recreation, so as not to run the risk, by speaking, of falling into
some sin of which I might not be conscious?"[210]  If the life remains
a social one at all, those who take part in it must follow one
identical rule.

Embosomed in this monotony, the zealot for purity feels clean and free
once more.  The minuteness of uniformity maintained in certain
sectarian communities, whether monastic or not, is something almost
inconceivable to a man of the world.  Costume, phraseology, hours, and
habits are absolutely stereotyped, and there is no doubt that some
persons are so made as to find in this stability an incomparable kind
of mental rest.

[208] On this subject I refer to the work of M. Murisier (Les Maladies
du sentiment Religieux, Paris, 1901), who makes inner unification the
mainspring of the whole religious life.  But ALL strongly ideal
interests, religious or irreligious, unify the mind and tend to
subordinate everything to themselves.  One would infer from M.
Murisier's pages that this formal condition was peculiarly
characteristic of religion, and that one might in comparison almost
neglect material content, in studying the latter.  I trust that the
present work will convince the reader that religion has plenty of
material content which is characteristic and which is more important by
far than any general psychological form.  In spite of this criticism, I
find M. Murisier's book highly instructive.

[209] Example:  "At the first beginning of the Servitor's [Suso's]
interior life, after he had purified his soul properly by confession,
he marked out for himself, in thought, three circles, within which he
shut himself up, as in a spiritual intrenchment.  The first circle was
his cell, his chapel, and the choir.  When he was within this circle,
he seemed to himself in complete security.  The second circle was the
whole monastery as far as the outer gate.  The third and outermost
circle was the gate itself, and here it was necessary for him to stand
well upon his guard.  When he went outside these circles, it seemed to
him that he was in the plight of some wild animal which is outside its
hole, and surrounded by the hunt, and therefore in need of all its
cunning and watchfulness."  The Life of the Blessed Henry Suso, by
Himself, translated by Knox, London, 1865, p. 168.

[210] Vie des premieres Religieuses Dominicaines de la Congregation de
St. Dominique, a Nancy; Nancy, 1896, p. 129.

We have no time to multiply examples, so I will let the case of Saint
Louis of Gonzaga serve as a type of excess in purification.

I think you will agree that this youth carried the elimination of the
external and discordant to a point which we cannot unreservedly admire.
At the age of ten, his biographer says:--

"The inspiration came to him to consecrate to the Mother of God his own
virginity--that being to her the most agreeable of possible presents.
Without delay, then, and with all the fervor there was in him, joyous
of heart, and burning with love, he made his vow of perpetual chastity.
Mary accepted the offering of his innocent heart, and obtained for him
from God, as a recompense, the extraordinary grace of never feeling
during his entire life the slightest touch of temptation against the
virtue of purity.  This was an altogether exceptional favor, rarely
accorded even to Saints themselves, and all the more marvelous in that
Louis dwelt always in courts and among great folks, where danger and
opportunity are so unusually frequent.  It is true that Louis from his
earliest childhood had shown a natural repugnance for whatever might be
impure or unvirginal, and even for relations of any sort whatever
between persons of opposite sex.  But this made it all the more
surprising that he should, especially since this vow, feel it necessary
to have recourse to such a number of expedients for protecting against
even the shadow of danger the virginity which he had thus consecrated.
One might suppose that if any one could have contented himself with the
ordinary precautions, prescribed for all Christians, it would assuredly
have been he.  But no! In the use of preservatives and means of
defense, in flight from the most insignificant occasions, from every
possibility of peril, just as in the mortification of his flesh, he
went farther than the majority of saints.  He, who by an extraordinary
protection of God's grace was never tempted, measured all his steps as
if he were threatened on every side by particular dangers.
Thenceforward he never raised his eyes, either when walking in the
streets, or when in society.  Not only did he avoid all business with
females even more scrupulously than before, but he renounced all
conversation and every kind of social recreation with them, although
his father tried to make him take part; and he commenced only too early
to deliver his innocent body to austerities of every kind."[211]

[211] Meschler's Life of Saint Louis of Gonzaga, French translation by
Lebrequier, 1891, p. 40.

At the age of twelve, we read of this young man that "if by chance his
mother sent one of her maids of honor to him with a message, he never
allowed her to come in, but listened to her through the barely opened
door, and dismissed her immediately.  He did not like to be alone with
his own mother, whether at table or in conversation; and when the rest
of the company withdrew, he sought also a pretext for retiring....
Several great ladies, relatives of his, he avoided learning to know
even by sight; and he made a sort of treaty with his father, engaging
promptly and readily to accede to all his wishes, if he might only be
excused from all visits to ladies." [212]

[212] Ibid., p. 71.

When he was seventeen years old Louis joined the Jesuit order,[213]
against his father's passionate entreaties, for he was heir of a
princely house; and when a year later the father died, he took the loss
as a "particular attention" to himself on God's part, and wrote letters
of stilted good advice, as from a spiritual superior, to his grieving
mother.  He soon became so good a monk that if any one asked him the
number of his brothers and sisters, he had to reflect and count them
over before replying.  A Father asked him one day if he were never
troubled by the thought of his family, to which, "I never think of them
except when praying for them," was his only answer.  Never was he seen
to hold in his hand a flower or anything perfumed, that he might take
pleasure in it.  On the contrary, in the hospital, he used to seek for
whatever was most disgusting, and eagerly snatch the bandages of
ulcers, etc., from the hands of his companions.  He avoided worldly
talk, and immediately tried to turn every conversation on to pious
subjects, or else he remained silent.  He systematically refused to
notice his surroundings.  Being ordered one day to bring a book from
the rector's seat in the refectory, he had to ask where the rector sat,
for in the three months he had eaten bread there, so carefully did he
guard his eyes that he had not noticed the place.  One day, during
recess, having looked by chance on one of his companions, he reproached
himself as for a grave sin against modesty.  He cultivated silence, as
preserving from sins of the tongue; and his greatest penance was the
limit which his superiors set to his bodily penances.  He sought after
false accusations and unjust reprimands as opportunities of humility;
and such was his obedience that, when a room-mate, having no more
paper, asked him for a sheet, he did not feel free to give it to him
without first obtaining the permission of the superior, who, as such,
stood in the place of God, and transmitted his orders.

[213] In his boyish note-book he praises the monastic life for its
freedom from sin, and for the imperishable treasures, which it enables
us to store up, "of merit in God's eyes which makes of Him our debtor
for all Eternity."  Loc. cit., p. 62.

I can find no other sorts of fruit than these of Louis's saintship.  He
died in 1591, in his twenty-ninth year, and is known in the Church as
the patron of all young people.  On his festival, the altar in the
chapel devoted to him in a certain church in Rome "is embosomed in
flowers, arranged with exquisite taste; and a pile of letters may be
seen at its foot, written to the Saint by young men and women, and
directed to 'Paradiso.' They are supposed to be burnt unread except by
San Luigi, who must find singular petitions in these pretty little
missives, tied up now with a green ribbon, expressive of hope, now with
a red one, emblematic of love," etc.[214]

[214] Mademoiselle Mori, a novel quoted in Hare's Walks in Rome, 1900,
i. 55.

I cannot resist the temptation to quote from Starbuck's book, p.  388,
another case of purification by elimination.  It runs as follows:--

"The signs of abnormality which sanctified persons show are of frequent
occurrence.  They get out of tune with other people; often they will
have nothing to do with churches, which they regard as worldly; they
become hypercritical towards others; they grow careless of their
social, political, and financial obligations.  As an instance of this
type may be mentioned a woman of sixty-eight of whom the writer made a
special study.  She had been a member of one of the most active and
progressive churches in a busy part of a large city.  Her pastor
described her as having reached the censorious stage.  She had grown
more and more out of sympathy with the church; her connection with it
finally consisted simply in attendance at prayer-meeting, at which her
only message was that of reproof and condemnation of the others for
living on a low plane.  At last she withdrew from fellowship with any
church.  The writer found her living alone in a little room on the top
story of a cheap boarding-house quite out of touch with all human
relations, but apparently happy in the enjoyment of her own spiritual
blessings.  Her time was occupied in writing booklets on
sanctification--page after page of dreamy rhapsody.  She proved to be
one of a small group of persons who claim that entire salvation
involves three steps instead of two; not only must there be conversion
and sanctification, but a third, which they call 'crucifixion' or
'perfect redemption,' and which seems to bear the same relation to
sanctification that this bears to conversion.  She related how the
Spirit had said to her, 'Stop going to church.  Stop going to holiness
meetings.  Go to your own room and I will teach you.' She professes to
care nothing for colleges, or preachers, or churches, but only cares to
listen to what God says to her.  Her description of her experience
seemed entirely consistent; she is happy and contented, and her life is
entirely satisfactory to herself.  While listening to her own story,
one was tempted to forget that it was from the life of a person who
could not live by it in conjunction with her fellows."

Our final judgment of the worth of such a life as this will depend
largely on our conception of God, and of the sort of conduct he is best
pleased with in his creatures.  The Catholicism of the sixteenth
century paid little heed to social righteousness; and to leave the
world to the devil whilst saving one's own soul was then accounted no
discreditable scheme.  To-day, rightly or wrongly, helpfulness in
general human affairs is, in consequence of one of those secular
mutations in moral sentiment of which I spoke, deemed an essential
element of worth in character; and to be of some public or private use
is also reckoned as a species of divine service.  Other early Jesuits,
especially the missionaries among them, the Xaviers, Brebeufs, Jogues,
were objective minds, and fought in their way for the world's welfare;
so their lives to-day inspire us.  But when the intellect, as in this
Louis, is originally no larger than a pin's head, and cherishes ideas
of God of corresponding smallness, the result, notwithstanding the
heroism put forth, is on the whole repulsive.  Purity, we see in the
object-lesson, is NOT the one thing needful; and it is better that a
life should contract many a dirt-mark, than forfeit usefulness in its
efforts to remain unspotted.

Proceeding onwards in our search of religious extravagance, we next
come upon excesses of Tenderness and Charity.  Here saintliness has to
face the charge of preserving the unfit, and breeding parasites and
beggars.  "Resist not evil," "Love your enemies," these are saintly
maxims of which men of this world find it hard to speak without
impatience. Are the men of this world right, or are the saints in
possession of the deeper range of truth?

No simple answer is possible.  Here, if anywhere, one feels the
complexity of the moral life, and the mysteriousness of the way in
which facts and ideals are interwoven.

Perfect conduct is a relation between three terms:  the actor, the
objects for which he acts, and the recipients of the action.  In order
that conduct should be abstractly perfect, all three terms, intention,
execution, and reception, should be suited to one another.  The best
intention will fail if it either work by false means or address itself
to the wrong recipient.  Thus no critic or estimator of the value of
conduct can confine himself to the actor's animus alone, apart from the
other elements of the performance.  As there is no worse lie than a
truth misunderstood by those who hear it, so reasonable arguments,
challenges to magnanimity, and appeals to sympathy or justice, are
folly when we are dealing with human crocodiles and boa-constrictors.
The saint may simply give the universe into the hands of the enemy by
his trustfulness.  He may by non-resistance cut off his own survival.

Herbert Spencer tells us that the perfect man's conduct will appear
perfect only when the environment is perfect:  to no inferior
environment is it suitably adapted.  We may paraphrase this by
cordially admitting that saintly conduct would be the most perfect
conduct conceivable in an environment where all were saints already;
but by adding that in an environment where few are saints, and many the
exact reverse of saints, it must be ill adapted.  We must frankly
confess, then, using our empirical common sense and ordinary practical
prejudices, that in the world that actually is, the virtues of
sympathy, charity, and non-resistance may be, and often have been,
manifested in excess.

The powers of darkness have systematically taken advantage of them.
The whole modern scientific organization of charity is a consequence of
the failure of simply giving alms.  The whole history of constitutional
government is a commentary on the excellence of resisting evil, and
when one cheek is smitten, of smiting back and not turning the other
cheek also.

You will agree to this in general, for in spite of the Gospel, in spite
of Quakerism, in spite of Tolstoi, you believe in fighting fire with
fire, in shooting down usurpers, locking up thieves, and freezing out
vagabonds and swindlers.

And yet you are sure, as I am sure, that were the world confined to
these hard-headed, hard-hearted, and hard-fisted methods exclusively,
were there no one prompt to help a brother first, and find out
afterwards whether he were worthy; no one willing to drown his private
wrongs in pity for the wronger's person; no one ready to be duped many
a time rather than live always on suspicion; no one glad to treat
individuals passionately and impulsively rather than by general rules
of prudence; the world would be an infinitely worse place than it is
now to live in.  The tender grace, not of a day that is dead, but of a
day yet to be born somehow, with the golden rule grown natural, would
be cut out from the perspective of our imaginations.

The saints, existing in this way, may, with their extravagances of
human tenderness, be prophetic.  Nay, innumerable times they have
proved themselves prophetic.  Treating those whom they met, in spite of
the past, in spite of all appearances, as worthy, they have stimulated
them to BE worthy, miraculously transformed them by their radiant
example and by the challenge of their expectation.

From this point of view we may admit the human charity which we find in
all saints, and the great excess of it which we find in some saints, to
be a genuinely creative social force, tending to make real a degree of
virtue which it alone is ready to assume as possible.  The saints are
authors, auctores, increasers, of goodness.  The potentialities of
development in human souls are unfathomable.  So many who seemed
irretrievably hardened have in point of fact been softened, converted,
regenerated, in ways that amazed the subjects even more than they
surprised the spectators, that we never can be sure in advance of any
man that his salvation by the way of love is hopeless.  We have no
right to speak of human crocodiles and boa-constrictors as of fixedly
incurable beings.  We know not the complexities of personality, the
smouldering emotional fires, the other facets of the
character-polyhedron, the resources of the subliminal region.  St. Paul
long ago made our ancestors familiar with the idea that every soul is
virtually sacred.  Since Christ died for us all without exception, St.
Paul said, we must despair of no one.  This belief in the essential
sacredness of every one expresses itself to-day in all sorts of humane
customs and reformatory institutions, and in a growing aversion to the
death penalty and to brutality in punishment.  The saints, with their
extravagance of human tenderness, are the great torch-bearers of this
belief, the tip of the wedge, the clearers of the darkness.  Like the
single drops which sparkle in the sun as they are flung far ahead of
the advancing edge of a wave-crest or of a flood, they show the way and
are forerunners.  The world is not yet with them, so they often seem in
the midst of the world's affairs to be preposterous.  Yet they are
impregnators of the world, vivifiers and animaters of potentialities of
goodness which but for them would lie forever dormant.  It is not
possible to be quite as mean as we naturally are, when they have passed
before us.  One fire kindles another; and without that over-trust in
human worth which they show, the rest of us would lie in spiritual

Momentarily considered, then, the saint may waste his tenderness and be
the dupe and victim of his charitable fever, but the general function
of his charity in social evolution is vital and essential.  If things
are ever to move upward, some one must be ready to take the first step,
and assume the risk of it.  No one who is not willing to try charity,
to try non-resistance as the saint is always willing, can tell whether
these methods will or will not succeed.  When they do succeed, they are
far more powerfully successful than force or worldly prudence.  Force
destroys enemies; and the best that can be said of prudence is that it
keeps what we already have in safety.  But non-resistance, when
successful, turns enemies into friends; and charity regenerates its
objects.  These saintly methods are, as I said, creative energies; and
genuine saints find in the elevated excitement with which their faith
endows them an authority and impressiveness which makes them
irresistible in situations where men of shallower nature cannot get on
at all without the use of worldly prudence.  This practical proof that
worldly wisdom may be safely transcended is the saint's magic gift to
mankind.[215] Not only does his vision of a better world console us for
the generally prevailing prose and barrenness; but even when on the
whole we have to confess him ill adapted, he makes some converts, and
the environment gets better for his ministry.  He is an effective
ferment of goodness, a slow transmuter of the earthly into a more
heavenly order.

[215]  The best missionary lives abound in the victorious combination
of non-resistance with personal authority.  John G.  Paton, for
example, in the New Hebrides, among brutish Melanesian cannibals,
preserves a charmed life by dint of it.  When it comes to the point, no
one ever dares actually to strike him.  Native converts, inspired by
him, showed analogous virtue.  "One of our chiefs, full of the
Christ-kindled desire to seek and to save, sent a message to an inland
chief, that he and four attendants would come on Sabbath and tell them
the gospel of Jehovah God.  The reply came back sternly forbidding
their visit, and threatening with death any Christian that approached
their village.  Our chief sent in response a loving message, telling
them that Jehovah had taught the Christians to return good for evil,
and that they would come unarmed to tell them the story of how the Son
of God came into the world and died in order to bless and save his
enemies.  The heathen chief sent back a stern and prompt reply once
more:  'If you come, you will be killed.' On Sabbath morn the Christian
chief and his four companions were met outside the village by the
heathen chief, who implored and threatened them once more. But the
former said:--

"'We come to you without weapons of war! We come only to tell you about
Jesus.  We believe that He will protect us to-day.'

"As they pressed steadily forward towards the village, spears began to
be thrown at them.  Some they evaded, being all except one dexterous
warriors; and others they literally received with their bare hands, and
turned them aside in an incredible manner.  The heathen, apparently
thunderstruck at these men thus approaching them without weapons of
war, and not even flinging back their own spears which they had caught,
after having thrown what the old chief called 'a shower of spears,'
desisted from mere surprise.  Our Christian chief called out, as he and
his companions drew up in the midst of them on the village public

"'Jehovah thus protects us.  He has given us all your spears!  Once we
would have thrown them back at you and killed you.  But now we come,
not to fight but to tell you about Jesus.  He has changed our dark
hearts.  He asks you now to lay down all these your other weapons of
war, and to hear what we can tell you about the love of God, our great
Father, the only living God.'

"The heathen were perfectly overawed.  They manifestly looked on these
Christians as protected by some Invisible One.  They listened for the
first time to the story of the Gospel and of the Cross.  We lived to
see that chief and all his tribe sitting in the school of Christ.  And
there is perhaps not an island in these southern seas, amongst all
those won for Christ, where similar acts of heroism on the part of
converts cannot be recited."   John G. Paton, Missionary to the New
Hebrides, An Autobiography, second part, London, 1890, p. 243.

In this respect the Utopian dreams of social justice in which many
contemporary socialists and anarchists indulge are, in spite of their
impracticability and non-adaptation to present environmental
conditions, analogous to the saint's belief in an existent kingdom of
heaven.  They help to break the edge of the general reign of hardness
and are slow leavens of a better order.

The next topic in order is Asceticism, which I fancy you are all ready
to consider without argument a virtue liable to extravagance and
excess.  The optimism and refinement of the modern imagination has, as
I have already said elsewhere, changed the attitude of the church
towards corporeal mortification, and a Suso or a Saint Peter of
Alcantara[216] appear to us to-day rather in the light of tragic
mountebanks than of sane men inspiring us with respect.  If the inner
dispositions are right, we ask, what need of all this torment, this
violation of the outer nature?  It keeps the outer nature too
important.  Any one who is genuinely emancipated from the flesh will
look on pleasures and pains, abundance and privation, as alike
irrelevant and indifferent.  He can engage in actions and experience
enjoyments without fear of corruption or enslavement.  As the
Bhagavad-Gita says, only those need renounce worldly actions who are
still inwardly attached thereto.  If one be really unattached to the
fruits of action, one may mix in the world with equanimity.  I quoted
in a former lecture Saint Augustine's antinomian saying:  If you only
love God enough, you may safely follow all your inclinations.  "He
needs no devotional practices," is one of Ramakrishna's maxims, "whose
heart is moved to tears at the mere mention of the name of {354}
Hari."[217] And the Buddha, in pointing out what he called "the middle
way" to his disciples, told them to abstain from both extremes,
excessive mortification being as unreal and unworthy as mere desire and
pleasure.  The only perfect life, he said, is that of inner wisdom,
which makes one thing as indifferent to us as another, and thus leads
to rest, to peace, and to Nirvana.[218]

[216] Saint Peter, Saint Teresa tells us in her autobiography (French
translation, p. 333), "had passed forty years without ever sleeping
more than an hour and a half a day.  Of all his mortifications, this
was the one that had cost him the most.  To compass it, he kept always
on his knees or on his feet.  The little sleep he allowed nature to
take was snatched in a sitting posture, his head leaning against a
piece of wood fixed in the wall.  Even had he wished to lie down, it
would have been impossible, because his cell was only four feet and a
half long.  In the course of all these years he never raised his hood,
no matter what the ardor of the sun or the rain's strength.  He never
put on a shoe.  He wore a garment of coarse sackcloth, with nothing
else upon his skin.  This garment was as scant as possible, and over it
a little cloak of the same stuff.  When the cold was great he took off
the cloak and opened for a while the door and little window of his
cell.  Then he closed them and resumed the mantle--his way, as he told
us, of warming himself, and making his body feel a better temperature.
It was a frequent thing with him to eat once only in three days; and
when I expressed my surprise, he said that it was very easy if one once
had acquired the habit.  One of his companions has assured me that he
has gone sometimes eight days without food.... His poverty was extreme;
and his mortification, even in his youth, was such that he told me he
had passed three years in a house of his order without knowing any of
the monks otherwise than by the sound of their voice, for he never
raised his eyes, and only found his way about by following the others.
He showed this same modesty on public highways.  He spent many years
without ever laying eyes upon a woman; but he confessed to me that at
the age he had reached it was indifferent to him whether he laid eyes
on them or not.  He was very old when I first came to know him, and his
body so attenuated that it seemed formed of nothing so much as of so
many roots of trees. With all this sanctity he was very affable.  He
never spoke unless he was questioned, but his intellectual
right-mindedness and grace gave to all his words an irresistible charm."

[217] F. Max Muller:  Ramakrishna, his Life and sayings, 1899, p.  180.

[218] Oldenberg:  Buddha; translated by W. Hoey, London, 1882, p.  127.

We find accordingly that as ascetic saints have grown older, and
directors of conscience more experienced, they usually have shown a
tendency to lay less stress on special bodily mortifications.  Catholic
teachers have always professed the rule that, since health is needed
for efficiency in God's service, health must not be sacrificed to
mortification.  The general optimism and healthy-mindedness of liberal
Protestant circles to-day makes mortification for mortification's sake
repugnant to us.  We can no longer sympathize with cruel deities, and
the notion that God can take delight in the spectacle of sufferings
self-inflicted in his honor is abhorrent.  In consequence of all these
motives you probably are disposed, unless some special utility can be
shown in some individual's discipline, to treat the general tendency to
asceticism as pathological.

Yet I believe that a more careful consideration of the whole matter,
distinguishing between the general good intention of asceticism and the
uselessness of some of the particular acts of which it may be guilty,
ought to rehabilitate it in our esteem.  For in its spiritual meaning
asceticism stands for nothing less than for the essence of the
twice-born philosophy.  It symbolizes, lamely enough no doubt, but
sincerely, the belief that there is an element of real wrongness in
this world, which is neither to be ignored nor evaded, but which must
be squarely met and overcome by an appeal to the soul's heroic
resources, and neutralized and cleansed away by suffering.  As against
this view, the ultra-optimistic form of the once-born philosophy thinks
we may treat evil by the method of ignoring.  Let a man who, by
fortunate health and circumstances, escapes the suffering of any great
amount of evil in his own person, also close his eyes to it as it
exists in the wider universe outside his private experience, and he
will be quit of it altogether, and can sail through life happily on a
healthy-minded basis.  But we saw in our lectures on melancholy how
precarious this attempt necessarily is.  Moreover it is but for the
individual; and leaves the evil outside of him, unredeemed and
unprovided for in his philosophy.

No such attempt can be a GENERAL solution of the problem; and to minds
of sombre tinge, who naturally feel life as a tragic mystery, such
optimism is a shallow dodge or mean evasion.  It accepts, in lieu of a
real deliverance, what is a lucky personal accident merely, a cranny to
escape by. It leaves the general world unhelped and still in the clutch
of Satan.  The real deliverance, the twice-born folk insist, must be of
universal application.  Pain and wrong and death must be fairly met and
overcome in higher excitement, or else their sting remains essentially
unbroken.  If one has ever taken the fact of the prevalence of tragic
death in this world's history fairly into his mind--freezing, drowning
entombment alive, wild beasts, worse men, and hideous diseases--he can
with difficulty, it seems to me, continue his own career of worldly
prosperity without suspecting that he may all the while not be really
inside the game, that he may lack the great initiation.

Well, this is exactly what asceticism thinks; and it voluntarily takes
the initiation.  Life is neither farce nor genteel comedy, it says, but
something we must sit at in mourning garments, hoping its bitter taste
will purge us of our folly. The wild and the heroic are indeed such
rooted parts of it that healthy-mindedness pure and simple, with its
sentimental optimism, can hardly be regarded by any thinking man as a
serious solution.  Phrases of neatness, cosiness, and comfort can never
be an answer to the sphinx's riddle.

In these remarks I am leaning only upon mankind's common instinct for
reality, which in point of fact has always held the world to be
essentially a theatre for heroism.  In heroism, we feel, life's supreme
mystery is hidden.  We tolerate no one who has no capacity whatever for
it in any direction.  On the other hand, no matter what a man's
frailties otherwise may be, if he be willing to risk death, and still
more if he suffer it heroically, in the service he has chosen, the fact
consecrates him forever.  Inferior to ourselves in this or that way, if
yet we cling to life, and he is able "to fling it away like a flower"
as caring nothing for it, we account him in the deepest way our born
superior.  Each of us in his own person feels that a high-hearted
indifference to life would expiate all his shortcomings.

The metaphysical mystery, thus recognized by common sense, that he who
feeds on death that feeds on men possesses life supereminently and
excellently, and meets best the secret demands of the universe, is the
truth of which asceticism has been the faithful champion.  The folly of
the cross, so inexplicable by the intellect, has yet its indestructible
vital meaning.

Representatively, then, and symbolically, and apart from the vagaries
into which the unenlightened intellect of former times may have let it
wander, asceticism must, I believe, be acknowledged to go with the
profounder way of handling the gift of existence.  Naturalistic
optimism is mere syllabub and flattery and sponge-cake in comparison.
The practical course of action for us, as religious men, would
therefore, it seems to me, not be simply to turn our backs upon the
ascetic impulse, as most of us to-day turn them, but rather to discover
some outlet for it of which the fruits in the way of privation and
hardship might be objectively useful.  The older monastic asceticism
occupied itself with pathetic futilities, or terminated in the mere
egotism of the individual, increasing his own perfection.[219] But is
it not possible for us to discard most of these older forms of
mortification, and yet find saner channels for the heroism which
inspired them?

[219] "The vanities of all others may die out, but the vanity of a
saint as regards his sainthood is hard indeed to wear away."
Ramakrishna his Life and Sayings, 1899, p. 172.

Does not, for example, the worship of material luxury and wealth, which
constitutes so large a portion of the "spirit" of our age, make
somewhat for effeminacy and unmanliness?  Is not the exclusively
sympathetic and facetious way in which most children are brought up
to-day--so different from the education of a hundred years ago,
especially in evangelical circles--in danger, in spite of its many
advantages, of developing a certain trashiness of fibre?  Are there not
hereabouts some points of application for a renovated and revised
ascetic discipline?

Many of you would recognize such dangers, but would point to athletics,
militarism, and individual and national enterprise and adventure as the
remedies.  These contemporary ideals are quite as remarkable for the
energy with which they make for heroic standards of life, as
contemporary religion is remarkable for the way in which it neglects
them.[220]  War and adventure assuredly keep all who engage in them
from treating themselves too tenderly.  They demand such incredible
efforts, depth beyond depth of exertion, both in degree and in
duration, that the whole scale of motivation alters.  Discomfort and
annoyance, hunger and wet, pain and cold, squalor and filth, cease to
have any deterrent operation whatever.  Death turns into a commonplace
matter, and its usual power to check our action vanishes. With the
annulling of these customary inhibitions, ranges of new energy are set
free, and life seems cast upon a higher plane of power.

[220] "When a church has to be run by oysters, ice-cream, and fun," I
read in an American religious paper, "you may be sure that it is
running away from Christ."  Such, if one may judge by appearances, is
the present plight of many of our churches.

The beauty of war in this respect is that it is so congruous with
ordinary human nature.  Ancestral evolution has made us all potential
warriors; so the most insignificant individual, when thrown into an
army in the field, is weaned from whatever excess of tenderness toward
his precious person he may bring with him, and may easily develop into
a monster of insensibility.

But when we compare the military type of self-severity with that of the
ascetic saint, we find a world-wide difference in all their spiritual

"'Live and let live,'" writes a clear-headed Austrian officer, "is no
device for an army.  Contempt for one's own comrades, for the troops of
the enemy, and, above all, fierce contempt for one's own person, are
what war demands of every one.  Far better is it for an army to be too
savage, too cruel, too barbarous, than to possess too much
sentimentality and human reasonableness.

If the soldier is to be good for anything as a soldier, he must be
exactly the opposite of a reasoning and thinking man.  The measure of
goodness in him is his possible use in war.  War, and even peace,
require of the soldier absolutely peculiar standards of morality.  The
recruit brings with him common moral notions, of which he must seek
immediately to get rid.  For him victory, success, must be EVERYTHING.
The most barbaric tendencies in men come to life again in war, and for
war's uses they are incommensurably good."[221]

[221] C. V. B. K.:  Friedens-und Kriegs-moral der Heere.  Quoted by
Hamon:  Psychologie du Militaire professional, 1895, p. xli.

These words are of course literally true.  The immediate aim of the
soldier's life is, as Moltke said, destruction, and nothing but
destruction; and whatever constructions wars result in are remote and
non-military.  Consequently the soldier cannot train himself to be too
feelingless to all those usual sympathies and respects, whether for
persons or for things, that make for conservation.  Yet the fact
remains that war is a school of strenuous life and heroism; and, being
in the line of aboriginal instinct, is the only school that as yet is
universally available.  But when we gravely ask ourselves whether this
wholesale organization of irrationality and crime be our only bulwark
against effeminacy, we stand aghast at the thought, and think more
kindly of ascetic religion.  One hears of the mechanical equivalent of
heat.  What we now need to discover in the social realm is the moral
equivalent of war:  something heroic that will speak to men as
universally as war does, and yet will be as compatible with their
spiritual selves as war has proved itself to be incompatible.  I have
often thought that in the old monkish poverty-worship, in spite of the
pedantry which infested it, there might be something like that moral
equivalent of war which we are seeking.  May not voluntarily accepted
poverty be "the strenuous life," without the need of crushing weaker

Poverty indeed IS the strenuous life--without brass bands or uniforms
or hysteric popular applause or lies or circumlocutions; and when one
sees the way in which wealth- getting enters as an ideal into the very
bone and marrow of our generation, one wonders whether a revival of the
belief that poverty is a worthy religious vocation may not be "the
transformation of military courage," and the spiritual reform which our
time stands most in need of.

Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty
need once more to be boldly sung.  We have grown literally afraid to be
poor.  We despise any one who elects to be poor in order to simplify
and save his inner life.  If he does not join the general scramble and
pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking
in ambition.  We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient
idealization of poverty could have meant:  the liberation from material
attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying
our way by what we are or do and not by what we have, the right to
fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly--the more athletic
trim, in short, the moral fighting shape.  When we of the so-called
better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at
material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our
house can be artistic, and quake at the thought of having a child
without a bank-account and doomed to manual labor, it is time for
thinking men to protest against so unmanly and irreligious a state of

It is true that so far as wealth gives time for ideal ends and exercise
to ideal energies, wealth is better than poverty and ought to be
chosen.  But wealth does this in only a portion of the actual cases.
Elsewhere the desire to gain wealth and the fear to lose it are our
chief breeders of cowardice and propagators of corruption.  There are
thousands of conjunctures in which a wealth-bound man must be a slave,
whilst a man for whom poverty has no terrors becomes a freeman.  Think
of the strength which personal indifference to poverty would give us if
we were devoted to unpopular causes.  We need no longer hold our
tongues or fear to vote the revolutionary or reformatory ticket.  Our
stocks might fall, our hopes of promotion vanish, our salaries stop,
our club doors close in our faces; yet, while we lived, we would
imperturbably bear witness to the spirit, and our example would help to
set free our generation.  The cause would need its funds, but we its
servants would be potent in proportion as we personally were contented
with our poverty.

I recommend this matter to your serious pondering, for it is certain
that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the
worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.

I have now said all that I can usefully say about the several fruits of
religion as they are manifested in saintly lives, so I will make a
brief review and pass to my more general conclusions.

Our question, you will remember, is as to whether religion stands
approved by its fruits, as these are exhibited in the saintly type of
character.  Single attributes of saintliness may, it is true, be
temperamental endowments, found in non-religious individuals.  But the
whole group of them forms a combination which, as such, is religious,
for it seems to flow from the sense of the divine as from its
psychological centre.  Whoever possesses strongly this sense comes
naturally to think that the smallest details of this world derive
infinite significance from their relation to an unseen divine order.
The thought of this order yields him a superior denomination of
happiness, and a steadfastness of soul with which no other can compare.
In social relations his serviceability is exemplary; he abounds in
impulses to help. His help is inward as well as outward, for his
sympathy reaches souls as well as bodies, and kindles unsuspected
faculties therein.  Instead of placing happiness where common men place
it, in comfort, he places it in a higher kind of inner excitement,
which converts discomforts into sources of cheer and annuls
unhappiness.  So he turns his back upon no duty, however thankless; and
when we are in need of assistance, we can count upon the saint lending
his hand with more certainty than we can count upon any other person.
Finally, his humble-mindedness and his ascetic tendencies save him from
the petty personal pretensions which so obstruct our ordinary social
intercourse, and his purity gives us in him a clean man for a
companion.  Felicity, purity, charity, patience, self-severity--these
are splendid excellencies, and the saint of all men shows them in the
completest possible measure.

But, as we saw, all these things together do not make saints
infallible.  When their intellectual outlook is narrow, they fall into
all sorts of holy excesses, fanaticism or theopathic absorption,
self-torment, prudery, scrupulosity, gullibility, and morbid inability
to meet the world.  By the very intensity of his fidelity to the paltry
ideals with which an inferior intellect may inspire him, a saint can be
even more objectionable and damnable than a superficial carnal man
would be in the same situation.  We must judge him not sentimentally
only, and not in isolation, but using our own intellectual standards,
placing him in his environment, and estimating his total function.

Now in the matter of intellectual standards, we must bear in mind that
it is unfair, where we find narrowness of mind, always to impute it as
a vice to the individual, for in religious and theological matters he
probably absorbs his narrowness from his generation.  Moreover, we must
not confound the essentials of saintliness, which are those general
passions of which I have spoken, with its accidents, which are the
special determinations of these passions at any historical moment.  In
these determinations the saints will usually be loyal to the temporary
idols of their tribe.  Taking refuge in monasteries was as much an idol
of the tribe in the middle ages, as bearing a hand in the world's work
is to-day.  Saint Francis or Saint Bernard, were they living to-day,
would undoubtedly be leading consecrated lives of some sort, but quite
as undoubtedly they would not lead them in retirement.  Our animosity
to special historic manifestations must not lead us to give away the
saintly impulses in their essential nature to the tender mercies of
inimical critics.

The most inimical critic of the saintly impulses whom I know is
Nietzsche.  He contrasts them with the worldly passions as we find
these embodied in the predaceous military character, altogether to the
advantage of the latter.  Your born saint, it must be confessed, has
something about him which often makes the gorge of a carnal man rise,
so it will be worth while to consider the contrast in question more

Dislike of the saintly nature seems to be a negative result of the
biologically useful instinct of welcoming leadership, and glorifying
the chief of the tribe.  The chief is the potential, if not the actual
tyrant, the masterful, overpowering man of prey.  We confess our
inferiority and grovel before him.  We quail under his glance, and are
at the same time proud of owning so dangerous a lord.  Such instinctive
and submissive hero-worship must have been indispensable in primeval
tribal life.  In the endless wars of those times, leaders were
absolutely needed for the tribe's survival.  If there were any tribes
who owned no leaders, they can have left no issue to narrate their
doom.  The leaders always had good consciences, for conscience in them
coalesced with will, and those who looked on their face were as much
smitten with wonder at their freedom from inner restraint as with awe
at the energy of their outward performances.

Compared with these beaked and taloned graspers of the world, saints
are herbivorous animals, tame and harmless barn-yard poultry.  There
are saints whose beard you may, if you ever care to, pull with
impunity.  Such a man excites no thrills of wonder veiled in terror;
his conscience is full of scruples and returns; he stuns us neither by
his inward freedom nor his outward power; and unless he found within us
an altogether different faculty of admiration to appeal to, we should
pass him by with contempt.

In point of fact, he does appeal to a different faculty.  Reenacted in
human nature is the fable of the wind, the sun, and the traveler.  The
sexes embody the discrepancy.  The woman loves the man the more
admiringly the stormier he shows himself, and the world deifies its
rulers the more for being willful and unaccountable.  But the woman in
turn subjugates the man by the mystery of gentleness in beauty, and the
saint has always charmed the world by something similar.  Mankind is
susceptible and suggestible in opposite directions, and the rivalry of
influences is unsleeping.  The saintly and the worldly ideal pursue
their feud in literature as much as in real life.

For Nietzsche the saint represents little but sneakingness and
slavishness.  He is the sophisticated invalid, the degenerate par
excellence, the man of insufficient vitality.  His prevalence would put
the human type in danger.

"The sick are the greatest danger for the well.  The weaker, not the
stronger, are the strong's undoing.  It is not FEAR of our fellow-man,
which we should wish to see diminished; for fear rouses those who are
strong to become terrible in turn themselves, and preserves the
hard-earned and successful type of humanity. What is to be dreaded by
us more than any other doom is not fear, but rather the great disgust,
not fear, but rather the great pity--disgust and pity for our human
fellows....  The MORBID are our greatest peril--not the 'bad' men, not
the predatory beings.  Those born wrong, the miscarried, the broken--
they it is, the WEAKEST who are undermining the vitality of the race,
poisoning our trust in life, and putting humanity in question. Every
look of them is a sigh--'Would I were something other!  I am sick and
tired of what I am.'  In this swamp-soil of self-contempt, every
poisonous weed flourishes, and all so small, so secret, so dishonest,
and so sweetly rotten.  Here swarm the worms of sensitiveness and
resentment, here the air smells odious with secrecy, with what is not
to be acknowledged; here is woven endlessly the net of the meanest of
conspiracies, the conspiracy of those who suffer against those who
succeed and are victorious; here the very aspect of the victorious is
hated--as if health, success, strength, pride, and the sense of power
were in themselves things vicious, for which one ought eventually to
make bitter expiation.  Oh, how these people would themselves like to
inflict the expiation, how they thirst to be the hangmen!  And all the
while their duplicity never confesses their hatred to be hatred."[222]

[222] Zur Genealogie der Moral, Dritte Abhandlung, Section 14.  I have
abridged, and in one place transposed, a sentence.

Poor Nietzsche's antipathy is itself sickly enough, but we all know
what he means, and he expresses well the clash between the two Ideals.
The carnivorous-minded "strong man," the adult male and cannibal, can
see nothing but mouldiness and morbidness in the saint's gentleness and
self-severity, and regards him with pure loathing.  The whole feud
revolves essentially upon two pivots:  Shall the seen world or the
unseen world be our chief sphere of adaptation?  and must our means of
adaptation in this seen world be aggressiveness or non-resistance?

The debate is serious.  In some sense and to some degree both worlds
must be acknowledged and taken account of; and in the seen world both
aggressiveness and non-resistance are needful.  It is a question of
emphasis, of more or less.  Is the saint's type or the strong-man's
type the more ideal?

It has often been supposed, and even now, I think, it is supposed by
most persons, that there can be one intrinsically ideal type of human
character.  A certain kind of man, it is imagined, must be the best man
absolutely and apart from the utility of his function, apart from
economical considerations.  The saint's type, and the knight's or
gentleman's type, have always been rival claimants of this absolute
ideality; and in the ideal of military religious orders both types were
in a manner blended.  According to the empirical philosophy, however,
all ideals are matters of relation.  It would be absurd, for example,
to ask for a definition of "the ideal horse," so long as dragging drays
and running races, bearing children, and jogging about with tradesmen's
packages all remain as indispensable differentiations of equine
function.  You may take what you call a general all-round animal as a
compromise, but he will be inferior to any horse of a more specialized
type, in some one particular direction. We must not forget this now
when, in discussing saintliness, we ask if it be an ideal type of
manhood.  We must test it by its economical relations.

I think that the method which Mr. Spencer uses in his Data of Ethics
will help to fix our opinion.  Ideality in conduct is altogether a
matter of adaptation.  A society where all were invariably aggressive
would destroy itself by inner friction, and in a society where some are
aggressive, others must be non-resistant, if there is to be any kind of
order. This is the present constitution of society, and to the mixture
we owe many of our blessings.  But the aggressive members of society
are always tending to become bullies, robbers, and swindlers; and no
one believes that such a state of things as we now live in is the
millennium.  It is meanwhile quite possible to conceive an imaginary
society in which there should be no aggressiveness, but only sympathy
and fairness--any small community of true friends now realizes such a
society.  Abstractly considered, such a society on a large scale would
be the millennium, for every good thing might be realized there with no
expense of friction.  To such a millennial society the saint would be
entirely adapted.  His peaceful modes of appeal would be efficacious
over his companions, and there would be no one extant to take advantage
of his non-resistance.  The saint is therefore abstractly a higher type
of man than the "strong man," because he is adapted to the highest
society conceivable, whether that society ever be concretely possible
or not.  The strong man would immediately tend by his presence to make
that society deteriorate.  It would become inferior in everything save
in a certain kind of bellicose excitement, dear to men as they now are.

But if we turn from the abstract question to the actual situation, we
find that the individual saint may be well or ill adapted, according to
particular circumstances.  There is, in short, no absoluteness in the
excellence of sainthood.  It must be confessed that as far as this
world goes, anyone who makes an out-and-out saint of himself does so at
his peril.  If he is not a large enough man, he may appear more
insignificant and contemptible, for all his saintship, than if he had
remained a worldling.[223]  Accordingly religion has seldom been so
radically taken in our Western world that the devotee could not mix it
with some worldly temper. It has always found good men who could follow
most of its impulses, but who stopped short when it came to
non-resistance.  Christ himself was fierce upon occasion.  Cromwells,
Stonewall Jacksons, Gordons, show that Christians can be strong men

[223] We all know DAFT saints, and they inspire a queer kind of
aversion. But in comparing saints with strong men we must choose
individuals on the same intellectual level.  The under-witted strong
man homologous in his sphere with the under-witted saint, is the bully
of the slums, the hooligan or rowdy.  Surely on this level also the
saint preserves a certain superiority.

How is success to be absolutely measured when there are so many
environments and so many ways of looking at the adaptation?  It cannot
be measured absolutely; the verdict will vary according to the point of
view adopted.  From the biological point of view Saint Paul was a
failure, because he was beheaded.  Yet he was magnificently adapted to
the larger environment of history; and so far as any saint's example is
a leaven of righteousness in the world, and draws it in the direction
of more prevalent habits of saintliness, he is a success, no matter
what his immediate bad fortune may be.  The greatest saints, the
spiritual heroes whom every one acknowledges, the Francises, Bernards,
Luthers, Loyolas, Wesleys, Channings, Moodys, Gratrys, the Phillips
Brookses, the Agnes Joneses, Margaret Hallahans, and Dora Pattisons,
are successes from the outset.  They show themselves, and there is no
question; every one perceives their strength and stature.  Their sense
of mystery in things, their passion, their goodness, irradiate about
them and enlarge their outlines while they soften them.  They are like
pictures with an atmosphere and background; and, placed alongside of
them, the strong men of this world and no other seem as dry as sticks,
as hard and crude as blocks of stone or brick-bats.

In a general way, then, and "on the whole,"[224] our abandonment of
theological criteria, and our testing of religion by practical common
sense and the empirical method, leave it in possession of its towering
place in history.  Economically, the saintly group of qualities is
indispensable to the world's welfare.  The great saints are immediate
successes; the smaller ones are at least heralds and harbingers, and
they may be leavens also, of a better mundane order.  Let us be saints,
then, if we can, whether or not we succeed visibly and temporally.  But
in our Father's house are many mansions, and each of us must discover
for himself the kind of religion and the amount of saintship which best
comports with what he believes to be his powers and feels to be his
truest mission and vocation.  There are no successes to be guaranteed
and no set orders to be given to individuals, so long as we follow the
methods of empirical philosophy.

[224] See above, p. 321.

This is my conclusion so far.  I know that on some of your minds it
leaves a feeling of wonder that such a method should have been applied
to such a subject, and this in spite of all those remarks about
empiricism which I made at the beginning of Lecture XIII.[225] How, you
say, can religion, which believes in two worlds and an invisible order,
be estimated by the adaptation of its fruits to this world's order
alone?  It is its truth, not its utility, you insist, upon which our
verdict ought to depend.  If religion is true, its fruits are good
fruits, even though in this world they should prove uniformly ill
adapted and full of naught but pathos.  It goes back, then, after all,
to the question of the truth of theology. The plot inevitably thickens
upon us; we cannot escape theoretical considerations.  I propose, then,
that to some degree we face the responsibility.  Religious persons have
often, though not uniformly, professed to see truth in a special
manner.  That manner is known as mysticism.  I will consequently now
proceed to treat at some length of mystical phenomena, and after that,
though more briefly, I will consider religious philosophy.

[225] Above, pp. 321-327

Lectures XVI and XVII


Over and over again in these lectures I have raised points and left
them open and unfinished until we should have come to the subject of
Mysticism.  Some of you, I fear, may have smiled as you noted my
reiterated postponements.  But now the hour has come when mysticism
must be faced in good earnest, and those broken threads wound up
together.  One may say truly, I think, that personal religious
experience has its root and centre in mystical states of consciousness;
so for us, who in these lectures are treating personal experience as
the exclusive subject of our study, such states of consciousness ought
to form the vital chapter from which the other chapters get their
light.  Whether my treatment of mystical states will shed more light or
darkness, I do not know, for my own constitution shuts me out from
their enjoyment almost entirely, and I can speak of them only at second
hand.  But though forced to look upon the subject so externally, I will
be as objective and receptive as I can; and I think I shall at least
succeed in convincing you of the reality of the states in question, and
of the paramount importance of their function.

First of all, then, I ask, What does the expression "mystical states of
consciousness" mean?  How do we part off mystical states from other

The words "mysticism" and "mystical" are often used as terms of mere
reproach, to throw at any opinion which we regard as vague and vast and
sentimental, and without a base in either facts or logic.  For some
writers a "mystic" is any person who believes in thought-transference,
or spirit-return.  Employed in this way the word has little value:
there are too many less ambiguous synonyms.  So, to keep it useful by
restricting it, I will do what I did in the case of the word
"religion," and simply propose to you four marks which, when an
experience has them, may justify us in calling it mystical for the
purpose of the present lectures. In this way we shall save verbal
disputation, and the recriminations that generally go therewith.

1.  Ineffability.--The handiest of the marks by which I classify a
state of mind as mystical is negative.  The subject of it immediately
says that it defies expression, that no adequate report of its contents
can be given in words.  It follows from this that its quality must be
directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others.
In this peculiarity mystical states are more like states of feeling
than like states of intellect.  No one can make clear to another who
has never had a certain feeling, in what the quality or worth of it
consists.  One must have musical ears to know the value of a symphony;
one must have been in love one's self to understand a lover's state of
mind.  Lacking the heart or ear, we cannot interpret the musician or
the lover justly, and are even likely to consider him weak-minded or
absurd. The mystic finds that most of us accord to his experiences an
equally incompetent treatment.

2.  Noetic quality.--Although so similar to states of feeling, mystical
states seem to those who experience them to be also states of
knowledge.  They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed
by the discursive intellect.  They are illuminations, revelations, full
of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain;
and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for

These two characters will entitle any state to be called mystical, in
the sense in which I use the word.  Two other qualities are less
sharply marked, but are usually found. These are:--

3.  Transiency.--Mystical states cannot be sustained for long.  Except
in rare instances, half an hour, or at most an hour or two, seems to be
the limit beyond which they fade into the light of common day.  Often,
when faded, their quality can but imperfectly be reproduced in memory;
but when they recur it is recognized; and from one recurrence to
another it is susceptible of continuous development in what is felt as
inner richness and importance.

4.  Passivity.--Although the oncoming of mystical states may be
facilitated by preliminary voluntary operations, as by fixing the
attention, or going through certain bodily performances, or in other
ways which manuals of mysticism prescribe; yet when the characteristic
sort of consciousness once has set in, the mystic feels as if his own
will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and
held by a superior power.  This latter peculiarity connects mystical
states with certain definite phenomena of secondary or alternative
personality, such as prophetic speech, automatic writing, or the
mediumistic trance.  When these latter conditions are well pronounced,
however, there may be no recollection whatever of the phenomenon, and
it may have no significance for the subject's usual inner life, to
which, as it were, it makes a mere interruption.  Mystical states,
strictly so-called, are never merely interruptive.  Some memory of
their content always remains, and a profound sense of their importance.
They modify the inner life of the subject between the times of their
recurrence.  Sharp divisions in this region are, however, difficult to
make, and we find all sorts of gradations and mixtures.

These four characteristics are sufficient to mark out a group of states
of consciousness peculiar enough to deserve a special name and to call
for careful study.  Let it then be called the mystical group.

Our next step should be to gain acquaintance with some typical
examples.  Professional mystics at the height of their development have
often elaborately organized experiences and a philosophy based
thereupon.  But you remember what I said in my first lecture:
phenomena are best understood when placed within their series, studied
in their germ and in their over-ripe decay, and compared with their
exaggerated and degenerated kindred.  The range of mystical experience
is very wide, much too wide for us to cover in the time at our
disposal.  Yet the method of serial study is so essential for
interpretation that if we really wish to reach conclusions we must use
it.  I will begin, therefore, with phenomena which claim no special
religious significance, and end with those of which the religious
pretensions are extreme.

The simplest rudiment of mystical experience would seem to be that
deepened sense of the significance of a maxim or formula which
occasionally sweeps over one. "I've heard that said all my life," we
exclaim, "but I never realized its full meaning until now."  "When a
fellow-monk," said Luther, "one day repeated the words of the Creed:
'I believe in the forgiveness of sins,' I saw the Scripture in an
entirely new light; and straightway I felt as if I were born anew.  It
was as if I had found the door of paradise thrown wide open."[226] This
sense of deeper significance is not confined to rational propositions.
Single words,[227] and conjunctions of words, effects of light on land
and sea, odors and musical sounds, all bring it when the mind is tuned
aright.  Most of us can remember the strangely moving power of passages
in certain poems read when we were young, irrational doorways as they
were through which the mystery of fact, the wildness and the pang of
life, stole into our hearts and thrilled them.  The words have now
perhaps become mere polished surfaces for us; but lyric poetry and
music are alive and significant only in proportion as they fetch these
vague vistas of a life continuous with our own, beckoning and inviting,
yet ever eluding our pursuit.  We are alive or dead to the eternal
inner message of the arts according as we have kept or lost this
mystical susceptibility.

[226] Newman's Securus judicat orbis terrarum is another instance.

[227] "Mesopotamia" is the stock comic instance.--An excellent Old
German lady, who had done some traveling in her day, used to describe
to me her Sehnsucht that she might yet visit "Philadelphia," whose
wondrous name had always haunted her imagination.  Of John Foster it is
said that "single words (as chalcedony), or the names of ancient
heroes, had a mighty fascination over him.  'At any time the word
hermit was enough to transport him.' The words woods and forests would
produce the most powerful emotion."  Foster's Life, by Ryland, New
York, 1846, p. 3.

A more pronounced step forward on the mystical ladder is found in an
extremely frequent phenomenon, that sudden feeling, namely, which
sometimes sweeps over us, of having "been here before," as if at some
indefinite past time, in just this place, with just these people, we
were already saying just these things.  As Tennyson writes:

     "Moreover, something is or seems
      That touches me with mystic gleams,
      Like glimpses of forgotten dreams--

     "Of something felt, like something here;
      Of something done, I know not where;
      Such as no language may declare."[228]

[228] The Two Voices.  In a letter to Mr. B. P. Blood, Tennyson reports
of himself as follows:--

"I have never had any revelations through anaesthetics, but a kind of
waking trance--this for lack of a better word--I have frequently had,
quite up from boyhood, when I have been all alone.  This has come upon
me through repeating my own name to myself silently, till all at once,
as it were out of the intensity of the consciousness of individuality,
individuality itself seemed to dissolve and fade away into boundless
being, and this not a confused state but the clearest, the surest of
the surest, utterly beyond words--where death was an almost laughable
impossibility--the loss of personality (if so it were) seeming no
extinction, but the only true life.  I am ashamed of my feeble
description.  Have I not said the state is utterly beyond words?"

Professor Tyndall, in a letter, recalls Tennyson saying of this
condition:  "By God Almighty! there is no delusion in the matter!  It
is no nebulous ecstasy, but a state of transcendent wonder, associated
with absolute clearness of mind."  Memoirs of Alfred Tennyson, ii. 473.

Sir James Crichton-Browne has given the technical name of "dreamy
states" to these sudden invasions of vaguely reminiscent
consciousness.[229] They bring a sense of mystery and of the
metaphysical duality of things, and the feeling of an enlargement of
perception which seems imminent but which never completes itself.  In
Dr. Crichton-Browne's opinion they connect themselves with the
perplexed and scared disturbances of self-consciousness which
occasionally precede epileptic attacks.  I think that this learned
alienist takes a rather absurdly alarmist view of an intrinsically
insignificant phenomenon.  He follows it along the downward ladder, to
insanity; our path pursues the upward ladder chiefly.  The divergence
shows how important it is to neglect no part of a phenomenon's
connections, for we make it appear admirable or dreadful according to
the context by which we set it off.

[229] The Lancet, July 6 and 13, 1895, reprinted as the Cavendish
Lecture, on Dreamy Mental States, London, Bailliere, 1895.  They have
been a good deal discussed of late by psychologists.  See, for example,
Bernard-Leroy:  L'Illusion de Fausse Reconnaissance, Paris, 1898.

Somewhat deeper plunges into mystical consciousness are met with in yet
other dreamy states.  Such feelings as these which Charles Kingsley
describes are surely far from being uncommon, especially in youth:--

"When I walk the fields, I am oppressed now and then with an innate
feeling that everything I see has a meaning, if I could but understand
it.  And this feeling of being surrounded with truths which I cannot
grasp amounts to indescribable awe sometimes....  Have you not felt
that your real soul was imperceptible to your mental vision, except in
a few hallowed moments?"[230]

[230] Charles Kingsley's Life, i. 55, quoted by Inge:  Christian
Mysticism, London, 1899, p. 341.

A much more extreme state of mystical consciousness is described by J.
A. Symonds; and probably more persons than we suspect could give
parallels to it from their own experience.

"Suddenly," writes Symonds, "at church, or in company, or when I was
reading, and always, I think, when my muscles were at rest, I felt the
approach of the mood.  Irresistibly it took possession of my mind and
will, lasted what seemed an eternity, and disappeared in a series of
rapid sensations which resembled the awakening from anaesthetic
influence.  One reason why I disliked this kind of trance was that I
could not describe it to myself. I cannot even now find words to render
it intelligible.  It consisted in a gradual but swiftly progressive
obliteration of space, time, sensation, and the multitudinous factors
of experience which seem to qualify what we are pleased to call our
Self. In proportion as these conditions of ordinary consciousness were
subtracted, the sense of an underlying or essential consciousness
acquired intensity.  At last nothing remained but a pure, absolute,
abstract Self.  The universe became without form and void of content.
But Self persisted, formidable in its vivid keenness, feeling the most
poignant doubt about reality, ready, as it seemed, to find existence
break as breaks a bubble round about it.  And what then?  The
apprehension of a coming dissolution, the grim conviction that this
state was the last state of the conscious Self, the sense that I had
followed the last thread of being to the verge of the abyss, and had
arrived at demonstration of eternal Maya or illusion, stirred or seemed
to stir me up again.  The return to ordinary conditions of sentient
existence began by my first recovering the power of touch, and then by
the gradual though rapid influx of familiar impressions and diurnal
interests.  At last I felt myself once more a human being; and though
the riddle of what is meant by life remained unsolved I was thankful
for this return from the abyss--this deliverance from so awful an
initiation into the mysteries of skepticism.

"This trance recurred with diminishing frequency until I reached the
age of twenty-eight.  It served to impress upon my growing nature the
phantasmal unreality of all the circumstances which contribute to a
merely phenomenal consciousness. Often have I asked myself with
anguish, on waking from that formless state of denuded, keenly sentient
being, Which is the unreality--the trance of fiery, vacant,
apprehensive, skeptical Self from which I issue, or these surrounding
phenomena and habits which veil that inner Self and build a self of
flesh-and- blood conventionality?  Again, are men the factors of some
dream, the dream-like unsubstantiality of which they comprehend at such
eventful moments?  What would happen if the final stage of the trance
were reached?"[231]

[231] H. F. Brown:  J. A. Symonds. a Biography, London, 1895, pp.
29-31, abridged.

In a recital like this there is certainly something suggestive of
pathology.[232]  The next step into mystical states carries us into a
realm that public opinion and ethical philosophy have long since
branded as pathological, though private practice and certain lyric
strains of poetry seem still to bear witness to its ideality.  I refer
to the consciousness produced by intoxicants and anaesthetics,
especially by alcohol.  The sway of alcohol over mankind is
unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of
human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry
criticisms of the sober hour.  Sobriety diminishes, discriminates, and
says no; drunkenness expands, unites, and says yes.  It is in fact the
great exciter of the YES function in man.  It brings its votary from
the chill periphery of things to the radiant core.  It makes him for
the moment one with truth.  Not through mere perversity do men run
after it.  To the poor and the unlettered it stands in the place of
symphony concerts and of literature; and it is part of the deeper
mystery and tragedy of life that whiffs and gleams of something that we
immediately recognize as excellent should be vouchsafed to so many of
us only in the fleeting earlier phases of what in its totality is so
degrading a poisoning.  The drunken consciousness is one bit of the
mystic consciousness, and our total opinion of it must find its place
in our opinion of that larger whole.

[232] Crichton-Browne expressly says that Symonds's "highest nerve
centres were in some degree enfeebled or damaged by these dreamy mental
states which afflicted him so grievously." Symonds was, however, a
perfect monster of many-sided cerebral efficiency, and his critic gives
no objective grounds whatever for his strange opinion, save that
Symonds complained occasionally, as all susceptible and ambitious men
complain, of lassitude and uncertainty as to his life's mission.

Nitrous oxide and ether, especially nitrous oxide, when sufficiently
diluted with air, stimulate the mystical consciousness in an
extraordinary degree.  Depth beyond depth of truth seems revealed to
the inhaler.  This truth fades out, however, or escapes, at the moment
of coming to; and if any words remain over in which it seemed to clothe
itself, they prove to be the veriest nonsense.  Nevertheless, the sense
of a profound meaning having been there persists; and I know more than
one person who is persuaded that in the nitrous oxide trance we have a
genuine metaphysical revelation.

Some years ago I myself made some observations on this aspect of
nitrous oxide intoxication, and reported them in print.  One conclusion
was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth
has ever since remained unshaken.  It is that our normal waking
consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special
type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the
filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness
entirely different.  We may go through life without suspecting their
existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are
there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which
probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation.  No
account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these
other forms of consciousness quite disregarded.  How to regard them is
the question--for they are so discontinuous with ordinary
consciousness.  Yet they may determine attitudes though they cannot
furnish formulas, and open a region though they fail to give a map. At
any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality.
Looking back on my own experiences, they all converge towards a kind of
insight to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical
significance.  The keynote of it is invariably a reconciliation.  It is
as if the opposites of the world, whose contradictoriness and conflict
make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted into unity.  Not
only do they, as contrasted species, belong to one and the same genus,
but one of the species, the nobler and better one, is itself the genus,
and so soaks up and absorbs its opposite into itself.  This is a dark
saying, I know, when thus expressed in terms of common logic, but I
cannot wholly escape from its authority. I feel as if it must mean
something, something like what the hegelian philosophy means, if one
could only lay hold of it more clearly.  Those who have ears to hear,
let them hear; to me the living sense of its reality only comes in the
artificial mystic state of mind.[233]

[233] What reader of Hegel can doubt that that sense of a perfected
Being with all its otherness soaked up into itself, which dominates his
whole philosophy, must have come from the prominence in his
consciousness of mystical moods like this, in most persons kept
subliminal?  The notion is thoroughly characteristic of the mystical
level and the Aufgabe of making it articulate was surely set to Hegel's
intellect by mystical feeling.

I just now spoke of friends who believe in the anaesthetic revelation.
For them too it is a monistic insight, in which the OTHER in its
various forms appears absorbed into the One.

"Into this pervading genius," writes one of them, "we pass, forgetting
and forgotten, and thenceforth each is all, in God.  There is no
higher, no deeper, no other, than the life in which we are founded.
'The One remains, the many change and pass;' and each and every one of
us IS the One that remains.... This is the ultimatum....  As sure as
being--whence is all our care--so sure is content, beyond duplexity,
antithesis, or trouble, where I have triumphed in a solitude that God
is not above."[234]

[234] Benjamin Paul Blood:  The Anaesthetic Revelation and the Gist of
Philosophy, Amsterdam, N. Y., 1874, pp. 35, 36.  Mr. Blood has made
several attempts to adumbrate the anaesthetic revelation, in pamphlets
of rare literary distinction, privately printed and distributed by
himself at Amsterdam.  Xenos Clark, a philosopher, who died young at
Amherst in the '80's, much lamented by those who knew him, was also
impressed by the revelation.  "In the first place," he once wrote to
me, "Mr. Blood and I agree that the revelation is, if anything
non-emotional.  It is utterly flat.  It is, as Mr. Blood says, 'the one
sole and sufficient insight why, or not why, but how, the present is
pushed on by the past, and sucked forward by the vacuity of the future.
Its inevitableness defeats all attempts at stopping or accounting for
it.  It is all precedence and presupposition, and questioning is in
regard to it forever too late.  It is an initiation of the past.' The
real secret would be the formula by which the 'now' keeps exfoliating
out of itself, yet never escapes.  What is it, indeed, that keeps
existence exfoliating?  The formal being of anything, the logical
definition of it, is static.  For mere logic every question contains
its own answer--we simply fill the hole with the dirt we dug out.  Why
are twice two four?  Because, in fact, four is twice two.  Thus logic
finds in life no propulsion, only a momentum.  It goes because it is
a-going. But the revelation adds:  it goes because it is and WAS
a-going.  You walk, as it were, round yourself in the revelation.
Ordinary philosophy is like a hound hunting his own tail.  The more he
hunts the farther he has to go, and his nose never catches up with his
heels, because it is forever ahead of them.  So the present is already
a foregone conclusion, and I am ever too late to understand it.  But at
the moment of recovery from anaesthesis, just then, BEFORE STARTING ON
LIFE, I catch, so to speak, a glimpse of my heels, a glimpse of the
eternal process just in the act of starting.  The truth is that we
travel on a journey that was accomplished before we set out; and the
real end of philosophy is accomplished, not when we arrive at, but when
we remain in, our destination (being already there)--which may occur
vicariously in this life when we cease our intellectual questioning.
That is why there is a smile upon the face of the revelation, as we
view it.  It tells us that we are forever half a second too late--
that's all.  'You could kiss your own lips, and have all the fun to
yourself,' it says, if you only knew the trick.  It would be perfectly
easy if they would just stay there till you got round to them. Why
don't you manage it somehow?"

Dialectically minded readers of this farrago will at least recognize
the region of thought of which Mr. Clark writes, as familiar.  In his
latest pamphlet, "Tennyson's Trances and the Anaesthetic Revelation,"
Mr. Blood describes its value for life as follows:--

"The Anaesthetic Revelation is the Initiation of Man into the
Immemorial Mystery of the Open Secret of Being, revealed as the
Inevitable Vortex of Continuity.  Inevitable is the word.  Its motive
is inherent--it is what has to be.  It is not for any love or hate, nor
for joy nor sorrow, nor good nor ill.  End, beginning, or purpose, it
knows not of.

"It affords no particular of the multiplicity and variety of things but
it fills appreciation of the historical and the sacred with a secular
and intimately personal illumination of the nature and motive of
existence, which then seems reminiscent--as if it should have appeared,
or shall yet appear, to every participant thereof.

"Although it is at first startling in its solemnity, it becomes
directly such a matter of course--so old-fashioned, and so akin to
proverbs that it inspires exultation rather than fear, and a sense of
safety, as identified with the aboriginal and the universal.  But no
words may express the imposing certainty of the patient that he is
realizing the primordial, Adamic surprise of Life.

"Repetition of the experience finds it ever the same, and as if it
could not possibly be otherwise.  The subject resumes his normal
consciousness only to partially and fitfully remember its occurrence,
and to try to formulate its baffling import--with only this consolatory
afterthought:  that he has known the oldest truth, and that he has done
with human theories as to the origin, meaning, or destiny of the race.
He is beyond instruction in 'spiritual things.'

"The lesson is one of central safety:  the Kingdom is within.  All days
are judgment days:  but there can be no climacteric purpose of
eternity, nor any scheme of the whole.  The astronomer abridges the row
of bewildering figures by increasing his unit of measurement: so may we
reduce the distracting multiplicity of things to the unity for which
each of us stands.

"This has been my moral sustenance since I have known of it.  In my
first printed mention of it I declared:  'The world is no more the
alien terror that was taught me.  Spurning the cloud-grimed and still
sultry battlements whence so lately Jehovan thunders boomed, my gray
gull lifts her wing against the nightfall, and takes the dim leagues
with a fearless eye.' And now, after twenty-seven years of this
experience, the wing is grayer, but the eye is fearless still, while I
renew and doubly emphasize that declaration.  I know--as having
known--the meaning of Existence:  the sane centre of the universe-- at
once the wonder and the assurance of the soul--for which the speech of
reason has as yet no name but the Anaesthetic Revelation." --I have
considerably abridged the quotation.

This has the genuine religious mystic ring! I just now quoted J.  A.
Symonds.  He also records a mystical experience with chloroform, as

'After the choking and stifling had passed away, I seemed at first in a
state of utter blankness; then came flashes of intense light,
alternating with blackness, and with a keen vision of what was going on
in the room around me, but no sensation of touch. I thought that I was
near death; when, suddenly, my soul became aware of God, who was
manifestly dealing with me, handling me, so to speak, in an intense
personal present reality.  I felt him streaming in like light upon
me....  I cannot describe the ecstasy I felt.  Then, as I gradually
awoke from the influence of the anaesthetics, the old sense of my
relation to the world began to return, the new sense of my relation to
God began to fade.  I suddenly leapt to my feet on the chair where I
was sitting, and shrieked out, 'It is too horrible, it is too horrible,
it is too horrible,' meaning that I could not bear this
disillusionment.  Then I flung myself on the ground, and at last awoke
covered with blood, calling to the two surgeons (who were frightened),
'Why did you not kill me?  Why would you not let me die?' Only think of
it.  To have felt for that long dateless ecstasy of vision the very
God, in all purity and tenderness and truth and absolute love, and then
to find that I had after all had no revelation, but that I had been
tricked by the abnormal excitement of my brain.

"Yet, this question remains, Is it possible that the inner sense of
reality which succeeded, when my flesh was dead to impressions from
without, to the ordinary sense of physical relations, was not a
delusion but an actual experience?  Is it possible that I, in that
moment, felt what some of the saints have said they always felt, the
undemonstrable but irrefragable certainty of God?"[235]

[235] Op. cit., pp. 78-80, abridged.  I subjoin, also abridging it,
another interesting anaesthetic revelation communicated to me in
manuscript by a friend in England.  The subject, a gifted woman, was
taking ether for a surgical operation.

"I wondered if I was in a prison being tortured, and why I remembered
having heard it said that people 'learn through suffering,' and in view
of what I was seeing, the inadequacy of this saying struck me so much
that I said, aloud, 'to suffer IS to learn.'

"With that I became unconscious again, and my last dream immediately
preceded my real coming to.  It only lasted a few seconds, and was most
vivid and real to me, though it may not be clear in words.

"A great Being or Power was traveling through the sky, his foot was on
a kind of lightning as a wheel is on a rail, it was his pathway.  The
lightning was made entirely of the spirits of innumerable people close
to one another, and I was one of them.  He moved in a straight line,
and each part of the streak or flash came into its short conscious
existence only that he might travel.  I seemed to be directly under the
foot of God, and I thought he was grinding his own life up out of my
pain.  Then I saw that what he had been trying with all his might to do
was to CHANGE HIS COURSE, to BEND the line of lightning to which he was
tied, in the direction in which he wanted to go.  I felt my flexibility
and helplessness, and knew that he would succeed. He bended me, turning
his corner by means of my hurt, hurting me more than I had ever been
hurt in my life, and at the acutest point of this, as he passed, I SAW.
I understood for a moment things that I have now forgotten, things that
no one could remember while retaining sanity.  The angle was an obtuse
angle, and I remember thinking as I woke that had he made it a right or
acute angle, I should have both suffered and 'seen' still more, and
should probably have died.

"He went on and I came to.  In that moment the whole of my life passed
before me, including each little meaningless piece of distress, and I
UNDERSTOOD them.  THIS was what it had all meant, THIS was the piece of
work it had all been contributing to do.  I did not see God's purpose,
I only saw his intentness and his entire relentlessness towards his
means.  He thought no more of me than a man thinks of hurting a cork
when he is opening wine, or hurting a cartridge when he is firing.  And
yet, on waking, my first feeling was, and it came with tears, 'Domine
non sum digna,' for I had been lifted into a position for which I was
too small.  I realized that in that half hour under ether I had served
God more distinctly and purely than I had ever done in my life before,
or than I am capable of desiring to do.  I was the means of his
achieving and revealing something, I know not what or to whom, and
that, to the exact extent of my capacity for suffering.

"While regaining consciousness, I wondered why, since I had gone so
deep, I had seen nothing of what the saints call the LOVE of God,
nothing but his relentlessness.  And then I heard an answer, which I
could only just catch, saying, 'Knowledge and Love are One, and the
MEASURE is suffering'--I give the words as they came to me. With that I
came finally to (into what seemed a dream world compared with the
reality of what I was leaving), and I saw that what would be called the
'cause' of my experience was a slight operation under insufficient
ether, in a bed pushed up against a window, a common city window in a
common city street.  If I had to formulate a few of the things I then
caught a glimpse of, they would run somewhat as follows:--

"The eternal necessity of suffering and its eternal vicariousness. The
veiled and incommunicable nature of the worst sufferings;--the
passivity of genius, how it is essentially instrumental and
defenseless, moved, not moving, it must do what it does;--the
impossibility of discovery without its price;--finally, the excess of
what the suffering 'seer' or genius pays over what his generation
gains.  (He seems like one who sweats his life out to earn enough to
save a district from famine, and just as he staggers back, dying and
satisfied, bringing a lac of rupees to buy grain with, God lifts the
lac away, dropping ONE rupee, and says, 'That you may give them.  That
you have earned for them.  The rest is for ME.') I perceived also in a
way never to be forgotten, the excess of what we see over what we can

"And so on!--these things may seem to you delusions, or truisms; but
for me they are dark truths, and the power to put them into even such
words as these has been given me by an ether dream."

With this we make connection with religious mysticism pure and simple.
Symonds's question takes us back to those examples which you will
remember my quoting in the lecture on the Reality of the Unseen, of
sudden realization of the immediate presence of God.  The phenomenon in
one shape or another is not uncommon.

"I know," writes Mr. Trine, "an officer on our police force who has
told me that many times when off duty, and on his way home in the
evening, there comes to him such a vivid and vital realization of his
oneness with this Infinite Power, and this Spirit of Infinite Peace so
takes hold of and so fills him, that it seems as if his feet could
hardly keep to the pavement, so buoyant and so exhilarated does he
become by reason of this inflowing tide."[236]

[236] In Tune with the Infinite, p. 137.

Certain aspects of nature seem to have a peculiar power of awakening
such mystical moods.[237] Most of the striking cases which I have
collected have occurred out of doors.  Literature has commemorated this
fact in many passages of great beauty--this extract, for example, from
Amiel's Journal Intime:--

[237] The larger God may then swallow up the smaller one.  I take this
from Starbuck's manuscript collection:--

"I never lost the consciousness of the presence of God until I stood at
the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, Niagara.  Then I lost him in the
immensity of what I saw.  I also lost myself, feeling that I was an
atom too small for the notice of Almighty God."

I subjoin another similar case from Starbuck's collection:--

"In that time the consciousness of God's nearness came to me sometimes.
I say God, to describe what is indescribable.  A presence, I might say,
yet that is too suggestive of personality, and the moments of which I
speak did not hold the consciousness of a personality, but something in
myself made me feel myself a part of something bigger than I, that was
controlling.  I felt myself one with the grass, the trees, birds,
insects, everything in Nature.  I exulted in the mere fact of
existence, of being a part of it all--the drizzling rain, the shadows
of the clouds, the tree-trunks, and so on.  In the years following,
such moments continued to come, but I wanted them constantly.  I knew
so well the satisfaction of losing self in a perception of supreme
power and love, that I was unhappy because that perception was not
constant." The cases quoted in my third lecture, pp. 65, 66, 69, are
still better ones of this type.  In her essay, The Loss of Personality,
in The Atlantic Monthly (vol. lxxxv. p. 195), Miss Ethel D. Puffer
explains that the vanishing of the sense of self, and the feeling of
immediate unity with the object, is due to the disappearance, in these
rapturous experiences, of the motor adjustments which habitually
intermediate between the constant background of consciousness (which is
the Self) and the object in the foreground, whatever it may be.  I must
refer the reader to the highly instructive article, which seems to me
to throw light upon the psychological conditions, though it fails to
account for the rapture or the revelation-value of the experience in
the Subject's eyes.

"Shall I ever again have any of those prodigious reveries which
sometimes came to me in former days?  One day, in youth, at sunrise,
sitting in the ruins of the castle of Faucigny; and again in the
mountains, under the noonday sun, above Lavey, lying at the foot of a
tree and visited by three butterflies; once more at night upon the
shingly shore of the Northern Ocean, my back upon the sand and my
vision ranging through the Milky Way;--such grand and spacious,
immortal, cosmogonic reveries, when one reaches to the stars, when one
owns the infinite!  Moments divine, ecstatic hours; in which our
thought flies from world to world, pierces the great enigma, breathes
with a respiration broad, tranquil, and deep as the respiration of the
ocean, serene and limitless as the blue firmament; ... instants of
irresistible intuition in which one feels one's self great as the
universe, and calm as a god....  What hours, what memories!  The
vestiges they leave behind are enough to fill us with belief and
enthusiasm, as if they were visits of the Holy Ghost."[238]

[238] Op cit., i. 43-44

Here is a similar record from the memoirs of that interesting German
idealist, Malwida von Meysenbug:--

"I was alone upon the seashore as all these thoughts flowed over me,
liberating and reconciling; and now again, as once before in distant
days in the Alps of Dauphine, I was impelled to kneel down, this time
before the illimitable ocean, symbol of the Infinite.  I felt that I
prayed as I had never prayed before, and knew now what prayer really
is:  to return from the solitude of individuation into the
consciousness of unity with all that is, to kneel down as one that
passes away, and to rise up as one imperishable.  Earth, heaven, and
sea resounded as in one vast world-encircling harmony.  It was as if
the chorus of all the great who had ever lived were about me.  I felt
myself one with them, and it appeared as if I heard their greeting:
'Thou too belongest to the company of those who overcome.'"[239]

[239] Memoiren einer Idealistin, Ste Auflage, 1900, iii. 166.  For
years she had been unable to pray, owing to materialistic belief.

The well known passage from Walt Whitman is a classical expression of
this sporadic type of mystical experience.

 "I believe in you, my Soul ...
Loaf with me on the grass, loose the stop from your throat;...  Only
the lull I like, the hum of your valved voice.  I mind how once we lay,
such a transparent summer morning.  Swiftly arose and spread around me
the peace and knowledge
     that pass all the argument of the earth,
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own, And I know
that the spirit of God is the brother of my own, And that all the men
ever born are also my brothers and the
      women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love."[240]

[240] Whitman in another place expresses in a quieter way what was
probably with him a chronic mystical perception:  "There is," he
writes, "apart from mere intellect, in the make-up of every superior
human identity, a wondrous something that realizes without argument,
frequently without what is called education (though I think it the goal
and apex of all education deserving the name), an intuition of the
absolute balance, in time and space, of the whole of this
multifariousness this revel of fools, and incredible make-believe and
general unsettiedness, we call THE WORLD; a soul-sight of that divine
clue and unseen thread which holds the whole congeries of things, all
history and time, and all events, however trivial, however momentous,
like a leashed dog in the hand of the hunter.  [Of] such soul-sight and
root-centre for the mind mere optimism explains only the surface."
Whitman charges it against Carlyle that he lacked this perception.
Specimen Days and Collect, Philadelphia, 1882, p.  174.

I could easily give more instances, but one will suffice.  I take it
from the Autobiography of J. Trevor.[241]

[241] My Quest for God, London, 1897, pp. 268, 269, abridged.

"One brilliant Sunday morning, my wife and boys went to the Unitarian
Chapel in Macclesfield.  I felt it impossible to accompany them--as
though to leave the sunshine on the hills, and go down there to the
chapel, would be for the time an act of spiritual suicide.  And I felt
such need for new inspiration and expansion in my life.  So, very
reluctantly and sadly, I left my wife and boys to go down into the
town, while I went further up into the hills with my stick and my dog.
In the loveliness of the morning, and the beauty of the hills and
valleys, I soon lost my sense of sadness and regret.  For nearly an
hour I walked along the road to the 'Cat and Fiddle,' and then
returned.  On the way back, suddenly, without warning, I felt that I
was in Heaven--an inward state of peace and joy and assurance
indescribably intense, accompanied with a sense of being bathed in a
warm glow of light, as though the external condition had brought about
the internal effect--a feeling of having passed beyond the body, though
the scene around me stood out more clearly and as if nearer to me than
before, by reason of the illumination in the midst of which I seemed to
be placed.  This deep emotion lasted, though with decreasing strength,
until I reached home, and for some time after, only gradually passing

The writer adds that having had further experiences of a similar sort,
he now knows them well.

"The spiritual life," he writes, "justifies itself to those who live
it; but what can we say to those who do not understand?  This, at
least, we can say, that it is a life whose experiences are proved real
to their possessor, because they remain with him when brought closest
into contact with the objective realities of life. Dreams cannot stand
this test.  We wake from them to find that they are but dreams.
Wanderings of an overwrought brain do not stand this test.  These
highest experiences that I have had of God's presence have been rare
and brief--flashes of consciousness which have compelled me to exclaim
with surprise--God is HERE!--or conditions of exaltation and insight,
less intense, and only gradually passing away.  I have severely
questioned the worth of these moments.  To no soul have I named them,
lest I should be building my life and work on mere phantasies of the
brain.  But I find that, after every questioning and test, they stand
out to-day as the most real experiences of my life, and experiences
which have explained and justified and unified all past experiences and
all past growth.  Indeed, their reality and their far-reaching
significance are ever becoming more clear and evident.  When they came,
I was living the fullest, strongest, sanest, deepest life.  I was not
seeking them.  What I was seeking, with resolute determination, was to
live more intensely my own life, as against what I knew would be the
adverse judgment of the world.  It was in the most real seasons that
the Real Presence came, and I was aware that I was immersed in the
infinite ocean of God."[242]

[242] Op. cit., pp. 256, 257, abridged.

Even the least mystical of you must by this time be convinced of the
existence of mystical moments as states of consciousness of an entirely
specific quality, and of the deep impression which they make on those
who have them.  A Canadian psychiatrist, Dr. R. M. Bucke, gives to the
more distinctly characterized of these phenomena the name of cosmic
consciousness.  "Cosmic consciousness in its more striking instances is
not," Dr. Bucke says, "simply an expansion or extension of the
self-conscious mind with which we are all familiar, but the
superaddition of a function as distinct from any possessed by the
average man as SELF-consciousness is distinct from any function
possessed by one of the higher animals."

"The prime characteristic of cosmic consciousness is a consciousness of
the cosmos, that is, of the life and order of the universe.  Along with
the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual
enlightenment which alone would place the individual on a new plane of
existence--would make him almost a member of a new species.  To this is
added a state of moral exaltation, an indescribable feeling of
elevation, elation, and joyousness, and a quickening of the moral
sense, which is fully as striking, and more important than is the
enhanced intellectual power.  With these come what may be called a
sense of immortality, a consciousness of eternal life, not a conviction
that he shall have this, but the consciousness that he has it

[243] Cosmic Consciousness:  a study in the evolution of the human
Mind, Philadelphia, 1901, p. 2.

It was Dr. Bucke's own experience of a typical onset of cosmic
consciousness in his own person which led him to investigate it in
others.  He has printed his conclusions In a highly interesting volume,
from which I take the following account of what occurred to him:--

"I had spent the evening in a great city, with two friends, reading and
discussing poetry and philosophy.  We parted at midnight.  I had a long
drive in a hansom to my lodging.  My mind, deeply under the influence
of the ideas, images, and emotions called up by the reading and talk,
was calm and peaceful.  I was in a state of quiet, almost passive
enjoyment, not actually thinking, but letting ideas, images, and
emotions flow of themselves, as it were, through my mind.  All at once,
without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped in a flame-colored
cloud.  For an instant I thought of fire, an immense conflagration
somewhere close by in that great city; the next, I knew that the fire
was within myself.  Directly afterward there came upon me a sense of
exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed
by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe.  Among other
things, I did not merely come to believe, but I saw that the universe
is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living
Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life.  It was not a
conviction that I would have eternal life, but a consciousness that I
possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal; that the
cosmic order is such that without any peradventure all things work
together for the good of each and all; that the foundation principle of
the world, of all the worlds, is what we call love, and that the
happiness of each and all is in the long run {391} absolutely certain.
The vision lasted a few seconds and was gone; but the memory of it and
the sense of the reality of what it taught has remained during the
quarter of a century which has since elapsed.  I knew that what the
vision showed was true.  I had attained to a point of view from which I
saw that it must be true.  That view, that conviction, I may say that
consciousness, has never, even during periods of the deepest
depression, been lost."[244]

[244] Loc. cit., pp. 7, 8.  My quotation follows the privately printed
pamphlet which preceded Dr. Bucke's larger work, and differs verbally a
little from the text of the latter.

We have now seen enough of this cosmic or mystic consciousness, as it
comes sporadically.  We must next pass to its methodical cultivation as
an element of the religious life.  Hindus, Buddhists, Mohammedans, and
Christians all have cultivated it methodically.

In India, training in mystical insight has been known from time
immemorial under the name of yoga.  Yoga means the experimental union
of the individual with the divine.  It is based on persevering
exercise; and the diet, posture, breathing, intellectual concentration,
and moral discipline vary slightly in the different systems which teach
it.  The yogi, or disciple, who has by these means overcome the
obscurations of his lower nature sufficiently, enters into the
condition termed samadhi, "and comes face to face with facts which no
instinct or reason can ever know."  He learns--

"That the mind itself has a higher state of existence, beyond reason, a
superconscious state, and that when the mind gets to that higher state,
then this knowledge beyond reasoning comes....  All the different steps
in yoga are intended to bring us scientifically to the superconscious
state or Samadhi....  Just as unconscious work is beneath
consciousness, so there is another work which is above consciousness,
and which, also, is not accompanied with the feeling of egoism ....
There is no feeling of I, and yet the mind works, desireless, free from
restlessness, objectless, bodiless.  Then the Truth shines in its full
effulgence, and we know ourselves--for Samadhi lies potential in us
all--for what we truly are, free, immortal, omnipotent, loosed from the
finite, and its contrasts of good and evil altogether, and identical
with the Atman or Universal Soul."[245]

[245] My quotations are from Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, London, 1896.  The
completest source of information on Yoga is the work translated by
Vihari Lala Mtra:  Yoga Vasishta Maha Ramayana. 4 vols.  Calcutta,

The Vedantists say that one may stumble into superconsciousness
sporadically, without the previous discipline, but it is then impure.
Their test of its purity, like our test of religion's value, is
empirical:  its fruits must be good for life. When a man comes out of
Samadhi, they assure us that he remains "enlightened, a sage, a
prophet, a saint, his whole character changed, his life changed,

[246] A European witness, after carefully comparing the results of Yoga
with those of the hypnotic or dreamy states artificially producible by
us, says:  "It makes of its true disciples good, healthy, and happy
men.... Through the mastery which the yogi attains over his thoughts
and his body, he grows into a 'character.' By the subjection of his
impulses and propensities to his will, and the fixing of the latter
upon the ideal of goodness, he becomes a 'personality' hard to
influence by others, and thus almost the opposite of what we usually
imagine a medium so-called, or psychic subject to be.  Karl Kellner:
Yoga:  Eine Skizze, Munchen, 1896, p. 21.

The Buddhists used the word "samadhi" as well as the Hindus; but
"dhyana" is their special word for higher states of contemplation.
There seem to be four stages recognized in dhyana.  The first stage
comes through concentration of the mind upon one point.  It excludes
desire, but not discernment or judgment:  it is still intellectual.  In
the second stage the intellectual functions drop off, and the satisfied
sense of unity remains.  In the third stage the satisfaction departs,
and indifference begins, along with memory a self-consciousness.  In
the fourth stage the indifference, memory, and self-consciousness are
perfected.  [Just what "memory" and "self-consciousness" mean in this
connection is doubtful.  They cannot be the faculties familiar to us in
the lower life.] Higher stages still of contemplation are mentioned--a
region where there exists nothing, and where the mediator says:  "There
exists absolutely nothing," and stops. Then he reaches another region
where he says:  "There are neither ideas nor absence of ideas," and
stops again.  Then another region where, "having reached the end of
both idea and perception, he stops finally."  This would seem to be,
not yet Nirvana, but as close an approach to it as this life

[247] I follow the account in C. F. Koeppen:  Die Religion des Buddha,
Berlin, 1857, i. 585 ff.

In the Mohammedan world the Sufi sect and various dervish bodies are
the possessors of the mystical tradition.  The Sufis have existed in
Persia from the earliest times, and as their pantheism is so at
variance with the hot and rigid monotheism of the Arab mind, it has
been suggested that Sufism must have been inoculated into Islam by
Hindu influences. We Christians know little of Sufism, for its secrets
are disclosed only to those initiated.  To give its existence a certain
liveliness in your minds, I will quote a Moslem document, and pass away
from the subject.

Al-Ghazzali, a Persian philosopher and theologian, who flourished in
the eleventh century, and ranks as one of the greatest doctors of the
Moslem church, has left us one of the few autobiographies to be found
outside of Christian literature.  Strange that a species of book so
abundant among ourselves should be so little represented elsewhere--the
absence of strictly personal confessions is the chief difficulty to the
purely literary student who would like to become acquainted with the
inwardness of religions other than the Christian. M. Schmolders has
translated a part of Al-Ghazzali's autobiography into French:[248]--

[248] For a full account of him, see D. B. Macdonald:  The Life Of
Al-Ghazzali, in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1899,
vol. xx., p. 71.

"The Science of the Sufis," says the Moslem author, "aims at detaching
the heart from all that is not God, and at giving to it for sole
occupation the meditation of the divine being.  Theory being more easy
for me than practice, I read [certain books] until I understood all
that can be learned by study and hearsay.  Then I recognized that what
pertains most exclusively to their method is just what no study can
grasp, but only transport, ecstasy, and the transformation of the soul.
How great, for example, is the difference between knowing the
definitions of health, of satiety, with their causes and conditions,
and being really healthy or filled.  How different to know in what
drunkenness consists--as being a state occasioned by a vapor that rises
from the stomach--and BEING drunk effectively.  Without doubt, the
drunken man knows neither the definition of drunkenness nor what makes
it interesting for science.  Being drunk, he knows nothing; whilst the
physician, although not drunk knows well in what drunkenness consists,
and what are its predisposing conditions.  Similarly there is a
difference between knowing the nature of abstinence, and BEING
abstinent or having one's soul detached from the world.--Thus I had
learned what words could teach of Sufism, but what was left could be
learned neither by study nor through the ears, but solely by giving
one's self up to ecstasy and leading a pious life.

"Reflecting on my situation, I found myself tied down by a multitude of
bonds--temptations on every side.  Considering my teaching, I found it
was impure before God.  I saw myself struggling with all my might to
achieve glory and to spread my name.  [Here follows an account of his
six months' hesitation to break away from the conditions of his life at
Bagdad, at the end of which he fell ill with a paralysis of the
tongue.] Then, feeling my own weakness, and having entirely given up my
own will, I repaired to God like a man in distress who has no more
resources.  He answered, as he answers the wretch who invokes him.  My
heart no longer felt any difficulty in renouncing glory, wealth, and my
children.  So I quitted Bagdad, and reserving from my fortune only what
was indispensable for my subsistence, I distributed the rest.  I went
to Syria, where I remained about two years, with no other occupation
than living in retreat and solitude, conquering my desires, combating
my passions, training myself to purify my soul, to make my character
perfect, to prepare my heart for meditating on God--all according to
the methods of the Sufis, as I had read of them.

"This retreat only increased my desire to live in solitude, and to
complete the purification of my heart and fit it for meditation.  But
the vicissitudes of the times, the affairs of the family, the need of
subsistence, changed in some respects my primitive resolve, and
interfered with my plans for a purely solitary life.  I had never yet
found myself completely in ecstasy, save in a few single hours;
nevertheless, I kept the hope of attaining this state.  Every time that
the accidents led me astray, I sought to return; and in this situation
I spent ten years.  During this solitary state things were revealed to
me which it is impossible either to describe or to point out.  I
recognized for certain that the Sufis are assuredly walking in the path
of God.  Both in their acts and in their inaction, whether internal or
external, they are illumined by the light which proceeds from the
prophetic source.  The first condition for a Sufi is to purge his heart
entirely of all that is not God.  The next key of the contemplative
life consists in the humble prayers which escape from the fervent soul,
and in the meditations on God in which the heart is swallowed up
entirely.  But in reality this is only the beginning of the Sufi life,
the end of Sufism being total absorption in God.  The intuitions and
all that precede are, so to speak, only the threshold for those who
enter.  From the beginning revelations take place in so flagrant a
shape that the Sufis see before them, whilst wide awake, the angels and
the souls of the prophets.  They hear their voices and obtain their
favors.  Then the transport rises from the perception of forms and
figures to a degree which escapes all expression, and which no man may
seek to give an account of without his words involving sin.

"Whosoever has had no experience of the transport knows of the true
nature of prophetism nothing but the name.  He may meanwhile be sure of
its existence, both by experience and by what he hears the Sufis say.
As there are men endowed only with the sensitive faculty who reject
what is offered them in the way of objects of the pure understanding,
so there are intellectual men who reject and avoid the things perceived
by the prophetic faculty.  A blind man can understand nothing of colors
save what he has learned by narration and hearsay.  Yet God has brought
prophetism near to men in giving them all a state analogous to it in
its principal characters.  This state is sleep. If you were to tell a
man who was himself without experience of such a phenomenon that there
are people who at times swoon away so as to resemble dead men, and who
[in dreams] yet perceive things that are hidden, he would deny it [and
give his reasons].  Nevertheless, his arguments would be refuted by
actual experience.  Wherefore, just as the understanding is a stage of
human life in which an eye opens to discern various intellectual
objects uncomprehended by sensation; just so in the prophetic the sight
is illumined by a light which uncovers hidden things and objects which
the intellect fails to reach.  The chief properties of prophetism are
perceptible only during the transport, by those who embrace the Sufi
life.  The prophet is endowed with qualities to which you possess
nothing analogous, and which consequently you cannot possibly

How should you know their true nature, since one knows only what one
can comprehend?  But the transport which one attains by the method of
the Sufis is like an immediate perception, as if one touched the
objects with one's hand."[249]

[249] A. Schmolders:  Essai sur les ecoles philosophiques chez les
Arabes, Paris, 1842, pp. 54-68, abridged.

This incommunicableness of the transport is the keynote of all
mysticism.  Mystical truth exists for the individual who has the
transport, but for no one else.  In this, as I have said, it resembles
the knowledge given to us in sensations more than that given by
conceptual thought.  Thought, with its remoteness and abstractness, has
often enough in the history of philosophy been contrasted unfavorably
with sensation.

It is a commonplace of metaphysics that God's knowledge cannot be
discursive but must be intuitive, that is, must be constructed more
after the pattern of what in ourselves is called immediate feeling,
than after that of proposition and judgment.  But our immediate
feelings have no content but what the five senses supply; and we have
seen and shall see again that mystics may emphatically deny that the
senses play any part in the very highest type of knowledge which their
transports yield.

In the Christian church there have always been mystics. Although many
of them have been viewed with suspicion, some have gained favor in the
eyes of the authorities.  The experiences of these have been treated as
precedents, and a codified system of mystical theology has been based
upon them, in which everything legitimate finds its place.[250] The
basis of the system is "orison" or meditation, the methodical elevation
of the soul towards God.  Through the practice of orison the higher
levels of mystical experience may be attained.  It is odd that
Protestantism, especially evangelical Protestantism, should seemingly
have abandoned everything methodical in this line.  Apart from what
prayer may lead to, Protestant mystical experience appears to have been
almost exclusively sporadic.  It has been left to our mind- curers to
reintroduce methodical meditation into our religious life.

[250] Gorres's Christliche Mystik gives a full account of the facts.
So does Ribet's Mystique Divine, 2 vols., Paris, 1890.  A still more
methodical modern work is the Mystica Theologia of Vallgornera, 2
vols., Turin, 1890.

The first thing to be aimed at in orison is the mind's detachment from
outer sensations, for these interfere with its concentration upon ideal
things.  Such manuals as Saint Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises recommend
the disciple to {398} expel sensation by a graduated series of efforts
to imagine holy scenes.  The acme of this kind of discipline would be a
semi-hallucinatory mono-ideism--an imaginary figure of Christ, for
example, coming fully to occupy the mind.  Sensorial images of this
sort, whether literal or symbolic, play an enormous part in
mysticism.[251] But in certain cases imagery may fall away entirely,
and in the very highest raptures it tends to do so.  The state of
consciousness becomes then insusceptible of any verbal description.
Mystical teachers are unanimous as to this. Saint John of the Cross,
for instance, one of the best of them, thus describes the condition
called the "union of love," which, he says, is reached by "dark
contemplation."  In this the Deity compenetrates the soul, but in such
a hidden way that the soul--

"finds no terms, no means, no comparison whereby to render the
sublimity of the wisdom and the delicacy of the spiritual feeling with
which she is filled.... We receive this mystical knowledge of God
clothed in none of the kinds of images, in none of the sensible
representations, which our mind makes use of in other circumstances.
Accordingly in this knowledge, since the senses and the imagination are
not employed, we get neither form nor impression, nor can we give any
account or furnish any likeness, although the mysterious and
sweet-tasting wisdom comes home so clearly to the inmost parts of our
soul.  Fancy a man seeing a certain kind of thing for the first time in
his life. He can understand it, use and enjoy it, but he cannot apply a
name to it, nor communicate any idea of it, even though all the while
it be a mere thing of sense.  How much greater will be his
powerlessness when it goes beyond the senses! This is the peculiarity
of the divine language.  The more infused, intimate, spiritual, and
supersensible it is, the more does it exceed the senses, both inner and
outer, and impose silence upon them....

The soul then feels as if placed in a vast and profound solitude, to
which no created thing has access, in an immense and boundless desert,
desert the more delicious the more solitary it is. There, in this abyss
of wisdom, the soul grows by what it drinks in from the well-springs of
the comprehension of love, ... and recognizes, however sublime and
learned may be the terms we employ, how utterly vile, insignificant,
and improper they are, when we seek to discourse of divine things by
their means."[252]

[251] M. ReCeJac, in a recent volume, makes them essential.  Mysticism
he defines as "the tendency to draw near to the Absolute morally AND BY
THE AID OF SYMBOLS."  See his Fondements de la Connaissance mystique,
Paris, 1897, p. 66.  But there are unquestionably mystical conditions
in which sensible symbols play no part.

[252] Saint John of the Cross:  The Dark Night of the Soul, book ii.
ch. xvii., in Vie et Oeuvres, 3me edition, Paris, 1893, iii.  428-432.
Chapter xi. of book ii. of Saint John's Ascent of Carmel is devoted to
showing the harmfulness for the mystical life of the use of sensible

I cannot pretend to detail to you the sundry stages of the Christian
mystical life.[253] Our time would not suffice, for one thing; and
moreover, I confess that the subdivisions and names which we find in
the Catholic books seem to me to represent nothing objectively
distinct.  So many men, so many minds:  I imagine that these
experiences can be as infinitely varied as are the idiosyncrasies of

[253] In particular I omit mention of visual and auditory
hallucinations, verbal and graphic automatisms, and such marvels as
"levitation," stigmatization, and the healing of disease.  These
phenomena, which mystics have often presented (or are believed to have
presented), have no essential mystical significance, for they occur
with no consciousness of illumination whatever, when they occur, as
they often do, in persons of non-mystical mind.  Consciousness of
illumination is for us the essential mark of "mystical" states.

The cognitive aspects of them, their value in the way of revelation, is
what we are directly concerned with, and it is easy to show by citation
how strong an impression they leave of being revelations of new depths
of truth.  Saint Teresa is the expert of experts in describing such
conditions, so I will turn immediately to what she says of one of the
highest of them, the "orison of union."

"In the orison of union," says Saint Teresa, "the soul is fully awake
as regards God, but wholly asleep as regards things of this world and
in respect of herself.  During the short time the union lasts, she is
as it were deprived of every feeling, and even if she would, she could
not think of any single thing.  Thus she needs to employ no artifice in
order to arrest the use of her understanding:  it remains so stricken
with inactivity that she neither knows what she loves, nor in what
manner she loves, nor what she wills.  In short, she is utterly dead to
the things of the world and lives solely in God....  I do not even know
whether in this state she has enough life left to breathe.  It seems to
me she has not; or at least that if she does breathe, she is unaware of
it.  Her intellect would fain understand something of what is going on
within her, but it has so little force now that it can act in no way
whatsoever.  So a person who falls into a deep faint appears as if

"Thus does God, when he raises a soul to union with himself, suspend
the natural action of all her faculties.  She neither sees, hears, nor
understands, so long as she is united with God.  But this time is
always short, and it seems even shorter than it is.  God establishes
himself in the interior of this soul in such a way, that when she
returns to herself, it is wholly impossible for her to doubt that she
has been in God, and God in her.  This truth remains so strongly
impressed on her that, even though many years should pass without the
condition returning, she can neither forget the favor she received, nor
doubt of its reality.  If you, nevertheless, ask how it is possible
that the soul can see and understand that she has been in God, since
during the union she has neither sight nor understanding, I reply that
she does not see it then, but that she sees it clearly later, after she
has returned to herself, not by any vision, but by a certitude which
abides with her and which God alone can give her.

I knew a person who was ignorant of the truth that God's mode of being
in everything must be either by presence, by power, or by essence, but
who, after having received the grace of which I am speaking, believed
this truth in the most unshakable manner. So much so that, having
consulted a half-learned man who was as ignorant on this point as she
had been before she was enlightened, when he replied that God is in us
only by 'grace,' she disbelieved his reply, so sure she was of the true
answer; and when she came to ask wiser doctors, they confirmed her in
her belief, which much consoled her....

"But how, you will repeat, CAN one have such certainty in respect to
what one does not see?  This question, I am powerless to answer.  These
are secrets of God's omnipotence which it does not appertain to me to
penetrate.  All that I know is that I tell the truth; and I shall never
believe that any soul who does not possess this certainty has ever been
really united to God."[254]

[254] The Interior Castle, Fifth Abode, Ch. i., in Oeuvres, translated
by BOUIX, iii. 421-424.

The kinds of truth communicable in mystical ways, whether these be
sensible or supersensible, are various.  Some of them relate to this
world--visions of the future, the reading of hearts, the sudden
understanding of texts, the knowledge of distant events, for example;
but the most important revelations are theological or metaphysical.

"Saint Ignatius confessed one day to Father Laynez that a single hour
of meditation at Manresa had taught him more truths about heavenly
things than all the teachings of all the doctors put together could
have taught him....  One day in orison, on the steps of the choir of
the Dominican church, he saw in a distinct manner the plan of divine
wisdom in the creation of the world.  On another occasion, during a
procession, his spirit was ravished in God, and it was given him to
contemplate, in a form and images fitted to the weak understanding of a
dweller on the earth, the deep mystery of the holy Trinity.  This last
vision flooded his heart with such sweetness, that the mere memory of
it in after times made him shed abundant tears."[255]

[255] Bartoli-Michel:  vie de Saint Ignace de Loyola, i. 34-36.  Others
have had illuminations about the created world, Jacob Boehme for
instance.  At the age of twenty-five he was "surrounded by the divine
light, and replenished with the heavenly knowledge, insomuch as going
abroad into the fields to a green, at Gorlitz, he there sat down and
viewing the herbs and grass of the field, in his inward light he saw
into their essences, use, and properties, which was discovered to him
by their lineaments, figures, and signatures."  Of a later period of
experience he writes:  "In one quarter of an hour I saw and knew more
than if I had been many years together at an university.  For I saw and
knew the being of all things, the Byss and the Abyss, and the eternal
generation of the holy Trinity, the descent and original of the world
and of all creatures through the divine wisdom.  I knew and saw in
myself all the three worlds, the external and visible world being of a
procreation or extern birth from both the internal and spiritual
worlds; and I saw and knew the whole working essence, in the evil and
in the good, and the mutual original and existence, and likewise how
the fruitful bearing womb of eternity brought forth.  So that I did not
only greatly wonder at it, but did also exceedingly rejoice, albeit I
could very hardly apprehend the same in my external man and set it down
with the pen.  For I had a thorough view of the universe as in a chaos,
wherein all things are couched and wrapt up, but it was impossible for
me to explicate the same."  Jacob Behmen's Theosophic Philosophy, etc.,
by Edward Taylor, London, 1691, pp. 425, 427, abridged.

So George Fox:  "I was come up to the state of Adam in which he was
before he fell.  The creation was opened to me; and it was showed me,
how all things had their names given to them, according to their nature
and virtue.  I was at a stand in my mind, whether I should practice
physic for the good of mankind, seeing the nature and virtues of the
creatures were so opened to me by the Lord."   Journal, Philadelphia,
no date, p. 69.  Contemporary "Clairvoyance" abounds in similar
revelations.  Andrew Jackson Davis's cosmogonies, for example, or
certain experiences related in the delectable "Reminiscences and
Memories of Henry Thomas Butterworth," Lebanon, Ohio, 1886.

Similarly with Saint Teresa.  "One day, being in orison," she writes,
"it was granted me to perceive in one instant how all things are seen
and contained in God.  I did not perceive them in their proper form,
and nevertheless the view I had of them was of a sovereign clearness,
and has remained vividly impressed upon my soul.  It is one of the most
signal of all the graces which the Lord has granted me....  The view
was so subtile and delicate that the understanding cannot grasp

[256] Vie, pp. 581, 582.

She goes on to tell how it was as if the Deity were an enormous and
sovereignly limpid diamond, in which all our actions were contained in
such a way that their full sinfulness appeared evident as never before.
On another day, she relates, while she was reciting the Athanasian

"Our Lord made me comprehend in what way it is that one God can be in
three persons.  He made me see it so clearly that I remained as
extremely surprised as I was comforted, ... and now, when I think of
the holy Trinity, or hear It spoken of, I understand how the three
adorable Persons form only one God and I experience an unspeakable

On still another occasion, it was given to Saint Teresa to see and
understand in what wise the Mother of God had been assumed into her
place in Heaven.[257]

[257] Loc. cit., p. 574

The deliciousness of some of these states seems to be beyond anything
known in ordinary consciousness.  It evidently involves organic
sensibilities, for it is spoken of as something too extreme to be
borne, and as verging on bodily pain.[258]  But it is too subtle and
piercing a delight for ordinary words to denote.  God's touches, the
wounds of his spear, references to ebriety and to nuptial union have to
figure in the phraseology by which it is shadowed forth.  Intellect and
senses both swoon away in these highest states of ecstasy.  "If our
understanding comprehends," says Saint Teresa, "it is in a mode which
remains unknown to it, and it can understand nothing of what it
comprehends.  For my own part, I do not believe that it does
comprehend, because, as I said, it does not understand itself to do so.
I confess that it is all a mystery in which I am lost."[259] In the
condition called raptus or ravishment by theologians, breathing and
circulation are so depressed that it is a question among the doctors
whether the soul be or be not temporarily dissevered from the body.
One must read Saint Teresa's descriptions and the very exact
distinctions which she makes, to persuade one's self that one is
dealing, not with imaginary experiences, but with phenomena which,
however rare, follow perfectly definite psychological types.

[258] Saint Teresa discriminates between pain in which the body has a
part and pure spiritual pain (Interior Castle, 6th Abode, ch. xi.).  As
for the bodily part in these celestial joys, she speaks of it as
"penetrating to the marrow of the bones, whilst earthly pleasures
affect only the surface of the senses.  I think," she adds, "that this
is a just description, and I cannot make it better."   Ibid., 5th
Abode, ch. i.

[259] Vie, p. 198.

To the medical mind these ecstasies signify nothing but suggested and
imitated hypnoid states, on an intellectual basis of superstition, and
a corporeal one of degeneration and hysteria.  Undoubtedly these
pathological conditions have existed in many and possibly in all the
cases, but that fact tells us nothing about the value for knowledge of
the consciousness which they induce.  To pass a spiritual judgment upon
these states, we must not content ourselves with superficial medical
talk, but inquire into their fruits for life.

Their fruits appear to have been various.  Stupefaction, for one thing,
seems not to have been altogether absent as a result. You may remember
the helplessness in the kitchen and schoolroom of poor Margaret Mary
Alacoque.  Many other ecstatics would have perished but for the care
taken of them by admiring followers.  The "other-worldliness"
encouraged by the mystical consciousness makes this over-abstraction
from practical life peculiarly liable to befall mystics in whom the
character is naturally passive and the intellect feeble; but in
natively strong minds and characters we find quite opposite results.
The great Spanish mystics, who carried the habit of ecstasy as far as
it has often been carried, appear for the most part to have shown
indomitable spirit and energy, and all the more so for the trances in
which they indulged.

Saint Ignatius was a mystic, but his mysticism made him assuredly one
of the most powerfully practical human engines that ever lived.  Saint
John of the Cross, writing of the intuitions and "touches" by which God
reaches the substance of the soul, tells us that--

"They enrich it marvelously.  A single one of them may be sufficient to
abolish at a stroke certain imperfections of which the soul during its
whole life had vainly tried to rid itself, and to leave it adorned with
virtues and loaded with supernatural gifts.  A single one of these
intoxicating consolations may reward it for all the labors undergone in
its life--even were they numberless.  Invested with an invincible
courage, filled with an impassioned desire to suffer for its God, the
soul then is seized with a strange torment--that of not being allowed
to suffer enough."[260]

[260] Oeuvres, ii. 320.

Saint Teresa is as emphatic, and much more detailed. You may perhaps
remember a passage I quoted from her in my first lecture.[261] There
are many similar pages in her autobiography.  Where in literature is a
more evidently veracious account of the formation of a new centre of
spiritual energy, than is given in her description of the effects of
certain ecstasies which in departing leave the soul upon a higher level
of emotional excitement?

[261] Above, p. 22.

"Often, infirm and wrought upon with dreadful pains before the ecstasy,
the soul emerges from it full of health and admirably disposed for
action ... as if God had willed that the body itself, already obedient
to the soul's desires, should share in the soul's happiness.... The
soul after such a favor is animated with a degree of courage so great
that if at that moment its body should be torn to pieces for the cause
of God, it would feel nothing but the liveliest comfort.  Then it is
that promises and heroic resolutions spring up in profusion in us,
soaring desires, horror of the world, and the clear perception of our
proper nothingness....  What empire is comparable to that of a soul
who, from this sublime summit to which God has raised her, sees all the
things of earth beneath her feet, and is captivated by no one of them?
How ashamed she is of her former attachments!  How amazed at her
blindness! What lively pity she feels for those whom she recognizes
still shrouded in the darkness! ... She groans at having ever been
sensitive to points of honor, at the illusion that made her ever see as
honor what the world calls by that name.  Now she sees in this name
nothing more than an immense lie of which the world remains a victim.
She discovers, in the new light from above, that in genuine honor there
is nothing spurious, that to be faithful to this honor is to give our
respect to what deserves to be respected really, and to consider as
nothing, or as less than nothing, whatsoever perishes and is not
agreeable to God.... She laughs when she sees grave persons, persons of
orison, caring for points of honor for which she now feels profoundest
contempt.  It is suitable to the dignity of their rank to act thus,
they pretend, and it makes them more useful to others.  But she knows
that in despising the dignity of their rank for the pure love of God
they would do more good in a single day than they would effect in ten
years by preserving it.... She laughs at herself that there should ever
have been a time in her life when she made any case of money, when she
ever desired it....  Oh! if human beings might only agree together to
regard it as so much useless mud, what harmony would then reign in the
world! With what friendship we would all treat each other if our
interest in honor and in money could but disappear from earth!  For my
own part, I feel as if it would be a remedy for all our ills."[262]

[262] Vie, pp. 229, 230, 231-233, 243.

Mystical conditions may, therefore, render the soul more energetic in
the lines which their inspiration favors.  But this could be reckoned
an advantage only in case the inspiration were a true one.  If the
inspiration were erroneous, the energy would be all the more mistaken
and misbegotten. So we stand once more before that problem of truth
which confronted us at the end of the lectures on saintliness.  You
will remember that we turned to mysticism precisely to get some light
on truth.  Do mystical states establish the truth of those theological
affections in which the saintly life has its root?

In spite of their repudiation of articulate self-description, mystical
states in general assert a pretty distinct theoretic drift.  It is
possible to give the outcome of the majority of them in terms that
point in definite philosophical directions.  One of these directions is
optimism, and the other is monism. We pass into mystical states from
out of ordinary consciousness as from a less into a more, as from a
smallness into a vastness, and at the same time as from an unrest to a
rest.  We feel them as reconciling, unifying states.  They appeal to
the yes-function more than to the no-function in us. In them the
unlimited absorbs the limits and peacefully closes the account.  Their
very denial of every adjective you may propose as applicable to the
ultimate truth--He, the Self, the Atman, is to be described by "No!
no!" only, say the Upanishads[263]--though it seems on the surface to
be a no-function, is a denial made on behalf of a deeper yes.  Whoso
calls the Absolute anything in particular, or says that it is THIS,
seems implicitly to shut it off from being THAT --it is as if he
lessened it.  So we deny the "this," negating the negation which it
seems to us to imply, in the interests of the higher affirmative
attitude by which we are possessed. The fountain-head of Christian
mysticism is Dionysius the Areopagite.

He describes the absolute truth by negatives exclusively.

[263] Muller's translation, part ii. p. 180.

"The cause of all things is neither soul nor intellect; nor has it
imagination, opinion, or reason, or intelligence; nor is it reason or
intelligence; nor is it spoken or thought.  It is neither number, nor
order, nor magnitude, nor littleness, nor equality, nor inequality, nor
similarity, nor dissimilarity.  It neither stands, nor moves, nor
rests.... It is neither essence, nor eternity, nor time.  Even
intellectual contact does not belong to it.  It is neither science nor
truth.  It is not even royalty or wisdom; not one; not unity; not
divinity or goodness; nor even spirit as we know it," etc., ad

[264] T. Davidson's translation, in Journal of Speculative Philosophy,
1893, vol. xxii., p. 399.

But these qualifications are denied by Dionysius, not because the truth
falls short of them, but because it so infinitely excels them.  It is
above them.  It is SUPER-lucent, SUPER-splendent, SUPER-essential,
SUPER-sublime, SUPER EVERYTHING that can be named.  Like Hegel in his
logic, mystics journey towards the positive pole of truth only by the
"Methode der Absoluten Negativitat."[265]

[265] "Deus propter excellentiam non immerito Nihil vocatur." Scotus
Erigena, quoted by Andrew Seth:  Two Lectures on Theism, New York,
1897, p. 55.

Thus come the paradoxical expressions that so abound in mystical
writings.  As when Eckhart tells of the still desert of the Godhead,
"where never was seen difference, neither Father, Son, nor Holy Ghost,
where there is no one at home, yet where the spark of the soul is more
at peace than in itself."[266] As when Boehme writes of the Primal
Love, that "it may fitly be compared to Nothing, for it is deeper than
any Thing, and is as nothing with respect to all things, forasmuch as
it is not comprehensible by any of them.  And because it is nothing
respectively, it is therefore free from all things, and is that only
good, which a man cannot express or utter what it is, there being
nothing to which it may be compared, to express it by."[267]  Or as
when Angelus Silesius sings:--

  "Gott ist ein lauter Nichts, ihn ruhrt kein Nun noch Hier;
  Je mehr du nach ihm greiffst, je mehr entwind er dir."[268]

[266] J. Royce:  Studies in Good and Evil, p. 282.

[267] Jacob Bellmen's Dialogues on the Supersensual Life, translated by
Bernard Holland, London, 1901, p. 48.

[268] Cherubinischer Wandersmann, Strophe 25.

To this dialectical use, by the intellect, of negation as a mode of
passage towards a higher kind of affirmation, there is correlated the
subtlest of moral counterparts in the sphere of the personal will.
Since denial of the finite self and its wants, since asceticism of some
sort, is found in religious experience to be the only doorway to the
larger and more blessed life, this moral mystery intertwines and
combines with the intellectual mystery in all mystical writings.

"Love," continues Behmen, is Nothing, for "when thou art gone forth
wholly from the Creature and from that which is visible, and art become
Nothing to all that is Nature and Creature, then thou art in that
eternal One, which is God himself, and then thou shalt feel within thee
the highest virtue of Love.... The treasure of treasures for the soul
is where she goeth out of the Somewhat into that Nothing out of which
all things may be made.  The soul here saith, I HAVE NOTHING, for I am
utterly stripped and naked; I CAN DO NOTHING, for I have no manner of
power, but am as water poured out; I AM NOTHING, for all that I am is
no more than an image of Being, and only God is to me I AM; and so,
sitting down in my own Nothingness, I give glory to the eternal Being,
and WILL NOTHING of myself, that so God may will all in me, being unto
me my God and all things."[269]

[269] Op. cit., pp. 42, 74, abridged.

In Paul's language, I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.  Only
when I become as nothing can God enter in and no difference between his
life and mine remain outstanding.[270]

[270] From a French book I take this mystical expression of happiness
in God's indwelling presence:--

"Jesus has come to take up his abode in my heart.  It is not so much a
habitation, an association, as a sort of fusion.  Oh, new and blessed
life! life which becomes each day more luminous....  The wall before
me, dark a few moments since, is splendid at this hour because the sun
shines on it.  Wherever its rays fall they light up a conflagration of
glory; the smallest speck of glass sparkles, each grain of sand emits
fire; even so there is a royal song of triumph in my heart {410}
because the Lord is there.  My days succeed each other; yesterday a
blue sky; to day a clouded sun; a night filled with strange dreams; but
as soon as the eyes open, and I regain consciousness and seem to begin
life again, it is always the same figure before me, always the same
presence filling my heart....  Formerly the day was dulled by the
absence of the Lord.  I used to wake invaded by all sorts of sad
impressions, and I did not find him on my path.  To-day he is with me;
and the light cloudiness which covers things is not an obstacle to my
communion with him.  I feel the pressure of his hand, I feel something
else which fills me with a serene joy; shall I dare to speak it out?
Yes, for it is the true expression of what I experience.  The Holy
Spirit is not merely making me a visit; it is no mere dazzling
apparition which may from one moment to another spread its wings and
leave me in my night, it is a permanent habitation.  He can depart only
if he takes me with him.  More than that; he is not other than myself:
he is one with me.  It is not a juxtaposition, it is a penetration, a
profound modification of my nature, a new manner of my being." Quoted
from the MS. of an old man by Wilfred Monod: II Vit: six meditations
sur le mystere chretien, pp. 280-283.

This overcoming of all the usual barriers between the individual and
the Absolute is the great mystic achievement.  In mystic states we both
become one with the Absolute and we become aware of our oneness.  This
is the everlasting and triumphant mystical tradition, hardly altered by
differences of clime or creed.  In Hinduism, in Neoplatonism, in
Sufism, in Christian mysticism, in Whitmanism, we find the same
recurring note, so that there is about mystical utterances an eternal
unanimity which ought to make a critic stop and think, and which brings
it about that the mystical classics have, as has been said, neither
birthday nor native land.  Perpetually telling of the unity of man with
God, their speech antedates languages, and they do not grow old.[271]

[271] Compare M. Maeterlinck:  L'Ornement des Noces spirituelles de
Ruysbroeck, Bruxelles, 1891, Introduction, p. xix.

"That art Thou!" say the Upanishads, and the Vedantists add: "Not a
part, not a mode of That, but identically That, that absolute Spirit of
the World."  "As pure water poured into pure water remains the same,
thus, O Gautama, is the Self of a thinker who knows.  Water in water,
fire in fire, ether in ether, no one can distinguish them:  likewise a
man whose mind has entered into the Self."[272]  "'Every man,' says the
Sufi Gulshan-Raz, whose heart is no longer shaken by any doubt, knows
with certainty that there is no being save only One....  In his divine
majesty the ME, and WE, the THOU, are not found, for in the One there
can be no distinction. Every being who is annulled and entirely
separated from himself, hears resound outside of him this voice and
this echo:  I AM GOD:  he has an eternal way of existing, and is no
longer subject to death.'"[273]  In the vision of God, says Plotinus,
"what sees is not our reason, but something prior and superior to our
reason....  He who thus sees does not properly see, does not
distinguish or imagine two things.  He changes, he ceases to be
himself, preserves nothing of himself.  Absorbed in God, he makes but
one with him, like a centre of a circle coinciding with another
centre."[274]  "Here," writes Suso, "the spirit dies, and yet is all
alive in the marvels of the Godhead ... and is lost in the stillness of
the glorious dazzling obscurity and of the naked simple unity. It is in
this modeless WHERE that the highest bliss is to be found."[275]  "Ich
bin so gross als Gott," sings Angelus Silesius again, "Er ist als ich
so klein; Er kann nicht uber mich, ich unter ihm nicht sein."[276]

[272] Upanishads, M. Muller's translation, ii. 17, 334.

[273] Schmolders: Op. cit., p. 210.

[274] Enneads, Bouillier's translation. Paris, 1861, iii.  561.
Compare pp. 473-477, and vol. i. p. 27.

[275] Autobiography, pp. 309, 310.

[276] Op. cit., Strophe 10.

In mystical literature such self-contradictory phrases as "dazzling
obscurity," "whispering silence," "teeming desert," are continually met
with.  They prove that not conceptual speech, but music rather, is the
element through which we are best spoken to by mystical truth.  Many
mystical scriptures are indeed little more than musical compositions.

"He who would hear the voice of Nada, 'the Soundless Sound,' and
comprehend it, he has to learn the nature of Dharana....  When to
himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees
in dreams, when he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the
ONE--the inner sound which kills the outer....  For then the soul will
hear, and will remember.  And then to the inner ear will speak THE
VOICE OF THE SILENCE....  And now thy SELF is lost in SELF, THYSELF
unto THYSELF, merged in that SELF from which thou first didst radiate..
.  . Behold! thou hast become the Light, thou hast become the Sound,
thou art thy Master and thy God.  Thou art THYSELF the object of thy
search:  the VOICE unbroken, that resounds throughout eternities,
exempt from change, from sin exempt, the seven sounds in one, the VOICE
OF THE SILENCE.  Om tat Sat."[277]

[277] H. P. Blavatsky:  The voice of the Silence.

These words, if they do not awaken laughter as you receive them,
probably stir chords within you which music and language touch in
common.  Music gives us ontological messages which non-musical
criticism is unable to contradict, though it may laugh at our
foolishness in minding them.  There is a verge of the mind which these
things haunt; and whispers therefrom mingle with the operations of our
understanding, even as the waters of the infinite ocean send their
waves to break among the pebbles that lie upon our shores.

  "Here begins the sea that ends not till the world's end.  Where
      we stand,
  Could we know the next high sea-mark set beyond these waves
      that gleam,
  We should know what never man hath known, nor eye of man
      hath scanned....
  Ah, but here man's heart leaps, yearning towards the gloom
      with venturous glee,
  From the shore that hath no shore beyond it, set in all the

[278] Swinburne:  On the Verge, in "A Midsummer vacation."

That doctrine, for example, that eternity is timeless, that our
"immortality," if we live in the eternal, is not so much future as
already now and here, which we find so often expressed to-day in
certain philosophic circles, finds its support in a "hear, hear!" or an
"amen," which floats up from that mysteriously deeper level.[279]  We
recognize the passwords to the mystical region as we hear them, but we
cannot use them ourselves; it alone has the keeping of "the password

[279] Compare the extracts from Dr. Bucke, quoted on pp. 398, 399.

[280] As serious an attempt as I know to mediate between the mystical
region and the discursive life is contained in an article on
Aristotle's Unmoved Mover, by F. C. S. Schiller, in Mind, vol. ix.,

I have now sketched with extreme brevity and insufficiency, but as
fairly as I am able in the time allowed, the general traits of the
mystic range of consciousness.  It is on the whole pantheistic and
optimistic, or at least the opposite of pessimistic.  It is
anti-naturalistic, and harmonizes best with twice-bornness and
so-called other-worldly states mind.

My next task is to inquire whether we can invoke it as authoritative.
Does it furnish any WARRANT FOR THE TRUTH of the twice-bornness and
supernaturality and pantheism which it favors?

I must give my answer to this question as concisely as I can.  In brief
my answer is this--and I will divide it into three parts:--

(1) Mystical states, when well developed, usually are, and have the
right to be, absolutely authoritative over the individuals to whom they

(2) No authority emanates from them which should make it a duty for
those who stand outside of them to accept their revelations

(3) They break down the authority of the non-mystical or rationalistic
consciousness, based upon the understanding and the senses alone.  They
show it to be only one kind of consciousness.

They open out the possibility of other orders of truth, in which, so
far as anything in us vitally responds to them, we may freely continue
to have faith.

I will take up these points one by one.


As a matter of psychological fact, mystical states of a well-pronounced
and emphatic sort ARE usually authoritative over those who have
them.[281] They have been "there," and know.  It is vain for
rationalism to grumble about this. If the mystical truth that comes to
a man proves to be a force that he can live by, what mandate have we of
the majority to order him to live in another way?  We can throw him
into a prison or a madhouse, but we cannot change his mind--we commonly
attach it only the more stubbornly to its beliefs.[282] It mocks our
utmost efforts, as a matter of fact, and in point of logic it
absolutely escapes our jurisdiction.  Our own more "rational" beliefs
are based on evidence exactly similar in nature to that which mystics
quote for theirs.  Our senses, namely, have assured us of certain
states of fact; but mystical experiences are as direct perceptions of
fact for those who have them as any sensations ever were for us.  The
records show that even though the five senses be in abeyance in them,
they are absolutely sensational in their epistemological quality, if I
may be pardoned the barbarous expression--that is, they are face to
face presentations of what seems immediately to exist. [281] I abstract
from weaker states, and from those cases of which the books are full,
where the director (but usually not the subject) remains in doubt
whether the experience may not have proceeded from the demon.

[282] Example:  Mr. John Nelson writes of his imprisonment for
preaching Methodism:  "My soul was as a watered garden, and I could
sing praises to God all day long; for he turned my captivity into joy,
and gave me to rest as well on the boards, as if I had been on a bed of
down.  Now could I say, 'God's service is perfect freedom,' and I was
carried out much in prayer that my enemies might drink of the same
river of peace which my God gave so largely to me."  Journal, London,
no date, p. 172.

The mystic is, in short, INVULNERABLE, and must be left, whether we
relish it or not, in undisturbed enjoyment of his creed.  Faith, says
Tolstoy, is that by which men live. And faith-state and mystic state
are practically convertible terms.


But I now proceed to add that mystics have no right to claim that we
ought to accept the deliverance of their peculiar experiences, if we
are ourselves outsiders and feel no private call thereto.  The utmost
they can ever ask of us in this life is to admit that they establish a
presumption.  They form a consensus and have an unequivocal outcome;
and it would be odd, mystics might say, if such a unanimous type of
experience should prove to be altogether wrong.  At bottom, however,
this would only be an appeal to numbers, like the appeal of rationalism
the other way; and the appeal to numbers has no logical force.  If we
acknowledge it, it is for "suggestive," not for logical reasons:  we
follow the majority because to do so suits our life.

But even this presumption from the unanimity of mystics is far from
being strong.  In characterizing mystic states an pantheistic,
optimistic, etc., I am afraid I over-simplified the truth.  I did so
for expository reasons, and to keep the closer to the classic mystical
tradition.  The classic religious mysticism, it now must be confessed,
is only a "privileged case."

It is an EXTRACT, kept true to type by the selection of the fittest
specimens and their preservation in "schools." It is carved out from a
much larger mass; and if we take the larger mass as seriously as
religious mysticism has historically taken itself, we find that the
supposed unanimity largely disappears.  To begin with, even religious
mysticism itself, the kind that accumulates traditions and makes
schools, is much less unanimous than I have allowed.  It has been both
ascetic and antinomianly self-indulgent within the Christian
church.[283] It is dualistic in Sankhya, and monistic in Vedanta
philosophy.  I called it pantheistic; but the great Spanish mystics are
anything but pantheists.  They are with few exceptions non-metaphysical
minds, for whom "the category of personality" is absolute.  The "union"
of man with God is for them much more like an occasional miracle than
like an original identity.[284]  How different again, apart from the
happiness common to all, is the mysticism of Walt Whitman, Edward
Carpenter, Richard Jefferies, and other naturalistic pantheists, from
the more distinctively Christian sort.[285]  The fact is that the
mystical feeling of enlargement, union, and emancipation has no
specific intellectual content whatever of its own.  It is capable of
forming matrimonial alliances with material furnished by the most
diverse philosophies and theologies, provided only they can find a
place in their framework for its peculiar emotional mood.  We have no
right, therefore, to invoke its prestige as distinctively in favor of
any special belief, such as that in absolute idealism, or in the
absolute monistic identity, or in the absolute goodness, of the world.
It is only relatively in favor of all these things--it passes out of
common human consciousness in the direction in which they lie.

[283] Ruysbroeck, in the work which Maeterlinck has translated, has a
chapter against the antinomianism of disciples.  H.  Delacroix's book
(Essai sur le mysticisme speculatif en Allemagne au XIVme Siecle,
Paris, 1900) is full of antinomian material.  compare also A. Jundt:
Les Amis de Dieu au XIV Siecle, These de Strasbourg, 1879.

[284] Compare Paul Rousselot:  Les Mystiques Espagnols, Paris, 1869,
ch. xii.

[285] see Carpenter's Towards Democracy, especially the latter parts,
and Jefferies's wonderful and splendid mystic rhapsody, The Story of my

So much for religious mysticism proper.  But more remains to be told,
for religious mysticism is only one half of mysticism.  The other half
has no accumulated traditions except those which the text-books on
insanity supply.  Open any one of these, and you will find abundant
cases in which "mystical ideas" are cited as characteristic symptoms of
enfeebled or deluded states of mind.  In delusional insanity, paranoia,
as they sometimes call it, we may have a DIABOLICAL mysticism, a sort
of religious mysticism turned upside down. The same sense of ineffable
importance in the smallest events, the same texts and words coming with
new meanings, the same voices and visions and leadings and missions,
the same controlling by extraneous powers; only this time the emotion
is pessimistic:  instead of consolations we have desolations; the
meanings are dreadful; and the powers are enemies to life.  It is
evident that from the point of view of their psychological mechanism,
the classic mysticism and these lower mysticisms spring from the same
mental level, from that great subliminal or transmarginal region of
which science is beginning to admit the existence, but of which so
little is really known.  That region contains every kind of matter:
"seraph and snake" abide there side by side.  To come from thence is no
infallible credential.  What comes must be sifted and tested, and run
the gauntlet of confrontation with the total context of experience,
just like what comes from the outer world of sense.  Its value must be
ascertained by empirical methods, so long as we are not mystics

Once more, then, I repeat that non-mystics are under no obligation to
acknowledge in mystical states a superior authority conferred on them
by their intrinsic nature.[286]

[286] In chapter i. of book ii. of his work Degeneration, "Max Nordau"
seeks to undermine all mysticism by exposing the weakness of the lower
kinds.  Mysticism for him means any sudden perception of hidden
significance in things.  He explains such perception by the abundant
uncompleted associations which experiences may arouse in a degenerate
brain.  These give to him who has the experience a vague and vast sense
of its leading further, yet they awaken no definite or useful
consequent in his thought.  The explanation is a plausible one for
certain sorts of feeling of significance, and other alienists
(Wernicke, for example, in his Grundriss der Psychiatrie, Theil ii.,
Leipzig, 1896) have explained "paranoiac" conditions by a laming of the
association-organ.  But the higher mystical flights, with their
positiveness and abruptness, are surely products of no such merely
negative condition.  It seems far more reasonable to ascribe them to
inroads from the subconscious life, of the cerebral activity
correlative to which we as yet know nothing.


Yet, I repeat once more, the existence of mystical states absolutely
overthrows the pretension of non-mystical states to be the sole and
ultimate dictators of what we may believe. As a rule, mystical states
merely add a supersensuous meaning to the ordinary outward data of
consciousness.  They are excitements like the emotions of love or
ambition, gifts to our spirit by means of which facts already
objectively before us fall into a new expressiveness and make a new
connection with our active life.  They do not contradict these facts as
such, or deny anything that our senses have immediately seized.[287] It
is the rationalistic critic rather who plays the part of denier in the
controversy, and his denials have no strength, for there never can be a
state of facts to which new meaning may not truthfully be added,
provided the mind ascend to a more enveloping point of view.  It must
always remain an open question whether mystical states may not possibly
be such superior points of view, windows through which the mind looks
out upon a more extensive and inclusive world.  The difference of the
views seen from the different mystical windows need not prevent us from
entertaining this supposition.  The wider world would in that case
prove to have a mixed constitution like that of this world, that is
all.  It would have its celestial and its infernal regions, its
tempting and its saving moments, its valid experiences and its
counterfeit ones, just as our world has them; but it would be a wider
world all the same.  We should have to use its experiences by selecting
and subordinating and substituting just as is our custom in this
ordinary naturalistic world; we should be liable to error just as we
are now; yet the counting in of that wider world of meanings, and the
serious dealing with it, might, in spite of all the perplexity, be
indispensable stages in our approach to the final fullness of the truth.

[287] They sometimes add subjective audita et visa to the facts, but as
these are usually interpreted as transmundane, they oblige no
alteration in the facts of sense.

In this shape, I think, we have to leave the subject.  Mystical states
indeed wield no authority due simply to their being mystical states.
But the higher ones among them point in directions to which the
religious sentiments even of non- mystical men incline.  They tell of
the supremacy of the ideal, of vastness, of union, of safety, and of
rest.  They offer us HYPOTHESES, hypotheses which we may voluntarily
ignore, but which as thinkers we cannot possibly upset.  The
supernaturalism and optimism to which they would persuade us may,
interpreted in one way or another, be after all the truest of insights
into the meaning of this life.

"Oh, the little more, and how much it is; and the little less, and what
worlds away!"  It may be that possibility and permission of this sort
are all that are religious consciousness requires to live on.  In my
last lecture I shall have to try to persuade you that this is the case.
Meanwhile, however, I am sure that for many of my readers this diet is
too slender. If supernaturalism and inner union with the divine are
true, you think, then not so much permission, as compulsion to believe,
ought to be found.  Philosophy has always professed to prove religious
truth by coercive argument; and the construction of philosophies of
this kind has always been one favorite function of the religious life,
if we use this term in the large historic sense.  But religious
philosophy is an enormous subject, and in my next lecture I can only
give that brief glance at it which my limits will allow.

Lecture XVIII


The subject of Saintliness left us face to face with the question, Is
the sense of divine presence a sense of anything objectively true?  We
turned first to mysticism for an answer, and found that although
mysticism is entirely willing to corroborate religion, it is too
private (and also too various) in its utterances to be able to claim a
universal authority.  But philosophy publishes results which claim to
be universally valid if they are valid at all, so we now turn with our
question to philosophy.  Can philosophy stamp a warrant of veracity
upon the religious man's sense of the divine?

I imagine that many of you at this point begin to indulge in guesses at
the goal to which I am tending.  I have undermined the authority of
mysticism, you say, and the next thing I shall probably do is to seek
to discredit that of philosophy.  Religion, you expect to hear me
conclude, is nothing but an affair of faith, based either on vague
sentiment, or on that vivid sense of the reality of things unseen of
which in my second lecture and in the lecture on Mysticism I gave so
many examples.  It is essentially private and individualistic; it
always exceeds our powers of formulation; and although attempts to pour
its contents into a philosophic mould will probably always go on, men
being what they are, yet these attempts are always secondary processes
which in no way add to the authority, or warrant the veracity, of the
sentiments from which they derive their own stimulus and borrow
whatever glow of conviction they may themselves possess.

In short, you suspect that I am planning to defend feeling at the
expense of reason, to rehabilitate the primitive and unreflective, and
to dissuade you from the hope of any Theology worthy of the name.

To a certain extent I have to admit that you guess rightly. I do
believe that feeling is the deeper source of religion, and that
philosophic and theological formulas are secondary products, like
translations of a text into another tongue.  But all such statements
are misleading from their brevity, and it will take the whole hour for
me to explain to you exactly what I mean.

When I call theological formulas secondary products, I mean that in a
world in which no religious feeling had ever existed, I doubt whether
any philosophic theology could ever have been framed.  I doubt if
dispassionate intellectual contemplation of the universe, apart from
inner unhappiness and need of deliverance on the one hand and mystical
emotion on the other, would ever have resulted in religious
philosophies such as we now possess.  Men would have begun with
animistic explanations of natural fact, and criticised these away into
scientific ones, as they actually have done. In the science they would
have left a certain amount of "psychical research," even as they now
will probably have to re-admit a certain amount.  But high-flying
speculations like those of either dogmatic or idealistic theology,
these they would have had no motive to venture on, feeling no need of
commerce with such deities.  These speculations must, it seems to me,
be classed as over-beliefs, buildings-out performed by the intellect
into directions of which feeling originally supplied the hint.

But even if religious philosophy had to have its first hint supplied by
feeling, may it not have dealt in a superior way with the matter which
feeling suggested?  Feeling is private and dumb, and unable to give an
account of itself.  It allows that its results are mysteries and
enigmas, declines to justify them rationally, and on occasion is
willing that they should even pass for paradoxical and absurd.
Philosophy takes just the opposite attitude.  Her aspiration is to
reclaim from mystery and paradox whatever territory she touches.  To
find an escape from obscure and wayward personal persuasion to truth
objectively valid for all thinking men has ever been the intellect's
most cherished ideal.  To redeem religion from unwholesome privacy, and
to give public status and universal right of way to its deliverances,
has been reason's task.

I believe that philosophy will always have opportunity to labor at this
task.[288] We are thinking beings, and we cannot exclude the intellect
from participating in any of our functions.  Even in soliloquizing with
ourselves, we construe our feelings intellectually.  Both our personal
ideals and our religious and mystical experiences must be interpreted
congruously with the kind of scenery which our thinking mind inhabits.
The philosophic climate of our time inevitably forces its own clothing
on us.  Moreover, we must exchange our feelings with one another, and
in doing so we have to speak, and to use general and abstract verbal
formulas. Conceptions and constructions are thus a necessary part of
our religion; and as moderator amid the clash of hypotheses, and
mediator among the criticisms of one man's constructions by another,
philosophy will always have much to do.

It would be strange if I disputed this, when these very lectures which
I am giving are (as you will see more clearly from now onwards) a
laborious attempt to extract from the privacies of religious experience
some general facts which can be defined in formulas upon which
everybody may agree.

[288] Compare Professor W. Wallace's Gifford Lectures, in Lectures and
Essays, Oxford, 1898, pp. 17 ff.

Religious experience, in other words, spontaneously and inevitably
engenders myths, superstitions, dogmas, creeds, and metaphysical
theologies, and criticisms of one set of these by the adherents of
another.  Of late, impartial classifications and comparisons have
become possible, alongside of the denunciations and anathemas by which
the commerce between creeds used exclusively to be carried on.  We have
the beginnings of a "Science of Religions," so-called; and if these
lectures could ever be accounted a crumb-like contribution to such a
science, I should be made very happy.

But all these intellectual operations, whether they be constructive or
comparative and critical, presuppose immediate experiences as their
subject-matter.  They are interpretative and inductive operations,
operations after the fact, consequent upon religious feeling, not
coordinate with it, not independent of what it ascertains.

The intellectualism in religion which I wish to discredit pretends to
be something altogether different from this.  It assumes to construct
religious objects out of the resources of logical reason alone, or of
logical reason drawing rigorous inference from non-subjective facts.
It calls its conclusions dogmatic theology, or philosophy of the
absolute, as the case may be; it does not call them science of
religions.  It reaches them in an a priori way, and warrants their

Warranted systems have ever been the idols of aspiring souls.
All-inclusive, yet simple; noble, clean, luminous, stable, rigorous,
true;--what more ideal refuge could there be than such a system would
offer to spirits vexed by the muddiness and accidentality of the world
of sensible things? Accordingly, we find inculcated in the theological
schools of to-day, almost as much as in those of the fore-time, a
disdain for merely possible or probable truth, and of results that only
private assurance can grasp. Scholastics and idealists both express
this disdain.  Principal John Caird, for example, writes as follows in
his Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion:--

"Religion must indeed be a thing of the heart, but in order to elevate
it from the region of subjective caprice and waywardness, and to
distinguish between that which is true and false in religion, we must
appeal to an objective standard.  That which enters the heart must
first be discerned by the intelligence to be TRUE.  It must be seen as
having in its own nature a RIGHT to dominate feeling, and as
constituting the principle by which feeling must be judged.[289] In
estimating the religious character of individuals, nations, or races,
the first question is, not how they feel, but what they think and
believe--not whether their religion is one which manifests itself in
emotions, more or less vehement and enthusiastic, but what are the
CONCEPTIONS of God and divine things by which these emotions are called
forth.  Feeling is necessary in religion, but it is by the CONTENT or
intelligent basis of a religion, and not by feeling, that its character
and worth are to be determined."[290]

[289] Op. cit., p. 174, abridged.

[290] Ibid., p. 186, abridged and italicized.

Cardinal Newman, in his work, The Idea of a University, gives more
emphatic expression still to this disdain for sentiment.[291] Theology,
he says, is a science in the strictest sense of the word.  I will tell
you, he says, what it is not-- not "physical evidences" for God, not
"natural religion," for these are but vague subjective

[291] Discourse II.  Section 7.

"If," he continues, "the Supreme Being is powerful or skillful, just so
far as the telescope shows power, or the microscope shows skill, if his
moral law is to be ascertained simply by the physical processes of the
animal frame, or his will gathered from the immediate issues of human
affairs, if his Essence is just as high and deep and broad as the
universe and no more if this be the fact, then will I confess that
there is no specific science about God, that theology is but a name,
and a protest in its behalf an hypocrisy.  Then, pious as it is to
think of Him while the pageant of experiment or abstract reasoning
passes by, still such piety is nothing more than a poetry of thought,
or an ornament of language, a certain view taken of Nature which one
man has and another has not, which gifted minds strike out, which
others see to be admirable and ingenious, and which all would be the
better for adopting.  It is but the theology of Nature, just as we talk
of the PHILOSOPHY or the ROMANCE of history, or the POETRY of
childhood, or the picturesque or the sentimental or the humorous, or
any other abstract quality which the genius or the caprice of the
individual, or the fashion of the day, or the consent of the world,
recognizes in any set of objects which are subjected to its
contemplation.  I do not see much difference between avowing that there
is no God, and implying that nothing definite can be known for certain
about Him."

What I mean by Theology, continues Newman, is none of these things:  "I
simply mean the SCIENCE OF GOD, or the truths we know about God, put
into a system, just as we have a science of the stars and call it
astronomy, or of the crust of the earth and call it geology."

In both these extracts we have the issue clearly set before us: Feeling
valid only for the individual is pitted against reason valid
universally.  The test is a perfectly plain one of fact.  Theology
based on pure reason must in point of fact convince men universally.
If it did not, wherein would its superiority consist?  If it only
formed sects and schools, even as sentiment and mysticism form them,
how would it fulfill its programme of freeing us from personal caprice
and waywardness?  This perfectly definite practical test of the
pretensions of philosophy to found religion on universal reason
simplifies my procedure to-day.  I need not discredit philosophy by
laborious criticism of its arguments. It will suffice if I show that as
a matter of history it fails to prove its pretension to be
"objectively" convincing.  In fact, philosophy does so fail.  It does
not banish differences; it founds schools and sects just as feeling
does.  I believe, in fact, that the logical reason of man operates in
this field of divinity exactly as it has always operated in love, or in
patriotism, or in politics, or in any other of the wider affairs of
life, in which our passions or our mystical intuitions fix our beliefs
beforehand.  It finds arguments for our conviction, for indeed it HAS
to find them.  It amplifies and defines our faith, and dignifies it and
lends it words and plausibility.  It hardly ever engenders it; it
cannot now secure it.[292]

[292] As regards the secondary character of intellectual constructions,
and the primacy of feeling and instinct in founding religious beliefs
see the striking work of H. Fielding, The Hearts of Men, London, 1902,
which came into my hands after my text was written.  "Creeds," says the
author, "are the grammar of religion, they are to religion what grammar
is to speech.  Words are the expression of our wants grammar is the
theory formed afterwards.  Speech never proceeded from grammar, but the
reverse.  As speech progresses and changes from unknown causes, grammar
must follow" (p. 313).  The whole book, which keeps unusually close to
concrete facts, is little more than an amplification of this text.

Lend me your attention while I run through some of the points of the
older systematic theology.  You find them in both Protestant and
Catholic manuals, best of all in the innumerable text-books published
since Pope Leo's Encyclical recommending the study of Saint Thomas.  I
glance first at the arguments by which dogmatic theology establishes
God's existence, after that at those by which it establishes his

[293] For convenience' sake, I follow the order of A. Stockl's Lehrbuch
der Philosophie, 5te Autlage, Mainz, 1881, Band ii.  B.  Boedder's
Natural Theology, London, 1891, is a handy English Catholic Manual; but
an almost identical doctrine is given by such Protestant theologians as
C. Hodge:  Systematic Theology, New York, 1873, or A. H. Strong:
Systematic Theology, 5th edition, New York, 1896.

The arguments for God's existence have stood for hundreds of years with
the waves of unbelieving criticism breaking against them, never totally
discrediting them in the ears of the faithful, but on the whole slowly
and surely washing out the mortar from between their joints.  If you
have a God already whom you believe in, these arguments confirm you. If
you are atheistic, they fail to set you right.  The proofs are various.
The "cosmological" one, so-called, reasons from the contingence of the
world to a First Cause which must contain whatever perfections the
world itself contains.  The "argument from design" reasons, from the
fact that Nature's laws are mathematical, and her parts benevolently
adapted to each other, that this cause is both intellectual and
benevolent. The "moral argument" is that the moral law presupposes a
lawgiver.  The "argument ex consensu gentium" is that the belief in God
is so widespread as to be grounded in the rational nature of man, and
should therefore carry authority with it.

As I just said, I will not discuss these arguments technically.  The
bare fact that all idealists since Kant have felt entitled either to
scout or to neglect them shows that they are not solid enough to serve
as religion's all-sufficient foundation.  Absolutely impersonal reasons
would be in duty bound to show more general convincingness.  Causation
is indeed too obscure a principle to bear the weight of the whole
structure of theology.  As for the argument from design, see how
Darwinian ideas have revolutionized it.  Conceived as we now conceive
them, as so many fortunate escapes from almost limitless processes of
destruction, the benevolent adaptations which we find in Nature suggest
a deity very different from the one who figured in the earlier versions
of the argument.[294] The fact is that these arguments do but follow
the combined suggestions of the facts and of our feeling.  They prove
nothing rigorously.  They only corroborate our preexistent partialities.

[294] It must not be forgotten that any form of DISorder in the world
might, by the design argument, suggest a God for just that kind of
disorder.  The truth is that any state of things whatever that can be
named is logically susceptible of teleological interpretation. The
ruins of the earthquake at Lisbon, for example:  the whole of past
history had to be planned exactly as it was to bring about in the
fullness of time just that particular arrangement of debris of masonry,
furniture, and once living bodies.  No other train of causes would have
been sufficient.  And so of any other arrangement, bad or good, which
might as a matter of fact be found resulting anywhere from previous
conditions.  To avoid such pessimistic consequences and save its
beneficent designer, the design argument accordingly invokes two other
principles, restrictive in their operation.  The first is physical:
Nature's forces tend of their own accord only to disorder and
destruction, to heaps of ruins, not to architecture.

This principle, though plausible at first sight, seems, in the light of
recent biology, to be more and more improbable.  The second principle
is one of anthropomorphic interpretation.  No arrangement that for us
is "disorderly" can possibly have been an object of design at all.
This principle is of course a mere assumption in the interests of
anthropomorphic Theism.

When one views the world with no definite theological bias one way or
the other, one sees that order and disorder, as we now recognize them,
are purely human inventions.  We are interested in certain types of
arrangement, useful, aesthetic, or moral--so interested that whenever
we find them realized, the fact emphatically rivets our attention.  The
result is that we work over the contents of the world selectively.  It
is overflowing with disorderly arrangements from our point of view, but
order is the only thing we care for and look at, and by choosing, one
can always find some sort of orderly arrangement in the midst of any
chaos.  If I should throw down a thousand beans at random upon a table,
I could doubtless, by eliminating a sufficient number of them, leave
the rest in almost any geometrical pattern you might propose to me, and
you might then say that that pattern was the thing prefigured
beforehand, and that the other beans were mere irrelevance and packing
material.  Our dealings with Nature are just like this.  She is a vast
plenum in which our attention draws capricious lines in innumerable
directions.  We count and name whatever lies upon the special lines we
trace, whilst the other things and the untraced lines are neither named
nor counted. There are in reality infinitely more things "unadapted" to
each other in this world than there are things "adapted"; infinitely
more things with irregular relations than with regular relations
between them.  But we look for the regular kind of thing exclusively,
and ingeniously discover and preserve it in our memory.  It accumulates
with other regular kinds, until the collection of them fills our
encyclopaedias.  Yet all the while between and around them lies an
infinite anonymous chaos of objects that no one ever thought of
together, of relations that never yet attracted our attention.

The facts of order from which the physico-theological argument starts
are thus easily susceptible of interpretation as arbitrary human
products.  So long as this is the case, although of course no argument
against God follows, it follows that the argument for him will fail to
constitute a knockdown proof of his existence.  It will be convincing
only to those who on other grounds believe in him already.

If philosophy can do so little to establish God's existence, how stands
it with her efforts to define his attributes?  It is worth while to
look at the attempts of systematic theology in this direction.

Since God is First Cause, this science of sciences says, he differs
from all his creatures in possessing existence a se.  From this
"a-se-ity" on God's part, theology deduces by mere logic most of his
other perfections.  For instance, he must be both NECESSARY and
ABSOLUTE, cannot not be, and cannot in any way be determined by
anything else.  This makes Him absolutely unlimited from without, and
unlimited also from within; for limitation is non-being; and God is
being itself.  This unlimitedness makes God infinitely perfect.
Moreover, God is ONE, and ONLY, for the infinitely perfect can admit no
peer.  He is SPIRITUAL, for were He composed of physical parts, some
other power would have to combine them into the total, and his aseity
would thus be contradicted.  He is therefore both simple and
non-physical in nature.  He is SIMPLE METAPHYSICALLY also, that is to
say, his nature and his existence cannot be distinct, as they are in
finite substances which share their formal natures with one another,
and are individual only in their material aspect.  Since God is one and
only, his essentia and his esse must be given at one stroke.  This
excludes from his being all those distinctions, so familiar in the
world of finite things, between potentiality and actuality, substance
and accidents, being and activity, existence and attributes.  We can
talk, it is true, of God's powers, acts, and attributes, but these
discriminations are only "virtual," and made from the human point of
view.  In God all these points of view fall into an absolute identity
of being.

This absence of all potentiality in God obliges Him to be IMMUTABLE.
He is actuality, through and through.  Were there anything potential
about Him, He would either lose or gain by its actualization, and
either loss or gain would contradict his perfection.  He cannot,
therefore, change.  Furthermore, He is IMMENSE, BOUNDLESS; for could He
be outlined in space, He would be composite, and this would contradict
his indivisibility. He is therefore OMNIPRESENT, indivisibly there, at
every point of space.  He is similarly wholly present at every point of
time--in other words ETERNAL.  For if He began in time, He would need a
prior cause, and that would contradict his aseity.  If He ended it
would contradict his necessity.  If He went through any succession, it
would contradict his immutability.

He has INTELLIGENCE and WILL and every other creature- perfection, for
we have them, and effectus nequit superare causam.  In Him, however,
they are absolutely and eternally in act, and their OBJECT, since God
can be bounded by naught that is external, can primarily be nothing
else than God himself.  He knows himself, then, in one eternal
indivisible act, and wills himself with an infinite self-pleasure.[295]
Since He must of logical necessity thus love and will himself, He
cannot be called "free" ad intra, with the freedom of contrarieties
that characterizes finite creatures.  Ad extra, however, or with
respect to his creation, God is free.  He cannot NEED to create, being
perfect in being and in happiness already.  He WILLS to create, then,
by an absolute freedom.

[295] For the scholastics the facultas appetendi embraces feeling,
desire, and will.

Being thus a substance endowed with intellect and will and freedom, God
is a PERSON; and a LIVING person also, for He is both object and
subject of his own activity, and to be this distinguishes the living
from the lifeless.  He is thus absolutely SELF-SUFFICIENT:  his
SELF-KNOWLEDGE and SELF-LOVE are both of them infinite and adequate,
and need no extraneous conditions to perfect them.

He is OMNISCIENT, for in knowing himself as Cause He knows all creature
things and events by implication.  His knowledge is previsive, for He
is present to all time.  Even our free acts are known beforehand to
Him, for otherwise his wisdom would admit of successive moments of
enrichment, and this would contradict his immutability.  He is
OMNIPOTENT for everything that does not involve logical contradiction.
He can make BEING --in other words his power includes CREATION.  If
what He creates were made of his own substance, it would have to be
infinite in essence, as that substance is; but it is finite; so it must
be non-divine in substance.  If it were made of a substance, an
eternally existing matter, for example, which God found there to his
hand, and to which He simply gave its form, that would contradict God's
definition as First Cause, and make Him a mere mover of something
caused already.  The things he creates, then, He creates ex nihilo, and
gives them absolute being as so many finite substances additional to
himself.  The forms which he imprints upon them have their prototypes
in his ideas.  But as in God there is no such thing as multiplicity,
and as these ideas for us are manifold, we must distinguish the ideas
as they are in God and the way in which our minds externally imitate
them.  We must attribute them to Him only in a TERMINATIVE sense, as
differing aspects, from the finite point of view, of his unique essence.

God of course is holy, good, and just.  He can do no evil, for He is
positive being's fullness, and evil is negation.  It is true that He
has created physical evil in places, but only as a means of wider good,
for bonum totius praeeminet bonum partis. Moral evil He cannot will,
either as end or means, for that would contradict his holiness.  By
creating free beings He PERMITS it only, neither his justice nor his
goodness obliging Him to prevent the recipients of freedom from
misusing the gift.

As regards God's purpose in creating, primarily it can only have been
to exercise his absolute freedom by the manifestation to others of his
glory.  From this it follows that the others must be rational beings,
capable in the first place of knowledge, love, and honor, and in the
second place of happiness, for the knowledge and love of God is the
mainspring of felicity.  In so far forth one may say that God's
secondary purpose in creating is LOVE.

I will not weary you by pursuing these metaphysical determinations
farther, into the mysteries of God's Trinity, for example.  What I have
given will serve as a specimen of the orthodox philosophical theology
of both Catholics and Protestants.  Newman, filled with enthusiasm at
God's list of perfections, continues the passage which I began to quote
to you by a couple of pages of a rhetoric so magnificent that I can
hardly refrain from adding them, in spite of the inroad they would make
upon our time.[296]  He first enumerates God's attributes sonorously,
then celebrates his ownership of everything in earth and Heaven, and
the dependence of all that happens upon his permissive will.  He gives
us scholastic philosophy "touched with emotion," and every philosophy
should be touched with emotion to be rightly understood.  Emotionally,
then, dogmatic theology is worth something to minds of the type of
Newman's.  It will aid us to estimate what it is worth intellectually,
if at this point I make a short digression.

[296] Op. cit., Discourse III. Section 7.

What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. The Continental
schools of philosophy have too often overlooked the fact that man's
thinking is organically connected with his conduct.  It seems to me to
be the chief glory of English and Scottish thinkers to have kept the
organic connection in view.  The guiding principle of British
philosophy has in fact been that every difference must MAKE a
difference, every theoretical difference somewhere issue in a practical
difference, and that the best method of discussing points of theory is
to begin by ascertaining what practical difference would result from
one alternative or the other being true.  What is the particular truth
in question KNOWN AS?  In what facts does it result?  What is its
cash-value in terms of particular experience?  This is the
characteristic English way of taking up a question.  In this way, you
remember, Locke takes up the question of personal identity.  What you
mean by it is just your chain of particular memories, says he.  That is
the only concretely verifiable part of its significance.  All further
ideas about it, such as the oneness or manyness of the spiritual
substance on which it is based, are therefore void of intelligible
meaning; and propositions touching such ideas may be indifferently
affirmed or denied.  So Berkeley with his "matter."

The cash-value of matter is our physical sensations.  That is what it
is known as, all that we concretely verify of its conception.  That,
therefore, is the whole meaning of the term "matter"--any other
pretended meaning is mere wind of words.  Hume does the same thing with
causation.  It is known as habitual antecedence, and as tendency on our
part to look for something definite to come.  Apart from this practical
meaning it has no significance whatever, and books about it may be
committed to the flames, says Hume.  Dugald Stewart and Thomas Brown,
James Mill, John Mill, and Professor Bain, have followed more or less
consistently the same method; and Shadworth Hodgson has used the
principle with full explicitness.  When all is said and done, it was
English and Scotch writers, and not Kant, who introduced "the critical
method" into philosophy, the one method fitted to make philosophy a
study worthy of serious men.  For what seriousness can possibly remain
in debating philosophic propositions that will never make an
appreciable difference to us in action?  And what could it matter, if
all propositions were practically indifferent, which of them we should
agree to call true or which false?

An American philosopher of eminent originality, Mr. Charles Sanders
Peirce, has rendered thought a service by disentangling from the
particulars of its application the principle by which these men were
instinctively guided, and by singling it out as fundamental and giving
to it a Greek name.  He calls it the principle of PRAGMATISM, and he
defends it somewhat as follows:[297]--

[297] In an article, How to make our Ideas Clear, in the Popular
Science Monthly for January, 1878, vol. xii. p. 286.

Thought in movement has for its only conceivable motive the attainment
of belief, or thought at rest.  Only when our thought about a subject
has found its rest in belief can our action on the subject firmly and
safely begin.  Beliefs, in short, are rules for action; and the whole
function of thinking is but one step in the production of active
habits.  If there were any part of a thought that made no difference in
the thought's practical consequences, then that part would be no proper
element of the thought's significance.  To develop a thought's meaning
we need therefore only determine what conduct it is fitted to produce;
that conduct is for us its sole significance; and the tangible fact at
the root of all our thought-distinctions is that there is no one of
them so fine as to consist in anything but a possible difference of
practice.  To attain perfect clearness in our thoughts of an object, we
need then only consider what sensations, immediate or remote, we are
conceivably to expect from it, and what conduct we must prepare in case
the object should be true.  Our conception of these practical
consequences is for us the whole of our conception of the object, so
far as that conception has positive significance at all.

This is the principle of Peirce, the principle of pragmatism.  Such a
principle will help us on this occasion to decide, among the various
attributes set down in the scholastic inventory of God's perfections,
whether some be not far less significant than others.

If, namely, we apply the principle of pragmatism to God's metaphysical
attributes, strictly so called, as distinguished from his moral
attributes, I think that, even were we forced by a coercive logic to
believe them, we still should have to confess them to be destitute of
all intelligible significance. Take God's aseity, for example; or his
necessariness; his immateriality; his "simplicity" or superiority to
the kind of inner variety and succession which we find in finite
beings, his indivisibility, and lack of the inner distinctions of being
and activity, substance and accident, potentiality and actuality, and
the rest; his repudiation of inclusion in a genus; his actualized
infinity; his "personality," apart from the moral qualities which it
may comport; his relations to evil being permissive and not positive;
his self-sufficiency, self-love, and absolute felicity in
himself:--candidly speaking, how do such qualities as these make any
definite connection with our life?  And if they severally call for no
distinctive adaptations of our conduct, what vital difference can it
possibly make to a man's religion whether they be true or false?

For my own part, although I dislike to say aught that may grate upon
tender associations, I must frankly confess that even though these
attributes were faultlessly deduced, I cannot conceive of its being of
the smallest consequence to us religiously that any one of them should
be true.  Pray, what specific act can I perform in order to adapt
myself the better to God's simplicity?  Or how does it assist me to
plan my behavior, to know that his happiness is anyhow absolutely
complete?  In the middle of the century just past, Mayne Reid was the
great writer of books of out-of-door adventure. He was forever
extolling the hunters and field-observers of living animals' habits,
and keeping up a fire of invective against the "closet-naturalists," as
he called them, the collectors and classifiers, and handlers of
skeletons and skins.  When I was a boy, I used to think that a closet-
naturalist must be the vilest type of wretch under the sun. But surely
the systematic theologians are the closet-naturalists of the deity,
even in Captain Mayne Reid's sense.  What is their deduction of
metaphysical attributes but a shuffling and matching of pedantic
dictionary-adjectives, aloof from morals, aloof from human needs,
something that might be worked out from the mere word "God" by one of
those logical machines of wood and brass which recent ingenuity has
contrived as well as by a man of flesh and blood.  They have the trail
of the serpent over them.  One feels that in the theologians' hands,
they are only a set of titles obtained by a mechanical manipulation of
synonyms; verbality has stepped into the place of vision,
professionalism into that of life.  Instead of bread we have a stone;
instead of a fish, a serpent.  Did such a conglomeration of abstract
terms give really the gist of our knowledge of the deity, schools of
theology might indeed continue to flourish, but religion, vital
religion, would have taken its flight from this world. What keeps
religion going is something else than abstract definitions and systems
of concatenated adjectives, and something different from faculties of
theology and their professors.  All these things are after-effects,
secondary accretions upon those phenomena of vital conversation with
the unseen divine, of which I have shown you so many instances,
renewing themselves in saecula saeculorum in the lives of humble
private men.

So much for the metaphysical attributes of God!  From the point of view
of practical religion, the metaphysical monster which they offer to our
worship is an absolutely worthless invention of the scholarly mind.

What shall we now say of the attributes called moral?  Pragmatically,
they stand on an entirely different footing. They positively determine
fear and hope and expectation, and are foundations for the saintly
life.  It needs but a glance at them to show how great is their

God's holiness, for example:  being holy, God can will nothing but the
good.  Being omnipotent, he can secure its triumph.  Being omniscient,
he can see us in the dark.  Being just, he can punish us for what he
sees.  Being loving, he can pardon too.  Being unalterable, we can
count on him securely.  These qualities enter into connection with our
life, it is highly important that we should be informed concerning
them.  That God's purpose in creation should be the manifestation of
his glory is also an attribute which has definite relations to our
practical life.  Among other things it has given a definite character
to worship in all Christian countries.  If dogmatic theology really
does prove beyond dispute that a God with characters like these exists,
she may well claim to give a solid basis to religious sentiment.  But
verily, how stands it with her arguments?

It stands with them as ill as with the arguments for his existence.
Not only do post-Kantian idealists reject them root and branch, but it
is a plain historic fact that they never have converted any one who has
found in the moral complexion of the world, as he experienced it,
reasons for doubting that a good God can have framed it.  To prove
God's goodness by the scholastic argument that there is no non-being in
his essence would sound to such a witness simply silly.

No! the book of Job went over this whole matter once for all and
definitively.  Ratiocination is a relatively superficial and unreal
path to the deity:  "I will lay mine hand upon my mouth; I have heard
of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee."  An
intellect perplexed and baffled, yet a trustful sense of presence--such
is the situation of the man who is sincere with himself and with the
facts, but who remains religious still.[298]

[298] Pragmatically, the most important attribute of God is his
punitive justice.  But who, in the present state of theological opinion
on that point, will dare maintain that hell fire or its equivalent in
some shape is rendered certain by pure logic?  Theology herself has
largely based this doctrine upon revelation, and, in discussing it, has
tended more and more to substitute conventional ideas of criminal law
for a priori principles of reason.  But the very notion that this
glorious universe, with planets and winds, and laughing sky and ocean,
should have been conceived and had its beams and rafters laid in
technicalities of criminality, is incredible to our modern imagination.
It weakens a religion to hear it argued upon such a basis.

We must therefore, I think, bid a definitive good-by to dogmatic
theology.  In all sincerity our faith must do without that warrant.
Modern idealism, I repeat, has said goodby to this theology forever.
Can modern idealism give faith a better warrant, or must she still rely
on her poor self for witness?

The basis of modern idealism is Kant's doctrine of the Transcendental
Ego of Apperception.  By this formidable term Kant merely meant the
fact that the consciousness "I think them" must (potentially or
actually) accompany all our objects.  Former skeptics had said as much,
but the "I" in question had remained for them identified with the
personal individual.  Kant abstracted and depersonalized it, and made
it the most universal of all his categories, although for Kant himself
the Transcendental Ego had no theological implications.

It was reserved for his successors to convert Kant's notion of
Bewusstsein uberhaupt, or abstract consciousness, into an infinite
concrete self-consciousness which is the soul of the world, and in
which our sundry personal self-consciousnesses have their being.  It
would lead me into technicalities to show you even briefly how this
transformation was in point of fact effected.  Suffice it to say that
in the Hegelian school, which to-day so deeply influences both British
and American thinking, two principles have borne the brunt of the

The first of these principles is that the old logic of identity never
gives us more than a post-mortem dissection of disjecta membra, and
that the fullness of life can be construed to thought only by
recognizing that every object which our thought may propose to itself
involves the notion of some other object which seems at first to negate
the first one.

The second principle is that to be conscious of a negation is already
virtually to be beyond it.  The mere asking of a question or expression
of a dissatisfaction proves that the answer or the satisfaction is
already imminent; the finite, realized as such, is already the infinite
in posse.

Applying these principles, we seem to get a propulsive force into our
logic which the ordinary logic of a bare, stark self-identity in each
thing never attains to.  The objects of our thought now ACT within our
thought, act as objects act when given in experience.  They change and
develop. They introduce something other than themselves along with
them; and this other, at first only ideal or potential, presently
proves itself also to be actual.  It supersedes the thing at first
supposed, and both verifies and corrects it, in developing the fullness
of its meaning.

The program is excellent; the universe IS a place where things are
followed by other things that both correct and fulfill them; and a
logic which gave us something like this movement of fact would express
truth far better than the traditional school-logic, which never gets of
its own accord from anything to anything else, and registers only
predictions and subsumptions, or static resemblances and differences.
Nothing could be more unlike the methods of dogmatic theology than
those of this new logic.  Let me quote in illustration some passages
from the Scottish transcendentalist whom I have already named.

"How are we to conceive," Principal Caird writes, "of the reality in
which all intelligence rests?"  He replies:  "Two things may without
difficulty be proved, viz., that this reality is an absolute Spirit,
and conversely that it is only in communion with this absolute Spirit
or Intelligence that the finite Spirit can realize itself.  It is
absolute; for the faintest movement of human intelligence would be
arrested, if it did not presuppose the absolute reality of
intelligence, of thought itself.  Doubt or denial themselves presuppose
and indirectly affirm it.  When I pronounce anything to be true, I
pronounce it, indeed, to be relative to thought, but not to be relative
to my thought, or to the thought of any other individual mind.  From
the existence of all individual minds as such I can abstract; I can
think them away.  But that which I cannot think away is thought or
self-consciousness itself, in its independence and absoluteness, or, in
other words, an Absolute Thought or Self-Consciousness."

Here, you see, Principal Caird makes the transition which Kant did not
make:  he converts the omnipresence of consciousness in general as a
condition of "truth" being anywhere possible, into an omnipresent
universal consciousness, which he identifies with God in his
concreteness.  He next proceeds to use the principle that to
acknowledge your limits is in essence to be beyond them; and makes the
transition to the religious experience of individuals in the following

"If [Man] were only a creature of transient sensations and impulses, of
an ever coming and going succession of intuitions, fancies, feelings,
then nothing could ever have for him the character of objective truth
or reality.  But it is the prerogative of man's spiritual nature that
he can yield himself up to a thought and will that are infinitely
larger than his own.  As a thinking self-conscious being, indeed, he
may be said, by his very nature, to live in the atmosphere of the
Universal Life.

As a thinking being, it is possible for me to suppress and quell in my
consciousness every movement of self-assertion, every notion and
opinion that is merely mine, every desire that belongs to me as this
particular Self, and to become the pure medium of a thought that is
universal--in one word, to live no more my own life, but let my
consciousness be possessed and suffused by the Infinite and Eternal
life of spirit.  And yet it is just in this renunciation of self that I
truly gain myself, or realize the highest possibilities of my own
nature.  For whilst in one sense we give up self to live the universal
and absolute life of reason, yet that to which we thus surrender
ourselves is in reality our truer self.  The life of absolute reason is
not a life that is foreign to us."

Nevertheless, Principal Caird goes on to say, so far as we are able
outwardly to realize this doctrine, the balm it offers remains
incomplete.  Whatever we may be in posse, the very best of us in actu
falls very short of being absolutely divine. Social morality, love, and
self-sacrifice even, merge our Self only in some other finite self or
selves.  They do not quite identify it with the Infinite.  Man's ideal
destiny, infinite in abstract logic, might thus seem in practice
forever unrealizable.

"Is there, then," our author continues, "no solution of the
contradiction between the ideal and the actual?  We answer, There is
such a solution, but in order to reach it we are carried beyond the
sphere of morality into that of religion.  It may be said to be the
essential characteristic of religion as contrasted with morality, that
it changes aspiration into fruition, anticipation into realization;
that instead of leaving man in the interminable pursuit of a vanishing
ideal, it makes him the actual partaker of a divine or infinite life.
Whether we view religion from the human side or the divine--as the
surrender of the soul to God, or as the life of God in the soul--in
either aspect it is of its very essence that the Infinite has ceased to
be a far-off vision, and has become a present reality.  The very first
pulsation of the spiritual life, when we rightly apprehend its
significance, is the indication that the division between the Spirit
and its object has vanished, that the ideal has become real, that the
finite has reached its goal and become suffused with the presence and
life of the Infinite.

"Oneness of mind and will with the divine mind and will is not the
future hope and aim of religion, but its very beginning and birth in
the soul.  To enter on the religious life is to terminate the struggle.
In that act which constitutes the beginning of the religious life--call
it faith, or trust, or self-surrender, or by whatever name you
will--there is involved the identification of the finite with a life
which is eternally realized.  It is true indeed that the religious life
is progressive; but understood in the light of the foregoing idea,
religious progress is not progress TOWARDS, but WITHIN the sphere of
the Infinite.  It is not the vain attempt by endless finite additions
or increments to become possessed of infinite wealth, but it is the
endeavor, by the constant exercise of spiritual activity, to
appropriate that infinite inheritance of which we are already in
possession.  The whole future of the religious life is given in its
beginning, but it is given implicitly.  The position of the man who has
entered on the religious life is that evil, error, imperfection, do not
really belong to him:  they are excrescences which have no organic
relation to his true nature: they are already virtually, as they will
be actually, suppressed and annulled, and in the very process of being
annulled they become the means of spiritual progress.  Though he is not
exempt from temptation and conflict, [yet] in that inner sphere in
which his true life lies, the struggle is over, the victory already
achieved.  It is not a finite but an infinite life which the spirit
lives.  Every pulse-beat of its [existence] is the expression and
realization of the life of God."[299]

[299] John Caird:  An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion London
and New York, 1880, pp. 243-250, and 291-299, much abridged.

You will readily admit that no description of the phenomena of the
religious consciousness could be better than these words of your
lamented preacher and philosopher. They reproduce the very rapture of
those crises of conversion of which we have been hearing; they utter
what the mystic felt but was unable to communicate; and the saint, in
hearing them, recognizes his own experience.  It is indeed gratifying
to find the content of religion reported so unanimously.  But when all
is said and done, has Principal Caird--and I only use him as an example
of that whole mode of thinking--transcended the sphere of feeling and
of the direct experience of the individual, and laid the foundations of
religion in impartial reason?  Has he made religion universal by
coercive reasoning, transformed it from a private faith into a public
certainty?  Has he rescued its affirmations from obscurity and mystery?

I believe that he has done nothing of the kind, but that he has simply
reaffirmed the individual's experiences in a more generalized
vocabulary.  And again, I can be excused from proving technically that
the transcendentalist reasonings fail to make religion universal, for I
can point to the plain fact that a majority of scholars, even
religiously disposed ones, stubbornly refuse to treat them as
convincing.  The whole of Germany, one may say, has positively rejected
the Hegelian argumentation.  As for Scotland, I need only mention
Professor Fraser's and Professor Pringle-Pattison's memorable
criticisms, with which so many of you are familiar.[300]  Once more, I
ask, if transcendental idealism were {445} as objectively and
absolutely rational as it pretends to be, could it possibly fail so
egregiously to be persuasive?

[300] A. C. Fraser:  Philosophy of Theism, second edition, Edinburgh
and London, 1899, especially part ii, chaps. vii. and viii.  A. Seth
[Pringle-Pattison]:  Hegelianism and Personality, Ibid., 1890, passim.

The most persuasive arguments in favor of a concrete individual Soul of
the world, with which I am acquainted, are those of my colleague,
Josiah Royce, in his Religious Aspect of Philosophy, Boston, 1885; in
his Conception of God, New York and London, 1897; and lately in his
Aberdeen Gifford Lectures, The World and the Individual, 2 vols., New
York and London, 1901-02.  I doubtless seem to some of my readers to
evade the philosophic duty which my thesis in this lecture imposes on
me, by not even attempting to meet Professor Royce's arguments
articulately.  I admit the momentary evasion.  In the present lectures,
which are cast throughout in a popular mould, there seemed no room for
subtle metaphysical discussion, and for tactical purposes it was
sufficient the contention of philosophy being what it is (namely, that
religion can be transformed into a universally convincing science), to
point to the fact that no religious philosophy has actually convinced
the mass of thinkers.  Meanwhile let me say that I hope that the
present volume may be followed by another, if I am spared to write it,
in which not only Professor Royce's arguments, but others for monistic
absolutism shall be considered with all the technical fullness which
their great importance calls for.  At present I resign myself to lying
passive under the reproach of superficiality.

What religion reports, you must remember, always purports to be a fact
of experience:  the divine is actually present, religion says, and
between it and ourselves relations of give and take are actual.  If
definite perceptions of fact like this cannot stand upon their own
feet, surely abstract reasoning cannot give them the support they are
in need of.  Conceptual processes can class facts, define them,
interpret them; but they do not produce them, nor can they reproduce
their individuality.  There is always a PLUS, a THISNESS, which feeling
alone can answer for.  Philosophy in this sphere is thus a secondary
function, unable to warrant faith's veracity, and so I revert to the
thesis which I announced at the beginning of this lecture.

In all sad sincerity I think we must conclude that the attempt to
demonstrate by purely intellectual processes the truth of the
deliverances of direct religious experience is absolutely hopeless.

It would be unfair to philosophy, however, to leave her under this
negative sentence.  Let me close, then, by briefly enumerating what she
CAN do for religion.  If she will abandon metaphysics and deduction for
criticism and induction, and frankly transform herself from theology
into science of religions, she can make herself enormously useful.

The spontaneous intellect of man always defines the divine which it
feels in ways that harmonize with its temporary intellectual
prepossessions.  Philosophy can by comparison eliminate the local and
the accidental from these definitions.  Both from dogma and from
worship she can remove historic incrustations.  By confronting the
spontaneous religious constructions with the results of natural
science, philosophy can also eliminate doctrines that are now known to
be scientifically absurd or incongruous.

Sifting out in this way unworthy formulations, she can leave a residuum
of conceptions that at least are possible. With these she can deal as
HYPOTHESES, testing them in all the manners, whether negative or
positive, by which hypotheses are ever tested.  She can reduce their
number, as some are found more open to objection.  She can perhaps
become the champion of one which she picks out as being the most
closely verified or verifiable.  She can refine upon the definition of
this hypothesis, distinguishing between what is innocent over-belief
and symbolism in the expression of it, and what is to be literally
taken.  As a result, she can offer mediation between different
believers, and help to bring about consensus of opinion.  She can do
this the more successfully, the better she discriminates the common and
essential from the individual and local elements of the religious
beliefs which she compares.

I do not see why a critical Science of Religions of this sort might not
eventually command as general a public adhesion as is commanded by a
physical science.  Even the personally non-religious might accept its
conclusions on trust, much as blind persons now accept the facts of
optics--it might appear as foolish to refuse them.  Yet as the science
of optics has to be fed in the first instance, and continually verified
later, by facts experienced by seeing persons; so the science of
religions would depend for its original material on facts of personal
experience, and would have to square itself with personal experience
through all its critical reconstructions.  It could never get away from
concrete life, or work in a conceptual vacuum.  It would forever have
to confess, as every science confesses, that the subtlety of nature
flies beyond it, and that its formulas are but approximations.
Philosophy lives in words, but truth and fact well up into our lives in
ways that exceed verbal formulation.  There is in the living act of
perception always something that glimmers and twinkles and will not be
caught, and for which reflection comes too late.  No one knows this as
well as the philosopher.  He must fire his volley of new vocables out
of his conceptual shotgun, for his profession condemns him to this
industry, but he secretly knows the hollowness and irrelevancy. His
formulas are like stereoscopic or kinetoscopic photographs seen outside
the instrument; they lack the depth, the motion, the vitality.  In the
religious sphere, in particular, belief that formulas are true can
never wholly take the place of personal experience.

In my next lecture I will try to complete my rough description of
religious experience; and in the lecture after that, which is the last
one, I will try my hand at formulating conceptually the truth to which
it is a witness.

Lecture XIX


We have wound our way back, after our excursion through mysticism and
philosophy, to where we were before:  the uses of religion, its uses to
the individual who has it, and the uses of the individual himself to
the world, are the best arguments that truth is in it.  We return to
the empirical philosophy:  the true is what works well, even though the
qualification "on the whole" may always have to be added.  In this
lecture we must revert to description again, and finish our picture of
the religious consciousness by a word about some of its other
characteristic elements.  Then, in a final lecture, we shall be free to
make a general review and draw our independent conclusions.

The first point I will speak of is the part which the aesthetic life
plays in determining one's choice of a religion.  Men, I said awhile
ago, involuntarily intellectualize their religious experience.  They
need formulas, just as they need fellowship in worship.  I spoke,
therefore, too contemptuously of the pragmatic uselessness of the
famous scholastic list of attributes of the deity, for they have one
use which I neglected to consider.  The eloquent passage in which
Newman enumerates them[301] puts us on the track of it.  Intoning them
as he would intone a cathedral service, he shows how high is their
aesthetic value.  It enriches our bare piety to carry these exalted and
mysterious verbal additions just as it enriches a church to have an
organ and old brasses, marbles and frescoes and stained windows.
Epithets lend an atmosphere and overtones to our devotion.  They are
like a hymn of praise and service of glory, and may sound the more
sublime for being incomprehensible.  Minds like Newman's[302] grow as
jealous of their credit as heathen priests are of that of the jewelry
and ornaments that blaze upon their idols.

[301] Idea of a University, Discourse III.  Section 7.

[302] Newman's imagination so innately craved an ecclesiastical system
that he can write:  "From the age of fifteen, dogma has been the
fundamental principle of my religion:  I know no other religion; I
cannot enter into the idea of any other sort of religion."  And again
speaking of himself about the age of thirty, he writes:  "I loved to
act as feeling myself in my Bishop's sight, as if it were the sight of
God."  Apologia, 1897, pp. 48, 50.

Among the buildings-out of religion which the mind spontaneously
indulges in, the aesthetic motive must never be forgotten.  I promised
to say nothing of ecclesiastical systems in these lectures.  I may be
allowed, however, to put in a word at this point on the way in which
their satisfaction of certain aesthetic needs contributes to their hold
on human nature.  Although some persons aim most at intellectual purity
and simplification, for others RICHNESS is the supreme imaginative
requirement.[303] When one's mind is strongly of this type, an
individual religion will hardly serve the purpose. The inner need is
rather of something institutional and complex, majestic in the
hierarchic interrelatedness of its parts, with authority descending
from stage to stage, and at every stage objects for adjectives of
mystery and splendor, derived in the last resort from the Godhead who
is the fountain and culmination of the system.  One feels then as if in
presence of some vast incrusted work of jewelry or architecture; one
hears the multitudinous liturgical appeal; one gets the honorific
vibration coming from every quarter.  Compared with such a noble
complexity, in which ascending and descending movements seem in no way
to jar upon stability, in which no single item, however humble, is
insignificant, because so many august institutions hold it in its
place, how flat does evangelical Protestantism appear, how bare the
atmosphere of those isolated religious lives whose boast it is that
"man in the bush with God may meet."[304] What a pulverization and
leveling of what a gloriously piled-up structure!  To an imagination
used to the perspectives of dignity and glory, the naked gospel scheme
seems to offer an almshouse for a palace.

[303] The intellectual difference is quite on a par in practical
importance with the analogous difference in character.  We saw, under
the head of Saintliness, how some characters resent confusion and must
live in purity, consistency, simplicity (above, p. 275 ff.).  For
others, on the contrary, superabundance, over-pressure, stimulation,
lots of superficial relations, are indispensable.  There are men who
would suffer a very syncope if you should pay all their debts, bring it
about that their engagements had been kept, their letters answered
their perplexities relieved, and their duties fulfilled, down to one
which lay on a clean table under their eyes with nothing to interfere
with its immediate performance.  A day stripped so staringly bare would
be for them appalling.  So with ease, elegance, tributes of affection,
social recognitions--some of us require amounts of these things which
to others would appear a mass of lying and sophistication.

[304] In Newman's Lectures on Justification Lecture VIII.  Section 6,
there is a splendid passage expressive of this aesthetic way of feeling
the Christian scheme.  It is unfortunately too long to quote.

It is much like the patriotic sentiment of those brought up in ancient
empires.  How many emotions must be frustrated of their object, when
one gives up the titles of dignity, the crimson lights and blare of
brass, the gold embroidery, the plumed troops, the fear and trembling,
and puts up with a president in a black coat who shakes hands with you,
and comes, it may be, from a "home" upon a veldt or prairie with one
sitting-room and a Bible on its centre-table.  It pauperizes the
monarchical imagination!

The strength of these aesthetic sentiments makes it rigorously
impossible, it seems to me, that Protestantism, however superior in
spiritual profundity it may be to Catholicism, should at the present
day succeed in making many converts from the more venerable
ecclesiasticism.  The latter offers a so much richer pasturage and
shade to the fancy, has so many cells with so many different kinds of
honey, is so indulgent in its multiform appeals to human nature, that
Protestantism will always show to Catholic eyes the almshouse
physiognomy.  The bitter negativity of it is to the Catholic mind
incomprehensible.  To intellectual Catholics many of the antiquated
beliefs and practices to which the Church gives countenance are, if
taken literally, as childish as they are to Protestants.  But they are
childish in the pleasing sense of "childlike"--innocent and amiable,
and worthy to be smiled on in consideration of the undeveloped
condition of the dear people's intellects.  To the Protestant, on the
contrary, they are childish in the sense of being idiotic falsehoods.
He must stamp out their delicate and lovable redundancy, leaving the
Catholic to shudder at his literalness.  He appears to the latter as
morose as if he were some hard-eyed, numb, monotonous kind of reptile.
The two will never understand each other--their centres of emotional
energy are too different.  Rigorous truth and human nature's
intricacies are always in need of a mutual interpreter.[305] So much
for the aesthetic diversities in the religious consciousness.

[305] Compare the informality of Protestantism, where the "meek lover
of the good," alone with his God, visits the sick, etc., for their own
sakes, with the elaborate "business" that goes on in Catholic devotion,
and carries with it the social excitement of all more complex
businesses.  An essentially worldly-minded Catholic woman can become a
visitor of the sick on purely coquettish principles, with her confessor
and director, her "merit" storing up, her patron saints, her privileged
relation to the Almighty, drawing his attention as a professional
devote, her definite "exercises," and her definitely recognized social
pose in the organization.

In most books on religion, three things are represented as its most
essential elements.  These are Sacrifice, Confession, and Prayer.  I
must say a word in turn of each of these elements, though briefly.
First of Sacrifice.

Sacrifices to gods are omnipresent in primeval worship; but, as cults
have grown refined, burnt offerings and the blood of he-goats have been
superseded by sacrifices more spiritual in their nature.  Judaism,
Islam, and Buddhism get along without ritual sacrifice; so does
Christianity, save in so far as the notion is preserved in transfigured
form in the mystery of Christ's atonement.  These religions substitute
offerings of the heart, renunciations of the inner self, for all those
vain oblations.  In the ascetic practices which Islam, Buddhism, and
the older Christianity encourage we see how indestructible is the idea
that sacrifice of some sort is a religious exercise.  In lecturing on
asceticism I spoke of its significance as symbolic of the sacrifices
which life, whenever it is taken strenuously, calls for.[306]  But, as
I said my say about those, and as these lectures expressly avoid
earlier religious usages and questions of derivation, I will pass from
the subject of Sacrifice altogether and turn to that of Confession.

[306] Above, p. 354 ff.

In regard to Confession I will also be most brief, saying my word about
it psychologically, not historically.  Not nearly as widespread as
sacrifice, it corresponds to a more inward and moral stage of
sentiment.  It is part of the general system of purgation and cleansing
which one feels one's self in need of, in order to be in right
relations to one's deity.  For him who confesses, shams are over and
realities have begun; he has exteriorized his rottenness.  If he has
not actually got rid of it, he at least no longer smears it over with a
hypocritical show of virtue--he lives at least upon a basis of
veracity.  The complete decay of the practice of confession in
Anglo-Saxon communities is a little hard to account for.  Reaction
against popery is of course the historic explanation, for in popery
confession went with penances and absolution, and other inadmissible
practices.  But on the {453} side of the sinner himself it seems as if
the need ought to have been too great to accept so summary a refusal of
its satisfaction.  One would think that in more men the shell of
secrecy would have had to open, the pent-in abscess to burst and gain
relief, even though the ear that heard the confession were unworthy.
The Catholic church, for obvious utilitarian reasons, has substituted
auricular confession to one priest for the more radical act of public
confession.  We English-speaking Protestants, in the general
self-reliance and unsociability of our nature, seem to find it enough
if we take God alone into our confidence.[307]

[307] A fuller discussion of confession is contained in the excellent
work by Frank Granger:  The Soul of a Christian, London, 1900, ch. xii.

The next topic on which I must comment is Prayer--and this time it must
be less briefly.  We have heard much talk of late against prayer,
especially against prayers for better weather and for the recovery of
sick people.  As regards prayers for the sick, if any medical fact can
be considered to stand firm, it is that in certain environments prayer
may contribute to recovery, and should be encouraged as a therapeutic
measure.  Being a normal factor of moral health in the person, its
omission would be deleterious.  The case of the weather is different.
Notwithstanding the recency of the opposite belief,[308] every one now
knows that droughts and storms follow from physical antecedents, and
that moral appeals cannot avert them.  But petitional prayer is only
one department of prayer; and if we take the word in the wider sense as
meaning every kind of inward communion or conversation with the power
recognized as divine, we can easily see that scientific criticism
leaves it untouched.

[308] Example:  "The minister at Sudbury, being at the Thursday lecture
in Boston, heard the officiating clergyman praying for rain.  As soon
as the service was over, he went to the petitioner and said 'You Boston
ministers, as soon as a tulip wilts under your windows, go to church
and pray for rain, until all Concord and Sudbury are under water.'"  R.
W. Emerson:  Lectures and Biographical Sketches, p. 363.

Prayer in this wide sense is the very soul and essence of religion.
"Religion," says a liberal French theologian, "is an intercourse, a
conscious and voluntary relation, entered into by a soul in distress
with the mysterious power upon which it feels itself to depend, and
upon which its fate is contingent.  This intercourse with God is
realized by prayer.  Prayer is religion in act; that is, prayer is real
religion.  It is prayer that distinguishes the religious phenomenon
from such similar or neighboring phenomena as purely moral or aesthetic
sentiment.  Religion is nothing if it be not the vital act by which the
entire mind seeks to save itself by clinging to the principle from
which it draws its life.  This act is prayer, by which term I
understand no vain exercise of words, no mere repetition of certain
sacred formula, but the very movement itself of the soul, putting
itself in a personal relation of contact with the mysterious power of
which it feels the presence--it may be even before it has a name by
which to call it.  Wherever this interior prayer is lacking, there is
no religion; wherever, on the other hand, this prayer rises and stirs
the soul, even in the absence of forms or of doctrines, we have living
religion.  One sees from this why "natural religion, so-called, is not
properly a religion.  It cuts man off from prayer.  It leaves him and
God in mutual remoteness, with no intimate commerce, no interior
dialogue, no interchange, no action of God in man, no return of man to
God.  At bottom this pretended religion is only a philosophy.  Born at
epochs of rationalism, of critical investigations, it never was
anything but an abstraction.  An artificial and dead creation, it
reveals to its examiner hardly one of the characters proper to

[309] Auguste Sabatier:  Esquisse d'une Philosophie de la Religion. 2me
ed., 1897, pp. 24-26, abridged.

It seems to me that the entire series of our lectures proves the truth
of M. Sabatier's contention.  The religious phenomenon, studied as in
Inner fact, and apart from ecclesiastical or theological complications,
has shown itself to consist everywhere, and at all its stages, in the
consciousness which individuals have of an intercourse between
themselves and higher powers with which they feel themselves to be
related. This intercourse is realized at the time as being both active
and mutual.  If it be not effective; if it be not a give and take
relation; if nothing be really transacted while it lasts; if the world
is in no whit different for its having taken place; then prayer, taken
in this wide meaning of a sense that SOMETHING IS TRANSACTING, is of
course a feeling of what is illusory, and religion must on the whole be
classed, not simply as containing elements of delusion--these
undoubtedly everywhere exist--but as being rooted in delusion
altogether, just as materialists and atheists have always said it was.
At most there might remain, when the direct experiences of prayer were
ruled out as false witnesses, some inferential belief that the whole
order of existence must have a divine cause.  But this way of
contemplating nature, pleasing as it would doubtless be to persons of a
pious taste, would leave to them but the spectators' part at a play,
whereas in experimental religion and the prayerful life, we seem
ourselves to be actors, and not in a play, but in a very serious

The genuineness of religion is thus indissolubly bound up with the
question whether the prayerful consciousness be or be not deceitful.
The conviction that something is genuinely transacted in this
consciousness is the very core of living religion.  As to what is
transacted, great differences of opinion have prevailed.  The unseen
powers have been supposed, and are yet supposed, to do things which no
enlightened man can nowadays believe in.  It may well prove that the
sphere of influence in prayer is subjective exclusively, and that what
is immediately changed is only the mind of the praying person.  But
however our opinion of prayer's effects may come to be limited by
criticism, religion, in the vital sense in which these lectures study
it, must stand or fall by the persuasion that effects of some sort
genuinely do occur.  Through prayer, religion insists, things which
cannot be realized in any other manner come about:  energy which but
for prayer would be bound is by prayer set free and operates in some
part, be it objective or subjective, of the world of facts.

This postulate is strikingly expressed in a letter written by the late
Frederic W. H. Myers to a friend, who allows me to quote from it.  It
shows how independent the prayer-instinct is of usual doctrinal
complications.  Mr. Myers writes:--

"I am glad that you have asked me about prayer, because I have rather
strong ideas on the subject.  First consider what are the facts.  There
exists around us a spiritual universe, and that universe is in actual
relation with the material.  From the spiritual universe comes the
energy which maintains the material; the energy which makes the life of
each individual spirit.  Our spirits are supported by a perpetual
indrawal of this energy, and the vigor of that indrawal is perpetually
changing, much as the vigor of our absorption of material nutriment
changes from hour to hour.

"I call these 'facts' because I think that some scheme of this kind is
the only one consistent with our actual evidence; too complex to
summarize here.  How, then, should we ACT on these facts?  Plainly we
must endeavor to draw in as much spiritual life as possible, and we
must place our minds in any attitude which experience shows to be
favorable to such indrawal.  PRAYER is the general name for that
attitude of open and earnest expectancy.  If we then ask to whom to
pray, the answer (strangely enough) must be that THAT does not much
matter.  The prayer is not indeed a purely subjective thing;--it means
a real increase in intensity of absorption of spiritual power or
grace;--but we do not know enough of what takes place in the spiritual
world to know how the prayer operates;--WHO is cognizant of it, or
through what channel the grace is given.  Better let children pray to
Christ, who is at any rate the highest individual spirit of whom we
have any knowledge.  But it would be rash to say that Christ himself
HEARS US; while to say that GOD hears us is merely to restate the first
principle--that grace flows in from the infinite spiritual world."

Let us reserve the question of the truth or falsehood of the belief
that power is absorbed until the next lecture, when our dogmatic
conclusions, if we have any, must be reached. Let this lecture still
confine itself to the description of phenomena; and as a concrete
example of an extreme sort, of the way in which the prayerful life may
still be led, let me take a case with which most of you must be
acquainted, that of George Muller of Bristol, who died in 1898.
Muller's prayers were of the crassest petitional order.  Early in life
he resolved on taking certain Bible promises in literal sincerity, and
on letting himself be fed, not by his own worldly foresight, but by the
Lord's hand.  He had an extraordinarily active and successful career,
among the fruits of which were the distribution of over two million
copies of the Scripture text, in different languages; the equipment of
several hundred missionaries; the circulation of more than a hundred
and eleven million of scriptural books, pamphlets, and tracts; the
building of five large orphanages, and the keeping and educating of
thousands of orphans; finally, the establishment of schools in which
over a hundred and twenty-one thousand youthful and adult pupils were
taught. In the course of this work Mr. Muller received and administered
nearly a million and a half of pounds sterling, and traveled over two
hundred thousand miles of sea and land.[310]  During the sixty-eight
years of his ministry, he never owned any property except his clothes
and furniture, and cash in hand; and he left, at the age of eighty-six,
an estate worth only a hundred and sixty pounds.

[310] My authority for these statistics is the little work on Muller,
by Frederic G. Warne, New York, 1898.

His method was to let his general wants be publicly known, but not to
acquaint other people with the details of his temporary necessities.
For the relief of the latter, he prayed directly to the Lord, believing
that sooner or later prayers are always answered if one have trust
enough.  "When I lose such a thing as a key," he writes, "I ask the
Lord to direct me to it, and I look for an answer to my prayer; when a
person with whom I have made an appointment does not come, according to
the fixed time, and I begin to be inconvenienced by it, I ask the Lord
to be pleased to hasten him to me, and I look for an answer; when I do
not understand a passage of the word of God, I lift up my heart to the
Lord that he would be pleased by his Holy Spirit to instruct me, and I
expect to be taught, though I do not fix the time when, and the manner
how it should be; when I am going to minister in the Word, I seek help
from the Lord, and ... am not cast down, but of good cheer because I
look for his assistance."

Muller's custom was to never run up bills, not even for a week.  "As
the Lord deals out to us by the day, ... the week's payment might
become due and we have no money to meet it; and thus those with whom we
deal might be inconvenienced by us, and we be found acting against the
commandment of the Lord:  'Owe no man anything.' From this day and
henceforward whilst the Lord gives to us our supplies by the day, we
purpose to pay at once for every article as it is purchased, and never
to buy anything except we can pay for it at once, however much it may
seem to be needed, and however much those with whom we deal may wish to
be paid only by the week."

The articles needed of which Muller speaks were the food, fuel, etc.,
of his orphanages.  Somehow, near as they often come to going without a
meal, they hardly ever seem actually to have done so.  "Greater and
more manifest nearness of the Lord's presence I have never had than
when after breakfast there were no means for dinner for more than a
hundred persons; or when after dinner there were no means for the tea,
and yet the Lord provided the tea; and all this without one single
human being having been informed about our need....  Through Grace my
mind is so fully assured of the faithfulness of the Lord, that in the
midst of the greatest need, I am enabled in peace to go about my other
work.  Indeed, did not the Lord give me this, which is the result of
trusting in him, I should scarcely be able to work at all; for it is
now comparatively a rare thing that a day comes when I am not in need
for one or another part of the work."[311]

[311] The Life of Trust; Being a Narrative of the Lord's Dealings with
George Muller, New American edition, N. Y., Crowell, pp.  228, 194, 219.

In building his orphanages simply by prayer and faith, Muller affirms
that his prime motive was "to have something to point to as a visible
proof that our God and Father is the same faithful God that he ever
was--as willing as ever to prove himself the living God, in our day as
formerly, to all that put their trust in him."[312]  For this reason he
refused to borrow money for any of his enterprises.  "How does it work
when we thus anticipate God by going our own way?  We certainly weaken
faith instead of increasing it; and each time we work thus a
deliverance of our own we find it more and more difficult to trust in
God, till at last we give way entirely to our natural fallen reason and
unbelief prevails.  How different if one is enabled to wait God's own
time, and to look alone to him for help and deliverance! When at last
help comes, after many seasons of prayer it may be, how sweet it is,
and what a present recompense!  Dear Christian reader, if you have
never walked in this path of obedience before, do so now, and you will
then know experimentally the sweetness of the joy which results from

[312] Ibid., p. 126.

[313] Op. cit., p. 383, abridged.

When the supplies came in but slowly, Muller always considered that
this was for the trial of his faith and patience When his faith and
patience had been sufficiently tried, the Lord would send more means.
"And thus it has proved,"--I quote from his diary--"for to-day was
given me the sum of 2050 pounds, of which 2000 are for the building
fund [of a certain house], and 50 for present necessities.  It is
impossible to describe my joy in God when I received this donation.  I
was neither excited nor surprised; for I LOOK out for answers to my
prayers.  I BELIEVE THAT GOD HEARS ME.  Yet my heart was so full of joy
that I could only SIT before God, and admire him, like David in 2
Samuel vii.  At last I cast myself flat down upon my face and burst
forth in thanksgiving to God and in surrendering my heart afresh to him
for his blessed service."[314]

[314] Ibid., p. 323

George Muller's is a case extreme in every respect, and in no respect
more so than in the extraordinary narrowness of the man's intellectual
horizon.  His God was, as he often said, his business partner.  He
seems to have been for Muller little more than a sort of supernatural
clergyman interested in the congregation of tradesmen and others in
Bristol who were his saints, and in the orphanages and other
enterprises, but unpossessed of any of those vaster and wilder and more
ideal attributes with which the human imagination elsewhere has
invested him.  Muller, in short, was absolutely unphilosophical.  His
intensely private and practical conception of his relations with the
Deity continued the traditions of the most primitive human
thought.[315]  When we compare a mind like his with such a mind as, for
example, Emerson's or Phillips Brooks's, we see the range which the
religious consciousness covers.

[315] I cannot resist the temptation of quoting an expression of an
even more primitive style of religious thought, which I find in Arber's
English Garland, vol. vii. p. 440.  Robert Lyde, an English sailor,
along with an English boy, being prisoners on a French ship in 1689,
set upon the crew, of seven Frenchmen, killed two, made the other five
prisoners, and brought home the ship.  Lyde thus describes how in this
feat he found his God a very present help in time of trouble:--

"With the assistance of God I kept my feet when they three and one more
did strive to throw me down.  Feeling the Frenchman which hung about my
middle hang very heavy, I said to the boy, 'Go round the binnacle, and
knock down that man that hangeth on my back.'  So the boy did strike
him one blow on the head which made him fall.... Then I looked about
for a marlin spike or anything else to strike them withal.  But seeing
nothing, I said, 'LORD! what shall I do?'  Then casting up my eye upon
my left side, and seeing a marlin spike hanging, I jerked my right arm
and took hold, and struck the point four times about a quarter of an
inch deep into the skull of that man that had hold of my left arm.
[One of the Frenchmen then hauled the marlin spike away from him.]  But
through GOD'S wonderful providence! it either fell out of his hand, or
else he threw it down, and at this time the Almighty GOD gave me
strength enough to take one man in one hand, and throw at the other's
head:  and looking about again to see anything to strike them withal,
but seeing nothing, I said, 'LORD! what shall I do now?'  And then it
pleased GOD to put me in mind of my knife in my pocket.  And although
two of the men had hold of my right arm, yet GOD Almighty strengthened
me so that I put my right hand into my right pocket, drew out the knife
and sheath, ... put it between my legs and drew it out, and then cut
the man's throat with it that had his back to my breast: and he
immediately dropt down, and scarce ever stirred after."--I have
slightly abridged Lyde's narrative.

There is an immense literature relating to answers to petitional
prayer.  The evangelical journals are filled with such answers, and
books are devoted to the subject,[316] but for us Muller's case will

[316] As, for instance, In Answer to Prayer, by the Bishop of Ripon and
others, London, 1898; Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to
Prayer, Harrisburg, Pa., 1898 (?); H. L. Hastings: The Guiding Hand, or
Providential Direction, illustrated by Authentic Instances, Boston,

A less sturdy beggar-like fashion of leading the prayerful life is
followed by innumerable other Christians.  Persistence in leaning on
the Almighty for support and guidance will, such persons say, bring
with it proofs, palpable but much more subtle, of his presence and
active influence.  The following description of a "led" life, by a
German writer whom I have already quoted, would no doubt appear to
countless Christians in every country as if transcribed from their own
personal experience.  One finds in this guided sort of life, says Dr.

"That books and words (and sometimes people) come to one's cognizance
just at the very moment in which one needs them; that one glides over
great dangers as if with shut eyes, remaining ignorant of what would
have terrified one or led one astray, until the peril is past--this
being especially the case with temptations to vanity and sensuality;
that paths on which one ought not to wander are, as it were, hedged off
with thorns; but that on the other side great obstacles are suddenly
removed; that when the time has come for something, one suddenly
receives a courage that formerly failed, or perceives the root of a
matter that until then was concealed, or discovers thoughts, talents,
yea, even pieces of knowledge and insight, in one's self, of which it
is impossible to say whence they come; finally, that persons help us or
decline to help us, favor us or refuse us, as if they had to do so
against their will, so that often those indifferent or even unfriendly
to us yield us the greatest service and furtherance.  (God takes often
their worldly goods, from those whom he leads, at just the right
moment, when they threaten to impede the effort after higher interests.)

"Besides all this, other noteworthy things come to pass, of which it is
not easy to give account.  There is no doubt whatever that now one
walks continually through 'open doors' and on the easiest roads, with
as little care and trouble as it is possible to imagine.

"Furthermore one finds one's self settling one's affairs neither too
early nor too late, whereas they were wont to be spoiled by
untimeliness, even when the preparations had been well laid. In
addition to this, one does them with perfect tranquillity of mind,
almost as if they were matters of no consequence, like errands done by
us for another person, in which case we usually act more calmly than
when we act in our own concerns.  Again, one finds that one can WAIT
for everything patiently, and that is one of life's great arts.  One
finds also that each thing comes duly, one thing after the other, so
that one gains time to make one's footing sure before advancing
farther.  And then every thing occurs to us at the right moment, just
what we ought to do, etc., and often in a very striking way, just as if
a third person were keeping watch over those things which we are in
easy danger of forgetting.

"Often, too, persons are sent to us at the right time, to offer or ask
for what is needed, and what we should never have had the courage or
resolution to undertake of our own accord.

"Through all these experiences one finds that one is kindly and
tolerant of other people, even of such as are repulsive, negligent, or
ill-willed, for they also are instruments of good in God's hand, and
often most efficient ones.  Without these thoughts it would be hard for
even the best of us always to keep our equanimity.  But with the
consciousness of divine guidance, one sees many a thing in life quite
differently from what would otherwise be possible.

"All these are things that every human being KNOWS, who has had
experience of them; and of which the most speaking examples could be
brought forward.  The highest resources of worldly wisdom are unable to
attain that which, under divine leading, comes to us of its own

[317] C. Hilty:  Gluck, Dritter Theil, 1900, pp. 92 ff.

Such accounts as this shade away into others where the belief is, not
that particular events are tempered more towardly to us by a
superintending providence, as a reward for our reliance, but that by
cultivating the continuous sense of our connection with the power that
made things as they are, we are tempered more towardly for their
reception.  The outward face of nature need not alter, but the
expressions of meaning in it alter.  It was dead and is alive again. It
is like the difference between looking on a person without love, or
upon the same person with love.  In the latter case intercourse springs
into new vitality.  So when one's affections keep in touch with the
divinity of the world's authorship, fear and egotism fall away; and in
the equanimity that follows, one finds in the hours, as they succeed
each other, a series of purely benignant opportunities.  It is as if
all doors were opened, and all paths freshly smoothed.  We meet a new
world when we meet the old world in the spirit which this kind of
prayer infuses.

Such a spirit was that of Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus.[318]  It is
that of mind-curers, of the transcendentalists, and of the so-called
"liberal" Christians.  As an expression of it, I will quote a page from
one of Martineau's sermons:--

[318] "Good Heaven!" says Epictetus, "any one thing in the creation is
sufficient to demonstrate a Providence, to a humble and grateful mind.
The mere possibility of producing milk from grass, cheese from milk,
and wool from skins; who formed and planned it?  Ought we not, whether
we dig or plough or eat, to sing this hymn to God?  Great is God, who
has supplied us with these instruments to till the ground; great is
God, who has given us hands and instruments of digestion, who has given
us to grow insensibly and to breathe in sleep.  These things we ought
forever to celebrate.... But because the most of you are blind and
insensible, there must be some one to fill this station, and lead, in
behalf of all men, the hymn to God; for what else can I do, a lame old
man, but sing hymns to God?  Were I a nightingale, I would act the part
of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a swan.  But since I am a
reasonable creature, it is my duty to praise God ... and I call on you
to join the same song." Works, book i. ch. xvi., Carter-Higginson
(translation) abridged.

"The universe, open to the eye to-day, looks as it did a thousand years
ago:  and the morning hymn of Milton does but tell the beauty with
which our own familiar sun dressed the earliest fields and gardens of
the world.  We see what all our fathers saw.  And if we cannot find God
in your house or in mine, upon the roadside or the margin of the sea;
in the bursting seed or opening flower; in the day duty or the night
musing; in the general laugh and the secret grief; in the procession of
life, ever entering afresh, and solemnly passing by and dropping off; I
do not think we should discern him any more on the grass of Eden, or
beneath the moonlight of Gethsemane.  Depend upon it, it is not the
want of greater miracles, but of the soul to perceive such as are
allowed us still, that makes us push all the sanctities into the far
spaces we cannot reach.  The devout feel that wherever God's hand is,
THERE is miracle:  and it is simply an indevoutness which imagines that
only where miracle is, can there be the real hand of God.  The customs
of Heaven ought surely to be more sacred in our eyes than its
anomalies; the dear old ways, of which the Most High is never tired,
than the strange things which he does not love well enough ever to
repeat.  And he who will but discern beneath the sun, as he rises any
morning, the supporting finger of the Almighty, may recover the sweet
and reverent surprise with which Adam gazed on the first dawn in
Paradise.  It is no outward change, no shifting in time or place; but
only the loving meditation of the pure in heart, that can reawaken the
Eternal from the sleep within our souls:  that can render him a reality
again, and reassert for him once more his ancient name of 'the Living

[319] James Martineau:  end of the sermon "Help Thou Mine Unbelief," in
Endeavours after a Christian Life, 2d series.  Compare with this page
the extract from Voysey on p. 270, above, and those from Pascal and
Madame Guyon on p. 281.

When we see all things in God, and refer all things to him, we read in
common matters superior expressions of meaning.  The deadness with
which custom invests the familiar vanishes, and existence as a whole
appears transfigured. The state of a mind thus awakened from torpor is
well expressed in these words, which I take from a friend's letter:--

"If we occupy ourselves in summing up all the mercies and bounties we
are privileged to have, we are overwhelmed by their number (so great
that we can imagine ourselves unable to give ourselves time even to
begin to review the things we may imagine WE HAVE NOT).  We sum them
are surrounded by bounties upon bounties, without which all would fall.
Should we not love it; should we not feel buoyed up by the Eternal

Sometimes this realization that facts are of divine sending, instead of
being habitual, is casual, like a mystical experience.  Father Gratry
gives this instance from his youthful melancholy period:--

"One day I had a moment of consolation, because I met with something
which seemed to me ideally perfect.  It was a poor drummer beating the
tattoo in the streets of Paris.  I walked behind him in returning to
the school on the evening of a holiday. His drum gave out the tattoo in
such a way that, at that moment at least, however peevish I were, I
could find no pretext for fault-finding.  It was impossible to conceive
more nerve or spirit, better time or measure, more clearness or
richness, than were in this drumming.  Ideal desire could go no farther
in that direction.  I was enchanted and consoled; the perfection of
this wretched act did me good.  Good is at least possible, I said.
since the ideal can thus sometimes get embodied."[320]

[320] Souvenirs de ma Jeunesse, 1897, p. 122.

In Senancour's novel of Obermann a similar transient lifting of the
veil is recorded.  In Paris streets, on a March day, he comes across a
flower in bloom, a jonquil:

"It was the strongest expression of desire:  it was the first perfume
of the year.  I felt all the happiness destined for man.  This
unutterable harmony of souls, the phantom of the ideal world, arose in
me complete.  I never felt anything so great or so instantaneous.  I
know not what shape, what analogy, what secret of relation it was that
made me see in this flower a limitless beauty....  I shall never
inclose in a conception this power, this immensity that nothing will
express; this form that nothing will contain; this ideal of a better
world which one feels, but which, it seems, nature has not made

[321] Op. cit., Letter XXX.

We heard in previous lectures of the vivified face of the world as it
may appear to converts after their awakening.[322] As a rule, religious
persons generally assume that whatever natural facts connect themselves
in any way with their destiny are significant of the divine purposes
with them. Through prayer the purpose, often far from obvious, comes
home to them, and if it be "trial," strength to endure the trial is
given.  Thus at all stages of the prayerful life we find the persuasion
that in the process of communion energy from on high flows in to meet
demand, and becomes operative within the phenomenal world.  So long as
this operativeness is admitted to be real, it makes no essential
difference whether its immediate effects be subjective or objective.
The fundamental religious point is that in prayer, spiritual energy,
which otherwise would slumber, does become active, and spiritual work
of some kind is effected really.

[322] Above, p. 243 ff.  Compare the withdrawal of expression from the
world, in Melancholiacs, p. 148.

So much for Prayer, taken in the wide sense of any kind of communion.
As the core of religion, we must return to it in the next lecture.

The last aspect of the religious life which remains for me to touch
upon is the fact that its manifestations so frequently connect
themselves with the subconscious part of our existence.  You may
remember what I said in my opening lecture[323] about the prevalence of
the psychopathic temperament in religious biography.  You will in point
of fact hardly find a religious leader of any kind in whose life there
is no record of automatisms.  I speak not merely of savage priests and
prophets, whose followers regard automatic utterance and action as by
itself tantamount to inspiration, I speak of leaders of thought and
subjects of intellectualized experience.  Saint Paul had his visions,
his ecstasies, his gift of tongues, small as was the importance he
attached to the latter. The whole array of Christian saints and
heresiarchs, including the greatest, the Barnards, the Loyolas, the
Luthers, the Foxes, the Wesleys, had their visions, voices, rapt
conditions, guiding impressions, and "openings."    They had these
things, because they had exalted sensibility, and to such things
persons of exalted sensibility are liable.  In such liability there
lie, however, consequences for theology.  Beliefs are strengthened
wherever automatisms corroborate them.  Incursions from beyond the
transmarginal region have a peculiar power to increase conviction.  The
inchoate sense of presence is infinitely stronger than conception, but
strong as it may be, it is seldom equal to the evidence of
hallucination.  Saints who actually see or hear their Saviour reach the
acme of assurance.  Motor automatisms, though rarer, are, if possible,
even more convincing than sensations.  The subjects here actually feel
themselves played upon by powers beyond their will.  The evidence is
dynamic; the God or spirit moves the very organs of their body.[324]

[323] Above, pp. 25, 26.

[324] A friend of mine, a first-rate psychologist, who is a subject of
graphic automatism, tells me that the appearance of independent
actuation in the movements of his arm, when he writes automatically, is
so distinct that it obliges him to abandon a psychophysical theory
which he had previously believed in, the theory, namely, that we have
no feeling of the discharge downwards of our voluntary motor-centres.
We must normally have such a feeling, he thinks, or the SENSE OF AN
ABSENCE would not be so striking as it is in these experiences.
Graphic automatism of a fully developed kind is rare in religious
history, so far as my knowledge goes.  Such statements as Antonia
Bourignon's, that "I do nothing but lend my hand and spirit to another
power than mine," is shown by the context to indicate inspiration
rather than directly automatic writing.  In some eccentric sects this
latter occurs.  The most striking instance of it is probably the bulky
volume called, "Oahspe, a new Bible in the Words of Jehovah and his
angel ambassadors," Boston and London, 1891, written and illustrated
automatically by Dr. Newbrough of New York, whom I understand to be
now, or to have been lately, at the head of the spiritistic community
of Shalam in New Mexico.  The latest automatically written book which
has come under my notice is "Zertouhem's Wisdom of the Ages," by George
A. Fuller, Boston, 1901.

The great field for this sense of being the instrument of a higher
power is of course "inspiration."  It is easy to discriminate between
the religious leaders who have been habitually subject to inspiration
and those who have not.  In the teachings of the Buddha, of Jesus, of
Saint Paul (apart from his gift of tongues), of Saint Augustine, of
Huss, of Luther, of Wesley, automatic or semi-automatic composition
appears to have been only occasional.  In the Hebrew prophets, on the
contrary, in Mohammed, in some of the Alexandrians, in many minor
Catholic saints, in Fox, in Joseph Smith, something like it appears to
have been frequent, sometimes habitual.  We have distinct professions
of being under the direction of a foreign power, and serving as its
mouthpiece.  As regards the Hebrew prophets, it is extraordinary,
writes an author who has made a careful study of them, to see--

"How, one after another, the same features are reproduced in the
prophetic books.  The process is always extremely different from what
it would be if the prophet arrived at his insight into spiritual things
by the tentative efforts of his own genius.  There is something sharp
and sudden about it.  He can lay his finger, so to speak, on the moment
when it came.  And it always comes in the form of an overpowering force
from without, against which he struggles, but in vain.  Listen, for
instance, [to] the opening of the book of Jeremiah.  Read through in
like manner the first two chapters of the prophecy of Ezekiel.

"It is not, however, only at the beginning of his career that the
prophet passes through a crisis which is clearly not self- caused.
Scattered all through the prophetic writings are expressions which
speak of some strong and irresistible impulse coming down upon the
prophet, determining his attitude to the events of his time,
constraining his utterance, making his words the vehicle of a higher
meaning than their own.  For instance, this of Isaiah's:  'The Lord
spake thus to me with a strong hand,'--an emphatic phrase which denotes
the overmastering nature of the impulse--'and instructed me that I
should not walk in the way of this people.' ... Or passages like this
from Ezekiel: 'The hand of the Lord God fell upon me,' 'The hand of the
Lord was strong upon me.' The one standing characteristic of the
prophet is that he speaks with the authority of Jehovah himself.  Hence
it is that the prophets one and all preface their addresses so
confidently, 'The Word of the Lord,' or 'Thus saith the Lord.' They
have even the audacity to speak in the first person, as if Jehovah
himself were speaking.  As in Isaiah:  'Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and
Israel my called; I am He, I am the First, I also am the last,'--and so
on.  The personality of the prophet sinks entirely into the background;
he feels himself for the time being the mouthpiece of the

[325] W. Sanday:  The Oracles of God, London, 1892, pp. 49-56, abridged.

"We need to remember that prophecy was a profession, and that the
prophets formed a professional class.  There were schools of the
prophets, in which the gift was regularly cultivated.  A group of young
men would gather round some commanding figure--a Samuel or an
Elisha--and would not only record or spread the knowledge of his
sayings and doings, but seek to catch themselves something of his
inspiration.  It seems that music played its part in their
exercises....  It is perfectly clear that by no means all of these Sons
of the prophets ever succeeded in acquiring more than a very small
share in the gift which they sought.  It was clearly possible to
'counterfeit' prophecy.  Sometimes this was done deliberately....  But
it by no means follows that in all cases where a false message was
given, the giver of it was altogether conscious of what he was

[326] Op. cit., p. 91.  This author also cites Moses's and Isaiah's
commissions, as given in Exodus, chaps. iii. and iv., and Isaiah, chap.

Here, to take another Jewish case, is the way in which Philo of
Alexandria describes his inspiration:--

"Sometimes, when I have come to my work empty, I have suddenly become
full; ideas being in an invisible manner showered upon me, and
implanted in me from on high; so that through the influence of divine
inspiration, I have become greatly excited, and have known neither the
place in which I was, nor those who were present, nor myself, nor what
I was saying, nor what I was writing, for then I have been conscious of
a richness of interpretation, an enjoyment of light, a most penetrating
insight, a most manifest energy in all that was to be done; having such
effect on my mind as the clearest ocular demonstration would have on
the eyes."[327]

[327] Quoted by Augustus Clissold:  The Prophetic Spirit in Genius and
Madness, 1870, p. 67.  Mr. Clissold is a Swedenborgian.  Swedenborg's
case is of course the palmary one of audita et visa, serving as a basis
of religious revelation.

If we turn to Islam, we find that Mohammed's revelations all came from
the subconscious sphere.  To the question in what way he got them--

"Mohammed is said to have answered that sometimes he heard a knell as
from a bell, and that this had the strongest effect on him; and when
the angel went away, he had received the revelation.  Sometimes again
he held converse with the angel as with a man, so as easily to
understand his words.  The later authorities, however, ... distinguish
still other kinds.  In the Itgan (103) the following are enumerated:
1, revelations with sound of bell, 2, by inspiration of the holy spirit
in M.'s heart, 3, by Gabriel in human form, 4, by God immediately,
either when awake (as in his journey to heaven) or in dream.... In
Almawahib alladuniya the kinds are thus given:  1, Dream, 2,
Inspiration of Gabriel in the Prophet's heart, 3, Gabriel taking
Dahya's form, 4, with the bell-sound, etc., 5, Gabriel in propria
persona (only twice), 6, revelation in heaven, 7, God appearing in
person, but veiled, 8, God revealing himself immediately without veil.
Others add two other stages, namely:  1, Gabriel in the form of still
another man, 2, God showing himself personally in dream."[328]

[328] Noldeke, Geschichte des Qorans, 1860, p. 16.  Compare the fuller
account in Sir William Muir's:  Life of Mahomet, 3d ed., 1894, ch. iii.

In none of these cases is the revelation distinctly motor. In the case
of Joseph Smith (who had prophetic revelations innumerable in addition
to the revealed translation of the {472} gold plates which resulted in
the Book of Mormon), although there may have been a motor element, the
inspiration seems to have been predominantly sensorial.  He began his
translation by the aid of the "peep-stones" which he found, or thought
or said that he found, with the gold plates --apparently a case of
"crystal gazing."  For some of the other revelations he used the
peep-stones, but seems generally to have asked the Lord for more direct

[329] The Mormon theocracy has always been governed by direct
revelations accorded to the President of the Church and its Apostles.
From an obliging letter written to me in 1899 by an eminent Mormon, I
quote the following extract:--

"It may be very interesting for you to know that the President [Mr.
Snow] of the Mormon Church claims to have had a number of revelations
very recently from heaven.  To explain fully what these revelations
are, it is necessary to know that we, as a people, believe that the
Church of Jesus Christ has again been established through messengers
sent from heaven.  This Church has at its head a prophet seer, and
revelator, who gives to man God's holy will.  Revelation is the means
through which the will of God is declared directly and in fullness to
man.  These revelations are got through dreams of sleep or in waking
visions of the mind, by voices without visional appearance or by actual
manifestations of the Holy Presence before the eye.  We believe that
God has come in person and spoken to our prophet and revelator."

Other revelations are described as "openings"--Fox's, for example, were
evidently of the kind known in spiritistic circles of to-day as
"impressions."  As all effective initiators of change must needs live
to some degree upon this psychopathic level of sudden perception or
conviction of new truth, or of impulse to action so obsessive that it
must be worked off, I will say nothing more about so very common a

When, in addition to these phenomena of inspiration, we take religious
mysticism into the account, when we recall the striking and sudden
unifications of a discordant self which we saw in conversion, and when
we review the extravagant obsessions of tenderness, purity, and
self-severity met with in saintliness, we cannot, I think, avoid the
conclusion that in religion we have a department of human nature with
unusually close relations to the transmarginal or subliminal region.
If the word "subliminal" is offensive to any of you, as smelling too
much of psychical research or other aberrations, call it by any other
name you please, to distinguish it from the level of full sunlit
consciousness.  Call this latter the A-region of personality, if you
care to, and call the other the B-region.  The B-region, then, is
obviously the larger part of each of us, for it is the abode of
everything that is latent and the reservoir of everything that passes
unrecorded or unobserved.  It contains, for example, such things as all
our momentarily inactive memories, and it harbors the springs of all
our obscurely motived passions, impulses, likes, dislikes, and
prejudices.  Our intuitions, hypotheses, fancies, superstitions,
persuasions, convictions, and in general all our non-rational
operations, come from it.  It is the source of our dreams, and
apparently they may return to it.  In it arise whatever mystical
experiences we may have, and our automatisms, sensory or motor; our
life in hypnotic and "hypnoid" conditions, if we are subjects to such
conditions; our delusions, fixed ideas, and hysterical accidents, if we
are hysteric subjects; our supra-normal cognitions, if such there be,
and if we are telepathic subjects.  It is also the fountain-head of
much that feeds our religion. In persons deep in the religious life, as
we have now abundantly seen--and this is my conclusion--the door into
this region seems unusually wide open; at any rate, experiences making
their entrance through that door have had emphatic influence in shaping
religious history.

With this conclusion I turn back and close the circle which I opened in
my first lecture, terminating thus the review which I then announced of
inner religious phenomena as we find them in developed and articulate
human individuals.  I might easily, if the time allowed, multiply both
my documents and my discriminations, but a broad treatment is, I
believe, in itself better, and the most important characteristics of
the subject lie, I think, before us already. In the next lecture, which
is also the last one, we must try to draw the critical conclusions
which so much material may suggest.

Lecture XX


The material of our study of human nature is now spread before us; and
in this parting hour, set free from the duty of description, we can
draw our theoretical and practical conclusions.  In my first lecture,
defending the empirical method, I foretold that whatever conclusions we
might come to could be reached by spiritual judgments only,
appreciations of the significance for life of religion, taken "on the
whole." Our conclusions cannot be as sharp as dogmatic conclusions
would be, but I will formulate them, when the time comes, as sharply as
I can.

Summing up in the broadest possible way the characteristics of the
religious life, as we have found them, it includes the following

1.  That the visible world is part of a more spiritual universe from
which it draws its chief significance;

2.  That union or harmonious relation with that higher universe is our
true end;

3.  That prayer or inner communion with the spirit thereof-- be that
spirit "God" or "law"--is a process wherein work is really done, and
spiritual energy flows in and produces effects, psychological or
material, within the phenomenal world.

Religion includes also the following psychological characteristics:--

4.  A new zest which adds itself like a gift to life, and takes the
form either of lyrical enchantment or of appeal to earnestness and

5.  An assurance of safety and a temper of peace, and, in relation to
others, a preponderance of loving affections.

In illustrating these characteristics by documents, we have been
literally bathed in sentiment.  In re-reading my manuscript, I am
almost appalled at the amount of emotionality which I find in it.

After so much of this, we can afford to be dryer and less sympathetic
in the rest of the work that lies before us.

The sentimentality of many of my documents is a consequence of the fact
that I sought them among the extravagances of the subject.  If any of
you are enemies of what our ancestors used to brand as enthusiasm, and
are, nevertheless, still listening to me now, you have probably felt my
selection to have been sometimes almost perverse, and have wished I
might have stuck to soberer examples.  I reply that I took these
extremer examples as yielding the profounder information.  To learn the
secrets of any science, we go to expert specialists, even though they
may be eccentric persons, and not to commonplace pupils.  We combine
what they tell us with the rest of our wisdom, and form our final
judgment independently.  Even so with religion.  We who have pursued
such radical expressions of it may now be sure that we know its secrets
as authentically as anyone can know them who learns them from another;
and we have next to answer, each of us for himself, the practical
question:  what are the dangers in this element of life?  and in what
proportion may it need to be restrained by other elements, to give the
proper balance?

But this question suggests another one which I will answer immediately
and get it out of the way, for it has more than once already vexed
us.[330] Ought it to be assumed that in all men the mixture of religion
with other elements should be identical?  Ought it, indeed, to be
assumed that the lives of all men should show identical religious
elements?  In other words, is the existence of so many religious types
and sects and creeds regrettable?

[330] For example, on pages 135, 160, 326 above.

To these questions I answer "No" emphatically.  And my reason is that I
do not see how it is possible that creatures in such different
positions and with such different powers as human individuals are,
should have exactly the same functions and the same duties.  No two of
us have identical difficulties, nor should we be expected to work out
identical solutions.  Each, from his peculiar angle of observation,
takes in a certain sphere of fact and trouble, which each must deal
with in a unique manner.  One of us must soften himself, another must
harden himself; one must yield a point, another must stand firm--in
order the better to defend the position assigned him.  If an Emerson
were forced to be a Wesley, or a Moody forced to be a Whitman, the
total human consciousness of the divine would suffer.  The divine can
mean no single quality, it must mean a group of qualities, by being
champions of which in alternation, different men may all find worthy
missions.  Each attitude being a syllable in human nature's total
message, it takes the whole of us to spell the meaning out completely.
So a "god of battles" must be allowed to be the god for one kind of
person, a god of peace and heaven and home, the god for another.  We
must frankly recognize the fact that we live in partial systems, and
that parts are not interchangeable in the spiritual life.  If we are
peevish and jealous, destruction of the self must be an element of our
religion; why need it be one if we are good and sympathetic from the
outset?  If we are sick souls, we require a religion of deliverance;
but why think so much of deliverance, if we are healthy-minded?[331]
Unquestionably, some men have the completer experience and the higher
vocation, here just as in the social world; but for each man to stay in
his own experience, whate'er it be, and for others to tolerate him
there, is surely best.

[331] From this point of view, the contrasts between the healthy and
the morbid mind, and between the once-born and the twice-born types, of
which I spoke in earlier lectures (see pp. 159-164), cease to be the
radical antagonisms which many think them.  The twice-born look down
upon the rectilinear consciousness of life of the once-born as being
"mere morality," and not properly religion.  "Dr. Channing," an
orthodox minister is reported to have said, "is excluded from the
highest form of religious life by the extraordinary rectitude of his
character."  It is indeed true that the outlook upon life of the
twice-born--holding as it does more of the element of evil in
solution--is the wider and completer.  The "heroic" or "solemn" way in
which life comes to them is a "higher synthesis" into which healthy-
mindedness and morbidness both enter and combine.  Evil is not evaded,
but sublated in the higher religious cheer of these persons (see pp.
47-52, 354-357).  But the final consciousness which each type reaches
of union with the divine has the same practical significance for the
individual; and individuals may well be allowed to get to it by the
channels which lie most open to their several temperaments.  In the
cases which were quoted in Lecture IV, of the mind-cure form of
healthy-mindedness, we found abundant examples of regenerative process.
The severity of the crisis in this process is a matter of degree.  How
long one shall continue to drink the consciousness of evil, and when
one shall begin to short-circuit and get rid of it, are also matters of
amount and degree, so that in many instances it is quite arbitrary
whether we class the individual as a once-born or a twice-born subject.

But, you may now ask, would not this one-sidedness be cured if we
should all espouse the science of religions as our own religion?  In
answering this question I must open again the general relations of the
theoretic to the active life.

Knowledge about a thing is not the thing itself.  You remember what
Al-Ghazzali told us in the Lecture on Mysticism--that to understand the
causes of drunkenness, as a physician understands them, is not to be
drunk.  A science might come to understand everything about the causes
and elements of religion, and might even decide which elements were
qualified, by their general harmony with other branches of knowledge,
to be considered true; and yet the best man at this science might be
the man who found it hardest to be personally devout.  Tout savoir
c'est tout pardonner.  The name of Renan would doubtless occur to many
persons as an example of the way in which breadth of knowledge may make
one only a dilettante in possibilities, and blunt the acuteness of
one's living faith.[332]  If religion be a function by which either
God's cause or man's cause is to be really advanced, then he who lives
the life of it, however narrowly, is a better servant than he who
merely knows about it, however much.  Knowledge about life is one
thing; effective occupation of a place in life, with its dynamic
currents passing through your being, is another.

[332] Compare, e.g., the quotation from Renan on p. 37, above.

For this reason, the science of religions may not be an equivalent for
living religion; and if we turn to the inner difficulties of such a
science, we see that a point comes when she must drop the purely
theoretic attitude, and either let her knots remain uncut, or have them
cut by active faith.  To see this, suppose that we have our science of
religions constituted as a matter of fact.  Suppose that she has
assimilated all the necessary historical material and distilled out of
it as its essence the same conclusions which I myself a few moments ago
pronounced.  Suppose that she agrees that religion, wherever it is an
active thing, involves a belief in ideal presences, and a belief that
in our prayerful communion with them,[333] work is done, and something
real comes to pass.  She has now to exert her critical activity, and to
decide how far, in the light of other sciences and in that of general
philosophy, such beliefs can be considered TRUE.

[333] "Prayerful" taken in the broader sense explained above on pp. 453

Dogmatically to decide this is an impossible task.  Not only are the
other sciences and the philosophy still far from being completed, but
in their present state we find them full of conflicts.  The sciences of
nature know nothing of spiritual presences, and on the whole hold no
practical commerce whatever with the idealistic conceptions towards
which general philosophy inclines.  The scientist, so-called, is,
during his scientific hours at least, so materialistic that one may
well say that on the whole the influence of science goes against the
notion that religion should be recognized at all.  And this antipathy
to religion finds an echo within the very science of religions itself.
The cultivator of this science has to become acquainted with so many
groveling and horrible superstitions that a presumption easily arises
in his mind that any belief that is religious probably is false.  In
the "prayerful communion" of savages with such mumbo-jumbos of deities
as they acknowledge, it is hard for us to see what genuine spiritual
work--even though it were work relative only to their dark savage
obligations-- can possibly be done.

The consequence is that the conclusions of the science of religions are
as likely to be adverse as they are to be favorable to the claim that
the essence of religion is true.  There is a notion in the air about us
that religion is probably only an anachronism, a case of "survival," an
atavistic relapse into a mode of thought which humanity in its more
enlightened examples has outgrown; and this notion our religious
anthropologists at present do little to counteract.

This view is so widespread at the present day that I must consider it
with some explicitness before I pass to my own conclusions.  Let me
call it the "Survival theory," for brevity's sake.

The pivot round which the religious life, as we have traced it,
revolves, is the interest of the individual in his private personal
destiny.  Religion, in short, is a monumental chapter in the history of
human egotism.  The gods believed in--whether by crude savages or by
men disciplined intellectually--agree with each other in recognizing
personal calls.  Religious thought is carried on in terms of
personality, this being, in the world of religion, the one fundamental
fact.  To-day, quite as much as at any previous age, the religious
individual tells you that the divine meets him on the basis of his
personal concerns.

Science, on the other hand, has ended by utterly repudiating the
personal point of view.  She catalogues her elements and records her
laws indifferent as to what purpose may be shown forth by them, and
constructs her theories quite careless of their bearing on human
anxieties and fates. Though the scientist may individually nourish a
religion, and be a theist in his irresponsible hours, the days are over
when it could be said that for Science herself the heavens declare the
glory of God and the firmament showeth his handiwork.  Our solar
system, with its harmonies, is seen now as but one passing case of a
certain sort of moving equilibrium in the heavens, realized by a local
accident in an appalling wilderness of worlds where no life can exist.
In a span of time which as a cosmic interval will count but as an hour,
it will have ceased to be.  The Darwinian notion of chance production,
and subsequent destruction, speedy or deferred, applies to the largest
as well as to the smallest facts.  It is impossible, in the present
temper of the scientific imagination, to find in the driftings of the
cosmic atoms, whether they work on the universal or on the particular
scale, anything but a kind of aimless weather, doing and undoing,
achieving no proper history, and leaving no result. Nature has no one
distinguishable ultimate tendency with which it is possible to feel a
sympathy.  In the vast rhythm of her processes, as the scientific mind
now follows them, she appears to cancel herself.  The books of natural
theology which satisfied the intellects of our grandfathers seem to us
quite grotesque,[334] representing, as they did, a God who conformed
the largest things of nature to the paltriest of our private wants.
The God whom science recognizes must be a God of universal laws
exclusively, a God who does a wholesale, not a retail business.  He
cannot accommodate his processes to the convenience of individuals.
The bubbles on the foam which coats a stormy sea are floating episodes,
made and unmade by the forces of the wind and water.  Our private
selves are like those bubbles--epiphenomena, as Clifford, I believe,
ingeniously called them; their destinies weigh nothing and determine
nothing in the world's irremediable currents of events.

[334] How was it ever conceivable, we ask, that a man like Christian
Wolff, in whose dry-as-dust head all the learning of the early
eighteenth century was concentrated, should have preserved such a
baby-like faith in the personal and human character of Nature as to
expound her operations as he did in his work on the uses of natural
things?  This, for example, is the account he gives of the sun and its

"We see that God has created the sun to keep the changeable conditions
on the earth in such an order that living creatures, men and beasts,
may inhabit its surface.  Since men are the most reasonable of
creatures, and able to infer God's invisible being from the
contemplation of the world, the sun in so far forth contributes to the
primary purpose of creation:  without it the race of man could not be
preserved or continued.... The sun makes daylight, not only on our
earth, but also on the other planets; and daylight is of the utmost
utility to us, for by its means we can commodiously carry on those
occupations which in the night-time would either be quite impossible.
Or at any rate impossible without our going to the expense of
artificial light.  The beasts of the field can find food by day which
they would not be able to find at night.  Moreover we owe it to the
sunlight that we are able to see everything that is on the earth's
surface, not only near by, but also at a distance, and to recognize
both near and far things according to their species, which again is of
manifold use to us not only in the business necessary to human life,
and when we are traveling, but also for the scientific knowledge of
Nature, which knowledge for the most part depends on observations made
with the help of sight, and without the sunshine, would have been
impossible.  If any one would rightly impress on his mind the great
advantages which he derives from the sun, let him imagine himself
living through only one month, and see how it would be with all his
undertakings, if it were not day but night.  He would then be
sufficiently convinced out of his own experience, especially if he had
much work to carry on in the street or in the fields.... From the sun
we learn to recognize when it is midday, and by knowing this point of
time exactly, we can set our clocks right, on which account astronomy
owes much to the sun.... By help of the sun one can find the
meridian.... But the meridian is the basis of our sun-dials, and
generally speaking, we should have no sun-dials if we had no sun."
Vernunftige Gedanken von den Absichter der naturlichen Dinge, 1782.

Or read the account of God's beneficence in the institution of "the
great variety throughout the world of men's faces, voices, and
hand-writing," given in Derham's Physico-theology, a book that had much
vogue in the eighteenth century.  "Had Man's body," says Dr. Derham,
"been made according to any of the Atheistical Schemes, or any other
Method than that of the infinite Lord of the World, this wise Variety
would never have been:  but Men's Faces would have been cast in the
same, or not a very different Mould, their Organs of Speech would have
sounded the same or not so great a Variety of Notes, and the same
Structure of Muscles and Nerves would have given the Hand the same
Direction in Writing.  And in this Case what Confusion, what
Disturbance, what Mischiefs would the world eternally have lain under!
No Security could have been to our persons; no Certainty, no Enjoyment
of our Possessions; no Justice between Man and Man, no Distinction
between Good and Bad, between Friends and Foes, between Father and
Child, Husband and Wife, Male or Female; but all would have been turned
topsy-turvy, by being exposed to the Malice of the Envious and
ill-Natured, to the Fraud and Violence of Knaves and Robbers, to the
Forgeries of the crafty Cheat, to the Lusts of the Effeminate and
Debauched, and what not!  Our Courts of Justice can abundantly testify
the dire Effects of Mistaking Men's Faces, of counterfeiting their
Hands, and forging Writings.

But now as the infinitely wise Creator and Ruler hath ordered the
Matter, every man's Face can distinguish him in the Light, and his
Voice in the Dark, his Hand-writing can speak for him though absent,
and be his Witness, and secure his Contracts in future Generations.  A
manifest as well as admirable Indication of the divine Superintendence
and Management."

A God so careful as to make provision even for the unmistakable signing
of bank checks and deeds was a deity truly after the heart of
eighteenth century Anglicanism.

I subjoin, omitting the capitals, Derham's "Vindication of God by the
Institution of Hills and Valleys," and Wolff's altogether culinary
account of the institution of Water:--

"The uses," says Wolff, "which water serves in human life are plain to
see and need not be described at length.  Water is a universal drink of
man and beasts.  Even though men have made themselves drinks that are
artificial, they could not do this without water.  Beer is brewed of
water and malt, and it is the water in it which quenches thirst.  Wine
is prepared from grapes, which could never have grown without the help
of water; and the same is true of those drinks which in England and
other places they produce from fruit.... Therefore since God so planned
the world that men and beasts should live upon it and find there
everything required for their necessity and convenience, he also made
water as one means whereby to make the earth into so excellent a
dwelling.  And this is all the more manifest when we consider the
advantages which we obtain from this same water for the cleaning of our
household utensils, of our clothing, and of other matters.... When one
goes into a grinding-mill one sees that the grindstone must always be
kept wet and then one will get a still greater idea of the use of

Of the hills and valleys, Derham, after praising their beauty,
discourses as follows:  "Some constitutions are indeed of so happy a
strength, and so confirmed an health, as to be indifferent to almost
any place or temperature of the air.  But then others are so weakly and
feeble, as not to be able to bear one, but can live comfortably in
another place.  With some the more subtle and finer air of the hills
doth best agree, who are languishing and dying in the feculent and
grosser air of great towns, or even the warmer and vaporous air of the
valleys and waters.  But contrariwise, others languish on the hills,
and grow lusty and strong in the warmer air of the valleys.

"So that this opportunity of shifting our abode from the hills to the
vales, is an admirable easement, refreshment, and great benefit to the
valetudinarian, feeble part of mankind; affording those an easy and
comfortable life, who would otherwise live miserably, languish, and
pine away.

"To this salutary conformation of the earth we may add another great
convenience of the hills, and that is affording commodious places for
habitation, serving (as an eminent author wordeth it) as screens to
keep off the cold and nipping blasts of the northern and easterly
winds, and reflecting the benign and cherishing sunbeams and so
rendering our habitations both more comfortable and more cheerly in

"Lastly, it is to the hills that the fountains owe their rise and the
rivers their conveyance, and consequently those vast masses and lofty
piles are not, as they are charged such rude and useless excrescences
of our ill-formed globe; but the admirable tools of nature, contrived
and ordered by the infinite Creator, to do one of its most useful
works.  For, was the surface of the earth even and level, and the
middle parts of its islands and continents not mountainous and high as
now it is, it is most certain there could be no descent for the rivers,
no conveyance for the waters; but, instead of gliding along those
gentle declivities which the higher lands now afford them quite down to
the sea, they would stagnate and perhaps stink, and also drown large
tracts of land.

"[Thus] the hills and vales, though to a peevish and weary traveler
they may seem incommodious and troublesome, yet are a noble work of the
great Creator, and wisely appointed by him for the good of our
sublunary world."

You see how natural it is, from this point of view, to treat religion
as a mere survival, for religion does in fact perpetuate the traditions
of the most primeval thought.  To coerce the spiritual powers, or to
square them and get them on our side, was, during enormous tracts of
time, the one great object in our dealings with the natural world.  For
our ancestors, dreams, hallucinations, revelations, and cock-and-bull
stories were inextricably mixed with facts.  Up to a comparatively
recent date such distinctions as those between what has been verified
and what is only conjectured, between the impersonal and the personal
aspects of existence, were hardly suspected or conceived.  Whatever you
imagined in a lively manner, whatever you thought fit to be true, you
affirmed confidently; and whatever you affirmed, your comrades
believed.  Truth was what had not yet been contradicted, most things
were taken into the mind from the point of view of their human
suggestiveness, and the attention confined itself exclusively to the
aesthetic and dramatic aspects of events.[335]

[335] Until the seventeenth century this mode of thought prevailed. One
need only recall the dramatic treatment even of mechanical questions by
Aristotle, as, for example, his explanation of the power of the lever
to make a small weight raise a larger one.  This is due, according to
Aristotle, to the generally miraculous character of the circle and of
all circular movement.  The circle is both convex and concave; it is
made by a fixed point and a moving line, which contradict each other;
and whatever moves in a circle moves in opposite directions.
Nevertheless, movement in a circle is the most "natural" movement; and
the long arm of the lever, moving, as it does, in the larger circle,
has the greater amount of this natural motion, and consequently
requires the lesser force.  Or recall the explanation by Herodotus of
the position of the sun in winter: It moves to the south because of the
cold which drives it into the warm parts of the heavens over Libya.  Or
listen to Saint Augustine's speculations:  "Who gave to chaff such
power to freeze that it preserves snow buried under it, and such power
to warm that it ripens green fruit?  Who can explain the strange
properties of fire itself, which blackens all that it burns, though
itself bright, and which, though of the most beautiful colors,
discolors almost all that it touches and feeds upon, and turns blazing
fuel into grimy cinders? ... Then what wonderful properties do we find
in charcoal, which is so brittle that a light tap breaks it, and a
slight pressure pulverizes it, and yet is so strong that no moisture
rots it, nor any time causes it to decay."  City of God, book xxi, ch.

Such aspects of things as these, their naturalness and unnaturalness
the sympathies and antipathies of their superficial qualities, their
eccentricities, their brightness and strength and destructiveness, were
inevitably the ways in which they originally fastened our attention.

If you open early medical books, you will find sympathetic magic
invoked on every page.  Take, for example, the famous vulnerary
ointment attributed to Paracelsus.  For this there were a variety of
receipts, including usually human fat, the fat of either a bull, a wild
boar, or a bear, powdered earthworms, the usnia, or mossy growth on the
weathered skull of a hanged criminal, and other materials equally
unpleasant--the whole prepared under the planet Venus if possible, but
never under Mars or Saturn.  Then, if a splinter of wood, dipped in the
patient's blood, or the bloodstained weapon that wounded him, be
immersed in this ointment, the wound itself being tightly bound up, the
latter infallibly gets well--I quote now Van Helmont's account--for the
blood on the weapon or splinter, containing in it the spirit of the
wounded man, is roused to active excitement by the contact of the
ointment, whence there results to it a full commission or power to cure
its cousin-german the blood in the patient's body.  This it does by
sucking out the dolorous and exotic impression from the wounded part.
But to do this it has to implore the aid of the bull's fat, and other
portions of the unguent.  The reason why bull's fat is so powerful is
that the bull at the time of slaughter is full of secret reluctancy and
vindictive murmurs, and therefore dies with a higher flame of revenge
about him than any other animal.  And thus we have made it out, says
this author, that the admirable efficacy of the ointment ought to be
imputed, not to any auxiliary concurrence of Satan, but simply to the
energy of the posthumous character of Revenge remaining firmly
impressed upon the blood and concreted fat in the unguent.  J. B. Van
Helmont:  A Ternary of Paradoxes, translated by Walter Charleton,
London, 1650.--I much abridge the original in my citations.

The author goes on to prove by the analogy of many other natural facts
that this sympathetic action between things at a distance is the true
rationale of the case.  "If," he says, "the heart of a horse slain by a
witch, taken out of the yet reeking carcase, be impaled upon an arrow
and roasted, immediately the whole witch becomes tormented with the
insufferable pains and cruelty of the fire, which could by no means
happen unless there preceded a conjunction of the spirit of the witch
with the spirit of the horse.  In the reeking and yet panting heart,
the spirit of the witch is kept captive, and the retreat of it
prevented by the arrow transfixed.  Similarly hath not many a murdered
carcase at the coroner's inquest suffered a fresh haemorrhage or
cruentation at the presence of the assassin?--the blood being, as in a
furious fit of anger, enraged and agitated by the impress of revenge
conceived against the murderer, at the instant of the soul's compulsive
exile from the body.  So, if you have dropsy, gout, or jaundice, by
including some of your warm blood in the shell and white of an egg,
which, exposed to a gentle heat, and mixed with a bait of flesh, you
shall give to a hungry dog or hog, the disease shall instantly pass
from you into the animal, and leave you entirely.  And similarly again,
if you burn some of the milk either of a cow or of a woman, the gland
from which it issued will dry up.  A gentleman at Brussels had his nose
mowed off in a combat, but the celebrated surgeon Tagliacozzus digged a
new nose for him out of the skin of the arm of a porter at Bologna.
About thirteen months after his return to his own country, the
engrafted nose grew cold, putrefied, and in a few days dropped off, and
it was then discovered that the porter had expired, near about the same
punctilio of time.  There are still at Brussels eye-witnesses of this
occurrence," says Van Helmont; and adds, "I pray what is there in this
of superstition or of exalted imagination?"

Modern mind-cure literature--the works of Prentice Mulford, for
example--is full of sympathetic magic.

How indeed could it be otherwise?  The extraordinary value, for
explanation and prevision, of those mathematical and mechanical modes
of conception which science uses, was a result that could not possibly
have been expected in advance.  Weight, movement, velocity, direction,
position, what thin, pallid, uninteresting ideas!  How could the richer
animistic aspects of Nature, the peculiarities and oddities that make
phenomena picturesquely striking or expressive, fail to have been first
singled out and followed by philosophy as the more promising avenue to
the knowledge of Nature's life?  Well, it is still in these richer
animistic and dramatic aspects that religion delights to dwell.  It is
the terror and beauty of phenomena, the "promise" of the dawn and of
the rainbow, the "voice" of the thunder, the "gentleness" of the summer
rain, the "sublimity" of the stars, and not the physical laws which
these things follow, by which the religious mind still continues to be
most impressed; and just as of yore, the devout man tells you that in
the solitude of his room or of the fields he still feels the divine
presence, that inflowings of help come in reply to his prayers, and
that sacrifices to this unseen reality fill him with security and peace.

Pure anachronism! says the survival-theory;--anachronism for which
deanthropomorphization of the imagination is the remedy required.  The
less we mix the private with the cosmic, the more we dwell in universal
and impersonal terms, the truer heirs of Science we become.

In spite of the appeal which this impersonality of the scientific
attitude makes to a certain magnanimity of temper, I believe it to be
shallow, and I can now state my reason in comparatively few words.
That reason is that, so long as we deal with the cosmic and the
general, we deal only with the symbols of reality, but as soon as we
deal with private and personal phenomena as such, we deal with
realities in the completest sense of the term.  I think I can easily
make clear what I mean by these words.

The world of our experience consists at all times of two parts, an
objective and a subjective part, of which the former may be
incalculably more extensive than the latter, and yet the latter can
never be omitted or suppressed.  The objective part is the sum total of
whatsoever at any given time we may be thinking of, the subjective part
is the inner "state" in which the thinking comes to pass.  What we
think of may be enormous--the cosmic times and spaces, for example--
whereas the inner state may be the most fugitive and paltry activity of
mind.  Yet the cosmic objects, so far as the experience yields them,
are but ideal pictures of something whose existence we do not inwardly
possess but only point at outwardly, while the inner state is our very
experience itself; its reality and that of our experience are one.  A
conscious field PLUS its object as felt or thought of PLUS an attitude
towards the object PLUS the sense of a self to whom the attitude
belongs--such a concrete bit of personal experience may be a small bit,
but it is a solid bit as long as it lasts; not hollow, not a mere
abstract element of experience, such as the "object" is when taken all
alone.  It is a FULL fact, even though it be an insignificant fact; it
is of the KIND to which all realities whatsoever must belong; the motor
currents of the world run through the like of it; it is on the line
connecting real events with real events.  That unsharable feeling which
each one of us has of the pinch of his individual destiny as he
privately feels it rolling out on fortune's wheel may be disparaged for
its egotism, may be sneered at as unscientific, but it is the one thing
that fills up the measure of our concrete actuality, and any would-be
existent that should lack such a feeling, or its analogue, would be a
piece of reality only half made up.[336]

[336] Compare Lotze's doctrine that the only meaning we can attach to
the notion of a thing as it is "in itself" is by conceiving it as it is
FOR itself, i.e., as a piece of full experience with a private sense of
"pinch" or inner activity of some sort going with it.

If this be true, it is absurd for science to say that the egotistic
elements of experience should be suppressed.  The axis of reality runs
solely through the egotistic places--they are strung upon it like so
many beads.  To describe the world with all the various feelings of the
individual pinch of destiny, all the various spiritual attitudes, left
out from the description--they being as describable as anything else
--would be something like offering a printed bill of fare as the
equivalent for a solid meal.  Religion makes no such blunder.  The
individual's religion may be egotistic, and those private realities
which it keeps in touch with may be narrow enough; but at any rate it
always remains infinitely less hollow and abstract, as far as it goes,
than a science which prides itself on taking no account of anything
private at all.

A bill of fare with one real raisin on it instead of the word "raisin,"
with one real egg instead of the word "egg," might be an inadequate
meal, but it would at least be a commencement of reality.  The
contention of the survival-theory that we ought to stick to
non-personal elements exclusively seems like saying that we ought to be
satisfied forever with reading the naked bill of fare.  I think,
therefore, that however particular questions connected with our
individual destinies may be answe