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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

"j    Reconciliation                 351

vague ideas as to what the Christian religion is, much less
does she require us to practise it. She is quite satisfied if
we do not obtrude our disbelief in it in an offensive manner.
Surely this is no very grievous burden.

Sanctified by Faith

No matter how great a fraud a thing may have been or be,
if it has passed through many minds an aroma of life attaches
to it and it must be handled with a certain reverence. A thing
or a thought becomes hallowed if it has been long and strongly
believed in, for veneration, after a time, seems to get into the
thing venerated. Look at Delphi—fraud of frauds, yet sancti-
fied by centuries of hope and fear and faith. If greater
knowledge shows Christianity to have been founded upon
error, still greater knowledge shows that it was aiming at a
truth.

Ourselves and the Clergy

As regards the best of the clergy, whether English or
foreign, I feel that they and we mean in substance the same
thing, and that the difference is only about the way this
thing should be put and the evidence on which it should be
considered to rest.

We say that they jeopardise the acceptance of the prin-
ciples which they and we alike cordially regard as fundamental
by basing them on assertions which a little investigation shows
to be untenable. They reply that by declaring the assertions
to be untenable we jeopardise the principles. We answer that
this is not so and that moreover we can find better, safer and
more obvious assertions on which to base them.

The Rules of Life

Whether it is right to say that one believes in God and
Christianity without intending what one knows the hearer in-
tends one to intend depends on how much or how little the
hearer can understand. Life is not an exact science, it is
an art. Just as the contention, excellent so far as it goes,
that each is to do what is right in his own eyes leads, when
ridden to death, to anarchy and chaos, so the contention