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Title: Lux Mundi - A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, - 10th Edition, 1890
Author: Various
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Lux Mundi - A Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, - 10th Edition, 1890" ***

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Transcriber's note:

Notes and quotations in smaller font have been indented two spaces.

Apparent typographical errors have been corrected; inconsistent hyphens
have been retained; essay headings have been simplified.







  A quella Luce cotal si diventa,
  Che volgersi da lei per altro aspetto
  È impossibil che mai si consenta.


 [_All rights reserved_]


1. _Faith._

 Rev. H. S. HOLLAND, M.A., Canon of St. Paul's, sometime
 Senior Student of Christ Church.

2. _The Christian Doctrine of God._

 Rev. AUBREY MOORE, M.A., Hon. Canon of Christ Church, Tutor
 of Magdalen and Keble Colleges.

3. _The Problem of Pain: its bearing on faith in God._

 Rev. J. R. ILLINGWORTH, M.A., Rector of Longworth, sometime
 Fellow of Jesus and Tutor of Keble Colleges.

4. _The Preparation in History for Christ._

 Rev. E. S. TALBOT, D.D., Vicar of Leeds, sometime Warden of
 Keble College.

5. _The Incarnation in relation to Development._


6. _The Incarnation as the Basis of Dogma._

 Rev. R. C. MOBERLY, M.A., Vicar of Great Budworth, sometime
 Senior Student of Christ Church.

7. _The Atonement._

 Rev. and Hon. ARTHUR LYTTELTON, M.A., Master of Selwyn
 College, Cambridge, sometime Tutor of Keble College.

8. _The Holy Spirit and Inspiration._

 Rev. C. GORE, M.A., Principal of Pusey House, Fellow of
 Trinity College.

9. _The Church._

 Rev. W. LOCK, M.A., Sub-Warden of Keble and Fellow of
 Magdalen Colleges.

10. _Sacraments._

 Rev. F. PAGET, D.D., Canon of Christ Church, and Regius
 Professor of Pastoral Theology.

11. _Christianity and Politics._

 Rev. W. J. H. CAMPION, M.A., Tutor of Keble College.

12. _Christian Ethics._

 Rev. R. L. OTTLEY, M.A., Vice-Principal of Cuddesdon, late
 Senior Student of Christ Church.


1. This volume is primarily due to a set of circumstances which exists
no longer. The writers found themselves at Oxford together between the
years 1875-1885, engaged in the common work of University education;
and compelled for their own sake, no less than that of others, to
attempt to put the Catholic faith into its right relation to modern
intellectual and moral problems. Such common necessity and effort led
to not infrequent meetings, in which a common body of thought and
sentiment, and a common method of commending the faith to the
acceptance of others, tended to form itself. We, who once enjoyed this
happy companionship, are now for the most part separated. But at least
some result of our temporary association remains, which it is hoped
may justify and explain the present volume.

2. For this collection of essays represents an attempt on behalf of
the Christian Creed in the way of explanation. We are sure that Jesus
Christ is still and will continue to be the 'Light of the world.' We
are sure that if men can rid themselves of prejudices and mistakes
(for which, it must be said, the Church is often as responsible as
they), and will look afresh at what the Christian faith really means,
they will find that it is as adequate as ever to interpret life and
knowledge in its several departments, and to impart not less
intellectual than moral freedom. But we are conscious also that if the
true meaning of the faith is to be made sufficiently conspicuous it
needs disencumbering, reinterpreting, explaining. We can but quote in
this sense a distinguished French writer who has often acted as an
inspiration to many of us. Père Gratry felt painfully that the dogmas
of the Church were but as an 'unknown tongue' to many of the best of
his compatriots. 'It is not enough,' he said, 'to utter the mysteries
of the Spirit, the great mysteries of Christianity, in formulas, true
before God, but not understood of the people. The apostle and the
prophet are precisely those who have the gift of interpreting these
obscure and profound formulas for each man and each age. To translate
into the common tongue the mysterious and sacred language ... to speak
the word of God afresh in each age, in accordance with both the
novelty of the age and the eternal antiquity of the truth, this is
what S. Paul means by interpreting the unknown tongue. But to do this,
the first condition is that a man should appreciate the times he lives
in. "Hoc autem tempus quare non probatis[1]?"'

3. We have written then in this volume not as 'guessers at truth,' but
as servants of the Catholic Creed and Church, aiming only at
interpreting the faith we have received. On the other hand, we have
written with the conviction that the epoch in which we live is one of
profound transformation, intellectual and social, abounding in new
needs, new points of view, new questions; and certain therefore to
involve great changes in the outlying departments of theology, where
it is linked on to other sciences, and to necessitate some general
restatement of its claim and meaning.

This is to say that theology must take a new development. We grudge
the name development, on the one hand, to anything which fails to
preserve the type of the Christian Creed and the Christian Church; for
development is not innovation, it is not heresy: on the other hand, we
cannot recognise as the true 'development of Christian doctrine,' a
movement which means merely an intensification of a current tendency
from within, a narrowing and hardening of theology by simply giving it
greater definiteness or multiplying its dogmas.

The real development of theology is rather the process in which the
Church, standing firm in her old truths, enters into the apprehension
of the new social and intellectual movements of each age: and because
'the truth makes her free' is able to assimilate all new material, to
welcome and give its place to all new knowledge, to throw herself into
the sanctification of each new social order, bringing forth out of her
treasures things new and old, and shewing again and again her power of
witnessing under changed conditions to the catholic capacity of her
faith and life.

4. To such a development these studies attempt to be a contribution.
They will be seen to cover, more or less, the area of the Christian
faith in its natural order and sequence of parts, but the intention is
not to offer complete theological treatises, or controversial defences
of religious truths: it is rather to present positively the central
ideas and principles of religion, in the light of contemporary thought
and current problems. The only one of the essays in fact which has any
degree of formal completeness, is that on Christian Ethics, a subject
on which the absence of systematic books of a genuine English growth
seems to justify a more detailed treatment.

5. The main omissions of which we are conscious are due to want of
space. For instance, we should have been very glad to attempt a
separate treatment of the subject of sin; though we hope the line that
would be taken about it has been sufficiently indicated by more than
one writer[2]. Again, we have left aside any detailed discussion of
historical evidences; but it will be seen that our attempt has been so
to present the principles of the Christian faith as to suggest the
point of view from which evidences are intelligible, and from which
they will, it is firmly believed, be found satisfactory. Once more, if
we have not found room for a treatment of miracles, at least we hope
that the Church's conception of God, as He manifests Himself in nature
and in grace, which we have endeavoured to express, will at once
acquit us of any belief in capricious 'violations of law;' and will
also suggest a view of the world as disordered by sin and crying out
for redemption, which will make it intelligible that 'miracles' should
appear, not as violating law, but as a necessary element in its
restoration as well as its completer exhibition; contrary, not to the
fundamental order of the Divine working, but only to a superficial or
mechanical view of it, or to a view which sin has distorted or
preoccupation with physical science has unduly narrowed.

6. It only remains to explain that we have written not as mere
individuals, but as ministers, under common conditions, of a common
faith. This unity of conviction has enabled us freely to offer and
accept mutual criticism and suggestion; so that without each of us
professing such responsibility for work other than his own, as would
have involved undue interference with individual method, we do desire
this volume to be the expression of a common mind and a common hope.

 C. G.

 _Michaelmas, 1889_.

[1] Gratry, _Henri Perreyve_, Paris 1880, p. 162.

[2] See pp. 208-211, 292-3, 318-20, 475-6.


The author of the Essay _The Holy Spirit and Inspiration_ has
endeavoured to obviate further misunderstanding of his meaning on one
important point by rewriting some sentences on pp. 359-60, in
accordance with the _Corrigenda_ inserted in the Fourth Edition.



There are two things which may fairly be regretted in regard to the
criticisms--often the very kind and encouraging criticisms--which,
this book has received. There is, first, the disproportionate
attention which has been given to some twenty pages on the subject of
the inspiration of Holy Scripture, an attention so disproportionate as
to defeat the object which the writers had in view in assigning to
that subject its place in the general treatment of the work of the
Holy Spirit--the object, namely, of giving it its proper context in
the whole body of Christian truth: and there is, secondly, the fact
that we have not generally succeeded in gaining the attention of our
critics to the point of view from which these 'studies' were written,
and the purpose they were intended to serve.

Our purpose was 'to succour a distressed faith' by endeavouring to
bring the Christian Creed into its right relation to the modern growth
of knowledge, scientific, historical, critical; and to the modern
problems of politics and ethics[3]. We were writing as for Christians,
but as for Christians perplexed by new knowledge which they are
required to assimilate and new problems with which they are required
to deal. What is needed to help men in such perplexity is not
compromise, for compromise generally means tampering with principle,
but readjustment, or fresh correlation, of the things of faith and the
things of knowledge. In detail this will, no doubt, involve
concessions, and that on both sides, because both sides have been
liable to make mistakes[4]; but in the main what is to be looked for
is a reconciliation which shall at once set the scientific and
critical movement, so far as it is simply scientific and critical,
free from the peril of irreligion, and the religious movement free
from the imputation of hostility to new knowledge--as free as any
movement can be, which is intensely concerned to nourish and develop
what is permanent and unchanging in human life. Such a reconciliation
has more than once been effected in the past, though never without a
preliminary period of antagonism[5]; our confidence that it will be
effected anew in the future lies partly in the fact that we see it
already taking place in some minds which seem to us to represent the
best life and thought of our time both scientific and religious. One
such at least[6] we knew and have lost, though only from present
intercourse, in Aubrey Moore. Nobody could know him and think of him
as 'compromising' either his faith or his science. He lived primarily
and with deepest interest in his religious life and theological study,
but he lived also with intense reality in the life of science. And the
debt we owe to him, over and above the debt under which his personal
character lays us for ever, is that of having let us see how the two
lives of faith and of science can melt into one. He felt indeed and
wrestled with the difficulties of adjustment. He had not, as it seemed
to us, nearly finished his work in this respect. But he had done
enough for our encouragement: enough to help us to believe that the
best minds of the future are to be neither religious minds defying
scientific advance, nor scientific minds denying religion, but minds
in which religion interprets and is interpreted by science, in which
faith and enquiry subsist together and reinforce one another. The
reason why he should have been so soon taken from us and from the
Church on earth--taken when 'our need was the sorest'--lies in the
impenetrable mysteries of God. 'Si dolemus ablatum, non tamen
obliviscimur quod datus fuit, et gratias agimus quod habere illum
meruimus.... Pusillus corde eram et confortabat me; piger et
negligens, et excitabat me[7].'


It seems to us that a due regard to the point of view from which these
studies were written would have obviated some of the criticisms upon
them. For instance, it would have explained why we forbore to enter
upon the questions which may be raised as to the seat and methods of
Church authority. It was because these questions do not arise
practically till the work has been done to which we were attempting to
minister. When a man is once reassured that his faith in Christ is
capable of rational justification, he begins naturally to enquire what
exactly the Christian religion involves in this or that detail, and
how its manifestly authoritative character, as a Divine Revelation, is
to find expression: but these enquiries hardly begin till the
preliminary reassurance has been gained.

The _moral_ authority of Christianity, of Christian lives and
characters, does indeed exercise a determining influence on the
promotion and recovery of faith; but men do not often either win a
hold on the creed for the first time, or recover it where it has been
lost or impaired, because the theological authority of the Church
enables them to take it on trust. The very grounds of that authority
are for the moment too much in question to admit of the proper amount
of deference being given to it. Thus it seemed to us better in this
volume to be content with general statements as to the principle of
Church authority[8], leaving out its detailed discussion as unsuitable
to our present purpose.

Of course, however, we were conscious all the time that we were
ourselves amenable to the bar of authority and were bound to feel sure
that nothing we were saying was transgressing the laws which the
Catholic Church has laid down. We should indeed be unanimous in
disclaiming any desire to have 'license to say what we please' in our
position as Church teachers. All meaning would be taken out of the
effort and hope this book represents if we could not believe that we
were speaking as the Church would have us speak. As the essay on
Inspiration has been chiefly called in question on the ground of
authority, the author of it must be allowed to plead that he did
assure himself he was saying nothing which the Church in her past
action had not left him free to say, while for the future he does
earnestly desire in due course, and after due enquiry, an action of
Church authority on the relation of modern critical methods to the
doctrine of Inspiration; and further he believes that the Anglican
churches, holding as they do so conspicuous a place in traditional
reverence for the Scriptures, while they are so free on the other hand
from the obscurantist fear of historical enquiry, are more likely than
any other part of the Church to arrive at determinations on the
subject such as will be of material service to the whole of
Christendom. But for the present there can be no doubt the subject is
not ripe for any official or formal determinations.


It seems to us also that some of the criticisms on the treatment of
Inspiration in Essay VIII, which shall be presently dealt with, have
been due to the same forgetfulness of the writer's aim, and of the
general aim of the whole book. Our traditional belief in the Bible is
at the present time confronted with a body of critical literature
which claims to overthrow a great many of the accepted opinions about
the Old Testament Scriptures. The criticism is at least grave and
important enough to claim attention, to necessitate that we should
come to a more or less clear understanding of the relation in which
our faith stands towards it. The writer of the essay did not write as
a biblical critic but as a theological student and teacher, bound to
give a candid consideration to a criticism which bears directly upon
the sacred books of our religion. His object was not to discuss and
determine questions of biblical criticism, but to explain, as it
appears to him, the relation which theology is to take up towards
them. And he wrote 'in the mind of those who have felt the trouble in
the air:' he wrote to succour a faith distressed by the problems
criticism is raising. That faith is very widely distressed by them,
and that not merely in academic circles, does not admit of question.
Nor did it seem to him to admit of question that the best way to deal
with this distress was not to attempt to solve problems, which,
because of the immense area over which discussion ranges, do not admit
of ready solutions; but to attempt to state the main conclusions
criticism is claiming to have arrived at, as the critics themselves
would have us state them; to show that our Christian faith is not
vitally affected by them; and so to divert an anxious mind from
problems which it cannot solve, at least at present, and fix it on the
central truths of our religion, helping it to feel how, if it be once
grounded on these central truths, the issue of the critical discussion
can be awaited, with keen interest indeed, but without alarm. But this
assurance of mind in face of the critical controversy is only possible
if we see that the critical positions are in fact compatible with the
real _inspiration_ of Holy Scripture. Now the best way to give
reassurance on this point seemed to be for the writer to make it plain
that he himself felt the great force and appeal of the critical case,
and that his conviction that the real Inspiration of the Old Testament
was unaffected by it, did not depend upon its being underrated. Had
the main purpose of the writer been to help to determine critical
positions, he would have been bound to write both at greater length
and also with more exactness and discrimination. But on the other
hand, the purpose of reassurance would have had less chance of being
successfully accomplished--as in some cases we have reason to believe
with thankfulness that it has been accomplished or assisted--if the
writer had been more reluctant to accept, at least hypothetically,
what are claimed as critical results. We all know by experience that
freedom and happiness in our attitude as Christians towards problems
not easily solved, or even easily brought to crucial tests, are most
readily secured if we can feel that our faith is, at the last resort,
independent of the exact solution arrived at. Thus our object was to
give to anxious enquirers, of whom there are surely an immense number
most deserving of any help which can be given them, a freedom in
regard to Old Testament problems as wide as the Catholic faith seemed
to warrant.


We cannot but accept the very general suggestion of our critics that
we ought to have attempted a separate treatment of the problem of sin.
Some such treatment is now offered in the second appendix, and offered
in the form of a republication of what has previously seen the light,
so that it may be plain that the absence of it from earlier editions
was not due to lack of conviction or unwillingness to deal with the
subject. The appendix is not in fact more than a drawing out of what
is involved in some passages of the essays taken together[9]. Thus the
fifth essay takes up a very clear position as to the practical aspect
which sin bears in human life. The fact is emphasized that sin, as our
moral consciousness knows it and Christianity has successfully dealt
with it, is a phenomenon unique in the world:--it is what nothing else
is, violation of law. Now this is the essence of the Christian
doctrine of sin, as S. John states it: 'Sin is lawlessness[10].' Sin
and lawlessness are coincident terms. This view of sin is primarily
_practical_; it may be represented in fact as a postulate required for
successfully dealing with sin, a postulate justified and verified by
its results. But because it is thus verified and justified, it passes
like any other hypothesis which explains facts, in proportion to the
range and thoroughness of the experience which tests it, out of the
region of mere working hypotheses into that of accepted truths. Thus
it is to the Christian consciousness an accepted truth, that sin, all
down the long history of humanity, has been a violation of the divine
order, a refusal of obedience, a corruption of man's true nature. Sin,
as such, has always been a source of confusion, not of progress. We
can indeed recognise how the movement and development in humanity has
frequently[11] been in fact conditioned by sin; but we should still
contend that it has never been the sin in itself which has been the
spring of force and progress, but the faculties of will and intellect
which sin was using. Always the will and intellect would have worked
better and more fruitfully in the result if they had been free from
the taint of selfishness and rebellion against God. Always sin, as
such, has been a lowering and not a raising of human life: a fall and
not a rise. Thus sin at the beginning of human life must have been not
merely the awakening of moral consciousness, but the obscuring and
tainting of it by lawlessness and disobedience. Sin, as all down its
history, so in its origin, is a fall; a fall, moreover, entailing
consequences on those who come after, in virtue of the inviolable
solidarity of the human race. To this view of sin original and actual,
Christianity appears to be bound; and it is a view that, as we have
now endeavoured to show[12], brings us into no conflict with
scientific discovery. For science never attempts to prove that man
might not have developed otherwise than as in fact he has, or that the
actual development has been the best possible: nor has Christianity
ever in its best representatives, certainly not in its patristic
representatives, been identified with a denial that human history as a
whole has been a development upwards from below[13]. The Old Testament
is in fact among ancient literatures, the literature of development,
of progress[14].


The criticisms on our treatment of Inspiration have been so abundant,
and have gone into such detail, that it will be obvious that any
attempt to reply to them must be a more individual effort than the
attempt to reply to the criticisms on the general aim and spirit of
the book. For while the writers in this volume are at one as to the
general attitude which they would wish the Church to assume towards
the critical treatment of the Old Testament, as they are at one in the
general line of treatment adopted throughout this volume, they cannot
pretend to be at one on all the details of a complicated subject. The
writer of the particular essay alone can be responsible for these: and
with reference to them he must be understood to speak simply in his
own person.

1. The passage about Inspiration was written under the conviction that
recent criticism of the Old Testament represents a real advance in
analytical method as applied to literature, and thus a most serious
movement of thought. As such it has been estimated by the Bishop of
Oxford in his recent Charge. He says, 'The Holy Scriptures of the Old
Testament are now going through a process of analytical criticism
which has, as we believe, had no parallel, for acuteness of
investigation, carefulness of method, and completeness of apparatus,
since the days in which they began to be regarded as a code of
inspired literature, and certainly not since the days of our blessed
Lord's life on earth; at which period we understand that to all
intents and purposes the books which we receive, as the Canonical Old
Testament Scriptures, had taken their existing form[15].' But like the
scientific movement of our time, the critical movement has been
accompanied by all the arbitrariness and tendency to push things to
extremes which appears to be an almost inseparable attendant upon
living and vigorous movements, ecclesiastical and secular. Further
than this, its representatives have been--and here again the
conditions of the scientific movement are reproduced--very frequently
men personally opposed to the Christian faith, and even thoroughly
rationalistic in temper and tone. But it does not follow in the case
of criticism, any more than in the case of science, that we are not to
learn a great deal from a movement characterized even predominantly by
'extremeness' and unbelief. And in fact, in the past fifty years there
appears to have been a solid critical advance, underneath a great deal
of controversial arbitrariness and irreligious insolence. Now I
thought that I should best serve the purpose with which I was writing,
if I went as far as I could in ungrudging recognition of the claims of
criticism, and involved myself as little as possible in doubtful
discussions; but I did also intend to express, and believed myself to
have expressed with sufficient clearness[16], my own conviction that
it was with the more conservative among the recent critics, and not
with the more extreme, that the victory would lie. Thus when I said,
in a sentence which has been specially criticized (partly because its
wording was somewhat ambiguous), that criticism is reaching 'results
as sure as scientific enquiry,' what I intended so to characterize was
not the extreme conclusions of Wellhausen, but substantially the
conclusions shared in common by Wellhausen and Dillmann, by critics
theologically more conservative, like König and Riehm, by Delitzsch in
his last position, by the French Catholic orientalist, F. Lenormant,
as well as by an increasing body of English scholars[17]. Nor is there
a single line of what I wrote which would be affected, so far as I
see, even if Professor Margoliouth were satisfactorily to make out his
case for throwing back the period of the 'Middle Hebrew[18].' As to
the grounds on which we have been asked to date the bulk of the Psalms
below the Captivity, and even in the Maccabean period, they may appear
indeed quite unconvincing; but it would have been utterly beside my
purpose, as it would also have been out of my power, to give them
adequate discussion[19], nor would it seem as if even so improbably
late a date as that suggested would really affect their Messianic or
spiritual character. Let us affirm then without any hesitation that
there is a good deal of arbitrariness and extremeness in current
criticism as applied to the Old Testament. But surely we should be the
victims of a dangerous delusion if we were to imagine that because
there is a good deal that is unsubstantial in recent criticism,
therefore there is no substantial force in what really represents the
successive labours of many generations of students. I do not think
that we can conceal from ourselves that if we are to defend a purely
conservative attitude in regard to Old Testament literature, we shall
require quite different canons of evidence from those which we are
able so successfully to use in vindicating the historical character of
the New Testament: or again, in vindicating the claims of the
apostolic ministry and the sacramental system to be part of the
original fabric of the Christian Church. In other words, the critical
principles of historical enquiry which _do_ so amply justify us in
retaining substantially the traditional position in regard as well to
the New Testament documents as to our Church principles, _do not_
carry us to the same point in the field of the Old Testament. No doubt
there the vastness of the field is a permanent obstacle to uniformly
certain results. A great deal must remain, and probably for ever, more
or less an open question. But this necessary uncertainty, if it
imposes on critics an obligation of caution, imposes also on us
churchmen an obligation of reserve in dogmatic requirement. We do not
wish to run the risk of making a claim on men's minds for the
acceptance of positions for which we have only this to urge, that they
cannot be absolutely disproved.

2. The changed view of the development of Old Testament literature,
such as can be truly said to be proposed for our acceptance by modern
critics with a great deal of unanimity, _if it be granted for the
moment that it is compatible with the real inspiration of the books_,
involves no important change in our spiritual use of the Old
Testament; in the use of it for the purposes of 'faith and morals.'
This latter use of Scripture depends simply on our rightly
interpreting the meaning of the books as they exist.

There is a great principle enunciated by S. Augustine in regard to the
Old Testament which requires to be kept constantly in view. It is that
as the Old Testament is manifested in the New, so the New Testament is
latent in the Old[20]. In order to recognize this there is no
discussion necessary of the method by which our 'Old Testament'
received its present shape. The evidence of it lies in the Old
Testament considered as a finished product. As such, we cannot study
that 'divine library' without being struck both by its unity, so far
greater than belongs to any other literature[21], and by the fact that
like no other literature it looks forward to an end not yet attained,
a divine event in which is to be its justification and its
interpretation. The Old Testament demands the New to bring out its
true meaning: the New appeals back to the Old to bear witness to the
continuity of the divine purpose of which it is the outcome. It is
from this point of view that we understand the appeal which, in the
New Testament, is so constantly made to the older Scriptures. Whether
they are appealed to, as in the Sermon on the Mount, as containing the
record of a moral education, divine though imperfect, which the Christ
was to complete[22]; or as by St. Paul, as the record of a preparatory
and temporary discipline by means of external enactments of God,
calculated to awaken the dull conscience of men to the reality and
holiness of the divine will, and so to make men conscious of sin
against God, and ready to welcome the dispensation of pardon and
grace[23]; or, as in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as a system of ritual
and ceremonial observances, in which were shadowed forth by the
inspiring Spirit[24] the deep truths of the still-needed sacrifice,
and the access to God not yet won for man; or finally, as by almost
all the New Testament writers, as a prophetic dispensation in which
the Messianic hope found gradual expression in fuller and exacter
lineaments, and produced an anticipation which Christ only could
satisfy[25]:--from any of these points of view, or from all taken
together, we are concerned only with the Old Testament as it finally
appears, not with the method by which it came into being. It cannot be
too strongly emphasized that when we seek reassurance in regard to the
inspiration of those books of the Old Testament, to which our Lord and
His Church refer us, we find it primarily in the substance of the
books as they are given to us, not in any considerations of the manner
in which they came into existence[26].

And if this is so, it needs to be borne in mind that the
responsibility for bringing it home to the consciences of men, the
responsibility for thus preventing that breach in religious continuity
which the change in critical and literary conceptions of the Old
Testament might otherwise occasion, lies in a preeminent degree upon
those of us who are most impressed with the valid elements of the
recent criticism. It belongs to us to see to it that, so far as lies
with us, the Bible shall not be less prized by the generations that
are coming, as the divine, the inspired volume, than it has been by
the generations that are gone. It belongs to us to attend to the
double admonition of the _De Imitatione_: 'Every scripture must be
read in the same spirit in which it was written:' and 'Do not enquire
who said this, but pay heed to what is said.'

3. There is one appeal which the New Testament makes to the Old which
was not alluded to above, as it does not in fact fall naturally under
S. Augustine's principle of the New Testament lying hid in the
Old--namely the appeal to it as to a historical record of God's actual
dealings with His people: a record of things which actually 'happened
unto them for ensamples, and are written for our admonition.' But this
appeal again would not be invalidated unless it were shown--not merely
that there is an ideal element mixed with the history in the Old
Testament record, but--that the element which is not mere narrative of
events as they happened, the element of idealism, reaches to the point
of obscuring the real significance of the facts and distorting their
divine meaning. Whereas the truth is that the ideal element in the
narrative comes from the real divine meaning in the facts being
brought into emphatic prominence rather than overlooked; and we may
depend upon it that no results of criticism have tended to weaken our
belief that the chroniclers of Israel's history, whether prophetic or
priestly, were inspired to see its true meaning and tendency, and from
their different points of view to bring it out in its completeness.
And it is important to remember in this connection that the Jewish
idea of 'history' was never our modern critical idea of a mere record.
They ranked their history from Joshua to the books of Kings under the
head of 'prophecy,' and intimate to us by this very classification
that they see in the historian one who not only records but interprets

4. The changed view of the Old Testament books which modern criticism
asks of us, concerns, then, not so much their contents, as the
circumstances of their composition and the method by which they
reached their present form. When we pass to this latter class of
considerations we are prepared for any information which criticism or
tradition can give us, while at the same time our indestructible
conviction, fortified by the strongest internal testimony of the
books, that here is the Holy Spirit's work, gives us an antecedent
expectation that the mode of composition in the case of each book will
be such as God in His condescension can have sanctioned and used. God,
I say, in His condescension--because undoubtedly the whole Old
Testament does represent a condescension of God to a low stage of
human development. Here then we need the recognition of a second great
principle which S. Augustine lays down, viz. that 'as wrong is done to
the Old Testament if it be denied to come from the just and good God,
so wrong is done to the New if it be put on a level with the Old[28].'

For all the reality of its inspiration the Old Testament is on a lower
level than the New. Thus it is now almost universally recognised that
God in the Old Testament is seen appealing to the human conscience at
a low stage of its development, tolerating what was not according to
His original will or His ultimate purpose[29], as in the case of
divorce, and even, as in the case of Abraham's sacrifice, appealing to
men to do things which in a more fully developed state of the
conscience could not be even conceived of as commanded by God, in
order that through their very obedience to the appeal they might be
led higher into the knowledge of what God could, and could not,
enjoin. How fully this principle in God's dealings was recognised and
justified by the early Christian authorities has been already brought
out in this volume[30].

Again, the same method of condescending to what was not in itself
perfect, but was susceptible of a gradual education, appears in the
institutions of the Old Testament law of worship. Modern enquirers are
pressing upon us the fact that the ritual law of Israel is closely
akin to the common ritual customs of Semite races. 'What I may call
the natural basis of Israel's worship,' says Prof. Robertson Smith,
'was very closely akin to that of the neighbouring cults[31].' The
peculiarity of Israel's religion lay in fact not in the ritual itself,
but in the moral and theological turn given to the ritual. According
to this view God in the law appears as diverting to good uses, by an
act of condescension, ritual customs which it would have been
premature to abolish. Such a view of the ritual is somewhat strange to
the ears of modern Churchmen, but it was undoubtedly the prevalent
view of the law among the great writers of Christian antiquity.
References to illustrate this have been given in the eighth essay[32].

But I may add to the passages there referred to another of very
striking force. S. Chrysostom is explaining why God should have
appealed to the astrological notions of the wise men and led them by
no other leading than that of a star. It is because 'in exceeding
condescension He calls them through what is familiar.... In imitation
of this Paul too reasons with the Greeks from an altar, and adduces
testimony from the poets, while he harangues the Jews with
circumcision, and makes from the sacrifices a beginning of instruction
for those who are living under the law. For since to every one
familiar things are dear, therefore both God Himself and the men who
were sent from God, with a view to the salvation of the world, manage
things on this principle. Think it not then unworthy of Him to have
called them by a star; for by the same rule thou wilt find fault with
all the Jewish rites also--both the sacrifices and the purifications
and the new moons, and the ark, and the temple itself. For all these
things had their origin from Gentile grossness. Yet God, on account of
the salvation of those in error, endured to be worshipped by means of
the very things through which those outside were worshipping demons,
only giving them a slight alteration, that little by little he might
draw them away from their customs and lead them up to the high

Now if we recognize that God in the Old Testament can condescend for
the purposes of His revelation to a low stage of conscience, and a low
stage of worship, what possible ground have we for denying that He can
use for purposes of His inspiration literary methods also which belong
to a rude and undeveloped state of intelligence? If He can 'inspire'
with true teaching the native Semite customs of ritual, why can He not
do the same with their traditions of old time? How can we reasonably
deny that the earlier portions of Genesis _may_ contain the simple
record of primitive prehistoric tradition of the Semites[33], moulded
and used by the Holy Spirit, as on all showing the record manifestly
has been moulded and used, to convey the fundamental principles of all
true religion? Or again, granted that, on the 'dramatic' hypothesis,
Deuteronomy written not by Moses, but in Moses' name, to incorporate
the Mosaic tradition, represents a literary method greatly inferior,
in sense of exactitude, to the method of personal testimony as we have
it in S. John[34], or of careful investigation and use of original
testimony, as we have it in S. Luke[35]; granted this--how can we, in
view of the manifest facts of God's condescension, find ourselves in a
position to deny that He can have used such a method as a vehicle of
His inspiration[36]? There is, it must be emphasized, no critical
reason why we should assign the composition of any book of the Old
Testament to the motive of fraud. No doubt hostile critics have
sometimes suggested, for example, that the 'discovery' of the book of
the law in the Temple in the days of Josiah was a 'got up' proceeding,
the book having really been written and hidden at the very time in
order to be 'discovered'; but there is no positive evidence at all to
support such a view, while all the evidence is satisfied by the
hypothesis that an earlier prophet, some hundred years previously[37],
working upon an actual and possibly written tradition of Moses' last
speech, had cast this tradition into the dramatic form and
promulgated, as from Moses' lips, the law which he knew to represent
ultimately Moses' authority or the authority of God in Moses. That
such a method should have been adopted surprises us surely no more
than that Hosea should have been led to use such extraordinary means,
as he seems in fact to have been enjoined to use, of revealing God's
mind of love towards His people. It involves no intention to deceive,
and the discovery of this 'book of the law,' lost in the careless
period which intervened, was a genuine discovery unattended by any
element of fraud.

Once again, if the book of Chronicles contains not pure history but
the priestly view of the history, granted that this priestly point of
view was _morally_ part of the divinely intended education of the
chosen people, even though its intellectual method was as imperfect as
ordinarily is the case with the treatment of traditions in 'schools'
or religious orders, in nations or churches or families, is there any
_à priori_ reason why God, who used so much that was imperfect, should
not have inspired the record of this tradition? Here again we must
emphasize that all that _criticism_ requires of us is to recognise in
the book of Chronicles the record of the history as it became coloured
in the priestly schools; there is nothing here of a morally unworthy
sort from the point of view of the contemporary conscience, but only
the same features as are noticeable in the record of tradition all the
world over[38]. Fraudulent dealing, forgery in literature, always
involves the conscious and deliberate use of methods calculated to
impose on others, _methods other than those sanctioned by the literary
conscience of the time_[39].

No doubt a particular writer, like Wellhausen, may make a bias hostile
to the supernatural apparent in his use of the critical method, and
may give in consequence an antitheological turn to his reconstruction
of history; just as many a scientific writer has done with scientific
facts and scientific method. In view of this we must 'try the spirits'
and not attribute too much force to the point of view of a particular
individual. But this will not be at all the same thing as rejecting
the modern method of criticism or repudiating those results which are
certainly accepted by many critics who are as far as possible from
rejecting the supernatural[40].

5. No serious attempt has, I think, been made to show that the view of
the development of the Old Testament literature which the modern
critical schools, with great unanimity, demand of us, is contrary to
any determination of Church authority. By this it is not meant that
the theology of the Church suggests this view: it is not the function
of the Church to advance literary knowledge, except indirectly; and
thus the Church has not had the power to anticipate the critical, any
more than it had to anticipate the scientific movement. The advance of
knowledge comes in all departments through the natural processes of
intellectual enquiry. It is only now, in fact, that the critical
problem is before the Church; but now that it is before the Church it
does not seem that the Church ought to have any _more_ difficulty in
welcoming it and assimilating it, than it has had in welcoming and
assimilating the legitimate claims of science.

With reference to the bearing of Church authority on the present
discussion, there are three points which I should wish to urge. First,
that the undivided Church never took action on the matter, in spite of
an extravagant tendency to allegorism in Origen and those who were
influenced by him.

Secondly, that as a result of this the patristic theology leaves a
wide opening at least for what we may call the modern way of regarding
the opening chapters of Genesis. Thus a Latin writer, of the fifth or
sixth century, who gives an interesting summary of the Catholic faith,
and is clearly nothing else but a recorder of accepted beliefs, after
speaking of the origin and fall of man and woman, continues thus:
'These things are known through God's revelation to His servant Moses,
whom He willed to be aware of the state and origin of man, as the
books which he produced testify. For all the divine authority (i.e.
the scriptural revelation) appears to exist under such a mode as is
either the mode of history which narrates only what happened, or the
mode of allegory in such sense that it cannot represent the course of
history, or a mode made up of these two so as to remain both
historical and allegorical[41].' A great deal more in the same sense
as this might be produced.

Thirdly, it must be urged that since the division of Christendom no
part of the Church appears really to have tightened the bond of
dogmatic obligation. Our own formularies are of course markedly free
from definition on the subject, and the refusal of the Roman Church to
define the scope of inspiration, beyond the region of faith and
morals, has been remarkable[42].

6. But does the authority of our Lord bind us to repudiate, in loyalty
to Him, the modern views of the origin of the Old Testament books? On
this subject I wish to express my sincere regret that I should have
written so briefly in my essay as to lay myself open to be
misunderstood to suggest our Lord's fallibility as a teacher. I trust
that the passage, as it has stood since the fourth edition[43], will
be at least recognised as plain in its meaning and theologically
innocent. I must ask leave to defer to another occasion the fuller
discussion of this important subject in connection with the doctrine
of the Person of Christ. Meanwhile I would suggest that the longer one
thinks of it the more apparent it will become that _any hypothesis as
to the origin of any one book of the Old Testament, which is
consistent with a belief in its inspiration, must be consistent also
with our Lord having given it His authorisation_. If His Spirit could
inspire it, He, in that Spirit, could give it His recognition--His
recognition, that is to say, in regard to its spiritual function and
character. Thus as we scan carefully our Lord's use of the Old
Testament books, we are surely struck with the fact that nothing[44]
in His use of them depends on questions of authorship or date; He
appeals to them in that spiritual aspect which abides through all
changes of literary theory--their testimony to the Christ: 'Search the
Scriptures ... they are they which testify of Me.' He would thus lead
men to ask about each book of the Old Testament simply the
question,--What is the element of teaching preparatory to the
Incarnation, what is the testimony to Christ, which it supplies? I do
not see how with due regard to the self-limitation which all use of
human forms of thought and speech must on all showing have involved to
the Eternal Son, it can be a difficulty in the way of accepting the
modern hypothesis, that our Lord referred to the inspired books under
the only name by which His reference would have been intelligible to
His hearers. Unless He had violated the whole principle of the
Incarnation, by anticipating the slow development of natural
knowledge, He must have spoken of the Deuteronomist as 'Moses[45],' as
naturally as He spoke of the sun 'rising.' Nor does there seem in fact
any greater difficulty in His speaking of one who wrote 'in the spirit
and power' of Moses as Moses, than in His speaking of one who,
according to the prophecy, came 'in the spirit and power of Elias' as
himself, Elias. 'If ye will receive it, this is Elias.' 'Elias is
already come[46].'

Once more: if the Holy Spirit could use the tradition of the flood to
teach men about divine judgments, then our Lord in the same Spirit can
refer to the flood, for the same purpose. It has however been recently
denied that this can be so, unless the tradition accurately represents
history. 'I venture to ask,' Professor Huxley writes[47], 'what sort
of value as an illustration of God's method of dealing with sin has an
account of an event that never happened?' I should like to meet this
question by asking another. Has the story of the rich man and Lazarus
any value as an illustration of God's method of dealing with men?
Undoubtedly it has. Now what sort of narrative is this? Not a
narrative of events that actually happened, in the sense that there
was a particular beggar to whom our Lord was referring. The narrative
is a _representative_ narrative[48], a narrative of what is constantly
occurring under the form of a particular typical incident. Now the
narrative of the flood belongs to a quite different class of
literature, inasmuch as it is not due to any _deliberate_ action of
imagination; but it resembles our Lord's story _at least_ in being
representative. It is no doubt based on fact. The traditions of the
flood in all races must run back to a real occurrence. But the actual
occurrence cannot be exactly estimated. What we have in Genesis is a
tradition used as a vehicle for spiritual teaching. As the story is
told it becomes, like that of Dives and Lazarus, a typical narrative
of what is again and again happening. Again and again, as in the
destruction of Jerusalem, or in the French Revolution, God's judgments
come on men for their sin: again and again teachers of righteousness
are sent to warn of coming judgment and are ridiculed by a world which
goes on buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage, till the
flood of God's judgment breaks out and overwhelms them. Again and
again, through these great judgments there emerges a remnant, a
faithful stock, to be the fountain head of a new and fresh
development. The narrative of the flood is a representative narrative,
and our Lord, who used the story of Dives and Lazarus, can use this


Professor Huxley's article alluded to just now is a somewhat
melancholy example of a mode of reasoning which one had hoped had
vanished from 'educated circles' for ever--that namely which regards
Christianity as a 'religion of a book' in such sense that it is
supposed to propose for men's acceptance a volume to be received in
all its parts as on the same level, and in the same sense, Divine. On
the contrary, Christianity is a religion of a Person. It propounds for
our acceptance Jesus Christ, as the revealer of the Father. The test
question of the Church to her catechumens has never been: 'Dost thou
believe the Bible?' but 'Dost thou believe that Jesus Christ is the
Son of God?' If we do believe that, then we shall further believe in
the Bible: in the Old Testament as recording how God prepared the way
for Christ; in the New Testament as recording how Christ lived and
taught, and containing the witness borne to Him by His earthly friends
and ministers. The Bible thus 'ought to be viewed as not a revelation
itself, but a record of the proclaiming and receiving of a revelation,
by a body which is still existent, and which propounds the revelation
to us, namely the body of Christians commonly called the Church[50].'
The Bible is the record of the proclamation of the revelation, not the
revelation itself. The revelation is in the Person of Christ, and the
whole stress therefore of _evidential_ enquiry should be laid upon the
central question whether the Divine claim made for Jesus Christ by the
Church is historically justified. The whole evidential battle of
Christianity must thus be fought out on the field of the New
Testament, not of the Old. If Christ be God, the Son of God,
incarnate, as the Creeds assert, Christianity is true. No one in that
case will find any permanent difficulty in seeing that in a most real
sense the Bible, containing both Old and New Testaments, is an
'inspired volume.'

Now faith in the Godhead of our Lord is very far from being a mere
matter of 'evidences.' On this enough is said by more than one writer
in this volume[51]. But so far as 'historical evidences' go, we have
them in our generation in quite fresh force and power. For our New
Testament documents have passed through a critical sifting and
analysis of the most trenchant and thorough sort in the fifty years
that lie behind us. From such sifting we are learning much about the
process through which they took their present shape. But in all that
is material we feel that this critical investigation has only
reassured us in asserting the historical truth of the records on which
our Christian faith rests. This reassurance has been both as to the
substance, and as to the quality of the original apostolic testimony
to Christ. As to its substance, because the critical investigation
justifies us in the confident assertion--more confident as the
investigation has been more thorough than ever before--that the Christ
of our four Gospels, the Christ with His Divine claim and miraculous
life-giving power, the Christ raised from the dead the third day and
glorified at God's right hand, the Christ who is the Son of God
incarnate, is the original Jesus of Nazareth, as they beheld Him and
bore witness who had been educated in closest intercourse with Him. We
are reassured also as to the quality of the apostolic testimony. In
some ages testimony has been careless--so careless, so clouded with
superstition and credulity, as to be practically valueless. But in the
apostles we have men who knew thoroughly the value of testimony and
what depended upon it, who bore witness to what they had seen, and in
all cases, save in the exceptional case of S. Paul, to what they had
seen over a prolonged period of years; whose conviction about Christ
had been gradually formed in spite of much 'slowness of heart,' and
even persistent 'unbelief'; formed also in the face of Sadducean
scepticism and in the consciousness of what would be said against
them; formed into such irresistible strength and unanimity by the
solid impress of facts that nothing could shake it, either in the
individual or in the body. Such testimony does all for us that
testimony can do in such a case. It supports externally and justifies
a traditional faith, which is commended to us at the same time
internally by its self-evidencing power. And with that faith as the
strength of our life we can await with confidence the issue of minor

It may be hoped that the discussion which this book has raised may do
good in two ways.

It may enable people to put the Bible into its right place in the
fabric of their Christian belief. It may help to make it plain that in
the full sense the Christian's faith is faith only in a Person, and
that Person Jesus Christ: that to justify this faith he needs from the
Scriptures only the witness of some New Testament documents,
considered as containing history: while his belief in the Bible as
inspired is, speaking logically, subsequent to his belief in Christ,
and even, when we include the New Testament, subsequent to his belief
in the Church, as the Body of Christ, rather than prior to it[52].

There is also another good result to which we may hope to see the
present controversy minister--the drawing of a clear line in regard to
development between the Old Testament and the New. For all modern
criticism goes to emphasize the gradualness of the process through
which, under the Old Covenant, God prepared the way for Christ. Now
all that can be brought to light in this sense, the Church can await
with indifference from a theological point of view, because it is of
the essence of the Old Testament to be the record of a gradual
self-disclosure of God continuous and progressive till the incarnation
of Jesus Christ. It is, on the other hand, of the essence of the New
Testament revelation that, as given in Christ and proclaimed by His
apostles, it is, as far as this world is concerned, in its substance,
final and adequate for all ages. It is this, because of its essential
nature. If Christ is 'the Word made flesh,' the 'Son of God made Son
of Man,' then finality essentially belongs to this disclosure of
Godhead and this exhibition of manhood. 'He that hath seen Him hath
seen the Father,' and he that hath seen Him hath seen perfect man,
hath seen our manhood in its closest conceivable relation to God, at
the goal of all possible spiritual and moral development. All our
growth henceforth can only be a growth into 'the measure of the
stature of His fulness'--a growth into the understanding and
possession of Him who was once manifested. Finality is of the essence
of the New Covenant, as gradual communication of truth was of the Old.

If these two results are obtained, we shall not be liable any more to
be asked 'where we are going to stop' in admitting historical
uncertainty. 'If you admit so much uncertainty in the Old Testament,
why do you not admit the same in the New?' We shall not be liable to
be asked this question, because it will be apparent that the
starting-point as of enquiry, so of security, lies in the New
Testament and then proceeds to extend itself to the Old. For us, at
least, the Old Testament depends upon the New, not the New upon the

Nor shall we be liable any more to be asked, 'Why, if you admit so
much development in actual substance in the truth revealed under the
Old Covenant, cannot you admit a similar augmentation under the New?'
This question will be prevented, because it will be apparent that the
essential conditions are different in the two cases. Progress in
Christianity is always reversion to an original and perfect type, not
addition to it: it is progress only in the understanding of the
Christ. 'Regnum tuum, Domine, regnum omnium saeculorum; et dominatio
tua in omni generatione et generationem.'

 C. G.

 _July, 1890_.

  The chief changes of any importance in this edition are (1) the
  addition of a note at the end of the first essay; (2) the alteration
  of a few sentences on pp. 289, 296-7 of Essay VII; (3) the
  alteration of note 2 on p. 345 and note 1 on p. 346 in Essay VIII;
  (4) the expansion on p. 357, § 6 of the opening sentences; (5) the
  addition of an appendix on _The Christian Doctrine of Sin_.

[3] By the phrase 'to attempt to put the Catholic faith into its right
relation to modern intellectual and moral problems' (Preface to First
Edition) it was not by any means intended to suggest that the modern
problems or the modern sciences were the things of the first
importance and the faith only secondary. What was intended was that,
as holding the Faith, we needed, as the Church has often needed, to
bring that with which we are ourselves identified, into relation to
the claims, intellectual and practical, made upon us from outside.

[4] Cf. Dr. Pusey, _University Sermons_, 1864-1879. 'Unscience, not
science, contrary to faith,' pp. 18 ff.

[5] Cf. the history of the relations of the Church to Aristotelian
philosophy: Milman, _Latin Christianity_, ed. 4, vol. ix. pp. 110 ff.;
and later the relations of Christianity to the Copernican astronomy:
Salmon, _Infallibility of the Church_, p. 230.

[6] See the tribute to his memory by Mr. G. J. Romanes: _Guardian_,
Jan. 29, 1890.

[7] From S. Bernard's most touching sermon (_in Cant. 26_) on the
death of his brother Gerard.

[8] See Essay VI. pp. 226-227, 250 ff.; Essay VIII. pp. 324-327; and
Essay IX. pp. 384-390.

[9] See Preface, p. ix. note 1.

[10] Cf. Dr. Westcott's note on 1 S. John iii. 4, ἡ ἁμαρτία ἐστὶν ἡ

[11] Cf. F. Lenormant, _Les Origines de l'histoire_. Paris, 1880, t.
1, p. 191. 'C'est dans la race de Qaîn que la Bible place l'invention
des arts et des métiers. "Les fils du siècle sont plus habiles que les
enfants de lumière."'

[12] Cf. p. 534.

[13] Cf. p. 535, note 1.

[14] Cf. F. Lenormant, _Les Origines_, t. 1, pp. 63-66. It is a
pleasure to refer to this work by a distinguished Catholic and man of
learning. The Preface is an admirable discussion of the relation of
scientific enquiry to belief in Inspiration.

[15] _Oxford Diocesan Gazette_, July, 1890 (Parker, Oxford), p. 91.

[16] The summary statements on pp. 351-2 as to the historical
character of the Old Testament represent, I believe, a 'conservative'
attitude, an attitude towards the history very unlike that, for
instance, of Wellhausen.

[17] See Ed. Riehm, _Einleitung in das A. T._ (Halle, 1889), §§ 15-18,
24, 27. F. E. König, _Offenbarungsbegriff des A. T._ (Leipzig, 1882),
t. 11, pp. 321 ff. Cf. also _Hauptprobleme der Altisr.-Religionsgesch._
(Leipzig, 1884). F. Delitzsch, _Genesis_, Clark's trans. (Edinb.,
1888), i. 19-38. F. Lenormant, _Les Origines_, Préface. I venture to
think that those who want to study the modern criticism of the Old
Testament would be less likely to be prejudiced against it if they
were to begin their study with the assistance of Riehm and König,
rather than of more rationalistic scholars. I ought to add that while
the scholars mentioned above agree substantially as to the analysis of
the Pentateuch, they differ as to the position assigned to the
Priestly Code, which Dillmann and Riehm hold to be prior to
Deuteronomy, Wellhausen, König and Delitzsch subsequent to it.

[18] _Essay on the place of Ecclesiasticus in Semitic Literature._
Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1890, pp. 20, 21. I allude to this essay
because it has excited considerable interest, but it has not received
favourable notice from critics either English or German. For a review
by a very competent critic, see Prof. Nöldeke in the _Lit.
Centralblatt_, July 12, 1890.

[19] I may say that the motive for what is said about Ps. cx on p. 359
was simply the conviction that our Lord in the passage there in
question cannot fairly be taken as giving instruction on a critical
question of authorship, not the difficulty of assigning the particular
Psalm to the age of David. The solution which I propose, p. 359, as to
our Lord's words is however only one of several which are possible
even for those who agree with me in the conviction expressed above.
See, for instance, Edersheim, _Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah_
(London, 1884), ii. p. 406, and Bp. Thirlwall as quoted in Dean
Perowne's _Commentary on the Psalms_ (London 1871), ii. pp. 302 ff.

[20] S. Augustine, _Quæst. 73 in Exod._: 'Quamquam et in vetere
[Testamento] novum lateat, et in novo vetus pateat.' Quoted by Dr.
Liddon, _The worth of the Old Testament_, p. 28.

[21] Cf. Didymus _in Psalm._ xxi. 19, where he interprets Christ's
'seamless robe,' of the Holy Scriptures which they 'part' who accept
one and reject another. 'This robe of Jesus is also indivisible, for
it is seamless. Its unity is not enforced but natural [οὐ γὰρ
βεβιασμένην ἕνωσιν ἀλλὰ συμφυῆ ἔχει]; it is 'from above' [from the
top, A.V.] because it is inspired; it is 'woven throughout,' because
in its whole force it is from above.'

[22] S. Matt. v. 17-48, cf. xix. 8: 'Moses, because of the hardness of
your hearts,' etc.

[23] After S. Paul, S. Augustine is the great exponent of this
principle in early days; see esp. _de spiritu et littera_, xix. (34):
Lex ergo data est ut gratia quaereretur: gratia data est ut lex

[24] See esp. Heb. ix. 8, 'The Holy Spirit this signifying;' and cf.
Dr. Westcott on this Epistle, pp. 233 ff.

[25] I would venture to recommend Riehm's _Messianic Prophecy_
(Clark's trans.), as a summary account of prophecy both reverent and

[26] Cf. Hooker's account of our grounds for believing that 'Scripture
... is divine and sacred.' 'By experience,' he says, 'we all know,
that the first outward motive leading men so to esteem of the
Scripture is the authority of God's Church.... Afterwards the more we
bestow our labour in reading or hearing the mysteries thereof, the
more we find that the thing itself doth answer our received opinion
concerning it.' Later again, as against 'infidels or atheists,' we
must 'maintain the authority of the books of God ... by such kind of
proofs ... that no man living shall be able to deny it, without
denying some apparent principle such as all men acknowledge to be
true.' _E. P._ III. viii. 14.

[27] The Chronicles and the later historical books, as is well known,
were included in the third class of 'Hagiographa' with the Psalmists
and Moralists.

The truth of this paragraph depends upon (1) the character, (2) the
extent of the idealism of Old Testament facts. On this something more
is said later on. Here I am only concerned to distinguish an idealism
which truly interprets facts, even if it throws their spiritual
meaning into high relief, from a merely imaginative treatment which
perverts and distorts them. Thus if the Chronicler idealizes, it is by
emphasizing, beyond the point of actual fact, the priestly element in
the history which at the same time did both really exist and really
represent the divine purpose.

[28] _De Gestis Pelag._ v. (15), 'Sicut veteri Testamento si esse ex
Deo bono et summo negetur, ita et novo fit injuria si veteri
aequetur.' S. Augustine does not perhaps carry out the recognition of
this principle as fully as some other of the Fathers: for refs. see
pp. 229 ff.

[29] S. Matt. xix. 8.

[30] See pp. 329 ff.

[31] _Religion of the Semites._ Edinburgh, 1889, p. 4.

[32] p. 329, note 2. The passage here added is from S. Chrysost. _in
Matt._ vi. 3. The same idea is discerned by Bp. Lightfoot in S. Paul;
see on Gal. iv. 11.

[33] I use the word 'myth' for those primitive stories on p. 356. The
legitimacy of this use may be disputed, see e.g. Riehm, _Einleitung_,
p. 342. But I endeavour to explain exactly the sense in which the word
is used. On Strauss's application of the myth theory to the Gospel
narratives, I should quite assent to the remarks of Dr. Mill,
_Mythical Interpretation of the Gospels_ (Cambridge, 1861), pp. 97,

[34] S. John i. 14, xix. 35, xxi. 24; 1 S. John i. 1-3.

[35] S. Luke i. 1-4.

[36] I would call attention in this connection to Dr. Salmon's remarks
on S. Jude's use, even in the New Testament canon, of the traditions
contained in the Assumption of Moses, and his quotation of the book of
Enoch: see at the end of his lecture on S. Jude's Epistle in the
_Introduction to the New Testament_.

[37] Cf. Riehm, _Einleitung_, i. p. 246: 'Das Gesetzbuch kann nicht
erst unter Josia geschrieben sein, sondern es muss spätestens zur Zeit
des Hiskia entstanden sein, und zwar bevor dieser König seine
Reformation ganz durchgeführt hatte.'

[38] A common feature in all traditions is what Wellhausen describes
as the main characteristic of the Chronicler, 'the timeless manner of
looking at things which is natural to him.' He 'figures the old Hebrew
people as in exact conformity with the pattern of the later Jewish
community.' _Proleg. to Hist. of Israel_ (Edinburgh, 1885), pp.
190-193. In tradition what _is_ authoritative tends to be represented
as what _always has been_ authoritative.

[39] Thus the Pseudo-Isidorian Decretals are properly called
forgeries; and the evidence of this would lie in the fact that the
author could not have afforded to disclose the method and
circumstances of their production.

[40] Thus Riehm, whose position is described above on p. xx, has a
noble section (_Einleit._ pp. 349 ff.) on the Pentateuch considered as
the record of a Revelation. The conviction of the revelation of God is
ascribed in part to 'the immediate impression which the Pentateuch
makes. Anyone who reads it, so as to allow its contents to work upon
his spirit, must receive the impression that a consciousness of God,
such as is here expressed, cannot be derived from flesh and blood.'

[41] _De fide Catholica._ The treatise is ascribed to Boethius: see
Boetii, _Opuscula Sacra_ (Teubner Series), p. 178. On the fresh
evidence of the authorship of those treatises supplied by the
_Anecdoton Holderi_ see Hodgkin's _Letters of Cassiodorus_, London,
1886, pp. 80-1.

[42] See the account in Manning's _Temporal Mission of the Holy
Ghost_, London, 1877, pp. 156-160, and p. 166. Cf. also Newman's words
below, p. 350.

[43] pp. 359-60.

[44] Nothing--except, on the customary interpretation, His reference
to Psalm cx. This does seem to lay stress on David's authorship,
unless it be regarded, as it certainly seems to me fair to regard it,
as a question, rather than as positive instruction at all--a question
simply calculated to lead the Pharisees to examine their own
principles. Unless it be so interpreted it does seem to depend, as an
argument, on personal authorship, because unless it be by David, it
seems very difficult to suppose it written in David's person. It would
naturally be a Psalm in which _the King is addressed_.

[45] S. John v. 46-47.

[46] S. Luke i. 17; S. Matt. xi. 14; xvii. 12.

[47] _Nineteenth Century_, July, 1890, p. 20. The bulk of his argument
is directed against a position different from mine. Here I am only
concerned with a single point.

[48] The proper name 'Lazarus' is presumably used because of its
meaning. It should be noticed that the story is not a _parable_ proper
like that of the Sower or the Prodigal Son.

[49] It may be remarked that to regard 'the flood' as a representative
or typical expression of a whole class of divine judgments, helps us
in interpreting S. Peter's use of it in 1 Peter iii. 19-20. There is
no reason for an exceptional treatment of those who perished in one
particular flood, but there is every reason why 'the Gospel should
have been preached to those who died' under God's physical judgments
of old times, supposing these, as we must suppose them, not to
represent God's final moral judgment on individuals: see 1 Peter
iv. 6.

[50] These words are Bishop Steere's: see the _Memoir_ of him by R. M.
Heanley, London, 1888, p. 404. He admirably characterizes the true
function of the Bible in the Church. It is (1) a criterion, not a
teacher; (2) a record of the proclamation of the revelation, not the
revelation itself.

[51] See pp. 29 ff., 229 ff., 337 ff.

[52] Cp. pp. 338-341, where this is explained. The 'logical' order of
belief is often no doubt not the order of experience. The Bible can
draw men to itself, and through itself to Christ, before they take any
heed of the Church. But to feel the power of inspiration is a
different thing from having reasoned grounds for calling certain books



    I. Faith; its situation; its behaviour; challenged by novel
       experiences; alarmed at its own perplexity                       3-5

       Yet why alarmed?                                                   5

       Perplexity consistent with faith, when faith is stripped of
       its habitual corroborations from without: and summoned to
       submit itself to internal observation                            5-8

       For faith is an elemental act of personal self: and,
       therefore, like all such acts, e.g. of thought; will; love;
       is, necessarily, incapable of offering itself for
       scientific examination                                          8-11

   II. What is faith?                                                 11-12

       The motion in us of our sonship in the Father; the
       conscious recognition, and realization, of our inherent
       filial adhesion to God                                         13-15

       This intimacy of relationship is capable of indefinite
       growth, of 'supernatural' development                             15

       The history of faith is the gradual discovery of this
       increasing intimacy                                            16-18

       The demand for faith is (_a_) _universal_, for all are sons;
       (_b_) _urgent_, as appealing to a vital fact;
       (_c_) _tolerant_, as reposing on existent fact                 18-21

  III. Faith, an act of _basal_ personality, at the root of
       all outflowing activities; is present, as animating force,
       within all natural faculties. When summoned out, into
       positive or direct action on its own account = Religion,
       i.e. the emergence, into open manifestation, of Fatherhood
       and sonship, which lie hidden within all secular life          21-28

       Faith, an energy of basal self, using, as instruments and
       material, the sum of faculties; therefore, each faculty,
       _separately_, can give but a _partial_ vindication of an
       integral act of faith                                          28-29

       This applies to _Reason_; compare its relation to acts
       of affection, imagination, chivalry; all such acts are acts
       of _Venture_, using evidence of reason in order to go
       beyond evidence                                                30-34

       So faith makes use of all knowledge, but is, itself, its
       own motive. It uses, as its instrument, every stage of
       science; but is pledged to no one particular stage             34-38

   IV. Faith, simple adhesion of soul to God; yet, once begun, it
       has a history of its own; long, complicated, recorded in
       Bible, stored up in Creeds                                     38-41

       This involves difficulties, intricacies, efforts; all this,
       the necessary consequence of our being born in the 'last
       days'                                                          41-45

       Yet to the end, faith remains an act of personal and
       spiritual adhesion                                             45-46

    V. Faith, not only covers a long past, but anticipates the
       future; it pledges itself ahead, e.g. in the case of
       'ordination vows.' Such pledges justified, because the act
       of faith is personal; and the object of faith is final,
       i.e. 'Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever'        46-54



    I. Object of the essay and attitude assumed                       57-59

   II. A broad contrast between the God of Philosophy and the God
       of religion                                                    59-60

       Attempts to get rid of the opposition (1) by division of
       territory; (2) by confusion of terms                           60-63

  III. Religion demands that God shall be Personal, and stand in a
       moral relationship with man                                    63-65

   IV. Growth and purification of the religious conception of God     65-68

    V. _Religion and Morals._ Collision between the two in Greece,
       and its consequences. Synthesis of religion and morality
       among the Jews: and in Christianity                            68-78

       Subsequent collisions between religion and morals within
       the Christian Church. The Reformation a moral protest.
       Immorality of its later developments. Modern protest
       against these                                                  78-82

   VI. _Religion and Reason._ Protest of Greek Philosophy against
       Polytheism. Christian Theology the meeting-point of Jewish
       religion and Greek Philosophy                                  82-86

       What Theology is. Objection to it from the side of
       (1) religion, (2) philosophy                                   86-90

       The Christian doctrine of the Trinity an appeal to the
       reason                                                         90-91

       Its answer to the speculative problems of Greek thought
       (1) as to what unity is; (2) as to the immanence of reason
       in nature                                                      91-95

       The witness of the Fathers                                        95

       The doctrine of the Trinity the true Monotheism; the
       doctrine of the _Logos_ as personal yet immanent               95-96

  VII. The Christian doctrine of God why challenged in the present
       day                                                               96

       The deism of the last century. The new science of nature.
       Evolution restores the truth of the Divine immanence which
       deism denied. Pantheistic reaction                            96-102

       The Christian doctrine of God the safeguard of rational
       religion against deism and pantheism                         102-103

 VIII. The so-called 'proofs' of the existence of God               103-104

       Parallel between the belief in God and the belief in nature  104-107

       Verification in experience the only 'proof.' Reason in both
       the interpreter of Faith                                     107-109



   The problem of pain admits of no new treatment, but the attempt
   to use it as an argument against Christianity calls for a
   recapitulation of what may be said on the other side                 113

   Pain is (1) animal, (2) human.

   (1) Animal pain is a thing of which we can only form
       imaginative conjectures; and these, besides being liable to
       exaggeration, are not of a nature to form premisses for
       argument                                                     113-116

   (2) Common sense tells us that human pain contributes as
       (_a_) punitive, (_b_) purgatorial, (_c_) prophylactic,
       to the development of the individual and the race            116-119

   Natural religion further views it as the necessary condition of
   approach, by sinful beings, to the Divine; and looks for its
   fuller explanation to a future existence                         119-122

   Christianity carries on the view of natural religion, and sees
   in pain and suffering:--

   (_a_) The antidote to sin                                        122-124

   (_b_) The means of individual and social progress                124-125

   (_c_) The source of sympathy with man                                125

   (_d_) The secret of union with God                               125-126



   General considerations on the study of the historical
   preparation, as part of the study of the Incarnation             129-133

   Special value of such study in the present age of historical
   and scientific method which

       may be able to gauge finally the value of naturalist
       theories of the origin of Christianity                       133-134

       may find its own congenial 'signs' in the beauty of
       manifold preparing process; in the wonder of an apparently
       unique convergence of lines of preparation                   134-137

    I. General preparation--in the world at large:

       (1) In the shaping of its external order                     138-142

       (2) Through its inward experiences of

           Failure                                                  142-146

           Progress                                                 146-150

   II. Special preparation--in Israel:

       (1) The singularity of Israel's external position at the
           critical moment of the Christian Era                     150-156

       (2) The paradox of its inward character                      156-159

       (3) The peculiar influences which had made it what it was:   159-160

           _a._ Prophecy                                            160-167

           _b._ The Law                                             167-169

           _c._ The Course of its History                           170-175

  III. The independence of the two preparations; the paradox of
       their fulfilment in one Christ                               175-178



    I. The theory of evolution has recalled our minds to the
       'cosmical significance' of the Incarnation, which was a
       prominent thought in (1) the early (2) mediaeval church      181-187

   II. Theology and Science move in different but parallel planes:
       one gives the meaning, the other the method of creation      187-188

       Thus the doctrine of 'the Eternal Word' is compatible with
       all the verified results of scientific teaching on

       (1) energy                                                       188

       (2) teleology                                                188-193

       (3) origin and antiquity of man                              193-195

       (4) mental and moral evolution                               195-199

       (5) the relation of philosophy to Theology                   199-202

       (6) the comparative study of religions                       202-205

       while in the Christian view, it both illuminates and is
       illuminated by those results                                 205-206

  III. But when the planes intersect, and we say 'the Word was
       made flesh,' we are said to traverse experience                  207

       (1) This charge is only a critical presumption               207-208

       (2) All novelties traverse past experience                       208

       (3) Moral experience is as real as physical                  208-209

       (4) The Incarnation harmonizes with our moral experience     209-210

       (5) By reorganizing morality it reorientates character           211

       (6) It has therefore a true relation to all phases of human
           life                                                     211-214



    I. The principle of Dogma is not to be attacked or defended
       on _à priori_ grounds. The real question is whether
       the Incarnation, as asserted, is true or false. And this is
       a question for evidence                                      217-220

       Even scientific 'dogmata' differ less from religious dogmas
       than is sometimes supposed, in that (_a_) both are received
       on evidence, (_b_) both require an experimental verification,
       or (in so far as either are still held along with error)
       correction                                                   220-224

       The acceptance of dogmatic truth is essentially reasonable.
       Its claims to (_a_) authority, (_b_) finality, are not the
       ground for accepting it, but a necessary outcome of the facts
       accepted in it                                               224-229

   II. The evidence for the Incarnation is as many-sided as human
       life                                                         229-233

       But primarily historical. The crucial fact is the
       Resurrection                                                 233-236

       Everything is involved in the answer to 'What think ye of
       Christ?'                                                     236-238

       It is an error to think of the belief of the Church as an
       edifice built up in the age of the Councils                  238-239

       The decisions of the Councils represent only a growth in
       intellectual precision through experience of error           239-245

       The creed in its whole substance is the direct outcome of
       the fact of the Incarnation                                  245-250

  III. The dogmatic creed is to be distinguished from the body of
       theological literature which comments upon it                    250

       Theological comment is variable: it may err, it may
       develop. Herein lie most of the disputes of technical, and
       the advances of popular, theology                            250-255

       Even the creeds are human on the side of their language      255-258

   IV. The 'damnatory clauses,' though easily misunderstood,
       really mean what is both true, and necessary                 258-260

       Christian dogmatism is after all devotion to truth, for
       truth's sake                                                 260-261

    V. The modern reading of the Scriptures without miracle and
       the Christ without Godhead depends for its justification
       upon the truth of an hypothesis                              262-266

       But this hypothesis explains away, instead of explaining,
       the evidence; while it is itself incapable of proof          266-270

       Historical reality is essential to the truth of the
       Incarnation. Mere spiritualism ends in unreality             270-272



    I. Sin and sacrifice in relation to the Atonement               275-276

       1. Twofold character of sin:--

          (_a_) A state of alienation from God                      276-277

          (_b_) A state of guilt                                    277-279

       2. Twofold character of sacrifice:--

          (_a_) The expression of man's original relation to God    279-280

          (_b_) The expiation of sin, and propitiation of wrath     280-281

          Both aspects shewn in the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law    281-282

       3. Inadequacy of man's offerings to satisfy sense of
          personal guilt                                            282-285

   II. The death of Christ answers to the demands of the sense of
       sin and of the desire for forgiveness                            285

       1. Christ's death a sacrifice of propitiation:--

          (_a_) Of the wrath of God, which is--

                (1) The hostility of Divine Nature to sin           285-287

                (2) The expression of the eternal law of
                    righteousness                                      288

          (_b_) By virtue--

                (1) Of the obedience manifested by Him              289-290

                (2) Of His recognition of the Divine justice            290

                (3) Of His death as the necessary form of both      290-292

                    The propitiatory character of His death shewn--

                      (i.) By the general relation between
                           physical and spiritual death             292-293

                     (ii.) Because of the nature of Him who
                           endured it                               293-294

                    (iii.) Because of the results flowing from it       294

          (_c_) On behalf of men, for He is our Representative--

                (1) As Victim, by His perfect humanity our
                    sinbearer                                       294-297

                (2) As Priest, able to offer what man could not     297-298

                    The true vicariousness of His Priesthood            298

       2. Christ's death the source of life                         298-299

          (_a_) As delivering us from sin                               299

          (_b_) As bestowing new life                                   299

          (_c_) As uniting us to God                                    299

                But only as connected with and issuing in the
                Resurrection and Ascension                          300-301

       3. Christ's death in relation to man's responsibility            301

          (_a_) The Atonement, being forgiveness, must remit
                some of the consequences of sin                     301-302

          (_b_) But our mystical union with Christ ensures
                our share in the sacrifice                          302-303

                (1) Not in its propitiation, which we can only
                    plead                                           303-304

                (2) But by faith which accepts it and recognises
                    its justice                                     304-305

                (3) And by following Him in obedience through
                    suffering                                       305-307

  III. Consideration of certain erroneous statements of the
       doctrine                                                         307

       1. The implied divergence of Will in the Godhead             307-308

       2. The view of Redemption as wrought for us, not in us           308

       3. The view that Christ redeemed us by taking our
          punishment instead of us                                      309

          (1) The essential punishment of alienation He could not
              bear                                                      309

          (2) The penal sufferings which He bore are not remitted
              to us                                                     309

          (3) But He bore them that we, like Him, may bear them
              sacrificially, not as punishment                      309-310

   IV. Short summary.

       1. The death of Christ as propitiatory      } tested by
       2. His death as transforming pain and death } experience     310-312



   Christianity is an experienced or manifested life: because its
   essence is the possession of the Spirit, and the Spirit is Life  315-317

    I. The Holy Spirit the life-giver:--

          In nature                                                 317-318

          In man                                                    318-319

          In the gradual recovery of man from sin                   319-320

          In Christ                                                 320-321

          In the Church                                             321-322

       His work in the Church:--

          1. Social or ecclesiastical                               322-323

          2. Nourishing individuality: both of character through
             the Sacraments, and of judgment through authority      323-327

          3. Consecrating the whole of nature, material as well as
             spiritual                                              327-328

          4. By a gradual method                                        328

             Imperfection of the Old Testament                      328-331

                   "      of the Church                             331-332

       The Holy Spirit personally present and continually
       operative in the Church                                      332-333

   II. The Theology of the Holy Spirit. Real but limited
       knowledge through revelation                                 334-335

       He is (_a_) distinct in Person but very God,
       (_b_) proceeding from the Father and the Son,
       (_c_) One in essence with the Father and the Son             334-335

       The Doctrine of the Trinity not Tritheistic                  335-336

  III. The Inspiration of Holy Scripture. Fatal results of not
       keeping this in context with the rest of the Holy Spirit's
       work in the Church                                           337-340

       1. It is an article of the Faith, not among its bases        340-341

       2. It is a necessary article                                     341

       3. Its certain and primary meaning, as seen by examination
          of the books of the Old and New Testaments                341-348

       4. Its practical meaning and obligation                      349-351

          Questions raised as to its meaning by Old Testament

          (_a_) While the Old Testament is, like the New
                Testament, certainly and really historical, can it
                admit of elements of idealism in the narrative?     351-354

          (_b_) Can it admit of dramatic composition?               354-356

          (_c_) Can it admit the presence of primitive myths?       356-357

       The Church not prevented from admitting these to be open
       questions either:--

          (1) By any dogmatic definitions of inspiration            357-358

          (2) By our Lord's language as to the Old Testament        358-360

       We may expect the criticism of the Old Testament, like that
       of the New, to deepen and enlarge, not impair, our
       reverence for the 'Word of God'                              360-362



   The Church the final satisfaction of certain social instincts,
   viz. the need of co-operation for life, for knowledge, and for
   worship                                                              365

   These instincts are:--

       (1) Universal                                                365-368

       (2) Embodied in Judaism, and combined with the principle
           of God's election of one people to be a source of
           blessing to others                                       368-370

       (3) Fulfilled in the Incarnation                             370-372

    I. The Church as the centre of spiritual life: offers its
       blessings, without limitation, to all who are willing to
       submit to spiritual discipline, and combines them in a
       brotherhood of common service                                372-375

       Hence it is, of necessity:--

       (1) A _visible_ body                                         375-377

       (2) _One_, both in its spiritual life and in external
           organization. This unity implied in the New Testament,
           and explained in the second century, as centering in
           the Episcopate. The Apostolical Succession is thus the
           pledge of historic continuity, and has always been the
           mark of the English Church. Loyalty to the Church is no
           narrowing of true sympathy                               377-384

   II. The Church as the Teacher of Truth: primarily by bearing
       witness to truths revealed to it; secondarily by
       interpreting the relation of these truths to each other      384-387


       (1) It witnesses to the reality of central spiritual truths
           and teaches them authoritatively to its members              387

       (2) It trains its members to a rational apprehension of
           these truths                                             387-388

       (3) It leaves great freedom on points not central            388-389

       (4) It protects the truths themselves from decay             389-390

  III. The Church the home of worship: worship the Godward
       expression of its life: its highest expression in the
       Eucharist: its priestly work earned out from the first by
       a special class of ministers                                 390-393

       Each aspect of the Church's work completed by the
       co-operation of the Blessed Dead                                 394

       Causes of the apparent failure of the Church                 394-400

       Need of its witness and work in modern times                 400-402



   Comprehensiveness a characteristic distinction of fruitful and
   enduring work: which will here be traced in the sacramental
   work of the Church; with incidental reference to the evidential
   import of the inner coherence of Christianity, and its perfect
   aptness for humanity                                             405-408

    I. Christianity claims to be a way of life for men: whose
       nature and life involve two elements; which are usually
       distinguished as bodily and spiritual                        408-409

       The distinction of these two elements real; their union
       essential                                                    409-411

       It is to be inquired whether this complexity of man's
       nature is recognised and provided for in the Church of
       Christ                                                           411

   II. Grounds for anticipating that it would be so:--

       (1) In the very fact of the Incarnation; and more
           particularly                                             411-413

       (2) In the character of the preparatory system whose
           forecasts it met                                         413-414

       (3) And in certain conspicuous features of Christ's
           ministry                                                 414-415

       The work of Sacraments to be linked with this anticipation       415

  III. The prominence of the Sacramental principle in Christ's
       teaching: to be estimated with reference to the previous
       convictions of those whom He taught                          415-416

       There is thus found:--

       (1) Abundant evidence that the general principle of
           Sacraments is accepted, to be a characteristic of
           Christianity                                             416-417

       (2) The authoritative appointment of particular expressions
           for this general principle:--

           Expressions foreshown in preparatory history:
           anticipated in preliminary discourses: appointed with
           great solemnity and emphasis                             417-418

           [These expressions such as may be seen to be
           intrinsically appropriate, ethically helpful and
           instructive, and safeguards against individualism.]      418-420

       (3) An immediate recognition in the Apostolic Church of the
           force of this teaching, and of the necessary prominence
           of Sacraments                                            420-421

   IV. The correspondence between the ministry of Sacraments and
       the complex nature of man appears in three ways: since:--

       (1) The dignity and the spiritual capacity of the material
           order is thus vindicated and maintained: so that unreal
           and negative spirituality is precluded, and provision
           is made for the hallowing of stage after stage in a
           human life                                               422-426

       (2) The claim of Christianity to penetrate the bodily life
           is kept in its due prominence by the very nature of
           Sacraments: the redemption of the body is foreshown; and
           perhaps begun                                            426-429

       (3) The evidences of mystery in human nature, its moments
           of unearthliness, its immortal longings, its impatience
           of finite satisfaction, being recognised and accounted
           for by the doctrine of Grace are met by Sacraments: and
           led in an ordered progress towards a perfect end         429-433



   INTRODUCTORY.--The twofold problem of Christianity in its
   relation to human society--

   (1) To consecrate; (2) to purify                                 437-440

    I. The Church is _neutral_ as to natural differences, e.g.
       the form of government, autocratic or democratic leaning     440-442

   II. The Church _supplements_ the moral influence of the
       State, in respect of--

       (1) The appeal to higher motives                             443-445
           e.g. as to the duties of--

           (_a_) Governors and governed                             446-451

           (_b_) Owners of property                                 451-452

       (2) The support of the weak against the strong               452-455

       (3) The maintenance of religion                              455-461

  III. The Church _purifies_ the whole social life of mankind--

       (1) By spreading Christian ideas                             461-462

       (2) By maintaining the Christian type of character           462-463

   CONCLUSION.--The Church appeals to deeper needs than the
   State and is therefore fundamentally Catholic, and only
   incidentally national                                            463-464



   General characteristics of the Christian ethical system          467-468

   Dogmatic postulates:--

        (1) Doctrine of God: God a Personal and Ethical Being       469-470

        (2) Doctrine of Man: his ideal nature; his destiny as
            related to the good through conscience and freedom;
            his present condition                                   470-476

        (3) Doctrine of Christ: Catholic view of His Person         476

    I. Christ's revelation of the Highest Good                      476-480

            The Kingdom of God: twofold meaning of the term         477-479

            Christian view of the world                             479-480

   II. The Moral Law; its authority, sanctions, and content         480-489

            The basis of obligation found in the idea of personal
            relationship between God and Man                        480-482

            The sanctions, and motives of Christian Morality        482-484

            The Law of Duty embraced in the decalogue               484-489

  III. Christ the pattern of character                              489-504

            Conditions required in the perfect example              490-491

            Christ the pattern of filial dependence, obedience,
            and love                                                491-494

            Virtuous action seen to imply a harmony of the
            different elements in personality, postulating a
            threefold virtuous principle supernaturally imparted    494-496

       Christian character: the Christian personality in its

            (1) To God--Christian Wisdom                            497-498

            (2) To Man--Christian Justice                           498-501

            (3) To Self--Christian Temperance                       501-502

            (4) To the hindrances of environment--Christian
                Fortitude                                           502-503

   IV. Christ the source of the recreation of character             504-512

            Claim of Christianity to recreate character             504-505

            Dogmatic truths implied in the recreative process       505-506

            Holiness dependent on a permanent relation to Christ        506

            The Church a school of character, and sphere of
            individual discipline                                   506-508

            Christian ascetics--their ground in reason, and effect
            on character                                            509-512

    V. The consummation of God's kingdom                            512-518

            The intermediate stage                                      513

            The final stage of glory:

            (i) The kingdom to be finally manifested                513-514

            (ii) and purified through judgment                          514

       Extent and limits of the final triumph of good               514-516

       Perfection of human personality: the perfect state one of

                harmony                                             516-517

                glory                                                   517

                blessedness                                             517

                and fellowship in a moral community                     517

   VI. Conclusion: relation of Christian Ethics to the products of
       civilization, to individual character, to social life        518-520

   APPENDIX I. ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN DUTY                    521-525

   APPENDIX II. ON THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF SIN                    526-538




I. In proposing to consider the origin and growth of faith, we have a
practical, and not a merely theoretical, aim. We are thinking of the
actual problems which are, at this moment, encompassing and hindering
faith: and it is because of their urgency and their pressure, that we
find it worth while to go back upon our earliest beginnings, in order
to ask what Faith itself means. For only through an examination of its
nature, its origin, and its structure, will it be possible for us to
sift the questions which beset us, and to distinguish those to which
Faith is bound to give an answer from those which it can afford to let

We set out then on our quest, in the mind of those who have felt the
trouble that is in the air. Even if we ourselves be not of their
number, yet we all suffer from their hesitation: we all feel the
imparted chill of their anxieties. For we are of one family: and the
sickness, or depression of some, must affect the whole body. All of
us, even the most confident, are interested in the case of those who
are fearing for themselves, as they sadly search their own hearts, and
ask, 'What is it to believe? Do I know what it is to believe? Have I,
or have I not, that which can be called "faith"? How can I be sure?
What can I say of myself?' Such questions as these are haunting and
harassing many among us who find themselves facing the Catholic Creed,
with its ring of undaunted assurance, with its unhesitating claim to
unique and universal supremacy, and contrast with this their own faint
and tentative apprehension of the strong truths, which are so
confidently asserted. Such men and women are anxious and eager to
number themselves among those that believe: but can they call this
temper 'belief,' which is so far below the level of the genuine
response which those Creeds obviously expect? Where is the blitheness
of faith? Where is its unshaken conviction? Where is its invincible
simplicity? Why is it that they only succeed in moving forward with
such painful indecision?

Now, it is to this temper that this essay is addressed. It does not
aim at convicting a hostile disbelief, but at succouring a distressed
faith. And this it does under the conviction that, in so doing, it is
responding to the peculiar character and needs of the situation.

For the urgency, the peril of the hour, lies, not so much in the
novelty, or force, of the pressure that is brought to bear against
faith, as in the behaviour of faith itself under the pressure. What
has happened is, not that faith has been confounded, but that it has
been challenged. It has been challenged by new social needs, by
strange developments of civilisation, by hungers that it had not yet
taken into account, by thirsts that it had not prepared itself to
satisfy. It has been challenged by new scientific methods, wholly
unlike its familiar intellectual equipment; by new worlds of facts
opened to its astonishment through discoveries which have changed the
entire look of the earth; by immense masses of novel material, which
it has been suddenly and violently required to assimilate; by strange
fashions of speech in science and history; by a babel of 'unknown
tongues' in all departments of learning and literature.

Faith is under the pressure of this challenge: and the primary
question is, how will it behave? What is it going to say, or do, in
face of this exciting transformation which has passed over the entire
surface of our intellectual scenery? How will it deal with the
situation? Will it prove itself adequate to the crisis? To what extent
can it afford to submit to the transforming process which has already
operated upon the mind and the imagination? If it submit, can it
survive? And in what condition? with what loss, or damage, or change?
On every side these challenges reach it; they beat at its doors; they
arrive in pelting haste; they clamour for immediate solutions.

Now faith, under these rapid and stormy challenges, is apt to fall
into panic. For this, surely, is the very meaning of a panic--a fear
that feeds upon itself. Men in a panic are frightened at finding
themselves afraid. So now with faith; it is terrified at its own
alarm. How is it (it asks itself) that it should find itself baffled
and timorous? If faith were faith, would it ever lose its confidence?
To be frightened is to confess itself false: for faith is confidence
in God, Who can never fail. How can faith allow of doubt or
hesitation? Surely for faith to hesitate, to be confused, is to deny
its very nature. Thus many anxious and perplexed souls retreat before
their own perplexities. Because their faith is troubled, they distrust
and abandon their faith. The very fact that it is in distress becomes
an argument against it.

It is at this point, and because of this particular peril that we are
urgently required to consider very seriously the nature and conditions
of faith. For our panic arises from our assumption that faith is of
such a nature, that the perplexity, into which, now and again, we find
ourselves thrown, must be impossible to it, must be incompatible with
it. Now, is this so? Ought we to expect of faith that its confidence
should never fail it--that its light should be always decisive? Is
faith incriminated by the mere fact that it is in difficulties?

Let us, first, consider what has occurred. Perhaps the situation
itself, if we quietly review it, will give a reason why it is that,
just at the moment when we most need vigour and assurance, we should
find ourselves stripped of all that tends to reassure.

For the peculiarity of the disturbance which we have got to encounter
lies in this, that it has removed from us the very weapons by which we
might hope to encounter it. Faith's evidential material is all
corroborative and accumulative; it draws it from out of an external
world, which can never wholly justify, or account for the internal
reality, yet which can so group itself, that from a hundred differing
lines, it offers indirect and parenthetic and convergent witness of
that which is, itself, beyond the reach of external proof. It is this
gradual grouping of an outer life into that assorted perspective in
which it offers the most effective corroboration of the inner truth,
which faith slowly accomplishes upon the matter which human science
presents to it. When once the grouping is achieved, so that the outer
world, known under certain scientific principles, tallies harmoniously
with its inner convictions, faith feels secure. The external life
offers it pictures, analogies, metaphors--all echoing and repeating
the internal world. Faith beholds itself mirrored: and, so echoed, so
mirrored, it feels itself in possession of corroborating evidences.
But the present scientific confusion seems to have shattered the
mirror--to have broken up the perspective--to have dissolved the
well-known groupings. It is true, as some of the essays which follow
will try to show, that the convulsion of which we speak, lies,
chiefly, in a change of position, or of level; so that great masses of
the matter, now thrown into confusion, will be found to compose
themselves afresh, under the newer conditions of review, and will
appear again as part and parcel of the scientific scenery. It is a
change of perspective more than anything else. But, no doubt, such a
change is just of the character to upset us, to disturb us; for,
during the change, while shifting from the old position to the new, we
are in the very chaos of confusion; everything seems, for the moment,
to be tumbling about around us: the entire scene grows unsteady;
though, indeed, when once we have got our feet firmly placed at the
new level of vantage, much, that once was familiar, is discovered to
be back again in its place, looking much the same as of old. It is the
_first_ shock of this enforced transition which is so calculated to
terrify: as when, for instance, men see their habitual reliance on the
evidence for design in nature, which had been inherited from Paley,
yield, and vanish, under the review of the facts with which the theory
of evolution acquaints them. What they feel is, that their familiar
mode of interpreting their faith, of justifying it, of picturing it,
has abruptly been torn from them. That which once seemed to evidence
it in the outer world, has ceased to be accepted or trusted. The
habitual ways of argument, the accepted assumptions, which they had
hitherto used as their supports and their instruments--have been
withdrawn--have become obsolete. Faith is thrown back on itself, on
its own inherent, naked vitality; it is robbed for the moment of that
sense of solidity and security, which fortifies and refreshes it, when
the outer world of natural facts, and the inner world of intellect and
fancy, all corroborate its confidence in itself, by harmonious
attestations of its validity. The old world of things had been brought
into this adaptation with the principles of belief. Faith was at home
in it, and looked out over it with cheerfulness, and moved about it
with freedom. But that old world is gone; and the new still lies
untested, unsorted, unverified, unassimilated, unhandled. It looks
foreign, odd, remote. Faith finds no obvious corroborations in it:
there, where it used to feel buttressed and warm, it now feels chilly
and exposed[53].

This is the first consequence, and it is serious enough in itself to
provoke alarm. Faith cannot be at ease or confident, until the outer
world responds to its own convictions; and yet ease and confidence are
exactly what it is challenged to exhibit.

And then, when a man, under this sense of fear, deprived of external
testimonies, attempts to exhibit, to evoke, to examine, his inner
conviction, in its inherent and vital character, as it is in itself,
unsupported by adventitious aids, he is astonished at his own
difficulty in discovering or disclosing it. Where is it all fled--that
which he had called his faith? He had enjoyed it, had relied on it,
had again and again asserted it in word and deed: and now, when he
wants to look at it, when he is summoned to produce it, when he is
challenged to declare its form and fashion; he finds himself dazed,
bewildered, searching helplessly for that which ever escapes him,
grasping at a fleeting shadow, which baffles his efforts to endow it
with fixity and substance. And, so finding, he grows yet more
desperately alarmed: it seems to him that he has been self-deceived,
betrayed, abandoned. He is bitterly sensitive to the sharp contrast
between the triumphant solidity with which scientific facts bear down
upon him, certified, undeniable, substantial, and the vague, shifty,
indistinct phantom, into which his conviction vanishes as soon as he
attempts to observe it in itself, or draw it out for public

Yet, if we consider what faith signifies, we shall see at once that
this contrast ought to carry with it no alarm. It is a contrast which
follows on the very nature of faith. If we had understood its nature,
we could never have expected it to disclose itself under the same
conditions as those which govern the observation of scientific facts.
Faith is an elemental energy of the soul, and the surprise that we are
undergoing at not being able to bring it under direct observation, is
only an echo of the familiar shock with which we learn that science
has ransacked the entire bodily fabric of man, and has nowhere come
across his soul; or has searched the heavens through and through with
its telescope, and has seen no God. We are upset for a moment when
first we hear this; and then, we recover ourselves as we recollect
that, if God be what we believe Him to be, immaterial and spiritual,
then He would cease to be Himself, if He were visible through a
telescope: and that if the spirit of man be what we believe it to be,
that is the very reason why no surgeon's knife can ever arrive at it.

And, as with the soul, so with all its inherent and essential acts.
They are what it is: they can no more be visible than it can. How can
any of the basal intuitions, on which our knowledge rests, present
themselves to our inspection in the guise of external and phenomenal
facts? That which observes can never, strictly speaking, observe
itself. It can never look on at itself from outside, or view itself as
one among the multitude of things that come under its review. How can
it? It is itself the organ of vision: and the eye cannot see its own
power of seeing. This is why natural science, which is an organised
system of observation, finds that its own observing mind is absolutely
and totally outside its ken. It can take stock of the physiological
condition of thoughts or of feelings; but they themselves, in their
actual reality, are all rigidly shut out from the entire area of
scientific research. Wherever they begin, it ends; its methods
abruptly fail. It possesses no instrument by which to make good its
advance further. For the only instrument which it knows how to use,
and by which alone it can search, and examine, is itself the object
which it desires to submit to examination. But if _it_ is to be
examined, who, and what, is to conduct the examination? The observing
mind that turns round to explore itself, carries itself round as it
turns. It can never say--'Let me look at myself, as if I were a
phenomenon, as a fact presented to my own consciousness,' for it
itself would be engaged in the act of looking: it itself is the
consciousness to which it proposes to present itself[54]. So again,
the thought itself can never hope, by rigid analysing, to arrive at
last at itself, as the final residue of the analysis, for it is
itself, all along, employed as analyst. The process of analysis is,
itself, the real disclosure of what thought is: and this disclosure is
made just as effectively even though the result of the analysis be to
declare that it can discover nothing that corresponds to thought. It
is, indeed, impossible that anything should so correspond, except the
power to analyse; but this power _is_ thought: and every act of the
analysis, which issues in the sceptical conclusion, has verified the
real existence of thought. It is the same with all profound spiritual
acts. None of them can ever be offered to public inspection: they can
never be handed across to another, for him to look at. For they are
living acts, and not external results. How can an act of will, or of
love, be submitted to observation? Its outward result is there to be
examined; but it, itself, is incapable of transportation. If anyone
were to ask 'What is it you mean by thinking, or loving, or willing?'
who could tell him? It would be obviously impossible to explain,
except to a being who could think, will, and love. You could give him
illustrations of what you mean--signs--instances--evidences; but they
can only be intelligible, as evidences, to one who already possesses
the faculties. No one can do a piece of thinking for another, and hand
it over to him in a parcel. Only by thinking, can it be known what
thought is: only by feeling can it be understood what is meant by a
feeling: only by seeing, willing, loving, can we have the least
conception of sight, or of will, or of love.

And faith stands with these primary intuitions. It is deeper and more
elemental than them all: and, therefore, still less than they can it
admit of translation into other conditions than its own;--can still
less submit itself to public observation. It can never be looked at
from without. It can be known only from within itself. Belief is only
intelligible by believing. Just as a man who is asked to say what love
is, apart from all its outward manifestations and results, must be
driven back on the iteration--'Love is--what love is: everyone who
loves, knows; no one who does not love, can ever know;' just as a man,
who is challenged to describe and define his feelings or his desires,
when stripped of all the outward evidences that they can possibly give
of themselves, is thrown into inarticulate bewilderment, and can give
no intelligible answer, and can fashion to himself no distinct feature
or character, and can only assert, confusedly, that he feels what he
feels, and that to desire is to desire;--so with faith. The scientific
convulsion has shaken and confused its normal modes of self-interpretation,
its usual evidences, signs, illustrations: these outer aids at
definition, by metaphor or by corroboration, are all brought under dim
eclipse for the moment: their relative values have been thrown into
uncertainty: they are undergoing temporary displacement, and no one is
quite sure which is being shifted, and which can be trusted to stand
firm. Faith, robbed of its habitual aids to expression, is summoned to
show itself on the field, in its own inner character. And this is just
what it never can or may do. It can only reiterate, in response to the
demand for definition, 'Faith is faith.' 'Believing is--just
believing.' Why, then, let ourselves be distressed, or bewildered, by
finding ourselves reduced to this impotence of explanation? Far from
it being an incrimination of our faith, to find ourselves caught in
such a difficulty of utterance, it is just what must happen if faith
be a profound and radical act of the inner soul. It is, essentially,
an active principle, a source of energy, a spring of movement: and, as
such, its verification can never take place through passive
introspection. It verifies itself only in actions: its reality can
only be made evident through experience of its living work.

II. We may, then, free ourselves from the sinister suspicions which
belong to panic. It is not the superficiality of our faith, which is
the secret of our bewilderment, but its depth. The deepest and most
radical elements of our being are, necessarily, the hardest to
unearth. They are, obviously, the most remote from the surface of our
lives: they are the rarest to show themselves in the open daylight:
they require the severest effort to disentangle their identity: they
lie below all ordinary methods of utterance and expression; they can
only be discovered through careful recognition of the secret
assumptions which are involved in the acts and words which they
habitually produce. By these acts and words their existence and their
force is suggested, but not exhausted--manifested, but not accounted
for. These form our only positive interpretation and evidence: and
such evidence must, therefore, always remain inadequate, imperfect; we
have always and inevitably to go behind it, and beyond it, in order to
reach and touch the motive-energy which is disclosed to us through it.
No wonder that we find this far from an easy matter. No wonder that,
under the pressure of a hostile challenge, we often lose ourselves in
a confused babble, as we struggle to make plain to others, or even to
ourselves, these innermost convictions of our souls.

Indeed, such things can never be made plain: no one ought to expect
that they should. For, if we think of it, the primary acts of spirit
must be the _last_ things that can ever be made plain; for the entire
life issuing from them is their only interpretation, so that only when
that life is closed, can their interpretation be complete. And here,
in faith, we are at the root of a life which, as we believe, it will
take eternity to fulfil. And, if so, only in and through eternity can
its full evidence for itself be produced, or its right interpretation
be yielded.

Surely, this truth clears us from many clamorous demands, which ask of
us an impossible verification. For if once we saw that we were
employed in verifying the nature of that which, if it be real, can,
confessedly, present us, on this side of the grave, only with the most
fragmentary evidence of its character, we should put lightly aside the
taunting challenge to produce such proof of our motive principle as
will stand comparison with the adequate and precise evidences of a
scientific fact, or which will submit to the rigid tests of a legal
examination. If faith be faith, it could not, for that very reason,
fulfil the conditions so proposed to it. These legal and scientific
conditions are laboriously and artificially limited to testing the
presence of a motive, or a force, which must be assumed to exist under
fixed, precise, complete conditions, here and now. They pre-suppose
that, for all practical purposes, its quantity cannot vary, or
fluctuate. If it be present at all, it is present in a distinct and
formal manner, open to definite measurement, expressing itself in
unalterable characteristics. The entire consideration of its activity
is strictly confined to the normal horizon of the actual world of
present existence. These assumptions are the first necessity of all
forms of science, without making which, it could not even begin. They
are the conditions of all its success. But they are also its
limitations: and as such, they most certainly exclude from their
survey, anything that professes to exist after the manner of faith.
For what is faith? It is no steady force, existing under certified and
unvarying conditions which receive their final determination in the
world about us. Faith is, while it is here on earth, only a tentative
probation: it is a struggling and fluctuating effort in man to win for
himself a valid hold upon things that exist under the conditions of
eternity. In faith, we watch the early and rude beginnings, amid an
environment that but faintly and doubtfully responds to it, of a power
still in the womb--still unborn into its true sphere--still enveloped
in dark wrappings which encumber and impede. We see here but its
blind, uncertain pushings, its hesitating moves, now forward, now
back, now strangely vigorous and assertive, and then again, as
strangely weak and retreating. Its significance, its interpretation,
its future possibilities, its secret of development--all these lie
elsewhere, beyond death, beyond vision: we can but dimly guess, from
its action here, what powers feed it, on what resources it can rely,
what capacity of growth is open to it, what final issue determines the
measure and value of its efforts and achievements here. Such a force
as this is bound to upset all our ablest calculations. We can never
lay down rules to govern and predict its capabilities. It will
disappoint every conceivable test that we can devise for fixing its
conditions. It will laugh at our attempts to circumscribe its action.
Where we look for it to be weak, it will suddenly show itself strong:
when we are convinced that we may expect a vigorous display of its
capacities, it will mysteriously lapse. All this may terribly
disconcert us. It may tempt us into angry declarations that such an
incalculable existence is unworthy of scientific attention--is
fanciful, is unreal. But the only lesson which we ought to learn is
that methods adapted for one state of things are bound to prove
themselves futile when applied to another. If we are employed in
observing a life, which has its ground and its end in a world beyond
the present, then all methods framed for the express and definite
purpose of examining life as it exists here and now, will necessarily
prove themselves ludicrously inapt. The futility, the barrenness, the
ineptitude of our researches, lies, not with the faith against which
we level our irritable complaints, but with the methods which, by
their very terms of definition, proclaim themselves to be misplaced.

Where, then, must we dig to unearth the roots of faith? What are the
conditions of its rise and exercise? Wherein lie its grounds, and the
justification of its claim?

Faith grounds itself, solely and wholly, on an inner and vital
relation of the soul to its source. This source is most certainly
elsewhere; it is not within the compass of the soul's own activity. In
some mode, inconceivable and mysterious, our life issues out of an
impenetrable background: and as our life includes spiritual elements,
that background has spiritual factors: and as our life is personal,
within that background exists personality. This supply of life in
which we begin, from out of which our being opens, can never cease, so
long as we exist, to sustain us by one continuous act. Ever its
resources flow in: ever its vital support is unwithdrawn. In some
fashion or other, we all know that this must be so: and the Christian
Creed only lifts into clear daylight, and endows with perfect
expression, this elementary and universal verity, when it asserts that
at the very core of each man's being lies, and lives, and moves, and
works, the creative energy of the Divine Will--'the Will of our Father
Which is in Heaven.'

We stand, by the necessities of our existence, in the relationship of
sons to a Father, Who has poured out into us, and still pours, the
vigour of His own life. This is the one basis of all faith. Unless
this relationship actually exists, there could be no faith: if it
exists, then faith is its essential corollary: it is bound to appear.
Our faith is simply the witness to this inner bond of being. That
bond, which is the secret of our entire existence, accounting for all
that we are, or do, or feel, or think, or say, must become capable of
recognition by a being that is, in any sense, free, intelligent,
conscious: and this recognition by us of the source from whence we
derive, is what we mean by faith. Faith is the sense in us that we are
Another's creature, Another's making. Even as we not only feel, but
feel that we feel; not only think, but know that we think; not only
choose, but determine to choose: so, below and within all our willing,
and thinking, and feeling, we are conscious of Another, whose mind and
will alone make possible both the feeling that we feel, and also the
capacity to feel it; both the thought that we think, and also the
capacity to know it; both the will that we put forth, as well as the
power to determine it. Every act, every desire, every motive of ours,
is dependant on the source out of sight: we hang on Another's will; we
are alive in Another's life. All our life is a discovery, a
disclosure, of this secret. We find it out only by living. As we put
out powers that seem to be our own, still even in and by the very act
of putting them out, we reveal them to be not our own; we discover
that we are always drawing on unseen resources. We are sons: that is
the root-law of our entire self. And faith is the active instinct of
that inner sonship: it is the point at which that essential sonship
emerges into consciousness; it is the disclosure to the self of its
own vital secret; it is the thrill of our inherent childhood, as it
makes itself felt within the central recesses of the life; it is the
flame that shoots into consciousness at the recognition of the touch
of our divine fatherhood; it is the immediate response of the sonship
in us to its discovered origin.

Faith, then, is an instinct of relationship based on an inner actual
fact. And its entire office and use lies in realising the secret fact.
For the bond is spiritual; and it can only realise itself in a spirit
that has become aware of its own laws. No blind animal acceptance of
the divine assistance can draw out the powers of this sonship. The
reception of the assistance must itself be conscious, loving,
intelligent, willing. The natural world can receive its full
capacities from God without recognition of the source whence they flow
in: but this absence of living recognition forbids it ever to surpass
those fixed limits of development which we name 'natural.' But a
creature of God that could not only receive but recognise that it
received, would, by that very recognition, lay itself open to an
entirely novel development; it would be susceptible of infinitely
higher influences shed down upon it from God; it would admit far finer
and richer inpourings of divine succours; it would be fed, not only
from underground channels as it were, but by fresh inlets which its
consciousness of its adherence in God would uncover and set in motion.
The action of God upon His creatures would be raised to a new level of
possibility: for a living and intelligent will has capacities of
receptivity, which were altogether excluded so long as God merely
gave, and the creature blindly and dumbly took. Faith, then, opens an
entirely new career for creaturely existence; and the novelty of this
career is expressed in the word 'supernatural.' The 'supernatural'
world opens upon us as soon as faith is in being[55].

And this career, it will be seen, is markedly distinct from the
natural in this--that it is capable of ever advancing expansion. All
natural things, which blindly accept their life from God, must,
perforce, have a decreed and certified development, limited by the
conditions in which they are found existing. Their receptivity is a
fixed quantity, determined by the character imposed upon them at
creation, and bound to come to an abrupt arrest at some precise
point[56]. But receptivity through conscious recognition is open to a
development of which it is impossible for us to fix the limits. For
this living recognition itself advances in its capacity to see and
understand. Every act by which it recognises the Giver in the gifts,
heightens and intensifies its power to recognise Him; and every
increase of its power to recognise Him increases also its capacity to
receive; and this increase will again react on the faculties of
recognition. A vision opens out of spiritual growth, in which every
step forward made through incoming grace, makes a new step possible,
finds a fresh grace ever waiting to crown its latest gift with ever
new endowment. The sonship that is at work underground in man, below
the level of consciousness, at the hidden base of faith, is one that
holds in it capacities which can only be evoked under the appeals of a
living and voluntary faith. Faith is the discovery of an inherent
sonship, which, though already sealed to it, already in action,
nevertheless cannot but withhold its more rich and splendid energies
until this discovery is made; and which discloses them only according
to the progressive clearness and force with which the process of
discovery advances. The history of faith is the history of this
gradual disclosure, this growing capacity to recognise and receive,
until the rudimentary omen of God's fatherhood in the rudest savage
who draws, by clumsy fetich, or weird incantation, upon a power
outside himself, closes its long story in the absolute recognition,
the perfect and entire receptivity, of that Son of man, who can do
nothing of Himself, 'but what He seeth the Father do,' and, for that
very reason, can do everything: for whatsoever 'the Father doeth, the
Son doeth also.'

Faith, then, is not only the recognition by man of the secret source
of his being, but it is itself, also, the condition under which the
powers, that issue from that source, make their arrival within him.
The sonship, already germinal, completes itself, realises itself in
man, through his faith. Not only is the unconscious human nature held
by attachment to the Father who feeds it with hidden succours, but
faith is, itself, the power by which the conscious life attaches
itself to God; it is an apprehensive motion of the living spirit, by
which it intensifies its touch on God; it is an instinct of surrender,
by which it gives itself to the fuller handling of God: it is an
affection of the will, by which it presses up against God, and drinks
in divine vitality with quickened receptivity[57].

What then will be its characteristics? We have only to keep close to
the conception of sonship, and we shall understand them well enough.
Faith is the attitude, the temper, of a son towards a father. That is
a relationship that we all can understand for ourselves. We know it,
in spite of all the base and cruel corruptions under which, in the
homes of man, its beauty lies disfigured. Still, beneath disguises, we
catch sight, in rare and happy conditions, of that beautiful intimacy
which can spring up between a son and a father, where love is one with
reverence, and duty fulfils itself in joy. Such a sonship is like a
spiritual instinct, which renders intelligible to the son every mood
and gesture of the father. His very blood moves in rhythm to the
father's motives. His soul hangs, for guidance, on the father's eyes:
to him, each motive of the father justifies itself as a satisfying
inspiration. The father's will is felt deliciously encompassing him
about; enclosed within it, his own will works, glad and free in its
fortifying obedience. Such a relationship as this needs no justifying
sanction beyond itself: it is its own sanction, its own authority, its
own justification. 'He is my father': that is a sufficient reason for
all this sympathetic response to another's desire. 'I am his son':
that is the final premiss in which all argument comes to a close. The
willing surrender of the heart is the witness to a _fact_ which is
beyond argument, which accepts no denial, yet which is no tyrannous
fate, but is a living and animating bond of blood, which it is a joy
to recognise, and an inspiration to confess.

It is in such a spirit of sonship that faith reveals and realises
itself. Faith is that temper of sympathetic and immediate response to
Another's will which belongs to a recognised relationship of vital
communion. It is the spirit of confident surrender, which can only be
justified by an inner identification of life. Its primary note,
therefore, will be _trust_--that trust of Another, which needs no
ulterior grounds on which to base itself, beyond what is involved in
the inherent law of this life. Faith will ever discover, when its
reason for action, or belief, are traced to their last source, that it
arrives at a point where its only and all-sufficient plea will be 'God
is my Father: I am His child.' That relationship is its root; on the
top of that relationship faith works; as a witness to that
relationship, it puts forth all the spiritual temper which, of
necessity, follows on this intimacy of contact.

And, here, we find ourselves in the presence of the law by which faith
claims to be _universal_. Unless this inner relationship be a fact,
faith could not account for itself: but if it be a fact, it must
constitute a fixed and necessary demand upon all men. All are,
equally, 'children of God': and the answer to the question 'Why should
I believe?' must be, for ever and for all, valid; 'because you are a
child of God.' Faith is nothing but the spiritual temper and attitude,
which belong, inherently, to such a fact. No one can escape from such
a claim: for his existence constitutes the claim. If he be a child, it
must be demanded, of him, that he should display the characteristics
of his childhood: the father must, of necessity, be concerned with the
question of his own recognition by his son. Our manhood lies in this
essential sonship: and, if so, then to be without faith, without the
conscious realisation of the sonship, is to be without the fulness of
a man's proper nature. It is to be inhuman: to be curtailed of the
natural development: to be maimed and thwarted. It means that the
vital outcome of the inner verity has been arrested; that the
sensitive perceptions have been blunted and stunted; that the sonship
in us has, somehow, lost touch with its true fatherhood.

We learn at once, as we consider this, the interpretation of that
two-sided character, which surprises us in God's dealings with
men:--i.e. the imperative rigour of His stated requirements, coupled
with His wide and patient tolerance, in actual fact.

As a Father of all, He cannot, conceivably, be satisfied with anything
short of complete recognition by His children. He must look for faith;
He must require it of them all: He must leave no means untried by
which to secure it: He must seek to win it at all costs: His love is
inevitably and cruelly hindered, unless He can obtain it: and when He
obtains it, He must passionately desire to establish, evoke, develope,
perfect it: for each rise in faith is a rise in capacities of
intercourse, of intimacy, between Father and son. We see how strenuous
and zealous will be His efforts to build up faith in men: we
understand how urgent, and pressing, and alarming will become His
entreaties, His warnings, His menaces, His appeals, if faith is
allowed to slide or fail. Loss of faith means a shattered home, a
ruptured intimacy, a sundered love; it means that a Father must look
on while the very nature He has made in His image shrivels and
shrinks, and all hope of growth, of advancing familiarity, of
increasing joy, of assured sympathy, is cut down and blighted. We all
know the bitterness of a breach which scatters a family into
fragments: and that is but a faint shadow of all which the great
Father sees to be involved in the broken contact between Himself and
His son. What standard have we by which to sound the abyss of divine
disappointment, as God waits ready with gift upon gift of endless
grace which He will pour out upon the child of His love, as the
endless years open out new wonders of advancing intimacy; and lo! the
channel by which alone the gifts can reach him, is choked and closed?
Faith is the son's receptivity: it is that temper of trust, which
makes the entry of succours possible: it is the medium of response: it
is the attitude of adherence to the Father, by virtue of which
communications can pass. If faith goes, all further action of God upon
the soul, all fresh arrival of power, is made impossible. The channel
of intercourse is blocked.

The demand, then, for faith by God is bound to be exacting, and
urgent, and universal. But, then, this demand holds in reserve a
ground of hope, of patience, of tolerance, of charity, which we can,
in no single instance, venture to limit. For the faith, which it
rigorously asks for, reposes, as we see, on an inner and essential
relationship, already existent, which knits man to his God. Not even
the Fall, with all its consequent accumulations of sin, can avail to
wholly undo this primitive condition of existence. The fatherhood of
God still sustains its erring children; the divine image is blurred,
but not blotted out. Still, at the close of the long days, our Lord
can speak to the wondering men who flock about Him, of One Who is even
now their Father in Heaven. This objective and imperishable
relationship, the underlying ground of all our being, is the
pre-supposition of all faith, without which it would itself be
impossible. And, this being so, God can afford to wait very long for
faith to show itself. So long as its primary condition is there, there
is always hope. The stringent demand is not inspired by the mind of a
lawgiver, nor pressed home with the austerity of a judge; it expresses
the hunger of a father's heart, to win the confidence and to evoke the
capacities of the children of its love. Such a hunger is, indeed, more
rigorous and exact than the letter of any law: it aspires after a more
accurate correspondence; it is sensitive to more delicate
distinctions: but, nevertheless, it holds, in its fatherliness, far
wider capacities of toleration than lawgiver, or judge. That same
heart of the father, which in its hunger of love is so exacting, will,
out of the same hunger, never despair, and never forsake: it will
never cease from the pursuit of that responsive trust which it
desires; it will make allowances, it will permit delays, it will weave
excuses, it will endure rebuffs, it will condescend to persuasion, it
will forget all provocations, it will wait, it will plead, it will
repeat its pleas, it will take no refusal, it will overleap all
obstacles, it will run risks, it will endlessly and untiringly
forgive, if only, at the last, the stubborn child-heart yield, and the
tender response of faith be won.

Here, then, we seem to see why the nature of faith allows for two
points which surprise us in God's dealings, as if with a
contradiction. On the one hand, we hear Him, though prophet and
priest, insisting, with severe precision, on the necessity of a right
and accurate faith. On the other, we cannot but recognise, in the open
area of actual life, the evidences of a wide and almost boundless
toleration. Again and again it must have seemed to us that the Church
and the world gave, thus, antithetical evidence of God's character.
Yet, in truth, both speak the voice of one and the same God, Who, in
His undivided love, both passionately seeks for the delicate and
direct response of an accurate faith; and, also, in order not to lose
this final joy, 'suffereth long, and is kind, beareth all things,
believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.'
Yes!--has even to endure that men should pit His toleration against
His love, and should argue that, because He will wait so long and
quietly for the fruit that He desires to reap, therefore, He does not
desire the fruit. In reality, the degree of the toleration, with which
God will patiently wait for the fruits of faith, is the measure of the
extremity of His desire for it. Just because He wants it so much, He
waits so long.

III. If faith, then, be the witness and the exercise of our sonship in
God, we can recognise at once the place it will hold among the other
powers and capacities of our nature. We are so unfortunately apt to
rank it as one among many faculties, and then to find ourselves
engaged in agitating controversies concerning its limits and its
claims. We have to secure for it, against the rest, a field for free
dominion; and that field is hard to define; and rival powers beset it;
and there are raids and skirmishes on every frontier; and reason is
ever making violent incursions on the one side, and feeling is
actively besieging it on the other: and the scientific frontiers,
which we are ever on the point of fixing, shift, and change, and
vanish, as soon as we determine them; and the whole force of Christian
apologetics is spent in aimless and barren border-warfare.

But, if what we have been saying be true, the whole trouble turns on a
mistake. Faith is not to be ranked by the side of the other faculties
in a federation of rival powers, but is behind them all. It goes back
to a deeper root; it springs from a more primitive and radical act of
the central self than they. It belongs to that original spot of our
being, where it adheres in God, and draws on divine resources. Out
from that spot our powers divide, radiating into separate
gifts,--will, memory, feeling, reason, imagination, affection; but all
of them are but varying expressions of that essential sonship, which
is their base. And all, therefore, run back into that home where faith
abides, and works, and rises, and expands. At the root of all our
capacities lies our sonship; at the root of all our conscious life
lies faith, the witness of our sonship. By adherence in God, we put
out our gifts, we exercise our functions, we develop our faculties;
and faith, therefore, far from being their rival, whom they are
interested in suspecting, and curbing, and confining within its
limits, is the secret spring of their force, and the inspiration of
their growth, and the assurance of their success. All our knowledge,
for instance, relies upon our sonship; it starts with an act of
faith[58]. We throw ourselves, with the confidence of children, upon
an external world, which offers itself to our vision, to our touch, to
our review, to our calculation, to our handling, to our use. Who can
assure us of its reality, of its truth? We must measure it by those
faculties under the manipulation of which it falls: but how can the
faculties guarantee to us their own accuracy? How can we justify an
extension of our own inner necessities to the world of outward things?
How can we attribute to nature that rational and causative existence
which we find ourselves forced to assume in it? Our justification, our
confidence, all issue, in the last resort, from our sonship. Our
powers have, in them, some likeness to those of God. If He be our
Father, if we be made in His image, then, in our measure, we can rely
upon it that we close with Nature in its reality; that our touch, our
sight, our reason, have some hold on the actual life of things; that
we see and know in some such manner, after our degree, as God Himself
sees and knows. In unhesitating reliance upon our true sonship, we
sally out and deal with the world; we act upon the sure conviction
that we are not altogether outside the secret of objective existence.
We refuse absolutely to doubt, or go behind the reports made to us by
feeling, by memory, by thought. If once we are clear as to what the
report is, we rest on it; we ask for no power to stand (as it were)
outside our own experience, our own knowledge, so as to assure
ourselves of their veracity. We are certain that our Father cannot
have misguided us; that we are within His influence; that we are in
modified possession of His truth; that our capacities reflect His
mind. We could not have so confidently recognised, understood, and
handled the world, if it had been wholly foreign to us. As it is, we
lay instinctive hold upon it; we take spontaneous possession; we exert
authority upon it; we feel our inherent right over it; we are at home
in it; we move freely about it, as children in a father's house.
Acting in this faith, all our capacities justify themselves to us;
they respond to our reliance upon them; they develop into ever
advancing strength under the motions of this trust; they form a
continual and increasing witness to the verity of that sonship in
which we have believed.

Faith, then, belongs to our entire body of activities. We live by
faith. By faith, under the inspiration of faith, we put out our life,
we set to work, we exercise faculties, we close with our
opportunities, we have confidence in our environment, we respond to
calls, we handle critical emergencies, we send out far abroad our
experimental intelligence, we discover, we accumulate experiences, we
build, and plant, and develop. An elemental act of faith lies at the
root of all this advance; and every motion that we make, demands a
renewal of that primitive venture. In all secular progress 'we walk by
faith.' Every step revives the demand. Just as the earth, if it
necessitates the idea of a primal creation, requires, by exactly the
same necessity, an incessant renewal of that first creative act, so
our life, if it required faith to start it, requires faith every
moment to sustain it. Our faculties never arrive at a use which is
self-dependent and self-originated, as if they could grow beyond the
tentative conditions of their earliest assays. They originate in a
venturous experiment; and, however long, and however complicated that
experiment become, it retains its original character; it remains
experimental to the end. The _results_, no doubt, justify the venture
made; but, then, the first venture involved such immense assumptions,
that no results reached can ever complete its justification, and so
remove its tentative nature. For, by assuming a real correspondence
between our faculties and the world with which they deal, it assumed
that such a correspondence would never fail us; would be capable of
infinite verification; would prove adequate to all possible
experiences; would receive indefinite and progressive extension. No
verifications ever reached can, then, exhaust the faith of that
primitive venture; they can only serve to exhibit to it how far more
was contained within that venture than it could ever have conceived.
New knowledge, new experience, far from expunging the elements of
faith, make ever fresh demands upon it; they constitute perpetual
appeals to it to enlarge its trust, to expand its original audacity.
And yet the very vastness of those demands serves to obscure and
conceal their true character. This is the key to much of our present
bewilderment. The worlds of knowledge and of action have assumed such
huge proportions, have accumulated such immense and complicated
resources, have gained such supreme confidence in their own stability,
have pushed forward their successes with such startling power and
rapidity, that we have lost count of their primal assumption. In
amazement at their stupendous range, we are over-awed; we dare not
challenge them with their hypothetical origin, or remind them that
their entire and wonderful structure is but an empty and hollow dream,
unless they are prepared to place their uttermost trust in an
unverified act of faith. Given that trust, which relies on the reality
of the bond which holds between our inner faculties and the outer
world, then all this marvellous vision is rooted on a rock, has
validity and substance. Withdraw that spiritual trust in our sonship,
and all this fairy-world, won for us by science and experience,

  These cloud-capped towers, these gorgeous palaces,
  The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
  Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
  And, like an unsubstantial pageant faded,
  Leave not a rack behind.

Our secular and scientific life is an immense experiment in faith,--an
experiment which verifies itself by success, but which justifies
itself only if it remembers to attribute all its success to the
reality of that hidden relationship to God, which is the key to all
its capacities, the justification of all its confidence, and the
security of all its advance.

Such a remembrance is not easy for it: for the exercise of the
capacities is instinctive and spontaneous, and it requires an effort
of reflection to question the validity of such exercise. And such an
effort seems tiresome and impertinent in the heat of successful
progress, in the thick of crowding conquests. The practical man is apt
to give an irritated stamp on the ground, which to him feels so solid,
and to deem this a sufficient answer to the importunate inquiry how he
knows that he has any substantial world to know and to handle. For
faith lies _behind_ our secular life, secreted within it: and the
secular life, therefore, can go on as if no faith was wanted; it need
not trouble its head with perplexing questions, whether its base be
verifiable by the same standards and measures as its superstructure.
Its own practical activity is complete and free, whether it discover
its hidden principle or not: just as Mr. Jourdain's conversation was
complete and free, long before he discovered that he was talking
prose. We have to stand outside our secular life and reflect on it, to
disclose its true spring. The appeal to faith here is indirect.

But, in religion, this hidden activity is evoked by a direct appeal:
it is unearthed; it is summoned to come forward on its own account.
God demands of this secret and innermost vitality that it should no
longer lie incased within the other capacities, but that it should
throw off its sheltering covers, and should emerge into positive
action, and should disclose its peculiar and native character. God,
the Father, calls faith out of its dim background into the front of
the scene. He does this under the pressure of invocations, which
address their appeals through, and by means of, the secular and
visible material, within and behind which He is ever at work. This
had, indeed, always told of His invisible and eternal Godhead: but it
did so indirectly, by requiring Him as its constant pre-supposition
and base. Now, it is so used as to bring God into direct and positive
evidence, by means of acts, which bring forward the energies of His
immediate Fatherhood. All the growth of Eden had always testified to
the existence and the name of God: but a new stage was reached when He
was felt moving, in evening hours, amid the trees of the garden. And
as the Father presses forward out of His silent background, so the
secret sonship in man emerges out of its deep recesses in positive
response, using its own secular faculties by which to carry itself
forward into evidence and action. This definite and direct contact
between the God Who is the hidden source of all life, and the faith
which is the hidden spring of all human activity--this disclosure by
the Father, met by this discovery by the son--this is Religion: and
the history of Religion is the story of its slow and gradual advance
in sanity and clearness, until it culminates in that special
disclosure which we call Revelation; which, again, crowns itself in
that Revelation of the Father through the Son, in which the disclosure
of God to man and the discovery by man of God are made absolute in Him
Who is one with the Father, knowing all that the Father does, making
known all that the Father is.

Now here we have reached a parting of ways. For we have touched the
point at which the distinctions start out between what is secular and
what is sacred--between virtue and godliness--between the world and
the Church. If 'Religion' means this coming forward into the
foreground of that which is the universal background of all existence,
then we cut ourselves free from the perplexity which benumbs us when
we hear of the 'Gospel of the Secular Life;' of the 'Religion of
Humanity;' of doctors and scientific professors being 'Ministers of
Religion;' of the 'Natural Religion' which is contained within the
borders of science with its sense of wonder, or of art with its vision
of beauty. All this is so obviously true in one sense that it sinks to
the level of an amiable commonplace; but if this be the sense
intended, why is all this emphasis laid upon it? Yet if more than this
is meant, we are caught in a juggling maze of words, and are losing
hold on vital distinctions, and feel ourselves to be rapidly
collapsing into the condition of the unhappy Ninevites, who knew not
their right hands from their left.

The word 'Religion,' after all, has a meaning: and we do not get
forward by labouring to disguise from ourselves this awkward fact.
This positive meaning allows everything that can be asked in the way
of sanctity and worth, for nature and the natural life. All of it is
God-given, God-inspired, God-directed; all of it is holy. But the
_fact_ of this being so is one thing: the _recognition_ of it is
another; and it is this recognition of God in things which is the core
and essence of religion. Natural life is the life in God, which has
not yet arrived at this recognition: it is not yet, as such,
religious. The sacred and supernatural office of man is to press
through his own natural environment, to force his spirit through the
thick jungle of his manifold activities and capacities, to shake
himself free from the encompassing complexities, to step out clear and
loose from all entanglement, to find himself, through and beyond all
his secular experiences, face to face with a God, Who, on His side, is
for ever pushing aside the veil which suggests and conceals Him, for
ever disengaging Himself from the phenomena through which He arrives
at man's consciousness, for ever brushing away the confusions, and
coming out more and more into the open, until, through and past the
'thunder comes a human voice;' and His eyes burn their way through
into man's soul; and He calls the man by his name, and takes him
apart, and hides him in some high and separate cleft of the rock, far
from all the glamour and tumult of crowded existence, and holds him
close in the hollow of His hand as He passes by, and names to him,
with clear and memorable voice, the 'Name of the Lord, the Lord God,
merciful, gracious, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth,
forgiving iniquity, and Who will by no means clear the guilty.' Here
is Religion. It is the arrival at the secret; the discovery by the son
of a Father, Who is in all His works, yet is distinct from them
all,--to be recognised, known, spoken with, loved, imitated,
worshipped, on His own account, and for Himself alone.

Religion, in this sense, is perfectly distinct from what is secular:
yet, in making this distinction, it brings no reproach: it pronounces
nothing common or unclean. It only asks us not to play with words: and
it reminds us that, in blurring this radical distinction, we are
undoing all the work which it has been the aim of the religious
movement to achieve. For the history of this movement is the record of
the gradual advance man has made in disentangling 'the Name of God'
from all its manifestations. Religion is the effort to arrive at that
Name, in its separable identity, in its personal and distinct
significance. It is the fulfilment of the unceasing cry 'Tell me Thy
name!' In religion we are engaged in the age-long task of lifting the
Name, clear and high, above the clang and roar of its works, that
through and by means of all that He is, we may pierce through to the
very God of gods, and may close with Him in the blessed solitude of a
love which knits heart to heart and spirit to spirit, without any
withholding interval, with no veil to hinder or intervene.

The growth of faith, then, means the gradual increase of this personal
contact, this spiritual intimacy between Father and son. To achieve
this increasing apprehension of the Father's character and love, faith
uses, as instruments and as channels, all its natural faculties, by
which to bring itself forward into action, and through which to
receive the communications, which arrive at it from the heart and will
of Him, Who, on His side, uses all natural opportunities as the
material of a speech, which is ever, as man's ear becomes sensitive
and alert, growing more articulate, and positive, and personal.

The entire human nature,--imagination, reason, feeling,
desire,--becomes to faith a vehicle of intercourse, a mediating aid in
its friendship with God. But faith itself lies deeper than all the
capacities of which it makes use: it is, itself, the primal act of the
elemental self, there at the root of life, where the being is yet
whole and entire, a single personal individuality, unbroken and
undivided. Faith, which is the germinal act of our love for God, is an
act of the whole self, there where it is one, before it has parted off
into what we can roughly describe as separate and distinguishable
faculties. It therefore uses, not one or other of the faculties, but
all; and in a sense it uses them all at once, just as any complete
motion of will, or of love, acts with all the united force of many
combined faculties. A perfect act of love would combine, into a single
movement, the entire sum of faculties, just because it proceeds from
that basal self, which is the substance and unity of them all. So with
faith. Faith, the act of a willing adhesion to God the Father,
proceeds from a source deeper than the point at which faculties

And this has a most vital bearing on the question of faith's
evidences. It is here we touch on the crucial characteristic which
determines all our logical and argumentative position.

For, if a movement of faith springs from a source anterior to the
distinct division of faculties, then no one faculty can adequately
account for the resultant action. Each faculty, in its separate stage,
can account for _one_ element, for _one_ factor, which contributed to
the result: and that element, that factor, may be of greater or less
importance, according to the rank of the faculty in the entire self.
But, if the movement of faith has also included and involved many
other elements which appear, when analysed out, in the domains of the
other faculties; then the account which each separate faculty can give
of the whole act, can never be more than partial. Its evidence must be
incomplete. If the central self has gathered its momentum from many
channels, it is obvious that the amount contributed by any one channel
will be unable to justify the force exerted, or to explain the event
that followed. If we track home each faculty employed to this central
spring of energy, we shall see that each points to the result,
contributes to it, suggests it; but the result will always be more
than the evidence, so collected, can warrant.

This limitation, which we may allow about other faculties, is apt to
become a stumbling-block when we apply it to the high gift of reason.
Reason, somehow, seems to us to rise into some supreme and independent
throne; it reviews the other faculties; and is, therefore, free from
their limitations. We fear to hint that it has any lord over it. How
can we assume such a lordship without dubbing ourselves irrational
obscurantists, who in folly try to stamp out the light?

But we are not, in reality, dreaming of limiting reason by any
limitations except those which it makes for itself. We are not
violently attempting to make reason stop short at any point, where it
could go on. We are only asking, is there any point at which it stops
of itself, and cannot go further? We propose to use reason right out,
to press it to its utmost limit, to spur it to put forth all its
powers; and we assert that, so doing, reason will, at last, reveal its
inability to get right to the end, to carry clear home. And why?
Because the self is not only rational but something more: it combines,
with its unbroken, central individuality, other elements besides
reason: and therefore, of sheer necessity, whenever that central self
puts out an elemental act in which the integral spring of personal
energy takes part,--such as an act of will, or love, or faith,--then,
reason can be but one factor, but one element, however important, in
that issuing act: and if so, then it can give but a partial account of
it; its own contribution can not wholly explain, or justify the
result. In Bishop Butler's language, the utmost that reason can do is
to make it 'very probable.'

The real root-question in this time-worn controversy is just this: is,
or is not, reason the most primal and elemental act of the integral
personality? If it is, then, of course, it regulates and determines
all subordinate acts. Everything must finally submit to its
arbitration: for everything, if tracked back far enough, must
terminate in an act of reason.

But if, as Christianity asserts, the ultimate and elemental self be a
moral will, that can believe, and love, then, though this self
contains in it reason, it also goes back behind reason. Reason is
indeed one of its essential elements, but it is not its entire
essence, for this includes within itself, that which appears as
feeling, and desire, and imagination, and choice, and passion, as well
as that which shows itself as reason. When, therefore, the self puts
out its primitive power, it will do actions which satisfy reason,
indeed, but which reason cannot exhaustively analyse, or interpret,
since the entire force of reason, if it were all brought into action,
would still be only a partial contribution to the effect.

As a fact, we all of us are perfectly familiar with this limitation,
in affairs of affection and friendship. We never have here that
paralysing awe of reason, which haunts us in matters of religion. We
never allow ourselves to be bullied into submission to its supremacy.
We should laugh at it, if it attempted to dictate to us; or to account
for all our motives. Not that we are at war with it: or are shirking
it: or are afraid of it. We can have affections and friendships, which
have every possible justification which reason can offer. Every
conceivable expediency can unite to authorise and approve them. Every
interest may be served by them. They may stand every test which a cool
common-sense, or a calm impartial judgment, or an acute calculation of
consequences can apply to them. They may be the very embodiment of
reason. And yet, by no amount of calculated expediencies, by no
pressure of rational considerations, could we dream, for one moment,
that our friendship was accounted for. If ever it could trace its
origin to these motives, it would cease to be what we thought it. The
discovery would destroy it. All possible considerations and
calculations might have been present, and yet they would be utterly
powerless to create in us the love. And the love, however gladly it
may recognise the approving considerations, would repudiate, with
amazement, and with laughter, any presumption on their part to say,
'this is why you love.'

It is the same with all primal acts of heroism. They may be absolutely
rational: yet, they would cease to be heroic, they would never be
done, if they did not call upon a force, which, indeed, may determine
its direction by reason, but which uses quite other motives to induce
itself to act. Utilitarianism, which attempts to account for such
heroic momentum by purely rational considerations, finds itself
reduced to shifts which all those can see through, who refuse to be
juggled out of their own experiences. It is the same with all the
higher forms of moral energy. All of them go beyond their evidences.
They all lift the rational motives, which suggest and determine the
direction of their activity, by an impulsive force, which has in it
the power of initiative, of origination. Every high act of will is a
new creation. As the gunpowder sleeps, until the spark alights upon
it, so the directions of reason remain below the level of action,
until the jet of a living will fuses its fire with their material. The
act which results may, indeed, be capable of complete interpretation
on reasonable grounds: it may be able to show reasons which account
for every fragment of it: yet, still, the living force which drew
together, and combined all those separate reasons into a single
resultant act, has a creative and original character. The series of
reasons, however complete, cannot account for the result, for they
cannot possibly account for their own combination: and without this
combination of their momentum the result would not be there.

It is well to recall briefly this character of the moral will, the
affections, the love, of man. For these are faith's nearest and
dearest allies. It is here, in these elemental motions, that faith
finds its closest parallel. It is something very like an act of will,
a movement of love, an heroic and chivalrous moral venture. And
whenever we desire to understand its relations to reason, we must
persistently recall the attitude towards reason taken by these
fundamental forms of energy; only remembering that faith is yet more
elemental, yet more completely the act of the central integral self,
even than these. Where they leave reason behind, it will do so yet
further. Where they call upon something deeper, and more primitive
than reason, it will do the same, and yet more triumphantly. It is not
that either it or they are without reason: or that they stand outside
reason, consulting it so far as they choose, and then dropping it; it
is not that reason may not be found in every corner and fragment of
their activity, pervading, colouring, restraining, limiting,
directing, justifying it: but simply that what we call the rational
self is not only rational, but also something more: that, if analysed
out, the reason will not appear as the root and core of the man, but
rather as an element inhering in a yet more central base: and that
whenever the energy of vital action is put out, we are driven to look
through and beyond reason, if we would unearth the source whence the
act springs.

The relation, then, of reason to faith is not strange, or forced, or
unfamiliar to us, if it is much the same as its relation to the
affections, or to moral acts and intuitions. We know what to expect,
what part it ought to play in such a case. As in a case of heroic
moral daring, or high affection, so, in a matter of faith, we shall
expect that reason, with its arguments and its evidences, will play
all round and about it, will go before it, discussing the path to
follow, will follow after it, unravelling the secret forces at work in
it: will watch, and analyse, and learn, and warn; will reconnoitre,
and examine, and survey, and discover: will justify, interpret,
defend, assist. But yet we shall expect, also, that the act of faith
will do more than all the arguments can anticipate: that it will hold
itself free from them all: that it will appeal, not to them, but to
its own inherent force, for the final decision: that it will move by
instinct, by spontaneity, by inspiration: that it will rush past all
evidences, in some great stride; that it will brush through scruples
that cannot be gainsaid, and obstacles that cannot be got over; that
it will surprise, that it will outdo, that it will create; that it
will bring novel forces into play, invisible, unaccountable,
incalculable; that it will fly, when reason walks; that it will laugh,
when reason trembles: that it will over-leap barriers which reason
deems final. As with love, so with faith, it will take in all
evidences, it will listen to all proofs; but when they have done their
utmost, it has yet got to begin; it itself, after all its
calculations, must make the actual spring, which is the decision. Out
of itself, it draws its strength: out of itself it makes its effort;
by being what it is, it sees what it sees, it does what it does. It
uses the evidence; but uses it to leap from, to go further. Its
motives, advances, efforts, issue from within itself. Just as the
lover's final answer to the question, 'why did you do that?' must be,
'because I loved'; so the final answer of the believer, in explanation
of an act, can never be wrung out of the reasonable grounds for so
acting; it must always be 'because I believed.' Just as man first
acts, and speaks, and reason, following behind, can at last discover
that his actions were all consecutive, and that his language has a
perfect grammar; so faith has always to make its venture, prompted and
inspired from within, and only long afterwards can it expect to learn
that if it has been true to itself, to its proper promptings, then its
action can, by slow and plodding reason, be thoroughly interpreted and
justified. Faith is, above all things, anticipatory. The sonship,
within, anticipates what the Father has in store for it: by means of
affection, by rapid instincts of love, it assumes what it cannot yet
verify, it foretells the secrets that lie hidden within the Father's
eyes. So anticipating, it makes its venture;--a venture which love
alone can understand and justify, though the faithfulness of the
eternal and supreme Father ensures that the anticipation shall receive
its full verification.

If this be the relation of faith to reason, we see the explanation of
what seems, at first sight, to the philosopher, to be the most
irritating and hypocritical characteristic of faith. It is always
shifting its intellectual defences. It adopts this or that fashion of
philosophical apology; and then, when this is shattered by some novel
scientific generalisation, faith, probably after a passionate struggle
to retain the old position, suddenly and gaily abandons it, and takes
up with the new formula, just as if nothing had happened: it discovers
that the new formula is admirably adapted for its purposes, and is, in
fact, just what it always meant, only it has unfortunately omitted to
mention it. So it goes on, again and again; and no wonder that the
philosophers growl at those humbugs, the clergy!

But they are criticising faith as if it were a theory, as if knowledge
were its province, while, in truth, the seat of faith lies back behind
the region of knowledge. Its radical acts and motives are independent
of any particular condition of thought or science: they are deeper
recessed; they exist in their own right, and under their own
conditions. True, they may not be able to express themselves, to get
their energies forward, to set themselves free, to manifest
themselves, except through the mediation of knowledge,--through the
instruments and channels which the science of the day provides them.
But this does not confuse their inherent and distinct character. They
never identify themselves with the tools they use. They sit quite
loose to the particular state of thought, the formula, the terms,
through which they make their way out into action. And, moreover,
since the acts of faith are more radical than those of reason, and
since they belong to the entire man acting in his integrity, they
therefore of necessity anticipate, in their degree, all that the man,
by slow development, by the patient industry of reasoning, will
laboriously disclose. Lying deeper than all knowledge, they hold in
them the condition under which all knowledge will be arrived at. They
constitute the activity which ought to be at the background of all our
reasoning. No particular or partial state of knowledge can exhaust
their significance. Each step knowledge makes does but illustrate, in
some new fashion, the relation of all knowledge to faith--does but
elucidate the characteristics of that primal sonship. In each fresh
discovery or generalisation, faith finds a new instrument for
expressing its old convictions; it is taught to see the weak points,
the imperfections of its former expressions; it understands where they
hold good, and where they failed; it gets out more of itself than ever
before, through the new channels opened to it; it discovers more of
its own character by finding better modes in which to manifest it. It
does but half know itself, so long as its expression is encumbered.

The advance of secular knowledge, then, is for faith, an acquired
gain: for by it, it knows itself better; it sees more of what was
involved in its vital convictions. It has a struggle, no doubt, in
dropping off the expressions that have grown familiar to it, and in
detecting the fresh insight into its own nature which it can win by
the new terminology: but when once it has mastered the terms, new
lights break out upon it, new suggestions flash, new capacities
disclose themselves. It has won a new tool: when it has become
familiarised with the use of it, it can do great and unexpected things
with it.

But, for all that, it is but a new tool, worked by the old
convictions; they have not changed, any more than love changes, though
the slow development of married life may carry the lovers into unknown
experiences, in foreign lands, under changed skies. The two, if they
be faithful, learn far more of what the love they plighted means, as
each sweeping revolution carries them hither and thither, than ever
they understood on the wedding day; yet it is ever the old love then
pledged, which they hold fast to the end. Its identity is emphasised
by the changes. So with faith. It may absorb its energies in the joy
of wielding the particular instrument with which, at any one moment,
science supplies it. But it will never the least fear to drop it, so
soon as the advancing skill and the pushing minds of men have
elaborated for it some yet more delicate and subtle tool, wherewith to
give free play to its native vitalities.

For faith is moved by but one solitary passion--the hope of cleaving,
closer and ever closer, to the being of God. It is, itself, nothing
but this act of personal adherence, of personal cohesion; and all else
is, for it, material that can be subdued to this single service. Each
bettering of knowledge intensifies the possibilities of this cohesion;
and, for that, it is welcomed. It opens out fresh aspects of the good
Father: it uncovers new treasures of His wisdom: therefore, for faith,
it is an ever-mounting ladder, by which it draws nearer and nearer,
spirit to spirit, heart to heart. No idle or indifferent matter this;
and right knowledge, therefore, is for faith, a serious and pressing
need. And, moreover, faith is pledged to use all possible guidance and
direction in making its great act of self-surrender to God. And it is
the peculiar office of reason, and of the rational conscience, to
guard it from any distorted and unworthy venture. Faith has to make
its leap; but to make it exactly in that direction, and in no other,
where reason points the way. It is bound therefore to use all its
intelligent resources: it may not fall below the level of its highest
reason without the risk of sinking to a superstition. This is the
radical difference between what we here claim, and that which a
superstition demands of us. A superstition asks faith to shut its
eyes. We ask it to open them as wide as it can. We demand this of it
as a positive duty. It is bound, as an act of the whole man, to use
every conceivable means and security which knowledge can bring it. For
so alone can it secure itself against the hazards which encompass its
adventure. It cannot afford to enter on that venturous committal of
itself less equipped and instructed than it was open to it to be. It
must put all to use that can better its offer of itself to God.

It is, in this seriousness, that faith is apt to embrace so fast the
dominant scientific or philosophical creed. It has found, through this
creed, a new and thrilling insight into God's mind, and it fastens on
this precious gift; and dwells delightedly on it, and spends itself in
absorbing the peculiar truths which this particular way of thinking
brings to the front. So that, at last, when the smash comes, when the
floods break in, when the accumulation of new facts outside the old
lines necessitates a total reconstruction of the intellectual fabric,
faith seems to have gone under with the ruined scheme to which it had
attached itself so firmly.

Yet, if ever it has implicated its own fate with that of any
particular form of knowledge, it has been false to itself. It has no
more right to identify itself with any intellectual situation than it
has to pin its fortunes to those of any political dynasty. Its eternal
task lies in rapid readjustment to each fresh situation, which the
motion of time may disclose to it. It has that in it which can apply
to all, and learn from all. Its identity is not lost, because its
expressions vary and shift: for its identity lies deep in personality;
and personality is that which testifies to its own identity by the
variety and the rapidity of its self-adaptation to the changes of
circumstance. So with faith. Its older interpretations of itself are
not false, because the newer situations have called for different
manifestations. Each situation forces a new aspect to the front. But
ever it is God and the soul, which recognise each other under every
disguise. Now it is in one fashion and now in another: but it is
always one unalterable wisdom which is justified, recognised, and
loved, by those who are her children.

We will not, then, be the least afraid of the taunt, that we are all
accepting and delivering from our pulpits that which once threw us
into anger and dismay. Only let us learn our true lesson; and, in our
zeal to appreciate the wonders of Evolution, let us hold ourselves
prepared for the day which is bound to come, when again the gathering
facts will clamour for a fresh generalisation: and the wheel will give
one more turn; and the new man will catch sight of the vision which is
preparing; and the new book will startle; and the new band of youthful
professors will denounce and demolish our present heroes; and all the
reviews and magazines will yelp in chorus at their heels, proclaiming
loudly that now, at last and for ever, the faith, which has pledged
itself so deeply to the obsolete and discredited theory of Evolution,
is indeed dead and done with. Faith will survive that crisis, as it
has survived so many before: but it will be something, if it does not
drag behind it the evil record of passion, and blindness, with which
it has too often disgraced its unwilling passage from truth to truth.

IV. But here our objections take, perhaps, a new turn altogether. 'Ah,
yes!' it will be said; 'faith, if it were a simple surrender of the
soul to God, a childlike adhesion of the spiritual sonship in us to
its Father, Who is in heaven, might sit loose to all formulæ,
theories, discoveries, in the way described. Faith, if it limited
itself to this mystical communion, might be beyond the scope and
criticism of reason. But this is not the least what you really ask of
us. The faith, for which you practically plead, the only form of faith
actually open to us, has rashly left these safe confines: it has
implicated itself with a vast body of facts recorded in a book. It has
involved itself in intricate statements of dogma. How can you claim to
be free from the control of logic and criticism, in things so directly
open to logical treatment? This spiritual faith of yours has mixed
itself up with alien matter, with historical incidents, with
intellectual definitions: here are things of evidence and proof. Here
its locks are shorn; its mystic strength is gone. Delilah holds it
fast; it is a prisoner in the hands of the Philistines. If you will
retreat again back into the region of simple spiritual intuitions, and
abandon to reason this debatable land, how gladly would we follow you!
But that is just what you refuse to do.'

Now, here is the serious moment for us of to-day. It is quite true
that all would be plain and easy, if we might be allowed to make this
retreat--if we might limit our claims for the spirit to that simple
childlike intuition which, instinctively, feels after, and surrenders
to, the good Father in heaven. But what would that retreat mean? It
would mean an attempt, desperate and blind, to turn back the world's
story, to ignore the facts, to over-leap the distinctions of time and
place, to deny experience, to force ourselves back into primitive
days, to imagine ourselves children again. Simple intuitions of God,
simple communion with the Father, unquestioned, undistracted,--this is
the privilege of primitive days, when minds are simple, when
experience is simple, when society is simple. Plain, easy, and direct
situations admit of plain, easy, and direct handling. But our
situation is not plain, easy, or direct. Our minds are intricate and
complicated; our story has been a long and a difficult one; our social
condition is the perplexed deposit of age-long experiences. The faith,
which is to be ours to-day, must be a faith of to-day. It cannot
remain at the level of childhood, when nothing else in us or about us
is the least childlike. It cannot babble out in pretty baby-language,
when the situation with which it has to deal is terribly earnest,
serious, perilous, and intense. It must be level with its work; and
its work is complicated, hard, disciplined: how can it expect to
accomplish it without effort, without pain, without training, without
intricacy? The world is old; human life is old; and faith is old also.
It has had many a strange and stormy experience; it has learned much
on the way; it has about it the marks of old troubles; the care, the
patience, the completeness of age, have left their stamp upon it. It
has had a history, like everything else; and it reaches us to-day, in
a form which that history behind it can alone make intelligible. Four
thousand years have gone to its making--since Abraham first laid hold,
in a definite and consistent manner, of the faith which is ours
to-day. All those centuries it has been putting itself together,
growing, enriching itself, developing, as it faced and measured each
new issue, each gathering complication, each pressing hazard. This
long experience has built up faith's history: and, by study of that
history, we can know why it was that faith could not stand still at
that point where we should find it so convenient to rest. Faith
appeals to its own story to justify its career; it bears about that
history with it as its explanation, why, and how it has arrived at its
present condition. That history is its proof how far it has left its
first childhood behind it, how impossible it is, at the end of the
days, to return to the beginning. The history, which constitutes our
difficulty, is its own answer. For there, in that Bible, lies the
recorded story of the facts which pressed hard upon the earliest
intuition of God, and drove it forward, and compelled it to fix
itself, and to define itself, and to take a firmer root, and to make
for itself a secure dwelling-place, and to shape for itself a career.
The Bible is the apology which our faith carries with it, and offers
as a proof of the necessity which has forced it to go beyond its
primitive efforts, until it has reached the stage at which we now
encounter it. It portrays there, before our eyes, how it all began;
how there came to this man and to that, the simple augury, the
presage, the spasm of spiritual insight, the flash, the glimpse, the
intimation; until there came the man, Abraham, in whom it won the
emphasis, the solidity, the power, of a call. 'Oh! that we might be
content to feel, as he, the presence of the Everlasting! Why not leave
us in peace, we cry, with the simple faith of Abraham?' And the answer
is plain: 'because it is the nineteenth century after Christ, instead
of the nineteenth century before.' We are making a mistake of dates.
Let us turn to our Bible and read. There we watch the reasons
disclosing themselves why that simple faith could not abide in arrest
at its first moment; why it must open a new career, with new duties,
and new responsibilities, and new problems. The seed is sown, but it
has to grow; to make good its footing amid the thick of human affairs;
to root itself in the soil of human history; to spread itself out in
institutions; to push its dominion; to widen its range; to become a
tree that will fill the land. Before Abraham, it was but a flying
seed, blown by the winds; now, it is a stable, continuous, masterful
growth. It must be this, if it is ever to make effective its spiritual
assertions over the increasing intricacy of human affairs.

What, let us ask, is that life of faith which historically began with
Abraham? It is a friendship, an intimacy, between man and God, between
a son and a father. Such an intimacy cannot be idle or stagnant; it
cannot arrest its instinctive development. It holds in it infinite
possibilities of growth: of increasing familiarity, of multiplied
communion. And, thus, such a friendship creates a story of its own; it
has its jars, its frictions, its entanglements; alas! on one side, its
lapses, its quarrels, its blunders, its misunderstandings: and then,
on the other, its corresponding indignations, and withdrawals, and
rebukes; and yet again, its reconciliations, its reactions, its
pardons, its victories. Ever it moves forward on its chequered path:
ever God, the good Friend, spends Himself in recovering the intimacy,
in renewing it, in purging it, in raising it. Its conditions expand:
its demands intensify: its perils deepen: its glories gather: until it
consummates its effort in the perfected communion of God and man--in
Him, Who completes and closes the story of this ever-growing intimacy,
by that act of supreme condescension which brings down God to inhabit
and possess the heart of man: and by that act of supreme exaltation,
which uplifts man into absolute union with the God Who made him.

This is the story: the Bible is its record. As a body of incidents and
facts it must be subject to all the conditions of history and the laws
of evidence; as a written record it introduces a swarm of questions,
which can be sifted and decided by rational criticism. This entails
complications, it must be confessed; but they are inevitable. The
intimacy between man and God cannot advance, except through the
pressure of connected and recorded experience. A human society which
has no record of its past is robbed of its future. It is savage: it
cannot go forward, because it cannot look back. So with this divine
friendship. Its recorded experiences are the one condition of its
growth. Without them it must always be beginning afresh: it must
remain imprisoned at the starting-post. The length and complexity of
its record is the measure of its progress; even though they must
present, at the same time, a larger surface to the handling of
criticism, and may involve a deeper degree of obscurity in details.

And, after all, though details drawn out of a dead past permit
obscurity, the nature and character of the main issue become ever more
fixed and distinct, as the long roll of circumstances discloses its
richer secrets. The very shift and confusion of the surface-material
throws out, in emphatic contrast, the firm outlines of the gathering
and growing mystery. Ever the advance proceeds, throwing off all that
is accidental, immaterial, subservient: ever man becomes clearer in
his recognition of the claims made on him by the hope which God keeps
ever before Him, 'They shall be my people: I will be their God.' Ever
the necessities of such an intimate affection point to the coming of
the Christ. Christ is the end, the sum, the completion, of this
historic friendship: and His advent is, therefore, absolutely
unintelligible unless it is held in relation to the long experience,
which He interprets, justifies, and fulfils. Faith in Christ is the
last result, the ultimate and perfected condition of that faith of
Abraham, which enabled him to become the first friend of God. And the
immense experience that lay between Abraham and St. Paul, can alone
bridge the interval, can alone exhibit the slow and laborious
evolution, through which the primitive apprehension of God was
transformed into the Christian Creed--that mighty transformation,
spread out over two thousand years of varied history, which our Lord
summed up in the lightning-flash, 'Your father Abraham rejoiced to see
my day: and he saw it, and was glad.' The Book is the record of those
tested and certified experiments, which justified our Lord in
asserting that to believe in God was, necessarily, to believe in Him.
No one can understand that assertion, unless by seeing it worked out,
in detail, by the searching logic of experience.

Faith in Christ, then, includes faith in the Bible: and, in saying
that, we have already cleared away much of the difficulty that beset
us. For our faith in Christ becomes the measure and standard of our
faith in the Bible. We believe in it as the record of our growing
intimacy with God. Faith is, still, a spiritual cohesion of person
with person,--of the living soul with a living God. No details that
intervene confuse this primitive relation. Only, that cohesion was not
reached at one leap. It is ancient: it has traversed many incidents
and trials: it has learned much: it has undergone patient
apprenticeship: it has been bonded by the memory of multitudinous
vicissitudes. Like all else that is human, it has grown. The details
of events are the media of that growth. In _that_ character they are
vitally essential to the formed intimacy: but in that character alone.
They are not valued for their own sake; but for the cause which they
served. Belief in God never changes its character, and becomes belief
in facts: it only developes into a deeper and deeper belief in God, as
disciplined by facts. The facts must be real, if the discipline is to
be real: but, apart from this necessity, we are indifferent to them.
We can listen to anything which historical criticism has to tell us,
of dates and authorship; of time and place. It may supply all the gaps
in our record, showing how the material there briefly gathered, had,
itself, a story, and slowly came together, and had sources and
associations elsewhere. All such research adds interest to the record,
as it opens out to us the action of the Divine Intimacy, in laying
hold of its material. We watch it, by the aid of such criticism, at
its work of assimilation; and, in uncovering its principles of
selection, we apprehend its inner mind: we draw closer to our God. The
more nearly we can ally the early conditions of Israel to those of
Arabian nomads, the more delicate and rare becomes our apprehension of
that divine relationship, which, by its perpetual pressure, lifted
Israel to its marvellous supremacy, and which, by its absence, left
the Arabian to be what he is to-day.

The point at which criticism must hold off its hands is, of course, a
most subtle matter to decide. But we can, at least, be sure of
this--that such a point will be no arbitrary one; it will be there,
where criticism attempts to trench on the reality and the uniqueness
of the Divine Intimacy, which those incidents served to fashion, and
those books detected and recorded, and Christ consummated. Our faith
in Christ must determine what, in the Bible, is vital to its own
veracity. There is no other measure or rule of what we mean by

The preparation for Christ, then, necessitates such complications as
these. And the character of His advent intensified and thickened them.
For, while asking of us the purest form of spiritual adherence, He
makes that demand in a shape which is imbedded throughout in concrete
historical facts, which, as facts, must be subject to the thumb of
critical discussion, and to all the external handling of evidence and

And, then, on the top of this, He has, of necessity, raised the
question of His own Personality to such a pitch of vital value, that
the full force of man's intellectual activities is drawn towards its
consideration,--is summoned to contemplate, and measure, and apprehend
it,--is compelled to examine and face its tremendous issues. The
supreme act of personal surrender, for which Christ unhesitatingly
asks, cannot conceivably pass beyond its child-stage without forming a
direct and urgent challenge to the intellect to say how, and why, such
an act can be justified, or such a claim interpreted. No faith can
reach to such an absolute condition without finding itself involved in
anxieties, perils, problems, complications. Its very absoluteness is a
provocation to the questioning and disputing mind,--to the hesitating
and scrupulous will. And the result, the inevitable result, of such a
faith--proposed, as it was, to a world no longer young and childlike,
but matured, old, thoughtful, experienced--is the Dogmatic Creeds. We
clamour against these intellectual complications: we cry out for the
simple primitive faith. But, once again, it is a mistake of dates. We
cannot ask to be as if eighteen centuries had dropped out,
unnoticed--as if the mind had slumbered since the days of Christ, and
had never asked a question. We cannot hope to be in the same condition
after a question has been asked, as we were before it had ever
occurred to us to ask it. The Creeds only record that certain
questions have, as a fact, been asked. Could our world be what it is,
and not have asked them? These difficulties of a complicated faith are
only the reflection of the difficulties of a complicated life. If, as
a fact, we are engaged in living a life which is intricate, subtle,
anxious, then any faith which hopes to cover and embrace that life,
cannot escape the necessity of being intricate, subtle, and anxious
also. No child's creed can satisfy a man's needs, hunger, hopes,
anxieties. If we are asked to throw over the complications of our
Creeds, we must beg those that ask us, to begin by throwing over the
complications of this social and moral life.

But still, with the Creeds as with the Bible, it is the personal
intimacy with God in Christ which alone is our concern. We do not, in
the strict sense, believe _in_ the Bible, or _in_ the Creeds: we
believe solely and absolutely in Christ Jesus. Faith is our living act
of adherence in Him, of cohesion with God. But still, once more, we
must recognise that this act of adhesion has a history: it has
gradually been trained and perfected: and this has been accomplished
through the long and perilous experiences recorded in the Old
Testament; and it has been consummated in the final sealing of the
perfected intimacy attained in Him, in Whose person it was realised
and made possible for us: and it has been guarded and secured to us in
the face of the overwhelming pressure of eighteen strong, stormy, and
distracted centuries. And therefore it is that we now must attain our
cohesion with God, subject to all the necessities laid upon us by the
fact that we enter on the world's stage at a late hour, when the drama
has already developed its plot and complicated its situations. This is
why we cannot now, in full view of the facts, believe in Christ,
without finding that our belief includes the Bible and the Creeds.

V. Faith is, still and always, a spiritual intimacy, a living
friendship with God. That is what we must be for ever asserting. That
is the key to all our problems; and once sure of this in all its
bearings, we shall not be afraid of a taunt which is apt to sting
especially those of us who are ordained. It is conveyed, in its
noblest form, in a book of Mr. John Morley's, on Compromise. No one
can read that book without being the better or the worse for it. The
intense force of high moral convictions acts upon us like a judgment.
It evokes the deepest conscience in us to come forward, and stand at
that austere bar and justify itself, or, in failing to justify itself,
sink condemned. And in that book he asks the old question, with
unequalled power: how can it possibly be honest for men to sign away
their reason at the age of twenty-three?--to commit themselves to
conclusions which they cannot have mastered--to anticipate beforehand
all that experience may have to teach? In committing themselves to
positions which any new knowledge or discovery may reverse, they have
forbidden themselves the free use of their critical faculties: they
have resigned their intellectual conscience.

What do we answer to that severe arraignment? Surely we now know well.
Faith is an affair of personal intimacy, of friendship, of will, of
love: and, in all such cases, we should know exactly what to do with
language of this type. We should laugh it out of court. For it is
language which does not belong to this region. It is the language, it
expresses the temper, of the scientific student--a temper, an attitude
specialised for a distinct purpose. That purpose is one of gradual
advance into regions as yet untouched and unsuspected--an advance
which is for ever changing the relations and classifications of those
already partially known. The temper essential to such a purpose must
be prepared for discovery, for development, for the unexpected; it is
bound to be tentative, experimental, hypothetical--to be cool,
critical, corrective. It deals with impersonal matter; and it must
itself, therefore, be as far as possible impersonal, abstract,
non-moral, without passion, without individuality, without a private
intention, or will, or fixed opinion.

But such a temper, perfectly justified for scientific purposes, is
absolutely impotent and barren in matters of moral feeling and

The man who brings this temper into play in affairs of the will, or
the heart, or the imagination, in cases of affection, friendship,
passion, inspiration, generosity, in the things of home, of war, of
patriotism, of love, is in the wrong world: he is a living blunder: he
has no cue, no key, no interpretation. He is simply absurd.

And religion stands with these affairs. Just as we see well enough
that if love were approached in this scientific spirit, it could not
even begin, so it is quite as certain that, if faith were approached
in this spirit, it could not even begin.

Mr. Morley has mixed up two different worlds. He is criticising that
form of knowledge, which consists in spiritual apprehension of
another's personality through the whole force of a man's inherent, and
integral, and personal, will and desire, by the standard of another
form of knowledge altogether, which consists in gradual and
experimental assimilation of foreign and unknown matter through
specialised organs of critical observation.

This latter knowledge is bound to be as far as possible emptied of
personal elements. But our knowledge is nothing if not personal: it is
the knowledge which issues, and issues only, out of the personal
contact of life with life. And this is why it can afford to anticipate
the future. For a person is a consistent and integral whole: if you
know it at any one point, you know it in a sense at all points. The
one character, the one will, disclose themselves through every partial
expression, and passing gesture, and varying act. Therefore it is
that, when two personalities draw towards one another in the touch of
love, they can afford to plight their word. For love is the
instinctive prophecy of a future adherence. It is the assurance,
passing from soul to soul, that no new discovery of what is involved
in their after-life together can ever deny, or defeat, or destroy
their present mutual coherence in each other. That adhesion, that
adaptability, which has been proved at a few points, will necessarily
be justified throughout. The marriage-pledge expresses the absolute
conviction that the present experience is irreversible, except by
wilful sin. Whatever novelties the years bring with them, those two
characters will abide what they are to-day. Growth cannot radically
alter them.

Love, then, is this confident anticipation, which takes the future in
pledge. And where this anticipation breaks down, it must be through
human infirmity, wrong, misunderstanding.

And our knowledge of Christ is this knowledge of love; wherever it
exists, and so far as it exists, it issues out of personal contact,
personal inter-action. This is why, in its tested and certified form,
i.e. in the accumulated and historic experience of the Catholic
community, it can rationally justify its anticipation of an unbroken

And it can do so with complete confidence, because, here, on the side
of Christ, there is no infirmity which can endanger the plighted
faith: there is no lapse, no decline possible. Christ must be loyal,
for He is sinless. And more: being sinless, He is consistent. Every
part of Him is in harmony with the whole: in Him there is no
unsteadiness, no insecurity. Such a flawless character is identical
with itself: wherever it is touched, it can be tested and approved.

What, then, can upset our trust in Him? What can disturb our knowledge
of Him? What fear of change can the years bring on? We may know but a
tiny fragment, a fringe of this love of His to us, yet that is enough:
to have felt it at all is to trust it for ever. We cannot hesitate to
commit ourselves to One Who, if we know Him in any way, is known to
be, by inward, personal, inherent necessity, the 'same yesterday,
to-day, and for ever.'

Yes!--but still it may be pleaded, that this anticipatory adherence,
which might justifiably be given to a person beloved, cannot be
pledged to dogmatic definitions. These, at any rate, are matters not
of love, but of reason: they must be liable to critical examination,
to intellectual revision. It is the pledge given to believe these
dogmas in the future, which is such an outrage on intellectual

Now, this protest, forcible and obvious as it looks at first sight, is
still guilty of confusing the criticism which belongs to one province
of knowledge with that which belongs to another. These dogmas of faith
do not the least correspond to the classifications and laws of
physical science; and for this reason, that the matter to which they
relate is wholly different in kind. Dogmas represent reason in its
application to a personal life: scientific generalisations represent
reason as applied to matter, from which the conditions of personality
have been rigorously and rightly excluded. The difference is vital;
and it affects the entire character of the working of reason.

The dogmatic definitions of Christian theology can never be divorced
from their contact in the personality of Christ. They are statements
concerning a living character. As such, and only as such, do they come
within the lines of faith. We do not, in the strict sense, believe in
them: for belief is never a purely intellectual act; it is a movement
of the living man drawn towards a living person. Belief can only be in
Jesus Christ. To Him alone do we ever commit ourselves, surrender
ourselves, for ever and aye. But a personality, though its roots lie
deeper than reason, yet includes reason within its compass: a
personality cannot but be rational, though it be more than merely
rational; it has in it a rational ground, a rational construction; it
could not be what it is without being of such and such a fixed and
organic character. And a personality, therefore, is intelligible; it
lays itself open to rational treatment; its characteristics can be
stated in terms of thought. The Will of God is the Word of God; the
Life is also the Light. That which is loved can be apprehended; that
which is felt can be named. So the Personality of the Word admits of
being rationally expressed in the sense that reason can name and
distinguish those elements in it, which constitute its enduring and
essential conditions. The dogmas now in question, are simply careful
rehearsals of those inherent necessities which, inevitably, are
involved in the rational construction of Christ's living character.
They are statements of what He must be, if He is what our hearts
assure us; if He can do that for which our wills tender Him their
lifelong self-surrender. Unless these rational conditions stand, then,
no act of faith is justifiable; unless His personality correspond to
these assertions, we can never be authorised in worshipping Him.

But, if so, then we can commit ourselves to these dogmas in the same
way, and degree, as we commit ourselves to Him. We can do so, in the
absolute assurance that He cannot but abide for ever, that which we
know Him to be to-day. We know Him indeed, but 'in part:' but it is
part of a fixed and integral character, which is whole in every part;
and can never falsify, in the future, the revelation which it has
already made of itself.

The real question, as to Christian dogma, lies in the prior
question--Is Christianity justified in claiming to have reached a
_final_ position? If the position is rightly final, then the
intellectual expression of its inherent elements is final also. Here
is the deep contrast between it and science. The scientific man is
forbidden, by the very nature of his studies, to assume finality for
his propositions. For he is not yet in command of his material. Far,
very far, from it. He is touching it on its very edge. He is engaged
in slowly pushing tentative advances into an unknown world, looming,
vast, dim, manifold, beyond his frontier of light. The coherence of
his known matter with that huge mass beyond his ken, can be but
faintly imaged and suspected. Wholly unreckoned forces are in
operation. At any moment he may be called upon to throw over the
classification which sums up his hitherto experience; he may have to
adopt a new centre; to bring his facts into a novel focus; and this
involves at once a novel principle of arrangement. In such conditions
dogma is, of course, an absurdity. But, if we are in a position to
have any faith in Jesus Christ, then we must suppose that we have
arrived at the one centre to all possible experiences, the one focus,
under which all sights must fall. To believe in Him at all is to
believe that, by and in 'this Man, will God judge the world.' In His
personality, in His character, we are in possession of the ultimate
principle, under which the final estimate of all things will be taken.
We have given us, in His sacrifice and mission, the absolute rule,
standard, test, right to the very end. Nothing can fall outside it. In
Him, God has summed up creation. We have touched, in Him, the 'last
days,' the ultimate stage of all development. We cannot believe in Him
at all, and not believe that His message is final.

And it is this finality which justifies dogma. If Christianity is
final, it can afford to be dogmatic; and we, who give our adhesion to
it, must, in so doing, profess our adhesion to the irreversible nature
of its inherent principles: for, in so doing, we are but re-asserting
our belief in the absolute and final sufficiency of His person.

Let us venture, now, to review the path that we have travelled, in
order that we may see at what point we have arrived. Faith, then, is,
from first to last, a spiritual act of the deepest personal will,
proceeding out of that central core of the being, where the self is
integral and whole, before it has sundered itself off into divided
faculties. There, in that root-self, lie the germs of all that appears
in the separate qualities and gifts--in feelings, in reason, in
imagination, in desire; and faith, the central activity, has in it,
therefore, the germs of all these several activities. It has in it
that which becomes feeling, yet is not itself a feeling. It has in it
that which becomes reason, yet is not itself the reason. It holds in
it imaginative elements, yet is no exercise of the imagination. It is
alive with that which desires, craves, loves; yet is not itself merely
an appetite, a desire, a passion. In all these qualities it has its
part: it shares their nature; it has kindred motions; it shows itself,
sometimes through the one, and sometimes through the other, according
to the varieties of human, characters. In this man, it can make the
feeling its main instrument and channel; in that man, it will find the
intellect its chief minister; in another, it will make its presence
known along the track of his innermost craving for a support in will
and in love. But it will always remain something over, and beyond, any
one of its distinctive media; and not one of these specialities of
gift will ever, therefore, be able to account wholly for the faith
which puts it to use. That is why faith must always remain beyond its
realised evidences. If it finds, in some cases, its chief evidences in
the region of feeling, it is nevertheless open to deadly ruin, if ever
it identifies itself with these evidences, as if it could rely on them
to carry it through. It may come into being by their help; but it is
never genuine faith, until it can abide in self-security at those dry
hours, when the evidences of positive feeling have been totally
withdrawn. And as with feeling; so with reason. Faith looks to reason
for its proofs: it must count on finding them; it offers for itself
intellectual justifications. It may arrive at a man by this road. But
it is not itself reason; it can never confuse itself with a merely
intellectual process. It cannot, therefore, find, in reason, the full
grounds for its ultimate convictions. Ever it retains its own inherent
character, by which it is constituted an act of personal trust--an act
of willing and loving self-surrender to the dominant sway of another's
personality. It is always this, whether it springs up instinctively,
out of the roots of our being, anticipating all after-proof, or
whether it is summoned out into vitality at the close of a long and
late argumentative process. No argument, no array of arguments,
however long, however massive, can succeed in excusing it from that
momentous effort of the inner man, which is its very essence. Let
reason do its perfect work: let it heap up witness upon witness, proof
upon proof. Still there will come at last the moment when the call to
believe will be just the same to the complete and reasonable man as it
always is to the simplest child--the call to trust Another with a
confidence which reason can justify but can never create. This act,
which is faith, must have in it that spirit of venture, which closes
with Another's invitation, which yields to Another's call. It must
still have in it and about it the character of a vital motion,--of a
leap upward, which dares to count on the prompting energies felt astir
within it.

Faith cannot transfer its business into other hands to do its work for
it. It cannot request reason to take its own place, or achieve its
proper results. There is no possibility of devolution here; it cannot
delegate its functions to this faculty or to that. It is by forgetting
this that so many men are to be found, at the close of many arguments
of which they fully acknowledge the convincing force, still hovering
on the brink of faith, never quite reaching it, never passing beyond
the misery of a prolonged and nerveless suspense. They hang back at
the very crisis, because they have hoped that their reasoning powers
would, by their own force, have made belief occur. They are like birds
on a bough, who should refuse to fly until they have fully known that
they can. Their suspense would break and pass, if once they remembered
that, to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they must always be as little
children. They must call upon the child within them. At the end, as at
the beginning, of all the argumentative work, it is still the temper
of a child which they must bring into play. There must still be the
energy of self-committal,--the movement of a brave surrender. Once let
them turn, enforced by all the pressure of reasonable evidence, to
this secret fount of life within the self, and back flows the strength
which was theirs long ago, when the inspiration of their innate
sonship moved sweetly in them, breeding confidence, secure of itself,
undaunted, and unfatigued. That sonship abides in us all, cumbered and
clouded though it be by our sin; it abides on and on, fed by the
succours of a Father Who can never forget or forsake, and Who is
working hitherto to recover and redeem. And while it abides, faith is
still possible. For its native motions are the spontaneous outcome of
that spiritual kinship which, if once alive and free, impels us
towards Him by Whose love we have been begotten. Reason and feeling,
proof and argument--these are means and instruments by which we can
invoke this sonship into action, and release it from much which
fetters and enslaves. But it is the actual upspringing force of the
sonship itself, which alone can be the source of belief. And as it is
given to all to be sons of God, through the eternal sonship of Christ,
therefore it is open to all to count upon possessing the conditions of
faith in God.

  NOTE.--This essay has, for its sole aim, the reassurance of an
  existing faith in face of temporary perplexities. It therefore takes
  faith as a present and possible fact. It assumes man to be a
  creature who believes. And it tries to show why such belief, if it
  be there, should not be discouraged by difficulties which belong to
  the very nature of its original grounds. For this it recalls the
  depth and security with which the roots of faith run back into the
  original constitution of man; which original constitution, however
  broken, thwarted, maimed, polluted by sin, remains still in us as
  the sole pledge and ground of our possible redemption in Christ, Who
  comes to restore the blurred image of God in us, and Who must find
  in us the radical elements of the supernatural nature which He
  enters to renew. To its enduring existence in the heart of man
  Christ always appeals. Men are still children of their Father Who is
  in heaven; and therefore He can demand, as the sole and primal
  condition of redemption, _Faith_, which is the witness of the unlost
  sonship. That faith He still assumes to be possible, by the
  invitation to man to believe and so be healed. He makes this
  invitation just as if it were in man's own power to respond to it
  without for the moment touching on the necessity which, through the
  very effort to believe, man will discover for himself--i.e. the
  necessity of God's gift of the Spirit to make such belief exist.
  Such a gift belonged to the original condition of unfallen man, when
  his _nature_ was itself supernaturally endowed with its adequate and
  sustaining grace. Such a gift had to be renewed, after the ruin
  wrought by sin, both by the restoration of the broken sonship within
  the man through the beloved Son, as well as by the renewal of the
  evoking and sustaining Spirit that should lift up, from within the
  inner sonship, its living cry of Abba, Father. The right to believe,
  and the power to believe, had both to be re-created.

  But all that was so re-created has, for its preliminary ground, the
  original constitution of man's sinless nature; and, in all our
  treatment of redemption, we must begin by recalling what it was
  which Christ entered to restore. That original condition was the
  pledge of the recovery which God would bring to pass; and,
  throughout the interval between fall and rescue, it could anticipate
  the coming Christ by the faith which rejoiced to see His Day, and
  saw His Glory, and spake of Him. Therefore the faith which Christ
  raises to its new and higher power by concentrating it upon His own
  Personality, is still, at core, the old faith which was the
  prophetic witness given, under the conditions of the earlier
  covenant, by that great army of the Faithful which is marshalled
  before us by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, who most
  certainly considers it possible and justifiable to emphasise the
  continuity that holds between the faith of Abraham and the faith of
  the redeemed.

[53] Cf. on all this, an excellent statement in Mark Pattison's
_Sermons_, Serm. 7.

[54] It is not intended to deny that the mind can ever know itself,
but only that such knowledge can ever be won by methods of empirical

[55] The word 'super-natural' is obviously misleading, since it seems
to imply that the higher spiritual levels of life are _not_ 'natural.'
Of course, the higher the life, the more intensely 'natural' it is;
and the nature of God must be the supreme expression of the natural.
But the word 'super-natural' is, in reality, only concerned with the
partial and conventional use of 'nature,' as a term under which we sum
up all that constitutes this present and visible system of things.

[56] It is this point of arrest which is reached and revealed by the
process of Evolution, under the pressure of Natural Selection.

[57] Faith is spoken of, here and elsewhere, in its perfect and true
form, as if unthwarted by the misdirection, and hurt of sin.

[58] Cf. pp. 105-107.




I. The object of this essay is not to discuss the so-called 'proofs'
of the existence of God, but to shew what the Christian doctrine of
God is, and how it has grown to be what it is, out of the antagonisms
of earlier days; and then to ask--What fuller realization of God's
revelation of Himself is He giving us through the contradictions and
struggles of to-day? If it is true that 'the only ultimate test of
reality is persistence, and the only measure of validity among our
primitive beliefs the success with which they resist all efforts to
change them[59],' it is of first importance to discover what it is
which, through all the struggles of past history, the religious nature
of man has persistently clung to. Much which was once dear to the
religious consciousness, and which seemed at the time to be an
integral part of the religious idea, has been given up. A former age
abandoned it with regret, and looked forward with gloomy foreboding. A
later age looks back with thankfulness, and recognises 'the good Hand
of our God' leading us to truer knowledge of Himself.

It would be idle to deny, after all due allowance has been made for
the natural tendency to believe that the present is the critical
moment, not only for us, but for the world at large, that the crisis
of the present day is a very real one, and that the religious view of
God is feeling the effects of the change, which is modifying our views
of the world and man. When such a fundamental idea is challenged, men
are naturally tempted to adopt one of two equally onesided attitudes,
to commit themselves either to a policy of unintelligent protest, or
to a policy of unconditional surrender. And if the one is needlessly
despairing, the other is unwarrantably sanguine. The one asks,--'How
much must I give up, of what religion has always been to me, that a
little of the old may survive amidst the new?' The other asks,--'How
little of the old need I keep, so as not to interfere with the ready
acceptance of the new?' The one view is pessimist, the other optimist.
Both have their representatives in our day, and each party is
profoundly conscious of the danger to which the other is exposed. The
advocates of the one view, finding themselves 'in a place where two
seas meet,' think it safer to 'run the ship aground'; those of the
other 'seeing they cannot bear up against the wind' prefer to 'let her
drive.' But if the spirit of the one is merely protestant, the spirit
of the other is certainly not catholic.

In contrast with these one-sided views, we propose to approach the
question in the full conviction that the revelation of God in Christ
is both true and complete, and yet that every new truth which flows in
from the side of science, or metaphysics, or the experience of social
and political life, is designed in God's providence to make that
revelation real, by bringing out its hidden truths. It is in this
sense that the Christian revelation of God claims to be both final and
progressive; final, for Christians know but one Christ and do not
'look for another'; progressive, because Christianity claims each new
truth as enriching our knowledge of God, and bringing out into greater
clearness and distinctness some half-understood fragment of its own
teaching. There are, no doubt, always to be found Christians, who are
ready to treat new knowledge as the Caliph Omar treated the books in
the library of Alexandria,--'they agree with the Koran and are
unnecessary, or they disagree with it and must be destroyed.' But an
intelligent Christian will not ask, 'Does this new truth agree with or
contradict the letter of the Bible?' but 'How does it interpret and
help us to understand the Bible?' And so with regard to all truth,
whether it comes from the side of science, or history, or criticism,
he adopts neither the method of protest nor the method of surrender,
but the method of assimilation. In the face of new discoveries, the
only question he is anxious to answer is this,--'What old truth will
they explain, or enlighten, or make real to us? What is this new world
of life and interest which is awaiting its consecration? "Truth is an
ever-flowing river, into which streams flow in from many sides[60]."
What is this new stream which is about to empty itself, as all
knowledge must, into the great flood of Divine truth, "that the earth
may be filled with the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the

Such a hopeful attitude does not, indeed, imply that the assimilation
of the new truths will go on as a matter of course. The Christian
knows that the acceptance of truth is a moral, as well as an
intellectual, matter, and in the moral world there is no place for
_laisser faire_. He expects to be called upon to struggle; he expects
that the struggle will need his utmost effort, moral and intellectual.
His work is both to keep and to claim; to hold fast the faith 'once
for all delivered to the saints,' and yet to see in every fragment of
truth a real revelation of the mind and will of God. He has no cut and
dried answer to objections; he does not boast that he has no
difficulties. But he does claim to look out upon the difficulties of
his day, not only fearlessly, but with hope and trust. He knows that
Christianity must triumph in the end, but he does not expect all
difficulties to be removed in a moment. And he is strong enough, if
need be, to wait.

II. Whether anyone is really guilty of what Hume calls the 'multiplied
indiscretion and imprudence' of dogmatic atheism, whether positivism
can rightly be so classed, whether agnosticism is not atheism to all
intents and purposes, are questions which fortunately lie outside the
scope of the present enquiry. As for polytheism it has ceased to exist
in the civilised world. Every theist is, by a rational necessity, a
monotheist. But we find ourselves, in the present day, face to face
with two different views of God, which though they constantly, perhaps
generally, overlap, and even sometimes coincide, yet imply different
points of view, and by a process of abstraction can be held apart and
contrasted with one another. Many devout Christians are philosophers
and men of science; many men of science and philosophers are devout
Christians. But the God of religion is not the God of science and
philosophy. Ideally, everyone will allow that the religious idea of
God, and the scientific and philosophical idea of God must be
identical, but in actual fact it is not so, and in the earlier stages
of the development of both, there is a real antagonism. To accept this
antagonism as absolute is, by a necessary consequence, to compel one
to give way to the other. We cannot long hold two contradictory
truths. We find ourselves compelled to choose. We may have Religion or
Philosophy, but not both.

Very few, however, are prepared to go this length. It is much more
usual to get rid of the antagonism by adopting one of two alternative

(1) Of these the first is a suggested division of territory, in which
religion is allotted to faith, and philosophy and science to reason.
Such an expedient, though not uncommonly, and perhaps even wisely,
adopted by individuals, who refuse to give up either of two truths
because they cannot harmonize them, becomes ridiculous when seriously
proposed as a solution of the difficulty. Moreover the proposed
division of territory is unfair to start with. 'Give us the Knowable,
and you shall have the rest, which is far the larger half,' sounds
like a liberal offer made by science to religion, till we remember
that every advance in knowledge transfers something from the side of
the unknown to the side of the known, in violation of the original
agreement. Mr. Herbert Spencer calls this division of territory a
'reconciliation[61].' But if anything in the world could make religion
hate and fear science and oppose the advance of knowledge, it is to
find itself compelled to sit still and watch the slow but sure
filching away of its territory by an alien power. We say nothing here
of the fact that Mr. Herbert Spencer's division ignores the truth that
knowledge of correlatives must be of the same kind[62], and that if
knowledge has to do with one and faith with the other, either faith
must be a sort of knowledge, or knowledge a sort of faith. We merely
notice the unfairness of a division which assumes rationality for
science, and leaves irrationality to religion.

Curiously enough, however, there are many devout people, who would be
horrified at the thought that they had borrowed from Agnosticism, and
who have nevertheless made a similar division of territory. They are
the people who stake all upon what reason cannot do. They have no
interest in the progress of knowledge. The present gaps in science are
their stronghold, and they naturally resist every forward step in
knowledge as long as they can, because each new discovery limits the
area in which alone, according to their imperfect view, faith can
live. Every triumph of science on this theory, as on Mr. Herbert
Spencer's, becomes a loss, not a gain, to religion. The very existence
of God is bound up with that part of His work in nature which we
cannot understand, and, as a consequence, we reach the paradox that
the more we know of His working, the less proof we have that He
exists. Modern apologetic literature abounds in this kind of argument.
It is the devout form of the worship of the unknowable. Yet it is no
wonder that people who take refuge in gaps find themselves awkwardly
placed when the gaps begin to close.

(2) The other alternative is even more commonly adopted, for it fits
in well with the vagueness and want of precision in language, which is
at a premium in dealing with religious questions. This consists in
frittering away the meaning of definite terms till they are available
for anything, or adopting a neutral term which, by a little management
and stretching, will include opposites. This is the method of
indefinite inclusion. The strength of the former alternative lay in
the appearance of sharp scientific delimitation of territory: the
strength of the latter in its unlimited comprehensiveness. A term is
gradually stripped of the associations which make it what it is, it is
'defecated to a pure transparency,' and then it is ready for use. The
term 'God' is made merely 'a synonym for nature[63]'; religion becomes
'habitual and permanent admiration[64],' or 'devout submission of the
heart and will to the laws of nature[65]'; enthusiasm does duty for
worship, and the antagonism between religion and anything else

Now so far as this represents, negatively, a reaction against
intolerance and narrowness, and positively a desire for unity, there
is not a word to be said against it. Its tone and temper may be both
Christian and Catholic. But the method is a radically false one. It is
not a real, but only an abstract, unity which can be reached by
thinking away of differences. As Dr. Martineau says, in his excellent
criticism of this method, 'You vainly propose an _cirenicon_ by
corruption of a word.' 'The disputes between science and faith can no
more be closed by inventing "religions of culture" than the boundary
quarrels of nations by setting up neutral provinces in the air[66].'
'A God that is merely nature, a Theism without God; a Religion
forfeited only by the "nil admirari" can never reconcile the secular
and the devout, the Pagan and the Christian mind[67].' As well might
we attempt to reconcile the partizans of the gold and silver shields
by assuring them that in reality the shields were silver gilt.

We are left, then, face to face with the opposition between the
religious and the philosophic or scientific view of God. The
counter-charges of superstition and anthropomorphism on the one side,
and of pantheism and rationalism on the other, serve to bring out the
antithesis of the two views. No division of territory is possible.
There may be many sciences, each with its defined range of
subject-matter; but there can be only one God. And both religion and
philosophy demand that He shall fill the whole region of thought and
feeling. Nor can any confusion or extension of terms help us to a
reconciliation, or blind us long to the true issue. The conflict is
too real and too keenly felt to admit of any patched-up peace. The
idea of God, which is to claim alike the allegiance of religion and
philosophy, must not be the result of compromise, but must really and
fully satisfy the demands of both.

III. What then are these demands considered in abstraction from one
another? We are at once met by the difficulty of defining religion.
But if we cannot define religion, or trace it back to its hidden
source, we can at least discover its characteristics, as we know it
after it has emerged from the obscurity of prehistoric times, and
before any conscious attempt has been made to reconcile religion and
philosophy, or find a middle term between them.

Now traditional definitions of religion, given as it were from within,
and constructed with no view of opposition to, or reconciliation with,
philosophy, are agreed in representing religion as a relation between
man and the object or objects of his worship, and this implies, not
only the inferiority of the worshipper to that which he worships, but
also something of likeness between the related terms, since, as even
Strauss allows, in our inmost nature we feel a kinship between
ourselves and that on which we depend[68]. It is quite indifferent
which of the rival etymologies of the word 'religion' we adopt[69].
S. Augustine[70], following Lactantius, speaks of religion as 'the
bond which binds us to One Omnipotent God.' S. Thomas[71] adopts
almost unchanged the definition given by Cicero: it is 'that virtue
which has to do with the worship of a higher nature known as the
Divine.' It is not too much to say that, for the modern religious
world, religion implies at least the practical belief in a real and
conscious relation between the inner life of man and an unseen Being.
And whatever of mystery there may be about that unseen Being, it would
seem as if a real relationship demands so much of likeness in the
related terms, as is implied in personality.

It is here that we reach the point at which we are able to distinguish
between the religious and the philosophical ideas of God. It is not
that religion and philosophy necessarily contradict or exclude one
another, but that they approach the problem with different interests.
Religion demands a personal object, be that object one or many. It is
committed to the belief in a moral relationship between God and man.
Philosophy demands unity, whether personal or impersonal. For
philosophy is nothing if it does not completely unify knowledge. And
it seems as if each finds lacking in the other that which it values
most and thinks of first. The only hope, then, of reconciliation is in
the idea of God as personal, and yet one. So long as religion retains
a trace of polytheism or dualism, philosophy can have nothing to say
to it. So long as philosophy has no room for a personal God, religion
must exclude philosophy. The whole issue of the controversy lies here.
If the belief in a personal God is to be called anthropomorphism,
religion is hopelessly anthropomorphic. With the disappearance of
anthropomorphism in this sense, as Professor Fiske rightly sees[72],
religion disappears. But we cannot escape anthropomorphism, though our
anthropomorphism may be crude or critical[73]. We do not read our full
selves into the lower world, because we are higher than it; we do not
transfer to God all that belongs to our own self-consciousness,
because we know that He is infinitely greater than we are. But we
should be wrong not to interpret Him by the highest category within
our reach, and think of Him as self-conscious life. Christianity
refuses to call this anthropomorphism, though it stands or falls with
the belief that, in his personality, man is in the image of God. An
anthropomorphic view of God for a Christian means heathenism or
heresy: a theomorphic view of man is of the essence of his faith[74].

The religious idea of God may, of course, become philosophical without
ceasing to be religious. If there is to be a religion for man as a
rational being it must become so. But there is a point beyond which,
in its desire to include philosophy, religion cannot go. It cannot
afford to give up its primary assumption of a moral relationship
between God and man. When that point is surrendered or obscured the
old religious terms become increasingly inapplicable, and we find
ourselves falling back more and more on their supposed philosophical
equivalents, the 'Infinite' or the 'Absolute,' or the Universal
Substance, or the Eternal Consciousness, or the First Cause, or the
Omnipresent Energy. But these terms, which metaphysicians rightly
claim, have no meaning for the religious consciousness, while, in
metaphysics proper 'God' is as much a borrowed term as 'sin' is in
non-religious ethics. Moral evil is 'sin' only to those who believe in
God; and the infinite is only 'God' to those in whom it suggests a
superhuman personality with whom they are in conscious relation. Even
when religion and philosophy both agree to speak of God as 'the
Infinite,' for the one it is an adjective, for the other a
substantive. The moment we abandon the idea of God as personal,
religion becomes merged in philosophy, and all that properly
constitutes religion disappears. God may exist for us still as the
keystone in the arch of knowledge, but He is no longer, except as a
metaphor, 'our Father, which is in heaven.'

IV. Religion then, properly and strictly, and apart from extensions of
the term made in the interests of a reconciliation, assumes a moral
relationship, the relationship of personal beings, as existing between
man and the Object of his worship. When this ceases, religion ceases:
when this begins, religion begins. But of the beginnings of religion
we know nothing. Prehistoric history is the monopoly of those who have
a theory to defend. But we may take it as proven that it is at least
as true that man is a religious, as that he is a rational, animal.
'Look out for a people,' says Hume, 'entirely destitute of religion.
If you find them at all, be assured that they are but few degrees
removed from brutes[75].' Hume's statement is confirmed by the fact
that those who would prove that there is no innate consciousness of
Deity are driven to appeal to the case of deaf mutes and degraded
savages[76]. Whether monotheism was a discovery or a recovery, whether
it rose on the ruins of polytheism, or whether polytheism is a
corruption of a purer faith, is a question we need not attempt to
settle. Nor need we decide the priority of claim to the title of
religion as between nature-worship, or ancestor-worship, or
ghost-worship. The farther we go back in history the more obviously
true is the charge of anthropomorphism so commonly brought against
religion. The natural tendency to treat the object of religion as
personal, exists long before any attempt is made to define the
conditions or meaning of personality, and includes much which is
afterwards abandoned. For religion in its earliest stages is
instinctive, not reasoned. It is 'naively objective.' It is little
careful to clear up its idea of the nature and character of its God.
It is still less anxious to prove His existence. It is only when
conscience grows strong, and dares to challenge the religion which had
been instinctively accepted, that men learn to see that God not only
is, but must be, the expression of the highest known morality. It is
only when the light of conscious reason is turned back upon religious
ideas, that polytheism becomes not merely untrue, but impossible and
inconceivable. What religion starts with is not any theory of the
world, but an unreasoned belief in a Being or beings, however
conceived of, who shall be in a greater or less degree like the
worshipper, but raised above him by the addition of power, if not
omnipotence; greatness, if not infinity; wisdom, if not omniscience.

But, while implying from the first something of a moral relationship
between man and the object of his worship, religion does not always
conceive of that Object as necessarily holy or perfectly wise. There
are religions which are both immoral and childish. They have in them
no principle of growth, and therefore they are the opponents alike of
moral and intellectual progress. _Tantum relligio potuit suadere
malorum_ is the reflexion of Christian apologists, as well as of the
Roman poet, on the religions of heathenism. Hence, it is argued,
'Religion is the enemy of morals and of science. Away with it. It is a
mere matter of feeling, which cannot and ought not to stand before the
imperious challenge of conscience and reason.' Such a view has both
truth and falsehood in it. The religious idea of God must be able to
justify itself to our moral and to our rational nature, on pain of
ceasing to exist. But religion cannot be thus shut up to one part of
our nature, nor can one part of our nature be set against the rest.
There is, as Herbert Spencer is fond of pointing out[77], a kind of
idolatry of reason in the present day. Reason has exposed many
superstitions only to become itself the final object of superstition.
Men forget that, after all, reasoning is only 're-coordinating states
of consciousness already coordinated in certain simpler ways,' and
that that which is unreasoned is not always irrational. Rationality in
man is not shut up in one air-tight compartment. 'There is no feeling
or volition which does not contain in it an element of knowledge[78].'
This is the truth which Hegel has seized when he speaks of religion as
'reason talking naively.' You can no more shut up faith to the
compartment of feeling than reason to the compartment of the
intellect. Religion claims the whole man, and true religion is that
which can make good its claim.

The natural history of religion, then, is the history of the process
by which that which has its secret birthplace behind all the
distinctions of modern psychology, establishes its claim on man,
absorbing into itself all that is best and truest in his moral and
intellectual being, as conscience and reason successively emerge into
conscious activity: while, from another point of view, it is the
progressive purification of the religious idea of God till He is
revealed as, what He is to a thinking Christian of to-day, the Object
of reverent worship, the moral ideal, the truth of nature and of man.

Such an end is not attained in a moment. It is the result of a process
with which we are familiar elsewhere, viz. evolution by antagonism.
The true has to be separated from the false. Immoral and irrational
conceptions of God have to be thrown aside. It is only after what
looks like an internecine struggle between religion and morality that
man learns the truth about the character of God, and only after a
conflict with philosophy and science, which seems to threaten the very
life of religion, that he learns what can be known of the Divine
Nature. For among religions, too, there is a struggle for existence,
in which the fittest survive. And the test of fitness is the power to
assimilate and promote moral and intellectual truth, and so to satisfy
the whole man. An ideally perfect religion is not 'morality touched by
emotion,' but a worship which reflects itself in the highest known
morality, and is interpreted and justified to itself by reason. It is
this process, as we know it in history, that we proceed to examine.

V. The statement that religion, even in its most elementary forms,
takes for granted some relationship of likeness between the worshipper
and the Object or objects of his worship, by no means implies that all
religion associates the highest morality with its idea of God. On the
contrary, we know that not only are there immoral religions, but that
immorality sometimes lingers on in religion long after it is condemned
elsewhere, and that a people will permit as a religious duty what,
according to their thinking, nothing but religion would justify. We
cannot, then, at all accurately gauge the moral condition of a people
by the received teaching about its gods, for morality is often far in
advance of religion, and the character which in a god or goddess is
protected by a religious halo is looked upon as hateful or impure in
man or woman. The sense of dependence, which, though it does not
constitute the whole, is yet an essential element in the religious
consciousness, the awe which, in a low state of development, shews
itself in a grovelling fear of the invisible beings, makes it
impossible for the worshipper to judge his god by the standard he
applies to his fellow man. The god may be lustful, but his lusts must
be respected; he is strong and vengeful and must by all means be kept
in a good temper, cajoled, or outwitted, or bribed, or humoured. His
commands must be obeyed, without question or resistance. But by and
bye the moral nature learns its strength, and begins to assert its
independent right to speak. Morality outgrows religion. The relations
between religion and morals become more strained. Some heretic dares
to say that the Gods are immoral; that they are men 'writ large,' and
bad men too. Their claim to reverence is challenged. There is a moral
awakening. Soon the old religion is treated with scorn and contempt,
and either a new religion takes its place, coming in as it were on the
crest of the wave of moral reformation, or the old religion is
purified and becomes the foster-mother of the new morality, giving to
it a divine sanction, and receiving from it in turn new strength and
vitality. Or failing these, men abandon religion in the supposed
interest of morals. A religion with mysteries may be tolerated, but a
religion once seen to be immoral is at an end. For a time ethics, with
a background of metaphysics or politics, prevails, but gradually it
tends to drift into a mere prudentialism, while a merely mystical
philosophy tries in vain to satisfy those deeper instincts which reach
out to the unseen.

In the history of Greek thought the collision came in the days of
Xenophanes. Long before what is sometimes called the era of conscious
morality, Greece had outgrown its traditional religion. Greek
philosophy at its birth was mythology rationalized, and the beginning
of independent morality in Greece shewed itself in a criticism of the
religious teaching of Homer and Hesiod. The scathing satire of
Xenophanes reminds us at times of the way in which Isaiah speaks of
the idolatry of his day. It is not only wrong, it is capable of a
_reductio ad absurdum_. Anthropomorphism, immorality, childish
folly--these are the charges which Xenophanes brings against the
worship of Magna Graecia. Anaxagoras had already been banished for
suggesting that the god Helios was a mass of molten iron, but
Xenophanes turns into open ridicule the religion of his day.

'Homer and Hesiod,' he says, 'ascribe to the gods all that among men
is held shameful and blameworthy, theft, adultery, and deceit[79].'

'One God there is mightiest among gods and men, who neither in form
nor thought is like to men. Yet mortals think the gods are born and
have shape and voice and raiment like themselves. Surely if lions and
cows had hands, and could grave with their hands and do as men do,
they too would make gods like themselves, horses would have horse-like
gods, and cows gods with horns and hoofs[80].'

When the age of moral philosophy begins, amidst the unsettlement of
the sophistic period, the same protest is taken up by Plato. In
Xenophanes the protest of the reason and the conscience went together.
In Plato the criticism of the received theology is more distinctly a
moral criticism. God cannot lie or deceive. He cannot be the cause of
evil. He is good, and only the source of good. He is true in word and
deed. If not, we cannot reverence Him. It cannot be true that the gods
give way to violent emotions, still less to sensuality and envy and
strife[81]. 'For God cannot be unrighteous, He must be perfectly
righteous, and none is like Him save the most righteous among

Here we have a collision between an immoral religious conception of
God and a morality which is becoming conscious of its own strength.
And what was the result? Religion in Greece received its death blow.
It had no real recuperative power. It could not absorb and claim the
new morality. Homer and Hesiod, the 'Bible' of the Athenian, were too
profoundly immoral. A Kephalus might go back in silent protest to his
sacrifice, but the youth of Athens turned from religion to morality.
When we pass from Plato to Aristotle, the last trace of religion in
morals has disappeared. Theology has become Metaphysics, and has no
place in the world of practical life. The religious element has
disappeared from philosophy, and is only revived in the mysticism of
Neo-Pythagoreanism and Neo-Platonism. In metaphysics and science we
owe everything to the Greeks; in religion, as distinguished from
theology, we owe nothing.

From the Greeks we turn to the Jews, to whom alone, among the nations
of the pre-Christian age, we of the modern world trace back our
religious lineage. We speak of the religion of the Old Testament as
'revealed' in contrast with all other pre-Christian religions. Is that
distinction tenable? If so, what does it mean, and what justifies us
in making it? It is clear that the answer must be sought in what the
Old Testament revelation is, rather than in the process by which the
Jews became the appointed depositaries of it. For whatever were the
prehistoric elements out of which the religion of Israel came, whether
Assyrian or Accadian or Indo-German or Egyptian, and whatever were the
steps by which Israel was led[83] to that doctrine of God which
constituted its mission and its message to the world, as we look back
from the point of view of Christianity we see that the religion of
Israel stands to the teaching of Christ in a relation in which no
Pagan religion stands[84]. The Law and the Prophets were for all the
world 'a sacred school of the knowledge of God, and the ordering of
the soul[85].' If it is true that the Bible only records the later and
more important stages in a process which began in prehistoric times
amidst the various forms of polytheistic worship, even if it could be
shewn that the history, as we have it, has been subjected to
successive revisions, that its laws have been codified, its ritual
elaborated, its symbolism interpreted, it would still remain true that
the religion of Israel, which begins where its history begins, and of
which, indeed, its history is little more than the vehicle, is bound
up with the assertion of Monotheism. The central fact of its
revelation is this, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One Lord.'
The central utterance of its law is, 'Thou shalt have none other gods
but Me.' The unity of God, that truth which other religions were
feeling after and tending towards, stands out clearly and distinctly
as the characteristic of the religion of Israel, and is fearlessly
claimed as an inheritance from the patriarchal age.

And not less remarkable than the assertion of the unity of God is the
assumption that this One God is a God of Righteousness. He is 'a God
of truth and without iniquity; just and right is He.' Here, again, it
was not that the religion of Israel asserted what other religions
denied, but that Israel proclaimed clearly and with increasing
certainty a truth which the highest contemporary religions were
struggling to express. In the religion of Israel the pre-Christian
world rose to articulate religious utterance. Its highest and truest
intuitions found a voice. Israel had yet much to learn and much to
unlearn as to what true morality is. It had anthropomorphisms of
thought and language to get rid of. It had to rise in Psalmist and
Prophet to moral heights unknown to the patriarchal age. But the
remarkable thing is that the claim is made. Morality is claimed for
God: God is declared to be irrevocably on the side of what man knows
as righteousness. And this truth is proclaimed not as a discovery but
as a revelation from God Himself. It was this, not less than the
proclamation of monotheism, which made the teaching of the Old
Testament what it was. It consciously transformed the natural law of
'might is right' into the moral truth that 'right is might.'

And the consequences of this new departure in the religious history of
man were far-reaching. It made the difference between the religion of
Israel and all other religions a difference not merely of degree but
of kind. The worship of the Lord and the worship of the heathen gods
becomes not only a conflict between the true and the false in
religion, but between the moral and the immoral in practice. More than
this, it changes the mere emotional feeling of awe and dependence on
invisible powers into trust and confidence. If God is irrevocably on
the side of right, the nation or the individual, that is struggling
for the right, is fighting on the side of God. It was this which made
the great Hebrew leaders, and the Psalmists after them, take it for
granted that their cause was the cause of God, and that the Lord of
Hosts was with them. Even the wars of extermination were the
expression in act of the utter antagonism between good and evil, the
cause of God and that of His enemies. And when Saul spared Agag it was
from no excess of charity, no glimpse of a higher morality; it was an
act of moral weakness. Finally, this claim of morality for God
precluded the possibility of such a collision as took place in the
history of the Greeks. The progressive development of morals in the
Old Testament, and the gradual unfolding of a perfect character[86]
was also for Israel a progressive revelation of the character of God.
Step by step the religious idea advanced with moral progress. And, as
they advance, the contrast with other religions becomes more marked.
'It was the final distinction between Polytheism and the religion of
Israel that the former emphasized power, the latter the moral element
to which it subordinated and conjoined power[87].' And this moral
conception of God was constantly kept before the people. If they lapse
into idolatry and adopt heathen practices and heathen ideas of God,
the prophets are ready with the warning that God is the God of Israel,
only because Israel is a chosen people to bear His name and His truth
before the world; and if they are false to their mission, they will be
rejected. If, again, the sacrificial system loses its moral
significance as the recognition of the holiness of God and the
sinfulness of the sinner, and the forward-pointing look towards the
great moral fact of the Atonement, and becomes merely ritual, and
perfunctory, and formal, the prophets dare to denounce even the
divinely ordered sacrifices as things which God hates.

Yet it was not that, in the religion of Israel, morality was made the
essential thing, a nucleus of morals, as it were, with a halo of
religious emotion round it. It was that the religious and the moral
consciousness are brought together in a real unity. To love the Lord
is to hate evil. God is One who gives His blessing to the righteous,
while the ungodly and him that delighteth in wickedness doth His soul
abhor. He, then, who would ascend into the hill of the Lord and stand
in His holy place, must have clean hands, and a pure heart, and a
lowly mind. The Lord God is holy. He has no pleasure in wickedness,
neither shall any evil dwell with Him. Righteousness and judgment are
the habitation of His seat. The sacrifice that He loves is the
sacrifice of righteousness. He is to be worshipped in the beauty of
holiness. What He requires of man is that he shall do justly, and love
mercy, and walk humbly with his God.

All this, which comes out no doubt with increasing clearness in the
Psalms and Prophets, is already implicit in that earlier claim made by
the religion of Israel, that the true God is on the side of
righteousness, and that to be false to righteousness is to be a
traitor to God. In this union of religion and morality neither is
sacrificed to the other. Each gains from its union with the other. The
religious idea of God, and the religious emotions which gather round
it, are progressively purified with the growth of moral ideas; and
morality receives new life and strength when the moral law is seen to
be the unfolding of the character of a Righteous God, and moral evil
is known as 'sin' against a Personal Being. The earnest moral protest
which in Greece was directed against the national religion, is found
in the Old Testament making common cause with the national religion
against the immoral beliefs of heathenism. Hence the Jew was not
called upon, as the Greek was, to choose between his religion and his
conscience. He never felt the strain which men feel in the present
day, when a high and pure morality seems ranged against religious
faith. For the Jew every advance in moral insight purified, while it
justified, that idea of God, which he believed had come down to him
from the 'Father of the Faithful.' His hope of immortality, his faith
in the ultimate triumph of the God of Israel, were alike based upon
the conviction that God is a God of justice and mercy, and that the
Righteous One could not fail His people, or suffer His holy One to see
corruption. Even though with the growth of morality, and the fuller
unfolding of the character of God, there came, like a shadow cast by
light, the deepening consciousness of sin as the barrier between man
and God, the Jew refused to believe that the separation was for ever.
Sin was a disease which needed healing, a bondage which called for a
deliverer, a state of indebtedness from which man could not free
himself. But Israel believed in and looked forward to, with confidence
and hope, the Redeemer who should come to Zion and save His people
from their sins.

The final revelation of Christianity came outwardly as a continuation
and development of the religion of Israel, and claimed to be the
fulfilment of Israel's hope. It was a 'republication' of the highest
truth about God which had been realized hitherto. For it came 'not to
destroy but to fulfil.' God is still the Eternally One, the Eternally
Righteous. Not sacrifice but holiness, not external 'works' but inward
'faith,' not the deeds of the law, but the righteousness which is of
God--this is what He requires. He is still the God of Israel. But
Israel according to the flesh had ceased to be the Israel of God, and
the children of faithful Abraham, in whom, according to the ancient
promise, all the families of the earth should be blessed, are to be
gathered from east and west and north and south, from circumcised and
uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, bond or free, and recognised as
one family under the one Father. If Christianity had been this and
this only, Christ might have claimed to be a great prophet, breaking
the silence of 400 years, restoring the ancient faith, and truly
interpreting and carrying forward the spirit of the ancient
revelation. But He claimed to be more than this. He claimed, as the
Son of God, to be not only the true, but the only, Revealer of the
Father. For 'no man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the
Son shall reveal Him.' What fresh characteristics, then, has this new
revelation to add to the Old Testament teaching about God? He is still
One, the only God. He is perfect Righteousness, yet, as even the older
religion knew, a God of loving-kindness and tender mercy, 'Who wills
not the death of the sinner.' But more than all this, He is now
revealed to man as Infinite Love, the One Father of humanity, Whose
only begotten Son is Incarnate and 'made man that we may be made God.'
Not one jot or tittle of the old revelation of God, as a God of
Righteousness, is lost or cancelled. The moral teaching is stern and
uncompromising as ever. God's love, which is Himself, is not the
invertebrate amiability, or weak good-naturedness, to which some would
reduce it. 'The highest righteousness of the Old Testament is raised
to the completeness of the Sermon on the Mount[88].' The New
Testament,' it has been said, 'with all its glad tidings of mercy, is
a severe book[89].' For the goodness and the severity of God are, as
it were, the convex and the concave in His moral nature. But what
seized upon the imagination of mankind as the distinctive revelation
of Christianity was the infinite love and tenderness and compassion of
this Righteous God for sinful man. It was this which shone out in the
character of Christ, He was Very God, with a Divine hatred of evil,
yet living as man among men, revealing the true idea of God, and not
only realizing in His human life the moral ideal of man, but by taking
human nature into Himself setting loose a power of moral regeneration,
of which the world had never dreamed.

The advance which the Gospel of Christ makes upon the Old Testament
revelation consists then, not only in the new truth it teaches as to
the character of God, but in the new relation which it establishes
between God and man. So soon as men learn the Old Testament truth that
God is eternally on the side of righteousness, the awe and cringing
fear, which lies behind heathen religions, and justifies us in calling
them superstitions, gives place to trustful confidence, which deepens
into faith, and gathers round it those affections and desires for
union with God which find expression in the book of Psalms. The saints
of the Old Testament could 'rest in the Lord' and wait for the
vindication of His Righteousness in human life; they could yearn for
His presence and hope for the day when they should 'see the King in
His beauty.' But they were yet separated from Him by the unobliterated
fact of sin. Enoch 'walked with God,' Abraham was called 'the friend
of God,' Moses 'the Lord knew face to face,' David was 'a man after
God's own heart,' Daniel 'a man greatly beloved.' But one and all of
these fell short, and necessarily fell short, of the closeness of that
union which is the Christian's birthright. In the Gospel, God is
revealed as one with man. And this truth changed the whole attitude
and atmosphere of worship. There was worship still, for humanity was
not merged and lost in Godhead. There is no Christian ring about the
statement[90] that 'in Christianity, in the consciousness that he is
partaker of the Divine existence, man no longer sustains the relation
of Dependence but of Love.' Rather the antithesis between dependence
and freedom is destroyed. As perfect love casts out fear, yet leaves
reverence, so the consciousness of union with God, as distinct from
absorption in Him, while it destroys the last remnant of what is
servile and degrading in religious emotion, and gives man freedom, yet
gives the freedom of loving dependence upon God. And by this gift it
sets free new affections and appeals to new motives. It was the
assured consciousness of union with God which gave the first
Christians their power in the great moral struggles of their day.
Their moral ideal with its loftiness, its purity, its perfect
truthfulness, would by its very perfectness have paralyzed effort, had
they not believed that they were one with Him Who had not only
proclaimed but realized it, that they could do all things through
Christ which strengthened them. And the horror of sin, which was a
characteristic note of Christian ethics, was due to the same fact.
Unrighteousness, not only as under the Old Testament, ranged a man on
the side of the enemies of God, but according to its degree tended to
break the supernatural bond which through the Incarnation united men
with God. Impurity, which meant so little for the civilized world of
the first Christian centuries, was for the Christian not defilement
only, but sacrilege, for his body was God's temple. The love of the
world was enmity against God, yet the neglect of social duties, and of
all that is now summed up in the 'service of man,' was for the
Christian _ipso facto_ the declaring himself outside the love of God,
just as, conversely, the love of the brethren was the proof that he
had 'passed from death unto life.'

Thus in primitive Christianity the religious and the moral
consciousness were at one, as in the Old Testament, but both are now
raised to their highest level. Free scope is given for the development
of both, and the satisfaction of the demands of both, in Christian
life and Christian worship. Side by side they fought and triumphed
over heathenism, taking up and assimilating all that was best and
truest in non-Christian ethics. And though Christians were long in
learning what manner of spirit they were of, it seemed as if a real
conflict between religion and morals, within the area of Christianity,
was impossible.

And yet again and again, in the history of Christianity, such a
conflict has come about. Every moral reformation within the Church was
a protest of the conscience against unworthy views of God; every new
Order that was founded was a nursery of moral reformation. Yet every
protest against formalism and unreality in religion, every attack on
ecclesiasticism and 'priestcraft' in the Church, or on worldliness and
laxity in professing Christians, owed its strength to the reassertion
of the truth, that in the Christian idea religion and morals are
inseparably united. The moral reformer always claimed Christianity on
his side, when attacking the Christianity of his day. This was
conspicuously so in the great moral upheaval of the sixteenth century.
In actual fact, religion and morality had separated. And the nearer
one got to the centre of Western Christendom, the more open and
unabashed the neglect of morality was. In Italy of the fifteenth
century renaissance we see, in strange confusion, 'all that we love in
art, and all that we loathe in man[91].' It seemed as if, as in the
old riddle, a swarm of bees had settled in the dead lion's carcass,
and there was sweetness instead of strength, corruption where once was
life. When the new century opened, Borgia was the supreme Bishop of
the West, and the strength of the protest of Christianity against
immorality may be gathered from the list of prices to be paid to the
pardoner. The devout retired from the contest into the severer
discipline of the monastic life, and hoped against hope for the days
of a _Papa angelicus_, who never came. Yet when the strained relations
of religion and morals resulted in a revolution, it never occurred to
those, who had a moral reformation at heart, to say that religion was
outgrown, and morality must henceforth take its place. They appealed
from the Christianity of the sixteenth century to the Christianity of
Christ. Even of those who, in their fear of popery, broke away
farthest from the Christian idea of God, all, if we except the
Anabaptists, claimed the Bible on their side. It was a genuine moral
revolt against a religion which had come to tolerate immorality. The
hatred of 'ecclesiasticism' and 'sacerdotalism' was not at first a
rejection of the Church and the Priesthood, but a protest against
anything which, under the sacred name of religion, becomes a cover for
unreality, or makes sin a thing easy to be atoned for. The Reformation
was a moral protest, and its results were seen within as well as
outside the Roman communion. The Council of Trent was a reforming
Council; the Jesuits were the children of the Reformation; and Roman
Christianity in the strength of its own moral revival, even in the
moment of defeat, became again 'a conquering power[92].'

On the other hand, those whose first impulse was a protest in favour
of a moral religion and a belief in a God who hates iniquity, have
bequeathed to the world a legacy of immorality, of which they never
dreamt, and of which we, in the present day, are feeling the full
effects. Lutheranism starts with the belief that God is love:
Calvinism with the conception of God as power. With the former, the
desire, at all costs, to guard the belief in the freedom of God's
grace, led to a morbid fear of righteousness, as if it were somehow a
rival to faith. With the latter, a one-sided view of the power of God
gradually obscured the fact that righteousness and justice eternally
condition its exercise. If the one was, as history shews us, in
constant danger of Antinomian developments, the other struck at the
root of morality by making God Himself unjust. Forensic fictions of
substitution, immoral theories of the Atonement, 'the rending asunder
of the Trinity' and the opposing of the Divine Persons, like parties
in a lawsuit[93], were the natural corollaries of a theory which
taught that God was above morality and man beneath it.

How deeply these false views of God have influenced English religious
thought is shewn by the fact that every attack on the moral, as
distinguished from the intellectual position of Christianity, is
demonstrably an attack on that which is not Christianity, but a
mediaeval or modern perversion of it. J. S. Mill's well-known
words[94], 'I will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I
apply that epithet to my fellow creatures,' was a noble assertion of
'immutable morality' against a religion, which alas! he mistook for
Christianity. The conscience of to-day,--and it is a real gain that it
should be so,--refuses to believe that the _imprimatur_ of religion
can be given to that which is not good, or that God would put us to
moral confusion. It would rather give up religion altogether than
accept one which will not endorse and advance our highest moral ideas.

But men do not always stop to make the necessary distinctions. On the
one side they see a traditional view of religion which they cannot
harmonise with the highest morality; on the other, they see a
morality, which, though it has grown up under the shadow and shelter
of religion, seems strong enough to stand alone. And their first
thought is 'Away with religion. We have outgrown it. Henceforward we
will have morals unencumbered by religion.' What would be the effect
on the morals of a nation of thus renouncing the religious sanction it
is not safe to predict. In individuals certainly it sometimes has
disastrous results. But there is one thing which those who talk about
the 'secularization of morals[95]' seldom take into account, and that
is the effect on what, in contrast to morals, they call religion. The
religious consciousness always refuses to be treated as defunct, and
the religious emotions, if they no longer find their object in a God
of Righteousness, and are no longer controlled by morality, will not
be satisfied with the worship of the Unknowable or of idealized
humanity, but will avenge themselves, as they have done again and
again, in superstition[96].

And the attempt to do without religion in morals is as unphilosophical
as it is dangerous. It is parallel to what, in the region of morality
proper, we all recognise as a false asceticism. It is the attempt to
crush out, rather than to purify. When men realize the danger of
giving the rein to the animal passions, there are always to be found
moralists who will treat these passions as in themselves evil, and
advocate the suppression of them. And only after an antinomian revolt
against that false teaching do men realize that morality is not the
destruction, but the purification and regulation of the passions. So
with religion and the religious emotions. The function of morality is
to purify the religious idea of God, and religion and morality are
strong and true in proportion as each uses the help of the other. But
neither can treat the other as subordinate. God is more than what Kant
makes Him, the ultimate justification of morality: morality is more
than what some religious people would have it, obedience to the
positive commands of even God Himself. In experience we find them
separate and even opposed: ideally they are one, united not confused.
Separated, religion tends to become superstitious, morality to
degenerate into a mere prudentialism, or at least an expanded
utilitarianism. United, religion gives to right that absolute
character which makes it defiant of consequences; morality safeguards
the idea of God from aught that is unworthy of the worship of moral

As the result of all the conflicts which have raged round the idea of
God so far as morals are concerned, one truth has burned itself into
the consciousness of both the apologists and opponents of religion, a
truth as old indeed as the religion of Israel, but only slowly
realized in the course of ages, the truth, namely, that the religious
idea of God must claim and justify itself to the highest known
morality, and no amount of authority, ecclesiastical or civil, will
make men worship an immoral God. And already that truth has thrown
back its light upon questions of Old Testament morality. We no longer
say, 'It is in the Bible, approved or allowed by God, and therefore it
must be right.' It was this view which, in every age, has given its
protection to religious wars and intolerance and persecution. But we
look back and see in the perspective of history how God in every age
takes man as he is that He may make him what he is not. We see in the
Old Testament not only the revelation of the Righteousness of God, but
the record of the way in which, in spite of waywardness and
disobedience, He raised His people to the knowledge of the truth.

VI. But the religious idea of God in our day, as in former ages, is
challenged not only by conscience, but by the speculative reason. And
there is a close parallelism between the two conflicts. When religion
and morals are opposed, men naturally say, 'Give us morals; away with
religion.' And the answer is--True religion is moral; that which is
not moral is not true; and morality without religion will not only
leave the religious consciousness unsatisfied, but fall short of its
own true perfection. So when religion and philosophy are opposed, men
say once more, 'Give us reason; away with religion.' And the answer
again is--True religion is rational: if it excludes reason, it is
self-condemned. And reason without religion fails of its object,
since, if philosophy can find no place for religion, it cannot explain

But here again nothing is gained by confusing the issue, or denying
the actual fact of the collision. We may say with Lacordaire, 'God is
the proper name of truth, as truth is the abstract name of God.' But
it is not a matter of indifference from which point we start, whether
with religion we approach God first as a moral Being, or with
philosophy seek for Him as the truth of man and nature. The motto of
Oxford University, _Dominus Illuminatio mea_, altogether changes its
meaning if we read it _Illuminatio Dominus meus_. As Réville says, 'A
religion may become philosophical, but no philosophy has ever founded
a religion possessing real historical power[97].' And it is a fact
patent to the observation of all, that it is easier to make religion
philosophical than to make philosophy in any real sense religious. The
reason of this is obvious. Religion is not only first in the field, it
covers the whole ground before either morals or science have attained
their full development, or even emerged into conscious life. But when
we speak of philosophy, we have reached a stage in which the reason
has already separated itself from, and set itself over against, the
religious consciousness, and must either absorb religion into itself,
in which case religion ceases to be religion, or must leave religion
outside, though it may borrow and appropriate religious terms. If,
then, the idea of God is to appeal to both the religious consciousness
and the speculative reason it must be by claiming philosophy for
religion, not by claiming religion for philosophy. It is from within,
not from without, that religion must be defended.

In Greece the traditional polytheism was challenged, as we have seen,
at once on the side both of morals and metaphysics. To Xenophanes,
indeed, the unity of God is even more essential than His morality, and
the attack on anthropomorphism is as much an attack upon the number of
the gods of Hesiod as upon the immoral character attributed to them.
In the unity, however, which Xenophanes contends for, the religious
idea of God is so attenuated, that we hardly know whether the One God
is a person, or an abstraction. Indeed, it is hard to see how a
champion of Eleaticism could consistently have held the personality of
God, as we understand it, without falling under his own charge of
anthropomorphism. In Plato the same difficulty appears, only
complicated or relieved by the fact that while from the moral side he
talks like a theist, from the metaphysical his teaching is
pantheistic. Is the 'Idea of Good' personal? Is it a God we can love
and worship, or only a God we can talk about? Is the vision of Er a
concession to popular views, or the vehicle of moral and religious
truth? The question is hardly more easy to decide with regard to
Aristotle. The religious atmosphere, which lingers on in Plato, has
disappeared. What of the religious belief? Did Aristotle in any
intelligible sense hold the personality of God? Great names are ranged
on both sides of the mediaeval controversy. Who shall decide? But
whether or no anything of religion survived in philosophy, it was not
strong enough to withstand the attack of the moral and the speculative
reason, still less to claim these as its own. It is not on the side of
religion, but of speculation, that we are debtors to the Greeks.

Among the Jews, on the other hand, speculation seems hardly to have
existed. Religion was satisfied to make good her claim to the region
of morals. God was One, and He was Righteous, but the mystery which
enveloped His nature the Old Testament does not attempt to fathom.
'Clouds and darkness are round about Him,' yet out of the thick
darkness comes the clear unfaltering truth that 'Righteousness and
judgment are the habitation of His seat.' Jewish religion and Greek
speculation had little contact, and less kinship, till the best days
of both were passed. But in the days of the dispersion we get the
beginning of the mingling of those streams which were only united
under the higher unity of Christianity. 'With the Jews of the East,'
it has been said, 'rested the future of Judaism: with them of the
West, in a sense, that of the world. The one represented old Israel,
groping back into the darkness of the past; the other young Israel,
stretching forth its hands to where the dawn of a new day was about to
break[98].' The Septuagint translation threw open to the Greek world
the sacred books of Israel. The Apocrypha, with all its glorification
of Judaism, was both an apology and an eirenicon[99]. It seemed as if
in Wisdom personified might be found a middle term between the
religion of Israel and the philosophy of Greece, and the life of
righteousness might be identified with the life of true wisdom. The
Jews of Alexandria were thus willing to find a strain of truth in
Greek philosophy, and Alexandrian Greeks were found ready 'to
spiritualize their sensuous divinities[100].' But the result was a
compromise, in which the distinctive elements of each were not
harmonized but lost. There was no fusion as yet of Jewish and Greek
thought, only each was learning to understand the other, and
unconsciously preparing for the higher synthesis of Christianity.

Whether we think of Christ as the 'Son of Man,' or as the Revealer of
God, Christianity is bound to transcend national distinctions, and to
claim not only the whole of humanity, but the whole of man, his
reason, no less than his heart and will. And this Christ did in a
special way. He not only speaks of Himself as 'the Truth,' and as
having come 'to bear witness to the Truth,' but the very complement
(if we may say so) of His revelation of the Father was the sending
'the Spirit of Truth,' who should teach His disciples all things. This
possession of 'truth' is always spoken of by Christ as a future thing,
implicit indeed in Himself, Who is the Truth, but only to be
explicitly declared and brought to remembrance when the Spirit of
Truth should come. He was to guide them 'into all truth.' 'Ye shall
know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' It was inevitable,
then, that the question should arise,--Will this religion, which has
broken through the narrowness of Judaism, and yet by its belief in a
God of righteousness and love combated and triumphed over heathen
immorality, have the power to assimilate and absorb the philosophy of
Greece? The great crisis in the world's history, as we see it, looking
back from the security of eighteen centuries, was this:--Will
Christianity, with all its moral triumphs, become a tributary to Greek
philosophy, as represented by the Schools of Alexandria, or will it
claim and transform the rational, as it has transformed the moral,
progress of humanity? The answer of Christianity is unhesitating.
Christianity is truth, and there is only one truth. Christianity is
wisdom, and there is only one wisdom; for the wisdom of the world is
not wisdom but folly. And at once the rival claim is made. Why not a
division of territory? Knowledge for the philosopher; faith for the
Christian. The Gnostics taught, as a modern philosopher teaches, that
religion is 'reason talking naively,' and that, good as it is for
ordinary people, the Gnostic can afford to do without it. Every one
knows the answer of the Apostles to the insidious suggestions of
Gnosticism. To S. Peter it is 'a damnable heresy, even denying the
Lord who bought us[101].' To S. Paul it is the 'science falsely so
called[102]' the 'knowledge which puffs up[103];' the 'wisdom of this
world[104].' To S. John, Cerinthus was 'the enemy of the truth[105].'
To S. Polycarp, Marcion is 'the firstborn of Satan.' It never occurred
to the Apostles, or the Apologists after them, to retreat into the
fastnesses of a reasonless faith. For with them faith was implicit
knowledge, and the only knowledge that was true.

It was the collision of Christianity with Greek thought which gave
rise to Christian theology in the strict sense of the term. Its
necessity was the claiming of Greek as well as Jew; its justification
was the belief in the presence of the Spirit of truth; its impulse the
desire 'to know the things which are freely given to us by God[106].'
The first Christians were not theologians. They were 'unlearned and
ignorant men.' When Christ preached, the common people heard Him
gladly, the publicans and the harlots believed Him, the poor found in
His teaching 'good news,' and a few fishermen devoted their lives to
Him. But the Scribes and Pharisees stood aloof; and the rationalistic
Sadducees asked Him captious questions; and the Herodians, the
Erastians of the day, tried to involve Him with the secular power. It
was only when challenged by an earnest, but non-religious philosophy,
that reason came forward, in the strength of the Spirit of truth, to
interpret to itself and to the world the revelation of Christ.
Religion and theology in different ways have to do with the knowledge
of God and of spiritual truth. They have the same object, God, but
their aims and their methods are different. Religion knows God;
theology is concerned with the idea of God. Religion sees; theology
thinks. Religion begins and ends in an almost instinctive attitude of
worship; theology rationalizes and defines the characteristics of the
Object of worship. As reason seeks to interpret feeling, so theology
interprets religion. It makes explicit what is implicit in religion.
'As the intellect is cultivated and expanded, it cannot refrain from
the attempt to analyse the vision which influences the heart, and the
object in which it centres; nor does it stop till it has, in some
sort, succeeded in expressing in words, what has all along been a
principle both of the affections and of practical obedience[107].' It
takes the facts which the religious consciousness has seized, seeks to
bring them into distinctness before the mental vision, to connect them
with one another in a coherent system, and find in them the
explanation and unity of all that is. Christian theology grows
naturally out of the Christian religion. But religion is a divine
life; theology a divine science.

This explains the fact that though both religion and theology have to
do with the knowledge of God, and ideally work in perfect harmony, yet
they are often found opposed. Theology is always in danger of becoming
unreal. What is an interpretation for one age becomes 'a tongue not
understanded' in the next. Hence when a revival of religious life
comes, it frequently shews itself in an attack on the received
theology. Theology is no longer regarded as the scientific expression
of the very truths which religion values; it is conceived of as the
antithesis of religion, and reformers dream of a new theology which
shall be for them what, though they know it not, the old theology was
to their predecessors, the handmaid and guardian of religious truth.
When Martin Luther said that 'an old woman who reads her Bible in the
chimney corner knows more about God than the great doctors of
theology,' he was emphasising the severance which, in his day, had
come, to exist between a religious life and theological orthodoxy. And
when in his _Table Talk_ he says, 'A Jurist may be a rogue, but a
theologian must be a man of piety,' he touches a real truth. A hundred
years later, amid the confusions and unrealities of the seventeenth
century, John Smith[108], the Cambridge Platonist, said the same:
'They are not always the best skilled in divinity,' he says, 'that are
most studied in those pandects into which it is sometimes digested.'
'Were I to define divinity, I should rather call it _a divine life_
than _a divine science_.' Technically, no doubt, he was wrong, for
theology is a science and not a life, but, like Luther, he was
vindicating the truth that it is possible for quite simple people to
_know God_, though they have no knowledge of theology, and that
theology, when it becomes speculative and abstract, ceases to be
theology. A theologian, as Mazzini says of an artist, 'must be a
high-priest or a charlatan.'

But the world dislikes a high-priest, and good people dislike a
charlatan. And the consequence is that theology, ancient or modern, is
attacked from two very different points of view, by those who look
upon it as the antithesis of 'the simple Gospel,' and by those who
approach it from the side of speculative thought. Theology claims to
be a divine science. Religious people attack it because it is a
science; philosophers because it claims to be divine. To the former,
religion expressed in rational terms ceases to be religion; to the
latter, that science is no science which claims for itself unique
conditions. Yet S. Paul seems to recognise both the necessity and the
uniqueness of theology when he says to the Greeks of Corinth, 'We
received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God,
that we might know the things that are freely given us by God.'

It is the relation of Christian theology to philosophy and science
with which we are specially concerned. But it is impossible to pass
by the objection to theology which comes as it were _ab intra_ from
the side of religion. For if it is valid, then Christianity may as
well give up at once any idea of being the religion of man. Yet people
say, 'Why have a theology? Human reason cannot search out "the deep
things of God;" it will only put new difficulties in a brother's way;
why not rest content with the words of Holy Scripture, with simple
truths like "God is love," and simple duties like "Love one another,"
and leave theology alone?' Now without denying what George Eliot calls
'the right of the individual to general haziness,' or asserting that
every Christian must be a theologian, we may surely say that
Christianity is bound to have a theology. And even individual
Christians, if they ever grow into the manhood of reason, must have a
theology, or cease to be religious. The protest against theology from
the side of religion looks modest and charitable enough till we
remember that religious haziness is generally, if not always, the
outcome of moral laziness; that it implies the neglect of a duty and
the neglect of a gift;--the duty of realizing to the reason the
revelation of Christ, and the gift of the Spirit of Truth to enable us
to do it. More than this, the protest against theology in the
interests of religion is irrational and suicidal. To tell a thinking
man that he need not interpret to his reason what religion tells him
of God, is like saying to him, 'Be religious if you will, but you need
not let your religion influence your conduct.' If Christianity had
been content to be a moral religion, if it had abandoned its claim to
rationality and had left Greek speculation alone, it must have
accepted either the Gnostic division of territory, or recognised an
internecine conflict between religion and philosophy. And it did
neither; but, under the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, Christian
theology arose and claimed the reason of the ancient world.

Thus as the religion of the Old Testament claims morality for God, so
Christianity goes further and claims to hold the key to the
intellectual problems of the world. So far as the nature of God is
concerned, Christianity met the intellectual difficulties of the first
centuries by the _Doctrine of the Trinity_.

From time to time people make the discovery that the doctrine of the
Trinity is older than Christianity. If the discoverer is a Christian
apologist, he usually explains that God has given anticipatory
revelations to men of old, and points out how they fall short of the
revelation of Christianity. If he is an opponent of Christianity, he
triumphantly claims to have unmasked the doctrine and tracked it down
to a purely natural origin. 'People think,' says Hegel, 'that by
pronouncing a doctrine to be Neo-Platonic, they have _ipso facto_
banished it from Christianity[109].' Men have found the doctrine, or
something like it, not only in the Old Testament but in Plato and
Neo-Platonism, and among the Ophite Gnostics, in the Chinese
Tao-Té-Ching and the 'Three Holy Ones' of Bouddhism, in the Tri-mûrti
of Hinduism and elsewhere. Why not? Revelation never advances for
itself the claim which its apologists sometimes make for it, the claim
to be something absolutely new. A truth revealed by God is never a
truth out of relation with previous thought. He leads men to feel
their moral and intellectual needs before He satisfies either. There
was a preparation for Hebrew monotheism, as there was a preparation
for the Gospel of Christ. There was an intellectual preparation for
the doctrine of the Trinity, as there was a moral preparation for the
doctrine of the Incarnation. If the Christian doctrine of the
Incarnation is distinguished from the _avatars_ of Hinduism, and the
incarnations of Thibetan Lamaism, by its regenerative moral force, the
Christian doctrine of the Trinity is no less distinguished from the
pseudo-trinities of Neo-Platonism and its modern developments by the
fact that for eighteen centuries it has been the safeguard of a pure
Monotheism against everything which menaces the life of religion.

But Christian theology is not 'a philosophy without assumptions.' It
does not attempt to prove _sola ratione_ the doctrine of the Trinity,
but to shew how that which reason demands is met and satisfied by the
Christian doctrine of God. Starting with the inheritance of faith, the
belief in the Divinity of Christ, and trusting in the guidance of the
Spirit of Truth, it throws itself boldly into the rational problem,
fights its way through every form of Unitarianism, and interprets its
faith to itself and to the world at large in the doctrine of the
Triune God. Its charter is the formula of Baptism, where the
'treasures of immediate faith are gathered up into a sentence, though
not yet formulated into a doctrine[110].'

To the Greek mind two things had become clear before Christianity came
into the world, and it would be easy to trace the steps by which the
conclusions were reached. First, Reason, as relation-giving, seeks for
unity in the manifoldness of which it is conscious, and will be
satisfied with nothing less. But Eleaticism had convincingly proved
that an abstract unity can explain nothing. Quite apart from questions
of religion and morals, the Eleatic unity was metaphysically a
failure. Plato had seen this, and yet the 'dead hand' of Eleaticism
rested on Platonism, and the dialogue _Parmenides_ shewed how
powerless the Doctrine of Ideas was to evade the difficulty. Thus the
Greeks more than 2000 years ago had realized, what is nowadays
proclaimed, as if it were a new discovery, that an absolute unit is
unthinkable, because, as Plato puts it in the _Philebus_, the union of
the one and the many is 'an everlasting quality in thought itself
which never grows old in us.' The Greeks, like the Jews, had thus had
their 'schoolmaster to bring them to Christ.' They had not solved, but
they had felt, the rational difficulty; as the Jews had felt, but had
not overcome, except through the Messianic hope, the separation of man
from God. But as the Trinitarian doctrine took shape, Christian
teachers realized how the Christian, as opposed to the Jewish, idea of
God, not only held the truth of the Divine Unity as against all
polytheistic religions, but claimed reason on its side against all
Unitarian theories. They did not, however, argue that it was true
because it satisfied reason, but that it satisfied reason because it
was true.

They started, indeed, not with a metaphysical problem to be solved,
but with a historical fact to proclaim, the fact of the Resurrection,
and a doctrinal truth to maintain, the Divinity of Him who rose. And
starting from that basis of fact revealed in Christ, they found
themselves in possession of an answer to difficulties which at first
they had not felt, and thus their belief was justified and verified in
the speculative region.

The truth for which they contended, which was enshrined in their
sacred writings, was that 'the Father is God, the Son is God, and the
Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God.' But
the Fathers do not treat this doctrine merely as a revealed mystery,
still less as something which complicates the simple teaching of
Monotheism, but as the condition of rationally holding the Unity of
God. 'The Unity which derives the Trinity out of its own self,' says
Tertullian, 'so far from being destroyed, is actually supported by
it[111].' 'We cannot otherwise think of One God,' says Hippolytus,
'but by truly believing in Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost[112].' 'The
supreme and only God,' says Lactantius, 'cannot be worshipped except
through the Son. He who thinks that he worships the Father only, in
that he does not worship the Son also, does not worship the
Father[113]. 'Without the Son the Father is not,' says Clement of
Alexandria, 'for in that He is a Father He is the Father of the Son,
and the Son is the true teacher about the Father[114].' So Origen
argues,--If God had ever existed alone in simple unity and solitary
grandeur, apart from some object upon which from all eternity to pour
forth His love, He could not have been always God. His love, His
Fatherhood, His very omnipotence would have been added in time, and
there would then have been a time when He was imperfect. 'The
Fatherhood of God must be coeval with His omnipotence; for it is
through the Son that the Father is Almighty[115].' This was the line
of argument afterwards developed by S. Athanasius when he contended
against the Arians that the Son was the reality or truth[116] of the
Father, without whom the Father could not exist; and by S. Augustine,
when he argues that love implies one who loves and one who is loved,
and love to bind them together[117]. Even one so unphilosophically
minded as Irenaeus[118], cannot but see in the Christian doctrine of
the relation of the Father and the Son, the solution of the difficulty
about the infinity of God: 'Immensus Pater in Filio mensuratus;
mensura Patris Filius.' While philosophy with increasing hopelessness
was asking, How can we have a real unity which shall be not a barren
and dead unity, but shall include differences? Christianity, with its
doctrine of God, was arguing that that which was an unsolved
contradiction for non-Christian thought, was a necessary corollary of
the Christian Faith[119].

The other truth which Greek thought had realized was the immanence of
reason in nature and in man. When Anaxagoras first declared that the
universe was the work of intelligence, we are told that he seemed
'like a sober man amongst random talkers.' But both Plato and
Aristotle accuse him of losing the truth which he had gained because
he made intelligence appear only on occasions in the world, dragged
in, like a stage-god, when naturalistic explanations failed[120]. The
conception of creation out of nothing was of course unknown to
Anaxagoras. Intelligence is only the arranger of materials already
given in a chaotic condition. With Aristotle too it is reason which
makes everything what it is. But the reason is in things, not outside
them. Nature is rational from end to end. In spite of failures and
mistakes, due to her materials, nature does the best she can and
always aims at a good end[121]. She works like an artist with an ideal
in view[122]. Only there is this marked difference,--Nature has the
principle of growth within herself, while the artist is external to
his materials[123]. Here we have a clear and consistent statement of
the doctrine of immanent reason as against the Anaxagorean doctrine of
a transcendent intelligence. If we translate both into the theological
language of our own day, we should call the latter the deistic, the
former the pantheistic, view; or, adopting a distinction of supreme
importance in the history of science, we might say that we have here,
face to face, the mechanical and the organic view of nature. Both were
teleological, but to the one, reason was an extra-mundane cause, to
the other, an internal principle. It was the contrast between external
and inner design, as we know it in Kant and Hegel; between the
teleology of Paley and the 'wider teleology' of Darwin and Huxley and
Fiske; between the transcendent and immanent views of God, when so
held as to be mutually exclusive.

It is these two one-sided views which the Christian doctrine of God
brings together. Religion demands as the very condition of its
existence a God who transcends the universe; philosophy as imperiously
requires His immanence in nature. If either Religion denies God's
immanence, or Philosophy denies that He transcends the universe, there
is an absolute antagonism between the two, which can only be ended by
the abandonment of one or the other. But what we find is that though
Philosophy (meaning by that the exercise of the speculative reason in
abstraction from morals and religion) the more fully it realizes the
immanence of God, the more it tends to deny the transcendence,
religion not only has no quarrel with the doctrine of immanence, but
the higher the religion the more unreservedly it asserts this
immanence as a truth dear to religion itself. The religious equivalent
for 'immanence' is 'omnipresence,' and the omnipresence of God is a
corollary of a true monotheism. As long as any remains of dualism
exist, there is a region, however small, impervious to the Divine
power. But the Old Testament doctrine of creation, by excluding
dualism, implies from the first, if it does not teach, the
omnipresence of God. For the omnipotence of God underlies the doctrine
of creation, and omnipotence involves omnipresence. Hence we find the
Psalmists and Prophets ascribing natural processes immediately to God.
They know nothing of second causes. The main outlines of natural
science, the facts of generation and growth, are familiar enough to
them, yet every fact is ascribed immediately to the action of God. He
makes the grass to grow upon the mountains; He fashions the child in
the womb; He feeds the young ravens; He provides fodder for the
cattle; He gives to all their meat in due season; when He lets His
breath go forth they are made; when He takes away their breath they
die and return to dust.

This doctrine of the omnipresence of God, as conceived by religion,
had however yet to be fused with the philosophical doctrine of
immanence. And here again the fusion was effected by the Christian
doctrine of God, as Trinity in Unity. The earlier Apologists concern
themselves first with the vindication of the Divine attributes. God's
separateness from the world as against Greek Pantheism, His
omnipresence in it as against a Judaising deism. But the union of
God's transcendence with His immanence, and with it the fusion of the
religious with the philosophic idea of God, is only consciously
completed by the Doctrine of the Trinity[124]. The dying words of
Plotinus, expressing as they did the problem of his life, are said to
have been,--'I am striving to bring the God which is within into
harmony with the God which is in the universe.' And the unsolved
problem of Neo-Platonism, which is also the unsolved problem of
non-Christian philosophy in our day, is met by the Christian doctrine
of God. All and more than all that philosophy and science can demand,
as to the immanence of reason in the universe, and the rational
coherence of all its parts, is included in the Christian teaching:
nothing which religion requires as to God's separateness from the
world, which He has made, is left unsatisfied. The old familiar Greek
term ΛΟΓΟΣ which, from the days of Heracleitus, had meant to the
Greek the rational unity and balance of the world, is taken up by
S. John, by S. Clement, by S. Athanasius, and given a meaning which
those who started from the Philonian position never reached. It is the
personal Word, God of God, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is one
in the Holy Spirit with the Father. 'The Word was God.' 'By Him all
things were made.' 'He the All-powerful, All-holy Word of the Father
spreads His power over all things everywhere, enlightening things seen
and unseen, holding and binding all together in Himself. Nothing is
left empty of His presence, but to all things and through all,
severally and collectively, He is the giver and sustainer of life....
He, the Wisdom of God, holds the universe like a lute, and keeps all
things in earth and air and heaven in tune together. He it is Who
binding all with each, and ordering all things by His will and
pleasure, produces the perfect unity of nature, and the harmonious
reign of law. While He abides unmoved for ever with the Father, He yet
moves all things by His own appointment according to the Father's
will[125].' The unity of nature is, thus, no longer the abstract
motionless simplicity of Being, which had been so powerless to explain
the metaphysical problems of Greece. It is the living Omnipresent
Word, coeternal and consubstantial with the Father, and the
philosophical truth becomes an integral part of that Christian
doctrine of God, which, while it safeguarded religion and satisfied
reason, had won its first and greatest victories in the field of

VII. The Christian doctrine of God triumphed over heathen morality and
heathen speculation neither by unreasoning protest nor by unreal
compromise, but by taking up into itself all that was highest and
truest in both. Why then is this Christian idea of God challenged in
our day? Have we outgrown the Christian idea of God, so that it cannot
claim and absorb the new truths of our scientific age? If not, with
the lessons of the past in our mind, we may confidently ask,--What
fuller unfolding of the revelation of Himself has God in store for us,
to be won, as in the past, through struggle and seeming antagonism?

The fact that the Christian Theology is now openly challenged by
reason is obvious enough. It almost seems as if, in our intellectual
life, we were passing through a transition analogous to that which, in
the moral region, issued in the Reformation. Even amongst those who
believe that Christian morality is true, there are to be found those
who have convinced themselves that we have intellectually outgrown the
Christian Faith. 'The only God,' we have been told lately[126], 'whom
Western Europeans, with a Christian ancestry of a thousand years
behind them, can worship, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; or
rather, of S. Paul, S. Augustine and S. Bernard, and of the
innumerable "blessed saints," canonized or not, who peopled the ages
of Faith. No one wants, no one can care for, an abstract God, an
Unknowable, an Absolute, with whom we stand in no human or
intelligible relation.' 'God, as God,' says Feuerbach[127], 'the
infinite, universal, non-anthropomorphic being of the understanding,
has no more significance in religion than a fundamental general
principle has for a special science; it is merely the ultimate point
of support, as it were, the mathematical point of religion.' Yet it is
assumed that this is all that remains to us, and we are left in the
following dilemma,--'An anthropomorphic God is the only God whom men
can worship, and also the God whom modern thought finds it
increasingly difficult to believe in[128].'

In such a state of things it is natural that men should turn to
pantheism as a sort of middle term between religion and philosophy,
and even claim, for the unity of the world, the venerable name and
associations of God. But the remarkable thing is that in the
numberless attempts to attack, or defend, or find a substitute for
Theism, the Christian, or Trinitarian, teaching about God rarely
appears upon the scene. Devout Christians have come to think of the
doctrine of the Trinity, if not exactly as a distinct revelation, yet
as a doctrine necessary for holding the divinity of Christ, without
sacrificing the unity of God. Ordinary people take it for granted that
Trinitarianism is a sort of extra demand made on Christian faith, and
that the battle must really be fought out on the Unitarian basis. If
Unitarian theism can be defended, it will then be possible to go
farther and accept the doctrine of the Trinity. It is natural that
when Christians take this ground, those who have ceased to be
Christian suppose that, though Christianity is no longer tenable, they
may still cling to 'Theism,' and even perhaps, under cover of that
nebulous term, make an alliance not only with Jews and Mahommedans,
but with at least the more religious representatives of pantheism. It
is only our languid interest in speculation or a philistine dislike of
metaphysics, that makes such an unintelligent view possible.
Unitarianism said its last word in the pre-Christian and early
Christian period, and it failed, as it fails now, to save religion
except at the cost of reason. So far from the doctrine of the Trinity
being, in Mr. Gladstone's unfortunate phrase, 'the scaffolding of a
purer theism,' non-Christian monotheism was the 'scaffolding' through
which already the outlines of the future building might be seen. For
the modern world, the Christian doctrine of God remains as the only
safeguard in reason for a permanent theistic belief[129].

It is not difficult to see how it is that this truth is not more
generally recognised. The doctrine of the Trinity, by which the
Christian idea of God absorbed Greek speculation into itself, had but
little _point d'appui_ in the unmetaphysical western world. It bore
the _imprimatur_ of the Church; it was easily deducible from the words
of Holy Scripture; it was seen to be essential to the holding of the
divinity of Christ. But men forgot that the doctrine was 'addressed to
the reason[130];' and so its metaphysical meaning and value were
gradually lost sight of. In the days of the mediaeval Papacy,
ecclesiastical were more effective than metaphysical weapons, and
Scholasticism knew so much about the deepest mysteries of God, that it
almost provoked an agnostic reaction, in the interests of reverence
and intellectual modesty. With the Reformation came the appeal to the
letter of Holy Scripture, and the age of biblical, as contrasted with
scientific, theology. The only scientific theology of the Reformation
period was the awful and immoral system of John Calvin, rigorously
deduced from a one-sided truth.

Then came the age of physical science. The break up of the mediaeval
system of thought and life resulted in an atomism, which, if it had
been more perfectly consistent with itself, would have been fatal
alike to knowledge and society. Translated into science it appeared as
mechanism in the Baconian and Cartesian physics: translated into
politics it appeared as rampant individualism, though combined by
Hobbes with Stuart absolutism. Its theory of knowledge was a crude
empiricism; its theology unrelieved deism. God was 'throned in
magnificent inactivity in a remote corner of the universe,' and a
machinery of 'second causes' had practically taken His place. It was
even doubted, in the deistic age, whether God's delegation of His
power was not so absolute as to make it impossible for Him to
'interfere' with the laws of nature. The question of miracles became
the burning question of the day, and the very existence of God was
staked on His power to interrupt or override the laws of the universe.
Meanwhile His immanence in nature, the 'higher pantheism,' which is a
truth essential to true religion, as it is to true philosophy, fell
into the background.

Slowly but surely that theory of the world has been undermined. The
one absolutely impossible conception of God, in the present day, is
that which represents Him as an occasional Visitor. Science had pushed
the deist's God farther and farther away, and at the moment when it
seemed as if He would be thrust out altogether, Darwinism appeared,
and, under the disguise of a foe, did the work of a friend. It has
conferred upon philosophy and religion an inestimable benefit, by
shewing us that we must choose between two alternatives. Either God is
everywhere present in nature, or He is nowhere. He cannot be here and
not there. He cannot delegate His power to demigods called 'second
causes[131].' In nature everything must be His work or nothing. We
must frankly return to the Christian view of direct Divine agency, the
immanence of Divine power in nature from end to end, the belief in a
God in Whom not only we, but all things have their being, or we must
banish Him altogether. It seems as if, in the providence of God, the
mission of modern science was to bring home to our unmetaphysical ways
of thinking the great truth of the Divine immanence in creation, which
is not less essential to the Christian idea of God than to a
philosophical view of nature. And it comes to us almost like a new
truth, which we cannot at once fit it in with the old.

Yet the conviction that the Divine immanence must be for our age, as
for the Athanasian age, the meeting point of the religious and
philosophic view of God is shewing itself in the most thoughtful minds
on both sides. Our modes of thought are becoming increasingly Greek,
and the flood, which in our day is surging up against the traditional
Christian view of God, is prevailingly pantheistic in tone. The
pantheism is not less pronounced because it comes as the last word of
a science of nature, for the wall which once separated physics from
metaphysics has given way, and positivism, when it is not the
paralysis of reason, is but a temporary resting-place, preparatory to
a new departure. We are not surprised then, that one who, like
Professor Fiske, holds that 'the infinite and eternal Power that is
manifested in every pulsation of the universe is none other than the
living God,' and who vindicates the belief in a final cause because he
cannot believe that 'the Sustainer of the universe will put us to
permanent intellectual confusion,' should instinctively feel his
kinship with Athanasianism, and vigorously contend against the view
that any part of the universe is 'Godless[132].'

Unfortunately, however, the rediscovery of the truth of God's
immanence in nature, coming, as it has done, from the side of a
scientific theory, which was violently assailed by the official
guardians of the Faith, has resulted for many in the throwing aside of
the counter and conditioning truth, which saves religion from
pantheism. It seemed as if traditional Christianity were bound up with
the view that God is wholly separate from the world and not immanent
in it. And Professor Fiske has been misled[133] into the belief that
S. Augustine is responsible for that false view. It is almost
incredible to anyone, who has read any of S. Augustine's writings,
that, according to this view, he has to play the _rôle_ of the
unintelligent and unphilosophical deist, who thinks of God as 'a
crudely anthropomorphic Being, far removed from the universe and
accessible only through the mediating offices of an organized
church[134].' And not only is S. Augustine represented as a deist, but
S. Athanasius is made a pantheist, and the supposed conflict between
science and religion is, we are told, really the conflict between
Athanasian and Augustinian ideas of God[135]. Yet, as a matter of
fact, S. Athanasius and S. Augustine both alike held the truths which
deism and pantheism exaggerate into the destruction of religion. If
S. Athanasius says, 'The Word of God is not contained by anything, but
Himself contains all things.... He was in everything and was outside
all beings, and was at rest in the Father alone[136]:' S. Augustine
says, 'The same God is wholly everywhere, contained by no space, bound
by no bonds, divisible into no parts, mutable in no part of His being,
filling heaven and earth by the presence of His power. Though nothing
can exist without Him, yet nothing is what He is[137].'

The Christian doctrine of God, in Athanasian days, triumphed where
Greek philosophy failed. It accepted the challenge of Greek thought,
it recognised the demands of the speculative reason, and found in
itself the answer which, before the collision with Hellenism, it
unconsciously possessed. It is challenged again by the metaphysics of
our day. We may be wrong to speculate at all on the nature of God, but
it is not less true now than in the first centuries of Christianity,
that, for those who do speculate, a Unitarian, or Arian, or Sabellian
theory is as impossible as polytheism. If God is to be Personal, as
religion requires, metaphysics demands still a distinction in the
Unity which unitarianism is compelled to deny. But, further, the
Christian doctrine of God is challenged by the science of nature.
Science, imperiously and with increasing confidence, demands a unity
in nature which shall be not external but immanent, giving rationality
and coherence to all that is, and justifying the belief in the
universal reign of law. But this immanence of God in nature unitarian
theism cannot give, save at the price of losing itself in pantheism.
Deistic it might be, as it was in the last century; deistic it can be
no longer, unless it defiantly rejects the truth which science is
giving us, and the claims which the scientific reason makes.

It remains then for Christianity to claim the new truth and meet the
new demands by a fearless reassertion of its doctrine of God. It has
to bring forth out of its treasury things new and old,--the old almost
forgotten truth of the immanence of the Word, the belief in God as
'creation's secret force,' illuminated and confirmed as that is by the
advance of science, till it comes to us with all the power of a new
discovery. Slowly and under the shock of controversy Christianity is
recovering its buried truths, and realizing the greatness of its
rational heritage. It teaches still that God is the eternally existent
One, the Being on Whom we depend, and in Whom we live, the source of
all reality and the goal to which creation moves, the Object alike of
religion and philosophy, the eternal Energy of the natural world, and
the immanent reason of the universe. It teaches that He is the
eternally Righteous One, and therefore the Judge of all, irrevocably
on the side of right, leading the world by a progressive preparation
for the revelation of Himself as Infinite Love in the Incarnation of
the Word, stimulating those desires which He alone can satisfy, the
yearning of the heart for love, of the moral nature for righteousness,
of the speculative reason for truth. When men had wearied themselves
in the search for a remedy for that which separates men from God, the
revelation is given of Him Who 'shall save His people from their
sins.' And when reason had wandered long, seeking for that which
should be Real and yet One, a God Who should satisfy alike the demands
of religion and reason, the doctrine of the Trinity is unfolded. It
was the gradual revelation of God answering to the growing needs and
capacity of man.

VIII. It follows from the point of view adopted in the foregoing essay
that there can be no proofs, in the strict sense of the word, of the
existence of God. Reason has for its subject-matter, the problem of
essence, not of existence, the question, 'What is God?' not 'Is there
a God? Proof can only mean verification _à posteriori_ of a truth
already held. We approach the problem with an unreasoned consciousness
of dependence on a Being or Beings who are to us invisible. This we
interpret crudely, or leave uninterpreted. The belief may express
itself in ancestor-worship, or nature-worship, or what not. But as our
moral and intellectual nature develops, its light is turned back upon
this primitive undefined belief. Conscience demands that God shall be
moral, and with the belief that He is, there comes confidence and
trust, deepening into faith and hope and love: the speculative reason
demands that God shall be One, the immanent unity of all that is. And
the doctrine of God, which is best able to satisfy each and all of
these demands, persists as the permanent truth of religion. But
neither conscience nor the speculative reason can demonstrate[138]
God's existence. And it is always possible for men to carry their
distrust of that which is instinctive so far as to assume that it is
always false because they have found that it is not always true.
Reason cannot prove existence. The so-called proof, _a contingentia_
(which underlies H. Spencer's argument for the existence of the
Unknowable), is an appeal to that very consciousness of dependence
which some people consider a weakness, and a thing to educate
themselves out of. The appeal to the _consensus gentium_ can establish
only the generality, not the strict universality, of religion. It will
always be possible to find exceptions, real or apparent, to the
general rule; while as for what is known as the _ontological_
argument, which on principles of reason would justify the instinctive
belief, it requires a metaphysical training to understand it or at
least to feel its force. There remain, however, the two great
arguments from conscience and from nature, which are so frequently
discussed in the present day.

With regard to the first, there is no doubt that the belief in God
will in any age find its strongest corroboration in the conscience.
Even in the mind of a Felix the ideas of 'righteousness, temperance,
and judgment to come' had a strange and terrifying coherence. There is
that much of truth in the statement that religion is founded in
'fear.' But the argument from conscience has been weakened by being
overstated. Conscience, as we know it, has won, not indeed its
existence, but the delicacy of its moral touch, and the strength of
its 'categorical imperative,' from the assured belief in a real
relationship between man and a holy and loving God. When that belief
has ceased to exist, conscience still survives, and it is possible and
justifiable to appeal to it as a fact which can be explained by
religion, but without religion must be explained away. But it is a
mistake to suppose that we can take the untrained and undeveloped
conscience, and argue direct from it to a righteous God. The _lumen
naturale_, in its lowest development, gives but a faint and flickering
gleam. We cannot argue back from it to a God of love, or even a God of
righteousness, unless we interpret it in the fuller light of the
conscience which has been trained and perfected under the growing
influence of the belief. The idea of 'duty,' which is so hard to
explain on utilitarian grounds, is not to be found, as we know it, in
Greek ethics. For it implies a fusion of morals with religion, as we
can trace it in the history of Israel, and the teaching of Christian
ethics. If it is impossible to explain duty as the result of
association between the ideas of public and private advantage, it is
no less impossible to make it an independent premise for a conclusion
which is presupposed in it.

The argument from nature is closely parallel. It is hard for those,
whose lives have been moulded on the belief in God, the Maker of
heaven and earth, to understand the inconclusiveness of the argument
to those who have abandoned that belief, and start, as it were, from
outside. Consequently it has been made to bear more than it can carry.
No doubt the evolution which was at first supposed to have destroyed
teleology is found to be more saturated with teleology than the view
which it superseded. And Christianity can take up the new as it did
the old, and find in it a confirmation of its own belief. But it is a
confirmation not a proof, and taken by itself is incomplete. It is a
great gain to have eliminated chance, to find science declaring that
there must be a reason for everything, even when it cannot hazard a
conjecture as to what the reason is. But apart from the belief of our
moral nature, that in the long run everything must make for
righteousness, that the world must be moral as well as rational, and
that the dramatic tendency in the evolution of the whole would be
irrational if it had not a moral goal, the science of nature is
powerless to carry us on to a Personal God. But the strength of a rope
is greater than the strength of its separate strands. The arguments
for the existence of God are, it has been said, 'sufficient not
resistless, convincing not compelling[139].' We can never demonstrate
the existence of God either from conscience or from nature. But our
belief in Him is attested and confirmed by both.

In this matter, the belief in God stands on the same level with the
belief in objective reality. Both have been explained away by
philosophers. Neither can be proved but by a circular argument. Both
persist in the consciousness of mankind. Both have been purified and
rationalized by the growth of knowledge. But the moment reason
attempts to start without assumptions, and claims exclusive
sovereignty over man, a paralysis of thought results. There have been,
before now, philosophers who professed to begin at the beginning, and
accept nothing till it was proved, and the result was a pure
Pyrrhonism. They could not prove the existence of an external world.
They believed it, even if they did not, like Hume, exult in the fact
that belief triumphed over demonstration, but there was no sure ground
for believing that the world was not a mere cerebral phenomenon,
except the curiously rational coherence of its visions. Even Prof.
Huxley, in his ultra-sceptical moods, admits this. He says[140] that
'for any demonstration that can be given to the contrary effect, the
"collection of perceptions," which makes up our consciousness, may be
an orderly phantasmagoria generated by the Ego, unfolding its
successive scenes on the background of the abyss of nothingness.' But
no one, least of all a man of science, believes this to be so. He
takes reality for granted, and only tries to interpret it aright, i.e.
in such a way as to make a rational unity of the facts perceived. Tell
a scientific specialist,--'I am not going to let you beg the question.
You must first prove that nature exists, and then I will hear about
the science of nature,' and he will say 'That is metaphysics,' which
to him is probably a synonym for an intellectual waste of time. 'Look
at nature,' he will say, 'what more do you want? If nature had been
merely a phantasmagoria there would have been no science of nature. Of
course you must make your "act of faith[141]." You must believe not
only that nature exists, but that it is a cosmos which can be
interpreted, if you can only find the key. The proof that nature is
interpretable is that we have, at least in part, been able to
interpret her. There were people in John Locke's day who professed to
doubt their own existence, and he was content to answer them according
to their folly. "If anyone," he says[142], "pretends to be so
sceptical as to deny his own existence (for really to doubt of it is
manifestly impossible) let him, for me, enjoy his beloved happiness of
being nothing, until hunger, or some other pain, convince him to the
contrary."' We do not call a scientific man unreasonable if he answers
thus, though he is justifying his premisses by his conclusion. We know
that he that would study nature must believe that it is, and that it
is a rational whole which reason can interpret. And 'he that cometh to
God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of such as
diligently seek Him.' We feel our kinship with both before the
instinctive consciousness is justified by reason.

And there is a remarkable parallelism in the process of verification.
The counterpart of the theological belief in the unity and
omnipresence of God is the scientific belief in the unity of nature
and the reign of law. But that belief, though implicit in the simplest
operation of reason[143], is not consciously attained till late in the
history of science. And even when it is reached, it is not at once
grasped in all its wealth and fulness. It is thought of as mere
uniformity, a dull mechanical repetition of events, which is powerless
to explain or include the rich variety of nature and the phenomena of
life and growth. It is to meet this difficulty that J. S. Mill naively
assures us that 'the course of nature is not only uniform, it is also
infinitely various[144].' But soon the truth is grasped, that the
reign of law is a unity which is higher than mere uniformity, because
it is living and not dead, and includes and transcends difference. It
is the analogue in science to that higher and fuller view of God in
which He is revealed as Trinity in Unity.

But as these parallel processes of verification go on, the truth is
forced upon the world that religion and philosophy must either be in
internecine conflict, or recognise the oneness of their Object. 'We
and the philosophers,' says S. Clement, 'know the same God, but not in
the same way[145].' Philosophy and religion have both been enriched by
wider knowledge, and as their knowledge has become deeper and fuller,
the adjustment of their claims has become more imperatively necessary.
Few in our day would willingly abandon either, or deliberately
sacrifice one to the other. Many would be ready to assent to the words
of a Christian Father; 'when philosophy and the worship of the gods
are so widely separated, that the professors of wisdom cannot bring us
near to the gods, and the priests of religion cannot give us wisdom;
it is manifest that the one is not true wisdom, and the other is not
true religion. Therefore neither is philosophy able to conceive the
truth, nor is religion able to justify itself. But where philosophy is
joined by an inseparable connection with religion, both must
necessarily be true, because in our religion we ought to be wise, that
is, to know the true Object and mode of worship, and in our wisdom to
worship, that is, to realize in action what we know[146].'

It is sometimes argued,--You have let in more than the thin end of the
wedge. You admit that 'it is the province of reason to judge of the
morality of the Scripture[147].' You profess no antagonism to
historical and literary criticism. Under the criticism of reason,
Fetichism has given way to Polytheism, Polytheism to Monotheism, even
Monotheism has become progressively less anthropomorphic. Why object
to the last step in the process, and cling to the belief in a Personal
God? Simply because it would make the difference between a religion
purified and a religion destroyed. The difference between the 30,000
gods of Hesiod, and the One God of Christianity, is a measurable
difference: the difference between a Personal God and an impersonal
reason is, so far as religion is concerned, infinite. For the
transition from Monotheism to Pantheism is made only by the surrender
of religion, though the term 'theism' may be used to blur the line of
separation, and make the transition easy.

Religion has, before all things, to guard the heritage of truth, the
moral revelation of God in Christ, to 'contend earnestly for the faith
once delivered to the saints,' and to trust to the promised guidance
of the Spirit of Truth. And reason interprets religion to itself, and
by interpreting verifies and confirms. Religion therefore claims as
its own the new light which metaphysics and science are in our day
throwing upon the truth of the immanence of God: it protests only
against those imperfect, because premature, syntheses, which in the
interests of abstract speculation, would destroy religion. It dares to
maintain that 'the Fountain of wisdom and religion alike is God: and
if these two streams shall turn aside from Him, both must assuredly
run dry.' For human nature craves to be both religious and rational.
And the life which is not both is neither.

[59] Fiske, _Idea of God_, p. 139, quoting H. Spencer.

[60] S. Clem. Alex. _Strom._ I. v.

[61] Cf. Herbert Spencer, _First Principles_, Pt. I.

[62] See this criticism excellently stated in Caird's _Phil. of
Religion_, pp. 32, etc.

[63] _Natural Religion_, iii. p. 45, quoted by Martineau.

[64] Ibid., iv. p. 74.

[65] Frederic Harrison's _New Year's Address_, 1884.

[66] _A Study of Religion_, vol. i. pp. 11, 12.

[67] Ibid., p. 15.

[68] _Old Faith and New_, § 41.

[69] 'Hoc vinculo pietatis obstricti Deo et religati sumus, unde ipsa
religio nomen accepit, non ut Cicero interpretatus est, a relegendo,'
Lact. _Inst._ iv. 28.

[70] _De verâ religione_, sub fin.

[71] _Sum. Theol._ 2. 2. 81. Art. 1.

[72] _Idea of God_, p. 117.

[73] See Seth's _Hegelianism and Personality_, pp. 223, 224, one or
two sentences from which are, almost verbatim, transferred to the

[74] Justin Martyr (_Exhort. ad Graec._, ch. xxxiv) explains the
anthropomorphisms of polytheism as an inversion of the truth that man
is in the image of God.

[75] Hume, _Essays_, II. 425.

[76] H. Spencer, _Eccl. Inst._, p. 1.

[77] _Psych._ vol. ii. §§ 388-391.

[78] Caird, _Philosophy of Religion_, p. 162.

[79] Ritter and Preller, _Hist. Phil. Graec._, 7th ed. § 82.

[80] Ibid., § 83.

[81] Plat. _Rep._ 377-385.

[82] _Theaet._ 176 C.

[83] H. Spencer, of course, follows Kuenen in assuming a polytheistic
origin of Hebrew monotheism. See Kuenen, _Religion of Israel_, i. 223.

[84] It is strange that Mr. Darwin should have failed to see that this
was the answer to his difficulty. It appeared to him, he tells us
(_Autobiography_, p. 308), 'utterly incredible that if God were now to
make a revelation to the Hindoos, he would permit it to be connected
with the belief in Vishnu, Siva, &c., as Christianity is connected
with the Old Testament.' Incredible, no doubt. But why? For the very
reason which makes it 'incredible' that man should be evolved directly
from a fish, as Anaximander is said to have taught, and not incredible
that he should be evolved, as Darwin teaches, from one of the higher
vertebrates. The very idea of development, whether in species or
religions, implies a law, and order in the development.

[85] S. Athan. _De Incarn._ c. xii.

[86] It is needless to say that this section is largely indebted to
Dean Church's _Discipline of the Christian Character_.

[87] _Edinb. Rev._, Apr. 1888, p. 512.

[88] _Discipline of the Christian Character_, p. 85.

[89] Ibid., p. 87.

[90] Hegel, _Phil. of Hist._, p. 247, Eng. Tr.

[91] _Cont. Rev._, Oct. 1878, p. 645.

[92] Ranke, _Popes_, i. 395.

[93] Dollinger, _The Church and the Churches_, p. 239.

[94] _Examination of Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy_, p. 103.

[95] H. Spencer, _Data of Ethics_, pref.

[96] See Ihne's remarks on the separation of morals and religion in
Rome at the time of the Punic wars. 'The religious cravings were not
satisfied, and men were carried either to the schools of Greek
Philosophy or to the grossest and meanest superstition.' _Hist. of
Rome_, vol. ii. pp. 477, 478.

[97] _History of Religions_, p. 22.

[98] Edersheim, _Life and Times_, i. p. 17.

[99] See Edersheim, i. pp. 31, etc.

[100] Hegel, _Philosophy of History_, p. 343, Eng. Tr.

[101] 2 S. Pet. ii. 1.

[102] 1 Tim. vi. 20.

[103] 1 Cor. viii. 6.

[104] 1 Cor. iii. 19.

[105] Euseb. iii. 28.

[106] 1 Cor. ii. 12.

[107] Newman's _Arians_, ch. ii. § 1.

[108] _Natural Truth of Christianity_, §§ 1, 2.

[109] _Phil. of Hist._, p. 343, Eng. Tr.

[110] Dorner. _Hist. of Doct._ i. pp. 362, etc.

[111] _Adv. Prax._ ch. iii.

[112] _Cont. Noet._ § xiv.

[113] _Inst._ iv. c. 29.

[114] _Strom._ v. 1.

[115] _De Princ._ I. ii. § 10.

[116] _Adv. Arianos_ i. § 20.

[117] _De Trin._ viii. 10 and ix. 2.

[118] Iren. _Adv. Haer._ IV. iv. I. 2.

[119] Cf. pp. 333-336.

[120] Plat. _Phaed._ 98 B. Arist. _Met._

[121] p. 455ᵇ17. The references are to the Berlin edition.

[122] p. 199ᵃ8, 18: 415ᵇ17: 731ᵃ24.

[123] p. 1070ᵃ7, 1033ᵇ8, 753ᵃ3.

[124] Dorner, _Hist. of Doct._ i. p. 366.

[125] S. Athan. _Contra Gentes_, § 42.

[126] Morison's _Service of Man_, p. 48.

[127] Quoted by W. S. Lilly, _Nineteenth Century_, Aug. 1888, p. 292.

[128] Morison, _Service of Man_, p. 49.

[129] It is far from our purpose to undervalue the work of Dr.
Martineau. No more earnest and vigorous, and so far as it goes, no
truer defence of religion has been published in our day. But his
strength lies mainly in his protest against what destroys religion,
and in his uncompromising assertion of what religion, as a condition
of its existence, demands. He has done little to shew us how these
demands can be rationally satisfied, how the personal God, which
religion demands, is even an intelligible idea. He wavers between a
view which logically developed must result in pantheism, and a view
implying a distinction in the Divine nature, which carries him far in
the Trinitarian direction. More often he contents himself with leaving
the speculative question alone, or storming the rational position by
the forces of religion and morals. See _A Study of Religion_, vol. ii.
p. 145 compared with p. 192.

[130] Newman's _Arians_, p. 84.

[131] Cf. Fiske, _Idea of God_, pp. 103, 104. Martineau, _A Study of
Religion_, ii. 172, 173.

[132] _Idea of God_, cf. § v. and pp. 105-110.

[133] Apparently by Prof. Allen's _Continuity of Christian Thought_.

[134] Fiske, _Idea of God_, p. 94.

[135] Ibid., § vii.

[136] _De Incarn._ c. 17.

[137] _De Civ. Dei_, vii. c. xxx; cf. too _De Gen. ad lit._ iv. c. 12;
_Enchir. ad Laur._ c. 27.

[138] S. Thoa. Aq. _Sum. Theol._ I. i. Quaest. 2, says that the
Existence of God is demonstrable, but he explains that he does not
mean strict demonstration, _demonstratio apodeictica_ but
_demonstratio ab effectibus_.

[139] _The Existence of God._ By Rev. R. F. Clarke, S.J., p. 6.

[140] Huxley's _Hume_, p. 81.

[141] 'The one act of faith in the convert to science, is the
confession of the universality of order and of the absolute validity,
in all times and under all circumstances, of the law of causation.
This confession is an act of faith, because, by the nature of the
case, the truth of such propositions is not susceptible of proof.'
Huxley in _Darwin's Life and Letters_, vol. ii. p. 200.

[142] _Essay_ IV. 10. § 2.

[143] Cf. Green's _Works_, vol. ii. p. 284.

[144] _Log._ Bk. III. ch. iii. § 2.

[145] _Strom._ vi. 5.

[146] Lact. _Institt._ IV. iii.

[147] Butler's _Analogy_, Pt. II. ch. iii. p. 183.




The problem of pain, always prominent in a sensitive age, has been
exceptionally emphasized in the literature of modern pessimism as an
objection to Theism in general, and Christianity in particular. The
existence of pain is urged as incompatible with the belief in a God
who is at once omnipotent and benevolent, that is with Theism in its
ordinary form; while Christianity is further charged with being a
religion of pain, a religion which has increased the sum of actual,
and the expectation of prospective pain, darkening the shadow that
lies upon our race. Suffering is not a subject upon which anything new
can be said. It has long ago been probed, to the utmost limit of our
capacity, and remains a mystery still. But, in face of the adverse use
now made of it, it may be well to bear in mind how much has been said
and is to be said upon the other side.

To begin with, there are two classes of pain, animal and human, which
however intimately they may be connected must, for clearness, be
considered apart. The universality of pain throughout the range of the
animal world, reaching back into the distant ages of geology, and
involved in the very structure of the animal organism, is without
doubt among the most serious problems which the Theist has to face.
But it is a problem in dealing with which emotion is very often
mistaken for logic. J. S. Mill's famous indictment of nature, for
example, is one of the most emotional pieces of rhetoric of which a
professed logician was ever guilty. When a certain class of facts is
urged in objection to our Christian belief, we are entitled to ask how
many of those facts are known, and how many are only imagined. There
is of course a scientific use of the imagination, but it is only
permissible within the bounds of possible, or at least conceivable,
verification. Imaginative conjectures which, from the nature of the
case, will never admit either of verification or disproof are poetry
and not science, and must be treated as such in argument. With all the
changes that have passed over our knowledge, we may still do well to
attend to the caution with which Butler begins his Analogy:--

'One cannot but be greatly sensible how difficult it is to silence
imagination enough to make the voice of reason even distinctly heard;
as we are accustomed from our youth up to indulge that forward
delusive faculty, ever obtruding beyond its sphere; of some assistance
indeed to apprehension, but the author of all error: as we plainly
lose ourselves in gross and crude conceptions of things, taking for
granted that we are acquainted with what indeed we are wholly ignorant

This needs repeating, because much of the popular knowledge of the day
consists in the acceptance of results without examination of the
methods of their attainment; somewhat as, in the countryman's simple
faith, a thing must needs be true because he has seen it in a book.
While the case in point is further confused by the fact that
imagination has an important bearing on all our conduct towards the
lower animals, and cannot, for that purpose, be too emotionally
developed. But it is one thing to err on the safe side in practice,
and another to convert such possible error into argument.

What then do we really know about the suffering of animals? No
reasonable man doubts that they suffer. But the degree and intensity
of their suffering is almost entirely a matter of conjecture. We speak
of, and are affected by the mass of animal suffering; but we must
remember that it is felt distributively. No one animal suffers more
because a million suffer likewise. And what we have to consider is the
amount which an individual animal suffers. We have no knowledge, but
we are entitled to meet conjecture by conjecture. We may fairly
suppose that the animals do not 'look before and after,' and it is
this that gives its sting to human pain. Again, they would seem like
children to give strong indications of slight pain. Further, many
muscular contortions which simulate extreme suffering are believed on
scientific evidence to be due to quite other causes. And then there
are the phenomena of fascination, which may well resemble the
experience of Livingstone in the lion's mouth. While many pains are
prophylactic and directly contribute to the avoidance of danger and
maintenance of life. All these considerations may mitigate our view of
animal suffering. But a stronger argument is to be drawn from our
profound ignorance of the whole question. Animals can perceive colours
invisible to us; they seem to have organs of sensation of whose nature
we know nothing; their instincts are far more numerous and finer than
our own; what compensations may they not have? Again, what are they?
Had they a past? May they not have a future? What is the relation of
their consciousness to the mighty life which pulses within the
universe? May not Eastern speculation about these things be nearer the
truth than Western science? All these questions are in the region of
the unknown, and the unknowable; and in face of them the Theistic
position is simply this. We believe, on complex and cumulative proof,
in an omnipotent and benevolent Creator. That belief is a positive
verdict of our reason, interpreting evidence which we consider
irresistible. And against such a conclusion no presumption of the
imagination, which from the nature of the case cannot possibly be
verified, has any logical validity at all: not to mention that such
presumptions admit of being met by as probable presumptions on the
other side. We decline to arraign our Creator for a deed which we have
not even the means of knowing that He has done.

'All difficulties as to how they (the animals) are to be disposed of
are so apparently and wholly founded in our ignorance that it is
wonderful they should be insisted upon by any but such as are weak
enough to think they are acquainted with the whole system of
things.'... 'What men require is to have all difficulties cleared; and
this is, or at least for anything we know to the contrary it may be,
the same as requiring to comprehend the Divine nature, and the whole
plan of providence from everlasting to everlasting[148].'

But with human suffering the case is different, for here we are in a
measure behind the scenes. We watch the process no longer from the
outside but from within; and though it still remains mysterious, its
mystery is full of meaning. In saying this we make two assumptions;
first, that moral evil is an ultimate fact for us, in our present
state of being, in the sense that it can neither be explained nor
explained away: and, secondly, that character and not pleasure, being,
and not feeling, or to phrase it more generally, the greatest goodness
of the greatest number, is the primary end of ethics. The first of
these assumptions most men are willing to admit, while the few
philosophical attempts to disprove it have conspicuously failed. The
second has the assent of all moralists except the hedonists, and those
who without being aware of it are hedonists in disguise; the
pessimism, for example, which makes so much of pain, being simply
disappointed hedonism. Starting then from these premises, the problem
of practical ethics is the formation of character in the face of moral
evil. And in the solution of this problem pain and sorrow have a place
which no other known agency conceivably could fill.

To begin with its simplest if lowest aspect, pain is a punishment; and
without importing any _a priori_ notions into the question, we find
punishment to be a necessary element in the evolution of character.
Punishment is a complex thing, and the tendency of civilization is to
lay stress upon its corrective rather than its vindictive aspect. But
we must remember that with uncivilized races this cannot be the case;
and that pains and penalties, considered simply as retrospective
vengeance for the past, have been historically, and in some cases
still are, essential to our social development. Indeed, it is a
shallow view that regards vengeance as a survival of savagery.
Vengeance is intimately bound up with our sense of justice, and the
true difference between the savage and the sage is that what the one
eagerly inflicts upon his neighbour, the other would far more
willingly inflict upon himself. Plato expressed this once for all when
he said that the sinner who is punished is happier than the sinner who
escapes scot free. We rightly shrink, as far as possible, from sitting
in judgment on our fellow-men; but we feel none the less that our own
ill deeds demand a penalty, which may vary from bodily suffering to
interior shame, but which in one form or another must be endured
before we can recover our self-respect. And self-respect is a
necessary factor in all moral progress. Punishment, then, considered
as vengeance, is a necessity for the social development of barbarous
races; and though less obviously, quite as really for the personal
progress of the civilized man.

Now, without committing ourselves to the statement that suffering was
introduced into the world by sin, which is not a Christian dogma,
though it is often thought to be so, a vast amount of the suffering in
the world is obviously punishment, and punishment of a very searching
kind. For not only are obvious vices punished with remorse, and
disease, and shame, but ignorance, impatience, carelessness, even
mistakes of judgment are punished too, and that in a degree which we
are apt to consider disproportionate; forgetful that consequences are
God's commentaries, and this apparent disproportion may reflect light
upon the real magnitude of what we often are too ready to consider
trivial things.

But these punishments, it is urged, fall on the innocent as well as
the guilty. And this leads us to another point of view. Pain is not
only punitive. It is also corrective and purgatorial. And this again
is a fact of ordinary experience, quite apart from the further
consideration of why it should be so. Among primitive races the
penalties of law, by the merely mechanical process of forcibly
restraining certain actions, slowly elevate the social tone. And as
men rise in the scale of development and begin to be a law to
themselves, the same process is continued within the individual mind.
The pains and penalties of evil doing, physical and mental, tend to
correct and purify the character; and when we say that men learn
wisdom by experience, we mostly mean by experience of something
painful. Of course, the most obvious form of this correction is that
in which the suffering can be recognised by the sufferer as merited,
because due to his own misdeeds. But apart from such causal
connection, what we call unmerited suffering exercises the same
influence in an even greater measure. Its forces, not being exhausted
in the work of neutralising past evil, are able to expand and expend
themselves in a positive direction, elevating, refining, dignifying
the character to an infinite degree. The men of sorrows are the men of
influence in every walk of life. Martyrdom is the certain road to
success in any cause. Even more than knowledge, pain is power. And all
this because it develops the latent capacities of our being as no
other influence can. It requires no mystic insight to see the truth of
this. However unable we may be to account for it, it is a fact of
everyday experience, visible to ordinary common sense. And this being
so, there is nothing of necessity unjust in what we call unmerited
suffering, not even in the sad inheritance by children of the results
of parental sin. For while the sight of the miserable entail may, if
rightly used, become the parent's punishment, its imposition may be
the child's call to higher things. True, like all other useful
agencies, it often fails of its end; but such failure is of the
problem of evil, not of the problem of pain.

And, lastly, with men, as with animals, suffering is largely
prophylactic. Bodily pain sounds the alarm bell of disease in time for
its removal. Mental and moral pain arrest the issues of ignorant or
evil courses before it is too late. While the desire to remove pain
from ourselves, or better still from others, is among the strongest
incentives of the scientific discoverer, the patriot, the
philanthropist. And though it may seem a fallacy to credit pain with
the virtues which spring from the desire for its removal, common sense
rises above logic and recognises the real value of a spur without
which many of our noblest activities would cease.

Now, though all these considerations naturally lead on into theology
for their further treatment, yet it should be noticed that they are in
no sense exclusively theological. The penal, the corrective, the
preventive, and the stimulating uses of pain are all recognised in the
average man's philosophy of life. Indeed, they are too obvious to need
dwelling on at any length. But the point to be noticed is, that taken
together, they cover a very great deal of ground. For it is hardly too
much to say that in one or other of its various aspects, every human
being has need of suffering for the due development of his character.
And this is a fact which should go far to outweigh much brilliant
declamation of the pessimists. Pessimism, in fact, stereotypes and
gives a fictitious permanence to what is only one among our many moods
of thought. It harps upon the fact that we naturally shrink from pain.
It ignores the fact that we are conscious of being the better for it,
and unable to conceive progress without it. And though these
considerations afford no solution to the speculative mystery of pain,
they make in the direction of a speculative solution. They do not
explain why pain exists, but they shew us that its existence, in the
only region in which we can really test it, is eminently useful, and
therefore consistent with providential and beneficent design. Their
precise logical relation to the Theistic argument might be put as
follows: Arguments drawn from many departments of life and thought
converge in favour of Theism, but one large and important department,
that of human suffering, blocks the way. When, however, we isolate and
examine that department, we find that even within its limits the
evidence of provident purpose is prominent, if not preponderant. Its
prominence is certainly enough to neutralize the negative bearing of
the department upon the general argument. Its preponderance, which
many if not most men would admit, carries us further and makes the net
evidence of the whole department an affirmative contribution to

So far common sense carries us. But when we turn to the place of pain
in the religions of the world, two further thoughts are suggested. In
the first place, the belief in a future life, which is common to
almost all religions, at once opens endless vistas of possibility
before us. The pain which has failed to purify here, may yet purify
hereafter; the high-handed wrong-doing, which has seemed to go
unpunished here, may there meet with its righteous due. The pains
which we have thought excessive here, may there be found to have
worked out for us a far more exceeding weight of glory. And so the
particular difficulty which arises from the unequal incidence of
earthly suffering may one day find its adequate solution. No doubt
there is an element of truth in the familiar taunt that belief in a
future life has been a curse as well as a blessing to the world. In
some stages of culture, for example, the future life has been supposed
only to emphasize the inequalities of the present: the slave living on
in everlasting slavery, and the warrior in incessant war. But this has
been a partial and a passing phase of thought, which rapidly gave way
before more ethical conceptions. The ethical conceptions in their
turn, which were based on future rewards and punishments, confessedly
could not produce a very high type of morality. But they have filled
their place, and that a large one in the history of human development,
while even after ceasing to be the dominant motives, they still
witness to the ineradicable expectation of our race, that holiness and
happiness, sin and failure, shall one day coincide. More serious and
sad is the fact that distorted dreams of future punishment have often
reflected a lurid light upon the whole of life; goading zealots into
cruelty, sinners into madness, thinkers into unbelief; and have
lingered on, as savage survivals, even into Christian times, to the
hopeless obscuration, in many minds, of the creed that God is Love.
But even here we must draw distinctions. Early races express intensity
by an accumulation of material metaphors--fecundity by an hundred
breasts, omnipotence and omniscience by an hundred arms or a thousand
eyes. And so, when they saw the unrighteous man enjoy the fruits of
his unrighteousness, and die in unrebuked defiance of laws human and
divine, their sense of outraged justice could not but express itself
in terms of material horror. We have grown to be more pitiful, more
refined in our moral thinking, less dogmatic about unknown things: yet
neither our moral experience nor our Christianity has availed to
remove the dread of that unutterable 'pain of loss,' which the passing
of a soul in obdurate impenitence has ever suggested to the mind of
man. And however confidently therefore we may put aside the
distortions, and debasements, and interested exaggerations which have
darkened the thought of future punishment, we must remember that the
thought itself was no alien introduction into history; but due to the
instinctive craving of the human heart for justice; man's own
tremendous verdict on his sin[149]. But the universality, or at least
extreme generality of the belief in a continued existence, is quite
distinct from the particular pictures of it which the imagination has
variously drawn; much as the universality of conscience is distinct
from its varying content among diverse races and in different ages.
And the broad fact remains that from the dawn of history the majority
of mankind have believed in and looked with confidence to a future
life to rectify, and therefore justify, the inequalities of earthly
suffering; however much their views have varied as to what should
constitute rectification.

Secondly, there is an instinctive tendency in all religions, from the
savage upwards, to view pain, whether in the form of asceticism or
sacrifice, as inseparably connected with an acceptable service of the
gods or God. The asceticism of poor Caliban foregoing his little mess
of whelks, and that of the Hindoo whose meritorious sufferings are
expected to prevail, by intrinsic right with heaven; the hideous
holocausts of Mexico, and the paper substitutes for offerings of the
parsimonious or hypocritical Chinee are widely different things. But
they all spring from a common instinct, variously distorted, yet
persistent through all distortions, and progressively refined, till it
culminates in the Hebrew substitution of the broken heart for the
blood of bulls and of goats. It is the custom of some modern writers
to represent the higher forms of sacrifice as merely survivals of the
savage desire to propitiate the gods by food. But this is not an
adequate analysis even of the savage creed. Naturally enough the
primitive hunter, to whom food is the chief good, may think food the
worthiest offering to the gods. But it is not simply food, but his own
food, that he offers, the choicest morsel, that which it costs him
something to forego. In other words, the root of sacrifice is
self-sacrifice, however crudely it may be expressed. Of course, the
primitive hypocrite would seek to evade personal suffering as
naturally as the civilized hypocrite will give alms at another man's
expense. But sincerity must come before hypocrisy, and the sacrificial
instinct is in origin sincere. Its first account of itself may be
irrational, and its earlier manifestations often blundering and
repulsive; and if it were now only a survival, the same should be true
of its later forms, for survivals are not commonly improved in the
process of surviving. But so far from this being the case, it has been
refined by successive developments and is as integral an element of
later as of earlier religions, being in fact the symbolic statement
that a more or less painful self-surrender is the necessary condition
of all human approach to the divine. Natural religion then, in the
widest use of the term, carries us on beyond common sense, in
attributing a mysterious value to suffering here, and expecting an
explanation of its anomalies hereafter. The first belief may be called
mystical, the second hypothetical, and yet the two together have done
more to reconcile man to his burden of sorrow than all the philosophic
comments on the uses of adversity; for they have seemed to lift him,
though blindfold, into a loftier region, where he felt himself
inbreathing power from on high. And so here, as in other things,
natural religion leads on into Christianity.

The relation of Christianity to the problem of pain, may be best seen
by contrasting it with the empirical optimism of common sense.
Enlightened common sense, as we have seen, is fully aware of the uses
of sorrow; but it looks at the usefulness through the sorrowfulness,
as a compensation which should make the wise man content to bear his
pain. The change which Christianity has effected consists in the
reversal of this view of the subject. Once for all, it has put the
value before the painfulness in our thoughts. The Author and Finisher
of our faith, 'for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross,
despising the shame,' and 'our light affliction, which is but for a
moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding weight of glory, while we
look not at the things which are seen but at the things which are
unseen.' It bids us not wait 'till the sorrow comes with years,' but
take up our cross, from the first moment of our conscious
discipleship. And accordingly the real Christian looks at sorrow not
from without, but from within, and does not approach its speculative
difficulty till he is aware by experience of its practical power.
Consequently he cannot explain himself to the merely external critic.
He may urge in argument such general considerations as have been
touched upon above, and meet the pleas of pessimism with the
counterpleas of philosophic optimism; but if pressed for the inner
secret of his own serenity, he can only answer with the esoteric
invitation, 'Come and see.' Enter the dim sanctuary of sorrow through
the shadow of the Cross. Abide there, and as your eyes grow accustomed
to the darkness, the strange lines upon its walls which seemed at
first so meaningless, will group themselves into shapes and forms of
purposeful design.

Once for all the sinless suffering of the Cross has parted sin from
suffering with a clearness of distinction never before achieved. The
intellectual Greek had tended to confuse the two as kindred forms of
ignorance; the weary Oriental as kindred consequences of our
imprisonment in the body, 'the too too solid flesh;' the
self-righteous Jew viewed blindness, or death from a falling tower, as
evidence of exceptional sin. Everywhere in the ancient world the
outlines of the two were undefined, and their true relation of
antagonism misunderstood. But the sight of perfect sinlessness,
combined with perfect suffering, has cleared our view for ever. Sin
indeed always brings suffering in its train, but the suffering we now
see to be of the nature of its antidote; an antidote often applied
indeed with inexorable sternness, but in its intention wholly
merciful. Thus every sin has its appropriate suffering. Bodily
indulgence brings bodily disease; cruelty ends in cowardice; pride and
vanity in shame. And though the suffering of itself cannot convert the
sinner, it can and does prevent both the gratification and contagion
of the sin. Then comes the more terrible sorrow of remorse; and
remorse is potential penitence, and penitence potential purification.
But while sin thus involves suffering, suffering does not involve sin.
It is not only an antidote, but one of those antidotes which taken in
time is prophylactic. And this is not only true of the pains of
self-denial and self-sacrifice, the voluntary bearing of the cross,
but of many an involuntary sorrow also. Delicate health, Plato's
bridle of Theages, inherited pain, privation, bereavement, may all
refine the character and train the spiritual eye to that purity of
heart that shall see God. Pain in fact, in its manifold methods, is
like the angel of the Eastern story, changing its form incessantly to
cope with the shifting shapes of sin, and passing by turns into a
lion, a bird, a sword, a flood, a flame, in sleepless eagerness to
follow and find, and slay and quench and burn away the least last
lingering particle of evil. So far from being our enemy it is our
safest ally in the battle of life, and we fail through shrinking from
the stern alliance. We suffer because we sin; but we also sin because
we decline to suffer.

Still, the very sharpness of the severance between sin and suffering
on the Cross forces upon us the further question--Why should the
sinless suffer? The vicarious suffering of Christ is said to conflict
with our sense of justice. And it does so, as misrepresented in much
popular theology. But rightly viewed, it is the climax and complete
expression of the process to which we owe the entire evolution of our
race. The pleasures of each generation evaporate in air; it is their
pains that increase the spiritual momentum of the world. We enter into
life through the travail of another. We live upon the death of the
animals beneath us. The necessities, the comforts, the luxuries of our
existence are provided by the labour and sorrow of countless
fellow-men. Our freedom, our laws, our literature, our spiritual
sustenance have been won for us at the cost of broken hearts, and
wearied brains, and noble lives laid down. And this is only the human
analogue of that transference of energy by which all life and movement
is for ever carried on. The sun is so much the cooler by the heat it
daily gives to earth; the plant and tree the weaker by the force that
has matured their fruit; the animal generations exhausted in
continuing their kind. And how should their Creator draw all men unto
Him, but through the instrumentality of His own great law of
sacrifice? If we shrink from our share in the conditions of the solemn
legacy, it is easy to persuade ourselves that the system of things is
wrong. But if we accept it, and resolve that we too in our turn will
spend and be spent for others, we find beneath all the superficial
suffering the deep truth of the benediction, 'It is more blessed to
give than to receive.' And in the experience of that benediction we
see further still into the mysterious significance of sorrow.

Further; but not yet to the end. For the human heart desires more than
merely to work for others. It desires to be one with those for whom it
works. Love is the highest form of that unity; but even short of
actual love, we instinctively crave communion and sympathy with our
kind. And it is no morbid view of life to say that sorrow brings about
this union in a way that joy does not. There is something, under our
present conditions, in the very expansiveness of joy which
dissociates, while sorrow seems to weld us, like hammer strokes on
steel. It is the nationality whose members have together struggled for
existence, the soldiers who have faced the shock of battle side by
side, the persecuted party, the husband and wife who have known common
suffering that are most intimately, indissolubly one. Nor is this
union merely negative like the bond which fellow-prisoners feel, and
yet would eagerly escape from if they could. It is due to a distinct
sense that the common crisis has aroused all that is highest and
noblest and most spiritual, and therefore most sympathetic in the

But again, it is only in the light from the Cross, that we can see why
pain should possess this power. For in that light we understand how
pain unites us to each other, because, as even natural religion dimly
felt, it unites us to God, and therefore through Him to those who in
Him live and move and have their being. It unites us to God because it
purifies us, because it detaches us from earth, because it quickens
our sense of dependence, because it opens our spiritual vision, and
above all because He too, as man, has suffered. But the mystics who
have seen furthest into heavenly things have felt that it unites us to
God in still more vital wise, as being, at least in its form of
sacrifice, the very beating of the heart of love. And so they have
raised the question,--Has it not an antitype far in the illimitable
depths of the unseen? For we are told that God is Love; and love, as
we know it, must be shewn in sacrifice; though the sacrifice grows
painless in proportion as the love is pure. And when we recall how in
the days of our Lord's ministry on earth, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
bore their witness each to other, but no one of the Holy Persons ever
to Himself, we are led on to wonder whether 'in the light that no man
can approach unto,' where the Three are One, some higher analogue of
what we call sacrifice does not for ever flame; whose radiant
reflection on the universe only becomes shadow when it falls on a
world of sin. But however these high things may be, the simplest
Christian feels and knows that, in his present state, the unitive way,
the way to union with both God and man, is the 'via dolorosa,' the way
of the cross:--a serious and solemn belief, which is very far from
leading to complacency, in presence of the awful spectacle of animal
and human pain; but still is based on sufficient experience to justify
the hope that all its mystery will be one day solved. More than this
we do not expect, for the intellect, in our Christian view, is as much
on its probation and as liable to error as the will; and inordinate
curiosity not less misleading than inordinate desire.

[148] Butler, _Analogy_.

[149] Cf. pp. 514-16.




The paradox of Divine mystery implied in the words 'The Word was made
flesh,' is not exhausted by a right understanding of the Person of
Christ. It extends to the relations between Christ and History. On the
one hand, the Incarnation of the Son of God appears as supreme,
solitary, unique, transcending all analogies of experience, all
limitations of nationality or generation, determined before the world
was, beyond the power of any antecedents to produce, the entry of a
new thing into the world. It appears, in short, as a miracle. But, on
the other hand, it appears as an historical event, occurring at a
particular date, appealing to the feelings and fulfilling the hopes of
the time, a climax and a new point of departure in the historical
order. It does this, necessarily, because this is involved in the act
of taking flesh, of entering simply, literally, naturally into the
conditions of human life. Such a thing occurs, and must occur, in the
natural order. To say this is not to dictate what a Divine revelation
must be, but only to shew what Christianity asserts of itself. In this
way it was good in God's sight that His revelation should come.

It follows from this, in the first place, that there must be two ways,
both valid and necessary, of approaching in thought and study Christ
manifest in the flesh. We may treat the fact of His appearing with
little or no reference to historical relations, for its own inherent
unchanging truth and meaning. We may also treat it as clothed in
historical event, to be understood in its relations with what went
before and followed after and stood around. The two methods supplement
one another. It may be true that the simple personal claim which the
solitary figure of Jesus Christ makes upon us, by its unalterable
moral dignity and beauty, its typical humanity, its unearthly
authority, is the strongest that can be made: none the less may that
claim be confirmed and reinforced if we see the same figure as it were
upon an historical throne; if it should become clear that what went
before (and what followed after) does, in any way, pay homage to Him;
if the _manner_ of His appearing in place and time be calculated to
heighten the impression which the _fact_ of it makes.

And in the second place, it follows that to start in any historical
treatment of the subject of this paper from the central twofold
assertion as to Christ, made by S. John in the phrase 'The Word was
made flesh,' is to obtain at once the right clue to the lines which it
should follow.

(1) To do so is not to beg the question or to fetter the enquiry, but
only to define what kind of evidence, if any, the study of Christ's
relation to foregoing history can yield. We see that it must be such
as works in us the conviction that He both does, and does not, occur
'naturally' at the time and place when He appeared; that history leads
up to Him and prepares His way, and yet that no force of natural
antecedents can account for Him or for His work. It is true that
evidence for either side of this two-sided impression may have
sufficient weight to determine faith especially with individual minds.
The contrast between Christ and all else in history, arresting the
attention and suggesting the thought of special Divine presence, may
of itself be a spring of faith: or, upon the other hand, a clear
discernment of His natural supremacy in history may lead a man on to
higher truth. But the true evidence, as corresponding to the true and
full claim, will be that which suggests the conclusion with
simultaneous and equal force from either side.

(2) If the aim is not evidence but instruction, and we desire simply
to understand better what is true of our Lord's relation to history,
it will still advantage us greatly to start from the same point. We
shall be able to recognise freely and without fear of contradiction or
confusion, on the one side, the way in which the lines of history, of
human experience, aspiration, achievement, character, need, lead up to
Christ and issue in Him: and on the other, the unearthly and peculiar
greatness of Him Who spake as never man spake, Who taught as one that
had authority and not as the Scribes, Who was not convinced by any of
sin: Whose daily intimacy with a disciple issued in that disciple's
confession, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.' Such a
method, starting from the Christian claim, and trying to trace out all
that it involves, need not be only for the believer, any more than the
quest for evidence or witness is for those only who do not believe.
The Christian tests the foundations, and welcomes every corroboration,
of his faith: while, in dwelling on the character of the work and of
its relations to all else, the non-believer may come to find the
conviction grow upon him that it was indeed 'wrought of God.'

(3) From the same point, we see at once to what double
misunderstanding or double attack the Gospel not only may but must be
liable. On the one side, it may be refused a hearing as miraculous; it
may be understood as violating the natural order which it transcends;
it may be regarded and resented as an anomaly in history. On the other
side, a consideration of the aptness of its occurrence when and where
it did occur, and of its harmonious relations to many lines of
tendency will suggest the suspicion that it may be after all only a
result, though a supreme and surprising result, of historical forces.
In a word, it may be accused at once from separate, possibly from the
same, quarters as too supernatural and too natural to be what it
claims to be. It is all-important to notice at the outset that
liability to this double attack is an inevitable incident of its true
character and of that which makes its glory, viz. the presence of true
Godhead under truly human conditions.

But to return to the main point.

The importance and interest of the subject of this paper may be
inferred, as we have seen, directly from what the Incarnation claims
to be. But we are not left to infer it for ourselves. Nothing is
clearer or more striking than the place which it occupied from the
outset in the declaration of the Gospel. Jesus Himself spoke of the
Scribes of the kingdom as 'bringing forth out of their treasure things
new and old'; and laid it down as a first principle of His kingdom
that He was 'not come to destroy, but to fulfil[150].' While with
surprising and commanding clearness He centres men upon Himself, and
distinguishes Himself from all who came before Him, from 'the prophets
and the law which prophesied until John'; He yet with evident care
draws the new out of the old, and fits it on to the old: He delineates
His own mission as a climax in a long appeal of God to Israel[151],
and the opposition to Him and His, as a chapter of _dénouement_ in the
history of an old conflict between God and the ungodly[152]. He sees a
'necessity' for the happening of things to fulfil what had been said
of old[153]. The very pith of the disciples' ignorance is their
failure to see how the features of His work and character had been
traced beforehand, and the supreme teaching which they receive from
Him is that which discloses His correspondence to the whole tenor of
the Scriptures of the past[154]. The teaching of the Apostles, and of
those who followed them, is faithful to these lines. Though they have
to convince the world of an Event which works a revolution, which is
to turn men from darkness to light: though their perfect confidence in
their own truth makes them see the things that went before as
elements, 'weak and beggarly elements[155],' and they have moreover
battles to fight against these 'elements' set up again as antagonists:
though their adherence to the Old Testament was an ever fruitful
source of difficulty and attack (of which Judaizing and Gnostic
controversies are the record), yet nevertheless they unswervingly
maintained the inspiration of the Old Testament, and stood upon it;
and we distinguish without hesitation as their normal, primary,
characteristic method that of appeal to the correspondence between
their Gospel and every hope and word of Israel's faith: the
'revelation of the mystery ... is ... by the scriptures of the
prophets ... made known to all nations[156].' The Hebrews who
wistfully look back to their temple, law, and ritual, are not taught a
stern forgetfulness of what had been, nor led vaguely to spiritualize
its meaning, but are led to recognise in each part of the ancient
system a line which leads up to Christ. Finally, the disciple who sets
the true being of his Master in monumental and awful splendour as the
Word who 'was with God and was God' now made manifest in the flesh, in
the same breath carries us to the very core and source of all that can
be implied in preparation by declaring the same Word to have been 'in
the world' before, to have been the author of all things, and the
unseen light of men[157].

The relation of Christ to history, or the preparation for the Gospel,
is then no afterthought of our own or any recent time. It was
Augustine's saying that Christianity was as old as the world[158]: and
Tertullian's (one of almost venturesome boldness) that in the previous
history Christ was schooling Himself for incarnation[159]. But it is
not difficult to see that our own time is one which is specially
fitted to appreciate and handle this aspect of the Christian truth.
Our cultivation of the historical method, our historical realism or
sense of the relation of persons or events to historical setting, our
recognition of the part played in forming structure, function,
character, by gradual process, by heredity, by evolution, our
developed understanding of the links by which the parts and
successions in all nature, and not least in what is human, are bound
together--all these go to form a habit of mind which in presence of
such a Revelation as that of the Gospel will at once busy itself,
whether for satisfaction, for edification, for controversy, or for
interpretation, with the relation of the Truth to the world into which
it came, to all from amongst which it sprung. In such a time it is
natural that attack should try to shew that facts which historical
criticism has done much to secure, and a Life which it has become
impossible to treat as a myth, are simply explicable according to the
natural laws of historical causation. It is natural that Christianity
should be explained as the flower and bloom of Judaism, or as sprung
from the fusion of Greek and Jewish influences in a Galilean medium.
Such explanations may not be new, but they are urged with new
resources and a more subtle ingenuity. They have the advantage of
being the sort of explanations which are naturally most congenial to
the time. But out of the very stress of such attacks may come a
special corroboration of Christian truth. The experiment is crucial:
it can hardly be expected that attack of this kind can ever command
greater skill and resource than it does at present. If therefore it
should be proved to fail: if we are able to look men in the face and
ask whether when all allowance is made for the subtle 'chemistries' of
history and for the paradoxical way in which historical results spring
from what precedes them, it is possible to think that Jesus Christ and
His religion were a mere growth from antecedents--then we have here
the prospect of such a confirmation of faith as no age less
historically scientific could, in that kind, give and receive.

But this negative result, great as its value may be, can only be part
of what Christian science may yield in this sphere for the elucidation
and support of faith. It should surely be able to display with greater
breadth and delicacy than ever before that correspondence between the
Revelation of Christ and what went before it, which was of old
indicated by saying that Christ came in the 'fulness of the time.' It
should be able to enhance, and not (as men fear) to impair, the
evidence of a Divine presence and influence, preparing for that which
was to come, moulding the plastic material of history for a 'far-off
Divine event.' It may seem as if this was not so. It may seem, for
example, as if the severity and activity of historical and linguistic
criticism had dimmed the clearness of those correspondences between
prophetic utterances spoken centuries before Christ and the points in
Him or His work whereby they were fulfilled, which were once so clear.
It may seem, it is evidently true, that stricter canons of
interpretation forbid for us that unbounded use of the happy expedient
of allegory which could make everything in the Old Testament speak of
Christ. But even if this were so (and with regard to prophecies we
only partially grant it), is there no countervailing gain to reckon?
The hand of God may be seen in what is marvellous, startling,
exceptional, unexplained. Can it not be seen as distinctly and as
persuasively in what is orderly, steadfast, intelligible, and where
our reason, made in God's likeness, can follow along in some degree
with the how and the why of His working? It was Christ's will to give
special signs, yet the curiosity which 'sought after a sign' was not
honoured by Christ like that wisdom which 'discerned the signs of the
times,' and so could see the force of the special signs that were
given because it saw them in their true moral and spiritual
context[160]. Have we any reason to hope that our time may be suffered
to do (and even be doing) something for the interpretation of the
witness of history to Christ which has not been done before, and which
is even an advance upon what has been done? Let us consider for a
moment (in order to answer this question) what it is which specially
engrosses the interest and admiration of all of us in the different
branches of modern study and enquiry. It is the beauty of _process_.
The practical men among us watch process in its mechanical forms as
contrived by invention. The naturalists and the men of science have to
an extraordinary extent developed our perception of it in nature: they
shew us its range, and its incredible delicacy, flexibility, and
intricacy; they shew us its enormous patience in the unceasing yet
age-long movements which by microscopic or less than microscopic
changes accumulate the coal, or lessen the mountain; they shew us the
wonderful power of adaptation by which it accommodates itself to
surroundings, and appropriates and transforms them to its need. The
embryologist developes its wonders as it makes 'the bones to grow in
the womb of her that is with child.' And the historians in their
sphere do the like: it is for them, if not the beginning and end of
their work, at least the most powerful of their methods, to shew the
processes by which institutions, customs, opinions, rise and decline;
to arrange the facts so as to display on their chart the steps of
growth, the stages of decay; to shew influences blending to form
events, and parting again to destroy or re-shape them.

There is beauty in all this, more than we can, perhaps, altogether
analyse or explain. As living beings we sympathise with the life and
movement of it all (or, as in the case of intricate machinery, with
the imitation of life) compared with what stands stark, solid,
unchanging; as intelligent beings we revel and delight in its
intricacy, and, further, we are gratified by the way in which it
subdues with explanation what would be anomalous, abrupt, motiveless,
in the way of change or event. It gives us something like the pleasure
which we take in the beauty of the exquisite subtle curves and shaded
surfaces of a Raphael figure compared with the rough outline of a
Dürer woodcut. But we could not long rest in the admiration of mere
process, whether delicate or colossal. There is a rational element
present in, or controlling, our sense of beauty, which asks whence and
whither, which demands unity in detail; and this finds altogether new
and delightful gratification when it can see a relation, a meaning, a
grouping, a symmetry, of which processes are the ministers and

It is, then, this idea of beauty in process that we bring with us as
we approach to behold the facts and method of God's Redemptive Work.
It is altogether too strong in us to be left behind as we cross the
threshold of this region; it is too much connected with all our
thinking and experience. It is very possible that there may be
exaggeration about it in us: and it is indispensable for us to
recognise this, 'le défaut de notre qualité.' But all the same we
cannot disown, though we must control, what is so specially our own.
And if our love of process is prepared to be critical, it is also
prepared to be gratified: and there is opened a prospect of fresh
witness to the truth of the unchanging Gospel, if it should be found
that its introduction into this world is ushered in by all the beauty
of process, with all the grandeur of slow unhasting preparation, the
surprises of gradual transformation, the delicacies of combination,
which process allows.

Such a sight is much more than wonderful, and has in it, if our ideas
of what is Divine are not very narrow, much more evidence of God's
hand than any mere wonder can have. But it is as wonderful as anything
can be. And if we still plead that our sense of wonder stipulates for
exceptionalness, it has its own way of satisfying this--the way of
uniqueness. For those features which we admire in process are capable,
if combined with a certain degree of grandeur, completeness, and
particularity, of conveying to us the impression of a unique thing. We
may dismiss as a dialectical refinement the objection which has been
made that, as is doubtless true, 'everything is unique.' None the
less, there is a meaning in our ordinary language when it applies the
epithet 'unique' to certain persons, classes, or things. A man of
science may properly speak of a certain uniqueness in the way in which
natural conditions are combined so as to make life possible: a
historian will certainly miss truth if he does not recognise a special
uniqueness in certain historical epoch-making moments. In proportion
as we believe in Mind ordering the things of nature and history, such
uniqueness will have speaking significance. And as uniqueness has its
degrees, and rises according to the scale, quantity, character and
completeness, of that which goes to make it up, so its significance
will rise proportionately, until at last, arriving at uniqueness,
which seems to us absolute, we gain evidence that there is before us a
Supreme Thing, a true centre to the world. The evidence is not indeed
demonstrative, but it is in a high degree corroborative, and it is the
highest which history can offer. It is this evidence of uniqueness
which, as it seems to me, we of the present day may with special
fitness seek, and shall with special welcome find:

(1) in the shaping of world-history towards the Christian era,

(2) in the special preparation of the Jewish nation.

Within the compass of a paper like the present, it is impossible to do
more than indicate the lines which, even without any high degree of
special education, a Christian's thought may travel in tracing the
Divine work of preparation and witness.

I. In the first part of our enquiry the distinction between an outward
and an inward working suggests itself as convenient, though
necessarily imperfect: the one consisting in a moulding of the
material facts of history, such as the geographical distribution of
peoples, and the political and social order; the other in a like use
of the changes in thought, feeling, and the like.

(1) It can never be altogether too hackneyed to dwell on the strange
value to the world's history of the two peninsulas which we know as
Greece and Italy, thrust out into that Mediterranean Sea, which was
itself so remarkable as a centre and 'medium' of the western world,
binding its many nations together. They share with other lands of the
temperate zone all its possibilities of hardy and vigorous life: but,
besides this, their sky and sea, their conveniences and difficulties,
had a special stimulus to give to their early inhabitants. They were
extraordinarily well suited to be the seed-plots of civilization. And
these seed-plots were aptly fertilized, first by the Phoenicians,
those carrier-birds of antiquity dropping seed along the Mediterranean
coasts: and then by the happy contact between Greece and the other
Greece opposite, to which the island bridges of the Aegean linked it,
where, on the narrow strip of coast plain and rich river valley
between the sea and the high plateaus of Asia Minor, the Ionians
enjoyed, as Herodotus says[161], the fairest climate in the world.
Upon this debouched, with the rivers from the interior, the highways
along which travelled westward the civilization or the power of the
dimly known but highly important early Phrygian monarchy, or from yet
farther east, of the mighty Assyria. The recent discoveries of Prof.
Ramsay and others re-interpret and emphasize to us this early
connection between the Asian lands and Greece in Europe, of which the
Lion Gate of Mycenae is a monument. What Greece thus took with her
left hand she could pass across with her right to yet another Greece,
'Great Greece,' in Sicily and Southern Italy. But we may easily fail
to recognise how much all this delicate and tender growth depended on
favourable circumstance, and we cannot too carefully mark how space
was made awhile for it to spring. The 'hills stood about' both
peninsulas on the North to shelter them from intrusion: but this
barrier, sufficient for ordinary times, would hardly have resisted the
heavy thrust of the later pressure of population from the East and
North-East, which, when it did begin, so nearly crushed Rome, and
which, if it had come earlier, might have easily stifled Greek and
Roman civilization in the cradle. The reader of the Persian Wars will
watch almost with awe within how little Greece came of what appeared
alike to Asiatic and Greek a certain subjection to the Persian. A
difference of twenty years earlier, the chance of a different temper
in the little Athenian people, the use by Darius of the methods of
Xerxes, would, humanly speaking, have decided the other way the fate
of western civilization. It is easier again to admire than to explain
the happy fortune which brought the mountain kingdom of Macedon to its
moment of aggression just too late to hurt the flowering and fruitage
of Greece, just in time to carry its seed broadcast over Eastern,
Syrian, and Egyptian lands. From all the sequence of the Graeco-Roman
history which follows, and in which nothing is more important to all
the purposes of Providence than the simple fact of the order of these
two, Greek first, Roman second, we can here select only one feature of
capital importance, viz. the transformation of a world intensely
localized and sub-divided into one as singularly united and
homogeneous. Follow S. Paul and see his circuits, watch him claiming
the safeguard of the same Roman citizenship in the Macedonian town and
in the capital of Palestine, laying hold at Caesarea on the horns of a
central tribunal of justice at Rome, borne thither by the sails of the
carrying trade in the 'ship of Alexandria,' meditating a journey into
Spain, numbering among his Roman converts, as seems probable, one who
had a direct connection with Roman Britain, writing in the same Greek
to Rome and to the highlanders of Galatia, never crossed in his
journeys by any track of war, never stopped by any challenge of
frontier or custom-house: these are so many object-lessons to shew
what the 'Pax Romana' and the Roman unity of power and organization
imported for the growth of a world-religion. This was the time when it
could be complained that it was impossible to flee from the Caesar's
wrath because the Caesar owned the world. And to make the impression
more distinct, let the eye travel backward a little, or forward a
little: backward into the second or even the first century B.C., when
this same Mediterranean world was still in greater part an
unconsolidated chaos of political débris; when the tumult of the
Macedonian and Syrian wars of Rome and then of her desolating civil
strife filled the world with noise and occupied its thought and
destroyed its peace; when the sea was impassable because of pirates,
and when the West was still in great part unsubdued and formidable
barbarism: or forward, across the space during which the Gospel had
spread its influence and struck its roots and won its power, to the
time so soon following, when the lands that had known no war were
again traversed by the armies of rival emperors, and the barbarians
began to dismember the West, and the gloom of a great fear preoccupied
men's hearts. To say nothing of the middle ages, what unity of the
Mediterranean world and the lands affiliated to it has the whole of
later history got to shew, that can compare for a moment with the
unity of the early Empire, focussed in its cosmopolitan capital Rome?

And in this there is much more than a mechanical provision for the
progress of a world-religion. It is not merely that its heralds find a
complete facility of communication, peaceful conditions, and a 'lingua
franca' ready for their use. We must realize how the unity had been
obtained. It had been by pulverizing separate nationalities, separate
patriotisms, separate religions; by destroying or leaving only in a
municipal form the centres round which human energy and loyalty had
been wont to gather. Thus the world had been turned into that 'cold
and icy plain' of which M. Renan speaks. And it is not too much to say
that this process had destroyed just so many barriers to the entrance
of Christianity. We have only to realize what had been previously the
universal character of the worships of the western world, viz. that
they had been local, the common and exclusive possession of the
citizens of one place or state, and inextricably bound up with the
being and welfare of that particular community. Such religions, and
people bred under them, would have met Christianity, not so much with
criticism of its doctrines, or with rival doctrines of their own, as
with ideas and a frame of mind so alien to a spiritual and universal
religion like the Gospel that it would have found no foothold in
attacking them. Conceive the force with which what even in the second
century after Christ the heathen objector urged, 'it is not creditable
to alter the customs handed down to us from our fathers[162],' would
have come from the Roman of the earlier Republic, or the Greek of the
times of freedom. Nay, we may without rashness hazard the conjecture
that had it been possible for the Gospel to overcome these conditions
it would have done so prematurely and with loss: that they were in
their time and place ministers of good: that they were bound up with
that vigorous energy of development within one small limited horizon,
by which, as we shall see, the preparation of the heathen world was
carried out.

It was the negative aid of the Empire to Christianity that it
destroyed these. But it lent more positive help. It created a demand,
or at least a need, for a universal religion. Of this there are
several proofs. The religious phenomena of the time other than
Christianity supply the first. There is an attempt, or more than one
attempt, to provide such a religion. There is the attempt by way of
comprehension, of making all the gods live together as joint
inhabitants of a common Pantheon. There is the attempt by way of
construction, in the worship of the one Power about which there was no
doubt, the Goddess Rome, and of the Emperor her deified
representative. There is also, we may perhaps add, the attempt by way
of philosophic thought. For philosophy at this time had a religious
bent which increased not improbably as the circulation of Christian
thought stole unknown through the veins of society: and it felt after
the One Being whose Personal existence and Fatherhood it waveringly
discerned, but whom yet it could not steadily distinguish from a
personified order of nature. Such a religious idea, needed to complete
Cicero's commonwealth of the Universe comprehending Gods and men, may
be seen with increasing clearness in Seneca, Epictetus, and Aurelius.
The need of a universal religion is thus directly shewn. But other
proofs, as clear though less direct, are to be drawn from the other
departments of human thought. For literature was already a unity, into
which whatever the genius of provincials like Lucan, or Seneca, or
Pliny contributed was gathered up. And it is a commonplace that the
greatest constructive result of the imperial period was the creation
or development of a universal code of law.

(2) In what has been last said we have almost crossed the imaginary
line by which we were to divide the preparation in external fact from
that which was more inward in thought and feeling. To deal with this
latter may seem almost ridiculous: since to do so must involve the
presumption of summarizing in a few lines the drift of the literature
and thought of antiquity. Yet, in the briefest words, it may be
possible to suggest a few true outlines of the shape which an account
of that drift should take. It would certainly represent the mental
history of the classical world in its relation to the Gospel as
supplying a double preparation, positive and negative: a positive
preparation by evolving ideas which the Gospel could work into its own
fabric, or a frame of mind which would make for it a suitable 'nidus'
and a receptive soil: a negative preparation by the breakdown of human
nature's own constructive and speculative efforts, and by the room
thus left for a revelation which would unite the broken and useless
fragments of thought and minister to unsatisfied needs. And of these
the negative seems the more predominant and the more direct. In so
saying we are guided by what appears to be the teaching of the New
Testament. It seems as though the main upshot of that time was, and
was meant to be, the failure of the world 'by wisdom[163]' to find the
truth: though when this has been recognised and acknowledged, then the
world might find, as we may find, that all the while in this
unattaining and abortive thought God had put impulses from His own
wisdom, and prepared materials for His own coming work. It is the
typical history of the 'natural man': and though what is primary and
indispensable is that the natural man should learn the poverty and
misery of his own state, and be ready to die to his life, yet the
natural man too is the true though perverted work of God, and in his
thoughts and instincts, his emotions and speculations, must be found a
witness to which the revelation will appeal, and a response which it
will elicit. It is impossible not to follow the track so suggested,
and to see in the early stages of Greek life, the lusty youth-time of
the natural man. Casting off the bright and truthful simplicity, and
the happy story-telling of its childhood, it begins (we speak of the
times between 600 and 450 B.C.) to try its young energies upon the
problems of the world: it suggests its explanations, quick, ingenious,
one-sided, changing, of how the world came to be: 'it came from
water,' 'from air,' 'from fire:' 'it came from the dance of atoms:'
'nay, but these give us only the _how_, it came from something more
than these, it came from mind:' 'are you sure what _it_ is? fix upon
any part of it and you will find it slip through your fingers, for all
is change, and change is all we know;' these are the quick _premières
ébauches_ of its young speculation. But already there is a sound of
alarm in the air. That challenge asking whether there was an 'it' at
all; and if so, whether by parity of cavil there was any solidity in
the other assumptions of thought, in 'good' and 'evil,' 'truth' and
'falsehood,' 'beauty' and 'ugliness;' or at least anything beyond such
mere relative and convenient meaning as there is in 'big' or 'little,'
'thick' or 'thin,' 'wet' or 'dry'--this sobers men. Thought feels its
own dangers. It must try its hand more seriously at some true
constructive work: and so there follows that great period in which,
steadied by the strong grip and sharp discipline of the great prophet
of natural conscience and natural instinct, Socrates, it addresses
itself to its great task of wringing her secret from the world. It is
done and necessarily done in the sheer self-reliance of the unaided
mind, yet of the mind in the fullest sense of the word; not the mere
critical understanding, but the whole spiritual and rational energy of
the man, not disowning its dependence on a discipline of character and
a severe and painful training of its own powers. The results, so
splendid and yet so inadequate, so rich in great intuitions and
suggestions, so patient and successful in much of its detail, is
preserved to us in the work of Plato and Aristotle. Christian thought
can never be interested in disparaging that work: Christian thinkers
at different times have done special honour to different aspects of
it: and the position of Aristotle in the works of Dante, and of
Aquinas, and in the frescoes of the Spanish chapel, is the sign of the
ungrudged admiration given by what in our modern way we might regard
as among the least appreciative and discriminating of Christian times.
But the most ungrudging admiration cannot prevent our seeing, and
history compels us to see, what it lacked. It lacked a foundation upon
a Rock. It had the certainty, if certainty at all, which belongs to
profound intuitions and to a wide interpretation of experience, not
that which makes a definite, settled, and above all communicable
conviction. All the while narrower, pettier, more captious, or more
ordinary minds had been asking 'what is truth' in a very different
spirit; had displayed the independence and captiousness of youth, and
not its hopeful and trustful creativeness. And more and more this
lower element began to prevail. When it became a question not of
projecting systems which should impress and absorb the higher minds of
a few generations, but of providing that which should pass on with
men, the common run of men, into the advancing years, and stand the
strain of the world's middle life; then it was found that the human
mind unaided was more powerful to destroy than to build or to
maintain. The dark horse of Plato's chariot pulled down his fellow: in
the unaided human understanding the critical faculty proved stronger
than the constructive: without the point of attachment in a central
truth to which men's high thoughts could reach and cling, or (to
change the figure) without a clearly-disclosed goal of truth towards
which they could be seen to tend and converge, they could not maintain
or justify themselves: 'the carnal mind' was against them and unworthy
of them: as regards any real adoption of them by mankind for fruitful
and trustworthy convictions, they passed away, according to that law
of which the modern poet speaks:--

                      Eternal hopes are man's
  Which when they should maintain themselves aloft
  Want due consistence: like a pillar of smoke
  That with majestic energy from earth
  Rises but, having reached the thinner air,
  Melts and dissolves, and is no longer seen[164].

We shall not be wrong in saying that the course of philosophy after
Aristotle displayed increasingly the collapse of the experiment of
speculative self-reliance. Scepticism was not confined to the
'Sceptics,' nor even shared only by the Epicureans: it deeply underlay
the philosophy of the Stoics. But as with advancing life men baffled
in their early sanguineness fall back (both for good and evil) and
content themselves with the energies of practical life, so the mind of
that day baffled and despairing of the speculative problem did not
abandon, but transferred, its self-reliance; men threw themselves with
a sort of defiance into the organization of conduct; 'imperturbableness'
and 'self-sufficiency' became watchwords of their thought[165]. This
is the character of Stoicism: this explains its vogue and wide
indirect influence; its curious likeness to its apparently quite alien
contemporary, Epicureanism, in a common cultivation of self-sufficingness;
and, finally, its ready alliance with the natural tendencies of Roman
character when it passed from Greece to Rome.

Here again was a great experiment, which had no mean success. We
admire almost with awe its unsparing thoroughness, its austerity, its
unworldliness, its courage, its endurance. In its later forms, when
some power has touched it with gentleness, we yield it even a warmer
and tenderer admiration. Only what we cannot do is to disguise its
failure as a great spiritual experiment. We cannot forget how it left
the mass of men untouched, how it concentrated strength by what it
neglected of human sympathy and effort, how it revealed a disease and
palsy of human nature which it could not cure: how at its heart it had
no certainty of conviction to give peace and to resist the forces of
decay. Humanity will never, perhaps, wind itself higher. But it was a
height on which human strength is insufficient to stand. There lacked
a sure word of truth: the joy and fruitfulness of an inspiration: a
grace which could minister to the weakness, as well as summon the
forces, of human nature. We cannot be blind to its failure unless we
share it: unless, that is, we are trying to satisfy ourselves by some
philosophy of life which misses its secrets, has no key to many of its
problems, and at heart despairs of its solution. The experiment of
moral self-reliance, then, failed in its turn.

But we spoke of a positive as well as a negative upshot to all this
Gentile history: a positive contribution to the preparation for
Christ. Where shall we look for this? Surely alongside of, and in the
same plane with, the failures. If one chief result of the history of
the ancient world was to exhibit the insufficiency of man's efforts to
find truth and righteousness and life, this must be completely shewn
in proportion as the efforts were noble, and therefore in proportion
as they realized (though, at the moment, only for disappointment) the
capacities, the possibilities, the true desires and ideals of man. If
man the race, like man the individual, was finally to find salvation
by dying to himself, to his own natural man, he could only do this
when it had been adequately and magnificently proved both that he
could not save himself, and how splendidly worth saving he was. He
must do his best, that he may despair of his best. Do we not feel that
this is just what was worked out by the histories of Greece and Rome?
They are splendid experiments of human power. Diverse in their method,
they combine in this result. In Greece the experiment is by way of
spontaneity, of free lively development, conditioned only by its own
instincts of taste and beauty. And Rome represents the alternative
plan of seeking strength by discipline, by subordination, by distrust
of novelty, by sacrifice of individuality to the corporate life, and
of sentiment and opinion to the rule of law. Both realize deathless
types of matured human life, of its beauty, its brilliant graces, its
dignity, its honour, its strength. Perhaps, according to the
one-sidedness which limits so severely the works and lives of men, it
might have been impossible that these possibilities of his nature
should have been _first_ realized with the same solidity and fulness
in presence of those mighty truths, speaking of what was above man,
which brooded over the history of the Jews and came forth into the
world with the Gospel. Yet they are indispensable to the fulness of
the Christian work: they are the human material: and that material
must be first-rate in its kind. We owe it perhaps permanently to
Greece and Rome that we recognise fully the grace of God's original
workmanship in man, the validity of his instincts, his individual
value, the sacredness and strength of all his natural social bonds,
the wisdom and power possessed by his incorporated life. These are
things which we could never have realized if all the world had been
brought up in the barbarous societies of ancient Europe or under the
great despotisms of Egypt and Asia. The religions of Asia may perhaps
shew us by contrast the immense importance to a religion of being able
to build with sound and adequate materials on the human side. That
Greece and Rome did contribute specially in this way to the work of
the true religion may be shewn by the way in which men have again and
again turned back to these original sources for fresh impulses of
liberty or vigour.

But these things had their day and passed. The age of Pericles and of
Demosthenes, the great days of the Roman Republic, are only epochs in
the history, long past at the era of our Lord. We look to see whether
there is any positive preparation for Him and His Gospel in the whole
drift of that history, and especially in tendencies which took a
developed form closer to the era of Christianity[166].

General and popular impressions about the character and course of the
history will put us on the track of a true answer. It is impossible to
look at the history of the classical world without getting a double
impression, that it is a history of failure and degeneracy, and yet
that it is a history of bettering and progress. If we take the world
at the Christian era, the times of political brilliancy and energy are
over, and men are sinking into a uniformity of servility and
stagnation: morally the ancient severity is lost, and the laws of
Augustus are feebly coping with the results of a general dissoluteness
as to morality and marriage: economically society is disfigured by a
vast slave system, by the disappearance of honest and thriving free
labour, and by great developments of luxury and pauperism: in
literature, though it is the 'golden age,' the signs are not wanting,
in artificiality and the excessive study of form, of imminent rapid
decline into the later rhetorical culture: in philosophy speculation
had run itself out into scepticism and self-destruction: and in
religion a disbelief in the ancient gods and a doubt of all Divine
providence is matter of open profession. And yet there is a bettering.
The laws of the Empire become a model of humanity, equitableness, and
simplicity. Seneca and Epictetus rise to thoughts of moral purity and
sublimity and delicacy which at times seem hardly unworthy of the New
Testament: and their humane and comprehensive ideas have cast off the
limitations which the narrow life of Greek cities set to those of
their greater predecessors.

Here then is a great clearing of the stage, and a great predisposing
of thought and sentiment, for a religion which proclaimed a good
tidings for all men without distinction of 'Jew or Greek, Barbarian
and Scythian, bond or free'; for a religion of compassion; for a
religion wholly spiritual and unpolitical. There are traces distinct
and widespread of special tendencies to such a religion, and they are
connected with the best side of the life of the time. The enormous
diffusion of the 'collegia' or clubs, in which the members were drawn
together without distinction of rank, or even of free and slave, in a
partly religious bond, shews the instinct of the time feeling for a
religion of brotherhood. There is a delicacy of family life as seen in
Plutarch, in Pliny, in Fronto, which shews readiness for a religion
such as should regenerate the simple instincts and relations of
humanity. In the position and function of the philosophers (who
sometimes half-remind one of mendicant friars[167], sometimes of the
confessor or chaplain in families of rank, in their relation to
education and to the vicissitudes of later life) there is implied a
concentration of thought and interest upon character and upon the
discipline of individual life, a sensibility to spiritual need, which
all indicates a ground prepared for Christian influence. And, finally,
whether it be from the stealing in of Eastern influences, or from a
reaction against the cold scepticism of Ciceronian times, or from a
half-political half-genuine sense of the necessity of religion to
society, or from a sort of awed impression created by the marvellous
fortune of Rome, or from the steady impact of the clear strong deep
religious faith of the Jews scattered everywhere, and everywhere, as
we know, to an extraordinary extent leavening society, or, as time
went on, from a subtle influence of Christianity not yet accepted or
even consciously known,--there was, it is notorious, a return towards
religion in the mind of men. The temples were again thronged: priests
became philosophers. In Neo-Platonism thought again looks upward, and
the last phase of Greek philosophy was in the phrase of the dry and
dispassionate Zeller[168] 'a philosophy of Revelation' which sought
knowledge partly in the inner revelation of the Deity and partly in
religious tradition. This movement was indeed a rival of Christianity;
it came to put out some of its strength in conscious rivalry, or it
tried in Gnostic heresies to rearrange Christianity on its own lines:
but it was the result and witness of a disposition of men's hearts
which made way for the Gospel.

It was not, then, merely true that the failures of the heathen world
left it empty, hungering, distrustful of itself; nor merely that the
world of that particular epoch gave extraordinary facilities of an
outward kind for the diffusion of a world-religion: but also that in
some of its most characteristic and deepest workings, in thoughts and
dispositions which it had purchased at a great cost of ancient glories
and liberties and of all that was proud and distinctive in Greek and
Roman religion, there was that which would make men ready for
Christianity and cause it to be to them, as it could not have been to
their ancestors, intelligible, possible, and congenial.

II. Dr. Westcott has drawn, in a useful phrase, the invaluable
distinction between a _tendency towards_, and a _tendency to produce_,
the truth of Christianity[169].

If we have been able to trace a real shaping of the lines inward and
outward of the world's order disposing it for a true religion, the
impression which this makes on us must be enormously increased if (1)
we can see that that religion, when it comes, is most obviously a
thing which _comes_ to the Gentile world, and does not _grow out of_
it either by blending of tendencies, or by constructive individual
genius: and if (2) we are able to indicate another and perfectly
distinct course of shaping and preparation which at the required
moment yielded the material and equipment for the religion which was
to go out upon the world.

That this was so is in a sense upon the face of history. The Christian
Church, it has been said, appeared at first as a Jewish sect. 'The
salvation' Christ declared was 'of the Jews.' He came ('not to destroy
but) to fulfil' the system amidst which He arose. Such sayings put us
upon the track of a special preparation for the Gospel. Let us follow
it. And (as the phrase is chosen to imply) we look here for something
kindred indeed in many of its methods to that general preparation
which we have hitherto traced, but yet more coherent, positive, and
concentrated. For we pass in a sense at this point (to use language of
the day), from the preparation of an environment suitable to the
Gospel, to a preparation of the organism itself. Such language is
obviously open to criticisms and misconceptions of more kinds than
one. But it is sufficiently defensible historically and theologically
to justify us in gaining the clearness which it gives.

I shall attempt to present the signs of this preparation by
considering successively these three points.

(1) The relations between Israel and the world at the Christian era.

(2) The fitness of Israel to be the seed-plot of a world-religion, and
of the world-religion given by Christ.

(3) The character of the process by which the Israel, so fitted, and
so placed, had come to be.

(1) Many a reader of Mommsen's _History of Rome_ will have been
surprised by finding that the ideal political construction which the
writer's knowledge and imagination have ascribed to Caesar was to
consist of three elements--the Roman, the Hellenic, and the
Jewish[170]. Yet striking as the paradox is, it is chiefly in the
facts themselves. Whether we look at the ethnological character of the
Jews amidst a system whose strength is from the West; or at their
historical position, as a nation in some sense in decadence, with a
history of independence and glories long lost; or at the minuteness of
their original seat, and its insignificance at that time as
(ordinarily) a subordinate district under the Roman province of Syria,
it is alike surprising that it should be possible to speak of them as
the third factor of the Roman Empire. Yet, in the main, the same
surprise is created by any acquaintance with the circumstances of the
Jewish Dispersion, as it may be learnt from easily accessible books,
such as Edersheim's or Schürer's[171]. There is first the ubiquity of
the race: testified alike by Josephus, Strabo, and Philo, and by the
witness of inscriptions. They are everywhere, and everywhere in force,
throughout the Roman world. Outside the Roman world their great
colonies in Babylon and Mesopotamia are another headquarters of the
race. They are an eighth part (one million) of the population of
Egypt: they yield 10,000 at the least to one massacre in Antioch. To
numbers and ubiquity they add privilege in the shape of rights and
immunities, begun by the policy of the successors of Alexander, but
vigorously taken up and pushed by Rome as early as 139 B.C., greatly
developed by Caesar round whose pyre at Rome they wept, and maintained
by the almost consistent policy of the earlier Empire: rights of equal
citizenship in the towns where they lived, and equal enjoyment of the
boons granted to citizens: rights of self-government and internal
administration: and rights or immunities guarding their distinctive
customs, such as their observance of the Sabbath or their transmission
of tribute to Jerusalem. The opportunities thus secured from without
were vigorously turned to account by their trading instinct, their
tenacity, their power of living at a low cost, and above all by their
admirable freemasonry among themselves, which bound Jews throughout
the world into a society of self-help, and must have greatly assisted
the enterprises which depend on facility of information,
communication, and movement. So far we merely get an impression of
their importance. But there are other points which, while they greatly
heighten this impression, add to it that of remarkable peculiarity. To
ask what was their influence plunges us into a tumult of paradoxes.
They had, for example, everywhere the double character of citizens and
strangers, speaking the language of the countries where they dwelt,
'being Antiochenes,' as Josephus says, 'at Antioch, Ephesians at
Ephesus,' and so forth: possessing and using the rights and franchises
of citizens, and yet every one of them counting the Holy Land his
country and Jerusalem his capital: respecting the Sanhedrin of
Jerusalem as the supreme authority of the race: sending up their
tribute annually, flocking thither themselves in vast numbers to keep
the feasts, or again not seldom returning there to die. They possessed
in fact the combined advantages of the most elastic diffusion, and the
strongest national concentration. Such a position could hardly make
their relations to their neighbours entirely simple or harmonious. It
'involved an internal contradiction[172].' It could not but be felt
that while enjoying all the advantages of citizenship, their hearts
were really elsewhere. From all the religious and social side of the
common life, which in the ancient world was far less separable from
the political than it is now, they were sensibly aliens. They were
visibly making the best of two inconsistent positions. And accordingly
the irritation against them in the towns (we have a glimpse of it in
Acts xix. 34) and the ensuing encroachments and riots, form as chronic
a feature of the position, as does their protection by the Empire. But
the causes of irritation went wider and deeper. It has been said that
'the feelings cherished towards the Jews throughout the entire
Graeco-Roman world were not so much those of hatred as of pure
contempt[173].' Their exterior was doubtless unlovely: a Jewry, as M.
Renan reminds us, was perhaps not more attractive in ancient than in
modern times. But what was even more offensive, especially to that
cosmopolitan age, and what struck it as altogether the dominant
characteristic of the Jews, was their stubborn and inhuman perversity.
They would be unlike all the rest of the world. Tacitus has even
formulated this for them as the principle guiding their whole action,
reduced to practice in details which were singularly well fitted to
exhibit its offensiveness[174]. His picture should be read by any one
who wishes to realize how cultivated opinion thought of them: and,
even if evidence were lacking, we can see that this was just the kind
of dislike to be shared by all classes, cultivated and uncultivated
alike. Yet it is against the background of this intense prejudice,
ever more scornful and irritated as it was exasperated by the
incidents of daily contact at close quarters, that we have to paint
the phenomena, as striking and as abundantly testified, of the vast
and penetrating influence of the Jews over their neighbours. These
also lie upon the surface. In very various degrees multitudes (of whom
women doubtless formed a considerable majority) adopted the customs
and brought themselves into connection with the religion of the Jews.
The boasts or claims of Josephus, who refers any sceptical
contemporary to 'his own country or his own family,' are confirmed by
the admissions of classical writers, by the indignant sarcasms
directed against the converts, and by the vivid touches in the Acts of
the Apostles[175]. 'Victi victoribus leges dederunt' is the strong
phrase of Seneca, and it was a very persuasive influence which could
cause it to be said that in Damascus 'nearly the whole female
population was devoted to Judaism': which could give S. Paul's Jewish
opponents in the towns of Greece and Asia Minor the power at one time
of raising the mob, at another of working upon the 'chief' and
'honourable women,' the ladies of the upper classes: or which could
bring 'almost the whole city' together in a provincial town because a
new teacher appears in the Jews' synagogue[176]. This influence had
its results in a considerable number of actual proselytes who through
circumcision received admission, somewhat grudging indeed and guarded,
within the Jewish pale, but still more in a much larger number of
adherents (the 'devout persons,' 'devout Greeks,' &c., of the
Acts[177]) attracted by the doctrines, and acquainted with the
Scriptures of Israel, who formed a fringe of partly leavened Gentile
life round every synagogue.

We hardly need evidence to shew us that to this picture of the
influence of Jew over Gentile, there need to be added another which
will shew how the subtle, persuasive, and powerful culture of the
Graeco-Roman world made itself felt upon the Jews of the Dispersion.
The contrast between the Jews of Palestine and those of the
Dispersion, the translation of the Scriptures into Greek, the rise of
a literature which in different ways tried to recommend what was
Jewish to the heathen or to fuse what was Jewish with what was Greek,
the single figure of Philo at Alexandria, are all evidences of an
influence, which must have told continually with penetrating power on
all that was ablest and most thoughtful in the Jewish mind. It was not
the least considerable result of this that all the great thoughts and
beliefs of Israel learned to talk the language of the civilized world,
and so acquired before the time of Christ an adequate and congenial

Such was the position of Israel at the Christian era. It was one which
had been gradually brought about during the last three centuries B.C.;
but it only came to its full growth in the last few decades (the
Jewish settlement in Rome may date from Pompey's time) under favour of
the imperial policy and the peace of the times: and it was soon to
change; indeed the fall of Jerusalem A.D. 70 altered it within and
without. Thus it stood complete during the half-century in which the
work of founding the Christian Church throughout the Empire was
accomplished, and then passed away. We remark upon it how admirable an
organization it offered for the dissemination of a world-religion,
originated upon Jewish soil. The significance of this, occurring at
the time when such a religion actually appeared, is heightened when we
observe that the position had continued long enough fully to try the
experiment of what by its own forces Judaism could accomplish for the
world. As S. James argued[178] 'Moses had,' now for a long time, in
every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every
Sabbath day'--and it might have so gone on for ever without any
conversion of the Gentile world. That world could never have been
drawn within a system, which, however zealous to make proselytes, had
nothing better to offer to those whom it made than that they might
come in, if they liked, and sit down in the lowest place, tolerated
rather than welcomed, dependents rather than members of an intensely
national community, leaving father and mother and all that they had,
not for a position of spiritual freedom, but for a change of earthly

(2) But we trench upon the second question. What was the nation that
held this position of vantage? What signs are there about it which
suggest a special preparation for a purposed result?

It is one answer to this question to say that this wonderfully placed
people had, alone among the nations, a genuine faith, a genuine hope,
and a genuine charity. They at least, says Seneca, when he complains
of their influence, 'knew the reasons of their customs.' There was a
_raison d'être_ to their religion. In a world which still kept up the
forms of worship and respect for gods whose character and existence
could not stand the criticism of its own best moral and religious
insight, any more than that of its scepticism; or which was framing
for itself thoughts of Deity by intellectual abstraction; or which was
betraying its real ignorance of the very idea of God by worshipping
the two great powers which, as a matter of fact, it knew to be mighty,
Nature and the Roman Empire,--the Jew had a _faith_, distinct,
colossal, and unfailing, in a Living God, Maker of heaven and earth.
This we may be sure was the inner secret of the true attraction which
drew the hearts of such men as Cornelius the centurion to the despised
and repulsive Jew. This God, they further believed, was their God for
ever and ever. 'Let us kneel,' they said, 'before the Lord our Maker,
for He is the Lord our God.' And therefore, let them have gained it
how they may, they had an indomitable _hope_, or rather, confidence,
which all unpropitiousness of outer appearances had only served to
stimulate, that He would bring them through, that He had a purpose for
them, and that He would bring it to pass: that the world was no
mechanical system of meaningless vicissitudes, but an order, of which
indeed they little realized the scope, moving under the hand of a
Ruler for a purpose of glory and beneficence. That the confidence of
the extraordinary destiny which, under this order, was reserved for
Israel, as well as the present possession of the Divine law and
covenant, should have produced an intense sense of unity and
fellowship was a matter of course. The Roman is obliged to recognise
their mutual _charity_, however deformed, as he thinks, by their
antipathy to all who were not of their kindred and faith.

But such an answer to our question, though it brings before us a sign,
and a sign of the very highest, that is of the moral and spiritual,
order, does not perhaps set us at the point from which the whole
meaning of the position opens to us most naturally. It may do this
more effectually to ask whether there was any material in Judaism for
a world-religion, and for that world-religion which grew out of it?

Perhaps if we performed the futile task of trying to imagine a
world-religion, we should, with some generality of consent, define as
its essentials three or four points which it is striking to find were
fundamentals of the religion of Israel, and at that time of no other.
We should require a doctrine of God, lofty, spiritual, moral: a
doctrine of man which should affirm and secure his spiritual being and
his immortality: and a doctrine of the relations between God and man,
which should give reality to prayer and to the belief in providence,
and root man's sense of responsibility in the fact of his obligation
to a righteousness outside and above himself, a doctrine in short of
judgment. It needs no words to shew how the religion of Israel in its
full development not only taught these truths, but gave them the
dignity and importance which belong to the cornerstones of a religion.

But then along with these that religion taught other beliefs as
clearly conceived, which seemed to be of the most opposite character:
just as distinctive and exclusive as the former were universal. It
taught the obligation in every detail of a very stringent written law,
and of a ceremonial and sacrificial system, centred at Jerusalem, and
forming the recognised communication between God and man. It taught a
special election of Israel and covenant of God with Israel, a special
purpose and future for Israel. Nor was the conception of the
participation by other nations in the blessings of Messiah's rule, (to
which we, reading for example the prophecies of Isaiah in the light of
the sequel, cannot but give a dominant place,) more to an Israelite
than a striking incident in a distinctively Israelite glory.

It would seem then, combining these two sides, that there was in
Israel the foundation on which a religion for the world could be laid,
but that it could only be made available under stringent and, as it
might appear, impossible conditions. An attempt to make a religion by
extracting the universal truths in Judaism would have been simply to
desert at once the vantage-ground which it was proposed to occupy,
because it would have conflicted directly with every Jewish instinct,
belief, tradition, and hope. If the thing was to be done, it must be
done by some power and teaching which, while extricating into
clearness all that was truest in the theology and morality of Israel,
was also able to shew to the judgment of plain men and earnest
seekers, that it constituted a true climax of Israel's history, a true
fulfilment of the promises and prophecies which Jews had now made
matters of notoriety everywhere, a true final cause of all the
peculiar and distinctive system of Israel. It must be able to take
Israel to witness, and therefore it must be able to convince men not
only that it had a high theology and a refined morality, but that God
had 'visited His people': and that 'what He had spoken unto the
fathers He had so fulfilled.' It must produce accordingly not only
doctrine, but fact. It must carry on, what was implied in the whole
discipline of Israel, the assertion that truth was not a matter of
speculation, but a word from God; or the knowledge of a dealing of God
with man clothing itself with reality, embodying itself in fact,
making a home for itself in history. It is true that the Judaism of
the synagogue in its idolatry of the law, had assumed the appearance
of a paper system, but in that form it had no promise or power of
expansion: and on the side where the religion of Israel admitted of
development into some higher and wider state, it was distinctly a
religion not of theory or teaching only, but of Divine action
revealing itself in history.

It will not escape any observer of the beginnings of Christianity that
it was precisely this attempt which the Gospel of Jesus made. If we
watch S. Paul speaking to his Gentile audiences at Lystra or Athens,
he brings to bear upon the instincts of his hearers the strong magnet
of a clear and definite Theism. But these addresses themselves
implicitly contain another element: and we must now look to them for
examples of the process, the careful earnest process, by which the
Gospel did its rapid and yet most gradual work of conversion.
Unquestionably, as S. Paul himself affirms, and as the Acts and the
early apologetic writers shew us, it was done by asserting, and making
good the assertion with careful proof and reasoning, that in the
historical appearance and character of Jesus Christ, in His treatment
while on earth, in His resurrection and heavenly exaltation, was to be
found the true, natural, and legitimate fulfilment of that to which
the Scriptures in various ways, direct and indirect, pointed, and of
that which the hope of Israel, slowly fashioned by the Scriptures
under the discipline of experience, had learnt to expect. This could
be pressed home most directly on Jews, but it was available also for
the large prepared class among Gentiles, to whom the pre-existence of
these prophecies and anticipations was known matter of fact, and to
some of whom the Jewish Scriptures had been a personal discipline: the
truth of the Gospel was one 'now made manifest and by the Scriptures
of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God,
made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.' The double
requirement was fulfilled, and a religion, intrinsically universal and
eternal, was seen by spiritually clear-sighted eyes to be in a most
real and organic sense the flower of Israel's stalk.

(3) If it has appeared that in the placing of the nation at the era,
and in its character and belief, there was something much to be
'wondered at,' and, more definitely, something marvellously suited,
not indeed to generate such a religion as that of the Gospel, but to
foster and assist its growth when the seed of Divine fact should be
sown on the prepared soil; then we shall ask, finally, whether there
is anything of like striking significance in the way in which this
state of things had come about? Let us pass by the causes by which the
people of Israel obtained their external position. These, even
including a thing so remarkable as the spontaneous restoration by an
Oriental Empire of a deported people, are not in themselves different
from the ordinary workings of history; though in combination they may
contribute to deepen the impression of a hand fashioning out of many
elements, and in many ways, a single great result. But how had the
Jews come to be what they were? how had they gained the religious
treasure which they possessed, and the tenacity of religious and
national life which played guardian to it? The whole course of
Israel's history must, in one sense, give the answer to this question:
and there are no controversies more difficult or more unsolved than
those which are now raging round the problem of that course, its
origin, stages, and order. But it may be possible to make some
reflections on it without entangling ourselves very much in those

(_a_) At the outset it is impossible not to be struck by the interest
which the Jews themselves felt in the process of their history. That
interest belongs to the very centre of their life and thought. It is
not an offshoot of national vainglory, for (as has been so often
remarked) it resulted in a record full-charged with the incidents of
national failure and defection: it is not the result of a
self-conscious people analysing its own moral and other development,
for though the moral judgment is indeed always at work in the
narratives and the poems, it is more occupied in drawing out the
teaching of recurring sequences of sin and punishment than in framing
a picture of the whole. The result is to lay a picture of development
before us, but the aim is to treasure and record every detail of God's
dealings with the nation of His choice. This is what gives continuity
and unity to the whole: this is what lends to it its intense and
characteristic uniqueness. And when we look steadily at this, we
perceive afresh, what familiarity almost conceals from us, the
distinctive quality of Israel's religion; that it is not a system of
teaching, nor a tradition of worship, nor a personal discipline,
though it may include all these; but that it is in itself a belief in
the working of God, Who is the God of all the earth, but specially the
God of Israel, and Who works indeed everywhere, but in an altogether
special sense in Israel. In reflecting on their history they
contemplate the object of their faith. Hence truth is to them not a
philosophic acquisition, but lies in the words which had come from God
faithfully treasured and received: it is _revealed_ in word and act:
goodness, in man or nation, is the faithful adherence to those
conditions, under which the good purpose of God can work itself out
and take effect: it is a correspondence to a purpose of _grace_: and
the centre and depositary of their hope is neither the human race, nor
any association for moral and religious effort, but an organism raised
by Him who raises all the organisms of nature from a chosen seed, and
drawn onwards through the stages by which family passes into nation
and kingdom, and then through that higher discipline by which the
natural commonwealth changes into the spiritual community of the
faithful 'remnant.' If any one will try to realize the impression
which Christianity made upon the heathen world, he will not fail to
see how the new truth was able to impress men because it found these
conceptions of revelation, grace, and an organic society of God's
choice and shaping, all so strange and so impressive to the heathen
world, ingrained as the natural elements of religion in the men whom
it made its instruments.

But why did the Jews so regard their history? For the answer we may
revert to the other question, What made them what they were at the
Christian era? For they had gone through a crisis calculated to
destroy both their existence and their religion. It has been in
fashion with some writers to emphasize the resemblances, and minimize
the differences, between the religion of Israel and that of its
neighbours. In view of this it becomes important to note the specific
peril of ancient religions. That peril was that the close association
of the nation with its god caused the failure of the one to appear a
failure of the other, and to endanger or destroy the respect paid to
him. The religion of a subdued or ruined people was, as we may say, a
demonstrated failure. Sennacherib's defiance of Hezekiah urges this
with a conqueror's irony[179]. The case of the Ten Tribes had,
probably, given an illustration of it within the circle of Israel
itself. And in Judah, upon any shewing, there was enough of the
feeling that Jehovah was responsible for His people, of the conviction
that He would certainly protect His own, of the confidence resting on
prosperity and liable to be shaken by its loss, to make the downfall
of the state, carrying with it that of the Temple and the outer order
of religion, an enormous peril to the religion itself and with it to
the very existence of Israel. It is not difficult to discern the
agency by which the peril was averted. That agency was Prophecy.
Modern criticism, though it may quarrel with the inspiration or
predictive power of the prophets, has given fresh and unbiassed
witness to their importance as an historical phenomenon. Kuenen[180],
for example, points out how at every turning-point in Israel's later
history there stands a man who claims to bring a word of God to the
people. Prof. Huxley[181], in a recent article, has told us that 'a
vigorous minority of Babylonian Jews,' that is, the Jews upon whom the
full forces of prophecy bore, 'created the first consistent,
remorseless, naked Monotheism, which, so far as history records,
appeared in the world ... and they inseparably united therewith an
ethical code, which, for its purity and its efficiency as a bond of
social life, was, and is, unsurpassed.' Of whatever fact may underlie
this description, the prophets are at once evidence and authors.

Now prophecy confronted the impending peril in the name of Jehovah: on
the one side it displayed the enemy (whether as by Isaiah it
prescribed a bound to his advance, or as by Jeremiah announced the
catastrophe to be wrought by him) as himself utterly in Jehovah's
hands, His axe or saw for discipline upon the trees of the forest; on
the other side it shewed that Jehovah's obligation to Israel was
conditioned by His essential righteousness; that national disaster
might be Jehovah's necessary vengeance, and that His purpose for
Israel--which it re-asserted with fullest emphasis--might need to be
realized for an Israel purified by such discipline, a shoot from the
stock of the felled tree, the remnant of an 'afflicted and poor
people[182].' And prophecy was beforehand with all this: it was not an
afterthought to explain away a calamity: and so it fashioned in Israel
at least a core of spiritual faith, to which outward disaster of
polity and religion, however destructive, was not confounding, and
which had stamina enough in it to draw wholesome though bitter
nourishment from the hard Captivity discipline. This, when the flood
came, was an ark for Israel's religion, and, in its religion, for the
national life, which re-organized itself under new conditions round
the nucleus of the religion.

Thus, at the crisis and hinge of the historical development which
issued in the wonderfully placed and constituted Israel of Christ's
time, and which was crowned by the New Religion, we find this agency,
which in itself would arrest our wonder. The more we look at it, the
more wonderful it is. Every suggestion of comparison with heathen
oracles, divination and the rest, can only bring out with more vivid
effect the contrast and difference between it and all such things. It
claims by the mouth of men transparently earnest and honest, to speak
from God. It brings with it the highest credentials, moral, spiritual,
historical: _moral_, for it spends what at first sight seems all its
strength in the intrepid and scathing rebuke of the evils immediately
round it, especially in the high places of society, against the lust,
cruelty, avarice, frivolity, insolence, foul worships, which it found
so rankly abundant: _spiritual_, for it speaks the language of an
absolutely unworldly faith, and accomplishes a great spiritual work,
such as we can hardly over-estimate, unless indeed with Prof. Huxley
we distort its proportions so as to prejudice the earlier religion
from which it sprang or the Christianity to which it contributed:
_historical_, because occurring at the very crisis of Israel's history
(750-550), it gained credence and authority from the witness of
events, and dealt with an emergency of the most perilous and
bewildering kind, as not the most skilful opportunist could have dealt
with it, by a use, as sublime as simple, of the principles of
righteousness and faith. If we compare what the prophets did for their
contemporaries and what they did for the future of Israel and the
world, and see that this was done, not by two sets of utterances
working two different ways, but by a single blended strain of
prophecy, we gain a double impression, of which the twofold force is
astonishing indeed. It is gained without pressing their claim to
predictive power, at least beyond the horizons of their own period.
But it is impossible for any careful and candid reader of the words of
the prophets to stop there, and not to feel that there is another
element in them, not contained in a passage here and there but for
ever reappearing, interwoven with the rest, and evidently felt by the
prophets themselves to be in some sense necessary for the vindication
and completion of their whole teaching. It is an element of
anticipation and foresight. We see that this is so, and we see in part
the method of it. It is bound up with, it springs out of, all that is
spiritually and morally greatest in the prophets. Their marvellous,
clear-sighted, steady certainty that the Lord who sitteth above rules
all, that He is holy, and that unrighteousness in man or nations
cannot prevail; their insight piercing through the surface of history
to underlying laws of providential order; the strange conviction or
consciousness, felt throughout the nation but centring in the
prophets, that this God had a purpose for Israel:--these deep things,
which, however they came and whatever we think of them, make Israel's
distinctive and peculiar glory, were accompanied by, and issued in,
anticipations of a future which would vindicate and respond to them.
Just as the belief in a future life for God's children was not taught
as a set doctrine to the Jews, but grew with the growth of their
knowledge of the Living and Holy God, and of man's relation as a
spiritual being to Him, so with the predictions of which we speak. As
it was given to the prophets to realize the great spiritual truths of
present because eternal moment which they taught, it was given to them
also to discern that these truths pointed to a future which should
bring them vindication. The cloudy time of trial and confusion would
one day come to a close; the Sun whose rays they caught would one day
shine out; the partial and passing deliverances in which they taught
men to see God's hand must one day issue in a deliverance of deeper
moment, of lasting and adequate significance; there would be an
unbaring of God's arm, a manifesting of His power to decide, to
justify, to condemn, and it would be seen in some final form why and
how Israel was, in a distinctive sense, the people of the God of the
whole earth; that union between God and His people, of which the
prophets were themselves mediators and which was so miserably
imperfect and so constantly broken, would one day be complete; and,
finally, even the very instruments which He was using in the present,
the Anointed King, the chosen Royal House, the Prophet-Servant of God,
the holy hill of Zion, were charged with a meaning of which the
significance was only in the future to become clear. Thus, in this
free, deep, spiritual--let us say it out, inspired--manner the
predictions of prophecy emerge and gather shape. Thus among the people
which was most conservative and jealous of its own religious
privilege, the promise most deeply cherished was one in which all
nations of the earth should be blessed, and there is heard the strange
announcement of a 'new covenant.' Thus it comes about that the most
satisfying and satisfied of all religions becomes the one which, in
its deepest meaning, in the minds of its most faithful followers,
strains forward most completely beyond itself. Thus, as it has been
said, 'Prophecy takes off its crown and lays it at the feet of One who
is to be.' Thus a people who have become intensely and inexorably
monotheistic and to whom the Deity becomes more and more remote in
awful majesty so that they do not dare to name His Name, carry down
with them Scriptures which discover the strange vision of a human King
with Divine attributes and strain towards some manifestation of God in
present nearness. Thus amidst the pictures in which, with every
varying detail, using the scenery, the personages, the nations, the
ideas of its own day, the instinct of prophetic anticipation finds
expression, there emerges, with gradually gathering strength, a
definite Hope, and some clear lineaments of that which is to be.

For, be it observed, at this point interpretation, declaring what the
prophets seem to us to-day to mean, passes into and gives way to
historical fact. The most sceptical cannot deny either that the words
in which the prophets spoke of the future, did as a matter of fact
crystallize into a hope, a hope such as has no parallel in history,
and of which distorted rumours were able to stir and interest the
heathen world: or that they were, long before the time of Jesus,
interpreted as sketching features, some general and shadowy, some
curiously distinct and particular, of Messiah's work and kingdom.

And then, face to face with this, stands another fact as confessedly
historical. For, 'in the fulness of the time,' it did appear to men of
many kinds who had the books in their hands, men with every reason for
judging seriously and critically, and in most cases with the strongest
prejudice in favour of an adverse judgment, that these prophecies were
fulfilled in a King and a Kingdom such as they never dreamt of till
they saw them. It would be a strange chapter in the history of
delusion, if there were no more to add. But there is to add, first,
that the King and the Kingdom whereto, (in no small part upon the
seeming perilous ground of this correspondence with prophecy,) these
men gave their faith, have proved to win such a spiritual empire as
they claimed: and, further, that men like ourselves, judging at the
cool distance of two thousand years, are unable to deny that in the
truest sense of 'fulfilment,' as it would be judged by a religious
mind, Jesus and His Kingdom do 'fulfil the prophets,' fulfil their
assertion of a unique religious destiny for Israel by which the
nations were to profit, of a time when the righteousness of God should
be revealed for the discomfiture of pride and sin and for the help of
the meek, of a nearer dwelling of God with His people, of a new
covenant, and of the lasting reign of a perfect Ruler.

To some minds it may weaken, but to others it will certainly
intensify, the impression thus created, if they are asked to observe
that now and again there occur in the Jewish Scriptures words,
passages, events, in which with startling distinctness, independence,
and minuteness there stand forth features of what was to be. It is as
if the anticipation which fills the air with glow focussed itself here
and there in sparkling points of light which form and flash and fade
away again. We may confidently assert that in the case of such
passages as the 22nd and 110th Psalms or the 9th and 53rd Chapters of
Isaiah the harder task is for him who will deny, than for him who will
assert, a direct correspondence between prediction and fulfilment. If
they stood alone, general scientific considerations might make it
necessary to undertake the harder task. Standing out as they do from
such a context and background as has been here indicated, the
interpretation which sees in them the work of a Divine providence
shaping out a 'sign' for the purpose which in each Christian age, and
especially in the first, it has actually subserved, is the
interpretation which is truest to all the facts. They are the special
self-betrayal of a power which is at work throughout, of which the
spiritual ear hears the sound, though we are often unable distinctly
to see the footprints.

It seems then impossible, upon such a view of the phenomena of
prophecy as has been here roughly and insufficiently indicated, to
deny that whatever appearance of preparation we may discern in the
condition outward and inward of the Jews in the time of Christ, is
strongly corroborated by a like appearance of preparation in the
process by which they had become what they were.

(_b_) We have selected out of all the foregoing history the epoch and
the influence of the prophets for several reasons. They preside over
the most critical period of Israel's history. They seem to bring to
most pronounced expression the spirit and character which pervades the
whole of that history. They are known to us through their own
writings: and we are therefore on ground where (comparatively
speaking) the premises are uncontroverted. And as it is the fashion
perhaps to discredit the argument of prophecy--partly, no doubt, on
account of the technical form in which it was ordinarily presented--it
is important to re-assert that in all its main strength that argument
holds its ground, reinforced indeed, as we think, by the increased
power to apprehend its breadth and solidity which our more
historically trained modern minds should have gained. But selection of
what is most salient should imply no neglect of the rest; and the
argument, or view of the facts,--which has here for clearness sake
been abbreviated, and mainly centralized upon the work and
implications of prophecy,--can be deepened as the drift of the great
lines of Israel's discipline is more deeply realized. Thus, for
example, little or nothing has been here said of the Law. Yet, without
foreclosing any discussion as to its sources and development, we can
see that the law of God was a factor in every stage of Israel's
history, and that in the making of the prepared Israel of Christ's
time, the law in its fullest and most developed shape was, and had
been for ages, a paramount influence. No influence more concentrated
and potent can be found in history. And to see the deepest drift of it
we have no need to speculate on what might have been, or was sure to
be. Historical documents point us to what was. The Epistles to the
Romans and the Galatians, and the Epistle to the Hebrews, lay open
respectively two ways of its working. On the one side it appears as a
great witness for righteousness. Men were schooled to live under a
sense of peremptory obligation; to comply scrupulously, exactly,
submissively with an unquestioned authority. This sense and temper is
liable to great abuse: it lends itself when abused to a mechanical
morality, to a morbid casuistry, to the complacency of an external
perfectness. It was so abused very widely among the Jews. But it is
nevertheless an indispensable factor in a true morality, to which it
lends the special power of command: and in Israel it conferred this
power because it connected obligation with the will of a righteous
God. This is expressed in the repeated sanction 'I am the Lord your
God,' following precept after precept of the law, and in the summary
claim 'Be ye holy, for I am holy.' Evidently here there is that which
transcends all mechanical schemes of obedience; there is an infinite
standard. As such it pointed and impelled onwards towards the true
religion in which faith and holiness should be entirely at one. As
such meanwhile it stimulated and dismayed the deeper spirits:
stimulating them by the loftiness of its demand, dismaying them by the
proved impossibility of that perfect compliance which alone was
compliance at all. Thus the foundations were laid of a temper at once
robust and humble, confident and diffident; though they were laid upon
a contradiction which the law had in itself no power to resolve. There
was indeed (here we take up the guidance of the Epistle to the
Hebrews) one part of the law which acknowledged that contradiction,
which half promised to resolve it, but having no real power to do so,
could only shape and deepen the demand for some solution. This was, of
course, the sacrificial system. The sacrificial system opens up quite
other thoughts from those of strict demand and strict obedience. It
points to quite another side of religious and moral development. Yet
it starts from the same truth of a Holy God Who requires, and inasmuch
as He is holy must require, a perfect obedience. Only it acknowledges
the inevitable fact of disobedience. It embodies the sense of need. It
appeals to, and as part of the Divine law it reveals, a quality in the
Supreme Goodness which can go beyond commanding and condemning, to
forgive and reconcile. It creates in a word the spirit of humility,
and it feels, at the least, after a God of love.

What a profound preparation there is in this for the life which Christ
blessed in the Beatitudes and inaugurated by all that He was and did,
and for the truth of the Divine being and character which was set
forth in Him. Yet the law only prepared for this, and made the demand
which this met. It made no answer to its own demand. It could not
reconcile its own severity, and its own hopes of mercy: its apparatus
of sacrifice was in itself absolutely and obviously insufficient for
any solution of the contradiction. It was a marvellous discipline
which, while it trained its people so far, demanded the more urgently
something which all its training could never give nor reach.

(_c_) The work of prophecy and the work of the law was also (if we can
distinguish causes which were so much affected by one another) the
work of history. To the work of the prophets, indeed, the history of
both the past and the succeeding times was essential, the former to
supply their work with a standing ground, the latter to engrain its
teaching into the life of the nation. We look back, and we ask, What
gave the prophets their advantage, what was the fulcrum of their
lever? Trained to observe the processes of religious evolution, we
must refuse to believe with Professor Huxley that a lofty monotheism
and a noble morality sprang out of the ground among a 'minority of
Babylonian Jews.' But we shall be prepared to find that the
rudimentary stages differ much from the mature. The beginnings of
life, as we know them, are laid in darkness: they emerge crude and
childish: the physical and outward almost conceals the germ of
spiritual and rational being which nevertheless is the self, and which
will increasingly assert itself and rule. It may be so with that
organism which God was to make the shrine of His Incarnation. We may
have to learn that the beginnings of Israel are more obscure, more
elementary, less distinctive from surrounding religions, than we had
supposed. We need not fear to be as bold as Amos in recognising that
what was in one aspect the unique calling of God's Son out of
Egypt[183] was in another but one among the Divinely ruled processes
of history, such as brought up the Philistines from Caphtor and the
Syrians from Kir[184]. We need not be more afraid than Ezekiel to say
that the peculiar people were an offshoot (if so it should be) of
natural stocks, with the Amorite for father and the Hittite for
mother[185]. But all this will hardly take from us that sense of
continuous shaping of a thing towards a Divine event which has always
been among the supports of faith. We shall see that the prophetic
appeals imply a past, and that their whole force lies in what they
assume, and only recal to their hearers; the special possession of
Israel by Jehovah, His selection of them for His own, His deliverances
of them from Egypt and onwards, giving the earnest of a future purpose
for which they were preserved, and for which His definite promises
were committed to them, to the seed of Abraham, the house of Israel,
the line of David. These things the prophets imply, standing upon
these they speak with all the force of those who need only bid the
people to realize and to remember, or at most to receive from God some
fresh confirmation and enlargement of their hopes[186].

Or again, from the work of the prophets we look forward, and when we
have recovered from our surprise at seeing that a dreary interval of
five centuries separates the Evangelical prophecy, which seemed so
ready for the flower of the Gospel, from the time of its blooming, we
discern how the processes of that interval were utilized in realizing,
ingraining, diffusing the great truths of prophetic teaching. The
return without a monarchy and under an ecclesiastical governor, and
the dispersion through many lands, necessitated in act that
transformation of the political into the spiritual polity, almost of
the nation into the Church, of which Isaiah's work was the germ. The
institution of the synagogues, which belongs to this time and in which
public worship was detached from all local associations and from the
ancient forms of material sacrifice, was, as it were, the spiritual
organ of the new ubiquitous cosmopolitan Jewish life. Yet
contemporaneously the centralizing influences gained strength. The
conservative work of Ezra and of the Scribes and Rabbis at whose head
he stands, gathered up and preserved the treasures which gave a
consciously spiritual character to Israel's national loyalty; and
guarded with the hedge of a scrupulous literalism, what needed some
such defence to secure it against the perils implied in being carried
wide over the world. By the resistance in Palestine under Syrian rule
to Hellenizing insolence, and in the Dispersion to the fascinations
and pleasures of Hellenizing culture, and by the great Maccabean
struggle, the nation was identified with religious earnestness and
zeal in a way of which we only see the caricature and distortion in
the Pharisaism which our Lord denounced.

Thus, if we compare our Lord's time with the great age of prophecy, we
see how much has been acquired. Time has been given for the prophetic
influences to work. There has been loss, but there has also been gain.
That conscious, explicit, and magnificently uncompromising Monotheism,
which in the mouth of the Evangelical prophet was quivering with the
glow and passion of freshly inspired realization, has by 'the end of
the age' had time to bring everything in the sphere of religion under
its influence. It had discovered its points of contact with the
highest aspirations of the Greek thought which on intellectual lines
felt its way towards God. And it had unfolded its own corollaries: it
had drawn along with it the great spiritual truths which cohere with
the belief in one Living and True God: and Israel in the Pharisee
epoch had passed, we hardly know how, into secure if not undisputed
possession of the belief in a future life, in a world of spirits, and
in the spiritual character of prayer.

But there was another and more direct manner, in which the work of
history interlaced with what we have indicated as the work of the law.
In the formation of the temper of chastened confidence which is so
characteristic of later Israel, a part must evidently be given to the
discipline of national experience saddened by departed glory, and with
the shadows thickening over it. Just as we can see that the
populations of the Empire were in a sense more ready to learn of
Christ than the young self-reliant Greeks of Sparta or Athens could
have been, so we can see in such language as that of the 119th Psalm
or of the 9th chapter of Daniel a temper to which the meek and lowly
Christ would make an appeal which might have been lost upon the rough
times of the judges or the prosperous age of the monarchy. Old age has
come and with it the wisdom of a chastened spirit. This is not
difficult to see, and it is important to take it into account. It
means that the comparatively normal discipline of life has brought
with it (as doubtless it is meant to do alike in personal and national
life) a spiritual gain. But it is important to see how much of the
process and the effect remains unexplained. The chastening is obvious,
but whence the confidence?

It is in some far less normal cause, in something which seems
distinctive of Israel, that we have to find the adequate explanation
of the whole result. We have to ask (as Pascal so keenly felt[187])
why a nation records its failures and misfortunes as being
chastisements of wilful, repeated, and disgraceful fault, and then
jealously guards the record as its most cherished possession. It would
be easy to suggest that there is in this an egotism clothing itself in
humility: and to point out that this egotism would explain the
confidence which still looked forward to the future, which anticipated
greatness for an 'afflicted and poor people,' and a blessing to all
the nations of the earth from its own history. Only this is just to
slur the difficulty, and under the invidious word 'egotism' to
disguise that wonderful instinct of a destiny and a mission which is
so strangely unlike egotism, and which allowed, or even produced, in
so profound a form the self-condemnation which egotism refuses.

Doubtless the effects of these preparing forces were felt, and their
meanings discerned, only by a few. Not only were they 'not all Israel
that were of Israel,' but the bulk of the nation and its
representative and official leaders were blind. They were off the way,
down the false tracks of literalist Rabbinism, or of one-sided Essene
asceticism, or of earthly visions of a restored kingdom, or (as in
Alexandria) of a philosophized Judaism. The issues were the
crucifixion of the Lord, and all which Judaism, without and within the
Church, did to extinguish the Gospel and persecute its followers in
its first age. It is right to refer to this, but there are probably
few to whom it would cause any difficulty. To the observer of the
world's history it is a common sight that the true issues and the
distinctive work of a people is worked out not by the many or by the
prominent, but by the few, and often the obscure. To the student of
Jewish history that which has made Israel what it is in
world-significance appears throughout the course of its history as a
gold thread running through a web of very different texture. It can be
no surprise that the end should be of a piece with the rest. There, in
a climax of sharpest contrast, we see the antithesis which marks the
history throughout. The training issues in a S. Mary, a Simeon, in
those who 'waited for the consolation of Israel' on the one side, and
in the 'Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,' on the other. The natural
issue of Israel's life and tendencies is seen in the cold and sterile
impotence which, because it is the 'corruption of the best,' is the
most irreversible spiritual ruin; while beside and amidst this there
was fashioned by a grace and power above nature, though in a perfectly
natural way, the true Israel which realize all that 'Israel according
to the flesh' professed yet betrayed, guarded yet obscured. And if we
have at all rightly discerned as a principle of Divine preparation
that it should be negative as well as positive, and should demonstrate
to the world before Christ was given, how little the world's own
wisdom or effort could supply His place: we shall not wonder that time
was thus given for Israel to try out as it were its second experiment,
and to shew that by its selfishness and arrogance, by its
'carnalness,' it could warp and distort its later spiritual
constitution, even more than its former temporal one, out of all
likeness of what God would have it be. 'The last state of the man' was
'worse than the first[188].'

But the observation of these predominant currents and forms of Jewish
life and thought and religion has this further value, that it shews
the variety, the energy, and the unlikeness to one another of the
tendencies present in Israel. They emphasize the fact that the history
of Israel was in no sense working itself out towards the _production_
by its own forces of the true religion which went forth from the midst
of it. They remind us how intractable the problem of finding by human
ingenuity the solution which could harmonize in one issue elements so
powerful and so alien from each other; which with a perfect spiritual
liberty could combine an assertion of the permanent value of the law;
which with no withdrawal from and despair of the world could secure
all that was sought by Essene purity and self-denial; which, itself
utterly unworldly, could satisfy the idea of a restored monarchy and a
glory for Israel; which while bringing no philosophy could achieve
what Jewish philosophizing had desired, in a capture of the world's
reason by Jewish truth.

III. In the last words we touch that with which this essay may perhaps
fitly end. If its drift has been in any sense true, there stands
before us, as perhaps the most striking feature of the whole
situation, the co-existence of the two preparations, the one general,
indirect, contributory, and consisting only in an impressive
convergence and centering of the lines of ordinary historical
sequences; the other special, directly introductory, and characterized
by the presence of a distinctive power, call it what we may, a genius
for religion, or more truly and adequately a special grace of the
Spirit of God, which is new and above ordinary experience, even as
life is when it enters the rest of nature, and reason is when it
appears in the world of life. The two preparations pursue their course
unconscious of one another, almost exclusive of one another. Greek
wisdom and Roman power have no dream of coming to receive from the
narrow national cult of humbled and subject Israel. And Israel, even
taught by the great prophets, could hardly find a place in her vision
of the future for any destiny of the nations of the world. To this
antagonism, or more strictly this ignoring of one another, there are
exceptions, exceptions of the kind which emphasize the character of
the situation which they hardly modify. Two streams of such force and
volume as those of Jewish religion and classical life or culture could
not touch and leave one another altogether uninfluenced, though the
influence was characteristically different. On the side of the world
the spiritual needs of individuals caused numbers, not inconsiderable,
to receive influences which made them ready to act as seeding ground
and ferment for the Gospel. On the side of Israel, the strong sense of
mission and of truth made the contact with Greek culture suggest the
ambition to use it as a great instrument, to teach it to acknowledge
and witness to the God of Israel, who was God of the whole earth: and
the results, in the Greek of the Septuagint and in the Helleno-Judaic
writings of Alexandria and elsewhere, were invaluable in fashioning
language and thought for Christ's service. But all the more
distinctly, in the first case, does the antagonism, the gulf fixed,
the mutual aversion, the impossibility humanly speaking of fusion
between Jew and Gentile come out before our eyes. And, in the second
case, the unreal romancings of the Sibylline works, the apparently
isolated work of Philo, and the opportunism of a politician like
Josephus, have all the character of hybrids, and shew no sign of the
vital fusion by which out of a great wedlock a new thing comes to be.

The two preparations stand apart: they go their own way. There is
indeed in them a strange parallelism of common human experience and
human need. Both have tried their experiments, made their ventures,
won their successes, gone through their disciplines of disenchantment
and failure. Both are conscious of the dying of life: in Israel there
is 'no prophet more'; outside it philosophy has not the creativeness
and energy of youth but the quiet acquiescence and mild prudence of
age, and life, public and private, is without adequate scope or aim.
In both the 'tendencies towards' a Gospel are as far as possible from
making a 'tendency to produce' one. In both there is the same desire
for which the Jew alone can find conscious expression: it is 'Quicken
me!' Both need life. Both have no help in themselves. But in the lines
which they follow and the hopes which they frame there is neither
likeness nor compatibility. 'The Greeks seek after wisdom[189].' The
intellect, and those who are distinctively men of the intellect, can
hardly imagine human advance otherwise than in terms of the intellect.
Philosophy conceives of it as a conquest of philosophical result, or
even as an increase of philosophical material. It is the pain of an
advanced and critical time, like that of which we speak, to feel this,
and yet to feel that the experiments of speculation have gone far
enough to shew that by none of their alternative ways can there be any
way out to the peace of certain truth. And yet it seems that, without
abdication of reason, there is no possibility of going any other way:
the Greeks (and in this sense all the world was Greek) could only look
for what they wanted in the form of a new philosophy.

But 'the Jews require a sign.' Totally different, but equally
exclusive, were the conditions under which the Jew could conceive of a
new epoch. The dread of exhausted resources did not haunt him, for he
looked not to human capacity but to Divine gift and interposition. But
he thought that he knew the form in which such interposition would
come; it was not to be primarily a teaching, (it is the Samaritan and
not the Jew who is recorded as expecting in Messiah one who, 'when He
is come, will tell us all things[190]'); it must appear in action,
'with observation[191],' with pomp and scenic display, with signs, and
signs which, in a very visible and tangible sense, should seem to be
from heaven[192], in particular with circumstances of triumph and
conquest, and with an exaltation of Israel to the glories of her
monarchy many times enlarged.

Such are the demands; the things sought and needed; the conditions
prescribed; definite, severally uncompromising, mutually unlike, and
even conflicting. And then from out of Israel, without moral or
political earthquake, without overwhelming display of supernatural
force, nay even, to a superficial eye, with all the appearance of
weakness and failure, without any rescue for Israel, with no attempt
to present itself in philosophical form, with none of the strain and
elaboration of a conscious effort to combine many in one, but rather
with a paradoxical and offending 'simplicity' and 'foolishness' of
mere assertion:--there comes forth a Thing in which on the one side
Jews--whom we all recognise to be the best Jews, Jews in the truest
and deepest sense--find the whole spirit and meaning, even down to its
detail, of the life and the hope of Israel summed up and fulfilled;
which left them no sense of disappointment, but rather a consciousness
of having had hopes only too narrow and low; which gave them the
exulting sense of 'reigning as kings,' with a 'King of Israel': while
on the other side this same Thing was felt by 'Greeks' as a 'wisdom'
flooding their reasons with a light of truth and wisdom (_sophia_),
which met the search of philosophy (_philo-sophia_)[193], but also in
simple and wise alike drew forth and ministered to needs which
philosophy had but half seen and wholly failed to satisfy, enabling
conscience to be candid and yet at peace, building up a new
cosmopolitan fellowship, and restoring to human life dignity and
value, not only in phrase and theory, but in truth. 'There came forth
a Thing,' or rather there came forth One, in Whom all this was done.
The question rises, 'Whom say we that He is?' And though the answer
must be reached in different ways by different men, and the witness to
Him in Whom is the sum of all, must needs be of many kinds; yet the
convergence of many lines (as we have been permitted to trace it) to
One in whom they are all combined and yet transcended, to One whom
they can usher in but were powerless to produce, may be no slight
corroboration of the answer which was accepted, as we have to
remember, by the lowly Jesus with significant solemnity: 'Thou art the
Christ,' the Fulfiller of all high and inspired Jewish hope; 'the Son
of the Living God[194],' His Son,--as the Son of Man, in whom all that
is human reaches fulness; and as the Son of God, who brings down to
man what he has been allowed to prove to himself that he cannot
discover or create.

[150] S. Matt. xiii. 52; v. 17.

[151] S. Matt. xxi. 33-38.

[152] S. Matt. v. 12; xxiii. 30-37.

[153] S. Mark xiv. 49; S. Luke xxii. 37.

[154] S. Luke xxiv. 25, 26, 44.

[155] Gal. iv. 9.

[156] Rom. xvi. 26. So the pages of the early apologists are to our
feeling almost cumbered by the profuseness of their appeal to these

[157] S. John i. 1, 14, 9, 10.

[158] _Ep._ cii. 12.

[159] _De Carne Christi_ vi. Eum Christum qui jam tunc et adloqui ...
humanum genus ediscebat in carnis habitu: cp. _adv. Prax._ xvi.
ediscebat Deus in terris cum hominibus conversari.

[160] S. Matt. xi. 4, 5; xii. 39; xvi. 3.

[161] Hdt. i. 142.

[162] Clem. Alex. _Protrept._ cx. init.

[163] 1 Cor. i. 21.

[164] Wordsworth, _Excursion_ iv.

[165] Ἀταραξία (Epicurean): αὐτάρκεια.

[166] The words 'era of Christianity' are used intentionally rather
than the more precise 'era of Christ,' because anything which (without
being influenced unless in the most impalpable way by Christianity)
prepared the world through the first and even the second century of
the era to receive the Gospel may be fairly included as preparation
for the revelation of Christ.

[167] Capes, _Age of Antonines_.

[168] _Philosophy of the Greeks: Eclectics_, p. 20 (tr. Alleyne).

[169] _Gospel of the Resurrection_ (3rd ed.), p. 72. It is interesting
to notice that according to so dispassionate an observer as M. Gaston
Boissier (_La Religion Romaine d'Auguste aux Antonins_), who has done
so much to trace the better tendencies of the Imperial period, the
evidence suggests some such distinction, even as regards some of the
main practical results of Christianity. For example, there was a
tendency to ameliorate slavery on principles of general humanity, but
there was no hint of a possibility of an end to slavery. There were
some signs of mutual interest between classes, but no progress towards
the effective appearance of a true philanthropy such as the Christian.
In such cases, however, the validity of the distinctions must be
debatable and fluctuating. It is absolute as regards the Incarnation.

[170] Bk. V. c. xi. _The New Monarchy._

[171] Edersheim's _Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah_: Schürer,
_History of the Jewish People in the time of Jesus Christ_.

[172] Schürer, II. ii. 273.

[173] Schürer, II. ii. 297.

[174] Tac. _Hist._ v. 4.

[175] Schürer, II. ii. 308.

[176] Acts xvii. 5, xiv. 5, xiii. 50, 44.

[177] Acts xiii. 43, &c.

[178] Acts xv. 21.

[179] Isaiah xxxvi. 18.

[180] _Hibbert Lectures_, 1882, p. 231.

[181] _Nineteenth Century_, April, 1886.

[182] Isaiah x. 15; xi. 1; Zeph. iii. 12.

[183] Hosea xi. 1.

[184] Amos ix. 7.

[185] Ezekiel xvi. 3.

[186] It is interesting to note that, according to the record
preserved by Israel of their own history, that which Kuenen says of
later time,--that 'at each turning-point of the history stands a man
who claims to bring a word from God.'--is exactly true of the older
history too; Abraham, Moses, Samuel, David, are all in this sense
prophets. Yet there is no appearance of a later age forming a past in
its own likeness. The prophets do not imagine an earlier row of
prophets like themselves, put in like the portraits of the early
Scottish kings at Holyrood, to fill the blanks of history. The early
figures are not cut to prophetic pattern; they have each their
distinct individuality of character and office, only they have a unity
of Divine commission and service.

[187] _Pensées_, ii, 7 § 2.

[188] S. Matt. xii 45. It should be observed that the words were
spoken of 'this wicked generation.'

[189] 1 Cor. i. 22.

[190] S. John iv. 25.

[191] S. Luke xvii. 20.

[192] S. Matt. xii. 38; S. John vi. 30, 31, in each case following
some of our Lord's own signs.

[193] This comes before us vividly in Justin Martyr's account of his
own conversion. _Dial. c. Tryph._ 3 ff. 'Thus and for this reason I am
a philosopher.'

[194] S. Matt. xvi. 16.




I. The last few years have witnessed the gradual acceptance by
Christian thinkers of the great scientific generalization of our age,
which is briefly, if somewhat vaguely, described as the Theory of
Evolution. History has repeated itself, and another of the
'oppositions of science' to theology has proved upon inquiry to be no
opposition at all. Such oppositions and reconciliations are older than
Christianity, and are part of what is often called the dialectical
movement; the movement, that is to say, by question and answer, out of
which all progress comes. But the result of such a process is
something more than the mere repetition of a twice-told tale. It is an
advance in our theological thinking; a definite increase of insight; a
fresh and fuller appreciation of those 'many ways' in which 'God
fulfils Himself.' For great scientific discoveries, like the
heliocentric astronomy, are not merely new facts to be assimilated;
they involve new ways of looking at things. And this has been
pre-eminently the case with the law of evolution; which, once
observed, has rapidly extended to every department of thought and
history, and altered our attitude towards all knowledge. Organisms,
nations, languages, institutions, customs, creeds, have all come to be
regarded in the light of their development, and we feel that to
understand what a thing really is, we must examine how it came to be.
Evolution is in the air. It is the category of the age; a 'partus
temporis'; a necessary consequence of our wider field of comparison.
We cannot place ourselves outside it, or limit the scope of its
operation. And our religious opinions, like all things else that have
come down on the current of development, must justify their existence
by an appeal to the past.

It is the object of the following pages to consider what popular
misconceptions of the central doctrine of our religion, the
Incarnation, have been remedied; what more or less forgotten aspects
of it have been restored to their due place; what new lights have been
thrown upon the fulness of its meaning, in the course of our
discussion of the various views of evolution.

In face of the historical spirit of the age, the study of past
theology can never again be regarded as merely a piece of religious
antiquarianism. And there are two classes of mind to which it should
be of especial service. Many an earnest worker in the Christian cause,
conscious how little the refinements of philosophy can influence for
good or evil the majority of men, and generously impatient of all
labour wasted, when the labourers are so few, is apt to under-estimate
what he considers the less practical departments of theology;
forgetful that there are souls, and those among the noblest, to whom
the primary avenue of access is the intellect, and who can only be led
homeward by the illuminative way. The Christian of this type may be
materially helped towards welcoming wider views, by being convinced
that what he has been too easily apt to regard as metaphysical
subtleties, or as dangerous innovations, or as questionable
accommodations of the Gospel to the exigencies of passing controversy,
are after all an integral part of the great Catholic tradition. On the
other hand, many plausible attacks upon the Christian creed are due to
the inadequate methods of its professed interpreters. Fragments of
doctrine, torn from their context and deprived of their due
proportions, are brandished in the eyes of men by well-meaning but
ignorant apologists as containing the sum total of the Christian
faith, with the lamentable consequence that even earnest seekers after
truth, and much more its unearnest and merely factious adversaries,
mislead themselves and others into thinking Christianity discredited,
when in reality they have all along been only criticising its
caricature. Such men need reminding that Christianity is greater than
its isolated interpreters or misinterpreters in any age; that in the
course of its long history it has accumulated answers to many an
objection which they in their ignorance think new; and that, in the
confidence of its universal mission and the memory of its many
victories, it still claims to be sympathetic, adequate, adaptable to
the problems and perplexities of each successive age.

The general tendency of thought since the Reformation has been in the
direction of these partial presentations of Christianity. The
Reformers, from various causes, were so occupied with what is now
called Soteriology, or the scheme of salvation, that they paid but
scant attention to the other aspects of the Gospel. And the
consequence was that a whole side of the great Christian tradition,
and one on which many of its greatest thinkers had lavished the
labours of a lifetime, was allowed almost unconsciously to lapse into
comparative oblivion; and the religion of the Incarnation was narrowed
into the religion of the Atonement. Men's views of the faith dwindled
and became subjective and self-regarding, while the gulf was daily
widened between things sacred and things secular; among which latter,
art and science, and the whole political and social order, gradually
came to be classed.

Far otherwise was it with the great thinkers of the early Church; and
that not from an under-estimate of the saving power of the Cross,
which was bearing daily fruit around them, of penitence, and sanctity,
and martyrdom; but from their regarding Christian salvation in its
context. They realized that redemption was a means to an end, and that
end the reconsecration of the whole universe to God. And so the very
completeness of their grasp on the Atonement led them to dwell upon
the cosmical significance of the Incarnation, its purpose to 'gather
together all things in one.' For it was an age in which the problems
of the universe were keenly felt. Philosophical thinking, if less
mature, was not less exuberant than now, and had already a great past
behind it. And the natural world, though its structural secrets were
little understood, fascinated the imagination and strained the heart
with its appealing beauty. Spiritualism, superstition, scepticism,
were tried in turn but could not satisfy. The questionings of the
intellect still pressed for a solution. And the souls of Christians
were stirred to proclaim that the new power which they felt within
them, restoring, quickening, harmonizing the whole of their inner
life, would also prove the key to all these mysteries of matter and of

So it was that the theology of the Incarnation was gradually drawn
out, from the teaching of S. Paul and of S. John. The identity of Him
Who was made man and dwelt among us, with Him by Whom all things were
made and by Whom all things consist; His eternal pre-existence as the
reason and the word of God, the Logos; His indwelling presence in the
universe as the source and condition of all its life, and in man as
the light of His intellectual being; His Resurrection, His
Ascension,--all these thoughts were woven into one magnificent
picture, wherein creation was viewed as the embodiment of the Divine
ideas, and therefore the revelation of the Divine character;
manifesting its Maker with increasing clearness at each successive
stage in the great scale of being, till in the fulness of time He
Himself became man, and thereby lifted human nature, and with it the
material universe to which man is so intimately linked; and triumphing
over the sin and death under which creation groaned and travailed,
opened by His Resurrection and then by His Ascension vistas of the
glorious destiny purposed for His creatures before the world was.
'Factus est quod sumus nos, uti nos perficeret esse quod est

Such is the view of the Incarnation in what may be called its
intellectual aspect, which we find gradually expressed with increasing
clearness by the Fathers, from Justin to Athanasius. And with all its
deep suggestiveness, it is still a severely simple picture, drawn in
but few outlines, and those strictly scriptural. It was born of no
abstract love of metaphysic, and stands in striking contrast to the
wild speculations of the time. Its motive and its method were both
intensely practical; its motive being to present Christianity to the
mind as well as to the heart; and its method no more than to connect
and interpret and explain the definite statements of S. Paul and
S. John. Passing over the dark ages, when thought was in comparative
abeyance, and the energies of the Church absorbed in the work of
conversion and organization, we come, in the twelfth and following
centuries, to a second period of intellectual ferment, less brilliant
than that which characterized the decadence of the old civilization,
but instinct with all the fire and restlessness of youth. Unsobered as
yet by experience, and unsupplied with adequate material from without,
thought preyed upon itself and revelled in its new-found powers of
speculation. Fragments of the various heresies which the Fathers had
answered and outlived reappeared with all the halo of novelty around
them. Religions were crudely compared and sceptical inferences drawn.
Popular unbelief, checked in a measure by authority, avenged itself by
ridicule of all things sacred. It was a period of intense intellectual
unrest, too many-sided and inconsequent to be easily described. But as
far as the anti-Christian influences of the time can be summarized
they were mainly two:--the Arabic pantheism, and the materialism which
was fostered in the medical schools; kindred errors, both concerned
with an undue estimate of matter. And how did Christian theology meet
them? Not by laying stress, like the later Deists, upon God's infinite
distance from the world, but upon the closeness of His intimacy with
it: by reviving, that is, with increased emphasis the Patristic
doctrine of the Incarnation, as the climax and the keystone of the
whole visible creation. There is a greater divergence of opinion,
perhaps, among the Schoolmen than among the Fathers; and a far greater
amount of that unprofitable subtlety for which they are apt to be
somewhat too unintelligently ridiculed. But on the point before us, as
on all others of primary importance, they are substantially unanimous,
and never fail in dignity.

'As the thought of the Divine mind is called the Word, Who is the Son,
so the unfolding of that thought in external action (per opera
exteriora) is named the word of the Word[196].'

'The whole world is a kind of bodily and visible Gospel of that Word
by which it was created[197].'

'Every creature is a theophany[198].'

'Every creature is a Divine word, for it tells of God[199].'

'The wisdom of God, when first it issued in creation, came not to us
naked, but clothed in the apparel of created things. And then when the
same wisdom would manifest Himself to us as the Son of God, and so was
seen of men[200].'

'The Incarnation is the exaltation of human nature and consummation of
the Universe[201].'

Such quotations might be multiplied indefinitely from the pages of the
Schoolmen and scholastic theologians. And the line of thought which
they indicate seems to lead us by a natural sequence to view the
Incarnation as being the predestined climax of creation, independently
of human sin. The thought is of course a mere speculation, 'beyond
that which is written,' but from its first appearance in the twelfth
century it has been regarded with increasing favour; for it is full of
rich suggestiveness, and seems to throw a deeper meaning into all our
investigations of the world's gradual development.

Again, from the relation of the Word to the universe follows His
relation to the human mind. For 'that life was the light of men.'

'The created intellect is the imparted likeness of God,' says
S. Thomas; and again, 'Every intellectual process has its origin in
the Word of God Who is the Divine Reason.' 'The light of intellect is
imprinted upon us by God Himself (immediate a Deo).' 'God continually
works in the mind, as being both the cause and the guide of its
natural light.' 'In every object of sensitive or rational experience
God Himself lies hid[202].' All intelligences know God implicitly, in
every object of their knowledge[203].' 'Christ is our internal
teacher, and no truth of any kind is known but through Him; though He
speaks not in language as we do, but by interior illumination[204].'
'The philosophers have taught us the sciences, for God revealed them
to them[205].'

II. The point to be noticed in the teaching of which such passages are
scattered samples, is that the Schoolmen and orthodox mystics of the
middle age, with Pantheism, materialism, rationalism surging all
around them, and perfectly conscious of the fact, met these errors,
not by denying the reality of matter, or the capacity of reason, as
later apologists have often done, but by claiming for both a place in
the Theology of the Word. And this Theology of the Word was, in
reality, quite independent of, and unaffected by, the subtleties and
fallacies and false opinions of the age, cobwebs of the unfurnished
intellect which time has swept away. It was a magnificent framework,
outside and above the limited knowledge of the day and the
peculiarities of individual thinkers; an inheritance from the
Patristic tradition, which the Fathers, in their turn, had not
invented, but received as Apostolic doctrine from Apostolic men, and
only made more explicit by gradual definition, during centuries when,
it has been fairly said, 'the highest reason, as independently
exercised by the wise of the world, was entirely coincident with the
highest reason as inspiring the Church[206].' We have now to consider
whether this view of the Incarnation, which, though in the countries
most influenced by the Reformation it has dropped too much out of
sight, has yet never really died out of the Church at large, is in any
way incompatible with the results of modern science; or whether, on
the contrary, it does not provide an outline to which science is
slowly but surely giving reality and content.

And at the outset we must bear in mind one truth which is now
recognised on all sides as final--viz. that the finite intellect
cannot transcend the conditions of finitude, and cannot therefore
reach, or even conceive itself as reaching, an absolute, or, in
Kantian phraseology, a speculative knowledge of the beginning of
things. Whatever strides science may make in time to come towards
decomposing atoms and forces into simpler and yet simpler elements,
those elements will still have issued from a secret laboratory into
which science cannot enter, and the human mind will be as far as ever
from knowing what they really are. Further, this initial limitation
must of necessity qualify our knowledge in its every stage. If we
cannot know the secret of the elements in their simplicity, neither
can we know the secret of their successive combinations. Before the
beginning of our present system, and behind the whole course of its
continuous development, there is a vast region of possibility, which
lies wholly and for ever beyond the power of science to affirm or to
deny. It is in this region that Christian theology claims to have its
roots, and of this region that it professes to give its adherents
certitude, under conditions and by methods of its own. And of those
conditions and methods it fearlessly asserts that they are nowise
inconsistent with any ascertained or ascertainable result of secular

As regards the origin of things, this is obvious. Science may resolve
the complicated life of the material universe into a few elementary
forces, light and heat and electricity, and these perhaps into
modifications of some still simpler energy; but of the origin of
energy (τὸ πρῶτον κινοῦν) it knows no more than did the Greeks of
old. Theology asserts that in the beginning was the Word, and in Him
was life, the life of all things created: in other words, that He is
the source of all that energy, whose persistent, irresistible
versatility of action is for ever at work moulding and clothing and
peopling worlds. The two conceptions are complementary, and cannot
contradict each other.

But to pass from the origin to the development of things: the new way
of looking at nature was thought at first both by its adherents and
opponents alike to be inimical to the doctrine of final causes. And
here was a direct issue joined with Theology at once: for the presence
of final causes or design in the universe has not only been in all
ages one of the strongest supports for natural religion; it is
contained in the very notion of a rational creation, a creation by an
Eternal Reason. And this was supposed to be directly negatived by the
doctrine of the survival of the fittest through natural selection: for
if of a thousand forms, which came by chance into existence, the one
which happened to correspond best with its environment survived, while
the remainder disappeared, the adaptation of the survivor to its
circumstances would have all the appearance of design, while in
reality due to accident. If, therefore, this principle acted
exclusively throughout the universe, the result would be a semblance
of design without any of its reality, from which no theological
inference could be drawn. But this consequence of natural selection
obviously depends upon the exclusiveness of its action. If it is only
one factor among many in the world's development; while there are
instances of adaptation in nature, and those the more numerous, for
which it fails to account, what has been called its dysteleological
significance is at an end. Now its own author soon saw and admitted
the inadequacy of the theory of natural selection, even in biology,
the field of its first observation, to account for all the facts:
while countless phenomena in other regions, such as the mechanical
principles involved in the structure of the universe, the laws of
crystallography and chemical combination, the beauty of nature taken
in connection with its effect upon the mind, irresistibly suggest
design, and render the alternative hypothesis, from its mere
mathematical improbability, almost inconceivable. And there is now,
therefore, a general disposition to admit that the force of this
particular attack upon the doctrine of final causes has been
considerably overstated.

But in the course of its discussion an important difference has been
brought to light between external and internal purposes or ends. The
kind of design in nature which first arrested early thinkers was its
usefulness to man. Even in scenery, it has been suggested, they saw
the utility before the beauty. And so they came to look upon all
natural phenomena as having for their final cause the good of man; and
the world as a machine, a contrivance of which the parts have no value
except as contributing to the work of the whole, and the whole exists
only to produce a result outside and independent of itself, an
external end, as if corn should exist solely to provide food for man.
This was not an untrue conception; a shallow thing to say of the
reason for which Socrates believed in God; but it was partial and
inadequate, as Bacon and Spinoza shewed. And we have now come to
regard the world not as a machine, but as an organism, a system in
which, while the parts contribute to the growth of the whole, the
whole also reacts upon the development of the parts; and whose primary
purpose is its own perfection, something that is contained within and
not outside itself, an internal end: while in their turn the myriad
parts of this universal organism are also lesser organisms, ends in
and for themselves, pursuing each its lonely ideal of individual
completeness. Now when we look at nature in this way, and watch the
complex and subtle processes by which a crystal, a leaf, a lily, a
moth, a bird, a star realize their respective ideals with undisturbed,
unfailing accuracy, we cannot help attributing them to an intelligent
Creator. But when we further find that in the very course of pursuing
their primary ends, and becoming perfect after their kind, the various
parts of the universe do in fact also become means, and with infinite
ingenuity of correspondence and adaptation, subserve not only one but
a thousand secondary ends, linking and weaving themselves together by
their mutual ministration into an orderly, harmonious, complicated
whole, the signs of intelligence grow clearer still. And when, beyond
all this, we discover the quality of beauty in every moment and
situation of this complex life; the drop of water that circulates from
sea to cloud, and cloud to earth, and earth to plant, and plant to
life-blood, shining the while with strange spiritual significance in
the sunset and the rainbow and the dewdrop and the tear; the universal
presence of this attribute, so unessential to the course of nature,
but so infinitely powerful in its appeal to the human mind, is
reasonably urged as a crowning proof of purposeful design.

The treatment which these various aspects of teleology have received,
during the last few years, may be fairly called exhaustive: and the
result of all the sifting controversy has been to place the evidence
for design in nature on a stronger base than ever: partly because we
feel that we have faced the utmost that can be urged against it;
partly because, under scientific guidance, we have acquired a more
real, as distinct from a merely notional apprehension of the manifold
adaptations of structure to function, which the universe presents; and
these adaptations and correspondences, when grasped in their infinite
multiplicity, furnish us with a far worthier and grander view of
teleology than the mechanical theory of earlier days.

All this is in perfect harmony with our Christian creed, that all
things were made by the Eternal Reason; but more than this, it
illustrates and is illustrated by the further doctrine of His
indwelling presence in the things of His creation; rendering each of
them at once a revelation and a prophecy, a thing of beauty and
finished workmanship, worthy to exist for its own sake, and yet a step
to higher purposes, an instrument for grander work.

                    God tastes an infinite joy
  In infinite ways--one everlasting bliss,
  From whom all being emanates, all power
  Proceeds: in whom is life for evermore,
  Yet whom existence in its lowest form
  Includes; where dwells enjoyment, there is He:
  With still a flying point of bliss remote,
  A happiness in store afar, a sphere
  Of distant glory in full view.

And science has done us good service in recalling this doctrine to
mind. For it has a religious as well as a theological importance,
constituting, as it does, the element of truth in that higher
Pantheism which is so common in the present day. Whether the term
higher Pantheism is happily chosen or not, the thing which it denotes
is quite distinct from Pantheism proper, with its logical denial of
human personality and freedom. It is the name of an emotion rather
than a creed; that indescribable mystic emotion which the poet, the
artist, the man of science, and all their kindred feel in
contemplating the beauty or the wonder of the world. Vague as it is,
and indefinite, this sentiment is still one of the strongest of which
our nature is susceptible, and should be recognised, as an integral
element in all true religion. Yet for want of such recognition on the
part of Christians it is often allowed to gravitate nearer and nearer
to pure Pantheism, with which it has, in reality, no essential
affinity. We cannot therefore over-estimate the importance of
restoring to its due place in theology the doctrine of the Divine
immanence in nature, to which this sentiment is the instinctive
witness. Fathers, schoolmen, mystics, who were quite as alive to any
danger of Pantheism as ourselves, yet astonish us by the boldness of
their language upon this point; and we need not fear to transgress the
limits of the Christian tradition in saying that the physical
immanence of God the Word in His creation can hardly be overstated, as
long as His moral transcendence of it is also kept in view.

'God dwelleth within all things, and without all things, above all
things and beneath all things[207],' says S. Gregory the Great.

'The immediate operation of the Creator is closer to everything than
the operation of any secondary cause,' says S. Thomas[208].

And Cornelius a Lapide, after comparing our dependence upon God to
that of a ray on the sun, an embryo on the womb, a bird on the air,
concludes with the words, 'Seeing then that we _are_ thus united to
God physically, we _ought_ also to be united to Him morally[209].'

Here are three typical theologians, in three different ages, not one
of them a mystic even, using as the language of sober theology words
every whit as strong as any of the famous Pantheistic passages in our
modern literature; and yet when met with in that literature they are
commonly regarded as pleasing expressions of poetic dreams, very far
away from, if not even inconsistent with what is thought to be
dogmatic Christianity.

To sum up then, the reopening of the teleological question has not
only led to its fuller and more final answer, but has incidentally
contributed to revive among us an important aspect of the Theology of
the Word.

The next point upon which the theory of evolution came in contact with
received opinion, was its account of the origin of man. Man, it was
maintained, in certain quarters, was only the latest and most complex
product of a purely material process of development. His reason, with
all its functions of imagination, conscience, will, was only a result
of his sensibility, and that of his nervous tissue, and that again of
matter less and less finely organized, till at last a primitive
protoplasm was reached; while what had been called his fall was in
reality his rise, being due to the fact that with the birth of reason
came self-consciousness; or the feeling of a distinction between self
and the outer world, ripening into a sense, and strictly speaking an
illusory sense of discord between the two.

Theologians first thought it necessary to contest every detail of this
development, beginning with the antiquity of man; and some are still
inclined to intrench themselves in one or two positions which they
think impregnable, such as the essential difference in kind between
organized and inorganic matter, or again between animal instinct and
the self-conscious reason of man: while others are content to assume a
sceptical attitude and point to the disagreement between the men of
science themselves, as sufficient evidence of their untruth. But none
of these views are theologically needed. The first is certainly, the
second possibly unsound, and the third, to say the least of it,
unkind. It is quite true that the evolution of man is at present
nothing more than an hypothesis, and an hypothesis open to very grave
scientific objections. The attempts to analyse reason and conscience
back into unconscious and unmoral elements, for all their unquestioned
ingenuity, are still far from being conclusive; and then there is the
geological admissibility of the time which it would require, and that
is still a matter of hopeless controversy between scientific experts.
And even if these and numerous kindred difficulties were to be removed
in time to come, the hypothesis would still be no nearer
demonstration; for the only evidence we can possibly obtain of
prehistoric man is his handiwork of one kind or another, his
implements or pictures, things implying the use of reason. In other
words, we can only prove his existence through his rationality;
through his having been, on the point in question, identical in kind
with what now he is. And suspense of judgment therefore upon the whole
controversy is, at present, the only scientific state of mind.

But there are facts upon the other side; the undoubted antiquity of
the human race; the gradual growth which can be scientifically traced,
in our thought and language and morality, and therefore, to the extent
that functions react upon their faculties, even in our conscience and
our reason too; and then the immense presumption from the gathering
proofs of all other development, that man will be no exception to the
universal law. All these positive indications at least suggest the
possibility that the difficulties of the theory may one day vanish,
and its widest chasms close. And we cannot therefore be too emphatic
in asserting that theology would have nothing whatever to fear from
such a result. When we see energy and atoms building up an harmonious
order, we feel there is an inner secret in the energy and atoms, which
we cannot hope to penetrate by merely watching them at work. And so,
when we see human minds and wills weaving a veil over the universe, of
thought and love and holiness, and are told that all these things are
but higher modes of material nature, we only feel that the inner
secret of material nature must be yet more wonderful than we supposed.
But though our wonder may increase, our difficulties will not. If we
believe, as we have seen that Christian Theology has always believed,
in a Divine Creator not only present behind the beginning of matter
but immanent in its every phase, and co-operating with its every
phenomenon, the method of His working, though full of speculative
interest, will be of no controversial importance. Time was when the
different kinds of created things were thought to be severed by
impassable barriers. But many of these barriers have already given way
before science, and species are seen to be no more independent than
the individuals that compose them. If the remaining barriers between
unreason and reason, or between lifelessness and life should in like
manner one day vanish, we shall need to readjust the focus of our
spiritual eye to the enlarged vision, but nothing more. Our Creator
will be known to have worked otherwise indeed than we had thought, but
in a way quite as conceivable, and to the imagination more
magnificent. And all is alike covered by the words 'without Him was
not anything made that was made: and in Him was life.' In fact the
evolutionary origin of man is a far less serious question than the
attack upon final causes. Its biblical aspect has grown insignificant
in proportion as we have learned to regard the Hebrew cosmology in a
true light. And the popular outcry which it raised was largely due to
sentiment, and sentiment not altogether untinged by human pride.

We may pass on therefore from the evolution of man and his mind in
general, to his various modes of mental activity in science and
philosophy and art. Here the Christian doctrine is twofold: first,
that all the objects of our thought, mathematical relations,
scientific laws, social systems, ideals of art, are ideas of the
Divine Wisdom, the Logos, written upon the pages of the world; and
secondly, that our power of reading them, our thinking faculty acts
and only can act rightly by Divine assistance; that the same 'motion
and power that impels' 'all objects of all thought' impels also 'all
thinking things.' And both these statements are met by objection. In
the first place, it is urged, there is no fixity in the universe, and
it cannot therefore be the embodiment of Divine ideas. All things live
and move under our eyes. Species bear no evidence of having been
created in their completeness; on the contrary they are perpetually
undergoing transmutation, and cannot therefore represent ideas, cannot
have been created on a plan. For ideas, in proportion to their
perfection, must be definite, clean-cut, clear. The answer to this
objection is contained in what has been already said upon the subject
of organic teleology. But an analogy drawn from human thinking may
illustrate it further. It is in reality the ideas which our mind has
done with, its dead ideas which are clean-cut and definite and fixed.
The ideas which at any moment go to form our mental life are quick and
active and full of movement, and melt into each other and are ever
developing anew. A book is no sooner finished and done with, than it
strikes its author as inadequate. It becomes antiquated as soon as its
ideas have been assimilated by the public mind. And that because the
thought of author and public alike is alive, and ever moving onward;
incapable of being chained to any one mode of expression; incapable of
being stereotyped. The highest notion we can frame therefore of a mind
greater than our own is of one that has no dead ideas, no abstract or
antiquated formulae, but whose whole content is entirely, essentially
alive. And the perpetual development which we are learning to trace
throughout the universe around us would be the natural expression
therefore of that Logos Who is the Life.

But when we turn from the objective to the subjective side of
knowledge, we are met with a second objection. The doctrine that the
Divine Logos co-operates with the human reason, is supposed to be
inconsistent with the undoubted fact that many earnest and successful
thinkers have been if not atheistic, at least agnostic; unable, that
is, to attain to the very knowledge to which, as it would seem on the
Christian hypothesis, all intellectual effort should inevitably lead.
But this difficulty is only superficial. When we say that the Divine
reason assists, we do not mean that it supersedes the human. An
initiative still lies with man; and he must choose of his own accord
the particular field of his intellectual pursuit. When he has chosen
his line of study, and followed it with the requisite devotion, he
will arrive at the kind of truth to which that particular study leads,
the physicist at laws of nature, the philosopher at laws of thought,
the artist at ideal beauty, the moralist at ethical truth: and in each
case, as we believe, by Divine assistance, his discoveries being in
fact revelations. But the method, the education, the experience
involved in different studies are so distinct, that few in a lifetime
can reach the eminence that teaches with authority, or even the
intelligence that thoroughly appreciates, more than one department of
the complex world of thought. And if a man wanders from his own
province into unfamiliar regions, he naturally meets with failure in
proportion to his hardihood. In the case of the special sciences this
is universally recognised. No astronomer would think of dogmatizing on
a question of geology, nor a biologist on the details of chemistry or
physics. But when it is a question between science and philosophy, the
rule is often forgotten; and the spectacle of scientific specialists
blundering about in metaphysics is painfully common in the present
day: while strange to say, in the case of theology this forgetfulness
reaches a climax, and men claim casually to have an opinion upon
transcendent mysteries, without any of the preparation which they
would be the first to declare needful for success in the smallest
subsection of any one of the branches of science.

Nor is preparation all that is wanted. Science is impossible without
experiment, and experiment is the lower analogue of what in religion
is called experience. As experiment alone gives certainty in the one
case, so does experience alone in the other. And it is only the man
who has undergone such experience, with all its imperative demands
upon his whole character and life, that can justly expect satisfaction
of his religious doubts and needs; while only those who, like S. Paul
or S. Augustine, have experienced it in an exceptional degree, are
entitled to speak with authority upon the things to which it leads.
Here again a human analogy may help us. For in studying a human
character there are different planes upon which we may approach it.
There are the external aspects of the man, the fashion of his
garments, the routine of his life, the regulation of his time, his
official habits; all which, it may be noted in passing, in the case of
a great character, are uniform, not because they were not once the
free creation of his will, but because he knows the practical value of
uniformity in all such things; and all these externals are open to the
observation even of a stranger. Then there are the man's thoughts,
which may be withheld or revealed at his pleasure; and these can only
be understood by kindred minds, who have been trained to understand
them. Lastly, there are his will and affections, the region of his
motives, the secret chamber in which his real personality resides; and
these are only known to those intimate friends and associates whose
intuition is quickened by the sympathy of love. Now all these stages
are gone through in the formation of a friendship. First we are struck
by a man's appearance, and so led to listen to his conversation, and
thence to make his acquaintance, and at last to become his friend. And
so with the knowledge of God. The man of science, as such, can
discover the uniformities of His action in external nature. The moral
philosopher will further see that these actions 'make for
righteousness' and that there is a moral law. But it is only to the
spiritual yearning of our whole personality that He reveals Himself as
a person. This analogy will make the Christian position intelligible;
but for Christians it is more than an analogy. It is simply a
statement of facts. For, to Christians, the Incarnation is the final
sanction of 'anthropomorphism,' revealing the Eternal Word as strictly
a Person, in the ordinary sense and with all the attributes which we
commonly attach to the name[210].

Consequently, upon all this we are quite consistent in maintaining
that all great teachers of whatever kind are vehicles of revelation,
each in his proper sphere, and in accepting their verified conclusions
as Divinely true; while we reject them the moment they transgress
their limits, as thereby convicted of unsound thinking, and therefore
deprived of the Divine assistance which was the secret of their
previous success. And though such transgression may in many cases
involve a minimum of moral error, there are abundant instances in the
history of thought that it is not always so. Francis Bacon, and the
penitent, pardoned Abelard are typical, in different degrees, of a
countless multitude of lesser men.

'For our knowledge of first principles,' says S. Augustine, 'we have
recourse to that inner truth that presides over the mind. And that
indwelling teacher of the mind is Christ, the changeless virtue and
eternal wisdom of God, to which every rational soul has recourse. But
so much only is revealed to each as his own good or evil will enables
him to receive[211].'

'Nor is it the fault of the Word,' adds S. Thomas, 'that all men do
not attain to the knowledge of the truth, but some remain in darkness.
It is the fault of men who do not turn to the Word and so cannot fully
receive Him. Whence there is still more or less darkness remaining
among men, in proportion to the lesser or greater degree in which they
turn to the Word and receive Him. And so John, to preclude any thought
of deficiency in the illuminating power of the Word, after saying
"that life was the light of men," adds "the light shineth in darkness,
and the darkness comprehended it not." The darkness is not because the
Word does not shine, but because some do not receive the light of the
Word; as while the light of the material sun is shining over the
world, it is only dark to those whose eyes are closed or feeble[212].'

It has been necessary to dwell upon this doctrine because it has an
important bearing upon two further questions, which the philosophy of
evolution has brought into new prominence, the relation of
Christianity to previous philosophy and other religions. It was the
fashion, not long ago, to give an undue value to the part played by
environment or surrounding circumstances in the creation of characters
and institutions and creeds, to the exclusion of all elements of
native originality. And the attempt was made accordingly, in various
ways, to represent Christianity as the natural product of the
different religions and philosophies which were current in the world
at the time of its appearing. But the further study of evolution has
qualified this whole mode of thought by the way in which, as we have
seen above, it has led us to look at things as organisms rather than
machines. A machine has no internal principle of unity. Its unity is
impressed upon it from without. And it may be granted therefore, for
the sake of argument, that we might conceive a machine or number of
machines as formed like the patterns in a caleidoscope by a happy
coincidence of atoms; and man, if he were only a machine, as strictly
the creature of circumstance. But an organism is a different thing.
Dependent as it is upon its environment in an hundred various ways, it
is yet more dependent upon its own selective and assimilative
capacity, in other words upon its own individuality, its self. And so
the notions of individuality, originality, personal identity have been
restored to their place in the world of thought. The old error lingers
on, and is sometimes crudely re-asserted, especially in its
anti-Christian bearing; but it has been discredited by science, and is
in fact a thing of the past. And in consequence of this, the attempt
can no longer be plausibly made to account for Christianity apart from
the personality of Jesus Christ. The mythical theories have had their
day. And it is recognised on all hands that mere aspiration can no
more create a religion than appetite can create food. A foundation
needs a founder.

But the attack thus diverted from our religion glances off on our
theology. The Christian religion, it is granted, was founded by Jesus
Christ; but its theological interpretation is viewed as a
misinterpretation, a malign legacy from the dying philosophies of
Greece. This objection is as old as the second century, and has been
revived at intervals in various forms, and with varying degrees of
success. Modern historical criticism has only fortified it with fresh
instances. But it has no force whatever if we believe that the Divine
Word was for ever working in the world in co-operation with human
reason; inspiring the higher minds among the Jews with their thirst
for holiness, and so making ready for the coming of the Holy One in
Jewish flesh: but inspiring the Greeks also with their intellectual
eagerness, and preparing them to recognise Him as the Eternal Reason,
the Word, the Truth; and to define and defend, and demonstrate that
Truth to the outer world. The fact that Greek philosophy had passed
its zenith and was declining did not make its influence upon
Christianity an evil one, a corruption of the living by the dead. It
was only dying to be incorporated in a larger life. The food that
supports our existence owes its power of nutrition to the fact, that
it too once lived with an inferior life of its own. And so the Greek
philosophy was capable of assimilation by the Christian organism, from
the fact that it too had once been vitally inspired by the life that
is the light of men. And the true successors of Plato and Aristotle
were the men of progress who realized this fact; not Celsus, Lucian,
Porphyry, but the Fathers of the Church.

Clement and Origen, Athanasius and Augustine, the Gregories and Basil
understood Greek philosophy as clearly as S. Paul understood Judaism,
and recognised its completion as plainly in the Incarnation of the
Word. Nor was this view of the Incarnation in the one case, any more
than in the other, assumed for a merely apologetic purpose. These men
were essentially philosophers, among the foremost of their age. They
knew and have testified what philosophy had done for their souls, and
what it could not do; how far it had led them forward; and of what
longings it had left them full. True, philosophy had as little
expected Wisdom to become incarnate, and that amongst the barbarians,
the outcast and the poor, as Judaism had expected Messiah to suffer,
and to suffer at the hand of Jews. But no sooner was the Incarnation
accomplished, than it flooded the whole past of Greece no less than
Judaea with a new light. This was what it all meant; this was what it
unwittingly aimed at; the long process of dialectic and prophecy were
here united in their goal.

'Those who lived under the guidance of the Eternal Reason μετὰ λόγου
βιώσαντες as Socrates, Heraclitus, and such-like men, are Christians,'
run the well-known words of Justin Martyr, 'even though they were
reckoned to be atheists in their day.' (Ap. i. 46.) Different minds
have always differed, and will continue to differ widely as to the
degree in which Greek thought contributed to the doctrines of the
Trinity and the Incarnation. It is a difficult and delicate question
for historical criticism to decide. But the essential thing to bear in
mind is that the Christian doctrine of the Logos amply covers any
possible view which criticism may establish upon the point. For, in
the light of that doctrine, it is merely a question of the degree in
which the Eternal Word chose to reveal Himself through one agency
rather than another.

Any attack, therefore, upon our theology for its connection with Greek
thought, is powerless to disturb us; since we accept the fact but give
it another, a deeper interpretation: while we rejoice in every fresh
proof that the great thoughts of the Greek mind were guided by a
higher power, and consecrated to a nobler end than ever their authors
dreamed of; and that the true classic culture is no alien element but
a legitimate ingredient in Catholic, complete Christianity.

And the same line of thought gives us a clue to the history of
religious development, the latest field to which the philosophy of
evolution has been extended. For though a superficial comparison of
religions, with a more or less sceptical result, has often been
attempted before, as for instance in the thirteenth century with its
well-known story of the three impostors; anything like a scientific
study of them has been impossible till now. For now for the first time
we are beginning to have the facts before us; the facts consisting in
the original documents of the various historic creeds, and accumulated
observations on the religious ideas of uncivilized races. In both
these fields very much remains to be done; but still there is enough
done already to justify a few generalizations. But the subject is
intensely complex, and there has been far too great a tendency, as in
all new sciences, to rush to premature conclusions. For example, there
is the shallow scepticism which seizes upon facts, like the many
parallelisms between the moral precepts of earlier religions and the
sermon on the Mount, as a convincing proof that Christianity contains
nothing that is new. No serious student of comparative religions would
justify such an inference; but it is a very common and mischievous
fallacy in the half-culture of the day. Then there is the rash
orthodoxy, that is over eager to accept any result that tallies with
its own preconceived opinions as, for instance, the belief in a
primitive monotheism. No doubt several very competent authorities
think that the present evidence points in that direction. But a
majority of critics equally competent think otherwise. And meanwhile,
there is a mass of evidence still waiting collection and
interpretation, which may one day throw further light upon the point.
Under such circumstances, therefore, it is as impolitic as it is
unscientific to identify Christian apology with a position which may
one day prove untenable. Attention has already been called to a
similar imprudence in connection with Biogenesis, and the history of
past apology is full of warnings against such conduct. Then, again,
there is the converse view which is often as glibly stated as if it
were already a scientific truism; the view that religion was evolved
out of non-religious elements, such as the appearance of dead
ancestors in dreams. This rests, to begin with, on the supposition
that the opinions of uncivilized man, as we now find him, are the
nearest to those of man in his primitive condition; which, considering
that degradation is a recognised factor in history, and that
degradation acts more powerfully in religion than in any other region,
is a very considerable assumption. But even granting this, the
psychological possibility of the process in question, as well as the
lapse of time sufficient for its operation, are both as yet unproved.
It is an hypothetical process, happening in an hypothetical period;
but, logically considered, nothing more.

All this should make us cautious in approaching the comparative study
of religions. Still, even in its present stage, it has reached some
general results. In the first place, the universality of religion is
established as an empirical fact. Man, with a few insignificant
exceptions which may fairly be put down to degradation, within the
limits of our observation, is everywhere religious. The notion that
religion was an invention of interested priestcraft has vanished, like
many other eighteenth century fictions, before nineteenth century
science. Even in the savage races, where priestcraft is most
conspicuous, the priest has never created the religion, but always the
religion the priest. Beyond this fact it is unsafe to dogmatize. There
is abundant evidence of early nature-worship in very various forms,
but whether this was the degraded offspring of purer conceptions, or
as is more generally supposed the primitive parent from which those
conceptions sprang, is still an open question. The universality of the
fact is all that is certain.

Again, there is a progressive tendency observable in the religions of
the world; but the progress is of a particular kind, and largely
counteracted by degeneracy. Individuals elevate, masses degrade
religion. There is no progress by insensible modifications; no
improvement of a religion in committee. Councils like those of Asoka
or Chosroes can only sift and popularise and publish what it needed a
Buddha or Zarathustra to create. And so religion is handed on, from
one great teacher to another, never rising above the level of its
founder or last reformer, till another founder or reformer comes;
while in the interval it is materialized, vulgarized, degraded.

And from the nature of this progress, as the work of great
individuals, another consequence has historically followed; viz. that
all the pre-Christian religions have been partial, have emphasized,
that is to say, unduly if not exclusively one requirement or another
of the religious consciousness, but never its complex whole. For the
individual teacher, however great, cannot proclaim with prophetic
intensity more than one aspect of a truth; and his followers
invariably tend to isolate and exaggerate this aspect, while any who
attempt to supply its complement are regarded with suspicion. Hence
the parties and sects and heresies of which religious history is full.
The simplest illustration of this is the fundamental distinction
between Theism and Pantheism, or the transcendence and immanence of
God; the one often said to be a Semitic, the other an Aryan tendency
of thought. But however this may be, both these principles must be
represented in any system which would really satisfy the whole of our
religious instincts; while, as a matter of fact, they were separated
by all the pre-Christian religions, and are separated by Mahometanism
and Buddhism, the only two religious systems which compete with
Christianity to-day.

These, then, are a few broad results of our comparative survey of
religions. That religion, however humble the mode of its first
appearing, is yet universal to man. That it progresses through the
agency of the great individual, the unique personality, the spiritual
genius; while popular influence is a counter-agent and makes for its
decay. That its various developments have all been partial, and
therefore needed completion, if the cravings of the human spirit were
ever to be set at rest.

And all this is in perfect harmony with our Christian belief in a God
Who, from the day of man's first appearance in the dim twilight of the
world, left not Himself without witness in sun and moon, and rain and
storm-cloud, and the courses of the stars, and the promptings of
conscience, and the love of kin: and Who the while was lighting every
man that cometh into the world, the primaeval hunter, the shepherd
chieftain, the poets of the Vedas and the Gathas, the Chaldaean
astronomer, the Egyptian priest, each, at least in a measure, to spell
that witness out aright; ever and anon when a heart was ready
revealing Himself with greater clearness, to one or another chosen
spirit, and by their means to other men; till at length, in the
fulness of time, when Jews were yearning for one in whom righteousness
should triumph visibly; and Greeks sighing over the divorce between
truth and power, and wondering whether the wise man ever would indeed
be king; and artists and ascetics wandering equally astray, in vain
attempt to solve the problem of the spirit and the flesh; 'the Word
was made Flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.' The
pre-Christian religions were the age-long prayer. The Incarnation was
the answer. Nor are we tied to any particular view of the prehistoric
stages of this development. We only postulate that whenever and
however man became truly man, he was from that moment religious, or
capable of religion; and this postulate deals with the region that
lies beyond the reach of science, though all scientific observation
is, as we have seen, directly in its favour.

In short, the history of the pre-Christian religion is like that of
pre-Christian philosophy, a long preparation for the Gospel. We are
familiar enough with this thought in its Jewish application from the
teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But it seems to be often
forgotten that the principles laid down in that Epistle admit of no
limitation to any single race of men. They are naturally illustrated
from Hebrew history in a writing addressed to Hebrews. But their scope
is universal. They compel their own application to every religious
history, which the growth of our knowledge brings to light. And from
this point of view the many pagan adumbrations of Christian doctrine,
similarities of practice, coincidences of ritual, analogies of phrase
and symbol, fall naturally into place. The fathers and early
missionaries were often perplexed by these phenomena, and did not
scruple to attribute them to diabolic imitation. And even in the
present day they are capable of disturbing timid minds, when
unexpectedly presented before them. But all this is unphilosophical,
for in the light of evolution the occurrence of such analogies is a
thing to be expected; while to the eye of faith they do but emphasize
the claim of Christianity to be universal, by shewing that it contains
in spiritual summary the religious thoughts and practices and ways of
prayer and worship, not of one people only, but of all the races of

'In the whole of our Christian faith,' says Thomassin, 'there is
nothing which does not in the highest degree harmonize with that
natural philosophy which Wisdom, who made all things, infused into
every created mind, and wrote upon the very marrow of the reason; so
that, however obscured by the foul pleasures of the senses, it never
can be wholly done away. It was this hidden and intimate love of the
human mind, however marred, for the incorruptible truth, which won the
whole world over to the gospel of Christ, when once that Gospel was

But when all this has been said, there is a lingering suspicion in
many minds, that even if the details of the doctrine of development
are not inconsistent with Christianity, its whole drift is
incompatible with any system of opinion which claims to possess
finality. And if Christianity were only a system of opinion, the
objection might be plausible enough. But its claim to possess finality
rests upon its further claim to be much more than a system of opinion.
The doctrine of development or evolution, we must remember, is not a
doctrine of limitless change, like the old Greek notion of perpetual
flux. Species once developed are seen to be persistent, in proportion
to their versatility, their power, i.e. of adapting themselves to the
changes of the world around them. And because man, through his mental
capacity, possesses this power to an almost unlimited extent, the
human species is virtually permanent. Now in scientific language, the
Incarnation may be said to have introduced a new species into the
world--a Divine man transcending past humanity, as humanity
transcended the rest of the animal creation, and communicating His
vital energy by a spiritual process to subsequent generations of men.
And thus viewed, there is nothing unreasonable in the claim of
Christianity to be at least as permanent as the race which it has
raised to a higher power, and endued with a novel strength.

III. But in saying this we touch new ground. As long as we confine
ourselves to speaking of the Eternal Word as operating in the
mysterious region which lies behind phenomena, we are safe it may be
said from refutation, because we are dealing with the unknown. But
when we go on to assert that He has flashed through our atmosphere,
and been seen of men, scintillating signs and wonders in His path, we
are at once open to critical attack. And this brings us to the real
point at issue between Christianity and its modern opponents. It is
not the substantive body of our knowledge, but the critical faculty
which has been sharpened in its acquisition that really comes in
conflict with our creed. Assuming Christianity to be true, there is,
as we have seen, nothing in it inconsistent with any ascertained
scientific fact. But what is called the negative criticism assumes
that it cannot be true, because the miraculous element in it
contradicts experience. Still criticism is a very different thing from
science, a subjective thing into which imagination and personal
idiosyncrasy enter largely, and which needs therefore in its turn to
be rigorously criticised. And the statement that Christianity
contradicts experience suggests two reflections, _in limine_.

In the first place the origin of all things is mysterious, the origin
of matter, the origin of energy, the origin of life, the origin of
thought. And present experience is no criterion of any of these
things. What were their birth throes, what were their accompanying
signs and wonders, when the morning stars sang together in the dawn of
their appearing, we do not and cannot know. If therefore the
Incarnation was, as Christians believe, another instance of a new
beginning, present experience will neither enable us to assert or
deny, what its attendant circumstances may or may not have been. The
logical impossibility of proving a negative is proverbial. And on a
subject, whose conditions are unknown to us, the very attempt becomes
ridiculous. And secondly, it is a mistake to suppose that as a matter
of strict evidence, the Christian Church has ever rested its claims
upon its miracles. A confirmatory factor indeed, in a complication of
converging arguments, they have been, and still are to many minds. But
to others, who in the present day are probably the larger class, it is
not so easy to believe Christianity on account of miracles, as
miracles on account of Christianity. For now, as ever, the real burden
of the proof of Christianity is to be sought in our present

There is a fact of experience as old as history, as widely spread as
is the human race, and more intensely, irresistibly, importunately
real than all the gathered experience of art and policy and
science,--the fact which philosophers call moral evil, and Christians
sin. It rests upon no questionable interpretation of an Eastern
allegory. We breathe it, we feel it, we commit it, we see its havoc
all around us. It is no dogma, but a sad, solemn, inevitable fact. The
animal creation has a law of its being, a condition of its perfection,
which it instinctively and invariably pursues. Man has a law of his
being, a condition of his perfection, which he instinctively tends to
disobey. And what he does to-day, he has been doing from the first
record of his existence.

  Video meliora proboque,
  Deteriora sequor.

Philosophers have from time to time attempted to explain this dark
experience away, and here and there men of happy temperament, living
among calm surroundings, have been comparatively unconscious of the
evil in the world. But the common conscience is alike unaffected by
the ingenuity of the one class, or the apathy of the other; while it
thrills to the voices of men like S. Paul or S. Augustine, Dante or
John Bunyan, Loyola or Luther; recognising in their sighs and tears
and lamentations, the echo of its own unutterable sorrow made
articulate. Nor is sin confined to one department of our being. It
poisons the very springs of life, and taints its every action. It
corrupts art; it hampers science; it paralyses the efforts of the
politician and the patriot; and diseased bodies, and broken hearts,
and mental and spiritual agony, are amongst its daily, its hourly
results. It would seem indeed superfluous to insist upon these things,
if their importance were not so often ignored in the course of
anti-Christian argument. But when we are met by an appeal to
experience, it is necessary to insist that no element of experience be
left out.

And moral evil, independently of any theory of its nature or its
origin, is a plain palpable fact, and a fact of such stupendous
magnitude as to constitute by far the most serious problem of our

Now it is also a fact of present experience that there are scattered
throughout Christendom, men of every age, temperament, character, and
antecedents, for whom this problem is practically solved: men who have
a personal conviction that their own past sins are done away with, and
the whole grasp of evil upon them loosened, and who in consequence
rise to heights of character and conduct, which they know that they
would never have otherwise attained. And all this they agree to
attribute, in however varying phrases, to the personal influence upon
them of Jesus Christ. Further, these men had a spiritual ancestry.
Others in the last generation believed and felt, and acted as they now
act and feel and believe. And so their lineage can be traced backward,
age by age, swelling into a great multitude whom no man can number,
till we come to the historic records of Him whom they all look back
to, and find that He claimed the power on earth to forgive sins. And
there the phenomenon ceases. Pre-Christian antiquity contains nothing
analogous to it. Consciousness of sin, and prayers for pardon, and
purgatorial penances, and sacrifices, and incantations, and magic
formulae are there in abundance; and hopes, among certain races, of
the coming of a great deliverer. But never the same sense of sin
forgiven, nor the consequent rebound of the enfranchised soul. Yet
neither a code of morality which was not essentially new, nor the
example of a life receding with every age into a dimmer past, would
have been adequate to produce this result. It has all the appearance
of being, what it historically has claimed to be, the entrance of an
essentially new life into the world, quickening its palsied energies,
as with an electric touch. And the more we realize in the bitterness
of our own experience, or that of others, the essential malignity of
moral evil, the more strictly supernatural does this energy appear.
When, therefore, we are told that miracles contradict experience, we
point to the daily occurrence of this spiritual miracle and ask
'whether is it easier to say thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say
arise and walk?' We meet experience with experience, the negative
experience that miracles have not happened with the positive
experience that they are happening now: an old argument, which so far
from weakening, modern science has immensely strengthened, by its
insistence on the intimate union between material and spiritual
things. For spirit and matter, as we call them, are now known to
intermingle, and blend, and fringe off, and fade into each other, in a
way that daily justifies us more in our belief that the possessor of
the key to one must be the possessor of the key to both, and that He
who can save the soul can raise the dead.

Here then is our answer to the negative criticism, or rather to the
negative hypothesis, by which many critics are misled. Of course we do
not expect for it unanimous assent. It is founded on a specific
experience; and strangers to that experience are naturally unable to
appreciate its force. But neither should they claim to judge it. For
the critic of an experience must be its expert. And the accumulated
verdict of the spiritual experts of all ages, should at least meet
with grave respect from the very men who are most familiar with the
importance of the maxim, 'Cuique in sua arte credendum.' Christianity
distinctly declines to be proved first, and practised afterwards. Its
practice and its proof go hand in hand. And its real evidence is its

We now see why the Atonement has often assumed such exclusive
prominence in the minds of Christian men. They have felt that it was
the secret of their own regenerate life, their best intellectual
apology, their most attractive missionary appeal; and so have come to
think that the other aspects of the Incarnation might be banished from
the pulpit and the market-place, to the seclusion of the schools. But
this has proved to be a fatal mistake. Truth cannot be mutilated with
impunity. And this gradual substitution of a detached doctrine for a
catholic creed, has led directly to the charge which is now so common,
that Christianity is inadequate to life; with no message to ordinary
men, in their ordinary moments, no bearing upon the aims, occupations,
interests, enthusiasms, amusements, which are human nature's daily

But we have already seen what a misconception this implies of the
Incarnation. The Incarnation opened heaven, for it was the revelation
of the Word; but it also reconsecrated earth, for the Word was made
Flesh and dwelt among us. And it is impossible to read history without
feeling how profoundly the religion of the Incarnation has been a
religion of humanity. The human body itself, which heathendom had so
degraded, that noble minds could only view it as the enemy and prison
of the soul, acquired a new meaning, exhibited new graces, shone with
a new lustre in the light of the Word made Flesh; and thence, in
widening circles, the family, society, the state, felt in their turn
the impulse of the Christian spirit, with its

          touches of things common,
  Till they rose to touch the spheres.

Literature revived; art flamed into fuller life; even science in its
early days owed more than men often think, to the Christian temper and
the Christian reverence for things once called common or unclean.
While the optimism, the belief in the future, the atmosphere of
hopefulness, which has made our progress and achievements possible,
and which, when all counter currents have been allowed for, so deeply
differentiates the modern from the ancient world, dates, as a fact of
history, from those buoyant days of the early church, when the creed
of suicide was vanquished before the creed of martyrdom, Seneca before
S. Paul. It is true that secular civilization has co-operated with
Christianity to produce the modern world. But secular civilization is,
as we have seen, in the Christian view, nothing less than the
providential correlative and counterpart of the Incarnation. For the
Word did not desert the rest of His creation to become Incarnate.
Natural religion, and natural morality, and the natural play of
intellect have their function in the Christian as they had in the
pre-Christian ages; and are still kindled by the light that lighteth
every man coming into the world. And hence it is that secular thought
has so often corrected and counteracted the evil of a Christianity
grown professional, and false, and foul.

Still, when all allowance for other influence has been made; and all
the ill done in its name admitted to the full; Christianity remains,
the only power which has regenerated personal life, and that beyond
the circle even of its professed adherents, the light of it far
outshining the lamp which has held its flame. And personal life is
after all the battle-ground, on which the progress of the race must be
decided. Nor ever indeed should this be more apparent than in the
present day. For materialism, that old enemy alike of the Christian
and the human cause, has passed from the study to the street. No one
indeed may regret this more than the high-souled scientific thinker,
whose life belies the inevitable consequences of his creed. But the
ruthless logic of human passion is drawing those consequences
fiercely; and the luxury of the rich, and the communistic cry of the
poor, and the desecration of marriage, and the disintegration of
society, and selfishness in policy, and earthliness in art, are
plausibly pleading science in their favour. And with all this
Christianity claims, as of old, to cope, because it is the religion of
the Incarnation. For the real strength of materialism lies in the
justice which it does to the material side of nature--the loveliness
of earth and sea and sky and sun and star; the wonder of the mechanism
which controls alike the rushing comet and the falling leaf; the human
body crowning both, at once earth's fairest flower and most marvellous
machine. And Christianity is the only religion which does equal
justice to this truth, while precluding its illegitimate perversion.
It includes the truth, by the essential importance which it assigns to
the human body, and therefore to the whole material order, with which
that body is so intimately one; while it excludes its perversion, by
shewing the cause of that importance to lie in its connection,
communion, union with the spirit, and consequent capacity for endless
degrees of glory.

And though its own first vocation is to seek and save souls one by
one, it consecrates in passing every field of thought and action,
wherein the quickened energies of souls may find their scope. It
welcomes the discoveries of science, as ultimately due to Divine
revelation, and part of the providential education of the world. It
recalls to art the days when, in catacomb and cloister, she learned
her noblest mission to be the service of the Word made Flesh. It
appeals to democracy as the religion of the fishermen who gathered
round the carpenter's Son. It points the social reformer to the
pattern of a perfect man, laying down His life alike for enemy and
friend. While it crowns all earthly aims with a hope full of
immortality, as prophetic of eternal occupations otherwhere. And
however many a new meaning may yet be found in the Incarnation,
however many a misconception of it fade before fuller light; we can
conceive no phase of progress which has not the Incarnation for its
guiding star; no age which cannot make the prayer of the fifth century
its own--

'O God of unchangeable power and eternal light, look favourably on Thy
whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; and by the tranquil
operation of Thy perpetual Providence, carry out the work of man's
salvation; and let the whole world feel and see that things which were
cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are
being made new, and all things are returning to perfection through
Him, from whom they took their origin, even through our Lord Jesus

[195] Irenaeus.

[196] S. Thom. Aq. _c. Gent._ iv. 13.

[197] H. de Boseham (Migne) v. 190. p. 1353.

[198] Scot. Er. (Migne) v. 122. p. 302.

[199] S. Bonav. _In Eccles._ ci. t. ix.

[200] H. de S. Victor. (Migne) v. 177. p. 580.

[201] S. Thom. Aquinas.

[202] S. Bonav. _de Reduct._ sub fin.

[203] S. Thom. Aq. _de Verit._ 22. 2. 1.

[204] S. Bonav. _Lum. Eccles._ S. 12.

[205] Id. _Lum. Eccles._ S. 5.

[206] Mark Pattison.

[207] _Mag. Mor._ ii. 12.

[208] S. Thom. Aq. ii. _Sent._ i. 1.

[209] _In Act. Apost._ c. 17. v. 28.

[210] Cp. p. 64.

[211] S. Aug. _de Magist._ 38. t. i. p. 916.

[212] S. Thom. Aq. _cont. Gent._ iv. 13.

[213] Thomassin, _Incarn._ i. 15.

[214] Gelasian, quoted by Bright, _Ancient Collects_, p. 98.




I. Many years ago, in undergraduate days, I was speaking once to a
friend of my hope of beginning some little acquaintance with Theology.
I well remember the air of nicely mingled civility and contemptuousness,
with which my friend, wishing to sympathize, at once drew a
distinction for me between speculative and dogmatic Theology, and
assumed that I could not mean that the mere study of dogmatic Theology
could have any sort of attractiveness. I do not think that I accepted
his kindly overture; but it certainly made me consider more than once
afterwards, whether the 'mere study of dogmatic Theology' could after
all be so slavish and profitless an employment as had been implied. On
the whole, however, I settled with myself that his condemnation,
however obviously candid and even impressive, must nevertheless
remain, so far as I was concerned, a surprise and an enigma. For what,
after all, did the study of dogmatic Theology mean, but the study of
those truths which the mind of Christ's Church upon earth has believed
to be at once the most certain and the most important truths of man's
history, nature and destiny, in this world and for ever?

It is impossible, however, not to feel that my friend, in his
objection, represented what was, and is, a very widespread instinct
against the study of dogma. Some think, for instance, that to
practical men exactnesses of doctrinal statement, even if true, are
immaterial. Others think that any exactness of doctrinal statement is
convicted, by its mere exactness, of untruth; for that knowledge about
things unseen can only be indefinite in character. If, indeed,
religious knowledge is a process of evolution simply, if it means only
a gradual development towards ever-increasing definiteness of
religious supposition, then no doubt its exactness may be the
condemnation of dogma. But then, no doubt, to make room for such a
view, the whole fact of historical Christianity must be first

Is it put as an impossibility, that there _cannot_ be any definite or
certain Theology? Can there, then, be a Revelation? Can there be an
Incarnation? Those only are consistent, who assert that all three are
impossible, and who understand that in so doing they are limiting the
possibilities, and therefore _pro tanto_ questioning the reality of a
Personal God. But if there be a Personal God, what are the adequate
grounds on which it is nevertheless laid down that He _cannot_
directly reveal Himself? Or, if He can reveal Himself, on what ground
can the _à priori_ assertion rest, that theological truth must be
uncertain or indefinite? The Christian Church claims to have both
definite and certain knowledge. These claims can never be met by any
_à priori_ judgment that such knowledge is impossible. Such a judgment
is too slenderly based to bear the weight of argument. To argue from
it would be to commit the very fault so often imputed to the
dogmatist. It would be a flagrant instance of dogmatic assertion (and
that for the most important of argumentative purposes) of what we
could not possibly know.

The claim of the Church to knowledge through the Incarnation can only
be rationally met, and only really answered, when the claim itself,
and its evidence, are seriously examined. Herein lies, and will always
lie, the heart of the struggle for or against the dogmatic character
of the Church. Anything else is only the fringe of the matter. Any
rebutting of _à priori_ presumptions against dogma is a mere clearing
of the way for battle. Thus it is said, perhaps, that the objection is
to the degree of definiteness, or to the tone of authority. It is
fancied that dogma in its very nature, quite apart from its contents,
is a curtailment of the rights, and a limitation of the powers, of
mind. Is dogma, the most definite and authoritative, fettering to the
freedom of intellect? We can see in a moment the entire unreality of
the objection, by simply substituting for it another question. Is
truth fettering to intellect? Does the utmost certitude of truth limit
freedom of mind? Because, if not, dogma, so far as it coincides with
truth, cannot fetter either. If perfect knowledge of truth could
paralyse the intellect, what (it is worth while to ask) do we mean by
intellect? Do we mean something which must for ever be struggling with
difficulties which it cannot overcome? Is it necessary for the idea of
mind that it should be baffled? Is it a creature only of the tangle
and the fog? And if ever the day should come, when after struggling,
more or less ineffectually, with the tangle and the fog, man should
emerge at last in clear sunshine upon the mountain top, will mind
cease to have any faculty or place, because the knowledge of truth has
come? At least, if we understand this to be the conception of mind, it
need not frighten us quite so much as it did, to be told that dogma
interferes with mind. But if, however different from our experience
the employment of mind would be in the presence of perfect knowledge,
we cannot so conceive of mind as to admit that truth could possibly be
its enemy or its destruction, then we may certainly insist that no
amount of dogma, so far as it is true, can limit or fetter the freedom
of intellect. But then we are at once thrown back upon the question;
is the dogmatic teaching of the Church true? No statement which
absolutely coincides with truth can hurt the freedom of mind. But
mistaken presumption of truth can, and does, limit it; and so does
authority, if it prevents the examination of truth. Dogma, then, is,
as dogma, a wrong to mind, just so far as it can be convicted of
either of these things; so far as it forbids examination, or so far as
it asserts what is not strictly true.

As to the first of these two suggestions against dogma, it is quite
enough simply to deny it. The Church, as a teacher of dogmatic truth,
does not forbid the freest and completest inquiry into the truths
which she enunciates. The question is not whether dogmatic theologians
have ever dreaded inquiry into truth; but whether the dogmatic Church,
as such, precludes or forbids it. True, she enunciates some truths as
true; and holds those, in different measures, unwise and wrong, who
contradict her truths. But she does not, therefore, forbid the fullest
exercise of intellect upon them; nor tremble lest intellect, rightly
wielded, should contradict them. Indeed for eighteen centuries she has
been engaged, and will be engaged to the end, in examining with a
power and discipline of intellect, which she alone ever has, or could
have, evoked, into the meaning and exactness of her own knowledge. But
she does warn inquirers that successful inquiry into her truths is no
work of merely ingenious disputation, but needs the exactest
discipline and balance of all the faculties of our human nature.

We return, then, to the second suggestion; and I repeat that the
question has for us become, not whether dogma in the abstract is
desirable or undesirable, but whether the dogmas of the Christian
Church are true or not true. Dogma that is true can only be
undesirable in so far as truth is undesirable.

Whether the dogmas of the Church are true or not true, is itself a
question of evidence.

Before, however, making any remark upon the nature of this evidence in
the case of religion, we may remember that the possession of dogma is
in no way peculiar to religion. There is no region of research or
knowledge which does not present to the student its own 'dogmata,' or
truths ascertained and agreed upon; nor does any one, in the name of
freedom of intellect, persist in treating these always as open

But perhaps if we venture thus to claim the ascertained truths of any
science as dogmas, the scientific answer will be ready. They differ,
it will be felt, from the nature of religious dogmas, in two important
respects. The first difference is, that they are offered for
acceptance with their full proofs, from the first moment that they are
offered at all. The student could not, it may be, have discovered for
himself the law of gravitation, or the circulation of the blood; but
he can, when these discoveries are once set before him by another, see
forthwith not only the coherency of the principles, but the cogency of
their proof. The second difference is, that when they have been
accepted by the student, proof and all, they still claim no allegiance
beyond what his intelligence cannot but freely give; he is still free
to supersede or upset them, if he can. He accepts them indeed
provisionally, as identical with the truth so far as the truth on the
subject is yet known; yet not necessarily as final truth. He accepts
them as truths which all his further study will comment upon;
presumably indeed in the way of continual illustration and
corroboration,--so that what he accepts for study will be more and
more certainly proved by the study--but also, if you please, in the
way of correction; for if his study can supersede, or even in any
measure correct or alter them,--why, so much the better both for
science and for him! Why should not this be equally true of Theology?
Why should religious dogmas be received without these conditions, as
certainly and finally true?

To begin with, then, some exception may be taken to the statement that
the student who accepts a scientific doctrine, has the full evidence
before him from the beginning. That it is not altogether so is evident
from the simple consideration, just mentioned, that his work is a
progressive one; and that the whole course of his experience tends,
and will tend, to deepen the certainty of his first principles. But in
so far as the proof of any leading principle is being deepened and
strengthened by the student's daily work, so far it is clear that the
amount of certainty about his principles with which at first he began,
must be less than that with which he ends at last; and therefore that
the proof presented to him at the beginning, however much it may have
been adequate to the purpose, (even though it may have been the
completest proof capable of being presented in the way of exposition
from the lip to the ear) was nevertheless most incomplete in
comparison with the fulness of attainable proof. And further, it may
certainly be said also, that in the convincingness of this evidence as
at first presented, authority, whether more or less, had an undoubted
part. At the very least it had a negative place, as a guarantee to the
young mind rejoicing in the ingenuity of the apparent demonstration,
that the apparent demonstration was not vitiated by some unseen
fallacy, or that there was not a series of other considerations
behind, which would rob the lesson just learnt of its practical
usefulness. Often, indeed, the degree of authority in the first
scientific convictions would be very much higher. Often, however
helpful the arguments or illustrations of a principle may seem, the
really overruling consideration will at first be this, that the whole
scientific world has absolutely accepted the principle as truth. So
much is this the case, that if an average student should find himself
unable in any point to receive the ascertained truths of his science
with intelligent agreement, he would not hesitate to assume that the
whole fault lay with himself; he would really be convinced in his soul
that the dicta of his scientific teachers were right, and that he
himself would see the certainty of them by and by.

Now in both these two respects the acceptance of religious dogma is
not essentially in contrast, but rather is parallel, with that of
scientific principles. For religious truth is neither in its first
acceptance a mere matter of blind submission to authority, nor is it
stagnant and unprogressive after it is accepted. However different in
other ways the leading truths of the Creed may be from scientific
principles; in this respect at least they are not different,--that not
one of them is ever brought for the acceptance of men without some
really intelligent evidence and ground for acceptance. If any man is
asked to accept them, without any intelligent ground for the
acceptance, we may be bold perhaps to assert that it would be his duty
to refuse. Of course, however, authority will itself be a large part
of his intelligent ground; a larger part or a smaller according to
circumstances. But then there is no proper antithesis between
believing in deference to authority, and believing in deference to
reason, unless it is understood that the authority believed in was
accepted at first as authority _without reason_, or maintained in
spite of the subsequent refusal of reason to give confirmatory witness
to its assertions. Even in the cases in which there seems to be least
use of reason, the case of a young child learning at his mother's
knee, or of a man whose spirit has suffered and been broken, and who
gives himself up at last to the mere guidance of a friend or a
teacher, the authority, when accepted at all, is accepted on grounds
essentially reasonable. The child's reasoning may differ in quality
from the prodigal's; but the child trusts father or mother on grounds
which are wholly, if unconsciously, a product of the strictest reason;
and the prodigal has felt in his inmost soul alike the deadness of his
own spiritual being, and the power and the beauty which are in the
life of the teacher upon whom he throws himself. And this is not the
only point; for the reasonable mind in one is not a thing different in
nature from the reasonable mind in another, or from the eternal reason
which is in God. The truths, therefore, which we are taught about God,
and man, and Christ, about sin, and redemption from sin, and the
heaven of holiness, and which seem to be accepted as a mere act of not
unreasonable dutifulness, do reasonably withal commend themselves, in
some shape or measure, even to the callow mind from its earliest
immaturity. There is that in the very consciousness of child, or of
criminal, with which they are in essential harmony. That in him with
which they are in essential correspondence bears witness of them. Nor
is anyone, in his acceptance of them, wholly insensible of this
witness to their truth, which is, in fact, engraven upon his own
conscious being.

To 'take religion on trust,' then, as it is sometimes derisively
called, is not really to act in defiance of, or apart from, reason. It
is an exercise of reason up to a certain point,--just so, and so far
as, the experience of the person warrants. He sees what to trust, and
why. He sees where understanding and experience which transcend his
own would point. And he seeks for the rational test of further
experience in the only way in which it can be had. He defers to the
voice of experience, in faith that his own experience will by and by
prove its truthfulness. On a medical question, men would not dispute,
they would loudly proclaim, the reasonableness and wisdom of such a
course. Yet there are those who suppose that the truths of religion
are to admit of a complete preliminary intellectual verification, a
verification apart from special training and experience, such as they
might more reasonably expect in any other subject-matter than
religion, but such as, in fact, they hardly expect elsewhere.

The doctrines of the Church, then, accepted at first on reasonable
evidence, which in a greater or less degree, but perhaps never wholly,
consists in authority reasonably accepted as authority, are then in
all the experience of spiritual life receiving continual comment,
explanation, corroboration. The whole experience of Christian life
must be a growth in the apprehension and certainty of Christian truth.
A Christian neophyte may believe every word of his Creed, and believe
neither ignorantly nor unintelligently. But the veteran Christian of
four-score will transcend the child at least as much in the degree of
certainty, with which the doctrines of the Church are to his entire
faculties mental, moral, and spiritual, proved and known to be true,
as he can possibly do in his merely intellectual apprehension of the
history or meaning of the words. We may say, indeed, that the life of
a professing Christian which is not a life of growth in the
apprehension of doctrinal truth, must necessarily be a retrogression;
just as the life of so-called scientific study, which is not
continually illuminating afresh, and deepening the certainty of its
own scientific principles, must gradually come to hold even its own
scientific principles less and less certainly, and to mean by them
less and less.

But even if it may be shewn that there is not quite so essential a
contrast as there seemed to be, between the character of theological
and scientific dogmas, by reason of the proofs which are offered,
along with his principles, to the student of any science; yet still it
will be felt that they differ essentially in the tone and manner with
which they respectively speak to intellect. The truths of the one
claim at once to possess an intellectual finality, and to command a
moral allegiance, which the truths of the other do not.

It may be worth while to say in reply, first of all, that there cannot
be a real contrast of finality between them, so far as they are both
really true. What is really true is really true. Neither 'absolutely,'
'finally,' nor any other adverb in the language will make the
statement a stronger one. What we call scientific truths are not in
fact liable to correction, except in so far as they may perhaps, after
all, not be quite scientific truths, except (that is) in respect of
such admixture of erroneous supposition, as still has clung to them
after general acceptance. And on the other hand, so far as any
mistaken assumptions are mixed up with our apprehension of religious
truths, so far these too _are_ liable to receive, and in the history
of Church doctrine are continually receiving, correction. It is, after
all, a truism. In either sphere the truths, so far as they really are
truths, are true absolutely: but are corrigible in so far as our
statement of them still contains anything that is other than truth. We
may put it, perhaps, in another way still. If, to assume an impossible
hypothesis, any one could really prove, not merely that there were
some exaggerations or misconceptions in the traditional mode of
statement of some doctrinal truths, but that our really essential
Faith was wrong, we may grant hypothetically (seeing that truth is
supreme) that he would do us all a mighty service, at however
tremendous a cost. Similarly of course it must be owned, that if any
one could prove the earth to be flat and stationary, and the law of
gravitation to be the precise contradictory of truth, he would do
immense service to science. But none the less, the scientific
certainty on these points is so complete, that if anyone seriously
assailed them, it would be felt that he could only be dealing with the
evidence in a way which tended to compromise the credit of his own
reason; and he would therefore be reasonably held to be, as it is
roughly phrased, a fool or a madman. And we must claim that for us the
certainty of some theological propositions is so complete, that when
anyone assails them, we are no less reasonable in regarding him with
concern, rather for his own truth's sake than for the truth of our
religion; and that, if miracles or 'an angel from heaven' should seem
to bear witness for him, it would still be no bigotry, but in the
strictest sense our reasonable course, to refuse the witness, and to
treat it as merely an attempt to ensnare us into falsehood to the real
requirements of our reason and conscience.

Is the conclusion, then, that there is after all no difference at all
between the truths of Theology and of Science, in respect of their
claim to authority? On the contrary, there remains a perfectly real
contrast of authority between them; only it is to be looked for
elsewhere than among the conditions upon which our belief in them
respectively is based.

There are two distinct senses in which the doctrines of the Creed may
be said to be authoritative. It may be meant that the authoritativeness
is in the manner in which they are presented to us; that is to say,
that (whatever their content may be) they are statements which we
believe, and are to believe, on the sole ground that we are told to do
so, without any appeal to reason of our own; or it may be meant that
they are statements whose content is of such nature and inherent
importance, that we cannot, in fact, believe them, without thereby
necessarily being involved in a train of consequential obligations of
thought and life. In this latter case the authoritativeness lies not
in the manner of their presentation to us or our acceptance of them,
but in that which is involved in the nature of the truths themselves,
_if and when_ they are believed.

Is it true to say of the Creeds that they are 'authoritative' in the
former sense? that is to say that they challenge our allegiance, and
we are bound to believe them, because we are told that they are true,
without examination on our part, and without reason? It has indeed
been stated already that, as between pupils and teachers, there is in
religious learning, as there is in all human learning whatever,
scientific or otherwise, a certain legitimate and important field for
authority reasonably accepted as authority, that is, the authority of
men more learned and experienced than ourselves. Even this, of course,
means that the pupil believes the things taught to be strictly
rational to the teacher, though they be not so, as yet, to himself.
But is it true, in speaking of religion, to carry this one step
further; and to say that in this sphere our _whole_ belief, and duty
of belief, rests upon authority as its ultimate foundation, the
authority not of man's experience, but of God's command? It must, no
doubt, be freely owned on all sides, that if there be a creed
commanded of God, we certainly are bound to believe it. But is there?
or when, or how, was it commanded? Does anyone answer, through our
Lord Jesus Christ? or through His Church? or through the Bible? But
who is He? or what is the Bible? or how do we know? To accept
doctrines, which we otherwise should not accept, because we are told
to do so, without knowing first who told us, or why we should believe
him, is simply not a reasonable possibility. But to ask these
questions and to have answers to them, and believe because we are
satisfied in some way as to the answers to them, is certainly not to
rest the act of believing on a foundation of mere authority:
essentially rather it is, to go over part of the ground of the Creed
first, and be satisfied as to the correctness of its main substance,
and _therefore_ to believe it. A Christian will not deny that the
doctrines of the Creed are entitled in fact to be held as
authoritative, in both of the senses distinguished above. But we
cannot believe them on God's authority till we have first believed in
the authority of God. And, therefore, their authoritativeness in what
we have called the first sense is not really the ultimate ground of
our accepting them: for it is not itself accepted and apprehended by
us, except as a consequence of our first believing that which is the
main substance of the Creed. It may be the warrant to us of this or
that detail considered apart: but it is not, and cannot ever be, the
original and sufficient cause of our believing the whole. _Credo ut
intelligam_ may be the most true and most reasonable motto of the
large part of Christian faith and life: but it is not inconsistent
with--it is founded upon--an ultimate underlying _intellexi ut
crederem_. There is, then, a real and abiding difference between
theological and scientific dogmas, in respect of the authority with
which they speak to us. But the difference is one which does not
affect at all the method or grounds of our original belief in them
respectively: it is to be found exclusively in the different
subject-matter of the two when believed.

And herein, also, it is that we find the real answer to the other form
of question, viz., why should Theology claim to be so much more final
than science? Much as science has conquered of the realm of truth, it
does not profess to have conquered more than a little. Of the vast
residuum it says nothing. It has no idea how small a proportion its
present knowledge may bear to that which will one day be known. Nay,
the further it advances in knowledge of truth, so much the smaller a
proportion does its realized truth seem to it to bear to that which
remains unexplored. Why should the theologian be less patient of
additions to theological knowledge, such as may some day throw all his
present creeds into comparative obscurity? Why should the Christian
Creed be fixed and inexpansive? The question is formidable only in an
abstract form. The reasonable answer to it confronts us the moment we
consider what is the subject-matter of the Creed. Scientific
principles are in their very nature fragments of a truth which is
practically infinite. But the Christian Creed, if true at all, cannot
possibly be a fragment of truth. For the Christian Creed does not
simply enunciate so many abstract principles of natural or
supernatural life or governance. It introduces us straight to a
supreme Person, Himself the beginning and end, the author and upholder
of all. Such a doctrine may be false; but it cannot be a fragment. The
child who believes in God, believes in everything, though he knows
hardly anything. He has infinitely more yet to learn, as to what his
own belief means. But he has nothing to add to it. The perfect
knowledge of the universe would not add to it, but would only explain
it. It is, then, by virtue of his personal relation to a Personality
which is Itself supreme and all inclusive, that he is guilty of no
presumption, even though in the face of the modest disavowals of
scientific men, he must maintain that his own creed is, in its proper
nature, even when all admissions have been made, rather a complete and
conclusive, than a partial or a tentative, statement of truth. But
this difference between him and them is the result neither of any
arrogance in his temper, nor any lack in his logic, but it follows
necessarily from the nature of the subject-matter of his creed, if and
when it is believed.

But still this fact that, if true, they are truths which by the
obvious necessity of their subject-matter speak to our intellects and
consciences with a tone of such Divinely commanding authority, ought
not to make me or anyone accept them as true, unless the evidence for
them is adequate. The question is not how authoritative they would be,
if true; nor how important or inclusive they would be, if true; nor is
any amount of contingent importance or authority adequate evidence for
their truth, but only a motive for inquiring into its evidence. The
question is, are they true? or are they not true? and the question is
a question of evidence.

II. And now, in recurring once more to the subject of the evidence by
which the dogmas of religion are proved, from which we diverged just
now, we find, in respect of it, a second reality of contrast between
theological truths and the truths of material science. For whilst in
both cases equally we depend upon evidence, and evidence that is
adequate; it does not follow that the evidence for both is in all
points similar in kind. In great part indeed it is so; but it is
certainly not so altogether. For when we speak of the evidence of
religious truths, it is to be remembered that the full evidence by
which our consciences are wholly convinced of them, is not of one kind
only, but of all kinds. The facts of religion address themselves to
the whole nature of man; and it is only by the whole nature of man
that they can ever be fully apprehended. Man is not a being of
intellectual conceptions or faculties only. And because he is not so,
therefore no set of principles which could be apprehended by the
intellect alone (as the theorems of Euclid may appear to be), and
which make for their acceptance no demand at all upon the qualities of
his moral or spiritual being, could really present, as religion
professes to present, a system of truth and life which would be
adequate to the scope of his whole nature. It is undoubtedly the case
that just as the truths of religion account for, and appeal to, his
whole being, so the evidence for them appeals to his whole being also.
For its complete appreciation there are requirements other than
intellectual. There must be not only certain endowments of mind, but
the life of a moral being. There must be moral affections, moral
perceptions, spiritual affinities and satisfactions. Even if the
primary conviction of his reason may be apart from these, yet of the
fully developed evidence, which is the real possession of the
Christian believer, these are a most important and necessary part.
Without these, his certainty, adequate though it might be, would be
far less profound than it is. These are to him essential ingredients
in the richness and the fulness of the evidence which to him is
everywhere. Now for this necessary width of the full confirmatory
evidence of religion, it is impossible for the religious man, with the
utmost desire to make every allowance and apology that is possible, to
offer any apology at all. So far from being a mark of inconsistency or
feebleness, it is a necessary note of the completeness of religion.
Religion professes to have for its subject-matter, and in a measure
incomplete, but relatively adequate, to include, to account for, and
to direct, the whole range of all man's history, all man's capacities,
explored or unexplored, all man's destiny now and for ever. If its
truths and their evidence were found to address themselves exclusively
to the intellect, in isolation from the other qualities and
experiences of man's nature, it would be self-convicted of inadequacy.
If men full of worldliness of heart and self-indulgence could be
capable of understanding the revelation of religious truth as
accurately, of embracing it as completely, of apprehending the depth
and the width of the evidence for it (with which all human nature
really is saturated) as thoroughly as the prayerful and the penitent,
this would not mean that religion or religious evidence had been
lifted up, on to a higher and more properly scientific level, but
rather that it had shrunk down into correspondence merely with a part,
and not the noblest part, of man's present nature.

It would be far beyond the scope of this paper to discuss kinds of
evidence, or argue in defence of the position that there is real
evidence for religious truth, which is none the less properly
evidence, because it is different in kind from the evidence for the
propositions of material science: but it may be permissible, at least,
in passing to record the claim, and to insist that religious men, in
confining themselves to strictly historical or logical arguments, are
necessarily omitting much which is nevertheless, to them, real ground.
There are evidences which can speak to the heart, the imagination, the
conscience, as well as the intelligence. Or, perhaps, we shall come
nearer to an exact expression of the truth, by saying that the
intelligence, which can apprehend and pronounce upon the evidence of
truths of spiritual consciousness, is an intelligence identical in
name, but not identical in nature, with that which can well weigh and
judge purely logical--or even that which can pronounce upon
moral--problems. The intelligence of a moral character, or of a
spiritual personality, differs not in range only, but in quality, from
that of a merely 'rational animal.' If the moral and the spiritual
intelligence did not contain quite other elements, drawn from quite
other experiences and possibilities, they could not work upon their
higher subject-matter at all. To the religious man, therefore, it must
seem strictly unreasonable, in the examination of truths which
professedly correspond to man's whole nature, and need his whole
nature and experience for the interpretation of them, to begin by
shutting out, as irrelevant, what we will modestly call the half of
man's nature; and to demand that the truths shall be so stated and so
proved, as that the statements and proofs shall correspond exclusively
with the other half, and find in that other half their whole
interpretation, and their whole evidence.

It may, indeed, be desirable to guard against a misconception, by the
express admission that there is some necessary ambiguity in the terms
employed. We may seem to have unduly extended both the verbal meaning,
and the sphere of importance, of 'evidence' and 'proof.' Undoubtedly
there is a sense in which it would be, not merely true to admit, but
important to insist, that in the acceptance of religious truth, Faith
neither is, nor ever can be, displaced, in order that Demonstration
may be enthroned in her place. But then Demonstration is a word which
belongs to strictly logical nomenclature. And the very point here
insisted on is that the strictly logical presentment of religion is,
in reference to the real presentment of religion, most inadequate.
Undoubtedly, if everything else is shorn away, and religion remains
solely and only in the form of strict logic, without sentiment,
without imagination, without experience of duty, or sin, or right, or
aspiration, or anything else which belongs to the spiritual
consciousness of human personalities, the logic of it is, and must be,
imperfectly conclusive.

Now words such as 'evidence,' 'proof,' 'intelligence,' are no doubt
often used in connection with processes of the intellect taken
apart--the intellect of a being merely rational. In insisting,
therefore, that the word evidence, when used in reference to religious
subject-matter, must include data which, to the observer of physical
phenomena, would seem vague and impalpable; and that intelligence, as
adequately trained to apprehend and give judgment upon religious
evidence, is in some respects other, and more, than that intelligence
which can deal with evidence into which no element of spiritual
consciousness enters; we differ, perhaps, at the most, more in form
than reality, from those who simply deprecate the appeal to 'evidence'
or 'proof' in matters of faith.

To the religious man, then, the fulness of Christian evidence is as
many-sided as human life. There is historical evidence,--itself of at
least a dozen different kinds,--literary evidence, metaphysical
evidence, moral evidence, evidence of sorrow and joy, of goodness and
of evil, of sin and of pardon, of despair and of hope, of life and of
death; evidence which defies enumerating; into this the whole gradual
life of the Christian grows; and there is no part nor element of life
which does not to him perpetually elucidate and confirm the knowledge
which has been given him. Everything that is or has been, every
consciousness, every possibility, even every doubt or wavering,
becomes to the Christian a part of the certainty--an element in the
absorbing reality--of his Creed.

But this is rather the end than the beginning. Certainly it is not
thus that the Creed of the Church can present itself to those whose
life is still independent of the Creed.

Let us consider, then, how the truths of the Creed did first, in fact,
introduce themselves to human consciousness. There are three several
stages of its presentment in history, of which the central one is so
overmastering in importance, that it alone gives their character to
the other two. They are, first, the leading up, in the world's history
and consciousness, to the life of Jesus Christ; secondly, the life and
death of Jesus Christ; thirdly, the results, in history and
consciousness, of the life and death of Jesus Christ. We may say,
perhaps, that of the first of these the main outcome was belief in
God; and such a God, that belief in Him carried with it the two
corollaries of aspiration after righteousness, and conviction of sin.
We may say that the third of these means the establishment of the
Church upon earth, and the articulating of her consciousness according
to the Creeds. But in any case all the three are plainly historical,
matters of historical inquiry, of historical evidence; and all plainly
depend entirely upon the intermediate one, the history of a certain
human life which purports to be--which either is, or is not--the
hinge-point of all history whatever.

All turns, then, upon a certain passage of history. Is the history, as
believed by Christians, true or false? The Christian record of that
history is the New Testament. Indeed, of that history, the New
Testament is the only record. Is, then, the history of the teaching
and the work, the life and the death, of Jesus Christ, presented to us
in the New Testament as a chapter of historical fact,--is it
historical fact, or is it not? The Incarnation is either a fact, or a
fiction. The Incarnation means also for Christians the Atonement. For
our present purpose, the Incarnation may be taken as necessarily
including the Atonement. But still of this complex fact the dilemma
stands. If it is not true, it is false. There is no middle term. If it
is not true, then, whether dogma in itself is, or is not, desirable,
at least all the dogma of the Christian Church is false.

The Incarnation and the Atonement together are not presented in the
New Testament as, by their own mere statement, guaranteeing
themselves. On the contrary, there is one single, definite, historical
fact, which is represented there as the central heart and core of the
evidence upon which the conviction of their truth depends. This fact
is the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Though this is not
the whole of the Christian Creed, yet this, according to S. Paul, is,
to the whole of the Christian Creed, crucial. 'If there be no
resurrection from the dead, then is Christ not risen; and if Christ be
not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have
testified of God, that he raised up Christ; whom He raised not up, if
so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not
Christ raised; and if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are
yet in your sins.' To be direct personal evidence of a certain fact,
and that fact the resurrection;--this was, in the view of S. Peter and
the Apostles, the first qualification, and the central meaning, of
Apostleship: 'must one be ordained _to be a witness with us of His
resurrection_;' 'this Jesus hath God raised up, _whereof we all are
witnesses_.' Upon the historical truth or falsehood, then, of the
resurrection, hangs the whole question of the nature and work of Jesus
Christ, the whole doctrine of Incarnation and Atonement.

But in saying this, it is necessary to guard our proper meaning. If we
admit the fact of the Resurrection to be cardinal, what is the fact of
the Resurrection which is in question? It is as far as possible from
being simply a question whether 'a man' could or could not, did or did
not, reappear, after death, in life. When we speak of the historical
fact, we must mean at least the whole fact with all that it was and
meant, complex as it was and many-sided; not with its meaning or its
proof isolated upon a single page of the book of history, but having
far-reaching affinities, parts essentially of its interpretation and
of its evidence, entwined in the depths of the whole constitution of
our nature, and the whole drama of history from the first moment to
the last. However much Christians may have at times to argue about the
simple evidence for the 'yes' or 'no' of the Resurrection of Jesus, as
if it were the alleged resurrection of any other man that was in
question, neither the question itself, nor the evidence about it, can
possibly be, in fact, of the same nature or upon the same level, as
the evidence about another. No amount of conviction of the
reappearance in life of any other man, would have any similar meaning,
or carry any similar consequences. The inherent character of Him who
rose, and the necessary connection between what He was, and had said
and claimed for Himself, on the one hand, and on the other His rising
out of death; this is an essential part of that fact of the
resurrection, which comes up for proof or disproof. The fact that
Jesus Christ, _being what He was_, the climax and fulfilment of a
thousand converging lines--nay, of all the antecedent history of
mankind--rose from the dead, and by that fact of resurrection
(solemnly fore-announced, yet none the less totally unlooked for)
illuminated and explained for the first time all that before had
seemed enigmatical or contradictory in what He was,--and indeed in all
humanity; this is the real fact of the resurrection which confronts
us. It is this vast fact which is either true or false. The
resurrection of the crucified Jesus cannot possibly be a bare or
simple fact. When viewed as a material manifestation of the moment
only, it is at least misunderstood; it may be unintelligible. It is,
no doubt, an event in history; and yet it confronts us, even there in
its place and witness in history, not simply as a finite historical
event, but as an eternal counsel and infinite act of God.

Yet there are times when we must consent to leave much of all this,
for the moment, on one side. Whatever else the event in history may
carry with it, of course it must stand its ground as a mere historical
event. The mere fact may be but a part of it; yet all will be
overthrown if the fact be not fact. And so, though the truths of the
Christian religion, and the evidence for them, be at least as wide as
was represented above, yet they present themselves to our minds still,
as they presented themselves at first to the minds of men, within the
sphere and the rules of ordinary human history and historical
evidence. Here are events written on the page of history. Examine
them. Are they historically false or true? If they be not false, what
do they mean and involve? This is the modest way in which they present

No one will now dispute that Jesus died upon the Cross. If He did not,
on the third day, rise again from that death to life;--cadit
quaestio--all Christian dogma, all Christian faith, is at an end.
Something might still be true which might be of interest; something,
even, which for sheer want of a better, might be still the most
interesting fact in the world's long history; but something which,
from the first line to the last, would be essentially different from
the Catholic faith. But, on the other hand, if He did so rise again,
then the fact of His resurrection necessarily raises further questions
as to His nature and being,--necessarily requires the understanding of
further truths for its own intelligent explanation. Now the present
paper is not an evidential treatise. It is no part of our task to
attempt to prove the historical reality of the resurrection. What it
does concern us to notice is the way in which the determination of all
Christian truth hinges upon it. If it falls, all the rest will drift
away, anchorless and unsubstantial, into the region of a merely
beautiful dreamland. As dreamland, indeed, it may still captivate and
inspire; but anchor of sure fact there will be none. It will only be a
beautiful imagination,--a false mirage reflected from, based upon,
falsehood. No doubt imagination is sovereign in the lives of men. But
then imagination means the vivifying of truth, not the spectral
embodiment of a lie.

On the other hand, if the fact of the resurrection stands, then it
cannot stand alone. If Jesus Christ so lived and taught as even the
most indefinite believers concede that He lived and taught, if He then
died on the Cross, _and rose again the third day from, the dead_, you
have indeed already the foundation dogma of the Creed; and having
that, you cannot possibly rest in it: that foundation fact will
absolutely compel you to ask and to answer certain further necessary
questions; and whatever intelligible answer you may choose to give to
them will be essentially a dogmatic definition. Who or what was this
man who thus lived, thus spoke, thus died, and thus rose from the
dead? As a matter of fact, the whole Church of Christ in history
(including the men who had been His own companions, trained and
inspired by Himself,) taught and believed, without shadow of
hesitation, that He was very God. Very gradually, indeed, had they
advanced to this; step by step, through their growing intimacy with a
character whose very excellences were only enigmatical and
confounding, so long as the master-truth, which lay behind them, was
ignored. And very tentative, on His side, was the method of His
self-revelation; through qualities, through inherent powers, through
explicit teachings, slowly felt, slowly recognised, as transcendent,
as impossible, except in relation to a truth which, after long
misconceptions and perplexities, is seen by them at last not only to
be true, but to be the essential truth which He Himself requires of
them. For, be the method as gradual and as tentative as you please,
these witnesses, who are, in fact, the only witnesses the world ever
has had, or can have, of His inner life and teaching, testify
unhesitatingly not only that all true acceptance of Him was, in their
judgment, acceptance of Him as God, but that His life and death were
penetrated by the consciousness of His own Godhead; and by the
deliberate purpose (through whatever unexpected patience of method) of
convincing the whole world in the end of His Godhead, and receiving
universal belief, and universal worship, as God.

Now no one to-day disputes that He was truly man. Is it true that He
was very God? It is either true or false. As to the fact there are
only the two alternatives. And between the two the gulf is impassable.
If it is not false, it is true. If it is not absolutely true, it is
absolutely false. According to the faith of the Catholic Church it is
absolutely true. According to the highest form of Arianism, not less
than according to the barest Socinianism, it is (however you may try
to gloss it over) absolutely false.

Once more, it is quite beyond our province to marshal or press
argumentatively the proofs that He was indeed God. But it is necessary
to see with perfect clearness, how the question must have been raised,
and being raised must have been answered. The very life of the Church
was belief in Him; and she could not remain fundamentally uncertain as
to who or what He was in whom she believed. This was the one thing
which had never been allowed to those who drew near Christ. All
through His ministry those who came near Him, and felt the spell of
His presence, His holiness, His power, were undergoing a training and
a sifting. Moment by moment, step by step, the accumulating evidence
of His transcendently perfect humanity kept forcing more and more upon
them all the question which He would never let them escape, the
question by which they were to be tested and judged; 'What think ye of
Christ?' 'If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.'

If there is a true historical sense in which the clear definition of
the doctrine of the Divinity of Jesus Christ must be assigned to the
Councils of the fourth and fifth centuries, yet it would be a great
historical blunder to state or imagine, as inference, that till then
the doctrine was only held partially or with imperfect consciousness
in the Catholic Church. The Church did not, as a result of those
controversies, develop the consciousness of any new doctrine: the
development of her consciousness was rather in respect of the shallow
but tempting logic which would deform, or the delusions which might
counterfeit, her doctrine, and of the perils to which these must lead.
It may be a question, indeed, how far the words implicit and explicit
do, or do not, represent the distinction between the dogmatic
consciousness of the Apostolic and the Conciliar ages. The difficulty
in determining depends solely on this, that the words themselves are
used with different meanings. Thus, sometimes men are said to hold
implicitly what they never perhaps suspected themselves of holding, if
it can be shewn to be a more or less legitimate outcome, or logical
development, of their belief. If such men advance inferentially from
point to point, their explicit belief at a later time may be, in many
particulars, materially different from what it had been at an earlier;
even though it might be logically shewn that the earlier thought was,
more or less directly, the parent of the later. Now in any such sense
as this we shall stoutly maintain that, from the beginning, the Church
held dogmatic truths not implicitly, but explicitly and positively.
They who baptized into the threefold Name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost; whose blessing was 'The grace of the Lord
Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy
Ghost;' who, living in the Spirit, lived in Christ; whose highest
worship was the Communion of the Body and the Blood of Christ, and
whose perfectness of life was Christ; they, so living and worshipping,
did not hold the Godhead of Jesus Christ implicitly; they did not hold
something out of which the doctrine of the Trinity might come to be
unfolded. On the other hand, you may use the same contrast of words,
meaning merely that you have, through cross-questioning or otherwise,
obtained a power which you did not possess, of defining, in thought
and in words, the limits of your belief, and distinguishing it
precisely from whatever does not belong to it. You hold still what you
always meant to hold. You say still what you always meant to say. But
it is your intellectual mastery over your own meaning which is
altered. Like a person fresh from the encounter of a keen
cross-examination, you are furnished now, as you were not before, with
distinctions and comparisons, with definitions and measurements,--in a
word, with all that intellectual equipment, that furniture of alert
perception and exact language, by which you are able to realize for
yourself, as well as to define to others, what that meaning exactly
is, and what it is not, which itself was before, as truly as it is
now, the very thing that you meant.

In this sense, no doubt, the definitions of councils did make
Christian consciousness more explicit in relation to positive truth.
They acquired, indeed, no new truth. Primarily they were rather, on
this side or on that, a blocking off of such false forms of thought or
avenues of unbalanced inference, as forced themselves forward, one by
one, amidst the intellectual efforts of the time, to challenge the
acceptance of Christian people. Primarily they are not the Church
saying 'yes' to fresh truths, or developments, or forms of
consciousness; but rather saying 'no' to untrue and misleading modes
of shaping and stating her truth. Only indirectly, in that effort, the
Church acquires through them a new definiteness of mastery for the
intellect in reference to the exactness of her own meaning.

It is comparatively easy for those who are convinced of a truth to
struggle against its open contradiction. But false modes of stating
their truth, and unbalanced inferences from their truth, are often
staggering to minds which would be unperplexed by any less insidious
form of error. It may be that, in all ages of the Church, even those
who are born and bred in undoubting faith in the Person of Jesus, have
to pass, more or less explicitly, through their own experience of
hesitation and exaggeration, of reaction and counter-reaction, before
they are quite in a position to define, or maintain by argument in the
face of insidious alternatives, the exact proportion of their own
Catholic belief.

Not unsuggestively, indeed, nor indirectly, do the oscillations of the
public consciousness in the era of the councils, as to the due
expression of Catholic belief, reproduce on a larger scale, and
therefore with more magnified clumsiness, the alternating
exaggerations of such a single struggling mind. The natural thought
begins, as a matter of course, as Apostles had begun of old, with the
perfect and obvious certainty that Jesus was a man. Then comes the
mighty crisis to natural thought. With infinite heavings and
strugglings, and every conceivable expedient of evasion, it strains to
avoid the immense conclusion which challenges it, catching eagerly at
every refinement, if so be it may be possible to stop short of full
acceptance of a truth so staggering (when it comes to be measured
intellectually) as that the Man Jesus was Himself the Eternal God. Now
however grossly unjust it might be to think of Arianism as if it ever
meant, or held, Jesus Christ to be merely a man; yet it is true that
in respect of the one great question which is at the root of Christian
faith,--is He God, or is He not?--it stands as offering alternatives
and expedients, by which the plain answer 'yes' may be avoided; by
which therefore the answer 'no' is in effect maintained; for between
'God' and 'not God' the distinction cannot be bridged. This, then, is
the real hinge-point of the Catholic faith. But when this, the
greatest of all battles of belief, is won at last, in spite of every
variety of Arian and semi-Arian refining; forthwith the undisciplined
mind, always ready to exaggerate, always difficult of balance, begins
so to run into ardour of expression of its truth, as in effect to make
unreal the other half of the doctrine of the Incarnation. The first
great wonder once grasped, it is so natural, in fervour of insistance
on the very Godhead, to forget or deny the simple completeness of the
very Manhood! It seems so hard,--almost wanting in reverence,--still
to conceive of Him then as perfectly human,--human body and human
soul! What more obvious reaction in the mind of any pupil not yet
perfectly steadied and balanced? Yet these few short sentences
represent not untruly the real process of education, painfully
accomplished by those intellectual struggles which culminated in the
councils of Nicaea and Constantinople, in 325 and 381 respectively.
And when the pupil is steadied from this second excess, and the
Godhead and the Manhood are both grasped, each severally, each
completely, there follows again a perfectly natural result in a new
uncertainty about the union of the two in Jesus. Again it seems an
instinct of reverence which shrinks from the truth. For the Manhood,
it is urged, though complete, body, soul, and spirit, must yet remain,
in Him, a thing separable and separate from His own original Divine
personality. But if the human nature was not verily His own nature, if
it was animated by any consciousness which was not absolutely His own
consciousness, the consciousness of His one undivided personality,--what
or whence in Him was this other than His own individual consciousness?
Is it so, then, the mind begins necessarily to ask itself, that the
mystery of the Incarnate Life was the mystery of a double consciousness,
a double personality? two distinguishable existences, two selves, two
identities, side by side, harmonious, allied, yet nowhere really
meeting in any one underlying principle of unity? It was necessary
that the doubt should be raised, that its meaning and results might be
measured. But it is this which becomes the Nestorianism against which
the council of Ephesus in 431 set the seal of Catholic belief. Once
more, the natural reaction from Nestorianism, when the believer is
keenly alert against its danger, is so to insist upon the indivisible
Personal unity, as to shrink from the admission of any distinguishableness
in Him, actual or possible, between the two natures or characters
which He united, between the human and the Divine elements in His one
consciousness. But this is either once more to curtail the true
completeness of the human nature, or to fuse it with the Divine into
some new thing not truly identical with either. And this is the
Monophysitism of 451, the subject-matter of the fourth great general
council at Chalcedon.

It is said, indeed, that the ages of councils were uncritical ages;
and that their decisions are therefore not to be accepted as
authoritative on questions of minute theological criticism, for which
their uncritical spirit made them specially unfit. The assertion is
perhaps a little beside the mark. You have not to plead that they were
likely to be uncritical, but to shew that they were in fact wrong. It
is clear that they were not specially unfit either to arrive at a
definiteness of meaning, or to express what they meant. They were sure
what they meant; and have expressed it with perfect clearness. The
question is not how critical they were likely to be, but whether their
meaning--which is clear--is right or wrong. Whatever antecedent
probability there may be either in the minds of nineteenth century
critics against their correctness, or in the minds of Churchmen
accustomed to defer to them in favour of it; it is certain that no one
who is really doubtful about the truth of Christianity, will be called
upon to accept it in deference to the mere authority of the Councils.
However much more they may be to ourselves, to such an one as this
they must stand at least as witnesses of what the consciousness of the
Christian community set its seal to, in the way of interpretation of
its own original deposit of belief. We do not much care to argue
whether they belonged to an age of criticism or not. Yet we must needs
be ready to listen to anyone who can prove that their determinations
were wrong. Councils, we admit, and Creeds, cannot go behind, but must
wholly rest upon the history of our Lord Jesus Christ. If anyone could
seriously convict the Creeds of being unscriptural, we must listen to
him and bow,--as scientific men would have to bow to anyone who really
could prove the fundamental propositions of their science to be wrong.
But meanwhile, so complete is the historical acceptance of the Creeds,
and their consecration in the consciousness of the Church; that there
is at least as clear a presumption that we are uncatholic in differing
from them, as there would be that we were unscientific if we dissented
from the most universally accepted faiths of science.

Now even this, the most commonplace statement of the growth of
Christian definitions, will serve to mark what the nature of dogma is.
So far from faith without it being a thing more spiritual or pure,
faith without it is a thing irrational. Faith in what? I cannot have
faith without an object. Faith in Jesus Christ? But who is Jesus
Christ? Is He a dead man? Is He, as a dead man, no longer in any
existence? Or am I, at least, necessarily ignorant as to whether He
and other dead men have any existence, actual or probable? Or is He a
man indeed,--no more; and dead indeed; but, as other good men, alive
after death somehow in the blessedness of God? And what then did His
life mean? or His strange deliberate dying? or what connection have
they of meaning or power with me? And this God that you speak of; do I
know anything of Him? or what? or how? Or again, is Jesus Himself the
living God? And are the things true which are handed down to me in the
Church as taught by Himself about the relations of God? Is He my
living Master; my very Redeemer by the Cross; my eternal Judge? and
where and how have I contact in life or soul with the benefits of His
Cross, or the power of His help? If indeed I have nothing to do with
Him, and no interest in His history, it is possible for me to go on
without caring to answer such questions. But faith in Him can have no
meaning while these are ignored. The question whether He is or is not
God, is one which cannot but be asked and answered.

And either answer to the question is alike dogmatic. The Arian is no
less dogmatic than the Catholic. A dogmatic faith is only a definite
faith; and that upon questions upon which it has become irrational to
remain indefinite, after I have once been brought to a certain point
of acquaintance with them. The question between the Catholic and the
Arian is, not whose doctrine evades definiteness of determination, but
whose dogma is in accord with the truth and its evidence. The negative
answer to the question proposed would only be unjudicial, not
undogmatic. Meanwhile, the affirmative answer would be so complete a
concession of the whole position, that if it has once been made, as
much has really been admitted, so far as any battle, about dogma goes,
as if the whole formal statement of the Athanasian Creed had been
expressly, as it will have been implicitly, included. There is
nothing, then, really to fight against in these words, 'The right
faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the substance of the Father,
begotten before the worlds: and Man, of the substance of His mother,
born in the world; perfect God, and perfect Man: of a reasonable soul
and human flesh subsisting; equal to the Father, as touching His
Godhead; and inferior to the Father, as touching His Manhood. Who
although He be God and Man: yet He is not two, but one Christ; One;
not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by taking of the
Manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of substance, but
by unity of Person.'

Another thing which perhaps the same commonplace statement may
illustrate as to the character of Christian dogma, is its largeness
and equity. It is harmony; it is proportion; it is the protest of
balanced completeness against all that partiality, which, by
exaggerating something that is true, distorts the proportion and
simplicity of truth. Every several form of error,--we admit it
willingly,--grew out of, and represented, a truth. Catholic doctrine
alone preserves the proportion of truth. To work and to think within
the lines of dogmatic faith, is to work and to think upon the true and
harmonious conception of the Person of Jesus Christ--'Quem nosse
vivere, Cui servire regnare.' In this knowledge certainly there is no
limitedness, and in this subordination no slavery.

The meaning of Christian dogma, then, so far as we have at present had
anything to do with it, is simply this. It is the self-realizing of
the consciousness of the Christian community in respect of the answer
to be given to that one great question, fundamental and inevitable,
with which all in all times who would approach Christ must be
met,--'Whom say ye that I am?'

But, it will be felt, it is all very well to insist so much upon this
one point, which it is comparatively easy to represent as the
necessary answer of a truthful conscience to a question which is
forced upon it by the plainest evidence;--but are there not a great
many Christian doctrines besides? What of the rest of them,--'all the
articles of the Christian faith,' as the Catechism says? I have
ventured to speak at length upon this one, not because it is easier to
handle conveniently than the others, but because it directly carries,
if it does not contain, everything. It is not only that this is in
itself so tremendous a dogma, that no one who affirms this can
possibly quarrel any longer with the principle of dogmatic definition,
but that this so inevitably involves all the other propositions of the
Creed, that no one, whose conscience has accepted this, will find it
easy to separate between it and the whole Christian faith.

The Christian Creed consists of three parts only; and all three are,
'Belief in God.' 'I believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Ghost' is, in brief, the whole Christian Creed. Its shortest
expression is in three words (which three words are but one), 'Holy,
Holy, Holy.' The definitions of the Apostles', of the Nicene, and of
the Athanasian Creeds, none of them really travel outside of this.
Take, for example, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Intellectually it
is, of course, antecedent to the doctrine of the Incarnation and the
Atonement. But it will be observed that it is made known to us not
antecedently, but as a consequence of our previous conviction of the
Incarnation. Moreover, when it is made known, it is made known rather
incidentally than directly. Even though it is, when revealed and
apprehended, the inclusive sum of our faith, yet there is, in the
revelation, no formal unfolding of it, as of a mysterious truth set to
challenge our express contemplation and worship. There is nothing here
to be found in the least corresponding with the explicit challenge,
'Whom say ye that I am?' or 'On this rock will I build My Church;' but
rather indirectly, so far as our contemplation of the Incarnation, and
its abiding consequences, requires for its own necessary
interpretation to our understanding, that we should have some insight
into the mystery of the distinction of Persons in the Godhead, so far,
and in reference to that purpose, the mystery of the Holy Trinity
grows gradually into clearness of revelation to our consciousness. It
is clear that any distinctness of conception whatever as to the
meaning of Incarnation would be impossible, without some revelation of
mutual relations between the Sender and the Sent, the Immutable and
the Incarnate, the Father and the Son. If it is less clear from the
first, it is surely not less certain, that any conception we may have
of the relation so revealed between the Father and the Son, would be
fainter by far, and less intelligible than it is, if it were not for
that which our Lord Jesus Christ has told us as to the office and
nature of the Holy Spirit; if with our growing conception of
distinctness and relation as between the Sender and the Sent, we had
not also some added conception of that Blessed Spirit of Holiness,
Who, emanating from both, is the Spirit of both alike, and is thereby
also the very bond of perfectness of Love whereby both are united in
One; and whereby, further, all spirits in whom God's presence dwells,
are united, so far, in a real oneness of spirit with one another and
with God. And it is quite certain, that whether we seem to anyone to
be right or no in treating this revelation of the Holy Ghost as a
necessary, if incidental, part of what we had need to be taught of the
revelation of the Father and the Son, in order to make Incarnation
properly intelligible; it is altogether essential for that other
purpose, in connection with which the revelation is more immediately
made, that is, for any understanding on our part of the abiding work
of God in His Church, after the Resurrection and Ascension. 'The holy
Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the Forgiveness of sins, the
Resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting;' these are not
miscellaneous items thrown in at the end of the Creed after the
doctrine of the Holy Trinity is finished, but they are essential parts
of the understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Ghost: and on the
other hand, without the revelation of the Person and work of the Holy
Ghost, these doctrines, practical though they be, and vital for
practice,--no less indeed than the very essence and meaning of the
work of the Incarnation from the day of Ascension forwards, that is to
say the whole historical effect and fruit of the Incarnation,--would
be evacuated of all living meaning, and would become for us only the
empty phrases of a far-away baseless yearning, which even now (apart
from the life of the Holy Spirit informing us) they are ever too ready
to become.

It is hoped that even such brief statements may at least serve to
indicate how it is true that the whole of our Christian creed, even
those parts which seem most separable from it, or antecedent to it,
are for us really contained in the one crucial doctrine of the
Incarnation, that is, of the eternal Godhead of the Man Christ Jesus.
And this will compel us once more to recognise the simplicity of
Christian dogma. It does not mean a complicated system of arbitrary
definitions upon a great variety of subjects of religious speculation,
formulated one after another by human ingenuity, and imposed by human
despotism upon the consciences of the unthinking or the submissive; it
means rather the simple expression (guarded according to experience of
misconception) of the fundamental fact of the Incarnation, together
with such revelation as to the relations of the Divine Being, and the
wonder of His work amongst men, as is clearly lit up by the event of
the Incarnation itself, and is required for such apprehension of the
meaning and effects of the Incarnation, as Jesus Christ held to be
meet and necessary for us.

And so it is with all parts of Christian doctrine. If they would be
found to be necessarily contained in a full unfolding of the great
truth which the Creed so briefly and simply declares, then they really
are parts of our faith, because they are really involved in the
understanding of the threefold revelation to man of the Name of God,
which is the sum total of our faith. But if the Name of our God does
not contain them, they are not in our creed or our faith. Is there,
for example, a visible Church? Is there an Apostolic Ministry? The
answer depends on the inquiry as to what is revealed, first in
Scripture, and then in history, as to the method of the working of the
Spirit of Christ in the world. Did the Old Testament prefigure, in
action and in utterance, did the Incarnation require, did the Gospels
interpret or comment upon, did the Apostles organize or govern, any
definitely articulated society, with ceremonies or officers, rules or
discipline, of its own? Was this, the method of association and
membership, or was some other, the mode of the working of the Spirit
of the Christ among men? Is the work of Christ, in redeeming and
reconciling to God, is His present relation to the world, properly
intelligible, or not,--apart from the Church? Is the ministry of the
Church, or are the sacraments of the Church, to those who thoughtfully
read Scripture and history, a demonstrable part, or normal condition,
of the working of the Holy Ghost in the Church? If so, belief in them
is contained in my words, not only when I say, 'I believe in the holy
Catholic Church,' but also, though less plainly, when I say, 'I
believe in the Holy Ghost.' But if not, it is not contained. If they
are really separable from the Catholic Church, truly understood, or
from the understanding of the Holy Spirit and His work, then they are
no part of what any Christian need believe. But so far as the holy
Catholic Church,--so far as the orderly, covenanted work of the Holy
Spirit in the world,--involves and contains the idea of the ministry
or the sacraments, so far every Christian will know, just in
proportion as he knows the true meaning of his creed, that he is bound
to them. It is no part of my business to pursue the question of the
sacraments or the ministry further here.

It may be observed, perhaps, that the Creed contains no proposition
expressly about ourselves,--about the fall, for instance, or about
sin. Yet in and from the first word of the Creed, I of course am
present there: and as to formal propositions about myself, it may be
that they are not so much articles of belief, as, rather, conditions
of mind antecedent to belief, conditions of self-consciousness to
which belief fits and responds, and without which the Creed itself
would be unintelligible. But what is thus necessarily implied and
involved in the terms of the Creed, is after all substantially
contained in that Creed to which it is a condition of intelligibleness.
Of course my creed necessarily presupposes myself. I cannot believe at
all, except I am, and have a certain history and faculties. I cannot
believe in God as Father, as Almighty, as Creator, without implying
and including within that belief the fundamental facts of my nature
and relation to Him. I cannot believe in the Incarnation and the
Redemption, their meaning or their consequences, I cannot believe in
the Holy Spirit, or have any intelligent apprehension of His working,
except there be implied, as conditions of my consciousness necessary
to that intelligence, some apprehension of that which is meant by the
fall, some inalienable sense of evil, of sin, of the banishment from
God which is the fruit of sin, of the inherent contradiction to my
nature, the unnatural penalty and horror, which the banishment of sin
involves. So probation, judgment, heaven, hell, are beliefs which grow
by inevitable consequence out of the apprehension, once grasped, of
the nature and distinction of good and evil; they are necessary
corollaries from the full perception of the eternal rightness of
right, the eternal wrongness of wrong, the eternal separation and
contrast between right and wrong; in a word, from belief in God on the
part of man.

Perhaps this illustration may serve to shew how much, that is not
obvious in the letter, may nevertheless be really contained in man's
utterance of the Name of God.

III. But while the doctrines of the Church which her Creeds express
are thus as simple as they are profound, it is no doubt true that
there has grown up round about them a considerable body of theological
teaching, more or less complicated, which is really of the nature of
comment upon them, or explication of their nature and meaning. When we
speak of the dogmas of Christianity, it is right to distinguish, with
the clearest possible line of demarcation, between all this mass of
explanatory teaching (more or less authoritative as it may from time
to time appear to be) and the central truths themselves, which are our
real certainties. The doctrine itself is one thing: the theories
explicative of the doctrine are another. They may be of the highest
value in their own time and place; but they are not the immutable
principles of Church truth. To say this is not really to depreciate
the work of theological writers and teachers of different ages; but it
is to assign to their work its true position. The current mode of
explaining a doctrine in one age, and bringing it home by
illustrations to the imagination of men, may be discredited and
superseded in another. When the current mode of statement or
illustration begins to be more or less discredited, the minds of quiet
people are apt to be distressed. This is because very few of us can
distinguish between the truths themselves which we hold, and the
(often mistaken) modes of expression by which we seem to explain our
truths to ourselves. Even when our explanation is substantially true,
the doctrine is still a different thing from our explanation of it;
and if any imperfection is detected in our explanation of it, it is
not truth which suffers; it is only that truth is being distinguished
from our imperfect and unconscious glosses; and thereby in the end the
truth can only be served. Perhaps no illustration of this can be more
convincing than that which the history of the doctrine of Atonement
supplies. That Christ died upon the cross for us, that He offered
Himself as a sacrifice, and that we are redeemed through His blood,
this is a belief fundamental to Christianity; nor has the Church ever
wavered for an instant in her strong faith in this. But when we go
further, and come to the different illustrations that have been given
to make the precise nature of Atonement clear to human logic, when in
fact we enter upon the domain of explicative theories, we have not
only left the sure ground of the Creeds, and embarked upon views which
may or may not be correct, but we find, as a fact, that the modes of
thought which seemed adequately to explain the doctrine to the
conscience of some ages, have not only failed to satisfy, but have
actually shocked and offended, others. The teaching that God was
angry, but that Jesus, as a result of gentler mercy, and through His
innocent blood, appeased, by satisfying, the wrath of the Father, and
so reconciled God to us; the teaching that Satan had obtained a right
over man, but that Jesus, by giving up Himself, paid a splendid ransom
into the hands of Satan; the teaching that a debt was due from
humanity to God, and that Jesus, clothed as man, alone could deliver
man by discharging God's debt: these--be they popular blunderings, or
genuine efforts of Theology--may, in their times, have both helped and
wounded consciences; but whether they be to us as helps or hindrances,
it is of the utmost importance that we should discriminate them, or
others which may have succeeded to them as theories explanatory of the
Atonement, from our cardinal belief in the Atonement itself. We may
have rightly seen what is vicious in these statements, and we may have
greatly improved upon them, but however much more helpful our modes of
exposition may prove themselves to our own minds or those of our
hearers, we may only be repeating the old error, and leading the way
to fresh distresses in the future, if we confound our mode of
explanatory comment with the truth of the doctrine itself, and claim
that the mysterious fact of the Atonement means exactly that which is
our own best approach to a statement, in illustrative words, of what
it expresses to us.

But it may be asked, Are you not saying too much? Does not this seem
to mean that the doctrines themselves are little better than
unintelligible symbols, which need not indeed be changed for the
simple reason that they can be made to mean whatever is necessary to
suit the times? No, the truth of them does not change; and even the
changeful modes of presenting them are less changeful, after all, than
they seem. They cannot indefinitely vary; there is one thing which
unites them all, and that is the truth itself which lies behind them
all. The Atonement is a fact, whether I can adequately expound it or
no. The Atonement is a fact, which my attempted expositions do indeed
represent, more or less correctly, more or less clumsily, even when I
seem most to have failed. Much as they may seem to differ, and
inconsistent as they may appear with each other, yet not one of them
really represents untruth but truth. Imperfect images they may be, and
in respect of their imperfections, diverse and distorting; yet there
is not one of the theories of Atonement referred to above--not even
such as are now seen to contain most error--which did not, as
seriously held, represent and convey some real image of the truth. It
may be that the truth which they represented was conveyed in an
inexact way; and that afterwards, when attention was concentrated on
the points of inexactness, the statement became, and would have
become, more and more misleading; it was no longer then a possible
vehicle of truth; but what it had really conveyed to those to whom it
was living, was a real soul-enlightening image of the truth of the
Atonement. It was an imperfect image; it was even in part a distorted
image,--as everything that I see through my window is in part
distorted. But it was a real image of the real truth none the less.

Local and popular modes of exposition then are often as the medium
through which dogmatic truth is seen and apprehended,--not always,
certainly, without distortion. But the more catholic the truth, the
more it retains its identity of form, however remote from each other,
in place or time, the diverse types of mind which view and teach it,
so much the purer must it be from accidental or temporary
conditionings; so much the nearer, in rank, to a fundamental doctrine
of the Catholic Church.

We do not, of course, distinguish Catholic dogma from theological
literature, as though the one were bare facts, and the other all
explanations of the facts. But we may rightly confine the use of the
word 'dogma' to the fundamental facts, together with such explanation
of them as the Church has agreed, by universal instinct, or by
dogmatic decree endorsed through ecumenical acceptance, to be
essential to a reasonable apprehension of the facts.

It is the more important to guard with unfaltering clearness this
distinction between dogma on the one hand, and theological literature
on the other, because it is, no doubt, in the sphere of explanatory
theories and expressions, that most of those controversies find their
place, which distress quiet minds, and rouse hot battles of orthodoxy
between sincere Christian combatants. If it could be recognised at the
time how far the apparent innovators of successive generations were
really questioning not the doctrines themselves, but certain
traditional modes of thought and teaching which have wrongly adhered
to the doctrines, there would be fewer accusations of heterodoxy, and
less distress and perplexity amongst the orthodox. But it is natural
enough that this should not be perceived by the defenders, when the
innovators themselves are so often both blind and indifferent to it.
And it is just herein that the different innovators are apt to make
themselves indefensible. Too often they think that they are making
real advance upon the doctrines of the Church and her Creeds, and they
are elated, instead of being ashamed, at the thought. They make light
of loyalty, they despise the birthright of their Churchmanship, and
find their own self-exaltation in the very consciousness of offending
their brethren. This, whether done under provocation or no, is to
depart from the spirit of the Church of Christ, in temper and meaning
at least,--even though their work in the long run should prove (as it
must so far as there is truth in it) only to serve the interest and
work of the Church.

It is easier to see this in retrospect than in struggle. But perhaps
those who look back upon the struggles of the last generation within
the Church, will recognise that the orthodox thought of the present
day has been not a little cleared and served, not merely by the work
of orthodox defence, but in no small part by the work of the
'liberalizers' also. To say this, is by no means necessarily to acquit
the liberalizers, or to cast a slur upon those who fought against
them. Such condemnations or acquittals depend upon other
considerations, which do not concern us here. But putting wholly aside
as irrelevant all condemnation or acquittal of individuals, we may yet
acknowledge that the work done has in the end served the cause of the
truth and the Church. This is said, of course, of its real
intellectual outcome; certainly not of the unsettling of souls by the
way. And it is also to be noted that even when the fruit of their work
has been in a real sense, after all, accepted and incorporated, it is
hardly ever in the sense, and never quite with the results, which
they, so far as they had allowed themselves to be malcontents, had
supposed. But if whatever is good and true in their work becomes,
after all, an element in the consciousness of the Church, might not
the work itself have been done, all along, in perfect Church loyalty?
In so far as different earnest writers of a generation ago, or of
to-day, are really, whether consciously or not, making a contribution
to one of the great theological tasks of our time, in so far (that is)
as they are helping towards the correction of erroneous fancies of
popular theology,--helping, for instance, to modify that superstitious
over-statement about 'justification' which would really leave no
meaning in 'righteousness;' or to limit the grossness of the theory
often represented by the word 'imputation;' or to rebuke the nervous
selfishness of religionists whose one idea of the meaning of religion
was 'to be saved;' or to qualify the materialism or superstition of
ignorant sacramentalists; or to banish dogmatic realisms about hell,
or explications of atonement which malign God's Fatherhood; or the
freezing chill and paralysis of all life supposed before now to be
necessarily involved in the Apostolic words 'predestination' and
'election;' so far they are really, though it may be from the outside
and very indirectly, doing the work of the Church. But the pity of it
is that the men who do this kind of service are so apt to spoil it, by
overvaluing themselves and forgetting the loveliness and the power of
perfect subordination to the Church. We may own that Church people and
Church rulers have too often been the stumbling-block. It is they who
again and again have seemed to fight against everything, and by
intellectual apathy, and stern moral proscription of every form of
mental difficulty (wherein oftentimes are the birth-throes of
enlightenment) to drive living and growing intelligence out of the
Church. It is true that the greatest of Churchmen would, if the badge
of their work were submissiveness, have sometimes to wait awhile, and
bear delay, and wrong from inferior minds, with the patience of
humility. Yes; but that work of theirs, if it once were stamped with
this seal of patient submissiveness, would be a glory to the Church
for ever, like the work of her quiet confessors, the work of a
Scupoli, a Ken, or a Fénelon; instead of being, as it more often seems
to be, a great offending and perplexing of thousands of the very
consciences which deserve to be treated most tenderly, and therefore
also a wrong and a loss to the conscience and character of the writer.

Are statements like these a concession to the antidogmatist? If so,
they are one to which, in the name of truth, he is heartily welcome.
And perhaps, under the same high sanction we may add what will look,
to some minds, like another. We claimed some time since that the Creed
must be, to Christians, rather a complete and conclusive than a
partial or a tentative statement of truth. Yet there is one sense in
which we may own that even the definitions of the Creeds may
themselves be called relative and temporary. For we must not claim for
phrases of earthly coinage a more than earthly and relative
completeness. The Creeds are temporary, in that they are a complete
and sufficient statement of truth only for time. And therefore they
are only quite perfectly adequate to express those truths which have
their place in time. But we, in respect of truths which transcend
time, if we cannot as yet be freed from the trammels and limits of
earthly thought and expression, yet can recognise at least the fact,
that we are, even in our Creeds, still labouring within those
trammels. We may have ground for believing the Creeds of the Church to
be the most perfectly balanced and harmonious expression of the truth
whereof our earthly knowledge is, or will be, capable. Yet when we
struggle, as in the language of the Athanasian Creed, to express the
relations which have been exhibited to us in the eternal Godhead
through the use of the words 'Person' and 'Substance,' or ὑπόσταστς
and οὐσία; or when we thus profess our belief in the Person of the
Holy Ghost, 'The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither
made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding,' need we fear to own
that the instruments which, perforce, we make use of upon earth, even
in the Creeds of the Church, are necessarily imperfect instruments;
the power of conception imperfect; the power of phrase and imagery
imperfect also; and that their sufficiency of truth (though not their
correctness meanwhile) is so far temporary that it is limited to earth
and to time; and that, in the perfect light and knowledge of the
presence of God, the perfectest knowledge represented by them will be
superseded and absorbed, while the glosses and materialisms with
which, in various ways, we may have been unconsciously clothing them
to our own imaginations, will be--not superseded only but corrected,
and, it may be, reproved? Moreover, if the truths represented in the
Creeds are wider and deeper than our conceptions of them, we can admit
that there may possibly be particulars in which, even now, the
experience of spiritual life may deepen and enlarge the meaning, to
us, of our Creeds; as, for instance, the words heaven and hell may
present to us ideas differing, in the direction of more correctness,
from those which they presented to some of our forefathers. It is not
that the Creeds will be some day corrected. It is not that we shall
see hereafter how false they were, but how far the best conceptions
which they opened to us,--the best, that is, that our earthly
faculties were capable of, lagged in their clumsiness behind the
perfect apprehension of the truths which they had, nevertheless, not
untruly represented; but which we then shall have power to see and
know as they are. The truth which is dimly imaged for us in the
Creeds, will never belie, but will infinitely transcend, what their
words represented on earth.

But it will very naturally be asked by what right we speak thus of the
Creeds. In the very moment of admitting, in one sense, their
incompleteness and want of finality, by what right do we lay down
still that they are final and complete to the end of time; that is,
perhaps, through ages of human advance, of which we may have now no
conception at all? Such a question does not apply to the strictly
historical statements which constitute the foundation of our creed,
but to those interpretations of historical fact, and to those
assertions about the Divine Being and its relations, which necessarily
transcend time and experience. And after all, perhaps, the answer is
not difficult. We have to consider, first, that for the very reason
that these beliefs do absolutely transcend time and experience,
therefore no human development which belongs merely to time and
experience, can, in itself, displace or improve upon them; and
secondly, that our knowledge of these truths is really derived from a
Divine revelation, which took place, as we believe, within time and
experience. We may say, indeed, that the statements of this Divine
revelation are corroborated to us, by such elements of thought as our
reason (which we believe to be also in its reality Divine) is able to
supply. It remains, however, that they can only really be proved or
disproved, by arguments which go to prove or disprove the truth of the
historical Incarnation, and of the revelations which it contains.

It follows from hence that we have a valid right to hold them not only
true, but final in their statement of truth for this present world,
exactly so far as we have a right to believe that our historical
revelation is, for time, a final one. Should there, indeed, be a
wholly fresh revelation, the amount of truth hitherto revealed might
be superseded; but nothing short of a revelation can supersede it. The
idea that any advance of human reason could be inconsistent with it,
involves for the Christian who believes human reason to be divinely
reflected and divinely implanted, nothing less than an unthinkable
contradiction. We may therefore believe it in any case to be final,
till the coming of a further revelation: and so far as there is
anything in the truth already revealed to us, which may warrant us in
feeling confident that there is no fresh revelation in store, within
the limits of time, by which the revelation of Jesus Christ will be
superseded, just so far and no further are we justified in claiming
for those clauses in the Creed, whose subject-matter transcends time
and experience, that they are the completest expressions of their
truths which can be reached in time.

IV. It may, perhaps, be a matter of prudence to refer for a moment to
what are called the 'damnatory clauses' of the Athanasian Creed;
though it would not be necessary to do so for the purpose of any
positive statement or explanation of Christian doctrine. These
clauses, however, to the positive statement add a negative. It is easy
to misunderstand them, and even, by misrepresenting, to make them
appear grotesque. But if the question be as to what they really mean,
they are, after all, to the Christian, an obvious and necessary
corollary of the Creed which is his life. There is but One God, and
One Heaven, and One Salvation; not a choice of alternative salvations,
or heavens, or gods. There is One Incarnation, One Cross, One Divine
restoring and exalting of humanity. There is One Spirit of God, One
Church--the fabric and the method of the working of the Spirit,--One
Spiritual Covenant with man. Man must have part in this One, or he has
part in none; for there is no other. Man must have knowledge of this
One, belief in this One; or there is none for him to believe in or to
know. God's covenant is with His Church on earth; and the statements
of the Creed are the representation in words of that knowledge of the
truth which the Church possesses, the possession of which is her life.
The Athanasian Creed is not addressed to outsiders, but to those who
are within the Church. For encouragement, or (if necessary) for
warning, it insists to them on the uniqueness of their faith. To have
hold on God is to have hold on Life. To revolt from God is to revolt
from Life. This is so, to those who have or ought to have learnt that
it is so, both in fact and in thought. Thus, in fact, to drop out of
communion with the Incarnation of Christ, is to drop out of communion
with the inner realities and possibilities of humanity. But the mind,
and its convictions and meanings, cannot wholly be separated from the
facts of the life. There comes, at least in most lives, a time when
the man's own allegiance to the facts is a necessary condition of his
identification with them. 'If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall
die in your sins.' There comes a point at which the mind's refusal of
the doctrines of religion is the man's revolt from the facts; and
_such_ a revolt is repudiation of the One revelation of God, the One
Incarnation, the One Salvation, the One Church or Covenant. This must
be broadly true, true in the abstract, as principle, unless truth and
falsehood, right and wrong, are fundamentally false distinctions, and
every man is to be equally good, and equally compelled to heaven. At
what point any individual person, or class of persons, does, or does
not, in the sight of the Judge who knows the whole inward history, and
tries the most secret motive, fall within the scope of this principle,
and incur the final condemnation of rebellion against the one light
and hope of all humanity, is another question altogether. Any such
application of the principle to the case of individuals belongs only
to God the Judge, and would be an arrogant impiety in any man. Even
when such a question may have to be determined ecclesiastically, the
ecclesiastical condemnation and sentence, though expressly
representing in shadow the eternal sentence, is none the less quite
distinct, and indeed in its ultimate motive even contrasted with it.
But however unchristian it may be to say that A or B will perish
everlastingly, the principle nevertheless is true, that the truth
which the Creed embodies, the truth of which Christ's Incarnation is
the pivot and centre, is _the only_ deliverance from everlasting
perishing; and that whole-hearted union and communion with this truth,
is that true state of Church life which alone has the certain seal of
the covenant of God. This broad truth it is, the necessary complement
of any holding of the Christian creed as true, which these clauses
affirm. If it be said, 'your Athanasian Creed is simple and trenchant;
it has no qualifications such as you admit'; our reply would be
threefold. First, the Creed is part of our heritage from the past, and
its phraseology is not our handiwork; but we know that the necessary
qualifications with which we understand its phraseology have been
generally recognised by the Church from which we inherit it. Secondly,
the _Quicunque vult_ is, strictly, not so much a creed as a canticle;
it has never been used as a test of Church communion; and it speaks,
on a point like this, as the _Te Deum_ would speak, in the language
not of judicial award but of devotional loyalty. Thirdly, the
qualifications with which we say that any generalisation about man's
responsibility for belief, whether in this 'canticle' or in scripture,
must necessarily be understood, are only such as all men apply to any
similar generalisation about responsibility for conduct. 'If ye
believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins,' is paralleled by
'They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.' We
claim only to interpret the one as rationally as all men understand
the other.

It has seemed to be desirable, while insisting upon the claims of
dogma, not indeed in the name of allegiance to imposed authority, but
in the name of truth, and on the ground of its simple identity with
truth, to try to state, with the utmost possible plainness, whatever
could be truly admitted in the way of apparent qualification of those
claims. Truth is supreme, and eternal; and dogma, so far as it
coincides with truth, is, of course, all that truth is. For the
dogmatic position of the Church and her Creeds, we claim that it is
the true and simple expression upon earth of the highest truth that
is, or can be, known. But dogmatic theologians are not infallible, and
so far as the name of dogma has been claimed for mistaken presumption
or misleading statement of truth, so far may dogma have seemed to
fight against truth. The words, indeed, 'dogmatic' and 'dogmatism'
have acquired a bad reputation. But this is not the fault of dogma. A
dogmatist, in the invidious sense of the word, does not mean one who
studies dogma, but rather one who foolishly utters what are not dogmas
as if they were. The dogmatic temper is the temper of one who is
imperiously confident that he is right when he is not. That is to say,
the words dogma, dogmatic, dogmatize, etc., are commonly used of
something which is the mere abuse and travesty of their proper
meaning. It is hard that dogma itself should be prejudiced by this
caricaturing misuse of its name.

Meanwhile, if real charges be brought against any part of our dogmatic
creed, we are willing most honestly to examine into them. In so far as
they are made against current suppositions, which are separable from
our essential belief,--separable as, for example, we now see various
details of traditional belief about the first chapter of Genesis to be
separable--we join our critics in the examination with a mind as open
as they could desire. And it must, in simple candour, be admitted
further, that upon the appearance of any new form of thought,
Churchmen have not generally been quick of mind to discriminate the
essential from the non-essential, so as to receive at first, with any
openness of mind, what they had afterwards to admit that they might
have received from the first. But not even this admission must prevent
us from claiming, that when that to which exception is taken does
really belong to the essential truths of our creed, which to us are
more absolutely established certainties than anything in heaven and
earth besides, they must pardon us if, while we are still willing to
give the most candid hearing possible to everything that they have to
urge, we yet cannot, if we would, divest ourselves of the deepest
certainties of our existence;--cannot therefore pretend to argue with
more openness of mind than would scientific professors--say with a
champion who undertook to prove that the globe was flat, or that the
sun went round the earth. We are ready to listen to everything. We are
fully prepared to find that the champion may produce in evidence some
phenomena which we shall be unable to account for. We have found it
before; we are not unaccustomed to finding it (though, in good time,
the perplexity always unravels itself); and we shall be in no way
disconcerted if we find it again. But we cannot pretend meanwhile to
hold all the truth which our consciences have known in suspense.

V. What was said just now about the Creeds will not, it is hoped,
appear to any minds to fail in the entire respect which is due to
them. Yet it makes it, perhaps, the more incumbent upon us to take
notice of another form of attack upon dogma, which connects itself
with an attitude about the Creeds, such as may seem at first sight to
be not wholly dissimilar; though presently all the foundations of
dogma are dissolved by it. But in point of fact, if we admit that what
the Creeds mean on earth, is less than what the same truths will mean
in heaven, or that there may be, even here, a clumsier, and a
completer, understanding of them; this is a position essentially
different from maintaining that what the Creeds both say and mean, is
not only less than, but (if strictly taken) inconsistent with, the
real truth; and that not in any transcendent sense, as celestial
beings, with wholly other faculties, may conceivably have power of
apprehending it in heaven, but as the more intelligent among us may,
and do, see it now. This is not only to admit that the Creeds are
built up, perforce, of materials which belong to this earth; but to
treat them as mere serviceable fictions for the teaching of the
uncivilized or the young. The deliberate unbeliever, indeed, assumes
that the Creeds mean what they say, and that the Church understands
the Creeds. Assuming this, he parts company with the Church, because
he holds that the statements of her Creeds are, in fact, fictitious.
But it may surprise us to find that there is another form of this view
of the fictitiousness of Creeds, and that here the critic speaks, not
at all in the character of an unbeliever, but rather in that of an
enlightened Churchman. All Christian truth, he says, is true. Even the
Creeds in a real sense represent the truth. But the Church's
understanding and expression of Christian truth in the Creeds, is,
none the less, strictly, a misrepresentation of the truth. Though the
truth of Christ lies behind the Church's Creeds, yet they have so
overlaid, and thereby, in strict speech, misstated it, that it is only
the patience of criticism, which cutting bravely adrift from the
authority of traditional interpretation, has succeeded in
discriminating between the Creeds and the meaning of the Creeds, and
behind what are practically the fictions of dogmatic Christianity, has
re-discovered the germs of Christian truth. Neither the facts of the
life of Jesus Christ, nor His teaching, nor His consciousness in
regard of Himself, were as we have been taught, but were something
different. He never thought nor taught of Himself as personally God,
nor did He perform any miracles, nor did He rise on the third day from
the dead. Whatever scriptures state these things explicitly, are
proved by that very fact to be glosses or errors. And yet, all the
while, everything is true spiritually. The record of the Incarnate
Life is true literally, it may be, at comparatively few points;
certainly not the story of the Birth; certainly not the story of the
Resurrection; certainly not any incident which involves, or any
expression which implies, miracle. But the Birth, the Resurrection,
the miracles, every one of them, represent, in the most splendid of
imaginative language and portraiture, essential spiritual truths. They
are fictions, but vivid representations, in fiction, of fact; splendid
truths, therefore, so long as they are understood to be literally
fictitious, but perversions of truth, if taken for truth of fact.

It is this conception which was set forth not long ago with a singular
power and persuasiveness by the author of _The Kernel and the Husk_.
The lofty level of thought, the restraint and felicity of language,
above all the deeply religious spirit of the author, invest his
arguments with a charm of unusual attractiveness. The arguments are
not such as it is wholly pleasant to see thus recommended. He deals in
detail, in the course of the volume, with much of the narrative of
Scripture, with the purpose of shewing how one by one the various
records, including of course the Birth and Resurrection, have grown to
their present form out of realities which contained no miracle, and
which therefore differed essentially from the historical scriptures
and faith of the Church.

It is no part of our task to enter upon such details. Nor is it
necessary. The struggle against such a theory of Christianity will not
be fought out on details. It may be conceded that many of the
miracles, taken singly, can easily be made to fall in with conjectural
theories as to a mythical origin, _if only the antecedent conviction_
against their reality as miracles _be cogent enough_ really to require
that the necessary force should be put upon the evidence. Some indeed
may lend themselves to the process with a facility which fairly
surprises us. Others seem still to be very obstinate, and force the
rationalizer into strange hypotheses. But after all, the real
question, through one and all, is not how easily this or that miracle
can be made, by squeezing of evidence, to square with a rationalizing
hypothesis; but what is the strength of the argument for the
rationalizing hypothesis itself, which is the warrant for squeezing
the evidence at all.

The Evangelists say that Jesus taught in the synagogue at Capernaum.
Our author takes for granted that He did so. The Evangelists say that
Jesus miraculously multiplied loaves and fishes in the wilderness. Our
author takes for granted that He did not so. Now why this contrast?
Incidentally, indeed, it may be remarked that on the author's own
general method, this multiplication of loaves ought to be one of the
most certain facts in the life of Christ, as it is emphasized in every
Gospel. But this is by the way. The real ground of the contrast in the
treatment of the same evidence is a certain prior conviction with
which the evidence is approached. Now we are not contending that any
such sifting of evidence in the light of prior tests is inadmissible.
On the contrary, there is hardly anyone who does not, on a similar
principle, explain the differences (for example) in the accounts of
the title upon the Cross, or the difficulty as to whether Jesus healed
one blind man or two, on the way into, or out from, Jericho; but we do
say that the admissibleness of such a method of interpreting
absolutely depends upon the certainty of the correctness of the prior
conviction itself.

The various details of ingenuity, then, with which he explains away
particular incidents, are to us of quite subordinate interest.
Everything depends upon the cogency of the grounds for explaining away
at all. A large part of the book is occupied in explaining away the
facts of Christianity, as the Christian Church has hitherto understood
them; an explaining away which may be more or less necessary, more or
less satisfactory, if the premisses which require it are once
admitted; but which certainly is wholly unnecessary, and wholly
unsatisfactory, if those premisses are denied.

The prior conviction in the book in question is that miracles neither
do, nor did, happen in fact, and therefore that any narrative which
involves them is incredible. All the ingenuities of conjecture on
individual points become relevant subsequently to, and in reliance
upon, this underlying principle. Admit this, and they are forthwith
interesting and valuable. Deny this, and they lose their importance at
once. It is the pressure of this prior conviction which seems to give
life and force to a number of suggestions, about other stories, and
particularly about that of the Resurrection, which, apart from this
animating conviction, would be felt to be very lifeless; and to a
total experiment of subjective reconstruction, which, but for the
strength of the antecedent conviction, would have been impossible to
men of reverent thought and modest utterance. The teaching of the book
will therefore really be accepted or the reverse, precisely according
as the minds of its readers do, or do not, incline to admit the
hypothesis upon which it depends.

It is probable, indeed, that the author would demur to this statement,
at least when put so simply; on the ground that, though he avows the
conviction, yet he has reached the conviction itself by no _à priori_
road, but as the result of wide observation and unprejudiced scrutiny
of evidence. Now it is not at all meant to be asserted that the
conviction against miracle is itself reached merely by an _à priori_
method. No doubt it has, in fact, been arrived at, in those minds
which have fully arrived at it, not _à priori_, but as the result of a
great induction from experience; practically indeed, as it seems to
them, from experience as good as universal. The weight of the evidence
in this direction is neither denied nor forgotten. Yet even when it
most impresses us, of course it is obvious still to reply to ourselves
that however powerful this array of experience may appear so long as
there are no instances to the contrary, yet any one contrary instance
will break at once the cogency of the induction. The case of Jesus
Christ is put forward as being unique. Its uniqueness is not really
qualified by the fact that some others, among those nearest to
Himself, were by Him enabled--avowedly in _His_ power, not their
own,--to do acts which were impossible to other men. This is only a
wider extension of His unique power, not a qualification of it.
Against such a case, put forward on evidence definite and multiform,
and put forward as essentially unique, an argument from induction is
no argument at all. It is a misnomer to call the induction an
argument. The induction, in fact, is merely an observation that other
persons did not perform similar miracles; and that, if Jesus Christ
did so, He was unique. But this is no answer to the Christian
position. It is part of the position itself.

And so the matter must be referred for settlement to the evidence that
is actually forthcoming about Jesus Christ. But it is plain that the
inductive presumption against miracle, derived from experience of
other men, must not come in to warp or rule this evidence. It may be
present indeed as a sort of cross-examining counsel, as a
consideration requiring that the evidence should be most minutely
scrutinized, and suggesting all sorts of questions with a view to
this. But into the evidence itself, it cannot be permitted to intrude.

Now, it is part of our complaint against such writers as the author of
_The Kernel and the Husk_, that however much their general presumption
against miracle may have been inductively and patiently reached; yet
when they come to deal with the evidence about Jesus Christ, this
conviction (which ought to stand on one side inquiringly) becomes to
them an underlying postulate; it is settled beforehand; it is present
with them in their exegesis, not simply as a motive for sifting the
evidence carefully, but as a touchstone of truth by which it may all
be tried. Probably the author would believe that he has reached his
conviction against the miracles of Jesus of Nazareth, not merely from
a general induction as to the absence of miracle in the lives of
others, but also from an unprejudiced scrutiny of the evidence of the
life of Jesus Christ Himself. But this is just what we are not at all
prepared to concede. On the contrary, we maintain that his scrutiny is
wholly prejudiced. Examine the evidence with a bias sufficiently
powerful against belief in miracle; and you may end in the result
which this author reaches. Examine it without such a bias; and you
will find yourself at every turn protesting against his mode of
treating the evidence. It is a scrutiny of the evidence _on the basis
of the inadmissibleness of miracles_, which gives him that coherent
theory about the growth of the Christian tradition, and those
consequent principles of interpretation of the text of the Gospels,
which he appears to regard as the simple result of the evidence

We shall very likely be surprised to find that, after all, the
abstract impossibility of miracle is not laid down,--nay, is expressly
disclaimed,--by him. Miracle (if we rightly understand) is not
impossible absolutely,--not even, he adds, _à priori_ improbable; yet
it is _equivalent to_ an impossibility, because the will of the Father
indwelt wholly in Jesus, and because the perfect uniformity of natural
processes as we have experienced them, is, _in fact_, and with no
exceptions, the will of the Father[215]. No general reflections upon
our dependence, in ordinary life, on the good faith of an uniform
nature, ought to blind us to the fact that this last position neither
has, nor can have, any adequate ground at all. It is surprising that
with so weak a statement of the impossibility of miracle, the
principle of the impossibility of miracle should have to bear the
extraordinary weight that is put upon it. Nothing short of a
demonstration of this impossibility would fully justify the critical
position that is adopted. For it is, in fact, upon this impossibility
that the whole re-reading of the history is based.

It is probably true that if once the hypothesis of the impossibility
of miracle be accepted as practically certain, an earnest mind,
penetrated with this as its overruling principle, and dwelling upon
the Gospels always and only in the light of this, will be compelled
gradually to re-read in one place and re-interpret in another, until
the whole has been, by steps that upon the hypothesis were
irresistible, metamorphosed into a form as unlike as possible, indeed,
to what it wore at first, but still one which can be felt to be
precious and beautiful. But we are entitled to point out how
absolutely this re-reading of the evidence depends upon the truth of
the principle which underlies it. For the sake of this, all sorts of
violence has to be done to what would otherwise be, in one incident
after another, the obvious meaning of words, the obvious outcome of
evidence. Without the certainty of this, the new method of reading
must be critically condemned as baseless and arbitrary. This alone
makes it rationally possible. Without the strong cogency of this it
falls instantly to pieces.

Now orthodox Christians are sometimes accused of reading their
historical evidence in the light of a preconception. They begin with
the doctrine of the Creed, and read all records of fact with the
conviction of that doctrine in their hearts and consciences. We need
not be altogether concerned to combat this statement. Perhaps few
records are read, or would ever be read intelligently, except in the
light of the reader's preconceptions. But our point is to see clearly
that at all events the new reading of the Gospel history is itself so
entirely the outcome and creature of its antecedent principle, that it
cannot without that hold together for an instant.

Let us be content, for the moment, to view the orthodox Christian and
the new rationalist as both alike really reading the Gospel narrative
in the light of a preconceived principle; the one viewing everything
on the basis of the perfect Divinity of the historical Jesus Christ
(with the corollary that it is impossible for us to determine _à
priori_ what power His perfect Humanity--for which we have no
precedent--would, or would not, naturally and necessarily exhibit);
the other viewing everything on the basis of the absolute
impossibility, or at least the incredibleness, of miracle. We might
point out that the former in his hypothesis has a principle which
absolutely fits and perfectly accounts for every part of the evidence
which confronts him; while the latter is compelled, by the cogency of
his principle, to reconstruct for himself almost every chapter of the
evidence. And if we go one step further back, and ask, what is the
antecedent reasonableness of the one hypothesis, or of the other? from
what source is each derived? We must claim it as simple fact, that the
former hypothesis is itself the direct outcome of the evidence,--the
inevitable outcome, indeed, so long as the evidence stands: while the
other is at bottom, an assumption, held absolutely in the teeth of the
evidence actually existing in respect of the life and consciousness of
Jesus of Nazareth, and itself on other grounds not merely unproved,
but essentially incapable of proof[216].

But if our hypothesis is itself the outcome of the evidence, and fits
with perfect exactness into all its intricacies, then we yield far too
much if we treat it as on the level of a mere preconception. To
persist in reading the New Testament by the light of the preconception
of the dogma of Christ's Godhead (with the corollary that no miracle
is incredible as miracle), is to be prejudiced only in the same sense
in which the scientist is prejudiced who persists in studying the
records of astronomy in the light of certain preconceptions as to the
parabola or the law of gravitation.

But what is the case with the other hypothesis? By it the historical
Jesus Christ is swept away; and another personality, which does not
exist in the history at all, but which the history has suggested to
certain earnest-minded critics of our own day, is substituted in His
place. All those who witnessed of His words and deeds to the Church,
all those whose witness the Church has accepted and sealed, are
thoroughly mistaken, mistaken in the very points which to them were
fundamental. However honest they may have been in their superstitious
ignorance, they certainly bore to the world what was, in fact, false
testimony. It is impressive, with a strange impressiveness, to follow
this hypothesis through the story of Christ's life; and see with what
ingenuity, often plausible, often pathetic, the old facts are
refashioned to meet the new principle.

Cardinal, of course, in difficulty as in importance, is the narrative
of the Resurrection; that plain statement of fact, to testify whereto
was the primary qualification, and primary function, of Apostleship;
and which, from S. Peter and S. Paul downwards, has always been
recognised as cardinal to the faith of the Church.

Now given; first, the certain conviction that no miracle occurred; and
secondly, a working hypothesis as to the growth of the Christian
Scriptures, which not only enables, but requires, you to set aside, on
grounds of subjective criticism, all such evidence as seems to you to
be improbable; and it follows that, if you are still of a very
religious mind, you will probably have to take refuge in what may yet
be to you the beautiful story of a Resurrection exclusively spiritual.

You must, of course, deal very violently with the direct evidence. But
that is already covered by the general theory you have reached as to
the historical genesis and value (or lack of value) of the books of
the New Testament. And, of course, in adopting such a view of the
books of the New Testament, you are reducing to a phantasm the reality
of your belief in the Holy Catholic Church, which has enshrined and
consecrated, as perfectest truth, what are really at best only
fables,--capable, indeed, of clumsily representing the truth to the
childish or the stupid, but beginning to be absolutely pernicious to
minds which have reached a certain point of intelligent education.

Tolerating these things, however, you may admit the truth of the
Resurrection (as you may admit every proposition of the Creed) in
words; only in a sense so refined, so exclusively spiritual, that no
bodily reality of resurrection is left. There is no resurrection in
your creed correlative to the dying. There is no resurrection more, or
more demonstrable, than what we believe to be true of men in general.
There is no resurrection which enters within the ordinary sphere of
human history, or admits any direct contact with the normal methods of
human evidence or human proof. The question raised is not whether
current imaginations of the Resurrection may possibly be more or less
exaggerated in the way of materialism, but whether there was any
corporeal reality of resurrection at all. And the question is settled
in the negative. The foundation fact of the Creed is etherealized
away; and all the rest, with it, becomes together impalpable and

We do not say that there is not a large element which is true, in the
thought of such a writer as we have been considering. Where the mind
is so devoutly in earnest, it is no hard task to believe that it too
must be animated originally by truth. We need not say, therefore, that
the work of this earnestness may not serve us all, and contribute to
the thought of us all. It may well be true that in our bald
understanding of the doctrine of the Resurrection,--or indeed of the
whole Incarnation, from beginning to end,--we have, many of us, too
little imagined the scope and depth of its spiritual import. If our
orthodoxy has been so well content with insisting mechanically upon
the literal fact, as not only to forget, but to disdain or disown in
any measure, the vast spiritual realities which it ought to express to
us; then our stupidity, or narrowness, in orthodoxy, is in part to
blame, for the distaste which they have created towards orthodoxy in
some natures more sensitive than our own. In so far as they can, in
this respect, return good for evil, we will not be slow to acknowledge
our debt to them. We will be grateful for any new suggestion they can
discover, as to the moral beauty or import of the Resurrection, or of
the Incarnation, or of any or every other miracle considered upon its
moral side as allegory. Some ways at least there may be, in which
their insistance may tend to deepen for us our understanding of
truths, whose more spiritual aspects we had dwelt upon perhaps, in
some cases,--perhaps had even imagined,--far too little. But doubtless
that true element of their work, which the mind of the Catholic Church
will assimilate, will be greatly modified from the form in which it
now presents itself--to them as to others. It will, to say the least,
be positive rather than negative; stimulating spiritual sensibilities,
but not by explaining away the facts of the body; widening (it may be)
our insight into the divineness of history, and the depth of the
meaning of certain events which happened in it,--but not shattering
both it and them, by dissolving their historical truth.

Meanwhile of the one-sided aspect we can but say that no doubt
transcendental spiritualism has a great attractiveness. The Magian
aspiration always was fascinating. Individuals, indeed, of
enthusiastic sympathies, trained themselves in dogmatic truth, and
indulging their freest speculations always on a background of
inveterate dogmatic instinct, may fancy the 'spiritualized
Christianity' to be in itself a stable and a living completeness; but
as a system, it will neither produce life nor perpetuate it. It is an
attempt to improve upon the Church of Christ, upon the conditions of
human nature, upon the facts of history. The Church of Christ is not
so. The Church of Christ does not ignore the fundamental conditions of
human experience. The Church of Christ is balanced, harmonious,
all-embracing, all-adjusting. The Incarnation was the sanctifying of
both parts of human nature, not the abolition of either. The Church,
the Sacraments, human nature, Jesus Christ Himself, all are twofold;
all are earthly objective, as well as transcendental spiritual. And so
long as this world is real as well as the next; so long as man is body
as well as soul; so long all attempts to evaporate the body and its
realities are foredoomed to a necessary and a salutary failure. The
religion, which attempts to be rid of the bodily side of things
spiritual, sooner or later loses hold of all reality. Pure
spiritualism, however noble the aspiration, however living the energy
with which it starts, always has ended at last, and will always end,
in evanescence.

[215] See especially the concluding paragraphs of letter xix.

[216] 'The question of miracles seems now to be admitted on all hands
to be simply a question of evidence.' These are the words as much of
Professor Huxley as of the Duke of Argyll. _Nineteenth Century_, April
1887, p. 483: cp. Feb. 1887, pp. 201, etc.




I. Theological doctrine, describing, as it professes to do, the
dealings of an all-wise Person with the human race, must be a
consistent whole, each part of which reflects the oneness of the will
on which it is based. What we call particular doctrines are in reality
only various applications to various human conditions of one great
uniform method of Divine government, which is the expression in human
affairs of one Divine will. The theological statement of any part of
this method ought to bear on its face the marks of the whole from
which it is temporarily separated; for though it may be necessary to
make now this, now that doctrine prominent, to isolate it and lay
stress on it, this should be done in such a way that in each special
truth the whole should, in a manner, be contained. We must be able to
trace out in each the lines of the Divine action which is only fully
displayed in the whole. Neglect of this not only makes our faith as a
whole weak and incoherent, but deprives the doctrines themselves of
the illumination and strength which are afforded by the discovery in
them of mutual likeness and harmony. They become first unintelligible
and then inconceivable, and the revelation of the character of God,
which should be perceived in every part of His dealings with men,
becomes confused and dim to us. This has been especially the case with
the Atonement. In the course of religious controversy this doctrine
has become separated from the rest, at one time neglected, at another
over emphasized, till in its isolation it has been so stated as to be
almost incredible. Men could not indeed be brought to disbelieve in
forgiveness, however attained, and the conviction of remission of sins
through and in the Blood of Christ has survived all the theories which
have been framed to account for it; but nevertheless, the unreality of
these theories has been a disaster to the Christian faith. Some of
them have strained our belief in the moral attributes of God, others
have given men easy thoughts of sin and its consequences. This has
been so because they have treated the Atonement apart from the whole
body of facts which make up the Christian conception of God and His
dealings with men. In this essay the attempt will be made to present
the doctrine in its relation to the other great Christian truths: to
the doctrines, that is, of God, of the Incarnation, of sin.

(1) On the human side the fact with which we have to deal is the fact
of sin. Of this conception the Bible, the most complete record of the
religious history of man, is full from the first page to the last.
Throughout the whole course of Jewish development, the idea that man
has offended the justice of God was one of the abiding elements in the
religious consciousness of the race. But it was by no means confined
to the Jews. They have been truly called the conservators of the idea
of sin; but it has never been permanently absent, in some form or
other, from the human mind, although we learn most about it, and can
see it in its clearest, most intense form, in the Hebrew religion. Now
this conception of sin in its effect on the human soul is of a twofold
character. Sin is felt to be alienation from God, Who is the source of
life, and strength, and peace, and in consequence of that alienation
the whole nature is weakened and corrupted. In this aspect sin is a
state in which the will is separated from the Divine will, the life is
cut off from the life of God which He designed us to share. When men
come to realize what is meant by union with God, and to feel the awful
consequences of separation, there arises at once the longing for a
return, a reconciliation; but this longing has by itself no power to
effect so great a change. To pass from alienation to union is to pass
from darkness to light, from evil to good, and can only be
accomplished by that very power, the power of a life united to God,
which has been forfeited by sin. Only in union with God can man
accomplish anything that is good; and, therefore, so long as he is
alienated from God, he can only long for, he cannot obtain, his
reunion with the Divine life. Sin therefore, thus considered, is not
only wickedness; it is also misery and hopelessness. Sinners are
'without God in the world,' and for that reason they 'have no hope.'

This is the aspect of sin as a state of the sinful soul, and as
affecting the present relation between man and God. It has destroyed
the union, has broken down even the sacrificial bridge, for it has
made all acceptable offerings impossible. Man's will is weakened,
therefore he has not strength to offer himself completely and
unreservedly to God; his nature is corrupted and stained, therefore
his offering, could he make it, could not be accepted. Sin is a
hopeless state of weakness and uncleanness. But there is another, in
one sense an earlier, more fundamental aspect of sin. The sins of the
past have produced not merely weakness and corruption, but also guilt.
The sinner feels himself guilty before God. If we examine the idea of
guilt, as realized by the conscience, it will be seen to contain the
belief in an external power, or law, or person against whom the
offence has been committed, and also an internal feeling, the
acknowledgment of ill-desert, a sense of being under sentence, and
that justly. Whether the punishment which is felt to be the due reward
of the offence has been borne or not, the conception of punishment,
when the offence has been committed, cannot be avoided, and it brings
with it a conviction of its justice. These two elements, the external
and the internal element, seem to be necessary to the full conception
of guilt. The common fallacy that a self-indulgent sinner is no one's
enemy but his own would, were it true, involve the further inference
that such a sinner would not feel himself guilty. But it is precisely
because the consciousness of sin does not and cannot stop here that,
over and above any injury to self, any weakness or even corruption
produced by sin, we speak of its guilt. 'Against Thee, Thee only, have
I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight.' This belief in an
external power, whose condemnation has been incurred by sin, may take
various forms; for the power may be represented as impersonal or as
personal, as law or as God. For our present purposes, however, the
distinction is immaterial: the essential point is that it is something
external to ourselves, not merely the echo of the sinner's own
self-inflicted pain and injury. We cannot, however, limit it to this.
For it is not merely an external power, it is also a just power that
is presented to the sense of guilt. Before bare power, unrighteous or
non-moral, an offender may be compelled to submit, but he will not
feel guilt. The state of mind expressed by Mill's well-known defiance
is his who has offended a superior power which he cannot believe to be
just, and it is very far removed from the feeling of guiltiness[217].
The sense of guilt implies the righteousness as well as the power of
that against which we have offended; it is a moral conviction.
Guiltiness, then, regarded in one aspect is the sense of sin, in
another it is the recognition of the law of righteousness, or, if we
may now assume the religious point of view, it is the conviction of
the wrath of God against sin.

It is plain, if we will only scrutinise closely and candidly the
conception of sin and guilt, that no merely 'subjective' explanation
will account for the facts revealed by our consciousness. Even if we
had no scriptural evidence to guide us, the evidence, that is, to take
it at the lowest, of a series of specially qualified witnesses to
religious phenomena, our own hearts would tell us of the wrath of God
against sin. It is irresistibly felt that there is a Power hostile to
sin, and that this Power has decreed a righteous punishment for the
offences which are the external signs and results of the sinful state.
Whatever the punishment may be, a question we need not now discuss,
the sinner's conscience warns him of it. He may apparently, or for a
time, escape it; but it is none the less felt to be the fitting
expression of Divine wrath, the righteous manifestation of the
hostility of God's nature to sin and all its consequences. Guilt,
then, like sin, has its twofold character. It is the belief in an
external hostility to sin expressing itself in punishment, and also
the conviction that such punishment is righteous and just. Thus, when
once God is recognised as the offended Person, the acknowledgment of
the righteousness of His judgment follows. 'Against Thee, Thee only,
have I sinned, and done that which is evil in Thy sight; that Thou
mightest be justified when Thou speakest, and be clear when Thou

(2) Corresponding to the sense of sin in its twofold aspect we find,
not only in the Mosaic system or in the scriptural history, but almost
universally established, the system of sacrifice. It is not necessary
to maintain that sacrifice, in its essential idea, was intended to
express the consciousness of sin. Rather, it seems to be, essentially,
the expression of the very opposite of sin, of that relation of man to
God which sin destroyed[218]. It is sometimes said that sacrifice is
the recognition of God's sovereignty, the tribute paid by His
subjects. This is, of course, a necessary element in the conception of
sacrifice, for God is our King; but it does not satisfy the whole
consciousness which man has of his original relation to God. That is a
relation, not of subjection only, but of union at least as close as
that of sons to a Father, a union whereby we derive life from His
life, and render back absolute unquestioning love to Him. Sacrifice
is, in its highest, original meaning, the outward expression of this
love. As human love naturally takes outward form in gifts, and the
closer, the more fervent it is, makes those gifts more and more
personal, till at last it wholly gives itself; so sacrifice should be
the recognition of our union with God, an expression of our love for
Him, giving Him all that we have and all that we are. Submission,
reverence, love are the original feelings which sacrifice was intended
to represent; and it may be called, therefore, the expression of man's
relations to God in their purest form, unmarred and unbroken by sin.
But this is only the original, ideal meaning, for with the intrusion
of sin another element appears in sacrifice; and men attempt, by their
offerings, to expiate their offences, to cover their sins, to wipe out
their guilt, to propitiate Divine wrath. But though this new element
is introduced, the original intention is not altogether lost. The
union has been destroyed by sin, but even in the sin-offerings under
the Law there was expressed the endeavour to regain it, to enter once
more into living relations with God: while the normal sacrifices of
the congregation went beyond this, and represented the exercise of a
right based on union with God, the presentation of the people before
Him. Thus we must recognise in the Mosaic sacrifices--the most
complete and typical form of the sacrificial idea--the twofold aspect
which corresponds to the twofold effect of sin on the human race.
There is the offering, sometimes the bloodless offering, by which was
typified simply man's dependence on God, his submission to Him, his
life derived from Him and therefore rendered back to Him. From this
point of view the sacrifice culminated, not in the slaying and
offering of the victim, but in the sprinkling of the blood, the
'principle of life,' upon the altar. The priestly mediators brought
the blood, which 'maketh atonement by reason of the life,' before God,
and sprinkled it upon the altar, in order that the lost union with God
in the covenant might be restored, and life once more derived from God
as it had been offered to Him. The whole system was indeed only
partial, temporary, external. The Mosaic sacrifices 'sanctified unto
the cleanness of the flesh,' they did not 'cleanse the conscience from
dead works to serve the living God.' So the restoration which the
special sin-offerings accomplished was merely external and temporary,
the reunion of the offender with the congregation of Israel from which
his fault had separated him. But as this excommunication symbolised
the loss, brought about by sin, of life with God, so the reunion with
the congregation typified the reunion of the sinner with God. As a
system, then, the Mosaic sacrifices both corresponded to a deep desire
of the human heart, the desire to recover the lost relation to the
Divine life, and also by their imperfection pointed forward to a time
when, by means of a more perfect offering, that restoration should be
complete, accomplished once for all, and eternal. This is one aspect
of the sacrificial system. But before this typical restoration of
life, there came the mysterious act which corresponded to the sense of
guilt. Leaving aside the lesser offerings of the shew-bread and the
incense, it may be said generally that in every sacrifice the slaying
of a victim was a necessary element. And there is deep significance in
the manner in which the slaying was performed. The hands of the
offerer laid upon the victim's head denoted, according to the
unvarying use of the Old Testament, the representative character of
the animal offered, and thus the victim was, so to speak, laden with
the guilt of him who sought for pardon and reconciliation. The victim
was then slain by the offerer himself, and the death thus became an
acknowledgment of the justice of God's punishments for sin: it was as
if the offerer declared, 'This representative of my guilt I here, by
my own act, doom to death, in satisfaction of the righteous law of
vengeance against sin, for "the soul that sinneth it shall die."' It
was not, therefore, till the sense of personal guilt had been
expressed by the act which constituted the victim a representative of
the offerer, and by the slaying which typified the need of expiation
by suffering for sin, that the sacrifice was fit to be presented
before God by the mediation of the priest, and the blood, 'the life
which had willingly passed through death[219],' could be sprinkled as
a token of restored life in God. A careful study of the Mosaic
sacrifices will shew the twofold character impressed upon them. Both
aspects are necessary, they may even be described as two sides of the
same fact. Before God can be approached by a sinner he must expiate
his sin by suffering, must perfectly satisfy the demands of the law,
must atone for the past which has loaded him with guilt: and then, as
part of the same series of acts, the life so sacrificed, so purified
by the expiatory death, is accepted by God, and being restored from
Him, becomes the symbol and the means of union with Him. Forgiveness
for the past, cleansing in the present, hope for the future, are thus
united in one great symbolic ceremony.

The Mosaic system was only external, 'sanctifying unto the cleanness
of the flesh'; partial, for it provided no expiation for the graver
moral transgressions; temporary, for the sacrifices had to be repeated
'day by day'; provisional, for 'if there was perfection through the
Levitical priesthood ... what further need was there that another
priest should arise after the order of Melchizedek?' In spite,
however, of these obvious defects and limitations in the Mosaic
system, there was a constant tendency among the Jews to rest content
with it, to rely upon the efficacy of these external sacrifices and
ceremonies for their whole religion, to believe that 'the blood of
bulls and goats' could 'put away sin,' and that no inner spiritual
repentance or renovation was required. And the highest minds of the
nation, represented by the prophets, were keenly alive to this danger:
their rebukes and remonstrances shew how strongly they felt the
imperfection of the sacrificial system, how it failed to satisfy the
really religious cravings of spiritual minds. Yet there it was,
divinely ordained, clearly necessary as the expression of the national
religious life, profoundly significant. It could not be dispensed
with, yet it could not satisfy: in its incompleteness, as well as in
its symbolism, it pointed forward, and foreshadowed a perfect

(3) This examination of the sacrificial system of the Old Testament is
necessary in a discussion of the doctrine of the Atonement, for
several reasons. The institutions of the Law were, in the first place,
ordained by God, and therefore intended to reveal in some degree His
purposes, His mind towards man. We thus find in them traces of the
fuller revelation which came afterwards, and the two dispensations
throw light on each other. Then again, it was from the Law that the
Jews derived their religious language: their conceptions of sacrifice,
of atonement, of the effects of sin, were moulded by the influence of
the Mosaic ceremonies. For this reason the apostolic doctrine of the
Atonement must be looked at in connection with the ideas inspired by
the Law, although, of course, the life and work of our Lord so
enlarged the religious conceptions of the Apostles as to constitute a
fresh revelation. But it was a revelation on the lines, so to speak,
of the old; it took up and continued the ideas implanted by the Mosaic
religion, and displayed the fulfilment of the earlier promises and
forecasts. It is, therefore, from the Old Testament that we have to
learn the vocabulary of the apostolic writings. As the Messianic hopes
and phraseology throw light upon the apostolic conception of the
Kingdom of Christ, so the sacrificial ceremonies and language of the
Law throw light upon the apostolic conception of the Sacrifice, the
Atonement of Christ. But this is not all. The Mosaic institutions, in
their general outlines, were no arbitrary and artificial symbols, but
corresponded to religious feelings, needs, aspirations that may truly
be called natural and universal. This conception of sin in its twofold
aspect of alienation and of guilt, and this idea of sacrifice as
effecting man's restoration to union with God, and also as expiating
his guilt by suffering, correspond to what the human conscience, when
deeply and sincerely investigated, declares to be its inmost secret.
Every man who has once realized sin, can also realize the feelings of
the Jew who longed to make an expiation for the guilt of the past, to
suffer some loss, some penalty that would cover his sin, and who
therefore brought his offering before God, made the unconscious victim
his representative, the bearer of his guilt, and by slaying it strove
to make atonement. We feel the same need, the same longing. This load
of guilt has to be laid down somehow: this past sinfulness must meet
with a punishment which will make expiation for it: before this lost
union with God can be restored we must be assured of pardon, must know
that the wrath of God no longer abides on us, but has been turned
away, and finds no longer in us the sin which is the one obstacle to
the free course of Divine love. And then we know further that bitter
truth which came to the loftiest minds among the Jews, that no
sacrifice of ours can have atoning value, for God demands the offering
of ourselves, and we are so weakened by sin that we cannot give
ourselves up to Him, so polluted by sin that we cannot be
well-pleasing in His eyes. In order to atone, sacrifice must be no
outward ceremony, the offering of this or that possession, the
fulfilment of this or that externally-imposed ordinance, but the
entire surrender of self to God, and to His law, a surrender dictated
from within by the free impulse of the will. Therefore, just as the
spiritually-minded Jew felt the continual discrepancy between the
external ceremonies which he was bound to fulfil, and the complete
submission to the will of God which they could not effect, and without
which they were wholly inadequate, so every awakened conscience must
feel the fruitlessness of any outward expression of devotion and
obedience so long as there is no complete sacrifice of self.

These, then, seem to be the conditions which must be satisfied before
an atonement can meet the needs of the human heart and conscience,
whether these are inferred from an examination of the Hebrew religious
institutions or are gathered from our own knowledge of ourselves and
of others. There is, first of all, the consciousness of guilt, of an
offended God, of a law transgressed, of punishment impending, to
expiate which some sacrifice is necessary, but no sacrifice adequate
to which can be offered by us as we are. Propitiation is the first
demand of the law, and we cannot, of ourselves, propitiate Him whose
anger we have righteously incurred. Secondly, we long for an abiding
union with Him, and for the full bestowal of the Divine life which
results from that union alone. Propitiation is not enough by itself,
though propitiation is the necessary first step in the process of
reconciliation. Aliens, by our own sinful acts, and by the sin of our
forefathers, from the life of God, we yet long to return and to live
once more in Him. But this is equally impossible for us to accomplish
of ourselves. By sin we have exiled ourselves, but we cannot return by
mere force of will. Both as propitiation, therefore, and as reunion,
the Atonement must come from without and cannot be accomplished by
those who themselves have need of it. But there is a third condition,
apparently irreconcileable with the other two. This same consciousness
of guilt which demands an expiation demands that it shall be personal,
the satisfaction of the sense of personal responsibility, and of the
unconquerable conviction of our own freedom. The propitiatory
sacrifice which is to effect our reunion must, for we are powerless to
offer it, come from without: but at the same time we cannot but feel
that it must come into contact with the will, it must be the inward
sacrifice, the freewill offering of the whole nature that has sinned.

II. If the redemptive work of Christ satisfies these conditions it is
evident that it is not a simple, but a very complex fact. The fault of
many of the theories of the Atonement has been that, though none of
them failed to be partially true, they were limited to one or other of
the various aspects which that mysterious fact presents. It is
certain, again, that of this complex fact no adequate explanation can
be given. At every stage in the process which is generally summed up
in the one word Atonement we are in presence of forces which issue
from infinity and pass out of our sight even while we are
contemplating their effects. And even if the Atonement could be
altogether reduced, so to speak, to terms of human experience, it will
be shewn that man's forgiveness, the nearest analogy of which we have
any knowledge, is an experience of which no logical explanation can be
given, which seems to share, indeed, something of the mystery of its
Divine antitype. But though it is almost blasphemous to pretend to
fathom the depth of the Atonement, to lay out the whole truth so as to
satisfy the formulae of human reason, it is necessary so to understand
it as to discern its response to the imperative demands of the sense
of sin and the desire for forgiveness. Whatever the ultimate mysteries
of the death of Christ may be, it is certain that it has had power to
convince men of forgiveness and to give them a new life. It must
therefore in some way satisfy the conditions which, as we have seen,
are laid down by human consciousness and experience. It is under the
threefold aspect required by those conditions that the doctrine of the
Atonement will be here presented.

1. The death of Christ is, in the first place, to be regarded as
propitiatory. On the one hand there is man's desire, natural and
almost instinctive, to make expiation for his guilt: on the other
there is the tremendous fact of the wrath of God against sin. The
death of Christ is the expiation for those past sins which have laid
the burden of guilt upon the human soul, and it is also the
propitiation of the wrath of God. As we have seen, over against the
sense of sin and of liability to the Divine wrath there has always
existed the idea of sacrifice by which that wrath might be averted.
Man could not offer an acceptable sacrifice: it has been offered for
him by Christ. That is the simplest, and it would seem the most
scriptural way of stating the central truth, which is also the deepest
mystery, of the Atonement, and it seems to sum up and include the
various other metaphors and descriptions of the redemptive work of
Christ. But its mere statement at once suggests questions, the
consideration of which will lead to a fuller understanding of the
doctrine. Thus we have to ask. What is it which is propitiated by
Christ's death? In other words, What is meant by the wrath of God
against sin?

(_a_) It should be remembered that though there is great danger in
anthropomorphism, and though most of the superstition which has ever
been the shadow cast by religion on the world has arisen from an
exaggerated conception of the likeness of God to ourselves, yet there
is, after all, no other way of knowing God than by representing Him
under conceptions formed by our own consciousness and experience, and
this method is pre-eminently incumbent upon us who believe that man is
made 'in the image of God.' We are certain, for instance, that love,
pity, justice, are affections which, however imperfectly they may be
found in us, do make for goodness, and if we may not ascribe these
same affections, infinitely raised and purified, to God, we have no
means of conceiving His character, of knowing 'with whom we have to

Our knowledge, even of ourselves, is after all fragmentary[220], and
thus truths of whose certainty we are convinced may seem
irreconcileably opposed to each other. Our conception of love, for
example, is a fragment, and we cannot trace it up to the meeting-point
at which it is reconciled with justice, so that in our moral judgments
we are continually oscillating, as it were, between the two. But this
fact should not hinder us from ascribing to God in their fullest
degree both love and justice, confident that in Him they are
harmonized because we are confident from the verdict of our own
consciences that both are good, and because even in such imperfect
reflections of His image as, for instance, parental love, we see at
least a partial harmony of them. When then a doubt arises as to the
literal explanation of the phrase 'the wrath of God,' the difficulty
must not be met by the simple assertion that we cannot reconcile the
idea of wrath with that of the love of God: we must ask whether wrath,
as it exists in us, is a good and righteous affection, or whether it
is always and entirely evil. To this question there can be but one
answer. We are conscious of a righteous anger, of an affection of
displeasure that a good man ought to feel against sin and evil, and
this is amply justified by the scriptural references to righteous
anger, and by the accounts of our Lord's displays of indignation
against evil. But though we are thus compelled to find room, so to
speak, for anger in our conception of God's character, it is not
therefore necessary to ascribe to Him that disturbance of the
spiritual nature, or that change in the direction of the will, which
are almost invariable accompaniments of human anger. These are the
defects of the human affection, from which arises the sinful tendency
in our anger, and which cannot be thought of in connection with the
all-holy and all-wise God. On the other hand, it is not possible to
limit the conception of the 'wrath of God' to the acts whereby sin is
or will be punished, which was the explanation of some of the Fathers,
or to think of it as in the future only, to come into existence only
on the day of judgment, as has been attempted by some modern
theologians. The scriptural expressions, including as we must the
passages which speak of our Lord's anger, cannot be so weakened. 'The
wrath of God' seems to denote no changeful impulse or passing feeling,
but the fixed and necessary hostility of the Divine Nature to sin; and
the idea must further include the manifestation of that hostility,
whenever sin comes before God, in external acts of vengeance,
punishment and destruction. God's anger is not only the displeasure of
an offended Person: it is possible that this is altogether a wrong
conception of it: it must be further the expression of justice, which
not only hates but punishes. The relation of the Divine Nature to sin
is thus twofold: it is the personal hostility, if we may call it so,
of holiness to sin, and it is also the righteousness which punishes
sin because it is lawless. The two ideas are intimately connected, and
not unfrequently, when we should have expected to find in the Bible
the wrath of God spoken of, the language of judgment and righteousness
is substituted for it. Sin is necessarily hateful to the holiness of
God, but also, because sin is lawlessness, it is judged, condemned,
and punished by Him in accordance with the immutable law of
righteousness, which is the law of His own Nature. Therefore, to turn
from God's wrath against sin to the mode in which that wrath may be
averted, it results that the sacrifice offered for sin must be both a
propitiation and a satisfaction. Anger, so we think, is but a feeling,
and may be ousted by another feeling; love can strive against wrath
and overcome it; the Divine hatred of sin need raise no obstacle to
the free forgiveness of the sinner. So we might think; but a true
ethical insight shews us that this affection of anger, of hatred, is
in reality the expression of justice, and derives from the law of
righteousness, which is not above God, nor is it dependent on His
Will, for it is Himself. 'He cannot deny Himself'; He cannot put away
His wrath, until the demands of Law have been satisfied, until the
sacrifice has been offered to expiate, to cover, to atone for the sins
of the world. The reconciliation to be effected is not merely the
reconciliation of man to God by the change wrought in man's rebellious
nature, but it is also the propitiation of God Himself, whose wrath
unappeased and whose justice unsatisfied are the barriers thrown
across the sinner's path to restoration.

(_b_) But how, we ask further, was this propitiation made by the
Sacrifice on the Cross? Or, to put the question rather differently,
what was it that gave to the death of Christ its propitiatory value?
In attempting to suggest an answer to this question it is necessary to
bear in mind the distinction between the actual event, or series of
events, which constituted the Propitiatory Sacrifice, and that inner
element which was thereby manifested, and which gave to the actual
event its worth. S. Bernard expressed the distinction in the
well-known words 'Not His death, but His willing acceptance of death,
was pleasing to God,' and there can be no doubt that throughout the
New Testament special stress is laid upon the perfect obedience
manifested in the life and death of Christ, upon the accomplishment of
His Father's will which He ever kept in view, and upon the contrast
thus marked between the Mosaic sacrifices and the one atoning
offering. 'Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and
sacrifices for sin Thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein
... then hath He said, Lo, I am come to do Thy will.'

That the perfect obedience displayed in the passion and death of our
Lord was the element which gave to the sacrifice its propitiatory
value will be more readily understood when it is remembered that the
essence of man's sin was from the first disobedience, the rebellion of
the human will against the commands of God. The perfect sacrifice was
offered by One Who, being man with all man's liability to temptation,
that is with all the instruments of sin at His disposal[221], and
exposed to every suggestion to set up His will against that of the
Father, yet throughout His life continued unswervingly bent on doing
'not His own will, but the will of the Father Who sent Him,' and Who
thus displayed the original perfection of human nature, the unbroken
union with the life of God. On the cross the final struggle, the
supreme temptation took place. The obedience shewn throughout His life
was there manifested in death. 'He became obedient unto death, even
the death of the cross.' At any moment of the passion a single
acquiescence in evil, a single submission to the law of
unrighteousness, a single swerving of His will from its choice of
absolute obedience, would, we may believe, have ended all the shame
and torture. And therefore there was needed at every moment a real
effort of His human will to keep itself in union with the will of
God[222]; it was not a mere submission at the outset once for all, but
a continuous series of voluntary acts of resignation and obedience.
Here then is the spirit of sacrifice which God demands, and which
could not be found in the sacrifices of the Mosaic law, or in any
offering of sinful man. The essence of the Atonement was the mind of
Christ therein displayed, the obedience gradually learnt and therein
perfected, the will of Christ therein proved to be one with the
Father's will.

But we may discern a further element of propitiation in the death of
our Lord. The law of righteousness, the justice of God, demands not
only obedience in the present, but retribution for the past. 'The sins
done aforetime' had been 'passed over in the forbearance of God' for
His own purposes, which are not revealed to us: this 'passing over'
had obscured the true nature of sin and of the Divine justice. Men had
come to have easy thoughts of sin and its consequences; the heathen
felt but vaguely the burden of guilt, the Jew trusted in the mere
external works of the law. In the death of Christ a manifestation was
made of the righteousness of God, of His wrath, the absolute hostility
of His nature to sin. 'God set Him forth to be a propitiation, through
faith, by His blood, to shew His righteousness, because of the passing
over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God.' But this
manifestation of Divine justice might have been made by mere
punishment: it became a propitiation, in that He, the self-chosen
victim, by His acceptance of it, recognised the righteousness of the
law which was vindicated on the cross. Men had refused to acknowledge
God's justice in the consequences of sin; nothing but the willing
acceptance of suffering, as the due portion of the human nature in
which the sin was wrought, could have so declared the justice of God's
law as to be a propitiation of Divine wrath. The cross was, on the one
hand, the proclamation of God's ordinance against sin, on the other it
was the response of man at length acknowledging the righteousness of
the condemnation[223].

But on looking more closely into the matter, it is obvious that these
explanations are not by themselves enough to account for the
scriptural facts which we call the Atonement. We cannot ignore that,
whether we consider the Old Testament anticipations, or the New
Testament narrative of our Lord's work, His death, apart from the
obedience manifested in it, occupies a unique place, and that stress
is laid on it which would be unaccountable were it _only_ the extreme
trial of His obedience. The frequent declaration that it was
necessary, that 'it behoved Christ to die,' seems to point to
something exceptional in it, something more than the mere close of His
spotless life. So again the mysterious dread and horror with which He
looked forward to it testify to something in it which goes far beyond
any human experience of death[224]. And what we gather from the New
Testament must be combined with the Old Testament premonitions of
Christ's death, as typified by the Mosaic sacrifices. There can be no
question that death was, speaking generally, an integral part of the
idea of sacrifice for sin, and that the distinguishing ceremonial of
the slaying of the victim points to a special significance in death as
connected with expiation and propitiation. Therefore, although we may
still recognise that it was the spirit of obedience and voluntary
submission which gave atoning value to the death of Christ, we cannot
ignore the necessity of death as the appointed form which the
obedience took. Had He not obeyed, He would not have atoned; but had
He not died, the obedience would have lacked just that element which
made it an atonement for sin. The obedience was intended to issue in
death. S. Bernard's saying, though true as he meant it, is, if taken
quite literally, too sharp an antithesis. There is nothing
well-pleasing to God in death alone, it is true; but there is, so He
has revealed it, something well-pleasing to His righteousness,
something propitiatory in death, if as a further condition the perfect
obedience of the victim is thereby displayed.

We are driven to the same conclusion by the second explanation of our
Lord's sacrifice given above. It is not enough to say that He died in
order to manifest God's righteous judgment against sin, for the
question remains, Why is death the requisite manifestation of
judgment? If He endured it because it is the only fitting punishment,
why is it in such a signal manner the penalty of sin? We can point
indeed to the Divine principle, 'The soul that sinneth, it shall die,'
as we can point to God's declared will that expiation shall be made by
means of death, but in neither case, whether death be looked upon as
the punishment or as the expiation of sin, is there any explanation of
its unique position. It may well be that here we are confronted by the
final mystery, and that the propitiatory virtue of Christ's death,
typified by the slaying of animal victims under the law, foreshadowed
by the almost universal belief in the expiation of blood, acknowledged
with wondering gratitude by the human heart, depends upon the
unsearchable will and hidden purposes of God, except in so far as we
can see in it the manifestation at once of Christ's perfect obedience
and of the righteousness of Divine judgment. If an attempt is made to
penetrate further into the mystery of Redemption, it can be but a
speculation, but it will be saved from overboldness if it follows the
general lines of God's action as revealed in His Word.

Some light may be thrown upon the mystery of Christ's death by
considering the scriptural view of death in general as the penalty of
sin. It is not the mere physical act of dying, for that, as
S. Athanasius says, is natural to man[225], and can be traced in the
animal world in the ages before man existed. Besides, our Lord is said
to have delivered us from death, and this clearly cannot mean physical
death, since to this all men are still subject, but rather spiritual
death; and the death which is spoken of as the penalty of sin must
therefore also be spiritual. In this sense death can be no other than
the final removal from us of God's presence, the completion of the
alienation from the Divine life which sin began. But, considering the
close connection, throughout the Bible, of physical and spiritual
death, may it not be that the former is more than the symbol and type
of the latter, that it is actually its consummation? If, again, death
be truly represented by the Christian consciousness as the close of
man's probation, does not this also point to its being the moment when
the light of God's presence, the strength of His life, is finally
withdrawn from the impenitent sinner, and the spiritual death, which
is the one essential punishment of sin, falls upon him? The sentence
of death, then, under which the whole world lay apart from the
Atonement[226], was the declaration that every man who by inheritance
and by his own act shared in Adam's sin, should at the moment of
physical death experience also the full measure of spiritual death.
The common lot of death thus involved the consciousness of separation
from the life of God, and when we so regard it, we can understand
something of the horror which its anticipation brought upon the soul
of the Son of God[227]. He must pass through this last and most awful
human experience; not only because it was human, but because by the
victorious endurance of it alone could the propitiation be
accomplished. The thought throws light upon the prominence given to
the death of Christ, upon His dread of it, upon His mysterious cry of
dereliction upon the cross. It shows us how, though the experience was
common to man, yet in Him it was in a twofold manner unique. The
withdrawal of God's presence, awful as it is to the sin-hardened
nature of man, must have been immeasurably more bitter to Him Who was
One with the Father, whose 'meat was to do the will of His Father.'
Just as we may believe the tortures of the cross to have been
specially grievous to the perfect body which was unstained by sin,
though other men have endured them, so, though all have to pass
through death with its accompanying terror of the loss of God's
presence, none can realize what that experience was to Him, because He
was the Son of God. The death of Christ was therefore unique because
of the nature of Him Who underwent it. But it was also unique in its
results. No other death had been a propitiation for sin, for in no
other death had this overwhelming consciousness of dereliction been
endured victoriously, with no failure of perfect obedience, no
shrinking of the will from the ordained task. In this final experience
the offering was complete, the essence of the propitiation was
secured, for the actual result of all human sin was herein made the
very revelation of holiness itself, the means whereby the union with
the will of God, so far from being finally broken, was finally
perfected. The propitiatory value, therefore, of the sacrifice of
Christ lay in His absolute obedience, in His willing acceptance of
suffering which was thereby acknowledged as the due reward of sin, and
in the death which was the essential form of both, for death is the
culminating point of the alienation from God, which is both sin and
its punishment. He alone endured it victoriously and without sin; He
alone, therefore, transformed it from the sign and occasion of God's
wrath into a well-pleasing offering; He took the punishment and made
it a propitiation. 'The chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and
with His stripes we are healed.'

(_c_) So far we have considered the sacrifice of Christ in its aspect
Godwards: we have tried to find an answer to the question, How did the
death of Christ propitiate the wrath of God? There remains the further
question, How was it a sacrifice for us? It was, we can see, a perfect
offering acceptable to God: but how has it availed 'for us men'? The
mind shrinks from a purely external Atonement, and part of the
imperfection of the Mosaic sacrifices consisted in the merely
artificial relation between the offender and the victim. In the
perfect sacrifice this relation must be real; and we are thus led to
the truth, so often overlooked, but impressed on every page of the New
Testament, that He who died for our sins was our true representative
in that He was truly man. Without for the present going into the more
mystical doctrine of Christ as the second Adam, the spiritual head of
our race, what is here emphasized is the reality and perfection of His
human nature, which gave Him the right to offer a representative
sacrifice[228]. 'For verily not of angels doth He take hold, but He
taketh hold of the seed of Abraham. Wherefore it behoved Him in all
things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful
and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make
propitiation for the sins of the people.' Being thus 'taken from among
men,' He was 'appointed for--or, on behalf of--men' and the
justification of His Priesthood is the complete reality of His
humanity, which, if we may so speak, overlay and hid His Divinity, so
that 'though He was a Son,' unchangeably 'in the form of God,' 'yet
learnt He obedience by the things which He suffered,' and thus became
for us a perfect Priest. The sinless perfection of Christ, far from
removing Him out of the sphere of our sinful lives, made Him perfectly
representative; for He not only possessed in their greatest perfection
all the powers and capacities which are the instruments of sin, but in
the strength of His sinlessness and of His love He could feel for all
men and accept them as His brethren, though they were sinners. Our
High Priest 'hath been in all points like as we are, yet without sin.'
The holiest man has some part of his nature stunted and repressed by
sin, and is so far incomplete, unrepresentative: but He, unweakened
and unmarred in any point by sin, can without holding anything back
represent human nature in its perfection and entirety.

The representative character of Christ is manifested in a different
aspect, according as He is regarded as the victim or as the priest
offering the sacrifice. As the victim He must be the sin-bearer, for
the transfer of guilt--which under the Mosaic system was merely
symbolised by the act of laying hands on the victim's head--must for a
true propitiatory sacrifice be more than external and artificial. That
is to say, there must be a real meaning in S. Paul's tremendous words,
'Him Who knew no sin He made to be sin on our behalf,' in the passages
in which He is described as bearing our sins[229], in the great
prophecy which told that 'the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us
all.' How can we find an explanation of the paradox so boldly stated
by S. Paul, that He who knew no sin was yet made sin? We may not
surely take all these plain phrases to mean that He bore the
_punishment_ of our sins: it would have been easy to say that had it
been meant. No, the relation typified by the Mosaic offerings must be
real, and yet the expression 'He made Him to be sin' cannot without
blasphemy be understood to mean that God the Father actually made His
Son to sin. The solution of the difficulty can only be found in the
truth of the Incarnation. In order that the sacrifice might be
representative, He took upon Him the whole of our human nature, and
became flesh, conditioned though that fleshly nature was throughout by
sin[230]. It was not only in His death that we contemplate Him as the
sin-bearer, but throughout His life He was, as it were, conditioned by
the sinfulness of those with whom His human nature brought Him into
close and manifold relations. The Crucifixion does not come as the
unexpectedly shameful end of a glorious and untroubled life, though it
was undoubtedly in a special sense the manifestation of the 'curse'
under which He laid Himself. We cannot say that at a given moment in
His life, as when the sinner's hands were laid upon the victim's head
and his guilt was transferred, He began to bear our iniquity, for the
very nature which He took, freed though it was in Him from hereditary
guilt, was in itself, by its necessary human relations, sin-bearing.
Nor did His personal sinlessness make this impossible or unreal;
rather it intensified it. As S. Matthew tells us, even in relation to
bodily sickness and infirmity, that He bore what He took
away--'Himself took our infirmities, and bare our diseases'--so it was
with our redemption from sin. In taking it away, He had to bear its
weight, intensified by reason of that very self-sacrificing love which
made Him realize with more than human keenness the sinfulness of the
human nature into which He had come. There is thus nothing artificial
or external in His sin-bearing, for His human nature was so real and
so perfect that He was involved, so to speak, in all the consequences
of the sin which is so tremendous a factor in human life, even to the
enduring of the very sufferings and death which in us are the penal
results and final outcome of sin, but in Him were the means of His
free self-sacrifice.

Once more He was our representative as the Priest who offered the
sacrifice. The requisite conditions of such an office are stated, in
the Epistle to the Hebrews, to be complete human sympathy, and yet
such separateness from sin, and from all limitations of
incompleteness, as can only be Divine. 'It behoved Him in all things
to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and
faithful high priest;' 'but He, because He abideth for ever, hath His
priesthood unchangeable ... for such a high priest became us, holy,
harmless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the
heavens;' 'for the law appointeth men high priests, having infirmity;
but the word of the oath, which was after the law, appointeth a Son,
perfected for evermore[231].' In these and similar passages the
doctrine of the Priesthood of Christ is developed, and it is obvious
that quite as much stress is laid on His unlikeness, as on His
likeness to us[232]. He is our representative as Priest, because He is
both man and more than man, and can therefore perform for us what we
could not and cannot perform for ourselves, in offering the perfect
propitiatory sacrifice. Here is the true vicariousness of the
Atonement, which consisted, not, as we shall see later, in the
substitution of His punishment for ours, but in His offering the
sacrifice which man had neither purity nor power to offer. From out of
the very heart and centre of the human nature which was so enslaved
and corrupted by sin that no human offering was acceptable to God
there is raised the sinless sacrifice of perfect humanity by the
God-Man, our great High Priest: human in the completeness of His
sympathy, Divine in the unique power of His Priesthood. So is the
condition of the law of righteousness fulfilled, and the sacrifice of
obedience unto death is offered by His submission to all that
constitutes in sinners the consummation and the punishment of their
sin, which He transformed into the occasion and the manifestation of
His perfect holiness. And it is a representative sacrifice, for unique
though it is, it consists of no unheard-of experience, of no merely
symbolical ceremony, unrelated and unmeaning to us; but of just those
universal incidents of suffering which, though He must have felt them
with a bitterness unknown to us, are intensely human--poverty,
misunderstanding, failure, treachery, rejection, bodily anguish,
spiritual desolation, death. 'Surely He hath borne our griefs, and
carried our sorrows.... The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,'
and therefore 'by His stripes we are healed.'

2. It is not enough to consider the death of Christ only as
propitiatory, or as standing alone in relation to our redemption. We
have seen how it secured our propitiation, and in what sense it has a
unique place in relation both to our Lord Himself and to man. There
remains the further aspect of His redemptive work, in which it is
regarded as effecting our reunion with God by delivering us from the
power of sin, and by filling us with the Divine gift of life. This, it
should be noticed, is the conception of our Lord's work which was
chiefly in the minds of the early Christian writers, though in almost
all it was combined with the acknowledgment of His deliverance of man
from guilt and from the wrath of God by His representative
propitiation[233]. But to their consciousness the power of sin and of
the spiritual forces with which man is surrounded was so continually
present, that they were naturally inclined to look mainly at that side
of the Atonement which represents it as the victory over sin and Satan
and the restoration of man to the life of God. And this view, though
by no means to the exclusion of the propitiatory aspect, is amply
justified by the Bible. Considered as restoration, there seem to be
three grades or stages of redemption indicated in the New Testament.
First, there is the unanimous declaration that the object of our
Lord's life and death was to free us from sin. In the most sacrificial
descriptions of His work this further result of the Atonement is
implied. The 'Lamb of God' is to 'take away the _sin_ of the world';
His Blood was to be 'shed for the remission of _sins_'; by 'the
precious Blood of Jesus Christ as of a Lamb without blemish' men were
'redeemed from their vain conversation'; He 'gave Himself for us, that
He might redeem us from all _iniquity_.' In the next place, this
deliverance from sin is identified with the gift of life, which is
repeatedly connected with our Lord's life and death. 'I am come that
they might have life'; for 'I will give My flesh for the life of the
world.' 'He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth
live unto themselves, but unto Him who died for them and rose again.'
He 'bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to
sins might live unto righteousness.' Lastly, this new life is to issue
in union with the life of God in Christ. 'Christ suffered for sins,
the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.' 'In Christ
Jesus ye that once were far off are made nigh in the Blood of Christ.'
In such passages the Apostles are only drawing out the meaning of our
Lord's own declaration, 'I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto

Our Lord's death is thus intimately connected by the New Testament
writers with the restoration of man to union with God by means of the
gift of life; but it should be noticed that, unique and necessary as
His death was, it is continually spoken of in close connection with
the Resurrection or the Ascension, for in these, as was foreshadowed
by the typical ceremonies of the Law, the sacrifice culminated by the
presentation of the 'life which had willingly passed through death'
before the altar of God's presence. The reason is clear. Pardon for
the past, deliverance from guilt, propitiation of the just wrath of
God, are necessary and all-important; but they cannot stand alone.
They must, for man is helpless and weak, be succeeded by the gift of
life, and for this we must look to those mighty acts in which the One
Sacrifice reached its full consummation. Thus our Lord Himself
declares that He died in order to rise again; 'I lay down My life that
[in order that] I may take it again.' So to S. Paul the Resurrection
is the necessary completion of the process which was begun by the
death. 'He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for
our justification.' 'If while we were enemies, we were reconciled to
God through the death of His Son, much more being reconciled, shall we
be saved through [in] His life.' 'We were buried with Him through
baptism unto death; that [in order that] like as Christ was raised
from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk
in newness of life.' Even the passages which speak of our salvation as
effected by virtue of Christ's Blood, refer, according to the Jewish
conception of the 'blood which is the life,' not only, or even
chiefly, to the bloodshedding in death, but to the heavenly
'sprinkling' of the principle of life, its presentation in heaven by
means of the Resurrection and Ascension. The whole process is
described in what may be called the central core of S. Paul's
theology, the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. 'It is
Christ Jesus that died, yea rather, that was raised from the dead, who
is at the Right Hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.' It
has been the fault of much popular theology to think only of our
deliverance from wrath by the sacrificial death of Christ, and to
neglect the infinitely important continuation of the process thus
begun. The Gospel is a religion of life, the call to a life of union
with God by means of the grace which flows from the mediation of the
risen and ascended Saviour. We need not discuss the comparative
importance of the two aspects of the work of Atonement, for
propitiation and reunion, pardon and life are alike necessary elements
in salvation, and by the love of God in Christ are united in the
sacrifice which was begun on Calvary, and is for ever presented for
our redemption before the throne of God in heaven.

3. So far we have been considering the Atonement as our Lord's work on
behalf of men: we have now to consider it as meeting the inevitable
demand of the human conscience that this vicarious sacrifice shall in
some way satisfy man's sense of personal responsibility; that by means
of the Atonement man shall, so far as he can, make amends for his own
sin. The charge of injustice, as it is generally urged against the
doctrine of the Atonement, rests, as will be shewn, upon a fundamental
misconception as to the nature of Christ's work for us; but it is also
commonly assumed that by the death of Christ all was done for man, and
nothing in man, so that we are thereby relieved of all responsibility
for our own wilful acts. It is this notion that we have now to
investigate. First, however, we must acknowledge the truth contained
in it. The Atonement is, after all, God's forgiveness of us in Christ,
and no forgiveness is conceivable which does not in some degree
relieve the offender of the consequences of his offence. Human
forgiveness, though it may in some cases, perhaps, remit no part of
the external penalty due to wrong-doing, must, in the very act of
forgiving, put away and abolish the anger of the offended person, the
alienation which the offence has caused, and which is certainly part,
sometimes the greatest part, of the penal consequences of an offence.
Human forgiveness, therefore, necessarily transgresses the strict law
of retribution: yet no one can seriously contend that forgiveness is
either impossible or immoral. And more than this, there is even in our
imperfect forgiveness a power to blot out guilt, and to restore the
offender to new life. Inexplicable though the fact may be, experience
tells us that forgiveness avails to lift the load of guilt that
presses upon an offender. A change passes over him that can only be
described as regenerative, life-giving; and thus the assurance of
pardon, however conveyed, may be said to obliterate in some degree the
consequences of the past[234]. It is true that this result of
forgiveness cannot be explained logically so as to satisfy the reason,
but the possibility and the power of pardon are nevertheless facts of
human experience. The Atonement is undoubtedly a mystery, but all
forgiveness is a mystery. The Atonement undoubtedly transgresses the
strict law of exact retribution, but all forgiveness transgresses it.
And we may believe that human forgiveness is, in spite of all its
imperfection, like that of God, for this is surely the lesson of the
Lord's Prayer, 'Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that
trespass against us.' Experience and conscience, therefore, lead us to
expect that the Divine method of forgiveness will both disprove the
exaggerated idea of personal responsibility, which is based on a false
estimate of man's power, and will also transcend reason by rising into
a region of mystery and of miracle[235]. We have to deal in this
sphere of pardon with a God Who 'declares His almighty power most
chiefly in showing mercy and pity.'

One aspect of this mystery is to be found in the truth, stamped on
every page of the New Testament, of the mystical union between Christ
and His people. By virtue of this union His acts are ascribed to us;
and thus, according to S. Paul, we died in Him, we are raised in Him,
and the sacrifice which He offered, we have also offered, as in Him.
The doctrine of the Second Adam, of the spiritual headship of Christ,
would not indeed if it stood alone satisfy the demands of the
conscience; but when taken in connection with the practical
sacramental teaching which is based upon it, it points to the solution
of the problem. By the Incarnation we are taken up into Him, and
therefore the acts that in His human nature He performed are our acts,
by virtue of that union which is described by Him as the union of a
vine with its branches, by S. Paul as that of the head with the
members of a body. But in considering the results of this union, the
reciprocal communication of the weakness of our bodily nature to Him,
of His victorious deeds in the body to us a distinction must be drawn
between that part of His work which can, and that which cannot be
shared by us. Of one part of His work, of the sacrifice which He
offered for man's guilt, the essence was its vicariousness. Man could
not and never can offer a sacrifice which can avail to propitiate for
the sins of the past. It is only in virtue of that one final and
perfect propitiation that we can draw nigh to God, can accomplish
anything good, can recognise that we are delivered from wrath. The
sins of the past are cancelled, the guilt is wiped out: in this
respect all was accomplished by Him for us who are in Him, and nothing
remains for us to do. He as our Representative, because He shares our
nature, can offer for us a prevailing sacrifice; only as His brethren,
because He has united us to Him, are we enabled to plead the sacrifice
which He offered. It is indeed offered for us, for it was utterly
impossible that we could offer it for ourselves; it was the necessary
initial step, which man could not take, towards union with the
righteous Father. As our spiritual head, the second Adam, the captain
of our salvation, He had the right of offering on our behalf; as in
Him by virtue of the Incarnation we are empowered to claim the
infinite blessings of the redemption so obtained[236]. If this is
mysterious, irrational, transcendental, so is all morality; for at the
root of all morality lies the power of self-sacrifice, which is
nothing but the impulse of love to make a vicarious offering for its
fellows, and the virtue of such an offering to restore and to
quicken[237]. The righteousness of God required from the human nature
which had sinned the sacrifice of a perfect obedience manifested in
and through death: that is the unique and unapproachable mystery of
the Atonement; but that the sacrifice should be offered by a sinless
Man, and that we should be accepted by God in virtue of His
propitiation and because of our union with Him, that, though
mysterious enough, as human reason counts mystery, is prefigured and
illustrated and explained by all the deepest experiences of the race,
by all that is most human, though it most evades logical analysis, in
our moral consciousness[238].

There is then no additional propitiation demanded from us. The
Atonement, in this aspect, requires nothing from us, for the
forgiveness is there, bestowed upon us by God in consequence of the
sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But like the gifts of grace which come
after forgiveness, the forgiveness itself has to be personally
accepted by us; it must be brought into contact with each man's will.
So regarded, the Atonement, though the great gift of reconciliation is
absolutely free, the product of the spontaneous love of God, does lay
upon us an obligation. On our part faith is demanded that we may
realize, and appropriate, and associate ourselves with the pardon
which is ours in Christ. This is not the place for a full discussion
of justifying faith: it is enough to indicate what seems to be its
relation to the Atonement, as being man's share in the propitiatory
work of Christ. It is often said that the faith which justifies is
simply trust[239], but it must surely be a more complex moral act than
this. If faith is the acceptance of Christ's propitiation, it must
contain, in the first place, that longing for reconciliation which
springs from the personal consciousness of sin as alienation from God,
and from horror of its guilt and power. There must then ensue the
recognition of man's complete powerlessness to free himself from sin,
and a deeply humble sense of dependence on God's mercy; but this mere
trust in His mercy is not enough, for it would not satisfy the sense
of sin. The sinner has to own that God is not merely benevolent, and
that sin must be punished. Therefore faith must contain the
recognition of the justice of the Divine law against sin, manifested
in the death of Christ. Faith, in short, starts from the longing for a
representative to atone for us, and it ends with the recognition of
Christ as our representative, of His Atonement as sufficient, and of
His death as displaying the due reward of sin. For the Atonement
cannot be a mere external act. If Christ is our representative, He
must be acknowledged by those whom He represents: otherwise His
endurance of suffering would avail nothing for them, for God will not
be satisfied with the mere infliction of punishment. But if the result
of His death is that men are brought, one by one, age after age, to
acknowledge the righteousness of the law for which He suffered, to
recognise the result of sin to which sin has blinded them, then there
has been made on their part the first step towards the great
reconciliation. Faith identifies the individual with the sacrifice
which has been offered for him, and therefore with Christ's attitude
towards God and towards sin, and though it is but the first step, yet
it is emphatically that by reason of which we are justified. For since
we are thus identified with the sacrifice, God accepts the first step
for the whole course, of which it is the pledge and anticipation. We
are justified because we believe in God, but also because God believes
in us[240]. Faith, being what it is, a complex moral act whereby
Christ's propitiation is accepted by man, implies an attitude of mind
towards sin so right that, though it is but the first movement of the
soul in Christ, God takes it for the whole, sees us as wholly in Him,
reckons it to us as righteousness. But only because it is as a matter
of fact the first, the hardest, perhaps, and the most necessary, but
still only the first step towards complete sanctification. And, if we
now ask what is the further course of sanctification, the answer will
shew the full relation of the sacrifice of Christ to man's will and
conscience. For the life of sanctification is nothing else but the
'imitation of Christ' in that task of 'learning obedience' to which
His life was devoted, and which His death completed. In us, too, as in
Him, that task has to be accomplished by suffering. 'He learnt
obedience by the things which He suffered.' 'It became Him ... in
bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation
perfect through sufferings.' That same path towards perfection lies
before all who are justified by faith in His atoning sacrifice. For
justification is a spiritual act answering to the spiritual act of
faith. The spiritual germ of vitality thus implanted in us has to be
developed in the sphere in which the consequences of sin naturally and
inevitably work themselves out, in the bodily nature of man. 'Even
we,' says S. Paul, 'which have the first fruits of the Spirit,' even
we are waiting for the further process, for 'the adoption, to wit, the
redemption of our body.' And the process consists in so following 'the
Captain of our salvation' that, like Him, we accept every one of those
sufferings which are the consequences of sin, but accept them not as
punishment imposed from without upon unwilling offenders, but as the
material of our freewill sacrifice. From no one pang or trial of our
nature has He delivered us, indeed, He has rather laid them upon us
more unsparingly, more inevitably. But the sufferings from which He
would not deliver us He has transformed for us. They are no longer
penal, but remedial and penitential. Pain has become the chastisement
of a Father who loves us, and death the passage into His very
presence. And this He has done for us by the bestowal upon us of
spiritual vitality. The germ is implanted by the act of forgiveness
which removes the wrath and the impending death, and this germ of
life, cherished and developed by the gifts which flow from His
mediation and intercession, by the Holy Spirit Whom He sends to dwell
in us, works on all the penalties of sin, and makes them the sacrifice
which we offer in Him. This is the 'law of the Spirit of life.' 'If
Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is
life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him that raised up
Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the
dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth
in you.'

Our personal share then in the Atonement is not mere passivity. It
consists, first, in the acceptance of God's forgiveness in Christ, our
self-identification with Christ's atoning attitude, and then in
working out, by the power of the life bestowed upon us, all the
consequences of forgiveness, the transformation of punishment into
sacrifice, the imitation of Christ in His perfect obedience to the law
of righteousness, the gradual sanctification of body, soul and spirit
by the grace which enables us to 'suffer with Him.'

III. The doctrine of Atonement, more than any of the great truths of
Christianity, has been misconceived and misrepresented, and has
therefore not only been rejected itself, but has sometimes been the
cause of the rejection of the whole Christian system. The truth of the
vicarious sacrifice has been isolated till it has almost become
untrue, and, mysterious as it undoubtedly is, it has been so stated as
to be not only mysterious, but contrary to reason and even to
conscience. One most terrible misconception it is hardly necessary to
do more than mention. The truth of the wrath of God against sin and of
the love of Christ by which that wrath was removed, has been perverted
into a belief in a divergence of will between God the Father and God
the Son, as if it was the Father's will that sinners should perish,
the Son's will that they should be saved; as if the Atonement
consisted in the propitiation of the wrathful God by the substituted
punishment of the innocent for the guilty. It will be seen that while
this statement seems to represent the Catholic doctrine, in reality it
introduces a most vital difference. There can be no divergence of will
between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity; and, in regard to this
special dealing with man, we have the clearest testimony of Revelation
that the whole Godhead shared in the work. Here, as always, God the
Father is revealed as the source and origin of all good. 'God so loved
the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth
in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.' 'God was in
Christ reconciling the world to Himself.' The beginning and the end of
the Atonement is the love of God: the death of Christ was not the
cause, but the revelation of that love[241]. That it was the second
Person of the Trinity who was actually the means of our redemption may
be ascribed to that original relation of the Logos to the human race,
by which He was both its Creator and its perfect exemplar[242]. But
nothing can be further from the truth than to imagine that His was all
the love which saved us, the Father's all the wrath which condemned
us. If the death of Christ was necessary to propitiate the wrath of
the Father, it was necessary to propitiate His own wrath also; if it
manifested His love, it manifested the Father's love also. The
absolute, unbroken, unity of will between the Father and the Son is
the secret of the atoning sacrifice.

Again, the isolation of the truth of the Atonement from other parts of
Christian doctrine has led to a mode of stating it which deprives us
of all motive to action, of all responsibility for our own salvation.
Just as the misconception noticed above arose from a failure to grasp
the whole truth of our Lord's Divinity, so this error springs from
ignoring His perfect Humanity. Christ is regarded as having no vital
or real relation to us, and His work is therefore wholly external, a
mere gift from above. But what has already been said will shew that
from the first the Atonement has been taught as the offering of our
spiritual Head, in Whom we are redeemed, and whose example we are able
to follow as having Him in us. Salvation is thus given to us indeed,
but it is given to us because we are in Christ, and we have to work
out our share in it because of the responsibility, the call to
sacrifice which that union with Him lays upon us. 'Work out your own
salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you
both to will and to do.' It is all from God and of God; but God has
come into our life, and taken us up into Him, and called upon us to
follow Him in the way of the cross.

And this leads us to consider another error, or rather another form of
the same error. Nothing is more common than to hear the doctrine of
Atonement stated as if the work of Christ consisted in His endurance
of our punishment in order that we might not endure it. This view of
the doctrine leads to the objections--perhaps the commonest of all the
difficulties found in what men take for Christianity--that the
punishment of the innocent instead of the guilty is unjust, and that
punishment cannot be borne by anyone but the sinner. We have seen that
the real vicariousness of our Lord's work lay in the offering of the
perfect sacrifice: the theory we are now considering holds, on the
contrary, that it lay in the substitution of His punishment for ours.
A partial truth is contained in this theory; for our Lord did endure
sufferings, and, as has been already said, they were the very
sufferings which are, in sinners, the penalties of sin. But as a
simple matter of fact and experience, the sufferings and the pains of
death which He endured have not been remitted to us; and that which is
remitted, the eternal penalty of alienation from God, was not, could
not be endured by Him. For alienation from God is, essentially, a
state of sin; it is sin, regarded both in its origin and in its
necessary result. It could not, therefore, be borne by Christ, 'in
Whom was no sin,' between Whom and the Father was no alienation.
Attempts have been made to establish a quantitative relation between
our Lord's sufferings and the punishment which is thereby remitted to
us, to prove that the eternal nature of the Sufferer made His death
equivalent to eternal punishment. But even if such attempts, in so
mysterious a region, could succeed, it would be vain to establish a
quantitative equivalence where there is no qualitative relation.
Eternal punishment is 'eternal sin[243],' and as such could never be
endured by the sinless Son of God.

But we have to face the question which naturally follows. What, then,
did His sufferings and death mean? Why did He endure what are to us
the temporal penalties, the diverse consequences of sin? And if He
endured them, why are they not remitted to us? It is true, as has been
shewn, that He bore just those sufferings which are the results and
penalties of sin, even to that tremendous final experience in which
man loses sight of God as he enters the valley of the shadow of death;
but He bore them, not that we might be freed from them, for we have
deserved them, but that we might be enabled to bear them, as He did,
victoriously and in unbroken union with God. He, the Innocent,
suffered, but the guilty do not 'go free;' for the very end and object
of all the obedience that He learnt was, that He might lead man along
the same path of suffering, not 'free,' but gladly submissive to the
pains, which, but for Him, would be the overwhelming penalties of our
sins. It may be true that 'punishment cannot be borne by anyone but
the sinner[244],' and therefore it may be right not to call Christ's
sufferings punishment, especially as the expression is significantly
avoided in the New Testament. But it is certainly not true that the
sufferings which result from sin cannot be borne by anyone but the
sinner: every day demonstrates the falsity of such an assertion.
Sufferings borne in the wrong spirit, unsubmissively or without
recognition of their justice, are penal; but the spirit of humility
and obedience makes them remedial and purgatorial. Christ, by so
bearing the pains which sin brought upon human nature, and which the
special sin of His enemies heaped upon Him, has not only offered the
one perfect sacrifice, but has also given us strength to make the same
submission, to learn the same obedience and to share the same

IV. There are many topics connected with the Atonement which it is
impossible here to discuss, but which seem to fall into their right
place and proportion if those aspects of Christ's redeeming work which
have been dwelt upon are kept firmly in mind. The central mystery of
the cross, the forgiveness, the removal of wrath, thereby freely
bestowed upon us, remains a mystery, and must always be an insuperable
difficulty to those who depend wholly on reason, or who trust wholly
in man's power to extricate himself from the destruction wrought by
his sin, as it was an offence to the Jew, and foolishness to the
Greek. But mystery though it is to the intellect, there is a moral
fitness[245] in the bestowal of forgiveness because of the obedience
of Christ shewn in His sacrificial death, which appeals irresistibly
to the moral consciousness of mankind. The witness of this is the
trustful gratitude with which the doctrine of Christ crucified has
been accepted by Christians, learned and unlearned, from the age of
its first preaching. The human heart accepts it, and by the cross is
assured of forgiveness: 'to them which are called' it is 'Christ the
power of God, and the wisdom of God.'

But if we may appeal to experience in support of this mysterious
truth, much more may we claim the same support for the plainer, more
human aspect of the Atonement. As S. Athanasius in his day[246], so we
in ours may appeal for the practical and visible proof of the
Atonement, to the complete change in man's relation to sorrow and
suffering, and in the Christian view of death[247]. This is no small
matter. When we realize what suffering is in human life, the vast
place which it has in our experience, its power of absorbing the mind,
its culmination in the final pangs of death, and when we see the
transformation, however gradual and imperfect it may be, of all this
into the means and material of the sacrifice which the follower of
Christ is gladly willing to offer to the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, we realize the full force of the great words telling of the
destruction 'through death of him that _had the power of death_, that
is the devil,' and of the deliverance of 'them who through fear of
death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.' And the
transformation, the destruction, the deliverance, consist in this that
from these sufferings His sacrifice has removed the element of
rebellion, the hopelessness of alienation, the sting of sin. They are
ours, because they were His; but they are ours _as_ they were His,
purified and perfected by obedience, by the offering of a holy Will;
'by the which Will we are sanctified through the offering of the body
of Jesus Christ once for all.'

[217] Mill, _Examination of Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy_, p. 103. 'I
will call no being good, who is not what I mean when I apply that
epithet to my fellow-creatures; and if such a being can sentence me to
hell for not so calling him, to hell I will go.'

[218] Cf. Holland, _Logic and Life_, pp. 107, 108.

[219] Milligan, _The Resurrection_, p. 278.

[220] Cf. Mozley, _University Sermons_, p. 177 (2nd ed.): 'Justice is
a fragment, mercy is a fragment, mediation is a fragment; justice,
mercy, mediation as a reason of mercy--all three; what indeed are they
but great vistas and openings into an invisible world in which is the
point of view which brings them all together?'

[221] Cf. _Ch. Quarterly Review_, xvi. p. 289 on 'Our Lord's Human
Example.' 'Christ, of course, had every faculty of human nature,
everything that man sins with, and therefore every instrument or
faculty of sin.'

[222] In the last two sentences a slight change has been made in
consequence of a criticism which showed that it was possible to
misunderstand the language originally employed, which however was
intended to convey precisely the same meaning, and which could be
amply justified by such a passage as e.g. S. Anselm, _Cur Deus Homo_,
ii. 10, 'Possumus igitur dicere de Christo quia potuit mentiri, si
subaudiatur, si vellet.' Cf. also [Boetius] _c. Eutychen et
Nestorium_, c. viii. (_Opuscula Sacra_, ed. Peiper, pp. 214 ff.)

[223] Cf. MᶜLeod Campbell, _The Nature of the Atonement_, pp. 117,
118, 119, 127, 347: 'That oneness of mind with the Father, which
towards man took the form of condemnation of sin, would in the Son's
dealing with the Father in relation to our sins, take the form of a
perfect confession of our sins. This confession, as to its own nature,
must have been _a perfect Amen in humanity to the judgment of God on
the sin of man_.' 'In Christ tasting death [as] the wages of sin ...
was a perfecting of the Divine response in humanity to the Divine
condemnation of sin.'

[224] See Dale, _Atonement_, pp. 49 ff.; Schmidt in Herzog's _Real.
Encykl._ xvi. 403.

[225] _De Incarn. Verbi_ 4, 'Man is by nature mortal.' S. Athanasius
held, however, that this 'natural corruption' would have been
suspended, but for the Fall, by the help of the Logos empowering man
to live the Divine life. See on the whole subject, _The Christian
Doctrine of Sin_, App. ii. p. 536.

[226] It should be remembered that the Church has always regarded the
Atonement as having a _retrospective_ effect, extending back to the
first representatives of the human race.

[227] Cf. Schmidt in Herzog's _Real. Encykl._, Art. Versönung, vol.
xvi. p. 403.

[228] Irenaeus is full of this thought, though it is not disentangled
from other explanations of the death of Christ. Cf. especially V.
xxiii. 2: 'Recapitulans enim universum hominem in se ab initio usque
ad finem, recapitulatus et mortem ejus.' Cf. also Athanasius, _de
Incarn. Verbi_ 9, in which he suggests that it was the Divine power of
the Logos in the bodily nature of Christ that made His sacrifice
representative, as well as His death victorious over death.

[229] See especially Heb. ix. 28, which is an echo of the LXX. of Is.
liii. 12.

[230] Athan. _c. Ar._ i. 43: 'He put on the flesh which was enslaved
to sin.' Cf. also Augustine, _de Musica_ VI. iv: 'Hominem sine
peccato, non sine peccatoris conditione suscepit. Nam et nasci
humanitus, et pati et mori voluit.' I owe this reference to Norris,
_Rudiments of Theology_, p. 61 _n._

[231] Heb. ii. 17; vii. 24, 26, 28: cf. ix. 13, 14, 24, 25, 26; x. 11,
12, 13, 14.

[232] Cf. Athan. _c. Ar._ ii. 69: 'He sends His own Son, and He
becomes Son of Man, by taking created flesh; that, since all were
under sentence of death, He, _being other than them all_, might
Himself for all offer to death His own body.'

[233] The two aspects of the Atonement are frequently presented by
S. Athanasius, _de Incarn. Verbi_. Thus (ch. 10) 'By the sacrifice of
His own Body He _both_ put an end to the law which was against us, and
gave us a fresh beginning of life, in that He bestowed on us the hope
of resurrection.' Cf. also chs. 8 and 9. Again (ch. 25), 'As He
offered His Body unto death for all; so by it He again threw open the
way to heaven.'

[234] Cf. Westcott, _Historic Faith_, p. 133.

[235] Cf. Magee, _The Gospel and the Age_, pp. 270 ff. Bishop Magee,
however, seems to exaggerate the certainty and relentlessness of the
temporal punishment of sin (cf. against this Dale, _The Atonement_,
Lect. viii) and to overlook the force of the analogy from human
experience of forgiveness.

[236] Cf. Ath. _c. Ar._ iii. 34. 'As the Lord in putting on the body,
became Man, so we men are made gods by the Word, being taken into Him
through His Flesh, and from henceforth inherit life eternal.'

[237] For this thought fully drawn out, see Holland, _Creed and
Character_, pp. 212 ff.

[238] On the truth of the solidarity of all men in Christ, see
Westcott, _The Victory of the Cross_, pp. 6-53.

[239] See e.g. Moule, _Outlines of Christian Doctrine_, p. 185.

[240] Cf. Aug. _de Trin._ i. 10: 'Tales nos amat Deus, quales futuri
sumus, non quales sumus.'

[241] This is well stated by MᶜLeod Campbell, l. c. p. 16.

[242] Cf. Athan. _de Inc. passim_, esp. chs. 20 and 42. Hooker,
_Eccles. Pol._ V. li. 3, 'It seemeth a thing unconsonant that the
world should honour any other as the Saviour but Him Whom it honoureth
as the Creator of the world.'

[243] Cf. the true reading of S. Mark iii. 29, R.V.

[244] W. R. Greg.

[245] It should be noticed that the Greek Fathers and the English
divines for the most part confine themselves to shewing this moral
fitness and consonance with God's moral nature in the Atonement, and
do not attempt to prove its absolute necessity. Cf. Athanasius, _de
Incarn. Verbi_, ch. 6; Hooker, _Eccles. Pol._ V. li. 3; Butler,
_Analogy_, pt. ii. c. 5.

[246] Cf. _De Incarn. Verbi_, chs. 27, 28, 29.

[247] Cf. Carlyle's apostrophe to Marie Antoinette on her way to the
scaffold: 'Think of _Him_ Whom thou worshippest, the Crucified,--Who
also treading the winepress _alone_, fronted sorrow still deeper; and
triumphed over it, and made it Holy, and built of it a "Sanctuary of
Sorrow" for thee and all the wretched.' _Miscellaneous Essays_, vol.
v. p. 165 (ed. 1872).




I. The appeal to 'experience' in religion, whether personal or
general, brings before the mind so many associations of ungoverned
enthusiasm and untrustworthy fanaticism, that it does not easily
commend itself to those of us who are most concerned to be reasonable.
And yet, in one form, or another, it is an essential part of the
appeal which Christianity makes on its own behalf since the day when
Jesus Christ met the question 'Art thou He that should come, or do we
look for another?' by pointing to the transforming effect of His work;
'The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk; the lepers are
cleansed, and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have
the Gospel preached to them.'

The fact is that in current appeals to experience the fault, where
there is a fault, lies not in the appeal but in the nature of the
experience appealed to. What is meant by the term is often an excited
state of feeling, rather than a permanent transformation of the whole
moral, intellectual, and physical being of man. Or it is something
which seems individual and eccentric, or something confined to a
particular class of persons under special conditions of education or
of ignorance, or something which other religions besides Christianity
have been conspicuous for producing. When a meaning broad and full,
and at the same time exact enough, has been given to experience the
appeal is essential to Christianity, because Christianity professes to
be not a mere record of the past, but a present life, and there is no
life where there is no experience.

It will be worth while, then, to bear in mind how freely the original
defenders of the Christian Church appealed, like their Master, to
facts of experience. Thus we find an individual, like S. Cyprian,
recalling the time of his baptism, and the personal experience of
illumination and power which it brought with it:--

'Such were my frequent musings: for whereas I was encumbered with the
many sins of my past life, which it seemed impossible to be rid of, so
I had used myself to give way to my clinging infirmities, and, from
despair of better things, to humour the evils of my heart, as slaves
born in my house, and my proper offspring. But after that life-giving
water succoured me, washing away the stain of former years, and
pouring into my cleansed and hallowed breast the light which comes
from heaven, after that I drank in the Heavenly Spirit, and was
created into a new man by a second birth,--then marvellously what
before was doubtful became plain to me, what was hidden was revealed,
what was dark began to shine, what was before difficult, now had a way
and a means, what had seemed impossible, now could be achieved, what
was in me of the guilty flesh, now confessed that it was earthy, what
was quickened in me by the Holy Ghost, now had a growth according to

Again, we find an apologist like S. Athanasius, resting the stress of
his argument on behalf of Christ upon what He has done in the world,
and specially on the spiritual force He exercises on masses of men,
'drawing them to religion, persuading them to virtue, teaching them
immortality, leading them to the desire of heavenly things, revealing
the knowledge of the Father, inspiring power over death, shewing each
man to himself, abolishing the godlessness of idolatry[249].'

The Fathers of the Christian Church appealed in this way to
experience, because Christianity, as they knew, is essentially not a
past event, but a present life, a life first manifested in Christ and
then perpetuated in His Church. Christianity is a manifested life,--a
thing, therefore, like all other forms of life, known not in itself
but in its effects, its fruits, its results. Christianity is a
manifested life, and it is this because it is the sphere in which the
Spirit, the Life-giver, finds His freest and most unhindered activity.
The Christian Church is the scene of the intensest, the most vigorous,
the richest, the most 'abundant' life that the universe knows, because
in a preeminent sense it is the 'Spirit-bearing body.' The Spirit is
life; that is His chief characteristic. We may indeed elucidate the
idea of spirit by negations; by negation of materiality, of
circumscription, of limitation; but the positive conception we are to
attach to spirit is the conception of life; and where life is most
penetrating, profound, invincible, rational, conscious of God, there
in fullest freedom of operation is the Holy Spirit[250].

Thus, obviously enough, the doctrine of the Spirit is no remote or
esoteric thing; it is no mere ultimate object of the rapt
contemplation of the mystic; it is the doctrine of that wherein God
touches man most nearly, most familiarly, in common life. Last in the
eternal order of the Divine Being, 'proceeding from the Father and the
Son,' the Holy Spirit is the first point of contact with God in the
order of human experience[251].

'I believe in the Holy Ghost, the giver of life.' All life is His
operation. 'Wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is also life; and
wherever life is, there is also the Holy Spirit[252].' Thus if
creation takes its rise in the will of the Father, if it finds its law
in the being of the Word or Son, yet the effective instrument of
creation, the 'finger of God,' the moving principle of vitalization is
the Holy Spirit, 'the divider and distributor of the gifts of

Nature is one great body, and there is breath in the body; but this
breath is not self-originated life, it is the influence of the Divine
Spirit. 'By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the
host of them by the breath of His mouth.' The Spirit, the breath of
God, was brooding upon the face of the waters of chaos ere life and
order were. It is the sending forth of the breath of God, which is the
giving to things of the gift of life; it is the withdrawal of that
breath which is their annihilation[254]. So keenly indeed were the
Christians of the early period conscious of the one life of nature as
the universal evidence of the one Spirit, that it was a point of the
charge against Origen that his language seemed to involve an exclusion
of the Holy Spirit from nature, and a limitation of His activity to
the Church[255]. The whole of life is certainly His. And yet, because
His special attribute is holiness, it is in rational natures, which
alone are capable of holiness, that He exerts His special influence. A
special in-breathing of the Divine Spirit gave to man his proper
being[256]. In humanity, made after the Divine Image, it was the
original intention of God that the Spirit should find His chiefest
joy, building the edifice of a social life in which nature was to find
its crown and justification: a life of conscious and free sonship, in
which the gifts of God should be not only received, but recognised as
His, and consciously used in willing and glad homage to the Divine
Giver, in reverent execution of the law of development impressed by
the Divine Reason, in the realized fellowship of the Blessed Spirit of
knowledge and love. The history of humanity has in fact been a
development, but a development the continuity of which is most
apparent in that department in which man appears simply as the child
of nature, the most perfect and interesting of her products,
consciously adapting himself to his environment and moulded by it.
This indeed has been so much the case that the facts of the history of
civilization have been used, at least plausibly, as an argument
against our race really possessing moral freedom at all. Such a use of
the facts is, we recognise, not justifiable. It leaves out of
consideration some of the most striking elements in human history, and
some of the most certain facts of human consciousness. But the very
plausibleness of the argument is suggestive. It means that
comparatively very few men have been at pains to realize their true
freedom; that men in masses have been dominated by the mere forces of
nature; or, in other words, that human history presents broadly the
record of a one-sided, a distorted development. For man was not meant
for merely natural evolution, mere self-adaptation to the 'things that
are seen.' The consciousness that he was meant for something higher
has tinged his most brilliant physical successes, his greatest
triumphs of civilization and art, with the bitterness of remorse, the
misery of conscious lawlessness.

Our race was created for conscious fellowship with God, for sonship,
for the life of spirit. And it is just in this department that its
failure has been most conspicuous. It is here that the Divine Spirit
has found His chiefest disappointment. Everywhere He has found
rebellion--not everywhere without exception, for 'in every age
entering into holy souls, He has made them sons of God and prophets':
but everywhere in such a general sense that sin in fact and in its
consequences covers the whole region of humanity. In the highest
department of created life, where alone lawlessness was possible,
because what was asked for was the co-operation of free service to
carry out a freely accepted ideal[257],--there alone is the record of
lawlessness, the record of the Spirit striving with man, but resisted,
rejected, ignored, quenched. Thus the word, which in fact most
forcibly characterizes man's spiritual history, so far as it has been
according to the mind of God, is not progress, but recovery, or
redemption. It is not natural but supernatural--supernatural, that is,
in view of the false nature which man made for himself by excluding
God. Otherwise the work of redemption is only the reconstitution of
the nature which God designed. It is the recovery within the limits of
a chosen race and by a deliberate process of limitation, of a state of
things which had been intended to be universal[258]. The 'elect'
represent not the special purpose of God for a few, but the universal
purpose which under the circumstances can only be realized through a
few. The hedging in of the few, the drawing of the lines so close, the
method of exclusion again and again renewed all down the history of
redemption, represents the love of the Divine Spirit ever baffled in
the mass, preserving the truth of God in a 'remnant,' an elect body;
who themselves escaping the corruption which is in the world, become
in their turn a fresh centre from which the restorative influence can
flow out upon mankind. Rejected in the world, He secures for Himself a
sphere of operations in the Jews, isolating Abraham, giving the law
for a hedge, keeping alive in the nation the sense of its vocation by
the inspiration of prophets. Again and again baffled in the body of
the Jewish nation, He falls back upon the faithful remnant, and keeps
alive in _them_ that prospective sonship which was meant to be the
vocation of the whole nation: sometimes in narrower, sometimes in
broader channels, the purpose of love moves on till the Spirit finds
in the Son of Man, the Anointed One, the perfect realization of the
destiny of man, the manhood in which He can freely and fully work: 'He
came down upon the Son of God, made son of man, accustoming Himself in
His case to dwell in the human race, and to repose in man, and to
dwell in God's creatures, working out in them the will of the Father,
and recovering them from their old nature into the newness of
Christ[259].' In Christ humanity is perfect, because in Him it retains
no part of that false independence which, in all its manifold forms,
is the secret of sin. In Christ humanity is perfect and complete, in
ungrudging and unimpaired obedience to the movement of the Divine
Spirit, Whose creation it was, Whose organ it gave itself to be. The
Spirit anoints Him; the Spirit drives Him into the wilderness; the
Spirit gives Him the law of His mission; in the power of the Spirit He
works His miracles; in the Holy Spirit He lifts up the voice of human
thankfulness to the Divine Father; in the Spirit He offers Himself
without spot to God; in the power of the Spirit He is raised from the
dead[260]. All that perfect human life had been a life of obedience,
of progressive obedience, a gradual learning in each stage of
experience what obedience meant[261]; it had been a life of obedience
which became propitiatory as it bore loyally, submissively, lovingly,
all the heritage of pain and misery in which sin in its long history
had involved our manhood, all the agony of that insult and rejection
in which sin revealed itself by antagonism to Him--bore it, and by
bearing it turned it into the material of His accepted sacrifice. He
was obedient unto death. And because He thus made our human nature the
organ of a life of perfect obedience, therefore He can go on to make
that same humanity, freed from all the limitations of this lower world
and glorified in the Spirit at the right hand of God, at once the
organ of Divine supremacy over the universe of created things, and
(itself become quickening Spirit[262]) the fount to all the sons of
obedience and faith of its own life. Christ is the second Adam, who
having 'recapitulated the long development of humanity into
Himself[263],' taken it up into Himself, that is, and healed its
wounds and fructified its barrenness, gives it a fresh start by a new
birth from Him. The Spirit coming forth at Pentecost out of His
uplifted manhood, as from a glorious fountain of new life[264],
perpetuates all its richness, its power, its fulness in the organized
society which He prepared and built for the Spirit's habitation. The
Church, His Spirit-bearing body, comes forth into the world, not as
the exclusive sphere of the Spirit's operations, for 'that breath
bloweth where it listeth[265];' but as the special and covenanted
sphere of His regular and uniform operation, the place where He is
pledged to dwell and to work; the centre marked out and hedged in,
whence ever and again proceeds forth anew the work of human recovery;
the home where, in spite of sin and imperfection, is ever kept alive
the picture of what the Christian life is, that is, of what common
human life is meant to be and can become.

Of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church we may note four

1. It is _social_. It treats man as a 'social being,' who cannot
realize himself in isolation. For no other reason than because grace
is the restoration of nature[266], the true, the redeemed humanity, is
presented to us as a society or Church. This is apparent with
reference to either of the gifts which summarize the essence of the
Church's life, grace, or truth. Sacraments are the ordained
instruments of grace, and sacraments are in one of their aspects
_social_ ceremonies--of incorporation, or restoration, or bestowal of
authority, or fraternal sharing of the bread of life. They presuppose
a social organization. Those who have attempted to explain why there
should be in the Church an apostolic succession of ministers, have
seen the grounds of such appointment in the necessity for preserving
in a catholic society, which lacks the natural links of race or
language or common habitation, a visible and obligatory bond of

The same fact appears in reference to the truth, the knowledge of God
and of the true nature and needs of man, which constitutes one main
part of the Christian life. That too is no mere individual
illumination. It is 'a rule of faith,' an 'apostolic tradition,' 'a
pattern of sound words,' embodied in Holy Scripture and perpetuated in
a teaching Church, within the scope of which each individual is to be
brought to have his mind and conscience fashioned by it, normally from
earliest years. It would be going beyond the province of this essay to
stop to prove that from the beginnings of the Christian life, a man
was understood to become a Christian and receive the benefits of
redemption, by no other means than incorporation into the Christian

2. But none the less on account of this social method _the Spirit
nourishes individuality_. The very idea of the Spirit's gift is that
of an intenser life. Intenser life is more individualized life, for
our life becomes richer and fuller only by the intensification of
personality and character. Thus Christianity has always trusted to
strongly marked character as the means by which religion is
propagated. It does not advance as an abstract doctrine, but by the
subtle, penetrating influences of personality. It is the illuminated
man who becomes a centre of illumination. 'As clear transparent bodies
if a ray of light fall on them become radiant themselves and diffuse
their splendour all around, so souls illuminated by the indwelling
Spirit are rendered spiritual themselves and impart their grace to
others[268].' Thus, from the first, Christianity has tended to
intensify individual life in a thousand ways, and has gloried in the
varieties of disposition and character which the full life of the
Spirit develops. The Church expects to see the same variety of life in
herself as she witnesses in Nature.

'One and the same rain,' says S. Cyril of Jerusalem to his
catechumens, 'comes down upon all the world, yet it becomes white in
the lily, and red in the rose, and purple in the violets and pansies,
and different and various in all the several kinds; it is one thing in
the palm tree and another in the vine, and all in all things. In
itself, indeed, it is uniform and changes not, but by adapting itself
to the nature of each thing that receives it, it becomes what is
appropriate to each. Thus also the Holy Ghost, one and uniform and
undivided in Himself, distributes His grace to every man as He wills.
He employs the tongue of one man for wisdom; the soul of another He
enlightens by prophecy; to another He gives power to drive away
devils; to another He gives to interpret the Divine Scriptures; He
invigorates one man's self-command; He teaches another the way to give
alms: another He teaches to fast and train himself; another He trains
for martyrdom; diverse to different men, yet not diverse from

Nor was this belief in the differences of the Spirit's work a mere
abstract theory. In fact the Church life of the early centuries did
present an aspect of great variety: not only in the dispositions of
individuals, for that will always be observable where human nature is
allowed to subsist, but in the types of life and thought cultivated in
different parts of the Church. Early in the life of Christianity did
something like the Roman type of Catholicism shew itself, but it
shewed itself as one among several types of ecclesiasticism, easily
distinguishable from what Alexandria or Africa or Antioch nourished
and produced.

And what is true in the life of religion as a whole is true in the
department of the intellect. Here again the authority of the
collective society, the 'rule of faith,' is meant to nourish and
quicken, not to crush, individuality. Each individual Christian owes
the profoundest deference to the common tradition. Thus to 'keep the
traditions' is at all times, and not least in Scripture, a common
Christian exhortation. But this common tradition is not meant to be a
merely external law. It is meant to pass by the ordinary processes of
education into the individual consciousness, and there, because it
represents truth, to impart freedom. Thus S. Paul speaks of the
developed Christian, 'the man who is spiritual,' as 'judging all
things and himself judged of none.' And S. John makes the ground of
Christian certainty to lie not in an external authority, but in a
personal gift: 'ye have an unction from the Holy One and ye know all
things;' 'ye need not that any one teach you[270].' There is then an
individual 'inspiration[271],' as well as an inspiration of the whole
body, only this inspiration is not barely individual or separatist. As
it proceeds out of the society, so it ends in it. It ends by making
each person more individualized, more developed in personal
characteristics, but for that very reason more conscious of his own
incompleteness, more ready to recognise himself as only one member of
the perfect Manhood.

The idea of authority is in fact a perfectly simple one. It never
received better expression than by Plato when he describes it as the
function of the society by a carefully regulated education to implant
right instincts, right affections and antipathies, in the growing mind
of the child, at a time when he cannot know the reason of things: in
order that as the mind develops it may recognise the right reason of
things by a certain inner kinship, and welcome truth as a friend[272].
Authority, according to such a view of it, is a necessary schooling of
the individual temperament. Thus, we are told that in the judgment of
the philosopher Hegel, 'The basis of sound education was ... the
submission of the mind to an external lesson, which must be learnt by
every one, and even learnt by rote, with utter disregard of individual
tastes and desires; only out of this self-abnegation, and submission
to be guided and taught, could any originality spring which was worth
preserving[273].' In fact, we all recognise the necessity for such
external discipline in all departments. Few people like good art, for
instance, at first. Probably they are attracted by what is weak but
arrests attention by obvious and superficial merits. The standards
which artistic authority has erected, the accepted canons of good
taste and judgment, do not commend themselves at first as right or
natural. But modest and well-disposed people take it for granted at
starting that the orthodox judgment will turn out to be right; and
they set themselves to school to learn why the artists and poets of
great name are great, till their own judgment becomes enlightened, and
they understand what at first they took on trust. It was the
instinctive perception of this function of authority which made the
Church insist so much on the principle 'credo ut intelligam.' The
Creed represents the catholic judgment, the highest knowledge of God
and the spiritual life granted to man by the Divine Revelation. Let a
man put himself to school in the Church with reverence and godly fear,
and his own judgment will become enlightened. He will come to say with
S. Anselm, 'I give thee thanks, good Lord; because what first I
believed by Thy gift, I now understand by Thy illumination[274].'

Such an idea of authority leaves much for the individual to do. It is
the reaction of the individual on the society which is to keep the
common tradition pure and unnarrowed. The Church has in Holy Scripture
the highest expression of the mind of Christ. The familiarity of all
its members with this flawless and catholic image is to ward off in
each generation that tendency to deteriorate and to become
materialised which belongs to all 'traditions.' The individual
illumination is thus to react as a purifying force upon the common
mind of the Christian society. The individual Christian is to pay the
debt of his education, by himself 'testing all things and holding fast
that which is good.' Specially gifted individuals from time to time
will be needed to effect more or less sudden 'reversions to type,' to
the undying type of apostolic teaching[275]. But such a true reformer
is quite distinct in idea from the heretic. He reforms; he does not
innovate. His note is to restore; not to reject. And the absence of
necessity for fundamental rejection comes from this simple fact, that
the Christian Creed is rational and true. If any man comes to us and
says that he has studied and assimilated the Christian Creed with all
the care and reverence in his ability, and has rejected it because he
finds it irrational and false, we cannot complain of him[276]. We
cannot ask him to accept it though he thinks it false. We do not at
all complain of his having inquired and thought freely--only we
venture to assure him, with a confidence which can hardly fail to be
irritating, because it is confident, that he is mistaken, that he has
thought not only freely, but erroneously. When Christianity adopts, as
in the modern Romanist system, a different tone, proscribing free
inquiry as 'rationalistic,' and making the appeal to antiquity, in
order to test the present teaching of the Church, a 'treason and a
heresy[277],' it is abjuring its own rational heritage, and adopting a
method which Charles Kingsley had good reason to call Manichaean. It
is the test of the Church's legitimate tenure that she can encourage
free inquiry into her title-deeds.

3. Thirdly, the Spirit claims for His own, and _consecrates the whole
of nature_. One Spirit was the original author of all that is; and all
that exists is in its essence very good. It is only sin which has
produced the appearance of antagonism between the Divine operation and
human freedom, or between the spiritual and the material. Thus the
humanity of Christ, which is the Spirit's perfect work, exhibits in
its perfection how every faculty of human nature, spiritual and
physical, is enriched and vitalized, not annihilated, by the closest
conceivable interaction of the Divine Energy. This principle, as
carried out in the Church, occupies a prominent place in the earliest
theology; in part because Montanism, with its pagan idea of
inspiration, as an ecstasy which deprived its subject of reason, gave
the Church an opportunity of emphasizing that the fullest action of
the Spirit, in the case of her inspired men, intensified and did not
supersede their own thought, judgment, and individuality; still more
because Gnostic dualism, turning every antithesis of nature and grace,
of spirit and flesh, of natural and supernatural, into an antagonism,
forced upon the Church the assertion of her own true and comprehensive
Creed. That everything in Christianity is realized 'in flesh as in
spirit' is the constantly reiterated cry of S. Ignatius, who of all
men was most 'spiritual.' That the spiritual is not the immaterial,
that we become spiritual not by any change or curtailment of nature,
not by any depreciation or ignoring of the body, is the constantly
asserted principle of S. Irenaeus[278]. And the earliest writers in
general emphasize the visible organization of the Church, and the
institution of external sacraments, as negations of the false
principle which would sunder nature from God, and repudiate the unity
of the material and the spiritual which the Word had been made Flesh
in order to reveal and to perpetuate.

4. But the unity of the spirit and the flesh, of faith and experience,
of God and the world, is certainly not an accomplished fact. On the
contrary, dualism is always making appeals which strike home to our
present experience. Thus if the Church was to maintain the unity of
all things, it could only be by laying great stress upon the ravages
which sin had wrought, and upon _the gradualness of the Spirit's
method_ in recovery. The Old Testament, for example, presented a most
unspiritual appearance. Its material sacrifices, its low standard of
morals, its worldliness, were constantly being objected to by the
Gnostic and Manichaean sects, who could not tolerate the Old Testament
canon. 'But you are ignoring,' the Church replied, 'the gradualness of
the Spirit's method.' He lifts man by little and little, He
condescends to man's infirmity: He puts up with him as he is, if only
He can at the last bring him back to God.

It is of the essence of the New Testament, as the religion of the
Incarnation, to be final and catholic: on the other hand, it is of the
essence of the Old Testament to be imperfect because it represents a
gradual process of education by which man was lifted out of depths of
sin and ignorance. That this is the case, and that in consequence the
justification of the Old Testament method lies not in itself at any
particular stage, but in its result taken as a whole, is a thought
very familiar to modern Christians[279]. But it is important to make
plain that it was a thought equally familiar to the Fathers of the
Christian Church. Thus S. Gregory of Nazianzus, speaking of God's
dealings with the Jews of old, describes how, in order to gain the
co-operation of man's good will in working for his recovery, He dealt
'after the manner of a schoolmaster or a physician, and while
curtailing part of their ancestral customs, tolerated the rest, making
some concession to their tastes, just as physicians make their
medicines palatable that they may be taken by their patients. For men
do not easily abandon what long custom has consecrated. Thus the first
law, while it abolished their idols, tolerated their sacrifices; the
second, while it abolished their sacrifices, allowed them to be
circumcised: then when once they had accepted the removal of what was
taken from them, they went further and gave up what had been conceded
to them--in the first case their sacrifices, in the second their
practice of circumcision--and they became instead of heathens, Jews,
instead of Jews, Christians, being betrayed as it were by gradual
changes into acceptance of the Gospel[280].' Again, S. Chrysostom
explains how it is the very merit of the Old Testament that it has
taught us to think things intolerable, which under it were tolerated.
'Do not ask,' he says, 'how these (Old Testament precepts) can be
good, now when the need for them is past: ask how they were good when
the period required them. Or rather, if you wish, do inquire into
their merit even now. It is still conspicuous, and lies in nothing so
much as what now enables us to find fault with them. Their highest
praise is that we now see them to be defective. If they had not
trained us well, so that we became susceptible of higher things, we
should not have now seen their deficiency.' Then he shews how under
the old law swearing by the true God was allowed to avoid swearing by
idols, the worse ill. 'But is not swearing at all of the evil one?' he
asks. 'Undoubtedly, now, after this long course of training, but then
not. And how can the same thing be good at one time and bad at
another? I ask rather, how should it not be so, when we have regard to
the plain teaching of the fact of growth in all things, fruits of the
earth or acquirements of man? Look at man's own nature; the food, the
occupations which suit his infancy, are repulsive to his manhood. Or
consider facts of history. All agree that murder is an invention of
Satan, yet this very act at a suitable time made Phineas to be
honoured with the high priesthood. Phineas' murder "was reckoned to
him for righteousness." Just in the same way Abraham obtained an even
higher honour for being not a murderer only but what was much worse, a
child-murderer. We must not then look at the facts in themselves only,
but investigate with attention the period also, the cause, the motive,
the difference of persons, and all the attendant circumstances: so
only can one get at the truth[281].'

Once more S. Basil: 'Surely it is absolutely infantile and worthy of a
child who must be really fed on milk, to be ignorant of the great
mystery of our salvation--that just as we received our earliest
instruction, so, in exercising unto godliness and going on unto
perfection, we were first trained by lessons easy to apprehend and
suited to our intelligence. He Who regulates our lives deals with us
as those who have been reared in darkness, and gradually accustoms our
eyes to the light of truth. For He spares our weakness, and in the
depth of the riches of His wisdom and the unsearchable judgments of
His understanding adopts this gentle treatment, so well adapted to our
needs, accustoming us first to see the shadow of objects, and to look
at the sun's reflection in water, so that we may not be suddenly
blinded by the exposure to the pure light. By parity of reasoning, the
law being a shadow of things to come, and the typical teaching of the
prophets, which is the truth darkly, have been devised as exercises
for the eyes of the heart, inasmuch as it will be easy for us to pass
from these to wisdom hidden in mystery[282].'

In the same spirit was the Church's answer to the difficulties which
facts of personal experience were constantly putting in the way of her
claims. Churchmen were frequently seen to be vulgar, ignorant,
imperfect, sinful. If, in spite of manifold evils existing within her,
the Church could still appeal to her fruits, it must be by comparison
with what was to be found elsewhere, or by taking in a large area for
comparison, or by appealing to her special grounds of hope. In fact,
what she represented was a hope, not a realization; a tendency, not a
result; a life in process, not a ripened fruit. But then she claimed
that this was God's way. 'He loves us not as we are, but as we are
becoming[283].' Let but a man once lay hold of the life-giving
principle of faith, and God sets a value on him, life has a promise
for him, altogether out of proportion to present attainments. For God
estimates him, in view of all the forces of a new life which are set
loose to work upon him, and he can assure himself that the movement of
recovery which he has begun to feel stirring within him will carry him
on through eternal ages, beyond what he can ask or think.

It is because of this gradualness of the Spirit's method that it lays
so great a strain on human patience. The spiritually-minded of all
ages have tended to find the visible Church a very troubled and
imperfect home. Most startling disclosures of the actual state of
ecclesiastical disorder and moral collapse, may be gathered out of the
Christian Fathers. Thus to found a 'pure Church' has been the instinct
of impatient zeal since Tertullian's day. But the instinct has to be
restrained, the visible Church has to be borne with, because it is the
Spirit's purpose to provide a home for the training and improvement of
the imperfect. 'Let both grow together unto the harvest.' 'A bruised
reed will He not break, and smoking flax will He not quench.' The
Church must have her terms of communion, moral and intellectual: this
is essential to keep her fundamental principles intact, and to prevent
her betraying her secret springs of strength and recovery. But short
of this necessity she is tolerant. It is her note to be tolerant,
morally and theologically. She is the mother, not the magistrate. No
doubt her balanced duty is one difficult to fulfil. At times she has
been puritanical, at others morally lax; at times doctrinally lax, at
others rigid. But however well or ill she has fulfilled the
obligations laid on her, this is her ideal. She is the guardian, the
depository of a great gift, a mighty presence, which in its essence is
unchanging and perfect, but is realized very imperfectly in her
experience and manifested life. This is what S. Thomas Aquinas means
when he says 'that to believe _in_ the Church is only possible if we
mean by it to believe in the Spirit vivifying the Church[284].' The
true self of the Church is the Holy Spirit, but a great deal in the
Church at any date does not belong to her true self, and is obscuring
the Spirit's mind. Thus the treasure is in earthen vessels, it is
sometimes a light hid under a bushel; and the Church is the probation
of faith, as well as its encouragement.

It will not be out of place to conclude this review of the Spirit's
method in the Church by calling attention to the emphasis which, from
the first, Christians laid upon the fact that the animating principle
both of their individual lives and of their society as a whole, was
nothing less than the Holy Spirit Himself. To know Him was (as against
all the philosophical schools, and in a sense in which the same could
not be said even of the Divine Word) their peculiar privilege, to
possess Him their summary characteristic. Under the old covenant, and
in all the various avenues of approach to the Church, men could be the
subjects of the Spirit's guidance and could be receiving gifts from
Him; but the 'initiated' Christian, baptized and confirmed, possessed
not merely His gifts but Himself. He is in the Church, as the 'Vicar
of Christ,' in Whose presence Christ Himself is with them. He is the
consecrator of every sacrament, and the substance of His own
sacramental gifts. The services of ordained men indeed are required
for the administration of sacraments, but as ministers simply of a
Power higher than themselves, of a Personal Spirit Who indeed is
invoked by their ministry, and pledges Himself to respond to their
invocations, but never subjects Himself to their power. Therefore the
unworthiness of the minister diminishes in no way the efficacy of the
sacrament, or the reality of the gift given, because the ministry of
men neither creates the gift nor adds to or diminishes its force. He
is the giver of the gift, and the gift He gives is the same to all.
Only the meagreness of human faith and love restrains the largeness of
His bounty and conditions the Thing received by the narrowness and
variability of the faculty which receives it. According to our faith
is it done to us, and where there is no faith and no love there the
grace is equally, in S. Augustine's phrase, present and

II. In something of this way the early Christian writers--and it has
seemed better to let them speak for us--teach the doctrine of the Holy
Spirit. What they teach is grounded in part on actual experience, in
part on the revelation of the being and action of God made once for
all in the Person of Jesus Christ and recorded in the New Testament.
On this mingled basis of experience and Holy Scripture they passed
back from the doctrine of the Holy Spirit as He is operative in the
world, to the Theology of His Person. They passed back but slowly,
with great hesitation, even unwillingness. Nothing, we may say, was
further removed from the Fathers than the easy-going assumption that
because we are the subjects of a revelation, therefore we are able to
speculate with tolerably complete information about the mysteries
which lie beyond experience. The truth that 'we know in part,' we see
'in a glass darkly,' was profoundly impressed upon their minds. God
manifested Himself, S. Gregory of Nazianzus tells, in such a way as to
escape the nets of our syllogisms, and to shew Himself superior to our
logical distinctions. If we expect to find our logic equal to express
Him, we shew only our mad presumption, 'we who are not able even to
know what lies at our feet, or to count the waves of the sea, or the
drops of rain, or the days of the world, much less to fathom the
depths of God, and give account of His nature which transcends alike
our reason and our power of expression[286].' Besides this, the early
theologians realized the obligation of keeping to Holy Scripture--of
not being wise 'above that which is written'--and they were conscious
of the danger of building on isolated texts of Scripture or of
treating its 'simple and untechnical' language as if it was the
language of a formal treatise[287].

For these reasons they were cautious in theological speculation. Yet
the facts and relationships introduced into the world of experience by
the revelation of the Son represent eternal realities, if under great
limitations yet still truly, and thus make possible a real security up
to a certain point on what lies beyond the unassisted human knowledge.
Thus, first, when the Arian movement passed from the denial of the
true Godhead of Christ to a similar position with reference to the
Holy Spirit, the Christian Church felt itself fully justified alike by
its past traditions[288], and by its Scriptures, in emphasizing the
personal distinctness and the true Godhead of the Holy Spirit. Unless
all Christ's language was an illusion, the Holy Spirit was really
personal and really distinct from Himself and the Father; nor could
One who was associated with the Father and the Son in all the
essentially Divine operations of nature and grace, be less than truly
and really God, an essential element in the Eternal Being. The Arian
controversy in its earlier stages had disposed of the notion that
Christian theology could at any cost admit the conception of a created
personality, clothed with Divine attributes and exercising Divine

Secondly, the consideration that the relations manifested in the
Incarnation in terms of our experience between the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Ghost, express transcendent and eternal relations, led
the Church to speak of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father,
as the unique fount of Godhead, through the Son: or in somewhat less
nicely discriminated language 'from the Father and the Son[289].' In
the fifth century there is a tendency to use in the East the former,
in the West the latter mode of expression, but without any essential
difference. Nor can it be said that the causes which were at work
later to divide the Eastern and the Western Churches on the subject of
the procession of the Holy Ghost, were so much really theological as
ecclesiastical and political.

Thirdly, the accurate consideration of the language in which is
expressed the relation of Christ to the Holy Spirit, helped the Church
to guard the doctrine of the Trinity from the associations of
Tritheism. For the coming of the Holy Spirit is clearly spoken of in
Holy Scripture as coincident with and involving the coming of Christ.
'While we are illuminated by the Holy Spirit, it is Christ who
illuminates us: when we drink in the Spirit, it is Christ we drink.'
The Spirit is distinct from Christ--'another Paraclete'--yet in His
coming, Christ comes: in His indwelling is the indwelling of the
Father and the Son[290]. How can this be? Because the 'Persons' of the
Holy Trinity are not to be thought of as distinct individuals, as
three Gods. No doubt in our ordinary language, persons are understood
to be separate, and mutually exclusive beings. Even in regard to
ourselves deeper reflection shews us that our personalities are very
far from being as separate as they appear to be on the surface: and
with regard to God, it was only with an expressed apology for the
imperfection of human language that the Church spoke of the Divine
Three, as Three _Persons_ at all. But 'we have no celestial language,'
and the word is the only one which will express what Christ's language
implies about Himself, the Father, and the Spirit. Only while we use
it, it must be understood to express mutual inclusion, not mutual

Wherever the Father works, He works essentially and inevitably through
the Son and the Spirit; whenever the Son acts, He acts from the Father
by the Holy Spirit; whenever the Holy Spirit comes, He brings with Him
in His coming the Son and the Father. Thus when an image was necessary
to interpret in part the Divine relationships, the Fathers sought it
nowhere so much as in the three distinct yet inseparable elements of
man's spiritual nature; the triune character of which Plato had
already brought into notice, and which is in fact an earthly image,
however inadequate, of the Triune God[291].

III. Hitherto nothing has been said about that part of the Holy
Spirit's work which is called the inspiration of Scripture. It has
been kept to the last because of the great importance of putting it in
context with less familiar truths. The Scriptures have, it is a
commonplace to say, suffered greatly from being isolated. This is as
true whether we are considering them as a source of evidence or as the
sphere of inspiration.

As a source of evidence they contain the record of historical facts
with some of which at any rate the Creed of Christendom is inseparably
interwoven. Thus it is impossible for Christians who know what they
are about, to depreciate the importance of the historical evidence for
those facts at least of which the Creed contains a summary. But the
tendency with books of historical evidence has been, at least till
recently, to exaggerate the extent to which the mere evidence of
remote facts can compel belief. What we should make of the New
Testament record, what estimate we should be able to form of the
Person of Jesus Christ and the meaning of His life and work, if it was
contained simply in some old manuscripts, or unearthed in some way by
antiquaries out of the Syrian sand, it is impossible to say. In order
to have grounds for believing the facts, in order to be susceptible of
their evidence, we require an antecedent state of conception and
expectation. A whole set of presuppositions about God, about the
slavery of sin, about the reasonableness of redemption, must be
present with us. So only can the facts presented to us in the Gospel
come to us as credible things, or as parts of an intelligible
universe, correlated elements in a rational whole. Now the work of the
Spirit in the Church has been to keep alive and real these
presuppositions, this frame of mind. He convinces of sin, of
righteousness, of judgment. He does this not merely in isolated
individuals however numerous, but in an organized continuous society.
The spiritual life of the Church assures me that in desiring union
with God, in feeling the burden of sin, in hungering for redemption, I
am not doing an eccentric, abnormal thing. I am doing only what
belongs to the best and richest movement of humanity. More than this,
it assures me that assent to the claims and promises of Jesus Christ
satisfies these spiritual needs in such a way as to produce the
strongest, the most lasting, the most catholic sort of human
character. The historical life of the Church thus in every age
'setting to its seal' that God's offer in Christ is true, reproduces
the original 'witness,' commends it to conscience and reason, spans
the gulf of the ages, and brings down remote and alien incidents into
close and intelligible familiarity. Lotze speaks of revelation as
'either contained in some divine act of historic occurrence, or
continually repeated in men's hearts[292].' But in fact the antithesis
is not an alternative. The strength of the Christian Creed is that it
is both. It is a revelation continuously renewed in men's hearts by an
organized and systematic operation of the Spirit in the Church, while
at the same time it finds its guarantee and security in certain Divine
acts of historic occurrence.

Once more, the belief in the Holy Scriptures as inspired requires to
be held in context by the belief in the general action of the Holy
Spirit upon the Christian society and the individual soul. It is, we
may perhaps say, becoming more and more difficult to believe in the
Bible without believing in the Church. The Apostles, indeed,--and the
New Testament canon consists largely of the words of Apostles--have an
authority which, reasonably considered, is unique, and stands by
itself as that of the accredited witnesses of Christ; but when we find
them appealing to members of the Church, they appeal not as the
possessors of an absolute authority or of a Spirit in which others do
not share. They are the ministers of a 'tradition' to which they
themselves are subject, a tradition 'once for all delivered[293]:'
they appeal to those who hear them as men 'who have an unction from
the Holy One and know all things.' The tone in fact of the apostolic
writers forces us to regard the spirit in which the Church lives, as
co-operating with, and in a real sense limiting, the spirit in which
they themselves speak and write. Thus in fact the apostolic writings
were written as occasion required, within the Church, and for the
Church. They presuppose membership in it and familiarity with its
tradition. They are secondary, not primary, instructors; for
edification, not for initiation. Nor, in fact, can a hard and fast
line be drawn between what lies within and what lies without the
canon. For example, Protestantism of an unecclesiastical sort has
built upon the Epistle to the Hebrews as much as upon any book of the
New Testament. This book is of unknown authorship. If 'Pauline' it is
pretty certainty not S. Paul's. In large part it is the judgment of
the Church which enables us to draw a line between it and S. Clement's
'scripture.' The line indeed our own judgment approves. The Epistle to
the Hebrews and S. Clement's letter are closely linked together, but
the latter depends on the former: it is secondary and the other is
primary. Yet how narrow is the historical interval between them. How
impossible to tear the one from the other. How seemingly irrational to
attribute absolute authority to the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews
which represents apostolic teaching at second hand[294], and then to
interpret it in a sense hostile to the Epistle of Clement, which
represents exactly the same stream of apostolic teaching only one
short stage lower down. For Clement interprets the high priesthood of
Christ in a sense which, instead of excluding, makes it the basis of,
the ministerial hierarchy of the Church. Or to put the matter more
broadly, how irrational it is, considering the intimate links by which
the New Testament canon is bound up with the historic Church, not to
accept the mind of the Church, especially when we have its consent
down independent lines of tradition, as interpreting the mind of the
apostolic writers. Most rational surely is the attitude of the early
Church towards Scripture. The Scripture was regarded as the highest
utterance of the Spirit, the unique and constant test of the Church's
life and teaching. But the Spirit in the Church interpreted the
meaning of Scripture. Thus the Church taught and the Scripture tested
and verified or corrected her teaching: and this because all was of
one piece, the life of the Church including the Scriptures, the
inspired writers themselves appealing to the Spirit in the

And now, what is to be said about this, at present, much controverted
subject of the inspiration of Holy Scripture? What does the doctrine
imply, and what attitude does belief in it involve towards the modern
critical treatment of the inspired literature?

1. Let us bear carefully in mind the place which the doctrine holds in
the building up of a Christian faith. It is in fact an important part
of the superstructure, but it is not among the _bases_ of the
Christian belief. The Christian creed asserts the reality of certain
historical facts. To these facts, in the Church's name, we claim
assent: but we do so on grounds which, so far, are quite independent
of the _inspiration_ of the evangelic records. All that we claim to
shew at this stage is that they are historical: not historical so as
to be absolutely without error, but historical in the general sense,
so as to be trustworthy. All that is necessary for faith in Christ is
to be found in the moral dispositions which predispose to belief, and
make intelligible and credible the thing to be believed: coupled with
such acceptance of the generally historical character of the Gospels,
and of the trustworthiness of the other apostolic documents, as
justifies belief that our Lord was actually born of the Virgin Mary,
manifested as the Son of God 'with power according to a spirit of
holiness,' crucified, raised again the third day from the dead,
exalted to the right hand of the Father, the founder of the Church and
the source to it of the informing Spirit.

In all this no claim is made for any special belief as to the method
of the Spirit's work in the Scripture or in the Church. Logically such
belief follows, does not precede, belief in Christ. Indeed, in the
past, Christian apologists have made a great mistake in allowing
opponents to advance as objections against the historical character of
the Gospel narrative, what are really objections not against its
historical character--not such as could tell against the substantially
historical character of secular documents--but against a certain view
of the meaning of inspiration. Let it be laid down then that
Christianity brings with it indeed a doctrine of the inspiration of
Holy Scriptures, but is not based upon it[296].

2. But such a doctrine it does bring with it. Our Lord and His
Apostles are clearly found to believe and to teach that the Scriptures
of the Old Testament were given by inspiration of God; and the
Christian Church from the earliest days postulated the same belief
about the Scriptures of the New Testament. To disbelieve that 'the
Scriptures were spoken by the Holy Ghost,' was equivalent to being 'an

Thus, when once a man finds himself a believer in Christ, he will find
himself in a position where alike the authority of his Master and the
'communis sensus' of the society he belongs to, give into his hand
certain documents and declare them inspired.

3. What in its general idea does this mean?

S. Athanasius expresses the function of the Jews in the world in a
luminous phrase, when he describes them as having been the 'sacred
school for all the world of the knowledge of God and of the spiritual
life[298].' Every race has its special vocation, and we recognise in
the great writers of each race the interpreters of that vocation. They
are specially gifted individuals, but not merely individuals. The race
speaks in them: Rome is interpreted by Virgil, and Greece by Aeschylus
or Plato. Now every believer in God must see in these special missions
of races, a Divine inspiration. If we can once get down to the bottom
of human life, below its pride, its wilfulness, its pretentiousness,
down to its essence, we get to God and to a movement of His
Spirit[299]. Thus every race has its inspiration and its prophets.

But the inspiration of the Jews was supernatural. What does this mean?
That the Jews were selected--not to be the school for humanity in any
of the arts and sciences which involve the thought of God only
indirectly, and can therefore be carried on without a fundamental
restoration of man into that relation to God which sin had clouded or
broken,--but to be the school of that fundamental restoration itself.
Therefore, in the case of the Jews the inspiration is both in itself
more direct and more intense, and also involves a direct consciousness
on the part of its subjects. In the race, indeed, the consciousness
might be dim; but the consciousness, as the prophets all assure us,
did belong to the race, and not merely to its individual interpreters.
They speak as recalling the people to something which they know, or
ought to know, not as preachers of a new religion. They were 'the
conscience of the state[300].' But special men, prophets, psalmists,
moralists, historians, were thus the inspired interpreters of the
Divine message to and in the race: and their inspiration lies in this,
that they were the subjects of a movement of the Holy Ghost, so
shaping, controlling, quickening their minds and thoughts and
aspirations, as to make them the instruments through which was
imparted 'the knowledge of God and of the spiritual life.'

Various are the degrees of this inspiration: the inspiration of the
prophet is direct, continuous, absorbing. The inspiration of the
writer of Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, is such as to lead him to
ponder on all the phases of a worldly experience, passing through many
a false conclusion, and cynical denial, till at the last his thought
is led to unite itself to the great stream of Divine movement by
finding the only possible solution of the problems of life in the
recognition of God, and in obedience to Him.

Various also are the sorts of literature inspired: for the
supernatural fertilizes and does not annihilate the natural. The
Church repudiated the Montanist conception of inspiration, according
to which the inspired man speaks in ecstasy, as the passive
unconscious instrument of the Spirit; and the metaphors which would
describe the Holy Spirit as acting upon a man 'like a flute player
breathing into his flute,' or 'a plectrum striking a lyre,' have
always a suspicion of heresy attaching to their use[301]. As the
humanity of Christ is none the less a true humanity for being
conditioned by absolute oneness with God, so the human activity is
none the less free, conscious, rational, because the Spirit inspires
it. The poet is a poet, the philosopher a philosopher, the historian
an historian, each with his own idiosyncrasies, ways, and methods, to
be interpreted each by the laws of his own literature. And just as
truly as physiology, in telling us more and more about the human body,
is telling us about the body which the Son of God assumed, so with the
growth of our knowledge about the kinds and sequences of human
literature, shall we know more and more about the literature of the
Jews which the Holy Spirit inspired.

What then is meant by the inspiration of Holy Scripture? If we begin
our inquiry with the account of creation with which the Bible opens,
we may take note of its affinities in general substance with the
Babylonian and Phoenician cosmogonies; but we are much more struck
with its differences, and it is in these we shall look for its
inspiration. We observe that it has for its motive and impulse not the
satisfaction of a fantastic curiosity, or the later interest of
scientific discovery, but to reveal certain fundamental religious
principles: that everything as we see it was made by God: that it has
no being in itself but at God's will: on the other hand, that
everything is in its essence good, as the product of the good God:
that man, besides sharing the physical nature of all creation, has a
special relation to God, as made in God's image, to be God's
vice-gerent: that sin, and all that sin brings with it of misery and
death, came not of man's nature but of his disobedience to God and
rejection of the limitations under which He put him: that in spite of
all that sin brought about, God has not left man to himself, that
there is a hope and a promise. These are the fundamental principles of
true religion and progressive morality, and in these lies the
supernatural inspiration of the Bible account of creation[302].

As we pass on down the record of Genesis, we do not find ourselves in
any doubt as to the primary and certain meaning of its inspiration.
The first traditions of the race are all given there _from a special
point of view_. In that point of view lies the inspiration. It is that
everything is presented to us as illustrating God's dealings with
man--God's judgment on sin: His call of a single man to work out a
universal mission: His gradual delimitation of a chosen race: His care
for the race: His over-ruling of evil to work out His purpose. The
narrative of Genesis has all the fullest wealth of human interest, but
it is in the unveiling of the hand of God that its special
characteristic lies. As we go on into the history, we find the
recorders acting like the recorders of other nations, collecting,
sorting, adapting, combining their materials, but in this
inspired--that the animating motive of their work is not to bring out
the national glory or to flatter the national vanity, nor, like the
motive of a modern historian, the mere interest in fact, but to keep
before the chosen people the record of how God has dealt with them.
This, as we perceive, gives them a special sense of the value of
fact[303]. They record what God has done, how God did in such and such
ways take action on behalf of His peculiar people, delivering them,
punishing them, teaching them, keeping them, disciplining them for
higher ends. And none who have eyes to see God's spiritual purposes
can doubt that those historians read aright the chronicles of the
kings of Israel. The spiritual significance which they see is the true
significance. God's special purpose was on Israel.

It is not necessary to emphasize in what consists the special
inspiration of psalmists or of prophets. The psalmists take some of
the highest places among the poets of all nations, but the poetic
faculty is directed to one great end, to reveal the soul in its
relation to God, in its exultations and in its self-abasements. 'Where
... did they come from, those piercing lightning-like gleams of
strange spiritual truth, those magnificent out-looks upon the kingdom
of God, those raptures at His presence and His glory, those wonderful
disclosures of self-knowledge, those pure out-pourings of the love of
God? Surely here is something more than the mere working of the mind
of man. Surely ... they repeat the whispers of the Spirit of God, they
reflect the very light of the Eternal Wisdom[304].'

In the case of prophets once more we get the most obvious and typical
instances of inspiration[305]. The prophets make a direct claim to be
the instruments of the Divine Spirit. Not that the Divine Spirit
supersedes their human faculties, but He intensifies them. They see
deeper under the surface of life what God is doing, and therefore
further into the future what He will do. No doubt their predictive
knowledge is general, it is of the issue to which things tend. It is
not at least usually a knowledge 'of times and of seasons which the
Father hath put in His own power.' Thus at times they foreshorten the
distance, and place the great deliverance and the 'day of Jehovah' in
the too immediate foreground[306]. The prophetic inspiration is thus
consistent with erroneous anticipations as to the circumstances and
the opportunity of God's self-revelation, just as the apostolic
inspiration admitted of S. Paul expecting the second coming of Christ
within his own life-time. But the prophets claim to be directly and
really inspired to teach and interpret what God is doing and
commanding in their own age, and to forecast what in judgment and
redemptive mercy God means to do and must do in the Divine event. The
figure of the king Messiah dawns upon their horizon with increasing
definiteness of outline and characteristic, and we, with the
experience of history between us and them, are sure that the
correspondence of prophecy and fulfilment can be due to no other cause
than that they spoke in fact the 'word of the Lord.'

Thus there is built up for us in the literature of a nation, marked by
an unparalleled unity of purpose and character, a spiritual fabric,
which in its result we cannot but recognise as the action of the
Divine Spirit. A knowledge of God and of the spiritual life gradually
appears, not as the product of human ingenuity, but as the result of
Divine communication: and the outcome of this communication is to
produce an organic whole which postulates a climax not yet reached, a
redemption not yet given, a hope not yet satisfied. In this general
sense at least no Christian ought to feel a difficulty in believing,
and believing with joy, in the inspiration of the Old Testament: nor
can he feel that he is left without a standard by which to judge what
it means. Christ, the goal of Old Testament development, stands forth
as the test and measure of its inspiration.

The New Testament consists of writings of Apostles or of men of
sub-apostolic rank, like S. Luke and probably the author of the
Epistle to the Hebrews. There is not, except perhaps in the case of
the Apocalypse, any sign of an inspiration to write, other than the
inspiration which gave power to teach. What then is, whether for
writing or for teaching, the inspiration of an Apostle?

If Jesus Christ both was, and knew Himself to be, the Revealer of the
Father, it almost stands to reason that He must have secured that His
revelation should be, without material alloy, communicated to the
Church which was to enshrine and perpetuate it. Thus, in fact, we find
that He spent His chief pains on the training of His apostolic
witnesses. And all the training which He gave them while He was
present among them was only to prepare them to receive the Holy Ghost
Who, after He was gone, was to be poured out upon them to qualify them
to bear His witness among men.

'Ye shall receive power, when the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye
shall be My witnesses:' 'These things have I spoken unto you while yet
abiding with you. And the Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, Whom the
Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring
to your remembrance all that I said unto you.' 'I have yet many things
to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the
Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all the truth[307].'

Thus the Church sees in the Apostles men specially and deliberately
qualified to interpret Christ to the world. It understands by their
inspiration an endowment which enables men of all ages to take their
teaching as representing, and not misrepresenting, His teaching and
Himself. In S. John's Gospel, for example, we have an account of our
Lord which has obviously passed through the medium of a most
remarkable personality. We have the outcome of the meditation, as well
as the recollection, of the Apostle. But, as the evidence assures us
that the Gospel is really S. John's, so the Church unhesitatingly
accepts S. John's strong and repeated asseveration that he is
interpreting and not distorting the record, the personality, the
claims of Jesus Christ. 'He bears record, and his record is

This assurance is indeed not without verification: it is verified by
the unity of testimony which, under all differences of character and
circumstance, we find among the apostolic witnesses. The accepted
doctrine of the Church when S. Paul wrote his 'undoubted
Epistles,'--the points of agreement amidst all differences between him
and the Judaizers--gives us substantially the same conception of the
Person of the Incarnate Son of God as we find in S. John[309]. The
same conception of what He was, is required to interpret the record of
what He did and said in the Synoptic Gospels. Further, the witness of
the Apostles, though it receives its final guarantee through the
belief in their inspiration, has its natural basis in the prolonged
training by which--'companying with them all the time that He went in
and out among them, beginning from the baptism of John, until the day
that He was received up,'--they were prepared to be His witnesses.
Thus if an act of faith is asked of us in the apostolic inspiration,
it is a reasonable act of faith.

If we pass from the writings properly apostolic to those like
S. Luke's records, which represent apostolic teaching at second hand,
we do not find that the inspiration of their writers was of such sort
as enabled them to dispense with the ordinary means or guarantees of
accuracy. The simple claim of S. Luke's preface to have had the best
means of information and to have taken the greatest care in the use of
them, is on this score most instructive. We should suppose that their
inspiration was part of the whole spiritual endowment of their life
which made them the trusted friends of the Apostles, and qualified
them to be the chosen instruments to record their teaching, in the
midst of a Church whose quick and eager memory of 'the tradition'
would have acted as a check to prevent any material error creeping
into the record.

4. It will be remembered that when inspiration is spoken of by
S. Paul, he mentions it as a positive endowment which qualifies the
writings of those who were its subjects, to be permanent sources of
spiritual instruction. 'Every Scripture inspired of God is also
profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction
which is in righteousness[310].' Following out this idea of Holy
Scripture then, we are led to think of the belief in inspiration as
having this primary practical result: that we submit ourselves to the
teaching of every book which is given to us as inspired. We are to put
ourselves to school with each in turn of the inspired writers; with
S. James, for example, in the New Testament, as well as with S. John
and S. Paul; with S. Luke as well as with S. Matthew; with the
Pastoral Epistles as well as with the Epistle to the Galatians[311].
At starting each of us, according to his predisposition, is conscious
of liking some books of Scripture better than others. This, however,
should lead us to recognise that in some way we specially need the
teaching which is less attractive to us. We should set ourselves to
study what we like less, till that too has had its proper effect in
moulding our conscience and character. It is hardly possible to
estimate how much division would have been avoided in the Church if
those, for example, who were most ecclesiastically disposed had been
at pains to assimilate the teaching of the Epistle to the Romans, and
those who most valued 'the freedom of the Gospel' had recognised a
special obligation to deepen their hold on the Epistles to the
Corinthians and the Pastoral Epistles and the Epistle of S. James.

To believe in the inspiration of Holy Scripture is to put ourselves to
school with every part of the Old Testament, as of the New. True, the
Old Testament is imperfect, but for that very reason has a special
value. 'The real use of the earlier record is not to add something to
the things revealed in Christ, but to give us that clear and all-sided
insight into the meaning and practical worth of the perfect scheme of
Divine grace which can only be attained by tracing its growth[312].'
We see in the Old Testament the elements, each in separation, which
went to make up the perfect whole, and which must still lie at the
basis of all rightly formed life of individuals and societies.

Thus to believe, for instance, in the inspiration of the Old Testament
forces us to recognise a real element of the Divine education in the
imprecatory Psalms. They are not the utterances of selfish spite[313]:
they are the claim which righteous Israel makes upon God that He
should vindicate Himself, and let their eyes see how 'righteousness
turns again unto judgment.' The claim is made in a form which belongs
to an early stage of spiritual education; to a time when _this life_
was regarded as the scene in which God must finally vindicate Himself,
and when the large powers and possibilities of the Divine compassion
were very imperfectly recognised. But behind these limitations, which
characterize the greater part of the Old Testament, the claim of these
Psalms still remains a necessary part of the claim of the Christian
soul. We must not only recognise the reality of Divine judgments in
time and eternity, bodily and spiritual; we must not only acquiesce in
them because they are God's; we must go on to claim of God the
manifestation of His just judgment, so that holiness and joy, sin and
failure, shall be seen to coincide.

To recognise then the inspiration of the Bible is to put ourselves to
school in every part of it, and everywhere to bear in mind the
admonition of the _De Imitatione_ 'that every Scripture must be read
in the same spirit in which it was written.' So far it will not be a
point in dispute among Christians what inspiration means, or what its
purpose is. 'The Councils of Trent and the Vatican,' writes Cardinal
Newman, 'tell us distinctly the object and the promise of Scriptural
inspiration. They specify "faith and moral conduct" as the drift of
that teaching which has the guarantee of inspiration[314].' Nor can it
be denied that the more Holy Scripture is read from this point of
view, the more confidently it is treated as the inspired guide of
faith and conduct, no less in the types of character which it sets
before us than in its direct instruction, the more the experience and
appreciation of its inspiration grows upon us, so that to deny or to
doubt it comes to mean to deny or to doubt a matter plain to the
senses. Indeed what has been said under this head will probably appear
to those practised in the spiritual use of Holy Scripture as an
understatement, perhaps not easy to justify, of the sense in which the
Scripture is the Word of God, and the spiritual food of the soul[315].

5. But here certain important questions arise. (_a_) The revelation of
God was made in a historical process. Its record is in large part the
record of a national life: it is historical. Now the inspiration of
the recorder lies, as we have seen, primarily in this, that he sees
the hand of God in the history and interprets His purpose. Further, we
must add, his sense of the working of God in history, increases his
realization of the importance of historical fact. Thus there is a
profound air of historical truthfulness pervading the Old Testament
record from Abraham downward. The weaknesses, the sins, of Israel's
heroes are not spared. Their sin and its punishment is always before
us. There is no flattering of national pride, no giving the reins to
boastfulness. In all this the Old Testament appears to be in marked
contrast, as to contemporary Assyrian monuments, so also to a good
deal of much later ecclesiastical history. But does the inspiration of
the recorder guarantee the exact historical truth of what he records?
And in matter of fact can the record, with due regard to legitimate
historical criticism, be pronounced true? Now, to the latter of these
two questions (and they are quite distinct questions), we may reply
that there is nothing to prevent our believing, as our faith certainly
strongly disposes us to believe, that the record from Abraham downward
is in substance in the strict sense historical. Of course the battle
of historical truth cannot be fought on the field of the Old
Testament, as it can on that of the New, because it is so vast and
indecisive, and because (however certainly ancient is such a narrative
as that contained in Genesis xiv.) very little of the early record can
be securely traced to a period near the events. Thus the Church cannot
_insist upon_ the historical character of the earliest records of the
ancient Church in detail, as she can on the historical character of
the Gospels or the Acts of the Apostles. On the other hand, as it
seems the more probable opinion that the Hebrews must have been
acquainted with the art of writing in some form long before the
Exodus, there is no reason to doubt the existence of some written
records among them from very early days[316]. Internal evidence again
certainly commends to our acceptance the history of the patriarchs, of
the Egyptian bondage, of the great redemption, of the wanderings, as
well as of the later period as to which there would be less dispute.
In a word we are, we believe, not wrong in anticipating that the
Church will continue to believe and to teach that the Old Testament
from Abraham downwards is really historical, and that there will be
nothing to make such belief and teaching unreasonable or wilful. But
within the limits of what is substantially historical, there is still
room for an admixture of what, though marked by spiritual purpose, is
yet not strictly historical--for instance, for a feature which
characterizes all early history, the attribution to first founders of
what is really the remoter result of their institutions. Now
historical criticism[317] assures us that this process has been
largely at work in the Pentateuch. By an analysis, for instance, the
force of which is very great, it distinguishes distinct stages in the
growth of the law of worship: at least an early stage such as is
represented in 'the Book of the Covenant[318],' a second stage in the
Book of Deuteronomy, a last stage in 'the Priestly Code.' What we may
suppose to have happened is that Moses himself established a certain
germ of ceremonial enactment in connection with the ark and its sacred
tent, and with the 'ten words'; and that this developed always as 'the
law of Moses,' the whole result being constantly attributed, probably
unconsciously and certainly not from any intention to deceive, to the
original founder. This view would certainly imply that the recorders
of Israel's history were subject to the ordinary laws in the estimate
of evidence, that their inspiration did not consist in a miraculous
communication to them of facts as they originally happened: but if we
believe that the law, as it grew, really did represent the Divine
intention for the Jews, gradually worked out upon the basis of a
Mosaic institution, there is nothing materially untruthful, though
there is something uncritical, in attributing the whole legislation to
Moses acting under the Divine command. It would be only of a piece
with the attribution of the collection of Psalms to David and of
Proverbs to Solomon. Nor does the supposition that the law was of
gradual growth interfere in any way with the symbolical and typical
value of its various ordinances.

Once again, the same school of criticism would assure us that the
Books of Chronicles represent a later and less historical version of
Israel's history than that given in Samuel and Kings[319]: they
represent, according to this view, the version of that history which
had become current in the priestly schools. What we are asked to admit
is not conscious perversion, but unconscious idealizing of history,
the reading back into past records of a ritual development which was
really later. Now inspiration excludes conscious deception or pious
fraud, but it appears to be quite consistent with this sort of
idealizing; always supposing that the result read back into the
earlier history does represent the real purpose of God and only
anticipates its realization.

Here then is one great question. Inspiration certainly means the
illumination of the judgment of the recorder. 'By the contact of the
Holy Spirit,' says Origen, 'they became clearer in their mental
perceptions, and their souls were filled with a brighter light[320].'
But have we any reason to believe that it means, over and above this,
the miraculous communication of facts not otherwise to be known, a
miraculous communication such as would make the recorder independent
of the ordinary processes of historical tradition? Certainly neither
S. Luke's preface to his Gospel, nor the evidence of any inspired
record, justifies us in this assumption. Nor would it appear that
spiritual illumination, even in the highest degree, has any tendency
to lift men out of the natural conditions of knowledge which belong to
their time. Certainly in the similar case of exegesis, it would appear
that S. Paul is left to the method of his time, though he uses it with
inspired insight into the function and meaning of law and of prophecy
as a whole. Thus, without pronouncing an opinion, where we have no
right to do so, on the critical questions at present under discussion,
we may maintain with considerable assurance that there is nothing in
the doctrine of inspiration to prevent our recognising a considerable
idealizing element in the Old Testament history. The reason is of
course obvious enough why what can be admitted in the Old Testament,
could not without results disastrous to the Christian Creed, be
admitted in the New. It is because the Old Testament is the record of
how God produced a need, or anticipation, or ideal, while the New
Testament records how in fact He satisfied it. The absolute
coincidence of idea and fact is vital in the realization, not in the
preparation for it. It is equally obvious, too, that where fact is of
supreme importance, as in the New Testament, the evidence has none of
the ambiguity or remoteness which belongs to much of the record of the

(_b_) But once again; we find all sorts of literature in the inspired
volume: men can be inspired to think and to write for God under all
the forms of natural genius. Now one form of genius is the dramatic:
its essence is to make characters, real or imaginary, the vehicles for
an ideal presentation. It presents embodied ideas. Now the Song of
Solomon is of the nature of a drama. The Book of Job, although it
works on an historical basis, is, it can hardly be denied, mainly
dramatic. The Book of Wisdom, which with us is among the books of the
Bible, though in the second rank outside the canon, and which is
inside the canon of the Roman Church, professes to be written by
Solomon[321], but is certainly written not by him, but in his person
by another author. We may then conceive the same to be true of
Ecclesiastes, and of Deuteronomy; i.e. we may suppose Deuteronomy to
be a republication of the law 'in the spirit and power' of Moses put
dramatically into his mouth. Criticism goes further, and asks us to
regard Jonah and Daniel, among the prophetic books, as dramatic
compositions worked up on a basis of history. The discussion of these
books has often been approached from a point of view from which the
miraculous is necessarily unhistorical. With such a point of view we
are not concerned. The possibility and reality of miracles has to be
vindicated first of all in the field of the New Testament; and one who
admits them there, cannot reasonably exclude their possibility in the
earlier history. The question must be treated simply on literary and
evidential grounds[322]. But we would contend that if criticism should
shew these books to be probably dramatic, that would be no hindrance
to their performing 'an important canonical function,' or to their
being inspired. Dramatic composition has played an immense part in
training the human mind. It is as far removed as possible from a
violation of truth, though in an uncritical age its results may very
soon pass for history. It admits of being inspired as much as poetry,
or history, and indeed there are few who could feel a difficulty in
recognising as inspired the teaching of the books of Jonah and
Daniel[323]. It is maintained then that the Church leaves open to
literary criticism the question whether several of the writings of the
Old Testament are or are not dramatic. Certainly the fact that they
have not commonly been taken to be so in the past will be no evidence
to the contrary, unless it can be denied that a literary criticism is
being developed, which is as really new an intellectual product as the
scientific development, and as such, certain to reverse a good many of
the literary judgments of previous ages. We are being asked to make
considerable changes in our literary conception of the Scriptures, but
not greater changes than were involved in the acceptance of the
heliocentric astronomy.

(_c_) Once again: an enlarged study of comparative history has led to
our perceiving that the various sorts of mental or literary activity
develop in their different lines out of an earlier condition in which
they lie fused and undifferentiated. This we can vaguely call the
mythical stage of mental evolution. A myth is not a falsehood; it is a
product of mental activity, as instructive and rich as any later
product, but its characteristic is that it is not yet distinguished
into history, and poetry, and philosophy. It is all of these in the
germ, as dream and imagination, and thought and experience, are fused
in the mental furniture of a child's mind. 'These myths or current
stories,' says Grote writing of Greek history, 'the spontaneous and
earliest growth of the Greek mind, constituted at the same time the
entire intellectual stock of the age to which they belonged. They are
the common root of all those different ramifications into which the
mental activity of the Greeks subsequently diverged; containing as it
were the preface and germ of the positive history and philosophy, the
dogmatic theology and the professed romance, which we shall hereafter
trace, each in its separate development.' Now has the Jewish history
such earlier stage: does it pass back out of history into myth? In
particular, are not its earlier narratives, before the call of
Abraham, of the nature of myth, in which we cannot distinguish the
historical germ, though we do not at all deny that it exists? The
inspiration of these narratives is as conspicuous as that of any part
of Scripture, but is there anything to prevent our regarding these
great inspirations about the origin of all things,--the nature of sin,
the judgment of God on sin, and the alienation among men which follows
their alienation from God,--as conveyed to us in that form of myth or
allegorical picture, which is the earliest mode in which the mind of
man apprehended truth?

6. In spite of the arbitrariness and the irreligion which have often
been associated with the modern development of historical criticism in
its application to the Old Testament, the present writer believes that
it represents none the less a real advance in literary analysis, and
is reaching results as sure, where it is fairly used, as scientific
inquiry, though the results in the one case as in the other are often
hard to disentangle from their less permanent accompaniments.
Believing this, and feeling in consequence that the warning which the
name of Galileo must ever bring before the memory of churchmen, is not
unneeded now, he believes also that the Church is in no way restrained
from admitting the modifications just hinted at, in what has latterly
been the current idea of inspiration.

The Church is not restrained, in the first place, by having committed
herself to any dogmatic definitions of the meaning of inspiration[324].
It is remarkable indeed that Origen's almost reckless mysticism, and
his accompanying repudiation of the historical character of large
parts of the narrative of the Old Testament, and of some parts of the
New[325], though it did not gain acceptance, and indeed had no right
to it (for it had no sound basis), on the other hand never roused the
Church to contrary definitions. Nor is it only Origen who disputed the
historical character of parts of the narrative of Holy Scripture.
Clement before him in Alexandria, and the mediaeval Anselm in the
West, treat the seven days' creation as allegory and not history.
Athanasius speaks of paradise as a 'figure.' A mediaeval Greek writer,
who had more of Irenaeus than remains to us, declared that 'he did not
know how those who kept to the letter and took the account of the
temptation historically rather than allegorically, could meet the
arguments of Irenaeus against them.' Further than this, it cannot be
denied that the mystical method, as a whole, tended to the depreciation
of the historical sense, in comparison with the spiritual teaching
which it conveyed[326]. In a different line, Chrysostom, of the
literal school of interpreters, explains quite in the tone of a modern
apologist, how the discrepancies in detail between the different
Gospels, assure us of the independence of the witnesses, and do not
touch the facts of importance, in which all agree.

The Church is not tied then by any existing definitions. We cannot
make any exact claim upon any one's belief in regard to inspiration,
simply because we have no authoritative definition to bring to bear
upon him. Those of us who believe most in the inspiration of the
Church, will see a Divine Providence in this absence of dogma, because
we shall perceive that only now is the state of knowledge such as
admits of the question being legitimately raised.

Nor does it seem that the use which our Lord made of the Old Testament
is an argument against the proposed concessions. Our Lord, in His use
of the Old Testament, does indeed endorse with the utmost emphasis the
Jewish view of their own history. He does thus imply, on the one hand,
the real inspiration of their canon in its completeness, and, on the
other hand, that He Himself was the goal of that inspired leading and
the standard of that inspiration. 'Your father Abraham rejoiced to see
My day:' 'I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.' This, and it is
the important matter for all that concerns our spiritual education, is
not in dispute. What is questioned is that our Lord's words foreclose
certain critical positions as to the character of Old Testament
literature. For example, does His use of Jonah's resurrection, as a
_type_ of His own, depend in any real degree upon whether it is
historical fact or allegory[327]? It is of the essence of a type to
_suggest_ an idea, as of the antitype to _realize_ it. The narrative
of Jonah suggested certainly the idea of resurrection after three
days, of triumph over death, and by suggesting this gave our Lord what
His discourse required. Once more, our Lord uses the time before the
flood[328] to illustrate the carelessness of men before His own
coming. He is using the flood here as a typical judgment, as elsewhere
He uses other contemporary visitations for a like purpose. In
referring to the flood He certainly suggests that He is treating it as
typical, for He introduces circumstances--'eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage'--which have no counterpart in the
original narrative. Nothing in His use of it depends on its being more
than a typical instance. Once more, He argues with the Pharisees on
the assumption of the Davidic authorship of Psalm cx[329]. But it must
be noticed that He is asking a question rather than making a
statement--a question, moreover, which does not admit of being turned
into a statement without suggesting the conclusion, of which
rationalistic critics have not hesitated to avail themselves, that
David's Lord could not be David's son. There are, we notice, other
occasions when our Lord asked questions which cannot be made the basis
of positive propositions[330]. It was in fact part of His method to
lead men to examine their own principles without at the time
suggesting any positive conclusion at all.

It may also fairly be represented, on a review of our Lord's teaching
as a whole, that if He had intended to convey instruction to us on
critical and literary questions, He would have made His purpose
plainer. It is contrary to His whole method to reveal His Godhead by
any anticipations of natural knowledge. The Incarnation was a
self-emptying of God to reveal Himself under conditions of human
nature and from the human point of view. We are able to draw a
distinction between what He revealed and what He used. He revealed
God, His mind, His character, His claim, within certain limits His
Threefold Being: He revealed man, his sinfulness, his need, his
capacity: He revealed His purpose of redemption, and founded His
Church as a home in which man was to be through all the ages
reconciled to God in knowledge and love. All this He revealed, but
through, and under conditions of, a true human nature. Thus He _used_
human nature, its relation to God, its conditions of experience, its
growth in knowledge, its limitation of knowledge[331]. He feels as we
men ought to feel: he sees as we ought to see. We can thus distinguish
more or less between the Divine truth which He reveals, and the human
nature which He uses. Now when He speaks of the 'sun rising' He is
using ordinary human knowledge. He willed so to restrain the beams of
Deity as to observe the limits of the science of His age, and He puts
Himself in the same relation to its historical knowledge. Thus He does
not reveal His eternity by statements as to what had happened in the
past, or was to happen in the future, outside the ken of existing
history[332]. He made His Godhead gradually manifest by His attitude
towards men and things about Him, by His moral and spiritual claims,
by His expressed relation to His Father, not by any miraculous
exemptions of Himself from the conditions of natural knowledge in its
own proper province. Thus the utterances of Christ about the Old
Testament do not seem to be nearly definite or clear enough to allow
of our supposing that in this case He is departing from the general
method of the Incarnation, by bringing to bear the unveiled
omniscience of the Godhead, to anticipate or foreclose a development
of natural knowledge.

But if we thus plead that theology may leave the field open for free
discussion of these questions which Biblical criticism has recently
been raising, we shall probably be bidden to 'remember Tübingen,' and
not be over-trustful of a criticism which at least exhibits in some of
its most prominent representatives a great deal of arbitrariness, of
love of 'new views' for their own sake, and a great lack of that
reverence and spiritual insight which is at least as much needed for
understanding the books of the Bible, as accurate knowledge and fair
investigation. To this the present writer would be disposed to reply
that, if the Christian Church has been enabled to defeat the critical
attack, so far as it threatened destruction to the historical basis of
the New Testament, it has not been by foreclosing the question with an
appeal to dogma, but by facing in fair and frank discussion the
problems raised. A similar treatment of Old Testament problems will
enable us to distinguish between what is reasonable and reverent, and
what is high-handed and irreligious in contemporary criticism whether
German, French, or English. Even in regard to what makes _prima facie_
a reasonable claim, we do not prejudice the decision by declaring the
field open: in all probability there will always remain more than one
school of legitimate opinion on the subject: indeed the purpose of the
latter part of this essay has not been to inquire how much we can
without irrationality believe inspiration to involve; but rather, how
much may legitimately and without real loss be conceded. For, without
doubt, if consistently with entire loyalty to our Lord and His Church,
we can regard as open the questions specified above, we are removing
great obstacles from the path to belief of many who certainly wish to
believe, and do not exhibit any undue scepticism. Nor does there
appear to be any real danger that the criticism of the Old Testament
will ultimately diminish our reverence for it. In the case of the New
Testament certainly we are justified in feeling that modern
investigation has resulted in immensely augmenting our understanding
of the different books, and has distinctly fortified and enriched our
sense of their inspiration. Why then should we hesitate to believe
that the similar investigation of the Old Testament will in its result
similarly enrich our sense that 'God in divers portions and divers
manners spake of old times unto the fathers,' and that the Inspiration
of Holy Scriptures will always be recognised as the most conspicuous
of the modes in which the Holy Spirit has mercifully wrought for the
illumination and encouragement of our race?

'For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our
learning, that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might
have hope.'

[248] Cyprian, _ad Donatum_ 3. Trans. in _Library of the Fathers_,
iii. p. 3.

[249] Athanasius, _de Incarnatione_, 31, 48-52.

[250] See S. Basil's fine definition of the term in his treatise _on
the Holy Spirit_, ix. 22. This treatise has been translated by the
Rev. G. Lewis for the 'Religious Tract Society.'

[251] See Basil, as above, xvi. 37: 'We must not suppose because the
Apostle (1 Cor. xii. 4) mentions the Spirit first, and the Son second,
and God the Father third, that the order at the present day has been
quite reversed. For he made his beginning from our end of the
relation: for it is by receiving the gifts, that we come in contact
with the Distributor; then we come to consider the Sender; then we
carry back our thought to the Fount and Cause of the good things.' Cf.
xviii. 47: 'The way of the knowledge of God is from one Spirit, by the
one Son, to the one Father: and reversely, the natural goodness of
God, His holiness of nature, His royal rank taking their rise from the
Father, reach the Spirit though the Only-begotten.'

[252] Ambrose, _de Spiritu Sancto_, i. 15, 172.

[253] So Irenaeus, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Basil, Didymus,
Victorinus, express the relation of the Divine Persons in Creation.

[254] Ps. xxxiii. 6; Gen. i. 2; Ps. civ. 29, 30.

[255] Huet. _Origeniana, L._ ii. _Qu._ 2. c. xxvii. Cf. Athan. _Epp.
ad Serapion_. i. 23-31; iv. 9-12.

[256] Gen. ii. 7.

[257] Athan. _de Incarn._ xliii. 3.

[258] Athan. _l.c._ xii. 5, xliii. 4.

[259] Iren. _c. Haer._ iii. 17, 1.

[260] S. Mark i. 10, 12. S. Luke iv. 1, 18; x. 21. S. Matt. xii. 28.
Heb. ix. 14. Rom. viii. 11. (These two last passages at least imply
the action of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrifice and Resurrection of

[261] Heb. v. 7-10. Phil. ii. 8.

[262] 1 Cor. xv. 45, 'The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.'
S. John vi. 63, 'Spirit and Life.'

[263] Iren. iii. 18, 1, and frequently elsewhere.

[264] Iren. iii. 24, 1. Cf. H. C. G. Moule's _Veni Creator_, pp.

[265] S. John iii. 4. The intention of this passage is to express not
that the Spirit is lawless in His operations, but that He is beyond
our control.

[266] Aug. _de Spiritu et Littera_, xxvii. 47, 'Grace is not the
negation of nature, but its restoration.'

[267] Raymund of Sabunde, _Theol. Nat._ tit. 303.

[268] Basil, _de Spiritu Sancto_ ix. 23 (Lewis' translation). Cf.
Newman's _Univ. Sermons_, 'Personal Influence the means of propagating
the truth.'

[269] Cyril, _Catech._ xvi. 12. The attention to the differences of
individual character is very noticeable in S. Basil's monastic rule:
see the _Regulae fusius tractatae_, resp. 19, and the _Constit.
Monast._ 4. Also in the writings of Gregory of Nazianzus, Chrysostom,
and Gregory the Great _on the Pastoral Office_.

[270] 1 Cor. ii. 15. 1 S. John ii. 20-27.

[271] Clement Alex. _Strom._ v. 13. 88.

[272] _Republic_, 401 D, 402 A.

[273] Caird's _Hegel_ (Blackwood's Philosophical Classics), p. 72.

[274] Anselm, _Proslog._ 4; he adds, 'So that even if I were unwilling
to _believe_ that Thou art, I could not cease to understand it.' But
the whole relation of authority and reason is most completely grasped
and stated by S. Augustine: see Cunningham, _S. Austin_ (Cambridge
Univ. Press, 1886), pp. 9, 157 ff.

[275] Dr. Salmon, _Infallibility_, p. 115, has a clever comparison of
the authority of the Church to that of the town clock. The value we
assign to having such an authoritative standard of the right time does
not prevent our recognising the importance of having it regulated.
'And if we desired to remove an error which had accumulated during a
long season of neglect, it would be very unfair to represent us as
wishing to silence the clock, or else as wishing to allow every
townsman to get up and push the hands backwards and forwards as he

[276] But cf. pp. 196-8, 229-232, 258-260.

[277] Manning, _Temporal Mission of the Holy Ghost_, third edit. pp.
9, 29, 238-240.

[278] See, for instance, _c. Haer._ v. 10, 2. 'The wild olive does not
change its substance [when it is grafted in, see Rom. xi. 17], but
only the quality of its fruit, and takes a new name, no longer being
called an oleaster but an olive; so also man when he is by faith
grafted in, and receives the Spirit of God, does not lose his fleshly
substance, but changes the quality of the works which are his fruits,
and takes another name indicating his improved condition, and is no
longer described as flesh and blood, but as a spiritual man.' So also
v. 6, 1, 'whom the apostle calls "spiritual" because they have the
Spirit, not because they have been robbed of the flesh and become bare
spirit.' It is the recognition of this principle that makes most of
the language of the Fathers on fasting so healthy and sensible. The
end of fasting is not to destroy the flesh, but to free the spirit.

[279] See especially Mozley's _Lectures on the Old Testament_, x.:
'The end the test of progressive revelation.'

[280] Greg. Naz. _Orat._ xxxi. 25. Many of the greatest of the ancient
Christian writers depreciate the sacrificial law as a mere concession,
made to avoid worse things, when the incident of the calf shewed that
the first legislation of the Ten Commandments was too spiritual: so
Jerome _in Isai._ 1, 12, _In Jer._ vii. 21. Cf. Justin, _Trypho_ 19.
Chrys. _adv. Jud._ iv. 6. Epiphan. _Haer._ lxvi. 71. _Constt. ap._
i. 6; vi. 20. This method of interpretation is perhaps derived from
the Epistle of Barnabas, 2-4.

[281] Chrys. _in Matth. Homil._ xvii. 5-6 (slightly abbreviated). Cf.
_Libell. Faustin. et Marcellin._ in _Bibl. Vet. Patrum._ tom. v. 657

[282] _On the Holy Spirit_, xiv. 33 (Lewis' trans.).

[283] Aug. _de Trin._ i. 10, 21. This principle alone gives a basis
for the doctrine of 'imputation' so far as it is true. God deals with
us, e.g. in absolution, by anticipation of what is to come about in
us, in Christ.

[284] Thom. Aq. _Summa Theol._ pars sec. sec. Qu. 1. Art. ix.

[285] The above paragraph is a summary of expressions constantly met
with in the Fathers. It is S. Ambrose who protests against the idea
that the priest can be spoken of as having power over the Divine
Things which he ministers, see _De Spiritu Sancto_, praef. 18, lib. i.
11, 118: 'nostra sunt servitia sed tua sacramenta. Neque enim humanae
opis est divina conferre.' S. Augustine, among others, draws the
distinction between gifts from the Spirit and the gift of Himself.
_Ep._ cxciv.: 'aliter adiuvat nondum inhabitans, aliter inhabitans:
nam nondum inhabitans adiuvat ut sint fideles, inhabitans adiuvat iam
fideles.' Didymus, _de Spiritu Sancto_ 15, calls attention to the
distinction in the New Testament between πνεῦμα (without the article)
i.e. 'a spiritual gift,' and τὸ πνεῦμα, i.e. the Spirit Himself: cf.
Westcott on S. John vii. 39.

[286] Greg. Naz. _Orat._ xxxi. 8.

[287] See Athan. _Epp. ad Serapion._ i. 17. Cyril Hieros. _Cat._
xvi. 24. Iren. v. 13, 2. Basil, _de Spiritu Sancto_, iii. 5.

[288] The _Dict. of Chr. Biog._, Art. HOLY GHOST (by Dr. Swete), has
an admirable summary of the theology of the subject.

[289] See Godet on S. John xv. 26, 27.

[290] Athan. _Epp. ad Serap._ i. 19. S. John xiv. 16, 18, 23.

[291] Plato's human trinity is made up of reason, spirit [θυμός], and
desire: S. Augustine's of memory (i.e. personal identity), reason, and
will; or mind, knowledge, and love. Nothing has been said in the text
of Patristic and more recent attempts to express the function of the
Holy Spirit in the inner relations of the Trinity. Some of the Fathers
speak of the Holy Spirit as completing the circle of the Divine Life,
or as 'the return of God upon Himself,' 'the bond of the Father and
the Son.' This eternal function would interpret His temporal mission
to bring all creatures back into union with God. Not very differently
S. Augustine speaks of Him as the Love of the Father and the Son:
'Vides Trinitatem si caritatem vides. Ecce tria sunt; amans et quod
amatur et amor.' And this Love is itself personal and coordinate:
'commune aliquid est Patris et Filii; at ipsa communio consubstantialis
et coaeterna.' But in such speculation they allow themselves with much
reserve and expression of unwillingness.

In fact it is easy to see that an eternally living God, knowing and
loving, must be a God Whose Being involves eternal relationships.
Knowledge involves a relation of subject and object: to make love
possible there must be a lover and a loved. It is more difficult to
see how a perfect relationship must be threefold; but there are true
lines of thought which lead up to this, such, for instance, as make us
see first in the family, the type of complete life. Love which is only
a relation of two, is selfish or unsatisfied: it demands an object and
a product of mutual love. See especially Richard of S. Victor, _de
Trin._ Pars i. lib. iii. cc. 14, 15: 'Communio amoris non potest esse
omnino minus quam in tribus personis. Nihil autem (ut dictum est)
gloriosius, nihil magnificentius, quam quicquid habes utile et dulce
_in commune deducere_: ... hujusmodi dulcedinis delicias solus non
possidet qui in exhibita sibi dilectione socium _et condilectum_ non
habet; quamdiu _condilectum_ non habet, praecipui gaudii communione
caret.' See also Sartorius, _Doctrine of Divine Love_ (Clark's Foreign
Theol. Libr.), p. 16.

[292] _Microcosmus_, B. ix. C. iv. (E. T. vol. ii. p. 660.)

[293] See especially Gal. i. 8, 9.

[294] Heb. ii. 3.

[295] See further on the fatal results of separating the Spirit's work
in Scripture, from His work in the Church, Coleridge, _Remains_
iii. 93, iv. 118; or quoted by Hare, _Mission of the Comforter_, Note
H. vol. ii. pp. 468, 474.

[296] This distinction was drawn by Bishop Clifford, _Fortnightly
Review_, Jan. 1887, p. 145.

[297] Cf. the quotation in Eusebius, _H. E._ v. 28.

[298] Athan. _de Incarn._ 12. Cf. Ewald's preface to his _History of

[299] See Gratry, _Henri Perreyve_, pp. 162, 163.

[300] Delitzsch, _O.T. History of Redemption_, p. 106. Cf. Prof.
Robertson Smith, _Prophets of Israel_, p. 108.

[301] See Epiphan. _Haer._ xlviii. 4. Westcott, _Introd. to the Study
of the Gospels_, App. B, sect. ii. 4, sect. iv. 4. Mason, _Faith of
the Gospel_, p. 255.

[302] See Professor Driver's admirable article on 'the cosmogony of
Genesis.' _Expositor_, Jan. 1886.

[303] Professor Cheyne, speaking of such narratives of Scriptures as
the record of Elijah, protests against the supposition that they are
'true to fact.' 'True to fact! Who goes to the artist for hard dry
facts? Why even the historians of antiquity thought it no part of
their duty to give the mere prose of life. How much less can the
unconscious artists of the imaginative East have described their
heroes with relentless photographic accuracy!' (_The Hallowing of
Criticism_, p. 5.) But it seems to me that such a passage, by treating
the recorders of the Old Testament as 'artists,' ignores their obvious
intention to lay stress on what God has actually done, the
deliverances He has actually wrought. They, at least, like the Greek
historical 'artist' of the defeat of Persia, would have laid great
stress on the facts having happened.

[304] Church, _Discipline of the Christian Character_, p. 57. This
work seems to me the best existing answer to the question, in what
does the inspiration of the Old Testament consist.

[305] Cf. pp. 161-167. In view of criticisms it may be explained that
in the account of the prophet given above only that view of his
inspiration is taken into consideration which appeals first to the
enquirer (cf. the words in the next paragraph 'in this general sense
at least'). When once this primary assurance of inspiration is gained
the evidence of detailed prophecies will be found cogent. As we
compare the anticipations of the Messiah or of the 'Righteous Servant'
in such passages as Ps. xxii., Is. liii., vii. 14, or ix. 6, 7, with
their fulfilment in Jesus Christ, we recognise a special action of the
Holy Ghost, marking even in details the continuity of His method. Cf.
p. 167 referred to above.

[306] See for instance Micah v. 2-6. On the subject of the limitations
of prophetic foresight, as on the whole subject of prophecy, let me
refer to Dr. Ed. Riehm, _Messianic Prophecy_ (Clark's trans.) pp. 79,
86 ff., 114, 157-162.

[307] Acts i. 8. S. John xiv. 25, 26; xvi. 12, 13.

[308] S. John xix. 35; xxi. 24. 1 S. John i. 1-3.

[309] See Prof. Sanday's _What the first Christians thought about
Christ_. (Oxford House Papers: Rivington.)

[310] 2 Tim. iii. 16.

[311] Mr. Horton's book on _Inspiration and the Bible_ is almost
naively lacking in this quality of impartial regard to inspired books.

[312] Prof. Robertson Smith, _Prophets of Israel_, p. 6.

[313] Cf. Prof. Robertson Smith, _The Old Testament in the Jewish
Church_, Lect. vii. p. 207: 'Another point in which criticism removes
a serious difficulty is the interpretation of the imprecatory psalms.'

[314] See _Nineteenth Century_, Feb. 1884, p. 189.

[315] 'When from time to time,' says S. Bernard to his monks,
'anything that was hidden or obscure in the Scriptures has come out
into the light to any one of you, at once the voice of exultation and
thankfulness for the nourishment of spiritual food that has been
received, must rise as from a banquet to delight the ears of God.'

[316] See the Annual Address (1889) delivered at the Victoria
Institute by Prof. Sayce, on the cuneiform tablets of Tel el-amarna,
pp. 4, 14 f.: 'We learn that in the fifteenth century before our
era--a century before the Exodus--active literary intercourse was
going on throughout the civilized world of Western Asia, between
Babylonia and Egypt and the smaller states of Palestine.... This
intercourse was carried on by means of the Babylonian language and the
complicated Babylonian script. How educated the old world was, we are
but just beginning to learn. But we have already learnt enough to
discover how important a bearing it has on the criticism of the Old

[317] See Driver, _Crit. notes on Sunday-School lessons_ (Scribner:
New York).

[318] Ex. xx. xxii-xxiii. xxxiii.

[319] The Books of Kings seem to be compiled from the point of view of
the Deuteronomist.

[320] Origen, _c. Cels._ vii. 4.

[321] E.g. chs. vii. ix. The Roman Church admits that it is, to use
Newman's phrase, 'a prosopopeia'; 'our Bibles say, "it is written in
the person of Solomon" and "it is uncertain who was the writer,"' l.c.
p. 197. It is important to bear in mind that the Western Church in
general has, since S. Augustine's day, admitted into the canon a book
the literary method of which is thus confessedly dramatic. Newman
makes this the ground for saying that the same may be true of

[322] On the evidence of O.T. miracles I may refer to Mr. Samuel Cox's
Essay: _Miracles, an Argument and a Challenge_. (Kegan Paul, 1884.)

[323] Of course the distinction must be maintained in the case of the
book of Daniel between a 'pious fraud' which cannot be inspired, and
an idealizing personification which, as a normal type of literature,
can. Further study will probably solve the special difficulty which on
the critical hypothesis attaches to the book of Daniel from this point
of view: see Stanton, _Jewish and Christian Messiah_, p. 109, note 1.

[324] This is certainly true of the Church as a whole. For the most
that can be said in the same sense of the Roman Church, see Newman in
the article above cited.

[325] _De Principiis_, iv. 15, 16, 17. His point is that incidents
which could not have occurred in fact, or at least did not occur, are
inserted in the narrative of the Old and New Testaments, that their
very historical impossibility or improbability may drive us to the
consideration of their spiritual significance. 'The attentive reader
may notice ... innumerable other passages, like these, so that he will
be convinced that in the histories that are literally recorded,
circumstances are inserted that did not occur.' Cf. Bigg, _Christian
Platonists_, pp. 137-8.

[326] Cf. Jerome, _ad Nepotian. ep._ lii. 2.

[327] S. Matt. xii. 40.

[328] S. Matt. xxiv. 37-39.

[329] S. Matt. xxii. 41-46.

[330] See especially S. Mark x. 17-18 (and parallel passages), where
our Lord's question, if converted into a positive proposition,
suggests a repudiation of personal goodness. Cf. also the question in
S. John x. 34-36 where, though the argument is _a fortiori_, still the
true character of our Lord's sonship is hardly suggested.

[331] This limitation of knowledge must not be confused with
fallibility or liability to human delusion, because it was doubtless
guarded by the Divine purpose which led Jesus Christ to take it upon

[332] Of course He gave prophetic indications of the coming judgment,
but on the analogy of inspired prophecy. He did not reveal 'times and
seasons,' and declared that it was not within the scope of His mission
to do so. See esp. S. Mark xiii. 32. He exhibits supernatural insight
into men's characters and lives. But He never exhibits the omniscience
of bare Godhead in the realm of natural knowledge; such as would be
required to anticipate the results of modern science or criticism.
This 'self-emptying' of God in the Incarnation is, we must always
remember, no failure of power, but a continuous act of Self-sacrifice:
cf. 2 Cor. viii. 9 and Phil. ii. 7. Indeed God 'declares His almighty
power most chiefly' in this condescension, whereby He 'beggared
Himself' of Divine prerogatives, to put Himself in our place.




Christianity claims to be at once a life, a truth, and a worship; and,
on all these accounts, it needs must find expression in a church. For,
in the first place, the life of an individual remains dwarfed and
stunted as long as it is lived in isolation; it is in its origin the
outcome of other lives; it is at every moment of its existence
dependent upon others; it reaches perfection only when it arrives at a
conscious sense of its own deficiencies and limitations, and,
therefore, of its dependence, and through such a sense realizes with
thankfulness its true relation to the rest of life around it. Again,
the knowledge of truth comes to the individual first through the
mediation of others, of his parents and teachers; as he grows, and his
own intellect works more freely, yet its results only gain
consistency, security, width, when tested by the results of other
workers; and directly we wish to propagate these results, they must be
embodied in the lives of others, in societies, in organizations.
Without these, ideas remain in the air, abstract, intangible,
appealing perhaps to the philosophic few, but high above the reach of
the many, the simple. 'All human society is the receptacle, nursery,
and dwelling-place of ideas, shaped and limited according to the
nature of the society--ideas which live and act on it and in it; which
are preserved, passed on, and transmitted from one portion of it to
another, from one generation to another; which would be merely
abstractions or individual opinions if they were not endowed with the
common life which their reception in a society gives them[333].'

These two principles are, obviously, not confined to religious
questions. They apply to morality, to society, to politics. They are
assumed in all ethical and political treatises. The need of
co-operation for common life underlies the whole structure of the
Republic of Plato; it is implied in Aristotle's definition of man as a
social animal, and in his close association of Ethics with Politics:
it has created the family, the tribe, the state; each fresh assertion
of the principle, each breaking down of the barriers which separate
family from family, tribe from tribe, nation from nation, has been a
step forward in civilization. The strength of co-operation for the
propagation of ideas is seen in the persistence with which certain
nations retain hold on political theories or peculiar features of
character; it is seen in the recurring formation of philosophic
schools or religious sects or guilds, as soon as any new truth,
intellectual or religious, has been discovered, or any moral quality,
such as temperance or purity, has needed to be emphasized. The most
individualistic of Christian sects have found themselves forced to be
ecclesiastical, to define their creeds and to perfect their
organization, as soon as they have begun to be missionary.

These principles are as wide as society; but religion takes them up
and applies them on the highest level. Religion is, almost
universally, the link which binds man to man, no less than that which
binds man to a Power above him. So in the Christian Church--if we may
anticipate, for a moment, our special application of the
principle--the new-born child is taken at once and incorporated into a
body of believers; from the first it draws its life from God through
the body; it is taught that throughout life it must keep in touch with
the body; it must be in a right relation to the other members; it must
draw life from them; it must contribute life to them. And, further,
this body has existed always and exists still as the home of certain
_ideas_, ideas about God and about human life, which were revealed in
Jesus Christ, and which it has to attest in its teaching and embody in
its life. It is to be a body of visible persons, themselves the light
of the world, expressing so that others can see the manifold wisdom of
God, winning others to belief in the unity of God, by the sight of
their own one-ness. The first principle might be expressed in the
words of Festus to Paracelsus, when the latter had claimed to be God's
special instrument in the world;

                  Were I elect like you,
  I would encircle me with love, and raise
  A rampart of my fellows: it should seem
  Impossible for me to fail, so watched
  By gentle friends who made their cause my own
  They should ward off fate's envy:--the great gift,
  Extravagant when claimed by me alone,
  Being so a gift to them as well as me[334]:

the second principle by lines applied originally to the Incarnation,
but which we may legitimately transfer to the Church, which continues
the work of the Incarnation,

  And so the Word had breath, and wrought
    With human hands the Creed of Creeds
    In loveliness of perfect deeds,
  Store strong than all poetic thought[335].

But, further, religion adds a third application of its own to this
principle of co-operation: for a church grows also out of the
necessities of worship. The ritual needed for the offering of
sacrifice almost necessitates of itself a number of persons for its
performance. No doubt, an individual can worship God in private, but
so his worship tends to be self-centred and narrow: for the full
expression of his religious relation to others, for expiating a wrong
done by him to his neighbours or to the whole community, for
expressing gratitude for mercies which have come to him through
others, there must be the common meeting: and the community as a whole
has its great victories for which to thank God, its national dangers
for which to pray, its national sins for which to offer expiation; and
hence, common religious acts have been the universal accompaniment of
national life, and have in their turn reacted upon it.

The idea of a Church, then, as conceived in its most general form, and
without especial reference to the Christian Church, is this, that it
widens life by deepening the sense of brotherhood; that it teaches,
strengthens, and propagates ideas by enshrining truth in living
witnesses, by checking the results of isolated thinkers by contact
with other thinkers, and by securing permanency for the ideas; and
that it expands and deepens worship by eliminating all that is selfish
and narrow, and giving expression to common aims and feelings.

We pass from such _à priori_ ideas to the evidence of the Bible. There
we find that these principles were embodied first in Judaism. There
the whole nation was the Church. The Jew entered into the religious
privileges of his life, not by any conscious act of his own, but by
being born of Jewish parents; he retained his true life by remaining
in contact with his nation. The union of the different members of the
nation with each other is so intimate that the whole nation is spoken
of as a personal unit. It is called 'God's Son, His 'first-born Son,'
'Jehovah's servant.' The ideal of prophecy is essentially that of a
restored nation rejoicing in the rule of national righteousness.
Again, the nation was chosen out specially to bear witness to truth,
truth about the nature of God, the Almighty, the Eternal, the Holy;
truth embodied in the facts of history, and deepened in the
revelations of prophecy; truths which the fathers teach their
children, 'that they should not hide them from the children of the
generations to come[336].' In the striking phrase of S. Athanasius,
the law and the prophets were 'a sacred school of the knowledge of God
and of spiritual life for the whole world[337].' Their worship, too,
was essentially social and national. From the first it centred round
great national events, the fortunes of the harvest, or the crises of
national history: the individual was purified from sin that he might
be worthy to take part in the national service; the events of the
nation's history were celebrated in religious hymns; the capital of
the nation became the one and only recognised centre for the highest

But Judaism adds to these principles a further principle of its own.
It claims that such privileges as were granted to it, were not granted
to it for its own sake, but that it might be a source of blessing to
all nations: it assumes that they are on a lower religious level than
itself; that instead of each nation progressing equally along the line
of religious life, truth, and worship, other nations have fallen
backward and the Jew has been chosen out for a special privilege. It
is the principle that God works by 'limitation,' by apparent
'exclusiveness,' by that which is in its essence 'sacerdotalism'; the
principle that God does not give His gifts equally to all, but
specially to a few, that they may use them for the good of the whole.
This principle seems at first sight to offend some modern abstract
ideas of justice and equality; but the moment we examine the facts of
life, we find it prevailing universally. Each nation has its peculiar
gift: the Greek makes his parallel claim to be specially gifted with
the love of knowledge and the power of artistic expression; the Roman
with the power of rule and the belief in law. Or, again, within a
single nation, it is the artist who enables us to see the beauty of a
face or a landscape which had escaped us before:

        Art was given for that,
  God uses us to help each other so,
  Lending our minds out.

It is the poet who interprets our inner nature or the magic of the
external world, and becomes

        A priest to us all
  Of the wonder and bloom of the world,
  Which we see with his eyes and are glad:

he sings

        Till the world is wrought
  To sympathy with hopes and fears _it heeded not_[338].

And this principle does not stop short of religious influences
Conscience is itself a witness to it, as it implies that all parts of
our nature are not sufficient guides to themselves, but that God has
gifted one special faculty with power to control the rest. 'Men of
character,' it has been said, 'are the conscience of the society to
which they belong.' In the Jewish nation itself, the prophets were the
circle of Jehovah's friends; they knew His secrets, they kept alive
the ideal of the nation. 'What the soul is in the body, that are
Christians in the world' was the parallel claim of an early
apologist[339]. Analogies crowd in, then, on every side, to shew how
rational is this claim on the part of Judaism.

Revelation only accepts this fact, and adds to it the assertion that
it is no accident but a part of the Divine Purpose. It is the result
of God's election. The Jewish nation, and subsequently the Christian
Church, is not only a blessing to the rest of the world, but it is
conscious that it is a blessing. This truth has been revealed to it
partly to keep it ever mindful of its sense of dependence upon the
Giver of all good gifts, partly to give it tenacity and courage to
cling to a gift which it knows to be of inestimable value for all
mankind. 'The election was simply a method of procedure adopted by God
in His wisdom by which He designed to fit the few for blessing the
many, one for blessing all[340].'

It must be from considerations such as these that we approach the
foundation of the Christian Church and the Incarnation of our Lord
Jesus Christ on which it rests. We approach it with the expectation
that we shall find these principles embodied in it, for Christianity
sprang directly out of Judaism, and so would naturally inherit its
principles: and to go deeper still, the very essence of the
Incarnation lies in the consecration of human life and human means. He
who before had been acting invisibly upon the world as the Word,
implanting life and light in man, now entered visibly into human
flesh. All tendencies which made for the fulness of life and truth
before His coming, all that tended to enlighten, elevate, combine men,
had been His unknown working: now they are known to be His. The
Infinite appears in finite form; the spiritual takes the material in
which to express itself; human media are consecrated to deeper ends,
and charged with a fuller meaning than before: so that, in Hooker's
words, 'We cannot now conceive how God should, without man, exercise
Divine power or receive the glory of Divine praise[341].' 'What you do
now even after the flesh, that is spiritual' is the bold paradox of
S. Ignatius; and he adds the reason, 'for you do all in Christ
Jesus[342].' Thus--

  In this twofold sphere, the twofold man
  Holds firmly to the natural, to reach
  The spiritual beyond it....
  The whole temporal show related royally
  And built up to eterne significance
  Through the open arms of God[343].

The Incarnation, then, takes up all the three principles of which we
have spoken: but, from the very finality which it claims for itself,
it puts a mark of finality upon each of them, and so, in this respect,
marks off the application of them in the Christian Church from all
other applications of the same principles. The principle of
co-operation for spiritual life is taken up; the Jewish nation is
expanded into an universal brotherhood; this includes all men, without
any distinction of race; it includes the quick and the dead; it aims
at the highest spiritual perfection. It is final in this sense, that
nothing can be wider in extent or deeper in aim; but it is final also
in the sense that the life _has been_ manifested. Christians do not
combine to work up to some unsuspected ideal: they combine to draw out
and express in their common life the perfection that was in Christ.
The principle of association for the propagation of ideas is taken up,
but they are truths about God and His relation to human nature: they
are truths which have been revealed, which have been once for all
delivered to the saints. Finally, the principle of association for
worship is taken up; the worship is made as wide as humanity; it is to
be as spiritual as God; but it, too, rests on final facts, on the
facts of creation and redemption: it centres round the one complete
sacrifice for sin.

Let us consider each of these points more in detail.

1. The Church is an organization for the purpose of spiritual life; an
universal brotherhood knit together to build up each of its members
into holiness; 'the only great school of virtue existing.' But if this
is so, if it is universal, is the principle of 'limitation,' of
'exclusiveness,' gone? Certainly not. It is there, and it is most
instructive to notice how it arises[344]. Christ chose a small body of
disciples to be in close contact with Himself, to share His work, and
to receive His deeper teaching. This will not surprise us after the
analogies of the prophets, the poets, the artists of the world. The
saints too may be few, and God may lend their spirits out for the good
of others. But, moreover, in the first formation of the Church we are
able to watch the process of limitation, as historically worked out;
and we see that it arises not from any narrowness, any grudging of His
blessings, on the part of Christ, but from the narrowness, the
limitations in man. Man is 'straitened' not in God, not in Christ, but
in his own affections. God willed all men to be saved: Christ went
about doing good and calling all to a change of heart, to a share in
the kingdom of Heaven: but such a call made demands upon His hearers;
it required that they should give up old prejudices about the
Messianic kingdom, that they should be willing to leave father and
mother and houses and lands for the truth's sake, that they should lay
aside all the things that defile a man, that they should aim at being
perfect, that they should not only hear but understand the word, that
they should trust Him even when His sayings were hard. And these
demands produced the limitations. The Pharisees preferred the glory of
men to the glory which came from God; the masses in Galilee cared only
for the bread that perisheth; many of the disciples turned back; and
so He could not commit Himself unto them, because He knew what was in
man. Not to them, not to any chance person, but to the Twelve, to
those who had stood these tests, to those who had, in spite of all
perplexity, seen in Him the Son of the Living God, to them He could
commit Himself, they could share His secrets; they could be taught
clearly the certainty and the meaning of His coming death, for they
had begun to learn what self-sacrifice meant; they could do His work
and organize His Church; they could bind and loose in His Name; they
could represent Him when He was gone. These are the elect; they who
had the will to listen to the call[345]; they who were 'magnanimous to
correspond with heaven'; to them He gave at Pentecost the full
conscious gift of the Holy Spirit, and so at last formed them into the
Church, the Church which was to continue His work, which was to convey
His grace, which was to go into the whole world, holding this life as
a treasure for the sake of the whole world, praying and giving thanks
for all men, because the unity of God and the unity of the mediation
of Christ inspires them with hope that all may be one in Him[346].

The day of Pentecost was thus the birthday of the Church. Before there
were followers of the Lord; now there was the Church: and this as the
result of a new act, for which all that preceded had been but
preparation: now the Church was born in becoming the possessor of a
common corporate life. The Spirit was given to the whole body of
Christians together: it was not given to an individual here and there
in such a way that such Spirit-bearing individuals could then come
together and form a Church. It was given corporately, so that they who
received the Spirit realized at once a unity which preceded any
individual action of their own. So the Church has gone forth offering
its message freely to all; in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor
Gentile; the message is given openly, 'without any veil,' to all; all
are accepted who will submit themselves to Baptism, i.e. all who
recognise the element of evil and of weakness in their own life, who
are willing to die to it and receive fresh life and strength from the
Risen Lord, and to submit their life to His discipline. That is the
Church as presented to us in the New Testament. Metaphor after
metaphor is lavished upon it by our Lord and by S. Paul in order to
make clear the conception of it. He is the Vine, His disciples are the
branches; they draw all their life from Him: apart from Him they can
do nothing; if in union with Him, they bear fruit. The Church is a
household, a scene of active work, of 'skilled and trained activity':
each member with his own work, some as mere members of the household,
others as rulers set over the household to give them meat in due
season, each with talents to be used faithfully for the Master. It is
a family, in which 'all ye are brethren,' laying obligations of love
between brother and brother, calling out self-sacrifice for the good
of others, deepening in each the sense of the value of the lives of
others. It is the Body of Christ, that which grows stronger and
stronger, that which draws its life from the Head and must hold to
Him, that in which Christian is linked to Christian in sympathy and
complete interdependence, that without which the Head would be
incomplete, the necessary organ for completing Christ's work on earth,
that which the Spirit takes as its channel for manifesting to the
world the very 'life of God.' It is God's Temple; visible, made up of
parts, which are fitted in to one another in symmetry; beautiful with
a spiritual beauty; for there a living God is present; there He speaks
to His own; there they offer to Him a rational service[347]. It is the
Bride of Christ, the dearest object of Christ's love, which gives
herself to Him for His service, which for His sake keeps herself pure
in life and doctrine; which receives from Him all the treasures of His
love, so that as He had received the fulness of God, 'the aggregate of
the Divine attributes, virtues, and energies' from the Father, the
Church receives all this from Him and manifests it forth to the world
of men and of angels.

But this picture, it will be urged, is only a prophecy of the future;
the evidence of S. Paul's Epistles will also shew us a very different
scene in real life, a body with tendencies to divisions, to
selfishness, to sin. This is quite true, but the ideal is never
thought of as something different from the real; the ideal is not
simply in heaven nor the real simply on earth; the real is the ideal,
though not yet completely developed; the ideal is the actual basis of
the real as much as the goal to which the real is tending. The members
of the Church have been consecrated; they are holy; they are
'unleavened'; they have put on Christ; they have by their
self-committal to Him received a righteousness which they can work out
into perfection. Again, they _are_ brothers; they have been made
children of God by adoption: as they have realized the sense of
sonship, they realize also the closeness of the tie between themselves
and the other sons, their common sympathies, hopes and aims. True,
they are not yet perfect either in holiness or in love: the very
purpose of the Church is to make them perfect. It takes the individual
at his birth, it incorporates him into its own life, it watches over
him from beginning to end, it feeds him with spiritual food, it
disciplines him by spiritual laws, it blesses him at all the chief
moments of life, it takes him away from his own isolation, trains him
in social aims and social duties by social sacraments, finally, gives
him back to God with its benediction.

Such a conception of the Church as a nursery, a school, a home,
implies of necessity that it should be visible, and that it should be
one. It is a visible body, because it has in some sense to represent
the Incarnate Lord. In the Incarnation spirit took material form and
expressed itself thereby; in the risen Lord--and it is the risen Lord
who gives the Spirit to the Church--there was still a spiritual body.
This is not to deny the invisible reality of spiritual unity which
underlies the external visible unity. It is only to say that
completeness means both. In the language of S. Ignatius, as Christ
Jesus was at once material and spiritual, so, the unity of the Church
should be at once material and spiritual[348].

The idea of an invisible Church to express the body of true believers,
who alone are the Church, to whatever community they belong, so that
the visible Church becomes an unimportant thing, is an idea entirely
at variance with Scripture and all pre-reformation teaching. The
phrase is first found in almost contemporary writings of Luther and of
Zwingli; it is akin to the teaching of Hus and of Wiclif; and, no
doubt, there are thoughts and phrases in earlier writers that are more
or less akin to it. From the first there was obviously a distinction
between the true and untrue Christian, between the spiritual and the
fleshly, between the vessels to honour and the vessels to dishonour,
and the first of these classes, those who persevere to the end, whom
man cannot know and God only knows, those who, if thought of in the
light of God's eternal purposes, are the predestined, these were
treated and spoken of as 'the Church properly so called,' 'the true
body of Christ.' Christians 'who do the will of the Father will belong
to the first Church, the spiritual Church founded before the sun and
moon.' Those who have lived in perfect righteousness according to the
Gospel 'will rest in the holy hill of God, in the highest Church, in
which are gathered the philosophers of God[349].'

Again, the Church on earth is regarded as 'a copy of the Church in
heaven in which God's will is done': but in each case there is no
contrast between the visible and the invisible Church. The invisible
Church is in these cases either the ideal of the visible; or that part
of the visible organized Church which has remained true to its aims.
So too with regard to those who are not conscious believers; the
possibility of their salvation, in a qualified way, is heartily
recognised, but the confusion is not made of calling them members of
the Church.

The fatal danger is when the belief in the invisible Church is used to
discredit the visible Church and the importance of belonging to it. It
is scarcely too much to say, that all stress laid upon the invisible
Church tends to lower the demands of holiness and brotherhood. It is a
visible Church, and such a Church as can attract outsiders, which
calls out the fruits of faith into active energy; it is a visible
Church such as can combine Christians in active work, which tests
brotherhood, which rubs away idiosyncrasy, which destroys vanity and
jealousy, which restrains personal ambition, which trains in the power
of common work, which, as our own powers fail, or are proved
inadequate, for some task on which our heart had been set, still fills
us with hope that God will work through others that which it is clear
He will not work through us. It is a visible Church alone which is
'the home of the lonely.' Encompassed as we are now from our birth by
Christian friends and associations, we tend to forget how much we
depend on the spiritual help and sympathy of others. The greatness of
our blessings blinds us to their presence, and we seem to stand in our
own strength while we are leaning upon others. The relation of the
soul to God is a tender thing; personal religion, which seems so
strong, while in a Christian atmosphere, tends to grow weak, to
totter, to fall, as we stand alone in some distant country, amid low
moral standards and heathen faiths. Such solitude does indeed often,
in those who are strong, deepen, in a marvellous way, the invisible
communion with God and the ties that knit us with the absent; but the
result is often fatal to the weak. It throws both strong and weak
alike into closer sympathy with those who share a common faith. It is
a visible Church which supplies this sympathy, which gives the
assurance that each soul, as it is drawn to God, shall not stand
alone; but that it shall find around it strengthening hands and
sympathetic hearts, which shall train it till, as in the quiet
confidence of a home, it shall blossom into the full Christian life.

The principle of the unity of the Church is very similar. That, again,
is primarily and essentially a spiritual unity. The ultimate source
is, according to the Lord's own teaching, the unity of the Godhead:
'that they may be one, even as we are one.' The effect of the
outpouring of the Spirit is to make the multitude of them that
believed 'of one heart and one soul.' Baptism becomes the source of
unity, 'In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body:' the 'one
bread' becomes the security of union. 'We who are many are one bread,
one body, for we all partake of the one bread.' More fully still is
the unity drawn out in the Epistle to the Ephesians. 'There is one
body and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of our calling,
one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.' The
unity starts with being spiritual; it is the power of the One God
drawing men together by His action upon their spirits; uniting them in
the service of one Lord who has redeemed them, but it issues in 'one
body.' Nothing can be stronger than the assertion of such unity. But
in what does this unity lie, and what is to be the safeguard of it? No
one answer is possible to this question. Clearly, one part of the
answer is, a unity of spiritual aim, 'one hope of your calling:'
another answer is, a common basis of belief, common trust in the same
Lord, 'one faith;' a further answer is, common social sacraments, 'one
baptism,' 'one bread.' All these lie on the face of these passages of
S. Paul. Are we to add to them 'a common government,' 'an apostolical
succession?' Was this of the essence or a late addition, a result of
subsequent confederation intended to guarantee the permanence of
dogma? No doubt, the circumstances of subsequent history moulded the
exact form of the ministry, and emphasized the importance of external
organization under particular circumstances; but this is no less true
of the other points of unity; the unity of spiritual life was worked
out in one way in the times of public discipline and penance, in
another way when these fell into disuse: the unity of faith was
brought into prominence in the times of the formulating of the Creeds.
So the unity of external organization was emphasized when it was
threatened by the Gnostic, Novatian, and Donatist controversies. But
the germ of it is there from the first, and it was no later addition.
The spiritual unity derived from the Lord is imparted through
Sacraments; but this at once links the inward life and spiritual unity
with some form of external organization. And so the writer of the
Epistle to the Ephesians after his great description of Christian
unity, goes on at once to speak of the ministry. The apostles,
prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, these are special gifts of
the ascended Lord to the Church; and they are given for the very
purpose of securing unity, 'for the perfecting of the saints unto the
work of ministering, unto the building up of the body of Christ, till
we all attain unto the unity of the faith.' No less significantly,
when S. Paul is applying to the Church the metaphor of the body and
its members in order to emphasize the unity of the whole, does he rank
apostles, prophets, teachers, as the most important members of the

The history of the early Church, so far as it can be traced, points
the same way. The Lord appointed His body of twelve: He gave them the
power to bind and to loose, the power to exercise discipline over
offending members of the Church. At first, the Christian Church is a
purely Jewish body; it continues in the Apostles' fellowship as well
as doctrine; they distribute its alms; they punish unworthy members;
they arrange its differences; they appoint subordinate officers; they
ratify their actions, and sanction the admission of Samaritans and
proselytes to the Church; but the various members throughout Judea,
Galilee, and Samaria, are embraced in the single conception of one
Church[351]. Then under the guidance of Paul and Barnabas, the
Gentiles are brought in and formed into churches; the danger to unity
becomes acute. According to the Acts of the Apostles, it is surmounted
by reference to the Church at Jerusalem; the Apostles and Elders there
decide the question, and the Gentile Churches are thus kept in
communion with it. S. Paul's letters, with all the difficulty there is
of reconciling every detail with the historian's account, present us
with essentially the same picture. In dealing with his own Churches,
he claims absolute right, as apostle, to hand on and lay down
traditions, to punish, to forgive, to govern: he leaves some class of
ministers in every Church under his guidance; each Church is to
administer discipline over unworthy members. But the Churches cannot
act independently: the Church at Corinth is not to act as though it
were the fountain head of Christianity, or the only Gentile Church; it
is to remember the customs in other Churches. Further than this, above
'all the Churches,' appears already as one body 'the Church,' in which
God has set apostles[352]; within it there are separate spheres of
work, Paul and Barnabas are to go to the Gentiles, the leading Jewish
apostles to the Jews; S. Paul will not intrude beyond the province
assigned to him; he makes his Gentile Churches to contribute to the
needs of the Jewish Church, and realize the debt which they owe to
them. Any divisions in a local Church cannot be tolerated, as being
inconsistent with the unity of Christ, with His cross, and with the
significance of baptism. Peter stands condemned when he wishes to
separate himself and so causes division between Jew and Gentile.

The importance attached to external organization is surely implied in
all of this, and the circumstances of the second century forced out
into clearness what was so implied. Gnosticism, Montanism, Novatianism
all tended to found new bodies, which claimed to be the true Church.
How was the individual Christian to test their claims? It was in the
face of this question that Church writers, notably S. Cyprian and
S. Irenaeus, emphasized the importance of historical continuity in the
Church as secured by the apostolical succession of the episcopate. The
unity of the Church came primarily, they urged, from God, from heaven,
from the Father; it was secured by the foundation of the Church upon
the Apostles; the bishops have succeeded to the Apostles and so become
the guardians of the unity of the Church. As soon then as we find the
Christian episcopate universally organized, we find it treated as an
institution received from the Apostles and as carrying with it the
principle of historic continuity. So it has remained ever since, side
by side with the other safeguards of unity, the sacraments and the
common faith. The Roman Church has added to it what seemed a further
safeguard of unity, the test of communion with itself; but this was a
later claim, a claim which was persistently resented, and which was
urged with disastrous results. The Reformed Churches of the Continent,
in their protest against that additional test, have rejected the whole
principle of historic continuity; they have remained satisfied with
the bond of a common faith and of common sacraments: but the result
can scarcely be said to be as yet a securer unity. Even an Unitarian
historian recognises heartily that the characteristic of the Church in
England is this continuity. 'There is no point,' urges Mr. Beard[353],
'at which it can be said, here the old Church ends, here the new
begins.... The retention of the Episcopate by the English Reformers at
once helped to preserve this continuity and marked it in the
distinctest way.... It is an obvious historical fact that Parker was
the successor of Augustine, just as clearly as Lanfranc and Becket.'

This, then, is what the Church claims to be as the home of grace, the
channel of spiritual life. It claims to be a body of living persons
who have given themselves up to the call of Christ to carry on His
work in the world; a body which was organized by Himself thus far that
the Apostles were put in sole authority over it; a body which received
the Spirit to dwell within it at Pentecost; a body which propagated
itself by spiritual birth; a body in which the ministerial power was
handed on by the Apostles to their successors, which has remained so
organized till the present day, and has moved on through the world,
sometimes allied with, sometimes in separation from the State, always
independent of it; a body which lays on each of its members the duty
of holiness, and the obligation of love, and trains them in both.

But two objections arise here, which must be dealt with shortly. It is
urged first, this is an unworthy limitation: we ought to love all men;
to treat all men as brothers; why limit this love, this feeling of
brotherhood to the baptized, to the Church? True, we ought to love and
honour all men, to do good to all men. The love of the Christian, like
the love of Christ, knows no limits; but the limitations are in man
himself. All human nature is not lovable: all men are not love-worthy.
Love must, at least, mean a different thing; it must weaken its
connotation if applied to all men; there may be pity, there may be
faith, there may be a prophetic anticipating love for the sinner and
the criminal, as we recall their origin and forecast the possibilities
of their future; but love in the highest sense, love that delights in
and admires its object, love that is sure of a response, the sense of
brotherhood which knows that it can trust a brother--these are not
possible with the wanton, the selfish, the hypocrite. Though man has
social instincts which draw him into co-operation with others; he has
also tendencies to selfishness and impurity which work against the
spirit of brotherhood and make it impossible. Not till we have some
security that the man's real self is on the side of unselfishness, can
we trust him; and baptism with its gifts of grace, baptism with its
death to the selfish nature, baptism with its profession of allegiance
to the leadership of Christ, this, at least, gives us some security.
Even Comte, with his longing for brotherhood, tells us that in forming
our conception of humanity we must not take in all men, but those only
who are really assimilable, in virtue of a real co-operation towards
the common existence, and Mr. Cotter Morison would eliminate and
suppress those who have no altruistic affection. We limit, then, only
so far as seems necessary to gain reality; we train men in the
narrower circle of brotherhood, that they may become enthusiasts for
it, and go forth as missionaries to raise others to their own level.
As for those who lie outside Christianity, the Church, like our Lord
Himself in the parable of the sheep and the goats, like S. Paul in his
anticipation of the judgment day, recognises all the good there is in
them; like Justin Martyr and many of the early Fathers, it traces in
them the work of the Divine Word; and yet none the less did these
writers claim and does the Church still claim for itself the conscious
gift of spiritual life, in a sense higher than anything that lies
outside itself.

But many, who would follow thus far, would draw another line, and
would include within the Church all the baptized, whether professing
churchmen or not. Once more, so far as we draw any distinction within
the limits of the baptized, it is for the sake of reality. We
recognise that every atom of their faith is genuine, that so far as
they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, they are true members of
the Church; that so far as they have banded themselves together into a
society, they have something akin to the reality of the Church, and
gain some of its social blessings. But then it is they who have banded
themselves together into a society: and that means they have done it
at their own risk. We rest upon the validity of our sacraments,
because they were founded by the Lord Himself, because they have His
special promises, because they have been handed down in regular and
valid channels to us. Have they equal security that their sacraments
are valid? Again, we must hold that schism means something of evil:
that it causes weakness: that it thus prevents the full work of
brotherhood, of knitting Christian with Christian in common worship:
that so it prevents the complete witness of the Church in the world;
that in so far as such Christians are schismatic, they are untrue and
harmful members of the Church. The full complete claim of the Church
is that it is a body visibly meeting together in a common life, and
forming by historical continuity a part of the actual body founded by
our Lord Himself. It would be unreal to apply this conception of a
complete historic brotherhood to those who have separated themselves
from the Church's worship, and whose boast is that they were founded
by Wesley, or Luther, or Calvin. A Church so founded is not
historically founded by Christ. It may have been founded to carry on
the work of Christ, it may have been founded in imitation of Him, and
with the sincerest loyalty to His person, but it cannot be said to
have been founded by Him. Even if circumstances have justified it, it
is at any rate not the ideal; and whatever confessions the historic
Church may have to make of its own shortcomings, it still must witness
to the ideal of a visible unity and historical continuity. Amid the
divisions of Christendom, and in face of her own shortcomings, the
Church of England does not claim to be the full complete
representation of the Church of Christ. She is only one national
expression of the Catholic Church: she feels that 'it is safer for us
to widen the pale of the kingdom of God, than to deny the fruits of
the Spirit[354];' she has ever on her lips the prayer, 'Remember not,
Lord, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers, neither take
vengeance of our sins,' and yet she must make her claim boldly and
fearlessly to have retained the true ideal of the Church; to be loyal
to the essential principle that her life comes historically from
Christ and not from man.

II. But the Church is the school of truth as well as the school of
virtue. Its ministers form a priesthood of truth as well as a
priesthood of sacrifice. Its priests' lips have 'to keep knowledge.'
Christianity is, as the School of Alexandria loved to represent it, a
Divine philosophy, and the Church its school.

This conception of the Church starts from our Lord's own words. His
Apostles are to be as scribes instructed unto the kingdom of Heaven;
they are to have the scribes' power to decide what is and what is not
binding in the kingdom; the Spirit is to lead them into all truth;
they are to make disciples of all the nations, 'teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.' The function of the
Church then with regard to truth is primarily to bear witness to that
which has been revealed. It does not primarily reveal, it tells of the
truths which have been embodied in the historic life of Jesus Christ
or explained in His teaching. 'One is its teacher; One is its master,
even the Christ.' It holds a 'faith once delivered to the saints.'
Hence, from the first, there grew up some quasi-authoritative formula,
in which we can see the germ of the later Creeds, which each Christian
Missionary would teach to his converts. S. Paul himself received from
others and handed on to the Corinthians, as his first message to them,
some such half-stereotyped Creed, narrating the central facts of the
Death and Resurrection of the Lord; his teaching was as a mould which
shaped the lives of the converts as they were poured, like so much
molten metal, into it. It was authoritative, not even an angel from
heaven could preach another gospel. As time went on and false teaching
spread, this side of the Church's work is emphasized more and more.
The Church is to be the pillar and ground-work of the truth. Timothy
and Titus are to hold fast the deposit, to prevent false teaching, to
secure wholesomeness of doctrine no less than sobriety of life.

The contests of the next centuries bring out this idea of witness into
clearer prominence, and the Episcopate, as it had been the guarantee
of unity, becomes now the guarantee of truth. Thus, S. Ignatius is
face to face with Docetic and Gnostic teaching; with him the bishops
are 'in the mind of Jesus Christ;' they are to be treated 'as the
Lord;' to avoid heresy, it is necessary to avoid 'separation from the
God of Jesus Christ, from the Bishop and the ordinances of the
Apostles;' the one bishop is ranked with the one Eucharist, the one
flesh of Jesus Christ, the one cup, the one altar, as the source of
unity; submission to the Bishop and the Presbyters is a means towards
holiness, towards spiritual strength and spiritual joy[355]. These are
incidental expressions in letters written at a moment of spiritual
excitement: but the same appeal reappears in calmer controversial
treatises. S. Irenaeus argues against Gnosticism on exactly the same
grounds. Truth is essentially a thing _received_; it was received by
the Apostles from Christ. He was the truth Himself; He revealed it to
His Apostles; they embodied it in their writings and handed it on to
the Bishops and Presbyters who succeeded them; hence the test of truth
is to be sought in Holy Scripture and in the teaching of those
Churches which were founded directly by the Apostles[356]. With equal
strength Tertullian urges that the truth was received by the churches
from the Apostles, by the Apostles from Christ, by Christ from God; it
is therefore independent of individuals; it must be sought for in Holy
Scripture, but as the canon of that is not fixed, and its
interpretation is at times doubtful, it must be supplemented by the
evidence of the apostolic Churches; and he challenges the heretics to
produce the origin of their churches and shew that the series of
bishops runs back to some Apostle or apostolic man[357].

The Church is thus primarily a witness: the strength of its authority
lies in the many sides from which the witness comes; but the
exigencies of controversy, and indeed of thought even apart from
controversy, rendered necessary another function in respect to truth.
The Church was compelled to formulate, to express its witness in
relation to the intellectual difficulties of the time. Christianity is
indeed essentially a matter not of the intellect, but of the will, a
personal relation of trust in a personal God. Its first instinct is,
as the first instinct of friendship would be, to resent intellectual
analysis and dogmatic definition. But as the need of telling others
about a friend, or defending him against slander, would compel us to
analyse his qualities and define his attractiveness; so it was with
the Church's relation to the Lord. It bore witness to the impression
which His life had made upon His followers that He was Divine; it bore
witness to the facts of the life that attested it and to His own
statements. But the claim was denied; it needed justifying; it needed
to be shewn to be consistent with other truths, such as the unity of
God, and the reality of His own human nature, and so definition was
forced upon the Church. The germ of such definitions is found in the
New Testament; the deeper Christological teaching of the Epistles to
the Ephesians and to the Colossians, and of the prologue of S. John
are instances of such intellectual analysis and formulation, and were
evidently written in the face of controversy. The technical decisions
of the great councils of the fourth and fifth centuries and their
expression in the Nicene and 'Athanasian' Creeds are the outcome of
the same tendency. Yet even in them, the Church acts, in a sense, as a
witness; the Scriptures are appealed to as the ultimate authority; the
Creed is the summary of its chief doctrines: the one aim is to secure
and express the truth witnessed to by churches throughout the world,
to eliminate novelty and caprice; the new definitions are accepted,
because they alone are felt to express the instinct of the Church's
worship. By this time the canon of Holy Scripture was fixed. It
becomes thenceforth an undying fountain of life from which the water
of pure doctrine can be drawn. Tradition and development can always be
checked by that.

In the truths then which the Church teaches we may distinguish two
classes. First, there are the central truths to which it bears
absolute witness; such as the Fatherhood of God, the Person and work
of Jesus Christ, the Redemption of all mankind, the origin and purpose
of human life. These it teaches authoritatively. Its conduct is
exactly analogous to that of a parent teaching the moral law to his
children; teaching the commandments authoritatively at first, till the
child can be educated to understand the reason of them. So the Church
says to her children, or to those who are seeking after truth 'there
is an absolute truth in religion as well as in morality: we have
tested it; generations of the saints have found it true. It is a truth
independent of individual teachers; independent of the shifting moods
of opinion at any particular period; and you must accept it on our
authority first. Further, these are truths which affect life,
therefore they cannot be apprehended merely by the intellect. You must
commit yourself to them; act upon them; there is a time when the
seeker after truth sees where it lies; then it must cease to be an
open question. "You must seek till you find, but when you have once
found truth, you must commit yourself to it[358]." You must believe
that you may understand; but it is _that_ you may understand.' The
dogma is authoritatively taught, that the individual may be kept safe
from mere individual caprice and fancifulness, but also that he
himself may come to a rational understanding of his belief. No doubt
the truth is so wide that to the end of our lives we shall still feel
the need of guidance and of teaching. 'As long as we live,' said
Calvin, 'our weakness will not allow us to be discharged from school.'
Like S. Ignatius on his way to martyrdom, the Christian may feel at
his dying day, 'Now I begin to be a disciple;' but the aim of the
Church is to make each member have a rational hold upon his faith.
When we are young we accept a doctrine because the Church teaches it
to us; when we are grown up, we love the Church because it taught us
the doctrine. 'The Churchman never surrenders his individual
responsibility. But he may and must surrender some portion at least of
his independence, and he benefits greatly by the surrender[359].'
'Submission to the authority of the Church is the merging of our mere
individualism in the whole historic life of the great Christian
brotherhood; it is making ourselves at one with the one religion in
its most permanent and least merely local form. It is surrendering our
individuality only to empty it of its narrowness[360].'

Secondly, there are other truths, which are rather deductions from
these central points or statements of them in accordance with the
needs of the age; such as the mode of the relation of the Divine and
human natures in Christ, of free-will to predestination, or the method
of the Atonement, or the nature of the Inspiration of Holy Scripture.
If, in any case, a point of this kind has consciously come before the
whole Church and been reasoned out and been decided upon, such a
decision raises it into the higher class of truths, which are taught
authoritatively; but if this is not so, the matter remains an open
question. It remains a question for the theologians; it is not imposed
on individual Christians; though it may at any time become ripe for
decision. The very fixity of the great central doctrines allows the
Church to give a remarkable freedom to individual opinion on all other
points. Practically, how much wider is the summary of the rule of
faith as given in Irenaeus (III. 4), or Tertullian (_Praescr._ 13), or
Origen (_De Principiis_), or in the Apostles' or Nicene Creed, than
the tests of orthodoxy that would be imposed in a modern religious, or
scientific circle! S. Vincent of Lerins is the great champion of
antiquity as the test of truth; yet he who lays it down that 'to
declare any new truth to Catholic Christians over and above that which
they have received never was allowed, nowhere is allowed, and never
will be allowed,' also insists on the duty of development, of growth,
within the true lines of the central truths. 'Is there,' he assumes an
objector to urge, 'to be no growth within the Church? Nay, let there
be growth to the greatest extent; who would be so grudging to man,
such an enemy to God, as to attempt to prevent it; but yet let it be
such that it be growth, not change of the faith.... As time goes on,
it is right that the old truths should be elaborated, polished, filed
down; it is wrong that they should be changed, maimed or mutilated.
They should be made clear, have light thrown on them, be marked off
from each other; but they must not lose their fulness, their entirety,
their essential character[361]. So it has happened in the course of
the Christian history; doctrines like that of the Atonement have been
restated afresh to meet the needs of the age. So it is happening
still; doctrines like that of the method of creation or of the limits
of inspiration are still before the Church. The Church is slow to
decide, to formulate: it stands aside, it reiterates its central
truths, it says that whatever claims to be discovered must ultimately
fit in with the central truths; creation must remain God's work; the
Bible must remain God's revelation of Himself; but for a time it is
content to wait, loyal to fact from whatever side it comes; confident
alike in the many-sidedness and in the unity of truth. While he
accepts and while he searches, the Churchman can enjoy alike the
inquiry of truth which is the love-making or wooing of it, the
knowledge of truth which is the presence of it, and the belief of
truth which is the enjoying of it, and all these together, says Lord
Bacon, are the sovereign good of human nature[362].

Thus far we have in this part considered the Church's function with
regard to truth from the point of view of those whom it has to teach.
Its function is no less important from the point of view of the truth
itself. As spiritual life is a tender plant that needs care and
training; so spiritual truth is a precious gem, that may easily be
lost and therefore needs careful guarding. 'The gem requires a casket,
the casket a keeper.' Truth is indeed great and will prevail, but not
apart from the action of men: not unless there are those who believe
in it, take pains about it and propagate it. This is the case even
with scientific truths; _à fortiori_ therefore, with moral and
religious truths which affect life and need to be translated into life
before they can be really understood. The comparative study of
religions is shewing us more and more how much of deep spiritual truth
there is in heathen religions, but it is shewing us equally how little
power this truth had to hold its own, how it was overlaid, crushed
out, stifled. The truth of the unity of God underlies much of the
polytheism of India, Greece, and Rome; but it is only the philosopher
and the scholar that can find it there. It is only in the Jewish
Church, the nation which stood alone from other nations as a witness
to the truth, that it retained its hold as a permanent force. The
Fatherhood of God is implied in the very names and titles of most of
the chief heathen gods; but what a difference in its meaning and force
since the time of Jesus Christ! It is not only that He expanded and
deepened its meaning, so that it implied the fatherhood of all men
alike, and a communication of a spiritual nature to all; it is also,
and much more, that He committed the truth as a sacred deposit to a
Church, each member of which aimed at shewing himself as the son of a
perfect Father, and which witnessed to the universal Fatherhood by the
fact of an universal brotherhood.

The very truths of natural religion, which heathenism tended to
degrade, found a safe home within the Church; the knowledge of the
Creator, His eternal power and Godhead, which the nations had known
but lost, because they glorified Him not as God, neither were
thankful, has been kept alive in the Eucharistic services of the
Church, repeating through the ages its praise of the Creator: 'We
praise Thee, we bless Thee, we worship Thee, we give thanks to Thee,
for Thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly King, God the Father

III. We pass naturally to the third point: the Church is the home of
worship. It is the Temple of the Lord. As a teaching body, it had
carried on and spiritualized the work of the Jewish Synagogue: it also
took up and spiritualized the conceptions of prayer and praise and
sacrifice which clustered round the Jewish Temple. The Body of Christ
was to take the place of the Temple when the Jews destroyed it[363].
And here, as in all other respects, the body is the organ and
representative of the risen Lord. He, when on earth, had been a priest
in the deepest sense of the word: He, as the representative of the
Father, had mediated the Father's blessings to man: He, as one with
man, had become a merciful and faithful high-priest for man; He had
offered His whole life to God for the service of man; He had by the
offering of His pure will made purification of sins: He lives still, a
priest for ever, pleading, interceding for mankind.

And so the Church, His body, carries on this priestly work on earth.
'Sacerdotalism, priestliness, is the prime element of her being[364].'
She is the source of blessing to mankind; she pleads and intercedes
and gives herself for all mankind. Christians, as a body, are 'a royal
priesthood.' Christ made them 'priests unto His God and Father,' they
can 'enter in into the holy place,' like priests, 'with hearts
sprinkled from an evil conscience and bodies washed with pure water.'
They are 'the genuine high-priestly race of God:' 'every righteous man
ranks as a priest:' 'to the whole Church is a priesthood given[365].'
This priesthood is exercised throughout life, as each Christian gives
his life to God's service, and the whole Church devotes itself for the
good of the whole world. But it finds its expression in worship, for
worship is the Godward aspect of life. It expresses, it emphasizes, it
helps to make permanent the feelings that mould life. It is the
recognition that our life comes from God: that it has been redeemed by
God; it is the quiet joyous resting upon the facts of His love; it is
the conscious spiritual offering of our life to God; it is the
adoration of His majesty. This worship the Church leads and organizes.
'In the Church and in Christ Jesus' is to be given 'the glory to God
unto all generations for ever and ever.' In the Apocalypse, it is
pictured as praising God alike for His work in Creation and in
Redemption. In the Eucharist the Church shews forth the Lord's Death
till He come[366]. Hence this act of Eucharistic worship, above all
others, has become the centre of unity. In it the Church has offered
its best to God: all the more external gifts of art, such as
architecture, painting, and music, have been consecrated in worship:
but deeper still, in it each Christian has taken up his own life, his
body and soul, and offered it as a holy, lively, and reasonable
sacrifice unto God, a service in spirit and in truth: and deeper
still, he recognises that his life does not stand alone; through the
common ties of humanity in Christ he is linked on by a strange
solidarity with all mankind; his life depends on theirs and theirs on
his, and so he offers it not for himself only but for all; in the
power of Christ he intercedes for all mankind: and deeper still, he
feels in the presence of the Holiness of God how unworthy his own
offering and his own prayers are, and he pleads, he recalls before the
Father, as the source of his own hope and his own power of
self-sacrifice, the one complete offering made for all mankind.

So the Church performs its universal priesthood[367]; so it leads a
worship, bright, joyous, amidst all the trials and perplexities of the
world, for it tells of suffering vanquished; simple in its essence, so
that poor as well as rich can rally round it; yet deep and profound in
its mysteries, so that the most intellectual cannot fathom it. It is
an universal priesthood, for it needs the consecration of every life:
and yet this function too of the Church naturally has its organs,
whose task it is to make its offerings and to stand before it as the
types of self-consecration. The Church has from the first special
persons who perform its liturgy, its public ministering to the
Lord[368]. It is in connection with worship, and the meetings of the
Church that S. Paul emphasizes the need of unity and subordination,
and dwells upon God's special setting of Apostles, Prophets and
Teachers in the Church[369]. The Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians
may be open to difficult questions of interpretation in its language
about the ministry, but this at least is clear that order and
subordination are treated as the necessary outcome of love, which is
of the essence of the Church; that this order and subordination is
specially needed in all details of worship; that it had been so in
Judaism, and must be so, _à fortiori_, in the Christian Church; that
as Christ came from God, so the Apostles from Christ, and their
successors from them; and therefore it must be wrong to throw off
subordination to those who were so appointed and who have blamelessly
offered the gifts[370]. 'The Church,' said S. Augustine, 'from the
time of the Apostles, through most undoubted succession of the
bishops, perseveres till the present moment, and offers to God in the
Body of Christ the sacrifice of praise[371].' As the teaching function
of the whole Church does not militate against the special order of
teachers, so the priestly function of the whole does not militate
against a special order of priests. We cannot speak of those who are
ordained as 'going into the Church'--and it is hard to estimate the
harm done by that fatal phrase--for that implies that the laity are
not of the Church, but we can call them priests in a special sense;
for they give themselves up in a deeper way to the service of God;
they are specially trained and purified for His service; they are put
as representatives of the whole Church in a way in which no other is,
able to know and to sympathize with its wants, its joys, its failings;
able therefore to intercede for it with God and to bring His blessings
to it. As the Church stands in relation to the world, so they stand to
the Church; they fill up that which is lacking of the afflictions of
Christ in their flesh for His body's sake which is the Church, whereof
they are made ministers; they convey spiritual gifts and benediction
to the Church.

To complete the conception of the Church, it would be necessary to add
the thought of the Church expectant and triumphant, the presence of
the blessed dead. For they too strengthen and complete each aspect of
the Church's work. The great cloud of witnesses, the heroes of faith,
who watch their brethren on earth, they, by their example, aid the
spiritual life and strengthen us to lay aside every weight and the sin
that doth so easily beset us: their virtues reflect parts of the
manifold glory of the Son of Man. With their heirs _noblesse oblige_;
each Christian born of such ancestry is able to be like the Athenian
Lycurgus, independent of the world, bold and outspoken, because of his
noble birth[372]. The record of their writings strengthens the witness
to the faith once delivered to the saints, and binds us to loyalty to
that which has stood the test of ages. They, 'the general assembly and
church of the firstborn enrolled in heaven,' themselves, we believe,
worship God with a purer worship than ours; the thought of their
presence in worship, as we join with angels and archangels and all the
company of heaven, lifts our hearts to a wider, more spiritual

But for our present purpose it is with the Church militant we have to
deal: the Church on earth, the visible organ of the risen Lord, the
organ of redemption, of revelation, of worship; the chief instrument
designed by the Lord for the establishment of the kingdom of Heaven
upon earth. That is our ideal of it. But what of the reality? of the
historical facts? Has not the Church crushed out individual life and
freedom? has it not thrown its shield over laxity? has it not
repressed zeal and so driven piety into nonconformity? has it not
tried to check scientific truth and condemned a Galileo? has it not
made worship a matter of form and reduced it to externalism? So its
opponents ask, and its defenders admit that there is much of truth in
these charges. They admit that it has looked very different from its
ideal. 'It has looked like an obscure and unpopular sect; it has
looked like a wonderful human institution vying with the greatest in
age and power; it has looked like a great usurpation; it has looked
like an overgrown and worn-out system; it has been obscured by the
outward accidents of splendour or disaster; it has been enriched, it
has been plundered; at one time throned above emperors, at another
under the heel of the vilest; it has been dishonoured by the crimes of
its governors, by truckling to the world, by the idolatry of power, by
greed and selfishness, by their unbelief in their own mission, by the
deep stain of profligacy, by the deep stain of blood[373].' The Church
has, indeed, many confessions to make, of its failure to be true to
its ideal. But there are several considerations which must be borne in
mind when we pass judgment upon it.

In the first place, it was committed to human hands, 'the treasure is
in earthen vessels;' and while it gains thus in reality, in human
sympathy, in touching the facts of everyday life, it is exposed to all
the risks of imperfection, mistake, perversion. But further, as
S. Augustine said, we still can say, 'Non adhuc regnat hoc regnum.'
The Church has never had free play; it has never been in a position to
carry out its ideal. At first, a persecuted sect, it had not the
power; then, when it became established and gained the power, there
burst into it an influx of half-Christianized converts who lowered its
moral level or misunderstood its doctrines; then, with the break up of
the Roman Empire, it had to tame and civilize the new races of Europe;
and finally, the divisions of the Reformation have weakened its
witness in the world. But, more important still, the very greatness of
the ideal has caused the difficulty of its realization, and has
exposed itself to caricature and to one-sidedness. The richer, the
more many-sided, the more complete an ideal is, the less possible is
it for any one generation to express it completely, the more likely is
it that one side of truth will be pressed to the exclusion of some, if
not of all the rest.

This may be tested in each of the points which we have considered. The
Church is an organization for spiritual life, for holiness. It makes
the bold claim to be the society of saints; but at once there arises
the conflict between the ideal and the actual state of men. Press the
ideal, and you will narrow the Church to those who are externally
leading good lives or who are conscious of conversion to Christ. This
was the line taken by the Novatians, by the Donatists, by the
Puritans, by the Baptists, and the Church was thereby narrowed. On the
other hand, dwell only on the actual state, the weakness, the failures
of human nature, and you acquiesce in a low level of morality. The
Church aims at being true to both; it will not exclude any from its
embrace who are willing to submit to its laws; it takes children and
trains them; it takes the imperfect and disciplines them; it rejects
none, save such as rejoice in their iniquity and deliberately refuse
to submit to discipline.

But again, this suggests another class of difficulties, all those
which are associated with the relation of the individual to the
society, difficulties which are parallel to the difficulties in
politics, which are not yet solved there, and which are always needing
readjustment. Here again it is possible to overpress either side: the
claims of the society may be urged to the detriment of the individual,
the central organization may crush out national life and give no scope
for individual development, and so there arises the imperial
absolutism of the mediaeval Church. On the other hand, it is equally
possible to exaggerate the claims of individualism, of independence,
of freedom, and the result is division and disaster to the whole
society; the individual is only anxious to save his own soul, and
religion is claimed to be only a thing between a man and his God;
common Church life becomes impossible, and the witness of the Church
to the world, and thereby its power for missionary work, becomes
weakened. As before, the Church ideal strives to combine both sides of
the truth. It values, it insists on, the rights of each individual
soul; its mission is to convey the Spirit to it, that is to say, to
waken it up to a consciousness of its own individual relation to God,
its own personal responsibility in God's sight; it does bid each
individual save his own soul. But it keeps also before him the claims
of the society; it says to him that in saving his soul he must lose it
in service for others; when his soul is saved, it must be used for
active service with others in joint work. It does say that the society
is more important for the world than any one individual member of it,
and that each individual gets real strength when he speaks and acts
not for himself but as representing the society behind him. It is
possible to think of the Church as an organization existing for the
spiritual good of the individual; but it is possible also, and it is a
deeper view, to think of the individual as existing for the good of
the Church, like a singer training himself not to display his own
voice but to strengthen the general effect of the whole choir. That is
the ideal of the Church, a body which quickens the individual into
full conscious life, that the individual may devote his life to the
service of the whole. Its life is like that of a great moving flight
of birds, each with its own life, yet swaying and rising and turning
as by a common impulse,

  Their jubilant activity evolves
  Hundreds of curves and circlets, to and fro,
  Upwards and downwards; progress intricate
  Yet unperplexed, as if one spirit swayed
  Their indefatigable flight[374].

The Church, again, is the teacher of truth; but in the acquisition of
truth there are always two elements. There are the fixed facts of
life, with which theory deals, and the accumulation of past thought
upon the facts; there is also the creative spirit which plays upon
these, which re-adapts, combines, discovers. The teacher of any
science has to convey to his pupil the accumulated theories of the
past and to quicken in him fresh power of thinking: he speaks first
with authority, though of course with assurance that his authority is
rational, and that the pupil will understand it ultimately. The
teacher of morality, the parent, teaches even more strongly with
authority, though he too trusts that the child will ultimately accept
the law on rational grounds. The pupil needs at once a receptive and a
critical faculty. The absence or exaggeration of either is equally
fatal. Here again the Church ideal tries to combine both sides and to
insist upon the real unity of all truth, and this makes its task so
difficult. At times the whole stress has been laid on the permanent
elements in the faith, and the result has been, as often in the
Oriental Church, a tendency to intellectual stagnation: at other times
the present speaking voice of the Church has been emphasized, and any
theory has been hastily adopted as absolutely true, without due
consideration of its relation to other truths. At times authority has
been over-emphasized, and the acceptance of dogma has seemed to be
made the equivalent of a living trust in a personal God: at others the
duty of individual search after truth, of individual conviction has
been pressed; the traditions of the past have been ignored; nothing
has been of value except that which has commended itself to the
individual reason, and the result has been confusion, uncertainty, the
denial of the greatness and the mystery and the width of truth, and
too often a moral and spiritual paralysis. Meanwhile the Church has
tried to hold to both sides: it has insisted on the ultimate unity of
all knowledge: starting from the axiom that One is our teacher, even
Christ, and believing that all truth comes from His inspiration as the
Word of God, it has refused to acquiesce in intellectual
contradiction; it has ever held, with King Lear, 'that "ay" and "no"
too is no good divinity.' The truths of philosophy and religion must
be one: the truths of science and religion must be one[375]. In the
desire to see this, the Church has been hasty, it has rejected
scientific truth, because it did not fall in with its interpretation
of the Bible. It has made its mistakes, but it has done so out of a
noble principle. It would be easy to gain consistency by sacrificing
either side; it is hard to combine the two: and this is what the
Church has tried to do: it has upheld the belief of the ultimate
synthesis of all knowledge. In exactly the same way, the sects have
often gained force, popularity, effectiveness for the moment by the
emphasis laid on some one truth; the Church has gained strength,
solidity, permanence, by its witness to the whole body of truth.

The same tendency may be shortly illustrated with regard to the
function of worship. That too is a complex act; in that there should
be the free conscious act of the individual, worshipping in spirit and
in truth a God whom he knows as a personal God; but clearly this is
not all; the whole society must express its corporate life in
corporate worship. Its influence is something over and above the
influence of its individual members, and that influence must be
exercised on the side of God; it must be recognised as coming from
God; it must be solemnly consecrated to God's service. The society has
a right then to call upon its individual members to join in this
corporate action. On the one hand lies the danger of the overpressure
of the society, where the service of the individual is unwilling or
apathetic: on the other hand the danger of individualism and
sectarianism, in which the whole conception of public worship is
lowered and the individual is never trained in religious matters to
feel the kindling power of a common enthusiasm, to be lifted above
himself in the wave of a common joy. The Church has aimed at combining
both; by the insistance on confession and absolution it has tried to
train the individual to a sense of personal penitence and personal
gratitude: but these have only prepared him to share in the common
worship of the society.

But the Church has had to do even more than this. Not only has it
aimed at keeping in due proportion the conflicting elements in life,
in truth, and in worship; it has also had to keep alive the three
sides at once, and to keep them in their true relation to each other.
To be at one and the same time the home of life and truth and worship,
this belongs to its ideal and this adds new difficulties. Sometimes
one element has preponderated, sometimes another: but its aim is
always to preserve the three. It has historically preserved the
synthesis of the three more than any other Christian body. It has
moved through the ages doing its work, however imperfectly. It has
kept historic continuity with the past: it has disciplined life and
raised the standard of morality and united the nations of the world.
It has been a witness to a spiritual world, to the fact that men have
interests above material things, and that these deeper spiritual
interests can combine them with the strongest links. It has gone out
as a _Catholic_ Church, knowing that it contains in its message truths
that can win their way to every nation; and therefore it has never
ceased to be a _Missionary_ Church, as it needs that each nation
should draw out into prominence some aspect of its truth, and reveal
in life some side of its virtue. It has enshrined, protected,
witnessed to the truth; both as an 'authoritative republication of
natural religion,' keeping alive the knowledge of God, and of His
moral government of the world[376], and as a revelation of redemption.
It has drawn up the canon of Holy Scripture and formulated its Creeds:
it still witnesses to the unity of knowledge: it has held up before
the world an ideal of worship, at once social and individual. Its
truths have indeed spread beyond itself, so that men find them now in
bodies opposed to it; and therefore are perplexed and do not know
where their allegiance is really due. It has indeed been itself often
untrue to its mission; but ever and again it has re-asserted itself
with a strange recuperative power, for, as the fountain of its life,
there is ever the power of the Holy Spirit, sent by the risen Lord; to
check temporary failures or accretions of teachings, there has been
the perpetual re-appeal to Holy Scripture and the Creeds; to control
idiosyncrasies of worship, there has been the permanent element of its
Liturgies. Its very failures have come from its inherent greatness;
they are the proof of great capacities, the omen of a greater future.
Like S. Paul, it holds on its way 'by glory and dishonour, by evil
report and good report, as deceiving and yet true, as unknown and yet
well-known; as dying and behold it lives; as chastened and not killed;
as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor and yet making many rich;
as having nothing and yet possessing all things.'

Does the world need the witness of the Church's life less now than in
past ages? Less? nay, for many reasons more. The widening
opportunities of intercourse are opening up new nations, whose
existence had only been suspected before; they are bringing the
various parts of human kind into a closer touch with each other. The
problems of civilization are more complex; and the more complicated a
piece of machinery is, the more difficult it is to keep it in order;
so small a defect may throw the whole out of gear. The wider our
knowledge of humanity, the greater need of a Catholic Church, which
shall raise its voice above the din of conquest and the bustle of
commerce, and insist that all races shall be treated with justice and
tenderness as made of one blood; which shall welcome all men freely
into its own brotherhood, and conveying to them the gifts of the
Spirit, shall help them to shew forth in their lives fresh beauties of
the richly-variegated wisdom of God. The growth of our huge towns,
'where numbers overwhelm humanity,' and the accumulation of wealth
bring the danger nearer home: amidst social upheavings and the
striving of class with class, there is need of a Church to rise above
rich and poor alike, which shall embrace both; which shall teach both
a real visible brotherhood amid all external inequalities; which shall
teach the poor the dignity of labour wrought for the good of the whole
society, and teach the rich the duty and the blessing of the
consecration of their wealth. With the wider use of machinery and the
restless rush of money-getting, it is important that there should be
the appeal of the Church that no man or woman shall be degraded into
being a mere machine; because each is a living soul, capable of
personal responsibility, capable of a pure life, capable of a
knowledge of God.

Amid the increasing specialization of studies, amid all the new
discoveries of science and historical criticism, with all the
perplexities that arise as to the interpretation and inspiration of
the Bible, now, if ever, there is need of a Church, which conscious of
its own spiritual life, knowing that its spiritual truths have stood
the test of centuries, has patience and courage to face all these new
facts and see their bearing and take their measure; which all the
while shall go on teaching to its children with an absolute but
rational authority the central facts of the spiritual life, and shall
never doubt the ultimate unity of all truth.

Amid the uncertainties of individualism, the fantastic services of
those who tend to reduce worship to a mere matter of emotion, amid the
sorrows and perplexities of modern life, the world needs the witness
of a rational and corporate worship, which recognises the deepest
sufferings of human nature enshrined in its very heart, yet recognises
also the way in which suffering when accepted freely, is blessed of
God; which worships at once a crucified and a risen Lord. Over against
the divisions of race and continent the Church raises still its
witness to the possibility of an universal brotherhood: over against
despair and dispersion it speaks of faith and the unity of knowledge:
over against pessimism it lifts up a perpetual Eucharist.

[333] The Dean of S. Paul's on _The Christian Church_. Oxford House
Papers, No. xvii. where this truth is excellently worked out and
applied to the Church.

[334] Browning, _Paracelsus_, ii. p. 30, ed. 1888.

[335] Tennyson, _In Memoriam_, xxxvi.

[336] Ps. lxxviii. 3, 4.

[337] _De Inc._ 12.

[338] Browning, _Fra Lippo Lippi_: M. Arnold, _The Youth of Nature_:
Shelley, _The Skylark_.

[339] _Ep. ad Diogn._ vi.

[340] Bruce, _The Chief End of Revelation_, p. 116.

[341] _Eccl. Pol._ v. 54. Cf. Iren. _adv. Haer._ iii. 20: 'Gloria enim
hominis Deus; operationis vero Dei et omnis sapientiae Ejus et
virtutis receptaculum homo.'

[342] Ign. _ad Eph._ viii. ἃ δὲ καὶ κατὰ σάρκα πράσσετε, ταῡτα
πνευματικά ἐστιν ἐν Ἰησοῦ γὰρ Χριστῷ πάντα πράσσετε.

[343] _Aurora Leigh_, vii. p. 302.

[344] Cp. H. S. Holland, _Creed and Character_, Sermons III-VIII.

[345] Πάντων τοίνυν ἀνθρώπων κεκληένων, οἱ ὑπακοῦσαι βουληθέντες,
κλητοὶ ὠνομάσθησαν, Clem. Alex. _Strom._ I. xviii. 89.

[346] Cp. 1 Tim. ii. 1-6.

[347] For the whole of this last paragraph cf. H. S. Holland, _On
behalf of Belief_, Sermons VI and VII.

[348] S. Ignatius, _ad Eph._ vii. εἷς ἰατρός ἐστι, σαρκικὸς καὶ
πνευματικὸς, as compared with _ad Magn._ xiii. ἵνα ἕνωσις ᾐ σαρκική τε
καὶ πνευματική.

[349] Pseudo-Clem. Rom. _Ep._ ii. 14; Clem. Alex. _Str._ vi. 14;
iv. 8. For these and other illustrations cf. Seeberg, _Der Begriff der
christlichen Kirche_ (Erlangen, 1885), cap. i; and Gore, _Church and
the Ministry_, ed. i. pp. 19, 28, 136.

[350] 1 Cor. xii. 28.

[351] Cp. Acts ix. 31 ἡ ἐκκλησία καθ᾽ ὅλης τῆς Ἰουδαίας καὶ Γαλιλαίας
καὶ Σαμαρείας.

[352] 1 Cor. xii. 28, xv. 9; Gal. i. 13; Phil. iii. 6; Eph. i. 22,
iii. 10, 21; Col. i. 18, 24; 1 Tim. iii. 15.

[353] _Hibbert Lectures_, 1883, p. 311.

[354] Bp. Forbes, _Explanation of the Nicene Creed_, p. 290.

[355] _ad Eph._ ii. iii. vi. xx; _ad Trall._ vii. xiii; _ad Phil._ iv.
vii; _ad Smyrn._ viii. ix.

[356] Irenaeus, _adv. Haer._, cp. esp. I. 10, II. 9, III. 1, 2, 3, 5,
12, 24.

[357] _Praescript. adv. Haereticos_; cp. esp. 3, 6, 15-21.

[358] Tertullian. _Praescr._ 9: 'Quaerendum est donec invenias, et
credendum ubi inveneris.'

[359] Hawkins' _Sermons on the Church_, p. 77.

[360] Rev. C. Gore, _Roman Catholic Claims_, p. 51.

[361] _Commonitorium_ ix. and xxiii.

[362] Bacon, Essay on _Truth_.

[363] S. John ii. 19-21.

[364] From a striking and bold article by Prof. Milligan, in the
_Expositor_, March, 1889.

[365] 1 S. Peter ii. 9; Rev. i. 6; Heb. x. 19. Justin Martyr, _Dialog.
c. Tryph._ 116; Irenaeus iv. 8; Origen, _Hom. vi. in Lev._ 5. For
other instances, cp. Seeberg, _ubi sopra_, or Gore, _Church and the
Ministry_, pp. 87-90.

[366] Eph. iii. 21 (R.V.); Rev. iv. 11, v. 11-14; 1 Cor. xi. 26.

[367] Cf. the striking account of the true Christian sacrifice in
S. Aug. _De Civ. Dei_, x. 6: 'Profecto efficitur ut tota ipsa redempta
civitas, hoc est congregatio societasque sanctorum universale
sacrificium offeratur Deo per sacerdotem magnum, qui etiam se ipsum
obtulit in passione pro nobis, ut tanti capitis corpus essemus.... Hoc
est sacrificium Christianorum, _multi unum corpus in Christo_. Quod
etiam sacramento altaris fidelibus noto frequentat ecclesia, ut ei
demonstretur, quod in ea re, quam offert, ipsa offeratur.'

[368] Acts xiii. 1.

[369] 1 Cor. xi-xiv.; cp. 1 Tim. ii.

[370] Clem, _ad Cor._ 1. esp. 40-45.

[371] _Contra Adv. Leg. et Proph._ xx. 39.

[372] Παῤῥησιαστὴς διὰ τὴν εὐγένειαν, Plutarch. _Vitae x Orat._ 7.

[373] The Dean of S. Paul's, _Advent Sermons_, p. 73.

[374] Wordsworth, _The Recluse_.

[375] Cp. Socrates iii. 16 Τὸ γὰρ καλὸν, ἔνθα ἂν ᾖ, ἴδιον τῆς ἀληθείας
ἐστίν. S. Aug. _de doctr. Chr._ ii. 18: 'quisquis bonus verusque
Christianus est, Domini sui esse intellegat ubique invenerit

[376] Butler's _Analogy_, Pt. ii. ch. 1.




It is the characteristic distinction of some men's work that they are
resolute to take into just account all the elements and conditions of
the matter with which they deal. They will not purchase simplicity at
the expense of facts; they will not, by any act of arbitrary exclusion
or unreal abstraction, give up even the most distant hope of some real
attainment for the sake of securing a present appearance of
completeness. They recognise and insist upon all the complexity of
that at which they look; they may see many traits in it to which they
can assign no definite place or meaning, but they will not ignore or
disparage these; they will not forget them, even though for a while
they may have to defer the closer study of them; they will dutifully
bear them in mind, and carry them along through all their work; they
will let them tell with full weight in qualifying, deferring, or
precluding the formation of any theory about that of which these
traits, trivial or important, explained or unexplained, are a genuine
part. It is difficult to find a name for this rare and distinctive
excellence. But it is that which more than any other quality gives
permanence and fruitfulness to work: for even the fragmentary and
loosely ordered outcome of such thought is wont to prove germinant and
quickening as time goes on. Patience, honesty, reverence, and
unselfishness, are virtues which appear congenial with such a
character of mind; and the high, undaunted faith which is the secret
of its strength and the assurance of its great reward has been told by
Mr. Browning in _A Grammarian's Funeral_:--

  Was it not great? did not he throw on God
        (He loves the burthen)--
  God's task to make the heavenly period
        Perfect the earthen[377]?

It will be the chief aim of this essay to shew that in the embodiment
and presentation of Christianity by the Church of Christ there may be
seen an excellence analogous, at least, to this distinctive
characteristic of the work that all approve as best and truest upon
earth; that in contrast with many religious systems, attaining a high
degree of moral beauty and spiritual fervour, the historic Church
meets human life in full front; that it has been taught and enabled,
in its ministry of Sacraments, to deal with the entirety of man's
nature, not slighting, or excluding, or despairing of any true part of
his being. But it is necessary at the outset to define, in general and
provisional terms, the nature and the principle of that element in the
Church's faith and life which is here under consideration, and in
which especially this amplitude and catholicity of dealing with human
nature is to be sought. By the Sacramental system, then, is meant the
regular use of sensible objects, agents, and acts as being the means
or instruments of Divine energies, 'the vehicles of saving and
sanctifying power[378].' The underlying belief, the basal and
characteristic principle of this system, may be thus stated. As the
inmost being of man rises to the realization of its true life, to the
knowledge and apprehension of God and of itself, in the act of faith,
and as He whose Spirit quickened it for that act, greets its venture
with fresh gifts of light and strength, it is His will that these
gifts should be conveyed by means or organs taken from this world, and
addressed to human senses. His Holy Spirit bears into the faithful
soul the communication of its risen Lord's renewing manhood; and for
the conveyance of that unseen gift He takes things and acts that can
be seen, and words that can be heard; His way is viewless as the wind;
but He comes and works by means of which the senses are aware; and His
hidden energy accepts a visible order and outward implements for the
achievement of its purpose.

The limits of this essay preclude the discussion of the larger
questions which beset the terms of these definitions. Previous essays
have dealt with those truths which are necessarily involved in any
declaration of belief about the Christian Sacraments. The Being of
God, the Incarnation of the Eternal Word, the Atonement, the
Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the Person and Mission of the
Holy Ghost, these are indeed implied in the Sacramental system of the
Church, not simply as component and essential parts of the same
building, nor as mere logical data, but rather as the activities of
the bodily life are pre-supposed in the exertion of the body's
strength. But these cannot here be spoken of: it is from preceding
pages of this book that thoughts and convictions must be gathered,
without which much that is here said will seem either unsubstantial,
or merely technical. It must be owned that the severance of any
subject from its context entails not only incompleteness, but also a
certain disproportion and obscurity in its treatment; since the lines
of thought which run out into the context are lines down which light
comes, light that is lost if they are closed. Indeed anything like a
full presentation or a formal defence of a detached part of Christian
teaching and practice seems intrinsically very difficult, and within
the limits of an essay impossible. There are, however, two questions
which must be asked concerning each several part of the whole
structure, and in regard to which something may here be said. The
first is: Does this part match with its surroundings in Christianity;
is it a harmonious and congenial element in the whole order, in the
great body of doctrine to which it claims to belong? The second is:
Does it match with the surroundings on which it claims to act, with
its environment in human life; is it apt for the purpose to which it
is addressed and the conditions among which it comes? It is here
proposed, as has been said, to consider in regard to the Sacramental
system the second especially of these two questions: but its
consideration will involve some thoughts which may perhaps be a
sufficient answer to the first. And thus something may also be gained
beyond the range of the present inquiry; for it seems fair to hold
that any part of Christian teaching in regard to which both these
questions can be answered in the affirmative, has a strong tendency at
all events to commend the claim of the whole scheme with which it is
inwoven and essentially continuous. For the perfection of inner
coherence in a structure whose main lines, at least, were projected in
the world under circumstances which preclude the thought of scientific
or artificial elaboration, and the perfection of adaptation, not to
the wishes and tastes of men, nor to the arrangements of society, but
to the deepest, fullest, surest truth of humanity; these are
characteristics which we should expect to find in a revelation from
God to man, and be surprised to find elsewhere.

I. Probably there come to most men who have got beyond the happy
confidence of youth, and the unhappy confidence of self-satisfaction,
times at which they seem to themselves to be living in a somewhat
perplexed and dimly lighted world, with tasks for which their strength
is insufficient, among problems which they cannot solve. And
Christianity is held out to them, or has been received by them, as a
way of life under these circumstances, as a method and a means of
living rightly; a system which does not indeed take all the perplexity
out of the world, or all the difficulties out of their course, but
which will give them light and strength enough to keep in the right
track, to use their time well, to take their proper place, and do
their proper work, and so to move towards the realization of all the
many parts and possibilities of their nature; a goal which may seem to
grow both larger and more distant the more one thinks about it.
Christianity professes to be that Divine word, which was faintly
surmised of old[379], and in due time was sent forth to bear men
wisely and surely through this world. Plainly one of the first and
fairest questions which may be asked in regard to it is, whether it
shews a perfect understanding of the nature with which it claims to
deal, and the life which it claims to guide.

Now when we set ourselves to think what we are for whom a possible and
satisfactory way of life is sought, what that nature is, whose right
principles and conditions of development are to be determined, one of
the first things which we discern is an apparently invincible
complexity. The life we have to order is a twofold life, it moves
through a twofold course of experience: the facts, the activities in
which we are conscious of it, are of two kinds; and men ordinarily
distinguish them as bodily and spiritual. Some such distinction is
recognised and understood by the simplest of us: it is imbedded beyond
possibility of expulsion in all language: stubbornly and successfully
it resists all efforts to abolish it. We know for ourselves that
either of the two groups of facts may stand out in clearer light, in
keener consciousness, at certain times: we may even for a while, a
little while, lose sight of either of them and seem to be wholly
occupied with the other: but presently the neglected facts will
re-assert their rights: neither the one group nor the other may long
be set aside without risk of the Nemesis which avenges slighted
truths:--the Nemesis of disproportion and disease. We may confuse our
sense of the distinction; we may shift or blur or bend whatever line
had seemed to mark it: we may insist on the qualifying phenomena which
forbid us to think of any barrier as impenetrable; but we cannot so
exalt or push forward either realm as utterly to extrude, absorb, or
annihilate the other: we cannot, with consistency or sanity, live as
though our life were merely spiritual or merely bodily. It is as
impossible steadily to regard the spirit as a mere function or product
of the body, as it is to treat the body with entire indifference, as a
casually adjacent fragment of the external world. But further, as the
distinction of the two elements in our being seems insuperable, so
does their union seem essential to the integrity of our life. Any
abstraction of one element, as though it could detach itself from the
other and live on its own resources, is felt to be unreal and
destructive of our proper nature. So it has been finely said,
'Materialism itself has here done valuable service in correcting the
exaggeration of a one-sided spiritualism. It is common, but erroneous,
to speak of man's body as being related to his spirit only as is the
casket to the jewel which it contains. But, as a matter of fact, the
personal spirit of man strikes its roots far and deep into the
encompassing frame of sense, with which, from the first moment of its
existence, it has been so intimately associated.... The spirit can
indeed exist independently of the body, but this independent existence
is not its emancipation from a prison-house of matter and sense; it is
a temporary and abnormal divorce from the companion whose presence is
needed to complete its life[380].' If we try to imagine our life in
abstraction from the body we can only think of it as incomplete and
isolated; as impoverished, deficient, and expectant. And certainly in
our present state, in the interval between what we call birth and
death, the severance of the two elements is inconceivable: they are
knit together in incessant and indissoluble communion. In no activity,
no experience of either, can the other be utterly discarded: 'for each
action and reaction passing between them is a fibre of that which
forms their mutual bond[381].' Even into those energies of which men
speak as purely spiritual, the bodily life will find its way, will
send its help or hindrance: sickness, hunger, weariness, and desire:
these are but some of its messengers to the spirit, messengers who
will not always be denied. And in every conscious action of the bodily
life the presence of the spirit is to be discerned. The merely animal
fulfilment of merely animal demands, devoid of moral quality, is only
possible within that dark tract of instinct which lies below the range
of our consciousness. When once desire is consciously directed to its
object, (wherever the desire has originated and whatever be the nature
of the object,) a moral quality appears, a moral issue is determined:
and the act of the body becomes an event in the life of the
spirit[382]. The blind life of brute creatures is as far out of our
reach as is the pure energy of angels: we can never let the body
simply go its own way; for in the essential complexity of our being,
another sense is ever waiting upon the conscious exercise of those
five senses that we share with lower animals:--the sense of duty and
of sin.

Thus complex are we,--we who crave more light and strength, who want
to find the conditions of our health and growth, who lift up our eyes
unto the hills from whence cometh our help. It would be interesting to
consider from how many different points of view the complexity has
been recognised, resented, slandered, or ignored; and how steadily it
has held its own. It may need some exercise of faith (that is to say,
of reasonable patience amidst half-lights and fragments) to keep the
truth before one, and to allow it its just bearing upon thought and
conduct, without exaggeration, or self-deception, or one-sidedness;
but there is neither health of body nor peace of mind in trifling with

To us, then, being thus complex, Christianity presents a plan, a
principle, a rule of life. And that primary and inevitable question
which has been already indicated may therefore take this definite
form:--Does the scheme proposed to us acknowledge this our complexity?
does it provide for us in the entirety of our nature, with all that we
feel to be essential to our completeness? or must a part of our being
be huddled out of sight as we enter the precinct of the Church?

II. (1) Certainly the whole history and character of the Christian
Revelation would encourage us to hope that its bearing upon life would
be as broad as the whole of human nature; and that no true part of our
being would be excluded from its light, refused its welcome, or driven
from its feast. When we consider how Christianity came into the world,
it would seem strange and disappointing if its hold on human life were
partial and not inclusive: if, for instance, the body found no place
prepared, no help or hope provided for it. This was excellently said
by Alexander Knox: 'The gospel commenced in an accommodation to man's
animal exigencies which was as admirable as it was gracious; and which
the hosts of heaven contemplated with delight and wonder. The
Incarnation of the co-eternal Son, through which S. John was enabled
to declare what he and his fellow Apostles "had seen with their eyes,
what they had looked upon, and their hands had handled, of the Word of
Life," was in the first instance, so to consult human nature in its
animal and sensitive capacity, as to give the strongest pledge that a
dispensation thus introduced would, in every subordinate provision,
manifest the same spirit and operate on the same principle. For could
it be thought that the first wonderful accommodation of Godhead to the
sensitive apprehensions of man should be wholly temporary? and that
though that mystery of godliness was ever to be regarded as the vital
source of all spiritual benefits and blessings, no continuance of this
wise and gracious condescension should be manifested in the means,
whereby its results were to be perpetuated, and made effectual[383]?'
It would be possible to follow this mode of thought to a remoter
point, and to mark in the revealed relation of the Eternal Word to the
whole creation a sure ground for believing that whensoever, in the
fulness of time, God should be pleased to bring the world, through its
highest type, into union with Himself, the access to that union would
be as wide as the fulness of the nature in which He made man at the
beginning: that the attractive and uplifting bands of love would hold
and draw to Him every true element of that nature. But it is enough
for our present purpose to look steadily at the Advent and the Life of
Christ: to see how carefully and tenderly every fragment of the form
He takes is disentangled from the deforming evil which He could not
take: how perfect are the lineaments of the humanity He wears, how
freely and clearly all that is characteristic of our nature is
displayed in His most holy life; where 'the hiding of His power,' the
restraining of the beams of Deity[384] leaves room for the disclosure
in Him of whatever weakness and limitation properly belongs to us.
Surely it would be strange if the grace and truth which came among us
thus, proved partial or restricted in their later dealing with our
manhood: if any tract of our life were unvisited by their light and
blessing: if anything which He took were slighted in His kingdom,
forgotten in His ministry, precluded from His worship. The Incarnation
was indeed in itself a great earnest of the recognition which would be
accorded in the Christian life to the whole of our complex nature. But
there are, more particularly, two points in the coming and work of our
Lord which seem peculiarly intended to foreshow some abiding elevation
of the material and visible to share the honour of the spiritual
element in our life. They are so familiar to us that it may not be
easy to do full justice to their significance.

(2) For it does seem deeply significant that when the Word was made
flesh and dwelt among us, He took up the lines of a history replete
with forecasts of the consecration of material things: He met the
truest aspirations of a people trained to unhesitating exultation in a
visible worship, encouraged by manifold experience to look for the
blessings of Divine goodness through sensible means, accustomed and
commanded to seek for God's especial presence in an appointed place
and amidst sights on which their eyes would rest with thankful
confidence. That Church and nation 'of whom as concerning the flesh
Christ came,' must have seemed indeed irrevocably and essentially
committed to the principle that when man is brought near to God it is
with the entirety of his manhood: that God is to be glorified alike in
the body and in the spirit: and that His mercy really is over all His
works. Doubtless barriers were to be broken down, when the time of
prophecy and training passed on into the freedom of realization:
limitations were to be taken away, distinctions abrogated by Him in
Whom is neither Jew nor Greek, neither bond nor free, neither male nor
female: but religion would surely have grown in reality _narrower_ and
not wider, if the body had been dismissed from its duty and gladness
in the light of God's countenance, if the spirit alone had been bidden
to draw near, to worship, to taste and see how gracious the Lord is.
Through all the amplitude of the Christian dispensation, there would
have been a sense of loss, of impoverishment, of expectation
encouraged and unsatisfied, had this been so; for in the preparatory
system of Judaism, whatever had been lacking, still the whole nature
of man had felt the Hand of God and heard His Voice. It would have
seemed strange if with the wider extension of God's light to all the
world there had been a narrowing of its range in the life of each
several man[385].

(3) And then, again, it is to be marked that our Lord Himself by
repeated acts sustained and emphasized this acceptance of the visible
as the organ or vehicle of the Divine. His blessing was given by the
visible laying on of hands, and His miracles were wrought not by the
bare silent energy of His Almighty will, not even in many cases by the
mere utterance of His word, but through the employment of acts or
objects, impressive to the bodily element in man, and declaring the
consecration of the material for the work of God. Alike in the
blessings bestowed and in the manner of their bestowal men must have
felt that there was with Him no disparagement of the body, no
forgetfulness of its need, no lack of care for its welfare, its
honour, or its hope. Perhaps it may even be that had we watched the
scene in the Galilean town as the sun was setting, and in the cool of
the evening they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them
unto Him; as He moved about among those wasted, suffering forms, and
on one after another laid His hands and healed them; it may even be
that what would have struck us first of all would have been the
bringing in of a better hope for the bodily life of man and the
replenishing of a familiar act, a common gesture, with a grace and
power that it had but vaguely hinted at before.

We have, then, (1) in the Incarnation of the Son of God, (2) in the
essential character of the history ordered as an especial preparation
for His coming, and (3) in certain conspicuous features of His
ministry on earth, a strong encouragement to expect that in the life
thus brought into the world, in the way thus opened out, there would
be evinced a large-hearted care for the whole nature of men: that no
unreal abstraction would be demanded, and no part of humanity be
disinherited: that in the choice of its means, in the scope of its
beneficence, and in the delineation of its aim, Christianity would
deal with us as we are, and prove that God has not made us thus for
nought. An endeavour will be made to shew how this great hope is
greeted in the Sacramental system, and uplifted and led on towards the
end of all true hope. But it seems necessary first to adduce the
grounds for saying that that system has been from the beginning an
integral part of Christianity.

III. When we turn to look at the presentation of the Sacramental
principle in the Gospels, our first impression may be that the place
it holds there is less than that which is given to it in the teaching
and practice of the Church: that it is by a disproportionate growth
that the doctrine of Sacraments has gained so much space and so great
prominence in Catholic theology. But the impression certainly ought
not to be lasting. For it is due to our forgetfulness of the
conditions under which Christianity came into the world: the
characteristics and habits of religious thought with which it had to
deal. We can draw no reasonable inference from the brevity or length
with which a truth is enunciated in the Gospels until we have inquired
what were the previous convictions of those to whom our Lord spoke:
what preparation had in that particular regard been made for His
teaching. We ought to look for some difference in the manner of
revelation corresponding to the difference of need when a wholly new
principle of thought has to be borne into unready minds, and when a
fresh direction has to be given to an expectation already alert and
confident, a new light to be thrown on the true worth and meaning of
an existing belief about God's ways towards men. Amplitude and
iteration would indeed have been necessary for any teaching which was
to dislodge the Sacramental principle out of the minds of those among
whom our Lord came--to preclude them from seeking the mercy of God
through visible means. But if the Divine purpose was not to destroy
but to fulfil; not to discredit as mere misapprehensions the
convictions men had received, but to raise and purify them by
disclosing the response which God had prepared for them: to disengage
them from that which had been partial, preparatory, transient, and to
fasten them on their true satisfaction: then we might reverently
expect that the method of this teaching would probably be such as in
the New Testament is shewn to us in regard to the doctrine of

(1) For, in the first place, we find abundant and pervading signs that
the general principle is taken up into Christianity and earned on as a
characteristic note of its plan and work. The regular communication of
its prerogative and characteristic gift through outward means: the
embodiment of grace in ordinances: the designation of visible agents,
acts, and substances, to be the instruments and vehicles of Divine
virtue:--this principle is so intimately and essentially woven into
the texture of Christianity that it cannot be got out without
destroying the whole fabric. As our Saviour gradually sets forth the
outlines of His design for the redemption of the world, at point after
point the Sacramental principle is affirmed, and material instruments
are designated for the achievement of His work. 'He proclaims Himself
the Founder of a world-wide and imperishable Society,' 'the Kingdom of
Heaven' or 'the Kingdom of God[386];' and while the claims and
energies of this kingdom penetrate the hidden depths of life, so that
it is indeed 'a moral empire,' and 'a realm of souls,' yet none the
less is it openly to take its place in human history. It is not an
unsubstantial haze of vague spirituality, precarious and indistinct,
hovering or said to hover half way between earth and sky, with no
precise attachment to either. At once, it is the kingdom of Heaven,
and it is to have all the apparel of a visible society: it touches
this earth with a definite and inclusive hold; it ennobles material
conditions by a frank acceptance. As in the Incarnation, so also in
the preparation of the Church to be the ever-present witness to
Christ, the guardian of His truth, and the home of His people, the
principle was sustained that, in the redemption of the world, God
would be pleased to take the instruments of His work out of that world
which He was renewing: that the quickening Spirit would not repel or
destroy the material order, but would assume, pervade, and use it.

(2) And, in the second place, the particular expressions of the
general principle thus reaffirmed were authoritatively appointed: the
approved anticipation of men was left in no uncertainty as to its
response and sanction; men were told plainly what were the outward and
visible signs which God had chosen in this world to be the means
whereby His inward and spiritual grace should be received. It is
difficult indeed to imagine any way in which more weight and
incisiveness could have been given to the appointment of the two great
Sacraments than in the way which Christ was pleased to use:--any way
in which Baptism and the Eucharist could have been more firmly and
impressively designated as the vital and distinctive acts of the
Christian Church. We can hardly wonder at their pre-eminence in
Christian thought and life when we remember how they were fastened
upon the consciousness of the Church. Their antecedents lay in that
long mysterious course of history which Almighty God had led on
through the strange discipline of the changeful centuries to the
coming of Christ. And then, there had been in Christ's teaching
certain utterances which seemed to have a peculiar character: which
were plainly of essential importance, concerning things necessary for
all His disciples, bearing on the primary conditions of their life:
and yet utterances which were left unexplained, however men might be
troubled, offended, overstrained, discouraged by them: left as though
their explanation was impossible, until the occurrence of events which
could not be forestalled[387]. But such utterances, if they could not
be understood, could still less be forgotten: they lived in the
memory, they haunted the imagination, they sustained expectancy: they
were as a prophetic conviction in the mind, strong, deep, fragmentary,
and unsatisfied. Who can measure the consilient force with which, in
moments of intensest thought and feeling, moments when all the
besetting conditions seemed quick with some imminent disclosure, the
Divine commands, meeting, illuminating, establishing those former
utterances, would be riveted upon the hearts of men and clenched for
ever into the faith and practice of the Church, with a dominance never
to be forgotten or infringed, as a very primal law of life? In the
unique, controlling awe of His impending agony and crucifixion:--in
the heralded majesty of His appearance to the disciples upon the
mountain where He had appointed them, and with the proclamation of the
absolute authority given to Him in heaven and in earth: so did our
Lord enact the ordinances to which His earlier words had pointed, and
in which at length their meaning was made clear: so did He institute
His two great Sacraments: so did He disentangle the Sacramental
principle from all that had been temporary, accidental, disciplinary,
accommodated, in its past embodiment, and determine what should be the
form of its two main expressions, for all ages and for all men in His
Church 'until His coming again,' 'even unto the end of the world.'

It may be in place here briefly to suggest a few thoughts with regard
to that which was secured by this authoritative designation of the
outward sign in each great Sacrament, beyond all that could have been
attained by the general enunciation of the Sacramental principle.

Much might be said--and much more, doubtless, be still left
unsaid--about the especial fitness of the very elements thus chosen
from the material world to be the vehicles of saving grace:--for the
water and the bread and wine are called to their place in the Divine
work with deep and far-reaching associations already belonging to
them. Again, the very simplicity and commonness of the elements taken
into God's nearest service may have been a part of the reason why they
were appointed: for in no other way could the minds of men have been
more surely and permanently hindered from many of the mistakes to
which in the past they had been prone: in no other way could the
Sacramental principle have been more perfectly disengaged from the
misconceptions which had confused its purity: in no other way could
men have been more plainly taught that in no expense of this world's
goods, in no labour of their own hands, in no virtue of the material
elements, but only in the sustained energy of His will, who took and
penetrated and employed them, lay the efficacy of the Sacrament. The
very plainness of the element hallowed in the Sacrament was to urge up
men's thoughts from it to Him. But, above all, the decisive
appointment of particular signs and acts may seem to have been
necessary in order that the Sacraments might take their places as acts
emanating from, upheld by, and characteristic of the Church's
corporate life, and not merely concerned with the spiritual welfare of
the individual. So S. Paul appeals to Baptism and to the Eucharist as
both effecting and involving the communion of saints[388]. By
Sacraments men are to be taken out of the narrowness and isolation of
their own lives, out of all engrossing preoccupation with their own
state, into the ample air, the generous gladness, the unselfish hope
of the City of God: they are to escape from all daily pettiness, all
morbid self-interest, all preposterous conviction of their own
importance, into a fellowship which spans all ages and all lands. By
Baptism and the Eucharist the communion of saints is extended and
sustained: they are the distinctive acts of the Body of Christ: and as
such He designated their essential form, to abide unaltered through
all that changed around them. And even those who stand aloof from them
and from the faith on which they rest, may feel the unmatched
greatness of an act that has held its place in human life through all
the revolutions of more than 1800 years: an act that in its essential
characteristics is to-day what it was when imperial Rome was venerated
as eternal: an act that is every day renewed, with some measure, at
least, of the same faith and hope and love, in every land where Christ
is owned.

(3) The Sacramental principle had been most plainly adopted by our
Lord: the spiritual forces with which He would renew the face of the
earth were to be exerted through material instruments: and He Himself
had secured the principle from uncertainty or vagueness or
individualism in its expression by appointing, with the utmost weight
and penetration of His authority, the definite form of two great
ordinances, which were to begin and to advance the supernatural life
of His members, to extend the range of His Church, and to maintain its
unity. In the acts and letters of His apostles we see how His teaching
and bidding had been understood: how promptly and decisively His
Church declared its life, its work, its mission, to be Sacramental.
The meaning and emphasis of His commandment appear in the obedience of
those to whom it was given: in the first words of authoritative
counsel uttered by an apostle: in the first act of the Spirit-bearing
Body: and thenceforward in the characteristic habits of the Christian

From the first the prominence of Sacraments and Sacramental rites is
constant. In the teaching of later ages their prominence may have been
relatively greater, in contrast with the poverty of faith and life in
those who insisted on their power while they forgot their meaning; but
absolutely it would be hard to devise a higher place for them than
that which they hold in S. Paul's Epistles. To be living a life
received, nourished, and characterised by Baptism and by the
Eucharist--this is the distinctive note of a Christian--thus does he
differ from other men. The Sacrament by which he became a member of
Christ's body must determine throughout the two distinctive qualities
of his inner life: its severance from all forms of worldliness, all
dependence on natural advantages, or natural strength, all confidence
in the satisfaction of external rules; and its unfailing newness, as
issuing from Him who, being raised from the dead, dieth no more, and
as carrying through all its activities the air and light of
heaven[390]. And the Sacrament which continually renews in him the
presence of his Lord, meeting with unstinted wealth the demands of
work and growth, assuring and advancing the dominance of the new
manhood in him: this in like manner must determine the sustained
simplicity of his bearing towards those who with him are members of
the one Body, quickened and informed by the one Life[391]. That men
may receive eternal life through Jesus Christ: this is the end of all
labours in His name: to this all else is tributary and conducive: and
there is no hesitation as to the visible means by which God will
effect this end in all those who have 'faith to be healed.' And in
this sense it may perhaps be said that in Christianity even doctrine
holds not indeed a subordinate but (that which involves nothing but
dignity) a subservient place; since it is the strength and glory of
Christian doctrine that it essentially 'leads on to something
higher--to the sacramental participation in the atoning sacrifice of

IV. Thus then there appears at the beginning the dominance of that
note which has sounded on through all succeeding ages; thus may we
trace from the first days the dispensation of Divine energy through
agents and acts and efficacious symbols gathered out of this visible
world. It remains to be shewn with what reason it can be alleged that
herein the Church evinces its recognition of the complexity of human
nature, and guards the truth, that in the entirety of his being man
has to do with God, the Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier of his soul and
body. Along three lines of thought this may in some degree appear; and
if the evidence that can be indicated is recognised as in any measure
real, it would be unphilosophic to set it aside because it may be
fragmentary and inconclusive: since fragments are all that in such a
matter we are likely as yet to see.

(1) First, then, there is a profound far-reaching import in the bare
fact that material and visible means are thus hallowed to effect the
work of God, to bear His unseen grace. For it must not be thought that
in this Sacramental union of the visible and the invisible we have
only an interesting parallel to the twofold nature of man, a neat and
curious symmetry, a striking bit of symbolism or accommodation. Nor is
the deepest significance of the Sacramental principle brought out when
it is said quite truly that 'it has pleased God to bind His invisible
operations to outward and visible methods,' 'lest that which is thus
invisible should for that reason be disbelieved or counterfeited or in
any of the various ways in which human incredulity or human enthusiasm
might do it wrong, abused to the injury of man[393].' We may see in
this aspect of the system that it has indeed secondary advantages of
the highest worth; but its surpassing glory is in its primary and
essential character, as the regular employment of visible means for
the achievement of Divine mysteries. For thus our whole estimate of
this world is affected. Its simplest objects have their kindred, as it
were, in the court, in the very presence chamber of the Most High; and
actions such as we see in it day after day have been advanced to a
supreme distinction.

And so through Sacramental elements and acts Christianity maintains
its strong inclusive hold upon the whole of life. The consecration of
material elements to be the vehicles of Divine grace keeps up on earth
that vindication and defence of the material against the insults of
sham spiritualism which was achieved for ever by the Incarnation and
Ascension of Jesus Christ. We seem to see the material world rising
from height to height; pierced, indeed, and, as it were, surprised at
every stage by strange hints of a destiny beyond all likelihood; yet
only gradually laying aside the inertness of its lower forms,
gradually seeming to yield itself, not merely to the external
fashioning of spirit, but also to its inner and transforming
occupation: till in humanity it comes within sight of that which God
has been preparing for it, even the reception of His own image and
likeness. And yet this is but the beginning: and though sin delays the
end, and holds back the crown of all, it is but for a time; in due
season there is made known that absolutely highest honour to which God
has been leading on the work of His hands, even that in its highest
type it should be taken into God; that the Eternal Word should be made
man, and from a human mother receive our nature, so that a material
body should be His body; His in birth, and growth, and death; His in
all its relations with the visible world; His for suffering, for
weariness, for tears, for hunger; His upon the cross and in the tomb;
His to rise with; and, at length, His at the right hand of God. Thus
was the visible received up into glory; thus was the forecast of
spiritual capacity in the material perfectly realized; and by the body
of the ascended Saviour, an entrance for the whole being of man into
the realm of spirit is assured. 'There is a spiritual body[394]:' no
part of the material order can be quite untouched by the light that
issues from those astounding words, and from the triumph they record.
And that truth, that triumph, that possibility of unhindered
inter-penetration between the spiritual and the material is
pre-eminently attested upon earth by the two great Sacraments of the
Christian Church. In those mysteries where water is sanctified to the
washing away of sin, and where material substances are made spiritual
food, there is a continual witness of the victory that has been won, a
real earnest of that which shall hereafter be achieved, a vivid
declaration that the barrier between the spiritual and the material is
not absolute or eternal.

Nor is this deep truth without practical and far-reaching consequences
in human life. For immediately it thus appears that the unreal
spirituality which consists in a barren and boastful disparagement of
ritual observance or of outward acts[395], of earthly relationships or
of secular life, of natural feelings or of bodily health, clashes with
Christian teaching as sharply as it does with human nature and with
common sense. And then, in perfect accordance with this principle, the
spiritual energy of the Church is sacramentally conveyed for the
hallowing of stage after stage in the due order of a human life, as
body, soul, and spirit are advanced towards the end for which they
were created. Not only in the initial act whereby all are bidden to
enter into the kingdom of God, and, at the dawn of consciousness, the
onset of evil is forestalled by the cleansing and regenerating work of
God the Holy Ghost--not only in the ever-needed, ever-ready mystery of
glory whereby, amidst the stains and sorrows of the world, all may
again and again be 'filled with the very essence of restoration and of
life[396];' but at other moments too, when the soul of man rises up
towards God in the divinely-quickened venture of faith, the strength
of the Most High is perfected in human weakness, and in Sacramental
acts the things that are not seen enter into the history of the things
that are seen. It is most unfortunate that the associations of
controversy should hinder men from frankly and thankfully recognising
the wide range of Sacramental action in Christian life. The dispute as
to the number of the Sacraments is indeed 'a question of a name[397];'
and it ought to have been acknowledged all along that the name was
being used with different and shifting meanings. That men knew that it
did not designate an essentially distinct class of exactly equivalent
units is shewn on all sides; S. Thomas Aquinas seems to doubt, at
least, whether there are not more than seven Sacraments, divides the
seven into groups with very important notes of difference, and decides
that the Eucharist is 'Sacramentorum omnium potissimum[398]:' Calvin
was not unwilling that the laying on of hands should be called a
Sacrament, though he would not reckon it 'inter ordinaria
Sacramenta[399];' the Council of Trent has an anathema for anyone who
says that the seven Sacraments are so equal that none is more worthy
than another[400]: Richard Baxter distinguishes between 'three sorts
of Sacraments;' in the second sense of the name, in which it is taken
to mean 'any solemn _Investiture_ of a person by ministerial delivery,
in a state of Church-privileges, or some special gospel-mercy,' he
grants 'that there are five Sacraments--Baptism, Confirmation,
Absolution, the Lord's Supper and Ordination;' and elsewhere he
declares that 'they that peremptorily say without distinguishing that
there are but two Sacraments in all, do but harden them (the Papists)
by the unwarrantable narrowing of the word[401].' There is indeed no
reason why anyone should hesitate to mark the Love of God meeting in
Sacramental ordinances the need of man at point after point in the
course of his probation. Differences in the manner of appointment or
in the range of application may involve no difference at all in the
reality of the power exercised and the grace conveyed. And so we may
see the Spirit-bearing Church, with whole-hearted recognition of all
the elements and wants of human life, proffering to men through
visible means the manifold gifts of grace needed for their progress
and welfare in the way until they reach the Country. As temptation
grows more complex and severe, and the soul begins to realize the
warfare that it has to wage, the Personal indwelling of the Holy
Ghost, vouchsafed by the laying on of hands, completes the preparation
of Christ's soldier: as the desolating sense of failure threatens to
unnerve the will and to take such hold upon the soul that it is not
able to look up, the authoritative message of forgiveness brings again
the strength of purity and the light of hope, and recalls the
scattered forces of the inner life to expel the encroaching evil and
to regain whatever had been lost. For special vocations there are
special means of grace; by ordination God vouchsafes to guilty men the
glory of the priesthood: and in Christian marriage He confers the
grace that hallows human love to be the brightness and the safeguard
of an earthly home, and the earnest of the home in Heaven. And thus in
the manifold employment of the Sacramental principle there again
appears that characteristic excellence of Christianity which is
secured in the very nature of Sacraments: namely, its recognition of
the whole problem with which it claims to deal. It speaks to us as we
are: there is no true need of which it will not take account: it will
lead us without loss to the realization of our entire being.

(2) Secondly, Sacraments are a constant witness against our readiness
to forget, to ignore, or to explain away the claim of Christianity to
penetrate the bodily life, and to affect the body itself, replenishing
it here with powers which are strange to it, lifting it out of the
reach or mastery of passions which falsely boast that they are
congenial with it, leading it on towards its everlasting rest, beyond
all weakness and dishonour, in the glory of God. This claim, with the
deeply mysterious but wholly reasonable hope which it engenders, has
been set forth by Hooker, with his unfaltering strength of thought and
words: 'Doth any man doubt that even from the flesh of Christ our very
bodies do receive that life which shall make them glorious at the
latter day, and for which they are already accounted parts of His
blessed body? Our corruptible bodies could never live the life they
shall live, were it not that here they are joined with His body, which
is incorruptible, and that His is in ours as a cause of immortality, a
cause by removing, through the death and merit of His own flesh, that
which hindered the life of ours. Christ is therefore, both as God and
as man, that true Vine whereof we both spiritually and corporally are
branches. The mixture of His bodily substance with ours is a thing
which the ancient Fathers disclaim. Yet the mixture of His flesh with
ours they speak of, to signify what our very bodies through mystical
conjunction receive from that vital efficacy which we know to be in
His: and from bodily mixtures they borrow divers similitudes rather to
declare the truth, than the manner of coherence between His sacred and
the sanctified bodies of saints[402].' The body, as well as the
spirit, is accessible to the Divine life: there are avenues by which
the energy of Christ's perfect and glorified manhood can penetrate,
inform, affect, transfigure our whole being, bodily and spiritual. His
prevalence in the life of the body and the change He works in it, may
be very gradual, discerned in incoherent fragments, interrupted by
surprising disappointments, hampered by limitations which it would be
unlike Him now to overbear: but the change is real. The body is not
left inert and brutish and uncheered, while the spirit is being
carried on from strength to strength, with growing light and freedom
and majesty: it also rises at its Saviour's touch, and finds from Him
the earnest of its liberation and advancement.

The work of grace upon the bodily nature of man may indeed be a matter
of which we ought not to think save very humbly and tentatively: it is
easy and perilous to overstate or to mis-read the evidence: but there
is peril also in ignoring it. The language of our Blessed Lord; the
clear conviction of His apostles; the intrepid quietude of His
martyrs; the patience of the saints; their splendid and unrivalled
endurance in His service; the change that may be marked in the looks
and voices and instinctive acts of some who seem to be most nearly
His:--here is such guidance for thought and hope as we ought not to
dismiss because we cannot make up a theory about it. There are real
facts--though they may be fragmentary, and require very careful
handling--to warrant us in praying that our sinful bodies may be made
clean by His body, as well as that our souls may be washed by His most
precious blood.

It is this truth, with the higher aspirations, the more venturous
hopes and efforts which it suggests, that the Sacramental system of
the Church keeps in its due prominence. It is at all events not
incongruous to think that the spiritual grace which is conveyed by
visible means may pass through our spiritual nature to tell upon that
which is visible. He who comes spiritually under a visible form may
well be believed to work spiritually upon a visible nature. It is not,
of course, to be thought for a moment that our bodies can at all after
their own manner receive that Food which is wholly spiritual: nor that
the visible element in a Sacrament gives to our bodies any hold upon
the invisible grace, any power to appropriate to themselves by their
own proper energies that which is incorporeal and supra-sensuous.
'Only the soul or spirit of man can take in and feed upon a spiritual
nutriment[403]:' it is only (so far as our thoughts can go) through
the avenue, by the medium of the faithful soul that the spiritual
force of the Sacrament can penetrate to the body. But the fact that
the spiritual virtue comes to us under a form of which our bodily
senses take cognizance is at least a pledge that the body is not
forgotten in the work of sanctification. And it is something more than
this:--it is an assurance of that invasion and penetration of the
material by the spiritual which is the very ground of all our hope for
the redemption of the body. There is in the very nature of a Sacrament
the forecast of some such hope as this:--that He who said of the
material bread 'This is My Body,' may, in His own time, through
changes which we cannot imagine, take to Himself and lift into the
transfiguring realm of spirit our material bodies as well as our
souls; seizing, disclosing, perfecting capacities which under their
present conditions we hardly suspect in them. And, perhaps, yet more
than this may be said: for there would seem to be warrant for trusting
that, in spite of all hindrance and delay, His word of power even now
goes forth towards this work, and in the holy Eucharist has its
efficacy throughout our whole nature. It is the thought to which
Hooker points in words of endless import: 'there ensueth a kind of
transubstantiation in us, a true change both of soul and body, an
alteration from death to life;' words which rest on those of
S. Irenaeus: 'As bread from the earth receiving the invocation of God
is no longer common bread but the Eucharist, consisting of two things,
an earthly and a heavenly; so our bodies also receiving the Eucharist
are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the Resurrection[404].'
Alike in us and in the Sacrament the powers of the world to come
invade the present, and already move towards the victory which shall
be hereafter.

(3) And thus, in the third place, the ministry of Sacraments is a
perpetual prophecy of the glory that shall be revealed in us; the
glory that shall pervade and transfigure our whole being. 'Till He
come;' 'until His coming again;' that note of expectancy, of looking
towards the east and watching for the return of a great light,
discloses a deep truth about the Christian Sacraments. They sanction
and confirm, as ever-present witnesses of a Divine assent, certain
thoughts which will not let men rest in any low contentment with the
things of time--with the approval, the success, the gratification, or
the systems of this world. They declare with a perpetual insistence
the mysteriousness of our present being: they have a certain
fellowship with those strange flashes and pulsations we have felt of a
life which seems astray and alien here, which yet somehow suggests the
thought that could we commit ourselves wholly to its guidance, could
we be replenished with its power, we should not walk in darkness, but
rather, even in this world, be as the children of light:--and so they
take the side of faith and patience against the attractions of
completeness and security and achievement and repose. For they offer
to guide into the way of peace, to welcome into an ordered, hallowed,
course of loving service and of steady growth, those passing thrills
of an intenser life, which if they be forgotten, denied,
misunderstood, or surrendered to the abuse of wilfulness and vanity,
may so subtly and terribly be unto us an occasion of falling.

It is given sometimes to a poet to sink a shaft, as it were, into the
very depths of the inner life: to penetrate its secret treasuries, and
to return, Prometheus-like, with a gift of fire and of light to men.
The venturesome words that record such a moment of penetration and
insight never lose their power: they seem to have caught something of
the everlasting freshness of that world of which they speak: and one
man after another may find in them, at some time of need or gladness
or awakening, the utterance of thoughts which else he might have been
too shy or too faint-hearted to acknowledge even to himself. There is
such a splendid venture of courage for the truth's sake in those lines
of Wordsworth which surely no familiarity can deprive of their claim
to reverence and gratitude; the lines in which he tells his

        For those obstinate questionings
      Of sense and outward things,
      Fallings from us, vanishings;
      Blank misgivings of a creature
  Moving about in worlds not realized,
  High instincts before which our mortal nature
  Did tremble like a guilty thing surprized:
      .... Those first affections,
        Those shadowy recollections,
      Which, be they what they may,
  Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
  Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
      Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
  Our noisy years seem moments in the being
  Of the eternal Silence.

It may be doubted, whether any life is left wholly unvisited by some
misgiving, some dim, faltering instinct, some pulse of hope or sorrow,
which is akin to that which these words disclose; and the moments of
such visitation are the supreme opportunities of a human soul, the
crises of its tragedy. Then the things that belong to its peace are
being proffered to it; then the Sibyl stands before it with the
treasures of unimagined wisdom. We rise, and we live and grow and see
by the right understanding and employment of such moments; by the
fresh acts of self-committal which they render possible: and in all
the infinite pathos of this world there is no misery comparable with
this--that they should cease to trouble us. Whatever a man may believe
or disbelieve, he will do well to trust these moments when they come:
and, perhaps, if he has grace to know and use them, he may be nearer
to the kingdom of God than he at all suspects. But Christianity does
not leave such 'shoots of everlastingness' wholly unexplained or
unprovided for.

They are in truth the fountain light of all our seeing, for they are
the disclosure, the assertion, the stepping forward of His presence
who alone sustains our life, our thought, our love. And, being this,
they are therefore also the tokens, the emerging witness of a work
that has begun in us, a life that is astir, a process of change that
may be carried forward to an issue which, even faintly surmised, might
make all other desire die away in us.

That we should be perfectly set free from sin; that God should so
dwell in us and pervade our whole being that no part should lag behind
the other; that whatsoever weakness or reluctance or coarseness may
have clung about the body here should utterly pass away, being driven
back by the victorious onset of the Spirit of God, claiming us wholly,
body, soul, and spirit for His own; that whatsoever pure and true
delight has here engaged us should be found, faultless and unwearied,
in that energy which shall be at once our work and our rest for
ever;--this is how Christianity represents to us the end of our
development: and if indeed the powers which are to achieve so vast a
change are already setting about their work in us, it is not strange
that we should be disturbed now and then with some suspicion of it. We
may understand alike the severity of external discipline, and the
sharp disturbance and upheaval of anything like complacency, in a
nature that is being here led on towards so splendid and inconceivable
a transfiguration.

But Christianity does not merely declare to us the origin and meaning
of these strange invasions of our ordinary life; these emergings, as
it were, of that which is behind our normal activity, when the light,
the strength, the love in which alone we live seems to push aside the
curtain on which the background of our daily life is painted, and to
appear unveiled among the things of time. He who telleth the number of
the stars and calleth them all by their names, He who sendeth the
springs into the valleys, and sweetly and mightily ordereth all
things; He would not have these moments of intenser life, of keener
consciousness, of quicker and more excellent growth, to be precarious
and unaccountable, to be abrupt and arbitrary as the rush of the
meteor which is gone before the eye has clearly seen it, or could use
its light. They come from Him; they are the moments in which He makes
His power to be known; in which His hand is felt, and His voice
pervades the soul; the moments when His presence advances, as it were,
and bends over us, and we know that it is He, Himself. And must we
merely wait in blank and idle helplessness for that which we so
greatly need; for that which is our only source of strength and
growth? Must we wait, flagging and fruitless, with just a vague hope
that the quickening presence may chance to visit us again, lighting on
us with arbitrary beneficence, as the insect lights upon the plant,
that it may bring forth fruit in due season? Must we wonder through
days and months, yes, and through years perhaps of dim and desolate
bewilderment, whether it was a real presence that came to us; with
nothing but the fading memory of an individual and unconfirmed
impression to sustain our hope, to keep the door against the gathering
forces of doubt and worldliness and despair? Must we find our way as
best we can, by guidance given long ago, imperfectly realized even
then, and more and more hazily remembered, more drearily inadequate as
time goes on, and the path grows rougher and less clear? Is the
greatest effort to be demanded of us just when our strength is least
and our light lowest[405]? Surely it is not His way to be thus
arbitrary in compassion, thus desultory and precarious in shewing
mercy. Surely He would not have us stray and faint and suffer thus.
No, His compassions fail not; and, with the orderliness of a father's
love, He has made us sure of all we need; and the historic Church and
the triumphs of His saints declare that He is true. He has, with the
certainty of His own unchanging word, promised that the unseen gift,
which is the power of saintliness in sinful man, shall be given to all
faithful, humble souls by ordered means through appointed acts. We
need not vaguely hope that we may somehow receive His grace; for He
has told us where and how we are to find it, and what are the
conditions of its unhindered entrance into our souls. We need not be
always going back to wonder whether our sins have been forgiven, or
laboriously stirring up the glow of a past conviction; for there is a
ministry which He has empowered to convey to us that cleansing glory
which is ever ready to transfigure penitence into peace and
thanksgiving. We need not live an utterly unequal life, stumbling to
and fro between our ideal and our caricature[406]; for He has prepared
for us a way which leads from strength to strength; and we know where
He is ready to meet us and to replenish us with life and light. There
is a glory that shall be revealed in us; and here on earth we may so
draw near and take it to ourselves that its quiet incoming tide may
more and more pervade our being; with radiance ever steadier and more
transforming; till, in this world and beyond it, He has made a perfect
work: till we are wholly ruled and gladdened by His presence, and
wholly wrought into His image. For not by vague waves of feeling or by
moments of experience which admit no certain measure, no unvarying
test, no objective verification, but by an actual change, a cleansing
and renewal of our manhood, a transformation which we can mark in
human lives and human faces, or trace in that strange trait of
saintliness which Christianity has wrought into the rough fabric of
human history, may the reality of Sacramental grace be known on earth;
known clearly enough, at all events, to make us hopeful about its
perfect work in those who shall hereafter be presented faultless in
body, soul and spirit before the throne of God.

[377] In _Rabbi Ben Ezra_ the true measure of such work's beneficence
is shewn:--

            Not on the vulgar mass
            Called 'work,' must sentence pass,
  Things done, that took the eye and had the price;
            O'er which, from level stand,
            The low world laid its hand,
  Found straightway to its mind, could value in a trice:

            But all the world's coarse thumb
            And finger failed to plumb,
  So passed in making up the main account;
            All instincts immature,
            All purposes unsure,
  That weighed not as his work, yet swelled the man's amount.

[378] Cf. A. Knox, _Remains_, ii. 138.

[379] Cf. Plato, _Phaedo_, 85 C, D.

[380] H. P. Liddon, _Some Elements of Religion_, pp. 116, 117. Cf. the
wonderful ventu