326 First Principles
walking over ploughed fields and sowing the corn broadcast
—but it is God who made the man who goes about with the
bag, and who makes the corn sprout, for we do not follow
the processes that take place here.
As long as we knew nothing about what caused this or that
weather we used to ascribe it to God's direct action and pray
him to change it according to our wants : now that we know
more about the weather there is a growing disinclination
among clergymen to pray for rain or dry weather, while
laymen look to nothing but the barometer. So people do
not say God has shown them this or that when they have
just seen it in the newspapers; they would only say that
God had shown it them if it had come into their heads suddenly
and after they had tried long and vainly to get at this par-
To lament that we cannot be more conscious of God and
understand him better is much like lamenting that we are
not more conscious of our circulation and digestion. Pro-
vided we live according to familiar laws of health, the less
we think about circulation and digestion tne better; and so
with the ordinary rules of good conduct, the less we think
about God the better.
To know God better is only to realise more fully how
impossible it is that we should ever know him at all. I
cannot tell which is the more childish—to deny him, or to
attempt to define him.
Scylla and Charybdis
They are everywhere. Just now coming up Great Russell
Street I loitered outside a print shop. There they were as
usual—Hogarth's Idle and Virtuous Apprentices. The idle
apprentice is certainly Scylla, but is not the virtuous ap-
prentice just as much Charybdis? Is he so greatly prefer-
able ? Is not the right thing somewhere between the two ?
And does not the art of good living consist mainly in a1 fine
perception of when to edge towards the idle and when to-
wards the virtuous apprentice ?
When John Bunyan (or Richard Baxter, or whoever it
was) said " There went John Bunyan, but for the grace of
God " (or whatever he did say), had he a right to be so cock-