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Title: Problems of Immanence: studies critical and constructive
Author: Warschauer, Joseph, 1869-
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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        _Col. ii. 8._ (_Dr. Moffatt's Translation._)




[Transcriber's note: Page numbers in this book are indicated by numbers
enclosed in curly braces, e.g. {99}.  They have been located where page
breaks occurred in the original book, in accordance with Project



About a year ago certain tendencies in the popular discussion of the
doctrine of Divine Immanence suggested to the present writer the idea
of a brief sketch or article, to be published under the title, "The
Truth of Transcendence."  On further reflection, however, a somewhat
more extended treatment of so important a subject seemed desirable, and
this has been attempted in the following chapters.  When the doctrine
of immanence began, as it has been of late, to be reasserted in a
somewhat pronounced manner, most of those who were best able to judge
felt conscious of certain dangers likely to arise through
misinterpretation and over-emphasis; that those anticipations have been
abundantly realised, no careful student of recent developments will
dispute, and the present book is intended both to call attention to
these dangers and to bring out the distinction between the truth of
immanence and what to the author seem perversions of that truth.

In the meantime, while these pages were passing through the press,
there has appeared a new work from the brilliant pen of Professor
William James,[1] some sentences from which might to a large extent be
taken as indicating {6} the standpoint of the volume now submitted to
the reader:--

"God," in the religious life of ordinary men is the name not of the
whole of things, heaven forbid, but only of the ideal tendency in
things, believed in as a superhuman person who calls us to co-operate
in His purposes, and who furthers ours if they are worthy.  He works in
an external environment, has limits, and has enemies.  When John Mill
said that the notion of God's omnipotence must be given up, if God is
to be kept as a religious object, he was surely accurately right; yet,
so prevalent is the lazy Monism that idly haunts the regions of God's
name, that so simple and truthful a saying was generally treated as a
paradox; God, it was said, _could_ not be finite.  I believe that the
only God worthy of the name _must_ be finite.

It is precisely the theory which identifies God with "the whole of
things" which will be combated in the following discussions; it is
precisely "the lazy Monism that idly haunts the regions of God's name"
to which they offer a plain and direct challenge.  At the same time
such a phrase as that in which Professor James speaks of God as working
"in an external environment" would seem unduly to under-emphasise the
fact of immanence; and it may be said at once that the theory of Divine
finitude put forward by the present writer will be seen to differ from
that of John Stuart Mill, as the idea of _self_-limitation differs from
that of a limitation _ab extra_--in other words, as Theism differs from

It is perhaps a little remarkable that the fundamental antinomies which
arise from the assumption of the actual infinity of God should not have
been more frequently dealt with; or rather, that thinkers postulating
that infinity {7} as a basal axiom should have been comparatively blind
to its logical implications.  For if God is infinite, then He is all;
and if He is all, what becomes of human individuality, or how are human
initiative and responsibility so much as thinkable?  Benjamin Jowett,
in his Essay on Predestination and Freewill, glanced at this problem in
passing, and the remarks he made upon it more than fifty years ago, if
somewhat tentative, are well worth consideration to-day:--

"God is infinite."  But in what sense? . . .  Press the idea of the
infinite to its utmost extent, till it is alone in the universe, or
rather is the universe itself, in this heaven of abstraction,
nevertheless, a cloud begins to appear; a limitation casts its shadow
over the formless void.  Infinite is finite because it is infinite.
That is to say, because infinity includes all things, it is incapable
of creating what is external to itself.  Deny infinity in this sense,
and the being to whom it is attributed receives a new power.  _God is
greater by being finite than by being infinite_ . . .  Logic must admit
that the infinite over-reaches itself by denying the existence of the
finite, and that there are some "limitations," such as the
impossibility of evil or falsehood, which are of the essence of the
Divine nature.[2]

Where, of course, Divine immanence is held to mean the "allness"--which
is the strict equivalent of the infinity--of God, evil in every shape
and form will either have to be ascribed to the direct will and agency
of God Himself, or for apologetic purposes to be reduced to a mere
semblance, or "not-being."  Thus we are told to-day in plain terms that
"if God does not avert evil, it is because He requires it"; {8} that
"what to us seems evil is ordained of God"; that--

  "If prayers and earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
  How then a Borgia or a Catiline?"

But if evil be only apparent and not real, we shall surely, having
gained this insight, be too wise to waste indignation upon the
non-existent; if what we call misdeeds in reality fulfil God's own
"requirements," a thoroughly enlightened public opinion will not seek
to interfere with the sacred activities of the pick-pocket, the forger,
the sweater, the _roué_, every one of whom may plead that he is but
carrying out the Divine ordinances; if Alexander Borgia's perjuries,
poisonings and debaucheries "break not Heaven's design," but are
"ordained of God for some purpose," morality itself becomes an exploded

It is because these and such as these are the results in the fields of
religion and conduct which flow from certain errors in the field of
speculation, that these chapters have been written, and are now sent
forth.  Belief in a personal God, personal freedom, personal
immortality--these essentials of religion are one and all endangered
where the doctrine of Divine immanence is presented in terms of a
monistic philosophy; it has been the writer's object to safeguard and
vindicate these truths anew in a volume which, though of necessity
largely critical in method, he offers as wholly constructive in aim.

August 1st, 1909.

[1] _A Pluralistic Universe._

[2] _Thessalonians, Galatians and Romans_, vol. ii. pp. 388-9.


CHAPTER                                                    PAGE

       INTRODUCTION: DIVINE IMMANENCE  . . . . . . . . . .   11
    I. SOME PROBLEMS OF IMMANENCE  . . . . . . . . . . . .   23
   II. PANTHEISM: THE SUICIDE OF RELIGION  . . . . . . . .   41
  III. THE ETHICS OF MONISM  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   53
   IV. MONISM AND THE INDIVIDUAL . . . . . . . . . . . . .   64
    V. THE DIVINE PERSONALITY  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   74
   VI. EVIL _versus_ DIVINE GOODNESS . . . . . . . . . . .   87
  VII. EVIL _versus_ DIVINE GOODNESS (_cont._) . . . . . .  101
 VIII. THE DENIAL OF EVIL  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  119
   IX. DETERMINISM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  141
    X. MORALITY AS A RELIGION  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  171
   XI. PROBLEMS OF PRAYER  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  192
  XII. IMMORTALITY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  218




The doctrine of Divine immanence is in a very special and unmistakeable
manner the re-discovery of the nineteenth century.  Nothing could be
more remote from fact than to call that doctrine a new--or even an
old--heresy.  Old it certainly is, but heretical in itself it as
certainly is not; it can point to unquestionable warranty in Holy
Scripture, where such is demanded, and it has never been repudiated by
the Christian Church.  But just as a law, without being repealed, may
fall into desuetude, so a doctrine, without being repudiated, may for a
time fade out of the Church's consciousness; and in the one case as in
the other any attempt at revival will arouse a certain amount of
distrust and opposition.  There would no doubt be a measure of truth in
the statement that the suspicion and antagonism with which the recent
re-enunciation of this particular doctrine or idea was attended in some
quarters, exemplified this general attitude of the human mind towards
the unaccustomed; and yet such a statement, made without qualification,
{12} would be only a half-truth.  The fact is, and it cannot be stated
too soon or too clearly, that if the antagonism and suspicion exhibited
have been exceptionally strong, there have been exceptional causes to
justify both.  Alarm, and that of a very legitimate nature, has been
called forth by one-sided and extravagant statements of the idea of
Divine immanence on the part of ill-balanced advocates; and in this
book we shall be almost continually occupied with the task of
disengaging the truth of immanence from what appear to us mischievous
travesties of that truth.  That such a task is a necessary one, we are
firmly convinced; for if, as Principal Adeney says, "among all the
changes in theology that have been witnessed during the last hundred
years this"--_i.e._, the re-discovery of the principle of Divine
immanence--"is the greatest, the most revolutionary," it must certainly
be of paramount importance that we should understand and apply that
principle aright.  Confessedly, it denotes a great and far-reaching
change; can we, then, in the first instance, briefly and plainly state
what this change is from, what it involves, and in what respect it is
supposed to help us in dealing with the problem of religion?

It has to be borne in mind, to begin with, that the very term
"immanence" had for a long time ceased to be in current use, and had
thus become strange to the average believer; it has equally to be
remembered that in theology as {13} in other matters we have not yet
altogether passed the stage where _hostis_ means both "stranger" and
"foe"--that, in fact, to many minds, the unfamiliar is, as we said, _eo
ipso_ the suspect.  But immanence means nothing more abstruse than
"indwelling"; and the renewed emphasis which, from the time of
Wordsworth onward, began to be laid upon the Divine indwelling, the
presence of God in the Universe, represented in the first place the
reaction of the human spirit against the cold and formal Deism of the
eighteenth century, which thought of God as remote, external to the
world, exclusively "transcendent."  According to the deistic notion,
God was known to man only by reason of a revelation He had given once
and for all in the far-off past--a revelation which in its very nature
excluded the idea of progress; as against this conception that of the
immanence of God declares that He is not far from each one of us, that
in Him we live and move and have our being, that He is over all and
through all and in all--the Life of all life, the Energy behind all
phenomena, the Presence from which there is no escaping, unceasingly
and progressively--though by divers portions and in divers
manners--revealed in the universe, in nature and in man.

Thus expressed, the doctrine of God's nearness and indwelling will
probably commend itself to most thoughtful religious people; but in
{14} re-emphasising an aspect of truth there is always the danger of
over-emphasising it, of claiming it as the whole and sole truth--of
falling, in a word, from one extreme into the other.  To that rule the
present case offers no exception; it is, on the contrary, very
distinctly one of the pendulum swinging as far in one direction as it
previously swung to the other.  Let us then at once state the thesis
which many of the following pages will serve to elaborate: when the
_indwelling_ of God in the universe is interpreted as meaning His
_identity_ with the universe; when the _indwelling_ of God in man is
taken to mean His _identity_ with man, the whole structure of religion
is gravely imperilled.  For in the identity of God with the world and
with man--which is the root-tenet of Pantheism--there is inevitably
involved the surrender of both the Divine and the human personality.
We shall have occasion to see how much such a surrender signifies; for
the moment it suffices to say plainly that Pantheism, the doctrine
which denies the transcendence of God, is by no means the same as that
which affirms His immanence, nor does it logically follow from that
affirmation.  The mistake so frequently made lies in regarding the
Divine immanence and the Divine transcendence as mutually exclusive
alternatives, whereas they are complementary to one another.  A
one-sided insistence on the immanence of God, to the exclusion of His
transcendence, leads to {15} Pantheism, just as a one-sided insistence
upon His transcendence, to the exclusion of His immanence, leads to
Deism; it is the two taken together that result in, and are necessary
to, Theism.  Thus it cannot be too well understood, and it should be
understood at the very outset, that we have not to make anything like a
choice between immanence and transcendence--that these two can never be
separated, but are related to each other as the less to the greater, as
the part to the whole.  One naturally shrinks from employing a diagram
in dealing with such a topic as this; but perhaps recourse might
without offence be had to this method--necessarily imperfect as it
is--on account of its essential simplicity, and because it is
calculated to remove misapprehensions.  If we can think of a very large
sphere, _A_, and, situated anywhere _within_ this, of a very small
sphere, _a_--then the relation of the smaller to the greater will be
that of the sphere of immanence to the sphere of transcendence.  The
two are not mutually separable, but the one has its being wholly within
the other.

Nevertheless it is quite true that there has been within recent years a
distinct shifting of the centre of gravity from the one doctrine to the
other, a growing disposition to regard the immanence of God as the
fundamental datum, the basis of the modern restatement of religious
belief.  How will this conception help us to {16} such an end?  The
answer to that question may be given in the words of Dr. Horton, who
says, "The intellectual background of our time is Agnosticism, and _the
reply which faith makes to Agnosticism is couched in terms of the
immanence of God_."  [1]  Dr. Horton's meaning will grow clearer to us
if we once more glance at our imaginary diagram, letting the smaller
figure _a_, the sphere of immanence, stand for our universe.  If the
sphere of God's being lay altogether outside the universe, _i.e._,
outside the radius of our knowledge--if He, in other words, were merely
and altogether transcendent--He would also be merely and altogether
unknowable, exactly as Agnosticism avers.  His transcendent attributes,
all that partakes of infinity, cannot--and that of necessity--become
objects of immediate knowledge to finite minds; if He is to be known at
all to us, He can only be so known by being manifested through His
presence within, or action upon, the finite and comprehensible sphere.
In other words, _it is primarily as He is revealed in and through the
finite world, that is to say as immanent, that God becomes knowable to
us_; all that is included under His transcendence is of the very
highest importance for us--religion would be utterly incomplete without
it--but it is an inference we make from His immanence.  It is, to give
an obvious illustration, only to a transcendent God that we can offer
prayer--God {17} over all whom the soul needs, to enter into relations
withal; but it is also true that we gain the assurance of His
transcendence through His immanence, and that

  The God without he findeth not,
    Who finds Him not within.

In a word, the Divine immanence is not the goal of our quest of God,
but it is the indispensable starting-point.

A simple reflection will serve to place this beyond doubt.  Against the
old-fashioned Deism which continued to bear sway till far into the last
century, the agnostic had an almost fatally easy case; he had but to
reject the revelation alleged to have been given once for all in the
dim past--to reject it on scientific or critical grounds--and who was
to prove to him that the universe had been created a few thousand years
ago by a remote and external Deity?  As for him, he professed, and
professed candidly enough, that he could see nothing in nature but the
operation of impersonal forces; there was natural law, and there was
the process of evolution, but beyond these----?  Now the only really
telling reply that can be made to those who argue in this fashion is
that which reasons from the Divine immanence as its _terminus a
quo_--the doctrine which beholds God first of all present and active
_in_ the world, and sees in natural law not a possible substitute for
Him, but the working of His sovereign Will.  From this point of view,
the orderliness of the cosmos, {18} the uniformity and regularity of
nature, attest not the unconscious throbbing of a soulless engine, or a
blind Power behind phenomena, but a directing Mind, a prevailing Will.
The world, according to this conception, was not "made" once upon a
time, like a piece of clockwork, and wound up to run without further
assistance; it is not a mechanism, but an organism, thrilled and
pervaded by an eternal Energy that "worketh even until now."  In Sir
Oliver Lodge's phrase, we must look for the action of Deity, if at all,
then always; and this thought of the indwelling God, revealing Himself
in the majestic course and order of nature, not only rebuts the
assaults of Agnosticism, but compels our worship.  And as natural law
speaks to us of the steadfastness and prevailing power of the Divine
Will, so evolution speaks of the Divine Purpose, and proclaims that
purpose "somehow good," since evolution means a steady reaching forward
and upward, an unfolding and ascent from less to more.

We take a step higher up when we come to the further revelation of God
as seen dwelling in man; a step higher up because on any sane view
immanence is a fact admitting of very various degrees, so that God is
more fully revealed in the organic than in the inorganic world, more in
the conscious than in the unconscious, far more in man than in lower
creatures.  We speak of God's indwelling in man in the {19} same sense
in which there is something of an earthly parent's very being in his
children; indeed, rightly considered, the Divine Parenthood is the only
rational guarantee of that human brotherhood which is being so
strongly--or, at least, so loudly--insisted on to-day.  Man, that is to
say, is not identical with God, any more than a son is identical with
his father; but man is consubstantial, homogeneous, with God, lit by a
Divine spark within him, a partaker of the Divine substance.  As in
nature we discern God revealed as Power, Mind, Will, Purpose, so in
man's moral nature, and his inner satisfaction or dissatisfaction
according as he does or does not approach a certain moral standard, we
discern Him as Righteousness; and, more than all, since men, beings in
whom "the Spirit of God dwelleth," are persons, it follows that God
also is at least personal, since there can be nothing in an effect that
is not in the cause producing it.  Thus the doctrine of Divine
immanence throws at least a ray of light upon one of the problems which
press with peculiar weight upon many modern minds--and which we shall
consider at greater length hereafter--_viz._, the Divine Personality.

There remains, however, a still further step to be taken along the line
which we have been pursuing.  We are not fully satisfied when we know
God even as personal, even as righteous; the assurance which alone will
satisfy the awakened human spirit is that which tells us {20} that God
is Love, and that His truest name is that of Father.  How could such a
culminating assurance come to us?  We conceive that this end could only
be achieved through a complete manifestation of the Divine character on
a finite scale, _i.e._, through His indwelling in an unparalleled
measure in a unique and ethically perfect being; and such an event, we
hold, has actually taken place in what is known as the Incarnation.  In
the words of Dr. Horton, "the doctrine of the immanence of God, the
idea that God is in us all, leads us irresistibly to the conclusion
that 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.'"  "This
argument," he says--_viz._, from Divine immanence--"becomes more and
more favourable to the doctrine of Christ's Divinity."  [2]  The
highest and truest knowledge of God, that which it most concerns us to
possess, could have become ours only through One in whom the fulness of
Godhead dwelt bodily, in whom we saw Divinity in its essence and
without alloy.  To bring us this perfect revelation was, indeed, the
very reason of Christ's advent.  We come to the Father through the Son,
because there is no other Way.  We have seen the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, the very Image of His
Substance.  Divine Love, mighty to save, full of redemptive power,
longing for the soul with infinite affection--in fine, Fatherhood--this
is what constitutes {21} religion's ultimate; and this revelation we
have in the Incarnate Son, in whom the Spirit dwelt without
measure--who, _i.e._, stands forth as the supreme and unparalleled
illustration of the Divine immanence.

Here, then, we have a first, preliminary survey of the meaning of this
much-discussed, much-misunderstood  term--a mere outline sketch which,
needless to say, requires a great deal of filling in, such as will be
attempted in subsequent pages of this book.  So much should be clear
from what has been said, that the nineteenth century, in practically
restoring this fruitful and far-reaching conception to a Church which
had largely forgotten it, made a contribution of the utmost importance
to theology and religion; indeed, the value of that contribution could
hardly be more strongly stated than in the utterances of Dr. Horton
which we have quoted above.  Such a factor, however, cannot be
introduced, or re-introduced, into our theological thinking without
necessitating a good deal of revision, nor without causing a certain
measure of temporary confusion and dislocation; it will accordingly be
the principal object of the following chapters to clear up
misapprehensions which have arisen in connection with the idea of
immanence, to assign to it its approximately proper place in Christian
thought, and to safeguard an important truth against the injury done to
it--and {22} so to all truth--by a zeal that is not according to
knowledge.  _Corruptio optimi pessima_: in unskilled hands this
doctrine is certainly apt to become a danger to religion itself;
nevertheless, rightly applied, there is probably no more potent
instrument than this to help us in that reconstruction of belief which
is admittedly the urgent business of our age.  It is true, as Raymond
Brucker said, that "the answer to the riddle of the universe is
God--the answer to the riddle of God is Christ"; but it is also true,
we hold, that the most effective key for the unlocking of the riddle is
the idea of Divine immanence.

[1] _My Belief_, p. 107.

[2] _Op. cit._; pp. 108, 109.




It used to be said of a famous volume of apologetics--with what
justification this is not the place to discuss--that it raised more
difficulties than it professed to settle; and a somewhat similar charge
has more than once been brought against the doctrine of Divine
immanence, _viz._, that if it succeeded in throwing light upon some
problems, it created new ones of a particularly insoluble character.
The old deistic notion which interposed a distance between the Creator
and His creation, and in particular represented God as _there_ and man
as _here_, might be untenable in philosophy, but it was at least
intelligible and practically helpful to ordinary minds; but does not
the idea of God's immanence in the world and in man tend to efface that
distinction, and thus to introduce confusion where confusion is least
to be desired?

In the present chapter we shall attempt to glance at some of the main
questions which arise in connection with this doctrine; and, to begin
with, we may state with the utmost frankness that nothing is easier
than to interpret the {24} conception of Divine immanence in such a
manner as to make it appear either ludicrous or hateful or simply
meaningless--in any case repulsive from the religious point of view.
This, to come straight to the point, is what is bound to happen when
God's indwelling in man is explained as meaning that man is _de facto_
one with his Maker.  What could the general reader think when he was
told with vehemence, "You are yourself the infinite"--"You are yourself
God; you never were anything else"?  If that reader was lacking in
mental balance, he was likely to be swept off his feet by such a
declaration, and to accept, with all its implications, a view so
flattering to human vanity; if, on the other hand, he was a person of
soberly religious outlook and experience, he inquired what was the
doctrine in whose name such a proposition was offered to him for
acceptance--and on learning that the name of that doctrine was the
unfamiliar one of "immanence," straightway set it down as the worst of
brain-sick heresies.  Thus, not for the first time, has a cause or
truth been wounded and discredited by injudicious advocacy.

For the purpose which we have in view we cannot do better than state
what we consider the fundamental misinterpretation of this doctrine in
the considered words of one of its most popular exponents, who
expresses it as follows: "God _in_ man is God _as_ man.  _There is no
real Divine Immanence which does not imply the {25} allness of God._"
[1]  It is not too much to say that this brief statement contains the
_fons et origo_ of all the misunderstandings with which the
re-enunciation of this idea has been attended; it is this assumption of
the allness of God which underlies and colours quite a number of modern
movements, and will be seen to lead those who accept it into endless
and inextricable tangles.

If God is all, _then what are we_?  Granted the basal axiom of this
type of immanentism, it follows with irresistible cogency that our
separate existence, consciousness, volitions and so forth are merely
illusions.  We can be "ourselves God" only in the sense that we are
individually nothing; the contrary impression is simply an error, which
we shall have to recognise as such, and to get rid of with what speed
and thoroughness we can.  This, it is true, is more easily said than
done, for our whole life both of thought and action bears incessant
witness to the opposite; there are, however, those to whose temperament
such a complete contradiction, so far from being distressing, is
positively grateful because of its suggestion of mystery and mysticism.
Sometimes a Tertullian voices this abdication of the reasoning faculty
defiantly--_certum est quia impossibile est_; but more often perhaps
the same position {26} is expressed in the spirit of Tennyson's
well-known lines, which, indeed, bear directly upon our immediate

  We feel we are nothing--for all is Thou and in Thee;
  We feel we are something--_that_ also has come from Thee;
  We know we are nothing--but Thou wilt help us to be.

We submit, however, that while such a contemplation of, or oscillation
between, mutually destructive tenets may for a time minister to some
kind of aesthetic enjoyment, the healthy mind cannot permanently find
satisfaction while thus suspended in mid-air; nor are we appreciably
advanced by the temper which, after pointing out some alleged
fundamental antinomy, "quietly accepts"--_i.e._, in practice
ignores--it.  Problems of this description are not solved by what
Matthew Arnold called a want of intellectual seriousness; is it true,
we ask, that the "mystical view of the Divine immanence" compels us to
believe in the allness of God, and so to deny our individual existence?

The answer is that this _soi-disant_ "mystical view" is simply a
distorted view of what immanence means.  We are not really called upon
to do violence to the collective facts of our experience, which rise up
in unanimous and spontaneous testimony against the monstrous fiction
that we are either nothing or God.  The fallacy upon which this fiction
rests is not a {27} very subtle one.  When we speak of God's indwelling
in man, we predicate that community of nature which the writer of Gen.
ii expresses by saying that God created man in His own image; we
predicate, _i.e._, what we already called homogeneity--likeness of
substance--and not identity, which is a very different thing.  We do
not commit ourselves to the proposition that "God _in_ man is God _as_
man."  Parent and child are linked together by a precisely analogous
bond to that subsisting between God and man, but they are nevertheless
distinct individualities.

"But," it will be objected, "the analogy does not hold, for parent and
child are both finite; how can a similar separateness be so much as
thought to exist between God and man, seeing that God is infinite?"  It
will be seen that the objection merely restates the allness of God
under a different form; and this brings us to the very heart of the
matter.  We must at length face the one conclusion which does not land
us in self-contradiction--_viz._, that _in the act of creation God
limits His own infinity_, no matter to how infinitesimal an extent.  On
the alternative supposition we have ultimately to think of God and man
either as All _plus_ something or All _plus_ zero--which is absurd.
Mr. Chesterton has rendered useful service by insisting that in
creating the world God distinguishes Himself from the world, as a poet
is distinct from his poem--a truth which he has condensed into an
aphorism, {28} "All creation is separation"; but on the part of the
Deity such "separation" implies of necessity the self-limitation just
spoken of.  Just as a billion, _minus_ the billionth fraction of a
unit, is no longer a billion, so infinity itself, limited though it be
but by a hair's-breadth, is no longer, strictly speaking, infinite.
Once we admit this Divine self-limitation as a working theory, we shall
no longer be troubled by the unreal difficulty of having to reconcile
the principle of Divine immanence with the fact of individual
existence.  The Divine spark may burn in man, brightly or dimly as the
case may be, and yet be separate from the central and eternal Fire
whence it has been flung forth; in other words, man may be a partaker
of the Divine nature without being "himself God."  If we are to be able
to believe in either a universe or a humanity which, though the scene
of Divine immanence, are not identical with God, it seems to us that
such a view of creation as we have just propounded is inevitable; and
unless this non-identity can be maintained--unless, that is to say, we
definitely repudiate the idea of the "allness" of God--religion itself
is reduced to a misty and ineffective theosophy.

The issues involved in the acceptance or rejection of this view appear
to us of such importance that, at the risk of seeming to labour our
point unnecessarily, we are anxious to make it perfectly plain.  In the
phase through which {29} religious thought is passing to-day there are
few things more urgently needed than to dispel that interpretation of
immanence which obliterates the line of demarcation between God and
man.  We may decline the mechanical dualism which placed the Creator
altogether outside the universe, and yet embrace a view which for want
of a better name might be called spiritual dualism, and which maintains
the distinction of which we are speaking.  What happens when that
distinction is lost, is sufficiently apparent from a statement like the
following, actually addressed to a miscellaneous audience: "If there is
an eternal throne, you are on it now; there has never been a moment
when you were not on it."  Such downright extravagance is most suitably
met with a bald contradiction: man is _not_ on the eternal throne, and
there has never been a moment when he was on it.  It is this fact which
makes worship so much as possible; it is, in short, the transcendent
God with whom we are concerned in the exercise of religion, for as Mr.
Chesterton puts it in his own manner, "that Jones shall worship the god
within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones."

Let us see what follows if we once seriously persuade ourselves that we
are "on the eternal throne," or, to extract its meaning from that
picturesque phrase, that the presence of God is already perfectly
realised in us.  We cannot but think we shall carry the reader {30}
with us in saying that such a belief is in itself indicative of
spiritual danger; indeed, there can hardly be a greater danger than
that which is directly encouraged by the idea that we have already
attained, and that all is well with us, seeing that we are one with the
All-good.  On such a supposition, why pray--for even were there One
other than ourselves to pray to, what is there to pray for?  Or, to
quote the actual question of a believer in this kind of immanence, Why
ask outside for a strength which we already possess?  What a naïve
question of this calibre reveals only too plainly is that
self-complacency which is the most deadly foe of the spiritual life.
One is reminded of the American story in which a bright and intelligent
wife asks her cultured but indifferent husband, "Is it true that God is
immanent in us all?"  "I suppose so," he answers; "_but it does not
greatly matter._"  The question is, Do we already possess the strength
for which we ask?  Or rather, Does not the very fact that we ask for it
prove that we do not possess it, and that He from whom we ask it is not
ourselves?  Is not the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Divine invasion of
the soul, a fact of experience, and is it not also a fact that that
gift is only to be had for the asking, only given in response to
earnest and persevering prayer, and that it effects in those who
receive it a change of thought and feeling?

All these are facts resting on irrefragable evidence; the apparent
problem is, to {31} harmonise them with the affirmation of the divinity
existing in man.  If God be truly "in us all," then in what sense or to
what purpose can we pray for a consummation which, it will be urged, is
_ex hypothesi_ an accomplished fact at the time that we ask for it?  We
reply that the Divine indwelling in man is of the nature of a capacity
for striving rather than of an attainment, a potentiality rather than
an actuality, a prophecy rather than a fulfilment.  Man's longing for
communion with God, as for an unrealised good, is the longing of like
for Like, but it is only through struggle and effort that the goal can
be reached.  The Eternal is indeed the Life of all life, and to that
extent it is true that all life expresses Him; nevertheless our
original divine endowment is no more than the material which has to be
shaped and wrought into "the type of perfect."  Without this divinity
of substance as it might be called, we should never have the finished
product, divinity of character; but the latter can only be achieved
through arduous and persevering endeavour.  Without a genuinely divine
element--without the Spirit breathed into man by his Creator--we could
not even realise our failure, nor aspire after a fuller portion of that
same life-giving Spirit; it is what we have that tells us of what we
lack, and directs us to Him who alone can supply our want out of His
inexhaustible fulness.

And if we have thus found an answer to the question, "How, from the
point of view of {32} Divine immanence, can there be anything but God?"
we have at the same time received a hint indicating where we shall have
to look for the answer to another query of even more directly practical
interest, _viz._, "How, from the same point of view, can there be
anything but _good_--how can there be any real evil, physical or
moral?"  Put in that extreme form, this problem, like the one with
which we have just dealt, arises from the erroneous assertion of the
allness of God; but as the whole subject of the reality of evil will
come up for treatment at a later stage, we need not now enter into its
discussion.  At one aspect, and one only, of this vast and complex
theme we may, however, be permitted to glance for a moment before we
pass on.  If God dwells in us, it is frequently asked, whence comes
what Paul so pathetically calls "the law of sin which is in our
members"--whence come the wrongful desires and harmful passions of
whose power we are so painfully conscious?  That is an entirely
legitimate and even inevitable query, but the solution of the enigma is
not past finding out, though we must content ourselves with a mere
suggestion.  We have, in the first place to keep our hold of the fact,
disregarding all pleas to the contrary, that sin is a reality, and not
a phantasm of our imagination; we shall then diagnose its nature as the
misuse, the unfaithful administration, of the power which God has
conferred upon us for employment in His holy service; and then, {33}
lastly, we shall grow aware that the very pain, the sense of
unhappiness and moral discord by which the consciousness of guilt is
ever accompanied, is the protesting voice of that which is the deepest
reality within ourselves--the indwelling Divine.

But when we have shown that the doctrine of Divine immanence does not,
as some of its advocates would have us believe, swallow up human
individuality--a subject to which we shall return--we are faced with
yet another difficulty.  The question is asked--again, quite naturally
and inevitably--In what sense can we speak of God as immanent in the
inorganic world?  How, _e.g._, does a stone embody or express His
essence?--and yet, if it is not somehow a manifestation of Him, what is
this cold, lifeless, ponderable substance we call a stone?  Nor do
matters grow simpler when we ascend in the scale: we may trace the
immanent Deity in all that is good and fair in nature, in all its
smiling and beneficent moods--but what of nature's uglinesses and
cruelties?  Is God expressing Himself in the ferocity of the tiger, the
poisonous malice of the cobra, the greed of every unclean carrion-bird?
If He is such as religion represents Him, how can He be present in
these?  We may quote with rapture the familiar lines in which the poet
tells us:--

          I have felt
  A presence that disturbs me with the joy
  Of elevated thoughts. . .

{34} But the world which is the dwelling of that something "far more
deeply interfused" of which Wordsworth sings, does not consist
exclusively of

        the light of setting suns,
  And the round ocean, and the living air,
  And the blue sky. . .

--it contains also dismal, fever-breeding swamps, dreadful deserts,
dreary wastes of eternal ice, plunged into darkness half the year; are
we going simply to ignore these realities when we speak of the Divine
indwelling in the world?  And, once more, shall we assert this doctrine
when we remember the cold cunning of the spider, or the delight in
torture displayed by the domestic cat?

It depends, we answer, what we mean by "this doctrine"; if we construe
immanence to signify "allness," we may as well admit first as last that
there is no way of escape from the difficulties which these queries
suggest.  In that case it is not for us to pick and choose--to say that
God is the beauty of the beautiful, but not the ugliness of the ugly;
the compassion of the compassionate, but not the cruelty of the cruel:
if He is _all_, He is _both_, and for that very reason is _neither_.
That is the real inwardness of a conception of the Deity which
represents Him, with Omar Khayyam, as One--

  Whose secret Presence, through Creation's veins
  Running, Quicksilver-like eludes your pains;
    Taking all forms from Màh to Màhi; and
  They change and perish all--but He remains.

{35} Such a doctrine can only mean that the Divine Substance, under a
myriad-fold variety of appearances, is equally diffused through all
creation, like the universal ether of science; and such a conception of
the Eternal, whatever else it may be, ceases _ipso facto_ to be
religiously helpful.  The counterpart of the theoretical allness would
be the practical nothingness of God.[2]  But having quite definitely
declined to place such a construction upon immanence, we are preserved
from the absurdities which flow from it.  We may and do hold that all
the works of the Lord manifest Him in some manner and in some measure;
but, as we already stated in our introductory chapter, not all do so in
the same manner or the same measure, and not any of them nor all of
them are He.  To the specific inquiry, What, if not part of God, is
this stone?--we can, indeed, only answer in the words of Tennyson that
if we knew what the least object was in itself, we "should know what
God and man is."  But, dealing with the question more generally, we may
say that what inorganic nature shows forth of the indwelling God is His
prevailing Power and abiding Law; looking upon the works of Him who
"stretcheth out the north over empty space, and hangeth the earth upon
{36} nothing," we can but feel that awed admiration of His wisdom and
might which is expressed over and over again in the Book of Job.  And
this impression deepens when we pass upward from the inorganic to the
organic creation; for not only do we behold the entire vast spectacle
thrilled through and through by one Life, but we are also enabled to
discern something of the august Purpose which progressively realises
itself in all the phases of the cosmic process.  That the God revealed
by the universe must transcend the universe in order to be in any real
sense its Creator, is self-evident; but that it is His own Energy which
pervades it, a present Power operating from within--in other words,
that He is immanent in the world, as well as transcendent--is a thought
from which we cannot legitimately escape.

When we speak of the immanence of God in nature, therefore, we mean
principally immanence of Power; and due weight should be given to this
qualification, since its effect is to remove the obstacles we have
enumerated above.  For it ought to be plain, though in popular
discussion it is constantly overlooked, that God cannot be _ethically_
present in the unethical, nor _personally_ present in the impersonal.
And here, it seems to us, we go to the root of our present problem,
_viz._, by re-emphasising what is indispensable to a right conception
of this whole doctrine--that immanence is of necessity a matter of
degrees.  Nature is not moral, {37} and hence does not reveal God's
moral character to us; nature is not personal, and therefore, while its
operations point with irresistible cogency to personal directivity,
does not show forth the Divine Personality as indwelling.

As soon as we grasp this obvious truth, we shall be led to find the
answer to that question which, as we saw, presents a stumbling-block to
many minds, namely, in what sense it is permissible to affirm the
Divine immanence in the animal world.  How can God be in the denizens
of the jungle, we ask, feeling that to make such an statement
concerning Him is to empty the idea of God of all its meaning.
Natural, however, as such reasoning is, reflection will show it to be
faulty.  To use a simple, if necessarily imperfect, illustration,
something of man's own being is in all his organs, but not all that
makes him man is in every one of them; certainly, his higher faculties
are not displayed in the organs designed to fulfil the lower functions
of the organism.  To proceed to the obvious application--animals are
not moral beings, but act, with the occasional exception of such of
their number as have been humanised by contact with men, from instinct
and not from conscious choice; and for that reason we are not called
upon to reconcile the loving-kindness and tender mercy of God with the
habits and general behaviour of the lower creation.  In ascribing all
sorts of moral qualities to animals we simply exhibit the same {38}
tendency which leads children to endow lifeless objects both with life
and purposiveness.  Moral attributes, however, whether good or bad,
presuppose conscious choice, a faculty of weighing and if necessary
repelling motives; and with such a faculty we have no reason for
crediting animals.  No doubt, our incurable habit of reading the facts
of our own moral nature into the actions of beasts and birds accounts
for the vogue alike of Aesop's Fables and of such works as the _Jungle
Books_; but what strikes us as cruelty in the tiger is not a moral
quality at all, any more than it is a motive of heroism that impels the
mongoose to fight cobras.  The tiger and the cobra are no more
deliberately "cruel" than they could be conceived as deliberately
"benevolent"; they are below the ethical level, expressing no character
at all, and least of all the character of God.

But if God is immanent in the cosmos as its pervading and sustaining
Power and Life; if He is immanent in man as that moral and spiritual
principle which reaches out after fuller communion with the Most High:
where shall we say that He Himself is _personally present_, since He is
not so present either in nature or in man?  And assuming that such a
supreme and full revelation of God has been given in history, shall we
not do well to distinguish in some manner between it and every lesser
manifestation of immanence?  Mr. W. L. Walker has admirably pointed out
that while {39} God is personally present _to_ everything, and entirely
absent from nothing, yet it is certainly false to imagine that He is
"personally inside of everything."  "Nothing can happen wholly apart
from Him--He is in some measure in everything and being"; but where
shall He Himself be found, where shall we look for His very fulness?
"He cannot," says Mr. Walker--and we shall not attempt to better his
words--"be personally present in anything, or in any being, till there
is a being present in the world capable of containing and expressing
Him in His essential truth; and that we do not have till we come to
Jesus Christ."

And thus we may perhaps claim to have shown, however briefly, in what
direction we must look for the solution of our problem of universal
immanence--a problem unnecessarily complicated by a plausible but false
construction of that doctrine.  We conclude that every portion of the
cosmos, including our conscious selves, manifests so much, and such
aspects, of God as it has the capacity to manifest--His Power, His
Purpose, His moral Law, which vindicates its sanctity upon whosoever
would violate it; but His own Essence, His Character, could be revealed
only in One whose soul harboured no single element at variance with the
Divine Goodness, One who could be described as "God manifest in the
flesh"--even that unique Son whose oneness with the Father was {40}
undimmed and unbroken by any diversity of will.  It required the
perfect Instrument to give forth the perfect Harmony.

And here a final but important point arises.  If the Incarnation of God
in Christ is in one sense the highest example of Divine immanence--just
as man represents the highest form of animal life--yet in another sense
it transcends mere immanence just as truly as humanity transcends the
animal creation.  We leave this as a suggestion which the reader may
develop for himself.  So much is certain, that in Christ alone does the
edifice of faith reach its culminating point--in Him our questionings
receive their complete and final answer, because what we see in Him is
not a stray hint or broken gleam, but the pure and quenchless light of
God's own Presence.  "_No man hath seen God at any time; the only
begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared

[1] The Rev. R. J. Campbell, M.A., in a paper on _Divine Immanence and
Pantheism_.  For the phrase and the Idea of the "allness of God" see
also _Rudimental Divine_ (_i.e._ Christian) _Science_, by Mary Baker
Eddy, p. 10.

[2] We cannot forbear quoting two pungent lines of Mr. Hamish Hendry's,
in which the outcome of such theosophising seems to be not altogether
unjustly described as--

  _A kind o' thowless Great First Cause,_
    _Skinklin' thro' vapour._




In speaking of Deism, the theory which explicitly denies the Divine
immanence, we already had occasion to acknowledge that quality of
intelligibleness which makes this doctrine easy of assimilation, and
accounts, _e.g._, for the success of Islam, the deistic religion _par
excellence_, as a propagandist creed.  There is, however, another
aspect of Deism, none the less real because it is not always recognised
at first sight, which perhaps an illustration will serve to bring home
to us.  We all know what is likely to happen to an estate in the
owner's prolonged or permanent absence--it deteriorates;  his active
interest and personal supervision are wanting, and the results are
visible everywhere.  Sloth and mismanagement, which his presence would
check, go uncorrected, the daily duties are indifferently performed or
remain undone, and soon the property as a whole bears unmistakeable
traces of neglect.  There is always the possibility of the master's
return some day, when he will exact an account from his servants; but
{42} the long interval which has elapsed since such a visit took place
has deprived that mere possibility of any wholesome terror which it
might inspire, so that matters drift steadily from bad to worse.

Now, from the deistic point of view, the world may not unfairly be
compared to such an estate.  God is remote--He may look down upon the
terrestrial scene from His far-off heaven, but He does not actively
interfere, except by an occasional miracle, which is not the same as
direct hour-by-hour superintendence: is it any wonder that the ground
should bring forth weeds and brambles rather than flowers and fruit?
Is it a wonder that this God-less world should be a dismal place and
full of misery, and that human nature, left to itself, should have "no
health" in it?  It would be matter for wonder if it were otherwise; and
thus Deism is well in accord with those gloomier forms of religious
thought which for a long time were the generally predominating ones.

The distance between this conception and that which flows from the
doctrine of Divine immanence can hardly be measured; it certainly
cannot be bridged.  The soul to which, through whatever experience,
there has come the revelation that God is closer to us than breathing,
and nearer than hands or feet, looks out upon a new heaven and a new
earth.  Once it is understood that God is really and truly in His
universe, that He is not infinitely far {43} and inaccessible but
infinitely nigh, an encompassing Presence, a fresh light falls upon
nature and human nature alike.  Viewed in that light, and from the
standpoint of this illuminating truth, "the world's no blot for us, nor
blank," but the scene of Divine activity and unceasing revelation; for
all nature's forces are seen to be the expression of the Divine Energy,
and all nature's laws the manifestation of the Divine Will.  If God
Himself is the Life that stirs within all life, the Reality underlying
all phenomena--if we live and move and have our being in Him, and His
Spirit dwelleth within us--the direct outcome of such a belief should
be a sacred optimism, an assurance that the cosmos "means intensely,
and means good."

There can, we think, be little doubt as to the beneficial effects which
have accompanied the re-affirmation of this idea in recent times.  It
is only too true as yet, in the case of many, that "the past, which
still holds its ground in the back chambers of the brain, would
persuade us that 'tis a demon-haunted world, where not God but the
devil rules; we are not yet persuaded that this is a cheerful, homely,
well-meaning universe, whose powers, if strict in their working, are
nevertheless beneficent and not diabolic."  Against these phantasmal
fears the doctrine of God's immanence, rightly understood, offers the
best of antidotes, and here lies its unquestionable value.  At the same
time it has already become apparent {44} to us that the suddenness of
the stress laid upon that idea has brought new dangers in its train.
The temptation is ever to swing round from one extreme to its opposite;
and in the present case not a few have carried--or been carried by--the
reaction against the belief in God's remoteness so far as to forget, in
contemplating the truth that He is "through all and in all," the
complementary and equally necessary truth that He is also God over all.
Because something of His Mind and Will is expressed by the universe,
they not only, as we saw in the previous chapter, conclude that the
universe is identical with Him, but that He is no other than the
universe which reveals Him.  "All is God, and God is All," they
exclaim, adding the doctrine of the Godness of all to that of the
allness of God; the universe, in their view, is the one Divine and
Eternal Being of which everything, including ourselves, is only a phase
or partial manifestation; as it is the Divine life which pulses through
us, so it is the Divine consciousness which our consciousness
expresses, the Divine nature which acts through ours.  Here we are face
to face with Pantheism full-grown: let us see what is involved in its
assumptions, and why the Christian Church must resolutely refuse to
make terms with this teaching.

No one would deny that the pantheistic theory, which identifies God
with the universe and ourselves with God, has its fascination and {45}
glamour--a fascination which is not ignoble on the face of it.  The
modern founder of Pantheism, Benedict Spinoza, was a man of pure and
saintly character, a gentle recluse from the world, lovable and
blameless.  Nevertheless, we have no hesitation in avowing our belief
that the glamour of Pantheism is utterly deceptive; that those who set
foot on this inclined plane will find themselves unable--in direct
proportion to their mental integrity--to resist conclusions which mean
the practical dissolution of religion, in any intelligible sense of
that word; and that in the present transitional state of religious
opinion it is particularly necessary that the truth about Pantheism
should be clearly stated.  The test of a theory is not whether it looks
symmetrical and self-consistent in the seclusion of the study, but
whether it works.  If it fails in actual life, it fails altogether; and
the one fatal objection to this particular system is that it does not
work.  Nothing could be more significant than the admission of so
representative an exponent of Pantheism as Mr. Allanson Picton, who
tells us that one, if not more, of Spinoza's fundamental conceptions
"have increasingly repelled rather than attracted religious people."
[1]  It is the object of the present chapter to show why this must be
the case, wherever the implications of his teaching are understood.

{46} Pantheism declares--it practically begins and ends with the
declaration--that the universe is God, and that God is the totality of
being.  Now, try as we will, such a conception can never take the place
of the thought of God as our Father, and that for the simple reason
that the universe is not even what we mean by personal.  As
Schopenhauer shrewdly remarked, "To call the universe 'God' is not to
explain it, but merely to burden language with a superfluous synonym
for the word 'universe.'  Whether one says 'the universe is God' or
'the universe is the universe' makes no difference."  It is when people
no longer know what to do with a Deity, he continues, that they
transfer His part to the universe--"which is, properly speaking, only a
decent way of getting rid of Him."  [2]  A totality of being is not the
same as a personal God, but the very contrary.  Nor is it any
consolation to be told that this totality, though not personal, is
"super-personal."  Such a super-personal Absolute or Whole, to quote
Dr. Ballard's penetrating criticism, "is devoid of just those elements
which for human experience constitute personality.  To our power of
vision it matters nothing whether we say that the ultra-violet rays of
the spectrum are super-visible or invisible.  The pertinent truth is
that they are not visible.  So, too, that which is not 'merely'
personal is not really personal.  {47} If the Absolute of philosophy be
the super-personal, it is not, in plain truth, personal at all."  [3]

Now, a God who is not what we mean by personal can be of no help to us
in our religious life.  When a congregation of modern worshippers is
appealed to in these terms--"Do not, I beseech you, think of God any
more as a personal being like yourself, though immeasurably
greater"--they are really being asked to commit spiritual suicide.  For
we cannot hold communion except with a person; we cannot pray to the
universe.  We can neither give thanks to the universe, nor supplicate
it, nor confess to it, nor intercede with it.  But a God to whom we
cannot pray, with whom we cannot enter into communion, is for all
practical purposes no God at all.  The only God with whom we can stand
in personal, conscious, spiritual relationship must be one who is not
identical with the universe, but One in whom, on the contrary, the
universe has its being.  It is the transcendent God with whom we have
to deal in religion; such a God Pantheism does not acknowledge.

But not only is the universe not personal; this god of Pantheism is not
ethical either.  This "totality" is neither good nor bad, but made up
indifferently of all manner of components, and according to Pantheism
all of them--the evil as much as the good--are {48} necessary to the
perfection of the whole.  Thus the pantheist's god has no moral
complexion, and such a god is of no use to us.  So far as religion is
concerned, he--or it--might just as well be non-existent as non-moral.
The only Deity whom we can _worship_ is One who stands above the
world's confusion, its Moral Governor and Righteous Judge.

But Pantheism identifies not only God with the universe, but ourselves
with God.  Now if this view is accepted, if there is no real dividing
line between man and God, then we can only once more point out that we
have no personality either; we are mere fragmentary expressions of
God's life, without selfhood or self-determination, no more responsible
for our acts than a violin for the tune that is played on it.  Mr.
Picton, speaking with authority, tells us that "to the true pantheist"
man is "but a finite mode of infinite Being"; that human personality is
only "seeming" [4] and that, from the pantheistic standpoint, the self
must be "content to be nothing."  That is to say that the consistent
pantheist must be a consistent determinist.  Logical Pantheism rules
out the possibility of sin against man or God--"for who withstandeth
His will," seeing that He is the only real Existence?  Let a further
quotation make this plain.  "What," asks Mr. Picton, "are we to say of
bad men, the vile, the base, the liar, the murderer?  Are they {49}
also in God and of God? . . .  _Yes, they are_."  [5]  And this amazing
conclusion--amazing, though involved in his fundamental outlook--is
sought to be defended on the ground that we have "no adequate idea" "of
the part played by bad men in the Divine Whole"!  In other words, the
pantheist god expresses himself in a St. Francis, but he also does so
in a King Leopold; he is manifested in General Booth and in Alexander
Borgia; Jesus Christ is a phase of his being, and so is Judas Iscariot.
A sentimental Pantheism may say that God is that in a hero which nerves
him to heroism, and that in a mother which prompts her self-sacrifice
for her children, for there is none else.  But that is only one-half of
the truth; arguing from the same premises, we must also say that God is
that in the sinner which succumbs to sin, and in the wrong-doer that
which takes pleasure in wrong, for there is none else.  Once we rub out
the distinction between God and man, we rub out all _moral_
distinctions as well.  If we are not other than He is, how can we act
other than He wills?  If we hold that the soul is only "a finite mode
of God's infinite attribute of thought," part of "the necessary
expression of the infinite attributes of eternal Being," the sense of
sin can be no more than an illusion.

Or shall we be told that, whatever a man's theoretical Determinism, in
practice he will {50} always be conscious of his freedom?  The answer
is, Yes, perhaps, provided his moral instincts are sound; but the
average mortal, when he has to choose between the hard duty and the
easy indulgence, will be sorely tempted to find a reason for yielding
in his determinist philosophy.  And is a doctrine likely to be true
which, the moment it is seriously applied, undermines the very
foundation of morality, and of which the best that can be said is that
people do not consistently apply it?  M. Bourget's _Le Disciple_ is not
a book for everyone; but in it the distinguished author has drawn an
instructive picture of the effect of Determinism as a theory upon a
self-indulgent man's practice.  As Mr. Baring-Gould aptly says, "Human
nature is ever prone to find an excuse for getting the shoulder from
under the yoke."

Pantheism, as a matter of fact, whichever way we travel, is ultimately
compelled to deny the qualitative distinction between good and evil,
declaring both to be equally necessary, and thus arrives once more at
its conception of a Deity who, though said to be "perfect"--presumably
in some "super-moral" sense--is not good, and hence cannot be a
possible object of worship for us.  How little the pantheist's God can
mean to us will be understood when it is stated that, according to
Spinoza, man "cannot strive to have God's love to him."  [6]  Indeed,
how could the universe "love" one of {51} its mere passing phases?  Is
it a wonder that this cheerless creed has "increasingly repelled rather
than attracted religious people" when once they have understood its
inwardness?  We ask for bread and receive--a nebula; we call for our
Father, and are told to content ourselves with a totality of being!

And when Pantheism has thus despoiled us of our religious possessions
one by one, so far as this life is concerned, what is its message
concerning the future?  This, that when we die there is an end even of
our seeming self-hood; we are once more immersed in the All, the
Whole--like a thimbleful of water drawn from the ocean and poured back
into the ocean again.  This is what Mr. Picton calls "the peace of
absorption in the Infinite"; would it not be simpler to call it
annihilation, and have done with it?  Dissolve a bronze statue and
merge it in a mass of molten metal, and it is gone as a statue;
dissolve a soul and merge it in the sum of being, and as a soul it is
no more.  That is not immortality, but a final blotting out--a fit
conclusion from those pantheistic premises which, consistently worked
out, mean the end of religion, the end of morality, the end of

Pantheism goes about under a variety of aliases to-day, and therein
lies an additional danger; for whatever its assumed name or disguise,
its essence is always the same, and its very speciousness calls for all
our vigilance and {52} determination to fight it.  We must not weary of
challenging its root-assumption, or of exposing its insidious
tendencies; we must not weary of reiterating the truth that God is not
identical with the universe, but to be worshipped as the One who is
over all; we must insist that His nearness to us and our likeness to
Him are not identity with Him--nay, that it is His otherness from us
which makes us capable of seeking and finding Him, of experiencing His
love, and loving Him in return.  From the inhuman speculations of
Pantheism we turn with unspeakable gratitude to the revelation of the
personal God in the Person of Jesus Christ His Son, whom having seen,
we have beheld the Father, and whose are the words, not of
annihilation, but of eternal life.

[1] _Pantheism_, p. 15.

[2] Parerga, vol. ii., pp. 101-102.

[3] _The True God_, p. 118.

[4] _Op. cit._, p. 15.

[5] _Ibid_, p. 69.

[6] J. Allanson Picton, _Spinoza_, p. 213.




To say that religious thought is passing to-day through a period of
peculiar stress is to utter a commonplace so threadbare that one
apologises for repeating it.  Even the man in the street--or perhaps we
ought to say even the man in the pew, the average member of a Christian
Church--is aware that certain potent forces have been for some time
past directing a series of sustained assaults upon what were until
recently all but unquestioned beliefs; nor, if he is capable of
appreciating facts, will he deny--though he may deplore it--that to all
seeming these attacks have been attended by a considerable measure of
success.  If, however, our man in the pew were asked to specify what
forces he had in his mind, he would probably in nine cases out of ten
point to two such, and two alone, _viz._, natural science and Biblical
criticism, which, he would tell us, had between them created an
atmosphere in which the old views of Scriptural authority found it more
and more difficult to maintain themselves.


Such an estimate of the situation would be true so far as it went; yet
it would omit to take account of a third factor, a solvent far less
obvious in its workings, but far more disintegrating in its effects.
The factor to which we are referring is philosophy; while science and
criticism have overthrown certain traditional ramparts, a type of
philosophy has sprung up, slowly undermining the very foundations; or,
to vary the simile, while the former two have captured certain
outworks, the latter has made its way to within striking distance of
the citadel, and that the more unobserved because attention has been
focussed almost exclusively upon the more imposing performances of the
critic and the biologist.

As a matter of fact, religion never had, nor could have, anything to
fear from these two quarters, which--as we can now see--could not in
any way touch the essence of religious faith, as distinguished from
some of its temporary forms; on the other hand, that very essence might
be imperilled by a false but plausible philosophy, and grave practical
consequences in the domain of conduct might arise from its spread.  For
if it is accurate to say that behind every ethic there stands--whether
avowed or unavowed--a certain metaphysic, the converse holds true no
less; every philosophy, in the exact proportion in which it is _ex
animo_ accepted, will tend to produce its ethical counterpart.  What we
{55} submit in all seriousness is that the only real danger to religion
that is to be apprehended to-day--a danger to which it is impossible to
blind ourselves--is that involved in a certain metaphysical outlook,
whose continued growth in popularity cannot but ere long produce its
own results in the field of practice.

The philosophy in question is intimately related to that Pantheism at
some of whose implications we were glancing in our last chapter; if we
refer to it here and subsequently by the name of Monism, under which it
has of late obtained a considerable vogue in this country, it must be
understood that we do not mean what Dr. Ballard calls _Theo_monism, but
a far less carefully thought-out and tested theory of life, which at
the present time is making a successful appeal to multitudes of inexact
thinkers.  The fundamental idea common to this school is that the
universe, including our individualities or what we think such,
constitutes only one being, and manifests only one will, which all its
phenomena express.  Separateness of existence, according to such a
view--which, after all, represents only the extreme logic of
Pantheism--is, of course, a chimaera, and so, _a fortiori_, must
separate volition be.  The only real will--_i.e._, the will of the
universe--is regarded as good and right; and since there is no other
will but that one, and seeing that none resists or inhibits it, it is
ever being carried out, continuously operative.  {56} To call this will
even "prevailing" would be a misuse of language, since there is no
other will for it to prevail against.

Now, regarded merely in the abstract, this conception might be treated
as a harmless eccentricity or speculative aberration, and is likely to
be so treated by the ordinary "practical" man, with his contempt for
"theories," and his pathetic conviction that speculation does not
matter; let us, however, see what is implied in this particular
speculative theory.  From the primary assumption of this philosophy it
follows with an irresistible cogency that there is no such thing as
real, objective evil.  Sin, if the term be retained at all, can at most
be only a blunder.  Evil is only an inexact description of a lesser
good, or good in the making.  Indeed, properly considered--_i.e._, from
the monistic standpoint--evil is a mere negation, a shadow where light
should be; or to be quite logical, evil is that which is not--in other
words, there is no evil, except to deluded minds, whose business is to
get quit of their delusion.  The one and only cosmic will being
declared good, it follows that for the monist "all's right with the
world," in a sense scarcely contemplated by Browning when he penned
that most dubious aphorism.  We propose briefly to show how this creed
works out--what is its ethical counterpart or issue--not by arguing _in
vacuo_ what it _must_ be, but by presenting to the reader three {57}
selected illustrations taken from the writings of as many exponents of
this type of Monism.

In his volume _First and Last Things_--a work which he significantly
calls "a confession of faith and rule of life"--Mr. H. G. Wells avows
himself a believer in the "Being of the Species," and, prospectively at
least, in "the eternally conscious Being of all things."  The
individual as such is merely an "experiment of the species for the
species," and without significance _per se_; we are "episodes in an
experience greater than ourselves," "incidental experiments in the
growing knowledge and consciousness of the race."  Mr. Wells's
fundamental act of faith is a firm belief in "the ultimate rightness
and significance of things," including "the wheel-smashed frog on the
road, and the fly drowning in the milk."  In other words, all is just
as it has to be; regrets, remorses and discontents exist only for the
"unbeliever" in this truth, while, speaking for himself, the author
frankly says, "I believe . . . that my defects and uglinesses and
failures, just as much as my powers and successes, are things that are
necessary and important."  "In the last resort," he concludes his book,
"I do not care whether I am seated on a throne, or drunk, or dying in a
gutter.  I follow my leading.  In the ultimate I know, though I cannot
prove my knowledge in any way whatever, that everything is right, and
all things mine."


Certainly, this is uncompromising candour; but it is also,--though Mr.
Wells, strangely enough, calls himself a believer in freewill--the most
uncompromising Determinism conceivable.  And this Determinism follows
quite inevitably from Mr. Wells's monistic premises--belief in a cosmic
"scheme" every part of which is ultimately right.  An end in the gutter
or on the gallows may be as necessary to that scheme's perfection as a
life spent in strenuous goodness.  Whatever is, is right.  It can be
hardly necessary to point out that such a belief, consistently
entertained, puts an end to all moral effort; we "follow our
leading"--_i.e._, we do not drive, but drift.  Arguing from his own
premises, it is absolutely vain for Mr. Wells to wax indignantly
eloquent over social abuses, as when he says:--

I see the grimy millions who slave for industrial production; I see
some who are extravagant and yet contemptible creatures of luxury, and
some leading lives of shame and indignity; . . .  I see gamblers,
fools, brutes, toilers, martyrs.  Their disorder of effort, the
spectacle of futility, fills me with a passionate desire to end waste,
to create order.  (p. 99.)

But why, we ask, should Mr. Wells feel this passionate desire, if all
the failures and uglinesses of life are "necessary and important"?
How, on this assumption, are existing social ills to be remedied--nay,
why _should_ they be remedied, why should they be stigmatised as ills,
seeing that "everything is right"?  Let {59} Mr. Wells once take his
principles seriously enough to apply them, and personal as well as
social reform is at an end.  Perhaps it may be permissible to say that
of all forms of Determinism the most irrational is that optimistic form
which deprecates discontent with things as they are as a mark of

Mr. Wells, however, while his influence is a very considerable one,
utters his teaching from outside the Christian Church, and very
properly disavows the Christian name; what must give us pause is to
find the monistic ethics being preached and taught by official
exponents of the Christian religion.  What, _e.g._, can we think of a
statement like the following, which we quote from the columns of a
religious journal?

There are people who think it is an evidence of superior Culture to
show themselves pained by certain things; but it is not really that;
they are pained because they are not cultured enough, or in the right
way. . .

  Nothing is good or ill
  But thinking makes it so.

They think it desirable to dislike things because they dislike them; if
they thought it desirable not to dislike them, they would not dislike

Again, no one will accuse this writer of want of frankness; according
to him, there is simply no such thing as objective evil--acts and
individuals have no moral qualities or characters, but are such as we
think them, and our business is so to think of them that they will not
pain us.  {60} If we only knew aright, we should not regard anything as
bad.  If we are pained by the thought of fifty thousand hungry children
in London elementary schools, or by the condition of Regent Street at
night, it is because we are not "cultured" enough--we have not the
right _gnosis_.  When we reflect that anyone who consistently believes
that "nothing is good or ill, but thinking makes it so," will
inevitably, first or last, apply that comforting maxim to his own acts,
we can see in what direction the ethics of Monism--in reality a return
to the ultra-subjectivism of the Sophists, who made man the measure of
all things--are likely to lead men.  And yet, if the monistic
presuppositions are valid--if the universe in all its phases expresses
only one will--we do not see how these conclusions can be repelled.

But it is, perhaps, our last illustration, drawn from yet another
writer of the same school, which will exhibit both the teaching under
discussion and its practical dangers in the clearest light.  We are
told that--

_There is no will that is not God's will_.  I do not mean that yours is
not real, or that any man's is not real, but I do mean that nothing can
happen to any of God's children--no matter how evil the intention of
the person who does it, or how seemingly meaningless the calamity that
causes it--which is not in some way the sacrament of God's love to us,
and His call upon our highest energies.  In a true and real sense,
therefore, it is God's own doing and meant for our greater glory; . . .
I believe in the infinitude of wisdom and love; _there is nothing else_.


Those who will take the moderate trouble of translating these words
from the abstract into the concrete will need no further demonstration
of the moral implications of this type of Monism.  "There is no
will"--not even the most brutalised or the most debauched--"that is not
God's will."  "Nothing can happen to any of God's children"--say, to
the natives of the Congo or to a Jewish community during a Russian
_pogrom_--but is God's call upon their highest energies: wherefore they
ought, assuredly, to be thankful to King Leopold's emissaries and the
Tsar's faithful Black Hundreds!  But let us apply this thesis to yet
another case, which will bring out its full character: if an English
girl--one of God's children--is snared away by a ruffian, under pretext
of honest employment, to some Continental hell, then we are to
understand that the physical and moral ruin which awaits the victim is
"in some way the sacrament of God's love" to her--"in a true and real
sense it is God's own doing," and meant for her greater glory!  We have
no hesitation in saying that such teaching strikes us as fraught with
infinite possibilities of moral harm, the more so because of the rather
mawkish sentimentality with which it is decked out; for if any
scoundrel is really the instrument of God's will, why should he be
blamed for his scoundrelism?  And we observe how yet once more, by a
glib and vapid phrase--"I believe in the {62} infinitude of wisdom and
love; _there is nothing else_"--the fact of evil has been triumphantly
got rid of.  In words, that is to say, but not in reality; for in
reality there is a great deal else--sin, and shame, and remorse, and
heartbreak, and despair; against the first of which we need to be
warned, in order that we may escape the rest.

We are quite prepared to be told that our anxieties are groundless,
because "no one will ever draw such inferences as these."  To this we
reply, firstly, that these are the logical and legitimate inferences
from the principles enunciated; and secondly, that we do not at all
share the particular kind of optimism which trusts that good luck will
prevent the application of these theories to practical life.  We are
living in an age of wide-spread intellectual unsettlement, an age
presenting the difficult problem of a vast half-educated public, ready
to fall an easy prey to all manner of specious sophistries, especially
when they are dressed up in the garb of a pseudo-mysticism; we must
above all remember that human nature is habitually prone to welcome
whatever will serve as an excuse for throwing off the irksome
restraints of moral discipline.  That is why we repeat that the one
real danger religion has to face to-day is the danger arising from the
spread of a false philosophy, whose tenets are ultimately incompatible
with Christian morals.  The worst heresies are moral {63} heresies; and
of the views we have been discussing we say roundly that their
falseness is sufficiently proved by their ethical implications.  "A
good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; therefore by their fruits ye
shall know them."  Against all the insidious attempts that are made
to-day to minimise or explain away moral evil--attempts with which we
shall deal in greater detail at a later stage--we have to reaffirm the
reality and exceeding sinfulness of sin; more particularly, in
combating the preposterous notion of man's oneness with God as
something already realised, we have to insist with renewed emphasis
that salvation, so far from being self-understood, is a prize only to
be won by a hard struggle, nor shut the door upon the dread possibility
of that prize being missed.  There are perhaps few truths to which it
is more desirable that we should pay renewed attention than that
expressed in the saying, "_When belief waxes unsound, practice becomes
uncertain._"  Certainly, the ethics of Monism supply a case in point.




When Tennyson, in _Locksley Hall_, wrote the line declaring that "the
individual withers and the world is more and more," he might have been
inditing a prophecy summing up those modern tendencies which have
engaged our attention in preceding chapters.  And there are perhaps few
more important questions before us to-day than this--whether Tennyson's
prophecy is to be fulfilled, whether the individual is to be allowed to
"wither," and the world to become more and more.  There are those who
hold that such a consummation is devoutly to be wished; there are those
who regard any movement making in such a direction with something more
than suspicion.

Let us say at once that in discussing the status of the individual, we
are not referring--at least, not directly--to the struggle between
Individualism and Socialism.  We know that individualists express the
fear that under a socialist _régime_ there would be an end to
individual initiative, while socialists retort that the chief sin of
the competitive system is {65} that it crushes and destroys
individuality; but between the contentions of these rival schools of
economics we are not attempting to adjudicate.  Perhaps we cannot
better indicate the scope of our subject than by quoting from two
recent theological works, written from such widely differing points of
view as Professor Peake's _Christianity:  Its Nature and its Truth_,
and Professor Bousset's _The Faith of a Modern Protestant_:--

"It is only in it"--_viz._, in Christianity--says the learned Primitive
Methodist theologian, "that the individual has received his true place.
In antiquity the worth of the individual was greatly under-estimated;
he was unduly subordinated to the community.  But the Christian
religion, by insisting on the infinite value of each human soul, and by
asserting the greatness of its destiny, supplied an immense incentive
to the attainment by each of the highest within reach.  The doctrine of
the worth of man is, to all who accept it, a powerful stimulus in the
struggle to a fuller and deeper life.  An interest in mankind in the
mass is compatible with heartless indifference to the lot of
individuals" (p. 88).

"The Gospel," declares the Göttingen modernist, "announces a God who
seeks and desires above all else the individual human soul.  It unites,
in a security and closeness hitherto unknown, belief in God with the
importance of the individual human life.  It {66} is the religion of
religious individualism raised to its highest point." (p. 36).

Such concurrence of testimony from two such different quarters is as
remarkable as it is significant; and this brings us to our point.  The
question with which we are confronted to-day, and which our
civilisation must either answer aright or perish, is not whether an
individualist or a socialist state would be more conducive to the
individual's self-realisation, but whether Christianity is right or
wrong in its doctrine of the individual's paramount importance.  The
issue, as we shall try to show, lies between Christianity on the one
hand and Monism on the other.  From the Christian point of view the
individual matters supremely; from that of Monism the beginning of
wisdom is that the individual should recognise and acquiesce in his
utter insignificance.

As in our last chapter we glanced at the monistic ethics, so in the
present one we propose to inquire briefly first into the social and
then into the religious implications of this theory, which it must be
remembered is receiving a good deal of support, and meeting with a
large measure of acceptance just now.  Turning, then, to the social
side first of all, no one, of course, would say that Socialism as such
was monistic; on the other hand it is easy to understand the attraction
of Socialism for those whose philosophy is Monism.  They will embrace
the economic teachings of Collectivism the more {67} eagerly in exact
proportion to their root-conviction that the only thing that matters is
the totality of things, while the individual, _per se_, does not count
at all.  That is the conception which underlies the Socialism of a
writer like Mr. Wells, who is in nothing more emphatic than in
asserting that the individual as such has no value at all.  "Our
individualities," he says, "are but bubbles and clusters of foam upon
the great stream of the blood of the species."  "The race is the drama,
and we are the incidents."  "In so far as we are individuals . . . we
are accidental, disconnected, without significance."  And when we ask
for what we should strive and labour, if not for the good of individual
men and women, his answer is that we ought to work for the Species, for
the Race, for what he calls a great physical and mental being, to wit,

Now we believe that this philosophy, consistently embraced, is utterly
devoid of the dynamic which can generate any great social reform.  The
smallest and forlornest actual slum baby appeals to our sympathy
immeasurably more than a vast, dim aggregate of indistinguishable items
called the Race; for we have actually met the slum-baby, and we have
never met--what is more, we shall never meet--the Race.  This tendency
to treat the individual as negligible is as futile as it is inhuman; in
the long run it will be found that he who loveth not his brother whom
he hath seen, cannot love {68} the Race which he hath not seen.  No
matter by how many times we multiply nothing, the result is
still--nothing.  If the individuals do not count, neither can the
species which is made up of such individuals.  Or, if "the Race is the
drama, and we are the incidents," it must be observed that no great and
noble drama can be strung together out of trivial and unmeaning
incidents.  All the talk about Mankind as the greater being, "the great
and growing Being of the Species," "the eternally conscious Being of
all things," is only the old, thin, unsatisfying idolatry of
Positivism.  If we wish to be social reformers in earnest we must take
care of the individuals, and the race will take care of itself.

That the monistic denial of all individual significance should lead to
the denial of a future life is only what we should expect; for if man,
as such, does not _matter_, why should he _survive_?  On the other
hand, the more we care for the individual, refusing to regard him
merely as "an experiment of the species for the species," the more
irresistibly shall we be impelled to believe that this life is not all.
It is the inestimable achievement of Christianity, by its insistence on
the infinite value of the soul, to have given the strongest impetus and
support to belief in personal immortality.  That, however, is an aspect
of our subject which demands, and will subsequently come up for,
separate treatment.


What, for the present, we must yet once more point out, as we did in
the preceding chapter, is this--that wide as is the influence of a
non-Christian writer like Mr. Wells, the danger of such teaching is
intensified when it is given by those who profess Christianity.
Doubtless, Bousset is right when he points to the closer contact
between East and West as one of the causes of the growth in our midst
of a type of religion in which "the human ego is put on one side and
almost reduced to zero."  Doubtless, also, he is correct in saying "the
adherents of this kind of religion will be chiefly found in circles
where people do not regard religion seriously, where they desire and
accept religion as aesthetic enjoyment."  Nevertheless, the evil
attending this type of teaching is, to our thinking, great and serious,
designed to undermine selfhood and to set up a species of dry-rot at
the very centre.

Let us again show what we mean by quoting from an actual utterance:
"God," we read, "is supposed to be thinking more about us than about
anything else--a rather arrogant assumption when we come to think of
it, considering what specks of dust we are amid these myriads of stars
and suns whirling through space like motes in a ray of light--and the
great object of His solicitude is to get us individually to toe the
mark of Christ-likeness."  If this view be the true one, the writer
went on to ask, why do questions like unemployment, the Budget, {70}
the uprising of nationalism in Turkey, etc., bulk so largely in our
thought?  These topics, he says, have "little or no relation to the
question of saving the individual soul, as commonly understood."  How,
he demands, does the actual life of every day fit into "that view of
the scheme of things which bids us believe that the silent God above us
is principally anxious about just one thing, the moral recovery and
ingathering of these individual souls one by one"?  The answer is given
with characteristic confidence: "It does not fit into it at all; _if
God be as anxious about that as we are assured He is, He has a queer
way of showing it_."

Here we have a conception of man and his place in the sum of things
fundamentally at one with that of Mr. Wells, and as utterly
irreconcilable with that of Christianity.  Not only does the individual
not matter in himself; he does not even matter to God.  The idea of the
soul's infinite value to God is held up to derision, and so is the idea
of God's interest in individual character; man, the atom, must not
think that the Creator is specially anxious for his fate, and is bidden
to measure his insignificance against the vastness of the heavenly
bodies; and in conclusion we are pertly told that if God really cares
about the individual as such, "He has a queer way of showing it."  In
this view--the view of Monism--it is indeed true that "the individual
withers, and the world is more and more."


We say that the issue is plain; it lies between Monism and
Christianity; if the one is true, the other must be rejected.  On which
side shall we cast our verdict?  For a warning example we have only to
glance at the case of Buddhism, in which, the value of human
individuality having been steadily lowered, "the other main factor is
religion, belief in God, was likewise lost" (Bousset).  But, turning to
a more detailed examination of the statement just quoted, it is hardly
necessary to discuss the astounding suggestion that man must not take
himself too seriously by the side of the immensities of suns and stars.
Such a view merely betrays a spiritual perception miles below that of
the Psalmist, who saw man, to all appearance a negligible speck, yet in
reality made by the Almighty little lower than the angels, and crowned
with glory and honour.  Neither need we combat at length the strangely
superficial notion that such questions as unemployment, the Budget,
etc., have little or no relation to that of saving the individual soul,
as commonly understood.  If they have no relation to _that_ subject,
they are hardly worth considering; but the fact is that the regulation
of industry, the distribution of wealth--these and all other questions
derive their importance solely from the manner in which they affect
individual men, women and children, fitting or unfitting them for the
life that now is and that which is to come.  A good deal might be said
of {72} the temper which makes fun of the idea of God's "solicitude to
get us individually to toe the mark of Christ-likeness"; but we may
leave that unhappy phrase to be its own comment.

The attitude of Christianity to our question is perfectly clear.
Christianity, in teaching each frailest, poorest human unit to address
God as Father, affirms in unmistakeable accents the Eternal's personal
interest in and care for the individual soul, and by so doing ennobles
every human life that falls under the sway of the Gospel.  It is
Christianity's master-thought that to the Father from whom all
fatherhood is named each one of His children is personally dear, and
that His desire is for the salvation of each one.  To the cheap and
ugly sneer that God has a "queer way" of manifesting His concern for us
as individuals, the Christian consciousness has its own answer; how, in
any case, such a sneer could come from the same source from which we
previously quoted the statement that "nothing can happen to any of
God's children which is not in some way the sacrament of God's love to
us," we do not profess to understand.  We are not mere individual
organ-stops, each without use or significance apart from the rest,
waiting for our mutual dissonances to be swallowed up in some "music of
the whole," but members of a family, each with a place in the Parent's
heart and thought.  Finally, to the Christian there is one last, {73}
crowning proof of the soul's value for God, and God's yearning for the
soul; that proof is Calvary.  To the Christian there is one experience
which settles this problem fully and finally for him; it is the
experience which Paul embodied in the cry, "He loved me, and gave
Himself for me."

For Monism the individual is a mere surface ripple on an infinite
ocean, alike impermanent and impersonal; for Christianity the soul is a
child of the Father of all souls, loved with an everlasting love.
Between these two conceptions we have to choose, remembering that each
utterly excludes the other.  There is no third alternative.




While in our last three chapters we have been dealing with certain
theories which implicitly or explicitly deny the Divine Personality, and
while an impersonal God can be, as we have already seen, of no value for
religion, there is no mistaking the fact that this very
question--whether, _i.e._, it is possible and legitimate for us to think
of God as personal--constitutes one of the most typical of modern
"difficulties."  It is probably correct to say that this difficulty, like
others we have reviewed, dates practically from the collapse of Deism, a
creed which possessed a certain hard lucidity satisfying to many for the
very reason that it required no very profound insight for its
understanding.  That a Deity localised in a far-away heaven, seated on a
celestial throne and surrounded by an angelic court, should be a person,
like any other sovereign, presented no problem to the understanding; but
if God was not merely transcendent but also immanent--not merely
somewhere but in some indefinable manner everywhere--then to predicate
personality of {75} such a One seemed a very paradox.  In one of
Feuillet's novels there occurs a phrase which sums up in a few expressive
words a very common spiritual misadventure: the hero says, "_J'avais vu
disparaître parmi les nuages la tête de ce bon vieillard qu'on appelle
Dieu_"--"I had seen the head of that good old man called God disappear
amongst the clouds."  His naïve material conception of the Eternal had
dissolved--and dissolved into nothingness.  May we not surmise that nine
times out of ten this is precisely what has happened when we hear the
question asked, "But how _can_ God be personal?"

In by far the greater number of cases, that is to say, the problem arises
simply and solely from the questioner's failure to dissociate
_personality_ from _materiality_; a "person" suggests to him a tangible,
visible, ponderable form, with arms and legs and organs of sense--and
when he has reflected sufficiently to understand that such a description
cannot apply to God, he concludes that _therefore_ God cannot be
personal.  The next step is usually that, having seen this visibly
outlined Deity disappear _parmi les nuages_, he passes into absolute
unbelief; for somehow an impersonal "Power," while it may possibly
inspire awe, cannot move us to worship, cannot present to us a moral
imperative, cannot, above all, either claim our love or give us its
affection.  It is really the identical difficulty, stated a little {76}
more pretentiously, which the "rationalist" author of _The Churches and
Modern Thought_ presents to us by remarking that in all our experience
that which makes up personality is "connected with nerve structures," so
that we cannot attribute such a quality to "a Being who is described to
us as devoid of any nerve structure."  "I know of no answer," he quaintly
adds, "that could be called satisfactory from a theistic standpoint." [1]
It is evident that Mr. Vivian does not remember the famous passage in the
_Essay on Theism_ where John Stuart Mill explains that "the relation of
thought to a material brain is no metaphysical necessity, but simply a
constant co-existence within the limits of observation," and concludes
that although "experience furnishes us with no example of any series of
states of consciousness" without an accompanying brain, "it is as easy to
imagine such a series of states without as with this accompaniment." [2]
According to Mill--hardly a champion of orthodoxy--there is no reason in
the nature of things why "thoughts, emotions, volitions and even
sensations" should be necessarily dependent upon or connected with "nerve
structures "; so that Mr. Vivian's argument palpably fails.

But what about this popular notion which identifies personality with
materiality, and {77} therefore denies the former attribute to God?  One
would think that even the most circumscribed experience, or reflection on
such experience, must suffice to dispose of such a misapprehension; let
us use the most obvious of illustrations for showing where the error
lies.  We have only to imagine one of those everyday tragedies that make
a short newspaper paragraph--say, the case of a man passing a house in
process of erection, and being killed on the spot by a piece of falling
timber.  He is left as a material form; he is decidedly not left as a
person.  Something has disappeared in that fatal moment that no one had
ever seen or handled--his self-consciousness, his intelligence, his will,
his affections, his moral sense: _with_ these he was a person; _without_
them, he is a corpse.  If, then, it is these unseen, intangible
qualities, and not flesh and bones, muscle and "nerve structure," that
constitute _human_ personality, is it not rather childish to argue that,
unless God possesses a body of some sort, the _Divine_ Personality is a
contradiction in terms?  If we can validly affirm in the Deity qualities
corresponding to those which in human beings we call consciousness,
intelligence, etc., we shall obviously be compelled to assign personality
to Him; the question is, Have we sufficient grounds for making such an

But before we are allowed to answer that question, we have to meet
another preliminary {78} objection; for it seems that we are in conflict
with philosophy--or, to be more exact, with a certain philosophy which,
while no longer perhaps in the heyday of its influence with students,
still enjoys a good deal of popular vogue.  We are, of course, referring
to the Spencerian system, in which the word "Absolute" is used as a
synonym for what we should call the Deity; but, argues the Spencerian,
since "Absolute is that which exists out of all relation," [3] whereas
"even intelligence or consciousness itself is conceivable only as a
relation," it follows that "the Absolute cannot be thought of as
conscious."  But if God cannot even be thought of as conscious, how much
less can He be thought of as personal!

Such an inference would, indeed, be irresistible if only the premises on
which it rests were sound.  But is it legitimate, we ask, to identify God
with "the Absolute," or is not this merely a way of begging the question?
"Absolute is that which exists out of all relation," we were just told,
and such a genuine Absolute would be genuinely "unknowable," because its
very existence could not be so much as guessed at; but the Spencerian
Absolute is the most certain of certainties, described by Professor
Hudson as "the one Eternal Reality, the corner-stone of all our {79}
knowledge"--otherwise as "the Infinite and Eternal Energy from which all
things proceed."  But the corner-stone of all our knowledge can be such
only because, so far from being unknowable, it is intimately related to
all our experience--which is tantamount to saying that it is not absolute
at all; and again, if God be the Infinite and Eternal Energy from which
all things proceed, that Energy must be thought of as related to all
things--in other words, it is the very reverse of absolute.  And hence
the imaginary impossibility of thinking of the Deity as conscious and
intelligent vanishes at one stroke.  If God were really absolute, in the
sense of the definition quoted above, it would certainly be, as Professor
Hudson says, "from the standpoint of philosophical exactness" quite
inadmissible "to speak of the Divine Will, or a Personal Creator, or an
intelligent Governor of the universe"; but as we have seen that this
absoluteness is purely fictitious, it follows that we may legitimately
inquire whether consciousness, intelligence, will--and hence
personality--are predicable of God, without heeding a veto which rests on
imaginary foundations.

It is true Professor Hudson raises two further objections; these,
however, will not long detain us.  We are informed in the first place
that "the further progress of thought 'must force men hereafter to drop
the higher anthropomorphic characters given to the First {80} Cause, as
they have long since dropped the lower'"; but since our guide, a few
pages later, quotes with approval the dictum that "unless we cease to
think altogether, we _must_ think anthropomorphically," we may be
pardoned for declining to believe that "the further progress of thought
must force men hereafter" to "cease to think altogether."  Such a suicide
of thought would furnish an odd comment upon philosophic "progress."  We
shall, of course, continue to think anthropomorphically of God; our
thought will thus inevitably fall short of the Reality, but it will be
truer than if we did not think of Him at all.  Again, Divine Personality
is declared to be a self-contradiction because

"Personality implies limitation, or it means nothing at all.  To talk of
an Infinite Person, therefore, is to talk of something that is at once
infinite and finite, unconditioned and conditioned, unlimited and
limited--an impossibility."

To this plea there are, however, two answers.  The first may be made in
the unprejudiced words of Mr. Vivian, who observes,[4]

"We must not forget that in philosophy and theology the word 'person'
simply implies 'a nature endowed with consciousness,' and does not
involve limits."

But secondly, without committing ourselves to Professor Hudson's dictum
that personality implies limitation, we have to point out that we are not
concerned to defend any inference that might be drawn from the infinity,
in the sense {81} of the "allness" of God.  We do not deny, but on the
contrary affirm, that in the act of creation God imposes limitations upon
Himself; so that this last obstacle also is disposed of.

So far, then, we have dealt with the _a priori_ arguments against the
Personality of God, and have seen why none of these--neither that from
His non-materiality, nor from His alleged absoluteness or
infinity--raises any real bar to His being thought of as personal.  We
are now in a position to inquire positively whether there is sufficient
ground for regarding Him as conscious, intelligent and purposive; if He
possesses these qualities, we repeat that He certainly possesses that of

The method by which we must proceed is obvious, and will at once occur to
the reader who recalls our opening chapter; the question resolves itself
simply into this--Are the phenomena of nature such as to indicate
intelligence and directivity in their Cause?  We submit that
incontrovertible proof of the _absence_ of such directive intelligence
would be furnished, if the world were, as a matter of fact, chaotic--if
it disclosed neither regularity nor continuity--if, in a word, we could
never be sure what would happen next.  True, in such a state of things
life itself could not be sustained, for life is only possible in a world
of orderly sequences and uniform laws; but seeing that as a matter of
fact such orderly sequences and uniform laws meet us everywhere {82} in
nature, is not the inference fairly inevitable?  Let us be quite clear on
one point: there are two ways, and two only, in which any phenomenon can
be accounted for--design or chance; what is not purposed must be
accidental.  Does, then, nature impress us as the outcome of chance?  If
we saw a faultlessly executed mathematical diagram illustrating a
proposition in Euclid, should we really be satisfied with the statement
that it represented the random pencil-strokes made by a blindfolded child
ignorant of geometry?  On the other hand, if a fretful baby is allowed to
divert himself by hammering the piano keys, is the result ever remotely
akin to a tune?  We know perfectly well that we never get harmony, order,
beauty, rationality by accident; and there is only one other
alternative--design, purpose, guidance.  Professor Fiske quotes a quaint
observation of Kepler's illustrating this very point, which we may be
allowed to reproduce:--

Yesterday, when weary with writing and my mind quite dusty with
considering these atoms, I was called to supper, and a salad was set
before me.  "It seems then," said I aloud, "that if pewter dishes, leaves
of lettuce, grains of salt, drops of oil and vinegar, and slices of eggs,
had been floating about in the air from all eternity, it might at last
happen by chance that there would come a salad."  "Yes," says my wife,
"but not so nice and well-dressed as mine is!"

Mrs. Kepler's shrewd, homely remark gives its last touch of absurdity to
the suggestion {83} that a world which we see to be pervaded by unfailing
law has come together by sheer, incalculable accident.  Not so much as a
salad of respectable calibre could be accounted for upon such a theory;
how much less credible is it that the universe began with a cosmic dance
of unconscious atoms whirled along by unconscious forces, and happening
so to combine as to produce order and sequence, life and consciousness,
will and affection!

But not only does the universe exhibit a sublime order which is the very
contrary of what we can associate with the blind workings of chance; not
only do the circling immensities of the stars and the microscopic
perfections of the snow-crystals alike point to a shaping and directing
Mind and Will: what nature reveals--what is implied in the very term
evolution--is not merely order but progress.  As Fiske has it, "Whatever
else may be true, the conviction is brought home to us that in all this
endless multifariousness there is one single principle at work, that _all
is tending towards an end that was involved in the very beginning_."  In
other words, the supreme certainty brought home to us by the researches
of modern science is that all creation is thrilled through by an
all-encompassing Purpose.  We really ask for no more than such an
admission; that, in short, is our case.  We can clinch the whole argument
with one quiet sentence of Mr. Chesterton's: "Where there is a purpose,
{84} there is a person." If Mr. Spencer's "Infinite and Eternal Energy,
from which all things proceed" is purposive, that is equivalent to saying
that God is what we mean by personal.

But ought we not to have shown first of all that He is conscious?  No,
for the greater includes the less, and purpose is unthinkable apart from
consciousness.  In saying this we are aware that a philosopher like
Eduard von Hartmann speaks of "the wisdom of the Unconscious," of "the
mechanical devices which It employs," of "the direction of the goal
intended by the Unconscious," etc., etc.; but this, we are bound to say,
is to empty words of their meaning.  To intend, to direct anything
requires at least that the one so doing should be conscious of what it is
he is doing.  And consciousness, intelligence, directivity are
constituents never found apart from personality.  But, we are told, "the
choice lies, not between personality and something lower, but between
personality and something inconceivably higher." [5]  We reply that we
have already made the acquaintance of this idea of a "super-personal"
Deity, and found that for all practical--_i.e._, religious--purposes the
super-personal is simply the impersonal under another name.[6]  And when
we remember that the "inconceivably higher than personal" ultimate
Reality of the agnostic possesses neither {85} consciousness, nor will,
nor intelligence, we simply fail to see how a Power lacking these
attributes could be even personal, to say nothing of its being _more_
than personal.  Be this, however, as it may, the decisive fact remains
that we are persons, and therefore personality is the highest category
under which we can think; and if we, the children of the Eternal, are
endowed with personality, it is sufficient for us to know that a cause
must be at least adequate to produce the effects that have flowed from
it.  Nothing can be evolved but what was first involved.  On this ground
alone, whatever else God may be, He is at least personal; and that is all
we were anxious to establish.

That is all--but it is also all-important; for it cannot be too
emphatically insisted that without a personal God religion simply ceases
to be.  It is a strange and delusive fancy on Professor Hudson's part,
and that of a good many people, that "the religious emotions" will
survive the de-ethicising, depersonalising of the Deity, and that men
will remain "deeply religious" even when it is recognised that the "Great
Enigma," the "eternal and inscrutable energy," the "ultimate Reality"
cannot be spoken of as "a Personal Creator, or an intelligent Governor of
the universe."  For our own part, we find it difficult to believe that
such a forecast could have been framed by anyone possessing a first-hand
knowledge of what "the religious {86} emotions" are; we say with the
utmost confidence that no such emotions can be felt towards a Power which
"cannot be thought of as conscious," let alone as benevolent or
personally interested in us.  We well know that we can be nothing to such
a Power--nor can It be anything to us; for a God who does not care, does
not count.  We cannot commune with this chill and awesome Unknown; we can
only pray to One who hears; we can only love One who has first loved us.
In the last analysis, an "impersonal Deity" such as one hears
occasionally spoken of, is a mere contradiction in terms, the coinage of
confused and inaccurate thought.  Where the meaning of personality is so
much as understood, doubt as to the Divine Personality vanishes; and
least of all will that truth be doubted by those who see the supreme
revelation of God in Jesus Christ.  He, the Incarnate Son, has shown us,
not a Power but a Person--the Person of the Father--and, to-day as of
old, "it sufficeth us."

[1] _The Churches and Modern Thought_, by Philip Vivian, p. 231.

[2] _Three Essays on Religion_, R.P.A. reprint, p. 85.

[3] This and subsequent quotations are taken from pp. 108-119 of Prof.
Hudson's _Introduction to the Philosophy of Herbert Spencer_.

[4] Op. cit., p. 231.

[5] Hudson, _op. cit._, p. 116.

[6] _Supra_, p. 46.




That the renewed emphasis upon the Divine immanence must have for one
of its effects that of raising the problem of evil afresh, and in a
particularly acute form, will be obvious to anyone who has thought out
for himself the implications of that doctrine.  Dark and pressing
enough before, this particular problem has, in appearance at least,
been both complicated and accentuated by the displacement of Deism.
If, as we have argued on a previous occasion, there is a certain causal
connection between Deism and a somewhat sombre outlook upon the world,
on the other hand the existence of evil seemed to fit in better with a
view of God which represented Him as outside the universe than with one
which insists upon His indwelling in creation.  If the earth was the
scene and playground of undivine agencies which work their will while
the Divine control is withdrawn, then many things became comparatively
easy of comprehension; indeed, there was a certain consolation in the
thought that--

  All the things that had been so wrong
  After all would not last for long,

{88} but that ultimately God would resume the supreme control He had
temporarily abandoned, while the Power of darkness would be bound and
cast into the abyss.  If, however, we must think of Him as omnipresent
and for that reason directly and uninterruptedly cognisant of all, then
the plain man can only ask himself with a deepening wonder why an
all-good and unimaginably powerful Being should permit evils of every
description to lay waste His own creation.  "No one can enter into the
house of the strong, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the
strong"; and since a direct overpowering of God by Satan is out of the
question, is not the assumption to which we are driven this--that the
Strong One is absent while His goods are being spoiled, and that it is
this very absence of which the spoiler has taken advantage?  Somehow,
we feel, if He were really present--as present as the doctrine of
immanence would have us believe--He would actively assert Himself
against wrongs and abuses; and when we think of the blood and tears
that are shed the world over as the result of disordered desire,
industrial greed and political misrule, we find it difficult not to
echo the words of psalmist and prophet, "Why standest Thou afar off, O
Lord?  Why hidest Thou Thyself in times of trouble?"  "Verily Thou art
a God that hidest Thyself."

In saying this we do not suggest that such an attempt to explain the
phenomena of evil {89} by God's supposed absence from the world is
defensible; we do say that the belief in His all-encompassing nearness
makes those phenomena even more difficult of explanation than they were
before.  The devout deist could always comfort himself with the thought
that, however mysterious God's standing afar off might be, by and by,
when He drew nigh again, He would deal out even-handed justice to all;
but such comfort is not open to those who explicitly deny God's
remoteness, but on the contrary assert that He is the Presence from
which there is no escaping.  And the fact of evil, physical and moral,
is precisely the chief and most fruitful source of religious
scepticism; it is not the abstract question whether there is a God, but
the practical and insistent problem whether the Divine goodness can be
reconciled with the facts of life and experience, that is agitating
men's minds, and sways their decision for or against religion.

Everyone knows that this is what Mr. Mallock some time ago called "the
crux of Theism"; that "crux," to use his own language, is not "the
existence of intelligent purpose in the universe," which may be freely
conceded, but whether the processes of nature are or are not consistent
with "a God possessing the character which it is the essence of Theism
to attribute to Him, and which alone could render Him an object of
religion, or even of interest, to mankind."  Sometimes in accents of
wistful {90} wonder, sometimes in tones of revolt and defiant unbelief,
the question is asked:--Why does God allow dire calamity, painful
disease, earthquakes and shipwrecks, and accidents of the mine?  Why
does He permit war, or vivisection, or poverty, or vice--in fact any of
"the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to"?
We should stop these things if we could; why does not He?  One is
reminded of Mr. William Watson's passionate arraignment of the Powers
of Europe at the time of the Armenian massacres:--

  Yea, if ye could not, though ye would, lift hand--
  Ye halting leaders--to abridge Hell's reign. . .
  If such your plight, most hapless ye of men!
  _But if ye could and would not_, oh, what plea,
  Think ye, shall stead you at your trial, when
  The thundercloud of witnesses shall loom
  At the Assizes of Eternity?

The application of these burning lines is painfully obvious.  It would
be a positive relief were it thinkable that the Eternal would, but
cannot, stem

          the flood that rolls
  Hoarser with anguish as the ages roll;

or if one might, with a modern novelist, compare the case to that of "a
practitioner doing his best for a wilful patient, with poor appliances
and indifferent nursing."  _But if He could and will not--oh, what

What frankly appals men and freezes the worshipful instinct in their
hearts is the {91} apparent Divine indifference, the silence of God, in
the presence of so much human wretchedness.  If one could only feel
that He cared for and sympathised with His suffering creatures, it
would be a help, like the sympathetic pressure of the hand from a
friend, which does not lessen the actual calamity that may have
befallen us, but makes it easier to bear; but an _indifferent_ God is
equivalent to no God at all--or, as we have previously expressed it, a
God who does not care, does not count.  The mere sense that He was
sorry for us would lighten the stroke of fate which He had not been
able to avert; but if the truth is that He might have averted it by the
simple exercise of His will, but refused to do so, coldly looking on at
our grief--not from afar, but close by--then we can only say that no
God at all were better than that.  It seems, then, as though, in order
to escape from palpable inconsistency between theory and fact, we
should have to make a surrender either of His immanence, or His
omnipotence, or His benevolence, or the reality of evil.

To surrender the Divine immanence will not really solve our problem.
Near or far, closer to us than breathing or dwelling beyond the
furthest star, God is still the Author of our being, the Framer of the
world and all that therein is, the Cause without which there would have
been no effects.  If, after creating the world, He withdrew from it to
an inconceivable {92} distance, it is none the less His handiwork; if
it is in and through His absence that the cosmic mechanism has got out
of gear, it is yet He who willed to be so absent, well knowing what
results would supervene; if a power other than He and hostile to Him
has usurped the place and title of Prince of this world, such
usurpation would have been impossible but for His acquiescence, and
personified Evil, playing with human happiness, would still be His
licensed agent.  Evidently, the solution of which we are in search does
not lie along that way.

We turn, therefore, to the second possible explanation, strongly put
forward by Mill, according to whom natural theology points to God as "a
Being of great but limited power."

Those who have been strengthened in goodness by relying on the
sympathising support of a powerful and good Governor of the world (he
says) have, I am satisfied, never really believed that Governor to be,
in the strict sense of the term, omnipotent.  They have always saved
His goodness at the expense of His power.  They have believed . . .
that the world is inevitably imperfect, contrary to His intention.[1]

To the question, "Of what nature is the limitation of His power?" he
returns the tentative answer that it

probably results either from the qualities of the material--the
substances and forces of which the universe is composed not admitting
of any arrangements by which His purposes could be more completely
fulfilled; or else, the purposes might have been more fully attained,
but the Creator did not know how to do it; creative {93} skill,
wonderful as it is, was not sufficiently perfect to accomplish His
purposes more thoroughly.[2]

Such an answer, we need scarcely say, could only have been given by a
thinker who had grown up in the intellectual atmosphere of Deism; the
Deity which he contemplates is One who works upon the world purely _ab
extra_, who cannot be spoken of as the Creator, except by courtesy; in
reality He merely shapes and adapts materials over which He has only an
incomplete control, and which, therefore, so far from having been
called into being by Him, must be thought of as existing independently
of Him.  Had He really _created_ the raw material from which He was to
frame the universe, He would of course have created some medium
perfectly plastic to His hand and adapted to His purposes; but if He
merely operates on matter from without, finding it stubborn and
unamenable, He is only a secondary Deity or Demiurge, and we have still
to answer the question, What is that real First Cause, the _Urgott_ who
created the _Urstoff_, matter in its most elementary form, and endowed
it with qualities some of which were destined to serve, while others
resisted and frustrated, the sub-Divinity's intentions?

Clearly, this notion also will not do; but while we may reject Mill's
theory as to the _nature_ of the limitations of Divine power, there
{94} is distinct force in his shrewd contention that religious people
generally--professions to the contrary notwithstanding--have never
really believed God to be, in the strict sense of the term, omnipotent.
This contention we believe, indeed, to be almost self-evidently true;
for on the contrary supposition nothing can happen contrary to God's
will--all things and beings would necessarily be carrying out that
will, and sin, _e.g._, would become an utterly meaningless term.  But
if omnipotence is limited--which sounds, we admit, a contradiction in
terms--we ask once more, In what way and by whom?  To that question we
have no other reply than the one given in our first chapter, _viz._,
that when we predicate limitation of the Deity, we must mean
self-limitation.  In creating the universe, we said, God made a
distinction between His creation and Himself, and to that extent
limited His Being--for the universe is not identical with God; we now
add that in endowing man with an existence related to, but distinct
from, His own, He limited not only His infinite Being, but also His
infinite Power, delegating some portion thereof to us--for man's will
is not identical with God's will, but capable of resisting, though also
capable of co-operating with it.  Without such individual initiative,
without such an individual faculty of choosing between alternatives of
action, man could never have been a moral agent; but moral liberty to
choose and act aright or amiss implies also {95} moral responsibility
for such choice on the part of the chooser.

This neglected truth of God's self-limitation of His power needs to be
far more explicitly avowed than has generally been the case.  Only so
shall we get clear of the confusion and uncertainty with which the
subject of human freedom is so largely surrounded; only so shall we be
enabled to place the burden of responsibility for sin, the cause of so
immense a proportion of the world's suffering, upon the right
shoulders--_i.e._, man's, not God's.  It is urgently necessary to
disperse the common fallacy according to which God, being the Author of
all, is the causative Agent answerable for all the happenings in His
universe, for all human pain and all human sin.  Where freedom is,
_there_ is responsibility.  For let us bring the matter down from the
abstract to the concrete: if a dreadful railway accident is caused
through the momentary mental lapse of a signalman who has been
overtaxed by excessive working hours, how is the responsibility God's?
It obviously belongs to those who imposed a task involving the safety
of human lives on a man who was not in a fit condition to fulfil such a
duty.  If an explosion in a coal-mine, accompanied by terrible loss of
life, is caused through some miner striking a match, or carrying a
naked light, in defiance of well-known regulations of safety, how is
God responsible?  He has endowed us with intelligence whereby to {96}
discover His laws, and with freedom to obey or disobey them: the use or
misuse of that freedom rests with ourselves.

But now it may be asked--Was it the act of a benevolent Deity to
entrust this terribly two-edged weapon of liberty to our unskilful
hands, in which it was bound to work so vast an amount of injury?  And
this opens up the larger and more general question, Must we, in view of
the facts of life, surrender the idea of the Divine benevolence?  It is
quite true that the evidence of purpose discernible in the whole
structure of the universe proclaims the Deity to be personal; but, as
Mr. Mallock says, "the theistic doctrine of God is not a doctrine that
the supreme mind acts with purpose, but a doctrine that it acts with
purpose of a highly specialised kind"--_viz._, _benevolent_ purpose.

Let us once more state the problem in the partial but very pertinent
form in which it arises in connection with man's faculty of freedom.
To bestow upon His creatures a gift which He must have known they would
use in such a manner as to work infinite harm to themselves and to each
other, seems _prima facie_ no more compatible with kindly intentions
than it would be to leave children to play with sharp tools, loaded
firearms and deadly poisons; since disaster was bound to ensue from
such a course, does not responsibility for the disaster rest with the
one who deliberately provided the {97} elements for it?  But such a
comparison, while superficially plausible, upon reflection is seen to
be beside the mark.  We really cannot plead such inexperience of right
and wrong, such ignorance of moral safety and moral danger, as would
furnish a true parallel between playing with temptation and playing
with cyanide of potassium.  In setting before us "life and good, and
death and evil," God has as distinctly placed within our hearts the
moral intuition which, says, "Therefore choose life."  But why, the
questioner proceeds, have made sin even possible?  Because, we answer,
not to have done so would have made morality impossible.  It cannot be
too often, or too plainly, pointed out that just as the only
alternative to purpose is chance, so the only alternative to liberty is
necessity.  That is to say, God could no doubt have made us automata
instead of free agents; but even He could not have made us free to
_choose_ the right, yet not free to choose its contrary.  Choice that
is not willed is not choice at all; goodness by compulsion is not
goodness, but merely correctitude--the behaviour of a skilfully-devised
mechanism, but possessing no _moral_ quality whatever.  We are not at
present concerned with the view of those who maintain that men are _de
facto_ no more than such "cunning casts in clay" a contention which
will occupy us at a later stage; we merely state the commonplace that
in making us free God Himself could not also {98} make us impeccable,
insusceptible to temptation, immune against the possibility of sin.

The real question, then, shapes itself as follows: Can we discern the
nature of the purpose which expresses itself in the bestowal of this
gift of freedom?  Stated in that form, we see that the question has
already been answered by implication; for if there could be no morality
without liberty, it is fair to make the inference that the very object
of God in allowing us to choose between alternatives of conduct was to
make morality so much as possible.  Was that a good and beneficent
object?  We submit that even those who impeach the Deity for opening
the door to sin would on second thoughts confess that morally free--and
therefore peccable--beings stand on a higher level than marionettes,
however faultlessly contrived to perform certain evolutions.  The truth
of the matter is set forth with poetic insight in Andersen's story of
the Nightingale--the immeasurable difference between the artificial
bird and the real songster, whose melodious raptures somehow touched a
chord in the listener which all the nicely-calculated trills and
cadences of the ingenious mechanical toy failed to set in motion.  In
like manner we repeat that the power to determine his own course raises
man to a plane incomparably higher than he could have occupied as an
automaton.  The same faculty of free choice which in its abuse makes
the sinner, in its right {99} exercise furnishes forth the saint.  All
that we mean by moral progress, by "the steady gain of man," his rise
to more exalted ideals, his conquest of baser appetites--all that makes
the history of the race a thrilling and uplifting drama--is bound up
with his possession of liberty; it is this supreme gift which makes him
"a little lower than the angels," and "crowns him with glory and
honour."  Alone of all earthly beings, man is not only an effect but a
cause; his freedom--not unlimited but quite real within its not
inelastic confines--is the noblest of all his faculties, even though
for that very reason it is capable of being most ignobly perverted.
What its bestowal tells us is that God does not call us into servitude,
but to that service which is perfect freedom; He might have made us His
playthings, as Plato suggested,[3] but by endowing us with the power to
choose for ourselves He has made us His potential fellow-workers.  May
we not ask--Who, after all, would prefer the safety of automatism to
the glory of this Divine adventure?

In all this we are not shutting our eyes to what is involved in the
misuse of liberty--the dread nature of wilful sin and its ghastly
harvest of wrecked and ruined lives; we do not say that the price of
freedom is not a heavy {100} one, nor do we pretend that the subject is
free from painful mystery.  It could not be otherwise; that we, with
our limited vision and circumscribed understanding, should be able to
solve that mystery with any completeness, is not even to be imagined.
Nevertheless, we may claim that we have at least obtained a glimpse of
the purpose of God in conferring upon the race this fateful power; for
this and no other was the appointed means by which man was to ascend to
his true place as a moral and spiritual being.  If we can admit that
purpose to be in harmony with the Divine benevolence, we may the more
hopefully turn to other aspects of our problem.

[1] _Three Essays on Religion_, p. 22.

[2] _Ibid_, p. 79.

[3] _The Laws_, vii, 803: [Greek] "Theou ti paignion memechanmenon."
Compare also Browning's unhappy phrase, "God, whose puppets, best and
worst, are we."



EVIL _versus_ DIVINE GOODNESS (_Continued_)

There is probably no more serious aspect of the popular philosophy
which declares so confidently, "There is no will that is not God's
will," than that, while professing to be a Gospel of sweetness and
light, it in reality plunges us into the very depths of pessimism by
making God Himself "ultimately responsible for all the evil and
suffering in the world."  From such a position, from such premises as
these, there is only one step to such conclusions as have been actually

It is His world, remember; He made it, and He is omnipotent. . .  If
creation does not please the Creator, why did He not make it better?
If it is wayward and intractable, it can be no more than He expected,
or ought to have expected.  Wherein consists His right to punish us for
our transgressions?  Suppose we challenge it; what will He say in

We may shrink with distaste from such wild and whirling words; but if
it be true that "there is no will that is not God's will"--if whatever
takes place in the universe expresses that almighty will--they are as
rational in their very vehemence as Omar's lines are rational in their


  O Thou, who didst with pitfall and with gin
  Beset the Road I was to wander in,
    Thou wilt not with Predestin'd Evil round
  Enmesh, and then impute my Fall to Sin!

  O Thou, who man of baser Earth didst make,
  And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake:
    For all the Sin wherewith the Face of Man
  Is blacken'd--Man's forgiveness give--and take!

It is only when we clearly recognise that man is other than a mere
phase or mode of the one Eternal Being; that he has been endowed with
individual existence and individual will, and therefore with individual
responsibility--and that for the express purpose of realising his
highest potentialities: it is only when we accept such a reading of the
facts as this that we escape from that worst of nightmares which
reaches its climax in hurling its foolish defiance at the Most High,
challenging His right to punish the instruments of His own will, those
"helpless pieces of the game He plays," impotent items in that unending

  Which for the pastime of Eternity
  He doth Himself contrive, enact, behold.

But if it is true that God bestowed freedom upon us because only as
free agents could we learn to love and do the right for its own sake;
if it is true that the struggle which we have to wage against our lower
impulses has the wholly benevolent object of enabling us to achieve the
glory of a perfected character, it has also to be borne in mind that
under no {103} circumstances can character be conceived otherwise than
as the "result" of growth.  That is to say, God Himself could not call
moral perfection into being ready-made, by a mere _fiat_, and that for
the same reason which precludes omnipotence itself from making two
straight lines to enclose a space, _i.e._, because the idea involves a
self-contradiction.  So true is this that we read even of our Saviour
that "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which
He suffered," and in this manner was "made perfect."  Character in its
very definition is the result of many deliberate exercises of a free
will; and if the evolution of character was an object dearer to God
than the highest mechanical or animal perfection, that object could
have been secured in no other way than by this particular endowment.

And here we shall also find the reply to the very natural inquiry why
God does not, as He might, intervene or frustrate the evil designs of
wrong-doers.  Why does a good God allow His intentions to be set at
defiance by those whom the prophet described as drawing iniquity with
cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart rope?  It would not
matter so much, we sometimes bitterly reflect, if the sinner injured
only himself by his wickedness; but how often are the innocent made to
suffer by the devices of the unscrupulous and selfish!  Why, we repeat,
this strange non-intervention of the Most High on behalf of His own
cause?  {104} On this it must be remarked in the first place that those
who accept God's transcendence will be careful not to rule out _a
priori_ the possibility of such Divine action as, regarded from our
point of view, would have to be described as intervention; the question
whether such action has ever taken place, is a question of fact, and
the view that at particular junctures God has thus actively
"intervened" is at any rate capable of being strongly argued.  But
admitting, as we think we must, that ordinary life does not show any
instances of such supernatural interposition--that a reckless financier
is allowed to enrich himself by cornering the wheat supply and sending
up the price of the people's bread; that a band of reactionaries may
arrest the course of reform and plunge a country back into darkness;
that a beneficent act of the legislature may be defeated by greedy
cunning--must we despair of solving the general problem which such
cases suggest?

We think, on the contrary, that the explanation may be legitimately
sought in what we conceive to have been the Divine intention in making
man free; that intention, the making of character, would obviously
suffer defeat by God throwing His weight--if we may use such a
phrase--into this scale as against that, furthering here and checking
there, for character, as we just said, can only result from the free
exercise and interplay of will with will.  We may well imagine God's
mode of action to {105} resemble that of a human parent who entrusts a
growing child with a growing measure of liberty and responsibility,
well knowing that in the use of it he will have many a slip and
stumble, and occasionally hurt himself; such a parent will carefully
refrain from interference, preferring that the child should learn his
own lessons from his own mistakes, well knowing that we profit only by
the experience for which we ourselves have paid.  No one will, of
course, pretend that such a reconciliation of the facts of sin with the
axiom or intuition of Divine all-goodness is other than incomplete; we
merely urge that, having regard to the magnitude and the complexity of
the subject it could not be otherwise.  A theory, without accounting
for all the facts, may be true so far as it goes, correctly indicating
the way which, if we could pursue it further, would lead us into more
and fuller truth.  No doubt, when that which is perfect is come, that
which is in part will be done away; but pending the advent of a
complete explanation, a partial one is not without all value.

Indeed, the very inadequacy of our instruments, resulting in that
incompleteness of which we just spoke, should once more suggest a
reflection which, while in no wise original or startling, is specially
relevant to the subject under discussion: for if God's knowledge
necessarily and immeasurably transcends ours, if He knows _more_ than
we, does it not follow {106} with equal certainty that He knows
_better_?  Granted that we do not understand how this or that
dispensation of Providence fits in with the general belief in His
perfect goodness, our failure to understand no more disproves that
goodness than the similar failure of a child to comprehend why such and
such irksome tasks are imposed upon him by his parent, disproves the
wisdom and goodness which prompt the parent's act.  The child _cannot_
understand; but where the relations are at all normal he acquiesces,
being on general grounds convinced that the parental commands aim at
his welfare, and that his parents, after all, know better than he.  Is
the application so far to seek?

In the second place--turning now from the subject of sin to that of
evil generally--it may be worth while to remind ourselves of a fact
which seems to be forgotten by some of the impetuous arraigners of the
Deity, _viz._, that, after all, the problem is not a new one, which
they have suddenly discovered by dint of superior sagacity.  What we
mean is this: the problem of evil as such is of anything but an
abstruse or remote nature, nor one requiring unusual philosophical
penetration to bring to light; on the contrary, pain and sorrow,
privation, adversity, death--these are experiences that have come
within the cognisance of all.  If, then, the facts are neither so
remote nor so inconsiderable that men could have simply {107} forgotten
to take them into account in framing their estimates of the Divine
character, how is it, we ask, that they have arrived at and clung to
the belief in the benevolence of God at all?  If the proof to the
contrary was so overpowering, why, as a matter of fact, has it _not_
overpowered them?  Why should an unknown Hebrew singer have given
expression to this extraordinary sentiment, "Though He slay me, yet
will I trust in Him"--and why has that sentiment been re-echoed by
millions of men and women acquainted with grief and affliction?  The
early Christians did not exactly live lives of luxury or even security,
sheltered from contact with tragedy and horror; yet the keynote of
primitive Christianity is the note of joy, while the background of
early Christian experience is a radiant conviction of the Divine
benevolence.  And when we remember that the same holds true of so many
eminently spiritual souls in all ages, who have combined a keen
sensitiveness to evil and suffering of every kind with an unshakeable
trust in the lovingkindness of God, we shall scarcely accuse all this
cloud of witnesses of having simply drugged themselves and refused to
accept the evidence of their own senses.  If men and women suffering
from anything rather than moral blindness or moral anaesthesia could,
and can, nevertheless believe with all their hearts in the Divine
Fatherhood, is not such a recurring circumstance significant in itself?
{108} Evidently, granting all the facts, more than one reading of the
facts is possible; not cloistered mystics, or anchorites withdrawn from
the world, but heroes engaged in fighting its ills, have steadfastly
proclaimed that God is good; is it an altogether unreasonable
hypothesis that their faith, if it outsoars ours, may be the result of
a deeper insight?

And this, in turn, suggests another thought, simple enough in itself,
yet not always borne in mind in connection with this particular
theme--_viz._, that we are never dealing with facts _per se_, but with
facts _plus_ our interpretation of them, which may be right or wrong,
but which, right or wrong, helps to decide in a very large measure what
the facts themselves shall mean to us.  Our attitude towards the events
which befall us makes all the difference.  If men have been ruined by
success, it is as true that men have been made by failure.  If men have
deteriorated through ease and plenty, men have been stimulated to
effort through hardship and poverty.  In a word, if there is much in
the burden, there is as much in the shouldering.  But for Dante's
consecration of sorrow, the world would have lost the _Commedia
Divina_.  But for a painful and permanently disabling accident, the
English Labour Movement would not have had one of its principal leaders
in Mr. Philip Snowden.  And as for the influence of outward events and
environment generally, Mr. Chesterton may exaggerate in {109}
suggesting that everything good has been snatched from some
catastrophe, but he is certainly right when he says that "the most
dangerous environment of all is the commodious environment."  On the
other hand, of an environment the reverse of commodious, it has been

Logic would seem to say, "If God brings great pain on a man, it must
make the man revolt against God."  But observation of facts compels us
to say, "No, on the contrary, nothing exercises so extraordinary an
influence in making men love God as the suffering of great pain at His
hands."  Scientific thinking deals with facts as they are, not with _a
priori_ notions of what we should expect.  And in this matter, the fact
as it is, is that goodness is evolved from pain more richly than from
any other source.[1]

We may think such a statement too absolute, and point to cases where
the effect of physical suffering has been altogether different; but if
it is true that in certain well-authenticated and not merely
exceptional instances such visitations have resulted in strengthened
faith and heightened goodness, our main contention is proved, namely,
that the attitude of the individual himself towards the events of his
life has much to do with determining what those events are to mean to
him.  Instead of "Was the gift good?" we should more often ask, "Was
the recipient wise?"  Pain is pain, and disaster is disaster; but the
spirit in which we meet them matters immensely.


But now we are confronted with a more fundamental question: Could not
God have obviated the phenomenon of pain altogether?  Could He not have
made us incapable of feeling any but pleasant sensations?  Mill, who in
his essay on _Nature_ devotes some--for him--almost vehement pages to
this subject, reaches the conclusion that "the only admissible moral
theory of Creation is that the Principle of Good _cannot_ at once and
altogether subdue the powers of evil" [2]; and in dealing with the same
topic in the essay on _Theism_, while admitting that "appearances do
not indicate that contrivance was brought into play purposely to
produce pain," he holds to the view that its very existence shows the
power of God to be limited _ab extra_, by the material conditions under
which He works:--

The author of the machinery is no doubt accountable for having made it
susceptible to pain; but this may have been a necessary condition of
its susceptibility to pleasure; a supposition which avails nothing on
the theory of an omnipotent Creator, but is an extremely probable one
in the case of a Contriver working under the limitation of inexorable
laws and indestructible properties of matter.[3]

Such a view of the case, as we have already said in our previous
chapter, is purely deistic; but we must now proceed to point out, with
great respect for so great an intellect as Mill's, that the supposition
which, he says, "avails nothing {111} on the theory of an omnipotent
Creator"--_viz._, that susceptibility to pleasure involves
susceptibility to pain--seems to us to fit and cover the facts
precisely; for a capacity for pain and a capacity for pleasure are not
two different things which could conceivably exist apart from each
other, but are only different manifestations of one and the same
capacity, _viz._, for experiencing sensations of any kind whatsoever.
We could no more be capable of feeling pleasure, while _in_capable of
feeling pain, than we could be sensitive to musical harmonies, while
_in_sensible to musical discords; besides which, monotony of sensation
annihilates sensation.  On this point we may invoke against the
pre-evolutionist Mill a modern scientific authority like Professor
Fiske, who expresses himself to the effect that "without the element of
antagonism there could be no consciousness, and therefore no world."
"It is not a superficial but a fundamental truth," he observes, "that
if there were no colour but red, it would be exactly the same thing as
if there were no colour at all. . .  If our ears were to be filled with
one monotonous roar of Niagara, unbroken by alien sounds, the effect
upon consciousness would be absolute silence.  If our palates had never
come in contact with any tasteful thing save sugar, we should know no
more of sweetness than of bitterness.  If we had never felt physical
pain, we could not recognise physical pleasure.  For {112} want of the
contrasted background, its pleasurableness would cease to exist. . .
We are thus brought to a striking conclusion, the essential soundness
of which cannot be gainsaid.  _In a happy world there must be sorrow
and pain._" [4]  And this necessity, we would add, does not follow from
God's failure to overcome any "inexorable laws and indestructible
properties _of matter_," but is implied in the inexorable laws _of
thought_--in that eternal right reason which makes it impossible for
Deity to do what is self-contradictory or absurd.

But if the necessity of pain be thus admitted--a most important
admission--we may now take a step further ahead.  Even Mill, as we just
saw, expressly disclaimed the notion of attributing physical evil to
malign intention on the Creator's part; what separates us from Mill is
that in our view the laws of nature, in inflicting pain, do not act
independently of God, but are His laws.  Do those, it may be asked, who
allege His "indifference" in not interfering with the operation of the
forces of nature when they injure us, frame a very clear notion of the
way in which they think that God should, or might, manifest His
"interest"?  On reflection it will be found that what they ask for--the
only possible alternative to an unbroken natural order--is such
constant miraculous interposition as would make that order
non-existent.  But assuming that there {113} were no regular sequence
or uniformity to speak of--if we never knew whether the course of
nature might not be interrupted at any moment on somebody's
behalf--should we really be so much better off?  Would humanity be
happier if chaos was substituted for order?  Without seeking to
mitigate the suffering entailed by the unhindered action of nature's
forces, it is still certain that the sheer confusion of a world in
which law had been abrogated would be infinitely worse.  Indeed, this
is to understate the case; for the fact is that in such a world all the
activities of life would be completely paralysed, and hence life
itself, as we have already had occasion to point out, could not be
carried on.  But if the reign of natural law thus represents the only
set of conditions under which life is even possible; and if at the same
time this law, which operates all the time and never relaxes its hold,
is the expression of the will of God, how can we charge Him with
indifference?  The truth is, on the contrary, that He is exercising His
care, not intermittently, by performing a miracle whenever things go
wrong, but continually, and without any interruption whatsoever.  Were
His law other than steadfast, were there occasional or frequent
departures from it, were it possible to defy nature with impunity just
now and again, the results of such irregular action would be disastrous
in the extreme; it is because His will is constant, and His decrees
without {114} variableness, that we are able to learn and obey them,
and by obeying to master nature.

"But, after all, He made the laws, and He could have made different
ones."  Certainly; but a moment's reflection will show that He could
not have made laws of _any_ kind, disobedience to which would have had
the same consequences as obedience.  He might--for all we can say to
the contrary--have made strychnine nutritious, and wheat deadly to us;
but even in that case an indulgence in wheat would have brought about
the unpleasant effects at present associated with an overdose of _nux
vomica_.  He might have made a raw, damp atmosphere, with easterly
winds, the most conducive to health; but even then it would have been
rash to take up one's residence in a warm, dry climate.  Pain is an
indication that the processes of life are suffering some more or less
serious disturbance; given, therefore, any set of natural laws, and the
necessity of obeying them as the condition of life itself, and we see
that disobedience to them would always and inevitably mean pain.  We
repeat that God might have made different laws; but whatever they were,
their breach must have recoiled upon the breaker.

Yet even if reflections like these demonstrate to us the necessity for
pain, we are still left to face those greater calamities and disasters
which sweep away human lives by the hundred and thousand, catastrophes
like the Sicilian {115} earthquakes, that are marked by an appalling
wantonness of destruction; must not such events as these also be
attributed to God, and how are they to be reconciled with His alleged
benevolence?  Certainly, no one would attempt to minimise the horrors
of the Sicilian tragedy; the human mind is overwhelmed by the
suddenness, no less than the magnitude, of an upheaval of nature
resulting in the blotting-out of whole flourishing communities.  And
yet we venture to say, paradoxical though it sounds, that it is, partly
at least, owing to a certain lack of imagination that such an event
looms so immense in our thoughts.  Most of us do not make the ordinance
of death in itself an accusation against the Most High; we are not
specially shocked or outraged by the thought that the whole population
of the globe dies out within quite a moderate span of time, nor even by
the reflection that several hundred thousand persons die every year in
the United Kingdom alone.  We know quite well that every one of those
who perished in Messina must have paid his debt to nature in, at most,
a few decades.  So, then, the whole point in our arraignment is
this--It would not have been cruel had these deaths been spread over a
period of time, but it is cruel that they should have taken place
simultaneously; it would not have been cruel had the victims of the
earthquake died of illnesses--in many cases prolonged and painful--but
it is cruel {116} that death should have come upon them swiftly,
instantaneously, without menace or lingering pain; it would not have
been cruel had children survived to mourn their parents, husbands their
wives, brother the loss of brother, as in the ordinary course--but it
is cruel that by dying in the same hour they were spared the pang of
parting.  We repeat that it is because we ordinarily use our
imaginations too little that we are so apt to lose our balance and
sense of proportion in the presence of these catastrophes; and it may
be permissible to point out that there is probably, quality for
quality, and quantity for quantity, more grey, hopeless suffering, more
wretchedness and tragedy, in London to-day than was caused by the
Sicilian catastrophe--suffering and wretchedness that are due not to
nature, but to sin, though not necessarily on the sufferer's part.

And there is, in justice, something more to be said when we speak of
these dire visitations.  While every instinct of humanity inspires us
with sympathy for the victims buried under the ruins of Messina and
Reggio, it is, of course, a matter of common knowledge that the soil on
those coasts is volcanic, and liable to such commotions; if men will
take the risk of living in such localities, we may pity them when the
disaster comes, but we cannot very fitly impeach Providence.  There is
a village near Chur in Switzerland, which has twice been wiped out by
avalanches, yet each time re-built {117} on the same spot; year by year
material is visibly accumulating for a third deadly fall, and when it
takes place, as take place it will, men will speak of the dispassionate
cruelty of nature.  Time after time the lava from Mount Vesuvius has
overwhelmed the localities that nestle on its slopes, but human
heedlessness proves incurable.  If the Sicilians, knowing the nature of
the soil, had built their towns of isolated, one-storied, wooden
structures, at a reasonable distance from the shore, the effects of
earthquake and tidal wave would not have been one hundredth part as
terrible; yet Messina is being re-built on its former site, and
apparently in the old style of architecture--a proceeding which simply
invites a repetition of the same kind of disaster.  It is literally
true that these greater calamities are in nearly every instance capable
of being averted or their incidence minimised; to give an obvious
instance, one is almost weary of seeing it repeated that the famines
and consequent epidemics which visit India could be immensely reduced
by a wise and generous expenditure on irrigation, the improved
cultivation of the land, the enlargement of the cultivable area, and so
forth.  But men find it easier to turn accusing glances to the sky than
to bestir themselves and to use more wisdom, foresight and energy in
directing and subduing the forces of nature.

We are well aware that what has been written in the pages of this
chapter is no {118} more than a series of scattered hints; we do not
for a moment imagine that, in the aggregate, they amount to more than a
most fragmentary resolution of the difficulty presented by the reality
of evil--indeed, we have already expressed our belief that a full
solution must in the nature of things lie beyond our ken.  But if it
should appear from the foregoing considerations that some aspects of
our problem--such as the existence of sin and of pain--are not as
irreconcilable with the goodness of God as may have seemed to be the
case, reflection should lead us to the reasonable hope that if we
understood more, we should receive fuller and fuller proof of the truth
that God is Love.  And when we remember that that Love shines out most
brightly from the Cross, and that the world's greatest tragedy has been
the world's greatest blessing, the turning-point in the history of the
race, we may well hush our impatience, refrain over-confident
criticisms, and commit ourselves to the Father's hands even while we
can only see His purposes as in a glass, darkly.  We may believe, with
the psalmist of old, that by and by we "shall behold His face in
_righteousness_; we shall be satisfied, when we awake, with His

[1] R. A. Armstrong, _God and the Soul_, pp. 161-162.

[2] _Op. cit._, p. 21.

[3] _Ibid_, p. 82.

[4] _Through Nature to God_, pp. 36, 37.




We closed our last chapter with a confession and an appeal--a confession
of the incompleteness of our answers to the questions suggested by the
fact of evil, and an appeal for patience in recognising that that
incompleteness is inevitable, having regard to our constitutional
limitations.  "There is," as Newman said, "a certain grave acquiescence
in ignorance, a recognition of our impotence to solve momentous and
urgent questions, which has a satisfaction of its own." [1]  That,
however, is an attitude to which all will not resign themselves.  If a
knot cannot be unravelled, their one idea of what to do is to cut it; if
evil cannot be explained, it can at any rate be denied.  Thus we find a
distinguished living essayist, with a large constituency of cultured
readers, writing as follows:--

The essence of God's omnipotence is that both law and matter are His and
originate from Him; so that if a single fibre of what we know to be evil
can be found in the world, either God is responsible for that, or He is
{120} dealing with something He did not originate and cannot overcome.
Nothing can extricate us from this dilemma, except that what we think
evil is not really evil at all, but hidden good.

If the views of Divine power and responsibility set forth in this book
are true--if, _i.e._, we are justified in having recourse to a theory of
Divine self-limitation--it will be clear that Mr. Benson's "dilemma" is,
to say the least, overstated; but were that dilemma as desperate as he
depicts it, it has strangely escaped him that his suggested mode of
extrication is more desperate still.  For what he asks us to do is quite
simply to abdicate our judgment in respect of both physical and ethical
phenomena--not merely to withhold our decision upon this or that
particular occurrence, but to admit in general terms that evil is only
apparent and not real.  But see to what such an admission commits us: if
we have no grounds for saying that evil is evil, we can have no grounds
either for saying that good is good; if our faculties are incompetent to
diagnose the one kind of phenomena accurately, they cannot be any more
competent to diagnose and deliver reliable verdicts upon the other kind.
It is quite a mistake to think that by getting rid of the reality of evil
we preserve or affirm the more emphatically the reality of good; if we
confidently pronounce our experience of evil an illusion, what value can
there attach to our finding that our {121} experience of its opposite is
a fact?  Such is the Nemesis which waits on remedies of the "heroic"

Nevertheless this particular remedy seems to be enjoying a considerable
popularity at the present time; indeed, in discussing some aspects of the
doctrine which affirms the "allness" of God, and the allied one of
Monism, we have already seen that where these are professed, evil must be
explicitly or implicitly denied.  This denial is common to the various
confused movements--all of them the outcome of a misconceived
idealism--which under the names of "New Thought," "Higher Thought," "Joy
Philosophy," "Christian Science," etc., etc., find their disciples
chiefly amongst that not inconsiderable section of the public which has
been aptly described as dominated by a "longing to combine a picturesque
certainty devoid of moral discipline with unlimited transcendental
speculations."  All these cults combine a vague optimism with an
extravagant subjectivity; all would have us believe that so far from
things being what they are, they are whatever we may think them to be;
all with one accord treat evil in its various manifestations as unreal,
and maintain, as it has been neatly phrased, that "the process of cure
lies in the realisation that there is nothing to be cured."  The
attraction of such a doctrine for that large number of persons who
dislike strenuous effort--either intellectual or {122} moral--is easily
accounted for.  Evil as a fact is not conducive to the comfort of those
who contemplate it--how pleasant to be told that it exists only in
disordered imaginations; the sense of sin has always interfered with the
enjoyment of life--what a relief to learn that it is merely a chimaera;
pain is grievous indeed--what benefactors are those who teach us how to
conjure it away by the simple process of declaring that there is no such
thing!  A creed promising to accomplish such desirable objects could be
sure of votaries, if proclaimed with sufficient _aplomb_; here, we may
surmise, is the main explanation of the welcome given to those monistic
ethics to which we referred in an earlier chapter, and of the vogue of
so-called "Christian Science," which invites consideration as the most
typical and important of a whole group of movements.

We repeat that the nature of the Christian Science appeal largely
explains the rapid spread of this cult.  Christian Science is quite
unlike other religions in this, that while they promise at most
salvation--an intangible boon--Mrs. Eddy promises her followers _health_,
relief from bodily pain and sickness, and thus addresses herself to a
universally and urgently felt want.  A merely spiritual message may fail
to obtain listeners; but--to state the truth baldly--a person need not be
particularly spiritually-minded in order to be drawn towards Christian
Science.  The natural man would much rather {123} be made well than made
good, and a creed which professes to be able to do the former will touch
him in his most sensitive part.  Certainly, this was one of the
difficulties of Christ's public ministry, _viz._, that the people flocked
to Him to be cured rather than to be taught.  But while He declined to
place the emphasis on His works of healing--while He left Capernaum by
Himself before sunrise in order to escape the importunities of the mob,
and refused Peter's request that He should return thither with the words,
"Let us go elsewhere into the next towns that I may preach there also;
for to _this_ end came I forth"--Christian Science addresses its sure
appeal to man's material nature.  The contrast is significant.

And yet the true essence of Christian Science is not "faith-healing" in
the ordinary sense.  It does not say, _e.g._, "Here is a case of genuine,
unmistakeable rheumatism or consumption, but faith is able to dispel it";
on the contrary, it says, "This alleged rheumatism or consumption is a
mere illusion, a phantasm of the imagination; and the way to be cured is
for the 'patient' to discover his mistake.  There are no maladies--there
are only _malades imaginaires_."  Mrs. Eddy states in plain words that
"Mortal ills are but errors of thought" [2]; it is from this point of
view that Christian Science as a system has to be approached and


With the fantastic exegesis of Scripture on which this creed professes to
be based, we are not directly concerned; else something might be said of
the method of interpretation which is to be found in the official
text-book of the movement--a method which sees in the serpent the symbol
of malicious animal magnetism, which identifies the Holy Ghost and the
New Jerusalem with Christian Science, and the little book brought down
from heaven by the mighty angel with Mrs. Eddy's own _magnum opus_,
_Science and Health_.  As Mr. Podmore drily remarks, "In these holy games
each player is at liberty to make words mean what he wants them to mean";
at the same time, these grotesque and arbitrary constructions are not
precisely calculated to inspire the confidence of balanced minds.

Let us, however, turn at once to the fundamental axioms of Christian

(1) God is All in all.

(2) God is Good.  Good is Mind.

(3) God, Spirit, being all, nothing is matter.

(4) Life, God, Omnipotent Good, deny death, evil, sin, disease.

In other words, Christian Science begins--and, for the matter of that,
ends--with the categorical statement that the one and only Reality is
Mind, Goodness, God, all three of which terms it uses synonymously and
interchangeably.  So much being granted, the rest follows "in a
concatenation according"; the {125} possible permutations are many--the
result is always one.  _God is All_: hence, says Mrs. Eddy, "_All is
God_, and there is naught beside Him"; but _God is Good_, and as He is
_All_, it follows that _All is Good_; and if all is good, _there can be
no evil_.  Again, Mrs. Eddy propounds the following three propositions:
_God is Mind; Good is Mind; All is Mind_; therefore, once more, all is
good, all is God, and _there can be no evil_.  Or, to introduce another
variation--_God is All_, and _God is Mind_; therefore _Mind is all_;
therefore _there is no matter_.  Grant the Christian Science premises,
and there is no escaping the Christian Science conclusions.

But do we grant these premises--do we grant Mrs. Eddy's fundamental
pantheistic assumption of "the allness of God" [3]?  We have shown again
and again why we do not; and with the rejection of the basal tenet of
Christian Science the superstructure follows.  But now let us show how
all Mrs. Eddy's juggling with words, all her assertions of the goodness
of all and the allness of good, do not help her to get rid of evil.
Granting for argument's sake that Mind is the only reality, then the test
of reality must be this--that something exists in or for a mind; in so
far, {126} then, as evil, pain, and so forth exist, as Christian Science
tells us, "only" in some mind--in so far as "disease is a thing of
thought" [4]--evil, pain, disease, etc., must _pro tanto_ be real, nay,
the most real of realities, for where except in mind could they exist?
And even if we can successfully annihilate them by denying their
existence, whence did they come in the first place?  From "malicious
animal magnetism"?  But if God is All in all, and All-good, what is that
malicious animal magnetism which is somehow not God and not good?  Does
not this whole tangle serve yet once more to illustrate the futility of
that doctrine of Divine allness which we have seen successfully
masquerading as Divine immanence?

Let us test the worth of these speculations in yet another way.
Christian Science declares evil to be non-existent, illusory, an "error
of thought."  But that which is true of a species must be true of all its
genera; if all men are mortal, and Socrates is a man, it follows that
Socrates is mortal; if evil as a whole is nonexistent, that which applies
to the general phenomenon must equally apply to each and all of its
manifestations.  But error is undoubtedly a form, and even a serious
form, of evil; from which it would follow that if evil is not real, error
is not possible--and in that case one opinion is as good as its opposite,
and black and white are only different {127} descriptions of the same
thing.  But if that is so, if one thing is as true as another, we shall
conclude that, _e.g._, the rejection of Christian Science is no more
erroneous than its affirmation.  Will Christian Scientists acquiesce in
that inference?  And if they will not, by what means do they propose to
show that it is not a legitimate deduction from their own axiom, the
unreality of evil?  If error is a real fact, evil must be so to that
extent; on the other hand, how can it be an error to believe that evil is
real, if error, being an evil, must itself be illusory?

But it is time we turned from our examination of the principles of
Christian Science to their application.  So far as the wholesale
declaration of the illusoriness of physical evil--the ravages and
tortures of disease--is concerned, the implicit belief extended to the
pretensions of this creed to master all such ills is proof, if proof were
wanted, of the success which rewards those who act on the maxim, "_de
l'audace, toujours de l'audace_!"  Given the right kind and amount of
faith, we are assured, Christian Science treatment will prove effective
in a case of double pneumonia, or compound fracture, or malignant tumour,
without the assistance of the physician--above all, without "drugs,"
which are pronounced _taboo_ by Mrs. Eddy; "and that," to quote Mr.
Podmore again, "is a postulate which can never be contradicted by
experience, for failure can always be {128} ascribed--as it is, in fact,
ascribed by the Christian Scientist to-day--to want of faith or 'Science'
on the part of the sufferer."  Nothing could be more entirely simple or
unanswerable: if the patient improves or recovers, the credit goes to
Christian Science; if he gets worse or dies, the unfortunate result is
debited to his lack of faith.  The only thing Christian Science fails to
answer is, as we have already seen, the preliminary question, _viz._,
what caused the disease--or at any rate the semblance, the malignant
hallucination of disease--in the first instance.  If God is all and all
is God; if God is Mind and there is nothing but Mind; if all therefore is
mind and all is good--whence in a good Mind comes even the hallucination
of pain and evil?  "The thoughts of the practitioner," says Mrs. Eddy,
"should be imbued with a clear conviction of the omnipotence and
omnipresence of God; . . . and hence, that whatever militates against
health . . . is an unjust usurper of the throne of the Controller of all
mankind." [5]  But if God is omnipresent, His presence must be displayed
in the disease; if He is omnipotent, how can there be a usurper on His
throne?  If He is All, how can there be aught beside Him?  These are
points on which we wait in vain for enlightenment from the Boston


We shall be told, however, that whatever flaws there may be in the theory
of Christian Science, this cult could not possibly have obtained its
vogue if it were all promise and no performance; and as a matter of fact,
testimonies to the curative effect of the treatment abound, furnished by
those who say they have been restored to health by these methods, and as
convincing as such testimony can be.  We use the latter phrase advisedly;
it is impossible to read these documents without being convinced of the
entire good faith of the writers in relating what they themselves believe
to be true; it is impossible not to be convinced by the perusal of their
accounts that cures of some sort took place: the one thing of which it is
possible to remain quite unconvinced is the fundamental contention of
Christian Science, _viz._, that there was no disease to be cured.
Speaking quite generally, if one is going to be impressed by testimonials
there is of course, no patent pill of respectable advertising power which
cannot produce such by the wastepaper-basketful; and perfectly sincere
and unsolicited testimonials, too.  What these prove, however, is neither
that the patients have been cured of the particular diseases they may
name--and in the diagnosis of which they may very likely be mistaken--nor
above all that it is the taking of a particular preparation to which they
owe their cures; they prove the enormous power of suggestion and
auto-suggestion, in {130} virtue of which many ailments yield to the
patient's firm assurance that by following a certain course he will get
better.  Everyone knows that a manner which inspires confidence, a happy
blend of cheerfulness and suave authority, is of at least equal value to
a physician as his skill and diplomas; and it is probably true,
approximately at any rate, that a man can no more be cured of a serious
illness unless he believes in his curability, than he can be hypnotised
against his will.  But between the recognition of such a fact, and the
description of a cancer as an obstinate illusion, or a crushed limb as an
"error of thought," there is just the difference which separates sanity
from extravaganza.

In short, that which is of truth in Christian Science is not peculiar to
it; while what is peculiar to its teaching, the denial of the reality of
shattered legs, wasted lungs, diseased spines, etc., is not true.  The
power of mind over body, the possibility of healing certain diseases by
suggestion, is not the discovery of Mrs. Eddy; the assumption on the
other hand, that _all_ diseases are susceptible to such treatment is
characteristic of the school of which she is the latest and best-known
representative--only it is false.  "All physicians of broad practice and
keen observation realise that certain pains may be alleviated or cured,
and that certain morbid conditions may be made to disappear, provided a
change in the mental {131} state of the patient can be brought
about. . . .  It does not require special learning to build up a
psychotherapeutic practice based upon the observation of such cases; and
the Christian Science healers, narrowly educated and of narrow
experience, have done just this thing, resting upon the theory that the
mental influence of the healer is the effective curative agent.  It is
easy to see how a development of this theory would lead to the assumption
that all kinds of diseases may be curable by mental influence emanating
from a healer, this leading to the practice of the so-called
'absent-treatment,' with all its follies and dangers." [6]  When it is
added that the Christian Science healer is a professional person, and
that the cost of "absent-treatment" may come to as much as ten dollars an
hour, we need say no more about the "dangers" alluded to.[7]  That the
quasi-religious formulas of Christian Science may prove extremely
effective in bringing about such a change in the mental state of certain
patients as will cause pains {132} to be alleviated or cured, and morbid
conditions to disappear, one need have no hesitation in believing;
moreover, as the medical author just quoted acutely observes, it is quite
possible that some patients would not be cured unless they were "allowed
to believe that their cures are due to some mysterious or miraculous
agency."  But even such an admission does not mean that Christian Science
does more than apply the principle of suggestion, increasing its efficacy
by utilising the religious faculty of the patient; nor, above all, does
it give countenance to the root-contention of the creed, _viz._, that
pain and disease are unreal.  Once more, if mind be the only reality,
then pain, seeing that it can only be experienced by a mind, is real in
exact proportion as it is intense.

It might seem unnecessary to add anything more to what has been said in
refutation of the claims of Christian Science so far as physical healing
is concerned; but one or two very simple considerations will complete our
case without greatly detaining us.

In stating categorically and without qualification that "mortal ills are
but errors of thought," Mrs. Eddy seems to have overlooked two classes of
patients to whom it would be somewhat difficult to apply this sweeping
generalisation.  We wonder, for instance, how this theory could be made
to cover the large category of infantile ailments.  How, we are {133}
entitled to ask, would Christian Science deal with the teething-troubles
which attend babyhood?  Is it seriously suggested that a feverish,
wailing child is merely the victim of an hallucination--and how would the
Christian Scientist undertake to convince him of his illusion?  On the
face of it, such an enterprise does not look hopeful.  But further, it so
happens that human beings are not the only sufferers from pain and
sickness; animals are subject to diseases, and often to the same diseases
as men.  We disclaim all intention of treating the subject otherwise than
seriously--but if a man's rheumatism is an illusion, what causes the same
affection in a dog or a chimpanzee?  And if an embrocation may be used
with good effects in the latter case, why may it not be used in the
former?  We need not press these questions; they will serve as they stand
to show once more how this whole pretentious philosophy about the
unreality, the imaginary nature, of pain breaks down as soon as we
subject it to simple tests.  So also with the Christian Science attitude
towards "drugs," the prescribing of which Mrs. Eddy places in the same
category as the denial of God.[8]  An obvious comment suggests itself: If
drugs cannot cure, it follows that they cannot hurt; will some adherent
to this teaching show his consistency in the faith by swallowing a small,
but sufficient quantity {134} of oxalic acid?  And so, finally, with Mrs.
Eddy's singularly futile question, "As power divine is in the healer, why
should mortals concern themselves with the chemistry of food?" [9]
Without unkindliness, one feels tempted to reply that this kind of
language will begin to be convincing when Christian Scientists show their
readiness and ability to sustain life on substances chemically certified
to be without nutritive properties.

But it is not its denial of physical evil that makes this and allied
movements a real menace; dissent as we may from the Christian Science
theory of bodily illness, and deplore as we must the fatal results of
which we read every now and again when a patient has been persuaded to
substitute the Christian Science "healer" for the trained
physician--these results concern, to put it rather bluntly, no one but
the sufferer and his immediate friends.  But when we remarked that the
natural man desired to be made well rather than to be made good, we were
not merely thinking of one side of Christian Science teaching; we were
bearing in mind that the author of _Science and Health_ declares the
illusoriness of pain only as part of the illusoriness of all evil, moral
as well as physical.  _Christian Science explicitly denies the reality of
sin: and that denial follows with inexorable logic from its first
principle--that {135} God is All, and All is Good_.  And here rather than
in the material domain lies the danger we have to face; this is the side
of Mrs. Eddy's doctrine which, the moment it is attractively presented
to, and grasped by, half-educated and unstable minds, will, we fear,
exercise a fatal fascination over large numbers.  For one person who will
seriously persuade himself that there is no matter, or that his sore
throat is imaginary, there will be a number to welcome the good tidings
that what they had hitherto regarded as sin wears in reality no such
sinister complexion--that, as Mrs. Eddy openly states, _what seems "vice"
is to be explained as "illusions of the physical senses_."  That is
precisely what every sinner would like to believe.  "I have done that,
says my memory.  I cannot have done that, says my pride, and remains
obdurate.  In the end, my memory gives in."  So wrote Nietzsche, keenly
and cynically observant of his kind.  As a matter of fact, men would give
almost anything to be able to convince themselves that they "have not
done that"--not necessarily from pride, but in order to be rid of shame,
of remorse, of self-contempt; will not many of them only too eagerly
accept this fatal anodyne when it is offered to them in the pretended
name of religion?

We have but one comment to urge, one protest to make.  It has taken long
ages to develop and heighten man's sensitiveness to {136} the distinction
between good and evil; we say with the most solemn emphasis that anything
calculated to dull that sensitiveness, to wipe out that distinction, to
drug the conscience, is nothing less than a crime of high treason against
humanity.  Better call evil an unfathomable mystery, so long as we also
regard it as a dread reality, a foe we must conquer or be conquered by;
but to solve the problem by denying its existence, to get over the fact
of evil by declaring that all is good--that way not only madness but
moral disaster lies.  Let us at least understand what this doctrine is,
which is being so energetically pressed upon us to-day; and if we see the
direction in which that ill-digested pseudo-revelation is likely to lead
those who consistently accept it, let us meet this insidious propaganda
with equal energy and better arguments.  Our first and simplest duty in
dealing with the specious doctrine which asserts that evil is
"not-being"--a mere illusion which, like the idols spoken of by the
Apostle, is "nothing in the world"--is to point out promptly and
uncompromisingly that whatever such a reading of the facts may be, and
from whatever quarter it may be offered, it is not Christian, but at the
furthest remove from Christianity.  Shall we be told that "the question
is not whether these opinions are dangerous, but whether they are true?"
We reply that we are well aware that truth is the highest expediency; but
we are not {137} acquainted with any other test of the truth of an
opinion save this--whether and how it works.  If a speculative theory,
when carried into practice, should appear to make straight for pernicious
results, in what intelligible sense of the word can it be "true"?

It is the immense merit of Christianity that it has spoken out with no
uncertain voice upon this subject; it has never sought to minimise or
explain away the fact of moral evil; on the contrary, it has consistently
pointed to the true nature of sin, by connecting it vitally and causally
with the sacrificial death of the Son of God: _tanta molis erat_ (if we
may slightly vary the immortal line) _humanam solvere gentem_.  A gospel
which lightly dismisses this terrible reality, and seeks to hide its
hideousness behind a rose-coloured mist of fine words,--such an
emasculated gospel is not a message of life, but has the answer of death
within itself.  That in the past, in a doctrine such as that of man's
total depravity, the fact of sin has been over-emphasised, may be readily
granted; but in the present all the symptoms indicate that the peril we
have to meet is its _under_-emphasis.  Against this whole tendency we
must resolutely re-assert the Christian standpoint and attitude.
Christianity is that religion which affirms in unfaltering accents the
reality of evil--but it sets over against it the greater Reality of
atoning Love; it proclaims unsparingly the sinfulness and deadliness
{138} of sin, but offers us the victory over sin and death through Jesus
Christ our Lord.

"_O Timotheus, guard your trust, and eschew the irreverent empty phrases
and contradictions of a mis-called 'Science,' professing which some have
missed their true aim in regard to the faith._"


In order to afford an illustration of Christian Science as a thing in
being, we reproduce without comment the following report of an inquest,
as published in the _Tribune_, on January 9th, 1908:--

Remarkable questions were put by the coroner to witnesses at a Richmond
(Surrey) inquest yesterday on Mary Elizabeth Dixon, 58, a Christian
Scientist, who died of bronchitis.

Mrs. E. D., of St. John's Road, said that at the request of Mrs. Dixon
she gave her Christian Science help--prayer which she had faith would be

The Coroner (Dr. Michael Taylor): Was it?--She was in a state of collapse
on Saturday night, but revived much.  When Mrs. Dixon had a cold
previously it improved wonderfully under Christian Science.

Then Christian Science is effectual if not much is the matter, but is not
in the case of a serious illness?--I don't think she wanted to get better.

Is that the way you look at it?--No, I don't.  I know God is all-power
and ever present.

But if God is all-powerful, as you say, and as we all know, why did you
have no response?--I suppose it was my lack of trust in that all-power.


It comes to this, that although He is all-powerful, unless the person
praying for another has perfect faith the patient will not
recover?--Nothing is impossible to God.  The doctor was called in because
it was the law.

Then it was too late.  It was as much the law to have called him in when
the woman was alive.  What is the practice with regard to illness?--It is

If you had a broken leg, would you send for a doctor?--Yes, to set it.  I
have not sufficient understanding.

Continuing, witness said she did not believe in drugs, but she did in
food at present, because her understanding was not sufficient, as she was
only a student.

By a Juror: The reason Mrs. Dixon got worse was because of lack of
understanding on witness's part.

The Coroner: When she got worse, why did you not send for a doctor?--I
asked her if she wanted a doctor to tell me.

Yet she was getting worse owing to your lack of understanding?--I didn't
look at it in that light.

B. H., who attended Mrs. Dixon, said she was a trained nurse with nine
years' experience.  Witness had, during the past two years, become a
Christian Scientist nurse.  She was not a practitioner.

The Coroner: Has a practitioner any special qualifications?--No, a
practitioner is one who prays for another.

The Coroner: Would you give a patient a mustard poultice?--No.

But you would give her a hot-water bottle?--Yes.

Then where do you draw the line?  You don't believe in material aid?--No,
I believe the other is better.

Do you believe in a judicious continuation of both?--No.

Did you give her beef tea?--Yes, as a nourishment.

But, nurse, you ought to know what every medical man knows, that beef tea
is a stimulant.  Do you believe in stimulants?--Not at all.


Then why did you give her beef tea?--(After a pause) It was simpler to

But it is contrary to your principles.  Would you give _sal

Witness explained that she called in no other help because she believed
prayer was the most effectual.

Why didn't you call in a doctor?--I think the patient should judge for

Even though her brain is clouded and she is dying?--Yes.

On another point the Coroner said: Did our Saviour use food and
stimulants?--He gave wine.

Why don't you give wine?--He did not give it in illness, but at a
marriage feast.

You want us to believe He gave wine to people who could do without and
withheld it from those who wanted it.

Asked a question as to calling in a doctor for surgery purposes, witness
said he would only be called in for setting bones and not for an

The Coroner: It amounts to this: you believe the Almighty is a bad
surgeon, but a good physician?--Our faith is not yet strong enough.

Dr. Cockell deposed that death was due to acute bronchitis.

Would she have recovered with medical attendance for a week before?--Yes.

The Coroner, in summing up, said there was no doubt Mrs. Dixon was
grossly neglected.

The jury returned a verdict of "Death from acute bronchitis, accelerated
by gross neglect by Mrs. D. and especially by Nurse H."

The Coroner: I am afraid that will mean manslaughter, which would be too
severe.  Will you alter it, gentlemen?  The jury then altered the verdict
to one of "severe censure on Mrs. D. and Miss H. for neglecting to obtain
medical aid."

[1] _The Grammar of Assent_, p. 201.

[2] _Rudimental Divine Science_, p. 10.

[3] _Op. cit._, p. 10.  Mrs. Eddy is so incredibly ignorant of the
meaning of words in common use that she says, "Mind in matter is
pantheism."  It has apparently never dawned on her that her own doctrine,
"God is All--All is God" is pantheism pure and simple!

[4] _Ibid_.

[5] _Op. cit._, p. 9.

[6] Dr. Henry Rutgers Marshall, on "Psychotherapeutics," in the _Hibbert
Journal_, January, 1909.

[7] The Christian Science healer is supposed to have had his or her
powers trained by special tuition, for which, in the ordinary course, a
fee is charged.  Mrs. Eddy states that she has "never taught a Primary
class without several and sometimes seventeen free students in it," but
adds significantly "The student who pays must, of necessity, do better
than he who does not pay" (_op. cit._, p. 14).  The "necessity" is not
quite obvious, but the statement sets one wondering whether it would hold
true if for "student" the word "patient" were substituted.

[8] _Op. cit._, p. 3.

[9] _Ibid._, p. 13.




The under-emphasis of sin, we said, is one of the special dangers which
threaten the present age; and nothing is more remarkable or disquieting
to observe than the number of attacks that are being made to-day from
quarter after quarter, all of them converging upon the same point.  Now
the cry is raised that sin is a mere mistake, due to ignorance; or that
it is merely the absence of something, as a shadow indicates the absence
of light[1]; or we are assured that "what we call 'evil' is only
incidental to the progress and development of the [universal] order"
[2]--a necessary step in evolution.  Now again the burden of
responsibility is shifted from the shoulders of the individual on to
heredity and environment; or compromise with what is known to be moral
evil is not only excused as a necessity, but commended as a duty; or the
average person's feelings are considerately soothed by {142} the
pronouncement that "the mass of a Christian congregation are about as
innocent as men and women can well be in a world where natural
temptations are so rife, and so many social adjustments discountenance
heroic saintliness" [3]--the latter a truly admirable feat of
circumlocution.  And sometimes, as we have seen, sin and evil are
themselves in essence negated--generally in virtue of some
pseudo-philosophic or pseudo-scientific "doctrine of a universe"--as when
we read that "in a universe . . . there cannot be any room for
independent and creative wills, actually thwarting the Good Will." [4]
Doubtless, these various statements, whether made in the name of Monism
or Determinism, or some form of neo-Christianity, represent a reaction
against that over-emphasis which taught that man was by nature under
God's wrath and deserving of everlasting torments; but there can be no
question that this reaction has gone very far in the direction of the
opposite extreme, and that the time has come for reconsideration and a
return to more balanced views.

So far as the virtual denial of human freedom, human sin, and indeed of
human selfhood, {143} flows from a perversion of the doctrine of Divine
immanence, we need not add anything to the observations made in earlier
chapters upon this subject; we might, however, quote some pertinent words
of Martineau's, affirming and explaining that distinction between the
Divine and human personality which can only be ignored to the hopeless
confusion of thought:

"The whole external universe, then (external, I mean, to self-conscious
beings), we unreservedly surrender to the Indwelling Will, of which it is
the organised expression.  From no point of its space, from no moment of
its time, is His living energy withdrawn, or less intensely present than
in any crisis fitly called creative.  But the very same principle which
establishes a _Unity_ of all external causality makes it antithetic to
the internal, and establishes a _Duality_ between our own and that which
is other than ours; so that, were not our personal power known to us as
_one_, the cosmical power would not be guaranteed to us as the _other_.
Here, therefore, at the boundary of the proper Ego, the absorbing claim
of the Supreme will arrests itself, and recognises a ground on which it
does not mean to step.  Did it still press on and annex this field also,
it would simply abolish the very base of its own recognisable existence,
and, in making itself all in all, would vanish totally from view. . .
Are we, then, to find Him in the sunshine and the rain, and to miss Him
in our thought, our duty and our love?  Far from it; He is with us in
both: only in the former it is His _immanent_ life, in the latter His
_transcendent_, with which we are in communion." [5]

Only where this fundamental principle of the non-identity of God and man
is recognised, can the facts of human personality, {144} freedom and
responsibility for willed acts be rationally based and defended.

At the same time this "otherness" of God, while it is the condition, is
not necessarily the guarantee, of our freedom.  Determinism is quite
compatible, in theory, and has been so found in history, with belief in
the Divine transcendence; but it is scarcely compatible with belief in
the Divine goodness.  There is no _a priori_ reason making it
inconceivable that the doctrine of absolute predestination might be true;
but such a doctrine is not reconcilable with the belief that the Eternal
Other is also the Eternal Father.  The Divine Autocrat of Calvinism, who
pre-ordained some of His creatures to eternal damnation--not for any
demerit of theirs, but "just choosing so"--is not unthinkable; what is
unthinkable is that we could love such a One--a God who had predestined
all human sin and woe, who had fore-ordered things in such a manner that
unnumbered hapless souls were doomed evermore to stumble and to suffer.
Such a God might inspire a shuddering, wondering, abject awe, but never
affection.  Only a good God, aiming at the evolution of goodness, the
making of character, could have endowed us with freedom, for only through
such an endowment can such an aim be realised.

And hence there are perhaps few attitudes so entirely irrational as that
which affects to see in a determinist interpretation of man's {145}
nature a special reason for optimism.  Occasionally one is invited to
rejoice in the "great and glorious thought that every man is wholly a
product of the Master Workman"; it is even urged that such a conception
cannot change our appreciation of what is fine in human thought and
action, just as "we do not admire a rose the less because we know that it
could no more help being what it is than could a stinging nettle or a
fungus."  We can only say that such a superficial optimism seems
infinitely more open to objection than the temper which, in the face of
so much suffering and sin, has to struggle hard sometimes to preserve its
faith in the Father's love, and half-wonders if some personal power of
evil is not actively engaged in marring God's workmanship.  Anyone who
can believe that every man, just as he is, represents the Divine
intention in concrete form--anyone who can believe this, and glory in the
thought--must inhabit a strange world, remote from reality.  He can never
have learned anything of the greed which condemns myriads of human beings
to sunless and degraded lives; he can never have been inside a
police-court; he can never have seen hapless womanhood flaunting its
be-rouged and be-ribboned shame under the electric light of West End
thoroughfares--he can never even have reflected upon any of these things,
and rejoiced in the thought that every human being was "wholly the {146}
product of the Master Workman." If such a thought does not produce
something like despair, it ought to do so; if it does not, then it
represents not a conviction but a pose.

As a matter of fact, the determinist creed, with all its professions of
charitableness towards the transgressor, and while pretending to soothe
us by absolving us from responsibility for wrong-doing, fatally paralyses
our endeavours.  It is a message, not of liberation from guilt, but of
despair.  Christianity, even while condemning sin, in its very
condemnation speaks of hope; it says to the sinner: "You are guilty--you
ought to have done better, and you know it; you are guilty--you ought
still to do better, _and you can_."  That is a rousing, vitalising call:
the very censure implies the possibility of better things.  But
Determinism says to the moral wreck: "Not only are you a wreck, but that
is all you ever could have been; you not only cannot help being what you
are, but in your wretchedness and degradation you are what you could not
help being--this was your pre-ordained destiny from the beginning of
time.  We are not angry with you, any more than we are angry with tigers
for being fierce, or with thorns for not bearing grapes; only, being what
you are, you never _could_ have borne, and never will bear, grapes."
Truly a "great and glorious thought"!  Determinism makes of the whole
world of erring men a hospital, and pronounces {147} every patient an
incurable--it is ready to grant kindly, considerate treatment to each,
but holds out hopes of recovery to none.  Who would not rather submit to
a sterner physician, whose ministrations promised to medicine him back to
health again!  A consistent Determinism, prepared to look stedfastly at
things as they are, can, we repeat, lead nowhere but to despair; a
conclusion from which determinists, fortunately for themselves, escape by
means of the most patent inconsistency.

But we turn to the further contention which we already mentioned in
passing, _viz._, that the acceptance of Determinism would by no means
change our admiration of what was fine in human thought and action--just
as we did not admire a rose the less because it could not help being
fragrant and beautiful.  Here we have a very palpable, but all the more
significant confusion between things totally different--aesthetics and
ethics.  Our admiration for a rose is aesthetic; our admiration for
goodness is ethical, and we give it with the implicit understanding that
the quality we admire is the result of voluntary acts and decisions.  All
moral judgments imply this; and in practice we know that the experience
of moral struggle and moral conquest is intensely real, not to be argued
away any more than we can be argued out of any other primary fact of
consciousness, which is its own sufficient evidence.  Let anyone ask
himself quite {148} candidly whether the feeling called forth by some
rare work of art resembles remotely the emotion with which he reads of
some deed of humble heroism or self-sacrifice; the psychology which
discerns here no difference is singularly shallow.

But when the would-be optimistic determinist is shown the sheer fatuity
of pretending to rejoice in that everything is just as it is--a singular
compliment to the "Master Workman"--he executes a _volte-face_ and falls
back upon the plea that his doctrine is at any rate a pre-eminently
practical one.  Instead of vainly deploring imaginary "sins," Determinism
would simply have us recognise plain facts: it would arrange for healthy
hereditary influences to cradle the coming generations; it would adopt
the most enlightened educational, hygienic, reformatory methods; it would
provide for all the citizens of the State such an environment as would
steadily make for health and beauty and happiness.  There are no
"sinners," it says, but only the unhappy products of conditions which
foster anti-social proclivities as automatically as dirt fosters disease;
instead of punishing the products, let us attack the producing
conditions, and by sweeping them away bring in the millennium.

Such a plea, it must be admitted, harmonises well with our modern
tolerance, our modern zeal for reform; and yet it rests upon a
fundamental fallacy.  No one, of course, denies the {149} moulding power
of heredity and environment; no one denies such an obvious truism as that
we cannot expect to grow fine specimens of humanity in the reeking slum
or the sweater's workshop.  But as environment is a greater power than
heredity, so there is only one power greater than environment--and that
is our power to alter environment.  "But that," protests the determinist,
"is just what we hold ought to be done." Certainly; only it is just what,
on his presupposition, cannot be done.  For if the slum-dweller cannot
help being what he is, owing to his environment, neither can the
slum-owner, or the legislator, or the community, help being what they
are, owing to the self-same cause.  In fact, we cannot get the word
"ought" from Determinism; it is as much out of place in that connection
as a free worker in a slave-compound.  But every reform springs from a
sense of "oughtness"; and the sense of moral obligation is itself the
spontaneous expression of the consciousness of moral freedom.  So far as
we believe in the duty of reform--or in "duty" itself, _sans phrase_--we
have already renounced Determinism, and proclaimed our belief in liberty.
Let it be said once more, before we pass from this particular aspect of
our subject, that too much may be set down to, or expected from, even
environment; everybody knows that from gentle homes, surrounded by what
seemed the most favouring influences, {150} there have sprung vicious and
depraved characters.  We ask ourselves, in encountering such cases,
"Wanting is--what?"  And the answer must be given in Kant's famous
dictum: that which is "the only good thing in the world--_a good will_."

In one sense, paradoxical as it may sound, much of the strenuous modern
advocacy of Determinism or semi-Determinism is a kind of inverted
acknowledgment of man's consciousness of freedom, _viz._, where that
consciousness appears as the sense of sin.  Of course, when a writer like
Mr. Dole assures us that "there is no objection to a moral and spiritual
Determinism that binds all things over into the unity of good," [6] we
merely reply that on the contrary there is the very serious objection
that "all things" are not good.  But most advocates of the determinist
position are, to do them justice, well aware of the existence of wrong
and discord in human life; and their object is, by emphasising the
influence of heredity and environment, to remove or at least materially
to lighten, the crushing burden of the sense of sin.  The same intention
underlies the effort, occasionally made, to persuade men that, seeing
they are such as God created them, it is not for them to repine at being
what they are, nor to "take too serious a view" of any "penchant for
{151} revolt"--another delightful phrase--they may discover within
themselves; as a recent writer has it, "The responsibility of its
presence _and action_ does not rest with us, nor are we justified in
insulting God who made us, by repenting of what He has done.  _We might
as well repent of the tiger and the snake, the earthquake and the tempest
in nature._" [7]  What are we to say of this attempt to make God
answerable, not merely for the presence, but for the action, of whatever
impulse to "revolt" of which we may be conscious?

To be quite frank, we cannot think the utterance we have just quoted
other than extraordinarily ill-considered.  The simple fact that we
cannot follow _all_ the impulses which arise in us, but have to choose
between higher and lower--the fact that we are well aware of this
conflict of unharmonisable elements within ourselves, some of which can
only triumph at the expense of others--seems sufficiently to dispose of
this writer's main contention.  We may not be responsible for the
presence of these warring instincts, but we are undoubtedly responsible
for translating one kind into action while holding the other kind in
check.  The earthward and the heavenward are in each of us, striving for
mastery; but no imagination is vainer than that we can indulge both, or
practise the impartiality with which Montaigne's singular devotee lighted
one candle {152} to St. George and another to the dragon.  If we would
realise the type of perfect in the mind, we must not gratify "the
penchant for revolt," but exert ourselves to lay--

The ghost of the brute that is walking and haunting us yet and be free;

we must

          Arise and fly
    The reeling Faun, the sensual feast;
    Move upward, working out the beast,
  And let the ape and tiger die.

Granted that the lower impulses, the inheritance from our animal
ancestry, are left in us by Divine decree, they are there, not to be
indulged on the plea that to repent would be tantamount to "insulting God
who made us," but to be conquered by the exercise of that freedom which
is the earnest of our call to claim our birthright as children of God.

But when we are further told that, as well as repent of our actions, we
might repent of the tiger and the snake, we are immediately conscious of
a double confusion of thought behind that statement; for in the first
place, we are not even called upon to repent of _each other's_ failings
but only of our own, and in the second there is no analogy between
ourselves and the tiger and snake, creatures which act according to their
animal natures, and are incapable of desiring to be other than they are.
Our capacity of, and desire for, better things attest our possession of a
measure of liberty, and {153} indicate at once our responsibility for the
course we take, and the essential distinction between the animal creation
and ourselves--a distinction wittily expressed in the remark that
"everybody would admit that very few men are really manly; but nobody
would contend that very few whales were really whaley."

But those who seek to spare us the discomfort of repentance by teaching
us to declare with a new inflection, "It is He that hath made us, and not
we ourselves," forget that there is another side to this argument.  It
is, of course, very alluring to be told that we are not really
blameworthy for acts which hitherto we have blamed ourselves for--that
our impulses are God-given--that "the sinner is merely a learner in a
lower grade in the school," [8] and so forth; one can understand how
grateful is such a morphia injection for deadening the pangs of an
accusing conscience.  The art of making excuses, as old as the Garden of
Eden, will never lack ardent professors or eager disciples.  Says Cassius
to Brutus:--

  Have you not love enough to bear with me
  When that rash humour which my mother gave me
  Makes me forgetful?

And Brutus answers with a smile:--

  Yes, Cassius, and from henceforth,
  When you are over-earnest with your Brutus,
  He'll think your mother chides, and leave you so!

{154} But, after all, we none of us do exclusively things for which we
wish to escape being blamed; there is hardly anyone who could not name
some occasion on which he has made some sacrifice, foregone an unfair
advantage, declined to listen to selfish promptings, or held some baser
impulse in check.  None of these things were done for the sake of
receiving praise; nevertheless, and quite inevitably, the doer felt
praise_worthy_, conscious of an inner accord whose self-attesting power
stamped it a reality, and not an illusion.  But Determinism leaves no
room for this emotion, any more than for that of remorse or
blame-worthiness; we cannot get rid of the sense of sin, yet retain the
sense of righteousness.  The determinist sponge passes over the whole
moral vocabulary, not only over the inconvenient parts; it obliterates
the terms self-indulgence, dishonesty, cowardice, but the same fate
overtakes self-conquest, integrity, bravery.  To vary the phrase
slightly, we must not, on the determinist hypothesis, insult God by
taking credit to ourselves for what He has done.  Are we prepared to
surrender the approval of our conscience, the new-won self-respect which
rewards the successful resistance offered to temptation, as having no
basis in fact?  And if we are not, what is this but to affirm our freedom
and our responsibility alike in doing and forbearing?


And this inner sense of peace or discord, according as we have acted thus
or thus--this immediate consciousness that it lay with us to choose
aright or amiss--is both anterior and superior to all argument; it
asserts itself victoriously against all merely intellectual perplexities,
such as are apt to arise when we ask ourselves how man could be free to
commit or not to commit an act, in view of the Divine omniscience.  The
contradiction seems a stubborn one, yet in practice we never feel our
freedom circumscribed by it.  Probably our difficulty arises largely from
the mistake of applying time-relations to God at all, and thinking of
eternity as an enormously long period instead of timeless Present,
excluding both "unborn To-morrow and dead Yesterday." We, of course, have
to think under the category of time, remembering and looking forward; but
the Divine _modus cognoscendi_ excludes either of these processes, being
the timeless act of One who "knoweth altogether"--in whose sight a
thousand years are as a day, and a day as a thousand years.  To the
Eternal Intelligence, living in an unbeginning and unending Present,
"past" and "future" must be equally unmeaning; to such a One we cannot
but think that all events must be equally and simultaneously present,
"for all live unto Him."  If we could behold the drama of existence _sub
specie aeternitatis_, we might be able to understand how {156} Divine
omniscience can co-exist with human freedom; as it is, we can only say,
"Such knowledge is too wonderful for us--it is high, and we cannot attain
unto it."  We know that we cannot know.  In any case, even while the
Divine omniscience may present itself to us as a necessity of thought,
human freedom remains a reality of experience and a postulate of

There are, however, those to whom human freedom presents itself, not as a
contradiction to Divine omniscience, but as a contradiction in terms.
Man's choice of a course of conduct, they argue, cannot be thought of as
other than {157} determined by an efficient cause; but if it is so
determined, in what sense can it be free?  An uncaused act is strictly
speaking unthinkable; but do we not affirm that acts are uncaused when we
speak of them as free--in other words, is not the only alternative to
Determinism what might be called _in_determinism?  The answer is (_a_)
that every choice is certainly the result of an efficient cause; but
(_b_) the fact of this being so interferes in no wise with the reality of
liberty, nor does it contradict the universality of the law of causation.
For _the efficient cause is the man himself_, and the fact that he can
choose is attested in the very act of choice--which would not be "choice"
if there were not at least two real alternatives.  We do not quarrel with
the obvious truth, stated by Mill, that the will is determined by
motives; we contest the assumption that a "free" act is an "uncaused"
act.  The act is caused or determined by the free choice of a causal
self; in strict parlance, indeed, we should have to say that neither acts
nor wills, but only human selves, are free.  The will is not
self-determined, but determined by a self; and this self is able not only
to choose between different motives, but to attend to one set of motives
to the neglect of others, and even to create motives in order to become
able to make a difficult decision.

Let us, however, guard against a possible misconstruction by saying that
there is all the difference between this conception of _freedom_ {158}
and the mere _spontaneity_ which is recognised by the followers both of
Spinoza and Hegel, a difference which was luminously brought out by
Martineau.[10]  The Spinozist doctrine of spontaneity, as Mr. Picton
points out, means that the individual follows an impulse which "has its
antecedents . . . in the chain of invariable sequences." [11] Man, in
this view, is "free" to do what he wants, because he wants it; he is
_not_ free in the sense that he _could_ have wanted something
different.[12]  Nothing could be more frank than Mr. Picton's statements
on this point--as when he speaks of the "_free_ man's" sense that "all
things are of God, and _could not have been otherwise_:"

Of course the obvious retort occurs, (he continues,) that if indeed
everything . . . occurs by invariable sequence, all this intellectual
gospel of freedom is vain, and exhortations to its acceptance thrown
away.  And to those who are not satisfied with the freedom of conscious
spontaneity, a condition in which we do just as we want to do, though our
will is a link in an endless series of untraceable sequences, I suppose
this objection must still be final.[13]

The objection is undoubtedly final, because it is absolutely valid; for
by freedom we mean the ability to do or leave undone, to act thus or
thus, and apart from such an ability moral judgments are quite
unthinkable.  Where we pronounce praise or blame, the tacit {159}
presupposition is always that the object of the pronouncement could have
acted differently; and this Spinozism denies.

The same remark applies to the teaching of that modern Absolute Idealism
which declares, with Green, that man is his motives, and that he is
"free" inasmuch as it is by his own motives that he is governed.  It
would be as accurate to call an automatic machine "free" on the ground
that it is by its own works that it is moved.  This is only, as Professor
William James aptly calls it, "soft Determinism."  If the automaton could
decide to slacken or increase its rate of speed, to go or to stop as it
liked and where it liked--above all, if it could aim at and devise
improvements in its own mechanism so as to make itself a better
automaton--it would then be appropriate to speak of it as free; only it
would no longer be appropriate to call it an automaton.  And similarly it
is only if man is able to determine his course of action--if he can
"choose" in any real sense, _i.e._, in the sense that he might choose
differently, if he wished to do so--that it can be anything but an abuse
of language to speak of him as free; for only in that case can he be an
object of approbation or condemnation.  If he is merely the sum-total of
his motives, he is as little free to act other than he does as a number
of chemical elements combined in certain proportions are free to form
anything but a definite chemical substance.  As {160} Mr. Balfour has
well expressed it,[14] "It may seem at first sight plausible to describe
a man as free whose behaviour is due to 'himself' alone.  But without
quarrelling over words, it is, I think, plain that whether it be proper
to call him free or not, he at least lacks freedom in the sense in which
freedom is necessary in order to constitute responsibility.  It is
impossible to say of him that he 'ought,' and therefore he 'can,' for at
any given moment of his life his next action is by hypothesis strictly
determined."  But the freedom of which we are conscious--_e.g._, in every
experience of conflict between inclination and duty--is something
altogether different; we know that we can yield or resist, choose
between, reinforce, and if necessary _make_, our motives.[15]


But is not sin, it is sometimes asked, inevitable _per se_, and in that
sense natural to man, and if so, how can we be blamed for what we could
not avoid?  And again, is there not some truth in the statement that much
that we call evil has been incidental to the progress of the race, just
as the discords produced by the learner on a musical instrument are
necessary incidents in the process which will teach him by and by to
charm the ear with the perfect harmony?  Such questions are frequently
put forward; let us see if we are able to clear away the
misunderstandings to which they bear witness.

(1) Admitting that a free moral being must be able in theory to choose
the wrong as well as the right, it should in the first place be observed
that the possibility of that or any course does not render it
_inevitable_ for him to take it, and it is only the possibility that is
given.  But it may be justly argued that since as a matter of fact all
men sin, we cannot pretend that we are merely dealing with a theoretical
possibility, but must pronounce sin to be _de facto_ natural to man as
well as inevitable--for who has ever avoided it?  Let us observe what
follows: this, and no more, that sin is "natural" only in the sense in
which disease is "natural"--_viz._, as a disorder to which the human
frame may become subject, but nevertheless a disorder.  As physical
disease entails a diminution of physical life, so sin entails a
diminution of {162} our moral and spiritual life, an alienation of the
soul from God; and while anyone may thus choose to describe sin--the
wilful misuse of faculties lent us for other ends--as natural, it is
significant that the result of sin is quite _un_natural, _viz._, a state
of disunion between the soul and God.  So much is this the case that the
aim of all religion is to bring about a cessation of this unhappy state,
and to effect the healing of the discord created by man's transgression.
True religion treats sin, not as an error to be explained away, but as a
wall of partition to be broken down; the essential aim of religion is
atonement, man's reconciliation to God.

(2) But it is further urged that in historical retrospect, and in the
light of evolution, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in the
course of man's development from a savage and barbaric condition all
manner of ills--bloodshed, slavery, etc.--have been necessary stages; may
not, then, sin be claimed as constituting part of the Divine plan?  And
if such was the case once, may it not be the case still?  Here we are
dealing with a very obvious confusion; for while man is in a low and
undeveloped state, a good many acts which would be sins if committed by
people on a higher level, have not that character at all.  It is quite
impossible, _e.g._, to read the Homeric poems and find in them any trace
or indication that deceit, war and massacres are {163} regarded with so
much as moral distaste; the men of the Homeric age had simply not risen
to that moral height, and it would be futile to judge them by the
standards of a more advanced civilisation.  Undoubtedly, in its slow
evolution from sub-human origins, the race passes through long sub-moral
stages during which the animal instincts--"moods of tiger or of ape"--are
still in the ascendant; it is only gradually that man becomes aware of
certain practices with shame, disgust or remorse, and it is only then
that we can begin to speak of the indulgence of the passions which prompt
those practices as "sin."  When Paul calls the law the strength of sin,
or says that the law came in that the trespass might abound, he states a
truth, but sees it, if one may say so, out of focus; for the law was not
arbitrarily imposed in order to brand a multitude of harmless acts as
offences, but in proportion as the moral law is discerned by man's mind,
acts which formerly were merely non-moral begin to range themselves on
this side or that, as right and wrong.  True, even when our moral
perceptions have thus been quickened, we shall not always "rule our
province of the brute" with a strong hand--true also that, owing to our
earthly nature, "in many things we all stumble;" but so far from viewing
these failures complacently, they ought to spur us to more earnest
endeavours to leave our lower inheritance behind.  The truth {164}
concerning the "inevitableness" of sin was stated by our Lord when He
said, "It must needs be that occasions"--_viz._, of stumbling--"come; but
woe to that man through whom the occasion cometh."  Sin as such, as an
"occasion," is inevitable; but for any particular sin, for acting
contrarily to the known best, the individual is responsible--and greatest
of all is the responsibility of one who knowingly and of design becomes
an "occasion of stumbling" to another, making sin more difficult to
avoid, or positively inciting another to wrong-doing.  We do not forget
the inequalities of moral endowment, nor do we leave out of sight that a
temptation which for one man scarcely so much as exists may prove
well-nigh irresistible to another; but the judgment upon each is in the
wise and Fatherly hands of Him who knoweth our frame, and remembereth
that we are dust.

We have seen that Determinism, in spite of its humanitarian and even
optimistic pretensions, when it is consistently applied falsifies every
one of its promises; it is worth while to ask ourselves yet once more
what is likely to be the effect of this doctrine upon the characters of
those who seriously entertain it.  Mill, in his frigid and precise, yet
scrupulously just manner, expressed the opinion that

The free-will doctrine, by keeping in view precisely that portion of the
truth which the word necessity puts {165} out of sight, namely the power
of the mind to co-operate in the formation of its own character, has
given to its adherents a practical feeling much nearer to the truth than
has generally (I believe) existed in the minds of necessarians.  The
latter may have had a stronger sense of the importance of what human
beings can do as to shape the characters of one another; but the
free-will doctrine has, I believe, fostered in its supporters a much
stronger spirit of self-culture.[16]

If for "self-culture" we substituted self-reliance, buoyancy, a sense of
responsibility, we should scarcely go too far; for, indeed, it would be
difficult to say from what sources the consistent determinist is to
derive these qualities.  He regards himself as the inevitable product of
forces which have moulded him into that particular shape and no other; he
cannot help himself or change his character by one hair's-breadth; he
views his own life, as has been well said, not in the light of a story
which he can carry on as he may choose, but as a sum which must finish in
a given way; and his one dismal consolation is that he is not responsible
for his shortcomings.  He can but say with his favourite sage:--

  The Ball no question makes of Ayes and Noes,
  But Here or There as strikes the Player goes;
    And He that toss'd you down into the Field,
  He knows about it all--_He_ knows--HE knows!

But to believe that no effort can avail will certainly not inspire anyone
to make such an effort; on the contrary, the likelihood is only {166} too
great that such a belief will upon occasion serve as a welcome excuse for
not making it.  It has been said that Determinism, if not a very heroic
creed, will at any rate make for tolerance and charity towards human
failings; but nothing is more certain than that this kind of charity
will, in practice, begin--while its tendency will be also to end--at home.

This estimate, it is true, is often warmly challenged; in actual life, we
are told, many of those who profess determinist principles are notorious
for their strenuous moral calibre, and certainly not open to the charge
of laxity.  Let that statement be ungrudgingly accepted; what it proves
is no more than that prussic acid is entirely harmless--provided it is
not taken.  We are quite willing to admit that Determinism, provided it
is not put into practice, is nothing more than a mistaken theory.  So
long as men are content to be determinists in their studies and
libertarians everywhere else, no particular mischief is likely to ensue;
and it is matter of common experience, and for much congratulation, that
our theoretical determinists should so far obey the instinct of moral
self-preservation as to be for the most part practical libertarians,
freely pronouncing praise and blame on human conduct, and feeling praise-
and blameworthy themselves.  But if they were logical and consistent
determinists, they would do and feel no such thing; for the praise we
give to a {167} well-poised spring-cart is one thing, and the praise we
give to a well-poised character is another.  And again, given a man who
really believed, or whom it suited to believe, that he was quite
irresponsible for his actions, and that no morally valid censure could
attach to him for gratifying some appetite or passion, one cannot help
suspecting that the result would be something much worse than mere
laxity.  That most persons who argue in favour of Determinism do not act
up to its principles, is surely nothing in the doctrine's recommendation;
on the other hand there is always the unpleasant possibility that some
day they may begin to take their philosophy seriously.  And just as one
would not like prussic acid to lie about promiscuously where all and
sundry could have access to it, lest there should be a great deal of
accidental poisoning, so we are justified in viewing the broadcast
dissemination of determinist theory not merely with the antipathy one may
feel towards intellectual error, but with the apprehension excited by a
moral danger.  Every system or movement which involves the denial of evil
or of freedom--the denial or under-emphasis of sin--menaces not only
religion in the narrower sense, but the structure of civilisation itself.

The rock upon which all these theories make shipwreck is the fact that we
cannot abolish the reality of sin and leave the reality of {168} goodness
intact.  Saint and sinner, hero and coward, martyr and traitor, all, as
we have seen, are reduced by Determinism to a common level where there is
neither admiration nor censure, but at most a vague wonder at all the
unnecessary suffering--for _that_ at any rate remains real--involved in
this profoundly futile procession of phenomena; and that is a conclusion
to which humanity has always refused, and will always refuse, to
reconcile itself.  If we wish to see how utterly a deterministic
conception empties morality of meaning, we need only turn to the earthly
career of our Lord, and ask ourselves what it is that gives to that life
and death their poignant significance but the voluntariness with which
the Saviour took each successive step on the road from His native
Nazareth to the place called Calvary.  Think of Him simply as the product
of a compelling Force, unable to act otherwise than He did, and at one
stroke all that moved us to gratitude, to admiration, all that appealed
to us most deeply, is gone.  There can be no such thing as compulsory
heroism or non-voluntary self-sacrifice; moral judgments upon
"inevitable" conduct are merely absurd--we do not bestow moral approval
upon this kind of higher automatism.

Sometimes, indeed, in a connection like this, an attempt is made at some
sort of compromise: granted, it is said, that each separate action of
Christ's was voluntary, yet His life-purpose {169} as a whole was surely
pre-determined, and not left to Him to adopt or refuse.  Yet how
impossible, upon closer reflection, is this species of semi-Determinism!
Every single act of Jesus was voluntary; but His whole life and character
and purpose--which is just the sum-total of these single, voluntary
acts--these, we are to believe, were strictly necessitated.  He could
choose every step of a way which was yet absolutely chosen for Him, so
that He could tread no other!  A tremendous decision like His going to
Jerusalem lay within His power; but the aim and meaning of His life,
viewed as a whole, He had no power of voluntarily determining.  That, to
our mind, is a wholly irrational position; one might as reasonably say,
"Every link of this chain is golden; but the chain itself is iron."
Simple consistency requires the admission that if the chain is iron, so
must the links be, and if the links are golden, so must be the chain.

We say again--all that enshrines Jesus in our hearts, all that gives its
redemptive power to His love-prompted death, and its significance to
Calvary, rests upon the fact of His moral freedom.  He had _power_ to lay
down His life; therein lay the glory of His self-surrender.  He was,
indeed, God's instrument in effecting the reconciliation of sinners to
the Divine Love, but it rested with Him to decide whether He would be
that instrument or no, and the course He chose was not that of {170}
mechanical necessity, nor was the decision to which He came a following
in the line of least resistance.  In accepting the pain and shame of the
Cross, Jesus worked His Father's will; but that will was not imposed upon
Him from without, but freely responded to from within.  As the author of
the _Theologia Germanica_ has it, a man should strive "to be to the
Eternal Goodness what his hand is to a man": but all the ultimate
splendour of the achievement is bound up with the initial possibility of
the striving.  Not only the yearning love of God, but the conquering
freedom of Man is finally attested by that blood-red seal which bears the
impressure of a Cross.

[1] So _e.g._, _In The Theology of Civilisation_, by Charles F. Dole, p.

[2] _The Coming People_, by the same author, p. 49.

[3] _The Over-Emphasis of Sin_, by the Rev. Alexander Brown, in the
_Hibbert Journal_, April, 1909, p. 616.

[4] _The Theology of Civilisation_, p. 61.  It would, of course, have
been easy to give references from other authors; but there is an
extraordinary family-likeness between the writers of this School,
extending down to the very phrasing of their ideas.

[5] _A Study of Religion_, vol. ii., pp. 166, 179.

[6] _Theology of Civilisation_, p. 129.

[7] The Rev. Alexander Brown, _loc. cit._, p. 619; italics ours.

[8] Dole, _op. cit._, p. 101.

[9] The analogy of the tyro and the expert chess-player--the tyro "free,"
yet the expert foreseeing and holding the issue of the game in his own
hands--is only superficially plausible.  There seems, however, one other
possible explanatory hypothesis, though it is here advanced only in the
most tentative manner: may it not be possible for the Most High to impose
a limitation upon His infinite knowledge corresponding to that
self-limitation of His infinite power which we regard as a necessary
assumption?  It would be difficult on _a priori_ grounds to declare such
a thing to be inconceivable.  When Paul spoke of himself as "determined
not to know anything save Jesus Christ," he signified his intention of
shutting out from his knowledge whole ranges of facts, for reasons
dictated by the purpose he had in hand; and as a matter of every-day
experience, we all practise something like this habitually, voluntarily
narrowing the range of our consciousness and our immediate interests for
one cause and another.  Might not God, if the reality of our freedom
could not be guaranteed in any other way, and if that freedom was
necessary for the attainment of His purpose with man, forbear in some
measure, however slight, to exercise His omniscience?  We are well aware
that the subject admits of nothing more than reverent surmise; and having
stated our suggestion, we simply leave it with the reader as one of those
possibilities which will appeal differently to different minds.

[10] _Types of Ethical Theory_, vol. ii., pp. 31 ff.

[11] _Spinoza_, p. 195.

[12] Cp. _Pantheism_, p. 74.

[13] _Spinoza_, p. 196.

[14] In _Mind_, October, 1893; quoted in Professor Upton's invaluable
Hibbert Lectures on _The Bases of Religious Belief_, p. 293, n.

[15] It may be interesting to quote a recent popular statement of the
neo-Hegelian position in regard to this question: "The feeling that we
are free is true in this sense, that the cause of a moral deed is a
motive within us, and not some power outside us.  But this motive moves
us because of what we are, because of our characters, and the character
is the product of inherited instincts, appetites and passions, modified
by controlling ideas which have been acquired since our birth.  Mr.
Blatchford is so far right in his book, _Not Guilty_.  The inward and
outward conditions of a man's life, of course, _make him what he is
inevitably_.  We choose, but our choice is governed by all our past, and
by present circumstances. . .  We have our ancestors rolled up in us.  A
man is the last result of the universe.  All is law.  All is inevitable
by the laws of life:"  (The Rev. G. T. Sadler, B.A., LL.B., in the
_Clarion_, June 11th, 1909).  That, of course, is not liberty at all; and
the logical honours appear to rest with Mr. Blatchford, who, arguing on
the same assumptions, declares sin to be a meaningless term, seeing that
"man is not responsible for his nature, nor for the acts prompted by that

[16] _System of Logic_, vol. ii., p. 412 (third edition).




That minimising or denial of moral evil with which we dealt in the
preceding pages, is common to, and follows as the corollary from, all
systems in which the personality and transcendence of God are either
explicitly denied or virtually ignored.  Monism, that is to
say,--whether of the idealistic or the materialistic variety, whether
pantheist or atheist in complexion--finds its ethical counterpart in

There are, however, in our pathetically restless age a number--probably
a growing number--of serious men and women who attack the problem from
the opposite end.  Weary of speculation, and leaning on the whole to
the side of negation rather than affirmation in matters of theology,
they say that one thing at any rate is left, a certainty of which no
one can deprive them, an ideal sufficient to inspire mankind--the
supreme worthiness of the good life.  While the creeds of the Churches
divide their respective adherents from each other, here, they tell us,
is a basis upon which all can unite, and which therefore {172} should
assuredly prove adequate and attractive; nay, since religion is valued
for the kind of life it produces--since the tree is judged neither by
its name, nor age, nor foliage, but simply and solely by its
fruit--shall we not say that morality itself is the true and only
religion, that residuum of valid and vital truth which remains when all
the errors of supernaturalism have been purged and filtered away?
Certainly there are those in our own day who, while definitely
rejecting the sanctions and authority of religion in its commonly
accepted meaning, are fully convinced that to live an unselfish life is
a duty incumbent on man, and who honestly endeavour to practise what
they believe.  That being so, is not faith shown to be practically
superfluous, and the autonomy and sufficiency of ethics a demonstrated

Such, in short, is the contention of the Ethical Movement, so ably and
often eloquently represented by leaders like Felix Adler, W. M. Salter,
Washington Sullivan, Stanton Coit, and others; all these teachers with
one accord deprecate and dismiss theological doctrines as at best not
proven, at worst a hindrance, and commend instead morality as the
all-embracing, all-sufficing  and  all-saving religion.  To quote Mr.
Salter, who certainly speaks with authority for his side:--

A religion that will teach us how to live, that will hold up clear and
high the laws of life and win us to obedience {173} to them--this is
the religion the world needs, and it is the only true religion; all
others, all that seek to make something else sacred, that make men put
their trust in "God" or Christ or the Virgin or the Bible or the Church
or its sacraments and rites, are a diverting of man from the real
issue; they are the blind leading of the blind; they are a delusion and
a snare.[1]

Mr. Salter is, indeed, willing to show "charity" for the belief "that
the authority of the right is in some way connected with God"; but it
is the charity that may be extended to an exploded superstition on
account of certain beneficent associations that cling to it.  "If by
the term 'God,'" he says,[2] "was meant simply the reason and nature of
things, it might perhaps be freely used; but the word means something
else to most persons"--and therefore the honest ethicist will not
employ it.  For this sensible and candid course we cannot but feel
thankful; Mr. Salter at any rate knows well enough that there is all
the difference between "the reason and nature of things"--between a
mere "totality of being"--and a personal God.

We cannot disguise from ourselves that the present juncture is in many
respects singularly favourable to the ethical movement; to not a few
who have lost their earlier faith and feel the need of something to
take its place, Ethicism will seem to meet that want, and they will
accordingly give a wistful, grateful {174} hearing to what Mr. Salter
and his colleagues have to preach.  Probably, indeed, it will be people
of a higher than the average intellectual and moral calibre who will
seek to fill the void left by Agnosticism by embracing "morality as a
religion"; and more particularly is this likely to happen when this
cult has for its apostles, men of high character and gracious
personality.  It is for that very reason that we are bound to examine
this plea carefully, and to ask ourselves whether it is really
possible, as we are assured, "by purely natural and human means to help
men to love, know, and do the right." [3]  The issue is no less than a
momentous one; for if religion, as generally understood, is a mere
graceful superfluity when it is not "a delusion and a snare," very vast
changes are bound to follow the recognition of such a fact.  Dr. Coit
may be a little premature in making his voluminous arrangements for the
adaptation of the Established Church and the Book of Common Prayer to
the uses of ethical religion; but if ethicists can convince us of the
validity of their claims, then we must look forward to the fruitful
service of man taking the place of the fruitless service of God.

Now the first remark we have to make is that as a matter of fact and of
history a high morality has never made its appearance apart {175} from
religion.  Such as they are, our moral code and moral standards at
their best are the product of the Christian faith; the ethical movement
has neither evolved a morality of its own, nor has it anything better
to put in the place of that which we owe to Christianity.  Such
suggestions of alleged defects in the ethics of the Gospel as are
brought forward by Mr. Salter--_e.g._, that Jesus lacked "a scientific
sense of cause and effect"; that He failed to inculcate "intellectual
scrupulousness and honesty"; that we cannot go to Him for "political
conceptions" and "industrial ethics," and so forth--strike one as
palpably trivial, irrelevant, and made to order;[4] and leaving these
not very imposing criticisms on one side, it is simply a fact that the
highest laws of life were declared by Jesus Christ, and have never been
superseded.  And since ethicists have nothing better to propose in the
domain of conduct than what we find in the Gospel--since the "higher
law," as formulated by Mr. Salter, reduces itself to altruism versus
living for self--there is nothing harsh in saying that the ethical
movement proposes merely to take over Christian morality minus its
Christian setting.  If a simile may be allowed, we should say that this
new firm has no goods of its own manufacture; it intends to trade with
the stock, and hopes to take over the goodwill, of the old.  {176}
Whether that is a feasible _modus operandi_ is another question, at
which we shall glance presently; for the moment we would simply insist
upon the fact that hitherto at any rate the ultimate sanction of
morality has always been the _religious_ sanction.  The Churches, in
basing morality on religion, can at any rate point to some actual
achievements in the past; on the other hand those who maintain that
morality is independent of religious belief, and that human conduct
will actually rise to a higher level when this truth is recognised,
must pardon us if we tell them that they are merely issuing promissory
notes which may or may not be honoured when they fall due.  A certain
extremely important thing has been done--we will not say perfectly, but
nevertheless done--in a certain way and by certain means for a very
long time; anyone who assures us that he will accomplish the same
important thing for us without the means which we have hitherto deemed
indispensable, can hardly be surprised if we reply that while we do not
doubt his entire good faith, we cannot possibly content ourselves with
his bare promises in so vital a matter.

But when we say this, we shall at once be met with the rejoinder that
it is manifestly unfair to argue as if Ethicism were all promise and no
performance.  Are there not plenty of kindly, conscientious,
well-conducted agnostics who might serve as models to some of {177}
their Church-going neighbours?  And have we not already referred to
some of the ethical teachers themselves as men of high character and
gracious personality?  All this may be very readily admitted; but all
this has not an atom of bearing upon the matter in hand.  The question
really is not whether certain avowed agnostics are not as good men as
certain professing Christians; but whether the moral excellences of the
good agnostic are the _product_, the fruit, of agnosticism, in the same
sense in which the virtues of the Christian are the _product_ of
Christianity.  The answer to that question must be unhesitatingly in
the negative.  There is no disputing the historical fact that the force
which has been most potent in building up our Western civilisation is
none other than Christianity; the ethics which have shaped and guided
right conduct through all these centuries are Christian ethics.  Think
as we will about dogma, few will feel competent to contest Lecky's
verdict, when the historian of Rationalism and of European Morals
declares that Christianity "has been the main source of moral
development in Europe"; we know what this religion has done, because
its actual record is open to inspection.  To quote Lecky again,
"Christianity has produced more heroic actions and formed more upright
men than any other creed."  Now Agnosticism has not created its own
moral system; agnostic morality at its {178} highest has so far grown
in Christian soil, and to say that the flower will continue to grow in
quite a different soil is to make a very bold and very hazardous
prophecy.  In the West we have never had anything like an agnostic
civilisation, which would allow us to test the effects of non-belief
upon conduct on a large scale; in the East, it is true, Japan offers us
something like an agnostic civilisation, but those who are best
acquainted with that nation are least inclined to exalt her
performances in the domain of ethics.  Japanese commercial morality is
notoriously low; while Japan's dealings with Korea have called forth
the unmeasured denunciations of European eyewitnesses.  The material
advances and military exploits of this virtually agnostic nation must
not blind us to other and less admirable features; it would, indeed,
seem that this highly-gifted race, while frantically eager to "gain the
whole world," has not yet discovered its own soul, and the familiar
question, "What shall it profit?" inevitably suggests itself.

But not only has Agnosticism so far not grown its own morality; there
is yet another consideration which leads us to listen with a certain
measure of scepticism to the assurances of those who say that right
conduct will survive though religion be surrendered.  It has perhaps
not been generally observed that just as the virtuous agnostic is
generally the child of Christian parents, so by a seeming irony he is
{179} often found to be the father of Christian children: there is
hardly a genuine case on record where "free-thought," Agnosticism,
Rationalism, has descended from parents to children to the third or
fourth generation without a break, and the practical non-existence of
such cases proves something of real and great importance.  It has been
said that pure-bred Londoners die out in three generations at most,
unless new blood from the country is brought in to replenish their
failing vital power.  If unbelief shows the same incapacity to
propagate itself by natural descent--if the descendants of unbelievers
show a marked tendency to "revert to type," _i.e._, to religion--such a
fact suggests only one adequate explanation, _viz._, the instinct of
self-preservation, a return to the soil which made the growth of the
flower possible.  The virtues of the agnostic may be not unfairly
compared to cut flowers, which may continue to shed their perfume for
awhile, but are bound to fade before long.  Our agnostic ethicists,
being themselves the products of a Christian civilisation, may commend,
approve and practise--they may _wear_ the Christian virtues; that those
virtues will bear transplanting into an agnostic soil and flourish in
an agnostic climate is a highly dubious proposition.  We can only say
that available experience seems to be against it.  The Christian
morality implies the Christian religion which has created it; as for
the {180} high-minded, altruistic individual agnostic, he must simply
be pronounced a credit to Christianity.

We say "the high-minded _individual_ agnostic," because candour compels
us to go on to state that generally speaking those who have thrown
religion to the winds hardly strike one as standing on a particularly
high ethical level.  One can only go by facts; and the facts are that
the frequenters of the betting-ring, the dram-shop, the light-minded,
pleasure-seeking throng that flutters from amusement to amusement
without any interest in life's serious duties--these are hardly drawn
from the Church-going strata of society.  Religion says "no" to this
whole mode of life; and unbelief is most frequently, and in its most
typical forms, found where the restraints of religion have proved too
irksome to be tolerated.  Before arguing in the abstract that morality
is independent of religion, and will be advanced by its abandonment, it
would perhaps be better to observe the average, concrete case of the
man who has cut himself adrift from religious beliefs and influences;
then it will be time to decide whether we should like to see the
experiment tried on a national scale.  It is easy to theorise _in
vacuo_; in practice we are well aware that without the sanctions and
the guardianship of religion morality tends to sink to the level where
the accepted motto is the hedonist's "Let us eat and drink and be
merry, for to-morrow we die."


But at this point another objection will be raised; "surely," it is
said, "we do not seriously maintain that men are kind to their
families, honest in their every-day transactions, truthful in speech,
and so forth, merely because they believe that to do so is to act in
accordance with Divine injunction, and that if this belief were
suddenly destroyed we should be reduced to moral chaos."  But this
argument, so frequently met with in this connection, misapprehends the
real issue.  We do not dispute that the elements of moral conduct begin
to be inculcated wherever there is any social life at all.  Where there
is any living together, complete selfishness is impossible; there must
come into being a rough law of give-and-take, a recognition of mutual
rights to be respected, a certain loyalty from the individual towards
the tribe, which in turn befriends and defends each of its members.
Quite a number of rudimentary virtues are thus developed by the force
of public opinion, which cannot tolerate flagrantly anti-social acts
from one member of the community towards the rest; murder, violence,
theft, false witness--these and the like offences are suppressed with a
strong hand, without the need of a special supernatural revelation to
decree "Thou shalt not."  To be brief, there is no doubt that this
social pressure is powerful enough to insist upon behaviour which will
regulate most of the ordinary relationships of life in a fairly {182}
satisfactory manner--_i.e._, relationships between equals or members of
the same community.  The latter is a highly important qualification;
where purely natural sanctions obtain, equal rights might be enjoyed by
all _bona fide_ members of the tribe, but the same rights would not
necessarily extend to an alien.  And even within the community governed
by such sanctions the weaker, and especially the weakest, did not rank
as equals; among the most highly civilised nations of antiquity, the
Greeks and Romans, infanticide and exposure flourished--indeed, as
Lecky points out,[5] by the ideal legislations of Plato and Aristotle,
and by the actual legislations of Lycurgus and Solon, infanticide was
positively enjoined.  Nothing can be more significant than to find in
the _Self-Tormentor_ of Terence the very character who expresses the
noble sentiment, "I am a man, and deem nothing that is human alien from
me," giving instructions that if the child that is to be born to him
should be a girl, it is to be put to death.  The public opinion of an
enlightened and cultured paganism countenanced such deeds without
reproach; it was Christianity, or rather He who said, "Suffer the
little children to come unto Me," that put a stop to these barbarities.

The point which we wish to establish is this: that while "evolutional
ethics" and natural {183} sanctions will carry us a certain way, they
will certainly not carry us all the way; indeed, the moment we come to
the higher reaches of character, these sanctions are seen to be quite
inadequate.  Why, _e.g._, should the conviction be born in man, and
become a governing conviction, that he must under no circumstances
commit a certain act, though to do so would be easy and advantageous,
and detection not to be feared?  Why should the moral consciousness of
the higher races accept the principle which places self-sacrifice above
self-seeking?  There is only one explanation for this paradoxical
phenomenon: it is that, as men rise in the moral scale, there dawns on
them the sense of a law that is not of this world, an _Ought-to-be_,
which speaks with a strange authority, and will not be denied; and when
this authority is properly interpreted, it reveals a Righteous and
Sovereign Will to which we owe unconditional obedience.

And here we may quote in support some significant words of Mr.
Salter's--words whose full significance, we venture to think, that able
and distinguished writer hardly realised when he penned them: "_The
whole meaning of ethics is in the sense of an invisible authority; to
bow to custom, to public opinion or to law, is moral idolatry._" [6]
"Whatever else I may doubt about, I cannot doubt the law of duty--that
there is a right and a wrong; that the {184} right obliges me, that I
ought to do it. . . .  The law is over all, though it were never
obeyed. . . .  Ethics is nothing but the response which man and man
make to the higher order of things. . . .  Ecstasy is the grace heaven
sets upon the moment in which the soul weds itself to the perfect
good." [7]  Let us see what is implied in these truly remarkable
statements.  The real sanctions of moral conduct are not the sanctions
of expediency or force, but are derived from a higher law, an invisible
authority; the finest morality is man's free response to a higher
order.  But, we ask, what is this higher order, this note of command,
but the expression of a higher Will?  And how can there be a higher
Will without a Higher Personality, a God who impresses His law upon us
and makes us aspire after the ideal good?  Mr. Salter explicitly denies
that the moral virtues come "from below, from prudence, from the sense
of decency, from longsighted selfishness; they who think so," he
declares, in a fine burst, "never breathed the climate of morality."
[8]  But if not from below, they must come from above; and this "above"
really must be something more than an atmospheric conception.  Will Mr.
Salter help us to determine its nature more clearly?  He says, "The
Mighty Power, hid from our gaze by the thin screen of nature and of
nature's laws . . . is {185} with our struggles after a perfect right"
[9]; _but if this Mighty Power_, which is not so much expressed as
hidden by nature's laws--which therefore transcends nature--_is in the
highest sense moral, how can it be less than personal_?  It is this
Power which, according to our author, gives us the vision of the ideal,
this Power which sets the mark of its approval upon our surrender to
its behests, this Power which manifests its character in doing justice
upon individuals and nations alike, weeding out the selfish, the
wanton, the luxurious, and preserving the pure and upright; may we not
ask what reason there is for withholding from that Power the one
adequate name of God?[10]

Let us pursue and emphasise this thought a little further.  Already we
have seen that--_teste_ Mr. Salter--the highest ethics require our
belief in a mighty, transcendent and benevolent Power; that admission
means nothing less than the surrender of naturalism {186} in morals--it
is an acknowledgment that ultimately a true ethic involves and
presupposes a metaphysic.  Indeed, when Mr. Salter speaks of ethical
religion, the same implication is there.  Religion signifies a living
and personal relationship between the worshipper and the object of his
worship: we can stand in such a relationship to a living, personal God,
in harmony with whose will alone we are able to find our true
happiness; we cannot stand in such a relationship to an impersonal
power or a universal order.  Mr. Salter speaks of man "bending hushed
and subdued, as he thinks of those mighty laws on which the health and
safety of the race depends," and calls that a religion; we submit that
so far as such an emotion is religious, it means that behind those
mighty laws there stands a mighty Lawgiver, whom we worship and seek to
obey because He is good.  We can keep a law, we can conform to it so as
to escape hurt, but we cannot worship it except when we conceive of it
as the manifestation of a good Will; neither can we derive moral
stimulus from an abstract ideal.  It is when the ideal speaks in us and
to us as the behest of the Living God--above all, when it stands before
us incarnated, made actual in the Son of God--that it becomes dynamic,
drawing and uplifting and transforming men into the Divine likeness.
We are not greatly helped by such a statement as that the bare idea of
morality, {187} quite apart from faith in God, "may be the supreme
passion to a man"; we have to deal with things as they are, and in
actual life we well know that the most commonplace presentation of the
Gospel has been more of a force in the making of character and as an
inspiration to righteousness than the most refined philosophical

And now let us show, from yet another point of view, as we think may be
done quite simply and cogently, that it is impossible rationally to get
away from the theistic position if we are in earnest about morality,
viewed as the pursuit of the ideal.  In order to engage in such a
pursuit, we must in the first place be free agents, able to choose
between conflicting motives and to follow the right.  If our actions
are necessitated, then to speak of our "pursuing" this or that course,
choosing and rejecting, is of course a mere contradiction in terms.
But if the universe, including ourselves, is simply the resultant
outcome of the interaction of unconscious mechanical forces, freewill
is an absolute illusion, and Determinism the only true theory; and
again, if Determinism is true, we cannot choose, we cannot strive--in a
word, we cannot help being what we are.  Hence, if morality in any
intelligible sense is to exist at all, we must be free; and only a
personal and transcendent God could have conferred on us the faculty of


We pass on to one or two final considerations.  One of our ethicists,
who genially informs us that "theology is discredited . . . and the
world is indifferent to what the Church either thinks or says," writes
as follows: "The Ethical Movement believes that the good life has an
imperative claim upon us because of its supreme worth for humanity."
[11]  As against this statement we have no hesitation in affirming that
only religion, in the accepted sense of the term, can give us the
absolute conviction of the absolute supremacy of moral claims--the
assurance that it were better to suffer, to hunger, to be despised and
rejected of men, to die on a cross, than to violate one of these.
Grant that the good life is of supreme worth for humanity; yet
supposing a man is sorely tempted to obtain some immense advantage or
to gratify some consuming passion, at the cost of injuring someone
else--suppose he can do so with safety and success--why should he
prefer humanity's interests to his own?  Why, indeed?  We make bold to
say that no one in the throes of conflict between duty and desire, at
the moment of moral crisis, has ever been influenced by the worth of
his action for humanity.  The ultimate sanction of right conduct must
be drawn from a Source beyond humanity, which enjoins the right at all
costs--from Him who is humanity's Maker and Ruler.


And the same fact is borne witness to by the experience which waits
upon wilful wrong-doing, by the sense of sin.  Such an emotion can
never be inspired by an impersonal order with which we have come into
conflict, but only by a personal Will against which we are conscious of
having offended.  The man who disregards the law of gravitation and
falls from a ladder, experiences one kind of painful sensation; but the
man who disregards the law of righteousness and falls into sin,
experiences quite a different kind of painful sensation--the sensation,
not of self-pity, but of self-accusation and remorse, because it is
God's holiness against which he has transgressed; and that feeling
finds utterance age after age in the agonised cry, "Against Thee, Thee
only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight."

The truth is, those who claim to set up morality as a religion, while
declaring "the personal Deity of theology illusory," are engaged in an
impossible task; and it is because of the inherent hopelessness of
their enterprise that we must raise our voice in warning to any who may
be tempted to put faith in their fair promises.  The ethicist's
intentions are admirable; but he sets about their realisation in a
manner which dooms him and them to failure.  Let us have practice
without theory, he says, the superstructure without the foundation, the
fruit without the root, works without the {190} faith which produces
works: and such being the nature of his undertaking, he fares
accordingly, a spectacle of ineffectual goodness, wondering why the
world declines to listen to his so reasonable gospel.  But the world
continues to cling to an ultra-rational Gospel because it is
instinctively aware that morality rests upon ultra-rational sanctions.
Ethicism may borrow from Christianity the doctrine of the brotherhood
of man, but it has no explanation to give of the basis supporting that
axiom--why we ought to regard each human being as having certain
indefeasible claims upon us, so that we may not treat him as a mere
means subserving our ends.  That position can never be defended on
purely natural grounds; in the last analysis the brotherhood of man has
a right to be accepted as true only by those who believe in the
Fatherhood of God.

In conclusion, as all true morality pre-supposes religion, so it is
only religion which can supply the strongest incentive and
encouragement to the good life; for it is religion alone which has the
promise that the Good shall and must prevail, that the stars in their
courses are fighting on the side of right and truth, and that it shall
be well or ill with us according as we range ourselves on that side or
in opposition to it.  Take away the idea of a God whose will is that
righteousness shall triumph, that life shall be lord of death, and
{191} love victorious over all, and we have no guarantee but that all
the efforts and sacrifices of martyr and reformer may be in vain, and
the hope of the world a delusion.  It is only the believer who can
never despair, who knows that his work will endure and enrich the
world--that there will be no collapse or final disarray, that the world
is no blot nor blank, but means intensely and means good.  It is that
faith which makes endeavour and surrender worth while; that faith--the
assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen--which
alone gives us a right to sing Felix Adler's noble hymn:--

  And the work that we have builded,
    Oft with bleeding hands and tears,
  Oft in error, oft in anguish,
    Will not perish with our years,
  It will rise and shine transfigured
    In the final reign of light;
  It will pass into the splendours
    Of the City of the Light.

For the assurance which breathes in these lines rests on a previous,
deeper assurance: it is that which the Christian expresses in the
words, "_If God be for us, who is against us?_"

[1] _Ethical Religion_, p. 48.

[2] _Ibid_, p. 39.

[3] See _A Few Points about Ethical Societies_, a tract issued by the
Union of Ethical Societies.

[4] _Ethical Religion_, pp. 81, 84, 86, 89; for a concise treatment of
this subject the reader may be referred to the present writer's _Jesus
or Christ_? chapter iv.

[5] _History of European Morals_, ii., p. 26.

[6] _Op. cit._, p. 38.

[7] _Ibid._ pp. 16-18.

[8] _Op. cit._, p. 17.

[9] _Ibid._, p. 57.

[10] "If for the word 'God' you read the 'universal life,'" writes the
Rev. R. J. Campbell, "you have at once gained the ear of every
high-minded thinking man to whom you appeal."  (_The Christian
Commonwealth_, April 14th, 1909.)  Are we, then, to understand that if
we want to appeal to high-minded thinking men, we must drop the term
"God" and substitute for it, as being less offensive to these higher
thinkers, some non-committal phrase like "universal life?"  We say
quite frankly that we are not prepared to pay such a price for making
such a successful appeal; for the "universal life"--just because it is
universal and all-embracing--is no more "good" than "bad"--it has no
moral character, and hence can exercise no moral authority, nor
generate any moral enthusiasm.

[11] _What the Ethical Movement is_, by Harry Snell.




In the opening chapters of this book we had occasion once or twice to ask
ourselves in passing how the new emphasis on the doctrine of Divine
immanence was likely to affect the question of prayer; in turning now to
a more direct treatment of the latter subject, this is again the first
and most important query we shall have to consider.  Truth, as we all
know, is a "_mean_"--it represents a balance between opposing extremes;
what is, however, not always recognised is that the extremes are not
necessarily equidistant from the true centre, and there are cases when it
is of the greatest importance to discern which of them is nearer and
which more remote from the truth.  In the present instance we have
insisted all along that of the two possible extremes of Deism and
Pantheism the former, with its exclusive insistance upon God's
transcendence, is not only more intelligible but far more true than the
latter, with its one-sided stress on His immanence; for, as we previously
expressed it, in the exercise of religion it is the transcendent God
{193} with whom we are concerned.  In fact, Deism may be a very faulty
type of religion, theoretically considered; but Pantheism is religion's
practical annihilation.  It is not for nothing that in Persia, _e.g._,
the name of _Sufi_--in theory a pantheistic believer in the identity of
the worshipper with his Deity--signifies in current use not a mystic, but
a freethinker!

So far as the religious _life_ is concerned, we repeat that Deism is the
lesser error and the lesser danger; and nowhere is this more closely
brought home to us than when we consider the reality and the meaning of
prayer.  For however far-off God may be thought to be, it has never been
suggested that the voice of prayer is not able to travel across the
distance--He may "hear us in heaven, His dwelling-place, and when He
heareth, forgive;" but if His presence is so universally diffused that we
ourselves form part of it, we shall hardly know to whom or to what to
address ourselves in the act of adoration.  We can pray to a Deity
conceived as solely transcendent, but not to a Deity conceived as solely
immanent, _i.e._, as the Sum of Being.  A vague "cosmic emotion" differs
_toto coelo_ from worship; we cannot worship that which includes us, for
if we did we should be indulging in self-worship, and as for prayer, we
could no more seriously offer it to the universe than to the atmosphere.
This point cannot be too clearly realised.  Prayer is the soul's
communion with God; but if the soul is an {194} integral constituent of
God, a mode or phase of the Divine Being, then this communion, being
already an accomplished and unalterable fact, cannot be so much as
desired, still less does it need to be brought about by prayer or any
other means whatsoever.  Nothing could be more instructive in this
connection than what is apparently a favourite illustration with those
for whom immanence is only a synonym for Monism, and which likens the
relation of God to the individual soul to that subsisting between the
ocean and some individual bay: "the hundred bays and gulfs and creeks
that succeed each other round the island," we read, "_are in the ocean,
and the ocean is in them._" [1]  Now let us see what this means.  There
may be the most urgent necessity for digging channels to connect a
reservoir with the sea, so that it may be filled with its fulness; but it
would be absurd to speak of opening up or renewing communication between
bay and ocean--a communication whose uninterrupted nature is implied in
the very terms of the image.  On such an interpretation of immanence,
prayer in any real sense is either superfluous or impossible; for if no
one hopeth for that which he {195} seeth, neither would any one in his
senses seek to bring to pass a condition of things which is thought to be
already existing.  Here we see once more the unbridgeable gulf between
every form of "idealistic Monism"--Eastern or Western--and Christianity;
for while, _e.g._, "the central idea of Indian piety is meditation, the
absorption of the individual in the life-spirit, the experience of
identity with the universality and oneness of the Godhead," on the other
hand "Christianity is the religion of prayer--prayer is its crown and its
pearl." [2]

That is really the crux of the whole matter; prayer must be conceived as
an active intercourse between the worshipper and a Person other than
himself, who is the object of his worship.  It is not a soliloquy--what
the Germans expressively call a _Selbstgespräch_, or "self-talk"; it is
not a monologue, but a dialogue; it is not a mere contemplation, but
addressed to Someone who is thought of as willing to listen and able to
answer.  As Sabatier has well said, "_Prayer is religion in act; that is,
prayer is real religion_."  Wherever men believe in a personal God, as
distinct from an "all-inclusive consciousness of being" of which they are
fleeting expressions--mere surface ripples on an infinite ocean--that
belief will attest itself by the prayerful life.  On the other hand, a
prayerless religion is a contradiction in terms; it either has no needs
to express or {196} it will die from lack of self-expression.  The
believer will pray from a sense of inner necessity, coupled with the
instinctive assurance that the need of which he is conscious will thus,
and thus only, meet with its satisfaction.  "The genuineness of
religion"--to quote Professor William James--"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." [3]

Is there, then, or is there not, something "genuinely transacted" in the
experience of prayer?  A transaction, _ex hypothesi_, can only take place
between two parties; it implies two volitional centres.  And,
furthermore, what is it that is transacted?  Is prayer only a very noble
form of auto-suggestion--are its effects merely subjective, or are they
also objective?  These are problems which could hardly be said to exist
for an earlier age; to the modern mind they are intensely real, and press
for answers.  It must be recognised at once that the idea of God as
immanent in nature, expressing Himself in those observed uniformities to
which we give the name of natural laws, creates difficulties of its own
in regard to this subject; for if these laws show forth His will, is it
even thinkable that our formulated desires could move Him to depart from
what we might speak of as His original {197} intention?  His will is
either the absolutely best or it is not; if it is, why pray that He may
modify it?  If it is not, is He not less than perfectly good, since His
design admits of improvement?  Can we conceive of Him as doing something
in answer to a human petition which He would not do apart from such a
petition?  Can we think of Him as being prevailed upon by our assiduities
and importunities to alter His decrees--is not this whole notion rather
paltry and derogatory to His dignity?  Everybody is familiar with these
questions and arguments; let us see in what proportion truth and error
are combined in them.

(1) A good deal of unnecessary difficulty arises in the first place from
the habitual failure of many people to bear in mind that though God is
immanent in the cosmos, He is not _only_ immanent; as soon as His
transcendence is realised, it is seen that there exists no _a priori_
reason against the possibility of what from our point of view would look
like Divine interpositions in the ordinary course of nature.  We have, it
must be remembered, not the slightest grounds for assuming that there can
be no departures from the uniformities of nature, nor are we in a
position to state dogmatically that no imaginable conditions would ever
furnish an adequate reason for such a departure.  Admitting that the
regular processes observed in the physical universe represent something
of the Divine mode of action, we have no {198} warrant for maintaining
that these are the only modes of such action; probability, in effect, is
all the other way.  "Lo, these are but the outskirts of His ways; and how
small a whisper do we hear of Him!  _But the thunder of His power who can
understand?_"  A transcendent God is _eo ipso_ not limited to such
methods as we happen to have caught a glimpse or a whisper of.

(2) But when this is clearly understood, it has on the other hand to be
as frankly admitted--indeed, it is stating the obvious to say--that in
modern times the idea of the uniformity of nature has obtained such a
hold upon the general educated mind as renders any breach of that order
far more improbable to us than it could have appeared to a pre-scientific
generation.  All physical science rests, broadly speaking, upon the
assumption that nature acts uniformly; without saying that it must be so,
we are well assured that it is so, because all observation and experiment
are found to bear out the truth of the principle we have assumed.  All we
have learned concerning nature excludes the notion that there is anything
haphazard or arbitrary in her ways.  We do not feel at all as though the
action of natural forces might be suspended or modified for our
particular benefit, and hence certain ideas of the efficacy of
prayer--_e.g._, for rain or fine weather--have become impossible for us
to entertain with the ease of our ancestors.  We start with a mental
attitude--hardly {199} to be called a prejudice, since it is based upon a
large body of experience--of profound assurance that in matters like
these the will of God finds its expression in the unbroken operation of
His ordinary laws, "without variableness or shadow of turning"; most
people, moreover, would acknowledge that it is better that these laws
should be stable and capable of being learned and depended upon than that
the Divine will should be incalculable--_ondoyant et divers_--a matter of
moods on His side and of importunity on ours.  Tennyson's familiar lines
represent the typically modern outlook with the utmost accuracy and

  God is Law, say the wise; O soul, and let us rejoice[1]
  For if He thunder by law, the thunder is yet His Voice.

(3) And while the scientific temper of the present day could not fail to
affect our thoughts concerning prayer in some directions, the same has
surely to be said about the ethical temper of the age, as shown in our
enlarged conceptions of God.  To put it bluntly, much of the language
about what used to be called "special providences" has become unreal and
ceased to be edifying for us.  On this whole subject some words of
Principal Adeney's can hardly be bettered:--

Under the old theory God had His favourites who were saved by
hair-breadth escapes, in accidents that were fatal to persons who were
not the objects of "special providences"; this was supposed to account
for the fact that one man in particular found that somebody else {200}
had taken the last berth in the ship he had meant to sail by, and so
escaped the fate of the crew and passengers when it went down with all on
board--no "special providence" saving them.  It looks like a reflection
of the pagan mythological tales about heroes rescued by the timely
interference of gods and goddesses in battles where thousands of common
mortals perish unheeded.  It is the aristocratic idea of privilege
carried up to religion.  The newer view is more democratic, and it seems
to agree better with our Lord's assurance that not a sparrow falls to the
ground without our Father's notice, that the very hairs of our heads are
all numbered.[4]

All this has its direct bearing upon the subject of prayer.  We may still
be occasionally regaled with stories of one solitary sailor being
saved--Providence looking after him in response to his mother's
petitions--while every other soul on board was drowned; but these
narratives, once irresistible in the impression they created, are to-day
received with somewhat mixed feelings.  The view of God's character which
they inculcate is apt to strike us as unsatisfactory; that He should
avert a great and presumedly unmerited physical calamity from one
individual simply and solely because He has been asked to do so by some
other individual, while allowing the same calamity to overtake numerous
others no more deserving of affliction, does not fit in with our
conception of Him.  We are slowly learning to substitute for the notion
of any kind of preferential treatment at the hand of God a belief in the
unchanging goodness of His decrees, in the wisdom of His counsel, {201}
and in the reality of His abiding and enfolding love; by Providence we
mean something that is neither local nor personal, nor particular, but
universal--the Providence of unchanging law--that living and loving Will
which "knoweth altogether."

(4) But if, owing to such considerations as these, we are less inclined
to-day to frame certain kinds of petition, or to expect them to be
answered, it is also true that we are increasingly coming to re-discover
what should never have been forgotten, _viz._, that petition is not the
whole but only a part, and perhaps a subordinate part, of prayer.  A
glance at our Lord's priceless bequest to humanity, the Model Prayer,
should suffice to place this beyond a doubt.  If we study it clause by
clause, we find that the first place is assigned simply to _adoration_,
and the claiming of the supreme privilege of spiritual communion, with an
implicit, although not explicit, _thanksgiving_ for that privilege; next
we find two clauses expressive of _aspiration_ for the achievement of the
highest aims, with the implied vow to help on their realisation by our
own conduct and efforts; and not until then do we come upon a
_supplication_, which moreover prays only for the simplest of material
blessings--for bare sustenance, in fact.  This is followed by
_confession_, with a prayer for mercy, and a promise to show ourselves
merciful to our brethren; and a prayer for deliverance {202} and guidance
brings us to the final act of _praise_.  Thus, with one most modest
exception, the blessings which God is asked to bestow are spiritual
blessings; for a petition asking, _e.g._, that the operation of some
natural law may be temporarily suspended for our benefit we should look
altogether in vain.  In any case we ought to learn from the one prayer
which our Lord expressly taught His disciples to give to mere petition a
much less prominent place than it usually occupies; adoration, confession
and thanksgiving should between them take the predominant share in our
communion with the Most High, thus correcting the tendency to make of
prayer a mere recital of wants more or less indiscriminately addressed to
the Divine bounty.  The supreme object to be kept in view is that we
should become of God's way of thinking--not that we should attempt to
make Him of ours; in Matthew Henry's shrewd comparison, prayer is like
the boat-hook, which brings the boat to the land, not the land to the

But when we have clarified our ideas on the subject to this extent, we
must once more face the question suggested by Professor James--_What is
it that is transacted_?  The effect of prayer upon those who offer it is
too well-attested to be called into doubt; what we have to ask ourselves,
however, is whether those effects are, in the strict sense of the term,
purely "subjective," _i.e._, as we {203} previously expressed it, in the
nature of a noble auto-suggestion.  The answer to that query must in the
last resort be determined by our thought concerning God and our relation
to Him.  Let it be said once more: if, with the pantheist, we assume that
we are essentially and inalienably one with the All--part of It, as the
bay is of the ocean--prayer, as the theist understands it, is a
self-contradiction; if offered at all, it will be, not the establishment
of a relation which is _ex hypothesi_ always in being, but at most a
clearer realisation by the particle of its fundamental identity with the
Whole.  Prayer is founded upon the belief that the Deity is at least
interested in His worshipper--or else, why speak to the Unheeding?  But
Spinozism distinctly denies the possibility of God's entertaining any
feelings towards individuals--indeed, Spinoza condemns the individual's
desire for God's personal love; at most he will admit that "'God,
inasmuch as He loves Himself, loves men,' because men are parts and
proportions of God. . .  The complacency of the Universe in its
self-awareness, the love of God towards Himself, as Spinoza has it,
includes us in its embrace, and that is enough." [5]  We reply that this
"complacency of the Universe in its self-awareness" may be enough for
Spinozists; but it is not enough to move men to prayer--and this is borne
out by Mr. Picton's total silence on this {204} topic in his exposition
of his Master's doctrine.  Mr. Chesterton, with his usual felicity of
phrase, hits the nail on the head when he says that upon this principle
"the whole cosmos is only one enormously selfish person;" certainly it
should be clear that on this assumption, as there can be no return of
affection from a God whose love is only self-love, so the effect of
prayer can only be that which is produced upon the soul by its
consciousness--supposed to be elevating--of being an infinitesimal
fraction of an infinite totality.  We say that this consciousness is
supposed to be elevating, though why it should be so is not quite
apparent; for whatever this heterogeneous sum-total of existences may be,
it is not, in our sense of the term, _good_, as the God of Christianity
is good.

But if, instead of losing ourselves in the fog-land of Pantheism,
Theosophy and their unavowed congeners, we take our stand upon the firm
belief in the otherness of God, the case alters altogether.  Prayer at
once becomes rational instead of being a contradiction in terms; it is
the accomplishment of something which is not already accomplished; it
springs from the consciousness of a spiritual need, it is born of the
instinct of spiritual self-preservation.  It sets up a connection between
two centres--man and God--which can only be connected because of a
fundamental likeness subsisting between them; but the _likeness_ is not
_oneness_--indeed, the latter would exclude {205} the former, for only
separates can be like each other.  On this theory prayer is no mere
meditation, but an intense and strenuous endeavour to make actual
something that is only potential; to use the simile we previously
employed, it is a digging of channels along which the sea may pour of its
fulness into an inland reservoir.  That this is what really takes place
in prayer--that there is such a real response from Him to whom it is
directed--we have no hesitation whatever in affirming; and this
notwithstanding the fact that such an experience cannot be proved to one
who has not shared it, any more than we can convey a sense of the
grandeur of Mont Blanc to one whose eye has never beheld its majestic
proportions.  Evidently, in this as in every corresponding case the
testimony of those who say that they have had a certain experience must
be preferred to that of others who can only say that they have not had
it; and the witness to spiritual renewal, reinforcement, replenishing
received in prayer--to the entering in of a Presence when the doors were
thrown open; to a peace and blessedness which were not of the world's
giving--this witness is so strong and so uniform that we have no choice
but to pronounce it decisive.  In every such case something had been
"genuinely transacted"; not only had man spoken, but God had
answered--the worshipper had not merely invoked, but in a very real sense
he had evoked, the Divine Presence.


But can we go any further than this?  Can we, that is to say, maintain
that God answers prayer, not only by flooding the adoring soul with fresh
strength, gladness, confidence, but by bringing to pass events which
otherwise would not have come about?  This "objective efficacy" of
prayer, in the narrower sense, is frequently doubted to-day; but, as we
shall attempt to show, upon grounds which, when examined, prove
untenable.  The difficulty, as it is most generally stated, arises from a
misunderstanding; answers to prayer are regarded as interferences with
the uniformities of nature, as arbitrary--and therefore
unthinkable--interruptions of the chain of cause and effect, for which
there can be no room in an orderly universe.  This, no doubt, was what
Turgenev meant when he asked, "Does not all prayer mean _au fond_ a wish
that in a given case two and two may not make four?"  That Turgenev's
aphorism quite illegitimately narrows down the meaning of prayer to
petition, may pass; it is more important for us to investigate his
implied challenge--the grounds upon which he expresses his absolute
disbelief in the fulfilment of such petitions.[6]

A simple preliminary reflection should come to our aid.  God is surely
always bringing things to pass on condition that we first do certain
other things, and on no other conditions {207} whatsoever.  The seeking
has to go before the finding, the knocking to precede the opening of the
doors.  He will give us waving corn, providing the ground is ploughed and
sown; that is to say, He answers our request, if we will make it in the
right manner--He lays down certain rules on compliance with which we may
secure certain blessings.  Is it objected that ploughing and sowing,
unlike prayer, are physical exertions made for the purpose of bringing
about physical results?  That would be a very superficial view; it is
certainly truer to say that they are acts of will, and even acts of
faith; and in the ultimate analysis the power which has produced the
harvest is not the power of matter, but of mind--the mind of man acting
in accordance with the Mind of God.  Man has asked, God has answered; and
would not have answered in that particular manner but for the particular
manner of that request.

Let us go a step further, still keeping to the obvious.  Most visitors to
Geneva have made the short excursion to the _Forces matrices_, the great
power-station where the swift waters of the Rhone are pressed into the
service of man and made to light the streets, propel the tramways and
drive all the machinery of the {208} city.  Now these vast powers were
always there--no law of nature was broken, nor any new one introduced,
when they were utilised to lighten man's labours and multiply his
energies; all that has happened is that man has discovered existing laws
and harnessed them to his use, and once more the real _force motrice_
resides not in those silently-revolving engines that generate the
electric current, but in the mind that devised and controls them.

Thought, then--unseen, impalpable--is energy in its essence, the master
force which directs, subdues and uses matter; and in prayer we have
already seen that we place ourselves in communication with the Central
Force of the universe, acquiring power we should not otherwise possess,
and replenishing our emptiness from an inexhaustible store.  But if
thought, mind, will, are that which lies behind all physical
accomplishment, from the simplest to the most wonderful; and if by an
exercise of the same faculty we may actually secure results of a
spiritual order, direct answering messages, from God: why should it be _a
priori_ unthinkable that we may by the same agency of prayer obtain more
"objective" responses, _viz._, the fulfilment of our petitions?  Frankly,
we can discover no theoretical grounds on which such a possibility could
be merely waved on one side as not worth consideration.  Shall we be told
that we cannot think that God would grant a certain wish only on
condition that we {209} expressed it to Him?  But we have already found
that in the regular experience of life the Divine bounty seems to come in
response to human efforts which are ultimately efforts of the will.  Once
more, everything depends upon our thought of God; if He is such as Jesus
taught us to regard Him, may it not well be that His Fatherly love goes
out to us in fullest measure when we call upon it with fullest and most
childlike trust?  If it is urged that God would surely under all
circumstances grant His children whatever may contribute to their
happiness, we need only observe that every parent has had occasion to say
to a much-loved child, "You shall have this when you know how to ask for
it."  The truth has been stated with characteristic simplicity and
insight by Dr. James Drummond, in the words, "If God has left certain
things dependent on the action of the human will, He may also have left
certain things dependent on human petition." [7]

So much is sure, that in all true prayer we set spiritual forces in
motion, to whose effects upon ourselves we can bear witness; and if their
action in one direction is an ascertained fact, however mysterious and
inexplicable, with what warrant shall we deny the possibility of their
acting in another?  Certainly we shall not argue that such action
involves an "interference" with natural law; and if we have to admit our
ignorance as to {210} _how_ such a force would operate and bring results
to pass, let us remind ourselves that the ultimate "how?"--the bridge
between antecedent and consequent, and why the former should be followed
by the latter--always and inevitably escapes us.  Why in the thousand and
more observed forms of snow-crystals the filaments of ice should always
be arranged at angles of 60 degrees or 120 degrees; why sulphate of
potash and sulphate of alumina should crystallise in octahedrons or in
cubes, but in no other forms; what is the real connection between
molecular changes in the brain-substance and states of consciousness--all
these, and a myriad more, are unsolved mysteries: we can only say that we
are dealing with facts of experience.  And as in these and countless
other cases, so here also, in this matter of answers to prayer, the final
and only test is that of experience.  That a vessel in distress should be
able to send a message to another vessel a hundred miles out of sight,
and summon it to its aid, would have struck an earlier generation as a
piece of wild romancing--but we know it is actually done; that a soul's
earnest prayer may avail to enlist mighty energies in its help and so to
bring about results which otherwise would not have come to pass, ought
hardly to strike the present age as an inherently incredible proposition.

But we shall be told that our parallel does not hold good: if the Marconi
apparatus failed seven times out of ten, we should hardly {211} think it
worth while to provide our ships with so unreliable an instrument; yet
who would say that even three out of ten prayers for stated objects met
with fulfilment?  The objection, however, is not unanswerable; indeed,
the very comparison employed in stating it may enable us to supply at
least a partial answer.  For we understand that the success of wireless
messages being transmitted and received depends upon absolutely perfect
"tuning"; the electric waves set up, _i.e._, will only act upon a
receiver most delicately attuned to a particular rate of oscillations,
and when the difference between the rate of oscillation of the waves and
the receiver exceeds one per cent., resonance ceases altogether, so that
the message may be sent, but will not be received.  It strikes us as
hardly a fanciful supposition that many prayers fail to obtain an answer
for a precisely analogous reason, _i.e._, for lack of attuning.  The mere
uttering of devotional phraseology, or even the sending forth of
anguished appeals, does not of necessity constitute true prayer at all,
and hence remains ineffective, because the soul is not really _en
rapport_ with God.  We suggest that the supplication which "availeth much
in its working" will be the outcome of a whole spiritual discipline,
whereby the individual spirit has become attuned to the Spirit whom it
seeks; if the majority of prayers go unanswered, it is because they are
mere recitals of a tale of wants, without even an attempt upon the {212}
part of those who utter them to put themselves into the attitude upon
which an answer depends.  On the other hand, where the adjustment of
which we speak has reached a high state of perfection, the soul not only
transmits its message to God with the perfect assurance of being heard,
but it is also continually sensitive to the messages which incessantly
flash through the spiritual ether from God, but which only those can hear
who have learned the secret of listening for His word.

In dealing with this question of unanswered prayer, we have given the
first place to what seems to us the most important as well as the least
frequently regarded reason--the lack of spiritual discipline, which is
ultimately the lack of faith, with which we pray.  When we remember,
moreover, that many of our petitions are framed in very natural and
inevitable ignorance of what is for our truest good, we realise another
and very obvious reason for the non-fulfilment of a large proportion of
the wishes we lay before the throne of God, whose goodness is as much
attested by what He denies to our foolishness as by what He grants to our
entreaties.  And how numerous are the prayers which reflection and an
awakened moral sense rule out of court: prayers which ask God to do for
us by special intervention what we ought to do for ourselves by our own
effort and industry; prayer for success in dealings and enterprises which
in themselves are ethically {213} unjustifiable, and to which the only
answer could be, "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as
thyself"; prayers which carry the spirit of egoism, of competition, of
bargaining even into our relations with the Most High; prayers of an
imprecatory character such as meet and shock us in some of the psalms.
How could these and their like possibly be granted by a just and merciful

But apart from such presumptuous, foolish, or impious supplications as
are at once repulsed and rebuked by the Divine silence, what are the
objects we may lawfully pray for, asking for a response?  It must be
confessed that with the exception of petitions for spiritual
blessings--for a deeper faith, for a more complete obedience, for a
humbler heart, for a wider sympathy--such as can never be out of place,
it is impossible to draw a hard-and-fast line; there is, indeed, a whole
vast category of possible objects of prayer which one cannot _a priori_
pronounce legitimate or otherwise.  We can only humbly confess that "we
know not how to pray as we ought," nor what things it is in our best
interest to have granted or withheld from us; but with this proviso, and
with the clause, "Nevertheless, not my will but Thine," added to our
petitions, there can be no wrong in making our requests to God for every
manner of blessing, material or otherwise, and whether on our own behalf
or on behalf of others.  Here we may surely with {214} all confidence and
with all reverence invoke the analogy of human parenthood.  No true
earthly parent is offended or moved to impatience by his children
expressing to him all their wants and wishes with perfect unreserve, even
though his loving wisdom has anticipated their real needs, and will
decide which of their desires may be granted; indeed, as we already
hinted, the granting of those desires may depend to some extent upon the
children's attitude, upon the filial, trustful, affectionate disposition
they exhibit.  So in regard to the supplications we address to our Father
in Heaven: we cannot think of His being moved by our mere importunity, or
by the mechanical repetition of set phrases; but that the fulfilment of
some wish of ours may be conditioned by our humility and confidence in
expressing it, presents no improbability.  In any case, what is necessary
on our part is that we should have faith, not only in God's _power_ to
grant our petitions, but in His _wisdom_ in granting or refusing them as
may be most expedient for us.  We ourselves can, within limits, fulfil
most of our children's requests; but a wise and loving parent will many a
time say "no," when his child may marvel at what to him must seem a mere
arbitrary or even unkind refusal of an innocent desire.  That hapless man
of genius, the late John Davidson, condensed the truth into one
illuminating phrase when he spoke of prayer rightly uttered as {215}
"submissive aspiration"; it would be difficult to devise another form of
words equally brief yet containing so much of the essence of the matter.
Even short of actual fulfilment, it is an immeasurable privilege simply
to speak to God about all the things that weigh on our minds, assured of
His hearing, nor should the fact that He knows all about our troubles
before we open our lips concerning them restrain our utterance; for our
object is not to give Him information, but to place ourselves in
conscious communion with Him, and by viewing our affairs in His light to
see light.

This applies to all our petitions, and perhaps in an especial measure to
intercessory prayer, those touching requests which we send up for our
dear ones in sickness, peril, sorrow, need, or any other adversity.  Of
course, all such intercessions ought to be mentally qualified by the
assurance that God will do what is best, even though we may be unable to
understand His decrees; but there is nothing unreasonable in the belief
that our prayers for others may be, and frequently are, directly
effective, setting energies in motion which might otherwise have remained
latent and inoperative.  How these energies operate may be quite beyond
our power to ascertain or even to guess; but if--to say it once more--the
action of matter on matter, the "how" of chemical combinations, eludes
us, shall we complain because the action of mind on mind, spirit on
spirit, is no {216} less elusive?  The final test--whether, _e.g._, a
mother's prayer that her absent son may be preserved from the snare of
some great temptation, is able to work a change in his mind--is, as we
said above, the test of experience; and unless we are dogmatically
determined to reject all testimony which bears on this subject, there
seems no escaping the conclusion that specific prayers have been
specifically, directly, and unmistakeably answered in instances too
numerous to admit of explanation by coincidence.[8]  The volume of human
testimony bearing on this subject is too great to be swept aside by a
simple refusal to consider it; if there is no insurmountable logical
obstacle to the possibility of prayer proving objectively effective--and
we have tried to show that there are no such obstacles--we must examine
the alleged instances of such answers without prejudice; and if we do so,
then, after making all legitimate deductions, we shall still find a body
of residual fact which is not to be explained away.

By all means, then, we conclude, let us obey the instincts which urge us
to turn to God in {217} prayer; they lie deeper and are less
fallible--embodying as they do the experience of the race--than our
individual reasonings.  We may tell our Father in all simplicity of
whatever desires we may cherish with an approving conscience, leaving the
fulfilment to His wise and steadfast love; it is not the ignorance of our
requests but the faithlessness of our spirits that we most stand in need
of guarding against.  Let us here, as elsewhere, follow the example of
the Son of God, whose unique intimacy with the Father made Him only the
more earnest in communing with Him, least lonely when alone with God.
Above all, let us bear in mind that the best prayer is that which has
least of self-seeking in it, but is answered in the making, and so sends
us back to our tasks--perhaps to our trials--refreshed as by a draught
from some hidden and precious spring, renewed in manhood and nearer to
God.  In the oft-quoted aphorism of George Meredith, "He who rises from
his prayer a better man, his prayer is answered."  As a Greater than
Meredith said, "Your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all
these things; but seek ye first His Kingdom, and His righteousness, and
all these things shall be added unto you."  The ideal prayer is that
which will ask little, aspire much, submit altogether; it is the soul's
complete surrender to and rest in God.

[1] The Rev. E. W. Lewis, M.A., B.D., in a paper on "The Divine
Immanence, its Meaning and its Implications."  Compare also _The New
Theology_, p. 34.  As Dr. William Adamson observes, "The illustration is
unfortunate.  The supposed ocean is to be thought of as infinite, and the
bay is finite, but in their essence and existence they are essentially
one.  There can be no bay where there is no boundary, and where in this
case could the boundary be found, for there can be nothing outside the

[2] Bousset, _Faith of a Modern Protestant_, p. 59.

[3] _The Varieties of Religious Experience_, p. 466.

[4] _A Century's Progress_, p. 105-6.

[5] _Spinoza_, by J. Allanson Picton, p. 213.

[6] So far, of course, as such an attitude may be the outcome of an
antecedent disbelief in God, it is perfectly logical; only we have no
common ground with those who take that view.  It is otherwise, however,
where an avowed acceptance of Theism is nevertheless accompanied by
doubts as regards any objective effects flowing from supplications
addressed to God; it is with such doubts as these that we are concerned.

[7] _Studies in Christian Doctrine_, p. 197.

[8] Precisely such an instance was brought under the notice of the
present writer by a correspondent, whose prayers that an absent one in
distant lands might be able to resist the power of strong temptation was
"heard" past all doubting--and that without the object of these petitions
being aware of the cause, as let a remark of his own attest: "I don't
know why, but sometimes I feel myself in some way held back from doing
certain things--how, I cannot explain; I only know that I should do as
others do, were it not for this compelling feeling."




Throughout the preceding pages we have been principally engaged in
tracing the effects of the idea of Divine immanence upon the main
contents of religious thought.  While trying to show that this idea,
rightly understood and set in its proper place, embodies an important
and at one time unduly neglected truth, we have also seen that its
misinterpretation and over-emphasis--the tendency to view it as not
only true but as constituting the whole truth--is attended by dangers
of a particularly grave character.  Under whatever name, idealistic
Monism or any other, the doctrine which recognises only one ultimate
Existence expressing itself in all things and working its will in all
events, is fatal to any religion worthy the name; indeed, since the
term "religion" indicates a _link_, and a link is possible only between
things or beings requiring to be held together, the fundamental tenet
of Monism excludes religion in the only vital sense it has ever been
known to bear, and more especially the Christian religion.  Quite {219}
inevitably it abandons the personality and Fatherhood of God, the
selfhood and freedom of man, the reality of sin and evil, which it
describes as "not-being," and the value and rationality of prayer--for
how or to whom can we pray if we are already "on the eternal throne"?
Quite inevitably, therefore, we may add, the votaries of this
philosophy, in attempting to accommodate it to the facts of life, the
intuitions of the moral self and the aspirations of the soul, are faced
everywhere by irreconcilable antinomies and "find no end, in wandering
mazes lost."

Are the assumptions of the monist any more in harmony with the doctrine
of immortality than with those other beliefs with which it thus finds
itself at variance?  We have already seen that they are not: neither
the Monism of Mr. Picton nor that of Mr. Wells leaves any room for
personal survival--as is, indeed, only to be expected in accordance
with their premises; for if the individual as such does not really
exist, why should he persist?  And from yet another monistic quarter we
are oracularly assured that we shall "one day know that the end of our
being is that it may _be submerged without reserve in the infinite
ocean of God_."  Nothing could be more definite; nor, it must be
confessed, more utterly hopeless.  To be "submerged without reserve" is
to cease from even the illusion of individuality; it is absorption,


In taking up this position, in finally quenching

  The hope whereto so passionately cling
  The dreaming generations from of old,

the monist is merely true to his creed; we may, however, express a
preference that he should do so without religious circumlocutions--that
the verdict should be, as in the famous historical instance, "_la mort,
sans phrase_."  When Mr. Wells says--

I do not believe I have any personal immortality. . .  The experiment
will be over, the rinsed beaker returned to its shelf, the crystals
gone dissolving down the wastepipe--[1]

we know where we are, and feel thankful to the author for his
frankness; to talk about submersion in "the infinite ocean of God," on
the other hand, invests an idea which, nakedly stated, means
annihilation pure and simple, with a pseudo-religious air which is far
more subtly dangerous.  Indeed, of the various expedients for
extinguishing men's faith in the life to come, this is probably the
most insidiously effective in use to-day; it is the silken
handkerchief, drenched with chloroform and held quite gently to the
victim's face--a lethal weapon in all but appearance.  And there are
some who are attracted by the faint, cloying odour of this chloroform.

Before we examine this fashionable doctrine of absorption, however, it
may be well to deal {221} with certain other causes which between them
account for much of the uneasiness--often unavowed but nevertheless
very real--concerning a future life, which unquestionably is widely
felt in our day.  All assertions to the contrary notwithstanding, it is
a case of uneasiness, and not of indifference; the bravado which
professes to give thanks to "whatever gods there be"--

  That no life lives for ever
  That dead men rise up never,
  That even the weariest river
    Winds somewhere safe to sea--

convinces no one.  Most men have known moods of severe depression and
lassitude when not to be at all seemed the one consummation to be
desired; but that is not the normal attitude of normal people.  Such
would still fain believe that the grave is not the end, but many of
them are in a state of bewilderment and insecurity.  On the one hand
men have never grown reconciled to the heart-breaking triviality of
death, never accepted this dispensation without a question, a hope, or,
failing hope, a sense of rebellion; on the other, we have to recognise
that we live in an age when multitudes have ceased to accept religious
beliefs simply upon the authority of the Bible--when educated people
generally have come quite definitely to disbelieve in the resurrection
of the body, a final day of judgment, a localised {222} heaven and
material hell--an age which must be one of manifold doubts and

But this break-up of Biblical authority and its unquestioning
acceptance is itself largely due to that resistless advance of physical
science which has reconstructed the world for us with such masterful
hands.  The results of the modern conception of the universe are only
just beginning to get into our system; as yet they are still largely
unassimilated, and give us trouble accordingly.  Let us take such a
statement as the following, and imagine its effect upon the average

Think of Mercury in its wild rush through the solar heat, or Venus
gleaming in the western sky, or ruddy Mars with its tantalising
problems, or of mighty Jupiter 1,230 times the size of our own planet,
or of Saturn with its wondrous rings, or of Uranus and Neptune
revolving in their tremendous orbits--the latter nearly three thousand
millions of miles away from the centre of our system. . .  But the true
awfulness is yet untouched.  What of the millions of millions of suns
that blaze in immeasurable space beyond our comparatively little solar
sphere?  Sirius alone, at the foot of the constellation of Orion, is
125 times larger than our sun.  Fifteen hundred millions of millions of
miles away, where ordinary eyes dimly descry half a dozen points of
light, the telescope reveals more than a thousand orbs, some seventy of
them vaster than our sun.  What indeed is the whole of this our tiny
planet compared with Alcyone--1,000 times larger than our central

These, of course, are among the commonplaces of modern astronomy; but
we do not think we {223} are wrong in saying that they leave a great
many minds singularly ill at ease, in a condition of vague but
unmistakeable discomfort, oppressed by the vastness of the universe as
revealed by science, feeling lost and utterly insignificant in this
illimitable expanse of worlds on circling worlds, and aeons upon
exhaustless aeons.  It was possible, when the universe was regarded as
a comparatively small affair, with our earth as its veritable centre,
to think oneself of sufficient value in the scheme of things to live
for ever; but now such a claim seems to not a few grotesque in its
presumption.  Have we not been told by Mr. Balfour that, so far as
natural science by itself is able to teach us, man's "very existence is
an accident, his story a brief and discreditable episode in the life of
one of the meanest of the planets"?--and shall such a one, member of
such a race, dream of prolonging his atomic existence world without
end?  As Lucretius asked:--

  What!  Shall the dateless worlds to dust be blown
  Back to the unremembered and unknown,
    And this frail Thou--this flame of yesterday--
  Burn on, forlorn, immortal, and alone?

This mental attitude, familiar enough nowadays, has been forcibly and
typically expressed in a clever, melancholy book, _The Letters Which
never Reached Him_.  "We suffer," the author says, "from our own
diminutiveness and from the narrow limits of our life and knowledge
since the endlessness of space and time have {224} been taught to us.
People of former epochs cannot have known this contrast between human
smallness and the world's infinity; they must have been more contented,
because they fancied they were made in right proportion to everything
else."  Such conditions as these favoured the flourishing of "that
highest blossom of the conviction of personal importance, the belief in
one's eternal individual continuance."  "But one who has been cast by
the waves on countless foreign shores, and who has reflected that
everywhere, and since times infinite, millions and millions have been
born and buried without leaving by their coming and going more trace
than the swarms of insects which for a moment glide through the rays of
the sun--such a one loses the belief in the importance of all
transitory phases, and doubts the inner necessity of an eternal
continuance for all those ephemeral, ant-like existences which in
endless, unchanging repetitions ever rise anew to disappear again."
Modern astronomy and geology, by expanding the world beyond all
conception, seem, in fact, but to emphasise Omar Khayyam's mocking

  And fear not lest Existence, closing your
  Account and mine, should know the like no more;
    The Eternal Saki from that bowl hath pour'd
  Millions of Bubbles like us, and will pour.

And if such are the reflections forced upon us by the contemplation of
the vastness of {225} the cosmos--a vastness in whose midst we feel
homeless and forlorn--it has further to be remembered that the attitude
of modern science, as embodied in that of some of its most confident
and popular representatives, has been distinctly and openly
unfavourable to belief in a future life.  If  man was truly descended
from the lower creation, it seemed obvious to infer that as had been
his origin, so also would be his destiny--the destiny of the beasts
that perish.  The _Kraft und Stoff_ school of physicists proclaimed
aloud that consciousness was only a function of the brain, and would
come to a stop together with the mechanism which produced it; as
Haeckel expressed it, "The various functions of the soul are bound up
with certain special parts of the brain, and cannot be exercised unless
these are in a normal condition; if the areas are destroyed their
function is extinguished; and this is especially applicable to the
'organs of thought,' the four central instruments of mental activity."
[3]  But if our inner life was merely the counterpart of certain
changes in the grey matter of the brain, how could the function be
expected to persist after its organ had undergone decay?

Such, in short, are our principal modern difficulties with regard to
belief in a life to come; do they, or do they not, present valid and
insuperable obstacles to a reasonable faith?


(1) While making all allowance for the feeling of insignificance and
forlornness which is apt to overwhelm us when we begin to realise the
immensity of the material universe, a little closer thought should make
it obvious that nothing in the nature of mere bulk or bigness furnishes
even a reasonable presumption, let alone a convincing argument, against
the survival of the soul; it is indeed difficult to perceive what
legitimate bearing these physical phenomena are supposed to have upon a
purely spiritual question.  If we are to argue on _a priori_ grounds,
we are on the contrary justified in saying that the human mind, which
has discovered and is capable of co-ordinating the myriad facts
concerning the world of matter that make up modern science, is itself
something far more wonderful than any of its discoveries, or the sum of
them.  If we are asked, "Is it conceivable that suns and stars shall
pass away--as they undoubtedly will--and that man shall persist?" we
can but answer, "Yes; it is very conceivable; for man is far more
highly organised than suns and stars, moves on an immeasurably higher
level, can reason, look before and after, form ideals of conduct, reach
out in love, and think the thoughts of God after Him."  As soon as we
leave the lower reaches of being, bulk is seen to matter very little.
The immense proportions of those flying reptiles and other monsters
which peopled the earth in pre-historic {227} times did not protect
them against dying out, and their places being taken by much slighter
creatures which had some more valuable attributes than size; the
_diplodocus Carnegii_ in the British Museum measures some seventy-five
feet, but that fact did not prevent the species from becoming extinct
uncounted ages since--simply because it was lacking in the higher
qualities which would have enabled it to survive.  And even the
_diplodocus_, with its lumbering body and diminutive brain, was whole
worlds superior to inorganic nature.  That the marvellous thing called
human personality should outlast the decay of what is so much inferior
to itself, is therefore not only not inconceivable, but in itself not
even improbable.  It is a strange sort of modesty--to say the least of
it--which would make us think ourselves of less account in the scale of
existence or the sight of God than unconscious matter in its cruder and
lower stages.  One might as sensibly urge that the delicate hairspring
of a watch, being of featherweight and almost invisible, must be worth
less than a lump of crude iron-ore.

(2) We turn to the supposed argument from evolution, _viz._, from man's
lowly origin, as furnishing a strong presumption against his
immortality.  This plea, familiar enough in sceptical discussions of
the subject, has been put forward with great poetic force by Mr.
William Watson; after graphically describing {228} "the gibbering form
obscene that was and was not man," as lower in many respects than the
beasts and birds in whose midst he dwelt, he suggests that it was

    Rather some random throw
      Of heedless Nature's die,
    'Twould seem, that from so low
      Hath lifted man so high.
    If, then, our rise from gloom
      Hath this capricious air,
    What ground is mine to assume
      An upward process there,
    In yonder worlds that shine
      From upward tracts of sky?
    No ground to assume is mine
      Nor warrant to deny.
  Equal, my source of hope, my reason for despair.

But, with great admiration for Mr. Watson as a poet, it is impossible
not to recognise that at least two radical flaws lurk in his agnostic
argument.  In the first place, he makes the mistake of judging issues
by origins instead of origins by issues; the sub-human beginnings of
man trouble us not at all, since we can see in the subsequent history
of the race how great were the possibilities infolded in that
"gibbering form obscene," and unfolded in a Plato, a Raphael, a
Shakespeare.  That such a development from such a lowly initial stage
should have been so much as possible, is in itself significant of much;
for nothing is evolved that was not first involved.  But in the second
place, Mr. Watson's assumption that the process which lifted man from
the level of the {229} brute to one immeasurably higher was dictated by
"hap and hazard" strikes us as wholly gratuitous.  On the face of it,
that process, in itself so little to be expected, bears the mark, not
of chance but of its very contrary.  That the cosmic drama should have
followed this particular course; that from the cooling down of fiery
nebulas there should have come forth the orderly system we behold in
nature; that life should have climbed up from the speck of protoplasm
"through primal ooze and slime," making its way step by step through
all the lower creation until it "blossomed into man"--this, to the
unbiassed mind, does not wear the aspect of mere incalculable accident,
but of all-embracing wisdom and directivity.  And once we have shaken
off the delusion that the marvellous order and progress we behold in
nature are the outcome of chance, we have the best of reasons for
assuming that the same "upward process" will still continue, reaching
forward from the seen to the unseen; at any rate, so well-qualified and
thorough-going an evolutionist as Professor Fiske gave it as his mature
opinion that "in the course of evolution there is no more philosophical
difficulty in man's acquiring immortal life, than in his acquiring the
erect posture and articulate speech." [4]


And the reasonableness of this view grows the clearer to us the more we
realise the purposive character of the evolutionary process.  The
unmistakeable purpose of that process is the production of the higher
from the lower; all through the ages the vast design works itself out
in a ceaseless ascending movement, the theme expanding, its meaning
becoming more apparent.  Then, when a certain point in this development
has been reached, evolution takes a direction such as no one could have
forecast: "its operation upon the physical frame is diverted to the
mind, the centre of interest transferred from the outward organism to
the inner forces of which it is the vehicle"--and man becomes a living
soul.  Since, then, it has taken all these myriad ages, all this
immense expenditure of planning and energy, to produce what is
incontestably the crowning work of creation on this globe, must we not
say that this was the issue towards which the whole process was set in
motion from the very beginning?  And if this is so, are we to think
that at the end, when its carefully, patiently wrought-out purpose has
been attained, this process suddenly turns irrational, and hands over
its last and highest product to destruction?  As has been well said,
"To suppose that what has been evolved at such cost will suddenly
collapse, is to suppose that the whole scheme of things is
self-stultifying"; and for such a supposition we {231} see not only no
necessity, but no shadow of warrant.

The question is reduced to this: are man's highest spiritual qualities,
into the production of which all this creative energy has gone, to
disappear with the rest?  Has all this work been done for nothing?  Is
it all ephemeral, all a bubble that bursts, a vision that fades?  Are
we to regard the Creator's work as like that of a child, who builds
houses out of blocks, just for the pleasure of knocking them down?  For
aught that science can tell us, it may be so, but I can see no good
reason for believing any such thing . . .  The more thoroughly we
comprehend that process of evolution by which things have come to be
what they are, the more we are likely to feel that to deny the
everlasting persistence of the spiritual element in man is to rob the
whole process of its meaning.  It goes far towards putting us to
permanent intellectual confusion, and I do not see that anyone has as
yet alleged, or is ever likely to allege, a sufficient reason for our
accepting so dire an alternative.[5]

If belief in the soul's persistence must always be an act of faith, it
is for the evolutionist an act of reasonable faith, based on his
experience of the rationality, and what has been called the integrity,
of the cosmos.

(3) Of the hostility of physical science to belief in life beyond the
grave it is perhaps sufficient to say that the somewhat dogmatic
attitude of denial which flourished in certain scientific circles
somewhere about a quarter of a century ago has to-day made room for a
very different temper, at once more sympathetic and more willing to
acknowledge {232} that a belief is not necessarily disproved because
the methods of the chemical or biological laboratory fail to
substantiate it.  As for the crude proposition that the brain secretes
thought as the liver secretes bile, and that the life of the soul must
cease with that of the body, this was characterised by the eminent
thinker whom we quoted a moment ago as "perhaps the most colossal
instance of baseless assumption that is known to the history of
philosophy."  Admitting that to every state of consciousness, to every
minutest transition in our thoughts, there corresponds a cerebral
change, it is yet nothing less than a childish blunder to confound
correspondence with causality.  The materialist has positively no good
ground for stating that cerebral changes are the _causes_ of the mental
states corresponding to them; indeed, the contrary proposition is far
more inherently probable, since it is spirit, and not matter, that
"possesses the power of purpose," and may therefore be regarded as the
final cause of matter.[6]  When Professor Haeckel urges that "the
various functions of the soul are bound up with certain special parts
of the brain," and cease when the latter are destroyed, the reply is
quite simple: _non sequitur_.  He has apparently forgotten his own
warning against the "dangerous error" of a "one-sided over-estimation
of experience." [7] {233} The utmost that experience can prove is that
the brain is the transmitting apparatus for flashing forth and making
intelligible the messages of the soul, and that, when this apparatus
breaks down, further transmission of messages becomes impossible; but
no experience can prove that when the instrument is destroyed, the soul
which used it for purposes of communication and self-manifestation
ceases to be, and only slipshod logic would draw such an inference.  In
discussing the Divine Personality, we already quoted Mill, a far more
careful reasoner than Haeckel, who laid it down that while experience
furnished us with no example of any series of states of consciousness
without a material brain, yet it was "as easy to imagine such a series
of states without as with this accompaniment"; indeed, he saw no valid
reason to preclude us from supposing that "the same thoughts, emotions,
volitions, and even sensations which we have here, may persist or
recommence somewhere else under other conditions"--_i.e._, without such
an apparatus as is at present at our disposal.  It is only a dogmatic
materialist of Haeckel's almost extinct pattern who could fail to make
the simple distinction between visible instrument and invisible player.

Turning aside, however, from the antiquated views of Haeckel--views
which, as he himself bitterly complains, some of his most {234}
illustrious scientific compeers in his own country, men like Virchow,
Du Bois-Reymond and Wundt lived to repudiate[8]--we may for a moment
glance at an argument on behalf of belief brought forward by so
distinguished and modern a spokesman of physical science as Sir Oliver
Lodge.  His contention, set forth in the course of a paper on _The
Permanence of Personality_,[9] is really identical with that which
Browning expresses with such passionate conviction in the words, "There
shall never be one lost good."  While we have become familiar with such
a conception as the conservation of energy, Sir Oliver Lodge brings
before us Professor Höffding's axiom of the "conservation of value,"
and applies it to the question under discussion.  According to him,
"the whole progress and course of evolution is to increase and
intensify the Valuable--that which 'avails' or is serviceable for
highest purposes"; and he accordingly defines immortality as the
persistence of things which the universe has gained and which, once
acquired, cannot be let go.  "From this point of view," he says, "the
law of evolution is that Good shall on the whole increase in the
universe with the process of the suns: that immortality itself is a
special case of a more general law, namely, that in the whole universe
nothing really finally perishes that is worth keeping, that a thing
once attained {235} is not thrown away."  The soul, in other words,
will not perish--just as we had already argued--because it is too
valuable to perish; if we may trust this latest interpretation of the
meaning and purpose of evolution, the spiritual element in man will
endure because it is worthy to endure.

But how are we to think of its enduring?  As a separate self, conscious
of its identity, able to form the proposition "I am I," or swallowed up
in the Whole, with a final merging and loss of selfhood?  Must we think
of man's ultimate destiny in the terms of the concluding distichs of
Mr. Watson's great _Hymn to the Sea_--a consummation

  When, from this threshold of being, these steps of the
        Presence, this precinct,
  Into the matrix of Life darkly divinely resumed,
  Man and his littleness perish, erased like an error
        and cancelled,
  Man and his greatness survive, lost in the greatness
        of God?

That is the query with which we opened this chapter; and, in answering
it, it is but fair to say that Sir Oliver Lodge shows a marked
inclination to take up a position identical with that of Mr. Watson:
"Everything sufficiently valuable," he says, "be it beauty, artistic
achievement, knowledge, unselfish affection, may be thought of as
enduring henceforth and for ever, _if not with an individual {236} and
personal existence, yet as part of the eternal Being of God_."

Now this is not only a wholly unsatisfactory conclusion from the point
of view of religion; it is a surrender of the very point at
issue--_viz._, the permanence of personality--and in reality lets slip
what Sir Oliver Lodge himself was contending for.  It is unsatisfactory
from the point of view of religion; for such a re-absorption of the
soul into a "grand self-conscious totality of being," involving of
necessity the end of all we mean by individuality, consciousness,
character, is not immortality at all--to all intents and purposes it
is, as we said, annihilation.  There is not an iota to choose, so far
as the religious believer is concerned, between this theory and the
frank materialism of Lucretius, so wonderfully rendered by Mr.

  The seeds that once were we take flight and fly,
  Winnowed to earth, or whirled along the sky,
    Not lost but disunited.  _Life lives on_.
  _It is the lives, the lives, the lives that die_.

  They go beyond recapture and recall,
  Lost in the all-indissoluble All:
    Gone like the rainbow from the fountain's foam,
  Gone like the spindrift shuddering down the squall,

  Flakes of the water, on the waters cease!
  Soul of the body, melt and sleep like these.
    Atoms to atoms--weariness to rest--
  Ashes to ashes--hopes and fears to peace!

{237} Pantheism may speak delusively of "the peace of absorption in the
Infinite," or of the end of our being as submersion, "without reserve,
in the infinite ocean of God"; but regarded from the standpoint of
individuality, there is no difference between such a fate and the total
extinction of the soul--

  The healing gospel of the eternal death

--preached with such haunting eloquence by the Roman poet.  The truth,
as Dr. Illingworth has well expressed it, is that in practice
"Pantheism is really indistinguishable from Materialism; it is merely
Materialism grown sentimental, but no more tenable for its change of
name." [10]

But, in the next place, in tentatively committing himself to the
conclusion we are criticising, it seems to us that Sir Oliver Lodge
loses sight of the very essence of his own contention: his conclusion,
in effect, contradicts his premises.  Syllogistically, and, of course,
very bluntly stated, his argument might be summed up as follows: "What
is of value is preserved; the soul is of value; therefore the soul
is--dissolved."  Let us put this a little more explicitly.  That which
has been gained in the course of evolution, so far as the human soul is
concerned--that which makes it worthy to endure, _viz._, its character,
conscience, idealism and so forth--belongs to the {238} soul precisely
as an individual entity, and in no other way whatsoever; neither can it
be effectively preserved save in the form of an individual entity.  The
soul, in other words, is not to be compared to a mere quantum of raw
material, or to a cupful of water temporarily drawn from an infinite
deep into which it may be poured back, and nothing lost: it is, on the
contrary, a highly individualised product, so individual as to be
unique, and in simply being merged in the totality of being all that is
most valuable in it would be lost and wasted.  We have no difficulty in
believing that mere _life_--the potentiality, the material out of which
higher things evolve--may go back into the all, to arise again in new
manifestations and combinations; but it is otherwise with the highly
complex resultant of the evolutionary process which we call
_personality_, endowed as it is with self-consciousness, with the sense
of right and wrong, the capacity for ideals, the faculty of
self-giving, a god-like within answering to the God without.  It is
because these things--those which "avail for highest purposes"--make
man personal and mark him off, broadly speaking, from the lower,
sub-human life out of which he has emerged, that we believe in the
permanence of human personality, of the spiritual element in man, in
the survival of the soul _as individual and personal_, and not merely
as "part of the eternal Being of God."  A simple illustration will help
us to enforce our {239} point of view.  In the process of porcelain
manufacture the half-finished ware is placed in "seggars" or coarse
clay shells for protection in the glaze or enamel kiln.  These
temporary shells, having served their purpose, are broken up and ground
down again into a shapeless mass under heavy revolving rollers; but no
one would dream of treating the graceful vases and figures they
enclosed for a time after the same fashion.  The parallel is fairly
obvious: the protecting clay envelope broken to pieces, merged and
mingled with other clay, to be so used and broken a hundred times; the
precious product carefully taken from its coarse shell and preserved.
The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns unto
God who gave it: returns, but not as it came forth from Him, but
differentiated, individual, shaped and coloured; returns, not to be
absorbed and lost in an "all-indissoluble All," but, as we hold, for
still further processes of perfecting.

And if we are asked for the ground whence we derive the latter
assurance, we answer, It is founded upon our belief, not in a
"universal substance" or an "all-inclusive consciousness of being," but
in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  By no possibility can
these two conceptions be made to harmonise or to pass into one another;
on the former view, as we have seen, the significance of the individual
soul is and must be _nil_--on the latter, the value of the soul is
infinite, because it is {240} the object of the Divine Love, created by
God "unto Himself," in order to experience and respond to His
affection.  On the former view, we are finite modes of infinite
Being--on the latter, we are children of the Father.

It is because we have believed the love which God hath to us--the love
made manifest supremely in Jesus Christ--that we echo so confidently
the poet's "Thou wilt not leave us in the dust": the Christian doctrine
of immortality flows quite naturally from the Christian doctrine of
God.  The argument is frankly ethical; it flows from the view of God's
character which we have received through the revelation of that
character in His Son.  Without hurling any wild indictment at life, we
dare to say that it requires to be supplemented by the life to come in
order to fit in with the idea of a just and loving God, a faithful and
merciful Creator.  This span of days, this hand's-breadth of existence,
is too palpably fragmentary.  The sinner, the failure, all those who
have here missed the way, ask another opportunity of the Divine mercy;
the wronged, the sufferers from unmerited griefs, those whose lives
passed in gloom and closed in tragedy, appeal for justice; the longing
for reunion with loved ones whose going hence has left us permanently
poorer, demands fulfilment; the goodness of the good and the sanctity
of the saint plead for "the wages of going on."  This ethical argument
for personal {241} immortality--Browning's "On the earth the broken
arcs; in the heaven the perfect round"--will carry no weight with those
who profess a "religion of the universe"; for the universe, viewed
simply as the sum-total of phenomena, possesses, as we have so
frequently pointed out, no sufficiently decided moral character to
inspire us with confidence in its justice, or mercy, or pitifulness.
On the other hand, the same argument will powerfully appeal to all who
believe in the Divine Goodness, and especially to those who, looking
unto Jesus, have in His face beheld the lineaments of the Father.  If
God be such as Jesus taught, then life everlasting may be a dim,
intangible dream, but a dream that is destined to come true: we shall
be satisfied when we awake.

Thus, at the close of this inquiry, we find ourselves left with two
ultimate realities--two, not one; alike, not identical; related, and
_therefore_ distinct, for a relation can only subsist between one and
another: the realities of God and the soul.  _Gott und die Seele, die
Seele und ihr Gott_--these two, eternally akin, yet in their kinship
unconfounded, make up the theme and the content of religion; and any
attempt to obliterate the distinction between them in some monistic
formula, any tendency to surrender either the Divine or the human
personality, any philosophy which seeks to merge man in God and God in
the {242} universe, is fatal to religion itself.  We have been told of
late that "there is no Divine immanence which does not imply the
allness of God"; we reply that there is no sane and sober theology
which will not feel called upon to challenge this fundamental error.
God, immanent in the universe as life and energy, is not the universe;
man, the partaker of the Divine nature, indwelt by the Spirit of God,
is other than God.  These are commonplaces, truly; yet in the presence
of more than one contemporary movement aiming to set these basal truths
aside--truths whose acceptance or rejection involves far-reaching
issues in faith and morals--there may be some excuse and even some
necessity for reiterating them so persistently and at such length as
has been done in these pages.

Man is inalienably akin to God--man is everlastingly other than God;
upon this note we are content to close.  In that fact we have, not only
the ultimate explanation of the phenomenon of religion, the ultimate
foundation of ethics, the ultimate ground of the felt need of
salvation, but also the ultimate hope of immortality--that reasonable
hope, expressed by the Hebrew seer for all time in words of sublime and
intuitive insight: _Art not_ THOU _from everlasting, O Lord my God,
mine Holy One_?  WE SHALL NOT DIE.

[1] _First and Last Things_, pp. 80, 238.

[2] Ballard, _Christian Essentials_, pp. 10-12.

[3] _The Riddle of the Universe_, p. 72.

[4] _Life Everlasting_, p. 85.  To the same effect is Huxley's
statement declaring that while he would "neither affirm nor deny the
immortality of man," immortality itself struck him "_as not half so
wonderful as the conservation of force or the indestructibility of

[5] _Man's Destiny_, by John Fiske, pp. 114-116.

[6] Cp. Illingworth, _Divine Immanence_, p. 8.

[7] _The Riddle of the Universe_, p. 7.

[8] _Op. cit._; see ch. vi., _passim_.

[9] See the _Hibbert Journal_, April 1908, pp. 565-567.

[10] _Divine Immanence_, p. 39.

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