Skip to main content

Full text of "G. K. Chesterton"

See other formats

G.  K.   CHESTERTON                              9
to recognize that there was a right which was opposed to
this wrong. He was to that extent in constant conflict with
himself, and such a conflict could only be explained if we
understood that he was now something different from what
he was made to be—if we understood and accepted, that is
to say, the Christian doctrine of the Fall. Original sin was
the sole firm ground of optimism. If man, as he is, was all
that man could be, there was no alternative to despair. But
if man had fallen and had been redeemed, then there was a
sure basis for Christian hope. Christianity, he argued, was
not the alternative and the antagonist of other faiths. On
the contrary, it offered to Man all that the other faiths and
philosophies could offer but also offered something more
as well. He wrote :
That a good man may have his back to the wall is no more
than we knew already ; but that God could have his back to-
the wall is a boast for all insurgents for ever. Christiajiity is
the only religion on earth that has felt that omnipotence made
God incomplete. Christianity alone has felt that God, to be,
wholly God, must have been a rebel as well as a king. Alone
of all creeds, Christianity has added courage to the virtues of
the Creator. For the only courage worth calling courage must
necessarily mean that the soul passes a breaking point—and does
not break. In this indeed I approach a matter more dark and
awful than it is easy to discuss; and I apologize in advance if
any of my phrases fall wrong or seem irreverent touching a
matter which the greatest saints and thinkers have justly feared
to approach. But in that terrific tale of the Passion there is a
distinct emotional suggestion that the author of all things (in
some unthinkable way) went not only through agony, but
through doubt. It is written, * Thou shalt not tempt the Lord
thy God'. No ; but the Lord thy God may tempt Himself;.
and it seems as if this was what happened in Gethsemane. In
a garden Satan tempted man : and in a garden God tempted
God. He passed in some superhuman manner through our
human horror of pessimism. When the world shook and the
sun was wiped out of heaven, it was not at the crucifixion, but at
the cry from the Cross : the cry which confessed that God was1